Friday, October 24, 2014

Veterinary Highlights: Susceptibility To Sunburn

We are all aware about the dangers of excessive UV rays. While we know to protect ourselves, do we need to worry about our dogs too?

Dogs with little or no pigmentation, dogs with thin coats, and dogs with certain pre-existing conditions are at particular risk.

The most vulnerable parts are the ears, nose, skin around the eyes, the back and bellies for those who enjoy basking in the sun on their backs.

Breeds particularly susceptible are The Dogo Argentino breed, White Bulldogs, Dalmatians, Boxers, Whippets and Beagles and, of course, hairless breeds, depending on their skin pigmentation.

Any illnesses or genetic defects resulting in a thin coat also make skin more sensitive to sunburn.

These can include parasitic infections, chronic skin conditions or congenital hairlessness.

Particular caution needs to be taken with dogs suffering from autoimmune skin diseases, where exposure to sunlight can worsen the condition (such as Discoid Lupus Erythematosus).

Source article:
Some dogs and cats prone to sunburn: How to protect your animal from skin damage

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Lethargy

lethargy [ˈleTHərjē] – lack of energy and enthusiasm; state of sleepiness or deep unresponsiveness and inactivity

One of the most ambiguous and yet extremely important symptoms to watch for in dogs is lethargy.

The quieter your dog gets, the more serious the situation is. 

But lethargy doesn’t tell you anything about the reason behind it. 

Anything that will cause your dog feel unwell can result in lethargy.

While other symptoms might give you SOME indication as to what could be going on, lethargy will tell you NOTHING about the cause at all.

That’s why when your dog becomes severely lethargic or the lethargy persists for more than a day or two, you do need to see a veterinarian.

You may notice other symptoms to go with the lethargy or you may not.

The other day Cookie woke up in the morning quite lethargic. With her, in particular, the change was alarming.

First thing I did was to check her vitals, her gums and look for the presence of other signs. 

Other than the lethargy and disinterest in food, there were none. Everything looked normal. If I had found one more worrisome sign, we’d have been on our way to the emergency clinic. Because Cookie otherwise looked good, we gave her a bit of time to get over whatever was wrong. Fortunately, she improved by the end of the day. If she didn’t, we’d have been on our way to the vet the next morning.

Conditions that can cause lethargy in dogs include the following:
  • Trauma
  • Poisoning
  • Pain
  • Infections
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Anemia or other blood disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Addison’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Certain medications
  • Snake bites
  • Parasites
  • Dehydration
  • Hypothermia
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Urinary tract problems
  • Electrolyte abnormalities
  • Immune diseases
  • Neurologic and neuromuscular disorders
  • Certain eye diseases
  • Musculoskeletal diseases
I wasn't kidding when I said that virtually any problem at all can cause your dog to become lethargic, was I?

Another trap that’s easy to fall into is when changes happen gradually over time.

When your normally active and playful dog suddenly becomes lethargic, you KNOW something is wrong.

But what if your dog slowly becomes quieter and quieter, over time? 

Such gradual changes are easy to miss.

You might think your dog is just slowing down with age. But I have seen senior dogs who could outplay the youngest of them. It is not age that will slow your dog down, it is most likely pain or another medical problem. Please, do always keep that in mind.

When your dog becomes lethargic, he is talking to you.

He is saying, "I really feel like crap, please, do something." It's kind of the equivalent of a person saying, "I think I should see a doctor."

Related articles:
Veterinarians Answer: 10 Main Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog 
Symptoms: Recognition, Acknowledgement And Denial
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Panting
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Drinking
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Bad Odor 
Symptoms to Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Drooling  
What Can Your Dog's Gums And Tongue Tell You? 
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Coughing 
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Head Shaking  
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: What Is That Limp? 
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Nose Bleeds (Epistaxis)
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Unexplained Weight Loss
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Loss Of Appetite 
Whats In The Urine? (Part I: What You Can Notice On Your Own)
What's In The Urine? (Part II: Urinalysis)
A Tale of Many Tails—and What Came Out From Underneath Stories from My Diary-rrhea (part I)
Acute Small Intestinal Diarrhea
Acute Large Intestinal Diarrhea (Acute Colitis)
Chronic Large Intestinal Diarrhea
Chronic Small Intestinal Diarrhea
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is

Further reading:
My Pet Is Suddenly Tired and Weak. What Is Causing This?
Dog Weakness and Lethargy: Causes and Treatments
Lethargy in Dogs

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Angus' Dog Fight And The Consequences

by  Krista Magnifico, DVM

Angus is an older Jack Russell Terrier who came to see me one Sunday. He was a quiet, timid, handheld package.

Angus had been in a dog fight and was the apparent loser. 

I will admit that most of the dog fights I see are JRT's, and in almost all of the cases it is an older Jack who lives with other Jack's. Almost invariably the victim is the source of the instigation and the subsequent fight. The older dog challenging the younger kid but miscalculating their size, skill, agility, strength, and swiftness.

Jack's are highly energetic, possessive, fierce little dogs. 

They love their parents, bond very closely with them, but have a low threshold for other dogs. And, in most of the cases I see the bruised battered Jack lives with other Jacks whom they squabble with every so often over some possession. And every so often that squabble erupts into a battle of bites. They fight quick  and dirty. A grumble turns into a snap and two seconds later someone is bleeding and limping. I have sewn up more Jacks than any other breed combined.

Such was the case with Angus.

Like a true lifelong fighter, Angus has a graying muzzle, a few scars, scratches, and a look of pain and humility in his eyes. Clearly this isn't his first encounter with a disgruntled roommate, and clearly he needs to rethink his self entitled crown.

When I first assessed Angus my first impression was he was incredibly painful. 

He also refused to use his back right leg. These are signs of an injury that should be seen immediately.

Angus also had a large swelling to the abdomen at the top of his right leg.

Of all of his puncture wounds, lacerations, and battle wounds this was the one I was most concerned about.

Here are some of the things that you should seek immediate attention for if your dog has been in a dog fight:
  •     Trouble breathing. Always an emergency.
  •     Trouble standing, or walking.
  •     Cries or snaps when touched.
  •     Blue tint to tongue or gums.
  •     Reluctant to lay down, sit down, or move.
  •     Limping.
  •     Seizure. Always an emergency.
  •     Bleeding that will not stop with gentle pressure for 5 minutes.
  •     Large and/or deep wounds.
  •     Injuries to the eye, mouth, throat, chest, or abdomen.
That wound on his right side looked like this on the x-ray. 

The right side of the film is normal. The ribs run down the right side to the body wall and then to the pelvis. The left side however has a bulge of soft tissue to the left of the side of the pelvis.

That bulge the to left of the pelvis is Angus's intestines. 

They  have escaped the confines of his abdomen from a rent (tear) in the abdominal wall.

If left untreated the intestines can strangulate and this will lead to death of the intestines and death of the rest of the dog.

Hernias can occur anytime there is a whole in the abdominal wall. 

We see them most commonly in the area of the belly button, inguinal hernia, or associated with a congenital abnormality. They should always be corrected surgically if any abdominal contents can slip out of the abdomen.

Angus had his abdominal hernia closed the next day. He was kept on pain medications and antibiotics from the time I saw him through the first two weeks post-op.

He made a full recovery and will live to see another kerfuffle. 

This time hopefully only a verbal match.

If you have a question, concerns, or just want to share your pet knowledge with our pet enthusiasts please visit We are a free pet community with a big heart.


Krista Magnifico, DVM owns a small animal hospital in northern Maryland, where she practices everyday. She wants to make quality veterinary care available to everyone, everywhere at any time; trying to save the world 1 wet nose @ a time.  Her blog is a diary of he day-to-day life & the animals and people she meets. 

Dr. Krista is also the founder of, free pet advice and assistance.

To contact her, you may leave a comment on her blog, email her or catch her on Twitter or Facebook.

Articles by Dr. Magnifico:
Don't Make This Mistake: Ruby's Death To Heat Stroke 
Parvo: Cora's Story 
Jake's Laryngeal Paralysis
The Tip Of The Iceberg: The Unexpected Dental Dilemma
The Ear Ache That Wasn't Going Away: Tottsie's Story
Cody's Eyelid Tumor
Ruger's Mysterious Illness
The Day The Heart Stood Still: Timber's Story 
Different Definition Of Comfort Food: Levi's Story 
Savannah's Pancreatitis  
Histiocytoma: Rio's Mysterious Bump
Von Willebrand's Disease: Greta's Story 
Alice's Heart Murmur  
Jekyll Loses His Tail Mo-Jo 
Pale Gums Are An Emergency: Bailey's Story 
To Amputate Or Not To Amputate: Heidi's Story
Lessons From A Real-Life Veterinarian 
Charlie's Life Saving Lipoma Surgery  
Understanding and Diagnosing The Limping Dog, Why To Probe The Paw

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Adoption Monday: Lady, Shepherd & Labrador Retriever Mix, Deerfield, NH

Check out this lovely girl at Mary's Dogs Rescue and Adoption!

Lady is a 6-8 years young shepherd mix.

Don't let her age fool you: Lady can play like a puppy! 

But because she is a MATURE Lady, she settles down nicely too.

Lady is crate trained, loves people and dogs, and would fit in nicely in any home. 

If you're looking for a new best friend, but don't want to start "from scratch", she's your LADY!

Lady is spayed, house trained and current on routine shots. Want more info on Lady? Call Mary's Dogs: or send along an email:

Ready to bring Lady home? Tell us about yourself and your interest in Lady in the adoption questionnaire. Check out all the wonderful dogs on Mary's Dogs Facebook Fan Page.


Mary’s Dogs rescues and re-homes dogs and puppies from Aiken County Animal Shelter, a high-kill shelter in South Carolina, USA. They also serve as a resource to communities in Southern New Hampshire and pet owners nationwide by providing education and information on responsible pet ownership, including the importance of spay/neuter, positive behavior training, and good nutrition.

Don't forget to check out Mary's Dogs Shop where you can shop dog and support their work!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why Do Dogs Dig?

As I was standing there for about forty minutes, watching Cookie trying to make her way into a mouse hole, it inspired this post.

Why do dogs dig?

Whether we might object to them doing it or not, the reasons are perfectly logical.

I cannot speak on behalf of ALL dogs but I can tell you our dogs' reasons for digging. All legitimate reasons if you ask them.

1. To bury something

Our guys never tried to bury food items outside. In fact, Jasmine was the only one who would bury things.

Frequently, on our walks, she'd find various treasures. Mostly gloves, sometimes other things depending on the place and season. She took it as her duty to take care of these treasures and put them where they belong - underground.

She was very meticulous about it. Not any spot would do. There were times she'd start burying an item and then change her mind and went looking for a new spot. It would take her on average at least half an hour to find just the perfect location.

She also kept a list of all the items and when there was an opportunity she'd check on them to make sure they are still good and safe. When they weren't, she'd dig them out and find a new place.

It was one of her regular activities during our walks and and the friends' farm. There it was a daily job, because they aren't very careful about their gloves and leave them laying around haphazardly. So many gloves to be taken care of, so little time ...

2. To dig something out

Other than Jasmine's maintenance of her treasures, digging something out—namely mice and other little critters, is Cookie's specialty, though JD is taking a lead from her lately.

Cookie typically has little success with this endeavour, but it is not for lack of trying.

She actually does catch mice quite regularly but when they come out, not by digging down to their hiding spot. That doesn't slow Cookie down, though. Just on our last outing of the day, she saw a mouse dash for cover in its hole. She then spent almost an hour trying to dig her way to it.

Cookie is very determined with this too. She'll keep digging until she gets what she's after or has to go home. So far she's always had to go home; poor girl.

3. To make a cool spot to rest

All of our dogs, with exception of Bruin would do this. There is nothing better on a hot day than to find a nice spot in a shade and dig a cool hole to lay in.

If it doesn't make sense to you, try it. I'm telling you, no air-conditioner will do a better job. The ground is always nice and cool, particularly in the shade, and particularly deeper down.

There are certain spots which are particularly favored for this, and each of them features its own custom-made Grand Canyon.

4. Because it's fun

Some sandy or muddy spots seem to be particularly suited for this purpose. Perhaps it's the way it feels to the paws. All of our guys would get all excited and start digging, just before they go nuts playing and chasing each other.

There is clearly no other purpose to this than fun.

How to stop a dog from digging?

I usually don't try. Why spoil the fun? If they make a hole some place where I don't want one I just bury it later.

The only exception is when Cookie starts digging hard at the roots of a tree (trust me, she'd rip out the roots in the process). In those cases, telling her "let's not hurt the tree" actually seems to work. I know, right? But it does.

For those with fancy flower beds, there are a number of great articles on how to make a designated area for dogs to dig in. I think that's a great idea. Make a doggy "sandbox", have your cake and eat it too. Everybody wins.

Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Observation Skills Of Dogs  
If You Want Your Dog To Do Something, Teach It  
Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks 
What Constitutes The Perfect Dog?
Are Dog Training Classes Really For The Dogs?  
Look Where You Want To Go: Finding My Reactive Dog Training Zen Zone? 
Dog Training And Emotions 
Dog Training And Emotions: Postscript
Dogs Love Sentences In Question Form?
Not All Dog Trainers Were Created Equal Either 
A Thought On Separation Anxiety
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
About Freedom, Trust And Responsibility: A "Pilot Study"
So, We Have A Bear 
About Happiness: What Makes Your Dog Happy? 
Our Example Of The Use Of "Look At That" (LAT) 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Post-Surgery Seroma In A Dog



Dr. Greg Martinez, DVM is a proponent of home cooked diets for dogs. He believes that feeding dogs differently  may prevent or help with chronic medical conditions like obesity, skin issue, ear issues, digestive problems, diabetes, mild seizures, and bladder crystals and stones.

He is the author of Dog Dish Diet, Sensible Nutrition for Your Dog's Health.
You can connect with Dr. Greg on Facebook or Twitter.
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