5 COMMON DOG BARKS TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH

 

Would you like to understand your dog better? Then it’s essential that you know what a dog is trying to communicate through its barks. We explain in plain English what the 5 most common dog barks actually mean.

 

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid and CPR

We offer:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Seasonal Allergies in Dogs-4 Signs

Our dogs are just as susceptible to environmentally triggered allergies—they just can’t tell us how they feel. Seasonal allergies are a huge problem in veterinary medicine. Because allergies in dogs are so common, there’s a good chance your dog could be suffering. Here is a list of signs your pet may have seasonal allergies.

1. Scratching and Biting

One of the most common symptoms people bring in their pets for is itchiness. Dogs often react bys cratching or biting themselves to relieve the itching. They are just scratching like crazy, and their skin is red and inflamed.

While the best thing to do if your dog is scratching or biting is take him to the vet, a bath using mild shampoo can offer temporary relief. If the allergy is related to trees, pollen, or grass, then that can help wash these triggers off of them.

2. Inflamed and Infected Skin

One of the more serious side effects of allergies in dogs is a skin infection, which is usually related to chronic scratching. Most pets develop red, itchy skin and secondary skin infections.

A trip to a veterinarian is a good idea, but in the meantime, clean your dog’s skin with witch hazel, which is “soothing and drying,” applying cool green or black tea bags to the skin, or moisturizing with coconut oil. If the infection has a very bad odor or the pet is lethargic, lacks appetite, or is not clearing within 48 hours, a trip to the veterinarian is warranted.

3. Excessive Shedding

Also related to allergy-induced itching and skin infection is “hair loss and increased shedding.” Dandruff is also a common side effect of allergies, since they can severely dry out the skin and cause it to flake.

If your dog is scratching enough to prompt hair loss, it’s probably time to take them to the vet. “If your pet is really bothered by this, please talk to your vet,” Truitt stresses. “There are a lot of really good prescription medications that we can start your pet on, and we can put together a plan.

4. Paw Licking

Compulsive paw licking is a common sign of allergies in dogs. “Facial rubbing” is a similar behavior that’s related to histamines, or chemicals in the immune system triggered by allergies.

When dogs have allergies, they push out the histamines and they push them towards their extremities, such as their ears, paws, anal region, or face.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid and CPR

We offer:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

 

How to Calm Your Dog During a Thunderstorm

 

If you’re like many dog owners, you’ve witnessed the terror that summer storms can strike in your pet. “Thunder phobia” most commonly develops in dogs between ages two and four, according to animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell. This fear can manifest as a variety of challenging behaviors—hiding, whining, scratching, slobbering, or tearing down door frames in a state of panic—and it can get worse with age.

What’s important to remember is that dogs suffering from thunderstorm fear are not misbehaving, says animal behaviorist Lindsay Wood of the Boulder Valley Humane Society. They’re displaying symptoms of anxiety.

Vets and animal specialists aren’t certain exactly what part of a storm causes dogs the most discomfort – the noise, the flashing lights, or something else entirely. Some dogs may be worriers in general and panic at any change, while others may be overly sensitive to sound, according to CJ Bentley of the Michigan Humane Society. Dogs also possess special sensitivities that make storms even more terrifying: dogs can sense the change in air pressure, and may hear low-frequency rumblings that humans can’t detect. Some vets also believe dogs experience shocks from the buildup of static electricity that accompanies thunderstorms.

To help your dog cope with stormy weather, Cynthia Bolte , who works on the animal behavior team at Purina, offers the following tips:

  • If there are windows in the room, close the blinds or curtains, or cover the windows so the dog can’t see outside.
  • Provide a safe indoor area, like a crate. A plastic crate is preferable, but if you have a wire crate, you can cover it with a sheet to create the feeling of a haven. Leave the door open so the dog does not feel trapped.
  • Play calming music to drown out the thunder claps.
  • Stay with the dog.
  • Try to distract your dog with treats and familiar games.
  • If your dog seems most upset by sound, you can try desensitization. Download thunderstorm sounds and practice by playing them quietly to your dog, and give the dog treats or play a fun game with him while the sound is on. Gradually, over weeks, increase the volume. Stop the play or treats when the sounds are turned off. The goal is to help your dog relate the sound of thunderstorms with happy times.
  • Use calming massage to reassure the dog.

There are a few products that might help your dog relax as well.

Tight jackets such as the Thundershirt provide a sensation of pressure, which can alleviate pets’ anxiety. (Swaddling a baby operates on the same principle.) You can also make a DIY version by buying a small T-shirt and putting the dog’s front legs through the armholes of the shirt. The shirt should fit snugly around your dog’s torso.

  • Visual filters such as the Thundercap reduce visual stimulation and can be soothing to dogs.
  • In severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend a low dose of an anti-anxiety medication.

Your veterinarian is the best person to talk to when it comes to helping your dog cope with storms. He or she will be best equipped to pinpoint exactly which stimulus is troubling your pet.

Most importantly, practice positive reinforcement with your dog. Do not scold or punish her for her displays of anxiety, but remember that her behavior is not about disobedience, but about high levels of fear. And that old saw about not comforting your dog because it “reinforces” the fear? Not true at all. Do anything you can to help your dog feel better; teaching her new, pleasant associations is the best way to reduce fearful behavior.

We hope these tips help you and your dog weather the season’s storms.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid and CPR

We offer:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Correcting Bad Dog Behavior: 5 Examples

 5 Bad Behaviors Dog Parents Encourage

5 Bad Behaviors Dog Parents Encourage

We all strive to be the best pet parents we can be, but we often accidentally encourage those naughty behaviors that drive us nuts. Sometimes these behaviors develop slowly as your dog matures, while other times, it’s just a single episode where your dog learns that the behavior “works” that sets it in stone.

It’s challenging to stop a behavior with a strong reward history. For example, if your dog has been getting goodies off of your plate every time he whines for months, it could take double the time to “un-train” the behavior as it did for him to start doing it. The following are some of the top pet-parent encouraged problems, along with tips to make them go away forever.

Jumping Up

Jumping Up

This behavior can creep up on you, because at first, getting jumped on seems sort of cute. A dog that leaps up on you is very clearly demonstrating his unbridled affection for you, and we like to be on the receiving end of all that love. So we nurture it with pats, laughter and encouragement, and our dogs learn that we like it when they hop all over us. Then, something changes — be it a growth spurt from puppy to adult dog, a job change that requires wearing nice clothing every day, an injury, or a new baby in the house — and suddenly, the jumping up is not only a nuisance, it can also be dangerous. But try to tell that to your dog, who loves interacting with you this way!

To curb a dedicated jumper, simply stop acknowledging the behavior (a warning: it’s not as easy as it sounds). Any attention counts, so refrain from even scolding your dog when he leaps on you. Wait for a moment of calm when your dog has four paws on the floor — it might be literally just a moment at first — and interact with him at that point. If he jumps up again, turn your back until he stops, then resume contact. Leash your dog and step on the midpoint of the leash if he likes to jump on your guests. That way he can mingle with people without delivering a paw to the gut.

Begging

Begging

They call them “puppy eyes” for a good reason. It’s hard to resist them when your dog gives you that look that seems to say, “I’m starving to death,” so of course you give in and share whatever is on your plate. Our desire to give our dogs bits of people food comes from a place of love, and while that generosity is kind, the reality is you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of splitting your food with your dog.

Leash pulling

Leash pulling

Dogs have places to go and things to pee on, and if your dog is a puller, you’re just an anchor keeping him from the next adventure. Pulling is another “creep up” behavior because we often allow our dogs to pull now and then, not realizing that if we let the pulling continue, we’re going to end up competing with our dogs’ muscle memory. Dogs very quickly learn that “a tight leash means I go forward,” and that feeling of tension around their necks becomes the set point for walking.

The goal is to teach your dog that pulling never works, and a loose leash is the way to go. When your dog pulls, stop walking every single time (you really have to pay attention during this exercise). When he circles back to you, or even looks back at you, offer him a reward right next to you, so that he has to come close to get it, and continue walking. Give your dog intermittent treats for remaining by your side as you stroll, so that’s he’ll soon understand that walking close to you is the best place to be.

Demand Barking

Demand Barking

A dog that barks and expects to get what he wants, whether his dinner or a ball that’s rolled under the couch, is a bossy dog. And if you give him what he’s asking for, you’re keeping the pushy behavior alive. Demand barking tends to work because at the heart of it, we just want the noise to stop. The problem is that it teaches your dog that causing a ruckus is more effective than asking politely.

To start the retraining process, instill a “say please” program, where your dog has to sit for everything he wants. Get him to sit before you toss the ball, or put his food bowl down, or open the door to the yard. At the same time, teach your dog that barking never works. If you’re prepping his dinner and he “yells” at you to hurry up, put his bowl down and walk away. If he barks at you to throw the ball, drop it and do something else. Your dog will soon learn that barking makes you do the opposite of what he wants.

Nipping and Biting

Nipping and Biting

Puppies pass through a predictable nippy stage when they’re teething. This is an uncomfortable rite of passage for puppy parents, but typically ends within a few weeks when the appropriate steps are taken. However, sometimes we allow piranha mouths well past the acceptable expiration date, and end up with an adult dog that thinks it’s okay to communicate with teeth on skin. It might happen because the pet parent has a small dog and thinks it’s fine because the nips don’t hurt. Or maybe it’s because the pet parent is a tough guy and likes to play rough with the dog to get a nippy response. Whatever the case, allowing an adult dog to communicate with his teeth blurs the lines of acceptable behavior.

Although curbing an adult nipper isn’t as easy as tackling it when the dog is young, the way to go about it is exactly the same. Mark the exact moment that your dog’s teeth touch you with a shrill “ouch!” and then walk away for thirty seconds. If your dog mouths you while you’re playing with him, mark the infraction by saying “ouch,” drop the toy and walk away. The combination of the “ouch” marker — to let him know when he crossed the line — and the withdrawal of your attention will soon help your dog understand that you don’t want to hang out with a bitey buddy.

Instead of sharing, give your dog his own delicious treat while you eat. Find a treat-stuffable activity toy or bone that will keep your dog happily occupied during meal time. If your dog finishes before you do and resorts to begging again, ignore him. (Again, if you have a persistent dog it’s not easy to do!) This behavior, like many of these problem behaviors, will likely go through what’s called an “extinction burst,” which is a temporary increase in the begging behavior before it goes away. It’s a challenging but predictable part of the re-training process, and usually an indicator that you’re almost at the finish line, so don’t give up.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid and CPR

We offer:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Newborn Puppies

 

The first few days of a puppy’s life may not be action-packed (it’s a whole lot of sleeping, eating, and pooping, as is the case with most newborns). But there are some things new pet parents should know to ensure their pups grow into healthy and happy dogs.

1. They Develop over a Short Period of Time

Puppies develop and grow inside their mother’s womb for approximately two months. This is the normal gestation period (or length of pregnancy) for dogs. In the sense of development, “a newborn puppy is not unlike a premature child.

At birth, puppies are unable to regulate body temperature, or even urinate or defecate on their own. Puppies depend on their mother and littermates for warmth, huddling in cozy piles to conserve body temperature.

2. They Double Their Weight in a Week

3. They Can’t See or Hear, but They Can Make Noise

Puppies can’t see or hear for the first two weeks of their lives, but they can make puppy noises. “They’ll vocalize right from the beginning. When they are born, the mom will lick the placenta off to stimulate them.

At around 10 days, they’ll start to open their eyes, even though they aren’t fully formed yet. All puppies are born with a blue-gray color to their eyes, their “true” eye color will be evident at around 10 weeks. Most newborn puppies can hear a little bit when they are born. However, their ears are still closed until about 14 days of age.

4. They Sleep and Eat a Lot

Newborn puppies eat every two hours. Even without vision, puppies use their reflexes and instincts to find their mother’s nipple to nurse.

In between feedings, they sleep about 90 percent of the day, or 22 hours.

5. They’re Born with Fur and Nails but No Teeth

Puppies have sharp little nails when they are born. It’s typically best to wait until 4 to 6 weeks of age to clip their nails, but this can be done sooner if they are hurting the mother. They are also born with hair and fur, but the amount depends on the breed. When they’re born, they have a puppy coat.

As they grow over their first year, dogs that shed will shed out their puppy coats and grow their adult coat. Their teeth start coming in at around 4 weeks old. Between 3 and 4 months old, they begin to lose their baby teeth to make way for their adult teeth.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid and CPR

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Dogs with Diabetes; Diabetes in Cats

Certain triggers cause us vet types to start thinking in overdrive during our examinations of pets. A seemingly innocent question, like “How’s his appetite? Has he been drinking more or less than usual?” can actually represent a significant clue in our hunt for answers. A dog or cat, for example, who suddenly starts drinking and urinating a ton more than usual is giving us a big hint that something is wrong with its body—and of the several possible causes, diabetes is one that owners seem to dread hearing the most.

As one of the most common health conditions in middle-aged cats and dogs, a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus is frightening for owners. And it’s true, diabetes is usually a lifelong condition that requires vigilance on the part of owners in order to control. But that also leads to the good news: in many cases it can be managed, and often pets with diabetes continue on to lead long and happy lives.

What is Diabetes in Dogs and Cats?

Diabetes can refer to two unrelated conditions in veterinary medicine: diabetesmellitus (sugar diabetes), and less common diabetes insipidus (water diabetes). As diabetes insipidus is a much rarer condition with a completely different cause and treatment, this article focuses on the prevalent type of diabetes: diabetes mellitus.

The pancreas is an essential organ; it is here that the beta cells that produce insulin reside. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream to enter the body’s cells to be used as an energy source. Diabetes is a condition caused by a loss or dysfunction of the beta cells of the pancreas. In some cases, the pancreas completely loses the ability to manufacture insulin—insulin deficient diabetes, also described as Type 1 diabetes—and the pet is dependent on external administration of the hormone. In other instances, the pet can manufacture insulin, but the body doesn’t respond to it (insulin resistant diabetes, or Type 2 diabetes.)

While it is assumed that pets are either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetics, that isn’t always the case. Rather than being one or the other, diabetes severity can exist on a spectrum. A recent study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine shows that an individual pet’s condition may be more fluid than initially thought. For example, I had learned in school that dogs were almost exclusively Type 1 diabetics, and cats were almost always Type 2. Now we know that isn’t necessarily always the case.

What Causes Diabetes in Dogs and Cats?

There is no one single cause of diabetes in dogs and cats. In some pets, it is a genetic condition; certain breeds such as Australian terriers, Beagles, Samoyeds, and Burmese are at higher risk. Underlying medical conditions such as obesity, pituitary disease, and adrenal disease can predispose a pet to developing diabetes. Medications such as steroids can also induce diabetes in dogs and cats.

What Are the Signs of Diabetes in Dogs and Cats?

No matter the cause, all diabetics have elevated blood sugar that spills over into the urine, causing a predictable array of clinical signs:

  • Drinking and urinating much more frequently. The presence of glucose in the urine prevents the kidneys from effectively doing their job re-absorbing water into the bloodstream.
  • Increased hunger. Despite the high levels of glucose in the blood, the body can’t utilize it for energy. It’s kind of like sitting at a buffet with your mouth taped shut; there’s food everywhere, but it’s not doing you any good. So the body continues to signal pets to eat more and more to raise blood glucose levels.
  • Weight loss. Again, despite the increased appetite, the body can’t do anything with the calories being swallowed, so patients lose weight.
  • Additional signs may include vomiting, poor coat condition, cataracts in dogs, and abnormal gait in cats.

Left untreated, diabetes can lead to liver dysfunction and a life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis. A diabetic pet that is vomiting or disoriented should be evaluated immediately. Without aggressive treatment, diabetic ketoacidosis can lead to brain swelling, kidney failure, pancreatitis, and rapid death.

How is Diabetes Diagnosed in Dogs and Cats?

An initial diagnosis of diabetes does not require special testing outside of standard bloodwork and urinalysis. The main criterion in blood testing is an elevated blood glucose, though other abnormalities are also common. A urinalysis is also highly recommended as the presence of glucose in the urine is one of the hallmarks of diabetes.

Additional tests, such as urine culture to check for urinary tract infections, thyroid testing, and/or x-rays, are also commonly ordered to help gain a thorough picture of the pet’s current state of health.

Because diabetes affects every pet differently, and because some pets are more severely ill at the time of diagnosis than others, an accurate assessment is necessary so that your veterinarian can provide the most effective and timely treatment.

How is Diabetes Treated in Dogs and Cats?

In pets with clinical signs of disease, insulin injections are the mainstay of treatment for both dogs and cats. In cats, glargine and PZI are the insulins most commonly used. In dogs, Lente, NPH, and Vetsulin insulins are the first line insulins used in treatment. Each has its pros and cons in terms of how long it lasts in the bloodstream, how easy it is for owners to obtain, and reasonable cost. For those reasons, the most current American Animal Hospital Association Diabetes Management Guidelines suggest multiple options so that veterinarians and owners can select the best insulin for the pet as a team.

While many owners of a newly diagnosed diabetic worry about administering the injections, most adjust quickly. Insulin injections are given twice a day, timed with a meal, and because of the tiny needle size and volume administered, even the most reticent owners learn quickly that pets don’t seem to mind the shots.

How Quickly Do Pets with Diabetes Improve?

Managing a pet’s blood sugar is both an art and a science. Determining the proper insulin dose does not often happen right away; it can take some time before you and your vet arrive at the right amount of insulin. Many factors, such as stress and illness, can cause variances in blood sugar from day to day, so owners who are attempting to monitor their pets’ blood glucose may find it very confusing, especially in the beginning.

Your veterinarian may suggest a glucose curve—that is, testing blood glucose over the course of a day to make sure the prescribed insulin is properly managing the body’s blood sugar. Some veterinarians also monitor fructosamine, a value obtained from a single blood test that gives a “big picture” look at how the blood glucose has been doing over a several week period.

What Role Does Diet Play in Diabetes Management for Pets?

Everyone has a story about a friend who changed their cat’s diet and no longer needed insulin. While that isn’t the most common outcome, remission is possible in certain cases. And in any case, nutrition is a key component for managing the symptoms for all diabetics.

Dr. Jennifer Larsen, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and Associate Professor of clinical nutrition at the University of California Davis, stresses the importance of an individualized approach. While obesity is a critical risk factor in diabetes, pets of any weight can suffer from diabetes.

“In cats, the loss of body fat can result in remission, while for dogs, improved control (of symptoms) is an important goal,” said Larsen. “Likewise, reversing inappropriate or unwanted weight loss in a thin dog or cat is also important.”

Veterinarians look at two main factors in diabetic diets: the makeup of the diet, and the timing of the feedings.

Dr. Larsen stressed the importance of the timing of meals as much as the amount of the meal itself. “For dogs, feeding management in terms of consistency is important,” says Larsen.

“Since the insulin dose is titrated to the diet, the same amount of the same [food] should be fed at the same times every day.” However, she added that “this appears to be much less important for cats.”

Contrary to common perception, veterinarians do not immediately jump to a new diet in newly diagnosed diabetic pets. Dr. Larson explains that “unless there is a concurrent disease that should be addressed, such as obesity or pancreatitis, and assuming the diet is otherwise appropriate, I usually do not change the diet initially.”

“Ensuring that all of the other aspects of managing a diabetic pet are well controlled is a priority,” says Larsen. For many families, the stress of managing injections and monitoring a pet’s health is challenge enough, and Larsen likes to take a big-picture approach.

Dr. Lisa Weeth, also a board certified veterinary nutritionist, agrees. “While I don’t change the diet initially for canine diabetics, I have found that increasing total dietary fiber does help with managing most cases. It won’t eliminate the need for insulin, but it does help even out the clinical signs throughout the day”

“Avoiding snacks in between meals is important for dogs,” says Weeth. “I have owners either stop treats or confine them to a two hour window after the main meals and account for that in my diet plan.”

High fiber diets are still the mainstay for both dogs and cats. While many people are now advocating a low carbohydrate, high fat and protein diet for diabetics, Larsen urges caution. “These diets are often higher in energy density and not ideal if weight loss is needed, since the volume fed may be too low to satisfy the cat and the owner. Again, an individualized approach is best.”

Weeth also emphasizes the fact that diabetes requirements vary widely depending on the pet and that there is no “one size fits all” approach. Some cats who begin as insulin resistant Type 2 diabetics can progress to insulin deficient Type 1 diabetes over time.

“In Type 1 diabetics, reducing total carb intake or adding fiber may help reduce the insulin dosage, but it doesn’t eliminate the need. For Type 2 diabetics, insulin may be necessary to control the hyperglycemia initially, but if you are able to address the confounding factors (secondary influences), the cat may revert to a non-insulin dependent state for a period of time.”

Diabetes doesn’t have to be an insurmountable problem. Successful management is a team approach with an involved veterinarian and a dedicated and patient owner. If your pet has been recently diagnosed with diabetes, take a deep breath and then get ready to learn some new skills. It’s all worth it.

What Role Does Diet Play in Diabetes Management for Pets?

Everyone has a story about a friend who changed their cat’s diet and no longer needed insulin. While that isn’t the most common outcome, remission is possible in certain cases. And in any case, nutrition is a key component for managing the symptoms for all diabetics.

Dr. Jennifer Larsen, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and Associate Professor of clinical nutrition at the University of California Davis, stresses the importance of an individualized approach. While obesity is a critical risk factor in diabetes, pets of any weight can suffer from diabetes.

“In cats, the loss of body fat can result in remission, while for dogs, improved control (of symptoms) is an important goal,” said Larsen. “Likewise, reversing inappropriate or unwanted weight loss in a thin dog or cat is also important.”

Veterinarians look at two main factors in diabetic diets: the makeup of the diet, and the timing of the feedings.

Dr. Larsen stressed the importance of the timing of meals as much as the amount of the meal itself. “For dogs, feeding management in terms of consistency is important,” says Larsen.

“Since the insulin dose is titrated to the diet, the same amount of the same [food] should be fed at the same times every day.” However, she added that “this appears to be much less important for cats.”

Contrary to common perception, veterinarians do not immediately jump to a new diet in newly diagnosed diabetic pets. Dr. Larson explains that “unless there is a concurrent disease that should be addressed, such as obesity or pancreatitis, and assuming the diet is otherwise appropriate, I usually do not change the diet initially.”

“Ensuring that all of the other aspects of managing a diabetic pet are well controlled is a priority,” says Larsen. For many families, the stress of managing injections and monitoring a pet’s health is challenge enough, and Larsen likes to take a big-picture approach.

Dr. Lisa Weeth, also a board certified veterinary nutritionist, agrees. “While I don’t change the diet initially for canine diabetics, I have found that increasing total dietary fiber does help with managing most cases. It won’t eliminate the need for insulin, but it does help even out the clinical signs throughout the day”

“Avoiding snacks in between meals is important for dogs,” says Weeth. “I have owners either stop treats or confine them to a two hour window after the main meals and account for that in my diet plan.”

High fiber diets are still the mainstay for both dogs and cats. While many people are now advocating a low carbohydrate, high fat and protein diet for diabetics, Larsen urges caution. “These diets are often higher in energy density and not ideal if weight loss is needed, since the volume fed may be too low to satisfy the cat and the owner. Again, an individualized approach is best.”

Weeth also emphasizes the fact that diabetes requirements vary widely depending on the pet and that there is no “one size fits all” approach. Some cats who begin as insulin resistant Type 2 diabetics can progress to insulin deficient Type 1 diabetes over time.

“In Type 1 diabetics, reducing total carb intake or adding fiber may help reduce the insulin dosage, but it doesn’t eliminate the need. For Type 2 diabetics, insulin may be necessary to control the hyperglycemia initially, but if you are able to address the confounding factors (secondary influences), the cat may revert to a non-insulin dependent state for a period of time.”

Diabetes doesn’t have to be an insurmountable problem. Successful management is a team approach with an involved veterinarian and a dedicated and patient owner. If your pet has been recently diagnosed with diabetes, take a deep breath and then get ready to learn some new skills. It’s all worth it.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid and CPR

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

10 Most Contagious Diseases in Dogs

 Knowing the Risks

Knowing the Risks

by Elizabeth Xu

As a dog owner who likely thinks of your dog as a member of your family, you never want them to get ill. After all, our pets can’t exactly tell us what’s wrong. Like humans, dogs can get plenty of diseases—especially from other dogs.

Medicine is always advancing, for both human and animals. And while that means that many of these diseases aren’t as prevalent as they once were, you should still be aware of any disease your dog may be exposed to, whether at the dog park, daycare kennel, or elsewhere.

Canine Parvovirus

Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus is one of the first things puppies get vaccinated for—and with good reason. Puppies with parvo can get severe diarrhea, vomiting, and regurgitation, which can lead to dehydration and death, said Dr. Colin Parrish, professor at the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University.

“Vaccination for parvovirus is highly effective,” he says. “Basically we recommend that everyone get parvovirus vaccines for their puppies. You’d be sort of insane not to vaccinate your puppy against parvovirus.”

The virus is spread orally, through fecal/oral transmission, Parrish said. If a dog becomes infected, it’s important to keep them hydrated and make sure they’re getting nutrients.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) notes that parvo is highly contagious and suggests a thorough cleaning of toys, food and water bowls, and other surfaces with a bleach and water solution if a dog with parvo has been in contact with them.

Canine Influenza

Canine Influenza

Dog flu is spread very much like the human flu, through coughing and sneezing, Parrish said, noting that recovery is also similar to humans in that dogs should be kept warm and comfortable while they recover naturally.

“The canine flu is mostly transmitted these days in animal shelters, so it’s not spreading widely among dogs in general,” he said. He also said there was a large outbreak in a Chicago kennel where hundreds of dogs were infected within days. Still, he says, dogs that don’t frequent places like day care and boarding don’t necessarily need the vaccine—though many of those places now require it.

“Before canine influenza, most of the contagious stuff for dogs was stuff we were vaccinating for,” said Dr. Duffy Jones at Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital in Georgia. “We had known about these diseases, but with the vaccine everything was pretty well controlled.”

Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper

Distemper is deadly and used to be seen much more decades ago, before it became the first big vaccine for dogs, Jones said. The disease is spread by bodily secretions and causes three issues: gastrointestinal upset, upper respiratory issues, and then it affects the neurologic system, after which dogs could have seizures and die, he said.

Luckily the vaccine is safe and effective, and Jones says he doesn’t see distemper very often these days. “For the most part we’ve done a good job of controlling a very devastating disease.”

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is often spread through wildlife, so veterinarians used to think of it as a more rural disease, Jones said. That’s not the case anymore, though it’s hard to tell where exactly a dog might get it since the disease is transmitted through urine, he said.

When dog diseases can affect humans, they’re extra worrisome for society, Jones said, noting that it can cause liver and kidney failure in both humans and animals. In fact, it could even lead to infected humans needing a kidney transplant, he said.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) says that the signs of leptospirosis vary from dog to dog, but could include fever, vomiting, thirst, jaundice, and either frequent urination or lack of urination. It also notes that, if treated early, dogs can recover. However, Dr. Richard Baumgartner of Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey notes that recovery could take months, and some dogs might never fully recover.

Coronavirus

Coronavirus

Like canine influenza, coronavirus is spread from dog to dog through coughing and sneezing, according to the AMVA. Jones said it can be hard to diagnose.

“[People say] corona is a virus looking for a vaccine, meaning there’s a lot of corona out there but it may not clinically do very much,” he said, adding that it can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but some veterinarians have stopped vaccinating for it in an effort to reduce the number of vaccines a dog receives overall.

Canine Herpesvirus (CHV)

Dogs of any age can be affected by CHV, but the highest mortality rate is in puppies, says Dr. Gerlinde Van de Walle, professor at the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University. Older dogs might have a mild fever or respiratory problems, but otherwise CHV might be unnoticed in them unless they have compromised health for other reasons, she says. However, it’s important to note that this virus can establish latency, thus dogs can have it for life, she says.

Though treatment is available, veterinarians have mixed opinions on whether it should be used because puppies with CHV so commonly die, Van de Walle says. While there’s a CHV vaccine in the United Kingdom, it’s not available in the United States. However, there are a few things you can do to protect puppies from CHV.

“What you for sure should do is try to prevent infection of puppies by keeping newborn puppies warm,” Van de Walle says, noting that puppies have poor temperature regulation and CHV thrives in lower temperatures. “That’s why these puppies are so susceptible for infection and that’s why it’s leads to such a devastating outcome.”

Ringworm

Ringworm

Named for the pattern the disease makes and not because it’s an actual worm, ringworm is a fungus that affects a dog’s skin. While it is contagious, isn’t necessarily seen in many dogs these days.

“Most of the time a healthy dog isn’t going to get ringworm,” Baumgartner said, noting that it’s more often seen in puppies and older dogs who already have other health issues. Jones said it’s most often seen in shelter settings.

Rabies

Rabies

Rabies is well-known, but Jones said that the vaccination’s been so good that people let their guard down about this deadly disease.

“I think because the vaccine has been so good, a lot of humans aren’t as worried about rabies,” he said.  “What they don’t realize is that rabies is 100 percent fatal in people. We really, really have to be careful about that and make sure we’re keeping the animals up-to-date for rabies.”

The ASPCA says the disease spreads through a bite from an animal with the disease, and dogs who are in contact with wild animals are at highest risk. They also note that if a dog bites someone and there’s no proof that the dog has been vaccinated against rabies, a period of quarantine or even euthanasia could occur.

In most states, there is a legal requirement that all owners get their dogs vaccinated for rabies. The duration of the vaccine required varies from state to state.

Not only will the vaccine keep your dog safe, it will protect you as well, Jones said. “The rabies vaccine is really to protect people. We’re vaccinating the dogs and cats as a buffer between wildlife and people.”

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid and CPR

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Food Allergies in Dogs vs. Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

If you suspect that your dog’s daily roll in the grass is causing allergic reactions, such as excessive paw licking and rigorous belly scratching, you may be surprised to learn that he could actually have a food allergy.

While it’s common for dogs to suffer from seasonal allergies to things like the pollen they come in contact with while playing in the yard, there are several types of dog allergies that can manifest themselves in similar ways, said Dr. Sarah Nold, on-staff veterinarian for Trupanion, a Seattle-based insurance company.

“Food allergies and environmental allergies can cause similar symptoms. These symptoms can include itchiness, hair loss, skin infections and ear infections. In addition, there are other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. This is why your vet may need to start with diagnostics to first rule out skin mites, fungal infections and endocrine disease, such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s,” Nold said.

Dr. Joseph Bartges, a veterinary nutritionist and professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said that seasonal allergies typically occur during certain times of the year while food allergies have no seasonality.

They do overlap, however, and approximately 30 percent of pets with food-responsive disease also have seasonal allergies or allergies to fleas, he said. Many of these allergies present themselves either with skin problems (like itchiness, recurrent infections, ear infections or hair loss) and/or gastrointestinal signs (like vomiting, diarrhea or decreased appetite), he added.

Since many of the signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs are not unique to either type of allergy, treatment may require a bit of educated trial and error to pinpoint the exact cause of your dog’s allergy. A visit to your vet should always be your first step. Here are some general guidelines to help dog owners understand food and seasonal allergies.

Symptoms of Food Allergies

Many owners may not immediately suspect their dog has a food allergy because it can take years for their dog to develop an allergy to the food it is fed everyday. Food hypersensitivity can occur at any age in a dog’s life.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a holistic veterinarian, says one possible indicator of a food allergy can be the location of the skin problems. “If you notice lesions all over your dog’s body, on the flanks, ribs, hips or knees there’s a big chance it’s a food allergy,” he said.

Other symptoms include recurrent ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea and itchiness that can lead to self trauma such as hair loss, scabs or hot spots (areas that have been repeatedly licked or chewed and have become inflamed). Gastrointestinal issues are usually symptoms that are specifically related to possible food allergies.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Food Allergies

Your vet will likely want to start with a review of your dog’s dietary history. It’s important to include the foods that make up his daily meals as well as any treats. Many dogs are allergic to chicken, dairy, beef, eggs, corn, soy and wheat as well as some of the additives contained in commercial brands of dog food.

Bartges says your vet may suggest eliminating certain proteins and substituting them for a novel protein, or a protein source that the dog has not been exposed to, such as duck, fish or kangaroo. Other options include a hydrolysate diet (where the protein source has been pre-digested to small pieces that are too small for the immune system to recognize), or to a homemade diet of either cooked or raw food.

It can take a few months to see an improvement in your dog’s food allergies, Nold said, but it’s important to diligently stick to the prescribed diet and to completely eliminate any treats and table scraps. Even certain medications can be flavored, Nold said, so make sure to discuss all medications your dog may be taking with your veterinarian to ensure they’re an approved part of the diet.

If your dog does well and shows no signs of an allergic reaction, you can gradually add in other kinds of food. But if he shows no sign of improvement, regardless of the food source, it may be time to consider that he could be suffering from a seasonal allergy.

Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies generally occur at certain times of the year. Some of the common causes of seasonal allergies include dust, dust mites, pollen, grass and flea bites. Mahaney said that lesions on the top or underside of your dog’s feet often point to environmental allergies.

Your dog’s climate and environment can have a major impact on if they have seasonal allergies or not, he said. “In Los Angeles, for instance, it’s always warm, so things are blooming year round which can expose your dog to more allergies. But in New Jersey, things bloom in the spring, then they’re gone in the winter.”

Regardless of where your dog lives, it’s still possible for him to develop year-round allergies.

“Allergies can occur at certain times of the year, but they can turn into year-round allergies for older dogs. The more your dog is exposed to the allergens he’s sensitive to, the more intense and long-lasting his allergic response becomes,” Nold said.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Seasonal Allergie

There are a number of ways that seasonal allergies can be diagnosed and treated, most of which depend on the allergen itself. These include:

  • Testing: an intradermal skin test, in which a small amount of test allergens are injected under your dog’s skin, can help pinpoint the problem of moderate to severe allergies. Allergens are identified by which injections cause redness, swelling or small hives. Your vet can then create a specialized serum or immunotherapy shot which can be administered at home or in your vet’s office. Nold says 70 percent of dogs have good results after a year of shots.
  • Fatty acids: omega-3 fatty acid supplements like fish oil can help reinforce the skin’s barrier, reduce inflammation, and can be helpful for all types of allergies in addition to chronic issues including skin, joint and cardiac problems.
  • Antihistamines: the same over the counter antihistamines that people take can be given to dogs to help reduce itching. Depending on the dog and his condition, however, it can take some time and effort to find the right one. “I’ve seen owners give their dog Benadryl because it helped their friend’s dog, but it won’t be affective if your dog has developed a secondary skin infection,” Nold said. “It’s always a good idea to consult with your vet before giving your dog over the counter drugs so you don’t make things worse.”
  • Steroids: dogs who are severely itchy and uncomfortable may need a steroid, which can quickly reduce itching. But owners should be aware that there are increased side effects of steroid medication, such as high blood pressure and kidney disease. Your dog should receive regular blood and urine testing if he is taking steroids on a long-term basis.
  • Antibiotics: Your vet may prescribe antibiotics if your dog’s constant licking, chewing or rubbing has created a secondary skin infection. His skin may look red and inflamed or have a circular bald patch with a crusty edge.
  • Environmental control: Mahaney said simple things like preventing your dog from making contact with known irritants can go a long way toward providing relief. “Don’t let your dog go on specific surfaces that irritate him like grass. You may have to make a lifestyle change. If you can’t rip out your grass, try putting boots on your dog. Or give him a localized footbath or a cleansing foot wipe down. It may also be a good idea to keep your dog on a regular bathing schedule which can help remove abnormal bacteria,” he said.
  • Flea control and prevention: It’s common for dogs to have an allergic reaction to flea saliva, which can cause itchy spots and red bumps toward the back end of his body. Ridding your dog of a pesky flea infestation can be a difficult task. Make sure to apply flea preventative medication as directed by your veterinarian, as improper use of flea and tick medication can result in an infestation. Other ways to help keep the flea population down include regularly vacuuming carpeted surfaces, using a flea comb and washing your dog’s bedding weekly with hypoallergenic, non-toxic detergents instead of household cleaners that may contain chemicals.

Overall, getting to the root of your dog’s allergy can take a bit of educated detective work. The most important thing is to seek help from your vet and not to get discouraged with the process.

“It can be frustrating if something isn’t working [but] there’s always something else we can try,” Nold said. “It might seem like you didn’t accomplish anything, but your dog’s response to therapy is helpful in determining the next step. We can find a plan to help your pet.”

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372