Sarcoptic Mange

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Sarcoptic mange, also called scabies, is an intensely itchy skin disease caused by a Sarcoptes scabei, a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin. Although dogs, cats, and humans all have a similar condition known as scabies, the mites are different for each host. Scabies in dogs is not the same as scabies in people.

Red, crusty lesions are most commonly seen on the ears, elbows and trunk of infected dogs. The lesions are extremely itchy, helping to distinguish sarcoptic mange from other skin conditions like ringworm and demodectic mange. The skin irritation is caused by the burrowing mites, which also release allergens and toxins into the skin. Constant scratching makes the skin susceptible to secondary infections with bacteria.

Although the areas of hair loss may lead the veterinarian to suspect sarcoptic mange, the final diagnosis is made by performing a skin scraping test. The skin is scraped in several areas to loosen cells and mites which are then examined microscopically. Because the mites are difficult to find, repeated scrapings are often indicated. Other tests may be performed to make sure the hair loss is not due to a cause other than mites.

Treatments may include dips or medications given by mouth or by injection. Treatments are usually given every two weeks until the symptoms have resolved and the pet tests negative for mites.

Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious among dogs. Infected dogs should be separated from other dogs until treatment is complete. Most other mammals, including humans, can be infected with a type of Sarcoptes, but the mite is different for each host. Mites from animals may get on people and cause itchiness for a few days, but will not actually cause an infection. However, until the pet is treated, mites may continue causing problems for their owners. People with skin irritations caused by canine scabies should consult their doctor for treatment to reduce the temporary itching sensation.

Cats do not get Sarcoptes, but have a similar disease caused by a different mite, Notoedres cati. It spreads easily among cats. Infected cats should receive prompt treatment and should be separated from other cats until treatment is complete. Like Sarcoptes, Notoedres does not cause scabies in people but may occasionally cause temporary, itchy skin lesions.

True scabies in people is always contracted from close contact with other people. Children, the elderly, and immunosuppressed individuals are at higher risk. Infection is usually the result of prolonged, direct contact between sexual partners or members of the same household. The organism can live for about 72 hours in the environment, so it is possible to spread scabies via sharing of unwashed clothing or bedding.

The video below show a case of severe sarcoptic mange in a stray dog.

Preparing your Home for your new Puppy

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While excitement and anticipation may perhaps be in the top of the list when bringing home a brand new puppy, getting ready for him need to rate very on the list. Just as you would want to get ready a house once you have a infant, puppy owners equally have to have to consider particular precautions when “puppy-proofing.”

Before you start getting ready your home for a new puppy, you must be aware of the backyard and garden. To begin with, examine fences and gates to be positive there are no holes big enough for the pup to get his head trapped in or to slip out and get lost. Search for litter and/or trash cans, which can be tipped over, giving your new puppy the opportunity to devour garbage that he shouldn’t. And finally, know exactly where you might be treating your lawn or garden with harmful pesticides and herbicides, then forbid your puppy from going there. Also, ensure that that all chemical compounds and other dangerous products are put away out of your new friend’s reach.

Next, you will need to pretend that a little toddler is going to dwell with you! Like small children, young puppies will find everything new and thrilling. They do not recognize when some thing is dangerous or cannot tell if that “interesting” wii controller can get them into trouble. Anything left on the floor is fair game to a puppy.

Also, when preparing your home for the new puppy, you ought to keep these tips in mind:

• Be sure all electrical and cable wires are either inside an area your pup is not going to be or hide them under rugs or carpets.There are also cable covers that work to protect your cords. Don’t keep electrical wires where your puppy could chew and gnaw on them.

• Just like a young child, your puppy will probably investigate each and every element, such as low cabinets. Just when you imagined having a puppy was easier when compared to a kid, he will learn to push those kitchen cabinet doors open! Think about adding locks or sort through the cabinets and only keep harmless things in low places.

So far, so good, right? Well, that is only in the event you remember that in reality your puppy has the intellect of a small kid. Quickly you will be getting ready for afternoon walks to the playground, 3 a.m. journeys to the potty, (more officially, outdoors) and a lot of cuddling. So, even though making ready your home for the new puppy, think about him as being a member of your family. Get him a bed made from plastic, which is more resistant to chewing. Line it with comfortable bedding-washable of course-and then place it inside a special place just for him, such as an airline crate. Make sure it truly is someplace he will be protected and comfy.

Getting ready your house for the new puppy is a lot of work, which means you may well consider purchasing a puppy pen or kennel till everything is taken care of. Just like a baby’s playpen, a puppy pen will give an spot for him to play without wandering the house. By carrying out this, you are also protecting your furniture as well as other items from getting chewed on. (Really don’t worry-he’ll eventually grow out of this!)

An additional vital thing to consider when preparing your home for the young puppy is any stairs which you may have in the home. Should you have an open basement or second floor, use child gates to confine his run area to prevent harm. Babies and puppies alike aren’t aware of peril and do not know that they could fall down steps and hurt themselves.

Before you take your puppy to your house, you may want to schedule an exam and parasite check with your veterinarian. Most puppies are infected with worms through the placenta while still in their mother’s womb. Your veterinarian will test for parasites and give a dewormer to treat your pet. Your pet’s feces contains thousands of parasite eggs that can re-infect your pup and may infect your family, so frequent de-worming and stool pick-up is neccessary to lower the worm burden in your backyard.

One of the most crucial points to consider while preparing your home for the new puppy is that your puppy is just like a kid, they may want snuggling, attention and there will unquestionably be lots of wet kisses!

What are “Hot Spots” in Dogs?

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The dog’s skin is the largest organ of the body, yet there is a very restricted number of ways in which it responds to trauma. “Hot Spots” or acute moist dermatitis are locations on the dog’s skin due to your dog’s itching, biting and scratching and may often arise quite suddenly. These places may become very large and may develop just about anywhere on the dog. I see it sometimes in the spring time once the temperatures are warmer as well as the humidity is high. The dogs with the thick undercoat, such as Labs, golden retrievers and rottweilers are susceptible to getting these spots on their face and neck. Typically, spots located at the base of the tail are very likely resulting from fleas simply because fleas choose to congregate in these areas. Quite a few dogs happen to be so hypersensitive to fleas, the bite of one flea is sufficient to induce the dog to itch all over. Almost any injury can begin the process which the dog then exacerbates by continual chewing and licking which in turn results in a vicious cycle and will cause the hot spot to spread.

The dog normally has bacteria that lives on their skin and so long as the skin is healthy, the microorganisms almost never result in any issues. However when something occurs, such as a fleabite, cut or allergies, the dog begins to lick, bite, chew and scratch which in turn disrupts the defensive layer of the skin. As soon as that takes place, the bacteria on the skin, as well as the germs in the mouth, set up housekeeping in the skin. This creates a swiftly spreading infection which may be quite painful. The area on the skin is red, raw and seems moist because the wound oozes serum and pus. The hair then mats down over the wound and the infection then spreads beneath the hair.

A visit to the veterinarian is usually called for. In many cases the fur must be clipped off to stop the spread of the infection. Sometimes, these hot spots are so painful, the dog may need to be sedated in order to have the region cleansed and shaved. Antibiotics are prescribed to take care of the infection and follow-up antibiotics are sent home. Sprays, ointments and medicated shampoos can also be prescribed to continue treatment at home.. For some dogs, a special collar may be used that can help deter the dog from chewing at the places.

The particular underlying reason for the insult should likewise be tackled. If fleas can be found, then year round flea control may be prescribed.(over-the-counter flea control is not recommended) Pollen, food, and other allergens can also precipitate an attack. Sometimes specific diets with essential fatty acids and a novel protein source for example salmon, lamb or venison may be recommended to help heal the skin. Blood and skin tests can be preformed to help discover what the dog is allergic to and special allergy injections or prescription diets is often given.

Check your dog daily for itchy spots and use flea control suggested by your veterinarian year round to help avert hot spots as a result of flea allergies. Daily grooming and brushing can keep mats from developing. If your dog is itching continuously, take him to the veterinarian to handle the itching before the infection can progress.

What is Kennel Cough?

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If you own a dog or a puppy, you may have to board them in a kennel, take them to the groomers or take them to a dog park or animal hospital. When your dog comes in close proximity to other dogs,they are  exposed to a viruses that may cause your pooch to develop kennel cough. Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious, acute respiratory disease that affects dogs and can infect your dog even if your dog hasn’t been in a kennel.puppy1

Kennel cough is caused by an airborne group of viruses, the most common being  Bordetella Bronciseptica, Parainfluenza and Adenovirus – Type 2, and can be contracted any time your dog is near an infected dog, even if only for a short time because the tiny viral particles are suspended in the air and can be breathed in. It may take anywhere from  four to ten days after exposure to the virus before your dog develops the symptoms of kennel cough. The canine influenza virus is relatively new and if you board your dog a lot at the larger kennels, you may consider vaccinating him for the influenza virus as well. Your dog’s best defense against this disease is a strong immune system and preventative vaccinations.

How can you tell if your dog has kennel cough? Dogs with kennel cough develop a dry, hacking, or non-productive cough (they do not cough up mucous or fluids). The cough can be quite severe and the more they cough, the more the throat gete irritated and the more they coug. They can last a short time or up to several minutes and can occur quite often throughout the day and may keep you up at night.

If your dog develops a hacking cough, a trip to the veterinarian may be warranted. Your veterinarian will then do an exam and rule out other problems that can cause the cough, such as an infected tooth, heartworms, distemper, canine influenza or perhaps a heart murmur. In most dogs with kennel cough, the cough can be triggered with gentle pressure on the trachea, the throat area just under the collar.

As with most viral infections, antibiotics are not be effective in treating this illness. Antibiotics are only used if there is a secondary infection because the coughing caused an irritation and resident bacteria may set up housekeeping. Your veterinarian will decide if the cough is indeed kennel cough and not something more serious. If it is kennel cough, it may take up to two weeks, just like the common cold, to make its way out of your dog’s system. Your veterinarian may prescribe a cough suppressant to help calm the cough.

You may have more than one dog in your family. If so, try to keep the one with kennel cough separated from the others. Of course, as contagious as this is, your other dogs will probably already have been infected before you realize it. Treat each of them, whether they’re displaying symptoms or not, and you’re sure to be rid of kennel cough soon.

The best way to prevent kennel cough is with vaccinations. We recommend the bordetella vaccine every year with the annual vaccinations and a quick booster vaccine prior to your dog boarding. Remember, that going to the groomers, a pet store or dog park can also expose your pet to viruses and diseases from other dogs.

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Lyme Disease

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Lyme disease is a bacterial disease spread by ticks. While it is most prevalent in the Northeastern U.S., it has been found in all but a few states as well as other parts of the world. The name has nothing to do with fruit, but comes from the place where the disease was first reported, Lyme, Connecticut. Lyme Disease affects people and dogs. It is rare in other domestic animals.
Lyme Disease
How Lyme Disease is Spread
Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to people and dogs by the bite of ticks, most commonly the black-legged deer tick. Wooded, brushy areas outdoors are likely locations for these ticks. The tick lives by attaching to a host and feeding on blood. While attached, it can spread Lyme disease through its saliva. Research has shown that in most cases, the disease is not transmitted until the tick has been attached for 48 to 72 hours. Lyme disease is not spread directly from one person to another or from a dog to a person. However, new research has shown that birds have been responsible for spreading ticks. View the video below to learn more!

The first symptom in people is usually a red, bulls-eye shaped rash, which appears a few days to a week after exposure. The rash may be accompanied or followed by fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. Without treatment, the disease can progress and cause swollen and painful joints, meningitis, and heart problems. Doctors can often diagnose Lyme disease based on a physical examination, but laboratory tests can be helpful.

Symptoms in Dogs
As in humans, a rash may appear around the tick bite soon after infection. Unfortunately, this is much less noticeable since it may be hidden by fur. Other symptoms are fever, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, and limping. Some infected dogs do not show any symptoms. The disease can cause inflammation of the kidneys, especially in Labrador Retrievers, and can damage the heart and nervous system in later stages. Some cases of Lyme disease in dogs can be detected on a physical exam, but tests of blood or joint fluid are often needed.

Both people and dogs are treated for Lyme disease with antibiotics like Doxycycline. Additional medications may be prescribed to help with pain and inflammation. Treatment may take a month or longer, and is most successful when started within a few weeks of infection. It is possible for the organism to remain in the body long-term, leading to periodic flare-ups.

Preventing Lyme Disease
Whenever possible, avoid areas likely to be infested with ticks. If you do enter tick-infested areas, wear a long-sleeved shirt and tuck your pant legs into your boots or socks. Light colored clothing can make it easier to spot ticks. Tick repellents are beneficial to protect people and pets just be sure to read the label carefully and follow all safety precautions. Your veterinarian can recommend some excellent tick control products that are safe for dogs. After leaving a tick-infested area, check yourself and your dog carefully for ticks.

Attached ticks can be removed using tweezers or inexpensive tick removal tools. To remove a tick, it should be grasped as close to the skin as possible and pulled straight out. Applying insecticide or a hot match to the tick is not a good practice because it may actually increase the amount of disease-carrying saliva released by the tick. After the tick has been removed, cleanse the area with antiseptic soap and wash your hands thoroughly. Let your doctor know if you have been bitten by a tick. Some physicians recommend antibiotic treatment of tick-exposed people even before any symptoms occur.

A vaccination against Lyme disease is available for dogs. It is recommended for dogs living in areas where the disease is prevalent. Check with your veterinarian to see if your dog should be vaccinated. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine currently available for people.

Prosthetics Help Pets Find Balance

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Prosthetics are commonly seen in people, but uncommon in pets. Now, veterinary surgeons, engineers and prosthetic specialists are teaming up to look at new ways of giving our pets the support they need!

Three legged dogs and cats are not an unusual sight in veterinary clinics.   Whether the loss of the limb is due to severe trauma, cancer or even a hereditary defect, many pets live out their lives on three legs. But, on-going research in the field of prosthetics may allow these pets to function like their four-legged friends and just might benefit humans as well!

Dogs and cats appear to move almost normally with three legs and amputation is often done in severely traumatic injuries or with certain cancers.  But, new insights into how our pets manage pain and disabilities may soon change pet owner perceptions.

Dr. Kim Danoff, a veterinarian certified in canine rehabilitation says that “a three legged gait can take a toll on other limbs and the spine due to abnormal posture.”  Young pets could experience even bigger problems.  “Living longer with 3 limbs makes these animals more prone to disc problems and possibly severe cases of arthritis”, Danoff adds.  Additionally, pets with concurrent problems, such as hip dysplasia and cancer, could do worse after amputation.

But, help appears to be on the way.  Martin Kaufmann of Orthopets ( is working with veterinary surgeons to utilize titanium implants in the pet’s leg bone as an attachment for prostheses.

Most prosthetic devices are known as “socket prosthetics”, that is, the stump of the limb is placed inside the prosthetic and everything is held up with straps and other attachments.  Owners often find these cumbersome and pets are likely to chew on the apparatus. For human amputees, small variations in their body weight can change the balance and fit of the device.

New technology, known as an integrated prosthetics, may open up more possibilities for how prosthetics are used in humans.  By using the implants, Kaufman says that these devices appear “to allow the patient a greater sensation of the ground.”

Kaufman also says that one day the use of integrated prosthetics will allow amputees to change their prosthetic foot as easy as someone can change their shoes.  These functional prosthetics will allow amputees, or pet owners, to change their device as weather or environment demand.

Many animals benefit from the work at Orthopets.   In his workshop in Colorado, Kaufman has developed orthotic braces and prosthetic devices for llamas, orangutans, and even sheep.

One of his famous cases involves Kandu, a small terrier mix born without front legs.  Occasionally, this rare birth defect shows up in dogs and many have been euthanized because of this handicap.  Although Kandu was very capable of moving himself with just his back legs, his owners worried about damage to his chest.  Kaufman used his expertise to design a rolling ball to ease Kandu’s movements, a padded vest to stop rug burn, and a ski to use during the snowy Colorado winters!

Although all of this is great news, there are still some obstacles to overcome.   A big concern with the new integrated prosthetics is how the skin of the pet will mesh with the titanium of the implant.  Additionally, providing the needed education to pet owners and veterinarians will likely take time.  Both integrated and socket prosthetics require that enough limb is left after amputation to control the device.  Finally, many pet owners may be concerned with how much a prosthetic might cost in relation to simply removing the leg.

Kaufmann says that his prosthetics will generally start at $600 for the device and can run as high as $1800.  The higher priced equipment is known as a “dynamic foot” and is similar to the devices worn by the Olympic hopeful, Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee who is known as the “Blade Man”.

These prices are for the prosthetics only and don’t include surgeries, implants, rehabilitation and therapy, or any follow up visits with the veterinarian.

The good news, though, is that options are available for pets whenever serious disease or trauma threatens one or more of their four legs.  If you are faced with an unfortunate circumstance where you and your veterinarian need to contemplate removing a pet’s leg, ask how the surgery will affect your pet and whether prosthetics is an option.

Debra Garrison, DVM

Feeding Your Dog

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As in human nutrition, the goal of good nutrition in animals is to maximize the length and quality of life. It is very important to feed our companions a healthy and well balanced diet that meets their specific needs. Lets begin by taking a look at the nutritional needs of dogs.

It is first important to remember that not all dogs are the same, just like no two people are the same. Because of this, their nutritional needs can be very different. One thing all dogs have in common, however, is their need for a complete and balanced diet. A complete and balanced diet means that your pet is receiving the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fiber and other key nutrients.

Lets examine pet foods a little closer. Complete and balanced diets, those without excesses and deficiencies, help to avoid health problems. Giving your dog the right food throughout its life helps to avoid diseases like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and of course obesity. Lets look at choosing the right food for every stage of your dogs life. There are many high quality premium dog foods available, such as Hills Science Diet, Iams, Eukanuba and many more. It is important to avoid generic diets that have too many fillers and too little nutritional value.

We will begin with puppies. A puppy requires a great deal of nutrition to get through it first year healthy and happy. In order to get the correct nutrients for growth, such as calcium and phosphorous, it is important to feed a diet specifically for puppies until they have stopped growing. This usually occurs by twelve months of age, but in large breeds this may not come until eighteen months. A diet tailored for growing large breeds should be fed to these puppies.

As a puppy becomes an adult dog, the nutritional and energy needs of the dog change. As a responsible pet owner, we will want to shift to a diet to meet the nutritional requirements of the adult dog. These high quality diets contain carefully balanced ingredients, such as vitamins and antioxidants that are vital for preventing disease. Feeding the right diet at the right life stage can have a significant impact on increasing the life span of our pets.

By age seven, we should be transitioning our nutritional focus to our pets golden years. As our pets slow down, so do their nutritional needs. Premium diets targeted to the needs of older dogs contain fewer calories, yet just the right balance of essential nutrients. Obesity at any age will likely shorten your pets life span; however, feeding the correct diet will help to prevent obesity. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your pet is overweight. You should be able to feel his or her ribs, but not see them. If you cant feel your pets ribs, your dog is probably overweight. Current estimates suggest that at least 35% of dogs are grossly obese. Genetic factors, as well as overfeeding, greatly influence weight gain. Remember to avoid giving your dog an excessive amount of treats and never feed table scraps! If you can easily see the ribs, your dog is probably too thin.

The amount of food needed changes rapidly during a puppy’s first year. Most puppies should be fed 3 times a day until they are 6-8 weeks of age. After this age, most dogs are fed one to two times daily. The quantity of food can be determined by reading the suggested feeding volumes listed on the food bag. Regularly scheduled meal times are optimal as opposed to free feeding throughout the day. Free feeding often leads to obesity.

Your pets nutritional needs are paramount to a long and healthy life. With the help of your veterinarian, you can develop a well balanced nutritional program that will help to ensure a happy and healthy dog!

Medicating your Dog

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Having to give your dog medication is not a task most pet owners look forward to performing. However, in order for your pet to get well it is important that they receive their medication. This handout includes some tips that will, hopefully, make medicine time a more enjoyable experience for both you and your pet.

The easiest way to medicate your pet is usually going to be to hide the pill in food or a pill pocket treat. Simply, place the pill in a small amount of your pets food or in a treat, such as cheese, meat, canned food or peanut butter. It is usually best to hide the pill in a small amount of food, rather in the animals entire dinner bowl, so that you can closely monitor if your pet actually consumed the medication. Some pets are quite adept at eating around their pill or spitting out their medication.

Some pets are not able to take a pill in a tasty treat due to dietary restrictions. Other pets are simply tricksters to maneuvering around the pill and spitting it out. For these pets it may be necessary to manually administer the pill. To give a pill by mouth for your dog, follow these easy steps:

  • Gather the correct dose of the medication and place it in a quick and easily accessible location.
  • Lubricate the medication with a small amount of butter or margarine. This will allow the pill to slide smoothly down your pets throat.
  • Bring your pet to a safe location where you can comfortably control his movements
  • Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger
  • From above, grasp the dogs muzzle with the hand not holding the pill. Your grasp should be placed so that your thumb and fingers are on opposite sides of the mouth behind the canine teeth. Be careful not to get your fingers fully in the mouth.
  • Using a firm, but gentle grip, tilt your pets head toward the ceiling. If the mouth does not drop open, use your ring and pinkie fingers of the hand holding the pill to press down on the lower teeth between the canines.
  • When the mouth is open, quickly place the pill on the back of the tongue. The pill will be swallowed quickest if it is placed behind the arch of the tongue.
  • Close your pets mouth and hold it closed while lowering the head back to a normal position.
  • If your pet does not automatically swallow the pill, then gently rub the underside of its throat, and lightly blow on or rub its nose. These actions will stimulate a swallow reflex in your pet.
  • Closely observe your pet after performing this procedure to make sure that the pill is not regurgitated or spit out.
  • Remember, throughout the entire procedure to offer praise and encouragement. And when the pill is swallowed, lavish your pet with praise and a tasty food reward.
  • Use Pill Yums, a pocketed treat which is designed to hide the pill without any mess. They come in 3 sizes and are available on


Pregnancy in your Dog

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Having a litter of puppies can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, it is important to know what to expect and how to keep close track of the progress of your pet. With proper, attentive care, you can be confident that your pet will produce a healthy litter.

The first step to a pregnant dog is a successful breeding experience. Before beginning any breeding program, be sure that your pet is healthy by having her examined by a veterinarian. If your pet is healthy and sexually mature, begin to watch for signs of estrus or heat. Common signs are a swelling of the vulva and a bloody vaginal discharge. During this time, the female will also begin to sniff and lick the area frequently. Between the 10th and 14th day, allow your pet to mate. If using a stud dog, most owners will mate the dogs twice during this time period.

A typical canine pregnancy lasts an average of 63 days. As your pet nears her due date, it is important to begin preparations for a successful birth. During the last third of your pets pregnancy, gradually increase her food supply. It may be beneficial to allow her to eat many small meals throughout the day as her stomach may be compressed by the pressure of the babies. It is also important to begin preparing the birthing box in order to help your pet become accustomed to her new area and to feel secure. The birthing box should be large enough for your pet to move around comfortably and have low sides or a hole in the side for her easy access. Line the box with plenty of clean newspapers that can be easily removed during the birthing process.

As your pet nears her time to deliver she may begin to show some unusual behaviors. Some animals try to hide during this time, while others want to be continuously near their owners. It is important that you watch for and respect your pets needs during this time. It is also important that your pet has been introduced to and is comfortable with her birthing area before hand, so that she will seek out this new safe haven. As your pet goes into labor, she will start to strain and begin delivering. Delivery times vary greatly based on breed, head size and litter size. Consult your veterinarian regarding your specific pet. If a successful delivery has not occurred within two hours after your pet begins straining, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Most puppies are born within ten minutes after they are visible in the birth canal and are encased in a placental sac. This sac is known as the afterbirth and will either be delivered with or after the puppy. It is normal for the mother to eat this sac shortly after delivering each pup. The hormones contained in each afterbirth trigger milk production in the mother. After birth, the mother may also lick and nudge the new puppy somewhat roughly. This behavior will clean the puppy and encourage it to begin breathing. If the mother does not remove the sac from the puppy, it may be necessary for you to quickly remove the sac and stimulate the puppy to breathe. Do this by making sure the puppy’s airways are clear by gently blowing in its face. Gently rub the puppy with a warm towel to clean it and encourage respiration. If the mother has not chewed the pups umbilical cord, you may also need to assist her by tying a clean string around the cord and cutting it approximately an inch from the puppy’s belly. Remember that if your female dog appears unable to deliver a puppy or is in distress, call your veterinarian immediately!

After delivery, watch your new mother and pups carefully. Monitor the temperature around the animals and if it is cool, add a heat lamp. For the first few days the ambient temperature should be kept between 85 and 90 degrees, until the puppies are able to maintain their own body temperature. Be sure to closely monitor the mother to make sure she is producing an adequate milk supply and monitor the puppies to ensure that they are receiving adequate nourishment

Neutering Your Dog

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Neutering, or orchiectomy, is a surgical sterilization procedure that can provide major health benefits for dogs. Here are some important facts you should know before getting your dog neutered.

The Neuter Surgery
Orchiectomy is a surgery that is performed under general anesthesia. Your dogs belly will be shaved and cleansed, and an incision will be made between his scrotum and the base of his penis. The veterinarian will remove both testicles and tie off the spermatic cords. The skin incision is closed with stitches or surgical adhesive. Following neuter surgery, your dog will no longer produce sperm and he will have lower testosterone levels.

Although neutering is very routine, it still carries the risks associated with general anesthesia and surgery. Your veterinarian takes numerous measures to keep your dog safe, such as checking his heart and lungs before administering anesthesia and monitoring him constantly while he is asleep. You can ask whether your veterinarian recommends any additional safety precautions, such as pre-anesthetic blood tests or administration of IV fluids during the procedure.

The normal behavior of an un-neutered dog is often incompatible with being a household pet. Intact dogs tend to wander from home, seeking a mate or defending their territory. This puts them at risk for being hit by a car or being injured in a dog fight. Urine marking and some types of aggression are more pronounced in un-neutered dogs as well. Although neutering may not entirely eliminate these behaviors, it can diminish them by 50-90%.

Intact male dogs suffer from a high incidence of inflammation and enlargement of the prostate, as well as testicular tumors. Older dogs commonly develop swollen and infected prostate glands. These conditions are painful and can interfere with urination and defecation. After neutering, the prostate shrinks considerably. Tumors of the testicles, common in older intact male dogs, are eliminated entirely.

The final benefit of neutering is that its the best way you can help end pet overpopulation. Every year, 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. animal shelters. None of us wants to contribute to that sad statistic, but we may do so unwittingly. Puppies adopted to apparently good homes may be given away or lost. Even purebred dogs end up homeless. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 25% of the dogs in U.S. animal shelters are purebred!

Considerations Before Surgery
Consult with your veterinarian about when to schedule your dogs neuter surgery. Traditionally, pets are neutered at around six months of age. However, some veterinarians advocate performing the procedure earlier. The night before your dogs surgery, remove his food and water before you go to bed. He should not eat or drink anything during the night or the morning of his surgery.

Considerations After Surgery
Your dog may go home the day of his surgery, or may stay in the hospital overnight. If he goes home the same day, expect him to feel a little groggy. Keep him indoors, in a warm, safe, quiet room away from other pets. During the first week after surgery, try to restrict his activity level. Leash walks are OK, but avoid excessive running, jumping, and roughhousing.

Check his incision daily. Stitches, if present, will need to be removed in about 10-14 days. If you notice your dog licking his incision frequently, ask for an Elizabethan collar. Many dogs develop a swollen or slightly bruised scrotal area following neuter surgery. Some swelling is normal, but dont be afraid to ask your veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog.

The effects of neutering on your dog will not be instantaneous. Testosterone levels wane over a period of weeks or months, followed by a reduction in fertility and territorial and mating behaviors.