The Power of Preventative Care

Benjamin Franklin’s axiom that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is as true today as it was when he made the statement, and it certainly holds true when it comes to pet health. The cost of prevention is usually a fraction of the cost of treating a problem or disease once it has become more advanced.

Heartbreaking statistics confirm that millions of animals in the United States live without homes, and the only way to reduce pet overpopulation is through spaying and neutering. Homeless pets abound in every community, and although the number may vary from state to state, records show that the majority of animals that are euthanized in shelters are the offspring of accidental litters. Often the owners of a dog with puppies had intended to get the mother spayed, but just hadn’t gotten around to it, felt they couldn’t afford it, or “wanted to have just one litter”. PREVENTION of the birth of unwanted litters is the ONLY way to reduce the number of neglected animals. Millions of pet deaths each year are a needless tragedy, and PREVENTION— by spaying and neutering your pet, and encouraging others to do the same, you can be an important part of the solution to this tragic problem. Help raise awareness as to the importance of altering pets!

Pet identification is a must as a preventive measure for the return, in case your dog is one of the millions that goes missing each year. Sometimes an ID tag and collar are not enough. Microchipping your pet is a means of permanent identification, and is an excellent way to increase your chances of being reunited with her in the event that you are separated.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than eighty percent of all dogs older than age 3 show signs of inadequate dental care: yellow and brown tarter build-up, inflamed gums, and bad breath. Periodontal disease starts as bacteria and plaque on teeth and progresses into a disease that can cause tooth decay, tooth loss, swollen gums, and even damage to the heart and other internal organs. Prevention is your dog’s best defense against dental problems, and since a dog cannot brush his own teeth, it is important to do it for him. If you’ve never brushed your dog’s teeth, you may need to have a professional cleaning, before starting a home regimen. Visit with your vet about proper procedure to use. Dental homecare for your dog means extra work, but the more you do, the healthier he will be….and the fewer professional cleanings he will need.

Core vaccinations can prevent diseases that are extremely common, and are often fatal or extremely difficult to treat effectively. Core vaccines include rabies, canine distemper, canine parvovirus, and canine adenovirus. Your veterinarian should make a risk assessment for non -core vaccinations such as leptospirosis, lyme disease, canine cough complex, and canine influenza , to determine what vaccinations should be added.

Taking precautionary measures diminishes the seriousness of disease or illness, and early diagnosis and treatment can slow common diseases in animals. Renal, periodontal, and osteoarthritis are just a few problems that preventative vet care can inhibit. Just because your dog looks healthy to you doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t see a vet regularly, and according to Veterinary News and Views, most veterinarians recommend a minimum of once a year physical exams which should cover vaccinations, parasites, breathing problems, nutrition, exercise, ears and eyes, coat and skin exam, and blood test which should include heartworm test.

Every aspect of your dog’s exam may prove revealing even if it seems unimportant at the time. Exams of the ears, eyes, and mouth are often very significant. Examination of his eyes may show infection, anemia, cataracts, high blood pressure, kidney problems, allergies, and sometimes even nutritional conditions. Regular ear cleaning will greatly lessen the likelihood of ear infections which are very painful. Complete exams will include vaccinations, fecal analysis, and heartworm testing. Key benefits of these exams include preventing disease, identifying potential problems and diseases in early stages, and provide the quality of life you wish to give your dog. Check ups allow your doctor to monitor your pet’s progressive health, and make recommendations regarding many different health related areas. It definitely takes far less effort and expense to prevent health problems than to cure them!


FDA Warning – Dog Treats from China

Warnings on chicken jerky treats imported from China were first issued in 2007, after more than 70 complaints were received involving almost l00 sick dogs, and by the end of the year that number grew to more than 150. A year later the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) issued an update that included chicken jerky products from China. Updates have been released on a regular basis and just last week another warning was issued, and according to the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) there are new reports of health problems linked to sweet potato treats that are also imported from China. There are also suspected problems with imported pork treats.

Symptoms may show up within hours or days after a treat is eaten and include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and increased thirst and urination. Please do not feed your dogs ANY treats made in China, and keep in mind that although the problem treats are usually identified as “jerky” treats, they also go by many other names, including strips, chips, twists, and others. One of the biggest frustrations for pet caregivers trying to avoid poisoning their dog is that many pet treat package labels claim the product was made in the U.S., when in reality one or more ingredients were imported from China. On close inspection of some chicken jerky treats labeled “Made in the USA, the small print shows that the chicken actually came from China.

Country of origin labeling laws require only that products be put together here to make the made-in-the-U.S. claim. As long as ingredients are cooked, mixed, or otherwise processed in this country, the food can be legally identified as being made here. Needless to say, this marketing ploy to instill confidence in consumers has had some absolutely tragic results. To protect your own dog, avoid feeding any pet food or treat made in China, and this goes for any treat you aren’t l00 percent sure originated ENTIRELY in this country.

We suggest that you don’t buy any commercial treats…. most of them are unhealthy. Instead make your own biscuits!

If you want to offer chicken jerky, make your own:

  1. Buy some boneless chicken breasts and slice them in long, thin strips—the thinner the better.
  2. Place the strips on a greased cookie sheet and bake them for at least three hours at 175 degrees.
  3. The low temperature dries the chicken slowly and the strips wind up nice and chewy.
  4. After the strips have cooled, store them in plastic bags or airtight container, or freeze them.

Consider making your own sweet potato treats at home also.

  1. Wash the sweet potatoes (or yams) thoroughly, and then slice them nice and thin.
  2. Arrange on greased baking sheet, and bake in a 300 degree oven for about 45 minutes.
  3. Let them cool, and store in airtight container.

Both of these homemade treats are easy to make but no matter what the treat, it should be fed occasionally, never as a substitute for a balanced, appropriate diet for your dog. Please play it safe. Buy only food and treats made entirely in the U.S. This won’t remove all risk of winding up with a tainted product, but it will certainly improve your chances of keeping your pet well!.

Your dog ate what????

Finding your dog with his nose in your trash, and garbage scattered all over the floor, is unpleasant to say the least. It is also potentially dangerous. Garbage can be a source of chemical harm (if the dog swallows toxic products), physical harm (if a sharp object cuts his intestinal tract or a foreign object gets lodged), or bacterial harm (from spoiled food).

Why do dogs eat garbage? Dogs are not known for being fussy eaters. Put something in their paths, and they will gobble it up, whether it is table scraps, garbage or a battery.

According to Brian Kilcommons, director of animal behavior at the Center for Animal Care in New York City, dogs are doing what comes natural for them. “ What may seem disgusting to us, is normal behavior for dogs who are scavengers. Garbage probably tastes better to them than most dry dog food. They love to investigate, and may choose to amuse themselves by checking out the trash.”

Garbage isn’t the only thing that attracts dogs. They often chew and swallow things they shouldn’t. Foreign objects such as toys, string, clothing and plastic can become lodged in the stomach and create an obstruction. Just about any household object that your pet chews on can become a problem, and although some small foreign bodies can pass through the gut without getting stuck, the larger pieces can result in serious gastrointestinal complications.

The best way to prevent gastric foreign bodies is to prevent access to objects that could be swallowed…sound easy? NOT! Dogs are naturally curious and some will chew just about anything.

According to Veterinary Pet Insurance, the nation’s largest provider of pet health insurance, the top items that have to be surgically removed are socks, underwear, bedding, rocks, balls, chew toys, corn cobs, bones, hair ties and ribbons, and sticks. Since your dog’s esophagus is larger than her intestine, she is able to eat objects that can lodge in the bowl and cause problems. Other hazards to watch out for include plastic toys, rawhide chews, panty hose, personal hygiene products, batteries, golf balls, shoelaces, string and thread, coins, and human medicines…some dogs will even chew up the medicine containers!

It is important that your dog has enough to do because boredom and frustration almost always lead to trouble. Provide toys such as the Buster Cube or Kong that can be filled with cheese or other tasty tidbits which will enable the dog to forage for food in an acceptable way. Alternate toys to keep up his level of interest, and be sure that he gets plenty of exercise. A tired dog will not be as apt to scavenge for hazardous objects that he can chew apart and swallow.

If your dog experiences a sudden loss of appetite, vomiting, excessive drooling, and abnormal bowel movements (wrong color, consistency, or bloody.) there may be an obstruction and it is important to get immediate care. In most cases traditional or laparoscopic surgery is required, but the prognosis is usually excellent and the vast majority of blockages can be cured with prompt treatment—but without it, many are fatal. The more you control your dog’s environment, the better the chances of stopping problems before they happen!

October is National Wellness Month

October has been tagged as a special month for many different causes, and one worth observing is National Pet Wellness Month which focuses on the importance of wellness examinations and disease prevention.

As pet caregivers, we are responsible for our pets’ health, and to ensure our dogs health, a few specific guidelines to help her stay happy and healthy are:

  • Spay or Neuter your pet – Consistent, high-quality veterinary care is the foundation for your dog’s overall health. . Responsible pet caregivers have spayed or neutered their dog. If your dog is intact, you are missing out on major health benefits, including a much lower incidence of uterine infections and breast cancer in females, and lower risks of testicular cancer among males. .
  • Visit the vet – Wellness exams should be performed twice a year, and dogs with special needs, chronic health conditions, or other illness should be seen even more frequently. Since dogs age at a faster rate than humans, many subtle changes can develop, and routine visits allow your vet to closely monitor changes before minor health problems spin out of control. Your vet will recommend what immunizations that your dog needs, and can also suggest any supplements that might provide additional nutrition to your dog. Developing a good connection with your vet will lead to long-term benefit for you and your dog.
  • Feed a high quality food – Wellness starts with what you put into your body, so take a close look at what you’re putting in your dog’s body. There are almost as many different dog foods as there are people cereals, and most of the highly marketed dog foods are NOT healthy. The FDA does not regulate the pet food industry which results in most commercial pet foods being made from less than high quality ingredients. Dogs have the genetic potential to live 20 years or more but we are robbing those years from their lives with inferior pet foods. Don’t naively believe the slick marketing claims of the food manufacturers. Realize that green nuggets are NOT green vegetables: they are nuggets that are dyed green. Same with other colored kibble. Examine your dog’s food label , remembering that the primary sources are listed first. Good kibble should not contain generic fats such as “animal fat” which can be anything from recycled grease from restaurants to a mystery mix of various fats. What do you think is in “animal digest,” or “animal by-products ,” for example? A healthy product with top quality ingredients shouldn’t need artificial preservatives, flavors or colors, or sugar or other sweeteners to entice them to eat! To quickly find out how different foods rate, please check

The Dangers of Letting Dogs Ride in Pickups

I see dogs riding in the bed of moving pickup trucks on a regular basis, and I am always uneasy. Sure, the dog looks like he is having fun… ears flopping and noses testing the wind, with the freedom to look around , seemingly enjoying the trip. This common practice is NOT safe.

When you transport your dog in the open bed of a pickup, you endanger your dog and other motorists. If you have to suddenly step on the brakes , or swerve to avoid an obstacle, your dog can easily be thrown out onto the road. Tethering the dog with a restraint is not the answer. Documented cases tell of dogs restrained by leashes or harnesses that have been strangled or dragged after being thrown from a truck bed.

The American Veterinary Medical Association conducted a survey of veterinarians in Massachusetts and learned that 71% of those surveyed, reported treating almost 600 dogs the previous year as a result of riding in a truck bed. The AVMA concluded that all 592 dogs could have avoided their injuries had their caregivers had not placed them in the bed of pickups.

Some of the hazards a pet may experience while riding in the open bed of a pickup are:

  • slipping around and hitting the sides or slamming into the cab of the truck
  • falling or jumping out of the bed
  • flying debris can hit the animal

Please secure your furbaby whenever you travel.