The Dog Owner’s Guide to Canine Liver Disease

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Canine liver disease is one of the causes of death in dogs and is something to be taken seriously by dog owners. The liver is responsible for a number of essential, important body functions and a problem with the liver will affect the overall health and well-being of your dog

Liver Functions

The liver has several important functions to maintain the health of your dog. Blood detoxification, waste removal and the production of bile to aid digestion of food are just some of these vital functions. The liver is involved in nearly all body processes and is a strong resilient organ that continues working even though liver disease in your dog may be present in early stages.

The liver plays a role with almost all biochemical pathways that allow growth, fight disease, supply nutrients, provide energy, and aid reproduction. Liver cells go through thousands of chemical reactions every second in order to perform all of this work. As the liver is involved with so many processes, it is an obvious target to be affected by different diseases. Liver function is vital to life.

Milk Thistle for Dog Liver DiseaseIn Stock

Milk Thistle for Dog Liver Disease

Natural support for liver disease and liver detox in dogs

A healthy liver is important for dogs because it detoxifies any chemicals or pesticides they may be exposed to, toxins in food they scavenge, and chemical prescription drugs.

Canine Milk Thistle is essential for dogs with liver disease, and for dogs on medication for:

  • heart worm prevention
  • steroids
  • pain and anti-inflammatory medications

No known side effects: gentle for long-term use
1 bottle is a 2-month supply for most dogs

Day after day for every second of life, the liver processes raw materials and manufactures the building blocks of the body. It recycles old material to make new, and detoxifies body waste. Because of its importance in the dog’s body and the far-reaching effects of its activity, symptoms of liver disease are usually non-specific and unpredictable. The liver is susceptible to a wide range of diseases including degenerative disease, viral and bacterial infections, neoplastic disease (tumor), and toxicity.

Liver conditions are difficult to diagnose as it has an incredible life preserving capacity, which means it can easily continue to perform its function with up to 70 or 80% of the liver affected by disease. It has a phenomenal reserve capacity, which often means that by the time liver disease is diagnosed; it is very advanced meaning the condition may be untreatable in the worst cases. While it is of tremendous benefit that the liver can keep your dog alive despite an overwhelming infection or a tumor, it means the option of treating symptoms early is rare when a better outcome could be expected. However, the liver is the only organ in your dog’s body that is capable of complete regeneration, so if treatment is successful, the chances of complete recovery are high.



The liver is the organ that co-ordinates the metabolism of fat, carbohydrate, and protein. This is performed alongside the circulatory system, the lymphatic system, and the endocrine (hormone) system. Metabolism is dependent on a healthy liver.


The liver produces all proteins except for those synthesized by the immune system. It does this by assembling amino acids into protein. The main protein produced by the liver is called albumin.

Normal albumin in the bloodstream is important for many bodily functions. Without it being produced by the liver properly, it can cause fluid in arteries and veins to leak out and pool in the abdominal and chest cavities. Albumin also transports calcium, vitamins, hormones, fatty acids, bilirubin, and many drug medications through the bloodstream.

One consistent finding with liver disease is low protein levels. This low level occurs only when the liver has been diseased over a long period of time as aforementioned; the liver has a remarkable capacity to continue working while diseased.


With the aid of the hormones insulin and glucagon, the liver maintains normal blood glucose levels. Abnormalities that affect blood glucose level result from insulinoma or diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes).

Glucose that is stored in liver cells is called glycogen. It acts as reservoir during times when carbohydrate intake is low (fasting or starvation). The liver can also manufacture glucose from proteins or fats. When your dog has liver disease, his body may have difficulty regulating blood glucose levels which leads to hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). Because of these abnormalities, intake of calories and diet are an important aspect of liver disease.


The liver regulates fats (called fatty acids) in the bloodstream. Excess amounts of carbohydrate and protein are converted into fatty acids. From the fatty acids, the liver produces cholesterol, which is necessary for many functions particularly the sex hormones, and cortisone.


There are times when your dog’s liver may have to fight very hard against toxicity. Any type of poisoning from weed killer or car anti-freeze your dog may ingest will have a serious effect on the liver as it tries to flush out the poison. Often the impact of poisoning is too severe for the liver to fight back and sadly the outcome usually results in death or the dog being euthanized. It is important to protect your dog from access to any toxic substances and to be aware that dogs do not tolerate some drug medications like humans so care must be taken not to give any medication that has not been prescribed by your vet. Even then, some drugs are quite aggressive and may affect your dog’s liver if he is undergoing some other kind of treatment.

Detoxification is an important liver function. In the liver cells, a complex process occurs depending on the substance being detoxified. The offending toxin is inactivated and eliminated by the body. It will either pass through the kidneys and excreted in urine or, secreted into bile and passed out in the feces.

Bile Metabolism

Bile is made up of electrolytes, cholesterol, bile acids, bilirubin, and globulins. It is produced by hepatocytes, secreted into channels in the liver called and stored in the gall bladder. Drugs are eliminated in the bile, red blood cells are re-circulated through the bile system, and fats are absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream only in the presence of bile.

When red blood cells break down and are recycled, they release bilirubin from their hemoglobin. The liver, along with spleen and bone marrow, recycle this bilirubin, salvaging some of the compounds and excreting the rest in the bile. Bilirubin, which is toxic, binds to albumin and is detoxified and excreted. Eventually this will reach the intestines and be broken down by intestinal bacteria, where it imparts the dark color to stools. If this bilirubin cannot be excreted from the gallbladder (when there is an obstruction in the bile duct), there will be very light colored stool.

Excess amounts of bilirubin that build up in the bloodstream will cause jaundice, the yellow discoloration of the mucous membranes and skin that can occur with liver disease.

The fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K, require bile for proper absorption from the intestines. These vitamins are stored in the liver, and are converted to active compounds as part of the liver’s job.

Blood Clotting

Proteins initiate and maintain blood clotting and are synthesized by the liver. A diseased liver is unable to synthesize these proteins, leading to potential bleeding problems. Vitamin K is also an essential component of these clotting mechanisms.

Red Blood Cell System

The liver removes old or damaged red blood cells from the circulation, and is involved with the storage of iron and the breakdown of hemoglobin. Because of this, chronic liver disease causes anemia in most cases. The liver (along with the spleen), is a storage organ for blood. If there is a severe blood loss, the liver expels this blood into the bloodstream to help make up for the loss.

Reticuloendothelial System

Specific cells called Kupffer cells line the inside of the liver. These cells are part of the immune system. They eliminate and degrade the substances that are brought into the liver by the portal vein. Some of these substances are bacteria, toxins, nutrients, and chemicals. When the liver is diseased, it will not be able to perform this function resulting in a build up of toxic substances such as bacteria, chemicals, or drugs. This can lead to further complications such as septicaemia where there are excess bacteria in the bloodstream. Anti-biotics are commonly used in the treatment of liver disease precisely for this kind of reason depending on specific diagnosis.


Many vitamins are stored in the liver, and perform their functions only when the liver activates them when needed.  These include some of the B vitamins and Vitamin C, along with A, D, E, and K previously described.


Canine liver disease may be caused if your dog receives a blunt blow to the front of the abdomen and is injured. The most common cause of this type of injury is where a dog is injured in a road accident.  A liver lobe can be fractured and bleed into the abdomen, even leading to death from internal bleeding. A more common occurrence is a bruise (contusion) that heals itself. Heatstroke, diaphragmatic hernia, and liver lobe torsion can also cause liver problems.


This severe inflammatory disease can cause digestive enzymes to spill over into the liver causing disease. The close proximity of the pancreas to the liver and the bile ducts results in some degree of hepatitis whenever there is a case of pancreatic inflammation. The liver disease will regress when the pancreatitis is treated.


Anemia decreases the oxygen available to liver cells and leads to their death.


Inflammation of the liver is called hepatitis. Hepatitis may be caused by many antagonists include trauma, bacteria, virus, poison or bile.

Infectious Hepatitis

Adenovirus or herpes virus causes infectious hepatitis. It is transferred from dog to dog by oral contact and ingestion of contaminated materials. It usually causes a transient non-specific illness characterized by lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. It sometimes develops into a full-blown case of severe hepatitis. Treatment supports your dog while he fights off the virus. Infectious hepatitis can be prevented by routine vaccination.

Bacteria, viruses, and fungi

Bacterial infection is common in many liver problems so antibiotic therapy is often the first line of defence. Specific diseases include Infectious canine Hepatitis, canine Herpes virus, Leptospirosis, abscesses, histoplasmosis, coccidiomycosis, and Toxoplasmosis.

There are several known bacterial causes of hepatitis. Treatment is based on proper diagnosis and administration of antibiotics. Research shows that bacteria is a normal inhabitant of the liver and only becomes a problem when the liver is under attack from other causes.

Leptospirosis is one bacterial infection common in wildlife and transferable to domestic dogs and people through contaminated water. It is very dangerous and sometimes fatal but routine vaccination is the preventative measure to take.


Unfortunately, some kinds of parasites will infect the liver in your dog. A lot depends on your geographical location as some regions have a higher risk factor. Diagnosis is usually symptom based accompanied by fecal examination, and standard diagnostic techniques for liver disease. Treatment is the appropriate parasiticides.

Chronic Hepatitis

Some breeds of dog have a genetic predisposition to chronic hepatitis. This disease is primarily found in Bedlington Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, and West Highland White Terriers. The liver stores abnormal and toxic levels of copper. The course of the disease is variable, with some dogs presenting with acute hepatitis, and some presenting in end stage cirrhosis of the liver.

Diagnosis is made after a liver biopsy. Treatment requires the use of copper binding and anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease liver inflammation with dietary
modification to limit copper intake.


These worms can block blood flow into the liver and cause liver failure. A routine and regular de-worming programme for your dog can prevent this. In general, any disease that can cause failure of the right side of the heart can also cause liver problems.


Disease to the liver is caused by the ingestion, injection, or inhalation of a toxic substance, which adversely affects the liver. Due to the nature of the liver, that has a detoxification function, it is to be expected that an overload will be harmful.

There are some factors contributing to a greater likelihood of toxicity. Female dogs are more at risk than males, fatty diets are more dangerous, and high exposure to toxic chemicals, pesticides and so forth are all factors that put your dog at risk. Continuous exposure to these toxins could result in death but certainly, there will be severe inflammation of the liver cells. The damaged tissue resulting from the inflammation will be replaced with fibrous scar tissue. This could lead to cirrhosis of the liver in severe circumstances.

Toxins include many common drugs, such as anabolic steroids, chemotherapy drugs, some antibiotics, glucocorticoids, anaesthetics, parasite control drugs, and phenylbutazone.

Some of drug-induced hepatitis is a predictable side effect of the drug, while other incidences of hepatitis are considered an unpredicted or abnormal side effect of a given drug. This is difficult to diagnose unless there is a known exposure to the drug or toxin and the testing has been done. A biopsy will confirm liver destruction, inflammation, and fibrosis, but it will not single out the causative agent.

Different dogs have different tolerances to drugs and insecticides and so forth. For example, collie sheep dogs who ingest ivermectin a common parasite control product for worms in cattle horses and sheep, will be fatally poisoned, yet the rest of their canine friends will not be affected at all.

Drugs that cause liver damage

Dogs are extremely sensitive to cortisone and will develop lesions in the liver after long term or multiple dose therapy for a disease such as like Cushing’ disease. While cortisone is an effective treatment for Cushing’s disease, the side effects may cause liver damage. If signs of liver disease are noticed during treatment, the cortisone therapy can be stopped, the liver disease will improve, but the lesions may take months to heal.

Anti convulsant drugs such as Phenobarbital, primidone, and phentoin, may cause liver disease in 6 to 15 % of all dogs on anti-convulsant therapy. Inflammation of the liver varies according to the drug dosage. The extent of liver disease is variable and unpredictable. Treatment for the liver is removal of the drug treatment.

There are so many chemical compounds toxic to the liver and quite common treatments for ailments such as arthritis, heartworm, worms, parasites; epilepsy to name a few may cause some degree of liver damage.

Portal Vascular Abnormalities

This is a congenital defect is usually seen in young dogs and puppies where blood is passed from the digestive tract into the bloodstream without being detoxified by the liver. Symptoms of this condition are inconsistent but warning signs are youth, malnourishment, and chronic unwellness, poor tolerance to medication and anaesthetic and pica (eating unusual items). Diagnosis is based on a full veterinary work up with specialized X-rays, laboratory tests, and history. The only treatment is surgical intervention to correct the circulation abnormality.


Cancer can arise directly within the liver (primary) or spread from elsewhere (metastatic or secondary) through the circulatory or lymphatic systems. There are two blood supply routes to the liver through the portal vein and hepatic artery. This additional blood supply makes it likely that a tumor in a different organ will spread to the liver. Liver cancer is normally diagnosed long after the cancer is well established due to the remarkable powers of endurance the liver has.

Other than cancer, Hypothyroidism, Diabetes Mellitus, Pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease may cause secondary liver disease for example.

Cirrhosis of the Liver

Cirrhosis of the liver occurs as the end result of several liver diseases. Cirrhosis can occur as a result of many different liver diseases. It is likely to occur in copper storage diseases of the liver, as the end result of chronic hepatitis, as a breed related disorder (Terrier breeds, Dobermans, Labradors, Cocker Spaniels and Standard Poodles), side effect of anti-seizure, and some de worming treatment. Cirrhosis sometimes appears after leptospirosis or infectious canine hepatitis although it is a rare complication in these cases.

Summary of Diseases

Amongst all of these various medical conditions your dog may suffer, the one that appears without much warning is chronic hepatitis, so awareness of symptoms is important for dog owners. This disease can be present for a long time without displaying symptoms. When clinical signs are present, it is likely the liver is markedly decreased in size and function. Even when things get this bad, it is possible to manage the condition. Recommendations include a low to moderate protein diet, drug therapy, supportive therapy with vitamins and natural products such as milk thistle.

All of the diseases mentioned that your dog could suffer from progress and slowly destroy the liver cells resulting in scarring and fibrous tissue in the liver or cirrhosis. Many dogs live for extended periods of times even if cirrhosis present. At this stage, it is difficult to identify the underlying cause for the disease.

New and Emerging Liver Diseases

Hepatocutaneous Syndrome

This syndrome is characterized by degeneration of the skin cells probably caused by nutritional imbalance caused by metabolic abnormalities as the result of pancreatic tumors or severe liver dysfunction.

It affects mainly older dogs who show clinical signs a syndrome primarily of skin disease although some dogs will exhibit symptoms of illness such as lethargy, poor appetite, and weight loss prior to the skin eruptions. The skin lesions frequently appear on the muzzle, lower legs, and footpads. Lesions can also appear on the mouth, earflaps, elbows, and genitalia. Most lesions consist of crusting, erosions, or ulcerations, but blisters may also occur. Footpads are often severely thickened and fissured and are often painful and the dog is lame.

Diagnosis is based on your dog’s history, physical examination, blood tests to identify abnormalities such as elevated liver enzymes and low protein levels, and skin biopsy.  Abdominal ultrasound may show a “honeycomb” pattern of the liver due to liver degeneration or less commonly a pancreatic tumor.

If a pancreatic or liver tumor is identified and able to be surgically removed, the skin lesions will normalize. This type of tumour spreads to other parts of the body quickly so surgery is not a total solution. In cases of end stage liver disease, surgery is not possible, so the aim of therapy is to increase quality of life and decrease uncomfortable skin lesions with supportive care, good nutrition. Milk thistle is helpful as a natural support element. Your vet will advise on a program of care that may involve fluid therapy, amino acid infusions, and a tailored course of minerals, protein, and enzymes. Unfortunately, despite the supportive care, the disease will progress and has a poor outcome with a survival time of around one year in most cases.

Idiopathic Vacuolar Hepatopathy

This is a condition observed in older dogs. The liver in these older dogs contain excess glycogen. Because of improved nutrition, vaccination, and de worming, dogs are now living longer and beginning to acquire geriatric diseases and other conditions previously unknown. There is speculation that increases in progestin steroid hormones may result in liver changes. It appears that almost every dog diagnosed with this condition live a prolonged life without illness from his or her liver disease. Recently studies have shown that a disproportionate number of Scottish terriers have liver changes suggesting a breed predisposition for this condition. They may have a genetic defect in ALP production.

Gallbladder Mucocele

Gallbladder mucocele is seen in smaller breeds and older dogs with Cocker Spaniels being most commonly affected. Most dogs have nonspecific clinical sign, such as vomiting, lack of appetite and lethargy. Abdominal pain and hyperthermia are common findings. Most dogs will show elevated serum elevations of total bilirubin. An ultrasound will confirm diagnosis.

General Symptoms of Liver Disease

Liver disease symptoms are very subtle and your dog may show very little in the way of signs. The alert owner can learn to recognise any unusual signs and advanced symptoms. If you have any concerns about your dog, do not wait and see but consult your veterinarian early as the earlier liver disease is caught, the quicker it can be treated successfully.

Dogs with liver disorders show many types of physical symptoms. Very few of the symptoms are specifically for liver disease, but are signs of multiple diseases and conditions that can affect the liver. Symptoms of liver disease are extremely subtle in the early stages. Your dog may experience all of the following symptoms, some of them or one of them.

Loss of appetite

Loss of appetite is always cause for concern and a veterinary surgeon should be contacted without delay.

Recurrent abdominal or gastrointestinal upsets

Any vomiting, diarrhea or constipation should be taken seriously especially if they are intermittent attacks.

Progressive depression or lethargy

When your dog does not want to play or go for walks and has a lethargic demeanor this can be a symptom to be taken seriously.

Swollen abdomen

This may mean there is fluid in the abdomen due to alterations in your dog’s circulation.

Pale gray feces.

Bile is what gives feces its characteristic brown color. If the liver is not processing bile properly, the feces will be unpigmented and a grayish color.

Orange urine

Improper bile processing results in high levels of bilirubin excretion in the urine, which results in an orange color.


Any pale or white skin or visible tissue takes on a yellow hue. This is because the biliary pigments are accumulating in the body because the liver is not processing them.

Bleeding problems

Many of the proteins required for proper blood clotting are created in the liver. When these proteins are low or not present, the ability to clot blood decreases. Any signs of bleeding that do not stop easily should be cause for concern and your veterinarian should be contacted immediately. If your dog has any small swellings or bruises it may indicate blood-clotting problems.

Neurological symptoms

Behavioral changes, seizures, aimless pacing or circling, pressing the head against a wall or stargazing are frightening symptoms that may be caused by toxicity causing the liver to fail. Contact your veterinarian immediately as an emergency.

Abdominal Pain

This is due to the stretching of the liver capsule. The liver is sore and tender and you are likely to notice this when your dog is lifted up. Your vet will also be able to tell the liver is swollen by examining your dog.

Chronic weight loss The liver processes all the essential life force building blocks. If it is not working correctly, bodily systems are compromised and the body cannot maintain itself.

Increased Water Consumption And Urination.

These symptoms are likely to be caused by large shifts in serum and kidney salt balances.

Blood Pressure

Recent studies concluded that dog liver disease could also cause high blood pressure. This will need monitoring if your dog is diagnosed with canine liver disease.

At the Veterinarian

If you notice your dog showing any of the symptoms described, make sure you consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. Because your dog’s liver is such an amazing organ, it can function even with severe disease. This essential organ is closely involved in all other bodily functions. The liver is very resilient to attacks by viruses and bacteria, but symptoms will show up, even though another condition is causing the primary illness. Dog liver disease is very often therefore a secondary condition brought about by a primary illness in another area of your dog’s body.


Your veterinarian will use his or her expertise and knowledge of anatomy and disease to make a diagnosis. Taking known facts into account like the age and breed of the dog, his vaccination status, worming program, toilet habits and so forth, they will be able to eliminate certain diseases and use tests to arrive at a diagnosis and how affected your dog’s liver is by disease.


Early signs of liver disease are subtle and it is a good idea to get into the practice of taking your dog for annual routine check ups that include blood work especially if he falls into a high risk category for canine liver disease e.g. breed pre-disposition or is over eight years of age. It is important to remember that your dog may not show any explicit signs of canine liver disease, which is why a regular blood or urine test may give you an early warning. Often indirect evidence from laboratory tests can lead to the presence of liver disease.

Always provide your veterinarian with all relevant facts. Nothing is too small or insignificant and the more facts you can provide the better the chances. If for example you have been using weed killer in the garden or spilled some anti freeze in the garage the dog may have ingested or you have to admit his diet is less than healthy go ahead, your veterinarian needs to know all the facts you have because at the end of the day you know your dog best.

Physical Exam

When your veterinarian examines your dog, physical examination findings may include a distended abdomen due to enlargement of the liver. This symptom can also be indicative of other diseases it should be borne in mind. There may be enlarged lymph nodes, which could indicate secondary bacterial infection or the spread of a primary liver tumor. Bruising may be seen under the skin or after a blood sample is taken which is due to the liver’s effect on your dog’s blood clotting mechanism.

Sometimes canine liver disease is accompanied by fever indicated by a rectal temperature of 103 degrees when inflammation or infection is present. Your veterinarian will notice all of the signs and symptoms present by a full body examination and routine blood and urine tests.

Sometimes if results are inconclusive, it may require some more extensive blood and diagnostic testing to be certain of the diagnosis. Many different levels of liver enzymes are tested and compared against normal levels.


X rays can show increased liver size, decreased liver size liver abscesses, abnormal mineralization, and circulatory abnormalities (using special dyes).


Ultrasound is one of the better techniques for diagnosing dog liver disease as the circulation of the liver, the bile duct system, the density of liver tissue and the size of the liver can be seen.

Biopsy of the liver

While this is surgery, it is most useful for diagnosis of canine liver disease as liver tissue can be examined and tested to give a conclusive diagnosis and a treatment regime based on the findings. Your dog’s liver biopsy can be taken by a full laparotomy where the whole liver can be looked at by the veterinary surgeon or by a needle biopsy. The liver will regenerate these tiny pieces of liver taken for testing so it is a low risk procedure for your dog.


The course of treatment required in a case of canine liver disease will depend upon the cause of the condition. For example, if trauma was the trigger, hospitalization while the dog recovers from the impact of the trauma may be all that is required. On the other hand, antibiotics may be needed if a bacterial infection is at the root of the disease. Furthermore, when liver disease is caused by another medical condition such as cancer or anemia, these additional medical circumstances will need to be taken into account.

In addition to certain medications, dietary adjustments and supplements can be very useful when attempting to treat canine liver disease. Dietary changes can include adjusting the amounts of proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and minerals that a dog eats. This will then ensure that your dog is receiving the nutrition he needs and will also help to decrease the stress and workload of the liver. Vitamin K can be helpful with respect to controlling bleeding disorders while vitamin E, as an antioxidant, helps to remove free radicals and to prevent continued damage to your dog’s liver.

Certain natural remedies can also be very helpful when treating canine liver disease. Natural herbs and substances have properties that assist with the purification of blood, the stimulation of digestive enzymes, and the protection of the liver from toxic substances. Some of these substances have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Milk thistle is another natural ingredient that is known to be very effective in cases of canine liver disease. This natural substance acts as an antioxidant like vitamin E, stimulates production of new liver cells, and helps to prevent certain toxins from attaching to the liver. Thus, many natural substances and remedies can be very beneficial for dogs suffering from liver disease.

Never use alternative therapies until you have received a proper and specific diagnosis from your veterinarian.


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The most feared word of any dog owner is “cancer”. For dog owners whose pets are part of the family, the news that your dog has cancer is devastating. However, although it is hard to take in and very frightening, the more information you have and the more knowledge about treatment options, the easier it will be for you to decide what steps to take to do the best you can for your dog.

Understanding a little about the disease, its various forms, and the possible outcomes will at least make things clearer and assist you in making decisions along the way. You will understand what changes your dog will go through, what is likely to happen to him, and what treatment and complementary therapies are available for him.

In simple terms, cancer is abnormal division of the cells and multiplication. Cells in all organs and of the body grow and then divide as part of the normal life cycle. The division of the cell results in two cells, which is why it is known as “multiplication” of cells. When the multiplication of cells is unchecked, they eventually destroy normal tissues and organs. Cancer can occur in any part of the body, and at any stage of life.

The good news is that the growth in “Veterinary Oncology” as a study field and the dedicated work of researchers and veterinary cancer specialists, cancer treatment for dogs has evolved a very long way in the past thirty years.

Many types of cancer CAN be cured through conventional treatments, or knocked into remission for increasingly longer periods of time. Due to the synergy and cross over of veterinary medicine to human medicine and back again, many cancer treatments available for people are also available for dogs, and new cancer treatments are being developed every day.

There are many pioneering organizations making efforts to research and work on canine cancer treatments in the hopes that new discoveries and drug therapies will provide a treatment where currently fatal cancers can be halted before that stage or even cured.

 Herbs, vitamins, and antioxidants for dog cancer support
  • Helps promote better quality of life
  • Supports the healing process
  • Helps maintain energy levels
  • Encourages your dog’s immune system
  • Helps ease pain and discomfort

Kit contains a 2 month supply for most dogs:

Cancer treatment for animals is always focused on providing the animal with the highest possible quality of life for the longest amount of time possible.  That is why dogs typically do so well while undergoing chemotherapy.

Humans by comparison rationalize and understand that the of the rigors of chemotherapy will make us very ill and we will suffer severe side effects in some cases but we have the mental capacity to know we will feel ill before we get better.

The philosophy of quality of life for your dog is extremely important since they cannot consent to their own medical treatment. Your dog’s quality of life could be destroyed and cause him considerable distress where an aggressive treatment that could cure the cancer completely is used, but would sacrifice your dog’s quality of life to the extent where he would not be able to function on his own and would need round the clock nursing.

Veterinary treatments of cancer keep the dog in a state where he can perform basic tasks such as eating, drinking, and toileting and retain some comfort. Many owners will take responsibility for the dog’s needs of course but if the treatment will take away the quality of life of your dog, it is a matter for discussion between you and your veterinarian. This is one of the most difficult diseases for you as a dog owner as ultimately you are responsible for his welfare. Some canine cancer support groups out there will help you through a difficult time or decision.


Normal Cell Division
Cell division is rapid in young growing pups, to allow for the quick growth in body size. As dogs become adult, this cell division slows and stops, until only cells of the skin, bone marrow, and intestine continue to divide throughout life. The body has an inbuilt monitor that keeps a close check on the balance between cell multiplication and cell death, so there is always just the right number of cells in an organ. Genes are responsible for controlling cell division and some genes switch on cell division and some switch cell division off thus maintaining the right balance.

Abnormal Cell Division
All of the causes of cancer are not fully known, but genetics, environment, and the state of an individual’s immune system are all thought to play a role. The outcome of treatment depends on how successful the therapy is at stopping the abnormal cell divisions. Abnormal cell division puts the body out of balance and can be caused by damage to a cell’s DNA. This in turn affects the genes involved in controlling the rate of cell division.

The body somehow loses the ability to kill the cells with damaged DNA resulting in abnormal cells multiplying out of control. These cells commonly known as cancer cells can spread throughout the body leading to organ failure and death.

Cell division and multiplication occurs in every organ of the body. This means cancer can occur anywhere. However, some cancers occur more frequently in our dogs than others and different breeds have more susceptibility to cancer.

The most prevalent cancers in all dogs are:
•    Breast cancer
•    Bone cancer
•    Skin cancer
•    Cancer of the mouth
•    Cancer of the lymphatic system.

Breeds that tend to have a higher incidence of cancer include Golden Retrievers, Boxers, German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, Flat Coat Retrievers, West Highland White Terriers, Rottweiler’s, Doberman Pinschers, Schnauzers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Great Danes, Greyhounds, and Standard Poodles.

Breast Cancer in Dogs
Breast cancer is most common in female dogs, but it can occur in male dogs also. It usually occurs in middle aged to older dogs, particularly if they are not spayed or were spayed later on in life. This is because the hormones associated with the heat cycle can trigger abnormal growth of the mammary cells. This is a good reason to spay your female puppy if she is not going to be bred from.
The symptoms are firm, irregular lumps or masses that are felt under or near a nipple. The lumps usually appear in the mammary glands between the back legs. They grow rapidly and can develop smelly ulcers on top. Veterinarians rely on a biopsy to confirm that it is cancer. Sometimes the lumps are benign, but there is a real risk that these benign lumps will turn cancerous over time. It may be a good idea to remove the lump before it becomes dangerous.
Treatment for this type of dog cancer is surgery to cut away the lump, followed by chemotherapy. If the dog is female, you will be advised to have her spayed to remove the chances of hormonal activity that could set off the cancer again. Unfortunately, in many dogs, by the time breast cancer is diagnosed, it has already spread to the internal organs, and the outcome is not good.

Canine Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer)
Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer in dogs. It tends to occur in middle aged, large breed dogs, and it most often develops at the ends of the long bones of the leg.

The first indication that there is a problem is usually when the dog starts to limp. The limp progressively gets worse, and painful swellings may develop where the tumour is growing. The cancerous bone is not as strong as normal bone, and it may suddenly break.

A veterinarian can usually make a diagnosis based on the dog’s age and breed and by taking an x-ray of the sore leg. A bone biopsy will give a definite answer. Bone cancer is extremely painful, and by the time it is diagnosed, it has usually already spread to the lungs.

Treatment commonly involves amputation of the affected leg. Most dogs do very well with only three legs, and they feel better with the painful tumour removed. Chemotherapy can extend their life, but for many dogs, the survival rates with osteosarcoma are one year even with treatment.

Skin Cancer in Dogs
Skin cancer is normally thought of as being caused by too much time spent in the sun. This is the case with dogs too, but the most common skin cancer is not related to sun exposure at all.

Skin cancer tumours are called mast cell tumours, and they normally appear as fast growing ulcerated nodules on the legs or body. They can be aggressive and spread to the internal organs from time to time.

Treatment involves surgical removal of the tumour where a wide margin of skin is also removed around the tumour to ensure all traces of cancer are removed. Follow up treatment may be radiation or chemotherapy. The outlook is very positive after skin cancer and your dog is likely to enjoy a good quality of life for several years.

Canine Mouth Cancer
Different types of tumour may develop in a dog’s mouth and throat. They all cause similar symptoms: Most tumours are not found until the disease is fairly advanced, so it is a good idea to regularly look inside your dog’s mouth. These tumours can spread into the bone of the jaws.

The symptoms of mouth cancer are bad breath, pain and difficulty eating, and sometimes bloody saliva.

Treatment often includes surgical removal of part of the jaw. Although dogs do seem to cope with this, it can make eating more difficult. This is often followed up with radiation therapy to try to increase survival time. These tumours do not have the best prognosis and many dogs do not survive for much more than a year after diagnosis.

Lymphatic Cancer in Dogs
Lymphocytes are cells, which are produced in the bone marrow, and are part of the body’s immune system. As with any other type of cell, they too can become cancerous. When this occurs, it is called Lymphoma and damage is possible to any organ that has lymphatic tissue. The most common areas for lymphoma to develop are the lymph nodes, the gastrointestinal tract, the bone marrow, and the skin.

Symptoms vary depending on which part of the body is affected, but in most cases, dogs will be come ill and may vomit, stop eating and develop a fever. Untreated, the dog rarely survives more than a few months.

Chemotherapy is successful in many cases and can lead to remission where the signs of cancer disappear, and the dog is essentially normal. Remission can last for as much as a year, but the cancer often reappears.
This is a perplexing problem for veterinary oncologists as if the cancer did not reoccur; this would be quite treatable with a positive prognosis.

There are four main influences in the development of cancer in dogs, some of them can be managed to reduce the risk of the disease.

Genes have been identified in some breeds of dog that seem to increase the risk of them developing cancer. German Shepherd dogs often develop hemangiosarcomas (a tumour of blood vessels), whereas osteosarcomas are common in Rottweilers. The fact that some types of tumours are more common in certain breeds suggests that these tumours have a genetic basis. It could be possible that some dogs are born with damaged DNA in his cells hence predisposing him to these types of cancer.
Infection and Inflammation:

Papilloma is a virus that causes harmless growths in a dog’s mouth. However, there appears to be a link between papilloma virus infection and the tendency for a dog to develop aggressive cancer of the mouth.

Chronic inflammation of an area may also trigger the growth of cancer. One example of this is when a broken limb has been repaired with plates and screws. If the screws become loose over time, then the irritation to the bone may lead to osteosarcoma in the area.

There are very strong links between hormones and breast cancer in dogs. Spaying a female dog before their first heat virtually eliminates the risk of breast cancer later in life. However, if she is spayed after 2 years of age, spaying does not protect her at all. Similarly, a tumour known as a perianal adenoma (a tumour of the tissue around the anus) is much more common in male dogs that have not been castrated.

In people, there have been connections made between exposure to pesticides and the development of cancer. There does not appear to be as strong a link between environmental toxins and cancer in dogs, so this may not be such an important influence. It does appear that being exposed to cigarette smoke may increase the risk of cancer of the nose and sinuses. Sun damage can lead to skin cancer in dogs.

Responsible dog ownership and attention to your dog’s well being may not prevent him developing cancer but if you regularly give him a condition check when you are grooming or make a point to have a once weekly examination, you may be able to improve the outcome by catching the warning signs early. Other warning signs to look out for are included that you may see at any time.


1.    Feel your dog’s body all over to check for any lumps and bumps. If you dog is longhaired, pay special attention to this. If you notice any lumps or bumps, then get them checked out by your veterinarian.

2.    Check your dog’s mouth for bad breath, bleeding gums. Does he seem sore? Monitor how he eats a treat or his meal, is he having difficulty swallowing. If he shows any of these signs, he should be checked over by your veterinarian.

3.    Most dog owners know what their dog is like when he is in fine fettle and bursting with play, health, and activity with a healthy appetite so it should be easy to see if he is depressed or just off colour. Any of these signs of unwellness or vomiting or lethargy should be investigated.

4.    Does your dog have any lumps and bumps on his leg joints? Is he lame or sore? If he is showing any of these signs, he needs to be checked over.

5.    Check your dog’s body condition and see if he has lost weight unexpectedly, if so he needs a trip to the veterinarian.

6.    Are there sores that do not seem to be healing or bleeding and discharge from any body openings?

7.    Is your dog reluctant to exercise or has a distinct loss of stamina?

8.    Is your dog showing signs of difficulty, breathing, urinating, or evacuating stools?

If your dog exhibits any of these signs or you notice any abnormalities in your dog during your condition check, make an appointment with your vet sooner rather than later. Cancer treatment in dogs usually has a better outcome if it is started early, so getting a quick diagnosis is crucial.


1.    Spay your female dog before her first heat to prevent breast cancer if she is not breeding stock.

2.    Male dogs with undescended testicles should be neutered as the retained testicle often becomes cancerous.

3.    Dogs with thin skin and coats with a pale colour should not be allowed too much exposure to the sun to avoid skin cancer.

4.    Choose your pedigree dog with care and avoid breeds with a predisposition to cancer or try to buy from a parental line that does not have any incidences of cancer.

5.    Feed your dog a high-quality diet that uses human-grade ingredients and little to no preservatives or additives. Good nutrition is key to good health.

6.    Keep your dog at a healthy weight. Dogs that are overweight or obese are at greater risk of developing cancer.

7.    Try to limit your dog’s exposure to chemicals and pesticides such as lawn treatments and fertilizer, known to increase risk of cancer.

8.    Avoid chemical flea and tick treatments or limit the use to when you need them.

9.    Consider using natural remedies and treatments to support your dog’s immune system


Radiation therapy involves using a focused radiation beam to kill tumour cells. Radiation can also affect rapidly dividing normal (good) cells, so veterinarians try to protect surrounding parts of the body as much as possible. They also spread out radiation treatments to allow normal cells to recover.

Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that may be a single drug or combination of drugs to aggressively treat the cancer. In general, dogs receive a lower dose than humans as it is important for dogs to retain basic functioning. This also helps them to avoid some side effects and tolerate the treatment more robustly.

The purpose of the drugs is to attack cells and prevent them from dividing or to damage the cell’s DNA. The chemotherapy drugs cannot differentiate between cancerous and non-cancerous cells so the immune system is compromised and side effects can occur. Side effects are not so much of an issue with dogs as they receive the chemotherapy in lower doses.

It is unlikely your dog will lose his hair as a human would, as they do not continually grow hair like humans. There may be a little thinning or change of texture though. Poodles and Old English Sheepdogs are at risk of losing their coats as they have coats that continually grow.

The removal of cancerous tumours and growths will be done under a general anaesthetic. Biopsies may just require a local anaesthetic.

Complete removal of the tumour may be possible or in the case where a tumour affects other organs, is close to or entwined in major blood vessels, a partial removal to de bulk the tumour will be performed.

Your dog will experience some pain and discomfort after surgery and will need nursing. He will likely have some form of pain relief. It is important to discuss the surgery with your veterinary surgeon so you know what the surgery is, if the dog will need feeding tubes fitted for post surgery and you will need to discuss the options if the veterinary surgeon discovers more masses or complications.

If all of the tumour is safely removed, your dog is still likely to require follow up with chemotherapy or radiation.

Alternative and Natural Therapies
Some dog owners like to use alternative and natural therapies to support treatment that is more conventional. Many vets now offer these services and natural remedies, and they may improve the outcome for some cancer patients.

There are some natural remedies and treatments that have proved highly effective in supporting conventional medicine

While your dog is undergoing the stressful procedures of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatment, there are things you can do to support him. Good nutrition is vital to keep up his energy levels. If his appetite is poor, he may need to be fed through a stomach tube. He may need fluids to stop him becoming dehydrated, and in most cases, he will definitely need pain relief.

It is perfectly fine to choose not to continue treatment or not to treat your dog that has cancer if the outcome is not promising or if you do not have the finances to treat him. All veterinarians will give you support to make your dog’s life comfortable and will help you when it comes to making the right decision for your pet.

You can provide palliative care for your dog at home with the help of your vet and do what you can to keep his quality of life strong for as long as possible.

Advances in veterinary care mean that dogs are living longer than in the past, and the incidence of cancer is naturally increasing as more dogs reach geriatric age. New diagnostic tests and treatment choices mean that the outcome for many cases of cancer in dogs is quite good. Work with your vet, choose your treatments carefully, and you will get the best outcome possible for both you and your dog.

Finally, do not overlook the importance of a good pet insurance policy. This will not necessarily reduce the risk of cancer, but it may make routine wellness exams and preventative care more affordable. If your dog should be diagnosed with cancer during the course of their life, it will help you to afford lifesaving cancer treatments to help your dog battle this disease. Pet insurance is an excellent way to protect yourself and your pet.

What to Prepare for a Safe and Hassle-free Trip with Your Dog

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Traveling with your dog can be a lot of fun! In fact, there are many families who never fail to bring their dogs along for road travels. However, without proper planning and preparation, your trip can surely turn into utter chaos. Merely loading your pet at the back seat of the car and driving off can result in serious pet injury.

So, if you’re a person who wants to bring your canine friend along on the road but haven’t tried it yet, here are a couple of things to prepare and do for an enjoyable and safe trip with your dog.

Vet Visit

The last thing you want on a trip is a sick dog. Not only will it ruin your vacation, it will also put your dog at risk for complications. Before taking long car trips with Fido, go to the vet for a medical check-up. Make sure that your dog is in good condition and has received the necessary vaccinations.

Medical and Health Records

Aside from having a copy of the vaccination history of your dog, you must obtain a medical certificate from your vet. This is important for interstate travels as some states require this. It is also wise to have a list of veterinary hospitals and your vet’s contact information in case your dog suddenly gets sick and needs medical attention.

Permanent and Temporary Identification Tag

This is a very important aspect which is often overlooked. In the event that your dog runs off during the trip, a collar with an ID can ensure a safe return and a speedy reunion. Make sure that his ID has a photo and your current contact number, email and home address. You can also attach a temporary ID for that particular trip, specifying the hotel or address you’ll be staying at.

On-the-road supplies

Here are a couple of pet supplies useful for a road trip:

1. Food and Water. Bring food and water that your dog is used to eating and drinking everyday. Getting food and water elsewhere might upset his stomach and cause diarrhea. You can bring water from home and store it in plastic jugs. If you are not able to bring water from home, it is wiser to opt for filtered water than tap water. You can pack your own collapsible dog bowl as well to save yourself from bringing heavy ceramic dishes.

2. Car Seat Covers, Cargo Liners, Cooling Mats. Allow your canine friend to travel in comfort without messing up your car. Protect your vehicle from unwanted hairs, muddy paws and sharp claws with pet-friendly car accessories that are also cozy and safe. This way, your dog can enjoy the long ride – just like you.

3. Pet Restraints and Travel Crates. For everyone’s safety – you and your dog’s – you should make sure that your dog is safely harnessed in your vehicle. Using a travel crate, a vehicle pet barrier or safety harness will not only protect your dog from injuries and accidents, it will also help you concentrate on driving because of less distraction. Just make sure that your pets are comfortable in their harness or kennels. It is wise to familiarize your pet with the kind of vehicle restraint before actually going on travels.

4. Dog Toys and Treats. Like children, dogs get bored on long trips. To prevent your dog from being uneasy due to being bored, bringing his favorite chew toys along. He’ll be amused and you’ll have hours of driving in peace. If he gets cranky again, give him some doggy treats.

5. First Aid Kit. Emergencies happen anywhere. That’s why it is important to have a first aid kit. You may buy these canine first aids kits directly as a set, or prepare your own. This kit usually includes important phone numbers, bandaging materials, medicines, supplies and nutritional support.

With these tips, you’ll surely have a safe and happy trip with your dog. Enjoy!

About the author: Based in California, Melissa Page is a passionate writer who currently works for Cover Bonanza, a company that brings you stylish and comfortable pet travel gear as well as covers for everything outdoors. When she is not writing, she plays bowling with her friends.

Does Your Dog Need to Go to Obedience School?

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Obedience school is an expense it can be difficult for many dog owners to justify, especially in this economy. If your dog is relatively well-behaved, house-trained, and kind around strangers and other animals, sending him or her to obedience school probably isn’t necessary. On the other hand, if you spend all of your free time keeping your dog out of trouble, you might want to consider seeking the help of a professional dog trainer. Here are some signs that might indicate your dog needs to go to obedience school:

1. Your dog still uses your house as a bathroom

The occasional accident is to be expected. If your dog regularly goes to the bathroom in your house, it’s a problem. You shouldn’t have to spend your free time cleaning up your dog’s mess. If you weren’t able to successfully house-train your dog on your own, you probably need some professional guidance.

2. It seems like your adult dog’s still teething

It’s common for puppies to chew on shoes, blinds, stuffed animals, eyeglasses, pens, etc. They often outgrow this behavior and are satisfied to chew on the occasional bone as adults. If your adult dog still chews on practically everything she can get her teeth on, obedience school might be the solution.

3. Your dog ignores you

A dog with selective hearing, who only listens when it’s time to eat or take a walk, can be quite difficult to live with. Your dog should come when called and stop doing destructive and aggressive things when you say “no.” If your dog ignores you and pretty much does whatever he wants, it might be time to enroll him in school.

4. You can’t keep up with your pup

Some breeds of dogs are more energetic than others. You might, for instance, need to play fetch in the backyard for an hour or so every day with your Labrador. Your Lhasa Apso, on the other hand, probably only requires a couple of short walks a day. All dogs need exercise, and you should let your dog be physically active every day. If your dog has boundless energy and is starting to wear you out, however, you might want to speak to an obedience school instructor. An instructor of this kind will be able to give you tips about calming your dog down and exercising her more effectively.

5. Your dog barks excessively

Can’t sleep because your dog’s barking so much? Have your neighbors started to complain about now noisy your dog is? Maybe it’s time you looked into obedience schools in your area.

If you struggle with any of the issues mentioned above, obedience training could be a good option for you and your dog. Ultimately, an obedience school instructor will teach your dog to view you as the leader of the pack, which means that you’ll be able to call all the shots and spend more time enjoying the company of your furry friend.

Pepper Givens is a freelance writer whose foremost passion is writing for her blog about education. While her primary writing focus is trends in higher ed, Pepper also enjoys writing about personal finance, parenting, sustainable living, small business strategies, and more. She can be reached for questions or comments at

a dog care carnival – May 10, 2012

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Welcome to the May 10, 2012 edition of a dog care carnival.

Jon Anderson presents AN OVERVIEW OF 5 TYPES OF CANINE CANCER posted at Holistic Dog Care Tips, saying, “Understanding a little about the disease, its various forms, and the possible outcomes will at least make things clearer and assist you in making decisions along the way.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of a dog care carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Understanding Doggy Illnesses: What You Can and Can’t Catch from Your Pup

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As many studies have shown, owning a dog can improve the health and lifespan of their owners—and with those wagging tails and loving nudges, it’s not hard to see why. Part of being a responsible pet owner involves educating yourself on ways to best care for pet in both sickness and health. Responsible dog owners should work to understand the intricacies of their dog’s breed and the health threats specific to that breed. Beyond that, it is important that you gain a general understanding of dog health and human health together as well. The next time your four-legged best friend gets sick or you’re feeling under the weather, keeps these sicknesses in mind. While you’re not going to give your dog a cold, there are several illnesses and diseases that can be transmitted from pet to owner and owner to pet.


Parasitic worms are one of the most common illnesses that get passed from pet to owner. While this is a cringe-worthy topic, it is important to understand what types of parasites can affect you and your dog and what types of parasites can only affect your pup. Hookworms and roundworms are fairly common parasites in both dogs and cats. The worms are designed to live in dogs or cats, but can affect humans. If you come in to contact with worm eggs or larva from your dog’s contaminated stool, the parasites can travel through your intestines, burrow in your skin, or become lost in your system. These parasites most commonly affect children who are around infected pets because children have such poor hygienic practices. While these worms sound (and can be) worrisome for both you and your pet, they are easily treated and easily prevented. Regular heartworm medication also has a preventative in it that wards off intestinal worms.

Bacterial Diseases

When we hear the term Streptococcus we think Strep and images of swollen tonsils, sore throats, and days in bed come to mind. What many pet owners don’t realize is that Streptococcus bacteria are found all types of animals. For the most part, Strep does not cause disease or symptoms in our pets as it does us. Occasionally a dog can get an eye infection that is affiliated with Strep. Similarly, the Staphylococci bacteria are found on all animals, including our pets. Staph can cause nagging skin irritations in humans, as well as serious illness in some cases and is extremely contagious. Pets are not typically affected by the Staph bacteria, but can suffer from skin infections in some cases. Tuberculosis is another chronic infection that is found in all animals including humans. Tuberculosis can be extremely worrisome in humans. However, cats and dogs have been shown to be fairly resistant to the disease.


Ringworm is the most common fungus that affects both humans and our pets. Often misconceived as actually being a worm, ringworm is a fungus that affects the skin on mammals. Young dogs and cats can suffer from ringworm very easily and that fungus can be transmitted to their owner simply by touching it. Careful and proper hygiene is important to avoiding ringworm. If the fungus is active on a pet or human, treatment is needed and is very effective. Ringworm often appears as ring-shaped (but not always) area of skin and on pets the fur will be broken off.

This guest post is provided by Amelia Wood, who loves to help point people toward medical billing and coding careers through her writing. Amelia in passionate about all things medicine be it pet health or human wellness. Reach her at

a dog care blog carnival – October 18, 2012

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Welcome to the October 18, 2012 edition of a dog care carnival.

Be a guest blogger here!

Muhammad Irfan Zafar presents The Advantages of Possessing a Yellow-colored Labrador Pet Dog posted at Experts Column.

Jog Freak presents Jogging Strollers: No Babysitters (Or Pet-sitters) Required posted at Jog Freak.


Joe Tichio presents Inspirational Dog Quotes posted at Inspirational Quotes Blog, saying, “Hi, This is a page of inspirational quotes about dogs. I’m happy to share the Blog carnival on my blog and also my newsletter. Thanks, Joe PS my blog page is:”

Mary H. presents A Dog Named Boo (book review) posted at Stale Cheerios, saying, “A Dog Named Boo is Lisa Edwards’ touching memior about Boo, an awkward rescue dog who became an extraordinary therapy dog. If you like animals you’ll like this book. Lisa’s easy-going writing style and many delightful stories will make you want to keep reading until the last page. The book is also full of many truths of how animals can help both teach and heal humans. By the end of the book you’ll love the little awkward black dog named Boo.”

Want more than a mention?  Write a post for us!


That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of a dog care carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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a dog care bolg carnival – August 23, 2012

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Welcome to the August 23, 2012 edition of a dog care carnival.

Be a guest blogger here!

dog care

Talia Mana presents How to Train Your Dog to Walk On a Leash – Golden Retriever Dog & Puppy Lovers posted at Golden Retriever Dog & Puppy Lovers, saying, “Tips and safety information for training your dog to walk on a leash, harness or head halter.”


Rachael presents Mastiff Greatness posted at East To Weest, saying, “Owning a Mastiff is wonderful…and stinky.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of a dog care carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Want more than a mention?  Write a post for us!

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What every Pet Lover Should Know About Puppy Mills

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In college I worked as a freelance photographer for a small arts and entertainment newspaper, and I had the excellent opportunity to photograph a charity runway show that combined my two favorite things: fashion and cute animals. The charity was dedicated to reducing the cost of spay and neuter procedures for dogs and cats that were adopted from local animal shelters.

The show featured fashion from different boutiques, and each model carried a dog that was up for adoption at the animal shelter. After the show, I was able to talk to the charity coordinator about her inspiration. She was an advocate and boutique owner who owned a cockapoo that had been purchased from a puppy mill.

“I didn’t know any better,” she told me. As grateful as she was for her beloved pup, she seemed haunted by the fact that she had purchased him from a puppy mill.

This was before my foray into independence – I lived in the dorms at the time – and I had yet to purchase pets on my own. It wasn’t until two years later, when I was roommate-free for the first time, that I began to seriously research pet adoption. Remembering the term “puppy mill” from my conversation years before, I plugged the term into the Internet search engine and was shocked to discover how many dogs suffer – in so many ways – just to accommodate the pet industry.

What is a puppy mill?

Puppy mills are large-scale commercial dog breeding operations. These mills are able to operate outside the boundaries of what would be considered neglectful treatment of an individual pet. Dogs that are bred in puppy mills are often kept in conditions that are emotionally or physically damaging. The dogs are also often bred without regard for genetic health, which means that many puppy mill dogs are unhealthy or are more prone to developing diseases.

Puppy mills are regulated by the US Department of Agriculture, more specifically the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. You might be wondering, why is the USDA in charge of regulating puppy mills and not the Humane Society?

The answer can be found in the history of the puppy mill. After World War II, the USDA began promoting puppies as a cash crop. Pet stores began accepting these puppies, purchased wholesale, and the retail pet industry was born.

How are the dogs treated at puppy mills?

Puppy mills frequently house dogs in crowded and unsanitary conditions. Only the basics of food, water and shelter are legally required. Female dogs are bred at every opportunity and are often discarded or abandoned after their bodies are incapable of bearing litters. Puppies that are physically marred from disease can also be euthanized as unsalable stock. Dogs are often housed in cramped cages and do not receive proper veterinary care for diseases.

Where are these puppies sold?

Wholesale puppies can be found everywhere: online, in your pet store even at swap meets or flea markets. The term wholesale is a term that applies to the cheaper price that comes from streamlining the mass manufacturing process. The concept of breeding an animal for wholesale consumption usually has the literal denotation of edible livestock; and when pups are raised to satisfy a desire for companionship, the implications can disturb even the most detached of animal lovers.

Until you personally see where the puppy was born, you would do well to err on the side of caution and assume it was from a puppy mill. Paperwork and licenses do not serve as insurance for your dog’s health. Often, sellers will produce paperwork to provide consumers with the false sense that the puppy was bred in a healthy environment. This is true even for purebred dogs.

What can I do to help?

The Humane Society of the United States and other animal rights organizations are working tirelessly to change legislation to protect puppies from lewd mass breeding and poor conditions. Until then, the power of the consumer must take charge.

When you begin searching for your pet, first take a trip to the animal shelter. Even purebred dogs can be found in shelters, and these animals are often on a path to death row. If you are unable to find your companion at an animal shelter, personally meet with the dog’s breeder. Responsible breeders will not only welcome your evaluation, they will want to evaluate you as well!


Susan is a freelance blogger who enjoys writing about automotive and health news, technology, lifestyle and personal finance. She often researches and writes about automobile insurance, helping consumers find the best car insurance quotes online. Susan welcomes comments and questions.

Finding The Right Debt Relief Service

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One of the more frustrating situations where we may find ourselves in life is to be in debt. Of course, most of us are going to have that to some extent or another but there are times when we may now actually need to get some outside help from debt relief services. This is especially the case if we have seen a financial reversal because of the economic situation. At one time, we may have been able to handle the situation quite nicely but because of that reversal, we find ourselves in need of debt settlement companies so that we can get back on our financial feet (Source: Debt Settlement Companies by Debt Alternative Center). What are some of the things that you should consider when choosing such a service for yourself?

First of all, it’s important for you to understand that not everybody who works in the debt settlement business is going to have the same scruples. It is important for you to choose somebody to help you with your situation that is actually interested in helping you in the first place. Look for someone that will help you to take a closer look at your finances so that you can see your situation for what it truly is. They should then be able to negotiate with some of your creditors so that you can pay a lower interest and perhaps a lower monthly fee. Just bear in mind, there are always going to be options that are available to you. If you take advantage of those options wisely, you can beat your debt and get back on your feet again.

Different Ways to Market Your Business

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One of the most important things for any company is to ensure that somebody is purchasing the products or services that they offer. This is not only going to help them to be successful as a business, it is going to make a difference in their ability to stay in business for the long-term. At one time, it was necessary for you to do quite a bit of footwork in order to find new customers that you could persuade to purchase the items that you were offering. Now, there are plenty of lists that are available online which will help to keep you busy running down clients and ensuring that your business is as successful as possible. These types of marketing lists can range from business mailing lists all the way to those that are going to be used for (Source: Text Message Marketing by ProMarketing Leads). What are some things to consider to ensure that you are as successful as possible?

One of the things that you should think about carefully is the type of marketing that you are doing. If you have had some success with some form of marketing in the past, you should absolutely leverage that success to the best of your ability. It is also important for you to diversify as much is possible because you can get a steady stream of new customers from other sources as well. It is important for you to continue to test the types of marketing that you are doing and to use the ones that are doing the best for your business.

How to Fight the Top 3 Dog Diseases

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According to the Sate of Pet Health 2011 Report, the top 3 diagnoses for 2.1 million dogs were dirty teeth, ear infections and chubbiness. Although the diseases are all relatively minor, dog owners can keep their dogs healthier and happier by following preventative measures to keep these three common health problems at bay.

1.     Dental Tartar

In humans, periodontal disease has been dubbed “the silent killer.” The destructive bacteria bred by tartar have been linked to aspiration pneumonia and heart disease in humans. Its full effects are still unknown.

As in humans, the greatest threat posed by this type of bacteria is damage to your dog’s organs. Bacteria can travel through the gums to the bloodstream, infecting vital organs. Dental problems can also cause a loss of appetite as well as broken or lost teeth.

Dental tartar is a mineralized plaque that actually makes it easier for plague to accumulate. Though tartar can accumulate above and below the gum line, it is often apparent as a hard yellow or brown residue. Other direct signs of dental tartar are swollen, bleeding or irritated gums. You may also notice that your dog’s breath has become increasingly foul.

Behavioral symptoms of periodontal disease can be displayed in chewing and eating habits. Your dog may be experiencing pain caused by periodontal disease if he favors softer foods, neglects his chew toys or favors one side of his mouth while chewing.  Chewing less may also cause your dog to vomit, and you may notice his food to be poorly digested.

Periodontitis is incredibly common among all ages, but is seen in 80 percent of dogs older than three. There are many preventative measures that can be taken to keep you dog healthy, such as daily brushing habits. Also, dogs with healthy chewing habits have healthier teeth, making chew toys and crunchy treats essential parts of your dog’s dental care routine.

Extensive yearly exams are also recommended for identifying periodontal diseases. Larger breeds are recommended to undergo these exams once a year; while smaller breeds need to visit the doggie dentist twice as often.

2.     Otitis Externa

It may have an elaborate name, but the second most common canine disease is an ear infection. While there are some external factors that may cause an ear infection, many dogs are predisposed to the condition through genetics.

Some dogs, like Chinese shar-peis, chow chows and English bulldogs, have predispositions to abnormal ear canals. Other breeds with hair inside the ears or long, heavy ears can be more susceptible to infections.

Causes of infections include fungus, bacteria or parasites. Infections are most common in humid weather during the summer months and can particular affect dogs that are exposed to water or foreign bodies. Physical symptoms include redness and swelling of the external ear canal and abnormal odor or discharge from the ear. Behavior symptoms include scratching or rubbing the ears, shaking the head and exhibiting signs of pain when the ear is manipulated.

Prevent ear infections by cleaning your dog’s ears routinely and treating them monthly with an ear mite preventative. A visit to the vet will be necessary to treat an ear infection.

3.     Overweight

Overweight dogs are more susceptible to a variety of health problems like pancreatitis, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems. Despite consequences that could lead to life threatening conditions, obesity and overweightness is extremely common in dogs. In fact, it is estimated that over 50 percent of dogs are overweight.

For some breeds, obesity is obvious; but if you need to check to see if your dog is overweight, there is a simple way to do so. If you can feel your dog’s ribcage and spine, your dog is at a healthy weight. Once your dog reaches maturity, ask your vet to provide information for your dog’s optimal weight. Dogs that are up to 15 percent over are considered overweight, while those that are above 15 percent are considered obese. Weigh your dog periodically to monitor his weight (or weight loss if needed.)

Though some breeds are genetically predisposed to weight gain, owners are often to blame for their dog’s unhealthy weight. Overfeeding and lack of exercise are the two biggest causes of weight gain. Controlling portions and limiting snacks will help reduce your dog’s calorie intake, and ramping up activities is the only way to help your dog burn more calories. If you are too busy to walk your dog regularly, consider hiring a high school or college student as a dog walker.

By taking control of your dog’s diet and exercise routine, you should see a weight loss of 1 to 2 percent per week. Stick with your program to maintain this weight.

If your dog has a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, the problem could be medical. Thyroid problems and hormonal imbalances can also lead to weight problems.

Aniya Wells is a freelance blogger whose primary focus is writing about online degree programs. She also enjoys investigating trends in other niches, notably technology, traditional higher education, health, and small business. Aniya welcomes reader questions and comments at