Puppy Care Recommendations

That cute little puppy stole your heart and now he’s part of your family. You love him to death, but remember: He’s your responsibility and you need to take care of him.

Of course, taking care of your dog is a year round responsibility. You should keep a detailed medical file on each pet to remind you when vaccines are due, when the last fecal sample was checked and what special seasonal events are required, such as a trip to the groomer.

To keep him healthy and happy, there are several things you should do as part of his care.


Parasites are a common problem as your puppy ages. Ticks, fleas, heartworms and intestinal worms are the primary culprits. However, with a little planning and some medical help, your puppy can be kept parasite free. Your veterinarian has medications available to prevent these parasites from infesting your puppy and to eliminate the parasites if already present.

For more information, see the article Parasite Control.


There are topical and oral medications available to prevent and treat tick infestations. If a tick is found, careful manual removal with a tweezers or tick removal instrument is recommended.

For more information, see the article How to Remove and Prevent Ticks.


Preventing fleas is much easier than treating an already established flea infestation. Topical and oral medications are quite effective in keeping your puppy’s flea problem to a minimum and are safe in puppies. Monthly products now make flea treatment much easier than ever before. If fleas are allowed to proliferate, your pet and your entire environment – home and yard – must be treated.

For more information, see Flea Control and Prevention.


Heartworms are a preventable parasite in your dog. For dogs at risk of infection, monthly oral preventative is strongly recommended, based on geographical location and lifestyle. This medication is typically started around 4-6 months of age. Since mosquitoes transmit heartworms, the risk of heartworm infection is increased in the warmer months.

For more information, see the article Heartworm Prevention in Dogs.

Intestinal Parasites

Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidia and giardia are common intestinal parasites. Most veterinarians recommend deworming all puppies since many can be born with roundworms. Even so, a fecal sample should be evaluated. After an initial deworming, your pup may need additional deworming. After reaching adulthood, an annual fecal exam is recommended. If parasites are found, early treatment can reduce the chance of serious illness. Currently, there are monthly medications available that help prevent some of these parasites from developing. Even if your dog is on medication to prevent parasites, annual fecal evaluation is still recommended.



In addition to parasite control, preventing contagious disease is also recommended. There are vaccines available to help reduce your puppy’s risk of acquiring diseases such as distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, kennel cough and rabies, just to name a few. Vaccines are started in puppies at 6-8 weeks of age and given every 3-4 weeks until the pup reaches 16-20 weeks of age. After that, boosters are given the following year.

For more information, see Vaccine Recommendations for Dogs.


Proper nutrition is essential in maintaining health and providing adequate nutrition for growing puppies. Supplements are not recommended. Giant breed puppies require some extra nutrition due to their rapid growth. Special diets are now available for these pups. By feeding high quality puppy food, you will be helping your puppy down the path of good health.

For more information, see Picking the Right Food for Your Puppy.


Grooming is an important part of caring for your puppy. By grooming your puppy early in life, you can get him used to being brushed, combed and bathed. Longhaired dogs should be brushed daily. Short haired puppies benefit from weekly grooming. Without proper grooming, accumulation of hair and mats and tangles can occur. Start bathing and brushing your puppy as soon as you bring your new pup home.

For more information, see the article Grooming Your Dog.

Exercise and Training

Puppies are quite clumsy but very active. Provide plenty of opportunity for your pup to run off that pent up energy. If it is hot and humid outside, try to limit the amount of time outdoors and don’t allow your pup to over exert himself. Exercise and play are very important not only to keep your pet fit but to provide socialization and teach your puppy what is acceptable play and what is not. Any misbehavior or aggressive play should be stopped immediately. Even though dog parks are popular and fun, they are not good ideas for puppies under 6 months of age. Puppies are very susceptible to contagious disease and dog parks can result in the spread of disease. Wait until your pup has received all his puppy shots before going to the park.



Obdience training is very important in puppies. It teaches them their place in the family and gives them an opportunity to show you how smart they are. Following your commands can keep your pet safe, especially when around other pets. Puppies learn very quickly and training while young is recommended. Remember, an obedient puppy makes a happy healthy dog.

What to Expect from Your 16-week-old Puppy

At four months old, pups are in full teething mode and chewing becomes an issue. Also, at this stage of development, puppies often exhibit fits of “the maddies” and periodically tear around the house, running across the furniture, practically bouncing off the walls. This is a release of their natural exuberance and is to be expected. At this age, puppies are “braver” and may get into things that they would have not done so when younger. This may be described as the pre-adolescent stage when puppies may show more independence.

The following list will help you know what to expect from your puppy has he develops.

  • How Big? – Most 16-week-old puppies are in their rapid growth phase. Most puppies will gain or grow rapidly between birth and 6 months of age and how much they grow or gain will depend on their breed, diet, and ultimate adult size. Some formulas estimate that by 16 weeks of age your puppy is at least half of his adult weight.
  • Teething – The puppy’s first teeth are temporary and are soon replaced by permanent teeth. This is a very active teething stage as many of the adult teeth come in now and for the next couple months. As teeth first erupt, puppies like to chew. Make sure you have a good supply of appropriate chew toys. Don’t keep too many toys out at one time. Hide some of the toys and reintroduce them when your puppy seems bored.
  • Senses –16-week-old puppies will show fear, pain, pleasure, and excitement. They can see and hear fairly well. They are learning to differentiate between smells. Their ear muscles are maturing as they learn to manipulate their ears to allow the entrance of sound waves which adds to their keen sense of hearing.



  • Ability to Hold Urine – 16-week-old puppies can generally hold their urine for about 5 hours. This means you will need to take them out at least every 5 hours to get them “housebroken”.
  • Intelligence –16-week-old puppies are very interested in the environment. This makes them at higher risk for getting into “things” as they explore their environment. Some puppies have a brief phase of “fear” at this time as they may respond to noises or new objects. Exposure your puppy to new objects and allow them to investigate on their own terms until they are comfortable with the new situation.
  • Agility – Most puppies that are 16 weeks old are still a little clumsy but are getting stronger and more coordinated. They can generally romp, play, jump, and run with good accuracy. This is a time they have lots of energy and some of the fetch type toys can be a good release.
  • Sleep – Puppies that are 16 weeks old sleep approximately 18 to 20 hours per day. The rest is spent eating, playing and eliminating.
  • Physical Appearance & Hair Coat – 16-week-old puppies may begin to show some of their adult hair coat at this stage. It is important to get them use to being brushed and touched. They are continuing to grow in height and length but still look very much like a puppy.



Tips on Best Ways to Raise Your 16-week-old Old Puppy


  • Continue crate training
  • Maintain a housetraining schedule
  • Take him out at least every 5 hours
  • Feed 3 to 4 times per day
  • Choose safe toys
  • Switch out safe chew toys
  • Don’t let your puppy chew on anything toy he can swallow
  • Get your puppy used to grooming and trimming his nails
  • Expose your puppy to different people to minimize fear
  • Socialize!
  • Never hit your puppy
  • Give positive reinforcement for work well done
  • Beware puppy hazards
  • Play with your puppy
  • Provide access to fresh water at all times
  • Make sure he gets his vaccines!Read about What your 16-week-old Puppy Needs to Stay Healthy!



Should I Give My Dog Tap Water?

The safety of tap water is a question many pet owners ask for themselves and for their pets. Our Tap water is regulated (by the EPA) and determines it to be safe when coming from the tap. However, one wonders how strictly these guidelines are followed.

There are 8 possible contaminates that are of potential concern in tap water. They include:

  • Fluroide. Several decades ago, the United States government mandated the addition of fluoride to the water supply. There is some controversy over the safety of fluoride as it is also a toxin and considered a hazardous waste by the EPA.
  • Chloride. This is used in water treatment plants as a disinfectant. However, there is also question about the safety of routinely drinking chloride, as it has been associated with bladder, rectal, and breast cancers.
  • Drugs. Several drugs including antibiotics, birth control, painkillers, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and much more have shown up in public water supplies. Learn more about this issue below.
  • Chromium. Normally found in our Earth such as plants, rock and more, this element is probably classified as a carcinogen and can enter the water.
  • Radioactive contaminants. Contaminants have been identified in U.S. drinking water supplies in low levels. The impact is unclear.
  • Arsenic. Natural deposits in the earth may release arsenic into our water supply. Arsenic is considered a carcinogen and is toxic.
  • Lead, aluminum, and other heavy metals. The most common way these metals contaminate our water is through corrosion of the pipes in our homes plumbing system. Symptoms of toxicity can include learning disorders in children, as well as nerve and brain damage.
  • Bacteria. Bacteria can enter the water system from sewers or enter from animal wastes in fertilizer or in the ground.

Drug Contamination in Tap Water

While your tap water may be portable, that doesn’t mean it’s pure or healthy. A lot of people can get low-grade infections from bacteria in local water supply-and that can lead to such symptoms as feeling bloated, itchy eyes, stomach cramping, and fatigue. And you’d have no idea what even caused the problems.

Drinking plenty of water and other liquids may reduce the risk of bladder cancer by diluting the concentration of cancer-causing agents in urine and helping to flush them through the bladder faster. Drink at least 8 cups of liquid a day, suggests the American Cancer Society.

It’s not good for you, either. Bottled water companies increasingly use BPA-free plastic, but laced into plastic bottles are other chemicals that can seep out if bottles are exposed to heat or sit around for a long time. Some of these chemicals are possible endocrine disruptors.

Recently, an article published by the Associated Press (AP) in 2008 exploited the presence of several drugs in drinking water from various locations around the country. Since then, this has been intermittently in the National headlines. In this particular According to the AP article, they tested water that supplies over 41 46 million Americans during a 5-month survey. The residue of several drugs including both nonprescription drugs and prescription drugs were found.

Nonprescription drugs such as Tylenol and ibuprofen as well as prescription drugs such as sex hormones, antibiotics, antidepressants, and other drugs have been found in the water at several water facilities across the country. Of the 62 water sources, 28 were tested. Of those, 25 of the 28 tested positive for drug residue including 24 large metropolitan areas. Some tested positive for multiple drugs.

The amounts of drug residue in the water were very small and much less than a therapeutic dose of medication but this raised concern regarding the safety of the water. Is the water safe to drink? What happens with the consumption of water over time? The water utility companies claim this water is safe. The U.S. government does not have requirements for safe drug levels in the water.

Drugs get into the water as water is recycled. People take drugs of which some is absorbed and the rest is eliminated out of the body. As these drugs are eliminated in urine, the residue ends up back into the water supply. Water purification systems eliminate some but not all drugs from the water.

What does this mean to our health? No one really seems to know. Water plants indicate the water is safe. Several doctors have been quoted as not being quite as sure. Drinking this water containing drug residue over a long period of time could have some effects but it has not been studied.

Pros and Cons of Spaying and Neutering in Dogs

It’s time to start thinking about spaying or neutering your dog. But, maybe you are not quite sure if it is the right thing to do. If you’re wondering whether you should just leave your dog as nature intended, consider the positive and negative aspects of spaying and neutering before making your decision.

First, what does neutering mean? Neutering is a procedure used to “de-sex” an animal. This procedure has been used to control animal population growth, reduce unwanted sexual behavior in pets, and decrease or eliminate the possibility of certain disease conditions later in life, such as pyometra or infection in the uterus.

Castration is a term used to describe the removal of the gonads (testicles) in male animals. Spaying is a term used to describe the sterilization procedure of females. The procedure of spaying most often consists of removal of both the ovaries and uterus, which is called an ovariohysterectomy. Both procedures are performed under general anesthesia and both involve a surgical incision.

Neutering is done most commonly at or around six months of age. However, many veterinarians perform this procedure earlier – as early as 8 to 10 weeks in some situations. Early neutering can be done safely and has a number of advantages, especially in cases of pet adoption.

Spaying – The Positive Side

  • Spaying removes the risk of pregnancy.

    Pet overpopulation is a serious issue and by allowing your dog to have litters, you are adding to the problem. Finding homes for your new family additions is not as easy as you may think. Even if you choose to keep the puppies, you now have the additional cost of vaccines, parasite control, toys and food for several pets. In addition to costs, the health of the mother can be in jeopardy during delivery. Some new mothers can have serious complications delivering puppies and can even develop health problems during nursing. All these potential problems can be avoided by spaying your dog.

  • Spaying makes for a cleaner, calmer dog.

    Without the drive to mate, your dog may be quieter and not prone to an incessant need to seek out a mate. The spayed dog no longer attracts males and their annoying advances and serenades. Dogs won’t have a bloody discharge for several days while they are in heat. Without proper protective products, the discharge can stain sofas, bedding and carpets. Spayed pets are also easier to get along with. They tend to be more gentle and affectionate.

  • Spaying keeps your dog healthier.

    A final positive aspect of spaying your dog is that spayed pets tend to have fewer health problems. Spaying is the removal of the ovaries and uterus. Without these organs, ovarian cysts, uterine infections and cancer of the reproductive tract are no longer a concern. Studies have shown that dogs spayed before puberty have a significantly lower chance of developing breast cancer than unspayed dogs or dogs spayed later in life.

  • Spaying – The Negative Side

  • Spaying means sterilization.

    Spaying will result in the sterilization of your dog, and she will no longer have the ability to become pregnant. In the era of pet overpopulation with thousands of unwanted pets being euthanized each year, this is really not so bad. 

  • Spaying may cause weight gain.

    Some pets may gain weight after spaying and as they get older. Just as with people, to loose weight we need to either diet or exercise. Cutting back on food intake or increasing your pets activity will help reduce weight gain.


    Neutering – The Positive Side 

  • Neutering removes the risk of pregnancy. 

    Pet overpopulation is a serious issue and by allowing your dog to breed, you are adding to the problem. Although you may not own the female dog, and you are not burdened with finding homes for those new puppies, someone else is. Even if you accept your responsibility and choose to keep the puppies, you now have the additional cost of vaccines, parasite control, toys and food for several pets. 

  • Neutering makes for a calmer dog.

    Another positive aspect of neutering your dog is that neutering can result in a calmer, and sometimes cleaner, home. Without the drive to mate, your dog may be quieter and not prone to an incessant need to seek out a mate. The neutered dog no longer feels the need to seek out and serenade females. He no longer has the stress of needing to mark his territory and urinate throughout the house and yard. Neutered pets are also easier to get along with. They tend to more gentle and affectionate. Neutered males tend to roam less and typically are not involved in as many fights with other animals.

  • Neutering keeps your dog healthier.

    A final positive aspect of neutering your dog is that neutered pets tend to have fewer health problems. Neutering is the removal of the testicles. Without these organs, testicular cancer is no longer a concern and the risk of prostate problems is reduced. For those people who would like to sterilize their dog but do not wish to alter his appearance, testicular implants are available.

  • What to Expect from Your 6 month old Puppy

    At about 5 to 6 months, if you have more than one pup, you may find that play becomes more aggressive and exhibits some nipping, growling, and other general displays of dominance. Many males, and some females, will begin humping each other at this stage as they rehearse for their adult roles. Such behavior is acceptable as long as it is not directed towards you.

    Puppies can be taught to sit, lie down, wait, stay, leave it, and other such useful commands that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Once these behaviors have been learned they should be reinforced periodically throughout life. This is the usual time for formal puppy training classes outside the home. Such classes are extremely helpful as long as they are conducted in a non-confrontational way.

    The following list will help you know what to expect from your puppy as he develops.

    • How Big? – Most 6-month-old puppies are approximately 75 % of their adult body weight. Most puppies will gain or grow each week until they attain their adult size which occurs between 9 and 16 months of age. However, there is a range of maturity between the different breeds. Small dogs mature faster and reach their adult size and body weight faster than large and giant breeds of dog.
    • Teething – By 6 months, the permanent canines erupt. Permanent premolars erupt at 4 to 6 months and the molars erupt at 5 to 7 months of age. Most breeds will show all their permanent teeth between the ages of 6 to 7 months of age. Although dogs this age have all their adult teeth and are not actively “teething”, chewing may peak at this stage. Make sure they have safe and approved chew toys. This is a great age to be on a regular tooth brushing schedule as these are the teeth they will have for the rest of their life so it is important to care for them properly.
    • Senses – By 6 months of age, most dogs have a very keen sense of hearing, vision, taste and smell. At this age, dogs are learning to differentiate one dog (and human) smell from another.



    • Ability to Hold Urine – 6-month-old puppies can generally hold their urine for about 7 hours. This means you will need to take them out at least every 7 hours if you expect them to not have an accident. They should be able to sleep through the night without having to go out.
    • Intelligence – 6-month-old puppies are in the beginning of their adolescence. They are smart, curious, strong, willful, and very playful. They also may take more risks by eating things that younger puppies may not. It is important to ensure that your puppy does not have exposure to trash cans, dirty clothes, and other objects he may want to eat.
    • Agility – Most puppies that are 6 months old are becoming very strong and coordinated. They can generally romp, play, fetch, jump, and run with very good accuracy. This is a time they have lots of energy and some of the fetch type toys can be a good release.
    • Sleep – Puppies that are 6 months old sleep approximately 16 to 18 hours per day.
    • Puberty – Be aware that by the time most puppies are 6 to 8 months of age, puberty has set in and unplanned pregnancies are possible, so be ready to take precautions or consider spaying or neutering as soon as possible.
    • Physical Appearance & Hair Coat – Your puppy will begin some changes from a puppy to an adult haircoat. Most puppies begin to shed some of their puppy coat. Get your dog used to being brushed as the shedding will get worse as they full loose their puppy coat. Your puppy will appear much more like an adult at this stage, starting to grow in height and length and fill out with developing muscle.



    Tips on Best Ways to Raise Your 6-month-old Old Puppy


    • Consider that crate training is for life
    • Take him out at least every 7 hours
    • Make sure he gets plenty of exercise!
    • Brush and comb daily
    • Brush teeth daily
    • Train!
    • Feed twice a day
    • Switch out safe chew toys
    • Don’t let your puppy chew on anything he can swallow
    • If he is at risk for heartworm disease, make sure he is on preventative!
    • Get your puppy spayed or neutered
    • Give positive reinforcement for work well doneRead about What your 6-month-old Puppy Needs to Stay Healthy!


    What Your 16-Week-old Puppy Needs

    Your 16-week-old puppy has certain needs to stay healthy! The following is a list of recommended wellness care for an 16-week-old puppy including tips and advise on dewormers, heartworm prevention, flea and tick control, spay and neutering and nutrition.

  • Vaccines – 16-week-old puppies should have at least their second set of shots, and ideally it is their third set. If your puppy has not had any shots, get a first set as soon as possible and repeat them again in 3 to 4 weeks. Rabies is required by law between 12 and 20 weeks of age in most states. If it is not given now, it should be given by 20 weeks. Some breeds may need an additional set of vaccines at 20 weeks of age, especially if your puppy is at risk for certain diseases such as parvovirus.
  • Dewormers – Most puppies are born with worms and therefore should be dewormed by your veterinarian. The first deworming generally occurs at 6 to 8 weeks of age and another deworming is generally given at this time. If your puppy has not already been dewormed, he may be dewormed now.
  • Heartworm Prevention – Heartworm prevention is important to puppies and should be started before they are 6 months of age. Heartworms are present in most parts of the United States. Ask your veterinarian if your dog is at risk.
  • Flea/tick Control – Depending on where you live and your current flea/tick situation, there are very good preventative medications to control flea and ticks. The best and safest products are prescribed by veterinarians.
  • Spay/Neuter – Puppies may be spayed and neutered at an early age or later, closer to 6 months of age. If your puppy is not “fixed”, discuss when the best time is with your veterinarian. Pet overpopulation is a serious issue and by allowing your dog to have litters, you are adding to the problem. Finding homes for puppies is not as easy as you may think. Even if you choose to keep the puppies, you now have the additional cost of vaccines, parasite control, toys and food for several pets.
    • Diet – Your 4 month old puppy should be eating a good quality food formulated for puppies of his or her size 3 to 4 times per day. Consider your pups age, weight, and activity level when deciding how much to feed. Every brand of food has different nutrients, caloric densities and feeding recommendations. There is no set formula for how much to feed a puppy. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations on how much to feed. As your puppy ages and his size increases, he will need more food each day. Weigh your puppy each week. Approximate caloric requirement for a 4 month old puppy varies with breed size and activity level. Estimations include Toy breeds – 250 calories, small breeds 535 calories, medium breeds 825 calories, large breeds 1600 calories and giant breeds 2250 calories.

    Should You Supplement Your Dog’s Diet?

    As a general rule, before supplementing your dog’s diet, you should discuss with your veterinarian the available evidence or recommendations supporting the use of nutriceuticals and dietary supplements. Be certain to avoid high levels of supplementation of any single nutrient unless you’re certain that it’s safe and won’t interfere with any other medications your pet may be taking.


    Supplements fall into two general and very large categories: vitamin and mineral supplements and nutriceuticals. Nutriceuticals are nutrient supplements given to obtain a pharmacologic (drug-like) effect or to prevent a specific disease. The overall benefit of vitamin and mineral supplements is hotly debated. According to most feeding studies of healthy dogs, dogs that eat an appropriate balanced diet do not need supplements. Nevertheless, many of us take dietary supplements ourselves and wish to provide our pets with the same potential benefits.

    Of course, dietary supplements can also be dangerous. Excessive supplementation with calcium salts, for example, can lead to significant bone diseases in growing dogs. Vitamin D supplementation can lead to harmful elevations of the blood calcium and damage to the kidneys. Nutriceuticals fall into a different category since they are used to either prevent or treat specific diseases. Examples include: taurine (an amino acid essential to cats) and Cosequin (a protein complex of possible benefit in joint health). There are others, such as L-carnitine (sometimes used for heart conditions), rutin (used for a serious condition called chylothorax) and co-enzyme Q10. Be aware that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplements in the same way that drugs are regulated and controlled. The proof of effectiveness and safety demanded for pharmaceuticals is not required for nutriceuticals or vitamins.


    As a general rule, before supplementing your dog’s diet, you should discuss with your veterinarian the available evidence supporting the use of nutriceuticals and dietary supplements. Be certain to avoid high levels of supplementation of any single nutrient unless you’re certain that it is safe and will not interfere with any other medications your pet may take.


    Your Guide to Common Dog Poisonings

    Common Canine Poisons and Toxins

    There are hundreds of items your dog can get access to. Some things are highly toxic and others are non-toxic. This article is a guide to help you determine if a particular item is a problem and provide you with the information you need to best help your pet.

    If you think your dog may have been exposed to a toxin, the best thing to do is to check the label of the item you think your pet ingested. Read the information about toxicity. Often, but not always, the information on packaging regarding children is relevant to dogs and some manufacturers even discuss dog toxicity. If there is an 800 number on the package – call them! It’s also recommended that you call your veterinarian to confirm the recommendations. If you go to your veterinarian, take all packaging and any information you have on the product.

    General Information. For most poisonings, there is not much you can do at home. Consult your veterinarian or veterinary emergency facility if you suspect your pet has been poisoned. For some ingested poisons, your veterinarian may recommend inducing vomiting before bringing the pet in for examination and treatment. Inducing vomiting of a toxic substance should never be done unless specifically directed by a veterinarian. For topical exposures, bathing in lukewarm water with a mild dish soap can reduce further toxin absorption before the pet is examined and treated by a veterinarian.

    List of Common Dog Toxins

    Non-toxic Items Commonly Eaten by Dogs. Chewing on things is a normal part of puppyhood so before you rush your pooch to the veterinarian, here is a list of some commonly eaten and, thankfully, non-toxic items. If your pup chews any of these, don’t worry about toxicity. The only real concern is the potential for obstruction if the object or container becomes lodged in the stomach or intestines. Also, you can expect some vomiting and maybe even a little diarrhea from eating a non-food item.

    Amitraz. Amitraz is an insecticide used in some brands of dog tick collars and topical solutions. Toxicity most often affects curious puppies who ingest the poison but can occur from wearing the tick collar or receiving demodectic mange treatment. Typical symptoms begin within about 2 to 6 hours of ingestion and often begin with the pet becoming weak and lethargic. Vomiting, diarrhea and disorientation are also common. Without treatment, coma may result. In severe untreated cases, toxicity may result in death. Call and see your veterinarian for treatment.

    Amphetamines. Amphetamines are human medications that are commonly used as appetite suppressants and mood elevators or for the treatment of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders. Amphetamines must be prescribed by a physician, but because they are popular as appetite suppressants and mood elevators, they are often purchased illegally. Amphetamines are nervous system stimulants that also affect the brain. After ingestion, toxic signs are usually seen within one to two hours. Common signs include restlessness, hyperactivity, agitation, tremors and seizures. Prompt veterinary treatment for amphetamine toxicity is crucial and will give your pet a better chance of full recovery. If left untreated, amphetamine toxicity can be fatal.

    Ant Traps. If an ant trap is ingested, the only real concern is the potential for obstruction if the object or container becomes lodged in the stomach or intestines. Most ant and roach traps are made from either sticky paper or chlorpyrifos, which has a low level of toxicity in mammals but is highly toxic to insects. Also, you can expect some vomiting and maybe even a little diarrhea from eating a non-food item.

    Antifreeze. Ethylene glycol toxicosis is a type of poisoning that occurs after ingestion of antifreeze or other fluids containing the ingredient ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol itself is not toxic, but it is metabolized in the animal’s body to several extremely toxic chemicals that are responsible for its potentially lethal effects. Ethylene glycol poisoning results in nervous system abnormalities and severe kidney failure with almost complete cessation of urine output. Ethylene glycol poisoning can be fatal if not treated soon after ingestion (within 4 to 8 hours). The minimum lethal dose for dogs averages five milliliters per kilogram of body weight. Thus, a little more than three tablespoons (or 45 milliliters) could be lethal for a 22 pound (10 kg) dog. Definitive treatment should be started as soon as possible after consumption of ethylene glycol (within a few hours). If treated promptly and appropriately, pets that have consumed ethylene glycol will not develop kidney failure and have a good chance of survival. Signs to watch for include: nausea, vomiting, increased thirst, lethargy and incoordination progressing to coma. Pets may act as if they are intoxicated. These signs develop within 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion of ethylene glycol depending on the amount ingested.

    Bite Wounds in Dogs

    Bite Wounds that Occur to Dogs

    Bite wounds are often the result when two animals engage in a fight or aggressive play. Animal fights most commonly occur when adults are put together for the first time. Other causes of fighting include dominance, hierarchy, fighting over food, owner attention or territory. Of all trauma-related veterinary visits, 10 to 15 percent are related to bite wounds.

    Dog bites can result in significant trauma, like crushing, tearing, puncturing and lacerations of the skin and underlying tissues. Cat bites are typically puncture wounds with possible tearing or laceration. This is due to the small, sharp teeth of cats as compared to dogs.

    Since the mouth is an environment filled with bacteria, all bite wounds are considered contaminated and the possibility of infection is high. In comparison, cat bites have a much greater chance of becoming infected than do dog bites.

    Bite wounds, which may only appear as a small puncture wound in the skin, can actually be quite extensive. Once the tooth penetrates the skin, severe damage can occur to the underlying tissues without major skin damage.

    All bite wounds should receive veterinary attention. Some wounds may appear deceptively minor but may have the potential to be life threatening, depending on the area of the body bitten.

    What to Watch For

    • Bleeding
    • Swelling
    • Drainage
    • Breathing difficulty
    • Limping
    • Weakness
    • Collapse

    Diagnosis of Canine Bite Wounds

    Diagnosing a bite wound is usually a simple task, especially if the owner witnesses a fight. Wounds often have the characteristic appearance of a bite wound. The challenge comes in determining the extent of the underlying damage. Bite wounds are most commonly found on the neck, face and legs.

    Bite wounds of the neck can be serious and may need further examination to determine the extent of the underlying damage. Excessive bleeding from tearing of a major blood vessel, nerve damage, airway trauma and trauma to the esophagus can occur.

    Bite wounds of the face can cause severe damage to the eyes, ears or mouth. Scratches and puncture of the eye is possible. Extensive bleeding can occur if the ears or mouth are bitten.

    Sedation or anesthesia may be required to examine the injured pet.


    Treatment of Canine Bite Wounds

    Treatment for bite wounds depends on the part of the body injured and the severity of the bite. Bite wounds are usually painful and your veterinarian will administer pain medications to relieve the pain. Wounds have the best chance of healing without complication if treated within 12 hours of the injury.

    Sedation or anesthesia may be required to treat some bite wounds. The skin wound may have to be enlarged surgically to allow examination of the underlying tissues.

    The primary goal of treatment is to reduce the risk of infection. Your veterinarian will gently remove dead tissue and clean the wound area thoroughly to remove hair and other debris. Povidone iodine or chlorhexidine are used to disinfect the wound. If extensive damage has occurred and fluid accumulation is expected, a temporary drain may be placed in the wound to assist healing. The edges of the wound are sutured closed.

    Antibiotics are very important in treating infection, although most bite wounds become infected even if the patient is on antibiotics. This is due to the contaminated nature of the injury. The purpose of antibiotics is an attempt to keep the infection under control.

    Bacterial culture and sensitivity may be done to determine the primary bacterial agent involved and help chose the best antibiotic. Frequently, this test is reserved for those bite wounds that do not respond to initial antibiotic treatment.

    Since the vast majority of bite wounds are contaminated with Pasteurella multocida, common antibiotic choices include amoxicillinamoxicillin with clavulanic acid,cephalexin, cefadroxil or enrofloxacin.

    Home Care for Bite Wounds in Dogs

    Initially cleaning of the bite wounds with hydrogen peroxide, povidone iodine or chlorhexidine can help reduce infection. Extreme care must be used since bite wounds are painful and the pet may bite the person caring for him/her out of fear or pain. You may have to muzzle your pet.

    Despite initial home care, all bite wounds should be examined and treated by a veterinarian. Extensive damage can occur even if it appears as though there is only a small, minor puncture wound on the skin.

    Preventative Care

    Preventing bite wounds is done by avoiding situations that may result in animal fights. Do not allow your pet to roam. Keep cats indoors. Keep your dog on a leash, especially when visiting parks and walking through the neighborhood.

    Heartworm Prevention Guidelines for Dogs

    Canine heartworm disease is a serious parasitic disease caused by a long, thin worm that lives in the blood vessels and heart of infected dogs. The disease is spread from dog to dog (and to cat) by mosquitoes. The mosquito bites a dog with heartworm infection, collects some of the microscopic heartworm offspring and then, after a couple of weeks, passes these on to another dog or cat.

    Inside the dog, the microscopic heartworm can grow into a parasite exceeding a foot in length. The life cycle is somewhat complicated. The important thing is to prevent worm development using safe and effective preventative drugs.



    Heartworms are present (endemic) in most parts of the United States and in many parts of North America. Mosquitoes are the key – without them the disease cannot spread. The highest rate of infections are found in subtropical climates like those of the southeastern United States, the Gulf states and Hawaii. However, heartworms are also found throughout the central and eastern United States, particularly near oceans, lakes and rivers. Heartworm disease injures the lungs, the arteries of the lungs and the heart. Symptoms include tiring, coughing, weight loss and heart failure. Heartworm infection in dogs is usually diagnosed by a blood test.


    Prevention of heartworm disease is simple. In most cases, a once-monthly prescription tablet or topical treatment is all that is needed to effectively protect your pet. These products include milbemycin oxime (Interceptor Flavor Tabs® and Sentinel Flavor Tabs®), ivermectin (Heartgard® for Dogs), and topical selamectin (Revolution®).

    These preventatives are only available from your veterinarian, who must first make certain that your dog is not heartworm positive. These “preventatives” kill microscopic larvae that are left behind by mosquitoes when they bite a dog. Before beginning heartworm prevention, any dog over 7 months of age should first have a heartworm test. Preventatives in heartworm positive dogs can cause severe reactions. Repeated heartworm blood testing every year is recommended even for dogs taking heartworm preventative year round. Previous recommendations were for every 1 – 3 year testing but this changed with the 2005 American Heartworm Society (AHS) recommendations to yearly testing. This is due to concern with breaks of pets on preventatives that still contracted heartworms. Annual testing will ensure that an infection is caught in plenty of time to effectively manage it. Testing is also recommended when a pet owner switches between preventative medications.


    The AHS recommends that all dogs in areas endemic for heartworms should take a year-round preventative. If you are not certain about the danger of heartworms in your area, call your veterinarian. Most veterinarians follow the guidelines published by the American Heartworm Society, a group of concerned veterinarians and scientists. As noted above, dogs over 7 months of age should first have a heartworm test.

    The recommended heartworm prevention is a once-monthly pill (milbemycin oxime sold as Interceptor Flavor Tabs® and lufenuron/milbemycin oxime sold as Sentinel Flavor Tabs®, ivermectin sold as Heartgard® or Heartgard Plus® or a topical treatment selamectin (sold as Revolution®). Speak to your veterinarian about administration guidelines.

    Some heartworm preventatives also control intestinal or external parasites. The wide range of excellent and safe heartworm prescription products can be explained by your veterinarian.

    For more information about the most recent recommendations on heartworm prevention, visit the guidelines posted on the Society’s web site at www.heartwormsociety.org.