Category Archives: Health Information

First Aid Kit

If your dog is badly hurt in your home or while out and about with you, you should know how to administer first aid until you can reach a veterinarian. A first aid kit tailored to your dog’s needs can truly be a lifesaver. If you you’re your dog on frequent outings far from home, you would be wise to keep a second first aid kit handy in your car.

A first aid kit for a dog contains many of the same items it would for a human.
Roll of absorbent cotton and some cotton balls, gauze pads and tape
Pair of small scissors with rounded tips
Instant ice pack
Hydrogen peroxide
Bulb syringe for suctioning mucous from mouth or nose
Sterile eyewash solution made specifically for pets
Clean, white cotton sock (to cover wounded paws)
Small flashlight
Rectal thermometer
Injection syringe without the needle (to give liquid medication)
Unflavored electrolyte liquid (like Pedialyte).

Keep everything in a sturdy plastic container with a secure lid. Write your veterinarian’s name and phone number on the lid, as well as that of the closest emergency pet hospital. If you travel often and leave your dog with another person, put several copies of a signed release form in the first aid kit authorizing the caregiver to approve necessary treatment.

Ear Infections

The first thing you need to do is visit the veterinarian to discover whether the ear infection is caused by bacteria, mites or yeast. If it is a mild bacterial ear infection, an astringent cleaner may be all that is needed to change the PH balance of the ear canal, inhibiting bacterial growth.Dog ear infections How to clean dog's ears removing ear hair bacteria mites yeast astringent ear cleaner oral antibiotics yeast infection pulling removing ear hair Powder cleaner

Severe bacterial ear infections will need topical, and possible oral, antibiotics. A culture may be needed to determine which bacteria are causing the problem so the proper antibiotic can be given. Once the medication is prescribed, follow the directions exactly and continue for the full course of treatment. Never save up medication and never medicate a dog yourself, even if it is a repeat problem. Over use of antibiotics can cause bacteria to become immune and can cause a secondary yeast infection.

Ear mites are easily treated, but the application must be timed specifically to kill both the mites and the hatching larvae. Follow the label instructions.

If your dog has floppy ears with an abundance of coat, talk to your groomer about possibly shaving the inside of the ear flap to promote air circulation.

Ear Cleaning

Removing Ear Hair
How to Clean Ears

Abundant ear hair should be removed regularly in certain breeds such as Poodles, shihtzus and lhasas as well as a few others. In these breeds, the hair grows thick and long. It can actually mat inside the ear canal. The hair traps wax and dirt down inside the ear canal and retains moisture. The air cannot circulate, creating a moist, dark dirty environment for bacteria to grow. You will need to gently remove those hairs to open up the ear canal for cleaning.

If the hair is pulled regularly, it won’t cause trauma. If it has been left grow for too long, the first time may or may not be painful, depending on the dog and should be done in a few short sessions.

Most dogs that need this done are floppy earred. Flip the ear back over the head, exposing the canal. If you need to control the head, use your weak hand to grab the cheek area under the ear (don’t grasp the ear leather.

Use an EAR GROOMING POWDER that allows you to grasp the hair without slipping.

  1. Start by trimming the hair short below the ear toward the cheek up to and outside the ear canal. This hair will hurt badly if accidently pulled.
  2. Sprinkle the EAR GROOMING POWDER liberally into the ear and start slowly pulling the hair that is about an inch outside the ear canal toward the leather. This is the least sensitive and allows the dog to get used to the feeling.
  3. Work slowly into the canal, pulling small amounts out with your finger tips. If your fingers begin slipping, add more powder.
  4. Once you get as much out as you can with your fingers, grasp small strands that go deep into the ear with a straight hemostat or tweezers. Wind the hairs around the hemostat then gently pull out.
  5. The ear can then be cleaned with an ear cleaner to remove remaining powder.


The following is a list of CRITICAL EMERGENCIES
If your dog or cat has the following symptoms,
Call your Veterinarian IMMEDIATELY!

Bleeding that will not stop

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Choking
  • Gasping for air
  • A blue tongue

Injury or trauma from an accident including

  • bleeding
  • shock
  • broken bones
  • severe pain
  • dilated pupils

Signs of Shock

  • Weak and rapid heartbeat
  • Inability to walk/Staggering
  • Collapse
  • Irregular, rapid and shallow breathing
  • Trembling
  • Extreme thirst
  • Pinched and vacant expression
  • Glassy or dull eyes, with enlarged pupils and a staring gaze
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control

Intestinal Emergencies

  • Bloated or distended abdomen
  • Swollen or painful abdomen
  • Vomiting or diarrhea with blood
  • Violent episodes of vomiting or diarrhea
  • Straining to urinate or have a bowel movement but can not.
  • Painful urination
  • Blood in urine or stool

Hyperthermia (Heatstroke)

  • body temperature over 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • heavy panting
  • weak and lethargic

Seizures and Stroke

  • Convulsions
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Tremors,
  • Inability to walk, staggering
  • sudden blindness


  • bring the substance or ingredients list with you if you have it.

A sudden, drastic changes in behavior

  • Unusual aggressiveness
  • Sudden withdrawal
  • Stay calm.
  • Try to keep your animal calm and quiet.
  • Attempt to keep it from injuring itself further or others.
  • Be careful – Animals in pain can bite.
  • Do not attempt home remedies or to treat the animal your self.
  • Phone your veterinarian or other veterinary emergency service.
  • Relay ALL important information to the veterinary staff
  • WRITE DOWN all directions given you by the veterinary staff
  • Transport the animal as directed


A good diet and plenty of exercise are important to a dog’s health, but they can’t make a dog totally immune to illness. Early detection is the key to helping your dog overcome any health problem. If your pet’s stools become very loose, or you notice a marked decrease in your dog’s appetite and/or that she is very lethargic, she may just have a short-term “bug.” On the other hand, if any symptoms continue for more than a few days, you should have your veterinarian examine her for parasites and infections.

Diarrhea is a common symptom in dogs, especially puppies. It can be triggered by stress or a sudden change in food, but also by a virus, bacteria or parasites. Diarrhea causes dehydration, which can be deadly to dogs. It is extremely dangerous in puppies, because they dehydrate faster than mature dogs. If your dog has diarrhea for more than a day, contact your veterinarian for further instructions. You will probably be asked to collect a sample and bring it in so they can examine it to determine the cause and proper treatment.

Parasites – An Overveiw

Dogs serve as hosts to a number of parasites. You will probably be asked to bring a fecal sample to your dog’s yearly vet appointment, so that the staff can check for the presence of internal parasites. If you notice small, rice-like granules on your pet’s bedding or around her anus, she is suffering from an infestation of worms and needs to be seen by your vet to get proper treatment.Other parasites take up residence on the outside of your dog’s body. Mange and sarcoptic mites live on the hair follicles and skin of dogs, while ear mites live on the inside of the ear. These parasites are so small you might not see them, but they cause your dog extreme discomfort. Head shaking and pawing at ears are signs of ear mites. Frequent scratching and skin-biting can indicate either skin mites or a dog’s worst enemy-fleas.

Coughing and Sneezing

Coughing, sneezing, and discharge from your dog’s nose and/or eyes often indicate a respiratory infection. A lethargic dog with no appetite is likely fighting an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI).

URI, caused by airborne viruses and bacteria, is highly contagious among dogs, but is not transmitted between dogs and humans. Early detection of URI is important; ignored dogs suffer from severe dehydration and risk developing pneumonia.

Bortadella, also called ‘kennel cough” is another contagious respiratory disease commonly contracted in animal shelters, boarding kennels, or anywhere groups of dogs have close contact with one another. It is a short-term disease, and most dogs get over it with a few days of rest and tender loving care from you. It is possible to have your dog vaccinated against Bortadella-a good idea if you plan on boarding her or placing her in “doggie daycare.”


Vaccinations are also available to protect your dog against more deadly diseases such as rabies, distemper and parvovirus. Most municipalities require that all dogs are vaccinated against rabies; some include distemper and parvovirus as well. Making these vaccinations mandatory protects the health of all dogs, and, in the case of rabies, human health as well. If your dog was vaccinated as a puppy, she’s off to a good start. However, without yearly booster shots, your dog is at risk of great suffering from one of these diseases.

The following has been prepared as a service by the American Veterinary Medical Association
Q: What are vaccines?
A: Vaccines are health products that trigger protective immune responses in pets and prepare them to fight future infections from disease-causing agents. Vaccines can lessen the severity of future diseases and certain vaccines can prevent infection altogether. Today, a variety of vaccines are available for use by veterinarians.

Q: Is it important to vaccinate?
A: Yes! Pets should be vaccinated to protect them from many highly contagious and deadly diseases. Experts agree that widespread use of vaccines within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals. Even though some formerly common diseases have now become uncommon, vaccination is still highly recommended because these serious disease agents continue to be present in the environment.

Q: Which vaccines should pets receive?
A: When designing a vaccination program, veterinarians consider the pet’s lifestyle, related disease risks, and the characteristics of available vaccines. “Core vaccines” (e.g., rabies, feline panleukopenia, feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus infection, canine distemper, canine parvovirus infection, and canine hepatitis) are recommended for most pets. Additional “non-core vaccines” (e.g., feline leukemia, canine kennel cough and other vaccines) may be appropriate based on the pet’s particular needs.

Q: How often should pets be revaccinated?
A: This is a subject of ongoing research and healthy debate. No one truly knows how long protection from various vaccines lasts. Veterinarians have traditionally vaccinated annually; however, they are now learning that some vaccines induce immunity that lasts less than one year, whereas others may induce immunity that lasts well beyond one year. The AVMA recommends that veterinarians customize vaccination programs to the needs of their patients. More than one vaccination program may be effective.

Q: How does my pet’s lifestyle affect its vaccination program?
A: Some pets are homebodies and have minimal opportunity for exposure to infectious disease, whereas others have a great deal of exposure to other pets and/or wildlife by virtue of their activities. Still other pets live in geographic areas that place them at greater risk for contracting some infectious diseases. Differences in lifestyle illustrate the importance of customizing a vaccination program to individual patients.

Q: Doctors and schools follow set guidelines for vaccinating children. Why don’t similar guidelines exist for pets?
A: Pets require a customized approach to vaccination for several reasons: first, lifestyles and disease risks of pets vary; second, we have many more vaccines with individual performance characteristics; and, third, we don’t have a surveillance system to tell us how vaccines are performing in large populations of patients.

Q: Are there risks associated with vaccination?
A: Vaccines have protected millions of animals from illness and death caused by infectious diseases. All medical procedures, however, carry with them some risk. Fortunately, in the case of vaccination, serious adverse responses are very infrequent. Veterinarians minimize risk by carefully selecting vaccines on the basis of a pet’s individual needs and by choosing appropriate injection sites. In an effort to find ways to prevent even these limited numbers of adverse responses from occurring, the AVMA is working with government and industry to redefine how information regarding adverse responses is gathered, analyzed, and disseminated.
Q: Is serologic testing useful to evaluate immunity to some diseases?
A: Theoretically, tests that measure antibody response (i.e., serologic titers) may help veterinarians determine the need for revaccination in some cases. Unfortunately, veterinarians cannot be certain that a specific concentration of antibody is always protective or that a lower concentration leaves an animal unprotected.

Q: As a pet owner, I’m confused. I want to do the right thing for my pet and I count on my veterinarian to have answers readily available to help me do that. Now what?
A: You should continue to trust your veterinarian’s professional judgment. Veterinarians are highly educated professionals who are trained to make good healthcare decisions. The veterinary profession has chosen to treat the uncertainty surrounding vaccination as an opportunity to do further research and examine related professional practices so that we may continue to offer vaccination and other preventive healthcare programs that best protect our client’s beloved pets.

Diet and Nutrition

When humans first domesticated dogs, we fed them scraps from our meals. Those early dogs did just fine on that diet. As our affection for dogs has grown over the centuries, so has our understanding of what our canine companions need to eat to live long, healthy lives. Research conducted by veterinarians and pet food manufacturers over the last decade have revealed more specific details about what a dog’s diet should contain.

Your dog’s food must be appropriate for her size, age, state of health and activity level. As you stroll the isles of pet supply stores or grocery stores, you’ll find a variety of food brands in a wide range of prices. A good basic rule of thumb is to buy the highest quality food you can afford. If you buy the cheapest food because you have a big dog that eats a lot, you must understand that what you save in food will affect your pet’s health.

It is important that your dog always eats some dry food. The crunchy pieces help keep her teeth clean and her gums healthy, and provide necessary fiber. If you choose to give your dog moist food in addition to dry, use it sparingly; a small spoonful mixed with warm water makes a good gravy over dry kibble. Some devoted dog lovers feed their pets home-cooked food. Dog-specific recipes can be found on the Internet and in books, but understand that this is not just giving your dog leftovers from your own meals. Homemade dog food is designed to meet the nutritional and digestive needs of dogs. Spices, fats, and fillers in human food often makes dogs ill.

Adult dogs should be fed two meals each day. Puppies need to eat more often. They should be fed three to four meals daily until they are 12 weeks old, then three meals daily until they are six months old. Many dog trainers advise against leaving food available all day, to prevent dogs developing picky eating habits. They suggest you allow 20 minutes for each meal. After this time, whatever has not been eaten should be picked up. Dry food can be held until the next meal, but moist food should be thrown away. It is very important to make sure your dog has plenty of clean water available at a all times.

The amount you feed your dog depends on her age, weight and activity level. Check the back of food or with your veterinarian to get an idea of how much your dog should be eating. Monitor your dog’s weight by running your hands along the sides of her body. If she is at the right weight, you will be able to feel her ribs without pressing. If you can’t feel her ribs, she is gaining weight and you should either slightly decrease the amount of food or increase the amount of exercise she gets. If you can easily see your dog’s ribs, she is underweight (except in certain breeds.)

Stool Eating

Coprophagia – Dog Eating Feces

Does your dog eat his or another dog’s feces or stool? This behavior, although quite unacceptable and embarrassing to humans, is quite natural and acceptable to dogs. In nature, nursing mother dogs eat the feces of their puppies in order to keep the den clean. Also, eating feces utilizes undigested material and can be viewed as a food source to most canines.

Research has pointed to several reasons for this behavior including nutritional deficiencies, boredom and habit. No conclusive reason has ever been found and it is believed that this may just be a normal behavior found distasteful by a dog’s human companions.

Feces should be picked up immediately from the yard to remove the opportunity to consume it. Bored dogs who are inactive or alone for long periods can become coprophagic. Exercise and stimulation are called for in these cases. Some veterinarians have suggested that the behavior may be cause by a deficiency of B vitamins and vitamin K which can be found in feces. Meaty diets often times result in aromatic stools so dry kibble is recommended. All such dogs should be fed a consistent, balanced diet in two or three short meals a day.

Several remedies have been tried to help treat coprophagia and different methods work on different dogs. One easy remedy is to add plain yogurt to your pet’s food. Yogurt contains live cultures of acidophilus , a beneficial bacteria, for a healthy digestive system. Acidophilus may also help with gas, bloating, diarrhea, dry skin, dull coat and bad breath.

There is a real danger of your dog picking up disease and parasites from eating feces of other dogs and animals such as rabbits. Simple aversion therapy can be done by letting the dog approach the stool on a long lead. If he starts sniffing it, give a strong leash check. If he passes by, praise him.