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.


How to Do the Heimlich on Your Dog

How to Do the Heimlich on Your Dog

Before administering any first aid, make absolutely certain your pet is actually choking. Many people confuse difficulty breathing with choking. If you witness your pet ingesting an item and then immediately begin pawing at the face, the throat, acting frantic, trying to cough and having difficulty breathing, only then should the Heimlich maneuver be considered. If your pet is not really choking, the Heimlich can cause serious injury.

What Happens If a Dog is Choking?

After determining that your pet is choking, remove any item that may be constricting the neck. Examine inside the mouth and remove any foreign object you see. Do not blindly place your hand down your pet’s throat and pull any object you feel. Dogs have small bones that support the base of their tongues. Owners probing the throat for a foreign object have mistaken these for chicken bones. Do not attempt to remove an object unless you can see and identify it.

If your pet is small and you cannot easily remove the object, lift and suspend him with the head pointed down. For larger animals, lift the rear legs so the head is tilted down. This can help dislodge an item stuck in the throat.

Another method is to administer a sharp blow with the palm of your hand between the shoulder blades. This can sometimes dislodge an object. If this does not work, a modified Heimlich maneuver can be attempted.

  • Grasp the animal around the waist so that the rear is nearest to you, similar to a bear hug.
  • Place a fist just behind the ribs.
  • Compress the abdomen several times (usually 3-5 times) with quick pushes.
  • Check the mouth to see if the foreign object has been removed.
  • This maneuver can be repeated one to two times but if not successful on the first attempt, make arrangements to immediately take your pet to the nearest veterinary hospital.

    Even if you are successful in removing a foreign object, veterinary examination is recommended. Internal injury could have occurred that you may not realize.


How to Perform The Heimlich Maneuver in a Dog

Click on the video below to see the demonstration on how to perfom the Heimlich Manuver on your dog

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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

How to Do Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on Dogs

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for Dogs

As much as we try to protect our dogs, accidents do happen. So, it is important to be as prepared as reasonably possible. One way to be prepared is to know how to give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

CPR is an emergency technique used to help someone whose heart and/or breathing has stopped. Although somewhat modified, the same techniques used for people – rescue breathing and chest compressions – can be used to help treat an animal in distress.

The first lesson to know about CPR is that it doesn’t restart a stopped heart. The purpose of CPR, in both humans and animals, is to keep them alive until the heart begins beating on its own or a cardiac defibrillator can be used. In people, about 15 percent of those getting CPR actually survive. In animals, CPR is frequently unsuccessful, even if performed by a trained veterinarian. Even so, attempting CPR will give your pet a fighting chance.

The ABCs of CPR for Dogs

In both humans and dogs, you must follow the ABCs: airway, breathing and circulation, in that order. If you suspect your pet is in distress, immediately look at his posture. Note the presence of blood, vomit or feces; his breathing pattern and other bodily sounds; and any materials, such as possible poisons, around him.

It is vital to know for sure that your pet isn’t breathing or doesn’t have a pulse before beginning CPR; it is dangerous to apply CPR to an animal (or a person, for that matter) if he is breathing normally and has a pulse.

Look for the chest rising and falling or place a mirror in front of his nose and watch for condensation. When checking for a pulse, remember that animals do not have a distinct carotid (neck) pulse. To determine if the heart is still beating, place your hand on the left side of the chest.

How to Do Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on Dogs

Click on the video below to see the demonstration on how to perform CPR on your dog.


If your dog has stopped breathing, check to see if the throat and mouth are clear of foreign objects. Be careful about placing your fingers inside the mouth. An unresponsive dog may bite on instinct. If the airway is blocked, do the following:

  • Lay your pet down on his side.
  • Gently tilt the head slightly back to extend the neck and head, but be very careful: Do not overextend the neck in cases of neck trauma.
  • Pull the tongue out of your pet’s mouth.
  • Carefully use your fingers to sweep for any foreign material or vomit from the mouth. Unlike CPR for humans, you can reach into the airway to remove foreign objects.
  • If necessary, perform the Heimlich maneuver.



If your dog is breathing, allow him to assume the position most comfortable for him. If he isn’t breathing, make sure the airway is open, and begin rescue breathing. Again, remember that even an unresponsive dog may bite on instinct.

  • Make sure the neck is straight without overextending.
  • For medium to large dogs, you will be performing mouth-to-nose breathing. Close the mouth and lips by placing your hand around the lips and holding the muzzle closed.
  • Place your mouth over the dog’s nose. For dogs under 30 pounds, cover the mouth and lips with your mouth. Your mouth will form a seal.
  • Exhale forcefully. Give four or five breaths quickly.
  • Check to see if breathing has resumed normally. If breathing hasn’t begun or is shallow, begin rescue breathing again.
  • For dogs over 30 pounds, give 20 breaths per minute.
  • For dogs less than 30 pounds, give 20 to 30 breathes per minute.

    Now check for a heartbeat. If no heartbeat is detected, begin cardiac compressions with rescue breathing.



For most dogs, chest compressions are best done with the animal lying on his side on a hard surface. For barrel-chested dogs such as bulldogs and pugs, CPR is best done with the animal on his back.

Make sure your dog is on a hard surface. The sidewalk or ground should work. If the animal is on a soft area, chest compressions will not be as effective.

For small dogs (less than 30 pounds)

  • Place your palm or fingertips over the ribs at the point where the raised elbow meets the chest.
  • Kneel down next to the dog with the chest near you.
  • Compress the chest about 1 inch at a rate of twice per second. (Small animals have higher heart rates than people so compressions need to be more rapid.)
  • Begin 5 compressions for each breath. After 1 minute, stop and check for a heartbeat. Continue if the beat has not resumed.

Footpad Injuries in Dogs

Injuries to the Canine Footpad

The footpad is considered the toughest part of the animal’s skin. It is the thick, spongy structure located on each digit and under the metacarpal and metatarsal joints of dogs and cats. This specialized part of the body absorbs the shock and pressure from standing and running. All footpads are made of a thickened layer of skin and a rough surface. In dogs the outer layer is usually pigmented.

Due to the location and function of footpads, they are often injured. The pads contain many blood vessels and they can bleed a lot when injured. Generally, footpad injuries include lacerations, punctures, abrasions, burns, traumatic pad removal and tumors. Due to the constant pressure and use of the foot, some extensive pad injuries do not heal.

What to Watch For

Signs of injuries to the canine footpad may include:

Diagnosis of Footpad Injuries in Dogs

Most pad injuries are diagnosed based on physical examination findings. Although lacerations, punctures, and abrasions are evident on examination of the pad, your veterinarian may not be able to determine the cause of the trauma.

Diagnosing tumors of the footpad requires additional tests. Under local anesthetic or general anesthesia, your veterinarian will surgically remove a biopsy sample of the suspicious mass and submit it to a pathologist for examination. The pathologist will review it and determine whether the mass is infectious, inflammatory or cancerous.

Treatment of Footpad Injuries in Dogs

The majority of footpad injuries are related to lacerations, punctures, and abrasions. However, veterinary care will vary, depending on the severity of the injury.

If your pet has a mild trauma such as a small laceration, abrasion or puncture, your veterinarian will thoroughly clean the wound with povidone iodine or chlorhexidine and apply a light temporary bandage. Your pet might require an Elizabethan collar to prevent him from licking at the feet.

For any bandaged paw, frequent bandage changes are necessary regardless of the severity of the injury. Your pet sweats from his footpads so moisture develops in the bandage. This can slow healing and result in infections. You will need to change his bandage every 2-3 days.

More extensive lacerations require proper management in order to heal. If your pet has an extensive laceration, each time he steps down, the pad spreads and the edges of the laceration spread apart. This makes healing difficult. As with minor cuts, your veterinarian will thoroughly clean the wound with povidone iodine or chlorhexidine. Then your veterinarian will suture the wound in an attempt to keep the edges of the laceration together to promote healing. He or she will then place a thick non-adherent bandage or even a splint to help reduce the pressure applied to the pad.

Some injuries to the pad involve a layer of the pad being torn off. Suturing is not possible in these situations. Your veterinarian will thoroughly clean the pad and apply a non-adherent bandage or splint.

The splint is used to display the forces of walking to allow the wound to heal and to help prevent infection by keeping the wound clean and dry. Application of Aloe Vera gel early in the course of treatment has also been found to promote healing.

Occasionally, severe injury to the pads results in a complete loss of the pad, and treatment is determined by which pad is lost. Those pads associated with the middle toes are most important for weight bearing. For cats and small dogs walking on the foot with missing pads may not cause any problems. However, for larger dogs or pets that spend significant time outdoors, a footpad graft may be necessary.

In this procedure, a nearby pad is grafted onto the area that is missing the vital pad. The pad located just above the primary pads (at the level of the wrist or ankle) can also be transposed to the injured area.

In severe cases, a toe can be removed and the pad associated with that pad transposed to the weight bearing area of the foot. This is considered a salvage procedure, however, and is only done in extreme cases.

Home Care of Footpad Injuries in Dogs

For minor pad injuries, soaking and cleaning with povidone iodine or chlorhexidine should be sufficient. Do not allow your pet to lick at the wound as this could result in infection.

For more extensive wounds, you should call your veterinarian.

Preventative Care

Some pad injuries are true accidents and difficult to prevent. Nevertheless, you can keep your pet’s environment safe by keeping the area free of sharp objects. Also, make sure you do not allow your pet to walk in areas that are littered with trash.

What to Expect in the First Year After you Adopt a Puppy

Bringing a new puppy home to your family is an exciting, joyful process.

It can also be a time that leads to a lot of questions about proper puppy care. Over the next year of your life you’re going to watch your puppy grow from to a teenager to an adult. During this time, your puppy’s sleep schedule will change, what he eats will change and he’ll become the dog your family will have for years to come.

So, what should you expect over the first year of your puppy’s life? This article will recap some of our most helpful resources on raising your pup up right.

While this post is for those adopting or rescuing a puppy, we also have resources for those that are caring for newborn puppies from their dog. The first 8 weeks of a new puppies life with his littermates and mother are big determining factors in how his personality will be.

When to Bring your New Puppy Home

It is well-established among breeders and canine enthusiasts that puppies will exhibit a number of negative behaviors when taken from their dams and littermates before 8 weeks of age. The effect is sufficient for many breeders to refuse the relocation of puppies to their new home until they reach 8, 10, or even 12 weeks of age. This sentiment is echoed by veterinarians and researchers as well in an increasing number of studies. One such study found a correlation between the development of social anxiety and separation from the litter prior to 60 days of age. Many states even have laws that prohibit adoption before 8 weeks.

The First 24 Hours at Home with Your New Puppy

You will need to spend a few days with your puppy when he first comes home. This will help the two of you get to know each other as well as relieve some of his anxiety about being in a new home. It can be beneficial to bring your puppy home on a Friday afternoon if you have the weekend off. Ask his breeder or the rescue to give him a small meal several hours before you pick him up. If his tummy is empty, he’ll be less likely to get carsick. Have him ride home in his crate in your car. You might be tempted to have him ride on your lap, but that isn’t safe and it will give him the idea that this is how he will always ride in the car. He’s safer and will get into significantly less trouble in his crate.

When you get home, have plans in place to handle introductions to other family members, keep a close eye on him for the first 24 hours and start bonding.

Before you go to pick up your puppy, check out our checklist of what you’ll need. Make sure you have all the necessities including crate, food, collar, leash, and more.

What to Feed your New Dog

Whether you get the new puppy from a breeder or rescued him from a shelter or pound, it is a good idea to find out what the pup is eating there so that you can continue on the same nutritional theme, at least for the first few days.

Your new puppy is already having to cope with enough change as he transitions from his previous home, or even litter, to his new home environment. The last thing needed is a simultaneous diet change. Keeping the puppy’s food the same is one way to minimize the stress of the move. Before you take your puppy home, ask for a sample off the food he has been eating to get you through the first few days.

If you plan to change to another brand of food, do so after the first couple days and do it by gradually mixing it the new food into the old food. When choosing a food for your puppy, check the list of ingredients. Ingredients are generally listed in order of amount used, with the ones used most listed near the beginning. The first ingredient in puppy food should be meat. Puppies should be fed food that has a protein content of 25 to 30 percent, depending on the breed.

Cheaper puppy foods provide less nutrition, with most of the food passing right through the puppy’s body and not being absorbed. Premium brands are more expensive but they contain higher quality ingredients and are better for your puppy. Because premium puppy food has more beneficial ingredients for your puppy, they do not need to eat as much of it. If you are unsure which brand is best for your puppy, consult your veterinarian.

Alphabetical List of Feline Diseases and Conditions

Feline Diseases and Conditions

This article contains a list of common diseases and conditions of cats listed alphabetically. Each link will take you to an article with more information about that specific condition.

For information about general symptoms (such as vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, lethargy, lack of appetite, etc.), go to Guide to Cat Symptoms. Also, this article may be useful: 16 Symptoms You Should Never Ignore in Your Cat.

Alphabetical List of Feline Diseases and Conditions


Acetaminophen Toxicity (Tylenol)
Acne in Cats
Acute Moist Dermatitis
Acute Pancreatitis
Allergic Dermatitis
Allergic Reaction ( Insects)
Allergic Reaction ( Unknown Cause)
Allergic Reaction (Vaccine)
Amitraz Toxicity
Anal Sac Disease
Angular Limb Deformities
Animal Attacks
Anterior Uveitis
Aortic Thromboembolism
Aspiration Pneumonia
Aspirin Toxicity
Atrial Fibrillation
Aural Hematoma


Bacterial Bronchopneumonia
Bartonellosis (Cat-scratch Disease)
Basal Cell Tumors
Bite Wounds
Black Widow Spider Bites
Bleeding Disorders
Brachial Plexus Avulsion
Bronchial Asthma
Brown Recluse Spider Bites


Carbamate & Organophosphate Toxicity
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carpal Hyperextension
Chemical Burns
Cherry Eye
Cheyletiellosis (Walking Dandruff Mite)
Chondrosarcoma (Nasal and Paranasal Sinus)
Chondrosarcoma (Tumor of the Larynx and Trachea)
Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic Ear Problems
Chronic Valvular Heart Disease
Coma, Stupor and Decreased Consciousness
Comminuted Fractures
Congestive Heart Failure
Contact Dermatitis
Corneal Degeneration
Corneal Laceration
Corneal Sequestrum
Corneal Ulceration
Coxofemoral Hip Luxation
Cuterebra Infestation
Cystitis – Recurrent
Cystitis (Acute)



Degenerative Arthritis
Demodicosis (Red Mange)
Dental Braces
Diabetes Mellitus
Diaphragmatic Hernia
Dietary Related Gastrointestinal Disorder
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
Dystocia ( Difficult Birth)


Ear Dermatitis
Ear Mites
Ear Tumors
Elbow Luxation
Electrical Injuries
Endocrine Alopecia
Enucleation (Eye Removal)
Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex
Esophageal Disease
Estrogen Toxicity
Ethanol Toxicity
Ethylene Glycol Toxicosis
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)
Eye Proptosis
Eyelid Tumors


Facial Nerve Paresis (Paralysis)
Fan Belt Injury
Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Feline Infectious Anemia (Hemobartonellosis)
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
Feline Panleukopenia
Feline Resorptive Lesions
Fibrosarcoma (Bone)
Fibrosarcoma (Nasal and Paranasal Sinus)
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Flea Infestation
Flukes: Pancreatic and Liver
Food Allergy
Footpad Injury
Foreign Body: Respiratory
Fracture Information (General)
Fracture of the Carpus and Tarsus
Fracture of the Digit
Fracture of the Femur
Fracture of the Humerus
Fracture of the Mandible
Fracture of the Maxilla
Fracture of the Metatarsus and Metacarpus
Fracture of the Pelvis
Fracture of the Radius and Ulna
Fracture of the Rib
Fracture of the Sacrum
Fracture of the Skull
Fracture of the Spine
Fracture of the Tibia and Fibula
Fracture Repair
Fractured Tooth



Gasoline and Petroleum Toxicity
Gastric Foreign Body (Stomach Foreign Body)
Gastric Motility Disorder
Gastrointestinal Foreign Body
Gastrointestinal Neoplasia
Gastrointestinal Ulcerations
Gunshot Injury


Head Trauma
Heartworm Disease
Helicobacter Infection
Hemangiosarcoma (Bone)
Hemolytic Anemia
Hepatic Encephalopathy
Hepatic Failure
Hepatic Lipidosis
Hepatic Neoplasia (Liver Tumors)
Hiatal Hernia
Hip Dysplasia
Hookworm Infestation
Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Syndrome)
Hyperthyroidism and the Kidney
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Cats
Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s Disease)


Ibuprofen Toxicity
Illicit Drug Exposure
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Injection-Site Sarcoma
Intervertebral Disc Disease – Thoracolumbar Area
Intestinal Parasites
Iris Prolapse
Iron Toxicity



Joint Injury


Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS)


Lead Toxicity
Lens Luxation
Lizard Venom Toxicity
Lymphocytic Plasmacytic Enteritis
Lymphosarcoma (Lymphoma)


Malignant Melanoma
Mammary Gland Tumors
Mast Cell Tumors (Mastocytoma)
Medial Patella Luxation
Metaldehyde Toxicity
Metastatic Neoplasia (Cancer)
Metronidazole Toxicity (Flagyl Toxicity)
Miliary Dermatitis
Mushroom Poisoning


Naproxen Toxicity
Nasopharyngeal Polyps
Near Drowning
Neonatal Isoerythrolysis
Nephrolithiasis (Kidney Stones)
Nephrotic Syndrome
Nicotine Toxicity
Notoedric Mange
Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism



Ocular Trauma (Eye Trauma)
Ophthalmia Neonatorum
Otitis Externa
Otitis Interna and Media
Ovarian Tumors


Pancreatic Exocrine Neoplasia
Patent Ductus Arteriosus
Pemphigus Foliaceus
Perinephric Pseudocysts
Permethrin and Pyrethrin Toxicity
Pleural Effusion
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
Portosystemic Shunt (Hepatic Shunt)
Potpourri Exposure
Pregnancy Termination for Undesired Matings
Primary Lung Tumors (Lung Cancer, Pulmonary Neoplasia)
Progressive Retinal Degeneration
Proprioceptive Deficits
Protein Losing Enteropathy (PLE)
Protozoal Infection
Protozoan Parasites
Protrusion of Third Eyelid
Pseudorabies (Aujeszky’s Disease)
Pulmonary Contusion – Lung Bruising
Pyoderma (Bacterial Skin Infection, Pus in the Skin)

Is Your Dog at Risk for Bloat?

Understanding Risk Factors for Canine Bloat

Canine bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is the common cause of death for several large and giant breeds. It is a life-threatening disorder and if left untreated, results in death.

Is your dog at risk?

Questions to Assess a Dog’s Risk Factors for Bloat

Answer the following questions and add the associated points to determine your dogs risks for bloat.

  • Does your dog have deep narrow chest confirmation? Is your dog’s chest a lot deeper than it is wide? If so, add 10 points.
  • Is your dog a Great Dane, Bloodhound, standard Poodle, Irish Wolfhound, German Shepherd Dog, Irish Setter, Akita, or Boxer. If so, add 7 points. If your dog is a mix of any of these breeds, add 5 points.
  • Does your dog weight more than 75 pounds? If yes, add 2 points? Does he weight between 51 and 75 pounds, if yes, add 1 point. If he weights less than 50 pounds, add zero points.
  • Is your dog male? If so, add 1 point.
  • Is your dog lean, normal or obese? If your dog is lean, add 1 point. If our dog is medium build or obese, add zero points.
  • How old is your dog? If your dog is less than 4 years old, add no points. If your dog is 5 – 8 years old, add 1 point. If your dog is more than 8 years old, add 2 points.
  • Does your dog have a known relative that had bloat? If yes, add 5 points.
  • Does your dog eat fast or slow? If he eats slowly, add zero points, if he eats fast, add 1 point.
  • Does your dog eat from an elevated bowl? If yes, add 1 point.
  • Does your dog eat a food that contains an oil or fat ingredient, such as sunflower oil or animal fat, listed among the first four ingredients. If yes, add 4 points.
  • Can you describe your dog’s personality as nervous, fearful, or aggressive? If so, add 2 points.
  • Is your dog stressed e.g. as being boarded on in a kennel? If yes, add 2 points.
  • Does your dog only eat one meal a day? If yes, add 1 point. If you feed your dog more than one time per day, add zero points.
  • Does your dog only eat dry food? If so, add one point. If he eats a combination of canned and dry or table scraps, add zero points.

    Answer to Risk Factor Assessment for Bloat

    Add up your points

  • Dogs at high risk: 27 – 40 points. Watch your dog carefully for signs of bloat. If you see any signs, please call your veterinarian or local emergency clinic immediately. If your dog has a high score and is a puppy, discuss the pros and cons of performing a prophylactic gastropexy on your dog. If possible, minimize the risk factors. For example, if you feed your dog once daily, consider changing to twice daily feeding. If you use an elevated feeder, remove that unless necessary due to other medical conditions. If you feed dry, discuss other diet options with your veterinarian.
  • Dogs at moderate risk: 13 – 26 points. Even though your dog is not in the high-risk category, there are still some substantial risk factors. Watch your dog carefully for signs of bloat. Minimize risk factors if possible.
  • Dogs at low risk: 0 – 12 points. Your dog is at low risk of bloat. It is still smart to watch for signs and minimize risk factors.
  • Conclusion on Risk Factors for Bloat in Dogs

    From the research performed to date, we can list several factors that, added together, can characterize the typical dog that develops bloat: a deep and narrow chest; leanness; a relative that has had a bloat episode; eating quickly; a dry-food diet; a single, large daily meal; stress; and a fearful, nervous, or aggressive temperament.

    For more information on bloat Click here

    Anthrax in Cats

    Overview of Feline Anthrax

    Though anthrax has recently been brought to the public’s attention, it is actually one of the oldest recorded infectious diseases. When an outbreak occurs, concerned cat owners ask about the risk of Anthrax to cats which we will discuss in this article. 

    Anthrax is caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis, anthrax outbreaks periodically occur throughout the United States, but since it usually affects horses, cattle, sheep and goats, there is little media coverage. Typically, an outbreak will occur after periods of drought followed by heavy rains. There are several areas within the United States that are considered endemic with anthrax.

    Anthrax affects all warm-blooded animals, including humans. Anthrax is a bacterial infection that has been reported all over the world. The bacteria is very resistant to heat, chemical and environmental changes due to its ability to become encapsulated in a spore. These spores then live in the soil, waiting to be inhaled or ingested by grazing livestock.

    Horses and livestock are most often affected, but dogs and cats can become infected, despite their natural relative resistance to the bacteria. Though inhalation is the cause of the recent human cases, cats are most often infected after ingesting meat from a carcass infected with anthrax. Other routes of infection include inhalation as well as migrating through the skin.

    Once the bacteria enters the body, it begins to invade body tissues. If not treated, the bacteria continues to multiply and then begins to release a toxin. Infected cats initially develop swelling of the throat and gastrointestinal disease. Without treatment, facial swelling occurs, the bacteria spreads and the animal succumbs to kidney failure, shock and respiratory failure. From the time of exposure to development of symptoms, 3 to 7 days have passed.

    Anthrax is a disease with zoonotic potential. This means the disease can be passed from animal to humans, but the disease is not as communicable as a virus. The anthrax spores are the contagious part of the disease. To become a spore, the anthrax bacteria must be exposed to oxygen.

    This means that direct contact with a contaminated animal does not automatically result in an infection. A person must be in contact with the infected animal’s bodily fluids or abnormal discharge to be at risk for infection.

    Although there have been reports of inhaled spores recently, skin contact with anthrax is the most common way people contract the disease. The spores are exposed to skin abrasions, lacerations, etc. and a superficial wound develops.

    Anything that would expose the body tissues containing the bacteria to oxygen should be avoided in an attempt to reduce the number of spores in the environment. Any animal that dies from anthrax should be cremated to avoid development and spread of additional spores.

    Animals diagnosed with anthrax should be handled with extreme caution. Body fluids should be avoided and necropsy should not be performed.

    What to Watch For

    Signs of Anthrax in cats may include: 

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Facial swelling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Bloody discharge from mouth, nose and rectum
  • Diagnosis of Anthrax in Cats

    Diagnosis can be difficult. An accurate and thorough history is very important. Since anthrax is uncommon in cats, exposure to carcasses known to be infected with anthrax is a crucial part of the medical history and diagnosis. Cats rarely ingest or inhale enough spores from the soil to cause illness.

    If there is an index of suspicion for anthrax, examination of the blood or any blood-tinged discharge can reveal the bacteria. The fluid is prepared and appropriately stained. Rod shaped bacteria will be seen when the fluid is microscopically examined.

    Additional tests, such as fluorescent antibody exam of smears prepared from blood or body fluid, can be used to confirm the diagnosis. Lymph node biopsy can also reveal the signs of anthrax bacterial invasion.

    Treatment of Anthrax in Cats

    Early treatment is crucial. Successful treatment involves hospitalization and supportive care. Intravenous fluids and high doses of penicillin, ampicillin or enrofloxacin are administered.

    Despite aggressive treatment, some animals do not survive. After death, extreme care must be taken. Necropsies are not recommended and neither is burial.

    Home Care and Prevention

    There is no home care for anthrax. It is highly contagious and extreme caution is necessary when treating infected animals. Since anthrax is most often associated with ingestion of infected carcasses, do not allow your pet to roam. Keep your cat indoors.

    How to Tell if Your Cat is Ill

    How to Determine if Your Cat is Ill 

    Your cat cannot explain his symptoms, so it’s the responsibility of you and your veterinarian to keep him healthy. Cats are very good at hiding their illness so it is up to you to observe your cat for abnormalities.

    Common indications of a “sick cat” include: lethargy, disorientation, weakness, weight loss, seizure, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, unproductive retching, straining to urinate, bloody urine, difficulty or inability to walk, bleeding, pale mucous membranes, difficulty breathing and persistent cough. You know your pet best and can often notice subtle early warning signs that someone else may not detect. If you observe any of the mentioned symptoms or other signs that concern you, call your veterinary hospital. The safest approach would be to have your pet examined.

    Once your cat is at the hospital, your veterinarian may ask additional questions to help localize or diagnose the problem. It may help to be prepared to answer some of the following questions:

  • How long have you owned your cat?
  • What is the age of your cat?
  • Has your cat experienced any previous illnesses?
  • Is your cat currently under treatment for an illness or disease?
  • Has your cat ever been tested for Feline Leukemia or Feline AIDS
  • Where did you get your cat (adoption center, breeder, previous stray, etc.)?
  • What preventative medications is your cat currently taking?
  • Does your cat receive any consistent flea treatment?
  • Has your cat been vaccinated? When? For what?
  • What other type of pets do you have?
  • Are any other pets ill?
  • Have there been any recent acquisitions?
  • Have there been any recent activities such as boarding, grooming, etc.?
  • Is the majority of your cat’s time spent indoors or outdoors?
  • Have there been any recent changes in diet or eating habits?
  • What brand of food does your cat eat? How much? How often?
  • Do you offer your cat table scraps?
  • How frequently and what type of treats are offered?
  • How much water does your cat typically drink per day?
  • Have there been any recent changes in water consumption?
  • What type of litter do you use and how frequently is the litter box cleaned?
  • Have you noticed any coughing or sneezing?
  • Have you noticed any lumps or bumps on your cat?
  • Is your cat urinating normally?
  • Is your cat having normal bowel movements?
  • When is the last time he/she had a bowel movement?
  • Have you noticed any recent weight loss or weight gain?

    After answering some general questions, more specific questions need to be answered. A brief cursory exam of your pet at home can help you determine the answers. These questions are also commonly asked when pet owners are seeking help over the phone. Be prepared to answer the following questions, depending on the problem with your pet:

    Regarding the eyes

  • Have you noticed an increase or decrease in tear production?
  • Do the eyes appear cloudy or red?
  • Have you noticed any discharge?
  • Do the eyes appear bloodshot?
  • Are the pupils the same size in both eyes?
  • Have you noticed your pet rubbing or pawing at eyes?
  • Is your cat squinting his/her eyes?
  • Do the eyes appear to be sunken or excessively protruding?

    Regarding the ears

  • Do you notice any swelling or discharge from the ears?
  • Are the ears drooping when they normally stand erect?
  • Are the ears red and inflamed?
  • Do you notice any odor?
  • Is your cat rubbing or pawing at the ears?
  • Have you noticed a lot of head shaking?
  • Have you noticed any pain or crying when you rub or scratch your cat’s ears?

    Regarding the nose

  • Have you noticed any congestion, sneezing or coughing?
  • Have you noticed any blood coming from the nose?
  • Have you noticed any nasal discharge?

    Regarding the mouth

  • Have you noticed any swelling of the lips or tongue?
  • Have you noticed any bleeding from the mouth?
  • What color are the gums – tissue just above the teeth?
  • Is your cat able to open and close the mouth normally?
  • Is there any pain involved in opening or closing the mouth?
  • Have you noticed any excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth?
  • Is your cat able swallow food normally?
  • Are there any foreign objects such as bones or sticks stuck on the roof of the mouth or around the teeth?

    Regarding the chest

  • Is your pet experiencing any difficulty breathing?
  • Have you noticed panting?
  • Is there any pain when the chest area is petted?
  • Have you noticed any recent coughing?
  • What is the heart rate?
  • Is the heartbeat steady and consistent?
  • Place your hand or your ear on the left side of your cat’s chest, just behind the elbow. You should be able to feel or hear the heartbeat. Count how many beats the heart pumps in one minute.

    Regarding the abdomen/stomach area

  • Has your cat been having any diarrhea or vomiting?
  • Is your cat able to eat and drink normally?
  • Does the abdomen/stomach area appear swollen or distended?
  • Does your cat have pain when the stomach area is petted?
  • Is your cat known to chew on non-food items such as clothing, towels, strings, etc.?

    Regarding the urinary and reproductive systems

  • Have you noticed any difference in urinating?
  • Does your cat seem to strain to urinate or cry in pain?
  • Does your cat repeatedly try to urinate with no urine produced?
  • Is there any blood in the urine?
  • How frequently does your cat urinate?
  • Is your female cat spayed? At what age? Did she ever have kittens?
  • If your cat was not spayed, when was her last heat cycle and was she bred?
  • Is your male cat neutered? At what age?
  • Do you notice any discharge from the vaginal area?
  • Do you notice any discharge from the penis?
  • If your cat is not neutered, do you notice any swelling of the testicles?
  • Have you noticed your cat excessively licking or grooming the genital area?

    Regarding the musculoskeletal system – bones and joints

  • Have you noticed any limping?
  • Are any legs or joints swollen?
  • Has your cat been excessively licking at one area of his/her legs?
  • Does your pet show signs of pain when walking?
  • Is your cat able to walk normally?
  • Does your cat walk on his/her knuckles?
  • Does your cat drag any legs when walking?
  • Have you noticed signs of pain when petting your pet?

    By supplying the answers to these questions, your veterinarian will be in a much better position to help your pet. Additional tests may be necessary to find out what the problem is but the answers to the above questions can greatly narrow the area of concern.