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Joint Issues

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Arthritis
  • Osteochondritis (OCD)
  • Stiffness/Inflammation
  • Ligament Tears
  • Growing Pains
  • Mobility Problems
  • Joint Pain
  • Back/Spinal Problems
  • Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD)

Symptoms

Is your pet becoming less active, less playful, or desiring shorter walks? The following symptoms could be early signs of OCD, Arthritis or Hip Dysplasia.

  • Moving more slowly
  • Difficulty getting up
  • Weight shift to another leg
  • Personality change
  • Reluctant to walk, jump or play
  • Refuses using stairs or the car
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in behavior
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Lagging behind
  • Yelping when touched
  • Limping
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Archive for the ‘Skin and Coat Problems’ Category

How to Check for Ticks

Monday, December 29th, 2014


Ticks are a threat that no one wants to find on their dog. Ticks can transmit diseases and even cause anemia or paralysis in your pet. As a dog owner, there are some basic facts you should know about the risks, prevention and removal of ticks. You can learn how to check for ticks and protect your pet from this annoying problem.

Ticks are parasitic arthropods that feed on the blood of their hosts. They are attracted to warmth and motion, often seeking out mammals like dogs. Ticks tend to hide out in tall grass or plants in wooded areas. If your dog enjoys romping around in areas like this, its chances of contracting a tick infection is greatly increased.

Once a dog comes in contact with the tick, it climbs on and attaches its mouthparts into the skin and begins sucking on the dog’s blood. Once locked in place, the tick will not detach until its meal is complete. It may continue to feed for several hours to several days, depending on the type of tick. On dogs, ticks often attach themselves in crevices or areas with little to no hair – typically in and around the ears, areas where the insides of the legs meet the body, between the toes, and in skin folds.

Most species of ticks go through four life stages – eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults. All stages beyond the egg stage will attach to a dog for a blood meal. The life span of a tick can be several months to years, and female adult ticks can lay hundreds to thousands of eggs at one time.

The following ticks are among the most common types in the U.S. –
* Deer tick
* Brown dog tick
* Lone star tick
* American dog tick

The Dangers of Ticks
Not all ticks transmit disease – in fact, many ticks don’t carry any diseases. However, the threat of disease is always possible where ticks are concerned, and these risks should always be taken seriously. Most tick-borne diseases will take several hours to transmit to a dog, so the sooner a tick is located and removed, the lower the risk of disease.

The symptoms of most tick-borne diseases include fever and lethargy, though some can also cause weakness, lameness, joint swelling and anemia. These signs can take days, weeks or sometimes as long as months to materialize. Some ticks can cause a temporary condition called “tick paralysis,” which is exhibited by a gradual onset of your dog having difficulty walking that may develop into paralysis.

If you notice any signs of illness in your dog after exposure to wooded areas or after removal of visible ticks, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible for testing and treatments.

Some of the most common tick-borne diseases are:
* Lyme disease
* Anaplasmosis
* Babesiosis
* Ehrlichiosis
* Rocky Mountain spotted fever

How to Check for Ticks on Your Dog
To search for ticks, run your hands all over its body, paying close attention to the ears, neck, skin folds and other crevices. Closely examine any raised areas by parting the hair. Depending on species and life stage, a tick may be as small as a pencil point or as large as a lima bean when engorged with the blood of your dog. If you live in an area where ticks are prevalent, or your dog spends a lot of time in high grasses or wooded areas, you should check for ticks once or twice a day.

Here is the proper way to remove ticks:
1. Wear latex gloves to protect yourself. Use a pair of tweezers or a specially-designed tick removal tool to grasp the tick where it has attached itself to your dog’s body.

2. Be very careful not to squeeze the body of the tick when trying to remove it. This could cause bacteria to be injected into the bite area.

3. Pull the tick straight out from the skin slowly and steadily. Try not to twist or turn the tweezers or tool. Some of your dog’s skin may come off with the tick, but this is normal. If there is bleeding from the skin just apply slight pressure to the area.

4. If part of the tick’s head still appears to be embedded in your dog’s skin, use the tweezers to gently pull it out. If all of the head can’t be removed at this time it should eventually fall off. Complications from tick’s heads not being removed are rare, as the tick is dead and obviously can no longer feed on your dog.

5. After removing all the ticks you can find, clean your dog’s skin at the bite areas using Pet Solutions Rx. This is an all-natural, non-toxic, antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal agent that promotes rapid healing. It’s an all-inclusive “first aid” in a bottle that reduces bleeding of minor wounds, decreases pain, swelling and itching.

It is important to know that there are no shortcuts to make a tick release itself from its host – a tick will not voluntarily detach until its meal is complete. DO NOT apply hot matches, nail polish, petroleum jelly, alcohol or other chemicals to the site. These methods are not effective and can be harmful to your dog.

Learning how to check for ticks and how to rid your dog of them plays an important role in your dog’s health.

Why Dogs Shed Hair

Monday, December 22nd, 2014


All dogs shed hair, some breeds more than others. Indoor dogs who shed a lot of hair can fill your house with loose hair and you end up having to frequently vacuum and pick up loose dog hair all the time.

Here are some grooming techniques to help reduce the amount of loose hair and also keep your dog cleaner and healthier.

Frequent grooming and brushing your dog will help soften any coarse hair and reduce the amount of hair your dog sheds. Try to brush your dog every day for 5-10 minutes. Getting suitable supplies for the type of hair your dog has will make it easier to brush it and helps improve the condition of the hair. There are several types of brushes and most dogs will need more than one type of brush. Combs are great for dog breeds with shorter hair.

Dogs shed hair all year round but especially so during the shedding seasons, usually spring and fall. You should bathe your dog at least once a week to reduce the amount of hair it sheds. Buy shampoos that won’t irritate your dog’s skin because they can cause additional hair shedding.

Brush your dog’s coat going from its tail to its head. At lot of dog owners brush from the head to the tail but brushing from tail to head results in a more thorough removal of dead hair.

A Shedding Blade available from the pet store can be used to more effectively remove hair and other debris from your dog’s coat. You may find that using a shedding blade is more effective than either a dog brush or comb.

If the weather outside is comfortable for you and your dog, grooming it outdoors will save you a lot of effort when it’s time to clean up the hair shed in your house.

Sometimes modifying the dog’s diet will reduce its shedding. Feed your dog a diet with sufficient nutrients and fatty acids. You can also buy supplements and liquid formulas at most pet stores to prevent excessive shedding.

Dogs shed hair on a daily basis and it is common to all dogs, especially dogs with longer coats.

If you care for your dog using the techniques described above, you’ll not only have an easier time with shedding hair, but you’ll also have a beautifully groomed dog that is a pleasure to hug and cuddle with.

Why Do Dogs Chew Their Paws?

Monday, December 8th, 2014


Dogs enjoy chewing on lots of things, including their own paws at times. But why do dogs chew their paws?

If a dog has an emotional problem like separation anxiety, it may chew on its paws. Stress is also one of the major causes of why dogs chew their paws and this stress can be triggered by a past event or a continuing irritant in a dog’s environment.

Some of the most common reasons for a dog to be stressed are listed below:
(1) A new person arrives in the family, like a newborn baby, and the dog is frequently ignored;
(2) A new pet is brought into the household;
(3) Abusive behavior by the current dog owner or by a previous owner;
(4) Separation from its owner or abandonment (this can result in separation anxiety and cause a dog to chew on its paws and skin);
(5) A serious lack of affection from the dog’s owners.

There are other factors that can trigger severe stress in a dog and cause it to chew on its paws; but whatever the cause, it’s important to identify it and work to change that motivation as quickly as possible. Once the dog feels comfortable and safe, the chewing on its paws should end.

It’s also possible and quite likely, that dogs who are bored or dogs with too much energy will find a way to occupy their time, and that usually results in destructive behavior, of which chewing their paws is just one example. You can help change this unwanted behavior by making sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and attention.

Chewing the paws can also be a reaction to a skin infection caused by a virus, bacteria or fungi. The dog will try to soothe the itching by licking and chewing at its skin. A vet can prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the skin infection and once the dog has healthy skin again it will usually stop chewing its paws.

An allergic reaction also causes dogs to chew their paws. These allergies could be caused by food or something the dog has inhaled. Antihistamines or steroid creams will ease the itchiness, but you’ll need to determine what the dog is allergic to and eliminate the dog’s access to that product or thing causing the adverse reaction.

Thyroid Problems in Dogs

Monday, September 22nd, 2014


Thyroid problems in dogs are often difficult to recognize because the symptoms are so subtle. You might notice a change in the level of your dog’s energy, weight gain, or severe skin problems, but not associate these changes with anything serious that you should be concerned about. To detect thyroid problems a dog needs a blood test before the symptoms can be correctly diagnosed as a thyroid problem.

Hypothyroidism is a common illness in dogs and occurs when not enough thyroid hormones are produced in the animal’s body. The thyroid hormone has many functions and the most important is to regulate metabolism. Weight gain then becomes one of the most noticeable symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Approximately 90 percent of hypothyroidism cases are caused by a genetic autoimmune disease called thyroiditis, which produces anti-thyroid antibodies in the dog’s body. Sometimes the disease will develop as early as puberty even though the clinical signs won’t appear until later in a dog’s life.

Hypothyroidism most commonly affects dogs from four to ten years of age, especially large breed dogs. Miniature and toy breeds are very seldom affected.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight loss, an elevated heart rate, increased urination, hyperactivity, lethargy, excessive hair loss and shedding, an intolerance for exercise – especially in colder weather – a low heart rate, and sudden changes in behavior such as increased aggression. All dogs suffering from hypothyroidism don’t display the full range of these symptoms, and some may exhibit only a few mild symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

In more serious cases, a dog may have seizures, chronic hepatitis, cardiac irregularities, or a loss of smell or taste.

To detect and diagnose hypothyroidism, a vet will do a blood test called a T4 panel which measures the level of thyroid hormones in the blood. A dog that tests positive for thyroid disease will require medication to regulate the thyroid hormones for the rest of its life.

More than 50 different breeds of dogs are genetically predisposed to developing thyroid problems. No matter which breed of dog you have, if these symptoms become noticeable and last for a protracted period of time, you should have your dog tested before the disease can cause serious damage.

Ear Infections in Dogs

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Chronic ear infections in dogs should be treated as soon as they are detected, because left untreated, they can result in permanent damage and hearing loss. Minor ear infections can often be treated with medication, while severe ear infections will require medical intervention by a veterinarian.

A dog’s middle and inner ear are equally susceptible to infections. The inner ear controls a dog’s sense of balance and hearing and a dog with an inner ear infection will lose its sense of balance and all or most of its hearing. If left untreated, the infection can progress to the dog’s brain and cause serious damage.

An inner ear infection in a dog is usually caused by the spread of an existing outer ear infection into the inner ear. The dark, moist environment of the inner ear can cause bacteria to multiply in the ear canal. When foreign objects or ear mites enter into a dog’s ear and the dog scratches that ear, you can almost be sure an infection will develop. Hormonal imbalances, allergies, and tumors are also known to cause ear infections. It is also possible for ear infections to be inherited from a dog’s parents and passed from generation to generation.

Dogs with droopy ears are more prone to developing ear infections than are dogs with perky, upright ears.

Symptoms of inner ear infections in dogs include:
* Odor from the ear canal
* Inflammation in the ear canal
* Violent shaking of the head
* Scratching the head and ear
* Bloody discharge from the ear
* Pain in the ear
* Drooping eyelids
* Loss of balance and coordination including circling

A veterinarian can diagnose an inner ear infection in a dog using x-rays of the head and an examination with an otoscope, an instrument incorporating a light and a magnifying lens used to examine the eardrum and the external canal of the ear.

The dog will have to be anesthetized to allow the vet to flush out the wax and other buildup within the ear before using the otoscope. If the ear drum is then found to be infected, discolored and full of fluid, a definite diagnoses of an inner ear infection is assured. The dog may not have an infection of the outer ear but if it has an inner ear infection, it will have an outer ear infection as well.

If the inner ear infection is mild it can be treated with antibiotics administered orally or by injection. Many vets will also prescribe a topical anti-fungal cream along with antibiotic ointments. For chronic or more severe infections, the middle ear has to be flushed out and then treated. It may also be necessary to cut open the ear drum to drain it of fluids.

Preventing inner ear infections requires that you feed your pet a healthy diet and see that it gets regular grooming to ward off ear infections. Early diagnosis and treatment of outer ear infections will also help prevent any inner ear infections.

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