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GDV – A Life-Threatening and EXTREMELY Urgent Condition in Dogs.
Two weeks in...are your resolutions still intact?
Pre-Holiday "Weigh-In"
Loving pedicures like we do.
Why does my dog's breath smell so bad?

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GDV – A Life-Threatening and EXTREMELY Urgent Condition in Dogs.

This weekend, I logged on to Facebook and one of my friends had posted that her extremely talented hunter, Boomer, had passed away on Sunday. Boomer was a young, vibrant, animated Chesapeake Bay Retriever in the prime of his life and hunting career. As I read the comments extended to Boomer’s parents, I soon found out that Boomer had passed away from GDV (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus), also known as “Twisted Stomach” or “Bloat”.
 
Boomer’s condition is very common in deep-chested, large breed dogs and unfortunately, we don’t know every single reason as to why dogs bloat. There are two things that actually happen during GDV. The first is that the dog’s stomach fills with air (Gastric Dilatation). A dog’s stomach can bloat and it can simply relieve himself through belching. Some dogs, often puppies, gulp their food down and take in a ton of air in the process. Their tummies become bloated with air and belch or sometimes vomit to relieve the pressure. Their stomachs return to normal after they expel all of the excess air and gas.
 
Where this can turn serious very quickly is where the stomach starts twisting on itself (Volvulus), sealing off both ends of the stomach, preventing the ability to expel the excess gas and air. This is absolutely a life-threatening condition and it is imperative you get your pet to a veterinarian immediately if you suspect a case of bloat.
 
Some signs your dog may have GDV are not subtle and include:
 
  • Bloating – your dog’s stomach will grow very big with air.
  • Episodes of unproductive belching, retching or vomiting. Your dog’s body is trying to expel the air collected in their stomach.
  • Intense abdominal pain that prevent the dog from moving around.
  • Shallow, rapid breathing and pale gums.
Again, it is extremely important to get your dog to a veterinarian or emergency clinic if it’s after hours. If your dog doesn’t get immediate veterinary care, his stomach could rupture and he could develop a fatal abdominal infection. There are risks during this surgery, but if not done, this condition is fatal.
 
To Boomer, from his parents:
“To my Big Brown Dog, Boomer, I will miss you so much. You were a great dog, a great hunter, snuggle buddy, protector of our house and family, squeaker of the squeaky toy. Although our time together was cut short, we had a lot of fun! We love you and know you are watching out for us. Thinking of you always, love Mom & Dad.”
 
 
 

Two weeks in...are your resolutions still intact?

Losing weight.  Finding love.  Work on increasing your savings account.  All very common New Years resolutions.  The most common, however, is always to stop smoking.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that secondhand smoke is attributed with killing thousands of adult non-smokers yearly.  I’ve never had to stop smoking, but on my 16 birthday, my dad made the pledge to stop, not only for his health but for the health of his children and people around him.  Children and grandchildren are a great reason to stop smoking, but so are pets.  More and more evidence is coming forward about just how dangerous secondhand smoke is to the animals that share our homes.
 
A recent study from Tuft College of Veterinary Medicine found a very strong correlation between secondhand smoke and some forms of cancer in cats.  The most common one that was found was a certain form of mouth cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.  This particular cancer was found at a larger number in animals living in smoking environments than in non-smoking households.  The numbers rose even higher in cats that were living with a smoker for five or more years.
 
 
One of the reasons cats are so susceptible to these cancers are because of their grooming habits.  Cats are constantly grooming themselves, therefore they are licking up all of the cancer-causing carcinogens that accumulate on their fur.  Dogs are more susceptible to cancers of the nose and sinus area.  Colorado State University recently conducted a study that showed that dogs living in smoking environments had a higher percentage of nasal tumors than those who were living in non-smoking environments.  The increased incidence was specifically found among the long nosed breed of dogs.  Shorter and medium nose dogs showed higher rates for lung cancer.
 
Secondhand smoke is not the only danger faced by pets that live in smoke filled environments.  Poisoning is another common risk.  Curious pets can eat cigarettes and other tobacco products if they aren’t stored properly.  When ingested, this can cause nicotine poisoning, which can be fatal.
 
The best choice that could enhance your chances of enjoying a healthier lifestyle with your family and pets would be to stop smoking all together.  Cheers to a happy and healthy 2012!
 
 

Pre-Holiday "Weigh-In"

Last night I had to run in to PetSmart to pick up some filters for my husband’s fish tank.  Ahead of me in line was a gentleman with a very portly lab in tow.  Ok, maybe I under-sold that.  This pup was 25-30 lbs. over-weight.  Well into the danger zone.  While standing waiting to check out, I overhead the cashier ask what the dog’s name was.  “Rufus*”, the guy replied.  “Oh, how cute.  Would Rufus like a treat?”  The guy gladly replies “Oh yes, he loves treats!”  All this time I’m thinking… Treats?  Get this dog a treadmill and a Biggest Loser audition, stat! 
 
There is no doubt that our beloved pets are getting fatter.  Studies have shown that 50% of our nation’s cats and dogs are either overweight or obese.  With increasing weights come increasing weight disorders, especially osteoarthritis and type 2 diabetes.  The first step to combating this problem is recognition.  We hear all too often that Fido only gained 2 lbs. over the last year.  Weight gained slowly it just as harmful as weight gained rapidly.
 
There are many things you can do to help get your pet back to a healthy weight.  A couple easy ones that come to mind are…
 
1.     Make sure you are feeding a high-quality diet.  Read the ingredients and know what is in your pet’s food.  You should always have a good quality protein source at the top of the ingredient list.  You should never, ever see “sugar” anywhere on that list.  Too much sugar does the same thing in animals as it does in people. 
2.     Along with feeding a high-quality diet, know how many calories your pet should be eating.  Give us a call and we can help you determine how many calories a day your pet should be eating.
3.     Limit treats!  I know dogs go bonkers when you even say the word “treat” but you can still treat them with a small, healthy treat (or even some veggies) rather than with a king-sized milk bone every time they come in from outside.
4.     Exercise!  Whether it is a rousing game of fetch, a casual stroll around the neighborhood or a little catnip and a feather chaser, get your pet moving.  Before too long the snow will fly and no one will be excited to venture out in the chilly air.
 
 
* While the events in this story are real, the names have been changed to protect the extra-large.
 
 

Loving pedicures like we do.

So, you have finally mustered the nerve to carry out the task you’ve been dreading all week. Nail clippers in hand, you hunt for Fido throughout the house. “I got him. He’s over here,” shouts your spouse. The two of you conspire to hold the struggling Pug down to give him a toenail trim, but after just seconds, you both give up.
 
The majority of dog and cat owners are afraid or unable to trim their pet’s nails. This is an essential pet care taskthat all owners should be able to perform.
 
Untrimmed or worn nails can snag on objects and break, causing pain and a trip to the veterinarian or an abnormal walking gait. They can even grow so long that they curve around back into the pads, causing lameness, pain and infection. Long nails can also cause damage to furniture or hardwood floors and scratch humans who are playing with their long-nailed pets.
 
You might think you can avoid the issue by sending your pet to the veterinary hospital or groomer to have this task done, but many pets are just as bad there. Consequently, the event is extremely stressful.
It turns out that both dogs and cats can be trained to allow, and even enjoy, the toenail trim process. Although the overall process is easier if you start when your pet is young, the trick is to pair the event with something positive and to train in systematic steps.
 
For instance, to train a pet to tolerate toenail trims, we want to associate the procedure with good things. For pets that bolt at the sight of toenail trimmers, you can just place the trimmers near their food bowl so they have to walk past and be near them every day when they eat. You can also put a treat, such as canned food, peanut butter or spray cheese, on the nail trimmer handles so that the pet can lick the treat off every time they walk by. You may want to be holding the trimmers if you have a pet that tends to eat weird objects.
 
Once the pet consistently acts as if she’s about to get treats when she sees the trimmers, you can go on to the next step. The easiest variation uses two people — one to give treats and one to handle the feet. First, have the pet sit in a comfortable position. Start by giving treats and simultaneously rubbing just above the paw. The goal is to get the pet to focus on just the food. After several seconds, stop. Wait about five seconds, then repeat the procedure. You want to make it clear that handling the foot equals treats.
 
When the pet is good at this step, go to pairing foot-rubbing with giving the treats. With each step, handle the feet more vigorously. Next, practice putting the clippers over the nail so he gets used to the feel paired with treats.
 
The final step is pairing the actual toenail clipping action with treats. Beyond this, you can also progress to clipping the nail and giving the treats afterward too. Just be sure that when you clip, you avoid clipping into the pink part of the nail that contains the blood vessel and nerves (quick) or you will set the process back. It may be helpful to start by trimming a small part, then a little more, especially with pets that have dark nails that make it hard to see the quick.
 
Sometimes the training takes just minutes. Sometimes it takes up to a week with twice daily sessions. Just be sure to always stay below the level of handling that causes your pet to react.
 

Why does my dog's breath smell so bad?

Most often, bad breath is caused by dental or periodontal disease. Some dogs do not adequately chew their food; thus they don't clean their teeth naturally by the chewing process. Also, some dogs and cats are just prone to dental plaque, tartar and disease. These pets may need more frequent dental cleanings and treatments.
 
Internal diseases such as kidney disease can also cause bad breath. A physical exam is recommended in order to pinpoint the cause of your dog's bad breath and to ensure he is in good health.