Category Archives: canine health

Can Dogs and Cats Get Acne?

By Linda Cole

Acne is something most teenagers have to deal with growing up, and is a condition that can follow some people into their adult years. Humans aren’t the only species, however, that can get pimples. Dogs and cats can also get acne. It won’t make them want to hide until their complexion clears up, but acne can be a problem and cause discomfort for some pets. Stress can be one cause, but there are other reasons why dogs and cats get pimples.

For dogs, their teenage years usually begin around five to eight months of age. This is the time when canines can develop acne on their lips, muzzle, chin and sometimes around their genitals. Fortunately, it only lasts for a short while; once dogs reach their first birthday the acne will most likely disappear.

Acne in dogs begins as raised areas that are hard and red in appearance. Dogs can even have blackheads. Sometimes pimples become itchy, inflamed, swollen and painful when touched. If scratched by the dog, they can pop open and could lead to a secondary infection.

In canines, acne can be caused by hormonal changes, trauma, bacterial infection, allergies, poor diet or poor hygiene, and is more common in breeds with short coats like the Rottweiler, Boxer, Bulldog, Doberman Pinscher and Great Dane. Why some breeds are more predisposed than others is unknown. Signs your dog is dealing with acne include bumps underneath the skin, blackheads/whiteheads, red bumps, redness, swelling, inflammation, itching, hard patches of skin, blisters, small lesions. Some dogs with acne will rub along the carpet or furniture.

Acne in cats is not limited to their teenage years, and can be a recurring life-Dog-Animated-no-offerlong issue. Some cats, however, may have one episode of pimples and never have another one the rest of their lives. It’s unknown what exactly causes pimples in cats, but it could be related to stress, poor grooming habits, a problem with the immune system, or an excessive amount of oil produced by sebaceous glands under the chin. Excess skin oil can clog pores which could be an indication of allergies or an underlying skin condition. Keratin is a protein found the hair, claws and upper layer of the skin, and will sometimes plug up pores causing acne. If your cat does develop acne, you can see what looks like specks of black dirt around the lips and underside of the chin. Acne can be mistaken for flea debris.

Pimples can become infected and swollen. Symptoms to watch for in cats include pain, blackheads/whiteheads, mild reddish pimples, a watery crust on your cat’s chin or lips, swelling around the chin, hair loss, reddish skin, bleeding, itching, and small fluid-filled bumps on the skin.

If your cat develops acne, it could be an allergic reaction to a plastic food or water bowl. Replacing plastic with ceramic or stainless steel bowls might be all you need to do to clear up your pet’s pimples. If you stick with plastic bowls, it’s important to wash them daily. Plastic bowls can hold bacteria which is then picked up by a super-sensitive feline as she eats.

If you find pimples on your dog or cat, never squeeze them because it could cause a serious infection as well as scarring. Don’t use human medications to treat your pet’s acne, either.

Pet acne can be caused by food allergies or other skin conditions. A poor diet lacking in nutrients, vitamins and minerals can not only leave a pet feeling unsatisfied after eating, it also plays a huge role in their overall health. Switching to a high quality diet like CANIDAE natural pet food helps address food allergies and skin conditions.

Never underestimate the importance of good hygiene. Excess oil and a dirty coat can contribute to acne. Oral health is also important. Brushing your pet’s teeth helps control and eliminate bacteria in the mouth that can contribute to acne. Some dogs and cats may need a little help keeping their chin and the area around the mouth clean. Wiping their face off after they eat can help prevent acne. Dogs that get a buildup of saliva in the hair around their mouth should also have their face wiped off to keep it clean and dry.

Acne isn’t a serious problem for most dogs or cats, but it can be severe for some. There are also other medical conditions that can resemble acne. The two most common conditions are a type of noncontagious mange, and ringworm which is a fungal infection. Both need to be treated by a vet. If it turns out to be acne, your vet will prescribe pet safe acne treatment.

Top photo by Luca 4891/Flickr
Bottom photo by Hunda/Flickr

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Should I Shave My Dog’s Fur in Hot Weather?

By Laurie Darroch

As the weather changes from cold to hot, you may feel that your dog would stay cooler if you cut his fur. However, before you do that, you need to think about what type of dog you have and what the layers of fur actually do for a dog, particularly if they are a double coated breed.

Look into the type of coat your particular dog has. Not all coats are the same, and what may seem cooler to you may not actually be helping your dog. In many cases, it’s better to opt for daily grooming and maintenance instead of shaving off your dog’s protective fur. You may be doing more damage than good by removing natural covering.

Types of Dog Hair

Some dogs have what is called a double coat. It is actually two layers of hair that are meant to protect the dog from the elements, including heat. The undercoat is thicker and softer than the overcoat. The double layers actually trap cooler air in against the dog’s body. It is built-in insulation. Huskies and German Shepherds are two types of dogs with double coats. It may look hot to you and be work to take care of their coat, but you may be doing them a disservice by shaving them if it is not absolutely necessary because of extreme coat damage.

Other dog breeds have single coats, such as the Doberman Pinscher or the French Bulldog. Some dogs are non-shedders or low shedders, such as the Poodle, Kerry Blue Terrier or Lakeland Terrier, but some non-shedders or low shedders can be double coated as well. The point is to know and understand your particular dog’s breed and coat type before you make any decisions regarding shaving or clipping for hot weather.

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What Should You Do If Your Dog Tears a CCL?

By Langley Cornwell

We like to take our dogs out in the woods to let them run and play off-leash. There is a secluded area near our house that’s perfect for this kind of activity, and we try to get out there so they can romp around at least twice a week, weather permitting. The fresh air and sunshine is good for all of us. We’ve been doing this for years and consider it quality family time.

Recently on one such outing, Frosty came back limping. We checked her pads carefully to make sure there wasn’t a thorn or cut causing the limp. Everything looked fine, but she wouldn’t put her left rear leg down so we called our vet and went straight over.

When we walked in, he took one look at her and said “I hope it’s not what it looks like, but I’m pretty sure it is.” They took her to the back to get x-rays and then confirmed what he suspected. Our dog had a rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). She had torn her CCL, which is similar to a human’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

A dog’s CCL (and a human’s ACL) is the ligament responsible for stabilizing the knee joint.

Causes

When a dog twists on her hind leg or makes an abrupt turn while running full speed, she can tear her cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). The twisting motion puts sudden, extreme tension on the ligament which can cause it to tear. Sudden CCL tears most commonly happen when a dog slides on a wet surface, makes a sharp turn when she’s running, or gets hit from the side by a car.

Some CCL tears happen over time. Obese dogs have a higher likelihood of developing this problem than healthy weight dogs. Excess weight puts undue stress on a dog’s knees and the cranial cruciate ligament becomes so weak that it slowly begins to degenerate until it ruptures, sometimes without any extraneous activity.

Treatments

There are several surgical options for repairing a ruptured CCL. Our vet opted for a procedure that involves using artificial suture fibers (he likened it to fishing line) to reconstruct her ligament. He used this synthetic material to weave between the lower outside part of our dog’s femur (the bone above the knee) and the upper inside part of her tibia (the bone below the knee), creating a manmade cranial cruciate ligament.

The other surgical options are called a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) and a tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA).

There are cases where surgery is not an option. If a dog is elderly, has a condition that inhibits healing, or is afflicted with another complicating factor, then a combination of medical treatment, restricted activity and physical therapy may be the best route.

For an overweight dog, it’s important to take steps to reduce his body weight. Feed a high quality dog food like CANIDAE, and make sure your pet gets plenty of age-appropriate exercise.

Recovery

This is where things get tricky, especially if you have more than one dog in your home. After a dog undergoes any of the surgical options for a torn CCL, she must stay completely inactive for a minimum of two weeks. She can only go outside to relieve herself. At around the two week mark, most dogs will do what our vet calls “toe touching,” which means the dog will tap the toe of the hurt leg to the ground and slowly begin putting a bit of weight on it. Our dog isn’t quite there yet. She will occasionally tap her toe to the ground, but most of the time she just hops around on three legs. She’s become amazingly adept at this.

We were told to restrict Frosty to short leash walks for six more weeks to allow complete healing. Because Frosty and our other dog Al are active and like to wrestle, it’s been difficult to keep them from playing around – but we were strictly warned. Limited activity is important in order to avoid damaging the surgical correction.

Prognosis

Our vet thinks Frosty’s prognosis is good if we constrain her activity. We will also continue to massage her knee and perform gentle rehabilitation exercises.

A ruptured cranial cruciate ligament is a serious issue and requires a lot from the pet owners and the pet. However, if you follow your vet’s advice to the letter, your furry friend should be back on all fours in due time. Wish us luck!

Photos by Langley Cornwell

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Can Dogs and Cats be Allergic to Penicillin?

By Linda Cole

In 1928, a Scottish bacteriologist named Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin while tidying up his lab. He was about to toss a moldy petri dish into the trash when he noticed something strange about the bacteria – it wasn’t growing as well as it should have been. However, it would be another twelve years before penicillin would become a lifesaving drug; two Oxford scientists – Howard Florey and Ernst Chain – produced a brown powder capable of retaining the antibacterial properties in 1940.

The new drug was rushed into mass production and sent to the war front during the early years of WWII. Today, penicillin is used to treat anything from minor wounds to tonsillitis and pneumonia. Unfortunately, some people are allergic to penicillin. Is it possible for dogs and cats to have an allergic reaction too?

Penicillin works by inhibiting bacteria from building a sustainable cell wall. Fleming noticed that mold on the petri dish was attacking bacteria surrounding it to get more space and nutrients it needed to grow, by releasing a bacteria killing compound that prevented some bacteria from forming new cell walls. This process is called antibiosis, which is where the word antibiotic comes from. Once Fleming isolated and identified the antibacterial compound, he named it penicillin. The discovery of penicillin was hailed as the first miracle drug, and has saved countless number of human and animal lives over the years.

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Steps to Take in a Common Canine Emergency

By Langley Cornwell

At one point or another during life with your dog, you’ll likely encounter some type of canine emergency. And if you are fortunate enough to have a dog that behaves well enough to get out and about with you, it may happen more frequently. When minor predicaments occur, it’s good to know what action to take. Here are three common canine emergencies and what you should do when they strike.

Dog Bites

Dog bites happen. Sometimes it’s because a new dog acts up at the dog park or because a dog slips his lead during a walk. Regardless of how or why it happened, it’s time for you to take action. Clean the wound thoroughly but gently and investigate it. If the skin is broken but the bite does not seem to require stitches, you can avoid a trip to the vet.

Place sterile cotton pads against the clean wound and wrap it all with sterile gauze. Be careful not to wrap the area too tightly because you don’t want to constrict the blood flow. Then put some type of inflatable or cone recovery collar on your dog so he won’t aggravate the area. Change the bandage every day and scrutinize the area for signs of infection. If you notice additional redness, warmth, swelling, oozing or increased sensitivity, then make an appointment with your vet to get it looked at.

Skunk Sprays

This is one area that I have personal experience with. Well, not me exactly (thankfully) but my dog. When I lived up north, I had a Spitz mix who was an escape artist. Every time she got out, she seemed to head straight to her favorite skunk’s house. I’m telling you, this happened several times a month. At the time I thought tomato juice was the antidote so I soaked her in it. Not only did the smell linger, but she ended up looking like a golden retriever most of the time. That juice stained her white hair orange. It was a constant mess.

Skunk spray contains oils that help it stick, so you need a solution that will cut through it. Bathing your dog with a mixture of one quart 3% hydrogen peroxide, a quarter cup of baking soda, and a teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap (with grease cutting action) is what some “skunk experts” recommend. The recipe may need to be doubled for large or extra-hairy dogs. If your dog gets hit with a blast of skunk spray and you don’t have those ingredients on hand, white vinegar diluted with water will suffice. Whatever solution you choose, take care to protect your dog’s eyes. You’ll also want to follow up with a bath using your dog’s regular shampoo, and everything should be back to normal.

Bee Stings

For most dogs, bee stings are uncomfortable but manageable; you should remove the stinger and then apply cold compresses to reduce swelling and inflammation. Be extra cautious if your dog is stung in the face or around the mouth area, especially if your dog happens to be a brachycephalic breed like a Bulldog, Pekingese, Pug, Boston Terrier, etc. These dog’s airways are already restricted, so any additional swelling can be serious. You should seek veterinary care in this instance.

It is widely agreed that administering a low dose of anti-histamine like regular Benadryl (not “non-drowsy”) is okay in a bee sting situation for dogs other than the short-nosed breeds. The recommended dose is 25 mg for smaller dogs and 50 mg for larger dogs, but please call your vet to confirm.

After a bee sting, if your dog acts confused, has labored breathing, excess swelling or hives or if he is vomiting or has diarrhea, then go straight to an animal hospital.

We can provide our dogs love and shelter, and feed them premium pet food like CANIDAE grain free PURE, but sometimes things happen that are beyond our control.  Dogs can get into all kinds of mischief, so it’s good to know what steps to take in a common canine emergency.

Top photo by Michelle Tribe/Flickr
Bottom photo by Owen Parrish/Flickr

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Help for a Dog with a Collapsed Trachea

By Langley Cornwell

When we adopted our most recent family dog, Al, he had been stuck in the system for a long time; he’d been transported to several different animal shelters in the hopes of finding him a good home. I applaud the local shelters for recognizing that he had potential despite some behavioral problems. Even so, he was on borrowed time, and when my husband and I met him, we agreed that we were ready for the job.

To help his transition, we started Al in behavioral training classes immediately. We still have a very long way to go with this dog, but he’s part of our family and we’ve pledged to give him a safe, loving and comfortable home for the rest of his life.

As it turns out, Al’s behavioral problems are only half of the picture. Once the adoption was finalized, we took him straight to our veterinarian. His examination revealed that Al was heartworm positive and had a collapsed trachea. The heartworm condition has been corrected, but we have to take special precautions not to aggravate his tracheal collapse.

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