Dog Video – How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

February is dog dental awareness month in the United States; a few months ago I explained how to brush your dog’s teeth, and how to select dental products for your dog.

It’s often easier to see how to do things rather than read about them so today I’ve posted a video in which Stanley Coren shows you how to get your dog used to having his teeth brushed – the key is to take it in small steps and have some great tasting toothpaste to hand!

At the end of the video Stanley Coren says you only need to brush your dog’s teeth once or twice a week in order to keep his teeth healthy. Whilst this is better than not brushing at all, ideally you should aim for a daily brushing to remove the plaque and remove the risk of your dog suffering periodontal disease.

Stem Cell Therapy for Dogs

little dog with big stick

A company called Vet-Stem, which is based in San Diego, California, has started offering stem cell therapy treatment for dogs with arthritis or tendon and ligament injuries.

The company claims to have successfully treated 3,000 horses with tendon and ligament injuries since 2004, and is now offering a similar treatment for dogs via veterinary surgeons trained by Vet-Stem.

The stem cell therapy treatment takes place as follows:

  • your dog is anesthetized and two tablespoons of fat are taken, usually from his abdomen or around the shoulder blade;
  • the fat cells are sent to a Vet-Stem laboratory where the stem and regenerative cells are isolated;
  • these isolated cells are returned to your dog’s vet in ready-to-inject syringes; and
  • your dog is treated by a course of injections.

Studies by clinics using this procedure on dogs with osteoarthritis and orthopedic soft tissue injuries show the benefit of each injection to last from several months to over a year.

According to Robert Harman DVM and founder of Vet-Stem, the treatment works because stem cells do more than just morph into the required body tissue – they provide growth factors and chemicals that help the injury heal by, amongst other things, reducing inflammation and preventing scar tissue from forming.

This sounds good, but as with all new therapy treatments the long term effects are as yet unknown.

The treatment is costly – according to a Live Science article it ranges from US$2,000 to $3,000 – but may be worth considering as a treatment option if you have an arthritic dog who’s in severe pain and has difficulty moving around.

The Vet-Stem web site has more information about stem cell therapy for dogs and lists the vet’s it has trained to apply the treatment.

Tips for Buying Prescription Dog Medication Online

dog-at-computer

Discount Pet Drugs – No Prescription Required.

Enticing as this message sounds, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that buying prescription dog medicines from online suppliers who promote this and similar messages could be putting your dog’s health at risk.

Research by the FDA has identified web sites that are selling medicines which are,amongst other things, counterfeit, out of date, or not FDA approved.

Whilst these web sites are in the minority, they do good business by promising prescription medicines at low cost.

Unfortunately I can’t find a list of the web sites identified by the FDA, but if you are looking to buy prescription pet medicines online here are a few tips on how to ensure you are buying quality medicines for your dog:

  • Use a web site that is based in the country you live in;
  • Use a web site that will send you the medication only after you supply with them with a prescription from your vet;
  • Ask your vet for a recommendation. Whilst most vets prefer you to buy your medications through them they should be able to recommend an online supplier; and
  • Avoid web sites that offer to evaluate your dog’s condition with an online/telephone conversation and then prescribe a drug based on the outcome of the discussion. A vet needs to physically examine your dog before any medication is prescribed.

Westies Join Fight Against Fatal Lung Disease

westie

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a disease that kills approximately 40,000 Americans each year – a similar number die annually from breast cancer.

IPF occurs spontaneously and results in normal lung tissue being converted into scar tissue. It’s a progressive disease that gradually robs people of the ability to breathe. There are no known causes or treatments for IPF, and it’s usually fatal within three years of diagnosis.

West Highland White Terriers (Westies) are prone to a disease that is remarkably similar to IPF.

The symptoms in Westie’s are a shortness of breath and excessive panting, and the disease is usually fatal within eighteen months of diagnosis.

Pulmonary fibrosis tends to affects Westie’s when they are 7 to 9 years old; this is equivalent to 40 – 60 human years and is when IPF typically shows itself in humans.

Earlier this year veterinary and human medical researchers met to discuss and share information about IPF, and determine how they could work together to find the cause and a treatment for the disease.

For veterinarians the advantage of any collaboration is that they can learn from human research how to better diagnose and treat dogs that are dying from fibrotic lung disease.

As it’s believed that dogs age at a rate that is approximately seven times the human rate of aging, scientists would have the opportunity of studying the disease in ‘fast forward’, which may mean the cause and treatments can be found more quickly.

Cracking the IPF code is still a long way off, but hopefully it will become that much closer with this collaborative research.

Kudos to the Westie Foundation of America who initiated the conference, and to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation and Morris Animal Foundation who both contributed additional funding.

Dogs Get SAD Too

bassett-hound-1As autumn moves into winter, don’t be surprised if your dog has less energy and generally seems a bit down on life; he could be suffering from Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD).

According to the PDSA, the UK’s leading veterinary charity, 30% of dog owners questioned in a recent survey said that their dogs became less playful and seemed ‘sadder’ during the winter.

[Read more…]

Dog Toys – the Unregulated Market

dog-with-ball-1The latest report by ConsumerAffairs.com has highlighted that there is no regulatory control of dog toys (or any pet products) in the United States – I don’t know what the situation is in other countries.

According to a spokesperson from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the FDA does not regulate dog toys, nor are they aware of any Government agency that has such regulatory powers.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) can only regulate those pet products that are shown to put consumers at risk.

Why is lack of regulation a concern? Currently the acceptable levels of toxins for dog toys appears to be based on human data.

“If you’re dealing with a teacup-size dog you can’t assume that what’s safe for a 20-pound child is safe for a three- to ten-pound dog” said a spokesperson for ExperTox, the laboratory that recently tested Chinese made dog products for ConsumerAffairs.com.

That’s common sense isn’t it? So why aren’t there guidelines on the acceptable level of toxins in pet products? I think the answers are that nobody has given much thought to it before, it’s too expensive to do the research, and who’s going to raise the question anyway?

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Dog Toys from China – Why We Should Be Worried

dog-with-chew-toy
How many of your dog’s toys come from China? A quick count through Zoe and Fritz’s toy box shows more than 10 – a mixture of plush and plastic [tag-tec]dog chew toys[/tag-tec].

Until I read an article at ConsumerAffairs.com, I hadn’t given too much thought as to whether or not these were safe toys for them to play with.

However, given all the recent health scares about products from China – pet food and treats, children’s toys, toothpaste, etc – I should have known that pet toys would be the next item on the item on warning list.

ConsumerAffairs.com randomly chose 4 Chinese-made pet toys from a Wal-Mart store and tested them for the presence of heavy metals and other toxins.

Here is what they found:
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Microchipping Your Dog – What’s the Risk?

Dog getting his immunization shotThis week has seen a number of news articles reporting that your dog has an increased risk of cancer if he is microchipped. According to the articles, sarcomas – malignant tumors – can develop at the site where the chips are implanted.

Some of the articles have been sensational in nature, and there are reports of dog owners taking their dogs to the vet demanding to have microchips removed purely on the basis of what they’ve read in the press.

As responsible dog owners, we need to know all the available information so we can make an informed decision on whether or not to have our dogs microchipped, or if they are already microchipped, to have the chips removed.

Here are the facts as I understand them:

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Does Your Dog Smell – maybe he’s telling you something

wet-dogOne of the good things about owning Schnauzers is that they don’t have that doggy smell that many other breeds, particularly long haired ones, tend to have.

Our first family dog was a Bearded Collie who loved swimming in the sea every day, and she continually smelt like a piece of wet carpet. Though I loved her dearly for it, my Mother wasn’t too happy about the smell and spent a great deal of time squirting air freshener around the house!

We tend to associate a smelly dog with one that has either rolled in something unpleasant or been out in the rain for too long, but it could be a sign that you dog is ill or has a personal hygiene problem that needs attending to.

In his article Why Dogs Stink, small town country veterinarian (his own words) Dr. Everett Mobley covers some of the serious reasons why your dog might smell, and provides a more practical approach to dealing with the problem than just reaching for the air freshener.