Helping Your Overweight Dog

By Joanne Keenan as seen in dogs Naturally Magazine

Have you ever searched online for the best dog food to help your overweight dog with weight loss? You’ll find the who’s who of commercial dog foods. But will the food help your dog lose weight?

Probably not. What you’ll find is that the ingredients don’t differ much from the standard dog processed diet. Some are labelled low-fat … but (just like the human weight-loss industry) … they use extra carbs to replace fat. 

Dog Food For Overweight Dogs

Your first stop for a diet for overweight dogs might be the pet store or your vet’s office. You’ll find a wide range of weight-loss, grain-free, and reduced-fat options, with questionable ingredients. Here are some of the ingredients used in weight-loss diets as fillers. And they also lack nutrients.

Powdered Cellulose 
This is non-digestible plant fiber, often from wood pulp. It’s essentially sawdust … woody fiber without any nutritional value. Cellulose dilutes the number of calories in each serving. It also gives your dog the feeling of fullness. But you’ll notice the volume of poop also increases.

Beet Pulp
This is a high fiber by-product of the sugar beet industry. It’s considered an inexpensive filler. Some reports say it has health benefits. Still, its vitamins and minerals get removed for other purposes. All that remains is fiber that passes through your dog like any other fiber, despite its origin in a root vegetable.

Brewers Rice 
This is the small grain fragments left over after whole grains of rice are milled. It’s an inexpensive grain filler without any nutritional value. It will bulk up your dog’s poop and make him feel fuller.

Chicken By-Product Meal 
This is a dry rendered product known as slaughterhouse waste. This is what remains from slaughtered chicken. It’s usually anything but meat and includes feathers, fat, feet and beaks.

Soy Flour, Soy Grits, Soybean Mill Run
Soy is problematic for several reasons. Soy is a low-cost alternative to meat protein but can be highly allergenic. Most soy is also genetically modified and harvested using toxic glyphosate as a desiccant. Soy grits are left after the extraction and removal of oil and soy meat. Soybean Mill Run is the hulls after the soy meat is removed.

So … when there’s soy in a dog food, it artificially increases the protein content without adding meat. These soybean by-products are also inferior sources of amino acids. They are an unusable protein that your dog can’t digest. 

You’ll also find grain-free foods that contain different legumes (also used as a low-cost source of protein), instead of grains. These are just as starchy as grains and should be avoided for your overweight dog.

Many ingredients in manufactured, weight-loss dog foods include grains, legumes and low-quality proteins. And you should also be aware of ingredient splitting. That’s when the same ingredient gets divided into sub-types and listed separately on the label. But added together, they’d usually be the largest ingredient (by weight). 

Weight Control Dog Food Labels

Here are the top ingredients listed on a few random labels.

  • Weight Glucose Management: Water, pork liver, whole grain corn, chicken, cracked pearled barley, powdered cellulose, chicken liver flavor …
  • Weight Reduction: Whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, powdered cellulose, soybean meal, soybean mill run, chicken liver flavor, dried beet pulp, pork liver flavor … 
  • Grain-free, Reduced Fat: Chicken meal, field peas, lentils, potato, tapioca …
  • Reduced Fat, Grain-free: Deboned cod, turkey meal, salmon meal, lentils, yellow peas …
  • Reduced Fat: Chicken, rice, whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal, corn germ meal …

With the exception of pork liver, deboned cod and chicken, the above ingredients offer little to no nutritional value. Those that aren’t stripped-down grains or fillers are carbohydrates your dog doesn’t need.

How Carbohydrates Cause Overweight Dogs

Processed diets are high in carbs and unhealthy fats, and low in protein …. and that leads to weight gain. 

According to animal nutritionist Dr Richard S Patton PhD, dogs in the wild ate a diet that was 4% carbohydrate. They’d get some carbs from wild berries or the stomach contents of their prey. Yet today’s processed food often has 40% carbohydrates or more. 

Most dogs need about 25–30 calories per pound per day to maintain a healthy weight. So, a 30-pound dog needs about 800 calories a day. And a lot of the calories in kibble are from carbs. So, if you reduce the kibble and feed a whole food, meat-based diet, you can feed your dog the same amount of calories … but he’ll get healthier foods and better nutrition. And it’ll be easier to control his weight.

Is My Dog Overweight?

So … how can you tell if your dog is overweight? The easiest way to tell is to see if you can feel his ribs. Holistic vet Dr Edward Bassingthwaighte offers this guideline: make a loose fist and run your other hand over your knuckles. That’s what your dog’s ribs should feel like. There shouldn’t be a layer of fat preventing you from feeling the ridges of his ribs. And he should have a defined waist that you can see from above and from the side. You should be able to see where your dog’s chest stops and his stomach area begins. 

What To Feed Your Overweight Dog

Here are the most effective foods to help your dog lose weight.

Raw Diet
whole food, raw meat diet is the best option for your dog. You can buy pre-made frozen raw food. Most should be complete and balanced, and some will contain fruits and vegetables. Higher quality foods won’t have added synthetic vitamins and minerals. Instead, the nutritients come from the ingredients. 

Or you can follow recipes to prepare raw food meals yourself. Here are some tips to help your overweight dog …

  • Stick to lean meats including turkey, chicken and beef
  • Feed a balanced raw diet that includes muscle meat, organs and bones plus fruit, vegetables, eggs and fish. Otherwise, your dog will lack essential nutrients. 
  • Use fruits and vegetables from your dog’s meals to create healthy treats. You can freeze broccoli, green beans or carrots or small pieces of meat. 
  • Give raw meaty bones as treats or as an occasional meal replacement. Bones will keep your dog occupied for hours and satisfy his need for food. Give your dog knuckle bones, lamb femurs or pork or beef neck bones. They are healthier choices than commercial chews.
  • Include omega-3 fatty acids to balance the omega-6 fats found in most dog food
  • Include probiotics to balance the gut microbiome and help digestion and the immune system

DNM RECOMMENDS: Four Leaf Rover offers Protect, soil-based probiotics with bentonite clay, humic and fulvic acid, dandelion and burdock root powder. It’s rich in antioxidants and helps remove toxins. Buy Protect Now. >>

Low In Starch
Whether you feed your dog raw or home-cooked, leave out the starchy foods. Dogs have no nutritional requirement for starch to survive. A diet of protein and fat supplemented by some low-carb fruit and vegetables meets your dog’s energy needs. 

A low-carb or low-starch diet includes raw meat or gently cooked meals without any carbohydrates in starch or grain form. Avoid legumes as well. These add starch to the diet … and plant-based protein doesn’t nourish your dog like the animal protein he needs.  You can include low-carb vegetables (steamed or pureed for digestibility) like leafy greens (spinach, kale, dandelion greens), mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower or asparagus.

Freeze-Dried Raw Diet
Most freeze-dried diets have the same ingredients as pre-made raw frozen diets … muscle meat, organs and ground bones. Some will include fruits and vegetables. Like raw foods, the better options don’t have added synthetic vitamins and minerals. 

Freeze-dried dog foods aren’t heated during the manufacturing process. Frozen food goes into large machines that lower the atmospheric pressure around the food. This removes moisture from the food. So, freeze-dried dog food isn’t cooked at all. But it’s very low in moisture, which gives it a long shelf life and makes it easy to store and serve.

What Can I Do If My Dog Is Overweight?

Besides feeding your dog a raw, home-cooked or freeze-dried diet with minimal carbs, here are some other things you can do to help your overweight dog lose weight. 

1. Feed the Right Amount
The guideline for whole food, raw meat-based or home cooked diets is 2 to 3% of your dog’s ideal body weight at maturity. If your dog isn’t an active breed, feed on the low side; higher if he’s an active dog. If your dog is overweight, feed him based on what his healthy weight should be … not his actual weight. Start at 2% … then you can increase or decrease depending on whether he loses or gains weight.

If you do feed kibble, keep in mind that the recommended feeding amounts are usually too high. If your dog gains weight, cut back his portions. 

2. Reduce Feedings … or Food Portions
You may have to experiment with this for your overweight dog. Some dogs will lose weight with just one meal a day. This mimics what would happen in nature, when dogs would only eat when they found food. And it gives your dog’s digestive system a healthy break between meals. 

But you might need a different approach if your dog seems ravenously hungry all the time. Your dog might lose weight more easily if you split his daily food amounts into 2 or 3 feedings a day. If he doesn’t finish his food in 15 minutes, remove it for later. Don’t keep topping up the bowl. Of course, make sure your dog has water available all day.

3. Don’t Free Feed

Some dog owners free-feed. This is the practice of keeping the bowl full for your dog to eat at will. But you have no way of knowing how much he’s eating through the day, so it’s a bad idea for an overweight dog. 

4. Feed Nutritious Food
Feed more protein and veggies, with no simple carbs … and only healthy fats. Supplement your dog’s existing food with add-ins like veggies, fruit, eggs, sardines. You can include non-starchy veggies like broccoli, green beans, celery, or asparagus. Include low-sugar blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or cranberries. 

Is The Green Bean Diet Good For Dog Weight Loss?

This is a popular diet, but it’s not the best idea. Many vets recommend swapping a portion of your dog’s food for green beans. The problem is your dog is only getting limited nutrition from the beans, so you could be creating a nutrient deficiency. You can feed them as treats instead. 

5. Add Foods with Healthy Fiber
Fiber gives your dog a feeling of fullness without the calories. But that doesn’t mean you need to give him cellulose or other fillers found in processed dog foods. Instead, give him healthy fiber. There are 2 types and your dog can have both. 

Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It travels into the colon where fermentation by beneficial bacteria creates short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that support your dog’s immune system. Soluble fiber can also help improve blood sugar levels to lower diabetes and obesity risk. Your dog can get soluble fiber from foods like fruit, mushrooms and seaweed. 

Insoluble fiber is fiber that doesn’t get digested as it travels through the digestive system. It attracts water to the stool and bulks up food to help it pass through the colon. Your dog can have insoluble fiber found in plants and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and green beans. 

RELATED: Read about the best sources of fiber for dogs ..

6. Increase Daily Exercise
Dogs can be victims of their owners’ sedentary lifestyles. Depending on age and health, most dogs need 30 minutes to 2 hours of physical activity every day. Even a walk around the neighborhood to sniff out the surroundings engages and benefits your dog physically and mentally.

7. Keep Track Of Treats
Your dog can easily gain weight by eating too many treats. It’s great to use treats for training or to reward your dog “just because” … but keep track of the treats for an overweight dog. You may need to remove some food from his meals. And try to use healthy treats like freeze dried or dehydrated meats or veggies, instead of cookies or other starchy treats.

The Dangers Of Having An Overweight Dog

In 2018, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimated that 56% of dogs in the US were overweight or obese. Dog obesity is just as dangerous as obesity in humans. It reduces the lifespan and quality of life of your dog. 

Here are some health issues that affect overweight dogs. 

  • Orthopedic disease
  • Ligament rupture
  • Tracheal collapse
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Urinary issues
  • Heart disease
  • Joint issues
  • Pancreatitis
  • Heart and lung diseases
  • Cancer
  • Skin problems

What Causes Dogs To Be Overweight?

There are several physiological reasons for weight gain:

  • Aging – older dogs are less active and need less food, but owners continue to feed them the same amount from their younger days
  • Breed – some breeds are prone to gain weight
  • Neutering or spaying can lower your dog’s metabolism
  • Lack of exercise

But the prime reason for overweight dogs is … overfeeding. One person controls what goes into the food bowl and that’s you. So it’s your responsibility to prevent weight gain by managing what your dog eats. It’s all too easy to feed dogs too much because it makes owners happy to see their dogs happy … when they’re eating. 

But you can have a happy … and healthy dog … by feeding a diet with minimal carbs and starches and lots of fresh whole foods. And reward your dog with love, attention and exercise … not food.

How To Manage Dog Skin Conditions

By: Dr Edward Bassingthwaighte As seen in Dogs Naturally Magazine

Skin is often one of the first places your dog will show signs of chronic disease. So it’s always important to pay attention to your dog’s skin health before problems appear.

Dog skin conditions are an indicator of your dog’s deeper health. Often they are the first sign of immune disease. Early signs of skin conditions can be subtle at first. And, left untreated, they can progress.

Symptoms of Dog Skin Conditions

Clinical symptoms of skin disease include:

  • A dull coat without a healthy shine
  • Flaky skin with a small amount of dandruff
  • A musty odor
  • Hair loss
  • Dry itchy skin

These signs can progress to:

  • Redness
  • Discolored skin
  • Itching
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Yeast infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Hot spots
  • Tumors

Unfortunately, itchy dogs are very common. Chronic skin complaints are one of the most pervasive (and hard to treat) health problems in dogs.

Common Dog Skin Conditions

Although skin conditions in dogs can appear in various forms, the underlying cause is always the same. Chronic ear infections, chewed feet, hot spots and other skin complaints are always the tip of the iceberg. They all stem from a deeper problem with your dog’s immune system, or toxins in his body. Often, it’s both.

Here are some ways skin conditions show up in your dog:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Yeast infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Allergic reaction
  • Environmental allergens
  • Atopic dermatitis 
  • Allergic dermatitis 
  • Flea bites or flea allergy 
  • Food allergies and reactions

Even though dog skin conditions may seem superficial, they run much deeper. This means you’ll need to treat the inside of your dog to see changes on his outside.

Here are my top 10 natural steps to reverse your dog’s skin conditions from the inside out …

Home Remedies For Dog Skin Infections

#1 Switch Your Dog To Raw

This is the first step for any health issue. Change your dog from processed pet food to a whole food, raw meat diet. It’s healthier and it eliminates food intolerances from commercial diets. Dogs with severe gut problems may need to have home-cooked food, but it’s rare. You should also add plenty of vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, and zucchini to help filter toxins.

Avoid starchy carbohydrates as much as possible … they can aggravate skin conditions. This means no foods ike rice, grains, potatoes, or legumes. And never feed any foods with preservatives, colorings or other chemicals.

#2 Use Herbs To Detoxify Your Dog

This will help clear toxins from his gut, liver, lymphatics and kidneys. Here is the best way to detoxify and support your dog’s gut and immune system:

Buy the following dried organic herbs for your dog:

  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Parsley
  • Burdock
  • Nettle
  • Dandelion

Mix all the herbs together in equal parts in a large jar. Every night, put two tablespoons of the herbs in 1 cup of boiling water, cover the cup and let them steep overnight. Strain the fluid and mix it into your dog’s meals.

RELATED: Learn more about herbs for common dog skin problems …

#3 Detoxify The Liver

Milk thistle is the go-to herb for cleaning out the liver. If you’re using a human product, assume the dose is for a 150 pound person and give your dog an amount based on his body weight. For extra strength, you can add glutathione to the milk thistle (again, adjusting the dose if it’s a human product).

Don’t use milk thistle long-term. It’s best given for only 2 to 4 weeks at a time and then take a break, and repeat every month or two.

#4 Detox The Kidneys

Every month or two, you can make a tea to detox the kidneys following the same directions as above, but using these herbs …

#5 Detoxify The Lymphatic System

Regular exercise is great for this, as is massage and bodywork. You can also make an herbal tea to detoxify and support the lymphatic system with:

  • Plantain
  • Red clover
  • Cleavers
  • Fenugreek

#6 Use Homeopathy

This will address the deep distortions of your dog’s vital force. Homeopathy is the best way to address the deep down causes of dog skin conditions. Working with a homeopath is easy and can be done by phone. You can find a homeopathic vet at theavh.org.

RELATED: Learn more about homeopathy for dogs …

#7 Repair The Gut

Since most of the immune system lives in your dog’s gut, you need to address his gut health. The best way to do this is to feed your dog high-quality probiotics daily for several months. The probiotics will balance the bacteria in the gut and restore the health of the immune system. A high fiber diet will also help provide prebiotics, which are like soil for the probiotics to grow on.

DNM RECOMMENDS: Four Leaf Rover offers Protect, an everyday soil-based probiotic with prebiotics and antioxidants, plus humic and fulvic acid to help remove toxins from the body. Buy Protect now >>

#8 Support The Immune System

Medicinal mushroom blends do a fantastic job of supporting the immune system. There are several good products for pets.

Make sure the mushrooms are organic and made from whole mushrooms. Many mushroom products are made from mycelium, which is only part of the mushroom. Mycelium is grown on grain which means it’s higher in starch and lower in important beta glucans medicinal properties than whole mushrooms. Follow the instructions on the packaging. You can also use human products and again, adjust the human dose for your dog’s weight

Vitamin C is also very helpful for healthy immune function. But don’t buy ascorbic acid … find a natural form of vitamin C from camu camu or acerola instead.

#9 Avoid Environmental Toxins

While you detoxify your dog, you’ll want to make sure you’re not adding new toxins. If you do, his skin condition will continue. Go through your home and remove as many chemicals and artificial fragrances as you can. These are very toxic to your dog.

#10 Reduce Stress

Last, but not least, reduce any stress in the humans and dogs in the household. Emotional stress is a big trigger for skin conditions. Take time out as a family to relax, meditate and exercise. If there is major stress going on, get help to process and move through it. If your dog has stress, anxiety or trauma, think about training or bodywork. It will all help!

RELATED: Get some easy DIY recipes for dog skin problems …

Just being aware of your dog’s health and body condition and providing ongoing care will prevent any of these issues from becoming bigger problems.

Why Does Dogs Eat Dirt

As seen in PetMD

Why did my dog just eat that? As a dog parent, you’ve probably asked this question at some point, whether your dog ate a stick, a rock, or dirt. Consuming objects that are not food-related is an eating disorder called pica. A form of pica called geophagia causes dogs to purposely eat dirt or mud.

Why Does My Dog Eat Dirt?

Your dog’s desire to eat dirt may be caused by nutritional, behavioral, or medical reasons.

Nutritional

All dog foods are not created equally. Some diets do not contain all the nutrients that a dog needs to live a healthy lifestyle.

Dietary deficiencies can cause dogs of any age to eat dirt to obtain minerals, like sodium, iron, and calcium from the soil. Dogs that are underfed may also eat dirt and other objects due to hunger and nutritional deficiencies.

When selecting a good quality dog food, make sure the food you choose meets the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) nutritional guidelines and is made by a large, experienced, and reputable manufacturer. Brands such as Royal CaninHill’s Science Diet, and Purina all meet WSAVA guidelines.

Behavioral

Dogs can get bored if they don’t have enough exercise or enrichment, and some will eat dirt to occupy their time.

Dogs with separation anxiety may eat dirt due to stress when they are separated from their pet parents. Dogs can develop anxiety at any age.

Medical

Several medical issues can also cause dogs to want to eat dirt.

Anemia

This medical condition refers to a low red blood cell count. Anemia can be caused by a variety of things, such as hookworms, flea infestation, tick diseasecancer, immune-mediated diseases, or bleeding disorders.

It is more common for puppies to have hookworms since they can typically contract these parasites through their mother’s milk when nursing. However, dogs of any age can get hookworms from the environment if they are not on heartworm prevention.

All dogs are prone to fleas and ticks, which are blood-sucking parasites that can cause severe anemia. Keep your dog on a good flea/tick prevention year-round, such as SimparicaNexGard, or Bravecto.

Adult and senior dogs can develop a severe anemia due to internal bleeding from certain types of cancerous masses. Immune-mediated diseases and bleeding disorders are very rare but can also cause anemia in a dog of any age.  Any anemia, if severe enough, can cause a dog to eat dirt.

Portosystemic (Liver) Shunt

shunt is an abnormal blood vessel that allows blood to bypass a dog’s liver. As a result, the liver receives an inadequate blood supply and does not function properly. Shunts are rare but can be congenital (in puppies) or seen in adult or senior dogs.

Gastritis (Inflammation of the Stomach)

When dogs have an upset stomach, they sometimes eat dirt and/or grass to try to make themselves vomit.

Is Eating Dirt Bad for Dogs?

Absolutely! Eating dirt can pose a variety of problems for dogs. Eating clumps of dirt, mud, or other objects can pose a choking hazard. Chewing and consuming hard objects, like rocks and animal bones that may be mixed in with the dirt, can also fracture teeth.

Aside from the more obvious dangers, here are some others that you may not be aware of.

Gastrointestinal Obstruction

Dirt, rocks, sticks, or other objects, also called foreign bodies, can get stuck in a dog’s esophagus, stomach, or intestines. This is called a gastrointestinal obstruction. Surgery is often needed to treat an obstruction.

Symptoms of an obstruction can include:

As soon as you see your dog ingest a foreign body, call your local animal hospital or emergency vet hospital immediately. A veterinarian may have you bring your dog right to the hospital so that vomiting can be induced to prevent possible obstruction. Timing is crucial. You must get your dog to a vet within an hour of ingestion of the foreign material because a dog’s stomach usually empties within two hours.

Toxins

Another risk of eating dirt or grass is that it may contain pesticides, fertilizers, or other toxins that can be severely harmful to your dog.

If you see your dog eating dirt from a lawn that may have been treated with pesticides or fertilizer, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 or ASPCA Poison Control at 888-426-4435 immediately.

There is a fee for calling either of these helplines, but you will be advised on whether or not your dog needs immediate medical care. You will also receive a case number that you can give to your local vet or emergency vet.

Damage to the Gastrointestinal Tract

Dirt and rocks may also cause abrasions and inflammation to the lining of a dog’s gastrointestinal tract as they work their way down the esophagus, into the stomach, and through the intestines.

Parasites

Dogs that eat dirt are also more prone to ingesting soil-dwelling parasites, such as CapillariaGiardia, hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. They may also ingest fleas that are on the ground, which can transmit a parasite called tapeworms.

What to Do If Your Dog Is Eating Dirt

Eating small amounts of dirt on occasion will likely not harm your dog but should still be discouraged. If your dog eats a lot of dirt or suddenly eats dirt for the first time, this could be a sign of a medical condition and you should call your vet as soon as possible.

The vet can run diagnostic tests to determine an underlying cause and proper treatment.

Take your dog to a vet if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • Eating dirt frequently or suddenly
  • Decreased appetite
  • Straining to poop or irregular bowel movements
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums (sign of anemia)
  • Vomiting multiple times in a 24-hour period, especially if vomiting occurs soon after eating or drinking

 Your vet will want to know the following:

  • What are your dog’s symptoms?
  • How long has your dog been sick?
  • Did your dog eat any foreign material (dirt, rocks, toxins, etc.), and if so, how long ago?
  • Is your dog taking any medications?
  • What food is your dog eating? Any recent diet changes?
  • Any vomiting and/or diarrhea?
  • Is your dog taking heartworm and flea/tick prevention regularly? Has there been a lapse in prevention?

Your vet may need to do several diagnostic tests to determine why your dog is repeatedly eating dirt or foreign objects, including:

  • Baseline blood cell count (CBC), electrolyte panel, and chemistry panel to check for anemia, liver disease, and possible causes of gastritis
  • Urinalysis to check for urate crystals in the urine (a possible sign of a portosystemic shunt)
  • Fecal float and fecal antigen tests to check for intestinal parasites
  • Gastrointestinal panel to test for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  • Bile acid test to assess liver function and help in the diagnosis of a portosystemic shunt
  • Abdominal ultrasound to look for cancerous masses, portosystemic shunt, thickened intestinal wall (suggestive of a food allergy or inflammatory bowel disease), cancer, or gastrointestinal obstruction
  • Endoscopy/colonoscopy and biopsies of the gastrointestinal tract to determine if there is inflammation, infection, or cancer
  • Food trial to test for food allergy

How to Keep Your Dog From Eating Dirt

Here are some tips to keep dogs from eating dirt and help protect them from parasites that can come from soil.

Proper Diet

Feed your dog a good quality diet so your dog receives the proper nutrition to live a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your local vet about the best diet to feed your dog.

It is recommended that most dogs eat twice a day. Dogs under 10 pounds should eat 3-4 small meals a day. If your dog is only being fed once a day and you notice that they are eating things outside (dirt, sticks, rocks) or objects in your house, this may be due to hunger. It may help to divide your dog’s daily food portions into 2-3 meals to keep your dog’s stomach content throughout the day.

Supervised Walks

Leash-walk your dog whenever you go outside so they are always under direct supervision. Then you will know if your dog tries to eat anything unusual. You can immediately remove an object from your dog’s mouth and lead your dog away.

If it is too difficult to walk your dog on a leash, or your dog is quick to eat dirt or other objects, try having your dog wear a basket muzzle. This muzzle sits loosely over the mouth and will prevent your dog from being able to eat dirt and other foreign objects.

Parasite Prevention

Keep your dog on year-round heartworm and flea/tick prevention to protect them from intestinal parasites, fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease. Heartworm prevention is prescription only. An oral flea/tick prevention is the best way to protect your dog from fleas and ticks and also requires a prescription.

Reducing Anxiety and Boredom

Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and has toys to play with. This will help reduce anxiety and prevent your dog from eating dirt out of boredom.

If your dog suffers from severe anxiety, consult with your local vet. You may also need to hire a professional dog trainer or seek help from a boarded veterinary behaviorist to learn how to ease your dog’s anxiety.

References

Selecting the best food for your pet – WSAVA. https://wsava.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Selecting-a-pet-food-for-your-pet-updated-2021_WSAVA-Global-Nutrition-Toolkit.pdf.

The Dangers Of Mold Exposure In Dogs

As seen in Dogs Naturally

Do you have mold in your home?

It’s an important question you need to answer because, left unchecked, mold exposure in dogs can cause serious health problems (and it’s true for you too).

Your dog is continuously exposed to mold spores in the air. Like humans, some dogs are more susceptible to mold spores than others. By understanding how to spot and address mold exposure, you can protect your dog from the harmful effects of mold.

What Is Mold?

Mold is a fungus that grows anywhere there’s moisture. Outdoors, mold typically grows in damp shady areas. Indoors, mold can grow anywhere in your home that gets damp and retains moisture. Mold spreads by releasing spores into the air … and the spores can grow on just about any surface.

Every home has moisture issues, whether from condensation, high humidity or water leaks. And every home has the elements that are required for mold growth … moisture, oxygen and organic material. Mold can damage your home structure and create costly repairs … but worse, mold can damage the health of the people and pets who live there.

The health risks of human exposure to mold are well documented. According to the CDC, symptoms of mold exposure can include nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. More severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. People with chronic lung illnesses may develop mold infections in their lungs.

And it’s not just people who can get sick from mold … it can harm your dog too. So here’s a closer look at mold exposure in dogs …

Is Mold Bad For Dogs?

Yes, mold is bad for dogs (as well as people). Mold exposure in dogs can cause adverse health effects like …

  • Lung and respiratory issues
  • Damage to the gastrointestinal tract
  • Serious digestive problems
  • Allergic reactions
  • Neurological issues, including tremors and seizures

While the immediate impact of mold is often treatable in the short term, longer term exposure can be more serious and more difficult to manage. When left untreated, mold exposure can lead to organ damage, creating more serious complications.

The dangers of mold exposure in pets came to light in 2007, when a veterinarian found pulmonary hemorrhages in two cats during pre-op procedures (1). Both cats died after complications. According to the report, the home was contaminated with mold from flood damage.

The Truth About Black Mold
Do dogs get sick from black mold? You may have heard that black mold is the most dangerous type of mold, but this isn’t really accurate. In reality, there are over 10,000 species of mold, many of which look quite similar. These species of mold come in a variety of colors and shapes, so you usually can’t identify it just by looking at it.

Any color mold exposure in dogs can be dangerous. So what should you be looking out for?

Dog Mold Exposure Symptoms

Symptoms of mold exposure in dogs include:

  • Respiratory distress (rapid or labored breathing)
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing, wheezing, sneezing
  • Lethargy
  • Bleeding from the mouth and/or nose
  •  

Some dogs will have an allergic reaction … with excessive scratching, chewing or licking that can lead to fur loss and the development of painful sores.

If your dog eats mold, it can cause reduced appetite, vomiting and changes in stool.

Signs and symptoms of mold exposure can mimic other health conditions. If your dog is showing any combination of the above symptoms, it’s a good idea to take her to your vet.

Long-Term Mold Exposure In Dogs

Over time, mold can cause other problems. One of the long-term consequences of mold exposure in dogs can be aspergillosis, an opportunistic fungal infection. Aspergillosis usually occurs in the nasal passages (nasal aspergillosis).

Symptoms of nasal aspergillosis include

  • Nasal pain, swelling, discharge
  • Nose bleeds
  • Sneezing
  • Reduced appetite

Note: There’s a systemic type of aspergillosis called disseminated aspergillosis (2). Animals with disseminated aspergillosis may experience spinal pain, bone inflammation, fever, vomiting, and weight loss. These symptoms generally develop more gradually after mold exposure. However, disseminated aspergillosis isn’t common … according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, it’s seen most often in middle-age, female German Shepherds. Dogs with compromised immune systems are also at higher risk.

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Where To Find Mold

Because of its location underground, most people recognize that the basement is a prime spot for water leaks and mold. A recent survey found that 55% of homeowners and renters have lived in a home with a wet basement. But water has ways of getting in that are not immediately obvious … and those are the places where mold can thrive. Check these less obvious places for mold in your home:

Cluttered Places
When airflow is blocked by clutter, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can’t properly circulate the air. Condensation can build up on your curtains and vents, creating a moist environment where mold can grow.

Steamy Spaces
Your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and other areas that get steamy and humid are problem areas that need proper ventilation fans to remove the damp air.

Dripping Water
Leaky pipes and drips from condensation that forms on pipes and windows create conditions for mold to grow.

Refrigerator Drip Pan
The drip pan is a place where standing water goes unnoticed and undisturbed — the perfect environment for mold growth.

Air Conditioning Ducts
Mold can grow in organic matter, standing water or condensation in your air conditioning ducts. Preventative maintenance can keep mold from growing in your air conditioning system.

How To Prevent Mold In Your Home

To keep your dog and your family safe from mold, it’s important to remove existing mold and take steps to prevent mold growth.

  • Check the underside of hidden areas such as ceiling tiles, drywall, carpets, and wallpaper for mold, since these places can attract and retain moisture. You may be able to remove small areas of mold from solid surfaces with vinegar or baking soda. Be sure to wear gloves and goggles and avoid breathing in mold or mold spores.
  • Keep your home’s interior as dry as possible. Repair your leaky basement, roof, pipes, windows, and other areas where water is getting in or accumulates from drips or condensation.
  • Ensure that your bathroom and kitchen fans and all ventilation systems are working as they should.
  • If water does get in, clean and thoroughly dry the area as soon as possible.
  • If you find large areas of mold, you may want to hire professional help to take care of the clean up.

When Should You Call A Pro?

It’s important to remember that mold infestation often involves more than meets the eye. If you suspect you have hidden mold, or if the moldy area is too large to clean up with vinegar or baking soda, your safest course of action is to call a professional.

A general contractor or handyman won’t necessarily have the expertise to manage the job. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends you “make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold.” Be sure that the professionals you hire have experience, can provide references (be sure to check the references!) and are bonded and insured.

What Will The Pros Do?
When you hire a professional to assess the situation and remove mold from your home, expect the process to look something like this:

  • First, the company should inspect your home and advise you of the extent of your mold problem. Ask them to provide you with a written schedule (including how much time areas of your home will be unavailable to you), instructions on how to prepare and what to expect. For your own safety, your family will not have access to rooms or areas where the mold cleaning team is working.
  • To prevent the mold spores from dispersing into the air, the mold removal specialist will seal off the work area with plastic sheeting. You may have to turn off your heating or air conditioning systems.
  • They’ll remove and discard mold-damaged building materials (drywall, insulation, baseboards, carpeting etc). Restoration is not typically included as part of the mold clean-up.
  • In addition to fans and high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums to remove mold spores, most services use antimicrobial chemicals to clean the mold and the stains. Some services use “green” cleaning solutions but even “green” cleaning product can contain dangerous ingredients. A 2015 Australian study found that 100 percent of goods labeled “natural,” “organic,” “non-toxic,” or certified as green gave off at least one potentially toxic chemical (3).
  •  

The mold removal service should show you where and how the water is getting in. Remember that moisture is what allows the mold to grow so you will need to take steps to keep the water out in future. Your mold removal company may offer this service or should be able to recommend a provider.

If you suspect your dog is ill due to mold exposure, talk to your vet. She may not consider the possibility that your dog’s symptoms stem from mold. In addition to treating your dog’s symptoms, be sure to check your home for hidden mold and call a professional if you’re unable to manage the clean-up on your own.

By: Austin Werner is the President of Real Seal LLC, a basement waterproofing company based in Schaumburg, IL. Real Seal is committed to personalized and expedited service and, of course, dry basements. Check Real Seal LLC out at http://therealsealllc.com

 

Why Do Dogs Hump?

As seen in PetMD

Humping is a common term for what veterinarians call mounting behavior. This is when a dog puts their front legs around another dog, and then thrusts their pelvis repeatedly (the humping motion). The mounting behavior can be directed towards the hind end of another dog, or sometimes the other dog’s head or side, or even toward a person.

Both male and female dogs, whether they are spayed or neutered or not, can perform mounting behavior. So why do dogs hump dogs, people, toys, or just the air, even after they are fixed?

Reasons Why Dogs Hump

Mounting behavior is a natural, instinctive behavior that occurs in puppies 3-6 week of age, most commonly during play. Both male and female puppies may mount each other.

Mounting can also occur when adult dogs play with another dog or person. People commonly think mounting behavior is strictly sexually motivated.

In unneutered male dogs, mounting behavior is in fact influenced by testosterone—it will occur in the presence of an unspayed female dog or a female dog in heat. But people assume the behavior will stop once their dog has been neutered. While neutering will reduce the mounting behavior by 50-60%, not all humping behavior is sexual in nature.

While there may be a hormonal reason that causes a dog to mount, humping behavior is not always triggered by hormones.

Humping can occur when dogs are excitable, such as during play or after greeting another dog. Some dogs may perform this behavior when they see their favorite dog friend or person.

Sometimes dogs hump to get their pet parent’s or another person’s attention. It is difficult for most people to ignore a dog when they are mounting their leg. If the person is sitting on the ground, the dog may mount them from the side or their back.

Mounting behavior can also be one way of conveying social status in dogs. Some dogs may mount other dogs to assert their status, but this behavior is usually accompanied by additional social signaling. Most social communication between dogs can occur without it escalating to one dog mounting the other. It is less likely to occur in a social context with the pet parent. In most cases of humping, there is another underlying cause.

Why Is My Dog Trying to Hump All of the Sudden?

This behavior may seem to come out of nowhere when a male dog reaches sexual maturity around 6-18 months of age, depending upon the breed of the dog. Some female dogs may mount people or objects when they are in heat. If the mounting behavior increases in frequency during this time period, it is most likely hormonally driven in intact animals.

If your dog is already spayed or neutered, then there may a learned component to this behavior. Every time your dog humps, you may be inadvertently reinforcing their behavior.

For example, your dog may mount you to tell you they want to play. You might push them away using your hands or legs. In your dog’s mind, this strategy worked to get your attention and you are now “wrestling” with them.

Why Do Dogs Hump People?

Humping behavior can be directed toward a person when a dog is excited. It is a sign of mental or emotional arousal. The behavior can be a physical outlet for the dog or a way of seeking attention.

Some dogs may just mount the person, but other dogs may mount and escalate to biting when the person tries to push them off. Legs are the most mounted areas because they are easily within a dog’s reach. However, it is not uncommon for dogs to mount any body part within reach.

Dogs may select a person to mount based on their relationship with the individual. It may be a sign that the dog prefers the person. Or it could actually be a sign that the dog may be anxious about that person. You would need to look at the dog’s relationship to the person to understand the underlying motivation.

Children can be targets of dog humping due to their size and depending on the dog’s previous experience or relationship with a child.

Why Do Dogs Hump the Air?

Some dogs may be excited or emotionally aroused but have been previously punished for humping. In this case, a dog may not be sure whether they should make physical contact or not. These dogs would be most likely to hump the air next to another dog or a person.

Why Is My Dog Humping My Cat?

If your dog humps your cat, it may be a sign of excitement or part of play, if the two pets do usually play with each other. Some small dogs may mount a cat if there is social conflict between them.

Should You Let Dogs Hump Things?

Some dogs hump their favorites toys, blanket, or pillow. They may hump regardless of whether you’re around or not and in any environment.

Some dogs may hump when they are anxious. This is referred to as displacement behavior. The dog is anxious and engages in a particular behavior as an outlet for their anxious energy, similar to an anxious person tapping their foot.

If your dog engages in this behavior for a short period of time and is not causing any injuries, then there’s no harm in allowing your dog to hump. It may be a self-soothing behavior for your dog.

However, if you think it’s an unsightly problem, you need to engage your dog in another behavior whenever they try to mount an object. This may mean keeping all pillows, toys, and blankets out of your dog’s reach.

When Is Humping a Problem in Dogs?

Humping can be a problem when your dog spends most of their time performing this behavior. If you have difficulty distracting and redirecting your dog from humping, it may be a sign of compulsive behavior.

In male dogs, frequent episodes of mounting may cause dermatitis over their foreskins. It is a serious problem when a male dog humps objects frequently enough that he causes lesions to form on the tip of his penis. The lesions can be painful, and in some cases, they can cause scarring at the tip of the penis, therefore forming a urinary blockage.

A dog with this condition needs immediate medical attention.

Frequent expression of mounting behavior can also exacerbate a painful condition, such as if your dog already has degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis in their hips or knees.

How to Stop Dog Humping

It may be very embarrassing to see your dog mount other dogs, people, or children. Many pet parents may pull their dogs away and scold them. This does not teach a dog to stop performing the behavior. Instead, it may increase a dog’s anxiety. 

Pet parents may also be inclined to place their dog on leash, tether them, or if at home, place their dog in a crate or another room to calm down. While these options do stop the humping behavior, better options include distracting your dog and redirecting them to perform alternate behaviors.

It is difficult for a dog to hump another dog if you focus your dog’s attention on chasing their favorite ball, for example. Or you could call your dog and engage them in calming behaviors, such as getting them to sit or lie down next to you.

When your dog engages in more appropriate behaviors, give them plenty of treats, praise, and attention. You can also keep your dog focused for longer by offering food puzzle toys or a long-lasting chew.

References

1. Beaver B V. Canine Behavior Insights and Answers 2nd Edition. 2nd ed. Saunders; 2009.

2. Hopkins S, Schubert T HB. Castration of adult male dogs: effects on roaming, aggression, urine marking, and mounting. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1976.

3. Bergman L. Canine Mounting: An Overview. NAVC Clin Br. Published online 2012.

Urinary Incontinence In Dogs

Urinary Incontinence In Dogs

by Jean Hofve DVM

Urinary incontinence in dogs, means your dog has the inability to retain urine in his bladder … in other words, bladder leaks.

The urinary system is quite elegant. Urine is produced by the kidneys and fed through the ureters to the bladder. A sphincter (circular muscle) keeps the passage to outside closed until it’s voluntarily opened during urination. At that point, urine flows through the urethra to whatever object your dog decides to gift with his or her scent.

When the sphincter doesn’t stay fully tightened, involuntary leakage occurs. If the bladder is too full, urine can overflow into the urethra and escape. This often happens while your dog is resting or sleeping, or when she gets up from lying down.

Dribbling urine can also be a behavior issue if it happens when your dog is frightened or being submissive.

Signs Of Incontinence In Dogs

I probably don’t need to tell you how you’ll know your dog is incontinent. It’s usually pretty obvious!

The most common sign of urinary incontinence in dogs is wet spots wherever your dog sleeps. 

You might also notice …

  • Dampness around the hindquarters and thighs
  • Dribbling urine as she walks
  • Irritated skin or redness from the dripping (urine is caustic and can burn)
  • Licking the vulva or penis more than usual
  • Dribbling urine when she is excited, frightened, submissive, or stressed

What Causes Incontinence In Dogs

There are many potential causes and contributors to incontinence, including:

What this adds up to is the need for adequate testing to pin down an accurate diagnosis.

Breeds Prone to Incontinence

Research shows that females are more prone to urinary incontinence in dogs than males. Two UK studies found that urinary incontinence affects 3% of females overall, but more than 15% in high risk breeds. These include …

  • Irish Setter
  • Doberman
  • Bearded Collie
  • Rough Collie
  • Dalmatian

Prevalence in males is less than 1%, with breeds affected including …

  • Bull Mastiff
  • Irish Red Setter
  • Fox terrier
  • Bulldog
  • Boxer

Spay/Neuter Increases Incontinence

Urinary incontinence in dogs is more likely in spayed females, especially if they’re spayed early.  One study of 492 female dogs concluded that …

“Neutering itself and early-age neutering (<6 months) are major risk factors for early-onset urinary incontinence.”

Another study found that size was a factor in spayed females developing USMI (urinary sphincter incompetence). For every month neuter was delayed in the dogs’ first year, the risk of USMI was reduced in dogs weighing over 25 kg. The risk did not change for dogs under 15 kg.

So, if you decide to spay your dog of 50 lbs or more, it’s best to defer the procedure as long as you can.

RELATED: Read about other risks of early spay/neuter.

How Vets Diagnose Incontinence

Your vet will do (at least) a thorough physical exam, standard blood tests and urinalysis.

If these tests don’t point to an answer, your vet may do more specialized blood tests, urine culture, radiographs, ultrasound, or other types of scans.

If leaks started when your dog was very young, and the vet suspects an anatomical abnormality like ectopic ureter (see below), she may do a dye “urography” that traces the course of the ureter.

You want to determine the cause of your dog’s incontinence so you can treat it appropriately.  For example …

  • An older spayed female dog is most likely to have estrogen-responsive incontinence from spaying. But you don’t want to waste time and money treating that when the real problem may be something else that requires very different therapies.
  • Ectopic ureters or other anatomical issues may be corrected with surgery.
  • Incontinent dogs are more likely to develop urinary tract infections. That’s because the presence of urine in the urethra can provide a route for bacteria to climb up to the bladder and set up housekeeping.
  • If the problem is a urinary tract infection or uroliths (stones), then resolving that problem may quickly take care of the incontinence.
  • The same applies to hormonal issues that can be treated appropriately.

PRO TIP

Before we get to the details, my #1 recommendation for any kind of bladder problem is protect your stuff! Managing a dog with incontinence, a UTI, or inappropriate urination for any reason is unpleasant and frustrating.

Waterproof dog beds and washable pee pads make clean-up easy and convenient. If your dog sleeps on the bed, at the very least get a waterproof mattress pad, and perhaps a flannel or comfy waterproof flat sheet to put over the covers. Temporary use of doggy diapers may also reduce the emotional toll on the human family.

Conventional Treatments For Incontinence

There are several conventional approaches to treating incontinence problems.

Phenylpropanolamine (Proin®, Propalin®)

This drug releases chemicals that strengthen the bladder sphincter muscles. It’s not a cure … so if your dog stops taking it, she’ll go back to leaking urine.

Side effects in the manufacturer’s clinical trials included …

  • Vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Proteinuria (protein in the urine)
  • Excessive thirst
  • Restlessness or difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Lethargy

Some more serious side effects can occur, usually at higher dosages. These include cardiac issues, tremors and difficulty urinating.

At low doses the risk of side effects is minimal, so some holistic vets may use this drug along with other alternative therapies.

Estrogen (Estriol/Incurin, DES)

This synthetic estrogen drug is often used for females with spay incontinence.  It comes with quite a list of side effects. Studies show adverse effects like …

  • Vomiting
  • Swollen/itchy vulva
  • Lethargy
  • Aggression (leading to euthanasia in some cases)
  • Hyperpigmentation and lichenification of vulva (black skin spots and thickened skin)
  • Hair loss
  • Vaginal hemorrhage
  • Seizures

Those are quite unpleasant side effects. But this drug also has some even more serious risks. It may cause cancer and bone marrow toxicity. There are good non-pharmaceutical substitutes.

Surgery To Correct Anatomical Abnormalities

If your dog’s incontinence is caused by an anatomical abnormality, your vet may recommend surgery.

The most likely kind of abnormality is ectopic ureter. It’s fairly rare, with reported incidence of less than 0.1%.

The ureters transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Ectopic ureter means that one or both ureters by-pass the bladder and connect to the urethra, uterus or vagina. This can cause continual dripping of urine.

This problem is usually seen in 3 to 6 month old dogs, and females are 8 times more prone than males.

High risk breeds for this problem are …

  • Siberian Husky
  • Miniature and Toy Poodle
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Collie
  • Welsh Corgi
  • Wire-haired Fox Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier

This condition may be corrected with surgery to redirect the ureter into the bladder.

A less invasive method is cystoscopic-guided laser ablation. It’s done under anesthesia and involves inserting a ureteral catheter into the ectopic ureter. A laser then “ablates” (removes) the wall of the ureter. This effectively moves the opening from the urethra to the bladder. One study showed a 47% success rate for this procedure.

PRO TIP

However you decide to treat your dog’s incontinence … adjust and increase your dog’s potty break time. This will help reduce the amount of urine in the bladder at any one time.  Make sure she goes out to pee before you leave for work or school, and right before bedtime.

Natural Treatments For Incontinence

These are some of my favorite alternative approaches for urinary incontinence In dogs.

Chiropractic, Acupuncture, And Osteopathy

These hands-on treatments are excellent choices that can be very successful in resolving incontinence. They’re especially effective if urinary incontinence in dogs is due to physical issues like spine misalignment, muscle spasms, or nerve injury or impairment.

Read how to find a practitioner under the “Find A Holistic Vet” section below. You may also be able to find a local veterinary rehab facility that offers these modalities.

Herbs And Nutraceuticals

These are some effective options, depending on the cause of your dog’s incontinence.

  • Wild Yam extract has estrogenic and anti-spasmodic effects, but may require fairly high doses (100 mg per 25 lbs. body weight). It’s often included in herbal blends with Rehmannia, licorice, red clover, cranberry, and other herbs. Follow package directions for products intended for dogs. If using a human product, the dose is based on a 150 lb person, so reduce the dose proportionally for your dog’s weight.
  • Soy isoflavones are the best natural substitute for estrogen, but be sure you choose an organic product, since most soy in the U.S. is GMO (genetically engineered). Vetriscience Vetri-Bladder chews are a good choice; give 1 chew per 30 lbs. body weight once a day. The same dose applies to their canine Bladder Strength tablet, which also contains supportive herbs.
  • Estroven® contains Rheum raponiticum extract. he dose is based on a 150-lb person, so reduce the dose proportionally for your dog’s weight. It may work by itself or need to be combined with estrogenic herbs. Estrogenic herbs include soy, Mexican wild yam, black cohosh, dong quai, red clover.  It’s best to ask a holistic vet or herbalist for help using these herbs.
  • Herbs that are good for urinary tract infections (if that’s the cause of your dog’s leakage) include cranberrygingerturmericolive leaf, and uva ursi. Cranberry prevents E. coli bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall; olive leaf has antibiotic properties; uva ursi is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory; turmeric and ginger are great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herbs. They are available in a wide variety of combinations, usually with other natural antioxidants.
  • Anti-arthritic herbs, such as turmeric, ginger, Boswellia, yucca, and barberry, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Antioxidants work best in combination; many such products are available, but my favorite (which I take myself!) is Boswellia Complex by Standard Process. A small or medium size dog can take 1/2 tablet twice a day; for large and giant breeds, give a whole tablet twice a day. CBD also relieves pain and may be a good adjunct.
  • Chinese herbs are very useful; but it’s important to work with a veterinarian trained and experienced in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. These herbs are powerful, and appropriate formulas must be individualized for your dog.
  • Glandular support. Here again, Standard Process shines. Symplex F is excellent as a replacement for hormones missing due to spaying. Symplex M is for neutered male dogs. Both products also support the thyroid, adrenal, and pituitary glands. Both synergize well with Vasculin, which contains a multitude of herbs and vitamins that support healthy blood vessel and nerve function.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids from a marine source have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Protein and collagen are both important for any muscle, including the bladder sphincter. The bladder itself is also a muscular organ. Protein is also a natural urinary acidifier. Bone broth and a higher protein diet may be helpful.

Homeopathy

A good homeopath can work virtual miracles. There are many remedies indicated for urinary incontinence in dogs, but it’s important to work with a qualified homeopathic veterinarian. The choice of remedy and potency must be highly individualized for not only incontinence, but also for the dog’s personality, environment, history, and many other factors. 

I have seen homeopathy restore bladder and bowel control in a dog who had been hit by a car, after months of unsuccessful medical management. Find a homeopath at The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (AVH).

RELATED: Homeopathy Basic For Dogs

The next two approaches are newer and less common, but worth exploring with your holistic vet. Studies show promising results with these therapies.

Botulinum Toxin Injections

Research has found that injections of Clostridium botulinum toxin into the bladder wall (50-100 botulinum toxin units per animal in 10 injections) successfully prevented recurrence of incontinence in dogs for up to 5 months.

Electrical Stimulation

Researchers are currently experimenting with implants that provide electric stimulation to the nerves in dogs with a spinal cord injury. While it’s not likely to be coming to your local veterinary clinic, veterinary teaching hospitals may incorporate it in the not-too-distant future.

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Support Your Dog’s Overall Health

Finally, as with all chronic health problems, it’s important to keep your dog as healthy overall as you can.

Not all incontinent dogs can be completely cured. But with the right management and therapies, it can be well controlled … so you and your dog can enjoy a long, happy, and puddle-free life together.

6 Appetite Stimulants for Dogs

By Sarah Wooten, DVM

A change in a dog’s eating habits, either up or down, is a clue that something is not right with your dog. When a dog refuses to eat out of the blue, he is telling you that he doesn’t feel well, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. There are many things that affect a dog’s appetite, such as dental disease, undiagnosed pain, stress and anxiety, upset stomach, infectious disease such as worms or influenza, or cognitive dysfunction.

In humans, we know that taste decreases with age, and humans on cancer treatment say that nothing tastes good. The same may be true for our canine companions. When your dog doesn’t eat, it is important to visit your veterinarian to figure out what isn’t right, and fix it. If it is going to take some time to resolve the underlying issue, then an appetite stimulant may be indicated to support your dog on the road to recovery.

When Can Appetite Stimulants Help My Dog?

Appetite stimulants are indicated when a dog refuses to eat long enough that it impacts his health, consistently does not consume enough calories to support a healthy weight, is on a medication (such as chemotherapy) that decreases appetite, is recovering from an illness and needs appetite support, or to help a dog eat a new diet. Dogs with kidney disease, for example, can have underactive appetites that lead to weight loss, or may not want to eat their therapeutic kidney diet. An appetite stimulant can help in this case to get the dog the nutritional support that he needs. There are several options that your veterinarian can suggest, including pharmaceutical, natural, and holistic options.

Ways to Stimulate Your Dog’s Appetite

Rotisserie Chicken

For a sick, debilitated, or geriatric dog who is picky about eating, one of the easiest (and cheapest) options to try is tempting him to eat rotisserie chicken. We all know how good rotisserie chicken smells in the grocery store when we walk by—and it smells even better to dogs. Even the pickiest eater will often gobble up his food if you doctor it up with a little white meat from a rotisserie chicken. Do not give dogs the bones or skin from a rotisserie chicken, and if they are instructed to eat a low-fat diet, only feed the white meat portions. Other easy strategies to try to increase appetite include hand-feeding and microwaving the food to warm it up.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture, while it cannot cure a condition, is known to reduce pain, inflammation, and nausea. Dogs with decreased appetites due to medical conditions such a diabetes, kidney or liver failure, inflammation of the pancreas, or hormonal conditions, such as Addison’s disease, are known to benefit and have an increase in appetite after acupuncture sessions.

Mirtazapine

When natural options stop working, it is time for pharmaceutical intervention. Mirtazapine is a common drug that is prescribed to dogs who have a decreased appetite due to other conditions that make them feel queasy, such as kidney disease or cancer, or medications such as chemotherapy. Mirtazapine acts on the central nervous system and increases serotonin levels, so it is important that it is not given to dogs who are on SSRIs (selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors).

Meclizine

Meclizine can help with appetite in some dogs. Meclizine is an antihistamine that is known to reduce nausea due to vertigo. If your dog is not eating due to nausea, there are several other medications available, such as maropitant, a common drug available through your local veterinarian.

Ghrelin Receptor Agonist

There is a new medication on the market for dogs that mimics the effect of ghrelin, which is the hormone that makes a dog or a person feel hungry. The medication binds to ghrelin receptors and signals the brain to cause the dog to feel hungry.

CBD Products

Finally, for those of you living in states where it is legal, CBD (cannabidiol) products manufactured for pets are exploding onto the veterinary scene. The benefits include reduction of pain and increase in appetite. It is important to note that CBD from hemp is not THC, and marijuana is toxic to pets. Ask your veterinarian for product recommendations.

It is important to note that these suggestions do not replace medical advice. If your dog is not eating and you have not seen your veterinarian, you should make an appointment to rule out serious underlying health issues that are causing your dog not to eat.

Why Do Dogs Pant? Is Your Dog Panting Too Much?

By Sophia Catalano, DVM as send in PetMD

Panting can be a normal behavior for a dog, but it can also signal an underlying medical issue.

So how do you know when your dog’s panting is a sign that something’s wrong? Here’s what you need to know about dog panting.

What Causes Dog Panting?

Here are some common reasons why dogs pant.

Heat 

Panting is a normal behavior for happy and active dogs. It helps dogs cool themselves down because they can’t sweat like humans do.

Panting allows a dog to rapidly inhale, humidify, then exhale the air, which increases the evaporation of water from your dog’s nose and lungs. The evaporation of water cools the body from the inside out.

A large amount of water can be evaporated in a short amount of time when a dog’s panting, so always make sure that your dog has access to plenty of fresh water on hot days.

This type of normal panting can be quite heavy, but the level of heavy breathing should correlate with the air temperature or amount of activity your dog is doing.

Excitement

Dogs also pant when they are excited. Panting is a normal behavioral response when something exciting happens, like meeting new people or getting a treat. This type of panting can be rapid and shallow, and it’s often accompanied by whining.

Stress

Similar to dog panting that’s brought on by excitement, dogs also commonly pant and whine when they are stressed.

If you see your dog panting, take note of their body language. Are their eyes wide and weary? Are they looking away and yawning? These are some common body language cues that indicate your panting dog is stressed.

Assess the situation to determine how you can make your dog more comfortable to prevent them from becoming fearful or more stressed.

Pain

It is important to know that dog panting can indicate nausea, discomfort, and pain. Your veterinarian can assess whether your dog is panting because they are in pain by conducting a thorough examination and possibly diagnostic tests.

Medicine

Medications, especially prednisone or other steroids, may cause increased panting even when your dog is not hot, excited, or stressed. This is a common side effect, and if your dog’s panting is excessive, you should talk with your vet.

Heatstroke

Overheating, or heatstroke, will cause heavy panting in dogs, which can quickly lead to dehydration and death if untreated. Treating heatstroke requires emergency veterinary care.

Dogs that are overheated pant very heavily and will likely appear uncomfortable in some way. They could be restless, laid out flat, and/or not responding to you because they are so focused on cooling themselves.

You can prevent heatstroke on hot summer days or while hiking and spending time outdoors by taking frequent breaks, seeking shade, and offering your dog plenty of water. Do not have your dog out in high temperatures or for long periods of time. Dogs with short snouts should stay cool and hydrated on warm days as they are more prone to heatstroke.

NEVER leave your dog in a hot car. The interior of a car can reach scorching temperatures and threaten your dog’s life in as little as 10-15 minutes, even on mild days. Run the air conditioner or leave your friend at home when running errands.

How Can You Tell Normal Dog Panting From Excessive Panting?

Use these tips to help determine whether your dog’s panting is normal or a sign that something is wrong. If you have any feeling that your dog is panting excessively or abnormally, call your vet.

Take Note of What Your Dog Is Doing

Panting should correlate with the outside temperature or activity. Healthy dogs usually don’t need to pant in the absence of exercise or excitement.

Could your dog be stressed, excited, or hot? If so, this is probably normal dog panting. If your dog is panting or breathing rapidly during rest or sleep, however, this is often abnormal panting.

Look for Other Symptoms

Is your dog lethargic or not eating well? Have they been coughing? Other symptoms are clues that can help distinguish normal panting from abnormal panting. These clues will help your vet diagnose the cause of your dog’s panting.

Pay Attention to Changes in Your Dog’s Panting Sounds

Changes in the sound of your dog’s panting shouldn’t be ignored. Some dogs, particularly Labradors and Golden Retrievers, are predisposed to a condition called laryngeal paralysis. This is a dysfunction of the vocal cords that causes the airway to not open as wide as it should. The result is a characteristic abrasive sound when these dogs pant.

Similarly, dogs with short snouts like Pugs and English Bulldogs can make abnormal snorting sounds while panting due to a long soft palate or excessive tissue in the throat that causes obstruction of the airway.

Dogs with either of these conditions are more predisposed to heatstroke because they cannot efficiently pant to cool themselves. Keep them cool and watch for these sounds when they pant.

When in Doubt, Call Your Vet

How do you know when to call your vet? Short answer: Whenever you are concerned. Don’t wait and worry about your dog’s panting needlessly. Leave it to your veterinarian to determine if your dog is experiencing abnormal panting.

What to Do if Your Dog Is Panting Heavily

If you think something is wrong, take these steps to help your dog immediately.

If your dog is overheating:

Act quickly, but don’t panic:

  • Cool your dog by wetting them with a hose, and move them indoors or at least to the shade.
  • Offer them water to drink.
  • Call your veterinarian or a local emergency hospital for guidance.
  • If you have to bring your dog to the hospital, run the air conditioner in your car.

Your dog may be hospitalized to receive treatment with fluids and to have blood work done to make sure their organs were not damaged.

If your dog’s panting is accompanied by any other symptoms:

Consult a veterinarian right away to schedule an appointment.

Your pet may need blood work or x-rays to rule out many concerning diseases. Treating the various other causes of excessive panting can range from giving your dog medication at home to hospitalizing your dog for advanced treatment.

You know your dog’s behavior best, so if you’re concerned, call your veterinarian. You may be saving your pet’s life.

Is Dry Nose a Sign of Illness in Dogs?

By Sarah Wooten, DVM

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How Dogs Use Their Nose

Dog noses are fascinating little structures. Not only do dogs use their noses for breathing, dog noses also drain excessive tears from the eyes through tear ducts. In addition, they have sweat glands, which help to cool the body through sweating.

Dog noses are also involved in collecting information about the environment. They do this through sniffing, but not all of the “information” is carried through the nasal passage. When a dog licks her nose, she transfers all sorts of scents to specialized scent detection olfactory glands located on the roof the mouth. This allows the dog to process her environment.

Check out your dog the next time she is intently sniffing something; you will notice that she sniff, sniff, sniffs, and then licks her nose, transferring all the information about what other dogs, cats, squirrels, or other creatures might have left — a “scent mail”, if you will — for her to read.

Does a Warm, Dry Nose Mean a Dog is Sick?

Clients often ask me if their dog’s nose is warm and dry, does that mean the dog is sick? Not necessarily, I tell them. Some dogs have dry noses because they just don’t lick their noses often. Sometimes, however, a dog will have a warm, dry nose in relation to a fever, but it can get tricky. That is because if a dog has the flu, she can have a fever with a warm, dry, nose, or a wet, runny nose.

Dogs can also lick their noses excessively due to neurological conditions (partial seizures), excessive anxiety, behavioral reasons (dogs will lick their muzzles to signal submission), or because their nose itches from allergies.

If your dog is acting sick, feels warm, seems to licking her nose excessively, and/or is coughing or sneezing, then it is time to the see your veterinarian to figure out what is wrong, and then fix it.

Diseases That Can Cause Dry Nose in Dogs

There are some diseases that can cause a chronically dry nose. Auto-immune disorders, such as lupus or pemphigus, can cause changes in the surface of the nose that leads to dryness, cracking, and bleeding.

Auto-immune disorders are diagnosed with blood and urine testing, and a biopsy of the nose. They are treated with immuno-suppressive drugs, such as prednisone.

Severe allergic reactions to pollenmoldfood, etc. can lead to redness and swelling of the nose, as well as to excessive rubbing and scratching of the face. Allergies can be treated with anti-histamines, and in severe cases, steroids must also be prescribed.

Dry Nose from Sunburn and Face Shape in Dogs

Excessive sun exposure, especially in dogs that have pink skin, can cause sunburned skin on the nose that can peel and crack.

Still other dogs, especially brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs, can’t lick their nose very well because of the conformation of their skull. These dogs will often develop a lumpy, crusty, chalky, cracked, uncomfortable nose in place of the cute little black button that used to sit on their face.

Treatment for Dry Nose in Dogs

For a case of chronically dry nose, your dog may benefit from a prescription lotion specifically designed to hydrate and nourish the skin on the nose.

Because dogs are nose lickers, whatever lotion is used must be safe for ingestion. Most skin lotions that are sold over the counter are not safe for ingestion. It is for this reason that I do not recommend treating the nose with any over the counter lotions unless your veterinarian has specifically recommended it to you.

If you notice changes in the way the skin on your dog’s nose looks, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss options in diagnosis and treatment.

What Does a Dog’s Peeing Position Mean?

By Jennifer Coates, DVM

An old study from the 1970s identified 12 positions that 60 intact male and 53 intact female adult beagles used to pee:

  • Stand: Standing normally
  • Lean: The body is leaning forward and the hind legs are extended to the back.
  • Flex: The hind legs are partially flexed so the rear end is slightly lowered. The hind feet usually remain under the body (no straddle).
  • Squat: The hind legs are straddled and sharply bent to bring the hind end close to the ground. The back is kept straight.
  • Handstand: Both hind feet are lifted off the ground. They may be unsupported or placed against a vertical surface.
  • Arch: The hind legs are usually spread and bent to bring the hind end close to the ground. The back is rounded, and the tail is lifted away from the ground.
  • Raise: One hind leg is bent and raised off the ground but the leg is kept relatively low.
  • Elevate: One hind leg is bent and raised off the ground. The foot and leg is held high.
  • Lean-Raise: A combination of the Lean and Raise postures.
  • Flex-Raise: A combination of the Flex and Raise postures.
  • Squat-Raise: A combination of the Squat and Raise postures.
  • Arch-Raise: A combination of the Arch and Raise postures.

The researchers found that females squatted most of the time but that the squat-raise was also quite popular. Females used most of the other positions too, albeit on a limited basis. Male dogs, on the other hand, had a more restricted repertoire. All of them demonstrated the elevate posture and some used the raised position, but the squat-raise and lean-raise only occurred rarely and the other positions weren’t noted at all. Keep in mind, however, that all the male dogs in this study were mature and intact.

 

What Does a Dog’s Peeing Position Mean?

 

Now that all the positions that a dog is likely to take to urinate have been identified, the question “Why?” has to be asked. What does it mean when a dog picks a particular posture at a particular time?

It’s important to remember that urination serves two purposes for dogs—elimination and marking. Both male and female dogs scent mark, but the behavior is more pervasive in males. Dogs who are marking preferentially urinate on vertical surfaces. If they urinate high up on that surface, the urine can flow downward covering a greater area, which leaves a stronger message to anyone who subsequently passes by. Peeing up high may even make a dog seem bigger than he actually is. This is probably why the elevate posture is so popular among males.

Interestingly, leg-raising is a behavior that only develops in male dogs as they mature. The authors of the study on beagles note that the lean posture, which deposits urine directly on the ground, “is typically used by male puppies and juveniles.”

But what about females? That’s where the handstand posture comes in. There’s no better way for a female dog to urinate at least as high as and maybe even higher than a similarly sized male can.

Research supports this hypothesis in female dogs. A paper published in 2004 looked at the urinary behaviors of six spayed and six intact female Jack Russell Terriers while they were being walked close to and further away from their “home area.” The scientists found that when away from their home area, these dogs were more likely to urinate frequently and aim their urine at objects in comparison to when they were walked close to home. The authors concluded “urination in female dogs does not function solely in elimination, but that it also has a significant role in scent marking…”

So, when dogs take a position that results in their urine hitting an object above the ground’s surface, chances are they are doing so to maximize the value of the scent they are leaving behind.

It’s important to note how many peeing positions are perfectly normal for both male and female dogs. Which ones they use depends on many factors including the dog’s location, age, sex, and possibly their reproductive status. The only time to be concerned is when a dog that usually pees in one position switches to another. This could be a sign of pain or another medical problem that needs to be addressed.