Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Topics on health and health related issues

Valentine’s Day & Pets Can be a Bad Mix

I bet from the headline you thought I was going to say don’t give a puppy or a kitten as a gift for Valentine’s Day. While that’s sound advice, this column is really about how common Valentine’s Day gifts or activities can be dangerous for dogs or cats.

Who doesn’t like chocolate on Valentine’s Day? But don’t share chocolates with your dog! All kinds of chocolates are dangerous for dogs. The darker the chocolate or the greater the quantity, the more dangerous it is. Chocolate can cause pancreatitis in dogs, a painful abdominal condition with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea.

Staying on the topic of sweets, a number of sugar-free candies and baked goods now contain xylitol as a sugar substitute. This ingredient can lead to liver failure in dogs.

A beautiful bouquet of roses is almost synonymous with Valentine’s Day, but keep them up high and away from a curious dog or cat. Eating roses can cause constipation and an upset stomach, and thorns can cause injuries to the mouth or paws.

Gift Wrapping
An artfully wrapped gift is always a pleasure to receive, but after you open it be mindful of what you do with the ribbons and wrapping paper, especially metallic wrapping paper. Curious dogs or cats that ingest gift wrapping risk having blockages in the intestines.

Turning down the lights and basking in the glow of lit candles can be very romantic, but be cautious about where you put them. Tails, noses and whiskers run the risk of getting singed, or in a worse case scenario, accidentally tipping over the candles could start a fire.

If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these substances, please contact your veterinarian.

Food Toy Fun

Sometimes we can’t always meet the exercise needs of our dogs, so when you can’t exercise the body, try exercising the mind instead. There’s all kinds of ways to do this, including good old obedience training in the house, but another thing that most dogs likeKibble Nibble is interacting with a food toy.

There are some great commercially available food toys, such as the Kong Wobbler, the Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble from PetSafe, or a number of puzzle toys and slow feeders. all of which make the dogs work for their dinner.

If you’re not ready to invest in these options, there are also a number of ways that you can make your own food toy to give the idea a try. All of these ideas should be used under your supervision, since not all the hand-made toys are as durable as the commercial versions.

One of mBaxter-w-muffin-tin-smy dog’s favorite food toys is the muffin tin game. Simply take an old muffin tin, put a few pieces of kibble in the bottom of each muffin well and then cover each well with a tennis ball or other kind of ball. The dog has to lift the ball out of the well in order to get to the kibble. Once they clear all the balls, refill the muffin tin and start again.

Another idea is to cut some holes in a sour cream or yogurt container. Be sure to file down any sharp edges. Put the dog’s dinner in the container, replace the lid, and then stand back as the dog rolls the container around in order to get the kibble to come out.

A similar idea is to cut holes in a cardboard shipping box, interlace the flaps shut and let your dog move the box around to get to the kibble. If this is too challenging for your dog, make the holes bigger and along the bottom of the box. Vary the size of the box and the placement of the holes to increase the challenge.

For an even greater challenge, you’ll need a used, clean peanut butter jar and a cardboard tube from a finished roll of paper towels. Drill roughly a dime sized hole in the lid of the jar and cut the cardboard tube to length so that two or three pieces fit in the jar. Fill each cardboard tube with kibble, screw the jar lid back on and then let your dog have at it. As your dog rolls around the jar, the kibble will dispense out of the top. If the kibble isn’t coming out easily enough, make the hole a bit bigger. Here’s a short video that demonstrates how to create this toy: dogfooddispenser.

As with anything new, introduce your dog to the game slowly and with encouragement. They may need your help in the beginning to figure out what they are suppose to do.

Why We Offer Doggie Daycare

Some people think that Doggie Daycare is over the top, but when you see how happy the dogs are having the chance to just be dogs and play with each other, communicating in doggie language, you understand.
Bowser Pippi
Seeing the dogs play is great, but when you can see their personalities bloom and grow, it’s really wonderful. Last week we were so proud of these three females, Bailey the Rottie, Kumba the Ridgeback and Lucy the Cattle Dog, all strong, take-charge females who didn’t like each other too much when they first started coming to daycare. With encouragement and time spent together playing, expending energy and learning to communicate with each other, now they can all nap in the same space close to each other with no problems!
Lucy Kumba Bailey Friends

Well socialized and exercised dogs are happy dogs!

Natura Pet Struggles to Produce

Yesterday Natura Pet announced yet ANOTHER recall of all their kibble products and this time included treats as well.

This is the third recall of all the brands they make in just the last few months. The brands include: California Natural, Evo, Healthwise, Innova, Karma and Mother Nature. All lots and package sizes are effected, in fact anything with an expiration date before 6/10/14, except canned food, which is not part of the recall.

All of these recalls are due to positive testing for Salmonella, which I understand can be hard to “get rid of” once it gets into a factory, but come on…

Read more about the recall in the FDA Annoucement :

Oh no… that smell!

Its spring and skunks are on the move. Most active during dusk, dawn and during a full moon, a startled skunk is likely to react by lifting his tail and letting loose his powerful defensive mechanism – and oh does it smell!Skunk

Skunks can carry rabies, so if you realize your dog has been sprayed, the first thing to do is put on protective rubber gloves and an apron or other coverall. Check your dog over for bites or injury. If any are found, stop and call your veterinarian right away.

If the dog hasn’t been injured, other than the insult of the smell, then a bath is in order.

While Coca-Cola or tomato juice is the storied remedy, experts seem to agree that the best recipe is this one:

1 quart hydrogen peroxide
¼ cup baking soda
1-2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap

This recipe works because of the chemical reactions, but there are some cautions to be aware of:

Do not store – it could explode
Do not substitute other ingredients
Do not get this solution near your dog’s eyes, ears or mouth!

With the solution ready to go, do not pre-rinse your dog, but just start right in with the solution, massaging it in and then if possible let it sit for about 5 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Repeat the process a second time and perhaps a third if necessary. Dry your dog well.

The oils from the skunk spray can re-surface with time, so if the smell comes back, another bath might be needed.

This peroxide solution can lighten what it comes in contact with, so be careful with your clothes or rugs.

It’s no fun for anyone to get skunked, but with this recipe handy, you’ll be prepared if your dog gets it from that “black kitty cat with the stripe down its back.”

Collie and Aussie Owners Take Note

Did you know that 1 in 4 Collies could have a mutated MDR-1 gene? Aussie and Mini Aussies are susceptible too.

Recently a few different studies have identified that dogs with a mutation in the MDR-1 gene are more susceptible to having allergic reactions to certain chemical classifications. Dogs with this sensitivity can suffer acute and often fatal neurotoxicosis (poison of the nerve tissue in the brain or spinal cord.)

The primary concern is with ivermectin sensitivity. Ivermectin is the primary ingredient in Heartgard heartworm prevention, but is also the drug used to treat dogs that are diagnosed as heartworm positive.

While even dogs with the sensitivity SHOULD be able to tolerate a dosage suitable for heartworm prevention, if you have a dog that ranks higher on the susceptibility list, you may want to consult with your veterinarian.

Breeds affected by the MDR1 mutation and approximate frequency %:
Collie 70 %
Australian Shepherd 50%
Australian Shepherd, Mini 50%
Shetland Sheepdog 15 %
German Shepherd 10 %
Old English Sheepdog 5 %
Border Collie < 5%

A complete list of breeds can be found in the report from Washington State University:

For more information on ivermectin sensitivity visit the American Working Collie Association drug sensitivity page:

Blu’s Product Picks – Organic Dry Dog Food

Not that many years ago the number of choices available for high-quality dry dog food was pretty limited, but these days there a quite a few options to choose from. So how to raise the bar on dry dog food? Introduce ORGANIC ingredients!

There are a few different companies that offer dry dog food with organic ingredients, but our dogs are currently enjoying these two: by Nature Organics and Health Extension Original.

by Nature Organics includes not only organic chicken as the first ingredient, but also includes organic grains, vegetables and fruits, such as organic ground brown rice, organic ground oats, organic peas, carrots and cranberries. The kibble is essentially round and the size is quite small, about half the size of a pea. The protein content is 27%.

In addition to the dry kibble, by Nature Organics offers 4 canned food varieties 2 of which are 100% meat (one is organic turkey, one is organic chicken). The other two canned formulas are a mixture of meat and vegetables.

The other food my guys are really enjoying right now is Health Extension Original formula by Vet’s Choice. While the only organic ingredient in this formula is the first ingredient – organic chicken, the rest of the ingredients are high quality, with all formulas including: fish oil, primrose oil, glucosamine, chondroitin, colostrum, blue green algae, prebiotics and probioitcs. The kibble is a thick disc shape, but also small, about the size of a small pea. The protein content is 24%. For folks with small dogs looking for a small kibble size, the Health Extension Little Bites formula has the smallest kibble I’ve seen.

Vet’s Choice claims that All Health Extension products are made in the USA and none of the raw materials used in the production of the food originate in China. The company, located in Melville, NY, family owned and in operation since 1975, has never been involved in a recall.

Advanced New Test for Lyme Disease

Do you live in an area where Lyme disease is prevalent?

The Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center announces the development of a new multiplex test for dogs and horses that can help determine if the infection is a new development or something that has reached a chronic stage. The test can also distinguish between an infection verses a dog or horse that has been vaccinated against Lyme disease. More information means better opportunities for a targeted treatment plan.

Deer Tick image from the Canadian Lyme Disease FoundationLyme disease develops from a bacteria transmitted to the host by infected ticks. Typical symptoms in dogs include fever, arthritis and lameness, which usually develop 2-5 months after exposure. With Lyme disease, the longer the disease has been in the body, the more acute the symptoms, so catching the disease early is beneficial.

The cost of the test is listed as $36.00, but related services by your vet, such as drawing blood, means that the total cost will be higher.

This new test was released June 15, 2011, so if you are concerned about Lyme disease, be sure to mention this new information to your vet and have them look it up if they don’t already know about it.

To read more details, see the following PDF released from Cornell:

Generic Forms of Frontline

generic Frontline

Pet Armor

There’s starting to be a lot of talk about generic versions of Frontline that are hitting the market. The generic forms use fipronil, the primary active ingredient in Frontline. While available in places at close to half the price of the branded Frontline product, there still seem to be some concerns that need to be resolved. Here’s what I’ve heard, but can’t verify yet:

  • The patent for part of the formula expired, but not the carrier that distributes the product over the animal’s body, so generic forms are using a different carrier, which has not yet proven its level of effectiveness.
  • The patent for Frontline expired, but not Frontline Plus, the version that kills flea eggs and larvae in addition to adult fleas and ticks. Companies that have leveraged the Frontline Plus formula may be pursued by Merial to discontinue production.
  • Some veterinarians are reporting more incidents of side effects, such as lethargy from dogs that have been given a generic form.
  • Some owners have reported feeling like the generic form is “greasier” than the standard Frontline.

Most veterinarians that I’ve heard from are cautious to advocate one way or the other.

Until the generic products are more widely available in the marketplace and therefore used on more pets, we probably won’t really know if there are any problems to be concerned about.

The first generic version to hit the market is called Pet Armor. Others are sure to follow.

Blu’s Product Picks – Tropiclean Water Additive

Tropiclean Water Additive

If you’ve ever had to pay $500 or more to have your dog or cat’s teeth cleaned, then it might be time to consider some of the oral hygiene products available on the market today. Topiclean’s natural Fresh Breath Water Additive is easy to use and really does work to significantly reduce the amount of plaque and tarter on your pet’s teeth.
Just like with people, when dogs or cats have persistent bad breath, it is usually caused by poor oral hygiene or oral disease. By reducing plaque and improving oral health, the bad breath goes away too.
As a water additive, just add a teaspoonful of the product to your pet’s water at least once a day (the company recommends every time you fill the water bowl). The product ingredients include aloe vera and green tea extract, which you will be able to smell when you use the product. That means your pet can smell it too.
I thought the smell might lead my dogs to drink less water, so I only used the product once a day, but the dogs seemed to get use to the smell after a couple days and it didn’t seem to bother them in any way. I used the product consistently for about two months and definitely noticed a reduction in the amount of plaque and build up on all the dog’s teeth.
If this helps avoid an expensive dental cleaning for the dogs, including avoiding the anesthetic that comes with a dental cleaning, and it improves their overall heath, I’m all for it.
There are other products on the market the make the same or similar claims, such as the water additive from Pet Kiss. Also a natural product, the Pet Kiss product did not have as strong of a smell and seemed to do an equally good job at removing the plaque from the dog’s teeth.