Is Flouride in Water DANGEROUS for Your Dog ?

 I came across this article.  I drink tap water; should my dog??  Read this and make your own decision. -Diana Davidson, Westside Dog Nanny

Is tap water containing flouride dangerous for your dog to drink. 

The debate as to benefits vs the risks accompanying fluoridation in water has raged for years.

A piece written in DogsNaturally  addressed this topic head on; a few excerpts  should be helpful for everyone  concerned about the safety of the water their  dog is drinking

Fluoride is added to many municipal water supplies to help prevent tooth decay. When it’s present in drinking water at 1 part per million, it’s considered safe….(but) too much fluoride  can cause skeletal fluorosis an… be toxic.

Skeletal fluorosis is a painful, debilitating disease caused by a buildup of fluoride in the body…

Additional Risks

New studies have linked…disease of the teeth, weakening of bones, bone loss, bone cancer, kidney disease, osteosarcoma and hormone disruption to fluoride. It can also lead to reduced IQ levels and cognitive damage. Gastrointestional upset has also been linked to fluoride….including nausea, pain, and vomiting.

Is Your Dog At Risk?

Fluoride is present naturally in various foods. Due to the artificial addition of synthetic fluoride to drinking water, it infiltrates into everything. Mechanically watered plants, processed foods, feed animals all accumulate until the safe levels in the drinking water are blown away. Independent tests have shown that some processed dog foods have excessive levels of fluoride (some 2.5 times higher than “safe” levels).

In addition to diet, even exposure to treated water is a concern. Fluoride can also be absorbed through the skin. If the pool your dog swims in, bathes in or exercises in is filled with treated water, they are being exposed to additional fluoride.

Signs Of Fluorosis

It’s important for pet owners to understand that skeletal fluorosis is often misdiagnosed as arthritis. Since fluoride’s effects are cumulative, it’s easy to mistake fluorosis for arthritis symptoms. Xray evidence of the disease only captures the progressed disease and completely misses the early stages.

Early stages present as issues of “aging” and are often dismissed as such. Has your aging dog had any of the above symptoms? Is it age or the early stages of skeletal fluorosis? It’s widely thought that skeletal fluorosis is not an issue in North America. In reality, early onset is possibly rampant and widely misdiagnosed.

Prevention Is Key

The damage from excessive fluoride is cumulative and for the most part, irreversible. While the symptoms can be treated, the only true treatment is avoidance. Additionally, bone injuries of skeletal fluorosis sufferers cannot be treated conventionally due to brittle bones and slow healing times.

A healthy, natural, unprocessed diet and filtered water are key to preventing this common issue. (Brita water filters do not filter fluoride).   End Dogs Naturally 

So there you have it…small amounts of fluoride will probably not be harmful. If you plan to give your buddy tap water check with your city and ask if fluoride is added to water and what the levels are. I would also ask how often the water levels are tested.

Better yet…bottled or Brita type filtered water is cheap. We can buy 24 bottles of bottled water for under $3.  It is an expense, but for my wallet it is well worth it to protect the health of our pack of 3.

that’s all for’s a beautiful Saturday and I for one can’t wait to get the little ones outdoors….hope to see ya  at the park 🙂

till next time

MR Bruno

Adopt a Dog- Save a Life

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.
310 919 9372

Cat Behavior Problems?


Does My Cat Have a Behavior Issue or Something More?

While most cat owners are tuned in to the little details and quirks of their cat’s personality — like their ability to open a door or proclivity for attacking feet at night — it can be difficult to determine when behaviors that seem unusual are signs of a deeper health concern. Here’s a look at some of the ways cats hide their pain, common conditions they suffer from, and how to get your cat the care he needs.

How Cats Hide Discomfort

“Whether or not cats hide their pain all depends on the problem,” says Susan O’Bell, DVM at the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, Mass. One common problem that brings cats to the veterinarian or emergency room is signs of a lower urinary tract infection that have gone undiagnosed.

“Cats with this affliction can be impacted in a variety of ways, from mild discomfort to a life threatening inability to pass urine,” Dr. O’Bell says. “This manifests from a few unnoticed extra trips to the litter box, some mild malaise for a day or two or the ever-frustrating urination occurring outside of the litter box.”

More obvious signs of a urinary tract infection include licking at the genital area, vomiting or extreme lethargy. It is possible, however, to see no outward signs of pain or illness in cats until they’ve begun losing weight or have a decreased appetite — something that’s difficult to monitor if you have multiple cats or if your cat doesn’t eat voraciously when healthy.

“I suspect the will to hide weakness originates from their ‘big cat’ ancestors, who would have been last to eat, find a mate, or be left behind if unable to keep up with their pride,” Dr. O’Bell says. “One of my own cats ended up being diagnosed with a seriousgastrointestinal ailment having had no initial outward symptoms.”

“In addition to a decreased appetite and inappropriate elimination (of both urine and feces), cats may hide symptoms of an illness with clingy behavior or hiding, increased vocalization, aggression, vomiting and a change in their attitude or demeanor,” Dr. O’Bell says. Whether one, all or a combination of these behaviors is prevalent, your veterinarian will need a thorough history of your cat’s personality and normal behavior, medical records and additional diagnostics like lab work to get a better idea of the problem.

Common Cat Ailments

According to Dr. O’Bell, changes in weight and signs of periodontal disease are the top two health concerns to recognize and look out for when it comes to cats. Brushing your cat’s teeth or even taking a peek in their mouth on a weekly basis will help you spot signs of infection or areas of concern before they become life-threatening. “Unfortunately, obesity has become an epidemic among domestic cats because many owners don’t recognize their cat’s weight being a health concern,” Dr. O’Bell says. Obesity poses a risk for diabetes in your cat, and puts strain on their joints, liver and kidneys. Conversely, drastic weight loss is something to lookout for and will prompt your veterinarian to screen your cat for health concerns with blood work, a biochemistry panel and a urine test.

Additional under-recognized health concerns include arthritis andhyperthyroidism. While it’s easier to recognize arthritis or orthopedic abnormalities in dogs, cats may hide signs of discomfort. If your cat hesitates before making a jump or their coat has lost some of its luster, it may be because they are having difficulty moving or grooming themselves. Cats with arthritis may also eliminate outside of the litter box because they’re unable to jump inside of it.

“Hyperthyroidism is often diagnosed in advanced stages because early symptoms may seem like signs of good health like a good appetite, high energy and slight weight loss,” Dr, O’Bell says. “Kidney disease in cats is also common, and its presence may be masked by hyperthyroidism.”

“Many cats can compensate for their chronic kidney disease by simply increasing their water intake to keep themselves hydrated,” Dr. O’Bell adds. “This could go on for months or even years, and may only have overtly detected symptoms when the disease is already quite advanced.”

How to Help Your Cat Cope

As with most health conditions, early detection is key to achieving better outcomes with your cat. Diagnosing kidney disease in cats early and making the appropriate changes in their diet with specialized food can help manage their condition and lead to a longer survival rate. Understanding your cat’s kidney disease will also help you to recognize signs of dehydration, a common complication, earlier on that if the disease was left undiagnosed.

By either hiding their symptoms completely or refusing medicine, cats are particularly difficult patients to treat. “Fortunately,” says Dr. O’Bell, “there are a variety of diagnostic aids and advanced treatments available to cats that can help their owners keep them healthy.”

Ask your veterinarian about the different forms of medication available to you (liquid, tablet, gel, injection) and find the best fit for your cat. You’ll also want to ask about the different types of food available to help your cat manage their condition, and experiment with different brands until you find one that they like. Changes in helping your cat cope may be quick and easy or take a bit more time, but with patience, you’ll be able to find something that works.

“For some cats, simply the addition of a second litter box is enough to please them,” Dr. O’Bell says. “For others, a short or long-term prescription of mood-stabilizing drugs can be life saving.”

Preventive care that includes annual visits to your veterinarian, feeding your cat a nutritionally balanced diet to maintain their weight, maintaining an easily accessible and clean litter box and providing your cat multiple sources of fresh water are also essential in keeping your cat healthy and will help curb any major behavioral or medical issues.

 By Jessica Remitz

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.
310 919 9372


Before You Get to the Vet: 12 Veterinary Emergencies in Dog Situations

For all of you who are parents of a dog, this is an article you must read!  Emergencies that may be life-threatening are things we don’t think about, and for which we are not properly prepared.-Diana Davidson

Some health crises need immediate veterinary attention, but your attention is also crucial.

Last week my column discussed a dozen of the most common and serious canine veterinary emergencies. Once you recognize such an emergency, it is imperative that you get to the vet as soon as possible.

But dogs can’t be magically and instantly transported to the vet. You will have to drive, or take a taxi, or arrange for a ride. If it’s the middle of the night you may decide to dress before heading to the vet (although I can attest from personal experience that plenty of people show up at emergency clinics in bathrobes and slippers). If you’re on a walk you’ll need to get home, or call someone to help you transport your pet. If your dog has collapsed and he is too big for you to lift you will need to find someone to help you get him into the car.

In other words, in the unfortunate event of a veterinary emergency, there will be a period of time — often a very stressful period of time — when you and you alone will be responsible for helping your pet. This article is designed to help you get through that time should it ever come.

There are some general rules that apply to all emergencies. The first three rules of dealing with veterinary emergencies are: stay calm, stay calm, and stay calm. I know from ample firsthand experience that following these rules is easier said than done, but try your best. Another important rule is to avoid injury to yourself (painful dogs often bite their owners, even when it’s completely out of character) and your pet (seizing dogs may fall down stairs). Also, try not to make the situation worse — giving ibuprofen to an injured dog creates a second problem (ibuprofen toxicity), and giving water to a vomiting dog (with the intention of preventing dehydration) may provoke more vomiting and more dehydration. Finally, be sure to call the vet while you’re on your way. This will allow her to prepare for your arrival.

Let’s run through last week’s list of emergencies, with specific recommendations for each one.

1. Difficulty breathing

There are two major enemies of dogs with breathing difficulties: stress and heat. Both dramatically increase oxygen demand. To make matters worse, difficulty breathing is stressful itself, which can increase oxygen demand, make it harder to breathe, and increase stress levels. This may lead to a catastrophic feedback cycle. The first three rules of veterinary emergencies apply especially strongly to dogs who are having trouble breathing, because a frantic owner will lead to a stressed-out dog. Dogs who are having trouble breathing should be kept calm and soothed to the degree appropriate for the individual dog. Fresh, cool circulating air (such as can be provided by a car’s air conditioner) should be available but not forced upon the dog — blasting the air conditioner in his face may increase his stress level. Do everything you can to keep stress levels low en route to the vet, and be sure to call the vet on your way so they can be prepared for your arrival.

2. Bloat

There is very little that can be done at home to help a dog with gastric dilatation with volvulus (GDV, or simply bloat). Your focus must be on getting to the vet as soon as possible. Your dog may be in shock, and his abdomen will be very painful. The nature of bloat makes it impossible to administer anything by mouth, so don’t try. If it is necessary to help him into the car, avoid contacting the area between his last rib and his rear legs. Lift very slowly and gently (with one arm in front of his forelimbs, and the other behind his hindlimbs), but remember that even friendly dogs may bite the faces of people who contact their abdomens when they are bloated.

3) Seizures

Seizing dogs suffer from uncontrollable muscle contractions. This includes the jaw muscles. If any part of your body gets near the mouth of a seizing dog, it may be seriously bitten. Unfortunately, the completely unfounded myth that seizing dogs can swallow their tongues is somehow still being propagated. I have seen many owners’ hands mauled after they tried to grab a seizing dog’s tongue. I also have seen quite a few fractured dog teeth after owners used screwdrivers or other tools to try to access a seizing dog’s tongue. Forget about the tongue — it won’t be swallowed.

Instead, focus on your dog’s surroundings. If he is at the top of a flight of stairs, use a pillow to prevent him from falling. If he is at the foot of a book case, don’t let him knock it over. Wait one to two minutes for the seizure to end, and then head to the vet. If the seizure lasts longer than two minutes, use a thick blanket to scoop up your dog and place him in a carrier or in the car, taking great care not to be bitten. Don’t cover him with the blanket on the road, since seizures cause high body temperature. When you get to the vet’s office, let the vet’s staff take over.

4) Collapse or profound weakness

Don’t delay, and don’t administer medications that you think might help, since they might actually cause more harm than good. Avoid stress, high temperatures, and contact with the abdomen.

5) Profuse hemorrhage or major known trauma

If your dog is bleeding, apply gentle continuous pressure to the area with a towel or something similar, but only if it can be done without causing pain. Take care to be gentle, since aggressive pressure may cause pain and provoke a bite. The same principle applies to dogs who have suffered major trauma. They may be in significant pain, and contact with the traumatized area may exacerbate that pain and trigger a bite. Dogs (even the world’s friendliest) in severe pain are very likely to bite if touched in the wrong spot. When in doubt, use a thick blanket as a sling to get the dog into a carrier or into the car.

6. Protracted vomiting or diarrhea

Perhaps in college you drank to excess one night and wound up spending the night alternating between vomiting and passing out with your head on the rim of the toilet. And perhaps you had a well-meaning friend who insisted that what you needed to do was drink water. I am here to confirm what you always suspected: Your friend was wrong. When a stomach is severely inflamed, ingesting anything can trigger more vomiting. Although dogs don’t generally take tequila shots, the same principle applies to them. Dogs with protracted vomiting or diarrhea should not be fed or offered water. Rather, they should head to the vet for intravenous fluids and resting of the GI tract.

7. Struggling to urinate

The key to this problem is not to let it drag on. Get to the vet as soon as you realize something’s wrong. You know how painful it is when someone presses on your bladder when it is full; your dog will feel the same way. Your dog’s bladder is in the abdomen near the hind legs; don’t apply pressure to that area.

8. Not eating or drinking

Again, don’t let it drag on. Don’t waste two days trying 20 different foods. Go to the vet once the problem is evident.

9. Coughing

Excitement, activity, stimulation of the throat, and stress tend to exacerbate coughing. Stay calm, avoid neck leads, and remember that coughing often is accompanied by difficulty breathing — the No. 1 veterinary emergency.

10. Loss of use of the rear legs

Dogs who are “down in the rear” may be in substantial pain; that pain is often felt most strongly in the back (small breeds) or hips (large breeds). These dogs will need to be lifted into the car. Lift very slowly and gently, supporting the entire back as you do so and taking care not to be bitten. Do not administer non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as Rimadyl, Previcox, Deramax, aspirin, or Metacam — these medications may significantly interfere with your vet’s ability to treat the problem. Human painkillers such as ibuprofen or naproxen (Aleve) can be toxic to dogs, so avoid them as well.

11. Severe pain

Avoid human painkillers; they can be toxic to dogs. And talk to your vet before administering any NSAIDs — as above, such medications may interfere with other treatments. Use a blanket to sling your dog into the car. Remember that even friendly dogs may bite their owners when they are in pain.

12. Known exposure to toxins

My biggest piece of advice is to call your vet as soon as you realize that your dog has consumed something inappropriate. Do not rush to administer hydrogen peroxide or salt (two commonly used substances that sometimes cause vomiting) since both can be very dangerous if they do not work. Toxicological emergencies are complex, and home treatment should be avoided. Immediate veterinary attention can make a huge difference in outcome.

I hope that you and your dog never find yourselves in an emergency situation. But if you do, I hope that these suggestions help you both through the crisis.

 by Dr. Eric Barchas

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.
310 919 9372

Are All Dogs Color Blind?


Dogs can perceive color, but their spectrum contains a lot fewer hues than what humans see.

Scientific research progresses in small increments with a lot of digressions. But many news organizations would rather have a story of some great big sudden breakthrough, and the news media tends to have a short memory. That is why we get a human interest story every few years that is all about some scientist as “discovering” that dogs are color-blind. Not completely color-blind, mind you, but red-green color-blind. In humans, this is usually described as protanopia.

Most mammals have protanopia, so it is not the red color of the cape that attracts the bull’s attention. Many insects cannot see red but can perceive ultraviolet. Humans, some other primates, fish, and birds have trichromatic vision. Some birds may have one or even two more color receptive cells than us, and so see colors and shades we cannot even imagine.

So dogs can see yellow and blue, but no green or red or colors created by these shades, such as pink, orange or purple. Or, more accurately, the color they see will be a shade of blue or yellow rather than the color that you see. If you look at the rainbows below, you see that for dogs, purple loses its red hue and becomes blue. Red becomes a murky shade of yellow mixed with dark grey.

The trichromatic spectrum
The canine visual spectrum

It is strange to look at the array of dog products in the stores, or the dyed shades of kibble, and realize that very little of this is done for dogs’ benefit. Almost all products designed for dogs seem to really be tailored to the owner, right down to color. In fact, as many as eight percent of men have some form of color-blindness, too, so it surprises me how little it is considered in the design process, from red-green traffic lights to sports team colors.

However, knowing the colors your dog can see can help you create an environment you dog can easily understand and enjoy. There are a few basic rules. If you are using color to create contrast, stop and think about how it will look to the dog.

What looks like yellow and blue to you, looks like yellow and blue to a dog. So if you want to provide color contrast and have an environment that looks similar to you and your dog, this is the color pallet is what you should use. (Even then the exact shades and their meanings are still going to be different for a dog).

If you want to assess how something might look to your dog, there are a range of filters that can give an estimate. There is an iPhone app called the Chromatic Vision Stimulator by Kazunori Asada. If you select “P” mode, you can use the phone’s camera to see a simulated protanopian view of the world. The pictures below show a few of Vera’s favorite things as they look to me and as they might look to her. It is pretty obvious that I was not thinking about dog color vision when I made some of these selections.

Vera’s things as I see them
As Vera might see them (filter via the Chromatic Vision Stimulator)

When you do this you can see that red and green objects can still present a color contrast. A red bag on a blue blanket can still be clearly seen as a kind of yellow-brown against the blue. If in doubt, it is a good idea to provide other sources of contrast, such as pattern, texture or smell, to ensure your dog can easily find his things.

Recent research showed that while dogs certainly can discriminate objects by color, when they cannot tell the colors apart they fall back on using bright versus dark as a cue. For example, a red toy on green grass might be only slightly different kinds of brownish yellow to a dog; a bright white toy will be much easier to find. There is a reason why tennis balls are bright yellow and golf balls are white. Even to the human eye, brightness makes these balls easier to see against grass, which is generally a medium to dark shade.

If you have a bed you travel with, to give your dog a “home base,” it can be good to make this as easy to find as possible. A strong pattern, plush texture, and even a non-toxic herb sachet sewed inside can make the bed easy to locate no matter where you travel and give any hotel or guest bedroom a reassuring piece of home.

And in case you think we should feel sorry for dogs not seeing all the colors we do, it all probably evens out or perhaps goes somewhat in the dog’s favor. They can hear ultrasound. They can follow a smell map or even diagnose cancer by scent. The richness of their sensory world holds pleasures we cannot even imagine, any more than we can know all of the colors that the honey-bee can see.

by Emily Kane

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.
310 919 9372


Dog Chasing Cat? How to Stop Dog From Chasing Cat

I have a German Shepherd Dog puppy and two Abyssinian cats.  This article was of particular interest to me.  When I had Logan, my dear GSD who crossed over the Rainbow Bridge April, 2013, I got Isabel [my Abby cat] at 3 months old.  She thought Logan was her Dad. And Logan had been raised with cats since puppyhood.   So, they got along marvelously.  Diana Davidson

Q. Any time my cat makes a sudden move, my dog chases her. The dog thinks he’s playing, but the cat doesn’t like being chased. How can I put a stop to this?

A. Dogs and cats can get along fabulously — until the cat bolts and the dog takes up the chase. Even though most dogs will not follow through and injure the cat, the scenario can cause some serious emotional stress for the cat. To maintain safety and sanity in your home, there are a few important training steps to take to end this behavior.

I spoke with Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, Veterinarian and Applied Animal Behaviorist, about ways to create a chase-free home. “It’s important to teach a dog impulse control, or the ability to think before they act,” says Dr. Yin. “You teach them they can get what they want, but they have to go to you first.” She recommends starting with impulse control exercises.

“Start by teaching the dog to automatically sit for something they want,” Dr. Yin suggests. “Reinforce the sit position by asking the dog to sit and doling out food rewards for remaining in a sit.”

Teach Your Dog to Resist the Chase

Once your dog has mastered the sit, Dr. Yin suggests that you teach him to resist chasing the cat by mimicking her movements. “You’ll start by standing stationary, then suddenly moving backward in a straight line fast enough for your dog to trot quickly after you,” she says. “Then you’ll suddenly stop and reward your dog when he automatically sits in front of you. Moving back and away from the dog lets the canine understand the required behavior is to follow, and it makes the scenario interesting and fun for the dog.” This is high-energy work; in order for the training to be successful, it’s essential that you be as exciting and engaging as the running cat.

“Begin by rewarding the dog for sitting automatically. Treat for the initial sit and then randomly treat one or two more times while the dog is still sitting and looking at you before swiftly moving off in another direction — either backward or to the side.” Your dog should follow you as you move away; as soon as you stop, he should sit. Immediately reward the sit with a treat. “The game becomes ‘follow me, then hurry up and sit,’” says Dr. Yin. “It’s like a game of red light, green light.”

Add the Cat to the Training

“Once the dog understands the game and thinks focusing on you is fun,” says Dr. Yin, “the distraction of a cat can be added.” She recommends starting with the cat close enough to be noticed, but far enough away that the dog remains engaged with you. Dr. Yin says to keep in mind, too, that a cat who is playing will be much more distracting than a cat who is lying still.

She also warns that you will need to keep moving quickly to hold your dog’s attention. “Avoid being slow and predictable or the dog will start to divide attention between the cat and you,” says Dr. Yin.

Dr. Yin recommends that owners also teach “leave it” and a down stay with the cat as the distraction. Leave it should only be added to your dog’s training after he is able to stay focused on you with the cat around. “Otherwise,” says Dr. Yin, “a dog standing stationary with a moving cat will have a difficult time staying focused.” When your dog remains calm around the cat, even when she is moving, he can also be rewarded for a relaxed down stay.

The dog should come to understand that the cat’s presence means treats and fun. “When the cat goes away, the treats and human-focused games taper off, making the cat a highly desired part of the environment,” says Dr. Yin.

Teaching your cat to touch a target will give you more control over her movement, which can help keep the cat’s behavior under control during a training session.“Training also helps the feline associate good things happening with having the dog around, building confidence and decreasing fear,” says Dr. Yin.



6 Solutions for Dog Separation Anxiety

I had a dog who had severe separation anxiety.  One day I went out for a couple hours. When I returned, the house was a disaster.  He destroyed crystal, lamps, etc.  He got scared of being alone.  I hope this article sheds some light on the subject.  Diana Davidson,

As back to school craziness takes hold across the country, I worry about how all of our dogs are handling the inevitable changes in the family schedule. Fall can mean less time with beloved family members — particularly those who might be heading off to college or out of the home for work for the first time — and that can be a trigger for separation anxiety in dogs.

Separation anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, fear, or panic that develops when a dog is unable to be in contact with his or her caregivers. Often, symptoms of mild separation anxiety are missed by owners, since they tend to occur when we are not home or are misidentified as simply being a sign that our pet loves us. Dogs separation anxiety may include:

    • Frequently seek an owner’s attention( through pawing, barking, etc.) throughout the day
    • Follow owners around the house
    • Seek comfort from owners whenever something unexpected occurs
  • Greet owners exuberantly when they return home

Symptoms of established dog separation anxiety include:

    • Barking, whining, or howling when left alone
    • Destructive behaviors (e.g., chewing and clawing at objects in the home)
  • Escape attempts through or around doors and windows, crates, or fences

If you believe that your dog might suffer from separation anxiety, it is important to remember that he or she is truly terrified in your absence not being “bad.” Punishment of any sort is absolutely the wrong response to fear and will actually make the situation worse rather than better. Effective treatment for separation anxiety involves avoiding behaviors that reinforce “neediness,” teaching the dog to relax, and providing positive reinforcement for doing so.

Behavioral modification protocols often include recommendations like:

    • Pretend to leave (e.g., pick up your keys or purse) but then stay or walk out the door but immediately come back in. As long as the dog remains calm, gradually increase the amount of time you stay away.
    • When you do get home, ignore your dog until he or she is calm.
    • Do not allow your dog to sleep in your bed.
    • Ask someone else to do things with your dog that he or she enjoys (e.g., going for walks).
    • Get your dog to look forward to time alone by handing out special toys (food-filled ones work well) when you leave and putting them away when you are home.
  • If you often have a television or radio on when you are at home, keep it on when you leave.

Prescription and nonprescription anxiety relievers (e.g., medications, nutritional supplements, and pheromone products) can also help, but should be viewed as a way of enhancing the effectiveness of rather than replacing behavioral modification techniques. A dog’s primary care veterinarian can usually make recommendations for handling mild or moderate cases of separation anxiety, but if the situation is completely out of control, referral to a veterinary behaviorist may be in everyone’s best interests.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

How Can You Determine Pet Obesity

Is My Pet Fat?


We all know that food is love with out pets.  This is the number one way of showing our love;  however, fattening up your pet is not a loving thing.  It affects their health adversely, just as in humans.  Read this article.  Diana Davidson, Westside Dog Nanny

Hourglass figures aren’t only for Marilyn Monroe and a goal for women everywhere: Your pet should have an hourglass figure too.

Most pets these days are overweight, even if many of their owners are in denial about it.

“I don’t think pet owners truly appreciate how important it is to have their pet at a healthy weight,” says Ashley Hughes, DVM, a veterinarian at Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington, DC. “I think people don’t believe me or think I’m exaggerating when I tell them an animal’s obese.”

But pet owners should listen, since being overweight puts your dog or cat at risk of many diseases, not least of them diabetes, cardiovascular disease and arthritis.

And while your vet may diagnose an overweight or obese pet, it’s easy to determine for yourself, too.

Tools to Determine Your Pet’s Body Condition


The best way to determine whether a pet is obese is by using a system such as the body condition score, says Dr. Jim Dobies, a veterinarian with South Point Pet Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., and a member of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association.

Body condition scores can be easily found online, where there are pictures of what your pet looks like and what his ideal body looks like. Most websites give scores of one to five or one to 10, and your pet’s physique should resemble a picture of an animal in the middle numbers.

But you can also assess your pet without them, Dr. Dobies says.

The best way is to stand above pets and look down on them. “You should be able to feel their ribs but not see them. If you can see them, they are too skinny,” Dr. Dobies explains. “If you can’t see their ribs, and place your hands on the side of their chest and still can’t, they’re overweight.”

Both dogs and cats should also have a nice taper at their waist (between the abdomen and where the hips go into the socket), he says. “If there is very little or none at all, they are too heavy and they’ll be oval shaped. They’ll be egg shaped rather than hourglass.”

And a very obese pet, he says, “will have a pendulous abdomen, hip fat, and neck fat, all of which are very noticeable.” But pets don’t usually reach this point of obesity until they’re aged at least seven, he adds.

There’s another way to tell if your pet is overweight, and that’s by using the new, science based Healthy Weight Protocol, which was created by Hill’s Pet Nutrition in conjunction with veterinary nutritionists at the University of Tennessee.

This tool is “brilliant,” says Hughes, who likes it because it’s objective.

How does the protocol work? A vet takes measurements — four for a dog and six for a cat — then inputs them into a computer. The computer then determines the animal’s body fat index. By comparing this with a chart, the vet can tell you exactly how much weight your pet needs to lose if it is overweight.

“It’s much more specific and scientific than me saying a pet looks like he should lose two to five pounds,” Hughes says. “With this, we can determine exactly how many pounds pets should lose and how many calories they need per day.”

If you’re going it alone with your pet’s weight loss — and Dr. Dobies does recommend that pets have a physical with their vet every six months — you can weigh your pet on a scale, if they are small enough, he says, and monitor the weight over time.

Helping Your Pet Burn the Extra Pounds


If a dog or cat is overweight, cut their food intake by 25 percent, Dr. Dobies advises, and increase their exercise level gradually day by day.

“Don’t leave it up to the dog,” he says, “but make sure he gets out on the leash. Gradually you want to build up to a 30-minute walk, twice a day.”

It’s harder to force cats to exercise, he adds, so play with them more if you can, with kitty toys or a laser pointer, for example. But also recognize that cats are at their most active when the sun is rising and setting, so if you can play with them during these hours, you’ll be most effective.

Dr. Dobies also cautions against letting your kitty lose weight too fast. Rapid weight loss can lead to fatty liver syndrome (hepatic lipidosis), which can cause her to go into liver failure.

Having your pet exercise may also mean you don’t have to reduce his food as significantly, especially as his endurance builds up — and maybe soon you’ll have an hourglass figure, too.             By Amanda Baltazar

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.
310 919 9372

Dog Microchip Can Save Your Dog’s Life

Summer may be winding down but there are still many outdoor days ahead so I thought this article would be helpful in keeping your dog safe…….and alive!

It is no secret that annually, millions of dogs are killed in dog pounds across the United States. A tragedy and a wrong that we are on the forefront to rectify, some of the most horrific cases occur when a family’s best friend gets lost in the midst someplace and consequently loses his life.

The Problem

When dogs are picked up as strays, they are OFTEN killed because his family has not been found/ notified or does not appear at the holding shelter in the VERY short time span that is given  before a dog’s life is snuffed out. 

This happens after days at the beach, a campground, natural disaster, or an open gate at home which sends Fido strolling perhaps to get lost and picked up by Animal Control.

It is nothing short of tragic… 

Fortunately, there is a simple fix  that every dog guardian can do to help assure their best friend does not become a statistic.


That Tiny Life Saving Solution is a Dog Microchip

A microchip is a very small computer chip with a unique pre-programmed ID number. Once implanted, the I.D. number is permanent. A layer of connective tissue will form around the chip preventing movement.


Implanting a tiny microchip such as the one pictured above is quick, easy and pain free. A quick injection under the loose skin between shoulder blades and it’s done !

Most veterinarians and animal shelters have scanners that can read that identification code.  Most use universal scanners that will read all brands of microchips.

Once complete, you must register the microchip, with your contact info and your veterinarian’s contact info which will be added to the database should your best pal ever get lost.

If a shelter  takes in your dog, they will scan to read the number and contact an agency managing the database. The only dilemma has been that there are different manufacturers and consequently different databases… and shelters are not very proactive after a call to one.

The good news here is that a  microchip database exists within the AAHA and is accessible online to make the search easier. According to their site the database enables veterinarians, humane organizations, dog guardians and others to search pet recovery registries and identify where a microchip is registered.

Ask your vet to scan your dog for the presence of a microchip and search the database if there is a chip, to make sure it is REGISTERED. This is very important and only take a few minutes.

Contact the microchip supplier at their customer service dept to confirm registration and that all of your contact information as to names, phone numbers, and veterinary information are up to date.

This is CRITICAL. Your dog may have only one chance at a dog pound to be reunited with you. Don’t leave to hope or chance what happens when a phone number supplied years ago is dialed…. 


If you travel internationally, some countries require microchips in imported animals to match vaccination  records.  

MR Bruno
Adopt a Dog-  Protect Her Life With a Simple Microchip and ID Tag

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.
310 919 9372



Cat Behavior Problems

For a lonely kitty at home, the best remedy is a companion, right? But instead of getting along like siblings or civil playmates, your frisky felines are at each others throats. What’s the deal?!

There are a number of reasons why your feline friends might not be getting along. Cats, much like people, will definitely be a little reclusive and territorial once there’s a new kid in town if they’re not used to company.

Kitties that have had no socialization with other feline friends make a routine of its own. Any change or funk in its groove may upset them.  This may cause them to not be as welcoming to new additions as you hoped they would be.

Sometimes it may be hard for two unrelated males or two unrelated females to get along well, but it’s also highly dependent upon personality. Just like being assigned a roommate in college, cats don’t necessarily get to choose their housemates, and it may mean that your cats can have a negative nature towards each other.

However, there are a few factors that may cause your cats’ relationship to grow backwards too. Negative and scary situations, such as loud noises or unpleasant smells that are associated with one cat, may cause fear or stress in the other cat. Maturity levels are also an important dynamic in the relationship.

Here are some steps the ASPCA advises that you can take to make your home a happy place for both your cats.
• Make sure you see the signs before one cat walks all over the other.  A more timid cat may hide, spend more time alone, show signs of sickness, and only access shared resources when the other is not around.  The more assertive cat might intimidate the timid cat from eating, accessing sleeping areas, playing with toys, or even blocking its path.
• Give them a sense of ownership. Individual food, toys, bowls, beds, and even litter boxes in different parts of the house will make them less competitive.
• Don’t let your cats duke it out. Letting them fight will only make them more aggressive and hostile towards each other. If you feel a battle about to erupt, put a stop to it with loud clapping or spraying them with a water gun.
• Neutering or spaying your cat will subside their aggressive behavior.
• Give your cat space when he’s having a fit to let them calm down, so you can avoid being their next victim.
• Make sure to pay equal attention to both your cats to avoid competition.
• Use positive reinforcement and reward your cats when they are interacting with each other in a positive way.

As far as cats who’ve gotten along and are mildly aggressive or cats who’ve never gotten along and are severely aggressive towards each other, it’s may be a good idea to separate them in different rooms. For mildly aggressive cats, it may take a few days and for more aggressive cats a longer period time to reintroduce themselves to each other. But encouraging them to be close to each other, giving them the ability to smell and hear each other, and providing them with daily reintroduction sessions is key.

But if your cats become unruly don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. It may take more than your patience to get your crazy kids to get along. It’s not always easy but it can be done!

 Allison Espiritu


Understanding Dog Behavior: Why Does My Dog Cock Her Head?

I found this article about something dogs do that is really cute and mysterious;  cocking their to one side when hearing a noise.   While this article doesn’t give a sound reason why  they do it, it is fun to read.  Diana Davidson, Westside Dog Nanny.


It’s a classic dog move: Your pup hears something — a mysterious sound, a smartphone ring, a certain tone of voice — and suddenly her head tilts to one side as if she is contemplating what the sound wants from her. Internet videos of the behavior attest to its commonality — and to the fact that so many dog lovers find it so entertaining. Once you realize how your dog reacts to, for example, a question — “Who’s the best girl?” — it’s hard to resist repeating it over and over, just to see your already-adorable dog up the cute factor by cocking her head to the side. It’s like she’s puzzling out the precise meaning of your words.

Or is she? What’s really happening when your dog tilts her head?

The Better to Hear You With

The head tilt, although not fully understood, might actually signify your dog’s attempt to make sense of what she hears. Dr. Meredith Stepita, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists now practicing at East Bay Veterinary Specialists in Walnut Creek, Calif., explains that some experts believe that dogs tilt their heads when they think there is a possibility that what is being said could lead to something important to the dog — an activity they enjoy, for example. Since dogs can understand some human language, including words and tone of voice, a head-cocking dog could be concentrating on picking out a key word or inflection that relates to that favorite activity. So your dog may cock her head when you start talking about taking her for a walk or giving her a bath or playing a game of fetch — whatever it is that she loves to do.

Dr. Stepita notes that the way dogs hear plays a part as well. Dogs have movable earflaps that help them locate the source of a sound. In addition to moving their ears, says Dr. Stepita, dogs’ brains “compute extremely small time differences between the sound reaching each ear. Even the slightest change in the dog’s head position relative to the sound supplies information the dog’s brain uses to figure out the distance of the sound.” So, when a dog cocks her head, she could be trying to more accurately determine the exact location of a sound, specifically the height relative to the ears, adds Dr. Stepita.

Put these elements together and it seems pretty likely that dogs naturally engage in this behavior and then repeat it when reinforced. “If the dog is praised by the owner for cocking her head, she will be more likely to cock her head in the future,” says Dr. Stepita.

Is Head-Tilting a Sign of Intelligence? Or Something Else?

So is your head-tilting dog smarter than her canine peers? Although there are anecdotal reports of dogs with long, floppy ears being more likely to cock their heads in response to noises than dogs with erect ears, Dr. Stepita knows of no studies that associate the head cock with any specific classification of dog like breed, age or intelligence. She also notes that some experts have reported that dogs with certain socialization problems are less likely to engage in the head tilt when people speak.

While it’s easy to assume something as cute as your dog tilting her head at you is always benign, it is important to speak with your veterinarian about any behavior that could have a medical cause, including a head tilt. “A dog that consistently or even intermittently holds their head to the side, especially without an obvious external trigger present (i.e., a noise), may have a medical problem,” says Dr. Stepita, These types of health issues range from brain disease such as infection, inflammation, cancer, etc, to an ear problem such as infection, lodged foreign object or other mass. Only a veterinarian can rule these out.

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.
310 919 9372