Dogs are beggars. Their big, wet, innocent eyes and supernaturally sweet demeanors make them pretty much impossible to deny. They want to hop up in bed with us? Fine, come on up. They don’t want us to leave the house? Okay, okay we won’t go out. We don’t need friends anyway. We have you, doggo! Honestly if they wanted money we’d give them cash. Mostly though, our dogs want food. All the time. And if it weren’t for the budgetary constraints we’d probably be serving up a bowl of medium-rare filet mignon every night to an animal that would just as happily eat an old hot dog out of the trash. Because love. But we have to show self-control for the sake of the pups we love so irrationally, yet justifiably. Because no matter how much you and I want to treat them, it’s more important to keep your dog healthy. There are foods that, no matter how sadly your good boy is looking up at you, you shouldn’t reach under the table and feed him. These are some of those foods dogs can’t eat.
At this point, who doesn’t love avocados? There’s a decent chance that even people who don’t love them lie and say they do just to fit in. Your dog loves them too. Because dogs love anything even remotely edible. Unfortunately, when you bring the pup to brunch they can’t be as cool as you are and have a piece of your avocado toast. For dogs, avocados can cause upset stomach, breathing trouble, and fluid buildup in the chest. They’re also a choking hazard. So can a dog eat avocados? No.
Almonds are a heart healthy snack and a great source of protein — for you. For your dog, though, they’re hard to digest and thus a source of stomach pain. Almonds can also cause pancreatitis and, like avocados, can be a choking hazard. Keep the decorative bowl of nuts above the table. Can a dog eat almonds? No.
It probably seems like a funny party trick to give your dog a beer (or stronger) but DO NOT DO THAT. Alcohol has the same effect on a dog’s brain and liver that it does on a human’s. Except a dog’s brain is roughly equivalent to that of a two year old child’s, and chances are your dog weighs less than 100 pounds, which means it’s like you’re giving alcohol to a very large toddler. That’s super not okay. Can a dog drink alcohol? NO.
“Fruit is healthy, so this is probably cool,” you think to yourself as you toss your dog a grape, somehow forgetting that you are a different species than your dog-shaped dog. While some fruits are fine for dogs to eat, grapes (and raisins) can lead to kidney failure, and cause vomiting and sluggishness. Can you feed your dog grapes? No.
Yes, we know, this sounds like fake news. Bacon is meat. Dogs love meat. There’s even an extremely popular brand of dog snack whose premise and advertising is predicated around a canine’s inherent love of bacon. We must be liars. But yeah, crazy story, bacon isn’t good for a dog to eat. Bacon is a fatty cut of meat, and eating it can lead to pancreatitis, digestion problems, and trouble absorbing nutrients. If the pup wants some meat, go with something leaner. Can a dog eat bacon? No more than a teeny, tiny piece every now and then. (Even we can’t fully advocate against spoiling your pup a little — BUT ONLY A LITTLE!)
Summer may be over on the calendar, but we’ve got plenty of high mercury days remaining in Austin. As Austin temperatures remain high until well into the school year, remember to keep your dog safe from common seasonal issues. Here are four to watch out for.
Just like humans, dogs can suffer heat stroke with exposure to high temperatures – something we’re familiar with in Austin. Dogs with a dark or dense hair coat and those with with flat faces (or short muzzles) cannot pant as effectively. Other risk factors include age, obesity and heart and/or lung disease. Remember that your dog has very few sweat glands and can’t naturally cool itself down as easily as you can.
When a dog has a spike in body temperature the extreme heat stress can both impair breathing and injure organs. The condition can be fatal if left untreated.
There are many signs that can point to heat exhaustion or heat stroke in dogs, including excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit, along with an elevated body temperature of over 104°F. If you see these more severe symptoms, especially the high temperature, see your veterinarian right away. If signs of heatstroke are present, your dog should be immediately cooled to a rectal temperature of 103.5°F.
Like many other dangerous pet parasites, heartworm is carried by mosquitos. A single mosquito bite can infect your dog, which makes Austin’s hot, wet climate particularly dangerous for dogs. When a mosquito carrying heartworm bites a pet, miniscule larvae can be deposited into the bloodstream. After six months, these larvae mature into adult heartworms. Adult heartworms can grow up to 12 inches long and usually lodge themselves into your pet’s heart, lungs and blood vessels.
Early heartworm can have no symptoms but as the disease progresses, mild symptoms such as a persistent cough, lethargy, decreased appetite, weight loss and a swollen belly from excess fluid can occur. Because the symptoms can be difficult to detect it is important that you take your dog into your vet for heartworm detection regularly and take the preventative treatment that they recommend.
Fleas and Ticks
Austin’s warm and humid climate also makes it the perfect breeding ground for fleas and ticks, outdoor parasites which can cause a host of problems for our pets, and for us. Ticks can transmit a host of diseases to your dog, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Bartonella, and Lyme Disease. Likewise, fleas can cause painful itching and flea-allergy dermatitis. Fleas have also been known to carry tapeworm.
As with most pet health issues, prevention as a part of overall wellness care is far easier and more cost effective than treatment. The best proactive measure you can take to protect your dog from these parasites is keeping them on a year-round parasite preventative that your vet recommends.
Dog Park Hazards
Lawn sprinklers and periods of heavy rain like we had in Austin this past spring can leave lots of puddles and standing water which can be dangerous for thirsty dogs. Street water can mix with dog feces, so when your dog bends down to get a big gulp of water, they may be unknowingly ingesting pathogens like Giardia. If your dog suddenly has a bad case of diarrhea after a rainy day out at the park, they may have contracted Giardia, an intestinal parasite caused by a common protozoan parasite. Dogs become infected with Giardia when they come in contact with infected feces, directly or indirectly. The most common symptoms of Giardia are diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. While Giardia can be temporary, if the symptoms are ongoing, call your veterinarian since they can cause dehydration, deteriorating health and potentially death.
Another disease that they should be protected from when they play with other dogs is Canine Distemper, which is caused by a very contagious virus. Puppies and dogs usually become infected through virus particles in the air or in the respiratory secretions of infected dogs. Infected dogs typically develop runny eyes, fever, snotty nose, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and paralysis. It is often fatal. See your veterinarian if symptoms persist and get your dog the canine distemper vaccine. It is considered a core vaccine that is recommended for every puppy and as a booster for adult dogs.
Unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old are the most at risk for Canine Parvovirus-2 or parvo. Parvo is typically spread directly from dog to dog, but contact with contaminated stool, environments, or people can also spread the disease. The virus most often affects the lymph nodes, blood stream and small intestines of dogs. Some also see an affected heart. It can be fatal if not noticed or treated quickly. Once a dog or puppy is infected, there is an incubation period of three to seven days before the onset of first symptoms. Fortunately, there is a vaccine for parvo and it is administered to puppies and adult dogs as as a booster.
No matter the weather, the staff at ZippiVet can keep your dog happy, healthy and ready to play. Book an appointment today at either our north or new south location.
We love our dogs, from whether they are roly-poly puppies or distinguished seniors with gray coats. As your dog gets older, they need special care and it’s extra important that you make regular veterinary visits. Here’s what you need to know to care for your senior dog.
What risks do senior dogs face?
As your dog ages, health issues may arise, including the deterioration of their skin and coat, loss of muscle mass, more frequent intestinal problems, arthritis, limited mobility, obesity, dental problems and/or a decreased ability to fight off infection. As your dog heads into their senior years, they may not be able to run as fast, jump as high or have the stamina they once had.
Stressful situations and abrupt changes in daily routines should be avoided. If a drastic change must be made to an older pet’s routine, try to minimize the stress by introducing the change in a gradual manner.
What qualifies as a senior dog?
Dogs may begin to experience physical changes between seven and 12 years of age. Like people, each dog ages at different rates, so yours may stay spry well into double digits. Mixed breeds and many smaller dogs tend to live longer. A small dog of less than 20 pounds might not show any signs of aging until they are age 12 or so. A 50-pound dog won’t “seem” old until approximately 10. Larger dogs begin to show their age at age eight or nine.
How do you exercise senior dogs?
Older dogs tend to be less active than they were in their younger days. Degeneration of joints due to long-term wear and tear happens naturally, but can be exacerbated by obesity. Certain breeds are more prone to congenital issues like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and rheumatoid arthritis as they age. When your dog is experiencing limited mobility as a result of age or obesity, you may need to adapt your playtime routine.
While indoors, provide your senior dog with an environment full of both physical and mental stimulation to help them feel more youthful and active. Provide their treat toys (like a Kong) to dispense meals in smaller doses to improve both physical and mental function (by making them work for their snack) and to promote weight loss in heavier dogs. If you have stairs, ramps can help an older dog keep moving around the house without causing them too much pain.
Keep your dog healthy with regular outdoor walks throughout the week. Several shorter walks might be a better fit for a senior dog. Find a comfortable distance for them to walk each day.
Swimming is another option to help exercise older dogs without hurting their joints as they age.
Though dogs with physical limitations may want to keep playing, chasing balls and jumping like they did in their youth, senior dogs may not have the stamina anymore and they may also be more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Limit exercise and keep older dogs well hydrated and in the shade on our 90°F days. Avoiding heat stroke in the Austin climate is important.
Before starting your senior dog on any exercise routine, check in with your veterinarian on how to safely be physically active and discuss how to work with any health issues they may have.
What do you feed senior dogs?
As dogs age there are metabolic, immunologic and body composition changes that follow. Some of these changes may be managed with their diet. Special senior dog foods help them maintain their health and optimum body weight, slow development of chronic disease and minimize current diseases.
- Importantly, studies have shown that the protein requirement for older dogs does not decrease with age. Feed older dogs diets that contain optimum levels of highly digestible protein in order to help maintain a good level of muscle mass.
- Older dogs may be prone to put on body fat, even if they eat less, due to reduced energy expenditure or a change in their metabolic rate. Feed your senior dog a diet with a lower calories to avoid weight gain.
- We may recommend increasing a senior Dog’s Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) intake through food or supplements. GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid that plays a role in the maintenance their healthy skin and coat.
- Aging can affect a dog’s intestinal bacteria, which can result in symptoms of gastrointestinal disease. Senior dog diets should contain fructooligosaccharides (FOS) to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.
- Antioxidants, including vitamin E and beta-carotene may help eliminate free radicals, the particles that may damage body tissues and cause signs of aging. A senior dog’s diet should contain higher levels of these antioxidants.
- A dog’s breed, size and health help your vet determine when it’s time to start buying senior dog food.
Keep your dog healthy with routine care and veterinary exams to assess the presence or progress of any chronic disease. If you’re unsure about what to food or supplements to feed your senior dog or how to give them exercise and care at home, ZippiVet is ready to help you seven days a week. Schedule an appointment online and keep your old dog happy and healthy!
In Austin, we love our pets. Really, truly, maybe even a little too much love our pets. Most of the people who visit our Austin animal hospital see their dogs as extended furry family members. (Don’t worry, that’s normal, so do our veterinarians, vet techs and staff.)
If you’re looking to add to your family, it’s important to know that some breeds are more family-friendly than others. Here are a few breeds that make for great family pets!
(photo via: Flickr)
First, and most loved in the Austin area, we have the mutt. Rescue a mixed-breed dog and it will be devoted to you for life. Visit a local shelter and find a mid to large size dog that will be perfect for your family; smaller dogs like Chihuahuas and Yorkies can be difficult for families with children as they can be overlooked during roughhousing and stepped on. Find the perfect dog for your family by choosing one that matches the energy level in your house – nothing that needs more exercise than you have time to give, or it will end up back in the shelter.
(photo via: Flickr)
Next we have the Beagle. The regal Beagle is friendly, sturdy, and makes a great nanny for kids (Snoopy wasn’t Charlie Brown’s companion for nothing). They can be a little high maintenance in terms of grooming but well worth it when you see the bond between the dog and your children. The downside? Some can be pretty pleased with their own howling skills. Beagles can be prone to skin problems, so be sure to come see ZippiVet for regular checkups.
(photo via: Flickr)
Another great family dog is the English Bulldog. Nothing can take down the strong and steady bulldog, even a rough and tumble play time. If space is an issue, the bulldog is just as happy in a small apartment as in a sprawling mansion.
(photo via: Flickr)
If your kids need an active play pal, consider a Bull Terrier. Bull Terriers are smart, friendly and energetic, but also have an overall calm nature and don’t stress or spook easily. They are also incredibly sweet and protective of children and do well in large, busy households.
(photo via: Flickr)
Less well-known is the Vizsla, who is loyal, quiet and affectionate. However, the Vizsla is very energetic and needs a lot of exercise. This breed is very intelligent and loves to learn tricks, so you and your kids can bond by training the dog together.
(photo via: Flickr)
Collies love nothing more than to make their families happy. They are extremely intelligent and easily trainable (think Lassie), but do have a high maintenance long-haired coat. This beautiful breed makes a wonderful family dog.
(photo via: Flickr)
Known for their size, the Newfoundland is the unexpected ultimate family dog. This breed loves people and loves to keep an eye on its pack members, especially the children. The Newfoundland’s nickname is actually “Nature’s Nanny,” as they seem to have a maternal instinct that makes them natural baby sitters. They are large dogs so they aren’t made for apartments, but they will love you and your family with a fierce loyalty.
(photo via: Flickr)
The Standard Poodle is very smart, gentle, and good-natured, making it an excellent family dog. They do not shed a lot, which helps anyone with allergies, and they are of a solid stature for children who like to play around. Don’t be mistaken, though. Miniature poodles are not good with children. They are very hyperactive, high strung, and need to be coddled.
(photo via: Flickr)
One of America’s sweethearts, the Labrador Retriever; there’s almost no way you could go wrong. Labs are protective, loyal, reliable, sweet, and playful. They love to learn tricks, play with children, and lie at your feet at night.
(photo via: Flickr)
The lovely Golden Retriever is brother to the Labrador but with a few noted differences. They have a shorter life span, around twelve years at the most. They are famed for their extreme patience, despite being highly energetic, and are known to be useful with children.
Once you find the perfect pup for your family, ZippiVet can help you create an ideal health and wellness plan for a lifetime of happiness!