Archive for the ‘Dogs Health’ Category

Smoker says passive smoking was to blame for the death of her dog

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

When her beloved dog collapsed and had to be rushed to the vet, Heather Goddard was horrified.

The grandmother was left grief-stricken when tests showed Clover, an eight-year-old crossbreed, had lung cancer and would have to be put down.

But the biggest shock came when she was told that her dog’s death was caused by passive smoking – the result of being in the house as she and her husband Keith puffed through 30 cigarettes each a day.

Devastated: 62-year-old Heather Goddard, from Seaton Delaval, said her dog got lung cancer after inhaling the toxic chemicals from tobacco smoke – she is now speaking out to protect pets in the future

Happier times: Ms Goddard, with husband Keith, granddaughters Chelsea and Leona and dog Roger, quit smoking a year ago and has been told she now smells ‘like a proper grandma, which is lovely to hear’

Now Mrs Goddard, 61, has quit smoking and is alerting other pet owners to the dangers posed to animals by second-hand smoke.

She and Mr Goddard, 67, of Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, were walking Clover in a park when the rescue dog became ill.

They took her to a veterinary practice in Morpeth, where they were told she had black spots on her lungs and was also suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The vet said nothing more could be done for Clover, adding that the cause of her cancer was passive smoking.

‘Knowing my smoking was to blame was like somebody had just put a bullet into my heart. It was a nightmare that had come true,’ said Mrs Goddard, a retired cleaner who has another dog, Roger, as well as two cats and a rabbit.

‘Clover was a lovely dog. She was friendly and there wasn’t a bad bone in her body.

Fond memories: She says thinking about Clover ‘brings a tear to my eye just thinking about the damage my smoking was doing’ – she is now hoping to inform others about the dangers of second-hand smoke

Clover had to be put down after a scan showed up black spots on her lungs

‘She showed no signs or symptoms of being ill. We had no idea why she had collapsed until we took her to the vets. It was such a shock.

‘You don’t think about your animals but they are just like us. They can get illnesses like diabetes and cancer the same as us.’ Mrs Goddard says she now regrets exposing her family and her animals to years of cigarette smoke in the house and the car.

She added: ‘I think I would have tried to give up earlier if I had known the damage it was doing to my animals. As long as the animals were fed I would be happy to go without food but I had to have my cigarettes.

‘I didn’t connect passive smoking with animals. You don’t realise how much of it they are taking in. My grandchildren are only here once or twice a week but our pets are with us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.’

It still took her nearly three years following Clover’s death before she managed to quit her 30-a-day habit – and by then she too had been diagnosed with chronic lung disease.

Her husband has also given up smoking, much to the delight of their three children and eight grandchildren.

Mrs Goddard, who had smoked for 40 years, said: ‘I feel a lot healthier now I have stopped.

‘I can walk to the end of the path without getting as out of breath and I don’t use my inhalers as much.

New start: Ms Goddard pictured with her grandchildren – who are ‘always happy that I no longer smoke’

My grandchildren tell me they are glad I stopped smoking because I don’t smell of smoke any more. When I gave up smoking that stopped my illness from getting any worse.’

She hopes by speaking out she will alert other animal owners and help protect more pets from the harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke.

‘I would tell anyone who smokes and has animals to think twice,’ she said. ‘I know how difficult it is to give up but they need to think about their animals. Don’t give up trying, even if you have two cigarettes less a day.’

The British Veterinary Association has long warned of the dangers of smoking around pets, saying it can lead to incidents of cancer, asthma and bronchitis in cats and dogs.

Story reposted from:
By Jaya Narain

Does your dog have food allergies?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Just as we can develop food allergies, so can man’s best friend.

Food allergies occur when a dog’s immune system mistakenly treats a specific protein as harmful and responds with antibodies that trigger a series of symptoms. Proteins are present not only in meats, but also in grains and vegetables, so any commercial dog food could cause an allergic reaction.

When your dog is on a special diet, don't feed him any other foods, including treats, unless recommended by your veterinarian. (Photo: Amy/flickr)

While dogs can be allergic nearly any ingredient, there are certain foods that are more likely to cause an allergic reaction. These include the following:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Rabbit
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Egg
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Dairy

When a dog has an allergic reaction to a food, symptoms can vary, but they can include any of the following:

  • Itchy skin and scratching, especially in the ears and rear end
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Swollen paws
  • Constant licking

Every time a dog eats the offending food, the immune system’s overreaction becomes greater, so continuing to feed your dog the same food can result in serious health issues.

Dogs can develop food allergies at any stage of life, and while they can occur in any breed, they’re especially common in setters, terriers, retrievers and flat-faced breeds such as pugs and bulldogs, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

What to do if you suspect your dog has food allergies

If you think your dog may be reacting to a food, visit your veterinarian. He or she may be able to determine the source of your dog’s allergic reaction, but if not, he or she will likely recommend blood or skin tests or suggest an elimination diet.

Elimination diets isolate which food your dog is allergic to by feeding him a protein and carbohydrate source that he’s never eaten before. Common foods used in such a diet include sweet potatoes, ground turkey, kangaroo, oatmeal, venison or potato.

If your dog doesn’t react to the new foods, you can then begin adding different ingredients back into his diet until you notice your pet having an allergic reaction.

Once you’ve identified the offending food or foods, you and your veterinarian can then design a diet that’s free of any triggers.

Your vet may also recommend that your dog eat a hypoallergenic diet. Hypoallergenic foods typically have fewer ingredients and feature novel proteins like bison, fish, kangaroo or pheasant.

Ingredients like lamb and rice were once considered hypoallergenic because they were rarely used in most commercial dog foods; however, many dogs have now developed allergies to these foods.

While your dog is on any special diet, it’s important not to give him any treats or rawhides unless your veterinarian says it’s OK.

If your dog is still having allergic reactions after changing his diet, he may be allergic to something else in his environment such as pollen or a medication and your veterinarian will likely recommend further testing.

Article reposted from:
By Laura Moss

Screening tests can uncover hidden conditions early in your pet

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Some dogs bury bones, while some cats squirrel away socks. But that’s not all our pets can hide; they often hide illness quite well.

From an evolutionary perspective, showing illness or weakness can be detrimental, so over time animals instinctively have hidden illness. Veterinarians are trained to pick up subtle cues that something is not right with your pet, but cannot learn everything through senses alone.

A physical exam should be performed by a veterinarian at least yearly. For older animals, twice a year is better. During the exam, you might hear terms such as “FeLV/FIV,” “fecal,” “chem panel,” “CBC” or “UA.”

What do these abbreviations and acronyms mean? Veterinary medicine uses abbreviations and slang for many recommended tests. You may wonder what these tests are, and why your veterinarian considers them important – especially if your pet seems perfectly fine.

Screening tests provide additional information and can detect potential problems earlier than can be picked up by physical exam alone. Because of their role in providing important – and even potentially life-saving health information – veterinarians at Colorado State University consider screening tests a cornerstone of preventive veterinary care.

Here are some common tests your veterinarian might recommend to protect your pet’s health or to find a problem early:

• Heartworm test: Heartworms are small parasites that your dog or cat can get from mosquito bites. The larvae, or immature worms, work their way to the large blood vessels of the lung and into the heart, causing damage and interrupting normal blood flow. The American Heartworm Society recommends annual testing and monthly preventive medicine to keep your pets safe. The test uses a few drops of blood and can be performed in the veterinary clinic.

• Complete blood count (CBC): Using a small amount of blood, a CBC tells us about the body’s ability to fight infection, produce red blood cells and platelets for blood clotting, and if an infection is present. Deviations from normal values may also indicate metabolic diseases or the length of time a disease has been going on. Because some animals normally fall above or below normal ranges without disease, it is important to have a baseline test run when your pet is young and healthy.

• Biochemical profile (aka “chem,” “chemistry” or “chem panel”): Another type of blood test, biochemical profiles can give us hints about kidney and liver health and give us clues about metabolic diseases like diabetes. Because some animals normally fall above or below normal ranges without disease, it is another important baseline test to run when your pet is young and healthy.

• Urinalysis (UA): As you might guess, this tests looks at your pet’s urine. Blood cells and bacteria do not belong in urine. So if these are found, we know there is a problem in the bladder or kidney. A urinalysis can also show us how well the kidney is working or whether your pet has diabetes.

• Feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus test (FeLV/FIV test): Feline leukemia and immunodeficiency are two different viruses that infect cats. Cat-to-cat contact is the most common way your cat may become infected, including mom-to-kitten transmission. Because these viruses interfere with the immune system’s ability to fight infection and can be fatal, all cats should be screened for these two viruses. Since these viruses are good at hiding in the body, all sick cats should be tested as well.

• Fecal flotation (aka “fecal” or “parasite screen”): The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends annual screening for gut worms. If your dog or cat has parasites, the eggs will be shed in feces and can be found by fecal flotation. The protozoan parasite Giardia can also be found if present. Some worms can be transmitted to people, so it is especially important to keep your pets on regular parasite control and to screen annually.

Along with a physical exam, these tests allow veterinarians to detect disease earlier and to provide treatments that can keep your pet happy and feeling good longer.

Article reposted from:
By Dr. Rebecca Ruch-Gallie

14 Surprising Pet Poisoning Dangers

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

These foods and household items are harmless to you, but can be fatal for your cat or dog. Here’s how to keep your pets safe.

Your pets may feel like members of your family, but that doesn’t make them human. Foods and medications that are harmless to you-or even healthy for you-can actually be fatal for a dog or cat. Their bodies are different from ours, and while you probably know better than to let your furry friends near obviously harmful household chemicals and cleaners, the list doesn’t stop there. Keep your pet safe by storing these other dangerous items out of their reach. If you suspect your pet has eaten something he shouldn’t, contact your vet or poison control center immediately. “Don’t wait it out; it can make the difference between life and death,” says Karen “Doc” Halligan, doctor of veterinary medicine and chief veterinary officer for the Lucy Pet Foundation.

Onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks

While the health perks of garlic are well known for humans, all veggies in the Allium family can cause serious damage to your dog or cat’s red blood cells, causing them to burst. Other consequences include anemia and kidney damage. Weakness and an upset stomach are signs your pet may have ingested garlic, onions, shallots, or leeks. Raw is more dangerous because the active ingredient is more concentrated, but cooked is also harmful. (Don’t worry if you see onion or garlic powder listed in your pet’s food—they’re harmless in powder form.)


Though dogs love this sweet treat, it can be deadly. “The important thing to know is that milk chocolate is much, much less toxic,” says Steven Hansen, president and CEO of the Arizona Humane Society and board certified veterinary toxicologist. “The most toxic is baking chocolate, then high-quality dark chocolate.” The cocoa beans in chocolate contain theobromine, a chemical that’s toxic in small animals. It can cause an increased respiratory rate, central nervous system disorders, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, cardiac failure and even death. A potentially lethal dose for a 16-pound animal is two ounces of baking chocolate or 16 ounces of milk chocolate. One sweet treat you don’t have to worry about: white chocolate. That’s because white chocolate doesn’t contain cocoa solids, and therefore only trace amounts of theobromine.

Raisins and grapes

Though it isn’t understood why, raisins and grapes can cause life-threating kidney failure in dogs. (Cats don’t typically eat raisins and grapes—they tend to steer clear of sweeter foods.) Vomiting and diarrhea can start as early as four to six hours after eating them, and typically begin within 24 hours.

Macadamia nuts

As few as five or six of these nuts can a kill dog, thanks to an unknown toxin. They can cause seizures, depression, vomiting, and trouble walking—their rear legs can appear to be paralyzed. “It’s very dramatic and quite scary, but if they are treated right away the outcome is they recover within 48 to 72 hours,” says Hansen. Typically, the vet will pump the dog’s stomach and induce vomiting to clear out the macadamia nuts. Dogs may also be put on IV fluids in the hospital.

Sugarless chewing gum

Dogs and cats can’t process xylitol, an artificial sweetener commonly found in sugarless gum, the same way humans can. It affects their glucose levels and causes their blood sugar to drop so quickly that they can die from it. It can also lead to seizures and liver damage at fatal levels. Plus, if dogs sniff out gum, “sometimes they will eat the whole packaging and can get an obstruction from the material,” cautions Halligan.

Fruit pits

The pits in plums, peaches, and cherries, as well as apple seeds, aren’t just a choking hazard or an object that could get stuck in your pet’s intestines. The pits also contain cyanogenic glycosides, which are cyanide-like compounds that can lead to difficulty breathing, excess salivation, shock, seizures, and coma in both dogs and cats.

Moldy food

“If your dog gets into the garbage can and eats some moldy cheese, it can lead to neurological problems, like trembling,” says Hansen. It also puts your furry friend at risk for toxicity, thanks to the tremorgenic mycotoxins found in moldy bread, pasta, cheese, nuts, and other foods. Watch out for vomiting, agitation, stumbling, tremors, and seizures.


“Caffeine is the toxic ingredient here, so decaf would probably just cause diarrhea,” says Halligan. Caffeine contains methylated xanthines, which stimulate the central nervous system, meaning the heart can be overstimulated and lead to death. Ingesting caffeine can also cause vomiting.


Avocados are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat—but those fats are only healthy for humans. For your pets, the high fat content is bad news since it can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, and eventually pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). And if your dog or cat eats the pit, it can get lodged in their intestines and cause a blockage.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

“Every day in this country, some unsuspecting pet owner gives his pet a pill in the hope of making his dog or cat feel better, often with disastrous results,” says Halligan. “Prescription and over-the-counter medications can be lethal to pets; they don’t process drugs the same way humans do.” Acetaminophen can be fatal to dogs and cats because they lack the necessary enzymes to detoxify and break it down, leading to blood cell and tissue damage. Symptoms develop quickly and include weakness, salivation, vomiting, difficulty breathing, dark-colored urine or gums, and abdominal pain.

Aspirin (plain and buffered)

Two regular aspirin can kill a cat or a small dog. “Although it can be used safely as an anti-inflammatory in cats and dogs in appropriate dosages, it has the potential for serious side effects,” says Halligan. Cats are at a greater risk than dogs because they are deficient in the enzymes needed to metabolize this drug. Outward signs of aspirin toxicosis in cats include incoordination, depression, lack of interest in food, vomiting, loss of balance, bloody diarrhea, and panting. Cats may also develop severe anemia, bleeding disorders, and kidney failure. The signs for dogs are gastrointestinal problems, respiratory difficulties, neurological problems, bleeding disorders, and kidney failure.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Vets prescribe anti-inflammatories to relieve muscle and joint pain, but the doses for pets are much smaller than for humans, says Halligan. That means you don’t want your pets getting their paws on your bottle. “Cats are extremely sensitive to the toxic effects of NSAIDs due to their higher gastrointestinal absorption rates and decreased ability to metabolize these drugs,” Halligan says. They can cause life-threatening ulcers and bleeding disorders, and also reduce blood flow to kidneys and other organs, causing significant damage and bone marrow suppression. NSAIDS include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).


Houseplants can help you breathe easier by giving off oxygen and removing chemicals like formaldehyde from the air, but if your curious cat or dog takes a nibble, it could prove deadly. Eating a small amount of a mildly toxic plant isn’t always fatal, but large or repeated doses can be extremely dangerous, especially for cats. “Given the huge number of plants in existence, it’s impossible to know every single plant that may be toxic to your pet,” says Halligan. “As a general rule, plants that are listed as toxic to humans should also be considered toxic to animals.” The five most dangerous plants are lilies, azaleas, oleander, sago palm, and castor bean. Hansen also cautions that pets may want to play with—and chew on—bouquets, so keep an eye on those too. Signs of ingesting plants include vomiting, diarrhea, frequent urination, and drinking lots of water.


Dogs will eat just about anything you leave on the counter, including marijuana, says Hansen. Though it won’t kill your dog, you should take Fido to the vet right away if he’s eaten your pot. “They will recover with treatment but it can last several days,” Hansen says. Look for incontinence, weakness, lethargy, stumbling, low heart rate, dilated pupils, and sometimes vomiting.

Article reposted from:,,20904688,00.html
By Celia Shatzman

During National Pet Dental Health Month, take a look inside your pet's mouth

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Do you know the No. 1 disease in dogs and cats? If you answered periodontal disease, you are correct. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and veterinarians across the country are trying to increase awareness about oral health in dogs and cats.

For most of us, caring for our teeth and gums has been part of our daily routine for as long as we can remember. Just like it is for you, oral health care is important for pets and regular, professional care from veterinarians and home care from pet owners help keep plaque minimized. Daily brushing and feeding special pet foods can help.

A few dental facts

  • Periodontal disease is the most prevalent disease among dogs and cats.
  • An astounding 75 percent of dogs and cats show signs of oral disease by age 3, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society.
  • Dogs start out with 28 deciduous, or baby, teeth, and cats start out with 26 deciduous teeth. By six months of age, these baby teeth fall out and are replaced by permanent teeth — 42 in dogs and 30 in cats.
  • Broken teeth are a common problem for dogs, especially among outdoor dogs. According to veterinary dental experts, aggressive chewing on hard objects is a primary cause of broken teeth in dogs.
  • Osteoclastic resorptive lesions are the most common tooth disease in domestic cats. Studies show about 28 percent of domestic cats develop at least one of these painful lesions during their lifetime.
  • In my practice, I suspect that 30 percent of all patients we see have oral pain that is unrecognized by the client.
  • Bacteria from the tartar and infected teeth will eventually get into the bloodstream and cause issues in the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.
  • A dog or cat with a healthy mouth is likely to live a couple of years longer than one with a diseased mouth.

The cause of periodontal disease is plaque, which is a colorless film that contains large amounts of bacteria. If left unchecked, plaque builds up, creating infection, destroying gums and resulting in the loss of the tissues and bone that support the teeth.

All pets are at risk for developing dental problems. Once a pet displays any of the warning signs below, serious periodontal disease may be present.

Signs of periodontal disease

  • Tooth loss
  • Subdued behavior
  • Abnormal drooling
  • Food dropping out of the mouth
  • Swallowing food whole
  • Bad breath
  • Yellow-brown crust on teeth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Going to the food bowl but not eating
  • Change of chewing or eating habits

Contributing factors for gum disease are ignoring the mouth and non-compliant oral hygiene by the client. It is recommended to wipe/brush the teeth with pet toothpaste, like CET enzymatic paste, after each meal or at least before bedtime. Certain breeds are more predisposed to gingivitis, such as smaller dogs and certain breeds of cats.

And, of course, age is a factor since periodontal disease is more common as a pet grows older. Prevention and treatment of oral disease requires a team effort with you and your veterinarian.

Pet owners should look for warning signs of oral disease as the first step in preventing oral disease is a routine physical examination, including a dental exam.

Please do your dog or cat a favor and look in its mouth today, learn what is normal so you can recognize the abnormal and begin an oral care program at home. If you suspect your pet’s mouth needs veterinary attention, call your veterinarian and be aware that most veterinarians have special discounted oral health promotions this time of year.

Article reposted from:
By Dr. Darren Woodson Valley Veterinary Clinic

Does Your Dog Need Vegetables?

Friday, January 30th, 2015

You need veggies to be healthy, but does your dog need them?

While vegetables aren’t necessary for a dog’s health, in most cases they can’t hurt, experts say.

Dogs can benefit from vegetables in their diet. Corn and potatoes give them carbohydrates for energy, plus minerals and fiber. But dogs don’t need vegetables to get these nutrients. Other foods, like rice and grains, can fill these needs too, says Jennifer Larsen, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Dogs are omnivores like people, so they can eat a wide variety of foods, not just meat.

Should I Add Veggies to My Dog’s Food?

In most cases, you don’t need to add them to his kibble bowl, says veterinarian Evy Alloway, who practices at Killingworth Animal Hospital in Connecticut.

If the dog food you buy has a stamp of approval from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (or AAFCO) it means it offers a balanced diet. Everything she needs is already in her food. You don’t have to worry about giving vegetables — or grains, for that matter — to your dog to make sure they get a balanced meal.

Veggies as Treats

While you don’t need to add vegetables to your dog’s diet, it doesn’t mean that you can’t. Many pet owners offer carrots, green beans, or broccoli to dogs as treats.

They’re low-calorie, so they’re good for Fido. But don’t offer too many vegetables as snacks. Treats of any kind should not make up more than 10 percent of your dog’s diet. Ask your vet for what that means for your dog based on his weight and activity level.

They’re Good for Overweight Dogs

Vets often recommend mixing vegetables into the kibble of an overweight dog as filler. It’ll make his meal feel more satisfying with few calories.

Just be forewarned: A sudden change from the typical fatty, processed, meaty treats to fiber-filled vegetable ones can be a little tough on your dog’s system. To ease the transition, soften raw vegetables a bit first by steaming them. You can also puree them in a blender.

“If your dog becomes constipated, your vet may recommend mixing canned pumpkin in with his food for a few days until the situation rights itself,” Alloway says.

Pureed pumpkin is also used to clear up mild diarrhea. It tends to absorb extra water that’s in the stool and harden it up, while also adding fiber.

Vegetables to Avoid

Feel free to stock up on vegetables for your dog, but whatever you do, don’t feed him onions, garlic, or chive, which can lead to anemia. Unripe tomatoes are another no-no. They can be toxic to dogs. Also, steer clear of avocado and raw potatoes, which can potentially make dogs very sick.

You can try giving your dog fruit. But never offer grapes or raisins. They can quickly lead to illness and kidney damage.

DIY Dog Food? Enlist an Expert

Some people want to make food for their dogs themselves. If you want to, vets say it’s important to have a veterinary nutritionist help you plan meals and come up with recipes. That way you can make sure your pet is getting a balanced diet and doesn’t suffer from any nutritional deficiencies, which can easily happen.

Article reposted from:
By Suz Redfearn – WebMD Pet Health Feature

Healthy dog food will never have these 5 ingredients

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Dog food manufacturers are expected to meet certain quality and labeling standards and the Association of American Feed Control Officials assists with this. However, many of the cheaper brands only meet the minimum standard of healthy dog food and may actually contain unhealthy ingredients. While they will keep a dog alive, they will not necessarily help the dog thrive.

While a dog will eat just about anything, owners should take the time to read pet food labels, be able to recognize quality ingredients versus unhealthy additives, and choose the healthier dog food options. Initially the greater price of higher quality dog foods may mean an added expense. However, the investment can result in a healthier dog with greater longevity, less trips to the veterinarian, and less waste management time due to the greater digestibility of ingredients.

Many veterinarians and dog advocates agree that healthy dog food will never have these five ingredients:


Butylated hydroxytoluene and butylated hydroxysanisole are preservatives that are very common in cheaper dog food brands. Dog Food Advisor states, “According to the National Institute of Health, BHA in the diet has been found to consistently produce certain types of tumors in laboratory animals.” Although these chemical preservatives are “generally recognized as safe” in low doses, dog food containing them that is fed every day increases the health risks of these chemicals.

2. Artificial colors

Dogs could not care less what color their food is and the addition of chemical colorants is simply a marketing scheme to please the human eye. However, artificial colors such as Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 have no health value and many studies have shown that in large amounts they can present health risks.

3. Ethoxyquin

This dog food additive is an antioxidant that has been used in dog foods for decades to preserve the nutritional value of fats. However, according to Vet Info, there may be a link between ethoxyquin and the following health problems in dogs:

  • allergic reactions
  • behavior problems
  • cancer
  • deformed puppies
  • infertility
  • organ failure
  • skin problems

One issue is that ethoxyquin may be added to ingredients before they are added to the dog food and thus it may not be listed on the label. Dog food labeled “organic” is less likely to contain the additive.

4. By-products

After the good meat is cut off of animals for the human industry, what is left over are the by-products and these are rendered into pet food. PetMD describes this rendering as, “an industrial process of extraction by melting that converts waste animal tissue into usable materials.” These by-products may also be labeled as meal, or digest, and include brain, bone, intestines, hoof, manure, animal fat, beaks, organs, and bones. Rendered by-products are not fit for human consumption but meet the minimum standard set for dogs.

5. Propylene glycol

This chemical is the main ingredient found in antifreeze and it is added to dog foods to regulate moisture and bacteria. This potentially toxic chemical has been banned in cat food by the FDA but is still allowed in dog food. However, this ingredient will never be found in healthy dog food. According to Pet Poison Helpline, “When ingested by pets, propylene glycol can result in severe sedation, walking drunk, seizures, tremors, panting, anemia, and lethargy.”

Article reposted from:
By Alana Marie Burke

Dog Obesity and Fat Dogs - A Growing Health Problem

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Dog obesity is one of the fastest growing health problems for dogs today. In this article we’ll discuss the ideal weight for your dog, how to prevent dog obesity through diet and exercise, and what to do if all else fails.

The Dog Obesity Issue

According to the CDC approximately one-third of adults in the United States are obese and the trend towards obesity appears to be worsening. Veterinarians are noticing a corresponding increase in the prevalence of dog obesity. Just as in people, obesity in dogs is associated with various health problems such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, osteoarthritis, cardiopulmonary disease, hypertension and various types of neoplasia such as mammary cancer and transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder. These dog health conditions associated with dog obesity negatively impact the quality of life and longevity for our overweight canine companions and dramatically increase the cost of their veterinary care.

How to Assess Your Dog’s Ideal Weight

BCS stands for Body Condition Score and is a simple non-invasive way of assessing your dog’s weight and should be part of your dog’s regular physical. The most common BCS system is a nine point system where 4/9 to 5/9 are normal, 6/9 to 7/9 are overweight and 8/9 to 9/9 is obese with the dog weighing more than 30% over the ideal weight. You can get an idea of your dog’s BCS by feeling his ribs and looking down to visually assess his waist or lack of. When a dog is at their ideal weight one can feel the ribs along the side of the chest easily since there is no excessive fat covering them and when looking down from above at the dog’s back one can observe a slight hourglass shaped waist after the ribs. When dogs are obese the waist disappears and is either flat or rounded out.

Studies have shown that people tend to underestimate their dog’s BCS so your veterinarian is the best source for a reliable BCS. Get into a habit of asking “What’s my dog’s BCS?” whenever you go in to see your vet. Armed with the knowledge of your dog’s BCS you have a better idea of what his ideal weight should be and what steps you can take to help your dog achieve a healthier weight.

An Ideal Diet for Your Dog

The first step towards helping your dog reach their ideal weight is to know what the ideal energy intake needed to achieve maintenance. This is the level of caloric intake that will not cause your dog to gain or lose weight. A useful formula to estimate the necessary caloric intake to maintain weight is the metabolic energy requirement (MER).

MER(kcal) = 132 x (body weight in kilograms)0.75

So using the MER formula, an average 30 pound adult dog would require approximately 937 kcal per day to maintain their body weight. Keep in mind that the MER is simply an estimate because each dog has their own unique metabolism. Another thing to keep in mind is that the MER formula is a conservative formula that tends to overestimate a dog’s actual caloric need to maintain a certain weight. Your dog’s life stage and activity levels need to be factored in as well, puppies, working dogs and pregnant dogs need 2x or more their MER. Older sedentary dogs in contrast need only approximately 0.8 times their MER to maintain weight. Ask your veterinarian to help you calculate your dog’s MER if there is any confusion. In any case one should now have an idea of what ballpark your dog’s caloric needs are.

With this information it is a simple matter to determine how many cups of food is needed per day. Good quality dog foods will have their caloric level per cup written on the bag and there are numerous online sites to help consumers determine how many calories are in their dog’s brand of food if the label is lacking in information. With this information, one now knows approximately how much food they need to feed their dog to maintain their weight. Remember to factor in treats as well and decrease how much regular food you give accordingly. Ideally treats should not compose more than 3-4% of daily caloric intake.

To determine what adjustments, if any one needs to make in how much they feed is to consider the dog’s BCS. If the BCS is high then healthy weight loss can be achieved by feeding 80% of the current intake to achieve a gradual weight loss of 1-2% of body weight per week. Special weight loss diets are available that are lower in calories than regular brands of dog foods but are packed with essential nutrients so that your dog doesn’t miss out on anything vital. There is a risk that feeding maintenance diets during the weight loss phase will not provide all the nutrition that your dog needs so check with your veterinarian with any questions about the best diet to feed.

How to Prevent Dog Obesity through Exercise

Reducing an overweight’s dog’s caloric intake can be a little complicated and involves some trial and error but increasing energy expenditure is a breeze. It’s fun too! Simply incorporating some regular exercise into his normal daily regimen will make the weight loss program much more effective. A walk around the block, socializing at the local dog park, tossing a ball or Frisbee around in the backyard and swimming if your dog likes water are all good ideas to help get your dog moving. It also reinforces the human-companion bond and can even help you achieve your own weight loss goals. Get moving, your dog will thank you!

A Last Resort to Treating Dog Obesity

If increasing exercise and decreasing caloric intake are not working there are medications available that can aid weight loss. Dirlotapide also known as Slentrol is available by prescription from veterinarians and works by suppressing the appetite and hindering fat absorption. Pharmacologic intervention should only be considered as a last option and only as a part of an overall weight loss program because all too often people rely on the drug to do all the work and do not make the necessary lifestyle modifications of eating less and moving more. This can result in excess weight returning when the drug is discontinued. This pattern of weight cycling does more harm than good.

Obesity is very treatable and the benefits are tremendous in terms of quality of life and longevity (and reduced vet bills!) so step back and take an honest look at your dog and how much he is eating and how much exercise he gets. Make adjustments as needed so your dog can live his life to the fullest.

Article reposted from:
By Dr. Kristy Conn

What to Expect When Your Dog Gets Older?

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Dogs age faster than humans. The average life expectancy of a medium-size dog is about 12 years and depends on many factors, including breed, size, genetics, nutrition, environment and vaccination history, to name a few. In general, large and giant breeds tend to age faster than smaller and toy breeds. Great Danes, for example, seldom reach 12 years of age, while occasionally Chihuahuas may reach 20 years old. Any dog between 7 and 8 years of age should be considered middle-aged (although that would probably be considered senior for large breeds); a dog is a senior when he’s reached the last 25 percent of his predicted life span.

Daily exercise, play time and reinforcement of good behavior with praise and nutritious treats can help reduce stress for senior dogs. (Image Credit: Thinkstock)

Once a dog has entered his senior years, there are steps you can take to help ensure that your dog is as healthy and comfortable as possible in his remaining years. The following are five basic recommendations for caring for your aging dog.

1. Schedule comprehensive physical exams and diagnostic workups every 6 months

A well-known phrase in veterinary medicine states: “For every one problem missed by not knowing, nine others are missed by not looking.” A comprehensive physical exam by a veterinarian on a regular basis (every six months) can help to ensure that any health problems your dog is experiencing are discovered early. Some pets may benefit from even more frequent veterinary visits, especially pets with pre-existing health issues that should be monitored. In general, the earlier a problem is discovered and therapy initiated, the better the chance of a favorable outcome. While many illnesses are incurable, early intervention and treatment may help slow the progression of a disease, relieve pain and keep your dog comfortable longer.

While the physical exam is very helpful, it cannot provide your veterinarian with all the information necessary to completely evaluate the function of many body systems. That’s why a diagnostic workup, or tests to help detect disease, is also recommended. Blood tests such as the complete blood count ( CBC) and blood (serum) chemistry profile are extremely useful in evaluating the function of many body systems. Other laboratory tests often incorporated in a diagnostic workup include urine analysis (UA), radiography and fecal tests.

An exam every six months will also give the doctor the opportunity to assess the need for preventive care, such as dental cleanings and vaccinations. Visits are also an opportunity to discuss concerns or questions regarding your pet’s oncoming geriatric years.

2. Change to a senior diet

As animals age, their bodies’ nutritional needs change. Senior dogs generally require fewer calories and less fat than adult dogs do. Increased fiber may help maintain proper function of the digestive system. Most pet food companies offer a reduced-calorie or senior diet made especially for aging pets. Your veterinarian can recommend a diet specially formulated for older dogs. Obesity from overeating, lack of exercise or a diet too rich in calories is one of the surest ways to put the health of a pet at risk. Take at least a week or so to gradually transition your dog to a new food, though, since abrupt diet changes can cause gastrointestinal problems.

3. Provide regular exercise

Regular exercise for geriatric animals is important for a healthy and happy life. The key word here is regular. Though the vigor, speed and endurance associated with younger dogs will seldom be seen in senior pets, this does not indicate that they enjoy exercise less or that it is any less beneficial to their bodies. Regular exercise helps prevent obesity, stimulates the cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) system and contributes to the well-being of a pet. Exercise also helps the musculoskeletal system by maintaining muscle tone and range of motion, which may be especially important for dogs with osteoarthritis. Talk to your veterinarian about what kind of exercise is best for your senior dog.

4. Reduce stress

Senior dogs may not adjust to physical and emotional change as well as younger dogs do. Most domestic animals thrive on daily routine and often have developed incredibly precise biological clocks. Changes in routine, environment and even diet can all contribute to stress. Boarding can be particularly stressful to a senior dog. Home care with a skilled pet sitter may be more healthy for a senior pet than a lengthy stay at a boarding facility.

Development of long-term, healthy habits can contribute to the physical well-being of your dog. These healthy destressors may include daily exercise, play time, brushing/grooming, and reinforcement of good behavior with praise and nutritious treats. Even brushing your dog’s teeth, if taught slowly as a routine and rewarded afterward, can become a destressor, while at the same time helping to maintain good hygiene.

5. Be an alert dog owner

Many diseases of senior dogs are due to the slow, almost imperceptible deterioration of organs or systems. Unless you are extremely observant, many of these conditions may go unnoticed until the problem has deteriorated into the final stages. Careful observation of behavior, mobility, hearing, vision, hair coat, appetite, thirst, urination habits, defecation habits, weight changes and other aspects of your dog’s daily routine can help you notice differences or abnormalities if or when they begin to surface. Early diagnosis and initiation of treatment may be of critical importance to your dog’s future and quality of life.

In summary, it’s important to be aware that dogs age much faster than humans. However, if given special care and attention during the senior years, your dog may live a healthier, happier and longer life.

Article reposted from:

What Causes Cancer In Our Dogs And Cats - It's Not like They Smoke or Drink?

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Did you ever wonder what causes cancer in pets? I mean, it’s not like they smoke or drink, or do drugs. So, why do our four-legged friends get so sick?

Hearing the news that your pet has been diagnosed with cancer can be both devastating and terrifying at the same time. It is natural to have many questions about exactly what the diagnosis means, what might happen to your pet as the cancer progresses, and what options you have for treating the disease.

Image credit:

One of the most common questions I am asked by owners during an initial appointment is, “What caused my pet’s cancer?” I can definitely appreciate why this is an important piece of information they would want to understand. Unfortunately, this is a very difficult question to answer accurately, as in nearly all cases cancer is typically caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences, many of which may have occurred years before the diagnosis was made.

The fact that certain types of cancers occur more often in particular breeds of dogs and cats lends much evidence to the concept of a genetic cause for the disease. We do know that the genetic mutations that cause cancer can occur in the reproductive cells of male and female animals, and these mutations can be passed on to puppies and kittens, giving rise to a heritable predisposition to different types of tumors. Most cancers, however, arise from mutations that occur to genes during a dog’s or cat’s lifetime that were not present at birth. These mutations can result from internal factors, such as exposure to naturally occurring hormones, or external factors, such as environmental tobacco smoke, chemicals, or even sunlight.

In people we know that up to one-third of all tumors are related to environmental and lifestyle factors. In veterinary oncology, we have discovered that nutrition, hormones, viruses, and carcinogens such as smoke, pesticides, UV light, asbestos, waste incinerators, polluted sites, radioactive waste, and canned cat foods can increase the risk of cancer in pets.

Some examples of known causes of cancer in companion animals include:

Increased risk of mammary cancer in un-spayed female dogs and cats:

  • Dogs spayed before experiencing their first heat cycle have a 0.5% chance of developing mammary cancer during their lifetime. This increases to 8% if they are spayed after they have experienced one heat cycle, and 26% if spayed after they have experienced two heat cycles.
  • Cats spayed before six months of age are seven times less likely to develop mammary tumors than cats spayed after six months of age.
  • It is thought that the hormones that are released during heat cycles cause mutations within the mammary tissue, leading to the development of tumors.

There is a possible association between environmental tobacco smoke exposure and development of oral cancer in cats.

  • The hypothesis is that the carcinogens present in cigarette smoke will be passively deposited on the fur of the cats, and when cats groom themselves, they inadvertently ingest these particles, which can lead to tumor development within the oral cavity.

There is an association between Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and development of lymphoma in cats.

  • FeLV and FIV are retroviruses that affect cats, and can cause a variety of clinical signs in infected animals. Many cats that test positive for either virus as kittens may not show any clinical signs for several years. These viruses are known to cause cancers in cats. Cats that test positive for FeLV are 60 times more likely to develop lymphoma than cats that test negative for this virus, and cats that are FIV positive are five times more likely to develop lymphoma. Cats that test positive for both viruses concurrently are 80 times more likely to develop lymphoma.

Studies have shown conflicting information regarding the risk of exposure to herbicides and/or pesticides and the development of cancer in pets. For example, some studies have shown an increased risk for the development of lymphoma, which is a cancer of white blood cells, while other studies have refuted the risk. Because the results are inconclusive I generally recommend that owners should strive to minimize their pets’ exposure to these chemicals and discuss any concerns they may have with their primary care veterinarian.

It is important to remember that it is often difficult to prove “cause and effect” when it comes to cancer. This is true for even well designed research studies designed to look at those exact parameters, so one has to be careful when researching this topic and not over interpret the available information. There are so many potential interactions between genes and environment influences that could lead to the development of a tumor, and ultimately, we may never be able to know exactly what caused the cancer in the first place.

Although I can appreciate why an owner would want to try and understand how it is their pet developed cancer, what I often try to have owners focus on is, now that we have the diagnosis, how we can move forward with a plan to treat it so that we can provide the best possible quality of life for as long as possible for their pet? Keeping the emphasis on the present tense is what allows owners to continue to maintain their wonderful bond with their pets during the duration of their cancer treatment and beyond.

Dr. Joanne Intile writing for PetMD

Article reposted from:
By Michael John Scott