I never mind answering health, behavior or training questions when I get some free time on the computer so please feel free to email me at:


Seasonal Health Tips for Fall

Autumn is a great time of the year for short muzzled breeds. These dogs do not do well in temperatures over 78-80 degrees or temperatures under 38 degrees. This time of the year is great for your dog to accompany you on a little longer than normal walk (still bring along a sports bottle of water for your bully! Bullmastiffs & French Bulldogs have a very short hair coat so they get chilly in the extreme cold; in the heat they have difficulty because of their muzzle size. These breeds have very short muzzles. The muzzle is the dogs air-conditioning system. Humans have the ability to sweat from glands all over our bodies, this is our cooling system. Bullmastiffs & French Bulldogs (as well as all dogs) do not have sweat glands on their body (with the exception of their foot pads) dogs use their nose to cool off through panting. The longer the muzzle (nose) of a dog the better able they are to cool off. But all dogs are MUCH more susceptible to brain damage and death from heat exposure than humans are so if you're not too hot that does not mean that your dog isn't!!
Fall is a time that we get ready for the long cold winters, here in the North East. Often times that includes putting antifreeze in our cars. Be extremely careful with antifreeze (I never keep it at the house, or put it in the car at the house).
Antifreeze is EXTREMELY TOXIC, DEADLY!!! Dogs will willingly drink it because it tastes sweet. There is a chance of saving them (an antidote) if you get them to the vets ASAP!! But if it's been awhile since they drank it, most likely they are not going to make it. It is not a swift death from antifreeze (Ethyleneglychol) but can take 1-3 days to cause death by organ failure. If you are not sure if your dog may have drank antifreeze (and it doesn't take much, just a lick will be toxic!!) take him/her to your vets right away, they can check their urine to tell if they have ingested it or not. NEVER WAIT if you even suspect they may have been exposed to antifreeze! Enough to be deadly to a cat is just for them to walk through some in the driveway and wash themselves later! It is really nasty be safe and keep your pets away!!!
***There is a non-toxic antifreeze available now, but will usually void the warrantee on most cars (but I use it anyway!)
The other fairly common poison that dogs will get into is DECON (rat or rodent poison) or like products containing WARFARIN. Many people will use these products in the fall to avoid rodents coming into to their home via cellar or attic to avoid the cold. Keep it well away from you pets!! DECON or most other rodent poisons work by causing massive bleeding without clotting factor. They bleed to death is how it kills rodents, and can also kill your pets the same way! There is an antidote for WARFARIN poisoning, injectible Vitamin K. You must take your pet to your veterinarian right away if you suspect they have eaten any of these pellets, don't wait until they get a nose bleed, because it may be too late!!
One thing is Bullmastiffs are big, and it would take a good amount of pellets to be fatal for them, but even if you suspect they have eaten even a pellet or two, take them to the vets anyway!
These pellets must taste good and they will attract dogs & sometimes cats just like they attract rodents. So KEEP OUT OF REACH OF YOUR PETS!
Another season related issue is mushrooms, they grow when it is damp out and will flourish in fallen damp leaves, pets will frequently eat these mushrooms if given a chance, although rarely fatal, they can cause mild to severe gastrointestinal problems. So keep an eye out for mushrooms and rake away whenever you find them.
Another common problem in the fall is allergies; leaf molds seem to be one of the biggest offenders for dogs who have allergies. If your dog is suffering and itchy all the time he/she may have this problem. They will be itchy all the time, sometimes even a light touch to their body will cause them to frantically scratch at themselves!
Their hair coat may be dry or brittle with dead skin flakes. They may even experience hair loss.
If your dog is very itchy and experiencing effects of allergies, first check him for fleas, just one flea bite on dog that is allergic can cause a lot of skin problems. To check to see if your dog has fleas or not get a flea comb, and comb the hair (down to the skin) at the base of the neck and on the rump (over hips) if you collect little back specks that resembles pepper in with the hair your dog most likely has fleas, take the paper towel and wet it. Rinse out the excess water and put the black specks onto the damp paper towel, rub in. If it turns a red color then it is positive for fleas. The black specks are digested blood from the dog, since that is what fleas feed on.
I like Front Line to prevent fleas & ticks, but there are several other products on the market.
Always be careful and read the directions when using a flea product!
The other thing you can do is change their diet to a good name brand lamb & rice food (what a difference getting them off beef makes!!) Gradually change their diet to the lamb, turkey, chicken, buffalo or even Kangaroo diets (I have been feeding Natural Balance but at $60.00 a bag boy it adds up!) There are lots of other good foods like Purina ONE, Purina Selects, Iams, Eukanuba, just make sure there is a label that says AAFCO on the bag because that means it's been inspected! To change your dog's diet gradually increase the new food amount while decreasing the old food amount until they have completely switched over to a new food! This will save you and your dog from possible gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea. You may also add a 1/2 teaspoon of Canola oil to their food once a day. A good multi-vitamin like Pet Tabs is always a good idea too. I also give 3-V Caps and Glucosamine to my dogs.

If the itching continues for more than just a day or so, take them to your vet to be checked out, he may want to give them an injection of steroids.

On a much lighter note...shedding is common in the spring and in the fall, you might try giving your dog (about 1/2 a teaspoon) of Canola Oil in their food once a day, and have them on a multivitamin.
This will help condition their skin and hair coat....don't give baths in the cold weather..this will just dry their coat out more!

And watch the Halloween candy...the chocolate especially...for a small dog it wouldn't take a large amount of chocolate to be toxic (chocolate is toxic in dogs) one of those mini candy bars wouldn't be enough to hurt them, but if they ate a bag of chocolate..that could dark chocolate is the most dangerous (if you would like a list of toxic household foods & substances just email me & I'd be happy to email it to you!

Also...since I seem to be on the subject of ingesting toxic substances...Tylenol (I never use the stuff myself!) But Tylenol is EXTREAMLY dangerous in dogs & cats...causes liver failure and ultimately death! If you drop one...make sure you find it...not all medications that are ok for humans are ok for dogs...we metabolize things differently. You can give you dog aspirin; buffered aspirin is the best..make sure it is PLAIN aspirin. Call your vet for recommended amount for your dog’s weight.

Ok..that's all least for now...keep checking I will continue to update these health tips!

One more tip before I go....If you own a black cat...keep them INDOORS for several weeks before Halloween, I know a lot of our clients will tell us their black cats end up missing before Halloween...I don't even want to think of what happens to them, but if you own a black cat...keep them indoors to be safe!! For Thanksgiving keep the Turkey bones well out of your dogs reach! If they do get into turkey bones (this also works for any possible ingested sharp objects like: sticks, glass, plastic, etc) for a French Bulldog slightly pull apart 1-2 'real' cotton balls and for a Bullmastiff slightly pull apart 4-5 "real" cotton balls & mix with a little gravy or broth (anything that will flavor the cotton balls) and feed it to them. How this works is the same way the sharp edges of one of your rings would pick up fibers from cloth or cotton, the cotton balls that you feed your dog will wrap around the sharp edges of the bones or other sharp objects letting them pass through the intestines without causing damage. So the sooner you feed the cotton balls the better chance they will have to work! It will not hurt your dog in any way to feed them the cotton balls if you’re not sure they did eat something sharp, so better to be safe than sorry!



Poisonous Plants

1 = Highly Toxic/Lethal    2 = Moderately Toxic     Others = Don't Know

Achiliea 2

Chenille Plant 2

Groundcherry 1


Precatory Bean

Aconite 1


(seeds/wilting leaves) 1

Heather 1

Meadow Saffron 1

Privet (berries/leaves) 2

Acorns (Oak Tree) 2

Chinaberry 1

Hellebore 1

Milkweed 2

Pyracantha 2

Agapanthus 2

Chinese Lantern 1

Heliatrope 1

Ming Aralia 2

Ranunculus 2

Agave 2

Chockcherry 1

Holly (berries) 2

Mistletoe 2

Rhododendron 1

Allenthus 2

Christmas Rose 1

Horsechestnut 2

Mistletoe (European) 1

Rhubarb (leaves)

Allium 2

Chrysanthuemum 2

Hunny Bush 1

Monk Shod 1

Sage Palm 2

Almond (seeds) 1

Cineraria 2

Hyacinth 2

Morning Glory (seeds) 1

Scarlet Pimpernel 2

Alstroemeria 2

Clematis 2

Hydrangea 1

Mother-in-Law Tongue

Schefflera 2

Amaryllis 2

Clivia 2

Iris (all varieties) 2

Mountain Laurel 2

Shasta Daisy 2

Anemone 2

Coffee Plant 2

Ivy (all varieties) 2


(various types)

Skunk Cabbage 2

Angel's Trumpet 1

Coffeeberry 2


Myoparum 1

Snake Plant 2

Apple (seeds) 1

Columbine 2

Jade Plant 2

Myrtle 2

Snowdrop 2

Apricot (pits) 1

Copperleaf/Firetail 2

Japanese Aucuba 2

Naked Lady 2

St. Johnswort 1

Arboryitae 2

Coralberry 2

Jafrapha 2

Narcissus (bulb) 2

Star-of-Bethlehem 1

Azalea 1

Coral Plant 2

Jequirity Bean

(rosary bean/pea) 1

Nectarine (pits) 1

String of Beads/Pearls 2

Barberry 2

Coral Tree 1

Jerusalem Cherry 1

Nerine 2

Sweet Pea (seeds) 2

Begonia 2

Crabapple (seeds) 1

Jessomine (all varieties) 1

New Zealand Laurel 2

Tassel Flower 1

Belladonna 1

Creeping Charlie

Jimson Weed 1


(all varieties) 1

Tobacco (flowering) 1

Birch Tree 2


Jonquil (bulb) 2

Oleander 1

Tobacco (tree) 1

Bird of Paradise 2

Craton 2

Juniper 2

Onion 1


(green fruit/leaves/stem) 1

Bitterswwet 2

Crown of Thorns 2

Laburnum 2

Ornithogalum 1

Toyon 1

Black Cherry (seeds) 1

Cyclamen 2

Lantana 1

Pampas Grass 1

Tree of Heaven 2

Black Locust (seeds) 1

Daffadil (bulb) 2

Laurel Cherry 1

Pansy (seeds) 2

Tubeross 2

Boxwood 2

Daisy 2

Larkspur 1

Pasque Flower 2

Tulip (bulb) 2

Broom 2

Daphne 1

Lenten Rose 1

Pear (seeds) 2

Umbrella Plant/Tree 2

Buckeye (all varieties) 2

Delphium 1

Ligustrum 2


(pits/wilting leaves) 2

Vinca 1

Buckthorn 2


(various types)

Lily (most varieties) 2

Pencil Tree 2

Violet (seeds) 2

Burning Bush 2

Dusty Miller 2

Lily (checkered) 1

Periwinkle 1

Virginia Creeper

Butterfly Weed 2

Echlum 1

Lily (climbing) 1

Philadendron 1

Water Hemlock 1

Bushman's Poison 1


(green fruit) 1

Lily (glory) 1

Pieris (Japanese) 1

Windflower 2

Buttercup 2

English Laurel 1

Lily-of-the-Valley 1

Pittasporum 1

Wintersweet 2

Camphor Tree 2

Eucalyptus 2

Lobella 1

Plum (pits) 1

Wisteria 2

Cardinal Flower 1

Firethorn 2

Loqust (seeds) 1

Poinsettia 2

Yarrow 2

Carnation 2

Four-O'clock 2

Lupine 1

Poison Hemlock 1

Yew 2

Caralina Cherry 1

Foxglove 1

Macadamia Nuts (6 sm nuts can kill) (New!)

Poke Weed 2

Castor Bean 1

Gladiolus 2

Marguerite Daisy 2

Poppy 2

Century Plant 2

Golden Chain Tree 2


Potato Plant

(leaves/stem) 1

Cestrum 1

Gopher Plant 2

Marsh Marigold 2

Pothos (various types)


Recently with the humid weather & thunderstorms I've noticed a crop of mushrooms of various (unknown) varieties sprouting up in the back yard, some are so small they literally hide under blades of grass! If your dogs like to graze like mine do they could be at risk of mushroom poisoning, I don't know enough about identifying one mushroom from another, and even experts can be fooled by toxic look alikes so I always give the dogs activated charcoal caps (I give at least 2 each to the dogs over 100 lbs) when they come in the house to be safe. The activated charcoal will absorb any irritants, toxins or gas they might have, also from plant ingestion where there can be a lot of plants that are also toxic or irritants. I almost lost a dog to mushrooms a couple summers ago & do not take any chances. If you know your dog actually ate a toxic mushroom give the activated charcoal & call your vet, make sure you tell them you gave the charcoal only because it can also absorb oral medications for 45 min to up to 2 hours. Your vet will have injectable medications they can give instead of orals and will use injectables in most cases of GI problems anyway so you're always safer giving the activated charcoal as soon as possible. I always recommend keeping a box handy in your house & car!

Note: Keep in mind Activated Charcoal works by absorbing toxins or irritants and it does a fantastic job however it will also absorb medications given orally-so if your dog is taking medication for anything the Activated Charcoal will not have any contraindications with any medications however it will absorb them & your dog will not benefit from them if given close together-wait approx. 2 hours after giving Activated Charcoal before giving your dog's medication that way you know your dog will get full benefit from their medication!

The worst thing charcoal does is color the stools black for up to 48 hours after giving it, otherwise black colored stool (if you haven't given charcoal or Pepto-Pepto will do the same thing) then it could be a sign of GI bleeding & your dog should be seen by your vet as soon as possible, always bring a stool sample with you because Hook & Whip worms are common culprits.

Here's an article about mushrooms although they will vary geographically.

Many Wags,


Cool It! Summer's Heat Can Be Deadly for Your Pet

Americans have a love affair with their cars—and their pets. During the summer months, however, the combination can be deadly.

Heatstroke might have killed a litter of kittens if Kim Intino, manager of HSUS's Animal Services Consultation Program, hadn't noticed their frantic movements while walking through a mall parking lot in upstate New York. The kittens, trapped inside a parked car on a hot, humid summer afternoon, were "literally throwing themselves against the car doors trying to get out." Their open-mouth panting and desperate attempts to escape the vehicle were signals to Intino, at the time an animal caretaker at a veterinary office, that the kittens were in real danger.

Intino immediately contacted mall security to have the owner of the vehicle paged. But before the owner arrived, Intino convinced a security guard to force the locks on the vehicle open, possibly saving the cats' lives. "Their bodies were very limp, and they were gasping for air when we got them out," she says.

The kittens were lucky. They survived. Many pets aren't so fortunate.

The Dog Days of Summer

Common sense tells most people that leaving their pet inside a parked vehicle on a hot, summer day could be dangerous after an extended period of time. But most people don't realize that the temperature can skyrocket after just a few minutes. Parking in the shade or leaving the windows cracked does little to alleviate this pressure cooker.

On a warm, sunny day windows collect light, trapping heat inside the vehicle, and pushing the temperature inside to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree Fahrenheit day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within ten minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. At 110 degrees, pets are in danger of heatstroke. On hot and humid days, the temperature in a car parked in direct sunlight can rise more than 30 degrees per minute, and quickly become lethal.

A recent study by the Stanford University School of Medicine showed that temperatures inside cars can rise dramatically even on mild days. With outside temperatures as low as 72 degrees, researchers found that a car's interior temperature can heat up by an average of 40 degrees within an hour, with 80% of that increase in the first 30 minutes. A cracked window provides little relief from this oven effect. The Stanford researchers found that a cracked window had an insignificant effect on both the rate of heating and the final temperature after an hour.

Pets, more so than humans, are susceptible to overheating. While people can roll down windows, turn on the air conditioner or exit the vehicle when they become too hot, pets cannot. And pets are much less efficient at cooling themselves than people are.

Dogs, for example, are designed to conserve heat. Their sweat glands, which exist on their nose and the pads of their feet, are inadequate for cooling during hot days. Panting and drinking water helps cool them, but if they only have overheated air to breathe, dogs can suffer brain and organ damage after just 15 minutes. Short-nosed breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, young pets, seniors or pets with weight, respiratory, cardiovascular or other health problems are especially susceptible to heat-related stress.

Pets on the Move

While it used to be that our animals stayed home to guard the couch, increasingly dogs, cats and other pets are going along for the ride, whether tagging along during errands or putting in major mileage during the family vacation. The high number of animals on the road means that awareness and vigilance are essential for protecting pets from parking-lot peril. Help spread the word by following these tips:

  • Remind friends to keep their pets at home during the summer months if they'll be going anywhere pets are not allowed.
  • Educate others by distributing posters or by leaving brochures on windshields. The HSUS has posters, available for a nominal fee ($3 for 10/ $5 for 25), that store managers can post inside their windows to remind shoppers that "Leaving Your Pet in a Parked Car Can Be a Deadly Mistake." Similar, 4" x 9" hot car flyers are also available (50 for $3) at the address below. For a sample brochure, send a SASE to HSUS/Hot Cars, 2100 L St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20037.
  • Get involved. If you see a pet in a parked car during a summer day, go to the nearest store and have the owner paged. Enlist the help of a local police officer or security guard or call the local police department and animal control office.

Deb Antoniades, of Monroe County, New York is an animal lover who not only keeps her own pets at home when the temperatures rise, but who is vigilant about keeping other animals safe as well. "I keep a stack of photocopies in my glove compartment of an article about the dangers of leaving a dog in your car in the summer—even with the windows open. I leave [the articles] under the windshield wiper of any car I notice with a dog left inside. I've called 911 a couple of times as well."

Taking Action

In case of an emergency, it's important to be able to identify the symptoms of heat stress caused by exposure to extreme temperatures. Check the animal for signs of heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, and unconsciousness.

If the animal shows symptoms of heatstroke, take steps to gradually lower her body temperature immediately. Follow these tips, and it could save her life:

  • Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
  • Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or immerse her in cool (not cold) water.
  • Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
  • Take her directly to a veterinarian.

In many states, it's against the law to leave a pet unattended in a parked vehicle in a manner than endangers the health or safety of the animal. Despite these laws, not to mention a basic common sense that should guide most pet owners during the summer, companion animals die every year from heatstroke. The worst part is knowing that each death was preventable. That's why sharing this information is so important. Summers, after all, are truly supposed to be carefree.

Summer Care Tips for You and Your Pets

Coping with the Bites and Stings of Nature’s Creatures

The welcome months of spring and summer bring lush green lawns, warm days and pleasant nights, fragrant flowers and thoughts of relaxing vacations.  Unfortunately, they also bring those ever-present and annoying insects and creatures of all kinds.  We humans are used to shielding ourselves from insects and reptiles in a variety of ways, to avoid being stung or bitten. Our pets, however, are unaware that these unwelcome pests can become a source of danger.

  • Defense Strategies

    When the weather begins to warm up, out come fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, wasps, bees, yellow jackets, fire ants and snakes – sometimes armies of them.  They are all ready to attack us and animals, infest our homes and cause itching, illness or even death in some situations. The best way to combat these pests is to prevent or avoid them in the first place.  Discuss with your veterinarian the safest products or procedures to use toward preventing these unwanted guests. Some common preventive methods include:

    • Use flea, tick and heartworm prevention; some flea and tick preventives also contain a mosquito repellant. Eliminate standing pools of water and keep water bowls fresh, to avoid mosquitoes.
    • Don’t use ‘human’ mosquito repellants, especially those containing the ingredient DEET, on animals, as they can cause neurological problems.
    • Learn about ways to attract birds to inhabit your area, since many of these species eagerly feed on mosquitoes.
    • Keep your dog leashed on walks and stay on open pathways where snakes can be visible.  Watch for fire ant nests on the ground.
    • Don’t allow your dog to explore in holes in the ground, or dig under logs or other objects where snakes or yellow jacket nests might be hidden.
    • Keep nighttime walks to a minimum, as some rattlesnakes and some other snake species are nocturnal for much of the year.
    • After your dog has been in an area you suspect is populated by ticks, thoroughly comb him within four to six hours to help prevent ticks from attaching.
    • Avoid long walks at dawn and dusk, when many insects are most active.
    • Watch for spiders in basements, garages, woodpiles and brush.

    Be on the Alert for Stings

    If you suspect that your pet has been stung or bitten by an insect, it’s always best to call your veterinarian immediately for advice on what to do. 

    Dogs are most often stung on their face or paws and these stings can be extremely painful -- sometimes you can’t immediately tell what is wrong.  A dog that has been stung will often become agitated, run around shaking his head or pawing at his muzzle.  If stung in or around his mouth or throat, swelling can constrict your dog’s airway and be life-threatening. Multiple stings can also cause major problems, such as anaphylactic shock.  Signs of shock can vary but may include depression, breathing problems, pale gums and a weak pulse.

    If your dog is stung by fire ants, remove him from the area and brush off any ants remaining on him.  Don’t spray them off with water, as they will hang on with their jaws and continue to sting.

    Spider bites can be quite dangerous to dogs.  Although generally harmless, there are several varieties of spiders that can cause severe problems. Some spider venom contains digestive enzymes that can damage skin tissue, causing a wound to grow quickly with a secondary infection.

    Be certain to inspect your dog often for ticks (cousins to spiders) that can also pose a threat to your dog’s good health.  They can also carry and spread blood-borne diseases, such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tick Paralysis. 

    These kinds of injuries are covered under the AKC Pet Healthcare Plan. The costs of treatment can quickly add up, especially if your dog has had a life-threatening situation. PetPartners paid a claim of over $2,200 for the hospitalization of Piano, a dog in California, after she was attacked by a swarm of bees in her backyard.  After several days in intensive care and three blood transfusions, Piano amazed everyone and survived this potentially fatal attack.

    Things That Slither and Bite

    Treatment for a snake bite can be quite expensive and vials of antivenom can cost as much as $750 or more.  We see many claims for snake bites; some recent claims included, $2,783 for a German Shepherd Dog bitten by a snake, $1,895 for a Labrador Retriever bitten by a Rattlesnake and $1,262 for another Labrador Retriever bitten by a snake.

    Snakes are beneficial to our environment because they control the rodent population, among many other reasons.  In general, they prefer to be left alone and avoid conflict.  If your dog is bitten by a snake, try to identify it, without getting bitten yourself, as identification is important in determining treatment.  Notice the snake’s head shape (triangular vs. oval), coloration, markings, size, and whether or not it has a rattle at the end of its tail.  Keep your dog as quiet as possible, since movement spreads snake venom.  If you’re out on a hike, carry or walk your dog to the car at a normal pace and do not let your dog run.  Snakebites are very painful, so be careful -- even a loving dog may bite when it’s in pain. 

    Plan Ahead and Be Prepared for the Unexpected

    Planning ahead for unforeseen medical emergencies can help make them more manageable when they occur, with better outcomes.  Pet healthcare insurance can significantly help you manage the cost of veterinary care and preventive measures and save you money in the long run. 

    The range of AKC Pet Healthcare Plans* offers quality and affordable coverage for as little as 68 cents a day, far less than the cost of a soft drink at a fast food restaurant.  You can choose the Essential Plan that covers unexpected illnesses or injuries up to $11,000 for treatment costs per year, at $20.75 a month, or higher levels of protection with Essential Plus (for a higher cost).  You may be interested in plans that, in addition to accident and illness coverage, also offer reimbursement towards those wellness measures that can add up to $500 or more a year. The Wellness Plans are designed to provide coverage up to $13,000 for treatment costs a year, and this includes flea, tick and heartworm prevention, as well as an annual physical exam, annual dental cleaning and prescribed vaccinations. The Wellness Plus option also offers additional coverage for spaying/neutering.   

    Seeking a veterinarian’s advice first is important if you have any questions about your dog’s health.  If you program your veterinarian’s emergency phone number into your cell phone, you’ll have it close at hand if something happens to your dog and you’re away from home.

    If a friend or sitting service is caring for your dog during your absence, discuss in advance your dog’s health history and potential health emergencies, as well as any medications they are taking.  Make certain your veterinarian’s contact information -- and the phone number for the closest emergency veterinary room -- are clearly posted.  Be prepared and be safe – not sorry.


    Despite the huge number of hazardous plants and materials out there, I have noticed that three of them seem to be more commonly ingested by pets than the others. So, although I encourage you to be proactive about protecting your pet from all potential poisons, please be especially aware of these three.

  • Chocolate. Toxicity depends on the size of the pet, the type of chocolate consumed (darker chocolate is more dangerous than lighter chocolate), and the amount of chocolate that is eaten. Severe intoxication with chocolate can lead to irregular heart rhythms and death. Many dogs seem to find chocolate just as delicious as we humans do. Sadly, for dogs chocolate can be much worse than a guilty pleasure.


  • Rat and mouse poisons (rodenticides). Even small amounts of rodenticide can be deadly to cats and dogs. The most commonly used rodenticides cause internal bleeding. There is an antidote, but it must be administered rapidly to prevent severe illness or death.


  • Chewing gum. This is a relatively new player in the world of pet poisons. Not all chewing gum is toxic. However, several popular brands contain a sweetener called Xylitol.. Xylitol can cause dangerously low blood sugar in dogs. It also has been linked to liver damage.

    I recommend that pets never be allowed access to any poisons. However, please be especially careful with the three listed above. Dogs are more likely than cats to be exposed to each of these poisons because they are less selective about what they eat.

    If you suspect that your pet has consumed any poisonous product, contact a veterinarian immediately. Acting quickly can help to prevent serious consequences.

    If possible, always bring the packaging from the product that was consumed, as well as any remaining product to the veterinarian’s office when you seek treatment. This will help the vet to positively identify the type and amount of toxin consumed.

    Remember, however, that the best way to keep your pet safe from poisons is to make sure he or she does not have access to them in the first place.

    Building a World of Better Dog Breeders

    Bloat Survey 2010


    Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) is a condition that occurs in dogs when the stomach becomes distended with air, and then while dilated, twists on itself. This interferes with the blood supply to the stomach and other digestive organs, and blocks the passage of food, leading to bloat. The distended stomach impedes the normal return of blood to the heart, causing drastically reduced cardiac output and a decrease in blood pressure. Blood and oxygen are deprived from tissues which in turn causes them to begin to die, releasing toxins into the blood stream which among other adverse effects, cause serious disturbances in heart rhythms (cardiac arrhythmias) - a common cause of death.

    Simple gastric dilatation does not produce volvulus (twisting). Current thinking has been that the dogs most susceptible to GDV are the large, deep-chested breeds, which have a cavity and space for the stomach to be more mobile within the abdomen. Other factors that have been accepted as risk for GDV include overeating, rapid eating, single daily feeding, high water consumption, stress, and exercise after eating

    The Abstract of the most recent study (2010) by Marko Pipan, Dorothy Cimino Brown, Carmelo L. Battaglia and Cynthia M. Otto follows.

    Bloat phases and symptoms phase 1

    1. Pacing, restlessness, panting and salivating.
    2. Unproductive attempts to vomit (every 10-20 minutes).
    3. Abdomen exhibits fullness and is beginning to enlarge.

    ACTIONS: Call Veterinarian to advise of bloat while in route. Transport dog to Veterinarian immediately!

    Bloat phases and symptoms phase 2

    1. Restless, whining, panting continuously, heavy salivating.
    2. Unproductive attempts to vomit (every 2-3 minutes).
    3. Dark red gums.
    4. High heart rate (180 to 210 BPM).
    5. Abdomen is enlarged and tight, emits hollow sound when thumped.

    ACTIONS: Transport dog to Veterinarian immediately.

    Bloat phases and symptoms phase 3

    1. Gums are white or blue
    2. Dog unable to stand or have a spread-legged, shaky stance.
    3. Abdomen is very enlarged.
    4. Extremely high heart rate (200 BPM or greater) and weak pulse.

    ACTIONS: Get to a Veterinarian. Death is often imminent!

    Dogs may go from phase 1 - 3 bloat in a very short time. Some have known to do it in minutes!

    Data taken from a more recent study (2010) will be reported in the months ahead.

    The study has been titled: "Risk factors for surgical gastric dilatation-volvulus in dogs: an internet-based survey"

    The investigators are: Marko Pipan, DVM1; Dorothy Cimino Brown, DVM, MSCE, DACVS1; Dr. Carmelo L. Battaglia, PhD2; Cynthia M. Otto, DVM, PhD, DACVECC1

    1. Section of Critical Care (Pipan, Otto) Section of Surgery (Brown), Department of Clinical Studies-Philadelphia, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 3900 Delancey Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
    2. American Kennel Club, 260 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016

    Until the final report is published only a limited amount of summary information is available. The following is the abstract of the manuscript submitted to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association for consideration.


    Objective – To evaluate risk factors for gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) in a large number of privately-owned dogs across a wide geographic area. Design – Internet-based case-control survey. Animals – 2551 privately-owned dogs.

    Procedures – Respondents were recruited by posting the electronic link to the survey on websites for dog owners; the information was also disseminated at meetings of dog owners, newsletters and email lists for dog owners and breeders, owner-oriented dog publications, and through emails forwarded by participants. The questionnaire addressed dog specific, management, environmental and personality associated risk factors for GDV in dogs.

    Results – Factors significantly associated with an increased risk of GDV were being fed dry kibble. Other related factors were found to be: anxiety, being born in the 1990s, being a family pet, and spending at least 5 hours a day with the owner. Factors associated with a decreased risk of GDV were playing with other dogs and running the fence after meals, fish and egg dietary supplements, and spending equal time indoors and outdoors. A significant interaction between sex and neuter status was observed with intact females having the highest risk for GDV.

    Conclusions and Clinical Relevance – In dogs with a high risk of GDV, regular moderate daily and postprandial activity appears to be beneficial. Feeding only commercial dry dog food may not be the best choice for dogs at risk; however supplements with fish or eggs may reduce this risk. The effect of neuter status on GDV risk requires further characterization 



    The Importance of Good Positioning
    on Canine Hip X-rays

    I would like to thank Dr. Jane Brakken for help with my dogs and
    allowing me the use of her x-ray room to take these photos.

    Hip Dysplasia (another article on the subject)
    Terrible Hip Positioning
    The positioning is so bad in this x-ray that the dogs owner
    should have refused to pay for it.

    The purpose of this article is to teach the average dog owner how to determine if a hip x-ray is done properly on their dog’s hips. The article will demonstrate correct positioning and poor positioning. It will show 2 different sets of x-rays done on the same dog on the same day. One set has good positioning, the second set has poor positioning. You will see that with poor positioning, a dogs hips can look worse than they actually are. You will also see that no matter what you do with positioning you can never make a bad hip into a good hip.

    The photo of the hip x-ray above (labeled good positioning) was done on a 10 month old German Shepherd from my kennel. While the dog is slightly angled on the x-ray plate, the positioning for the hips is pretty good. The photo below (the same photo as above) shows the various points on an x-ray to look at to determine if the dog was positioned properly.

    Good Positioning
    Good Positioning

    Because this article is directed to the general public, I will not attempt to use the proper medical names for a lot of the terminology in this article.

    The first thing to look at in an x-ray is to see if the legs come straight down from the hips with the knee caps square and looking alike. We don't want to see one leg straight and the other going off at an angle.

    The above photo has 3 sets of colored arrows (green, yellow and red).

    The green arrows above point to the bone that the hip socket is built into. These bones almost look like wings. You will notice that you can see more of the wing on the right than the wing on the left. When the position is 100% perfect, both wings will look exactly alike.

    The yellow arrows point to holes in the bone structure. When the body positioning is correct the 2 holes on the left side are the same shape and size as the holes on the right side. The positioning is good on this dog, but not 100% perfect. That's why the holes on the right are slightly different than the left. This is most noticeable in the lower right hole being smaller than the left side lower hole.

    The red arrows above are the first things I look at when examining an x-ray. They point to the amount of pelvis bone that is covered by the leg bones on the x-ray. If you look at the pelvis, you can see that with the legs fully extended straight down, the legs overlay the very corners or tips of the pelvis. You can see the overlap through the leg bone. The picture above shows an even amount of overlap on both sides of the pelvis. The photo below shows a much larger overlap on the left of the screen than on the right of the screen. This is poor positioning.

    Poor positioning

    The photo above is the same dog only a different x-ray than the first one. This second x-ray has poor positioning. Notice how much more the pelvic overlaps the leg bone (the green arrows) on the left than on the right. The result is the hip is pulled further out of the socket (the single red arrow) because of poor positioning.

    poor positioning

    The x-ray above is an example of poor positioning. Again this is the same dog as the good x-rays above. The dog is rotated. You can see the upper right hole through the body cavity is noticeably smaller on the right than the left. The pelvic wing under the leg is noticeably larger on the left than the right.

    poor positioning

    This photo graphically shows the results of poor positioning. This photo shows the same hip joint on the same dog x rayed on the same day. The hip in the red circle is a much deeper seated ball in the socket than the picture in the yellow box (which had poor positioning to produce this results).

    Some people ask how the difference can be so dramatic. My feeling is that these are young dogs. They have loose ligaments (just like a young child). If I took some of the falls that my eleven year old does I would have numerous broken bones. It’s the same with our dogs. As they get older their ligaments are not as loose and they will probably not stretch as much. There may not be as much of a difference in older dogs. But at a young age positioning is critical.

    The importance on positioning is often over looked by the vet that is shooting the films. There may be a number of reasons for this:

    • It could be lack of experience doing hip x-rays.
    • It could be a money issue with him. To shoot another x-ray because he made a mistake costs him money.
    • It could be that by the time the x-ray is developed and he realizes the position wasn't that good, the animal is gone or awake from being knocked out.

    In my opinion, none of these are good reasons. To get good x-rays you have to have a good vet. I have a couple of local vets that are very good with x-rays. If they make a mistake they re shoot it at their expense. We just recently started to see the OFA send x-rays back to the vets because of poor positioning. When this starts to happen on a consistent basis, we will start to see much better x-rays of the dogs.

    Over the years I have seen some absolutely terrible jobs of x-raying dogs. As time goes by I will continue to add poor x-rays to this article so people can learn what to look for.

    There are several operations that are being done today to correct a bad hip and allow the dog to live a normal life. The x-ray below is an example of what a hip can look like after the operation. This operation needs to be done at an early age.

    hip xrays

    hip xrays

    This is a photo of a very bad set of hips. It's questionable if surgery could even correct this dog’s problem. These are hips from an 8-month old German Shepherd that came from a back yard breeder. A dog with hips like this should be put down. It is facing a life of pain.

    hip xrays

    hip xrays

    The 2 x-rays above are of the same dog (a Border Collie). The top x-ray was taken at 8 months of age. The lower x-ray was taken at 4 years of age. This can give you an idea of what will happen to bad hips over time. Notice the thickening of the neck of the joint. The ball also shows signs of arthritis. This dog is living as a house dog where her exercise is monitored. When the pain gets bad she is given Rymadil and this seems to make her comfortable.

    Same Dog 9 Months Apart

    Here are photos of 2 different x-rays taken of the same dog taken 9 months apart. The first x-ray showed the dog having bad hips. If you look closely you will see the positioning is not correct. It's not that bad but it is also not perfect.

    hip xrays

    Taken Sept 2002

    The second photo below shows the dog with good hips. The positioning has been improved and this has made a big difference in how the x-rays look.

    hip xrays

    Taken June 2003

    My advice to anyone would be to not accept incorrect positioning of any kind. Discuss this with the vet before the x-ray. Show him this article if he has any questions. I personally will not pay for a bad x-ray.

    I recently had a similar situation with a young dog that I x rayed at 6 months. The picture did not look that good but the rest of the litter was good. So I redid the X-ray at 9 months and saw an entirely different x-ray. The dog will pass OFA if the x-ray stays the same.

    I would also recommend swimming a dog to build muscle mass if there is any question on the hips. The better condition a dog is in the better chance of a good x-ray. I have a friend who has watched the OFA on a yearly basis. She has noticed that there are more bad hips in the winter months than summer months.

    For me this translates into dogs not being in as good physical condition in the winter months as the summer. In the future I will not be x-raying dogs in the winter. I will also make sure that my dogs are in excellent condition when the x-rays are taken.

    The Following are 3 x-rays of the same dog done at different times.

    terrible hip positioning

    January - 2003


    hip xrays

    Positioning still not correct - look at right hip

    hip xrays

    May 2003 Better but not perfect. Look at the right hip in all three shots.

    hip xrays

    This is the worst case of hip positioning that I have ever seen. The Vet that took them and gave them to the customer should get out of the business.


    What you can do to prevent bad hips

    With all this said - if you are reading this article and are asking yourself what you can do to make sure your dog has healthy hips? The SV in Germany (the German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany) has proven that genetics is only responsible for about 25% of the bad hips in dogs. This means that 70% to 75% of the bad hips are caused by environmental issues.

    There are things that help:

    1- Keep your dog thin - when I say thin I mean you need to see a definition between the ribs and loins of your dog. I cannot stress this enough. The more weight a dog carries the more pressure on the hips. This is extremely important when the dog is growing (between 8 weeks and 18 months)

    2- Do not over exercise your young dog. DO NOT TAKE A PUPPY JOGGING !!! Not until its older than one year of age. Over exercise is the fastest way to destroy hips.

    3- Feed a quality all-natural diet. If you don’t want to feed a raw diet at least feed it an all-natural commercial diet. I have an article on the various commercial kibble - we also sell one of the best called "Honest Kitchen" We have fed this for years and feel that it's the best we can find.

    We stress the diet with our puppy customers and it has made a huge difference

    4- If you have a question about subluxation in a young dog - SWIM the dog!! Take the dog swimming every day for 3 or 4 months before you have x-rays taken. Swimming is the best exercise you can do for a dog. It is way better than jogging the dog. When you stop and think that subluxation means the head of the femur is loose in the socket - does it not make sense to exercise the dog so the muscles and ligaments tighten up the dog as much as possible.

    5- We give our dogs 99% Glucosamine supplements - we also sell it to customers click here for details. The fact is I take the same product myself (in orange juice)

    The fact is you can do all of the things mentioned above and still get bad hips. That’s the sad thing. I have bred over 350 litters in 30 years, the dogs I breed have good hips 6 to 10 generations and we will occasionally get a bad hip. I will say that the percentage of hip problems in our kennel is much much less than breeders who do not follow this protocol.



    hip xrays

    The x-rays above were sent to me in Feb. 2006. They are the worst example of hip positioning I have ever seen. The Vet that took these should give up his day job and seek another career.

    hip xrays

    hip xrays
    The above 2 pictures are of awful positioning. The hips are bad however, and no matter how they were positioned it would not have made them look any better.


    QUESTION on Hip Positioning:


    My breeder sent me the link to your web site to view x-rays - specifically positioning. (She has been breeding Bernese Mountain Dogs for over 30 years, specifically for performance dogs, not conformation).

    The attached digital photos of x-rays are of my 9 month old Bernese Mountain Dog's hips, (9 months old today, Jan 21, 2007) - the films were taken December 30, 2006. He injured his legging running in the back yard on December 28, was not putting weight on it, I took him into my vet on December 30....the vet took the attached x-rays. I went back and took digital photos of the x-rays to email to my breeder. My breeder and I have been discussing....she says she is shocked my vet would even let me see these x-rays...they are some of the worse positioning she has ever seen.

    I had the dog on pain pills for a week and he is now on supplements. Also have an appointment on March 19th, 2007, at the regional vet school in this area (Virginia-Maryland Vet School, in Blacksburg, VA) to have preliminary OFA x-rays taken.

    The digital photos are of only TWO x-rays, his hips and his (supposedly) hyper extended left knee.

    If you have a minute, please give me your input on these films?

    Thank you,


    The photo of the hips is below. This person needs to find a new vet. This is a case of really terrible positioning.

    canine hip xray

    Comments on the Hip X-ray article


    Thank you for that article on hip positioning. I have an associate degree in Veterinary technology that i received in 1990, radiology has always been a passion of mine. You are so correct!!!! I have worked for so many vets who do not know how to take proper x-rays and even worse they hire people off the street to do it for them and instead of training them the right way to do it or pay a little more money for an educated person to work for them. They count on owners being un-educated. I have been telling people this for years. I breed Labradors now, and my vet and i have a good

    understanding she takes 2 x-rays of hips for me tells me her opinion then give me x-rays and i can choose which one i want to send to OFA. But i must say she does a great job.

    Thanks again for educating the public and i think everyone should get a 2nd opinion before doing major hip surgery. AND I SO AGREE with you i have seen dogs with moderate hips dysplasia not show any signs of weakness simply from being able to swim to build there muscles.
    Swimming Dogs is the best physical therapy.


    TESTIMONIAL on hip x-ray article

    October 15, 1998

    My name is Goran and I'm living in south Sweden, I have been struggling with the result of bad position with the Swedish Kennel Club.

    After reading your article and taken part of your excellent photos I have succeeded to get a veterinarian to take some new x-rays and our champion Parson Jack Russell Terrier dog has been upgraded from mild hip dysplasia on one hip and excellent on the other to excellent on both hips. I would like to thank you for the help that your article have given me.

    I'm planning to write a article in our club magazine and also in the Swedish Kennel Clubs monthly magazine and if I can use your photos it will be very helpful for my work. I will also like to refer to your article if you don't have any objections about it.

    All the best and thank you again.



    Hi Mr. Frawley,

    Over Christmas break we noticed our dog, Abbey (one year old yellow lab) had a limp on her back right let that wouldn't go away. I took her into the vet and the vet established that at least one hip, more than likely, had displaces. We brought our dog in to our vet for x-rays and we were told," both of her hips show a loose joint on palpation. Knees tight. On the x-rays her left hip is nearly out of place. The right side is in place but is also affected. At this time there are only a few minor changes associated with chronic dysplasia." We were told she would be, "a good candidate for any of the corrective surgical procedures for hips." I started doing some research and luckily came across your article. After reading your article, I tried to determine whether or not her x-rays were bad. In the x-ray, her legs do not appear straight, one is bent more than the other. There is also no overlap with the pelvis bone and the leg bone at all. There does however appear to be the same amount of space between the tip of the pelvis bone and leg bone. Also, the holes in the bone structure are fairly symmetrical.

    Our vet is in Delaware and a surgeon was recommended who is also in Delaware. I feel really confused about what to do. We were both shocked because our dog came with papers. I beginning to realize that doesn't mean a whole lot. I am just going to do what I need to on my end to make sure our dogs parents don't breed again. If you can give any advice I would greatly appreciate it. I hope to hear from you.



    The fact that your dog has papers means absolutely nothing in terms of hip dysplasia. The AKC is a joke in that regard. They do not require dogs to have their hips x-rayed before they can be bred. This organization holds itself up as the ultimate supporter of pure bred dogs yet they allow people to breed dogs with bad hips. It’s a money thing and nothing else

    With that said I cannot comment on what you should do. It sounds like the x-rays are good. You need to follow the advice of your Vet if you think he or she is reputable. It sounds like this is the case.

    The smartest thing you can do is to keep this dog skinny. Skinny to the point of seeing a definition between the ribs and the loin. Skinny to the point where people (who know little about dogs) tell you your dog is too thin. Not only is this healthier for the dog it is much easier on what's left of the hips.

    Then allow this dog to swim as much as you possibly can in the summer. Swimming is the best exercise there is for dogs with bad hips. It builds muscle without hurting the skeletal structure.

    I would also highly recommend an all-natural diet. You can read about it on my web site. Look in the list of training articles on my web site at Keep the dog on Glucosamine. We just added a liquid Glucosamine product to our product line. The liquid far out performs powdered products. The body absorbs it much better than the powder.

    Good luck with your dog. I hope it turns out OK.

    To Top




    I wish I would have taken your article in to my vets this morning. I had my seven month old German Shepherd spayed today along with hip x-rays. The vet said the hips were in very poor condition and showed the x-rays. He said they looked so bad that he re-x-rayed her standing when she was awake and they were just as bad. Your article doesn't mention anything about hip x-rays and the dog standing up. What is your thought on that?! At first I was in an absolute panic. He said she'd need major hip surgery in three months if they didn't improve. Now, I'm researching it a bit more before I do anything drastic.

    -- Thanks Shelly


    Find a new Vet. Seriously. In 42 years of owning GSD’s I have never heard of hip x-rays when a dog is standing. This Vet is full of you-know-what.

    You have the photos of correct positioning from this article I wrote. You do not have to be a Vet to figure out if the guy gave you a good set of x-rays.

    To Top


    I have a 10 week old GSD and I took him to the vet for the first time and the vet did some sort of pulling test on the dogs legs to check for a hip problem. My pup yelped loudly and now the vet wants to do X-rays and thinks there is potentially a problem. The vet says that if there is something wrong they are going to fuse the bones together to prevent future problems.

    Do you see anything wrong with this? Any concerns or comments would be appreciated. Thank You


    Find a new vet- seriously !! This guy is full of beans. I have bred dogs for 30 years – over 340 litters. This is total BULL on a 10 week old puppy. This is a perfect example of a crooked vet trying to get his hand in your wallet.

    To Top




    Hope all is well. I sent you a message about a year and a half ago reference my dog's hips. The vet was saying he was a candidate for the Pen hip surgery and his hips were not very good... this evaluation came after a physical evaluation at 4 months of age. Your reply was to get a new vet and tell her to get her head out of her ass.... I took your advise. I just received my dog's OFA results... OFA Good. Thanks for your advise.

    PS My dog is out of Valco Vom Leerburg (Dago) - Jon Wycoff, and Zalinde Vom Leerburg (Frankie) - Jon Wycoff.

    To Top


    Hi Ed,

    We would like to get your opinion about something our vet suggested. She would like to do a PennHIP on Dita (Hilde X CJ) and possibly a Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis if required. Is this a viable course of action or a load of crap? We want to do what is best for Dita in both the short and long term.

    Thank you, Rip and Denise


    I have written about PennHIP on my web site. I am not a fan of it and don’t recommend it. It basically measures the degree of laxity in the hip to determine if the dog will be Dysplastic.

    The way I look at this is that young dogs are like young people. They are loose ligamented. I was when I was young and I used to throw my knee caps out. As I aged my ligaments tightened and the problems disappeared. I believe the same thing happens with dogs – they are loose ligamented – not all, but a lot. As they age they tighten.

    When a PennHIP is done on a loose ligamented dog its my opinion that this can give you a false negative reading.

    We will do normal preliminary hip x-rays at 6 to 10 months of age. When we do the OFA we never do it when a female is in season and we try and swim them every day (not run them) for a month before the x-rays to tighten them up).

    I have been breeding dogs for almost 30 years – and never heard of Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis.

    So I would have to wonder if this Vet was trying to get into your wallet.

    To Top





    I was sent your site by a friend who does rescue work with me. Overall the info is very good. But the last letter about the JPS surgery is incorrect. It is the newest surgery for hip dysplasia. It was developed at the university of Wisconsin. It is very very new. The long term studies are still being done.

    I am sorry you have such a high disregard for veterinarians that you deem it a money making scheme by a vet vs sound medical advise. Stereotyping vets as money grubbing is as bad as someone saying that breeders do it for the money.

    There are many of us out there that do this work for the love of animals ....I do not disregard your site as full of quackery because you are selling your products....

    I work hand in hand with my clients to get the best for their pets.



    You are in the minority.

    I am sorry to say this but my feeling is that the vast majority of Vets are more concerned about making money than the care of dogs. Pushing yearly vaccinations is the perfect example. It’s complete BS and anyone who defends that position is full of beans. Pushing Science Diet over a all-natural diet is just another BS move –

    Your profession has a public relations problem. The vast majority of Vets are arrogant asses that assume their customers are stupid (notice I said customers) If you have not figured this out then what can I say. Just today I made the decision to start a STUPID VET section.

    I happen to have a very good Vet – she is honest about things she does not know and we work together to keep our dogs healthy.

    To Top

    QUESTION on Hip Problems:

    Hi Ed,
    I really need your advice on something. My Rottie pup is 15 months old and in the past 3 months is showing signs of hip dysplasia ie:funny looking walk, wont jump up into jeep etc. Our breeders have a hip guarantee in their contract and I inquired about the guarantee tonight. They told my wife and I that we would have to pay for the X-rays (no problem) and that if she was indeed dysplasic then we could give them our dog for a new puppy or they would give us $300 dollars towards surgery. My wife and I find this policy to be quite unrealistic as we absolutely love our dog and would never give her away just because of her hips. I put a deposit down over two months ago for the first male in a litter to be born in two weeks with the same breeder. Would it be unreasonable for me to ask for the breeder to absorb the costs remaining on that dog? If I traded mine in for a puppy, they would be down a pup anyways, and would probably put mine to sleep, so what's the difference? What do you think of this breeders policy? Am I being unreasonable? My wife doesn't want me to even buy the dog off of them because of their policy. I am aware of the risks even if the dogs parents hips are certified (in this case they are) and have tried to convince her that it is just bad luck on this one. I respect your opinion and recognize your long term experience as a breeder. Where do I go from here Ed?

    Your response is greatly appreciated,



    You can’t form any opinions until the dog is x-rayed. Read the article I wrote on correct hip positioning for hip x-rays. It's very good.

    Right now you don’t even know if your dog has bad hips. He could have pulled a muscle.

    To Top


    Hi I have a question. I want to get my German Shepherd Hip's x-rayed. We are going to breed her with a stud but they want an OFA "good" hip's. We live in NY and I was reading about the experienced you and people were having about wrong positions, lying Vets and etc. I wanted to know how can you know if they are experienced? We go to a Vet clinic here called Valley Cottage we called and asked if they do x-rays on hips. They said yes. it is $293 for the x-rays and $43 for the certificate. Is it reasonable, the price? That's a lot of money for not doing the job right..They seem good with dealing with animal problems but reading your article has made me wonder how do I know they are good with the x-rays of the hips. I wanted to know if you recommend anybody in NY or NJ that is very experienced with this type of job. Thank you Ed.


    Ed's answer on picking a Vet

    This is a complete RIP off keep looking. $293.00 for hip x-rays is ridiculous

    Print off my article. Take it to where you are going to have the x-ray done (not this place) ask them if they will guarantee correct positioning like in this article. If they cant or wont guarantee then don’t give them your business.



    Really Bad X-rays:

    This is 6 mos. old Onyx GSD. Diagnosed when she was spayed with "severe" HD.
    She had been limping for  a week and wanted them to check for a splinter while she was sedated.  They took x-rays and this is what was shown.  This is the same x-ray, just my digital camera zooming in on one. I  thought you would  like to see another vet who should find another career!  She has since started limping again for the past week, hopefully it is just pano and not her hip.

    Thank you for your web site showing the proper positioning for the hip x-ray,
    Jane Jean

    Bad Hip Xray

    Bad Hip X-ray

    Ed's Response:

    I would never pay for an X-ray that was so poorly done. The vet is incompetent.

    Kind Regards,
    Ed Frawley


    Hello Ed, I have just read your article about the importance of good positioning and it's really helpful. I have decided to repeat my GS x-rays because they are not good enough I think.
    I send you an x-ray done to a Border Collie of 3 years and a half, that I think is really good, almost perfect, so you can put it in your article if you want to. Thanks a lot for your dedication and lovely work.

    border collie x-ray

    Ed's Response:

    Too bad more Vets don't know how to position hip x-rays like this Vet did them.


    I acquired my GSD earlier this spring from the training director at the local schutzhund club. Here is the breeders website: & here is the line breeding: thought everything was fine until strangers pointed out his awkward gait as a sign of HD. We took him to the vet who X-rayed him with the diagnosis of having HD. They were sent onto a "specialist" who also confirmed it. The breeder takes the stance that you do in your article on correct positioning: 1. Bad positioning  2. Loose joints 3. etc. He told me not to let it get me down yet but there is that long shot chance that with even good lines the dog may have got it. I just re-read your article today and my dog's x-ray looks very similar to the one you used as an example of bad positioning resulting in a false positive, which has brought me hope.  My question: My pup still shows the physical symptoms of HD especially the "bunny-hopping" motion. Can a dog not have HD and still show the outward physical signs? Have you seen pups that show the typical physical symptoms of HD at a young age, but don't actually have it? Love the site and the videos!
    Drew Connell 
    P.S. I am currently looking for somewhere to start swimming him.


    You don’t mention how old this dog is now, but young dogs and pups grow through some very weird growth stages. It’s possible for them to have a weird gait, and grow into a normal hipped dog. If you really like this dog, I would re xray him at some point after you have him in really good muscle.

    Take the article on hip positioning with you to the vet, and make sure the positioning is good before you pay for anything.  Better yet, go to a specialist for the xrays as it usually doesn’t cost much more and they have a lot of experience in taking the films.  The vet we use does not even sedate or anesthetize the dog for this, and I feel it’s a more accurate picture of the joints and much easier on the dog.  I xray my young dogs between 6 and 8 months old and then again at 2 years of age.

    If a specialist evaluated your xrays though, and confirmed a diagnosis of HD, I would be hopeful but not too hopeful. 


    I came across your website and was reading your questions and answers about hip xrays, dysplasia, etc.  I noticed you mentioned that you prelim your dogs between 6 and 10 months of age.  Why those ages?

    I prelimed a male weimaraner at 15 months.  He came in as mild dysplasia with Subluxation checked off.  I called OFA and spoke to the prelim vet, Dr. Keller.  He stated that there was No arthritis or change in the ball or socket, but because there was more subluxation in my guys hips than other Weims of his age, he marked it mild.  Was 15 months a bad age?  Dr. Keller mentioned he has had dogs growing at that timeframe that he marked off mild, and when they got their regular OFA sent in after the 2yr mark, they came in passing.  He said my guy could be growing and tighten up in time because the subluxation was all that was noticed.  I have put him on Pala-tek just in case this was true.  My vet also agreed, as he wasn’t sure if my boy would pass or borderline due to the xrays being breed specific.  Wasn’t sure how they graded Weims.  Also, he went through major intestinal surgery at 10months of age.  Dropped a ton of weight for about 2-3wks.  Didn’t know if this could have something to do with him growing, or ligiments and muscles forming again, etc. 

    When coming out of the anesthesia from the xrays, he wasn’t real normal till the next day.  Still droopy tired in the A.M.  Normal at dinner time.

    Also, have you seen this happen?  If so, would you wait a certain time past the 24month mark.  His mother OFA Excellent at 30 months.  His father Excellent at 24.  He has a ton of Excellents and goods, and his brother was prelimed at 11months and came in Good.

    Please let me know.  This is a multiple BOB dog and I will do anything to possibly have him pass.


    We xray at the age we do because we don’t want to wait until the dog is 15 or 24 months old to know hip status.  If the dog has a problem we want to know earlier, rather than later.

    I don’t know what you feed this dog, but I would get him on a raw diet and get him in very good condition before I xrayed him again.  I wouldn’t put an age limit on it, but when he was in tip top shape I would re do the films.  We all like to see OFA excellent dogs in our dog’s pedigree but it is no guarantee that you will not have a dysplastic dog.   Genetics play a role, but so do exercise, diet and environment.

    If you search our site on the terms hip dysplasia you will find a lot of information.

    Read this article on feeding a raw diet.  It’s a work in progress but there is a lot of good information there. 

    I would also recommend these books, Natural Nutrition for Dogs & Cats and Raw Dog Food

    You can also go to our Feeding Dogs Page for a list of articles and books that will be helpful to you.



    My name is Chris and I found your website via a google search on Lab Hip Displasia. You must get tons of email so I hate to bother you but my friend Jennie is totally distraught. The attached xray was taken of her 6 month old male yellow lab puppy. The dog lives in Durham, NC and got the Xray when he went in to get fixed. The Vet told Jennie this was the worst hips she every seen on this old of a puppy. I am going to call my VET for a second opinion but was hoping you could take a look at the XRAY and tell me what you think. The dog came from a NC breeder and the parents were both certified with good hips. What things should Jennie be doing over the next few months, 6 months, and several years.

    Thank you in advance for your time,

    hip xray


    If this is the worst set of hips your vet has seen then he lack experience. While the hip is not great it certainly is not TERRIBLE. His comments are one of the reasons that I lose respect for Vets - They have to earn my respect before I listen to them - there are too many out there who lack experience or are more interested in your wallet than your dog's health.


    Hello I came across your site as I researched CHD. I had gotten a really bad hip x-ray that I submitted to OFA, it was rejected. I was dumb so I got another from the same vet, it was accepted but the dog was rated as "mild dysplasia" on notes it said unilateral due to subluxation, I was devastated but accepted it. After I read your site and your photos I re examined the original films and for lack of a better word they sucked! A few days ago I got her re-X-rayed and attached is the film. Please tell me what you think, I know it's not perfect (film or the hips) but just want to know if I should be overly concerned. Also about CHD I have been doing alot of research and I am not truly convinced that all forms of chd are hereditary. Unilateral for example happens about 85% of the time on the left hip...why? have you ever heard of a decease that likes "sides" that much? ALso if it is true that there are a multitude of genes that contribute to CHD then why is it so prevelant? what little I know about physiology, the more complex something is the more rare it is. Also why X-ray when we should just isolate these so-called CHD genes and just scan for them? oh yeah they cant seem to "find" (isolate) these genes. I dont know it just doesnt make any sense to me, it is either over my head or over their heads as well. Please let me know what you think of the x-ray all opinions welcome. I emailed this to two of the addresses because I didnt know which one.

    Ps. I love your site. Oh and the x-rays are of an adult female Fila Brasileiro 3mths to her next heat cycle.



    I no longer use the OFA – I honestly believe that it is a flawed process run by inexperienced people.

    I completely disagree with the rating on your dog. This dog does not have bad hips.

    I do agree that there is far more than genetics going on to cause bad hips. I write about it in my article on positioning - over exercise at a young age, over weight at a young age, feeding a shitty diet (I believe that a raw all-=natural diet leads to healthy bone and joint development).

    So in closing – don’t listen to these fools. I remember a female I had back in the early 1990’s. The OFA told me the same thing about her hips – mildly dysplastic – I completely disagreed. I bred her a number of times. She had 56 pups and not one had bad hips, in fact several had OFA excellent hips.

    Kind Regards,


    First I would like to thank you for the excellent article on proper positioning for hip x-rays.

    A friend recently had a dog x-rayed for OFA. Her vet said the x-ray was normal. And the OFA result was mild dysplasia. I told my friend not to worry too much at this point. That first she should take her dog to an orthopedic vet and get x-rays with sedation and proper positioning and I sent her your article on proper positioning. If the x-ray looks good she can resubmit to OFA and if it looks bad she can find out what the orthopedist suggests for managing her dog's condition.

    My question to you is... how does she find a really good orthopedic vet?
    What do you look for when choosing an orthpedist?

    And should she tell the vet that her dog has already OFAed mild dysplasia? Would that taint the opinion?

    My breed has submitted less than 100 x-rays for OFA ratings and hasn't received an excellent rating in the last 11 years. Has OFA tightened their standards over the years or something? My breed is not known for having hip dysplasia but they are so small that it might not be noticed without x-ray if they were dysplastic. I wonder if OFA has some sort of quota system in place so that too many dogs in a breed won't receive an excellent rating and make the statistics for the breed so good that people will not to be inclined to use OFA.

    And I wonder if I would be better off just taking dogs to a good orthopedic vet and getting an opinion on hips before breeding rather than submitting to OFA.

    Thanks for your input.
    -Cathy S.


    If you can’t get referrals from other people who have had good experiences and results from orthopedics vets, then I would Google search your area for board certified orthopedic veterinarians.

    If a vet is good, I don’t think it matters if you tell them about previous radiographic results. They should be able to see for themselves the status of the dog’s joints.

    You will get varying opinions about the value of OFA, some people won’t breed or buy pups from stock that is not OFA’d. We personally feel that a qualified orthopedic vet’s opinion is good enough for us. We stand behind our puppies either way.



    HI ED,

    So I went and got the X-ray. My dog is in very bad shape. It is probably my fault. The vet says she has really bad hips and he wants to do a total hip replacment which I am not so sure about. I should agree, I haven't decided yet. I am going to get a couple of more opinions but after all she is 6 years old and I think it will be too risky. Right know I am just thinking on some sort of pills I should start her on. Stop working her you know probably just let her be a pet. But please have a look a the photo's and give me your opinion which probably won't be very positive but life sucks and you have to deal with it. Any ways enough talk.

    Thanks for the quick reply. The x-ray is not perfect but I think probably could have been worse. Please tell me what you think I should do at this stage.


    Bad Hips


    Ed's Response :

    These are some of the worst hips I have seen. I agree with your vet, this dog either has to have new hips or he will have a very very painful life. I can’t remember the last time I recommended a dog have new hips.

    Kind Regards,
    Ed Frawley


    Hi Cindy,

    My name is Darryl I am a small GSD breeder in Ireland and have recently brought my 14 month old male dog for a pre- X-ray as he developing into a super young dog and will certainly want to use him on my bitches.

    I brought him to my vet and much to my surprise and upset she told me my dog had terrible hips and should in no way consider him as a stud dog. Needless to say I was shocked and very upset at the prospect of not been able to stud him and indeed end his promising ring career.

    I was unsure of the results so I posted a page on the gsd database and included photos of the x-rays............ Oh my God!

    What a response all said the same.. "the vet should be banned from taking x-rays" etc etc. I was also sent a link to an article that you ran and was amazed and educated at the same time. "The Importance of Good Positioning on Canine Hip X-rays" This was a fantastic article and armed me with the information I needed to return to my vet without looking like a fool.

    I have attached the x-rays so you can see and will let you know how I got on.

    I am fully aware also that because the x-rays were bad does not mean that a new set will improve his hip score however it will give me the correct information as to decide his future (fingers cross).

    Kind regards,

    xray xray


    Those x-rays are horrible! It’s impossible for any vet to give an evaluation based on those.  Wow!

    I’d find a new vet right away but not until I gave that one a piece of my mind. She should refund your money.

    I wish you the very best.  Let me know how your young dog’s hips turn out.



    Hi Ed,

    I wanted to drop you a note as I totally appreciate your writings on hip dysplasia. To me, its very confusing in dealing with vets and the mis-information that is out there. Your articles are clear and concise for the layman. However, I still cant figure out good hips from bad. Was hoping you could tell me if these are bad hips, ok hips, or good, excellent. My vet says I should have my dog fixed, never breed her and she is destined for a life of pain. It was a shock as this pup comes from some pretty serious well known foundation stock amongst all OEBs out there today. She is one year old and I had planned to breed her. Would really appreciate your view. My vet actually tried to get me to spay her when she had her in the office recently. I wanted to punch her! She does not seem to like my breed either so I am planning to find a more open minded vet but was curious if she was playing me or not. She said it was one of the worst she has ever seen. Thanks again and Happy Holidays.

    Best Regards,


    I hate to say it but the hips do not warrant breeding.

    Fact is, only about 30% of bad hips come from genetics. So those who say their dogs come from a great bloodline of good hips are only 1/2 correct.

    The rest is a good diet, not over exercising the dog as pups and keeping the dog THING from puppyhood to xrays age.

    I don’t know which of those you did wrong or if it was the genetics.

    This dog will not have pain, its just not good enough to breed.

    Kind Regards,


    I have two xrays here I want you to look at. The one on the bottom was taken in Jan (8 months old). Purposively the second xrays are of the same dog 3 months later.

    Now, I am no expert. But these do not look like the same dog to me.

    I thought I would shoot these to you and see what you think.

    hip xray hip xray
    hip xray


    Both hips are bad - the positioning on the top x-rays is terrible. I would not have paid the Vet fees on that.

    Pass that on to your vet :-)

    Ed Frawley


    Hello, Ed,

    Please find attached the x-ray photo of 3.5 months old Ca de Bou (perro dogo mallorquin). Vet gave us the very worst prognosis for the future of this puppy. I'm on the crossroad of making a decision - to grow a "different" dog or to give up.

    So far the puppy is active, only some sypthoms of early dysplasia are noticed.

    I'd be greatfull to hear your opinion about this.

    Gretefully yours -
    Indre from Lithuania

    hip xray hip xray


    I am sorry to say that these are terrible hips. Some of the worst I have seen.

    Ed Frawley


    Hi Mr. Frawley,
    I know that you must be getting hundreds of emails and sorry to keep you busy. I have a 15 month old toy poodle who has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia based on the attached x-rays. Looking at your website, I believe that these x-rays are not good quality, and I was wondering if you could give me a feedback on them. The vet is recommending surgery and, because of the poor quality of the x-rays, I am not quite sure if I agree with the vet's surgery solution.

    Appreciate your feedback.


    xray xray


    Your Vet is an absolute crook. A HANDS-DOWN THEIF.

    He needs to learn how to position a dog for a hip x-ray. This positioning sucks.

    I will add this email to web page I have done on incompetent vets.

    Ed Frawley


    Hi Mr. Frawley,

    Sorry to bother you, as I'm sure you get lots of emails about the subject.

    We recently purchased a 4 month old German Shepherd. We took her to one vet within our 48 hour time limit who said the dog was fine. On the 10th day we took her to another vet because she wasn't eating or acting right. Immediately the second vet said her hips were horrible, that she has hip laxity, dropped hocks, and poor confirmation. We are at a loss what to do as our family has already bonded with her, and our 48 hours are up with the breeder. We don't want her to be in pain. I've enclosed very poor pictures of the xrays. From your website I'm not sure that the positioning is very good on these xrays, and the exposure on the films doesn't appear to be very good either. 

    Thank you so much for your time, we really appreciate it!


    xray xray xrayx



    Your second vet is a scam artist. Please pass this comment along to him – or mail him my email.

    The positioning on these goof balls x-rays is terrible. He needs to go back to school and learn how to take hip xrays.

    I will add your email to my web page on VETS THAT DON’T DESERVE RESPECT.

    Ed Frawley


    Hello Ed,

    I took my dog into a PetSmart today for a free exam to be told that I should get hip x-rays for $450. I only moved to the US this year and don't have any Vet referral so I was wondering if you might be able to tell me what to look for and if you know of any specific vets that I should contact.

    Your hip positioning segment was excellent information and I already feel a lot more informed.

    Appreciate your help,



    This is absolutely a RIP OFF. Just another reason to prove that Pet Smart is clueless about dog training and canine care. To allow a Vet to come into their store and tell people this is irresponsible.

    A hip x-ray including the fees to send it into the OFA should be no more than $150.00 TOPS. Anyone who charges more than that is a con. There are a lot of good vets out there. Get on the phone and start to make some phone calls. Get prices for a hip x-ray including the fees to send the film to the OFA (if that's what you want to do).

    Surgical Diseases of the
    Upper Airway:
    Collapsing Trachea, Stenotic Nares,
    Everted Laryngeal Saccules, Elongated Soft Palate


    Collapsing Trachea

    The trachea (windpipe) is a rigid structure composed of numerous cartilaginous rings. In some small breed dogs, particularly the miniature breeds, the cartilage of the trachea degenerates over time. When this occurs, the trachea becomes soft and flaccid and is prone to collapse during respiration. On inspiration, the cervical trachea collapses. On expiration, the trachea in the chest collapses. It is critical to diagnose not only tracheal collapse, but also the location of the collapse.

    The most common symptom of collapsing trachea is a chronic, dry, hacking (honking) cough. In severe cases there may be exercise intolerance, cyanosis, asphyxia, and death. Clinical signs are often worse in hot and humid weather and are exacerbated by obesity and concurrent airway problems.

    A tentative diagnosis of collapsing trachea is made based on history and physical examination. A cough may be elicited on palpation of the trachea. Radiographs (x-rays) may demonstrate the collapse. A definitive diagnosis may require the use of fluoroscopy, an x-ray technique that allows the doctor to observe the trachea during respiration in real time on a television screen.

    Only the most severe cases are treated surgically. Most respond to correction of the other problems noted here or to medications. Weight loss and correction of concurrent airway disorders may alleviate a significant portion of the problem. Cough suppressants and antiinflammatory medications (corticosteroids) are often beneficial as is avoidance of stress and environmental irritants.


    The upper airway in dogs consists of the nose, sinuses, pharynx, and larynx. There are a variety of problems that can affect the upper airway and compromise the normal flow of air. A particular set of upper airway abnormalities affects brachycephalic dogs. The term "brachycephalic" refers to dogs with shortened noses and mouths. Bulldogs, Pekingese, and Pugs are examples of brachycephalic dogs. Problems seen in brachycephalic breeds include stenotic nares, everted laryngeal saccules, and elongated soft palates. These dogs can have any or all of these conditions. Sometimes these problems compromise respiration to such an extent that surgical intervention is required.


    Symptoms of brachycephalic airway syndrome include the following:

    • Constant open mouth breathing
    • Noisy breathing
    • Excessive snoring
    • Choking and gagging
    • Cyanosis (blue-tinged color due to lack of oxygen)
    • Exercise intolerance

    Symptoms are often worse during hot and humid weather. Obesity can also worsen clinical signs.

    A diagnosis is made by visual examination of the nares, soft palate, and larynx. Laryngeal examinations may need to be performed with the aid of sedation or anesthesia.

    Stenotic Nares
    (Abnormally Narrow Nostrils)

    The nares (nostrils) of brachycephalic dogs are often too narrow to permit normal respiration. These dogs tend to breathe exclusively through their mouths or make wheezing sounds when breathing with their mouths closed. The treatment of choice for this problem is a surgical procedure called rhinoplasty. When performing a rhinoplasty, a small wedge of tissue is resected from the side of each nostril. The remaining tissue is then sutured together, effectively widening the opening of the nares and allowing for more normal respiration.

    Everted Laryngeal Saccules

    The laryngeal saccules are small bags of tissue that normally sit in recessions just in front of the vocal folds. When we breathe normally, we decrease the pressure in our lungs and upper airways by expanding our chests. This action allows air to flow down our airways and into our lungs. Dogs with compromised airflow through the upper airway must work harder to fill their lungs with air. This decreases the pressure in the upper airway even more and literally pulls the saccules into the airway. When everted, the saccules sit just in front of the opening to the trachea and block the flow of air. The treatment for this problem is excision (removal) of the saccule tissue.

    Elongated Soft Palate

    The soft palate in brachycephalic dogs can be too long for the length of the mouth. Clinical signs include snoring as the free end of the soft palate flaps during respiration. If the soft palate is long enough, it will hang down into the airway just in front of the opening to the trachea (windpipe) and prevent air from flowing normally. Of the three conditions affecting the upper airway of brachycephalic dogs, this is probably the most serious since airflow can be completely obstructed. The treatment for this condition is to surgically excise (remove) the excess palatine tissue. This procedure shortens the palate and prevents interference with the flow of air.

    Canine Diseases Info.

    Protecting your best friend
    One of the most important things you can do to give your dog a long and healthy life is to ensure that he or she is vaccinated against common canine diseases. Your dog's mother gave her puppy immunity from disease for the first few weeks of existence by providing disease-fighting antibodies in her milk. After that period it's up to you, with the help and advice of your veterinarian - to provide that protection.

    How do vaccines work?
    Vaccines contain small quantities of altered or "killed" viruses, bacteria or other disease-causing organisms. When administered, they stimulate your dog's immune system to produce disease-fighting cells and proteins - or antibodies - to protect against disease.

    When should my dog be vaccinated?
    The immunity that a puppy has at birth begins to diminish sometime between 6 and 12 weeks. It is then usually time to begin the initial vaccinations, which will be repeated once a month until the puppy is about 3 to 4 months old. Thereafter, your dog will require repeat vaccination at regular intervals for the rest of his or her life. Above all, follow the vaccination schedule recommended by your veterinarian - if there is too long an interval between the first vaccination and the booster, your dog may have to undergo the series all over again.

    Which vaccinations should my dog receive?
    Most veterinarians believe that your pet should be protected against those diseases which are most common, highly contagious and which cause serious illness. Such diseases could include Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Canine Parvovirus, Canine Tracheobronchitis and Rabies. Other vaccinations may be recommended, based on your veterinarian's evaluation of the risks posed by such factors as your dog's particular heredity, environment and lifestyle.

    How effective is vaccination?
    Like any drug treatment or surgical procedure, vaccinations can not be 100% guaranteed. However, used in conjunction with proper nutrition and acceptable sanitary conditions, vaccination is clearly your pet's best defense against disease. Plus, when you consider what treating a serious illness can cost you and your beloved dog in terms of both money and distress, prevention through vaccination is extremely cost-effective.

    Basic Canine Info. Congratulations on your new puppy!

    Congratulations - you have a new puppy!
    You’ve anticipated the new arrival by ‘puppyproofing’ your home and had lots of fun choosing the crate, bed, blanket, toys and other supplies he or she will need. This frisky little creature is sure to bring you much joy. In return, you can make a major contribution to your pet’s longevity, happiness and quality of life by providing him or her with good nutrition, loving attention in a safe, sanitary environment and regular checkups at your veterinarian’s.


    Spaying or Neutering your puppy
    Many veterinarians believe that spaying or neutering not only helps solve the serious problem of unwanted pet overpopulation but also makes for friendlier, easier-to-live-with pets. Spayed female dogs are more relaxed, while neutered males are less likely to roam, urine-mark their territory, or fight with other males. Plus, sterilization has health benefits - it helps to minimize the risk of cancers of the reproductive organs and the mammary glands in females and reduces the incidence of prostate problems in males.

    Spaying removes the uterus and ovaries of a female dog, usually after the age of six months. A major surgical procedure, it is performed under general anesthesia and most often involves an overnight stay at an animal hospital. Complications are rare and recovery normally is complete within two weeks.

    Neutering, also carried out under general anesthesia, removes the testicles of a male dog through an incision at the base of the scrotum. Usually performed when the puppy is about six months old, it necessitates an overnight stay at the animal hospital. Full recovery takes about seven to ten days.

    Your puppyÂ’s basic health check
    Your new puppy should visit a veterinarian as soon as possible. The first visit will probably include:

    Thorough physical examination to determine his or her state of health.
    Check for external parasites (fleas, ticks, lice, ear mites).
    Check for internal parasites (tapeworm, roundworm, etc.), if you can bring a stool sample for analysis. Blood tests may also be done.
    Initial vaccination and/or a discussion of the types of vaccinations your puppy needs and when they should be scheduled.
    Discussion about whether your puppy should be sterilized (spayed or neutered) and when.

    This first health check will give your veterinarian the information he needs to advise you on your puppy’s immediate diet and care. Plus, it will give him a “knowledge base” from which, on subsequent checkups throughout your pup’s life, he can better evaluate, monitor and manage your pet’s health.

    Make your new puppy feel at home
    Show your puppy the special places where he can eat, sleep and eliminate and, since heÂ’s probably quite overwhelmed, give him some quiet time to himself to let him adjust to the unfamiliar sights and sounds of his new home. Be sure, if there are also young children in the home, that they are taught that a puppy is not a toy but a living creature who must be treated with gentleness and respect. As early as 8 weeks old, your puppy is capable of learning specific lessons - so start house-breaking and teaching simple obedience commands the day you bring him home. Your veterinarian can suggest the best training methods and, if you wish, recommend a good obedience school. Your pup will find learning fun and easy and, with your positive reinforcement, he should remember his lessons well!

    Your Geriatric Dog
    When is the best time to start caring for your aging pet? When heÂ’s a puppy. Starting off your dogÂ’s life with good nutrition, regular exercise, scheduled veterinary appointments and a happy home life sets the blueprint for a high quality of life in his older years. However, as your dog ages, much like humans, changes to the metabolism will occur. Paying attention to your dogÂ’s behavior will make detecting problems easier.

    What you can do at home
    Check your dogÂ’s mouth, eyes and ears regularly. Watch for loose teeth, redness, swelling or discharge.
    Keep your petÂ’s sleeping area clean and warm.
    Groom your pet often. YouÂ’ll detect any unusual sores or lumps and keep his coat healthy.
    Make fresh water available at all times.
    Maintain a regime of proper nutrition, exercise and loving attention.


    How old is your dog? (these are just for small breeds, for larger breeds the human years would be more)
    If your dog is...
    In human terms, that's
    6 months
    8 months
    10 months
    12 months
    18 months
    2 years
    3 years
    4 years
    5 years
    6 years
    7 years
    8 years
    9 years
    10 years
    11 years
    12 years
    13 years
    14 years
    15 years
    16 years
    10 years
    13 years
    14 years
    15 years
    20 years
    23 years
    26 years
    32 years
    36 years
    40 years
    44 years
    48 years
    52 years
    56 years
    60 years
    64 years
    68 years
    72 years
    76 years
    80 years
    * Please note, these equivalencies refer to small breeds

    Common Problems

    Obesity is a big health risk. An older dog is a less active dog, so adjustments to your petÂ’s diet to reduce caloric intake are imperative. This will relieve pressure on his joints as well as manage the risks of heart failure, kidney or liver disease, digestive problems and more. Other changes to his nutrition should include increasing fiber, fatty acids and vitamins while decreasing sodium, protein and fat.

    ArthritisÂ’ severity can range from slight stiffness to debilitation. An exercise program, also to maintain muscle tone and mass, can be adjusted to suit his condition. Anti-inflammatory medication can help relieve the pain. Your veterinarian will prescribe any necessary medication

    Intolerance to hot and cold temperatures occurs because your dog produces less of the hormones which regulate the bodyÂ’s normal temperature. Move his bed closer to a heater and bring him indoors on cold days.

    Tooth loss or decay not only makes it harder to chew but also increases the likelihood of infection or tumors. Brushing and cleaning the teeth will help keep these to a minimum.

    Prostate enlargement or Mammary Gland Tumors is mostly diagnosed in unneutered or unspayed dogs. Have the prostate or mammary glands examined at checkups.

    Separation Anxiety presents itself when older dogs canÂ’t cope with stress. Aggressive behavior, noise phobia, increased barking and whining or restless sleep are a few signs. Medication combined with behavior modification techniques are key.

    Skin or coat problems in aging dogs means the skin loses elasticity, making your pet more susceptible to injury while the coatÂ’s hair thins and dulls over time. Grooming more often and fatty acid supplements are highly beneficial.

    Canine Cognitive Dysfunction manifests itself in confusion, disorientation or decreased activity. Medication can help solve some of these issues.

    Canine Eye Care

    Common Eye Conditions & Symptoms

    Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the membrane that covers both the inner lining of the eyelid and the white of the eye. It may be caused by infections, allergies, inadequate tear production or irritation.

    Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (DRY EYE) occurs when the tear glands cannot provide a dogÂ’s eyes with enough tears. Viral diseases, drug reactions, allergies or injuries may lead to this condition which, if chronic, can cause loss of vision. Some breeds are also predisposed.

    Corneal Ulceration can result when the cornea’s surface is scratched by a foreign object or is damaged by inadequate tear production or bacterial infection. Very painful, it causes dogs to ‘squint’. Breeds with bulbous eyes and aging dogs seem to be prone to this problem.

    If your dog’s eye constantly ‘weeps’, or if the fur around it appears ‘stained’, the normal tear flow may be blocked.

    Cataracts & Glaucoma
    Dogs, just like humans, can have these serious eye diseases. Cataracts cloud the lens inside the eye and are the most common cause of canine blindness. A hereditary condition in some breeds, early examination by your veterinarian is important, as such animals should not be bred. Glaucoma stems from too much pressure being exerted upon the eyeÂ’s interior as a result of a decrease in the amount of fluid draining from it.

    How to Administer Eye Drops


    1. You may need to muzzle your dog.
    2. Remove any discharge around the eye with a cotton ball moistened with saline solution.
    3. See the instructions on the bottle for dosage. Shake if necessary.
    4. Use one hand to hold the bottle between thumb and index and place the other under your dogÂ’s jaw to support the head.
    5. Tilt the head back and, to prevent blinking, use your free fingers to hold the eyelids open.
    6. Hold the bottle close to the eye but DONÂ’T touch the eyeÂ’s surface.
    7. Squeeze the drops on to the eyeball, then release the head.
    8. Your dog will blink, spreading the medication over the eyeÂ’s surface.

    How to Apply Eye Ointment


    1. You may need to muzzle your dog.
    2. Remove any discharge around the eye with a cotton ball moistened with saline solution.
    3. Check the instructions on the tube for dosage.
    4. Gently pull back upper and lower eyelids.
    5. Holding the tube parallel to the lower eyelid, squeeze the ointment on to its edge, about the size of a grain of rice. DONÂ’T let the tube touch the eyeÂ’s surface.
    6. Release the head. Let your dog blink.
    7. Lightly massage upper and lower eyelids together to spread the medication.

    Adminstering Medication to your dog


    & Capsules
    Step 1
    Place the pill between the thumb and index finger of one hand.
    Firmly grasp the upper jaw with the thumb and index finger of the other hand behind the canine teeth.
    Step 2
    Gently fold the upper lip over the teeth as you open the mouth. This will reduce the chance of being bitten.
    Step 3
    Rotate your wrist to tilt the head upwards.
    Use your middle finger to slowly open the lower jaw.
    Step 4
    Keep your middle finger over the small incisor teeth and deposit the pill as far back on the tongue as possible.
    Immediately close the mouth. Keeping your hand over the mouth, put the head down to facilitate swallowing.
    Step 5
    Stroke the throat or blow in the nostrils to encourage swallowing.



    Liquids & Syrups
    Read the label for the proper dosage. If instructed, shake the contents of the bottle.

    Step 1
    Fill a syringe or dropper with medication before starting.
    Liquid medication is poured into the pouch between the teeth and cheek.
    Hold your dogÂ’s jaw closed and tilt the head back slightly.
    Step 2
    Gently squirt the medication into the pouch with the dropper or syringe.
    Step 3
    Hold the mouth closed.
    Stroke the throat or blow in the nostrils to encourage swallowing.
    Step 4
    Should your dog gag or cough out the medication, lower his head and calm him down.
    Wait a few minutes and then try again.

    Helpful hints

    Always read the label instructions carefully.
    Ask your veterinarian if the medication can be given with food or must be given on an empty stomach. If it can be given with food, just put the pill into a small treat such as cheese or peanut butter or a small amount of food recommended by your veterinarian.
    Get a friend or family member to help.
    Avoid medicating a small dog on the floor or in your arms.
    Place the dog on a table with a non-slip surface.
    When administering medication stay calm - your pet can sense if you are nervous making it more difficult to apply the treatment. Always praise and reward your pet with a treat.

    Pre/Post Surgery

    Cutting through all the information
    Due to illness, disease or trauma, your pet may one day require surgery. While always stressful (for both you and your pet) there are a few basic guidelines that you can follow that will make the process as complication-free as possible and put your pet on the fast road to recovery.
    Depending on the type of surgery, whether minor or major, your veterinarian will advise you when your pet can resume his or her normal lifestyle.

    Pre-surgical instructions
    Your veterinarian will do a check-up on your pet before the surgery to determine if there are any pre-existing conditions that may interfere with the surgical procedure.
    Make sure your pet is current on his or her vaccinations.
    Your veterinarian may suggest a blood test to screen for disease not apparent from a physical exam.
    You may need to administer antibiotics several days prior to major surgery to increase your petÂ’s ability to fight off infection.
    Your veterinarian will tell you when to withhold water and food prior to an operation.

    Post-surgical instructions
    Chances are your pet will be weak or groggy after surgery. Do not let him/her get too excited.
    Restrain your animal with a leash or put him in a carrier when leaving the hospital. This will protect him from additional injury.
    Provide only small amounts of food and water until he readjusts to being at home and is recovering. Too much food and water can lead to an upset stomach or vomiting.
    If a special post-surgical diet has been prescribed, follow all instructions carefully.
    Limit your petÂ’s exercise. Climbing stairs, jumping or running may open up sutures or cause nausea.
    Make sure his/her sleeping area is clean, warm and free of drafts.
    Your veterinarian may prescribe medication to administer during your petÂ’s recovery. Follow all label instructions carefully.
    Sutures are usually removed approximately 10 days after surgery. Check the area around the incision daily for redness, swelling or drainage. If you detect any irritation, contact your veterinarian immediately.
    Try to keep your pet from licking or chewing on the wound. If this is difficult to do, you might want to provide a physical barrier by placing an ‘Elizabethan collar’ around his head.

    Household Dangers

    Pet proofing your home
    Just as parents ‘childproof’ their home, so should pet owners ‘petproof’ theirs. Four-legged members of the family, like infants and small children, are naturally curious and love to explore their environment with their paws, claws and mouths. But they can’t know what is dangerous and what is not... so it’s up to you to make your home a safe haven. The following tips can help ensure that your pet enjoys a long, happy and accident-free life in your care.

    All around the house
    Screen windows to guard against falls.
    DonÂ’t let young pets out on balconies, upper porches or high decks.
    Many house plants, including dieffenbachia, elephant ear, spider plants and more are poisonous if eaten. Remove them or put them out of reach in hanging baskets.
    Puppies love to chew when theyÂ’re teething, so unplug, remove or cover electrical cords.
    DonÂ’t leave a room unattended where a fire is lit or a space heater is being used.
    Plastic bags may be fun to play with, but they can suffocate.
    If your pet can put something in his mouth, he probably will. DonÂ’t leave small, sharp, easily swallowed objects lying around.

    In the garage
    Pets like the smell and taste of antifreeze and windshield washer. Tightly cover their containers and wipe up any spills.
    Paint, gasoline and other dangerous chemicals should be stored out of reach.

    In the kitchen, laundry room & bathroom
    Never leave burners or irons on unattended.
    Dangerous household chemicals such as bleach and ammonia should be stored out of your petÂ’s reach.
    Close washer and dryer lids-your pet might climb in and become trapped.
    Keep toilet lids down - small pets can actually drown, if they fall in.
    Medicines, shampoo, suntan lotions and other personal care items can kill your pet. Make sure he canÂ’t get hold of them.

    Out in the yard
    Some outdoor plants, like ivy and oleander, can be poisonous to pets.
    Keep pets away from lawns and gardens treated with chemicals.
    Store garden tools and chemicals securely. Keep garden sheds locked.
    Cover swimming pools and hot tubs - your pet might fall in and not be able to get out.

    Dog-gone disasters
    Eliminate hooks or similar objects placed at your dogÂ’s shoulder height - his collar or harness could become tangled and he could choke.
    A tall perimeter or invisible electrical fence around your property will minimize the risk of your dog running out into traffic or roaming far from home.

    Home for the holidays
    Tinsel and icicles, Christmas tree lights and glass ornaments will be sure to tempt your petÂ’s curiosity - but all could be lethal if chewed or swallowed.
    Poinsettia, holly and mistletoe are poisonous to your pets.

    Dental Care

    Your pet counts on you for protection
    With major advances in treating serious infectious and other pet diseases, oral disease –most importantly periodontal or gum disease caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar– has become the number-one health problem for dogs. It’s estimated that without proper dental care 80% of dogs will show signs of oral disease by age three. With your help, your pets can have healthy teeth and gums throughout their lives.

    You simply need to provide them with a few things:

    A nutritious diet
    Chew treats recommended by a veterinarian
    Regular brushing at home
    Yearly dental checkups by a veterinarian

    Good dental health begins with the proper diet
    The wrong kinds of food can cause dental distress in pets. Feeding your dog a dry food rather than a moist, canned one will, through its mild abrasive action on the teeth, help remove the bacterial plaque that can harden into tartar. Dry food also provides adequate chewing exercise and gum stimulation. Avoid giving your pet sweets and table scraps as they may also increase plaque and tartar formation. Your vet may recommend the use of special dry foods designed to reduce plaque and tartar buildup, especially if your pet is prone to dental problems due to his breed or individual genetic history.

    Brushing your petÂ’s teeth
    Dogs need to have their teeth brushed in order to eliminate the dental plaque that can cause tooth decay and the formation of tartar, which can lead to gum disease. You should begin a regular, daily brushing routine when your puppy is between six and eight weeks of age. Even older dogs can be trained to accept having their teeth brushed. You simply need to introduce the activity gradually and make the experience a positive one for your pet. Reassure and praise him profusely throughout the process and reward him with a very special treat when itÂ’s finished. HereÂ’s how it can be done:

    Phase 1
    Start by dipping a finger in beef bouillon for dogs. Rub this finger gently over your petÂ’s gums and one or two teeth. Repeat until your pet seems fairly comfortable with this activity.
    Phase 2
    Gradually, introduce a gauze-covered finger and gently scrub the teeth with a circular motion.
    Phase 3
    Then, you can begin to use a toothbrush, either an ultra-soft model designed for people or a special pet tooth-brush or finger brush, which is a rubber finger covering with a small brush built in at its tip.
    Phase 4
    Finally, once your pet is used to brushing, introduce the use of pet toothpaste in liquid or paste form. Most of these contain chlorhexidine or stannous fluoride—ask your veterinarian for his recommendations. Don’t use human toothpaste, as it can upset your pet’s stomach. Your vet may also advise the use of an antiseptic spray or rinse after brushing.

    DonÂ’t forget a yearly dental checkup
    Doing your best to ensure that your dog receives the proper diet and regular brushing at home will help maintain his or her teeth and gums in top condition. To provide optimum dental care at home, you need to start with a clean bill of dental health. ThatÂ’s where your petÂ’s veterinarian comes in.
    He or she will give your pet a thorough examination of the entire oral cavity to determine whether there are any underlying problems and, especially important, tartar buildup. Brushing removes plaque but not tartar, so if your petÂ’s teeth do have tartar, your veterinarian will have to remove it with a professional cleaning and polishing, usually accomplished under anaesthesia. After removing the tartar above and below the gum line, your veterinarian may treat your petÂ’s teeth with fluoride and will provide you with instructions for home care and follow-up.

    A few tips:
    Chew treats, including hard meat-protein biscuits and rawhide chews for dogs, can help remove plaque, and provide stimulation for the gums.
    Watch out for wood—throwing sticks to dogs can result in splinters and gum damage.
    DonÂ’t let your pet chew on hard materials like bones or stones. They can wear down, even break teeth, damage gums and lead to infection.

    A few statistics:
    Puppies develop their deciduous teeth at 2 weeks of age, with their 42 permanent teeth starting to appear at 3 months.

    Fleas & Ticks

    Ticks and fleas
    Ticks are small spider-like acarids and fleas are insects, but these two tiny creatures have at least one thing in common—they are both parasites that feed on your dog’s blood and can cause a lot of discomfort and more serious health problems.
    Flea bites may go unnoticed on some pets, cause slight irritation in others and produce extensive itching, red lesions, hair loss and even ulcers in those animals with flea allergy dermatitis, which is the result of extreme sensitivity to flea saliva. Severe flea infestations can cause anemia, especially in puppies. Fleas can also transmit several diseases, as well as tapeworm. Ticks are “vectors” or carriers of a number of diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever which can sometimes be transmitted to humans.

    About fleasÂ…
    Adult fleas are wingless insects, generally smaller than a sesame seed, who feed on the blood of animals. Their proportionately enlarged back pair of legs gives them an extraordinary jumping ability. Hanging on to your petÂ’s fur with their claws, their needle-like mouth parts bite through the skin to suck up blood.
    If one flea finds your dog an attractive food source, you can be sure that other fleas will, too! They mate, with females laying 30–50 eggs per day. These eggs will drop to the ground within 8 hours and, as soon as 2 days later flea larvae will hatch and hide in dark places on the ground, on carpets or in upholstery. After about a week of feeding on adult flea droppings, crumbs, flakes of skin, etc., the larvae spin cocoons to become pupae. The pupae can remain in this stage for very long periods of time. As early as a week later, the pupae develop into adult fleas and emerge from their cocoons when they sense that a dog or other animal host, is near. The cycle—which can take as little as 12 days or as long as 180 days—can then begin again.

    And ticks...
    Ticks are wingless creatures that live exclusively on the blood of animals for three of the four stages of their life cycle. They are equipped with an apparatus called HallerÂ’s organ which senses heat, carbon dioxide and other stimuli to allow the ticks to locate the presence of an animal food source. Once found, they crawl on and embed their mouth parts into the animalÂ’s skin and proceed to suck up its blood.

    FleaYou should inspect your pet regularly for ticks, especially if they have been outside in areas where there are woods or tall grasses. A thorough combing within 4 to 6 hours of exposure to such environments can help prevent ticks from attaching themselves to feast on your pet. Should you find a tick, it should be removed immediately, as the longer it is attached to its host, the greater the chance for disease. Do not touch the tick. Wear gloves and use tweezers to carefully grasp the exposed section of the tickÂ’s body near your petÂ’s skin. Gently pull until the tick lets go. To dispose of the tick, wrap it in several tissues and flush it down the toilet. Do not crush, burn or suffocate it, as any one of those actions may spread infectious bacteria.

    Controlling fleas and ticks
    The best way to control flea problems is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Fortunately, developments in veterinary parasite control in recent years have made the twofold goal of eliminating fleas on pets and preventing further infestations much easier to achieve. Available for both dogs and cats, new insecticides and insect growth regulators in easy-to-use topical or oral forms not only eliminate any existing fleas, but also work long-term to prevent future infestations. This is accomplished either by killing the parasites before they can reproduce or by preventing their eggs from developing into normal adult fleas. Consult your veterinarian for advice about the proper product for your pet. Furthermore, thorough daily vacuuming of high-traffic areas and frequent washing of your petÂ’s bedding will also go a long way in reducing the flea population in your home.
    Some of the same types of topical or oral products used to control flea infestation are also effective against ticks. Such treatments should be combined with daily examinations and tick removal for those pets, especially dogs, who are frequently outdoors in areas with high tick populations. Ask your veterinarian for information about the situation in your locality. Clearing brush and long grasses and removing leaves, grass clippings and other organic debris will also help reduce the presence of ticks by disturbing their natural outdoor habitats.

    When a parasite picks your pet for a meal
    If, despite your best efforts at control, you find that fleas or ticks have crawled (or jumped) on board your pet, you will have to use a product that will kill and/or repel the parasites. These include once-a-month topical treatments, or more regular use of sprays, powders, dips, shampoos, collars and, to combat fleas, oral or injectable medication. Once again, you should ask your veterinarian for advice about what the most appropriate product is for your pet . And remember, it is perfectly normal to see live fleas or ticks on a pet immediately after a topical treatment, spray, shampoo, collar, etc. is applied. Many believe that this means the product is not working, but the fleas or ticks have to fully absorb the product before they will be affected, which may take
    from a few hours to a few days.

    Facts about fleas
    Worldwide, there are about 3,000 different types of fleas, but the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is the most common to be found on dogs and cats.

    Adult fleas can jump 600 times an hour. Each jump, in terms of the fleaÂ’s size, is the equivalent of a person clearing a 50-story building.

    The record jump for a flea is 13 inches.

    In just 30 days, 25 adult female fleas can multiply to 250,000 fleas.

    Tips about ticks
    A female tick can lay up to 3,000 eggs.

    Except for eggs, ticks need a blood meal to progress to each stage of their life cycle.
    Some ticks can live for more than a year without a meal.

    In very rare cases, toxins secreted by ticks can cause pet paralysis.

    Your Senior Dog

    Old age is not a disease
    As a result of advances in veterinary medicine, more knowledgeable care and improved nutrition, dogs are now living much longer, healthier lives. But, just as for humans, the passage of time has its effects, and you may begin to notice that your once-frisky pet seems to have slowed down a bit. Being aware of the natural changes that can occur as your dog reaches his or her golden years, as well as what you can do to help keep your pet as healthy, active and comfortable as possible, can ensure that you both enjoy this final stage in your dog's life to the fullest.

    How-and when-will I know that my dog is getting “old”?
    As dogs move into the geriatric phase of their lives, they experience gradual changes that are remarkably like those of aging humans: hair turns grey, their bodies are not as limber and reflexes not as sharp as they once were, hearing, eyesight and the sense of smell may deteriorate and energy levels, as well as attention spans, seem to diminish. In fact, the first sign of aging is often a general decrease in activity, combined with a tendency to sleep longer and more soundly. Such signs may begin to manifest themselves before 8 years in large breeds like Great Danes, while smaller breeds can remain youthful until 12 years and even longer. Furthermore, a healthy dog, especially one that has been spayed or neutered before 6 months, will most likely age later than one that has been affected by disease or environmental problems early in life. Again, as with humans, the aging process will vary with the individual. Your veterinarian will be able to judge when it's time to consider your pet a “senior”.

    Checkup time now comes twice a year

    As your dog ages, regular checkups at the veterinarianÂ’s become more important than ever. In fact, at this stage of your petÂ’s life, it is recommended that he or she receive a thorough examination every 6 months, as adult dogs can age as much as 3 years (in human terms) within the period of one calendar year. Besides the usual complete physical examination, your veterinarian may conduct a urine and fecal analysis and blood work. Ultrasound and other imaging tests may be recommended to detect early heart or internal organ changes.

    Keep your vet informed
    Most importantly, you should tell your veterinarian about any noticeable change in your dog's physical condition or behavior. A problem that you may assume is simply related to your pet's advanced age may actually be the result of a treatable medical condition. For example, your dog's reluctance to exercise may not stem from the normal decrease in energy that comes with age, but from arthritis or a heart condition - both of which can be managed with the proper treatment. Regular, semi-annual checkups can thus help your veterinarian work out a suitable preventative health program for your pet and catch any problems sufficiently early to provide effective treatment. Working together, you can both ensure that your dog's senior years will be healthy and happy ones.

    Something to chew on
    As your pet ages, your dog’s nutritional needs may also change. You may find that, although your pet is eating less, he still puts on weight. This could be due to a slowdown of his metabolism or a decrease in his activity. Excess weight can aggravate many canine medical conditions, including heart, respiratory, skin and joint problems. To help a portly pet reduce, try feeding smaller quantities of food or gradually switch to a diet that is lower in calories. Other dogs have entirely the opposite problem—they lose weight as they age, sometimes as the result of heart or periodontal disease or diabetes. In either case, ask your veterinarian for advice about your pet’s individual nutritional requirements.

    Put comfort on the menu
    You should also ensure that your dog is comfortable while eating. Most pet owners place food dishes and water bowls on the floor, but this may be a source of discomfort for a large or overweight dog, or for one whose arthritis makes it difficult—or even painful—to bend down. Many pet supply outlets have eating tables that are specially designed with cut-outs for food and water containers and are available in various heights to suit various sizes of dogs. Or you can fashion your own inexpensive solution to this problem: for example, a plastic crate covered in a towel to absorb spills.

    Senior dog food doÂ’s & donÂ’ts
    Do make sure that your dogÂ’s diet includes at least 18% high-quality protein and 5% fat per serving.
    Do consider, in consultation with your veterinarian, increasing the level of fibre in his diet, especially if he suffers from frequent constipation.
    DonÂ’t feed your dog between-meal snacks or table scraps.

    The top 10 health tips for senior dogs
    1. Take your dog to his or her veterinarian for twice-yearly checkups.
    2. Become informed about conditions and diseases common to senior dogs, be on the lookout for symptoms and, should they arise, inform your dogÂ’s veterinarian promptly.
    3. Feed your dog the best food you can afford and consider giving him two small meals a day rather than one large one.
    4. Don’t overfeed—obesity causes many health problems and may shorten your dog’s life.
    5. Consider, on your veterinarianÂ’s recommendation, the use of dietary supplements such as glucosamine/chondroitin for arthritis. Your veterinarian may recommend daily pain medication.
    6. Make sure your dog receives adequate exercise, according to his physical capacities.
    7. Look after your dogÂ’s dental health. Brush his teeth daily and have them cleaned professionally when your veterinarian so advises.
    8. Have your veterinarian do a risk assessment to determine an appropriate vaccination protocol for your dog.
    9. Do your utmost to control ticks and fleas and make sure your dog and his environment (his bed, play area, etc.) are always spotlessly clean.
    10. Give your dog lots of love and attention and do all you can to keep him interested, active, happy and comfortable.


    INTRODUCTION TO PUPPY TEETH: (the pictures below are of a Rottweiler but the information is good except for what AKC standard is for the correct bite)

    Rottweiler puppies should have 28 temporary teeth that erupt at about three to four weeks of age. They will eventually have 42 permanent adult teeth that begin to emerge at about three to four months of age. As puppies, there are 14 upper and 14 lower puppy teeth.

    There are four types of teeth with different functions:

    Incisors: Used for cutting and nibbling food. Incisors are the front teeth situated directly in-between the canines. In adults and puppies, there are six upper and six lower. These are the front teeth and all six upper and all six lower are all in a row. The center two teeth are usually somewhat smaller and the incisor teeth get larger as you move out and away from the center.

    Canine teeth: Used to hold and tear food. The canines are the large fangs. The lower canines lock in position in front of the upper canines. The canines are situated directly between the incisors and the premolars. In adults and puppies, there are exactly two upper and two lower canines. There is one on each side of the upper jaw and one on each side of the lower jaw.

    Premolars: Used for cutting, holding, and shearing food. The premolars are positioned behind the canines and in front of the molars. Puppies do not have all of their premolars, but when the adult teeth come in, there will be 8 premolars on the top and 8 premolars on the bottom. Four premolars are on each side of the upper jaw and four premolars are on each side of the lower jaw in adults.

    Molars: Used to grind food. The molars are positioned behind the premolars and are the last teeth in the back of the jaw. There are 4 molars on the top, two on each side, and 6 molars on the bottom, three on each side. Puppies don't have molars.

    Rottweiler puppy
    Diagram #1: Nine week old puppy,
    showing a correct scissors bite.

    In Diagram #1, you can see the incisors labeled "I", 1,2,& 3. Each tooth is identified by the upper or lower jaw and distinguished between left and right sides. The teeth labeled "C" are the canines. The large gaps between the teeth on even this nine week old puppy are normal and the gaps get larger as the puppy grows, prior to the adult teeth coming in. These puppy teeth are extremely tiny and it's not hard to tell the difference between them and adult teeth.

    Rottweiler puppy
    Diagram #2: Upper teeth of nine
    week old puppy, showing 14 teeth.

    Diagram #2 shows what you can expect to see in your own puppy's mouth. There are large gaps between the teeth at this point which should not be cause for alarm, yet. If you see gaps like this in an adult's mouth, you probably have missing teeth. In diagram #2, if you count the three back teeth you can see on each side, the Premolars, that's six, then add the two Canines, that's eight, and then add the six Incisors, that's a total of 14 teeth on the top.

    Rottweiler puppy
    Diagram #3: Lower teeth of nine week old puppy.

    In Diagram #3, you see half of the lower jaw. It's nearly impossible to take a photo of the entire lower jaw showing all the lower teeth at the same time because the tongue and the lips naturally cover the teeth. The P1's and P2's are the hardest of all the teeth to show. Puppies don't have P1's, so there aren't any in Diagram #3. The P1's will be coming up in the gap you see in Diagram #3 in-between the teeth that are labeled "Canine" and "P2". In Diagram #3, if you count the three back teeth you can see, the Premolars, add the ones on the other side, that's six, add the two canines, that's eight, and finally add the six incisors, that's 14 on the bottom.

    Rottweiler puppy
    Diagram #4: Chart showing a full set of puppy teeth.

    Puppies should lose a puppy tooth before the corresponding adult tooth emerges, but many timesyou'll see both the puppy tooth and the adult tooth side by side. This is especially true of the canines (commonly called the fangs). If a puppy tooth is still in place when an adult tooth begins to show, and it shows no signs of looseness, see your veterinarian to decide if the puppy tooth needs to be pulled so the dog's occlusion is not affected.

    Rottweiler puppy
    Diagram #5: Upper teeth of a youth dog
    under 9 months old, showing extra teeth.

    In Diagram #5, this photo actually shows newly erupted adult teeth still in transition, and one extra incisor tooth. The canines are marked with "C", and at this point the puppy canines are side by side with the adult canines which are still coming in. All of the large teeth in-between the canines are adult incisors. See how much larger the adult teeth are, and the gaps are closed. I'm pointing out the difference in size, because people get confused when they see an extra adult tooth. They think that it must be a puppy tooth that has not fallen out, but visually, you can see that the difference in size is enormous. Thus, any additional teeth in the mouth of this dog are extra adult teeth, and a decision must be made carefully and quickly as to whether or not the extra teeth should be pulled. Extra teeth left in the mouth, especially incisors, can throw a bite off and render the dog as pet quality and show disqualified.

    Rottweiler puppy
    Diagram #6: Lower teeth of a youth Rottweiler dog
    under 9 months old, showing extra teeth.

    In Diagram #6, this photo shows newly erupted adult teeth still in transition, and two extra adult incisor teeth on the bottom which have pushed the bottom incisors forward and out of alignment for a scissors bite. It is vitally important to keep a close eye on your puppy's teeth watching for abnormalities.

    Divider Bar


    Rottweiler teeth
    Diagram #7: Shows a correct scissors bite on an adult Rottweiler.

    Rottweiler teeth
    Diagram #8: Chart showing the correct number
    and placement of the upper and lower teeth.

    Rottweiler teeth
    Diagram #9: Showing the jaw closed and
    how the teeth should mesh properly.

    Rottweiler teeth
    Diagram #10: A good view of the root system for the teeth.

    Rottweiler teeth
    Diagram #11: View of a moderate overbite,
    with the canines in reverse order.

    In Diagram #11, this drawing of a moderate overbite.

    Rottweiler teeth
    Diagram #12: Shows a regular overbite,
    a show disqualifying feature.

    In Diagram #12, the drawing shows a regular overbite. On occasion, a regular overbite can and sometimes does correct into a scissors bite.

    A puppy's bottom jaw will continue to grow until they are approximately nine months old, which means the bite is in transition until 9 to 11 months old. It should be noted that the top jaw is also in transition and growing during this period. The bite can go either way, from scissors to underbite or from scissors to overbite, or the most common would be from scissors to level bite.

    Rottweiler teeth
    Diagram #13: Shows a level bite.

    In Diagram #13, the drawing shows a level bite 

    Rottweiler teeth
    Diagram #14: Shows an underbite,
    a show disqualifying feature.

    In Diagram #14, the drawing shows an underbite .

    The only bite abnormality we don't currently have a drawing or photo of is the wry bite. A wry bite is when the teeth are crooked. Some of the teeth would be considered an overbite and some would be considered an underbite and some meet dead level. I've only seen a handful of wry bites, and some were caused by outside influences, and some were purely genetic.

    Divider Bar

    Studies show that by age three, 80 percent of dogs exhibit signs of gum disease. Symptoms include yellow and brown build-up of tartar along the gumline, red inflamed gums and persistent bad breath. Small dog breeds are more likely to develop periodontal disease than large dogs because the teeth of small dogs are often too large for their mouths, according to veterinary dentistry experts. Plaque on dog's teeth are a concern because it can lead to heart disease.


    Canine CPR:

    Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

    Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the treatment required to save an animal (or human) life when he or she has suffered respiratory and/or cardiac arrest. CPR consists of two parts:

    Rescue breathing and chest compressions.

    These two techniques combine to keep the lungs supplied with oxygen and keep blood circulating, carrying oxygen to the other parts of the body.

    Basic CPR is CPR performed by trained bystanders at the scene of the arrest.

    Advanced CPR is CPR performed by trained teams of professionals.

    Basic CPR is the most important, and will be described in this section.

    All tissues require a steady source of oxygen. If the source is interrupted for only a few minutes, irreversible damage may be done. If an arrest occurs, basic CPR must be initiated at the scene.

    Basic CPR: Rescue Breathing

    Make Certain the Animal is Actually Arrested and Unconscious
    Talk to the animal first. Gently touch and attempt to awaken the pet. You could be seriously injured should you attempt to perform CPR on a pet who was only sleeping heavily and was startled awake.

    Ensure an Open Airway
    Extend the head and neck and pull the tongue forward.


    Look in the mouth and remove any saliva or vomitus. If it is too dark to see into the mouth, sweep your finger deep into the mouth and even into the throat to remove any vomitus or foreign body. Be aware of a hard, smooth, bone-like structure deep in the throat. This is likely to be the hyoid apparatus (Adam's apple). Serious injury could result if you pull on the hyoid apparatus.

    Observe for Effective Breathing
    Sometimes an animal will begin to breathe spontaneously when the head is put in the position discussed above (head and neck extended, tongue pulled forward). Watch for the rise and fall of the chest while listening closely for sounds of breathing. If no breathing is evident in 10 seconds, begin rescue breathing.

    Begin Rescue Breathing
    Rescue breathing is performed by covering the animal's nose with your mouth and forcefully blowing your breath into his lungs. In cats and small dogs, you must hold the corners of the mouth tightly closed while you force the air in.


    In larger dogs, the tongue should be pulled forward and the mouth and lips held shut using both hands cupped around the muzzle. Force the air into the lungs until you see the chest expand. Take your mouth away when the chest has fully expended. The lungs will deflate on their own. Air should be forced into the animal's lungs until you see the chest expand.

    Give 3 to 5 Full Breaths
    After several breaths are given, stop for a few seconds to recheck for breathing and heart function. If the pet is still not breathing, continue rescue breathing 20-25 times per minute in cats or small dogs, or 12-20 times per minute in medium or large dogs. Push down on the stomach area every few seconds to help expel the air that may have blown into the stomach. If the stomach is allowed to distend with air, the pressure will make the rescue breathing efforts less effective.

    If Breathing is Shallow or Non-existent
    and the animal is still unconscious, continue rescue breathing 10 to 15 times per minute and transport the animal to the nearest veterinary facility.

    Basic CPR: Chest Compressions

    After Giving 3 to 5 Breaths, Check for a Pulse
    If no pulse is detectable, begin chest compressions.

    In Small Dogs or Cats
    Squeeze the chest using one or both hands around the chest. Depress the rib cage circumferentially. Do this 100 to 150 times per minute.


    In Large Dogs
    Compress the chest wall with one or two hands, depending on the size of the dog (and the size of the rescuer). If the dog is on her side, place the hand(s) on the side of the chest wall where it is widest. If the dog is on her back, place the hand(s) on the sternum (breastbone). Depress the rib cage or sternum 1.5 to 4 inches, depending on the dog's size. Do this 80 to 120 times per minute.

    Coordinate Rescue Breathing and Chest Compressions
    Give breaths during the compressions, if possible. If it is not possible to give breaths during the compressions, give two breaths after every 12 compressions.

    When Two or More Rescuers are Working Together
    Rescue breathing should be given during every second or third heart compression.

    Continue CPR Until

    • You become exhausted and can't continue. 
    • You get the animal transported to a veterinary facility and professionals can take over. The pulse is palpable or heartbeats are felt and they are strong and regular. In the vast majority of cases, artificial ventilations will continue to be required for a period of time, even though heart function has returned. This is due to nervous system depression secondary to the arrest.

    All resuscitated animals should be transported to a veterinary facility for further examination and care!

    Secondary Survey
    The secondary survey is performed once resuscitation measures have been successfully performed or when it is decided that resuscitation measures are not required. In some circumstances (because of ongoing resuscitation), the secondary survey is never completed and the animal is transported directly to the veterinarian or emergency hospital during resuscitation.

    A general examination (from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail) should be performed. Determine and record:

    • pulse rate and character
    • respiratory rate and character
    • mucous membrane color
    • capillary refill time
    • rectal temperature.

    Examine the eyes, ears, nose, neck, mouth (if possible), chest, abdomen, back, pelvis, legs, and tail. First aid treatment should be performed as necessary during transport to the veterinarian.

    Taking and recording your pet's pulse is an important part of the secondary survey.



    Internal anatomy of a dog

    Internal anatomy of a dog: carnivorous domestic mammal raised to perform various tasks for humans.
    Encephalon: seat of the intelluctual capacities of a dog.
    Spinal column: important part of the nervous system.
    Stomach: part of the digestive tract between the esophagus and the intestine.
    Spleen: hematopoiesis organ that produces lymphocytes.
    Kidney: blood-purifying organ.
    Rectum: last part of the intestine.
    Bladder: pocket in which urine collects before being eliminated.
    Penis: copulative male sexual organ.
    Testicle: sperm-producing male sexual organ.
    Intestine: last part of the digestive tract.
    Liver: bile-producing digestive gland.
    Heart: blood-pumping organ.
    Lung: respiratory organ.
    Trachea: tube that carries air to the lungs.
    Esophagus: last part of the digestive tract.
    Larynx: part of a dog's throat that contains the vocal cords.




    Animal Health Trust Cancer Genetics Studies

    Genetic studies on the predisposition of pedigree dog breeds to developing certain cancers

    The Animal Health Trust is a charity that has been helping dogs, cats and horses for more than half a century. The AHT provides specialist veterinary clinical, diagnostic and surgical services, and is dedicated to the study of canine, equine and feline diseases. The AHT multidisciplinary Oncology Research Group is currently investigating many different aspects of a number of the most common cancers of dogs and cats.

    Cancer is a major cause of death in dogs, and tumors are twice as common in dogs as in humans. Certain breeds of dog are much more likely to develop cancer than other breeds, with some families within these breeds being particularly susceptible to some cancers. The inherited susceptibility probably results from the combined effects of many modified genes, each of which alone, confers a low to moderate increase in risk. The risk of developing a cancer is thought to increase according to the number of altered genes carried.

    In the long term, we hope that the research will lead to the development of diagnostic tests to identify the gene alterations that confer increased risk, thereby enabling early identification and treatment of cancers and allowing breeders to take these gene mutations into consideration in their breeding programs.

    There are two common approaches to identifying the genes that are associated with disease. The first focuses on families in which the disease has been shown to be inherited, studying an affected dog(s), its siblings, its dam and sire, and its grandparents. The second approach is to compare dogs with the disease and unrelated animals of the same breed who are not affected by the disease.

    We need to collect samples from as many dogs (belonging to the 5 breeds listed above) as possible. Once we have these samples in place, we can apply for funding to carry out the research that will enable us to identify the cancer-related genes contained in the genetic material (DNA). DNA can be isolated either from cells gathered from the inside of a dog’s cheek, or ideally from a small volume of blood.
    We would like to collect samples from dogs who have (or have had) one of the 3 cancers (and may, or may not, belong to a family in which cancer appears to be inherited), and from dogs (preferably at least 5 years old) that have not had cancer.

    In 2005, we hosted two Open Days at the AHT for representatives of the 5 breed societies to explain the work that we are currently doing and what we would like to do. In addition, we are continually recruiting breeders and owners who are interested in taking part in these research studies by submitting cheek swabs, or blood samples, from their dog(s).

    Since blood sampling is an invasive procedure, we only ask owners to save surplus blood from that collected by a vet as part of a general health check, or for another medical reason.

    If you would like to take part in these studies please complete the form below and return it to Dr Mike Starkey at the Animal Health Trust, either by post (to the address at the bottom of the page), or by fax to +44 (0)8700 502461.

    If you have any questions, or would like further details, please contact
    Dr Mike Starkey [Tel.: +44 (0)8700 509188; E-mail:].


    Veterinary Abbreviations & Acronyms

    Common veterinary abbreviations and acronyms, including those for laboratory tests, diseases, weights, and measurements are described.


    Their Meanings






    anterior cruciate ligament


    activated clotting time


    adrenocorticotropic hormone


    antidiuretic hormone

    ad lib

    as much as desired




    agar gel immunodiffusion


    artificial insemination


    autoimmune hemolytic anemia


    alkaline phosphatase


    alanine aminotransferase (SGPT)




    anterior posterior


    activated partial thromboplastin time


    aspartate aminotransferase (SGOT)


    adenosine triphosphate








    twice a day


    basal metabolic rate


    blood pressure




    blood urea nitrogen


    body weight


    cervical vertebrae (C1-C7)


    degree Celsius (centigrade)






    computerized axial tomography


    canine adenovirus


    cubic centimeter


    canine coronavirus


    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


    canine distemper virus


    cardiac failure,
    complement fixation


    congestive heart failure


    canine herpes virus


    creatine kinase






    cell-mediated immunity


    central nervous system


    carbon dioxide


    creatinine phosphokinase


    cardiopulmonary resuscitation


    canine parvovirus


    cerebrospinal fluid






    Drug Enforcement Agency




    disseminated intravascular coagulation


    degenerative joint disease




    diabetes mellitus


    dimethyl sulfoxide


    deoxyribonucleic acid


    desoxycorticosterone pivalate






    estradiol cypionate




    essential fatty acids


    for example


    enzyme immunoassay




    enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay


    electron microscopy


    Environmental Protection Agency


    eggs per gram (of feces)




    degree Fahrenheit


    fatty acid,
    fluorescent antibody


    flea allergy dermatitis


    fragmented coronoid process


    feline calicivirus


    Food and Drug Administration




    feline leukemia virus


    feline herpes virus


    feline infectious peritonitis


    feline immunodeficiency virus


    feline lower urinary tract disease


    feline oncovirus - associated cell membrane antigen


    feline rhinotracheitis virus


    foot, feet


    fever of undetermined origin


    feline urologic syndrome (now termed feline lower urinary tract disease)








    gastric dilatation and volvulus


    growth hormone







    H and E

    hematoxylin and eosin (stain)








    hemorrhagic gastroenteritis


    hemagglutination inhibition


    hypertrophic osteodystrophy


    high-power field






    inflammatory bowel disease




    infectious canine hepatitis




    insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus


    intradermal skin test


    that is




    immunoglobulin (with class following: A, D, E, G, or M)


    indirect hemagglutination antibody












    international unit(s)




    intervertebral disc


    intravenous pyelogram,
    intravenous pyelography






    keratoconjunctivitis sicca




    kilovolt peak








    lupus erythematosus

    lg an

    large animal(s), ie, farm animals, horses


    low-power field






    monoamine oxidase inhibitor




    mean corpuscular volume


    metabolizable energy












    minimum inhibitory concentration






    modified live virus










    magnetic resonance imaging




    no abnormalities found






    National Research Council


    non-steroidal anti-inflammatories






    osteochondritis dissecans


    right eye


    Orthopedic Foundation for Animals


    ocular larval migran


    left eye


    over the counter








    polymerase chain reaction


    packed cell volume


    patent ductus arteriosus


    physical exam




    negative logarithm of hydrogen ion activity (measure of the acidity of a solution)




    per os, orally




    part(s) per billion


    part(s) per million


    progressive retinal atrophy


    as required


    prothrombin time




    parathyroid hormone




    four times daily


    every 4 hours


    every other day




    roentgen unit(s)


    rheumatoid arthritis




    red blood cell(s)


    Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever


    ribonucleic acid


    treatment, prescription








    aspartate aminotransferase (ALT)


    alanine aminotransferase


    systemic lupus erythematosus

    sm an

    small animal(s), ie, cats, dogs


    species (sing.)/species (pl.)


    specific pathogen free




    selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor





    Sub Q











    total digestible nutrients


    three times daily




    thyroid stimulating hormone






    ununited anconeal process


    United States Pharmacopeia


    urinary tract infection


    ventral dorsal




    visceral larval migran


    virus neutralization


    western blot


    white blood cell,
    white blood (cell) count








    Got a Question?