December 29, 2010

Ringworm in Dogs

Filed under: Ringworms — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:42 pm

Despite what its name suggests, ringworm is actually a fungal infection rather than a worm.  Because of the circular lesions caused by a ringworm infection, the fungus was originally believed to be a worm.  The name remains but today’s veterinarians understand that ringworm fungi live on the surface of the skin.  Ringworm lesions are marked by dead skin and hair loss in the affected area.

You can identify ringworm in dogs by the presence of round, hairless lesions on the surface of your dog’s skin.  Ringworm lesions in humans and dogs are not identical but regardless of the animal infected the lesions will grow if left untreated.  Moreover, ringworm lesions are not perfectly round and as they grow they may become irregular in shape.  As the infection progresses, ringworm fungi weaken the hair so it breaks off.  Ringworm lesions are commonly found on a dog’s face, ears, tail, and paws.  They are scaly and may be red, swollen, and itchy.

Transmission of ringworm occurs when there is direct contact with an infected animal.  Moreover, ringworm can be passed between species.  This means if your dog has ringworm other humans and pets are at risk for infection with the fungus.  In fact, ringworm can also be contracted from farm animals and even with as little pet contact as petting.  As such, it is very important to treat a ringworm infection before it has the opportunity to spread to new hosts.

Once ringworm has been diagnosed, you must decontaminate your home.  One of the most effective methods is to use a 10% bleach mixture and wipe down all surfaces.  Vacuum thoroughly and even consider having a professional carpet and upholstery cleaner come in to clean your carpets and furniture.  In addition, you will need to seek veterinary treatment for your pets.  Your doctor will recommend medication and possibly a shampoo treatment to kill the fungus and prevent future infections.

December 23, 2010

Air Travel with Dogs

Filed under: Traveling with Pets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:34 pm

Although not always the most convenient way to travel with pets, from time to time some of us cannot avoid air travel with our dogs.  Most airlines make allowances for traveling with dogs but as an owner you should understand that it takes time to prepare to travel by plane with dogs.  There are special considerations to be made, such as how to travel with your dog, and also some extra steps for traveling by air with a dog.

First of all, owners must choose whether to travel with their dog as a carry on or as cargo.  Most airlines will allow small dogs in travel carriers to enter the plane.  In this case, your dog would be held in a small carry-on carrier and stowed under the seat in front of you.  Traveling with your dog on the flight is certainly the best option because you can regularly check on your dog and ensure he has food and water.

On the other hand, large dogs will need to travel in the cargo section of the plane.  There are a number of reasons why dogs as cargo is not ideal.  Firstly, if your dog becomes anxious there is nobody around to help him.  Furthermore, the air temperature in the cargo hold can be extreme.  Dogs have actually died of heat exhaustion and even hypothermia during transport; as a result, airlines will often restrict certain times of the year for dog cargo travel.  And finally, as luggage can sometimes disappear so can dogs and this can obviously be dangerous for your pet’s health.

Nevertheless, if you must travel by air with dogs be prepared.  You’ll need to purchase a USDA approved travel carrier and you must notify the airline when booking your flight that you plan to travel with a dog.  Always try to book direct flights to prevent mix-ups with transfers and to make the trip as simple as possible for your dog.  You will also need to acquire a health certificate that indicates your dog is in good health and properly vaccinated; this is required by all airlines.

Some final tips for air travel with your dog:

  • Do not feed your dog for 12 hours before a flight to reduce the risk of air sickness.
  • Make sure to provide water for your dog during the flight.
  • Line the bottom of the carrier with shredded paper as it will absorb urine.
  • Mark the travel carrier with all relevant information: your home address, airport of origin, and your destination.
  • Make sure your dog is wearing and ID collar.
  • If your dog is on medication, make sure you pack enough medication to last through the holiday because the medication may not be available at your destination.
  • If your dog is on medication, put half of the medications in your checked luggage and the other half in your carry on in case either gets lost.

December 13, 2010

Asthma in Dogs

Filed under: Asthma — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:33 pm

Dog owners are often surprised to learn that their pet dogs can also suffer from asthma.  If you notice your dog suffering from labored breathing, including wheezing or coughing, your dog may actually have asthma.  While asthma is more common in certain species, like cats and humans, it is still a relatively common condition in dogs.  As a dog owner, take some time to try and recognize the symptoms of dog asthma and then consult a veterinarian about diagnosis and treatment options.

As a layperson, you will not be able to diagnose dog asthma on your own.  Nevertheless, if you suspect your dog is having some breathing problems, there are some common asthma symptoms that will become apparent.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Blue gums
  • Panting
  • Breathing with an open mouth
  • Respiratory distress

As in humans, asthma in dogs may be triggered by allergies, irritants, exercise, and dry air.  During an asthma attack, the bronchi start to spasm and excrete mucus; the airways become inflamed and narrow so that breathing becomes difficult.  In addition, dogs suffering from asthma may refuse to eat or drink during an attack.

Should you notice any of these symptoms, you’ll want to visit a veterinarian.  While these symptoms are normally related to a respiratory disorder, it will be difficult to determine the problem without a complete physical examination from your vet.  In order to diagnose asthma in dogs your vet will rule out respiratory infections and airway obstructions.  Further tests will likely include a chest x-ray and blood work to rule out infections, heartworms, and cardiac disorders.

Once asthma has been diagnosed, your veterinarian will recommend treatment.  Depending on the cause of the asthma, your vet will likely prescribe one of four treatment options: steroids, antihistamines, bronchodilators, or oxygen.  In most cases, your dog will continue to need treatment as asthma in dogs has no cure.  Nevertheless, the condition is easy to manage and your dog should be able to live a normal, happy life.

Why is My Puppy Aggressive?

Filed under: Dog Behavior — Dr. Amber Reed @ 3:00 pm

canine stress Getting a new puppy is an exciting experience.  A puppy is playful, cute, and lovable and can bring the whole family together.  Nevertheless, sometimes our puppies don’t exactly live up to expectation.  While the majority of puppy owners will have a problem free experience, some of us have to learn how to deal with problems like aggression.  Your puppy may growl at family members, bite or snap, or bark excessively, and obviously these signs of aggression are unacceptable.  If you have a puppy that is acting aggressively what should you do?

aggressive puppyFirst, you need to identify the reason for the aggression.  Aggressive behavior in puppies may be defensive, territorial, or the result of anxiety.  In addition, puppies may behave aggressively because they want to dominate.  Identifying which kind of aggression your puppy is demonstrating will help to deal with the problem.  For example, if your puppy becomes aggressive when family members come in contact with his food or toys, this is a sign of territorial aggression.  Alternatively, puppies who growl at older dogs may be trying to assert their dominance.  Ultimately, dealing with aggression involves a training program that is built around the fundamental causes of the aggression.

Generally speaking, there are two types of training that can help reduce your puppy’s aggression.  Socialization training and obedience training have different goals but similar results.  With socialization training, you want to teach your puppy to get along well with other dogs and people.  You want your puppy to remain relaxed when there are new people or animals introduced.  Socialization training is especially effective for reducing anxiety and preventing territorial aggression.  With obedience training, you are achieving multiple goals.  First you are teaching your puppy his position in the household and that it is unacceptable to show aggression toward family members. In addition, obedience training helps to reduce defensive aggression because puppies learn the natural organization of the household.

Puppy owners can find a wealth of information online about puppy training, but should also consider a professional puppy trainer if their own efforts have failed.  Essentially, puppies need to learn appropriate behavior and with consistent training that focuses on reinforcement is the most effective method.

December 3, 2010

Dog Pain Relief

Filed under: dog pain — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:18 pm

There may be a wide range of reasons that your dog is suffering pain.  Whether your dog has been diagnosed with some illness, had a recent accident, or is dealing with a chronic condition, pain can seriously compromise your dog’s health and happiness.  As a dog owner, you obviously want to make your beloved pet as comfortable as possible and as such you might seek out dog meds or alternative treatments for dog pain relief.

Essentially, there are two categories of pain that may be affecting your dog.  Acute pain is characterized by sudden pain usually resulting from an injury.  When the injury heals, your dog’s pain likely disappears and the greater implications on pet health are less serious.  On the other hand, chronic pain is characterized by persisting pain even after an injury has healed.  Chronic dog pain relief is more difficult to treat and usually requires dog medication because the pain is usually associated with a more serious condition.  For example, arthritis can cause chronic pain and since arthritis cannot be cured, your dog will live with this pain likely for many years.

Fortunately, there are many available treatments for dog pain relief.  First let’s talk about dog drugs that can be useful for controlling chronic or acute pain.  For the most part, dog medication and human medication are quite similar when it comes to pain relief.  While doses are different and you should never give your dog medication without the guidance of a veterinarian, dogs may take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), narcotics like morphine or codeine, and even acetaminophen or dog aspirin.

Furthermore, there are a number of natural dog pain relief treatments including acupuncture and massage.  Regardless of whether you’re looking for dog drugs or natural dog pain relief treatments, you should speak to your vet about what is best for your dog.  In time, you should be able to help your dog manage his pain so he can live his life in comfort.

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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.