Canine
Health

Can Dogs Have Seasonal Allergies?

 

The most common allergens for dogs fall into three general categories: 

 

  • Environmental (also known as Atopy). This often includes the same things that make humans sniffle and sneeze that your dog inhales, such as plant pollens, mold spores, dust mites—and even cats

 

  • External parasites. Uncontrolled fleas can pose a big problem. However, some dogs might also be overly sensitive to ticks and ear mites

 

  • Food. Yes, your fur baby can be allergic to certain foods, including gluten, soy, dairy, and various proteins.

 

'Seasonal' allergies in dogs can be somewhat misleading, as some pets might be affected by environmental irritants all year long. Because plants vary by season and environment, symptom severity is often seasonal in nature. A change of geographical location can sometimes exhibit or resolve allergic reactions. This allergic response is known as canine atopic dermatitis or atopy skin disease.

 

Most dogs that suffer from atopy begin to show signs in young adulthood, typically between 1–3 years old, but this varies depending on the dog.

 

This disease is thought to be hereditary and thus, purebred dogs are commonly affected, although it's important to note that any dog, including mixed breed dogs, can suffer from atopic skin disease.

 

Breeds such as various types of retrieversterriers (particularly West Highland terriers), and bulldogs are more prone to environmental allergens.

Dog Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

 

Signs of allergies in dogs differ from those in humans.  A dog's seasonal allergy symptoms frequently appear around the ears, underarms, front legs, and feet. You might notice signs of atopic dermatitis such as:

 

 

If your dog is scratching, head shaking, rubbing, or licking excessively, they're uncomfortable, and it's time to take them to your veterinarian. These behaviors can cause or aggravate secondary ear and skin infections by further damaging the skin's protective barriers. So, the sooner the better!

 

How to Help Dogs with Seasonal Allergies

 

If your fur baby is having chronic bouts of scratching, itching, paw licking, ear and or skin infections you may want to have an allergy test done. You can talk to your vet about it and what steps to take after your get the results back. The tests will tell you what foods and environmental elements your pooch is allergic to or are sensitive to.

The best home remedy for easing discomfort and maintaining a healthy skin barrier is to bathe your dog with a gentle veterinarian-approved shampoo. There are some on the market that don't strip away their natural oils (which causes more dry skin and itching!) and often contain Omega–3 fatty acid supplements for healthy coats. Ask your vet for product recommendations — for both your dog's health and to get the most value for your money. "There are a lot of gimmicky products which may not only be ineffective but also worsen your dog's condition, so watch out!"

 

You can give your dog Benadryl or some other type of over-the-counter allergy medicine but consult your veterinarian first to make sure it's ok and what the dosage should be.

 

Some Tips That Should Help Ease Your Pup's Discomfort

 

Like us, dogs who are atopic can react to numerous things. For example, if you've heard of hay fever in dogs, this is technically a pollen allergy or seasonal allergic rhinitis. It's actually a response to various types of fine pollen grains released by trees, grasses, and weeds to fertilize within their species.

 

But remember, environmental allergens such as dust mites and mold spores (and possibly the cat!) can also cause an allergic reaction for your dog. So after allergy testing, your vet will provide some additional tips for minimizing the effects of their specific irritant, such as:

 

  1. Wipe off their paws and coat after being outside with clean, wet cloths.

  2. Don't spend a lot of time outdoors when the pollen count is high (this varies by area and season).

  3. Steer clear of areas with diverse vegetation.

  4. Mow the lawn shorter.

  5. Clean bedding once a week in hot water. 

  6. Use a dehumidifier to reduce dampness.

  7. Invest in a quality air purifier

  8. Vacuum often and use wet cleaners on hardwood floors. 

  9. Don't keep your pet in a damp garage or basement.

  10. Provide separate areas for your pooch and kitty to sleep and eat to reduce dander and saliva exposure.

 
 

10 Common Dog Health Problems

There are a number of reasons for dogs to become sick. Even though taking really good care of your dog can lower the risks of health problems, they can still occur. Regular vet visits can help catch any issues or problems before they get out of control. Know your dog and keep an eye out for any signs of illness. Just like humans, there are many health issues that can affect dogs. Here are the 10 most common health problems:

 

Skin Problems

There are a variety of skin issues a dog can experience. Itching and scratching are obvious signs of a sking problem. You may also see rashes, redness, dry skin, inflammation, lumps, bumps, skin sores, dandruff, flaky or scaly skin, and hair loss.

There are several reasons a dog may develop skin problems, including allergies, parasites, skin infections, and more. If your dog is constantly scratching or chewing, or if its skin appears abnormal, see your vet before your dog becomes downright miserable.

Ear Diseases

Ear infections often cause dogs to shake their heads and scratch their ears. Approximately 20 percent of dogs suffer from ear infections. It’s particularly common in breeds with floppy ears like cocker spaniels and basset hounds. It’s common to see wax buildup or debris in their ear canal and there can be a bad odor. Others may experience pain, itchiness, redness, swelling, and crusting in the ears. If left untreated, it can cause serious damage. If your dog is exhibiting signs of an ear infection for more than a day or two, go to your vet. Ear infections sometimes accompany skin issues. In addition, they may be related to allergies.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary issues are common in dogs. Simply known as UTI, this condition can make it uncomfortable for your beloved companion to pass urine. Signs of UTI include inappropriate urination, frequent urination, increased thirst, bloody urine, and lethargy.

It's frustrating to deal with a dog who is peeing in the house. Many owners chalk it up to behavioral issues or lack of training. However, your dog may have a urinary tract infection, especially if it is a puppy or has other underlying medical conditions. These symptoms can also be associated with other medical conditions, such as kidney disease and diabetes, so if this sounds familiar, bring your dog to the vet so the urine can be checked.

Vomiting

There are many reasons for a dog to throw up. It is not necessary to rush your dog to the vet each time, but at the same time, it is not something you should ignore. If your pup keeps vomiting or if there are other symptoms such as diarrhea, lack of appetite, or lethargy you should see the vet right away. It could be a sign of toxicity, gastrointestinal blockage, or other serious diseases.
 

Diarrhea

The potential causes of diarrhea are similar to those of vomiting. Diarrhea may occur on its own or be accompanied by vomiting. One or two episodes of diarrhea may not be a pet emergency, however, recurring diarrhea can lead to dehydration. See your vet if diarrhea persists, appears black or bloody, or if it accompanies vomiting and/or lethargy.

 

Parasites

It is inevitable that your dog will have to deal with some sort of parasite. They may be external parasites, like fleas and ticks, or internal parasites like heartworms and intestinal worms. Symptoms of parasites generally vary, depending on a few factors. These include the kind of parasite that has plagued your pet, where it lives, and how severe its infestation is. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent parasites from attacking your dog, usually with monthly preventive treatments. Educate yourself about canine parasites so you can protect your dog.

Dental Issues

 

Similar to humans, dogs can develop canine dental disease due to high levels of plaque buildup. This is a serious and often overlooked health concern for dogs.

Several signs indicate that your pet may have dental disease. These include difficulty eating, bleeding of the gums or teeth, loose teeth, and bad breath. Plaque and tartar in your dog's mouth harbor dangerous bacteria, causing damage to the teeth and gums.

 

Even worse, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream, potentially leading to damage to the heart and kidneys.6 The key to protecting your dog is prevention.

Obesity

Obesity is a common health problem seen in dogs. It's also one of the most preventable.

There are several contributing factors: age, genetic predisposition, lack of exercise, and overfeeding.

Obesity can lead to serious health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and orthopedic problems. Again, obesity can be prevented (and can usually be reversed) through proper diet and exercise.

Arthritis

Arthritis is defined as inflammation of a joint or multiple joints in the body. This joint problem can restrict your dog’s mobility. In dogs, the most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, also called Degenerative Joint Disease.  Osteoarthritis most often occurs in seniors, though it may also be an effect of old injuries or congenital disorders like hip dysplasia. The good news is that it can typically be managed. If you see your dog slow down or limp before and after walks bring them to the vet to get checked out. Other signs include licking or chewing on tender areas and behavioral changes.

Poisoning

Dogs are curious and food-driven. They tend to get into a lot of things that they shouldn't! Toxins come in many different forms and are often (but not always) ingested. Plants, medications, household items, cleaning products, and even some foods can poison your dog.  Some of the most common poisonous human foods are chocolates, grapes, raisins, onions, and caffeine. Signs of poisoning vary widely and depend on the type of toxin your pet was exposed to.

The signs can range from vomiting to drooling, breathing difficulties, seizures, or worse, coma.  

 

Find out what dangers may exist in your dog's environment.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately!

 

Can Dogs Have Asthmas?

How To Treat Your Pup's Breathing Problems

 

By Austin Cannon       Medically Reviewed by Deb M. Eldredge, DVM          Updated July 27, 2022

 

Your veterinarian will need to diagnose it before treatment can start.

 

We humans with asthma can have a tough time without our inhalers. But what about our furry friends? Can dogs have asthma? Do they have inhalers, too? 

Yes and yes, according to Lori Bierbrier, DVM and ASPCA Community Medicine's senior medical director. Asthma in dogs is usually caused by allergies, she says, but it's still not very common—and you'll want to make sure your pup isn't wheezing because of another breathing condition. 

If you're worried that your dog might have asthma, here's what you should know. 

 

Can Dogs Have Asthma?

 

It's uncommon, but yes. Of course, you'll need your veterinarian to determine if your dog has asthma. There are several conditions that can cause breathing problems in dogs—like kennel cough or even heart disease—so asthma might not be the culprit. 

And remember: Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds, like English bulldogsFrench bulldogs, and pugs, often have trouble breathing, Bierbrier says. But that's likely because of their anatomy rather than an affliction like asthma. 

 

Signs and Symptoms of Asthma in Dogs

 

This is a serious illness, Bierbrier says, adding that there are several signs of asthma attacks in dogs, including:

 

If your dog starts exhibiting these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately. If they're unavailable, you may need to call or visit an emergency vet's office.

At the vet's office, the vet and vet techs will examine your dog and run some tests to check her respiratory system, Bierbrier says. Your dog will likely undergo an X-ray as well to determine if there's an infection anywhere in her chest.  

 

Here's What Might Be Causing Your Dog's Asthma

 

Bierbrier says canine asthma is typically the result of your dog reacting to something she's allergic to. Some allergens may cause your dog to itch, but the ones that cause asthma attacks are airborne—pollen, dust mites, cigarette smoke, perfumes, and air fresheners. 

You'll need your veterinarian to determine if your dog's asthma—or other health concerns—are caused by allergies. Thankfully, there are several ways you can test your dog for allergies. Just consult your veterinarian on the best way to do it for your pup.    

 

How To Treat Asthma in Dogs

 

If your pup does indeed have asthma, you'll need to consult your vet on how to best treat her. They might prescribe medicine for your dog through an inhaler. In fact, some of it is the same medication we human asthmatics use. (My brand of inhaler is even a dog-friendly option. Solidarity!)  

"Inhalers with prescription medication can be fitted to a mask and used to relax the airways and make it easier to breathe," Bierbrier says. 

You'll need a veterinarian's blessing before you go the inhaler route, and they'll likely be able to train you and your dog how to use the medicine and mask.  

And while the medicine can help fight off your dog's symptoms, you can also take preventative measures to keep your pup feeling good. 

First, if it's hot and humid outside, stop your dog from exercising or exerting herself. (Even if your dog doesn't have asthma, you should still be aware when it's too hot outside for your dog.) You can also keep your house free of the allergens that could cause your dog's asthma to flare up, Bierbrier says. That includes: 

  • Vacuuming regularly

  • Cleaning pet beds

  • Installing an air purifier

  • Smoking outside the house

  • Lessening the use of fragrances, perfumes, and air fresheners 

 

If you follow that plan, you'll likely relieve some of your dog's—and your own—asthma symptoms. 

 

What Causes Staph Infections in Dogs?

 

By Sarah Mouton Dowdy  Medically Reviewed by Michelle Moyal, DVM May 24, 2022

Article from dailypaws.com

 

Bacteria are a natural part of your dog's body, but they can use cuts, irritation, and illness to go from normal to nasty.

 

Staph infections in dogs are caused by bacteria. No surprises there. But did you know that bacteria is actually a normal part of your pet's microbiome? The microbiome is a natural combination of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites that live on or in the bodies of dogs, humans, and other animals. Believe it or not, these microbes are beneficial when they are kept in balance.

All dogs have several species of Staphylococcus bacteria from birth and they likely acquire it from their moms and their environment, says Amelia White, DVM, MS, DACVD, Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in Auburn, Al. "In healthy dogs," she explains, "this bacteria can typically be found in the mucous membranes (e.g. nose, mouth, genitals). It only becomes a problem for dogs when they become sick or injured."

What Causes Staph Infections in Dogs?

"Staph" (pronounced staff) infections in dogs are caused by an overgrowth of Staphylococcus bacteria. Staphylococcal bacteria on your dog's skin is normal, but staph infections of the skin (also called staphylococcal dermatitis) definitely aren't. The difference between the two comes down to the pet's skin barrier and immune system. When these are compromised, an infection can occur.

"When animals become ill, pathogenic (i.e. disease-causing) bacteria inhabiting the skin can overgrow the 'good' bacteria and lead to infections at various body sites," White explains. "For example, dogs with allergic skin disease have dysbiosis of the microbiome or an imbalance of good and pathogenic bacteria. During an allergy flare, these pathogenic bacteria are found in higher numbers on the skin and are thought to contribute to the inflammation and unhealthy condition of the skin."

This irritation of the skin's barrier, coupled with the scratching, chewing, and licking that tends to accompany allergies in dogs, can allow opportunistic staphylococcal bacteria to penetrate and infect the skin.

In addition to allergies (like flea allergies, food allergies, atopic dermatitis, or seasonal allergies), the Merck Veterinary Manual notes that staph infections can be triggered by:

  •  Skin wounds or burns

  •  Hormone issues (such as hypothyroidism)

  •  External parasites (such as mange or fleas)

  •  Hair follicle abnormalities (like follicular dysplasia)

  •  Keratinization disorders (such as seborrhea)

  •  Poor grooming

  • Anatomy (such as deep skin folds)

 

Staph infections can occur in any dog regardless of breed or age, but they are more common in older pets because their immune systems are weaker.

Signs and Symptoms of Staph Infections in Dogs

The signs of staph infections in dogs largely depend on where the infection is located, White says. Bacterial infections of the skin (commonly referred to as pyodermas) can affect both the superficial and deeper layers of the skin, she continues. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, superficial infections typically affect a dog's chest and abdomen. Deeper infections are more commonly found on the muzzle, chin, between the toes, and on pressure points like elbows, knees, and hocks (lower part of hind legs).

Superficial skin infections are the most common skin infections in dogs, says White. Common signs include:

  •  Red, hot, swollen skin

  •  Skin lesions like papules (small, red bumps), pustules (acne), crusts, and erosions

  •  Hair loss

  •  Itchiness

 

Dogs with deeper infections in the dermal and fat layers of the skin may show these signs:

 

If you see any of the above signs in your pet, regardless of whether they correspond to superficial or deep infections, it's time to take your dog to the veterinarian.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Staph Infection in Dogs

If you suspect your dog has a staph infection, your veterinarian will need to physically examine your pet and will likely recommend various tests (like a bacterial culture or skin cytology) to get to a diagnosis. Because staph infections are secondary infections, it's crucial to determine the primary cause so it can be treated as well. If the primary cause is not addressed, it is very likely that the staph infection will continue to come back!

According to White, topical antiseptic therapies are safe and effective treatments for staph infections. "This includes the use of medicated shampoos, sprays, wipes, mousses, and creams for several weeks," she explains. "When bacterial infections are in the bloodstream or deeper layers of skin, antibiotics are administered as pills or injections to help treat the infections."

White notes that the treatment regimen required for staph infections can be tricky for pet parents to follow—especially those with busy schedules and dogs who are difficult to medicate—but that it's vital to remain diligent for the sake of antibiotic resistance. "When these medications aren't administered on time or for a long enough duration, antibiotic resistance is more likely to develop," she continues. "Resistant skin infections like methicillin-resistant (MRS), multidrug-resistant (MDRS) Staphylococcus are common in both human and veterinary medicine, and they complicate treatment." It's very important to use all of the medications prescribed by your veterinarian.

Moreover, because staph infections are contagious, White says that an antibiotic-resistant infection in one pet poses a risk to other pets and even people living in the same home (especially if they have suppressed immune systems or open sores). If your pet is diagnosed with an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, your veterinarian will likely suggest extra precautions, such as wearing gloves when handling infected items and regularly disinfecting surfaces with bleach.

 

Once the staph infection is treated, White says it's important for pet parents to follow up with their veterinarian to make sure the primary cause of infection has been properly diagnosed and managed. "When the primary disease is left untreated," she explains, "the skin infection will return." So, it's best not to assume that your dog's staph infection is gone just because the skin looks better.

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How To Keep Your Dog Healthy 

By AKC Staff / akc.org

June 16, 2019

Your dog will rely on you to keep him in good health. A proper diet, regular exercise and grooming, and routine check-ups at the veterinarian will help keep your dog in top form. It’s also important for you to get to know your dog’s habits — eating, drinking, sleeping, and so forth — since sometimes a variation in those habits can be an indication that he isn’t feeling well.

 

Ask your veterinarian for advice on healthcare and prevention and be sure to seek medical advice if you think your dog is ill or hurt. AKC Pet Insurance can help with the cost of providing quality healthcare throughout your dog’s life.

 

Signs of Good Health

Skin

Healthy skin is flexible and smooth, without scabs, growths, white flakes, or red areas. It ranges in color from pale pink to brown or black depending on the breed. Spotted skin is normal, whether the dog has a spotted or solid coat. Check your dog for fleas, ticks, lice, or other external parasites. To do this, blow gently on your dog’s stomach or brush hair backward in a few places to see if any small specks scurry away or if ticks are clinging to the skin. Black “dirt” on your dog’s skin or bedding may be a sign of flea droppings.

 

Coat

A healthy coat, whether short or long, is glossy and pliable, without dandruff, bald spots, or excessive oiliness.

 

Eye

Healthy eyes are bright and shiny. Mucus and watery tears are normal but should be minimal and clear. The pink lining of the eyelids should not be inflamed, swollen, or have a yellow discharge. Sometimes you can see your dog’s third eyelid, a light membrane, at the inside corner of an eye. It may slowly come up to cover his eye as he goes to sleep. The whites of your dog’s eyes should not be yellowish. Eyelashes should not rub the eyeball.

 

Ears

The skin inside your dog’s ears should be light pink and clean. There should be some yellow or brownish wax, but a large amount of wax or crust is abnormal. There should be no redness or swelling inside the ear, and your dog shouldn’t scratch his ears or shake his head frequently. Dogs with long ears that hang down may need extra attention to keep the ears dry and clean inside and out.

 

Nose

A dog’s nose is usually cool and moist. It can be black, pink, or self-colored (the same color as the coat), depending on the breed. Nasal discharge should be clear, never yellowish, thick, bubbly, or foul-smelling. A cool, wet nose does not necessarily mean the dog is healthy, and a dry, warm nose doesn’t necessarily mean he’s sick. Taking his temperature is a better indication of illness.

 

Mouth, Teeth, and Gums

Healthy gums are firm and pink, black, or spotted, just like the dog’s skin. Young dogs have smooth white teeth that tend to darken with age. Puppies have 23 baby teeth and adults have around 42 permanent teeth, depending on the breed. As adult teeth come in, they push baby teeth out of the mouth.

 

To check your dog’s mouth, talk to him gently, then put your hand over the muzzle and lift up the sides of his mouth. Check that adult teeth are coming in as they should, and not being crowded by baby teeth. Make sure the gums are healthy and the breath is not foul-smelling. Look for soft white matter or hard white, yellow, or brown matter. This is plaque or tartar and should be brushed away.

 

Mouth infections can lead to serious problems in the gums and other parts of the body, including the heart, so it’s important to give your dog’s teeth and mouth special attention.

Temperature

A dog’s normal temperature is 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.2 degrees Celcius). To take your dog’s temperature, you’ll need a rectal thermometer. Put some petroleum jelly on the bulb of the thermometer. Ask someone to hold your dog’s head while you lift his tail and insert the thermometer about an inch or so into the rectum. Do not let go of the thermometer. Hold it in until the temperature is read (about 3 minutes for a mercury thermometer), and then remove gently.

 

Heartbeat and Pulse

Because dogs come in a wide range of sizes, their heartbeats vary. A normal heart beats from 50 to 130 times a minute in a resting dog. Puppies and small dogs have faster speeds, and large dogs in top condition have slower heartbeats. To check your dog’s heartbeat, place your fingers over the left side of the chest, where you can feel the strongest beat. To check the pulse, which is the same speed as the heartbeat, press gently on the inside of the top of the hind leg. There is an artery there and the skin is thin, so it’s easy to feel the pulse.

 

Elimination

Urine is a good indicator of a dog’s health and should be clear and yellow. Most adult dogs have one or two bowel movements a day. Stools should be brown and firm. Runny, watery, or bloody stools, straining, or too much or too little urination warrant a call to the veterinarian.

 

Weight

A healthy dog’s weight is the result of the balance between diet and exercise. If he is getting enough nutritious food and exercise but still seems over-or underweight, he may have a health problem. Don’t let your dog get fat by giving him too many between-meal snacks; obese dogs often develop serious health problems. The best way to tell if your dog is overweight is to feel his rib-cage area. You should be able to feel the ribs below the surface of the skin without much padding.

 

Vaccinations

Regular vaccinations from your veterinarian can keep your dog from getting serious and sometimes fatal illnesses such as distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, leptospirosis, coronavirus, and rabies. Vaccination is also available for kennel cough, a respiratory problem that affects young dogs or dogs exposed to many other dogs.

 

A puppy’s first vaccines ideally should be given at five or six weeks of age and continue over a period of several weeks, up to sixteen weeks. Afterward, regular booster shots provide the protection your dog will need. Be sure to stick to the schedule your veterinarian gives you to ensure immunity.

 

When to Call the Vet

You should alert your veterinarian if your dog exhibits any unusual behavior, including the following symptoms:

 

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination for more than twelve hours.

  • Fainting.

  • Loss of balance, staggering, falling.

  • Constipation or straining to urinate.

  • Runny eyes or nose.

  • Persistent scratching at eyes or ears.

  • Thick discharge from eyes, ears, nose, or sores.

  • Coughing or sneezing.

  • Difficulty breathing, prolonged panting.

  • Shivering.

  • Whining for no apparent reason.

  • Loss of appetite for 24 hours or more.

  • Weight loss.

  • A dramatic increase in appetite for 24 hours or more.

  • Increased restlessness.

  • Excessive sleeping or unusual lack of activity.

  • Limping, holding, or protecting part of the body.

  • Excessive drinking of water.

  • When the dogs' gums are white.