Tag Archives: health

Human Health Benefits Related to Dog Ownership


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You’ve probably heard about all the emotional benefits that come along with having a furry friend – joy, love, companionship, loyalty, compassion. But, what about the physical health benefits? Bet you didn’t know that caring for a dog’s well-being can simultaneously contribute in a positive way to your own well-being. From combating feelings of loneliness to maintaining overall heart health, canines offer some surprising human health benefits worth knowing.

In Sickness and In Health: Dogs Help Build Immunity
In great news for families who are expecting, or have young children, a recent study shows that kids who are introduced to animals early in life have lower chances of developing allergies and tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.

A Pawfect Boost for Loneliness & Depression
Feeling lonesome or down in the dumps? A dog is a wonderful way to help fight isolation or pick you up when you’re feeling sad. In addition to the built-in company and unconditional love a dog brings, activities such as walking the neighborhood or taking your pooch to a dog park encourage socialization with other dog owners. Be prepared to discuss your dog’s breed, background, age and story behind how he got his name. Your four-legged friend is the ultimate ice breaker! Plus, caring for an animal provides a great sense of purpose, which can be crucial for feelings of anxiety or hopelessness.

Must Heart Dogs
Besides helping with matters of the heart, dogs can also positively affect cardiac health. Studies have shown that pet owners have decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels — all of which can minimize the risk of having a heart attack.

A Pawsome Way to Stay Fit
According to a recent study, dog owners were more likely to do mild to moderate physical activity during the week than non-dog owners. Dog owners walked an average of 300 minutes per week compared to their counterpart’s average of 168 minutes per week, which means dog owners are more likely to get the recommended 30-minute minimum of exercise a day. If you take the reins (i.e., leash), rather than pass off walking duty to someone else, you’ll regularly get to work on your fitness and stamina. Plus, who doesn’t like to have a workout buddy?

Puppertunity to Help Combat ADHD
Dogs have a reputation for helping children and adults feel calm and at ease, which is evident during therapy dog sessions. Thus, dogs can be healing for children who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. On another note, dogs can also help ADHD-sufferers with releasing extra energy by providing the child with a pal to run around and play with.

Puplifting Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Dogs are a great distraction and therefore help people who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis move around and play more than they normally would, allowing victims to forget the discomfort, even if only for a few minutes.

Trained Service Dogs Warn Before It’s Too Late
For certain diseases, such as diabetes, service dogs can not only be helpful, but rather; save lives. Sufferers of diabetes may not always be able to tell when their blood sugar level is too high or too low.

Trained service dogs have been proven to successfully monitor hypoglycemia warnings through odor cues. Medical detection dogs such as these can lead to fewer 911 calls, less unconscious incidents and greater patient independence. Similarly, some medical detection dogs have been known to even detect cancer in as little as three hours. Scientific studies are currently in progress determining exactly how accurate medical detection dogs can be in relation to discovering cancers. Today, it’s a research area that will continue to be explored and investigated for commercial use.

A Guide to Fido’s First Aid Kit: What’s in Your Doggy Bag?


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In celebration of First Aid Kit Awareness, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of items to include in your dog’s emergency medical kit. Whether you buy one ready-made, or put it together yourself, it’s imperative to have this equipment in an airtight container that’s easily accessible in a place you won’t forget.

Important Contact Information and Paperwork

Be sure to include phone numbers and directions for your local veterinary clinic, animal hospital (if it’s not the same place) and poison control center. Remember, in a disaster situation, strangers or emergency workers may find your kit, so make sure this information is bold and legible, so your dog can be brought to safety in a rush. Necessary paperwork to include would be proof of vaccinations (e.g., rabies status), copies of important medical records such as allergies, a current photo of your dog in case he gets lost and ideally a replacement ID tag with his info that could attach to his collar in a pinch.

Supplies

  • Gauze rolls for creating a muzzle for an injured animal or wrapping wounds (note: never create a muzzle if your dog is vomiting, choking, coughing or having difficulty breathing)
  •  Sterile non-stick bandages, towels or strips of clean cloth, to control bleeding or protect wounds
  • Adhesive tape for bandages, to secure gauze or bandages (do not use adhesive bandages meant for humans!)
  • Digital “Fever” Thermometer and Petroleum Jelly to check your dog’s temperature. Note: temperature must be taken rectally for an accurate read and a dog’s normal temperature should be between 100-103 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Eye dropper (or large syringe without needle) to administer oral medications, force-feed or to flush wounds
  •  Leash and harness to transport your pet if capable of walking without injury
  •  Blanket, mat or piece of board to be used as a stretcher in the event your dog becomes injured and must be carried
  • Thermal blanket to keep your dog warm during transport
  • Antibacterial wipes to cleanse wounds and sanitize
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  •  Ice pack
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Scissors with blunt ends
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Tweezers with a flat slant tip instead of the rounded variety to remove splinters or tick heads
  •  Tongue depressor to examine the mouth
  • Disposable safety razor in case you need to shave hair around a wound
  •  Flashlight and matches
  • Rubbing alcohol, which can be used as a cooling agent to aid heat stroke or fever
  • Bag balm to treat injured paw pads
  • Ear cleaning solution

Medicinal Treatments

  • Milk of Magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb poisons and toxins (always call poison control before treating a poisoned animal) or for upset stomach
  • Hydrogen Peroxide 3% to induce vomiting if your dog is poisoned (again, with permission from poison control). Make sure to check expiration dates and replace regularly.
  • Betadine solution, a type of antiseptic iodine for wounds to deter infection
  • Antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin
  • Eye ointment without cortisone
  • Epsom salts, which can be used with water to draw out infection and relieve itchy paws and skin
  • Styptic power to stop bleeding of torn toenails
  •  Benadryl for bug bites, stings and other allergic reactions (check dosage with your vet prior to administering)
  • Gentle pet sedative such as Rescue Remedy, which can help relieve stress, fright, fatigue and irritation due to injury and anxiety-producing events

Nutritional Supplies

  • A week’s supply (or more) of your dog’s food
  •  Can of soft pet food, which can reduce the effects of poisoning
  • Bottled water
  • Bowl or container to use for food and water
  •  Rehydrating solution such as Gatorade or Pedialyte for diarrhea or vomiting
  • Supplement such as Nutri-cal, NuVet Plus, Vitacal or Nutristat
  • High sugar source such as Karo syrup or sugared treats

If this seems like a long laundry list of somewhat unnecessary items, just remember that nobody ever regretted being “too prepared” in an emergency situation. You can never predict what will happen and it’s better to be safe when it comes to your furry child, than sorry.

What Does Your Dog’s Poop Mean?


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It may be a gross topic, but let’s face it – if you’re a responsible dog owner, you’re picking up your dog’s poop multiple times a day. So, you might as well know what to look for to determine whether your dog’s poop is normal or problematic. We’ve broken down the do-do, so you don’t have to. Here’s the “scoop” so you can learn more about your dog’s health and well-being.

First, let’s define what normal dog poop looks like. Although varying from dog to dog and breed to breed, typical dog poop should be basically brown in color, neither too soft (diarrhea) nor too hard to pass (constipation). Use your dog’s healthy poop (color, frequency and consistency) as a baseline to compare when he is not feeling well so you’re aware when there’s an issue.

Diarrhea
Poop of a liquid consistency or that looks like “cow patty” or “soft serve” is typically not a cause for concern. If it improves within 24-48 hours, no action is needed. A wait and see approach is advised, and if the dog is acting normally (eating well, not vomiting and displaying a happy demeanor), there is usually no need to seek medical attention.

Black or Very Dark Poop
This may require an urgent trip to the vet as black or tarry consistency can indicate a gastrointestinal ulcer or bleeding high in the GI tract. A bleeding ulcer can oftentimes be caused by human medications with aspirin, steroids or NSAIDs, so be careful of ever giving to your dog without consulting your vet. Other generalized bleeding can be from rat poison, heat stroke or immune-mediated disease. Blood work and/or an ultrasound are typically recommended to get a full look at the intestinal tract.

Red Poop
The red color could indicate bleeding within the GI tract. Streaks of blood can indicate colitis (inflammation of the colon), rectal injury, anal gland infection or even a tumor. Less worrisome may be slight reddish color in an otherwise normal stool, which is typically indicative of inflammation in the large intestine. Regardless, you’ll want to monitor your dog closely for any further changes in stool and also behavior.

Pink or Purple Poop or Large Volume of Diarrhea
Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) can be a common cause of pink or purple poop (often described as looking like raspberry jam), or a cause of a large amount of watery or bloody poop, especially in smaller dogs. While most will recover with treatment, seek veterinary attention immediately as this condition can be fatal if left untreated.

Grey or Greasy Poop
Poop that appears fatty or glistens could indicate a condition called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), which occurs when the pancreas does not produce necessary enzymes to digest fat. Commonly referred to as maldigestion, EPI is treatable. German Shepherds and Rough-Coated Collies are often afflicted with EPI.

Green Poop
Check with your vet immediately, as green poop can indicate a variety of issues from as mild as eating a lot of grass to as serious as swallowing rat bait poison or ingesting a dangerous parasite. Exposure to rodenticides is certainly dangerous, so let your vet know if that may be the case.

Orange or Pasty, Light Poop
Often indicative of a liver issue or biliary disease, orange poop warrants a call to your vet. Hopefully from professional evaluation, it’s determined that the orange color is simply from the poop moving too quickly through the GI tract to pick up bile, which makes poop its normal brown color.

Yellow Poop
If you’ve recently changed your dog’s diet, yellow mucus in poop usually means a food intolerance or allergy, causing an upset stomach. Isolate the suspected ingredient(s) and remove from future diet.

White Flakes or Specks in Poop
Have you noticed grains of white rice in your dog’s poop, only to realize you haven’t fed him any rice? While not serious, this likely means your dog has worms. Roundworms (spaghetti-like shaped) are typically found in puppies. Small, flat worms (found on the outside of stool or around the rectum) may be found in your dog’s sleeping areas as well and typically indicate tapeworm, which take over when a dog has fleas. Worms require a visit to the vet, but don’t panic upon first sight, as they are treatable with parasite medication.

It is worth noting that slight variations in your dog’s poop or infrequent bouts of diarrhea or constipation are often no cause for concern and don’t constitute an emergency situation. For example, if your dog eats something questionable off the ground or out of the trash (commonly referred to as garbage gut), he’ll likely pay for it with an upset stomach and abnormal stool.

However, if your dog’s abnormal stool is accompanied with vomiting, refusal to eat or drink, or other concerning symptoms, a trip to the vet is necessary. Your vet may even ask you to bring a stool sample with specific storage instructions for laboratory testing. Other diagnostics such as blood work or radiographs may also be warranted depending on the symptoms.

The Dark Truth About Smoking Around Your Dog


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We all know smoking around others can be detrimental to even a non-smoker’s health, but what about smoking around your dog? You may have seen the recent anti-smoking campaign by Truth which condemns smoking around pets, warning, “Fact: Dogs and cats are twice as likely to get cancer if their owner smokes.” Cancer is the last thing we want for precious Fido, so let’s examine the consequences of this common, yet dangerous habit on our furry friends.

According to petMD, dogs living with smoking owners are more likely than dogs with non-smoking owners to develop lung cancer and respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis. In addition, the type of snout your dog has will determine how secondhand smoke affects him. Research shows that while the chemicals found in cigarettes can more readily reach the lungs of dogs with shorter noses (such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston Terriers), these toxins cause an increased risk of cancer by 250% in long-nosed dogs (such as Dachshunds and Collies) due to the chronic buildup of carcinogens in their nasal passages.

Assistant Professor Heather Wilson-Robles at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science (CVM) describes the symptoms of pets with lung diseases, including: dry hacking, progressive cough, or harder-to-manage asthma symptoms. She also notes that accidental ingestion of tobacco products can result in “gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased salivation and trembling.”

Wilson-Robles recommends that while the best way to avoid smoking-related health issues in pets is to quit smoking altogether, there are other courses of action that smokers can take to lessen the harm on their four-legged friends. First, dog-owning smokers should immediately cease smoking directly around their dog. And, after smoking, owners should wash their hands completely before handling their dog or any item with which the dog may come into contact.

Lastly, if a dog accidentally eats a disposed tobacco product, the owner should call an emergency clinic immediately as they will medically induce vomiting in the case the dog does not vomit up the product on his own. Some signs of nicotine poisoning in dogs include tremors, twitching, or seizures; drooling; constricted pupils; auditory and visual hallucinations; excitement, racing heart; and vomiting and diarrhea.

As with nicotine, marijuana can also affect dogs differently than it affects humans. Dogs can get high from second-hand marijuana smoke, ingesting edibles or by eating parts of the marijuana plant. According to caninejournal.com,  the effects of marijuana on dogs include lethargy, breathing problems, lower blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, loss of balance and incontinence. While recreational marijuana continues to gain legality in some states, marijuana is not yet approved for canine use and should not be given to your dog.

Just as important it is to look out for one’s own pet’s health, it is likewise necessary to be mindful of one’s behavior around other animals. Smokers should abide by proper smoking etiquette while in public; if you wouldn’t smoke near a child or your own dog, don’t smoke right next to someone else’s pet. Similarly, non-smoking dog-owners should take the proper precautions to avoid coming into contact with smokers and their byproducts, as well as to keep a watchful eye on what their dog digs its nose into outside of the house.

Everyone is well-aware of the dangers of smoking, but your canine’s health and well-being may just be one more reason to quit the habit. At the very least, dog-owners should be aware of the effects and take measures to keep smoking limited to a private space, away from their beloved animals.

Spring Cleaning Applies to Your Pooch, Too!


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Spring is in full swing, and if you haven’t already begun your Spring Cleaning, you’ve likely gotten the itch to start. When making your “laundry list” of cleaning “to do’s,” don’t forget to add pet care to your agenda. It’s important to maintain a clean environment both for you and for your dog’s health and safety, so pay special attention to your furry child’s things, too. Pet beds, bowls, toys and clothing should all get deep cleaned on a regular basis, so if you’re a little behind on making sure Fido’s stuff is up to snuff, take this opportunity for a fresh beginning.

Crates and Carriers
Ideally, crates or carriers should be cleaned once a week since that’s where your pup is likely spending a lot of his time. Use warm soapy water or a mild disinfectant and make sure these items are fully dry before allowing your dog to use them again. Avoid bleach for its strong scent and potentially harmful chemicals. Before using any sort of cleaning product, check the ingredients list for any toxic chemicals that could be unsafe for your dog to ingest or inhale. Once the crate or carrier is clean, wipe it down weekly to maintain spotlessness.

Bedding and Covers
Choose a pet bed with removable covers that can be washed easily and regularly (again, once a week is a good schedule to follow). It’s wise to buy a backup set of covers to use in a pinch in the case of an accident in the middle of the night or when you’re too lazy to do a load of laundry right away. A small amount of unscented, mild detergent should do the trick, but consider trashing and replacing the covers at the point when no matter how much you clean, the bedding smells or looks dirty.

Dishes and Toys
Water and food bowls should also be cleaned weekly, if not more. While hand washing with liquid and hot water is sufficient, you may want to consider throwing your dog’s bowls (if not stainless steel) in the automatic dishwasher as the machine can do a more thorough job of disinfecting and sanitizing your pup’s dishware. Toys can also be laundered in the dishwasher, depending on their material. If washing soft, stuffed toys, launder them in the laundry machine in a mesh bag to keep them separate from the rest of your load.

Clothes
If your dog wears a sweater in the winter time (or regularly – no judgement here!), avoid dry cleaning due to known toxic chemicals. Most pet clothing can be washed on delicate or hand-washed with a mild, unscented detergent. To store clothing, make sure it’s fully dry before putting it away in an air tight container. Avoid humidity, which can cause mold and moth balls.

Get Organized
Use this time to go through your pet closet or pantry and check all food and treats to make sure none have hit their expiration date. In fact, inspect all of your dog supplies and equipment including shampoos, toothbrush/toothpaste, ear cleaner, flea and tick medication, as well as collars, tags and leashes. Make sure all are in good shape, and if not, replace. Go through your pup’s toy box too. You’re likely to find toys that are dirty or ripped up. Time for a refresh!

Pamper Your Pooch!
Rejuvenate your dog by treating him to a trip to the groomer. In the Winter, many dog owners let their pooches’ hair go long to keep them warm so by the time Spring rolls around, they are way overdue for a trim. Use this time to splurge on any extra services such as nail trimming, matting removal, anal glands expression, or professional tooth brushing – you owe it to your pooch to have him primped to perfection. Plus, there’s nothing better than snuggling up to a newly groomed, fresh-as-a-daisy pup!

Brachycephalic Dogs: The Truth About Those Adorable, Pushed-In Little Noses


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The first thing you probably notice when you see a pug, boxer, or bulldog is that cute, wrinkly, smooshed-in face (Who can resist those velvety folds?). But underneath those wrinkles is a medical condition to be aware of, which can negatively impact a dog’s quality of life. If you have a dog or are thinking about getting a dog with a “snub nose,” here’s what you need to know in order to keep him as comfortable and healthy as possible.

Breeds with flat noses have a condition called “brachycephalic syndrome.” The term brachycephalic refers to a broad, short skull shape that gives certain breeds a distinct snub-nosed appearance. While it’s typically easy to spot a brachycephalic dog based on physical appearance, there are varying degrees of severity. Here is a complete list of brachycephalic breeds:

Because Brachycephalic dogs have a structural narrowing at the nostrils, the back of the throat, and in the windpipe, most dogs with the condition prefer to breathe through their mouths due to the increased airway resistance in their noses. Mildly affected dogs will breathe noisily, snort when excited and snore while sleeping. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, your pup may become distressed, especially after exercise or in warmer temperatures. On very hot days, brachycephalic dogs run a high risk of heat stroke because of their difficulty regulating body temperature.

In addition to breathing loudly, snorting, and snoring, there are a few other signs of distress to watch out for, including retching or gagging, especially while swallowing, which indicates an elongated soft palate and is a sign of trouble. Dogs with elongated soft palates often prefer to sleep on their backs because it makes breathing easier. Watch out for blue gums, blue tongue or fainting after exercise; in extreme cases, this can indicate lack of oxygen in your pup’s blood. Take a look at your dog’s nostrils, too – do they look normal, or do they appear to be pinched closed? Nostrils that are closed too far to allow for proper air flow are a part of the brachycephalic syndrome, and are called “stenotic nares.” While this condition is present from birth, it may not affect your dog until later in life, so even if your dog does not currently show symptoms, it’s important to continue to monitor your brachycephalic dog closely.

Treatment Options

  • Check in with your vet regularly and keep tabs on the condition. Not all dogs require surgery to be comfortable, but many benefit from corrective procedures if preventative measures are not enough to provide your pup relief.
  • Learn what’s normal for your pooch. Once you figure out which snorts and snores are status quo, you’ll know immediately when you hear troubling breathing sounds or a new type of snorting that it’s time to visit your vet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight for your pup. Obesity can make breathing problems worse.
  • Always regulate your dog’s temperature and exercise, especially during the summer months. As mentioned, hot and humid weather increases a brachycephalic dog’s risk of heat stroke, so make sure he stays cool.
  •  Consider using a harness instead of a collar. A collar can pull on your dog’s larynx, making breathing even more difficult.
  • Sometimes, surgery is necessary to allow your dog to breathe normally and improve his quality of life. The soft palate can be surgically trimmed shorter, stenotic nares can be widened, and both are simple, minimally invasive procedures.
  •  Lastly, consider spaying or neutering. Since this condition is inherited, it’s a good idea to avoid breeding a dog that suffers from severe brachycephalic syndrome. Use your vet as a resource, stay informed on new treatment options and do your part to keep your wrinkly-faced pooch safe.

Bloat: A Serious Condition Every Dog Owner Should Know About


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Bloat is a commonly used term to refer to a severe medical condition in dogs called “Gastric Dilatation Volvulus.” Bloat occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid and causes the stomach to expand. This, in turn, increases pressure on other organs. In some cases, the stomach will rotate and twist, which hinders blood flow and prevents blood from flowing back to the heart and other important areas of the body.

Bloat usually comes on very quickly, so time is of the essence in treating the condition and preventing it from becoming life-threatening. Thus, as a responsible dog owner, it’s crucial to understand the warning signs as awareness and action could very well save your dog’s life.

Is My Dog at Risk?

While any dog can get bloat, the condition is more frequently seen in deep-chested, large dog breeds such as the following:

In addition to breed, age and gender may also play a factor in proclivity. It is widely believed that dogs older than seven years as well as males are more likely to get bloat than females. Dogs with an aggressive, anxious or fearful personality are also more likely to experience this issue, as stress and negative emotions seem to play a part in triggering the condition.

Causes & Prevention of Bloat

While the exact cause of bloat is not known, there are a variety of factors that raise a dog’s risk of getting bloat, so do your best to protect your dog from these possible causes:

  • Eating or drinking too quickly. Gulping large amounts of food or water at once often means the dog is gulping air, which can increase pressure in the stomach.
  •  Eating dry dog food that is too high in grain. Grain gets fermented in the stomach, which releases gas. Try grain-free food options to see if that makes a difference in your dog’s digestion.
  • Exercising during and especially immediately after eating. Give your dog an hour or more of rest time before and after eating to allow for proper digestion.
  • Experiencing extreme stress, such as mating, whelping, boarding, or due to a change in routine or new dog in the household.
  • Bloat may also be hereditary, especially if your dog has a first-degree relative who has suffered from the condition.

What to Look For: Signs & Symptoms

Nobody knows better than you what is normal behavior for your furry friend! Keep an eye on your pup, and if you notice any unusual behavior, get in touch with your vet as soon as possible. The most common symptoms are:

  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to vomit (nothing comes up, or possibly just foam/mucus comes up).
  • Unusual behavior, such as asking to go outside in the middle of the night.
  •  Anxiousness and restlessness.
  •  Abdomen is bloated and tight.
  • Rapid, shallow breathing.

Your dog may also be pacing, whining, drooling, panting, or gagging, and may be standing or laying strangely. An accelerated heartbeat, weak pulse and collapse are indicators of a serious problem.

Keep in mind, not every dog will exhibit every symptom. If you’re not sure if your dog is experiencing bloat, contact your veterinarian. It’s of course better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your beloved pooch!

Treating Bloat

There are a few ways bloat is treated, depending on the severity of the case including:

  • The vet may take x-rays to see if your dog’s stomach is twisted.
  •  If your dog’s stomach is not twisted, the vet can release the pressure inside it by putting a tube down the dog’s throat into the stomach.
  •  If the stomach is twisted, a tube may be unable to pass into the stomach, so the vet will insert a large needle through your pup’s belly to release the pressure that way.
  • If the stomach is twisted, it is likely your dog will need surgery to untwist it and put it back where it belongs. Often, the vet will secure the stomach in the right place to prevent your dog from getting bloat again.

Chewsing the Pawfect Bone: Is There Such Thing?


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When you give your dog a chew bone, you may think you’re simply giving him a tasty treat to snack on. But, in fact you’re doing much more. The perfect bone offers the potential for improved dental health, stimulating activity, soothing relief from teething pain and fulfillment of your dog’s innate urge to chew.

Some veterinarians say a good bone keeps the dentist away in that it can help scrape away plaque, control tartar buildup and prevent gum disease, helping to keep teeth white and reducing the risk of mouth problems. Bones can also do wonders for teething pain in puppies and stimulate the growth of adult teeth.

You may have learned the hard way by now that your pup likes to chew. Has he gotten into your shoe collection yet? Or what about your unprotected furniture? It only takes one ruined valuable to understand the importance of satisfying your puppy’s need to chew. Luckily, bones make for easy pacifiers. The right bone can entertain your dog for hours, keeping him distracted and active thereby offering two perks: a safe item to gnaw on, preventing destructive behavior and the benefit of tiring him out and relieving nervous energy.

That said, other veterinarians will dissuade you from giving your dog any bone at all due to concerns about fractured teeth, oral injuries, airway obstruction or gastrointestinal complications. Thus, it’s crucial to consult with your trusted, personal veterinarian before throwing your dog any sort of bone.

Once you’ve spoken with your veterinarian, if you receive bone approval and/or a recommendation, you’ll next want to understand your pup’s chewing rate and habits. For example, if your dog chews for short bursts of time and has a soft bite, your veterinarian may reccomend a treat or toy that softens easily*. Be sure to ask a professional for their pick based on your dog’s breed and needs. Alternatively, if your dog is an aggressive “power chewer,” you may want to try a nylon-based Nylabone, which is long-lasting and nearly indestructible. Keep in mind that this is a toy and NOT edible, so your dog should not be trying to eat the Nylabone! Or, do you have a pup who needs weight management? Try a healthy, grain-free chew made from all natural ingredients, which is also ideal for a dog who has digestive issues. A general rule that applies to any and all safe-to-chew bones are that they’re specially prepared for dogs, are rock-hard and virtually shatterproof. Bones should also be sterilized, natural and digestible for sensitive stomachs.

But, we do have a few crucial “bones to pick.” First, under no circumstance should you feed your dog cooked fish, chicken or beef bones from your own meal. Bones that are too small or too soft can easily splinter and quickly become choking hazards or cause critical digestive issues. And, never feed your pup raw bones such as beef tails or necks from poultry as they carry bacteria like salmonella and e-coli and can spoil quickly. Also, only offer bones to your pooch when you’re around and close by to supervise. If you do decide to leave your pup alone with a bone, make sure it’s a large joint bone free of small pieces that could pose a choking threat, and that you toss the bone within 1-2 days to prevent bacteria from growing, which can result in digestive disorders or parasites.

Remember to always consult with your vet and use discerning judgment when it comes to “chewsing” your dog’s bone.

*While a popular choice among dog owners, rawhide bones should be avoided because they can be dangerous, especially to puppies. According to PuppySpot veterinarian Dr. Brandon Sinn, the bones can upset a dog’s stomach if swallowed and also pose a choking hazard. In particular, rawhide bones made in China tend to have bacterial contamination. “If done right they are OK at best, but with the wrong dog can be deadly,” warns Dr. Sinn. 

Dog Recall Alerts


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We all want the best for our pets, and one way to ensure that your pets are healthy, happy, and safe is to keep an eye on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recall list. There are many reasons that a dog food might be recalled, and a recall does not always mean that the dog food is unsafe. In some cases, recalls are issued as a preventative measure “just in case,” but it is important to know where to find this information and what to do if you find that one of your pet’s favorite products has been recalled.

The FDA keeps a current list of all animal and veterinary recalls. This list includes specific manufacturer and batch information as well as details of why the product is being recalled. If you find that you have recalled food, supplements, toys, or any other products in your home, in most cases you will be able to return these products to the store for a full refund. The FDA provides details of what actions you can take if you find that a product you have purchased has been recalled.

If you feel that a product you have purchased for your pet is defective and it does not appear on the recall list, we recommend contacting the manufacturer. You can also report a food complaint or report a problem with drug side effects.

FIND CURRENT RECALLS

Do Hypoallergenic Dogs Really Exist?


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Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog breed. Though, certain dog breeds cause fewer allergy symptoms than others. The misconception comes from the idea that a dog’s fur is the culprit of allergies. However, the real source is a protein that’s found in dog saliva and urine. This protein then sticks to dander, the dry flaky stuff that lives on your pup’s skin.

Some dog breeds are then somewhat misleadingly described as hypoallergenic because they don’t shed fur or shed very little. Because these non-shedding dogs rarely release fur, the allergy-causing dander doesn’t get released as often into the air, floor or furniture. Instead, the dander sticks to the skin.

If you or someone in your home does have allergies, there are ways to reduce allergy symptoms. Here are a few tips for managing dog allergies as best as possible:

1. Consider a smaller dog, as they will shed less and therefore release less dander into the air and your home.

2. Give your dog boundaries within the home to create allergy-free zones. For instance, don’t allow the dog in places where the allergic person resides most frequently, such as the bedroom. And, if you have a guest visiting who’s allergic, put the dog outside to keep your guest as comfortable as possible.

3. Ditch the carpet. A wood or tile-floor is easier to keep clean. Use a vacuum with a special micro-filter to collect all dust particles and get your carpet professionally cleaned on a regular basis. On a general note, learn to love housework. The cleaner the home, the less chance for dander to build up on surfaces, furniture and bedding.

4. Bathe your dog regularly for obvious reasons. A good cleansing and brushing will remove excess hair filled with dander, which would otherwise end up in your home.

5. Use an air purifier and HEPA vent filters to help reduce the amount of airborne allergens. Besides dander, these filters will also filter out pollen and dust mites from the air you breathe.

6. Wash your hands. Whether you’re frequently petting your dog, or just plain touching things that he may have brushed up against, frequent hand washing is helpful in preventing the dander from sticking to hands, which may then travel to your eyes and nose.

7. Mitigate with medication. There are plenty of over-the-counter medications like antihistamines, which can provide much-needed relief for allergy symptoms such as congestion or itchy eyes. For asthma or wheezing however, you may need a prescription from your physician.

8. Consider allergy shots. Allergy vaccinations can help you develop the antibodies necessary to combat common allergens. This option however should only be considered if you plan to live with a dog long-term and symptoms are too severe to take medications daily. While immunotherapy (allergy shots) can be an effective treatment plan, it’s quite a long road towards the potential of feeling relief. It can take a year of weekly injections before converting to monthly maintenance doses, and then another 3-5 years of monthly shots before you no longer have symptoms (and don’t need medication).

9. Invest in preventative products such as impermeable covers for mattresses and pillows because allergen particles brought into the room on clothes and other objects can accumulate in them and cause more intense symptoms.

10. Don’t blame the dog. While allergies can be terribly uncomfortable and frustrating to live with, remember it’s not your dog’s fault so do not get angry with him. Dogs can’t help the fur and dander they were born with. Plus, it’s not uncommon for someone prone to allergies to be allergic to other allergens in the home other than dander. So before attributing all symptoms to Fido, consider other allergens in your environment that could also be responsible for your symptoms such as dust, insecticides, pollen, or cigarette smoke.

Common Puppyhood Illnesses: Coccidia


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Just as non-furry children tend to get childhood illnesses like chicken pox, puppies can also be susceptible to similar puppyhood illnesses. One fairly common illness that you may encounter is coccidia, also known as coccidiosis. Coccidia are single-celled organisms that can infect a puppy or adult dog’s intestinal tract. It may sound scary, but it is generally mild and easily treatable. Like many puppy illnesses, the main symptom is diarrhea. It is important to bring your puppy in to the vet any time he displays signs of digestive distress to ensure prompt treatment of any illnesses. This will also help prevent the problem from spreading to other pets that your pup may come in contact with. We’ve spoken to our veterinary consultant, Dr. Brandon Sinn, to bring you everything you need to know about identifying and treating coccidia in your puppy.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of coccidiosis are mild to severe diarrhea and loss of appetite, but may also include vomiting in severe cases. Diarrhea can be a sign of other infections such as Giardia as well, so your vet will need to perform a stool sample test to confirm the diagnosis. Symptoms generally appear approximately 13 days from initial infection. Most dogs and puppies will recover quickly from coccidiosis, but it is important to get prompt treatment to prevent dehydration and other complications.

How does Coccidia spread?
Like Giardia, coccidia infection is spread through feces. You may have noticed that your puppy is very interested in the droppings of dogs and other animals. While this is perfectly normal behavior, it is best to keep them away from animal droppings to prevent diseases like coccidia that spread through the ingestion of infected fecal material. Similarly, if your own puppy has been diagnosed with coccidia, it is important to clean up after him promptly to help protect other dogs who may come to investigate.

Puppies and adult dogs with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk for coccidiosis. A healthy adult dog with a strong immune system may show no signs of infection and suffer no ill effects themselves, but can still spread coccidia to other animals.

Treatment and Prevention
Drugs such as Albon (sulfadimethoxine), Tribrissen (trimethoprimsulfadiazine) and Marquis have been effective in treating dogs infected with coccidia. These drugs work by preventing the coccidia organisms from reproducing, which gives the puppy time to build up an immunity. While these drugs do not completely eradicate a coccidia infection, they do resolve the puppy’s symptoms. They can also be given to prevent future flare-ups in an adult dog with a history of coccidiosis.

There are many preventative measures you can take to keep your puppy healthy and free from coccidia and other puppyhood illnesses. Always pick up after your dog after he goes to the bathroom and be sure to provide him with clean drinking water. It is best to discourage him from hunting small animals, as they may carry coccidia and can transfer the infection to your dog if they are eaten. If your puppy shows any symptoms of coccidia or another illness, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian!

With proper treatment and preventative measures, coccidia infection can pass quickly and uneventfully and will not impact your puppy’s quality of life.

Don’t Fear the Dentist! Doggy Dental Care for Dummies


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One of the most endearing dog characteristics is a big, wide smile. But if your dog has bad dental hygiene, his mouth may be the last feature anyone wants to see (or smell).

Not only can bad oral care be disgusting and unsightly, but it can also escalate into serious health issues if not addressed properly. According to a publication by the Banfield Pet Hospital in the Periodontal Literature Review, estimates suggest that 85 percent of canines suffer from periodontal disease by age four. Not to worry though; with simple regular maintenance, your pooch can ditch the doggy breath and keep a dazzling smile throughout the years.

Periodontal Disease: Signs and Symptoms
The first sign of periodontal disease is the infamous “doggy breath” we have all gotten a whiff of at one time or another. If bad breath in your dog is a recurring issue, it may be time to consult a veterinarian. Disease typically starts with a bacterial invasion which takes the form of plaque on the surface of the teeth. Plaque in its early stages can easily be scraped off when your dog eats hard food or chews on a toy. If the plaque remains, however, it may accumulate into calcified tartar and eventually lead to gingivitis, bleeding and swelling of the gums. The bacteria can also infiltrate the dog’s bloodstream and cause disease to the lungs, kidneys and heart. Professional intervention will be needed at this point to prevent the plaque from causing a full-blown infection which can cause tooth deterioration, loss and severe discomfort for your dog. Now that doesn’t sound like so much fun for Fido, does it?

Veterinary Care
Aside from regular dental checkups, professional teeth cleaning that requires anesthesia should be done about once a year to remove plaque buildup. It’s a good idea to do your research before choosing a veterinary dentist, as well as bring your dog with you on your consultations to get both of you more comfortable for future visits. Your vet may perform a dental X-ray on your dog to check overall dental health and for abnormalities that may not be present in a general checkup. Before cleaning, the vet will administer a pre-anesthetic exam to make sure your dog is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia. Once the safety of the procedure is confirmed and anesthesia is underway, your dog’s vital signs such as respiration, body temperature and heart rate while be monitored throughout the process. Then, much like the cleaning that takes place at your own dental visits, the vet will scale and polish the teeth of your dog, scraping off plaque and smoothing out rough areas. The vet may apply fluoride as a protective barrier to strengthen the teeth until the next visit.

Home Care
In addition to regular dental checkups, daily maintenance of your dog’s teeth at home is highly recommended. That’s right, this means brushing your dog’s teeth ideally once a day but starting with at least once a week if your dog is especially fussy with a prodding toothbrush in his mouth. You may use either a regular human toothbrush or a doggy toothbrush from a pet store, which is more angled to fit the mouth of your dog. Canine toothpaste must be used over the human kind, however, since the latter has harmful abrasives and is not safe for your dog to swallow. Teeth wipes can also be used for quick dental touch-ups.

Once you’ve got all your supplies together, it’s time to start brushing! Be patient—your dog might not be very receptive of brushing at first, and it may take some time for him to get used to the process. Start with getting your dog comfortable with you handling his muzzle by topping your finger with a soft treat like peanut butter and gently introducing it into his mouth, moving along the teeth as well. Once your dog appears comfortable with you touching his mouth and teeth, place a small amount of toothpaste onto the toothbrush, lift his lips up, and brush in circular motions along the gum line. The more you practice with your dog, the farther back you will be able to go in his mouth for a more thorough clean. Always end the session with a treat and praise to provide positive reinforcement for your pup.

It is also useful to give your dog a flexible chew toy or rawhide bone that he will enjoy chewing while keeping his mouth healthy and clean. Other products on the market can easily help rid your pooch of “doggy breath” caused by lack of dental upkeep.

Dental hygiene can be a daunting subject for both people and their dogs, but doing a little maintenance every day will ensure that your dog stays healthy and sound.

What to Know about Spaying and Neutering


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Spaying and neutering, defined as the sterilization of dogs through removal of their reproductive organs, are safe and routine medical practices performed by veterinarians across the country. But, the average dog owner may not know why the procedure is done, the associated benefits and whether the surgery is necessary. So, we’re shedding some light on what can be considered a taboo subject with the goal of arming you with crucial information related to your pup’s reproductive health and what it means for his future.

While it’s typical to sterilize a dog from six to nine months of age, veterinarians are now beginning to sterilize puppies as young as eight weeks old. Neutering or spaying your dog may seem costly at first, but in fact, it not only saves money in the long run, but also eliminates the responsibility of having to take care of an entire litter of puppies. Not to mention, sterilization keeps dogs off the streets and safe in happy, healthy homes. Let’s take a look at some of the additional benefits of each:

Spaying
Spaying is the term used to describe the removal of the female reproductive system in animals. The medical benefits of spaying according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) include increased protection from diseases because spaying a dog before her first heat helps defend against tumors in the mammary glands and uterus. Spaying also eliminates the unfavorable attributes of the heat cycle during breeding season, such as excessive urination, irritability and bleeding.

Neutering
Neutering is a general term for the castration of a male animal, though “neutering” can also be used to refer to the sterilization of both male and female animals. The AVMF recommends neutering to prevent male dogs from testicular cancer and prostate problems. Neutering also inhibits roaming in dogs, a marked trait of an unsterilized dog with the drive to travel far distances to mate. Neutering is also thought to improve the behavior of male dogs as the decrease in testosterone may allow them to be less territorial, less sexually aggressive and less likely to engage in humping and leg-lifting.

When Not to Neuter
While the clear benefits to sterilization are explained above, there are  certain situations in which it is appropriate to leave your dog intact. First, if you are a qualified breeder, you will need to keep your dogs intact for breeding purposes. Second, if you plan to show your dog in a professional show, you will need to keep the dog intact as neutered dogs are not eligible given that the original purpose of showing was to evaluate a dog for its breeding stock.

Lastly, some holistic veterinarians allege that spaying and neutering your dog, especially before she has a chance to fully mature, is not only unnecessary, but harmful to the dog. If you decide not to neuter and don’t want an unplanned pregnancy, then it is vital to do the appropriate research and make responsible decisions such as keeping your dog out of social situations during heat cycles, etc. Spaying and neutering alleviates this worry in dog-owners, making neutering a popular option for American homes today.