Category Archives: allergies

What Makes a Dog’s Nose Change Color?


By Linda Cole

I had a female Siberian Husky, Cheyenne, whose black nose would change color in the winter. It would go from black to a pinkish color and then back to black when the weather warmed up. I believed she was healthy, but checked with my vet just to be on the safe side. A sudden change in color can be a warning sign something is wrong, but it can also be nothing more than your dog getting older. Why does a dog’s nose change color?

“Snow nose” or “winter nose” is the most common reason why a dog’s nose will change color. It will fade from black to brown or pink during the winter months. Cheyenne’s nose began to change color every winter once she reached her middle years. By the time she was a senior citizen, the color in her nose pretty much stayed in-between a brownish to pinkish color year round.

Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labs and Bernese Mountain dogs are the breeds where snow nose is most common. When a dog’s nose changes color during the winter it’s because the enzyme tyrosinase, which is responsible for producing pigmentation in the nose, is thought to be more sensitive to cold. It could also be a result of less sunlight during the winter months. Why the enzyme is less active during the winter is not completely understood. However, it’s nothing to be alarmed about and when spring rolls around, the dog’s nose will return to its normal color. However, if your dog’s nose changes to white, it’s not snow nose.

A skin condition called vitiligo is an immune disease that will cause a dog’s nose to change color. The cells that produce color on the dog’s nose and hair color on their body lose their ability to create pigmentation. A sign your dog has vitiligo will be white patches on his body. A simple biopsy can determine if your dog has this disease. Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dachsunds, Poodles, Irish Setters, Afghan Hounds, Samoyeds, Pointers and Dobermans are more likely to suffer from vitiligo than other breeds. Vitiligo isn’t a health concern for the dog and if they have it, nutritional supplements may help restore their coloring.

Some dog’s can lose coloring in their nose if they’ve been sick or experienced some kind of trauma. The color should return once they’ve recovered. A scraped nose or one that suffered abrasions will turn pink until the scabs fall off. Some dogs have a sensitivity to plastic containers. With constant irritation from eating and drinking out of plastic bowls, their nose will turn pink and the lips will become inflamed. If your dog’s nose turns color and you’re using plastic bowls, change to stainless steel bowls.

Your dog could have what’s called a Dudley Nose where his nose changes color for no apparent reason. A puppy’s black nose may change to a brown color as he gets older and sometimes the pigmentation will fade to pink or white. If your vet rules out snow nose, vitiligo or other more serious conditions like cancer, your dog’s loss of color is nothing more than a Dudley Nose.

Lupus Erythematosus is a condition that will cause a dog’s nose to lose color. They will also have scaly skin and inflammation around the face with lesions along the ears. Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, German Shepherds and crossbreed dogs are most at risk to develop this condition. As a responsible pet owner, you should ask your vet for advice on how to help your dog if he develops Lupus Erythematosus.

For the most part, if your dog’s nose changes color, it’s nothing to worry about and it may be part of the aging process. The enzyme producing pigmentation doesn’t produce as much color as the dog ages. But it’s always best to be safe when it comes to the health of your dog and see your veterinarian to make sure the color loss is nothing serious. The only real problem for a color change in a dog’s nose is if the dog is about to enter the show ring circuit; he will be eliminated for not meeting breed standards.

Special attention should be given to a dog with a pink or white nose because it will sunburn easily. Make sure to apply dog safe sunscreen to his nose when he’s outside and watch for any blistering which is an indication of a severe burn.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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What is Reverse Sneezing, and Is It Dangerous?


By Linda Cole

Reverse sneezing in dogs and cats isn’t really a sneeze. If you’ve ever noticed your pet snorting, honking or gasping for breath, you’ve just witnessed a reverse sneeze. It is something we need to be aware of as pet owners because frequent reverse sneezing can be a symptom of other conditions that would require a vet’s attention.

A reverse sneeze, in more medical terms, is called pharyngeal gag reflex or paroxysmal respiration. This is a condition where a dog or cat will extend their neck and begin making gasping noises that sound like the pet is on their last legs. They may snort or even make honking noises all the while acting like they can’t catch their breath. Many people have done exactly what any responsible pet owner would do if they witness their dog or cat acting like they can’t breathe, and have rushed them to the vet. As life threatening as it sounds, however, a reverse sneeze is not a serious condition, and the pet will recover on its own without medical treatment.

The most common reason for a dog or cat experiencing a reverse sneezing episode is a result of something that irritated their soft palate (the soft, fleshy tissue extension off the roof of their mouth) and throat which in turn causes a spasm. In most cases, it’s nothing to worry about, but it can be upsetting when you see your dog or cat gasping for air. The irritation affects the trachea which then narrows, making it harder for the pet to get air.

To help your pet get through one of these spasms, you can gently massage their throat or cover their nose to make them swallow which should clear out whatever was irritating their throat. If that doesn’t work, you can offer them food or water, or take them outside. Holding down their tongue will help force more air into their nasal passage and can help. Just be careful the dog or cat doesn’t grab your finger in the process. The spasm is over when they stop sneezing. The pet will recover on their own even if they have an episode while no one is home. However, if your dog or cat is having attacks of reverse sneezing on a regular basis, this can indicate something else is going on, and a trip to the vet is advised.

A variety of things can cause your pet to have a spasm which results in a reverse sneeze, but a specific cause cannot always be diagnosed by a vet even for a dog or cat with a chronic problem. A dog who pulls on a leash, becomes overly excited, has been running around while playing, or eats and drinks too fast can be thrown into a reverse sneeze. Other causes include possible allergies, a dog not used to exercise, household cleaners, perfumes, air spray, dust or pollen not related to an allergy, viruses, post nasal drip, nasal cancer, nasal mites or something caught in their throat.

Signs to watch for that could indicate something more serious is causing the reverse sneezing include a discharge from the nose or a bloody nose, any kind of deformity around the nose area that doesn’t look right, a lack of appetite and energy, or any difficulty in breathing.

Boxers, Shih Tzus and dogs with flat faces have a soft palate that is stretched out more, and they can have bouts of reverse sneezing more than other breeds because they can actually suck the palate into their throat when they inhale. Smaller breeds are also more apt to be affected because they have a smaller throat. Cats don’t usually experience reverse sneezing like dogs, and if you have a cat who has bouts, it’s a good idea to have your vet check him out to make sure he doesn’t have asthma which does require treatment.

For most dogs, an attack of reverse sneezing is over in a matter of a minute or two and they will be just fine with no adverse affects at all. It looks and sounds worse than it is. It is important, however, to understand what a reverse sneeze is so you can be aware of other possible conditions that could be causing your dog or cat’s irritation if it becomes chronic. When you know what’s going on and how to deal with it, you can remain calm and help your pet instead of panicking over what appears to be a breathing problem and rushing to the vet’s office. Your vet will appreciate it, and so will your pet.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Help a Scratching Dog Get Relief


By Linda Cole

Do you have a scratching dog that is driving you crazy? Does he wake you up in the middle of the night with his mournful yelps while his leg pounds on the ground with a beat that would make any drummer envious? Like us, a dog scratches what itches, but there may be more going on than just a simple itch behind his ear. Scratching can indicate a presence of ear mites, dry skin or fleas, but it can also alert a dog owner to more serious conditions that need to be attended to.

One of my dogs has a severe reaction to fleas. It only takes one to drive her nuts. Flea allergy dermatitis is an allergic reaction to the saliva of the biting flea. But a scratching dog doesn’t have to be miserable or drive you crazy, because flea allergies can be eliminated in most cases with regular use of flea medication along with controlling fleas throughout the home. Your vet can administer steroids or antihistamines to help calm the dog’s itching and give both of you peace and quiet from all the scratching and whining.

Winter weather means furnaces are up and running which makes the air inside the home drier. The dry heat quickly creates scratching dogs and humans, so extra attention to skin care may be required. Dogs have more dander during winter months, and extra grooming can help keep their skin in good shape. It’s a good idea to not bathe your dog as frequently in the winter.

If they do need a bath, use a moisturizing shampoo that’s made specifically for dogs. Shampoo made for people is too harsh for dogs because our PH is different from theirs. Finish off with a good dog conditioner that contains ingredients to help reduce dry skin. Of course the best way to help scratching dogs beat the winter itch is to provide them with a high-quality dog food that keeps them healthy from the inside out. CANIDAE Grain Free Salmon Formula can help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy all year.

Scratching dogs may have ear mites that have invaded their ears. These tiny parasites will cause your dog to shake his head and scratch his ears. A sure sign your dog has ear mites is an unpleasant odor coming from their ears. The dog may yelp in pain while scratching and rub his head along the ground in an attempt to stop the itch. You may see a discharge (dried blood) draining from the ear and if you clean his ears with a Q-tip and look closely at the debris, you can see the mites moving. To stop the scratching and free him of this parasite, it’s important to first clean his ears thoroughly with a quality ear cleaner followed by ear drops to kill the mites. Ear Miticide is the normal medicine used to kill the mites.

Yeast infections or secondary infections can also cause your dog to dig at his ears. If you are unsure why your dog is scratching his ears and you’ve been able to rule out ear mites, a visit to your vet can help determine the cause. Antibiotics may be required to clear up the cause of the problem.

Any time a skin condition lasts more than a week, it’s a good idea to take your dog to see your veterinarian. A constantly scratching dog may indicate a serious condition that needs to be addressed. If you see open sores on their skin or irritations like rashes, redness or bumps, hair loss, a constant licking of their feet or dry, or dull hair that you can easily pull out, these symptoms could indicate other conditions like cancer, skin cancer or lymphoma, bacterial infections, allergies, mange, ringworm, hot spots or a number of other conditions that can affect dogs.

A scratching dog can work themselves into a frenzy and the cause of their itching needs to be addressed. If his drummer’s beat on the floor is driving you crazy, then imagine how he must feel. Most skin and ear conditions can be dealt with easily. Once you’ve been able to determine exactly what your dog’s scratching is all about, both of you can finally have a peaceful night’s sleep.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Facts about Hypoallergenic Pets


By Suzanne Alicie

People all over the world suffer from allergies, to things like dust, pollen, mold, certain plants, certain fabrics and foods. But the worst thing for an animal lover is to find out that they are allergic to pets. Pet allergies are caused by dander, hair, and protein. This means that an allergic reaction can be triggered when the animal isn’t even in the room, since they leave all of these particles behind through shedding, saliva, and by simply having been in the area.

Luckily for animal lovers, there are hypoallergenic pets available. So if you love dogs but are allergic, there are breeds you can choose that won’t trigger your allergies. This includes dogs that don’t shed, dogs with minimal dander, and even dogs that don’t slobber and drool. The same goes for cat lovers; there are certain breeds of kitties that won’t cause your throat to close up, your eyes to water, or hives to appear. Take the time to learn more about each animal that interests you and how it will work in your world of dealing with animal allergies.

Hypoallergenic Dogs

Not all dogs have a layer of fur to shed every season or two. There are quite a few that have fur which grows almost like human hair; it needs to be trimmed and groomed, and doesn’t fall out.

Dog breeds to avoid include Samoyed (although they are a minimal dander dog, they shed terribly); Golden Retriever, and other large long haired breeds. Ideally you want to choose a short haired dog, and preferably a small dog.

For some reason the small dogs don’t seem to cause as much of a problem with protein allergies. This could be due to the lack of saliva and slobbering in small dogs. This group includes Chihuahua, Bichon Frise, and Miniature Pincers.

Large short haired dogs include Boxers and Greyhounds, but in those cases there can be an allergic reaction to the protein from their slobber.

There are a number of hybrid dog breeds available for people with allergies. However, when it comes to choosing a hybrid such as a Poodle/Labrador mix, it is important to make sure that the dog inherited his coat from the poodle parent. The same goes with most hybrids; you will want to ensure that the dog you are getting has inherited the hypoallergenic feature you are looking for.

Hypoallergenic Cats

Cats that don’t shed are rare indeed, and if you enjoy a fluffy cat instead of a hairless variety your options become even more limited. The Sphynx, LaPerm, and Cornish Rex cats are usually a good choice for people who have a mild cat allergy.

Sadly, for cat lovers the allergy is usually to a feline’s saliva and not their hair. Thus, it’s important to visit your doctor to determine the actual cause of your allergy. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on an animal that features a hypoallergenic coat, only to realize that it isn’t the fur which bothers you.

Breeders are hard at work developing a truly hypoallergenic cat, but for many people the cost will deter them from purchasing one.

Non-Traditional Hypoallergenic Pets

Some people’s allergies are too severe to consider a dog or cat in any form. For folks like that, there are the non-traditional pets that don’t trigger allergic reactions. Fish, turtles, and reptiles, while not furry and cuddly, can still provide entertainment and interaction of the pet variety.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

The Best Dogs for Allergic People


By Anna Lee

A lot of focus was placed on hypoallergenic dog breeds when President elect Obama promised his daughters, Sasha and Malia, that a new puppy would be moving into the White House with them. The cause of so much attention on their choice of dog (which ended up being a Portuguese Water Dog) was due to the fact that young Malia is allergic to dogs.

Many families face a similar problem as more and more people develop allergies but still want the responsibility (and the joy) of becoming dog owners. Here are some breeds that are considered good for families with allergies.

Schnauzers: the Miniature Schnauzer is an adorable little dog that loves kids, but requires discipline and socializing with other dogs. This little guy doesn’t think he is small and will try to take on larger dogs. Schnauzers tend to bark a lot, and make good guard dogs because of this. They weigh anywhere from 10-15 pounds and have a 15 year life expectancy.

If you want a larger dog, the Giant Schnauzer is a good choice. They are quick to learn but need discipline as they will try to take over. They can weigh up to 80 pounds and require exercise to release some energy. Life expectancy is 12-15 years.

Bichon Frise: If you want a small hypoallergenic dog, try the Bichon. They are adorable little dogs, requiring grooming every 4 weeks. They are small enough to carry around with you! Bichons are extremely intelligent and have a happy temperament. They prefer to be with people and are great with kids. Housebreaking might take a little longer than usual with this breed. They weigh from 7 to 12 pounds; life expectancy is about 15 years.

Designer Dogs: Cockapoo, Labradoodle and Schnoodle

These hypoallergenic Designer Dogs (i.e., a cross between two purebred dogs) take on the traits of each breed.

* The Cockapoo is a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle. Sizes range from teacup weighing less than 6 pounds to maxi at 19 pounds. They are playful dogs and they love everyone. If you want a small, fun-loving dog that would fit well into any lifestyle, this is a perfect choice. They are fast learners, and you need to stay one step ahead of them.

* The Labradoodle is a mixture of a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle. A yellow Labradoodle looks like a Yellow Lab with a soft perm! A Lab mixed with just about any breed with result in a wonderful, loving dog. It is the ‘poodle’ part of the mix that makes the designer Labradoodle hypoallergenic. Depending upon the breeder, the dog can have smooth hair like a Lab, or wavy hair.

* The Schnoodle is a Schnauzer Poodle mix, and they are a great family dog. Because both breeds are hypoallergenic, this dog is very allergy friendly. They are loyal, affectionate, obedient and loving, and have lots of personality. Whether you live in an apartment or a farm, they will fit in fine as long as they are with people. They love to ride in the car, so plan your family vacations with them in mind.

The Portuguese Water Dog is classified as a gun dog by the United Kennel Club. Its original job was to herd fish into nets and to retrieve broken nets and lost tackle. They have a wavy coat and do not shed. These are not low maintenance dogs, as they require a lot of grooming. Although basically a quiet breed, they do have a loud bark. They have strong wills so discipline and obedience training is necessary. If you’ve seen any news segments on the “First Dog,” you may have noticed he is extremely playful! Life expectancy is 10-14 years.

More hypoallergenic breeds to consider: most Terriers, the Chinese Hairless, Irish Water Spaniel and Spanish Water Dog.

You can be a dog owner even if you or your family members have allergies. Get a dog from the above list and enjoy responsible pet ownership! It is suggested that once you decide on a particular breed, you spend some time with one in order to properly determine that you are not allergic to it. A small investment of time will pay off big time in the end.

Read more articles by Anna Lee

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Skin Disorders in Dogs: “Hot Spots”

By Anna Lee

There are several skin conditions that your dog could possibly come down with. The one I will cover in this article is Hot Spots. Another, Ringworm, will be featured in a future article. I have learned about both of these skin conditions “first paw,” so to speak. Both are easily treated with medications from your vet.

Last summer Abby developed “hot spots.” I didn’t know what to think when I first saw clumps of hair missing and red, raw patches of skin. I thought, or assumed, she had mange. Naturally I flew into a panic and called the vet. The soft, kind voice on the other end of the line told me to bring her in. The kind voice also said that from my description it didn’t sound like mange at all, which was a relief.

Being overly cautious for me usually means a vet visit. I am of the belief that if I notice something different about my dog’s physical condition, it is up to me to take action. It is my job as a responsible pet owner to keep her safe and healthy. Off to the vet we went. After an examination of the spots the vet took a skin sample and checked it under the microscope. No mange, thank goodness. She was diagnosed as having hot spots. Then I got an education from the vet regarding the causes and treatment.

The formal name for the condition is pyotraumatic dermatitis, or “hot spots.” Most of Abby’s hot spots were not in locations where she could scratch them easily. She did have one that she worked at with her nails quite vigorously. That one spot took longer to heal than the others. We were already living in our new house last August when we found the hair on the floor instead of on the dog. We had to put our trust in a new vet whom we did not know, although he was highly recommended by several sources. It turned out the recommendations were right on.

Our vet has a special mixture; the compound is his own special formula that he has made up for him in a lab. It has no name on the bottle, just directions to apply to the area twice a day. I would assume all vets have some secret potion and his is a good one. We had to put the liquid on her hot spots several times a day. Whatever is in that compound takes away the itchiness and allows the skin to heal. We also use this same liquid in her ears when she gets wax resulting from ear infections.

If you notice a clump of hair missing and the spot on your dog is round, with the skin possibly red from scratching (and sometimes it has an aroma) – then your pooch probably has hot spots.

Abby meets most of the following criteria which makes her susceptible to hot spots: she has a heavy coat, allergies, ear infections, anal gland problems, and she lives in a warm humid climate. Other causes which she doesn’t share are hair tangles, matted hair or behavior problems. Hot spots can be found on a dog’s legs and feet, flanks and rump.

Your vet may recommend over the counter “people allergy meds” to help with the allergy problems. Whatever the cause is for your particular dog, make sure to follow the vet’s recommendations and procedures to cure the problem. Don’t worry about the bald spots – once the hot spots heal the hair will grow back and fill in!

It has been almost a year since Abby’s hot spots appeared, and we have not had one since!

Read more articles by Anna Lee

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.