9 Health Problems That Affect Senior Pets

Having had dogs my whole life, it seems to me pets go from being babies to being senior citizens almost overnight.

As pet owners, we understand that the quality of our pets’ years is more important than the quantity. So how can we be certain that their senior years are golden and not rusty? Regular veterinary checkups and early detection.

There are some tell tale signs of aging that can help you spot a problem… hopefully early enough to treat it and slow its progression.

Both cats and dogs show similar signs of aging and can suffer from the same health problems when they’re senior citizens.

Old age for cats and small dogs is about 7 years old. Large breed dogs have shorter life expectancies and are seniors when they are 5 or 6.

If your pet is approaching its golden years, here are 9 problems you want to know about because they can impact the quality of your pet’s life in old age.

1) Vision problems – A pet can have vision problems at any age, but just as in humans eyesight can get worse as your pet grows old.

An accident, cancer, or glaucoma can all result in vision loss. But there are other seemingly unrelated health problems that can affect vision too. For instance, elevated blood pressure, hyperthyroidism and kidney disease.

So if you notice a sudden loss of vision, see your vet immediately.

2) Kidney disease – This is one of the leading causes of illness in senior cats but dogs can suffer from it too. You may see an increase in drinking and urination. And it can affect appetite and cause weight loss.

The good news is early detection and treatment can slow the progression.

If you notice a sudden lack of urination, this can mean trouble too—particularly in cats. They are prone to urinary crystal/stones. These stones can cause an obstruction which requires immediate medical attention.

Read my post, Urinary Crystals and Stones… What are They?, to learn more about this dangerous condition.

3) Dental disease – In dogs, bad breath is a sign that something is brewing in your dog’s mouth. Bleeding gums are a sign of dental disease as well.

If you’ve been practicing good oral hygiene throughout your pet’s life, you’ve saved yourself a lot of headaches. But it’s not too late to take care of your pet’s pearly whites if you haven’t already.

As cats age, they can suffer from feline tooth resorption. You’ll remember from my recent post, 10 Signs Your Cat is Suffering From Feline Tooth Resorption, this is a painful problem. So watch out for drooling, difficulty chewing, or reluctance to eat.

If you’re seeing signs of a tooth problem, see the vet.

4) Lumps, bumps and rashes – Cancer is as common in dogs as in humans and it can happen at any age. It’s less common in cats.

But if you feel bumps or lumps on your dog or cat, have them checked out by the vet. They may be nothing more than harmless fatty tumors. All my labs have had those. But they’ve had cancer too.

So be sure the doc biopsies the lump to rule out a malignancy.

Rashes, lesions, hotspots, and hair loss can all crop up in old age but are usually treatable. It’s important to make sure these things aren’t a sign of something more serious. Because early treatment is critical to quality of life.

5) Weight changes – A sudden unexplained drop in weight could mean diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, or hyperthyroidism.

The first inkling I had that my greyhound was sick was weight loss. Only I didn’t know it.  I thought his quick metabolism was to blame for his declining weight. No matter how much we fed him, he kept getting thinner. Sadly, I was wrong, and he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

The flip side can mean trouble too. A pet that is overweight is prone to more problems. Just like in humans, obesity increases the risk of many illnesses including cancer, diabetes, heart problems and joint disease.

Your pet may need a senior diet, like Husse’s Senior for dogs or Exclusive Limited for cats. Or a therapeutic diet prescribed by your vet.

And all pets need exercise to stay healthy.

6) Joint disease – If your pet is overweight, joint disease may become a problem when they’re a senior.

Keep your pet at a healthy weight with proper nutrition and exercise, and you’ll minimize these problems and the pain associated with them.

Arthritis can be a problem for older pets whether they’re overweight or not. Just like for older people. If your pet is reluctant to jump, run or take part in their normal activities, their joints may hurt them.

Some dogs are prone to hip dysplasia, a very painful and debilitating condition you can read about in my post, 9 Signs Your Dog May Suffer From This Debilitating Condition.

Although hip dysplasia isn’t a problem for cats, arthritis is. If your cat isn’t using the litter box, they’re not grooming themselves, they’re not eating… these can be signs they’re in pain.

Your vet may suggest an orthopedic bed or ramps to improve the quality of life of a pet with joint pain. And ask about adding antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids to your pets diet. These are beneficial in treating inflammation.

7) Hearing loss – Is your pet slow to respond to commands they know? Do they ignore you—more so than usual—when you call their name? They may be losing their hearing.

Dogs and cats can learn to live with a hearing deficit. It just may take some

adjustments on your part. Talk to your vet to find out how you can help your pet live with a hearing loss.

8) Constipation – It’s common in dogs that are experiencing painful pooping due to hip dysplasia or anal gland disease. And it’s common in cats too.

Don’t let constipation linger. It can cause an obstruction and that can be serious.

If your pet is constipated, be sure they drink a lot of water. Your vet may also prescribe a high-fiber diet until the problem’s under control.

9) Cognitive dysfunction – Unfortunately our pets can become senile, just like we can. It’s called cognitive dysfunction and behavior that’s out of the norm may tell you your pet’s suffering from it.

You may find they’re disturbed by loud sounds, become aggressive, bark or meow more, are confused or disoriented, have accidents, aren’t interested in playing, are grouchy, or they don’t respond to voice commands.

Have your vet check them out if you suspect they’re getting senile. There isn’t a whole lot that can be done but some lifestyle changes may help.

As your pet ages, it’s important they see the vet more often. A check up twice a year is a good idea. And it’s up to you to spot subtle changes. Sometimes these are the only signs you’ll get that there’s a problem.

And early detection is critical in treating and slowing the progression of disease. Not to mention minimizing your pet’s pain.

Is your senior dog showing signs of aging? Tell us how in the comment section at the top of the page.

 

 

 

11 Signs Your Pet Is in Pain

The only thing worse than seeing our fur babies suffering in pain is knowing they were suffering, and we didn’t realize it.

Instinctually, dogs and cats will try to hide their pain in order not to appear weak to a predator. But there are subtle signs you may notice if they’re suffering.

1) Excessive grooming

When a dog or cat is in pain, they will often groom the area that’s causing them pain to clean and care for the wound. Even if there is no wound but the pain is internal, they may lick the spot.

2) Heavy panting

When your dog pants, you probably think nothing of it. But excessive panting warrants attention. It’s a sign of stress and that stress can be caused by pain.

One of my labs panted like crazy towards the end. I live in a warm place, so I assumed she was just cooling herself. But when I look back, I realize she was panting all the time… not just after activity.

I took too long to realize the panting was a sign of her pain.

Besides panting, you may also find that their breathing is faster or shallower. This can be a sign it hurts to breathe but it can also be a sign of general pain.

Your pet may be subtler. If they lick their lips when you touch a part of their body, they may be telling you it hurts.

3) Inappetence

Lack of appetite, particularly if your pet is a good eater, should be a red flag. Their pain may make it difficult to stand or to lean over the bowl. But when you’re in pain, you sometimes just don’t feel like eating.

Inappetence can be a sign of many ailments, some serious. So this definitely warrants a trip to the vet.

4) Shyness and aggression

An animal in pain can act out. They may try to bite or scratch if you try to touch them. If your always-sweet dog growls or snaps, or your mellow cat tries to bite or scratch you, they’re trying to tell you something. They’re going into protection mode so you don’t hurt them.

Have your vet evaluate your pet so you don’t get hurt.

If your friendly pet is suddenly hiding or doesn’t greet you at the door like usual, check for pain. They may avoid you so you don’t hurt them.

Some pets will seek constant affection when they’re suffering. But if the pet that typically likes to be held won’t let you pick them up or cries when you do, this is a warning sign.

Any noticeable change in attention seeking should cause you to question if something’s up.

5) General behavior changes

Is your pet depressed, lethargic, or mentally dull? Any extreme changes in behavior should cause the light bulb to go on.

If your pet suddenly won’t walk steps, jump, climb, or chase a ball something’s wrong. Everyone knows what it’s like to be in pain. You don’t want to do anything that’ll increase the pain.

You may also notice limping or stiffness when they stand.

A general disinterest in the things your pet used to love is a signal that something’s amiss.

6) Unexplained accidents

When a pet is in extreme pain, they may have accidents in the house. When the pain is too much to get up, a dog may not make it outside to do their business and a cat may not get to the litter box.

And if squatting is painful, they may just do their business in their bed.

7) Excessive vocalizations

If your dog is vocal, they may become less vocal. If they’re typically quiet, they may start whining, whimpering, yelping, growling, snarling, or howling. Do you find they’re vocalizing more than usual?  Check it out with your vet.

Cats may purr more. Purring is not always a sign of pleasure, so take note if your cat is purring more than is typical for them.

8) Changes in sleep

Sleep is important for healing. As a result, your pet may sleep more than usual. Sometimes though, they’re sleeping more because it hurts to move.

If your pet is pacing and not sleeping, they may be too uncomfortable to stay in one place and rest.

9) Postural changes

Your pet that normally curls up in a ball to sleep may lay flat on their side when they’re in pain.

They’re back may be arched or sunken, while some may get down in a prayer position with their rear-end up in the air and their abdomen stretched.

Your pet may take a rigid stance or their usually perky tail may be tucked.

10) Eye changes

This one may not be immediately obvious to you. Pain can cause your pet’s eyes to become dilated. Conversely, animals with eye pain often squint and their pupils may become smaller.

11) Restlessness

If you’ve ever been in severe pain, you know you can feel agitated and restless. It’s difficult to sit or lie down. The same goes for your pet.

If you see they’re pacing— or sit or lie down and then immediately get up— they’re uncomfortable.

Sometimes your pet will sit or lie in an unusual position to minimize their pain.

Anything out of the ordinary should alert you to a problem. If you sense something’s up, reach out to your vet at once.

The sooner you identify your pet’s pain, the sooner you can treat it. But never, ever give your pet a human pain med without talking to your vet first.

As our pets age, things will hurt. They’ll get sick.  And our young pets will have those inevitable accidents and illnesses.  But minimizing their pain and keeping them happy is our job as a pet parent.

Knowing what to look for will help you spot a problem quickly so you can manage your pet’s pain and keep them comfortable.

Has your pet ever been in severe pain? How did you know? Tell us in the comment section at the top of the page.

 

 

 

Is Your Dog a Farter?

Although we dog owners love most everything about our dogs, there’s one thing we could live without… flatulence— more commonly known as gas.

All my dogs have been great producers of gas. But my greyhound, he was a professional farter. So much so, my kids lovingly renamed him Sirfartsalot.

Thankfully, gas is not usually a sign of anything too serious. But it can really affect your quality of life and your ability to enjoy your dog. And if it happens when you’re in a public place, it’s embarrassing!

But gas can usually be resolved once you figure out what’s causing it.

Flatulence is the release of accumulated gas in your dog’s intestinal tract. The natural bacteria in the gut break down the food. But certain foods don’t breakdown and get digested the way they should. And gas is the unpleasant result.

Why do some dogs have more gas than others?

Maybe you’ve heard that certain breeds are gassier than others. Specifically, brachycephalic breeds… dogs with short noses like Bulldogs, Boxers, and Boston terriers.

There is no clear evidence this is true. But some believe that the position of their short noses causes them to take in excess air when they breathe.

The veterinarians in the doubters camp feel excess air may cause burping but shouldn’t cause farting. Others believe that taking in excess air for any reason including eating too quickly or exercising too soon after eating can cause gas.

It can’t hurt to reduce the risk of taking in too much air by having your excited eater dine in a quiet room with no disturbances or distractions. If competitive eating causes your dog to eat too fast and take in too much air, separate your dogs.

Smaller more frequent meals can help too.

And never exercise your dog less than an hour before or after eating because that can cause bloat as I discussed in Could Your Dog Fall Victim to this Deadly Condition?, even if it doesn’t cause flatulence.

Regardless if too much air intake is to blame for gas, we know for sure the following 7 things can cause gas.

Low quality diet – This is the most common cause of gas. Indigestible carbohydrates and less digestible meat byproducts can lead to gas. Gas is the fermentation of poorly digested food. So feed your dog a super premium highly digestible food and you’ll notice less odor coming from your dog’s rear end.

If the first few ingredients on the label of your pet’s food are corn, soy, sugar or an unspecified protein meal, the food is of low quality and isn’t highly digestible.

Food allergies or sensitivities – Gas can be a sign that your dog is not tolerating something in their diet. What they may be allergic to is not always easy to identify.

In my article, 5 Signs Your Dog May Have a Food Allergy, you can learn more about how to isolate the offending ingredient in your dog’s food.

Sudden dietary changes – If you need to change your dog’s diet, be sure you do it gradually. A sudden change can upset your dog’s stomach and cause gas.

Dietary indiscretion – Is there a dog owner in the world that doesn’t have a story about the time their dog ate _____________? Fill in the blank. Every dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have either from the garbage can, the street, or maybe your kid’s backpack.

Depending on what they eat, it can really upset their stomach. And cause gas.

I find with my dogs that excessive gas is often the precursor to diarrhea.

Stress – When a dog is stressed, their digestion can suffer. Not unlike humans. The day I rescued my greyhound from the track, I learned about the relationship between stress and flatulence. The car ride home was a long one. He was so stressed and just kept passing gas… the whole 40-minute ride. Poor guy! Poor us!

And my new puppy that exudes confidence wherever she goes is surprisingly very nervous in the car. Whenever we go for a ride—pretty much daily—she blesses us with some awfully unpleasant emissions.

Table scraps – It’s not a good idea to feed your dog table scraps. If they’re eating a well-balanced diet, introducing food from the table isn’t necessary and can upset their digestive systems.

This is particularly true if they are lactose intolerant and you give them cheese or ice cream. If you do, expect gas!

And fatty foods… they can really be difficult for a dog to digest.

Gastrointestinal disorders – If your dog is eating a healthy high-quality diet without any unexpected extras, and they’re still gassy… see the vet.

A condition that disturbs the intestines’ ability to absorb nutrients can cause gas.

They could be suffering from a gastrointestinal disorder like ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, giardia or another parasite. But there are usually signs besides gas if something more serious is going on.

Keep in mind that anything that upsets the microflora (healthy bacteria) in the digestive tract can also make your dog gassy. That includes antibiotics.

Antibiotics disturb the healthy bacteria in humans too. If your dog is on antibiotics, consider giving them a probiotic to support the microflora in their systems.

In fact, if your dog is gassy, your vet may recommend adding a probiotic to their diet. Probiotics offer a lot of benefits. My article, Probiotics… Do Pets Need Them Too?, talks all about why you should consider a food like Husse that includes probiotics in its formulation.

How to reduce the gas

What’s causing the gas is something going into your dog’s digestive system. If your dog has a flatulence problem, start with their food.

A highly digestible food with high-quality protein and lower fiber will often get rid of the problem. Go with the best quality food you can afford to feed your dog.

A super premium food like Husse is a great choice. It’s highly digestible, and all of their foods contain a high-quality named protein source… no generic meals, no byproducts.

And don’t forget exercise. Just like people, dog’s need exercise to get their bowels moving and their digestive tract working. Both necessary to reduce gas.

Is your dog gassy? What’s worked to resolve the problem? Tell us in the comment section at the top of the page.

 

 

9 signs your dog may suffer from this debilitating condition

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than seeing our beloved pets unable to enjoy being active and playful.

Unfortunately, when our dogs are suffering, they can’t tell us what’s bothering them. But our pet parent intuition knows when something is up.

There are many conditions that cause our dogs to avoid activity but hip dysplasia is particularly debilitating.

This is a condition that affects mostly large and giant breed dogs like Saint Bernards, Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds. But small and medium-sized breeds can get it too.

In simple terms, hip dysplasia is an abnormally formed hip socket. The ball and socket don’t meet each other properly causing the joint to rub and grind instead of sliding smoothly. This causes pain and lameness. In its most severe form it can cripple your dog.

Hip dysplasia is one of the most common skeletal diseases seen in dogs.

Here are 9 signs your dog may suffer from this debilitating condition:

Decreased activity

Difficulty getting up

Reluctance to run or jump

Won’t climb stairs

Lameness in hind legs

Bunny hopping

Back legs are unnaturally close together

Loss of muscle mass in thigh muscles

Enlarged shoulder muscles from taking excess weight off hips

Hip dysplasia may affect both hips or just one. And it can start when your dog is young… sometimes as early as 5 months. Or you may notice a problem as your dog is aging and the joint is degenerating. Without early intervention, hip dysplasia will cause osteoarthritis.

If your dog is suffering from early onset hip dysplasia, the symptoms they experience will relate to the looseness or laxity in the joint. Later disease results in problems caused by degeneration of the joint and the ensuing arthritis.

Causes of hip dysplasia

There is a very strong genetic component to this orthopedic disease.

If you buy a large purebred dog from a breeder, the first question to ask is if the parents and grandparents are OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certified. And ask to see the certifications.

Parents and grandparents with good hips are less likely to have puppies with bad hips, but it’s no guarantee they won’t.

If you rescue a dog, it’s a crapshoot. Selective breeding is the only prevention… and there’s still no guarantee.

Nutrition plays an important role. If a dog predisposed to hip dysplasia grows too quickly, gains weight too quickly or is obese, they have an increased likelihood of developing the disease. If you feed a lower fat, lean diet to a large breed puppy it will promote slower growth.

And feeding a premium food like Husse Valp Maxi (for large breed puppies), Optimal Giant and Lamm & Ris Giant may improve the odds. These foods are formulated to provide the nutrition required to minimize the health concerns associated with large breeds.

In addition, these three foods contain salmon oil. The Omega-3s in fish oil are a natural anti-inflammatory and provide many other health benefits. You can learn more about these benefits in my article Omega-3 Fatty Acids…Your Pet Needs Them Too!

And for the doggy already suffering from hip dysplasia, your vet may suggest adding fish oil to their diet.

Exercise can play a role too. And this one’s a double-edged sword. A young dog that’s over-exercised and is predisposed to the disease has a greater likelihood of developing it. But dogs with greater muscle mass are less likely to get it.

Hmmm!  The answer is exercise your dog but don’t overdo it.

Treating hip dysplasia

Once diagnosed, your vet’s treatment recommendation will depend on many factors such as your dog’s age, severity of the disease, your dog’s activity level and its size.

Surgery is an option, but it’s expensive. For most people, medical management is the likely choice.

Many medications are on the market today that will halt the degeneration of the joint. But any deformity or degeneration that exists will not go away.
Besides anti-inflammatories and pain meds, medical management may include:

Exercise

Weight management

Warm and comfortable sleeping area

Physical therapy

Supplements including glucosamine, chondroitin, and Omega-3s

Your vet will want to follow-up with regular exams and possibly new x-rays to evaluate the progression.

This is one of those conditions that may mean lifestyle adjustments for your dog. But if caught early, it’s possible to slow the progression and enable your baby to have a good quality of life.

Does your dog suffer from hip dysplasia? How have you treated it? Share in the comment section at the top of the page.

 

People foods dangerous for pets

We all may be a little guilty of indulging our fur babies sometimes with table scraps, or by sharing a tasty human treat with them. And there are foods we eat that are definitely safe for our pets to eat too.

In fact last week, I talked about healthy fruits and veggies great for sharing.  This week I’ll tell you about the foods that are a definite NO for your pets.

These foods can be downright deadly! Many of them you may already know are dangerous. Some may be a surprise.

You may not believe in giving your pet human food, and that’s okay. But you can still find yourself with a sick dog or cat that ate something they shouldn’t have. A pet parent’s vigilance can’t always prevent a dog or cat from helping themselves to something left on the counter or in the pantry.

If your pet is showing signs they ate something they shouldn’t have (vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, difficulty breathing, seizures), call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 888-426-4435, your vet, or the emergency clinic without delay.

Here are 15 foods to keep out of reach of your pets.

Alcohol – Besides the symptoms above that would be typical if your pet ate any of these foods, alcohol can also cause decreased coordination and even death. Keep any alcoholic beverages or foods made with alcohol, away from your pet.

Avocado – It contains persin—a fungicidal toxin similar to a fatty acid—which is toxic to pets in large amounts. Persin is not only in the fruit, it’s also in the leaves, seed and bark of the avocado plant. So also be careful if you grow avocados.

Caffeine – Anything with caffeine is dangerous to your pet. Coffee, tea, energy drinks, sports drinks, and soda all have caffeine. In addition to the typical symptoms associated with eating something harmful, signs of caffeine poisoning are hyperactivity, restlessness, heart palpitations and excessive thirst. And it can cause death.

Chocolate – Theobromine is the component in chocolate that’s toxic to our pets. Like caffeine—also present in chocolate—it’s in the methylxanthine class of drugs.  Methylxanthines are beneficial to human health but can be deadly for your dog or cat.

Dark chocolate has higher levels of theobromine than milk or white chocolate. Baking chocolate has the most.

Coconut, Coconut Oil, Coconut Water – A small amount of coconut probably won’t hurt your pet. But it may cause diarrhea. In large amounts, it can make your pet really sick. And never give your pet coconut water because it has high levels of potassium (good for humans but not your fur baby).

Grapes and Raisins – No one knows for sure what makes grapes and raisins toxic. But we do know that it can cause kidney failure. So although your dog may love chasing a grape around the kitchen floor… refrain.

Macadamia Nuts – Nuts contain a lot of oils and fats which can cause stomach distress and even pancreatitis. But macadamias, for some reason no one’s certain of, will make your pet very sick.

Milk and Dairy – Dairy products may make your pet sick but they won’t likely kill them. Dogs and cats don’t have a lot of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk. As a result, too much dairy can mean diarrhea and stomach upset, not unlike lactose intolerance in humans.

Even cats, reputed milk guzzlers, should stay away from the white stuff.

Onions, Garlic and Chives – These three are alliums and ingesting them can cause hemolytic anemia in dogs and cats. It’s serious and can cause weakness, breathlessness, loss of interest in food and potentially death.

They’re dangerous in all forms; raw, powdered, cooked and dehydrated. And it’s not just a large amount that will make your pet ill. Even small amounts consumed regularly can cause poisoning.

Cats seem to be more susceptible but dogs are also at risk if they consume too much.

Persimmons – The seeds of the persimmon are the problem. They can cause inflammation and/or block the small intestine.

Raw Meat, Raw Eggs, Raw Fish – The biggest concern with raw meat and eggs is bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli that can make pets and people sick.

Raw fish can contain a parasite that causes “fish disease” or “salmon poisoning” disease. It can be fatal if not treated. But cooking does kill the parasite.

Raw eggs also contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases absorption of biotin (an important B vitamin). This can lead to skin and coat problems. But avidin is destroyed when eggs are cooked.

Raw Bones – Many people give their dogs raw bones because they feel it’s a natural treat… something dogs would have consumed in the wild. But domesticated dogs should never chew on a raw bone. They’re not their wild ancestors.

Raw bones are dangerous because they splinter and can damage the digestive tract. They’re also a choking hazard.

Salty Foods – Our pets aren’t intended to consume salt. Sharing salty human snacks like chips and pretzels is a bad idea. Too much salt can cause sodium poisoning which has the usual symptoms… vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, seizures, and can lead to death.

Xylitol – This natural sweetener is safe for humans and found in gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. But it’s particularly dangerous for our pets.

It causes insulin release which can ultimately lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If your pet consumes xylitol they may become lethargic, lose coordination and vomit. The symptoms can progress to seizures, elevated liver enzymes, and liver failure in only a few days.

So keep your pet out of your purse, the kids’ backpacks, suitcases… anywhere there may be items sweetened with xylitol.

Yeast Dough – Yeast causes dough to rise. If swallowed, the yeast dough may rise in your pet’s stomach. This can be painful and cause bloat – a life-threatening emergency. You can read my post about the signs and dangers of bloat here.

Yeast is also dangerous because it produces ethanol.  Ethanol is alcohol. If raw bread dough is ingested, your pet can become drunk. The same dangers of consuming alcohol I mentioned above apply to yeast consumption.

Many of the items on this list are probably foods you would never consider giving your pet. Some of the items may be foods you’ve given to your pet in the past. But knowing what may be harmful can head off a lot of heartache. And knowing the signs of poisoning can be life saving.

Has your pet ever consumed one of these toxic foods? Tell us about your experience at the top. Maybe you can save another pets life.

 

 

 

 

17 fruits and vegetables your pet will love

Summer is the time for delicious fruits and vegetables. So while you’re enjoying this season’s abundant harvest, why not share some with your beloved pet?

There are many fruits and vegetables your pet will love.  And they’re good for them too. Just like any new food, start slow. Try small amounts first to see how your pet reacts. If you notice any stomach upset that fruit or vegetable may not be a good choice.

Some fruits and vegetables are dangerous for pets. We’ll talk about those next week. But this week, let’s look at the delicious and healthy treats your pet can enjoy along with you.

Apples

They’re a great source of vitamins A and C. They also contain a lot of fiber. Because they’re low in fat and protein, they’re a better snack choice for senior and overweight pets than store-bought treats.

Slice them and freeze them for a refreshing summer treat. Don’t feed the seeds or core. As with many fruit pits and seeds, they contain cyanide and that can be dangerous to pets. And the core is a choking hazard.

Bananas

They’re a mineral powerhouse high in magnesium, potassium, biotin, and copper. Bananas are also a great source of fiber. But they are high in sugar. So don’t overdue it.

You can stuff a Kong toy with banana and freeze it for a great treat and an entertaining activity for your dog.

Avoid giving your pet the peel. Although it isn’t toxic, it’s hard to digest.

Watermelon

This fruit’s high in vitamins A, B6, C and potassium. And it’s 92% water which makes it great for keeping your pet hydrated in the summer.

Remove the rind. It can cause stomach upset. And the seeds can cause an intestinal blockage.

Strawberries

There’s lots of fiber and vitamin C in this fruit. But it’s also high in sugar, so go easy. Cut the berries into small pieces to avoid choking.

A bonus… strawberries have an enzyme that can whiten your pet’s teeth.

Oranges

Not all pets will like the tartness of oranges. But they are high in vitamin C, potassium and fiber. You can give a big dog a whole orange (minus the skin). But smaller dogs should have only a third.

One or two segments are really enough for a treat. Oranges are high in sugar too. So an overweight pet shouldn’t eat too many.

Some pets have a hard time digesting oranges. So start with just a small amount until you’re sure it agrees with them.

Blueberries

This fruit is considered a super food for humans and pets. It’s full of fiber, phytochemicals (beneficial plant compounds), and antioxidants. It’s low in calories and high in vitamin C.

And just like in people, antioxidants prevent cell damage, strengthen the immune system, and reduce the effects of brain aging… great for our elderly pets.

Pineapple

I’m talking about the raw, fresh kind only. No canned pineapple in syrup for your pets. It’s got way too much sugar in the syrup.

As long as you feed your pet the raw yellow flesh without the spiny skin or core, pineapple is a delicious treat.

It’s nutrient dense containing vitamin C, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, manganese, copper, potassium, magnesium and iron.

If you give your pet pineapple, feed small quantities. It’s very high in fiber which can cause diarrhea. And very high in sugar… that’s not good for anyone.

Peaches

Peaches have vitamin A and fiber. They are a tasty treat but never feed your pet the pit. It has cyanide as many pits and seeds do.

And once again, only the fresh version. No canned peaches soaked in sugary syrup.

Raspberries

They have anti-inflammatory properties making them a good snack choice for elderly pets with joint pain.

They’re high in fiber, manganese and vitamin C, but low in sugar and calories. And they contain antioxidants. But you don’t want to feed your pet too many because they contain a small amount of Xylitol which can be deadly to your pet.

Mango

A mango has vitamins A, B6, C, E, and potassium, beta-carotene and alpha carotene making it a healthy snack option for your pet. But again remove the pit. It has cyanide and can be a choking hazard.

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe is a great year-round treat. It’s got vitamins A, B6, and C, along with beta-carotene, fiber, folate, niacin and potassium.

Beta-carotene helps prevent cell damage and reduces the risk of cancer.

But again, skip the rind and feed only the flesh.

Pumpkin

This is a great addition to the diet if your pet has gastrointestinal problems. It can alleviate diarrhea and constipation. It’s also good for cardiovascular health.

Pumpkin is full of fiber, vitamin A and antioxidants.

Carrots

These are good raw or cooked but the crunchiness of a raw carrot is great for your pet’s dental health.

They’re high in fiber and beta-carotene.

Cucumbers

My Greyhound came running when he heard the peeler come out of the draw.

Cucumbers are terrific because they’re low in carbohydrates and fat, making them great for overweight pets.

My Greyhound had the metabolism of a tri-athlete and could have used a little fat on his bones. But that didn’t stop him from loving cucumbers.

They contain vitamins K, C, B1 and potassium, copper, magnesium, and biotin. And they say cucumbers can give your pet an energy boost.

Celery

Not only does celery contain vitamins A, B and C, but it also can freshen doggy breath. That sounds good!

Sweet or white potatoes

Washed, peeled, boiled or baked, potatoes are a great source of fiber. But never feed potatoes raw… way too hard to digest. White potatoes contain iron. Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene, and vitamins B6 and C.

Stay away from mashed potatoes that contain butter and milk, and sweet potato pies with added sugar or marshmallows.

Green beans

This is the super power of veggies for pets. They contain omega-3 fatty acids; vitamins A, C, and K; calcium, copper, fiber, folic acid, iron, niacin, manganese, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin and beta-carotene.

Wow… this one’s worth keeping at the ready!

Although there are many great options your pet can enjoy, I realize not everyone wants to feed their pet fruits and vegetables. And you don’t have to. If you are feeding your pet a well-balanced nutritious food like Husse, your pet is getting all it needs.

But if you like to give your pet a treat, fruits and vegetables are better options than store bought packaged treats.

Regardless of your treat choice, remember moderation is always best. And if ever your pet has a negative reaction to something you feed them, stop giving them that food and call your vet if problems persist.

What fruits and vegetables do your pets enjoy? Tell us in the comment section at the top of the page.

 

Do you know the root cause of your dog’s ear infections?

If you have a dog that’s prone to ear infections, you know they’re no fun.

When I first rescued my Lab, Honey, it seemed just as I’d resolved one infection the next one was brewing. That’s when I realized I was only treating the problem—I wasn’t getting to the root of it.

I dreaded chasing her through the house to clean and treat those ears. Let’s just say, she wasn’t the easiest dog.

Some dogs are more prone to ear infections, particularly floppy-eared dogs. And Labs are one of those dogs. Breeds with ears that stand up are less likely to get them.

Plus Honey loves to swim. So I assumed her problem was that I wasn’t doing a good job drying her ears when she got out of the pool. And that may have been part of it.

But interestingly, her food made the difference. When we got her, she was eating a cheap box store food. We transitioned her to a super premium food, and it made all the difference once she was on it for a little while.

Causes of ear infections

The bacteria and/or yeast that cause infection make their home in dark, moist, alkaline places such as the ear. These organisms may bring about an infection but it’s often secondary to something else going on in your fur baby’s ear.

Many things can change the environment in the ear, turning it into a great place for bacteria and/or yeast to take hold.

So what are those things?

Allergies – You can read my post, 5 signs your dog may have a food allergy, to find out how a food allergy can bring about an ear infection. It’s often the first sign that your dog is allergic to its food.

Parasites – Ear mites are more common in cats than dogs. But dogs that get them are often super sensitive to them. Extreme scratching can cause trauma to the ear that results in an infection.

Foreign bodies – Any kind of dirt or debris, i.e. a leaf, a piece of grass, etc., can cause an irritation that leads to infection. A dog’s ear canal is “L” shaped. A foreign object can settle in the bottom where the canal turns and cause a problem.

Trauma – An injury can irritate the ear which leads to incessant scratching, and ultimately an infection.

Hormone imbalance – Hormones affect the skin and ears. An imbalance can cause skin and ear trouble. Irritated ears will make your dog scratch and that can lead to infection.

Excess moisture – Yeast loves moisture. If your dog is a swimmer like mine is, be sure to dry their ears every time they swim. And the same for bath time. If those ears are damp, you’re giving infection an opportunity to take hold. Some breeds with heavy floppy ears like spaniels have moist ears making them more susceptible to infection.

Ear anatomy – Sometimes a dog’s ears are just ripe for infection because of their structure. Creases, excessive hair, and other areas for dirt, bacteria and yeast to build up may make your dog more prone.

Heredity – There are hereditary diseases like dermatomyositis in Collies and primary seborrhea in Shar Peis that can affect the ears and lead to infection.

Tumors – A tumor or polyp in your dog’s ear can lead to scratching and ultimately an infection.

To rid your dog of ear infections, and not just treat them, you must get to the cause and fix it. If your dog has a tumor in their ear, antibiotics won’t fix it.

Take the signs of an infection seriously. If you notice a strong odor, discharge from the ear, head shaking or tilting, pawing at the ear, or even wobbliness see the vet.

Treatment for ear infections

How your vet treats the infection will depend on the cause. Your vet should do a thorough exam to see if there’s anything in the ear that’s causing the problem. And then treat the problem In addition to the infection.

If the vet thinks it’s just bacterial, they’ll prescribe an antibiotic—or an antifungal for yeast. If there’s a lot of inflammation, you’ll probably get a steroid too.

For an environmental allergy, the treatment may include antihistamines, steroids and regular cleaning with an ear wash.

The point I want to stress is that all these treatments are great if they fix the problem. But if the infection recurs, talk to your vet about digging deeper to find a permanent solution.

The most common cause of ear infections is food allergies. If your vet doesn’t bring this up and you are fighting one infection after the other, it may be time to consider changing your dog’s food.

My post, 5 signs your dog may have a food allergy, can help you through the food allergy dilemma.

I know a food change made all the difference for my Honey.

Husse’s Lamm & Ris (Lamb & Rice) or Lax & Ris (Salmon & Rice) are ideal for dogs with food allergies. Rice is highly digestible and gluten-free. Gluten can be a problem for a dog with food allergies. All Husse foods are balanced to provide your dog with the nutrition they need.

Preventing ear infections

If your dog’s infection is truly just an infection brought on by bacteria or yeast, then the antibiotic or antifungal should do the trick. But be sure to keep the ears dry and clean.

Clean your dog’s ears regularly with an ear wash. If you prefer something more holistic, brewed green tea at room temperature is commonly used as a natural ear cleaner.

Ask your vet to show you how to clean your dog’s ears safely. And ask how often to clean them. You can cause more harm than good with over-cleaning.

My advice is to listen to your inner voice. If it’s telling you there’s something more than an infection going on because your dog is battling one after the next, you need to look into other possible causes for your dog’s trouble. Don’t be afraid to push your vet to explore the possible causes I’ve mentioned.

We all want the same thing for our pets… a happy, healthy and quality life with no pain or discomfort. Getting rid of those ear infections once and for all is essential to achieving that.

Does your dog suffer from frequent ear infections? What was the underlying cause? Share in the comment section at the top of the page.