Archive : May


Fluffy, clever, and just as sweet-natured as they look, Sheepadoodles are a crossbreed of Old English Sheepdogs (OES) and Poodles. Although they’re not as prevalent as their crossbreed cousin, the Goldendoodle, this designer mix is becoming more popular as a family pet thanks to their affectionate personalities and the likelihood of low-shedding coats. In fact, these same traits have made them increasingly widespread picks as therapy dogs and emotional support animals.

As with any hybrid dog breed, the Sheepadoodle size and appearance doesn’t have specific requirements to meet like a purebred dog would. However, their coats most commonly come in a black-and-white pattern and, with that OES parentage, full-grown Sheepadoodles are usually on the larger side (16-22 inches and 65-85 pounds, although they can be larger or smaller). If you’re looking for a mini model, a Miniature Sheepadoodle is an OES crossed with a Miniature Poodle. Though, they’re rarer than standard Sheepadoodles.

Caring for a Sheepadoodle

As an Old English Sheepdog-Poodle mix, the Sheepadoodle is bred to create a dog with everything people love about both parent breeds. This leads to a clever, playful, loving dog that thrives as a cherished member of the family—but it does need to be the right family.

“These are two intelligent breeds that need mental stimulation to avoid developing behavioral issues,” says Dr. Maggie Brown-Bury, DVM, a small-animal relief veterinarian who sits on the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Council. Therefore, she says, they’re best suited to families who want an active dog that requires lots of time and attention.

Some of that attention will need to go toward grooming, since both parent breeds have significant grooming requirements, Brown-Bury adds. “Another thing to be aware of is that Poodles are considered not to shed, but OES do shed,” she says. “So it cannot be assumed that you’re getting a non-shedder.”

Sheepadoodle Health Issues

Sheepadoodles tend to be a healthy breed with a lifespan of 12-15 years. But there are some health conditions that show up in both parent breeds, even if Sheepadoodle breeders take every possible precaution.

“Unfortunately, with many breeds, the health problems they’re known for are very prevalent in the breed genetics,” Brown-Bury says, and that makes those genetic diseases difficult to remove from the breed because there are so few individual dogs free of the genes. 

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint develops abnormally and leads to a loose joint. This condition is not unusual for large-breed dogs and is one of those issues that shows up in both Old English Sheepdogs and Poodles.

A pooch with hip dysplasia will likely show signs of discomfort, which you’ll see as limited mobility, less activity, or looking stiff. Talk to your vet about the best treatment options, as there are many possibilities available like joint supplements, anti-inflammatory medications, and even surgery in severe cases.

Eye Issues

 “Congenital and inherited eye issues are often breed-related, and Poodles of all sizes and OES have significant lists of known potential eye issues,” Brown-Bury says.

The two breeds’ lists of eye problems have a lot of overlap, including:


Corneal dystrophy

Distichiasis (an eyelash that grows from an abnormal spot on the eyelid),

Micropapilla (a smaller-than-normal optic disc)

Progressive retinal atrophy


Although bloat is generally seen in large dogs, including Standard Poodles, it has more to do with body shape than genetics, Brown-Bury says. Because both the OES and Standard Poodle are large, it’s certainly a concern.

Severe cases of bloat can lead to gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), which is fatal if not treated. A procedure called gastropexy, which can be done on deep-chested dogs during their spay or neuter surgery, may be performed to prevent bloat from occurring later in life. 

What To Feed a Sheepadoodle

Consider your dog’s size and activity when choosing a dog food. Brown-Bury recommends feeding your Sheepadoodle puppy a large-breed puppy food. “Large-breed puppies have slower bone growth than small-breed puppies, and appropriate nutrition is how you ensure best bone health,” she says. As your dog grows, choose a food appropriate for their life stage. 

How To Feed a Sheepadoodle 

It’s recommended that pet parents feed their Sheepadoodle twice a day. When they’re puppies, create a feeding schedule with three or four mealtimes before switching to twice a day when they reach adulthood.

For dogs at a high risk for GDV, pet parents should take some mealtime precautions:

Feed your dog multiple small meals throughout the day, rather than one large meal.

Restrict exercise before and after meals.

Reduce stress at mealtime.

Do not use elevated dog bowls.

How Much Should You Feed a Sheepadoodle? 

Take care not to overfeed your Sheepadoodle. Yes, they are a large breed, but they can still become overweight, which leads to other health problems. Following the measurement guidelines on the label of an AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials)-approved food and paying close attention to your dog’s body size and composition throughout life is a good way to ensure your pup is getting the needed nutrition without too many added calories. Keep in mind, treats should be included in the daily calorie count for a pup.

Nutritional Tips for Sheepadoodles 

Your veterinarian is the best source of information on any nutritional supplements that might benefit your Sheepadoodle. Since both parent breeds are prone to hip dysplasia, you may want to ask your vet about a high-quality supplement containing ingredients like glucosamine hydrochloride, MSM, omega-3 fatty acids, and chondroitin to promote joint health.

Behavior and Training Tips for Sheepadoodles

Sheepadoodle Personality and Temperament

Ideally, your Sheepadoodle will be adaptable, intelligent, affectionate, and playful, exhibiting the easygoing, good-natured temperament of their OES roots, while still providing all the energetic fun and clownish antics of their poodle parentage. That said, they may more closely resemble one parent breed or the other. Fortunately, since both the Poodle and the OES tend to be great family dogs, a well-socialized Sheepadoodle will likely love children and get along well with other pets with proper introductions and supervision.

This breed also has the potential for some rambunctiousness, says Erin Askeland, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, and Camp Bow Wow’s animal health and behavior consultant. “It’s not so much that they’re super-high energy, but their endurance is pretty incredible,” she says. “If that’s [energy] pent up because they haven’t had enough mental and physical stimulation, that can come off as over the top.”

Ample exercise, mental stimulation, and training throughout your Sheepadoodle’s life is important.

Sheepadoodle Behavior 

The Sheepadoodle’s affectionate nature means this dog can become quite attached to their family, in some cases so much so that they may not be able to handle being left home alone. That’s particularly true if they’re left alone with nothing to do, says Askeland.

“They’re very people-oriented dogs,” she says. And although both breeds have a history of working independently, in those cases, they’re busy with a job to do. “If they’re left alone in a home situation, they might panic a bit and not know what to do.” That could manifest as separation anxiety, but with appropriate mental and physical stimulation, it’s less likely to be an issue, Askeland says.

As long as they’re included in what the family is doing, Sheepadoodles tend to be happy-go-lucky pups. That said, they are generally rather alert, says Askeland.

“They can be quite vocal and ‘barky’ as far as alerting you to people coming to the door or walking by the window,” she says. “That’s really instinctual to them, to tell the world what’s going on.” This means it’s important to give your Sheepadoodle an outlet for that energy, but pet parents should also work on training them to understand that, once you’ve investigated and said it’s okay, they can stop alerting.

Sheepadoodle Training 

Although the Old English Sheepdog and Poodle have differing backgrounds, both dogs were bred to do jobs: The OES is a herding breed, and the Poodle has historically been a hunter and performer. Therefore, it’s no surprise they are an intelligent, capable mix.

“They’re highly motivated and very smart,” Askeland says. “They love to learn and work, so if you’re going to have one in your family, you must be able to do classes and dedicate yourself to training (using positive reinforcement training techniques) as a lifelong process.”

Depending on which side of the family your Sheepadoodle most takes after, ease of training may vary. Poodles tend to be eager to please and easy to train, while the OES has a herding instinct to work more independently, meaning they sometimes require a little more motivation in terms of treats and praise. That means pet parents might need to exercise a little more patience. 

Fun Activities for Sheepadoodles 




Tricks training

Long walks, possibly runs (in cool weather)

Playing in the snow




Going to the dog park

Cuddling with their family

Sheepadoodle Grooming Guide

While many people opt for a “doodle” mix because they want a non-shedding dog, there’s no guarantee that a Sheepadoodle won’t shed. 

The potential for shedding aside, both breeds have significant grooming requirements, so you must be prepared to commit to grooming whatever type of coat your Sheepadoodle pup ends up with. Regular brushing and appointments with a professional groomer will be required.

It’s helpful to show Sheepadoodle puppies that grooming, brushing, nail clipping, and ear cleaning can be a fun bonding time full of treats and praise, so that when they’re older—and much larger—they’re comfortable with the process. 

Coat Care 

Brushing your Sheepadoodle a few times a week (if not daily), paired with a bath and trim scheduled every couple of months should keep her coat in good shape, no matter which parent breed your dog takes after.

Depending on the type of coat your Sheepadoodle ends up with, there could be more potential for matting—which can be very painful for your dog. You could also deal with seasonal shedding. Talk to your veterinarian or groomer about the best ways to keep on top of any coat concerns you have.

Eye Care 

Regular grooming will help keep those cute coats from blocking your Sheepadoodle’s vision. However, since they’re prone to a variety of eye conditions, keep tabs on your pup’s eyes and talk to your vet right away about any changes you notice.

Ear Care

Because Sheepadoodles tend to enjoy playing outside, be sure to check your floppy ears regularly for debris. Keeping them clean and dry (especially if they’ve gone for a swim!) is the best way to keep ear infections at bay.

Considerations for Pet Parents 

The Sheepadoodle’s OES roots make them a fantastic fit for families in cooler climates, but they can also thrive in warmer areas if their coat is clipped appropriately and their family gives them plenty of time to cool off indoors during the summer. While the hope is that this crossbreed won’t shed, that’s not guaranteed—and either way, their grooming needs will be considerable.

All this effort is well worth it, though, for a family that’s prepared to give their dog the time, attention, exercise, and training they need. A Sheepadoodle with good manners will love and amuse their family every day.

Sheepadoodle FAQs

How big do Sheepadoodles get?

It all depends on the dog’s parents! If an OES and Standard Poodle are the parents (an F1 Sheepadoodle), the resulting Sheepadoodle will likely weigh 65-85 pounds as an adult. If a Miniature Poodle is one of the parents, though, the resulting Miniature Sheepadoodle will be smaller.

And with each subsequent generation that moves away from those parent breeds, the more differences you may see in size. An F1B Sheepadoodle, for example, has a Sheepadoodle and a Poodle parent; if the Poodle parent in this situation is a Miniature Poodle, the resulting Sheepadoodle puppy may be smaller than the Sheepadoodle parent.

When do Sheepadoodles stop growing?

A Sheepadoodle typically reaches full-grown status within 1-2 years. This timing may vary a bit, so err on the side of caution when it comes to pursuing activities like running that are best reserved for adult dogs.

Is a Sheepadoodle a good family dog?

Yes! Sheepadoodles tend to be loving and affectionate family dogs that love adults and children alike. However, because they can be quite large and a bit boisterous while playing, care must be taken when allowing them to play with small children. Because kids can be knocked down by accident, supervision is always recommended when it comes to all dogs and children. Pet parents must also take special care to teach their Sheepadoodle that herding children is not appropriate.

Is a Sheepadoodle hypoallergenic?

Because Sheepadoodles are a Poodle mix, the intention is for them to shed very little, if at all. But remember, there’s no guarantee that they won’t shed! Some people with allergies seek out low-shedding breeds and refer to them as “hypoallergenic” dogs—though it’s important to note that no dog breed is 100% allergen-free, and if you have severe allergies, even a doodle mix like the Sheepadoodle may not work for you. Before bringing home a Sheepadoodle puppy, spend time with the breed to see how your allergies react.

Featured Image: Adobe/Logan

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Kristen Seymour

Kristen Seymour is a freelance writer based in Sarasota, Florida, where she shares her office with two senior rescue pets—a hound mix…

Degeneration of the Cornea in Dogs

Corneal Degenerations and Infiltrations in Dogs

The cornea is the transparent lining that covers the external front of the eyeball; that is, the iris and the pupil (respectively, the colored area that expands and contracts to allow light in, and the lens that transmits the light and image to the brain – the black center). The cornea is continuous with the white part of the eye, the sclera, which covers the rest of the eyeball. Beneath the cornea and the sclera is a layer of connective tissue that supports the eyeball from inside, called the stroma.

Corneal degeneration is a one-sided or two-sided condition, secondary to other eye (ocular) or body (systemic) disorders. It is characterized by lipid (fat-soluble molecules) or calcium deposits within the corneal stroma, and/or epithelium (tissue composed of layers of cells that line the inner hollow of the eyeball, beneath the stroma).

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

The cornea appears rough, with distinct margins where the edge of the cornea meets with the sclera. Associated ocular conditions, such as corneal scars, inflammation of the cornea, or chronic uveitis (long-standing inflammatory disease of the front of the eye), can lead to degeneration of the cornea. If one or more of these conditions have been present, having the cornea checked for further damage would be wise for the prevention of severe and permanent damage.


One of the main causes of corneal degeneration is lipid (fat) deposits in the supporting structure of the inner eyeball: the stroma and the epithelium. While lipids are a normal part of the body, being, as they are, a principal structure of living cells, hyper deposits of lipids in the tissues can bring about disorders to the system they are inhabiting. Systemic hyperlipoproteinemia, a metabolic disorder characterized by elevated concentrations of cholesterol and specific lipoprotein particles in the blood plasma, may increase the risk of deposits in the stroma, or may worsen already existing deposits. Hyperlipoproteinemia can be secondary to hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, hyperadrenocorticism (chronic production of too much cortisone), pancreatitis, nephrotic syndrome (a disorder in which the kidneys are damaged), and liver disease.

Hypercalcemia, a condition that is characterized by the production of too much calcium, can increase the risk of deposits of calcium in the stroma, which can also lead to corneal degeneration. Calcium deposits in the stroma are seen less frequently than lipid deposits.

Other disorders that can affect the cornea and its functionality are hypophosphatemia, an electrolyte irregularity distinguished by too little phosphorus in the blood, and hypervitaminosis D, the production of excess vitamin D.

Corneal degeneration is non-inherited, but it does have a higher rate of incidence with miniature schnauzers.


Your veterinarian will look for several indications before settling on a diagnosis. Yourdog ‘s eyes will be coated with fluorescein stain, an orange dye that is viewed in blue light to detect damage to the cornea, or to the presence of foreign objects on the surface of the eye. The stain examination may show a corneal ulcer with varying degrees of edema (swelling). The edema, if present, will appear bluish to gray and can vary in size depending on severity, with indistinct margins. The stain would also show the presence of a corneal scar – which would cause some opacity, appearing gray to white depending on severity. Corneal ulceration may be associated with worsening of the disease, and vision may be affected if the disease is in an advanced state. Severe vision impairment may occur if a primary eye disease, such as uveitis, is found to be present.

If the fluorescein stain does not show any abnormalities, the veterinarian will look for corneal stromal weakness (dystrophy), which affects both eyes, often affecting proportional focus. The cornea will be gray to white in appearance, with distinct margins. This disorder does not retain fluorescein stain and is not associated with inflammation of the eye. If an object has entered the eye (inflammatory cell infiltrate) it will cause the cornea to appear gray to white, with indistinct margins; microscopic examination of the corneal cells will reveal white blood cells, the cells that are responsible for defending the body against foreign materials and infection, indicating that organisms are present in the eye.


If a disease of the eye is present, your veterinarian will treat the condition accordingly. Lipid and calcium deposits that impair vision or create discomfort to the eye, either from a roughened surface, or from disruption and ulceration of the corneal epithelium, may benefit from a vigorous corneal scraping, or a superficial removal of part of the cornea (keratectomy). These procedures would be followed by medical management, since deposits are likely to recur in patients following superficial keratectomy surgery. Your dog’s diet will also be a consideration. If hyperlipoproteinemia is diagnosed, a low-fat diet would be beneficial for hindering further progression. Your veterinarian will advise you on this. Both methods of treatment can be useful for slowing or stopping progression of the disease.

Living and Management

Your doctor will want to monitor your dog’s serum cholesterol and triglycerides to assess the effectiveness of dietary management, if that has been recommended as a maintenance strategy. If a primary disease if present, its will be monitored for progression or regression, and treated according to the indications and comfort needs of your dog.

Muscle Tears in Dogs

What Are Muscle Tears in Dogs?

A muscle tear is an injury to the muscle caused by a trauma to that area, either directly or indirectly. Tears can happen at three points, or areas, of the muscle:

At the point of origin (a bony bump or nodule where the thick, fibrous bands of the tendon, located at the ends of the muscle, attach to the underlying bone). This is the anchor point of the muscle.

In the tendon (the area of thick, fibrous bands that connect the meaty portion of the muscle to the bone or bones that it moves). Tendons act as a tether from the muscle to the anchor point.

Within the muscle belly (the central section of a muscle that is filled with myofibers, which control relaxing and contracting). The muscle belly is responsible for the movements of the muscle; these movements include everything from blinking to running.

A direct trauma can be caused by an incident like a broken leg, where the breaking of the bone moves, stretches, and can sever surrounding muscles and tendons. An indirect trauma is seen when the animal twists or overloads the muscle, causing it to stress to the point of tearing.

Once the location of the tear is identified, it is time to determine what type of tear it is. There are two types of tears:

Partial: This is a tear that only extends partway through the muscle. A partial tear means the muscle is still attached on either end but has lost its full strength and integrity.

Complete: This is a tear that extends through the entire muscle. A full tear means the muscle has been completely detached from where it should be.

While uncomfortable to downright painful, a muscle tear is not a medical emergency. If your pet has a muscle tear, please make an appointment with your regular veterinarian for an exam and workup. There is no need for a very expensive emergency visit for this injury.

Symptoms of Muscle Tears in Dogs

Things to look for as signs of a muscle tear include:

Pain when the area is touched


Swelling of the muscle

Bruising in the painful area

Abnormal limb stance, such as the hock—the angled joint in the middle of a hind leg—resting on the ground

Muscle tears are an internal injury and not always easily seen on the outside. If a tear is mild, symptoms may be difficult to detect. If your dog has any of the signs listed above, something is definitely wrong.

If your dog seems to be favoring one leg and not using it as much as the others, run your hands over all parts of the limb. Swelling from a muscle tear will feel a bit firmer and warmer than other areas. Your dog may flinch when you touch this area.

By watching and noting how your dog walks, and running your hands over the painful limb, you can begin to better understand where your dog is hurt. Relay this important information to your veterinarian.

Causes of Muscle Tears in Dogs

Our canine friends are very athletic and can get themselves injured in many ways. Commonly, these include:

Engaging in heavy exercise with no warmup

Jumping higher or longer than the dog can comfortably do, thus overloading the muscles

Wrenching or tweaking the joints while jumping and playing

Chronic stress, such as long-distance running on hard surfaces

Any muscle can tear if it is stretched past its capacity, but the most common muscle tears are seen in the major muscles of the front and back legs.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Muscle Tears in Dogs

Your veterinarian has many diagnostic tools to help identify a torn muscle:

Blood work can show elevations in enzymes (specifically creatine phosphokinase), supporting the diagnosis of a torn muscle.

X-rays allow your veterinarian to see the soft tissue and bone within the injured area. Some tears can cause fragments of bone to pull away from the main bone. Other types of tears may cause bony calcifications where the tendon attaches. Occasionally, x-rays will show where there are areas of soft tissue swelling within the dog.

Ultrasounds can reveal disruption of tendon fibers within the muscle where a tear is located.

CT or MRI scans give the highest level of detail, with computerized 360-degree views of your dog’s structures. Your regular veterinarian may not have this specialized imaging equipment but can refer you to a specialty clinic that does.

Treatment of Muscle Tears in Dogs

Supportive care for a partial muscle tear involves immediate rest, placing the dog on a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication, and applying a cold compress to help decrease swelling. Depending on which muscle is torn, a mild compression bandage can be placed to help alleviate swelling.

For mild partial tears, your veterinarian may start a passive physical therapy program intended to prevent complications during healing. After a week or so of therapy, and once cleared by your veterinarian, your dog may engage in restricted and carefully controlled exercise, such as short leash walks (no rampages at the dog park, jumping, or running).

Complete muscle tears need to be surgically corrected for your dog to regain full function of the muscle and of the portion of the body that the muscle moves. Surgery is usually performed a few days after the injury occurs to allow for the swelling and inflammation to go down. After surgery, the dog generally has a passive physical therapy routine, followed by at least a month of strictly controlled exercise to allow for proper healing and prevent further injury.

Can Muscle Tears in Dogs Heal on Their Own?

With supportive care and rest, many partial tears can develop fibrous scar tissue and heal themselves. Complete tears will never heal back to normal on their own. They may cause further problems down the road if the severed end of the muscle develops scar tissue attaching to surrounding tissues, disrupting how the surrounding muscle functions. A complete tear will ideally be surgically fixed and allowed to heal for a period before returning to normal function.

Recovery and Management of Muscle Tears in Dogs

Which muscle, where it is located, and what type of tear occurred are the main determinants of how long it takes to recover. Tears involving tendons and ligaments require a much longer time frame, because they do not heal as fast as muscle due to lower blood flow in these areas. A mild tear may take as little as a few weeks to return to normal function, while a complete tear requiring surgery may take months.

In both types of tears, restricted activity is key. After the initial period of rest to allow the swelling, pain, and inflammation to recede, carefully controlled activity (such as short leash walks or passive range-of-motion physical therapy) is important.

Complete inactivity and immobilization of a muscle or group of muscles after an injury can lead to permanent contraction of those muscles. Permanent contraction is where the muscles are pulled tight and remain that way. A permanently contracted muscle can no longer function, and the limb becomes stiff and unable to move. Therefore, controlled exercise is extremely important.

Prevention of Muscle Tears in Dogs

A few simple steps can help minimize the chance that your dog will get a muscle tear:

Let your dog warm up before activity. A five-minute walk can help to get blood flowing and make the muscles more elastic before the dog does a high-energy or high-load activity.

Make sure your dog is supervised when playing with other animals. Dogs can get wild and overstretch their muscles easily while having a blast in your yard or at a dog park.

Avoid games or toys with an increased chance of causing a muscle tear or a chronic muscle injury. Games where the animal pivots or turns quickly, has sudden stops, or makes a large leap all come with increased risks for muscle injury. These games include fetch, dock diving, hunting, agility sports, and herding.

Muscle Tears in Dogs FAQS

Is a torn muscle the same as a pulled muscle in dogs?

A muscle tear is the complete or partial ripping of the fibers that make up a muscle’s structure, whereas a pulled muscle is an overstretching of the components.

Can dogs pull a muscle?

Yes, a pulled muscle is one where the muscle fibers within the muscle have been stretched beyond their capacity, but are not torn apart.

How can you tell if a dog has a pulled muscle?

Dogs with a pulled muscle will have symptoms similar to those observed with a torn muscle; however, the symptoms will be milder. Things to look for when a muscle is pulled are muscle spasms, weakness, cramping, and immobility, as well as pain, bruising, and swelling.

Featured Image: iStock/Anna-av

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Megan Keller, DVM


Dr. Megan Keller attended North Dakota State University/NDSU in Fargo, North Dakota to earn a Bachelor in Animal Sciences. During these…

Tumor of the Thymus in Dogs

Thymoma in Dogs

The thymus is an organ in front of the heart in the rib cage in which T lymphocytes mature and multiply.  A thymoma is a tumor originating from the epithelium (layer of tissue covering the thymus) of the thymus.  Thymomas are rare tumors in both cats and dogs and they are associated with myasthenia gravis.  Myasthenia gravis is a severe autoimmune disease which causes certain muscle groups to tire easily.

Symptoms and Types

CoughingIncreased breathing rateTrouble breathingCranial caval syndrome — a side effect of heartworm infestation, which often leads to swelling of the head, neck, or forelimbsMyasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease that leads to muscle weakness, enlarged esophagus, and frequent regurgitation





Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on the patient. He/she will take a thorough history from the owner. Your veterinarian will order a biochemical profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel.

Thoracic X-rays should definitely be taken. They may show a cranial mediastinal mass (a mass in between the lungs), pleural effusion (build-up of fluid in the lungs due to aspiration pneumonia) and megaesophagus.

A blood test for antibodies to acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter causing muscles to contract) receptors should be performed so as to rule out myasthenia gravis. A Tensilon test should also be done to test for myasthenia gravis.

A fine-needle aspirate of the mass will show mature lymphocytes (white blood cells) and epithelial cells (cells forming the outside layer of the thymus gland).


Patients should be hospitalized in preparation for surgery to remove the thymoma. They are highly invasive and difficult to remove in dogs. (They are easier to remove in cats.) Dogs with concurrent myasthenia gravis and aspiration pneumonia will have a poorer prognosis despite surgical resection. Twenty to thirty percent of thymomas are malignant and spread throughout the chest and/or abdomen.

Living and Management

If the tumor is completely surgically resectable (and has not spread), the patient will be cured.  Your veterinarian will schedule follow-up appointments every three months with you to retake thoracic x-rays of your pet in case the tumor should recur.


The “little lion dog” is a small, bright, and lively animal. It was a companion breed in pre-Renaissance Europe. Ladies of the court groomed it to look like a little lion. Lively, positive and outgoing, the breed has great style. 

Physical Characteristics

The compact and small Löwchen is long in proportion to its height and is strong-boned. Its movement is effortless, with a good drive and reach. Its dense and long coat, which is generally clipped into a lion trim, is moderately soft with moderate waves. The Löwchen also has a short broad skull and muzzle, and a lively, watchful, and intense expression.

Personality and Temperament

The Löwchen is responsive to commands and generally willing to please, showing proper devotion to its family. Some dogs may dig or bark a lot. This affectionate, curious, and lively dog also combines qualities of a calm soul-mate and playful spirit, thus making it a nice companion for a calm family.


Although the Löwchen is not meant for living outdoors, it loves access to a yard during the day. Short daily walks or a vigorous game is sufficient to satisfy the exercise needs of the Löwchen, but it is especially fond of mental challenges.

Its dense coat requires combing or brushing on alternate days. Clipping, meanwhile, should be done once or twice a month, in order to preserve the lion trim, the preferred choice among pet owners.


The Löwchen, which has an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years, may suffer from minor health problems like patellar luxation or be prone to serious heart conditions. To identify some of these issues early, a veterinarian may recommend knee and cardiac exams for dogs of this breed.

History and Background

Admitted into the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Non-Sporting Group in 1999, the Löwchen or Little Lion Dog, was also known by the name of Le Petit Chien Lion in France. It shares a common background with other dogs belonging to the Bichon family, including the Havanese, Bichon Frisé, and others.

France, Germany, and Russia claim to be the native lands of the breed, but the exact place or time of the dog’s origin is obscure. However, certain dogs looking like the Löwchen and having a lion trim have been seen in 16th-century German art.

The coat, according to the conventional lion trim, is clipped to a short length from the last rib to the hock joint. The front legs, above the pastern, are clipped from the elbow. The feet are also clipped and roughly half the tail is given a clipped look, with a plume at its tip. Long hair in other parts is not clipped.

The breed’s numbers diminished greatly in the ’60s but, through the attempts of two breeders, many dogs were brought from Germany to Britain. Those dogs were crossed extensively, which led to the formation of the breed in the United States and Britain. By 1996, the Löwchen gained entry into the AKC Miscellaneous class.

Is Dry Nose a Sign of Illness in Dogs?

By Sarah Wooten, DVM

How Dogs Use Their Nose

Dog noses are fascinating little structures. Not only do dogs use their noses for breathing, dog noses also drain excessive tears from the eyes through tear ducts. In addition, they have sweat glands, which help to cool the body through sweating.

Dog noses are also involved in collecting information about the environment. They do this through sniffing, but not all of the “information” is carried through the nasal passage. When a dog licks her nose, she transfers all sorts of scents to specialized scent detection olfactory glands located on the roof the mouth. This allows the dog to process her environment.

Check out your dog the next time she is intently sniffing something; you will notice that she sniff, sniff, sniffs, and then licks her nose, transferring all the information about what other dogs, cats, squirrels, or other creatures might have left — a “scent mail”, if you will — for her to read.

Does a Warm, Dry Nose Mean a Dog is Sick?

Clients often ask me if their dog’s nose is warm and dry, does that mean the dog is sick? Not necessarily, I tell them. Some dogs have dry noses because they just don’t lick their noses often. Sometimes, however, a dog will have a warm, dry nose in relation to a fever, but it can get tricky. That is because if a dog has the flu, she can have a fever with a warm, dry, nose, or a wet, runny nose.

Dogs can also lick their noses excessively due to neurological conditions (partial seizures), excessive anxiety, behavioral reasons (dogs will lick their muzzles to signal submission), or because their nose itches from allergies.

If your dog is acting sick, feels warm, seems to licking her nose excessively, and/or is coughing or sneezing, then it is time to the see your veterinarian to figure out what is wrong, and then fix it.

Diseases That Can Cause Dry Nose in Dogs

There are some diseases that can cause a chronically dry nose. Auto-immune disorders, such as lupus or pemphigus, can cause changes in the surface of the nose that leads to dryness, cracking, and bleeding.

Auto-immune disorders are diagnosed with blood and urine testing, and a biopsy of the nose. They are treated with immuno-suppressive drugs, such as prednisone.

Severe allergic reactions to pollen, mold, food, etc. can lead to redness and swelling of the nose, as well as to excessive rubbing and scratching of the face. Allergies can be treated with anti-histamines, and in severe cases, steroids must also be prescribed.

Dry Nose from Sunburn and Face Shape in Dogs

Excessive sun exposure, especially in dogs that have pink skin, can cause sunburned skin on the nose that can peel and crack.

Still other dogs, especially brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs, can’t lick their nose very well because of the conformation of their skull. These dogs will often develop a lumpy, crusty, chalky, cracked, uncomfortable nose in place of the cute little black button that used to sit on their face.

Treatment for Dry Nose in Dogs

For a case of chronically dry nose, your dog may benefit from a prescription lotion specifically designed to hydrate and nourish the skin on the nose.

Because dogs are nose lickers, whatever lotion is used must be safe for ingestion. Most skin lotions that are sold over the counter are not safe for ingestion. It is for this reason that I do not recommend treating the nose with any over the counter lotions unless your veterinarian has specifically recommended it to you.

If you notice changes in the way the skin on your dog’s nose looks, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss options in diagnosis and treatment.

Read More

5 Dog Nose Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses?

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Sarah Wooten, DVM


Dr. Sarah Wooten graduated from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. A member of the American Society of Veterinary Journalists,…

Hereditary, Non-Inflammatory Muscular Disease in Dogs

Non-inflammatory Myopathy—Hereditary X-Linked Muscular Dystrophy in Dogs

Muscular Dystrophy is an inherited, progressive, and non-inflammatory degenerative muscular disease caused by a deficiency of dystrophyin, a muscle-membrane protein. This generalized muscle disorder is primarily seen in newborn dogs or those less than one year old. Male dogs are also more susceptible than females, as are golden retrievers, Irish terriers, Pembroke Welsh corgis, Samoyeds, rottweilers, Belgian shepherds, rat terriers, Brittany spaniels, Labrador retriever, German short-haired pointers, and miniature schnauzers — all of which often suffer from dystrophin deficiency.

Symptoms and Types

VomitingExcessive drooling (ptyalism)Exercise intoleranceAbnormal gaitMuscle wastingIncreased muscle mass of some muscles (e.g., tongue)Aspiration pneumonia (caused by choking on vomit material)Hunched backSway backIneffective suckling in newbornsHeart failure


Dystrophin deficiency due to inherited defect.


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then conduct a complete physical examination as well as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC). Creatine kinase enzyme levels may be elevated due to the dystrophin deficiency. Liver enzymes are also elevated in dogs with this disorder.

The most hopeful test for reaching a definitive diagnosis, however, involves taking a muscle biopsy. The muscle tissue sample is sent to a veterinary pathologist to verify abnormal levels of dystrophin.



No treatment is proven to be effective. Glucocorticosteriods are often given to dogs suffering from non-inflammatory muscular dystrophy, but their effectiveness is variable and their exact mode of action in this disease is still unknown.


Living and Management

Dogs with this disorder are prone to aspiration pneumonia or cardiac disease and must evaluated at regular intervals for such complications. Be vigilant of complications and contact your veterinarian should problems arise. However, symptoms may stabilize after six months in Golden retrievers.

Unfortunately, the overall prognosis is very poor in dogs with non-inflammatory muscular dystrophy. Often, your veterinarian will discourage breeding the animal, due to the genetic nature of the disorder.

Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotto Romagnolo is an ancient Italian water dog bred to use their sensitive snout to sniff out truffles. But even if you are not in the market for fancy tubers, Lagotto dogs are sweet and attentive pups who, according to the Lagotto Romagnolo Club of America (LRCA), are eager to please and easy to train.

The small- to medium-size breed is powerfully built. A full-grown Lagotto Romagnolo stands 16–19 inches tall and weighs 24–35 pounds, with iconic curly locks that prevent water from soaking through their coat. According to the Lagotto Romagnolo Club of Canada (LRCC), the dogs are fantastic swimmers and can adapt to almost any lifestyle with enough exercise and mental engagement. 

Caring for a Lagotto Romagnolo

A Lagotto can be remarkably shy and requires extensive socialization as a puppy, according to the LRCA, to set them up for a lifetime of companionship where they are ready for anything. When Lagotto Romagnolo puppies are exposed to new people, animals, and environments early, they thrive.

Lagotti Romagnoli (the proper plural of Lagotto Romagnolo) do best in active homes where they get lots of attention. They need to be mentally stimulated; if they grow bored, they can become destructive in an effort to keep themselves busy.

Lagotto Romagnolo Health Issues

Lagotti Romagnoli are typically healthy dogs who live a very long life—it’s not abnormal for them to live to be 15–17 years old! But, like all dogs, they can develop some health conditions over the course of their life.

Storage Disease

Storage disease, sometimes called Lagotto storage disease and lysosomal storage disease, is a neurological ailment that can be seen in Lagotto Romagnolo puppies and dogs under 4 years old. It’s a progressive, breed-specific condition that leads to behavior changes, including:

Failure to thrive




Many dogs with severe storage disease are humanely euthanized due to the poor quality of life. Reputable Lagotto Romagnolo breeders test their dogs for this condition and only breed dogs who are LSD carriers to dogs who do not have the gene.

Benign Familial Juvenile Epilepsy

Another genetic disease commonly found in a Lagotto dog is juvenile epilepsy. Seizures are usually observed in puppies as young as five weeks old, according to the Lagotto Romagnolo Club of Great Britain.

The ailment will usually resolve by the time the Italian water dogs are eight to 13 weeks old and some may not display any noticeable symptoms. Testing is important for knowing if your dog is a carrier for juvenile epilepsy.


Hyperuricosuria is a condition that makes dogs more likely to have kidney stones due to higher levels of uric acid in their urine. It is tough to treat and can require surgery to remove the bladder/kidney stones. Carriers of the disease should not breed Lagotto puppies.

Cerebellar Abiotrophy

Cerebellar abiotrophy is a degenerative disease in the brain that causes dogs to have trouble controlling their movements or keeping their balance. Dogs with the ailment have a much shorter life expectancy and require additional care.

What To Feed a Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotti Romagnoli, as with all dogs, do best when fed a well-balanced diet approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The food must be formulated for your dog’s current life stage: puppy, adult, or senior.

How To Feed a Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto dogs should be fed twice a day. Lagotto Romagnolo puppies need to eat more frequently—about three or four times a day on a consistent schedule.

How Much Should You Feed a Lagotto Romagnolo?

Your AAFCO-approved dog food will give you guidance on how much to feed your Lagotto based on your pup’s weight. But the best way to determine portions is to talk to your vet; they can give you a recommendation based on your dog’s age, lifestyle, and health history.

Pet parents should resist the adorable begging from these Italian water dogs because obesity can lead to additional health problems, such as joint issues.

Nutritional Tips for Lagotti Romagnoli

As long as your pup is eating a well-balanced diet, they shouldn’t need any supplements. Never give your dog supplements without speaking to your vet first.

Behavior and Training Tips for Lagotti Romagnoli

Lagotto Romagnolo Personality and Temperament

According to the LRCA, Lagotti are active but not hyper. This breed is an avid problem-solver and eager to please the people they love. They enjoy learning new things and being active, and one of their favorite pastimes is going for a swim.

Lagotti Romagnoli do great in a family environment and don’t necessarily need to be digging up truffles to be happy. But they do need to keep their smart minds sharp with lots of mental stimulation.

Lagotto Romagnolo Behavior

This breed requires robust companionship, be it with a human or other dogs. The curious pups tend to bark, and they love to dig. Keeping your Lagotto dog well-exercised can help curb these undesirable behaviors.

Lagotto Romagnolo Training

Lagotto Romagnolo dogs relish an opportunity to train and are eager to please. As with all dogs, they do best with positive reinforcement training where they are rewarded for good behavior.

But a pet parent should know that a Lagotto’s intelligence is a double-edged sword: They need regular and robust stimulation and training to prevent them from constantly using their brain to thwart any dog-proofing measures (like digging their way under your fence).

Fun Activities for Lagotti Romagnoli


Nose work

Dock diving





Lagotto Romagnolo Grooming Guide

Thanks to the Lagotto Romagnolo’s curly coat, these pups don’t shed much and are considered “hypoallergenic” dogs. And while there is no such thing as a 100% hypoallergenic dog, Lagotti Romagnoli can be a good fit for some people with allergies.

Skin Care

Lagotto dogs don’t require any special skin care. But because these are active dogs who love to be outside, you’ll need to check them for ticks, burrs, and anything else they may have picked up on their last adventure.

Coat Care

Lagotti Romagnoli have curly fur that gives them a teddy bear-like appearance. But these curls can easily become matted, so regular brushing with a metal comb is a must. Bathe them up to once a month, as needed.

Eye Care

Keep the hair around your Lagotto’s eyes trimmed. This ensures your dog’s vision isn’t obstructed, and it also prevents the fur from causing irritation or other eye issues.

If you notice changes in your dog’s eyes, such as cloudiness, contact your vet.

Ear Care

Ear hair can flourish in Lagotti, so pet parents need to trim it regularly. This will reduce the likelihood of ear infections.

It’s also important for pet parents to clean their dog’s ears whenever they spend time in water. If moisture becomes trapped in the canal during a swim or a bath, this can cause a painful infection. Contact your vet if you notice redness, odor, or debris in your Lagotto Romagnolo’s ears.

Considerations for Pet Parents

The perfect home for a Lagotto Romagnolo is one that is active and able to continuously put energy toward their dog. The breed requires constant mental and physical stimulation; without an outlet, they might become bored and destructive. Lagotti thrive in a family that can easily incorporate the pup into their routine with water sports or hiking.

Lagotto Romagnolo FAQs

Are Lagotto Romagnolo dogs hypoallergenic?

Lagotto Romagnolo dogs are considered to be hypoallergenic, even though there’s really no such thing. That said, their curly coat can make them a good fit for some people with dog allergies. Before bringing home a Lagotto Romagnolo puppy, spend time with the breed to see how your allergies react.  

Are Lagotto Romagnolo dogs low-maintenance?

These Italian truffle dogs are not low-maintenance. Lagotti Romagnoli require regular mental stimulation and exercise to be at their happiest (and least destructive!). Also, their gorgeous coat requires regular upkeep. 

How much does a Lagotto Romagnolo dog cost?

The Lagotto Romagnolo price can range from $1,500 to $2,500. However, the Lagotto Romagnolo Club of America operates a rescue non-profit that works to help displaced Lagotto dogs find families.

Featured Image: Adobe/cherryandbees

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Zack Newman

10 Ways to Calm Your Dog Naturally

There’s nothing more loyal, companionable, or loving than a dog, but dogs can get anxious and stressed just like humans.

Learning the best ways to keep a dog calm naturally is important for their health and happiness. Here are some things you can try to calm your furry friend before talking to your veterinarian about a prescription option.

Why Are Dogs Anxious?

Anxiety can be caused by anything from separation anxiety and fear of loud noises to changes in routine and environment. It’s common for dogs to show signs of anxiety in the form of:

Excessive barking


Destructive behavior




Loss of appetite

Trying to hide or escape from the stressful situation

Recognizing these signs of anxiety is crucial to ensuring you give your pet the best care possible.

Tips for Calming Your Dog Naturally

1. Create and Maintain a Consistent Schedule

It’s essential to establish a routine for your dog so they feel comfortable and secure. Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive on predictability and structure. Feeding times, exercise times, playtimes, and sleep times are all part of a routine.

Stay consistent as much as possible so your dog doesn’t get confused or stressed. Small changes in a schedule can trigger stress. Maintaining a regular feeding schedule and exercising your dog regularly will keep them healthy and mentally stimulated. Giving your dog a set bedtime will also ensure they get a good night’s sleep.

2. Play Music or White Noise

When dogs experience anxiety, music or white noise can help calm them down. This provides a soothing and calming environment, and it can naturally reduce their stress and anxiety levels. White noise or music can also drown out the unpredictable noises from thunderstorms or fireworks that trigger anxiety.

Luckily, many apps and playlists are specifically curated to calm and soothe dogs. Music therapy helps reduce barking by distracting the dog from the triggers that make your pet bark. Relaxation and comfort can be achieved by using music or white noise, both of which provide a calming environment.

3. Dress Them in a Thundershirt

Thundershirts® are garments that help dogs cope with many types of stressful situations, including thunderstorms, car rides, trips to the veterinarian, or fireworks. A Thundershirt® works by gently applying pressure to your dog’s body, which can make them feel hugged and soothe any anxieties. As a result of this pressure, the dog stays calm in situations that would normally distress them, similar to the way humans use a weighted blanket.

4. Exercise And Playtime Are Important

Playtime and exercise are essential for a dog’s mental and physical health. In addition to burning off excess energy, regular exercise releases endorphins, which reduce anxiety and stress in dogs.

You and your pup can enjoy many activities together, like walking, playing fetch, tug-of-war, or running around the backyard. Participating in these activities with your dog will benefit them not only physically, but also mentally.

5. Keep Your Dog Mentally Stimulated

Physical exercise isn’t the only thing dogs need. To prevent boredom and anxiety, keep your pup’s mind active and engaged.

Mental stimulation can be provided by using puzzle toys and training sessions. Dogs can learn new tricks and cues and use their problem-solving skills through these methods. Playing with other dogs and engaging in interactive play with their pet parents can also help stimulate your dog’s mind.

6. Try Pheromones

Dogs communicate with each other by releasing pheromones. These chemicals are released to show dominance, submission, or to attract a mate. When dogs are in a new environment, or are feeling anxious, synthetic pheromones like Adaptil® can help calm them down. In addition to diffusers, sprays, and collars, Adaptil is available in a variety of forms.

7. Groom Your Dog

Natural ways to calm your dog can even include grooming. Regular grooming keeps your dog clean and healthy, and it gives you and your furry friend a bonding experience. The act of brushing your dog’s coat releases endorphins that reduce stress and promote relaxation.

8. Give Them Natural Supplements

It’s also possible to calm your dog with natural supplements. Popular supplements include:

Nutramax® Solliquin Soft Chews

VetriScience® Composure Soft Chews

Purina® Calming Care Supplement Powder

Always chat with your veterinarian first to determine the best supplement based on your dog’s health history.

9. Use Desensitization Techniques

To help your dog overcome fears and anxieties, desensitization techniques can be used. In a controlled and positive environment, gradually expose your dog to the stimulus that’s giving them anxiety. You can play a recording of a low-level noise at first, and gradually increase the volume if your dog’s afraid of loud noises.

You can use counterconditioning, which associates the source of anxiety with positive experiences, and systematic desensitization, which gradually exposes your dog to anxiety while providing relaxation techniques. It’s important to work with your veterinarian or behaviorist to ensure you approach this desensitization in a safe manner for your pup.

10. Discuss Next Steps with Your Veterinarian

A holistic plan for calming your dog naturally should be developed with your veterinarian if your pup shows signs of stress and anxiety. Other treatments your veterinarian might recommend are behavior modification therapy, prescription medication, or referral to a veterinary behaviorist. Seeking advice from your veterinarian can help you decide which natural calming techniques are best for your dog.

Keep in mind that every dog is unique, so it’s important to remember what works for one dog may not work for another. If you are concerned about the anxiety level of your dog, always consult a veterinarian.

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Nicole LaForest, LVT, BSc, MPH

Nicole LaForest is a licensed veterinary technician and public health official residing in Seattle, WA. Since graduating with her…

Skin Cancer (Mucocutaneous Plasmacytoma) in Dogs

Mucocutaneous Plasmacytoma

A mucocutaneous plasmacytoma is a rapidly developing skin tumor of plasma cells origin. A form of white blood cell, plasma cells produce antibodies, which help the immune system identify and neutralize foreign organisms. Often, mucocutaneous plasmacytomas are found on the dog’s trunk and legs. They are also most common in mixed-breed dogs and cocker spaniels.

Symptoms and Types

In addition to being found on the trunk and legs, mucocutaneous plasmacytomas may develop on the mouth, feet, and ears (lip tumors are particularly small and often overlooked). These tumors are generally solitary, solid nodules, either raised or ulcerated.


The underlying cause for the development of these tumors has yet to be identified.


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination, as well a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC) — the results of which should be normal, unless some concurrent disease is also present. The most popular diagnostic procedure is to aspirate a nodule and send it to a veterinary pathologist for further testing. If abnormal tumor cells are identified, your dog may be suffering from mucocutaneous plasmacytoma(s).


If the tumor has become invasive, surgery is typically recommended to excise the tumor and surrounding tissue. Radiotherapy is also conducted in some dogs in order to destroy the neoplastic tissue.

Living and Management

Fortunately, most dogs respond well to surgery and radiotherapy, and overall prognosis is excellent with treatment.