Cat Upper Respiratory Infection



Cats sneeze for many reasons. If sneezing is the only symptom your cat displays — i.e., no discharge from eyes or nose, good appetite, no change in behavior or activity level — then it is probably of no concern. However, when ocular or nasal discharge is seen, the cat may have a cold or upper respiratory infection.


An upper respiratory infection in a cat is more like influenza in people than like a cold because it can be very difficult to get rid of without medical help, especially in the young, the old, and those with chronic health problems. In some cases, it can prove fatal.




  • Sneezing, especially occurring as “spasms” over the course of a few hours, or frequently over several days.
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose; this may be watery, bloody, or thick and colored clear, yellow or green.
  • Coughing or excessive swallowing (if there is drainage into the back of the mouth and throat).
  • Lethargy (with or without hiding)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Raised third eyelid




As with people, most colds start as a viral infection, followed by a bacterial infection.




  1. Keep the eyes and nose free of discharge using cotton moistened with warm water.
  2. Warm canned cat food or meat flavored baby food to encourage your cat to eat.
  3. Provide plenty of fresh water for drinking.
  4. Any kitten, no matter how active, should be seen by a veterinarian at the first sign of a cold. However, if your cat refuses to eat or even move, it is urgent you bring the cat to a veterinarian immediately.






Usually a thorough physical exam is sufficient to diagnose an upper respiratory infection. If your cat has become anorectic (refuses to eat), blood tests and possibly X-rays may be taken to see if there are complications developing.




Using a vaporizer that produces warm moist air will help the nasal passages and sinuses to drain. To treat the bacterial component of the cold, your cat will require antibiotics. A viral infection, meanwhile, will usually be dealt with by the cat’s own immune system.


If your cat is not eating or is dehydrated, your cat will be hospitalized and put on intravenous fluids until he is eating on his own. B vitamins and appetite stimulants may also be used to help his appetite to return. If neither of these methods help with your cat’s appetite, he may need to be force fed for a while.




Polyps and foreign objects like grass awns can cause symptoms similar to a cold, although the symptoms often start on one side and then spread to the other. Fungal infections such as aspergillosis can also cause similar symptoms.




Once your cat is discharged from the hospital, continue the antibiotics and vaporizer therapy as directed by your veterinarian. Also keep his face clean of discharge.


Making certain that your cat eats is just as important as complying with the antibiotic regimen. Cats that go without eating for even a short period are at risk for developing hepatic lipidosis, a condition involving the liver that is very difficult to reverse.


If the symptoms resolve only to return a few weeks later, chances are the cat does not have a cold. The symptoms may be related to one of the other possible causes listed above. Additional diagnostic work will be needed.


If your cat’s cold is due to a herpes virus infection (feline rhinotracheitis), he may have occasional recurrences of the symptoms. As with people, you cannot get rid of a herpes virus; all you can do is treat the symptoms when they appear.




There are many viruses that can cause colds in cats. Two of these viruses can be very hard on your cat, even without the bacterial component: feline herpes virus, as already discussed, and feline calicivirus. Fortunately, there are vaccines available for these viruses. Be sure your cat receives the initial series of injections followed by regular boosters, as recommended by your veterinarian.

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



Raw Dog Food and Raw Cat Food Contaminated with Dangerous Bacteria

There is a heated controversy over raw vs cooked food.  The lines are drawn; but, here are some interesting facts, scientifically based, about raw food.  Personally, I would rather err on the side of caution rather than intellectual pride.

Diana Ruth Davidson

I have recently developed a special interest in the bacterial contaminants in dog food that can be transmitted to people. Why? Because my one year old son has an obsession with our dog’s kibble. The second my back is turned he scoots his cute little butt over to Apollo’s bowl and finds that one (or more) stray kibble that escaped my notice and vacuum.

Thankfully, my dog’s food is made by a reputable manufacturer under strict quality control measures (it’s a hypoallergenic diet only available under veterinarian’s orders). That doesn’t completely eliminate the chances that my son could become sick after handling a kibble or two, but I’m confident the risk is quite small.

A recently published study shows the same could not be said if I was feeding my dog a commercially prepared raw food. Researchers analyzed dry and semimoist dog and cat food (no canned products were tested), raw dog and cat foods (e.g., those packaged in tubes), exotic animal feeds, chicken jerky products, pig ears, and bully stick-type products looking forSalmonellaListeriaEscherichia coli O157:H7 enterohemorrhagic E. coli, and Shiga toxin–producing strains of E. coli (STEC). The scientists picked these potential contaminants because of their ability to cause illness and even death in people who handle pet foods.

Scientists evaluated 480 samples of dry and semimoist food and found only two incidences of contamination, both in dry cat foods. One was positive forSalmonella and the other for Listeria greyii. This comes to a 0.4% contamination rate. None of the exotic animal feeds were contaminated.

On the other hand, of the 196 samples of raw dog and cat food, a total of 88 were found to be contaminated — 65 for Listeria, 15 for Salmonella, and 8 for STEC – a 45% contamination rate. The authors also found that two of 190 chicken jerky products, pig ears, and bully stick-type products were positive for STEC, and one was positive for Listeria — a 1.6% contamination rate.

In the past, significant disease outbreaks in people have been linked to contact with dry dog and cat foods (most notably the Diamond Pet Foods Salmonellaincident in 2012). It now appears that the greatest risk associated with commercially available foods lies elsewhere. I strongly discourage the practice of feeding raw dog and cat foods, especially if someone in the household has a weak immune system (including young children and the elderly). If you choose to feed raw anyway, follow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines to prevent infections associated with the handling these products:

  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) after handling raw pet food, and after touching surfaces or objects that have come in contact with the raw food. Potential contaminated surfaces include countertops and the inside of refrigerators and microwaves. Potential contaminated objects include kitchen utensils, feeding bowls, and cutting boards.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come in contact with raw pet food. First wash with hot soapy water and then follow with a disinfectant. A solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 quart (4 cups) water is an effective disinfectant. For a larger supply of the disinfectant solution, add ¼ cup bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) water. You can also run items through the dishwasher after each use to clean and disinfect them.
  • Freeze raw meat and poultry products until you are ready to use them, and thaw them in your refrigerator or microwave, not on your countertop or in your sink.
  • Carefully handle raw and frozen meat and poultry products. Don’t rinse raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. Bacteria in the raw juices can splash and spread to other food and surfaces.
  • Keep raw food separate from other food.
  • Immediately cover and refrigerate what your pet doesn’t eat, or throw the leftovers out safely.
  • If you’re using raw ingredients to make your own cooked pet food, be sure to cook all food to a proper internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and other harmful foodborne bacteria.
  • Don’t kiss your pet around its mouth, and don’t let your pet lick your face. This is especially important after your pet has just finished eating raw food.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands after touching or being licked by your pet. If your pet gives you a “kiss,” be sure to also wash your face.                         Dr. Jennifer Coates

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


9 Benefits of Pumpkin – Pumpkin Dog Treats and Cat Treats

Pumpkin is very popular in human recipes but what about dogs and cats? Pumpkin can be great for dogs and cats as well and has several health benefits.

What kind of fruit weighs between 1 and 1,000 pounds, has a centuries-long world history, and is more useful today than ever? The magnificent pumpkin, of course!

Pumpkin is very popular in human recipes but you probably haven’t thought about giving it to your pets. This vibrant fall ingredient can be great for dogs and cats and has a number of health benefits.

This versatile food has been important to mankind for centuries. According to the University of Illinois Extension Program, it’s a crop that’s worth over 140 million dollars annually in the United States alone. They should know; Illinois produces 90 to 95% of the pumpkins grown in the US.

Pumpkins have significant health benefits for people and pets so don’t discount this amazing food as just a fall tradition. Canned or plain cooked pumpkin as well as pumpkin seeds are packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential to the health of our pets.

Here are some of the health benefits of pumpkin for dogs and cats:

1. Combating dehydration: Pumpkin flesh is around 90% water, so a little pumpkin topping on a meal can combat dehydration resulting from moisture-deficient processed dry dog and cat foods. An additional benefit is improved digestion from increasing the gastric “juices” essential to proper gastrointestinal health.

2. Helping with Constipation: Fiber from pumpkin works in pets the same way it does in humans and can actually treat some gastrointestinal issues. A tablespoon or two of pumpkin can resolve symptoms in a few days if the gut is just a bit “out of order.” Some cats may experience decreased colon activity as they age, resulting in constipation. The added fiber from pumpkin increases the bulk of the stool and the colon muscles react by moving things along.

3. Reducing Hairballs: By increasing the volume of waste in the intestine, pumpkin can help your cat digest and eliminate fur swallowed during grooming. This can reduce or even prevent the formation of “hairballs” that are eventually regurgitated.

4. Resolving Diarrhea: Yes, it works both ways! Pumpkin can soothe constipation but diarrhea can also be remedied with the addition of pumpkin to a dog or cat’s diet. It is particularly effective if the upset is the result of colitis caused by a rapid food change or the ingestion of a new food. All it takes is a teaspoon for small dog or cat and a tablespoon or two for a medium or large dog of canned pumpkin in the animal’s food.

5. Boosting Weight Loss: With 3 grams of fiber per cup, pumpkin can augment weight loss in dogs and cats. The fiber fills the tummy so your pet feels “fuller” sooner, meaning Pookie eats fewer calories overall.

6. Supplementing Nutrition: One of the biggest benefits of pumpkin to pets and humans is its wealth of nutrition. Pumpkins contain carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin C, Vitamin A (from beta-carotene), iron, folate, magnesium, zinc, selenium, niacin, vitamin E, manganese, copper, and protein. You do not want to overload your pet’s system with these nutrients and trace minerals, however. This is not a case of a little bit being good and a lot being better.

7. Adding Antioxidants: Pumpkin contain antioxidants which help moisturize skin, helping your pet maintain a healthy and shiny coat.

8. Providing Essential Fatty Acids: In addition to antioxidants, pumpkin seeds contain essential fatty acids with similar benefits. Pets may consume the seeds raw (if they are fresh) or enjoy the roasted version which store better. Lightly coat the seeds with cooking oil and roast in a 375-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes for a daily treat your pet will love. Only offer a few seeds at a time to your pet (the fiber can cause a softening of the stool). Store the seeds in an airtight container or freeze them. Don’t forget to roast some extras for yourself! If your pet is small you can grind up the seeds to ensure they are easier to digest and don’t get caught in the intestine.

9. Controlling Parasites: Pumpkin seeds contain cucurbitacin, a possible anthelmintic that eliminates tape and roundworms. Additionally the seeds may inhibit the formation of kidney and bladder stones, and some studies have shown anti-inflammatory properties. The seeds may be ground up and added to food, but again, be conservative.

Don’t grab that jack-o-lantern just yet though! Carved pumpkins are NOT something you want to feed your pets because mold begins rapidly growing inside them once the skin is broken.

The best pet-safe sources are fresh or canned pumpkin cooked with no additional spices added. Do not get canned pumpkin designed for use in pie as this frequently contains spices and other ingredients. Opt for pure, plain pumpkin. Plan on freezing cooked pumpkin and fresh seeds; they last about a week when refrigerated. Some pet shops will carry pumpkin specially prepared for pets with sweet potato or other fruits added for flavor and nutritional benefits.

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 Nutrition is Very Different from Cat Nutrition


Our wonderful life-supporting planet is home to a remarkably diverse and complex spectrum of living organisms. And although all living things do share some common traits and similar biochemical pathways and cellular functions, there are many notable differences that make each creature stand out from the crowd. So even with the thread of sameness joining all the planet’s life forms, diversity and difference makes us take note of each creature’s uniqueness. Maybe that’s why the cat is America’s favorite housepet … cats are different!

This extraordinary four-legged feline has, for all of recorded time, evoked wonder and surprise, superstition and affection, damnation, and deification. From pharaohs to philosophers to paupers, the companionship of and affection for cats has been a result of the cat’s unique ability to make us humans gaze in awe and admiration.

Eons of special environmental circumstances have forced the cat to evolve some interesting and individualized biochemical activities. Let’s take a peek at how unique the cat is inside, in that mysterious universe of liver and kidneys and glands and fluids where a million chemical reactions are going about their biological business in silent obscurity. And to make our little peek at the inner workings of the cat more interesting, let’s contrast a few of the cat’s biological activities to those of our next most favorite companion the dog.

In so many obvious ways, cats look, act, react, and respond differently than dogs. You never see a cat happily wag its tail; a dog’s reflexes are quick, a cat’s reflexes are incredible; dogs are doers, cats are watchers. These differences are easily noted by simple observation. Now let’s explore some of the unseen microscopic world of the cat — the invisible world of metabolism and chemistry that is just as real as those traits we can see with our eyes.

To begin with we must get a good grip on two terms … carnivore and omnivore. The cat is considered by scientists to be a strict carnivore and the dog is considered to be an omnivore. Both species are in the Class Mammalia and the Order Carnivora, but here’s the difference: The cat cannot sustain its life unless it consumes meat in some form. Dogs, however, are able to survive on plant material alone; they do not have to consume meat. But always keep in mind that dogs do best and by nature are primarily meat-eaters. Just because by definition they are omnivores (can digest and utilize plant and animal food sources) does not mean that plant material alone makes a good source of nutrition for the dog. Far too many dogs have been undernourished by those cheap grain-based dog foods. And grain-based cat foods are even worse!

So a good way to think of it is that cats are carnivores, dogs are omnivores, but they both have evolved as hunters of other animals in keeping with their nature as meat-eaters.

There are numerous chemical substances that are required for a cat to remain alive. These substances, some very complex chemical molecules and some very basic and simple, must be provided along the internal chemical reaction pathways at all times. Like other living plants and animals, the cat can manufacture most of its own required substances within its own body’s chemical factory. For example, Vitamin C is a requirement for life sustaining processes for us Mammalia, and dogs and cats make plenty of their own within their body’s chemical factory — the liver. We humans don’t make enough within our body chemical factory … so to keep ourselves alive we have to find some Vitamin C already made (preformed) somewhere in our environment, gather or capture it, then eat it. Without the Vitamin C, we’d die.

Dogs and cats don’t have to worry about gathering, capturing, and eating other preformed Vitamin C. They don’t care where their next grapefruit will come from because they make all the Vitamin C they need inside their own personal chemical factory.

On the other hand, there are numerous nutrients and chemicals that cats need that they can only acquire if they eat animal-derived tissues. That is, they need to prey on other living creatures that do make the essential chemicals that cats don’t! Out of necessity, the cat has evolved ways to hunt down, capture and eat this prey in order to “borrow” the prey’s nutrients.

Outlined below are just a few of the unseen, but still very real biochemical differences between cats and dogs. Look these over and you will be even more convinced that cats are different!


Also called retinol, this vitamin is required at the cellular level by both cats and dogs.

Cats – Process little or no enzymes that will break down the plant-produced carotenoids. Must eat preformed active Vitamin A (that is, Vitamin A that already has been converted from carotenoids to its active form by some other creature such as a mouse or rabbit). Here’s a good example of why cats are called strict carnivores … they need to eat some other animal in order to “borrow” its active Vitamin A!

Dogs – Have enzymes in the lining of the intestine that can break down plant carotenoids and convert these into active Vitamin A.


An essential B vitamin (essential means must be eaten, can’t be made inside the body’s chemical factory.)

Cats – Can obtain Niacin only by eating the preformed vitamin. Cannot convert Tryptophan to niacin.

Dogs – Obtain Niacin in two ways. One is by converting a dietary amino acid call Tryptophan into Niacin, and the other way is by eating preformed Niacin.


A building block for proteins, it is an amino acid. Arginine is vital to many of the animal’s internal chemical factory’s functions. No Arginine and the entire factory goes on strike!

Cats – Are extremely sensitive to even a single meal deficient in Arginine and are unable to make their own Arginine within their chemical factory. Cats need lots of protein, and Arginine is involved in aiding the elimination of the protein waste products so the wastes don’t pollute the whole factory!

Dogs – Are not very sensitive to low levels of Arginine in their diets and produce enzymes internally that can aid production of Arginine.


An amino acid that is not built into proteins, but is distributed throughout most body tissues. Taurine is important for healthy functioning of the heart, retina, bile fluid and certain aspects of reproduction.

Cats – Must eat preformed Taurine. And since it is not found in plant tissues, cats must consume meat to obtain Taurine. Therefore, Taurine is essential in the diets of cats. Here again, meat has to be supplied to the factory so the Taurine can be extracted for its many uses.

Dogs – Make their own in their internal chemical factory.


It is a compound made from a sulfur amino acid (SAA) called Cysteine.

Cats – Have a much higher requirement for SAA than other Mammalia and are the only creatures to manufacture the Felinine chemical. Felinine’s role in the overall function of the chemical factory is unknown, but like most factories whose wastes generate offensive odors, any Felinine present in the male cat’s urine alerts the neighbors that the factory is up and runnin’!

Dogs – Don’t know and don’t care what this stuff is.


Cats – If fed a perfectly balanced and 100-percent digestible protein in a diet, the cat will use 20 percent of that protein for growth metabolism and 12 percent for maintenance. Here’s any easy way to say it … cats need more protein in their diets than dogs do.

Dogs – If fed a perfectly balanced and 100-percent digestible protein in a diet, the dog will use 12 percent of that protein for growth metabolism and only 4 percent of that protein for maintenance. Here’s an easy way to say this … dogs need less protein in their diets than cats.


An essential fatty acid that plays a vital role in fat utilization and energy production.

Cats – Cannot make their own Arachidonic Acid even in the presence of adequate linoleic acid. The reason cats can’t make Arachidonic Acid from linoleic acid is because the cat’s chemical factory (liver) contains no delta-6-desaturase enzyme to convert linoleic to Arachidonic. Tell your cat owning friends about this one. Tell ‘em about the cat’s lack of liver delta-6-desaturase enzyme and they’ll think you’ve got a Ph.D. in biochemistry!

Dogs – Can make their own Arachidonic Acid if they consume enough linoleic acid by eating proper fats. Therefore, we can say that Arachidonic Acid is not an essential fatty acid for dogs.


Cats – Do not mobilize fat reserves for energy very efficiently and, in fact, break down non-fatty body tissues for energy. This upsets the internal chemical factory and can lead to a very dangerous feline disorder called hepatic lipidosis. Never put a fat cat on a starvation diet, it might just put the entire factory out of business.

Dogs – Can tolerate prolonged fasts and utilize fat reserves for energy.

So, there you have an insight into some of the invisible goings-on in our friend the cat. It should be obvious that a high quality, meat-based diet is imperative to a cat’s wellness. There are no vegetarian diets for cats! And feeding your cat a homemade concoction of meat may be a disaster. Often, the best recourse is to find a good quality meat-based diet for your feline.

The next time you admire a cat’s unique personality and behavior, and watch the way they egocentrically carry themselves for anyone to see, remember … hidden beneath that furry skin is another unique and vast universe. There is a veritable chemical cosmos inside your cat that’s just as wondrous and magnificent as the cosmos above. You can’t see it, but it’s there, silently following the rules of nature to sustain our unique and valued feline friends. And it’s that complex chemical cosmos, working it’s fantastic magic, that prompts us cat lovers to say, truly … cats are different!

Pet MD


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






Gas in Dogs: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

Oh, that smell! If you’ve ever lived with a Bulldog or Boxer you’ll know what I’m talking about, but you don’t have to belong to the snub-nosed breed crowd to have experienced the worst kind of room-clearing flatulence. This is especially true if your pet happens to suffer from certain chronic gastrointestinal disorders.

I don’t recall this topic getting treated in much depth back in vet school despite its prevalence. The flashier subjects of diarrhea and vomiting always overshadowed “intestinal gas” in the category of GI ailments.

And while that’s understandable (both diarrhea and vomiting are arguably more dramatic events) flatulence needn’t be ignored. It too deserves to be treated with respect. After all, pets who suffer from it aren’t just distressing you with their stench; their alimentary tracts are telling us something about how they’re processing the foods we feed them.

Is Gas in Dogs Normal?

Make no mistake: Flatulence is perfectly normal and physiologically appropriate in almost all cases. That’s the “good” part the title refers to. After all, every mammal lives in symbiotic harmony with the bacteria in its digestive system. These are the gut’s co-digesters, which release gas during their normal course of their nutrient processing duties.

But even when it’s normal, flatulence is rarely a welcome punctuation to our pets’ post-prandial slumber. Indeed, it’s no more comfortable to them than what happens to us humans after a bowl of 3-alarm chili or a plate overflowing with beans and rice. To be sure, flatulence is normal, but when it’s excessive it’s time for taking action.

Unfortunately Beano isn’t on the menu. My internal medicine colleagues described the use of this over-the-counter remedy for humans as “probably non-toxic but likely not helpful.” Sure, that’s not scientifically tested, but it’s not a ringing endorsement either.

So what does help?

What Causes “Gas” or Flatulence in Dogs?

Not so fast … Before all else, a diagnosis is probably in order. Why exactly is there so much nasty gas coming out the business end of nature’s most efficient composter? Here’s a short list of possibilities:

Is there too much gas going in?

  • Gulping food down causes excess ingestion of air
  • Chewing certain toys or rawhide-style chews may cause inappropriate ingestion of air
  • Certain respiratory ailments can lead to excess gas ingestionHow about too much gas production inside the digestive tract?
  • Dietary intolerances
  • True food allergies (though uncommon, it’s always a possibility)
  • Bacterial overgrowths secondary to dietary indiscretion (aka “garbage gut”)
  • Chronic bowel diseases (as diverse as parasitism and cancers)
  • Pancreatic disorders (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in particular)To determine the cause of the gas, methods such as stool checks, bloodwork, X-rays, and ultrasound are the standard. But sometimes endoscopy (including colonoscopy), abdominal exploratory surgery, and even CT scans are required to get to the bottom of it. Yes, even flatulence disorders can be hard to diagnose.  Most of us stop short of more invasive methods when it comes to something as seemingly innocuous as gas. Nonetheless, severe or worsening conditions often warrant more aggressive diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause.  What Can You do to Treat “Gas” or Flatulence in Your Dog?  For most common gas issues, however, I like to try the simple tricks they never taught us in vet school. Here’s a list of methods that are worth a try, best employed after your vet’s done her basic workup and can’t find an obvious source of the dilemma:#1 A Change of DietIs some ingredient giving your dog gas? Just like people, pets can be intolerant of proteins and/or carbohydrates. Simply picking out a new diet has worked for many pets, but beware: always make diet changes slowly by carefully and gradually mixing in the new food with the old for a week.For pets with possible food allergies or severe dietary intolerances, a diet containing novel proteins and carbohydrates (or a hydrolyzed protein) is often recommended. Switching to a therapeutic diet recommended by your veterinarian might make all the difference.#2 Feed Your Dog Smaller or Moister MealsSome pets are simply pigs, gulping mouthfuls of air along with their food. Slowing the process down helps and frequent smaller feedings is one way to accomplish this. And don’t forget to check out the chewing action. If your pet is gulping as she goes you’ll want to make some changes. Wetting the food might help here, too.#3 Probiotics for DogsSome pets respond to the simple addition of yogurt (preferably laced with extra acidophilus cultures) but some commercial pet probiotics have been formulated specifically to provide the kinds of “good” bacteria that live in the digestive systems of cats and dogs.
    #4 Charcoal for DogsApparently, some gastrointestinally-focused internal medicine specialists will recommend charcoal tablets to speed nasty bacteria through the GI tract. I’ve never tried it but, considering how safe charcoal is, it might be worth a shot for those of you at your wits’ end.#5 Simethicone for DogsSimethicone is the active ingredient in Gas-Ex, a super-safe human product we veterinarians occasionally prescribe. Despite its safety, though, you should always check with your vet since it may not be his or her first choice.

    In fact, everything I’ve just offered in the post above should serve as a basis for questions to ask your veterinarian and should not be taken as gospel. Until you get their approval you’ll just have to resort to exiting the room the next time your pet “bombs it.”
    So what are you waiting for? Go ask your veterinarian for help dispensing with olfactory discomfort once and for all.
    I hope this article gives you some tips for dealing with your dogs flatulence.                  Patty Kuhly, VMD

  • 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


11 Most Common Triggers for Aggression in Dogs


Dog bites are preventable, but it takes work from both the dog’s owner and anyone that encounters the dog. A good first step in preventing aggressive in dogs is knowing the common triggers. Robin Bennett, CPDT-KA, author of All About Dog Daycare gave us a list of the 11 most common triggers – avoid them to help prevent an attack from happening.

#1 – Small children

The fast and sometimes erratic movement from children can trigger a dog’s negative reaction. If you have a dog that is not child-friendly, you need to be aware and try your best to avoid them coming at your dog.

#2 – Bikes, Skateboards, Scooters, etc.

Fast moving objects that are new and unfamiliar to a dog can scare them. Also, many dogs get excited by the moving wheels; they ignite their prey drive, causing them to chase after and attack the vehicle and its rider.

#3 – Getting Too Close Too Fast

Reaching out for a dog that is not comfortable or prepared for it can cause them to snap. No one should approach a dog head on, hand out stretched.

#4 – Hugging/kissing

Many dogs don’t like to be restrained for a hug and a kiss. Watch for signs your dog is stressed and ask people to not pet your dog.

#5 – Overstimulaton/overarousal

Arousal and aggression are linked, so getting a dog too revved up can cause a reaction. So, teaching your dog to be calm in public situations is a must. In addition, avoid revving him up with games like tug or fetch right before you go out. Instead, do calm warm-up training, like extended mat stays.

#6 – Cornering a Dog

Blocking a dog’s escape route (by cornering him, blocking his exit from a crate, or holding him on leash when he wants away) can cause him to react. It’s like backing a wild animal into a corner. They may have been running, but now they can’t. The only thing they can do is turn and fight.

#7 – Harsh Punishment

Yelling, hitting or harmfully correcting a dog can cause him to defend himself. Correction is not the way to get a dog to not bite.

#8 – Being threatened by another dog

Being barked or chased by another dog can cause a dog to defend himself. Try to not walk by reactive dogs in your neighborhood or take your dog to uncontrollable environments like the dog park. It’s not worth the risk.

#9 – Handling

If a dog isn’t used to a veterinary exam, nail clipping or grooming, those experiences can trigger aggression. Be sure to move slowly, work on handling, and watch for signs you are pushing your dog too far.

#10 – Defending Territory

A dog is usually more confident in his own area and may act more aggressive if strangers come into the yard or home (this might also be termed guarding behavior…guarding toys, food, locations, people, etc)

#11 – Frustration

If a dog is agitated but restrained by a gate, tether, or person, that `dog is likely to redirect his aggression onto the nearest other object, animal or person. Be aware of this as you walk your dog. If they start to get revved up about something across the street, you are the nearest object to redirect on. It’s best to turn around and walk away if you are going to lose control of your dog and possibly get bit.


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






How and Why is Cat Purring?


Source: Library of Congress

No one knows for sure why a domestic cat purrs, but many people interpret the sound as one of contentment. Our understanding of how a domestic cat purrs is becoming more complete; most scientists agree that the larynx (voice box), laryngeal muscles, and a neural oscillator are involved.

Kittens learn how to purr when they are a couple of days old. Veterinarians suggest that this purring tells ‘Mom’ that “I am okay” and that “I am here.” It also indicates a bonding mechanism between kitten and mother.

As the kitten grows into adulthood, purring continues. Many suggest a cat purrs from contentment and pleasure. But a cat also purrs when it is injured and in pain. Dr. Elizabeth Von Muggenthaler has suggested that the purr, with its low frequency vibrations, is a “natural healing mechanism.” Purring may be linked to the strengthening and repairing of bones, relief of pain, and wound healing

This is a link to that paper:

Purring is a unique vocal feature in the domestic cat. However, other species in the Felidae family also purr: Bobcat, Cheetah, Eurasian Lynx, Puma, and Wild Cat (Complete list in Peters, 2002). Although some big cats like lions exhibit a purr-like sound, studies show that the Patherinae subfamily: Lion, Leopard, Jaguar, Tiger, Snow Leopard, and Clouded Leopard do not exhibit true purring (Peters, 2002).”

What makes the purr distinctive from other cat vocalizations is that it is produced during the entire respiratory cycle (inhaling and exhaling). Other vocalizations such as the “meow” are limited to the expiration of the breath.

It was once thought that the purr was produced from blood surging through the inferior vena cava, but as research continues it seems that the intrinsic (internal) laryngeal muscles are the likely source for the purr. Moreover, there is an absence of purring in a cat with laryngeal paralysis. The laryngeal muscles are responsible for the opening and closing of the glottis (space between the vocal chords), which results in a separation of the vocal chords, and thus the purr sound. Studies have shown, that the movement of the laryngeal muscles is signaled from a unique “neural oscillator” (Frazer-Sisson, Rice, and Peters, 1991 & Remmers and Gautier, 1972) in the cat’s brain.

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



What Is Your Dog Saying? A Key to Canine Body Language

Every dog, whether Akita, bichon, or beagle, knows the same language. You and your dog probably pick up on each other’s signals without thinking much about it. But if your dog begins to behave differently, if you are getting to know a new dog, or if you encounter a dog you don’t know, it helps to be able to read the universal canine body language.

If you and your dog landed in Tokyo or Timbuktu tomorrow and were greeted by a local person and his dog, it would take only a few minutes for the two dogs to understand each other. Hours later, you would still be wondering if you were bowing properly, making acceptable hand gestures, or using the right table manners. The dogs, on the other hand, would know just what to do – the lead dog eats first.

Signals Dogs Use

Although a dog can’t speak and has no hands and fingers for gesturing as humans do, you can watch key parts of his body to determine how he’s feeling and reacting to the world around him.

  • Face. Although the dog’s facial muscles are not as refined as a human’s, he can wrinkle or straighten his forehead to show confusion or determination. If your dog wants you to give him further direction, he may raise his eyelids quizzically and tilt his head to one side.
  • Eyes. A dog’s eyes brighten when he looks at a creature he considers friendly and when he wants to play. If he is afraid, his pupils dilate and he shows the whites of his eyes. He averts his eyes to avoid confrontation. But if he is angry or ready to defend himself, his eyes narrow and follow your every move. At this point, it’s particularly important not to look the dog in the eye because he sees that as a challenge to defend his position.
  • Lips, teeth and tongue. A relaxed dog in normal posture may let his tongue loll out of his mouth. If he wants something from you, if he is happy or wants to play, he may pull his lips back in what appears to be a smile and show his teeth, an expression, by the way, dogs show only to humans and not to other dogs. But beware the dog that bares his clenched teeth and wrinkles his nose. He is ready to attack.
  • Ears. The dog’s sense of hearing is much more acute than ours and even dogs with floppy ears have the ability to move and turn them to follow sounds. If a dog’s ears are raised, he is relaxed, listening, or showing acceptance. If they are back, he may be signaling submission and deference or may be frankly fearful.
  • Tail. A dog wags his tail when he is happy or wants to play. It is really an energy indicator. When he is submissive, he tucks it between his legs. A taut tail, held down rigidly behind him, may show that he is prepared to spring since he uses his tail for balance when jumping.
  • Voice. Dogs are vocal animals. They yip, bark, whimper, howl, and growl. The pitch or volume of their sounds can increase with their level of emotion. A bark may be playful or aggressive. Unlike body signals, dog noises can mean different things from different dogs.                                                By: Joan Paylo

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


A Calorie Restricted Diet Will Help Your Dog Live Longer


Veterinary research can sometimes appear to have little relevance to what dog owners care about most. Investigations delve into minutiae while we want answers to the big questions. But two recent research papers deal with possibly the biggest of big questions — how to prolong life.

In the first, 48 Labrador retriever puppies from 7 litters were divided into 24 pairs based on their gender and weight at weaning. One dog from each pair was randomly designated to be the control, while the other was fed 25% less than what the control dog ate. The study ran from when the dogs were eight weeks old until they died. The pair was housed together with access to both indoor and outdoor areas and no restriction to their activity levels. The dogs received standard preventive care and medical treatment as necessary. At three years of age, all the dogs were switched off of puppy food to an adult maintenance diet and the control dogs were fed an amount that should have maintained them at an “ideal” body weight.

The result of a 25% reduction in caloric intake was profound. On average, these dogs lived almost two years longer than those dogs who were fed a “normal” amount. In addition, the calorie-restricted dogs developed fewer chronic diseases like osteoarthritis, and when they did occur, they developed later in life. This is what we all want for our dogs — a long, healthy life, and if disease has to come, let it come as late as possible.

I found the next study equally interesting. Researchers on the human side of things have noticed that Parkinson disease patients who take L-deprenyl not only experienced fewer symptoms but also lived for longer than did other patients, even when demographic differences between the two groups were taken into account. Scientists decided to see whether a similar effect occurred in dogs.

They paired 82 beagles ranging in age from 2.8 to 16.4 years and gave one individual a placebo and the other L-deprenyl for over two years. Due to the inclusion of so many young dogs and the relatively short duration of the study, no overall difference in life expectancy for the two groups was noted (we’d expect 3 year old dogs to live for another couple of years). However, when the researchers looked only at dogs who were between 10 and 15 years of age at the start of the study and received L-deprenyl for at least six months, the results were quite different. Eighty percent (12/15) of the dogs who received L-deprenyl lived until the end of the study, while only 39% (7/18) of those who didn’t survived.

I’m not at the point where I’m recommending that all older dogs receive L-deprenyl in an effort to prolong their lives, but when presented with a patient who might otherwise benefit from the medication, say a dog exhibiting signs consistent with early canine cognitive dysfunction, I will be more apt to prescribe it and recommend a dog stay on it for life.

On the other hand, I do recommend that most healthy dogs be fed in such a way as to mimic a 25% reduction in caloric intake. Keep your dog on the skinny side and you just might have him around for a couple of years longer than you would otherwise.   Dr.JenniferCoates

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








An Overfeeding Obsession? The Human Psyche and the Canine Obesity Epidemic

Well, in my business I do see a few overweight dogs and cats.  People love to feed them.  Food is love!!  Enjoy article.    -Diana Davidson


Ever found yourself offering treats to your furred loved ones against your better judgment? If you’re like most of us, you have. So many of us are doing this, in fact, that our pets are likelier to be on the plump side than tending toward lean.

If you’re guilty of this behavior, you’re in good company. You’re in a club that’s currently growing, uncontrolled, as we Americans feel the urge to offer more and more tidbits to our beloved creatures. This desire has spawned an industry of animal snacks.

Twenty years ago you would have thought the market saturated. There were crunchy “bones,” improbably hued meat morsels and chewy strips –– all designed to appeal more to the human in us than the animal in them. But that was the extent of it. Today’s pet owner, by contrast, heads to an entire aisle of offerings, an explosion of selections I imagine our ancestors would’ve stared at, open-mouthed and aghast.

What’s Behind the Feeding Frenzy?

I’ve had cause to think about this — a lot. I believe that if I can plumb the depths of the American psyche and pinpoint a cause behind this “feeding frenzy,” I’ll perhaps earn a Nobel Prize (or a MacArthur Grant). At the very least, knowing more about our culture’s compulsion to overfeed might bear fruit in my exam room.

What is it about humans that makes us feel the need to feed everything? It’s as if there’s a reflex somewhere in our circuits that connects another being with the irrepressible desire to see it eat.

Think I exaggerate?

Zoos sharply instruct visitors to refrain from feeding some animals while placing kibble dispensers in front of others, as if to satisfy our overwhelming urge to gorge a display’s nonhuman inhabitants. And feeding time at the zoo remains the main attraction.

Wildlife sanctuaries and parks have to warn people against throwing their half-consumed fried chicken and other picnic detritus to the animals.

Feeding pigeons and ducks at parks and lakes is considered a bucolic pastime.

Wildlife programming on television is rife with predator-prey interactions, shark-feeding scenarios and other such gastronomic delights.

See what I mean?

Are Vets Fighting an Uphill Battle?

There are more obvious examples to consider, such as the feeding of community cats. Feeding felines on a back porch or in a parking lot is a way of life for some. Is this pure charity? Perhaps. But it may also nourish an obsession to feed an animal every bit as much as the stuffing of one’s personal pets to obese proportions.

Why else would a fat pet be considered socially acceptable enough to shift the “normal” for many breeds toward greater thickness? Why else would thinner pets get clucked over as if they were the sickly ones?

Perhaps this is just American culture. Given that the United States ranked first on the list of most obese countries in a recent study published in The Lancet , the rest of the world may not live with this all-you-can-eat mentality and our dietary obsessions. The rest of humanity may not spend a lazy day feeding cheese food laced with more cheese food to an iguana. (I saw this in action recently in the Florida Keys.) No, this probably doesn’t even occur to most humans outside this country’s four corners.

This impulse to feed things is exactly what I’m up against in my veterinary practice. It’s no wonder that imparting a sense of urgency to the need for weight loss in pets seems so Sisyphean. After all, the obesity epidemic in pets will be depressingly difficult to counter if we all harbor an innate desire to smear Cheez Whiz on a Dorito and feed it to an animal.


Hope this was informative.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer & Managing Nanny

Westside Dog Nanny

Dog Walking, Home Boarding, Pet Sitting, Doggie Day Care