Dog Allergies: Symptoms and Treatments


It’s fairly easy to determine whether your dog is suffering from allergies. Dog allergies can affect any breed of dog, no matter where you live. The symptoms of dog allergies are the same for all breeds and the treatments for those allergies are usually the same.

Some of the symptoms of dog allergies are: excessive scratching, pawing at the face or eyes; excessive sneezing, continual runny nose, watery eyes, acute coughing, skin rashes or dry, crusty skin, continually rubbing its face on the floor or furniture , and chronic ear infections.

Seasonal allergies affect many dogs and are caused by spores or pollen grains in the air. These allergens are inhaled and sometimes are able to penetrate a dog’s skin.

Seasonal dog allergies usually occur when a dog is between the ages of 1 and 3. However, some dogs don’t develop seasonal allergies until they are 6 to 8 years old.

If you notice allergy symptoms in your dog you’ll need to schedule a vet visit to have blood tests performed. This is the only way to confirm if the dog really does have seasonal allergies or if the symptoms could be related to a disease that has infected the dog.

Two methods veterinarians use to determine if a dog is suffering from allergies are an ELISA test, the most commonly used test to diagnose allergies; and intradermal testing.

To effectively treat seasonal dog allergies, the vet first has to determine the cause of the allergy, and then you’ll need to limit or eliminate exposure to that allergen. Most dog owners whose pets suffer from seasonal allergies will keep the dog out of grassy or flowered fields during pollen seasons and will also keep the grass on their lawn cut short.

The vet may recommend topical ointments to relive the dog’s itchiness and the other symptoms of seasonal allergies. In addition, regular bathing of the dog’s skin will help reduce allergic reactions.

Some dog owners have reported that a change in their dog’s diet reduced the allergies by strengthening the dog’s immune system. Omega 3 fatty acids are known to help in boosting a dog’s immune system.

The vet may also prescribe antihistamines and steroids if the dog’s allergies continue to worsen.

Some vets also use immunization therapy to reduce a dog’s allergic reactions. This is accomplished by injecting the allergen in small amounts in the dog’s system and after a few shots, the dog will begin to build an immunity to the allergens.

The symptoms of dog allergies should not be ignored and treatment should begin as soon as you know for sure that your dog is suffering from seasonal allergies.

Why Dogs Vomit Blood

When a dog vomits blood it is suffering from a condition known as hematemesis. Hematemesis could be a temporary condition or a sign of chronic gastrointestinal illness.

The most common reasons why dogs vomit blood are: (1) a small amount of bright red blood indicating an injury in the mouth or throat, (2) a significant amount of dark, clotted blood indicating a serious gastrointestinal condition.

Some symptoms that may accompany a dog’s vomiting of blood include: rapid weight loss, bloating, excessive thirst (this can also be a symptom of diabetes in a dog), or darkened stools.

There are some acute illnesses a vet will need to test for and exclude before the possibility of a chronic condition can be diagnosed. These include poisoning of the animal, swallowing of a foreign object, parasites in the gastrointestinal tract, or bad reactions to prescribed medications.

There are some serious chronic gastrointestinal illnesses and diseases than can also cause a dog to vomit blood, including kidney disease, tumors, bowel obstructions, or liver disease.

When a dog vomits blood, it should be considered just as serious as if it were a human vomiting blood. A responsible pet owner will call their vet for an emergency visit should their dog begin vomiting blood.

Don’t take a chance that it’s nothing serious or that the problem will go away on its own. Your pet deserves better treatment than that.

Veterinary Specialists

There are several types of veterinary specialists that often assist regular veterinarians in their practices. A general veterinarian is effective at treating most of the ailments and diseases of a pet dog, but there may be a time when a specialist needs to be called in to handle more serious conditions.

Specialist veterinarians are trained to handle specific treatments dealing with animals. These include surgery, anesthesiology, emergency care, nutrition, and dentistry.

Surgical Specialists
Surgical veterinary professionals specialize in animal surgical operations. They receive specialized training for an extensive variety of different surgical techniques that many veterinarians are not trained to undertake nor are qualified to perform.

Because surgery can be very stressful and dangerous for an animal, you’ll want to be sure your pet is in the hands of a trained surgical veterinary specialist.

Anesthesiologists
Just like in humans, anesthesia is used during animal surgery and occasionally during some diagnostic testing procedures. Most vets will use anesthesia for certain diagnostic tests but many use the skills of an anesthesiologist when a dog needs to undergo a surgical procedure.

The anesthesiologist is trained to handle cases of allergic reactions and the treatment of life-threatening situations related to the administration of anesthesia.

Emergency Care Specialists
Emergency care specialists are trained to handle any type of animal emergency medical condition including traumas, strokes, heart attacks, and emergency injuries. These specialists are trained to react rapidly to a pet’s needs and diagnose the situation quickly so treatment or life-saving measures can be undertaken.

Nutrition Specialists
Nutritional specialists are beneficial in prescribing the healthiest and most appropriate diet for a pet. Some dogs suffer from obesity and its related ailments and diseases. A nutritional specialist can assist you in putting your dog back on track to controlling its weight and improving its health.

Nutritional specialists are also useful when certain medical conditions like diabetes require a change in diet. For diabetes, a specialist will recommend a strict low-sugar diet to help your dog control its diabetes.

Dentistry Specialists
Because dental care is vital to the overall general health of an animal, dental veterinary specialists are concerned only with animal dentistry. Examining an animal’s teeth and cleaning them properly can be a difficult task for both an owner and a veterinary assistant. If your dog’s teeth or gums are in bad condition, it’s a good idea to have a trained dental specialist examine and treat the dog’s teeth, and mouth, to restore your pet to optimum health.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Pet Emergencies Needing a Vet

An emergency trip to the veterinarian can be very stressful and result in a large bill, and there are some pet emergencies that absolutely require an immediate visit to the vet.

Deciding if your dog’s health problem is so serious that it needs immediate vet care can be a difficult decision that means the difference between spending thousands of dollars versus hundreds of dollars if you can schedule an appointment during regular hospital hours. However, it can also mean the difference between life and death for your dog.

    These are symptoms of problems that require immediate emergency veterinary care:

The most common health problems requiring an emergency visit to the pet hospital are open wounds, serious burns, and broken bones. If your dog has been hit by a car, has been in a fight with another animal, or has fallen victim to some other accident, take it to the emergency vet immediately.

White, blue or pale gums are signs of low blood pressure, poor circulation, anemia, internal bleeding, or shock. These symptoms are a clear sign that something is seriously wrong with your dog.

If you think your dog has ingested a toxic item like chocolates, pesticides, onions, or alcohol, take it to the emergency vet immediately.

If your dog seems lethargic you should take its body temperature. Normal body temperature for dogs ranges between 101 and 102 degrees. If your dog’s temperature is noticeably outside these ranges you need to seek immediate medical attention.

Abnormal and loud cries may indicate your dog is suffering from severe pain even if there are no external symptoms.

Irregular and excessive coughing can be a sign of an infection or possible problems with the trachea, or even the dog’s heart, and will require immediate attention.

A bloated abdomen may indicate serious abdominal trouble and restricted blood flow and may be accompanied by unusual vomiting. If left untreated, this condition can lead to death.

If your dog has heavy or labored breathing it could be attributed to overheating or a respiratory problem, but also could be caused by stress or obesity.

Another serious pet emergency needing a vet visit, is a seizure or unconsciousness. If this happens to your dog, take it to the pet hospital immediately.

To save yourself a needless and costly emergency trip to the vet, call the vet first and describe your dog’s symptoms before going to the pet hospital. The vet may recommend a regular scheduled appointment if he or she doesn’t think the dog’s problem is too serious.

 

How Much do Puppies Sleep

If you have puppies and they’re sleeping a lot you may wonder just how much do puppies need to sleep. Puppies normally sleep from 18 to 20 hours a day, while an adult dog may only sleep 14 hours. The reason for the huge difference is simply that puppies are still growing and they need their rest.

Puppies require more sleep than adult dogs because they are more active than older dogs and they are growing and physically developing very quickly. In addition, puppies are busy investigating their world while learning new things and getting used to being around humans.

Puppies will spend much of their waking hours eating. They’ll be learning when and where they can go to the toilet when you begin housebreaking lessons. It’s important that they also begin obedience training as soon as possible.

When puppies are awake they use a lot of energy. Some puppies don’t even know when they’re tired, and will play and play until they’re totally exhausted and eventually fall asleep wherever they happen to be.

If your puppy acts like it wants to sleep, let it sleep. It will get some of its needed sleep by taking naps during the day but you should establish a bedtime routine so when your puppy grows into an adult dog it learns that nighttime means sleepy-bye time. Teaching your puppy a nighttime sleep routine will enhance your own quality of sleep since your puppy will be less likely to cry and whine at night.

New puppies usually aren’t able to sleep through the night when you first bring them home, but by the time a puppy reaches four months of age it should be able to sleep all night long. In the beginning you may want to keep your new puppy in your bedroom at night.

Young puppies don’t have complete control over their bladders and bowels and on occasion you may need to make a trip outside at night. It’s a good idea not to give your puppy food or water for at least three hours before you put it to bed. It will then be less likely to feel the need for a midnight potty break. Treat nighttime potty breaks seriously by bringing it back to bed as soon as the potty break is over.

Try not to let your puppy sleep in the evening before bedtime or it won’t be able to sleep through the entire night. If necessary, keep your puppy awake by playing with it or by doing some additional obedience training.

Puppies will sleep as much as they can so don’t be alarmed if your puppy sleeps longer than 20 hours a day.

Vet Care For Older Dogs

Regular professional vet care for older dogs is essential to their health. Preventive veterinary care can add years to the life of your dog and help keep it happy and healthy for as long as possible.

Because many of our pets are living longer, the earlier the diagnosis of a disease can be made and treatment started, the better the outcome. Many animal clinics and hospitals have also developed special preventive care programs for older animals. Treatments can include combinations of various diagnostic tests including blood tests, urinalysis, x-rays, and EKGs. Your veterinarian can tell you which tests are pertinent for your dog.

Your dog’s life-long health is partially determined by the health of its father and mother on the day it was conceived. Vaccinations, nutrition, dental care, heartworm prevention, and other treatments your dog has received throughout its life have a direct impact on its current health. The healthier a dog is when young, the more likely it will stay healthy as it grows older.

Weight management and diet
Your dog should be weighed at every visit to your vet. Unusual weight gain which can lead to obesity is one of the most common and preventable diseases in older dogs. And an unexplained weight loss may be the first sign of a disease. Your vet can recommend which foods and supplements your dog should be fed based upon his weight, health, and breed. The digestive systems of older dogs do not handle sudden changes in diet very well. If your vet recommends an adjustment in diet, make any changes slowly over the course of a week or longer, gradually replacing the old diet with the new one your vet has recommended.

Medical and behavior history
One of the main ways your vet will use to determine if your dog has contracted a disease is through the use of an accurate medical history. For this reason it is important to monitor your dog and keep accurate records of any sign of disease and unusual changes in behavior . Your vet will ask questions such as ”When did this symptom first appear?”, ”Is it getting better or worse?”, and ”Is the dog demonstrating the symptom at all times or intermittently?”. These are questions that only you will be able to answer. If you are not sure whether certain behaviors or observations are indicative of a disease, be sure to mention them to your veterinarian.

Physical exam
Older dogs should receive regular physical exams. How often these exams should be scheduled depends upon the health of your dog. At the very least, your dog should have an annual physical. For some older dogs, two or more exams a year may be indicated. A physical exam should include an examination of the mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, and throat. A rectal exam is also an important part of a physical exam for an older dog. Your vet will examine the inner pelvic area, internal lymph nodes, the lining of the colon, and in the male dog, his prostate gland.

Ophthalmic exams
As dogs grow older, eye exams are also recommended. Older dogs are more at risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma, and ”dry eye,” a condition in which there is insufficient tear production. Ophthalmic exams will help identify these problems and may prevent permanent damage to the eye.

Vaccinations
Because the immune system of an older dog may not function as well as it did during the dog”s younger years, it’s important to keep your dog up-to-date on all vaccinations. Ask your vet which vaccines your dog should receive, and how often.

Urinalysis
Many veterinarians will recommend a urinalysis for older dogs. A urinalysis encompasses a series of tests which provide an abundance of information for the vet in determining a dog’s health. A urine sample is usually easy to obtain, and the test results are quickly available to the vet. If you notice any changes in the color, odor, or amount of your dog”s urine, or any difficulty urinating, it is important that a urinalysis be performed.

Blood count
There are many blood tests that can be performed on your pet. The specific tests needed will be recommended by your veterinarian. In addition, a chemistry panel may be run to evaluate the various chemicals, enzymes, proteins, hormones, waste products, and electrolytes in your dog’s blood. The chemistry panel is a valuable tool in identifying diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and several hormonal diseases.

Thyroid testing
Thyroid testing may also be recommended by your veterinarian, based upon the results of the physical exam, the breed of your dog, and any signs of thyroid hormone deficiency or excess. Dogs who need to take thyroid medication will need to have their thyroid hormone levels checked at regular intervals.

X-Rays
If your dog has a history of heart, lung, kidney, liver, or gastrointestinal disease, x-rays may be recommended. As a dog grows older, it is helpful to have available an x-ray of the chest and abdomen taken at an earlier date while the dog was in prime health. If the dog later develops signs of disease, these ”normal” x-rays are valuable in providing a baseline by which to evaluate the x-rays taken after a disease process has started. In most cases, a dog who has or has had cancer will have x-rays taken, especially of the chest, to look for any spread of the disease.

Vet care for older dogs is far more important that it is for puppies or young adult dogs. Older dogs need regular veterinary care to prevent disease or diagnose it at its earliest stage. Many veterinarians have special programs to monitor dogs in their later years of life and can institute changes to keep your dog healthy and make his senior years a wonderful time of life.

Pet Emergencies That Require a Visit to the Vet

Pet emergencies often require a visit to the vet, especially any serious health problems where diagnostic help is available only from a veterinarian.

Since our four-legged friends are unable to tell us when they are in pain or when something is terribly wrong with them, it’s critical to their health and well-being that we watch out for warning signs that indicate our pet needs to be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, immediately call your veterinarian and explain the problem. Your vet will decide whether your dog’s problem is serious and requires an immediate visit, or whether a later visit can be scheduled at an appropriate time

The following symptoms and signs indicate an emergency condition. You need to contact your veterinarian right away if your dog:

* Has suffered an injury to the eye;
* Has been in a fight with a cat or wild animal like a raccoon (your pet could contract rabies);
* Is bleeding heavily from a cut and you are unable to stop it;
* Has been hit by a moving car or truck (even if there are no visible injuries, your dog could be bleeding internally);
* Has visible puncture wounds to its chest or stomach area;
* Has broken a bone or has had a hard blow to the head;
* Has been bitten by a snake or poisonous spider;
* Has a fever over 105°F (normal is less than 102.5°F);
* Its abdomen appears large, or it continues to try to vomit but nothing comes up;
* Your dog has fallen or jumped from an open window higher than the first story;
* Has chewed an electrical cord and received a shock or burn;
* Has inhaled smoke from a fire and has trouble breathing;
* Has sudden, severe difficulty breathing;
* Is vomiting blood or has uncontrolled vomiting of liquids or food;
* Has bloody diarrhea or black, tarry stool;
* Has continued bleeding from the rectum;
* Suddenly cannot place any weight on one or more of its legs;
* Strains continually but is unable to urinate, or the urine has blood in it;
* Suddenly suffers from extreme lethargy, becomes unconsciousness, or lapses into a coma;
* Has seizures;
* Appears to be in severe or continuous pain;
* Cries while trying to urinate or when touched or picked up;
* Bleeds from the urinary or genital area;
* Has cloudy eyes, squints, or appears to be unable to see.

These are all symptoms indicative of a pet emergency that requires quick action and rational calm thinking on your part. Your faithful companion deserves the best loving care you can give it.