DOG ARTICLES

Dog Articles

Canines add so much joy and richness to our lives. We wanted to help our valued clients to truly bring out the best in their furry companions by providing an extensive list of dog-related articles. This library features a wealth of canine topics, from health tips to behavior and training to ways to help your dog enjoy a lifetime of fun and happiness. Please feel free to browse through. We hope this article collection becomes a valuable resource.

Aggression 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 800,000 people seek medical treatment for dog-bite wounds each year.  Half of them are children.  Since dogs are man’s best friend, this statistic begs the question, “What causes the dogs implicated in these attacks to become aggressive in the first place?  Is the aggressive tendency an avoidable trait that is bred into these individuals or is it conditioned behavior?  Are dogs a product of their environment...

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Aggression 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 800,000 people seek medical treatment for dog-bite wounds each year.  Half of them are children.  Since dogs are man’s best friend, this statistic begs the question, “What causes the dogs implicated in these attacks to become aggressive in the first place?  Is the aggressive tendency an avoidable trait that is bred into these individuals or is it conditioned behavior?  Are dogs a product of their environment or are some of them just born to bite?  Can we prevent canine aggression?  And, what can be done to rehabilitate an already aggressive dog?”

Dogs have been domesticated by man for thousands of years.  The canines we describe here are not feral dog descendants.  It is obvious that a wild canine such as a wolf, coyote, dingo, or a jackal would not make for a good house pet.  The domestic dog comes into the world seeking human companionship.  Still, they are animals and their ancient instincts are strong.  When we do not nurture the human-dog bond, they revert to those instincts that are not acceptable in our homes.  Thus, our dogs are products of the environment that we control.

That said there are characteristics of certain breeds of dogs (and the predominant lineage of a mixed breed) that lend themselves toward aggressive behavior when mishandled.  These traits are actually the inherent instincts of feral canines that we have bred into our dogs for particular purposes, such as herding livestock and hunting game.  Eye contact with prey is a favorable dominant quality of shepherd dogs and pointers.  However, eye contact from a small child may be interpreted as a challenge to an un-socialized dog and may provoke the dog to establish its dominance.  Therefore, certain qualities may cause a dog to be more prone to aggression than others.

The bottom line is that we can predict most aggression, and avoid it, if we are paying attention to the needs and unspoken language of our canine companions.  When choosing a dog for our family, we should select a breed with an energy level that is compatible with our own.  A working breed such as a border collie needs a lot of activity to avoid inappropriate behaviors caused by boredom.  Obedience training is mandatory for all dogs.  In fact, training helps the dog to be confident because boundaries and rules are established.  Insecurity and anxiety comes when the dog has no idea what we expect from it.  Everyone in the house must participate in training.  Being pack animals, dogs have a need to know where they fit in the hierarchy of the house.  A child should not be perceived as subordinate to the dog.  Furthermore, we must teach our children to respect the dog as well.  Even the most docile animal has a pain threshold.  On the other hand, if a child is especially apprehensive about a dog, it can trigger anxiety in the pet and lead to fear biting.  Small children should never be left alone with any dog.

Spaying and neutering not only prevents unwanted litters of puppies, it also reduces aggressive tendencies.  Hormones are powerful signals to become territorial, possessive, and dominant.  The dog should also be taught to allow treatment of sensitive areas before any illness occurs.  While a puppy, the feet should be handled, the coat brushed, and the ears cleaned.  This will desensitize the pet and gain its trust that it need not be defensive.  The puppy should always relinquish food.  Many bites occur when a dog is guarding food. This instinct keeps wild canines from starving when the pack competes for a meal.

At the first sign of any aggressive behavior, professional help should be sought.  Aggression is amplified over time.  Every time a situation occurs, it reinforces the inappropriate response.  A canine behaviorist can give an unbiased opinion to help an owner see what is going wrong.  Many problems stem from the fact that our human nature causes us to see the dog’s actions as human emotions.  We misinterpret signals that are uniquely canine.  Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

Thousands of dogs are euthanized for aggression.  Yet more are allowed to become aggressive despite this tragedy.  Public education is key to preventing the unnecessary destruction of man’s best friends.

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Allergies

Allergies are a major cause of skin disease, discomfort and distress in dogs. Pruritus, or intense itching, is the most characteristic sign of allergies. This itching is caused by the release of histamines from mast cells located throughout the body. Hair loss, redness and skin infections may result secondary to the allergy. Over time, the hair coat may become stained from excessive...

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Allergies

Allergies are a major cause of skin disease, discomfort and distress in dogs. Pruritus, or intense itching, is the most characteristic sign of allergies. This itching is caused by the release of histamines from mast cells located throughout the body. Hair loss, redness and skin infections may result secondary to the allergy. Over time, the hair coat may become stained from excessive licking and the skin may become dark and thickened. Ear infections may also result from allergic conditions. The two most common types of allergic conditions exhibited by dogs are those of inhalant allergies and food allergies.

The treatment of allergies can be achieved by using three methods: removal of the allergen source, suppression of the itch with antihistamines or corticosteroids, and desensitization of the immune system to the specific allergens affecting the pet. The removal of the offending substance is appropriate if the allergen source is a food item, flea saliva, or something that is easy to remove from the environment. Elimination of certain diets and food trials are often implemented if food allergies are suspected. If flea bites are the problem, it will be necessary to eliminate fleas on the dog. Your veterinarian will suggest the appropriate flea treatment for your dog. Many allergens, however, are difficult or impossible to remove, such as pollen in the air or dust in the home.

The use of antihistamines or corticosteroids is the second method. Antihistamines act by reducing the release of histamine by the mast cells and are often very effective in controlling allergy symptoms. Corticosteroids act in many ways to suppress the allergic reaction before and after the allergy develops. Steroids are very effective, but must be used with caution. If used excessively, adverse effects can be seen. Because of the often-extensive self-trauma associated with allergic conditions, antibiotics or antifungal agents are often administered to control the secondary infections that are frequently present.

A newer treatment option for allergic pets that do not respond well or cannot tolerate steroids is available.  Cyclosporin (Atopica) is an immuno-modulating drug that can significantly reduce symptoms.  It is FDA approved for this purpose, and appears to be safe.  It is common however, that pets will vomit the drug during the first week of treatment.  Vomiting usually subsides, but some patients are not able to take cyclosporine orally.

The final treatment option is the process of desensitizing the patient over time. This desensitization process begins by identifying the allergens that the dog is sensitive to through specialized intra-dermal tests or blood evaluation. Once the allergens are identified, specialized mixtures of these substances are combined into an injectable form that is given at regular intervals. With time, the dogs immune system response to these allergens diminishes and many dog owners note measurable improvement in their pets.

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Arthritis

Most people are familiar with arthritis and understand that it is caused by an inflammation of the joints. This is a disease that is more common in our dogs than in cats. Larger breed dogs or dogs that are overweight are at a higher risk for developing arthritis. There are multiple forms of arthritis including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and infective or septic arthritis. We...

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Arthritis

Most people are familiar with arthritis and understand that it is caused by an inflammation of the joints. This is a disease that is more common in our dogs than in cats. Larger breed dogs or dogs that are overweight are at a higher risk for developing arthritis. There are multiple forms of arthritis including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and infective or septic arthritis. We will briefly discuss these forms and inform you on what you can do to help prevent or control arthritis in your pet.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of this disease. It occurs most frequently in the hips, knees, shoulders, elbows or vertebral column and can be classified as either primary with no known cause or secondary to another condition. Secondary osteoarthritis can develop in pets that have hip dysplasia, a ligament rupture or other trauma to their bones and joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is initiated by your pet’s immune system. This can be a very debilitating form of arthritis that causes severe cartilage and bone deterioration. Blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis have been successful in some breeds of dog. Infective or septic related arthritis is caused by the invasion of a bacteria, fungi or virus to the effected joint. This form of the disease typically affects only a single joint.

Several symptoms can indicate that our pet may be experiencing the effects of arthritis. If your pet develops lameness, an unwillingness to walk or exercise or has difficulty rising from a resting position, this may be indicative of arthritis. Loss of appetite, lethargy and other symptoms may also be noticed. It is important that you notify your veterinarian if any of these symptoms develop. Before diagnosing arthritis, your veterinarian will likely eliminate other conditions, such as ligament tears, nerve damage, disc disease and others. X-Rays are often necessary when ruling out other conditions.

Fortunately, there are several forms of treatment for arthritis. Osteoarthritis is typically treated with analgesic drugs. Prior to being placed on these drugs, your dog may need a blood test to establish baseline results for his liver and kidney functions. Your veterinarian will likely perform a follow-up blood test every six to twelve months that your dog remains on these drugs. Rheumatoid and other immune mediated arthritis are often successfully treated with corticosteroids. Infective or septic arthritis are normally treated with specific antibiotics.

There are many steps that you can take as a pet owner to help avoid the development of arthritis in your dog. Obesity is the leading cause of arthritis in our pets and can be prevented with regular exercise and a well balanced diet as recommended by your veterinarian. Dietary supplements that promote joint health, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, can be added to your pet’s food. Ask your veterinarian if this supplement is right for your dog. These preventive measures can even help pets that have already developed arthritis. Obese dogs with arthritis that lose weight and are moderately exercised may improve or at least control the symptoms of their arthritis.

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Biting Behavior in Puppies

Congratulations on bringing home your new puppy! A new puppy can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, along with the fun, often come some challenges for the new owners. One such challenge is a puppy that nips and bites. With the positive tips outlined below, training your puppy on proper social behavior can be a rewarding experience for both the new puppy...

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Biting Behavior in Puppies

Congratulations on bringing home your new puppy! A new puppy can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, along with the fun, often come some challenges for the new owners. One such challenge is a puppy that nips and bites. With the positive tips outlined below, training your puppy on proper social behavior can be a rewarding experience for both the new puppy and its owners.

Puppies are very social creatures. As young pups they are learning to play, interact and socialize with other members of their family. When the puppy was with its siblings, part of these social interactions were rough and tumble play sessions. However, during this time, the other pups would normally teach your puppy to inhibit the strength of its bite by giving a quick yelp and leaving the play session if things got too rough. Now that the puppy has left its siblings and moved in to join your family, he may not have this natural feedback about his behavior.

As the puppys new playmate, it is your job to teach him the proper social skills. This teaching includes instructing him on what behaviors are acceptable. Even though it is cute, it is important not to allow your new puppy to chew or mouth on any part of your body without reprimand. If this behavior is allowed when your puppy is young, it will think that this behavior is acceptable. However, when the pup gets older its bite will become stronger and the habit will be hard to break. Instead, each time the puppy nips, bites or mouths on your hand, say a quick no, ouch or emit a yip sound. At the same time, immediately withdraw from the play behavior or leave the room. It is important that the puppy associate the command with the nip and immediate loss of play. These actions tell the puppy that its behavior was unacceptable. In order to minimize confusion for your puppy it is important that all family members give this consistent feedback to the puppy.

If your puppy continues to play bite, it may be necessary to employ other means to teach him to inhibit his bite. Some other methods use remote punishment or leashes to accomplish this task. Remote punishment includes shaker cans, water bottles, air horns, citronella collars and other methods. These items are not associated with the punisher, yet they frighten and/or startle the puppy when he exhibits the unwanted behavior. Once the remote punishment is associated with the play biting, the puppy will learn to play gently in order not to be sprayed or startled. Another method to manage your pups biting behavior is to use a leash and head halter. If the pup begins to play bite inappropriately, a firm, gentle tug on the leash will discourage him from the behavior. It is important to remember that physical punishment is discouraged when trying to teach your puppy to play nicely. Typically, an attempt at physical punishment, such as pushing the puppy away, grabbing his muzzle, or swatting at him, will be seen as play behaviors and will only aggravate the situation.

When training your puppy, remember that learning proper social skills is an important part of your puppys development. It is your job as the puppys new owner to train and encourage him. Training takes time and practice, but with patience and diligence your puppy will soon know the proper way to inhibit his bite and play appropriately.

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Bladder Infections (UTI) in Dogs

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are very common in our canine companions.  They are just as miserable and uncomfortable to them as they are to us.  The urinary tract includes the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys.  Bacteria ascend through the urethra and into these normally sterile areas inside the body.  These infections can be very ...

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Bladder Infections (UTI) in Dogs

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are very common in our canine companions.  They are just as miserable and uncomfortable to them as they are to us.  The urinary tract includes the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys.  Bacteria ascend through the urethra and into these normally sterile areas inside the body.  These infections can be very persistent.

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include increased water consumption and frequency of urination, voiding small amounts and straining, accidents in the house, leaking urine during sleep, strong smelling or atypically colored urine, and incessant licking at the prepuce or vulva.  Difficulty in housebreaking a puppy can also be a sign of a UTI.

When a UTI is suspected, a urine sample is collected by the veterinarian in order to perform a urinalysis (UA).  Care should be taken to avoid contaminating the sample with artifact.  The “cleanest” method of collection is called a cystocentesis – passing a very fine needle through the abdominal wall directly into the bladder.  Less ideal methods are passing a urinary catheter and collecting a voided sample, since contaminate may be introduced from outside of the body.

The urine sample is analyzed for blood, inflammatory cells, bacteria, and crystals.  A specific gravity measures urine dilution caused by increased water consumption or kidney dysfunction.  A reagent dipstick tests for nitrite (bacterial metabolite), pH, glucose (to screen for diabetes), and bilirubin (produced by the liver).  A portion of the sample is centrifuged to separate solids from the urine such as cells, casts of the renal (kidney) tubules, bacteria, and crystals.  This material is called urine sediment.

The urine may be sent to a reference laboratory for a culture and sensitivity (C&S).  The sample is incubated in a special agar or broth, a food medium to grow bacteria.  When bacterial growth is present, the organisms are isolated and tested to determine their species.  Then they are exposed to a battery of antibiotics on a susceptibility disc.  This information will tell the doctor which antibiotic to prescribe and what dose will be effective.  Also, the C&S will give some idea as to how the infection will respond to treatment.

Abdominal x-rays are taken to check for the presence of bladder and kidney stones, especially if crystals are found in the urine sediment.  If bladder stones are discovered, they must be removed or dissolved if possible.  The stones will harbor bacteria and make resolution of the infection impossible.  X-rays can also reveal a congenital defect in the bladder wall called a persistent urachus.  This is a remnant of the tube that connected the bladder to the umbilicus before birth.  It can also harbor bacteria and make the infection persist despite antibiotic therapy.

When your veterinarian prescribes an antibiotic for your dog’s urinary tract infection, is critical to give it as instructed.  Antibiotic resistance is a real problem in UTI.  Also, the urinalysis should be repeated at the end of the treatment period to gauge the response to the antibiotic.  If time lapses between treatment and rechecking, the infection may recur, causing the need to repeat diagnostics.

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Bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus)

Bloat, GDV, and Gastric Torsion all refer to a life threatening condition that afflicts mainly deep-chested dogs like Great Danes, Dobermans, and Weimaraners.  It can very rarely occur in smaller breeds.  One-quarter to one third of dogs will not survive GDV despite treatment.  As well as breed predilection, genetics and feeding habits play a role in which dogs will develop GDV. The emergency occurs when gas can not escape the stomach, and it becomes overly distended.  The normal contractions in the stomach wall cease, and the entire organ rotates in the abdomen.  Since each end of the stomach is stationary, the blood supply...

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Bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus)

Bloat, GDV, and Gastric Torsion all refer to a life threatening condition that afflicts mainly deep-chested dogs like Great Danes, Dobermans, and Weimaraners.  It can very rarely occur in smaller breeds.  One-quarter to one third of dogs will not survive GDV despite treatment.  As well as breed predilection, genetics and feeding habits play a role in which dogs will develop GDV. The emergency occurs when gas can not escape the stomach, and it becomes overly distended.  The normal contractions in the stomach wall cease, and the entire organ rotates in the abdomen.  Since each end of the stomach is stationary, the blood supply is cut off by the twisting or torsing effect.  The tissue quickly loses viability as it is starved for oxygen.  As the stomach enlarges, it puts pressure on the diaphragm causing respiratory distress.  Cardiac output may also be reduced by restriction of the abdominal arteries.  Shock quickly ensues, followed by death if not immediately managed.

Factors that may contribute to the onset of GDV include over-eating or ravenous eating, once a day feeding, and exuberant activity after a meal. Older males are more likely to develop GDV than other dogs.

Dogs with GDV will have a distended painful abdomen and may be retching, hyper-salivating, gasping for breath, or comatose.  An x-ray can help to visualize the gas that is trapped in the stomach, but symptoms and predilection are usually diagnostic.  Shock should be treated with rapid IV fluid replacement and oxygen supplementation.  Comatose dogs will be intubated to provide artificial respirations if necessary.  A stomach tube will be passed in an attempt to deflate the stomach and restore blood circulation.  Medical treatment of heart rhythm abnormalities, electrolyte imbalance, and sepsis is performed as required.  Surgical repair of damaged stomach tissue and gastropexy, tacking the stomach to the abdominal wall, is performed as soon as the patient is stable enough for anesthesia.

Complications after surgery include relapse of all symptoms, cardiac arrhythmias, necrosis (death of tissue) and perforation of damaged organs, and peritonitis (sepsis of the abdominal cavity).  The prognosis of any GDV patient depends on how soon the animal receives treatment and the extent of damage to the tissues involved.  Follow up therapy will include antibiotics to prevent infection, IV fluids until the dog can eat normally, and pain control.

GDV is a serious emergency that requires immediate medical attention.  If you suspect your dog is experiencing gastric bloat, it is always better to err on the side of caution and seek veterinary advice.

 

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Airline Travel with Your Dog

Family vacations can become a whole new experience if the family dog is included in the excursion. However, for destinations requiring airline travel, it is essential to know some of the basic tips for working with the airlines in order to ensure a safe and rewarding travel experience for your family pet. As each airline varies in their specific requirements and regulations, please be sure to inquire with your specific airline of choice about their regulations well before arriving at the airport. Proper planning can make your travel experience with the family dog...

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Airline Travel with Your Dog

Family vacations can become a whole new experience if the family dog is included in the excursion. However, for destinations requiring airline travel, it is essential to know some of the basic tips for working with the airlines in order to ensure a safe and rewarding travel experience for your family pet. As each airline varies in their specific requirements and regulations, please be sure to inquire with your specific airline of choice about their regulations well before arriving at the airport. Proper planning can make your travel experience with the family dog an even more rewarding one. Call ahead and make sure that your arranged lodging allows pets and what their policies are for maid service and if you may leave your pet in its carrier if you should need to step out. Check to make sure that your pet’s identification tags are up to date and include not only your name, address and telephone number, but also the address and contact information for your destination. It is also a good idea to call ahead and locate the information for local animal control offices in case your pet gets lost during your vacation.

In order to ensure that your pet has a safe and comfortable travel experience, it is essential to select an appropriate travel carrier. Your pet should also be introduced and comfortable with the carrier well before the day of the trip. The exact carrier you select will vary based on the airline, your pet and your personal style preference. However, some basic guidelines are:

  • The crate should be airline approved.

  • The crate should be large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around comfortably.

  • The walls of the crate should be strong enough to prevent crushing.

  • The walls of the crate should also be waterproof in order to prevent urine leakage and water spills. An absorbable “puppy pad” on the bottom of the crate will also assist with leakage and make your pet more comfortable.

  • At least three sides of the crate must provide ventilation.

  • Sturdy and easily accessible handles must be present.

  • An attached water tray with access from the outside is also required.

Basic Tips for Airline Travel with Your Dog

  • Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian well in advance of your travel date. This appointment will allow your vet to clear your dog for travel and gather any of the necessary paperwork required by the airlines or your travel destination.

  • Determine ahead of time if your pet will be traveling in the passenger section of the aircraft with you or in the baggage compartment. Some airlines will allow one pet per passenger to travel in an approved carrier in coach or first class.

  • Schedule a direct flight, if possible, and avoid layovers and connections. This pre-planning will minimize the possibility of delays and chance that your pet will be exposed to inclimate weather.

  • Schedule your flight for slower travel times and days so that airline personnel will have time to give extra attention to your pet.

  • If your pet will be traveling as cargo, avoid traveling during times of the year when the temperature outside will be below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Inquire if the airlines will be hand carrying your pet to the cargo hold or if he will be placed on a conveyer belt. If possible, use airlines that hand carry your pet or have other safety and care practices in place.

  • Check the airlines baggage liability limitation policy. This policy may apply to your pet and it may be beneficial to purchase additional insurance.

  • Make sure that identification labels are prominently and visibly displayed on your pet’s carrier. These labels should include not only your name and contact information, but also your flight number, destination and destination contact information.

  • Feed your dog at least six hours before the flight and do not offer food again until you have arrived at your destination.

  • However, water should be offered frequently before and after the flight and should be available in the crate during the flight as well.

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Anal Glands

Many domestic dogs experience irritation and discomfort with their anal sacs. This condition, though relatively simple, can lead the pet and even the pet owner, through misery. In this handout, we will try to explore exactly what anal glands are and how they cause problems for our dogs. We will also look at the symptoms of full anal glands and also how your veterinarian can help with solutions to this annoying...

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Anal Glands

Many domestic dogs experience irritation and discomfort with their anal sacs. This condition, though relatively simple, can lead the pet and even the pet owner, through misery. In this handout, we will try to explore exactly what anal glands are and how they cause problems for our dogs. We will also look at the symptoms of full anal glands and also how your veterinarian can help with solutions to this annoying problem.

Let’s begin with the anatomy of an anal gland. Dogs have anal glands positioned on either side of the anus, just below the surface. These glands, sometimes called anal sacs, produce a thick brown liquid, with a very foul odor. When functioning normally, these sacs will express their contents onto the feces with each bowel movement. This secretion on the feces is believed to serve as a means of marking territory. Dogs will commonly use urine and feces to scent mark. A dog will often sniff another dog’s feces, probably with the purpose of identifying who has been in their yard or in their territory.

This unique system for marking territory does not always function properly. Occasionally, the small ducts which drain the anal sacs become clogged with this thick secretion. When this occurs, the anal gland becomes enlarged and uncomfortable. Dogs will attempt to relieve this discomfort by scooting their rear quarters across the ground or by biting and chewing at that area. Scooting has often been misinterpreted to mean a dog has worms. Though this may be true in some cases, more often than not, it is associated with full anal glands. When you notice these symptoms occurring, especially if they have persisted for several days, it is important to seek medical assistance for your pet.

Your veterinarian or the trained veterinary staff will be able to assist your pet in releasing the accumulated pressure in these glands. This is most often performed through a quick procedure of gently squeezing the gland while performing an internal rectal exam. Expressing these glands will release the smelly contents of the anal sacs. Though efforts are made to clean and refresh the area, you may elect to bathe your pet after this procedure. Your groomer may also be trained to perform an anal gland expression and may do this routinely during your pet’s grooming.

Your veterinarian will assess your dog’s condition to determine if other treatment is necessary. Occasionally, anal glands become infected and will need much more aggressive treatment. This can be as severe as a draining abscess through the surrounding skin. After a thorough evaluation, your veterinarian will determine the best treatment for your dog, which sometimes includes a surgical procedure to clear up any infections.

In closing, you may be wondering if there is a way to avoid your pet’s problem with anal glands. Though no one understands why some dogs are more effected than others, early attention to symptoms will certainly eliminate some of the more serious complications, such as infection. Those pets that suffer from chronic problems with their anal glands may benefit from an elective surgery that removes both anal glands. This delicate operation is not for every dog, but your veterinarian can help you decide if your dog may be a good candidate for this procedure. As you understand this problem a little more clearly, hopefully you will be able to utilize this information for your dog’s health and happiness.

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Barking Behavior

Barking is a natural reaction to stimuli. However, excessive barking can cause problems for some pet owners. Those individuals who live in close proximity to their neighbors, who need quiet or become frustrated with prolonged barking spurts may benefit from the tips below. These tips include information on understanding why your dog barks, how to minimize the stimuli and how to...

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Barking Behavior

Barking is a natural reaction to stimuli. However, excessive barking can cause problems for some pet owners. Those individuals who live in close proximity to their neighbors, who need quiet or become frustrated with prolonged barking spurts may benefit from the tips below. These tips include information on understanding why your dog barks, how to minimize the stimuli and how to train your pet not to bark.

When determining how to train your dog not to bark, it is important to find the underlying cause of the noise. Barking is a normal occurrence in a dogs life. It is a form of communication and warning to other members of its pack or family. Therefore, some dogs vocalize to signal various meanings to other dogs. There are, however, many other reasons for your pet to bark. For instance, some dogs bark out of anxiety and insecurity, frustration from being confined, boredom, as an attention seeking mechanism or to indicate a medical problem. It is important that as a puppy, your pet is properly socialized. Early positive introductions to many different people, places, noises and stimuli will prevent your pet from barking out of anxiety or fear later in life.

Unwanted barking can be prevented by determining the underlying cause, eliminating or minimizing those factors and training your pet for appropriate behaviors. When determining the underlying cause of your pets unwanted barking, analyze the times of day your pet barks, determine external stimuli that promote barking episodes and review your actions for accidental reinforcement of the behavior. Look for a pattern or link that will allow you to successfully re-train your pets behavior.

Once you have determined a pattern to your pets behavior, try to eliminate the stimuli that cause barking. If your pet barks out of separation anxiety, then perhaps crating your pet to provide a smaller, more secure environment would be beneficial. Be sure to follow proper crate training techniques so that the crate will be viewed by your pet as a safe haven and not as a punishment. If your pet barks out of boredom, try to increase positive stimuli such as exercise, interaction and new toys. Be sure to review your own behavior when your pet barks. Some owners accidentally reinforce their pets unwanted behavior by trying to distract their pets while barking with treats or toys. These actions only reinforce that barking brings good things from the owner. Also, check your body language and noise level in response to your pets barking. An aggressive, loud response from you to his barking may only aggravate the issue and lead to more barking.

If excessive barking still occurs, even after eliminating the stimuli, it may be necessary to use different training techniques to quite your pet. Some animals can be trained to respond to a quiet command. When training your pet to obey a quiet command, it is important to remember that your pet must associate the command with an action. Therefore, in order to train quiet, it may also be necessary to train your pet to speak or bark on command. Begin by finding a stimuli that will illicit a bark from your pet. Each time your pet barks, give the speak command and a treat reward. Once the animal has mastered this command, add the quiet command after the bark, when the animal is silent. Be sure to reward your pet lavishly with both praise and a treat reward. Once your pet has mastered these new tricks, begin to practice them in different scenarios that may have previously caused uncontrollable barking. For example, if the doorbell would normally elicit a barking episode, practice the commands after ringing the doorbell. With practice, your pet will learn to be quiet on command.

Training your pet to a quiet command is very useful when you are present. However, if your pet tends to exhibit its excessive barking behavior when you are not present, then you may need to utilize a remote anti-barking device. These devices range from water sprayers and collars with citronella sprays to audible alarms that activate each time the animal barks. Each of these items do not injure your pet, but most pets find them unpleasant. Your pet will soon associate the unwanted barking with the unpleasant noise, water or spray and cease or limit its barking behavior.

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Bladder Cancer – Transitional Cell Carcinoma

The most common form of bladder cancer in dogs is a Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC). It is a tumor made up of the epithelial cells that line the bladder wall. It commonly develops in the trigone area (the base of the bladder where the urethra originates), making surgical removal very difficult or impossible. As the cancer grows and invades a greater portion of the bladder wall, it may physically...

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Bladder Cancer – Transitional Cell Carcinoma

The most common form of bladder cancer in dogs is a Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC). It is a tumor made up of the epithelial cells that line the bladder wall. It commonly develops in the trigone area (the base of the bladder where the urethra originates), making surgical removal very difficult or impossible. As the cancer grows and invades a greater portion of the bladder wall, it may physically obstruct urine flow or cause the tissue to become less elastic. Straining to urinate, dysuria (pain), hematuria (bloody urine), and increased frequency of urination are the most common symptoms. Although tumors of the urinary tract are relatively uncommon in dogs, transitional cell carcinomas account for more than 75% of bladder related cancer.

As with many cancers, the specific cause of transitional cell carcinoma is speculative or unknown. Environmental carcinogens, as well as a genetic predisposition to bladder cancer, are likely factors. TCC is more likely to occur in female and obese dogs. The average age of dogs diagnosed with TCC is between 9 and 11 years. Any breed can be affected; however, Scottish terriers (Scotties), West Highland Terriers (Westies), Shetland sheepdogs (Shelties), Eskimo dogs, and Dachshunds appear to have breed predilections.

Many transitional cell tumors will exfoliate (shed cells easily) a large number of malignant cells in the urine. These may be visible under the microscope in the urine sediment, a part of the urinalysis. The presence of inflammation in the bladder can cause normal transitional cells to resemble malignant cells so it can be difficult to differentiate inflammation in the bladder from malignancy. There can be many other causes of symptoms that are similar to those of bladder cancer; therefore, conditions such as bladder and kidney stones, kidney disease, and urinary tract infections must be ruled out. Generally, a complete chemistry panel, blood count, abdominal x-ray, and urine culture are performed along with a urinalysis as a diagnostic workup for symptomatic dogs. To aid diagnosis, a contrast medium may be injected into the bladder that will help outline the bladder wall on an x-ray. Ultrasound can also be a useful diagnostic tool. An obvious mass in the trigone area of the bladder is very suspicious for transitional cell carcinoma.

Surgery to remove bladder cancer is seldom effective or even possible due to the invasiveness of this type of tumor. If the mass is consolidated and does not affect the sphincter muscle of the bladder or the ureters (the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder), surgery may be attempted. In a few cases, complete excision (surgical removal) may be curative. Transitional Cell Carcinomas tend to be fairly aggressive, spreading to regional lymph nodes and other organs in the body.

Chemotherapy (drug treatment for cancer) is recommended for dogs whether surgery is an option or not. Peroxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that may be useful in slowing the progression of TCC tumors. The mechanism by which this medication acts on TCC is unclear. Since all NSAIDs can cause stomach ulceration, Peroxicam may be combined with antacids or misoprostol (Cytotec), a drug that protects the gastric mucosal lining, to avoid potential side effects. Misoprostol should not be handled by pregnant women. Mitoxantrone is another chemotherapy drug that is combined with Peroxicam. This combination is favored by many oncologists to improve survival times.

A consultation with an oncologist is always recommended for TCC patients. This type of cancer should be treated swiftly and aggressively in order to achieve the best quality of life for the greatest length of time.

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Bladder Stones

The occurrence of bladder stones is not uncommon in our canine friends and can lead to serious discomfort and even secondary problems if not treated. These stones are rock-like minerals that form in your dogs urinary bladder. There can be several small gravel-sized stones or large single stones in the bladder. In this handout, we will discuss the symptoms, treatment, and prevention ...

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Bladder Stones

The occurrence of bladder stones is not uncommon in our canine friends and can lead to serious discomfort and even secondary problems if not treated. These stones are rock-like minerals that form in your dogs urinary bladder. There can be several small gravel-sized stones or large single stones in the bladder. In this handout, we will discuss the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of bladder stones in dogs.

It is normally not difficult to detect that your dog is experiencing discomfort related to their urinary tract. The two most common signs of bladder stones are hematuria and dysuria. The former symptom involved the presence of blood in your dogs urine while dysuria is a term to describe when your dog is straining to urinate. If you notice that your dog is having difficulty urinating, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian. If possible, try to collect a fresh urine sample in a clean plastic cup to bring with you to the veterinary practice. Although these symptoms are good indicators, dogs with bladder infections (without stones) can exhibit hematuria and dysuria.

The build up of bladder stones can lead to serious pain and your pet may even cry out when trying to urinate. It is important to catch this condition early, so that surgery or secondary infections can be avoided and additional stones will not form. Your veterinarian will want to perform a laboratory evaluation of your dogs urine and will also palpate the urinary bladder to see if stones can be felt. In many cases, your veterinarian may want to take x-rays or ultrasound your dog to search for bladder stones.

If it is determined that your pet has bladder stones, your veterinarian will recommend the appropriate treatment. In serious cases where larger stones are involved, or stones that are unlikely to dissolve with other therapies, surgery may be necessary. Removing bladder stones involves opening the abdomen and urinary bladder and it will take your dog several days to recover. Certain types of bladder stones can be dissolved with special prescription diets and your veterinarian will notify you if this is an option. If diet therapy is chosen, it is very important that you follow the exact diet regiment as outlined by the veterinary staff. It can take several weeks to months to fully dissolve bladder stones and your veterinarian will want to follow-up with your dogs treatment until the stones are eliminated.

Once you have eliminated your dogs bladder stones, there are steps that can be taken to prevent future occurrence. Maintaining your dog on a special diet may be indicated and your veterinarian may want to perform follow-up urinalysis, x-rays or ultrasound to detect recurrence. Non invasive investigation and careful monitoring can detect this problem early helping to avoid surgery!

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Brachycephalic Dogs / Brachycephalic Syndrome

The term brachycephalic literally means short-headed.  In dogs, brachycephalic breeds are easily identified with their pushed in noses and bulging eyes.  Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and Shih Tzus are included in this group.  As cute as they are, their unique anatomy makes them susceptible to certain serious problems of which...

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Brachycephalic Dogs / Brachycephalic Syndrome

The term brachycephalic literally means short-headed.  In dogs, brachycephalic breeds are easily identified with their pushed in noses and bulging eyes.  Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and Shih Tzus are included in this group.  As cute as they are, their unique anatomy makes them susceptible to certain serious problems of which their owners need to be aware.

Brachycephalism causes a dog to have a normally sized lower jaw with a compressed upper jaw and sinus.  The nostrils are constricted, and the length of the nose is shortened overall.  The tongue and soft palate are not reduced in size however, and this effect reduces the capacity of the upper airway.  Most brachycephalic dogs snort and snore.  A collar can further restrict the airway especially when pulling on a leash; therefore, these dogs should be fitted for a harness instead.

Respiratory problems are very common with these breeds, and they are much more susceptible to heat exhaustion and stroke than non-brachycephalic dogs.  A combination of stenotic nares and tracheas (constricted nostrils and windpipes) and soft palate enlongation (too much soft tissue in the back of the throat) significantly impairs the animal’s ability to move air in and out of the lungs.  The condition is referred to as Brachycephalic Airway Obstructive Syndrome.  Dogs do not sweat.  Instead, they cool themselves by increasing their respirations.  Brachycephalics have a difficult time cooling off in heat and humidity, and extra precaution should be taken when these dogs are outdoors during warmer months.

Surgical techniques to improve respiratory function in severely affected dogs may be necessary.  Opening of the nostrils is called a nares resection.  Surgery on the palate is called a soft palate resection.  These are indicated when breathing is especially compromised and quality of life is reduced.  The improvement after surgery depends on the degree of airway obstruction and the amount of tissue that can successfully be removed.

Obesity is a complicating factor in Brachycephalic Syndrome.  Just as excess weight burdens the airway in all breeds, the problem is worse in pug-nosed dogs.  A weight loss program should be started to improve respiratory function.

Chronic airway obstruction can lead to heart disease.  Heart muscle enlargement is common at an earlier age in brachycephalic breeds because of their respiratory problems.  Steps to correct airway obstruction including surgery and weight loss can significantly delay the progression of heart failure.

Other problems associated with brachycephalism involve the eyes and teeth.  The bulging eyes are more susceptible to injury, and most of these dogs have reduced tear production or an inability to keep the lubricating tears in the eye.  Persistent wetness of the fur around the eyes means that the tears are flowing off of the globe of the eye at an accelerated rate.  Keratoconjunctivitis (KCS, or dry eye) is very common in brachycephalic breeds.  The eye socket itself is very shallow in these dogs, and it is possible that the entire globe can pop out of the socket  with even minor injury to the face and head.  This will require emergency surgery to preserve the eye and restore vision.

Even with their smaller mouths, brachycephalic dogs still have 42 teeth.  Overcrowding in the mouth makes them more prone to periodontal disease (of the teeth and gums).  Food debris is trapped more easily which becomes food for infection.  Routine brushing, dental examinations, and prophylactic cleanings are especially important for these dogs.

It is important to be aware of the unique problems that brachycephalic dogs can have.  Discuss these concerns with your veterinarian to minimize the likelihood that your dog will succumb to these serious risks.

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Cancer

Cancer is the leading cause of death in senior dogs. As we already know, this is a very serious disease that can affect virtually all areas of your dog’s body. However, the spread of cancer is more rapid when certain areas of the body are reached, such as the lungs or liver. There are too many forms of cancer to discuss in this handout; so instead, we will discuss various signs that you...

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Cancer

Cancer is the leading cause of death in senior dogs. As we already know, this is a very serious disease that can affect virtually all areas of your dog’s body. However, the spread of cancer is more rapid when certain areas of the body are reached, such as the lungs or liver. There are too many forms of cancer to discuss in this handout; so instead, we will discuss various signs that you can be mindful of and the available veterinary options.

There are many symptoms to watch for that might indicate your pet has developed a cancer. It is important to realize that many of these symptoms can be related to several other illnesses, so do not assume your dog has cancer until he has been officially diagnosed by a veterinarian. Unexplained weight loss, abdominal distention, respiratory distress, difficulty swallowing, changes in bowel consistency (diarrhea or constipation), blood or mucous in the stool, unusual bleeding or discharge, lameness, growths that can be felt through your pet’s skin and any areas of skin discoloration should be reported to your veterinarian. Remember that these symptoms are merely indicators that you should bring your dog to see the veterinarian.

Unfortunately, there are no blood tests to determine whether or not cancer is present in our dogs. Therefore, acquiring a sample of the tumor through biopsy is often necessary and this sample is normally sent off to a specialized pathologist for microscopic examination. Many cancers can be cured if caught early enough and if the lump is small enough to surgically remove. Even after a lump is removed, your veterinarian may wish to send the sample to a pathologist to ensure that the margins of the growth are cancer free.

If your dog is diagnosed with cancer, many of the same treatment options available to humans are also available for pets. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for pets is offered at most veterinary specialty practices in major metropolitan areas. Your veterinarian will be able to share more information about these treatment options with you. It is important to understand that these therapies are costly and some forms of cancer are more easily treated than others. If chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy are not an option, your dog can be treated symptomatically, and depending on how aggressive the cancer is, your dog may be able to live for several months to years. Other medications and therapeutic options will be outlined by your veterinarian.

There are steps that can be taken to avoid cancers. Having your pet spayed or neutered will drastically decrease the chances of various reproductive cancers. Feeding your dog a high quality diet and keeping him at a healthy weight will also help to prevent certain cancers. Obesity is a major cause of many cancers in pets. It is impossible to prevent all cancers and genetics also play a role in this disease. If you have any additional questions about a specific cancer or are concerned about your dog, please do not hesitate to discuss this with your veterinarian.

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Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

Cognitive function deteriorates as the brain ages, and dogs are not immune to this problem.  While mild behavioral changes are easily overlooked as “normal” old dog issues, advanced senility can be very stressful for the pet and the pet owner.  Canine Cognitive Dysfunction can be manifested as inappropriate elimination in the house, disorientation, changes in sleep patterns, loss of interest in food and...

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Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

Cognitive function deteriorates as the brain ages, and dogs are not immune to this problem.  While mild behavioral changes are easily overlooked as “normal” old dog issues, advanced senility can be very stressful for the pet and the pet owner.  Canine Cognitive Dysfunction can be manifested as inappropriate elimination in the house, disorientation, changes in sleep patterns, loss of interest in food and play, vocalizing, and even failure to recognize family members.  It is important to recognize these changes as symptoms of disease instead of misbehaviors.  Discipline is unwarranted and will only serve to further confuse and frustrate the dog.

One cause of canine cognitive dysfunction is thought to be a depletion of dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter vital to normal brain function.  While the reasons that dopamine levels diminish with age are not completely understood, medications that increase dopamine or extend its activity are known to decrease the symptoms of senility in both animals and people.

One drug that has shown some promise in dogs is called Selegiline or L-Deprenyl (Anipryl).  This medication prolongs the activity of dopamine in the brain by inhibiting the enzymatic function of monoamine oxidase (MAO).  MAO is responsible for metabolizing dopamine.  In addition, Selegiline has shown to be neuro-protective by reducing the damage to cellular DNA caused by free radicals, or oxidizers.  About 75% of dogs will show some improvement in cognitive ability after one month of Selegiline, although significant improvement in one specific symptom may not be adequate to justify its continued use.  All MAO Inhibitors have significant and potentially dangerous drug interactions; therefore some geriatric dogs already on (or needing to be prescribed) other medications for concurrent health problems may not be able to take Selegiline.

Diet may be another place to look for help with canine cognitive dysfunction.  Diets formulated for improved brain function contain increased levels of antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids.  In feeding studies, dogs fed these formulas performed better at cognitive assessment tests than dogs fed a placebo diet.  The results will be very gradual over several weeks.

It is shown in people, and may translate to dogs, that if you don’t use it – you lose it.  Mental exercises may help to delay the progression of senility.  Dogs are never too old to learn new tricks.  Adding hand signals to commands may help a dog with hearing loss to understand, and the mental activity can improve overall cognitive abilities.  A stimulating environment is essential to keeping the mind sharp.

The symptoms of senility are easy confused with the symptoms of serious metabolic disease common in older dogs.  For example, inappropriate urination may have multiple causes.  A thorough health exam, blood chemistry profile, and urinalysis can quickly rule out a kidney problem or bladder infection.  These tests will be needed before starting any new medication specifically for cognitive dysfunction.  Our tendency is to associate a dog’s behavior with human behavior.  Jumping to this conclusion may overlook the likelihood that there is a physiological change occurring in our older pet.

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Canine Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a glandular organ that lies along the base of the stomach and the entrance into the small intestine (the duodenum).  Its function is to produce digestive enzymes and insulin.  The enzymes produced by the pancreas are only activated when released into the duodenum through the pancreatic duct.  In the case of pancreatitis (inflammation), the enzymes may become...

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Canine Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a glandular organ that lies along the base of the stomach and the entrance into the small intestine (the duodenum).  Its function is to produce digestive enzymes and insulin.  The enzymes produced by the pancreas are only activated when released into the duodenum through the pancreatic duct.  In the case of pancreatitis (inflammation), the enzymes may become activated while inside the organ causing “digestion” of the delicate tissues therein.  This is a very painful condition and is certainly life-threatening.  Vomiting is the most common symptom of pancreatitis; however, in sub-acute or chronic cases it may or may not occur.  Pancreatitis may be triggered by the recent ingestion of a high fat meal; it may be associated with medications or parasitic infection of the organ; and certain dog breeds are predisposed to this disease.  Pancreatitis must be treated swiftly and aggressively, then managed and prevented in the long term to prevent relapse.

Miniature Schnauzers are the poster-children of pancreatitis.  Any breed can succumb to the disease, but Schnauzers are more likely to develop refractory (non-responsive) and chronic illness.  Diabetic dogs are also predisposed to pancreatitis; and, if a large portion of the pancreas which produces insulin is damaged during an episode, diabetes mellitus can occur secondarily.  Furthermore, certain drugs and chemotherapy agents can increase a dog’s susceptibility to pancreatitis.  In many acute cases, there is a history of the dog consuming a large portion of fat from brisket trimmings, a ham bone, or other table scraps.

Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, a painful abdomen, inappetence (disinterest in food), and fever.  A diagnosis is confirmed with a physical examination, blood count and chemistry profile, abdominal radiograph (x-ray) or ultrasound, and a Specific Canine Pancreatic Lipase (spec cPL) Test.  Lipase is the elevated enzyme associated with pancreatitis, but it has many origins in the body; therefore, the spec cPL is the only reliable blood test for pancreatic lipase.  Amylase is another enzyme that may be elevated during illness, but it is not specific for pancreatitis.  The liver is commonly inflamed secondarily, and its leakage enzymes may be elevated on a chemistry profile as well.  Radiography and abdominal ultrasound are used to rule out masses (cancer) that may be the underlying cause of disease.

Pancreatitis may be acute or chronic.  There is no specific cure for the disease.  Acute cases are treated supportively with intravenous (IV) fluids and electrolytes, injectable antibiotics, anti-emetic drugs for nausea, and pain medications.  It is widely known that pain slows recovery by suppressing the immune response, so pain management is an important part of treatment.  In chronic cases (sometimes called a smoldering pancreatitis), and after an acute episode is resolved, the dog will be prescribed a special fat-restricted diet.  Some other foods including treats, and especially table scraps, can trigger a relapse.

The prognosis for pancreatitis depends upon the initial trigger of inflammation, the severity of illness, how quickly treatment is instituted, and the dog’s predilection for chronic pancreatic disease.  Any vomiting dog should be screened for this potentially life-threatening condition.

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Chocolate Poisoning

Like people, most pet dogs find chocolate highly palatable. Unfortunately, chocolate contains stimulants that are toxic in high doses. Small dogs are at highest risk, since a relatively small amount of chocolate may contain more stimulant than they can...

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Chocolate Poisoning

Like people, most pet dogs find chocolate highly palatable. Unfortunately, chocolate contains stimulants that are toxic in high doses. Small dogs are at highest risk, since a relatively small amount of chocolate may contain more stimulant than they can handle.

How Chocolate is Harmful
Chocolate contains theobromine, a powerful stimulant related to theophylline (a respiratory medication) and caffeine. Chocolate also contains caffeine, but in much smaller quantities. Dark, unsweetened, and bakers chocolate have the highest concentration of theobromine. Milk chocolate, white chocolate, and confections that contain small amount of cocoa (such as cakes, cookies, and chocolate-coated candies) also contain the stimulant in lower levels.

Theobromine stimulates the central nervous system and the heart, increases blood pressure, and causes digestive upset. Signs of chocolate toxicity include excitement, agitation, or nervousness, thirst, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe poisoning can result in loss of coordination, seizures, coma and death.

Diagnosis of Chocolate Poisoning
If you know that your dog has consumed chocolate, tell your veterinarian the quantity and the type of chocolate. The amount required to be toxic depends on the type of chocolate and the size of the dog. If your dog has consumed a dangerous amount, prompt treatment can reduce the likelihood of serious illness. Unfortunately, dogs sometimes get into chocolate and other poisons without their owners knowing. This can make accurate diagnosis much more difficult.

Treatment
If your pet can get to the veterinarian within 4-8 hours of eating the chocolate, it may be possible to prevent absorption of the toxin into the bloodstream. Emetics cause vomiting, which is removing the chocolate from the body when administered within four hours of exposure. A special absorbent medicine containing charcoal can be given up to eight hours after exposure. The charcoal binds to the chocolate in the intestine, preventing it from being absorbed and allowing it to be excreted in the feces. There is no specific antidote for theobromine, but animals that have already absorbed the toxin can benefit from IV fluids, heart medications, and anti-seizure drugs.

Preventing Chocolate Toxicity
Be sure to keep chocolate and all other potential poisons well out of reach of pets. Remember that unsweetened bakers chocolate is the most hazardous. Even though one or two M&Ms are not likely to be deadly, avoid the habit of feeding any amount of chocolate to your dog.

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Canine Brucellosis

Brucellosis is a contagious bacterial infection that causes late-term fetal abortion in female dogs and infertility in males. It is also of particular importance because of its zoonotic potential; it may be possible, albeit rare, for humans to become infected through direct contact or inhalation of bodily fluids from carrier animals. Several species of the bacterial genus...

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Canine Brucellosis

Brucellosis is a contagious bacterial infection that causes late-term fetal abortion in female dogs and infertility in males. It is also of particular importance because of its zoonotic potential; it may be possible, albeit rare, for humans to become infected through direct contact or inhalation of bodily fluids from carrier animals. Several species of the bacterial genus Brucella cause disease in livestock animals. Brucella canis is the most common species found in dogs.

B. canis is most often transmitted from one dog to another during breeding; but the organism may be present in all bodily fluids, so any contact between dogs may spread the bacteria. Some dogs can become chronic carriers capable of spreading the organism for years. Puppies can become infected in the womb and during nursing, although most will not be born live. The bacteria do not survive well in the environment outside of the host however, and are susceptible to common disinfectants.

Female dogs with Brucellosis may exhibit few other symptoms of disease except an inability to conceive or spontaneous fetal abortion. Males may become infertile and have testicular swelling followed by atrophy. In advanced cases, both sexes may experience lethargy, back pain, paralysis of the rear limbs, eye inflammation, and enlargement of the spleen and lymph nodes.

It is easy to screen for Brucellosis with an in-clinic rapid slide agglutination test (RSAT). On the other hand, B. Canis may be difficult and expensive to treat once a dog becomes infected. If a positive RSAT result is discovered, a diagnosis is usually confirmed with a Brucellaantibody titer or antigen test run in a reference laboratory. This is due to the high sensitivity, yet low specificity (occasional incidence of false positives) of the in-clinic test kit; false negative tests are very rare. All dogs should be screened for B. canis prior to intentional breeding to prevent the spread of this disease.

Brucellosis is very difficult to treat and completely eliminate from infected animals due to the bacteria’s wide-spread tissue distribution. Combinations of broad-spectrum antibiotics may be prescribed and neutering / spaying may help to prevent transmission, but chronic cases can continue to spread the bacteria despite treatment. Relapse / recurrences are very common, and diagnosed animals should not be used for breeding even after treatment regardless of subsequent test status.

Breeding and boarding kennels are excellent reservoirs for Brucellosis. All new dogs entering a breeding facility should be screened before exposing other animals. Quarantine and retesting in one month is recommended. Boarding kennels should not allow direct contact between dogs unless they are tested, and the kennel should be adequately ventilated to prevent airborne exposure. Dogs kept near livestock should be considered at an increased risk for Brucellosis as well.

Brucella species have been shown to infect humans on rare occasions. People with compromised immune systems and pregnant women are especially susceptible.

There is currently no vaccine available to protect dogs (or humans) from becoming infected by B. canis. Diligent screening and isolation of positive animals is the only method to eradicate this disease from dog populations. Proper disinfection of exposed kennels, equipment, and bedding should be instituted after a positive dog is discovered.

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Canine Influenza (Dog Flu)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, ““Dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by a specific Type A influenza virus referred to as a “canine influenza virus.” This is a disease of dogs, not of humans.”” It originated in horses before mutating into a form that infects and spreads between dogs.  Dog flu is not...

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Canine Influenza (Dog Flu)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, ““Dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by a specific Type A influenza virus referred to as a “canine influenza virus.” This is a disease of dogs, not of humans.”” It originated in horses before mutating into a form that infects and spreads between dogs.  Dog flu is not related to either the swine or avian flu that has had so much media attention lately.

First discovered as a cause of severe respiratory illness in a group of racing greyhounds in 2004, dog flu continues to be a threat to primarily groups of dogs held in close quarters, such as in breeding facilities, shelters, pet stores, et cetera.  Symptoms are similar to, but sometimes more severe than “kennel cough” caused by the Bordetella organism.  They include fever, an unproductive dry cough, loss of appetite, and exercise intolerance or lethargy.  For dogs with pre-existing heart and lung disease, dog flu can be devastating. Developing secondary bacterial pneumonia is the most serious consequence of this illness; in which case, canine influenza can be fatal.

Overall, the mortality rate of dog flu is very low (less than 1%).  Although the disease is extremely contagious, around half of all dogs may test positive for antibodies to the virus without ever exhibiting any clinical symptoms.  Despite these good odds, it is recommended that any symptomatic dog be given veterinary attention and supportive treatment.  Secondary bacterial infection can quickly overwhelm the dog, causing extremely high fever, shock, and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (a bleeding disorder whereby the blood’s clotting ability is interrupted, and the pet may bleed to death internally).  It is easy to head off these serious problems when simple supportive therapies are instituted early in the progression of the illness.  Specific treatments for complicated flu cases include intravenous fluid and electrolyte replacement, diuretic drugs that remove fluid from the lungs, and broad spectrum antibiotics.  Uncomplicated cases may require only a cough suppressant to reduce tracheal inflammation that may lead to bacterial infection, or they may resolve on their own without additional treatment.  Your veterinarian will institute treatment as indicated by the dog’s condition.

Antibody tests are available to confirm canine influenza by taking comparative blood levels during the active stage of the disease and 2 to 3 weeks afterward.  Also, DNA testing called a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test can be performed on a sample of respiratory secretions during the illness phase.  This is the most sensitive and accurate test, but may be relatively expensive and not widely available.

Fortunately, there is a canine influenza vaccine available.  It would not be included in most dogs’ annual core vaccine regimen; but, for high-risk animals it may be warranted.  Dogs should receive one vaccine, followed by a second dose 2 to 4 weeks later.  Ideally, they should receive the vaccine series at least one week before entering a high-risk environment, such as the shelter or boarding facility.  Your veterinarian can help determine whether the canine influenza vaccine is appropriate for your pet.

The vaccine does not prevent the dog from getting dog flu, but it will significantly shorten the duration of symptoms if the virus is contracted.  It will reduce the symptoms and may help prevent the disease from spreading by reducing the amount of viral shedding.

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Caring for Your Dog’s Teeth

We all know how important good dental hygiene is for our own health, but many dog owners are unaware that this is true for their pets too. Dental disease is one of the most common preventable illnesses in pets, affecting more than 75% of dogs and cats over three years of age. Infections of the teeth and gums can cause pain, loose teeth, and damage to internal organs...

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Caring for Your Dog’s Teeth

We all know how important good dental hygiene is for our own health, but many dog owners are unaware that this is true for their pets too. Dental disease is one of the most common preventable illnesses in pets, affecting more than 75% of dogs and cats over three years of age. Infections of the teeth and gums can cause pain, loose teeth, and damage to internal organs like the kidneys and heart. All of this can be avoided by practicing proper dental care techniques.

Dental Disease in Dogs
The term dental disease includes a variety of ailments. The most common of these is periodontitis. Plaque, a soft mixture of bacteria, food, and saliva accumulates on your dogs teeth, especially near the gums. The plaque hardens to become tartar. The plaque and tartar irritate the tissues around the tooth and its root. This starts out as gingivitis (reddened gums). Infections and abscesses develop around the tooth, resulting in bad breath, bleeding, pain, and tooth loss. Infected, bleeding gums allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body, damaging the kidneys and heart.

Injuries of the teeth and gums, such as broken teeth, are also common in dogs. This is especially true of dogs that chew on hard objects, such as rocks, cow hooves, bones, and fences. Injured or bleeding teeth require immediate veterinary care.

Dental Examinations
Each time your dog has a routine physical examination, your veterinarian will check his teeth and gums. He is looking for buildup of plaque or tartar, reddened gums (gingivitis), bleeding, broken teeth, and other problems. Your dog should receive a dental exam at least once or twice a year. If you notice problems like breath odor, drooling, or difficulty eating, he should be examined right away. The sooner that dental disease is identified and treated, the better the outcome.

Tooth Brushing
Teaching your dog to accept daily dental care is surprisingly easy. The key is to start slowly and make the experience as pleasant as possible. Place a small amount of the liquid from a can of water-packed tuna on your finger and allow him to lick it off. Repeat, this time holding his mouth closed and stroking the outside surfaces of his teeth lightly.

Eventually, over a period of one or more weeks, you can substitute a piece of gauze, a finger toothbrush, or a small, soft toothbrush instead of your finger. Remember, unless your veterinarian directs you otherwise, you only need to clean the outside tooth surfaces. This reduces the chance of a painful bite! Once your dog comfortably accepts the brushing process, you can introduce toothpastes designed for pets in place of the tuna water.

The most important aspect of tooth brushing is the mechanical action, but toothpastes can add helpful ingredients like fluoride, enzymes that help break down plaque, and antiseptics that prevent bacterial growth. They are flavored to please your dogs palate too. Never use toothpaste designed for humans the ingredients may irritate your dogs mouth and cause an upset stomach.

Plaque begins to develop within hours after brushing. Within about three days, plaque is converted into tartar. Therefore, daily brushing is recommended. Less frequent brushing is still beneficial, but may allow the gradual development of periodontitis. A daily brushing routine not only keeps your pets mouth healthy but also keeps his breath smelling fresh.

Professional Care
Most dogs require professional dental cleanings and periodontal care periodically. If your veterinarian detects signs of gingivitis or tartar accumulation during the dental exam, he will recommend a professional cleaning in order to halt the progress of periodontal disease.

Your dog will receive anesthesia for the dental cleaning. All surfaces of the tooth will be carefully cleaned, even below the gum line. The teeth will be polished to discourage deposition of new plaque. Fluoride or other preventive treatments may be applied. Because your dog is asleep, his mouth can be inspected carefully for signs of additional problems. The professional cleaning is the only way to stop the progress of periodontal disease once tartar has formed.

Treats, Chews, and Other Products
A variety of products are marketed to help keep your dogs teeth clean at home. These include dental care diets, plaque reducing treats and toys, and solutions that are applied to dogs mouth. Check with your veterinarian before using these products, because some may be unsafe or may interfere with other treatments your dog is receiving. In general, avoid very hard chews such as natural bone or cow hooves. Also, remember that although treats and chews may be of some benefit, there is no substitute for daily tooth brushing.

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Considerations When Boarding Your Dog

People face the decision of what to do with their dogs any time they travel. Does the hotel allow dogs? Is the neighbor’s teenager responsible enough to medicate my geriatric dog? What if there is an emergency...

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Considerations When Boarding Your Dog

People face the decision of what to do with their dogs any time they travel. Does the hotel allow dogs? Is the neighbor’s teenager responsible enough to medicate my geriatric dog? What if there is an emergency with my pet while I’m on the road? A boarding facility may be a better option than traveling with a pet or leaving it with a friend in some circumstances. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a boarding facility and a few preparations to make before leaving your dog in a kennel.

Interview and visit the boarding kennel before you make reservations. Make sure that the kennels are spacious and clean, that the animals have proper bedding and fresh water, and they receive the attention that your dog will require while you are away. Dogs are generally very adaptable to boarding if they receive appropriate care. Make your reservations well in advance of a planned trip. Boarding kennels may be booked six months or more in advance of a holiday.

Be sure to take all of the medications that your dog will need during boarding. Are the vials clearly labeled, and are there enough tablets for the duration of the stay? It is a good idea to write or type a short list that describes feeding and medicating instructions for the boarding kennel. Take a business card for your veterinarian and emergency clinic to give to the staff of the facility. If your dog has a serious condition such as heart failure or kidney failure, you may want to investigate a 24 hour animal hospital that provides boarding for fragile pets.

Ask the kennel whether or not you should provide your own bedding, toys, and bowls, or if they provide their own. It is nice to have something familiar to the dog with it in the kennel; however, in reality these items become soiled and end up in the laundry anyway. Dogs do not tend to play with their toys from home while in the kennel. Your personal belongings may become lost or damaged while boarding your dog.

It is very important, on the other hand, to provide the food that your dog is accustomed to eating. Diet change diarrhea is very common in boarding dogs. The stress of being in a different environment can add to the symptoms, causing a boarder to become quite ill. Do not pack a lot of treats for your dog, especially something you have never given before. And reduce the amount of food rations slightly during boarding. Overfeeding significantly contributes to boarding related colitis as well.

To reduce separation anxiety, you may want to board your dog on the day that you pack for the trip. Stuffing suitcases and packing activity can trigger emotional stress in susceptible dogs.

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Considerations When Choosing a New Dog

Dogs provide many years of unconditional love and companionship to their owners. It is important to select the right dog for one’s lifestyle to prevent unnecessary behavioral conflicts that can arise from a mismatched dog and owner. What size of dog, what grooming requirements it will have, the level of physical exercise it will need, and its overall...

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Considerations When Choosing a New Dog

Dogs provide many years of unconditional love and companionship to their owners. It is important to select the right dog for one’s lifestyle to prevent unnecessary behavioral conflicts that can arise from a mismatched dog and owner. What size of dog, what grooming requirements it will have, the level of physical exercise it will need, and its overall temperament are some considerations to factor before deciding to adopt or purchase a new pet. Potential health problems inherent in certain breed should be weighed before deciding between a purebred and a mixed breed dog. It is also important to decide who in the family will be primarily responsible for the feeding, exercise, grooming, and health care of the pet. A dog should never be given as a gift, because a lot of commitment will be required on the part of the owner.

A particular breed or the predominant lineage in a mutt can reveal a lot about the likely personality of a dog. High energy dogs like working and sporting breeds were bred to interact closely with people and will require a lot of mental and physical activity to avoid boredom and separation anxiety problems. Terriers are very intelligent, but they are also very independent and may be difficult to train. Behavioral conflicts can be reduced by first choosing a breed of dog that fits your lifestyle. A large dog that requires a lot of space to run would not be appropriate for an apartment unless the owner is committed to daily jogging with the dog for exercise.

Long haired dogs will require regular visits to the groomer and more frequent bathing. It is important that these dogs become acclimated at a young age to being groomed.

Before purchasing a dog from a breeder, consider how many homeless pets enter shelters and rescue groups each year. Research should be done about potential health problems to which a purebred dog may be predisposed. These can increase the cost of future healthcare considerably. Also, finding a responsible and reputable breeder may require time and numerous references. Avoid “puppy mill” puppies found at trading shows and in pet stores. They tend to be line bred and are very susceptible to deformities, contagious disease, and heavy parasite burdens that may cause illness. If a purebred dog is chosen, it should be a high quality animal with no faults for the breed. “Pet quality” dogs are sometimes sold that would not be able to be shown as representative of their breed.

Families should think carefully about whether children are ready for the responsibility and care of a dog. The parents are ultimately the primary caretakers of the pet. Very small children should be taught appropriate handling and petting to avoid accidental emergency room visits for a bitten finger.

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Crate Training

Crate training your dog is a safe and humane way to confine your pet and eliminate unwanted behaviors while you are unable to supervise your pet. Properly crate training your pet will assist you with housetraining, help alleviate anxiety by providing a safe place and help eliminate barking issues. A dog that is crate trained early will also be much more relaxed and calm if it is...

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Crate Training

Crate training your dog is a safe and humane way to confine your pet and eliminate unwanted behaviors while you are unable to supervise your pet. Properly crate training your pet will assist you with housetraining, help alleviate anxiety by providing a safe place and help eliminate barking issues. A dog that is crate trained early will also be much more relaxed and calm if it is required to travel later in life.

When determining if your dog will be confined to a crate or a room in your home, it is important to determine the length of time that you will be absent. If you will be gone for a sufficient length of time and the animal may need to eliminate during that time, then it is advised to confine your pet to a puppy-proofed room in your home with an appropriate place to defecate. If you will only be gone a short amount of time, then it is recommended to confine the animal to a crate. If properly trained, your pet will soon view his crate as a safe haven. This safe haven is not considered a place to eliminate and keeping your pet confined in a crate long enough to force it to eliminate should be strongly avoided.

When choosing a crate to purchase, consider the size of your pet, its personality, and you travel plans in the future. Your crate should be large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably. It should contain a place for fresh water and food and adequate ventilation. If your pet is sociable and likes to view the world around them, then a wire mesh crate would allow this flexibility. However, if travel plans are in your family’s future, then perhaps a sturdy, airline approved plastic crate would be a better option.

The first step to crate training your puppy is to teach your pet that the crate is a safe haven for him. In order to do this, you should avoid using the crate as a form of punishment and instead associate it with calm, relaxing and enjoyable experiences. However, it is good to keep in mind, that while not a punishment, the crate can be a useful tool to eliminating certain destructive behaviors.

Begin by allowing your pet to explore the crate on its own. Make the crate a warm and inviting environment by placing your pets favorite bed inside and placing tasty treats or new toys inside. After a day of sufficient exploration and the pup is willing to enter and exit the crate on its own, take the dog outside to eliminate and exercise.

Upon returning indoors, place the puppy in the crate with food, water and some novel toys. Then close the door and leave the room. Remain close enough to hear the puppy but out of view. If the pup is tired after its recent exercise, then it may nap briefly in the crate.

Some vocalization and escape exploration is normal when your pet is first confined to his crate. Wait for a few minutes and until the pup has stopped vocalizing before releasing him. Never release the puppy when he is barking or crying as this reinforces the behavior and links barking with being released from the crate. If your pup will not stop barking, then some remote behavior modification may be necessary to startle the animal and make it stop. A squirt bottle or shaker can be used for this startle response.

When you release your pet from the crate, do not get excited or offer too much praise. Being released from the crate should not be treated as a treat or thing or excitement, rather going in the crate should be praised and rewarded. Practice leaving your pet in the crate for short periods many times throughout the next few days. At bedtime, your pet should also be placed in the crate after eliminating and exercising.

As the pup becomes more comfortable in its new crate, gradually increase the time the animal is kept confined. Remember to keep in mind how long your pet can hold its bladder and never leave it confined in a crate for longer than this time. As your pet grows older and the time spent in its new crate is increased, hopefully he will view the enclosure as a safe haven and a place to find new and fun treats and toys.

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Digging Dogs

Dogs dig for pleasure, curiosity, exploration, and out of boredom. Wild canines dig for prey and to build a den, so our domestic dogs come with the same instincts. This can be a problem when Fido decides to dig up the rose bushes in your beautifully landscaped back yard. There are ways to curb this behavior, but it is best to stop it early before a dog develops a frustrating and...

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Digging Dogs

Dogs dig for pleasure, curiosity, exploration, and out of boredom. Wild canines dig for prey and to build a den, so our domestic dogs come with the same instincts. This can be a problem when Fido decides to dig up the rose bushes in your beautifully landscaped back yard. There are ways to curb this behavior, but it is best to stop it early before a dog develops a frustrating and destructive habit.

Boredom can play a big role in causing a dog to find his own entertainment. In fact, many behavioral problems with dogs stem from boredom. High energy dogs such as working breeds require an outlet for their energy. Digging for buried treasure serves this purpose well. Be sure your dog has plenty of activity each day to exercise his mind and body. Digging can be just the start of many inappropriate behaviors like chewing and barking.

Certain types of dogs are bred for digging. Dachshunds and terriers have been used for hundreds of years to tunnel for rodents and badgers. These dogs must be given other jobs to curb their appetite for digging. If you have burrowing rodents like moles or gophers in your yard, it will be difficult to stop your dog from hunting them.

There are products on the market to deter a dog from digging, some of which work with limited results. Addressing why your dog wants to dig will be more effective. Crate training a puppy helps to establish a schedule of rest and play. This method can teach a dog to look forward to “people time” and helps reduce separation anxiety related behavior. Giving a dog a job to do everyday, whether it’s fetching a Frisbee or a walk around the block, can be an outlet for pent up energy. Practicing new tricks is another good way to give your dog mental and physical exercise. Digging can result from too much time alone in the yard without companionship.

A quick remedy to stop a dog from digging in a particular spot is to bury his stools in the hole that he created, and then cover it with soil. Dogs will usually not dig again in that location, but they will probably move on to another spot until the entire yard has been excavated.

The best method to prevent digging is to keep it from becoming an established habit to begin with. Dogs are intelligent animals that need mental stimulation and physical activity on a daily basis.

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Disc Disease

As pet owners, we all hope that our dogs never have to experience disc disease. However, this is a fairly common condition in some breeds and in many geriatric pets. Discs are essentially cushions that help to absorb tension and pressure between the vertebrae. Humans have this same mechanism and can also suffer from disc disease. By acting as shock absorbers, discs help to protect the very delicate...

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Disc Disease

As pet owners, we all hope that our dogs never have to experience disc disease. However, this is a fairly common condition in some breeds and in many geriatric pets. Discs are essentially cushions that help to absorb tension and pressure between the vertebrae. Humans have this same mechanism and can also suffer from disc disease. By acting as shock absorbers, discs help to protect the very delicate nerves found within a dog’s spinal column.

There are several reasons that may cause your dog to develop disc disease. In many cases, disc disease occurs due to a trauma, such as falling, jumping off of furniture, being struck by a car or even rough-play. Discs can also degenerate as a pet becomes geriatric. Obese dogs are very prone to developing disc disease as well due to the extra pressure on the back caused by the fat. Certain breeds, such as Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels and other breeds with long backs can be more prone to developing disc disease especially if overweight.

The symptoms of disc disease are normally rather obvious. These signs will vary; however, depending on which disc is affected as this disease can occur anywhere on the spinal cord. For example, if your dog leaps from the bed and a disc in the middle back becomes slipped (known as a slipped disc), they will have greater pain in this area and the rear legs may be more affected. The abdomen may become rigid, the dog may tremble and in some cases they may even lose control of their bowel and bladder. In cases where a disc in the upper vertebrae around the neck is affected, the dog will likely have difficulty holding its neck and head up. In any case, the dog will be weakened and often lethargic. In severe cases, disc disease can also lead to paralysis.

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your dog, you should seek immediate veterinary attention. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough exam and will likely need to take X-Rays to further assess the health of your dog’s vertebral column. If caught early, disc disease can be successfully treated with medications. Anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, pain medications or a combination can be used to treat this condition. Be sure to closely follow your veterinarian’s instructions on how to administer these medications.

Treatment does not just involve giving medications. Your pet’s activity may need to be restricted and jumping and rough-play are definitely prohibited. This means no more leaping from furniture! If your pet is overweight, it will also be very important to begin a high quality diet that promotes weight loss. Your veterinarian will recommend a diet that is right for your pet. Once your pet has been cleared for increased exercise by your veterinarian, regular walks will greatly benefit your dog’s weight and overall health.

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Distemper

Canine Distemper is a serious viral disease. Widespread vaccination has reduced its incidence, but dogs that get it often die. Canine distemper can also infect pet ferrets. How Dogs Get the Virus Susceptible dogs are infected by inhaling the Distemper virus, which is found in secretions and feces from infected dogs. Puppies under six months of age and unvaccinated dogs are most...

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Distemper

Canine Distemper is a serious viral disease. Widespread vaccination has reduced its incidence, but dogs that get it often die. Canine distemper can also infect pet ferrets. How Dogs Get the Virus Susceptible dogs are infected by inhaling the Distemper virus, which is found in secretions and feces from infected dogs. Puppies under six months of age and unvaccinated dogs are most vulnerable.

What the Disease Does
Canine Distemper infects the immune cells and spreads throughout the body via the lymph and the blood. The immune system is weakened, making the dog susceptible to other infections. The virus also directly attacks some tissues, particularly the nervous system. Signs of distemper include fever, cough, nasal and eye discharge that is usually thick and green, pneumonia, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, thickening of the toe pads, muscle twitching, seizures and blindness.

How Canine Distemper is Diagnosed
Often veterinarians can diagnose Distemper by taking a careful medical history and performing a thorough physical exam. Laboratory tests are available to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for Canine Distemper
There is no specific treatment that kills the virus, but sick dogs are hospitalized and treated for secondary infections and to reduce the symptoms. The disease is fatal in approximately 50-90% of cases. Survivors often suffer permanent nervous system damage. Seizures or other nervous system problems may occur even years later.

Preventing Canine Distemper
The key to preventing Canine Distemper is a good vaccination program. Puppies should be vaccinated starting at 6-8 weeks of age. Sometimes, young puppies are vaccinated with measles, a related virus that also protects against Distemper. Distemper vaccines are repeated every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is at least 16 weeks old. After that, boosters are given every 1-3 years depending on the type of vaccine. It is especially important for female dogs intended for breeding to be current on vaccinations. This allows them to provide immunity that protects their puppies until they are old enough to receive vaccinations.

Adult dogs that have never been vaccinated before may only need a single vaccination, followed by re-vaccination every 1-3 years. Check with your veterinarian to find out the best vaccination protocol for your dog.

Dogs with distemper should be isolated from other dogs since the disease is contagious. Fortunately, the virus is killed by most household disinfectants.

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Coprophagia

Eating poop, or coprophagia, is a disgusting and unhealthy habit of many dogs. It is also a normal and sanitary behavior that mother dogs exhibit to keep their nursing pups healthy. There are a number of things that...

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Coprophagia

Eating poop, or coprophagia, is a disgusting and unhealthy habit of many dogs. It is also a normal and sanitary behavior that mother dogs exhibit to keep their nursing pups healthy. There are a number of things that can trigger this behavior, and sometimes it can be a difficult habit to break. With puppies, avoiding coprophagia before it starts is pretty simple. An adult dog that suddenly starts eating poop may have health problems or be suffering from anxieties that need attention. There are many wives’ tales and home remedies for coprophagia that probably do not work. There are also products on the market that claim to supplement some missing nutrient that the dog lacks or make the stool unappealing to the dog. These products work with limited success.

Mother dogs and cats must eat the feces of their litter to keep the nest and offspring clean. This behavior usually subsides when the puppies and kittens are able to leave the nest on their own. This instinct may persist in some female dogs, however.

Proper training can avoid coprophagia with puppies. Denying access to the feces is the first step. Using a leash or head halter, distract the puppy away from the stool with a toy or food reward when you take it outside to defecate. This will counter-condition the dog to expect food rather than searching for feces. Once inside, leave the puppy where it cannot see you pick up the stool. It will not take long for the dog to learn the pattern.

Separation anxiety and boredom can lead to eating stools. It is thought that a dog may eat stools to hide an accident in the house. This is one reason to avoid punishing a puppy for defecating in the house during housebreaking. Usually other symptoms of anxiety such as destructive chewing will accompany stress-induced coprophagia.

Under feeding and malnourishment will often cause a dog to resort to coprophagia. Have the dog’s body condition checked to be sure it is not under-weight. A dog may be attracted to the feces of another dog that is ill or passing blood. Parasites are passed in this manner. Certain diseases may also trigger eating poop. Cushing’s disease causes insatiable hunger, and pancreatic insufficiency may cause malnourishment and weight loss.

If you do want to try food additives to help with coprophagia, be sure to ask your veterinarian if it is safe for your dog. Switching foods sometimes helps, but always transition a dog to a new food slowly over 5 to 7 days to prevent diet-change diarrhea.

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Destructive Behavior in Puppies

Congratulations on bringing home your new puppy! Raising a puppy can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, along with the fun, often come some challenges for the new owners. One such challenge is managing and controlling your puppy’s destructive behaviors. This handout will provide some tips, if your puppy tends to exhibit this type...

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Destructive Behavior in Puppies

Congratulations on bringing home your new puppy! Raising a puppy can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, along with the fun, often come some challenges for the new owners. One such challenge is managing and controlling your puppy’s destructive behaviors. This handout will provide some tips, if your puppy tends to exhibit this type of behavior.

Puppies exhibit destructive behaviors for many different reasons. Most puppies are naturally curious about their surroundings and part of their exploration process is to touch, smell and, yes, taste their new environment. In fact, this exploration is normal and even necessary for proper puppy socialization and development. Problems occur, however, when your puppy takes these natural tendencies to the next level and becomes destructive in his behavior. These destructive behaviors may originate for many different reasons. Some small puppies may be trying to satisfy a natural urge to chew or teethe. Other puppies that tear up items, such as magazines, trash or carpets, may be simply playing. Puppies who become anxious when separated from their family members may also exhibit a wide variety of destructive behaviors.

The first step to eliminating destructive behaviors in your puppy is to determine the main cause of the behavior. If your pet destroys a wide variety of items throughout the house at different times of day, then the dog is probably exhibiting play behaviors. If the dog only destroys items when you are separated from him, then your pet is probably experiencing separation anxiety. If your puppy is between three to six months of age and is exhibiting new destructive chewing behaviors, then he is probably beginning to teethe and looking to soothe his sore teeth and gums. With each of these types of behaviors, it is important to analyze your behavior as well to determine if you are inadvertently rewarding the behavior in a way. For example, you catch your pet chewing on an inappropriate object and in order to distract him from the object you give him a treat. Repeating this action will solidify in your pets mind that chewing equals receiving a treat and, therefore, the pet will chew more frequently.

After determining the cause of your pets destructive behavior, steps may then be taken to eliminate the behavior. The first steps should be ones that re-direct the pets attention to proper and appropriate chewing and play behaviors. For the pet exhibiting destructive play behaviors, this redirection may include more proper play times, exercise, training, and new appropriate toys. These new toys should have a variety of tastes, textures, sounds and odors in order to stimulate your pet and redirect their attention. One such example are the many good puzzle toys on the market today that allow you to stuff the toy with treats and allow your pet to work for its reward. If your pet is exhibiting teething behaviors, redirect its attention to appropriate outlets by providing toys with a variety of textures. It may also be good to offer toys that have been cooled in the freezer or toys that have frozen treats inside to ease the puppys gums. For the puppy that is experiencing separation anxiety it may be necessary to confine the animal in an area where it will not damage items while you are away. If the pup is confined, be sure to provide new and interesting toys and treats to distract the pup from your departure and separation.

If directing your puppys attention away from destructive chewing and toward appropriate areas has not worked then it may be necessary to discipline your pet. Discipline should be swift, humane and should occur at the time of the offense. If possible, it is recommended to use a punishment that will not be associated with the punisher, for example, a spray bottle, noise gun, citronella spray collar or clap. If you cannot confine your pet away from the area while you are not present to supervise, then it may be necessary to deter your pet by placing a booby trap. One idea is to place items that will make a loud noise and movement on or near the area so that when your pet touches or chews he will be greeted with a loud crash and flourish of movement. This attack will frequently deter your pet from further chewing.

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Dilatative Cardiomyopathy in Dogs

The heart functions as a pump to supply oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood to all of the organs and tissues of the body. When the heart becomes diseased and is less capable of doing its job, all systems in the body may begin to fail as a consequence. The term Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is used to describe any disease process of the heart which causes an...

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Dilatative Cardiomyopathy in Dogs

The heart functions as a pump to supply oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood to all of the organs and tissues of the body. When the heart becomes diseased and is less capable of doing its job, all systems in the body may begin to fail as a consequence. The term Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is used to describe any disease process of the heart which causes an inadequacy to maintain the circulation of blood resulting in congestion and fluid accumulation in the tissues. Dilatative Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a type of heart disease that causes CHF.

Dilatative Cardiomyopathy means disease of the heart muscle which results in dilation of the heart chambers. Dogs have four-chambered hearts just like people; the upper left and right chambers are called the atria and the lower two are called the ventricles. DCM can occur in any breed but it mainly affects large breed dogs which are often genetically predisposed.

In this form of heart disease, the heart muscle loses its ability to contract and pump blood out of the chambers. It can originate on either side of the heart, although left-sided DCM is most common. In this case, the left ventricle is unable to pump the same volume of blood out to the organs as the volume of blood returning from the lungs into the left atrium. The left chambers will dilate as the heart muscle wall becomes thin, stretched, and less efficient. Subsequently, congestion will occur in the lungs as a result of increased back-pressure. Coughing is a common symptom as a result.

In right-sided DCM, back-pressure occurs in the abdomen rather than the lungs, and dilation of the heart muscle occurs in the right heart chambers. The right side of the heart receives blood from the organs and pumps it to the lungs for re-oxygenation. The increased blood pressure in the abdominal vessels causes fluid to leak from the vessel walls into the abdominal cavity. Veterinarians refer to fluid accumulation in the abdomen as ascites. When a significant amount of fluid builds up, the diaphragm cannot expand into the abdomen, and respiratory difficulty can occur with no cough necessarily present.

Sometimes dilatative cardiomyopathy occurs on both sides of the heart simultaneously. In left or right-sided DCM, the cardiac silhouette will show enlargement on an x-ray. A heart murmur may be audible as the dilation of the chambers and increased back-pressure causes the heart valves to seat improperly and blood to “leak” in a reverse direction of flow. Heart murmurs are caused by turbulence in blood flow, but are not always present in DCM. Certain large breed dogs may also develop abnormal heart rhythms associated with DCM. Pulse deficits and misshapen EKG waves may be noted on examination by the veterinarian. In severe cases, syncope (fainting) may occur in dogs with advanced DCM who do not receive ample blood flow to the areas of the brain that maintain consciousness.

In general, the symptoms of DCM may include weakness, lethargy, exercise intolerance, coughing, increased respiratory rate or difficulty breathing, decreased or absent appetite, enlarged abdomen, and collapse.

Unfortunately, there is no absolute cure for DCM. The treatment for dilatative cardiomyopathy of any type requires removal of fluid congestion in the lungs or abdominal ascites by using diuretic drugs like furosemide and spironolactone. Enhancement of heart muscle contractility and reduction of blood pressure is gained with the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as enalapril and benazepril and vasodilators like amlodipine and diltiazem. A positive inotropic drug called pimobendan is used in combination with diuretics and blood pressure medications to enhance blood delivery to the organs.

Taurine deficiency may cause dietary related DCM (as seen in pets fed improper diets). Taurine is added to all commercially prepared dog and cat food and is rarely the cause of DCM in house pets.

The prognosis for cases of primary dilatative cardiomyopathy greatly depends upon being recognized and treated early in the progression of the disease. Treatment for symptoms and consequences of congestive heart failure due to DCM can greatly improve quality of life as well as extend life-expectancy in most cases.

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Discoid Lupus Erythematosus

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE), also known as Collie Nose, initially appears as pigment loss, redness and scaling of the nose – later followed by ulceration, erosion and crusting. With time, lesions may become more extensive and spread up the bridge of the nose. Less commonly, lesions affect the eyes, ears, lips, and genitals. This disease is an auto-immune skin disorder. In DLE, normal immune defense mechanisms (antibodies) inappropriately attack the skin cells...

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Discoid Lupus Erythematosus

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE), also known as Collie Nose, initially appears as pigment loss, redness and scaling of the nose – later followed by ulceration, erosion and crusting. With time, lesions may become more extensive and spread up the bridge of the nose. Less commonly, lesions affect the eyes, ears, lips, and genitals. This disease is an auto-immune skin disorder. In DLE, normal immune defense mechanisms (antibodies) inappropriately attack the skin cells in specific areas of the body. This can lead to significant damage of the tissue. DLE is very rarely seen in cats.

DLE is usually first noticed by the owner when the nose loses its normal pigment and texture. The tissue will become pale pink or blue, smooth, and shiny before developing ulcers that may crack and bleed. The lesions may also involve the other tissues listed above. Exposure to sunlight will exacerbate the condition. In fact, DLE may be seasonal and related to ultraviolet radiation exposure during the summertime.

Some dogs may paw at the lesions or rub the muzzle and face on the floor, while others do not seem to be bothered by the condition. Self trauma usually occurs after ulcers form and crack open.

All Shepherd and Collie breeds, Huskies, Brittany spaniels, and German shorthaired pointers, both males and females, have a genetic predilection to developing DLE. Chronic DLE lesions have an increased risk of becoming malignant, turning into squamous cell carcinomas.

There are other diseases that cause lesions and symptoms similar to those seen in DLE. Extensive testing may be required to rule out ringworm, cutaneous lymphoma, pemphigus foliaceus, and other problems that can resemble DLE. Ultimately, a tissue biopsy is most helpful in achieving a definitive diagnosis.

Treating DLE may be as simple as avoiding prolonged exposure to sunlight and applying a non zinc-based sunscreen during outdoor activities. For more severe cases, topical and systemic immunosuppressive medications like prednisone may be necessary to clear up the lesions. Doxycycline is also commonly prescribed. This drug possesses antibiotic as well as immuno-modulating properties useful for treating DLE. Doxycyline is typically combined with niacinamide, a Vitamin B derivative, to treat autoimmune type skin disorders. To prevent recurrence, all dogs with a history of DLE should avoid excess sun-exposure.

The prognosis for Discoid Lupus Erythematosus is generally good when treated appropriately. There are no systemic effects associated with DLE.

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Dog Breeding Facts

The decision to breed a dog should not be taken lightly. While it may be nice to have a puppy from a favorite pet, the hundreds of thousands of homeless dogs that wind up in shelters every year should be considered. Breeding should be done responsibly and never for the sake of profit. Unforeseen complications in pregnancy and whelping may lead to an emergency Cesarean Section...

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Dog Breeding Facts

The decision to breed a dog should not be taken lightly. While it may be nice to have a puppy from a favorite pet, the hundreds of thousands of homeless dogs that wind up in shelters every year should be considered. Breeding should be done responsibly and never for the sake of profit. Unforeseen complications in pregnancy and whelping may lead to an emergency Cesarean Section (surgical delivery of the puppies) or supplemental bottle feedings. Supplemental bottle feedings would increase the health risk, time commitment, and expense involved in breeding.

The normal gestation period for a dog (time from conception to delivery) is about 63 to 65 days. Depending on the breed, litter sizes can range from one to 14 puppies. Certain breeds like brachycephalics (dogs with pushed in faces and dome shaped heads) almost always require C-section deliveries because of their anatomies. Puppies are weaned at 5 weeks, vaccinated at 6 weeks, and adopted out at 7 weeks of age. The responsibility of caring for an entire litter of pups in the house requires a lot of time and effort.

Both the male and female dog should have a complete physical examination before breeding when possible. They should be screened for heritable conditions such as hip and shoulder dysplasia, demodecosis (predilection for mange), hernias, and cryptorchidism (un-descended testes). Dogs with any of these traits should not be bred. The female should be tested and de-wormed for intestinal parasites that can be transmitted to the litter. Both dogs should be current on vaccinations.

Pregnant and nursing dogs should be fed 4 to 5 meals daily with a high quality puppy food to provide the extra protein, fat, and calcium they will require to raise a healthy litter. Fresh water should always be available. A whelping bed can be made from a large box with warm blankets. Be sure it is large enough for the mother to arrange and groom her puppies when they are delivered. A heating pad is not recommended because the newborn pups will not be able to cool themselves by moving away from the heat source.

During a natural delivery, it may be necessary to assist the mother in caring for the newborn puppies. Generally, she should be left alone during labor, as anxiety can stop contractions. However, if she cannot tend to the pups in a timely manner, the birth sacs should be removed with a soft washcloth to prevent the pups from suffocating. There will be amniotic fluid in the puppy’s mouth and lungs that can be aspirated with a bulb syringe or gently shaken out. Stimulate the puppy fairly vigorously with gentle rubbing until it begins squirming and crying, and then allow the mother to finish grooming it.

Phone numbers for an after hours veterinarian should be obtained in case emergency care is needed. Labor usually lasts a couple of hours. If more than 20 minutes of contractions elapse without delivering a puppy, or if a partial birth occurs and is not completed after 10 minutes of contractions, this is an emergency situation that requires immediate veterinarian intervention.

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Ear Problems

The most common ear problem in dogs is inflammation of the outer ear, technically termed otitis externa. The area between the outside opening and the eardrum can be irritated by infections, parasites, allergies and foreign objects. Signs of Ear Problems Signs of irritation include scratching, shaking the head, and reacting painfully when the ears are touched. You may also see...

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Ear Problems

The most common ear problem in dogs is inflammation of the outer ear, technically termed otitis externa. The area between the outside opening and the eardrum can be irritated by infections, parasites, allergies and foreign objects. Signs of Ear Problems Signs of irritation include scratching, shaking the head, and reacting painfully when the ears are touched. You may also see discharge. Ear hematomas are common if irritation goes untreated. Depending on the cause, one or both of the ears may be affected.

How Ear Problems are Diagnosed
Your veterinarian will use an otoscope to look into the ears. He will also take a sample of ear discharge and examine it microscopically to check for signs of infection or ear mites. If infection is present, the sample may be sent to a lab for culture. Cultures provide information about the kinds of bacteria present and the medications that can help. During the examination, the veterinarian may also see foreign objects such as foxtails in the ear canal. If your dog’s ears are very painful, sedation or anesthesia may be required.

Common Causes of Ear Problems
Some pets are prone to ear problems due to anatomy, allergies, or skin conditions. Ventilation of the ears is poor in dogs with floppy ears, resulting in a warm, moist environment perfect for growth of bacteria and yeast. Certain breeds of dogs are also more likely to suffer from skin allergies and disorders like seborrhea. These skin problems affect the ears too, causing chronic inflammation and susceptibility to infection.

The lining of the ear canal, like the rest of the skin, normally contains small amounts of bacteria and yeast. These organisms are harmless unless they multiply out of control. Overgrowth causes irritation, inflammation, foul odor and discharge. Chronic infection can lead to damage to ear tissues, including rupture of the ear drum. If the ear drum is ruptured, the infection can gain access to the middle and inner ear, causing serious problems like head tilt, loss of balance, and inability to walk normally.

Parasites in the ear include ear mites and ticks. Ear mites are tiny creatures that are just barely visible with the naked eye. They are quite contagious between animals. They cause severe itching and produce large amounts of black, waxy discharge. Pets with ear mites scratch their ears incessantly. This can lead to ear or skin infections as well as damage to deeper ear structures. Ticks can attach to the inside of the ears. They may irritate the ears or obstruct the canal, preventing normal ventilation and interfering with hearing.

The most common foreign bodies in the ears are foxtails or grass awns. These pointy seeds get caught in pet’s fur and gradually work their way into the skin, nose, ears, and paws where they can cause major damage. Foxtails in the ears are very irritating. If they are not removed, they can penetrate the ear drum.

Treatment for Ear Problems
The first step in treating ear problems is a thorough cleaning of the ears. This may require sedation or anesthesia. Once the ears are clean, specific medications are prescribed. Antibiotics are used for bacterial infections, antifungals for yeast, anti-inflammatories for irritation and allergies, and insecticides for ear mites. Most of the medications are administered directly into your dog’s ears proper administration is crucial for effective treatment. Medication must be given exactly as instructed and continued for the full duration prescribed, even if the pet seems to be fully recovered sooner.

The final step is to minimize the factors that can put pets at higher risk for ear problems. Skin problems and allergies may respond to dietary supplements, antihistamines, or anti-inflammatories. Routine ear cleaning with a product recommended by your veterinarian can also help. Even though it may look silly, you can help keep your floppy-eared dogs ears healthy and dry by using a hair clip to pin them on top of his head for an hour or so each day. Avoid allowing pets in areas that contain foxtails and check for foxtails when they return from outdoors. If signs of ear problems recur, seek prompt medical attention before the condition worsens.

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Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is a common cause of front limb lameness in young large breed dogs. Dysplasia simply means abnormal growth or development; and although an injury can lead to elbow dysplasia, the disease that is discussed here is usually a heritable condition. The elbow functions as a hinge joint, located at the convergence of three bones: the humerus in the upper forelimb, and the ...

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Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is a common cause of front limb lameness in young large breed dogs. Dysplasia simply means abnormal growth or development; and although an injury can lead to elbow dysplasia, the disease that is discussed here is usually a heritable condition. The elbow functions as a hinge joint, located at the convergence of three bones: the humerus in the upper forelimb, and the radius and ulna that run parallel together through the lower forelimb. The elbow is formed in such a way as to allow flexion, extension and rotation of the limb. While a dog is young and growing, the radius and ulna must develop at proportional rates in order to form the joint properly and allow for a complete range of motion. Disproportionate bone growth stemming from genetic aberrations common to large breed dogs causes malformation of the joint and / or loose bone fragments whereby inflammation occurs and chronic arthritis develops.

Most young dogs affected by elbow dysplasia will begin to exhibit symptoms of pain, abnormal gait, and lameness in one or both front legs at 4 to 6 months of age. While walking, dogs may be reluctant to flex the limbs during forward motion, appearing as “paddling”, or swinging the extended painful leg out and forward. Standing, they may shift weight off of the affected limb, holding it gingerly away from the center of the body with the foot rotated outward.

When both elbows are dysplastic, symptoms may alternate from side to side. In the most severe bilateral cases, the dog may shift body weight to the rear in a squatting posture with both front legs pointed forward and outward. Swelling may be present over the elbows, and crepitation (grinding) may be felt when the joints are flexed manually. Exercise typically makes the symptoms more pronounced, and the dog may be stiff and slow to rise after rest.

As the dog ages and the disease progresses, secondary arthritis (inflammatory reactions) in the joints will develop. Avoidance of exercise can lead to muscle atrophy (wasting). Untreated elbow dysplasia can become quite crippling.

Observed symptoms, changes in gait, and a physical examination (palpation of the limbs) may lead the veterinarian to suspect elbow dysplasia, which is confirmed by taking x-rays of the joints of the front legs. (The shoulders are also x-rayed to rule out coincidental problems of a similar nature.) On x-ray, abnormal joint conformation should be evident, and arthritic change may be seen. While free-floating bone fragments are often difficult to visualize on the x-ray, the location of missing bone pieces is usually typical and easy to identify.

The treatment for elbow dysplasia is targeted at three objectives: to relieve pain, restore joint function as much as possible, and slow degenerative change. This will require surgical correction and medical management of the disease. Surgery may be performed by arthroscopy or in a standard “open incision” technique depending on the surgeon’s recommendation and the classification / severity of the abnormality. Medical management involves weight control, pain medications, nutraceutical joint supplements, and physical therapy (controlled exercise).

Unfortunately, elbow dysplasia is progressive. A complete “cure” may not be possible, and success in treatment may be measured in small degrees of improvement. Early detection of the disease is vital to the dog’s long-term prognosis.

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False Pregnancy in Dogs

False pregnancy sometimes occurs after a normal heat cycle in the un-spayed female dog that has not actually conceived. It includes the behaviors and outward signs of pregnancy that are experienced by some dogs (and rarely cats) due to hormonal fluctuations associated with reproduction. The exact mechanisms involved in false pregnancy are not completely understood. While...

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False Pregnancy in Dogs

False pregnancy sometimes occurs after a normal heat cycle in the un-spayed female dog that has not actually conceived. It includes the behaviors and outward signs of pregnancy that are experienced by some dogs (and rarely cats) due to hormonal fluctuations associated with reproduction. The exact mechanisms involved in false pregnancy are not completely understood. While false pregnancy is generally not harmful to the pet, the problem for pet owners may be temperament changes, maternal behaviors involved in “nest building”, the “adoption” of inanimate objects like shoes and stuffed animals, and unexplained appetite changes or weight gain.

 

The reproductive (estrus) cycle of the dog differs from that of a female human in a couple of ways. Estrus occurs about every six to eight months beginning with proestrus, where the vulva swells, a bloody discharge is present, and the female dog attracts a mate. During estrus, the female accepts the male and an ovum (egg) is released from one of two ovaries through the fallopian tubes into the uterus. At this point, the discharge changes to straw-colored. If bred successfully, the egg will attach to the uterine wall once fertilized by the male’s sperm. Regardless of whether the female dog is bred however, the dog remains “hormonally pregnant” during diestrus for the approximate gestation period of 63-70 days.

 

During this time, the female dog’s mammary glands will enlarge and may produce milk in anticipation of a litter to be born. She may build a nest, which often includes shredding paper and fabric, hoarding a private area of the room, and adopting a “pup” in the form of a shoe, stuffed animal, or other available object. The dog may become protective of the object and territorial around the nest, leading to aggressive behavior unlike her normal personality. She may even appear pregnant with a distended abdomen.

 

False pregnancy is confirmed by ruling out a genuine pregnancy. A physical examination by the veterinarian along with a history of known breeding attempts and last heat cycle can identify whether the dog has become pregnant or not. An x-ray or ultrasound may be used to identify the skeletal structures of the fetuses if they are palpable within the uterine horns.

 

Most dogs experiencing a false pregnancy will return to normal behavior in several weeks without intervention. Spaying will not end a false pregnancy, but will prevent its recurrence.

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Feeding Your Dog

As in human nutrition, the goal of good nutrition in animals is to maximize the length and quality of life. It is very important to feed our companions a healthy and well balanced diet that meets their specific needs. Lets begin by taking a look at the nutritional needs of dogs. It is first important to remember that not all dogs are the same, just like no two people are the...

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Feeding Your Dog

As in human nutrition, the goal of good nutrition in animals is to maximize the length and quality of life. It is very important to feed our companions a healthy and well balanced diet that meets their specific needs. Lets begin by taking a look at the nutritional needs of dogs. It is first important to remember that not all dogs are the same, just like no two people are the same. Because of this, their nutritional needs can be very different. One thing all dogs have in common, however, is their need for a complete and balanced diet. A complete and balanced diet means that your pet is receiving the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fiber and other key nutrients.

Lets examine pet foods a little closer. Complete and balanced diets, those without excesses and deficiencies, help to avoid health problems. Giving your dog the right food throughout its life helps to avoid diseases like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and of course obesity. Lets look at choosing the right food for every stage of your dogs life. There are many high quality premium dog foods available, such as Hills Science Diet, Iams, Eukanuba and many more. It is important to avoid generic diets that have too many fillers and too little nutritional value.

We will begin with puppies. A puppy requires a great deal of nutrition to get through it first year healthy and happy. In order to get the correct nutrients for growth, such as calcium and phosphorous, it is important to feed a diet specifically for puppies until they have stopped growing. This usually occurs by twelve months of age, but in large breeds this may not come until eighteen months. A diet tailored for growing large breeds should be fed to these puppies.

As a puppy becomes an adult dog, the nutritional and energy needs of the dog change. As a responsible pet owner, we will want to shift to a diet to meet the nutritional requirements of the adult dog. These high quality diets contain carefully balanced ingredients, such as vitamins and antioxidants that are vital for preventing disease. Feeding the right diet at the right life stage can have a significant impact on increasing the life span of our pets.

By age seven, we should be transitioning our nutritional focus to our pets golden years. As our pets slow down, so do their nutritional needs. Premium diets targeted to the needs of older dogs contain fewer calories, yet just the right balance of essential nutrients. Obesity at any age will likely shorten your pets life span; however, feeding the correct diet will help to prevent obesity. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your pet is overweight. You should be able to feel his or her ribs, but not see them. If you cant feel your pets ribs, your dog is probably overweight. Current estimates suggest that at least 35% of dogs are grossly obese. Genetic factors, as well as overfeeding, greatly influence weight gain. Remember to avoid giving your dog an excessive amount of treats and never feed table scraps! If you can easily see the ribs, your dog is probably too thin.

The amount of food needed changes rapidly during a puppys first year. Most puppies should be fed 3 times a day until they are 6-8 weeks of age. After this age, most dogs are fed one to two times daily. The quantity of food can be determined by reading the suggested feeding volumes listed on the food bag. Regularly scheduled meal times are optimal as opposed to free feeding throughout the day. Free feeding often leads to obesity.

Your pets nutritional needs are paramount to a long and healthy life. With the help of your veterinarian, you can develop a well balanced nutritional program that will help to ensure a happy and healthy dog!

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Fleas, Ticks, and Other Parasites

Parasites on Your Dog
Parasites are organisms that live in or on your dog, causing harm. Minimizing parasites is an important part of keeping your pet healthy. Some pet parasites can cause problems for people too, so keeping them out of your home is also good for you and your family.

External parasites are insects or arachnids that live on the skin or in the...

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Fleas, Ticks, and Other Parasites

Parasites on Your Dog
Parasites are organisms that live in or on your dog, causing harm. Minimizing parasites is an important part of keeping your pet healthy. Some pet parasites can cause problems for people too, so keeping them out of your home is also good for you and your family.

External parasites are insects or arachnids that live on the skin or in the ears, feeding on blood or cell fluids. Most are large enough to be visible, but its easy to miss them on a furry pet. Your veterinarian can tell you about parasite control products that are safe, convenient, and effective.

Fleas
Fleas are about twice the size of the head of a pin and are brown in color. They scurry rapidly through your dogs hair coat and can jump several feet. Fleas can be detected by combing your pet with a fine-toothed flea comb. The presence of flea droppings is another sign. Flea droppings look like black sand. A good trick for differentiating flea droppings from dirt is to add a drop or two of water. Flea droppings contain partially digested blood, and will produce a red color when wet.

Fleas cause severe skin irritation and allergies. Your dog may scratch so much that he creates raw spots, which can become infected. Severe infestations can cause anemia. Fleas are also the carriers of tapeworms. Although fleas prefer furry creatures, they can cause itchy bites on people.

There are many products available for flea control. The newest, safest, and most effective are available from your veterinarian. These products are also very convenient, requiring only a few drops of liquid applied once a month. You may still notice a few fleas occasionally. Sprays for the home and garden can minimize this problem. Make sure to read and follow label directions on all flea products. Some products can be dangerous to you or your dog if they are used improperly.

Lice
Lice are whitish insects that are smaller than fleas. Their eggs, or nits, can be detected on the hair shafts. In dogs, lice are much less common than fleas. Lice can cause skin irritation and anemia. Insecticidal shampoos and other products can be used to treat lice, but it is very important to treat the bedding as well. Although people get lice, they are a different type, so you dont have to worry about getting lice from your pet.

Ticks
Ticks are arachnids, relatives of spiders. Their size varies tremendously, depending on the type, age, sex, and whether the tick has fed on blood. Larval ticks may be smaller than the head of a pin, whereas some adult ticks are larger than a corn kernel. Ticks are detected by careful examination of your pets skin and ears.

Ticks can cause anemia and are carriers of many serious diseases, including Lyme disease and Ehrlichia. They can also bite people.

Some of the topical flea products available from your veterinarian for flea control are also effective for ticks. In addition, powerful tick-specific products may be recommended.

Mites
Mites, like ticks, are arachnids, but they are much smaller. Mites are difficult or impossible to see without magnification. Ear mites can be detected by your veterinarian during a physical examination. Skin mites usually require a skin scraping test. Symptoms vary depending on the type of mite, but can include itching, irritation, and hair loss. Skin mites are the cause of mange. Effective mite treatments are available by prescription. The treatment often takes several weeks.

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Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is a disease spread from the bite of a tick. The brown dog tick is the primary host of this serious disease, which was first seen in military dogs returning to the US from the Vietnam War. The organism that is carried by ticks and causes the Ehrlichiosis infection is called a rickettisa, which is similar to bacteria. This disease should be taken very seriously as...

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Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is a disease spread from the bite of a tick. The brown dog tick is the primary host of this serious disease, which was first seen in military dogs returning to the US from the Vietnam War. The organism that is carried by ticks and causes the Ehrlichiosis infection is called a rickettisa, which is similar to bacteria. This disease should be taken very seriously as untreated cases can result in death.

There are three phases of the Ehrlichiosis infection. The acute phase occurs in the first two to four weeks of infection. Fever, weight loss, nervous system anomalies, respiratory distress, bleeding disorders and other symptoms can be seen during this initial stage. The second phase of the disease is referred to as the subclinical stage. The symptoms that are seen in the acute stage are normally not present in this stage and basically subside. Dogs that are infected may continue to shed the organism, they may totally eliminate the organism during this stage or they may progress to the chronic phase of the disease. Many of the symptoms present in the acute phase may return along with lameness, anemia, swollen limbs and blood clotting problems. Each progression from one phase to the next makes treating Ehrlichiosis more difficult and this is why early detection is very important for treatment to be successful.

Although preventing Ehrlichiosis is not easy, avoiding areas that are heavily infested with ticks is one measure that can be taken. If you live in a heavily wooded area with known cases of Ehrlichiosis, you want to consider treating your yard for ticks or calling a professional exterminator to perform this service.

Ehrlichiosis can be detected with a blood test; however, a positive result may not occur for two to three weeks into the acute phase. Therefore, multiple tests may be necessary to confirm an infection. If caught early enough, treatment of the disease can be successful if the dogs immune system remains strong. Dogs that are in the chronic phase with a weakened immune system have a poor prognosis and a lower rate of survival. Treatment normally begins with blood transfusions to combat the anemia and leads to antibiotic treatment. Specific antibiotics, such as Doxycycline or Enrofloxacin may last anywhere from one to four months.

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Elbow Hygroma

An elbow hygroma is a response to chronic trauma to the lateral aspect, or outside, of the canine elbow. It appears as a non-painful, fluid-filled mass, usually as a result of lying on a hard surface. The fluid is generally sterile unless the skin has been punctured; in which case, the hygroma may become infected with bacteria and will indeed be painful. In most cases, a sterile...

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Elbow Hygroma

An elbow hygroma is a response to chronic trauma to the lateral aspect, or outside, of the canine elbow. It appears as a non-painful, fluid-filled mass, usually as a result of lying on a hard surface. The fluid is generally sterile unless the skin has been punctured; in which case, the hygroma may become infected with bacteria and will indeed be painful. In most cases, a sterile hygroma will resolve on its own after the repeated trauma is eliminated. Septic (infected) hygromas will require surgical drainage and antibiotic therapy.

The typical hygroma patient is a young, large breed dog that is kept on a concrete-floored kennel. Long hair serves to pad the boney prominence of the elbow from the hard surface, and older dogs will have developed thick callus pads on the elbow which usually helps to inhibit hygroma formation. The sterile hygroma is mainly an aesthetic concern, and rarely requires more than changing the resting surface. By providing soft, thick padding on which to lie, the hygroma will subside after about 2 to 4 weeks. Occasionally a thick padded bandage will be applied to help protect the elbow and reduce fluid formation. It is not recommended to drain a sterile hygroma by needle aspiration because of the risk of introducing bacteria. Bacterial infections in the joints can be extremely painful and difficult to treat.

The treatment for a septic hygroma is not so simple. The swelling must be surgically opened, irrigated with sterile flush and antiseptics, then Penrose drains or closed suction drains are placed into the cavity to prevent further fluid accumulation. Injectable or oral antibiotics and analgesics for pain will be given for several weeks until the wound heals. Once opened surgically, the hygroma will tend to drain for a week or so afterward. The elbow will be bandaged and the bandages will be changed daily until the drains are removed and healing is complete. An Elizabethan collar must be worn to prevent licking and chewing at the incision.

One serious complication of a septic hygroma is the possibility of ulceration or abscessation. As the bacteria proliferate, and the swelling becomes greater, the skin over the elbow may become devitalized. The tissue may necrose, or die, and slough leaving a draining infected open wound. Treatment may require debriding (trimming) the devitalized tissue, then suturing the wound with drains in place; or the defect may be large enough to require skin grafting or healing by second intention (granulating in over a long period of time). An abscessed hygroma may require several repeated surgeries, hydrotherapy, long-term antibiotic therapy, and numerous bandage changes before completely healing.

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Fearful Behavior

Dogs can develop fears of noises, people, and objects. Fearful behavior can escalate into inappropriate growling and snapping (fear biting), urinating or defecating in the house, or destructive behavior. The dog may injure itself while panicking during a storm. Dogs should be desensitized to their fears and phobias before the situation becomes problematic in the household. Lack...

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Fearful Behavior

Dogs can develop fears of noises, people, and objects. Fearful behavior can escalate into inappropriate growling and snapping (fear biting), urinating or defecating in the house, or destructive behavior. The dog may injure itself while panicking during a storm. Dogs should be desensitized to their fears and phobias before the situation becomes problematic in the household. Lack of proper socialization can cause a dog to be afraid of people outside of the family. They may hide from, growl, or bite unfamiliar visitors and passersby. A common excuse for this unacceptable conduct is that the animal was abused before it was adopted by its owner. While this may be the case with some dogs, most fears of people stem from the fact the pet was not introduced to pleasant experiences with people at a young age. This behavior should be dealt with before fear biting occurs. Help from a behaviorist is absolutely necessary once fear related aggression begins.

 

Loud noises such as delivery trucks and thunder can cause a dog to become fearful. Consoling the pet during these situations can reinforce the behavior, and confinement to a crate does nothing to address the fear itself. Never reward inappropriate actions with treats and praise. Instead, reward good behavior such as responding to commands during the noises. A recording of the offending sounds can be made and played softly while the dog is praised and rewarded with play and treats. The problem in addressing noise phobias is that the sound itself may not be the only trigger causing fear. The dog must be desensitized to the entire situation, but starting with softer versions of the noises may be a good start. A consultation with a behavior specialist may prove beneficial, and a veterinarian may prescribe anti-anxiety medications to help during the behavior modification.

While abuse may or may not play a role, object-related phobias probably start as a result of a bad experience happening in the presence of the object. Rewarding appropriate behavior while desensitizing the dog is the best way to deal with this problem. Basic obedience training should be in place and practiced while exposing the pet slowly to the feared object.

It cannot be stressed enough that the earlier these fears are addressed, the more likely it is that the dog can be successfully rehabilitated. Behavior specialists can give an unbiased outside look at the causes of the dog’s anxieties and provide solutions that will help keep the household from being disrupted

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First Aid for Your Dog

Our hope for you, as a pet owner, is that you will never encounter an emergency situation. However, reality is that accidents happen. In the event of an accident or emergency, it is always best to be informed and know the proper first aid procedures for your pet. This handout will outline the basics of canine first aid that every pet owner should know. If my pet has been...

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First Aid for Your Dog

Our hope for you, as a pet owner, is that you will never encounter an emergency situation. However, reality is that accidents happen. In the event of an accident or emergency, it is always best to be informed and know the proper first aid procedures for your pet. This handout will outline the basics of canine first aid that every pet owner should know. If my pet has been injured, what should I do first?

Remain Calm. The key to any emergency situation is to be able to remain calm and avoid panicking in order to think clearly.
Assess the Situation. While remaining calm, assess the situation and determine the proper first aid techniques to administer.
Administer First Aid..
Call or Transport your pet to the Veterinarian. After stabilizing the situation, contact your veterinarian for assistance and to give them advance warning of your pets condition and the care he may need to receive.
First Aid is considered to be the initial treatment given in an emergency situation. This treatment is given for the purpose of saving life, minimizing pain, and reducing the risk of permanent injury. First aid for pets is often administered by a knowledgeable owner and greatly assists the veterinarian in making your pets long term recovery a success.

Before beginning first aid procedures on your pet, it is important to remember that if an animal is in pain, it may react differently to those around them. Therefore, care and caution should be taken to avoid being bitten by your pet out of pain, fear and panic. To begin First Aid on an injured pet:

Assess your pet for Shock. Shock is the bodys response to a serious injury. It includes a severe drop in blood pressure and unresponsiveness. Some other indications of shock are rapid breathing, pale mucus membranes, vomiting and shaking. If your pet displays these symptoms, try to keep the animal as calm and as still as possible. Cover your pet with blankets, coats or newspapers to maintain and conserve body temperature.
Assess and apply the ABCs of First Aid.
Airway- Assess your pets airway to make sure that there is not any foreign object blocking the flow of oxygen to the brain. You should observe for things such as vomit, saliva, sticks, balls or other objects. If your pets airway is obstructed, do your best to clear or remove the objects, but make sure that you do not further lodge the item in your pets throat.
Breathing- Observe your pet for breathing. If the animal is unconscious and is not breathing, apply chest compressions with the palm of your hand. With your other hand, feel for the animals pulse just above the elbow. If your pet is still not breathing, then close the animals muzzle, cover the animal’s mouth with yours and breathe in firmly and slowly. Remember that if you are unsure of the animals health history, vaccination records or veterinary record, it is best to avoid contact with all bodily fluids and blood.
Cardiac Function- If, upon feeling for a pulse, one cannot be detected then it may be necessary to perform chest compressions as well. Press down firmly, but controlled, with the palm of your hand on your pets chest. A simple form of pet CPR is to perform five (5) chest compressions to every one to two (1-2) breaths.
Assess your pet for other injuries. Observe your pet for broken limbs or bleeding and administer the appropriate first aid.
Administering First Aid for burns, cuts or heat stroke?

Burn- If your pet has been burned, cool the area as quickly as possible with cool water and cover it with cool, damp towels. If the burn was caused by a chemical, flush the area with cool water for at least fifteen minutes and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Cuts- If your pet is bleeding, examine the area for foreign bodies. If none are present clean the area and cover it with a gauze pad. Many cuts require medical attention and it is best to call your veterinarian immediately. If a wound is treated professionally within four hours, it can usually be sutured with successful results. However, after four hours of the accident, wounds have a greater risk of infection and serious complications.
Heat Stroke- Heat stroke typically occurs in the summer months when pets are left in sweltering situations without adequate ventilation or water supplies. If your pet demonstrates the signs of heat stroke, which are excessive panting, distress and coma, then immediately call your veterinarian and take measure to reduce your pets body temperature. Soaking with cool water and fanning your pet, will allow evaporation to cool its body. Avoid using ice or ice water as these may bring down your pets body temperature too rapidly and cause complications.

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Granulomatous Meningoencephalomyelitis (GME)

An unknown cause for inflammation of the brain, spinal cord, and meninges (a protective lining of the central nervous system) is referred to as Granulomatous Meningoencephalomyelitis, or GME. The progressive neurological symptoms of GME include seizures, behavioral changes, compulsive pacing or circling, head tilt, and blindness. White blood cells...

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Granulomatous Meningoencephalomyelitis (GME)

An unknown cause for inflammation of the brain, spinal cord, and meninges (a protective lining of the central nervous system) is referred to as Granulomatous Meningoencephalomyelitis, or GME. The progressive neurological symptoms of GME include seizures, behavioral changes, compulsive pacing or circling, head tilt, and blindness. White blood cells called mononuclear cells (macrophages and lymphocytes) and plasma cells are responsible for the formation of granulomas, or masses of inflammatory cells, around the blood vessels in CNS tissues, but the reason for their presence is not understood. The cells possess malignant criteria; and while the condition is not considered cancer, it is sometimes referred to as malignant GME and behaves a lot like cancer. There are three manifestations of GME: focal, disseminated, and ophthalmic lesions. A patient may be affected by more than one type.

Focal GME involves one particular area of CNS tissue, or one primary lesion. This manifestation has a slow onset of symptoms (between 3 to 6 months), and the symptoms are limited. Disseminated (widespread) GME has a rapid onset (1-8 weeks) and a greater variety of symptoms. Ophthalmic GME (of the eyes) causes sudden and usually permanent blindness. The disseminated form carries the gravest prognosis due to the wide distribution of granulomatous lesions and symptoms. The type of GME is confirmed by the patient’s set of symptoms, CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) analysis, and the distribution of lesions revealed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT). Tissue biopsy is the only definitive method to absolutely confirm GME, which may be collected by CT guided brain biopsy or surgery (craniotomy or laminectomy).

A patient with suspected GME will be exhaustively tested for underlying infectious and malignant diseases that may cause a similar set of symptoms. A complete blood panel, urinalysis, and survey radiographs are included in the basic workup. These tests may or may not reveal any abnormalities, but are needed before beginning any treatment medications. Also, a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tap, where fluid is collected from the spinal cord canal, is analyzed to confirm the presence of mononuclear cells associated with GME. A CSF tap can rule out other causes of myeloencephalitis such as viral encephalitis (canine distemper), parasitic encephalitis (toxoplasma), fungal encephalitis (Cryptococcus spp.), and congenital encephalitis (breed inherited CNS lesions).

The treatment for GME includes the use of high-dose immuno-suppressive medications like prednisone until the neurological symptoms are controlled. The dosage is gradually tapered until the minimum effective blood level can be achieved (to reduce the chance of side effects). Anti-convulsive medications can be used to help control seizures. Adjunct chemotherapy drugs such as cytosine arabinoside (Cytosar-U) and procarbazine (Matulane) may extend the length of GME remission and improve the patient’s quality of life. These compounds may cause myelosuppression (decreased bone marrow function); therefore, a complete blood count must be carefully monitored for cytopenia (reduced cell numbers) during therapy. Gastrointestinal side effects, i.e. vomiting and diarrhea, may occur as well.

Radiation therapy may be considered for focal GME, but it is not helpful to treat diffuse lesions. Some dogs with a focal lesion may experience complete remission after radiation therapy. Adverse side effects like cataracts or KCS (reduced tear production) are expected if the radiation field must overlap the eyes. Radiation therapy must be performed by a specialist, and a referral will be necessary.

Overall, the prognosis for Granulomatous Myeloencephalitis is guarded to poor. It should be treated aggressively in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

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FIND US

Texas West Animal Health

16367 South FM 4,

Santo, TX 76472

Phone. 940-769-2222

Fax. 866-632-3365

Email. texaswestvet@gmail.com