Pets are a part of our family, and to see your lovable pooch not have a treat on Halloween can be distressing. Besides, everyone else gets to partake in the fun! However, giving your dog any candy or sweets of any kind can cause digestive issues like vomiting and diarrhea. Therefore, stick to a treat that doesn’t cause an upset stomach, like one containing pumpkin. Read More
If you have a dog, at some point you’ve likely seen him sit down and drag his bottom along the carpet or grass. There can be a number of causes for this rather embarrassing behavior commonly referred to as “scooting,” but usually the culprit is your dog’s anal sacs. Dogs have anal sacs or “scent glands” on either side of the anus. These glands produce a strong-smelling oily substance used to mark territory and communicate with other dogs, as well as to provide lubrication when your dog passes stool. When all is working properly, the pressure of a bowel movement causes the anal sacs to empty, releasing a small amount of the substance. The glands can also empty spontaneously, especially when your dog is anxious or under stress such as at the vet’s office. Read More »
When an animal guardian finds blood in their pet’s stool, this can have many causes. Intestinal parasites, including roundworms, hookworms and whipworms all may cause intestinal inflammation and potentially blood in the stool. Dietary indiscretion, foreign body ingestion and food hypersensitivity or allergies also may be involved. Allergies to beef, chicken, wheat, corn and soy are fairly common in both dogs and cats. Metabolic diseases of the liver and pancreas sometimes lead to blood in the stool, and can be detected by routine blood chemistry profiles.
In pets with chronic inflammatory bowel disease or cancer, blood in the stool is a possible clinical finding. Finally, certain medications including antibiotics, cortisone, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may sometimes irritate the digestive tract lining resulting in blood in the stool.
It is important for animal guardians to have a full diagnostic workup at the veterinarian should blood in the stool be found, especially if severe or persistent.
One of the more common questions presented by animal guardians is whether it is best to free feed their pets, rather than feeding at set times during a day. It is the strong opinion and feelings of this veterinarian that it is much healthier and preferable to feed their animal companions at set times during the day, usually at most twice to three times daily in most healthy adult pets. Free feeding in both dogs and cats has been linked with obesity, digestive tract problems, diabetes, as well as urinary problems in cats.
In the wild, dogs and cats are hunters, sometimes going days without eating. That is why in my practice I will even fast pets periodically to mimic the natural feeding conditions in the wild. In general, I find that pets who eat at set times a day and then have any remaining food picked up, in much better health with better functioning digestive tracts, as well as healthier coats and immune systems. Weights are maintained at a more optimal level and the best chance at longevity is achieved.
|Hairballs are fairly a common cause of vomiting in cats, however, hairballs can also be inappropriately blamed for other causes of vomiting bile and/or food in cats. Any pet with chronic vomiting of any kind should be worked up at a local vet with an exam, blood work and X-rays as well as possibly an ultrasound to rule out underlying causes.|
Regarding hairballs, there is no known definitive cause as to why certain cats develop this annoying problem, although it is more common in long haired cats than short haired ones. Many believe it is due to a problem in the stomach muscle wall, leading to retention of hair and subsequent vomiting. If too much hair is ingested, there is potential for the cat to become impacted leading to stomach obstruction and secondary infection.
In order to prevent hairballs I would make sure that long haired cats are regularly groomed. I would also make sure that cats are on a good natural diet such as Halo or Nature’s Variety. Pet Guard and Wysong are two of my other favorites. I also recommend feeding cats more wet food, and minimal dry food as well for overall optimal health.
To prevent hairballs in cats, there are commercial products such as Laxatone, Lax’aire or Petromalt to name a few, however, I don’t like to use these frequently because of the high sugar content of such products. Giving oils such as olive oil (a teaspoon daily) mixed in with food for one week and progressing to 3 to 4 times weekly can also help hairballs from forming. Extra fiber added to meals such as a pinch of psyllium or Metamucil can help as well.
One of the more serious concerns of particularly large, deep chested breeds of dogs such as standard poodles and Doberman Pinchers is the development of a disease known as bloat, or gastric dilatation/volvulus syndrome. Bloat is a condition that occurs when the stomach quickly distends with gas and even twists, potentially resulting in severe health and life threatening consequences. Symptoms of bloat in dogs may include:
- Abdominal distention
- Nonproductive vomiting or retching
While there is no known definitive cause of this condition, there are many risk factors that can increase the likelihood of bloat in dogs. Some of these include feeding nutrient poor quality foods that are high in carbohydrates or soy based. Allowing dogs to drink too much water too quickly and/or exercise immediately after eating can also result in an increased chance of bloat.
Once stomach distention or twisting occurs, veterinary emergency attention is critical, including passing a stomach tube, IV and shock therapy, and potential surgery if twisting has occurred. Because of the high incidence of bloat in certain breeds, it is often recommended at the time of spay and/or neuter to perform what is called a tie-back procedure at time of spay/neuter to lessen the likelihood of future bloat in later years.
Constipation is a relatively common complaint of pet owners that may include a history of decreased frequency of bowel movements and/or straining and/or urgency when trying to have bowel movements. One of the more common causes of constipation in dogs and cats is ingestion of indigestible material including hair, and other foreign bodies. Metabolic and electrolyte imbalances can also cause constipation in pets.
In cats there is a specific disease of the colon known as megacolon which can lead to repetitive bouts of constipation, often necessitating frequent enemas, manual removal of feces and special prescription diets and medication. One of the simplest things a pet parent can do to help a pet with constipation is to add extra fiber to meals. Canned pumpkin and Metamucil or psyllium husks are often quite helpful when added to meals. Vetasyl is a veterinary labeled product that can help with constipation.
Since an imbalance in the bacterial population in the digestive tract can occur, probiotics can often help such as Fast Balance and Naturvet Digestive Enzymes. If symptoms persist or worsen a full veterinary assessment and workup for underlying causes of constipation should be done.
Are there any at-home remedies you have found to help your constipated dog or cat? Share your experiences in the comments below!
|Our pets are part of our family, so it’s no surprise that many pet owners give their pets leftovers or table scraps. While including fresh lean meat can make wonderful additions to a pet’s diet, there are many foods that one should never feed their animal companions. Below is a list of several food items (and liquids) that can be potentially dangerous to your pet and should be avoided:|
• Grapes/raisins – have been found to cause kidney failure in sensitive pets and should be avoided at all costs.
• Chocolate, coffee, and caffeine – each may cause vomiting and diarrhea, in addition to neurological reactions due to methylxanthine buildup in the pet’s blood.
• Macadamia nuts and avocados – both are popular human items, giving these to pets may cause digestive tract upset, as well as high fevers.
• Xylitol – an artificial sweetener that causes insulin release and potential liver failure when ingested by pets.
• Garlic and onions – may also cause digestive upset, as well as damage red blood cells causing life threatening anemia. The small amounts of garlic present in over the counter brewers yeast and garlic products often used by animal guardians as natural flea control does not appear to present this type of problem in the amount used in these products.
• Milk - can cause digestive upset and diarrhea in many pets, as many pets lack the digestive enzyme lactase.
• Large amounts of bread – can cause a buildup of gas and severe cramping and even twisting of the stomach or intestines.
• Alcohol – should be avoided at all costs due to the toxic effect on the liver and nervous system.
Do you give your pet table scraps? What are some of your pet’s favorite “human” foods?
|We are often asked in the veterinary clinic – When does vomiting become a serious issue? The answer to this is usually based on several factors, including energy level of the pet, frequency, severity and length of vomiting, as well as appetite and if there is any history of any possible foreign body ingestion.|
With possible foreign body ingestion, those pets should be examined immediately by a veterinarian. If there is the presence of blood in the vomit which can appear as bright red blood or sometimes a coffee grind appearance, those pets should also have an immediate veterinary exam. With occasional vomiting and/or when the pet is otherwise bright and healthy, clients can try a bland diet and/or Famotidine (Pepcid AC) at home once to twice daily to see if that can help.
I will also sometimes suggest slippery elm from the health food store to soothe the digestive tract, as well as even probiotics like Fast Balance and/or NaturVet Digestive Enzymes. If vomiting is frequent or persists more than a day or two, a pet should be examined by a veterinarian and a full workup done.
|It’s no secret that dogs can vomit for a variety of reasons. For instance, many dogs will eat grass sporadically and vomit grass to purge and/or cleanse themselves of toxins and sometimes when they are not feeling well. Dietary indiscretion and foreign body ingestion ranging from pine cones to corn cobs can also be involved with vomiting.
Our pets also suffer from acute viral infections as well, which are often self limiting. However, other acute and chronic causes of vomiting can range from metabolic disease of the liver, kidney and pancreas, hormonal diseases, as well as inflammation of the stomach or bowels known as inflammatory bowel disease, as well as cancer.
A specific disease of large breed dogs known as bloat, can often cause ineffectual efforts to vomit and abdominal distention. Depending upon the individual history, age of the pet, severity and length of vomiting, many times animal guardians can often treat simple uncomplicated vomiting at home. This is generally pets that are bright, alert and energetic with no loss of interest in normal activities and appetite.
As long as the vomiting is not severe with a lot of loss of fluids, then in these short term vomiting pets, animal guardians can attempt initial symptomatic treatment at home. I will often suggest Pepcid AC at dose of 0.5mg per pound once to twice daily, along with a brief 24 hour fast. During this time small amounts of liquid or broth can be offered as long as pet able to hold these liquids down.
I have also found the herb slippery elm, readily available from most health food stores quite soothing for vomiting pets. Probiotics such as Fast Balance and Mitomax are also helpful in my hands in treating vomiting pets. After 24 to 48 hours, a bland hamburger and rice or chicken and rice diet can be offered as well as continuing probiotics, slippery elm and Pepcid.
Gradually a pet’s regular diet can then be introduced. If the vomiting worsens, or blood is noted in the vomit or a coffee grind appearance to the vomit, or dog becomes lethargic, withdrawn with loss of appetite or if a guardian is in doubt, a veterinary exam is of course recommended.