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scientists prove dogs are better than cats

For those cynics amongst you who dare to doubt my clinical objectivity, here are the results of an independent study published in New Scientist Magazine. Cat fanciers prepare to choke on your fur-balls…

THE world is divided into “dog people” and “cat people”, each passionately believing that their preferred pet is superior. Until a decade ago, there was very little scientific evidence either camp could muster to support its claims. Then animal behaviourists became interested in dogs and unleashed a pack of ingenious experiments testing canine capabilities and cognition. Recently, researchers have started doing similar work with cats. Could it be time for that showdown?There are obvious pitfalls in trying to use science to resolve this perennial dispute. Every pet-owner knows their furry family member is special – a unique being with its own talents and foibles. Yet scientific research tends to look at species as a whole and deals in averages and trends when attempting to quantify their characteristics. Then there is the thorny issue of comparing two very different animals. Some might argue that the whole venture is doomed to failure, but here at New Scientist we like a challenge. So we have pitted cats against dogs in 11 categories. It’s a winner-take-all competition with “best in show” being awarded to the pet that prevails in the most categories. Let the fur fly…


At 64 grams, the average dog brain is far bigger than its feline equivalent, which weighs in at a mere 25 grams. But then the average dog is much heavier than the average cat. If instead you measure brain mass as a percentage of body mass, cats win by a whisker.

Felophiles should not gloat yet. In general, smaller mammals have slightly larger brains relative to their body size than bigger ones. This means cats’ brains are exactly the mass you would expect for their size, whereas dogs have slightly more upstairs than you would predict.


Dog : Skin Problems

Your dog’s skin is an indication of her overall health. When a skin problem occurs, your dog may respond with excessive scratching, chewing and/or licking. A wide range of causes—including external parasites, infections, allergies, metabolic problems and stress, or a combination of these—may be affecting your dog’s skin.

What Are Some Symptoms of Skin Problems in Dogs?

  • Scratching, licking or chewing at skin
  • Scabs
  • Redness or inflammation
  • Hot spots (one particular area where itching is intense)
  • Round, scaly patches on the face and paws
  • Dry, flaky or otherwise irritated skin
  • Hair loss, bald patches
  • Rashes
  • Lesions
  • Drainage of blood or pus
  • Swellings, lumps or skin discoloration
  • Rubbing face against furniture or carpeting

What Might Cause My Dog to Have Skin Problems?

Liver Disease: Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

This topic is as big as the states of Alaska and Texas combined. I really cannot do it justice in a short essay, but I think it deserves some mention, if only to give the pet owner some understanding as to the difficulties involved when a veterinarian is faced with a case of possible liver failure.

If you asked ten people on the street what they knew about "liver", I would bet that the only consistent answer you would get is that it tastes really bad unless the cook really knows his stuff. The best description of the liver I can give you is that this organ is the main industrial centre of the body. The liver processes raw materials, manufactures the building blocks of the body, recycles the old to make new, and detoxifies the industrial waste of the body. In short the liver is involved in just about every biochemical process required to run e body. As a result of this relationship, liver disease can affect just about any other part of the body and thus the symptoms of liver disease are typically unpredictable and non- specific. Furthermore, because the liver acts as a "biochemical cross roads" for the body, it is affected by a wide range of diseases, including viral and bacterial infections, degenerative and neoplastic disease, and toxic insults. It is estimated that three per cent of all disease seen by veterinarians is liver based.

Types and Causes of Canine Liver Disease


Animals that receive a severe and blunt blow to the front of the abdomen can suffer from liver disease. The most common cause of this type of blow is being hit by a car. A liver lobe can be fractured and bleed into the abdomen, even leading to death. A more common occurrence is a bruise (contusion) that heals itself. Heatstroke, diaphragmatic hernia and liver lobe torsion can also cause liver problems.


The severe inflammatory process that occurs with digestive enzymes can spill over into the liver and cause severe disease. The close proximity of the pancreas to the liver and the bile ducts results in some degree of hepatitis whenever there is a case of pancreatic inflammation. Treat the pancreatitis and the liver disease will regress.


Hemolytic anemia can decrease the oxygen available to liver cells and lead to their death.

An inflamed liver is called hepatitis.

Trauma can cause this, along with drugs, viruses, bacteria, bile, and toxins

Infectious Hepatitis

Typically caused by either an adenovirus or a herpes virus. Transferred from dog to dog by oral contact and ingestion. Usually only causes a transient non specific illness characterized by lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and fever. Sometimes develops into a full blown case of severe hepatitis with many of the symptoms previously noted. Treatment is geared to support while the body fights off the bug. Prevention is by vaccination.

Bacteria, viruses, and fungi can all cause liver disease.

Since bacterial infection is common in many liver problems it is routine to use antibiotics when treating liver problems. Specific diseases include Infectious canine Hepatitis, canine Herpesvirus, Leptospirosis, abscesses, histoplasmosis, coccidiomycosis, and Toxoplasmosis.

Several bacterial causes of hepatitis are known. Treatment is based on a proper diagnoses and appropriate antibiotic use. There is good proof that the bacteria is a normal inhabitant of the liver and only becomes a problem when the liver is injured form other causes. There are notable exceptions.

*Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection common in wildlife and transferable to domestic animals and
people through contaminated water. Dangerous, possible fatal, but the vaccine is quite good for prevention.

Certain parasites will infect the liver.

Typically the likelihood of parasitic infestation depends on the area you live in. Diagnosis is often based on symptoms, fecal examination, and standard diagnostic techniques for liver disease. Treatment is the use of appropriate parasiticides.

Chronic Hepatitis

*Copper storage Diseases

Primarily found in Bedlington Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, and
West Highland White Terriers. These are all genetically inherited diseases
which result in abnormal and toxic levels of copper to be stored in
the liver. The course of the disease is variable, some presenting with
acute hepatitis, many presenting in end stage cirrhosis of the liver.
Diagnosis is based on liver biopsy. Treatment requires the use of copper
binding drugs, anti inflammatory to decrease liver inflammation, dietary
modification to limit copper uptake.

Chronic Active Hepatitis

In humans there is a chronic form of hepatitis characterized by chronic elevation of liver enzymes and biopsy samples showing scarring and active inflammation. The underlying cause for this entity falls into one of three categories: viral induced, toxin induced, and immune mediated. There is some question as to whether a similar syndrome exists in dogs.

There has been cases which did show chronic elevation of the liver enzymes over weeks to months), symptoms characteristic of liver disease ill defined malaise), and a response of anti inflammatory treatment to limit the ongoing inflammation and scarring of the liver. At this time recommendations
for treatment are that moderate or intermittent disease should only receive supportive therapy or basic nursing, while deteriorating chronic cases should receive steroid based anti inflammatory. If the case shows poor response, biopsies should be referred to a pathologist for evaluation in an attempt to find the underlying cause. In some cases it may be necessary to use strong immune suppressant drugs to stop the destruction of the liver.


Disease primarily of the blood supply to the liver. Diagnosed by very specialized radiograph techniques which measure and visualize the blood flow through the liver; Biopsy critical for diagnosing location
of lesion.


These worms can block blood flow into the liver and cause liver failure. Any disease that can cause failure of the right side of the heart can also cause liver problems.


Primary disease is caused by the ingestion, injection, or inhalation of a toxic substance which adversely affects the liver. Due to the central nature of the liver with regards to detoxification of chemicals, it is no surprise that many are harmful to the liver. Factors contributing to the disease are: Gender (females more susceptible), fatty diets more dangerous, continuous exposure, high levels of exposure to toxins. Exposure results in death and inflammation of the liver cells, followed by replacement of damaged tissue by fibrous scarring. This can be a self perpetuating cycle, resulting in cirrhosis of the liver.

Toxins include many common drugs, such as acetaminophen, ASA, anabolic steroids, chemotherapy drugs, some antibiotics, glucocorticoids, anaesthetics, parasite control drugs, and phenylbutazone.
Some of the drug induced hepatitis is a predictable side effect of the drug, while other incidences of hepatitis are considered an unpredicted or abnormal side effect of the drug. This is difficult to diagnose unless there is a known exposure to the drug or toxin and the appropriate tests are taken. Biopsy will confirm liver destruction, inflammation, and fibrosis, but it will not single out the causative agent.

Glucocorticoid Hepatopathy

Dogs seem abnormally sensitive to glucocorticoid drugs (“cortisone”) and will develop typical lesions in the liver after multiple dose therapy or long term over production of intrinsic cortisone by the adrenal gland (Cushing’s disease). Lesions are fairly typical and the rare animal which shows liver associated symptoms during glucocorticoid therapy will improve with the removal of the steroids. Liver associated lesions may take weeks to months to heal.

Anticonvulsant Associated Hepatopathy

Phenobarbital, primidone, phentoin, May cause liver disease in 6 to 15 % of all dogs on anti-convulsant therapy. Inflammation seems related to dose. Degree of disease is variable and unpredictable. Diagnoses based on history, symptoms, laboratory tests, and biopsy. Treatment is removal of offending agent.

There are literally thousands of chemicals that could be toxic to the liver. A few examples of these chemicals that are commonly used to treat ill animals include:

  • Rimadyl (arthritis treatment)
  • Thiacetarsamide (heartworm treatment)
  • Ketaconazole (fungal treatment)
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Glucocorticoids (cortisone)
  • Anthelmintics (worming medication)
  • Parasiticides
  • Phenobarbital (epilepsy medication)

Portal Vascular Abnormalities

Usually occurs when a portal-systemic shunt allows blood to pass from the digestive tract directly into the general circulation without being detoxified by the liver first. Usually a congenital defect restricted to young dogs and puppies, but can be the result of hepatic cirrhosis. Symptoms are never consistent, but many dogs are young, malnourished, chronically sick, poorly tolerant of toxins, drugs, and anesthetics, and tending to eat strange items (pica). Diagnosis is based on physical exam, history, laboratory tests, and specialized X-rays showing blood flow through the liver. Treatment is surgical correction of the circulatory abnormality to force the blood into the liver prior to it entering the general circulation.


Cancer can arise directly within the liver (primary) or spread from elsewhere (metastatic or secondary) through the circulatory or lymphatic systems. In the anatomy section we mentioned the dual blood supply to the liver; the portal vein and the hepatic artery. This extra blood supply increases the chance that a tumor in a different organ that has spread into the bloodstream will end up in the liver. As mentioned in the physiology section, liver cancer is usually detected only after the disease is well established, since functional reserve capacity allowed the liver to function normally for a prolonged period of time.

Some of these liver cancers include:

  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Hemangiosarcoma

  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Leiomyosarcoma
  • Mammary tumors
  • Oral carcinoma
  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Hemangiosarcoma

Metabolic diseases that cause secondary liver problems:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Hypoadrenocorticism
  • Protein-losing enteropathy


Cirrhosis of the liver can occur as the end result of several liverdiseases, which may be why it is hard to find information on this condition as a separate entity. Cirrhosis can occur in copper storage diseases of the liver, as the end result of idiopathic chronic hepatitis (also called chronic active hepatitis, chronic canine inflammatory hepatic disease and probably other names), as a breed related disorder (several terrier breeds, Dobermans, Labs, cockers and standard poodles), due to anti-seizure medications and possibly due to carprofen and oxibendazole (a dewormer). It is sometimes the end result of infectious illnesses, especially leptospirosis and infectious canine hepatitis (pretty rare now).

Of these conditions, the one that usually shows up without much warning is the idiopathic chronic hepatitis. This condition can sometimes go on for long periods of time with no really obvious clinical signs and affected patients may have markedly decreased liver size and function when the condition finally causes clinical signs. Even at this point it is often possible to help make patients feel better for some time, though. The usual recommendations are to use a low to moderate protein diet to try to decrease the liver’s work load, use metronidazole or neomycin orally if there are signs of central nervous system disturbance, to give lactulose for the same reason, to consider the use of cholchicine, ursodiol (Actigal Rx), SAMe (Denosyl SD-4 Rx), copper chelating agents if necessary and to provide general supportive care, such as gastrointestinal protects if GI ulceration occurs, fluid therapy if there is dehydration, Vitamin K if blood clotting problems occur, and possibly Vitamin E as an anti-oxidant. In liver disease, at least if copper toxicosis is possible, it is best to avoid Vitamin C supplementation as it can make the copper toxicity worse.

As the diseases mentioned above progress, they slowly destroy liver cells, resulting in scarring and an increase in fibrosis in the liver, or cirrhosis. Some patients live for extended periods of time even after it is clear that they have reached the stage that liver cirrhosis is occurring. It can be pretty hard to go back at the time that there is cirrhosis and to figure out why it occurred, so when the liver disease is discovered at this stage, it may not be possible to give you information on the underlying disease and thus the diagnosis of cirrhosis, rather than a more specific diagnosis.

New and Emerging Liver Diseases

Hepatocutaneous Syndrome

Also Known As: necrolytic migratory erythema, superficial necrolytic dermatitis, and metabolic epidermal necrosis

Transmission or Cause: Hepatocutaneous syndrome is a disease characterized by degeneration of the skin cells likely as a consequence of a nutritional imbalance, resulting from metabolic abnormalities caused by severe liver dysfunction or a pancreatic tumor.

Affected Animals: Hepatocutaneous syndrome is a disease that generally affects older dogs with no consistent breed predisposition. There have been very few reports of cats affected by hepatocutaneous syndrome.

Clinical Signs: Skin disease is the usual presenting complaint, although some dogs will exhibit systemic illness (lethargy, poor appetite, weight loss) prior to the skin eruptions. The skin lesions frequently occur in areas of trauma such as the muzzle, lower legs, and footpads. Lesions can also affect the mouth, ear flaps, elbows, and genitalia. Most lesions consist of crusting, erosions or ulcerations, but blisters may also occur. Footpads are often severely thickened and fissured and are often painful.

Diagnosis: Diagnosis is based on supporting history, physical examination, bloodwork abnormalities (such as elevated liver enzymes and low protein levels), and skin biopsy results. Abdominal ultrasonography frequently reveals a pathognomonic “honeycomb” pattern of the liver (due to liver degeneration) or less commonly a pancreatic tumor. In cats, the most common finding is a pancreatic tumor.

Treatment: If a pancreatic or liver tumor is identified and able to be surgically excised, the skin lesions may normalize for an extended period of time, but because these tumors metastasize (spread to other areas of the body) quickly, surgery is not curative. In cases of end stage liver disease, surgery is not possible, and the goal of therapy is to increase quality of life and decrease uncomfortable skin lesions with supportive care and addressing the nutritional abnormalities. Supportive care includes supplementing protein and necessary minerals and enzymes through the diet and oral supplements or by weekly intravenous amino acid infusions that are performed in the hospital on an outpatient basis until improvement in the skin is noted. Unfortunately, despite the supportive care, the disease will progress.

Prognosis: As this disease is a cutaneous marker for serious internal disease, the prognosis is poor with a survival time of less than a year in most cases.

Idiopathic Vacuolar Hepatopathy

This is a diagnosis frequently observed in older dogs. These cases appear typical of steroid hepatopathies based on histopathologic examination and abnormal serum ALP, but without clinical or laboratory evidence of hyperadrenocorticism. The liver of these dogs contains excess glycogen, and they have laboratory findings of predominately G-ALP isoenzymes. One is unable to make the diagnosis of hyperadrenocorticism based on lack of typical clinical signs and normal conventional adrenal testing (i.e., ACTH stimulation or low-dose dexamethasone suppression test). Several dogs recently discovered having vacuolar hepatopathy and increased serum ALP without overt hyperadrenocorticism have abnormal concentrations in some of the other adrenal steroids (i.e., sex hormones such as progesterone and 17alpha-hydroxy-progesterone). It has been documented that progestin steroids bind to hepatic glucocorticoid receptors and will induce a steroid hepatopathy when given orally to dogs. There is now speculation that increases in progestin steroid hormones may result in the hepatic changes and serum ALP increase. It appears that most, if not all, of these dogs live a prolonged life without adverse consequences from their liver disease. The reason for abnormal progestin levels may be secondary to adrenal adenomas, adrenal enzyme deficiency for converting precursors to cortisol or inapparent adrenal masses. Adrenal adenomas have been shown to secrete high levels of 17-hydroxyprogesterone in dogs.

Recently a disproportionate number of Scottish terriers have elevated serum ALP and hepatic vacuolar changes, suggesting a breed predisposition for this condition. They may have a genetic defect in ALP production.

Hepatic Nodular Hyperplasia

Nodular hyperplasia is a benign process causing an increase in serum hepatic values and histomorphologic changes that include macroscopic or microscopic hepatic nodules containing vacuolated hepatocytes. Liver function remains unchanged. Grossly, the appearance may be suggestive of chronic hepatitis or neoplasia. The cause is unknown but appears to be an aging change in dogs; most of those affected are older than 10 years of age. Laboratory findings include a serum ALP increase, but some may have mild increases in serum ALT and AST concentrations as well. Ultrasound study may be normal or may demonstrate larger nodules (many can be only microscopic and not observed on ultrasound study). Biopsy confirms the diagnosis; however, a wedge section is preferred, as a needle biopsy may not demonstrate the nodules. There is no specific therapy.

Gallbladder Mucocele

Gallbladder mucocele is seen in an enlarged gallbladder with immobile stellate or finely striated patterns within the gallbladder on ultrasound study. Changes often result in biliary obstruction or perforation. Smaller breeds and older dogs were over-represented, with Cocker Spaniels being most commonly affected. Most dogs are presented for nonspecific clinical sign,s such as vomiting, anorexia and lethargy. Abdominal pain, icterus and hyperthermia are common findings. Most have serum elevations of total bilirubin, ALP, GGT and variable ALT. Ultrasonographically, mucoceles are characterized by the appearance of stellate or finely striated bile patterns (wagon wheel or kiwi fruit appearance) and differ from biliary sludge by the absence of gravity-dependent bile movement. The gallbladder-wall thickness and wall appearance are variable and nonspecific. The cystic, hepatic or common bile duct may be of normal size or dilated, suggesting biliary obstruction. Gallbladder-wall discontinuity on ultrasound study indicates rupture, whereas neither of the bile patterns predicted the likelihood of gallbladder rupture. Mucosal hyperplasia is present in all gallbladders examined histologically, but infection is not present with all cases, suggesting biliary stasis and mucosal hyperplasia as the primary factors involved in mucocele formation. Cholecystectomy is the treatment for mucoceles.

Causes of Liver Disease in Dogs

The signs of liver disease in dogs are not always specific at first. Early symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea. Vomiting is the more common. Drinking excessive water and urinating frequently may be the first signs to manifest.

The dog's liver swells in the early stages of liver disease. Over time, cirrhosis sets in, causing the cells of the liver die while leaving scar tissue behind. The scar tissue causes the liver to become rubbery and firm. Although cirrhosis is not reversible, it is possible for a dog's liver heal itself to the point of normal liver function before the disease becomes terminal. Recovery depends on early detection and discovering the underlying cause of the liver disease.

Causes of Liver Disease in Dogs

Diseases, chemicals, drugs and toxins can cause liver disease in dogs. Infectious canine hepatitis, leptospirosis and heartworms directly affect the liver. Diseases such as Cushing's syndrome anddiabetes mellitus can lead to liver disease. Primary tumors and metastatic tumors are two main causes of liver failure in dogs.

Chemicals that cause liver damage include carbon tetrachloride, insecticides, phosphorus, selenium, arsenic, iron and toxic levels of lead. Medications given in excess or over a prolonged time period can cause liver disease. Drugs that may damage the liver are anesthetic gases, antibiotics, antifungals, dewormers, diuretics, analgesics anticonvulsants, testosterone preparations and corticosteroids.

Canine Lyme disease still raises debate on definitive diagnosis

Canine Borreliosis or Canine Lyme disease (CLD), is a vector borne disease caused by the spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. Four subgroups of the genus Borrelia have been identified with Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto being the most common isolate in the United States that consistently produces clinical disease in the dog. Two additional Borrelia species, Borrelia afzelii and a Borrelia species (Florida isolate) have been isolated from dogs with neurologic manifestations, uveitis, lymphadenopathy and joint disease. Surface proteins of the borrelia species are virulence factors that allow spirochetes to attach to mammalian cells. The first documented case in a dog was published in 1984 from an endemic area in Connecticut. Since that clinical description, the incidence of the reported disease in dogs has substantially increased.

Location as a primary factor Geographically, CLD is more prevalent in the three major endemic geographic regions in the United States associated with infections in man. In the year 2000, approximately 18,000 cases of human infections of Lyme disease were reported based on data from the Centers for Disease Control. Approximately 95 percent of human cases were from 12 states in the Northeastern-Mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest regions. The Western (Northern California-Oregon) is another region within the United States with a high incidence of cases in man. Studies on the seroprevalence of CLD appear to show a significant spatial pattern that is correlated with the incidence of Lyme disease in humans and with the abundance of tick vectors.

Lyme disease can afflict dogs as well as humans

A few weeks after a short stay at a dog kennel more than two years ago, Kathleen Drew’s 6-year-old golden retriever Cody stopped eating. The dog’s veterinarian suggested changing her diet and adding hamburgers into the mix to entice her.

As the dog started to lose weight, the vet suspected a urinary tract infection, treating that with an antibiotic. Vets at a local animal hospital who were consulted suggested problems with Cody’s kidneys. But tests and ultrasounds weren’t conclusive.

When Cody suddenly became very ill two months later, the family rushed the dog to the animal hospital, where vets hooked her up to IVs, ran more tests and injected her with antibiotics. None of it helped. The dog had developed severe kidney failure and soon died.

Only after an autopsy did the vets identify the culprit: Lyme disease, which can be particularly deadly to some dogs.

“The vets were as surprised as can be,” Drew said in a recent interview. “At the time, Lyme disease was just not something people thought about.”

Most recover, but some don’t

With its bull’s-eye rash, achy joints and flulike symptoms, Lyme is a concern for humans. Most dogs exposed to the disease show no signs of infection and recover on their own. But a small percentage run fevers, become lame, lose their appetite or, in rare instances, die. And some of America’s favorite breeds — golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers — seem to be particularly at risk.

“Lyme disease can b

An Overview of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Lyme disease has been recognized in Europe for nearly a century but was not described in humans in the United States until 1975. We have since learned that clinical disease also occurs in dogs and, to a lesser extent, in horses, cattle, and cats, while many wildlife mammals and birds become subclinically infected and serve as reservoirs for tick infection. During the 1980s the disease incidence in both dogs and humans increased dramatically; Lyme disease is now the most common arthropod-borne disease of humans in the United States, and one of the most common in dogs.

What causes Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a corkscrew-shaped bacterium of the spirochete group. Among the spirochetes, it is most closely related to B. hermsii, which causes tick-borne relapsing fever in the southwestern United States. Better known but more distantly related spirochetes cause such diseases as leptospirosis and syphilis.

How is the disease transmitted?

Deer ticks, hard-shelled ticks of the genus Ixodes, transmit B. burgdorferiby attaching to and feeding on various hosts. Other bloodsucking insects may be involved, but there is little evidence that they are importantvectors. The primary way in which an animal or human becomes infected is by tick bite.

All About Lyme Disease In Your Dog

All About Lyme Disease In Your Dog What To Do When Your Dog Tests Positive

What Is Lyme Disease ?

Lime disease is caused by a bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. It is a disease that can attack many systems in your pet’s body.

This bacteria is transmitted by certain ticks. Borrelia belong to a family of bacteria called spirochetes. They are not particular as to the species they attack.Borrelia burgdorferi has always been around – we just didn’t pay much attention to it until recently. It has been called Lyme disease ever since 1975, when an astute doctor recognized it in a cluster of children near the town of Lyme, Connecticut.

Lyme disease is carried by ticks. In the Northeastern US, that tick is usually the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis – the ones in the photo at the top of this page. On the West Coast, it is I. pacificus

Much of the information on the web concerns Lyme disease in people and many pet owners reading it online, equate the information to their dogs. However, Lyme disease will not affect your dog in the same way it affects people. People often develop a rash at the point where the tick attached as well as flu-like symptoms. In dogs the most common symptoms are joint pain and fever that usually do not start until 2-5 months after being bitten. A few dogs develop swollen lymph nodes and very, very few ever develop the heart and neurological problems seen in Lyme disease in humans. When lyme-positive dogs develop kidney problems, it is late in the disease process.

Dog : Periodontal Disease

What is periodontal disease?

'Periodontal' comes from two Greek words that mean 'around the tooth.' Periodontal disease is a series of changes that are associated with the inflammation and loss of the deep supporting structures of teeth.

How does periodontal disease develop?

If gingivitis is left untreated, it will progress to periodontal disease which is irreversible.

Food particles and bacteria collect along the gumline forming plaque. If plaque is not removed, minerals in the saliva combine with the plaque and form tartar (or calculus) which adheres strongly to the teeth. Plaque starts to mineralize 3-5 days after it forms. The tartar is irritating to the gums and causes an inflammation called gingivitis. This can be seen as reddening of the gums adjacent to the teeth. It also causes bad breath.

If the calculus is not removed, it builds up under the gums. It separates the gums from the teeth to form "pockets" and encourages even more bacterial growth. At this point the damage is irreversible, and called "periodontal" disease. It can be very painful and can lead to loose teeth, abscesses, and bone loss or infection.

What factors affect the development of periodontal disease?

Numerous factors play a role in the formation of plaque, tartar, and the development of periodontal disease. These include:

Kissing Your Dog Could Give You Gum Disease

It’s time once again to look to a 90s Romantic Comedy for sage advice to guide us through our every day lives.

In the words of Janeane Garofalo in the 1996 movie “The Truth About Cats and Dogs,” “You can love your pets, but just don’t LOVE your pets.”

Another lesson learned from this film: Be yourself. Don’t try to be Uma Thurman.

It seems the latest from the journal Archives of Oral Biology holds that kissing a dog straight on the mouth can actually exchange diseases between canine and human. It sounds crazy, I know, but Japanese researchers have found that this form of sharing affection with a pet could lead to gum disease.

These aforementioned researchers studied the plaque from 66 dogs and 81 humans. These researchers found this plaque from pet and owner alike at a dog-training school and an animal clinic in 2011. The researchers then took these plaque samples and began scraping them to find a specific species of bacteria (known as theperiodontopathic species) which is known to cause gum disease.

Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Periodontal disease is the inflammation of the tissues surrounding a tooth (essentially, the tooth's support system). It can affect as little as one or two teeth or as much as a dog's whole mouth. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to severe oral pain, loss of teeth, other dental diseases and a wide array of complications throughout the body. Proper dental care can prevent periodontal disease and is an important aspect of keeping your dog healthy.

Causes of Periodontal Disease in Dogs:

The development of periodontal disease is a gradual process that begins with the formation of plaque on the teeth. Bacteria in the mouth form plaque, a bacterial film that adheres to the teeth. Next, minerals in saliva harden the plaque into dental tartar (calculus), which becomes firmly attached to teeth. The plaque and tartar, both of which contain bacteria, spread under gum line. The bacteria secrete toxins and cause damage to the supporting tissues around the tooth, creating a pocket around the tooth.

Certain dogs seem to have a genetic predisposition to periodontal disease. This often relates to the dog's breed. Many small breed dogs, such as Dachshunds and Chihuahuas are especially prone to periodontal disease.

Signs of Periodontal Disease in Dogs:

The signs of periodontal disease depend upon the severity of the disease. They may also vary from dog to dog. The first thing most people will notice is halitosis. Contrary to what many people believe, dogs are not supposed to have bad breath. This is a sign of dental disease that should be addressed right away. Dogs with advanced periodontal disease tend to have especially foul breath.

As periodontal disease progresses, so does oral pain. Dogs may become reluctant or unable to chew food and treats. They may also lose interest in chew toys. Often, dogs will begin to salivate more than usual. The saliva may even be blood-tinged. Upon closer inspection of the teeth, you or your vet will notice gingivitis (inflammation/reddening of the gums) at the very least. As periodontal disease advances, teeth will eventually become loose.

Periodontal disease is diagnosed and numbered from one to four (based on severity). Grade I is the earliest form of the disease, when only gingivitis is present. Periodontitis (loss of bone and soft tissue around teeth) is present in grades II, III and IV. Grade IV is the most advanced stage, when loss of more than half of the tooth's supportive structures is noted.

Is Your Dog a Victim of Canine Gum Disease

Are you a dog owner? If so, you probably want the best for your dog which means giving him preventive health care to prolong life and improve health. Unfortunately, one area of health care that many pet owners neglect is care of their dog's teeth and gums. Canine gum disease is more prevalent than many pet owners believe. The startling statistics are that 85% of dogs suffer from some degree of canine gum disease. This is sobering indeed when you consider the consequences of untreated gum disease. Sadly enough, canine gum disease can not only lead to tooth loss, but can also give rise to an inflammatory process that can have unfavorable consequences for the entire body. In extreme cases, untreated gum disease can lead to chronic inflammation and death.

What are the symptoms of canine gum disease? Symptoms of gum disease in a dog can range from difficulty chewing or eating to persistent bad breath. Other signs include loose teeth, visible plaque at the roots of the teeth, bleeding gums, and pawing at the mouth. If left untreated, gum disease can progress to the point where your dog is unable to chew bones or even dry food. This can be quite distressing to a dog who loves to chew as a form of entertainment.

Fortunately, canine gum disease can be prevented with routine tooth brushing and regular dental care. It helps to avoid feeding your dog soft, canned food, instead opting for dry dog food which has more of a stimulatory effect on the gum tissue. Of course, dogs shouldn't be given table food, especially foods that are high in sugar content. Giving your dog bones designed specifically for cleaning teeth can also help to reduce the incidence of canine gum disease.

How often should you brush your dog's teeth to avoid canine gum disease? The simple answer is as often as possible. Although it's not always practical, a daily brushing is ideal to remove plaque that may have accumulated throughout the day.  Your dog should undergo a professional cleaning by your veterinarian about every six months.

What should you do if you believe your dog has the signs of canine gum disease? Your dog should be assessed by your dog's veterinarian who can schedule a deep cleaning for your dog along with scaling to remove inflamed, diseased tissue located along the gum line. With proper treatment, canine gum disease can be successfully controlled and your dog can enjoy his favorite bones and rawhides without pain and discomfort.

help a dog with Cushing’s disease

Question: My 11-year-old Dachshund, Hannah, has Cushing’s disease and the only comfort my veterinarian can offer her is radiation. I don’t believe that the quality of life my pet would have as a result of this treatment would be acceptable to me.

She drinks water by the gallon (if I don’t give it to her in an attempt to try to cut back, she sits and cries and it hurts me to see her so unhappy), so I give her the water, then she urinates anywhere she is, as long as it’s in the same room as her papers. I am constantly cleaning up wet floors and wee wee pads.

I am trying a homeopathic tablet, but it doesn’t seem to change anything. She has recently started to steal food from the cats and the other dog, and tries to steal food from my plate. (I have restricted her ability to steal from the other pets.)

Do you have any suggestions for ways I can help her?

Answer: I can sympathize with your situation with Hannah drinking and urinating too much (polyuria and polydipsia), along with excessive hunger (polyphagia). All are among the most common symptoms we see with Cushing’s disease due to an excessive amount of cortisol production from the adrenal gland(s). Other common problems include muscle weakness, hair loss, urinary or respiratory infections from a suppressed immune system, and a potbellied appearance from tremendous liver enlargement.

Cushing’s disease is usually diagnoses through hormone testing (ACTH stimulation or low dose dexamethasone suppression testing), before any treatments are administered. It is one of the most common endocrinopathies (glandular diseases) we see in older dogs. Because most of the dogs are older and often have concurrent medical conditions, the workup before treatment includes basic blood chemistry and urinalysis, chest radiographs, urine culture, abdominal ultrasound and blood pressure testing.

Pituitary dependent Cushing’s disease (PDH) is the most common form of the disease. In this form of the disease, a small tumor (microadenoma) exists in the pituitary gland. Occasionally Cushing’s disease is due to a tumor in the adrenal gland rather than the pituitary gland.

The most common treatments for Cushing’s disease are medical for PDH, and surgical for a single adrenal mass. In the rare instances of a pituitary macroadenoma, identified by MRI imaging, radiation therapy is recommended. Although it requires close monitoring, medical therapies are usually successful in controlling the symptoms of Cushing’s disease and improving the quality of life for both the patient and pet owner.

Lysodren (generically known as mitotane) has been the traditional medical therapy until recently. It directly destroys the part of the adrenal gland responsible for the production of cortisone.

I was involved in a multicenter study to test a drug called trilostane on newly diagnosed Cushing’s disease patients or patients who had not responded well to Lysodren. Trilostane — which was new at the time to the U.S., but had been used in Europe for many years — is an inhibitor of an enzyme called 3-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. This enzyme is involved in the production of several steroid hormones, including cortisol. The FDA approved the drug in February 2009. It is marketed under the name Vetoryl. I use the trilostane almost exclusively to treat Cushing’s disease in dogs and have been extremely pleased with the results.

Although both drugs can have side effects and require frequent monitoring, most patients appear to handle trilostane better. I would consider seeking the advice of a veterinary internist as to the type of Cushing’s disease Hannah may have and the possible therapies to address it.

PDH due to a macroadenoma requiring radiation therapy would be extremely rare. I have not found holistic therapies to be of use in the management of this condition, but have been very pleased in the response of most patients to medical or surgical therapies.

Except in rare circumstances, diagnosis and treatment are not considered a medical emergency. Although fatal complications from Cushing’s disease can occur, the condition is usually a chronic one, and some patients may go for years untreated.

Best of luck with Hannah, and I hope she does well.

Cushing's Disease In Your Dog - hyperadrenocorticism

Cushing's Disease In Your Dog -hyperadrenocorticism- What Happened And What You Need To Do

What Happened - And What You Need To Do

My Adrenal Glands Are Producing Too Much Cortisol

Some dogs develop just the opposite problem, their adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol. 

Sometimes The Problem Is Due To A Tumor In My Adrenal Gland, But More often, It Is Due To A Tumor In My Pituitary Gland - That Small Gland Lies Just Below My Brain. To See That Gland Better, 

Lots of my articles are plagiarized and altered on the web to market products and services. There are never ads running or anything for sale with my real articles - other than my time. 
Cushing's Disease, Hypothyroidism and Diabetes are the most common hormone problem that veterinarians see in older dogs. And of the three, Cushing's Disease is the most complicated and difficult to treat.

The disease has been known for a very long time. Dr. Harvey Cushing first took note of its peculiar symptoms in a young woman he was treating in 1912. ref Vets and physicians still call it Cushing's Disease because its scientific name, hyperadrenocorticism, is so hard to pronounce.

Veterinarians diagnose this disease in pets more and more frequently. It is unclear if this is because it has become more common, or if we are just looking for it more than we once did. 

Understanding this disease requires understanding your pet’s endocrine gland system. This system delivers instructions (in the form of hormones) , through the pet’s blood, to all parts of its body. The two endocrine glands that are the problem in Cushing's Disease (= Cushing's Syndrome = hypercortisolism) are its pituitary gland, which sits at the base of its brain, and its two adrenal glands, which sit just ahead of its kidneys.

About Canine Cushing's Disease

Cushing's Disease (hyperadrenocorticism) is a common condition in older dogs, often mistaken for the aging process itself. Dogs gain weight, lose hair, urinate in the house, and make owners begin to prematurely consider euthanasia. Yet Cushing's disease is treatable and that treatment can result in a longer, more comfortable life for the dog and its owner. Thus, it is important for the regular pet owner to learn the basic facts about Cushing's disease.

In health: In order to understand Cushing's disease, one needs to understand the basics of the negative feedback loop that operates in a normal, healthy dog. The pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, produces ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone), as directed by the hypothalamus (another part of the brain). This hormone is released into the bloodstream and stimulates the body's two adrenal glands, located near the kidneys, to secrete glucocorticoid (cortisone-like or cortisol) hormones into the bloodstream. Cortisol helps the body respond to stress. It is necessary for life and impacts a wide variety of bodily functions including blood sugar levels, fat metabolism, skeletal muscles, kidney function, nervous system, cardiovascular system, and immune response. ACTH/cortisol secretion is increased due to stress, including infection, pain, surgery, trauma, cold temperatures. When the blood cortisol levels are high enough, the pituitary stops secreting ACTH. When the blood cortisol levels dip low enough, the pituitary secretes more ACTH. The adrenals respond by secreting glucocorticoid hormones in response to the pituitary, just as the pituitary responds by secreting ACTH in response to the adrenals. The net effect is that a mildly fluctuating balance is achieved. This is an oversimplified picture of cortisol homeostasis in the healthy dog.


Honoring your Pet's Memory through Pet Cremation

Pet loss, whether anticipated or sudden, is a tragic event. Pet Owners facing the loss of their pet are often overwhelmed, finding themselves unprepared to handle the proper disposition of their beloved companion.

If you are a Pet Owner whose pet is in failing health, or if you have sadly experienced the recent passing of a pet, the following is an informative guide to help you move through this difficult period with knowledge and understanding.

Choosing pet cremation as a memorial

Because we form special bonds with our companions, it is only natural that many of us wish to follow the human model of burial or cremation to respect and remember our pet’s devotion. An option such as burying your pet at home sometimes necessitates meeting stringent health department regulations, and you may find that pet cemeteries are either hard to find or costly.

Today many Pet Owners opt for cremation since it both provides a way to keep your pet near you and allows you to bury or scatter some of your pet’s ashes in your yard or a favorite place your pet enjoyed. With our mobile society many families choose pet cremation in order to keep their pet’s memorial with them when they move. You may be surprised to know that cremation is available for pets of all sizes, from birds to horses.

parasites in dogs

There are more than a dozen parasites that can infect your dog causing serious health problems, and in severe cases even death. Not recognizing the symptoms of a parasite infection may lead to illness, spread of disease, and general discomfort of your dog. Parasite infections can also shorten the life of your dog unnecessarily. Although some parasite infections can be life threatening each one is completely preventable. There is no reason any dog should have to suffer with worms, ticks, or fleas. Parasite infections left unchecked can also spread to humans causing various illnesses. Learn about some of the more common parasites that affect dogs so you can recognize the symptoms and provide preventative care.

Heart worms in dogs are found within the walls of the heart and also in some of the larger blood vessels of the body. Heart worms in dogs can cause heart failure, heart disease, liver failure, and kidney failure. Left untreated, heart worms can be fatal for your dog. Because symptoms may not always be present it is wise to have your dog tested yearly for heart worms. A simple in office blood test at the veterinarian can tell you if your dog has heart worms. Some of the symptoms a dog may have heart worms includes coughing, fatigue, labored breathing, and weight loss.

Any dog is at risk for contracting heart worms, but dogs that spend most of their time outdoors are more susceptible. Heart worms infections begin with a mosquito that bites an infected animal, and then bites your dog spreading the larvae. As the larvae matures to adult it uses the heart and blood vessels as home and can cause severe damage to the tissues including ripping, tearing, and in severe cases bursting of cells and muscles. Heart worms are easily treated with the use of medication which may be administered orally, topically, or by injection. All dogs should be treated year round for heart worm and testing should be a part of your dog's annual checkup.

Roundworm is a parasitic worm found in the digestive tract of dogs. Infection is often spread by small rodents but can also be contracted by eating or drinking contaminated food and water. Roundworm can be diagnosed with a fecal test performed by your veterinarian. Roundworm infections may cause diarrhea, stomach pains, and changes in your dog's appetite. As with most parasitic infections treatment consists of an oral or topically applied medication. Often, one medication is enough to treat and prevent all kinds of parasitic infections. Symptoms of roundworm infection in dogs may include passing of eggs or dead worms in feces, and anal irritation.

Hookworms are especially dangerous to dogs because they have sharp, teeth like grippers that allow them to latch onto the walls of the intestines. Hookworms are usually found in the small intestine and may even burrow through the walls causing further internal damage to your dog. Like most parasitic worms, hookworms feed on a dog's blood and can cause anemia. Infection in dogs may be caused by consuming contaminated food or drink and contact with other dog's fecal matter. Eggs may be passed in the feces and can latch onto other dogs. Once a hookworm latches on it burrows through the skin and tissues until it reaches the intestines, where it attaches itself to the soft tissue of the walls to feed on blood.

Hookworms can cause severe anemia but are easily treated with medications. Preventative care should include a monthly regiment of oral or topical medications, and a once yearly complete physical. As with any other parasite, treatment should be year round. Symptoms of hookworm infection in dogs are similar to other parasite infections. Hookworm eggs can be passed with feces and in severe cases you may be able to see them on the fur around the anus or on the underside of the tail.

Unlike most parasitic worms, the whip worm is generally found in the large intestine. Tran mission occurs in the same way as any other parasite and is equally as dangerous to your dog's health. Instead of attaching itself to the intestinal walls the whip worm uses it's tail like a propeller and burrows into the walls of the intestine. This can be especially uncomfortable and even painful for a dog. Whip worms also feed on blood and eggs may be passed with feces. Whip worms can be treated with medication very easily and it is recommended to follow a monthly treatment schedule to avoid infections.

Tapeworms are very similar to hookworms but they differ in body shape and size. Tapeworms have a flat, segmented body with a distinct head. Like hookworms tapeworms attach themselves to the walls of the intestines with teeth like grippers. Tapeworms are especially dangerous to dogs because they do not only feed on blood but they also "steal" vital nutrients through absorption. Tapeworms in dogs can cause serious digestive problems and possibly cause blockages. Tapeworms have both sexual organs and once attached to the intestines of a dog continue to reproduce sections and grow. Sometimes old sections dry up and pass through feces. Dried up sections look like grains of rice and may be seen in the feces or on the fur.

Of all the internal parasites, the tapeworm can cause significant damage because it robs your dog of vital nutrients. Tapeworms are most often spread by fleas. Symptoms of tapeworm infection in dogs may include abdominal bloating or swelling, increased appetite, and lethargy. Treatment is just about the same as for any other intestinal parasite. Your veterinarian should test yearly for tapeworms and other internal parasites. As with most infections, dogs that spend more time outside are more likely to become infected.

Fleas and ticks can spread all kinds of diseases and infection. Both act similarly by biting and feeding on a dog's blood. Unlike fleas ticks bite and latch on to dogs skin usually near the ears, neck, face, head, stomach, and on the legs. It is not unusual to find a tick or several ticks on a dog, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors unsupervised. Fleas and ticks can be dangerous to both humans and dogs spreading disease. Fleas can be especially hard to detect because most of the time you cannot see them. Symptoms of a fleas or ticks may include scratching and biting skin, a visible flea or tick, or irritated skin.

Regular bathing and grooming will keep infestations down. When brushing or combing your dog shake out the comb onto a white paper towel. If black spots appear and turn red when water is added you know your dog has fleas. When grooming your dog, check areas where ticks may latch on. It's easier for ticks to attach themselves to parts of the dog's body where there is thin or no hair. Check around the neck, in the folds of the legs, on the stomach, and around the ears. Ticks should be removed by a professional veterinarian. If a tick is not removed properly the head may remain under the skin and can cause an infection or abscess.

One hundred percent of parasite infections can be prevented in dogs with a regular treatment plan. Your veterinarian will be able to assist you with diagnosis, treatment, and medications. Some parasites can be life threatening so it is imperative as a dog owner to take the proper precautions. Always supervise your dog when outdoors to make sure they are not eating contaminated foods, drinking dirty water, or rolling around in the woods and grass. Regularly bathe and brush your dog's coat to minimize the spread of parasites. Because some diseases can pass from dog to human you should see the vet at least once a year, and up to three times a year with older dogs.


Why Crate Train Dog

Used properly, a crate is an effective short-term tool for managing and training your dog. If you train your dog to be content in a crate, you’ll provide a safe, cozy place that she can call her own and sleep in at night. It also gives you a safe way to transport your dog and travel with her to motels, to friends’ homes, when on vacation, etc. Crates are especially helpful when introducing a new dog into your household. You can also use a crate to efficiently house train your dog and prevent her from being destructive.

Crates can be easily misused, however. They’re best used as a relatively short-term management tool, not as a lifetime pattern of housing. Your goal should be to work on any behavior problems and train your dog so that it’s not necessary to crate her 8 to 10 hours every weekday throughout her life. Please see our crate guidelines below, under How Long to Crate Your Dog, to avoid over-confinement and inadvertently causing behavior problems from a lack of exercise, training, socialization and companionship.

Some dogs are never happy in crates but can tolerate them when necessary. Others panic when closed in a crate (please see more information below under When NOT to Use a Crate). However, most dogs readily adjust to their crates, preferring to sleep or take refuge in them when they’re tired or things get too hectic.

Using a Crate to House Train Your Dog

You can use a crate to safely contain your dog during the night and whenever you can’t monitor her behavior closely. Dogs don’t like to soil their sleeping areas, so your dog will naturally avoid eliminating in her crate. If used for house training purposes, the crate should be sized so that your dog can lie down comfortably, stand up without having to crouch and easily turn around in a circle. If the crate is any larger, she might learn to soil one end of it and sleep at the other. If the crate is any smaller, she might be uncomfortable and unable to rest. (When you no longer need to use the crate for house training, you can purchase a larger one for your dog if you like.)

Crate Training for Adult Dogs

Crate-training is easiest in puppyhood, but at times it’s both necessary and feasible to train an adult dog to rest calmly in a crate. It’s important to note, though, that not all dogs can be crate trained. Some will panic and can hurt themselves.

It’s possible to create the panic problem by how crate-training is attempted. If the puppy or dog gets the idea that making a fuss will cause you to come to the rescue, you can accidentally create a dog who becomes hysterical when confined to a crate, a dangerous situation for the dog.

But most dogs can be crate-trained, especially when it's not a crisis and you can take your time. Plus, with a mature dog who is not a chewer, you can put bedding in the crate and make it a cozy place to sleep. That's often unwise with chewing pups or young dogs who will chew and possibly swallow bedding.

Evaluate your mature, non-chewing dog as to whether you’ll best use cool bedding or warm bedding. Blankets can be too hot under furry dogs. Cold-natured dogs, on the other hand, need warmer bedding. So customize that aspect for your dog’s body. Ideally, you want your dog friend to like the bedding enough to go in there for a nap with the door open.


Getting Rid of a Pet

If you decide to take this prescribed route, don't expect instant relief from allergy and asthma symptoms. It takes an average of 20 weeks, plus daily heavy-duty vacuuming, dusting, and washing, as well as carpet cleaning, to reduce the levels of allergens to those found in pet-free homes. While people with mild to moderate pet allergies may sometimes be able to keep their pets by following the above recommendations, those with severe pet allergies and/or asthma or who suffer life-threatening reactions may need to give them up. Saying good-bye to a beloved pet is never easy, especially for children. But there are ways to make the ordeal a little easier. Try these suggestions for easing the emotional trauma of giving away a pet:

Think it out together:

Start with a family brainstorming session in which each family member presents their own ideas and options for giving away the pet. When children help find a good home for their companion, they are better able to deal with the loss.

Hear ye, hear ye:

Spread the word to family, friends, and coworkers about the need to relocate your pet. Just be sure they are aware of the medical reason so that potential adopters will not think you are trying to pass off a carpet-chewing, ill-tempered problem pet. If you're not successful with personal contacts, advertise your pet in the newspaper's pet section. Again, be sure to mention in the ad that you're giving the pet away for medical reasons, and screen people as best you can to find a good home. The grocery store community bulletin board is another good place to advertise. Put up signs with pictures of your pet and descriptions of its personality.

Creative advertising:

If newspaper and grocery store advertising fails to produce a satisfactory home, it is time to get creative. Try taking your dog to a popular park, carrying a sign describing your plight. Or go door to door with a picture of your cat -- or approach a pet-store owner about selling your bird.

Give them shelter:

Sending a pet to a shelter is a last-ditch option, when all else has failed and your family's health is threatened. Shelter living is very traumatic for a pet accustomed to a household, and older pets probably will not get adopted. There are some very good no-kill animal shelters that are an alternative to city animal shelters, but their resources are limited financially and your pet will do much better in a family environment.

Handling the Demand for a Pet

Even when there's an allergic person in the household, there will be family members (especially children) who believe the world will end if they don't have a pet. Persistent begging can be such a source of irritation to parents that they relent. If a pet is necessary to prevent parental insanity (or for other reasons), remember that pet allergens are the proteins found in dander, as well as the saliva and urine of cats and dogs. Find a pet without fur or one that doesn't produce allergy-causing excretions. Let it be known that the cute and cuddly don't fit into this category.

Tropical fish make the ideal pet for allergy sufferers, as long as the aquarium does not add to the humidity in a room and mold doesn't grow around the rim. Picking out beautiful tropical fish can be a fun family activity and one that may help kids get over not having a four-legged fluff ball. For adults, a koi pond may be a good investment because everyone loves watching these brilliantly colored fish. Some koi are tame enough to be petted, too. Hermit crabs make for an unusual pet, and they are generally low maintenance. Snakes, turtles, salamanders, and lizards are also possibilities, but some of these pets require a lot of maintenance. Many need humid environments, which can set off mold and dust-mite allergies. And some may not be appropriate due to other health or nonhealth concerns. Thoroughly investigate these choices before selecting a pet, and make sure the allergic person does not have any reactions.

Dealing with pet allergies can be a strain on the family. First you need to know the extent of the family member's allergy. Then it may be time to make a hard decision. Whatever you decide, you can follow these suggestions for minimizing the disruption to your life.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Tips for Reducing Pet Allergies

One of the worst discoveries pet owners can make is that they are (or a family member is) allergic to a pet, especially after strong emotional bonds have formed. If someone in the household has developed allergies to a beloved pet, you must make the heart-wrenching decision about whether or not to keep the animal.

Before jumping to any decisions, though, first have the allergy confirmed by testing. If the test comes back positive, most allergists will recommend that the pet causing the allergies be removed from the home to avoid the possible progression of symptoms and to decrease the amount of medication the allergic person requires. Once you've received the results and heard the recommendation, you'll have to decide what to do.

While allergists are generally correct when they recommend removing a pet, doing so is like losing a family member. Some people, understandably so, are unwilling to give up their pet. Instead, they choose to live with the pet by modifying behaviors and keeping the house as dander-free as possible. If this is the route you decide to take, consider the following suggestions:

How to Relieve dog Allergies

Our love affair with the furry and feathered has produced a nation of pet owners, many of whom need tissues and pet allergy medicines to cope. Can pets be a part of an allergy sufferer's world? In this article, we will tell you the truth about pets and allergies and even give you helpful advice if you have to make the tough decision to get rid of your pet to save your health. Let's get started with some basic information about pet allergies.

Like all allergic reactions, pet allergies are the result of an immune system reaction to a harmless substance; in this case, the reaction is to the proteins in pets' dander (dead skin flakes) and possibly saliva and urine (it depends on the breed). Unlike other airborne allergens that come from unwanted creatures, pet allergens come from a cute and cuddly animal, a four-legged or feathered friend whom we adore and who adores us.

Pity pet allergy sufferers, for they endure endless bouts of misery because of their love of or the popularity of pets. After critter contact, many look like they've lost a boxing match: They have puffy faces; watery, swollen eyes; a runny nose; and red, irritated skin. Such reactions aren't always immediate, especially when sensitivity is minor or allergen levels are low. You might spend all day petting a sister's cat and only suffer a tiny itch.

But come 2 A.M., the immune system wakes up and soon you're wide awake rubbing your eyes, blowing your nose, and cursing the cat. Highly sensitive people usually don't have to wait 'til 2 A.M. (or later) for reactions to start. It seems they just look at the cat and experience skin irritations, nasal congestion, and breathing difficulties. For people with asthma, contact with a cat can trigger a severe asthma attack.

Oral Drops for Dog Allergies Pass Another Hurdle

A study reported July 24 at the World Congress of Veterinary Dermatology in Vancouver, British Columbia, shows that placing allergy drops under a dog's tongue can be as effective as allergy injections for controlling skin allergies.

In dogs, allergies to house dust, pollen, and mold cause atopic dermatitis, an itchy skin inflammation. Dogs, like people, can be desensitized through "immunotherapy" using shots or drops that deliver small doses of the allergen to "train" the immune system to tolerate foreign proteins.

Both technologies are now about a century old, but for humans and animals, allergy shots are more commonly used.

Chief author of the new study, Douglas DeBoer, a professor of dermatology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, sees several benefits emerging from the new study, which treated skin allergies in 217 dogs using allergy drops.

What's Behind Your Dog's Allergies

What's causing your dog to itch? It's probably dog allergies. But is it food, dust mites ... or you? There are hundreds of possibilities. 

Here's how to rule out some of them, and get down to the likeliest ones. Once you know what's causing the itch, you can take action to provide your dog with some much-needed relief. 

Let's get down to business. Does your dog itch all year-round, or just in certain seasons? If it's seasonal, skip to that section. 

There are only a few causes of year-round canine allergies: 

Food. This is the first thing many people think of as causing canine allergies. But it's actually one of the least likely. True food allergies are uncommon in dogs, with only about 15% of allergic dogs being allergic to food. 

A dog may be sensitive to a protein source in his food, or to the protein part of grains such as wheat, soy or corn. Wheat gluten is another one which frequently causes some dog itching and scratching problems. If you have an itchy dog, avoid foods with soy. 

More Tips for Finding a Lost Dog

  • Call all surrounding town police departments and alert them (calling up to six is not a bad idea). Give the breed, size, sex, color, name and where it was lost and last seen. Give your name and phone number in case they find it. If the police department does not ask you what your phone number is, then call BACK and make sure they have it and understand why. Continue to call each day or every other day to find out updates. They won't LOOK for your pet. They'll only pick it up if they see it.
  • Call the local animal shelter and humane society to alert them.
  • Call all nearby park workers to alert them in case your pet ran into a park
  • If you have internet access, register your pet in

Make flyers which include:

-LOST PET announcement -your pet's picture -your pet's name, size, sex

-date it became missing -where and when last seen

What to Do if You Lose Your Pet

Getting the word out early is the key to getting your dog or cat back safely and soundly. Don't assume your pet will return on his own in a few hours. Don't wait around to see if he'll find his way home. As soon as you are aware that your pet is missing, GET THE WORD OUT. Remember, have good, clear photos on hand just in case, and ALWAYS make sure your dogs and cats are wearing a collar with identification tags. Microchipping is an excellent form of identification, but always make sure your pet has a visible collar and tags.

  • Make posters, and lots of them. Keep it simple: "LOST DOG (or cat)!" should be at the top in large, easy to read, (even from a moving vehicle) bold letters. Then include a brief description or breed type: "Beige, wire-haired terrier " or "Striped grey and black short-haired cat ". Don't assume that people will know your particular pure breed, so always include a description. Include the animal's name, it may make it easier for someone to call your pet over and capture him, and it also makes your pet into a valued member of your family, and not just another lost animal statistic. Offer a reward, don't state how much in the ad, and include your telephone number in large numbers at the bottom of the poster.
  • Make dozens of index cards with the same information as above, and go to every home, in every direction from the site of where your pet disappeared, and give a card, or stick a card under doors or on windshields. Stop and speak with every person you encounter –the more people know about your lost pet, the more likely the one person who spots him will call you. Your pet may be frightened, ask people to please check their barns and sheds, especially at night.
  • Place a "Lost " ad in your local newspaper the very first morning your pet is gone. These ads are usually free.
  • GET THE WORD OUT! The more people know you have lost a pet, and that you are upset, worried and desperately trying to find your pet, the more people will call you if they see an animal in the woods or on the road, or in their backyard.
  • Get out and call for your pet by name. Enlist family and friends to canvas the neighborhood, in all directions, on the roads and as the crow flies. Don't try to predict where your pet could or wouldn't have gone –YOU NEVER KNOW. The best time to call for your pet is at night, and at dawn. If you are calling from your car, drive slowly, roll down all the windows, stop and turn your vehicle off frequently to listen.
  • Call all your neighbors personally.
  • Call all veterinary clinics, including emergency veterinary hospitals outside your local area. Sometimes people pick up a stray and drive it to a distant clinic. Call all animal shelters and animal control and dog control officers, all local police and state troopers, all local kennels, the highway department, dog training clubs, grooming shops get the word out.
  • Visit all local dog pounds and animal shelters, don't rely on their information, go through and look at all dogs and cats, DAILY.
  • Don 't give up!
  • Dogs and cats often wander far away, and do things you wouldn't predict they would do. Try everything, look everywhere, tell everyone. You'd be surprised how many people will be supportive, will get out and help you look, will offer words of encouragement and hope, will suggest places to look that other stray animals have gone.
  • Even the friendliest and most social pet may quickly become terrified and wild. Your own friendly pet, when lost, may hide from people, run away if he sees a person, he may even run away from you. Don't chase after a lost pet –they are much faster than we are and you'll only scare them more. Instead, sit on the ground; talk in normal tones, repeating his name and familiar phrases over and over again. A frightened animal will usually stick around, and after a few minutes or hours,come closer and closer.
  • In rare cases, you may need to rent or purchase a Humane Live trap, and set it to capture a terrified lost pet. Local animal shelters often rent or loan these, and will have an appropriate size for a dog or a cat.
  • Again, DON'T GIVE UP! Be aggressive in your search, get lots of help, get the word out right away – don't wait a few hours "to see if he'll come home on his own "– you need those early hours to put up posters and give out cards.
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