How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Did you know that most dogs show signs of dental disease by age 3? Brushing your dog’s teeth is important but it’s usually low on our list of things to do.  Here’s a video describing how to brush your dog’s teeth.  It describes dental disease and how to care for dogs as well as cats.  Bad breath is often a sign of dental disease that may need to be treated by your vet.  Teeth brushing is the best way to protect your dog from serious decay or gum (periodontal) disease.  Be sure to make teeth brushing an enjoyable experience by giving treats and lots of praise.  And work them up to a full cleaning slowly.

 

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Natural Immune System Boosters for Dogs

Most Bulldog owners know are familiar with the breed’s immune function problems that include skin disorders, a tendency to infections, and even allergies.  My immune booster of choice for my Bulldog is Omega 3 fish oils.  Even adding a little olive oil (not on this list) to food can help boost immunity and remedy skin problems.  This article explains the immune system in dogs and how to boost it:

The immune system in canines is a complex structure that is made up of several cells and organs and plays the role of defending the dog’s body against various infections, toxins and parasites. If the immune system is weak, the dog is exposed to diseases and the body will not be able to respond to the attack. Consequently, it’s important to keep all components of the immune system healthy and provide boosters when needed.

The immune system is made up of:

  • The skin, which stops many bacteria and toxins from entering the dog’s system, containing also a few immune cells and producing antibacterial matter, which will play an important role in defending the pet
  • Tears, saliva and other secretions that contain enzymes that protect against infectious agents
  • The lining of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and genital tracts will also protect the body
  • The lymphatic system
  • Bone marrow
  • The spleen
  • The antibodies
  • White blood cells

The immune system can weaken due to:

  • Allergies, which will activate certain antibodies
  • Diseases and infections
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Surgeries or trauma
  • The administration of various medications such as corticosteroids or antibiotics

Natural immune system boosters may be administered to dogs that have a medical problem and require a strong immune system or simply to maintain the immune system strong and prevent any infections and diseases.

Herbs can be used to boost the immune system and keep diseases at bay, without having any negative effects as other types of medication. The most commonly herbs used to improve immunity in dogs include:

  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis), which contains various vitamins and minerals such as A, B, C and D, iron, zinc, magnesium, lecithin or potassium
  • Echinacea is a natural antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral solution
  • Ginger root
  • Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha)
  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), which is known to detoxify liver and the entire system, containing powerful antioxidants
  • Burdock root, which has effects similar to steroids, but none of the side effects
  • Green tea, which is an antioxidant

These herbs may be used in the form of tinctures that can be added to the dog’s meals or applied on the dog’s skin, to provide protection. Teas may also be prepared and served cold instead of the dog’s regular water.

Other natural ingredients used in dogs with weak immune system include:

  • Fish oil, which contain numerous fatty acids that have various benefits for the immune system
  • Whale fat, which also strengthens the immune system.
original article here
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Bully Stick Warning!

Study finds bacteria and a hefty calorie count in the popular treat

JoAnna Lou | February 4, 2013

There are a lot of pet treats out on the market and it seems like every week a new brand is getting recalled. I don’t even touch any chicken jerky manufactured in China due to the widespread contamination problems.

More recently I’ve been choosing deer antlers and bully sticks, thinking that they’re safer since they’re all natural. But according to a study published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal, there are two potential problems with bully sticks (also called pizzle sticks).

The first concern is an excessive amount of calories. The scientists calculated nine to 22 calories per inch, meaning that a 6-inch bully stick could represent nine percent of the daily recommended calorie count for a 50-pound dog or a whopping 30 percent of the requirements for a smaller 10-pound dog. This I’m less worried about as I usually adjust my pets’ dinner if they get a large treat during the day.

The second finding is much more serious. In testing 26 bully sticks, the researchers found one contaminated with Clostridium difficile, one with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and seven with E. coli. The scientists admitted that the sample size was small, but recommended that people should at least wash their hands after touching bully sticks.

I hope that they repeat the study on a larger scale, differentiating by finishing process. Some bully stick companies sun-bake their product, while others irradiate or bake the sticks indoors. I’m sure that these differences can affect bacteria levels.

It would also be good if they gave recommendations on how to get rid of the bacteria. I know that some people bake bully sticks in the oven before giving them to their pets, but it’s not a proven method.

I think that this study goes to show how careful we have to be in researching our pets’ food. I already know a lot about picking a good kibble, but this study has inspired me to do a better job at finding out the origin and manufacturing process for the treats I feed my crew. And it underscores the many benefits of making your own treats at home!

via Bully Stick Danger | The Bark.

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Food Allergies in Dogs

this article about food allergies in dogs is from my book “Healing Your Dog With Food” that is one of the bonuses in my Bulldog Health System:

Food allergies are often an area of blame in many dogs showing allergic reactions, but in actuality, only a small percentage of dogs suffering from allergies are actually food reactions.  That said, I know about food allergies first hand because my Bulldog Archie is allergic to chicken which is the primary meat protein in most commercial dog food.

After several visits to my vet dermatologist who put Archie on an expensive “hypoallergenic” soy based diet for food allergies.  Unfortunately the soy diet made his skin really ratty looking and didn’t solve the diarrhea problem.

So I decided to stop the soy experiment and try my own food trials. I noticed that every time I fed Archie a commercial diet with chicken he got diarrhea and itchy ratty looking skin.  I no longer feed him chicken and he’s doing great.

If your vet has performed skin scrapings and ruled out parasites and fungus infections, you can perform simple dietary changes and see if your dog gets better.

Food allergies are difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can vary, including:

  • Diarrhea or soft stools
  • Severe itching
  • Small sores with hair loss (not to be confused with mites)
  • Secondary lesions from the itching
  • Vomiting
  • Colic
  • Seizures, in severe cases

Hypersensitivity reactions tend to occur because the dog is reacting to one or two ingredients in the diet.  These reactions tend to slowly occur over time because the dog is eating the same diet for several months, or even years, at a time.  As the dog eats more of these allergens, they build up in the body until outward reactions begin to occur.  Additionally, those dogs that experience seizures often do so because they are reacting to an allergen in their diet.  Because of this, dogs that eat raw or minimally processed foods tend to not have food allergies and symptoms such as severe itching, skin lesions and seizures.

Although most skin allergies do not appear until the dog is one year old or older, food allergies tend to become apparent much earlier than this.  Many dogs that are 6 months old or younger will begin to shows signs, but the majority of the cases diagnosed are in dogs over two years of age.

One reason that food allergies become apparent in young dogs is because their system is shocked by the dog food they are eating and they tend to have more intestinal parasites and viruses than older dogs.  Parasites cause intestinal damage and this can cause a defective antibody response in the body.  The antibody response allows for the body to allow food allergies to develop.

The only reason that dogs, and people for that matter, don’t develop a host of food allergies is due to something called “oral tolerance.”  This is the body’s ability to ignore the foreign proteins that are found in the body.  Otherwise, anything we ate we would become allergic to.  This oral tolerance is believed to begin in dogs at about 6 weeks, which happens to correspond when most dogs are weaned.  One way to assist puppies and prevent food allergies may be to wait until about 8 to 10 weeks to wean.  This will also prevent other behavioral issues and the dog will be well prepared to begin a new diet at this time as well.

Unfortunately, the most common food items that dogs happen to be allergic to are the most common ingredients in all diets, whether commercially prepared or homemade.  These foods include:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Fish

Many people believe that foods like lamb and venison are hypoallergenic proteins, but this is not the case.  An animal can develop a food allergy to any type of food they are fed over an extended period of time.

Commercial prepared foods are often made with large amounts of grains because it is an inexpensive source of energy.  However, these contain large amounts of carbs and gluten, which are two other ingredients that pets often develop an allergy to.  For young dogs, you can actually improve their oral tolerance by limiting the amount of gluten and carbohydrates they ingest.

In diagnosing food allergies, you will need to feed your dog a Hypoallergenic Diet.  This is the only way that you will be able to tell for sure that the dog has a food allergy.  This diet takes about 3 to 12 weeks to complete.  The purpose of this diet is to isolate the allergen in the food by banning all protein that the dog has eaten in the past.

 

The Hypoallergenic Diet

The use of this diet is designed to ban all protein that the dog has eaten in the past in an effort to determine which protein or other ingredient may be causing the allergic reaction.  The diet will last about 8 to 12 weeks depending on the ingredients that need to be tested.  Dogs that have food allergies will show a decrease in itching, and in some cases, the itching will stop all together.

There are two types of diets you can feed: homemade or commercial brands.

The homemade hypoallergenic diet uses 1 part protein and 4 to 5 parts cooked white rice.  For those dogs that have never had protein such as turkey or lamb before, these are both good options.  If you are not sure which types of protein the dog has had, it is advisable to try rabbit or venison, as very few dogs have eaten these in a normal diet.

Many commercial dog foods are now considered hypoallergenic because they have limited ingredients and few additives.  Go to a specialty dog food store for the best diets made by small manufacturers.  Every dog is an individual and there is no one-size-fits-all diet.  That said, my current preference is for Nature’s Variety diets Prairie or Instinct (avoid chicken).

During the diet, you will feed your dog only the prescribed diet.  This means no treats and no heartworm prevention medication.  While on this diet, you should also avoid any supplements, as these often have agents used in binding the vitamins and minerals together, which the dog may be allergic to.  You do not have to worry about any deficiencies developing in the short amount of time the dog will be on the diet.

You should see results in as little as a few weeks.  Stools become normal, itching and scratching stop, small sores go away.  However, if the severe scratching returns when the dog goes back on his regular diet, then you most likely have a food allergy occurring.

As the itching decreases over the 8 to 12 weeks, you can slowly begin adding back ingredients into the diet and watch to see if the itchiness associated with the food allergy reoccurs.  You will add each ingredient until you have developed a well-balanced diet plan and the dog does not have an itching reaction.  This diet can be fed long-term, as long as it is balanced.

Once on a homemade diet, many dogs may develop problems after being switched back to a commercial diet.  These may include symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and itchiness.  In some cases this is due to the same carbohydrate or protein being used in the homemade diet is the same in the commercial diet.  However, artificial flavorings, chemicals and preservatives are usually to blame in this situation.

 

Tips to Remember Regarding Food Allergies

  • Occur non-seasonally
  • Each dog is different
  • Occur at any age, but most common in dogs 2 years or older
  • Often allergic to beef, chicken, soy, wheat, fish, eggs, corn, and milk.
  • Neither skin testing nor will blood testing accurately diagnose the allergen.
  • Food allergies are less common than dermatitis

from English Bulldog Health

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Veterinarian speaks out concerning Bulldog health problems

Many new Bulldog owners who love the unusual look of the English Bulldog often don’t know what they’re getting in for.

Now several vets have gotten into the argument that a dog that is so inbred that it cannot breed on it’s own (Bulldogs are artificially inseminated and give birth by c-section) and has become so popular that many back yard breeders are hoping to make a quick buck at the expense of the welfare of the breed, not to mention the heartbreak that newbie owners often feel when their beloved Bulldog has severe health problems.

That’s why I wrote my book on Bulldog Health – to educate owners and prospective owners on the many common health issues of bulldogs.

Here’s some more from the article:

It’s not that no one should own the breed, she says. It’s just that those thinking of acquiring a purebred Bulldog should know that a dog with such a flat, wrinkled face might have trouble breathing, particularly if it becomes overweight. Also, joint problems like arthritis are common as well as reproductive issues. It seems that English Bulldogs often cannot be bred without artificial assistance and surgical delivery of the puppies.

“Bulldog owners are sometimes shocked and dismayed at how high-maintenance these dogs are, and they are not prepared for the high cost of corrective surgeries and ongoing medication and health care,” Kennedy says.

The Bulldog, renowned for its quiet, affectionate disposition, has become hugely popular in recent years. In 1973, the Bulldog was the 41st most popular registered breed in the country, according to the American Kennel Club. But in 2007, it cracked the top 10 most popular breeds and last year, ranked No. 8.

In Los Angeles, the Bulldog is the second most popular breed, after the Labrador Retriever. In Boston, the Bulldog comes in third and No. 5 in Chicago. 

Kennedy says she thinks the breed has been debilitated by show standards that reward exaggerated features like the flat face and large head. She notes that Bulldogs can have such trouble breathing that many cannot exercise normally or even ride in a car that might get warm.

A Bulldog puppy can cost as much as $4,000, although general prices hover around $2,000, he says. 

Unfortunately, the people who buy these trendy puppies often do not know what a healthy Bulldog is, and they get taken in by disreputable breeders who mate dogs that never should have offspring.

Van Der Marliere says he attends the Bulldog Beauty Contest, which has been held in Long Beach for the past five years. The contest, which has no conformation standards, draws more than 300 competitors. He runs into many dogs that rasp and huff when they breathe and estimates that a quarter of those dog owners are unaware that the sound is abnormal and unhealthy. He sees a lot of uncorrected cherry eye as well.

He has to tell the owners these are problems and can be surgically corrected.

The surge in popularity and the prices the dogs sell for is drawing in many disreputable breeders, says Elizabeth Hugo-Milam, chair of the Bulldog Club of America’s health committee. Bulldogs are even being imported from breeders oversea.

“You have ridiculous people breeding dogs who shouldn’t even own one,” she says. “You have buyers who are not being careful and so the breeders are not careful. It’s just a mess.

“I am just heartbroken about the way things are going,” she adds.

Hugo-Milam says public education is critical. She believes that if the public can identify healthy Bulldogs, they will not buy unhealthy dogs and help drive the irresponsible breeders out of the market.

“It is a terrible cycle of a lot of ignorance,” she says.

Objective evidence of breed health generally is not extensive and the frequency of health problems in the breed is not known exactly. The Bulldog community gives different impressions concerning the prevalence of adverse health conditions.

According to the report from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), a survey by the United Kingdom Kennel Club found that the median life expectancy of a Bulldog is less than seven years, compared to 13 years for a Labrador Retriever. K9 Magazine reported in 2007, that annual veterinary costs for a Bulldog were twice that of a Labrador Retriever.

The report also says, “There is little doubt that the anatomy of the English Bulldog has considerable capacity to cause suffering.” 

original article here

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