Heat Cycles in Dogs and Cats

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Heat cycles are those times of year when pets are fertile and may be bred.  In dogs heats usually occur twice a year and can last up to 3 weeks in many pets.  Symptoms include:

  • Vaginal swelling
  • Bloody discharge
  • Increased attraction of male dogs

Typically pets over 6 months of age may start their first heat cycle  It is important that during this time animal guardians not allow their female dogs off leash and/or unsupervised due to the possible presence of male dogs, as most female dog bitches will allow breeding during this time.

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In cats heats can occur. Unspayed female cats typically have 2-4 heat cycles per year, but may have many cycles certain times of year such as spring or fall. Unlike dogs, cats typically don’t have vaginal swelling and/or discharge, but they become more affectionate often lifting their hind end off the ground, as well as vocalizing and rolling on the floor.

It is best to spay a female dog and /or cat to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and adding to the pet overpopulation problem already present.  I usually recommend waiting 30 days after a pet goes out of heat to have them spayed.  Due to recent evidence of increased health benefits later on in life, I recommend waiting to spay a female dog until sexual maturity at age 10-12 months.  Cats can be spayed over 6 months of age, although many shelters are doing them much younger.

PetMeds® Breed Specific Health Concerns

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When picking out a pet many clients will often ask which breeds have the most serious health issues. While any breed can get most chronic diseases, some breeds are more prone to particular problems than others. Cocker Spaniels for example are very prone to eye and ear problems, in addition to chronic skin and autoimmune/allergic diseases. Dachshunds are especially prone to spinal/disc problems which can become chronic and frustrating to treat. breed-specific-health-concerns

Bulldogs are very prone to allergic skin and ear disease as well as problems with their breathing due to the anatomy of their airways. Golden Retrievers and Boxers are very prone to many chronic allergic and hormonal diseases, as well as cancer.  In my experience, one of the breeds I find that has the highest incidence of health issues are the Sharpeis, who have many chronic skin/eye/ear and other immune mediated diseases and illnesses of various organs.  German Shepherds are prone to chronic digestive or allergic skin disease, as well as hip/joint problems, as well as behavioral disorders.

No matter which breed or mix breed dog you are considering, any breed can suffer from any chronic disease.  However, this shouldn’t discourage you and your family from choosing a perfect lifelong friend. For additional information on breed specific health concerns, you can always consult with your veterinarian.

PetMeds® Dog Breeding

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Are you thinking of breeding your dog? One of the most common questions presented to a veterinarian is whether an animal guardian should breed their particular pet. Reasons cited do indeed vary, from the animal guardian who simply wants to pass on their wonderful pet’s personality and love to the next generation, to those guardians who are looking to make a profit from the sale of future puppies.

Most of the time, however animal guardians fail to realize how complex it is to find a compatible mate for their pet, as well as the process of getting them together, in addition to the extra medical care, nutritional demands, and attention needed during pregnancy, as well as when delivery time approaches. There are also many inherent genetic conditions that pets may have that one would not want to pass on to future generations of animals, which only veterinarians and more experienced and professional breeders are aware of. Many pregnancies also often end up needing expensive surgeries like Caesarian sections to safely deliver the puppies, often in the middle of the night at emergency clinics, which can sometimes cost guardians thousands of dollars. Most people are also aware of the tremendous pet overpopulation and over breeding problems today that have resulted in too many unwanted animals both at shelters and in homes. These are just some of the reasons that I feel that breeding should be left to the experienced and professional breeders, rather than the every day pet owner, in spite of their best of intentions.

PetMeds®: Spaying and Neutering Your Pet

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This topic is presented to veterinarians every day across the country.  While for decades it has been the standard of practice to neuter/spay animals typically at 6 months, and even more recently by many shelters at even 6-8 weeks in some pets, this practice is now being called into question by conflicting studies now showing that waiting on spaying/neutering pets to when they reach sexual maturity at often one year of age, as well as simply weighing the pros and cons of the procedure at all, should be considered on an individual pet by pet basis.

Spaying or neutering your pet is a decision that you should make after consulting with your veterinarian The most important reasons for having pets spayed or neutered revolves around controlling the already huge pet overpopulation problem. Unfortunately, every day across the country, countless numbers of animals are euthanized because of sometimes unwanted pregnancies, and with the hard economic times, many animal guardians are cutting back on certain aspects of pet health care.  However, from an individual pet basis, some studies have shown that pets that undergo spaying or neutering are at increased risks for certain cancers such as bone cancer (especially more common in large or giant breed dogs), bladder tumors, prostate cancer, as well as hemangiosarcomas.

Urine incontinence is more common in neutered or spayed animals, as well as certain hormonal issues like thyroid disorders, and even behavioral problems such as increased aggression in one study in spayed/neutered animals. A growing epidemic of canine cruciate ligament (CCL) injuries are significantly more common in pets neutered/spayed before one year of age. On the flip side, early spaying of female dogs significantly decreases the risk of breast cancer, and will prevent a uterine abscess/infection known as a pyometra, which is seen on occasion in unspayed middle age and older female dogs.

My own feeling after looking at both sides of the issue, is that if an individual animal guardian can be a responsible pet owner, in not letting an intact pet off leash or the chance to roam, is that if a guardian decides to neuter or spay their dog that it be done at one year of age, rather than the prior earlier recommendations and what is done in shelter medicine and animals there. As with many things in life, there is no one correct answer to this important health care decision.

A very important consideration before spaying or neutering an animal is that by removing the sex hormones, there is a big stress put on the rest of the endocrine system, which all works together and not in separate parts in my opinion. I therefore recommend that both before and after spaying that a good natural diet is fed such as Eat Great Be Well Dog Food, Azmira, Pet Guard or Wysong.  It is also important to have all animals, but especially neutered/spayed ones on a good multivitamin supplement such as VitaChews or Super VitaChews, as well as a good quality Omega 3 fatty acid such as Super Pure Omega 3, Be Well Dog, Be Well Cat, and Nordic Naturals Omega 3 pet supplement.

1800PetMeds has  a wonderful endocrine package deal as well that includes a few of these in an economic, yet healthy threesome, including the antioxidant supplement Proanthozone, which can all work together in helping to maintain optimal health in neutered or spayed dogs or cats.

PetMeds®: Should You Breed Your Dog?

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Many clients love their animals so much that they want to often breed their dogs so that they can either pass on the positive traits to young puppies and/or to also economically make additional money. Breeding and managing a pregnant dog, as well as supervising and overseeing the birthing process are much more complicated than many animal guardians realize. Breeding dogs is recommended to those who are professionals

Just finding a suitable male or female to breed with, and whether to consult a veterinary reproductive specialist for artificial insemination are some of the questions and concerns that come up. And while professional breeders with years of experience and knowledge about their breeds have a much easier time with this, backyard breeders often have trouble finding the right or healthiest dog or bitch to attempt a breeding with.

Many breeds, especially those with wide heads like Pit Bulls, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs and others often have difficulty delivering such large headed puppies, so that many of these pregnant bitches need Cesarean Sections in order to safely deliver their puppies.  Delivery problems seem to come up most often in my experience either late at night or on weekends, often necessitating a visit to a local emergency vet clinic. While many of these clinics do wonderful jobs, costs of such surgeries can cost several thousand dollars, hardly the economic gains that many prospective backyard breeders hoped for. There is also the problem of the huge pet overpopulation problem across the world, and by sometimes ignorantly breeding or allowing pet dogs to become pregnant, often only contributes to this huge burden on well meaning animal shelters, given how many homeless animals there are already are out there that need good and loving homes.

So in my opinion, the best thing an animal guardian can do is to have their pet appropriately spayed and neutered at the right age (to be discussed in a future blog post), and consider adopting a puppy or adult dog from a local shelter or humane society, while leaving the breeding to those professionals who are experts in this area. If, however a dog becomes pregnant, it’s not only important to read up on what’s involved with caring for a pregnant dog during her average 63 day pregnancy period, but also the right kind of diets and supplements/vitamins to keep them healthy during pregnancy and lactation.  Be Well pet food is a wonderful natural diet, as well as Pet Guard and Wysong, to include as a basis for pregnant or lactating animals. Osteoform calcium phosphorus for dogs is a wonderful calcium/phosphorus supplement for both the pregnant and lactating dog. I would also recommend a good multivitamin as well such as VitaChews or Super VitaChews during all stages of pregnancy and lactation, as well as for the life of the dog.