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Walking Dandruff in Dogs

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What Is Walking Dandruff in Dogs?

“Walking dandruff” is the common name for cheyletiellosis, a skin disease in dogs caused by the Cheyletiella mite.

Cheyletiella is a contagious skin parasite that results in scaling of the skin. Sometimes, in a severe infestation, the white mites can be seen walking across the skin, hence the nickname “walking dandruff.”

Cheyletiellosis affects dogs, cats, rabbits, and humans. Due to regular flea-and-tick-prevention product use, Cheyletiella is not a common parasite. These products are not labeled specifically for Cheyletiella mites, but they may reduce a pet’s risk of contracting walking dandruff. Cheyletiellosis is more commonly found in puppies and kittens in unclean or less sanitary conditions or in kennels.

If left untreated, cheyletiellosis may lead to more severe skin infections and chronic skin disease. When the immune system is busy fighting chronic inflammation, it allows secondary bacteria and yeast to grow. This may result in excessive scaling, hair loss, itching, and discomfort.

Symptoms of Walking Dandruff in Dogs

The most common sign of walking dandruff in dogs is white flakes on the skin and coat. The presence of white mites contributes to the appearance of excessive dandruff.

Keep in mind that most pets with walking dandruff do not scratch a lot. However, they may have an allergic reaction to the Cheyletiella mite and become very itchy. They may also develop scaly, crusty skin, especially on their back. Sneezing may also accompany a Cheyletiella infestation in some dogs.

Causes of Walking Dandruff in Dogs

As noted, walking dandruff is caused by Cheyletiella mites. These mites are very contagious and are most often found in large kennels, boarding facilities, groomers, or where dogs have close contact with other dogs.

The mite lives on the hair, only visiting the skin to feed. The mite spends most of its life on the pet but can survive in the surrounding environment for up to 10 days. An infected pet’s bedding or a kennel they have been in can be a source of infection to other pets.

Walking dandruff is a zoonotic disease, an infection that can be spread between animals and humans. So, other pets and humans in your household are at risk of contracting the Cheyletiella mite from an infected pet. Fortunately, humans are not the preferred host for this parasite. Symptoms of human infection are itchy, red bumps that usually resolve after the pet is properly treated.

If your pet is diagnosed with walking dandruff, talk to your healthcare provider about any recommended testing and treatment for you and your family.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Walking Dandruff in Dogs

The most common tests veterinarians use to diagnose walking dandruff are skin scrapes and acetate tape preparations. A skin scrape is a procedure that uses a small blade to scrape cells off the surface of your dog’s skin to determine the type of mite. During an acetate tape preparation, your vet uses a piece of tape to collect flakes of dandruff from your pet’s coat, places them on a microscope slide, and looks for Cheyletiella mites.

Other skin tests that are commonly used include:

A Wood’s lamp examination using ultraviolet (UV) light, or blacklight

Fungal cultures where hairs are plucked and placed in a growth medium

Skin cytology from impression smears, scrapes, or plucks

Bloodwork to rule out underlying thyroid disease or other endocrine conditions

Skin biopsies

Treatment of Walking Dandruff in Dogs

There are several treatments for cheyletiellosis in dogs, including topical treatments:

Lime sulfur baths

Topical flea and tick spot-on (Revolution, Frontline)

Spray (Frontline spray) products

Oral medications, including Trifexis, Sentinel, and Heartgard

Your veterinarian can help guide treatment of your pet. Remember that all animals in the home (dogs, cats, and rabbits) exposed to Cheyletiella should be treated.

Some treatments are safe for some dogs but not for cats, rabbits, and certain dog breeds or ages. Ask your veterinarian which treatment is best for your pet and follow the instructions. Do not discontinue a treatment before it is completed.

In addition to treating all pets in your household, it is important to treat the environment as well. Remember that Cheyletiella can survive off the animal and in the environment for up to 10 days. Wash all bedding your pet sleeps on with hot water and detergent. Thoroughly clean the house using cleaners that are designed to treat fleas and remove adult mites, and follow the directions on the product label.

If a pet’s bedding is not washed or all pets in the household are not treated, repeat infections can occur. Also, some animals can be silent carriers and have mites on their coat, but they may not show obvious clinical signs of cheyletiellosis.

Pets are no longer contagious 3 weeks after treatment. Most treatment programs last at least 3 weeks.

Recovery and Management of Walking Dandruff in Dogs

The prognosis for recovery from cheyletiellosis, or walking dandruff, is excellent when it is treated appropriately. Walking dandruff in humans heals with time, even without treatment, because humans are accidental hosts, and the infection resolves itself.

Untreated pets will continue to be infected with Cheyletiella mites for the long term and may develop chronic skin disease and secondary skin infections.

Dogs that have been infected and treated can become infected again if they are re-exposed. Having cheyletiellosis does not make them more likely to get it in the future unless they are re-exposed to an untreated source.

Prevention of Walking Dandruff in Dogs

Many flea and tick products that are on the market today, such as fipronil (Frontline) and selamectin (Revolution), are very effective against walking dandruff in dogs.

To reduce your pet’s risk of contracting walking dandruff, keep them up to date on their topical or oral flea and tick preventative medication.


Chailleux N, Paradis M. Efficacy of selamectin in the treatment of naturally acquired cheyletiellosis in cats. Can Vet J. 2002; 43(10); 767-770.

Grant D. Diagnosing and Treating Cheyletiellosis. May 5, 2018.

Jeromin AM. Cheyletiella: the under-diagnosed mite. August 1, 2006.

Patterson, James W. MD, FACP, FAAD. Science Direct. Weedon’s Skin Pathology. 2021.

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Melissa Boldan, DVM


Dr. Melissa Boldan graduated from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. She initially practiced mixed animal…

Ringworm in Dogs

What is Ringworm in Dogs?

While the term “ringworm” may conjure up the image of a long, wriggly intestinal parasite, this is inaccurate, as ringworm is not actually a worm at all. Ringworm is a name that has long been used because of the circular itchy rash that typically appears on the skin of an infected animal. Ringworm is a fungal infection that can affect the skin, hair, or nails. The medical term for this type of infection is called dermatophytosis. The most common fungal organisms that can cause ringworm are Microsporum and Trichophyton. The fungus feeds on dead hair or skin cells.  

While ringworm is most commonly found in cats, it can also be contracted by dogs and humans. It is highly contagious and zoonotic, meaning it can spread from pets to people and vice versa. 

Symptoms of Ringworm in Dogs

In dogs, the areas usually affected by ringworm are the face, ears, tail, and feet. Symptoms generally include one or more of the following: 

Circular areas of hair loss, often with a red and crusty edge 

Broken hair and a poor hair coat 

Dry, scaly skin or areas of excessive dandruff 

Inflamed areas of skin 

Darkened patches of skin 

Itchiness, scratching, or excessive grooming 

Inflamed nail beds or darkened or dry nails 

Dry, brittle, or misshapen nails

Causes of Ringworm in Dogs

Most dogs with ringworm contract it from direct contact with an infected animal (likely a dog or cat) or human. It is possible for dogs to have the ringworm fungus on their body but show no external signs of the disease; however, they can still pass the disease on to humans or other animals.  

Ringworm can also be passed on through contaminated objects such as brushes, dog beds, and toys, as well as surfaces that are difficult to clean, like rugs, wool, and wood. 

Some types of ringworm fungi live in the soil, and a dog could contract ringworm by digging around in the dirt. This is especially true in warm and humid environments. The spores of the fungi that cause ringworm are quite hardy and can live in the environment for at least 18 months. 

The types of dogs that become infected with ringworm tend to be those with weaker immune systems, such as very young or old dogs, as well as dogs with diseases that weaken their immune systems, or dogs that have recently come from long term stays at kennels or shelters. Boston Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, and Russell Terriers are genetically more prone to ringworm infections than other breeds. 

Dogs that have skin conditions are also predisposed to ringworm. The skin usually functions as a health protective barrier, but if a pet has an open wound, fresh scratches, fleas, or a chronic skin condition they are more susceptible to an infection.  

Infection with ringworm occurs when spores attach to damaged skin. Lesions (abnormal areas) on the skin will typically appear about 1-3 weeks after exposure.  

How Veterinarians Diagnose Ringworm in Dogs

There are a few procedures that your vet may use when diagnosing ringworm, the most common of which are a Wood’s lamp examination, a fungal culture, and a PCR test. 

A Wood’s lamp emits long-wave ultraviolet light (a type of “black light”) to help detect bacteria. The fungus Microsporum canis (the most common cause of ringworm infections in pets) causes a chemical reaction when it attaches to hair follicles, causing them to glow when a Wood’s lamp shines. No fluorescence will be seen on a pet that is an asymptomatic carrier.  

This “bedside” examination is effective in about 72% of M. canis cases with active skin lesions. Fluorescence usually becomes visible about 5-18 days after an infection takes hold. It is a great place to start when a vet is suspicious a dog may have ringworm.   

A fungal culture (sometimes called a DTM—dermatophyte test medium) is where a few hairs, scales, or scabs are collected and placed on a culture medium (a substance for growing microorganisms) and the contaminant is allowed to grow.  

Your vet will then look at the growth under a microscope to determine if one of the fungal species that cause ringworm is present. Positive signs can show after 3-5 days, but final results can take 10-21 days. One benefit of this test is that it does not require an active skin lesion; any hair sample can be tested. 

PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing is the newest way to diagnose ringworm. This test is also done on hairs and is specifically looking for fungal DNA (material with the fungus’s genetic information). The PCR test is much faster than a culture, and results are usually available in 3-5 days.  

PCR is a great test for an initial diagnosis of ringworm; however, it is not suitable for follow-up testing to ensure that the ringworm has been fully cleared. This is because PCR testing looks for DNA but cannot distinguish whether the DNA is from living fungus. Fungal culture testing is usually the recommended follow-up test to make sure the infection is completely gone. 

Treatment for Ringworm in Dogs

Ringworm is treatable and curable—if all treatment, quarantine, and cleaning procedures are followed. Ringworm can be very stubborn, so it is important to be fully committed to the following procedures: 


Ringworm is highly contagious, so the first thing to do when a ringworm infection is suspected is quarantine your dog. Try to keep your dog away from other pets and limit their contact with humans.  

Ideally, have your dog in a room that can be easily cleaned like a large bathroom. A room with rugs or wood floors should not be used, as these are very difficult to clean. 

Topical Treatments (applied to the body)

Bathing is a critical part of treatment as it will remove and kill the fungal spores that are on your dog’s fur. This is helpful in preventing further environmental contamination and cross-contamination with other animals in the home since hairs that have been treated will not be infectious when shed.  

There are two main types of topical treatments: Lime Sulfur dips and antifungal shampoos. Of these, Lime Sulfur dips are more effective. Lime Sulfur dips can be done at home or at your vet hospital. They are quite messy and odorous, so many pet owners elect to have this done at their vet’s office.  

Antifungal shampoos are often paired with a disinfectant like chlorhexidine, as they work well together to combat ringworm. These typically need to be used twice weekly.  

Ointments or other topically applied medications have not been shown to be effective against ringworm infections. 

Shaving dogs with very long coats is not recommended, because shaving can cause microtrauma (small injuries) to the skin, which can make the dog more susceptible to the infection.  

Oral Treatments (Medications taken by mouth)  

Oral medications clear the ringworm infection by making the fungus unable to reproduce and spread. In most cases it is recommended to use oral and topical measures together.  

There are numerous different types of oral antifungals, with different costs and potential side effects (the most common are gastrointestinal/tummy related).  

Your vet will work with you to find the right product and medication for your pet based on their health and diagnosis.  

Decontamination Procedures

Infected pets are constantly shedding fungal spores into the environment. It is extremely important to isolate your dog and to disinfect all other areas of the house until a culture test is negative or your vet recommends stopping treatment. Otherwise, your dog could become reinfected with ringworm from the environment.  

Thoroughly clean all areas that your dog has come into contact with, using an effective disinfectant such as a dilute (1:10) bleach solution, accelerated hydrogen peroxide, or a similar product. Bleach will not properly disinfect a dirty surface, so it is important to clean first, with an agent like liquid dish soap, and to disinfect second.  

You will also want to vacuum and/or steam clean your floors—and don’t forget to disinfect your vacuum afterwards. Items like dog beds that can be laundered should be run through a washing machine, twice, in hot water, preferably with bleach.  

The area of your home in which your pet is confined should be cleaned twice weekly during treatment. When you are treating a pet at home, do your best to wear disposable gloves and be sure to wash your hands and clothing after handling an infected pet. 

Recovery and Prevention of Ringworm in Dogs

It is important to note that pets can be silent carriers of ringworm. A carrier is a pet that is infected but not showing any signs. Because of this, once a pet has been diagnosed with ringworm, all other pets in the home should be tested.  

Treatment generally continues for weeks to months and should not be stopped until follow-up testing shows that the fungal organisms are clear, and your vet directs instructions to stop. Ideally, to monitor the progression of the treatment, a fungal culture should be done every 2-3 weeks after starting treatment.  

A person who is infected with ringworm can also give it to their pets. If you notice a red, ringed skin lesion on your skin, it is best to have your doctor, or a medical professional examine the area.  

When taking in stray dogs or cats, it is important to keep them isolated from your pets until they have had a complete medical evaluation by a veterinarian.  

Since ringworm can be present in soil, don’t let your dog dig outside, especially if there is abundant wildlife living nearby, as they can be a source of infection. 

Taking your dog to the vet for twice yearly exams is also helpful. Pets that have healthy skin are much less susceptible to ringworm.

Ringworm in Dogs FAQs

How contagious is ringworm from a dog to a human?

Unfortunately, ringworm can be highly contagious to humans. Those at highest risk are people with weaker immune systems such as young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those on chemotherapy or other immunosuppressant medications.

Will ringworm in a dog go away on its own?

The technical answer is that it would most likely go away on its own after about 9-12 months, depending on the species of ringworm fungus and the strength of the dog’s immune system. However, during this time the dog is infecting the environment, and potentially all the humans and other pets in the household could become infected. Most of your dog’s hair would fall out, since ringworm feeds on the hairs and dead skin, leaving your dog’s skin more susceptible to wounds and potential secondary infections.

How can I tell if my dog has ringworm?

Any type of skin disease can look like ringworm. If you notice your dog has a crusty lesion or circular area of hair loss with a ring of red skin, or any persistent skin damage that is not resolving, they should be examined by a veterinarian to evaluate them for treatment.

Are there home remedies to help dogs with ringworm?

There are many old wives’ tales about using household products to treat ringworm, but these are not effective and can be toxic to pets. There are some over-the-counter antifungal shampoos which can be helpful, but nonprescription medications are not always effective.

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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…

Posterior Displacement of the Bladder in Dogs

Pelvic Bladder in Dogs

The term “pelvic bladder” involves displacement of the bladder from its normal position and affected size and/or position of the urethra. This condition is usually seen in young intact female dogs with urination problems but some dogs with pelvic bladder don’t show urination problems.

This condition is more common in dogs than cats presumably due to shorter size of urethra in dogs. In addition, it may occur in dogs of both sexes, either intact or neutered, although it is more common common in intact females less than year of age. In male dogs, it is usually detected after neutering.

Symptoms and Types

Some dogs may not exhibit any symptoms, while in others the following may be seen:

Involuntary urine passing (urinary incontinence)Inability to urinate more than a few dribbles at a timeUrgency to urinate without ability to pass urineUrine scalding of tail and adjacent area


Displacement of bladder from its normal position may be due to a congenital defect (birth defect). It is also thought to be caused by obesity in some dogs, and is generally associated with urologic abnormalities, aside from the obvious incontinence.


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including background history of symptoms. After taking a complete history, your pet’s veterinarian will conduct a complete physical examination. Laboratory tests including complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis will be conducted. If infection is suspected, your veterinarian will take the urine sample and will send it to a laboratory to culture and hopefully identify the causative organism. Urinalysis, meanwhile, may reveal urinary tract infection like presence of pus, blood, bacteria in urine.

Other diagnostic procedures include abdominal X-rays and contrast cystourethrography. Radiographic examination of the urethra and urinary bladder after introduction of contrast medium may reveal a short, widened, or irregularly shaped urethra. Your veterinarian may also perform an ultrasound to examine kidneys and urinary bladder for stones, masses, distention of kidneys, and other abnormalities related to urinary system.


In case of underlying urinary infections, your dog’s veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics to treat such infections. The dog will also require surgery to reposition the displaced bladder and urethra. On occasion, antidepressants are used to calm the animal.

Living and Management

You may need to visit your pet’s veterinarian for follow-up examinations to evaluate progress of treatment and identify possible complications. In case of urinary infections, regular antibiotic medication is often required until the infection subsides. Watch your dog for untoward symptoms and call your veterinarian immediately if anything unusual arises. Your veterinarian will also brief you about the side-effects of medications commonly used in these cases.

Can Dogs Get Food Poisoning?

In humans, we think of food poisoning as being the ingestion of food that is contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or the toxins from these agents, which, in turn, make us sick.

The most common signs of food poisoning in people are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain—all starting within a few hours of eating the offending item.

Certainly anyone who has owned a dog has probably experienced the “joy” of some of these symptoms when their dog eats something he shouldn’t have. So, if our dogs are experiencing similar symptoms, it must be food poisoning as well, right?

Can Dogs Get Food Poisoning?

Well, the straightforward answer to this very simple question is yes … and also no.

Food poisoning in dogs is a bit of a more nuanced issue. More often than not, it isn’t a true case of food poisoning, but rather an inappropriate food that’s not sitting as well as it could or should.

Veterinarians affectionately refer to this condition as “garbage gut,” since dogs are so prone to enjoying forbidden treasures.

But there are still several items that can cause true food poisoning in dogs.

True Causes of Food Poisoning in Dogs

We need to be cognizant of what our furry family members have access to around the home or when they’re outside.

Here are a few things that can actually cause food poisoning in dogs:

Garbage and Compost

Our dogs might consider garbage to be a canine delicacy, but these contaminated items should be off-limits for our furry family members. Any rotten or moldy foods can cause food poisoning in dogs.

For this reason, you also need to make sure that your kitchen compost pail and outdoor compost pile are inaccessible to pets. I once treated a dog that ended up passing away after he raided the neighbor’s compost pile.

Garbage can also contain bacteria that can lead to more serious illnesses.

Dead Animals

You will want to make sure that your dog cannot get ahold of dead or decaying items found in the woods or on the side of the road.

These items can carry some serious bacteria or parasites that can cause tummy upset and, in some cases, very serious illnesses.

Fecal Matter

Fecal matter of any variety (which seems to be SO tempting to so many dogs) can cause some serious stomach upset.

Recalled Dog Food or Treats

You should also keep an eye out for recalled dog foods or treats, which can cause your pup to get sick. You can check the petMD pet food recall list or the FDA website for listings on pet food recalls.

Raw/Undercooked Food

Although it is a recent diet fad, raw/undercooked meat, eggs and bones can cause significant illness if not handled properly. In addition to being able to cause food poisoning, bones can also potentially create foreign bodies that require surgical removal.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning in Dogs

Generally, the symptoms of food poisoning in dogs include some combination of vomiting, diarrhea, reduced appetite, lethargy and dehydration. Some animals may show some neurological signs such as a lack of coordination, tremors and, in severe cases, even seizures and collapse.

Depending on what your dog ate, how much and how sensitive they are, the signs and severity may vary. Probably the most common symptoms of food poisoning in dogs tend to be vomiting and diarrhea.

What Can You Do for Food Poisoning in Dogs?

As a rule, try fasting your dog for 24 hours when they start vomiting—offer water, but no food.

If they continue to vomit during that period of time, they need to have a veterinary exam. If the dog doesn’t vomit in those 24 hours, but then begins to vomit again after the 24-hour fast, they need to see a veterinarian.

If at any time your dog starts vomiting water, seems miserable or shows any neurologic signs at all, take them to an emergency clinic or your veterinarian immediately.

It is always safer to have your pet checked out by a vet. Treatment is simpler, more effective, and likely, less expensive when done early. Plus, we can save your pup a lot of tummy grumbles.

Food Poisoning vs. Food Toxicity

Sometimes, what you think are symptoms of food poisoning in dogs may actually be signs of food toxicity.

Human Foods That Are Toxic for Dogs

There are many human foods that can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs without actually being food poisoning.

Some human foods can even cause serious health complications, which is why it is always best to discuss your dog’s diet with your veterinarian.

Items that cause food toxicity in dogs include:




Macadamia nuts



Onions, chives and garlic

Salt and salty snack foods

Xylitol (often found in sugar-free gums and candies)

Yeast dough

Cat food (very high in fat)

Some of these may be safe in small amounts, while others can prove deadly in tiny amounts. Make sure you keep these items, and all human foods, safely stored where dogs cannot access them.

Table Scraps and Sidewalk Snacks

Additionally, some dogs are more sensitive than others, so what is a small amount of human food for one dog may be enough to make another dog sick.

Pay attention on your walks to make sure that your pup doesn’t get ahold of things like pizza remnants that spilled out of a trash can or other types of sidewalk snacks.

Some people also like to share table scraps with their dogs, but for the dogs, those scraps are frequently more fatty than is healthy for the average canine.

For dogs that are sensitive to fat, even a small snack (whether given as a table scrap or picked up on a walk) such as a wedge of cheese, hotdog or piece of chicken skin is enough to cause inflammation of the pancreas (an organ that secretes digestive enzymes in dogs). This can lead to a severe bout of pancreatitis with vomiting or diarrhea. 

Although the symptoms of pancreatitis may be similar to food poisoning in dogs, it is often much more severe, and can even be fatal.

Overall, it is safest to ignore those begging eyes and paws and stick to a healthy bowl of kibble. If you would like to introduce some new foods to your pup’s diet, always check with your veterinarian first!

Tips for Preventing “Garbage Gut” in Dogs

Put away anything that isn’t safe, lock up the trash and don’t leave foods out on the counter that your dog may try to grab. You should also let guests know not to feed your dog table scraps or other human foods.

Check your yard regularly to be sure there aren’t any potentially hazardous snacks there. If you are headed to an area that you can’t scout for risks, keep your dog on a leash. This will help you to control what you dog has access to and help prevent potential problems.

Always use a leash when you walk your dog to make sure they can’t find forbidden snacks along the way. Ideally, you can also teach your dog to “drop it” in case they do get ahold of something toxic.

Some dogs have bombproof tummies—my Lab once ate a jar of baby food (jar, lid, baby food and all!). Other animals just look at something they shouldn’t eat and are sick—my Cocker Spaniel could ONLY eat a certain prescription dog food for most of her life without getting ill.

Knowing your pet and which food(s) they may be exposed to will go a long way in preventing foodborne illnesses!

By: Dr. Sandra Mitchell, DVM

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Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP


Sandra Mitchell is a 1995 graduate of the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduation, she has worked in many fields…

Healthy Foods Checklist: Yogurt for Dogs

While most dog foods on the market don’t contain yogurt, the yummy dairy product may provide some nutritional benefits for your dog as a meal additive.

Plain, low or non-fat yogurt provides probiotic benefits and serves as an excellent source of calcium for our canine companions. Adding a small spoonful of yogurt to your dog’s regular kibble at mealtime can provide digestive benefits and even help your dog stay full longer.

If you decide to feed yogurt to your dog, make sure to read ingredient labels carefully. Avoid flavored yogurts that are packed with sugar, and never feed yogurt that contains the ingredient xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic for dogs. It’s also important to avoid yogurt that is chocolate flavored, since chocolate is also poisonous to dogs.

Before making yogurt a regular part of your dog’s diet, consult your veterinarian to ensure proper serving suggestions.

Some dogs have a harder time digesting dairy products, so keep an eye out for any signs of lactose intolerance. These may include diarrhea, gas, and vomiting. If your dog displays any of these symptoms following yogurt consumption, follow up with your veterinarian. 

See Also

Tumor of the Nerves in Dogs

Nerve Sheath Tumor in Dogs

Nerve sheath tumors are tumors that grow from the myelin sheath that covers the peripheral and spinal nerves. This type of tumor affects the nervous system of the body, as it compromises the functioning ability of the peripheral and/or spinal nerves that form the peripheral nervous system and which reside or extend outside the central nervous system (CNS). Over 80 percent of such tumors affect the forelimbs of dogs. Any breed and gender may be affected.

Symptoms and Types

Progressive and chronic lameness in forelimb (common symptom) Muscle wasting Decreased muscle tone Uncoordinated movements Limb weakness


The exact cause is not known.


You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog’s health, including a background history and onset of symptoms. Your veterinarian will conduct a complete physical examination with laboratory tests, including complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. The results of these routine laboratory tests are usually within normal ranges. The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the protective and nourishing fluid that circulates around the brain and spinal cord, will also be tested, but the findings are usually non-specific. For confirmation of the diagnosis your veterinarian may need to take biopsy samples from the nerve sheaths using ultrasound guidance. Radiographic studies, including x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT-scan) will provide further information for a solid diagnosis. MRI is the most specific test for diagnosis of this disease.


Your veterinarian may perform a surgical resection of the affected nerves. In some cases amputation of the affected limb will need to be performed in order to minimize the chances of a local recurrence of the tumor. More advanced surgical procedures will be required if it is necessary to perform the resection of nerve roots in the more delicate area of the spinal cord. Medications to reduce inflammation and edema (swelling) at the affected site will be prescribed, both to make treatment easier to perform and to make your dog more comfortable. Radiation following surgery can also be considered to decrease the chance of local recurrence. Whether to use radiation therapy or not will be decided by you and your veterinary oncologist.

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 its discomfort. Keep in mind that pain medications must be used with caution, since one of the most preventable accidents that occur with pets is overdose of medication. Follow all directions carefully.

You will need to limit your dog’s activity while it heals, setting aside a quiet place for it to rest, away from household activity, children, and other pets. You might consider cage rest for your dog, to limit its physical activity. Your veterinarian will tell you when it is safe for your dog to move about freely again, but during the recovery stage, only take your dog for very slow, short outdoor walks, or set up a spot near its resting area for it to urinate and defecate. Most dogs recover well from amputation, and quickly learn to compensate for the lost limb.

It is important to monitor your dog’s food and water intake while it is recovering.

Nerve tumors are usually locally invasive and do not metastasize. However, local recurrence is common after surgical resection and will need to be treated again.

Spinone Italiano

Intelligent, sociable, and docile, the Spinone is an excellent retriever and an experienced hunter in any terrain. Their versatility lies in their keen sense of smell and their ability to run fast in a diagonal manner, keeping them in close proximity to the hunter.

Physical Characteristics

The Spinone Italiano has the “look” of a hunting dog. Its powerful, muscular body enables it to quickly retrieve on land and in water, and its head and muzzle are long. The dog also has a single coat that is dry and somewhat rough in texture, while its hair (which is about 1.5 to 2.5 inches long) is dense and stringy. Its large, droopy ears and scruffy appearance give the dog a gentle expression.

Personality and Temperament

The Spinone Italiano is gentle in comparison to most other pointers. Pleasant and easy-going, it gets along with children as well as other dogs and pets. The Spinone Italiano also tends to be very devoted to its master and well-mannered.


Brushing and combing the Italiano is important, and occasional hand-stripping helps to clear the feet and face of dirt. The breed is adaptable to both temperate and cold weather. Regular exercise in the form of running or long hours of walking is essential for the Italiano breed. It also loves to spend time with its human family.


The Spinone Italiano, which has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, is susceptible to major health concerns such as canine hip dysplasia (CHD), and minor issues like otitis externa, ectropion, cerebellar ataxia, and gastric torsion. Allergies and elbow dysplasia may also be seen on occasion in these dogs. Routine hip exams are recommended as the dogs grow older.

History and Background

The Spinone Italiano, or Italian Pointer, is one of the oldest pointing breeds. Although the exact origin of the breed is unknown, 15th- and 16th-century artwork has been discovered with images resembling the modern-day Spinone. There are those who believe the breed evolved from Celtic wirehaired dogs, while others think the Spinone dogs was probably brought to Italy by Greek traders during the Roman Empire.

What is known is that the development of the modern day Spinone Italiano primarily took place in the Piedmonte district of northwest Italy. In fact, its name is derived from an Italian thorn bush known as pine, indicative of the breed’s ability to make its way through thorny bushes.

The Spinone dogs were of great help during World War II, chasing and capturing many German patrols. By the end of the war, however, they faced extinction. Fortunately, proper action was taken in the 1950s to save the breed.

Although not a popular breed in the United States, it has gained recognition in Italy and other European countries.

Cairn Terrier

You might recognize the Cairn Terrier as Toto from The Wizard of Oz, but this dog breed hails from the Isle of Skye in Scotland—not Kansas. The Cairn is a small working breed that historically hunted vermin on farmland, according to the Cairn Terrier Club of America (CTCA). Though a tenacious worker, these dogs weigh only 13–14 pounds and stand about 10 inches tall.

Today, you can find this friendly, confident dog breed across the U.S., where they are as happy in an apartment or suburban house as they are on a farm.

Caring for a Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terriers are a courageous breed. Because of their small size and adaptability, they can thrive almost anywhere, whether in a little apartment or on vast acreage like their Scottish ancestors. But, as with all other dogs, pet parents have to stay on top of their Cairn Terrier’s needs to keep them happy and healthy.

One important part of care is grooming. While you don’t need to take regular trips to the groomer, consistently brushing your Cairn Terrier is essential for keeping this breed looking their best and preventing matting. They also need lots of exercise and mental stimulation or they can turn to unwanted behaviors (like digging up your backyard) to entertain themselves. Consistent training is vital from the time your Cairn Terrier is a puppy so they can grow up to have good manners.

Cairn Terrier Health Issues

Cairn Terriers are a primarily healthy breed with a long lifespan of 13–15 years. But according to the Foundation of the Cairn Terrier Club of America, there are several health conditions the breed is susceptible to.  

Eye Problems

Cairn Terriers can develop cataracts, a condition where the eye lens becomes cloudy. While this typically develops later in life as a dog ages, Cairn Terriers can also develop juvenile cataracts when they are young. The condition leads to blindness, but cataracts can be corrected with surgery.

The breed can also develop progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), another eye condition that leads to complete blindness. However, unlike with cataracts, there is no treatment for PRA.

Signs of vision loss in dogs are:


Bumping into things


Not willing to go up or down stairs

Not willing to jump

If you notice any of these signs, have your dog examined by their veterinarian as soon as possible.

Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s disease is when a dog’s adrenal glands secrete too much of the stress hormone cortisol. If you notice your dog drinking a lot more water, urinating more frequently, losing hair, developing a pot-bellied appearance, developing recurring skin infections, or acting more lethargic, talk to your veterinarian. Treatment can involve surgery, radiation, or lifelong medications.


Cairn Terriers are predisposed to hypothyroidism, a disease that results in decreased production of thyroid hormone. Symptoms can include weight gain, chronic skin or ear infections, lethargy, intolerance to cold, and a thinning coat. If you notice any of these signs, schedule a checkup with your veterinarian.

Liver Shunts

Liver shunts may occur in your Cairn Terrier and are characterized by abnormal blood flow that bypasses the liver. This prevents the liver from filtering toxins from the blood, resulting in symptoms such as weight loss, poor growth, increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, and behavioral changes such as unsteadiness. This can occur as an inherited condition in a Cairn Terrier puppy or acquired when they’re older.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation ​​is a disorder where your dog’s kneecap slips out of place. The main symptom of a luxating patella is your dog kicking their back legs behind them and bunny-hopping around. Sometimes the condition corrects itself, but severe cases may require surgery, as this condition can be painful and will lead to arthritis. Talk to your vet about joint supplements that are beneficial for dogs with patellar luxation.

What To Feed a Cairn Terrier

Feeding Cairn Terrier puppies, adults, and seniors a healthy and balanced diet is vital. When choosing the best dog food for your Cairn Terrier, select a brand whose nutritional guidelines are approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This will support their active lifestyle, ensure that their digestive system stays healthy, and help their teeth remain strong. 

How To Feed a Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier puppies should be fed three times a day on a regular schedule. Once they reach adulthood, you can scale back their mealtimes to twice a day. Be sure to always keep fresh water readily available, especially during mealtime.

How Much Should You Feed a Cairn Terrier?

Cairn Terriers can quickly become overweight, so it’s important to measure out each meal. Follow the guidance on your dog food packaging for specific portion sizes and talk to your veterinarian about how much your Cairn eats. Your vet can make adjustments based on your dog’s lifestyle, current weight, and health history.

Nutritional Tips for Cairn Terriers

Most dogs get all the nutrients they need from their well-balanced dog food. Depending on your dog’s health, your vet may recommend nutritional supplements. Never begin giving your dog supplements without talking to the vet first.

Behavior and Training Tips for Cairn Terriers

Cairn Terrier Personality and Temperament

While every dog is an individual and every Cairn Terrier has distinct personality traits, overall this is an active, intelligent, and highly social breed. They can be good family pets with proper training—and if they have outlets to expend their energy. They make good playmates for children, though interactions between kids and dogs should always be supervised.

Cairn Terrier Behavior 

Because of their hunting origins, Cairn Terriers cannot resist the urge to chase anything and everything—squirrels, cats, rabbits, cars, and other dogs. Always keep your Cairn inside of a fenced-in space or on a leash whenever they’re outside, so they don’t dart off after something that catches their eye. And just in case, make sure your Cairn is microchipped and always wearing an up-to-date ID tag.

These dogs also love to dig. So if you leave your Cairn Terrier in the backyard unsupervised, don’t be surprised if they turn your garden into a trench.

Cairn Terrier Training

Cairn Terriers are a high-energy breed that thrives on attention. They benefit from continuous playtime, regular training, and dog sports such as agility classes. This curious breed is quick to learn, and with positive reinforcement and patience, your Cairn Terrier puppy can pick up on training cues quickly.

Fun Activities for Cairn Terriers Agility 


Dock diving




Long walks 

Cairn Terrier Grooming Guide

This breed comes in every color except white, and you’ll commonly find silver, cream, gray, and black Cairn Terriers. No matter the color, Cairn Terriers don’t shed much and are relatively low-maintenance.

Skin Care

Cairn Terriers do not need to be bathed frequently due to their waterproof double coat. But if your pup gets a little smelly, it’s best to use a dog shampoo made for breeds with a hard coat, according to the breed club.

Coat Care

Though you don’t need to schedule regular trips to the groomer, the CTCA recommends occasional hand-stripping appointments. This is when the hair is removed at the root instead of clipped, and it works to preserve the Cairn Terrier’s coat texture. This alternative to traditional grooming only removes dead hairs (so it’s not as painful as it sounds!), and it’s often done with a FURminator brush.

Otherwise, a weekly at-home grooming session with a pin brush will keep your pup’s coat free of mats.

Eye Care

It’s important to keep the hair around your Cairn Terrier’s eyes trimmed. This helps ensure they can see clearly and keeps their eyes healthy. 

Ear Care

Keeping your dog’s ears clean is essential for preventing debris from accumulating. By cleaning their ears after bath time, you can help prevent ear infections by keeping the ears clean and dry at all times. 

Considerations for Pet Parents

Adding any pet to your life is a big responsibility, and Cairn Terriers are no exception. Before you bring home your Cairn Terrier puppy, know that you will need to dedicate time to training, socialization, mental stimulation, and exercise to have a happy and healthy pup. While this dog can be a great fit for families with kids, they might see other, smaller animals as something to chase.

Cairn Terrier FAQs

Is a Cairn Terrier a good family dog?

Cairn Terriers make great family dogs and rambunctious playmates for kids. But, as always, playtime between children and pets should be supervised.

Do Cairn Terriers bark a lot?

Cairn Terriers can become barky and destructive if they are bored, which is why providing enough exercise and stimulation is so important with these smart dogs.

Do Cairn Terriers like to cuddle?

Cairn Terriers are affectionate and do like to cuddle—once all their energy is worked out.

How long do Cairn Terriers live?

Cairn Terriers have a lifespan averaging 13-15 years, consistent with other small dog breeds.

Featured Image: iStock/Sima_ha

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Erica Vasquez

Erica is a coffee-drinking, selfie-loving Netflix binger with a passion for writing, editing, social media, and developing new creative…

Excessive Bacteria in the Small Intestine in Dogs

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is a disorder which causes an abnormal amount of bacteria to accumulate in the small intestine. While it is common for this organ to have bacteria, it can become a problem when the count is too high. This can then affect the normal intestinal functions, causing loose stools and weight loss. Often clearing up within a few days, and up to a few weeks, treatment options give this bacterial infection an excellent prognosis.

Symptoms and Types

Common symptoms include loose stools, rapid weight loss, diarrhea, occasional vomiting and intestinal tract sounds (gurgling caused by gas).


While a genetic predisposition has been determined as a non-factor for the disorder, some breeds have a higher prevalence in developing it. Among them, German Shepherds and Chinese Shar Peis seem to have the highest incidence rate among dog breeds. Inadequate levels of thyroid, low pancreatic production of enzymes, low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and intestinal disease are also common causes for this bacterial overgrowth.


Veterinarians will often perform blood work and bacterial cultures to determine the causes of the intestinal condition. In some cases a more invasive procedure, such as an endoscopy, will be required to view the intestine internally.


Treatment is commonly given on an outpatient basis and improvement can occur quickly, typically within a few days and up to a few weeks. It is often recommended that the patient be placed on a highly-digestible diet to create less of an impact on the intestines during the healing. Antibiotics are also commonly prescribed to treat the bacterial growth.

Living and Management

It is important to monitor your dog’s weight and protein levels (albumin) over time to ensure that progress is being made toward a full recovery. Diarrhea must also be observed because if prolonged, it can lead to severe dehydration. In addition, repeat treatments may be required. The prognosis of this disease is positive when it is not associated with other serious medical conditions, such as intestinal cancer.


There are currently no known preventative methods for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

Blood Clot in the Lungs in Dogs

Pulmonary Thromboembolism in Dogs

Pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE) occurs when a blood clot lodges in one of the arteries that feed into the lungs. Slow-flowing blood and blood vessel damage, in addition to blood which clots too easily, can predispose a dog to thrombus (blood clot) formation. Most of the time, pulmonary PTE is caused by another underlying disease process.

Pulmonary thromboemboli (blood clots) can originate in the right atrium of the heart, or in many of the major veins throughout the body. As the dog’s body makes oxygenated blood to deliver to the heart and lungs, this clump of blood cells is carried through the bloodstream toward the lungs, where it gets caught in a narrow portion of one of the passages of the arterial network that feeds oxygenated blood to the lungs. In this way, the blood flow through that artery is halted, and oxygenated blood is not able to reach the lung. The severity of the condition is, to a degree, dependent on the size of the blood clot.

PTE can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

FatigueCoughLack of appetite (anorexia)Sudden difficulty breathingInability to sleep or get comfortableIncreased breathing rateSpitting up bloodExercise intolerancePale or bluish-colored gums


CancerHeart diseaseLiver diseaseHeartworm diseaseCushing’s diseaseInflammation of the pancreasProtein-losing kidney disease, or intestinal diseaseImmune-mediated hemolytic anemia (destruction of red blood cells)Musculoskeletal traumaRecent surgeryBacterial infection of the bloodDisseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC) — extensive thickening and clotting of the blood throughout the blood vessels


Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel. In most cases, the bloodwork will be necessary for pinpointing an underlying disease.

You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including a background history of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. The history you provide may give your veterinarian clues to the clot’s origin.

Arterial blood gases will be taken to check for low oxygen in the blood. A coagulation profile will be done to detect a clotting disorder; these tests include the one-stage prothrombin time (OSPT) and activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT). Heartworm serology will also be performed.

X-ray images of the dog’s chest will allow your doctor to visually examine your dog for pulmonary artery abnormalities, enlargement of the heart, lung patterns, or fluid in the lungs. Your veterinarian may choose the more sensitive echocardiogram (an ultrasound image of the heart) to see the motion and size of the heart and its surrounding structures more clearly, because since a thrombus in the right chamber of the heart, or in the main pulmonary artery, will sometimes show up on an echocardiogram.

Electrocardiogram (ECG) readings can indicate cor pulmonale, enlargement of the right ventricle of the heart due to increased blood pressure in the lungs. Serious heart rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmias) will be evident on an ECG. 

There is also pulmonary angiography, which uses an injection of a radiocontrasting agent into the dog’s lung arteries to improve visibility on the X-ray, and spiral computed tomography (CT), which is three-dimensional X-ray imaging for non-selective angiography.


Dogs with PTE should be hospitalized, primarily for oxygen therapy. If the dog is not receiving enough oxygen to its heart, lungs, or brain, the veterinarian will recommend rest in a caged environmentl this is generally due to hypoxemia or syncope. However, the underlying cause of the condition will be treated once your veterinarian has settled on a definitive diagnosis.

Living and Management

Unfortunately, this disease is usually fatal. Unless the underlying cause of disease is found and corrected, pets will often suffer a recurrence of PTE.

Your veterinarian will schedule weekly checkups with the your dog to monitor its blood clotting times, since anticoagulant medications can cause bleeding disorders on the opposite side of the scale. The new low-molecular-weight heparin anticoagulant medicines are much safer for use, but they are also more expensive.

Close supervision of your pet, and contact with your veterinarian will usually be sufficient, especially since your dog may need to be on anticoagulant medication for several months.

Doctor approved physical activity, or other physical therapy, may improve blood flow. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the appropriate activity for your individual pet’s needs. The goal is to prevent future PTE in immobile dogs with severe disease.