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How Can You Tell If Your Pet Is Overweight?

Reviewed for accuracy and updated on November 5, 2019, by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s (APOP) 2018 Pet Obesity Survey, 55.8% of dogs are classified as overweight or obese.

That means that most pets these days are overweight, even if many of their owners don’t realize it.

But dog owners should be paying more attention to their dog’s weight, since being overweight puts your dog at risk for many diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and arthritis.

And while your vet can diagnose an overweight or obese dog, it’s easy for you to determine, too, if you know how.

Here are some tips for how to tell if your dog is overweight so that you can start a conversation with your veterinarian and help get your dog back to a healthy weight.

How to Determine If Your Dog Is Overweight

Here are three of the most reliable tools for determining if your dog is overweight.

Body Condition Score Charts

The best way to determine whether a pet is obese is by using a measurement system such as the body condition score, says Dr. Jim Dobies, a veterinarian with South Point Pet Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a member of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association (NCVMA).

Body condition score charts help you figure out where your pet falls on the healthy weight scale. Most body condition score charts work on a scale of 1-5 or 1-9—1 being emaciated, and the highest number being morbidly obese.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has a great example of a body condition score chart that depicts the side view and top view of dogs that are emaciated, underweight, average, overweight and obese.

Visually Assess Your Dog’s Body

But you can also assess your dog without using a dog body condition chart, Dr. Dobies says.

The best way to visually assess your dog’s weight is to stand above them and look down on them. “You should be able to feel their ribs but not see them. If you can see them, they are too skinny,” Dr. Dobies explains.

If you can’t see your dog’s ribs, and you can’t feel them by placing your hands on the sides of their chest, your dog is overweight, says Dr. Dobies.

Dogs should also have a nice taper at their waist (between the abdomen and where the hips go into the socket), he says. “If there is very little or none at all, they are too heavy and they’ll be oval-shaped.”

And a very obese dog, he says, “will have a pendulous abdomen, hip fat and neck fat, all of which are very noticeable.” But pets don’t usually reach this point of obesity until they’re at least 7 years old, he adds.

Healthy Weight Protocol for Dogs

Veterinarians can also use tools like the science-based Healthy Weight Protocol, which was created by Hill’s Pet Nutrition in conjunction with veterinary nutritionists at the University of Tennessee.


A vet takes measurements—four for a dog—then inputs them into the Healthy Weight Protocol system to determine your dog’s body fat index. By comparing this with a chart, your veterinarian can tell you exactly how much weight your pet needs to lose if they are overweight.

This system allows vets to take a more scientific approach to a dog’s weight loss needs. It helps them to determine exactly how many pounds a dog would need to lose and how many calories a day they need to do that healthily. 


Talk With Your Veterinarian

Your veterinarian is your greatest ally for maximizing your dog’s overall health. They can help you determine whether your dog is currently overweight and help you devise the best plan for helping your dog shed the extra weight in a safe way.

By: Amanda Baltazar

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Mouth Cancer (Chondrosarcoma) in Dogs

Oral Chondrosarcoma in Dogs

Chondrosarcomas are characteristic for their slow but progressive invasion of the surrounding tissues. These malignant, cancerous tumors originate in the cartilage, the connective tissue between bones. They are often mistaken for benign (non-spreading) tumors because of their slow spread and lack of symptoms. They are often found by accident, when they have become large enough to notice, appearing as a lump in the mouth or under the skin of the face, or when they have started to cause pain for the affected animal.

These tumors have a smooth to slightly nodular surface and will often stick to bone, often in the upper jaw, where it is also possible for the tumor to further metastasize (i.e., into the bone). They may also spread to the lungs and sometimes into the lymph nodes.

This cancer is relatively rare in dogs, especially compared to other types of chondrosarcomas. When it does occur, it is usually in dogs that are middle-aged and older. Large breed dogs also appear to be more predisposed to oral chondrosarcomas.

Symptoms and Types

Chondrosarcomas are commonly located on the upper jaw, which may cause facial deformity or loose teeth. Other symptoms may include:

Excessive salivation/drooling Bad breath (halitosis) Weight loss Malnutrition Difficulty eating,anorexia Bleeding from the mouth Lymph node swellings in the neck (on occasion)


None identified


You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog’s health and onset of symptoms. A thorough physical exam in this case will include X-rays of the skull to determine the exact location and severity of the tumor, and to see if it has spread into the bone. Chest X-rays can allow your veterinarian to examine your dog’s lungs for further spread of the cancer.

A large, deep-tissue sample (down to the bone) is required to definitively diagnose the tumor type. If your dog’s lymph nodes are enlarged, your veterinarian will also use a fine needle to take fluid and tissue samples from them. The biopsy samples will be sent to a diagnostics laboratory to have the cells analyzed.

In some cases, oral growths may be caused by a condition called osteochondromatosis, in which bony growths that are capped by cartilage will grow up from the flat surfaces of bone in the mouth. These may occur while the dog is still in the growth stage, and growth often ceases when the dog has reached its full size. However, the tumor will need to be excised if it appears to be continuing past the dog’s age of maturity (when the dog has stopped growing), or it could progress to chondrosarcoma or osteosarcoma, both of which are life threatening and highly metastatic forms of cancer.


Your dog will need to have drastic surgery performed to get as much of the tumor out as possible. Often half of the jaw (most often the upper jaw) is removed. This works well and may even achieve remission if the tumor is removed before it has spread. Your veterinarian may also advise radiation therapy for your dog, but this is highly dependent on the nature and behavior of the tumor and on your cat’s overall health. Chemotherapy may be toxic for some animals and should be avoided.

Oral pain medication will need to be administered to the dog to help manage its pain, both before and after surgery.

Living and Management

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

Anemia Due to Deformed Red Blood Cells in Dogs

Anemia, Metabolic (Anemias With Spiculated Red Cells) in Dogs

Metabolic anemia in dogs occurs as the result of any underlying disease related to the kidney, liver, or spleen by which the shape of red blood cells (RBCs) is changed. Normally, red blood cells (RBCs) in dogs are of biconcave discoid shape, but in metabolic anemia, this shape is lost and they become abnormally elongated and blunt, with finger-like projections called spicules coming out of the surface of the RBCs. These abnormalities render RBCs non-functional, and left untreated, can lead to anemia in affected dogs.


Symptoms and Types

There are no specific symptoms related to metabolic anemia in dogs. However, the symptoms related to disease of kidney, liver, or spleen responsible for metabolic anemia may be present.



Any disease of kidney, liver, or spleen Hemangiosarcoma (malignant cancer) of the liver is frequently seen as a common cause


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health and onset of symptoms Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination on your dog, including laboratory tests. A complete blood profile, biochemistry profile, complete blood count and urinalysis will be performed. The results of all these tests will provide valuable information for the diagnosis of this disease. These tests will also provide important clues for diagnosing the underlying disease of the kidney, liver, or spleen, which may be responsible for the metabolic anemia. X-ray imaging and ultrasound will expand your veterinarian’s ability to evaluate the liver, kidney, and spleen structures.



There is no specific treatment for metabolic anemia. Once the underlying disease has been diagnosed, your veterinarian will begin the appropriate treatment. Treating the underlying disease usually resolves the abnormality.

Living and Management


You will need to revisit your veterinarian for progress checks. At each visit certain laboratory tests may need to be repeated in order to follow the current status of the disease and your dog’s level of improvement. Follow your veterinarian’s guidelines regarding your dog’s medication, nutrition, and management during the recovery period.

Heart Disease of the Sinus Node in Dogs

Sick Sinus Syndrome in Dogs

The sinoatrial node (SA Node, or SAN), also called the sinus node, is the initiator of electrical impulses within the heart, triggering the heart to beat, or contract, by firing off electrical surges. Sick sinus syndrome (SSS) is a disorder of the heart’s electrical impulse formation within the sinus node. It is also a disorder of the conduction of the electrical impulse out of the sinus node. Sick sinus syndrome will also affect subsidiary (backup) pacemakers and the specialized conduction system of the heart. Pacemaker refers to the generation of electrical impulses within the muscle tissue, which set the pace for the heart’s rhythm.

On an electrocardiogram (ECG), the irregular contraction of the heart (arrhythmia) will be visible. Tachycardia-bradycardia syndrome, in which the heart beats too slowly, and then too quickly, is a variant of sick sinus syndrome. Clinical signs of sick sinus syndrome in animals will become apparent when organs begin to dysfunction because they are not receiving a normal amount of blood supply.

This syndrome 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

Some dogs will not show any symptoms of sick sinus syndrome, especially if they tend to be fairly inactive under normal circumstances. Generally, the symptoms that will present are:

Weakness Fainting Fatigue Collapse Seizure Abnormally fast, or abnormally slow heart rate Pauses in the heart rate Rarely, sudden death


The causes for this condition are mostly unknown. Some of the suspected relationships to SSS are genetic, since some breeds, like the miniature schnauzer, appear to be predisposed; another cause is heart disease that is cutting off the blood supply to or from the heart and disrupting normal heart function, including the electrical functionality; and, cancer in the thoracic or pulmonary (both refer to the chest) region may also lead to SSS.


Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam, including a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel to verify proper organ function. You will need to give your doctor a thorough history of your dog’s health, including a background history and onset of symptoms, and possible incidents or recent health conditions that might have precipitated this condition. The history you provide may give your veterinarian clues as to which organs are being affected secondarily.

A provocative atropine response test may be done to assess sinus node function. This test uses the drug atropine to stimulate the firing action (sending electrical impulses out) of the SA Node. Dogs with SSS generally will have no response, or will have an incomplete response to the atropine.

An ECG may be indicated in certain breeds which are predisposed to SSS, as these same breeds are often predisposed to other diseases of the heart valves (the valves that separate the four chambers of the heart). Hence, if there is a heart murmur, disease of any of the heart’s valves should first be ruled out.


Only patients showing clinical signs need treatment, and only patients requiring electrophysiologic testing of the heart, or implantation of an artificial pacemaker will need to be hospitalized.

Dogs that do not respond to medical therapy, or have adverse medical side effects to therapy, and/or dogs with abnormally fast/abnormally slow heart rate syndrome will need to have an artificial pacemaker implanted. Attempts to manage an abnormally fast or abnormally slow heart rate syndrome medically, without prior pacemaker implantation, carry a significant risk of worsening the extremes of the abnormally fast or abnormally slow heart rate syndrome.

Living and Management

While your dog is healing from this condition, you will need to keep its physical activity to a minimum. Encourage rest in a quiet, non-stressful environment as much as possible, away from other pets or active children. Although therapy for SSS may seem to work at the beginning of treatment, medical therapy commonly does not work. The only alternative in these instances is surgical correction.


As the original fire dog, Dalmatians would run alongside fire carriages in the 1700s, according to the Dalmatian Club of America (DCA). The spotted dogs acted as sirens, barking to let people know they needed to get out of the way of the carriage. Dalmatians still work with firefighters today, though most often as a mascot comforting firefighters or teaching young people about fire safety.

Dalmatians’ loyalty, intelligence, and energetic nature means they require a highly active lifestyle. They are natural competitors and love competing in dog sports like agility. But Dalmatians are also independent canine companions who will take charge if given the opportunity, so it’s important to start training at a young age.

Caring for a Dalmatian

Adopting a Dalmatian means committing to an active lifestyle. Dalmatians are rambunctious, highly energetic, and need a lot of daily exercise. Without adequate activity, these dogs may develop undesirable behaviors to keep themselves entertained. 

Dalmatians shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time—not only because they crave activity, but also because they can experience separation anxiety. They need a family of homebodies or people who are willing to take their dog with them wherever they go. 

Dalmatian Health Issues

This breed is prone to many hereditary conditions, so pet insurance is a good investment for those looking to bring home a Dalmatian puppy. Keeping up with regular vet appointments is also an essential part of Dalmatian care.

Bladder Stones

Dalmatians are prone to urinary stones and more likely to develop them than many other breeds, according to the DCA. Veterinarians can test for this disease with a DNA test, X-rays, ultrasounds, or a urine analysis. If your Dalmatian develops a urate bladder stone, she will typically need surgery and need to be on a special lifelong diet to help prevent them from reoccurring.  


It’s not uncommon for Dalmatians to be deaf. According to the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, 5% of Dalmatians are totally deaf, and another 15%-30% are deaf in one ear. Deaf dogs will need special training and living considerations, such as using hand signals in place of voice commands. 

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a life-threatening condition where the heart becomes enlarged, thin, and weak. Dalmatians with dilated cardiomyopathy will become weak, tired, have trouble breathing, or cough. DCM is a common cause of congestive heart failure in dogs, which can be life-threatening. Veterinarians can detect abnormal heart issues with a physical examination, a chest X-ray, an echocardiogram, and/or an electrical heart screening (EKG).  

Dalmatian Bronzing Syndrome

Dalmatian bronzing syndrome (also known as “Dal crud”) is a skin condition where Dalmatians develop pink or bronze coloration in their coat. Dalmatians with this condition will also experience hair loss, crusty skin patches, and inflammation of the hair follicles. Your dog may need antibiotics, special shampoo, medication, and/or dietary changes to manage this condition.

What To Feed a Dalmatian

Dalmatians are medium to large dogs that stand 19-24 inches tall and weigh 45-70 pounds. They need to eat a dog food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for their age group, to help them stay at an appropriate weight. 

How To Feed a Dalmatian

If you’re considering Dalmatian adoption, know that they may have to be on a low-purine diet because they can develop urate bladder stones. This diet restricts the amount of liver, beef, and kidney that a dog eats, as these meats include purine, a compound that can lead to the formation of crystals and stones in the bladder. Speak with your veterinarian before putting your Dalmatian on a low-purine diet. 

How Much Should You Feed a Dalmatian?

The exact amount of food you give your Dalmatian depends on her weight. Follow the instructions on your dog food’s label to figure out how much you should feed your Dalmatian each day. If you notice your canine companion scarfing down her food too quickly, give her a slow feeder bowl.

Because Dalmatians have a high level of uric acid, they should not be fed table scraps. Commercial dog foods are typically fine for them.

Nutritional Tips for Dalmatians

Dalmatians typically get all their nutrients from a well-balanced dog food. Do not give your pup supplements unless recommended by your veterinarian.

Behavior and Training Tips for Dalmatians

Dalmatian Personality and Temperament

Dalmatians are intelligent and energetic. They are the perfect pup for anyone with an active lifestyle because they require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. Because of this, Dalmatians are at their best when they have a job to do. And while that job doesn’t need to be putting out a fire, they will benefit from learning tricks or competing in dog sports. 

These playful pups can be good with kids and other pets, but small children must be taught how to treat dogs nicely. And, as with any dog breed, interactions with kids should always be supervised. 

Dalmatian Behavior

While Dalmatians are friendly and loving toward people they know, they can be aloof and uninterested when meeting new people, especially in adulthood. This is why socializing Dalmatian puppies early in life is so important.

“Once mature, Dalmatians as a breed are known to act distant, and ignore unfamiliar people and dogs,” says Karishma Warr, head of training and behavior at Calm Canine Academy. That said, Dalmatians will bark occasionally, mostly to get your attention.

Dalmatian Training

Dalmatians are independent and headstrong, so training them is a practice in patience. They respond best to positive reinforcement training, so give them lots of praise with healthy treats, toys, and head pats. But these pups are super smart, too, and can pick up on training cues quickly when properly motivated.

Once she learns the basics, your Dalmatian can benefit from next-level training. Teach her to run an agility course, swim around a lake, or enroll her in Dalmatian Road Trial, a performance event where an off-leash Dalmatian follows a handler on horseback or a horse-drawn carriage.

Fun Activities for Dalmatians

Daily walks


Dock diving




Frisbee toss


Dalmatian Grooming Guide

A Dalmatian’s spotted coat doesn’t require a lot of upkeep, but she will need weekly brushing and occasional baths. But don’t be fooled by the Dalmatian’s short coat; they are heavy shedders.

As part of their regular care routine, Dalmatians need their nails trimmed monthly, and their teeth should be brushed at least weekly to deter dental disease.

Skin Care

Dalmatians are prone to skin allergies and other skin conditions such as dry skin and hair loss. Any shampoos or products used on a Dalmatian should be made for dogs with sensitive skin. Take your Dalmatian to the vet if you see her:

Excessively licking

Excessively scratching

Losing hair

Showing red, irritated, or flaky skin

Some Dalmatians dealing with skin allergies will need medication, medicated baths, or other treatments.

Coat Care

Dalmatian puppies are born with an all-white coat; their characteristic Dalmatian spots begin to develop when they’re 2 weeks old. This speckled coat sheds heavily year-round, and the breed needs to be brushed at least once a week with a rubber comb or mitt. 

Eye Care

Dalmatians don’t need special eye care, but they may develop glaucoma as they age. Glaucoma leads to blindness if left untreated, so if your Dalmatian is squinting or scratching at her eyes, or if her eyes become red or watery, contact your veterinarian.

Ear Care

As with all floppy-eared dogs, a Dalmatian’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, including: 




Shaking the head

Excessive scratching

Head tilt


It’s important to keep your Dalmatian’s ears clean and dry. Clean your dog’s ears regularly, including after every bath and swimming session. Contact your veterinarian if you notice ear infection symptoms.

Considerations for Pet Parents

As a highly energetic breed, Dalmatians need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to expend all that energy. “A standard leash walk will likely not meet their exercise needs,” Warr says. Dalmatian pet parents need to commit to lots of walks, runs, and other activities like agility or nose work. With an active and attentive family, Dalmatians can thrive in almost any living situation, though they prefer a fenced-in yard to explore and run around.

Dalmatian FAQs

How much do Dalmatians cost?

Purebred Dalmatian puppies can cost $500-$2,000, though the price can go as high as $5,000. The cost will depend on the pup’s bloodline, and the breeder’s reputation, location, and other factors.

Additionally, your Dalmatian will need regular veterinary visits dog food, training classes, food and water bowls, leashes, poop bags, and dog toys. You may even opt for pet insurance. The expense of dog ownership depends on your dog’s overall health, your budget and lifestyle, and their needs.

How long do Dalmatians live?

Dalmatian dogs generally live 11-13 years. Give your Dalmatian the best shot at a long life by providing a healthy diet, regular exercise, and regular trips to the veterinarian.

Do Dalmatians bark a lot?

Every dog is an individual. Dalmatians are not the noisiest breed, but they may bark in response to stimuli such as doorbells and sirens.

Why is the Dalmatian a fire dog?

Though Dalmatians are an ancient breed—according to the DCA, their history dates back centuries, though the exact origins are unknown—they have earned the nickname “Firehouse Dog” because of their close association with firefighters. In the 1700s, the dogs would run alongside horse-drawn fire engines, barking to clear the road. Today, Dalmatians serve as more of a mascot for many firehouses.

Are Dalmatians rare dogs?

While less common than other breeds, Dalmatians are not rare. However, long-haired Dalmatians (pups with the same polka-dot pattern on fur that’s 2-4 inches long) are much rarer, as the longer locks are caused by recessive genes. 

And while most of these dogs are black and white, there are also lemon Dalmatians that have yellow-ish or orange-ish spots. Like long-haired Dalmatians, this rare lemon color is caused by recessive genes. 

Featured Image: iStock/alvarez

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Kaitlyn Arford

Kaitlyn Arford is an award-winning freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the American Kennel Club, Betterpet, PetMD, and more. As…

8 Tips for Helping House Guests with Pet Allergies

by Geoff Williams

Some people love dogs and cats… from a distance. That is, the moment they get close and personal, they start sneezing or coughing, or worse, have trouble breathing.

If you have pets, you may have some friends or family members who are allergic to them. And while some TV animal reality shows have created a lot of drama out of pet owners having to choose between a significant other or the dog or cat, there’s really nothing entertaining about having someone you care for tell you that they can’t visit your home or hang out with you because of their allergies.

Obviously, if this is a friend or family member who has severe, life threatening allergies, common sense should tell you that you’ll want to visit their home instead of risking a visit to yours, and with any luck, your relationship won’t suffer. But if a house guest has less severe but still annoying allergies, and they’re coming over for a visit, there are some simple steps you can take, along with a couple of Hail Mary passes, that will make everyone breathe a little easier.

Start Cleaning

OK, you figured that. But specifically, get out the vacuum, and if you don’t already do it, keep your pets away from any guest bedrooms and off upholstered furniture, says Robin Wilson, an ambassador for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and the author of Clean Design: Wellness for Your Lifestyle. She is also a New York City-based interior designer who specializes in creating healthy homes.

Wilson advises people to limit their pets’ access to carpets and rugs, where possible. Why? Because carpets are like theme parks for pet allergens. If you have pet dander, it lives in your carpet and probably isn’t going anywhere, unless you have your carpets professionally cleaned.

Wilson also recommends that pet owners “clean the areas where your pet spends the most time as carefully and frequently as possible,” especially if your guest will be spending time in any of those areas.

And pay particular attention to cleaning the guest room, says Sarah Nold, DVM, an on-staff veterinarian with Trupanion, a pet medical insurance provider that is based out of Seattle, WA. Pet dermatology is one of Nold’s specialties.

Even better, if you have a guest room, and assuming it’s practical, Nold suggests that you keep it off-limits to the pets at all times. There’s nothing worse than waking to finding yourself wheezing, hacking, and having trouble breathing.

Keep Your Home Well Ventilated

Open the windows, and if you have a window fan, use it, Nold says.

“Running a window fan or opening windows improves ventilation,” Nold says. In other words, you’re trying to create an exit door for those allergens.

But keeping your home well-ventilated works best along with vacuuming and dusting, Nold says.

Run an Air Purifier

This solution may not be practical if you’re on a tight budget. Air purifiers can be expensive; easily into the hundreds of dollars. But if you do buy one, buy one with an HEPA filter.

“A good purifier with an HEPA filter will remove at least 99.97 percent of airborne particles,” Wilson says.

“You could put the air purifier in the room where you and your visitor will be most of the time, or in his or her bedroom, if your guest is staying over,” suggests Patrick Mahaney, DVM, a Los Angeles-based holistic veterinarian.

Bathe Your Dog

“You can do it, or have a professional groomer do it, but either way, it’s a good idea for a dog to get a bath shortly before a visit to reduce some of the allergens and dander,” Mahaney says.

Brush Your Cat

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“Most cats don’t tolerate bathing, although if yours does, using a hypoallergenic shampoo to bathe your cat is an option,” Nold says.

“However, regular brushing is usually sufficient to decrease the amount of dander and hair that is shed into the cat’s environment, such as your house,” says Nold.  “You can also use grooming wipes for cats, preferably hypoallergenic and fragrance free.”

She suggests you don’t use any medicated shampoos or wipes on either your dog or cat, unless they’ve been recommended by your veterinarian.

Have Some Allergy Medicine Around

It can’t hurt to stock some over-the-counter allergy medicines in your cabinet for your house guest, Mahaney says, citing Claritin, Benadryl, and Tavist as some types of medications you may want to seek out.

Keep Your Pets in Another Room or Out in Your Yard

It depends on how bad your guest’s allergies are, and, of course, it may not be practical or advisable to have your pets outside, if, for instance, your cats are indoor cats, or the weather isn’t working in your pet’s favor. But if your visitor’s allergies are pretty bad, this might be the time to find a kennel or at least remember to keep your pet off in another room. Obviously, you don’t want to clean your home and remove virtually every scrap of dog fur and cat hair only to fall into your natural habits and have your pets come bounding in when your guest arrives.

Make Other Accommodations

And if things get really sneezy and wheezy or you simply don’t have the time to make your home allergy-free?

“You could prepare a listing of some nice local hotels,” Mahaney says.

Rapid Heart Rate in Dogs

Sinus Tachycardia in Dogs

Sinus tachycardia (ST) is clinically described as a sinus rhythm (heartbeat) with impulses that arise at a faster-than-normal rate: greater than 160 beats per minute (bpm) in standard sized dogs, 140 bpm in giant breeds, 180 bpm in toy breeds, and 220 bpm in puppies. Changes in heart rate usually involve a reciprocal action of the parasympathetic and sympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous system.

Severe tachycardia can compromise cardiac output, as too rapid rates shorten the diastolic filling time, the point in which the chambers of the heart dilate and fill with blood – which occurs in the space between heart beats. Particularly in diseased hearts, the increased heart rate can fail to compensate for decreased volume, resulting in decreased cardiac output, decreased coronary blood flow and a concurrent increase in oxygen demands. This is the most common benign arrhythmia in dogs. It is also the most common rhythm disturbance in postoperative patients. 


Symptoms and Types

Often no clinical signs because condition is a compensatory response to a variety of stressesIf associated with primary cardiac disease, weakness, exercise intolerance, or loss of consciousness may be reportedPale mucous membranes if associated with anemia or congestive heart failureFever may be presentSigns of congestive heart failure, such as shortness of breath, cough, and pale mucous membranes may be present when ST is associated with primary cardiac disease



ExercisePainRestraintExcitementAnxiety, anger, fright


FeverCongestive heart failureChronic lung diseaseShockFluid in the chestAnemiaInfection/sepsisLow oxygen levels/hypoxiaPulmonary blood clotLow blood pressureReduced blood volumeDehydrationTumor

Risk Factors

Thyroid medicationsPrimary cardiac diseasesInflammationPregnancy


Because there are so many things that can cause this condition, it is difficult to diagnose and differentiate from other similar diseases. Your veterinarian will most likely use differential diagnosis. This process is guided by a deeper inspection of the apparent outward symptoms, ruling out each of the more common causes until the correct disorder is settled upon and can be treated appropriately.

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog, taking into account the background history of symptoms that you have provided and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis,which may show infections of the blood or disorders of the organs (e.g., heart, kidneys).

Your doctor may also order chest X-rays to look for possible evidence of primary cardiac disease or tumors. An electrocardiogram (ECG, or EKG) is essential for evaluating the electrical currents in the heart muscles, and may reveal any abnormalities in cardiac electrical conduction (which underlies the heart’s ability to contract/beat), and may show structural cardiac diseases that are affecting the heart. Ultrasound and angiography are also very useful for evaluating adrenal masses. Your doctor may also conduct a thyroid scan to evaluate your dog for hyperthyroidism.


Your veterinarian will develop a treatment plan for your dog once a diagnosis has been confirmed. If there is an underlying cause, that will be the primary focus of treatment.

Living and Management

The care of your dog following diagnosis will depend on the specific disease that is found to be causing the sinus tachycardia. Restricting your dog’s activity so that its heart rate does not increase excessively may be called for, but only if your dog is being adversely affected by the increased heart rate.

Swelling of the Salivary Gland in Dogs

What is Swelling of the Salivary Gland in Dogs?

Dogs have several salivary glands located in the neck and area around the jaw. Swelling of the salivary glands (sialocele) occurs when one (or more) of these glands leaks saliva into the tissue surrounding the gland. When a leak occurs, the body forms a capsule called a sialocele around it to prevent the saliva from spreading to nearby tissue.

Swelling of the salivary gland most commonly occurs in glands in the upper neck or between the bones of the lower jaw. Other types of salivary gland swelling occur in glands under the tongue, in the upper throat, or under the eyes.

Symptoms of Swelling of the Salivary Gland in Dogs

Swelling is the most common symptom of salivary gland swelling. The swelling typically occurs in the area nearby the affected gland. The swollen area will feel soft and is usually not painful to the dog.

Swelling may occur in a dog’s upper neck or mouth. Although the swelling may be extensive, your dog may not show any signs of experiencing pain related to the swelling.  

Swelling of the neck that causes trouble swallowing or breathing can also occur. This can be serious as it can result in respiratory distress. If your dog is unable to swallow or breathe normally, they should receive immediate care from a veterinarian.

Your dog may also have trouble eating or may have blood in their saliva. This occurs because the siaocele can be disrupted during eating, causing blood to leak and mix with your dog’s saliva.

Enlargement of the area underneath the eye and/or protrusion of the eye itself may also occur alongside salivary gland swelling. 

Causes of Swelling of the Salivary Gland in Dogs

There is no known cause for swelling of the salivary glands, but some type of trauma is usually suspected. Choke collars, bite wounds, and chewing on foreign items (like sticks, etc.) are typical suspects, but the swelling may have a range of causes. 

How Veterinarians Diagnose Swelling of the Salivary Gland in Dogs

If your dog has swollen salivary glands, your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination and will feel the swollen area, to determine a possible cause.     

Your veterinarian may also perform other tests to determine the cause of the swelling, including:


Blood chemistry 

Cytology exam: Your vet will collect a small sample of the swollen area with a very fine needle (a fine needle aspiration). The sample will be examined under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis

Treatment for Swelling of the Salivary Gland in Dogs

Surgery to remove the affected gland is the most common treatment of a sialocele. Removing the gland decreases the flow of saliva into the swollen area and typically prevents similar capsules of saliva forming in the area.  

After surgery, at-home care will be provided as the area continues to heal. Your veterinarian may insert a drain that will remain in place for a few days. They will also provide instructions tailored to your dog’s specific needs and severity of surgery. This may include using a cone or other barrier to prevent your dog from scratching and accidentally removing the drain. 

You may also need to remove and reapply clean bandages, per your vet’s instructions.

Recovery and Management of Swelling of the Salivary Gland in Dogs

Most dogs make a complete recovery after surgery on salivary glands. Some owners worry that their dog will have a dry mouth after surgery, but currently there is no evidence to support this concern.

Swelling of the Salivary Gland in Dogs FAQs

Will swelling of the salivary gland in dogs go away?

Yes. The swelling will resolve after surgery and typically no further treatment is required. Without surgery, swelling will usually reoccur until the affected salivary gland is surgically removed.


Featured Image:

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Katherine Smith, DVM, CVA, CVSMT



Recognized as the official state dog of New Hampshire, the Chinook was developed to be the perfect sled and working dog. Now popular as a family dog, the Chinook is a friendly and smart large breed.

Physical Characteristics

The Chinook can weigh anywhere from 55 to 90 pounds and stands at a height of 21 to 27 inches. This breed is very muscular, with a long snout and pointed ears. The coat is a tawny color, ranging from a light tan to a deeper reddish coloring with black markings at the end of the snout, around the eyes, and inside the ears.

Personality and Temperament

This breed is known as a kind and friendly dog that is good with people and other animals. Although large, the Chinook is not aggressive and has even been known to be shy at times. Originally bred as a weight-bearing sled dog, the Chinook is very intelligent.


The coat of a Chinook requires little grooming, but because of its thickness it does shed, so a daily brushing may help to keep the shedding manageable. It requires moderate exercise and is a good family pet.


There are no breed-specific health problems associated with the Chinook. However, common hereditary problems can occur, such as hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and atopy. Chinooks live an estimated lifespan of about 10 to 15 years.

History and Background

The Chinook dog breed can be traced back to one ancestor — a puppy that was born into a litter of three in 1917 and that was aptly named “Chinook.” Arthur Walden of Wonalancet, New Hampshire is credited with the first “Chinook.” That first puppy was a combination of a Mastiff, Saint Bernard type on the father’s side, and a Greenland Husky on the mother’s side. Chinook grew into a dog that was powerful and intelligent enough to lead a team of sled dogs — the Perry North Pole Team — and friendly and gentle enough with children to be a good family dog.

One of the things that made the original Chinook so interesting was that he did not resemble either of his parents, although his physical characteristics would be passed on to his offspring. Eventually the Chinook breed would become known for its immense size and strength, as well as its stealthy speed. In fact, most Chinooks were used as sled dogs, and were well regarded for their ability to carry heavier loads for further distances than other breeds.

The core of the breeding stock would pass from Walden to Perry and Honey Greene, who promoted the dog breed for many years. However, in 1965, the Chinook was declared the rarest dog in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. The Chinook breed eventually saw somewhat of a rebound in numbers as it spread to other countries around the world, and was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1991.

Featured Image: Ross

Ingestion of Feces and Foreign Objects in Dogs

Coprophagia and Pica in Dogs

Pica is a medical issue referring to a dog’s craving of a non-food item and the subsequent eating of said item. Coprophagia, meanwhile, is the eating and ingesting of feces.

Generally, neither of these conditions are the result of an underlying disease, however, it can occur. Fortunately, there are treatment options in these types of cases, or behavior modification practices that can be implemented if it is a non-medical issue.

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

You may observe the dog eating dirt, clay, rocks, soap, or other items that can endanger the dog’s health. The largest organ system that is affected by this behavior is the gastrointestinal tract, especially if foreign objects are being swallowed. You may notice that the dog is vomiting, has loose stools, or has diarrhea. There may be weakness and lethargy in the dog.


There are several possible causes of dogs eating feces or other non-food items, including malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, increased appetite, or conditions such as diabetes, or thyroid disease. Parasites can be another of the causes for this behavior.

Sometimes a dog will eat their feces if there are undigested articles of food in their stool. Mothers with newborns will also commonly eat the feces of their newborns. As such, puppies may eat feces as an observation of the mother’s behavior or as part of exploration. In addition, a dog may eat feces as a response to recent punishment, to get attention or because it desires to clean its environmental area

Medical Causes:

Inflammatory bowel diseaseDiabetesIntestinal parasitesAnemiaIncreased hungerNeurological diseaseVitamin deficiencyMalnutritionThyroid disease


Your veterinarian will be looking to distinguish between medical and behavioral causes. A full physical examination will be recommended to rule out underlying medical causes. If it is not due to a medical condition, the veterinarian will conduct a full history on the dog, including its diet and appetite, handling practices, and information about its environment. This will assist the veterinarian in developing a proper treatment plan.


The treatment will also depend on whether the underlying cause is medical or behavioral in nature. For instance, if it is behavioral in nature, your veterinarian may recommend changing the dog’s environment or using forms of behavior modification, such as a muzzle. Moreover, limit the dog’s access to any non-food items in the home.

Living and Management

Follow up is recommended during the first few months following the initial treatment of the dog.


Prevention of this type of behavior will require limiting the dog’s access to non-food items, or applying a bitter or pungent taste to such items to discourage regular consumption or chewing. Keeping the dog’s area clean and disposing of waste promptly will also bar the dog’s access to feces.

In addition, dietary needs must be met to be sure that the dog is being supplied with all of its vitamin and nutritional needs, and to be sure that the dog is being fed the required amount of food.