Each Thanksgiving, I cringe upon reading articles written by “pet experts” and veterinarians striving to convince pet owners to not share holiday foods for fear of creating illness in their canine or feline companions. This mindset reinforces the tendency for owners to solely rely on commercially-available, highly processed pet foods that differ vastly from the way food appears in nature. However, there are many foods served at Thanksgiving feasts that pet owners can and should share with their pets.

Yes, turkey is safe for both cats and dogs to eat. It’s a food source I often recommend for my patients, as it’s less commonly used in commercially available diets than other fowl like chicken. In my training of Chinese medicine food energy, it is believed that turkey is a cooling protein source for animals with an excess of Yang (heating) energy such as cancer, immune-mediated disease (allergies, “autoimmune” diseases) and infections (bacteria, yeast).

Of course, providing turkey to our pets in an appropriately-sized portion is key. Only offer small amounts of white turkey meat lacking skin, which is 38 calories per ounce. Never give turkey bones to your canine or feline companion, because the cooked bones can splinter, causing irritation to the stomach and intestines. Turkey bones can contribute to vomit, diarrhea, pancreatitis and other digestive tract problems.

Yes, cats and dogs can both have mashed or sweet potatoes. However, Thanksgiving potato dishes are often prepared with butter, cream, sugar, nuts, raisins or other additives that could cause digestive problems for your pet.

My top recommendation is to provide small volumes of cooked sweet potato without the skin or any additives. Sweet potato, boiled and without the skin contains 22 calories per ounce—medium-sized sweet potato is about 5.3 ounces—and is rich in fiber and antioxidants like beta carotene.Potato, boiled and without skin (i.e., white, Russet potato), contains more calories than sweet potato at 26 calories per ounce.

Cats and dogs can both enjoy small bits of bread rolls at Thanksgiving.  Bread chunks can even be used to disguise medications or supplements, and make the process of administering such treatments more tolerable to the patient and owner. The bread itself should not be coated with butter, oil or spices. Even though your canine or feline companion can eat bread rolls, my top recommendation is to focus on vegetables or meat, instead of bread and other carbohydrates, when offering your pet Thanksgiving foods.

Yes, cats can eat corn kernels. But cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat in order to thrive. Corn as a significant portion of a cat’s meal isn’t appropriate based on its biological needs. My suggestion is to give your cat only cooked corn, as raw corn can harbor bacteria, molds or parasites that could lead to health problems. I also recommend that no more than one tablespoon of kernels removed from the cob be given to your feline companion.

While dogs can eat corn, it is not safe to give them a whole ear of corn to chew. Chunks of corn on the cob could be ingested in larger-sized pieces than can be passed through the esophagus, stomach or small intestine. Cobs can cause a foreign-body obstruction requiring veterinary. Take the kernels off the cob before feeding any, in moderation, to your dog.less

Many cats and dogs eat canned or freshly cooked pumpkin as a fiber source as it can reduce colonic inflammation associated with diarrhea, help firm up soft stools and even provide greater stool bulk to benefit constipation. But pumpkin pie isn’t a dessert made exclusively of pure vegetable matter. It also has sugar, cream or milk, spices, flour, butter or lard. Other ingredients in the filling or crust could cause digestive tract upset in both cats and dogs, so even though pumpkin itself is good for your pet, pumpkin pie isn’t.

My top recommendation is to stick to the non-dessert form of pumpkin (canned or freshly cooked) when offering a Thanksgiving day treat to your canine or feline companion. Canned, unsalted pumpkin has 10 calories per ounce, contains nearly three grams of fiber per eight ounce (one cup) serving, and can help with canine and feline constipation and diarrhea.

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


NSAID in Dogs – Know the Benefits and Risks

Some drugs commonly given dogs have serious side effects. One group of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID for short) is one of those drugs.

Last week a new client complained that her last veterinarian had been “drug-happy”-in fact, she’d “divorced” him over the issue. As prime example of his pill-popping profligacy, she explained that he’d insisted on putting both her dogs on a popular NSAID.

In case you’re not familiar with them, NSAIDs comprise the most popular class of drugs prescribed for pain in both humans and dogs. You probably know two of the most common NSAIDs, aspirin and ibuprofen, and might even know others. But the human versions of these drugs aren’t always safe for use in dogs at doses sufficient for relieving pain. That’s why veterinary science worked to develop several canine versions almost two decades ago.

Since then, these drugs have been the recipient of accolades and acrimony alike. It seems like nothing good can come without something bad…especially nothing new. Canine NSAIDs, as relative newcomers, have received an outsized share of criticism relative to older, stronger, and even more side effect-ridden drugs.

Well, that explains why my new client’s last vet was getting flak for being so fast and loose with these meds. It also explains why there’s so much scary information on the Web about drugs like Rimadyl® (carprofen), Metacam® (meloxicam), piroxicam, Deramaxx®, and Etogesic® (etodolac), among many others.

Now, I understand where these owners are coming from. Really, I do. Safely prescribing medication requires a careful hand. But here’s the thing: All medications have side effects, just like all pain relievers have side effects. So why should NSAIDs get any special attention?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying these drugs are 100% safe. But they are too crucial for too many of our pets’ comfort to discount their use just because there’s a possibility that a problem will ensue.

Pros and Cons of NSAID Drugs for Dogs

Pets are living much longer these days, dogs in particular. And it’s not always the result of fancier surgeries, improved cancer care, and better nutrition. I can honestly say from my experience that pain-relieving NSAIDs have made the most significant dent in my canine patients’ quality of life and longevity by far.

Years ago people euthanized dogs simply because they “can’t get up anymore, Doc.” That still happens, but with today’s meds vets can delay that date by years for most patients with garden-variety osteoarthritis. With NSAIDs in common use, we see more pets granted the “opportunity” of dying from other diseases now that pain relievers have become commonplace for older pets. (This perhaps explains why so many more dogs seem to get cancer these days than ever before-we can treat the pain that used to be reason enough for euthanasia.)

Of course, these drugs come with warnings you should know about, ones which veterinarians have a moral and ethical duty to divulge in detail. This is necessary not just because you, the human and caretaker, have a right to make a thoughtful decision for your pets, but also because knowing the risks and side effects means you can minimize them.

Common Side Effects (Adverse Reactions) of NSAID in Dogs

Indeed, pet owners who are NOT prepared to identify side effects and intervene if necessary are those whose pets usually suffer the greatest consequences from using these drugs. In fact, I’ve never known even one of my patients to have suffered a severe reaction to any NSAID. All reactions have been minor and the drug was discontinued, changed, or reduced in dosage so that pets could achieve an appropriate safety profile and comfort level: a win-win.
That’s great, right? But do YOU know the basic facts about NSAIDs?
In case you don’t or you have forgotten them, here’s a brief rundown on the must-knows:

  • Side effects of NSAID primarily include vomiting, regurgitation, diarrhea, lethargy, poor appetite, and evidence of nausea (licking the lips and/or salivating).
  • Dark, tarry stools, overtly bloody stools, bloody vomitus, and vomitus with coffee ground-like material in it are all evidence of more severe gastritis and/or enteritis. Worst case scenarios here can include severe bleeding ulcers, though these almost always have early warning signs to help you prevent them.
  • NSAIDs can damage the liver and/or kidneys. Pets (usually dogs) receiving regular, long-term doses of NSAIDs should have blood testing performed before the drug is initiated as well as one month afterwards and then every six months thereafter to ensure the liver is not experiencing severe effects from these medications. (Liver toxicity seems to happen to a certain subset of dogs, while kidney failure more often affects cats.)
  • Beware drug interactions. It’s not unusual for pets taking NSAIDs to wind up at an emergency hospital for some unrelated injury or illness. In these cases, owners MUST inform the new veterinarian of the drugs their pets are taking. That’s true for all drugs, but VERY important for NSAIDs since they cannot be combined with corticosteroids (like Prednisone), which are commonly used in emergency situations.Makes sense, right? These drugs may be a godsend but they’re not without their risks. Know what side effects look like, have your pets monitored, and ignore drug interactions at your own peril. Ask your veterinarian for more information that may specifically apply to your pet’s case.I hope this gives you more information about the use of NSAID in dogs and side effects that can happen. Understand the possible benefits and adverse reactions so you can make the best decision on drug use for your dog.                    Dr. Patty Kuhly

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 There Really Hypoallergenic Dogs and Hypoallergenic Cats?

While we all believe that some dogs, e.g. poodles,  don’t produce antigens to stimulate our allergies, let’s read this and find out what’s going on.

Day after day, allergy-suffering animal loverscomb breed descriptions in search of their Holy Grail: a hypoallergenic dog or cat — one that doesn’t produce sniffling, sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes, skin reactions or an asthma attack.

All Pets Produce Allergens

Though an Internet search will surface all kinds of animals said to be hypoallergenic — from hairless creatures to those with curly or wiry coats to animals with hair instead of fur and those who don’t shed heavily — the truth is that all animals produce allergens, says Dr. Oren P. Schaefer, an allergist at Mass Lung & Allergy in Worcester, Massachusetts. “The impression of a hypoallergenic pet is one that does not produce allergy, and that doesn’t exist,” he says in a sympathetic tone. “There are some animals that are less allergenic, but they all make the allergen that can cause trouble. It’s a matter of how much they make.”

Dogs, for instance, make six allergens, which are found in varying amounts in their dander (skin flakes), saliva and urine, explains William H. Miller, VMD, a dermatology specialist and professor of medicine at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, New York. “You can be very allergic to one dog and not another. This can be within the same breed or between breeds.”

But what about breeds created to be hypoallergenic, such as Labradoodles, Goldendoodles and other Poodlemixes? They were bred with the idea that the Poodle’s curly (and supposedly hypoallergenic) coat would diminish the likelihood that they would cause allergies. Like any other animal, however, they vary in the amount of dander and allergen they produce. Reputable breeders don’t guarantee their animals will be hypoallergenic.

How to Find a Pet Less Likely to Cause Problems

If you’re allergic but still want to add a pet to your family, these tips can help you find one that may be less likely to leave you sniffling, sneezing and wheezing.

  • Do a test run. To find out if a particular breed or hybrid sends your allergies into overdrive, Dr. Miller recommends visiting someone who has only that breed in his or her home and see if your symptoms flare. “If they don’t, that doesn’t mean that breed is OK for you, but it increases the likelihood that you might be able to live in harmony with that [type of] dog,” he says.
  • Look for certain features. Smaller animals and those that shed less tend to spread fewer allergens in their wake. But someone who is sensitive to a particular allergen may still react to it.
  • Watch out for lickers. “If you’re allergic to dog saliva and the dog is a licker, you’re likely to have issues with him,” Dr. Miller says.
  • Consider gender. If you have a mild allergy to cats but still want to adopt one, gender may be something to factor in when making your choice. Male cats, especially those who are not neutered, make more allergens than females.

Living With Pets If You Have Allergies

How allergy sufferers respond to allergens varies, but a few simple strategies can help ease the burden. Many people find that taking medications or getting allergy shots helps them better tolerate the presence of animals. Also smart: having your pet groomed frequently, either by a professional or someone in the household who doesn’t have allergies.

One caveat from Dr. Miller: If your pet allergies cause asthma attacks, which can be dangerous, you’re better off not trying to live with a dog or cat.

Breeds to Consider

Though it’s true that no animal is truly allergen free, there are breeds or hybrids that may be less likely to stir up sensitivities because of their type of coat or the amount of allergens they produce.  Here are hypoallergenic dogs and hyperallergenic cats.

Dogs: Bedlington Terrier, Bichon Frise, Chinese Crested, Coton de Tulear, Goldendoodle, Irish Water Spaniel, Italian Greyhound, Labradoodle, Maltese, Maltipoo, Miniature Schnauzer, Toy or Miniature Poodle, Poochon, Portuguese Water Dog, Shih Tzu, Silky Terrier, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, or a Toy or Miniature Xoloitzcuintli.

Cats: Balinese, Bengal, Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, Javanese, LaPerm, Oriental Shorthair, Russian Blue,Siberian and Sphynx.


Kim Campbell

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



Here at PawNation, we have an overwhelming amount of love for dogs of all shapes and sizes, whether we know them or not. We want to shower them with attention and become best friends. However, we understand that there is a protocol to follow when meeting and greeting new dogs, and we want you to know it too. Keep reading to learn how to properly say hello to a dog and its owner while out and about.


Many people get excited when they see dogs and beeline right for them. However, you should always approach the canine’s owner before interacting with their dog. Ask permission before petting a dog, because you don’t know if it’s friendly or not. If they say no, respect that. The canine could be skittish around strangers and may lash out. The owner could be thinking of your own safety, so don’t get offended.


If you’re greeting a dog, either squat down to its level or stand straight. Squatting down puts you on the dog’s level, making it equal footing between both of you. Standing straight is the alpha position, but don’t stay in between the two and hover over the dog. This is a threatening position to canines and could lead to aggressive behavior.


Many of us go right for the head when we pet a dog, but that’s one thing you should be avoiding when greeting a strange dog. Reaching over the top of a dog’s head is intimidating and makes a dog feel uneasy. Instead, give a soft rub under the chin, the cheek or even the chest.


We know it’s tempting to stare deeply into those adorable puppy dog eyes, but try your best not to do it. Dogs view eye contact as a challenge and could become aggressive, so avoid doing it with a canine that you just met. You should look either at the owner or a neutral part of the dog’s body, like the chest or shoulders.


So you’ve successfully gained the dog’s attention and are lavishing it with scratches and rubs. That doesn’t mean you should be shoving your face in front of the dog’s face. Again, keep in mind that you’re a stranger to this dog. You wouldn’t be standing uncomfortably close to someone you just met with your face abnormally close to theirs, so don’t do it to an unfamiliar dog either. The canine could feel threatened by you invading its spaceand may lash out. Keep yourself safe by keeping your distance.


If the canine is done receiving your love and attention, it will let you know. Remember, this dog doesn’t know you and probably isn’t comfortable around you after one introduction. We tend to think of dogs as friendly and welcoming towards everyone that they meet, but that isn’t always the case. If the canine starts to back away, it’s done being pet and you need to respect that.       By

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



Is There Diabetes in Dogs?


Type I diabetes, known as diabetes mellitus, is the most common type of diabetes in dogs, but it can be prevented through diet and exercise.

Can dogs get diabetes? The simple answer is yes, they can. While the two are not conclusively linked, the surge in canine obesity corresponds to the rise in incidence of canine diabetes. Though there are two forms of diabetes — commonly known as sugar diabetes (diabetes mellitus) and water diabetes (diabetes insipidus) — and the first is by far the most frequently diagnosed in dogs.

Diabetes mellitus tends to affect dogs later in life, typically between the ages of six and nine, but the rate of incidence seems to be higher in female dogs. While there can be a genetic component, in the vast majority of cases, diabetes mellitus in dogs can be prevented through a combination of diet and exercise. Diabetes in dogs cannot be cured, but diagnosed early, diabetes can be managed in the same ways as in humans: through a modified diet, exercise, and insulin injections.

What is diabetes in dogs?

There are two major forms of diabetes in dogs, known colloquially by their identifiable sources, to wit, sugar and water. Since diabetes mellitus, or sugar diabetes, is by far the more common, that’s what we’ll focus on here. Put simply, diabetes mellitus in dogs is a condition in which a dog is unable to convert his food into the energy he needs.

In a bit more detail, dogs develop diabetes mellitus when the pancreas produces insufficient amounts of insulin. Insulin helps to convert proteins in dog food into glucose. Glucose is a sugar that provides energy to all parts of a dog’s body. When a dog has diabetes mellitus, the excess sugar is voided in the urine. Over time, dogs with diabetes can experience vision loss and an increase in kidney problems. Fortunately, diabetes mellitus in dogs can be both prevented and managed.

The rarer form of canine diabetes, known as water diabetes or diabetes insipidus, is usually related to the brain, kidneys, or a failure of communication between them. In dogs, diabetes insipidus arises from a dog’s inability to retain water and is usually caused by head trauma or by faults in the pituitary gland or in the kidneys.

Symptoms of diabetes in dogs

Changes in appetite and frequency of urination are the primary symptoms of both sugar and water diabetes in dogs. Food plays a major role in canine diabetes. Because the dog’s pancreas is not producing enough insulin, the brain is tricked into thinking that the dog is starving. Thus, a diabetic dog may overcompensate by eating more or by being hungry more often.

Hyperglycemia in dogs, or the excess in blood sugar levels, means that a dog with diabetes will also urinate much more frequently. Just as insufficient energy drives a dog to eat more, increased urination also leads to increased thirst. Along with appetite changes and frequent urination, dogs with diabetes will experience decreased energy as the condition progresses.

Left untreated, diabetes in dogs can lead to widespread system failures, with the eyes and kidneys being the first victims. Dogs with diabetes are at increased risk for developing cataracts in the eyes and eventually blindness. Over time, the failure to filter blood sugar may lead to enlarged kidneys and urinary tract infections.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

While there is no conclusive link, dogs who are overweight or obese tend to be diagnosed with diabetes more frequently than those who adhere to a disciplined diet and regular exercise. When symptoms of diabetes in dogs appear, a veterinarian can diagnose the condition in two primary ways: through blood tests and urinalysis. In pronounced cases, levels of sugar in the blood and urine will be noticeably higher.

Can diabetes in dogs be reversed?

Once diagnosed, diabetes in dogs cannot be cured, but it can be managed in the same ways as it is in humans. For dogs, these diabetes management strategies, under the supervision of a veterinarian, include a modified diet, regular exercise, and insulin injections. Dogs diagnosed with diabetes will require strict treatment for the remainder of their lives.

How to prevent diabetes in dogs

Some dog breeds seem to experience a higher rate of developing diabetes than others. Breeds believed to be genetically predisposed to canine diabetes include the Beagle, Bichon Frise, Dachshund, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Keeshond, Miniature Pinscher, Schnauzer (Standard and Miniature), Poodle, Puli, Samoyed, Spitz, and certain Terrier breeds (Australian, Cairn, and Fox). Genetic predisposition is only an increased likelihood, not an eventuality.

In dogs that are not genetically predisposed, preventing diabetes is a simpler process than treatment. A regular, well-portioned diet along with regular, if not daily, exercise are key to preventing the development of diabetes in dogs. Avoid giving your dog table scraps, especially around the fall holidays.

A lifetime of an unbalanced diet and insufficient exercise can lead to overtaxed kidneys andpancreatitis, both of which have been causally linked to diabetes mellitus in dogs. Diabetes in dogs is not a rapid onset condition, but the culmination of a process as a dog reaches middle and old age. Over the course of your dog’s life, a veterinarian can help you determine appropriate meal portion sizes tailored to your dog’s breed or mix; size; and age.

Do you live with a diabetic dog?

Among dogs, regardless of breed, females are at higher risk for diabetes, especially as they age. Spaying female dogs can reduce the risk that hormones released during the estrous cycle do not interfere with insulin production.

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



Diabetes in Cats

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is becoming increasingly common in cats. It cannot be cured, but it can be managed.

Can cats get diabetes? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, and it’s a condition that’s becoming increasingly common. The form of diabetes that cats are most prone to developing is diabetes mellitus type 2. Feline diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be managed. With a portion-controlled diet and regular exercise, diabetes in cats can be prevented, delayed, or its effects mitigated. Let’s learn more about diabetes in cats and what can be done about it!

What is diabetes in cats?

Any definition of diabetes mellitus must begin with understanding the role of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin helps to convert food into energy that can be absorbed and used by the cells that comprise a cat’s body. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not create enough insulin. In type 2, more common in cats, the body is unable to make sufficient use of the insulin that is present. Left untreated, type 2 diabetes can develop into type 1, which is more severe.

Diabetes mellitus is also called “sugar diabetes,” because the energy that a cat needs is derived from glucose, a sugar that can be processed by cells. A diabetic cat can be well fed and well cared for but still feel like he’s being starved because that food is not being converted to energy the cat needs to function. Although any cat can become diabetic, the cat demographic most frequently diagnosed with diabetes are older, overweight males.

How do cats get diabetes?

Regardless of gender, overweight and obese cats are at greatest risk of developing diabetes. While obesity is not causally linked to diabetes, obesity creates the conditions under which a cat’s digestion and filtration systems are overtaxed. Pancreatitis in cats, or inflammation of the pancreas, can limit or inhibit insulin production and is more common in overweight cats.

Symptoms of diabetes in cats

The four major symptoms of feline diabetes are changes in appetite, frequent urination, noticeably increased thirst, and fluctuations in weight. No matter how much or how well a cat eats, when insulin is not functioning normally, the cat is not getting the energy she needs. In the early stages of feline diabetes, a cat will try to compensate by eating more.

Eating more, the cat may gain weight in the short term, but the longer the condition is allowed to progress, the more likely it is that the cat will lose a significant amount of weight. Deprived of the energy it needs from glucose, a cat’s body will begin converting muscle and fat into what energy it can.

With hyperglycemia, all that excess sugar in the blood must be dealt with somehow. In cats, excess sugar is eliminated through urination. This puts extra strain on a cat’s kidneys, and some of that sugar in the urine can remain behind in the urinary tract. Given enough time, this can lead to painful urinary tract infections.

Accordingly, water loss is made up for by increased thirst. Cats with diabetes will return more and more often to their water dish in an effort to replace the water they are losing through urination. That urination may not be voluntary, either; cat owners with diabetic cats report that their cats have an increased incidence in accidents away from the litter box.

In the later stages of feline diabetes, as a cat’s body begins to self-cannibalize its own muscle and fat, a further condition develops, called ketoacidosis. Cats with ketoacidosis have symptoms that most clearly affect their respiratory system. A cat with ketoacidosis will have breath that smells of acetone — think of paint thinner or nail polish remover — along with heavy, labored breathing. Energy loss and general lethargy also become apparent as diabetes progresses.

How is feline diabetes diagnosed? Is it curable?

Veterinarians rely on two primary methods, blood tests and urinalysis, for accurately diagnosing diabetes mellitus in cats. The excess of sugar that is not being converted to energy, or ketones for more advanced cases, should be prominent in test results.

If a diabetes diagnosis is made, X-rays or ultrasounds may also be performed to look for associated damage or swelling in the pancreas and kidneys. This diagnostic battery will provide the veterinarian with a fuller picture of the cat’s condition and help determine the appropriate course of treatment.

Diabetes mellitus in cats is not curable. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, your veterinarian may suggest modifications to your cat’s diet, coupled with insulin supplements, which may be administered orally or by injection on a daily basis. Caught early enough, the need for insulin may wane, and a strict dietary program can help prevent a relapse. For many cats, though, the diagnosis comes after diabetes has advanced to type 1, which requires daily insulin and blood sugar monitoring.

Preventing diabetes in cats

Over the course of a cat’s life, a diet that is appropriately portioned for a cat’s age, size, and sex, along with regular exercise, can help prevent obesity. A cat who is in good physical condition has a lower risk for problems in the kidneys and pancreas, which are conducive to diabetes. Fortunately, feline diabetes is manageable, and cats can go on to live a relatively normal 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

Kennel Cough: An In-depth Look

What is Kennel Cough?

Clinical cases of Kennel Cough are usually caused by several infectious agents working together to damage and irritate the lining of the dog’s trachea and upper bronchii. The damage to the tracheal lining is fairly superficial, but exposes nerve endings that become irritated simply by the passage of air over the damaged tracheal lining. Once the organisms are eliminated the tracheal lining will heal rapidly.

The most common organisms associated with Canine Cough are the bacteria calledBordetella bronchiseptica and two viruses called Parainfluenza virus and Adenovirus and even an organism called Mycoplasma.

Kennel Cough in dogs will stimulate a coarse, dry, hacking cough about three to seven days after the dog is initially infected.  It sounds as if the dog needs to “clear his throat” and the cough will be triggered by any extra activity or exercise.

Many dogs that acquire Kennel Cough will cough every few minutes, all day long. Their general state of health and alertness will be unaffected, they usually have no rise in temperature, and do not lose their appetite.

The signs of Canine Cough usually will last from 7 to 21 days and can be very annoying for the dog and the dog’s owners.

Life-threatening cases of Kennel Cough are extremely rare and a vast majority of dogs that acquire the infection will recover on their own with no medication.

How is Kennel Cough Transmitted?

The causative organisms a be present in the expired air of an infected dog, much the same way that human “colds” are transmitted. The airborne organisms will be carried in the air in microscopically tiny water vapor or dust particles. The airborne organisms, if inhaled by a susceptible dog, can attach to the lining of the trachea and upper airway passages, find a warm, moist surface on which to reside and replicate, and eventually damage the cells they infect.

The reason this disease seems so common, and is even named “Kennel” cough, is that wherever there are numbers of dogs confined together in an enclosed environment, such as a kennel, animal shelter, or indoor dog show, the disease is much more likely to be spread. The same is true with the “colds” spread from human to human … they are much more likely to occur in a populated, enclosed environment such as an airplane, elevator, or Even a chance encounter with a carrier of Kennel Cough can transmit the disease. office.

All it takes for contagion to occur is a single source (infected dog), an enclosed environment, and susceptible individuals in close proximity to the source of the infection. Infected dogs can spread the organisms for days to weeks even after seeming to have fully recovered!

Even in the most hygienic, well ventilated, spacious kennels the possibility of a dog acquiring Kennel Cough exists. Kennel Cough can be acquired from your neighbor’s dog, from a Champion show dog at a dog show, from the animal hospital where your dog just came in for treatment of a cut paw. So try not to blame the kennel operator if your dog develops Kennel Cough shortly after that weekend stay at the kennel! There may have been an infected dog, unknown to anyone, that acted as a source for other dogs in the kennel.

Many dogs will have protective levels of immunity to Kennel Cough via minor exposures to the infective organisms and simply will not acquire the disease even if exposed. Other dogs that may never have had immunizing subtle exposures will be susceptible to the Bordetella bacteria and associated viruses and develop the signs ofcoughing and hacking.

How is it Kennel Cough Treated?


Many dogs that contract Kennel Cough will display only minor signs of coughing that may last seven to ten days and will not require any medication at all. The majority of dogs with the disease continue to eat, sleep, play and act normally — except for that annoying, dry, non-productive coughing that seems so persistent.

It is, however, always a good idea to have any dog examined if coughing is noticed because some very serious respiratory diseases such as Blastomycosis, Valley Fever, Heartworms and even cardiac disease might display similar sounding coughing. Your veterinarian, through a careful physical exam and questioning regarding the dog’s recent environment, will be able to establish if the dog’s respiratory signs are from kennel Cough or some other respiratory insult.

Treatment is generally limited to symptomatic relief of the coughing with non-prescription, and occasionally prescription, cough suppressants. If the dog is running a fever or there seems to be a persistent and severe cough, antibiotics are occasionally utilized to assist the dog in recovering from Kennel Cough.  It can happen that secondary bacterial invaders will complicate a case of Kennel Cough and prolong the recovery and severely affect the upper airway. Therefore, the use of antibiotics is determined on an individual basis.

How is Kennel Cough Prevented?

Many dogs, exposed to all sorts and numbers of other dogs, will never experience the effects of Canine Cough. Some dog owners, though, prefer to take advantage of the current vaccines available that are quite effective in preventing the disease. Usually these dog owners will have to board, show, field trial, or otherwise expose their dog to populations of other canines.

Since the chances of exposure and subsequent infection rise as the dog comes in close proximity with other dogs, the decision to vaccinate or not to vaccinate varies with each individual circumstance. Generally, if your dog is not boarded or going to field trials or dog shows, you may not have a high level of need for vaccinating your dog against Kennel Cough.

Conversely, if you plan to board your dog, or protect it from exposure, remember to vaccinate a few weeks prior to potential exposure to allow full protective immunity to build up.

If your dog happens to acquire Kennel Cough, it will then have some immunity to subsequent exposures. The length of time these natural exposures and the vaccinations will produce protective immunity will vary greatly. How often to vaccinate seems to have a subjective and elusive answer.

Be aware that vaccinating with just the commercial Kennel Cough vaccine alone (contains only the Bordetella agent) may not be fully protective because of the other infectious agents that are involved with producing the disease. Some of the other agents such as Parainfluenza and Adenovirus are part of the routine multivalent vaccinations generally given yearly to dogs.

The intra-nasal Bordetella vaccine may produce immunity slightly faster than the injectable vaccine if the dog has never been previously vaccinated for Kennel Cough.

It is generally assumed that the intranasal route of inoculation works the fastest in getting protective levels of immunity established. However, studies have indicated that in dogs that have been previously immunized by either the intranasal or injectable route and that have some level of immunity already present, vaccination by the injectable route actually boosts immunity faster than the intranasal route.

When the injectable vaccine is given as an annual booster (to boost any immune levels already present) the maximum effects of the vaccine will be achieved five days after the vaccination.

So when should the intranasal route be utilized? Some veterinarians suggest that it be used only in unvaccinated dogs and in young pups receiving their first vaccination. In these unvaccinated animals the first immunization would be via the intranasal route and then two additional inoculations by the injectable route are given. Then yearly injectable inoculations are given to enhance the protective levels of immunity.

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

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