March 15, 2010

My dog has itchy skin, what can I use to stop it without spending a lot on medication?

Filed under: dog's itchy skin,itchy skin,itchy skin in dogs,relief dog itch — Dr. Amber Reed @ 6:37 am

dog itchy skinDogs like to scratch so it’s not always an indication of itchy skin. Still, skin itch is a common problem with dogs and it seems to be getting more common. There are a wide variety of causes for itchy skin in dogs, from parasites and allergens to skin infections; and it seems there are as many treatments as causes. Expensive creams, pills, gels, and shampoos can often effectively cure itchy skin in your dog but there are a wide range of home remedies that can be equally as effective.

skin allergies in dogsVarious herbs can be used internally and externally to ameliorate and cure itchy skin. Oats are an effective home remedy that you may have even used to treat your own itchy skin. Oats are great for soothing the itch that is associated with various skin conditions. To sooth skin itch create an oatmeal paste and apply it to the affected areas. An oatmeal paste is easy to make. First, cook the oats in boiling water until you get a loose, wet paste. Let the paste cool to room temperature and then liberally apply it to the affected skin area.
Yellow dock is an herb that can also provide itch relief. Again, prepare a topical treatment by boiling one tablespoon of yellow dock in 2 cups of boiling water. Cool the mixture and then strain and save the liquid from the herb. Use the remaining liquid as a rinse over the affected skin.

Finally, green tea can be used to make a rinse to alleviate your dog’s itchy skin. Just like you’re making some tea to drink, steep 2 tea bags with 2 cups of water and then cool the tea. Pour the tea over the itching skin and let it drip dry.
These treatments will help alleviate itch but if the skin condition continues you may need to visit your vet.

March 12, 2010

What does it mean when my dog is shaking?

Filed under: dog chills,dog shaking,dog shivering,Uncategorized — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:26 am

Dog shaking is actually relatively common. Most dogs will shake when they are wet or cold, and this is as normal a response to weather as human shivering. Obviously, exposure to extreme cold for prolonged periods is hazardous to health, but shaking can indicate a variety of medical conditions in dogs as well. To ensure that your dog is not ill or injured, it is important to take shaking seriously. If there is no obvious reason for your dog’s shaking, you need to visit a veterinarian.

Among the top causes of shaking in dogs is hypoglycemia. Commonly known as low blood sugar, hypoglycemia occurs when your dog has not eaten for an extended length of time. In addition, hypoglycemia is related to a number of metabolic conditions and digestive problems like vomiting that prevent dogs from eating. Low blood sugar causes muscle weakness and trembling and can be treated by giving your dog a quick dose of sugar. A teaspoon of honey or maple syrup for small dogs or two to three teaspoons for medium and large sized dogs can help restore blood sugar. Usually, dogs will be happy to lick this sweet treat off a spoon.

Another cause of dog shaking is an increased body temperature. Your dog’s normal body temperature is between 100.5 and 102.5°F. Viruses, infection, and other illnesses can cause fever increasing body temperature and just like humans, dogs will experience “chills.” The resulting shaking is cause for concern as fevers can be very dangerous. Visit a veterinarian immediately as medical conditions can go from stable to critical very quickly. For this reason, any time you cannot identify the cause of shaking, you need to get to the vet. Trying to self-diagnose your pet’s illnesses is never a good idea.

March 11, 2010

How Often Should I Clean my Hamster’s Cage?

clean hamster cageTo you, it is just a cage; but to your hamster, it is home. Hamsters are pretty clean little creatures and they groom themselves several times a day. Everybody is familiar with the image of a hamster wiping its face with its paws. Basically, hamsters like to be clean and as the owner, its your responsibility to keep their cage clean. By regularly maintaining your hamster’s cage you are ensuring their mental and physical health. Many hamster illnesses, in fact, are caused by contaminants in a dirty hamster cage.

feline healthy coat Unfortunately, hamster owners should prepare to clean their hamster’s cage every day. You need to remove wet litter, caused by urination, on a daily basis. Remove soiled litter and replace it with fresh litter either every morning or every evening, whatever fits your schedule best. This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes so it isn’t really much of a burden.

On the other hand, you should clean the entire cage and its contents at least once a week. First, you’ll need to give your hamster some place to play while you are cleaning the cage. A hamster ball is a great distraction but many pet owners will plug the bathtub and let their hamster run around. When cleaning the cage, remove all soiled bedding and stale food. Wipe the cage with warm, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly. It’s always best to use a mild, unscented soap as hamsters are highly sensitive to the smell.

When you’re finished cleaning, you just need to put the bedding back in the cage and reassemble the various parts of the cage including food bowl and water dispenser. Just 20 or so minutes a week is enough to keep a safe, clean, and healthy environment for your hamster.

March 10, 2010

What do i do if my dog is not eating?

Filed under: dog not eating,dog's loss of appetite,don't won't eat — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:10 am

There could be any number of reasons that your dog loses its appetite and usually they are health related. Various illnesses or physical discomfort are the most common reason that your dog won’t eat. In fact, loss of appetite is one of the most common symptoms associated with medical problems in dogs. As such, it’s not always easy to understand the causes behind your dog’s loss of appetite.

Indeed, even slight discomfort or an upset stomach may cause your dog to stop eating. Plus, every dog will behave differently as some dogs will eat regardless of illness. Nevertheless, the first and most common reason that dogs won’t eat is because of problems with digestion. Just as in humans, upset stomachs may be the result of eating a new food or a non-food item. Otherwise, chronic problems like stomach ulcers can also affect your dog’s appetite. When your dog stops eating, try to identify other symptoms of digestive problems like vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, and burping. Should any of these symptoms or the lack of appetite continue for more than 24 hours, visit your veterinarian immediately.
Other common causes of not eating include:

  • Viral or Bacterial Infection
  • Pancreatitis
  • Dental disease
  • Trauma or injury
  • Intestinal obstruction

While a loss of appetite is often one of the first signs of illness in your dog, there are other effects associated with not eating. Dogs that are not eating may also stop drinking and dehydration becomes a serious concern. In fact, dehydration can lead to organ failure so it’s very important to have a veterinarian examine your dog for illness. Not eating can also lead to nausea and vomiting which can exacerbate the effects of dehydration. Again, if your dog stops eating for 24 hours, visit your veterinarian immediately.

March 9, 2010

What is a Kennel cough?

Filed under: Bordetella bronchiseptica bacterium,kennel cough,tracheobronchitis — Dr. Amber Reed @ 7:52 am

Kennel cough is one of the most common and most infectious diseases in dogs. Not usually a serious condition that often resolves itself within a couple of weeks, kennel cough is known in medical circles as tracheobronchitis. Kennel cough therefore is a kind of bronchitis that affects the trachea.
The causes of kennel cough are either bacterial or viral. Most cases of the disease are caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacterium which has also been implicated in canine distemper virus and canine parainfluenza. The reason the disease is known as kennel disease is the fact that in order to contract the illness, dogs must spend a lot of time around other dogs and must be bombarded by pathogens.
The main symptom of kennel cough is a dry, fitful cough that is caused by inflammation of the trachea and bronchi. Sometimes, kennel coughing fits are accompanied by a white, foamy discharge and even conjunctivitis, the inflammation of the eyelid. Moreover, some kind of nasal discharge may also occur mimicking the symptoms of a cold of flu. Because kennel cough is rarely a serious condition that almost never results in death, treatment may not be necessary but you should still take your dog to the vet.
After taking a thorough medical history and conducting a physical examination, your vet will be able to diagnose kennel cough. Kennel cough has a very distinct sound and is therefore usually easy to diagnose. Some dogs may also have a fever or other symptoms of more serious infection indicating the need for further diagnostic tests.
Most pet owners should look into immunizing their dog to prevent kennel cough; especially if you expect that your dog will be staying in a kennel. Still, effective immunization can be difficult as there are various pathogens that can cause the disease.

March 8, 2010

At What Age can Puppies have Tests or Medication?

When it comes to the health of our puppies, we all want to make sure we take the necessary steps to protect them but we also don’t want to cause unnecessary harm. Some medications are unsafe for puppies at different ages and some medical tests need to be done in a time sensitive matter. Unfortunately, for each medication or diagnostic test, the age and weight requirements for puppies can vary widely. Still, when it comes to shots and heartworm test and medication there are some clear guidelines that all pet owners should follow.

Puppies who feed off their mothers are naturally protected from disease until the age of six to sixteen weeks. Certain antibodies are passed to the puppies through the mother’s milk, but after this age puppies need to be protected through other measures. Unfortunately, the exact age when a puppy no longer get disease protection from their mothers is unclear. This is because the length and timing of disease susceptibility will vary between litters and even within individuals in a litter. Most puppies will begin to be vaccinated at around 6 weeks of age with boosters every 3 weeks until the puppy reaches 16 weeks of age.

As far as heartworm medications are concerned, veterinarians will recommend starting puppies on meds between 4 and 8 weeks of age to prevent infection. On the other hand, heartworm tests are not recommended until around 7 months of age. This is because it usually takes 4-6 months before heartworms are medically detectable meaning earlier tests could result in false negatives. Moreover, to keep your puppy safe from disease, you should avoid contact with stray or sick dogs and never board a puppy before it is at least 5 or 6 months of age.

March 5, 2010

What are Fat Deposits in Dogs?

Filed under: benign tumors in dogs,fat deposits,lipomas,lump — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:16 am

Fat deposits in dogs, also known in lipomas, are among the most common benign tumors in dogs. Older dogs and overweight dogs are most susceptible to lipomas and many dog owners will tell you that at one time or another they have discovered one of these dog fat deposits. Usually, veterinarians will tell you that you needn’t worry about lipomas because they are not hazardous for your dog’s health.

Still, any time you examine your dog and find a lump, you should visit the veterinarian to ensure that everything is on the up and up. If a growth has suddenly appeared, your veterinarian will take your dog’s history and do a careful examination of the lump. When a lipoma is suspected, the size and location is recorded and your vet will ask you to watch it closely for a few weeks. Dog owners need to be concerned about these fat deposits only when they start to grow rapidly or if they become very large and cause problems with mobility or other bodily functions.

In some cases, your veterinarian will need to do a fine needle aspiration or biopsy to confirm a lipoma. Even though lipomas are technically tumors, they are not life threatening. Treating these fat deposits in dogs may involve removal, but usually only for cosmetic reasons. Moreover, many veterinarians will advise against removal because it is a surgery with anesthetic and other complications could be an issue. In fact, fat deposits in dogs are so common that it isn’t feasible for veterinarians to remove them in all dogs.

Nevertheless, never immediately dismiss a lump on your dog as a harmless fat deposit. Always have lumps inspected by a veterinarian in case it is a malignant tumor rather than a lipoma. When it comes to our pets’ health, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

March 4, 2010

What is Parvovirus?

Filed under: canine parvovirus type 2,contagious virus in dogs,cpv2,parovirus — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:27 am

Canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV2), more widely known as parvovirus, is a highly contagious virus seen mostly in dogs. The main method of spread from dog to dog is by contact with feces. The condition is especially dangerous for puppies that are not protected by antibodies from maternal milk and young dogs that have not been vaccinated. Parvovirus first appeared in the late 1970s but had spread around the world within a couple of years.

Parvovirus usually exists in two forms: intestinal and cardiac. In the most severe cases, dogs can die within 2 or 3 days of contracting the virus if they are not treated with antibiotics and fluids. More commonly, the mortality rate from parvovirus is only about 10 per cent. It appears that some breeds of dogs are more susceptible to parvovirus including Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and Pit bulls. Otherwise, puppies tend to be at higher risk and certain factors such as stress, concurrent infections, and parasites can make parvovirus more severe.

Intestinal parvovirus occurs when dogs have oral contact with infected feces or soil. After the virus is ingested it starts replicating in the tissues of the throat and then gets into the blood. Soon, the parvovirus starts attacking cells in the lymph nodes, intestines, and bone marrow leading to a drop in lymphocytes and the destruction of intestinal cells. Sometimes part of the intestine will prolapse but fatal cases of intestinal parvovirus in dogs usually occur when there are other parasites or worms.
Cardiac parvovirus is less common and is seen more in puppies. Puppies tend to become infected with cardiac parvovirus when they are in the uterus or within the first 8 weeks of life. The virus attacks the heart and death can be sudden and seemingly inexplicable.

When parvovirus is diagnosed in the early stages, treatment is usually effective and consists of providing fluids and antibiotics to your dog. Because vomiting and diarrhea are common symptoms of parvovirus, it is important to replace fluids and prevent dehydration.

March 3, 2010

10 Tips on Potty Training your Dog

Filed under: dog potty training,potty training dogs,training your dog — Dr. Amber Reed @ 7:37 am

Getting a new puppy is truly an exciting time for your family. Welcoming a new pet provides a lot of fun and love but also requires a lot of work. One of the most important duties of the dog owner is potty training. With these simple tips, you should be able to quickly and easily potty train your dog.

    1. Crate Train – Dogs don’t like to toilet where they sleep so crate training can be a great way to prevent accidents during the night or when you’re away from home.
  • Record Puppy Business – Make a chart to track your puppy’s behavior. Maintain accurate records of when your puppy eats and when it typically needs to relieve himself and you’ll be ready to take him outside when it’s necessary.
  • Consistency, Consistency, Consistency – Always maintain consistent rules and a consistent schedule. Take him outside frequently during potty training and always feed him at the same time. Also, be consistent with praise and punishment so your dog gets clear signals.
  • Praise! Praise! Praise! – All behavioral studies show that praise is much more effective for altering your dog’s behavior than punishment. When you catch your dog demonstrating good behavior, reward him with a treat or a rub and he’ll be more likely to repeat that behavior.
  • Establish a Regular Toilet Territory – Toileting in the same area every time will help remind your dog to relieve himself when he’s outside. Dogs are easily excited by the prospect of a walk or some time outside so by toileting in the same area you are creating potent reminders for your dog to do his business.
  • Expect Accidents – In the early stages of potty training your dog, accidents will be common. Instead of punishing your dog for going inside, praise him when he goes outside.
  • Start Young – It’s always easier to train younger animals, regardless of the behavior, so start potty training your puppy as soon as possible.
  • Stubborn Puppies – Some dogs will require more training than others. The key is to be patient. Also, dogs who are punished when they go to the bathroom indoors might not understand why they’re being punished. If you don’t actually catch your dog going inside, don’t punish him.
  • Marking Territory – Dogs might mark their territory when they feel nervous or insecure but it is also a natural behavior. Male dogs that mark their territory inside may need to be neutered.
  • Submissive Urination – Young puppies will sometimes urinate when they are scared, upset, or excited but should never be punished. This behavior is uncontrollable and should stop by the time your puppy is 7 months old.


March 2, 2010

Why do rabbits purr?

Filed under: rabbits purr,rabbits purring,why do rabbits purr? — Dr. Amber Reed @ 7:45 am

rabbit purrSome rabbit owners are surprised when they hear their beloved pet purring. Indeed, rabbits can make a “purring” noise, but this is different than the purr you’d hear from a cat. Rabbit purrs are created when the rabbit gently grinds their teeth. Not surprisingly, different purrs indicate different states of emotion in your rabbit and understanding these differences you’ll have a better idea of how your rabbit is feeling. Unfortunately, not all rabbits have been known to purr and purring can be very quiet so you may need to listen carefully.

When rabbits are happy or content they tend to grind their teeth very quietly. Most of us expect purring to be associated with good feelings but even in cats purring may indicate that something is wrong. As a rabbits purrs become more audible, you should be more concerned. Loud, crunching purrs are caused when your rabbit grinds its teeth more vigorously. These kinds of purrs are often associated with pain. Rabbits do not usually purr when they feel anxiety or fear.canine stress

In the beginning, you may find it difficult to differentiate between your rabbits purrs, especially if you can hardly hear them. In such cases, you need to pay closer attention to other behaviors. When a rabbit’s eyes are closed, this is an indication of relaxation. In all likelihood, they are not feeling pain or discomfort. On the other hand, if your rabbit’s eyes are open wide and alert while they are vigorously grinding their teeth, this could suggest a more serious problem.

You should also watch your rabbit’s behavior carefully if you’re concerned about purring. Your rabbit’s behavior will likely change when it’s purring as well. A comfortable rabbit may purr to relax and in this case you’ll notice your rabbit looking very calm. If your rabbit is feeling pain, it may also be withdrawn or may assume awkward positions.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.