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.

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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.

LIVER FUNCTIONS DEFINED

Metabolic

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.

Protein

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.

Carbohydrate

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.

Lipids

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.

Detoxification

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.

Vitamins

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.

Trauma

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.

Pancreatitis

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

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

Hepatitis

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.

Parasites

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.

Heartworms

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.

Toxins

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

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.

Jaundice

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.

Examination

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.

History

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

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

Ultrasound

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.

Treatment

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.

AN OVERVIEW OF 5 TYPES OF CANINE CANCER

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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:

TREATMENT PHILOSOPHY OF CANINE CANCER
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.

TYPES OF CANINE CANCER

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.
Symptoms
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
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.

Symptoms
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
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.

Symptoms
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
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.

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

Treatment
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
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.

Treatment
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.

INFLUENCES ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF CANCER IN DOGS
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.

Genetics:
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.

Hormones:
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.

Environment:
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.

CONDITION CHECK STEPS AND CANCER WARNING SIGNS

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.

OTHER CANINE CANCER PREVENTATIVE MEASURES

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

CANINE CANCER TREATMENT TYPES

Radiotherapy
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
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.

Surgery
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

IN SUMMARY
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.

5 Tips to Cleaning Your Dogs Ears

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Your pooch takes precedence in your life and having a healthy dog is important. Those soft ears need to be cleaned and taken care of often. Here are some cleaning tips next time you sit down with your pup:

Vet: First and foremost if you think your dog has an ear infection, it’s best to take your dog to the vet to get it checked out. Don’t try to diagnose or heal the problem yourself, you could do more harm than good. Signs that your dog has an infection: the ear odor is very pungent, your dog keeps pawing at ears, your dog keeps shaking or rubbing head against things and you see any redness or irritation inside the ear.

Solutions: There are solutions that you can purchase from your vet or from your local pet store. Avoid any products that have alcohol in the ingredients. You can make your own solution at home mixing water with either hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar. Use even parts for both.

Be calm: Most dogs do not like anything being put into their ear. So before you start, lay on the floor with them and pet them. Use calming words and talk to them as you do it. Keep your hand movements slow and voice soothing.

Clean: Pour a small amount into your dog’s ear, a good rule of thumb to follow: take a cotton ball and soak up the solution and drip into your dog’s ear, try this 2-3 times depending on dog and cotton ball size. Once you have dripped the solution in their ear, massage the out base of the ear to work the solution. Your dog will most likely want to give a good head shake. Grab a towel to block any liquid and allow them to have one shake. Once they have done this, take a clean cotton ball and softly dab their ears to dry.

The Do Nots: Avoid using q tips and anything that is sharp or hard. Do not use alcohol because it can dry out their ears. Do not try to get a deep clean, stay at the base and entrance of the ear. If you think there is an infection, call the vet.

Remember to be careful and calm, use an alcohol free solution and clean often. Look for signs that your dog may have an infection or problem and get to the vet as soon as possible. Happy cleaning and have fun petting those soft ears.

Author Bio

Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of http://www.nannypro.com/.

Right medication for dog’s illness

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When your dog is ill, you will not be aware of it immediately as dogs have an instinctive way of covering up illness until it gets really bad. If you notice any change in your dog’s behavior, then look closely for any vital clues which may be indication of illness. You can basically look for signs, such as the way your dog drinks, eats, drags, drools or even having gained some weight. These indications may not all be serious but you need to talk to your veterinary doctor if they continue for more than two days. Here are some of the usual illness that afflict dogs and which can be easily treated with the right medication.

Flea allergy dermatitis

A single flea bite can cause some extremely sensitive dogs to start scratching the backside or groin, biting around the tail, licking and generally being very uncomfortable. Some dogs can even rip off clumps of hair in the affected area or even chew on it. Sometimes, that area may become bare exposing the inflamed, raw and sore skin which will be indicated by bumps and scabs. If left untreated, bacterial infection will set in and can create serious problem for the dog. A simple intradermal skin test is generally conducted by the vet and if the dog tests positive, the correct medication is prescribed.

The medications are to control the biting and scratching until it subsides or until you get the flea control program system. In severe cases, prescription medications are intermittently given, especially during hot and humid weather when fleas are most likely to attack.

Flea bite which causes anemia

When there is blood loss due to the exposed sores dogs become anemic, as they too have red blood cells in their bodies which determines their health status. When there is too much blood loss, the red cells are unable to develop fast to replace that loss in a sickly dog.

Since a single flea can bite hundreds of times in a day, the dog can suffer severe consequences due to a mild infestation. If your dog exhibits pale gum, weakness and lethargy, consult your vet immediately.

Your vet can immediately rid the dog of fleas with medication and attend to the anemia as well. In the case of very weak and anemic dogs, blood transfusions are given along with intensive care medications.

Tapeworms due to flea bites

The tapeworms are ingested by the dog through a flea carrying tapeworm eggs. The eggs are then matured in the dog’s intestinal tract, clinging on to the lining of the small intestine and draining the nutrients as they pass through the tract. The dog will suffer from fatigue, increased appetite and weakness despite eating well. This is often accompanied by constipation or diarrhea.

If you suspect that your dog has tapeworm infection then check the stool, as tapeworms will come out as rice grains or small white worms. You can take a stool sample and get an evaluation from the vet. In very severe cases, your dog will be unable to walk and will become paralyzed from waist downwards.

The vet will prescribe suitable medication and with regular treatment, the dog will recover from the attack.

Fleas are the most active transmitter for various ailments in dogs. As long as you get the right diagnosis from the vet and treatment followed up, you will be able to combat illness in your dog.

 

About the author: Kelly Marsh is a blogger by profession. She loves writing on technology, health and parenting. Beside this she is fond of games and gadgets. She also likes reading various articles on style guru & cellphone beat.

 

a dog care blog carnival – August 16, 2012

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Welcome to the August 16, 2012 edition of a dog care carnival.

Be a guest blogger here!

dogs

Amritorupa Kanjilal presents The Six Best Dogs For Kids: The Bea’s Knees | The Bea’s Knees posted at The Bea’s Knees: Health & Living, saying, “A guide for people who are choosing a dog if they have kids in the family”

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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Five Important Tips for Choosing the Right Pet Insurance

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Most pet owners have one particular thing in common; they all want healthy and happy pets. Expenses to keep your pet healthy can become frequent and costly. Pet insurance can be valuable for you and your pet. Pet insurance offers financial protection and peace of mind. Here are 5 important tips for choosing the right pet insurance:

Shop Around:

Pet insurance policies can differ in cost, benefits, and coverage. Pet insurance online shopping is easy and convenient. Don’t just choose the first policy you look at. Read information about it carefully and do your homework. See what plans your vet will accept before you buy. Choose a policy that gives you the level of coverage you want, with a payment that you can afford.

Pet Insurance Compare:

Did you know that pet insurance has been available for approximately 25 years? Not all pet insurance policies have longevity. Choose a stable company that can prove its financial security. Read information about the company, how long it has been in business and customer reviews.

Wide Array of Coverage:

A good pet insurance policy covers a wide range of things including prescription drugs, emergency visits, dental illness, chronic conditions, and unexpected illnesses. Make sure it is clear what is covered and what is not. Consider your pet’s breed, age, and any pre-existing conditions. Take into consideration the age of your pet. A puppy or kitten is usually young and healthy but needs preventative care and vaccinations. An older dog or cat is more apt to suffer from joint discomforts or dental problems.

Cancellation Policy, Restrictions, Waiting Periods, and Exclusions:

You should not be penalised for cancelling your policy, especially due to the loss of your pet. Make sure cancellation policies are clear and acceptable.

Some pet insurance polocies do not cover real young or real old pets; however, there is coverage available from many providers for all ages of pets. Some pet insurance providers place waiting periods up to 30 days before the insurance coverage goes into effect. Choose a policy that will cover your vet costs within 14 days after enrollment.

Author Bio:

My name is Lisa.  I am a tech writer from UK.  I am into Finance.  Catch me @financeport

dog care blog carnival – June 7, 2012

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Be a guest blogger here!

Welcome to the June 7, 2012 edition of a dog care carnival.

Theresa Torres presents Service dogs: mans’ best friend posted at Disability Horizons, saying, “Aside from providing physical and emotional support, here are a few more benefits that service dogs can provide to persons with disabilities.”

jedwardchan@gmail.com presents Heartworm Prevention for Dogs posted at JeD Chan.com, saying, “Glad to post on this carnival. Hoping for the best!”

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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a dog care blog carnival – June 28, 2012

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Welcome to the June 28, 2012 edition of a dog care carnival.

Be a guest blogger here!

Jacques Bouchard presents Pet Travel Tips: Looking Before You Leap posted at Onward Healthcare Blog, saying, “Some great tips on getting your pet ready for traveling or a move, including what to bring, and what should be done in advance to ensure a smooth trip for you.”

dog care

Jon Anderson presents Eye Easy for Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye in Dogs | Holistic Dog Care Tips posted at Holistic Dog Care Tips.

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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Ensuring the best care for your dog

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Dog is man’s best friend, but unfortunately, that friendship does not guarantee the same quality of health care. Most veterinarians are solidly committed to providing your pets with the highest-quality care possible, but it’s often difficult to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

Unless, of course, you take time to do some research about the vet clinics you’re considering. If you haven’t done this yet, it’s time you sit down and take a look at some of the key sticking points that will directly effect the quality of care your pet receives as well as your own personal satisfaction with the clinic. If you know what to look for, you could have a much easier time picking out the good apples from the bad ones. Here are a few things to consider.

Go with recommendations

The best place to start is always recommendations from other pet owners. But don’t rely on one person’s experience alone. With so much information available in the form of online reviews, you can sample a number of experiences and sort potential vet offices according to their average customer experience. Find out what vet offices in your area turn out the most happy customers — every clinic is sure to have negative opinions, but the vast majority will tell you what you should expect from a given vet.

Assess the vet care experience

When you decide to visit the vet’s office, take stock of the entire experience for both you and your pet. Are the receptionists friendly? Does the staff seem to like animals? Are steps taken to give your pet the greatest comfort possible? You can find all of these qualities at many vet clinics, but unfortunately, not all are the same. No one enjoys going to the vet — least of all your pet — so make sure you find a place that is as accommodating as possible.

Ask about equipment updates and maintenance

An aging vet clinic is no place to take your pet. During your intake with the vet, ask them about the upgrades they’ve made with their medical technology over the year. You should also ask about their practices for maintaining and repairing medical equipment. Processes like tee probe repair and other upgrades in technology need to be a regular aspect of any vet’s routine. If not, it could jeopardize the health of your pet.

Inquire about the vet’s support services

Vets tend to have a specific course of procedure for dealing with situations beyond what they can handle. Ask your vet, for example, what procedures are in place to handle emergency needs outside of clinic hours. Additionally, how do vets handle difficult diagnoses? Most — the good ones, at least — have fellow vets they consult when they struggle to reach a conclusion on their own.

Any pet owner understands that finding a reliable vet is essential. Don’t put yourself in a potentially frustrating situation by settling for a vet just because of convenience or cost. Vets have an incredible role in the health, happiness and longevity of your pets, so it’s worth your time to conduct your due diligence and find the clinic that is the best fit for you.

Is Your Dog Depressed?

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Like people, dogs are social creatures; and like their human counterparts, they can sometimes become depressed. Symptoms of depression are usually pretty easy to spot, especially if your dog is generally energetic. A depressed pooch will become withdrawn and listless. He will be uninterested in his favorite activities. He may refuse to eat or drink, and he may even hide in secluded spaces.

Before you take your dog to the doctor for anti-depressants (yes, they prescribe these for dogs), consider your dog’s lifestyle.

Dogs need predictability and structure, but they also need exercise and rewards for good behavior. When you first notice that your dog is becoming listless, try going on more walks and being more active together. Also, make sure that others in the household aren’t doling out too many punishments or treating the animal harshly.

Because dogs are pack animals, they thrive on relationships. They are inherently communal and can find it unnerving to be left alone. If you have a busy, unpredictable schedule – like a college student or anyone who has more than one job – you may need to consider whether you can realistically give your pet the attention he needs to be happy.

Just because he’s sleeping doesn’t mean he’s happy. If your young dog is sleeping all the time, he may have resigned himself to being alone. Dogs need physically and mental stimulation to be happy; and this means a crated dog needs designated times for activity. Any crated dog will have pent up energy that needs to be expended, and reprimanding a dog for this energy may have serious negative effects.

Dogs are also very sensitive to change. If you have moved recently or had a child, a dog could be going through an adjustment period. In this situation, continue your favorite activities as often as possible to keep your dog active.

When an owner or a pet companion passes away, dogs often show signs of depression. Though this could be a response to the dog’s relationship to the deceased, it could also be a reflection of the overall grief in the household.

In a Web MD article, Bonnie Beaver, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, explained that dogs are sensitive to human emotions. “Dogs pick up on our emotions, so if the owner has died, the dog could be responding to the grief of others.”

Beaver says another possibility is that the dog could be receiving a less attention, which is causing stress.

If your dog is showing symptoms of depression, take him to your vet for a check-up. There could be other factors behind your dog’s altered behavior. If your dog does need anti-depressants, you can expect him to recover within 6 months to one year.

Fun Fact: Dogs are prescribed some of the same anti-depressants as humans!

A freelance writer and blogging extraordinaire for seven years, Alvina Lopez now mainly contributes her expertise about online colleges to accreditedonlinecolleges.com. Her ultimate goal is to help future students discover their potential by enrolling in the right program for them. She also writes about trends in education, personal finance, and sustainable living. She loves getting feedback from her readers at alvina.lopez@gmail.com.

 

A Variety of Donation Options

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If you plan on donating to charity, it’s important for you to consider the charity itself as well as the many options that they may make available. For example, some may allow you to do a vehicle donation, such as being able to donate boat or other large item, while others are only going to accept a monetary contribution. If you do plan on giving to a charity by providing them with a physical item, you need to consider how they are going to receive an item and what they are going to do with it once they receive it. As an example, yacht donations have become popular among some individuals, and there are certain benefits both to the charity and to the person that is making the donation (Source: Yacht Donations by Angel For Hope).

If you are going to be donating larger items such as this, make sure that they are going to pick up the item directly from you. That will help to save you money and a lot of the hassle that could be involved in delivering it to their location. You should also make sure that they are willing to distribute the funds from the sale of the item to the charity of your choice. Many charitable organizations that accept this type of donation are going to have multiple choices for you. By being able to pick the organization where the funds will be distributed, it gives you a little bit of freedom as to how you will feel about the donation. You can then talk to them about providing the paperwork necessary so that you can declare it on your taxes properly.

Animal Shelters Need Your Support

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Every year local animal shelters take in millions of stray, lost, and relinquished pets. Some are adopted into loving homes, but the majority of these animals are euthanized due to overcrowding and limited resources. While animal shelters make concerted efforts to reduce numbers through spay/neuter programs and humane education, overpopulation continues to overwhelm these organizations. The recent economic downturn has placed further strain on the shelters. The onslaught of lost jobs and housing has rendered many owners incapable of caring for their animals. As a result, shelters have seen a notable increase in the number of owner-relinquished pets. Providing housing and food for all of these animals is an insurmountable task, but by donating time and necessary resources we can help improve survival and adoption rates in our local animal shelters.

Animal Shelter Spending

Approximately $2 billion dollars in taxes are allocated to animal shelter budgets every year. This includes the cost of intake, housing, and euthanasia, and averages out to about $100 per animal. In 2009, Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley took in 1,500 animals, returned 252 animals to their owners, and placed 350 in new homes. They reported an annual consumption of 15,000 pounds of food and 800 pounds of dog treats. They also used 14,000 pounds of cat litter, implanted 312 microchips, and administered 255 rabies vaccines. The estimated daily cost to feed and house animals at this shelter was $25 per dog and $20 per cat. They housed an average of 45 dogs and 45 cats each day. These numbers may sound huge, but this facility is actually smaller than many city and county animal shelters.

What You Can Do

Organize Fundraisers

While you may not be able to make a large financial donation to your local shelter on your own, you can always organize a fundraiser to generate sizable contributions. These events should be pet centered, and should also be lots of fun. Consider having a community dog wash day, or set up a pet photo booth with cute costumes and backgrounds. You may also be able to arrange a sponsorship program with a shelter or rescue organization for people who cannot adopt a pet, but want to help support one. Fundraisers do not have to be complicated; they only need to catch the interest of the community, and support humane treatment of animals. The cost of running an entire shelter may be great, but it only takes a small amount to cover the expenses of one animal, and each life saved is a step in the right direction.

Donate Supplies

In addition to monetary donations, shelters have a high demand for supplies and equipment. Particularly important donations include towels, blankets, cat litter, pet food, toys, litter boxes, and newspaper. Many shelters are happy to provide interested donors with a list of the facility’s specific needs.

Volunteer

Time may be the most valuable item you can donate to your local animal shelter. Volunteers are needed to help with cleaning, training, socialization, and dog walking. If you have veterinary experience, you may be able to volunteer with the medical team assisting with treatments, exams, and surgeries. If you have more time to dedicate, consider joining a foster program. Foster families are an invaluable shelter resource, providing temporary homes and excellent care to puppies and kittens that are too young to live in the shelter. Without foster homes these very young animals would have to be euthanized.

Adopt

The main cause for high euthanasia rates in shelters is overcrowding. As adoption rates increase, euthanasia rates decrease, so it is very important to promote adoption over buying from breeders or pet stores whenever possible. Unless you are serious about showing animals in conformation events – commonly called dog or cat shows – there is no reason to buy a purebred pet from a breeder. Pet stores are notorious for selling puppy mill dogs with very poor breeding and a tendency towards serious congenital and genetic disorders and diseases. Before you make a decision as to where you will get your next pet, take a few hours to visit your local animal shelter. You may be surprised to find a great variety of ages and breeds, including very young puppies and kittens as well as many purebred animals. If you have had good experiences adopting pets, make it a point to tell as many people as possible. If you know someone who is planning to get a new pet, encourage him or her to give some consideration to adoption. Most shelter animals will be spayed or neutered before adoption, are up to date on vaccines and parasite control, and come with a microchip. Many shelters and rescues also do temperament testing to determine what type of home each animal will thrive in, and whether they are likely to get along with other pets. Buying a fancy purebred dog from a breeder might provide you with a nice status symbol, but adopting a pet in need is a deeply rewarding alternative that will not only garner far more respect from your fellow animal lovers, but will guarantee you love and affection from a devoted canine friend for life.

 

Bio: This article was written by Havahart Wireless, a leading provider of dog training products. Havahart Wireless supports animal shelters and pet initiatives across the country. They love to blog about industry issues and trends and educate animal owners.