Category Archives: canine health

Are Foxtail Plants Hazardous to Dogs and Cats?

By Linda Cole

Foxtail is a grass named for its resemblance to a fox tail; it grows in every state expect Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida and Hawaii. It’s also widespread in Canada and some parts of Mexico. Foxtail is a generic name used to describe several different species of grasses, but it’s associated mainly with wild barley or Canadian Rye. Many pet owners have no idea how dangerous this innocent-looking, fuzzy grass can be to dogs and cats. Foxtail can cause serious injury, and can be life-threatening.

What makes foxtail grass so dangerous are the tiny barbed awns that allows it to attach to dogs, cats, your socks or other clothing. Grass seed is enclosed inside a sheath at the top of the plant and the awn is part of that. The purpose of the awn is to burrow the seed into the ground, but it’s also a means of transporting seeds to other areas. When hunting dogs, hiking canines and even cats go racing through grasses containing dried seeds, the awns get stuck to their coats, between their toes and pads, inhaled through the nose, or ingested. The wind can blow them onto your pet, as well.

Once on a dog or cat, these dagger-like awns move through their coat and can become embedded in the skin. Awns can move through the body to the lungs, colon, urethra, digestive tract, and any other part of the body. Left untreated, these nasty barbed spikes can cause serious infections and internal abscesses, and can turn deadly for some pets.

Because the awns are like tiny fish hooks, they move in just one direction through the body and can be difficult to remove once they’ve become embedded. They’re usually found in the nose, ears, paws, hind end and underbelly, but can be anywhere on your pet. Once an awn has gotten under the skin or entered the body, it’s powerful enough to penetrate the ear drum, work its way through a paw into a leg, or find its way into the lungs, other organs or the brain. The movement of the pet causes the awn to work through the coat and into the skin.

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Does My Dog Really Need a Bed?

By Linda Cole

Even though my dogs are allowed on the furniture, I still have a variety of pillows and beds for them to snuggle in. Sometimes I will even tuck them in with a cover thrown over them. Now that might sound like my pets are treated like royalty, but I think a good bed is as important for dogs as our bed is for us. A dog’s bed isn’t as much for their comfort as it is for their good health. We invest in a proper bed for joint and back support, and warmth. If we had to sleep on the cold, hard floor, we would feel the effects in the morning with stiff joints and back, and our quality of sleep would be affected. It’s much the same for our dogs. And contrary to what some believe, a dog’s coat isn’t always enough to keep them warm.

Here are five reasons to get your dog a bed:

Support

Larger breeds like Labs, German Shepherds, Newfoundlands, Great Danes and Mastiffs are more likely to suffer from arthritis as they age. Small dogs that are longer than they are tall, like the Dachshund, are also at risk of this degenerative disease. A supportive bed helps cushion joints and bones, which is especially important for older canines and dogs with arthritis or other medical issues. It’s good to keep pressure off of the joints whenever possible.

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Which Dog Breeds are Most Likely to Develop Cherry Eye?

By Langley Cornwell

When you first see a dog with cherry eye it can be disconcerting, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking at. Clinically speaking, cherry eye is when a dog’s third eyelid develops a prolapsed gland; the condition is also known as prolapse nictitans gland. The prolapsed gland usually swells and turns bright red – which looks like a cherry perched in the inner corner of the dog’s eye, hence the name Cherry Eye.

We’ve discussed cherry eye here on the CANIDAE RPO blog before. Linda Cole’s article, What Causes Cherry Eye in Dogs, and How to Correct It, is filled with important information about this condition. While it’s possible for any dog to develop cherry eye, some breeds are more disposed than others. It seems that the shape and contour of a dog’s face is a contributing factor, and dog breeds with a short muzzle are more likely to develop this condition.

Cherry Eye in Dogs with a Short Muzzle

Because breeds with a short muzzle are predisposed to cherry eye, the condition seems to be common in young English Bulldogs, Boxers, Shar-Peis, Shih Tzus, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Bull Terriers, French Bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Pekingese and Lhasa Apso, to name a few. While the condition can happen at any age, it usually occurs in dogs before the age of two years, and can be in a single eye or both eyes when initially presented.

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Why is My Dog’s Tongue Discolored?

By Langley Cornwell

A friend of mine has a Shih Tzu, Molly, whose tongue always sticks out. Apparently, this condition isn’t terribly unusual for brachycephalic dogs; Shih Tzus, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pugs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Boston Terriers and Pekinese dogs experience it the most. The issue is that the shape of these breed’s skulls makes it difficult for their teeth and mouth to restrain their tongue, so it hangs freely.

Because Molly’s tongue is always lolling out of her mouth, you can’t help but notice it. It doesn’t seem to bother her though; she scarfs up her CANIDAE dog food enthusiastically. The other day, however, my friend rushed Molly to the veterinarian’s office because she saw an unusual stripe of color on the side of Molly’s tongue. Fortunately, the discoloration on Molly’s tongue was nothing serious.

The vet said that when a part of a dog’s tongue hangs out of her mouth constantly, it simply gets dry. If the tissue remains dehydrated, it can become stiff, rough and discolored. The discoloration my friend saw is a type of pigmentation that results from the mild irritation.

My friend was told that she could rehydrate Molly’s tongue by regularly dropping a bit of water on the part that sticks out, but that it wasn’t necessary. The vet said that if Molly didn’t seem to suffer because of her dry, discolored tongue then it was okay to leave it alone.

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10 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Pet Healthy

By Julia Williams

Every January, most of us do a little “mental review.” Whether we make detailed resolutions or take a more casual approach, the New Year is a good time to contemplate making some changes. Many times, what we want to improve is our health, with the goal being to live long and happy lives. We want the same for our beloved animal companions, so now is also a great time to reflect on things we can do to ensure they’re with us for as long as possible. Here then, are 10 tips for a lifetime of good health for pets.

Know Your Pet Well – Every animal is an individual, and what’s “normal” for one dog or cat may not be normal for yours. However, you can pay close enough attention to your own pet to find out what’s normal for them. Doing so will enable you to quickly tell when something is a little off with your pet, and get them immediate veterinary attention. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as the saying goes.

Perform Regular Health Checks – At least once a month (once a week is better), give your pet’s body a thorough inspection. Do a massage while checking their skin, ears, eyes, nails, paw pads, mouth, teeth and gums for anything unusual. If you find any lumps, scabs, redness, irritation, hair loss, discharge or other signs of trouble, be sure to call your vet right away. Remember, it’s easier to treat potential health problems early as opposed to waiting until they become bigger issues.

Feed a High Quality Pet Food – Fueling their body with nutritionally sound food is one of the most important things we can do to keep our pets healthy. Animals cannot read nutrition labels, so they depend on us to bring home food that not only tastes good to them but provides everything they need to stay healthy. CANIDAE makes a wide variety of premium pet food for dogs and cats of all ages, so you’re sure to find one that fits the needs of your animal companion.
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What is White Shaker Syndrome?

By Langley Cornwell

White Shaker Syndrome is a condition that’s known scientifically as idiopathic cerebellitis; it’s a disorder that causes a dog’s entire body to shake uncontrollably. The word idiopathic means the condition or disease is of unknown origin, and may or may not arise spontaneously. The word cerebellitis lets you know the condition is located in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that regulates voluntary muscle movement (like shrugging your shoulders when you don’t know something or crooking your finger repeatedly when you want someone to come to you). The cerebellum is also responsible for common coordination. So cerebellitis means that an important part of your dog’s brain is inflamed.

The condition has taken on the nickname White Shaker Syndrome because, while pets of any color can be affected, it appears that dogs with a white coat are more likely to suffer from the condition. Medical literature has determined that white West Highland terriers and Maltese dogs seem to be predisposed.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that one of our dogs is tremendously shy and fearful. When we were first introduced to her, she shook so badly that her legs buckled and she fell to the floor.

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