Urine samples, Anal glands, and Dandruff: The truth about your dog’s dirty little secrets

December 9, 2008


When most people get a dog, they think of the fun times they will
have with their new furry companion. But there are many things that
aren’t so pleasant that we as dog owners must consider to keep our
friends happy and healthy.

So you go to the veterinarian, and your doctor asks you to bring
along a urine sample from your dog. Your first question is
probably, how do I do this? The easiest way to accomplish this is
to tape a Tupperware container to the end of a yard stick. While
your dog is out doing his business, get the container underneath
his urine stream. This is easier to do with male dogs than female
dogs but you can usually get a sample with one or two tries. Your
veterinarian will want as fresh a sample if possible. If you will
not be taking the sample to the vet right away, keep it
refrigerated until you bring it in. Your veterinarian will be
checking the sample for a variety of things like bacteria and
crystals. If bacteria is found, this might mean that your dog has a
urinary tract infection, and most likely your vet will put your dog
on a course of antibiotics. Crystals form in the urine whenever
minerals bind together. There are several different kinds of
crystals and these are most often treated with prescription diets.

Why does your veterinarian ask for a stool sample? Frequently,
intestinal parasites are found in dogs. They can get these by
eating fecal matter from another affected animal, carcasses, or
other unsavory things. You will want to bring in a fresh sample.
The doctor will look at it under the microscope looking for
telltale eggs of parasites. The most common are roundworms,
hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Several of today’s monthly
heartworm medications also protect against roundworms and
hookworms. If you live in the country or your dog is outside a lot,
he may need to be treated with a wormer on a quarterly basis for
tapeworms. Other diseases like coccidia, can also be seen under the
microscope from your dog’s stool sample.

What are anal glands? The anal glands are two small glands located
just on the inside of your dog’s anus. They secrete a foul smelling
liquid. Most of the time, your dog will empty his own glands while
defecating. In some dogs, however, the anal glands do not empty
properly and become impacted. If your dog is scooting a lot or
licking his hind end often, he may have a problem with his anal
glands. Make an appointment with your veterinarian. He will check
the anal glands by touch with a gloved hand. If they are full, he
can manually empty them. You can learn how to do this yourself at
home. Some dogs need to have their anal glands manually emptied on
a regular basis. Some owners choose to have their dog’s anal glands
surgically removed. This often helps the problem, but if you choose
to do this, discuss the possible outcomes with your veterinarian.
There is often a risk of fecal incontinence if this surgery does
not go properly.

In dogs, sometimes dandruff is just that – dandruff. This can be
caused by skin allergies, nutritional deficiencies, or improper
grooming. But sometimes dandruff can be more. Dandruff can be a
sign of a parasite called mange. There are a few different types of
mange: a) Demodectic Mange which is caused by a mite. This mite is
present in all dogs and rarely affects them adversely. Sometimes
however, there can be an overabundance of these mites causing skin
irritation and hair loss. b) Sarcoptic Mange which is caused by
another type of mite. A female mite will bury herself in your dog’s
skin and lay eggs. When the eggs hatch, the cycle will begin again.
Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, causes severe skin
irritation and hair loss in dogs. It is easily treatable. c)
Cheyletiella Mange is caused by a large mite that lives on the
surface of your dog’s skin. This infestation is also known as
“walking dandruff.” Cheyletiella mange is easily treatable with
topical medication and causes minor skin irritation.

It’s important to know about the less pleasant things that can
cause your dog health problems so that you are properly educated
and can recognize signs and symptoms. This will ensure that you
keep your dog as healthy as he can be.


B.A.R.F. Diet: Sounds yummy but what is it

December 4, 2008


It actually sounds kind of gross, but BARF is an acronym for
Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food. Many
health conscious veterinarians are huge advocates for this diet
which can completely replace commercially prepared dog food. One of
the first proponents of the BARF diet was Dr. Ian Billinghurst who
still recommends it today. He believes that it is the ultimate way
to get our pets in to optimum health. Many people believe that the
BARF diet simulates what your dog would eat in his natural

Many people feel that there are a lot of health advantages to
feeding a raw food diet. Many owners who have dogs with problems
such as allergies, skin problems, weight problems, and anal gland
problems have found that the bones and raw food diet has helped to
significantly remedy these issues.

Some of the advantages to feeding a biologically appropriate raw
food diet
include no consumption of preservatives found in most
commercially prepared kibble diets, it usually tastes better to
your dog than regular dog food, and in general, muscle mass and
body condition improve on a raw food diet. One also often finds
that dogs produce fewer stools, eat more slowly, and have fewer
health problems. Many advocates of the raw food diet also claim
that it is less expensive than commercially manufactured dog food.
One of the biggest disadvantages to this diet is that it takes
longer to prepare.

If you decide that you would like to try the BARF diet with your
dog, you must first do the research. There are many websites and
books available to guide you through the process. Talk to your
veterinarian, though many veterinarians are unfamiliar with the
BARF diet. Find people in your area that feed the raw food diet to
their animals. Make sure it is right for you and your dog before
you try it.

The next step is to transition your dog from his commercial dog
to his new bones and raw food diet. You may want to do this
gradually as oftentimes dogs develop digestive problems when
switching to new diets. Some advocates of the BARF diet recommend
switching your dog to the new diet cold turkey, however.

When feeding a raw food diet, you will generally want to feed your
dog twice per day. The first meal of the day will usually consist
of raw meat and bones like turkey or chicken legs, thighs, wings,
or necks, pork riblets, lamb chops, and the like. The second meal
will consist of a mush made with raw meat, fresh vegetables, and
Offal (the organs parts of the meat you are feeding). Usually you
will want to supplement this with cottage cheese, eggs with the
shells, yogurt, fruit, fish, and recreational bones (which are the
harder to chew kinds of bones). This can vary, so do your homework.
You will want to avoid grains. Advocates of the biologically
appropriate raw food diet agree that dogs do not have the proper
digestive systems to deal with whole grains and that most food
are grain related.

Most advocates of the raw food diet do not recommend supplements.
If you aren’t sure what to do, speak with your veterinarian.

Many people are hesitant to feed their dog a raw diet because they
are concerned about their dogs choking on bones. While these
incidents occur, proponents of raw food diets say they are rare,
and that generally, dogs choke on cooked bones, not raw ones.

There are commercially prepared raw food diets on the market. While
this is always an option for you if you choose to feed raw food,
many advocates of the BARF diet recommend against it. They argue
that these foods have different regulations that human grade foods,
oftentimes contain unnecessary supplements, are ground foods (and
the whole basis of the BARF diet is raw, meaty bones), and are much
more expensive than visiting your local butcher.

If you decide that the bones and raw food diet is something that
you’d like to try, first talk to your veterinarian about your
decision. Then, do as much research into the diet as possible. Talk
to others who feed the diet. You may find that by feeding the BARF
you are improving the health of your dog.