Archive : October

Prostate Enlargement in Dogs

What Is Prostate Enlargement in Dogs?

The prostate of a male dog is a gland that envelops their urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body. The gland is situated near the start of the urethra after it exits the bladder. Like its function in human males, the prostate in male dogs develops most of the fluid component in semen.

A prostate may become enlarged due to infection, masses, or other causes. When this occurs, the dog may develop other problems due to the prostate’s proximity to important anatomical structures like the urethra, bladder, and rectum.

The enlarged prostate can compress the urethra, which can make urination difficult. If the prostate is large enough to put pressure on the rectum, the dog may strain to defecate. In unneutered dogs, prostate enlargement has repercussions for fertility.

Not all causes of prostate enlargement are linked to cancer. The most common cause of an enlarged prostate is benign, meaning it’s not cancerous.

Symptoms of Prostate Enlargement in Dogs

Straining to urinate or defecate

Frequent urination

Blood in urine

Increased drinking

Pain in the abdomen, which may cause the dog to vocalize when pressure is placed on the abdomen

Causes of Prostate Enlargement in Dogs

Several conditions cause prostate enlargement in dogs, including: benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatic infections (prostatitis), and prostate cancer.

Hyperplasia is the enlargement of an organ or tissue caused by increased replication of cells. With benign prostatic hyperplasia, male hormones cause increased production of cells, which results in prostate enlargement.

While BPH is considered a normal age-related change in intact male dogs, it can cause issues for the dog if the prostate becomes too large or if the prostate develops cysts. Prostatic cysts can lead to infection of the prostate.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia is the most common cause of prostate enlargement in male dogs who have not been neutered. Breeds with an increased risk of BPH include Scottish Terriers, German Shepherds, and Doberman Pinschers.

Prostate infection usually occurs due to bacteria that make their way to the prostate through the urethra. The risk of developing prostatitis is increased in older unneutered male dogs with BPH. Large-breed dogs are more predisposed to prostate infection than small-breed dogs.

Prostate cancer can develop in both neutered and unneutered dogs. Dogs are typically older at the time of diagnosis, with most diagnoses occurring between 8.5 and 11 years of age. Breeds predisposed to prostate cancer include:

Bouvier des Flandres

Doberman Pinschers

Shetland Sheepdogs

Scottish Terriers


Miniature Poodles

German Shorthaired Pointers

Airedale Terriers

Norwegian Elkhounds

How Veterinarians Diagnose Prostrate Enlargement in Dogs

Based on the clinical signs your dog has been exhibiting, your veterinarian will begin with a physical exam. This will include palpating (examining by touch) the abdomen and performing a rectal exam to feel the prostate.

Your veterinarian will run bloodwork to look at your pet’s overall health. Examining the pet’s urine and culturing it for bacteria may also help determine if your pet has a prostate infection.

X-rays and ultrasound of the abdomen allow the veterinarian to further examine the size and shape of the prostate, as well as to see if there are cysts present.

In some cases, particularly if there is concern of prostate infection and the dog isn’t neutered, the veterinarian may want to perform an evaluation of the pet’s semen to look for evidence of infection or to culture for bacteria.

For a definitive diagnosis, the veterinarian may collect a sample of cells from the prostate. Some veterinarians prefer to do this with a needle and ultrasound guidance, while others prefer a biopsy obtained surgically.

If cancer is suspected, a computed tomography (CT) scan may be recommended to monitor spread of the cancer and plan treatment.

Treatment of Prostate Enlargement in Dogs

Treatment depends on the underlying cause of prostate enlargement.

For dogs with BPH, having your dog neutered is the first-choice treatment. The prostate inflammation will reduce by more than 50% within three weeks and more than 70% in nine weeks. For breeding dogs or dogs for whom anesthesia is a significant risk, treatment with oral medicines like finasteride can be given long-term to manage the condition.

For dogs with a prostate infection, the use of antibiotics should be based on urine culture results. In some dogs with an enlarged prostate, especially those who developed an infection secondary to BPH, neutering may be recommended. Antibiotics for a prostate infection are given for at least four to six weeks. Common choices include enrofloxacin, trimethoprim-sulfonamide (TMS), clindamycin, and erythromycin.

Prostate cancer has at least an 80% chance of spreading (metastasizing) to other parts of the body. Because of this, most pet parents prioritize quality of life over aggressive treatment. Animals who have evidence of metastases or advanced disease at the time of diagnosis are not good candidates for curative treatments.

Treatment options for prostate cancer in dogs include:

Oral medications like piroxicam that reduce inflammation and slow tumor growth


Radiation therapy

Surgery to remove part of or the entire prostate

Some treatments simply focus on relieving obstructions. Specialty hospitals may be able to place a stent in the urethra to help the dog urinate. Stool softeners like lactulose or polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®) are often prescribed to help with constipation.

Recovery and Management of Prostate Enlargement in Dogs

Recovery and management also depend on the underlying cause and severity of the disease.

For dogs with symptoms of prostate enlargement due to BPH, neutering is curative. Your dog should recover within a few weeks.

Dogs with a prostate infection that came on suddenly usually have successful antibiotic treatment without neutering, while dogs with chronic infection of their prostate usually need to be neutered to completely resolve their signs.

Treatment for a prostate infection lasts one to two months. Dogs that have a fever and other symptoms may need to be hospitalized short-term for supportive care. Supportive care would include intravenous (IV) fluids, nutritional management, pain medications, and possibly a urinary catheter to ensure urine can drain. Your pet may receive their antibiotics and other medications through an IV catheter.

Dogs with advanced prostate cancer that do not receive treatment are typically humanely euthanized within a month, due to the severity of the disease. Dogs treated with oral medications, radiation, and/or chemotherapy have a prognosis closer to seven months.

Surgery is not typically pursued for dogs with prostate cancer. Management is focused on comfort, pain relief, and ensuring that they can urinate and defecate.

Prostate Enlargement in Dogs FAQs

Is prostate enlargement considered a medical emergency in dogs?

In most cases, prostate enlargement isn’t a medical emergency. However, if your dog is vomiting, unable to urinate, and/or sluggish, seek emergency attention for your pet. Failure to urinate can result in kidney disease, which can be fatal.

How much does it cost to remove a dog’s prostate?

Removal of a dog’s prostate is not routinely done due to the aggressive nature of prostate cancer and the high risk of complications (especially urinary incontinence) from the procedure. When performed, removal of the prostate is typically done by a specialist and can cost over $2,000. Keep in mind that because most prostate tumors spread, chemotherapy is usually recommended in addition to surgery, potentially adding anywhere from $3,000–$10,000 to the costs, depending on the protocol used and how well your pet responds.

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Rhiannon Koehler, DVM


Dr. Rhiannon Koehler is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public…

Why Is My Dog Itching So Much?

Itchy skin on a dog, also called pruritus, is a symptom of many different conditions. If your dog is itchy, they may scratch, bite, or lick an area repeatedly, or it may seem like their whole body is itchy.

Not only is this nonstop itching uncomfortable for your dog, but it can cause infections if your dog keeps scratching and licking. Here’s what you need to know.

What to Check for if Your Dog Is Itching Constantly

If your dog has hives, a swollen face, lips, or eye, or is panting excessively, see your vet immediately. These could be signs of a severe allergic reaction.

Other than scratching, you may see these signs of itchy skin in dogs:




Hair loss

Oozing, inflamed skin


If your dog’s skin is oozing or inflamed, or if you smell a strong stench, you also need to see the vet, because these are signs of infection.

Causes of Dog Itching

There are several possible reasons why your dog is excessively itching. Common reasons may include:

Bacterial or fungal infections: Bacterial or fungal infections are a common cause of pruritus, with other symptoms including oozing, inflamed skin, a strong stench, and hair loss.

Atopic dermatitis: Also called allergic dermatitis, this is often caused by an allergen from the environment, such as from pollen, dander, and plants, so it can be seasonal.

Flea allergy dermatitis: This is a type of allergic dermatitis that occurs when fleas inject saliva into a dog’s body. The proteins within the saliva trigger the immune system, causing itching that typically lasts several days. Even one flea bite can cause a reaction.

Food allergies: Food allergies are often seen in dogs with year-round itching, and allergic reactions can be tested through a diet trial.

Diagnosing Itchy Skin in Dogs

Your vet will likely recommend a range of testing options, including skin scrapings and blood tests, to determine the underlying cause for itching in your dog.

Skin cytology (scrapings): This test involves analyzing a tissue sample under a microscope. The vet will look for mites or infections from bacteria or fungus, such as ringworm.

Intradermal testing: In this test, a veterinarian pricks the skin with a small amount of allergen. If the area swells after a half-hour, it means your pet is allergic to that substance.

Radioallergosorbent test (RAST): A blood test used to identify environmental allergens such as pollen.

Food trial: If food is a suspected allergen, then a vet may suggest a prescription diet (or food cooked at home) without any additional treats. If itchiness subsides, then food may be the culprit.

Treatment of Dog Itching

If you leave itchy skin in dogs untreated, it may lead to new problems, such as hot spots, which are areas of inflamed skin caused by excessive licking and biting. Your pet will also be uncomfortable, and the only way to stop the itching is to see a vet to find and treat the cause.

Over-the-counter treatments should only be given under the guidance of a veterinarian. Depending on the underlying condition, your vet may recommend one of the following options to help get the itching under control:

Antibiotics: In the case of bacterial and fungal infections, antibiotics may be prescribed, often taking 21 to 30 days to fully clear skin infections.

Insect control: Removing or limiting a dog’s exposure to insects can help in cases of allergic reactions to insect bites.

Prescribed diet: If food allergies are suspected, your veterinarian may recommend a special diet. This may mean trial and error to find the right food.

Steroid medications: Medications such as glucocorticoids are highly effective but can have side effects such as increased hunger and thirst; these medications are usually prescribed for short periods.

Anti-itch medication: Cyclosporine, oclacitinib, and essential fatty acids are common medications prescribed to dogs for symptom management.

Antihistamines: While using antihistamines for treating itchiness is common, studies have not established it as a reliably effective treatment for dogs.

Dog shampoos: Your vet may recommend over-the-counter dog shampoos to help with itching in the short-term.

Dog Itching FAQs

Can stress cause itching in dogs?

Yes, stress can cause short-term itching in dogs. Taking your dog for a walk or playing with them may help relieve symptoms.

How can I relieve my dog’s itching?

In addition to following your veterinarian’s recommendation for treatment, bathing your dog can help, particularly if your dog has atopic dermatitis.

Why is my dog so itchy but has no fleas?

Itchiness can be caused by infection or allergies in the air, such as pollen, dander, or plants. You may not be able to see the fleas, or a single flea bite could have caused the reaction. Taking your dog to the veterinarian will help rule out causes and provide the necessary care.


Moriello, K. Itching (pruritus) in dogs. Merck Veterinary Manual. April 2022. 

Pruritus diagnostics in dogs and cats. Veterinary Information Network. February 2020.

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Collection of Fluid in the Lungs (Not Due to Heart Disease) in Dogs

Noncardiogenic Pulmonary Edema in Dogs 

Noncardiogenic edema is caused by an increased permeability (or the ability to pass through, as by osmosis) of the blood vessels of the lungs. This increased permeability results in the leakage of fluid into the lung, causing edema, or swelling. If this becomes severe, the edema may be accompanied by an inflammatory response and an accumulation of inflammatory cells in the lung.

There are several factors which can cause changes in the permeability of the lung’s blood vessels. Dogs that have edema as a result of a brain disorder, from a response to an electric cord bite injury, or from an upper airway obstruction might experience a systemic release of catecholamines (neurotransmitters and hormones). This release would lead to a causative effect, with systemic constriction of blood vessels shunting blood into the lungs and overloading the blood vessels of the lung, damaging them, and leading to inflammation and swelling of the lungs.

Manifestation of a generalized inflammatory response in the lungs develops in patients with a bacterial infection of the blood, or with pancreatitis, and will often worsen over the 24 hours following the initial episode. The most seriously affected patients may progress from apparently normal health to a fatal condition only hours after the incident.

Symptoms and Types

Difficulty breathingIncreased breathing rateStanding in unusual positions to breathe betterPale or bluish gumsSpitting up pink, frothy saliva, or bubbles of salivaIncreased rate of heart beat


Upper airway obstructionParalysis of the larynxChoke-chain injuryMass in the lungAbscess of the lungAcute neurologic disease (brain disorders)Head traumaProlonged seizuresSystemic inflammatory response syndromeBacterial infection in the bloodInflammation of the pancreasElectric cord bite injurySmoke inhalationAspiration pneumonia (sucking fluid back into the lungs)


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. The history you provide may give your veterinarian clues as to which organs are causing secondary symptoms.

He or she will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel. Arterial blood gas measurement, and pulse oximetry will also be performed, along with coagulation testing (whether the blood is clotting normally). Radiograph images of the thoracic (chest) cavity are essential for making a definitive diagnosis, and an echocardiogram may also be performed to rule out, or confirm, pulmonary (lung) edema caused by heart disease.


Your dog will be hospitalized if it is experiencing severe respiratory dysfunction. Dogs with moderate to severe disease are given oxygen therapy and cage rest in a quiet environment to minimize stress, since anything that can bring on anxiety may cause the production of stress hormones. Some dogs may be put on a mechanical respirator if they are having too much of a problem breathing on their own.

Living and Management

Often, dogs with noncardiogenic edema will worsen before improving. Severely ill patients have a poor prognosis. However, mild to moderately ill patients stand a good chance of full recovery, and the long-term prognosis is excellent for recovered patients. One of the ways you can prevent noncardiogenic pulmonary edema in your dog is by taking steps to prevent it ffrom chewing on electrical wires. Another way to prevent noncardiogenic pulmonary edema is to get immediate veterinary treatment for your dog at the first sign of seizures or other indications.

See Also

Fear Aggression in Dogs

When a dog is labeled as “aggressive,” people typically think this means the dog is a bad animal. But that’s far from the case. He’s not a bad dog—he’s a dog that has not been heard, a dog that needs space, or a dog that experienced some trauma that’s changed how he responds to real or perceived threats.

There are many underlying reasons why a dog can escalate to aggressive behavior such as growling, barking, lunging, baring teeth, snapping, or biting—one of which is fear. Fear is a negative emotional response to a trigger. A trigger can be a person, another dog, an object, or a situation that ignites an emotional response, and it can be either a true or perceived threat.

What Is Fear Aggression in Dogs?

Fear aggression happens when a dog wants to increase distance between himself and a trigger (commonly another animal or a human). He’s saying that he doesn’t want to engage and that the other party should keep their distance.

Essentially, fearful dogs want to create distance. When their message is ignored and distance is not created, they feel trapped and might escalate their behavior. Aggressive dogs with fear as the underlying motivation may exhibit defensive or offensive behavior, depending on previous negative experiences, level of socialization, and genetic predisposition.

Signs of Fear Aggression in Dogs

Dog body language associated with fear includes:  

Ears turned to the side or pinned to the back of the head

Lip licking



Body tremors

Direct eye contact or whale eyes (you can see the whites)

Bristling hairs (piloerection)

Avoidance behavior

Vocalizations such as whining, barking, or growling

When his initial signs of fear are ignored, the dog may exhibit more intense and difficult-to-ignore behaviors, such as jumping up, lunging, or biting. After repeated exposure to threats or situations where the pet feels overwhelmed and fearful, his behavior can easily escalate to aggression without much warning.

When a dog is defensive, he typically won’t become aggressive unless directly approached or touched. But when a dog has prior negative experiences where he couldn’t escape the threat, he may exhibit offensive fear aggression, moving toward the trigger and exhibiting threatening and aggressive behavior.

Causes of Fear Aggression in Dogs

There are many reasons why dogs develop fear aggression. The dog may have received inadequate socialization as a puppy, may have been exposed to early traumatic experiences, may have experienced punishment (such as having his leash tugged while wearing a choke or prong collar), or may have a genetic predisposition that makes him more likely to respond fearfully in certain situations.

Common stimuli that can trigger a fear-based aggressive reaction in dogs include:

Strangers reaching toward their head

Another dog or a person making direct eye contact

Having their nails trimmed

Having their ears plucked

Having their ears cleaned

Being bathed

Being shaved

Being approached or petted when they are lying down

Being hugged

Getting a needle injection

Being restrained by a stranger

Having their fur grabbed

Being touched in a sensitive area, such as their tail, paws, or belly

Remember: Fear can be caused by a real or perceived threat. And fear is subjective: One dog may not be fearful of certain items or situations, while another dog may have a different response when exposed to the same thing.

When a dog has experienced a traumatic or negative event, such as being hit with a rolled-up newspaper, he can easily escalate to being aggressive when confronted again with violent behavior. In the future, the dog may also escalate to aggressive behavior at the sight of the newspaper—or any object his human holds.

How To Deal With Fear Aggression in Dogs

1. Redirect the Dog

The best thing a pet parent can do when their dog has escalated aggressive behavior is to remove the dog from that situation or remove the trigger that the dog found threatening.

If you’re the reason the dog is directing the aggressive behavior, step out of sight.

If the dog is reacting to a different trigger, distract and redirect your dog’s focus and ask him to perform alternative behaviors.

Performing other behaviors can help calm the dog, especially if he associates those behavioral cues with a happy emotional response. Asking your dog to perform “look,” “touch,” “find it,” or any other cues the dog enjoys—and then offering him treats and praise for those behaviors—can help him recover after being exposed to a threatening trigger.

For example, if you have a dog that barks at other dogs, as soon as you see another dog approaching, immediately ask your dog to touch your hand for a food reward. Then follow up with a “find it” cue to search for treats until the other dog has gone out of sight.

2. Never Use Punishment

You cannot correct fear or aggression with punitive measures, such as scolding or applying physical correction through a choke, pinch, or shock collar. The use of punitive techniques can inhibit the dog’s behavior in your presence and even teach him to not exhibit warning signals—where the dog then bites without warning in the future.

Using punitive techniques can increase fear and anxiety. Punitive techniques and tools have also been associated with an increased risk of aggressive behavior directed toward you and other family members.

The kinder, gentler way to work with your dog is with positive-reinforcement training methods. Dogs trained using positive reinforcement have been found to be more optimistic and resilient. The use of positive-reinforcement training can help build the dog’s confidence and strengthen the human-animal bond.

3. Try Pheromones

Supplements such as pheromone sprays can decrease anxiety to some extent in certain dogs, but these will not resolve aggressive behavior. Behavioral medications can also reduce anxiety. But when the dog continues to encounter the trigger or continues to feel threatened or feel like he cannot escape, aggressive behavior may still occur.

To be effective, behavioral medication must be used in conjunction with a behavior modification program. Discuss with your veterinarian the best treatment plan for your dog. 

4. Seek Help From a Professional

Pet parents should seek professional assistance, such as from a veterinary behaviorist, certified applied animal behaviorist, or certified trainer, as soon as their dog exhibits signs of fearful and/or aggressive behavior.

These professionals will recommend how to manage the dog around his trigger. They’ll also recommend training and behavior modification exercises to help reduce the dog’s fear and increase his confidence and tolerance. The veterinary behaviorist can determine a diagnosis, give a prognosis, and discuss if behavioral medications are an option for your pet.

How To Prevent Fear Aggression in Dogs

To prevent fearful and/or aggressive behavior from forming in the first place, pet parents should:

Socialize your puppy by taking him to socialization classes when he’s eight to 16 weeks old.

Closely supervise your dog’s interactions with people, children, and other dogs and animals, ensuring your pet doesn’t appear fearful or overwhelmed.

Carry high-value treats to help your dog form positive associations with stimuli he initially appears uncomfortable with.

Never use punitive techniques and avoid teasing or threatening behaviors that trigger an aggressive reaction (like pulling on a dog’s tail).

Be gentle, kind, patient, and consistent with your dog and reinforce the appropriate behaviors you want to see your pup exhibit by offering verbal praise and rewards.


Herron, Meghan E., Frances S. Shofer, and Ilana R. Reisner. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. “Survey of the Use and Outcome of Confrontational and Non-Confrontational Training Methods in Client-Owned Dogs Showing Undesired Behaviors.”

Todd, Zazie. Journal of Veterinary Behavior. “Barriers to the Adoption of Humane Dog Training Methods.”

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Wailani Sung, MS, PhD, DVM, DACVB


Dr. Wailani Sung has a passion for helping owners prevent or effectively manage behavior problems in companion animals, enabling them to…

Protein Deposits in the Body in Dogs

Amyloidosis in Dogs

Amyloidosis is a condition in which a waxy translucent substance – consisting primarily of protein – deposits in a dog’s organs and tissues, compromising normal functions. This substance is referred to as amyloid. Prolonged excess of this condition may lead to organ failure. The kidney and liver are the most commonly affected, but amyloid deposition can also take place in other organs as well and can have multiple causes. There is some disagreement as to whether amyloid causes the diseased condition or whether it is deposited in the organs as the result of a preexisting diseased condition.

In dogs clinical symptoms are usually related to amyloid deposition in the kidneys. No genetic involvement has been established but familial amyloidosis is known to occur in Chinese shar-peis, beagles, and English foxhound. The breeds predisposed to this disease are: Chinese shar-pei, beagles, collies, English foxhounds, pointers, and walker hounds. Dogs over the age of five and female dogs are at a slightly higher risk compared to males.

Symptoms and Types

As amyloid can deposit in various organs, the symptoms may vary in relation to the organ in which the amyloid has been deposited. Symptoms will also vary by the amount of amyloid deposited, and the reaction of the organ to the amyloid deposition. In dogs, the most common organ in which amyloid deposition is seen is the kidney. However, in Chinese shar-peis, the liver may also be involved. Following are some of the symptoms seen in dogs affected with amyloidosis:

Poor appetiteWeaknessLethargyIncreased thirst and urinationWeight lossVomitingDiarrhea (uncommon)Ascites (fluid accumulation in abdomen)Edema at various body sites, especially in limbsFeverJoint swellingDehydrationJaundice (in case of liver involvement )


Chronic infectionsChronic inflammationParasitic infectionsImmune-mediated diseasesSystemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)Neoplasia (tumor)Familial (e.g., in Chinese shar-pei, beagle, and Engligh foxhound)


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including a background history and onset of symptoms. Your veterinarian will conduct a detailed physical examination, including a blood profile, chemical blood profile, complete blood count, and a urinalysis. These tests may provide information about organ function and give important information about complications that are occurring due to this disease. Urine tests are important if kidneys are being affected by amyloid deposition. Your veterinarian will also take X-ray images and use ultrasound to determine the structural features of the kidneys and where any abnormalities lay. In most cases a diagnosis is confirmed by examining tissue that has been collected during a kidney biopsy.


If your dog has a chronic kidney problem and is experiencing kidney failure, your veterinarian will advise admission to the hospital to resolve the dehydration and stabilize the dog. If an underlying cause is found to be responsible, it will be treated accordingly. Patients in kidney failure required extensive medical treatment and management for a long period of time. Your veterinarian will devise a therapy plan for your dog and will prescribe medications according to the severity of the disease and the presence of other diseases or complications.

Living and Management

This disease is progressive in nature and may require a long period of treatment. Most animals will return to normal activity but may need to be kept on a specific food diet that has been recommended by your veterinarian, especially if the kidneys are involved. Do not give any medications to your dog without first consulting your veterinarian, as most drugs need normal kidney functions in order to be excreted from the body. Because this condition is suspected of having a familial association, do not breed the affected animals because it can pass the trait on to future generations.

Tetralogy of Fallot in Dogs

Tetralogy of Fallot is a congenital defect of the heart that involves four abnormalities: ventricular septal defect (a hole between the two ventricles), pulmonic stenosis (obstruction of blood flow through the pulmonary valve), an overriding aorta, and right ventricular hypertrophy (thickening of the heart muscle).

Symptoms and Types

Weakness Fainting Shortness of breath Cyanosis


Tetralogy of Fallot is a congenital disease that likely is influenced by genetic factors. Keeshonds and English bulldogs are predisposed.


Your veterinarian will start with a physical examination on your dog, which may reveal a heart murmur. Routine blood testing may be recommended. Your veterinarian will likely want to take radiographs (X-rays) of the heart and an ultrasonic study of the heart (known as an echocardiogram) will probably be necessary as well. Other testing that may be pursued include an electrocardiogram (ECG), pulse oximetry (measurement of hemoglobin saturation), and/or angiocardiography.


Exercise restriction is important when dealing with dogs with Tetralogy of Fallot in order to reduce the strain on the heart. Periodic phlebotomy may be necessary to maintain an appropriate packed cell volume. Palliative surgical procedures have been advocated to improve blood flow. Medications such as propanolol may be beneficial in controlling symptoms associated with this defect.

Increased Heart Rate Due to Premature Contractions in Dogs

Ventricular Tachycardia in Dogs

Ventricular tachycardia (VT) is a potentially life-threatening disease of the heart that causes arrhythmia, an abnormally fast heartbeat. Ventricular tachycardia can degenerate into ventricular fibrillation, a condition in which the ventricles (the bottom two heart chambers) become disorganized, contracting chaotically. This state can result in asystole – a sudden lack of electrical activity in the heart – and sudden death. VT  may be due to an underlying heart disease, a metabolic disease, or an electrolyte imbalance.

The heart is divided into four chambers: the two top chambers are called the atria (singular: atrium) and the bottom chambers are called the ventricles. The heart has an electrical conduction system that is responsible for controlling the heart rate. This electrical conduction system generates electrical impulses (waves), which propagate throughout the musculature of the heart, stimulating the heart’s muscles to contract and push blood through the interior arteries and out into the body. Ventricular tachycardia is related to abnormal behavior in the ventricles.

Ventricular tachycardia  may occur in structurally normal hearts, as hereditary arrhythmias, or may be a consequence of myocardial abnormalities associated with cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), significant valvular disease, or myocarditis (heart muscle inflammation). To date, there is no medical therapy available that is known to prevent sudden death in dogs afflicted with ventricular tachyarrhythmias.

Symptoms and Types

Fainting (syncope) Weakness Exercise intolerance Sudden death May be without symptoms Increased heart rate Signs of congestive heart failure (CHF)


Cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) Congenital defects (especially subaortic stenosis – narrowing of the aortic passage) Chronic valve disease Gastric dilation and volvulus (stomach turns and flips on itself) Traumatic inflammation of the heart Digitalis toxicity (heart medication) Cancer of the heart Myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle Pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas


If your dog is unstable, your doctor will apply treatment based on the symptoms before diagnosing the cause of the ventricular tachycardia.  (See the treatment section below.)  If your dog is stable, your veterinarian will begin with a complete physical exam of your dog. You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel. The electrolyte panel will show if there is hypokalemia and hypomagnesemia. The bloodwork may show evidence of pancreatitis and hyperthyroidism.

An electrocardiogram (ECG, or EKG) recording can be used to examine the electrical currents in the heart muscles, and may reveal any abnormalities in cardiac electrical conduction (which underlies the heart’s ability to contract/beat), and an echocardiogram (ultrasound imaging for the heart) will be performed to check for structural heart disease. A long-term ambulatory (portable) electrocardiograph recording of the heart’s electrical activity, using a Holter monitor, can be used for detecting temporary ventricular arrhythmias in patients with unexplained syncope or weakness. The Holter can be especially useful for animals, since it can be worn as a vest, allowing your dog freedom of normal movement, which, when taken into account with a diary kept (by the pet caretaker) while the monitor is being worn, can give your veterinarian a reference frame for when the heartbeat irregularities are most likely to occur.


If your dog is stable, electrolyte abnormalities will be corrected using fluid administration. Echocardiogram and use a 24-Holter to establish a true baseline of the arrhythmia quantity and quality.

If your dog is unstable (inactive and lying down, weak, or frequent fainting), immediate intravenous treatment in a hospital setting with continuous ECG monitoring may be required. Once the arrhythmia is controlled and your dog’s blood pressure has stabilized, oral medication should be started. The medication will be based on your dog’s overall health, and how well your dog is able to tolerate the episodes of VT and how frequently they occur. Medications may be given to suppress future episodes, and your dog’s activity level will probably need to be minimized. A follow-up 24-hour Holter will be required to test the efficacy of the anti-arrhythmic medication.

Living and Management

Unfortunately, dogs with ventricular tachycardia will sometimes die suddenly. Exciting situations (i.e., those that cause the heart to speed up) will need to be avoided in order to avoid provoking a ventricular tachycardia episode. This appears to be especially true in regards to the Boxer breed. Your veterinarian will schedule subsequent follow-up appointments with you for your dog as necessary.

Which Fruits Can Dogs Eat?

Dogs are omnivorous, which means that they can digest both animal and plant materials.

They can eat some fruits, but other fruits are toxic to dogs, such as grapes and raisins. Due to the balanced nature of high-quality, nutritionally complete commercial diets, it’s not necessary to supplement your dog’s diet with fruits, but it can be fun to use them as treats.

Check out this list to see which fruits are safe, and be sure to ask your veterinarian before supplementing your pet’s diet. Dogs dealing with obesity, diabetes, bladder stones, and other conditions should not be fed fruit without consulting your veterinarian first.

Here are some dog-friendly fruits and what to watch for, plus some fruits you should never feed your dog.


Most dogs love apples! They are safe and healthy for dogs to eat and contain many nutritional benefits like vitamins A and C, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. Apples are also low in calories, and the crunchiness of an apple can help promote dental health.

Be sure to always remove the stem, leaves, core, and seeds, and to cut the apple into small pieces to avoid potential choking or intestinal blockages.

Apple seeds contain cyanide, which is poisonous to dogs, but it would take a huge number of seeds to cause cyanide poisoning—about 100 apples’ worth for a small dog, 200 for a medium-sized dog, and 300 for a large dog. If your dog eats a small amount of apple seeds, it shouldn’t be an issue.


Although dogs can eat bananas, they should not be given banana peels, as these are difficult to digest and could cause intestinal blockage.

Bananas are high in fiber, potassium, and vitamins B6 and C. However, they are also higher in sugar than many other fruits, so they should be given sparingly. They should be cut into small, bite-size pieces.

Blackberries and Raspberries

Yes, dogs can eat raspberries and blackberries in moderation.

Berries are packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals, which are chemical compounds in plants that have been found to help fight cancer in humans. They are also low in sugar and calories.

Blackberries and raspberries, however, also contain small amounts of naturally occurring xylitol. This is a sweetener that is used in a lot of low-sugar foods. It’s very toxic to dogs in large amounts, but your dog would have to eat a lot of berries to cause hypoglycemia, and a huge amount for it to be lethal. A small handful a day should be the limit.


Blueberries are low in calories and high in vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Blueberries have been shown to improve night vision, help prevent cell damage, and help with mental function in aging animals.


Cantaloupe is healthy and nutritious for dogs to eat. It’s high in fiber and low in calories. It also contains numerous vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C, folate, fiber, and potassium. Cantaloupe is also 90% water, so it’s great for hydration.

Just watch out for the high sugar content—especially if your dog struggles with diabetes or obesity. And always remove the rind and seeds before feeding cantaloupe to your dog.


Cranberries are a great snack for dogs. They are not only safe, but they are considered a superfood for both humans and dogs. Cranberries are high in fiber and antioxidants, and they contain vitamins C, E, K, B1, and B2, plus manganese and copper.

If you’re wondering whether cranberries can help prevent urinary tract infections, we don’t have the research yet to back up this claim. In reality, your dog probably won’t consume enough cranberries to see this benefit even if it is proven to be true.

Dried cranberries are a safe treat for pups, too. Just be aware that the amount of sugar per ounce is more concentrated when a fruit is dehydrated. Store-bought dried cranberries often have added sugars, preservatives, or even xylitol—which is toxic to dogs. So it’s best to dry them with a dehydrator at home.


Honeydew is safe and healthy for dogs to eat. It contains vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, and it’s low in calories. And much like cantaloupe and watermelon, honeydew contains a high percentage of water—making it great for hydration.

Always remove the rind and seeds before feeding honeydew to your dog to avoid any potential choking hazards or intestinal blockages.


Mangoes are also high in sugar and should only be fed to dogs in moderation. However, they are high in many nutritional benefits like fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E. Be sure to remove the mango seed, and cut it into small pieces when feeding it to your dog.


Oranges are a safe and healthy treat for dogs to eat. They are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. And while most dogs love the sweet taste, some dogs don’t like the acidity of citrus fruits.

Oranges are not a good choice for dogs who struggle with obesity or diabetes because of the high sugar content. And eating too many oranges can give any dog an upset stomach from the high acidity and sugar levels. So be sure to feed them as a treat in small portions.


Yes, peaches are a great snack for dogs—in moderation. They are filled with great health benefits like high fiber, low calories, and low fat. Plus, peaches contain antioxidants and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

However, peaches also have high sugar content, and you need to remove the stem, leaves, and pit before feeding peach pieces to your dog. The peach pit—or stone—can be a dangerous choking hazard, or even cause an intestinal blockage.


Dogs can safely eat pears. They contain health benefits like fiber, copper, vitamin C, and vitamin K. But before you feed any pears to your pup, remove the stem, leaves, pit, and seeds. Any of these could become choking hazards, and the seeds in pears contain traces of cyanide—just like apple seeds.

It’s best to stick with fresh pears and avoid canned pears because they contain so much more sugar.


Pineapples are good for hydration, antioxidants, and numerous vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, manganese, copper, and vitamin B6. This fruit is great for supporting your dog’s immune and digestive systems. Some dogs may not like pineapples because of the strong acidity.

Keep in mind that the high sugar content and acidity in large amounts can upset your dog’s stomach. Plus, large amounts of sugar over time can lead to health issues like obesity or diabetes in dogs. 


Strawberries are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. Strawberries can also help strengthen the immune system. They should be cut into small pieces to avoid choking, and they can be mashed or pureed for smaller dogs.


Yes, dogs can eat watermelon, but the watermelon rinds and seeds (even the pale seeds in seedless watermelons) should be removed before giving the fruit to your dog, as they can cause choking or intestinal blockage.

Watermelon is 92% water, so it’s a great treat for hot days. It can help keep your dog hydrated and is refreshing when frozen. Watermelon is also a good source of vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as potassium.

Fruits That You Should Be Careful About Feeding to Dogs

These fruits fall into a gray area, and it might be best to avoid giving them to your dog.

Avocado: Although the actual pulp is not toxic to dogs, the pit can cause intestinal blockage, and the high fat content can cause some dogs to have pancreatitis or stomach upset, even from just a small amount.

Tomatoes: The ripe fruit is not toxic to dogs, but eating too much can cause stomach upset. Eating parts of a tomato plant itself can also cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset.

Fruits That Are Toxic to Dogs

These fruits are toxic to dogs and should never be offered to them as a snack.

Grapes/raisins: Never feed grapes or raisins to your dog, just to be on the safe side. They may be toxic to some dogs, even in small amounts. But there is no way of knowing how your dog will react. If your dog has eaten any grapes or raisins, contact your veterinarian immediately and take them to the vet’s office or an emergency vet. Time is of the essence when it comes to treatment for grape toxicity.

Wild berries: Never feed your dog wild berries, as they can be easily misidentified, and many are toxic to dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Fruit Snacks?

No, dogs should not eat fruit snacks. While fruit snacks are not considered toxic to dogs, they are very high in sugar, so they should be avoided.

How to Add Fruit to Your Dog’s Diet

Here are some tips for adding a little dog-safe fruit to your dog’s diet.

How Much Fruit Can a Dog Have?

Treats should take up no more than 10% of your dog’s diet. This also applies to fruit. If you are giving your dog fruit in addition to other dog treats, make sure that you adjust the amount of treats given so that you do not exceed this 10% recommendation.

Even if a fruit isn’t toxic to dogs, too much of anything can give them an upset stomach. Keep an eye out for the typical symptoms of an upset stomach:



Decreased appetite or loss of appetite


Acting depressed

Looking uncomfortable

Gulping or licking their lips, the air, or objects

How to Safely Prepare Fruit for Your Dog

Fruit should be washed thoroughly before being fed to your dog. Remove any leaves, stems, seeds, pits, or rinds. Cut the fruit into small pieces and give them a small amount. Canned fruit in syrup should never be given due to the high sugar content.

Pieces of fruit can be given as individual treats or mashed up and added to your dog’s meals. Fruit can cause a choking hazard for small dogs, so always monitor your dog while they are eating.

Watch for Gas, Vomiting, or Diarrhea

Some dogs are more sensitive than others and may have flatulence (gas), vomiting, and/or diarrhea if given fruit. Even dogs with strong stomachs can end up with GI upset like vomiting and diarrhea if given too much fruit, due to its high fiber content.

If you want to safely give your dog fruit as a snack, start slowly and watch for any signs of GI upset before making it a regular treat.

If you do notice any of the signs of GI upset, stop feeding your dog any fruit and call your veterinarian.

Which Other Foods Are Safe for Dogs?

Your dog can also safely enjoy these foods:


Bell peppers


Brussels sprouts



Green beans

Peanut butter (give sparingly and avoid peanut butter with xylitol, which is toxic to dogs; usually found in “no sugar” or “low sugar” peanut butter)


Pumpkin (canned plain pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie mix)

Plain rice

Sweet potatoes


Which Foods Are Not Safe for Dogs?

Do not give your dog these foods:


Bread dough





Citrus peels/oil


Macadamia nuts




Raw/undercooked meat, eggs, and bones

Salty food


Xylitol (artificial sweetener)

Featured Image: Stefanovic

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Ellen Malmanger, DVM


Dr. Ellen Malmanger is originally from Arkansas, but attended Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine for veterinary school….

Heart Disease (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy) in Dogs

Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic in Dogs

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a rare form of heart muscle disease in dogs. It is characterized by a thickening of the walls of the heart, which leads to an inadequate amount of blood being pumped out into the body when the heart contracts during the systolic phase (pushing blood out into the arteries). When the heart relaxes between contractions during the diastolic phase (taking blood in from the vessels), an insufficient amount of blood will fill the chambers of the heart. Ultimately, HCM often will lead to congestive heart failure.

This disease, although extremely rare to dogs, usually affects young male dogs that are younger than three years old. There is also a higher incidence of the disease in mature Boston Terriers.

Symptoms and Types

Most dogs with HCM will not exhibit any symptoms of the disease. If your dog is symptomatic, it will exhibit signs of congestive heart failure. These include exercise intolerance, shortness of breath, coughing, and a bluish discoloration of the skin. Very rarely, a dog with HCM may experience a transient loss of consciousness, or fainting, during a high level of activity or exercise. During a physical veterinary examination, a dog with HCM may exhibit systolic heart murmur, and a heart gallop. Unfortunately, in most cases, the most commonly reported clinical sign of HCM is sudden, fatal heart failure.


The cause of HCM in dogs is largely unknown. Although some genetic abnormalities in gene codings for certain proteins have been detected in humans and cats with the disease, no such evidence exists for dogs.


Diagnosis of HCM through medical tests is relatively difficult and involves a number of procedures. Radiographic findings may either return normal results, or may show an enlargement of the left ventricular and atrium. If a dog with HCM has left-sided congestive heart failure, there will be a buildup of fluid in the lungs. An electrocardiogram (EKG) will typically reveal normal results as well, but sometimes, it may show abnormal ST segments and T waves. Blood pressure measurements also will usually return normal results. An examination of the heart using echocardiograph (ultrasound of the heart) imaging is required for a confirmed diagnosis of HCM. In dogs with severe HCM, the echocardiograph will reveal thickened left ventricular walls, papillary muscle enlargement, and an enlarged left atrium.


Treatment for HCM is normally only advised if the dog is experiencing congestive heart failure, severe arrhythmias (abnormal hearth rhythm), or frequent loss of consciousness. If the dog has left-sided congestive heart failure, diuretics and ACE inhibitors will usually be administered. In dogs with arrhythmias, beta adrenergic blockers or calcium channel blockers are used to improve oxygenation of the heart and to bring down the heart rate. Dogs that are not experiencing congestive heart failure due to HCM can usually be treated on an outpatient basis, where exercise restriction and a low sodium diet will be part of the treatment.

Living and Management

Follow-up treatment for HCM will depend largely on how severe the symptoms are. Repeated radiograph and echocardiograph imaging will be needed to follow the progress of the therapy, to watch for advancement of the disease, and to check on whether adjustments to medication are necessary. Because HCM is so rare in dogs, little data is available on the prognosis. If your dog does have congestive heart failure caused by HCM, the prognosis will usually be poor. Survival will depend largely on the extent of the disease. Your veterinarian will be able counsel you on your dog’s chances for survival, and on quality of life practices you can put into place for your dog.


A working dog with a wonderful expression and pure white coat, the Kuvasz is a large and sturdily built dog that was descended from giant Tibetan dogs. Despite their size, the breed is active and energetic.

Physical Characteristics

As the breed has traditionally been a hunter, herder, and guardian, its agility and power is paramount. And though large, the Kuvasz is not bulky. In fact, its medium-boned body enables the dog to move swiftly and smooth, with a free gait.

Its protective double coat, meanwhile, is medium and coarse, ranging from straight to wavy.

Personality and Temperament

Although the Kuvasz has a sweet expression, it is fearless when guarding and protecting its family and home. It gets along well with children, but sometimes misinterprets rough play among children as an attack on its human family. Additionally, some Kuvasz dogs may become dominating and show aggression toward strange people and dogs. However, it is generally loyal, dedicated, and especially gentle with livestock and other family pets.


Coat care consists of weekly brushing; however, daily brushing is required when the dog undergoes its seasonal shedding. The dog needs daily exercise in the form of a good run in an enclosed area and a long walk.

It is fond of cold weather and can survive outside in cool and temperate climates. Despite this, Kuvasz experts recommend allowing the dog to spend time both in the yard and indoors.


The Kuvasz, which has an average lifespan of 9 to 12 years, is susceptible to serious health issues such as canine hip dysplasia (CHD) and Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD), and minor problems like hypothyroidism. It also may suffer from panosteitis and Hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD). To identify some of the issues early, a veterinarian may recommend hip, elbow, and thyroid exams for this breed of dog.

History and Background

The Kuvasz is likely to have descended from giant Tibetan dogs, though it is regarded as a Hungarian breed. The name is actually Turkish, not Hungarian, and is derived from the word “kawasz,” which means “armed guard of noblemen.” This is because during the Middle Ages only nobleman favored by members of the royal family had could keep these dogs.

Kuvasz breeding in the 15th century was meticulously planned and documented, and the dogs became very popular on huge Hungarian estates, functioning as hunting and guard dogs. They were excellent in safeguarding the estate against predators and could handle large game like wolf and bear.

King Matthias I, a Kuvasz fancier, worked hard to improve the breed’s quality and built a large kennel on his property to forward research.

Centuries later common villagers were able to acquire Kuvasz as livestock dogs, and it was at that time that the breed’s name was corrupted to its current spelling.

The two World Wars caused a serious decline in the numbers of the breed, but German stock was used as a reliable source to maintain continuity. In the 1930s, some dogs were imported to the United States, and in 1931 the American Kennel Club formally recognized the breed.