A typical dog has 42 permanent adult. Poor oral hygiene can lead to gum abscess and disease that can take several years off their life, so regular, at home dental care is an important part of pet care.
Almost every mammal has them….so what are they?
Anal glands (also called anal sacs) are located on either side of the anus (where stool leaves the body), and are usually paired off between the muscles that control the passage of feces from the body. They have a purpose, as a calling card if you will, as they are usually emptied by the stool as it passes out of the body, leaving a scent that allows the animal to identify other members of it’s species. They can also be emptied suddenly with stress, although this is not the norm.
If the glands fail to empty, they can become impacted and swollen. WIth continued blockage they can become infected, which requires veterinary care.
Signs of discomfort are usually “scooting”, when the dog drags it’s hindquarters around the floor (or your furniture), may attempt to lick its bottom, or “chase his tail”. They may also be uncomfortable when the dog is sitting….my dog had an infected anal sac, and she was restless and kept shifting her weight when she sat down).
When the glands are impacted, they can be expressed by a handler or groomer. The easiest method is externally. If you place your thumb and index finger at 5 and 7 o’clock in relation to the anus, you will feel the swollen glands.
To express them, place a paper towel, a tissue, or a cleansing wipe over the anus. Have someone restrain the dog in a standing position. Lift the base of the tail firmly, and press inward or upward towards the rectum, using your index finger and thumb. The discharge may be pale colored, whitish, tan or yellow in coloration, and it may be thick or thin. It may also “ooze” out in small amounts, or “gush” so be prepared. No matte what, it is not a pleasant substance and the odor is strong, so you don’t want to wear it! When I have had to do it, I did it in the tub so it was easy to clean up).
If the discharge is brown, gray, bloody, has pus in it, or there is a hole in the skin over the gland (this is a ruptured abscess) a vet must treat the dog, as antibiotics and possibly “lancing” an abscess may be needed.
If the do has recurrent infections, there is a surgical treatment that may be recommended by your vet, but like any other procedure, it can carry risks..including fecal incontinence, scarring and may cause blockage of the rectum, or a “fistula” in which continuous draining may occur, so the decision to go this route is not a decision to be made lightly (like another other procedures).
What can be done to prevent impactions? There is no simple answer. You can try increasing the amount of fiber in your dogs diet with commercally made products such as “Scoot Bars” or vegetables to increase the size of your dog’s stool (to increase the pressure on the gland as the dog moves his bowels, or change to a dog food with a higher fiber content, but there is no “magic bullet”. Probably the best thing you can do is routinely checking the dog’s glands (it can be a routine part o f grooming) and managing them on a timely basis. Routinely expressing the glands is not recommended if they are not impacted, and could lead to other problems.
Ever have those moments when you feel like the earth is moving below your feet? It can happen to your pet as well, except that tell can’t tell you, so you should be familiar with the symptoms.
This can be very frightening, as it could look like your pet is having a stroke (we had this happen with Bessie one Sunday night). Regardless of the cause, your pet needs treatment, but fortunately the cause can be very treatable. Whenever your dog shows changes in behavior you should contact your vet….these are just guidelines to protect your pet until you can provide a get expert advice.
When your dog is suffering with a change in balance, he may show a change in behavior, drool, or fall to one side; they may also move in circles. These symptoms may be accompanied by vomiting.
Common reasons for a loss of balance can be an ear infection or the presence of a foreign object so be sure to check his ears for selling, redness, or debris; these may indicate an infection, which should be treated to prevent possible hearing loss or infection which could spread to the brain.
Other potential causes are a brain disease or infection that affects the balance center of the brain (see Idiopathic Peripheral Vestibular Disease). IPVD can resolve on its own, but over several weeks, but again, a diagnosis should be made by your vet.
If your pet is showing these symptoms,the most important thing you can do is to protect him from injury, so ensure he does not fall down the stairs, through open windows (yes, it happens), or from balconies or decks. Don’t let him roam freely outdoors. You should not attempt to self-treat if you suspect he has an infection, nor should you attempt to remove a deeply imbedded object from the ear. You should not use drops in the ear unless your vet has recommended that you do so.
And by the way, we never figured out why it happened in Bessie but it has never happened again. Another frightening and expensive night at animal hospital!
The week of March 17th is “National Poison Prevention Week, and poisoning can happen to any pet at anytime, even from products around our house that we may or may not even think about. And since dogs “do the darndest things, they may be exposed to some of these products with good intention onthe part of the owner, intentional poisoning or abuse, by products left around the garage or driveway, or of course, the good old garbage. What are the most common household poisons? Read on!
Foods such as chocolate, onions, moldy cheese, raisins and grapes. If your dog ingests any of these, call your vet or poison control hotline.
Alkaline household cleanser such a solvents and paint strippers. the dog may walk into spilled products, or an owner may unknowingly may use them to remove paint from fur. They can cause inflammation of the kin, vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, or ulcers on the tongue. If you suspect the dog has had exposure to these products, DO NOT INDUCE Vomiting..what burned on the way down will burn on the way up!. If the dog’s skin has been exposed wash with soap and water.
Insecticides with “chlorinated hydrocarbons”…where are these found? Believe it or not, in concentrated insecticide rinses and flea collars, as well as mothballs. they can cause restlessness, agitation, “twitching”, seizures, excessive salivation, coma, and death. If skin exposure has occurred, wash the fur with soap and water.
Organophosphate insectcides: found in insecticidal sprays,, shampoos, and flea collars. Can cause drooling, respiratory distress, frequent urination and defecation, and muscle tremors. Thoroughly wash your dog with soap and water
Warfarin rodenticide: dog can eat the poison or a rodent that has been poisoned (and did you know, that “coumadin”, a common blood “thinner” is warfarin?).Because it “thins the blood” or inhibits clotting it can cause bleeding gums and bruising to the skin. The the dog could bleed to death. If the product has been recently ingested, induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide.
Strychnine rodentcide: used as a rodent bait and occasionally in intentional poisoning. Can cause stiffness and seizures and can lead to death within 1 hour of ingestion. induce vomiting immediately
Slug and snail bait (metaldehyde): Some dogs like the taste (go figure) and may eat it deliberately. Can lead to tremors, drooling, coma, or death. If recently ingested, induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide.
Antifreeze (ethylene glycol): this can lea from car radiators or be spilled when being added to a radiator. dogs love the taste of this, but is can lead to unsteady or wobbly gait, seizures, vomiting, collapse, coma, and death. if recently ingested, induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide.
Aspirin: sometimes owners give this to a dog with good intention to manage pain, but it can lead to appetite loss, depression, and vomiting. If you dog is in pain contact your vet for pain management options.Also unsafe are cold remedies, Advil (Ibuprofen, and Tylenol (acetaminophen).
Lead and other heavy metals such as zinc. Some dogs chew everything, so chewing on flakes old pain, fishing weights made of lead, old pipes, or batteries can expose your dog to lead poisoning. Initial sins may be vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal pain, staggering and unsteady gait, and paralysis. Induce vomiting if you suspect lead has been infested.
Illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and although not illegal, alcohol. (not that anyone has any of those around-be honest with your vet if you suspect your pet has had exposure to these products). The can lead to lack of coordination, agitation, fear and biting, and dilated pupils.
Sedatives and antidepressants : dog may have accidental exposure or been administered intentionally.. Can lead to depression, staggering gait, coma, and death. Induce vomiting.
With any possible exposure to a toxic substance, always contact poison control (1-888-426-4435) or contact your vet immediately! As a general guideline for treatment of potential poisoning, you should not induce vomiting if:
- the animal is having difficulty breathing
- having seizures, convulsions, or “fits”
- is not conscious
- has a history of bloat (you will know if your dog has had this)
- a slow heart rate
- if the toxin is likely to be a caustic, acidic, or petroleum based product
- if the object the dog ate was pointed or sharp and puncture the dogs intestinal tract (I had a dog eat a wooden Teriyaki skewer once, luckily he survived with veterinary care)
- or the product information says not to induce vomiting.
If you believe inducing vomiting is appropriate, use a 3% Hydrogen Peroxide solution of 1 teaspoon for very 10 pounds of body weight. This can be repeated up to three times, allowing 15 to 2 minutes between administrations.
When calling, the more information you can provide the better, so if you know:
- The name of the poison
- how much the animal ate or was exposed to
- when it happened
- your dogs vital signs(only you know what the normal breathing rate and pulse is for your dog), temperature, and the color of the membranes (the color of your dogs gums)
- approximate weight of the pet.
The life you save just might be your best friend’s!
Unfortunately, even though we think our dogs understand every word we say, and we often understand them, there are times when they just can’t tell us what hurts….so we need to know what to look for. Always keep your vet’s number available in an emergency, and keep a log of “symptoms” and concerns when you go to the vet….they say that history is 99% of diagnosis, so being alert and methodical can save your dog’s life.
- Internal parasites: visible worms in the feces, a pot-bellied appearance, persistent or bloody diarrhea, white “grains” on the rear of the dog, loss of weight
- Signs of urinary disorders: straining to pass urine, blood in the urine, incontinence (inability to hold urine), increased urination, increased thirst
- Reproductive disorders: unusual genital discharge, swelling in the mammary glands, swelling of the testicles, failure to conceive difficulty at birth
- Skin and coat disorders: persistent scratching, sudden chewing or licking, redness of inflammation, increased hair loss.
- digestive disorders: projectile, bloody, or painful vomiting. Persistent, bloody, or explosive diarrhea, constipation, weight loss or weight gain. Listlessness and abdominal discomfort
- Nervous system disorders: Seizures, convulsions, or “fits”. staggering gait, partial or complete paralysis, behavioral changes, loss of balance.
- Ear disorders head shaking discharge from the ear canal, swelling of the flap of the ear, difficulty hearing, loss of balance
- Respiratory disorders: nasal discharge, persistent sneezing, coughing or gagging, excessive snoring, labored breathing.
- Eye disorders: discharge from the eyes, changes in vision, squinting, a “bloodshot” appearance, of blue/gray cloudiness
- Mouth and tooth disorders: bad breath, dribbling saliva, reluctance to eat, inflamed gums, loose or broken teeth
- External parasites: scratching, excessive licking, dandruff, hair loss, visible parasites.
- Blood and heart disorders: a non productive cough, reluctance to exercise, reduced stamina, fainting
- Bone, muscle, and joint disorder: lameness and limping, swelling around the affected area, paralysis, tenderness when a joint is touched.
Bite wounds can be far more serious than they look, so anytime your dog is bitten (or you) you should seek medication attention.
The wound itself usually appears as two puncture wounds but a large animal attacking a smaller one may shake the animal, causing internal injuries.
If a bite wound gets infected, the dog will develop a fever that is usually greater than 103 degrees Fahrenheit, a loss of appetite, and tenderness at the site
An abscess, or swelling at the wound site may also develop, and may present a red or bluish coloration to the skin that is painful; the skin will be tight over the wound. If an abscess ruptures, a foul odor may accompany the discharge.
At the time of the injury, control any bleeding by applying a piece of gauze or other clean material to the wound and apply pressure directly to the wound. IF blood soaks through the material, do not remove it as this will interfere with clotting that has begun; apply another layer of material and continue applying pressure until the bleeding stops or you are able to get your pet into veterinary care.
If you witness a bite event by another dog, ask the owner about the dog’s vaccine history; your vet will need this information to determine management of the event. If the bite was from a wild animal and the animal is dead, bring it t the vet for testing, but do not attempt to capture a live animal.
If the bite is from a snake, scorpion, toad, or jellyfish I will be covering this in another article.
This article reviews a medical emergency called “shock”. Shock is not an illness, but instead results from another medical condition, such as bleeding, allergic reactions, dehydration, or poisoning, and is caused by an inadequate blood flow and oxygen to meet the body’s needs. Blood flow throughout the body is dependent upon the heart pumping adequately, and enough blood flow to maintain the flow and pressure inside the vessels. Any condition that interferes with the circulation or respiratory can cause shock to occur.
When the body is in shock, the animal’s cardiovascular system will attempt to compensate for inadequate oxygen being circulated via the blood, and heart rate and breathing will become more rapid. In addition, the body responds by constricting the blood vessels in the skin, and attempting to maintain fluid in the body by reducing the amount of urine that is being passed.
Shock is a true medical emergency, and while it may initially be the result of a medical problem, but over time will self-perpetuate itself, and will result in death if not treated.
Signs of shock include:
Increased rate of breathing, “Panting”
Increased pulse rate, and a pulse that becomes “bounding”
Red coloration to the mucous membranes of the lips, gums, and tongue.
Early signs of shock may appear to be the result of overexertion, and are easily missed.
Later signs of shock are usually a pale color to the skin, a slowing respiratory rate, general apathy, listlessness, and “depression”, loss of consciousness, and weak or absent pulse.
It is recommended that pet owners familiarize themselves with artificial respirations and CPR for dogs. Artificial respiration is done when the dog is not breathing, but has a pulse. If there is not breathing or pulse, then CPR should be administered.
Symptoms of shock require transportation to a medical facility. Prior to, and during transport, bleeding should be controlled (more to come on that at a later date), and the animal be wrapped in a blanket or coat to keep him warm and protect any injured extremities.
Always remain calm and speak to the dog in a soothing manner. Let him assume a comfortable position; an animal in pain will naturally assume a position that reduces pain.
If the dog has broken bones, they should be splinted or supported before the animal is moved.
If a dog is found unconscious or lying down after an accident, always assume a spinal cord injury has occurred, and manage the dog in a manner that prevents further damage.
If no spinal cord is likely, then a small dog can be carried in a blanket, or a large dog transported on a flat surface or “stretcher”.
Be sure to get him to a vet as soon as possible!
It is cold here in New England, so many of our are bringing the great outdoors indoors…………….others are just getting their holiday favorites. Unfortunately many of these common plants can be toxic to our pets.
Poison control centers estimate that 5 to 10% of all inquiries to their centers are related to young children ingesting potentially poison plants, and there is no reason to doubt that the numbers may be similar for our 4 legged children. As you know pets investigate everything with their mouths….puppies and kittens are especially curious. Some chew when they are bored and others just like to chew (we have a cat that loves to chew grass….artificial grass, to be more specific, so providing appropriate chew toys is and other diversions is important.
Many of us have been taught to assume that plants that are poisonous protect themselves with a bitter taste, but this is not always the case, and some plants are safe in limited amounts, so you know what they say about “assuming”….
That being said, here are some of the plants that may pose a risk for pets (and children)..
Century Plant/American Aloe: can cause severe burning on contact, salivation, swelling of the tongue and throat, diarrhea, difficulty breathing.
Barbados Aloe/Curacao Aloe: severe diarrhea which can lead to dehydration, low blood sugars, and possibly vomiting.
Caladium/Angel Wings, Fancy Leaf Caladium: irritation of the mucous membranes, severe pain, swelling of the mouth and throat, diarrhea, difficulty breathing.
Marijuana/cannabis, Pot, Hashish, Indian Hemp: depression of the central nervous system, rapid or slow heart rate, tremors, vomiting, salivation, and depression, changes in gait
Lily of the Valley/Conval Lily/Mayflower: affects are related to amount ingested, but can range from gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, trembling, irregular heartbeats, potassium imbalances.
Cyclamen/Snow-bread/shooting star: lack of appetite, diarrhea, seizures, and paralysis.
Foxglove: painful abdomen, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, increased frequency of urination, slow and/or irregular pulse rte, tremors, seizures (the plant is no less potent after drying)
Dragon Tree: vomiting and diarrhea which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Hyacinth: the bulbs of this plant can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and on rare occasions death.
English Holly/European Holly: abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea.
Kalanchoe/Air Plant/Cathedral-Bells depression, rapid breathing, grinding of teeth, changes in giat, paralysis
Easter Lily/Trumpet Lily: kidney failure, vomiting, depression, loss of appetite
Daffodils: Same as for Hyacinth
Philodendron: irritation and pain to mouth and mucous membranes, excessive salivation, swelling of tongue and throat, difficulty breathing, excitability, spasms, seizures
Mistletoe: vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, rapid and labored breathing, shock, and death due to heart failure.
Azalea, Rhododendron: salivation, watering of the eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness, seizures, coma, and death
Snake Plant/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue: vomiting and diarrhea which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Umbrella Tree: irritation of the mouth and mucous membranes, loss of appetite, salivation, vomiting, and possibly diarrhea.
Jerusalem Cherry: loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, salivation, circulatory collapse, dilated pupils, and seizures, weakness or paralysis, difficulty breathing, slow heartbeat
Now, most of us are not going to remember all these symptoms, but you should be aware of the potential danger some houseplants pose, and be conscious of which plants we want to have in our house if we have pets.
If you would like to view images of the plants noted above, you can go to http://www.mercvetmanual.com
Wolves in the wild do it, and dogs in our home do it….I used to have a Chihuahua that would dig the dry stools of out the cat’s litter box, and bury them in our bed.
This was a question that came up from one of my customers this week, and unfortunately it is a pretty natural behavior of many animals, but not one that is appreciated by pet owners…..
The dog in question is a puppy, so more than likely he is just very curious about the world, and since they don’t have hands, dogs use their mouths to explore. Hopefully this is just part of growing up. It has been speculated that dogs will eat feces to supplement their diet, but since many dog, including this one, are well nourished that it is more an exploration that a “self treatment modality”.
Natural or not, it is still disgusting to humans, so most of us will want to try to stop. Like most bad habits, it is easier to prevent than to break the habit.
Be sure to clean up immediately when your dog move his bowels, so you remove the opportunity. Regulate your dog’s diet so that he is eating once or twice a day (if you have a puppy you may need to do 3 small meals daily) so he get’s on a schedule. Also try changing to a higher quality food, unless you are already doing this. More expensive grades of food will have fewer fillers, which makes the bowel movement less frequent and smaller in size). And, believe it or not, more expensive foods will probably eat much less, so the cost is not necessarily significantly higher overall). Be sure to provde stimulation activities for your dog, and plenty of exercise…a tired dog is a good dog!
Another option is to try a commercial product that can be added to the food. These products usually change the taste of the stool so it is less attractive.
If your dog is doing this when he goes out, you can use a 20 to 30 foot check line, and jerk on the line when he starts to eat a stool, issing a a firm “no” at the same tme. Praise him when he stops.
Another option is to rediret him by saying his name and showing a favorite toy, as soon as he starts to bite at the stool (again, timing is everything). You can also run backwards while calling him (that is hard for a dog to resist), and again praise him when he follows.
Another option is the use of a remote controlled device (collar) that emits a scent when activated. The goal is to condition the dog to an aversion with eating the stool. Timing is extremely critical to ensure that the aversion and the behavior are associated with each other
If all else is failing, a muzzle is a short term solution to “break the habit “, but again, this is a short term solution to break the cycle.
Hopefully your dog might try this delicacy once or twice and not do it again (our dogs do’t eat it, just roll in it)….but if this is not the case, there are some things you can do to hopefully eliminate the behavior. But remember, sometimes dog just do “gross things”!