Pet Health Tips: Dogs

First Aid Tips on Bee Stings

What can you expect to see?

In most cases, mild swelling, reddening and itching. Even if your dog appears to be fine, please watch him/her carefully for the next 24 hours. Remember that some dogs can have serious, sometimes lifethreatening allergic reactions.

When should you seek help?

If swelling is around the mouth area, the swelling gets huge in 5-10 minutes, the pet is having difficulty breathing, lethargic or collapsing. If you are concerned at all, contact your veterinarian!

What can “I” do to help in mild cases?

  1. Carefully remove the stinger with tweezers.
  2. Apply some baking soda and water to the area.*
  3. Apply cool compresses without applying too much pressure to relieve swelling and pain .

What should I not do?

Please do not give any medications before consulting your veterinarian first.

What if you know your dog is allergic to bee stings?

Give a tablet of Benadryl and call your veterinarian immediately. The typical dose is as following by size of the dog:

  • Under 30 lbs: 10 mg
  • 30~50 lbs: 25 mg
  • Over 50 lbs: 50 mg

Are you sure it was a bee sting, not a wasp sting?

Bee stings are acidic, so baking soda will neutralize the venom. However, a wasp sting is alkalinic, so you can worsen the problem if you treat it with baking soda.

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Care and Management of the Neonate puppy

Initial care after birth:

  1. Establish a clear airway and stimulate respiration. It is essential that a clear airway is established as soon as the fetus has been delivered. This involves removal of the surrounding fetal membranes and clearing the mouth and nose of fetal fluid using a dry towel. Gentle compression of the chest usually results in the establishment of respiratory effort. Respiratory stimulation should be continued by rubbing the thorax.
  2. Cut the umbilicus. The umbilicus should be cut approximately 3 cm from the fetal abdomen. Excessive bleeding can be prevented by the application of a ligature (tying off).
  3. Keep the neonate puppy warm until active. Once the puppy begins maintaining regular breathing on its own, the puppy may be placed into a pre-warmed box until it is active.
  4. Encourage the puppy to suckle. Suckling normally occurs immediately after birth and at intervals of 2 to 3 hours for the first few days.
  5. Hypothermia is a major cause of puppy mortality. The environmental temperature is critical. Recommended temperature is 77-86 degree for the first few days. Under-floor heating is ideal but properly protected hot-water bottles or circulating water blankets provide good alternatives.

Pups should be carefully examined after birth:

  • Body weight should be recorded daily. Normal puppies increase in body weight by 5-10% per day; a failure to achieve this rate may indicate ill health.
  • The umbilicus should be clean and there should be no evidence of herniation.
  • Respiration should be regular and without excessive noise. The normal respiratory rate is 15-40 breaths per minute.
  • There should be no discharge from eyes and ears.
  • The rectal temperature need not be recorded but the normal range in the first week after birth is 90-94 degree.

Neonatal pups are unable to stand at birth but they should be quite mobile, using their limbs to crawl. Standing may be seen from 10 days after the birth and most puppies should be able to walk at 3 weeks of age. Pups are born with their eyes closed. Separation of the upper and lower lids and opening of the eyes occurs approximately 10-14 days after birth. The cornea at this stage may appear slightly cloudy but this will disappear over the first 4 weeks.

In the first few weeks of life the dam will provide all the care for her offspring, as long as the environment is kept clean and dry. The most common choices of bedding material include shredded paper, newspaper with blankets, or newspaper with synthetic rugs. Materials should be washable or easily disposed of, and soiled material should be removed frequently. The dam normally licks the perineal region of each puppy to stimulate urination and defecation and she continues to do so for the first 2-3 weeks after birth. Pups defecate and urinate voluntarily at 3 weeks of age and at this time soiling of the bedding increases, so that regular changing of the bedding is necessary. Ideally, pups should be encouraged to soil an area away from the nest as early as possible, to facilitate cleaning and to hasten house training.

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Demodex

Demodex mites are cigar-shaped creatures that can live in the hair follicles of dogs, but are not transmittable to people. Normal animals may have occasional Demodex mites filling their hair follicles, but if an animal has increased numbers and is demonstrating dermatologic clinical signs, it may have a condition called Demodicosis. An animal suffering from this condition may be losing hair in affected areas and can get red bumps if there is also secondary bacterial colonization. This is not an intensely itchy situation for a dog, but they may scratch at themselves a little bit. If scratching does occur, any lesions that they cause to their skin may make it more likely for normal bacteria living on the skin to gain access to areas where they can cause more of a problem (like red bumps or pimple-type lesions). Any dog with hair loss should be taken to a veterinarian. Although there are many causes of hair loss, one thing that he/she will test for will be Demodex mites. A small area of hair may be trimmed so that a blunted blade can be scraped along the skin. The sample obtained by doing this will be evaluated under a microscope to look for the mites. If your veterinarian finds that your animal suffers from this condition, treatments that may be suggested include weekly miticidal baths and/or daily oral miticidal medication. It will also be important to do a good physical examination and general health work-up since things that may predispose an animal to Demodicosis are internal parasitism, poor nutrition, steroid administration, bacterial disease, fungal disease, skin hypersensitivity, and some autoimmune conditions. It is also important to spay any female dog with a Demodex problem since she may have flare-ups when she comes into heat. Plus, these dogs should not be used for breeding purposes since susceptibility to Demodicosis has a hereditary component.

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How to “Deskunk” Your Dog

There are few smells as unpleasant as a dog that has been sprayed by a skunk. The following tips are to help give your nose (and your dog’s) some relief.

  1. Check your dog’s eyes. Skunk spray is irritating and can cause your dog’s eyes to become irritated. If you notice your dog’s eyes are red or watering, rinse then with some eyewash solution (the type used for people is fine).
  2. Wash your dog well (preferably before bringing him inside the house). The following Remedies have been used with success.
    • Tomato juice – This tried and true remedy is an old favorite. Suds your dog in shampoo and dry him off then douse him in tomato juice. Make sure you saturate the coat and let it soak for 10 to 20 minutes. Then rinse off the juice and wash again with the regular shampoo. You may have to repeat these steps several times. Be warned however that a white dog may be temporarily orange after this procedure.
    • Skunk Off – This is a product you can obtain from your veterinarian that works very well to remove the skunk odor.
    • Massengill – For small to medium pets use two ounces of Massengill douche with one gallon of water. For large dogs, you’ll want to double the amount of water and Massengill. Pour the mixture over the dog until it is thoroughly soaked, wait 15 minutes and then rinse. Follow with a bath using the dog’s regular shampoo.
    • Chemistry concoction – You can make your own deskunking formula by mixing 1/4 cup of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of liquid soap in a quart of hydrogen peroxide. Work the solution into your dog’s coat well and then rinse.

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Treatment of Dietary Indiscretion in the Dog

What is dietary indiscretion?

Dogs are known to ingest various different foods, plants and/or bugs. Any of these things may not settle well within the gastrointestinal tract and cause irritation that results in vomiting and diarrhea. Most commonly dietary indiscretion is the result of pets getting into the garbage and eating bones, corncobs, aluminum foil or other things that may be difficult for your dog to digest.

How do I deal with diarrhea from dietary indiscretion?

Dogs that have a quick onset of diarrhea without previous history of underlying disease commonly have dietary indiscetion. Food should be withheld for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours if necessary. This will allow time for the gastrointestinal tract to rest and allow passage of non-digestible/ irritating substance. Over the next three to four days a bland diet should be fed. Small amounts of this bland diet should be fed several times a day to help limit the amount of acid that is secreted at each meal, thus decreasing the amount of further irritation. Also small volumes of food produce less nausea. If diarrhea persists for greater than 3 days with no improvement you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If there is some improvement continue the bland diet. If diarrhea persists longer than 24 hours even after discontinuing food contact your veterinarian. Severe or persistent diarrhea can lead to dehydration and other complications that could endanger the health of your pet. Vomiting can also occur due to dietary indiscretion. Treatment for vomiting dogs is different from treatment of diarrhea but will not be addressed in this handout. Contact your veterinarian if vomiting occurs.

What if the diarrhea does not appear to be improving?

There are many reasons for diarrhea. If there is no/little improvement you should consult a veterinarian. Parasites such as roundworms and hookworms can cause diarrhea. Bacterial/fungal infections and bacterial overgrowth cause diarrhea. Poisonings as well some internal organ dysfunctions may also cause diarrhea. Allergies to certain foods may also be to blame.

What are “Bland Diets”?

Bland diets are diets that are highly digestible, low in fats and low in residue. Homemade diets include boiled lean hamburger, boiled chicken without skin and fat, or boiled tofu with either cottage cheese or boiled rice. The ratio is usually 1 part meat (or tofu) to 4 parts cottage cheese or boiled rice. Other diets include Hills Prescription I/D, Eukanuba Low Residue, and Purina CNM canine EN formula.

References:
  1. Bojrab, Disease Mechanisms in Small Animal Surgery.
  2. Ettinger, Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
  3. Hand, Thatcher, Bemillard, and Roudebush. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition. 4th edition.
  4. Wills and Simpson, The Waltham Book of Clinical Nutrition of the Dog and Cat.

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Epulis

What is Epulis?

An epulis is a benign (meaning it does not metastasize or travel to distant areas of the body) tumor of the tissue that holds the teeth in place. There are three different types of epulis:

  1. Fibromatous
  2. Ossifying
  3. Acanthomatous

The difference between these three is the type of material that makes it up and also the aggressiveness of the tumor. Fibromatous epulis is a tumor of the ligament that holds the tooth in and is the least aggressive. Ossifying epulis has a bony matrix and is similar in invasiveness to the fibromatous epulis. Acanthomatous epulis is the most aggressive and invasive of the three.

Who gets Epulis?

  • Epulis is the fourth most common tumor to find in a dog’s mouth. It is very rare in cats.
  • This tumor is more common in what is called “brachycephalic” breeds, which are those dogs that have a very short nose and muzzle such as Boxers and Bulldogs.
  • Usually, dogs are middle aged when they get epulis. The average age is 7 years.

How do I know if my dog has Epulis?

Some of the clinical signs that a dog may show besides actually seeing a mass in the dog’s mouth include:

  • Drooling
  • Bad odor to breath
  • Trouble eating
  • Bloody discharge coming out of mouth
  • Loss of weight
  • Depending on how aggressive the tumor is, there may also be some displacement of teeth or deformity to the facial features

These signs are not specific for Epulis, but could indicate many other conditions, so it is best if you notice any of these signs to take your dog to your veterinarian who will be able to help decide what is going on.

How is a diagnosis of Epulis made?

  • Radiographs: taken of the mouth to see how deep the tumor is imbedded. Also radiographs may be taken of the chest both to make sure the dog is all right to undergo anesthesia and also to check for any tumor spread to the lungs. Although epulis does not spread to the lungs, at this point, you don’t know for sure that the tumor is not of some other type that does spread.
  • Biopsy: of the tumor. A pathologist can look at the tissue under the microscope and see what kind of tumor it is.

How is Epulis Treated?

  • Fibromatous Epulis: This tumor can usually be totally cured after it is removed during surgery. Often, the teeth that are nearby to the tumor will have to be removed so that the tumor does not regrow.
  • Ossifying Epulis: Because of the bone involved with this tumor, it can be a more difficult surgery. However, besides that, the surgery is similar to the Fibromatous Epulis.
  • Acanthomatous Epulis: Since this tumor is much more invasive, more tissue and bone will need to be taken out so that the tumor does not return. Sometimes, even part of the jaw may have to be removed to get the entire tumor out.

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Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)

Gastric dilatation and volvulus, or GDV, is a condition in which a dog’s stomach rotates and fills with gas. The twisting of the stomach combined with intense pressure of gas buildup in the stomach can inhibit blood flow to the dog’s internal organs and the rest of his body. Additionally, the pressure of the bloated stomach presses against the diaphragm and makes it difficult for the dog to breathe. Other effects of GDV include irregular heartbeats and shock. If a dog suffering from GDV is not treated on an emergency basis he can become lethargic, enter a coma, and ultimately die. The treatment for GDV is surgery, where the abdomen is opened and the stomach is untwisted and sutured into its proper place.

GDV occurs most often in large and giant breed dogs with deep, narrow chests. Several things can be done to help prevent GDV from occurring in these higher risk dogs. Feeding smaller meals spread throughout the day, not feeding from raised bowls, and avoiding exercise after meals can help prevent GDV. A surgical option is now available called a gastropexy. This is where the stomach is surgically tacked to the body wall. This procedure can often be performed at the same time as your pet’s spay or neuter. This procedure is relatively new and has not been proven 100% effective. Be alert for signs of GDV such as bloated abdomen, difficulty breathing, lethargy, and unproductive vomiting, especially if the dog has a history of bloat, or has a relative who has had GDV. If any of these signs are seen call your veterinarian immediately.

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House Training Your New Puppy

Success in potty training your puppy requires time management and the use of a few tools, those being supervision, a crate, a long term confinement area and a schedule. The following pointers can help your training to be a success and can help you establish a strong bond with your puppy early on:

  • Do not use punishment as a tool for training – this will send the message to your puppy to hide in your house when eliminating and will damage the relationship between you and your puppy
  • Reward your puppy for going in the right spot – you will need to be responsible for having your puppy in the right spot at the right time; accomplish this by taking your puppy out after sleeping, playing and 15-30 minutes after eating
  • Crate train your puppy – only leave your puppy in the crate for short periods of time with favorite toys and a bed
  • Always supervise your puppy – keep the puppy on a leash when out with you in the house and take outside periodically (puppies typically need to go out every two hours at two months, every three hours at three months, etc. up to nine months when they should be able to hold elimination for ten to eleven hours)
  • Keep your puppy on a schedule – set water down for 15 minutes five to six times per day and food down for 15 minutes three times per day; this will help reinforce a schedule and will make elimination more predictable for you
  • Use long term confinement for extended absences – have an area for the times you will not be with your puppy all day; cover the area with paper and allow your puppy to eliminate on the paper until he/she is able to hold elimination for longer periods of time

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Dog-On-It Lawn Problems

by Dr. Steve Thompson

Dog urine and feces can often be a frustrating problem related to lawn care. Small amounts may produce a green up or fertilizer effect while larger amounts often result in dead brown patches or lawn burn, which are frequently surrounded by a green outside ring. While most burn spots will recover with time and regrowth, burns can be severe enough in some cases to require reseeding or sodding. For homeowners who are also dog lovers, this can present a difficult challenge, especially when one family member prefers the dog and another prefers a well-manicured lawn. An understanding of the interaction between dogs and the lawn can keep the yard at peace, not in pieces.

The fundamental problem with the presence of urine or feces on the lawn is related to the concentration and nitrogen content of these waste products. Urine, when produced as a waste product in animals, primarily removes excess nitrogen from the body via the kidneys. Nitrogen waste products are the result of protein breakdown through normal bodily processes. Carnivores, including cats and dogs, have a significant protein requirement, and urine volume/production varies due to a pet’s size and metabolism. Urine is a bigger problem for lawns because it is applied all at once as a liquid fertilizer, whereas feces slowly release the waste products over time. Since stools are usually solid, owners have the option of frequent manual removal or hiring one of the new commercial “pooper scooper” businesses available in many areas. With less time for the nitrogen waste to dissolve into the lawn, stools that are frequently removed damage lawns less than urine. Removal of feces also reduces bad odors, fly breeding and human health concerns related to the transmission of some diseases from dogs to people, including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Roundworms(Visceral Larval Migrans) and Hookworms(Cutaneous Larval Migrans/Creeping Eruption). Children are primarily at risk since they are less likely to wash their hands after playing outside where dogs may have defecated. The dog roundworm (Toxocara canis) is of particular concern because the eggs passed in dog stools are resistant to disinfectants and weather extremes for many years. Although uncommon, after being ingested by a child, the worm may migrate in the body and cause problems related to vision, breathing or neurologic disorders. This is the primary reason for “pooper scooper” laws in communities and why dog (and cat) feces should not be a part of composting.

Dogs are a greater concern than cats for the lawn conscious pet owner, due to the small cat urine volume and typical cat elimination behaviors. Cats generally mark bushes or trees as scent posts or bury their wastes in a garden, rather than squatting in the middle of the lawn as a dog may prefer. Young dogs of both sexes frequently squat to urinate. Leg lifting is often learned by male dogs around a year of age; castration or neutering does not seem to affect nature’s timetable related to this behavior development. While most male dogs will hike their leg and mark once they are over a year of age, a few will continue to squat when urinating, which is typical for female dogs. Female dogs may also mark although less commonly than male dogs. Once dogs begin urine marking, they often utilize many scent posts resulting in numerous, small volume urinations rather than large volume puddles. Grass can handle small volume nitrogen bursts easier than fertilizer overload. Unfortunately, the young bush, shrub, vine or tree sprout that becomes a marking post may have nitrogen (fertilizer) overload with repeated marking and often may die.

The primary concern in addressing urine damage to lawns is minimizing the urine concentration added to the lawn at any single time. Female dogs, being less likely to urine mark objects and more likely squat, are the primary culprits of lawn damage since they will urinate anywhere on a lawn and usually all at once. This results in a single nitrogen dump confined to a small patch of grass. The brown spot that results will often have a green ring around the outside. The nitrogen overload at the center causes the burn, but as the urine is diluted out toward the periphery, it has a fertilizer effect. This characteristic brown spot, green ring pattern has been called “Female dog spot disease” by some horticulturists. As might be expected, lawns are most susceptible to nitrogen burns when standard fertilizers are maximized in the lawn, especially in homes with a comprehensive lawn care program. Homeowners making the extra effort to have a green lawn may be quite discouraged by their neighbor’s dog damage or their own housepet’s potty residue.

Speculation on the actual cause of the lawn burn has resulted in numerous theories on what else in the urine may be contributing to the damage. Dr. Allard, a Colorado veterinarian, examined numerous variations in dog urine and the effects on several common lawn grasses.1 His results support the fact that urine concentration and volume of urine (nitrogen content) had the most deleterious effects on lawns. The pH of the urine did not have any variable effect nor did common additives designed to alter the urine pH. Of the four grasses tested, Festuca sp.var. Kentucky (fescue) and Lolium perrene (fine bladed rye) were the most resistant to urine effects. In fact, the urine routinely produced a fertilizer effect on these grasses at diluted concentrations. Poa pretensis (Kentucky bluegrass) and Cynodon sp. var. fairway (fairway crested wheat) were very sensitive to any urine concentration and severe burns resulted, persisting greater than 30 days after initial exposure to even four ounces of dilute urine. Even on the most urine resistant grass tested (fescue) urine concentration was a bigger problem than urine volume. Concentrated urine with volumes as little as 30cc (one ounce) caused lawn burn even on fescue grasses.

Problem Area Avoidance Techniques

Obviously, fences can be used to keep neighboring dogs from eliminating on the lawn. Advising neighbors of the legality of leash laws, where applicable, can restrict damage to areas near sidewalks and on tree lawns/median right of ways. Unfortunately, no repellants are universally effective although a variety of home remedies have been tried. Hot and bitter products are most likely to have taste or odor aversive properties to dogs. Most repellants function better as taste repellants than touch or odor repellants. Some odor repellants may actually encourage a dog to overmark the strange smell with their urine. Some of the better commercial repellants like Garbage Protector and Ro-Pel have these limitations as well. A newly developed motion activated sprinkler, primarily designed to keep cats and rabbits out of gardens, may have benefits for some yards. The sprinkler, marketed as Scarecrow by the Canadian firm ConTech, may provide benefit in small yards or at corners of front yards where damage is most likely to occur. The presence of numerous squirrels, strays, or children in the neighborhood however, may result in very high water bills if they continuously trigger this device in a front yard.

In many cases, the problem dog is a housemate to the homeowner. While somewhat time consuming, walking the dog to a park or field away from the house is a simple remedy to this problem if most of the damage is caused by a dog on premises. The time can be well spent since exercise has physical and emotional benefits for both dogs and their owners. Homeowners are encouraged to choose an appropriate destination and not create problem lawns elsewhere that may affect the overall aesthetics of the neighborhood. A more feasible approach is to train the pet to eliminate in a designated area of the yard. This area would be a landscaped area specifically designed for the dog. It will need a substrate like pea gravel or mulch that the dog finds acceptable and may even include a marking post like a large boulder, bird bath, lawn ornament, or even faux hydrant. Collecting the dog’s urine in a cup and using it in this area for several days can provide some odor attractant value to this area. Feces can also be collected and transported to the new, designated area. Consistency is important for at least 2-3 weeks to establish this as a routine, trained behavior; several months may be necessary in some cases. Initially, training can occur with the dog on a short leash and food rewards employed to encourage use of this area. Dogs should not be unsupervised in the yard while this initial training is occurring. It is often easier to train a young puppy to a particular ground texture than an adult dog, but never impossible in any age dog. A variable reward system utilizing one standard treat if urinating anywhere outside, and several treats or a special treat if in the designated area, can be helpful in this process and avoids confusing the dog regarding the new housebreaking rules. Excessive food rewards in the form of meat or protein products will contribute to increased nitrogen content in the urine. Dogs that are being obedience trained should not be trained with treats on the lawn during this housebreaking or pets and reward systems can really become confused. Many dog owners will also find it helpful to train their dog to an elimination command during this time. Common commands might include: Potty, Piddle, Do Your Business or Hurry Up, etc and make it quicker to accomplish the task when inclement weather is present or time schedules are busy.

Dietary Modification Techniques

A great many dietary modifications for dogs have been tried, often based on home remedies or anecdotal experience. A veterinarian should always be consulted prior to making any dietary modifications, whether they include additions or subtractions from standard nutrient guidelines. As stated earlier, the pH of the urine has little or no effect on the urine damage to the lawn. The addition of acidifying agents, including nutritional supplements like D-L Methionine (Methioform), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), or fruit juices will have no benefit for this problem and may predispose the dog to an increased incidence of certain bladder stones. Likewise, alkalinizing agents, including baking soda and Potassium Citrate (UrocitK) can predispose to other types of bladder stones or infections. The addition of any of these supplements has enough potential to cause harm, with limited to no known benefit for the lawn, and are not recommended. When owners have reported successes, as is sometimes the case on internet forums, liquids likely improved the problem since the urine concentration after treatment was diluted. Safer ways to accomplish more dilute urine include feeding canned food, moistening dry food with water prior to feeding and adding salt or garlic salt to the regular food. One particular home remedy, tomato juice, likely has its primary benefit through both increased salt and water intake. While salt will make the dog drink more and dilute the urine, increased salt intake can cause problems for dogs with existing kidney or heart conditions. Owners should not alter their dog’s diet without consulting with their veterinarian.

Dogs with more dilute urine may have to urinate more frequently as well and need more frequent elimination opportunities. While specific breed differences haven’t been noted, smaller dogs produce less urine than larger dogs so are dumping less nitrogen waste. Dogs with bladder infections often demonstrate an urgency to urinate and typically squat several times, leaving small amounts or drops each time. These dogs may be less of a problem for lawns than normal dogs that empty their whole bladder in one sitting. Dog owners who actually note that their dog’s urine is no longer causing lawn burn, without having made any changes, should have their dog examined by their veterinarian and a urinalysis performed to make sure there are no medical conditions causing this change.

The other option to consider besides diluting the urine is to reduce the amount of nitrogen waste being dumped in the urine. The average family dog doesn’t have the activity need that requires as high a protein level as most commercial maintenance dog foods provide. Although dog food purchasing often reflects consumer perception that high protein equals better food, in fact, moderate to low protein foods are often adequate for all but the most energetic, working, and hunting dogs. When examining a food label, protein content must be compared on a dry matter basis and unfortunately, it is not like comparing apples to apples. Dry foods vary in how much moisture they have, so the protein percent listed can’t be immediately compared to all other foods. Canned foods will have a much lower protein percent listed than dry foods but also have much higher water content. The quality of the protein also has an impact since some proteins are highly digestible, meaning less is dumped in the feces and possibly the urine, than other proteins. In general, the premium and super premium pet foods, available from pet stores and veterinarians, will have higher quality protein and more digestible proteins than standard grocery store brands. The higher digestibility translates into smaller fecal size as well. It is probably best to discuss individual pet needs with a veterinarian or nutrition consultant in the practice to determine what is the best fit, based on feasibility, palatability and economics. Moderate to high protein diets are necessary in older dogs to preserve kidney function, so diet changes in mature and geriatric pets should always be in consultation with a veterinarian. If a dog food is currently providing good, overall nutritional support for the pet, diluting the urine by simply adding water to the food, may be the easiest place to start.

Repair/Recovery of Damage Area

A leash can function to bond owners to their dogs and increases the time pets spend interacting with their owners. A leash can also be part of a responsible neighbor policy, be a great training aid, and is one of the best ways to be at the site to intervene when urination occurs. Watering the spot after urination will accomplish the dilution with no ill affects on the dog. Dr Allard’s study looked at watering fescue at different intervals following urination. Water volumes three times that of the concentrated urine were used to assess their dilution effects. A fertilizer effect, rather than burn, was noted when the site was watered at any time up to 8 hours after the urination. When the delay in watering was extended to 12 or more hours, progressively worse burns were noted. It appears that routine watering of the grass in early mornings would not be sufficient to prevent all urine burns.

The use of gypsum or lime has been advocated but it is uncertain exactly what mechanism this would have in helping prevent urine damage. Improved soil quality over time may result in better drainage and less urine concentration at the grass and root level, but it seems unlikely that improved drainage would be obtained with either of these additives. Altering pH, as indicated before, did not affect the spot damage urine can cause.

Lawn burn, when mild, will often self repair itself over time, especially in the case of the warm-season turf grasses that spread by stolons and rhizomes. Dark green spots and taller grasses may remain for several weeks. When reseeding is necessary, fescue has been advocated as it appears to be more resistant to future burns and may out compete weeds trying to become established. Sodding can be a quick way to patch severely damaged individual areas that would otherwise be invaded by weeds.

While a high fence and dogless lifestyle can ensure that “Female dog spot disease” is not a problem in your yard, homeowners and dog lovers have several practical options available to manage this problem. Communications should remain open whenever family conflicts arise with various priorities. Coordinating a comprehensive program with your county or state extension horticulturist, lawn care resource and your veterinarian can keep your four-legged friend on good terms and out of the dog house. Your pet will likely enjoy romping in the yard with you.

Reference
  1. Allard AW. Lawn burn and dog urine, Canine Practice, March-April 1981;8;(2);26-32. Note: This article originally was put together in 1998 for the Turf Resource Center, www.TurfgrassSod.Org

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Acral Lick Granulomas in the Dog

by Andrea DeSantis

Acral lick granulomas are a problem that can be seen frequently in dogs. This is a condition in which your dog causes a firm, raised ulcerative lesion usually on the carpus (wrist) or tarsus (ankle) by licking and chewing the skin excessively. It can be seen in any age or breed of dog but it is most commonly associated with large breed dogs. If the age of onset is greater than 5 years old, then allergies are strong considerations as the inciting cause. Other associated conditions include bacterial infections of the skin, endocrine disorders, fungal disease, mite infestation, trauma to the area, foreign body reactions, and compulsive/psychogenic disorders. All of these conditions can play a role as the inciting factor.

Several diagnostic steps will need to be done by your veterinarian in order to determine the cause of the lick granuloma. A skin scraping and dermatophyte (fungal) culture should be done in order to rule out demodicosis (mites) and dermatophytosis (fungus). A cytology of the area can be done by rubbing a swab over the lesion and performing a microscopic examination of the prepared slide. This will allow your veterinarian or veterinary technician to determine if bacteria or yeast is present. If bacteria are found then a culture to determine the specific agent may be warranted. As mentioned earlier, allergies can play a role as an inciting cause of lick granulomas. A food trial can be done in order to determine if food allergies are responsible for the lesion. This includes strictly feeding your pet a hypoallergenic diet prescribed by your veterinarian for 2 months. Environmental factors can also be responsible for allergies in dogs. An intradermal skin test can be done by your veterinarian to test your pet against specific allergens. Some pets that have sustained previous trauma to their tarsus or carpus will chew or lick at the area. This may be due to some nerve dysfunction in that region. Radiographs of the carpus or tarsus may be indicated to look for evidence of previous injury. Another important cause of lick granulomas includes psychogenic or compulsive disorders. Animals that are prone to separation anxiety will often cause selftrauma.

Treatment of lick granulomas can be time-consuming and recurrence is common. Finding the underlying cause of the lick granuloma will give the best success with treatment. Most lick granulomas will have a primary or secondary bacterial component due to the ulcerated appearance of the lesion. Usually systemic and topical antibiotics are prescribed. A minimum of six weeks of treatment is usually necessary. Antihistamines such as hydroxyzine, chlorpheniramine, and doxepin can be used if an allergy component is suspected. Do not use more than one antihistamine at a time. Topical corticosteroids can be used to help decrease the inflammation of the lesion. Laser procedures can be performed to remove lick granulomas in patients where medical therapy is unsuccessful. This procedure will require your pet to undergo general anesthesia so pre-anesthetic blood work is recommended. If a compulsive or psychogenic reason is suspected as the cause of the lick granuloma then anti-anxiety drugs such as clomicalm (clomipramine) can be prescribed as well as implementation of behavioral modification. If you think that your pet may have a lick granulomas please contact your veterinarian or veterinary technician for more information.

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Maintaining A Healthy Weight For Your New Puppy

Weight management is just as important for a growing animal as it is for an adult animal. In fact, it is more important. Being overweight has long term implications for growing animals. Puppies that are overweight as they grow put increased stress on their still maturing bones and joints. This added stress can result in numerous orthopedic problems, including ruptured cruciate ligaments, degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis, and ruptured intervertebral discs (especially in long backed, short legged breeds such as Dachshunds and Corgis), which can have life-long consequences. Dogs that are overweight as adults are also at risk for other diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Unlike people, whose excess fat deposits primarily under the skin forming “fat rolls”, excess fat in dogs is deposited inside their abdomen against their diaphragm, and is deposited in the chest around their heart. Large deposits of fat in these areas make even breathing difficult for obese dogs. The following guidelines and recommendations will help you to prevent obesity in your dog and help ensure a long, happy, and healthy life.

First, you should consult with your veterinarian on a target weight for your puppy. This will help determine the number of calories your puppy will need each day to maintain that ideal weight.

Second, familiarize yourself with how many calories/cup are in the food your puppy is being fed. This information is sometimes available on the packaging, but often other sources will need to be consulted. Most dog food companies have web sites that will provide the nutritional information on each of their diets. You may need to call the customer service number on the package in some cases. Your veterinarian may have the calorie content of many of the non-commercial diets.

Once you know how many calories per cup are in your puppy’s diet, you can calculate how many cups of food/day he or she should be fed based on the daily calorie intake recommended by your veterinarian. It is important to measure the amount of food using a measuring cup so that you are sure of the amount being fed to your puppy.

Third, don’t forget to count the calories in those treats! We all love to reward our dogs with something special for “good behavior”. Treats are also very useful while training your puppy basic obedience commands as well as “tricks”. However, if the calories in the treats are not counted into the daily allotment of calories, weight gain is inevitable. The calorie content of treats can be obtained in the same manner as mentioned above for food diets. If you know that you give your dog lots of treats each day, choose treats such as baby carrots or green beans, which are low in calorie content. The calories from the treats should be subtracted from the daily calorie allotment to determine the amount of regular diet to feed to your dog each day.

Lastly, be sure to give your puppy plenty of exercise each day. Twenty minute walks twice daily, along with a calorie balanced diet, is a great way to be sure that your dog is getting the exercise he or she needs to maintain that “perfect figure” and help to ensure a long and healthy life.

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Old Dog Syndrome

by Melissa Blessinger

Has your older dog had any behavior changes recently? Have they been having housetraining accidents more often? Do they ever appear to be confused and disoriented in your home or the backyard? Do they get stuck in corners or behind furniture? Do they ever seem not to recognize you? Are they barking in the middle of the night or wandering and pacing more at night? If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then your older dog may be suffering from “Old Dog Syndrome” otherwise known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). As dogs grow older, it is believed that they have chemical and physical changes in their brain that decrease their cognitive ability. It is similar to the aging that the human brain undergoes, and some people compare it to Alzheimer’s disease in people. The signs seen with CDS are generally broken up into the four categories using the acronym DISH (Disorientation, Interaction with family members, Sleep cycle changes, and House training), although there are more signs that are not included in this acronym. Disorientation presents itself by the dog walking aimlessly, appearing confused, getting stuck in corners or behind the furniture, and not recognizing verbal cues. The interaction with family members may change such that your dog may not seek attention as much, they may not greet you at the door anymore and they may not stand for petting. Their sleep cycle may change such that they are sleeping during the day, while at night they are awake, pacing, wandering around and barking. They may have more house soiling accidents or just not ask to go outside. This syndrome may make the once familiar world of your dog to become a strange place leading them to feel isolated and alone. There is a drug called Anipryl that has been shown to decrease at least one of the effects of CDS in up to 75% of dogs. It works by increasing the neurotransmitter Dopamine in the brain which helps increase your dog’s cognitive ability and allows you to enjoy the golden years of your dog’s life. There are also diets rich in antioxidants that may help decrease the signs of CDS. If you feel that your dog may have Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, talk with your veterinarian today about going through a screening process to diagnose your dog’s condition and talk about treatment options. You may be able to brighten up your dog’s future.

Reference
  1. Landsberg et al. Handbook of Behavior problems of the dog and cat. New York: Saunders, 2003. www.cpvh.com/Articles/4.html

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Otitis Externa (Ear infection)

Otitis Externa is the medical term for an ear infection.  An ear infection is an inflammation of the epithelial lining of the external auditory canal which is the portion of the ear located between the pinna (ear flap) and the tympanic membrane (ear drum).  Otitis is considered a type of skin disease.  Otitis is a very common malady of cats and dogs that causes a lot of distress to owners and discomfort to the pet.   It is generally described as reactive, inflammatory, and allergic or infectious.

The external canal of the dog is long and narrow and halfway along its length it turns from vertical to horizontal forming an “L” shape.  The ear canal is lined by squamous epithelium which contains sebaceous and ceruminous (modified apocrine or sweat) glands.  Ceruminous glands secrete a white, odorless fluid.  This fluid, combined with sloughed squamous cells forms the normal ear discharge, cerumen (ear wax).  A small number of yeast and bacteria are considered normal flora of the skin and ears.  When this flora is disturbed or unbalanced, an infection results.

Bacteria that is commonly found in normal canine ears includes Staphylococcus spp., Micrococcus spp.,   and occasionally coliforms.  Malassezia pachydermatis yeast frequently behaves as an opportunistic pathogen whenever alterations in the microclimate of the skin or ears occur.  In fact, studies have shown that canine cerumen may enhance the growth of Malassezia yeast.   Therefore, anything that increases the production of cerumen in the ear predisposes the pet to ear infections.

Primary factors implicated in the cause of otitis include, parasites, foreign bodies, hypersensitivity disorders (allergies), keratinization disorders, auto‐immune skin disease, and glandular disorders.   Parasites such as otodectes cyanotes, demodex spp, sacoptes spp, notoedres cati, ticks, flies and fleas have all been associated with otitis externa.  It is very important to have you pets ears examined by a veterinarian with an otoscope, to rule out these causes of ear infections before starting treatments.   This exam can also rule out foreign bodies such as grass awns, thistle, or burrs.  Hypersensitivity disorders (allergies) are a common cause of ear infections.  Allergies in pets often manifest themselves in the skin rather than the respiratory tract as happens in humans.  As the ears are a part of the skin, they are affected by allergies.  Food allergies, in particular, are a common underlying cause of recurrent ear infections. Some breeds are prone to keratinization disorders which increase the turnover of epithelial (skin) cells, and increase the production of cerumen, predisposing these dogs to have ear infections.  Glandular disorders, such as hypo‐ and hyper‐ thyroidism, can also affect skin which can cause ear infections.  And auto‐immune diseases, in which the body’s own immune system attacks itself, can produce skin disease.

Perpetuating factors are those that are responsible for continuing the inflammatory process even though the primary factors may no longer be present.  These are bacteria, yeast, otitis media 9infection of the middle ear behind the ear drum) and in cases of chronic ear disease, the pathological changes in the ear canal itself.  Traditionally veterinary medicine has treated these factors and not the primary factors causing the disease.  This simply causes the infection to re‐occur until the primary factor is addressed.

Some other complicating factors of ear infections include conformation of the ear (such as a pendulous ear), narrowed (stenotic) canals, or hair in the canal.  Frequently these are cited as predisposing factor, however, this line of thought ignores all the dogs with pendulous ears, and/or hairy, or narrowed ear canals that never have an infection.  However, these conditions paired with a primary condition such as allergies, or a glandular condition, can severely complicate treatment of the infection. When dogs get wet, either though swimming or bathing, it stimulates the ceruminous glands to produce more cerumen.  These secretions can block the ear canal and favor yeast and bacterial proliferation.   Increasing heat and humidity can alter the micro‐environment of the ear canal and make it more suitable for bacterial or yeast colonization.  Vigorous plucking of hair from the ear canals in an otherwise healthy ear can cause inflammation and lead to infection.  Even overly aggressive ear care with cotton tipped applicators or strong cleansers can have this affect.

The primary target of therapy in otitis externa is to eliminate the underlying cause and treat the secondary infection.  Some testing is required to determine the underlying cause.  Blood tests are preformed to rule out glandular causes, and allergy testing or a food trial may be performed to deterime if allergies are the underlying cause of the infection.  In conjunction with the testing, topical antibiotics and anti‐fungals, and frequently topical anti‐inflammatories are used to treat the secondary, or perpetuating, causes of the otitis externa.  In cases of severe infection, systemic treatment may be required.  Unless the primary inducing factor is uncovered and treated, the infection will likely re‐occur.

Otitis externa, if left untreated, can cause rupture of the tympanic membrane (ear drum), infection of the middle ear (which can affect balance), and eventually, calcification (hardening) of the ear canal and deafness.

Please consult your veterinarian anytime you observe your pet performing frequent head‐shaking or pawing at an ear, or you notice pain, redness, or discharge from your pet’s ear.

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Panosteitis

by Amy Zwingelberg

Panosteitis is an orthopedic disease seen in young (usually 5-12 month-old) large breed dogs. Affected dogs usually present with a weight-bearing lameness. The lameness is often intermittent and may affect multiple limbs. Diagnosis includes a thorough orthopedic examination to localize the pain. This includes firm palpation of limb long bones. With panosteitis, discomfort will be elicited upon such palpation. Radiographs of the affected bone or bones should then be done to confirm panosteitis and to rule out other orthopedic diseases seen in young dogs. Radiographs of bones affected with panosteitis show increased density (bone production) within the bone marrow cavity. The definitive cause of panosteitis is unknown, but possible factors believed to contribute include genetics, stress, allergies, and viral infections. Panosteitis is a self-limiting disease and does not require specific treatment. Adjunctive therapies, such as restricted activity and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can be used depending on the severity of the case and as needed for patient comfort. As stated earlier, the lameness can shift to other limbs, and the dog may be lame intermittently for 6-18 months. No long-term negative effects from panosteitis are usually seen.

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Canine Papilloma Virus

by Lisa Box

Certain viruses can cause the growth of small round skin tumors commonly referred to as warts. Even though dogs can get warts, they are not caused by the same virus that causes them in humans. These are benign skin tumors caused by the canine oral papillomavirus.

Viral papillomas are round, but often have a rough, almost jagged surface-- like a cauliflower. They generally occur on the lips and muzzle of a young dog (typically less than 2 years of age). Less commonly, papillomas can occur on the eyelids and even the surface of the eye or between the toes. They usually occur in groups rather than as solitary growths.

These benign tumors are not dangerous. They should go away on their own as the dog’s immune system matures and generates a response against the papillomavirus. It takes between 1 and 5 months for papillomas to go away. However, some of the individual papillomas may stay permanently.

The infection is transmitted via contact with the papillomas on an infected dog and it takes about 1 to 2 months for them to appear. This virus can only be spread among dogs, though, so it is not contagious to other pets or to humans.

In most cases, treatment is unnecessary; the papillomas will usually go away on their own. Sometimes, however, a dog will have a large number of tumors, making it difficult to eat. These can be surgically removed or frozen off cryogenically. Occasionally, oral papillomas can become infected with bacteria. Antibiotics will be needed in these cases to control the pain, swelling, and bad breath.

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Patent Ductus Arteriosus

by Horia Popa

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is the most common congenital heart diseases on dogs. Commonly affected breeds include Miniature Poodles, Collies, Pomeranians, Cocker Spaniel, Chihuahua, Maltese, German Shapers, Irish Setters, Keeshounds, and Shetland Sheep dogs. Occurs more commonly in females versus males (2:1).

The ductus arteriosus is the fetal connection between the descending aorta and the main pulmonary artery, allowing the shunting of fetal oxygenated placental blood from the pulmonary artery to the systemic circulation bypassing the atelectic non-functional fetal lung.

Following parturition and the onset of breathing, the rapid increase in arterial oxygen tension causes constriction of ductal smooth muscle and functional closure of the ductus. Anatomic obliteration occurs by necrosis and fibrosis during the first few weeks of life. Patency of the ductus arteriosus beyond 7 to 10 days of age is considered abnormal in dogs.

Left-to right PDA: It is the typical form of PDA in which the aortic pressure is higher than pulmonary artery pressure throughout the cardiac cycle, and blood shunts continuously from the aorta to the pulmonary artery. This result in a continuous cardiac murmur, increased pulmonary flow, and volume overloading and diastolic dilatation of the left atrium and left ventricle. If the defect is wide enough to allow a large shunt and pulmonary vascular resistance remains low, the end result may be left ventricular failure with pulmonary edema. Approximately 64% diagnosed with left-to-right shunting will be dead from complication within one year of diagnosis without surgical correction. Some dogs with modest shunts will survive to maturity, and a few may live to 10 years or grater.

Right to left, or reverse, shunting PDA: occurs when there is an increase pressure in pulmonary vasculature. Dogs with reverse PDA exhibit diminished pulmonary flow, a comparatively small left ventricle, and marked hypertrophy of the right ventricle. Most of these changes are considered irreversible. Many owners do not recognize obvious clinical signs in their pet during the first 6 to 12 months of life. Clinical examination is very different from the more common left-to-right PDA. Physical examination reveals either no murmur or only a soft, early systolic murmur at the left heart base. Differential cyanosis (cyanosis of the caudal mucous membranes with pink cranial membranes) may be observed, but recognition may require examination after exercise. Differential cyanosis is caused by the location of PDA, which shunts right-to-left from the pulmonary artery into the descending aorta. Animals with reversed PDA often live at least 3 to 5 years, and a few survive beyond 7 years.

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New Puppy’s Wellness Visits

AgeDHLPPBordetellaRabiesDewormFecalSpay / Neuter
1st visit (6-7w old)
* (w/o lepto)
*
*
*
2nd visit (9-10w old)
*
*
3rd visit (11-13w old)
*
*
4th visit (14-16w old)
*
*
5th visit (4-6mos old)
*
*

Vaccinations

Young animals have a weak immune system, unless they are still nursing. Animals that nurse receive colostrum in the first few days of life. Colostrum is very high in maternal antibodies and is equivalent to the immunity of the dam. By passive transfer the young are well provided for. As days go by a decrease in the puppy’s immune system is seen and by 12-16 weeks of age maternal antibodies are almost completely absent.

DHLPP – Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus

  • Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that is often fatal. This disease causes fever, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and Central Nervous System signs.
  • Hepatitis is a contagious viral disease affecting the primarily the liver, other internal organs) and the eyes (“blue eye”).
  • Leptospirosis is caused by Leptospira bacteria found in contaminated water. Bacteria can penetrate intact or cut skin and mucous membranes. It may cause kidney, urinary, liver, respiratory, heart, nervous system, reproductive, and/or eye disease. Zoonotic Disease, which means it may be transmitted to humans (via urine) from infected pets!!!
  • Parainfluenza is a contagious viral disease that causes respiratory signs (coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge)
  • Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease (particularly of young puppies) that is often fatal. Signs include lethargy, vomiting, dehydration, and often bloody diarrhea (rarely causes heart problems as well).

Bordetella (Kennel Cough)

Bordetella is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes respiratory signs, such as coughing, nasal discharge, possibly fever.

Rabies

Rabies is a severe, and always fatal, viral infection of the brain and central nervous system. It is spread in the saliva of rabid animals such as skunks, raccoons, and bats. Animals most often contract this disease after being bit by a rabid animal. This is a zoonotic disease, which means that it can be transmitted to humans via bites from infected animals!!!

Deworming (for internal parasites) / Fecal Exams

  • Roundworms look like spaghetti noodles when seen in the stool. Puppies may contract these worms from their mother prior to birth. Infection causes weakness and poor weight gain. These worms are zoonotic (can be transmitted to humans via fecaloral route).
  • Hookworms can be contracted by puppies from their mother’s milk. Infection may cause blood in the stool, poor weight gain, and low numbers of red blood cells. These are also zoonotic (can be transmitted to humans via fecal-oral route).
  • Tapeworm segments in the stool look like grains of rice. They are transmitted by fleas, rodents, and rabbits. Humans may be infected if they ingest fleas, but not by direct transmission from infected pets.
  • Whipworm infections may cause bloody diarrhea and/or mucous in the stool.

Additional Services

Heartworm preventative

Heartworms are transmitted to your pet through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are mainly present in April through December, but can be seen in other months due to warmer temperatures. Heartworm preventative should be given year round. Also, many heartworm preventatives are effective against internal parasites as well. It is important to continue prevention for these worms year round.

Flea / tick preventative

In addition to being an annoyance to your pet, fleas and ticks can transmit many parasites and diseases, such as tapeworms, Lyme disease, and blood borne parasites. For this reason, flea and tick prevention is an integral part of your pet’s wellness program.

Wellness visits and vaccinations are tailored to the individual pet based on age, environmental risks, physical examination finding, etc.

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Scooting in Dogs

by Andrea Rediger

Dogs are often presented to the veterinarian for “scooting”. In many cases the dog’s anal glands are found to be full or even impacted with thick, foul-smelling fluid. Manual expression on a regular basis can sometimes provide an acceptable way of managing anal gland disease. However, there are several other disease states for which scooting is a presenting complaint. In these cases, other therapies could possibly offer a long-term solution for the problem.

Some dogs are genetically predisposed to anal gland disease. Other dogs have conformational problems such as obesity or tail position that make them susceptible to problems. The anal glands are located just under the skin on either side of the anus at approximately the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions. They connect to the anus by means of small ducts and are generally expressed with each bowel movement by the presence of stool in the rectum. When impacted, the normal secretions become thick and pasty and cannot be self-expressed. The persistance of anal gland disease proceeds to anal sacculitis (infection), abscess, and finally ruptures. Sacculitis is characterized by yellowish blood tinged fluid indicating bacterial infection. This infection progresses to abscessation, which is a closed pocket of inflammation within the anal gland that often affects the surrounding tissue to form a painful warm swelling. When an abscesse ruptures, a draining tract forms providing an opening for pus to exit through the skin.

Impacted anal glands can initially be treated by manual expression and by increasing fecal bulk. Adding 1 to 5 tablespoons of All-Bran or pumpkin pie filling, or 1 to 5 teaspoons of Metamucil to the diet can increase bulk. In addition, Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d can be fed exclusively. When impaction progresses to infection, the glands must be expressed and antibiotics administered. Abscessed anal glands must be surgically lanced or hot-packed to cause the abscess to rupture. Ruptured anal glands are treated with oral (and sometimes topical) antibiotics and continued hot-packing to ensure that the infection continues to drain. Once the infection has cleared, surgical removal of all glandular tissue may provide a long-term solution to recurrent anal gland disease.

In some cases, dogs continue to scoot even after anal glands are removed. This indicates that other diseases must be considered and ruled-out to provide relief for the patient. These include food allergy, flea allergy, and inhalant allergies; yeast infection of the skin around the anus; irritation from fecal contamination of the skin; enflamed structures in the colon and rectum; and the expulsion of tapeworm segments. Your veterinarian may recommend a hypoallergenic food trial, allergy testing, and scrapings or swabs for microscopic evaluation. In short, problematic anal glands can be due to a variety of disease processes. It’s worth the time and effort required to figure out what the problem is and fix it definitively. There’s no doubt your pet will thank you!

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Whelping Your Puppies

Canine Birth: The Mother

  • A comfortable area should be set aside for whelping and raising the puppies. The mother should feel at home here and should be able to come and go as she likes while the puppies must remain confined.
  • When the dog’s due date is approaching, the owner should begin monitoring her rectal temperature. When her temperature drops below 100F, labor may be expected within 24 hours.
  • During the first stage of labor, uterine contractions begin. The mother will appear very restless and may pace, dig, shiver, pant, or even vomit. This is all normal. This stage of labor can last 6- 12 hours and normally ends with the full dilation of the cervix.
  • The second stage of labor is the “hard labor” stage in which the puppy is delivered. The third stage refers to the expulsion of the placenta and the afterbirth. Each pup may not be followed by an afterbirth; the mother may pass two pups (one from each uterine horn) and then two placentas.
  • Some breeders encourage the mother to consume the placentas as they are very rich in nutrients, however, this very richness can be too much for some dams and can cause diarrhea. It is very important to make sure that the mother has delivered the same number of placentas as puppies – a retained placenta will cause serious illness.
  • Expect one puppy every 45-60 minutes with 10-30 minutes of hard straining. It can be normal for some mothers to “take a rest” partway through delivery and she may not strain for up to 4 hours between pups. If the mother is seen straining for over one hour without producing a puppy, or she goes longer than 4 hours between puppies, a veterinarian should be consulted.
  • Expect some puppies to born tail first (breech), this is not an abnormal presentation for puppies.

Consult a Veterinarian If...

  • 30-60 minutes of strong contractions occur with no puppy being produced.
  • Greater than four hours pass between pups and you know there are more inside.
  • She fails to go into labor within 24 hours of her temperature drop.
  • She is in obvious extreme pain.
  • Greater than 70 days of gestation have passed.

Canine Birth: The Puppy

  • It is normal for the mother to remove the placental sac and clean the puppies; however, some bitches may not do so. If the sac is not removed within a few minutes after delivery, the puppy will suffocate, so you should be prepared to intervene.
  • The puppy’s face should be wiped with a damp cloth to remove the sac and allow breathing. A bulb syringe can be used to clear fluids from the mouth if necessary. Vigorous rubbing with a soft, warm towel will help stimulate circulation and dry the hair. The umbilical cord should be tied with a cord (i.e. sewing thread, dental floss – not waxed) and cut with clean scissors. The cord should be tied snugly and cut about ½ inch (1 cm) from the body.) A dab of iodine can be put on the cut end.
  • If the fluid is not removed from the mouth, newborn puppies may aspirate fluid into the lungs, as evidenced by a raspy noise during respiration. This fluid can be removed by the following procedure. First, the puppy should be held in the palm of your hand. The puppy's face should be cradled between the first two fingers. The head should be held firmly with this hand, and the body should be held firmly with the other. Next, a downward swing motion with the hands should make the puppy gasp. Gravity will help the fluid and mucus to flow out of the lungs. This process may be tried several times until the lungs sound clear. The tongue is a reliable indicator of successful respiration. If the puppy is getting adequate oxygen, it will appear pink to red. A bluish colored tongue indicates insufficient oxygen to the lungs, signaling that the swinging procedure should be repeated.
  • Once the puppy is breathing and clean, whether you did it or the dam did it, you should check the puppy carefully, weigh and measure the pup, check it for abnormalities, such as cleft palate, and identify the pup in some way. Means of identification include ribbon, marking them with nail polish, or clipping bits of hair. After checking the puppy over carefully, you can put it aside in a “incubator” box while the bitch is continuing to whelp. You can make the box out of a cardboard or Rubbermaid box with warm towels, a hot water bottle, or other source of heat. If you are using a heating pad or heat lamp, be very careful not to overheat the puppies.
  • If the bitch is having a break between puppies, you should let the puppies nurse. The colostrum (first milk) that the puppies get is extremely important. It carries the immunoglobulins that protect the puppies from infection. The nursing will also stimulate the bitch’s contractions allowing her labor to progress. All the puppies should nurse within the first twelve hours of birth. Once labor starts up again, move the puppies to into your “incubator” box.
  • After the last puppy is delivered, the bitch should begin to calm down. This is a good time to get all the puppies back into the whelping box with the dam and to get them nursing.

Canine Birth: The Mother

  • Keep dam on fluids for first 24 hours (i.e.. chicken broth, etc.)
  • Energy requirements for the dam are 7-8xRER [resting energy requirement = 30(body weight in kgs) + 70] at peak lactation, therefore it is important to feed your bitch a high quality, high energy food. Most veterinarian’s recommend a puppy food.
  • It is normal for the mother to spike a fever in the 24-48 hours following birth. This fever should not be accompanied by clinical signs of illness.
  • Normal vaginal discharge after parturition should be odorless and may be green, dark red-brown or bloody and may persist in small amounts for up to 8 weeks.
  • Check mammary glands twice daily (looking for signs of mastitis -- swelling, hardness, pus, etc.) Make sure each gland expresses milk easily, without pain and without clots.
  • Keep an eye on vaginal discharge (looking for signs of infection) Make sure bitch eats, drinks, and relieves herself.

Problems to Watch For

  • Metritis (Inflammation of the Uterus)
    • Signs of this condition are as follows:
      • fever
      • foul-smelling vaginal discharge
      • listlessness
      • loss of appetite
      • no interest in the puppies
      • decreased milk production
    • If these signs are noted, usually in the first day or two postpartum, a veterinarian should be consulted. The dog may have retained a placenta or have suffered some trauma during delivery. Animals who have required assistance with delivery are often predisposed to metritis.
  • Eclampsia
    • This condition results when the bitch has trouble supporting the calcium demand of lactation. Calcium supplementation predisposes a bitch to this condition. Usually affected animals are small dogs. They demonstrate:
      • nervousness and restlessness
      • no interest in the pups
      • stiff, painful gait
    • This progresses to:
      • muscle spasms
      • inability to stand
      • fever
      • seizures
    • This condition generally occurs in the first three weeks of lactation and a veterinarian should be consulted immediately.
  • Mastitis (Inflammation of the Breasts)
    • Normal nursing glands are soft and enlarged. Diseased glands are red, hard, and painful. In general, the bitch does not act sick; the disease is confined to the mammary tissue. The bitch may be sore and discourage the pups from nursing. Hot packing and hand milking the affected gland is usually recommended. Antibiotics may be used.

Post-natal: The Puppy

  • Week One (Days 1-7)
    • 90% of time spent sleeping
    • 10% eating
    • Susceptible to heat/cold; Keep whelping box around 85 degrees Fahrenheit (this means if it's hotter than that out, put a fan in the room or turn on the air conditioning, if it's colder than that get a heat lamp to put above the whelping box)
    • Instinctive reflexes: crawl, seek warmth, nurse; They can right themselves if placed upside down
    • Needs stimulation for urination/defecation
    • Rapid development of central nervous system
    • Need constant care from bitch
    • Rectal temperatures 94-97 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Pups may lose 10% of weight after birth, but should start gaining again. Weight should double by end of week. Chart weight daily (2 x daily first 2 days) Important to weigh at the same time each day
  • Week Two (Days 8-14)
    • Eyes should open around days 8-10
    • Ears should open around days 13-17
    • Temperatures should be around 97-99F
    • Keep whelping box around 80-83F
    • Begin holding puppies in different ways (applying light stress)
    • Trim nails weekly
  • Week Three (Days 15-21)
    • Teeth begin to erupt
    • Puppies stand up and start walking, and defecate/urinate without stimulation
    • Begin to lap liquids
    • Start becoming aware of environment and start playing with littermates
    • Develop sense of smell, therefore, puppies will start to discriminate as to where to relieve themselves
    • Start adding stimuli (toys) to puppies' life and start giving specific stresses when handling (i.e.. pinch an ear or toe gently).
    • Start giving pups milk replacer to lap for one meal a day -- after two days, add some very mushy food
    • Weigh puppies every 2 days
    • Start weekly grooming sessions (brush, trim nails, look at teeth, etc.)
  • Week Four (Days 22-28)
    • Begin to eat food. Offer food that is the consistency of cooked oatmeal
    • Begin to bark, wag tails, bite, paw, bare teeth, growl and chase, however, they tire easily
    • Depth perception starts
    • Keep mom with them a lot! Things can get oovveerrwwhheellmmiinngg at this age and Mom will add stability for them
    • Each pup needs individual attention
  • Week Five (Days 29-35)
    • Group activities and sexual play will begin and dominance order starts
    • Rapid growth/development
    • Reduce fluids in puppies' food; Begin weaning
    • Make sure other people start coming to see pups
    • Begin to accustom the puppies to everyday sounds. Play radio at normal volume near pups for 5 minutes at a time
  • Week 6-8 (Days 26-56)
    • Growth and development continue
    • Offer soft, damp food
    • Chart weekly weight
    • Individual attention crucial -- give each puppy time with you away from litter
    • Total hearing/visual capacity; Will investigate anything
    • Pups should be gradually weaned and on regular puppy food
    • At week 8, puppies should be ready to go to their new homes.

Recognition of the Sick Puppy

  • Failure to gain weight
  • Cries incessantly
  • Poor to no suckle reflex
  • Separates from litter or dam
  • Limp when picked up; bloated
  • Wrinkled if dehydrated
  • Low body temperature: 78-94F
  • Nasal or ocular discharge

Whelping your own puppies can be very rewarding, but it is very time intensive and can be heart-breaking. You can lose the mother, the litter, or both. And of course, once the puppies are of age (preferably 8 weeks) then there is the process of finding them homes. This can also be rewarding and heartbreaking.

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Why does my dog eat grass?

by Andrea Rediger

A very common question posed to veterinarians is whether or not it's normal for dogs to eat grass. There has been much speculation as to the cause, but we still don't have a great answer. Some assert that dietary deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, and roughage are to blame. However, given that most commercial dog foods are plant based, the tendency to eat grass is unlikely to be due to a deficiency but instead represents ingestion of a natural component of the diet.

Another theory states that undomesticated dogs are naturally omnivores (meatand plant-eaters) therefore domesticated dogs instinctively include plant material in their diet. Alternatively, some speculate that undomesticated dogs would ingest plant material in the stomachs of their prey, and therefore the species developed a 'taste' for it.

We do know that ingestion of grass makes some dogs vomit, which can be worrisome to owners. Some experts believe that dogs eat grass in order to relieve an upset stomach by vomiting. But how do we know that it wasn't the grass that gave the dog the upset stomach to begin with? And why do some dogs eat lots of grass but never vomit?

Maybe dogs just like to eat grass. Maybe it tastes good or has a pleasing texture. Perhaps it's a compulsive behavior or something we condition with unintentional reinforcement. Who can say for sure why dogs choose to eat what they do? What makes a rotting carcass and the new sofa such delectable treats?

On the other hand, we care about our pets and want to make sure we give them the proper care if they are sick. Your veterinarian can determine whether your dog has an underlying gastrointestinal disease with a physical exam, fecal exam, and blood tests including a blood count and chemistry panel. The blood count tells us if there is inflammation or blood loss that could indicate bleeding into the GI tract; the chemistry panel assesses the health and function of body systems including the pancreas and liver which are intricately associated with the gastrointestinal tract. If your veterinarian diagnoses GI disease, proper treatment can be prescribed.

So when should you call your veterinarian? If your pet experiences lethargy, diarrhea, or weight loss concurrent with grass-induced vomiting, he or she should see the doctor. If not, you can probably rest easy knowing that your dog is just doing what dogs do.

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