Category Archives: canine health

8 Conditions That Can Cause Your Dog to Cough

By Linda Cole

Coughing is usually a clue we have a cold or the flu, and it’s also how we clear our throat. For humans, a cough may sometimes indicate a serious medical issue. Dogs can also develop a cough that could be nothing to worry about, or an indication of medical issues you need to be aware of. If your dog has a persistent cough, call your vet.

Kennel Cough

Although highly contagious, most dogs who develop kennel cough will recover on their own. However, it can take up to three weeks depending on your pet’s age and health. Older dogs, puppies and canines with a depressed immune system can take longer to recover. Your dog can be infected if he has spent time in a kennel, at the groomer, a dog park, a training class or anywhere there’s multiple dogs. A kennel cough is characterized by a deep, dry honking or hacking cough that might cause gagging afterwards. It gets worse when he’s playing or running. If his cough persists or worsens, call your vet. A serious bout of kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.

Sore Throat

Like us, dogs can get a sore throat. It’s rare, but canines can also have tonsillitis. If you notice your dog licking his lips and making swallowing motions, and he has a high pitched gagging cough, it could be a sign of a sore throat, or an indication he has something caught in his throat.

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Can Laundry Pods Harm Your Pet?

pods shelleyBy Linda Cole

Today’s technology allows for new advances in many areas of our lives. Manufacturers often develop innovative products that make everyday tasks easier and more efficient for us. As responsible pet owners, we have to be aware of changes in cleaning products to make sure they are safe for use around our animals.

Laundry pods are small, single-use detergent packets in round or rectangle shapes. Shortly after pods hit the market, warnings were issued to keep them away from young children because the pods looked like candy and kids were putting them in their mouth. Since 2012, poison control centers have received thousands of pod-related reports regarding young children. But what about our pets? Do laundry pods pose a danger to our furry friends as well? Yes, they can. In 2013, detergent pods were on the ASPCA’s top ten toxin list.

Most pet owners know that certain household cleaners can be toxic to their dog or cat and take precautions to store these items where their pet can’t find them. Landry detergents, however, are more often stored in a convenient, unsecured place by the washer, or in a laundry basket or bag if you have to go to a laundromat. This makes it easier for pets to find them.

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Why It’s Important to Eradicate Fleas on Your Pets

fleas colinBy Laurie Darroch

Fleas are more than just an annoyance for our dogs and cats. They can cause health problems that go beyond mere itching and bites. They can also spread to everyone else in the house. These insects may be tiny, but they can cause a world of discomfort.

What is a Flea?

A flea is a parasite that sucks blood from its victims. Their bodies are made for jumping and running, so they move easily from animal to animal, including the human members of the household. They can populate quickly if left unchecked. The female feeds on the blood of the dog or cat and then leaves droppings that are a source of nutrition for the larvae they produce. If you see specks that look like dirt on the skin or in the fur of your dog or cat, you are looking at a food source for the female flea’s offspring.


You can wait to see if your dog gets fleas, but sometimes a proactive treatment to prevent them is a better option, particularly if you live in a region that is prone to the growth of flea populations. They are drawn to warmth and humidity, and they like low altitudes. Check with your vet or pet store to get an appropriate medication to help prevent the fleas from getting a hold to populate on your pet’s skin.

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How Weather Plays a Role in Tick Outbreaks

ticks Katie BradyBy Linda Cole

Just the mention of ticks causes a tingling on the back of your neck. An afternoon hike in the woods can end with a thorough search through your dog’s coat and your hair to make sure none of those bloodsuckers hitched a ride. Some years are worse than others, and weather plays a big role in how bad a tick outbreak might be and when tick season begins.

Ticks are found everywhere in the United States, and which species you encounter depends on where you live. There are four stages in the life cycle of ticks: egg, larvae (smaller than a period), nymph (size of a pinhead), and adult. It takes two years for them to develop into adults, and except for the egg stage, each stage requires a blood meal before it can molt into the next one. Females can lay around 3,000 eggs.

Ticks do not die off during the winter months. To survive the cold and snow, most ticks find shelter in leaf litter and are dormant until spring. However, adult deer ticks (black-legged ticks) remain active year round. You or your pet could pick up a hitchhiker anytime the air temperature is close to freezing or above and the ground isn’t frozen or snow covered. In freezing weather, deer ticks hunker down under the snow in leaf litter, on firewood or a tree trunk, and come out during warm spells. If you find a tick inside during the winter, it probably hitched a ride on firewood.

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What You Need to Know About the New Strain of Dog Flu

122836f8-ca1b-4b74-8e5c-d389f5969895By Linda Cole

Canine influenza (dog flu) was first reported in the United States in 2004. A vaccine was developed and has been effective in helping to protect dogs from the virus. However, a new strain of dog flu has popped up in the Midwest. It’s creating a concern because it has been difficult to contain and there is no vaccine for this new strain. Even if you don’t live in the Midwest, knowing the symptoms of canine influenza helps to prevent the spread of this contagious disease by keeping your dog isolated from other canines. If you suspect your dog has the flu, call your vet before taking him in. Unlike human flu which tends to be more prominent during the colder months, dogs can catch canine flu any time of the year.

In 2004, Greyhounds in close contact with horses developed a mysterious respiratory illness. It was discovered to be equine influenza A H3N8 (horse flu) which had been around for over 40 years in the horse population. This was a case of a virus jumping from one species to another; it quickly adapted and spread among canines, especially dogs living in close quarters like shelters and boarding kennels.

The new strain of canine flu, H3N2, is an Avian flu virus that began infecting dogs in the Midwest in April of this year. It is different from the human H3N2 seasonal flu virus. It began circulating in the Chicago area before spreading into neighboring states. So far, cases have been reported in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa. More than 1,000 dogs have been diagnosed and some have died.

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Safety Tips for Dogs and Cats Living in the Desert

desert kenBy Laurie Darroch

Living in any hot weather climate with your dog or cat means taking extra precautions during the worst of the heat, but living in the desert brings additional concerns for their safety. Here are a few tips to help keep your pets safer in that type of climate and terrain.

Wildlife and Vegetation

The desert has wildlife and vegetation that can be dangerous to a curious pet. Some stay away from roaming creatures and the tough prickly vegetation native to the desert, but simple curiosity in desert terrain means exposure to these possible dangers. Pets do not necessarily know what is or isn’t dangerous for them, particularly if the desert is not something your dog or cat has been exposed to.

The sharp thorns of a cactus or succulent can cut or pierce the skin, paws or mouths of an overly curious pet. Creatures such as poisonous snakes or crawling scorpions are among the natural desert inhabitants that can make your dog or cat very ill or even kill them. If possible, keep a safe area enclosed in your yard for your dog and cat. If you can’t do that, or are out walking or playing with your pets, keep a sharp eye out for what they are getting into or examining. Eventually they will learn some of what is dangerous or painful, but you don’t want to chance it by not paying attention to the possible hazards.

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