October 13, 2010

Choosing a Dog Groomer

Filed under: Dog Grooming — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:36 am

One of the key responsibilities of a dog owner is grooming.  Dogs need to be brushed and bathed, they need their teeth cleaned, and their nails trimmed and these are just a few of the grooming needs of your beloved pup.  While many dog owners take on the task of grooming themselves, many others prefer to go with a professional groomer.  Professional groomers are a dime a dozen and you are likely to find many suitable choices in your community.  Nevertheless, you should carefully consider your groomer before putting your dog in their hands.

First of all, you should try speaking to friends with dogs.  They can recommend groomers based on experience.  In fact, word of mouth is one of the main ways that groomers acquire new business.  If your dog owning friends recommend a groomer based on his or her skill and ability to relate to dogs, you can be rest assured that your dog is in good hands.  Still, recommendations are just the first step to finding the ideal groomer.  Once you have narrowed your search to a few select dog groomers, visit each individually and have a look at their facilities.

Reputable dog groomers will be happy to give you a tour of their facilities and answer any questions you have.  When choosing a dog groomer, you want to strike a balance between quality and affordability.  Nevertheless, there are a few qualities of a good groomer that should never be overlooked.

  • Facilities should be clean and well organized.
  • Equipment should be in good condition.
  • Ensure drying cages are hygienic and well maintained.
  • Good groomers offer a wide range of services.

In addition, try to get some information about the groomer specifically.  Choosing a dog groomer with experience (especially with your breed), flexible hours, and a wide range of skills is always best.  Finally, bring your dog to the groomer and make sure he is comfortable.  Your dog’s happiness, after all, is most important.

October 12, 2010

Giving your Dog Aspirin

Filed under: Dog Aspirin — Dr. Amber Reed @ 2:36 pm

Dog’s suffering from chronic pain, arthritis, or other forms of inflammation can be treated with aspirin.  However, giving your dog aspirin can have some seriously negative side effects and as such you should speak with your veterinarian before administering aspirin to your dog.  Nevertheless, there are many common uses for aspirin with dogs as long as you are careful about the dose and only use aspirin when indicated, giving your dog aspirin is safe and effective.

First, let’s talk about some of the uses for aspirin in dogs.  For the most part, dogs are given aspirin to treat joint pain that is associated with osteoarthritis, but since aspirin is an effective anti-inflammatory and reduces swelling aspirin can also be used to treat the pain associated with injury.  Moreover, while giving your dog aspirin reduces pain, it also reduces fevers as well as many commercially available pet meds.

Still, it is inadvisable to give your dog aspirin unless it has been recommended by a veterinarian.  Aspirin can be toxic for dogs and should never be administered for young dogs or cats.  High doses of aspirin (30mg per pound) can be dangerous for your dog.  Even baby aspirin contains a very high dose for some dogs and when administered in higher doses aspirin can lead to stomach ulcers or gastrointestinal upset and in very severe cases may even lead to death.  Aspirin prevents blood clotting and when ulcers form and start to bleed this can lead to death.  And just a quick word of warning: Never give your dog Tylenol or acetaminophen as a replacement for aspirin as these medications are very dangerous for dogs.

The recommended dose of aspirin for a dog is about 10mg per pound but it is always better to give not enough rather than too much.  If your veterinarian has recommended giving your dog aspirin to treat arthritis, he should also give you specific dosing instructions as well as which animal prescription drugs cannot be used with aspirin.  Ultimately, aspirin is a useful treatment for your dog but only if it is used in the correct dose.

October 8, 2010

Diabetic Cat Food

Filed under: Diabetes in Cats — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:08 am

As with humans, cats that have been diagnosed with diabetes have special dietary requirements and while you may believe that all cat foods are nutritionally balanced and ideal for all cats, this is not always the case.  Indeed, there is a fair range of specifically formulated diabetic cat foods on the market, even these will not always be appropriate for every diabetic cat.  Your veterinarian should be your first source of information about what to feed your diabetic cat as nutrition has an immediate impact on the progression and symptomology of diabetes.

Since diabetes is often related to other health concerns like obesity, kidney and pancreas problems, each diabetic cat will likely have very specific nutritional needs.  However, in the broad sense, cats with diabetes should be fed a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in protein.  Naturally, cats are carnivores so it makes sense that they have evolved to eat a protein rich diet.  In fact, traditionally cats would have had very little access to carbohydrates yet many inexpensive dry cat foods are rich in cheaper carbohydrate-based additives that are filling like proteins.  Canned cat foods are often a good alternative to dry varieties as they are usually high in protein.  Still, many canned cat foods can be unnecessarily high in sugars so be selective and read labels.

In some cases, veterinarians will recommend a prescription diabetic cat food that provides your cat with highly specified nutrition.  The downside to these diabetic cat food prescriptions is that they can be very expensive and unaffordable for many households.  Ultimately, you should discuss your budget and your cat’s needs with your veterinarian to find an effective, yet affordable diabetic cat food.  Also remember that many cats are picky with their food choices so you may want to have a few reasonable options available to help you find something to your cat’s taste.

October 7, 2010

Dog Euthanasia and Grieving your Pet

Filed under: euthanasia — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:02 am

There comes a time for many pet owners when they have to prepare to say goodbye to their beloved dog.  When we first bond with a new puppy, very few of us spend any time thinking about how our dogs’ lives will end.  Nevertheless, dog euthanasia is a very common concern for owners of elderly dogs which makes the grieving process even more difficult.  With our human loved ones, we never really have to make the decision to end their lives; while dog euthanasia is a common and often considerably more humane approach to the end of a dog’s life.

Deciding to euthanize your dog is a difficult decision and owners wrestle with some of the details.  Fortunately, the method of euthanizing pets is standard: dogs are given a lethal overdose of barbiturates which essentially puts your dog to sleep so he can die peacefully and painlessly.  Still, when it comes to some of the finer details, such as whether you should or should not be present for the death, grieving pet owners face a dilemma.

Ultimately, you have to decide the best way to say goodbye to your dog.  Being present allows you to experience your dog’s final moments and many owners feel this is a good way to seek closure.  You can see that your dog dies peacefully and you can feel relieved at the end of his pain.  Yet, other dog owners cannot deal with the emotions that often present in the final moments and there is certainly no shame in staying away while your dog is euthanized.

Finally, most dog owners struggle with knowing when euthanasia is necessary and for the most part we resist the idea.  Essentially killing our beloved pets, even if it is the most humane choice, is extremely difficult.  Still, you need to consider your dog’s comfort level first and foremost.  If your dog is suffering from extreme pain and cannot derive pleasure from life, it is probably time to start talking to your veterinarian about euthanasia.

October 6, 2010

Do Dogs Get Colds?

Filed under: Dog health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 12:37 pm

From time to time you may find yourself asking what to do when your dog has a cold.  He has developed a runny nose, cough, and sneezing and you think it must be a cold.  However, dogs are not like humans and their cold-like symptoms are more likely a sign of respiratory illness caused by a canine-specific virus or bacterium.

Some of the most common reasons your dog may be suffering cold like symptoms include para-influenza, adenovirus type-2, kennel cough, and canine distemper.

  • Para-influenza is very common and highly contagious among dogs.  Para-influenza is a virus that causes dogs to have a chronic cough but most dogs today are vaccinated against this pervasive virus.
  • Adenovirus Type-2 is one of the leading contributors to kennel cough which is most often confused for a doggy cold.  While there are vaccines for this virus, it is not yet possible to completely prevent infection.  Still, adenovirus type-2 vaccinations can drastically reduce the severity of illness that dogs suffer when they are infected.
  • Kennel Cough can also be caused by canine-specific bacteria such as Bordetella bronchiseptica.  This condition presents as a rasping, chronic cough accompanied by phlegm as well as discharge from the nose and eyes.  While kennel cough is known to resolve itself, unless your dog is also immuno-suppressed.  In severe cases, kennel cough may develop into pneumonia which can be life threatening.
  • Canine Distemper is a serious and very contagious disease caused by a virus that is spread through the air.  Dogs should be vaccinated for canine distemper because it is a serious illness that often ends in fatality.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from any of these conditions or you notice cold-like symptoms, you should visit your veterinarian immediately.  In the majority of cases, treatment is effective and sometimes even life saving.

October 5, 2010

Effective Cat Flea Treatment

Filed under: flea treatment — Dr. Amber Reed @ 10:35 am

As a pet owner, you can never take pet health too seriously.  Fleas are a relatively common parasite that live in your cat’s skin and can potentially cause serious health problems.  Moreover, even when fleas do not cause disease, they can be very irritating for your cat.  As such, effective cat flea treatments are important for any cats living in areas known to harbor fleas.

The most effective cat flea treatment must be thorough and comprehensive.  Indeed, eliminating fleas can be a lengthy process and pet owners must be vigilant to ensure fleas have been killed and will not return.  Fleas are prolific and persistent and have been associated with a wide range of very serious diseases such as the Bubonic plague.  Furthermore, fleas can also bite humans making them annoying for everybody in the family.

Generally speaking, there are a few steps that you must take to rid your cat of fleas.  First of all, using a fine-toothed flea comb helps to remove fleas already living in your cat’s fur.  Using basic rubbing alcohol, you can kill the fleas as they are removed so they will not be a bother in the future.  In addition, many cat owners use a flea collar to prevent future flea problems.

Pet owners will also want to clean their home thoroughly to rid their bedding, carpets, draperies, and other areas of the home of fleas.  Still, outdoor cats will be susceptible to fleas so many veterinarians recommend commercial flea treatments which may include shampoos, collars, and medications.  Fortunately, there are many online sources for cheap pet meds that can save pet owners hundreds of dollars when treating their pets.

Finally, remember that cat flea treatments and dog flea treatments are not the same.  Cats tend to be more sensitive than dogs so you will need to find products that are specifically designed for cats.  Vigilant, consistent pet owners will find that controlling fleas needn’t be an arduous task.

October 4, 2010

What Abnormal Dog Panting Means to Your Dog’s Health

Filed under: Dog Behavior — Dr. Amber Reed @ 12:35 pm

canine stressIn the vast majority of situations, panting is a normal respiratory response for dogs.  When their body temperature rises, dogs rely on panting rather than sweating to cool down.  In addition, panting in dogs is normally seen when your dog is under stress or anxiety, or as a response to intense physical activity.  However, if there is no apparent reason for your dog’s panting, there may be a more serious health problem afoot.  As such, it is important to recognize the difference between normal and abnormal panting.

Panting is defined as breathing with rapid, short gasps usually after physical exertion or in extreme temperatures.  When dogs pant, they breathe through an open mouth and usually their tongue is hanging out.  Panting helps a dog to cool down and regulate breathing and is normally associated with

  • Heat – to cool down
  • Physical exertion – to normalize breathing
  • Nervousness, anxiety, or excitement – as a response to stressful stimuli

why is my dog pantingNevertheless, while panting is a very normal dog behavior, abnormal panting has been associated with a variety of health problems.  Most notably, abnormal panting may be the sign of a respiratory or cardiovascular problem.  Dogs suffering from respiratory disorders often pant more than usual or for no apparent reason.  In addition, panting in dogs with respiratory or cardiovascular illness is also combined with other symptoms like labored breathing, lethargy, changes in appetite, or lack of motivation.

The following are common respiratory and cardiovascular conditions where abnormal panting is a symptom.

  • Collapsing trachea
  • Obstruction of the respiratory tract
  • Lung disease
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Heartworm
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy

Unfortunately, these conditions are all very serious if left untreated.  While there is very rarely any reason to have concern about your dog’s panting, if you suspect abnormal panting in addition to other symptoms, visit your veterinarian immediately so your dog can start the correct course of treatment.

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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.