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.

The Wrong Way to Train Your Dog Not to Jump Up on People

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker DVM

A misbehavior that is annoying, potentially dangerous, and also quite common in dogs is jumping up on people. It’s so common, in fact, that it feels like a natural canine reaction to the excitement of greeting a favorite human, or at least a human who is known to offer treats!

The person being jumped on is often reluctant to correct the behavior — especially if the dog is small — because, well, it’s nice to receive such a joyful, lavish welcome! However, failing to discourage jumping in your dog can have unforeseen consequences that are difficult to predict as you look down at her happy, fuzzy little face.

Experts generally agree that a dog’s behavior is almost always linked to something his owner, caretaker and/or trainer did or didn’t do at some point in her life. There are three behaviors in particular that most dog parents don’t appreciate but may be unintentionally reinforcing: begging, leash pulling and yes, jumping.

These behaviors have been making pet parents crazy forever, and they seem almost impossible to extinguish — perhaps because it’s actually easier to inadvertently encourage them than to train dogs not to perform them, and once trained, it’s also easy to undo your hard work.

Why Punishment Is Never the Right Approach

I think one of the most difficult concepts for dog parents to grasp when it comes to training their canine companion is that punishment is typically ineffective, and it’s often counterproductive. In other words, you can make your dog’s behavior worse using punitive tactics. As veterinary behaviorist Dr. Valarie Tynes explains:

“When punishment is used incorrectly, it will appear unpredictable and confusing, so many pets become anxious or fearful around the owner that administers the punishment. When punishment is used in an attempt to train an animal that is already afraid or anxious, [the] fear and anxiety are likely to worsen and may lead to aggression.”1

According to Tynes, three important rules must be met for punishment (correction) to be effective:

1.     The punishment must occur every time the unwanted behavior occurs

2.     The punishment must be administered within a second or two of the inappropriate behavior

3.     The punishment must be aversive enough to stop the dog from repeating the unwanted behavior in the future but not be so aversive as to frighten the dog

Unless your dog is physically tethered to you (e.g., you have him on a leash and the leash is attached to you in some manner), it will be extremely difficult to be on top of him when he misbehaves, and within a second or two of his mischief.

In addition, in my experience it’s the rare individual who can deliver “just enough” punishment to train a dog not to repeat the behavior without frightening him, or conversely, without teaching him to simply ignore verbal commands.

In other words, it’s easy to over-deliver or under-deliver punishment. If you allow anger into the equation, it can result in both physical and emotional harm to your dog. The flip side of the coin is punishment that’s so wishy-washy and non-committal the dog learns to simply ignore you. As Tynes points out:

“Meeting all three of these criteria can be difficult. That’s why punishment often fails to solve behavior problems and should not be the first training method of choice. Positive reinforcement training, in which animals are rewarded for appropriate behaviors, is safer and more effective.”

I absolutely agree with this, and can’t stress strongly enough the importance of positive reinforcement behavior training, not only to help your dog become a good canine citizen, but also to preserve and protect trust, and the close and precious bond you share with him.

Punishment Can Backfire With a Jumping Dog

Tynes gives the example of a dog who greets people by jumping up on them, and the owner’s response is to either knee the dog in the chest or kick her when she does it to them. As a result, the dog learns to avoid the owner because the kicking has caused her to be fearful. However, she continues to jump on everyone else.

“Many dogs are highly motivated to greet people by getting close to their faces,” Tynes explains. “In most cases, kneeing or kicking such a dog is less powerful than the dog’s desire to greet people by jumping on them.”

I think this is good information that can further your understanding of your dog’s motivation if he’s also a “jump greeter.” Just as some people greet everyone they meet with a big hug and a kiss, it seems there are dogs who are similarly inspired!

Since not everyone the jumping dog meets responds to her behavior with a knee or a kick (thank goodness), the punishment she receives is intermittent, and therefore ineffective. In addition, there are dogs who don’t perceive being kneed as punishment, but rather reinforcement because they’re receiving attention, albeit negative attention.

Kneeing a jumping dog or worse, kicking her as a form of punishment (or simply to keep her off you) doesn’t teach her a more acceptable behavior to replace the unacceptable one. In addition, you can cause injury to her and/or yourself using your knee or foot against her. And there’s also the issue of unintentionally reinforcing the bad behavior because you’re paying attention to her when she jumps.

A Better Way to Manage Your Jumper

Canine “jump greeters” need a replacement behavior that is equally motivating. Tynes suggests teaching your dog to sit to greet everyone. Sitting becomes the alternative behavior that gets rewarded with petting and/or a food treat.

While he’s being taught to sit to greet people, it’s important to stop reacting when he jumps on you. Turn your back, stand straight, and ignore him. This is the opposite of what he wants (attention) and sends the message that you don’t welcome his exuberant jumping routine.

The goal of positive reinforcement behavior training is to use very small-sized treats (pea sized is good, and you can even use frozen peas if your dog seems to like them) and verbal praise and affection to encourage desired behaviors in your dog.

1.     Come up with short, preferably one-word commands for the behaviors you want to teach your pet. Examples are Come, Sit, Stay, Down, Heel, Off, etc. Make sure all members of your family consistently use exactly the same command for each behavior.

2.     As soon as your dog performs the desired behavior, reward him immediately with a treat and verbal praise. Do this every time he responds appropriately to a command. You want him to connect the behavior he performed with the treat. This of course means you’ll need to have treats on you whenever you give your dog commands in the beginning.

3.     Keep training sessions short and fun. You want your dog to associate good things with obeying your commands. You also want to use training time as an opportunity to deepen your bond with your pet.

4.     Gradually back off the treats and use them only intermittently once your dog has learned a new behavior. Eventually they’ll no longer be necessary, but you should always reward him with verbal praise whenever he obeys a command.

 

5.     Continue to use positive reinforcement to maintain the behaviors you desire. Reward-based training helps create a range of desirable behaviors in your pet, which builds mutual feelings of trust and confidence.

No matter what you’re trying to train your dog to do or not do, consistency is the key to success. If your mind is often elsewhere during interactions with your dog, in an instant you can begin to unravel days, weeks or even months of training.

If your dog is a jumper or has other undesirable behaviors and you’re not sure you can deal with it on your own, talk with a positive dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist. You can also find directories of credentialed dog professionals at the following sites:

·         Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (C.C.P.D.T.)

·         International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (I.A.A.B.C.)

·         Karen Pryor Academy

·         Academy for Dog Trainers

·         Pet Professional Guild

 

 

Spoil Your Senior Pet with These Fun and Frugal Ideas

Spoil Your Senior Pet with These Fun and Frugal Ideas

by Cindy Aldridge

 

Seeing your pet age may not be easy, but you can still show your furry friend that you care with some special pampering. Older pets can still enjoy love, attention, and bonding with their humans. But there are other ways to treat your favorite friend without going beyond your budget. To ensure your senior pet is especially spoiled, try these frugal yet fun ideas.

Host a Senior Pet Spa Day

Grooming sessions at the puppy salon can add up quickly. A budget-friendly fix is to bring the doggie spa home instead. Everything from bathing and brushing to hair and nail trimming can happen at home.

Make sure to keep the right supplies on hand — like pup-friendly shampoo and conditioner, a waterproof collar for security, and treats for afterward. Investing in a pet-specific comb and some extra towels can help, too.

Not only is the DIY spa method cheaper for you, but it may also be less stressful for your senior pup. Older pets with vision, hearing, or mobility challenges may feel scared at the groomer’s, so staying home means more security and more fun in the bath.

Invest in Must-Haves for Aging Pets

When it comes to making your pet comfortable, you may want to spend whatever it takes. But with a narrow budget, you’ll need to make each purchase count.

Items like a soothing heated bed, raised food dishes, snacks to hide medications in, and older-pet food blends are practically necessities for your pet’s comfort and overall health. Fortunately, you can find a Chewy promo code to help make these must-haves more affordable.

Some senior pet products do lend themselves to DIY, such as steps to make your dog’s climb into bed easier, or you might make a simple ramp to help your aging pet navigate stairs more safely. Think about the biggest challenge to your pet’s mobility and brainstorm ways to make daily living easier.

Bake Special (Nutritious) Snacks

Store-bought snacks can be an excellent treat on occasion. But since many older pets have unique dietary needs, making critter snacks at home could become a regular routine in your household. From minty snacks that help freshen your pet’s breath to pumpkin-flavored bites, there are all types of treats you can bake at home.

Since you’re controlling the oven and ingredients, you can also make softer treats that are gentler on senior teeth — not to mention, kinder on the budget. Once you find the perfect recipe, baking could become both you and your senior pet’s new favorite hobby.

Make Tasty Diet Tweaks

Senior dogs have unique nutritional requirements, says the AKC, including a need for more protein, less sodium, and possibly even more fat. Each pet is different, but older animals, in general, do well with diets rich in L-carnitine, which is present in red meat, chicken, fish, and dairy.

Though you can purchase affordable supplements for your older pet, changing up their diet to feature tasty staples is also a great and more cost-effective idea. Many of the foods that are healthy for humans are great for animals, too. Foods like peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, and bananas are all great snacks to offer your senior pet, notes Whole Dog Journal. Bonus points if the tidbits come from your plate — everyone knows pets love to be treated like one of the family.

Even if they’re slowing down a bit, senior pets love pampering and special treats just as much as younger animals. With these frugal ideas, you don’t have to shell out a ton of cash to keep your pet comfortable and cared for. Need more ideas on showing your furry friend some TLC?

7 Ways to Ease Dog Arthritis in Cooler Weather

Reviewed and updated for accuracy on November 26, 2018, by Katie Grzyb, DVM


If you live with an arthritic dog, you know all too well that cooler weather can aggravate her symptoms. While there is no cure for arthritis in dogs, there are actionable, vet-recommended steps you can take to help relieve the pain, stiffness, joint popping and other dog arthritis symptoms.
Because your pup has specific health needs, always discuss any new treatment options with your veterinarian. Here are seven things you can do to help a dog with arthritis.

  1. Manage Your Dog’s Weight
    Veterinarians say weight control is one of the most important tools for managing arthritis in dogs. “The heavier our pets are, the more stress that gets placed on their joints. Studies have shown that keeping your dog lean can improve mobility and exercise tolerance,” says Dr. Liliana Mutascio, a veterinary surgeon with VetMed in Phoenix, Arizona.
    How can you tell if your pup is overweight? Dr. Mutascio says that “Ideally, you should be able to easily feel your pet’s ribs, and your pet should have a natural waistline when viewed from above and from the side.” Having your veterinarian perform regular weight and body condition scoring checks is ultimately the best way to monitor her weight.
    When consulting with your veterinarian about your dog’s diet, ask about dog hip and joint care dog food, like Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d joint care or Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets JM joint mobility.
    Dr. Mutascio says prescription dog food contains ingredients like fish oil that has omega-3 fatty acids for joint health. “There is some evidence that animals on these types of diets are more comfortable and require less anti-inflammatory medication.”
  2. Get Your Dog Moving
    Movement can provide pain relief for dogs with arthritis, says Dr. Elizabeth Knabe, a veterinarian with Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic in Marshfield, Wisconsin. “Dogs that move less due to arthritis get into a cycle of pain, causing less motion that then leads to stiffness. The stiffness makes it harder to move, which causes more pain.”
    Arthritic dogs should avoid high-impact activities like running, jumping and rough playing, says Dr. Mutascio, whose clinical interests include orthopedic surgery. “Instead, consistent and regular low-impact activities like leash walks and swimming can help avoid additional joint damage, as well as improve mobility. You should strive to achieve the same level of activity each day and avoid overdoing it on weekends.”
    If your dog is small or thin-haired, she may benefit from wearing a dog coat or dog sweater when it’s cold outside, says Dr. Jo Ann Morrison, a board-certified veterinary internist with Banfield Pet Hospital in the Portland, Oregon area. “But be careful when putting it on or taking it off, especially if you have to manipulate your dog’s legs. Consider coats or sweaters with Velcro attachments that wrap around, which may be easier to put on and take off.” (Examples are the Ultra Paws red plaid cozy dog coat and the Canada Pooch Everest explorer dog jacket.)
  3. Consider Dog Supplements
    Dog joint supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for dogs have natural anti-inflammatory properties, which can help ease joint pain associated with dog arthritis, says Dr. Mutascio.
    The caveat is that dog supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so the amount of active ingredients can vary, she adds. “Nutramax Dasuquin and Nutramax Cosequin are good name brands formulated for dogs that can be purchased over the counter or from your veterinarian. A joint supplement called Adequan canine injectable for dogs is also available and can be administered by a veterinarian.”
    Other key ingredients to look for in dog hip and joint care products are omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), phycocyanin and manganese, says Dr. Morrison. “Talk to your veterinarian about the best options for your dog based on their unique needs and medical history, while keeping in mind that some dogs may do better on multiple supplements,” she advises.
  4. Ask Your Veterinarian About Arthritis Pain Relief for Dogs
    Some dogs may occasionally need stronger pain medicine for dog arthritis pain, especially if they over-exert themselves, says Dr. Mutascio. “A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory dog medication called Galliprant tablets for dogs recently became available and is approved for use in dogs to treat pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. You can ask your veterinarian if this or other NSAIDs such as Rimadyl chewable tablets and Metacam (Meloxicam) oral suspension for dogs are right for your pet.”
    Since pain killers carry side effects, she recommends avoiding long-term use. “If your pet is on long-term pain killers, it is recommended that you visit your veterinarian regularly for checkups and blood tests to screen for systemic side effects,” she says.
  5. Prevent Falls and Slipping
    Falling can be especially painful for a dog with arthritis. To help your dog rise safely, consider using a sling or a dog lifting harness for additional support, offers Dr. Morrison. “Commercially available options … exist, but a large beach towel can also serve as a sling to provide support. If a sling is used, ensure it does not interfere with your dog’s ability to urinate.” (One option is the GingerLead support and rehabilitation unisex dog lifting harness.)
    To prevent falls and slipping outdoors, provide surfaces that give your dog better traction. You should also check your dog’s paws to make sure they’re free of snow, ice and dirt when they make their way back inside after a trip outdoors, says Morrison.
    Dr. Knabe says some dogs may benefit from the increased traction that dog socks or dog boots can offer. “These help arthritic dogs navigate smoother surfaces, as the rubber on the pad or nails acts like grippers we use on our shoes. These also help indoors on smooth flooring.” Products like Ultra Paws durable dog boots and Doggie Design non-skid dog socks provide pets with a little extra traction so they can maneuver safely.
    Dog steps and ramps can also help your pup get up onto the couch or bed safely without falling.
  6. Try Physical Therapy to Relieve Arthritis in Dogs
    Physical therapy can relieve some of the symptoms of arthritis in dogs. A veterinary physical therapist can tailor exercises for your dog’s specific needs, helping her to achieve low-impact activity levels, says Dr. Mutascio.
    “Often, an exercise regimen can be developed for use at home, with or without regular therapy appointments. Physical therapists may recommend additional therapies such as warm compress, massage and passive range of motion to help relieve discomfort and build muscle.”
    Other complementary treatments, like acupuncture, may also offer some relief, she says. “Ask your veterinarian about where you can pursue these options for your pet.”
  7. Provide Comfy Bedding
    Comfortable bedding is important for all dogs, but is especially essential for those who suffer with arthritis, says Dr. Morrison. “This could be an orthopedic mat, a memory foam bed or an elevated platform. Some dogs prefer a low-to-the-ground option that doesn’t require stepping up or over into a bed, so it may take some trial-and-error to find the best solution for your pet.”
    (Examples of orthopedic dog beds include the Frisco orthopedic sherpa cuddler and cushion dog and cat bed and the FurHaven plush and suede orthopedic sofa dog and cat bed.)
    While some dogs may enjoy additional heat, others might prefer cooler temps, says Dr. Morrison. “If using a heating pad or blanket (or heated dog bed), it is critically important to always keep it on the lowest setting, and ensure the heating element does not take up their entire bed or crate. Your pet needs to be able to quickly and easily move away from the heat if it becomes too warm. It’s also imperative to ensure there is always additional bedding in between your dog and the heating element. Never allow them to lie directly on top of a supplemental heat source.”
    If your dog has trouble going up and down staircases, be sure to set up your pet’s bedding appropriately so that they can nap in a comfortable spot without climbing stairs.
    While these tools can provide pain relief for dogs, keep in mind that every dog has individual needs, reminds Dr. Morrison. “As such, there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation for pets with arthritis. That is why it is important to monitor and keep track of what works best for your dog, what he or she does not tolerate as well—like temperature, environment and stairs—and partner with your veterinarian on their long-term care.”
    By Paula Fitzsimmons
  1. Manage Your Dog’s Weight
    Veterinarians say weight control is one of the most important tools for managing arthritis in dogs. “The heavier our pets are, the more stress that gets placed on their joints. Studies have shown that keeping your dog lean can improve mobility and exercise tolerance,” says Dr. Liliana Mutascio, a veterinary surgeon with VetMed in Phoenix, Arizona.
    How can you tell if your pup is overweight? Dr. Mutascio says that “Ideally, you should be able to easily feel your pet’s ribs, and your pet should have a natural waistline when viewed from above and from the side.” Having your veterinarian perform regular weight and body condition scoring checks is ultimately the best way to monitor her weight.
    When consulting with your veterinarian about your dog’s diet, ask about dog hip and joint care dog food, like Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d joint care or Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets JM joint mobility.
    Dr. Mutascio says prescription dog food contains ingredients like fish oil that has omega-3 fatty acids for joint health. “There is some evidence that animals on these types of diets are more comfortable and require less anti-inflammatory medication.”
  2. Get Your Dog Moving
    Movement can provide pain relief for dogs with arthritis, says Dr. Elizabeth Knabe, a veterinarian with Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic in Marshfield, Wisconsin. “Dogs that move less due to arthritis get into a cycle of pain, causing less motion that then leads to stiffness. The stiffness makes it harder to move, which causes more pain.”
    Arthritic dogs should avoid high-impact activities like running, jumping and rough playing, says Dr. Mutascio, whose clinical interests include orthopedic surgery. “Instead, consistent and regular low-impact activities like leash walks and swimming can help avoid additional joint damage, as well as improve mobility. You should strive to achieve the same level of activity each day and avoid overdoing it on weekends.”
    If your dog is small or thin-haired, she may benefit from wearing a dog coat or dog sweater when it’s cold outside, says Dr. Jo Ann Morrison, a board-certified veterinary internist with Banfield Pet Hospital in the Portland, Oregon area. “But be careful when putting it on or taking it off, especially if you have to manipulate your dog’s legs. Consider coats or sweaters with Velcro attachments that wrap around, which may be easier to put on and take off.” (Examples are the Ultra Paws red plaid cozy dog coat and the Canada Pooch Everest explorer dog jacket.)
  3. Consider Dog Supplements
    Dog joint supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for dogs have natural anti-inflammatory properties, which can help ease joint pain associated with dog arthritis, says Dr. Mutascio.
    The caveat is that dog supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so the amount of active ingredients can vary, she adds. “Nutramax Dasuquin and Nutramax Cosequin are good name brands formulated for dogs that can be purchased over the counter or from your veterinarian. A joint supplement called Adequan canine injectable for dogs is also available and can be administered by a veterinarian.”
    Other key ingredients to look for in dog hip and joint care products are omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), phycocyanin and manganese, says Dr. Morrison. “Talk to your veterinarian about the best options for your dog based on their unique needs and medical history, while keeping in mind that some dogs may do better on multiple supplements,” she advises.
  4. Ask Your Veterinarian About Arthritis Pain Relief for Dogs
    Some dogs may occasionally need stronger pain medicine for dog arthritis pain, especially if they over-exert themselves, says Dr. Mutascio. “A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory dog medication called Galliprant tablets for dogs recently became available and is approved for use in dogs to treat pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. You can ask your veterinarian if this or other NSAIDs such as Rimadyl chewable tablets and Metacam (Meloxicam) oral suspension for dogs are right for your pet.”
    Since pain killers carry side effects, she recommends avoiding long-term use. “If your pet is on long-term pain killers, it is recommended that you visit your veterinarian regularly for checkups and blood tests to screen for systemic side effects,” she says.
  5. Prevent Falls and Slipping
    Falling can be especially painful for a dog with arthritis. To help your dog rise safely, consider using a sling or a dog lifting harness for additional support, offers Dr. Morrison. “Commercially available options … exist, but a large beach towel can also serve as a sling to provide support. If a sling is used, ensure it does not interfere with your dog’s ability to urinate.” (One option is the GingerLead support and rehabilitation unisex dog lifting harness.)
    To prevent falls and slipping outdoors, provide surfaces that give your dog better traction. You should also check your dog’s paws to make sure they’re free of snow, ice and dirt when they make their way back inside after a trip outdoors, says Morrison.
    Dr. Knabe says some dogs may benefit from the increased traction that dog socks or dog boots can offer. “These help arthritic dogs navigate smoother surfaces, as the rubber on the pad or nails acts like grippers we use on our shoes. These also help indoors on smooth flooring.” Products like Ultra Paws durable dog boots and Doggie Design non-skid dog socks provide pets with a little extra traction so they can maneuver safely.
    Dog steps and ramps can also help your pup get up onto the couch or bed safely without falling.
  6. Try Physical Therapy to Relieve Arthritis in Dogs
    Physical therapy can relieve some of the symptoms of arthritis in dogs. A veterinary physical therapist can tailor exercises for your dog’s specific needs, helping her to achieve low-impact activity levels, says Dr. Mutascio.
    “Often, an exercise regimen can be developed for use at home, with or without regular therapy appointments. Physical therapists may recommend additional therapies such as warm compress, massage and passive range of motion to help relieve discomfort and build muscle.”
    Other complementary treatments, like acupuncture, may also offer some relief, she says. “Ask your veterinarian about where you can pursue these options for your pet.”
  7. Provide Comfy Bedding
    Comfortable bedding is important for all dogs, but is especially essential for those who suffer with arthritis, says Dr. Morrison. “This could be an orthopedic mat, a memory foam bed or an elevated platform. Some dogs prefer a low-to-the-ground option that doesn’t require stepping up or over into a bed, so it may take some trial-and-error to find the best solution for your pet.”
    (Examples of orthopedic dog beds include the Frisco orthopedic sherpa cuddler and cushion dog and cat bed and the FurHaven plush and suede orthopedic sofa dog and cat bed.)
    While some dogs may enjoy additional heat, others might prefer cooler temps, says Dr. Morrison. “If using a heating pad or blanket (or heated dog bed), it is critically important to always keep it on the lowest setting, and ensure the heating element does not take up their entire bed or crate. Your pet needs to be able to quickly and easily move away from the heat if it becomes too warm. It’s also imperative to ensure there is always additional bedding in between your dog and the heating element. Never allow them to lie directly on top of a supplemental heat source.”
    If your dog has trouble going up and down staircases, be sure to set up your pet’s bedding appropriately so that they can nap in a comfortable spot without climbing stairs.
    While these tools can provide pain relief for dogs, keep in mind that every dog has individual needs, reminds Dr. Morrison. “As such, there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation for pets with arthritis. That is why it is important to monitor and keep track of what works best for your dog, what he or she does not tolerate as well—like temperature, environment and stairs—and partner with your veterinarian on their long-term care.”
    By Paula Fitzsimmons

Top 3 Reasons Your Dog Vomits Yellow & What To Do About It

By Rita Hogan
Dogs vomit.
Anyone who’s spent a lot of time around canines knows this for a fact.
The most common form of vomit is bile or bile reflux. It’s yellow or greenish in color and usually odorless.
This is yellow bile vomit. It can have the consistency of goo, be full of mucus … or air-filled and foamy.
Your dog vomiting might cause you concern … but yellow bile in vomit is actually quite normal.

What Is Bile?
Bile comes from the liver and gallbladder.
It breaks down fats and oils in the small intestine … it helps your dog’s body to absorb nutrients.
The digestive process uses bile continuously throughout the day. The liver and gallbladder release bile into the small intestine … to prepare for digestion.
Bile is essential for proper digestion in small amounts. But it sometimes builds up in the stomach or gastrointestinal tract. And then it can cause your dog to feel uncomfortable and vomit.
Bile can often accumulate and flow through the pyloric sphincter into the stomach. It then travels up into the esophagus (between the stomach and mouth).
The pyloric sphincter is usually a one-way valve. But sometimes due to pressure … or not able to close properly, bile flows in the wrong direction.
So let’s talk about why your dog might vomit bile.
3 Common Reasons Your Dog Throws Up Bile
Here are some of the common reasons your dog might vomit yellow bile.

1 Inflammation

Heat in the gastrointestinal tract can be a reason your dog vomits bile.
Heat can come from inflammation in the stomach and small intestine. This happens when fluids that circulate run low.
So when your dog has an empty stomach … he might vomit bile.
Lack of food can cause bile to build up and irritate your dog’s stomach lining. Usually this happens overnight … so your dog will throw up soon after he wakes up.
Acids in a dog’s stomach are similar to ours … but digestive secretions aren’t released in the same way.
Your dog’s digestive system releases bile and enzymes even if he hasn’t eaten.
This type of bile vomiting is sometimes known as bilious vomiting syndrome. People also call it hunger pukes.
This type of vomit cools the stomach and brings down heat. As dogs age, vomit happens more due to an empty stomach.
What To Do About It
This condition has an easy fix:
• Feed smaller meals and …
• Give your dog a snack at bedtime
These two things will help him avoid nausea in the morning.

2 Feeding Kibble

Feeding your dog kibble can cause bile vomit.
Kibble can dry out the digestive tract and increase heat. Kibble absorbs moisture in the digestive tract. That causes the stomach to expand and overproduce stomach acids.
What To Do About It
Feed your dog a fresh, whole food, raw diet. This is always the best choice for your dog.
But … if you must feed kibble, divide it up into 3 or 4 small meals and feed throughout the day.

3 Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities can cause inflammation (gastritis) … which leads to bile reflux.
Certain foods cause an immune response and rapid inflammation. This produces excess bile and nausea.
In this situation … you may also see diarrhea from heightened food motility through the intestines. You’ll also likely see undigested food in the stool.
While there are common reactive foods like soy, corn and wheat … any type of food can cause a reaction.
It can often happen if you give foods that are too warm or cooling for your dog’s individual constitution. (This article lists neutral, warming and cooling foods.)
New foods or additions to your dog’s current diet can also be upsetting to the stomach. When you introduce a new food, try it first in a separate meal before adding it to your dog’s regular food.
Gastritis is a fancy word for an irritated stomach.
Sometimes you’ll see your dog eat grass or dirt … and then throw up yellow bile mixed with grass. Dogs do this to help cool the stomach. Gastritis is usually due to food sensitivities.
What To Do About It
If your dog has severe gastritis … give his digestive system a break by:
• Fasting for 24 to 48 hours, or …
• Giving room temperature or slightly warmed bone broth for 24 to 48 hours
Inflammatory vomiting weakens the spleen. So it’s important to avoid serving your dog’s food cold or straight out of the fridge.
If your dog frequently vomits bile, here are some other things that can help you get to the bottom of it.
Keep A Journal Of Your Dog’s Schedule
Record your dog’s daily eating (and vomiting) habits. Keep notes of:
• Your dog’s mealtimes
• What food he eats
• When he vomits
• What day and time
• What it looks like
• Any other symptoms
It can be helpful to snap a picture of the vomit. You can keep it to compare later … or to show your vet if you have to take your dog in for an exam.
Sometimes your dog may have other symptoms along with vomiting yellow bile. You may see diarrhea, fever, low appetite or lethargy.
Jot down details about the who, what, where and when. It can help you recognize patterns you might not notice otherwise.
4 Herbal Solutions For Yellow Vomit
Here are some herbs you can use to help with your dog’s yellow vomit. Read the descriptions and find the one that best fits your dog.

1 Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet is good for acidity in the stomach, over-reactivity and pain. It’s well indicated for dogs who are thin, cool and lacking vitality.
Meadowsweet Dosage
Dried herb: Give twice daily with food:
• 150 mg. for extra small dogs to small dogs
• 300 mg for medium dogs,
• 500 mg for large to extra large dogs
Tincture: 1 drop for every 10 pounds twice daily before eating. Dilute in a small amount of water and drop into mouth.

2 Marshmallow Root

Marshmallow root calms the stomach and decreases heat. It coats and soothes the gastrointestinal tract, bringing down inflammation.
Marshmallow Root Dosage
Use a capsule of marshmallow or take chopped root and infuse it in cold water overnight. You can give either one with food.
For capsules, use the following amounts twice daily:
• 1/2 capsule for small dogs,
• 1 capsule for medium to large dogs
• 3 capsules daily for extra-large dogs (2 capsules morning and 1 in the evening).
For an infusion, take 2 Tbsp of marshmallow root to 2 cups water and let it sit overnight. Strain and give these amounts twice daily:
• 2 tsp for extra small dogs
• 3 tsp for small dogs
• 2 Tbsp for large dogs
• 4 Tbsp for extra large dogs

3 Chamomile

Chamomile helps decrease spasms and inflammation in the digestive tract. It coats and soothes the mucosa and tissues. It also helps prevent acid and bile reflux.
Chamomile Dosage
Make an infusion with 2 Tbsp of chamomile to 1 cup of almost boiling water. Let steep for 30 minutes. Let it cool and strain. Give these amounts 2 to 3 times a day:
• 1-2 tsp for extra small dogs
• 3 tsp for small dogs
• 1-2 Tbsp for large dogs
• 3-4 Tbsp for extra large dogs
Chamomile Blends
When there’s inflammation (gastritis) in the digestive tract I like to use a combination of herbs. You can mix chamomile and lemon balm leaf infusion with marshmallow glycerite.
Directions: Infuse chamomile and lemon balm as described above. Mix 4 oz of cooled infusion with 20 drops of marshmallow. Use the same dosage schedule as the chamomile infusion.
Here’s another blend for yellow vomiting, from holistic veterinarian Cheryl Swartz. (She’s the author of Four Paws Five Directions). It’s a mix of goldenseal root, dandelion root and chamomile. It cools and calms the stomach and removes stagnation from the liver.
Directions: Blend the following ingredients:
• 1 oz of spring water
• 10 drops of golden seal tincture
• 5 drops of dandelion root tincture
• 5 drops of chamomile tincture
Give these amounts 2-3 times a day.
• 1/2 dropper for small dogs
• 1-2 droppers for medium dogs
• 2-3 droppers for large dogs

4 Licorice

Licorice coats the digestive tract and has a cooling effect. You can use it short-term for reducing acute bile vomiting as well as heartburn.
Licorice Dosage
Use a licorice glycerine extract. Give these amounts twice daily, on an empty stomach, for 1-10 days during an active episode of bile vomiting.
• 3 drops for extra small dogs
• 5 drops for small dogs
• 8 drops for medium dogs
• 12 drops for large dogs
• 15 drops for extra large dogs
In most cases, vomiting bile is something you can resolve yourself at home. But there are some times when you might need to consult your holistic veterinarian.
When To See A Vet
Vomiting yellow bile is common. But sometimes your dog may have other symptoms that mean it’s more serious.
Let’s go over a few conditions that warrant bringing your dog to the vet.
Intestinal Blockage
Some dogs will eat things that aren’t edible … like socks or hard toys. These objects can cause a blockage inside the digestive tract.
If your dog’s vomiting bile but also has constipation or can’t keep any fluids down … take him to the vet right away.
Bloat or GDV
Torsion or bloat is another type of blockage. It’s also called GDV – gastric dilation and volvulus. This is a deadly condition and it happens fast!
The stomach fills with gas and twists, closing it off at both ends. If your dog has some of these symptoms, don’t delay in getting him to a vet.
• Vomiting yellow or white foam, or trying to vomit with nothing coming out
• Drooling
• Tight stomach
• Lethargy
• Pale gums
• Restlessness
• Looks distressed
Don’t stop to wonder about it. Timing is everything when it comes to bloat.
Giardia
Giardia is a parasite that causes vomiting. Yellow bile vomit can be one giardia symptom. Other symptoms include profuse diarrhea and possible lethargy.
If you suspect that your dog has giardia, take a fecal sample to the vet for analysis. If the test is positive, here are some natural ways to manage it.
Pancreatitis
Inflammation of the pancreas is painful and sometimes serious. Pancreatitis is usually because your dog can’t digest fats and oils.
Pancreatitis can be either acute or chronic. Symptoms include lethargy, spasms, decreased appetite, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
If you see these symptoms, it’s best to get your dog into the vet for an exam.

Severe Gastrointestinal Upset
If your dog has chronic, severe yellow bile vomiting … it can be a symptom of a larger gastrointestinal issue. This could include things like cancer, ulcers, or chronic inflammation.
In these cases your dog may have additional symptoms like …
• Loss of appetite
• Lethargy
• Dehydration
• Fever
• Weight loss
When your dog vomits yellow bile without any other symptoms, it isn’t anything to worry about. Just keep in mind the above situations that warrant a trip to the vet.
Most of the time, you can troubleshoot vomiting yellow bile at home.
Rita Hogan CH– is a canine herbalist and co-founder of Farm Dog Naturals, an herbal remedy company for the All-Natural Dog. Rita combines nature with her love for dogs by offering consulting that focuses on dogs as individuals: mind, body and spirit. Her practice incorporates herbal medicine, complementary therapies and environmental stewardship to help dogs and people find balance and partnership with nature. Connect with Rita through her website canineherbalist.com

Why Is My Dog Scared of Everything?

Reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM
By: Victoria Schade


If your dog is scared of literally EVERYTHING, then you understand that life with a fearful dog can be limiting.
Instead of greeting the world with a confident walk and a wagging tail, a fearful dog might shy away from anything new, or worse yet, react preemptively to avoid a new situation altogether.
It’s not easy for a pet parent to admit that their dog is scared of everything because trying to work through those fears can be overwhelming.
Fearfulness does have a place in the wild; it increases an animal’s chance of survival by keeping them away from danger. But when your dog is acting strange and scared in everyday life, it’s stressful for both ends of the leash and can even have long-term health implications.
Let’s take a look at why certain dogs are scared of everything, how to recognize fearful behaviors, which situations trigger fear, and how you can help your dog deal with their fear.
What Makes a Dog Scared of Everything?
Dogs that seem scared of everything can be products of nature and nurture. A dog’s genetic makeup, early experiences, environment and daily life can all have an impact on their temperament.
Lack of Socialization
A common reason for fear in dogs is a lack of positive exposure to new people, animals and environments during the critical fear period of the puppy socialization process.
This important developmental stage in a puppy’s life occurs between 8 and 16 weeks of age, when pups need to have a variety of pleasant interactions with the world around them.
Puppies that don’t have positive exposure to the world around them might be more likely to be wary of anything new or unusual. This can lead them to be scared of things we wouldn’t associate with fear, like people wearing large hats or having a stroller/skateboard/skater go past you.
Genetic Predispositions
However, some nervous dogs might also have a genetic predisposition to fearfulness or shyness. Puppies born to anxious mothers are more likely to be fearful as well.
Traumatic Experiences
For some dogs, all it takes is a single traumatic experience to create lifelong fear responses. For example, a dog that’s caught off guard by firecrackers during a walk might then generalize that fear response to any loud noise—like a car door slamming—and might also develop a fear of walking anywhere near where it happened.
Pain
It’s important to note that some behaviors that look like fear might be related to pain. Dogs that seem “hand shy” and nervous about being touched might actually be dealing with an undiagnosed medical issue.
Your veterinarian can help you determine whether your dog is experiencing pain or suffering from fear-based issues.

Recognizing Fear in Dogs
The first step to helping a dog that’s scared of everything is understanding their body language.
Some fear displays are hard to miss—like a trembling, hunched-over dog that has their ears back and tail tucked. But learning to recognize subtler fear reactions will allow you to intervene before your dog’s fear escalates.
Some of the telltale signs of fear in dogs include:
• Trembling or shivering
• Hunched body with head down
• Ears back
• Tail tucked
• Hair standing up on the neck and back
• Growling
• Showing teeth
A dog that’s afraid might also show these more subtle signs:
• Freezing in place
• Moving in slow-motion
• Repeatedly licking their lips
• Yawning frequently
• Trying to move away from the stressor
• Panting heavily or suddenly stops panting
Keep in mind that some behaviors that look like aggression, like leash reactivity and barking, can also be signs of an underlying fear of something.
Common Things That Dogs Are Scared Of and How You Can Help
Many dog fears are universal—it’s rare that a dog actually enjoys a trip to the vet—however, a dog that’s scared of everything might have a difficult time coping with common, everyday noises or encounters.
Loud Noises
It’s almost impossible to avoid having a startle reflex when you hear an unexpected loud noise, but dogs that are scared of everything will react more dramatically to noises.
For example, a typical dog might jump at the sound of a dropped pan, but a fearful dog might run, hide and then refuse to come out.
How to help:
If your dog only reacts to certain types of noises, like sirens or fireworks or thunder, you can use behavioral modification to help your dog learn to tolerate the sound. Use a recording of the sound to gradually desensitize him to the noise by playing it at a low volume and pairing it with treats.
Increase the sound over a series of training sessions, watching your dog’s body language to make sure that he isn’t becoming uncomfortable with the noise. If your dog is trying to cope with ongoing scary sounds like construction noise, use a white noise machine to muffle the sounds.
Children
Kids can be fast, loud and unpredictable, and because of that, they can be challenging for even the most even-tempered dogs.
But dogs with generalized fear reactions will find children even more distressing, particularly because a child doesn’t understand canine body language and will have a hard time recognizing when a fearful dog is trying to get away.
How to help:
If you don’t typically have children in your home, it’s easiest to manage your dog’s behavior by keeping him in a safe, quiet space when small guests visit.
If you discover that your new dog is fearful around your own children, make sure that he has an area where he can spend time away from them. Then you will need to find a positive-reinforcement dog trainer to help you assess the situation and create a training plan that keeps everyone safe.
Other Dogs
Unfortunately, not every dog wants to be friends with his own kind, particularly timid dogs. If a dog hasn’t had the opportunity to meet dog friends and develop canine language skills, he might wind up feeling overwhelmed when faced with other pups.
How to help:
Helping fearful dogs learn to feel more confident around other dogs requires a slow approach and a good understanding of canine body language. You will need to slowly work through dog introductions in order to keep your dog feeling comfortable.
For dogs that are mildly uncomfortable around other dogs, you should find a mellow, dog-savvy dog and try walking them together, at the same pace but with distance between them. When both dogs seem relaxed, gradually begin to bring them closer together, making sure that they remain calm and happy as they get closer.
Keep early introductions short and end sessions before the nervous dog gets overwhelmed. And remember that making friends with one dog doesn’t mean the behavior will generalize to all dogs.
Strangers
Some dogs are uncomfortable around people that look different from their family (for example, large men with beards or people wearing hats and bulky jackets), but dogs that are afraid of anyone outside their family can make going into public or having guests over traumatic.
How to help:
Using desensitization and counter-conditioning can help a stranger-shy dog start to overcome his fears.
To begin, figure out your dog’s “buffer zone”—the area at which he can remain calm when faced with a stranger. Then have the stranger come into view at the edge of that buffer zone and feed your dog a bunch of extra-special treats that he doesn’t normally get.
Continue giving treats while the person is in view for a few seconds, then have the stranger disappear.
Gradually bridge the gap between your dog and the person over a series of training sessions. Always watch your dog’s body language to make sure they remain calm and confident throughout the training process.
Going Outside
Sometimes the world outside your front door is a scary place. Dogs that move to a different environment, like from the suburbs to the city, might find the noise and crowds in their new neighborhood overwhelming.
Similarly, a traumatic experience outside, like having a fight with another dog, can be enough to create an overwhelming fear of going outside.
How to help:
Dogs that are afraid to leave their home can benefit from a training process called “shaping.” Shaping makes it easier for dogs to face their fears by breaking behaviors down into manageable steps and rewarding the dog for making progress toward the finished product.
Pet parents can begin the process by standing near the door with a handful of treats. When your dog makes any movement towards the door, mark the behavior with a clicker or verbal marker like, “good!” then toss a treat to your dog. Continue to build on and reward each step towards the door until your dog is able to cross the threshold.
Be Patient With Your Dog
Keep in mind that a fearful dog should always set the pace for training. Trying to push a nervous dog beyond his comfort zone could derail the training process, so be patient and encourage your fearful pup as he learns to be a more confident dog.
Talk with your veterinarian about pairing training and desensitization efforts with natural, holistic calming supplements or pheromone collars. Sometimes, medication is very helpful to calm some dogs in certain situations if natural options have not worked. Also, working with a veterinary behaviorist may be the best option if all other routes have failed.
By: Victoria Schade

Defining Senior Age in Dogs

Reviewed and updated for accuracy on May 13, 2019 by Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, DVM, PhD as seen in PetMD

 

Our pets are family no matter their age. We love senior dogs just as much as when they were puppies, but some of us might be in denial when it comes to admitting that they’ve entered their senior years.

And it can also be confusing knowing exactly when you should call your pup a senior, especially when that range is different for different breeds and sizes of dogs.

Here’s a guide for determining when your dog is truly considered to be a senior and recognizing signs of health issues so you can adapt her care to fit her needs.

Is There a Set Range for a Senior Dog’s Age?

According to the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the term “senior” can describe an aging pet, but the number of years a pet is considered to be “senior” varies.

Identifiers such as weight, breed and the state of their organs can also help determine if your pet has reached old age.

“Though many old guidelines talk about seven dog years being equal to one human year, the size of the dog really depends on the extent to which you can follow that rule,” says Dr. Heidi Lobprise, DVM, DAVDC, and spokesperson for the International Veterinary Senior Care Society.

For example, large dogs will typically age faster than smaller dogs. “For a dog between 20-40 pounds, these guidelines are more effective, but it’s not uncommon to see a geriatric Great Dane at age 7 or a Chihuahua in [his] 20s,” Dr. Lobprise says. 

In most cases, however, dogs can be considered senior between 5 and 10 years old.

“The terms ‘geriatric’ and ‘senior’ also differ,” Dr. Lobprise says. “While a dog may be considered senior, they’re likely still healthy or just beginning to experience signs of aging. Geriatric animals are at the older end of the aging spectrum and often experience more health-related issues.”

Signs of Aging for Senior Dogs

“There is a wide range of factors to help you recognize signs of aging in your pet—many of them similar to the signs of aging in people,” Dr. Lobprise says. Some of these factors may be more obvious, like an intolerance to exercise or limited mobility, while others are much more subtle.

Your pet’s behavior may also help indicate signs of aging. While cats don’t always show that something is wrong until their issues become more advanced, many dogs are more demonstrative and vocal with their discomfort.

Here are some things to keep an eye on:

Eating Patterns and Weight

You’ll want to monitor your dog’s eating patterns and body weight, as obesity can cause issues, including osteoarthritis and diabetes. A too-thin animal or dog that won’t eat could be having dental or stomach issues.

Sleeping Patterns and Cognitive Health

Sleeping patterns and cognitive behavior are also things to look out for. A dog that isn’t aware of his surroundings or has difficulty recognizing people may be experiencing early canine dementia.

Drinking Patterns and Urination

“A less obvious but just as important sign of aging is how much your pet is drinking and urinating,” Dr. Lobprise says. How much your pet is or isn’t drinking can be indicative of many problems, from endocrine issues to kidney disease.

Urinary incontinence in female dogs may also be a sign of trouble. It’s challenging to watch for, especially in multi-pet households, but should be monitored if possible.

Monitoring your dog’s urination and defecation on walks can be a useful tool. Even if both are normal, you may notice your senior dog being slower or more resistant to posturing.

Lumps and Bumps

Being aware of your pet’s overall body condition may also help you spot any abnormalities, like cancer.

“We’re keeping animals healthier and healthier now, and as our pet population is graying, an eventual cause of death is cancer, especially in specific breeds,” Dr. Lobprise says. “We need to be aware of lumps and bumps.”

Many dogs develop lumps and bumps while they age. Not every lump will need to be tested or removed, but keeping track of them can avoid problems. Lumps that are new, growing or are different from the other ones on your pet can indicate a problem.

Recognizing Common Diseases for Senior Dogs

“A very common and preventable disease that is prevalent in senior pets is dental disease,” Dr. Lobprise says. “While it’s not always a serious disease to have, it is one worth paying attention to and can change your dog’s demeanor if treated early and effectively.”

You can spot periodontal disease by smelling your dog’s breath and regularly checking their teeth and gums for signs of bacterial infection, such as inflammation, reddened gums and tartar.

Left untreated, dental issues can impact a dog’s heart, kidneys and the rest of the body. If dental disease is causing discomfort, it may make your dog not want to eat, which can lead to all sorts of other problems; that is why your veterinarian recommends regular dental cleanings.

Kidney and liver disease can be an issue for both cats and dogs, as can heart valve disease. Endocrine issues, including those impacting the adrenal glands and thyroid, can also affect aging dogs.

Hypothyroidism can make older dogs feel lethargic and potentially gain weight.

Unfortunately, Dr. Lobprise says, it’s more common for multiple problems to compound each other in senior pets than in younger animals.

Your pet’s cognitive function is also a common issue; are they aware of their surroundings? Do they recognize their people? There are minor, natural declines in cognition as a part of the aging process, but as it advances, it can disrupt a pet’s quality of life.

Working With Your Veterinarian

Dr. Lobprise recommends getting senior animals checked by their vets at least twice a year, complete with blood work, urine analysis and a full body examination, in addition to yearly dental cleaning, if needed.

Unfortunately, however, the AAHA reports that only 14 percent of senior animals have regular health screenings as recommended by their vets. Having just an annual exam may [allow an issue to] progress into something worse that can impact the life span of your dog,” Dr. Lobprise says.

“Whether it’s kidney disease, heart disease or cancer, the earlier something is caught, the better,” Dr. Lobprise adds.

Talk to your veterinarian about what and how much your pet is eating, as different conditions will require different dietary needs to maintain a healthy weight. Some senior pets benefit from prescription dog food diets aimed to help treat specific diseases.

You should also take into consideration their lean muscle mass and body score. Your pet could be the same weight as always, but they may be retaining fluids and losing muscle as a result of some illness. To help keep track and recognize changes in your dog’s weight, you can take photos or keep a body score chart at home.

Depression and anxiety can also be issues with older pets, so you’ll want to discuss this and any other behavior-related issues with your veterinarian. Your vet can provide you with prescription pet medication to help ease anxiety and behavior modification training tools, but you’ll also want to make sure their lives at home are as comfortable as possible.

“When looking at the senior or geriatric pet, there will be some rough days,” Dr. Lobprise says.  

As a pet parent, you can help your pets thrive in their senior years by first admitting that they are indeed seniors, taking them twice a year to the vet for a checkup, and looking out for any issues that require your vet’s immediate attention.

By: Jessica Remitz