Can Weather Affect a Dog's Behavior
Sep 22
Can Weather Affect a Dog's Behavior

Wind, thunder, heat, gray skies--these can all affect Doggie's behavior and mood. However, like people, dogs can have their own unique quirks when it comes to reacting to weather. Some dogs are particularly scared of thunder, while others ignore it. Some dogs don't mind the dark winter months while others can appear depressed and lethargic. The same is true of other weather phenomena -- it just depends on the dog and how sensitive he is.  

What Are Brachycephalic Dogs?
Jul 20
What Are Brachycephalic Dogs?

If you've never heard of brachycephalic dogs, you might think that this term refers to some type of canine disorder that you would want to avoid. But the truth is that this term applies to some of the most popular and beloved dog breeds. Here's all you need to know about these adorable short-nosed dogs.

What Are Brachycephalic Dogs?

Brachycephalic literally means "short-headed," explains the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. This term refers to dogs and dog breeds with shortened snouts. Popular brachycephalic breeds include English and French bulldogs, bull mastiffs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos and Pekingese, among others. The term can also be applied to mixed breed dogs that inherited this trait from brachycephalic ancestors. Brachycephalic dogs tend to have extremely shortened snouts that make them almost appear flat-faced, which differentiates them from some breeds that simply have shorter snouts.

Are There Special Health Concerns for Brachycephalic Dogs?

While not all of these dogs have associated health problems, the shape of the nose and head of a brachycephalic dog can place them at risk for a condition called brachycephalic airway syndrome, says Dr. Cheryl Yuill for Veterinary Centers of America. There are four distinct upper airway abnormalities that can cause this condition, and a brachycephalic dog can have one or more of these abnormalities.

They include:

  • Stenotic nares: Small or narrow nostrils, which can restrict the airflow into the nostrils when the dog breathes through his nose.
  • Elongated soft palate: The soft palate — the soft tissue on the roof of the mouth — is too long and extends into the back of the throat, which causes blockage to the trachea.
  • Hypoplastic trachea: The windpipe, or trachea, is narrower in diameter than what is normal.
  • Everted laryngeal saccules: Laryngeal saccules are small sacs located just inside the dog's larynx. These can become everted, or turned outwards, when a dog struggles to breathe through narrowed nostrils or an elongated soft palate. Although this abnormality is typically caused by one of the above abnormalities, it can lead to additional obstruction of a dog's airway.

Dogs that suffer from this syndrome typically have a history of loud snoring and noisy breathing. They may also have a sensitive gag reflex, or be prone to reverse sneezing or tracheal collapse. The gums or tongue can sometimes turn blue from lack of oxygen, and overexertion or over-excitement can lead to collapse. Because of their breathing difficulties, these dogs tend to have a low tolerance for vigorous exercise and are highly susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Because these conditions and their symptoms are exacerbated by obesity, the first line of treatment for an overweight dog with this condition is usually to be put on a weight-loss meal plan. Mild cases can usually be managed by controlling the dog's weight, monitoring exercise levels, keeping the dog out of heat and humidity, and reducing or avoiding stress. For short-term treatment of flare-ups that cause respiratory distress, veterinarians might prescribe corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and/or treat the dog with oxygen. More severe cases may require surgery to improve airflow.

Why Do Brachycephalic Dogs Exist?

If short-nosed dogs are so prone to health problems, then why are they so popular? And how did they come to be in the first place?

A study published in PLOS One, suggests two theories. One is that certain breeds, such as the English bulldog, were selectively bred to develop this trait in order to make them better at fighting. It was believed that shorter snouts created stronger jaws that would give these dogs an advantage in fighting and in hunting. Another theory is that ancient dog owners tended to choose and breed smaller, short-nosed dogs because the shape of the head reminded them of human infants.

As for why the popularity of these dogs persists in spite of their associated health risks — for one thing, they're just really cute. For another, these breeds have their own traits that make them appealing to dog lovers. When you take the whole dog into consideration, dealing with the health challenges of these breeds is a small price to pay for companionship. However, there are places around the world that are making efforts to stop the breeding of Brachycephalic dogs like the bulldog because of the inherit health risks that their shorter snouts impose. Those concerned with these types of breeds, including veterinarians, are worried about the overall health and quality of life that these dogs lead. Because the risk for breathing problems is greater in brachycephalic dogs, those in opposition to their breeding suggest that it isn't fair to breed these types of dogs just for their looks when it can have an effect on their overall health.

So, if you are considering adopting a short-nosed dog be sure to consult a veterinarian ahead of time to get all the details on how to best care for him. These dogs can still live long, happy lives with proper care and regular veterinarian checkups. Remember that while dogs provide great companionship, it is the responsibility of the parent to be diligent in maintaining their overall health and happiness.

Article by: Jean Marie Bauhaus and Hills


Summer Time And Your Pets
Jun 23
Summer Time And Your Pets

Summer time is here and so are the high temperatures. Please don't leave your fur babies out in the heat and unattended. Make sure they have plenty of water and shade. A Kiddie pool is a great way for them to keep cool and hydrated. If you are going for a walk early morning and early evenings are the best time. Remember the pavement is hot and can burn the pads of their paws. Also with all the rain we have to keep an eye out for the threat of Bufo Toads. If they come in contact with one of these potentially deadly toads, rinse their mouth with water from side to side. Do not force the water down their throats. They can begin foaming at the mouth and having seizures. Seek medical attention immediately.  

Hot Asphalt And Your Dogs Paws
Apr 28
Hot Asphalt And Your Dogs Paws

As we humans escape into our homes that are air conditioned or cooled with fans we wonder why our dogs might be acting sluggish or begging to get back inside. Have you ever noticed dogs who refuse to walk at an event and just plops himself down? Paws scorching on the Asphalt could be the problem… not your dog being stubborn. 

How To Introduce A Dog To A Cat
Mar 31
How To Introduce A Dog To A Cat

Can cats get along with dogs? The answer is simply yes, says Dr. Liz Bales, a Philadelphia veterinarian. As long as pet parents take their time and follow a few simple rules for introducing cats to dogs, there’s no reason why felines and canines can’t develop a harmonious relationship.

Keep Them Separated

If you are bringing a new dog or cat into your home, it’s important that the pet gets adjusted to a new space without the added stress of additional animals right away. In this instance, Bales suggests keeping the cat in a separate environment with plenty of stimulation for several days.

A closed bedroom or large bathroom decked out with scratching posts, toys, food, water and the litter box is the perfect option for a new cat. Be sure to also give him a lot of attention during this time. If you’re bringing home a new dog, consider keeping your existing cat in a separate portion of the house and follow crate-training protocol with the dog.

Bales suggests placing some of each animal’s personal items—like beds—in the other animal’s space during this time period so that the cat and the dog become accustomed to each other’s scents. You can repeat this process until it’s no longer stressful for both animals. Once your cat is calm, eating well, and using the litter box consistently, it’s time to make the introductions.

Keep the First Meeting Quick

When you are ready to introduce your cat to your dog, make the initial meeting a quick one—approximately ten minutes. Keep the dog on a leash and allow the cat to roam around and venture as close to the dog as he or she wishes. Use a head collar (halter) on your dog if there is a chance that you may not be in complete control of the situation. Reward your dog with treats and praise for calm behavior around the cat.

As long as the process is going smoothly, gradually increase the time the animals spend together. Once you feel comfortable, allow your dog to also move around freely, but keep his or her leash attached so that you can quickly regain control if needed. Be patient—it may take weeks or even months for cats and dogs to finally accept each other and be comfortable.

Consider Your Pet’s Personality

Dr. Lisa Radosta, a board certified veterinary behaviorist in West Palm Beach, Florida, says that your cat or dog’s personality is a good predictor of his or her ability to get along with another pet.

“If your cat has lived with dogs previously and is confident around other animals, you are likely to have an easy transition,” she said. “However, if your cat puffs up, hisses, or runs from other animals, you will have a more difficult time.”

Dr. Radosta also says to consider your dog’s personality. “Is he playful but not aggressive? Dogs with this temperament will more easily adapt to a cat. The dog who is lunging, growling, and difficult to control mayneverbe safe with your cat. If this is the case, consult your veterinarian.”

If your cat is the confident type and your dog is the easygoing type, it is best to let your cat handle things. Even then, however, the meeting should not be free-for-all. “Put your cat on a higher surface than the dog and put your dog on the leash for the meeting,” Dr. Radosta said.

Supervision is Key

Keep your cat and dog separated when you cannot directly supervise them until you are fully confident that they present no risk, Dr. Radosta said. The safest way to do this is to keep your dog in a crate.

“Even a dog who simply wants to play can seriously or fatally injure a cat,” she said. “Dogs can jump over or bust through baby gates leaving cats in a dangerous situation.”

Likewise, you’ll want to provide your cat with a safe place where he or she can escape the dog. This could be a cat tree that the dog cannot climb or a separate room with a cat door installed. “Once cats run, dogs chase. It is very important to prevent this at all costs,” Dr. Radosta said.

Brush Up on Your Dog’s Skills

In order to help your cat feel safe, your dog has to be under control. He will need to know basic commands such as “leave it,” “sit,” and “stay.” Before the first introduction, make sure to spend time practicing commands with your dog and keep treats handy so that you can reward your dog for good behavior. “When your dog sees the cat, ask him to sit and reward him,” Dr. Radosta said.

If the only thing your dog has to do is chase your cat, chasing your cat is going to be his favorite activity.

“Keep your dog very well exercised and busy by using food toys and rotating his toys so that he is constantly occupied,” she said. “You can even reserve these fun activities for times when your cat is loose in the house.”

Long walks and daily exercise can also help your dog burn off energy—making meetings with the family cat less crazy.

You never know which pet is going to be the leader of the pack, but taking the steps to properly introduce a cat to a dog—and practicing patience—will help things run smoothly in your blended-pet household.

By Stacia Friedman


What Is Pet Insurance
Jan 27
What Is Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is the human health insurance equivalent, but for your pet. Having your dog or cat protected by a good health insurance plan can put your mind at ease knowing that large, unexpected medical bills will be covered.

There are3 types of pet insurance coverage: accident, illness and wellness.Depending on your preference, you may sign up for 1, 2 or all 3 of these coverages.

1) Accident Coverage

There is no way to plan for an accident, but you can prevent it from costing you a fortune. Accident coverage is the most common type of pet insurance and every pet health insurance company offers it. Accident coverage can include things like a torn ligament, broken bones, bite wounds and more.

2) Illness Coverage

Illness coverage is often limited and becomes more expensive as your pet ages. That’s why it’s important to get pet insurance while your pet is at the youngest age possible to reduce pre-existing condition exemptions and your monthly cost. Illness coverage can cover things like cancer, arthritis, UTI's,  allergies and more.

3) Wellness Coverage

Wellness coverage is always optional. Depending on your preferences, you may choose to save up and pay for wellness expenses on your own, or you may wish to spend a little every month for this coverage to avoid paying out of pocket all at once during your routine vet visit.

A Pet wellness plan may include:

  • Annual exams
  • Spay/neuter
  • Routine blood panels
  • Heartworm testing
  • Fecal testing
  • Urinalyses
  • Routine vaccinations (rabies, DHLP, Bordetella, parvo, Lyme, giardia)
  • Teeth cleanings
  • Flea, tick and heartworm treatments

Keep in mind; a single routine annual vet exam can cost upwards of $300 depending on your vet, where you live and the types of procedures, vaccinations and tests your pet requires during an annual exam. Wellness plans are becoming increasingly popular to manage these expenses, which is why more companies are offering them, including as an add-on to a pet insurance health plan.

Article by: Kimberly Alt