How Dangerous Is The Kissing Bug For Your Dog

The kissing bug has the potential to be extremely dangerous to dogs. The kissing bug is an insect categorized as members of the Triatominae, a subfamily of Reduviidae. They have long cone-shaped heads, thin legs and a dark black or brown exterior that has small lighter colored stripes. They acquired their name as the kissing bug due to their propensity to bite (feed) along the mouths of people.

Kissing bugs are dangerous to dogs because they can spread a dangerous protozoan injection Trypanosoma cruzi (T.  cruzi) that can and cause a fatal disease called Chagas disease. Learn more about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Chagas Disease in Dogs.

The kissing bug is widespread in Latin America and is becoming more common in the Southern United States. T.  cruzi lives in the digestive tract of the bugs and is shed in the kissing bug feces.

Estimates range that anywhere from 300,000 to over one million humans are infected in the United States (U.S.). Most are in the southern United States or immigrants coming to the U.S. from South and Central America.

What Dogs are at the Highest Risk for Bites from the Kissing Bug?

It is believed that dogs at the highest risk for bites from the kissing bug spend most of their time, especially nights, outdoors near woodpiles and lights were kissing bugs live and are attracted. Dogs at highest risk for bites from the kissing bug include:

  • Stray, feral, and abandoned dogs
  • Hunting dogs
  • Dogs kenneled outside
  • Dogs that sleep outside
  • Dogs that spend time near large outdoor lights at night
  • Dogs with homes near woodpiles, rocks, or brush
  • Dogs that live in or around homes with thatched roofs
  • Dogs in homes with holes in the screens, cracks, and crevices where kissing bugs can get into the home
  • Dogs in warmer climates
  • Dogs not on parasite prevention medications

What is the Real Threat of the Kissing Bug?

Kissing bugs infected with T. cruzi can transmit the infection to dogs. Based on one study, approximately 50% of the kissing bugs tested were infected and able to spread T. cruzi. When infected, T. Cruzi can cause a life-threatening disease referred to as Chagas disease that can cause various symptoms with the most severe being heart failure and death.

There are two phases of infection with Chagas disease, acute and chronic. The acute phase can cause symptoms such as fever, lethargy, and a decreased appetite. These symptoms can be similar to many other diseases. After the acute phase, many dogs will appear to improve and seem normal before going into the deadly chronic phase. Learn more about the diagnosis and symptoms of Chagas disease in dogs.

In the southern United States, infection rates may be as high as 9%. The threat is real. In Mexico, the infection rate may be 17 to 22%.

The real threat of Chagas disease relates to the seriousness of the disease. There is no vaccine to prevent Chagas disease and no cure for Chagas disease. Treatment is only aimed at controlling the symptoms.  Many times the disease is deadly and the prognosis is considered grave to poor.

How Can Help My Dog Avoid Exposure to Kissing Bugs

There are several things you can do to help your dog avoid exposure to kissing bugs. The kissing bugs are attracted to light and live in woodpiles and crevices. One of the biggest things you can do is to keep your dog in at night. Learn about specific really good tips on how to help your dog avoid kissing bug bites. Go to: Top 5 Pet Owner Questions About The Kissing Bug.

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Chagas Disease (American Trypanosomiasis) in Dogs

Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis or Chagasic myocarditis, is a disease that can occur in dogs due to the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi). Chagas disease was named after Carlos Chagas, a Brazilian physician who discovered T.cruzi in 1908. It was first diagnosed in the United States since 1916.

Protozoans are basic one-celled organisms that can cause a range of medical problems and symptoms including diarrhea, dehydration, weakness, weight loss, and eventually death. Two of the most common protozoan infections in dogs are Coccidia and Giardia. Protozoan infections are most common in young puppies and those with immature or weak immune systems. Infection is more common in crowding situations such as pet shops, boarding kennels, and breeder facilities.

Chagas disease is caused by the protozoan parasite T. cruzi. The kissing bug (Triatominae or Triatoma) carries T. cruzi and is named such because it often bites people and pets around their mouths.

The following are ways dogs can be infected with T. cruzi and acquire Chagas disease:

  • Dogs can be born with the disease receiving it from the mother.
  • Ingestion of a kissing bug.
  • Ingestion of the feces of an infected kissing bug.
  • A bite from the kissing bug that subsequently infects the bite with its own feces. Note: The kissing bug commonly defecates during feeding. The natural instinct after a bite is to rub or scratch at the area which can contaminate the wound with the kissing bug feces.
  • Ingestion of a rodent infected with T. cruzi.
  • Blood transfusion from a donor dog infected with T. cruzi.
  • Eating food infected with the feces of the kissing bug.

After exposure and infection with T. cruzi, the parasite multiplies and eventually invades the dogs cardiac (heart) cells which cause the infected cells to rupture. Chagas disease is common in Central and South American and becoming more common in the United States. Historically Chagas disease has been focused in the warmer Southern states including Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, New Mexico, California, Florida, and Virginia but is expanding as the kissing bug spreads throughout the country. Most recently it has been found in 28 states including Ohio and Maryland.

There are many estimates as to the number of humans infected in the United States that range from 350,000 to over a million. Most infected humans live in the Southern United States with many being immigrants from South and Central America.

The kissing bug likes to bite (feed) at night and lives in crevices such as wood piles. Chagas disease is most common in dogs less than one year of age and common in dogs that are strays, feral, or abandoned dogs and infection rates may be as high as 9%. In the United States, infection rates in dogs are highest in dogs kenneled and those outdoors/free to roam. The infection rates in Mexico are estimated to be 17 to 22%, almost double the % in the US.

Symptoms of Chagas Disease in Dogs

There are typically three phases of the infection in dogs that cause different clinical signs. When the infection is new (acute) dogs will experience some very general symptoms that occur from day zero to 4 weeks and then often appear asymptomatic for months to years.

The severity of signs is believed to relate to the age and activity of the dog as well as the specific strain of the T. Cruzi.

Top Signs of Acute Chagas Disease in Dogs

The acute signs of disease occur from 0 to 4 weeks.

  • Decreased or loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged liver and/or spleen
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Lymph node enlargement
  • Seizures or disorientation
  • Sudden death
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Top Signs of Chronic Chagas Disease in Dogs

  • Abnormal heart arrhythmias (arrhythmias)
  • Anemia
  • Coughing
  • Death
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen (ascites)
  • Fluid accumulation in the lungs (pulmonary edema)
  • Inability to exercise or “exercise intolerance”
  • Increased heart rates
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Seizures
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

Diagnosis of Chagas Disease in Dogs

The diagnosis of Chagas disease in dogs can be a challenge. T. Cruzi can be found in the lymph nodes and bloodstream during the acute phase of the disease, but there has been no reliable way to see these organisms. They can sometimes be seen in the blood or lymph node samples but the numbers can be low and they can be hard to visualize.

There are serologic tests that evaluate antibody levels but those can take three to four weeks to become detectable. These serologic tests can be expensive and are not always reliable. Sometimes the patient is somewhat better by this time and those diagnostics are not completed.

What You Need to Know About the Kissing Bug & Chagas Disease and Your Pet

Recent news reports on vectors and emerging diseases have pinpointed “Kissing Bugs” as a growing threat to humans and other mammals.  The amiable name belies a blood-sucking insect that can transmit a protozoan parasite known as Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi), causing an incurable disease known as American Trypanosomiasis or Chagas Disease.  In the past few years “kissing bugs” (triatomines and related insects) have been moving north from tropical climates.

The disease is endemic in 21 countries in South America, Central America, and Mexico, and has now spread as far north as the entire lower half of the United States (U.S.).  Human and animal migration and climate change have allowed the insects to invade not only the USA but Spain, Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, and England, where the disease has been diagnosed readily in people and in dogs.

Domesticated pigs, cats, and wildlife such as opossums, armadillos, raccoons, skunks, woodrats and non-human primates are also affected, though to what degree is not fully known.  Chagas infection in dogs and people in endemic regions can range anywhere from 5% to 92%. It is considered somewhat rare in the United States – unless you fall in that 92nd percentile.

What Are Kissing Bugs?

Kissing bugs are nocturnal insects that feed on blood, not plants.  They are also known as assassin bugs, cone-nose bugs, vinchuca, chinche and barbeiro and there are over 130 species of Triatomes in the Americas.  They have a flat, broad back that may have a ridge of orange or red stripes along the edge; adults are less than an inch long and are wingless. Triatomes look like some other bugs that are plant eaters, but their behavior is distinctively different.

Kissing bugs that invade a home hide during the day and come out at night, attracted by the carbon dioxide (CO2) exhaled by their targets, thus their painless bites frequently are on the face, near lips or eyes (kissing). Like bedbugs, they are found in mattresses and other areas in a home and hide in rocks, wood, debris or under concrete outside. Should you find unexplained sores on your face or other body parts or find blood on your pillow, contact a professional exterminator or your doctor for more information.

What is Chagas Disease?

Reports from Texas A&M in 2011 showed that about 50% of tested kissing bugs carried the T cruzi parasite.  Kissing bug nymphs and adults defecate while feeding and that is when T. cruzi is passed to the host. Scratching or rubbing the bite can transfer the parasite into the skin and from there the organism enters tissues, muscles, and cells and begins reproducing.  The invaded cells eventually rupture, allowing entrance to the bloodstream where the disease sets sail for other organs, especially the heart and brain. This is known as the acute stage, a time when there may be a local reaction known Romaña’s sign, localized irritation or no symptoms at all.

According to the CDC, the acute phase can last for weeks or months. It is possible to find the parasite in various blood tests during this time, a diagnosis that is very difficult in later stages. Other means of infection include entry by mucous membrane, crossing the placenta in a pregnant mammal, passage via mother’s milk, ingestion of an infected animal or ingestion of the bug itself.

Following the acute phase, most infected people enter a latent stage during which few or no parasites are found in the blood. Most people are asymptomatic at this time, and thus are unaware of any problems for months or years.  Of these people, 20 to 30%, including immuno-suppressed individuals, will eventually develop a chronic phase of Chagas that can cause severe medical problems. Complications may include heart rhythm issues resulting in sudden death, heart dilation that interferes with adequate pumping, megaesophagus or dilated colon causing gastrointestinal issues.

How Can Chagas Affect My Dog?

Incubation requires 5 to 42 days with sporting dogs or dogs in rural areas most at risk.  During the acute phase, animals younger than six months primarily develop myocarditis and cardiac arrhythmias that can result in collapse and sudden death.  Other symptoms may include fever, anorexia, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, diarrhea, pale gums, cough, enlarged liver or spleen, depression, anemia, bloat. Learn more about Chagas Disease in Dogs.

The latent phase of the disease may cause no symptoms at all and typically lasts around 8 months.  When the disease enters the chronic phase, the heart is the most common organ affected, resulting in heart failure or sudden death.  Supportive treatment of symptoms is usually indicated. Nifurtimox or Benznidazole are antiparasitic drugs used in people but they may cause serious side effects and are not always readily available for animal use. Learn more answers to the Top 5 Pet Owner Questions About The Kissing Bug.

How to Prevent Chagas Disease in Your Dog

There is currently no vaccine available against canine Chagas disease.

Meet the Vizsla

The Vizsla is a highly energetic Hungarian dog that excels at hunting, agility and search and rescue work. They are sometimes called the Hungarian Vizsla or the Hungarian Pointer.

This medium size hunting dog originated from Central Europe. The Vizsla was developed in Hungary as a hunting dog that was capable of both pointing and retrieving. Once upon a time the Vizsla hunted in partnership with falcons. The Vizsla would point and flush out the bird and then the falcon would dive and bring it to earth.

During World War I, the Vizsla served as a messenger dog. The effects of World War I and World War II nearly brought an end to this breed, but it managed to survive. In the 1950’s, Americans began taking an interest in the breed and it was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1960.

In the present day, the Vizsla is much more than a hunting dog and a companion. Vizslas can work as guide dogs, drug detection dogs, and search and rescue dogs. Some were even working at Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Overview of the Vizsla

The Vizsla is lightly built but muscular. Their golden rust color distinguishes the Vizsla from other breeds. Stealthy and elegant, the Vizsla is quick and can run at very high speeds.

The Vizsla is big but not too big. It stands about 21 to 24 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 50 to 65 pounds. The male is larger than the female. The average lifespan for the Vizsla is 10 to 14 years.

A hunting dog by nature, the Vizsla is always on the lookout for interesting scents.

If you are looking for a dog that you can spend a lot of time with and if you can give him plenty of opportunity to run, hike and play every day, then the Vizsla is the dog for you. The Vizsla is a very active people-oriented dog who requires a lot of daily exercise. Without it, the Vizsla will become bored and destructive. This is a dog who does not want to be separated from his family, so it is not a breed that can live outside in the yard.

The Vizsla is great with children and other dogs, however this breed is untrustworthy around pet cats and other small pets.

The Vizsla is intelligent and loves a good puzzle toy. He thrives on gentle consistent training from an early age. Training should begin the day you bring you Vizsla home. They are natural born chewers, so keep your Vizsla entertained with plenty of fun chew toys.

This hunting dog is capable of pointing and retrieving before they are a year old. This versatile hunter can point and also retrieve on land or from the water.

Personality of the Vizsla

The Vizsla loves spending time outdoors. This breed loves hunting birds and has an innate instinct to target them.

The Vizsla is a highly energetic dog who makes a great companion for hikers, runners or active owners who spend a lot of time outdoors. The Vizsla can become frustrated and destructive if not given adequate daily exercise – at least an hour per day. They require a lot of strenuous exercise every day like running, jogging, playing fetch or dog sports. They need to run, swim or have the run of a large enclosed area. They do best in homes with fenced yards where they can run and play.

This is a gentle, affectionate and sensitive breed. He is fearless and more protective of his family than the average Sporting dog, which makes the Vizsla a very good watchdog. The Vizsla can be very stubborn. Sometimes the Vizsla is timid and others can be overly excitable, depending on the dog. Most often, they are full of energy, warm, sensitive and gentle.

Because of its hard working nature, the Vizsla is happiest when it  has a job to do. That job can be a hunting companion or a therapy dog. Vizslas also love to accompany their humans while jogging and hiking.

The Vizsla is a lively, loving, gentle friend who will more than return the love you give him. They thrive on human companionship and will follow family members from room to room. They love to be touched and petted by their humans. They are very affectionate with children and make great companions for older, energetic kids. (The Vizsla is not recommended for homes with very young children.)

Meet the English Pointer

The English Pointer, also known as the Pointer, is a friendly and intelligent dog in the Sporting Group that excels at hunting. They have a strong athletic build and high energy levels. This is a graceful dog with an elegant carriage. The English Pointer is very even tempered. They get along well with children and are not aggressive toward people or other dogs.

Overview of the English Pointer

This breed stands about 23 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 44 and 75 pounds. The males tend to be larger than the females. The average lifespan for an English Pointer is 12 to 15 years. These dogs come in a variety of colors including liver, white, lemon, orange and black. Most English Pointers are bi-colored, but there are also solid colored English Pointers. Some English Pointers are tri-color. These dogs are considered to be average shedders.

The exact history of the English Pointer is unknown with records of the breed dating back to the 17th century when the breed was used to point to hare. In the 18th century when wing-shooting became popular, the English Pointer was used as a bird locator. The English Pointer would find game, indicate its location and remain still while the hunter got ready to take a shot.

It is thought that the English Pointer breed was developed from four breeds with strong hunting characteristics – the Greyhound, the Foxhound, the Bull Terrier and the Bloodhound.

The English Pointer is also known as a “gun dog” because of the characteristic pose they strike when they catch the scent of game. They stand motionless with their head lowered and their nose pointed toward the game. The tail is held horizontally in line with the head and back and one leg is raised and bent at the wrist.

Personality of the English Pointer

Because the English Pointer was bred for hunting, it is a rowdy, high energy dog that needs a lot of daily exercise. The English Pointer is happiest when he is running. They need at least an hour of exertion every day. The English Pointer enjoys hiking and running. Without vigorous daily exercise, the English Pointer will become unhappy, frustrated and destructive in the home, or he may develop other behavioral problems like barking. The English Pointer needs plenty of space to exercise outdoors and is not suited for apartment or city living.

All English Pointers have strong hunting instincts.

This active, friendly breed is very affectionate with its family members. They love to spend time with their humans and enjoy playing with children when they are raised together from a young age. While they are gentle and sweet, the English Pointer can also be energetic and rambunctious, so they should be supervised around small children. In general, the English Pointer gets along well with other dogs and household pets when they are raised together, but birds can be a problem.

The English Pointer is considered to be more independent than many other dog breeds. Some are strong willed and stubborn, but others make great family pets that are patient with children and good with other pets in the home.

The English Pointer likes to greet everyone they meet. The breed is welcoming to strangers. They are not considered to be watchdogs, but they will bark and warn you if strangers approach.

The English Pointer is strong willed, so it is important that you start training from an early age. The breed is very intelligent, so they pick up on training quickly.

What people love about the English Pointer

The English Pointer is a friendly dog and a loving member of the family. This breed loves sitting with you on the sofa and playing with the children. The English Pointer is very friendly and affectionate with its family members.

If you are a runner, hiker or bicyclist, you will find that your English Pointer is a wonderful exercise companion.

The English Pointer is very easy to care for. This breed has a short, smooth coat that does not require a lot of grooming. Just give your English Pointer a weekly brushing and you’re good to go. Pointers only need to be bathed three or four times a year unless they have a tendency to roll in the dirt.

To learn more about the pointer breeds, go to All About the Different Types of Pointer Breeds.

Meet the German Shorthaired Pointer

The German Shorthaired Pointer can do almost any job. They are great hunters. The Air Force has used this breed to detect bombs. They are avid game hunters and water retrievers. They also excel at dog sports.

Originally from Germany, the low-maintenance breed is moderately easy to train.

A versatile hunting dog, the German Shorthaired Pointer can point birds and also hunt rabbits and raccoons. It can trail deer and retrieve on land or from water. The German Shorthaired Pointer is a great hunting dog – but for an active family he is also a great family pet. Affectionate and friendly, this breed is very energetic and highly intelligent. Alert and protective, the German Shorthaired Pointer is also an excellent watchdog.

Overview of the German Shorthaired Pointer

A male German Shorthaired Pointer will stand 23 to 25 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 55 and 70 pounds. Females are smaller. They stand about 21 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 45 to 60 pounds. Their average lifespan is between 12 and 14 years. Their coat is solid liver (a reddish brown color), or liver and white in distinctive patterns.

This breed will hunt many different types of game, and will retrieve on land or from water. The German Shorthaired Pointer is also an affectionate companion that needs plenty of vigorous exercise.

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a very versatile dog that demands much of your energy and attention. If you do not have at least an hour or two to devote to exercise or walking on a daily basis, the German Shorthaired Pointer is not a good choice for you. These dogs require daily activity that gets their hearts pumping.

A German Shorthaired Pointer is not a good choice if you live in an apartment.

If you love the great outdoors and you enjoy having your dog with you, a German Shorthaired Pointer is an excellent companion for a long hike or run. Or, teach him how to run alongside you when you go for a bicycle ride.

This breed is people oriented. He loves spending time with his family and is very loyal and protective.

The German Shorthaired Pointer does not do well when left alone for long periods of time. If your German Shorthaired Pointer does not get enough exercise and attention, it is likely that both you and he will be very unhappy. A bored German Shorthaired Pointer who does not get sufficient exercise will get into destructive behaviors like digging up the yard, climbing fences to escape, barking and chasing small animals and pets.

This energetic and intelligent breed is enthusiastic at work and play. They love to run and hike. They also love to swim and they’re built for it with webbed feet and a water-resistant coat.

Personality of the German Shorthaired Pointer

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a very active dog, but once all of his exercise needs have been taken care of, he is a calm house dog that loves to be a member of the family. He has excellent manners, and he is loyal and fearless. The German Shorthaired Pointer bonds firmly to his family. He enjoys playing with children and will happily play all day. He also enjoys some good couch time with you and is a very loving companion.

The German Shorthaired Pointer likes to be with people and is great with children (although he can be a bit rambunctious with smaller children). He doesn’t like being left home alone for long periods of time. If he is not given regular exercise and companionship, he can become nervous and destructive.

Highly intelligent, the German Shorthaired Pointer learns quickly at an early age. Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. If you wait until he is six months old to begin training you will be dealing with a much more headstrong dog.

Your German Shorthaired Pointer is very protective of his family. He will bark to warn you of strangers on your property, but he is usually not aggressive towards humans and other dogs. He will, however, chase after cats, birds and other small animals.

The German Shorthaired Pointer can have a mind of his own. Because he is big, muscular, strong and enthusiastic, he needs to be trained to behave around children and other household pets.

This breed is always up for physical activities like running or swimming.

What people love about the German Shorthaired Pointer

There are so many things to love about the German Shorthaired Pointer. This is a loyal, loving dog who loves being part of a family. He will be content to sit with you on the couch and spend some quality time with you. The German Shorthaired Pointer also loves children and he enjoys playing with them for as long as they want to play. He is enthusiastic, playful and smart.

All About the Different Types of Pointer Breeds

The pointer breeds are hard-working dogs that are thought to have originated in Spain, Portugal, Great Britain and Eastern Europe. The first pointers may have appeared in England in the mid-17th century. This hunting breed is driven to follow scents in the wind and to indicate their prey’s position by pointing to it with their bodies. The pointer breeds are medium-sized dogs with an average weight of 45 to 75 pounds. They stand 23 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder and have an average lifespan of about 12 to 17 years. The coat comes in several colors, either solid or in patterns.

Born hunters, pointers will stand still with one foot raised off the ground to point the hunter in the right direction of the prey. Their hunting instincts may be sparked by birds, rabbits and cats, but pointers can usually get along with indoor cats when they are raised with them. Even if you are not out hunting, it’s in their nature, so pointer breeds will constantly stop to point to birds. Their hunting instincts develop early on, and they will retain what they learn throughout their lifetime.

Pointer breeds are great hunters, but at home these fun-loving dogs love to spend some quality time with you on the sofa or to play all day long with the children. They love people and when given the opportunity, pointer breeds can become great friends. They also love outside activities. The pointer breeds are very protective in nature and will alert you to the presence of strangers, making them excellent watchdogs. The pointer breeds are good natured dogs that are not generally aggressive.

Pointer breeds have many great attributes as a companion. They are loyal, hard-working and even-tempered. They also run hard and fast, making them good companions for a runner or cyclist. These dogs are also naturals at dog sports.

These pointer breeds have short, smooth coats that are very easy to care for and their fine coats shed very little. Just give your pointer a weekly brushing and you’re good to go.

The pointer is a very versatile breed and an exceptional family dog. Pointer breeds are energetic and fun-loving, and they are very well suited to active homes where they will be a member of the family. They are loyal and true friends.

Pointer breeds are strong and energetic with a mind of their own. They may be a little too much dog for an older person or a first-time dog owner, since they need consistent training and an hour or two or daily play, walks or exercise. When they don’t get enough exercise pointers can be very destructive with chewing, digging and other unwanted activities. This is especially true when they are young.

Meet the German Shorthaired Pointer

Originally from Germany, this low-maintenance breed is moderately easy to train. Their coat is solid liver (a reddish brown color), or liver and white in distinctive patterns.

A versatile hunting dog, the German Shorthaired Pointer can point birds and also hunt rabbits and raccoons. It can trail deer and retrieve on land or from water. The German Shorthaired Pointer is a great hunting dog – but for an active family he is also a great family pet. This breed is very energetic and highly intelligent. Alert and protective, the German Shorthaired Pointer is also an excellent watchdog.

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a very versatile dog that demands much of your energy and attention. If you do not have at least an hour or two to devote to exercise or walking on a daily basis, the German Shorthaired Pointer is not a good choice for you. These dogs require daily activity that gets their hearts pumping.

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a very active dog, but once all of his exercise needs have been taken care of, he is a calm house dog that loves to be a member of the family. He has excellent manners, and he is loyal and fearless. The German Shorthaired Pointer bonds firmly to his family. He enjoys playing with children and will happily play all day. He also enjoys some good couch time with you and is a very loving companion.

To learn more about the German Shorthaired Pointer, go to Meet the German Shorthaired Pointer.

Meet the English Pointer

The English Pointer, also known as the Pointer, is a friendly and intelligent dog in the Sporting Group that excels at hunting. It has a strong athletic build and high energy levels. This is a graceful dog with an elegant carriage. The English Pointer is very even tempered. They get along well with children and are not aggressive toward people or other dogs.

What You Need to Know About the Recent Raw Dog Food Warnings

A number of reports, recalls, and warnings have been issued over the course of 2019 regarding feeding pets raw food. Recently, a couple of raw dog food warnings have been issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) targeting specific companies and their raw food products warning consumers of the presence of harmful bacteria.

The reason for the warning as test results revealing the presence of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes — two extremely harmful forms of bacteria that can cause sickness and even death in both animals and humans. A number of products from each company were tested with the samples used resulting in the presence of these bacteria.

While some companies and their customers have pushed back on the FDA’s findings (and in some cases, even refusing to issue a recall for the product in question), it brings some important considerations to light. First is the reason why people feed dogs raw food in the first place.

Why Do People Feed Dogs Raw Dog Food?

The general thinking behind raw dog food is that it’s more closely aligned with what our pets historically ate prior to domestication and the mass production of pet food. Advocates for raw food argue that it is easier for our pets to break down during digestion because animals hundreds of years ago did not consume cooked and processed foods.

The contents of commercially produced food have also been called into question, particularly as certain additives and ingredients may be toxic for the sake of adding flavor and preserving the food. Other advocates for raw dog food cite the fact that common pet foods today include a number of unwanted elements, such as fillers, chicken byproducts, rancid oils and fats, and more that aren’t considered suitable for human food products.

Additionally, raw dog food advocates argue that regular pet food simply doesn’t contain enough nutrients that a dog would need. While there are significant arguments on both sides (those for raw dog food and those who believe it’s just fine), there are some straightforward facts that should be addressed.

The Raw Dog Food Warnings Were Issued for a Reason

Whether you agree with the methodology behind the recent raw dog food warnings, it’s important to understand that certain forms of bacteria — and not just any bacteria, but truly harmful bacteria — were found in certain lots of tested raw dog food products. Their existence in a few lots means those same bacteria could exist in other lots, too. The FDA urged consumers to reconsider their purchases and warned those that had already purchased the products in question to dispose of them and sanitize any surfaces with which they had come into contact.

When feeding your dog raw food products, it’s important to understand that because it’s raw, there is no way to truly guarantee that it won’t get your pet sick. The same goes for processed dog foods. But as the recent raw dog food warnings indicate, it’s something that dog owners must consider carefully. Some people believe that raw dog food — despite the increased risk for the presence of potentially harmful bacteria — is acceptable because dogs, cats, and other animals have thrived for thousands of years hunting and eating their prey raw and that their bodies are more aptly suited to those diets.

On the other hand, those against raw dog food argue that today’s commercially produced foods are actually better for dogs because they contain a more complete balance of nutrition. And while a dog owner feeding a dog raw food would have to wing it to find the right balance over time, commercially produced food is ready to go and can provide your dog with a balanced amount of nutrition.

Pet Food Protects More Than Pets

One thing worth noting is that the way dog food is produced is intended to protect dog owners just as much as the dogs themselves. In the recent raw dog food warnings, lots of product were tested for the presence of harmful bacteria. Remember that as a pet owner, you’ll handle this food yourself as you prepare it for your pet. Depending on the product, this could happen multiple times per day.

Whether that’s dry, off-the-shelf food or wet, refrigerated food, your hands will eventually come into contact with it. Certain forms of bacteria thrive in different types of food. Some forms of bacteria can even grow in environments devoid of oxygen (such as the inside of a can). This is why you may occasionally see a canned food product bulging from the side or on top. Do not purchase these products.

Keep the Allergies Out With These Spring Dog Cleaning Tips

Spring is here, and the inevitable cleaning is well underway in many households nationwide. Part of that is spring dog cleaning — a chance for you to give your furry friend a refreshing makeover as well as an opportunity to clear out a winter’s worth of dander, shed fur, and other unwanted things your pet may have dragged in or dropped off in your home over the colder months.

Here are a few tips to get your home and pup ready for the warmer season ahead.

Help Your Dog Out with Keeping Her Coat Clean

First on our list of spring dog cleaning tips is a good, old-fashioned brushing. And we don’t mean the normal 1-2 minute brushing you might give her just to keep her coat neat and tidy. We mean a real brushing. Consider a product that will remove excess hair from her undercoat. This will help prevent shedding and also keep your dog cooler. Remember that certain dog breeds will need to be brushed more frequently than others. Learn more about properly grooming your dog.

Remember to bathe your dog frequently as well. A spring dog bath will not only help keep your dog’s coat clean and fresh but will also help to clean the skin further down. This is important, as the winter months can be hard on pets’ skin just as it can on humans. Be sure to use a shampoo that won’t dry your dog’s skin out with each bathing — dry skin will result in more dander and more issues with allergies. Learn more about keeping your dog’s coat clean during the spring months.

Medications Can Help with an Allergen-Inducing Spring Dog

Whether you already have a dog or have been considering adding one to your family, it’s important to take proper precautions for anyone with an existing allergy to dogs. Certain medications and immunotherapy can help members of your household will help alleviate any allergy symptoms you or your family members may have.

Clean Your Home — and Its Air — Thoroughly

As the weather begins to warm up, your pet will start to shed. Even if you have a breed that doesn’t typically shed much, some shedding is expected, so it’s important to keep your living space as clean as possible. In addition to your normal routine cleaning, deep cleaning under couches and chairs, appliances, rugs, and tables should be performed to clear any hair or dander that may have accumulated there over the colder months. Also remember to clean your dog’s bedding as this can be a significant source of hair accumulation.

Hair removal throughout your home is important, but just as important is ensuring the air inside your home is clean, too. Don’t rely on your furnace filter to catch everything, even if you have a higher-end allergen-catching filter. Consider an air purifier to help catch dander, hair, and other pet-related allergens and cycle the air more rapidly. And remember that if you open the windows for fresh air, you’re also letting more allergens inside — so an air purifier will be very helpful in catching pet allergens and natural allergens from outside.

A Clean Spring Dog is a Happy Spring Dog

With warmer weather comes more opportunities for outdoor fun and adventure — as well as mud, water, and other grime. As you start to take your dog outdoors for walks and other fun, remember to keep her clean when you return home. Not only will this help keep your home fresh this spring, but it will also keep your pet feeling fresh as well.

While you won’t need to give your dog a full bath after just one walk around the neighborhood, if it’s sprinkling or if your dog gets into some muddy mischief, consider rinsing her off. The last thing you need is a dirty home and a dirty spring dog scratching herself all over your rugs and furniture.

Remember that spring is also a time when ticks and fleas start to show up, so frequent bathing and protective medications or applications are important to keep her free from disease, insect bites, and irritating itching. Bathe her frequently to remove any unwanted guests, keep up on your treatments and medications, and brush her frequently.

Learn More About Allergies and Dogs

Are You Ready? Here Are the Most Popular Dogs of 2018

Hot off the presses, it’s the PetPlace list of the most popular dogs of 2018! Just as with other trends, certain dog breeds also ebb and flow in popularity. However, specific dog breeds seem to always hold the top 10 spots, at least according to the American Kennel Club — and once you read about them, you’ll learn it’s for a good reason.

Many of the breeds on this year’s list of the most popular dogs of 2018 have held their respective positions for a long time. Whether it’s because they’re more relaxed and comfortable around families or if it’s due to a lengthy history in helping out their human masters with hunting, tracking, or performing other tasks, these breeds have earned their positions over the decades and centuries and are continually recognized as the most popular dog breeds out there.

If you’ve been thinking about adding a furry friend to your family, here’s a top 10 list of the most popular dogs of 2018.

#1: The Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed of 2018 — and has held this spot in the ranks for nearly 30 years! Clearly, this breed has become an American favorite. This breed has a long and storied history and was even great for hunting. Nowadays, you’re much more likely to find them snuggling family members and walking around the neighborhood. Learn more about Labrador Retrievers here.

#2: The German Shepherd

The German Shepherd, also known as an Alsatian, has for many years been one of the most popular dog breeds. Ranking high on the list of the most popular dogs for 2018, the German Shepherd is a remarkable guide and herding dog. Used by law enforcement for scent detection and finding people stuck in debris after a disaster, German Shepherds also make loyal companions and are easily trained. Learn more about German Shepherds here.

#3: The Golden Retriever

Similar to the Labrador Retriever, our third breed on the list of the most popular dogs for 2018 is the Golden Retriever — also renowned for its ability to serve as a guide, hunting companion, and of course, a loving member of any family. Golden Retrievers are loyal, friendly, and extremely loving. The breed is extremely healthy with only a few commonly reported medical conditions. Learn more about Golden Retrievers here.

#4: The French Bulldog

Descended from a long line of bulldog breeds, the French Bulldog will make a wonderful family companion if you’ve been looking to add a furry friend to your household. As a non-sporting dog, French Bulldogs don’t require a significant amount of exercise and will generally prefer to stay close to you and snuggle. As with other short-nosed breeds, the French Bulldog may develop breathing problems. Learn more about this breed here.

#5: The Bulldog

Next up on our list of the most popular dog breeds of 2018 is the Bulldog! If you love wrinkles and squishy faces, this breed is for you. Bulldogs love attention and will actively seek it out. Bulldogs may not get along with other dogs, so keep that in mind when considering this breed. Bulldogs also need human presence, so if your job keeps you away, consider if this breed is right for you. As with other short-nosed dog breeds, Bulldogs are susceptible to potential breathing problems. Learn more about Bulldogs here.

#6: The Beagle

Developed in the British Isles and often used for rabbit hunting, the Beagle has a long history and close relation to hounds. They love to hunt but are trainable, loving, and easygoing — making them a great addition to a household with children. They are also fairly low maintenance, requiring little grooming. However, because of their nature, Beagles love to dig. They must be properly trained to prevent this. As with other breeds, Beagles are susceptible to some commonly occurring medical conditions. Learn more about Beagles here.

#7: The Poodle

There’s a good reason why Poodles make the list of the most popular dogs for 2018 — they have a centuries-long history of being favored as a symbol of luxury and wealth. While they do have some roots in hunting and other tasks, Poodles nowadays make great companions for virtually any household. They are affectionate and intelligent but require daily grooming. It also worth noting that different varieties of poodles may acquire or be born with certain conditions. Learn more about the different varieties of poodles here.

#8: The Rottweiler

The Rottweiler is a breed with roots reaching as far back as ancient Rome. Due to their strength, size, and loyalty, Rottweilers have always made great guard dogs for police and homes alike. It’s important to note that training for a Rottweiler is critical — properly trained, a Rottweiler will be a loving lifetime companion. The breed is often maligned for its aggression, but this is due to improper training. The breed is healthy overall with some commonly occurring conditions that potential owners should know about. Learn more about Rottweilers here.

#9: German Shorthaired Pointer

Another dog with a history in hunting and retrieving, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a favorite amongst those with an active or athletic lifestyle. Because the German Shorthaired Pointer requires activity and exercise, the breed would do best in a home with space and even a fenced backyard. The breed is a great choice for those who jog or do other outdoor activities and is fiercely loyal and committed to its owner. It is a very healthy breed with few commonly occurring medical concerns. Learn more about the German Shorthaired Pointer here.

#10: The Yorkshire Terrier

Despite its size, the Yorkshire Terrier is a surprisingly strong and resilient dog breed. Originally used to hunt rats, the breed quickly became a fashionable pet for the wealthy. Their long coats require more frequent grooming, but the Yorkshire Terrier is otherwise trainable and very friendly. They may not initially be tolerant of children but can be trained to be comfortable around them. While the breed is overall a healthy choice, it can suffer from some commonly reported medical conditions. Learn more about the Yorkshire Terrier here.

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