6 Ways To Prevent Diabetes in Dogs

Canine diabetes is on the rise. According to Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2016 State of Pet Health report, cases of diabetes in dogs have increased by almost 80 percent since 2006.

Unfortunately with dogs, diabetes isn’t always preventable, says Dr. Anthony Ishak, a veterinarian at Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, FL.

“Some dogs are going to get diabetes no matter what you do,” he says. But you may be able to make it easier to manage or reduce the severity of your pup’s symptoms by following these six tips.

Maintain Regular Checkups

Some diseases, including Cushing’s disease and pancreatitis, can increase a dog’s chances of developing diabetes, says Ishak. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for routine checkups and blood tests. Call your vet if you notice a change in your dog’s behavior, appetite, thirst, or urination to ensure it’s not a sign of a bigger problem.

Get Female Dogs Spayed

Intact female dogs are more likely to develop diabetes. After dogs give birth or complete a heat cycle, their progesterone levels surge, says Ishak. These hormone fluctuations can increase a dog’s risk of developing the disease, he says.

Having your female dog spayed will also decrease her risk of developing other conditions that can be associated with high progesterone levels, including pyometra, a uterine infection sometimes accompanied by high blood sugar levels, says Dr. Judy Morgan, a holistic veterinarian and author of natural pet-care books.

Keep Your Dog Active

Exercise can play a role in diabetes prevention and management as it helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduce weight gain. “Dogs need enough exercise to work off the calories they consume, just like people,” says Morgan.

Ishak recommends taking your dog for at least one walk every day. How far you go depends on the dog’s age and health, as well as the weather. As long as it’s not too hot out, a healthy dog should be able to take long walks, he says.

“An owner will get tired long before a dog will,” he says. “Think of wolves in the wild, they run their prey down to ground.”

Buy Quality Dog Food

Speaking of prey, you’ll want to ensure your dog is eating a high protein diet, says Morgan. This will help keep his blood sugar levels more stable than will a diet high in simple carbohydrates.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on dog food, says Ishak. Most mainstream brands offer quality nutrition.

“As long as you’re not buying the cheapest grocery store brand you’re probably doing okay,” he says.

Don’t Overfeed Your Dog

While current research does not reveal a link between obesity and the development of diabetes in dogs, weight control is an important part of disease management should your dog become diabetic. Of course, obesity is associated with a wide range of other health problems, so feeding dogs just the right amount is still incredibly important.

Dogs should generally eat 20 to 30 calories per pound of body weight per day, depending on their size and activity levels, says Morgan.

Go easy on treats and avoid giving them too much “people food,” says Ishak. “If you can’t feel their ribs you’re probably overfeeding them.”

Embrace Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables make great snacks or meal toppers without packing on calories, says Morgan. “The natural sugars in fruits and vegetables do not cause blood sugar spikes,” she says. “If dry kibble is a large part of a dog’s diet, add a topper of ground, gently cooked green vegetables like broccoli, kale, dandelion greens, or collards.”

These ingredients will help boost the food’s fiber content, which can help regulate blood sugar fluctuations, Morgan says

Make sure to consult your veterinarian before adding any fruits or vegetables or making any significant changes to your dog’s diet.

Source: By Helen Anne Travis, PetMD

9 Natural Home Remedies for Your Dog

When your dog is feeling under the weather, your vet should be the first person you call. Seemingly minor symptoms may be indicative of a serious underlying medical condition, in which case do-it-yourself remedies could be ineffective or cause more harm than good.

But if your dog has a minor ailment, such as dry skin or a mild upset stomach, some home remedies can be quite beneficial. Here are nine simple, vet-approved home remedies that can provide relief for your canine companion.

1. Vitamin E Oil for Healthy Skin

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight aging, says Dr. Judy Morgan, a holistic veterinarian based in New Jersey. (Antioxidants prevent free radical damage, which scientists believe contributes to aging.) While your dog couldn’t care less about maintaining her youthful glow, she can still benefit from Vitamin E oil. Morgan says it adds protection against UV radiation, which is especially beneficial if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors.

It can also be used to moisturize your companion’s dry skin. Morgan recommends massaging Vitamin E oil on your dog’s coat. “Vitamin E capsules can also be broken open and used on warts, calluses, or dry spots,” she says, adding that there is no cause for concern if your pet licks off the small amount of the oil.

2. Electrolyte-Replacing Liquids for Diarrhea

Flavorless electrolyte-replacing liquids (such as sports waters or pediatric drinks) not only help athletes to re-hydrate and babies to recover from illness, but also can supply your sick pooch’s body with much-needed fluid and electrolytes if he’s suffering through a bout of diarrhea.

“Dogs lose fluids and electrolytes when they have diarrhea, so offering them a drink that contains both can be appropriate, particularly if their appetite hasn’t fully returned to normal,” says Dr. Jennifer Coates, Veterinary Advisor with petMD.

Consult your veterinarian as to the appropriate dosage before giving these types of liquids to your dog and to determine whether additional treatment is necessary.

3. Yogurt for Dogs

Delicious, plain yogurt can be a healthy treat for your dog. The live probiotic organisms in the yogurt may also help keep the bacteria in your dog’s intestines in balance, but “the canine digestive tract is not the same as ours,” Coates cautions. “There are better options out there that are made specifically for dogs.”

Probiotic supplements for dogs are widely available through veterinarians and over-the-counter. Coates recommends ones that are made by reputable companies and that have the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) seal on the label to ensure that you are purchasing a safe and effective product.

4. Chamomile Tea for Upset Stomach and Minor Irritation

Chamomile soothes the stomach by decreasing muscle spasms and cramps, Morgan says. “It also decreases inflammation of mucous membranes, so it decreases inflammation of the stomach and intestinal lining.” Chamomile tea can be added to your dog’s food or water bowl, or given by mouth with a syringe, she says.

Getting your dog to drink something new is not always easy, however, admits Dr. Patty Khuly, owner of Miami, Florida-based Sunset Animal Clinic. She primarily uses chamomile on dogs with minor rashes and irritations.

Khuly recommends brewing a strong chamomile tea, pouring it into a clean spray bottle, and letting it cool in the refrigerator. “Then, spray liberally onto red or raw skin for an immediate soothing effect—with no sting.”

5. Oatmeal for Itchy Skin

If you’ve had the chicken pox, you may have taken an oatmeal bath to soothe your itchy skin. “Oatmeal contains chemicals called avenanthramides and phenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties,” Morgan explains.

Pets with skin allergies and superficial infections get immediate relief from oatmeal, says Khuly, who is a general veterinary practitioner. “It’s especially helpful for dogs with really itchy feet. Plus, it’s 100 percent non-toxic and delicious, too.”

To create your own remedy, Morgan suggests grinding the oatmeal to a fine powder and mixing it with water to apply as a poultice (drying agent) on hot spots or inflamed areas. If your dog tolerates baths, you can add the oatmeal formula to warm water, and let your dog soak for five to 10 minutes.

6. Epsom Salts for Wounds

You might use magnesium-rich Epsom salts to relieve sore muscles. They have anti-inflammatory properties and are also useful for soaking and cleaning wounds, Morgan says. “They cause abscesses to open and drain, relieving pressure in the wound and allowing healing. We use these a lot for soaking feet of horses and also dogs with inter-digital sores.”

To create a soak for your dog, Morgan advises mixing the Epsom salts with warm water and applying the soak on your dog for five to 10 minutes, three times a day.

7. Oils for Flea Prevention

If you are reluctant to use conventional flea prevention products, you might have looked into natural options. “There are a lot of recipes out there—some good, some bad,” Morgan says. Essential oils can be very effective, she says, “but must be diluted so they do not cause harm to the animal.” (Note: Some oils that are safe for dogs may be toxic for cats. Check the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control for guidance and consult with your veterinarian.)

Morgan likes coconut oil, which you can either give your dog orally or apply externally on his coat. “The higher the lauric acid content in the oil, the more effective it will be,” she says. “Many inferior coconut oils have very low lauric acid content.” Coconut oil can also be used as a carrier oil for essential oils.

After using a flea comb daily to help remove fleas from a dog’s coat, Integrative Veterinarian Dr. Carol Osborne recommends bathing your canine companion with a natural pet flea shampoo. “Start, for example, with a pint of organic oatmeal shampoo, and then add two tablespoons of either neem or tea tree oil, shake well and begin bathing. Pets may be bathed weekly or as needed.” Keep in mind that improper dilutions of tea tree oil and other essential oils can be toxic for pets, so consult with your veterinarian first. And while natural options like these may help repel fleas, they are unlikely to solve a full-blown infestation on their own.

8. Hydrogen Peroxide, Baking Soda, and Dishwashing Liquid for Deodorizing

Aside from the redness, swelling, sneezing, and other symptoms a skunk encounter can create for your dog, is the offensive smell. A de-skunking remedy Khuly suggests is a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dishwashing liquid, which she says works on skunked fur and everything the skunked fur has contact with. Mix four cups of hydrogen peroxide with one-third cup baking soda and a small squirt of dishwashing liquid, and apply it liberally to your pet’s coat, she says. Rinse well after about five minutes and repeat if necessary.

While it’s not the most glamorous topic, this solution also works well for stinky anal glands, Khuly says.

9. Licorice Root for Itchiness

No, this is not the same as the licorice candy you eat. Licorice root is actually a form of cortisone, and cortisone relieves skin irritation and reduces the urge to scratch, says Osborne, who practices in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

You may see bottles of licorice root in stores that sell health products. Pet supply stores also offer licorice products formulated for dogs. Some dog-specific products designed to treat allergy symptoms in dogs may also include licorice root.

If you’ve given your dog a flea bath and dip and she’s still itchy, Osborne suggests the following herbal, home remedy: “Take five drops of licorice root, five drops of dandelion root, and five drops of cat’s claw. Mix all three together and give five drops of the final solution to your canine by mouth, once daily for 14 days in a row.”

“Since cortisone is a type of steroid, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian before giving these products to your dog to prevent any potential cross reactions and/or side effects with any other medications your pet may be taking,” Osborne advises. Also, some licorice root formulations have been associated with low blood potassium levels, muscle breakdown, and kidney damage. Make sure you are working with a veterinarian who is well-trained in holistic medicine before you reach for any herbal remedy.

Baking soda, dishwashing liquid, hydrogen peroxide, and chamomile tea are a few items you may keep in your home that can also double as home remedies for your dog. Remember to first talk to your vet about any unusual symptoms your dog has and whether these products are appropriate for her situation. Taking away your canine companion’s discomfort may already be well within your reach.

Why Do My Dog’s Ears Smell Bad?

Dogs bring a lot of joy into our homes, but they also bring an array of odors to contend with. We’re used to many of them, from bad breath and “Frito feet” to farts and wet dog smell. But what about a funky smell coming from a dog’s ears? While not as notably or frequently smelly as their mouths and rear ends, dogs’ ears can sometimes get a little stinky. Fortunately, the typical causes of smelly ears are relatively benign, and the fixes are pretty easy.

Causes of Smelly Ears in Dogs

 Dirty Ears

“Not all odors are pathologic,” says Dr. Christine Cain, the section chief of dermatology and allergy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “Dead skin cells and other things that occur naturally in the ear and ear wax can create an odor.” The scent might not be pleasant, but it’s normal and doesn’t signal any larger problems. It also usually dissipates on its own. “Dogs’ ears mostly clean themselves,” says Cain, and their self-cleaning mechanism will regularly push wax out of the canal, keeping the odor to a minimum.

However, the smell can sometimes be more noticeable in some breeds or individual dogs, due to a few different factors. Very long and/or narrow ears canals, a lot of ear hair, or exposure to water from regular swimming or bathing can all make it harder for the ears to push wax out of the ear canal, says Dr. Dunbar Gram, a veterinarian and professor of dermatology at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. In these cases, ear wax and other detritus can build up, making for a more potent smell.

If your dog’s ears look normal and don’t display any symptoms other than an odor, Cain says, then they’re probably fine and just need a little cleaning. “If the self-cleaning isn’t keeping up, dogs are less susceptible to irritation from assisted ear cleaning than cats, and vets can recommend an over-the-counter cleaning product,” Cain says. She suggests staying away from homemade cleaner recipes available on the Internet since they may contain irritating substances like alcohol or vinegar.

Ear Infections

“Ear infections are the number one cause of bad ear odors, the vast majority from bacteria or yeast,” says Gram. “Certain types of bacteria and yeast are normal in small numbers, but they can take advantage of certain conditions and grow into an infection.”

Both Gram and Cain caution against trying to diagnose or treat an ear infection at home. Cain says that while some people claim they can tell an ear infection by a “yeasty” or “moldy” smell, going by a certain type of odor isn’t all that accurate. Instead, she recommends checking for symptoms like redness, itchiness, discharge, excess wax, and an especially “strong and stinky” odor as cues to go to the vet for an evaluation. Gram adds that most ear infections are bilateral (in both ears), and other symptoms to look for include a dog frequently shaking his head and scratching at his ears, rubbing his ears on carpets and other surfaces, and general signs of “not feeling well,” such as disinterest in food or play.

If an ear infection is present, your veterinarian has the tools and training to treat it. “The infection could be one of several kinds of bacteria—including StaphylococcusPseudomonas, or E. coli—with different treatment needs,” Gram says. “A vet can identify the bacteria and make sure the infection hasn’t compromised the eardrum or moved to the middle ear.”

He recommends following up with your vet after the initial treatment, too. “While things might look normal on the outside and the smell has gone away, your vet can tell you how things look internally, make sure the underlying disease is gone, and that the bacteria was not resistant to the medicine that was used,” he says. “And if ear infections are recurring, they can also determine the underlying cause and address it before repeated infections lead to other problems.”

Parasites, environmental or food allergies, and growths (polyps or cancers) in the ear canals can all cause chronic ear infections.

Mystery Smells

Sometimes, a stink that seems to be coming from the ears might actually have another source. Cain has heard from colleagues about a few cases where people brought their dogs to the hospital concerned about an ear odor, and after examination, the vets determined that the cause of the smell was just a well-worn, stinky collar. If you’re on the fence about making a vet appointment, she says the strength of an odor can help guide the decision. “The stinkiest ears are associated with bacteria,” she says. “If you can smell the ear across the room, definitely see your vet.”

Source: Matt Soniak PetMD.com

Grains in Dog Food: What You Need to Know

In the human world, eliminating grains from the diet has been credited with everything from reducing belly fat, to improving skin tone, to alleviating the symptoms of depression.

But what about our pets? Could reducing grain intake also improve our dogs’ health and quality of life?

Why Are Grains Used In Dog Food?

Grains are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, says Dr. Jennifer Adolphe, a PhD pet nutritionist for the pet food brand Petcurean. They provide carbohydrates, and help dry pet food maintain its shape and crunch.

“They aren’t just filler,” says Dr. Susan G. Wynn, veterinary nutritionist at BluePearl Georgia Veterinary Specialists.

Traditionally, wheat and corn have been the go-to grains for commercial dog food manufacturers. But in recent years, there’s been an increase in what Adolphe calls “novel grains.” These include barley, oats and rye.

Other brands are dropping grains entirely and manufacturing grain-free dog food—opting instead for ingredients like sweet potatoes, peas and beans.

Is One Grain Better Than Another?

Each grain has its own unique nutritional profile, says Adolphe, and it’s important to work with your veterinarian to find the food ingredients that work best for your dog.

“No one diet works for every single pet,” she explains. “It’s great to have lots of different options.”

No matter which grain you choose, both doctors agreed that whole grains, which contain all parts of the plant, are best.

“I like the complexity of whole grains,” says Wynn. “They’re as unprocessed as you can get.”

Scan your dog food’s ingredient list for items like “whole oats” or “whole wheat.” If you see “soy mill run,” “wheat middlings,” and/or “wheat mill run,” you’re dealing with a brand that uses grain fractions.

These contain only part of the plant. They’re not necessarily bad, Wynn says, they’re just incomplete.

“Many conventional nutritionists will tell you there’s no advantage to whole grains compared to grain fractions, as long as you understand what the ingredients are,” she says. “But I prefer whole grains; that’s a bias.”

What About Grain-Free Dog Food?

As grain and gluten-free diets gain popularity among humans, dog food manufacturers are keeping up with the trend, churning out brands that use items like potatoes, peas, and lentils in lieu of wheat, oats, and barley.

Like grains, these ingredients also have unique nutritional benefits. Sweet potatoes are a rich source of beta carotene. Adolphe says she noticed some weight management benefits to peas in her PhD research.

But the trends promoting the popularity of grain-free diets among humans—namely the continued discovery of food sensitivities and intolerance’s, and the benefits perceived from eating only the unprocessed foods available to our ancestors—don’t necessarily hold up for our pets.

While up to 18 million Americans are sensitive to gluten, an ingredient found in many grain-based products, the condition is extremely rare among our pets.

Protein allergies are more common in dogs and cats, says Wynn.

And applying the principles of the Paleo Diet to your pets may not be the best option, according to Wynne. Since dogs today don’t have the same habits and lifestyles as their wolf ancestors, high-fat and high-meat diets aren’t as necessary as they would have been in the wild. “Today, most of our pets are not working hard enough to tolerate that energy density,” says Wynn.

Should You Feed Your Dog a Grain-Free Diet?

If you think your dog would fare better on a grain free or “novel grain” diet, talk to your vet. He or she might take the same stance as the doctors we spoke to, who agreed: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

“If your dog’s doing really well on his current diet, I wouldn’t change it,” says Dr. Adolphe. “My motto is all foods fit, it’s just figuring out which works best for your individual pet.”

Source: By Helen Anne Travis

7 Causes of Weight Loss In Pets

Sudden Weight Loss in Pets

While controlled weight loss, planned in conjunction with a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist, is incredibly beneficial for pets that are overweight, there are certain forms of weight loss in animals that can be concerning.

“If a patient is on a weight loss plan for obesity, vets generally recommend about one to two percent loss of body weight per week,” says Lara Bartl, DVM, DABVP, assistant professor at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech University, but unless you are trying to achieve weight loss, she adds, any weight loss should be considered significant and investigated.

Unplanned or rapid weight loss may be symptomatic of something serious. Here are the most common reasons for unwanted weight loss in pets:

Parasites

Cailin Heinze, assistant professor of nutrition at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, says cases of weight loss related to parasites aren’t as common as they once were because many pets are on monthly heart worm protection drugs. However, not all products are equally effective against all worms.

“Whip worms, in particular, aren’t killed by a lot of products,” she says. These are more common in dogs than in cats and pets will contract these by ingesting contaminated food or water. Along with weight loss, symptoms of an intestinal parasite in pets can include include vomiting (intermittent or persistent), soft stool, diarrhea and/or decreased appetite. Using a broad spectrum de-wormer, Heinze says, is one of the first things vets might do to help a dog with these symptoms.

Cancer

Intestinal cancer (lymphoma and/or lymphosarcoma) is one that causes weight loss in both dogs and cats, Heinze says. While it’s more common in older dogs than cats, it’s a serious diagnosis. The tumor may appear in the stomach, intestines, or rectum and other symptoms include vomiting, poor appetite, and abdominal pain. Additionally, any type of cancerous process can cause weight loss, including cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, gallbladder and kidneys.

Unlike some of the other conditions for which weight loss is a symptom, pets with kidney disease won’t start dropping pounds right away. “If they’re only getting diagnosed after they’ve started losing weight, they’ve probably had the disease for a long time,” Heinze says.

The same is true for hyperthyroidism, a disease for which weight loss is a symptom in cats but not dogs, Heinze says. The difference: pets with kidney disease will drink and urinate a lot, while cats with hyperthyroidism eat to excess and have excessive thirst (polyuria).

Advanced Heart Disease

Like kidney disease, pets with heart disease won’t start losing weight immediately. In fact, some dogs may gain weight, despite a loss of appetite (the cause: bloat).

Generally speaking, Heinze says loss of appetite is the easiest way to tell if your pet’s weight loss is concerning or not. If you’ve noticed a small amount of unplanned weight loss, try adding calories to their diet, she says. “If they eat more and gain weight, they’re probably OK.”

In addition, make sure you’ve isolated that pet’s food from the food of other pets in the house. The experiment must be controlled, which also means vigilance against feeding table scraps or too many treats.

Dental Disease

Oral pain, Bartl says, may lead to weight loss in pets, as dogs and cats will have a hard time chewing hard kibble when they’re dealing with an abscess or other gum problem. Treatment for the underlying condition should address the weight loss problem, but monitor your pet’s appetite closely to make sure it’s back on track.

Changing Food

Not all cases of seemingly inexplicable weight loss are explained by a disease or a condition. Heinze says one of the most common explanations for weight loss is changing your pet’s food.

“I have had people come to me because their dog is losing weight. They had a complete work-up done and no one could find anything wrong,” she says. “It turns out the dog’s food was changed. The owners were feeding it the same amount every day, but the new food had 20 percent fewer calories.”

Heinze says it’s easy to miss this because foods are marketed in seemingly haphazard ways when it comes to nutrition. “Sometimes, a food that is marketed for overweight pets – it might say ‘healthy weight’ or ‘weight maintenance’ or ‘reduced calorie’ – might have more calories than ‘regular’ food,” she says.

If you plan to change your pet’s food, check the ingredient labels of both brands and make the swap based on calories. Heinze says that if you’re looking for food that’s truly meant to help your dog lose weight, look for the word “light” on the label.

Stress

This is not as common as medical causes, Bartl says, but stress can cause changes in a pet’s appetite and should not be overlooked. She lists changes in the household and the addition of a new pet as possible sources of stress-induced weight loss.

 

Source: PetMD

What to Do When Your Dog’s Eyes Are Red

A dog’s eyes function a lot like our own. When normal and healthy, a dog’s eyes will take in light and transform it into images, like a food bowl or favorite toy. If those eyes become red and irritated, though, they can cause major discomfort and possibly not function very well. If your dog’s eyes are red, it will be important for you to know what’s causing the redness and what you can do to treat your dog’s eyes.

Causes of Red Eyes in Dogs

Dogs’ eyes can become red for a number of reasons. Common causes include:

  1. Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis sicca): Dry eye occurs when the eyes don’t produce enough tear film. Without tears to keep the cornea moist and free from debris or infectious agents, the cornea becomes dry and inflamed. This inflammation is quite painful and makes the eyes look red. Dry eye has many causes, the most common of which is immune-mediated adenitis, which damages tissue responsible for forming the watery portion of tear film.
  2. Pink eye (Conjunctivitis)Pink eye occurs when the conjunctiva—the moist, pink tissue that lines the inner eyelids and front of the eyes—becomes inflamed. This inflammation causes redness. Environmental irritants like dust and pollen can cause pink eye.
  3. Cherry eye: Dogs have a third eyelid that normally stays hidden. Some dogs have a genetic disorder that weakens the ligaments holding this eyelid in place, causing the eyelid to pop up and look like a cherry in the inner corner of the eye.
  4. Corneal damage: Anything that can damage a dog’s cornea can cause eye redness. For example, if your dog is running through tall grass, a grass stalk can poke your dog’s eye and cause damage and irritation.

Other Eye Symptoms

Along with redness, you might notice some other eye symptoms:

  • Squinting
  • Mucus discharge
  • Excessive blinking
  • Swollen conjunctiva
  • Constant eye rubbing
  • Increased eye-watering
  • Corneal scratches or scars
  • A foreign object stuck in the eye
  • Green or yellow discharge, indicating infection

What to Do About Eye Problems in Dogs

Eye problems in dogs are not always an emergency but do require prompt attention. If your dog’s eyes are red, call your veterinarian and try to schedule an appointment for that same day. When you schedule the appointment, provide a brief history of the redness, including when the redness started and what other symptoms you see.

Do not try to diagnose and treat the eye redness yourself. Your veterinarian has the expertise and equipment needed to properly examine your dog’s eyes and determine what’s causing the redness.

Also, do not delay taking your dog to the veterinarian. Eye problems can progress to something more serious—and possibly painful—if not treated promptly. The sooner your dog can be seen by your veterinarian, the better.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your veterinarian will conduct a detailed eye exam, during which she will identify which parts of your dog’s eyes are red. If your vet suspects corneal damage, she will add a few drops of a fluorescent green dye on the cornea to see if there are any corneal scars or scratches.

If dry eye is a possibility, your vet will perform what’s called a Schirmer tear test to estimate the level of tear production. She may also take a small sample of watery fluid from your dog’s eyes to determine if there is an underlying bacterial infection.

Your veterinarian will recommend treatments according to what’s causing the eye redness. For example, if your dog has dry eye, your veterinarian will prescribe medications like cyclosporine, which stimulates tear production, or artificial tears. If your dog has cherry eye, your veterinarian will surgically anchor the third eyelid into place. Other treatments include anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics.

Eye medications are typically formulated as ointments or eye drops. Before you leave your appointment, make sure you understand how to properly administer the medications that your dog will need. If you have not given your dog topical eye medications before, ask your vet to demonstrate how to do so.

Keep in mind that not all dogs like receiving eye drops or eye ointments. You may need to be patient with your dog and allow extra time to give the medications.

Living and Management

How you manage your dog’s eyes after initial treatment will depend on what caused the redness. With dry eye, for example, you will need to regularly administer the topical eye medications, clean your dog’s eyes with a prescribed eye wash, and take your dog to followup appointments every six to 12 months.

If dust and pollen are irritating your dog’s eyes, then your vet may recommend that you frequently dust your home or limit your dog’s time outside when the pollen count is high. Cherry eye can recur after surgical treatment, so you will need to monitor if your dog’s third eyelid pops up again.

Your veterinarian will help you determine which management strategy will work best to prevent future eye redness.

Source:Pet MD  JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

What Your Pet’s Urine Says About His Health

Most urban and suburban pet parents are very familiar with the details of their pets’ feces because they have to scoop it daily on walks. A dog’s urine, however, is often harder to keep track of because it quickly disappears into the grass or dirt. But sometimes you may notice changes in the color or odor of your dog’s urine. For cats, of course, monitoring the litter box is key to noticing any changes.

The most important thing to remember is that in order to notice a change, you should first make yourself familiar with the characteristics of your pet’s urine while he or she is healthy. A change from whatever is normal for your pet may indicate a change in his or her health.

If you do notice a change, try to catch a sample from your dog in a clean disposable container and bring it to your veterinarian’s office. Even if you can’t schedule an appointment for a few days, you can start to diagnose the problem and hopefully resolve it. Cats must usually be brought into the clinic where a sample can be collected, although there are some non-absorbent litters that are designed for collecting urine samples at home. Ideally, urine should be delivered fresh to your veterinary clinic within one hour or refrigerated.

Characteristics of Your Pet’s Urine

Color

Clear: This either means that your pet is well hydrated or it’s a sign that he or she is unable to concentrate urine. There are many reasons that pets cannot concentrate their urine. If you are concerned that your pet’s urine may not be concentrated, the best sample to bring to your veterinarian is their first morning urine. It tends to be the most concentrated sample of the day.

Yellow: This may indicate concentrated urine, in which case your dog or cat should be encouraged to drink more water. Flowing water fountains may increase water intake. Some pets prefer to drink out of cups rather than bowls and others prefer glass to metal.

*Note: Clear urine is not necessarily dilute nor is yellow urine necessarily concentrated. But it is a good first guideline.

Red, Brown, or Orange: This may indicate blood in the urine. Some medications may also give urine an orange or red tint. In dogs, blood in urine is most likely due to an infection or bladder stones. Cats may also develop bloody urine in response to stress. Animals prone to developing bloody urine may have an underlying disease that can be addressed with something as simple as a change in diet. This is definitely one urine change worth talking to your veterinarian about.

Odor

Any change in odor should be a reason to have your pet’s urine analyzed by a veterinarian. Foul smelling urine is often an indicator of infection. Concentrated urine will have a stronger smell.

Clarity

Cloudy urine can indicate an infection, bladder crystals, or stones. It could also indicate protein in the urine.

Quantity

If your pet starts urinating a much larger quantity (or the same quantity more frequently), that may indicate the kidneys are not doing their job to concentrate urine. This could be due to kidney disease or a hormonal influence on the kidneys. Either way, your veterinarian can help you manage or resolve the problem.

Frequency

Changes in frequency, stream, posturing without urinating, increased licking after urinating, or staining around the vulva or prepuce can all indicate a problem. See your veterinarian as soon as possible. For cats, visiting the litter box more frequently could be the most clear sign that something is wrong.

No Urine

If your pet does not urinate for 24 hours, it’s a medical emergency. There may be a blockage preventing urine from flowing into or out of the bladder. This is more common in cats than dogs, especially male cats. If you think your cat may be unable to urinate, rush to your veterinarian or the nearest emergency clinic.

Multi-Cat Households

If you have more than one cat using the same litter box, it can be hard to determine which one is having an issue. If one cat shows other signs, such as more time at the water bowl or less interest in food, that can help narrow it down.

There are some litters that claim to change color in response to changes in your cat’s urine. While these are great in theory, they are not always reliable.

Monitoring Your Pet’s Urine

Urine is a very valuable indicator of health in pets. It is part of the set of information that your veterinarian will want to analyze if your pet is sick. Performing a urine analysis at the same time as a blood analysis yields the most information because they are complementary—changes in one can often explain changes in the other. But these checks on internal body health aren’t just useful if your pet is sick. Knowing what is normal for your pet by analyzing urine and blood while they are healthy can make those sick tests even more valuable.

Monitoring your pet’s urine can offer valuable insight into his or her health. Taking note of changes and reporting them to your veterinarian will help your pet stay healthy.

By Hanie Elfenbein, DVM

9 Signs Your Pet Is Jealous (and How to Stop It)

Sometimes our pets behave in a way that suggests they are jealous. When we bend down to pet another dog, our pup may shove his way in front of us, knocking our hand away from his canine companion. A cat may excessively meow when you’re not paying attention to him, or a dog may annoyingly whine when another pet in the house gets a treat and he doesn’t. But are these actually jealous behaviors? Experts disagree.

“Pets don’t experience jealousy in the true sense of the word,” says Katenna Jones, associate applied animal behaviorist and owner of Jones Animal Behavior in Warwick, Rhode Island. “What you are most likely seeing your pet exhibit is assertive, pushy, or rude behavior—e.g., the pet that bulldozes other pets out of the way—or social hierarchy, where a higher-ranking pet displaces another pet.”

On the other hand, a recent study found that dogs “exhibited significantly more jealous behaviors (e.g., snapping, getting between the owner and object, pushing/touching the object/owner) when their owners displayed affectionate behaviors towards what appeared to be another dog [an animatronic toy that moved and vocalized] as compared to nonsocial objects [a children’s book and a plastic jack-o’-lantern].”

Suzanne Hetts, applied animal behaviorist and co-owner of Animal Behavior Associates in Littleton, Colorado, concludes the jury is out on whether a pet feels the same type of jealous feelings that humans do. When a pet is determined to get your attention or his favorite toy back, “We have no idea whether a pet’s emotional state is equivalent to what people label as jealousy,” she explains. “In most cases, this is better described as a competitive situation where the pet is competing with another individual—human, dog, cat, or otherwise—for something it wants.”

Jealous-Like Behaviors in Pets

Regardless of what you call it, this type of behavior is often unwanted or unhealthy. Here are some jealous-like behaviors that pet parents should be on the lookout for:

  1. Aggression. “This can often be in the form of biting or nibbling of the animal or person getting attention over them,” says Dr. Scarlett Magda, founding president of New York City-based Veterinarians International.
  2. Going to the bathroom indoors. “Our pets can’t express their thoughts and feelings in words, so instead, they sometimes express their feelings in actions,” says Dr. Geoffrey Broderick, a veterinarian in Huntington, New York. “If you see them peeing or pooping in places where they shouldn’t, they may be trying to tell you something.”
  3. Paying extra attention to their owner. According to Broderick, this can come across as a pet cuddling up extra close to you and suddenly licking your hand or face. “This is a sign of affection and they are trying to get your attention,” he says.
  4. Pushy behavior. Magda notes that this often comes in the form of a pet “inhibiting another person or animal from moving freely on a regular basis or pushing their way into a situation demanding the attention of their owner.”
  5. Growling, hissing, or getting into a fight with another pet. This may especially be an issue in a multi-pet household where pets are competing for their owner’s attention and resources, Broderick points out.
  6. Trying to scare off strangers. “Pets may aggressively bark, hiss, or growl when owners are greeted or visitors arrive,” Magda says.
  7. Doing a trick. According to Broderick, this is a surefire sign that your pet is trying to get your attention.
  8. Crowding your space. “Cats sometimes will lie down on your work table or sit on your computer keyboard to get attention or even start knocking things off the table,” Broderick says. “A dog may sit up and beg to try and get your attention or sit up on their hind legs.”
  9. Leaving the room. Sometimes when our pets get mad, they may have a tendency to withdraw, Broderick says.

What Causes Jealous-Like Behaviors in Pets?

According to experts, jealous-like behaviors in pets typically suggest boredom or a ploy for attention from their owners. “Sometimes, just like people, they can feel insecure,” Broderick explains. “They need individual attention, lots of cuddling, and activities to keep them busy and to keep them from being bored. Sometimes, our pets just want us and they don’t want to share us with another pet or person.”

In circumstances like this, here’s what could be going through your pet’s head: “I see you doing something. You look happy. I want that,” Jones says. A lack of resources (only one toy for multiple pets), social conflict, too small of a space, stress, lack of exercise, and genetic disposition can cause jealous-like behavior, she adds.

Magda advises pet owners to pay close attention if one pet or family member is receiving more attention than another, a new pet or family member has arrived in the household, or there is inequality in the amount of food or treats between pets.

How to Stop Jealous Behavior in Pets

Here are some of Magda’s tips for nipping this type of behavior in the bud, before it gets out of control:

  • Keep a diary to record circumstances that cause signs of jealousy/aggression to occur, so you know what to look for. This can also be helpful for behaviors that you cannot manage on your own, as you can share the list with your vet or a professional animal behaviorist.
  • Avoid giving too much attention to one pet versus another.
  • Train dogs to feel safe in their crate so they can feel relaxed during their “time out” period. Give cats a space to call their own as well.
  • Feed pets separately to avoid conflict during mealtimes.
  • Ignore your pets when you arrive home so they don’t feel like one is getting more attention than the other. The level of emotional excitement will diminish, preventing signs of aggression from occurring.
  • Put leashes on both dogs when walking two at a time and consider a gentle leader for better control.
  • Don’t pet one animal at the expense of the other.
  • Have at least two of all toys and beds but remove food-based toys unless supervised.
  • Catch your pets being good. Give them attention and praise when they are acting the way you want them too.

Managing unwanted behaviors and keeping our pets mentally healthy are keys to avoiding unpleasant situations down the line, Broderick says. “As pet parents, we need to attend to their physical and emotional needs, just like we do for our human children,” he says. “Our pets just want to feel loved.”

By Nicole Pajer, PetMD

When Your Dog Can’t Stop Coughing

It’s normal for your dog to cough every now and then. It’s part of everyday life for an animal that can sniff 4 to 6 times per second. But if your dog does it a lot or can’t seem to stop, you may have a sick pup, and he may need treatment.

What’s Behind the Cough?

Like us, dogs cough to get rid of dust, germs, and other stuff they breathe in.

Also like us, they sometimes get infections or viruses.

Dogs are social creatures that naturally sniff and slurp. This is why bacteria and viruses – including a canine form of the flu — quickly spread from dog to dog. Germs also can land on floors, furniture, food bowls, toys, and other surfaces where the next dog to come along picks them up.

A dog may be coughing because of:

  • Kennel cough. Kennel cough is the common name for a deep, honking canine cough. Is your dog having bouts of hacking, followed by gagging? Think back a week or so. Was he at the groomer, dog park, obedience class, shelter, or playground? Chances are, he was around another sick dog. Kennel cough is highly contagious, but it’s not a serious problem on its own. As long as your dog is eating well and acting like himself, he’ll probably feel better in a week or so. Your vet should make sure that he doesn’t need antibiotics or cough suppressants.
  • Fungal infections. Yeast and other fungi can be picked up in dirt or through the air. There are prescription medications that can help.
  • Heart Worms. Mosquitoes spread this disease. Monthly medication or an injection that lasts 6 months can prevent it. Treatment is hard on your pet, and expensive.
  • Distemper. This virus spreads through the air. It’s serious but can be prevented with a vaccine.
  • Heart disease. Leaky valves and other problems can weaken and thicken the heart muscle. This puts pressure on the lungs and airways. Medication along with the right diet and exercise can bring relief.
  • Congestive heart failure. Fluid in the lungs can cause coughing.Lung problems Sometimes dogs get bronchitis or pneumonia. They also may suck in dirt, grass seeds, or food, which can lead to an infection of the airways. Antibiotics can help. In rare cases, lung cancer is the diagnosis. Your vet will help you decide if medication or surgery is the best course.

When to See the Vet

Make an appointment with your dog’s doctor if:

  • His cough lasts more than a week, or worsens
  • He seems extra tired
  • He has a fever
  • He won’t eat
  • He has other health problems

Your vet may ask you some questions like:

  • Does your dog have trouble breathing between coughing fits?
  • When does he do it? (At night? After eating? After drinking water? After exercise? When he’s excited?)
  • What does it sound like? (A goose? A seal?)
  • Is the cough dry or moist?
  • Does it sound like he’s about to vomit?
  • Where has your dog been lately? (In a place with other dogs? With you on a family vacation? Around a smoker?)
  • Have there been any changes to his daily routine?
  • Is he up-to-date on his shots, and heartworm prevention?
  • When did he last take his medication?

Your vet will examine your dog and run tests to find out if the problem is due to a virus, an infection, an allergy, or a different problem. The treatment will depend on the cause.

Puppy Love

Just like any other sick member of the family, your dog deserves a little TLC until his cough clears. Make sure he has plenty of water, healthy dog food, and rest. Steer clear if he wants to be alone. Tell kids to let sleeping dogs lie, and keep him away from other dogs until he’s well.

Dogs and Compulsive Scratching, Licking, and Chewing

Are you going crazy listening to your dog scratching his ears all night long? Have you about had it with your dog licking her paw nonstop? At your wit’s end over your dog biting his own tail?

If you think you’re uncomfortable, imagine how your dog feels.

Compulsive scratching, licking, and chewing behaviors are quite common in dogs and have a variety of causes. They can also be harmful. One of the first signs your dog has a problem might be the development of a “hot spot” — a red, wet, irritated area that arises from persistent chewing, licking, scratching or rubbing. Although hot spots, or “acute moist dermatitis,” can occur anywhere on your dog’s body, they are most often found on the head, chest, or hips. Because dogs often incessantly scratch, lick, or bite at an area once it becomes irritated, hot spots can become large and incredibly sore rather quickly.

Reasons Why Dogs Compulsively Scratch, Lick, or Chew

Dogs scratch, lick, or chew for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from allergies to boredom to parasite infestation:

  • Allergies. When dog scratching gets out of hand, it is often the result of allergies to food or environmental triggers, including mold and pollen. Dogs may also develop a skin  irritation called contact dermatitis when they encounter substances like pesticides or soap.
  • Boredom or anxiety . Just as people with anxiety might bite their nails or twirl their hair, dogs can have physical responses to psychological upset, too. In fact, some dogs develop a condition akin to human obsessive-compulsive disorder. It can manifest itself in scratching, licking, or chewing behaviors that can cause severe damage.
  • Dry skin. A variety of factors, including winter weather and fatty acid deficiencies, can cause dry skin in dogs. Your pet may respond to the discomfort by scratching or licking at her skin or fur.
  • Hormonal imbalances. If your dog’s body is not producing enough thyroid hormone or putting out too much cortisol, superficial skin infections can occur. You may notice bald spots, and your dog may scratch or lick as if bothered by allergies.
  • Pain. When trying to determine why your dog is licking or chewing excessively, be sure to consider the possibility that something is making him physically uncomfortable. For instance, if you notice your dog biting his paw repeatedly, he could have a thorn or sharp stone stuck in his foot pad. Compulsive chewing or licking can also be a response to orthopedic problems, including arthritis and hip dysplasia.
  • Parasites. Among the most common causes for compulsive dog licking, chewing, or scratching behaviors are fleas, ticks, and mites. Although ticks are often visible to the naked eye, fleas often go unseen until there is a large infestation, and mites are microscopic. So don’t assume that your dog isn’t suffering from parasites just because you can’t see them.
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