Skin Lumps and Bumps in Dogs

It’s not unusual to find skin lumps and bumps on your dog at some point in its lifetime. Lumps can appear either on or just under a dog’s skin.

It is important to have these lumps checked by your veterinarian, especially if the lumps are new, bleeding, oozing or rapidly increasing in size. Many lumps and bumps under a dog’s skin are harmless, but others may be malignant or may become malignant.

Skin tumors are among the most common tumors in dogs. Fortunately, many of these tumors are benign and not a cause for worry. The lump may be simply a pimple or an allergic reaction to an insect bite. Sometimes these skin masses are malignant and require prompt medical attention, so it would be wise to have your dog examined by a veterinarian to assess any skin bumps that you detect on your dog.

The options for treating skin tumors depend entirely upon the cause of the tumor. For example, benign fatty masses rarely require removal unless they bother the dog owner.

Most veterinarians recommend that malignant skin masses be removed as soon as possible. The tissue removed during the operation is sent to a pathology laboratory to determine whether all of the tumor cells associated with the mass have been removed. X-rays may be taken to determine whether cancerous cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes or other areas like the bone marrow or lungs. Blood tests are done to evaluate the dog’s overall health and response to any proposed treatments.

Sometimes radiation or chemotherapy treatments (or both) will be used in addition to surgical removal of the mass in order to improve the chances of a dog’s full recovery.

Tumors can recur after surgery so regular checkups are important if the dog had a malignant skin tumor removed or treated.

Skin lumps and bumps on your dog could be any one of these types:

(1) Hematoma which is a collection of clotted blood beneath the skin;

(2) Basal cell tumor in the form of a nodule on a narrow base or stalk. It will be round, normally hairless, and may be ulcerated. These tumors are usually found on the head, neck, and shoulders of older dogs;

(3) Lipoma which is a soft round or oblong growth underneath the skin;

(4) Ceruminous gland adenoma. This is a pinkish-white dome-shaped growth in the ear canal that may become ulcerated and infected;

(5) Epidermal inclusion cyst recognizable as a firm lump beneath a dog’s skin. These cysts sometimes discharge cheese-like material and become infected;

(6) Histiocytoma is a button-like fast-growing mass that may appear anywhere on a dog’s body;

(7) Melanoma is a brown or black pigmented nodule that appears in areas of dark skin. If melanomas grow in the mouth of a dog, they are usually malignant;

(8) Skin papillomas grow out from the skin and may look like a wart. These are not painful or dangerous;

(9) Squamous cell carcinoma is a gray or reddish-looking ulcer found on the belly, scrotum, feet, legs, lips, or nose that doesn’t heal. It sometimes looks like a cauliflower.

If you find any skin lumps or bumps on your dog that resemble one or more of the above descriptions, you should contact your vet to schedule an examination.

 

Thunderstorms and Dogs

Thunderstorms and dogs make a bad combination. It’s common for dogs to suffer from thunderstorm phobia or anxiety if they live in a part of the country subject to summer storms with thunder and lightning.


Dogs with thunderstorm phobia become extremely panicky and overwhelmed with fear during loud thunderstorms. The technical term for this is Astraphobia: the fear of thunder and lightning. Owners who see their dogs experiencing this fear usually feel helpless and frustrated.

Causes of a dog’s phobia of Thunderstorms
There is no way to be certain what causes a dog to be afraid of thunderstorms. There are probably multiple reasons for thunderstorm phobia, and the reasons may even vary from dog to dog. The most obvious reason is the loud noise of the thunder and the bright flashes of lightning. Many dogs suffer from noise phobia, and the thunder is just one of several frightening noises besides fireworks and gunshots that can cause panic in dogs.

It’s also possible that the cause of a dog’s fear may not be limited to noise. Changes in barometric pressure and humidity can affect your dog’s senses and even cause discomfort in its ears. Arthritic dogs or those with other degenerative joint diseases like hip dysplasia, may experience more pain during thunderstorms than they normally do at other times.

Another possible reason for thunderstorm phobia is that the dog associates the thunder and lightning with a traumatic experience it has had. It is possible that something very stressful or frightening occurred in your dog’s past during a thunderstorm.

Signs of Thunderstorm Phobia
If your dog seems anxious, hyperactive, destructive or withdrawn during thunderstorms, it’s probably suffering from thunderstorm phobia. The signs of Astraphobia are fairly obvious and easy to spot in a dog with this phobia. Many dogs will pace, pant or begin whining. Some will stay right by your side seeking your attention. Other dogs may hide and become frozen with fear. Your dog’s fearful behavior may be subtle at first but can become worse with time, eventually becoming full-blown panic attacks that are very dangerous for your dog.

Thunderstorm phobia can cause a dog to urinate and sometimes defecate inside the house out of fear during a storm. Telltale signs of anxiety and fear may begin long before the storm arrives, so take note of any of these signs you may see in your dog during normal weather when the forecast is for stormy weather ahead. Your dog is probably a better weather forecaster than the meteorologist on TV.

Preventing and Treating Dogs With Thunderstorm Phobias
If your dog has a thunderstorm phobia, there are some things you can do to protect it during thunderstorms, or at least minimize its responses to the thunder and lightning.

The most important of course is never leave your dog outside during storms.

Be aware of your own behavior and that of other people in your home. Your dog will react to human anxiety, fear and stress, even if it is not related to the storm. Do your best to remain relaxed. Go about your usual duties. Don’t pay special attention to your dog when it is exhibiting signs of fear or anxiety. Even though your natural instinct is to want to comfort your dog, coddling and praising it only reinforces and rewards the unwanted behavior.

There are ways you can indirectly comfort your dog during thunderstorms. Find a comfortable hiding place for your dog in the quietest part of the house. If you have a dog crate, place the dog’s bed inside and cover the crate with a blanket or sheet to make your dog feel safer.
If your dog does calm down and stops reacting to the storm, respond with calm praise and rewards.

Dogs with severe thunderstorm phobia may benefit from prescription medication used in conjunction with desensitization or conditioning training. Your vet may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication like Xanax (alprazolam) or Valium (diazepam) that can be given at the first sign of a storm.

Because thunderstorm phobia is likely to become worse over time, it’s important to take action when you first notice the signs. Don’t wait to address your dog’s phobia until it is very severe. That simply makes it that much harder to reverse the phobia.

Just as stress is a health risk for humans, the same applies for thunderstorms and dogs. Thunderstorm phobia can become a very serious problem that will adversely affect your dog’s health and quality of life.

Why Dogs Vomit

There are many reasons why dogs vomit so if you find your dog vomiting, don’t automatically assume that your dog has an illness.

    The most common reasons why dogs vomit include the following:

(1) Eating foreign objects or plant material. If your dog has swallowed a solid object of some kind it will often vomit it back up. If the foreign object is small enough, it can pass through the intestinal system and you’ll see it in your dog’s stool. If it’s too large or has sharp edges, your dog will continue to suffer and an emergency visit to the vet for x-rays will become a necessary life-saving action.

If you believe your dog may have eaten leaves or berries from a bush, you need to be sure the plant is not poisonous. The easiest way to check is to go online to the ASPCA poison control website at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control. There you’ll find a list of toxic and non-toxic plants, the 17 most common poisonous plants, and animal poison control FAQs.

(2) An allergy to certain foods.
If you have recently started your dog on a new diet and the vomiting began shortly thereafter, you might try mixing half of its old food with half of the new food and watch closely for changes in behavior or lingering illness. It’s possible that an intolerance or aversion to ingredients in the new food may be causing the vomiting. If you suspect this may be the cause, you can continue changing the ratio of old food to the new food to see if the vomiting goes away.

(3) Eating greasy foods or foods higher in fat content.
Table scraps or desserts can easily cause intestinal distress and vomiting in any dog. Their systems were not designed to digest rich, fatty foods that many humans eat on a daily basis. These types of food are often not healthy for us, let alone for our dogs. If your dog vomits soon after scarfing down something from your table, it’s a clear indication that you need to avoid giving it any types of food you normally eat.

Causes of vomiting that require a visit to the vet for diagnosis and treatment:
(4) Infection with parasites, viruses or bacteria can cause gastrointestinal infections also known as viral gastroenteritis. Diarrhea and vomiting are the most obvious symptoms. Many different types of bacteria and parasites can also cause GI infections and diarrhea but most of these are not serious and will go away on their own after a few days; however, others can be serious.

(5) Ulcers which can be caused by anti-inflammatory medications prescribed for skin conditions, arthritis, or other chronic health problems. Pain relief medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen inhibit a hormone-like substance that acts as a protection for a dog’s stomach lining. Prolonged use of these medications can cause severe stomach ulcers in dogs. Another less common cause of canine stomach ulcers is a mast cell cancer in the dog’s skin. Mast cell cancers release histamine which leads to stomach ulcers.

(6) Kidney Failure.
Early signs of kidney failure in dogs are increased water consumption and increased urine output. Signs of more advanced kidney failure include loss of appetite, depression, vomiting and diarrhea.

(7) Cancers.
Some possible signs of cancer that warrant a visit to your veterinarian include any new lump or bump; a change in size, shape, or consistency of an existing lump; a runny nose, especially if bloody; difficulty urinating or bloody urine; limping or a change in gait; foul breath and lethargy.

(8) Inflammatory bowel disease.
The cause of inflammatory bowel disease is unknown. Genetics, nutrition, infectious agents, and abnormalities of the immune system may all play a role. The most common signs of inflammatory bowel disease in dogs are vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. Vomiting is more common when the stomach or upper portion of the small intestine are affected and diarrhea is more common when the colon is involved. There is an increase in the frequency of defecation, but less stool is produced each time. There is often increased mucous or some blood in the stool. Sometimes stools become loose. Many times the diarrhea and vomiting may be irregular.

(9) Liver disease.
The early signs of liver disease include chronic intermittent vomiting and diarrhea. Vomiting is more common than diarrhea, loss of appetite, or weight loss. Drinking and urinating more often than normal may be the first signs, and a key reason for visiting the vet.

Whenever your dog continues to display any of these symptoms and the cause is not readily apparent, you should schedule an exam with your vet. Your pet’s health and life may depend upon it.

Cataracts and Eye Problems in Dogs

One of the most common conditions that affect a dog’s eyes are cataracts. The formation of cataracts in dogs can be caused by various things. All breeds and ages of dogs can develop cataracts but certain breeds are more susceptible to cataracts than others; among these are Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, and Terriers.

Cataracts are an interference of lens fibers that obstruct sight by blocking clarity in the lens, either partially or totally. Smaller cataracts may not disrupt a dog’s vision at first, but the cataract could grow in size and density and cause a dog to lose its sight entirely if the cataract is not removed.

Cataracts that form in dogs over 6 years of age are called “senile cataracts.” When cataracts develop much earlier than this they are called “developmental cataracts.” Developmental cataracts can be hereditary or caused by trauma, infection, toxicity, or diabetes. “Inherited cataracts” are common in Standard Poodles, Afghan Hounds, Miniature Schnauzers, Old English Sheepdogs, and Welsh Springer Spaniels.

Congenital cataracts are present at birth; developmental cataracts develop early in a dog’s life; senile cataracts occur in dogs over six years of age, and inherited cataracts occur independently or in association with other visual diseases. Cataracts can also be caused by a trauma related to an auto accident or an object penetrating the eye. In trauma cases, the lens becomes damaged and a cataract may develop.

As a dog ages, eye health becomes a major concern. Over time, free radicals can cause oxidative stress on the cells of the eyes, and as a consequence, dogs have more difficulty fighting oxidative stress as they get older.

Exposure to oxygen and sunlight causes a chemical reaction in the cells, and the lens of the eyes are affected by this oxidative action because the lens acts as a light shield for the retina. Blood flow also decreases as the animal ages, resulting in nutrients being slowly depleted from the eye, causing even more stress and damage.

Dog cataracts are not a problem you might face only if you have an older dog. Cataracts can form at a fairly early age in some breeds. Afghan Hounds can develop cataracts at age 6-12 months, American Cocker Spaniels at 6 months or slightly older, German Shepherds at 8 weeks, Golden Retrievers at 6 months or later, Labrador Retrievers at 6 months or later, Siberian Huskies at 6 months or later, and the Standard Poodle at a year or later.

Cataracts are easy to identify by their white or bluish-white appearance in the pupil of the eye. If you suspect that your dog has or is developing cataracts or an eye problem, contact a veterinary ophthalmologist immediately.

 

Should You Adopt a Rescued Dog

Too many people feel that if you adopt a rescued dog you’re just settling for a pet no one else wanted. You might think there must be something wrong with the dog or it wouldn’t be in a shelter. Or maybe you feel that if you can adopt a cute little puppy, why would you want to take someone else’s “used” dog?

Not all dogs in animal shelters or dog rescue organizations are animals that nobody wanted. A more common scenario is that the dog had a loving home and was well cared for by its owner but ran away or was picked up by an animal control officer and the dog had no ID tag to identify its owner.

Another reason a good dog can end up in a shelter is because its owner was no longer able to care for it due to illness or death, and sometimes due to financial hardship. Some wonderful dogs are surrendered to a shelter by their owners simply because there is a new baby in the family and the owners are afraid of keeping the dog in the same house as a newborn. If you spend some time visiting an animal shelter you will hear many heartbreaking stories about adorable and devoted dogs being given up by their owners for many different reasons.

It’s also true that some dogs are surrendered to shelters because their owners could not afford the medical costs to treat a curable disease the dog has developed, or in some cases they were just disappointed that the dog was not behaving exactly as they expected it to.

A rescued dog may have survived anything from mistreatment to sheer cruelty and it deserves a new life in a home where it will be loved and properly cared for. Rescue means to “save something from a dangerous or harmful situation or to prevent something from being discarded or rejected.” Whatever the reason a dog ends up in a shelter, it has in some way been discarded or rejected.

There are many advantages if you adopt a rescued dog. The previous owner may have had the dog vaccinated already which saves you money. There’s a good chance that most of the dog’s basic training may have been completed, making it much easier to acclimate a new dog to your home and lifestyle. Rescued dogs usually make perfect pets and companions as they are so happy to be out of the confines of a shelter and find someone new to be devoted to.

Today’s society is a disposable one. Everything we buy seems to be disposable at some point in its existence. If so much of what a person owns is deemed to be disposable, why not a pet that’s no longer needed? Unfortunately this way of thinking is more common than most people realize. When you adopt a rescued dog you’re really adopting something previously thought of as disposable, and making it useful again.

All dogs, and especially rescued dogs, deserve another chance to be man’s best friend and indispensable companion. When you adopt a rescued dog it will love you for its entire lifetime.

 

Death of a Pet Dog

The death of a pet dog can be one of the most painful losses that a human will experience.

When your beloved pet develops a disease without a cure, you hope for the best, and if you’re like me, you pray that your cherished companion may die naturally at home rather than having to put yourself through the pain of choosing to euthanize him to stop his suffering.

As your dog’s health slowly begins to decline, you may notice some or possibly all of the following symptoms:

excessive sleeping, limited movement, vomiting, diarrhea, the tail always held between the legs, lethargy, difficulty in swallowing, runny eyes, less coordination, shaking or twitching, a decrease in appetite, slower heartbeat, or incontinence

What You Can Do
Take time to make sure your dog is well taken care of as he dies. Give him a good death. As you continue to watch for the symptoms of a dying dog, call your vet to make sure that what your pet is experiencing is normal. Your vet may prescribe some medications to ease your pet’s distress or alleviate pain.

The following suggestions will help as you prepare for your dog’s final days:
* Keep him well hydrated even if he can’t get to his water bowl. Give him swallows or sips of water using a medicine dropper if necessary. I feed my dog ice cubes by hand which he seems to enjoy.

* If he can’t get to his food bowl to eat, bring the bowl to him. Mixing dry dog food with water will make swallowing it a lot easier.

* If he is unable to go outside to urinate or defecate, surround him with waterproof pads or use doggy diapers.

* Make sure he is comfortable at all times.

* Gently rub his fur and talk to him.

Sudden Death
Sometimes there is not an extended period of time when a dog is dying. Death is sudden and quick. When dogs have heart attacks, death occurs immediately. Although no one wishes to lose a pet, this sudden passing can be easier than having your dog endure months of suffering, eventually ending in putting him to sleep.

When your pet dog does die, you can expect to be sorrowful and probably feel depressed. It is perfectly normal to miss your dog. When you see his leash, water bowl, or favorite chew toy – and knowing he is gone from your life – will often make you sad.

Anticipating Death
Your pet might be very ill, and after countless trips to the vet, it is inevitable that he is going to die. What can you do?

Preparing yourself for the death of a pet dog is never easy. Try to make your pet comfortable. Talk to him often. Let him know how much you appreciate him. Your pet will not understand your words, but he will sense your love.

If you and your vet decide it’s best that your dog to be put to sleep, and even though you know the decision is what is best for your dog, the reality of your choice can be hard to accept.

Burial
After your pet dies, you will need to dispose of his body. Some dog owners choose to bury their pet at specially designated animal cemeteries, designed as quiet, reflective surroundings where you can visit your pet’s grave whenever you wish.

Cremation services are also available in some parts of the United States. Your vet can recommend one and you should also be able to locate one online or in the yellow pages of your phone book. I personally plan to have my dog cremated and his ashes placed in a urn. I want to be reminded of my loving pet and I will proudly display a photo by his urn of the most loving companion I have ever had in my life.

Grieve Well
Know that there is nothing wrong with feeling sorrow when dealing with the death of your pet dog. Pets provide solace, companionship and comfort for humans, and losing one is never easy. A noble relationship has come to an end and there is now an emptiness in your heart that your pet once filled.

Some choose to get another pet as soon as possible after the death of a pet dog, while others cannot bear the thought of “replacing” the one they loved so much. Do what feels right for you. No one else should make that decision for you. It will help to talk to others who have been through what you have just experienced and you may find some comfort knowing you are not alone in your grief.

Stomach Ulcers in Dogs

Stomach ulcers in dogs are not uncommon and can be caused by medications, an inadequate diet, or an underlying health condition. Luckily, stomach ulcers in dogs can be treated and also prevented by taking pro-active measures to help avoid the development of stomach ulcers.

Medications, especially anti-inflammatories, pain killers, and corticosteroids administered orally, will disrupt the normal balance of acids in a dog’s stomach and can destroy a dog’s stomach lining if the medications are administered over a long period of time. In addition, stress, an unbalanced diet containing excess fats, stomach injuries caused by a dog ingesting sharp objects, or poisoning can also cause stomach ulcers.

A dog who is suffering from stomach ulcers will exhibit symptoms such as:
* Chronic vomiting, even when the dog hasn’t eaten anything;
* A general lack of appetite and weight loss;
* General weakness in its actions and movements;
* Diarrhea or blood in the vomit.

Stomach ulcers in dogs are usually detected by a veterinarian when performing tests such as urinalysis, a complete blood count, ultrasound, or an endoscopic exam which will reveal any ulcers in the stomach.

To treat a dog with stomach ulcers, you will need to change your dog’s diet and regularly administer antacid drugs. The antacids will protect the dog’s stomach lining and allow the ulcers to heal. The new diet should focus on reducing fats and artificial ingredients that could cause the stomach ulcers to reoccur. Bland foods and wet foods are better than dry kibble and are easier to digest and less likely to cause harm to the stomach walls.

If your dog has persistent vomiting or diarrhea, the vet will prescribe medication. Should dehydration result from the vomiting or diarrhea, your vet may recommend a transfusion of IV fluids.

Many dog owners prefer natural remedies that can soothe the production of stomach acid and heal the stomach ulcers. Natural remedies include licorice root, aloe vera, echinacea or alfalfa.

Your vet may also recommend some supplements like L-glutamine or Quercetin which will help strengthen the dog’s immune system which is its best natural defense against the formation of stomach ulcers.

You should treat stomach ulcers in your dog as seriously as you would if you were the one who had the ulcer. If your dog continues to display one or several of the above symptoms, call and schedule an exam with your vet as soon as possible.

Kidney Disease in Dogs

Kidney disease in dogs can be caused by several factors; it can be a causal effect of the dog’s age, severe dehydration, a new or past trauma to the kidneys, or even tick borne diseases.

There are a lot of valuable pieces of information your veterinarian will be able to obtain from analyzing your dog’s urine sample if he suspects kidney disease. The vet will interpret the results of the urine test by reviewing the history of your pet, completing a physical exam – sometimes including blood work, and depending on the severity of the kidney disease, further testing may necessitate x-rays or ultrasound.

If obtaining a urine sample from your dog is difficult, try one of these different ways to collect the sample: The most common way to collect a sample from a larger dog is to use a clean, dry container, (you can even use an aluminum pie pan or cake pan, or a deep plastic dish that will hold the urine). After your dog has urinated, pour the sample into a clean container and seal it. Be sure to save the urine sample in a clean, dry container you can easily transport to your vet. The sample should be delivered to your veterinarian’s office immediately. If you are unable to deliver the sample immediately, refrigerate it but never freeze a dogs urine sample.

If your vet requires a sterile sample of urine to test for kidney disease you will need to take your dog to the vet’s clinic to undergo a procedure called “cystocentesis,”. The vet will insert a small needle directly into the dog’s bladder through the body wall. This procedure will not take long and will provide a sample uncontaminated by bacteria from anything outside the dog’s bladder, including its fur.

In addition to checking for kidney disease, a urinalysis will also provide information about your dog’s bladder, liver, pancreas, and other organs.

A complete urinalysis of your dog’s urine involves three steps:
1. Checking and recording the color, cloudiness, and how concentrated the urine is.
2. Completing a chemical analysis of the urine.
3. Centrifuging a small quantity of the urine sample and examining the sediment under a microscope.

Normal urine is amber-yellow in color and clear to slightly cloudy. Concentrated urine will be a darker yellow. White blood cells can also make the urine cloudy. If there is blood in the urine it will have a reddish-brownish shade.

Many of the chemical tests for kidney disease can be done using only a small quantity of urine. A dipstick is used to transfer a small amount of urine to special medical pads containing chemical reagents that test for a particular material in the urine. When the urine comes in contact with one of the reagents a chemical reaction occurs and the color of the pad will change based on how much of the substance is in the urine. The vet will then compare the pad with a color chart to determine approximately how much of the substance is in the urine. Some medications may interfere with the chemical tests causing false results and your veterinarian will need to know about any medications or supplements your dog is taking.

The following substances are just a few of the chemicals that are tested when performing a routine urinalysis to test for kidney disease:
Urine pH – (a reading of how acidic or alkaline the urine is).
Protein – (healthy dogs usually don’t have any protein in their urine, although sometimes trace amounts may be present but that is normal.
Glucose – (sugar in the blood being significantly higher than normal.
Ketones – (substances formed in the body during the breakdown of fats).
Bilirubin – (a pigment made by the liver from dead or dying red blood cells).
Urobilinogen – (Big word for a compound formed from bilirubin by intestinal bacteria).

Blood cells in the urine are normal, but a larger than normal quantity indicates a problem.

An examination of the urine sample under a microscope tests for several problems and larger than normal numbers of white blood cells may indicate inflammation from a bladder or kidney infection.

Kidney disease is a very serious health problem for dogs, just as it is for humans. If you are concerned that something is just not right with your dog, you definitely should make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

 

Why Foster a Senior Dog

There are good reasons to foster a senior dog. Senior dogs are usually scheduled for euthanasia shortly after arrival at an animal shelter. This is truly unfortunate and is by no means discriminatory just because of their age. The reality is that most animal shelters are full on a regular basis and since senior dogs are usually the last to be adopted, they are the first to be scheduled for euthanasia.

A typical animal shelter is a stressful environment for any dog but is especially hard on senior dogs who are less able to deal with this type of stress and they often become disoriented. Also, older dogs find it more difficult to fight diseases at their advanced age and animal shelters often harbor contagious diseases like kennel cough that are very easy to contract.

Senior dogs have a tendency to be less hopeful than younger dogs when they find themselves confined to a shelter and they may become depressed. A depressed dog does not look like a happy dog and most people searching for a dog to adopt won’t consider any dog that doesn’t look and act like it would be happy to have a new home. Most people who visit animal shelters are hoping to find a beautiful puppy or a young dog.

If you choose to foster a senior dog it will be important to help the dog maintain good emotional and physical health. This will make the dog more appealing to someone looking to adopt a dog. By providing a pleasant and supportive home environment while a dog is waiting for adoption increases the odds of finding a new home.

If you decide to foster a senior dog, you should be patient, compassionate, and committed to the dog’s well-being. You’ll need to be flexible and have a practical attitude if you really want to help a senior dog recover from the traumatic experience of being placed in a shelter. Your goal should be to prepare the dog for adjustment to a new home.

You shouldn’t foster a senior dog if you don’t have the time to care for it because you’re often away from home. Plan on caring and exercising the dog at least an hour every day. A senior dog will also want to spend significant time with you each day; time to play and time for you to show it love.

It shouldn’t be an important consideration if you’ve never fostered a dog. If this is the first time you’ve fostered a dog, the shelter will help you choose the right dog that will make the best companion for you during the fostering period.

Remember that during this fostering period you will be responsible for the dog’s food and other needs. Some animal shelters and most dog rescue organizations will pay for any needed medical care.

A leash and collar is often provided by the shelter or rescue organization. If you already have or can buy a comfortable dog bed, your senior dog will be quite happy. You can also use old blankets and towels to make a comfortable place for the dog to sleep.

A reasonable question to ask if you’ve never fostered a dog is, “How long will it take for a senior dog to be adopted?”

Since a lot of senior dogs are adopted by people who are seniors themselves, smaller dogs tend to be adopted more quickly than larger dogs.

When to Spay or Neuter a Dog

If you’re like most new dog owners who adopt a puppy or a very young dog, you’re probably not sure when is the best time to spay or neuter the new dog in the house. For male dogs the best time for neutering is between 6 and 8 months of age.

This is a fairly common time frame to have your dog neutered, but it’s not a mandatory time frame that works for every dog. The most important thing to consider before scheduling an appointment with the vet to neuter or spay the new addition to your family is the dog’s overall health condition.

The vet will examine your new male puppy to determine if it’s a safe time to neuter the dog. He or she will need to examine it closely to determine if the puppy’s testicles have descended. It usually takes about seven weeks for a puppy’s testicles to drop into the scrotum, after which time the surgery can be safely performed. This examination by your vet is critical to assure that the puppy’s testicles have dropped by that period of time. If the exam takes place within the time frame of 6 to 8 months and the testicles have not yet dropped, the puppy may have a condition called cryptorchidism, which simply means that one or both of the dog’s testicles haven’t descended from the abdomen.

When adopting your new dog from a local animal shelter, early neutering has usually been completed before a dog is ready to be adopted. It’s pretty standard procedure for a puppy to be neutered or spayed before reaching puberty between 8 and 16 weeks old. It has become important for shelters to neuter or spay pets to help in controlling the dog population in a city. One of the reasons so many dogs end up in shelters, or worse, abandoned, is because the owners never had the new dog neutered or spayed. One would expect, that with all the information on neutering and spaying dogs readily available on the internet these days, every dog would be neutered or spayed. But what sometimes happens when a female dog gives birth to several puppies in its owners home, it will depend on what the owner intends to do with the new arrivals. If the new pups are put up for sale most buyers would not want the puppy spayed or neutered in case they wanted to have offspring from the pup in the future. Puppy mills do not neuter or spay for the same reason.

Some male dogs will need to be neutered before they are six months of age due to testosterone level concerns and they will then grow to be a little larger than a dog that is neutered after puberty.

The timing for neutering or spaying is not the same for all breeds. For small breed dogs, puberty usually occurs around 6 months of age. Larger breed dogs take longer to mature, which means you should delay neutering or spaying until the dog is one year old at the minimum.

    Spaying

Spaying a female dog is not important only to prevent the female from becoming pregnant during heat and getting connected with a different breed dog that an owner would not appreciate, but spaying at the proper time is also beneficial for the female dog to help its long term health. One common misconception that still manages to be portrayed as true about spaying is that it will change the dog’s personality and make it less likely to exhibit unwanted behavior during heat cycles such as the urge to mate. Contrary to this kind of misinformation that dog owner’s often receive, spaying will not cause a female dog to gain weight or result in the dog becoming lazy or lethargic its entire life.

It’s important that a female dog be spayed around the age of 6 months before having its first heat cycle. This helps eliminate the risk of mammary tumors developing as the dog ages. Most veterinarians agree that a female dog can also be spayed as early as 8 weeks of age if desired. The surgery is painless and is performed under anesthesia. The vet will remove the dog’s uterus and ovaries. After surgery a female dog will not go into heat or experience the problems of cystic ovaries, false pregnancy, or uterine cancer.

Neutering and spaying your new pet dog is a responsibility you should take seriously. The Humane Society of America estimates that there are between 6 to 8 million dogs and cats euthanized in shelters every year. Please consider neutering or spaying your pet and don’t contribute to the unintentional deaths of our beloved companion animals.