Human Pain Medications for Dogs

Are over-the-counter medications safe for my dog?

Much of the time, the answer to this is “no!” Even for those that can be used, many of the time, a more effective dog-specific alternative exists. In fact, inadvertent overdosage of a human medication is one of the top reasons people call the Pet Poison Control Hotline.

Antihistamines, such as Benadryl and Tavist, are some of the more commonly used over-the-counter medication for dogs. Veterinarians may also occasionally recommend over the counter antacids such as Pepcid for certain conditions. Because canine dosages can differ from human dosages, it’s important to get directions specific to your pet if these medications are recommended.

Pain medications is the number one category where owners seem to have problems when it comes to dosing their dog with human medications. Aspirin, Tylenol, and NSAIDS are often given to pets with very variable results. Best case scenario, they just don’t work. Worst case scenario, a pet can go into renal failure or suffer from ulcerations in the GI tract. Worse still, even one Tylenol is enough to kill a cat! (I know this is a dog article, but it never hurts to remind people.)

Although it may be tempting to skip the office visit and try an Aleve instead, my clients who spent thousands of dollars in the vet hospital after a pet develops bleeding ulcers can confirm: it’s not worth it. Safe and effective veterinary pain medications are always a better choice.

Despite how we think of them, dogs aren’t just small, furry humans. The fact is, there are many differences in the way dogs metabolize drugs compared to people. This can have tragic consequences. Never dose your pet with a drug meant for you without talking to your veterinarian.                             By Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny
310 919 9372



How to Stop Cat Shedding

10 Ways to Deal With and Stop Cat  Shedding

Cats shed — it’s a fact. Accept it, then consider these ways to contain it as best you can.

You’re standing in line at the airport, waiting to check your luggage, and a well-dressed woman says to you, “I can see you have pets.” When this happened to me, I quickly looked over my clothes to make sure I wasn’t covered in cat hair. But she pointed to my canvas suitcase, which had a layer of fur stuck to it.

Cat hair ends up on furniture, floors, our clothes, and inside and outside of our luggage. Cat hair also goes where we don’t expect it, because individual hairs can float in the air. Cats also can go where dogs can’t, so you’ll find it in more places — even surprising ones. I have found cat hair in my coffee cup, on the stove where my cats aren’t allowed, and even stuck to my lips after applying lip gloss.

Susan Logan McCracken

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny
310 919 9372

Another Danger of Homemade Dog Food

I’ve always thought I walk a reasonable line when it comes to homemade dog food. For most owners, myself included, the convenience of having a reputable company design and manufacture a diet that meets all of my dog’s nutritional needs simply can’t be beat. But for those owners who are willing to go the extra mile for their pets, home cooked meals made according to recipes designed by veterinary nutritionists can be a nutritious and delicious option.

I’ve just run across an article that is making me question this line of thought, however.

Fifty-nine owners and their dogs who were prescribed homemade diets by the Clinical Nutrition Service, Teaching Veterinary Hospital of the College of Agrarian and Veterinarian Sciences, São Paulo State University were included in the study. The dogs were thoroughly evaluated and then…

…a nutritionally complete and balanced homemade diet was prescribed. The ingredients used in the recipes included cooked rice, potato, beef, chicken, bovine or chicken liver, carrots, green beans, fish oil supplements, salt, soyabean oil, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate and dried yeast, as well as commercially available vitamin, mineral and amino acid supplements to fulfil minor nutrient requirements. Not all ingredients were used in all diets…

All owners received a written recipe that included the daily amounts of each one of the prescribed ingredients. The veterinary nutritionist carefully explained to owners the importance of following the recipe, the reasons for not changing the type or amount of each ingredient, the nutritional importance of each ingredient used, and details on how to prepare and feed the diet.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well… the scientists surveyed the owners about their experiences with the homemade diets. Some did not end up feeding the prescribed diets, but for the 46 who completed the study:

  • 30.4% admitted they had changed the recipe.
  • 40% did not adequately control the amount of provided ingredients.
  • 73.9% did not use the recommended amounts of soyabean oil and salt.
  • 28.3% did not use the vitamin, mineral, or amino acid supplements.

I find this last point the most shocking. Almost 30% of these owners who received in depth explanations as to the importance of following their recipes did not use their vitamin, mineral, or amino acid supplements AT ALL! Given enough time, these dogs could develop serious nutritional deficiencies.

So before you consider feeding your dog a homemade diet, have a heart-to-heart with yourself and honestly answer these two questions:

  1. Are you willing to take on the extra effort and expense needed to prepare your dog’s food from a recipe designed specifically to meet his or her particular needs (age, health status, etc.)?
  1. Will you follow that recipe and not make any changes to it unless you first consult with your dog’s nutritionist?

Dr. Jennifer Coates

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny
310 919 9372

Fleas on Cats

How can a natural product to combat fleas on cats almost lead to the cat’s death?

Natural products can be hopeless against flea infestations, and that’s bad news for cats.
I hate fleas.
Although I always have claimed to be an animal lover, and fleas are animals, I do not feel any cognitive dissonance about this apparent contradiction. Fleas are horrible creatures. I realize that they fulfill certain roles in the ecosystems in which they reside, but those roles are bad. Fleas cause agony and misery in companion animals. They spread diseases such as feline infectious anemia and bartonellosis (known inappropriately as cat scratch fever, when really it should be called flea feces fever). And let us never forget fleas’ role in the death of one-third of Europeans in the middle ages — fleas are the vector for plague.
Over the years I have treated many cats who died or nearly died as a result of fleas. Feline infectious anemia, caused by a bacteria in the Mycoplasma genus, has led to the near-demise of many a patient. And I have seen many cats nearly die (and a few actually die) from a different type of anemia caused by fleas. These cats had such heavy flea burdens that the blood sucking parasites sucked them near or to the point of death.
After an incident at work a few weeks ago, I have a new reason to hate fleas. They may lead to life-threatening intestinal obstructions.
A cat was brought to my clinic with a history of vomiting and weight loss. The owners had been struggling with a severe flea infestation in their house. They had used a natural product that, like all natural flea control products I’ve encountered, was absolutely ineffective.
Blood tests showed no cause for the gastrointestinal symptoms. Radiographs (X-rays) also did not provide an answer. An ultrasound of the abdomen, including the intestines, was performed. It showed a foreign object lodged in the intestines.
How, one might ask, could a foreign object show up on ultrasound but not on radiographs? Certain soft items such as fabric, hairballs, and some plastics are “radiolucent,” or invisible on X-rays.
The cat was rushed to surgery, and the foreign body was found within the intestines. The surrounding intestinal wall was devitalized and in the process of dying; fortunately, it had not yet burst open. The affected section was removed and the remaining sections of intestine were sutured back together.
While the cat recovered from surgery I opened the affected section of intestine to determine the nature of the foreign body. It was a hairball. The cat had nearly died from a hairball.
Although many people believe hairballs are normal in cats, in fact they are not. Hairballs don’t just happen. All cats (except for the hairless breeds) groom and swallow hair, and their systems are designed to move the hair through the intestines and out the rear end into the litter box.
Recent research has shown that a very significant number of cats who develop hairballs suffer from problems with their digestive tracts. These may among other things include inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal motility disorders, pancreatitis, and a nebulous condition called triaditis. The cat in question had no evidence of these disorders on any of her diagnostics (and she underwent the ultimate diagnostic event — exploratory abdominal surgery).
So why did the cat’s nearly fatal hairball develop? It is possible that a very mild (too mild to be observable on ultrasound or during surgery) case of pancreatitis or inflammatory bowel disease contributed to the matter. But in the end I wound up suspicious of her flea infestation.
The owners reported that the cat had been frenetically grooming during the time of the infestation. The cat’s hair was sparse and barbered (which is a way of saying that she had been biting the hair off with her teeth). I theorized that over-grooming and subsequent excessive hair consumption because of the flea infestation had contributed to the formation of the terrible trichobezoar.
Although I always have had bad things to say about natural or alternative flea preventatives, I should confess that these products are not alone in their inefficacy. Frontline Plus was applied in our hospital to the cat in question. (She could not take an oral preventative before or immediately after surgery because of her intestinal issues.) Twenty-four hours later she was still crawling with fleas that appeared to be alive and well.
Fortunately, 12 hours after surgery the cat’s intestines were sufficiently healthy for oral treatments. She received a dose of Capstar, which did the trick.
I counseled the owners extensively on how to address the home infestation. One stage of the flea life cycle, the pupa, is immune to all medicines, flea bombs, and other treatments. There will be millions of pupae in carpets, on bedding, and in every crack and corner by the time there is an active and visible flea infestation in the home. I recommended discarding bedding and cleaning as much as possible, but I warned the owners that millions of pupae would remain. The best option in such circumstances is to use an effective product (for now, Comfortis still seems to work very well) simultaneously and consistently in all pets in the house. After several months all of the pupae will have hatched into adult fleas that will have been killed by the effective preventative.
The cat in question went home to finish her recovery. But don’t let this happen to your cat. Stay ahead of the fleas with an effective preventative.
We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny
310 919 9372

Dr. Eric Barchas

Worried About Allergies in Children, Get a Dog or Cat.

Allergies in kids may be prevented by getting a dog or cat.

When I was in college, I worked summers at a pediatrician’s office answering phones. I sustained a lot of verbal abuse from stressed out parents in those months; the type of experience that forever made me appreciate my own front desk staff down the line. None of that bothered me, however, nearly as much as it did when people callously tossed off reasons they no longer had a dog or cat.

People have lots of terrible excuses for getting rid of the family pet when they are expecting a child: “I don’t have time any more,” or “I’m worried about Toxoplasmosis,” or, “I can’t afford a dog AND a child.”

Ask any shelter employee in the relinquishment department and they will have their own frustrating contributions to add. But as of this week, people looking to shirk their responsibilities may be down one excuse: the fear that pets increase the likelihood of allergies.

According to an article published September 3 in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, infants who shared a household with a furry pet also shared their gut bacteria, a species-specific form of beneficial bacteria from the Bifidobacteria family. When those infants and a control group of infants without pets were tested for allergies at six months of age, none of the babies who tested positive for common allergens such as cow’s milk, grass, banana, and dog dander had those bacteria in their system.

It’s not the first time research has linked more allergens with fewer allergies. Previous studies also suggest that children exposed to dog dander have less reactivity to airborne allergens, which probably means my kids have lungs of steel by this point. While scientists have tried to pinpoint the exact mechanism behind this, “germ theory” suggests that early exposure to bacteria confers a protective effect on the immune system. This study builds on that by correlating pet ownership with both beneficial gut bacteria and a positive health outcome, at least at six months of age.

We have a ways to go before doctors prescribe dogs as a preventive measure to pregnant women with a history of allergies, but we’re also moving away from those same women being encouraged to relinquish those pets. Regardless of the overall effect, the study authors are confident that avoiding pets does not prevent the onset of allergic disease.

I don’t mean to imply that there are no cases in which someone must make the agonizing decision to rehome a pet due to severe allergic disease; it can and does happen, and people should still trust the advice of their medical professionals. On the other hand, for the rest of us out there who wonder if a pet is an automatic allergy sentence, there’s hope: dogs and cats.

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny
310 919 9372