Archive : December

Pouch-like Sacs on the Esophageal Wall in Dogs

Esophageal Diverticula in Dogs

Esophageal diverticula is characterized by large, pouch-like sacs on the esophageal wall. Pulsion diverticula is a pushing outward of the wall. This occurs as a consequence of increased pressure from within the esophagus, as seen with obstruction or failure of the esophageal muscles to move food through. Traction diverticula occurs secondary to inflammation, where fibrosis and contraction pull the wall of the esophagus out into a pouch. Diverticula most commonly occurs at the inlet to the esophagus or near the diaphragm, with food being taken into the mouth and getting caught in a pouch as it travels down the esophagus towards the stomach. Organ systems affected include the gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and respiratory. Although no genetic basis has been proven, it may be congenital (present at birth), or acquired. There is no specific breed or gender predisposition for this disease.

The condition or disease described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

Regurgitation following eating, difficult swallowing, lack of appetite, coughing Weight loss, respiratory distress (aspiration pneumonia)


Pulsion Diverticulum Embryonic developmental disorders of the esophageal wall Esophageal foreign body or failure of the muscles to move food through Traction Diverticulum Inflammatory process associated with the trachea, lungs, lymph nodes, or lining of the stomach; causes fibrous tissue formation around the esophagus


Your veterinarian will conduct an esophagram, or an esophagoscopy to examine the diverticula in order to determine whether there is a related mass. An X-ray of the chest area, and a fluoroscopal examination to evaluate the movement of food through the esophagus will give your doctor a better idea of where the diverticula is placed in the esophageal wall. An injection of a radiocontrasting agent into the esophageal passage may be used to improve visibility on an X-ray so that an exact determination can be made, as the substance flows down the esophagus, filling the pouches as is does.


If the diverticulum is small and is not causing significant clinical signs, your veterinarian may only recommend a change in diet for you dog. A soft, bland diet, given frequently and followed by copious liquids, will most likely travel through the esophagus to the stomach unhindered. If the diverticulum is large, or is associated with significant clinical signs, surgical resection will probably be recommended. The potential for food being drawn into the lungs, and leading to aspiration pneumonia makes the importance of dietary management key to avoiding fatal complications. Aggressive care will be called for if aspiration pneumonia is present. Fluid therapy, antibiotics, and nutrition via tube will be necessary. Your veterinarian will prescribe medications for your dog on the basis of the diagnosis.

Living and Management

Your doctor will want to monitor your dog for evidence and prevention of infection or aspiration pneumonia. You will need to maintain a positive nutritional balance throughout the disease process. Patients with diverticula and impaction (i.e., food material that is packed tightly) are predisposed to perforation, fistula, stricture, and postoperative rupturing of the incision. For this reason, your veterinarian will want to revisit your dog on a regular schedule. Prognosis is guarded in patients with large diverticula and overt clinical signs.

Joint Cancer (Synovial Sarcoma) in Dogs

Synovial Sarcoma in Dogs

Synovial sarcomas are soft tissue sarcomas – malignant cancers – that arise from the precursor cells outside the synovial membrane of the joints and bursa (the fluid-filled, sac-like cavity between joints that helps to facilitate movement). The synovial membrane itself is the layer of soft tissue that lines the surfaces within the joints.

Precursor cells have the ability to differentiate into one or two closely related  forms: epithelial cells (skin cells) or fibroblastic (connective tissue) cells. Therefore, the tumor may have cancer resembling both cancers of the skin and of the connective tissue.

Synovial sarcomas are aggressive and highly locally invasive, spreading in greater than 40 percent of cases. They most often spread to the elbow, knee, and shoulder blade regions.  They are more common in large-breed rather than small-breed dogs.

Symptoms and Types

Limping Slowly progressive lameness Palpable mass Weight loss No appetite (anorexia)






You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health and onset of symptoms. Your veterinarian will then perform a complete physical exam and order standard laboratory tests, including a biochemical profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel to rule out other non-cancerous causes for your dog’s symptoms.

Visual diagnostic techniques will show abnormalities around the affected joints. X-rays of the mass will show that the tumor is involved in both the bone and the joint. To obtain a definitive diagnosis, a biopsy of the soft and bony tissue of the tumor is necessary for histologic evaluation (microscopic analysis of the tissue sample). Using fine-needle aspirates (removal of fluid), the regional lymph nodes (i.e., the lymph nodes of the groin, armpits) should also be sampled and tested for evidence of metastasis (spread).


The invasiveness of this type of sarcoma makes amputation (if possible) of the affected limb the treatment of choice. When appropriate, the patient should be treated with supportive chemotherapy. Pain medication will also be prescribed and administered as necessary.

Living and Management

After surgery, you should expect your dog to feel sore. Your veterinarian will give you pain medication for your dog to help minimize discomfort, and you will need to set up a place in the house where your dog can rest comfortably and quietly, away from other pets, active children, and busy entryways. Trips outdoors for bladder and bowel relief should be kept short and easy for your dog to handle during the recovery period. Use pain medications with caution and follow all directions carefully; one of the most preventable accidents with pets is overdose of medication.

Your veterinarian will schedule follow-up appointments with you for your dog every two to three months for the first year after diagnosis of the synovial sarcoma. After the first year your dog may be seen by your veterinarian every six months for follow-up exams, and to affirm that the cancer has not recurred. X-rays should be taken at each visit to check for local recurrence and to confirm that the cancer has not spread to the lungs.

Abnormal Molar Development in Dogs

Dilacerated Mandibular First Molar in Dogs

The abnormal development and formation of the mandibular tooth, a molar located three teeth away from the midline of the jaw, is an oral health issue seen primarily in small breed dogs. The mandibular tooth is one of the first permanent teeth to develop a calcified crown, and one of the largest.

There is no gender or particular breed predilection, but small breed dogs are at risk due to the small amount of space in the jaw for the molar to grow into. Therefore, it is generally recommended that small breed dogs be given a full evaluation of the mandibular first molars as they are growing in. 

Symptoms and Types

The defect will appear at the neck of the madibular tooth, often with gum evidence that the gum is receding. There may even be extensive bone loss near the root and possible exposure of pulp inside of the tooh. X-rays may reveal discontinuity between the roots and crown and/or presence of pulpal stones in the canal or chamber of the tooth.


One of the possible causes for this developmental problem is a mechanical challenge (lack of space) in the mouths of small dogs that impede proper crown-root development. Invagination, a folding in of the enamel and/or cement of the tooth, sometimes occurs at the neck of the tooth, often with some degree of gingival recession (receding of gums) at the site.


Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical and oral exam on your dog, taking into account the background history of symptoms, if there have been any. Dens-in-dente, an anomaly of development resulting from the deepening of enamel into the dental papilla (the cells involved in the developing tooth), typically begins at the crown and often extends to the root before the calcification of the dental tissues takes place. Traumatic damage to the tooth, possibly from aggressive deciduous tooth (i.e., baby tooth) extraction, may be linked to a loss of dental integrity.

If your veterinarian finds that the tooth is too damaged to remain, an assessment of the remaining mandibular bone will be an important prior to an extraction attempt. The diagnostic evaluation will include taking a dental X-ray to evaluate the extent of the changes, particularly at the roots.


Treatment for a dilacerated mandibular first molar will begin with the appropriate pre-operative antimicrobial and pain management therapy as it is indicated. In most cases, there will be indications of a non-vital pulp in the tooth, indicated by a wide canal, periapical (apex of the root), and bone loss. Extraction of the tooth is typically warranted. However, this should not be an aggressive procedure. Care should be taken, as osteolysis (the active resorption or dissolution of bone tissue) could result in a compromised mandible (lower jaw). Your veterinarian may consider the use of bone-promoting material after the extraction.

Although rare, an endodontic procedure may be attempted to save the tooth in cases with minimal pathological changes. There is also a possibility stones in the tooth chamber could complicate canal access.

Living and Management

Your veterinarian will prescribe pain medication to help mitigate the amount of pain your dog is in, and to facilitate normal eating. After the initial care, your veterinarian will want to recheck your dog’s teeth at least once to be sure there is no infection and that the healing is on schedule. The prognosis is guarded for maintaining the tooth. However, an affected dog’s long term health is fair to good if a tooth extraction is performed.

Imodium® For Dogs: Can You Give Dogs Imodium?

What Is Imodium®?

Imodium® is an anti-diarrheal medication used in dogs to treat diarrhea that is not caused by an infectious agent such as bacteria, viruses, or intestinal parasites.

While Imodium® and its active ingredient loperamide are FDA-approved for use in humans, these medications are not approved for use in dogs. Imodium is rarely used in the veterinary field. However, veterinarians can legally prescribe certain human drugs for animals in some circumstances. This is called extra-label or off-label use because this use isn’t described on the drug label. Your veterinarian will determine whether Imodium® is right for your pet.

How Imodium® Works

Imodium® treats diarrhea by acting on the smooth muscle of the digestive tract. It slows digestive motility, which is the natural forward muscle movement of the digestive tract that moves food through the body. This allows food and liquids to stay in the digestive tract for a longer time to allow for better reabsorption of water, electrolytes, and nutrients back into the body.

How Much Imodium® Can I Give My Dog?

Diarrhea is a common response of the digestive system when change occurs. Some common causes of mild diarrhea in a dog are self-limiting, which means the diarrhea often resolves on its own within a short period of time. The diarrhea may occur from small exposures or ingestions from their environment, switching diets too quickly, or stress.

 Diarrhea can also be due to bacteria, viruses, or parasites in the intestines. Imodium® is not recommended in these situations because it prevents the offending agent from passing and being excreted in a timely manner, which can cause inflammation in the intestines.

Due to the possibility that the underlying cause of your pet’s diarrhea has yet to be identified, veterinarians do not usually recommend that Imodium® be given at home.

The most common use for Imodium® in the veterinary field is to treat diarrhea in dogs that occurs as a side effect of certain chemotherapy medications. It is important for your veterinarian to ensure that there is no infectious cause contributing to the diarrhea before prescribing Imodium®. Your veterinarian will generally try veterinary-specific medications first, but if the dog is not responding to those medications, they may recommend Imodium®.

Imodium® Dosing for Dogs

Your veterinarian will determine which form of Imodium® is appropriate for your pet, based on your pet’s traits and symptoms. If your veterinarian recommends that your dog take Imodium®, it is available as either a tablet or liquid. Imodium® tablets contain 2 mg of loperamide and should only be given to large dogs. Liquid Imodium® is typically available in a concentration of 1 mg/5 mL (0.2 mg/mL) and is preferred in smaller dogs. Your veterinarian will let you know how much and how often to use this medication.

Is Imodium® Safe For Dogs?

Imodium® can be used safely in dogs, but under very specific circumstances and only under direct supervision by their veterinarian.

Imodium® should be used with caution in dogs with the MDR1 gene mutation (common in Collies, Shelties and Australian Shepherds). Dogs with this gene mutation have a hard time metabolizing certain type of medications, including Imodium®, which can reach toxic levels in the body.

Imodium® is used with caution in dogs with certain underlying diseases like hypothyroidism, Addison’s disease, certain respiratory conditions, or brain injuries, since they are much more susceptible to the possible side effects.

Side effects of Imodium® in dogs include:




Severe side effects can include:

Impaired motility

Inflammation of the intestines




Weight loss


What Medications Can Dogs Take for Diarrhea?

Speak with your veterinarian about how to treat your dog’s diarrhea. Generally, they may advise that simple diarrhea is often something that can be handled at home. If your dog is still eating, drinking, and engaging in play, your veterinarian may recommend that you try the following:

Ensure your dog has plenty of fresh water.

Probiotics to calm your dog’s digestive tract. Probiotics can help to maintain a balance of healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract, which can be upset by your dog’s diarrhea.

One to two days of a bland diet of boiled chicken or lean hamburger plus rice (a carbohydrate and a protein), with some pure canned pumpkin added to offer an easily digestible low-fat meal.

A kaolin- and pectin-based anti-diarrheal can help by coating your dog’s digestive tract and reduce excess water being lost in the stool.

If your pet’s diarrhea lasts more than two days, if they have developed additional symptoms, or you think your pet’s diarrhea has an underlying cause, speak with a veterinarian as soon as possible or seek emergency veterinary care.

Depending on the cause of your pet’s diarrhea, they may need prescription medication like anti-nausea medication, dewormers, probiotics, antibiotics, or acid blockers to treat the cause and feel better. Your veterinarian will determine the best course of treatment for your pet.

Featured Image: Jooris-Ancion

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Stephanie Howe, DVM


Dr. Stephanie Howe graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011, after receiving a Bachelor of Science…

Bloat in Dogs

What Is Bloat in Dogs?

Bloat is a condition in which food or gas stretches your dog’s stomach, causing abdominal pain. While it is more common in large breed or deep-chested dogs, any breed can develop bloat. Depending on the severity, bloat can be fatal if not treated within an hour or two.  

The stomach is located in the upper abdomen and normally contains a small amount of gas, food, liquid, and mucus. When a dog eats, food enters the stomach from the esophagus, then is broken down by digestive enzymes. From the stomach, the food moves into the small intestine and down the gastrointestinal tract. 

When bloat occurs, your dog’s stomach begins to expand, or distend, and cuts off blood flow to the abdomen as well as the stomach itself. This may cause injury (even death) of the stomach wall and, without treatment, eventually other organs. Bloat can also put pressure on the diaphragm, a thin muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen, leading to trouble breathing.  

In severe cases of bloat, a dog’s stomach twists and fills with gas. This is called gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) and is considered one of the most painful, severe emergencies in veterinary medicine. This degree of bloat cuts off blood flow to the stomach and the lower half of the body, making it impossible for food to pass into the intestine. In extreme cases of GDV, a dog’s stomach can rupture, and the spleen can also be injured. 

This is a very serious health emergency and, if untreated, a dog with GDV will die within hours. 

Is Bloat in Dogs Curable?

All cases of bloat require immediate medical attention to determine the severity. If bloat is treated immediately, it is often curable.

Simple bloat, where the dog’s stomach has not twisted, can sometimes be managed without medication, but may require fluids or other treatments.

Other degrees of bloat, including GDV, can also be curable if diagnosed in the early stages. These conditions are usually treated with immediate surgery.

Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs

Bloat is a very uncomfortable, often painful, health crisis for dogs. As a result, a dog with bloat may: 

Dry-heave (also called retching) without vomiting any food. Sometimes a dog might spit out white foam when trying to vomit, which is usually mucus from the esophagus or stomach.

Have abdominal distention (this might not be visible in the early stages of bloat)

Experience sudden anxiety, pacing, an inability to get comfortable or constantly moving around the room/house.

Be guarding their belly or looking back at their belly

Position themselves in downward facing dog pose, where the dog’s back half is up and upper half is down

Pant and drool


Have a racing heartbeat (tachycardia)

Have pale gums

Causes of Bloat in Dogs

It’s unknown why bloat and GDV occur in dogs, but there are suspected risk factors that can increase the chance of bloat.  

While bloat can occur in any dog, risks factors that increase the chances of bloat in dogs are:

Ingesting large amounts of food or water too quickly

Weighing more than 99 pounds increases the risk by about 20% 

Age (Older dogs are at a higher risk)

Being deep chested 

Exercise immediately after eating. 

Eating from an elevated food bowl

Having a close relative that was diagnosed with bloat

Eating dry food with fat or oil listed in the first 4 ingredients

How Vets Diagnose Bloat in Dogs

A veterinarian may suspect bloat and/or GDV by simply seeing a dog’s distressed behavior and physical appearance, but they typically also perform tests to confirm the diagnosis. 

Blood Test

The vet may perform a blood test to get a picture of your dog’s overall health.  

Abdominal X-rays

These are taken to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the severity of bloat. An x-ray can indicate if a dog has simple bloat, where the stomach appears very distended and round and is usually full of food or gas.  X-rays also show if bloat has progressed to GDV and the stomach appears very distended and has what looks like a bubble on top of the already swollen stomach.  

Treatment for Bloat in Dogs

Treatment of simple bloat can be quite straightforward. Dogs are usually hospitalized to receive large amounts of intravenous fluids and sometimes medicine. They’re also walked often to stimulate movement of the gastrointestinal tract to help move the gas and food quickly through the body.

A dog with GDV requires more intense care that typically includes: 

Intravenous fluids with electrolytes to aggressively treat shock and improve circulation to vital organs.

Pain medications and often antibiotics to treat discomfort, shock and any death of tissues from the loss of circulation.

A procedure to decompress the stomach by removing gas from the stomach to allow blood flow to the lower half of the body. In some instances, this helps untwist the stomach.  

Electrocardiogram (ECG) to monitor for any heart abnormalities which frequently due to toxins from decreased circulation. 

Surgery is performed as soon as the dog is as stable as possible. Depending on the severity of bloat, a vet may have to untwist the dog’s stomach and/or spleen, and remove any part of the stomach wall that may have died due to loss of blood flow. The vet will also stitch the stomach to the body wall in a procedure called a gastropexy. This significantly reduces the risk of rotation of the stomach in the future.  

Recovery and Management of Bloat in Dogs

After proper diagnosis, dogs with simple bloat tend to bounce back into their normal lives and routines 1 to 2 days after receiving fluids and taking frequent walks. 

Following GDV surgery, a dog will remain in the hospital until pain is controlled, blood tests indicate normal enzyme levels, and the dog is eating and drinking well on their own. Length of time in the hospital depends on the dog’s health history and severity of bloat, and may be anywhere from 1 to 2 days, to up to 7 or more.

Regardless of the type of bloat or treatment a dog experienced, vets suggest the same steps to lower the risk of bloat in the future:

Never leave large bags or bins of food accessible to your dog to avoid overeating. 

Do not use raised food bowls unless advised by your veterinarian (some pets require a raised food bowl due to a medical condition)

Wait at least 1 hour after a meal or drinking a large amount of water for any exercise or playtime.

Feed small meals a few times throughout the day instead of 1 or 2 large meals

Avoid gorging on water when drinking

Discuss preventative surgery with your veterinarian for breeds at higher risk of bloat. This can often be performed during your pet’s spay or neuter procedure.

Bloat in Dogs FAQs

What foods cause bloat in dogs?

There are no proven diets that cause food bloat in dogs. It is believed that diets where fat or oils are listed in the top 4 ingredients put dogs at a higher risk of food bloat. More importantly, large amounts of food or water in one sitting have been shown to substantially increase bloat risk.

What are the first signs of bloat in a dog?

Symptoms of bloat usually occur without warning and progress quickly. A dog may pant, pace or drool or appear to be dry-heaving (attempting to vomit) without being able to be throw up. Anxiety and abdominal distention are also common symptoms. In severe cases, dogs may collapse or have an elevated heart rate and/or pale gums. 

How do vets treat bloat in dogs?

Dogs with simple bloat are generally hospitalized to receive intravenous fluids, medicine to help the stomach empty and frequent walks to stimulate bowel movements. Dogs with GDV require surgery to untwist the stomach. 

Does dry food cause bloat in dogs?

Dry food can cause bloat in dogs especially if eaten in large amounts at one time or if a dog exercises quickly after eating. However, a canned or human food can also cause bloat and rotation of the stomach.

How do you treat bloat in dogs at home?

If a vet determines a dog with simple mild bloat can be treated at home, the owner will be advised to withhold food for 12 to 24 hours, take the dog on frequent walks, and limit water intake to small amounts several times daily.

Can drinking too much water cause bloat in dogs?

Drinking large amounts of water at one time, especially if followed by exercise, is a risk factor of bloat and GDV. It is best to offer small to moderate amounts of water and limit drinking 30 minutes prior to any heavy exercise. Small bowls of water around the house can curb a dog from guzzling too much water at once. 

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Katie Grzyb, DVM


Dr. Katie Grzyb received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Ross University in 2009. She continued her clinical training at…

Scottish Deerhound

A rare breed with a great deal of class, the Scottish Deerhound is one of the oldest Greyhound-like breeds. A rather large dog, it has coarse hair that is generally blue-gray in color.

Physical Characteristics

Although it resembles the Greyhound in build, the Scottish Deerhound dogs are more big-boned, with coarse hair that is about three to four inches in length. The coat, being weatherproof, helps them in harsh conditions. Additionally, these dogs have an easy but speedy gait.

Personality and Temperament

The Scottish Deerhound has a pleasing personality. And though some Scottish Deerhound may chase strangers, it usually behaves politely with other dogs and pets, and plays nicely with children. A subdued and easy-going breed, it makes for a great indoor pet; however, the Scottish Deerhound also enjoys going outdoors.


The Scottish Deerhound breed loves to spend time inside the home with its human family. Nevertheless, the dog can adapt to living outdoors in warm or cool climate. Routine exercise is essential for the breed, ideally in the form of a long walk or running in an enclosed area.

The hair should be clipped on occasion to prevent it from tangling; combing, meanwhile, will help remove any dead hair. Additionally, the hair around the dog’s face and ears should be stripped.


The Scottish Deerhound breed, which has an average lifespan of 7 to 9 years, is susceptible to major health issues such as cardiomyopathy, gastric torsion, and osteosarcoma. Hypothyroidism, neck pain, atopy, and cystinuria may also plague this dog. To identify some of the issues early, a veterinarian may recommend regular cystinuria and cardiac exams for this breed of dog.

History and Background

The Scottish Deerhound is a rare and old breed. It bears a resemblance to the Greyhound, but experts are not quite sure why. It is, however, assumed that the breed has existed as early as the 16th and 17th centuries. The nobles of that time, especially those who were avid deer hunters, were very fond of the breed. In fact, a Scottish Deerhound could not be acquired by anyone lower than the rank of earl during the Age of Chivalry.

The decline of the deer population in England caused a concentration of the breed in the Scottish Highlands, where deer still existed in large numbers. Highland chieftains looked after this breed, but with the fall of the clan system after the Battle of Culloden, Scottish Deerhounds lost their popularity by the middle of 18th century. The arrival of breech-loading rifles in the 19th century further aggravated their decline as deer were much easier to hunt. It was early in 1860s that the first Deerhound club was established in England. They were also displayed at dog shows from that time.

It was not until about 1825, when Archibald and Duncan McNeill undertook a restoration of the breed, that the Scottish Deerhound regained his former glory. And though the destruction of World War I greatly reduced the breed’s numbers throughout Europe, the Scottish Deerhound of today closely conforms to the original standard established in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Heart Inflammation (Myocarditis) in Dogs

Myocarditis in Dogs

Myocarditis is the inflammation of the heart’s muscular wall (or myocardium), often caused by infectious agents. That is, bacterial, viral, rikettsial, fungal, and protozoal agents directly affecting the heart or reaching the heart from other body parts can lead to myocarditis.

Clinical symptoms depend on the type of infection and extent of lesions, but in severe cases, heart failure may result.

Symptoms and Types

The inflammation itself may be focal or diffused throughout the myocardium. Other symptoms associated with myocarditis include:

Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm) Cough Exercise intolerance Difficult breathing Weakness Collapse Fever Other symptoms related to infections may also be present



Although viral, bacterial, rikettsial, funal, and protozoal infections are the most common cause of myocaditis, drug toxicity to the heart can also be a factor.


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms. The veterinarian will then conduct a complete physical examination, paying close attention to the dog’s cardiovascular system. Various laboratory tests — such as complete blood count (CBC), blood culture biochemistry profile, and urinalysis — will be used to isolate and identify the causative organism. The abnormalities revealed by these tests, however, will depend on the affected organ.

Your veterinarian will also perform an echocardiogram (EKG) on the dog to evaluate the extent of myocardial damage and abnormal accumulation of fluid around the heart. In addition to evaluating the abnormalities related to heart dysfunction, EKG findings help in differentiating the location of the lesions within heart. Thoracic X-rays, meanwhile, help evaluate the heart size, whether fluids are located in the lungs, and other such abnormalities.

Other more specific testing include pathological exams of fluid samples taken from around the heart.


Dogs with severe myocarditis, congestive heart failure (CHF), or severe heart rhythm problems may need to be hospitalized for intensive care and treatment. If specific causative organism is identified, infection will be treated with suitable medicine, such as antibiotics to fight off bacterial infections. There are also medications to correct heart rhythym issues, should the dog be suffering from them. In some patients, a pacemaker may need to be implanted.

Living and Management

The overall prognosis for myocarditis depends on the extent and severity of disease. Dogs with CHF as a result of myocarditis, for example, have very poor prognosis, while those with milder forms of the disease respond well to treatment.

You will need to visit your veterinarian regularly for follow-up evaluation and frequent laboratory testing will be conducted to monitor progress and response to treatment. Limiting your dog’s activity is important for recovery, as well as setting aside a quiet place for it to rest, away from household activity, children, and other pets.

Certain diet restrictions may be recommended, especially those concerning your dog’s salt intake.

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Fleas and Ticks on Dogs

Fleas and ticks are pesky external parasites that love to hide in your dog’s fur and attach themselves to the skin for feeding. Dogs that spend time outdoors, especially in high grass or wooded areas, are at risk, but they can also be found in shorter grass and around shrubs in your yard.

Ticks and fleas are commonly seen in warmer months, but some can also survive freezing temperatures. They also jump from pet to pet, so even if your dog stays indoors most of the time, these parasites can find a way to infest her body.

Fleas and ticks often carry other parasites and diseases that can be harmful to your dog’s health and in some cases may be fatal. Humans are also at risk of medical issues since these parasites are interested in feeding on blood from animals or humans and they can live in your home in search of their next host.

It’s critical to learn proper flea and tick removal as well as prevention to stop disease transmission from occurring, keeping you and your pet healthier and happier.

How To Get Rid of Ticks and Fleas on Dogs

To get rid of ticks and fleas on your dog, know how to look for them.

Ticks tend to be larger than fleas, though they often like to move to warm, dark, moist areas on the body. It is important to frequently feel your dog all over, including in between the toes, ears, armpits, groin, and facial folds. Try to check daily if your pet is often outdoors, or a few times weekly if they only go out for walks.

The sooner a tick is located and removed, the less likely it is that medical issues will occur, since it takes several hours (usually up to 36 hours) for disease transmission to occur once a tick attaches to the skin. Brushes and combs may be helpful to search for ticks, but a thorough once-over with your hands is the best way to find a tick on your dog. Always wash your hands after checking your dog for ticks.

Removal of Ticks on Dogs

Once a tick is located, use small tweezers to grab the tick at the base where it has burrowed into the skin and lift with steady, firm upward pressure. Once the tick mouth is removed from the skin, place this tick in a container or a plastic bag and contact your veterinarian. Use a small amount of alcohol or antiseptic to dab the affected area of your dog’s skin after removal.

Removal of Fleas on Dogs

Fleas are smaller than ticks and typically infest many areas of the body. Symptoms include intense itching, hair loss, skin redness, and scrapes on the body. The first place to start your search is at the base of your dog’s tail or neck, parting the fur and looking closely for any small, dark, jumping bugs. Sometimes adult fleas are not found actively hopping. You may also see small white specks at the base of the hair, which are flea eggs, or dark specks on the skin, which are flea droppings.  

The easiest way to find fleas on your dog is by using a flea comb. When you comb through the fur, flea eggs or droppings may be visible, which is confirmation of flea infestation. Fleas tend to be more difficult to remove than ticks, because they are smaller and more numerous. Even if you remove the adult fleas with simple bathing, the eggs will eventually hatch or fleas in the home will jump back onto your dog, causing another infestation.

Medicated baths, flea medications, and flea/tick preventatives are necessary to ensure there are no further issues. 

Medications for Fleas and Ticks on Dogs

There are no current medications that kill ticks on contact with the skin, but some medications kill adult fleas and flea larvae on a dog. The flea must be attached to the skin for the medication to be effective. Specifically, Capstar and Advantus kill fleas on your dog but only work for a short time. This is often a first line of therapy recommended by your veterinarian when there is a severe infestation and the fleas need to be eradicated quickly.

Following this treatment, your veterinary team will often recommend bathing your dog by using unscented Dawn dish soap if you don’t have doggy shampoo at home. This will be followed by a thorough combing of the fur to remove all dead fleas, larvae, and eggs.

These treatments must be followed by prescription flea and tick prevention medicine, since they don’t last long. Also, the home needs to be treated to prevent fleas from jumping back onto your dog, causing the same issue.

Shampoos and Sprays for Fleas and Ticks on Dogs

Flea and tick shampoos must be used with caution and under the supervision of a veterinarian. Many of these over-the-counter products can cause toxicity if they are ingested or if an inappropriate product is used. These shampoos are not usually recommended treatments for dogs with flea/tick infestation, as they tend to not last long and are often ineffective.

Frontline and Advantage offer shampoos/sprays that will kill fleas and ticks, but without continued use, the parasites will recur.

Other Products for Fleas and Ticks on Dogs

Flea collars tend to only prevent fleas around the neck, where the collar is placed, and don’t protect elsewhere on the body. The Seresto collar is a great option for flea and tick prevention, but not once a flea infestation is found.

Flea and tick dips and powders are not used often anymore because they can cause more harm through toxicity and don’t have a long-lasting effect.

How To Get Rid of Fleas and Ticks in Your Home

Treating your yard and home for ticks and fleas is one of the best ways to prevent infestation or re-infestation. Ways to protect your yard include:

Keep grass mowed and trim all shrubbery.

Seal all open spaces where outdoor animals could nest. Avoid leaving food out for neighborhood animals such as feral cats or other critters like raccoons and opossums.

There are effective OTC flea and tick yard sprays, but it is important to discuss these options with your veterinarian or landscaper first to make sure these products are safe for your pets if ingested.

Flea infestation in the home can become more of a problem than ticks, since fleas are often found in high numbers. Ways to protect your home during a flea infestation include:

Frequent vacuuming to rid common places for these parasites to live.

Vacuuming furniture like fabric chairs and couches, as well as baseboards and under any dog beds in the house.

Changing vacuum bags or emptying the vacuum container often and in an enclosed environment outside of the home.

Washing your dog’s bedding and toys in hot water a few times weekly to kill any immature fleas.  

In cases of severe home infestation or if your dog continues to have recurrent flea/tick infestations, contact an exterminator to discuss pet-friendly options for flea bombing the home environment.

How To Prevent Fleas and Ticks on Dogs

Prevention of fleas and ticks is much safer and simpler than treatment of possible issues once your dog has been infected. There are many options on the market that work to prevent flea and tick infestation, though none are 100% effective, which means routine body checks and home cleaning are still important. Preventative pills, topicals, and collars should be discussed with your veterinarian to determine the best options based on your pet’s lifestyle.

Flea and/or tick preventative pills for dogs include:

Isooxazoline ingredient products:

Bravecto, NexGard, Credelio, and Simparica Trio

The active ingredient in these products kills fleas and ticks once they bite your dog, by attacking the parasite’s nervous system. These are safe, effective products, though vets have noted a low risk of seizures, which seems to affect those dogs with a tendency for seizure behavior (such as epileptic dogs).

Spinosad ingredient products:

Comfortis and Trifexis

These products are only for flea prevention and are not effective against ticks. The active ingredient in these products is an insecticide that targets the flea’s nervous system. These products have a high safety margin with little concern for toxicity.

Lufenuron ingredient products:


This is an insect-growth regulator (IGR) that does not kill adult fleas but prevents flea eggs from hatching. It is a good choice for controlling infestation. Sentinel is not effective against ticks and has a high safety margin with little concern for toxicity.

All these products are used monthly, except for Bravecto, which is dosed every 12 weeks.

Topical flea and tick preventatives include:




Advantage Plus

These were once the main line for prevention, but recent studies have found these products to be less effective. Many veterinarians now believe that this is due to resistance against the active ingredients since they have been around for so long, inappropriate application (applying immediately before or after a bath can decrease efficacy), or the pet rubbing or licking the product off.

Flea and tick collars have been shown to be effective in the control of these parasites if used and replaced correctly. The most successful products are prescribed by your veterinarian. OTC products aren’t very effective and can allow breakthrough infestations

Even though fleas and ticks are annoying creatures that like to feed on your doggies or even you, there are many options for protecting your dog and yourself from these parasites. It is important to discuss all options with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action based on your pet’s medical history, the degree of infestation, and their lifestyle habits.

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Katie Grzyb, DVM


Dr. Katie Grzyb received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Ross University in 2009. She continued her clinical training at…


Sometimes physically compared to a cheetah, this unique dog breed is built with natural agility and speed. The Sloughi is an ancient breed that originated somewhere in North Africa and spread to Europe and then America, though it is still a fairly rare breed in the United States.

Physical Characteristics

This medium-sized dog breed weighs anywhere from 50 to 65 pounds at a height of 24 to 29 inches. The Sloughi has a uniquely long head with floppy ears and has a short and smooth coat that comes in a range of colors — from a light cream color to a red fawn coloring or, less often, a nearly black color.

Personality and Temperament

The Sloughi has a unique personality that can sometimes be compared to a cat as it can seem detached and aloof. Although enthusiasts of this breed call the Sloughi a loving and loyal dog, this breed may do best as a one-person dog. The Sloughi can do well with children and other animals if it is socialized early enough.


The Sloughi requires little grooming and a good amount of daily exercise with plenty of space to run.


Considered a generally healthy dog breed, the Sloughi lives an average life span of 12 to 15 years. Health concerns with this breed include progressive retinal atrophy and sensitivity to vaccines, anesthesia and other medicines.

History and Background

The exact date and origin of the Sloughi is unknown; however, the dog breed is believed to have developed in North Africa in the thirteenth century if not earlier. One of two African Sighthound breeds, the Sloughi was used to hunt desert game such as foxes, deer, gazelles and more.

The Sloughi reached Europe in the late nineteenth century and became popular in France. As with other dog breeds, the World Wars nearly brought extinction to the Sloughi. However, dedicated dog breeders were able to save, but not fully revive the Sloughi population.

Although the Sloughi was introduced to the United States in 1973, it remains a relatively unpopular dog breed in America.

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Eye Ulcer in Dogs

What is Eye Ulcer in Dogs?

An eye ulcer, also medically termed corneal ulcer, or ulcerative keratitis in dogs, is a condition where the outer layer of the eye (the cornea) erodes, causing a divot or dent.  

This divot can be superficial (on the surface), or it can affect the deeper layers of the eye. Eye ulcers lead to pain, redness of the eye, eye discharge, blinking frequently or holding the eye closed, and sometimes swelling. This is a common condition and is diagnosed most often in brachycephalic (flat-nosed) dog breeds but can easily affect any breed of dog.   

Symptoms of Eye Ulcer in Dogs

Symptoms of eye ulcers in dogs range from mild to severe depending on the cause and severity of the erosion.  

Symptoms in order of severity include: 

Blinking the eye more often 

Excessive tearing 

Redness of the eye  

Swelling of the eyelid or skin around the affected eye 

Pawing at the eye or rubbing their face on the ground 

Elevated third eyelid (third eyelid is located in the inside corner of the eye) 

Holding the eye completely shut 

Yellow/green/bloody eye discharge (in severe cases) 

Hole (perforation) in the outer layer of the eye/rupture of the eye (in severe cases) 

Blindness in affected eye (in severe cases) 

Decreased appetite 

Lethargy or hiding behavior 

Causes of Eye Ulcer in Dogs

Anything that disrupts any part of the normal outer layer of the eye (cornea) can cause an ulcer, including if it affects the normal corneal structure, function, or physiology. Causes of eye ulcers in dogs are most commonly trauma, foreign body injury, or chemical burns.   

These are some of the multiple causes of ulcerative keratitis in dogs: 

Trauma: scratches from another animal; running into tree branches, plants, or bushes; self-inflicted trauma from rubbing their own face 

Foreign body: sand, dirt, or other foreign material can enter the eye and get stuck behind the eyelids, causing repeated damage to the cornea 

Chemical irritation/burns: shampoos, topical medications, or household cleaning products getting into the eye 

Bacterial infections 

Viral infections 

Secondary to conformation/congenital issues of the eye: such as abnormal eyelash growth (distichia), eyelid masses or tumors, or entropion (rolling in of the lower eyelid) 

Secondary to chronic dry eye: called keratoconjunctivitis sicca 

Secondary to neurologic issues: that do not allow the eyes to blink appropriately 

Secondary to certain endocrine diseases: such as diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s disease, and hypothyroidism 

Secondary to inherited conditions: such as epithelial dystrophy, seen most commonly in Boxers, King Charles Cavaliers, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Afghan Hounds, and Alaskan Malamutes 

How Veterinarians Diagnose Eye Ulcer in Dogs

Your veterinarian will want to perform some eye tests to find the cause of the ulceration and to decide on a course of action for treatment. The most important part of diagnosing and treating eye ulcers in dogs is to figure out if the erosion is simple or complicated.   

A simple (uncomplicated) eye ulcer only involves the most superficial (surface) layer of the cornea and usually heals within 7-10 days without progression into the deeper corneal layers.  

A complicated eye ulcer extends into the deeper layers of the cornea and can become infected or even start “melting” the deeper layers because of severe inflammation (swelling) and microorganism invasion.  

There are three types of complicated ulcers:  

Persistent corneal ulcers: This includes superficial ulcers with an elevated outer rim making it more difficult for the cornea to heal itself. They often heal with longer courses of therapy over several weeks to months. They sometimes require surgery to correct the problem if they worsen or do not heal with the right therapy. 

Corneal foreign bodies: Objects can penetrate superficially or can penetrate the deeper layers of the cornea. The deeper the foreign body goes the faster and more intense inflammation occurs. Often these foreign bodies require careful removal by a veterinarian and aggressive therapy to heal. Surgery is sometimes necessary. 

Stromal ulcers: These affect the deepest layer of the cornea, which is the wall between the outer layer of the eye and the fluid contained within the front chamber of the eye. They require aggressive medical and surgical management which may include melting ulcers (descemetoceles), and cat claw lacerations (cuts) or perforations (holes) to treat. These ulcers are often infected, severely inflamed, and painful. 

Your vet will perform a thorough examination of the eye itself to assess for any foreign objects, obvious lacerations or abnormal eyelashes, and masses prior to any diagnostic testing.   

Sometimes obvious lacerations or divots are noted in the eye with or without inflammation around the affected ulceration. Often, superficial erosions are not visible without special equipment.   

Diagnostic testing that is usually performed by your veterinarian may include: 

Fluorescein stain: A drop of this special yellow to green tinged dye is placed in your dog’s eye. The dye will adhere to the ulcerated tissue unless the ulcer is deep; then usually just the affected rim around the eroded area will uptake the dye. Small eye ulcers may require certain ophthalmic filter equipment to diagnose while other larger ulcers are often obvious when illuminated after fluorescein staining. 

Schirmer tear testing: This is a simple, noninvasive test to measure tear production and to diagnose chronic dry eye in dogs. This is a common cause of corneal ulceration if no other obvious foreign material or objects are found to be causing the ulcer.   

Intraocular pressures (tonometry): This is a simple, noninvasive test that helps to find the pressure behind the eye. If the corneal ulcer is deep or extensive, then this test may not be performed to avoid rupture of the eye itself. Often medical issues such as glaucoma or uveitis are diagnosed as a primary or secondary issue with deep or chronic corneal ulcers. 

Bacterial culture: This involves taking a sample of cells from the cornea which are then allowed to incubate and checked for growth of bacterial cells. A culture helps to direct antibiotic therapy in melting, chronic, non-healing, and deep eye ulcers. 

Cytology: This involves taking a small sample of cells from the cornea to assess under a microscope. A cytology can help direct the correct therapy in chronic, non-healing, or deep eye ulcers.   

Treatment of Eye Ulcer in Dogs

Treatment of eye ulcers in dogs depends on the type of corneal ulcer and the severity of the ulcer itself. Therapy is divided into two types: medical and surgical therapies. 

Medical Therapy for Eye Ulcer in Dogs

A therapy common for simple eye ulcers including broad-spectrum, topical antibiotics, and often topical pain medication. Sometimes systemic pain medication is added depending on the comfort level of the dog.  

Contact lenses are sometimes used to protect the outer layer of the eye while uncomplicated ulcers are healing. Most of these simple ulcers heal with therapy within 3-7 days. It is important to continue watching even simple ulcers closely and follow up with your veterinarian for recommended recheck appointments to ensure that the ulcer is not getting deeper or becoming infected.   

Complicated eye ulcers often require more potent topical antibiotics up to every 2-4 hours depending on the diagnosis. Oral antibiotics and pain medications are also often required for systemic therapy and comfort control. These types of ulcers are watched very closely with frequent veterinary exams to ensure that the ulcer does not worsen during therapy. These can progress to deep ulcers, which require surgical intervention.   

Simple, superficial foreign objects can sometimes be easily removed from the cornea with ophthalmic irrigation (a sterile cleansing solution used to flush the eye), while deeper foreign bodies often need gentle removal under general anesthesia by a veterinarian. Remaining lacerations or ulcerations can be thoroughly treated after removal with aggressive medical therapy. 

Indolent (non-healing) ulcers often require keratotomy or burr debridement, which uses a specific burring instrument (cutting tool) to remove the dead cells from the ulcer. It also stimulates blood vessels’ invasion into the ulcer for healing. Most of these ulcers heal about 2-3 weeks after this procedure.   

Surgical Therapy for Eye Ulcer in Dogs

Surgical intervention is necessary when an eye ulcer is deep, complicated, melting, or is chronic and no longer responding to medical therapy. 

Conjunctival (eye tissue) grafts are the most common surgery performed. This is where conjunctival tissue is transposed over the affected ulcer and is used to provide support and blood supply during healing. In some cases, a third eyelid flap and a temporary surgical closing of the eyelids (tarsorrhaphy) are used for ulcers caused by some congenital (present at birth) or neurologic (nervous system) issues. This acts as a bandage to protect the eye during healing.   

Some chronic or deeper ulcers can cause secondary inflammation in the eye, or uveitis, which requires more aggressive anti-inflammatory therapy using systemic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and additional systemic analgesics.  

Elizabethan collars or pet cones are a necessity during healing from all eye ulcers. They eliminate the possibility of self-trauma caused by rubbing or pawing and protect your dog during healing. This collar must always remain on until it is deemed safe for removal by your veterinarian. Removing the collar too soon can lead to trauma and complicate current corneal ulcerations. 

Recovery and Management of Eye Ulcer in Dogs

Most simple eye ulcers are rechecked by a veterinarian in 5-7 days to assess healing. Most of these ulcers heal during this time with the right therapy. Prognosis is usually excellent for full recovery.  

Deeper or more complicated ulcers are checked more often, usually 1-2 days after diagnosis, to make certain that they are showing signs of improvement and not worsening. Sometimes, a pet may be hospitalized to perform frequent treatments every 2-4 hours. Medications are changed or extended based on bacterial culture and cytology results.   

For melting, deep stromal, or complicated eye ulcers, referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist (eye doctor) is usually recommended for treatment and surgical intervention. Conjunctival grafts are usually left in place for 2-3 months. Complicated ulcers are monitored closely by a veterinarian for several weeks after surgery or therapy to assess for tear production, which may require medical management for short periods of time or permanently in some cases. 

Any underlying medical conditions or congenital abnormalities must be diagnosed and correctly treated to avoid chronic eye ulcers or frequent development of corneal ulcers in the future. 

Eye Ulcer in Dogs FAQs

What is the cornea?

The cornea is the clear cell membranous outer layer of the eye and is made up of three cell layers. The most outer layer is called the epithelium, the thick middle layer is the stroma, and the thinnest, innermost layer is the endothelium (otherwise known as Descemet’s membrane).

Can a corneal abrasion (scrape) progress to become a corneal ulcer?

Yes. Erosion of the outer layer of the eye, the corneal epithelium, is called a corneal abrasion or erosion. When this erosion gets deeper and affects the middle layer or inner layer of the eye, a corneal ulceration occurs. This usually happens from self-trauma (rubbing the face or eyes), bacterial infection, or chronic/progressive inflammation.

What is an indolent corneal ulcer?

Indolent corneal ulcers are ulcers affecting the superficial layer of the cornea that do not heal within 7 days. Often this type of ulcer will seem to be improving when therapy starts, but then it deteriorates with no obvious cause. Often, these ulcers require keratectomy (laser eye surgery) to remove the unhealthy layers and allow therapy and healing.

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Katie Grzyb, DVM


Dr. Katie Grzyb received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Ross University in 2009. She continued her clinical training at…