Lift up your dog’s lip. Take a good look—and smell—of his mouth. Is there any yellowish, brownish or grayish gunk on his teeth? That’s tartar (also called calculus). Is there a bad odor (more than normal doggy breath)? That’s halitosis. Are the gums red or bleeding? That’s gingivitis.
Dental care is as important for our pets as it is for us. Think about it this way: we brush our teeth twice daily, floss, and maybe rinse with mouthwash, but we still need a professional cleaning at the dentist’s office every 6 months. Our dogs don’t brush their teeth unless we do it for them, and many pet owners never brush their dogs’ teeth. So it’s no wonder that they get serious dental problems requiring veterinary care.
For humans, our biggest dental problems are usually cavities. Dogs generally don’t have a problem with cavities but they have other serious issues:
- Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gum tissue.
- Periodontal disease: Inflammation and infection of the bone around the teeth. This can lead to loose teeth, pain, inflammation, bad breath, and tooth loss. Infection from periodontal disease can spread through the bloodstream to the kidneys, heart, and other organs.
- Broken teeth: The canine teeth (fangs) and the carnassial teeth (the big chewing teeth in the back of the mouth) are both prone to fracturing. The shape of the teeth puts them at risk of breaking when the dog is chewing anything hard, like bones, hard toys, sticks, or rocks. When the tooth breaks, the pulp canal (the hollow inside that contains blood vessels and nerves) is exposed. This can be very painful, although dogs tend to be stoic about pain so they may not tell you it hurts.
- Abscesses: Bacteria can travel up inside a broken tooth or around a diseased tooth to set up infection in the jaw. Symptoms are pain, swelling of the jaw or face, and a bloody or pus-like discharge.
The best way to prevent these dental problems is with regular dental care. Brush your dog’s teeth daily with doggy toothpaste. There are many other oral products available: food, sprays, gels, treats, etc. Choose one that has the seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council. See the list of approved products at http://www.vohc.org/accepted_products.htm .
Even with regular tooth brushing at home, your dog will still need periodic professional dental care. Your veterinarian will put your dog under general anesthesia, scale the tartar off the teeth, polish the teeth, probe around each tooth to check for periodontal disease, and examine each tooth for chips, fractures, looseness, etc. If any teeth look suspicious your veterinarian will want to x-ray them, using a dental x-ray machine like your dentist uses. Depending on the problems found, diseased teeth may be pulled (extracted) or treated with medications, sealants, root canals, etc. For more information on doggy dentistry, check out the American Veterinary Dental College at http://www.avdc.org/ownersinfo.html .
“Kennel cough” is a generic term, and rather misleading. It is a contagious illness, but dogs don’t just get it at kennels. They can get it anywhere—at doggy day care, at the pet store, at the park, walking around the block, or even in their own backyards—so “infectious tracheobronchitis” (ITB) or “canine infectious respiratory disease” (CIRD) are better terms.
There are many different infections that target the respiratory tract in dogs. These include viruses (adenovirus, parainfluenza, reovirus, respiratory coronavirus, and others) and bacteria (Bordetella, Mycoplasma, Strep, and others). There may be multiple causes of infection in a single dog.
Vaccines are available against some of the viruses and bacteria but not all of them. Many dog owners think Bordetella is the only cause of canine cough, and assume that if their dog has received its Bordetella vaccine that it will be immune. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. A vaccinated dog may be coughing because:
- It was infected by a different virus or bacteria that isn’t covered by the vaccine.
- No vaccine is 100% effective so occasional infections will still occur.
- It is coughing from a non-infectious cause, like heart problems or bronchitis.
Symptoms of ITB are usually mild. The dog will have a hacking or gagging type of cough that people often describe as “like he has a bone stuck in his throat” or “like she’s trying to hack up a hairball.” Apart from the cough, the dogs usually feel fine, and are active and eating. In rare cases, the infection is more severe and leads to pneumonia, with fever, lethargy, difficulty breathing, and loss of appetite.
Most cases of ITB can be treated symptomatically with oral antibiotics and cough suppressants. Even with treatment, the cough may persist for 2-3 weeks. In severe cases, dogs may need to be hospitalized to receive intravenous fluids, intravenous antibiotics, and oxygen therapy.
Bordetella vaccines are usually given in combination with adenovirus and/or parainfluenza to protect against more causes of cough. The vaccine may be administered by injection, by drops into the nostrils, or by drops into the mouth, depending on your veterinarian’s preference. Even though the Bordetella vaccine isn’t 100% effective, it is still beneficial for dogs who are around other dogs. If you’ll be boarding your dog, a booster vaccine is recommended at least 1-2 weeks before boarding to ensure maximum protection.
Influenza viruses have been in the news recently, from “swine flu” H1N1 to the recent human outbreak in China of avian influenza H7N9. (The H’s and N’s are a way to specifically identify the strain of influenza.) Dogs have a flu strain also, called H3N8.
Canine influenza didn’t exist before 2004. That year, the virus “jumped” from horses (equine influenza) to dogs. The first outbreak was in a racing greyhound kennel in Florida and many dogs died. The virus spread across the country over the next few years. There have been outbreaks at doggy day cares, boarding facilities, pet stores, veterinary hospitals, animal shelters, etc. It is currently considered to be “endemic” (meaning well-established in the local dog population) in urban areas of Pennsylvania, Florida, New York and Colorado.
Like human influenza, canine influenza is highly contagious and targets the respiratory tract. The virus is spread through sneezing, coughing, direct contact with another dog, and from contaminated surfaces and objects (floors, cages, toys, bowls, etc.). A dog can actually spread virus before he starts to show symptoms; this can lead to outbreaks because the dog appears healthy.
Symptoms develop a few days after infection. In mild cases, dogs are still active and eating but may have a mild fever, sneezing, coughing, and watery or mucusy discharge from the nostrils. In more severe cases, a bacterial infection can develop on top of the viral infection, leading to high fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, and pneumonia (lung infection). In rare cases (1-5% of infected dogs) canine flu can be fatal.
Treatment depends on how sick the dog is. Mild cases can be treated symptomatically with oral antibiotics and cough suppressants. For severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic testing, including a blood test to check levels of white blood cells (infection-fighting cells), and chest x-rays to determine if pneumonia is present. Treatment for severe cases may require hospitalization, intravenous fluids, intravenous antibiotics, and oxygen therapy.
There is a vaccine available against canine flu. It is given as two doses initially (2-4 weeks apart) and then annual boosters. It’s important to realize that the dog won’t be immune until about 2 weeks after the second injection, so if you decide to have your dog vaccinated before he goes to a boarding kennel, you’ll need to start at least 4-6 weeks before the kennel stay.
Heartworm Disease in Dogs
Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal infection in dogs (also cats and ferrets). Although it is most common in the Midwest and Southeastern United States, heartworm has been diagnosed in every state. You can see the risk in your state and county on interactive maps at Pets & Parasites: http://www.petsandparasites.org/parasite-prevalence-maps/ .
Heartworm is a parasite—a worm—which is transmitted by mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites the dog, it injects microscopic larval (baby) worms from its saliva into the dog’s bloodstream. The larvae migrate through the dog’s body and grow for six months. Eventually they make their home in the pulmonary arteries (the blood vessels which take blood from the heart to the lungs). The adult worms living in the heart and lungs are over ten inches long! As you can imagine, the presence of worms in the heart causes a lot of problems.
Early in heartworm infection there are usually no symptoms. Later in the course of infection, once irreversible damage has been done to the heart and lungs, symptoms develop: coughing, weakness, reluctance to do normal activities, weight loss, and difficulty breathing. Severe cases can lead to heart failure, with fluid buildup in the belly, collapse, and sudden death.
Heartworm is diagnosed with a blood test that looks for a protein made by the adult worm. This test can show a false negative (meaning the test is negative but the dog is truly infected) in an early infection or if there are only a few worms. Other tests that may be recommended by your veterinarian include a full blood panel, chest x-rays, echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart), and ECG (electrical rhythm of the heart).
Heartworm disease is treated with a drug called melarsomine, which is injected into the muscle of the dog’s back and kills the adult worms. This treatment can be dangerous, because as the worms die, fragments of dead worms can break off and “wash away” through the bloodstream into the lungs, where they can cause clots and sudden death. It’s very important to strictly limit the dog’s activity level for at least a month after the treatment to avoid this.
Because both heartworm infection and melarsomine treatment have potentially serious side effects, it’s much better to prevent the infection in the first place. There are several heartworm preventative medications available: monthly chewable pills, monthly topical applications, and a six-month injection. Many also prevent other parasite infections, including intestinal worms or fleas, depending on the product. Some people only recommend preventative medications during the mosquito season, but for my patients I recommend them year-round because although heartworms aren’t a problem in cold winter, intestinal parasites still are. Also, for my own pets, it is easier for me to remember to give the medication every month rather than to remember to stop in the fall and restart in the spring. Talk to your veterinarian about the best prevention (brand and schedule) for your dog.
Diabetes mellitus, often referred to as just diabetes, usually affects overweight, middle-aged dogs between the ages of 7 and 9 years. It is a condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin. If untreated, diabetes will lead to an early death. Fortunately, treatment is available; you can give your dog insulin by injection to replace that which her body lacks.
The main components of managing your diabetic dog are medication, diet and monitoring. It’s also important to be able to recognize when her blood glucose levels are abnormal, because this can be an emergency.
Insulin is the cornerstone of your dog’s treatment. Virtually all dogs will require injections of insulin twice daily. There is a period after she has been diagnosed where your vet will adjust the exact dose and product to find what works best for her. This means you will need to keep a close watch on her during this time and let your veterinarian know how she is responding to treatment. This period could last days or weeks, but when the dose and frequency of insulin injections are worked out, it will be much easier to manage her.
Your diabetic dog will be healthier if she is in good body condition. If she needs to lose a few pounds, consider using a prescription diet and regulating how much she gets to eat; your veterinarian can help you with this.
A diet with moderate carbohydrate levels and moderate fat content is a good choice. Recent research suggests that there’s no need to feed a high fiber food because there is no clinical benefit to the dog. There are a number of brand-name diets that fit the bill but many of the regular adult maintenance dog foods will also be suitable. Consistency in the timing, amount and type of food is extremely important — any changes to this will affect your dog’s insulin requirements.
Because exercise also has an effect on glucose metabolism, it’s important that her exercise levels are also kept consistent.
You will need to be watchful and look for signs that your dog’s diabetes is not well controlled. There are two potential emergencies related to diabetes mellitus. In one, hypoglycemia, blood sugar levels drift too low. In the other, diabetic ketoacidosis, blood sugar levels rise too high.
Hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose, will happen with an insulin overdose or if your dog’s meal has been excessively delayed. She will appear lethargic, dizzy and very weak. She may also vomit or have seizures. If you suspect hypoglycemia, rub some sugar syrup on her gums, and if she is able to eat, offer a small meal. If vomiting or a seizure has occurred, you will need to get her to an Emergency clinic as soon as possible.
High blood glucose can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, which also manifests as lethargy, dizziness, weakness, vomiting and seizures. You may also detect a smell of acetone on your dog’s breath. This is a medical emergency, and you will need to take her to your vet straight away.
It’s easy to see that monitoring your dog’s glucose levels will be easier if you have a glucometer or urine test strips.
Diabetes mellitus is not necessarily life-threatening to your dog, but it certainly will be life-altering for you. She will need more care and vigilance on your part and that of your family. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for diabetes at this time, but with the right management, she will be able to enjoy a relatively normal lifestyle.
Inflammation is a natural response of your dog’s body to injury, and it is usually helpful. However, sometimes it can cause more harm than good. For example, arthritis is one example in which the body’s natural inflammatory response is causing damage.
If your veterinarian has suggested that your pet is suffering from some form of chronic, low-grade inflammation, you may want to consider supporting prescribed medication with an anti-inflammatory diet.
There are several features of foods that may make them have an anti-inflammatory effect. One is their antioxidant levels, and another is the level of Omega 3 fatty acids they contain. Fiber that supports gut bacterial populations can also exert an anti-inflammatory effect.
There is no real research into what foods have an anti-inflammatory effect in dogs, but there are dietary guidelines that can reduce inflammation in people.
These foods are considered anti-inflammatory; introduce them into your dog’s home-based diet or choose branded food that includes them in their recipes.
- Sweet potatoes and butternut Squash
- Lean protein sources like chicken or fish.
- Fish oil, to increase the proportion of Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fish sources such as sardines and salmon
- Fruits like pineapple, mango and papaya can contain anti-oxidants and fiber.
Just as there are anti-inflammatory foods, there may also be foods that promote inflammation because they contain precursors to inflammatory chemicals that are produced in the body. Grains and Omega 6 fatty acids are considered to be pro-inflammatory; it may be worthwhile seeing if your dog responds to a grain free diet.
Keep in mind that changes to your dog’s diet should be made gradually; as a general rule of thumb, a change in diet should be done over the course of a week.
Other Ways to Reduce Inflammation
Excess weight may be associated with inflammation, so keep your dog lean. On the other hand, exercise can have the opposite effect and reduce inflammation. Whether or not this is clinically significant, your dog would benefit both physically and mentally from losing the extra pounds and going for a good long walk every day.
Finally, don’t ignore anti-inflammatory medications; these are time-tested and clinically proven to reduce inflammation.
The concept of an anti-inflammatory diet is very controversial. Supporters insist that it works, suggesting that there’s no harm in trying it for a few months at the very least. Opponents indicate that there’s little scientific evidence to support the claims made.
If your dog suffers from chronic inflammation, use a combination of treatments that include dietary changes, weight control, exercise and medication. This will give him the best chance of a comfortable life.
Caring For a Dog with Arthritis
Many dogs suffer from arthritis, whether it is because of an injury to a joint, or just because of wear and tear on aging joints. It’s a painful condition that can affect your canine companion’s quality of life. There are several things you can do to make life easier for your arthritic dog, and they don’t take much time or effort on your part.
- Modify your dog’s environment. If you have wood, tile or other slippery flooring, it can be difficult for your dog to walk on. Use rugs and carpets in the main areas of your home so your dog feels more secure on his feet. A ramp can be useful to make it easier to climb stairs. If your dog likes to jump on the couch for a cuddle, then you may want to give him a soft cushion at your feet so he is comfortable but still feels close to you. When it is time for a car trip, a ramp will avoid him trying to jump or scrabble into the car.
- Give him a soft place to sleep. Choose your dog’s bed carefully. It should be easy to get in and out of, and it should keep him off the floor. Hammock beds are good but they may be difficult for an arthritic dog to climb into. A popular bed for dogs with arthritis is an orthopedic foam bed.
- Be realistic about your dog’s weight. If he is carrying a few extra pounds, it’s harder on his sore joints. Put him on a diet so he stays in lean body condition. You can feed him a prescription weight loss food, which will make sure he gets all the nutrients he needs with less calories.
- Consider the use of natural therapies. Supplements can help to keep his joints healthy. Glucosamine, fish oil and green lipped mussel extracts can be very helpful in treating arthritis in dogs. They are very safe and can be used with other treatments if needed. If your dog doesn’t respond well to one supplement, try another one to see if it works better for him. Many people claim that acupuncture makes their arthritic dog feel much better; it is certainly worth a try if you have a veterinary acupuncturist in your area.
- Gentle exercise will help to keep his joints mobile and maintain his muscle bulk. Swimming is an excellent choice because he can exercise without weight bearing. Massage and physical therapy can also be helpful.
- There are few research papers that show laser treatment does work in animals. However, many veterinarians can share their own experiences that suggest it is effective in easing pain in dogs. It appears particularly useful in managing chronic arthritis, as well as sudden injuries such as ligament strains. It has also been used to treat ear inflammation, bladder inflammation, and skin wounds. Wherever there is inflammation, laser treatment may be useful.
- Arthritis is a painful condition, and your dog may benefit greatly from pain relief medication. Some pain relieving drugs can have side effects so it’s important that you know what to expect when you give them to your dog, and that you contact your vet if you think your dog has a problem with them.
Arthritis needn’t ruin your dog’s enjoyment of life. With just a few changes to your lifestyle, and his, he’ll be more mobile and pain free.
If your dog is diagnosed with an uncommon or serious illness, your stress levels will increase and you will want to be absolutely sure that the diagnosis is correct. Your first port of call may be the internet, but Dr Google isn’t always right and you may find yourself becoming more anxious at the results of your internet searches.
Under these circumstances, it’s a much better idea to seek a second opinion from another qualified veterinarian. They can physically examine your dog, look at his test results and come to an independent diagnosis.
A second opinion can also be useful if your vet recommends expensive or invasive treatment. Having your dog examined by a fresh pair of eyes will give you confidence that the suggested treatment will result in the best outcome for your much loved canine companion. By doing this, your decision to invest in that treatment can be validated, or you may decide to choose another way of managing his condition.
If you decide to have your dog examined by another veterinarian, you’ll need your dog’s records. Your vet shouldn’t be offended if you ask for a copy – seeking a second opinion is a common practice and there’s no need to hide your intentions.
Finding another vet to look at your dog won’t be difficult, but you’ll need to find one you are comfortable with. Some people ask their initial vet for recommendations. This may be uncomfortable for you, so ask your friends and family which veterinarian they take their pets to.
If your dog has a complicated condition, it’s nearly always better to get a second opinion from a specialist rather than a standard veterinary clinic. They will have more experience in treating challenging illnesses and may be able to give you a better idea of treatment options and outcomes. Your vet might offer a referral to a specialist without needing to be asked but if not, you’re well within your rights to ask for one. Finding a veterinary specialist to manage a specific disease or ailment can be difficult, so you may need to be prepared to travel further afield. A consultation with a specialist will also be more expensive than what you’d pay to see a general practitioner.
There are some downsides to getting a second opinion. The main one is the cost – you’ll need to pay initial fees as your dog is a new patient at the clinic. Any further tests will also add to your bill. It’s important to remember that there is a very good chance that your first vet’s diagnosis is correct, so be prepared to spend money and not be any further ahead in his treatment.
When your dog needs veterinary care and you need to be absolutely sure that the diagnosis and treatment plan are correct, a second opinion may give you the peace of mind that you seek. It’s a small price to pay to be confident that you’re doing the right thing for your dog.
As the name suggests, Wobbler’s Syndrome (also called Cervical spondylomyelopathy) causes gait abnormalities in dogs. Dogs with this condition can show signs of paralysis or weakness, and they may fall over or appear to slip on the floor. It can affect the hind legs as well as the forelegs, and it can either have a slow and progressive onset or occur suddenly. Sometimes you will even see your dog’s front paws cross over each other creating a very unsteady walk. Often you may notice that the tops of their paws are “scuffed up” from dragging them on the floor. It is also often accompanied by severe neck pain. The symptoms are due to compression and pinching of the spinal cord and nerves of the neck.
Wobbler’s syndrome can strike any dog, but large dogs are more likely to suffer from it, with the Doberman and Great Dane at the top of the list. My nine-year old Labrador Retriever Chester has it but none of the vet’s he routinely sees wanted to say it out loud because it is not as common in Labs.
Wobbler’s syndrome affects two groups of dogs. One is young dogs of large breeds, and it tends to be caused by a developmental abnormality of the vertebrae in the neck. The other group is older dogs, mainly Doberman Pinschers, and is associated with instability of the vertebrae and disease of the intervertebral disc.
But not all unsteady gaits means your dog may have wobblers. In Chester’s case he also had anaplasmosis (a tick borne illness) which is treated with antibiotics. He still had wobblers but his condition improved significantly once he started antibiotics.
How is Wobbler’s Diagnosed and Treated?
Your veterinarian will suspect Wobbler’s syndrome based on your pet’s age, breed and symptoms but diagnostic tests are usually needed to confirm it. An x-ray may be suggestive, but a myelogram or an MRI are the best ways of detecting any narrowing of the spinal canal that is affecting the spinal cord.
There is no single treatment for Wobbler’s syndrome because there are a number of causes of the condition but it generally falls into two categories, medical management and surgery. Treatment options are aimed at easing pressure on the section of the spinal cord that is compressed. Often, if your dog’s symptoms are mild, your veterinarian may start conservatively using medical management. This would involve extensive cage rest; a neck brace, use of a harness instead of a collar; and anti-inflammatory drugs, typically corticosteroids (such as Prednisone). Acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, gold bead implants and physiotherapy are natural therapies you may also want to explore.
Often, though, Wobbler’s needs surgery. A variety of surgical options exist — and newer methods continue to be researched — but they all aim to “decompress” the spinal cord and provide support to the spine to avoid recurrence. Recovery after surgery can take quite some time, and the outcome varies. The prognosis is better if your dog can walk before his operation; patients that are completely paralyzed may not respond as well.
Living with Wobbler’s Syndrome
Once a dog has had treatment for Wobbler’s syndrome, he can be at increased risk of developing a similar problem in other parts of his neck. There are things you can do to reduce the risk of recurrence.
- Be careful with vigorous exercise. Your dog should be exercised on a leash.
- Use a neck brace in situations where your dog may get over-excited. A neck brace will restrict the movement of his neck, reducing the chances of further injury. It also increases your dog’s confidence it walking as his neck is more stable
- Replace his collar with a harness. Wobbler’s is a disease of the neck vertebrae. Walking your dog using a leash attached to a collar will put pressure where it is not needed.
- Provide crate rest. This will allow the inflammation in your dog’s spinal cord to subside.
- Use medication as directed. Your veterinarian may prescribe medication and you should give it to your dog according to their instructions.
- Use a raised dog bowl for feeding and water so that they do not have to bend their neck down potentially causing pain.
Wobbler’s syndrome can be difficult and expensive to manage. However, with the right type of medical or surgical treatment, a dog with Wobbler’s syndrome can enjoy a relatively normal healthy life.
Knee injuries are one of the most common orthopedic ailments affecting dogs. The cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), also called the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), is very important in stabilizing the knee joint, and when it is damaged, it hurts! It’s likely that any dog with a sudden lameness in one hind leg has ruptured that ligament.
There are two distinct types of dogs that suffer from a ruptured cruciate ligament. The first is the young active dog that runs and plays hard, and injures his knee. The other is the older dog, often overweight, and over the years his cruciate ligament has stretched and become weaker. The ligament can partially tear, but this may not be easy to detect until it completely ruptures. These dogs may present with a low grade chronic lameness that becomes suddenly worse when the ligament ruptures.
But there are also “sports injuries”. My Chester had a traumatic tear of his CCL when running and his paw got caught in a hole in the field.
There have been suggestions that neutering at a young age may predispose to cruciate ligament injuries, because it changes the way the bones grow and affects the conformation of the knee.
There is no “best way” to treat a ruptured CCL. A number of treatments are available, broadly split into surgical or conservative methods and your veterinarian will help you decide on what’s best for your dog.
Surgical methods are aimed at adjusting the angle of the main bones involved in the knee joint so that there is less reliance on the cruciate ligament for stability. Other techniques involve using synthetic materials to replace the ligament. Specifics of surgical techniques vary, with no significant differences among them in terms of outcome.
Surgery usually results in a better outcome particularly for larger dogs, but it is more expensive. You need to also be aware that any surgery has risks, such as adverse reactions to anesthesia or infection of the wound to name a few.
Conservative treatment is aimed at supporting your dog’s body and helping it to heal itself. It is more affordable and smaller dogs (less than 30lbs) will usually recover well with time. It can take several months of care before the best results of this type of treatment will be seen.
The specifics of conservative treatment vary from practitioner to practitioner, but the general guidelines are as follows:
- Strict rest for 8 weeks or longer. This means that your dog needs to be confined to a small area and taken outside to go to the toilet on a leash. After this time, you can gently ease him into a more active lifestyle. Hydrotherapy is excellent for exercising his joint without him needing to bear weight on it.
- Weight loss. If your dog is at all overweight, this will put extra stress on his injured joint.
- Acupuncture can help with pain relief, but it’s likely that your dog will benefit from some anti-inflammatory medication. Be aware that if he feels better, he may want to use his leg and he may do even more damage, so keep him confined.
- Joint supplements such as glucosamine and green lipped mussel extract can be useful.
- Physical therapy with passive range of motion exercises will keep his joint flexible.
- Some people like to use a brace to support their dog’s injured knee.
Rupture of the CCL is the most common orthopedic injury in dogs. Conservative treatment works very well for small dogs, but its track record with larger dogs is mixed. However, there is no harm in attempting conservative treatment with a large dog, then electing surgery in a few months if your dog is not recovering as well as you’d like.
For additional information on Conservative Management for CCL/ACL tears see http://dogkneeinjury.com/
OK so this is a shameless plug for my Ebook: Raising Healthy, Happy Dogs: Help Your Dog To Enjoy Good Health And Live A Full Life. It is a beginners guide for raising dogs. As a dog owner, you want to raise your dog to be in good health and enjoy life to the fullest. To do this, you need to become familiar with the characteristics of a healthy dog. This eBook will provide guidelines to help you assure that your beloved pet has the proper care in order to live a full, healthy, happy life.
Filled with helpful information, this eBook will encourage you to provide the very best care and love for your dog. A gallery of “dog photos” adds delight to the contents of this beautiful eBook.
Proceeds from the sale of this eBook will be donated to the Baker Institute for Animal Health, a part of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, whose mission is to improve animal health through basic and applied research.
If you have not already downloaded the book, or gifted it to a friend, why not do it now? For each book sold, Amazon credits me with $1.95 royalties, all of it going to Baker Institute. But I will also match that $1.95, and my day job matches my charitable contributions. So each $2.99 book sale generates $7.80 for charity.
You do not even need a Kindle to read it. Amazon has free software you can download to view it on a PC, iPad or other types of devices.
Here is the link if you want to purchase. Thanks
The feeling of welcoming a homeless dog into your family home is very rewarding. While these dogs make wonderful pets, it’s important to take your time when choosing a rescue dog as your next canine family member. Many owners rush this process because they are keen to adopt a dog from the shelter, but you need to put the same amount of planning into adoption as you would when buying a dog from a breeder.
Many people put in hours of research when buying a dog from a breeder, but don’t do this when adopting from a shelter. Before you start looking at dogs to adopt, you should have researched the different dog breeds and characteristics and have a list of features that best suit your lifestyle. Do you like walking and can you provide enough exercise for an active breed? Are you able to spend as much time brushing your dog’s hair as you do your own? Your lifestyle should dictate which type of dog is right for you, whether you adopt from a rescue group or buy from a registered breeder. If you get it wrong, you’ll be miserable and so will your dog.
Many people buy dogs without understanding how much time they require. Other owners are forced to give up their dog due to changes in their circumstances, such as divorce or moving house. This means that most dogs in rescue aren’t there because they’re aggressive or difficult to control. However, one behavioral issue that you may have to deal with when you adopt a rescue dog is anxiety; some individuals don’t cope well with the change from their home to a noisy shelter and then to a new unfamiliar home with unfamiliar people. This anxiety can lead to nuisance behaviors such as barking when left alone and loss of toilet training. You will need to be prepared to help your adopted dog settle into your home, and work with him to manage any anxiety related behaviors.
If you do your homework before you visit the animal shelter, you’ll know exactly what type of dog you’re looking for and will be less likely to be swayed by a pair of soft brown eyes. You won’t necessarily find a dog of an exact breed, but if you have a list of essential characteristics for your dog, you can then ask the shelter to help you find a match. If a prospective adoptee has had a short-term foster home, you should be able to speak with his foster owners about his temperament and behavior, and this can be extremely helpful in making your final decision.
A carefully chosen dog, whether from a breeder or a shelter, will give you years of joy and loyal companionship. So do your homework before bringing him home. After all, you’re going to share your life with him for the next twelve or so years.
The holiday season is a time of goodwill, for sharing a meal with friends and family and exchanging gifts with those you love. The last thing you want to do is to spend it at the emergency clinic with your dog! There are several potential issues that can affect your dog over Christmas.
You’ll be enjoying a lot of rich food over Christmas, so your dog can enjoy it too – right? Wrong. Too much rich fatty food such as ham can cause pancreatitis in dogs. Your dog will go off his food, develop a fever and start to vomit. He’ll also have a terrible tummy ache. Pancreatitis needs urgent veterinary attention which can be expensive if you need to visit an after-hours hospital, and it can be fatal. Stick to your dog’s regular diet with perhaps just a few lean treats from time to time.
Poinsettia, mistletoe and holly are popular plants that add a festive appearance to your home and garden. If your dog has a nibble on any of them, he may develop signs of gastroenteritis, with vomiting and diarrhea.
Those pretty ribbons around the gifts and the sparkling tinsel on the Christmas tree can make your dog very sick indeed. If he should swallow them, they can form what’s known as a linear foreign body. The ribbon causes the intestines to collapse, and this can cut the wall of the bowel and even interfere with its blood supply. The result is a seriously ill dog that will need surgery to help him to recover.
Glass ornaments on the tree may also fall and break and the shards can cut your dog’s feet. Ideally, keep all ribbons and ornaments away from him and keep him away from the tree with a decorative barrier.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the festive season, in particular New Year’s Eve, is the fireworks. Your dog may not agree. The sounds, smells and flashing lights of a fireworks display can be terrifying to some dogs, and they may run away in their attempts to escape. If your dog is an outside dog, bring him indoors and lock him away safely until the light show is over. For outdoor dogs, make sure your fencing is secure and just in case he does make a break for freedom, keep the details on his identity tag and microchip up to date.
Christmas is a time for getting together with friends and family. Your house may be noisier than usual and your dog may become anxious at the number of unfamiliar people coming and going. He needs a place of his own where he can escape to when he feels stressed. This may be his crate, or it may be a separate room in your home. Either way, make sure your guests know that when he is in his safe place, he shouldn’t be disturbed.
Don’t let the Christmas festivities play havoc with your dog’s physical and mental well-being. With a little forethought and planning, he too can enjoy a safe and stress-free holiday season.
Don’t let the winter weather get in the way of having fun with your dog. Here are some suggestions that will help you care for him during the colder months.
- You can still go for a stroll with your dog in winter, but you’ll need to take some precautions. Watch for little balls of ice forming between his pads, as these can be painful to walk on. You may want to buy him some protective booties while there is snow on the ground. Make sure you wipe his feet and body dry after his walk. If you find that it’s dark when you go for your walk, stick to well lit and familiar pathways and wear a reflective jacket. If possible, particularly if you are female, walk with a friend.
- Buy your dog a coat to wear when the temperatures are low, particularly if he is a short coated breed. If your dog’s coat is usually kept short, let it grow longer over winter, and this will help to keep him warm.
- One of the most frustrating things about winter is that some dogs just don’t want to leave your warm home when they need to go to the toilet. You may need to put your dog on a leash and physically take him out to potty. It can be particularly challenging to toilet train a puppy when it’s cold outside. If this becomes a problem for you, then you may want to use toilet training pads for a little while until it gets a bit warmer.
- Arthritic joints are often more painful during the colder months. If your canine senior citizen is stiff and sore, think about giving him a soft orthopedic bed to lie on, and chat to your vet about whether some anti-inflammatory medication would help him.
- If the temperatures in your area regularly drop below freezing, keep an eye on your dog’s water bowl. If it freezes over, he won’t be able to drink. Think about buying a heated water bowl that prevents freezing but doesn’t warm the water up.
- Some parts of the country have snowstorms and it’s not easy to get out to the shopping mall. If you’re in such an area, stock up on some extra food and water for your dog as well as yourself. Don’t forget, if he is on any medication, keep some spare just in case you can’t get to your veterinarian for a prescription refill. You may not need the spare food and medication but that’s much better than needing it and not being able to get any.
- If the weather is really bad and you just can’t get outside to play with your dog, you can still exercise his body and mind indoors. Play hide and seek with a favorite toy, or set up a small hurdle in your hallway and teach him to jump. Trick training is a great way to stimulate his mind and you can do that just about anywhere.
Cold winter weather may mean that you need to think more about how to look after your dog, but you can both still have fun and stay safe until spring arrives.
A canine urinary tract infection is an infection of any of the components of the urinary tract, including the urethra, bladder, ureters and kidneys. Bacteria move from the outside of the body, up the urethra, which is the tube carrying urine from the bladder to outside, and into the bladder and beyond. Symptoms include straining to urinate, frequently passing small amounts of urine and even blood in the urine.
Dogs of any age, breed or gender can get a urinary tract infection. However, because females have a shorter urethra, they tend to be more prone to them.
Immune-compromised dogs, including old dogs, are also more likely to get an infection. Also, any condition that reduces urinary flow increases the chances of infection. This is because the flow of urine usually flushes out any ascending bacteria before it has the chance to cause problems.
Diabetes also increases the possibility of infection because sugar in the urine acts as a nutrient for bacteria, allowing them to multiply faster.
How do Cranberries Help?
Studies have suggested that cranberries are not reliably effective in treating urinary tract infection once it is established. Its main use is in prevention of infection in the first place.
Doctors now believe that the main effect of cranberries is to reduce the ability of bacteria to attach to the wall of the urethra and bladder. This results in an increased chance of the bacteria being flushed out during urination.
Veterinarians currently recommend that if your dog has a urinary tract infection, you treat it appropriately with antibiotics to clear it up, and then continue with a cranberry extract to prevent it recurring.
Your dog may not enjoy drinking cranberry juice as much as you do, but he may like to eat the berries. Unfortunately, there’s no specific dose rate for juice and berries when it comes to preventing urinary tract infections.
You can give him all the benefits of cranberry through its extracts that are sold in tablets, capsules and powder form. Cranberry Relief, Cranberry Wellness, and Cranberry Comfort are all products that are specifically designed for your dog.
It’s important that if your dog is showing signs of a urinary tract infection, that you have him checked by your veterinarian before treating him yourself with cranberry products. If the infection isn’t controlled, it can move further up the urinary tract and become much worse. Not only that, but there are other medical conditions that can mimic a urinary tract infection, and these may need some diagnostic tests and a different treatment.
Cranberry extracts could well help keep your dog’s urinary tract infections at bay, but seeking proper medical attention is always wise. If you are looking to purchase any supplements or cranberry extracts, try the Only Natural Pet Store.
Homeopathy, believed to have been first used in the 1800s, is a branch of alternative medicine that has fairly widespread appeal. While conventional medicine tends to be used as a tactical weapon — targeted and specific to the ailment — homeopathic remedies usually work by improving the body’s natural defenses; consequently, many see them as treatments that are useful in improving overall health.
Canine stomach upsets are extremely common because of the very nature of dogs — they explore their world by tasting. Most are transitory events, but it is possible that symptoms of a stomach upset are due to a more serious illness. No matter what the cause, homeopathic medications may help in their treatment.
The most common signs of a stomach upset in your pet include:
- Loss of appetite
- Listlessness and apathy
- Vomiting or Dry Heaving
- Eating Grass
Before you treat your dog with any homeopathic remedies, it’s important that you seek advice from a veterinarian with expertise in alternative medicines.
There are many possible homeopathic treatments, but here is a list of commonly used remedies for stomach upsets in dogs.
- Arsenic is commonly used by homeopaths to tackle digestive disorders. Other useful remedies are Plantain, sulphur and Podophyllum. These are a good combination if your highly-strung pet has frequent digestive problems due to stress or anxiety.
- Natrium muriaticum (sea salt) treats constipation and improves overall digestive health.
- Nux vomica 30 is useful in the treatment of an over-eating episode.
- Staphysagria 30 or 200 can help if your dog has indigestion.
When you are using homeopathic treatments on your dog, carefully read and follow the label instructions. In general, use one medication at a time, unless you have been advised otherwise.
Often, the best approach to take to deal with your pet’s upset stomach is to do nothing. Keep her off food, skip the walk, let her sleep, and ensure that she has access to water. If she appears hungry, provide her with something bland — boiled rice and lean chicken mince is a good choice.
A final word of caution: there are some signs of upset stomach that are also common to other more serious issues — like gastric torsion, more commonly know as bloat, or foreign body ingestion. You know your dog best; use your judgment in deciding whether to delay a visit to your veterinarian in favor of a home-based remedy. If in doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so have your dog checked out sooner rather than later.
Does your dog suffer from regular attacks of vomiting, loose stools and indigestion? Adding some pumpkin to his diet may help. Even if he doesn’t have digestive problems, pumpkin can help to regulate his digestive system and make him a healthier, happier dog.
Pumpkin is low in calories while being high in dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Most of its calories comes from carbohydrates, some from protein and very little from fat.
Pumpkin acts as a moderator of the digestive system. It helps in the following ways:
- Reduces Constipation. Because pumpkin is high in water and fiber, it is effective in dealing with constipation where the goal is to hydrate and soften the stool.
- Reduces Diarrhea. Paradoxically, fiber helps with diarrhea as well. Diarrhea is a condition in which the water in the stools is not being absorbed by the body. This makes them very liquid and prone to pass through quickly. Fiber absorbs excess water, reducing the fluidity of the intestinal contents. This slows down its passage giving more time for the body to absorb nutrients, including water.
- Helps with Weight Loss. Pumpkin’s low-calorie bulkiness promotes weight loss which has an effect on your dog’s general health.
How to Feed Pumpkin
Use the flesh of a ripe pumpkin and cook it until it is soft. Mix it into your dog’s kibble or canned food. Some suggest that pumpkin can constitute up to ¼ to ? of the bulk of his meal, but finding the optimum amount for your dog is a matter of trial and error.
Another convenient alternative is to use canned pumpkin. However, this may be a more expensive way of adding pumpkin to your dog’s diet.
Pumpkin cookies are another great way to add more fiber to your dog’s diet. Be careful because pumpkin cookies are often high in calories and your dog may end up with a very generous waistline.
While all the parts of the pumpkin plant are considered edible, your best bet is to stick to the fleshy part of the fruit. This is the most palatable part for your dog.
Also, when introducing something new into your dog’s diet, start slowly. If your aim is to give your dog five tablespoons of pumpkin a day, start with just one. Steadily increase how much your dog gets over a period of two weeks or so until you have reached your target.
Pumpkin is great addition to your dog’s diet. You can reserve its use for when your dog has mild digestive issues, or make it part of his regular diet. As always, remember that there is no substitute for good medical advice; if your dog’s upset stomach is severe or lasts for more than a couple of days, take him in to your veterinarian for a check-up.
Homeopathy is believed to have its origins in the 17th century when a German physician named Hahnemann noticed that some poisons, when given in extremely small doses, appeared to cure illnesses. In addition, he noticed that homeopathic medications did not just target specific disease; instead, they worked to improve the general health of the individual, thus producing a more comprehensive response to the illness.
Canine Eye Infections
An eye infection occurs for quite a few reasons. Sometimes, it is because trauma of some kind has allowed bacteria to multiply in the damaged tissue; in other cases of infection, one or more local defense mechanisms — tears, for example — have been compromised.
The classic signs of a canine eye infection are redness, excessive tear production and abnormal discharge. Your dog will also be uncomfortable and may paw at his eyes. You might also notice that he is avoiding bright lights.
Many homeopathic remedies can be purchased from a number of natural health stores as well as respected online stores. Some of the treatments that you can consider for an eye infection include:
- Eyebright. This may be added to feed or used to create an eye wash. To create the eye wash, boil about 15 grams in two cups of water for about 15 minutes. The active ingredient is Euphrasia officinalis. It is often used to treat conjunctivitis.
- Eye Heal contains a combination of Rosmarinus officinalis and Filipendula ulmaria which have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Arctium lappa has cleansing properties and Chelidonium majus combats infections and promotes healing by boosting the immune system.
- Eye-C contains Zinc and Vitamin C, both of which can help reduce eye irritation.
- Cineraria maritima helps with detoxification of the body. It is also reported to help prevent cataract formation. The active ingredients in Eye See Clearly include Arnica montana, Cineraria maritima, Euphrasia officinalis and others.
How to Use Homeopathy
Like with any other medications, always follow the label instructions. When trying homeopathic remedies, it generally makes sense to try them one at a time. Also keep in mind that “more” is usually not better.
Any medication can cause an allergic reaction. When using a homeopathic remedy for the first time, keep a close watch on your pet. If you think he is being affected, take him to your veterinarian for a checkup.
Eye infections can lead to serious damage, and may affect your dog’s vision. If you see no improvement within 24 hours, take your dog to your veterinarian.
Your pet’s body — as is yours — is in a constant battle against a variety of infectious organisms. Homeopathic remedies help prevent and cure infections by improving the natural ability of his body to fight off these organisms. They can be a useful part of treating eye infections in all species.
So about 10 years ago now, I lost my big dog Cooper to bone cancer. He was a great dog who brought joy to everyone he met. A few weeks after he passed I opened a letter I got in the mail to find that my vet Dr. Benyi made a memorial contribution to the Baker Institute for Animal Health in Cooper’s name. I was just so touched that my big brown boy was memorable enough for a memorial gift from a very busy vet. But I had never heard of the Baker Institute for Animal Health. Well that did not last long.
Baker Institute is a part of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and is one of the oldest research centers dedicated to the study of veterinary infectious diseases, immunology, genetics, and reproduction. And yes, cancer research is big on their list. I have been a contributor ever since. It breaks my heart when I hear about a 3 year old Golden or a 1 year old Rottie pass over early due to cancer. Or dogs stricken with Lyme disease or the more recent scourge, anaplasmosis, another tick borne disease.
But there is just so much one person can do. So at Raising Healthy Dogs we decided to create an e-book and donate 100% of the book royalties to the Baker Institute. It is a beginners guide to raising a healthy and happy dog and while you more experience dog owners may not learn anything new, a purchase of the book or even if you download the book free as an Amazon prime member will generate royalties which will be donated to Baker Institute.
So if you would like to help further research on animal health, please consider buying the ebook. It is a Kindle book but you do not need a Kindle to access it. You can download a free e-reader from various sources, including Amazon or a Kindle app for ipads from the ipad app store.
Here is the link, please help support research on animal health. If you like the book, tell your friends.
Or if you prefer to skip the book and donate directly to the Baker Institute for Animal Health, you can get donation information here:
Thanks for your support!
Though you may read about the many risks of eating fish, you need to take such details with the proverbial grain of salt. Just stop to consider both sides of the argument. The opposition says:
- Fish has mercury
- Fish has easily swallowed bones
- Some fish can lead to health problems.
On the other hand, those in favor of fish in the diet say:
- Fish is full of Omega-3 oils
- Fish is a remarkably healthy source of protein
- Some fish can reduce health problems.
All of this conflicting information can leave the average person dizzy. Things are worse when you are trying to figure out whether it is a good idea to give a beloved dog some fish in order to improve their diet. After all, will you harm or help the dog by adding foods such as sardines to their eating plan?
The answer is fairly simple: you can feed your dog sardines without risking their health, but the key is to feed them salt-free packed in water (not oil).
Here is the basic gist of why sardines are one of the healthiest and safest fish for a dog: they are chock full of Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA. These are great for the skin and the coat, but they also help to reduce inflammation and give a nice boost to the immune system. Thus, the dog with allergies will benefit from sardines as well as a dog with arthritis or some autoimmune conditions too. Because the natural oils in sardines are good for brain health, it is a good idea to supplement a dog (and a puppy’s) diet with the fish too.
Note we just said that sardines are a good supplement. This is the best way to give such a healthy food to a dog. A single sardine averages around 175mg of Omega-3 acids. This means that you can use one water-packed fish as an added treat or mashed into their wet food. If a dog is larger, you can give them two servings safely. You do need to stick with the water-packed varieties as they are lower in sodium and contain only the Omega-3 oils.
Like other fish, you can substitute pink salmon or even mackerel, but always use low-sodium and water packed varieties, and only supplement the diet with these healthy snacks. It is unwise to give dogs a steady diet of fish, but sardines make a nice “extra” to a healthy eating plan.
Vegetables are a vital constituent to any human diet, and the same should be true for dogs. Despite some pretty severe physical differences, dogs and humans aren’t a million miles away from each other biologically. Foods that a healthy for humans, will generally speaking also be beneficial for dogs, although as with any rule there are exceptions.
Common vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, cucumber, peppers and cabbage are all examples of foods that are great for dogs. They contain high levels of essential vitamins and minerals and will be a large step in ensuring your dog has a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Generally the brighter the vegetable, the greater number of vitamins and minerals it will contain, so try and add color to your dog’s meals. If you are ever unsure about a certain vegetable, a quick Google search should give you an answer – just make sure the site is reputable, and get confirmation from multiple sites.
While humans and dogs are similar biologically, we are not identical. The digestive system of a dog does not contain specific substances that break down the walls of raw vegetables. So while it might be fine for you to eat some carrot sticks, the same cannot be said for your dog. To ensure your dog still gets all the benefits of these vegetables, you should either puree them or cook them. Cooking them loses a significant amount of the nutritional value, but at least they will be digested. While dogs can’t digest raw vegetables, in small quantities they are still a great way to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy.
The anatomical differences also mean that some vegetables are poisonous or toxic to dogs. Avocado and raw potatoes are examples of this as they contain chemicals that build up in your dog’s system and will harm them if consumed in large quantities.
If you plan on changing your dog’s diet to incorporate more vegetables, then it’s advisable to do so gradually, as sudden changes to diet can be almost as bad as not changing the diet at all. If you are really unsure, asking your vet will give you a definitive answer for your dog’s specific age and breed.
Yogurt has long been known for its many health benefits to the human digestive tract, but it is also beneficial for dogs too. Just like in the digestive systems of human beings, yogurt’s cultures work many wonders in the bellies of dogs too. This is because dogs all respond well to the presence or addition of probiotic compounds in their systems. These are the millions of bacteria that give yogurt its wonderful texture and taste, but they also help to balance out many problems that can occur in the digestive system of a dog.
We don’t want to overlook the fact that yogurt also gives dogs the wonderful range of nutrients and vitamins too. For example, there is all of that wonderful calcium that will help a dog’s bones and teeth to remain healthy and strong. There are also the many vitamins that will be taken into the dog’s system as the yogurt is digested. This is important to remember because dogs do not have the enzymes required to digest raw fruits and vegetables and the use of yogurt can help them to gain many benefits from the rest of their dietary intake.
There are, however, a few things to always keep in mind when using yogurt as a dietary supplement for your dog:
- Avoid flavored varieties – stick with plain and unsweetened yogurts as the dessert quality yogurts are full of artificial compounds that can easily sicken a dog.
- Avoid the fattiest types – though you may love the “full fat” Greek yogurts, it is best to choose a variety that is “low fat” and which has around 20 calories per ounce. This lets dogs enjoy all of the benefits without worrying too much about weight gain.
- Choose “Live and Active” – do not take for granted that the yogurt has live and active cultures. Read the labels and be sure that you are getting one of the most beneficial ingredients.
- Do a test first – do not assume that your dog has no sensitivities to dairy. Give them a small sample of yogurt to be sure that nothing unpleasant occurs. Yogurt is often a “go to” remedy for dogs with diarrhea or digestive upset, but do not use this approach without being sure it will work.
Following these steps should let you use yogurt to keep your dog comfortable, healthy, and optimally fed!
So today’s post is a real departure from Raising Healthy Dogs’ typical content but is an area that we, as dog owners (and yes we are owners since dogs are considered property) should really think about for the health and safety of our dogs. I am delighted to have received permission to repost this article from Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton, on ways to protect your pups in the event of your death or disability.
Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton is a nationally recognized breeder and exhibitor of Irish Setters and Longhaired Standard Dachshunds. She is also a litigation attorney who saw the light. Debra now focuses her practice on mediation of animal conflicts. By concentrating on this kind of work, Debra helps people, in conflict over animals, reach a party driven solution they may not be able to receive in court. Debra usually does this work in less time and for less money then traditional litigated settlements. The bonus in her style of animal conflict resolution comes when the parties in conflict are able to retain their relationship after the conflict is resolved.
If you are in conflict with someone over an animal, call Debra. See how she may help you resolve your conflict without litigation.
I hope you like this thoughtful article as much as I did.
“I’m not dead yet”
and other considerations for animal owners.
By: Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton, Esq.
I love the scene in Monty Python’s Spamalot when the wagoneer calls, “Bring out your dead”, as he rolls down the street. People bring out their dead and throw them on top of the pile of corpuses. One such causality of the Black Plague is pitched out, then sits up and says, “I’m not dead yet!” It sets up a wonderful song and dance number.
The interesting thing is this refrain is similar to the adage of all animal owners I know. Why should I think about the future care of my dog or horse, or, in the case of well-respected breeders, dogs or horses, if I’m not dead yet? My friends, husband/wife/children will care for them.
I personally have 9 dogs. I co-own many more who live with wonderful caring people. My dogs are all family pets, yet counted among them are breed winners, group winners and Best in Show dogs. I know my husband will care for my dogs if he outlives me, or my two wonderful sons or my cadre of dog friends. Or will they? What happens to 9 dogs in the event I die or become disabled and can no longer care for them? Do I leave it up to happenstance? Or do I take the time now to think about how I see my dogs living if I am not available to care for them. This article talks about having a plan.
Everyone thinks that clause in their will, where they leave instructions for the care of their pets is enough. What if you are “NOT DEAD YET”? Legally, there are two other stand-alone methods, of assuring your beloved animals are taken care of as you intended and in the manner you choose. They are Pet Trusts and Pet Protection Agreements. Rachel Hirschfeld, Esq. in her book, Petriarch, created the latter.
If you are “not dead yet” a clause in your will will not be triggered. This is where the Pet Trust & the Pet Protection Agreement come in. This short article intends to provide basic information for you the animal owner to think about, chew on and hopefully act upon NOW. No you are not “dead yet”, but don’t wait to be dead or disabled to say, oh darn I should have had a plan.
A key component to both a Pet Trust and a Pet Protection Agreement is establishing ownership. Just like the title to a car, the title to a pet needs to be defined, especially when animals are co-owned. With co-ownerships often the ownership of choice by breeders, you must establish ownership for purposes of the Pet Trust or Pet Protection Agreement.
Animals are legally classified as property. Someone must own them in order to claim them as their personal property and decide how they will be cared for at death or disability. Cases have been fought for 10’s of thousands of dollars to retain custody of an animal. Make sure you have a document, signed by all owners/co-owners stating you are the sole owner of the animal for purposes of the Pet Trust or Pet Protection Agreement, regardless of the registration status of your animal. If you cannot obtain this document from your co-owner(s), consider making your co-owner(s) the animals guardian or co- guardian in the Pet Trust or Pet Protection Agreement to retain their place in the animals life and free the animal to be owned by you for purposes of the trust or pet care agreement.
Every pet owner should plan to have a stand-alone Pet Trust for the care of their pets, remaining in their possession, at the time of their death or inability to care for them. In 42 states and the District of Columbia, you can create a Statutory Pet Trust, by mention in your will. Both of these trusts will provide directions, terms of placement and funding for the placement and care of your pets should you die. The stand-alone Pet Trust will cover you if you are no longer able to care for the animal(s). You, in other words, don’t have to be “dead”.
The following are requirements to create a pet trust:
1.) Hire an Attorney
2.) Include funds or property
3.) Appoint a trustee
4.) Appoint a caregiver/pet beneficiary
Hire an attorney to write this pet trust. Use an attorney familiar with writing trusts, not a general practitioner. The terms of a trust are private. The selection of an attorney, whose focus is on Trusts and Estates, will provide you with the confidence necessary to believe (s)he will prepare the trust sufficiently to withstand challenges, will be available to speak to your state of mind when you wrote the trust and be able to confirm your intentions and clarify any questions or confusion as to what you wanted if challenges arise. If the trust is challenged, a finding of fact surrounding the creation of the trust may be required. Having a competent attorney there at the beginning and at the end will give you piece of mind your wishes will be carried out.
Set aside funds &/or property for use on the Animals. Think of it as an expense account for the care of the animals. You fund the trust to cover the expense of caring for your remaining animals for the remainder of their lives. Thankfully for horses and parrots most states have rescinded the law against perpetuity for pet trusts. This law limited trusts to a life in being plus 21 years.
Funds can be provided to the trust by writing a check to the trustee, the trusts bank account or by re-titling real estate into the name of the pet trust. The benefit of creating a stand alone trust to hold these earmarked funds instead of a clause in your will, which you can have as well, is that these funds are available immediately to cover pet expenses and are not subject to probate. Payment of bills for the continued care of your pets can be made promptly.
Appoint a ‘trusted’ Trustee. The trustee for the Pet Trust doesn’t need to be an animal lover, but it helps. The trustee needs to be committed to providing for the animal(s) needs according to the owners direction. The trustee can care for the animal, be in a position to name the person/organization who will care for the animal or follow the directive of the owner on whom (s)he wants to care for the animal. The trustee should be given the ability to name the remainder beneficiary or class of beneficiary upon the death of the last covered animal.
Remember a trustee must be trustworthy. They need to keep your trust funds in a separate account and use them as you intended. Appoint someone whom you know will carry out your wishes and keep the funds safe until they are fully dispersed to the charity of your choice or theirs, upon the death of the last animal.
Additional documents to consider preparing contemporaneously:
Your trust attorney should also prepare a power of attorney, healthy care proxy, organizational release form (which releases any claim to title) and will when (s)he is creating the Pet Trust. It is preferable that these documents are created together to show intent on the part of the animals’ owner to determine how one is to carry out their wishes in the event of their inability or death. All these documents work to their best advantage if they are created in a timely fashion with one another. It shows a clear intent on the part of the owner.
Pet Protection Agreement
This is a document you can complete yourself. It is a fill in the blank document available on www.petriarch.com and was created by Rachel Hirschfeld, Esq. “It is a legally enforceable document between a minimum of two individuals or entities; the pet owner and the pet guardian (which may be an organization), both of whom sign it.” Petriarch by Rachel Hirschfeld, 2010
The pet guardian in the Pet Protection Agreement becomes the animal(s) owner upon the defining event or death of the pet owner. Establishing clear ownership is key to the establishment of an almost foolproof Pet Protection Agreement. You can list a number of pets under one Pet Protection Agreement, however each pet guardian needs to sign a separate Pet Protection Agreement. A party appointed to distribute funds is optional in a Pet Protection Agreement. Leaving funds to cover expenses in a Pet Protection Agreement is optional as well.
Pet Protection Agreements give you the best of all worlds in that, like a trust, the monies can be given to the pet guardian or pet service provider and there is a legal obligation to comply with the pet owners wishes. The Pet Protection Agreement cannot be affected by legislative edict, as a trust can. The agreement meets contract law requirements because someone does something for consideration and so the offer and acceptance is satisfied. Funds can be dispersed during life and the agreement to act is fluid, from one pet guardian to another, all the way to an organization taking on the pet care responsibility, if need be. The one glaring draw back is, if a pet guardian has personal money issues, the monies in the Pet Protection Agreement can be called into play to pay for the debts of the pet care guardian.
The Pet Protection Agreement disperses funds like a will upon the death of the pet owner. The funds can become a debt of the estate; if funds are created by a will they will pass through probate; if they are not mentioned in the will they will not be reviewable. The fact a Pet Protection Agreement is signed in front of a notary makes it as enforceable as the will itself. When making your Pet Protection Agreement take the time to give directions for the care of your animal(s). Don’t assume the appointed pet guardian knows what you want, spell it out and be clear.
Remember when creating a Pet Protection Agreement (www.petriarch.com) fill out all the forms including the simple power of attorney, health care proxy and organizational release form included in the package. They are limited to the continuing care of the owner’s animals, yet are useful add ons in the continued care of your animals.
I hope this short article encourages all of you to think about having a plan. Although we are “Not Dead Yet” we will be someday. Lets not leave the fate of those we leave behind uncertain.
Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton, Esq.
Most of us understand the health benefits of coconut oil: stress relief, lower cholesterol, increased immunity,and enhanced digestion.
Tropical Love for Your Best Friend
I recently started cooking home prepared meals for my dogs and the canine nutritionist who created my recipes included one teaspoon of coconut oil daily. So I thought it would be a good idea to see what the health benefits were for my dog. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found but better still, after a few short weeks, my dog’s fur was extra silky.
The first thing I learned was that virgin coconut oil contains about 90% saturated fat, which is enough for you to shy away from giving some to your dog. However, leading dog health experts consider the saturated fats in virgin coconut oil to be beneficial for canines, since the fats are high in lauric acid, which has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which is the type of saturated fat in virgin coconut oil, increases a dog’s energy level and improves the metabolism rate. This may be reason enough to get your pooch on a diet that includes virgin coconut oil, but we are just getting started on the numerous health benefits of coconut oil for dogs.
Coconut Oil Mitigates Aging Health Issues
Most veterinarians advocate giving your senior canine a soothing orthopedic bed to sleep in and dog stairs for easy access to the couch. We know these things mitigate muscle, joint, and bone pain. How about something that costs much less and has more long-term value.
Studies have proven that a daily regiment of coconut oil in your dog’s diet will alleviate arthritis pain. The same studies demonstrate that coconut oil also reduces the incidence of brain lesions in older dogs. Older dogs tend to gain weight, as we do during the aging process. The enhanced metabolism rate provided by coconut oil lessens the likelihood that you best friend will become larger than the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Dogs that keep the weight off are less likely to incur debilitating diseases, such as diabetes and cancer.
As they age, dogs also incur the same mental health issues that inflict us. Coconut oil is an excellent source of the type of fatty acids (Omega-6) that improve brain cell membrane fluidity. Omega-6 also enhances brain cell communication and some research indicates it has a calming effect on dogs
It’s Not Fleas!
We like to blame the flying pests whenever our dog goes to town scratching his skin. Yet, Eczema and Dermatitis cause the vast majority of dog skin problems. Coconut oil helps clear up these two canine nemeses, as well as treat skin fungal infections. Why stop here? Coconut oil helps heal cuts, insect bites and stings, and open wounds. Have you ever marveled at the shiny coat of your neighbor’s dog? Yes, the shiny coat most likely came from a steady diet of coconut oil.
So if you want to try coconut oil for your dog, head to the nearest organic grocery store or shop online for some virgin coconut oil. Here is a link for the brand I buy. I am not compensated in anyway if you click on this link or order from here. I am just posting so you can see the ingredient list and the exact product specs.
Keep in mind that although coconut oil is a supplement, it does not mean the calories it contain are “free”. Each teaspoon of coconut oil will add about 45 calories to your pups daily diet.
PS: My dog Sophy loves the coconut oil so much, she snatched it off the counter and ate about a cup of it before I could catch her and get it back.
I get a lot of email at Raising Healthy Dogs and one question keeps coming up – how do I know if I am making the right decisions for my dog? The answer is not easy but I always think about my own parents. They were great people who loved me dearly but you know what? They made mistakes. Lots of them. That did not mean they did not care or did not love me any less, it just meant they were acting on the best available advice they had, and living within their resources.
Well it is the same with being parent to a dog. We will all make mistakes. I remember when my Sophy tore her ACL I was devastated and did not know what to do. So I went online, did my research then spoke with my vet to come up with a plan for treatment. We decided on TPLO surgery. Well I was not entirely comfortable with my decision but I acted on the best advice available at the time. So I was horrified when someone actually said to me “who was I to play God with the life of my dog”. She really rattled me with the comment and made me question my decision. Of course the surgery had already been done at that point so it was truly hurtful to hear such a comment.
At first I was hurt by the comment but then I just got angry. Do not let anyone make you feel bad for a decision you make for your dog if you made it with love and care.
Sadly I have to make another tough medical decision and the same thoughtless comments are being tossed my way. My beautiful brown dog Chester was diagnosed with Wobbler’s disease. None of the treatment options are great. But they are my decisions to make.
So the point is this article is just to remind everyone that we are not perfect. Do not listen to people that offer opinions that are contrary to your own. Listen and learn but work with your vet and your heart to do what you think is the right thing. I will make my decisions, just as you will make yours. I may not choose the right option but I will not look back. And I will know that I did all I could for my handsome boy Chester.
While there are many everyday expenses to dog parenting, including food, supplies, toys, treats and regular check-ups at the veterinarian’s office, many people do not consider the cost of medical emergencies. Medical emergencies are unexpected and can be financially staggering. While there are some programs that can help alleviate the costs of veterinary care, many pet owners do not spend the time learning about them until it is too late, and they are forced to pay the high fees out-of-pocket. Believe me, I know only too well about the unexpected costs.
I have been very fortunate. My first two dogs were never sick and never required any care other than routine exams. Both pups lived till 13. I have not been so fortunate with my next two dogs. Both of my labs needed knee surgery and it cost me a fortune to get their ACLs repaired. I lived on fumes for months and of course I had no pet insurance. Now it is a pre-existing condition so many of the pet insurance places won’t pay for the other knee if it goes. But to make it worse, my big beautiful brown dog Chester was just diagnosed with Wobbler’s Syndrome after $3, 000 of testing.
Tumors, either malignant or benign, are also becoming all too common among dogs. From simple removal to chemotherapy, bills can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. Skin infections and allergies are common ailments that generally cost around $100 for a vet visit and treatment. Some dogs are prone to infections, which require a vet visit, antibiotic, prescription food and numerous fecal samples to ensure the infection is gone. These costs can total over $100, which adds up quickly for a dog who gets the infection easily.
Oftentimes, even putting forth our best effort will not keep our pets healthy. All pet guardians, whether careless or highly attentive, will likely face some sort of medical emergency in the lives of their dogs. Many pet guardians today are choosing to invest in pet insurance. Like human insurance, pet insurance has a monthly or annual fee that varies based upon the health and breed of the dog. Pet insurance also varies based upon the company and the type of insurance purchased. Pet insurance can cover anything from vet check-ups to chemotherapy. Many plans offer a co-pay option, deductible and annual premium.
Pet insurance range in price but, most average between $2,000 and $5,000 over the life of the dog. Some of these plans have deductibles and benefit limits. Unfortunately, many advanced diagnostic tests are expensive even with pet insurance. An MRI, for instance, can cost over $1,200 out of pocket, but may still cost a few hundred dollars even with pet insurance.
One important benefit to pet insurance is that pet owners who have it before an emergency strikes are not forced to make a difficult decision between money and the life of their dog. Rather than finding themselves in deep debt to keep the dog healthy and alive, they are able to pay the co-pay and the insurance greatly alleviates the costs of care.
Medical advances allow for improved treatments for pets. Not so many years ago, a cancer diagnosis would be a death sentence for a dog, but today many dogs are treated and go on to live many years after cancer, or other sicknesses.
There are some alternatives to pet insurance that can temporarily relieve the financial stress of the situation. Having an emergency credit card is a good way to avoid having to pay everything immediately out of pocket. Some rewards cards will even offer cash back, like Capital One or a card through a bank like Chase or 5/3 Bank. These cards can be paid within the month to avoid accruing interest, or can be paid off, with interest, more slowly like other credit card bills. While owing a lot of credit card debt is never a good idea, it can make the decision to treat your pet much easier. Having a card set aside for medical emergencies can allow an owner to get the care their pet needs without having to sacrifice any human needs.
Another alternative is a CareCredit card, which is a card specifically for healthcare for both humans and pets.CareCredit has a few different plans. Certain veterinarian offices accept the CareCredit card as an acceptable form of payment. The entire bill is put on the card at checkout. There are different plans for the cards, varying from 6 months to 24 months with no interest on the bill. After the waiting period, the interest rate jumps up quite a bit. CareCredit is an excellent solution for a pet owner who expects to be able to pay off a medical emergency in the allotted time frame before the interest kicks in.
The challenge with weighing the pros and cons of pet insurance or alternative emergency care programs is that you will never know if or when a medical emergency will occur. While some breeds are more susceptible to certain genetic illness, having a dog of that breed does not guarantee an illness will occur. Additionally, purchasing a mixed breed, or pure breed that is categorically healthy and hardy is no guarantee that medical emergencies are avoidable. Some illnesses are genetic, while others are spontaneous. There is always routine vet maintenance to consider.
After considering pet health insurance opportunities, it is probably wise to at least have some sort of plan for emergency pet care. Whether you plan on paying out-of-pocket for pet medical expenses, keeping a credit card reserved for expensive emergencies, or investing in pet insurance to ensure pet medical bills will be alleviated in emergencies as well as regular maintenance, formulating a plan is crucial. Deciding not to consider these options before an emergency occurs can lead to plenty of heartache, or financial hardships. For many pet owners, a dog is more than a pet; a dog is a best friend and a treasured companion. Choosing between your pet’s health and you financial security is a position no pet lover ever wants to be in. Consider the options and choose what is best for your family and your pet, before an emergency catches you unaware and ill-prepared.
Do you have a dog that seems to have zero energy and his weight is creeping up as we speak? Obesity in dogs is a dangerous problem that not only can make your pet more likely to have physical problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, breathing issues or more, it can even lead to a shortened lifespan!
Veterinarians are reporting more and more overweight pets among dogs and other animals. Up to 50 percent of the dogs that are seen in the U.S. are at least a few pounds overweight. There is more to just over-feeding a dog that can cause it to be overweight, and that is the fact that dogs need exercise.
Dogs Need Exercise to Stay in Shape
Our dogs need daily exercise to keep them healthy, happy and to maintain their ideal weight. Walks are great, but if your dog can’t walk great distances due to their excess weight, or they may be an older pet that has arthritis or joint problems, there is another way to get your pet into shape – canine hydrotherapy.
Hydrotherapy is a documented rehabilitation treatment using water exercise and swimming exercises to help dogs when they are recovering from surgery or other injuries. It provides a good, non-impact exercise that doesn’t put pressure on sore joints or muscles. Hydrotherapy is also great for helping overweight dogs to lose weight or otherwise keep your dog in shape so he won’t get overweight.
Veterinarians have confirmed that a five minute stay in a hydrotherapy session swimming pool is the same as a human running five miles. That burns up a lot of calories, plus it can also help treat arthritis, sprains, hip dysplasia, and damage to tendons or muscles, as well as for regular maintenance style exercises to keep your dog in shape. It is a proved therapy to ease overweight dogs into a more healthy lifestyle without overtaxing their muscles or joints as they lose weight. If your pet can’t exercise normally and also needs to shape up or lose some weight, hydrotherapy is the recommended way to do it.
Benefits of Canine Hydrotherapy
Water exercises can consist of not only swimming, but also walking on an underwater treadmill. The dog is normally placed into a special harness that supports their body and then lowered into a special heated pool. These special underwater treadmills for dogs give animals that have trouble walking a way to exercise. When the dog walks against the water’s resistance, it also speeds up the rate of the burned calories, making it a better choice than other forms of exercise.
Even dogs that need help walking on their own either due to obesity or another condition, will find a freedom of movement using an underwater treadmill during hydrotherapy. Water exercise such as this has multiple benefits since the warm water supports the dog, making it a low impact procedure, and the flow of the water also helps reduce any pain or stiffness the dog may be feeling.
Obese dogs can ultimately build up their fitness level and get to a normal weight through a planned, regular exercise program in a hydrotherapy pool. It is now being widely accepted by most veterinarians, who can also recommend places that offer this service for your dog. If you believe that your dog can benefit from hydrotherapy sessions to improve his fitness level, then talk to your veterinarian at his next appointment.
Obesity is a problem that both humans and canines have in common, with more than 40 percent of dogs showing up at their veterinarian’s appointment being overweight. Have you ever wondered if there was a way for you and your dog in shape at the same time? Well, there is, and the Pooch to 5K website will show you exactly how to do it.
Personal training for dogs is actually a serious program. Dogs and people can suffer from the very same health issues that are caused by carrying excess weight. And since dogs aren’t that large to begin with, it only takes a few extra pounds to cause our dogs to suffer from breathing problems, diabetes, sore joints, and heart disease. It can even cause their death at a young age!
Our dogs are at out mercy and can’t do things like take themselves to a gym to workout or even go for a walk without our help. Pooch to 5K will show you the road to better health for you and your pet. It provides information on how to get in condition to run a 5K race (about 3.1 miles) over a period of about 12 weeks, depending on the health of you and your dog.
Pooch to 5K does this through a series of related articles containing the latest information on dog health and fitness, as well as providing a newsletter and downloadable training materials and a reader blog. The information is free and contains useful data on how to feed your new canine athlete, how to deal with any training or exercise related injuries, how to keep them from being injured, and much more!
The best thing is that the site is run by an licensed veterinarian with more than 20 years experience. This means that you can trust the data you read at Pooch to 5K. Audrey, the site veterinarian, has a passion for keeping dogs healthy, happy and in shape. She understands the dangers of dog obesity and will show readers how to get their pet in shape through a healthy plan of diet and exercise. Her own dog, an Australian Working Kelpie named Guinness, has been trained in dog agility, as well as received obedience training and participated in Frisbee and flyball competitions.
Plus, there is also site dog trainer, Francis, who is an accredited athletics coach so knows all the ins and outs of healthy exercise and activities. He also has a solid background in dog training and obedience and is an avid runner who runs with his Australian Cattle Dog, Cinnabar.
The bottom line is that if you want to learn how to keep you and your dog in shape, then look no further than the Pooch to 5K website.
Having dogs in my life has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. But I have to say, it isn’t always easy financially. In fact, the rising cost of dog guardianship and overall economic down-turn has, unfortunately, led to many people turning over their pets to shelters. I was having a conversation with a friend one day and she was quite insistent that people that cannot afford a pet should not get one in the first place. Well while I agree with that, in some cases, situations come up, people lose jobs or homes and encounter things they did not imagine when they took on the responsibility of dog guardianship. Personally, for me, I cannot imagine a situation where I would ever give up my dogs but some people become so overwhelmed with life they feel their only option is to give up the dog. So today, let’s talk about the true cost of raising a dog.
Purchasing or Adopting your Dog:
The initial cost of a dog varies. Unless you are given a dog for free, you can expect to pay an adoption fee. Oftentimes, this fee is also used to help support the shelter costs and living expenses for keeping other dogs. These fees can be anywhere from $100 to $400+ dollars. Dogs purchased from a breeder can cost several thousand dollars, especially for rare, purebred dogs or new designer breeds.
Once you get your dog home, it is recommended to bring the dog in for veterinary appointment. The average cost of a medical exam is around $70 for dogs. If there is anything wrong with dog, including bacteria or other infections or illnesses, medications require additional money. Puppies require additional shots, vaccinations and de-worming in order to maintain their health. Other initial costs may include a crate, a carrying crate, a collar, leash or harness, food and water bowls, toys and treats. These initial fees all add up to well over $100.
A puppy will require spay or neuter surgery. Unless the dog will be bred professionally, this is absolutely necessary. These surgeries average around $200 although some animal clinics may periodically offer reduce rates.
You may also want to enroll your puppy or new dog training classes. These classes can cost from $10 to $100 per hour for private session or can be purchased as a group classes where the price will vary based on the number of weeks included in the class.
While puppies and new dogs tend to be quite expensive in the first year, there are annual expenses that will need to be considered each year. Food can add another several hundred dollars or more per year to the cost of raising a dog. The cost will vary based upon the size and appetite of the dog, as well as the type of food you feed your dog. Experts agree that buying a higher-grade dog food can reduce the number of expensive health problems that will crop up later, but this will still increase the regular expense.
There are also medical expenses even for healthy dogs. Regular medical exams average $235 per year, not including emergency situations or medications and illness. As your dog ages, most vets will recommend semi-annual exams. For example, I have two labs, both considered senior dogs (seven years are older is considered senior). I took them in for their semi-annual exams just yesterday and it cost $770.
And let’s not forget toys and treats! I bake most of my own dog treats and even make some of my own dog toys but I still spend several hundred dollars a year for two dogs for toys and treats.
I am also a big believer in on-going dog training. Not only is it good for your companion, it will strengthen the bond between you. This can add another several hundred dollars per year.
Pet insurance is another annual expense that is optional, but can save a lot of money in the long run.
If like me, you need to travel for your job or you just like to travel for pleasure without your pet (poor Venkat), boarding fees can also add to your costs. Most kennels charge by the weight of the dog and it can cost from $10 to $100 per night. I have someone come to house to doggie sit so in addition to the cost to care for the dogs, I also pay for food for the sitter since, after all, she is leaving her house to stay in mine.
As you can see, the initial and ongoing expenses of raising a dog can really add up. But to me, the joy a life-long companion brings is unmatched by the financial expense. Just make sure you are prepared!
August 11, 2003 was the worst day of my life. That was the day I had to put by my best boy, Cooper, to sleep. Cooper was my first dog. I never knew what I was missing in my life until I met him and now a mere 13 years later he was gone. At the same time, my mom was dying of pancreatic cancer. She was my best friend and I could not even tell her that my big beautiful brown dog has passed. She would have been just as devastated as I was because she knew he was my world. I was heart-broken and just beside myself. I swore I would never get another dog because the pain was more than I could bear.
And then she said it. Just an acquaintance at the time, but she said those nine little words that changed my life. She said “when one dog passes your heart just grows larger”. We we having a conversation and I said I did not think I could ever have a dog again. I thought the pain was just unbearable. She agreed but then repeated herself, steadfast in her conviction: “when one dog passes your heart just grows larger”. She was right then and she is just as right today.
Now, eight plus years later, she has an older dog and is facing exactly was I was facing. She thinks this dog, will be her last dog because the pain is just unbearable. To her I say, as she said to me when one dog passes your heart just grows larger”.
Yes I am repeating myself because it is just so darn important. Those nine little words changed my life and I hope that anyone reading this remembers those words when they find themselves in this situation. Someday your dog will pass. It will be painful. It will be unbearable but truly, think of all the joy and blessing they gave you.
If it were not for those nine little words, I would not have know Chester or my Sophy. I might have given up and lived a life of quiet desperation without the unconditional love of more dogs. I cannot imagine my life without my new sweet babies. Yes they are not Cooper but that is what is best about it. They are so different yet so similar because they are mine. So while I regret the passing of Cooper and my good girl Molly, I cannot tel you how much my life has been enriched by Chester and Sophy.
So my dear friends, if you are in that unenviable position of losing a dog or contemplating that loss, remember those nine little words; when one dog passes your heart just grows larger”. The nine little words enriched my life more than I can ever say.
Thank you my friend, you know who you are. You changed my life, and for that I am forever grateful.
Be well and thanks for reading.
When 8-year-old Sampson the black lab lumbered into an Animal Aid shelter in Australia, the staff couldn’t believe their eyes. His eyes were bloodshot due to the fat that had accumulated around his head, he had high blood pressure, and he weighed a deplorable 187 pounds, which was twice the normal weight he should have been.
Doctors said that a diet of junk food and fatty treats caused the tremendous weight and would have eventually killed this Labrador retriever had they not stepped in to put Sampson on a special exercise and weight loss diet.
Overweight Dogs Are Not Rare
Sadly, scenes like this are becoming more common as veterinarians worldwide estimate that nearly half of the dogs they see are overweight. Part of the problem is that the only around 17 percent of the owners are in agreement with their pet’s doctor in believing their dog is in danger from their obesity.
Obesity in dogs is just as bad for them as it is for humans. It is connected with problems like heart disease, breathing issues, liver problems, diabetes, musculoskeletal diseases, stomach problems, as well as putting stress on the dog’s joints, tendons and skeleton. It also causes dogs to have a shortened lifespan, as well as have problems giving birth, less tolerance to heat, and being more likely to succumb to various diseases or even death.
According to a study by Nestle Purina done in 2004, dogs who maintained their ideal weight were found to live 15 percent longer than dogs that were overweight. That means if we feed our furry friends a better diet, give less treats and make sure they get daily walks and exercise, we could have them for about two years longer! That should be an incentive for owners to take heed when it comes to dog obesity.
How to tell if your dog is fat
It is vital for dog owners to help their pets maintain a healthy weight, but what’s the best way to tell if your furry friend is at his ideal weight? The only real way to know is to weigh your dog and talk to your veterinarian to be sure, but the following tests are quick ways to give you a pretty good idea if your dog is overweight or not:
The Rib Cage Test
Have your dog stand up and then slide your finger across his ribcage. If you can easily feel the outline of each of your dog’s ribs with just a small amount of pressure, then your dog is likely not overweight. If you dog is obese, then you won’t be able to feel his ribs at all, and if you can see the dog’s ribcage without feeling for it, then he is too skinny.
The Hourglass Test
With your dog standing up, take a good look at his back from above and see if you can tell if the dog’s body gets narrower at the waistline and looks like an hourglass. If you can’t see any sort of indentation in your dog’s waistline, then it’s possible your dog weighs too much.
For this next test, look at your dog from a side view while he is standing while you sit beside him. See if his stomach looks tucked up behind the ribcage. If there is no curve in the body, then it’s likely your dog is too fat.
You are your dog’s provider and his protector and can make a difference in ensuring that they are healthy and at the right weight for their breed. To do this you need to only feed a good quality dog food in the proper proportions and only give limited doggie treats or other foods. Make sure they get walks every day and visit your veterinarian for regular checkups.
Overweight dogs are not happy or healthy dogs. Do the right thing and make sure your dog doesn’t join the nearly 50 percent of the ranks of overweight or obese dogs.
If you are like me, you enjoy training your dogs. Training with your pup will strengthen the bond that forms between you. Whether you are training a new puppy or an old family friend, treats are often used for motivation. This is especially true if you elect to do clicker training or any type of positive reinforcement training. But when you look at the training treats available in stores, they are expensive, often unhealthy and in some cases, too big for training purposes. Well there is good news. You can easily make your own healthy training treats where you control the ingredients and the size of the treat.
For puppies and dogs that like fruits and vegetables, you can cut up apples, carrots, strawberries and other types of berries. My dogs even like frozen string beans. Don’t overdo it though. Too many fruits and veggies can act as a laxative. So do not feed more than a half-cup to one-cup per day.
You can also use tiny pieces of fresh cheese or fresh meats (not processed deli cheeses or meats). Meats and cheese are a high source of protein but can also be a high source of fat so measure out a portion that is appropriate to your dog’s size and calorie requirements and make sure you do not feed more than what you portioned.
But I like to bake. It is inexpensive and I generally have all the ingredients on hand without having to go to the store. Click herefor one of my favorite recipes. My pups will do just about anything for them. Give it a try. I am sure you dogs will too.
So with Thanksgiving just around the corner in the United States, it is important to take extra special care of your dogs. If your dogs are like mine, they have given me so many reasons to be grateful this year. Now it is our turn toshow them appreciation for the things they do each and every day to make us happy and make sure we keep them safe.
The best yet most risky part of Thanksgiving is food and friends. So let’s talk about what we need to do to prepare for each.
Many people feed their dogs table scraps and people food (I know I do) but at Thanksgiving it is east to go overboard in the spirit of sharing. First off, it is important to know that more pets are treated for or die from pancreatitis each holiday season than at any other time of the year.
Pancreatisis is generally triggered by a meal heavy in fatty foods. Thanksgiving feasts are just laden with fat. Turkey skin and grave are two big contributors to a fatty meal. Add some ice cream and pie and at the least, you are setting your dog up for some stomach upset and diarrhea. So if you want to share the holiday food feast with your pets, be judicious in what you feed them.
Turkey is great and dogs love it but the skin is extremely fatty should not be given to dogs. You should also refrain from giving them turkey bones and any of the fabulous fatty sides like gravy, breads and any cooked bones.
One longing look from those big soulful eyes and it is very easy for our friends to feed out dogs anything they want. Before your friends arrive, ask your friends specifically not to feed your dogs. Leave out some dog kibble for them to feed your pups to help them resist the urge to give them that slice of pie.
So it is a fact of life that someday we, or one of our friends will get sick – sick enough that they cannot take care of or walk their dogs. I never really thought about this until recently when a great friend of mine got sick. She is fortunate enough to have a loving, caring husband that was able to handle everything. But it would have been nice if he had some help with “the dog”.
I knew her husband would take care of the dog because he loves the dog too, but I did not think about the details behind him caring for the dog. They do not have a fenced in yard so they really need to walk the dog multiple times a day so he can relieve himself. I had offered to come over to walk the dog but I live 45 minutes away so my friend always said “no, it was ok.” Well it was not ok. I was really shamed to know her husband was coming home on his lunch (40 miles round trip) to let the dog out. Yeah I helped a few times, but it was too little, too late. So if you have a friend that is sick here are some things you can do to help.
1) Don’t Assume: My friend has other friends that live way closer than I do. I assumed they would walk the dog. But for whatever reason, for the most part, they did not. Maybe like me, they asked and were told “no that’s ok, we’re all set”. Which brings me to the next tip.
2) Don’t take “No that’s ok” for an answer. Yes I live 45 minutes away and have a full time job and pups of my own but I could have made the time on the weekends. She was saying NO because she knew I lived far away and did not want to put me out. Put me out? She is a great friend. I should have just driven over and showed up at her door. If she did not answer I should have slipped a note under the door saying I was here and I would be back again tomorrow to take her dog out for a walk.
3) Contact all common friends to develop a work plan. What I should have done was to call all her friends to develop a plan for who could come walk the dog and when. If I did not think about helping the dog, maybe they did not either. By developing a plan we could have come up with a plan we could have given her husband a break and most importantly, put her mind at ease to know both her dog and her husband would be relieved.
4) If you can’t help with walking, see if you can help with a fence. So when people think of a fence they envision major expenses and lots of time for installation. But fencing can be easily installed for a relatively small amount. Home Depot and other big box retailers sell rolls of wire fencing that can be installed in under an hour. So if you can’t help with walking, ask your friend if you can install a fence for them. Wire fencing is really easy to install and can be a temporary solution. Alternatively, you can hook together several exercise pens to create a large enough space for the dog to go and relieve himself.
One final thought, the more I think about this problem, the more I think there should be some national registry for people that need help with their dogs because of illness. So I am asking all the Raising Healthy Dog readers to let me know if they know of some organization I can publicize and refer people in need to.
You’re taking your dog for a walk and suddenly you hear first him growling, then all of a sudden you hear him cry out in pain! He’s just been bitten by a snake and now you have to know what to do for a snake bite for your dog. So you may be thinking this can never happen to you but after hiking with dogs for 15 years, it happened to me. A few weeks ago I was walking with my pups and my Sophy got bit by a snake. It was truly frightening.
If this scenario happens to you and your pet, you have to know what to do and how fast to do it. Part of the issue is prevention. If you keep a handle on your dog and keep him near to you then it’s less likely he will get bitten. When hiking or walking alone an area where there could be snakes, such as areas with long grasses, you can use a stick to poke ahead to check for snakes, and you should wear high boots just in case. However, dogs are curious creatures and if they do get bitten despite your supervision then you have to know how to identify the situation. But I had been hiking here for years and had never had a problem before. However
Evidence of Snake Bite in Dogs
If you see swelling, as well as blood or fang marks on your pet, then he may have been bitten. Usually this is seen around the dog’s face or legs. He may be drooling, have pale gums, muscle spasms, or seem weak or lethargic. He may also have dilated pupils, be in serious pain and even collapse. This is a serious and potentially life threatening situation for your dog. Other symptoms can include bruising, reddening of the bite area, shock, stoppage of breathing, and pain.
What to Do After A Snake Bite
First, if possible, it is important to know what kind of snake bit your dog. I remembered from my canine First Aid training that there were only two types of poisonous snakes in Connecticut (where I live). But for the life of me I could not remember what they looked like. So even if you do not know the name of the snake, remember what it looked like so you can describe it to your vet.
If your dog is bit by a poisonous snake, try to keep him still, as the more he moves around, the more the poison can flow through his body. You need to get him to the veterinarian as soon as possible, but in the meantime you can give your dog Benadryl. Be sure to call the vet to tell them you are heading in with a snake bitten dog and ask how much Benadryl he can have in the meantime. If it is after hours, look in the yellow pages or online for an emergency service or your own vet may have a recording saying where the emergency after hours clinic is located. If you are a regular Raising Healthy Dog reader, you know you should already have a list of all the 24-hour emergency clinics programmed into your cell phone ot printed out and handy in your glove compartment.
How serious the situation is depends on the snake that bit your pet and how much venom he got into his system. You need to get your dog to a vet within 24 hours in most cases. Some of the poisonous snakes found in the U.S. are rattlesnakes, cotton mouths, and coral snakes.
Problems such as snake bite are why dog owners should learn dog CPR in case their pet stops breathing. You should also have a dog first aid kit stocked with basic first aid type supplies.
All in all, more than 15,000 dogs and cats are bitten by snakes every year all over the U.S. Some are poisonous and some are harmless, but you still need to be prepared and know what to do if your dog is bitten by a snake.
Heat stroke is a very dangerous condition where the body’s temperature goes up drastically due to heat exhaustion, heat stroke or exposure to an unusually hot environment with no access to shelter or water. Heat stroke can affect our furry friends just as easily as it can us, and dogs can even die if they don’t get treatment immediately, as it is a very serious issue.
Heat stroke is especially dangerous for dogs because they don’t sweat the way people do. Instead, they get rid of excess heat by panting and then they get rid of the moisture through their nose and foot pads. If a dog is unable to do this, and his temperature rises to 106 or above, then his cells will begin to be damaged and internal injury will occur and can’t be reversed.
What are the Signs of Heat Stroke?
If you see any of the following in your dog, he may be suffering from heat stroke:
- Having a body temperature over 104 degress
- Excessive panting
- Gums colored a dark red
- Gums that are dry or tacky
- Collapsing or lying down and not able to stand
- Loss of consciousness
- Saliva that is thickened
- Being dizzy or disoriented
How do you treat heat stroke in dogs?
If you believe your dog is suffering from heat stoke then you need to do the following things IMMEDIATELY!
- Get the dog out of the heat and into a cooler place as fast as possible.
- Cool the dog down with cold, wet clothes placed on the foot pads and head. However don’t use ice or extremely cold water, as that can make the dog’s blood vessels constrict, which will have the opposite affect and cause the dog’s temperature to get higher, not lower. Plus, you don’t want the dog to go into hypothermia by cooling him too fast. If you can get the dog’s temperature down to 103 or less, then stop cooling immediately.
Preventing Heat Stroke
You can do some things to keep your dog safe from heat stroke:
- Don’t leave dogs in a car on warm days even if the windows are open. The car can rise to oven temperatures and quickly kill your pet.
- Don’t do hard exercise with your pet on hot days, and stay in the shade when possible if you are outside with your dog.
- Make sure your dog has water at all times.
- Remember that breeds of dogs with short noses such as pugs and bulldogs are especially susceptible to heat stroke.
Can Dogs Recover From Heat Stroke?
Dogs may be able to recover from heat stroke, but it often can cause irreversible damage and even death, so prevention is the key. Dogs need to be acclimated to high temperatures before doing excessive exercise in hot weather conditions.
All in all, we need to protect our furry friends from the dangerous of heat stroke because they can be just as affected as we can and could die if exposed to excess heat.
Some people wonder, do dogs grieve? While a dog isn’t a human being, they do have feelings. A dog can get very attached to either another animal or a certain person. We can tell this whenever someone is gone for a long time and the dog is very happy to see them or when someone has hurt a dog and they remember and don’t like that person. These things show that a dog has emotions, so it is logical that they can also be sad when someone close to them dies.
Just how much a dog grieves depends a lot on the personality the dog has and how well they got along with the other pet or human. Some dogs may just seem a little depressed, while others could refuse to eat or just lie around and mope. If your dog seems quieter, doesn’t want to do the things he liked to do before like go for a walk or play, then he is likely grieving for the loss of his friend.
If you dog is feeling this way, then you can do certain things to help him get through this trying time. Keep something with the scent of the other pet or person who has gone away or died. This way he can gradually get used to the scent being gone and go through the normal stages of grieving just like people do. You can also pay more attention to your dog to take him mind off the missing person or pet.
If the dog is grieving for the loss of another family pet, then in time it may be a good idea to get another animal to help him have someone else to be with. Of course if he is grieving for a lost owner, there isn’t much else you can do except be there for your furry friend until the sadness fades, much like it will for you.
If you are replacing another family pet, then wait a little while first, at least a few weeks or months to get another dog to add to the family. You don’t want your current best friend to think he is being abandoned to the love of a brand new dog, so also when you go to pick out another doggie friend, it’s a good idea to bring him along to see if they get along.
You can’t just plop a new puppy into the house and expect everything to be fine and you dog goes back to normal. It would be the same as if you lost your brother or sister and your parents all of a sudden brought home a baby and said, here you go, and never acted like they cared about the one you lost.
So, the answer is, yes, dogs do grieve, and have actually been known to grieve themselves to death. Remember the case of Greyfriar’s Bobby, the dog whose owner died and he faithfully met the train every day for the rest of his life.
So, have some respect for your pet and if another one of your dogs dies or someone in your household dies or goes away. For dogs do have emotions, and need time to grieve.
Arthritis is a bone and joint disease that can attack both humans and their dogs. Just like people, as dogs get older they are susceptible to developing this sometimes crippling condition. How do you know if your dog has arthritis or some other problem? If your dog is getting older and starts having problems walking or getting up after a long nap or perhaps he is limping and is slower to come when you call him. If he doesn’t want to go up or down stairs or has trouble jumping up into your car or truck, then it’s possible he has arthritis.
Your veterinarian can do an exam to confirm this diagnosis. They will check things like if the dogs legs are swollen, if the dog can flex his limbs or if there is pain when he does. He may also do an x-ray to check for bone spurs or other issues or check for fluid around the bones using a joint tap.
If your dog is found to have arthritis, there are treatments that can help your furry friend to feel better. First, don’t try to give your pet human medications for arthritis; you could accidentally poison him instead of helping him. Aspirin is no longer recommended as this is hard on a dog’s stomach and causes cartilage to break down and there are better and more specific medications now for dogs with arthritis.
There are prescription anti-inflammatory medications you can get from your vet to help your dog with the pain of arthritis. You have to watch for side effects like stomach or liver, so your dog may need a blood test every so often to check his organs out. Steroids are also given in low doses to treat arthritic dogs.
Some pet owners prefer more natural products to help their dog’s arthritis. There are herbal treatments such as glucosamine condrotin that your vet can recommend the proper dose for your pet, as well as a new arthritis medicine for dogs called Vitaline SAMe that you can talk to your vet about as well.
Exercise in moderation is also beneficial for arthritic dogs and there are even physical therapists for dogs that you can employ to design a program to help your dog cope with this condition. Another thing you can do is make sure that your dog stays at their optimum weight standard, as overweight pets are more prone to arthritis.
All in all, there are several things you can do to help your dog with the pain and discomfort of arthritis. Work with you vet to come up with plan to help your dog live with arthritis.
So one of Raising Healthy Dog readers asked the question “does my dog know when I am sick?” While there are no empirical studies, ask anyone that has ever been sick and they will tell you how their dog stayed by their side or just behaved better while their guardian was ill. But for this reader, the reverse was true. She had been taking cancer drugs and at first her dog was standoffish. As the drugs built up in her body, her dog refused to even be in the same room as her. Heartbreaking as this is, if this is happening to you, know that it is quite common. Basically, cancer drugs (pregnancy and other medical issues) make you smell different. The famous author and dog trainer Jean Donaldson says “dogs unpack the universe with their noses”. Just know that your dog is not snubbing you, he is just wondering where his real mom is.
The good news is that there are several things to do to remedy the situation.
- Use breath mints. This is and old “dog handling trick”. Many people that compete with their dogs in obedience, agility or other competitive dog trials pop a breath mint to mask their own fear and nervousness.
- Use a scented body lotion and apply it often.
- Make Tuna Brownies and carry them around with you. This could be tough because sometimes the cancer drugs may make you nauseous.
Basically the idea is to change your scent for a few days until your pup can readjust himself to the new you.
Organic and healthy are two words that are becoming keystones in today’s society. This trend, however, is not only about humans eating healthy. More and more dog guardians are switching their pets to what is known as a “Raw Diet”. This diet eliminates feeding their pets all commercial dog food and providing them with a diet similar to what they would experience if they were living in the wild. Contrary to what most of us might immediately assume, this diet does not mean just raw meat. A well balanced raw food diet includes a selection of fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables? Yes, dogs are omnivores, or animals that eat both meat and plants, and can eat their share of fruits and veggies just like humans can. These fruits and vegetables provide them with many health promoting vitamins and minerals and can be used as a quick meal or even a treat for your pet.
Dogs, like humans, can be finicky when it comes to their food so it’s a good idea to test certain types of foods to be sure that your dog likes them. A good suggestion would be to give small amounts of any fruits or vegetables that you have at home to your pet. They’ll let you know what they think.
As a general rule, dogs can eat apples, bananas, pears and berries such as raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. Suggestions include cutting these up before giving them to your pet. Avoid letting them consume seeds or pits. Raisins or grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs.
Leafy greens are a great addition to your dog’s diet. Spinach is high in fiber and calcium and provides many other nutrients. The list of vegetables you can feed your pet is as diverse as a crudite platter. Carrots, broccoli, cucumbers and zucchini are but a few of the items on that list.
The benefits of adding raw fruit and vegetables your dog’s diet are wide and varied. Healthier, cleaner teeth and gums, improved breath, stronger immune systems and a milder body odor are among the most commonly reported. Each combination is as unique as our pets but the positive results are clear.
Summer is a great time for having fun with your dog. Lots of us are able to spend more time with our dogs doing outdoor things. We may have vacation time, more daylight in the evenings, and it’s just nicer to do things when it’s warm. But hot weather can also have some dangers for dogs. Here are some hot weather safety tips for you to keep in mind for your dog.
First and foremost, be aware of the heat and possible heat exhaustion for your dog in the summer. Don’t leave your dog in a parked car in the summer, not even if you leave the windows down. Heatstroke can occur very quickly. And don’t assume that if you leave your car parked in the shade that your dog will stay cool. Even cars parked in the shade get hot. Plus, the sun will be moving in the sky and the car may no longer be in shade after a few minutes.
You should also take care about letting your dog run or exercise too much during the hottest part of the day. Dogs can get heatstroke when it’s very hot and humid just by overdoing their exercise.
Also, if you have a brachycephalic breed, such as a Pug or Bulldog, you need to be particularly careful about hot weather temps. Keep your dog indoors where it’s cool until the temperature cools off outside and don’t allow your dog to exercise when it’s hot.
Black and dark dogs usually get much hotter than other breeds so pay special attention to them and don’t let them over-exercise when it’s hot.
Do provide some shade for your dog in your yard. Make sure your dog has access to fresh water at all times, including when he’s outside playing.
Heatstroke can lead to brain damage, organ failure (including heart failure) and even death very quickly. If you take your dog out walking or running with you, be sure to take water with you as a precaution. If your dog becomes overheated you should offer him water (NOT ice cold water), and then wet his paws and body with cool water. Fan him to cool him down. His normal body temperature should be between 100.5 and 102 F. During heatstroke it may shoot up much higher. If your dog does have heatstroke you should take him to the vet right away.
Anti-freeze is deadly to dogs and people tend to use anti-freeze in the summer to keep their cars motors from boiling over. If you have anti-freeze on your property, be sure to keep it put up well out of reach where any dog could get to it. Clean up any spills immediately. Unfortunately, dogs love the sweet taste of anti-freeze and it only takes a very small amount to kill a dog, so be on the lookout for it if you see a bottle sitting out in your neighborhood. If your dog drinks anti-freeze, take him to the vet immediately.
Your dog probably loves to hang his head out of the window when you drive, and summer may seem like the perfect time to let your dog indulge in this activity. But it’s not a good idea to let your dog stick his head out the window of your vehicle. He can pick up bugs, debris, pebbles and other things in his eyes. He could even jump out the window. Plus, it’s possible your dog could get his head stuck if you are raising the window with the automatic buttons.
Many dogs get lost during the summer. If you leave windows open in your home then your dog may get out the window. He could get out through a fire escape or even climb out on a rooftop. Be sure to use window screens so your dog won’t get out through any open windows.
In rural areas it’s not unusual to see dogs riding in the back of pickup trucks in the summer. But this practice is dangerous unless you have your dog secured with a tethered harness to the bed of the truck. Make sure you keep your dog safe in the truck so he can’t fall out. You should also provide your dog with a thick pad so he will be comfortable if he lies down, though most dogs seem to prefer to stand so they can keep their balance.
It’s important to practice good water safety during the summer months. Teach your dog to swim and make sure that he wears a doggy life jacket when he goes in the water. Pay particular attention to short-nosed breeds who may need help keeping their heads above water.
Walk your dog when it’s cooler
Remember that dogs don’t’ wear shoes and surfaces like concrete and asphalt get very hot. If you walk your dog, or go jogging on city streets, wait until the day has cooled off before taking your dog out. Your dog’s paws can feel the heat. If your dog needs to be walked while it’s hot, take him to a shaded area so the pavement will be cooler.
There seem to be lots of occasions for fireworks in the summer, and no occasion is bigger than the 4th of July. If your dog doesn’t like fireworks or loud noise, make sure that you plan ahead for these occasions. Don’t take your dog to places where there will be fireworks. Don’t leave your dog home alone if he is terrified of fireworks. Play some music to drown out the loud noise. Work to desensitize your dog to the sounds. Talk to your vet about herbal supplements or medication that could help your dog deal with the fireworks.
These are some of the big things that come up each year for pets. You may be able to think of a few more or some which particularly affect your dog. The important thing is to think ahead and try to think of how things might affect your dog. Keep these hot weather safety tips in mind and you and your dog can have a great summer.
Summer is here and for many people their thoughts start turning toward water. Whether it’s the local lake, the beach and ocean, or a pool in your backyard, lots of us can’t get enough of swimming and playing in the water when it’s warm. And we like to have our dogs along with us. Before you think about taking your dog for a swim or letting him play in the water, make sure you know some safety tips for your dog.
Can your dog swim?
You may assume that your dog can swim. All dogs can naturally swim, right? Wrong. If you have a Portuguese Water Dog or a Labrador Retriever, then your dog will probably take to swimming like a duck. Many dogs can do a good dog paddle as soon as they’re introduced to the water. But swimming doesn’t come naturally to all dogs. Dogs with long backs or very short legs may have a hard time learning to swim or dog paddle. That would include breeds such as Dachshunds and Basset Hounds, as well as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Corgis.
If you have a brachycephalic (short-nosed) breed, such as a Pug or Bulldog, then you will need to take extra care of your dog in the water. With their short nose, you’ll need make sure they keep their head well above the water so they can breathe well.
Fit your dog with a life jacket
Wearing a life jacket or vest can save your dog’s life. Just like the life jackets that humans wear, your dog’s life jacket can help him stay above the water and keep him from drowning. This is helpful when your dog is learning to swim and it’s also helpful if your dog swims out too far or gets tired while swimming.
Choose a bright, colorful jacket for your dog so he can be seen from a distance in case he becomes separated from you. Life jackets come in all different sizes to fit different dogs so be sure to choose one that fits your dog comfortably. Make sure that your dog’s life jacket has a handle on top so your dog can be pulled up into a boat if necessary.
Teach your dog to swim
Whether your dog is a natural or needs a little help, you can teach your dog to swim by slowly introducing him to the water. It’s best to teach your dog in a quiet area where there isn’t a lot of noise or distractions. You want your dog to be nice and calm, and you need to be focused on your dog. You should be very encouraging to your dog. It’s best if you can go to a place where you can slowly wade into the water. Don’t take your dog to a pool or lake and simply throw him in and expect him to start swimming! Move out into the water with your dog and help support your dog’s weight. His legs should begin to paddle as you get a little deeper into the water. Continue to support your dog’s stomach and rear legs until he seems to be supporting himself.
Show your dog how to get out of the water
Whether you are swimming in a lake or a pool, you should always show your dog how to get out by himself. This is especially important when your dog is swimming in a pool. Help him find the steps with his legs so he can help himself out of the water. It’s sad, but dogs have drowned in their own backyard swimming pool because they could not find a way to get out of the pool. So be sure to carefully teach your dog how to help himself out of the water, even if you aren’t with him. It’s always possible that your dog could fall into the swimming pool when you aren’t home and have to save himself.
Watch your dog
Even while swimming it is possible for your dog to go out of sight. You need to keep your eyes on your dog when he’s in the water. He could swim too far away, duck under water, or get into some other trouble in the water. So watch your dog while he’s in the water to keep him safe.
If you follow these water safety tips for your dog then you should both have a great time when you go for a dip.
Is there any face more dear than the graying muzzle of an elderly dog? Your dog may be getting older, yet he still enjoys many of the same things he did when he was younger. Just because a dog is getting a little older doesn’t mean he can’t still have fun playing! In fact, your older dog probably loves to spend time with you more than ever. It’s also true that your older dog still needs regular exercise to keep up good muscle tone. So, don’t relegate your senior dog to the old dog’s home just yet.
Benefits of playing with your senior dog
Many senior dogs tend to be a little on the chubby side as they get older. Enjoying some good exercise with you can help them keep their weight in check. If your older dog is already slim then engaging in play and exercise should help him continue to have a good appetite. Exercise also helps promote good muscle tone. Older dogs may start to feel a few aches and pains from arthritis and other joint problems which can affect their mobility. Taking some mild exercise and spending time playing is a good way to help your dog stay active and promote better joint mobility and circulation.
Plus, spending time playing and exercising with your dog can help your senior dog continue to take an active interest in life every day.
In short, play and exercise can help keep your older dog feeling and acting younger and may help add a few more years to his life.
What kind of play is safe for your older dog?
For the most part, you can continue to pursue the same kinds of activities with your older dog that he enjoyed when he was younger. If you and your dog engaged in obedience, go ahead and work on your obedience lessons. If you liked to take long walks, take walks with your senior dog, just shorten them a bit. If your dog loved to catch the frisbee, give him some easy tosses to catch. Just keep in mind that his current physical condition will probably restrict some of the things he can do now. Don’t overtax your older dog or encourage him to do something where he might injure himself.
If your dog loved to perform agility, you may have to scale back the obstacles so he can run through some obstacles that are set up with his current abilities in mind. If your dog loved to go hiking with you, set out with him on a short, easy hike instead of some of the harder treks you used to take.
Swimming is a wonderful exercise for older dogs. It’s excellent for dogs with any arthritis or hip problems and most dogs find it very relaxing. Plus, it’s something that you can do together.
Spend some time tossing a ball for your older dog and teaching him some new, fun games in your backyard. The important thing is that you and your older dog are getting to spend some time together and your dog is staying active and having fun.
Every Dog Is Different
Every senior dog is different so you will need to keep an eye on your older dog and see how he responds to different kinds of play and exercise. Many senior dogs will thrive on spending time playing with you and getting some exercise, but it’s always possible that your dog may have an injury or an ailment that makes it uncomfortable for him to play. So, watch your dog and be sensitive to how he feels.
Don’t play or exercise with your dog during the hottest part of the day. It’s also better not to exercise outside when it’s too cold or when it’s rainy. It’s usually better to play with your dog before he eats and then wait about 30 minutes before playing or doing any exercise.
Some older dogs may feel more comfortable playing indoors. Try playing in a carpeted area so your dog has good traction. Spend a little time playing fetch indoors. Try a wrestling game. Teach your dog to play hide-and-seek with some of his favorite treats as rewards.
Senior dogs are very special so try to do all you can to keep your older dog happy and healthy. Remember that gentle play and mild exercise can be very beneficial for your dog. In many cases they can help your dog feel better and live longer. Spend some quality time playing with your dog and you’ll have more precious memories in the years to c
Most of us feel like our dogs are family and we all probably have a natural impulse sometimes to use human products on our dogs. But, is it a good idea to use human products on dogs? Should you give your dog a human painkiller or use your shampoo on your dog? In general, the answer is no, but there are a few exceptions.
You should not give your dog human painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, except under a veterinarian’s advice. Ibuprofen metabolizes very slowly. Even if you give your dog very small doses, it can add up to a large dose for your dog and be deadly. It can cause liver damage, bleeding ulcers, and it is often fatal. Acetaminophen can also cause blood and liver problems in dogs and it can also be fatal. Even dogs that survive may have permanent liver damage. So, don’t give your dogs painkillers that are intended for humans, except under the advice of a veterinarian. There are many good painkillers for dogs that your vet can prescribe for your dog.
Dogs can also become sick if they accidentally eat other medications such as heart medicine, blood pressure medicine, antidepressants or mood stabilizers. If your dog does swallow these pills (on the floor, or by getting a bottle), you should call your vet immediately and ask for instructions. Or call a poison control hotline for pets such as the Pet Poison Helpline.
Lots of people like to use human shampoo on their dogs. They may use their own shampoo or they think it’s a good idea to use a tearless baby shampoo. Actually, it’s not a good idea to use a human shampoo on your dog. Your dog’s skin has a different pH level from yours. Shampoo made for your hair and scalp is formulated with a different pH level than your dog needs. In fact, human shampoo is usually too harsh for a dog and if you use it over a long period of time, it will often make a dog’s hair dry and harsh by stripping the natural oils from his skin and fur. Using a human shampoo on your dog can make his skin dry and itchy. That’s why you should use a good dog shampoo when you bathe your dog.
On the other hand, if you talk to professional dog groomers, they may tell you that they do use human shampoos when they bathe dogs, or even dish detergent. However, dog groomers are professionals and they know what they’re doing when it comes to bathing and conditioning dogs. Plus, they have to bathe and groom some very grungy dogs each day. When it comes to bathing your dog at home, it’s best to use a good dog shampoo that is formulated for your dog’s skin and coat. Choose a shampoo that suits his particular kind of coat (silky, wire, short and coarse). Use a conditioner if necessary. And make sure that you rinse well so you avoid creating any hot spots.
Lots of dog owners today are interested in giving their dogs nutritional supplements for better health. There are many cases where nutritional supplements may improve the health of your dog. For example, if your is getting older and has arthritis or joint problems then taking glucosamine and chondroitin may help rebuild cartilage and ease joint pain. So, should you give your dog nutritional supplements that are intended for humans? The answer is that you can give your dog supplements that are intended for people but if you do so, you will need to be very careful with the dosages.
Most nutritional supplements that are commonly given to dogs are packaged and come ready to give to dogs. The dosing is stated on the product label. You can buy Cosequin, a glucosamine and chondroitin product for dogs, and it already has the dosage for dogs by weight on the label. If you buy these products separately, for humans, then you will need to carefully figure out the correct dosage for your dog. It’s a good idea to talk to your vet in order to determine the best dosage for your dog.
The same is true for fish oil and other supplements. You can purchase them in a product that is already packaged and ready to give to your dog, with the dose figured out for you; or you can purchase them for humans and have to figure out the dose for your dog. You do need to be careful with the dosage because in some cases there can be some side effects if you give your dog the wrong dose, even with nutritional supplements.
As you can see, it’s usually best not to use human products for dogs. In some cases you can use human products for dogs but if you do, you need to be careful. There can be some unintended consequences, whether you are using human shampoo on your dog, or giving your dog nutritional supplements for people. Use caution and always carefully consider what you are using with your dog.
Most dog guardians today want to feed their dog a healthy diet, but aren’t always sure exactly what foods are healthy. Take berries, for example. If you check the Internet, you will find lots of different information about berries. People seem confused about whether or not berries are good for dogs, or even safe to feed dogs. You can rest assured that there are many kinds of berries that are perfectly safe and healthy for your dog to eat.
Dogs Love Berries
Dogs love many of the same kinds of berries that you probably like yourself: blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. All of these berries are healthy and safe for your dog to eat.
Some Poisonous Berries
When people refer to berries that dogs should avoid, those berries include fruit that contains pits, such as cherries. It is possible for a dog to choke on these large pits or “stones.” Additionally, some of these pits contain chemicals which can be harmful to your dog if eaten. Dogs should also avoid eating holly berries, juniper berries, baneberries, poke berries, and mistletoe berries.
Health Benefits of Berries
Just as there are health benefits for you when you eat blueberries and other berries, there are also lots of health benefits for your dog. Berries are known for their antioxidant properties, which means that they can protect your cells against the effects of “free radicals.” Free radicals are normally produced when your body goes through the process of breaking down food, or whenever it’s exposed to many everyday assaults from things like tobacco smoke or ordinary radiation in the atmosphere. Free radicals can cause damage to our cells. It is believed that these harmful molecules can affect us in ways that cause cancer, heart disease, and other health problems. So, antioxidants which come from berries, can help protect us, and our dogs, from the harm caused by free radicals. Giving your dog berries may help prevent cancer, heart disease, and other health issues.
Studies have also suggested that blueberries are beneficial to older dogs and help them keep their cognitive functions. This is especially important for dogs that might be experiencing canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.
Cranberries offer dogs the same benefits that they offer humans and can improve urinary tract health. They are especially beneficial to dogs experiencing any kidney issues. Cranberries are particularly high in vitamin C. Cranberry juice is acidic and when you give it to your dog it helps to lower the pH of your dog’s urine. This makes the urinary tract inhospitable for bacteria.
Many dogs enjoy eating berries right from your hand, or you can put some berries in their dish with their dog food. In other cases, as with cranberries, you can give them some cranberry juice to add berries to their diet. Berries can be fed in berry form, pureed, or you can add them to a favorite dog cookie recipe. Berries also make excellent treats for your dog.
If you haven’t offered your dog berries yet, purchase a couple of different kinds and see how your dog likes them. Chances are that your dog will quickly become a big fan of berries. And you’ll be a big fan of their health benefits to your dog.
Watching the news these days it seems no one is safe from a disaster, natural or otherwise. But disasters happen to someone else, right? Well not really. A good friend of mine just had a house fire which made her house unlivable. However, prior planning and a clear head allowed her to exit the house leading her two beautiful dogs to safety. So it got me to thinking about what I would do with my dogs if my house burned down. After talking to my friend and doing some research, I thought I would share some of the following tips.
- Place a sticker on the front and back doors or windows letting rescue workers know that you have a pet(s) inside. If you crate your pets while you are out of the house, mark on the sticker the location of the crates. For example, “Two Dogs crated in bedrooms on the right”. You can purchase pre-printed rescue stickers or just make your own.
- Let your neighbors know about your pets and possible hiding places. I know my old dog Cooper used to hide in the bath tub when he was sick or scared. If your dog is suffering from smoke inhalation he may be unconscious. By letting your neighbors know of your pets hiding spot, you might save the rescue worker valuable time in locating your pet.
- Keep a slip lead leash in any room that your pet might be. A slip lead leash is one like they use in the vets office. It is called a slip lead because you can just slip it over your pets head without requiring a collar. If you do not have a slip lead, a traditional leash will do. Just slip the end with the clip on it through the leash handle and wrap it around your pet’s neck. My friend had the slip leads in her bedroom so she was able to quickly leash the dogs without fumbling with attaching it to any collar and lead her dogs out past the fire keeping them safe from harm.
- Keep a pet emergency kit and supplies in the car. If you have to evacuate your home, it could happen in the middle of the night or just past normal store hours. So keep a stash of supplies in your car. These supplies should include a pet emergency kit, food and water bowl, one to three days supply of food and any medicines your pet is taking, a blanket, a favorite toy, pet ID tags, vaccination information and anything else to make your dog comfortable.
- A dog friendly location to go to. This could be a friend, neighbor, relative or a dog friendly hotel. Most Holiday Inns, Residence Inns, Microtels and LaQuinta hotel chains are pet friendly so know where they are and what their policies are in advance. Keep in mind that hotels generally require you to have a credit card. If you do not have a credit card, work with your bank to get a debit card that has the Master Card or Visa Card logo on it. So even though you do not have a credit card, your debit card can act as one if it has a Credit Merchant logo on it.
As for my friend, well she was lucky. Not only was she well prepared, but she had a friend nearby with a finished basement and a fenced in yard that could take her and her two beautiful labs in.
Hopefully you will never need these tips but just thinking about them and planning for a fire will cause you to be better prepared in case it does happen to you.
Advances in veterinary care are resulting in a longer lifespan for our beloved canine companions. On average, large dogs live until they are 12, and smaller breeds generally outlive larger dogs by several years. This means we have to learn to manage the age related problems that our dogs develop, so their quality of life is as good as it can be.
As dogs age, their hair will turn gray, particularly around their muzzle. Their eyes will develop a blue haze, and they tend to laze around a bit more. They are often more lethargic, and may be harder to rouse from their afternoon nap. You will start to see these changes anytime from around 7 years of age. But your dogs chronological age does not necessarily equate to old age. Some dogs will age more quickly and others will be spry as a pup past 10. I recently read a book on aging dogs and there was a great quote from Satchel Paige that, to me, really says it all; ”How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” So take the lead from your dog. Pay attention to their behaviors and look for subtle changes.
But caring for your senior dog involves looking after not only their aging body, but also their mind and spirit. Here are some suggestions to guide you.
Older dogs may not see too well, and their hearing often isn’t as sharp as when they were younger. This can make them clingy and may lead to anxiety. Although your first instinct is to give them lots of attention, this can backfire. This extra attention may worsen their anxiety because it is essentially rewarding them for behaving this way. Treat your dog normally, and they are likely to adapt better to the changes in their senses. Try to avoid taking them by surprise; always talk to them as you walk up to them, and touch them gently so they know where you are.
Sticking to a familiar routine also makes an elderly dog feel more secure. If you are concerned about your dog’s anxiety then have a chat to your veterinarian. If it is severe, pheromone treatment or even anti-anxiety medication can make the world of difference to how they feel.
There is a specific condition in older dogs called canine cognitive dysfunction. This is very much like Alzheimer’s Disease in people, and affected dogs often pace the floor at night, bark for no reason, and appear to have forgotten all their training. This condition can be very distressing for owners, and for the dogs. Fortunately, there are specific diets and drugs which can help alleviate these systems, and will make life easier for both you and your four legged best friend.
As the body ages, parts of it start to wear out. Joints become stiff and painful, and organs function less efficiently. Thyroid disease, liver disease, arthritis and cancer are all more common in elderly dogs. While many of these diseases may not be preventable, there are things you can do to keep your senior pet as healthy and happy as possible.
Firstly, keep them lean. Dogs that are overweight suffer from the same obesity related conditions that people do. Diabetes, heart disease and arthritis all make life less pleasant for elderly dogs. Also, lean dogs live up to two years longer than overweight animals, so you’ll have your companion with you for longer.
Secondly, have your dog checked regularly by your veterinarian. A prompt diagnosis of conditions such as hypothyroidism or kidney disease can allow you to start treatment early, and this usually results in a better outcome. If they are showing signs of painful arthritis, they can take medication to alleviate their pain and help them become more mobile. If you notice any abnormal lumps and bumps on their skin, get them checked and removed if necessary.
Thirdly, keep an eye on your dog’s teeth. Elderly dogs often have some degree of dental disease. This can make eating painful, and it can also cause problems elsewhere in the body. Bacteria from the gums can spread to the kidneys and heart, causing disease in those organs.
Next, feed your dog a good quality senior diet. These foods usually have extra fiber and anti-oxidants to keep your older dog healthy. They are often lower in calories because elderly dogs tend not to be as active as younger animals, and don’t need the extra energy. But do not switch them to a senior diet without checking with your vet. Just because they hit that numerical age, do not assume that a senior diet is appropriate. My old girl Molly (a big old lab) was not put on senior food until she was 12.
Lastly, modify your home to make life easier for your older dog. If you have a tiled or wooden floor, they can be slippery, so cover them with rugs or carpets. Your dog will be less likely to slip and fall. Use baby gates to keep your dog from going up and down stairs without supervision; again this will reduce the risk of falls. If your dog has poor vision, don’t rearrange the furniture. Blind dogs do very well because they learn the layout of their home. Changing this can cause them to bump into things, and will destroy their confidence. If you turn your heat down in the winter to save money or put the AC on high in the summer, give you senior dog a blanket. They may get cold when they never did in the past.
It’s very important that we don’t let our older dogs languish without any mental stimulation or regular activity. You can in fact teach an old dog new tricks, and this can help keep them mentally alert and better able to interact with you and the world around them.
Regular exercise not only keeps your dog lean, but it is great for their mental health. A daily walk will allow them to enjoy the sights, sounds and scents of their neighborhood, and this can lift their spirits and leave them feeling happy and relaxed. Don’t go beyond your dog’s physical capabilities, or it will have the opposite effect and they’ll be sore and sorry.
Never get frustrated if your dog makes a mistake. For example, stiff legs may mean they aren’t quick enough to get outside to go to the toilet in time and may accidentally soil the carpet. Yelling at them will crush their spirit and frighten them. They can’t help it. You’ll need to be patient and make allowances for slowing of their physical and mental responses.
Even if your dog hasn’t had any formal obedience training, it’s a great idea to teach them basic obedience exercises, and even some fun tricks. If you keep them learning, it will help to sharpen their mind and keep it active. Success also gives them confidence, which will make them feel good. Always use positive training methods with your dog, such as clicker training or reward based training.
You don’t need to give up the regular activities you share with your dog as they get older. However, you may need to modify them a little to compensate for any age related limitations. If you follow these suggestions, and make the effort to care for all aspects of your senior dog’s health and well being, you’ll both enjoy their twilight years to the fullest.
If you want to read more about caring for your senior dog, read Good Old Dog by the Faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.
Dogs, just like people, can get an upset stomach and determining the reason for the upset will make it so you know if it’s serious or not and what to do about getting him back on the road to feeling better.
Symptoms of Upset Stomach
Dogs get an upset stomach from several causes that could range from eating too fast to an obstruction in their intestines. Here are some of the most common symptoms that your dog may have an upset tummy:
- Painful to the touch in the stomach area
- Biting their sides
- Not wanting to eat
- Wanting to eat grass.
- Being lethargic
Any or all of these could be mixed with other problems, and it’s important to determine if the upset stomach is merely from eating something that didn’t agree with your dog or if it’s something serious that must be treated immediately.
Causes of Upset Stomach
Most of the time your dog comes down with a troublesome tummy it has something to do with his diet. Dogs may be allergic to the food they are eating, eat too fast, or eat too much. It’s also common for dogs to eat things they shouldn’t like coins, string, balls, food wrappers, etc.
Stress is another issue that can cause a sensitive pet to get sick to the stomach. Something like a trip to the vet’s office can cause a nervous pooch to get sick to their stomach and throw up on the way. Or, your pet may be prone to getting carsick.
Any of these issues can cause upset stomach in your pet. A few more possible causes are:
- Changes made in a dog’s diet
- Parasites like worms
- Stale food
- Injury to the stomach area
Serious Stomach Issues
How can you know if your dog’s upset stomach is something serious or life threatening? If your dog is throwing up and the vomit contains blood, then it may be something like an obstruction that must be dealt with as soon as possible to save your pet’s life. If he’s swallowed something like a ball, then it won’t pass all the way through his intestines and if it isn’t surgically removed, it will eventually cause infection or worse and your dog could die.
Plus, if you dog ate something poisonous, it’s a drastic measure to get him to the vet for treatment. Be sure to keep anything like insect poison, rat poison, etc out of your dog’s reach, as he could think it is a tasty treat.
There are also diseases or other medical conditions that cause upset stomachs that are very serious such as parvo, stomach ulcers, pancreatitis, or a twisted stomach. These things must be treated by your veterinarian quickly to help your pet.
Treatment for Upset Stomach in Dogs
If the cause of your dog’s upset stomach is not something serious, your vet will probably tell you to rest your dog’s stomach for 24 hours and don’t feed him in order to let his stomach calm itself. But make sure he still has plenty of fresh clean water. Some dogs prefer ice chips when they don’t feel good and this is also an alternative to ensure he is getting enough liquids while he is sick. You can even try something like Gator-aide to get some electrolytes back into his system.
After the 24 hours is up, try feeding your dog something bland such as plain white rice mixed with plain cooked chicken, and if he doesn’t throw up, then you can gradually get him back to eating normally again.
Your vet may also give you other instructions to help your queasy pet feel better by telling you to give him an appropriate dose of something like Pepto-Bismol. However, don’t just try to make him drink a bowl of it! You must let your veterinarian prescribe the correct dosage for his age and weight.
Adding some plain yogurt to your dog’s food can get some healthy pro-biotic bacteria into his system, which may work to settle his stomach as well.
Monitoring is Important
It’s important to monitor the situation to make sure things aren’t getting worse, so be sure to pay attention to your dog’s condition. If the above measures aren’t working, your vet may have to intervene. For instance, sometimes upset stomach and throwing up can mean your dog has an infestation of parasites like round worms and must be treated accordingly.
The bottom line is that when our pet gets an upset stomach it could be anything as simple as eating something bad for them or something more serious. We need to monitor our best friends and make sure that whichever it is, we help get our dog on the road to recovery so he can feel better fast.
An allergy is when some sort of irritant causes itching, welts, and rashes to name a few symptoms. The term “allergy” means there is some sort of overreaction by the dog’s immune system to a certain substance.
If you have allergies, then you know just how itchy and miserable they can make you when they act up due to pollen in the air or whatever irritant causes the allergy.
Just like their owners, dogs too are miserable when allergies they have hit their system. Allergies can cause several respiratory, skin, digestive and other issues, depending on the irritant involved.
The main categories of allergies are contact allergies, inhalant allergies, food allergies and allergies to parasites like fleas or mites. Dogs can have allergies to everything from the grass at their feet to the food they eat, and sometimes it takes a little detective work just to figure it out so they can get some relief.
Allergy Symptoms in Dogs
The allergy symptoms in dogs are pretty similar to those in people and include:
- Itchy, red and scabby moist skin
- Excess of scratching
- Itchy and runny eyes
- Extreme itchiness on back or base of tail
- Snoring (inflamed throat)
- Chewing legs and paws
- Swollen legs and paws
- Constant Licking
- Hair loss
- Scabby or crusty skin
- Chronic ear infections
- Eye Discharge
Common Allergy Irritants
There are certain irritants that tend to be the ones that dogs are allergic to more often. These include:
- Mold spores
- Cigarette smoke
- Some kinds of foods
- Fleas/flea control products
- Cleaning products
- Medicated shampoo
Dogs Prone To Allergies
For reasons not known, certain dogs are more prone to allergies. The dogs that tend to get allergies more often are: Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, other terriers, retrievers, setters and flat faced breeds. If you own one of these kinds of dogs, be sure to watch out for possible allergies.
Diagnosing Allergies in Dogs
In order to figure out if your dog is allergic to something, the veterinarian will do skin, blood and elimination testing. The tests are pretty much the same as the ones to determine if humans are allergic to something.
Treating Dog Allergies
Of course the best way to treat an allergy is to keep your dog away from whatever is irritating his system. For instance, if your dog is allergic to fleas, then make sure to put him on a flea protection and control program or if he is allergic to dust, then you have to keep his bedding very clean, plus vacuum the house often. If your dog is allergic to certain foods, he will probably have to go on a special prescription dog food you can get at the vet’s office.
Dogs also can get allergy shots just like people. The vet may also prescribe antihistamines like Benadryl, fatty acid supplements for the skin, or a shampoo or spray that contains oatmeal to relive the itchiness. In severe cases the vet may give the dog cortisone shots or pills.
Other things that may help the allergic dog is cool baths with Epsom salts or medicated shampoos, taking Omega 3 and Omega 6 supplements , using a dehumidifier in your home, using an air purifier with a HEPA filter in your home, or even air conditioners as it reduces the circulation of airborne allergens because windows are then kept closed.
The bottom line is that just like us, our furry friends can suffer from allergies. If your dog is showing symptoms of some sort of allergy, then get him to the vet to diagnose and help out your pet.
If your dog suddenly starts acting as if she has pain when trying to urinate or is having accidents in the house when normally she doesn’t, then one possible cause could be a urinary tract infection (UTI). Statistics report that about 14 percent of dogs will get a UTI in their lifetime.
A UTI, or cystitis as it is sometimes called, is caused when bacteria attack a dog’s urinary system. It can be caused by several different kinds of bacteria. The organs that can be affected are the kidneys, bladder, ureters, uretha, and prostate gland. If not treated quickly, it can get into several of these organs and cause major issues for your pet.
Female dogs are more likely to get a UTI for the same reasons that female humans get them more often, because a female’s urethra (the tube that carries the urine from the kidney) is shorter than a males. This makes it so bacteria have less distance to cover and thus can invade the organs easier.
Signs and Symptoms of UTI
The symptoms of a UTI are as follows:
- Blood in the urine
- Bad smelling urine
- Having a hard time urinating
- Pain in lower region of stomach
- Having accidents in the house
- Changes in urinary habits
- Excess licking of genital area
Owners should be aware of their dog’s bathroom habits, as this is the easiest way to know when or if your pet is having abnormal function and therefore could have an infection.
Diagnosis/Treatment for UTI
First, you need to get a urine sample from your pet. Urine samples can be collected from a dog by having the animal urinate into a cup or the veterinarian may collect some urine by directly from the bladder via catheterization or a needle.
While this isn’t exactly easy, there are ways to get one. You need a clean and sterile container and then when the dog gets ready to pee, you can stick the container into the steam of urine. Be careful not to contaminate the sample. If you are unable to get a sample this way, then your vet may need to get the sample from your dog using a catheter.
The sample will be tested and if it shows a UTI then the vet will put your dog on antibiotics for about 10 days. It’s important to give the medication for all 10 days until they are gone to be sure the infection is cured.
Preventing UTIs in Your Dog
While it isn’t always possible to stop your pet from getting a UTI, there are some simple steps you can take to help prevent them. These include:
- Bathing your dog on a regular basis
- Ensure your dog has clean drinking water and is drinking ample amounts
- Take your dog out to urinate every few hours so urine doesn’t build up in the bladder
When Things Turn Serious
While most UTIs are painful, they are usually fairly mild if caught and treated early. However, in some cases the infection may be caused by something like Bladder or kidney stones, which is more serious than just a bacterial infection.
Another note is that if a dog has diabetes, he or she is more prone to get UTIs.
If a dog gets several UTIs in a row then it can cause scarring of the bladder or more serious things like kidney failure. Some breeds of dogs are more prone to recurrent UTIs including middle aged to senior German Shepherds, Poodles, and Labradors.
UTIs in dogs are something that may or may not be preventable, but they are usually easy to treat and the dog recovers quickly. Be on the lookout for unusual urinary issues with your pet and you will be able to get him treated quickly if he comes down with this painful condition.
You suddenly notice that your dog is whining and pawing at his eyes like there is something stuck in one of them, or maybe he is rubbing his head on the carpet and trying to scratch his eye. If these actions are accompanied by some of the following symptoms, then your pet more than likely has an infection in one or both of his eyes.
While eye infections are somewhat common, they can still be a serious condition that if not treated right away could lead to blindness or worse. They are also usually very contagious, so you should wash your hands when treating them and make sure your dog doesn’t pass it to some other pet.
If you suspect your dog has an eye infection, he needs to get to the veterinarian shortly in order to get the proper diagnosis and medications to clear up the infection.
Symptoms of eye infection
Some of the common symptoms of a possible eye infection in your dog may include:
- Watery or sticky discharge from the eyes
- Red inflamed or cloudy looking eyes
- Rubbing or scratching the eyes
- Squinting of one or both eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Swollen eyelids
Common types of dog eye infections
Conjunctivitis – Also called “pink eye,” this is the most common type of eye infection in dogs and is caused by either a bacterial or viral infection. Other things that may cause this type of infection include: herpes, Lyme disease, inflammation of the tear sac, or something that gets stuck in the eye and causes damage.
It causes red or pink tint to the eyes, inflammation and a thick, sticky discharge. Treatment includes gently cleaning out the dog’s eyes with a cotton ball and warm water to get rid of the sticky crud, and using a warm compress over his eyes for about five minutes to bring down the swelling and help with pain. Your vet will also probably prescribe some sort of antibiotic drops or ointment.
Glaucoma – This is a very serious eye infection that puts pressure on the eyes caused by a blockage in the eye. It can lead to blindness if not treated. The symptoms include redness, cloudiness and enlarged pupils. Treatment is somewhat complicated, with the vet having to apply various agents and ointments geared to relieve pressure, treat the underlying infection, and protect the neurons in the eye.
Be sure to follow the vet’s instructions carefully.
Keratoconjunctivitis Siccac – Also known as “dry eye,” this is also a very serious infection. It means the dog’ eyes aren’t producing enough tears and it can lead to ulcers and inflammation of the cornea. It can be caused by many factors such as herpes, disease, or other issues with the tear ducts. It’s treated with artificial tears solution, eye drops or oral medications as needed.
Juvenile Cellulitis – Also called “puppy strangles,” this is caused by a bacterial infection. A puppy will present with blisters around the eyes that can progress into ulcers.
Diagnosing Eye Infections
If your veterinarian suspects your pet has an eye infection he will perform a few specific tests. One of these is an ophthalmoscopic exam. The vet will look into a dog’s eyes, test the response to light, and do a general exam of the surrounding area.
Another common test is the tear duct test, which checks to see if the dog is producing enough eye moisture. The vet will place a special type of paper under a dog’s eye and then compare it with a chart to see how much tears are being produced and if it is the normal amount.
Another eye test is the Flourescein staining test, which is used to see if there are any tears or ulcers on a dog’s cornea. The stain is dripped into a dog’s eyes with an eye dropper and if there is any damage, it will show up as a fluorescent green color when the stain is washed out.
Bacterial Culture is another type of test which takes a sample of the discharge or other fluids and grows in a special culture to see what type of bacterial organism is causing the dog’s condition so they know which antibiotic to treat it with.
Treatment of Eye Infections
First, if you suspect your dog has an infection, or his eyes have a discharge, then you can gently clean them out using a saline solution or special eye cleaning solutions you can find in pet supply stores or at your veterinarian’s office. You can make your own home saline solution by placing one teaspoon of salt into a glass of mineral water and using this on cotton balls to clean your dog’s eyes.
But if symptoms persist after about a day or two, the dog needs to go see the vet, especially if the discharge is a green, grey or yellow color. He will prescribe treatment that usually comes in the forms of drops, ointments or orals or injected medications.
Dogs Inclined to Get Eye Infections
There are some dogs more prone to get an eye infection, such as dogs with long hair around their eyes. If this is not properly groomed, it can irritate the eyes and cause diseases like pink eye. Dogs that are susceptible to this include the Lhasa Apso, the Shih ‘Tzu and the Pug.
The bottom line is that while most eye infections are easily treated, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your dog to the vet to be checked out to see if it is something serious. As responsible dog owners we all want our pets to enjoy good health and happiness for years to come, and that means taking care of their eyes, as well as their general overall health.
Ear infections are a painful affliction that can cause your normally peaceful dog to go into a frenzy of head shaking, ear scratching, and whining. While ear infections are usually not life threatening, they are still something that must be treated by your veterinarian.
Types/Causes of Ear Infections
There are three types of ear infections in dogs: outer ear infection, middle ear infection, and inner ear infection. Outer ear infections are less serious than either middle or inner ear infections. It’s important to get the treatment for an ear infection right away so as not to endanger your dog’s hearing, or have the infection worsen and cause more life threatening issues.
Some of the causes of ear infections in dogs include mites or other parasites, fungus, bacterial invasion, allergies, and bad hygiene. Some of the other possible causes include:
- Trauma to the ears.
- Hormonal abnormalities
- Hereditary or immune conditions
Symptoms of Ear Infections
Besides the itching and scratching that most dogs do when they have an ear infection, you will also likely see reddened patches inside your dog’s ears, along with excess and bad-smelling wax and discharge.
Breeds Likely To Get Ear Infections
Some types of dogs are more prone to getting ear infections. Dogs with long, floppy ears are the most likely breeds to be affected such as dogs in the spaniel family. The length of their ears and the amount of fur sometimes block the air circulation is vital in keeping your dog’s ears healthy. One way to prevent this is to keep your dog’s ears well-groomed.
Diagnosing An Ear Infection
If your veterinarian suspects that your pet has an ear infection, he will start by looking into the dog’s ears with an instrument called an otoscope. He will also take swabs of the inside of the ear to look at under a microscope or to culture them to see what organism may be causing the infection. He will also check for anything that might have gotten stuck in your dog’s ears and could be causing the pain.
Treatment for Ear Infections
An ear infection in dogs is usually easily treated. Depending on the kind of infection, a veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics, anti-fungal medications or other appropriate treatment. It all depends on what caused the ear infection in the first place.
For instance, if the dog keeps getting inflamed ears due to some sort of allergy, you will need to keep the ears cleaned, and give antihistamines and sometimes steroids. Your veterinarian will also do testing to find out what your dog is allergic to.
Another common cause of an ear infection is mites. If you see what looks like specs of dirt or coffee grounds sprinkled inside your dog’s ear, he likely has mites and your vet will clean out the ears and then prescribe an appropriate solution to kill the mites.
Prevention of Ear Infections
As stated earlier, owners should keep their pet’s ears nice and clean to help prevent ear infections. If your dog’s ears are clean and sweet smelling, then he is free of any infection. A little ear wax is normal, but not copious amounts of sticky, gooey or bad smelling ear wax.
Owners should clean their dog’s ears gently using cotton balls, never Q-tips, as they could break off and hurt your pet or get stuck in his ear. You can buy a special cleaning solution for dog’s ears at your veterinarian or pet supply store. You shouldn’t use harsh solutions like hydrogen peroxide or human solutions for cleaning ears.
All in all, it’s fairly common for dogs to get an occasional ear infection, especially dogs with long, floppy ears like spaniels. If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection, get him to the veterinarian as soon as possible to confirm it and get it treated.
Saliva dripping from a fang-filled mouth and vicious growling and snarling noises coming from what once was a beloved pet . . . . That’s the cliché we all envision when we think of the deadly disease of rabies in dogs. This scenario is a frightening and tragic scene if it occurs, as rabies is completely preventable with a simple injection.
Rabies is a disease that affects the central nervous system. It has been around for hundreds of years and while it rarely occurs anymore in the U.S. due to vaccination programs, in other parts of the world there are many deaths every year due to rabies, with statistics showing as much as one death from rabies every 10 minutes.
Animals get rabies by being bitten by another animal that already has the disease. It’s mostly carried by wild animals like skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes and especially bats. The disease appears in the affected animal’s saliva.
The virus concentrates in the salivary glands, and also gets into and damages the muscles used in drinking and swallowing. Rabies victims have severe pain if they try to take a drink and can be terrified at the sight of water, which is where the other name for rabies comes from – hydrophobia.
If a dog or other animal is bitten it will go through three stages of the disease as the virus spreads throughout the body to the brain: prodromal, furious and paralytic. It takes about three to eight weeks for the virus to get to that point and once the virus makes it to the brain, that’s when the dog has the virus in its saliva and can transmit it to someone or to another animal.
Prodromal phase – This stage lasts about two or three days in an affected dog. The dog will have a fever, act nervous and apprehensive, and have very erratic and strange behavior.
Furious phase – Next comes the furious stage, which lasts about a week in dogs. As the disease progresses, the animal becomes more and more vicious and aggravated. They may roam around and if caged, they will bite and attack the cage. Finally, the animal has seizures and dies.
Paralytic phase – Dogs may go into the paralytic phase, but not all animals do. It would happen within two to four days of the prodromal or furious stage. The dog would be lethargic, unwilling to move much, salivate and drool because it is unable to swallow, have deep and labored breathing, choke, and become increasingly weaker until they develop respiratory failure and die, usually in just a few days.
The only absolutely accurate way to determine if an animal has rabies it to do a microscopic exam of the brain, which requires the suspect animal be put to sleep. Testing is being done to try to develop ways to do testing using skin and or blood samples.
What if Your Pet is Bitten?
If a pet is bitten or scratched by any animal that is suspected of having rabies, and the pet hasn’t been vaccinated, then usually it is recommended that they be euthanized. If the owner doesn’t wish to do this, the pet has to be put into isolation for six months and then vaccinated one month before being released. If the pet has been vaccinated, they are quarantined for 45 days to make sure they don’t contract rabies and re-vaccinated.
What if a Person is Bitten?
If a person is bitten by a dog or other animal thought to have rabies, the animal will be quarantined for 10 days to make sure if they have the disease or not. If the person was bitten by a wild animal then they can receive shots to prevent them from contracting rabies. Humans exposed to rabies must undergo a series of shots called postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), that includes immune globulin and rabies vaccine. These must be given immediately, as if you wait until there are symptom, it isn’t effective. Humans who contract full blown rabies will die, as it is almost always fatal. You also need to report being bitten to your local health department, as all potential rabies cases are monitored.
Rabies is commonplace in countries like Asia, Africa, and Latin and thousands of thousands of people die every year in these places. If you must travel in these or other developing counties, you would take precautions against catching rabies and don’t touch or go around stray or wild animals.
Sadly, there is no treatment once a dog gets rabies, and if either an animal or a person gets it, it is most certainly fatal. Death can occur in as little as a week. The best thing is to get your pets vaccinated.
Preventing Rabies Through Vaccination
Rabies can be prevented through proper vaccination of your dog. The first version of a rabies vaccine was developed by Louis Pasteur in 1885, and since then it has undergone many improvements. By the 1920s a successful rabies vaccine for dogs had been developed, and is continuously being studied to see where it can be improved on.
Rabies vaccinations are mandatory in all 50 states, but there are still owners out there who neglect to get their animals vaccinated. Dogs usually get their first vaccination at about six months of age, and then can get a booster at one year of age. The booster is usually a vaccination that is good for three years.
All in all, rabies is an extremely deadly and contagious viral disease carried in the saliva and bite of an affected animal. The only way to prevent your dog from catching this horrible virus is to have him vaccinated and maintain booster shots hereafter the first shot at about six months of age. Rabies is fatal if your dog is bitten, so don’t let this happen to your furry friend.
If you are unlucky (like me), and your dog tears its anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) be forewarned; you are in for a bumpy ride. I love my dogs. They are healthy, happy and very active labs. But 18 months ago, when my Sophy tore her ACL I was just so unsure of what to do for her. So I did my research. Read one internet site and they tell you you can “cure it” by rest and confinement. Read another site and they say you should immediately take your dog in for surgery to minimize arthritis later in life. Well I made my decision for Sophy and was convinced it was the proper one.
Fast forward 12 months and my other dog Chester tore his ACL in a “sports injury”. Having already gone through this once with Sophy, I did the research all over again. This time I made the mistake of telling someone of my decision and they verbally attacked me. They said “how can you play God with the life of your dog”. At first I was horrified and felt ashamed; then I just got angry! Who was she to judge me. But it was because of that one comment that I started the Raising Healthy Dogs site.
And I have one crucial piece of news for you….we will all make mistakes. Just like our parents made mistakes raising us, we will make mistakes raising our dogs. All we can do is make decisions for their welfare based on imperfect and often biased information and the resources we have available to us. So if you dog tears an ACL, do your research, speak with your vet and a surgeon if necessary and shut out all the negative noise. Following is an overview of the problem and various treatment options. It was written by a vet and reviewed by a surgeon. For anyone interested, I chose TPLO for both dogs. If anyone want so talk about the experience or has questions, let me know. I am more than happy to share my experiences and tips for recovery.
To understand what happens when a dog ruptures his cruciate ligament, and how it can be treated, we need to learn a little about the anatomy of the knee joint.
Your dog has two cruciate ligaments in his knee. They criss cross the space between the femur and the tibia (hence their name), and prevent these bones moving forwards and backwards against each other. Between the two bones lie two little crescents of cartilage called menisci (singular is meniscus). These act as shock absorbers when your dog walks and runs, and protect the cartilage at the end of the two bones.
Rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is by far the most common injury that can occur to a dog’s knee. There are two common scenarios that occur when this ligament ruptures. Firstly, a young active dog hurts his knee while he’s running around playing games or chasing birds. Secondly, an elderly dog with weakened ligaments or a degree of arthritis may sustain the same injury because the ligament has degenerated with age. In both cases, there is a sudden onset of lameness, and the leg is so painful that they can’t put their foot down.
If your dog has ruptured his cruciate ligament, you have several treatment options to choose from. In most cases, surgery is necessary to prevent excess movement in the joint, which will inevitably lead to arthritis. Surgery also allows your veterinarian to tidy up any ragged edges to the menisci, which can cause ongoing discomfort.
Let’s have a closer look at the different ways of treating a cruciate rupture in your dog.
Non Surgical Treatment
If your dog is small, you may choose to do nothing. When the acute pain resolves, little dogs may recover enough to be comfortable with being given pain relieving anti-inflammatory medication when required. Natural joint support products such as glucosamine and green lipped muscle extract can also help. It can take over 4 months before they recover to this level. This treatment option is really only appropriate for dogs under 30lbs, as heavier animals put too much stress on their knees. Keep in mind also that long term use of anti-inflammatory drugs can have effects on your dog’s stomach and kidneys.
Prolotherapy can be useful in helping to manage a cruciate rupture if surgery isn’t an option. This procedure involves injection of a solution into the knee which causes scarring around the joint. This scarring helps to stabilize the joint and reduce excess movement. It’s a controversial procedure; it can have good results, but it can also lead to complications such as excessive inflammation. To get the best outcome from this procedure, it should be done by an orthopedic specialist.
If your budget allows it, surgery is still the best option for all cases of cruciate rupture in dogs.
“Extracapsular” means outside the joint capsule, so this method of repair doesn’t involve any implants or modifications to the inside of the knee joint.
After the joint has been opened, and any damaged bone, ligament and meniscus have been removed, a strong suture is placed on the outside of the knee to take the place of the torn ligament. The suture is passed behind the fabella, a small bone that sits right at the back of the knee near the bottom of the femur, and then through a hole drilled through the front of the tibia. It is tied sufficiently tightly to stabilize the knee, while still allowing a normal range of movement.
Post-operative care involves 8 weeks of rest, then a gradual increase in exercise. Over time, scar tissue will develop around the knee joint, and this will reduce excess movement. The suture itself often breaks within 12 months after the procedure, but by then the knee should be held stable by its own tissues.
This procedure is quick, and inexpensive when compared to the more invasive methods of repair. It can work well in small dogs, and is particularly useful in puppies, where you don’t want to make changes to the bones themselves while they are still growing.
This is another extracapsular method of repair, but in this case, a hole is drilled through the bottom of the femur, and the top of the tibia. A double band of strong Fiber Tape is passed through these holes and down the outside of the joint, and serves to replace the ruptured cruciate ligament.
This procedure is relatively easy to perform, and is also more affordable than the repairs that involve cutting and manipulating the tibia. It has been shown to be effective in treating cruciate rupture in most sizes of dogs, however many veterinarians prefer to restrict its use to dogs that weigh under 70lbs.
Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)
TPLO is the most commonly recommended method of repairing a ruptured cruciate ligament in dogs. It relies on cutting and rotating the tibia in such a way that the dog’s own weight bearing stabilizes his joint. After the tibia is cut and moved, a metal plate is screwed to the tibia to keep it in its new position.
This is a very complex procedure, and should only be undertaken by veterinarians who have had special training in how to do it correctly. It is expensive, costing several thousand dollars. There are several reasons for this:
It should only be performed by an orthopedic specialist.
- Multiple x-rays are necessary to make sure the cut in the bone is done in the right place.
- The metal screws and plate are expensive.
This procedure is suitable for dogs of all sizes. It is particularly appropriate for larger dogs over 50lbs, and for athletic dogs such as those involved in agility competition. It’s not the best choice for dogs whose bones haven’t finished growing, because the physical changes to the tibia can lead to their own set of problems as the bones continue to grow.
As with other methods of cruciate repair, exercise must be restricted for 8 weeks after surgery, and most dogs return to full function after 3-4 months.
Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA)
This is another repair method that relies on biomechanics to stabilize the knee joint. The idea behind this relatively new procedure is that if the top of the tibia and the patellar ligament (the ligament from the kneecap to the front of the tibia) are realigned at 90 degrees to each other, the joint will be stable when the dog walks.
Again, the tibia is cut, but this time the front of the tibia where the patellar ligament actually attaches is removed, and moved forward. It is held in position by metal implants, and the gap between the front of the tibia and the rest of the bone is filled by a bone graft.
Although it doesn’t sound like it, the TTA procedure is less invasive, and has similar results to the TPLO surgery. It too is expensive, because of the metal implants and because it must be done by a board certified specialist. Dogs that have had TTA surgery often appear to recover quicker than those with a TPLO, however by 6 months post-operatively, both procedures have a similar outcome.
The TTA is suitable for all dogs, and which procedure your dog undergoes may just depend on your orthopedic specialist’s proficiency at each. You’ll find that some specialists prefer to perform a TTA, while others feel that they get better results from the TPLO procedure.
Post Operative Care
Your orthopedic surgeon will prescribe pain relief to keep your dog comfortable and will give you specific advice on how to care for him after his operation.
After surgery to repair a ruptured cruciate ligament, the most important thing you can do for your dog is to rest him. Ideally, keep him crated and only take him out on a leash to go to the toilet.
Most dogs feel quite well long before their bone has healed, and this is when many owners start to take them for walks or otherwise increase their activity. This can cause breakdown of the surgery, so it is vital that you follow your vet’s directions very carefully.
Post-operative physical therapy can be beneficial to dogs after this type of surgery. This can take the form of massage, hydrotherapy, and gently moving the leg through its range of motion. The results are reduced swelling and inflammation, and increased healing, which will improve your dog’s demeanor and attitude.
A ruptured cruciate ligament is a severe injury, that can have long term effects on your dog’s well-being. Fortunately, it can be treated and in most cases, this results in a return to normal function.
There are two main factors which influence which treatment option is right for your dog.
- Finances. Some procedures are more expensive than others, and your family budget will have a big impact on how your dog’s knee is repaired.
- Your dog’s age and size. Some procedures are not appropriate for young dogs, and others are less likely to be successful in large breeds.
- A third factor is your orthopedic specialist’s preference, and their experience with each of the procedures.
Take the time to discuss your options with your dog’s surgeon, and together you will decide on how to treat your dog so that he again can enjoy going for a walk or playing with you in the park.
Your new puppy suddenly gets a foul smelling bloody diarrhea and starts throwing up, and is definitely not his usual playful self. It’s time to get him to the veterinarian as soon as possible, as he could have the deadly disease parvovirus.
What is Parvovirus?
Parvovirus is an extremely contagious viral illness that is spread from dog to dog by both direct and indirect contact with infected feces, as well as germs on surfaces like clothing, food dishes, floors, etc for up to five months. It’s also thought that rodents and insects carry it from place to place. It is a very serious and potentially deadly disease and in some circumstances, dogs can die in as little as two days with or without treatment.
Two Types of Parvovirus
It has two varieties: one that attacks the heart and one that attacks the intestinal system. The first is more common and the second causes respiratory or heart failure in young pups. The heart harming version is rare and much more serious. It causes severe inflammation and destruction of the heart muscle, as well as breathing difficulties and death. If a dog survives this type, it will have permanent scarring of the heart muscles.
The average incubation period is from one to two weeks before the exposed dog actually shows symptoms of parvovirus. Plus, the virus that causes it can be found in an affected dog’s feces several days before you even can tell he has it, and stay there for a week or two after the dog gets the illness.
Factors in Catching Parvovirus
Four factors play a part in how bad the disease can manifest in dogs : age, strength of the virus, maternal antibodies (in puppies) and the breed of dog. Puppies can get the maternal antibodies from their mother’s milk in the form of colostrums in the first days of life.
Certain breeds of dogs are more inclined to catch parvovirus including Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and Labrador Retrievers. And certain breeds are less susceptible, including Cockers and Poodles.
Symptoms of parvovirus can range from almost no symptoms (usually in an older dog) or very serious symptoms, which usually appear in puppies that are less than three months old. Symptoms include:
- Severe smelly diarrhea
- Bloody feces
- Loss of Appetite
- Lowered white blood cell counts
Treatment for parvovirus is mostly supportive, as it is a virus and no anti-viral has been found to be effective against it. Dogs are kept hydrated, and their electrolyte balances watched to see that they stay as close to normal as possible, as well as prevent any secondary bacterial or other infections. The replacement of fluids the dogs have lost due to the vomiting and diarrhea is the most vital part of the treatment, and sometimes dogs must be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids to ensure this is accomplished. For severe cases, blood or plasma transfusions may be necessary to replace lost proteins, and help prevent anemia.
Antibiotic therapy is given for any secondary bacterial infections that pop up during the course of treatment, and corticosteroids can be administered if the animal is in shock. A dog can also be treated with drugs to stop the vomiting if it is very severe.
Without immediate veterinary care, up to 80 percent of dogs with this horrible disease will die, but with proper treatment, that same amount can be expected to survive.
Parvovirus can be prevented with proper vaccination against this disease. Puppies are usually vaccinated at about three months of age, as it doesn’t always work before that timeframe. A booster is given later on at about 20 weeks of age and annually after that.
Disinfecting the Home
If your dog gets parvovirus, you will have to disinfect all the surfaces with a solution of chlorine bleach diluted one ounce of bleach to a quart of water. This effectively kills the virus.
However, it is almost impossible to kill the virus in yard, so if you have a dog that has recovered from parvovirus, it’s best to not to add another dog to the household for at least six to nine months until the virus that has been shed in the yard dies off. There is not a disinfectant product available to clean yards against parvovirus that is approved for us. Exposure to sunlight helps the process go faster.
The bottom line with parvovirus is that prevention is the best policy. If your dog contracts parvovirus there is a good chance he could die or even if not, could end up with a severely compromised heart or other problems later in life. Get your puppy vaccinated as soon as he is old enough and prior to that, be extremely careful as to where you let him walk or play.
Your furry friend depends on you to keep him healthy and happy, so talk to your veterinarian today about how to prevent parvovirus.
Arthritis is a disease that causes inflammation, pain and stiffness of the joints. It can affect dogs just like it does humans and statistics show that one out of every five adult dogs that have chronic pain are afflicted with this debilitating disease.
Older dogs will eventually develop some sort of arthritis due to the normal wear and tear on the cartilage around the bones. However, it can affect dogs of any age depending on the type of arthritis and what caused it to occur.
There are two kinds of arthritis: degenerative and inflammatory.
Degenerative or osteoarthritis: This type of arthritis is seen more in older dogs and is caused when the cartilage around the bones is destroyed. It can occur because of either normal stress on abnormal joints or abnormal stress on normal joints. One form of doggie degenerative arthritis is caused by hip dysplasia, which is a disease that causes malformed hip sockets that result in an afflicted dog having its back end go out when it over-exerts itself.
A dog might also have loose kneecaps, ruptured ligaments, over use of muscles, stretching or tearing ligaments, or some sort of injury to the joints. Some of these can be helped by surgical repair of the affected joint.
It can sometimes take years for this type of arthritis to get so bad that it affects a dog since cartilage has no nerves, so it isn’t felt right away. The dog may not feel it until the joint is so badly damaged that the lubricating fluid around it has thinned out and can no longer protect the bone around it.
Inflammatory: This kind of arthritis can be caused by infection or by some sort of immune deficiency disease. It is characterized by multiple joints being affected, and other symptoms such as fever, anorexia, and all-over stiffness. It is usually caused by bacteria, tick-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, or a fungal infection.
If it is the immune deficiency type, it may be hereditary. Although rheumatoid arthritis such as humans get is rare in dogs, they can still get it, plus other forms of immune-related arthritis. It is essentially caused by a weakness in the dog’s immune system that causes the animal’s body to attack its own joints. This type is seen less than the first type of arthritis.
A veterinarian has to be sure which of these types of arthritis a dog has because the treatments are very different. If the wrong type is diagnosed, the medication can actually cause some types of arthritis to worsen.
A vet will determine the type of arthritis through x-rays, palpitation of the joints, blood tests and joint fluid analysis. For instance, in the case of arthritis caused by an infection, the fluid around the joints will have bacteria and excessive white blood cells in it.
Symptoms of Arthritis
Some of the signs that your dog’s pain could be arthritis are:
- Limping on one particular leg
- Trouble sitting, standing or getting up from lying down.
- Stiff or sore joints.
- Doesn’t want to jump, run or climb stairs.
- Doing less or doesn’t want to play or move much.
- Pain when touched in certain parts of the body.
- Lagging behind when you take him for a walk.
Treatment for Arthritis
Treatment for canine arthritis is similar to treatment for human arthritis and could involve:
- Putting your dog on a healthy diet with the proper exercise to help him maintain a proper weight.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like aspirin.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or omega fatty acids
- Rimadyl (carprofen) is used to treat pain and has little side effects. However, if your dog is on it long term, you must get his liver checked regularly, but it does a good job for most affected dogs.
- Adequan (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) is an injectable medication given twice a week for four weeks. It helps the pain, as well blocking destructive enzymes that cause the inflammation of the joints, stimulates the production of joint fluid and helps repair damaged cartilage.
- Palaprin6 is a special buffered aspirin for dogs and is better for them than human aspirin, which sometimes causes stomach issues.
- Cortisone shots.
However, you should never give your dog people medicines if your veterinarian hasn’t prescribed them, as you may give the wrong dosage and some human drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin) can be poisonous to dogs.
Diet, Exercise and Alternative Therapies
Dogs with arthritis may be put on a diet to get them to an appropriate weight since excess weight causes pressure on joints and can make arthritis worse. Your veterinarian may also prescribe periods of rest to allow the joint to heal.
Even though your first thought might be that exercise would make arthritis worse, it’s actually part of some forms of treatment because if a dog doesn’t use the affected joints, it will cause the muscles around it to deteriorate and there will be even more pain. Therefore, a managed exercise routine is necessary and your veterinarian can help you design one appropriate for your pet.
Other possible choices are treatments such as acupuncture, massage sessions and chiropractic sessions.
If your dog has arthritis, you may want to ensure that your home has carpeting instead of hard wood floors, as carpeting is easier for the arthritic dog to walk on. He will also do better with a soft bed to support his injured joints and there are actually special beds for arthritic dogs such as a memory foam, waterbed, or hammock bed. Heated beds also are good for dogs with arthritis and can provide pain relief.
If your dog is finding it harder to climb into the car or up onto other surfaces, you can buy special ramps or doggy stairs to use to assist him.
All in all, arthritis is a disease that attacks the joints and causes pain and stiffness. It usually happens in older dogs, but can affect dogs of any age depending on the type. If your pet has been diagnosed with arthritis, it can be treated so that he can be more comfortable and remain your faithful friend for years to come.
Obesity is becoming as severe a problem for dogs as it is for their owners. Studies show that in the last 20 years dogs are steadily catching up to humans in terms of being overweight. It’s estimated that between 25 and 40 percent of dogs are either obese already or will become obese. Pet owners are feeding their dogs too many snacks and not giving them enough exercise, and the problem is becoming epidemic.
Serious Medical Issue
Canine obesity is no laughing matter and is a very serious medical problem. If a dog is overweight, he is more at risk for injuring himself, has too much stress on his vital organs and joints, more susceptible to diabetes and high blood pressure and suffers a greater risk if he needs surgery. For example, dachshunds are prone to develop a slipped disk disease and if the dog is overweight, it can make it even more likely it will not only develop the problem, but it will be even more debilitating than if he wasn’t overweight.
How Can Tell If My Dog Is Overweight?
There is a simple way to judge if your dog is overweight. If you can still feel your dog’s ribs with a slight layer of fat and you can still see that your dog as a noticeable waist and belly region, then he is probably not overweight. However, if there is a heavy layer of fat over the ribs, and his body looks all round and roly-poly and you can’t tell where his waist is, then your dog is most likely overweight. And if your dog has a lot of fat and a protruding stomach, then he is likely morbidly overweight and you have an even more serious issue.
Of course, you need to take into consideration the breed of your dog, as some dog’s bodies are made up differently and this method would have to be modified. In addition, certain breeds are more inclined to gain such as Basset Hounds, Labradors, Beagles, and Collies to name a few.
Your veterinarian can also help you determine if your pet is overweight.
Nutrition for the Overweight Dog
All dogs must get the right amount of fats, oils, proteins and carbohydrates to maintain their health. Even though your dog would need to lower his calorie intake to lose weight, he still has to get enough to maintain his body’s needs.
Overweight dogs still need the proper nutrition to thrive, so you can’t just feed him less or switch over to the supposed diet dog foods without speaking with your veterinarian. These foods are sometimes special prescription products and the portions have to be monitored if the dog is to lose weight, and still maintain the nutrition he or she needs. Another issue is that the diet foods aren’t good for a dog’s skin or coat and if they stay on them too long, they develop a dry, flakey skin and after a while a dog’s metabolism can even adjust to the food and they stop losing weight.
How Can I Help My Dog?
First, just because your dog looks at you with those big soulful eyes doesn’t mean he is actually starving. If you know that you are feeding him a good quality dog food with the proper nutritional standards and in the amounts that your veterinarian has recommended, than he is getting enough food.
Check out the calorie count on the snacks that you feed your dog. Treats like Charlie Bears have very few calories compared to others that can contain as much as 100 – 200 calories (or more) per treat. The best treats are all natural like apple slices or carrot sticks. Snacks should only make up only about 10 to 15 percent of a dog’s daily diet.
Exercise is A Good Choice
Exercise is vital to keep any dog healthy whether he is overweight or not. If you provide your dog with a few daily walks and some interactive toys, you both can even lose weight together, which is an added bonus for maintaining your own weight.
Be careful though, if your dog isn’t used to this much activity, you have to gradually build up to vigorous play or long walks just like you would for an exercise program for yourself. Be sure to watch your overweight dog, especially in hot weather to make sure they stay hydrated and aren’t having problems breathing from over exerting themselves.
Just remember, your dog didn’t get fat in one day and you can’t get him thin again in one day either, it takes time. How fast this occurs depends on factors such as the dog’s age, activity level and metabolism.
All in all, obesity in our best friend and pet, the family dog, has become a very serious issue and if we want to keep our pet as long as possible in our lives, we need to be aware of this dilemma and help to prevent our dogs from getting fat.
Suddenly your dog falls to the floor, twitching and is unable to control his movements, his paws shake and he has a faraway look in his eyes. A few second later, he gets up, and seems shaken, but then appears fine. You dog may have just had one example of an epilepsy attack.
It’s been estimated that up to six percent of dogs in the world have epilepsy, which acts the same way in canines as it does in humans who are afflicted with it.
Epilepsy is a neurological disease of the brain that causes uncontrolled, recurring seizures. Essentially, the neurons in the brain aren’t working properly, so the nerves in the brain send a scrambled signal to your dog’s body and it can’t work properly and seizures happen. Epilepsy also involves an improper balance of the chemicals that make the neurotransmitters in a dog’s brain function.
Types of Epilepsy
There are three types of epilepsy
- Idiopathic or Primary Epilepsy— Idiopathic or primary epilepsy appears in about three percent of the cases of canine epilepsy and makes up 80 percent of the seizures. It usually shows up in a dog at somewhere between about six months and five years of age. It is usually inherited and some breeds are more prone to it than others such as beagles, Irish setters, collies, golden retrievers, poodles, dachshund, German Shepherd, Belgian Tervueren and Yorkshire terriers.
- Secondary Epilepsy – This kind is caused by chemical or physical abnormalities of the dog’s brain, which may have been caused by an injury or disease. It’s different from primary epilepsy because you can tell the dog has some sort of problem, even if he isn’t in the midst of a seizure.
- Reactive epilepsy — This kind of epilepsy is due to a problem caused by a condition the dog has such as cancer, infection, heart disease or low blood sugar. This type would have to be treated by treating these underlying conditions.
Types of Seizures
There are several types of epileptic seizures:
- General Seizure: This type can be manifest as mild all the way up to the Grand Mal type attack. If your dog suffers the worse type, he will fall to the ground, lose consciousness and have rigid legs. He may even stop breathing. This part of the seizure lasts about 10 to 30 seconds.
The next part of the seizure is called the clonic phase and that’s when the uncontrolled movements of pawing the air, chewing motions, dilated pupils, or even uncontrolled urination, and defecation.
It you dog is having a mild seizure, he won’t lose consciousness or get rigid limbs, but he may still suffer twitching and uncontrolled motions.
- Petit Mal: This kind is rare in dogs, but if they are confirmed to occur, they involve signs such as unconsciousness, loss of muscle tone, blank stare, and eye rotation and only last a few seconds.
- Partial Seizures: These seizures usually happen on just one side of the dog’s body. It may looks as mild as a facial twitch, or involves muscle jerking, moving on leg, or other twitching movements.
- Complex Partial Seizures: These seizures involved things in animals such as chewing, smacking, biting the air or body, aggression, vomiting, hysterical running, hiding or cowering, as well as vomiting, diarrhea or stomach issues. These strange symptoms could last for several hours, and then the dog might even get an additional seizure.
- Cluster Seizures: A dog gets several seizures in a row and close together.
- Status Epilepticus: One long seizure that lasts 30 minutes or longer. This can be a life-threatening type of attack and is usually only seen in dogs with a brain injury, not the inherited type of epilepsy.
- The important thing to note is that while your dog is experiencing a seizure, all you can do is try to stay calm and make sure there is nothing in the area he can get hurt on.
Stages of a Seizure
There are four stages of an epileptic seizure that can be documented: prodome, aura or preictus, ictus or seizure stage, and the postictus.
- Prodome – This can happen a few hours before a seizure happen. A dog may act strangely or out of character. Humans too have this occur before they have a seizure and get headaches or a change in mood.
- Aura – This is the start of the actual seizure and includes symptoms of restlessness, nervousness, whining, trembling, salivation, affection, wandering, hiding, hysterical running, and apprehension.
- Ictus– This is the seizure itself and it manifests depending on the type of seizure, lasting anywhere from a few second to several minutes or longer.
- Post ictus – This is after the seizure is over. A dog may act tired, confused, restless, etc when it ends. A dog will be conscious, but really is still not himself. An owner needs to make sure the dog is in a safe place and there isn’t anything around that he can get hurt with or on.
If your dog has a seizure, it may or may not be epilepsy. Your veterinarian will start tests and get some basic medical history on your pet and you will be asked to describe exactly how the seizures manifest. A dog will have blood, urine, and fecal testing done to rule out any other underlying conditions.
Other tests that could be done include MRI, X-rays of a dog’s skull, and an EEG.
What Treatment is Available?
Dogs that have more than one seizure a month are usually medically treated for epilepsy. Proper administration of any medications prescribed by your veterinarian have to be given in precisely the right levels, times, etc or it could make it worse.
The most common drugs prescribed are Phenobarbital and primidone, which are a type of anticonvulsant medication. Dogs that take these drugs must be monitored for any problems resulting from taking them such as impaired liver functions, which is a possible side effect.
A new drug that is becoming popular for difficult to control epilepsy in dogs is potassium bromide, which is also used in humans. It is also used in dogs that have liver problems. If a dog has kidney problems, the drug used is sodium bromide. These two drugs are also sometimes combined with Phenobarbital and primidone if needed.
Some people treat their dogs with other things besides the traditional medications. These therapies include things like acupuncture, and vitamins like Vitamin B6, magnesium and manganese.
Whatever treatment is used, it won’t cure your dog’s epilepsy, but it should help to decrease the amount of seizures. As long as your dog’s epilepsy can be controlled, he can still live a fairly normal life, you just must be diligent about his treatment so you can enjoy your best friend for several years to come.
Heartworms are a very serious and deadly disease caused by a parasitic roundworm called Dirofilaria immitis that attack a dog’s vital organs and eventually cause organ failures and death.
How is it transmitted?
Heartworm eggs are carried by mosquitoes, and when an infected mosquito bites a dog, the eggs are transmitted into the animal’s bloodstream. Once there, they hatch and grow into baby heartworms, which are a type of filaria, a small thread-like worm. Eventually they grow from microscopic size into long white worms up to 16 inches long that clog the dog’s heart, lungs and other vital organs.
The worms can take up to six or seven months to reach maturity and can live between five and seven years inside their host. Dogs can have up to 300 or so adult worms and thousands of the filaria in their systems.
Heartworms exist all over the U.S., World
The scary thing is that heartworm parasites are very commonly carried in mosquitoes in all 50 states in the U.S. It’s also been found in South America, Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Australian and Japan.
Symptoms of Heartworms
When a dog is first infected, he won’t show symptoms for several months, but once he does it can manifest in several ways:
- Severe coughing
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain
- Abnormal lung sounds
- Weight loss
- Heart failure
And in rare cases when the worms end up in an unusual part of the dog’s body like the eyes or the brain, or a leg artery, the dog can show symptoms of:
Prevention of Heartworms
It only takes one tiny mosquito bite to transmit the parasite eggs, and that’s why it is important that owners need to protect their pets from these deadly pests.
Heartworms can be easily prevented in several ways, including a variety of monthly medications. These are formed into tasty treats to make them more palatable to dogs. The drugs approved in the US are ivermectin (Heartgard, Iverhart, and several other generic versions; milbemycin (Interceptor Flavor Tabs and Sentinel Flavor Tabs) and moxidectin (ProHeart). Collies and collie mix dogs can’t take any form of invermectin, so be sure to talk to your veterinarian before starting your pet on one of these medications.
Moxidectin also comes in a shot form called ProHeart 6 and ProHeart 12 that can be given either once or twice a year. The latter was removed from the market in 2004 due to safety concerns, but the FDA approved a new version of the ProHeart 6 in 2008, which is used in Canada and Japan. Proheart 12 is still used in Australia and Asia.
In recent years, topical treatments have been introduced that also kill other pests like round worms, hook worms, tapeworms, fleas, ticks and mites. Some of these solutions include Advantage Multi (imidacloprid + moxidectin), Topical Solution, and Selamectin (Revolution). You should discuss with your veterinarian which preventative is best for your pet.
Before your dog goes on any of these monthly preventatives, he should have a blood test to see if he is already carrying the disease, as a dog can’t take the monthly meds if he already has heartworms.
Treatment of Heartworms
While these preventatives are relatively inexpensive, it’s very expensive, as well as dangerous to treat a dog that already is infested with heartworms. The reason is that you have to actually poison the worms and when they die, the dog expels them and has to be strong enough to handle it.
The drug that’s used is a form of the poison arsenic called Immiticide. Infected dogs are given two or three shots of it to kill all the worms in their body and the treatment takes several weeks to complete.
The whole process usually costs several hundred dollars and there is no guarantee the dog will survive the treatment. When a dog is treated, the worms die and break up, which can sometimes cause the lungs to be clogged up. For this reason, dogs have to be kept very still and quiet during treatment.
In severe cases, surgery is used to remove the worms from the dog’s body, but this is rarely used.
If your dog has heartworms and is treated, about 96 percent end up being cured.
All in all, heartworms are a very serious and potentially deadly disease that can easily kill your pet. That’s why the American Heartworm Society recommends you give your dog a preventative all year long. So, if you don’t want your best friend to get heartworms, be sure to have him tested at the vet and then put on a heartworm preventative.
Kennel cough, also called canine tracheobronchitis, is an infectious disease similar to bronchitis or a cold in people. It causes a dog’s upper respiratory system to be inflamed. Kennel cough gets its name from the fact that dogs in close quarters like kennels tend to get the disease more easily and spread it more.
There are two kinds of kennel cough: viral and bacterial, but both kinds are spread through sneezing and coughing. It can also be caught through infected contaminated surfaces like toys, sidewalks, or other areas.
The most common viral agent that causes kennel cough is parainfluenza virus, and if a dog gets the bacterial version, the likely cause is the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacterium. It’s estimated that about 90 percent of the cases of kennel cough are caused by the Bordetella bacterium. However, there are other organisms that can cause kennel cough and often the disease is caused by several infectious agents at the same time.
Other pets such as cats and rabbits can catch kennel cough, and some research has even shown that humans with compromised immune systems can sometimes catch the bacterial version of kennel cough.
Symptoms of Kennel Cough
The main symptom of kennel cough is a harsh, croup like barking cough that sounds like there is something stuck in the dog’s throat. The cough usually occurs when the dog has exerted itself or gotten excited. Most dogs with kennel cough usually don’t lose their appetite and tend to act normally.
However, other symptoms can include:
- Vomiting up phlegm
- Watery Nasal Discharge
Symptoms can appear about 3 to 5 days after a dog is exposed to the disease. If not treated, it can lead to something more serious, such as pneumonia. It usually lasts from about 10-20 days, but can break out all over again if the dog is put into a stressful situation when it’s not completely well. In addition, a dog can pass on the disease up to four months after symptoms have passed.
Your veterinarian can confirm if your dog has kennel cough by using X-rays, blood tests and cultures.
If a dog’s symptoms don’t improve after about a week, you should take them back for a reexamination by your veterinarian. It’s possible the dog has some other underlying problem, or the disease has progressed to something like pneumonia. If this happens, the situation is much more serious than regular kennel cough.
Treatment for kennel cough
Infected dogs are given antibiotics if they have the bacterial form of kennel cough. Both types can be treated with a cough suppressant to help ease the hacking cough. Dogs that contract the viral version are given supportive care, as it is usually not serious and antibiotics don’t work on any type of virus.
Sometimes pressure on the dog’s throat can make the coughing worse, so it’s recommended that an infected dog wear a head collar or harness instead of a neck collar.
Dogs with kennel cough should get plenty of rest and be kept warm and comfortable. A humidifier can be used to keep the air moist and humid to help relieve the dog’s suffering, but be sure the humidity isn’t greater than 50 percent.
You can also try giving your dog a vaporizing type treatment by taking him into a bathroom, closing the door and running the show until it steams up the room. The dog should be allowed to breathe in the steam for about 20 minutes to help clear up the mucus in their lungs. This will help your dog to feel better since he will be able to breathe better.
Prevention is the best treatment
Dog’s can be protected against kennel cough by getting them vaccinated for canine adenovirus, distemper, parainfluenza and Boredetella. There is also a vaccination that is squirted into a dog’s nostrils. The second one acts more quickly, gives immunity in three or four days, needs only one dose and can be used in dogs as young as three weeks of age. After the first puppy shots, dogs should get an annual vaccination against kennel cough.
All in all, kennel cough is a very contagious, but not often fatal, disease. You dog should be vaccinated against it if he will be kenneled. If you believe your pet has it, and then you should have it confirmed by your veterinarian. In addition, if your dog gets kennel cough, keep him away from other pets until the disease has passed.
Canine distemper is an extremely communicable, multi-systemic viral illness that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. Distemper is caused by the canine distemper virus, which is similar to the germ that causes measles in humans.
It can’t be stressed enough how deadly distemper is. If an unvaccinated dog gets it, up to 50 percent of adult dogs and up to 80 percent of puppies will die. And even those that survive are usually severely compromised and can be weak the rest of their lives.
For example, puppies that get distemper and survive usually have severely damaged enamel on their teeth, and some survivors have thickened and hard foot pads, which is why you sometimes hear distemper called “hardpad disease.”
What Are the Symptoms?
- Eye discharge, ranging from pus-like to a watery appearance.
- Labored breathing
- Dehydrated and excessive thirst
- Nasal discharge
- Occasional weakness and emaciation
Neurological symptoms can occur several weeks after the clinical symptoms, in fact some dogs are thought to have recovered, only to have these symptoms appear weeks after the other symptoms subside. These symptoms can include:
- Muscle twitching
- Weakness or paralysis
- Seizures (of any part of the body, but seizures that look as if the dog is chewing gum are unique to distemper)
- Convulsive movements of the head and paws
How Does A Dog Get Distemper?
Distemper is passed through the bodily fluids of an infected dog, usually by the infected animal sneezing or coughing onto the healthy dog. The germs appear in the infected dog’s saliva, urine, feces and nasal discharge. It’s rare for a dog to get it from something like contact with an infected animal’s food dish, as the virus germs can’t live long on such objects.
Within about two to five days the virus makes its way into a dog’s lymphatic tissue, and then by the next few days has made it into a dog’s blood stream. It can then spread to other bodily systems such as the lungs, intestines, bladder and nervous system.
While you can’t catch distemper from your dog, you can infect other dogs by getting the germs on your clothes, shoes or hands if you have been around dogs that have distemper, so be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and wash clothes in hot, soapy water with bleach to kill the germs. Don’t handle other pets before getting rid of the germs you may have picked up.
Other dogs should be kept away from any infected animals and a good disinfectant containing phenol, or a 1:20 dilution of household bleach should be used to clean the kennel, floor, toys, food dishes, etc from the infected animals.
One of the main reasons a dog gets distemper is because it either wasn’t vaccinated or it didn’t get any immunity from the mother dog in the weeks before immunization is possible. Before the modern distemper vaccination protocol was developed, many dogs died of this deadly disease. The best thing you can do for your pet is to get the proper vaccinations they need so you don’t have to be concerned about him getting distemper.
The dog distemper vaccination usually is given at about six to eight weeks of age, then every two to four weeks until the dog is 16 weeks old. After that the dog gets a booster a year later, and then every three years. The shot usually has not only protection against distemper, but also from parvovirus, parinfluenza, adenovirus, letospirosis and sometimes cornonavirus. Talk to your veterinarian to be sure which formula is the best for your pet.
Who Can Catch Distemper?
Usually puppies between three and six months are the dogs that come down with distemper, usually because they were not vaccinated after they were weaned from their mothers. However, any unvaccinated animals can develop this deadly illness. Older unvaccinated dogs can also catch it, but usually have a milder form than puppies.
Treatment for Distemper
There is NO cure for distemper. I say again, there is NO cure for distemper. That’s why it’s vital for owners to get their pets immunized. About the only thing a veterinarian can do is give supportive care such as intravenous fluids and anti-seizure medicine if the dog gets the neurological part of the disease.
One positive note in this sea of despair is that if you own both dogs and cats, your cats can’t catch the canine version of distemper. What we know as cat distemper is an entirely different disease and dogs can’t get it either.
Distemper is a deadly, usually fatal, disease that attacks dogs’ respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. It can be prevented through proper vaccination.
Bottom line? Get your dog vaccinated against canine distemper, the scourge of the doggy world.
Bloat. Such a simple word that may not sound serious, but it is dead serious when it comes to dogs that get this life threatening condition. Bloat is considered the second leading cause of dog death right after cancer and nearly 50 percent of all dogs with bloat die.
What is Bloat?
Bloat, which can also be known as torsion or gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), is when a dog’s stomach gets filled with too much gas and it stretches it out of shape. It can be made worse when the stomach actually twists in on itself because if this happens, the stomach blocks the esophagus and the gas build up has nowhere to escape. If it gets bad enough, it can block the windpipe as well, and the dog won’t be able to breathe.
If the bloat is allowed to continue, it puts pressure on the blood veins, causing low blood pressure and decreased blood flow to vital organs like the heart, stomach, liver and spleen. All of this causes shock and if not treated fast, it will lead to blood poisoning, peritonitis, toxic shock and eventually death.
What Are The Symptoms of Bloat?
In the early stages, bloat isn’t always easy to spot. For this reason, all pet owners should be very aware of their pet’s habits, as it could save their lives. Signs include:
- Vomiting or attempting to vomit every few minutes. Vomit may be foamy or just saliva.
- Restlessness or the inability to lie down comfortably. This would include panting and not acting like himself.
- Distended hard stomach.
- Trouble breathing
- Erratic heart beat
- Asking to go outside repeatedly, especially in the middle of the night
- Being all hunched up and miserable looking
- No digestive or gurgling sounds in the stomach
- Coughing or choking sounds
- Pale gums
- Licking the air repeatedly
- Standing with legs spread all out
- Drinking a lot of water
- Heavy panting
How Can It Be Treated?
Boat is a true medical emergency, not something to fool around with and try to treat at home. It can kill a dog in a matter of minutes. If you suspect your dog is having a bloat attack, then you can administer something like Gas-X, Pepcid, or other medication containing simethicone. BUT—you still MUST call your veterinarian and get your dog there as soon as possible, as his life will depend on it. This can’t be stressed enough.
First, your vet will likely start a fluid therapy which may contain saline, dextrose and balanced electrolytes to help get the dog’s blood pressure back up to normal. Sometimes steroids and antibiotics are added as well, depending on the dog’s condition.
The vet will also want to get rid of the excess gas inserting a lubricated tube down into the dog’s stomach or passing a catheter attached to a large bore needle through the dog’s skin into the stomach.
Surgery may be needed to remove the excess gas, fluid and any material that is blocking the dog’s stomach. Your vet may also have to untwist the stomach if needed. In some cases the dog’s stomach will be stapled to the wall of the dog’s body so it can’t twist a second time, especially if your dog has gotten bloat before and seems predisposed to get it again. If any of the stomach tissue has died due to loss of blood supply, it will be cut out and the stomach sewn back together.
If all goes well, your dog will likely remain in the hospital for about a week and may need to be put on a special diet, take medication and take care of the surgery wounds.
Prevention of Bloat
Even if your dog survives an episode of bloat, there is still as much as a 70 percent chance of it happening again. To prevent a relapse you can take some of the following steps:
- Don’t let your dog drink water one hour before or after eating. When he does drink, make sure it is small amounts at a time and he doesn’t gulp it.
- Divide mealtimes into three times a day, instead of one large meal. Don’t let your dog gulp down his food or he may swallow air.
- Don’t feed your dog from a raised food dish.
- Feed a high quality dog food that isn’t high in fats and oils. Fat should be at least fourth down in the ingredients, and preferably the protein level should be 30 percent or higher.
- Don’t let a dog exercise or play roughly after eating for at least two hours.
Large Breed Dogs Are Especially Prone to Bloat
If you have a large breed dog, especially one with a deep, narrow chest, then he may be more susceptible to getting bloat. Breeds that are affected regularly are Akita, Great Dane, German Shepherd, St. Bernard, Irish Wolfhound, Irish Setter, Doberman Pinschers Weimaraner, Bloodhound, and other similar breeds. For example, a Great Dane has about a 37 percent chance of getting bloat sometime in its life.
Another interesting note is that pure bred dogs seem to be more likely to develop bloat then mixed breeds. Perhaps the mixing of the genes helps to protect the dog if the other breeds are not the ones prone to bloat. It also occurs more in older males dogs, which get it twice as much as younger female dogs do.
All in all, the important thing to remember is that time is of the essence if your dog develops as case of bloat, since it can kill in minutes. If you think your dog is suffering from bloat, don’t take chances with your pet’s life. Get them to the nearest veterinarian as soon as possible.
A dog is not an impulse purchase. If you decide to invite a dog to join your family, you are choosing to share many years of your life with this animal. During that time you are responsible for training him, feeding him, grooming him and keeping him safe. You must do your homework before you make such a monumental commitment and a potentially huge change to your lifestyle.
To give your dog the best possible life, you need to invest time and money in him. The amount of both of these resources varies with the breed of dog you choose. Let’s look at some of the issues you need to consider before choosing your four legged best friend.
This is a very practical consideration. If you live in a small apartment, you may find a Great Dane will move through your home like a tornado, knocking over everything in his path. Under these circumstances, a middle sized or smaller breed of dog will mean you don’t need to spend as much of your time picking things off the floor. Similarly, if you live on the top floor of your apartment block, a Newfoundland may not enjoy having to walk up and down the stairs every time you want to take him out for a stroll.
Those with a detached home and a large backyard have the luxury of choosing any sized breed, but there are still other factors that come into play before you make your decision.
The purchase price of your dog is the least of your financial concerns. Dogs need to be fed, and they need regular routine care such as vaccinations and parasite control. There is always the chance of an unexpected emergency and its associated veterinary costs. You need to be prepared for this. It’s logical that larger dogs eat more, and they need a larger dose of worming tablets and antibiotics. Surgical procedures such as neutering are also more expensive; because bigger dogs use up more anesthetic and post-operative pain relief medication.
Don’t just look at your present budget, but consider what may be around the corner for you. Are you planning on starting a family? If so, your income may drop and you may no longer be able to afford to care for your huge St Bernard. Do you hope to buy a house? Mortgage payments use up a big chunk of your monthly income, and there may not be as much left over for dog care.
When you are choosing a breed of dog, look into the potential health problems of each breed. For example, British Bulldogs are beautiful dogs, but they can suffer from respiratory problems, skin problems and eye problems. They’re not an ideal choice if you don’t have very good means, because their veterinary expenses can drain your bank account very quickly.
All dogs need some exercise, but the amount varies between breeds. Working breeds such as Border Collies need a lot of physical activity, or they become bored. A bored dog is like a naughty preschooler; they create their own entertainment which can include digging up your garden, pulling laundry off the line and barking at the birds in the trees. If you’re a runner, or a hiker, a working breed would be a great companion for you on your outings. They’ll take as much exercise as you can give them, and will thrive on the activity.
On the other hand, if your idea of exercise is getting up from the couch during the ad break to grab some more cheese and crackers, these working dogs are definitely not for you. They will be miserable, and you’ll not be happy with your choice of dog. Instead, consider a fellow couch potato – Whippets and Greyhounds will happily snuggle next to you for hours, and will be content with a half hour walk every day.
Some dog breeds are known for their intelligence, and they are easy to train. These animals will be quick to learn good manners, so they can fit into your lifestyle with barely a ripple. For example, German Shepherds are known to be quick learners. On the other hand, Beagles are charming companions, but unless they are asked to sniff out a trail, they aren’t as easy to train. If you take on this breed, you need to be prepared to spend longer on basic training.
When we talk about training, we are also talking about the need for mental stimulation. Intelligent working dogs must have something to do with their brain, or they will not be happy. This means that you will need to spend time on such activities as trick training, obedience and agility so your dog can expend his excess physical and mental energy.
Keep in mind also that puppies usually need a greater investment of time than an adult dog. Potty training will need weeks or months of vigilance on your part, and you’ll also need to take them out and about to socialize them. If this sounds like a lot of work, then perhaps an adult dog that is already toilet trained and well socialized is a better choice for you.
Dogs, like people, have different grooming needs and preferences. If you don’t like to spend much time doing your own hair, you may not want to invest too much time and energy tidying up your dog’s tresses. A short coated dog with a low maintenance coat is the right choice for you.
Some people are quite happy to spend their time trimming, tidying, clipping and combing their dog’s coat. If this describes you, you’ll enjoy owning a long coated breed that needs a little more grooming. Again, plan for all eventualities. If for any reason you can’t care for your dog’s coat for a while, you’ll need to arrange for a groomer to do it for you. Otherwise his coat may become matted and knotted, which is very uncomfortable.
It’s not fair to welcome a dog into your home, then decide you can’t afford to care for him, or you don’t have time to exercise him. Dogs develop close bonds with their human family, and it is stressful for them to have to change homes, or spend time in a shelter, because their owners can no longer care for them.
You need to spend enough time thinking about your budget and lifestyle, and researching your preferred breed, to ensure you end up with the perfect breed for you. By doing this, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of good times with a loving and loyal canine companion.
Vaccination is a controversial topic amongst dog owners. We all want to do what’s best for our dogs, and we don’t want to risk them coming down with a preventable disease. We also don’t want to cause them to become sick from over vaccination. As we improve our understanding of how the immune system works. vaccination recommendations often change, and it’s not easy to keep up with those changes.
Here are the facts about safely vaccinating your dog.
- Vaccines do save lives. Veterinarians agree that they are seeing fewer cases of potentially fatal diseases such as parvovirus and distemper since widespread vaccination became available.
- Unvaccinated dogs may not become sick with a preventable disease, but this is because of a phenomenon known as “herd health”. If most animals are vaccinated against a disease, then that disease doesn’t get the opportunity to develop a foothold in the community. As the number of vaccinated animals decreases, there is more chance of a disease epidemic. Some veterinarians confirm that there are areas in their towns where many dogs aren’t vaccinated, and here they regularly see cases of parvovirus.
- Most vaccine protocols recommend a course of puppy vaccines between 8 and 16 weeks of age. Some breeds don’t respond to vaccines as effectively as other breeds, so they need their own individual protocol. Rottweilers are one breed that falls into this category.
- In adult dogs, the main veterinary governing bodies including the World Small Animal Veterinary Association and the American Animal Hospital Association recommend that the core vaccines are given no more frequently than three yearly.
- This raises another point – what are core vaccines? Core vaccines are those that are recommended for every dog. Distemper and parvovirus fall into this category. Non-core vaccinations are optional, and depend on where your dog lives, and what activities he enjoys. In some areas of the United States, dogs are routinely vaccinated against Lyme disease, because the tick that spreads this disease is prevalent in those areas. If your dog is involved in dog training or spends time in boarding kennels, vaccination against kennel cough is a good idea.
- There is certainly a risk of vaccination reactions in dogs. These can be as simple as aches and pains, or as severe as an immune mediated destruction of a dog’s red blood cells. There is a very small risk of a dog developing a vaccine associated fibrosarcoma, which is a type of cancer, but this is extremely rare. Fortunately, adverse reactions are uncommon, and veterinarians agree that the risk to your dog of not vaccinating him greatly outweigh the chances of him having a reaction to a vaccine. Currently, there are no studies that support the theory that spreading out vaccines and reducing the number of vaccines given at any one time will reduce the chances of a reaction.
So, where do you go from here? How do you take this information, and work out what your dog needs? You’ll need to vaccinate your dog with the core vaccines, that’s a given. As far as which non-core vaccines to use, this depends on your dog’s activities, where you live, and other factors such as whether or not your dog is likely to be exposed to disease. By taking all these factors into account, and with your veterinarian’s help, you’ll be able to develop an individual vaccine regime for your dog that protects him from disease and minimizes the risk of any vaccine reactions.
Find the right doggy doctor for your best friend.
Your dog is a very important part of your family, so it makes sense that you will want to choose his doctor very carefully. After all, this person is going to be your partner in keeping your dog healthy and happy for the rest of his life. With many towns having multiple veterinary clinics, it can be hard to know where to start looking for this special person.
Because most veterinarians have similar qualifications, the one thing that will differentiate your veterinarian from all the others is the rapport you develop with them. There’s no point in having the most experienced veterinarian in your state caring for your dog if you don’t feel that you can talk to them.
The first thing to do is to ask your friends and family where they take their dog when he needs veterinary care. These people love their dog as much as you love yours, and wouldn’t settle for second rate service. If you belong to a dog club, your fellow members may be able to offer some recommendations.
From there, make a list of the clinics that are within a comfortable driving distance for you. The last thing you want is to have to spend an hour in the car when your dog is sick! Phone each clinic, and ask for details of their opening hours and basic consultation fees. Find out also if their staff is available for emergency treatment, or will you need to go to a nearby emergency hospital?
This should allow you to cross out some of the clinics on your list – some may not be open when you come home from work, and others may be beyond your budget. The next step is to visit the remaining clinics in person, and don’t forget to take your dog with you.
When you walk into a clinic, your first impression counts. Is it clean and free from bad odors? Are the staff welcoming, even if they are working hard? Do they say hello to your dog? Trust your gut feeling, and based on your experience with each clinic, list them in order of preference.
At this point, you can do one of two things. You can keep your list handy, and make an appointment with the first clinic on your list when your dog next needs to visit a veterinarian. Alternatively, if he is due for a health check, or if you can afford it, take him in for a consultation and meet the people who will be caring for him.
It may take a little while for you to find the right veterinarian for your dog. It’s worth the time and effort. If your dog ever has an accident or becomes unwell, you’ll be more relaxed, because you have confidence in the people who are caring for him.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been used to treat ailments in people for over two thousand years. This treatment method uses very fine needles to stimulate specific points in the body known as acupuncture points. The result is a free flow of energy through the body, which leads to recovery. As with many human therapies, acupuncture is now available to our pet dogs, and many veterinarians are able to offer this service to their canine patients. The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society offers accreditation courses to veterinarians who want to learn more about this alternative therapy.
Acupuncture is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal problems in dogs such as arthritis and joint sprains. It is particularly popular with those whose dogs are active in dog sports such as agility. It can also play a role in managing chronic skin allergies, as well as gastrointestinal disease.
The main advantage of acupuncture as a treatment is that it is safe. There are no side effects, such as those that may occur with medication. Dogs don’t seem to object to the needles being inserted, and they’ll often lie still and relax for the time it takes to treat them.
There are some disadvantages to keep in mind. Acupuncture often needs to be repeated reasonably often in the early stages of treatment, up to three times a week, and it may need to be continued for several months. The cost can add up, and you may need to rearrange your weekly schedule to make sure your dog gets his treatments at the right time. Also, the response to therapy may not be immediate. In fact, there may not be any obvious response at all, as some dogs don’t appear to benefit from this type of treatment.
A 2006 review of the evidence that acupuncture works in animals suggested that it does appear to have an effect, and it is worth further investigation. However, the review concluded that there was no compelling evidence to either recommend or reject acupuncture as a treatment option for our dogs.
What does this mean for you, the dog owner? If you prefer to use alternative therapies to treat your dog, then acupuncture is worth a try. It is safe, and your dog may benefit from it. However, he may not respond at all and you will then need to look at other treatment options, either natural or conventional. You also have the option to use acupuncture as just one part of your dog’s treatment. It can be safely used in combination with drug therapy or surgery, depending on your dog’s condition.
I have had acupuncture on two of my dogs with mixed experience. My first dog Molly was about 13 when she started getting stiff from arthritis. So she went through some acupuncture treatments and I really felt the sessions made her feel better. She certainly walked better for weeks after her treatment. So years later, when my wild puppy Sophy has some incontinence problems, my vet said I could do nothing and hope for the best, put her on meds for her entire life or try acupuncture. So I figured I’d give it a try since it worked so well with Molly. At her first (and last) treatment, Sophy was unnaturally calm allowing the vet to put all the pins in her. Felling pretty proud of my little girl, I was hoping for the absolute best results. Well, when the last pin was in, Sophy looked at me, then she looked at the vet and shook every pin out of her with one massive body shake. To this day the vet and I have a good laugh about it! So for me, I will keep an open mind and will certainly try it again.
If you decide that acupuncture treatment is something you want to try for your dog, make sure you visit a veterinarian who is properly trained in this procedure. The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (www.ivas.org) can recommend a veterinarian who is certified in veterinary acupuncture. This way you can have confidence that the person treating your beloved companion knows what they are doing, and will provide the best treatment for him.
Unless you learn how to read dogs food labels, it can be difficult to make sense of what is written there. However, it’s important that you do learn how to interpret a label to make sure the food is appropriate for your dog.
The front label should tell you what age group and activity level that the food is designed for. So, if your dog is a couch potato, don’t choose a food for active dogs. It will contain too much energy for him, and his waistline will expand very quickly! Similarly, if you own a young pup, avoid foods for senior pets because they won’t contain the right amount of nutrients for growth.
On the back of your dog food can or packet, there is a smaller label that lists the ingredients in the food, as well as the nutrient analysis. What do you need to look for here?
The ingredients are listed on a dogs food label in descending order of quantity. More expensive foods will have meat or meat by products at the top of the list. Cereals don’t cost as much as meat, so you can expect cheaper kibble to have rice, corn or sorghum as their number one ingredient.
There is a difference between meat and meat by-products. Meat specifically refers to lean muscle meat such as the type we’d eat ourselves. Meat by-products can include any meat that is left on the carcass after the cuts for human consumption are removed, as well as other body parts including lungs, kidneys, clean intestines, blood, bone and fatty tissues. Although they may not sound very savory to us, our dogs enjoy them and they are a more affordable protein source than lean meat.
The remainder of the ingredient list will include vitamins and minerals, amino acids and preservatives which are necessary to make the dog food nutritionally balanced, and to prevent spoiling.
The next thing to do when you read a dogs food label is to look at the fat and protein content. Unlike people, dogs use fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. The higher the fat content, the more energy in a food. This should be taken into account when you are choosing a food for your canine companion. Foods with fat levels of up to 7% are a good option for weight loss. Puppy foods often have up to 16% fat and over 25% protein, to provide enough energy and building blocks for their rapid rate of growth and muscle development. Adult dogs do well on a diet with 12-14% fat and up to 20% protein.
The last part of the label on your dog food is a feeding guide, which tells you how much of the food you should feed your dog per day. This may or may not be appropriate for your dog, and should really only be used as a starting point. The best way to work out how much to feed your dog is to look at his condition. If he is too lean, feed him more. If he’s developing a generous waistline, cut back on how much you put in his dinner bowl.
Next time you are feeding your dog, spend a few moments reading what’s written on the bag of kibble, or on the back of the can.
- Don’t be fooled by dog food labels which say all natural. Currently there are no clear guidelines or specifications about natural food for dogs.
- If a dog food label mentions ingredients such as meat meal, bone meal, by-products and potato products, it is better to avoid it. This is important because if the food label mentions by- products it can be any part of the animal, which can include bones, feet, head or anything else. In addition, if the food label mentions meat meal or beef meal it signifies that it is not whole meat.
- Always look for dog food, which mentions whole meat such as beef, liver, chicken and lamb.
- Look for whole vegetables in the dog food label. Vegetables such as peas and carrots are good for your dog’s health.
- Generally, all dog food labels will list the preservatives used. Select dog foods which have Rosemary, Sage, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopherols, Ascorbic acid and other forms of Vitamin C.
- Avoid purchasing food where the label lists strange ingredients in high concentration
If you can learn to read dogs food labels, you’ll be able to choose the right food for your dog.
While your favorite Hollywood starlet may rely on lasers to reduce wrinkles and remove excess hair, laser treatment for dogs serves a completely different purpose. Lasers are used by veterinarians to treat acute and chronic injuries, pain and inflammation, and are becoming increasingly popular. They are also being used after surgical procedures to speed up the healing process. Many dog owners are concerned about the risk of side effects with conventional pain relieving medication. They are seeking safer, more natural methods of making their four legged family members feel better, and this is where laser treatment comes into its own.
What is laser treatment?
A laser directs a ray of infra-red light energy into the injured part of your dog’s body. This light energy reduces inflammation and increases the flow of blood to the area which encourages healing. It also enhances their body’s immune system, and causes the release of endorphins which help to relieve their pain. There is also a suggestion that the light energy affects nerve endings, and stops them sending pain messages to the brain.
Does it work?
There are few research papers that show laser treatment does work in animals. However, many veterinarians can share their own experiences that suggest it is effective in easing pain in dogs. It appears particularly useful in managing chronic arthritis, as well as sudden injuries such as ligament strains. It has also been used to treat ear inflammation, bladder inflammation, and skin wounds. Wherever there is inflammation, laser treatment may be useful.
After my dog Chester had TPLO surgery to repair a torn ACL, I took him for physical therapy to accelerate the rehabilitation of his leg. After some strength training and time in the underwater treadmill tank, we would end his session with a laser treatment. At his 6-week check up with the surgeon I mentioned the laser treatments and the surgeon asked me if I thought it worked. I told him that I could not tell for sure but Chester sure loved be cooed over and treated like the king he really is (his full name is Chesterfield King). When I relayed the story to me family vet, he said “of course it works. Not only do we all use it here on our pets, but we use it on our own aches and pains”. My vet also owns a horse farm and told me they had been using lasers on horses for decades.
Pros and Cons
What are the advantages and disadvantages of laser treatment in dogs? On the plus side, laser therapy won’t cause your dog any problems. The laser that is used for this type of treatment won’t burn your dog’s skin at all. This treatment also doesn’t have the same potential side effects as pain killing medication.
The results of laser treatment can be long lasting. A single course of treatment can provide several months of pain relief.
The negatives? Laser treatment for dogs usually relies on multiple visits to your veterinarian. This will be costly, and it may be difficult to fit frequent visits into your busy schedule. Your dog may have laser therapy on alternate days for one week, and then the frequency is reduced to once or twice a week for two to three weeks.
While it is expensive, any medical treatment for your dog will cost you money. Anecdotal reports suggest the price of laser therapy in dogs is comparable to the cost of long term anti-inflammatory medication. But many veterinary practices will offer a packaged price if you sign up for multiple treatments. I think I paid about $35 per session. Veterinary care in the Northeast of the US is generally pretty expensive so it could cost less where you live.
Not all veterinary practices have the facilities to offer laser treatment for your dog, so you may need to travel to find a veterinarian who can provide this service.
Pain can really affect your dog’s enjoyment of life. Laser therapy for dogs can provide pain relief with no adverse effects, and help to put a spring back into their step. So if you have a dog who is suffering from pain, ask your vet if laser therapy is right for them.
I do not have any immediate need but in case one of our readers do I applied for credit. It is a no-interest deal for 6, 12, 18 or 24 months. If you do not pay within the specified time frame (6-24-months) the interest rate it terribly high (like 29%), BUT if you find you need immediate financing it might be very useful. I applied and within 30 seconds I was approved. Here is the response I got:
You will receive a CareCredit card in the mail within 7-10 days. If you wish to use your account before your card arrives, simply present this page with two valid forms of identification.
|When I visited their site they asked for my zip code. My vet is far away from my zip code so I typed in his zip and sure enough his practice participates. I have no idea what the approval criteria is or what the gotchas may be (other than if you do not pay within the promotional period you pay 30% interest), but if you are approved, they send you a credit card, supposedly within 7-10 days that can be used as required. I will keep you posted as to how it really works. I just thought I would post this now in case anyone has an immediate need. My pups are very important part of my life and I would hate for a temporary financial bind to keep me from giving them the care I want to provide for them.
Be well my friends.
When looking to provide the best care for our dogs, we often think about ensuring that we have chosen the right vet, offered the right food, and offered enough activity to both physically and mentally keep our pets stimulated and happy. While these things are certainly crucial, however, they are not always the complete picture. There are many supplements out there that can help offer increased health benefit to our pets, and knowing what to look for is important. Today, we will examine why your dog might see health benefits from the regular use of bee pollen.
One benefit of offering your dog bee pollen supplements is that it can help reduce your dog’s sensitivity to airborne allergens. Providing bee pollen supplements can help to slowly aid your dog’s immune system in building immunity to these allergens, resulting in a significant decrease in allergy symptoms and overall physical reaction to irritants such as ragweed and grass pollen. If you are using the supplements for this purpose, it is recommended that you start offering them at least six weeks before the main ragweed season begins so that your dog will have time to build immunity.
Of course, this isn’t all that bee pollen can do for your dog. Many people consider pollen to be nature’s perfect food. In fact, did you know that not only is bee pollen comprised of 40% protein, but that it also contains virtually every nutrient that humans need to survive? This is pretty incredible, considering the vast array of foods that we have to eat in order to meet our nutritional needs. What is even more incredible is that bee pollen also offers an array of healing benefits for humans and dogs alike.
When looking at bee pollen supplements, you might be surprised at how many benefits they can offer. Bee pollen supplements can help increase your dog’s energy levels considerably, improving vitality and quality of life. It can also help to lengthen your dog’s life span, stimulating organs and helping to offer rejuvenating effects throughout the body. Few supplements can offer such a whole body approach, especially when considering supplements that occur naturally. When combined with other high potency supplements such as Omega 3 fish oils, the benefits can be increased even more. When you truly want to provide your dog with the best health and care possible, bee pollen should certainly be something you consider.
However, as with all things concerning the health and wellness of your pet, before introducing anything new to their diet, check with your vet to see if a bee pollen supplement is right for your dog.
While there are many places you can get bee pollen supplements, Springtime, Inc. is a company I have been buying supplements from for years. Note that I am not compensated in any way for referencing Springtime, they are just a good company I have been buying supplements from for years.
As a dog owner, you want to do the best you can for your animal. You likely provide the best possible veterinary care, spend time walking and playing with your canine companion every day, and generally doing things to ensure that your dog is both healthy and happy. This is certainly a great way to live, and our animals are very much a part of our families. If you are looking to provide your dog with additional health benefits, you may wish to consider offering an aloe vera supplement, and today we will look at why this is the case.
Most people use aloe vera only whenever they have a sunburn, but the truth of the matter is that this simple plant can offer a variety of health benefits. If you are looking to really make the most of the plant, it can be worth your time to look into all that it offers. As a powerful astringent, it is certainly effective at helping to boost the healing process in your dog following an injury or surgery, but it can do much more as well. For example, it can be tremendous for various skin conditions.
Just like their human counterparts, some dogs are prone to skin conditions such as eczema, allergies, and other problems. What you might not know is that applying aloe vera or offering your dog an aloe vera drink can help alleviate these conditions. It is shown to have a tonic effect on dogs and can help boost energy levels, increase appetite, and much more. It can even help reduce sensitivity to external irritants in dogs who are prone to allergic reactions. There are a number of other benefits to aloe vera suspected that are still being researched.
Aloe vera is helpful for a number of conditions in dogs, including a variety of inflammatory conditions. The supplement is highly recommended for dogs with arthritis as well as inflammatory bowel conditions such as colitis. Treating these conditions is important, and you will find that dietary and other changes are also necessary, but offering aloe vera as well as supplements containing fish oil can prove to be incredibly beneficial in speeding along the healing process and helping to reduce symptom severity and duration. Your pet is an important part of your family, and if you are looking to ensure his or her continued health, adding aloe to the diet can be of great benefit.
However, check with your vet before using aloa vera for your pup.
As humans, we are often told of the many benefits of taking fish oil supplements. After all, these powerful anti inflammatory supplements can help with a wide range of conditions. But what about when it comes to pets? You might be surprised to learn that Omega 3’s are as beneficial to your dog as they are to you. There are a wide range of canine health conditions that can be treated or even prevented in your furry friend simply by offering these supplements, and a vast number of conditions can be lessened in severity and duration.
As humans, we know that Omega 3 fish oils are very potent as anti-inflammatory supplements. For your dog, this can mean a number of benefits. Fish oil can help treat arthritis in dogs and can even help prevent it. Fish and fish oil supplements are considered healthy because they contain the omega 3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The EPA in fish oils is shown to help reduce joint damage and even to help ensure healthier cartilage within the joins. It is also shown to help treat a wide range of inflammatory conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions such as colitis.
Omega 3 fish oils can also help your dog in terms of many other conditions. Allergies and skin problems are often alleviated with the regular use of fish oil, and you will find that these supplements can give your dog a much healthier coat. Yeast infections in the skin are much easier to resolve as well. In terms of blood, fish oil offers the same benefits for dogs that it does for humans in terms of reducing bad cholesterol levels, preventing brain and kidney damage, and even helping to significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular problems ranging from high blood pressure to clotting and even sudden death.
In addition to helping treat all of these medical conditions, fish oil also offers other benefits for dogs as well. Studies show that these oils can help improve brain development in puppies and to prevent the deterioration of brain tissue in older dogs. The supplements can do a great deal to help improve intelligence, reduce mental decline, and even improve mood. For dogs with trouble learning and being trained, fish oil has proven remarkably effective. With all of this in mind, it is easy to see that fish oil supplements aren’t just for humans. In fact, they are very highly recommended for our canine companions as well.
But fish oil supplements are not for every dog. Since it has a mild blood thinning effect, it should not be combined with any blood thinning medications unless directed by your vet. As in all things related to the health and wellness of your canine companion, always check with your vet before introducing any new supplement to their diet.
Winter is a great time for walking and hiking with your dogs; no bugs, no humidity, fewer people. But there are also some real challenges when hiking or walking with our dogs in the Winter. Besides the extreme cold, there is also the possibility of ice and snow. So before hitting the streets or the trails, be prepared. Following are some cold weather tips for walking and hiking.
The level of preparation you will need to take will depend on the type and personality of your dog. A small hairless dog will have greater needs that my big labs that thrive in the colder weather. But you also need to take into consideration, the age and health of the dog. Both my dogs had surgery to repair the ACLs and have titanium plates in their legs. So it is likely they will be more sensitive to the cold then they have in the past. Older dogs often have arthritis and while they may start out ok, as the walk continues they may become increasingly stiff and experience some pain. Puppies bone structures are not fully formed so a long hike in the snow may just be too much for them and make cause them distress later in life.
First and foremost, winter brings cold temperatures and ice. A nice fleece dog coat or sweater is a welcome addition for many dogs winter walking. In icy conditions, many communities apply deicers, salt and lots of other harmful chemicals to streets and roadways. These chemicals can be very harmful to your pups. So ideally, your pup can wear some dog boots. Unfortunately, many dogs will just not tolerate the boots, therefore you need to wipe their paws thoroughly when they get back indoors.
While your dog has claws and paws that provide them with some traction, slipping and sliding on ice could damage their ligaments so minimize, or better yet eliminate time spent around large areas of ice. For your own protection, you should also have some traction for walking in the snow or ice. There are several great products available that slip on over your shoes that will provide you with some light traction. I never leave home in the winter without my Yaktraks.
If you will be walking or hiking in snow, check your dogs paws before leaving the house, particularly if you have a dog with longer hair. Snow and ice-balls with cling to their paws. To minimize this, first make sure their nails and the fur between the paws are trimmed to minimize the accumulation of snow. You can also spray the paws with a special deicing solution or just spray their paws with a light application of olive oil or cooking spray.
Be extra careful when walking or hiking your dog off-leash in the winder. Dogs will lose their keen sense of smell in extreme cold or snow and may get lost. So make sure you only visit areas your pup knows well or make sure you have an excellent recall command instilled in your dog. Finally, stay away from lakes, ponds and other bodies of water that freeze up. Besides the slipperiness of the ice, if the water is not completely frozen they could fall in requiring a dangerous recovery.
Enjoy your winter hikes and walks and be safe.
Click here for a listing of some products you might want to check out for winter hiking.
Preventing dental disease in dogs is important and more emphasis should be placed on it by dog guardians. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs show signs of dental diseases by age three. This could explain why Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) reports that its policyholders filed more than $5.1 million in claims for routine dental care in 2009 and over 1,000 filed claims for tooth abscess.
Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent canine dental diseases and is typically the result of plaque and tartar. Food and bacteria collect on the surface of the tooth and gum line forming plaque. When plaque is not removed from the tooth, it turns into tartar. Tartar refers to mineral deposits that harden on the tooth and above and below the gum line. This in turn causes yellowing or staining of the tooth and inflammation of the gums which causes your dog pain and tooth decay. Left untreated, tartar can cause gum disease (periodontal disease), destroying the nerve of the tooth causing abscesses, loose teeth and more extreme pain. And if that isn’t enough, similar to humans, canine dental disease is often thought to be a contributing factor to diseases in other organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and other systemic diseases.
But canine dental disease isn’t always the result of poor oral hygiene. Rough play, chewing certain bones and cow hooves can also cause damage to the tooth, usually in the form of broken or chipped teeth.
Common signs of dental disease in dogs are:
- bad breath
- reluctance to eat or chew anything hard
- bleeding, red or puffy gums
- brown or yellow stains on your pups teeth
- excessive drooling
- loose or missing teeth
If your dog is displaying any of these signs, take him to your vet as soon as possible. Teeth cleaning, tooth extractions, root canals and other oral procedures can be expensive. VPI reports the average cost of a tooth extraction is about $900. That is why it is so important to develop a routine maintenance program for preventing canine dental diseases.
Preventing Dental Disease in Dogs
The American Veterinary Dental Society recommends the following steps for proper oral care for your dog:
- Schedule an initial dental exam with your vet. February is National Pet Dental Health Month. During February many vets will offer special prices on cleanings and exams which can save some money. But if your pet is experiencing any problems now, don’t wait.
- Begin a dental regiment at home. This would include brushing your pets teeth on a routine basis. Some vets recommend twice a day others recommend two to three times a week. My vet says once a day is good, more than that is great but likely over zealous. Some vets recommend giving your dog bones, while others are adamant that bones be avoided. So the best advice is to check with your vet to get a list of steps and products.
- Schedule regular dental check ups with your vet to determine your progress (or lack thereof)
If you are like me, you love your dog, as if it was an intricate part of your family. And when your beautiful dog suffers pain from bug bites and stings you want to relieve that suffering as quickly as possible. However, you also know that a visit to the vet, to help sooth bug bites and stings, can cost you upwards of a $100 or more by the time you pay for the visit and the medicine. Frankly, you don’t have to pay that kind of money to help your dog or any pet that is suffering from bug bites and stings.
The tips you will find below are inexpensive and the chances are you will already have some of the ingredients in your medicine cabinet or in your kitchen. I have used everyone of these over many years too treat my dogs.
This first tip is one you may have never even considered or even thought about it:
Meat Tenderizer. Yep! You heard right. All you have to do is pour the meat tenderizer into the bowl and then add water. Once it has thickened into a paste simply apply it directly to the sting or bite. There is a good chance your dog will experience almost instant relief. The really cool thing is you can reapply it if needed, without worrying about it maybe harming your pet.
Alternatively, try dabbing ammonia directly to the bite or sting with a cotton ball. However make sure not to apply around the nose and eyes of your ‘Fido’. Also if your animal has extra sensitive skin it’s a good idea not too use it to smooth bug bites and stings.
Another tip is to apply aloe vera gel that you can get from your local drug store. Apply the gel directly on the bite. The results are almost instantaneous.
Now this tip is one that will reduce the swelling and itching right away. But, it may require some patience. If it’s a sting, search the area where your dog is biting and scratching. There is a good chance the stinger may still be embedded in the skin of your precious pet. Once you find it and remove it then you can apply some aloa vera gel or even bathe it with a cold cloth.
Speaking of a cold cloth this is going to be my last tip to you. Try putting several pieces of ice into a wash cloth and hold directly on the sting or bite. Just like you, your animal will find it will soothe bug bites and stings.
If you’re wondering if these tips are safe for your dog when your trying to relieve the pain and itching, check with your local vet.
Many pet owners won’t neuter their male dogs. Some transfer their emotions about the procedure onto their dogs, and decide that it’s a cruel and unusual punishment. But most avoid neutering their dogs because they’ve heard one or more of the many misconceptions about neutering. Despite all these rumors and myths, neutering is a responsible procedure that won’t harm the health of your dog. Here are some of the corrected misconceptions that keep many from having their dogs neutered.
Your dog will not become depressed for lack of sex. Dogs aren’t humans, and don’t feel the same way about sex that humans do. They won’t miss the intimacy or the romance, like some people believe. As much as some people seem to think otherwise, dogs are animals, and their drive for sex is only instinct. Not having sex will not harm, or depress, your dog.
Your dog will not become weak or effeminate. Neutering does not affect a dog’s physical abilities or strength. In fact, neutering removes the sexual instinct that has some dogs climbing the walls. Neutering can correct many behavioral problems cause by the sex instinct in some dogs, especially in households with one or more pets and in a household with female dogs as well as people.
Your dog will still bark at strangers, if it does now: The belief that a neutered dog will no longer make a good guard dog is ridiculous. It’s a clear case of humans passing off misguided beliefs about masculinity and strength onto dogs. If the dog happened to be born sterile, would that make it less a dog, or less suited to be a watch dog?
Neutering is a responsible and loving thing for a pet owner to have done: Many people use the argument that neutering an animal is unnatural. But if you follow that to its logical conclusion, then having a dog as a pet isn’t natural either. Dogs used to be wild pack animals, so humans keeping a dog and providing for all its care is just as unnatural. Look at it another way.
Your dog relies on you to take care of it. You feed it, pet it, and take it to the vet when necessary. Neutering your dog can protect it. A female dog in heat can make a male dog run from its owner to reach her, possibly getting the dog lost or putting it in danger on a busy street. Male dogs act different and more aggressively around females. Neutering your dog eliminates these dangers.
Your dog won’t get fat or stop being active: If you don’t overfeed your dog and neglect to take him for walks, your dog can’t suddenly bloat up after being neutered. This is a popular misconception because it does happen sometimes—but it’s not because of the surgery, but rather the habits of the owner. Just be sure to feed your dog the proper amount of food, and make sure he gets plenty of exercise.
One of my favorite things to do with my dogs is to hike with them off leash. But over the years there have been several occasions where mine or my friend’s dogs have gotten into trouble. Only preparedness and clear thinking carried us through the situation.
First and foremost, always try to walk or hike with a friend. That way if something happens and either you or a dog gets hurt and are immobile, the other person can go for help.
Make sure your dog (and you) have proper identification so that if you get separated you will be able to have your pet returned. Some people will put their cell phone number on their dog’s tags so that if they do get separated in the woods the person finding your dog will call your cell. Of course, cell phone coverage may be spotty or non-existent so consider having more than one number on the tags.
While it is essential to keep a pet first aid kit in your car, it is also a good idea to carry one with you while hiking. If not a full first-aid kit then at least carry some minimum supplies like gauze and an ace bandage. Another thing you can do to be prepared is to take a first-aid course or buy a first-aid book so that you know how to treat certain injuries. Slashed paws, torn arteries, dog fights, bee stings and other animal bites are some of the more common injuries. If you are hiking in an area where cell phone reception is poor you may have to take immediate action. Without first aid supplies handy and at least some basic knowledge of how to treat the injury, you might not be able to help.
Always know where the nearest 24-hour emergency animal hospital is. Often when hiking we do it away from home. So while you may know where the 24-hour emergency animal hospital is close to your home, when hiking elsewhere you might not know where to go unless you looked it up in advance. If you have a cell phone, program in your vet’s phone number as well as the phone number for the emergency clinic so that you can call in advance allowing them to get prepared or offer any advice. If you have a GPS, program in addresses for any 24-hour emergency animal clinic you might be hiking. This is also true if you are traveling out of state with your pup. Get the name of the 24-hour emergency animal hospital in that location too.
Finally, keep a copy of your dog’s rabies certificate and dog license in the car just in case they lose their tags and you need to prove they do have the necessary vaccination.
With any luck you will never need this advice, but it is better to be prepared in advance. Happy hiking!
It seemed like everyone was out this weekend buying holiday decorations for their homes. But before decorating with plants, remember your four-legged friends. When ingested, some holiday plants will cause our dogs mild irritation while others can be downright dangerous. Following are three of the more common holiday plants and their toxicity. A complete list can be found at the poison control section of the ASPCA website.
Poinsettia is probably the most common plant found in holiday decorations and is generally thought to be toxic to dogs. For years it seemed that poinsettias topped the list of dangerous to dogs and should be eliminated from your decorations. More recent studies have failed to show high levels of toxicity but show that ingesting poinsettia can cause stomach upset, nausea, burning of the mouth, and in some case vomiting. Some studies and vets even suggest that poinsettia can be considered “non-toxic”. Well I don’t know about you but any plant that can cause my pup to vomit is something I would take extreme care with.
Mistletoe is one of the more toxic plants. Leaves and stems are reported to be more toxic then the white berries. Ingestion can cause diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty breathing. Eating large quantities can be fatal. If your dog has consumed any quantity of this plant call your vet immediately. If your dog is vomiting they may be dehydrated and need IV fluids
Holly is another plant that can cause vomiting, diarrhea and depression in dogs. Eating just a few red berries can make your dog sick. Holly can be problematic because it could be in your yard and you may just forget about it until your pup gets sick.
If your pet has ingested any of these plants, call your vet or animal poison control.
So while holiday plants can be beautiful, take care when decorating with them around dogs, other pets or small children.
Proper nutrition for puppies is very essential to ensure their proper and healthy growth. Growing pups require proper nutrition to remain disease-free and have a normal growth.
Nutrition for your puppy:
To make sure that your canine friend stays healthy and fit, you need to take care of all its nutrition needs. Following information will help you in this regard:
- Protein: Proteins, also known as “building blocks,” of the tissues, are very essential for the normal development and maintenance of the skin, coat, muscle and other organs of a puppy. Proteins comprise 23 different amino acids. A puppy’s body can manufacture 13 out of these 23 amino acids. The remaining 10 amino acids should come from plant sources other than meat.
- Carbohydrates: If you wish to see your four-legged sweetheart full of energy and zest, take care of its carbohydrate needs. Carbohydrates are made of starches and sugars and act as a primary source of energy. Plant sources, such as vegetables and grains are considered to be the best source of carbohydrates and will provide your puppy with sufficient nutrition.
- Fats: Fats not only play an important role in the normal maintenance of your puppy’s coat and skin but also make its food tastier. Some common forms of fats available commercially are poultry fat, tallow, lard, hydrogenated vegetable oils and cottonseed oil. However, in your enthusiasm, don’t feed your puppy with excessive amount of fats, as it can lead to rapid growth spurts, which in turn can have a bad effect on bones and cause unnecessary weight gain.
- Calcium: To follow a healthy dietary regime, you puppy needs to have a strong and healthy set of teeth. This is where calcium comes in. Besides ensuring proper development of teeth, calcium also aids healthy development of bones. To meet the calcium requirements of a puppy, you can feed it with calcium supplements or add cheese to the dog food.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins are indispensible nutrients and can boost your puppy’s immune function and promote healthy growth. Minerals too are important for ensuring normal functioning of the nervous system, regulating heartbeat and maintaining fluid balance in the body. Include nutritious foodstuffs, such as broccoli, oatmeal, carrots, whole grain rice and yogurt in your puppy’s diet.
- Water: When talking about nutrition for puppies, you simply can’t ignore the importance of water- the most important nutrient. Ensure to provide your puppies with clean, fresh water at all times.
When buying dog food for your puppy, stay away from food containing any of the following ingredients (these foodstuffs are fillers and don’t have a high nutritional value. Besides, they can also lead to allergies.)
- Soy products
- Wheat or wheat by-products
It’s recommended that you consult an experienced vet regularly to ascertain that your puppy’s nutritional requirements are met. Now that you know the importance and source of proper nutrition for puppies, ensure that your pup gets all the necessary nutrients to have healthy development.
A hot spot is a hairless, intensely itchy patch found on a dog’s skin. They are also known as acute moist dermatitis, moist dermatitis and pyotraumatic dermatitis. As a responsible dog owner, it’s very important for you to be aware of the causes and cures of hot spots- one of the most common dog problems.
Causes of hot spots:
- Allergies: Allergies are one of the most common causes of hot spots. The allergy can be due to certain kinds of pollen, food or even the detergent used in their bedding.
- Flea Bites: The chemical nature of the saliva of the fleas can create hot spots.
- Anal gland problems: If the hot spots occur under your dog’s trail, the reason could be an infection or impaction of the anal gland.
- Poor grooming: Unhygienic living conditions and poor grooming too can lead to hot spots in dogs.
In certain cases, mosquito bites and ear infections can also be the causes of hot spots. If the problem is severe, it’s better to consult an experienced vet at the earliest. However, if the problem isn’t acute, you can treat it by following the below-mentioned simple steps:
- Shave the area: You need to be very cautious and careful, when shaving the affected area. A small mistake on your part can cause your dog a great deal of pain. Using the scissors and clippers, trim away the hair from the area in and around the wound.
- Cleanse the area: Soak a towel or cloth with a mixture of cold water and gentle skin cleanser, such as hydrogen peroxide, and blot the entire wound. After doing this, you’ll notice that the wound doesn’t appear as awful as it did earlier. After thoroughly cleaning the area around the wound of dried blood, debris and dirt, put away the cloth. After this, give the entire area a few squirts of anti-itch spray.
- Apply medication: Based on the size and severity of the hot spot, apply topical drying sprays, oral antibiotics or special shampoos, as prescribed by the veterinarian. Apply the ointment very carefully on the wound. After this, properly wrap the gauze around the wound.
Dogs have a habit of constantly licking their wounds and this further aggravates the problem of hot spots. Hence, to ensure that your dogs don’t lick, bite or scratch the area around the wound, apply bitter apple or any other equivalent spray to the bandage.
Natural Cures for hot spots: Black tea bags can prove to be one of the most effective natural cures. They contain tannic acids, which in turn help to dry out the sores and facilitate the healing process. You can apply the tea bags on the affected area and let it cool for around 5 minutes. Repeat the treatment around 3-6 times a day until the wound heals.
You can also consider applying Witch Hazel on the hot spots. It’s known to provide a soothing and cooling sensation.
Hot spots are one of the most common dog problems and many dog owners tend to ignore them at first. However, with time, the problem worsens and causes a tremendous amount of discomfort, irritation and pain to the dogs. Now that you know the common causes and cures for hot spots, ensure that your canine is rid of this problem at the earliest.
Tips for Dog Grooming:
Dog Grooming may seem to be a tedious task, but if you have the right knowledge, you will be amazed to see how easy dog grooming is. Benefits of dog grooming:
- Dog grooming keeps your pet dog’s coat free from fleas, ticks and other microorganism that cause harm to your dog’s health.
- Dog grooming involves regular brushing of the dog’s coat. This keeps the coat clean, healthy and shinning.
- Regular dog grooming helps you notice any abnormalities in your dog and take quick action to cure it.
- Proper dog grooming improves your dogs overall health and prepares it to participate in dog shows.
- The most important benefit of dog grooming is that, it improves the bond between you and your dog. The dog would receive your love and respond to you similarly.
You can either consult a professional groomer or consider grooming your dog at home.
Tips for dog grooming at home:
- Dog grooming should start with finding a right place for grooming. You must find a clean and comfortable workplace. It should have good lighting. While grooming, make sure that you have enough supplies of good quality dog grooming equipments.
- Trimming the dog’s hair is an important part of dog grooming. While trimming your dog’s hair (coat), make sure that you trim the hair around the dog’s ears, eyes and legs. These areas are often ignored by many dog owners.
- Bathing your dog regularly is also an important part of grooming. You must bathe your dog at least 2-3 times in a month. Use a good quality dog soap and shampoo for bathing it. While bathing the dog, make sure the soap doesn’t get into dog’s ears and eyes. It would cause a burning sensation in the eyes. If water does get into the dog’s ears, you can clean it with a dog ear cleaner which is readily available in all pet stores. Don’t bathe the dog in a tub if it doesn’t like it .Instead you can use a hose to bathe your dog.
- Dog grooming is incomplete without nail trimming. You must trim your dog’s nails once a month. Though many dogs don’t like their nails to be trimmed, it will keep their nails in good condition. Be careful not to hurt your dog while trimming and use a good quality trimmer. Make sure you don’t cut the nails too short since it will cause an infection. It is advisable to cut the nails only up to the point where it starts to curl.
- You must also take care of your dog’s dental health. Brush your dog teeth once a week with an old brush. Get your dog’s teeth examined from a vet at regular intervals.
The above mentioned dog grooming tips will keep your dog healthy and happy.
Becoming a dog owner for the first time can be a very exciting time in your life, the joy of adding a new furry member to your family should be something that will last a lifetime. However, just like having a baby there are some very definite guidelines that you will need to follow in order for your new family member to become a valued member of your household. One thing that you need to keep firmly fixed in your mind, no matter whether you are adopting a puppy or an older dog from the local shelter or rescue, is that there is no such thing as a bad dog.
The reasons for owning a dog vary widely from companionship to protection and the need for a service dog. No matter what the reason for adding this new member to your family, you need to realize that just like any other member of your family; he is entitled to the appropriate levels of nutrition, hygiene and exercise that any other member of your family receives. Far too many people think in terms of a dog being nothing more than a “Dog” and as such provide only the barest essentials of life.
If you want to have a pet that is going to be a valued member of your family, the first thing you need to realize is that he “is” a member of your family. Dogs are a pack animal; their natural instinct is to a part of a pack or family. When you bring a dog into your family, he needs to be able to think of your family as being his pack. It is your job to make sure that this happens if you want to have a pet that will be happy and healthy.
Your Basic Responsibilities
Not only are you responsible for your dog’s physical health, you are also responsible for his mental health. Feeding your dog and taking care of his basic hygiene needs are only a small part of the big picture. A perfect example of this is taking your dog for regular walks on a leash, while this is very important as a part of his exercise and health, a good walk is also vital for his mental well-being. A walk allows you to establish your role as the leader of the pack and your dog will learn to respect your position much more quickly this way.
You will also find that there are side benefits to regular walks that will help you to gain the respect of your puppy or dog and help him to maintain the proper balance in his life. A good walk will help him to burn off his excess energy that might otherwise result in overexcited behaviour in the house. This type of behavior is one of the biggest reason people do not keep the dog they have chosen. A walk will keep his muscles toned and just like a human being his cardiovascular system healthier giving him a much longer healthier life.
A Healthy Diet is Vital
As a puppy owner you are responsible for providing your dog with a healthy, well-balanced diet. One popular misconception among dog owners is that the only way you are going to be able to do this is to buy the most expensive brands of dog food on the market. The reality is a little less expensive; you need to spend a little time researching what each of the dog foods you are considering contains. Far too many brands, both the cheap ones the more expensive ones, contain additives that your dog does not need in his diet. You do not have to buy the most expensive dog foods to get a quality food that will meet your dog’s dietary needs.
While a dog is mostly carnivorous by nature, feeding your dog nothing but meat is no healthier for him than it would be for you. You should be looking for a dog food that is meat based, but includes grains and vegetables as well. Avoid foods that are mostly fillers as they are filled with empty carbohydrates in much the same way as processed foods and junk foods are in our diets. One thing that so many dog owners are guilty of is feeding their pets “people food”; while this is tempting it is not good for your dog’s health.
Providing Shelter and Beyond
Just like the rest of your family, your dog needs to be provided with shelter from the elements and to keep him safe. If you have a large breed dog that is going to spend a large portion of his life outside, you need to provide him with a safe place to live. This should include a large fenced in yard or run to keep him safe from harm and running away and a dog house or kennel that will give him shelter from the elements.
Taking on the responsibility of owning a dog can be a wonderful experience for both your family and your new furry friend. If you take the time to learn more about your puppy and what he needs to lead a healthy and balanced life, you will enjoy years of faithful companionship. Remember he will look to you for leadership as well as providing him with what he needs to be happy and healthy and that you are now his pack and he will become the perfect companion.
As a pet owner, you likely understand the importance of providing your dog with prompt medical attention any time he or she is injured or sick. We love our pets as if they were humans, and providing them with medical care when it is necessary is something that most people do not hesitate to do. Where many pet owners slip, however, is when it comes to wellness checks. Parents don’t hesitate to take their children to the pediatrician for an annual checkup, and doing the same for a puppy or dog is equally crucial.
There are a number of reasons why an annual wellness check is so important for your dog. For starters, it is important to realize that as pet owners, we are advocates for our animals. If your dog is having stomach aches or if he or she is experiencing dizziness or other symptoms, he or she has no way to communicate this to you. What you may see as a sign of aging or of losing that “puppy like spirit” may prove to be the symptom of an illness or medical condition. Our animals cannot tell us when something is amiss, and providing regular wellness exams can help identify problems before they become significant.
Another thing that you must consider as a pet owner is that dogs age much differently than we do. While a five year old dog may still seem quite young and vibrant, the truth of the matter is that this is considered middle age for most dogs. Just as our health needs change around this time, so do the needs of your dog. In truth, your dog’s needs change quite rapidly, and ensuring that you communicate with a vet frequently and that your dog or puppy is checked often is the best way to ensure proper health and longevity.
The last major consideration when looking at the importance of regular wellness checks is that these checks allow the vet to really get to know your dog. If the vet only sees your dog when he or she is healthy, there is no real baseline that would let them know when something is amiss. While paying money to receive a clean bill of health may not seem thrilling, it can provide great relief. Paying for a wellness check now can also help your veterinarian find problems before they become health or life threatening, which is certainly a small price to pay for the happiness and well being of your four legged companion.
When Should I Get Wellness Checks
Ideally, you should provide your pet with a wellness check at least once per year. Small puppies and senior dogs have more needs than healthy adults, and twice annual exams are recommended for dogs of this age. In the absence of health issues or other concerns, however, annual wellness checks are often enough to help your veterinarian take excellent care of your pet. Speaking with your veterinarian can also help you determine whether your dog needs exams more frequently due to concerns about age, health, or genetic conditions.
What Should I (and My Dog) Expect?
There are a few different tests and aspects to a traditional wellness exam, and knowing what to expect can help to set your mind at ease. Understand that there may be additional tests or examinations depending on the age and breed of your dog as well as any previous health problems or concerns. No veterinarian does things exactly alike, but understanding the basics of the exam can offer some comfort.
Questions and Answers
Typically, every wellness check will begin with a period of questions and answers. Your veterinarian will ask about diet, exercise, activity, and general health. They will also ask if your pet has been displaying any problems, if there are any concerning symptoms or behaviors, and if anything has changed since your last visit. This is certainly the time to bring up any concerns you may have, no matter how small. Whether you have noticed diarrhea, coughing, increased or decreased appetite, or other symptoms, be sure to mention them, and if you have questions about diet, exercise, or general care, don’t hesitate to ask. Your veterinarian wants your dog to receive the best care possible, and this starts with a well-informed owner.
Another common part of every wellness check will be the monitoring of your pet’s vital statistics. The vet will check your dog or puppy’s weight, temperature, pulse, and respiration. These are all standard tests and should cause no discomfort for your pet. These are very important tests, and changes in weight or heart rate can help the veterinarian identify problems long before they become apparent during simple observation.
You will likely notice that your veterinarian will closely examine the fur and skin of your dog. This can help them identify the presence of fleas and ticks. Changes to your dog’s coat may also indicate nutrient deficiencies or other problems, and this part of the examination is certainly important. If signs of fleas or ticks are detected, your veterinarian will likely provide flea medication that can be used monthly to help prevent the situation from recurring. These pests carry a number of diseases that can be harmful or fatal to even a healthy dog or puppy.
While few pet owners really stop to consider it, dental health is very important in dogs. Ideally, owners should brush their dog’s teeth and gums at least twice per week. Your veterinarian will examine the dog for signs of cavities and gum disease. The color of the gums can also help indicate conditions such as anemia. Dental problems can cause a number of health problems in dogs, including infections and even heart disease.
Heart and Lung Exam
Much like during our own physicals, veterinarians will take time during a wellness check to listen to the heart and lungs via a stethoscope. This allows them to hear the dog’s heartbeat and listen for any irregularities. It can also help your veterinarian identify the early signs of respiratory problems or conditions so that they may be diagnosed and treated promptly.
Blood tests are also quite common during a wellness exam. While they are likely to be your dog’s least favorite part of the exam, they are generally rather painless. These tests can help your veterinarian check nutrient levels and organ function and can help them ensure that your dog is free of certain illnesses and parasites that are typically found in the blood.
Vaccinations are some of the most important things that any pet owner can provide for their four legged companion. During a wellness exam, your veterinarian may provide vaccinations against a large number of conditions, including rabies, distemper, parvovirus, Lyme disease, and more. The vaccinations provided will depend on a number of factors, including vaccination history, the age of your dog or puppy, and even the environment you live in (urban, rural, etc).
Your vet is also likely to examine your dog’s eyes during your visit. While the vet cannot use a standard eye chart to determine if your dog has vision problems, there are actually a number of problems and conditions that can be diagnosed with an eye exam. In addition to signifying cataracts, glaucoma, and eye injuries, changes in eye shape, color, or function can help identify liver problems, high blood pressure, kidney problems, allergies, infections, anemia, and more.
During your wellness check, you are likely to notice that your veterinarian spends a significant amount of time looking at and into your dog’s ears. While the inner ears of dogs and puppies are well protected, the outer ear is typically a haven for dirt and parasites. Your veterinarian will want to make sure that your dog’s ears are both clean and healthy.
An annual wellness check for your dog is certainly too important to be ignored. It is important that you ensure that you schedule these exams regularly and that you do not put your appointments off. You want to provide your dog with the best care possible in order to ensure that he or she lives a happy and healthy life, and this means providing exemplary care when they are healthy, as well as when they are sick. By providing proper wellness care for your dog or puppy, you help to ensure the best chance of identifying any potential illnesses or conditions before they become serious.
If you have been putting off a wellness exam because you feel that it may be too stressful for your dog, it is important to realize that this is certainly not the case. While the first wellness exam may produce a bit of anxiety, allowing your dog to get to know his or her veterinarian can help make future visits more comfortable. If your dog ever becomes sick, you need to know that he or she feels safe with your veterinarian.
Getting annual wellness checks is crucial for the health and well being of your dog. Whether you are the proud owner of the world’s cutest puppy or the lifelong companion of a senior dog, knowing that they are always as healthy as possible can make the relationship better for both of you. Having a canine companion is one of life’s most rewarding things, but as the human in the relationship, it is up to you to ensure that your companion is well cared for.
For many owners the comfort of having their favorite furry friend sleeping on their bed at night provides a sense of security for owner and dog, children especially seem to like having the family dog sleeping on their bed. Often this habit starts out during puppyhood and continues on well into adulthood. While there is nothing wrong with this as long as everybody is comfortable with this, there may come a time when your family dog is no longer able to jump up on the bed.
As your dog approaches his senior years and can no longer handle the climb or jump onto the bed at night you are going to need to provide a place for him to sleep. You cannot expect your faithful companion to sleep on the hard floor in hi senior years after spending his life on a comfortable bed with his favorite human. This is the time to think about buying a dog bed or pillow for him, in fact you should start introducing him to one early in life so that he always has a warm place to lie down instead of the floor.
A pillow or dog bed is more than just a comfortable place to lie down or sleep. By keeping him off the floor, which is inevitably cold, you can help reduced the effects of arthritis and help your dog live a much healthier, longer life. Once your dog reaches the stage of not being able to get up on the bed, you can place the pillow next to bed or at least in the same room so that both owner and dog will still be able to enjoy a good night’s sleep. You might be surprised at how poorly both will sleep if separated by different rooms after years of sleeping together.
In recent years veterinarians and the ASPCA have begun to offer microchip identification for your dogs, there are some advantages and some disadvantages to using this new technology to identify your dog. The chip is implanted in the loose skin between his shoulder blades using an injection that unlike some people seem to think does not cause any real pain, it is just like any other injection such as his rabies shot, in fact it probably causes far less pain as there is no medication in the shot.
Some owners fear that the chip can migrate to vital organs or other areas of the body, as long as the veterinarian implants the chip properly, Fido’s chip will stay right where it is put for as long as he lives. However, you should not rely solely on a chip as there are several different types and they all take a different scanner to read them, which is the only real disadvantage to them. Your dog should have a collar with all of his information on a tag to make it easy for someone to read if he should escape, you may even want to consider an identification tattoo as a backup plan just to make sure he finds his way home.
Spaying or Neutering is the process of removing the reproductive organs from your dog. In case of males it is called neutering and in females it is called spaying. The details of spaying and neutering are not relevant, but it is an important process to be done for a better life with your dog. It is a routine procedure for most vets and isn’t very dangerous. With proper post-operation care for your dog, you can avoid any infections. In the long run, spaying or neutering can be very helpful for you and your dog. Here are some of the reasons why spaying and neutering is so important:
It’s a well known fact that very few male dogs which have been neutered, suffer from prostate problems or testicular tumors. The chances of such prostate problems as well as hernias increase as a dog becomes older. Neutered dogs don’t contract these problems and may ultimately live a longer life.
There is a specific period of the year when dogs are meant to mate with each other, and during this time they are exceptionally crazy. This is called the “heat”. If your dog is neutered, it is less likely that he would run away from the house looking for females and end up getting hurt, or worse. Even females which are spayed are less likely to have ovarian cancer, mammary tumors and uterine infection. The greatest problem with female dogs, giving birth to unwanted litters, is also eliminated by spaying your dog. Walking with your dog (female dog) during heat would also be less harrowing without a swarm of male dogs following you, if you spay your dog.
If you spay or neuter your dog earlier on, your dog may become more calm. Another problem you can avoid by neutering your dog is that of “scent marking”. That is, urinating periodically and randomly to mark its territory. This can be very embarrassing when your dog does it in front of houses or in public. One more reason why spaying your dog is useful is that when female dogs give birth to litters they become very aggressive, even to you and your family. Spaying her would stop her mood swings and make her a better companion for you and your family.
Spaying or neutering your dogs also stops the production of unwanted litters. Dogs reproduce pretty quickly and within six years they have the capacity to produce many litters. In fact, a female dog can give birth to a litter every six months. Each litter would have six puppies on average and they would be ready to reproduce within another six months. Another fact which cannot be forgotten is that male dogs don’t have life partners and mate with as many females as possible. After seeing all this, it makes even more sense to spay or neuter your dog before their first heat.
The Secret to Canine Urinary Tract Health
Cranberries have many health benefits for dogs. Canine urinary tract infections can be serious business for dogs and they can mean serious vet bills for owners. For owners of dogs with chronic urinary tract infections, the expenses can mount quickly. Many humans have the same problem and many fall back on Grandma’s old home cure, cranberries. This remedy seems to be the answer for many, but does it work? And more importantly, is it good for dogs?
First, let use address how cranberry juice works to control and/or prevent urinary tract infections. Cranberry juice lowers the pH of the urine, making it more acidic. This action makes it a hostile environment for pH sensitive bacteria. Secondly, cranberries contain at least two agents that act as bacterial inhibitors. Consequently, many medications for urinary tract infections work in the same manner.
Cranberries should not be a replacement for veterinary care, or antibiotic therapy. They can be used to compliment each other though. One should always check with their veterinary before deciding to add this therapy, as this could lower pH too much if used with certain therapies prescribed by your veterinarian, creating and entirely different set of problems. These health problems include bladder stones and other serious problems.
Another consideration in taking your dog to the vet is that if urinary tract infections are difficult to clear, it could be a sign of other problems that are present. My veterinarian will suggest cranberries for dogs as a preventative if they have been under considerable stress, such as a new rescue, or one that has been in a stressful situation.
Cranberries for dogs come in many different forms (such as NaturVet Cranberry Relief Healthy Urinary Tract Support For Dogs and Cats, all of which work. Cranberry juice is the most common form of cranberries given to dogs. However, just as if they were your children, check the labels to make certain that the juice contains real cranberries and not a lot of sugar. Some dogs will eat fresh cranberries, but some will not. Cranberry powder is also available at health food stores that can be sprinkled on their food. Cranberry tablets are also available. Please consult your veterinarian for dosages and instructions.
One of the most important things that you can do for your best friend is to give them plenty of fresh water and plenty of opportunities to eliminate. This is one of the most important things that you can do to improve canine urinary tract health. Cranberry and cranberry products should be given in addition to, not as a substitute for these common sense measures.
The addition of cranberries to your dog’s diet also has several other benefits. Cranberries are rich in vitamins including A, B1, B2, C, and many nutrients. They are full of minerals and antioxidants. Cranberries are an excellent supplement to your dog’s diet for the promotion of urinary tract health and they are good for the owner as well. This is one treat that you can enjoy with your dog, so go grab a handful and enjoy them together.
One of our readers asked the question “is garlic good or bad for dogs?” While animals of all types have been given garlic for centuries, the debate as to whether it is good or bad for animals continues. So lets look at the arguments for and against garlic.
The Stink on Garlic and Dogs
Myths and Realities
Garlic and dogs have a long relationship. Garlic is one of the oldest medicines in the world. It has been in use as a medicinal herb for close to 5,000 years. Many cultures throughout time have relied on garlic for its healing properties. Garlic is revered for both its antifungal and antibacterial properties. It also helps the body to build white blood cells, acting as a means to build up the immunity. Garlic has many of the same effects on dogs that it does on their human counterparts. In his book The Nature of Animal Healing : The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring for Your Dog and Cat, Martin Goldstein, DVM one of the foremost holistic vets recommends adding garlic to homemade dog food and claims to feed it to his owns dogs. Dr. Richard Pitcairn, author of Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Catsalso recommends garlic for dogs for its therapeutic benefits. Yet, some claim that garlic is toxic to dogs. This issue is surrounded by both myths and realities.
Arguments For the Use of Garlic
Garlic is used in many commercial dog foods and is believed to possess antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It may also improve liver function and is even believed to prevent heart disease. But one of the most popular reasons for giving garlic to dogs is to help control fleas. There are many different opinions as to why this works (or doesn’t). Some of these theories include that garlic raises or lowers the pH of the blood, making it undesirable to those little bloodsuckers. Others claim that it simply masks the smell of the dog, making them invisible to pests. I do not know which of these is actually true, but personally, I have seen it work wonderfully with some dogs and not with others. It might be a matter of getting the dosage right. It might also have to do with the individual dog’s body chemistry as well.
Arguments Against the Use of Garlic
The wide use of garlic in commercial dog foods and the sale of garlic tablets for dogs would make garlic appear to be safe for dogs. However, garlic and dogs do not always mix. Garlic has many healing properties, but it also contains a chemical compound called thiosulphate. This compound can be toxic in extremely high levels, causing hemolytic anemia in dogs. This is a serious, life threatening condition for your dog. So, yes garlic can be toxic to dogs.
But, this too is a matter of dosage. The garlic found in dog treats, dog food, and garlic tablets designed for dogs is not likely to cause this toxic reaction. They would have to eat something like 50 cloves (not bulbs, cloves) for a medium sized dog to get enough to cause a toxic reaction. A clove is one of the little sections. You would know it if your dog ate enough to cause a toxic reaction, you would be missing a lot of garlic! That would equally approximately 10-20 bulbs, depending on the variety.
This stinky weed can have many positive effects for both humans and dogs. But in the end, the decision of whether to give garlic to your dog is a personal choice. Some dogs are extremely sensitive to various types of food so before giving garlic to your dog for the first time, speak with your veterinarian about dosage and any concerns you may have. As for me, I will continue to give garlic to my dogs.
While we all try to take the best care of our pets, sometimes, we are faced with medical needs for our dogs that we may not have planned for and just cannot afford. Then because we can’t pay for the health care or surgical treatment, our companion may go untreated. But don’t despair, there are many organizations that offer assistance.
The following link is a courtesy posting from the Humane Society of the United States and offers many good suggestions on various ways to pay for the medical treatments or arrange for financial aid.
Two common canine ailments are diarrhea and constipation. Did you know that canned pumpkin can offer a solution to both?
Diarrhea is more a symptom rather than a disease and is typically a sign that something is wrong with your dog’s digestive system. A lot of things can cause diarrhea in your dog; it may have eaten something that disagrees with its body, it may have food allergies, bacterial or viral infection or a worm infestation. It may even be due to a change in its diet.
In normal cases, diarrhea has a surprisingly simple solution: canned pumpkins. Canned pumpkin is actually pumpkin in a puree form. Pumpkins are very rich in fiber and even adding two teaspoons of canned pumpkin in you dog’s food helps the digestion process. Canned pumpkin has a large quantity of dietary fiber and it will also absorb the excess water present in the stool. This makes your dog’s stool more firm and results can be seen within a few hours. Give your small dog one and a half to two teaspoons of canned pumpkin. For a larger dog give two tablespoons instead.
Another benefit of canned pumpkin is in treating dogs for constipation. It softens your dog’s stool and can cure an upset stomach very quickly. This makes canned pumpkins one of the best natural remedies to your dog’s stomach problems.
Canned pumpkin also makes a great addition to dog treats. Just add some canned pumpkin to your favorite dog treat recipes to give Fido a healthy treat.
Canned pumpkin is low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol. It is also a good source of Vitamin E, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium and is also a very good source of dietary fiber. Some vets even recommend canned pumpkin for weight loss in dogs. Simply substitute one-third of your dog’s regular food with an equivalent amount of canned pumpkin. Because it is high in fiber, canned pumpkin will make your dog fuller than it would if you just reduced their caloric intake.
You can find canned pumpkin in the baking section of most grocery stores.