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How to Take a Tick Off Your Dog

A tick is a small parasite related to spiders. They are most normally found in wooded areas and those fields of high grass and like mosquitoes and fleas pose a health hazard to your dog and to people as well as they carry the Lyme disease, Rocky mountain spotted fever and other illnesses that can affect your dogs health and even his life. While many people know that ticks can be detrimental to their dogs health they simply aren’t sure what to do to protect their dog from these parasites. Here are a few tips that may help you to protect your dogs from ticks and keep him healthy.

Since ticks are found in wooded areas and high grass and especially prevalent during the spring and summer it is a good idea to keep the grass in your yard mowed and short. Ticks are far less likely to inhabit areas where there is no tall grass.

You will also want to keep your yard free of spilled bird seed and other things which might attract mice and squirrels because ticks often use these animals as a host and food source.

Don’t allow your dog to roam. The best way to protect him from ticks is to limit his access to areas where there is not a high concentrations of these parasites.

If you take your dog camping with you check him/her every three hours for signs of ticks. Make sure you check him thoroughly including the inside of his ears and around the genital area. Ticks do not attach immediately to a new host and usually don’t start feeding until after they are on the host for about 4 hours. (It is also wise to thoroughly check all humans who are camping in wooded areas for ticks as well.)

If you find a tick use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the body as possible and pull the tick straight out. Never remove a tick with your bare hands. Ticks have teeth designed to latch onto a host and remain fixed and twisting and turning the tick may result in leaving the head with the disease carrying fluids attached.

Once the tick is removed then clean the area with soap and water and apply antiseptic.

Using protectants such as Advantix, Bravecto  and Frontline Plus may prevent ticks from using your dog as a host. Ask your Veterinarian about these and other products that may help to protect your dogs from ticks.

If your dog has had access to any area where ticks may live and suddenly appears lame, feverish and has a loss of appetite and appears lethargic then take him to your Veterinarian immediately for treatment. Be sure to tell your Vet of the places your dog has been so that he can be tested for tick spreading diseases.

Your dog is your trusted companion and your friend. You want to be able to share those outside adventures, picnics, hiking and camping trips with him but, you also want to keep him safe. Following these few tips will help protect your dog from ticks and the associated health problems they cause while still enabling him to enjoy all those out of door adventures.





Diseases of the Kidneys in Dogs

The kidneys normally filter the blood, cleansing it of waste products, toxins, and other substances. They maintain the correct balance of water and electrolytes, help regulate blood pressure, and keep the blood pH at the right level. Unfortunately, failure of the kidneys is one of the most common diseases of dogs. In this condition, the functional tissue of the kidneys is damaged, leaving them unable to filter the blood adequately. Toxins build up within the body, a condition known as azotemia.

Acute Renal Failure (ARF)
Acute Renal Failure means that the kidneys are damaged suddenly. This is usually caused by poisoning or a lack of blood flow. Poisons that can cause ARF are ethylene glycol (antifreeze); heavy metals such as zinc and lead; and large doses of certain antibiotics, acetaminophen, and chemotherapy drugs. Inadequate blood flow can be caused by shock, hemorrhage, low blood pressure, or dehydration. Infectious illnesses like Leptospirosis can also cause ARF.

Signs of acute renal failure are not very specific. Loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea or dehydration may be seen. Some pets with ARF urinate excessively while others stop urinating altogether. Information on the pets recent experiences is crucial in diagnosis of ARF. Once the veterinarian suspects kidney disease, blood and urine tests are used to determine the cause and the severity of the condition.

Animals with ARF are treated with IV fluids. Additional medications are used to correct electrolyte and pH imbalances and to reduce symptoms. Specific treatment for the original cause of the kidney damage is given if the cause is known. Healing can occur in tissues that are merely damaged, and viable parts of the kidneys will work harder to compensate. Unfortunately, the portions of the kidneys that have been destroyed will not recover.

Pet owners can do several things to reduce the chance of ARF. Keep antifreeze away from pets, and clean up spills immediately. Follow medication dosage instructions, and never give people medicine to pets without first consulting your veterinarian. Make sure that pets, especially older ones, always have access to fresh water.

Chronic Renal Failure (CRF)
Chronic Renal Failure is seen most often in pets over eight years of age. CRF occurs when the functional structures of the kidneys wear out. The damage happens gradually, so months or years may pass before symptoms appear. As much as 75% of the kidney tissue may be destroyed by that time.

Like ARF, symptoms of CRF can be vague. Early signs include loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and sores in the mouth. As the illness progresses, animals drink more water, urinate more, and may have urinary accidents in the house. Eventually, toxin buildup and electrolyte imbalances can damage the nervous system and the eyes, causing seizures, coma and blindness. Many animals with CRF become anemic, because the kidneys are also responsible for stimulating production of new blood cells. The veterinarian will perform blood and urine tests to confirm a diagnosis of CRF and to assess the severity of symptoms.

CRF is a progressive, irreversible disease. Treatment is aimed at slowing the rate of damage and minimizing symptoms. Diets for pets with CRF usually contain restricted amounts of high quality protein and are low in minerals. Many pets require supplemental fluids given periodically under the skin or intravenously. Medications are given to manage nausea, correct electrolyte and pH imbalances, control high blood pressure, and stimulate blood cell production.

The newest treatments available for pets with CRF are hemodialysis and kidney transplantation. These procedures are very costly and are only available at certain veterinary teaching hospitals and specialty practices. Hemodialysis is used as a temporary, emergency method for cleansing the blood. Transplantation can extend a pets life for two or more years. Kidney transplants are complex surgeries with a high rate of success. Pets that receive transplants must remain on anti-rejection medicine for life. Regardless of the type of treatment, the goal is to maintain the pets quality of life. When this is no longer possible, euthanasia may be considered.

Chronic Renal Failure is not preventable. Although some have suggested that low protein diets might have a protective benefit for animals with healthy kidneys, scientific research does not support this belief

Simple Tips to Trim your Dog’s Nails

Nail care is a vital part of your dog’s complete health care. Because nails continuously grow and are not necessarily worn down as they could if they were walking a lot, subsequently it is up to you to help keep them at a comfortable length. When nails are too long, it influences the manner a dog walks which may trigger joint disease later on in life. Also longer nails can get ensnared not to mention torn, or in some cases curl back into the toe pad and can cause an infection. Trimming nails is not that traumatic if you have the suitable equipment and also have properly trained your pet to let you hold the paw.

The nail has a “quick” which contains the veins and nerves of the nail.The quick is easier to find in white nails. By trimming small amounts at any given time and trimming with the plane of the bottom of the toe pad (horizontally rather than vertically) you can avoid clipping the nail to short as to make it bleed.

Here are some additional tricks to effectively trim your pet’s nails:

1. Get started when your pet is still a puppy or kitten by gradually handling their feet. Start by making a game of it and inspecting the nails, chances are they’ll will allow you to trim them once they grow up.

2. Pick out claw trimmer for the size and age of your pet.I sometimes use the human toe nail trimmer for young pet’s nails because it can get to the tiny points a little easier and they are generally sharper. As your kitten or puppy gets older, I may then swap nail trimmers to the scissor action type of trimmer instead of the guillotine trimmer. I find that these stay sharper longer and are also easier to use. The guillotine kind some times catches the nails and does not get a clean cut. Your veterinarian may help you select a appropriate trimmer.

3. Any time you’re trimming your pet’s nails, never undertake it while your pet is sitting in your lap. Have somebody assist you and place them on the counter or top of the washer or dryer. You can wrap them with a towel to help holding them a lot better. If your pet starts to resist, just try holding the paw until he relaxes. Should you release the foot whenever your pet starts to protest, you are just encouraging the poor behavior and will make the subsequent nail trim episode a whole lot worse. (Go back to number 1)

4. Be well prepared. Have accessible styptic pencils like silver nitrate or styptic powder. Be aware that the silver nitrate on the end of the sticks may stain counter tops and your skin in case you get it on you.

5. If your pet has light colored nails, you can see the pink component of the quick. If your pet has darker nails, trim a little bit at a time. I like to gently press on the toe and extend the nail out. I then draw an imaginary line level with the bottom of the toe pad and extend it out across the nail. I then trim the nail at this imaginary line so that the nail is now level with the floor when the pet is standing.

6. You can use an emery board to smooth the rough edges.

7. Pedipaws or similar rotor drill sanders are useful to smooth rough ends and to trim just a small amount of nail. If the nail is very long at all, then it could take you a long time to get it trimmed. You might use the drill to maintain the nail shorter or for smoothing the nail after you have used the clippers. Your pet must also be taught not to be afraid of the motor, so it’s always best to proceed gradually as you both learn to work with the drill.

After some practice and a lot of patience, you could soon be trimming your pet’s nails with full confidence. If all else fails, your veterinarian or groomer are here to help.

Importance of Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

For many people, dealing with their pet’s bad breath is just part of pet ownership. But, unfortunately, dogs with dental disease are at a higher risk for heart disease. How can you help to make sure your pet is not one of those destined to be on heart medication?

Most of us understand the importance of good oral health for ourselves and visit our dentist at least twice a year. But only a small percentage of people would do the same thing for their pets. Studies in human dentistry and medicine have shown that there appears to be an association between heart disease and dental disease. Is this true for our pets as well?


In a recent nationwide veterinary study, more than 45,000 cases of dogs with serious dental disease were reviewed. These dogs were compared with another 45,000 dogs of similar gender, age, and breed that did not have any dental disease. Their report shows that there appears to be a strong association between the health of your pet’s mouth and the incidence of other health issues, such as heart murmurs or even infection of the lining of the heart.
Dental care of dogs and cats is one of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet health care. A recent American Animal Hospital Association report on compliance within veterinary practices showed than less that 35% of pets who need a dental cleaning ever receive one. The reasons for this level of non-compliance are many, but often, pet owners will report that they just didn’t know their pets needed dental work or even that their pets suffered from periodontal disease.
Just as with people, periodontal disease in our pets starts the same way. It begins when food particles, saliva, and bacteria attached to the teeth produce a filmy matrix called “plaque”. If this matrix is not disrupted, “calculus” forms. More commonly known as tartar, the calculus makes the surface of the tooth rough and provides a better hold for more bacteria and helps to protect the bacteria from being dislodged. These bacteria will then infect the gums, causing a condition known as gingivitis. If not treated appropriately, gingivitis can progress into periodontal disease, destroying the bone that supports the tooth. It’s hard to believe, but there may even be an association between dirty teeth and other serious diseases. The same bacteria that cause dental disease have been found in the hearts of dogs with heart disease.

Our new Spring Pet Chlorhexidine Dental Wipes for Dogs and Cats ~ 50 Wipes can be used daily to help remove the plaque and reduce tartar formation. Simply wrap the wipe around your finger and gently rub the outside surface of the teeth and gums
To help prevent dental problems from becoming a serious health issue, veterinarians recommend that oral health care start early. Your new puppy or kitten should become comfortable with you examining its mouth. Early training will help the pet to learn to tolerate brushing and other preventive measures and will help you recognize abnormalities. Simple awareness of the health of your pet’s mouth can help you to provide better health care for your pet. As your pet ages, a weekly check of the mouth may also help to find issues before they become dangerous. You should take time to look for plaque and tartar, especially on the large canine teeth in the front of the mouth and the big shearing teeth in the back of the mouth. Other potential areas of concern include fractured teeth, gum tissue that is overgrown or does not appear to be a healthy pink color, bleeding from the gums or any ulceration in the mouth. In addition to using your eyes, your nose can be an important tool as well. Pets are not supposed to have bad breath! If you can detect any foul odor, or if you see any problems in your pet’s mouth, your pet should be seen by your family veterinarian.

There is a great advancement you should know about. After you have done your weekly exam, you can further help to protect your pet by using a barrier sealant called OraVetTM. This product has helped to revolutionize at home dental care for pets. In less than one minute per week, your pet’s teeth can be protected and the effects of plaque and calculus can be minimized. By adhering to the surface of the teeth, OraVetTM gel actually helps to repel plaque causing bacteria. Without plaque formation, dental disease is much less likely to begin or get worse. For optimal results, see your veterinarian to have your pet’s teeth cleaned, followed by an initial application of OraVetTM applied after the dentistry. You then simply continue weekly applications with a home care kit.

Most Common Poisons for Our Pets

We share so much with our pets, our house, our bed and our food, that we sometimes forget that they are dogs and cats and their physiology, and psychology are different than ours. Their are a few food items that we can eat, but our four legged friends cannot, as the owners of Sparky discovered last night.



Dad was treating himself to some chocolate covered raisins, and left the bag sitting on the couch when he went out on an errand. When he returned, the bag of raisins was consumed by Sparky, a rat terrier. Both chocolate and raisins are considered toxic to pets, and Sparky spent the night in the ER.

The top five common toxins ingested by dogs and cats include:

  1. Chocoloate
  2. Rodenticides (mouse and rat bait)
  3. Ethylene Glycol (anti-freeze)
  4. Metaldehyde (slug bait)
  5. Marijuana

Ingestion of these items warrants a trip to your veterinarian for decontamination and treatment.

The top ten human medications that commonly poison our pets are:

  1. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): These are common pain-relieving medications we all keep around the house. Whether you refer to them by brand name (Aleve®, Advil®, Motrin®) or by generic (ibuprofen, naproxen), these medications are very dangerous to pets.
  2. Antidepressants: As we begin to understand more of how chemical imbalances can affect our moods and our mental stability, an increasing number of Americans are now taking these drugs. Examples include: Effexor®, Wellbutrin®, Prozac®, and Zoloft®.
  3. Acetaminophen: One of the most common pain relievers in North America, Tylenol® may be great for us, but it can be deadly to cats. Dogs are also affected, but often not to this extreme. Dogs can experience liver damage and occasionally red blood cell damage. A single extra strength Tylenol® has been known to kill cats.
  4. Methylphenidate: This medication is used for treating attention-deficit, hyperactivity disorder. Like antidepressants, it is all too common in North American households, especially where children are present. Ritalin® is an example of a medication containing methylphenidate. Methylphenidate is also supplied as time release patches.
  5. Fluorouracil: This anti-cancer drug is used to treat minor skin cancers in humans. Discarded cotton swabs used to apply this medication are a prime source of pet poisonings.
  6. Isoniazid: First line tuberculosis drug with a very narrow margin of safety. Extremely dangerous to dogs. Dogs will have serious seizures and then enter a stuporous state. Toxic doses: Five 300 mg tablets are fatal to a 10 lb dog.
  7. Anti-diabetic medications: Glipizide (GlucotrolR) gliclazide, and glyburide (MicronaseR) belong to a class of drugs known as sulphonylureas. These tablets work by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin. Medications like glipizide and glyburide can cause sudden and major drops in blood sugar of pets.
  8. Vitamin D derivatives: Calcipotriene (Dovonex®) is a form of Vitamin D used topically to treat psoriasis. It is available in ointments or solutions.
  9. Pseudoephedrine: This very popular decongestant is found in a variety of cold and sinus products (Dimetapp®, Sudafed®, etc). It is also a common ingredient as a precursor for methamphetamine. Ma Huang is used as an herbal weight loss aid and is also toxic to our pets.
  10. Baclofen: Baclofen is used to treat muscle symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis and spinal disorders, including spasm, pain and stiffness.

The Top Toxic Plants

  1. Azalea
  2. Rhododendron
  3. Lily
  4. Oleandar
  5. foxglove
  6. milkweeds
  7. Castor Beans
  8. Cyad Palms (Sago palms)
  9. Lily-of-the-Nile
  10. Squill
  11. Marijuana
  12. Mistletoe
  13. Amaryllis
  14. Tulips and Daffodils
  15. Cyclamen
  16. Kalanchoe
  17. Autumn Crocus
  18. Pothos
  19. Chrysanthemums
  20. English Ivy
  21. Scheffelera
  22. Peace Lily
  23. Yew

The Top Toxic Foods

  1. Chocolate
  2. Moldy Foods
  3. Onions
  4. Macadamia Nuts
  5. Avocado
  6. Rising Bread Dough (Yeast)
  7. Grapes and Raisins
  8. Tobacco
  9. Xylitol (Sugar substitute)
  10. Garlic

Other toxicities that can occur are with improper use of flea and tick medications, insecticides, ant and roach bates, glow sticks, toilet bowl drop-ins, silica gel packets and zinc pennies (pennies minted after 1982).

In the event of ingestion of these substances, contact Pet Poison Helpline  or your veterinarian.

I hope you find this information useful

Debra Garrison, DVM


House Training Your New Puppy

House training your puppy is not rocket science, but can be one of the most frustrating concerns of new puppy parents.

A little knowledge about your puppy’s nature can assist you in training him to go in the desired location. The key is consistency and vigilance.

1. Pick a designated area for the elimination area. It can be a spot outside, a doggy litter box, the house training pads or special doggy areas designed apartment dogs

2. Keep puppy confined in a small area, such as a crate or playpen and take him to the designated area at regular intervals, especially after waking, after eating, after playing, and before bedtime. Watch your puppy and if he suddenly stops playing and starts to sniff or circle, he may be looking for a place to go. Take him to the potty area and praise him lavishly for completing the task at hand.

3. Pick a phrase for going to the potty area and use the same phrase consistently. On a weekend, you can set a timer for every two hours and have all family members participate in the potty time. Using this method, most puppies can be house trained in a weekend.

4. Do not scold the puppy or rub his nose in an accident area. They simply do not understand and will make matters worse. If he has an accident, it is your fault for not watching him and taking him out in time.

5. Use an odor neutralizer, (not ammonia) to clean the accident area.

6. If you are gone for a long period of time, you may want to ask a neighbor or a friend, to assist you in taking puppy out for potty time.

7. Do not let the puppy roam the house unsupervised until he is completely house trained.

8. Some people hang bells or other devices on the door knob so the dog can bump it and it will alert you to the fact he needs to go out.