Saturday, October 21, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: The Importance of Symmetry, Tree Sap, and More on Lyme Disease

Dog Penis Health Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Dr. Jennifer Coates/petMD


Our boys never had any health issues in the boy parts department. But there are quite a few related questions in my FB group.

In her article, Dr. Coates covers all potential issues you might notice about your dog's penis. Discharges, bleeding, excessive licking, failed retraction, swelling, color changes, rashes and lumps, and growths. This article is a little col's notes encyclopedia of dog penis health. If you do have a boy dog, you want to read and bookmark this article.


Primal Paws

I'm including this one because I believe that symmetry is ever so important both to help identify a problem as well as to help rectify a problem.

Firstly, changes in symmetry and proportions can reveal a problem you'd be otherwise unaware of. If your dog favors a leg, for example, you won't see it at all within of first 25% of not using the limb normally. You will not see any limp. But if it goes on long enough, you will see the difference in symmetry because the favored leg will gradually lose muscle mass compared to the other one. With Cookie's history of problems, as well as dealing with an old injury that never healed properly, looking as symmetry is part of our regular assessments. We measure circumference regularly, both to see whether it is where it should be overall and whether there is even muscle mass on both hind legs.

As well as with long-term issues with the hind end you will start noticing disproportional broadening of the shoulder area because of the front taking on more load to compensate for the sore back legs. All these things can tell you about a problem which is otherwise invisible.

Restoring symmetry as much as possible minimizes compensation which helps the function of the affected legs as well lower or prevents secondary or tertiary pain in parts of the body that are taking on the work.

Paying attention to symmetry is an invaluable source of information as well as relief.

How to Remove Tree Sap from Your Pet’s Fur

Dr. Marty Becker

With an active dog, they might end up with all kinds of stuff all over themselves; some voluntarily (such as horse poop, deer poop, or juice from a carcass they found) or involuntarily, such as tree sap, skunk spray, or even tar. Then the big question looms - how to remove that. For some things, a simple bath does it. But others require special considerations.

You can refresh your knowledge on how to remove skunk spray from your dog here.

When Jasmine managed to get tar in her fur, we managed to take care of it with cooking oil, followed by a regular bath to remove the oil.

But what about tree sap? Oil can work sometimes but not always.

"The peanut butter or oil trick may work, but sometimes tree sap is a job for alcohol — the drinking kind. Vodka, to be exact. The alcohol dissolves the tree sap. While you shouldn’t allow your dog to lick the treated area, the vodka is less risky for him to ingest than isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. If you don’t have vodka on hand, I’ve heard anecdotally that bourbon works equally well." ~Dr. Marty Becker

Lyme Disease in Dogs (Part II)

Dr. Justine Lee

Photo Morguefile

Last time I highlighted the first part where Dr. Lee explains what Lyme disease is and how to prevent it. Part II deals with treatment. She addresses the question whether one should treat lab results or the dog, meaning that a dog can test positive for Lyme antibodies but might not be showing any symptoms. What then? Treat or not to treat?

While the treatment is relatively straightforward, it can also come with side effects and Dr. Lee has listed tips on how to mitigate their potential. She also goes into the subject of diagnostic testing. It is one of the articles you definitely want to read.


  1. One of my dogs tested positive for Lyme disease, but didn't show any symptoms. My vet recommended that we just watch her, it has been a few years and so far she hasn't had any symptoms.

    1. There is a more advanced test now which can differentiate between exposure and infection. Glad your dog isn't having any issues.