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Posts Tagged ‘Kidney Disease in Dogs’

Can Dogs Eat Apples?

Monday, November 9th, 2015


From time to time a friend will ask me if dogs can eat apples without getting sick. One friend called me in a panic on a Saturday morning after her pet Labrador snatched an apple off her kitchen counter and scarfed the whole thing down, including the seeds.

I told her not to worry as an apple is perfectly safe for a dog to eat. You should use caution though if you’re giving your dog whole apples as a treat since the covering of the seeds contains very small amounts of amygdalin, a compound that contains cyanide.

My vet believes that the stems of apples may also contain traces of cyanide, so I’m careful to remove the stem and seeds before giving my dog an apple. Seeds are not really that harmful because the seed coating has to be broken before the amygdalin is released, so if your dog eats the few seeds contained in an average size apple, there is nothing to worry about.

I always slice the apple and give it to my dog piece by piece because it’s safer than tossing him a whole apple to eat. As to how many seeds would be safe for a dog to consume, consider that an adult would need to eat a whole cup of seeds to feel ill.

Apples are tasty treats for dogs and provide the nutritional benefits of vitamin C and fiber, plus they’re low in sodium and saturated fat. They also contain calcium and phosphorus. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in an apple help make the dog’s skin and coat healthier.

All dogs should not be fed apples just because they contain nutrients. If a dog has kidney disease, the added calcium, phosphorus and omega-6 fatty acids may not be a good addition to its diet. Additionally arthritic dogs require monitoring of their omega-6 fatty acid levels. It’s best to check with your vet if your dog has kidney disease or arthritis.

The worst problems a dog would encounter from eating too many apples is an upset stomach or diarrhea. So when my friend asked me the question can dogs eat apples, I told her yes, but “In the future keep your dog out of the kitchen when you’re making pies.”

Why Do Dogs Shake When Sleeping?

Monday, August 3rd, 2015


Does your dog shake when sleeping? Does it worry you? There can be several reasons for this shaking but they’re usually not indicative of something seriously wrong with your dog just because it shakes when asleep.

When a dog shakes while it’s sleeping it can be alarming because you can’t be sure what’s causing the shaking and whether it’s a natural occurrence, or if the dog may be in pain. When your dog is deep in REM sleep you may notice it shaking, crying, kicking, or moving its legs like it’s running.

Rapid eye movement (REM) is the sleep stage in which dreams happen. During REM a dog’s mind is fully active and aware, even though its body is in a completely calm state. The dog’s mind will replay images from events that happened that day or even past events, and its body will react to those images, causing involuntary movement during sleep. There have been many studies proving that dogs do experience REM sleep stage.

It is interesting that larger dog breeds don’t have dreams as frequently as do smaller dog breeds. If dreams are the reason for your dog’s actions, then you have nothing to be worried about.

If you notice these same movements occurring frequently when your dog is simply resting, it’s possible that your dog is having an epileptic seizure. Epileptic seizures stem from a disorder of the nerve cells in the dog’s brain and generally occur during consciousness but result in the dog losing consciousness. Nerve structures in the brain produce electrochemical signals and carry them to the brain where instructions to perform the various functions of the body are regulated. When these signals become scrambled, the result is an epileptic seizure.

During an epileptic seizure a dog may bite, snap or jerk, hurting its owner or itself. Since epileptic seizures cause unconsciousness, the dog will have no recollection of this behavior. Epileptic seizures do not seem to be controllable and tend to recur over the life of a dog.

There are other causes for seizures in dogs such as tumors, kidney and liver disorders, infections, brain damage and toxins. A low oxygen level in the blood or blood glucose levels that are too high can also cause seizures. A dog might have a partial seizure affecting only parts of its body or a generalized seizure called a grand mal that affects the entire body. Grand mal is the most severe type of seizure.

Although not very common, tremors in dogs can also be caused by abnormal cardiac contractions and restricted blood flow within the heart. This results in erratic involuntary movements. If this occurs while the dog is sleeping or awake, you should ask your veterinarian to give your dog a complete medical examination.

Why Dogs Vomit

Monday, May 11th, 2015


There are many reasons why dogs vomit so if you find your dog vomiting, don’t automatically assume that your dog has an illness.

    The most common reasons why dogs vomit include the following:

(1) Eating foreign objects or plant material. If your dog has swallowed a solid object of some kind it will often vomit it back up. If the foreign object is small enough, it can pass through the intestinal system and you’ll see it in your dog’s stool. If it’s too large or has sharp edges, your dog will continue to suffer and an emergency visit to the vet for x-rays will become a necessary life-saving action.

If you believe your dog may have eaten leaves or berries from a bush, you need to be sure the plant is not poisonous. The easiest way to check is to go online to the ASPCA poison control website at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control. There you’ll find a list of toxic and non-toxic plants, the 17 most common poisonous plants, and animal poison control FAQs.

(2) An allergy to certain foods.
If you have recently started your dog on a new diet and the vomiting began shortly thereafter, you might try mixing half of its old food with half of the new food and watch closely for changes in behavior or lingering illness. It’s possible that an intolerance or aversion to ingredients in the new food may be causing the vomiting. If you suspect this may be the cause, you can continue changing the ratio of old food to the new food to see if the vomiting goes away.

(3) Eating greasy foods or foods higher in fat content.
Table scraps or desserts can easily cause intestinal distress and vomiting in any dog. Their systems were not designed to digest rich, fatty foods that many humans eat on a daily basis. These types of food are often not healthy for us, let alone for our dogs. If your dog vomits soon after scarfing down something from your table, it’s a clear indication that you need to avoid giving it any types of food you normally eat.

Causes of vomiting that require a visit to the vet for diagnosis and treatment:
(4) Infection with parasites, viruses or bacteria can cause gastrointestinal infections also known as viral gastroenteritis. Diarrhea and vomiting are the most obvious symptoms. Many different types of bacteria and parasites can also cause GI infections and diarrhea but most of these are not serious and will go away on their own after a few days; however, others can be serious.

(5) Ulcers which can be caused by anti-inflammatory medications prescribed for skin conditions, arthritis, or other chronic health problems. Pain relief medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen inhibit a hormone-like substance that acts as a protection for a dog’s stomach lining. Prolonged use of these medications can cause severe stomach ulcers in dogs. Another less common cause of canine stomach ulcers is a mast cell cancer in the dog’s skin. Mast cell cancers release histamine which leads to stomach ulcers.

(6) Kidney Failure.
Early signs of kidney failure in dogs are increased water consumption and increased urine output. Signs of more advanced kidney failure include loss of appetite, depression, vomiting and diarrhea.

(7) Cancers.
Some possible signs of cancer that warrant a visit to your veterinarian include any new lump or bump; a change in size, shape, or consistency of an existing lump; a runny nose, especially if bloody; difficulty urinating or bloody urine; limping or a change in gait; foul breath and lethargy.

(8) Inflammatory bowel disease.
The cause of inflammatory bowel disease is unknown. Genetics, nutrition, infectious agents, and abnormalities of the immune system may all play a role. The most common signs of inflammatory bowel disease in dogs are vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. Vomiting is more common when the stomach or upper portion of the small intestine are affected and diarrhea is more common when the colon is involved. There is an increase in the frequency of defecation, but less stool is produced each time. There is often increased mucous or some blood in the stool. Sometimes stools become loose. Many times the diarrhea and vomiting may be irregular.

(9) Liver disease.
The early signs of liver disease include chronic intermittent vomiting and diarrhea. Vomiting is more common than diarrhea, loss of appetite, or weight loss. Drinking and urinating more often than normal may be the first signs, and a key reason for visiting the vet.

Whenever your dog continues to display any of these symptoms and the cause is not readily apparent, you should schedule an exam with your vet. Your pet’s health and life may depend upon it.

Kidney Disease in Dogs

Monday, March 23rd, 2015


Kidney disease in dogs can be caused by several factors; it can be a causal effect of the dog’s age, severe dehydration, a new or past trauma to the kidneys, or even tick borne diseases.

There are a lot of valuable pieces of information your veterinarian will be able to obtain from analyzing your dog’s urine sample if he suspects kidney disease. The vet will interpret the results of the urine test by reviewing the history of your pet, completing a physical exam – sometimes including blood work, and depending on the severity of the kidney disease, further testing may necessitate x-rays or ultrasound.

If obtaining a urine sample from your dog is difficult, try one of these different ways to collect the sample: The most common way to collect a sample from a larger dog is to use a clean, dry container, (you can even use an aluminum pie pan or cake pan, or a deep plastic dish that will hold the urine). After your dog has urinated, pour the sample into a clean container and seal it. Be sure to save the urine sample in a clean, dry container you can easily transport to your vet. The sample should be delivered to your veterinarian’s office immediately. If you are unable to deliver the sample immediately, refrigerate it but never freeze a dogs urine sample.

If your vet requires a sterile sample of urine to test for kidney disease you will need to take your dog to the vet’s clinic to undergo a procedure called “cystocentesis,”. The vet will insert a small needle directly into the dog’s bladder through the body wall. This procedure will not take long and will provide a sample uncontaminated by bacteria from anything outside the dog’s bladder, including its fur.

In addition to checking for kidney disease, a urinalysis will also provide information about your dog’s bladder, liver, pancreas, and other organs.

A complete urinalysis of your dog’s urine involves three steps:
1. Checking and recording the color, cloudiness, and how concentrated the urine is.
2. Completing a chemical analysis of the urine.
3. Centrifuging a small quantity of the urine sample and examining the sediment under a microscope.

Normal urine is amber-yellow in color and clear to slightly cloudy. Concentrated urine will be a darker yellow. White blood cells can also make the urine cloudy. If there is blood in the urine it will have a reddish-brownish shade.

Many of the chemical tests for kidney disease can be done using only a small quantity of urine. A dipstick is used to transfer a small amount of urine to special medical pads containing chemical reagents that test for a particular material in the urine. When the urine comes in contact with one of the reagents a chemical reaction occurs and the color of the pad will change based on how much of the substance is in the urine. The vet will then compare the pad with a color chart to determine approximately how much of the substance is in the urine. Some medications may interfere with the chemical tests causing false results and your veterinarian will need to know about any medications or supplements your dog is taking.

The following substances are just a few of the chemicals that are tested when performing a routine urinalysis to test for kidney disease:
Urine pH – (a reading of how acidic or alkaline the urine is).
Protein – (healthy dogs usually don’t have any protein in their urine, although sometimes trace amounts may be present but that is normal.
Glucose – (sugar in the blood being significantly higher than normal.
Ketones – (substances formed in the body during the breakdown of fats).
Bilirubin – (a pigment made by the liver from dead or dying red blood cells).
Urobilinogen – (Big word for a compound formed from bilirubin by intestinal bacteria).

Blood cells in the urine are normal, but a larger than normal quantity indicates a problem.

An examination of the urine sample under a microscope tests for several problems and larger than normal numbers of white blood cells may indicate inflammation from a bladder or kidney infection.

Kidney disease is a very serious health problem for dogs, just as it is for humans. If you are concerned that something is just not right with your dog, you definitely should make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs

Monday, January 19th, 2015


Diabetes in dogs is a condition where the pancreas does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin to effectively process the foods a dog eats. Because the food isn’t processed appropriately, it is unable to pass into the cells where it can be utilized, causing an excess of sugars to be passed into the bloodstream.

Common symptoms of diabetes in dogs are extreme thirst, excessive urination, ravenous hunger and weight loss. As the disease progresses, almost every system in the dog’s body can be impacted. If you suspect your dog may have diabetes, it is important to see a veterinarian for testing, diagnosis and the beginning of treatment.

Even though your dog may be drinking large amounts of water, its body is using more water than normal in order to flush its systems in an attempt to bring the blood sugar to a normal level.

Weight loss is caused by the body’s inability to take in adequate nutrients. The body begins to consume itself producing ketoacidosis, a condition that can become deadly if not treated.

Your dog may also exhibit symptoms of lethargy which is caused by its elevated blood sugar. The body and muscles are not able to operate efficiently under these conditions so it is easier for the dog to just lie around your house.

Because the symptoms of diabetes in dogs could also be an indication of other diseases, your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination to determine if any of your dog’s systems such as heart, eyes or kidneys have been damaged.

Additional tests may be run on the blood and urine samples once the diagnosis of diabetes has been confirmed. The urine may be tested for protein presence. This indicates whether the diabetes has begun to break down muscle tissue in order to provide nutrients for your dog’s body. Your veterinarian may also want to conduct a hemoglobin A1c test on the blood to help him determine how long your dog’s blood sugars have been elevated. The blood may also be tested to determine if your dog’s kidney function has been impacted and how much function is left.

Once a dog is diagnosed with diabetes, the vet will prescribe insulin injections. It may take a few weeks to determine the appropriate dosage, but then the dog should be able to live a relatively normal life except for the addition of daily injections and possibly testing of blood sugar. Diabetes can be a juggling act as diet, medication and exercise must all be part of the equation in caring for a diabetic dog.

A low protein dog food is often recommended for diabetic dogs in order to minimize the strain on the kidneys and to protect their kidney function. Regular exercise is also recommended for a diabetic dog in order to help maintain control of the diabetes.

Treating a diabetic dog involves a combination of medication, food and exercise. Finding an appropriate balance is key to controlling its diabetes and preventing further complications.

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