Most people think dogs can eat anything, but that’s just not true. Keep in mind that dogs suffer many of the same health issues linked to dietary habits that humans do, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. You have to be careful about what you feed your canine friends, and that definitely includes avoiding candy. As Urban Dog’s resident vet, Dr. Christina Moore, says: “Candy, by its nature is full of sugar, and can cause severe stomach upset, gas, and diarrhea, if fed to dogs.”
With Valentine’s Day upon us you need to make sure to keep the sweets out of reach from your pooch. Here are some of the things you need to be alert to…
It’s pretty well-known that chocolate can be toxic to dogs. It can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, and even seizures. The Pet Poison Helpline gets more than 1,000 calls a year about exposure to chocolate, and 98% of those cals involve dogs. They write:
Many dogs are inherently attracted to the smell and taste of chocolate, making it a significant threat. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more poisonous it is. The chemicals in chocolate that are dangerous to pets, methylxanthines, are similar to caffeine and more heavily concentrated in the darker varieties. In fact, a 50-pound dog can be sickened by ingesting only one ounce of Baker’s chocolate! On the other hand, it may take up to eight ounces, (half a pound) of milk chocolate to cause poisoning in that same sized dog.
Also make sure your dog doesn’t get into chocolate-covered raisins or coffee beans. Raisins (and grapes) can cause severe kidney failure. Too much caffeine for Fido can result in a whole host of problems including hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, an elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, and seizures.
Take a look at the picture below. I think it’s a huge problem to show puppies on the packaging of Valentine’s Day chocolates! Some shoppers might thing it’s okay to give their dogs chocolate!
You Should NEVER Give Puppies Candy!
Candy with Wrappers
Foil wrappers in particular pose a health risk since they can cause an obstruction in the intestines. They can also irritate the lining of the gastro-intestinal tract.
Small Hard Candies and Nuts
Hard candy and nuts can easily be inhaled into your dog’s wind pipe, and that can cause choking.
Also, Macadamia Nuts, which are common in many candies, chocolates, and cookies can be toxic. Symptoms of exposure to Macadamias include listlessness, weakness, vomiting, tremors, joint pain, and pale gums.
Sugar Free Candy
Sugar free candy with the artificial sweetener Xylitol can be deadly if eaten by a dog. Xylitol causes a very severe drop in blood sugar that will occur almost immediately after ingestion. Dogs will become lethargic, unable to walk, and will have seizures. If they make it past the initial exposure they can suffer from severe liver damage or even fatal liver failure. Anything with Xylitol is the most dangerous type of candy for any pets.
So if you want to give your dog a special something on Valentine’s Day, stick with tried and true dog treats you get from your trusted pet store.
A friend alerted me to this recent Runner’s Worldarticle on physical therapy for dogs and it occurred to me that I should repost my interview with Linda McMahon PT LVT CCRT. Linda was Bodhi’s physical therapist when he was on the mend from his bout with a bone disease called Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD.) We credit her with a lot of the success we saw with him during his recovery.
Bodhi in Water Physical Therapy
Urban Dog: What are the most common types of problems you see?
Linda McMahon: I definitely see ACL tears and herniated discs the most. [The ACL, or CCL, is a ligament that stabilizes the knee.]
The ACL tear is an injury like basketball players and skiers get, it’s an injury that you get when you plant your foot and you twist. And what makes it worse, is when a dog tears one, they have a fifty percent or more chance of tearing the second. This is something that scares all owners. And keep in mind that this is only the back legs of a dog: the front legs are like our arms and their back legs are like our legs. So this is only something that happens in the knees in the back legs.
Bodhi and Linda McMahon
Herniated discs or IVDD, which stands for “Intervertebral Disc Disease,” is the second thing I see the most. There are definitely some breeds that are predisposed to that: the dwarf breeds, Dachshunds, Bassets, and Corgis. The discs in these breeds are “dryer” than in other dogs, so their discs don’t absorb the shock as well.
Dogs suffer the symptoms of herniated discs much more quickly than we do. In humans it usually takes a while to suffer serious problems. We normally have minor pain first, but dogs suffer weakness, lameness, and paralysis much faster than we do.
There are two kinds of herniated disc problems: one happens suddenly and acutely and the other one happens over time, but you still are going to see the symptoms of not being able to get up, incontinence, or “knuckling” [walking with the top of the paw down on the ground.]
Urban Dog: Which types of problems lend themselves BEST for physical therapy?
Linda McMahon: In general the pets that are post-operative are the best candidates for physical therapy. The reason is that we’re addressing problems right after they occur.
Urban Dog: Let’s talk a little about water versus “land-based” therapy. What are the benefits of each?
Linda McMahon: With water, physical therapy has the physical properties of buoyancy and resistance. And the water is kept warm. The buoyancy takes pressure off joints so it’s easier for the dog to move. But the resistance provides more of a challenge because they have to use more muscle strength to get through the water. And the heat, which we keep at about 90 to 94 degrees, can help increase blood flow, which in turn helps with pain relief and helps get muscles to soften and relax and that helps with movement.
With the water treadmill you have the benefits of weight bearing exercise. And with swimming you see cardio vascular and endurance benefits, but you won’t be able to re-train a dog to walk with just swimming. (Below you will see a video of Bodhi in water therapy. You have to watch! It’s very cute!)
The benefits of physical therapy on land come from the fact that the work is “functional.” The dog is going to have to bear all its weight and they are going to have to be able to move on land. You will see better coordination results from having the dog move around obstacles and such. (Below you will see video of Bodhi in manual therapy.)
Urban Dog: How important is it for dog owners to follow up at home?
Linda McMahon: Everybody has to get a home exercise program! It’s essential for the owner to do some exercises, range of motion therapy, hot or docld therapy at home. We need to keep the movement therapy going daily and to keep the swelling under control.
It’s like going to the gym once or twice a week. If you do exercise at home in addition to going to the gym, you’re going to see a better benefit.
And another thing, working with the dog at home strengthens the bond between the owner and the dog. You are spending more time with your dog when it needs you the most!
The Village Voice has published its “Best Of 2016” edition and Urban Dog’s own resident expert on dog health, Dr. Christina Moore, has been named New York City’s “Best Crossfit Coach for You and Your Dog.”
We’re celebrating the Fourth of July here at Urban Dog, so the news is going to be short and sweet this week. It’s time for… Dogs! In the News!
FDA Approves New Medicine for Dogs Who are Scared of Fireworks
We reported on this just last week in our most recent edition of Five Questions for Dr. Moore. The Food and Drug administration has approved a new medicine to help dogs keep calm during fireworks displays.
The New York Times reports:
By some estimates, at least 40 percent of dogs experience noise anxiety, which is most pronounced in the summer. Animal shelters report that their busiest day for taking in runaway dogs is July 5.
Veterinarians tell of dogs who took refuge in hiding places so tight that they got stuck, who gnawed on door handles, who crashed through windows or raced into traffic — all desperate efforts to escape inexplicable collisions of noise and flashing light.
Just this month the FDA approved a drug called Sileo for “canine noise aversion” came on the market. The drug inhibits norepineprhine, a brain chemical associated with anxiety and fear response.
Here’s a chart from the drug’s manufacturer showing the different behaviors of dogs suffering canine noise aversion.
You can read all about it here from the Times and here from Sileo.
NYPD Deploys New Dogs to help Track Down Terrorists
Just in time for Independence Day, the NYC Police Department is deploying its first class of “Vapor Wake Detection Dogs.”
Business Insider reports:
New York City will deploy its first class of police dogs trained to trace vapor trails left behind by would-be bombers as part of stepped-up security measures to protect the country’s largest city during the Fourth of July weekend.
The so-called Vapor Wake Detection Dogs are capable of detecting air-borne scents from explosives even after the carrier has left the area, a skill that sets them apart from other bomb-detection canines.
The new canine patrols will join thousands of police officers, including the city’s new counter-terrorism squad, in patrolling crowds gathered for a massive fireworks display over the East River and other Independence Day events.
Here’s a really interesting eight minute video describing how these amazing dogs do what they do.
A gazillion years ago, I was a News Clerk at the New York Times. I had the pleasure of meeting and working (very briefly) with the amazing photographer and chronicler of New York City fashion, Bill Cunningham. I used to type his copy into the computer (he would slip me a tip!) and once I was assigned to cover a New York City Opera event and he was my photographer! He was very helpful, telling me who among the glitterati was whom. (I still have a photo he took of me in the ill-fitting dinner jacket I wore to the event!)
He died last week at the age of 87.
You can read his obituary here and a great tribute about working with him from his colleagues here. Both articles are from the Times.
I noticed in some of the articles about him that he often caught canine trends in fashion. Take a look at the pics below.
Five Questions for Dr. Moore: Summer Heat and Health
First off, before we talk about summer heat, we need to turn off the whole “Dr. Moore” thing. It’s way too formal for what comes next…
CONGRATULATIONS to Christina and Oliver on their engagement! We couldn’t be happier for you!
Now, on the business at hand.
“Paging Dr. Moore! Paging Dr. Moore! It’s time to chat about dogs’ summer fun health!”
1. Summer Heat
Urban Dog: When we exchanged emails in preparation for this interview, it quickly became apparent to me that summer heat and dehydration are a big problem for dogs. I think most dog owners know, or can at least intuit, that dogs don’t sweat like we do and that they pant to keep cool. What are the things dog owners should be aware of with summer heat?
Dr. Moore: Dogs don’t sweat like we do, their paw pads sweat a little, but panting is the main way dogs expel heat. Bodhi is probably better at cooling himself down than many other breeds. He has that nice long snout and he’s able to pant more effectively than many of the brachiocephalic, or short-nosed, dogs like French Bull Dogs. They’re the number one dogs in New York City for developing heat stroke because they can’t cool themselves and the insides of their mouths and airways tend to swell up, which just makes it harder for them to keep themselves cool.
One of the things you need to be aware of is that dogs don’t really know when to rest, they’ll go and go. In warmer weather you want to take your dog out to play, but you need to watch your dogs and make them take breaks. Pay attention to how much they are panting. If your dog is really panting a lot and can’t get their breath back to normal, it’s important to get them to a shady spot, let them rest, and drink some water. It’s absolutely important you carry water with you at all times.
Bodhi Staying Hydrated
2. Summer Fun
Urban Dog: There are of course other health concerns that summer heat and summer fun bring, we’re going to rapid fire them here. When it’s nice out, we like to take our dogs to the beach, to cookouts, to the pool. What are the concerns there? What about sunburn and burnt paw pads?
Dr. Moore: If you have a white dog or a dog with pink skin, or a pink nose, it may be necessary to use sunscreen for those areas, because they can burn that skin. Usually if the area is covered in fur, that area should be fine, even if it’s white fur. If your dog tends to roll over on to his back and sunbathe with his belly to sky, then of course that could get burned as well.
Regarding the paw pads, they’re definitely something to pay attention to, especially if you’re out at noon with the sun beating straight down on the sidewalk. They can definitely get burned. Paw pads are usually dark and can withstand short walks in the mid-afternoon sun. Just be careful walking on the concrete at the hottest time of day. The paw pads are thicker than our palms and the soles of our feet, but they’re still sensitive!
Bodhi’s Paw Pads Look Tough, but they Can Burn
Urban Dog: Salt water, pool water, sand?
Dr. Moore: My rule of thumb is that if it’s not good for us to eat or drink it, it’s not good for dogs to eat or drink it. If you ingest a little bit of salt water or pool water when you’re swimming that’s okay. But you don’t want your dog lapping up salt water or pool water, which just underscores how important it is to have water with you when you’re outside with your dog during the summer.
Bodhi Likes Playing in the Sand
Regarding sand, I remember that you had some problems with Bodhi after he ingested a lot of sand when you were at the beach one day. You told me he’d been digging lots of holes and had been chasing tennis balls all afternoon. So every time he picked up a ball he got a lot of sand in his mouth. The next day he kept throwing up his food because it wouldn’t pass through his stomach. Eventually he passed a lot of sand in his stool.
Some dogs actually eat sand because it’s salty and it tastes good. We’ve seen where dogs have eaten so much sand that heir intestine get impacted with sand; theress so much sand it just absorbs all the moisture. That means there’s no moisture to lubricate things. At that point we have to resort to surgery. Luckily Bodhi passed the sand on his own. If you think your dog is ingesting too much sand, limit the amount of time he spends at the beach.
Urban Dog: Cookouts and fireworks?
Dr. Moore: Be careful at BBQs. We see so many dogs come in because they’re eaten so much human food that upsets their stomachs. Don’t feed dogs people food at cookouts!
With fireworks, there are new products that actually go in the ear that can help a dog a lot. If your dog reacts really badly to the noise of fireworks you should ask your vet about these new products. One such product is Sileo which you can learn more about here.
Dr. Moore with her Beagle Frankie and Bodhi
Urban Dog: We’ve talked about parasites before. Summer is a time you really need to watch out for vector-borne diseases, no?
Dr. Moore: Mosquitoes are a huge problem this time of year, especially if you live near the water or live in the South. Mosquitos transmit heart worm. It’s absolutely crucial you give your dog heart worm prevention medicine every single month of their whole life. You just have to do it. It’s a preventable disease. It’s a terrible disease to treat if you get to that point. And it’s a disease that can kill your dog.
Make sure you use flea and tick preventatives. We’re seeing a lot of lyme disease in dogs. There are products that will repel ticks and fleas. Vectra 3D repels fleas and ticks, they don’t even latch on to your pet. With some of the other topical products, the fleas and ticks and have to latch on, and then they die. There’s a chance a disease can be transmitted before they die. There are also collars like the Seresto Collar which is supposed to repel fleas and ticks. Other options include oral products. Those work for dogs who have reactions to the topical products.
To read more about vector-borne illnesses, check out our previous interview with Dr. Moore. Click here to read Five Questions for Dr. Moore: Fleas and Ticks.
Note: Bodhi has been wearing a Seresto Collar for months. The day after we conducted this interview, I found two live fleas on him. We are going to switch to Vectra 3D on Dr. Moore’s recommendation.
Urban Dog: Are there any diseases that occur more frequently in the summer? I read somewhere recently that a disease called leptospirosis is more common in warmer weather. Also, during the summer lots of businesses leave water bowls out for dogs, should we be concerned about disease spreading from dog-to-dog via communal water bowls?
Dr. Moore: Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that affects the kidneys. It’s transmitted via the urine of wild animals, so in urban areas that usually mean rats. I am not sure why it might be more common in the summer except to say that maybe these animals come out in the open more, so your dog may be more likely to be exposed. There’s a great vaccine for it and most dogs are vaccinated for it when they are puppies. I highly recommend getting your dog vaccinated against it.
Regarding transmission of disease via water bowls, I wouldn’t be over concerned about that. I don’t prevent my dogs from draining out of those bowls and it’s likely that the establishments in question are changing the water all day long. I don’t think the dogs drinking out of those bowls are any more or less likely to transmit disease than the dogs you’d meet in a dog park. I think it’s more important for your dog to be hydrated, so those bowls are a good source of water.
Urban Dog: Our last summer heat question: are there season allergies for dogs like there are for humans?
Dr. Moore: We don’t really see dogs get seasonal allergies the way we do, it’s more like their existing allergies get worse in the summer heat. Some of that might be that there’s an environmental component to their allergic reactions or it might be that their skin is more sensitive in the summer. Dogs don’t typically sneeze when they are allergic the way we do, they end up being itchy when they’re having an allergic reaction. You usually see the allergic respond on bare skin. So keep your eye out for your dog chewing around their tail, or their feet, or scratching around their neck, first we check for fleas and other parasites, we start looking at allergies. The big problem is that they can get infections. So make sure you see your vet if you think your dog is having an allergic reaction.
One final note, we asked Dr. Moore about summer cuts for dogs. I noticed recently an Eskimo Dog in our building got a haircut to help her deal with the summer heat. Dr. Moore’s advice is to find a good groomer. Not all dogs need summer cuts and not all haircuts are effective as a summer cut. It all depends on the dog or breed and the type of coat they have. A knowledgeable groomer will be able to assess your dog’s needs appropriately.
It’s spring, which means the season for fleas and ticks is getting underway in most parts of the the country:
Both fleas and ticks flourish in warm climates. The ideal temperature for these parasites is within the 70 to 85 degree range, but they can live in cooler and warmer temperatures as well. For many states, the most prevalent seasons for fleas and ticks are the spring and summer, or roughly from May through September. For southern and southwestern states, the flea and tick season typically occurs year round.
Dog owners everywhere should protect their pets against fleas, ticks, and other insect parasites. It’s important to note that even urban dogs are not immune. City dogs are exposed to these bugs and the diseases they bring with them just like out-of-town dogs. (Take a look at this report about getting Lyme Disease in New York City from WNYW. And if that doesn’t spook you, read this report from CBS about a dangerous new tick-borne disease with no treatment.)
In fact, urban dogs, by visiting dog parks, doggie day care, and other places where lots of dogs congregate, are often more at risk than their country counterparts for picking up parasites. And with the continuing trend of bringing southern shelter dogs up north, more and more urban dogs can be exposed to heart worm, which is a disease more common below the Mason Dixon line.
We’re checking in with Dr. Christina Moore to ask her five questions about fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other parasitic bugs.
Urban Dog: What dangers does your dog face from fleas and ticks? What dangers do humans face?
Dr. Moore: Basically most of the diseases that can be transmitted to dogs by parasitic bugs can be transmitted to humans as well. Lyme Disease is number one. It’s really common in the northeast and becoming more so. We want to make sure we’re watching out for it, testing for it, and treating it. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and anaplasmosis are things we see on occasion. There’s a test called AccuPlex that vets can use that tests for lots of different vector borne diseases. I recommend that your dogs be tested with this to find out if they’ve been exposed to any of the diseases in question.
Note from Urban Dog: according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA):
“Vector-borne disease” is the term commonly used to describe an illness caused by an infectious microbe that is transmitted to people by blood-sucking arthropods. The arthropods (insects or arachnids) that most commonly serve as vectors include: 1.) blood sucking insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, lice, biting flies and bugs, and 2.) blood sucking arachnids such as mites and ticks. The term “vector” refers to any arthropod that transmits a disease through feeding activity.
Urban Dog: What is the problem with the “treat it when you see it” approach?
Dr. Moore: With fleas the problem is that they spend up to ninety percent of their lifecycle NOT on your dog. If you are seeing a flea on your dog, that means there are nine more fleas somewhere in your environment, whether it’s your carpet or your couch or your bed… wherever your dog lays. By the time you see fleas on your dog, it’s likely you’ve already got a major infestation in your house, which can be very difficult to deal with. Preventing fleas is a lot easier to deal with than with trying to get rid of them after the fact. With ticks, if you see a tick attached to your dog that means the tick has already had a blood meal and may have already transmitted a disease to your pet.
Urban Dog: What should you consider when choosing flea and preventive products? What in your opinion are the best products out there for fleas and ticks?
Dr. Moore: Choosing a product really depends on the lifestyle of your dog. If you have a dog that’s going out to the Hamptons or upstate all summer long and is running around in lots of tall grass, you want to make sure you are using something that’s repelling those ticks, not something that’s simply killing them. That way you are avoiding the problem we talked about where ticks transmit diseases once they have had a blood meal. I recommend a topical treatment called Vectra 3D. It actually has the ability to repel the ticks, it keeps them from latching on in the first place. My dog Frankie isn’t out in tall grasses at all, I’ve never even seen a tick attached to him, so in his case, I don’t use the topicals, for me it seems to be better to use an oral preventative.
Dr. Christina Moore and Frankie
There are lots of oral preventatives that can counter fleas, ticks, and other parasites, so check with your vet to find out which one they recommend. And now there are excellent collars that fend off fleas an ticks and they don’t use all the awful powders and chemicals the old collars used to use. Again check with your vet to see what they recommend concerning collars. These collars are getting great feedback. A final note is to check with your vet; don’t shop for these treatments online. If you get them from your vet you know what you are getting; if you get them online you run the risk getting the wrong type of medicine or dosage. And I know this is Urban Dog, but all of this applies to your cats as well.
Bodhi has been out in the country and woods in Northern Florida for the last few weeks and we’ve seen no evidence of any fleas on him yet. He did test positive for a tick-borne disease, which he definitely had to have caught in Florida, we do not know if the tick bit him before or after we started using the Seresto collar. (And yes, Mr. B was treated for the disease!)
Bodhi’s Seresto Flea and TIck Collar
Urban Dog: As a kid, I was told you had to be very careful to remove ticks and not leave their heads in the body. Is this true? Is there a “best method” for removing ticks?
Dr. Moore: It is true! You do want to get the head out! I don’t know if there’s a best method other than those tick pullers that we use in the practices. You can get them at pet stores. I think they work better than tweezers, but if you do leave the head in, you can see it and still get it out with tweezers.
Flea and Tick Shampoos
Urban Dog: We’ve been talking about fleas and ticks so far, but aren’t mosquitoes a problem too? Isn’t that how heartworm is transmitted? What about ear mites? Are there other parasites and bug-borne diseases we should be aware of?
Dr. Moore: Mosquitoes are the way heart worm is transmitted, and it’s important to note that mosquitoes can be present year-round. So I recommend that your dog be on heartworm medicine all year. I know that people who live in the city often think it’s cold outside and there are no mosquitoes out there, but that’s not true. They can get into your apartment, especially when it’s cold outside because they are drawn to the warmth of your house. Also there’s a big movement to bring rescue dogs up north from the south and a lot of these dogs are coming up with heart worm, so we’re seeing an uptick in heart worm that way. This is definitely something you want to prevent. Treating heart worm disease is so much worse than preventing it. Ear mites are usually found in cats and dogs who’ve been in places like shelters and kennels. They can be treated with topicals. Also, many types of tapeworm are transmitted by dogs and cats eating fleas, so once again, it is important to prevent fleas from ever getting on your pet.
Click here for more info on vector borne disease from the AVMA.
Different products to protect your dog against fleas, ticks, and other parasites are regulated by various agencies. Check the labels on whatever you buy to see what the relevant agency is. To report problems with EPA-approved pesticides, contact the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 1-800-858-7378. To report problems with FDA-approved drugs go to How to Report An Adverse Drug Experience or call 1-888-FDA-VETS. Additional reporting information is available on the FDA’s Report a Problem page.
On another dog health note, please note that it’s flu season for humans AND dogs. To read what Dr. Moore has to say about the canine flu epidemic in the Midwest last winter, click here. We recently reported in Dogs! In The News! that there’s a new vaccine out there that can combat this strain of canine influenza.
Seems like the answer is “No. Hugs can stress your dog out.”
A recent blog post by by psychology professor Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia has got the internet buzzing about hugging your dog.
According to Dr. Coren, dogs don’t like to be hugged. If Bodhi is any indication, that’s true. He HATES being hugged.
Bodhi HATES Being Hugged
The New York Times reports:
Dr. Coren looked at 250 images on Google and Flickr that show people hugging dogs. About 81 percent of the photos showed dogs giving off at least one sign of discomfort, stress or anxiety, he said. The rest of the photographs showed dogs that appeared comfortable with their hugs or exhibiting neutral or ambiguous responses.
NPR has this insight:
Dogs are technically cursorial animals, which is a term that indicates that they are designed for swift running. That implies that in times of stress or threat the first line of defense that a dog uses is not his teeth, but rather his ability to run away. Behaviorists believe that depriving a dog of that course of action by immobilizing him with a hug can increase his stress level and, if the dog’s anxiety becomes significantly intense, he may bite. For that reason, certain websites, which try to educate children and parents in order to reduce the incidence of dog bites (such as Doggone Safe), make a point about teaching children that they should not hug dogs.
You can read more from the New York Timeshere and more from NPRhere.
You can read in detail about Dr. Coren’s findings by clicking on this link to his recent blog post.
And for a somewhat contrarian view click here for a story from the Boston Globe.
It’s chow time here at Five Questions for Doctor Moore onUrban Dog!
This week we’re going to talk about dog food and feeding your dog.
But first an illustration on why giving your dog the right food is so important.
Over the last year I noticed that the fur on Bodhi’s elbows and knees was starting to change color and become coarser. I didn’t think much of it at first, but then it started to spread. More fur on his legs became rougher and started turning a blonde-ish color. When I noticed the fur on the back of his head and behind his ears starting to change, I decided to consult our resident Weimaraner expert, Dr. Noa Safra at UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine, to see if she knew what was going on.
Blond Fur on Bodhi’s Elbows and the Back of his Head
I sent her a picture via email; her immediate response was to ask if we were feeding Bodhi Eukanuba. It just so happens the Bohdilicious One had been eating Eukanuba dog food since he was a puppy. Dr. Safra said that she knew of some Weims who ate Eukanuba and that it turned their fur “greenish-blond!”
She suggested switching him to Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Formula, which we did. After about a month or so, it appears that blond fur may be starting to fall out. The spread of the color change definitely seems to have stopped.
Before we dive in to our five questions, I want to welcome back our most favorite vet in the whole wide world, Dr. Christina Moore! Between busy schedules and moves, we haven’t had a chance to consult with her in a while. Let’s get started!
Urban Dog: How do you choose dog food? What’s the first step in considering what type of food you should get for you pup?
Dr. Moore: Absolutely talk to your veterinarian about what type of food you should get for your dog, not the guy on the food aisle at your local pet store like PetSmart or PetCo. The only training they’re going to get is from the pet food companies who have food on their shelves that they want to sell. They don’t really know about the science behind the diet that is best for your pet.
If you have a perfectly healthy pet, then your vet may have you just buy a high quality brand. And that’s fine. In that case you want to consider pet foods that are “highly researched.” Some companies do a ton of research on their food to make sure they do what they say they do and also that they don’t have side effects.
Some of those “highly researched” companies are Royal Canin or Hills. Purina has some brands that are also highly researched. But keep in mind that some brands on the lower end do not. Talking to your vet about food is especially important if your pet has any disease process going on. If they have kidney disease or heart disease, there are things in a diet that might need to be avoided. Or things that your pet might have a special need for in their diet.
Urban Dog: How do you read dog food labels?
Dr. Moore: You have to keep in mind two things: the difference between ingredients and nutrients. Ingredients are the things in the food that provide nutrients to your pet. For example, lamb is the ingredient providing nutrients like protein and fat and vitamins. Understanding the difference is important because both are listed on the label. There are also maximum and minimum levels of nutrients that are required and the label will tell you how well the food meets those levels.
There is an AAFCO statement you should look for. AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials, which is a group that sets the nutritional standards for pet food. It is not quite the same as the FDA for food for humans; the FDA doesn’t regulate pet food the way it does human food. But at the bare minimum you should look for that AAFCO statement because it verifies that there was a certain testing method used to determine the nutritional adequacy of the pet food in question.
One of the most important things you should look for is whether the food supports “all life stages.” It may sound to you that that’s great! “This food will support my dog throughout its whole life!” But really what that means is that the food is going to have the amount of protein and calcium needed for the growth of a puppy or a kitten, but it’s got too much for an adult or a senior. Dog food that supports all life stages should not be fed to dogs throughout their life!
Urban Dog: What foods are bad for your dog?
Dr. Moore: Things to avoid are things that people eat. Things like avocado, coffee, chocolate, citrus, onions, grapes, chives are not great for dogs. Dairy is a big problem. Lost of people give their dogs cheese as a snack and lots of people think it’s okay to give their cats bowls of milk. Dogs and cats are not meant to drink cows’ milk. It can really mess up their stomachs and give them bad diarrhea.
Xylitol is bad. It’s a sweetener that’s found in lots of food and things like toothpaste. Dogs seems to love it and it’s really bad for them. It can cause liver failure.
Urban Dog: Dry versus wet, does it matter?
Dr. Moore: It does matter, but it is based on your pet. For example, a cat may need hydration, so wet food is better. And then there’s what you pet prefers. Some just won’t eat dry food and vice versa. But it’s not about the nutrients. And we used to say that kibble was good for teeth, but the science these days does not support that unless it’s specifically a dental diet.
Dr. Christina Moore and Frankie
Urban Dog: Human food, yes or no?
Dr. Moore: I would say that unless you are working with a veterinary nutrionist to ensure that the human food you are making is a balanced diet and has all the nutrients that your pet needs, then no, you shouldn’t be preparing human food for your pet.
Little treats here and there are okay if they are vegetables or lean meats, but otherwise no human food for pets.
Here are some links for you to read more about dog food and feeding your dog. This is a good link for reading pet food labels. Click here to read about pet food recalls. And this is a good resource to read about toxins to avoid.
It’s been a week since the Blizzard of ’16 and New York City looks like a scene from Jake Gyllenhaal’s movie, The Day After Tomorrow. Dog owners all over the city are dealing with an annual problem: rock salt and dog’s paws. The New York Times published this story about rock salts on Friday. Below you’ll find a re-post of a story I did last year during the “Snowmageddon of ’15.” At the end of the article you’ll find a list of tips to keep your pooch safe on city sidewalks.
First Published on January 26, 2015: The Snowmageddon is slowly moving up the coast and part of our preparation is getting Bodhi (who happens to love the snow) ready as well. The maintenance staff at the development where we live on the East Side of New York City uses rock salt, or ice melts, heavily.
They salt the sidewalks, the steps, the walkways, (which are different from the sidewalks), and if you stood in one place long enough I am sure they would salt you as well.
Blue Rock Salt
Tips on how to safeguard your dog from rock salt, after the jump
The Blizzard of 2016 is history, but the effects will be felt for days, if not weeks. Since snow and cold weather affect dogs as much as humans, we thought we’d revisit our interview with Doctor Christina Moore about cold weather pet care.
Urban Dog: When we think of cold weather pet care, the first thing we think of is outer wear. Should dogs wear coats in cold weather? They have fur, so aren’t they okay going outside in winter?
Dr. Moore: It’s dependent on the breed. Dogs with thick undercoats like Huskies, Malamutes, or Akitas may not need winter coats, but dogs with thinner, shorter coats do. I like to think about it this way: if I am taking the dog for a ten to fifteen minute walk and I need more than a light jacket, then the dog needs a coat as well. My dog has a short coat. Other dogs with short coats like Frankie, like your Weimaraner, or Jack Russells, Chihuahuas, Pit Bulls, or Bostons are likely to need an extra layer when it’s cold out. And not a layer for fashion, a layer to keep them warm.