Should You Feed Table Scraps
Nov 02
2019
Should You Feed Table Scraps

It may be tempting to let your dog eat table scraps, especially when they are staring at you throughout your meal. You may even think you are giving them a nice little treat.

However, the high-calorie, high-fat foods we take such pleasure in are some of the worst foods for our pets. Just one generous helping of a fat-laden meal or seemingly innocent leftovers can have serious impacts on your dog’s health.

Here’s why you should think twice about letting your dog eat table scraps.

What Can Happen to a Dog That Eats Table Scraps?

Dogs that eat table scraps are at risk for a variety of health problems. Here are just a few.

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a condition that’s caused by eating fatty foods, and it can be fatal in dogs.

Normally, thepancreasreleases enzymes into thedigestive tractwhen food has been ingested to help break all the fat down and promote digestion.

Pancreatitis occurs when these enzymes are released prematurely—before the food reaches the digestive tracts—which causes the pancreas to start ingesting itself and induces inflammation.

These enzymes can also leak into theabdominal cavity, causing damage to adjacent structures and other organs, like the liver,bileducts, gall bladder and intestines.

Though high-fat foods are not the only thing that can causepancreatitis, they’re thought to be one of the main causes ofacutepancreatitis.

The clinical signs that you see depend upon the severity of the pancreatitis, but they can include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

In very severe cases, pancreatitis can be fatal.

The severity of the disease will determine the treatment, which sometimes can require the hospitalization of your pet.

Gastrointestinal Upset

Not every pet'sgastrointestinal(GI) system is capable of taking on new foods and digesting them properly.

If you know your pet has had digestive sensitivities in the past, you should avoid introducing anything new into their diet, especially human foods.

New foods have the potential to disrupt the balance of your pet’s gastrointestinal linings and flora, which can cause inflammation in the GI tract.

This can cause your pet to suffer from issues such as:

  • Stomachaches
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inappetence
  • Lethargy

If you see these signs, take your pet to the veterinarian right away. They will be able to help your dog recover safely and ensure there are no continued issues.

Toxin Exposure

While it may be well-intentioned, treating pets to tables scraps can lead to them ingest toxic foods.

Human foods that contain raisins, grapes, chocolate, xylitol (a sugar substitute seen often in gum and candies) and onions can all be toxic.

These foods might be introduced in seemingly harmless ways, such as in raisin breads, soups, brownies and any other food combinations with these ingredients.

Many of these toxins can have serious ramifications. For example, raisins and grapes have been associated with kidney toxicity in pets, and xylitol causes extremely low blood sugar that can lead to death.

Foreign Bodies

Another concern is intestinal foreign bodies, which are foreign objects within the GI tract.

Common foreign bodies that dogs ingest include pieces of toys, bones, peach pits, corncobs, pieces of blankets, socks, underwear, hair ties, carpet and ropes. Foreign bodies often cause a GI obstruction, which can be fatal if not treated.

Symptoms of a GI obstruction include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inappetence
  • Lethargy

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a foreign body, call your vet immediately. Sometimes, if you get to their office immediately, your veterinarian may be able to induce vomiting, but this is not always recommended.

Some obstructions are easy to diagnose, while others are more challenging. Oftentimes, X-rays will need to be repeated, or an abdominal ultrasound will be recommended if it is unclear.

Depending on diagnostics, your vet will advise you on the best treatment for a foreign body obstruction. The common recommended treatments are surgical removal or aggressive fluid therapy.

Bone Splinters

Bones are also potentially hazardous to pets.

This applies to pork and steak bones, but it’s especially true for bird carcasses and bones (e.g., turkey and chicken bones that you might have considered giving to your dog as scraps).

The cooking process dries the bones, making it easier for them to splinter and get stuck in the passages of the digestive tract.

The splintered pieces can be caught anywhere from the mouth to the throat (esophagus) or stomach. They can even become embedded in the intestinal walls.

Larger chunks of bone can also become stuck in the small bowel, causing pain and distress to your dog because other items are not able to pass through the narrow passage.

In fact, in some cases, internal bone fragments may require surgical removal.

Talk With Your Veterinarian About New Foods

While you may be tempted to fix your pet their own plate of leftovers, it is important to be aware of the potential hazards that table scraps pose for pets.

If you have any questions regarding what is safe for your pet, always call your veterinarian. This will help you best avoid any potential problems and keep your pet safe.

By: Dr. Monica Tarantino, DVM

 

Can Weather Affect a Dog's Behavior
Sep 22
2019
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
2019
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
2019
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
2019
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
2019
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