Overcoming arthritis in dogs

January 29, 2009



Arthritis is a health problem that not only humans deal with, but
so do their animals. In fact, one-fifth of dogs in the US, over the
age of seven, suffer with painful DJD (degenerative joint disease)
as veterinarians like to say. It is also one of the top recurring
pains in dogs that they treat. Arthritis in dogs can affect their
back, elbows, shoulders, hip and neck.

If you’re not sure if your dog has arthritis, here are a few
obvious signs:

Does he tend to favor once side over another (His joints could be
too painful on one side, so he will tend to put more pressure on
the other to avoid pain. He may even show discomfort while standing
or even sitting on a particular side)

Unusual weight gain (Because of the painful joints, he may tend to
be more lethargic or even sleep more not getting the exercise a
healthy dog would generally get)

Not as active (If you’ve noticed he isn’t as playful or unusually
hesitant in his movements. This is due to stiff joints)

If you’ve noticed your dog with any one of the above symptoms for
more than a week, don’t hesitate to take him to a veterinarian.
This way he can be properly diagnosed and treated.

There are home remedies that you might even want to try to ease his
pain.

Diet

Your dog’s diet is one area that you might want to look into. Dry
dog food is made up mostly of grains which cause inflammation of
the joints. A better choice would be to try preparing his meals
with raw or cooked meat as well as cooked vegetables. They are not
only healthier for him but should help alleviate some of the
swelling in his joints. (Stay away from anything spicy such as
peppers and even onions). Omega 3 fatty acids can be used as a
supplement in order to decrease the amount of inflammation in the
joints. Try giving him fish capsules. Flax seed is also a great
anti-inflammatory.

Exercise

Even thought your dog may be in pain, it’s still important that he
gets a short amount of exercise. If he’s not skittish to water, try
having him swim. For smaller dogs, a kiddy pool would work great.
This way, there is no pressure on the joints, yet he is still being
mobile. Also take him for short 15 minute walks. Don’t expect too
much from him such as running after a ball or jumping.

Warm and Comfortable rest area

Provide a soft, comfortable area for your dog to rest. In the
winter time, when the cool air can stiffen joints, try placing an
old sleeping bag or pillow on the floor to help keep his joints
warm. If your dog is an outside dog, you may want to bring him into
the garage at night, to avoid the temperature drops.

These are just a few ways that we can help make our pets lives more
comfortable. Although, visiting a veterinarian should also be
considered. Your veterinarian will probably take an x-ray to see
the damage to the joints. With the rising amount of animals that
are developing arthritis, there are medications that have been
developed to alleviate and even help repair the joints.

A popular medication for dogs in alleviating pain is glucosamine.
It is a sugar that is generated from shell fish that motivates
joint repair and lessens joint pain. Glucosamine is a natural
ingredient that is found in animals, but with age, the body has a
decrease in production of this essential element. Glucosamine works
by stimulating your body to produce Synovial fluid. Synovial fluid
is needed for healthy joints. It lubricates the cartilage to aid in
mobility.

Never take matters into your own hands by giving your dog human
medications. They can be toxic to his body, especially if given in
the wrong dosage form.

Animal care has come a long way in meeting the needs of our
canines. Taking your dog to regular check ups at a veterinarian is
one way to keep up with your dog’s health needs. If we want our
animals to have happy and healthy lives, taking care of their
body’s is important.

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Vaccinations: When, Why and What should your pet be getting

January 24, 2009



Vaccinations are a very important part of dog ownership. Your dog
should be properly vaccinated against certain diseases at certain
times to help protect him and other animals he may come in to
contact with. The following is an explanation of vaccinations and
why they should be given.

When you get a puppy, most likely your veterinarian will recommend
a series of three sets of vaccinations. These will generally be
given at four week intervals starting at eight weeks of age. The
first vaccine will most likely be referred to as “distemper.” This
is usually a combination shot that will protect your dog against
distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, leptospirosis, and
coronavirus.

1) Distemper -a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that is
similar to measles in humans. It can affect dogs of all ages but is
most often seen in unvaccinated puppies. It attacks the
gastrointestinal, respiratory, and nervous systems. Symptoms
include cough, nasal and eye discharge, lethargy, vomiting, and
diarrhea. In advanced stages, dogs may show neurological problems
such as lack of coordination, weakness, and seizures. Treatment
includes fluids and antibiotics but prognosis is guarded and in
about half of the cases, Distemper is fatal.

2) Hepatitis -which affects the liver, pancreas, kidneys, and the
lining of blood vessels. It causes fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea,
and lethargy. Treatment includes administration of fluids and
antibiotics but in serious cases a blood transfusion may be
necessary. The severity of the disease varies but young puppies
often die from Hepatitis.

3) Parainfluenza – caused by a virus and is quite mild in
comparison with other infectious diseases. Symptoms include
sneezing, discharge from the eyes and nose, and coughing. Treatment
varies but in many cases, no treatment is required.

4) Leptospirosis which is transmitted by contact with water
contaminated with infected urine. It affects the urinary tract,
kidneys, and liver. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and
abdominal pain. In further stages of the disease, dogs may become
very thirsty and have a low temperature. Treatment includes
antibiotics and fluid therapy. Please note however that some dogs
are allergic to the leptospirosis vaccine. Please check with your
veterinarian if you have questions or concerns. Oftentimes the
leptospirosis component is not a part of your puppy shots and will
be administered annually starting the next year your dog is due for
vaccination.

5) Coronavirus which causes inflammation of the intestines and
diarrhea. This disease most often affects puppies. Symptoms include
decreased appetite, orange or yellow diarrhea, lethargy, and fever.
Treatment includes fluid administration and antibiotics. Prognosis
is usually good. The distemper combination vaccine is given
annually after the first three series.

At your second visit (or at age 12 weeks), if you plan to take your
dog to puppy class or he will be around other dogs, it is a good
idea to get him vaccinated for Bordetella Bronchiseptica.
Bordetella Bronchiseptica is most often referred to as Kennel
Cough. This disease is incredibly infectious and is usually
transmitted in areas where many dogs are together such as boarding
facilities, doggy day care, and dog parks. If your dog becomes
infected, you will notice a dry cough. Infected dogs are usually
treated with antibiotics. Keep in mind that even though most places
that take in multiple dogs require immunization to Bordetella, no
vaccine is 100% effective so your dog may still become ill with
this disease. This vaccine comes in both intranasal and injectible
form. The intranasal form is dribbled into your dog’s nostrils.
Your dog may need a booster of the Bordetella vaccine at his 16
week visit and annually after that.

At age 16 weeks, your dog can be vaccinated for Rabies. Rabies is
usually transmitted to dogs through saliva – most often in the form
of a bite from an infected animal. Rabies affects all warm blooded
animals but is most often found in bats, skunks, and raccoons.
Rabies is always fatal. In many states, rabies vaccination is
required by law. Check with your veterinarian on how often this
immunization is recommended as protocols may vary. If your dog
becomes infected with Rabies, you may notice subtle behavioral
changes at first. This may be accompanied by fever, vomiting, and
diarrhea. The best defense against Rabies is to make certain your
dog is properly immunized.

By properly vaccinating your dog, you are helping to ensure both
his safety and the safety of other pets and humans.


Making your home puppy proof

January 5, 2009



Puppies are super cute and so much fun to have around. They are
filled with energy and curious about everything around them. It is
your job as a responsible pet owner to puppy proof your house to
make it safe from them and to protect your belongings.

The first thing you should do when puppy proofing your house is to
go room to room on your hands and knees. Look at the things in your
home from your puppy’s perspective. Think about what is at that
level that may be interesting to him. You may be surprised to find
many things that are potentially dangerous that you never even
thought of before.

One thing you should be aware of in your household is the location
of electrical cords. Make sure to limit your puppy’s access to
these areas. Puppies can chew through cords and get electrocuted
causing serious injury or even death. Wrap cords up and store them
away or lay down rubber or plastic runners that can be purchased at
most home supply stores.

Another potentially dangerous thing for puppies is your stairs.
Small puppies have a hard time navigating up and down stairs and
could fall down them and injure themselves. Stairs also lead to
areas in your house that may be off limits. The best way to ensure
that your puppy stays away from the stairs is to purchase baby
gates, available at most department and pet supply stores.

Just as curious toddlers are, puppies are very curious about what
is inside cabinets. Many people store cleaning supplies and
personal care products in cabinets that can be accessible to
puppies. These kinds of products contain harmful ingredients that
can injure or kill your puppy. Make sure to either store these
products in cabinets that are out of reach to puppies, or purchase
plastic cabinet locks that are available at most department and pet
supply stores.

Be aware of small objects that are located around the home, on
coffee tables and other surfaces that are accessible to your puppy.
Just as with small children, puppies can choke on items like coins,
needles, jewelry and small toys. Make sure to keep these kinds of
items out of your puppy’s reach.

Puppies seem to be attracted to shoes and socks. They love to chew
on them. Not only will this ruin your favorite shoes, if a puppy
were to chew on and swallow a shoelace or a sock, it could get
wrapped around their intestines causing serious injury or death.
Make sure to store your shoes and socks out of reach of your puppy,
and NEVER encourage them to chew on these items, no matter how cute
it may be.

Always limit your puppy’s access to the bathroom. Bathroom garbage
is very tempting to chew on. If your dog were to swallow some
dental floss or feminine products, this could be very harmful to
them. Puppies also are curious about toilets. Small pups could fall
in an open toilet and drown. Make sure to keep your bathroom door
shut at all times, or install a baby gate at the entrance to your
bathroom. The same can be said for the kitchen and kitchen garbage.

Open windows are another potential hazard to your puppy. Being very
curious about the world around them, they could easily fall out of
a window causing serious harm or death. On the ground floor, they
could exit out of the window and get lost or run into the street.
Be mindful of open windows when you are not directly supervising
your puppy.

House plants are another concern when it comes to puppies. Most
dogs are very attracted to plants and many household plants are
toxic to animals and can cause nausea, vomiting, and in some cases,
death. Always make sure to keep house plants away from your puppy’s
reach.

The best way to puppy proof your house is to crate train your puppy
right away. You are providing him with a safe place to go whenever
he wants to as well as a place to be safely contained when you are
not able to directly supervise him. If you need more information
about puppy proofing your home, consult your veterinarian or pet
professional.