Archive : February

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Weed?

Reviewed for accuracy on August 26, 2019, by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM

“My dog ate weed—now what?”

You’re not alone in asking this question. According to a veterinary study in Colorado, incidences of marijuana intoxication in dogs increased dramatically following the drug’s legalization.

“An increasing number of pets are being diagnosed with marijuana toxicity,” says Dr. Jim D. Carlson, a holistic veterinarian and owner of Riverside Animal Clinic & Holistic Center, located in the Chicago area. “As marijuana laws are changing, so is the exposure that pets have to the drug.”

While marijuana toxicity may be common, it’s a serious condition that requires swift recognition and treatment.

Are Some Forms of Marijuana More Toxic to Dogs?

Since the legalization of marijuana is more widespread, it’s now available in many different forms. From the plant to oils and edibles, there are plenty of opportunities for dogs to get their paws on some weed.

However, each of these types of weed have their own risks for dogs.

“The toxin in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is highly concentrated in the flower buds and tiny leaves on top of the plant,” explains Dr. Ibrahim Shokry, BVSC, MVSC, PHD, professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.

“Marijuana leaves have less than 10% THC. Oils and butters used in making candies and food products contain the highest concentrations of THC—up to 90%—and are the most toxic,” says Dr. Shokry.

What If Your Dog Ate an Edible?

In addition to THC, many edibles contain other dangerous ingredients.

“Edible forms can add to the toxicity, as they are often formulated in combination with ingredients such as chocolate, which can be lethal in high enough doses, and butter, which can cause GI upset and potentially pancreatitis,” says Dr. Caroline Wilde, staff veterinarian at pet medical insurance company Trupanion.

Symptoms of Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs

While most humans experience fairly pleasant effects from marijuana, dogs don’t simply get the munchies and take a nap.

“Clinical signs develop within minutes to hours of exposure and last for hours to days,” says Dr. Shokry. “They are mainly signs of central nervous system depression.”

Clinical signs include:


Sensitivity to loud noises

Low heart rate

Dribbling urine

Dilation of the pupils

Low or high body temperature

Additional symptoms include:


Irregular heartbeat

Urine retention

Dr. Rachel Barrack, founder of Animal Acupuncture in New York City, says that extreme cases can cause:



Comatose state

Dogs experience these distressing side effects more strongly than humans.

“Dogs have more cannabinoid receptors in their brains than people,” says Dr. Barrack. “Therefore, the effects of marijuana are more severe and potentially more toxic.”

Don’t Be Scared to Take Your Dog to the Vet

If you suspect that your dog ate marijuana, seek immediate veterinary care, without hesitation.

Your pet’s health is more important than any embarrassment you might feel, and it’s critical to be honest with your veterinarian.

It’s also important to inform them of the exact type of marijuana your pet has eaten, as different forms have different toxicities.

“Rest assured that you aren’t the first person to come in with a case of this nature,” assures Dr. Carlson. “We are only in the business of providing the best care for your pet, not judging or getting law enforcement involved if you live in a state where marijuana isn’t legalized.”

What Tests Will the Vet Do?

Your dog is going to be very disoriented and confused. While you quickly get ready to go to the veterinarian, keep them in a quiet room to help reduce sensory stimulation.

Once you arrive at the vet’s, they will evaluate your dog to see the level of toxicity and the current state of your dog’s body functions.

“To determine the health status of your pet, organ function and the seriousness of the toxicity, expect your veterinarian to perform blood work and a urinalysis,” says Dr. Carlson.

“Dogs sometimes eat the container the drug was kept in or other material when ingesting marijuana, making diagnostic imaging necessary,” he explains.

Blood pressure is often checked, too, since the heart rate can be greatly decreased and these animals sometimes require intravenous fluids to support their blood pressure.

Treating a Dog That Ate Weed

In cases where the ingestion is quickly discovered, your veterinarian may induce vomiting to prevent the onset of symptoms, says Dr. Wilde.

In most cases, however, that window has passed, and symptoms must be treated on a case-by-case basis.

Dr. Wilde explains that most treatment will consist of supportive care, which includes (but is not limited to):

Hospitalization for continued monitoring

Administration of fluids

Cardiovascular support

Regulation of temperature

In some cases, anti-nausea medication

If a marijuana edible also contained chocolate, treatment is more aggressive.

Chocolate can cause high heart rates, seizures and even death, so treatment can include antiarrhythmics, anticonvulsants, fluid therapy and activated charcoal, adds Dr. Wilde.

How to Prevent Marijuana Toxicity

Although the symptoms and treatment can be scary, most dogs recover from marijuana toxicity. 

“This might be a noted medical episode for your dog, but marijuana toxicity is not often fatal in pets,” says Dr. Carlson.

Even so, it’s important to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. If you use marijuana, keep an up-to-date inventory of all products, and ensure that they’re out of your dog’s reach at all times.

“Owners should take care in the storage of marijuana in the home,” advises Dr. Carlson. “Storing the drug high in a cabinet in a container such as a jar with a metal lid will prevent accidental injury.”


By: Monica Weymouth

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Diseases of the Orbit of the Eye in Dogs

Exophthalmos, Enophthalmos, and Strabismus in Dogs

Exophthalmos, enophthalmos, and strabismus are all diseases which cause the dog’s eyeball to be abnormally positioned.

With exophthalmos, the dog’s eyeball protrudes, or bulges, from the orbit of the eye. This may be due to a space-occupying mass behind the eyeball. Enophthalmos, meanwhile, causes the eyeball to recess, or sink, into the skull. Lastly, strabismus is when an affected animal’s eye appears to look off at a different angle, unable to focus in the same direction as the other eye. This can occur with one or both eyes, and is more commonly referred to as “crossed eyes.”

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 signs for each of these disease are as follows:

Exophthalmos:FeverGeneral malaiseSwollen eyelid”Cherry eye”Loss of visionPockets of pus in or around the eye (orbital abscess)Discharge from the eyes that is watery (serous) or mucous mixed with pus (mucopurulent)Lagophthalmos (inability to close the eyelids completely)Inflammation of the cornea (transparent coating of the eye) or surrounding tissuePain on opening the mouthEnophthalmos:Entropion”Cherry eye”Wasting of the muscle surrounding the eye (extraocular muscle atrophy)Strabismus:Deviation of one or both eyes from the normal positionDecreased functioning of the muscles surrounding the eye



Exophthalmos is generally due to a space-occupying mass located behind the eyeball. Strabismus, or “crossed eyes,” is usually caused by an imbalance of extraocular (outside of the eye) muscle tone. The Shar-pei is highly susceptible to this eye disease.

Some other factors that may lead to these eye diseases include:

Exophthalmos:Bleeding within the eyePockets of pus within the eyeInflamed eye tissue (bacterial or fungal in nature)Inflamed or swollen sac of mucous in the bone that surrounds the eye socketInflammation in the muscles surrounding the eye(s)Arteriovenous fistula (when arteries join with veins, and a new, abnormal passage is formed); this is rareEnophthalmos:CancerDehydration (it affects the water content within the eyeball)Drooping eyelidConstricted pupilsCollapsed globeLoss of volume in the eyeball (i.e., the eyeball is shrunked and usually non-functional)Horner’s Syndrome (a lack of nerve distribution to the eye and/or a loss in the supply of nerves)Strabismus:GeneticsRestriction of eye muscle mobility from scar tissue (usually from previous trauma or inflammation)Abnormal crossing of visual fibers in the central nervous system



You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have preceded this condition. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam, examining the eyeballs, surrounding bone and muscle, and an inspection of your dog’s mouth for any abnormalities. X-ray imaging of the skull will help to determine the exact location of any growths, pockets of fluid, or abnormalities in the muscle or bone that might be contributing to the abnormal positioning of the eyeball.

Your veterinarian will also probably want to perform basic blood tests, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel, just to make sure there is no underlying systemic disease involved.


Eyeball out of socketSurgery: possible complications are excessively dry eyes (keratoconjunctivitis sicca)Abscess or inflammation of the eyeballSurgery to drain the abscessCollect samples for bacterial culture and microscopic examinationHot packingCancer of the eyeUsually begins in the eye and spreadsOperate early, removing the malignant mass, or the entire eyeballIf appropriate, chemotherapy or radiotherapy will be prescribedWithout chemotherapy or radiotherapy, survival is weeks to months if it is metastasizing malignant cancer (spreading cancer); end of life care or euthanasia may be only recoursesVeterinarian specializing in cancer may need to be consulted for specific careZygomatic mucocele (a pocket of mucous in the bone surrounding the eyeball)Antibiotics and corticosteroids; surgery if necessaryStrabismusNerve disorder: the underlying cause will be treatedSurgery to correct muscle abnormality, or therapy to strengthen muscles


Living and Management

Your veterinarian will schedule follow-up appointments dependent on your dog’s underlying diagnosis. For example, if your pet has an eye infection, your veterinarian will want to examine your dog at least weekly until signs of the disease have resolved.

If you see signs of any of these eye diseases returning, you will need to contact your veterinarian immediately to avoid permanent damage to the eye.

Enlarged Heart (Dilated Cardiomyopathy) in Dogs

What Is Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs?

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is one of the most common heart diseases in large-breed dogs. With DCM, the dog’s heart becomes enlarged as the heart muscle weakens­­­–becoming thinner and stretched out.

The heart has four chambers arranged in a square. The two top chambers are the left and right atrium, while the two bottom chambers are the left and right ventricles. Blood travels from the body into the right side of the heart, where it then moves into the lungs through the pulmonary arteries. In the lungs, the blood picks up oxygen that it brings back into the left side of the heart before being pumped back to the rest of the body. This process allows the body’s cells to receive oxygen essential for life functions.

The oxygenated blood fuels dogs’ muscles in their legs, allowing them to run, jump, and play. It feeds their intestinal tract to help with digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. It fuels the kidneys and the liver so that they can remove toxins and waste products from the blood. Every  organ in a dog’s body needs the oxygenated blood that the heart pumps out. In dogs that have DCM, their ventricles start to wear down and become thin and weak. This makes it more difficult for them to pump that enriched blood back out to the body.

While DCM develops slowly over time, it is often subtle and goes unnoticed by pet parents Dogs may develop heart failure suddenly and require emergency care. DCM may also progress to congestive heart failure (CHF), which is considered a medical emergency because it can be fatal in a matter of hours.

Symptoms of DCM in Dogs

DCM can come on abruptly–a seemingly normal dog may show serious clinical signs or even suddenly die. These signs can come from a lack of oxygenated blood going out to the body, resulting in fatigue or poor appetite, or they can be a result of fluid backing up from the heart into the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.

Symptoms for DCM include:

Rapid breathing

Difficulty lying down or getting comfortable, restlessness

Blue tinge to gums or tongue

Wet cough or hack

Increased effort while breathing, chest heaving

Tiring easily, intolerance to exercise

Lethargy or weakness

Decreased appetite

Distended (swollen) belly

Fainting or collapse

Causes of DCM in Dogs

Dilated cardiomyopathy can be caused by several factors, including genetics, nutrition, and infections. It has long been linked in part to genetics because several breeds are more likely to be affected.

DCM occurs typically in large-breed dogs, most commonly:

Doberman Pinschers

Irish Wolfhounds


Saint Bernards


While DCM is more common in large-breed dogs, English Springer Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, and Portuguese Water Dogs also have an inherited trait that can predispose them to the condition.

Grain-Free Food and DCM in Dogs

In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine began investigating the link between grain-free diets and dilated cardiomyopathy. This came after some veterinary cardiologists saw higher numbers of cases of DCM in dogs that were not genetically affected breeds, such as Golden Retrievers.

 In 2019, the FDA released a report stating that more than 90% of DCM cases reported to the FDA were dogs who were fed grain-free diets. Many of these diets contained peas and other legumes or lentils as main ingredients, in place of traditional grains. Some of the implicated diets were raw food, vegetarian, or vegan diets.

This began the discussion of “BEG” diets in the veterinary community, an acronym for boutique, exotic, and grain-free diets. Initially, it was believed that the issue was related to a potential deficiency of taurine, an essential nutrient, in these diets. This came from released reports that many Golden Retrievers seemed to respond well to taurine supplementation in treating their DCM. Since then, it has been found that DCM may be more complicated than just one ingredient, and many factors  can play a role in causing it.

Many veterinarians advise against feeding grain-free diets; however, some dogs with allergies may be recommended for specific BEG diets to manage their disease. It is important to talk to your veterinarian about good nutrition and what is best for your pet’s health and wellness. They may recommend that you see a veterinary nutritionist to come up with a unique diet tailored to your pet’s needs.

If you are feeding a BEG, vegetarian/vegan, raw, or homemade diet, talk to your veterinarian about recommended monitoring to avoid secondary acquired nutritional disease, like DCM. Your veterinarian may recommend measuring blood and plasma taurine levels, supplements with specific vitamins or minerals, or more frequent imaging to ensure that no problems are developing because of your dog’s diet.

How Veterinarians Diagnose DCM in Dogs

DCM is diagnosed by a combination of tests. Your veterinarian will start by listening to your dog’s heart for the presence of a murmur or arrhythmia (abnormal rhythm). They will also listen for any dampened (muffled) lung sounds or crackles that may show fluid buildup in the lungs. They will take x-rays to look at the size of the heart and check for any enlargement or fluid.

Additionally, they may run bloodwork and look at urine to screen for underlying kidney disease, as many patients have heart and kidney disease at the same time. They may also run a ProBNP test, which looks for high amounts of a specific protein that goes along with stretching or damage to the heart muscle.

If DCM is diagnosed or suspected, your veterinarian may recommend referral to a veterinary cardiologist. The cardiologist can do a heart ultrasound , called an echocardiogram. This allows them to look at each chamber of the heart and to watch the blood flow through the heart. They will also do an ECG, or electrocardiogram, to look at electrical current in the heart to diagnose any abnormal rhythms.

Treatment of DCM in Dogs

DCM is most often treated with medications that help to decrease the workload of the heart or improve the efficiency of the heart’s work, and to remove any fluid from the lungs to make breathing easier.

This disease is managed rather than cured. While there is no cure for DCM, dogs that have nutritionally acquired DCM that is caught early can restore normal heart function with the right therapy. The most common medications prescribed in patients with DCM and congestive heart failure include:

ACE inhibitors, like enalapril or benazepril, which work to expand the veins leaving the heart and reduce resistance so that it is easier for the heart to pump blood back out to the body.

Diuretics, like furosemide or spironolactone, which help to remove fluid from the lungs to make breathing easier for dogs with congestive heart disease.

Inotropic drugs, which change the force of the heart’s contractions. Medication like pimobendan is commonly prescribed and works to improve heart muscle strength. Pimobendan helps to increase the strength of heart muscle contractions and lower the pressure in the arteries and veins.

Beta blockers act as anti-arrhythmic drugs. More commonly prescribed beta blockers include sotalol, atenolol, and carvedilol. Calcium channel blockers like diltiazem may also be prescribed. A cardiologist may prescribe any of these medications if irregular heart rhythms are diagnosed. These drugs work by acting on the heart’s electrical channels.

Nutritional therapy may be needed in the management of heart disease. Sodium-restricted diets may be helpful, like Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Cardiac or Hills Prescription Diet h/d. Additionally, taurine, coenzyme Q10, or carnitine supplements may be recommended.

Bronchodilators, like theophylline, and cough suppressants, like hydrocodone or butorphanol, may be prescribed to make breathing easier and reduce cough frequency associated with congestive heart failure.

Recovery and Management of DCM in Dogs

Management of DCM is lifelong in dogs. Heart disease is progressive over time, and there are many factors that can change the prognosis, including: your dog’s breed, if the disease is related to nutrition, and how severe the disease is at the time of diagnosis.

Some breeds, like Doberman Pinschers, have more aggressive forms of this disease, with an average survival time of three months after diagnosis. Other breeds, like Cocker Spaniels, more commonly have a slower progression of DCM, living an average of 6 months to two years after time of diagnosis.

If a taurine deficiency is found and adjusted, the heart’s function can improve quite a bit. But if your dog is already in congestive heart failure at the time of diagnosis, this may make their prognosis worse. Dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy caught early in the disease process may have a better prognosis and live comfortable lives for years.


DVM360. Managing Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

US Food and Drug Administration. FDA Investigation into Potential Link between Certain Diets and Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

Freeman LM, Stern JA, Fries R, Adin DB, Rush JE. Diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs: what do we know? Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2018;253(11):1390-1394.

Veterinary Information Network. Medical Therapy of Congestive Heart Failure: The Essentials.

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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…

Retained Baby Teeth in Dogs

Retained Deciduous Teeth in Dogs

A retained or persistent deciduous (baby) tooth is one that is still present despite the eruption of the permanent tooth (between three to seven months of age). This can cause the permanent teeth to erupt in abnormal positions, resulting in an incorrect bite pattern (or how the upper and lower teeth fit together when biting or chewing). Retained deciduous teeth may also cause overcrowding of teeth, accidental bites into the palate, or an abnormal jaw position.

As with most oral issues, early recognition and immediate dental care is essential to prevent permanent damage. Unfortunately, it often goes undiagnosed until later in life.

Retained deciduous teeth are more common in dogs, though it does occur in cats. It often affects smaller breeds of dog, including the Maltese, Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, and Pomeranian.

Symptoms and Types

In addition to observing the deciduous (baby) teeth once the permanent teeth begin to erupt, the following signs may occur:

Bad breath (halitosis)Abnormally-positioned permanent teethSwollen, red, bleeding gums around baby teethLocal gingivitis and periodontal disease due to teeth overcrowdingA permanent abnormal passageway between the mouth and nasal cavity (oronasal fistula)


None identified.


Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam and inspect your dog’s mouth.  He or she will chart the teeth present in the mouth to and record the presence of deciduous teeth. X-rays of the inside of the mouth will also be taken to verify which teeth are permanent and which are deciduous, and whether baby teeth have permanent successors ready to replace them.


The deciduous (baby) tooth should be surgically removed as soon as the permanent tooth has begun pushing through your dog’s gums. In addition, fractured or retained root(s) may need to be removed with a gingival flap — a procedure in which the gums are separated from the teeth and folded back to allow a veterinarian to reach the root of the tooth and the bone.

Living and Management

After surgery, restrict your dog’s activity for the rest of the day. Feed him or her a soft diet—canned or moistened dry kibble—as well as restrict its access to chew toys for 24 hours after surgery.

Your veterinarian will provide you with oral pain medication to give to your pet for one to three days after surgery. You may also be asked to administer an oral rinse or gel in your pet’s mouth for three to five days after surgery. Daily brushing, meanwhile, should commence 24 hours after brushing.

Lung Cancer In Dogs

What Is Lung Cancer in Dogs?

Lung cancer in dogs is a relatively rare type of cancer. When a dog has lung cancer, it means their lungs have been invaded by malignant tumors. Unlike benign (non-cancerous) tumors, malignant tumors can spread throughout the body, causing serious and potentially fatal health complications.

Lung cancer can affect your dog’s breathing by reducing lung function. When your dog takes a breath, oxygen flows from their mouth into their trachea and then into a series of small tubes called bronchi that travel into the lungs. In the lungs, the bronchi end in tiny sacs called alveoli. This is where gas exchange takes place, as red blood cells give up carbon dioxide, which is exhaled, in exchange for fresh oxygen.  

Although lung cancer is a serious condition in dogs, fortunately it’s relatively rare. Only about 1% of cancers diagnosed in dogs are in the lungs. However, because of the high blood supply to the lungs, a lot of cancers from elsewhere in the body tend to spread there. This means that tumors found in the lungs more commonly spread from other parts of the body instead of originating within the lungs (a primary lung tumor).

While dogs could get lung cancer at any age, this mostly affects older dogs. The typical age for diagnosis is 9 to 11 years of age.

Types of Lung Cancer in Dogs

About 97% of primary lung tumors in dogs are carcinomas. Carcinomas are cancers that begin in the tissues that line internal organs or in the skin. The most common type of primary lung cancer is called bronchoalveolar carcinoma.

As in humans, veterinarians “grade” lung cancer in dogs to help make treatment decisions. The grade is based on how fast the tumor is growing, certain characteristics of the cells, and whether there is necrosis (death) of the cells. According to the Veterinary Society of Surgical Oncology, 46% of primary lung carcinomas are grade I (spreading more slowly), 43% are grade II (moderately spreading), and 10% are grade III (spreading more quickly). Low-grade tumors generally have a better prognosis than high-grade tumors.

Other types of cancer that rarely originate in the lungs include histiocytic sarcoma and lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system).

Symptoms of Lung Cancer in Dogs

Dogs with lung cancer often won’t have symptoms until the tumor has advanced. These tumors may be found during chest X-rays performed for another health reason.

Symptoms of lung cancer in dogs include:


Elevated respiratory rate

Coughing up blood

Exercise intolerance

Respiratory distress

Weight loss and muscle wasting


Decreased appetite

Lung cancers can also cause a secondary condition called hypertrophic osteopathy, which typically affects the long bones of the limbs. The connective tissue on the bones grows rapidly, causing the limbs to become swollen and firm. The pet may limp or be reluctant to move. The underlying cause of hypertrophic osteopathy is not well understood, but it typically resolves if the mass is treated.

Causes of Lung Cancer in Dogs

The exact cause of lung cancer in dogs is unknown, though genetics is thought to play a role. Environmental pollutants, such as secondhand smoke, may also contribute to the development of lung cancer in dogs, though research is ongoing.

Breeds thought to have a higher likelihood of developing lung cancer include:


Doberman Pinschers

Australian Shepherds

Irish Setters

Bernese Mountain Dogs

How Veterinarians Diagnose Lung Cancer in Dogs

Lung cancer can’t be diagnosed with a basic physical examination. Instead, your veterinarian will need additional tests, possibly including:

Chest X-rays: The first test a veterinarian will run is chest X-rays. For some pets, this will require light sedation. If the veterinarian sees a solitary, well-defined nodule in the lungs, this is more likely to be a primary lung tumor than a metastatic nodule that has spread from elsewhere.

Fine needle aspirate: To know what type of cancer your dog has, a veterinarian may perform a test called a fine needle aspirate (FNA) to collect a sample of cells. This test includes placing a needle through the chest wall and into the lesion to remove (aspirate) cells. Your pet will need to be sedated for this procedure.

Bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage: In some cases, the vet may perform a test called a bronchoalveolar lavage. During this test, sterile fluid is placed into the airway and then retrieved and studied. Malignant cells may be seen in the fluid, allowing for definitive diagnosis. This procedure is often done in conjunction with another test called a bronchoscopy, where a camera is inserted down into the larger airways. Your pet would need to be anesthetized for this procedure.

A computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest may be performed to assess the number and size of pulmonary masses. A CT may also be recommended for surgical planning.

Imaging of the abdomen and aspiration of peripheral lymph nodes may be advised to check for cancer spread. With primary lung tumors, the results will often be normal. If the nodules in the lungs are suspected to be metastatic from elsewhere, these tests may help determine where the cancer originated.

Your family veterinarian can likely perform chest X-rays, abdominal X-rays, aspiration of peripheral lymph nodes, and possibly ultrasound of the abdomen. Aspiration of tumors in the chest, bronchoscopy, bronchoalveolar lavage, and CT scans are often outside of the scope of private practice, so you may be referred to a specialist. 

Stages of Lung Cancer in Dogs

When your dog is diagnosed with lung cancer, your veterinarian will stage the cancer. Staging describes how far the cancer has spread within the body. The stage will be used to create a treatment plan. Staging of lung cancer in dogs is based on the size of the primary tumor, if the tumor has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and if the cancer has spread beyond its original site (metastasized).

While lung cancer in humans is often staged using Roman numerals, this system is not routinely used in dogs. However, some veterinarians may use these stages to explain the spread of cancer to pet parents. These stages include:

Stage I: The tumor is small and has not spread to lymph nodes.

Stage II: The tumor has grown larger and may have spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage III: The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes between the lung lobes.

Stage IV: Cancer has spread from the lung to other parts of the body.

Treatment of Lung Cancer in Dogs

The treatment plan depends on the type and severity of the cancer. For a single tumor, surgery is the treatment of choice. During surgery, the surgeon removes part of or the entire lung lobe, depending on the size and location of the mass. The veterinarian will likely biopsy lymph nodes in the chest to determine if the cancer has spread.

Some veterinary oncologists may recommend chemotherapy for high-grade tumors, large tumors, or tumors that show evidence of metastasis. In most cases of primary lung tumors in dogs, chemotherapy alone does not improve survival.

Dogs that have metastatic nodules from cancer elsewhere in the body have a poorer prognosis. This is because these nodules prove the cancer has advanced enough to spread to the lungs. A consultation with a veterinary oncologist is recommended.

Recovery and Management of Lung Cancer in Dogs

In dogs that have no metastases and undergo surgery, the procedure may result in a cure. Some dogs can live for over two years post-surgery. Expected survival time ranges from three months to over a year, with dogs who have no clinical signs at time of diagnosis, low-grade tumors, and smaller tumors typically living longer than others.

Many pet parents elect not to have their pet go through open-chest surgery when there is evidence that the tumor is aggressive. Even with surgical treatment, the prognosis is three months in these cases.

If you choose to pursue treatment for your dog’s lung cancer, your veterinarian may recommend frequent chest X-rays for the first year after surgery to monitor for recurrence. If your pet is undergoing chemotherapy, frequent monitoring of their bloodwork is required to ensure they are tolerating chemotherapy.

Other steps you can take to keep your pet comfortable include:

Ensuring they have easy access to food and water

Providing a comfortable area to rest

Ensuring they avoid strenuous exercise

Not smoking indoors

Using a room air purifier

Ensuring you’re consistent with your pet’s medications

Speaking with your veterinarian if you’re concerned that your pet may be in pain

In dogs who are declining, your veterinarian will recommend a palliative care plan to keep your pet comfortable. Treatments could include anti-nausea medications, pain medications, cough suppressants, and anti-anxiety medications.

Lung Cancer in Dogs FAQs

What do the end stages of lung cancer look like in dogs?

In the end stages of lung cancer, your dog may have a decreased appetite, weight loss, muscle wasting, lethargy, coughing, wheezing, and labored breathing. In some cases, fluid develops in and around the lungs, which makes breathing very difficult. If you note labored breathing, seek prompt veterinary attention.

How aggressive is lung cancer in dogs?

Whether or not lung cancer is aggressive in dogs depends on the type of tumor and its grade. With surgical removal and no sign of metastases, your pet may be cured. If the tumor has metastasized to elsewhere in the chest or body, these are signs of a more aggressive cancer.

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Rhiannon Koehler, DVM


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

Black and Tan Coonhound

The Black and Tan Coonhound is a working dog. It is accustomed to difficult terrains and trails, and the tree games of summer or winter seasons. The Coonhound hunting skills are pure, working by scent alone.

Physical Characteristics

The eager, amicable, and alert expression of the Coonhound makes it very lovable. With its tail and head held high, the Coonhound moves about with graceful strides. Its long structure is moderately bony, but its build gives it strength, speed, and agility.

The Black and Tan Coonhound’s coat, meanwhile, is dense and short, which provides protection in all kinds of weather. Its deep muzzle provides sufficient room for its olfactory apparatus, while its deep voice assists the hunter in finding the dog when it has trapped the game. It also has long ears that help stir up ground scents.

Personality and Temperament

The Black and Tan Coonhound is not the typical house dog, but it still makes a notable and unusual pet. The dog remains quiet, calm, mellow, and friendly indoors, but outdoors, its hunting instincts become dominant — once tracking begins, it is unwilling to let go of a trail.

This stubborn, independent, and strong dog sometimes howls and bays, shows reticence with strangers, though it is calm and tolerant with kids.


Grooming a Black and Tan Coonhound consists of the occasional brushing of the coat and regular ear checkups. Exercise, meanwhile, may be satisfied with a long walk, short jog, or an excursion on a field. The Coonhound also loves to run a few miles and wanders on catching a scent. As the Black and Tan drools, it is a good idea to wipe its face regularly.


The Black and Tan Coonhound, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, is prone to minor health concerns such as ectropion and hypothyroidism, and major issues like canine hip dysplasia (CHD). The Coonhound also occasionally suffers from Hemophilia B. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may recommend hip and thyroid tests for the dog.

History and Background

Bred mainly in the Blue Ridge, Appalachian, Smokey, and Ozark Mountains, Black and Tan Coonhounds were originally used for hunting bears and raccoons in rugged terrain. It should be noted that the Black and Tan Coonhound is an American breed that was developed by crossing the black and tan Virginia Foxhound with the Bloodhound.

Much like their Bloodhound ancestors, the Black and Tan Coonhound trails with it nose to the ground, but at a faster pace. Trailing opossums and raccoons is its forte, but it is also good at trailing larger mammals. After trapping the quarry, the dog bays until the hunter arrives.

In 1945, the American Kennel Club recognized the Black and Tan Coonhound, though the breed has been more popular as a hunting dog than a pet or show dog. Although the United Kennel Club arranges several bench shows for the coonhound breeds, in which Blue Tick Coonhounds, Black and Tan Coonhounds, Redbone Coonhounds, Plott Hounds, English Coonhounds, and Treeing Walkers participate.

What Causes a Puppy to Stop Growing?

By Sarah Wooten, DVM

Puppies that are not growing at a normal rate or who are too small for their age are stunted; that is, something has prevented them from growing naturally or at a normal rate.

There are several things that can cause stunted growth in puppies, ranging from intestinal worm infections to genetics. In this article, we will address the most common concerns associated with stunting, and whether or not these concerns actually cause stunted growth in dogs.

Does Worm Infection Cause Stunting?

The most common reason why a puppy’s growth becomes stunted is because they are infected with hookworms or roundworms. Intestinal worms are extremely common in puppies in the United States — they either contract worms from their mother or from the environment around them. If a puppy has an extremely heavy worm infestation, the worms can steal enough calories from the puppy to slow down her growth. Puppies that have a heavy worm burden typically look unthrifty: they have a poor haircoat, diarrhea, a big pot belly, and are small and thin despite a voracious appetite.

The good news is that once the puppy is free of worms, the body can heal itself and regain normal growth and development.

To prevent worms in your puppy, follow the deworming schedule set forth by your breeder and/or veterinarian. If the schedules differ, follow the worming schedule set forth by your veterinarian.

Does Malnutrition Cause Stunting?

A common question puppy parents ask is whether a puppy’s growth can be stunted by taking him off puppy food too soon. The short answer is no, you will not stunt your puppy’s growth by switching to adult food too soon or by mildly under-feeding. Puppy food is formulated to support normal growth and development, and, while it is not ideal, there are millions of dogs out there that do just fine on a diet that is formulated for all life stages, and which are fine to feed to a puppy.

On the contrary, you can do much more damage to your puppy’s long term joint health by over-feeding or giving supplements while the pup is still growing. According to the lifetime studies conducted by Purina on Labrador Retrievers, dogs will live on average two years longer and have much less chronic disease if you keep them slim their whole life. Ask your veterinarian about what the right body condition is for your puppy, and for tips on how much to feed to keep your puppy in his ideal condition.

Just like a human child, your puppy will go through growth spurts during the first year. There will be days when she may need to eat more than the amount she will need as an adult. My 75-pound Goldendoodle, for example, eats two cups a day of dry dog food, but when she was growing (about eight months of age) she would eat up to four cups of food a day. You will need to be flexible about the amount you are feeding her sometimes in order to support her growth and development.

Another common question is whether malnutrition itself will cause stunting. To be sure, puppies that suffer under extreme situations like starvation are at risk for stunted growth. But most puppies that are in caring, loving homes with pet parents who measure the appropriate amount they feed to their puppies — food that is adequate for supporting bones, muscles, and other tissues as they grow — will not have stunting from malnutrition, even if they keep the puppies slim.

Does Spaying or Neutering Cause Stunting?

Having your dog spayed or neutered early will not stunt your puppy’s growth, but it might affect the joints of large breed dogs. Studies show that early spay/neuter does affect the growth plate, delaying its closure and causing dogs to grow taller than they should have. This can predispose the dog to later joint problems. 

This is an excellent topic to discuss with your veterinarian. For small or medium sized dogs, the standard recommendation is still to spay/neuter the dogs between 6-8 months of age. For large breed dogs, however, the recommendation is to hold off until the dog is older to lower the risk of joint disease. For females, spaying should wait until after the first heat cycle, and for males, neutering can be scheduled when the dog is around two years old.

Ask your dog’s doctor for her or his recommendations on when to spay or neuter your dog, and ask them for their reasons behind their recommendations.

Does Strenuous Exercise Cause Stunting?

Engaging in strenuous exercise with your puppy will not stunt his growth, but the excessive impact associated with running may damage the growth plates of the long bones and cause them to develop abnormally, predisposing your puppy to joint issues later in life. Again, this is more a problem for large breed dogs because they simply weigh more.

Playing fetch and allowing your puppy the space to run around until she is tired is fine, but don’t take her jogging or running until she is done growing. For clients who want their medium or large breed dog to be their jogging partner, my standard recommendation is to wait until after 15 months to allow for the bones to grow properly.

Are Certain Breeds at Risk for Stunting?

Is there any one breed that is more predisposed to stunting than another? There is a rare disease called pituitary dwarfism in German Shepherds and in some Labrador Retrievers that has a genetic component, but these conditions are very rare and not generally seen in companion animals.

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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,…

Anemia (Methemoglobinemia) in Dogs

Methemoglobinemia in Dogs

The purpose of hemoglobin in the blood is to carry oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. Methemoglobin is the result of iron oxygenation, and while it is a form of hemoglobin, it does not carry oxygen. Under normal conditions, methemoglobin is converted back to hemoglobin, and a balance is maintained. But when there is too much methemoglobin in the blood, inadequate oxygenation of bodily tissues ensues. A visible sign of methemoglobinemia is when the blood becomes brownish in color, instead of the normal oxygen rich red color. Methemoglobinemia can be the result of a genetic disorder, or it can be caused by later exposure to certain chemical agents.


DepressionWeaknessRapid breathingDiscoloration of skin and mucous membranesJaundiceVomitingHypothermiaSwelling of face or jaw


Genetic disorderAcetaminophen ingestionIbuprofen ingestionTopical anesthetics such as benzocaineSkunk musk


Your veterinarian will want to know whether your dog has ingested acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or whether you have applied a topical medication. Blood tests may also be done at a laboratory to examine the levels of methemoglobins. If the methemoglobinemia is chronic, it is likely that the blood test will reveal a high volume of red blood cells. On the other hand, if the anemia is severe, or the cause is exposure to drugs such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or a topical medication, the veterinarian will look for evidence of organ injury.

A spot test may be performed — where a drop of the dog’s blood will be placed on an absorbent white paper and a drop of normal blood will be placed next to it. If the animal is suffering from methemoglobinemia, its blood will be noticeably browner than the bright red of the normal blood spot.



Mild to moderate — no treatment necessaryIf drug-induced, discontinuation of the drugAcetaminophen or ibuprofen overdose — vomiting induced immediatelyInherited — animals have normal life expectancy and do not require treatmentSeverely anemic — blood transfusionsElectrolyte imbalances resulting from vomiting, diarrhea, kidney injury, or impending shock may be treated with IVsIn cases of severe anemia, methylene blue may be administered intravenously to reduce the methemoglobin count

Living and Management

Exercise extreme care when using acetaminophen and ibuprofen medications. If your pet has ingested them by accident, induce vomiting and take it to the veterinarian immediately. If you are giving your pet ibuprofen for pain, be alert for symptoms of anemia. Color should return to the skin and mucous membranes once the amount of methemoglobin in the blood has returned to a level that is not critical, and blood on the spot test appears bright red. If methylene blue treatment has been given, the proportion of red cells in the blood should be monitored closely.

The Benefits of Proper Nutrition

All necessary vitamins and minerals are included in complete and balanced dog foods. This means that additional foods or supplements are not necessary for your pet’s general health.

What does Good Nutrition do for your Dog?

The proper balance of nutrients is essential when feeding your dog. Animals (and humans) need a certain combination of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water every day in order to function normally. Balanced nutrition is no accident – pet food manufacturers work hard to determine the exact formula that goes into their products so that they provide everything your dog needs on a daily basis.

There are foods designed for specific stages of life (such as for puppies or geriatric dogs), while some provide hypoallergenic nutrition and other formulations are developed to control specific health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, etc.

Each and every nutrient in your dog’s food has a purpose. Without adequate nutrition, your dog would not be able to maintain muscle tone, build and repair muscles, teeth, and bone, perform normal daily activities with ease or fight-off infection. Proteins provide a source of energy and help with muscle function and growth. Fats provide energy, help the brain function, and keep the skin and hair coat shiny and healthy. Carbohydrates supply a source of quick energy that allow your dog to be active and energetic. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for muscle contraction and nerve conduction and they work to prevent disease.

Muscle Tone and Body Condition

Every single cell in the body is made up of protein. It is integral in building skin, hair, muscles, organs and other tissues. Protein is necessary to repair damaged cells and make new ones. Protein is especially important for young, growing and pregnant animals. The protein in your dog’s diet ensures that he is able to build and maintain strong muscles. This is why one of the first few ingredients on a dog food label should be a protein source (chicken, beef, etc.).

Skin and Hair Coat Health

Everyone knows that a dog with a rich, shiny hair coat is most likely in good health. This is because dogs eating the proper balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will have skin that is healthy which produces hair with a nice sheen. Skin that is dry will lead to hair that easily splits, breaks, and falls out easily. Foods with adequate omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect to reduce itching and other irritations caused by allergies or environmental conditions (like low humidity levels in the winter).

Digestion and Elimination

Carbohydrates provide fiber that helps aid digestion and elimination. Dog foods are formulated so that the needed nutrients are readily available to your dog’s digestive system and thus easily absorbed by the body. Digestibility is important so your dog can use all the nutrients in his food and easily rid his body of waste products. Your dog’s food should provide all the nutrition he needs while producing only a minimum of stool to be picked up as the end result.

Immunity and Prevention of Disease

The vitamins and minerals found in every bag of dog food work together to keep your dog’s immune system and metabolism functioning normally. Vitamins work to reduce the damage done to body cells on a daily basis. Minerals promote the normal function of the cells that maintain health. Vitamins and minerals come from both plant and animal sources in the diet. Without adequate levels of vitamins and minerals, your pet would eventually become ill.

More to Explore

5 Things That Could Help Prevent Dog Food Recalls Today

Dog Not Eating? Maybe Your Pet Food Smells or Tastes Bad

6 Nutrients in Pet Food that Can Harm Your Dog

Should I Give My Dog Supplements?

English Setter

The English Setter is a graceful, elegant gundog. Its beautiful, feathered coat is white with an intermingling of darker hairs resulting in markings called “belton.”

Physical Characteristics

The English Setter has a very stylish and sophisticated appearance with an athletic physique and distinct marks on its body. Extra fur is commonly allowed to grow along the dog’s back, tail, legs, and on the underside of its thighs.

Two of the more popular English Setter varieties are the Llewllins (which is a pure strain with bloodlines tracing back to the 19th century breeding program of sportsman R. L. Purcell Llewellin) and Laveracks (also named for one of the developers of the breeding program, Edward Laverack). Generally, the Llewellins possess a thin coat and are small and fast, while the Laverack Setters possess a thicker coat and are larger.

Personality and Temperament

The English Setter should be exercised regularly to keep it calm and gentle; running and hunting are its favorite activities. An affable and pleasing breed, the English Setter is friendly with children and other dogs.


The English Setter should be kept inside with access to the outdoors. To rid its coat of dead hair, comb it once every two or three days. Its daily exercise routine should be about one hour in length.


The English Setter, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, is prone to major health issues such as elbow dysplasia, deafness, hypothyroidism, and canine hip dysplasia (CHD). It is also prone to epilepsy, Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may recommend thyroid, hearing, elbow, hip, and eye exams for the dog.

History and Background

The breed, according to the experts, originated in England over 400 years ago. An excellent bird dog, it was used in moorland to point the target and retrieve it. Further evidence points to the Water Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, and Spanish Pointer as the breeds used to develop the English Setter. The term English Setter, however, was used later on when Edward Laverack started breeding them in 1825.

Purcell Llewellin, another breeder, crossed the Laveracks with English Setters that gave birth to excellent field dogs. Laveracks proved to be excellent show setters and the Llewellin turned out to be marvelous field setters. Regardless of the type, the English Setter can be found throughout the United States, many of which are field dogs.