Why you shouldn’t shave your double-coated dog fur

Poor, shaved Husky

Double coated dog fur refers to the animals that, like Huskies, have two layers of fur. The first, or undercoat, are the fine, fluffy hairs that are short and crimp (closest to the skin). It’s the fur that sheds; light and soft. This layer is excellent at trapping air and insulating the dog. Essentially it keeps them warm in the winter, and cool in the summer

The topcoat is made up of tougher guard hairs that don’t shed, and protect your pet from the sun’s harmful rays and bug bites. It actually insulates them from the heat. What this means is: do not shave your double coated dog fur. It’s a mistake to think you’re helping your animal stay cool, particularly in summer, when evolution has provided them exactly what they need to survive. By stripping them of their natural ability to heat and cool themselves, you could be doing more harm than good.

A key piece of understanding in this matter is that, unlike humans; dogs do not cool themselves through their skin. At most, it is only the pads of their paws that sweat. Their main mode of cooling comes from panting.

Some other common reasons folks shave their doubled coated dogs are the thinking that the animal will stop shedding. Pooches with undercoats shed, no two ways about it. But even after a shave, while the hair may be shorter, it can still shed.

Another is, “it’ll always grow back”. Sometimes it will, other times it won’t. The older the pooch is, the less likely it is that the topcoat of guard hairs will grow back. This leaves them with the undercoat, giving them a patchy, scruffy look. It can alter their coat for the rest of the dog’s life. Not only does it look bad, but you can end up having to shave the hair continuously from then on and once again, you strip them of their natural ability to protect themselves.

In conclusion, when you shave a double coated dog, you may irreparably impair their ability to properly heat/cool themselves and protect their skin. The best way to keep this kind of dog cool and comfortable is to regularly bathe and brush them. The only reason a person might need to shave their double coated dog fur is if the hair is so matted, it’s the only option.                    By: Kaitlin Krhounek

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 University Study Proves The Intelligence of Dogs

The next time you wonder if your dog understands you,  think about this article! – Diana Davidson, WestsideDogNanny

In a recent study, published in Springer’s journal, Animal Cognition  concluded:

“Dogs can learn, retain and replay actions taught by humans after a short delay.

The research, conducted by Claudia Fugazza and Adám Miklósi, from …University in Hungary,…. provides the first evidence of dogs’ cognitive ability to both encode and recall actions.

The researchers said:

……Domestic dogs….learn by observing humans and are easily influenced by humans in learning situations. 

Living in human social groups may have favored their ability to learn from humans……

Eight adult pet dogs were trained by their owners with the ‘Do as I do’ method and then made to wait for short intervals (5-30 seconds) before they were allowed to copy the observed human action, for example walk around a bucket or ring a bell…………..

The test (results) show that dogs are able to reproduce familiar actions and novel actions after different delays… as long as ten minutes; novel tasks after a delay of one minute.

This ability was seen in different conditions, even if they were distracted by different activities during the interval.

The authors concluded: “The ability to encode and recall an action after a delay implies that the dogs have a mental representation of the human demonstration. ..(and) suggests the presence of a specific type of long-term memory in dogs.

This would be so-called ‘declarative memory,’ which refers to memories which can be consciously recalled, such as facts or knowledge.”  END  To read the article in full  ..visit sciencedaily.com

I believe that dogs have the cognitive ability to  recall and complete tasks as discussed by the researchers…   

I base this on years of observing dogs in all sorts of familiar and unfamiliar surroundings, under happy and stressful conditions.

Time and again they would adapt,  perform tasks without prodding, helping their guardians who have physical challenges and enjoying life as well

The point is that this study is just another bit of evidence supporting how special our dogs are

What do you think?

While you give that some thought we are being summoned by our “special 3″… they are ready for park time and treats.. so dutifully off we go…makes me wonder who is ‘teaching’ who in our pack ? 🙂

till next time

MR Bruno

Adopt a Dog- Save a SPECIAL Life

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

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

310 919 9372

Are You Over Vaccinating Your Dog?

If anyone had told Kris Christine 10 years ago that she would spearhead one of the most important scientific research projects ever to impact canine health, the suggestion would have been met with disbelief. The Alna, Maine, resident was not a veterinarian or a scientist. She was simply a dog lover — a noble pastime, but hardly one that immersed her in the world of cutting-edge canine research.

That all changed in the fall of 2003, however, when her then 6-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever, Meadow, received his rabies vaccine. Although the vaccine was labeled as a three-year inoculation, Maine law required that dogs receive the rabies booster every two years. Christine, a former personal assistant to Maine’s attorney general, complied — with tragic results. Shortly after receiving his rabies booster, Meadow developed an aggressive mast cell tumor at the injection site. Although the veterinarian couldn’t say definitively that the vaccine caused the tumor, the syringe puncture from Meadow’s rabies vaccination was visible in the center of the tumor.

Taking action vaccinating your dog

As Christine watched the cancer spread throughout Meadow’s body, she knew she had to take action to try to protect other dogs from unnecessary vaccinations, risking adverse reactions. In the U.S., public health authorities in each state — not the owner or the veterinarian — mandate how often dogs must receive rabies boosters. These laws are based in part on studies conducted in compliance with United States Department of Agriculture vaccine licensing guidelines.

In 2004, Christine successfully petitioned the state of Maine to change its rabies vaccination requirement to every three years. In 2005, she convinced them to add a medical exemption clause to the law, excusing ill dogs from rabies vaccination.

While poring over the research, Christine discovered a 1992 French study suggesting that the rabies vaccine provided immunity in dogs for five years — four years longer than the one-year vaccines and two years longer than the three-year licensed vaccines marketed in the United States. Because it was a French study, however, it’s not recognized in the United States.

Rabies is the only vaccine for which the USDA requires a minimum duration of immunity study. Every rabies vaccine on the market must undergo such a study showing that it provides immunity for a specific period of time. “I knew that if we hoped to change the laws, we needed to conduct a study that met these USDA criteria,” Christine says.

Spearheading new research

To facilitate such a study, Christine turned to two vaccine researchers — W. Jean Dodds, D.V.M., of Hemopet Animal Blood Bank in Garden Grove, Calif., and Ronald Schultz, Ph.D., professor and chair of the department of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison.

The irony regarding minimum duration of immunity studies, according to Schultz, is that most one-year and three-year rabies vaccines are identical: the only difference is the product label. A few contain slightly different ingredients, but companies are reluctant to provide this information. Unlike human vaccines, veterinary vaccine components are proprietary. But the efficacy and duration of immunity are the same.
Dodds and Schultz volunteered their time and expertise to design and complete the study. Christine registered the newly formed entity, the Rabies Challenge Fund, as a 501(c)3 charitable organization, and in November 2007, the fund (www.rabieschallengefund.org) launched with the purpose of studying the duration of immunity conveyed by the rabies vaccine.

“A product labeled as a one-year rabies vaccine must be administered annually by law, even if it’s identical to the three-year vaccine,” Schultz says.

Schultz and his colleagues at the Rabies Challenge Fund have successfully managed to convince every state to adopt a three-year rabies vaccination policy. He notes that all dog owners should check their local regulations, however, since municipalities in some states have the right to set rabies laws that are stricter — but not more lenient — than state policies.

But Christine believes that decreasing rabies vaccine frequency from annually to every three years is not good enough. “Vaccines are not benign substances,” Christine says. “They are potent biologic drugs, and no dog should be unnecessarily exposed to them.”

Adverse reactions to vaccinating your dog

Underreporting vaccine reactions in pets is a significant problem, and the adverse reports are generally those reactions seen within a few days of vaccination, not the longer-term adverse effects.

According to an article published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Frana, Clough, Gatewood, Rupprecht. Postmarketing surveillance of rabies vaccines for dogs to evaluate safety and efficacy. 2008; 232, 7), the USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics “received 246 adverse event reports for dogs in which a rabies vaccine was identified as one of the products administered” between April 1, 2004, and March 31, 2007.

Of those reports, the CVB categorized 217 as possibly related to at least one of the vaccines administered. The reactions reported included vomiting, facial swelling, injection site swelling or lump, lethargy, urticaria (hives), hair loss, autoimmune disorders, and death. About 72 percent of these dogs had received other vaccines or drugs in addition to the rabies vaccine, so it was not possible to definitively know if the rabies vaccine was the culprit.

The CVB also asked rabies vaccine manufacturers to submit their own adverse event report summaries. During the three-year period reviewed in the report, there were approximately 10,000 adverse event reports for all animals. About 65 percent of the reports involved dogs.

“Rabies vaccines are the most common group of biological products identified in adverse event reports received by the CVB,” the report states.

“Rabies vaccines are not more dangerous, but they do cause more adverse reactions in dogs because they are killed, adjuvanted products,” Schultz says.

Adjuvanted vaccines include substances called adjuvants that are specifically intended to enhance the immune response to killed, inactivated vaccines. More adverse reactions can occur with adjuvanted vaccines because the immune stimulants are often highly reactive to tissues, which is their purpose. Canine distemper and parvovirus vaccines are live and nonadjuvanted, and cause fewer adverse reactions, according to Schultz.

Changing vaccine requirements

The Rabies Challenge Fund must follow strict USDA guidelines for its results to be considered valid. The most controversial guideline involves “challenging” the study dogs — infecting them with the rabies virus — to establish their immunity rather than using titer tests. A titer test is a simple blood test used to check the strength of a dog’s immune defense to rabies by measuring his serum antibody titers. “Although we have repeatedly explained to the USDA the efficacy of titer tests and implored them to allow us to use this method, they continue to deny it as a valid proof of immunity in canine rabies studies,” Schultz says.

In order to minimize the number of rabies vaccines dogs must receive, the Rabies Challenge Fund hopes to prove the hypothesis that vaccinated dogs remain immune to rabies for five or seven years. “The dogs in the French study retained immunity five years after vaccination, so I believe we will have success,” Schultz says. “But although scientists have feelings, they must base their findings on the research results.”

Funding and lobbying for change

“There’s no financial incentive for vaccine manufacturers to pay for studies proving their products last longer than three years,” Christine says. She says it is the public, insisting on change, that is financing the study. “These are people who do not want to see innocent dogs suffer or die unnecessarily due to outdated vaccine protocols.”

Christine says that all the money donated, except for IRS fees and directors’ insurance, goes directly to fund the studies.

In addition to demonstrating that current rabies laws promote overvaccination of protected dogs, the Rabies Challenge Fund hopes to establish the efficacy of titer tests in measuring immunity so they can be used in lieu of rabies vaccines.

Schultz says that he receives a lot of inquiries from dog owners who want to titer their dogs for rabies instead of vaccinating them. “I have to tell them that there is no state in the U.S. that will allow titers in lieu of vaccination,” he says. “That’s something we’d like to change.”

The Rabies Challenge Fund would also like to change the public fear that surrounds rabies. “Right now, if a dog bites someone three weeks beyond the three-year vaccine period, that dog is considered nonvaccinated and a threat to public health,” Christine says. “That’s absurd, because a dog’s immunity to disease does not drop to zero three weeks beyond the three-year vaccine period any more than a human’s immunity to tetanus vanishes three weeks after he is due for a tetanus booster.”

He concedes, however, that such proof might be met by resistance from many of his own colleagues. “Vaccination programs get dogs in the door, but the annual vet visit should focus on wellness exams rather than just vaccines,” he says. New findings might be slow to change laws, however, considering the number of years it took for every state in the U.S. to adopt three-year rabies revaccination intervals. In some of those states, individual cities and counties still have more restrictive laws (e.g., yearly or biennial revaccination laws).The ultimate goal is to prove that the rabies vaccine protects dogs for at least seven years. “Establishing proof of seven years’ duration of immunity will give a lot of confidence from a public health standpoint that a dog who has received a couple of doses of vaccine will not be a threat again for his entire life,” Schultz says.

Law versus science

Christine’s relentless campaign is about honoring the memory of Meadow and the dogs that came before him. “I have been blessed all of my life to care for amazing dogs who loved my family unconditionally,” she says. “Dogs contribute so much to our lives. This is a very small way that I can repay them for what they have given me.”

Schultz takes a more scientific outlook. “Rabies is the only vaccine you’re legally required to give,” he says. He goes on to say that even if the challenge studies show that protection lasts for a given number of years, the revaccination interval will be determined by regulatory authorities, not scientists. “Hopefully, one day the law will catch up with the science,” he says.

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


‘Fixing’ Your Dog: It’s Not a Dent, Dog Behavior Training May Help

“Is he fixable?” my client asks. She is a nice, older woman and “he” is Samson, a medium-sized, brown dog with deep black eyeliner and a jet black nose. Samson is in my office because he growls at people that he doesn’t know. Last week, he bit a delivery man.

“Nope,” I say. “He is a dog, not a broken stereo. He can get better, a lot better, but he will always have the predisposition toward this behavior.”

Samson’s owner asked the question that I hear each day, every day. She wants to know if her dog is “fixable.” Dogs are living, breathing beings with their own minds. They make their own decisions. They are not dents in a car that can just be fixed. They are not robots. Can you 100% guarantee your behavior tomorrow? Are you fixable?

Behavior disorders are not like orthopedic disorders, at least not exactly. Many orthopedic disorders are fixable. For example, my dog Sweetie who has since passed on had osteoarthritis due to hip dysplasia. We got her two new hips. She was fixed. You can find out more about Sweetie’s surgery and all that we went through with her orthopedic problems here.

Behavioral disorders are much like dermatologic disorders. The dogs are treated and often get better, but there is always the chance of relapse. For me, this concept is not so difficult to understand. I have emotional baggage. Unless you were raised in that perfect family that you see on T.V., you have some too. It has taken my adult life to work through some of that baggage, but a dog who can’t speak English and has the brain power of a one year old child should just fix his emotional baggage? This is a completely unrealistic expectation. Can we cut the dog a break?

I further explained to Samson’s Mom that by modifying her expectation of her pet, she would be better able to help him. If she can wrap her head around what her dog can achieve, she will most likely reach that goal. If she is stuck with her head in the clouds, it will be harder for her to be successful.

What is a realistic expectation for Samson? Some short-term goals (reachable in 2 months or so with work) would be for him to stop growling at unfamiliar people about 50-75 percent of the time when his owner is holding his leash and working with him.

Unrealistic goals for the next two months include:

  1. Allowing Samson to be loose with the owner’s grandkids or any unfamiliar people.
  2. Allowing Samson to be at the door when the owner receives a package or people come over.
  3. Going to the dog park.
  4. Letting people pet Samson when on a walk.

What happens after two months? If Samson is doing well, we can build on his plan so that we can reach higher goals like meeting new people in the house or being loose when a delivery comes. What is interesting is that owners often accept the first level goal and don’t push to the 2nd level goal.

What I mean is that when I see dogs like Samson for a recheck, the owners are often perfectly happy and don’t push to higher goals of having the dog off leash with people that he doesn’t know. It isn’t me. In many cases, I would be happy to help them go further. I think that owners often realize that their dog is happier without all that stress.  Their dog doesn’t want to meet new people. They also feel happier themselves. They have good control over their dog so they are less stressed.

Their dog isn’t fixed, but he is safe and happy. And that is enough.

Dr. Lisa Radosta

Do Animals Dream?

Do you ever watch your dog sleeping and suddenly he is running a race in his sleep?  His legs look as though they are running really fast.  Here is an interesting article about our dogs dreaming.–Diana Davidson, Westside Dog Nanny.

My adopted dog, Roxy, survived in a drainage ditch during the wettest and coldest time of the year with compound fractures of both wrists (bones protruding through open wounds), in coyote infested territory for 5 ½ weeks. Most nights, while fast asleep, she vocalizes; from pathetic whimpers to ferocious protective growls to unidentifiable, nondescript sounds. Is she dreaming of those lonely, fearful nights in the ditch? Is she longing for her former life? Is she dreaming at all? I think all of the above but she can’t confirm it for me. So I sought to investigate the possibility that animals dream. This data is far from scientifically defensible but I think worthy of speculation.

Dr. Stanley Coren, Dream Researcher

Dr. Stanley Coren, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, confirms that “at the structural level, the brains of dogs are similar to those of humans.” He also notes that during sleep their brain wave patterns are similar to that of people. These electrical stages of activity are consistent with the idea of dreaming in dogs.

His research is corroborated by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who have very suggestive evidence that sleeping rats dream. Rats that were subjected to a complex maze had the same electrical brain recordings during the actual maze training as they did while asleep, presumably dreaming of the maze activity. The dreams waves were so specific that researchers could identify the exact point in the maze that the rats were dreaming about.

The Dog’s Dreaming Brain

The dog brain is even more complex than the rat brain, so it is not a far leap to assume that dogs also dream. In fact, studies have shown that dogs exhibited body movement only at brain wave stages associated with dreaming. “Dreaming Springer Spaniels flushed imaginary birds, while Doberman Pinchers picked fights with dream burglars.”

Dr. Coren’s Observations on Dog Dreams

“It is really quite easy to determine when your dog is dreaming without resorting to brain surgery or electrical recordings. All that you have to do is to watch him from the time he starts to doze off. As the dog’s sleep becomes deeper, his breathing will become more regular. After a period of about 20 minutes, for an average-sized dog, his first dream should start. You will recognize the change because his breathing will become shallow and irregular. There may be odd muscle twitches, and you can even see the dog’s eyes moving behind its closed lids if you look closely enough. The eyes are moving because the dog is actually looking at the dream images as if they were real images of the world. These eye movements are most characteristic of dreaming sleep. When human beings are awakened during this rapid eye movement or REM sleep phase, they virtually always report that they were dreaming.”

Cat Dreams

It appears cats also dream and act out wake behaviors. Researchers have witnessed “sleepwalking cats walking, swatting their forepaws, even pouncing on imaginary prey.”

Do Our Pets Dream?

Personally, I think so. The scientist in me has doubts about the quality of the present research and extrapolation to various animal species. However, Roxy experiences something most nights that is undeniable. Your thoughts are welcome.

Dr. Ken Tudor

Best Quotes about Animals and People

Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

— Anatole France

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.

— Roger Caras

I have felt cats rubbing their faces against mine and touching my cheek with claws carefully sheathed. These things, to me, are expressions of love.

— James Herriot

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent.

— Milan Kundera

When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.

— William Shakespeare (Henry V)

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

— Mahatma Gandhi

I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.

— Abraham Lincoln

The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.

— Henry Beston (The Outermost House)

He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.

— Immanuel Kant

Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.

— A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh)

All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.

— Samuel Butler

If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.

— James Herriot

The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.

— Samuel Butler

Dog Safety: Camping with Dog

 Some of these dog safety tips you will be familiar with but they are especially important when camping with dog and spending time outdoors.

1-While I am not a big fan of vaccinations you should check to see if there are any proof of vaccination requirements at the campgrounds you plan to visit or at any state or national border crossings. Typically a veterinarian issues pet health certificate will suffice if required

Make sure that dogs are permitted at the campgrounds you plan to visit . The National Park System has varying restrictions on access to campgrounds and trails that you must be aware of..

You can search for campgrounds nationwide in the U.S.   by Clicking Here  or visithttp://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm

2- Make sure that you have an ample supply of the kibble that you use and any supplements or meds that you give Fido daily.

We  carry small bags of Great Life Kibble http://www.doctorsfinest.com/?click=865, supplements and enzymes that make our crew a happy pack 🙂 A change of diet and routine on a sudden basis can be disconcerting to Fido and produce some unwelcome intestinal consequences.



 It’s fun to take Fido boating but we recommend a  life jacket for safety sake

3-Make sure to have a harness or equally safe restraint so that Fido can ride in the 
back seat. Dogs unsecured can easily be propelled thru a window in the case of an impact. The most dangerous place for a dog to be is on your lap or in the back of a pickup with a leash. It can be a virtual death sentence if an accident  or sharp turn is necessary. Just don’t do it

4- If your camping trip involves any boating or water sports, make sure that you dog 
has a life jacket NOT EVERY DOG CAN SWIM ..in fact some don’t at all ! In the case of an emergency even a good swimmer may need life saving protection

5- Jot down the phone number of an emergency 24 hr veterinary clinic in every locale that you will be visiting… it may take a few minutes but sometimes the that can be the difference between life and no life after an accident or incident.  We hear of away 
from home emergencies on a regular basis… knowing what to do and WHERE to go 
can be life saving

6- If Fido is prone to run off and explore make sure that you keep him in harness . 
If absolutely necessary have a crate for short period use for HIS safety. And of course, NEVER lock your dog in a car for any amount of time. Even a few minutes can be fatal from heatstroke

7-Make sure that Fido does not eat strange and exotic things he finds in the brush… 
this includes cigarette butts and thrown away food which may be toxic or cause intestinal distress

8-Make sure to have a First Aid Kit. You may have this list from a previous issue
but just  in case here it is again

 First Aid Kit– Make sure to have a basic first aid kit in the car that includes:

  • Bandages such as gauze pads, cotton gauze, and masking tape.
  • Hydrogen peroxide and anti-bacterial ointment
  • Diarrhea medication (over the counter options available at many pet shops)…ask your vet
  • Scissors, tweezers
  • Eyedroppers for dispensing liquid meds.
  • Syrup of ipecac to induce vomiting in the case of poisoning. Ask your vet for instructions
  • Activated charcoal capsules kelps with poisoning, diarrhea and flatulence
  • Blankets an towels
  • Call your hotel/motel/lodge for dangers such as snakes, poison plants or extreme temps
  • Phone number for your vet and nearby emergency veterinary hospital


7- NEVER leave you dog alone at any campground or place that you visit

9- A word about Microchips-  If Fido is microchipped, is the contact information correct? I always make certain that every harness has its own tag with 2 current cell phone numbers…in case something happens to me when we are out walking…our 
dogs are small and always close..but even small dogs need protection in the event of 
the unexpected.

OK… now that you are well prepared… pack in advance and double check that you 
have everything..then get in the car and hit the road…maybe we’ll see ya’  at the 
next stop !

till next time

MR Bruno

Adopt a Dog- Take him on a Camping Trip !

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 Feed a Sick Dog

What do you think of the saying, “Starve a fever; feed a cold”? On one level it makes sense. The fever, in this case, is indicative of an infection that is provoking a generalized immune response. Fighting the infection needs to be the body’s focus, not obtaining, digesting, and absorbing food, all of which requires the expenditure of energy and other resources. On the other hand, the fever itself increases the dog’s caloric and other nutritional requirements, so given enough time, not eating is going to take a toll on the body’s ability to mount an effective immune response.

When I’m treating a dog who has a fever I’ll respect his desire not to eat for several days as long as he has been on a good plane of nutrition previously. Dogs can go for a few days without food and avoid developing adverse biochemical and physiological effects (unlike cats). I also expect to start making inroads against whatever is causing the dog’s fever within that time, so hopefully the dog will start feeling better and eating on his own. If, however, that does not happen, we eventually reach the point when directly addressing the dog’s poor appetite becomes necessary.

I usually try to steer clear of medications that have the sole purpose of bringing down a dog’s temperatures unless it is so high that it becomes dangerous in and of itself. Fevers serve a purpose. Some parts of the immune system work better at higher temperatures so a fever can increase the chances that the dog’s immune system will be able to fight off invading microorganisms. But after a dog has not been eating for a few days, I feel that the benefits of fever start to be overwhelmed by the downsides of poor nutrition. In these cases, I will use a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (as long as it is not contraindicated based on a dog’s health status and/or the use of other medications) so the dog can feel better and hopefully start to eat.

During this time, I’ll also offer the dog special diets designed to be fed to sick animals. These products have several benefits over “regular” dog food. First of all, they are extremely palatable; dogs that have some appetite left are often unable to resist them. Secondly, they are very nutrient dense. Dogs do not have to eat much to receive a big nutritional boost. The high nutritional density also reduces the amount of work the digestive tract has to do, allowing the body to continue to focus on its immune response. Finally, many of these products have a soft and wet consistency. Dogs can lap at them or even be fed via syringe or feeding tube, if necessary.

We should never “starve” a fever in the sense of preventing a dog who wants to eat from doing so. Temporarily, there’s no harm in giving him the discretion to decide whether or not food should be a high priority, but after a few days, it’s time to intervene.

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

Knowing When it’s Your Pet’s Time: Pet Euthenasia

This post particularly relates to my own situation.  My beloved Logan, a German Shepherd Dog, had to cross over the Rainbow Bridge on April 22, 2013.  He was too ill with DM, degenerative myelopathy, common with GSD; similar to MS in humans.

To quote this article:  “How would you know when enough is enough? In my experience, those who fear answering this question are the most prepared because they are so cognizant of their pet’s needs and well-being.  They often simply tell me they “just knew it was time.”

 Yes, Logan was euthanized on Monday, April 22nd; I knew something sad was going to happen the previous Friday…I just knew.  When, on Monday,  my vet took me aside and said that I must let him go, he is too far gone…..I said, “I know, I know!”

  ” I am still grieving.”  —Diana Ruth Davidson, Westside Pet Nanny

A common anxiety among most owners of pets with cancer is a fear of not knowing when their pet is in pain or is suffering as a result of their disease, and the ensuing concern about keeping their pet alive for their own benefit.

Veterinarians use objective parameters for determining if an animal is painful, such as looking for an increased heart rate and/or respiratory rate, noting vocalizations or the presence of dilated pupils, etc. However, these are relatively “obvious” signs even non-medically trained individuals would likely be able to recognize.

What about more subtle signs of pain? How can we tell if a pet is nauseous? Can we detect achiness or fatigue? How do we know when these signs impact a pet’s life so greatly, the solution to end the suffering is the fairest option?

You may be surprised to learn I often have no black and white answer to those important questions. I see how this frustrates owners, especially when one of their main goals in talking with me is to find out the statistics of what their pet’s expected survival time would be with or without treatment or how will they know when it’s time?

It’s nearly impossible for me to predict how long a pet will live based on tumor type. I can usually describe what the end stages of disease may look like, but it’s impossible for me to know when those will be so impacting to an owner that they would decide to humanely euthanize their pet. I can only tell them things to look for that will potentially affect quality of life, I can’t make the decision for them.

A few examples may be the best way to clarify my point.

Dogs and cats with tumors of their urinary bladder and/or urethra will often show signs of straining to urinate, passing only small amounts of urine, and increased frequency of urination. They may even show signs of incontinence as the pressure in the bladder builds up against the obstruction of the tumor.

Typically the pets are completely normal in every other way: they eat, drink, play, sleep, and cuddle just as they always did, but there are clear signs of discomfort observed when they try and eliminate. When I see dogs and cats show such signs, I do not hesitate to tell owners I feel their pets are in pain. Even so, I’ve seen pets with such tumors live more than six months with their signs. Is that fair for that pet? Would it be better to euthanize them before these signs show up or is that equally unfair because they seem so happy at all other times?

Pets with lymphoma, a common cancer of a white blood cell called a lymphocyte, will often show signs of lethargy, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and weight loss as their disease worsens. Signs are progressive and may persist for weeks or more before an animal might pass away naturally, but is this fair for an animal to endure? Do I believe these animals are painful? Basing my information on what we know about humans with lymphoma, the discomfort associated with the disease is not acute and sharp, as would be expected from a wound or a fracture. But does this mean it’s acceptable to watch pets not feel well before making the decision to end their lives? What, if any, degree of nausea, lethargy, or weight loss is acceptable?

The most difficult cases to manage are pets with tumors within a bone or multiple bones. Pets will show outward signs of pain by limping or not bearing any weight on the affected limb, but often still appear happy, active, and well.

Logically, we know such pets are painful. If they weren’t, they would be using the limb normally. Despite having several options for treating bone pain, I don’t believe we really do an adequate job of keeping the pet comfortable and I do discuss euthanasia as an option for pets at the time of diagnosis. Since many of these animals aren’t typically showing other outward signs of sickness, owners can have a hard time rationalizing this.

I always say, “What one owner will tolerate, another will not,” and there is no way I can predict how long any of those pets with the aforementioned tumor types will survive because it ultimately will be the owner’s decision as to how long they will be able to live with their pet showing clinical signs.

A major part of my job is to be the strongest advocate for my patient and to let owners know when I think we are out of options and when their pet is suffering from their disease. It’s not a particularly enjoyable part of my job, but it’s a responsibility I’ve taken on. Likewise, owners also have a huge responsibility for making sure their pets are well taken care of, and also to know how to relieve suffering when it’s “time.”

How would you know when enough is enough? In my experience, those who fear answering this question are the most prepared because they are so cognizant of their pet’s needs and well-being.

They often simply tell me they “just knew it was time.”              Dr. Joanne Intile

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

Can Dogs Eat Grapes and Raisins?…No

The most tragic accidents are those that could have been avoided. I’ve written about the danger that grapes and raisins pose to dogs before over on Nutrition Nuggets, but in honor of Ted, an eight-year-old Maltipoo who is no longer with us, I’d like to bring up the topic again.

Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs, but until recently, veterinarians weren’t aware of this connection. I’m sure that some of the cases of kidney failure I’ve treated in the past were due to grape or raisin ingestion, but I didn’t even know to ask the question, “Could your dog have eaten grapes or raisins?”

Ted’s story is emblematic. He was a much loved member of a family that included two young children. As anyone who has spent time with the toddler/preschool set knows, their snacks stand about an equal chance of being swallowed or landing on the floor, being buried under the couch cushions, etc. Ted’s owner is sure that at any given time a few raisins could have been found scattered about the house. Ted was probably eating them for some time.

When Ted was seen by a veterinarian, he was suffering only from gastrointestinal upset. No one was overly concerned at the time. But as his condition deteriorated and evidence of kidney failure was found on a panel of blood work, the severity of his situation became evident. His veterinarian asked about exposure to potentially nephrotoxic (damaging to the kidneys) substances — antifreeze, bodies of water that could contain Leptospira bacteria, some types of medications … and grapes/raisins. That’s when the pieces all fell into place. Despite heroic efforts to save him, Ted’s condition declined to the point where the only humane option that remained was euthanasia.

Here’s what we currently know about grape and raising toxicity:

  • The causative agent, which has not yet been identified, appears to be in the flesh of the fruit. Peeled grapes or seedless varieties don’t appear to be any less toxic.
  • Raisins are more dangerous than grapes, probably because they are dried and are therefore a more concentrated source of the toxin.
  • There is a lot of variation in how individual dogs react to eating grapes. Some can ingest relatively large amounts with no adverse effects, while in others very small exposures can lead to big problems.
  • Cats also appear susceptible, but since most cats aren’t interested in eating grapes or raisins we don’t see as many problems in this species.

Initially, dogs that have eaten grapes or raisins may experience nausea and vomiting followed by diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, and lethargy. If the kidneys continue to shut down, urine production may slow and eventually stop altogether. Bad breath and oral ulcers develop as uremic toxins buildup in the body, and affected dogs can finally lapse into a coma and die.

If you know that your dog has eaten grapes or raisins, call your veterinarian immediately. Inducing vomiting within a few hours of ingestion can remove some of the toxin before it enters the bloodstream. The oral administration of activated charcoal can also help bind the toxin and prevent its absorption. Treatment for kidney failure centers on intravenous fluid therapy to support kidney function and flush toxins from the body and symptomatic care (e.g., anti-nausea medications and gastric protectants to prevent or treat stomach ulcers). Mild to moderately affected individuals will usually recover with appropriate care, albeit with permanently reduced kidney function. If urine production stops, the prognosis becomes poor. Hemodialysis can buy time for kidney function to return, but if the kidneys are too damaged, euthanasia or a kidney transplant (a procedure with less than a 50% success rate in dogs) are the only remaining options.

Please help spread the word about grape and raisin toxicity in dogs. Ted’s family certainly wishes someone had mentioned the risk of these ubiquitous snacks pose before their beloved family member fell ill.                   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

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