Archive : June

Brain and Spinal Cord Inflammation (Meningoencephalomyelitis, Eosinophilic) in Dogs

Meningoencephalomyelitis in Dogs

Eosinophilic meningoencephalomyelitis is a condition that causes the inflammation of the brain, spinal cord, and their membranes due to abnormally high numbers of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Often, the increase of eosinophils is in response to a parasite infection, tumor or allergic reaction in the dog.

Although dogs of any age may succumb to eosinophilic meningoencephalomyelitis, Golden retrievers seem to be predisposed to the condition.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms vary in location and severity, but are often related to the nervous system such as circling, loss of memory, seizures and blindness.


It is common for the underlying cause to the eosinophilic meningoencephalomyelitis to be idiopathic (or unknown) in nature. Other typical factors associated with this disease include:<

Allergies (also common) Tumors Parasite infections Fungal infections Vaccinations


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms. The veterinarian will then conduct a complete physical examination and several laboratory tests — such as complete blood count (CBC), blood culture biochemistry profile, and urinalysis — to help identify and isolate the cause of inflammation.

Blood testing may reveal abnormally high number of eiosinophils in the blood. Biochemistry profiling, for example, may show abnormal liver enzyme activity, indicating parasitic infections. And magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may reveal tumorous lesions in the dog’s brain or spinal cord.

One of the most important diagnostic tests, however, is CSF (or cerebrospinal fluid) analysis. A sample of your dog’s CSF will be collected and sent to a laboratory for culturing and further evaluation. In case of idiopathic or allergic causes, abnormally high numbers of eiosinophils are seen in the CSF. Tumors, meanwhile, are generally associated with an abnormally low number of white blood cells along with a small number of eiosinophils in the CSF.


Due to the severity of the disease, most dogs with eosinophilic meningoencephalomyelitis will need to be hospitalized. In cases where no underlying cause can be identified (idiopathic), your veterinarian may prescribe steroids for a few weeks to control inflammation. Otherwise, dogs are kept on certain diet and movement restrictions until a cause, and more specific treatment regimen, can be found.

Living and Management

Overall prognosis heavily depends on the underlying cause of the disease. However, prognosis is good if aggressive treatment is conducted quickly — most dogs will improve within first 72 hours and recover after six to eight weeks.

During hospitalization, your dog is often examined every six hours. Post-treatment, the veterinarian may request that you bring the dog for regular follow-up evaluations.

Rat Terrier

Rat Terriers are every bit as tenacious and active as they are entertaining and funny, which makes this adorable little dog a fantastic fit for some families—but a challenge for those who aren’t patient or ready to laugh at their antics. Between this, their intelligence, and their energy levels, they’re typically best suited to experienced pet parents.

Bred to hunt rats, as their name suggests, Rat Terriers are bright and nimble. While they can still certainly excel in the hunt, this is a very family-oriented dog that wants to join in with whatever his people happen to be doing.

This breed comes in two compact sizes: a miniature Rat Terrier dog that stands 10–13 inches tall, and the standard size that’s 13–18 inches tall. The Rat Terrier lifespan is generally 12–18 years. 

Caring for a Rat Terrier

“Rat Terriers are, in general, the ‘jack-of-all-trades’ of the terrier world,” says Tracey Kallas, an AKC judge, vice president and judges education coordinator for the Rat Terrier Club of America and owner of K2 Rat Terriers. She’s been breeding, training, showing, and loving the breed for 30 years.

Rat Terriers are incredible hunters, containing the intelligence and sense of humor that you’d expect in a terrier. They also have a strong desire to be with their people; this is not a breed that enjoys being left alone for long periods.

Athletic and playful, Rat Terriers are feisty, funny dogs that need an appropriate outlet for their energy. If they’re restless or bored, they may use their bright mind to come up with a way to entertain themselves that you’re unlikely to appreciate. Grooming, however, is generally a cinch thanks to their slick, tight coat—but be aware that they do still shed.

As much as they love their family, this breed was bred to hunt vermin—and their natural prey drive reflects that, so early (and consistent!) socialization and training is a must. “Ratties,” as they’re often called, typically get along well with other pets (including cats!) if they’re raised with them. That said, they can view pocket pets like hamsters as snacks rather than siblings.

Rat Terrier Health Issues

Rat Terriers that have their nutritional, environmental, and social needs met and come from responsible breeders tend to be healthy dogs. However, there are a few potential health issues for which the national breed club recommends testing.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint has developed abnormally and creates a loose joint. Dogs with this condition generally show signs of discomfort including reduced mobility, less interest in activity, or simply moving stiffly. Talk to your vet about whether joint supplements, anti-inflammatory medications, or even surgery may help your pup.

Patellar Luxation

This condition, where the kneecap (or patella) shifts out of place, is common in Rat Terriers and other small dog breeds. Dogs with patellar luxation might “skip” or “bunny hop,” lifting a hind leg as they walk. Treatment might not be necessary in mild cases, but joint supplements might be helpful with this condition. Surgery might be recommended if the luxation is severe.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease

Dogs with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease experience a disintegration of their hip joint at the head of their femur bone. This can lead to pain and osteoarthritis. Your vet will diagnose the condition with X-rays, and treatment is often done with surgery. Dogs usually recover very easily from this surgery and go on to live long, pain-free lives.

Primary Lens Luxationlens luxation may have painful, reddened eyes; iris or lens trembling; or other abnormalities that your veterinarian will be able to observe. This condition can lead to glaucoma and, if left untreated, total blindness.

Cardiac Disease

Rat Terriers, especially as they age, can develop heart disease. They may have a heart murmur that your vet will detect, but other symptoms may include coughing, weight loss, fatigue, or fainting from excitement or exercise. It’s also possible for a dog to have heart issues with no symptoms.

Your veterinarian will advise you on whether changes to diet and exercise are in order, and in some cases your Rat Terrier might need lifelong medications.

What To Feed a Rat Terrier

A balanced diet of high-quality dog food is best for a Rat Terrier. Opt for commercially available food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to make sure your food of choice provides proper nutrition and meets all necessary regulations. A dog food designed for small dog breeds would be appropriate, and—because Rat Terriers can be prone to skin allergies from various causes—Kallas says she looks for kibble with a fish-based protein (otherwise, she supplements with fish oil).

How To Feed a Rat Terrier 

Rat Terriers tend to be good eaters, so feed them a measured amount of a food appropriate for their life stage (puppy, adult, or senior) twice a day. Free-feeding, or leaving food out all the time, is not recommended; this can easily cause them to become overweight or obese.

How Much Should You Feed a Rat Terrier? 

Although they’re small and active, Rat Terriers are prone to obesity, says Iram Sharma, DVM and veterinary writer. This is particularly concerning due to their potential for joint and cardiac issues.

Always make sure you’re feeding your Rat Terrier the proper amount. Your AAFCO-approved dog food will have portion recommendations on the bag, and your vet can help with any feeding questions.

Nutritional Tips for Rat Terriers 

Because Rat Terriers are prone to joint issues, Sharma recommends pet parents talk to their vet about incorporating joint-friendly supplements that contain chondroitin and glucosamine into their dog’s diet.

Behavior and Training Tips for Rat Terriers

Rat Terrier Personality and Temperament  

Rat Terriers are persistent and tenacious when it comes to problem-solving and getting a job done. Kallas loves this about the breed, but she admits it can also be downright difficult for inexperienced dog parents who aren’t prepared to set (and stick to!) firm and consistent rules. Ratties need plenty of physical and mental stimulation; remember, these are bright pups with a curious nature, so it’s on you to keep them out of trouble. 

If a Rat Terrier is introduced to new people (including children), other dogs, and cats early on, they’ll likely get along with everyone. As with any dog, supervision with children is recommended. “Rat Terriers can be very affectionate and good with children; however, not all dogs like kids, just like not all humans like kids,” Kallas says. She strongly recommends working closely with a reputable Rat Terrier breeder to find a puppy that’s a good fit for your situation. 

Rat Terrier Behavior 

As members of the terrier group, Rat Terriers can have a propensity to dig, particularly if they aren’t receiving enough attention. Paired with their insatiable curiosity and athletic nature, this can make them talented escape artists, so this is not a dog you should leave alone in your backyard. They’re not generally nuisance barkers but, again, if they’re feeling bored or lonely, they may let you know.

Regular exercise is non-negotiable, but they don’t need to be kept moving at all times. The important thing is that your Rat Terrier feels engaged in what their family is doing. “They are smart enough and social enough to want to be a part of everything, to want to know and understand what is going on around them, and to try to be part of the fun,” Kallas says. 

Rat Terrier Training  

Socializing your Rat Terrier puppy (in addition to providing them with appropriate mental and physical stimulation) is essential. And while that should begin with your breeder, that’s only the start. “[Breeders] do their job for the first eight weeks, and it’s your job to work on that for at least the next year. And it is a job,” Kallas says. “The best thing you can do for your new family member is get them out into the world and experience it with them.”

Rat Terriers do best with positive reinforcement, patience, and clear boundaries—though, Kallas says, they will test those boundaries. Training sessions should be kept short, fun, and full of rewards for good behavior. Introducing them to crate training early on is wise, because it will keep them (and anything they can get their teeth on) safe if you need to leave them alone for a bit.

Fun Activities for Rat Terriers 


Obedience training


Scent work/tracking




Playing with toys

Cuddling on the couch

Being with their people

Rat Terrier Grooming Guide

With their short, dense coat, Rat Terriers are low maintenance in the grooming department. But it should be noted that they shed mildly throughout the year, with a heavier seasonal shed in the spring and fall. 

Pet parents need to keep up with weekly nail trims, and Kallas recommends annual dental cleanings. “These are tough little dogs who use their mouths to interact with the world,” she says, “so keeping their teeth healthy is important for their happiness.”

Skin Care 

“Rat Terriers’ skin is quite sensitive, especially around the belly region,” Sharma says. “They are prone to chronic allergies and scratching, which often results in secondary bacterial infections.” If you notice your Rattie scratching or licking more than usual or any red bumps or hair loss, talk to your veterinarian right away to reduce the risk of a more serious infection.

Coat Care 

The Rat Terrier’s coat doesn’t require too much to stay smooth and shiny. A quick brushing every week or so will help remove dead hairs and reduce shedding.

Ratties might need a bath now and then, Kallas says, but that’s mostly only if they begin to smell. But you should not bathe them more frequently than once a month or so, she adds, as this will strip them of the natural oils that keep their skin healthy. 

Eye Care 

Because Rat Terriers are prone to certain eye issues, take a good look at them when you sit down for a grooming session so you can note any changes.

Another tip: When bathing your Rat Terrier, Sharma says to take care to prevent shampoo and water from getting into their eyes. “Rat Terriers don’t have long fur around their eyes and ears like some breeds do, which makes them more susceptible to water entering and causing irritation.”

Ear Care 

Aside from doing your best to keep water out of your Rat Terrier’s ears, there’s not much in the way of special ear care required. However, because they can be more prone to environmental allergies than some breeds, keep an eye out for any itching of the ears, which could lead to infection.

Considerations for Pet Parents 

Before you add a Rat Terrier to your family, make sure you’re prepared to meet their needs. They require firm boundaries, regular exercise, and lots of love and attention from their family to feel safe, secure, and happy. “Because they’re very malleable and smart, they can adapt to most situations and make a really nice addition to your family, no matter what your family likes to do,” Kallas says.

However, if you’re a bit of a pushover for puppy-dog eyes, prefer to let your pooch set the rules, can’t see the humor in your dog trying to outsmart you, or don’t have a lifestyle you can easily incorporate your dog into (now and for the next 15 years), this is not the right breed for you. 

Rat Terrier FAQs

How long do Rat Terriers live?

The lifespan of a Rat Terrier is impressively long at 12–18 years. Celebrating their 15th birthday is quite common for this hardy little breed.

How big do Rat Terriers get?

This is a relatively small dog that reaches only 10–25 pounds, both in the standard and the miniature size. They tend to have a big personality in that small package, though!

Is the Rat Terrier a good family pet?

Rat Terriers tend to love their family, especially if they’re included in whatever the family is doing. They’re often wonderful with children, especially if introduced to them from a young age.

Do Rat Terriers bark a lot?

While a bored Rat Terrier might become a bit yappy, this is not a breed that barks much without reason. In other words, if your Rattie sounds an alert, it may be a good idea to pay attention!

Where do I find a Rat Terrier puppy?

If you’re interested in Rat Terrier adoption, Kallas says there are several national rescue groups that do excellent work for the breed—and because they all work a bit differently, it’s wise to chat with each of them to see which one might work best for your family. “Any time you contact a rescue about any breed, it is important to clarify any background information you can get on the individual dog you are considering,” she adds. 

For those looking to connect with a breeder, Kallas suggests keeping in mind that it takes time and money to raise sound, healthy dogs. “If you like the way [a breeder’s] dogs look and act as compared to anything else you have seen, you are recognizing that time and money,” she says, “so be willing to pay for that.”

Featured Image: iStock/cweimer4

< img src=";base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7">< img src="8790/KSbiopic.jpeg">


Kristen Seymour

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

Can Dogs Eat Mango?

NOTE: Always check with your veterinarian first before giving your dog any new foods, especially “people foods.” What might be okay for one dog might not be good for your dog, depending on multiple factors, such as their age, health history, health conditions, and diet. Dogs on prescription diets should not be fed any food or treats outside the diet.

Yes, dogs and puppies can eat mango. These sweet, delicious fruits are packed full of great nutrients. However, they do have a high sugar content, so you should only give mango to your dog in small portions. 

Is Mango Good for Dogs?

Mangoes are safe and healthy for most dogs, as long as they don’t have diabetes. Just like many other dog-safe fruits, they have many nutrients. They are high in fiber and contain both alpha-carotene and beta-carotene as well as these vitamins and minerals:

Vitamin A

Vitamin B6

Vitamin C

Vitamin E


Although your dog can benefit from these nutrients, they should only eat mango in moderation.

Can Mango Be Bad for Dogs?

Mangoes are not toxic to dogs, but they do contain a higher carb content as well as a high sugar content. And feeding your dog lots of sugar over a long period of time can cause them to have problems with obesity, diabetes, oral health, and stomach upset. 

If your dog already struggles with obesity or diabetes, then mangoes aren’t the right choice for them. Always consult your veterinarian about the proper food choices for your dog’s dietary needs. 

Although some people have been known to be allergic to mangoes, there are no documented cases of a mango allergy in dogs. The allergen that causes the reaction in some people is a compound in the mango skin called urushiol. The same compound can be found in plants like poison ivy or poison oak. 

Can Dogs Eat Dried Mango?

If you dehydrate fruit at home, then dried mango can be safe for dogs. Just remember to feed them smaller portions than normal, because now the sugar content has become more condensed. 

Avoid feeding store-bought dried mango to your dog. There are usually other preservatives and ingredients, including more sugar.

Can Dogs Eat Mango Seeds?

Mangoes contain one long, flat seed in the center that looks like a pit. Remove this seed before feeding any mango to your dog. It can be a choking hazard or cause an intestinal blockage.

How Much Mango Can a Dog Eat?

When it comes to feeding mango to your pup as a special treat, keep the portions small and offer the fruit in moderation. Even healthy treats like mango should only make up 10% of your dog’s diet. The other 90% should come from a well-balanced dog food diet. 

Here are some general guidelines for safe portion sizes to feed your dog mango pieces, based on your dog’s weight and breed size:  

Extra-small dog (2-20 lbs.) = 1-2 pieces of mango (½-inch wide by ¼-inch thick)

          Examples: Yorkies, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Pugs

Small dog (21-30 lbs.) = 2-3 pieces of mango (1-inch wide by ¼-inch thick)

          Examples: Basenjis, Beagles, Miniature Australian Shepherds

Medium dog (31-50 lbs.) = 5-6 pieces of mango (1-inch wide by ¼-inch thick)

          Examples: Basset Hounds, Border Collies, Australian Cattle Dogs, Siberian Huskies

Large dog (51-90 lbs.) = handful of mango pieces (1-inch wide by ¼-inch thick)

          Examples: Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Australian Shepherds

Extra-large dog (91+ lbs.) = large handful of mango pieces (1-inch wide by ¼-inch thick)

          Examples: Newfoundlands, Bernese Mountain Dogs, St. Bernards, Great Pyrenees

If your dog ate some mango when you weren’t watching, or you accidentally fed them too much, keep an eye out for the following symptoms of an upset stomach. Contact your vet right away if you see:

Decreased appetite or loss of appetite


Acting depressed

Looking uncomfortable

Gulping or licking their lips, the air, or objects

If you notice any of these more serious symptoms, take your dog to the vet immediately:

VomitingExcessive diarrheaBlood in their vomit or stoolWeaknessCollapse

How to Feed Your Dog Mango

When feeding mango to your dog, thoroughly wash it first, peel off the skin, and remove the seed. Then cut the fruit into small, 1-inch cubes. 


You can easily feed small cubes of raw mango straight to your pup. 


Once you’ve cut up some mango, you can mash it up to add to your dog’s food bowl, or to put in their KONG toy.


For a frozen treat later, simply place the stuffed KONG in the freezer, or freeze some cubed mango pieces.


To make an extra-special treat, blend some mango with other dog-safe fruits like blueberries, watermelon, and bananas. Then add a little bit of completely plain, sugar-free, xylitol-free yogurt. You can pour this mixture on top of your dog’s food or freeze it in your dog’s KONG toy for later. 

You can also try this recipe for a dog-safe green smoothie with banana, mango, and pineapple.

Featured image: Echeverri Urrea

< img src=";base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7">< img src="87616/Bio pic - Victoria Lynn Arnold.jpeg">


Victoria Lynn Arnold

Victoria is a freelance copywriter for the dog and pet industry, and has two big furbabies of her own. She’s always been passionate…

Carnitine Deficiency in Dogs

L-Carnitine Deficiency in Dogs

L-carnitine is an important nutrient that acts as a transport for fatty acids, essential for the cellular production of energy.

L-carnitine is an important nutrient that acts as a transport for fatty acids, essential for the cellular production of energy. Deficiency of this nutrient can cause a variety of health problems for animals; most significantly, the association with heart disease (cardiomyopathy) in dogs. The heart and skeletal muscles do not synthesize the nutrient on their own, requiring it to be transported there for use. Because of this, when the body is deficient in carnitine, the heart and skeletal muscles are negatively affected. While carnitine supplements are not always able to reverse the effects of this deficiency, they have proven to be the most successful course of treatment.

Symptoms and Types

The signs of this deficiency may include:

Heart muscle failure Enlarged heart (dilated cardiomyopathy) Muscle pain Weakness Exercise intolerance Weakness (lethargy)

L-carnitine is important for muscle tissue to receive energy and function normally; therefore, a deficiency in this nutrient can create a negative impact throughout a dog’s body.


While causes of carnitine deficiency is unknown, it is believed some dog breeds show an increased risk of developing the deficiency, including Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Irish wolfhounds, and other giant breeds.


In order to diagnose this deficiency, heart (endomyocardial) muscle biopsies must be performed to measure carnitine levels.


The size of the dog will determine the proper dosage. While L-carnitine supplements may improve this deficiency, keep in mind that many dogs will not show improvement. In addition, some dogs will show an increase in diarrhea as the carnitine dosage in their diet increases.

Living and Management

After the carnitine treatment begins, it is recommended that the dog have an EKG (echocardiogram) every three to six months to ensure the treatment has been effective.


There are no known methods of prevention, other than maintaining a healthy diet for your dog and monitoring for signs of deficiency, especially if your dog is a breed that is known to be affected by this condition.

7 Reasons To Thank Your Vet—and How to Do It

By Teresa Traverse

As a pet owner, you rely on your vet to take care of your pet. But many vets are struggling to take care of themselves. The suicide rate among veterinarians is high: More than one in six veterinarians might have contemplated suicide since graduation, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study also showed that vets are more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders like depression than the general population. It’s a problem that the veterinary community is sadly aware of.

“We have all lost at least one colleague to suicide,” says Heather Loenser, DVM, the veterinary advisor of professional and public affairs for the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

But if this is news to you, that’s not really much of a surprise to Ron Del Moro, Ph.D., a licensed clinical counselor at University of Florida’s Veterinary Hospitals. “Everyone’s aware of it, but no one really talks about,” says Del Moro.

Well, we’re here to talk about it. Here are some of the issues that veterinarians routinely face and ways you can show appreciation to your vet all year round.

1. Many Vets are Perfectionists

“I don’t know any non-perfectionist veterinarians. I’m sure they’re out there. I just don’t know them,” says Loenser.

Veterinary medicine is competitive. With only 30 schools of veterinary medicine in the United States, getting admitted is tough. And those intelligent, competitive traits that get vets into school stick with them after graduation. 

“You have these really highly intelligent people, driven people who are perfectionists who want to solve problems and heal everybody. It’s a tough job,” says Del Moro. “So many times our minds are the biggest problems that get in the way.” Facing the reality that financial and other concerns often prevent them from saving pets who could be saved is terribly difficult for many veterinarians.

2. Vets are Human, Too

As pet owners, it can be tough not to see your vet as some sort of superhero. After all, he or she cures diseases and heals your pets when they’re sick. But it’s important to remember that vets are people too. And like any human, vets make mistakes and have setbacks.  

“Failure’s not necessarily something we were trained to be comfortable with,” says Loenser. “When things go wrong in a case—there’s an outcome that we weren’t anticipating or we were hoping didn’t happen, but it does. That’s really hard on us all the way down to the core of our beings.”

3. They Handle Euthanasia Procedures

Having to end a pet’s life can be a heartbreaking task—but veterinarians do it on a regular basis. And some handle the task better than others, Loenser says.

“Some people look at that as a viable alternative to having an animal suffer with a chronic disease. In that case, you’re truly alleviating suffering,” she says. “Other veterinarians don’t look at it that way. They take it very personally when an animal has to be put to sleep.”

4. They Deal With Small Business Stress

Many vets run their own businesses and have to deal with all the stresses that go along with that, including managing staff, paying a lease, and dealing with taxes.

“Veterinary schools are getting better at teaching basic business administration in schools. And then there are veterinarians that get MBAs,” says Loenser. “But that’s not still not the norm, and there’s still room for veterinary schools to better teach us how to run our businesses.”

5. Vets Interact With Unreasonable Clients

Both Loenser and Del Moro confirmed that one of the most stressful parts of any vet’s life is interacting with unreasonable pet owners.

“You’ve got these doctors who are doing the best they can with the information they have and sometimes you can’t satisfy the clients enough, ever,” says Del Moro. He acknowledges that the bonds pet owners have with their animals are strong, which can make interactions between vets and their clients emotionally charged.

“First and foremost, try to empathize with the doctor’s situation and how difficult it is. Whatever news you’re getting,” says Del Moro. “People forget that [vets] have feelings too. They too are impacted. They too got into this profession because they love animals. And no one wants to see the animal suffer.”

6. Vets Have High Student Loan Debt

Many vets have high student loan debts. The average veterinarian graduates from school owing $153,191 in student loans, according to a study conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). It can take vets a long time to dig themselves out of this debt.

7. Vets are Paid Relatively Low Salaries

In addition to a mountain of veterinary school debt, vets often have to deal with relatively low starting salaries. The average starting salary for a small animal veterinary practitioner is roughly $70,000 according to the AVMA While that might not sound like a bad starting salary, it can be tough to pay off debt and achieve other goals like buying a home at that level.

“Even though veterinarians don’t go into this for the money, for my peers it’s frustrating when we see other professionals who have gone to school for a similar length that have a lot more stuff and freedom,” says Loenser.

Ways You Can Help

Veterinarians do a lot for you and your pet, so it’s important to show your vet how much you value his or her work. Here are a few easy—but impactful—ways you can show your vet you care.

Give Thanks

Don’t think you have to go all out to show appreciation. Saying “thanks” will do.

“Thanking face to face is always lovely,” says Loenser. “Some people might think we don’t need that, but that’s nice to hear.”

Cards, food, and flowers also make nice gifts.

Donate to a Charity in Your Vet’s Name

Many veterinary hospitals support charities or have memorial funds for animals and staff members who have passed, Loenser tell us. Research those organization and consider donating money to them in your vet’s name. Many vet schools also have funds set up to help animals in need. A client of Loenser’s did this once.

“They gave a donation to my vet school in my name for taking care of their animal. That was huge to me,” says Loenser.

Be Straightforward About Finances

“We really try to give accurate estimates. Feel free to go over them with us,” says Loenser. “When it comes to the point when you’re checking out of the hospital [make sure] you’re not surprised and then angry.” Veterinarians are willing to talk about the pros and cons of treatment options at different price points, but they don’t know what your constraints are unless you bring them up.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Many veterinary practices are small business and can struggle to pay their expenses (including the salaries of all those wonderful technicians who have helped your pet) if you don’t pay on time. If you’re on a payment plan, making on-time payments can go a long way in fostering goodwill with your veterinarian.

Post a Positive Review on Social Media  

If you think your vet is giving stellar service, say so on Yelp, Google, or Facebook.

“Posting a great review really means the world to us,” says Loenser. “We love to see positive reviews.” And pointing other pet owners towards a great vet is a win-win for everyone.

Be Open To Suggestions

Loenser explains that really motivated pet owners will usually research a condition prior to coming in for a visit. But what you’ve read is not always the best solution and can lead to problems if pet parents aren’t open minded and responsive to a veterinarian’s advice. She says she enjoys talking to pet owners who have done their research as it can save her time. But if you’ve been treating a condition with a treatment you found on the Internet and aren’t having success with it, be prepared to listen to what your vet has to say.

Follow Recommendations

When a vet gives you a treatment plan, follow it.

“We feel heard. We’re saying this because we care about your animals. We believe in what we’re recommending,” says Loenser.

If you don’t feel comfortable following the plan or can’t afford it, let your vet know so he or she can recommend a different treatment plan that meets your needs.

Arrive on Time

“It doesn’t take much for us to get behind if people start coming in late,” says Loenser. Even if you get there on time, keep in mind that other patients might not have been as punctual. Realize that the vet may have just seen a pet that required more of his or her time. Critically ill pets take precedence over animals with broken toenails or other minor conditions.

Respecting your veterinarian’s time and schedule and being understanding if he or she gets pulled away to deal with an emergency will go a long way in demonstrating your gratitude.

Vaginal Abnormalities in Dogs

Vaginal Malformations and Acquired Lesions in Dogs

Vaginal malformations are recognized as altered anatomic architecture, which can be due to congenital anomalies such as an imperforate hymen (where the hymen is solid, not allowing fluids through the vaginal canal from the uterus, or normal penetration [such as for breeding]; generally a congenital anomaly); dorsoventral septum (or septae, where the vagina has a vertical dividing membranous wall/partition); hymenal tightening; cysts (a sac with liquid inside); or to acquired conditions, such as vaginal overgrowth, foreign bodies, strictures (tightenings), adhesions (abnormal fibrous tissue sticking to the structures), and cancer.

Symptoms and Types

Vulvar discharge Excessive licking of the vulva Frequent or inappropriate urination Straining to urinate or defecate Wetting in the house, in the bed, etc. Attractive to males Refuses mating Mass at lips of the vulva Skin disorder around the vulva Abnormally small vulva


Congenital Inflammatory Hormonal Traumatic Cancerous


Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog, taking into account the background history of symptoms 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, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel to rule out other diseases. The urinalysis may show evidence of a secondary urinary tract infection. After the initial examination, your veterinarian will perform a gynecological examination as well.

The order in which the procedures are performed is important. They are listed here in the recommended order:

Vaginal culture to identify secondary infections Vaginal cytology (cell examination) to identify stage of the estrous cycle; reveal inflammatory or cancerous cells Digital examination (with a finger) of the vaginal canal Vaginoscopy: an examination of the internal structure of the vagina using a small camera Vaginography: X-rays performed after special dyes have been placed in the vaginal canal, so that the shape and structure of the vagina can be better viewed as the dye fills the vaginal space Ultrasonography will be done when the results of the previous procedures suggest an anatomic abnormality

Positive-contrast Vaginography

Defines the structural boundaries of the vagina Defines the structural boundaries of the cervix Identifies strictures (narrowings), septae (partitions), persistent hymens, masses, rectum to vagina or urethra to vagina fistulas (abnormal connecting passageways between two normally separate canals), vaginal rupture, and diverticula (outpouching of hollow or fluid filled sac like structure) Urinary incontinence may require excretory urography (X-rays of urination with dyes) to rule out ectopic (abnormally positioned) ureters (the tubes running from the kidneys down to the bladder), or a bladder  with its neck positioned in the pelvis

Abdominal ultrasonography

Cranial vaginal masses may occasionally be imaged Fluid buildup in the vagina (hydrocolpos) or uterus (hydrometra) may be seen in cases of imperforate hymen, due to solid structure of hymen blocking the flow of fluids from the uterus


Manual dilation of closed hymens or of a mild vaginal narrowing may be performed over a course of several treatments while using an anesthetic on the dog. It usually reduces the medical issue, although it does not resolve clinical signs. Surgery can be used to correct many minor congenital and acquired lesions. Spaying to resolve clinical signs — typically exhibited during estrus (heat) — can be performed in patients with no breeding value. Removal of the vagina and ovariohysterectomy can be performed in patients with no breeding value to resolve concurrent severe vaginitis (at all stages of the estrous cycle).

Living and Management

Although it is very rare, there are occasionally cases in which an animal is diagnosed with a vaginal malformation that has been passed on as a genetic trait. If several dogs in a familial line show similar clinical signs of vaginal malformations, they should all be spayed to prevent the trait from being passed on to the next litter. Some animals with vaginal malformations that are not familial may be bred by artificial insemination. They may then give birth via a planned cesarean section.

The Overweight Pet

How to Identify and Assist Your Overweight (or Obese) Dog

A recent survey indicates over 50 percent of America’s pet population is overweight or obese. If you or your veterinarian feel that your pet would benefit from a reduction in body weight, this discussion should help you to understand how to help overweight dogs lose weight. Weight loss for obese cats, however, is more complicated and should not be done without a veterinarian’s supervision.

Very simply put, if your pet is overweight it is taking in (eating) more calories than it needs. Set all excuses aside … excessive weight in an otherwise healthy pet is a direct result of consuming unnecessary amounts of food. If your pet is overweight it should be examined for heart, thyroid or other metabolic disorders. A detailed history should be taken with emphasis on frequency of exercise, amount and type of food being provided and other parameters relative to calorie requirements.

To begin let us set the record straight on some common misconceptions regarding obesity. Healthy dogs and cats do not necessarily need to eat every day; the pet food industry has painted the picture for us of the “eager eater.” The impression is that a happy, healthy pet will eat every meal with gusto. Please do not try to entice your pet to eat if it isn’t interested. If you provide a good quality food and a liberal amount of water, your pet will eat when it wants and do better than having to eat when you want.

Another common myth maintains that spaying or neutering causes obesity. This is absolutely false (see other myths about spaying and neutering here). Any pet, neutered or not, will gain weight if it is over fed relative to its energy requirements. The surgical procedure may slightly slow the pet’s metabolism, as will normal aging, and it will then burn calories off more slowly; therefore, it may require less food. Keep in mind the surgery doesn’t cause the weight gain, eating too much does and you have control over that.

Let us explore four typical settings we veterinarians encounter when presented with a dog that is overweight. See if any of these sound familiar! The quotes are the usual responses pet owners give us when we politely suggest that “perhaps your pet would benefit by losing some weight” …

Type I: THE NIBBLER:But doctor, she hardly eats a thing.”

This dog probably has food out for him/her all day and nibbles a little at a time. When dinner time comes and the pet picks at the leftovers, it will take the choicest morsels, leave the rest, and still appear not to have eaten very much. However over a 24-hour period “THE NIBBLER’S” total calorie intake is excessive and it gains weight. Hardly eats a thing, eh?

Type II: THE BEGGAR: “But doctor, this rascal won’t keep quiet unless she gets her treats. And she won’t go to sleep at night until she gets her little dish of ice cream.”

What has happened here is that the pet has discovered that the more noise and fussing it produces the more likely it is to be rewarded for this behavior. The owner finally “gives in” to keep the pet quiet and the pet sees the food as a reward. In effect the owner is training “The Beggar” by rewarding his/her behavior. It turns into a fun game but the dog’s health may suffer if obesity is the result.

Type III: THE GOOD DOG: “But doctor, s/he’s such a good dog we don’t want her to go hungry.”

This dog became overweight because the owner’s signal of affection for their pet has focused on feeding. (Usually each family member secretly offers treats to the pet … and doesn’t know the other family members are doing exactly the same thing!) It is an understandable trait but unfortunately for the dog it can be a case of too much of a good thing. The owners’ method of showing affection should be directed more toward physical activity than feeding. Think “FETCH” not “FOOD”!

Type IV: THE GOURMET DOG: “But doctor, s/he just refuses to eat dog food.” In this case the dog has trained the owners to feed him/her such things as chicken, liver, ice cream, cookies, etc.

Although most table scraps are just fine to feed (remember, stay away from bones of any kind!), this dog has been given a choice of what to eat and has chosen certain people food. If a child is given a choice s/he would probably choose cake and candy over vegetables, and their health would suffer. The Gourmet Dog usually overeats because s/he isn’t getting a proper balance of nutrition, plus everything tastes so good there is a reward factor in eating. The solution is … you choose, not your pet.

What To Do About An Overweight Dog

Be sure your veterinarian evaluates the thyroid gland’s function if the dog is overweight or obese. Hypothyroidism is a very common instigator of excess weight in pets and this needs to be corrected or your attempts to reduce your pet’s weight will probably fail. So even if your veterinarian says thinks your dog doesn’t “look like a hypothyroid case,” request the blood test for hypothyroidism anyway.

As previously mentioned, research has show that, in general, a healthy dog can abstain from food for five days before any noticeable health effects occur. (Very small breeds are an exception … but unless there’s really some medical problem present, missing a day of eating isn’t a major catastrophe.) That said, you should always be sure to provide your dog with fresh water and a high quality, complete and balanced diet. Look on the ingredients list. Meat should be the first item listed (read what else to look for on the food label here). You may also want to supplement your dog’s diet with vitamins, minerals, or fatty acid products. Just be careful about over-supplementing, too!

After recording an accurate pre-diet weight, you should reduce your dog’s daily ration by one-third. That total should include all treats, snacks, or leftovers — that is, if you insist on continuing to provide these. Reweigh the pet in 2 weeks. (Remember if the pet begs for food, that’s a good sign! But don’t give in. You may have a Type II Beggar).

If after two weeks you find that your dog has lost even a little weight, you’re on the right track; keep up this schedule! If no weight loss is evident, again reduce his/her food intake by one-third and re-Weigh them in two weeks.

There are some veterinarians that believe certain “Reduced Calorie” or “Lite Diets” or “Senior Diets” are not beneficial for dogs. Some of these diets have restricted fat levels to reduce the calories, but by necessity have increased the carbohydrate percentages. This increased carbohydrate could stimulate additional insulin secretion, which tells the body to store unused calories as fat. As such, there are some dogs that have actually gained weight on “reduced calorie” weight loss diets. Consult with your veterinarian as to which diet is best for your pet. Typically, what is recommended is a meat-based diet that is high in protein (which isn’t stored as fat) and fat and low in carbohydrate. Now … all YOU have to do is adjust the quantity being fed to achieve a state where the dog takes in fewer total calories than it is using for the day’s energy requirements. Simple! Just don’t forget to consult your vet before starting.

It is also quite important to get everyone’s cooperation in restricting the dog’s food intake. There is usually someone in the household who feels sorry for the dieting pet and surreptitiously provides “just a little” something extra. What would actually be more helpful is if that person took the dog for a walk or a run or other exercise routine every day to burn off a few calories.

Keep in mind most overweight or obese dogs have a slow metabolism. They simply don’t burn off those calories very fast and, in fact, don’t generally have “eager eater” appetites. Because of this slow metabolism, though, they don’t require very much; so “just a little extra” will make a big difference over a period of time.

So, what are you waiting for? Assisting your dog with a diet can help your him/her live a longer, leaner and more enjoyable life.

Skin Cancer in Dogs

What is Skin Cancer in Dogs?

Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. While the term cancer has come to be used as a synonym of malignancy, fortunately not all skin cancer is malignant or cancerous. Tumors that are not malignant are called benign.

Malignant tumors are those that spread to other parts of the body through the blood stream or lymphatic system. Benign masses are those that do not have any harmful effects beyond the tumor itself.

As it does with humans, sun exposure (UV radiation) can increase the risk of skin cancer in many species. Dogs with lighter colored fur and skin are at higher risk of developing certain types of skin tumors.

Beyond the sun exposure risk, further study is needed to figure out what causes skin tumors to form. There is a genetic link with some types of tumors, like the high prevalence of mast-cell tumors in Boxers, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers and Pugs. There are even growths that can be caused by viral infections.

If you come across a lump on your pet, don’t immediately panic. There are many possible causes for lumps, and thankfully many are benign or easily treatable. The most important thing for you to do is to be diligent about watching your pup for any lumps or bumps, and let your vet know about any that you find.

Types of Skin Cancer in Dogs

Benign Skin Cancer in Dogs

Lipomas: This is a tumor that generally lies just under the surface of the skin. These masses originate from fat/lipid cells. Lipomas tend to be soft and squishy (fluctuant) and are generally not attached to any underlying structures. Lipomas can be quite small (grape sized) but can grow to be the size of a watermelon.

Histiocytomas: These tumors are generally found on the limbs of younger dogs, generally those less than 2 years old. They originate from a cell type called a Langerhans cell, which is part of the immune system. These tumors are often called “button tumors” as they tend to be small, round, raised, hairless pink masses. These tumors are fairly common in larger-breed dogs like Labrador Retrievers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Boxers. A true histiocytoma usually goes away (regresses) on its own after about three months.

Papilloma: These are wart-like growths that commonly occur around the mouth or eyes of younger dogs or dogs with immature or weaker immune systems. They are caused by the canine papilloma virus or CPV1. The virus is transmitted through the pet’s environment, usually by food or water bowls. It takes about 1 to 2 months for the tumors to appear, and they generally go away in that same period of time.

Sebaceous Adenomas: These are tumors that begin in oil glands in the skin. These masses tend to look like a raised, hairless bumpy mass and are generally smaller — usually the size of a pea or blueberry. They do tend to be more prevalent in older, light colored dogs and particularly small dogs (especially Poodles, Shih Tzus, and Maltese).

Malignant Skin Cancer in Dogs

Mast Cell Tumor: A mast cell is part of your immune system and is also involved in allergic reactions. As part of an allergic response, mast cells release histamine, a common mediator of allergies. However, mast cell tumors (MCT) can release large amounts of histamine at once, a phenomenon called mass degranulation. This causes swelling, itchiness, irritation and even life-threatening allergic reactions. These masses can vary in appearance but are typically a raised red lump that may be ulcerated (having an open sore) and display swelling of the surrounding tissue. Mast cell tumors are the most common skin tumor in dogs, and the average age of occurrence is around 10 years old.

Mast cell tumors are most common in Boxers, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Pugs, Staffordshire Terriers, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Weimaraners.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas: This is a type of tumor that originates directly from the epidermis or skin cells. These tumors tend to form in older animals, especially those with lighter skin and/or shorter fur. It is also common on the nose of pets that spend a large amount of time outside. The appearance of a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) can vary widely. It is also the second most common oral tumor in dogs and can occur on the gums or tongue. When on the skin, these masses tend to first appear as red or ulcerated skin. Crusting and erosion can also occur.

Melanomas: This type of skin tumor arises from melanocytes, which are the cells that give our skin color with the pigment melanin. These tumors are generally pigmented (colored), mostly black or brown and are found in a region of the dog’s body that has less hair, especially around the mouth, feet and eyes. Melanomas of the toes (or digits) is prevalent in black dogs and may start as a swelling around a toenail. Melanomas are also the most common oral tumor in dogs. These tumors unfortunately grow quickly and have a high tendency to spread.

Fibrosarcoma: This type of tumor develops from the connective tissues of the skin and beneath the skin. These are most found on the legs of middle-aged or older dogs. They usually appear as a firm lump on the skin or under it. There may be multiples of these small lumps in one place. There may be pain and swelling associated with these masses which can bleed, open and become infected. These tumors can also be found around the mouth and nose.

Symptoms of Skin Cancer in Dogs

A change in your pet’s skin is the most common sign of skin cancer in dogs. Fortunately, this means that there is a highly visible change and lumps can be noticed early.  

This change is generally a new growth, lump or bump but it can also potentially appear as a sore that refuses to heal. All new lumps and bumps regardless of size, color, location, consistency or fur should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

Causes of Skin Cancer in Dogs

Skin cancer is, by definition, a mass that grows without normal cell regulations — from any of the many cell types that make up your dog’s skin.

We do not know all the reasons why a cell begins to replicate without the normal restrictions that the body has in motion to regulate cell growth. As it does with humans, sun exposure (UV radiation) can increase the risk of skin cancer in dogs, especially those with light skin colors.

Beyond the sun exposure risk, further studies are needed to figure out what causes skin tumors to form in dogs. Additional known causes include genetic links, like mast cell tumors and viral infections, like papillomas.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Skin Cancer in Dogs

Any lump that visibly grows, irritates a pet, bleeds, changes size or color, is larger than a pea, or has been present for a month or more should be checked by your pet’s primary care veterinarian.

Different diagnostic procedures may be recommended. Many tumors look alike on the outside, so it’s very important for your veterinarian to check all masses and determine a plan of treatment.

A needle biopsy is generally the first step toward a diagnosis, but other testing may be recommended at the same time, or at a future visit. A select group of masses or dogs, like a young dog with a suspected histiocytoma or papilloma, may call for monitoring before further testing is done.

Needle Biopsy

A needle biopsy (also called an FNA or Fine Needle spirate) is a way of collecting a sampling of cells from within a mass for evaluation. A needle is inserted into the mass, and cells are either compressed into the needle as it is inserted or pulled into the needle through a syringe. These collected cells are then placed onto a slide and examined under the microscope.

Most needle biopsies are sent to a laboratory where a veterinarian pathologist evaluates the sample. This sample of cells is a part of the mass, and while this procedure will often give you an exact diagnosis, it is possible that the cells collected will not provide a complete overview of the mass.

Some patients may require sedation for a needle biopsy depending on the location of the mass and the patient’s temperament (personality).

Punch/Tissue Biopsy

In some cases, there is the need to evaluate a larger part of the tissue. When this is needed, a section of the mass or the entire mass (if it is about 8 mm or less) can be removed and sent to a lab for evaluation. Patients may need local anesthesia (like Novocain at your dentist’s office), sedation or full anesthesia for a biopsy to be done, depending on the patient and the tumor location.


With tumors that are suspected to be cancerous/malignant, there is the risk of spread to other portions of the body. The lungs are a very common place for spread (or metastasis) of tumors, so radiographs are often recommended to monitor for signs of malignant cells spreading.

Advanced Imaging

Advanced imaging includes diagnostic testing like CT (computerized tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or ultrasound. These tests are often used to determine the extent of a tumor that is deeper than skin level or they may be used to examine lymph nodes around a mass to see if a malignant tumor has spread to those areas.

Treatment of Skin Cancer in Dogs

Since there are quite a few different types of tumors that can affect the skin, each case should be treated individually based on your pet and the tumor type, stage and location. Many types of skin tumors are treatable, especially if caught early. Generally, treatment will include one or more of the following: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or immunotherapy.


For most skin tumors, especially tumors that are small and in easily accessible areas of the body, surgical removal is often the first treatment step. This removes most, if not all, cancer cells from the area. Surgery can be curative, meaning that removal of the mass should be the only treatment necessary (like with small benign masses, such as sebaceous adenomas), or it can be part of a large treatment plan (like with melanomas where spread/metastasis is common).


Chemotherapy is a medication that is either given intravenously (IV) or by mouth. These drugs are toxic to cells that divide rapidly, like those involved in tumor growth. Chemotherapy is often used in certain types of cancer present in multiple locations in the body — or after surgical removal of a mass that is already suspected of spreading.


Radiation therapy uses a focus-radiation beam to target specific tumors, generally in areas which make surgical removal difficult. Radiation is often used in combination with surgery or chemotherapy.


Immunotherapy is very much like a vaccine. For a very select number of cancer types (like melanomas), an immunotherapy vaccine is available. This vaccine contains killed parts of a cancerous cell. These cell pieces travel through your pet’s system stimulating its own immune system to fight off cancerous cells. Immunotherapy is also generally used in conjunction with one or more of the other treatment types.

Recovery and Management of Skin Cancer in Dogs

Recovery and management of skin cancer is highly dependent on the type of tumor present. Your veterinarian will review any diagnostic findings and discuss your pet’s recommended treatment and prognosis. They may choose to refer you to a veterinary oncologist. 

After surgery, your dog may feel sore and your veterinarian will likely prescribe pain medication. Please strictly follow all medication directions. Many patients will need crate rest. Your veterinarian will give you a time frame for return to normal activity levels.

If chemotherapy is part of your pet’s treatment plan, it can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and low energy levels. Your vet may prescribe anti-nausea medications, or other supportive therapies, while your pet is undergoing chemotherapy. It is also important to ensure that your pet is getting high-quality food to aid in a quick recovery.

Prevention of Skin Cancer in Dogs

When possible, limit your pet’s exposure to the sun, especially during peak UV hours. Pets with light colors or short fur may benefit from dog sunscreen.

Early intervention is extremely important for many types of skin tumors. It is very important to monitor your pet for the formation of lumps and bumps on their skin and for you to be an active advocate in its care by seeking an evaluation of the mass by your vet promptly.

Any mass, even one that has previously been diagnosed as benign, should be evaluated if a change in size, shape or color is noted — or if there is any bleeding. Many cancerous or malignant masses can often recur in the same area, so it is important to watch your dog closely for any other masses and report them to your vet.

Skin Cancer in Dogs FAQs

What does skin cancer on dogs look like?

Any mass that appears on or under your pet’s fur should be watched closely. Masses that change size, shape, or texture—or those that bleed—should be evaluated as soon as possible. Additionally, any mass that has been present for more than a month or is larger than a pea should be examined by a veterinarian.

Is skin cancer fatal for dogs?

Certain types of malignant skin tumors can be fatal, if untreated.

What is the life expectancy for dogs with skin cancer?

The prognosis for a dog with skin cancer is highly dependent on the type of tumor, which is why diagnostic testing in the early stages is extremely important. Prognosis for benign tumors is excellent and these generally do not affect life expectancy. Malignant tumors have a wide effect on life expectancy. Some malignant tumors can be safely and easily removed and have no effect on the life span of a dog, however some of the more aggressive tumor types can drastically decrease life expectancy.


Withrow SJ. Withrow and MacEwen’s Small Animal Clinical Oncology. 5th Edition. Elsevier; 2013.

Featured Image: Ceneviva

< img src=";base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7">< img src="63843/Howe Headshot.jpg">


Stephanie Howe, DVM


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

What Do I Do If My Dog Ate a Chicken Bone?

You only left the kitchen for a minute, but when you return, it’s already too late. The roasted chicken you just pulled out of the oven is gone.

The only potential culprit is sitting on the floor, panting, wagging his tail and looking quite pleased with himself—as if the cat is clearly to blame.

You panic when you realize that your dog has eaten the chicken bones, too. Do you rush him to the vet immediately?

Here’s what you need to do and watch out for if your dog ate chicken bones.

Is It Bad for Dogs to Eat Chicken Bones? 

Dogs have been eating bones for thousands of years, and most of the time, they process them just fine.

Typically, chicken bones will dissolve once they hit the stomach—before they have a chance to become dangerous. Most times, dogs are able to pass chicken bones uneventfully. Other bones, such as beef and pork bones, can cause significantly more distress and disease.

However, there are some potential hazards for dogs that are tempted to eat chicken bones.

Potential Obstruction 

Cooked bones tend to be slightly softer than raw bones, but some (such as the thigh bone) can be quite large relative to the size of the dog. 

If a dog swallows—or tries to swallow—a chicken bone, and it does not go all the way down, it can become lodged in the esophagus. This can cause a lot of gagging, drooling and retching.

In other dogs, the bone can become stuck in the upper part of the airway—either the back of the throat (the pharynx) or the start of the airway itself. This is an immediate emergency in which the dog will show significant signs of distress and might cough heavily or have trouble breathing.

Risk of Tearing the GI Tract 

Chicken bones splinter easily, and when they are swallowed, they can cause perforation of the esophagus or the intestinal tract.

Contamination From Bacteria

Particularly if the chicken is uncooked, your dog is at risk of exposure to bacteria like salmonella.

What to Do If Your Dog Chokes on a Chicken Bone

If you are concerned that the bone is stuck in the upper airway or the upper intestinal tract, this is an emergency and should be addressed immediately.

If you are able to see or grasp the bone to get it out, you should do so as long as you are able to without distressing your dog further or getting hurt or bitten. 

However, if it is not immediately visible, take your pet to the vet as quickly as possible.

If you suspect that your dog has eaten a chicken bone and they display any of the following symptoms, take them to your veterinarian immediately:

Poor appetiteVomitingDiarrheaLethargyGagging or retchingDroolingCoughingHaving trouble breathing

If your dog is active, is eating well and seems completely normal, it’s generally safe to simply monitor the situation.

As a rule, avoid feeding your dog bones altogether. If your dog does get ahold of a chicken bone and he appears distressed, act quickly and call an emergency vet.

If your dog seems to be acting completely normal, it will all probably come out fine in the end (pun fully intended!).

By: Dr. Sandra Mitchell, DVM

Featured Image:

< img src=";base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7">< img src="89154/Sandra-Mitchell.jpg">


Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP


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

Nose Bleed in Dogs

Epistaxis in Dogs

A bleeding nose can come from several sources. One may be the result of a condition called coagulopathy — a condition where the blood is not coagulating as it should. There are several other possible causes for nose bleeds, such as a wound or injury that is not apparent, as from a snake bite,  or it may be from a disease, like cancer in an organ, leukemia, or a number of other diseases. Regardless of the cause, this is a condition that needs to be checked by your veterinarian promptly.

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.


It will probably take time and several tests to determine what is causing the bleeding. The veterinarian will first need to know if your dog has a reduced number of red blood cells, indicating anemia, and if so, how critical it is. Other tests that will be ordered by your veterinarian are blood analyses to determine whether the blood platelets are normal, a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, and tests to determine whether there is bone-marrow disease. To determine whether the bleeding is caused by a coagulation problem, a coagulation profile will also be conducted.

Your veterinarian will also need to determine whether there is evidence of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. A thyroid test will be performed, and some x-rays may be required, as well as a computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan.


If your dog is suffering from coagulopathy, it will need to stay in hospital for treatment. If the coagulating problem is caused by a condition like liver disease, the underlying cause will be treated. Do not give your dog non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or any other medication without first consulting your veterinarian. If the cause is a clotting abnormality like hemophilia, a transfusion will be necessary. If your dog is found to be anemic but the bleeding is from a cause other than a coagulating problem, it will probably be given a blood transfusion in the doctor’s office, but you will most likely be able to take your dog home with you. If it is determined that a platelet problem is causing the bleeding, the anti-inflammatory prednisone may be prescribed. For an infectious disease, doxycycline is often prescribed to be given over a three- to six-week term. For bone-marrow tumor growth (neoplasia), chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be prescribed. If the bleeding is caused by a bacterial infection, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics.

Conversely, the bleeding may be based on conditions in the nasal passages. If the bleeding is coming from tumors in the nasal passages, your veterinarian will determine the course of treatment. Radiotherapy is one possible treatment of choice, but if the bleeding is caused by a foreign body in the nasal passages that is not removable by probing, surgery may be necessary. If there is fungus in the nasal passages, surgery may be required to removed some of it in order for further treatment to take place. For a fungal infection, medication prescribed by your veterinarian for the specific fungus will need to be applied through the nasal cavity.


Living and Management

In case of serious hemorrhage, your dog should be kept in a cage to lower blood pressure and promote clotting. Nasal sprays (approved by your veterinarian) of diluted epinephrine may help. Once your dog returns home, it should be kept calm and anything excitable should be avoided in order to prevent hemorrhaging episodes. Your veterinarian will educate you about what to watch for in case of a serious hemorrhage, such as weakness, collapse, pallor, or the loss of large amounts of blood.