DogTime Blogs

Monday, August 31, 2009

Brushing Your Pet's Teeth

When allowed by your pet, brushing your pet’s teeth daily is highly recommended by all veterinarians. It helps reduce the build up of plaque and tartar which contains nasty bacteria. Chronic dental disease can result in kidney failure, heart disease and severe jaw-bone infections.

Here are some tips:

1. Brush daily and make it a happy experience
2. Gently lift the lips and massage the gums and teeth. Praise your pet for allowing this.
3. Choose a suitable soft brush.
5. Use pet approved toothpaste. These are safe and are flavoured for added enjoyment. Never use human toothpaste.
6. Brush in a circular action, emphasizing the brush stroke away from the gums. Brush all four sides of each tooth for 1-2 minutes.

To watch a good video on how to brush, click here:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Skin Problems

There are many causes of skin problems in pets. Skin problems are often diagnosed by clinical signs such as hair loss, redness, scratching, pustules etc.

Here is a list of the 5 most common causes of skin problems:

1. Parasites
• e.g. fleas, mites
• Diagnosis: on history, skin scrapings, treatment trial
• Treatment: effective parasite control, regular treatment, medication

2. Food
• e.g. soy, beef
• Diagnosis: history, 8-week diet trial
• Treatment: hypoallergenic diet, removal of all other food sources, medication

3. Environmental agents
• e.g. wandering dew, pollen
• Diagnosis: history, specific allergen testing
• Treatment: allergen-specific immunotherapy, environmental modification, medication

4. Bacteria
• e.g. staph
• Diagnosis: cytology, culture and sensitivity
• Treatment: antibiotics and topical treatment

5. Yeast
• e.g. malassezia
• Diagnosis: cytology
• Treatment: antifungals, medication

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tips to reduce Pet Hair Everywhere

The following tips are for pets that shed hair regularly and evenly. For those pets that have suddenly had a loss of hair in a particular area or have become thin in the coat all over, seek medical attention.

1. Stop Hair at the Source
Brushing daily means that you will remove most of the hair before it has the chance of falling into the environment or onto you. Natural-bristle brushes are often the most effective. If your pet will allow it, brush in all directions. Regular bathing no more frequent that every two weeks will also help to reduce the shedding.

2. Environmental Cleaning
Vacuuming regularly will also reduce the environmental clumps of hair. Roller brushes will also help to remove hair off clothing and furniture.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dogs and Cancer

The sense of smell is a dog’s primary sense. Sniffing allows dogs to take in air quickly to specifically identify the odor several meters away. Their sense of smell is extremely sensitive with over 220 million smell-sensitive cells within their nose compared to only 5 million in humans.

For this reason, dogs readily assist us in the community to track everything from people to drugs to explosives.

It's no surprise that dogs may have a use in human medicine. It has been fairly well documented that dogs can detect low blood sugar in diabetics. A recent study by the Pine Street Foundation in California has demonstrated a dog’s ability to detect lung and breast cancer in humans based on breath samples.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Choosing Cat Litter

If you have a healthy cat, but they are having toilet accidents, it could be a litter problem. Various studies have been done to look at a cat’s preference for litter.

Here is a summary of some of the findings.
• Number of litter boxes:
- Too few litter boxes for the number of cats can cause problems
• Type of litter box
- Hooded boxes are avoided by some cats
• Size of litter box
- Larger litter boxes are preferable than medium or smaller ones
• Litter Type
- Heavily scented or deodorized litter (e.g. citrus) are often avoided by cats.
- Cedar scents tend to be more tolerated by cats.
• Odor control
- activated carbon can be found in some litter brands to help reduce odor. Studies have shown that cats may prefer litter with activated carbon.
• Recently changed litter brand
- cats hate change
• Is the litter too dusty?
• Clumping or not clumping
- studies suggest cats prefer clumping litter
• Dirty litter box
– is it dirty? Is it cleaned with chemicals that are too strong?
• Poor location
- choose a secluded area
• Litter box liners
• Litter box side height

Generally, all cats have their own preference. If you have a cat that is happy with its litter, don't change it. Cats hate change!

Monday, August 24, 2009

How can we tell if our pet is in pain?

Pets show pain in many different ways. Change in behavior or activity are certainly early signs of a problem and should not be ignored. Here are some signs that may indicate to you that your pet is in pain

Physical Signs:
• Increased heart rate
• Increased respiratory rate
• Enlarged pupils
• Slowed reflexes

Behavioral Signs:
• Reduced appetite
• Difficulty rising or sitting
• Restlessness
• Quiet
• Personality change
• Licking or biting at itself
• Irritability

Friday, August 21, 2009

Causes of Dog Aggression

The conclusions of a recent study at the University of Cordoba suggest the following factors as causes of dog aggression:
• First-time ownership
• Lack of obedience training
• Spoiling the dog
• Receiving the dog as a gift
• Buying a dog on impulse
• Buying a guard dog
• Spaying female dogs
• Leaving constant supply of food
• Spending little time with the dog

Other factors such as breed, male sex, small sized dogs and the ages between 5-7 years have also been associated with a greater risk of aggression. However, this study concluded that breed had less influence.

This study should remind us of the importance of training and dog obedience and that dogs that are trained well are less likely to retain any inherent aggression.

Journal reference: Pérez-Guisado, Joaquín; Muñoz-Serrano, Andrés. Factors Linked to Dominance Aggression in Dogs. Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances, 8(2): 336-342, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pain medication

Pets are often prescribed pain medication (anti-inflammatories or NSAIDs) to help relieve the pain following surgery, dentals or long term for pets with chronic conditions such as arthritis. These products can provide very effective pain relief, but are not advised for pets with kidney, liver, or stomach issues. Your veterinarian can run tests to help choose the right pain medication for your pet.

If your pet has been prescribed anti-inflammatories, it is important to monitor your pet closely for any side effects such as:
- vomiting
- diarrhea (with or without blood)
- inappetence
- tense abdomen
- black stools
- drinking a lot
- urinating a lot
- pale gums

Notify your veterinary hospital immediately if you notice any of these signs.

- use human NSAIDs on your pets
- increase the dose without consultation with your vet – more medication does not necessarily mean more pain relief and can often increase the chance of side effects

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pets and Elderly People

Each year, approximately 8 million people are admitted into the emergency room due to fall-injuries in the US. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) recently undertook a study to determine the relationship between dogs and cats and fall-injuries.

Nearly 90,000 falls were associated with cats or dogs. 88% of injuries were related to dogs. Female owners were 2.1 times more likely to be injured than males.

1. Be aware of your pet and their toys at all times
2. Ensure your dog undergoes obedience training
a. Make sure your pet can walk calmly on a leash
b. Do not jump up on people
c. Teach pets to “sit”, “stay” and “relax”
3. Discourage pets from lying at the foot of the bed or chairs
4. Discourage over-excitement

Check out the full report at CDC

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Barking Dogs

All dogs have vocals whether it is barking, howling or yapping and some breeds vocalize more often than others. It’s important to choose the dog that’s right for your situation. As with any bad behavior, excessive barking can be managed, if controlled early.

Dog Breeds That Bark A Lot
Yorkshire Terrier
Cairn Terrier
West Highland White Terrier

Always reward your pet for quiet behavior.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Treats for Pets

Treats are a great way to help with positive reinforcement for good behavior. So, it is important to choose the right treats and to give them in moderation. Each treat adds to the daily calories for your pet.

Good Treats:
Dried liver treats
Dog-approved biscuits for dogs
Dog dry food for dogs
Cat-approved biscuits for cats
Cat dry food for cats
Natural popped popcorn
Puffed rice

Bad treats:
Fatty foods such as chips or hotdogs

Poisonous treats:

Don’t forget that hugs and pets are just as effective and appreciated as an alternative to food treats.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dogs Most likely to Bite

The Coalition for Living Safely with Dogs and the CVMA recently reviewed a survey of 188 dog bites.

The top 5 breeds were:
1. Pit Bulls
2. Labrador Retrievers
3. German Shepherds
4. Rottweilers
5. Chow-Chows

Situations for when bites occurred included pets protecting the property, play biting, grooming, kenneling, and veterinary visits

The most severe injuries came from the American bulldog, Calmatian, Standard Dachshund, English Bulldog and Lhasa Apsos.

This study highlights the importance of:
• Professional dog training
• Adequate pet exercise
• Supervision of children when playing with pets
• Appropriate education for children on how to play with pets

Further details on the study can be found at

Thursday, August 13, 2009

ASK THE VET: Cat with Bloody Stools

Seeing fresh blood in a pet’s stools means it is coming from the lower intestines (colon or rectum). Fresh blood in a cat’s stool can occur for a number of reasons. The most common cause is due to hard or dry stools. If this is the case, identifying the reasons for the hard stools and fixing this, will often resolve the problem. Feeding diets with higher moisture content such as canned foods rather than all dry food may help. Changing your cat’s diet to a commercial ‘high fiber’ diet may also help. Feeding more fiber such as a tablespoon of bran, with whole grains (barley, oats, or whole wheat) may help. For older cats (10+ years) it is often a good idea to get them checked by a veterinarian 1-2 times a year to make sure there is nothing more serious going on.

Other more serious reasons include:
• Infectious agents, such as bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and intestinal parasites
• Dietary intolerance/allergy/indiscretion
• Cancer (neoplasia) of the lower bowel
• Polyps (benign masses) in the colon or rectum
• Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as colitis
• Trauma to the lower bowel or anal area
• Clotting disorders (coagulopathy)
• Intussusception (the telescoping of one part of the bowel into another)
• Miscellaneous diseases of the anus, rectum and colon

Top Dog-Friendly Beaches

Petside have ranked the top 10 dog-friendly beaches in the US.

Check them out here:


If you have a special dog beach that you would like to share – post it here!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Understanding the Cat Purr

Cats purr for different reasons – when they are content and when they are stressed. It is thought that purring releases endorphins, a natural stress reliever, to reduce pain during a time of healing.

Recent studies have also shown that the purr of a hungry cat is one of a higher-pitched sound – likened to a more urgent baby cry or meow. It is a behavior that some cats have picked up to get the attention of their owners.

What type of purr does your cat have?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dog Friendly Cars

Honda announced its dog friendly Honda element concept car at the New York Auto Show this year. It features:
• Dog restraints
• Hardy fabrics
• Access ramps
• Cushioned bed
• Spill-resistant water bowl
• Doggy cooling system

This is a great reminder for pet safety and pet care when traveling with your furry friends by car.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Top 10 Wildlife Threats to your Pet

Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) recently released the most common wildlife attack claims on pets for 2008.

1. Snakes
2. Coyotes
3. Raccoons
4. Squirrels
5. Scorpions
6. Javelina or Collared Peccary (Pig-like mammal)
7. Porcupine
8. Groundhog
9. Skunk
10. Rat

Wildlife are not only a source of attack on our pets, they can also be a source of disease such as rabies, fleas, ticks, worms. For this reason, it is important that we do as much as we can to prevent wildlife coming onto our property or having access to our pets.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Top 10 Wildlife Threats to your Pet

Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) recently released the most common wildlife attack claims on pets for 2008.

1. Snakes
2. Coyotes
3. Raccoons
4. Squirrels
5. Scorpions
6. Javelina or Collared Peccary (Pig-like mammal)
7. Porcupine
8. Groundhog
9. Skunk
10. Rat

Ask the Vet: Pet Air Travel

Air travel for pets can always be stressful for both pets and people when traveling long distances. The best airlines to travel with as those that have specific policies for pet travel. Small pets can often be taken on board. Large animals are usually restricted to the cargo.

Safe pet travel is unrealistically flawless. Air travel consumer report provides updated information on air travel incidents here . These reports detail animal death, injury or loss per airline every month.

Doing your research on air travel and preparing in advance will help you make sure your travel is as problem-free as possible.

When traveling keep in mind:
• Airlines should be contacted in advance for their pet travel policy
• Examples of Policies: 1, 2
• Pets must be 8 weeks or older
• Pets must be healthy at time of travel
• Carry all pet documentation on board – health certificates, vaccination records
• Pets should NOT be sedated
• Label the crate well – “live animal – this side up” with contact details
• Place an old towel or toy in with the pet
• Do not feed just before a flight
• Bring water for your pet or ice cubes

Pet airways recently launched a pet specific airline. But, currently have limited destinations.

I open it up to the readers to share their specific experiences with air travel.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What is Catnip?

Catnip is a plant from within the mint family. The plant contains a chemical nepetalactone which cats go crazy about—whiskers twitching, head butting, body rolling and generally having fun. But, not all cats are susceptible to the plants charms. Only two thirds of cats have inherited the gene.

Catnip is nontoxic to cats but can have these effects on cats for up to 15 minutes. After this time they often are calm and content.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Chewing can occur for a number of reasons – teething, boredom, or anxiety. Most dogs have all their adult teeth by 2 years of age. Teething should definitely stop by this age. If teething is a problem, give your pet ice cubes to help alleviate any discomfort that they may be experiencing.

Bored dogs need to be exercised more or given chew toys to help entertain them throughout the day. If you work, consider dog day care or a dog walker to help alleviate any boredom your pet may experience during the day.

Anxious dogs can chew everything and anything when left alone. If a pet is to be left for long periods of time it is important that they are left with chew-proof toys. Exercise and training can help reduce anxiety. Making sure that you do not make a big deal about leaving and returning will also help your pet to remain calm.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Male dogs and less commonly female dogs can get into a bad habit of mounting. The two most common reasons for this are dominance and misplaced sexual energy. Mounting can be used by males to demonstrate dominance over another dog. If this is the case then slowly introduce the dog on a leash to other dogs to restrict their ability to mount another dog.

If it is due to misplaced sexual energy, it is important to immediately stop the behavior and put them into a quiet area or on a leash for “time out”. Once your dog is calm and behaving, reward positively with hugs and treats.

Unfortunately, neutering has not been shown to reduce this bad behavior once instilled in the dog. However, early neutering has been shown to prevent this from becoming a bad behavior.

Monday, August 3, 2009

When is my cat a senior?

Like people, cats age at a different rate depending on breed, history and environment. Cats are considered ‘middle-aged’ when they reach 7 years. From 10+ years they are considered ‘senior’.

It’s from the middle-aged years that we should become more vigilant for early changes. Diseases can begin during these years and it often not until their senior years that the disease progresses to a point where the condition can become life threatening. Early detection is important.

Common conditions:

1. Hyperthyroidism

Thyroid gland overworks

Clinical signs include irritability, increased appetite, weight loss, poor coat, drinking more.

2. Chronic Kidney Disease

Kidneys do not function as well

Clinical signs: drinking more, urinating more, sudden weight loss, vomiting, off-food

3. Hypertension

High blood pressure

Can cause seizures, behavioral changes, strokes, blindness

4. Arthritis

Inflammation of the joints

Clinical signs: decreased grooming, less mobility, sleeping more, off-food, lameness

5. Obesity

Can cause other health issues such as diabetes, arthritis, urinary problems, respiratory and heart problems.