Archive for the ‘Dogs Health’ Category

Skin Tags: Are They Dangerous?

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

With the all knowledge of skin cancer and the dangers of malignant lumps, it’s not surprising that any new or unusual growth on your pet’s skin causes concern. However, skin tags are quite common, particularly in older pets, and are generally nothing to worry about.

What are skin tags ?

Skin tags are the result of excessive growth of skin cells and will be the same color as your pet’s skin. Tags can grow anywhere on your pet’s body including eyelids and ears and are usually found in areas where the skin folds.

Skin tags are soft, fleshy and malleable (unlike warts that are hard) but can be flat, rounded, teardrop or stalk-like in shape. Tags are generally only a few millimeters in length but can grow to the size of a grape. These large tags are more likely to get bumped, pinched or crushed and cause discomfort. Usually once a skin tag is seen, it indicates that others will be present on your pet’s body or will develop.

As mentioned, skin tags are very common, and can form in any breed. The exact causes of skin tags are yet to be determined, it is believed that hereditary, environment, infections, immune system weakness and allergies influence their growth.

Whilst skin tags are harmless and non-cancerous (benign), they are commonly mistaken as skin cancer growths and should always be examined by a vet who my need to perform a biopsy to identify if the growth is malignant.

Most skin tags won’t need removing unless they are causing your pet discomfort, become irritated or infected. Vet’s can easily perform a removal procedure which is non-invasive and quick involving cauterization or freezing. The skin tags will simply fall off after treatment.

It’s important to regularly check your pet’s skin. The sooner you notice any growths or changes, the better the chances of early diagnosis and recovery.

When to see a vet

It’s advisable to consult your vet with any growth to determine whether the growth is a harmless skin tag or more serious. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to the successful prevention of tumors and cancers spreading.

Schedule a consultation with you vet immediately for any of the following:

  • Skin tags that bleed or become infected
  • If there is pain and irritation in the affected area
  • Growths that bleed or resemble wounds and do not heal
  • Dark or black growths, pale or pink growths that are not the color of your pet’s skin
  • Any growths around your pet’s mouth or lips as these can interfere with swallowing or even develop into cancer
  • Any growths or tags that change shape, size, color or appearance

Article reposted from:

Written by: Simone
Image credit

Why is Understanding Cell Health so Important for your Dogs Wellbeing?

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Cells are the fundamental units of life; these small living organisms in your dog’s body are responsible for constant communication, responding to environmental changes, and reacting to signals from your dog. If your dog’s cells are compromised, the function of tissues and organs, which are created and made up of cells, can fail. The physical health of dogs, as well as humans, depends on the health of these trillions of cells that create the organs, tissues, and bones that support the body. Keeping your dog’s cells healthy is keeping your dog’s whole being healthy.

Your dog’s body, as well as your own, is constantly replacing old cells with new ones. Providing material and energy, by what your dog is consuming, is how your dog’s body to able to create these new cells. There are some vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that make up proteins and other cell components, yet cannot be made in the body.

Cell Function

Cells are responsible for a variety of complex functions but there are two very basic processes that are necessary in maintaining health. These two functions are how nutrients enter the cells and how waste materials leave. Cell membranes are largely responsible for this action.

The cell membrane/cell wall encapsulates the cell as a structural boundary that keeps the internal parts secure. It has a semi-permeable filter which allows nutrients to enter and wastes to be disposed of. The membranes are composed of non-water soluble fats. The main function of the fats in the cell membrane is to create shape and maintain stability.

Proteins are also essential to your dog’s cells, helping with communication between cells. Proteins also help cells connect and attach to areas of the body — for example, liver cells stay in the liver by attaching to liver tissue through proteins in the cell membranes. With cancer cells, these proteins are often lacking or not working correctly, which allows the offending cells to move and spread around the body.


Nutrition is extremely important to cellular health. The fats your dog consumes have an effect on his/her cells as the cell membranes are composed of fats. Omega-3 fatty acids, as found in fish and in Elimay Supplements, are necessary for cell structure. Feeding your dog appropriate levels of unsaturated fats, such as Omega-3s, is an easy way to support healthy cell membranes.

Dogs that are fed a commercial diet are less likely to get the appropriate amounts of ‘good fats’ like omega-3s. If your dog is eating a commercial diet, supplementing with omegas is a good idea. Omega supplements should also be added to a nutrient-rich, homemade diet.

Other essential fatty acids, are a group of fatty-acids that are required for maintenance and growth of tissues, as well as overall cell health. These essential nutrients are required, yet cannot be produced by the body. Therefore, they must be obtained from natural food sources. Essential fatty-acids include linoleic acid (omega 6) and linolenic acid (omega-3). Without the right quantity of linoleic acid, your dog may experience health problems such as skin issues, liver and kidney degeneration, heart problems, weakness, and arthritis. Essential fatty acids also reduce inflammation.(1)

Natural sources of linoleic acid (Omega 6) include safflower, sunflower, chicken fat, hempseed, walnuts, evening primrose, almond oil, and borage oil. Linolenic acids (omega 3) are found most commonly in fish oil, as well as in sea buckthorn oil, flax oil, flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans, and wheat germ.

Oxidative damage happens to all cells, every day. But what is oxidative damage and what can be done about it? Free-radicals cause oxidative damage to cells and are normal by-products of metabolism. They can also be produced by cells in response to stress, toxicity and pollution. Free-radicals become a major problem in the body; damaging cells and their function if too many accumulate. Antioxidants from the diet, such as Vitamin C, green tea extract, and trace elements are important in ‘neutralizing’ these free-radicals, keeping cells in tip-top shape. Important sources of antioxidants include fresh fruits and vegetables and Longevity supplements for dogs.

Specific vitamins, such as vitamin E are also critical in cell membrane health. Vitamin E contains antioxidants that can protect both the fats and proteins in your dog’s membranes from damage. Natural sources of vitamin E include walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ oil. There are also vitamin E supplements available.

In short, healthy cells equal a healthy animal. By paying attention to what goes into your dog’s diet, you are directly benefiting your dog’s cells and overall health.


Roudebush, Philip. Fatty Acid Supplementation: Does It Really Work? ACVIM Proceedings. 2006.

About Dr. Deborah Shores

Dr. Deborah Shores is a graduate of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many years of experience working in animal hospitals and clinics from Virginia to South Carolina, treating mainly dogs and cats. She has a special interest in nutrition and holistic veterinary medicine and plans to pursue an acupuncture certificate at the Chi Institute in Florida.

Article reposted from:

Written by: Dr. Deborah Shores, DVM

How to help a pet who has food allergies be healthy and happy

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Just as with people, our four legged friends can suffer from allergies too. There are many types of allergens that can affect your dog. Allergy symptoms that result from repeated consumption of potential allergens are usually referred to as food allergies. Food allergies are most commonly seen in response to the protein source in the food (i.e beef, chicken or lamb). Common clinical sign seen in dogs with food allergies include such things as dermatologic (skin/ear), digestive, or respiratory problems. By understanding and properly managing our pets’ food allergies, we can keep them healthy and happy.


Do know the symptoms of food allergies

Common symptoms of food allergies include such things itching, especially around the face, neck, ears, feet and limbs. Chronic ear and skin infections can also result from food allergies. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms, please consult your veterinarian.

Do know what your pet is allergic to

In most cases, allergies come from the protein source in the food. By doing a food trial, or only feeding a single protein source for a period of time of 1-2 months, you can see how your dog reacts to that single protein source, you can narrow down what your dog is allergic too. This is a trial-and-error process that could take several months and several types of food in order to identify the ingredient(s) to which your dog is allergic.

Do read labels and ingredients for everything your pet consumes

Many types of food will advertise a specific type of meat or protein, but you still need to read all of the ingredients to make sure the allergenic protein(s) aren’t just lower down on the ingredient list. This is especially true of dog treats. Some pet’s medications may also be flavored too.

Do make sure everyone at home is onboard with a special diet and feeding instructions

Many breaks in food allergy control happen when a member of the family gives in to temptation and feeds an allergenic (allergy-causing) food to your dog. Simple things like feeding the wrong table scraps or adding broth or other foods/flavor mix-ins to the pet food can negate any benefit your pet was receiving from being on a special, hypoallergenic diet.

Do work with your veterinarian

Your veterinarian can help you identify the signs of a food allergy to determine if that is what your pet might be suffering from. He or she will work to identify the source of the allergy and to help manage the food allergy symptoms. Your veterinarian will also assist with finding a suitable diet or recommend working with a veterinary nutritionist or dermatologist for more difficult cases. Remember that your veterinarian is there to help.


Do not be in denial

Many people feel that if they are feeding a premium food that their pet cannot be allergic to it. That is not the case, though, since even the best foods on the market may contain proteins to which pets can be allergic. If your dog or cat is allergic to chicken, then even the highest quality, most expensive, organic chicken will induce an allergic reaction in your pet. This is true of home-cooked, raw, and store-bought pet foods.

Do not assume anything

Even though the food label says “hypoallergenic” or advertises the food as being made of a specific protein source, that doesn’t mean the food doesn’t contain a different ingredient that your pet might be allergic to. This is especially true of many over the counter (non-prescription) limited protein source diets that advertise being made of one protein source, even though other protein sources can also be found when reading carefully through food’s ingredient list.

Do not forget about treats, and table scraps and medications

Many problems or break food allergy treatment is by feeding treats and table scraps. Many people are aware that their dog has a food allergy and spend the time, effort and money on an appropriate food, but then forgets about the allergy when it comes times for treats. Certain medications can also be flavored using things like beef or chicken that your dog may be allergic to.

Do not give up

Diet or food trials can take time. In some patients it may take several months to be sure if the diet is appropriate or not. Unfortunately, there are increasing numbers of pet foods on the market that now include ingredients that were once reserved only for allergic dogs. As a result, dogs who do suffer from food allergies are being left with fewer diet options that may benefit them.


Although food allergy represents only a small percentage of allergies that we see in our four legged friends, there are still many pets afflicted with this type of allergy every year. We have come a long way in understanding food allergies in dogs and cats, so if you think your pet is exhibiting the clinical signs of a food allergy, please consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Article reposted from:

Written by: Shelley Skopit, DVM

Photo Credits: Robert Neumann/; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas –

What You Need To Know About Cancer In Dogs

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Warning Signs And Natural Remedies

Who would have thought that cancer would become the leading cause of death in dogs over 10-years old. Cancer simply means that certain cells are reproducing faster than normal. Older cells in the cancerous area are not dying off like they should which is why they can grow so fast. The good news is if it is caught early enough, some can be cured. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help catch it early so a proper treatment can be administered, before it is too late.

Most Common Types Of Cancer In Dogs

The most common kind of cancer include:

  • Malignant lymphoma – tumor of the lymph nodes
  • Skin cancer – mast cell tumors
  • Mammary gland tumors – breast cancer
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Soft tissue sarcomas
  • Bone cancer

Learn The Warning Signs

The warning signs in dogs are quite similar to those in people. You might notice a bump on the skin or a lump. Perhaps a wound is not healing properly or there might be a swelling of some sort such as in the lymph nodes, under the arm or abnormal bleeding. Many times, there are no signs but there might be something about your dog that isn’t quite right. They might become lethargic or just don’t feel well. That is the best time to bring it to the attention of your veterinarian. Watch for any of the following warning signs:

  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • Change in your pet’s elimination habits
  • Difficulty defecating or urinating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargic
  • Any unexplained discharge or bleeding
  • Offensive odor
  • Persistent stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Persistent cough

Cancer rates in dogs and pets in general have increased simply because they are living longer with great care and attention by their owner(s). Years ago, dogs often died from a common illness or hit by a car but today the vaccines are quite effective plus more are living indoors. They are simply living longer. A cancer diagnosis is no longer an automatic death sentence.

Natural Remedies For Cancer In Dogs

If the cancer is found early, it can usually be treated with surgery to remove it and your pet can live a long, healthy life with a little extra attention. If you are an advocate of natural treatments, then most of you will want to avoid steroids, radiation and chemotherapy. These treatments rarely prolong survival, dish up plenty of side effects and can cost thousands of dollars. A calm state of mind and spending time with your pet in nature, can also greatly help the healing process.

If your dog is older and the tumor is growing slowly, it may not require immediate treatment, as long as it is not causing any pain or discomfort. Many times your dog might pass from other age-related issues before cancer becomes a problem for them. Regular exercise can be done on a daily basis that is good for both of you.

The folks at have developed a special diet that contains ingredients that have been proven to slow down the growth rate of cancerous tumors. They point out that it is not the cancer itself that hurts your pet; rather it is the fast rate of growth of the tumor or the side effects of cancer treatments that can kill your dog.

The Cancer-Prevention Diet

The cancer-prevention diet revolves around a high-protein, grain-free meal that is most similar to their wild counterparts. Companies such as Sojos offer grain-free based, dehydrated foods that are convenient and easy to serve up to your dog. For a 60-pound dog, mix together the following:

  • 2 cups of dry Sojos Grain-Free Complete (Beef or Turkey – or you can mix them)
  • 3 cups of water to soak the dry food
  • ¼ pound of ground turkey breast – raw
  • ¼ cup of plain, organic yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of Health From The Sun – Pure Fish Oil
  • ¼ teaspoon of organic green tea
  • 1 Brazil nut – finely chopped

Supplements For Your Dog

  • Yunnan Baiyao
  • Xiao Chai Hu Tang Wan
  • Enzymatic Therapy
  • Milk Thistle
  • Glucosamine/Chondroitin

Dog Breeds Prone To Cancer

Some breeds are more prone to cancer than others. Anytime there is an inbred population, you have no idea what traits have been passed along. For example, Bernese Mountain dogs, Boxers and Golden Retrievers are more prone to cancer. Thought genetics plays a role, we cannot ignore toxins, chemicals and pollutants in the environment.

Cancer Prevention Tactics

  • Like people, it is important to give them a line of defense with a good quality supplement that contains vital antioxidants that can help prevent free radicals (toxins, chemicals and pollutants) from attacking healthy cells in the body.
  • Your veterinarian should examine any lump, mass or tumor for a proper diagnosis and treatment, especially if you notice any changes in the growth or mass.
  • Breast cancer in dogs is highly preventable through spaying the animal. Spaying your animal before their first heat cycle can help prevent them from developing breast cancer later in life.

Article reposted from:
Written by: Dr. David L. Roberts, DVM

Acupuncture can be a great way to treat dog arthritis

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

It happens. We all get older – our dogs included. Do you remember the fun days of puppyhood where they could run for hours playing fetch? Does your dog now struggle to even get to her feet? If you’d like to try a natural approach to treating your dog’s arthritis, or if his pain meds aren’t working as well as they once did, consider giving acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine a try. Read on to learn how to find a qualified acupuncturist and a few things you can do at home to help your aging pup!


Do find a practitioner who is trained in animal acupuncture

In 11 states it is legal for non-veterinarians to treat your pets using acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Some states require that the acupuncturist obtain a referral from the pet’s veterinarian, while others require that the acupuncturist work in the office of a veterinarian under their supervision. Make sure that your acupuncturist is licensed and has been board certified by the American Board of Animal Acupuncture (ABAA). This ensures that the acupuncturist has been trained to safely use acupuncture on animals.

If your state doesn’t allow non-veterinarians to treat pets, make sure that the veterinarian treating your pet has completed acupuncture training through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) or the Chi Society. Remember, you wouldn’t want your general practitioner performing brain surgery on you – and you don’t want someone not fully trained in acupuncture and Chinese medicine sticking needles in your pet!

Do know that acupuncture isn’t a quick fix

Acupuncture is a system that treats the whole animal in order to get to the underlying cause of the disease. Most arthritic pets seem spunkier after 1-4 treatments. Most pets will need to continue to be seen 2-4 times a year for “tune up” treatments to keep the arthritis at bay.

Do ask your veterinarian about switching to a grain-free food

In Chinese medical theory, grains are inflammatory in dogs and cats. Many pets can handle eating foods with grains in them – their bodies are healthy and are able to deal with small amounts of inflammation, but a dog with arthritis is dealing with inflammation in her joints as well. Switching to a grain-free diet can allow the body to focus on the inflammation associated with the arthritis, instead of being distracted by inflammation in the gut.

Do some home acupressure on your pet

There is a system of acupuncture points in your dog’s ears that can treat its whole body! Take the pinna (the flappy part of your dog’s ear) between your thumb and fingers. Have your thumb on the inner, fleshy side and your fingers on the outer, hairy side. Be careful to keep out of your dog’s ear canal, but rub little circles all over the rest of the flappy part! Most dogs (and cats!) love it – it’s like a full body massage!


Do not try acupuncture or herbalism on your own

Your licensed acupuncturist has had over four years of training in acupuncture and Chinese herbalism. If they are board certified with the American Board of Animal Acupuncture, they have had an additional 120 hours of training in Animal Acupuncture. A veterinarian who has taken acupuncture classes has 50-160 hours of training in acupuncture beyond 4 years of veterinary school. Chinese medicine is a complex diagnostic system in which no two cases of arthritis are the same. Your practitioner has been trained to make such a diagnosis, and then treat each patient using acupuncture points and Chinese herbs specific to that patient, based on their Chinese medical diagnosis. An herb that is helpful in one patient can make another patient’s symptoms worse!

Do not worry that your pet won’t sit still

You might be surprised to know that most dogs do lie still and many even fall asleep with their needles in! Dogs love acupuncture! If your dog won’t sit still, know that the biggest effect from the needles occurs when they’re first inserted. If a needle falls out a little early, it’s not a big deal!

Do not give your arthritic dog foods from the nightshade family

Foods in the nightshade family include: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and sweet and hot peppers. This family of foods is very inflammatory and will make arthritis worse. Check your dog’s food label for these ingredients.

Do not be afraid to try acupuncture

There’s a lot of talk out there about acupuncture being nothing more than a placebo. However, dogs respond very quickly to acupuncture (in about half the time that a human patient would!), and yet dogs can’t experience the placebo effect. Acupuncture is simply a tool that the biomedical world doesn’t understand yet. The sooner you get your achy dog into treatment, the sooner you’ll see that spark of life again!

Acupuncture has been around for over 5000 years and Chinese herbalism for even longer than that. Acupuncture is a very effective treatment for arthritis that is safe when performed by a properly trained practitioner. If your dog is suffering from arthritis, give this ancient healing modality a try – they’ll thank you for it!

Article reposted from:

Written by: Becca Seitz
Photo Credits: Steve Collender/; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas –

During Canine Preventive Health month, help your dog live a longer, healthier life

Friday, July 11th, 2014

In honor of Canine Preventive Health month, I wanted to take an opportunity to address one of the most important preventive health measures you can give your dog – having them spayed or neutered.

Dr. Dan Meakin

Spaying a dog before her first heat is the best way to significantly reduce the chance your dog will develop breast cancer, a common condition in female dogs. The risk of malignant mammary tumors in dogs spayed prior to their first heat is 0.05%. It is 8% for dog spayed after one heat, and 26% in dogs spayed after their second heat.

A heat also brings with it the chance for accidents. Dogs in heat have been known to run through glass patio doors, jump out of moving cars, and be hit by cars as they attempt to find a mate.

Not neutering a male can be just as dangerous. There are several different tumor types, both benign and malignant, that arise within the testicles. As with most cancers, these usually are not noted until the animal reaches 5 or more years of age. Therefore, these would not be a problem in those individuals castrated at the recommended age.

A hernia is a protrusion of an organ or parts of an organ or other structure through the wall of a cavity that normally contains it. Perennial hernias occur when the colon, urinary bladder, prostrate, or fat protrude from the abdominal cavity, through the muscular wall by the anus and then lie just under the skin. This type of hernia is far more common in older, un-neutered male dogs. The levels of testosterone and other hormones appear to relax or weaken the group of muscles near the anus. When the animal then strains to defecate or urinate, the weakened muscles break down and the abdominal organs and fat bulge out under the skin. In shorthaired breeds, the owner notes this large bulge almost immediately, but in the longhaired dogs, the problem may go on for months before anyone realizes there is an abnormality. Left untreated, these organs may become damaged, unable to function or even die from loss of blood supply. Additionally, because of the displacement of organs into this area, the animal may not be able to defecate or urinate correctly or completely and may become constipated or have urinary incontinence (dribble urine).

There are some myths that say that spaying and neutering a dog causes them to gain weight. Spaying and neutering does change the metabolism of companion animals, so in most cases, they do not need as much food to maintain their weight as un-spayed/un-neutered dogs. The problem is not with the dog – it is us. We just tend to overfeed our dogs, and neutered/spayed dogs are more apt to put on weight because of that.

As for laziness, again, the amount of exercise our dogs receive and their activity levels are often dependent on us. If we do not give them opportunities for play and exercise, they can become couch potatoes just like some people. Many spayed/neutered dogs hunt, are entered in agility shows, become service dogs, and are trained in search and rescue. These dogs are anything but lazy.

Although there is always a risk when an anesthetic is used, advances in modern anesthesia and medical techniques have made spay and neuter surgeries very safe with minimal risk. Surgery is performed painlessly while your pet is under general anesthesia, and postsurgical pain is minimal. Most pets go home the same day that surgery is performed.

Article reposted from:

Written by: Dan Meakin

Second hand smoke kills pets

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Ten years ago, Shirley Worthington rushed Tigger to the vet when the dog’s mouth started bleeding. When she was told he had cancer, she knew to blame her heavy smoking, an addiction she couldn’t kick until after her pet died.

Secondhand smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer in dogs, malignant lymphoma in cats and allergy and respiratory problems in both animals, according to studies done at Tufts University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts, Colorado State University and other schools.

Secondhand smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer in dogs, malignant lymphoma in cats and allergy and respiratory problems in both animals

The number of pets that die each year from tobacco exposure isn’t available, but vets know from lab tests and office visits that inhaling smoke causes allergic reactions, inflammation and nasal and pulmonary cancers in pets, said Dr. Kerri Marshall, the chief veterinary officer for Trupanion pet insurance.

Despite Worthington’s certainty about the cause of her dog’s death, more research needs to be done before veterinarians can definitively say whether a dog’s cancer was caused by secondhand smoke or something else, said Dr. Liz Rozanski, whose research at Tufts College focuses on respiratory function in small animals.

Worthington, 52, of Brooklyn, New York, said she had been a smoker as long as she had Tigger, who was 8 when he died in 2004. A year later, Worthington, her mom and sister all quit in honour of the bichon frise.

Then, in 2007, Worthington’s mom died while suffering from cancer.

“Cigarettes took my mother,” she said. “And they took my dog.”

Pets aren’t mentioned in this year’s surgeon general’s report, but in 2006, it said secondhand smoke puts animals at risk. The Legacy Foundation, the nation’s largest non-profit public health charity, encouraged smokers to quit for the sake of their pets, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals urged making homes with pets smoke-free.

It’s even more important to safeguard cats, which are more susceptible to tobacco smoke than dogs.

Lymphoma is one of the leading causes of feline death. The Tufts research showed that repeated exposure to smoke doubled a cat’s chances of getting the cancer and living with a smoker for more than five years increased the risk fourfold. It can also cause a fatal mouth cancer.

Tobacco companies acknowledge the risks of smoking in people but haven’t taken the same stance with dogs and cats. Philip Morris USA says on its website that it believes cigarettes cause diseases and aggravates others in non-smokers and that the problems warrant warnings.

But “we haven’t taken a stand on the potential impact on pets,” said David Sylvia, a spokesman for Altria Group Inc., the parent company of Philip Morris.

Symptoms of cancer in animals include coughing, trouble eating or breathing, drooling, weight loss, vomiting, nasal discharge, bleeding and sneezing. Cancer kills more dogs and cats than any other disease, according to Denver-based Morris Animal Foundation, which has been funding pet cancer research since 1962.

In addition, the recent surge in the use of electronic cigarettes has raised questions about their impact on pets. The greatest danger is the trash, where dogs can find nicotine cartridges from e-cigarettes, said Rozanski, the Tufts veterinarian.

“You wouldn’t think dogs would eat such things, but they do,” she said.

Story reposted from:–cigarettes-took-my-mother-and-they-took-my-dog-second-hand-smoke-kills-pets

Written by: Sue Manning

The Serious Benefits of Play

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life – and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog’s daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.

Incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.

The benefits of play

Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:

  • Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog’s heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
  • Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
  • Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
  • Bonding. Even if it’s only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
  • Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It’s a win-win for both of you.
  • How to play with your dog
  • There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you’re the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.
  • When you’re teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don’t have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.
  • When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.

Playtime tips

  • Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
  • Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you’re the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
  • Don’t include your body or clothing as part of any game.
  • Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
  • You decide when it’s time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
  • If, for some reason, your dog doesn’t seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don’t get angry if you’re dog isn’t “getting it” right away. Remember it’s supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!

Article reposted from:

The Cancer Diet for Dogs

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Cancer. It’s about the scariest word a pet owner can hear.

There are many different types of cancers. Some cancers will have tumors and others are cancers of the blood that do not have visible growths. Not all tumors are malignant; some are benign and are simply a tumor that can be surgically removed and your dog will recover fully. Other types of cancer are more insidious and cannot easily be treated. Fortunately, there are now treatment options for most canine cancers and those treatments are improving all the time. Thirty years ago, we never would have considered that a dog could survive a cancer diagnosis. Now, we are faced with the challenges of supporting a dog both during and after treatment.

As a dog owner, one vital thing you can do is to feed a diet (homemade or commercial) that will provide your dog with the nutritional weapons needed to fight the cancer. The research on exactly what should be fed and what supplements work best is still being conducted, however, we can give some guidelines on what foods may be helpful for dogs fighting cancer.

Feeding the Dog with Cancer

Many dogs with cancer are affected by cancer cachexia. Cachexia is a metabolic condition during which the dog experiences weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, and impaired immune function.

Cancer cachexia has three phases. In the first phase, there are nonvisible, biochemical changes in the dog’s body. In the second phase, there are clinical signs (weight loss, anorexia, etc.), and in the third phase, there is a severe loss of body fat and muscle mass, which results in debilitating lethargy. Cachexia is a huge challenge in treating dogs with cancer because in some cases it is actually the cause of death, not the cancer itself. Cancer cachexia causes a change in the way the dog’s body metabolises carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These changes result in poor use of energy by the dog, and increased energy use by the cancer.


Tumor cells get their energy from glucose in the bloodstream of the dog. The tumor metabolizes this glucose for energy and it creates lactate as a by-product. The dog’s body must then convert this excess lactate back into glucose. Unfortunately, this is not an efficient system, so the dog ends up using more energy than it is making. Simple carbohydrates (like pasta or bread) are the source of glucose that the tumor uses. In order to minimize the energy available to the tumor, it is important to limit and carefully select carbohydrate sources so that we feed the dog and not the tumor. Look for foods with a low glycemic index. Lower-glucose carbohydrates include fruit (i.e., apples, berries, bananas), honey, peas, oatmeal, and brown rice.


Both the dog and the tumor need protein. As the dog’s body tries to meet its need for protein, the tumor will attempt to meet its need for protein, as well. This results in a decrease in the amount of protein that is available for maintaining muscle mass in the dog and an increase in protein being made by the liver. This protein deficit leads to muscle wasting, poor immunity, and delayed wound healing. To ensure the dog has enough building blocks to make muscle and other proteins, we need to feed a food with a high percentage of the calories coming from good-quality protein.


Much of the weight loss in dogs with cancer cachexia is from a loss of body fat. Dogs with cachexia have a reduced appetite and so they don’t eat as much. There are changes in the dog’s metabolism that cause a decrease in the production of new fat, consequently their body will start to use up the fat stores. The loss of fat stores is a poor prognosis for any animal with cancer. Fat stores allow the body to survive short term fasts when the dog is not feeling well. Adding the right types of fat, such as omega fatty acids, to the diet can help prevent cancer.

Supplements A walk down the supplement aisle in your local pet store will probably leave you feeling a bit bewildered. There are a lot of choices out there, and many make promises that seem too good to be true. Unfortunately, there are no supplements that will cure cancer but there has been research into some which may help limit tumor growth.

Omega fatty acids (PUFA’s)

A number of studies have demonstrated that the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) may prevent the growth and development of some tumors and may help to prevent cancer cachexia. They also improve the immune system. These fatty acids are found in fish oils.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been shown experimentally to inhibit cell growth, promote cell death, and cause cell differentiation. These are all important in the prevention of cancer. Vitamin D has been shown to prevent colorectal neoplasia (unwanted cell growth). There is less clear data to show that Vitamin D is effective against all cancer types, but it does have potential. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and it is possible to feed too much and cause a toxic effect. Dogs should not get more than 10,000 IU per kilogram of food.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

CLA is a naturally occurring fat found in dairy products such as butter and full-fat milk or cream. It has been shown in rodent studies to help prevent cancer growth. Supplementation in one dog with mammary cancer (breast cancer) has shown promising results; however, it has not been widely used in dogs.

Green tea

Green tea polyphenols such as EGCG have been shown to have an anticancer effect. Many studies have shown that EGCG may enhance the body’s ability to prevent cancer. It has the ability to cause cancer cell suicide (apoptosis). The two main challenges that we have with EGCG is that it has a very short half-life in the body so you have to drink a lot of it, and it doesn’t work in all animals or people. There are no studies showing the effect of EGCG in dogs with cancer. However, most scientists agree that it is unlikely to cause harm and it may help.

The best dose of green tea for dogs is unknown. Studies have shown that a dose of 2000mg/kg (i.e., 60g/day for a Labrador) of EGCG was lethal in rats. In other studies with dogs, a dose of 500 mg EGCG preparation/kg was given to dogs after a meal in a divided dose caused no adverse reactions. This same dose caused the dogs to be sick when it was administered to fasted dogs as a single bolus dose. So the maximum dose you should feed your dog is 500mg/kg and it should be fed on a full stomach. An important note about EGCG is that it can interfere with some chemotherapy drugs, so discuss using this with your veterinarian before you feed it to your dog undergoing cancer treatment.

How to Pick a Food for your Dog with Cancer

When choosing a food for your dog with cancer, you want to pick something that is highly palatable and has lots of kcal/cup of food. A sick dog doesn’t need to eat as much in order to meet its energy needs. Look for a diet where 30-50 percent of the calories come from a good quality protein source, 50-60 percent of the calories come from fat, and the rest of the calories come from carbohydrates. There are commercially prepared foods available for dogs on cancer treatment but you will need to ask your veterinarian to order them for you.

You may also want to add some supplements to your dog’s diet. It is important to discuss these with the vet who is treating your dog’s cancer to ensure there aren’t any interactions with any of the medications or treatments. Your dog may also need a few more calories than they normally do, so keep a careful eye on their weight.

Preventing Cancer

There is no way to prevent cancer entirely, but one of the risk factors that you can control is your dog’s weight. Multiple studies have shown that dogs that are obese have an increased risk of developing cancer. Aim to keep your dog at a body condition score of 2.5/5 or 4.5/9. Keeping your dog’s paws out of the cookie jar and keeping him or her fit can help them to lead a longer, healthier life.

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Written by: Elizabeth Pask and Laura Scott

Heat-related illness is a serious summertime concern for dogs

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Written by: Dr. Timothy Hackett

On a typical summer day, temperatures easily top 90 degrees F in much of the country, and it likely feels much hotter for many dogs. In fact, heat-related illness is one of the most common preventable causes of multiple-organ failure in dogs.

Consider a few basics about canine physiology: Unlike humans, dogs don’t sweat to regulate body temperature; panting is the main mechanism for evaporative cooling of the body. A dog’s long nose also helps to cool air and regulate temperature.

But heat easily overpowers these functions, especially if a dog is sick, is older and less able to effectively regulate body temperature, has a heavy coat, or is flat-faced, called brachycephalic. Moreover, dogs rarely resist a chance to hike, run, fetch and play – even if this exercise leads to overheating.

Put together, these factors mean pet owners must be attuned to the hazards of heat for their dogs and take steps to avoid heat-related illness.

Heat-related risks came into sharp focus in late June, when 20 dogs died at a boarding kennel near Phoenix after the facility’s air-conditioning reportedly malfunctioned.

In northern Colorado, Animal Protection & Control officers respond to about five calls every summer day from people worried about the welfare of dogs left in hot cars, according to the Larimer Humane Society. Leaving a dog in a hot car – even for a short time – is classified in the city of Fort Collins, Colo., as animal neglect and is subject to a fine of $250.

Why the concern? Temperatures spike quickly in parked cars, even in the shade and even with windows rolled down. If it’s 90 degrees F outside, the temperature inside a car will jump to about 110 degrees F in just 10 minutes and will continue to rise from there, research shows. That’s killer heat for a dog.

A dog’s normal body temperature hovers around 101 degrees F, and a dog’s core temperature may approach 110 degrees F or higher if it is left in a hot car. Serious symptoms of heat-related illness typically develop when a dog’s body temperature rises above 108 degrees F.

At that point, thermal injury to cells can literally cook proteins, inactivate enzymes, destroy cell membranes and damage the cells’ ability to generate energy. This can lead to organ failure and death.

In the past decade, 36 dogs were treated at CSU’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital for heat-related illness after being removed from hot cars. One-third of these dogs died from their injuries.

Yet heat-related illness much more commonly results from exercising dogs until they are overheated. This occurs in poorly acclimatized dogs and those having a harder time dissipating heat. The result often is a condition called laryngeal paralysis – and in the past 10 years, the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital has treated 519 cases of laryngeal paralysis.

Laryngeal paralysis occurs when the larynx, or voice box, fails to properly open for airflow, making it difficult for a dog to pant effectively. It is marked by loud wheezing when a dog breathes and is a common ailment of older dogs.

Here are factors that predispose dogs to serious heat-related illness as environmental temperatures rise:

Age: Nerves and muscles that control the larynx become less effective as a dog ages, worsening the problem of restricted airflow from overexertion and heat.

Illness: Dogs with seizure disorders, heart disease and other chronic diseases that affect the heart, lungs and airways often have impaired temperature control and are more prone to heat-related illness.

Obesity: Dogs with more insulation retain more heat.

Brachycephalic breed: Dogs such as bulldogs, boxers, pugs and Boston terriers have short noses that inhibit cooling.

Heavy coats: Dogs with long hair coats are less able to regulate body temperature.

Drugs: Some medications affect circulation and an animal’s normal ability to dissipate heat.

Prior heatstroke and poor acclimatization to heat, humidity and exercise also can predispose animals to heat-related illness.

Remember that dogs age faster than people – so your 7-year-old golden retriever might not cope with a summertime hike or run as easily as you might think, even if he acts eager to go.

Make sure to ask your veterinarian about the risks of heat-related illness, and specifically about your dog’s ability to handle heavy exercise.

Other steps for avoiding heat-related illness:

  • Provide your dog with shade and water, and keep your dog indoors on hot summer days.
  • Never leave your dog in a hot car.
  • Take your dog to the vet if it is panting frantically, wheezing, or displaying any other worrisome symptoms on a hot day.
  • If you think your dog is overheated, do not immerse him in water or an ice bath. An overheated dog has impaired temperature regulation, and can quickly overcool and become hypothermic.

Dr. Timothy Hackett is director of Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. He is a specialist in veterinary emergency and critical care.

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