We often forget how hazardous common items and foods can be for our pets. Below is a comprehensive list of items to keep away from your pets. This is a great list to keep on your refrigerator or someplace accessible to the whole family. In addition to this list keep the phone numbers for your local veterinarian and emergency veterinarian visible as well. It is important to stay calm and act quickly when a pet has consumed something toxic. Even after ingesting many of these items, it can take several hours for your pet to show symptoms. If you have witnessed your pet ingesting something or just suspect that your pet has consumed something dangerous contact your veterinarian immediately.
Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet
Chocolate (all forms)
Coffee (all forms)
Moldy or spoiled foods
Onions, onion powder
Raisins and grapes
Products sweetened with xylitol (most sugar free gum contains xylitol)
Other Household items
Compost piles Fertilizers
Swimming-pool treatment supplies
Fly baits containing methomyl
Slug and snail baits containing metaldehyde
Ice melting products
Rat and mouse bait
Fabric softener sheets
Guest post by Leslie Cook - Lifelong animal lover and pet boutique owner of Woof Life in Crown Point, IN, with a passion for proactive pet care. If you are in the area please stop by and visit our store – http://www.wooflife.com/
Should I let my performance dog play with other dogs? My dog may suffer an injury.
This is a common concern for canine athlete owners and trainers; injuries in general are concerns, so why take a risk with an athlete that will have to perform? The thought about not letting them play with other dogs to reduce the chance of injuries is common however is it right? In one study performance dog play with the human handler is important especially right before an event. It helps with keeping the dog focused during the event. But how about dog on dog play? Should you let your prized performance dog play with that other dog? - You want the short opinionated answer, yes you should allow your performance dog to play with other dogs.
Let’s go through my reasoning for allowing performance dogs to play.
First – your fear here is injuries,right? Why are you letting your dog do an athletic event in the first place? It is much more likely to be injured in its sport than playing with another dog. The most common type of injuries in performance dogs are repetitive stress injuries – shoulder instability, carpal strains, cruciate ruptures, and tendon/ligament strains/tears.The most frequent type of injuries that veterinarians see are broken bones from car accidents and other equally severely traumatic events and then the next most common has to be cruciate ruptures. In canine sport medicine practices cruciates and other tendon/ligament injuries are the most common – the repetitive stress injuries. Besides lacerations to ears and the skin on other areas of the body, dog play does not cause very many injuries and the injuries that it does cause are not likely to affect performance.
Second – dogs are pack animals. The nature of a dog is to be and interact with other dogs and that includes playing. Apologies to my single dog family homes for the next statement, but dogs that are not allowed to interact with other dogs are more likely to have behavior disorders. So for the mind of the performance dog, it would be best to allow the dog to have its natural tendencies and then control/moderate the activity. Dog play is going to help the dog in other aspects, such as relaxation (we all know – all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy), develops coordination and muscle development utilizing different muscles than the normal routine of training which will help balance, and can learn from the other dog such as restraint and impulse control.
Lastly – is your dog a superstar, and no, not in your own mind? Is it one of the top dogs in the nation? Are you going for your second national title in your chosen canine sport? If you are, then you are in the top 1% (and I am being generous) of canine performance dog owners. So then why do all these owners do it, when only a select handful make it to the top? Very few are making money from it, even some of the top are spending money not making it. It must not be about being the top or about making money, it has to be about something else. For the majority, it is about having fun with the dog. OK, then how about it? You are going to prevent your dog from having fun, because you have a fear that it is possibly going to injure itself so that it will not miss out on the opportunity to perform something else that is fun but is more likely to cause injury? How does that make any sense?
Let the dog be a dog and let your performance dog play! There is much less of a chance of injury playing than in the sport itself, it helps the behavior and mind set of the dog and its fun!
Do you really want to prevent performance related injuries, then stop worrying about your performance dog playing with other dogs and condition your dog against the repetitive stress injuries by purchasing (and then using) one of Dr. Chris Zink’s Canine Sports Production books, Clean Run’s Canine Fitness and Conditioning videos, or Dr. Debbie Gross Saunders’ Strengthening and Stretching the Performance Dog videos. You will have a happier and healthier performance dog!
I am asked quite often if a dog owner should be giving a Leptospirosis vaccine to their dog. In typical non-committal the owner makes the final decisions about their dog fashion I usually answer – “it depends”.
To be honest I am on the fence about it. In Illinois and in Indiana, which is where I live, it is endemic. Meaning it is all over the place here. There are estimates of 50% of the raccoon population carry the disease. Lepto is transmissible to humans and you can get it from your infected dog. Your dog can die from the disease or it can cause permanent kidney disease in dogs and humans. For those reasons it is important to vaccinate. In fact most veterinarians stop right there when describing lepto in order to convince you how necessary it is for your dog to receive the vaccine. It can be a scary disease.
So why would I be on the fence about such a horrific disease? Well, Lepto is a bacteria (spirochete) so the vaccine is not as long lasting as vaccine that protect against viruses, and it has to be given every year. In the past, the vaccine produced some significant side effects, the vaccine is cleaner now which has reduced some of the side effects, but it seems that some dogs are still experiencing them. Lepto has numerous strains more than 20, the vaccine protects only against 4 (the most common ones), so even if your dog is vaccinated it still can contract lepto, become sick and possibly transmit it to you or your children.
So if you have a healthy dog and you have wildlife in your backyard or you have a dog that does spend time out in the woods, ponds, or areas that are known to have a lot of wildlife then the Lepto vaccination would be appropriate. However, if your dog has allergies or other immune system issues then you need to consider that giving an annual vaccine is not the best for the health of your dog. Also one thing to know is that lepto is not a death sentence. It is a bacterial infection and if caught early can be treated successfully with no long term effects. It has to be caught, tested for, and treated. There in lies the problem. Many owners are slow to bring the dog to the vet and many vets do not think of lepto first when the dog comes in lethargic with signs of a urinary tract infection, because it usually isn’t. Most of the time symptoms like that is a simple bacterial infection not a kidney destroying life threatening zoonotic (that means humans can catch it) disease. The main difference is usually lethargy, if the dog is acting sick and has a urinary tract infection it is important to test for Lepto especially in endemic areas.
If you have more questions then ask away in the comment section below.
Here are a couple of articles with other opinions -
Everyday I see it, the pudgy dog whose owner just loves them to death literally. There is an epidemic in this country with obesity and that includes our dogs. Obesity in dogs, as in humans, leads to several health problems such as diabetes, respiratory issues, skin conditions and most important from my perspective on canine movement is osteoarthritis. Yes, osteoarthritis can be caused by canine obesity. Your dog being overweight puts more stress, strain, and ultimately more inflammation on joints and leads to destruction of the cartilage. So these owners with the little pudgy dogs that can’t help themselves and just have to feed that cute little face are killing them with their kindness.
What is very interesting is owner’s perception of their dog being overweight versus what we as veterinarians perceive as overweight. It is a sensitive subject for owners that their dog is fat. A British study published last year shows “Although a high proportion of owners claimed to have discussed the dog’s weight with their veterinarian, some discrepancies were apparent between owner perception of animal weight and the veterinarian’s evaluation of body condition score. Owner disagreement was significantly greater for the veterinarian-defined overweight dogs (P=0·005). Owners often provide personal narratives to account for their dog’s weight status.” The study concluded that verbal communication should not be the only information given to an owner of an overweight dog.
There have been several other studies recently in regards to the prevention and/or the decrease in progression of arthritis in dogs that were fed restricted calorie diets. A diet of only 25% reduction in calories has shown to decrease the incidence of arthritis in elbows, hips, and shoulders of dogs and it was noted in one study that it increased the average age of the dogs by almost 2 years!
Talk to your vet, talk to a canine nutritionist about how to feed your dog appropriately. Realize that the dog food companies are trying to sell you food and that the amounts on the bag that they recommend feeding are only estimates and of course they are on the high side for most dogs because the more your dog eats the more food you will buy. If your dog is already overweight do not treat him like a human and feed a diet high in fiber that will just produce gas. I know that those of you that have tried the store bought “diet” foods have experienced the problem with high fiber diets and your dog really is the one to blame for clearing a room. The first order of business is to talk to your vet, have an exam and possibly some blood tests to be sure your dog does not have an underlying condition causing him to be overweight; however in my experience it usually is the amount and quality of food being fed.
The best steps to take (after the visit to the vet) for the overweight dog is to go to a diet that is species appropriate which means for your dog a carnivorous or meat based diet with no grain. Similar to people some dogs have a problem with grain and especially gluten and no not celiac disease but rather grains being pro-inflammatory, meaning it promotes inflammation. Increased inflammation in the body can lead to weight gain, similar to people that have a puffy appearance. It makes it very difficult to lose weight. It is best to feed your dog a meat based, grain free diet and count the calories. Use the following formula for an estimate of what your dog requires for calories per day Calories = 132 x (body weight in kilograms) X 0.75
For example the daily energy requirements of a 20 lb dog -
Convert pounds to kilograms ( 1 lbs = 0.454 kg)
20 lbs x 0.454 = 9.08 kg
Determine the metabolic body weight (kg0.75)
9.08 x .75 = 6.81
Multiply metabolic body weight by 132 (for the average dog)
6.81 x 132 = 898.92 or 900 kcal per day
So a 20 lb dog needs only 900 kcal per day total. To do a reducing diet you need to reduce the calories by 25% which is 75% of the total 900 X .75 = 675 kcal per day.
You can calculate an estimate of calories of the food you are feeding by using University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine formula of 3.5 kcal per gram of protein and carbohydrates and 8.5 kcal per gram of fat. Just use the percentages found on the side of the bag and weigh a cup of the food to determine how many calories are in each cup. You will find some interesting results and that maybe, just maybe, you have been overfeeding your dog.
Remember a thin dog is a healthy dog and a long lived dog, one that is not as likely to have arthritis or other diseases. So the next time you go to give that begging fat face a treat just because he wants it; realize he doesn’t know what you know – he doesn’t know you are killing him
Another great article with even more specifics – Pet Food Calorie Mis-Information
A dog food calculator – Dog Food Calculator
Carnivores are not vegans – sounds logical doesn’t it? Not so to some people and even a couple of Premium dog food companies that seem to want to make money versus doing what’s right for our dogs.
Our dogs are carnivores, they are not strict carnivores and can eat vegetables, however just because dogs fed plant-based diets can stay alive does not make it the best for them. An optimal biologically appropriate diet for a carnivore is to have a meat based diet. An optimal biologically appropriate diet allows the dog to thrive not just survive. It provides them with the nutrients needed for a healthy immune system and a solid base for a long healthy life.
A carnivores digestive system is not designed for efficiently digesting plant material. It does not have the appropriate enzymes in saliva to break down starch. Also the digestive system is too short in comparison to herbivores and does not contain enough of the necessary enzymes for proper breakdown of plant material. This makes it difficult to digest plant material and to be able to gain the optimal nutrients, such as amino acids. Dogs do not produce amino acids very well and so it is necessary to provide them in their diet. Essential amino acids for dogs come from high quality animal protein, such as beef, chicken, turkey, duck, fish, lamb, venison, and bison.
Another problem with feeding a vegetable/starch based diet to a dog is that it can over work their pancreas. The pancreas of a carnivore produces enzymes used to process fats and protein. When you feed plant material it produces more enzymes to try to break it down. A long term over production of enzymes overtaxes the pancreas making it more likely to malfunction. A malfunctioning pancreas can lead to pancreatitis and/or diabetes and not so surprisingly can lead to obesity.
So for those of you eating a vegan or vegetarian diet for your health, you must realize that your digestive system is that of an omnivore and is different than that of a carnivore. Your dog is a carnivore and it needs a meat based diet. Please for the health of your dog, feed it what it was biologically created to eat.
It is that time of year again it’s Chocolate season! It starts with Halloween and ends at Christmas. This is where us humans gain several pounds due to good food and even better candy. Chocolate is a favorite of mine and truly a favorite of many. However our dogs should not be indulging in chocolate, it is toxic to them. Depending on how much your dog weighs and how much your dog eats will decide whether your dog will be OK, have gastrointestinal symptoms, have seizures or even die.
It is the theobromine that is in chocolate that is really toxic to dogs and certain chocolate is much more toxic than other types. Depending on how much theobromine is in the chocolate will decide on how toxic. For example White Chocolate has very little theobromine and it takes quite a large amount to be toxic in dogs, in comparison baking chocolate or real cocoa is highly toxic to dogs, because it has a lot of theobromine.
Usually I tell people to go to the cool interactive chart offered several years ago by National Geographic – it still available here – National Geographic Chocolate Chart
However this year a fellow veterinarian, Dr Marie from AskAVetAQuestion.com offered me a free Chocolate Toxicity Calculator to put right here on my site. So thanks Dr. Marie!
Calculator provided by Ask A Vet Question.
Canine Case of the Week is Bear a special dog with Intervertebral Disk Disease in the cervical spine. What makes Bear special is that he is also a cancer patient, OK he is a good dog too! Bear is one of my lucky patients that has been able to take advantage of the new information about acupuncture I have learned from the Chi Institute in my process to acupuncture certification.
Bear is a 10 year old neutered male black Lab. He was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma of the jaw in December 2010. The tumor was wrapped around his lower canine and it bled every time he ate. When it was discovered that it was cancer Bear underwent surgery to have the front third of his lower jaw removed. He recovered fine from the surgery and no longer had bleeding every time he ate.
Shortly after his jaw surgery he started limping on his left front leg. Of course thinking the worse his owner brought him right away to a specialist and discovered that no the cancer had not spread but actually Bear had a strained tendon in his elbow. The specialist injected the elbow with corticosteroid and the limping improved. Unfortunately he developed a neck problem 2 weeks afterwards.
Bear has had issues with his neck for a long time. He would be stiff and a little painful to the touch. His owner would give him aspirin and in a day he would bounce back, however this time was different. He did not bounce back and in fact became worse. He could not turn his head to the left without being in pain. Back to the vet Bear went. His cervical spine was radiographed and luckily no signs of cancer, but also no significant findings for a problem relating to his pain in the neck. He was diagnosed with Cervical Intervertebral Disk Disease or Cervical IVDD. An MRI could be done to confirm the diagnosis but with the expense, the fact that an MRI may not be as reliable as once thought for diagnosis of IVDD, the fact that Bear has gone through a lot already and most important the owner was not wishing to put Bear through another surgery and only wants him comfortable for how ever many months she has left with Bear, an MRI was not performed and Bear was given typical conservative pain management pharmaceuticals – muscle relaxers and pain relievers. He did this for a couple of months. It did not help enough and in May it became much worse. He could not raise his head comfortably and he was placed on more pain relievers. In June when nothing else seemed to be helping Bear’s owner called me.
My first visit Bear was mildy depressed but still happy to visit. He could not raise his head very well, looked uncomfortable and certainly could not turn his head left. He was not sleeping well at night. He was very painful when touching his neck or trying to move his head. I spent time massaging and doing chiropractic adjustments to help relieve some of his tension and pain. I also prescribed Gabapentin for the neuropathic pain since none of the pain relievers he was on were seeming to help.
A week later I revisited and readjusted. He was improved. His pain was mostly gone but he still could not turn his head to the left.
The next week I revisited again and now he could turn his head about 50% to the left and still no pain. I adjusted him again and was happy with the progress. However Bear had other plans with his new found reduction in pain.
The problem with giving a dog pain relievers, or doing modalities such as chiropractic or acupuncture is that they do relieve pain. The problem with relieving pain is that the area is still healing and can take 12 weeks to heal completely, but since there is no pain the dog will use the area like there is nothing wrong. If the dog feels better and does something it should not it can re-injure the area and start the whole cascade of events all over. That’s what Bear did!
He was happy feeling better and became excited one day. The owner knew that she needed to keep him calm and not do any activity with him, but Bear had other ideas and decide to play hard for a couple minutes and re-injured himself. When I saw him we were back to square one! He was in pain again and could not turn his head at all. We started over. I massaged and adjusted him and and was coming back the next week, after my trip to the Chi Institute.
Monday, after my course work at the Chi Institute I visited Bear He was out of pain but still could not move his head to the left. I had some small needles that I usually use for horse legs. I did some acupuncture for Bear’s neck and I have a laser machine and lasered a few acupuncture points as well. The treatment lasted about 20 min. After the treatment was over, Bear got up shook all over and whined at the door. He went out, went to the bathroom, came back in and went right for his toy box. The owner and I were quick to tell him – OH NO. She told him to go lay down. The owner and I could tell he was feeling very spunky and wanted to play. He felt very good. So I went onto my soapbox and told her how he needed to rest and definitely needed to be confined and not allowed to play. The problem with acupuncture is that they feel too good and can re-injure themselves. All the while I was talking (preaching) Bear was laying with his right side against a wall, obviously upset that he was told he could not play, and at one point the owner and I looked at him and he looked back at us. It only took a couple seconds for it to register that he was turning his head to the left to look straight back at us!
Here was a dog that had for months not been able to turn his head to the left and I thought I had made some big progress with the chiropractic treatments to get him to turn his head 50% of the way and now he was turning his head like nothing was ever wrong. He had no pain and had full range of motion from one 20 min treatment of acupuncture.
Today I visited Bear and he is almost completely normal. He is off all the medications except for the Gabapentin which he has started weaning off. He has a little limp in his left front leg but his neck shows no sign of pain and has about 90% range of motion. I treated him with electroacupuncture today and will visit him again in two weeks.
I have a new found respect for acupuncture and will be incorporating it more and more in my treatment protocols. I will be suggesting it to clients more frequently and eventually I can see that my practice will be a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine practice using herbs and acupuncture with some chiropractic and physical therapy added. Thank you Bear for the excellent results that were way beyond my expectations. With more treatments I am hoping to help him with his elbow pain and extend his life comfortably despite living with an aggressive cancer.
With the wider acceptance of raw feeding for dogs, meaning feeding uncooked meats, with bone and vegetables and seeing how it is helping a number of dogs with health issues and improving overall health for dogs, a couple of companies are reaching out to vets and have veterinary programs to help veterinarians determine when and how to institute a raw feeding program for their clients.
Nature’s Variety has a program helping vets become more aware and more knowledgeable about raw feeding. I have their vet packet in front of me, which is filled with information and ways to find out more information. Interesting information such as case studies, online resources and a good explanation on why their raw food is safe, using High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) which kills harmful bacteria but does not affect proteins, enzymes, nutrients, prebiotics, vitamins or minerals.
Nature’s Variety has been helping vets get over the other hurdle of feeding raw by going through the process of AAFCO food trials to be certified complete and balanced. According to NV they are the 1st and only raw food company to have done this; not that it matters to most raw feeders, but it does matter to the scientific community including veterinarians.
Some of the disease conditions that vets use nutrition to help treat that can be benefited by raw feeding are food allergies, obesity, digestive disorders, skin and coat disorders and diabetes. I am really impressed by this company taking the time to try and integrate the raw feeding world and bring it to the scientifically based veterinary community that many times is concerned with new and non-traditional ways of treating pets and improving their health.
What are your thoughts? Would you like to see more companies like Nature’s Variety go mainstream and try to connect with more veterinarians or do you think raw feeding is a fad and will die off or become a cult for a select few?
OK So this really is not THE 10 Best Websites For Dog Lovers but rather a difference of opinion to an article on Business Insider with the same title. I firmly believe there is no such list as the 10 BEST websites. Opinions change, websites change at a rapid pace, and it is difficult with all the information available out there and with all the websites out there what criteria do you use to say a website is THE best? So why am I writing this then?
It is blatantly obvious in Evan Britton’s article The 10 Best Websites For Dog Lovers (click for the article) that the sites he chose are not based on proper research but something else. I am not sure if it is, as some of the commentors wrote, just the paid or sponsored websites that are being mentioned in the list or ignorance. Is it he threw a list together with no research and just put familiar names he knew just so he could promote his own two websites in the list…and what is with that? I know I am very proud of my own website here and I do promote it but to call it one of the top websites for dog lovers is reaching a little and so is Evan. I don’t know how he formulated his list but in my opinion it is NOT the best list.
So I decided using my own dog knowledge with a slant on what is best for a dog’s health, based on popularity of the passionate dog owners, caretakers and professionals that I interact with, along with finding some of the least biased information I could on the topics Evan suggested in his list, to formulate what I would consider THE 10 Best Websites For Dog Lovers list. Please passionate dog lovers please correct my list in the comments and we can provide an even better list than THE best.
1. Pet Food – OK just giving a store and a big chain at that as your BEST website for dog food? There are some big changes happening in the pet food industry especially with the dog food recalls going on. Many pet owners need more knowledge about pet food and what is best for their dog. Besides there are so many online stores that will ship dog food to your door with the same if not better customer service than PetCo. Not that PetCo is bad just not the best. How about a couple websites telling you which dog food is the best and why?
Dog Food Analysis and Dog Food Scoop. These two sites will help you choose the best kibble for your dog that is if you are not cooking for your dog or feeding raw which would be better for most dogs anyway.
2. Dog Breeders – Not even going to go there. Full disclosure here – I have a purebred, but for a specific purpose and if you want a purebred for a specific purpose then fine do research and choose an appropriate breeder by going through the appropriate channels which is not going to the website mentioned on Evan’s list! However if you are looking for a family pet and want to really feel good about getting a dog that really needs you check out one of the best websites for dog adoption – Pet Finder
3. Puppy Names – his website was mentioned here. Um – Ok it probably is a fun website but whatever – NOT a 10 best website.
4. Dog Whisperer & 9. Common Dog Problems – Both of the sites he mentions for these categories are single person trainers. One trainer is not the best for everyone. Even though these sites provide a lot of information for helping you, they provide a lot more by purchasing something. Fine everyone needs to make a living, but is Cesar’s Way the best way? Well even Cesar himself will tell you that it is best if you are having behavior problems with your dog to have a trained professional work personally with you to help solve the problem. So why not a website that will provide you the information to search for such a trainer? Purdue University has a dog behavior modification course and provides a list of individuals that have completed the course. Another list of trainers can be found at Truly Dog Friendly, which is a list of trainers that use training methods that are pain free. Or if you want to do it yourself but can’t decide which method/s to use how about a scientific approach to dog training? Although this website is old (2001) it provides excellent information on training from an educational/scientific standpoint Dr. P’s Dog Training & Behavior. It provides opinions from many different perspectives not just one trainer and one method.
5. Dog Health – He got one right here! But isn’t this where I promote my own website?
Have to admit it, VetInfo is a good solid source of information. With that said, your best source of information about your dog’s health is the veterinarian that is taking care of your dog.
6. Dog Insurance- with all the articles out there bantering back and forth as to whether or not pet insurance is even worth the premiums, I think it is bad form to single out one insurance company as the best. This is especially bad, when you go to the review sites about insurance companies and you find that although the one Evan chose is one of the most popular here in the US, it is not the best as decided by consumers. So now if you do decide that pet insurance is something you want to look into, how about looking into the choices you have and deciding for yourself which insurance company is right for you – Pet Insurance Review An unbiased look at the options for insurance companies, with customer reviews and ratings.
7. Dog Breeds – OK Dog Breed Info does provide the information on dog breeds but it is not as slick or cool as Animal Planet’s – Dog Breed Directory
8. Labradors – um – his own website I see. Well how about my breedist views – Border Collie
already did 9 back at 4 since they are basically the same thing.
10. Pet Travel Guides – Another one right! Dog Friendly is a cool website helping dog owners find places while traveling that are dog friendly.
Full disclosure – I do not own or operate any of the sites in this list.
In-depth article about whether you really should have health insurance or not for your dog. I agree that you really need to know how much you are spending on the health of your dog now to decide whether health insurance is right and what type of health insurance you should be purchasing. The health insurance company makes all the difference as well – choose the wrong one and you will be out a lot of money on monthly premiums with no pay backs on your vet bills.
Since most pet owners have health insurance for themselves, many wonder if their dogs need similar protection. But according to the July 2003 issue of Consumer Reports, “Pet insurance won’t necessarily save you money. In fact, with it, you can end up paying far more for veterinary care than if you don’t have insurance.” The Consumer Reports analysis indicates that purchasing pet insurance might increase the amount an owner pays in veterinary costs by thousands of dollars over the life of the pet. The magazine considers pet insurance to be “a form of enforced savings that almost never covers the entire bill.” The magazine reports that putting the premium into your own bank account each month would accomplish the same goal.
If you want a direct financial benefit, Christine Zink, D.V.M., who is well versed in sports-related canine injuries, has a good suggestion. She says, “You need to have really complete records of your dogs’ veterinary bills over a period of at least three years.” You need to know exactly how much you spend on veterinary care and on exactly what services and procedures.