Dogs Age: The Effects of Aging on Dogs

The Effects of Aging on Dogs

Like us, dogs don’t stay young forever – they age. While some aspects of getting old may not be much fun, getting old is not all bad. Each stage of life has its joys, pleasures and drawbacks. Middle age for a dog, which is between 5 and 9 years of age, is a kind of gray zone during which the dog is busily engaged in the process of life without any particular physical or mental deterioration to hamper him. But somewhere towards the end of middle age, dogs start acting and feeling their age.

Signs of Old Age in Dogs

The effects of the aging process are both physical and mental. Physically, structural and functional changes occur in virtually all organ systems throughout the body, affecting vision, hearing, stamina, susceptibility to drugs and locomotor activity. Mental changes are secondary to decreasing brain size and a reduced number of brain cells. In some cases, canine Alzheimer-like changes hasten deterioration. Aging does not affect all dogs in precisely the same way. Some dog breeds, and some individuals, are more successful agers than others. Some dogs, at the age of 10 years, may have no noticeable physical or mental incapacitation. Others of the same age, however, are already handicapped by age-related internal organ failure, failing senses or orthopedic problems.

Age-Related Physical Changes/How Dogs Age


  • The Kidneys. Kidney function in dogs is often impaired in old age. With advancing age, blood flow to the kidneys decreases, there is a loss of filtering cells (nephrons), and impairment in resorptive processes in the nephrons. The result of all this is a failure of the kidneys to concentrate urine, so that older dogs with this type of deterioration will necessarily have to drink more and, consequently, produce larger amounts of more dilute urine. It is extremely important to make sure that such dogs have constant access to water so that they do not go into kidney failure. Some special kidney diets that contain low quantities of high quality protein can help sustain dogs in the borderline kidney failure.
  • The Liver. Although some tests of liver function show progressive deterioration with age, most dogs survive to a ripe old age without this loss affecting them in any noticeable way. However, in some dogs, fat accumulates in the liver, sometimes secondary to other diseases such as diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) and hyperadrenocorticism. This can result in an increased size of the liver with higher levels of liver enzymes in the blood. Liver cirrhosis is also a disease of the older dog because of its chronic and progressive nature.
  • Thyroid Glands. Hypothyroidism has been reported to be the most common endocrine disease in the dog. Most cases are breed-related, with an early onset (2 to 5 years), but in other instances, hypothyroidism does not cause problems until the dog is aged. Hypothyroidism will cause increased shedding, bilateral hair loss, a dry lusterless coat, increased susceptibility to infections, weight gain, and heat-seeking behavior, to name a few of the clinical signs.
  • Adrenal Glands. The adrenal glands are affected in various ways by aging. The glands produce hormones involved in the regulation of blood sugar, electrolytes and stress, and serve other functions. Elderly patients under continued stress can suffer adrenal exhaustion. The opposite, hyperadrenicorticism, is a relatively common endocrine disorder of middle aged and older dogs. The latter causes signs such as muscle weakness, potbelly, hair loss, increased thirst, and increased urine production. If hyperadrenocorticism is diagnosed, it can be treated.
  • Pancreas. Diabetes mellitus is usually a disease of the older dog. Complications associated with this disease include increased thirst and urine output, wasting away of muscle, and liver disease. This type of diabetes can be controlled using dietary control and insulin, if necessary.
  • Pituitary Gland. Reduced production of growth hormone is supposed to be one of the main reasons for the overall aging process. In people, but not yet in dogs, injections of a growth hormone are given to delay the aging process.
  • Musculoskeletal System. While young dogs appear strong, well-muscled and can run like the wind, older dogs usually show muscle wasting and are often handicapped by arthritis or intervertebral disc disease. Analgesics and, if indicated, various surgical procedures can bring many dogs relief.
  • Cardio-respiratory System. As you might expect, both components of the heart and lung system are affected adversely with increasing age. A particularly common cardiac disease of older dogs is one in which the margins of the heart valves thicken (endocardiosis). This condition leads to cardiac murmurs and, functionally, to cardiac insufficiency. Meanwhile, aging affects the lungs, such as thickening of the walls of the small airways, leading to reduced efficiency of gaseous exchange.
  • Special Senses. Dogs’ eyesight becomes poorer as they get older, due to age-related changes in the eye itself and in the processing of visual images centrally. The most common ocular aging change of all, lenticular sclerosis, in which the pupil of the eye appears grayish, does not significantly affect vision at all. Cataracts, however, which are also more common in elderly dogs, do impair vision, particularly when the dog is in bright light and his pupils are constricted.Dogs’ hearing deteriorates progressively with age so that many older dogs appear not to hear you when you issue commands, and they do not respond to outside sounds that formerly would have aroused them. Loss of hearing can be either peripheral, due to changes in the ear itself or, as with failure of vision, related to changes in central processing.
  • Central Nervous System. Dogs’ brain weight decreases with age primarily because of neuronal death in the cerebral hemispheres. Functionally, there is decreased production and increased destruction of central neurotransmitters. If canine cognitive dysfunction is involved, there are plaque-like accumulations of beta-amyloid in the brain.
  • Behavioral Changes. Because of general central nervous system changes mentioned above, dogs progressively slow down mentally as they age. They become less interested in things around them, less reactive to things going on, spend more time sleeping, and tend to walk whereas before they might have run. “Normal” aging changes in dogs are not usually incapacitating but merely produce a gradual decline in mental function, which can seem quite appropriate. Dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction, however, may become disoriented, have reduced interactions with people and other animals, suffer sleep disturbances, and eventually become incontinent. Affected dogs can be significantly helped by treatment with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor called seligiline [Anipryl ®]. Seligiline can produce a quick turnaround in the majority of dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction and stands to provide affected dogs with a better quality life and longer life expectancy.                             Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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


The Lifespan of Dogs: Do Small Dogs Live Longer Than Large Dogs?

Do Small Dogs Live Longer Than Large Dogs?


The Lifespan of Dogs

We want our dogs to be with us for a long and happy life; that’s all part of being a good owner. It makes sense, then, that animal lovers would have questions about their dog’s life span, especially as it relates to their particular breed. There is a lot of misinformation out there, as well as some that could be confusing for owners. When we took a look back at some of the questions our readers and clients have asked on this subject, these were the most common:

  • Do small dogs live longer than large dogs?
  • Why do smaller dogs live longer?
  • Is it true small dogs live longer than big dogs?
  • How long to small dogs live?
  • Do all small dogs outlive big dogs?

Keep reading to see a vet’s answers on these questions about your dog’s size and what it means for their lifespan.

Do small dogs live longer than large dogs?

Simply put, the answer is yes. It is widely known and accepted that small dogs live longer than large dogs. For example, a Great Dane is considered ”senior” at 7 years of age, while a small poodle or Chihuahua is barely considered middle aged at the same age.

Why do large dogs have shorter life expectancies?

This is a fascinating question, especially if you have ever owned a small mammal such as a rat that only lives to about 2 years of age. You would think that a smaller size would lead to a longer life, but this just isn’t true with small mammals. Take a look at elephants, for example; they can live as long as humans and they are huge!

Nature doesn’t always follow specific rules. In April 2013, Dr. Cornelia Kraus from the University of Göttingen in Germany published some groundbreaking research on this subject to help determine the connection between size and life expectancy in dogs. Dr. Kraus analyzed data on the age of death in over 56,000 dogs from 74 different breeds. She found that small dogs do indeed live longer, and the researchers were actually able to quantify that number. Their findings indicated that for every 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of body weight, a dog’s lifespan decreased by 1 month.

Dr. Kraus suggests that bigger breeds die more frequently from cancer than smaller dogs do. This may be due to the tendency of large breed dogs to grow faster, which may be associated with the abnormally fast cell growth seen with cancers and accelerate overall aging. Another risk factor may be that larger breed dogs could have more dangerous lifestyles than smaller breed dogs who are more “pampered”, thus increasing their risk factors.

Why do smaller dogs live longer?

The flip side of that question is that if big dogs live shorter lives, is there anything that makes small dogs more likely to live longer? Honestly, no one knows for sure. Here are some of the popular theories on the subject, though:

1. As mentioned above, it is believed that smaller dogs live longer because they grow more slowly than large breed dogs. Smaller dogs don’t have the fast division of cells that big dogs have and can be associated with cancer and accelerate aging.

2. Another theory has to do with concentrations of growth hormone. Studies suggest that small dogs have lower concentrations of the growth hormone IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor 1, in their blood than big dogs. Lower concentrations of IGF-1 shows reduced risk of age-related diseases and longer lifespans. In humans, high levels of IGF-1 have been associated with increased risk of death from heart disease and cancer.                            Dr. Debra Primovic  DVM

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


Should I Worry About Bloat in Dogs?

Bloat in dogs is a serious condition that can rapidly progress to a life-threatening gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary care.

Bloat, or gastric dilatation, occurs when the stomach distends with air, fluid or food to several times its normal size. This puts pressure on blood vessels in the abdomen — including those that go to the heart — and causes significant abdominal pain.

It’s common for the stomach to then twist on itself, rotating 180 to 360 degrees on its axis, resulting in a gastric dilatation and volvulus. The twisting compromises the blood supply to the stomach and spleen. If not addressed immediately, GDV can lead to shock and death within hours.

Is My Dog at Risk for Bloat?

GDV tends to affect deep-chested dog breeds such as Great Danes, Greyhounds and German Shepherds. Although genetics may play a role, any dog can develop bloat. Factors that can increase the risk of bloating include feeding only one meal per day, using elevated dishes and eating or drinking too fast, especially beforeexercise.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has GDV or Bloat?

Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs

Classic signs of bloat or GDV include sudden onset of abdominal distention, anxiety, distress, unproductivevomiting and pain demonstrated by panting, nipping at the belly or abdominal guarding. Other possible signs include pale gums or collapse. Not every dog presents this way so if you have any concerns, take your dog to your veterinarian immediately.

Your veterinarian will usually recommend abdominal radiographs to confirm the diagnosis. Additional tests, including a complete blood count and a serum chemistry profile are typically recommended to help evaluate your dog’s condition. Since many dogs with GDV can develop a potentially fatal heart rhythm called a ventricular premature contraction, your veterinarian may also recommend an electrocardiogram.

How Is GDV Treated?

To help stabilize your dog, your veterinarian will decompress the stomach by releasing the built-up air. This will help restore blood flow to the stomach and heart. Typically, the decompression is done by either inserting a needle into the stomach or by passing a tube down the esophagus and into the stomach. Occasionally, these methods don’t work and surgical decompression is required.

Also, intravenous catheters are usually placed in both front legs so fluids can be rapidly administered to treat shock. Medications for pain and abnormal heart rhythm may be recommended as well.

Once the dog is stabilized, the veterinarian will perform surgery to untwist the stomach, assess internal damage and help prevent a GDV from recurring. After the doctor returns the stomach to its normal position, she will examine the stomach and other internal organs, such as the spleen. For some dogs, lack of blood supply may have caused damage to the stomach and/or spleen, and a portion of the stomach or the entire spleen may need to be removed.

Finally, the stomach is tacked to the abdominal wall in a procedure called a gastropexy. This procedure is recommended even in cases where the stomach does not twist on itself but simply bloats, because once a dog has bloated, there is a high rate of recurrence in the future. Even with a gastropexy, the stomach may still intermittently distend with gas, but it’s not likely to twist again.

Survival rate is dependent on how quickly the pet is stabilized and taken to surgery. If tissue damage is noted at the time of surgery and a portion of the stomach must be removed, the mortality rate increases.

How Can I Help Reduce the Risk of Bloat in Dogs?

If you own a young, deep-chested dog at high risk for GDV, ask your veterinarian about performing a gastropexy when your dog is under anesthesia for spaying or neutering. Some clinics may be able to perform the procedure laparoscopically, which tends to be minimally invasive. While a gastropexy can’t stop the stomach from bloating in the future, it usually helps prevent the stomach from twisting on itself.

Instead of feeding your dog one meal a day, divide his food into two or more daily meals. You can also teach your dog to eat more slowly by feeding with peg bowls or placing very large rocks or bones that are too big for your dog to ingest so he has to hunt and peck around these objects to get his food. Not breeding animals with a history of GDV may also potentially decrease the risk of GDV.

Even with the preventive measures above, we still don’t know why a given dog bloats and there’s no guaranteed way to prevent this condition. If you want to know if your pet could be at risk for GDV, please have a conversation with your family veterinarian.


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

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

What Are the Symptoms and Risks of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs?

Xylitol can be found in gums, candies, and even peanut butter — and that last product poses a problem because the sweetener is deadly to dogs.

Dogs and humans share many similarities in medicine and physiology; the similarities are far more numerous than the differences.

But the devil is in the details, and when it comes to xylitol, the details make all the difference. Look up xylitol for humans and you will see long lists of uses and benefits. Look up xylitol for dogs and you will see little other than a discussion of how poisonous it is.

Xylitol is a naturally occurring product, found in corncobs and birch trees. Its use is promoted in humans because, unlike sugar, it does not raise the acidity level of the mouth. Acids in the mouth erode tooth enamel, which in turn lead to cavities. Furthermore, xylitol may impede the growth of bacteria that lead to dental problems in people. Xylitol also may be of benefit in the treatment of certain ear infections and osteoporosis. Furthermore, it is used in some forms of intravenous nutrition.

Xylitol started off as a fringe sweetener that was not widely available. That has changed dramatically in recent years. Xylitol now is a leading sweetener in sugarless gums and candies. It is being used in some commercially available chocolate bonbons. It is used to sweeten a growing number of medications. It may be found in mouthwashes and toothpastes (and even in plaque reducers for dogs). It even has found its way into a stalwart of canine pleasure: peanut butter.

For the dogs among us, this is nothing but bad news. Xylitol is horrifyingly dangerous to them. Unfortunately, dogs, in a manner similar to their human companions, like to eat sweet things. They find xylitol palatable, and they are drawn to it like moths to flames. It has earned its way onto the A-list of deadly toxins that my patients consume.

After xylitol is consumed by a dog, it is absorbed into the bloodstream. That is when things start to go wrong. Dogs’ blood sugar regulation systems mistake xylitol for real sugar in the blood. The system, mistakenly acting as if blood sugar is too high, reacts by releasing a hormone, insulin, that causes blood sugar to drop. As a result, the true sugar levels of the blood become dangerously low.

Therefore, the first symptoms of xylitol ingestion are those of low blood sugar. Dogs may become disoriented or cranky. They may stagger and lose their balance or footing. They may become mentally dull and stare into space. The symptoms may rapidly progress to seizures and coma; if not addressed, organ damage and death may occur.

Urgent veterinary intervention is needed in cases of dogs who display symptoms due to xylitol ingestion. The veterinarian’s first goal will be to normalize blood sugar with a continuous intravenous infusion of dextrose. This treatment generally is necessary for approximately 24 hours. Regular monitoring of blood sugar is necessary during this time. Decontamination (inducing vomiting, pumping the stomach, and/or administering enemas) also may be implemented.

In most cases, veterinarians also will start medications and supplements that support liver health and will recommend regular testing of the liver. This is because the bad news for dogs who have consumed xylitol does not stop with low blood sugar. Fulminant acute liver failure is possible as well, especially if lots of the stuff has been consumed.

The cause of liver failure in dogs who have ingested significant quantities of xylitol is not known.

Regardless of what causes it, liver failure is a very dangerous complication of xylitol ingestion. Symptoms may include lethargy, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal bleeding or bruising, swelling of body parts, coma, seizures, and death. Treatment involves blood product transfusions, ongoing medications and supplements to support the liver, and symptomatic treatment for vomiting and other maladies. The prognosis for dogs who develop liver failure after ingesting xylitol is highly guarded; many will not survive.

Xylitol is too dangerous to be mixed with dogs. In my opinion, people need to make a choice: You can have xylitol in your life, or you can have dogs in your life. I choose dogs, and I make it clear to all that xylitol is forbidden in my home.

If your dog consumes xylitol, time is of the essence. Call your vet to let her know you’re on the way (don’t ask for an appointment — just say you’re coming). Be sure to bring any available packaging and product information with you. Then, while you’re en route, call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control hotline at (888) 426-4435. The specialists at Poison Control have access to proprietary recipes and xylitol contents of various products. They will be able to determine your dog’s risk level as well as help the vet take the appropriate actions to help your pet.                              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

How Cat Ears Help Them Communicate and Survive

Cat’s ears are little masterpieces of delicate engineering. With 32 muscles in each, they’re multifunctional and do more than catch sounds. Ears, in conjunction with other subtle and overt body language, communicate the individual’s moods and intentions. Even the colors and patterns of ears have a function — some felines have markings on the backs of their ears that help increase their odds of escaping predators.

Facts about cats’ ears

Ears are like little radar dishes. Each moves independently of the other. They can swivel 180 degrees, and they move up and down. Watch your kitty while she sleeps. You’ll note that even while napping, her ears move, tracking noises. Her hearing is so acute she can easily pick up the slight rustling of a treat bag being opened at the other end of the house.

Cats’ range of hearing far surpasses that of humans. Although both species have a similar range for the low sounds, kitties can hear much higher-pitched noises — necessary for little hunters who rely on their ears to find squeaking rodents. Additionally, cats are much better at discriminating between tones and pitches than humans. Because their ears swivel, they are able to pinpoint the sources and locations of the subtlest of sounds. Their hearing is ideal for hunting as well as for identifying threats and friends.

Markings that mimic

Some species of wild cats have markings, called ocelli, on the backs of their ears. The contrasting colors and patterns resemble eyes, helping the felines survive in a rough environment. Mimicking eyes of larger animals, they often deceive predators into thinking the cats are large and threatening and should be avoided. Seen from behind, ocelli are also like little flags, signaling the feline’s intentions to other animals. Wild cats aren’t the only ones who have them. Although not as intense and showy as wild cats, some domestic cats, such as Savannahsand Bengals, have ocelli on their ears.

Some cats such as Brodie Lee, a Savannah have ocelli on their ears

Some cats such as Brodie Lee, a Savannah, have ocelli on their ears. Photo by Laura Lawson

Moods and intentions

Ears are perfect little communication devices — their positions and movements are reliable indicators of how felines are feeling as well as their intentions. Although obvious to cats, their meanings are often not understood by people.

Here are five ear positions, along with their meanings, that will help you understand how your cat feels:

1. Curious
Kitties who are curious about something or someone will hold their ears up and focused forward.

2. Neutral and relaxed
Next time your special kitty is relaxing check out her ears. Most likely, they are pointed up and slightly angled out from the sides of her head. Often they will swivel independently in order to identify and pinpoint the origin of a compelling noise.

3. Nervous, anxious, and fearful
When cats become nervous, they swivel each ear to help identify and determine the seriousness of the threat. Their ears will also move backward and, depending on the degree of anxiety, start to flatten toward the back of the head. Anxiety can escalate into fear. Fearful kitties will lower and flatten their ears.

4. On the offensive
Cat fights are terrible to see and hear. One way to recognize the aggressor is by the positions of the ears — they are twisted so that the backs of the ears are seen from the front. Depending on the intensity of the aggression, they sometimes angle out at varying degrees from the sides of the head.

5. On the defensive
Cats who are facing an offensively aggressive feline sometimes flatten their ears while holding them to the sides of the head. Another defensive position is to lay them flat against the back of the head. This flattened position minimizes ears from being damaged from the opponent’s teeth and claws. Kitties who display their ears folded sideways and down would rather avoid the situation but, if cornered and out of options, will fight.

Although ears are strong mood barometers, they don’t work alone — the whole cat tells the story. Ears along with whiskers, eyes, fur, vocalizations, and body positions help you understand your cat’s feelings and intentions.

Cats use their ears to tell us — and other cats — about their moods and intentions. Here’s how.                               Marilyn Krieger

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


CPR for Dogs

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, CPR, for Dogs

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR, is a combination of chest compression andartificial respiration. It is normally used when you cannot feel or hear the dog’s heart beat. Once the dog stops breathing the heart will go into cardiac arrest and cease beating.

Before performing this procedure please keep in mind that Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is hazardous and can cause physical complications or fatal damage if performed on a healthy dog. It should only be performed when necessary.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation for puppies/ dogs less than 30 pounds (14 kg):

  1. Lay the dog on a flat surface with his/her right side against the surface.
  2. Cup your palms and hold the dog with one palm on either side above the heart region. (You can also place your thumb on one side of his chest and keep the fingers on the other side.)
  3. Compress the chest for one inch to one-quarter or one-third the width of the chest for a count of one and then let go for a count of one. Carry on at a rate of 100 compressions in a minute.
  4. If only one person is available, breathe into the dog’s nose once for every five compressions that are done. If two persons are available, give artificial respiration once every two or three compressions are done.
  5. Continue with the CPR and artificial respiration until the dog begins breathing on its own and the pulse becomes steady.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation for medium/large dogs weighing more than 30 lb (14 kg):

  1. Lay the dog on a flat surface with his/her right side against the surface. (You will need to stand towards the dog’s back.)
  2. Put one of your palms on the dog’s rib cage, near the heart region, and put your other palm on top of it.
  3. Without bending both the elbows, press the rib cage in a downward motion.
  4. Compress the chest for one-quarter to one-third the width of the chest for a count of one and then let go for a count of one. Carry on at a rate of 80 compressions per minute.
  5. Close the muzzle with your hand before beginning artificial respiration. If only one person is available, breathe into the dog’s nose once for every five compressions that are done. If two persons are available, give artificial respiration once for every two compressions are done.
  6. Continue performing CPR until the dog begins to breathe and has a steady pulse.
  7. If the dog does not show any signs of improvement after 10 minutes of CPR, you can stop as it has not proven successful.

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


Pain Relief for Dogs

Controlling your dog’s pain is essential to his overall well-being. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are a class of drugs commonly used to control pain and inflammation in dogs. NSAIDs help many dogs lead more comfortable lives.

What are NSAIDs?

NSAIDs help to control signs of arthritis, including inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and joint pain. Inflammation—the body’s response to irritation or injury—is characterized by redness, warmth, swelling, and pain. NSAIDs work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, chemicals produced by the body that cause inflammation. Some NSAIDs may also be used to control the pain and inflammation following surgery.
Your veterinarian may prescribe an NSAID to treat the pain of osteoarthritis in your dog or to control pain following a surgical procedure.

All NSAIDs approved for oral use in dogs and cats come with a Client Information Sheet (also known as the Information for Dog (Cat) Owner Sheet) that describes the drug’s side effects. Dog and cat owners should ask veterinarians for the Client Information Sheet when an NSAID is prescribed. These Client Information Sheets provide the pet owner with important information in a user-friendly manner regarding what can be expected from use of the drug, potential side effects, and the need to seek veterinary attention if problems occur. By accompanying each NSAID prescription with an Information for Dog Owner Sheet, a handy reference of valuable safety information and drug company contact information is readily available to the owner.

Veterinary NSAIDs approved for use in dogs:

ETOGESIC (etodolac) – not currently marketed
RIMADYL (carprofen)
METACAM (meloxicam)
DERAMAXX (deracoxib)
PREVICOX (firocoxib)
ZUBRIN (tepoxalin) – not currently marketed
NOVOCOX (carprofen)
VETPROFEN (carprofen)
CARPRIEVE (carprofen)
QUELLIN (carprofen)
OROCAM (meloxicam)
LOXICOM (meloxicam)
MELOXIDYL (meloxicam)
In the United States, there is one NSAID approved for up to 3 days use in cats: ONSIOR (robenacoxib) tablets

What should you discuss with your veterinarian?

NSAIDs offer pain relief and improved quality of life to many dogs.

However, before giving an NSAID, or any drug, you should first talk to your veterinarian.

You should discuss:

  • what the NSAID is being prescribed for
  • how much to give
  • how long to give it
  • possible side effects
  • what to avoid while your dog is taking an NSAID
  • what tests are needed before giving an NSAID to your dog
  • how often should your dog be re-examined
  • your dog’s previous medical history and any previous drug reactions
  • all medications and products your dog currently receives

What should you know before giving your dog an NSAID?

  • Never give aspirin or corticosteroids along with an NSAID to your dog.
  • NSAIDs should be approached cautiously in dogs with kidney, liver, heart and intestinal problems.
  • Never give your dog an NSAID unless directed by your veterinarian.
  • Don’t assume an NSAID for one dog is safe to give to another dog.
  • Always consult your veterinarian before using any medication in your pet.
  • Only give the NSAID as prescribed by your veterinarian. Do not increase the dose, the frequency, or the length of time you use the drug unless first discussing this with your veterinarian.

What side effects should you watch for?

Most NSAID-side effects are mild, but some can be serious, including death in rare situations. Common side effects seen with the use of NSAIDs in dogs may affect the kidneys, liver, and gastrointestinal tract and may include:

  • Not eating or eating less
  • Lethargy, depression, changes in behavior
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, black tarry-colored stool
  • Yellowing of gums, skin, or the whites of the eyes
  • Change in drinking
  • Changes in skin (scabs, redness, or scratching)

What to do?

If you suspect a possible side effect to an NSAID, STOP giving the drug to your dog and call your veterinarian immediately!

When Giving Your Best Friend an NSAID, Remember these Signs:

  • Behavior Changes
  • Eating Less
  • Skin Redness, Scabs
  • Tarry Stool/Diarrhea/Vomiting
  • STOP the Drug & Call Your Veterinarian              (Source: FDA)

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 Potty Train a Puppy

It is normal for puppies to have “accidents.” In fact, soiling accidents are unavoidable in the early days of potty training, even if you keep a constant eye on your puppy. The chances are that several soiling accidents will occur inside your home before your puppy gets a handle on controlling his bodily functions. What’s most important is that you learn how to handle these situations correctly, since improper disciplinary actions can result in bad habits.

It is common for first-time puppy owners to make mistakes in handling accidents, but you must take into consideration that puppies are not like human beings. Puppies do not have the capacity of linking the long-term nature of cause and effect. It is futile to punish a puppy for an incident that occurred hours, or even a few minutes ago. Doing this will only confuse and frighten the puppy, which can place a strain on the bond that you are trying to create with your puppy. This is why trainers advise owners to keep their puppies crated until they have been trained to wait until they are taken outside to relieve themselves.

Acting Without Overreacting/Potty Training a Puppy

Punishments should always be within reason and should not be severe, no matter how messy the accident was. It is also not wise to follow advice regarding extreme but effective punishments. While harsh punishments may work with some dogs, they sometimes border on the absurd and inhumane. Examples of these so-called “effective punishments” are rubbing the nose of the puppy into his “mess,” beating the puppy, or locking the puppy up in a dark, enclosed space. These kinds of punishments are simply acts of cruelty; they are not the right way to raise a puppy. Your puppy will grow up fearing and mistrusting you.

An appropriate reprimand must be given to the puppy as soon as you see that the puppy is eliminating inside the house or is about to. Stop the puppy from eliminating by reprimanding him in a firm and loud voice. A quick “No!” or “Stop!” should do the trick.

Another effective way to stop him would be to startle him with a loud noise, causing him to immediately stop what he is doing. You might also take hold of the scruff of his neck and give him a quick shake, causing him to stop what he is doing and turn his attention to you. In all of these instances, follow by taking him outside immediately so he can finish eliminating and reward him with positive reinforcement once he is done. Whether you use verbal praise, petting, or a training treat, you want your puppy to associate going outside to eliminate with good responses form you.

To avoid accidents, you must always keep an eye on your puppy. Always be on the lookout for signs that your puppy is about to eliminate. These signs include sniffing at the floor, scratching at the door, whining, or looking uncomfortable.

Whenever an accident does happen, and it will happen, do not blame the puppy immediately. Remember, that it is your responsibility to keep a constant eye on the puppy, and when you cannot do this you will need to place the puppy in his crate. Before you begin cleaning the mess, make sure that the puppy is not in the room so that he cannot see you cleaning the mess. This may cause him to associate soiling on the floor with your willingness to clean it, giving him no incentive to discontinue the behavior.

Getting Rid of the Evidence

Cleaning up thoroughly after an accident is very important because a puppy has a very keen sense of smell and will return to the spot where he previously eliminated unless all of the scent is removed. Using common cleaning products like soap or detergent powder simply is not enough. To completely eliminate the smell, it is best to use chemical cleaning products and a specially formulated odor eliminator. If you did not buy a pet formulated odor eliminator before bringing the puppy home, now would be a good time to get one. After you have cleaned, keep the puppy away from the newly cleaned area so that he does not ingest or come into contact with the chemical cleaning products.  Success with housebreaking a puppy!

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

Diseases People Can Catch from Dogs and Cats: Zoonotic Diseases

There’s no denying the benefits of including dogs and cats in your life, but as is true with all things, there are downsides-zoonotic diseases.

One that is often overlooked is the possibility of catching a disease from your pet: a zoonotic disease.   While the chance of this occurring is quite low, it only makes sense for owners to be aware of diseases that can be passed from dogs and cats to people. Here are a few of the more common zoonotic diseases as described by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cat-scratch Disease

Cat-scratch disease is a bacterial disease that people may get after being bitten or scratched by a cat. About 40% of cats carry the bacteria at some time in their lives, although kittens younger than 1 year of age are more likely to have it. Most cats with this infection show no signs of illness.

People who are bitten or scratched by an affected cat may develop a mild infection 3-14 days later at the site of the wound. The infection may worsen and cause fever, headache, poor appetite, and exhaustion. Later, the person’s lymph nodes closest to the original scratch or bite can become swollen, tender, or painful. Seek medical attention if you believe you have cat-scratch disease.


Giardia is a parasite that causes diarrhea in animals and people. Giardia is transmitted to animals and people through food or water contaminated with stool (poop).

Symptoms for animals and people include diarrhea, greasy stools, and dehydration. People can also have abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms can last 1-2 weeks.


Dog and cat hookworms are tiny worms that can spread through contact with contaminated soil or sand. Pets can also become infected with hookworms through accidentally ingesting the parasite from the environment or through their mother’s milk or colostrum. Hookworm infections in pets can cause anemia, diarrhea, and weight loss. Severe infections can be fatal.

People become infected with hookworms while walking barefoot, kneeling, or sitting on ground contaminated with stool of infected animals. Hookworm larvae enter the top layers of skin and cause an itchy reaction called cutaneous larva migrans. A red squiggly line may appear where the larvae have migrated under the skin. Symptoms usually resolve without medical treatment in 4-6 weeks.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of people and animals that is transmitted through contaminated water and urine or other body fluids from an infected animal. It is difficult to detect early stages of leptospirosis in animals, but the disease can lead to kidney and liver failure if left untreated.

People who become infected with leptospirosis might not have any signs of the disease. Others will have nonspecific flu-like signs within 2-7 days after exposure. These symptoms usually resolve without medical treatment, but can reappear and lead to more severe disease.

MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus)

Staphylococcus aureus is a common type of bacteria that is normally found on the skin of people and animals. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is the same bacterium that has become resistant to some antibiotics. Dogs, cats and other animals often can carry MRSA without being sick, but MRSA can cause a variety of infections, including of the skin, respiratory tract, and urinary tract.

MRSA can be transmitted back and forth between people and animals through direct contact. In people, MRSA most often causes skin infections that can range from mild to severe. If left untreated, MRSA can spread to the bloodstream or lungs and cause life-threatening infections.


Ringworm is a condition caused by a fungus that can infect skin, hair, and nails of both people and animals. Ringworm is passed from animals to people through direct contact with an infected animal’s skin or hair. Cats and dogs infected with ringworm typically have small areas of hair loss and may have scaly or crusty skin; but some pets carrying ringworm have no signs of infection at all. Young animals are most commonly affected.

Ringworm infections in people can appear on almost any area of the body. These infections are usually itchy. Redness, scaling, cracking of the skin, or a ring-shaped rash may occur. If the infection involves the scalp or beard, hair may fall out. Infected nails become discolored or thick and may possibly crumble.


Toxocara roundworms cause a parasitic disease known as toxocariasis. Cats, dogs, and people can become infected by swallowing roundworm eggs from the environment. Pets can also become infected as youngsters through their mother’s milk or while in utero. Infected puppies and kittens usually do not seem very sick. Those that do may have mild diarrhea, dehydration, rough coat, and a pot-bellied appearance.

In people, children are most often affected with roundworm.

There are two forms of the disease in people: ocular larva migrans and visceral larva migrans. Ocular larva migrans happens when the larvae invade the retina (tissue in the eye) and cause inflammation, scarring, and possibly blindness. Visceral larva migrans occurs when the larvae invade parts of the body, such as the liver, lung, or central nervous system.


Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that can spread to people and animals through contaminated soil, water, or meat, and from contact with stool from an infected cat. Cats are the main source of infection to other animals but rarely appear sick.

Most healthy people who become infected with Toxoplasma show no signs or symptoms. However, pregnant women and people who have weakened immune systems may be at risk for serious health complications.

Some of the information presented here was reworded for the sake of simplicity. Check out the CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website for more information.                         by 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