Vitamin D and Dog Heart Disease


It has long been known that vitamin D is important in human heart health. Research in people has found a strong relationship between congestive heart failure and vitamin D deficiency. In fact, vitamin D blood levels are useful predictors of survival in congestive heart failure patients. Heart disease leading to dog congestive heart failure is a common cause of illness and death in dogs, but little is known about whether vitamin D deficiency plays a role.

A recent study in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine suggests that vitamin D may have a similar relationship in dogs with congestive heart failure.

About Vitamin D and its Effects on the Body

Muscle and nerve function are highly dependent on precise blood levels of calcium. Vitamin D plays an essential role in maintaining the correct blood calcium levels by regulating calcium absorption from the intestines. In humans, vitamin D has been found to directly aid heart muscle electrical activity and muscle contraction.

Humans can satisfy their vitamin D needs in two ways. It can be absorbed from food in the diet or from vitamin supplements. It can also be produced in the skin when exposed to adequate amounts of ultraviolet rays in sunlight. It is nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin.” Dogs cannot produce vitamin D in the skin and must rely on their diet for adequate intake.

The Vitamin D Study on Dog Heart Disease

The researchers in the new dog study compared blood levels of vitamin D in dogs with congestive heart failure to normal dogs. They found similar results to those reported in human studies. Dogs with congestive heart failure (CHF) had lower blood levels of vitamin D. The researchers also observed that low blood levels of vitamin D were associated with poor survival. They were not able to show that actual blood levels could predict survival time as is possible in humans.

The study design failed to show diet was a cause of vitamin D deficiency in dogs with heart failure. The researchers relied on dietary questionnaires rather than direct analysis of diets. The questionnaire was not one that had been validated by research so its accuracy was limited. They also made various dietary assumptions to approximate vitamin D intake.

The study also failed to identify other potential causes for vitamin D deficiency. In humans, heart disease is associated the patient fitness and amount of body fat. Vitamin D is fat soluble and can be isolated in body fat and reduce blood levels. In this study, the dogs with CHF and the control dogs had normal amounts of body fat. No association with body fat was found.

Diuretics are standard for the treatment of heart disease in humans and dogs. These drugs reduce body and blood fluid levels by causing increased urination. Removing fluid helps reduce blood pressure and decrease the work load on the failing heart. Diuretics also increase the urinary loss of other chemicals in the blood. Theoretically, they could increase the elimination of vitamin D from the body and contribute to vitamin D deficiency in CHF dogs. The researchers did not analyze the urine vitamin D levels of dogs in this study, so it is unknown if medication contributes to the deficiency.

What Does the Vitamin D in Dogs Study Tell Us?

This is the first study to look at the relationship of vitamin D and congestive heart failure  dog. More and better research is needed to fully explain vitamin D’s role in the disease. What is clear from the study is that dogs with  congestive heart failure have reduced vitamin D blood levels. The study also shows that vitamin D deficiency in these patients decreases their survival times. Veterinarians need to consider vitamin D supplementation when treating CHF patients.       Dr. Ken Tudor

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 To Do If Your Dog Is Choking

If your dog or cat was choking NOW..WHAT would
you do FIRST?  A dog choking is a scary thing.


The signs of choking are much the same as a person. Your dog or
cat is struggling to breathe, with their mouth open. They may
be pawing at their mouth.

They may be attempting to vomit.

You may hear an unusual sound as they attempt to breathe and
pull air through a foreign object lodged in their throat.


The causes of choking are with anything that can lodge in the
throat. This is fairly exclusive to dogs – cats are usually
more particular. An example would be a dog fetching a ball,
and having it lodge in their throat. A variety of food objects
can lodge in your pet’s airway.


CALL YOUR VET IF NEEDED. Dogs are notorious for trying to
swallow things that are a little too big. The result can be
choking where an object lodges in the airway.
REMOVE THE OBJECT. When time is of the essence, you must
act quickly.
Open your pet’s mouth:* Open your pet’s mouth
* Grasp the upper jaw with one hand over the muzzle.
* Press the lips over the upper teeth with your fingers
on one side and the thumb on the other so that the dog’s
lips are between its teeth. Firm pressure may be required.
The dog then can’t close its mouth without biting itself
and is less able to bite you. Pull his tongue out of the way.
* Reach deeply in to the back of your pet’s throat and try to
grasp the object. If it is a ball, and you are unable to move
it, try using some type of instrument; tweezers, pliers or even
a spoon shaped tong.

If this method does not work for extracting the object from your pet’s throat,
try this technique.

Lay your pet on its side. For small pets, place your palms
behind the last rib on both sides of your pet’s abdomen and press your palms together quickly 2 – 3 times. Repeat if necessary. For larger dogs, place both hands behind the last rib and push down and slightly forward sharply.

Repeat rapidly until the object is dislodged

If you still can’t remove the object and if your pet can breathe, transport
him to your veterinarian. However, if your pet can’t breathe you must continue to try to dislodge the object either by compression or by using the Heimlich, as your pet is unlikely to survive the delay in reaching veterinary aid.
COMPRESSIONS. Gentle compressions on both sides of the widest point of the chest may help dislodge a ball or other object. Place both hands at the back of your pet over the widest point of the chest while he is standing,
and give 5 firm compressions to dislodge the ball.
HEIMLICH. If after trying to manually remove the object, and after gentle
compressions it won’t move, and your pet is still not breathing, then
proceed with the Heimlich.
TURN your pet upside down, with his back against your chest.

WITH both arms, give sharp thrusts to the abdomen.

AFTER 5 thrusts, stop and check to see if the object is visible
in the airway. If so remove it and give 2 mouth-to-nose rescue

If the breaths do not go in, repeat HEIMLICH.

In some cases, your dog is too large to pick up. You can lay him
on his side, and make a fist. Put your fist into the hollow
beneath the rib cage, then push firmly inward and upward.
Repeat 5 times, and then check to see if the object has been dislodged.
If after a few attempts it is still lodged, but you can still hear wheezing and some noise when your pet is breathing, then you have time to rush to your vet.
CPR. If your pet completely stops breathing, then you will have
to know the CPR steps.
After the airway has been opened, you may need to give artificial
CLOSE your pet’s mouth and breathe directly into his nose until
his chest expands.
If the chest doesn’t expand then go back to STEP 2 – AIRWAY.

VENTILATE at 8 breaths per minute. Two BREATHS every 15 seconds.


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 Dog Nose is Even More Powerful Than You Think

I love to go on walks with my dog,  but Apollo and I have very different ideas about what the point of a walk should be. I am out for exercise with a side of sunshine and fresh air. Apollo’s goal is to smell… absolutely everything! This leads to conflict. I want to keep moving and Apollo wants to stop, and then walk, and then stop, and then walk…

We all know that a dog’s sense of smell is better than our own, but do you know just how much better? I recently watched a TED-Ed Lesson that starts with an excellent explanation of just how a dog’s nose works:

As your dog catches the first hints of fresh air, her nose’s moist, spongy outside helps capture any scents the breeze carries. The ability to smell separately with each nostril, smelling in stereo, helps to determine the direction of the smell’s source so that within the first few moments of sniffing, the dog starts to become aware of not just what kind of things are out there but also where they’re located.

As air enters the nose, a small fold of tissue divides it into two separate flows, one for breathing and one just for smelling. This second airflow enters a region filled with highly specialized olfactory receptor cells, several hundred millions (300,000,000) of them, compared to our five million. And unlike our clumsy way of breathing in and out through the same passage, dogs exhale through slits at the side of their nose, creating swirls of air that help draw in new odor molecules and allow odor concentration to build up over multiple sniffs.

But all that impressive nasal architecture wouldn’t be much help without something to process the loads of information the nose scoops up. And it turns out that the olfactory system dedicated to processing smells takes up many times more relative brain area in dogs than in humans. All of this allows dogs to distinguish and remember a staggering variety of specific scents at concentrations up to 100 million times less than what our noses can detect. If you can smell a spritz of perfume in a small room, a dog would have no trouble smelling it in an enclosed stadium and distinguishing its ingredients, to boot.

The video goes on to talk about how our sense of sight and hearing present us with a picture of a single moment in time, while a dog can smell “an entire story from start to finish.” It also explains how the canine vomeronasal organ lets dogs “identify potential mates, distinguish between friendly and hostile animals, and alerts them to our various emotional states. It can even tell them when someone is pregnant or sick.”

I had reached what I thought was a pretty good compromise with Apollo on our walks. He got to dawdle at the beginning, but at all other times he was expected to get his nose off the ground and keep up the pace. Now, I think I’ll give him a few more opportunities to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.

Take a look at this TED-Ed Lesson; it will give you a new appreciation for what your dog can do with his nose.

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

Dog Teeth Cleaning – What You Need to Know

Dog Dental Health - What You Need to Know

Your dog’s teeth represent a sophisticated food-chewing machine.

Open your adult canine’s mouth and take a look. You’ll find approximately 42 permanent teeth comprised of incisors for biting, canine teeth for tearing, premolars for grinding, and molars for rigorous chewing. Each type of tooth serves an essential function within your dog’s overall process of breaking down food.

Yet, without proper care, your dog’s teeth are destined to suffer from issues associated with oral disease. As with any piece of machinery, regular maintenance is necessary to ensure continued operation at a peak level.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80 percent of dogs show oral disease by age 3, making it one of the most common conditions afflicting our canine companions. The buildup of bacteria in your dog’s mouth causes more than just bad breath – it can also serve as a catalyst of dental conditions and diseases affecting organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys.

How can you keep your dog’s mouth and teeth healthy in the face of this startling statistic? Here’s what you need to know about dog dental health.

Dog Teeth Cleaning Makes a Healthy Pet

White, healthy teeth help form the foundation for any canine’s overall strong bill of health. But similar to with humans, dogs’ teeth are prone to plaque buildup. When allowed to combine with saliva and residual food between the tooth and gum, plaque turns to tartar. If plaque and tartar are not removed routinely by your veterinarian, they may cause periodontal disease.

The most common disease afflicting small animals, periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the mouth. Its stages of severity progress from plaque and mildly inflamed gums to established gingivitis (gum disease) and, ultimately, the onset of full-fledge periodontal disease, which can result in tooth loss.

Preventive dental care represents one of the most neglected pet health needs. Periodontal disease is painful, and it’s up to us to take responsibility for our dogs’ care. If you think your dog may have periodontal disease, schedule an appointment to have your veterinarian perform an oral exam.

How to Tell if Your Dog Has Dental Disease

While you may not have a veterinary degree, your sensory perceptions can provide a strong indication of whether your canine is suffering from periodontal disease. Halitosis – or bad breath – is the most common sign of oral disease, and buildup of yellow and brown tarter on the tooth surface serves as the most obvious visual clue.

Other signs of canine periodontal disease include:

  • Loose teeth
  • Gingivitis
  • Drooling
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pawing at the mouth

As a dog owner, you should monitor your canine for potential dental conditions. However, it’s also important to realize that some periodontal disease may not be visible to even the most experienced observer. Consequently, a complete periodontal examination – including dental X-rays – may be necessary to uncover all types of oral disease.

Keeping Your Dog’s Teeth Healthy

Like daily walks for exercise, proper dental care should be a regular part of your program for keeping your canine healthy and happy. It’s often overlooked, but pets can suffer the same kinds of dental problems as humans, including severe pain, infection, and tooth loss. You can help prevent and treat issues associated with periodontal disease by working closely with your veterinarian.

Dogs should have dental exams every 6-12 months, depending on age. During a dental exam, a veterinarian will examine your dog’s teeth and gums in much the same way that a dentist looks at yours. The examination will include a visual and manual inspection to check for signs of gum disease, tooth discoloration, loose teeth, and indications of sensitivity or pain.

Your veterinarian will clean your dog’s teeth if there is a buildup of tartar or plaque. This can be done ultrasonically just as it’s done for humans. Your vet will probably recommend removing loose teeth and advise either removal or a root canal procedure if there’s tooth decay. Depending on the nature of the procedure, your dog may need to be immobilized using anesthetics.

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Tooth brushing is the single most important part of oral care and cannot be overemphasized. If your dog will allow it, you should brush his teeth daily. However, many veterinarians recognize that this frequency is unrealistic and believe several weekly brushings will suffice.

Here are guidelines to follow for brushing your dog’s teeth:

  • Brushing should be done with a brush designed to remove plaque from under the gum line.
  • Pick a time of day that will become a convenient part of you and your dog’s daily routine. Brushing before receipt of a treat can help your canine actually look forward to brushing time.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and veterinary toothpaste.
  • Start by offering your dog a taste of the veterinary toothpaste. Then, next time, have him taste the toothpaste, running your finger along the gums of his upper teeth. Repeat the process with a toothbrush until your canine develops a comfort level.

If all that your dog lets you brush is the outside of the upper teeth, you are still addressing the most important area of periodontal disease – prevention. But, if your canine eventually allows you to brush most of his teeth, that’s even better.

Dental Cleaning Products for Dogs

In between checkups and professional dental cleanings, you can improve your dog’s oral health at home by utilizing dental-friendly products. Seek items accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). Your canine will provide assistance by enthusiastically chewing on whatever products you furnish.

Examples of dental cleaning products for dogs include:

  • Dental-friendly dog foods: Some foods help clean your dog’s teeth as he chews. Whereas moist dog foods encourage plaque and tarter buildup, dry foods are more orally-friendly.
  • Dental rinses and wipes: Between brushes you can wash your dog’s mouth with an oral rinse or wipe designed to control tartar and freshen breath.
  • Dental-cleaning chew toys: Various types of chew toys can nearly replicate the cleaning power of a dog-specific toothbrush.

Ultimately, dogs can’t really care for their teeth themselves, so their dental health rests in your hands. By ensuring your canine companion receives adequate oral care to treat and prevent periodontal disease, you’ll help keep the well-oiled machine that are his teeth in peak operating form.

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 to Stop a Dog from Jumping

I don’t like it when dogs jump on me. I can’t tell you why it bothers me so much, it just does. Interestingly, nuisance jumping is a common complaint from owners as well.

Most often, dogs are jumping for attention. Dogs who are overly anxious, such as those with separation anxiety, may also jump even when the owner is ignoring them.

Don’t make jumping more than it is. It is not an effort to dominate you or lead your pack. First, domestic dogs don’t form packs, so you are not a pack member. Second, dogs generally don’t want to run the world. Nope, no visions of grandeur. They simply want attention from you. That is it, plain and simple. The dog is trying to get you to give her attention. If you are a dog, it’s natural to want to be up near the hands or face of someone who may pet you. Third, dogs don’t try to dominate each other by jumping up to lick each other’s faces.

Unfortunately, owners generally do pet dogs when they jump up. This reinforces (rewards) the behavior, making it more likely to occur again. To the dog, any type of attention can be considered reinforcement. This includes pushing her away and yelling at her. Through basic positive reinforcement (there’s the science of learning again), we have trained our dogs to jump on us starting in puppyhood. Once again, it is not the dog’s fault.  To stop dogs from jumping, try this.

Take the following, common example: When first adopted, the puppy jumps on you. You bend down to pet her. While this is fine when the puppy is 10 pounds, it’s not nearly as enjoyable when she’s 100 pounds. Then, when the puppy gets a bit larger and is in adolescence, the jumping becomes annoying. You try different methods, such as ignoring her, kneeing her or yelling at her. She continues to jump. Making it even more difficult for your dog to learn what is appropriate, there are inconsistencies within the family regarding how they interact with the puppy. Some people pet her when she jumps up and some yell at her. Finally, there are invariably inconsistencies between what family members and visitors do.

This is very confusing to the puppy. She can’t be sure what type of behavior is appropriate. The scientific term for these types of interactions is variable reinforcement. Variable reinforcement means sometimes the pup is rewarded and sometimes she is not. Believe it or not, this kind of reinforcement is the most powerful kind you can apply to a behavior. You read that right. You are actually making the behavior stronger by sometimes punishing and sometimes reinforcing. What results is a very persistent jumper.

To understand variable reinforcement better, consider the example of a person at a casino. This person might leave the roulette table after losing 2 or 3 times, but will sit at a slot machine for eight hours. Why do they do that? Because the slot machine employs variable reinforcement. The slot machine delivers small rewards intermittently throughout the day. There are enough rewards, statistically, to keep the person playing all day. There’s even the promise of a possible huge jackpot at some point during the day.

Teaching pups not to jump is pretty simple — ignore the pup when she is jumping and teach her an alternate way to get attention.

Follow these simple tips and your dog will be asking for attention politely in no time.

  1. Do not knee, kick, or yell at her when she jumps on you.
  2. Ask your puppy to sit for every bit of attention she gets. All of the time.
  3. If she’s jumping on you, walk away from her and completely ignore her. Don’t even make eye contact. When she stops jumping on you, ask her to sit. Then, reward her with petting, praise and/or a treat.
  4. When you praise your pup for sitting for attention, make sure to keep your praise calm and cool. It’s not fair to the pup if you get extremely excited praising her while asking her to stay under control.
  5. Like any other behavior, you will see the most improvement if everyone in your pup’s world follows the same plan.
  6. Until you can get your pup’s jumping under control, you can try distraction techniques like tossing small treats off to the side, or tossing a toy when you come through the front door.

Dr. Lisa Radosta

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


Understanding Dog Behavior; Understanding Cat Behavior

  • Is a wagging tail always the sign of a friendly dog? If your cat rolls on her back, does she really want you to rub her tummy? If your dog is“smiling” does that mean he is happy? As a veterinary behaviorist, I have to tell you, the answers to these questions might surprise you.  Here are some issues with understanding dog behavior and understanding cat behavior.

    There are some common behaviors that our dogs and cats exhibit that many people often misinterpret. Let’s review some canine and feline body language in order to help you determine what your pet is really trying to tell you.

    Weigh the Wag

    For example, tail wagging is not necessarily a sign of friendliness. In dogs, a wagging tail is an indication that the dog is willing to interact, but that interaction can be either aggressive or friendly. In order to determine what the dog is “saying,” you need to look at the rest of the dog’s body posture to figure out if he is approachable or not. Are the dog’s ears pinned back and flat against the head, sort of like a seal’s? Is his body and/or head lowered? Is he avoiding direct eye contact? Is he holding his body still or is he perhaps leaning away from you? These are all signs that the dog is uncomfortable and wants to avoid further interactions. Also keep in mind that a dog may not always choose to leave your vicinity in order to avoid a confrontation. Just as some people might just turn away from someone to avoid a conversation rather than move all the way across the room, a dog might try to stand, turn his head or hold his body away from you if he is uncomfortable. On the other hand, if the dog is being friendly, you might observe that he comes over to you and presents his side or hindquarters to be petted or scratched. He may nudge your hand for attention or press his body up against you. Or, when you look at the dog or speak to it, he may move closer to you for more attention and not bark or growl as he approaches.

    In cats, a “wagging” tail is definitely a sign of agitation. Cats don’t really wag their tails like dogs do. When relaxed, they tend to hold their tails quietly with minimal movement in comparison to a dog. So if a cat is moving her tail back and forth quickly two or three times in a motion I describe more as “whipping,” this might indicate agitation. It means something has caused the cat to be aroused, and it is best to give her some space and not interact with her until she has calmed down.


    Just because a cat is lying on his back doesn’t mean he’s giving you an invitation to give him a belly rub.

    Tummy Troubles

    Another behavior that we as humans often misread is when an animal rolls over onto its back. This is not always a sign that he or she wants a tummy rub. When a dog lies on his back, he is showing a sign of utter submission and appeasement in the dog world. People have chosen to interpret it as a sign the dog wants abelly rub. Many dogs may simply like attention, will take it any way they can get it and have learned to love their belly rubs. Other dogs, however, may feel really threatened by someone leaning over them while they are showing their most ultimate form of appeasement. Submissive behavior is deferential behavior used to tell the other dog that he wants to avoid conflict or a confrontation and that he needs space. When a dog rolls over onto his back, I typically ask him to sit up first before I give him attention to avoid this potential problem. Some people are really surprised when they try to pet a dog’s belly and he growls or snaps. While some dogs have been conditioned to receive attention in this manner and maybe even have learned to like it, always keep in mind that in the natural order of things, this is actually a signal saying, “give me space” or “do not hurt me.”

    In cats, this is even more true. When a cat rolls over to show you her abdomen, it is a sign that she feels really comfortable with you. It is not, however, an invitation to rub her belly. Many people are surprised when they try to do so and the kitty grabs their hands and bites them or kicks out at their hands with their back legs. Like a dog, a cat who rolls over on her side is often indicating comfort and deference (a submissive behavior). She is indicating that she is not aggressive and is trying to appease you or another cat. Despite how we may like to interpret the behavior, however, it is important to keep in mind, especially with cats, that she does not necessarily want you to follow up with physical contact!


    We usually recognize a dog as smiling when he’s panting with his mouth open and has a relaxed expression on his face.

    Smile vs. Snarl

    What is a smile in a dog? For many people, it is a dog panting with an open mouth and a relaxed expression on his face. For other people, it is when a dog approaches them and shows them their teeth prior to receiving attention or getting a treat. In these situations, the dog’s lips are pulled back toward the rear of the jaw exposing some of their pearly white incisors and canines. This is different from a snarl, in which the lips are lifted up vertically and the nose becomes wrinkled to show you the canines. This is usually accompanied by a stiff facial expression and body postures. What some people consider to be a smile, however, is not necessarily an indication of a happy dog. In the first described scenario, that might be the case. But dogs express their emotions in different manners compared to humans and it’s best to be very cautious. Keep in mind, we are the only species known to bare our teeth in order to show happiness. In other animal societies, baring teeth is a sign of threat!


    Dogs usually raise their hackles when they are wary or cautious, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to attack.

    Hair-Raising Experiences

    Hackles being raised in a dog (veterinarians call this “piloerection”) is not always an indication that the dog is about to attack another dog. Dogs often raise their hackles when they are being wary and cautious but not always before they attack. A dog may approach another dog slowly with his hackles raised, then greet the other dog with a play bow! When a cat has his tail “puffed” out, that is a sign of high arousal as well. It also does not always mean the cat is about to attack. The puffed tail can occur due to the sight of another cat or animal or upon hearing a certain sound. My cats, for example, have exhibited “piloerection” when they see stray cats on our deck or hear strange noises coming from my husband’s laptop. However, in both species, I would recommend monitoring the animals carefully and limiting interactions with them until they have calmed down. If a dog or cat is in a state of high emotional arousal, give him or her space to relax to avoid setting off an undesirable reaction.

    I hope these comments have been useful and given you some helpful insight into your pet’s behaviors. Knowing what your pet’s behavior really means can only help build a stronger relationship between you and your four-footed companion — and that is the goal of every veterinary behaviorist.

    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

My Dog Ate Chicken Bones. Is This Ok?

 Bones, whether cooked or raw, pose a serious risk to a dog’s esophagus and stomach. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not OK for dogs at all.

Several months ago, a very nice lady brought her very nice Golden Retriever to my office. The unfortunate dog did not feel well.

The well-meaning owner had wanted to give her dog a special treat. She cooked a chicken bone and gave it to the dog. An hour later, the bone was gone. An hour after that, the dog was miserable.

In the office, the dog stood with her back arched, and she groaned periodically. She was reluctant to lie down, and she frequently postured with her chest almost touching the ground while her hind end remained elevated. This so-called prayer posture frequently is seen in dogs with abdominal discomfort.  What to do if dog eats chicken bones

The owner consented to X-rays. They showed that the dog’s stomach was full of bone fragments. I had no trouble deciding upon the best course of action: I recommended endoscopy.

There are two ways to remove foreign material such as bones from the gastrointestinal tract: surgery and endoscopy. Surgery is very effective, but it is maximally invasive. Endoscopy only works if the foreign bodies are in the stomach or the first part of the intestines, but it hardly counts as invasive at all.

Endoscopes, essentially, are tubes with cameras on the end of them. The tube can be inserted into the mouth and the camera can be used to visualize the area at the end of the tube. Instruments can be inserted into the endoscope to retrieve foreign bodies or to sample tissues.

The owner elected to move forward with endoscopy. We called in a specialist to perform the procedure, and while she was on her way we prepared the dog. Preanesthetic blood work did not show any irregularities. Intravenous fluids, gastrointestinal protectants, and pain killers were started. The specialist arrived and the dog was anesthetized.

The specialist surveyed the esophagus as she passed the endoscope toward the dog’s stomach. Mercifully, no bone fragments were found in the esophagus (more on that later). The stomach, on the other hand, was filled with small bone fragments that had been chipped off the knuckle and swallowed. They had to be removed one at a time, and there were several dozen of them. The procedure took an hour and a half.

After the last fragment was removed, the specialist surveyed the damage to the stomach. There was plenty of it. Dozens of superficial erosions — which is another way to say ulcers — had developed from the irritation that the bones caused over just a few hours. Fortunately, the bones were removed before the erosions could become deep.

The dog went home later that night with pain killers, ulcer-fighting medications, and instructions to feed bland, easily digestible food. She recovered rapidly over the next few days, and she suffered no long-term complications.

The owner, however, was initially at a loss to understand how such a thing could have happened. Aren’t dogs supposed to eat bones?

The answer is yes and no. There is no doubt that dogs evolved eating bones. Most experts believe that wolves domesticated themselves (and subsequently became an entirely different species) by living, initially, on the margins of human society. As they made their way next into our yards, then our homes, and finally onto our beds, dogs’ ancestors were fed human leftovers. Or, to put it more bluntly, dogs evolved to eat our garbage. Bones certainly were a part of the mix.

And to this day many dogs live on human garbage. I will never forget the two resident dogs at a surf camp in El Salvador who seemed to subsist largely on chicken bones. They seemed quite healthy. Dogs in many other places I’ve visited — from Bolivia to Botswana to Cambodia — have similar diets.

But I have to wonder: How many gastric ulcers do those dogs have? And I have noticed something else about dogs who live in developing countries: They are always young. One almost never sees an old dog when visiting a place like Laos. Something’s taking them out before they become elderly. Are bones playing a role?

I likely never will find out whether bones in the diet contribute to the short lifespans of third-world dogs. But I do know this: In the USA, when you give your dog a bone, you are taking a risk.

Maybe your dog will suffer no consequences. Or maybe he will fall victim to the many ills that I have seen in dogs who have been given bones. Such problems include fractured teeth, damage to the esophagus, intestinal obstructions, abdominal pain, andpancreatitis.

In the past, when the raw-feeding crowd seemed to be more vocal and active, I would receive a great deal of flak whenever I wrote about the dangers that bones pose to dogs. Raw bones, it was claimed, could not chip teeth and were highly digestible. Such bones surely were safe for dogs, people would claim.

Not so fast. Raw bones may be contaminated with bacteria such asSalmonella and E. coli, which can sicken the canine and human members of the house. And raw bones can only be digested if they make it into the stomach.

Bones — and it doesn’t matter whether they’re cooked or raw — are the most common type of foreign body that is found in the esophagus. And it turns out that the esophagus is just about the worst place in the body for an object such as a bone to lodge.

The esophagus is extremely unforgiving, and it is easily damaged. Bones often cause damage to the esophagus that leads to scarring and permanent stricture. If present for long enough (and it doesn’t take long — even a few days may be enough), bones may cause so much damage that the esophagus can no longer be used to swallow food. Such dogs require long-term feeding tube placement.

I’m no prude. I don’t object to giving treats to dogs. I’m not ashamed to admit that my pal Buster gets no small quantity of table scraps as I cook and eat. But I don’t like taking unnecessary risks. Bones are not a part of my pal’s repertoire.    I will never say my dog ate chicken bones.                Dr. Eric Barchas

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

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

4 All-Natural Pet Safe Cleaning Products That Are Safe for Pets

4 All-Natural DIY Cleaning Products That Are Safe for Pets


With so many ‘natural’ and ‘green’ products coming to market, do you ever wonder how the old-school chemical cleaning solutions impact our pets?  We need pet safe cleaning products.

We use a strong tub and tile cleanser in our shower and on our bathroom counters.  We use bleach on the kitchen counters and in the sink.  We use a floor cleanser to keep our hardwoods looking nicely.  And we use a fabric freshener on our furniture.  But none of the products we use could be called ‘natural’ or ‘green.’

Many pet owners are becoming more conscious of our pet’s environment and want to use products that are effective and safe to be used around animals.  Making your cleaning solutions at home will also safe you money.  Here are some DIY pet safe cleaning products.

Dry Pet Shampoo

Author McCollonough Ceili learned this easy tip from her veterinarian.  She mixes baking soda and baby powder (optional, for scent) to use as a dry shampoo on her dog and cat. She lightly covers her pets, rubs it into the undercoat, and then brushes it out.  She enjoys this trick, because she doesn’t have to get her pets wet.

Neutralizing Skunk Spray

We live in a rural area and skunks appear at dusk helping us earn a PHD in quickly neutralizing the skunk odor after one of our dogs has been sprayed.

We use 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and 1 tablespoon of liquid soap; 3 ingredients available at any grocery store.  We mix these ingredients in a bucket and wash our dogs several times, avoiding the eyes, mouth and nose.  With each wash, you can tell that the skunk smell is fading.

Toilet Bowl Cleaners

Author Elisabeth Morrissey lives with cats who drink out of the toilet bowl, which inspired her to use an orange drink (e.g. Tang) to keep her toilets clean.  Elisabeth pours a quarter cup in the bowl, swishes it around, and lets it sit for an hour.  The citric acid help remove hard water stains and her cats avoid citrus, and the toilet, once they catch a whiff of the orange scent.

You can also use a 50/50 vinegar and water solution to clean toilet bowls.

Shower and Bathroom Cleaner

Derek Christian, owner of a professional cleaning service, shared this DIY shower and bathroom cleaner recipe.  Fill a bottle with 1 cup of vinegar, 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide, a teaspoon of liquid soap (optional), and water.

Hydrogen peroxide serves as a powerful germ-killing agent, but it breaks down quickly, leaving behind water and oxygen, making it safe to use around pets.

Vinegar is also effective in cleaning windows and mirrors.  And we use 50-percent vinegar and 50-percent water mixture to clean the counters after preparing our dogs’ raw meals.  The smell may be strong, but it evaporates quickly, leaving behind little to no scent.

Make sure to take the time to do your homework on ingredients to confirm that they actually are safe for pets. Our dogs and cats constantly soak up their environment through their noses, mouths and paw pad, and it is important to realize the impact our cleaning products have on pets.                          by Kimberly Gauthier

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