Archive : August


The Basenji is an ancient dog breed from Africa. Cave paintings found in Libya have been dated between 6000 BCE and 100 CE by paleontologists; they depict Basenji-type dogs living alongside humans as hunting companions, according to the Basenji Club of America.

Basenjis are small, standing 16–17 inches at the shoulder. They are graceful and agile, able to jump vertically, and have a short, smooth coat and tightly curled tail. Basenjis are sometimes called the “barkless dog” because they tend to be quiet. But when they do speak up, they make their characteristic “Basenji yodel” noise. These are independent, intelligent, and energetic dogs. 

Caring for a Basenji

The Basenji’s personality can best be described as catlike. They are generally independent dogs, can be wary of strangers, and are fastidious about cleanliness; Basenjis will often groom themselves like a cat!

They are very intelligent, high-energy, and easily bored. Without training and exercise, Basenjis can be mischievous and get into trouble. These African dogs need daily playtime or training sessions. When you take them outside, make sure they’re on a leash or inside a fenced area—the Basenji is historically a hunting dog, and their high prey drive means they might be prone to chasing squirrels.

Basenji Health Issues

The Basenji breed is generally healthy if kept active and not overfed. They typically live 13–14 years—about the average lifespan for dogs. But they are prone to some health conditions pet parents need to stay vigilant for.


Hypothyroidism in dogs is the result of an autoimmune disease that destroys the hormone-producing cells in the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormone is important for metabolism and skin health.

Dogs with hypothyroidism typically will not show signs until after a substantial amount of the thyroid gland is destroyed. Typically, you will see:


Low energy

Dull coat

An increase in skin infections

Replacement thyroid hormone in the form of a daily medication will manage the disease. With treatment, dogs can live a normal, healthy life. 

Fanconi Syndrome

Fanconi syndrome is a genetic disease affecting the kidneys. It causes protein and sugar from the blood to leak into the urine, eventually leading to kidney failure and death.

There is a DNA test to look for the markers of Fanconi syndrome. If your Basenji has the DNA marker, a screening urine test will help detect if they are developing the disease. Good Basenji breeders will test their dogs for the genetic marker to avoid breeding puppies that will become sick.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Made of rods and cones, the retina is the part of the eye that receives light signals and converts them into nerve signals for the brain. It’s essential for vision.

When a dog has progressive retinal atrophy, the number of rods and cones decreases over time. The result is gradual loss of vision. Rods diminish first, resulting in the loss of night vision. Then cones are lost, resulting in overall loss of vision. Because it is a slow change, many dogs learn to cope with their partial blindness in their home environment; you may not notice your dog has lost significant vision until you take them outside. 

PRA is not treatable and will eventually cause complete blindness. Responsible Basenji breeders will screen their dogs regularly, and remove any affected dogs and their children from the breeding pool.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a developmental disease common in many dog breeds. As puppies grow, there are three bones in the pelvis that must fuse to form the hip joint around the top of the femur. If those bones don’t fuse properly, it results in a hip joint that is too shallow or loose.

This eventually causes pain and arthritis. Have your veterinarian evaluate your dog every six to 12 months for signs of pain or decreased mobility of the hip joints. X-rays can detect hip dysplasia, and the condition can be managed with medication and supplements to reduce pain.

What To Feed a Basenji

Basenjis should be fed a high-quality commercial dog food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Basenji puppies should be on a puppy diet until they are 1 year old. 

How To Feed a Basenji

Basenjis can be fed once or twice a day. Due to their curious nature and intelligence, feeding them with a puzzle feeder can benefit them and keep them busy. Stay mindful of how many treats you’re giving your Basenji—because they’re only around 20 pounds, the extra calories can add up quickly.

How Much Should You Feed a Basenji?

The amount of food you give a Basenji depends on their weight, health, lifestyle, and other factors. Talk with your veterinarian about how much to feed your dog. You can also find guidance on portion sizes on your AAFCO-approved dog food bag.

Nutritional Tips for Basenjis

Because Basenjis are prone to hip dysplasia, you can start them on a joint supplement when they’re 1 to 2 years old. Using a high-quality joint supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin can slow the progression of arthritis. Commonly recommended brands are Cosequin, Dasuquin, and VetriScience.

Behavior and Training Tips for Basenjis

Basenji Personality and Temperament

The Basenji is highly intelligent, very energetic, and prone to mischief. They are hounds with a keen sense of smell and, because of this, may wander off in search of a scent. Whenever a Basenji is outside, they should be kept in a fenced yard or on a leash. But know that they can jump quite high, so you’ll need a 6-foot-tall fence.

The Basenji can be aloof and independent, but they also need extended exercise and play sessions to keep them out of trouble. They can be wary of strangers and might not do well with small children, who can make Basenjis anxious with their unpredictable behavior. Early socialization and training are vital for helping a Basenji dog thrive.

Basenji Behavior

Without enough exercise and mental stimulation, Basenjis can be destructive. To prevent pillow-shredding, keep your dog busy and entertained so they don’t become bored.

Though they’re loving with their family, Basenjis might be standoffish around new people. Early socialization and training help make them more adaptable and comfortable around new people.

Basenji Training

Basenjis are very intelligent dogs and they respond well to positive reinforcement training. They are, however, easily distracted and become bored quickly, so training sessions should be kept short and fun. Use a variety of strong-smelling training treats to keep your Basenji’s attention.

Fun Activities for Basenjis

Scent training


Lure coursing



Long walks

Basenji Grooming Guide

Though their minds require a lot of attention, Basenjis are low maintenance when it comes to grooming. They have a super short coat and will often groom themselves like a cat. 

Skin Care

Basenjis don’t require special skin care unless they develop a skin infection. If you notice any signs of a skin infection (red, bleeding, or scabby skin; sores; hair loss; or a greasy coat), take your dog to a vet as soon as possible.

Coat Care

To keep your Basenji’s coat clean, a short brushing session once a week is perfectly fine. They generally don’t need to be bathed unless they get very dirty or if your veterinarian recommends it.

Eye Care

Basenji dogs don’t require special eye care. But any redness or cloudiness of the eyes; squinting or holding the eyes closed; or yellow or green discharge from the eyes should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Ear Care

A Basenji’s ears should be cleaned every two to four weeks. Pet parents should check their dogs’ ears weekly for discharge, redness, or abnormal smell. Any of these changes should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible, as they can be signs of an ear infection.

Considerations for Pet Parents

Bringing home a new dog is a big commitment, and the Basenji breed is no exception. These dogs are smart and active, which means pet parents need to be prepared to give them the daily attention and exercise they need to be happy. Otherwise, you might come home to find your living room turned into a destruction zone.

Basenji FAQs

How much does a Basenji cost?

The typical Basenji pup costs $800–$2,000, depending on the breeder and your location. A show dog-quality Basenji puppy will cost more—between $2,000–$4,500. Basenjis are expensive because they’re a rare breed and only come into heat once a year, according to the breed club.  

How much exercise does a Basenji need?

Basenjis require at least an hour of exercise every day. They can join you on your morning walk or run, and this breed is also happy competing in dog sports like agility and luring.

Do Basenji dogs bark a lot?

Basenji dogs are very quiet and rarely make noise. Basenjis do not bark, but they can make a yodeling noise.

Is the Basenji a good family dog?

Basenjis are affectionate toward their families, though they do best in a home with older children who know how to properly interact with pets. As long as your Basenji is socialized, trained early, and kept active, they make a very good family dog. 

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Emily A. Fassbaugh, DVM


Dr. Emily Fassbaugh grew up in San Diego. She attended the University of California, Davis for both her undergraduate studies in Animal…

Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

What Is Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs?

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol, which is a type of carbohydrate that does not actually contain alcohol. It has a sweet taste and is often used as a sugar substitute.

Xylitol, also known as birch sugar, is found in:  

Sugar-free foods: Baked goods/desserts, peanut butter, ice cream, candy, fruit drink, drink powder, jelly/jam, cereal, pudding/Jell-O, ketchup, syrup, chewing gum, and breath mints 

Medications: Cough drop, gummy vitamin, chewable vitamin, and prescription medication  

Dental care products: Toothpaste and mouthwash 

Beauty products: Shampoo, moisturizer, and deodorant 

While xylitol may be unharmful to humans, it is toxic and potentially lethal to dogs. The difference is in the way blood sugar is controlled in the body.

In both humans and dogs, blood sugar is regulated by the release of insulin from the pancreas. In dogs, xylitol triggers a large release of insulin which causes the blood sugar level to drop quickly and dangerously; this is called hypoglycemia. In humans, however, xylitol does not affect the pancreas or insulin release, so people do not experience any change in blood sugar levels.   

Xylitol can also cause liver damage and even liver failure in dogs. It is unknown how this happens, but it appears to depend on how much xylitol your dog consumes.  

Xylitol’s toxic effects are not yet reported in cats. Scientists, however, are not in agreement that cats are completely clear from the effects of xylitol poisoning, so for now it is best to keep xylitol products away from all your furry pets.  

If your dog ingests xylitol, you should take it immediately to a local veterinary emergency hospital for evaluation and treatment.

Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs are typically due to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and may include:  


Weakness/Loss of balance  

Stumbling/Lack of coordination  




Signs of hypoglycemia may appear as early as 30 minutes after xylitol ingestion but may be delayed up to 12 hours. If you notice any of these symptoms, and believe your dog may have ingested xylitol, contact your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

Causes of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Xylitol poisoning in dogs is usually caused by accidental ingestion of a product containing xylitol which is included in many foods and household products. Therefore, xylitol poisoning relatively common in dogs.  

Xylitol is not always clearly labeled as such, so look for words such as “birch sugar” or “artificial sweetener” in a product’s ingredients list. If in doubt, call the Pet Poison Helpline or ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for more information on a specific product, and if your pet needs treatment.   

One of the most common causes of xylitol poisoning in dogs is ingesting sugar-free chewing gum, which dogs may find rummaging through a bag or purse. Be sure to keep all gum securely away from your pets.   

A dog only needs to eat as little as 0.045 grams/pound. (0.1gram/kilogram) to experience hypoglycemia from xylitol ingestion. Liver damage occurs at a much higher dose of 0.11 to 0.22 gram/pound (0.25 to 0.5gram/kilogram). Most chewing gums contain 0.2 to 1.0 grams of xylitol per piece, which means only one piece of gum can cause low blood sugar in a 20-pound dog, and as few as 2 to 4 pieces of gum can cause liver damage and failure.   

How Veterinarians Diagnose Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

If you see your dog eat a product containing xylitol or suspect it may have eaten it, take your pet to a local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

The vet will ask for a thorough history of the incident, so it is very helpful to bring the packaging (or what is left of it) from the product your dog ingested. To diagnose xylitol poisoning, a vet will perform a physical exam to assess your dog’s mental and neurological status.

A complete blood count, serum blood chemistry, and urinalysis are likely recommended for a baseline evaluation. This includes checking your dog’s blood sugar and baseline liver values, which will need to be monitored for the next 72 hours to ensure there is no liver damage.   

Treatment of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Dogs should be treated as soon as possible for xylitol poisoning.

If your dog is not showing symptoms of poisoning, and the ingestion occurred fewer than six hours prior, your vet will likely induce vomiting.   

Next, the vet will try to maintain your dog’s normal blood sugar levels, which may include IV fluids with dextrose supplementation. Your dog will likely be hospitalized overnight for observation and serial blood sugar will be monitored. It may also be given a liver protectant medication.

Recovery and Management of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment are crucial in treating xylitol poisoning in dogs. Hypoglycemia may lead to seizures and coma, and severe liver damage may lead to liver failure. Overall, the prognosis is very good for dogs with only hypoglycemia, and who are treated promptly upon ingesting xylitol.

Most dogs are hospitalized for observation for 12 to 24 hours. The pet’s bloodwork is rechecked to monitor Its liver values for 72 hours after ingesting xylitol. If the liver values are normal at that time, then there should be no long-term damage.   

Prevention of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs  

Reading product labels is one important way to prevent xylitol poisoning in dogs. Look for xylitol as an ingredient, also for products labeled as “sugar-free,” “no sugar added,” “diabetic friendly,” “reduced sugar,” or “birch sugar.” 

If you are unsure about a product’s safety, don’t feed it to your pet. Peanut butter is often used as a treat or to administer medication to dogs, so be sure to select the kind that is safe for your dog.   

Keep all xylitol-containing foods and household products away from your dog and in a secure place. Dogs are very clever and will find ways to get to these dangerous items.   

Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs FAQs

What is the amount of xylitol that is toxic to dogs?

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can occur if a dog ingests as little as 0.045 grams. (0.1gram/kilogram). Liver damage can occur by ingesting 0.11 to 0.22gram/pound. (0.25-0.5gram/kilogram). This means that as little as one piece of gum can cause xylitol poisoning in a 20-pound dog.

How long does it take for xylitol poisoning to affect my dog?

Xylitol is quickly absorbed, so you may see signs as early as 30 minutes, or they could be delayed for up to 12 hours. Clinical signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs include vomiting, weakness, stumbling/loss of balance, lethargy/depression, tremors/seizures, and collapse/coma.

How do I know if my dog has xylitol poisoning?

Seek emergency veterinary care if your pet has ingested a product with xylitol, or you suspect they have. Xylitol is contained in many foods and household products including baked goods, chewing gum/mint, medication, oral hygiene, and beauty products, and more. If you did not see your pet eating xylitol but notice issues such as vomiting, weakness, trouble walking, balance concerns, lethargy, seizures, collapsing, or a coma-like state, it is experiencing xylitol toxicity.  

What is the most common serious illness related to xylitol exposure in dogs?

Ingestion of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in dogs, and at higher doses it can also lead to liver damage and even failure. The mechanism of liver damage is unknown, but it can be fatal if untreated.

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Veronica Higgs, DVM


Dr. Veronica Higgs is a 2010 graduate from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.  She then completed a 1-year rotating…

Side Effects of Pet Medications

Pets can experience side effects to medications they are given, just like people. These can range from mild to more severe reactions, depending on many factors.

It’s always best to discuss the risks of a drug with your veterinarian and decide if the potential benefits outweigh the potential side effects. If you suspect your pet is having any side effects, speak with your veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the next steps.

Common Medication Side Effects in Pets

Symptoms of a drug reaction in pets, or side effects to that drug, can be based on:

The type of medication and how it’s administered. Usually, injectable medications have a higher chance of causing side effects than oral medications.

Your pet’s health status and age. Older pets that have a medical diagnosis might react differently to the same medication given to a young, healthy pet.

These are some of the most common side effects that pets experience:

Gastrointestinal Upset 

One of the most common side effects of pet medications is mild stomach upset. This is because most medications are taken by mouth and absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.

Some pets have a more serious reaction, including vomiting, diarrhea, and decrease or lack of appetite. These symptoms often resolve as their body adjusts to taking the medication, but sometimes the symptoms can become severe.

Ask your veterinarian if the medicine should be given with or without food, because that can make a big difference on how your pet tolerates the medication.

Some medications that commonly cause stomach upset are:

Antibiotics. Consider giving your pet probiotics when they are on antibiotics, to prevent or relieve antibiotic-associated diarrhea, vomiting, and appetite issues.

Levothyroxine (used for hypothyroidism in dogs)

Methimazole (used for hyperthyroidism in cats)

Steroids such as prednisone and prednisolone

Blood pressure medications

Gabapentin (especially in cats)

Oral and topical flea and tick medications

Excessive Salivation

Excessive saliva production, or hypersalivation, is a common side effect with some pet medications. Often this is because the medicine has a bitter or unpleasant taste. For these medications, it is not recommended that the pet parent crush the medication, which can make it taste much worse.

Tramadol, a pain medication, is a very commonly prescribed pet medication that’s known to have a bitter taste; it should not be crushed. Medications such as antibiotics, antihistamines, and steroids can cause dry mouth, which triggers saliva production. Other medications known to cause hypersalivation include methimazole, flea and tick medications, and gabapentin.

Stomach Ulcers

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as carprofen (Rimadyl), deracoxib (Deramaxx), meloxicam, and robenacoxib (Onsior), as well as steroids like prednisone and prednisolone, are known to increase your pet’s risk of getting gastrointestinal ulcers.

These ulcers can then cause vomiting and diarrhea, with or without blood and/or dark, tarry stools. These medications should NEVER be given together, as it greatly increases the risk of ulcers. Stomach ulcers are often treated with medications that reduce acid production and protect the lining of the gastrointestinal system.

Lumps and Bumps

Side effects of medications that affect the skin are very common among pets. Lumps and bumps on the skin are most often caused by injectable medications. After the injection, you may notice a small lump where the medication was administered. These lumps often go away quickly as the medication is absorbed into your pet’s body.

Skin Irritation

Oral, injectable, and topical pet medications can all cause skin irritation. Antibiotics, thyroid medications, steroids, and flea and tick medications have all been associated with skin irritation in pets.

Hair loss, itchiness, swelling, redness, scabbing, red bumps, hives, and blisters are the most common symptoms of skin irritation in pets. Skin reactions vary highly in severity and level of pain. They can be mild and resolve easily, or they can be severe, leading to immune system conditions such as lupus.

Skin irritation in pets can also cause intense licking, biting, and chewing, which can cause worse damage to your pet’s skin.

Liver or Kidney Damage

Any medication your pet receives needs to be broken down by the body to be effective. The liver and kidneys do this, and they can be damaged in the process. Common side effects are increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, yellowing of the skin or eyes, and lethargy.

NSAIDs used short- or long-term are commonly associated with liver and/or kidney damage. This reaction is commonly called idiosyncratic, which means it is unpredictable. In general, if an NSAID medication is given at the correct dose for the correct period of time, these side effects should not occur.

Steroids are known to cause liver issues, but usually only when given at high doses for long periods of time or if the liver was already compromised before starting the medication. Blood pressure medications have also been known to cause kidney dysfunction.

Lethargy or Behavioral Changes

Pet medications often affect a pet’s brain, causing them to behave differently. Sometimes this behavior change is what they were prescribed for, such as with anti-anxiety and sedative/pain medication such as opiates, tramadol, and gabapentin. However, other times it’s an unintended side effect, like restlessness and hyperactivity.

These behavior changes can be mild to severe, even causing dysphoria. Dysphoria is an altered mental state where your pet might vocalize, pant, or have difficulty settling down. Dysphoria is also common after or during anesthesia in pets.

Metronidazole, which is used to treat infections, is an antibiotic known to have effects on the brain in older pets or if too high a dose is given. Most antihistamines, which are commonly used for a wide variety for allergy manifestations, can also cause lethargy or hyperactivity, depending on the pet.

Other medications known to have these side effects are levothyroxine, steroids, blood pressure medications, insulin, antihistamines, and flea and tick medications.

Rare Medication Side Effects in Pets

If your dog experiences any of the rare side effects listed below, they should be treated as soon as possible by a veterinarian because the consequences can be fatal. In most cases, giving these medications does not outweigh the risk of the side effects.

Severe Allergic Reaction

Anaphylaxis, or severe allergic reaction, is the most frightening medication side effect that pets can have. It can happen with any medication if your pet’s immune system is activated. Anaphylaxis is a potentially deadly type of allergic reaction. This reaction can occur the first time they have a medication (acute) or after it has been given a couple times (delayed).

In most pets, anaphylaxis primarily affects the lungs and airways. The most common symptom in most pets is trouble breathing. However, in dogs, the gastrointestinal system often releases histamine directly into the liver, causing symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea as well as liver enzyme elevation.

Blood Disorders

Rarely, medications can trigger blood disorders such as low platelets (thrombocytopenia) or low red blood cells (anemia) in pets, which can cause spontaneous bleeding. Antibiotics have often been implicated in causing low platelet disorders, which in turn can cause hemorrhaging or bruising, and this is potentially fatal if not treated quickly and aggressively. Methimazole in cats has also been associated, rarely, with blood disorder development.

Neurologic Issues

Some pet medications can cause symptoms such as seizures, tremors, and loss of coordination. These include:

Antibiotics (metronidazole, fluoroquinolones such as Baytril and Marbofloxacin)

Anti-anxiety medications

Flea and tick medications (Bravecto, NexGard, Simparica, Revolution Plus, and Credelio)


Chemotherapy drugs  

The side effect could be related to the dose, such as high doses of metronidazole, or it can be unpredictable. Unlike some toxin-induced seizures and tremors, those related to antibiotics generally respond well to first-line anti-seizure treatment.

Difficulty Standing/Walking and Collapse

These side effects can happen with medications that cause an alternation to the cardiovascular system. These medications can alter blood pressure and cause abnormalities in the way your pet’s heart beats, which can be very serious. Blood pressure medications and flea and tick medications can cause collapse in pets.

Breed-Related Reactions to Parasite Medication

Herding dogs such as Collies, Australian Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs, English Sheepdogs, and related breeds can have a gene mutation that makes them especially sensitive to certain parasite prevention and treatment medications, such as ivermectin or moxidectin. A genetic test is available to identify at-risk dogs.

The dose of ivermectin or moxidectin in heartworm preventatives is so low that it is usually safe for use in any breed of dog. However, at high doses, these medications have serious and potentially fatal side effects, including dilated pupils, unsteadiness, mental dullness, drooling, vomiting, blindness, tremors, seizures, coma, and death.

When to Worry About Medication Side Effects in Pets

If your pet starts to experience any side effects, whether mild or significant, consult with your veterinarian before continuing or discontinuing the medication. It is important to ask about the side effects that your pet might have when they start any medication.

Ask your veterinarian what adverse reactions you should look for. If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately. Do not discontinue your pet’s medication unless they instruct you to do so.

If your pet has any serious symptoms, take them to your vet or an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible to avoid possibly life-threatening consequences. In most cases of significant or severe side effects, your veterinarian will recommend that you stop the medication immediately and see if the symptoms ease. Serious symptoms include:


Trouble breathing



Spontaneous bleeding/bruising


Yellowing of the skin/eyes/mouth

Blood in the stool or dark, tarry stool

Blood in the vomit

Not eating

For mild side effects, such as stomach upset, your vet might be able to assist you over the phone in making a new treatment plan. If a mild symptom lasts for more than 24 hours, your pet should be examined by a veterinarian.

In these less severe cases, some medications cannot be abruptly stopped. Your veterinarian will need to determine the safest plan for your pet, which is usually to slowly taper off the medication to avoid additional side effects.

Side Effects or Accidental Overdose of Pet Medication?

Your pet may be having a side effect from a prescribed pet medication, or it could be possible that they got more than the recommended dose. This could easily happen if you and another family member both gave the medication without knowing, or if you forget that you already gave it and then give them another dose. Your pet could have also gotten into the bottle or container.

This is another reason why it’s important to monitor any reactions to a medication and talk to your vet if you are concerned or notice any serious symptoms. In mild cases, your pet can be treated, but depending on the type of medication and amount ingested, an overdose can cause illness and even death.

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Barri J. Morrison, DVM


Barri Morrison was born and raised and currently resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She went to University of Florida for her…

Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?

So your dog comes over, wagging their tail furiously, and eager for some kisses. But then you notice a few crumbles of cat litter stuck in the fur around your dog’s mouth, and you immediately know what has happened. Your dog has been raiding the litter box again. Gross, right?

It might seem pretty weird to us, but the average dog will eat some cat poop at some point. If you’ve ever wondered why dogs eat feces (also known as coprophagy), here’s everything you need to know and what you should do if you see your dog eating cat poop.

Is It Normal for Dogs to Eat Cat Poop?

At some stages of their lives, dogs eating feces is quite normal, and in fact, it may be necessary.

Mother dogs lick their puppies to keep them clean, and they ingest the fecal matter in the process. Young dogs are born without bacteria in their intestinal tract, but they need bacteria to properly digest food. The quickest way to obtain it is by eating stool from animals that already have those bacteria in their system. And in reality, a mother dog teaches their puppies to eat stool when she cleans them, so it is not as innately gross to dogs as it is to us.

But how does this translate to an adult dog that’s caught raiding the litter box?

Reasons Why Dogs Eat Cat Poop

There are two major categories of reasons why dogs will eat feces. Most cases involve behavioral causes, but there are some medical reasons as well.

Behavioral Reasons

Unfortunately, in many dogs (and perhaps most), eating feces becomes a habit. In fact, some dogs actually seem to enjoy eating it. This can become a very difficult habit to break. Your dog is getting rewarded with something they like each time they are able to access the “prize” (a dirty litter box), so they are motivated to try again in the future. Much like us grabbing the bag of potato chips even though we know it isn’t a healthy snack, dogs will be drawn to the litter box even though they know they aren’t supposed to.

Boredom is another common reason why pups will start eating feces. Since they explore the world with their mouths, the litter pan is no exception, and then they find a treat stashed there, which keeps them coming back. Dogs that have ample playtime and get lots of exercise and interactive time with their families are less likely to develop coprophagia.

Another surprising reason some dogs start to eat feces is if they have an accident in the house. If you have punished your dog in some way (even by yelling or scolding), they know they will be punished for their accident, so some dogs will hide the evidence by eating it. This is just one reason why you should always use positive potty training techniques and never punish your dog for accidents. Once they discover they like the taste of fecal matter, the situation can spread to the litter box as well.

Lastly, some dogs will begin to eat feces during periods of stress. Much like people with comfort foods, dogs will turn to the things they enjoyed as puppies to relieve their stress. For some dogs, this may include coprophagy.

Medical Reasons

Even though it’s less common, medical causes for dogs for dogs eating cat poop are diagnosed on a regular basis.

The most likely reason tends to be malnutrition in cases where dogs are being fed a diet that does not meet all of their nutritional needs. Most commonly, we see this in dogs being fed a homemade diet, or one that has not been AAFCO-certified to meet all of the nutritional needs for that particular animal (this information is found on the label).

Other causes may include intestinal parasites, poor intestinal absorption, and some types of hormonal or endocrine imbalances. Occasionally, senior dogs who suddenly develop the habit may be suffering from cognitive dysfunction.

The good news is that if your vet identifies a medical cause for your dog’s coprophagy, you can deal with the underlying condition to prevent more significant problems. The treatment may also help eliminate the desire to eat stool.

Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Cat Feces and Cat Litter?

Unfortunately, there are some concerns with dogs that eat another animal’s feces.

First, if the other animal has any intestinal parasites or certain harmful bacteria, like E. coli or Salmonella, it is possible for your dog to contract these diseases.

One seldom-considered facet is that if the cat is taking medication, the residues from that drug may still be in the cat’s feces when the dog consumes it, which may affect the dog.

And of course, whatever your dog eats can be spread to your family through their kisses and saliva. Always wash your hands well after interacting with your dog, and try to avoid kisses—especially if your dog is known to enjoy raiding the litter box.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Cat Feces

This can be a very difficult habit to break, and it will likely take patience and the willingness to try many approaches.

Switch to Positive Training Methods

Most importantly, do not punish your dog for raiding the cat box. This can actually make the problem worse, particularly if your dog eats stool in part as a reaction to stress. There are other ways to break the habit without punishment. If you have done this in the past, talk to your vet about finding a dog trainer who can teach you positive training methods.

Clean the Litter Box Often

One technique that is very effective but labor intensive is to clean the litter pan very frequently—preferably, each time your cat uses the box. Although self-cleaning litter boxes are on the market, some cats are afraid of these, so be aware of this if you decide to get one. Follow all the advice from the company and keep both the old and new boxes available for a while to get your cat used to the idea.

Keep Your Dog Active and Engaged

Increasing your dog’s activity, exercise, and amount of household attention will also help, particularly if the habit was developed out of boredom. Tired dogs often have less interest in causing trouble, and lots of outdoor playtime will make it less likely for your dog to come inside and look for presents in the litter box.

Check Your Dog’s Diet and Slow Down Their Eating

Make sure you are feeding your dog a well-balanced diet. Talk to your vet about what you’re feeding your dog and ask for recommendations. Also try slowing down how fast your dog eats (such as using a treat ball to dispense food) to help improve digestion and reduce the instinct to eat feces.

Try Medications, Supplements, and Food Additives

There are supplements, medications, and food additives that can be used to change the flavor of the feces and hopefully deter your dog from eating it. Any medication options should be discussed with your veterinarian and used after other options have been exhausted.

Keep in mind that food additives need to be given to the pet whose stool is being eaten (not the eater!). This means that treating your cat comes into play, which can be a difficult ask.

Consider a Basket Muzzle as a Last Resort

As a last resort, basket muzzles—which allow the dog to eat, drink, pant, but not pick up items such as fecal matter—can be extremely effective in some dogs.

The good news is that with patience, most dogs can be stopped from regularly snacking on the cat’s stool. The unfortunate part of the equation is that, much like us, it’s hard to not give in to cravings and to change snacking habits. Dogs have long memories, so consistency and forgiveness are important to remember when retraining your dog.

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Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP


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

Skin Ulcers in Dogs

Dermatoses, Erosive or Ulcerative in Dogs

Erosions are shallow defects in the skin that only affect the skin’s upper layers. They can be quite painful, but tend to heal quickly if the skin is protected and the underlying cause is eliminated. With ulcers, the surface layers of the skin are compromised completely, since the defects go deeper into the skin. Ulcers require careful wound care to prevent infection, and tend to heal slowly. Erosive, or ulcerative, dermatoses (diseases of the skin) are from a group of dissimilar skin disorders characterized by the presence of erosions or ulcers.

The condition or disease described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

The symptoms will depend on the cause. However, they can include one or more of the following:

Erosions or ulcers; they may be found anywhere on the bodyHair loss (alopecia)Single or multiple lesions; lesions may be inflamed (indicated by redness and swelling)Lesions over pressure points (where skin lies closest to the bone)Dried discharge on the surface of a skin lesion (crust); or, may have moist discharge oozing from the lesionLoss of pigment in skin and/or hair (depigmentation)



A wide variety of conditions can result in erosions or ulcers of the skin. Common causes are burns, trauma, and skin infections, as well as more complicated conditions, such as drug reactions, certain types of cancers, and autoimmune diseases of the skin. Viruses can also be the cause of erosions or ulcers, and can appear identical to burns or trauma. Your veterinarian may need to run a battery of tests, including blood work, cultures for different types of infections, and skin biopsies (sample of skin tissue) to determine the root cause of the reaction and prescribe proper treatment.

In some cases an underlying cause cannot be identified. Your veterinarian will diagnose this outcome as an idiopathic (unknown) disorder or disease.

A partial list of disorders that cause erosions or ulcers of the skin include the following:

Immune-Mediated Disorders

Inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis)Canine juvenile cellulitis: also referred to as ‘puppy strangles,’ this condition is characterized by swelling of the head, neck, muzzle, eyes, and ears. The skin will crack in response to swelling, with the swollen lymph nodes draining through the skin and leaving crusted lesionsToxic epidermal necrolysis (tissue death, usually medication-induced)Feline indolent ulcer: an inactive, slow healing lip ulcer that causes little to no pain; also called a rodent ulcer, but is not related to rodents. Usually caused by flea bite sensitivity or food allergiesPemphigus (an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the skin)

Infectious Disorders

Skin infection caused by Staphylococcus, characterized by the presence of pus (pyoderma)Deep fungal or mycotic (parasitic fungi) infections, such as sporotrichosis, cryptococcosis, histoplasmosis)Superficial fungal infections, like Malassezia dermatitis, and dermatophytosisActinomycetic bacteria, such as Nocardia, Actinomyces, and Streptomyce; indications of an actinomycetic bacterial infection are similar to a fungal infection

Parasitic Disorders

Demodectic mange (demodicosis)Sarcoptic mangeFlea-bite allergy


Congenital/Hereditary Disorders

 Various skin disorders in which the skin is abnormal at birth (that is, a “congenital” abnormality), and that may or may not be inherited.

Metabolic Disorders

Excessive production of steroids by the adrenal glands (hyperadrenocorticism), especially when complicated by secondary infections or calcium deposits in the skin (calcinosis cutis).


Squamous cell carcinomaMast cell tumorsLymphoma of the skin (mycosis fungoides)

Nutritional Disorder

Zinc-responsive dermatosisGeneric dog-food dermatosis (allergy to specific ingredients in dog food)


Thermal, electrical, solar, or chemical burnsFrostbiteChemical irritantsVenomous snake and insect bites



Your veterinarian will begin with your dog’s full medical history and a physical examination. This is especially important owing to the extensive differential list (see Causes). Many of the causes have subtle differences in appearance and distribution. The wide variance of possible causes, and the similarities of many of the manifestations, make diagnosing and treating a dermatological skin disorder a challenge. An in depth history will be necessary for the true nature of the disorder to be made apparent. The history of the itching will be taken into account, as well as incidences of exposure to infectious organisms, and recent travel history (to account for some fungal diseases that can be acquired from environments other than the one in which you and your pet live). Diet, and any other signs of systemic (whole body) reactions will be recorded.

Lesions, ulcers and blisters will need to be biopsied for an in depth analyzation. Your veterinarian will perform a histological skin biopsy — an analyzation of the diseased tissues — as well as mycobacterial, and/or fungal cultures, and evaluations of fluid and pus from the lesion or blister. An aspirated sample of the fluids, and a subsequent microscopic examination of the involved cells in the fluid will also be used to determine the presence of bacterial infection, either aerobic or anaerobic (bacteria that can live with, or without oxygen, respectively).


Treatment will be given on an outpatient basis for most skin disorders, but methods of treatment and medications vary. Your veterinarian will tailor a management program that is best for your dog’s individual case; if the cause of the dermatosis is known, specific drug therapies may be prescribed.

Some of the possible methods of treatment will be hydrotherapy, which can be applied with either a whirlpool bath, or by spraying cool water under pressure against the ulcerated skin. First, make sure that your veterinarian approves of hydrotherapy as appropriate for your dog’s condition. Avoid the temptation to apply over-the-counter creams and ointments to erosions and ulcers without first checking with your veterinarian, since some commonly used products (such as those containing neomycin) can actually cause a delay in healing. Other products may contain alcohol or other ingredients that could inflict pain when applied. Keeping eroded, or ulcerated skin clean and protected, with soap that is specially formulated for sensitive skin, will be key to effective and responsive healing.

Living and Management

Follow-up will be on a case-by-case basis, and will depend on the disease process, the presence of generalized (systemic) diseases, medications used to treat the skin and body, and the potential side effects that can be expected from the medications.

Follow-up care with your veterinarian is important, especially for slowly healing ulcers; the progress of the wound should be monitored at least every other week to be sure that healing is proceeding properly, and that infection has not further complicated the healing process. 

Are There Really Any Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds?

Reviewed for accuracy on February 13, 2020, by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM

Dog lovers who suffer from itchy eyes, a runny nose, or difficulty breathing around dogs might find hope in low-shedding breeds that are marketed as “hypoallergenic.”

While it might make sense that dogs that aren’t big shedders would be less likely to trigger allergic reactions, there’s more to consider when it comes to pet allergen exposure.

Are Low-Shedding Dog Breeds Truly Hypoallergenic?

The fact is that all breeds produce proteins that can be allergens. These are found in their dander, saliva, and urine. Fur can carry these proteins but isn’t their primary source.

Since all dogs produce potential allergens, no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic—even if they do shed less than others.

Contact with any of those substances can cause reactions in sensitive people. Unfortunately, a study published in 2011 showed no difference in the level of dog allergens in homes with “hypoallergenic” versus “nonhypoallergenic” dogs.

Other research has shown that what seems to matter most is whether or not a person reacts to an individual dog rather than that dog’s breed.

7 Low-Shedding Dog Breeds

Even if it doesn’t mean that a dog will be hypoallergenic, you may look to low-shedding dog breeds for other reasons, such as reduced amounts of hair around your home, in your car, and on your clothes.

Here are seven low-shedding breeds:

Airedale Terrier

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The largest of all terrier breeds, this “King of Terriers” is known for having a devotion to family, courage and fearlessness. Airedale Terriers are alert, active dogs that are eager students who can excel at basic obedience training and beyond.

Airedales aren’t as tightly wound as other dogs in the terrier family, but they’re still energetic dogs that require plentiful exercise to put a dent in their energy levels.

Their short, wiry coats are low-shedding, and you can further reduce shedding with regular brushing to catch stray fur.

Bichon Frisé

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This petite white dog has glamorous looks mixed with a playful and affectionate temperament. The Bichon is an outgoing, curious, and cheerful dog wrapped in an adorably fluffy package.

Clever and willing to work, Bichons can master basic obedience as well as tricks to entertain their fans. Bichons have high-maintenance grooming needs, and even though they are a low-shedding breed, loose hairs can become caught in the undercoat and lead to matting.

Professional grooming is suggested to keep a Bichon’s coat in peak condition. 

Chinese Crested

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Image: Abramova

This head-turning toy breed has two varieties; hairless and powder-puff. Chinese Cresteds are as playful as their appearance suggests; they’re friendly and entertaining and can excel at competitive dog sports.

While the hairless option provides obvious benefits, the powder-puff’s impressive waterfall of hair is also low-shedding. And even though a hairless Chinese Crested might appear to be a “low-maintenance” breed, they need protection from the elements.

Hairless Chinese Cresteds are susceptible to cold and can easily sunburn, so they require you to pay attention to the temperature and to apply a dog-safe sunscreen when outside. Occasional moisturizing is also suggested to keep a Chinese Crested’s spotty skin in peak condition.


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Poodles come in three sizes; toy, miniature, and, standard, ranging from just 4 pounds all the way up to 70 pounds.

No matter the size, poodles are known for their keen intelligence, athleticism, and ease of training. Poodles are charming and affectionate family dogs that have a sense of humor.

They’re also active dogs that require both mental and physical exercise to meet their daily requirements, and because they’re eager swimmers, water sports can be a great fit.

The poodle’s low-shedding coat is a bonus, but the tight curls mean that without a close cut, the breed needs frequent grooming to prevent mats.

Portuguese Water Dog

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The “Portie” is a highly trainable family dog that’s a mix of whimsy, mischief, and high intelligence.

Originally bred to work in the water alongside fishermen, the Portuguese Water Dog’s steadfast work ethic persists to this day, and they need vigorous exercise to stay happy.

They’re intelligent dogs that are easy to train, but they are prone to be independent thinkers, which means they need ongoing mental stimulation.

The dense Portie coat requires frequent grooming.

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

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This blonde beauty is a working dog disguised in a glamourous coat. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers were bred to perform a variety of farm jobs, which translates to a keenly intelligent dog with a tendency to be an independent and potentially willful thinker.

The affectionate Wheaten can be an excellent family dog who forms close bonds to their people.

Their low-shedding coats require careful maintenance to prevent matting, including frequent brushing.

West Highland White Terrier

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Image: Senyavskaya

These jovial terriers are known for their jaunty, outgoing nature. Compact and hardy, Westies have big personalities packed into little bodies. They’re intelligent enough to become easily bored, and while they’re loving dogs, they have an independent nature.

Westies are busy and playful dogs, and thanks to their ratter heritage, they’re always willing to give chase if they spot something small and fuzzy in the yard.

A low-shedding breed, the Westie’s bright white coat requires regular grooming to strip away loose hair.

By: Victoria Schade

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Skin Disease (Dermatophilosis) in Dogs

Dermatophilosis in Dogs

Dermatophilosis is a skin disease that is irrespective of the age or gender of the animal, although the symptoms may vary. It is most often contracted from farm animals such as cows, sheep, or horses, and is prevelant in warm or humid climates. Dogs with wet skin or skin that is wounded from parasitic bites, such as from fleas or ticks, increases the chances of contracting the skin disease.

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 will see gray-yellow crusted bumps, like hives, on the skin of the body or head. The dog will try to scratch them. The bumps may be circular in form. When the bumps are removed you will see that they have dozens of hairs in them, due to the hair follicle being impacted. The areas are likely to have pus beneath the hive.


Your veterinarian will take samples of the pus and crusted skin to analyze them for dermatophilosis bacteria. These bacteria are easy to recognize on sight because of their described “railroad track” appearance (also described as paint brush lines). If there is pus under the crusts, it will also be examined. Once tests determine that the dermatophilosis bacteria are present, treatment will be prescribed.

Be sure to tell your veterinarian if your dog has been near farm animals or has been in an environment where there are farm animals. This information will help in determining whether the infection is dermatophilosis. A biopsy of the ulcers, and samples of the pus, will be taken where an ulcer is draining. Once tests determine that the dermatophilosis bacteria are present, treatment will be prescribed. If dermatophilosis is ruled out, further tests will be ordered to determine exactly what is causing this skin disorder.


Antibacterial shampoo will be used, followed by the gentle removal of infected flesh or abscesses. One or two baths will usually be enough. Consult your veterinarian as to which shampoo you should use. Following the cleaning, your veterinarian may also prescribe antibiotics to be taken for 10 to 20 days, especially if the infection has become severe. The antibiotic most commonly used is penicillin, however, the following are also used at times: tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, ampicillin, and amoxicillin.

Your veterinarian will then want to see your dog again after two to three weeks, to make certain the condition has cleared. If the results are negative, another seven days of therapy may be prescribed.


It is possible, though unlikely, that humans in contact with the dog can become infected. If the animal caregivers, or other members of the household, have compromised immune systems, it is advised that the dog be kept isolated from such persons until the condition has cleared.

Stomatitis in Dogs

What is Stomatitis in Dogs?

Stomatitis, also known as canine chronic ulcerative stomatitis (CCUS), affects a dog’s gums, oral mucosa, tongue, and pharynx. It is known as a paradental disease because it does not attack the tissues that attach the tooth to the socket, it attacks the tissues that surround the teeth. It is believed that 5-10% of dogs with stomatitis also have other immune mediated diseases.  

Symptoms of Stomatitis in Dogs

Stomatitis can cause the following symptoms: 


Severe bad breath 

Pus-like oral discharge 

Decreased appetite 

Ulceration of parts of the tongue  

Calculus (tartar) on the teeth, ranging from mild to severe 

Gingivitis, ranging from mild to severe 

Ulcerations on the areas of the cheek that contact teeth (otherwise known as “kissing lesions”) 

If a dog had previous dental cleanings that did not improve clinical signs, a veterinarian will determine whether stomatitis is a possible diagnosis. 

Causes of Stomatitis in Dogs

The exact cause of stomatitis is unknown. We do know that stomatitis is an immune system response to calculus and plaque on the teeth.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Stomatitis in Dogs

A diagnosis of stomatitis is determined by taking a biopsy (a piece of tissue removed from the body for further evaluation) and histology (the study of microscopic structures of tissues).  

Diagnostic testing is also used to rule out diseases that look similar to stomatitis before an appropriate treatment plan can occur. Similar diseases include: 

Bullous pemphigoid 

Pemphigus vulgaris 

Discoid lupus 


Systemic lupus erythematosus 

Erythema multiforme 

Treatment of Stomatitis in Dogs

Treatment of stomatitis starts with a professional dental cleaning. The cleaning schedule for a dog with stomatitis should be every 3-4 months to help reduce the chances of a flare-up. This type of cleaning requires a dog to be sedated to allow for proper examination of the teeth and cleaning under the gum, as well as dental radiographs so that the health of each individual tooth can be assessed. 

If it is determined that a tooth is no longer viable, the tooth will be extracted. The vet may then place a sealant on the remaining teeth to slow down the decaying process. The patient is then sent home with anti-inflammatories, pain medication, and a rigorous at-home dental care schedule.  

Recovery and Prevention of Stomatitis in Dogs

At-home care is very intensive to keep the disease from progressing and allow the dog to live as comfortably as possible for as long as possible. This includes twice-daily removal of plaque on the teeth using a chlorhexidine-based product. 

If a flare-up occurs, dental wipes can be helpful until the pain subsides, as brushing is painful at this point. Once the pain is under control, routine daily or twice-a-day brushing can occur. 

In addition to rigorous at-home dental care, there are medications and supplements that may be helpful in slowing down the disease process.  

Your veterinarian will be able to determine the best treatment plan, including necessary medications, depending on your dog’s needs.  

Stomatitis in Dogs FAQs

Can stomatitis in dogs be cured?

No, but with regular and aggressive dental care, it can be controlled. The goal with control is to ensure that the dog lives as comfortably as possible, as long as possible, and with as many teeth intact.

What happens if stomatitis goes untreated?

Stomatitis is extremely painful and can create an environment that leads to the loss of teeth. It can cause the dog to stop eating and/or drinking in addition to loss of teeth.

Is there a home remedy for stomatitis in dogs?

Unfortunately, no, but there are things that can be done at home to reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups, such as regular brushing and the use of anti-plaque products.

Is stomatitis in dogs fatal?

No, the disease itself is not fatal. However, a dog will not eat or drink when the mouth is painful, which is vital to the health and well-being of a dog.


1. Robins S. Research shows new medical treatment for painful canine stomatitis. Fear Free Pets March 8, 2021. Accessed February 8, 2022. 

2. Lewis J. Causes of canine stomatitis. Veterinary Practice News. June 29, 2017. Accessed February 8, 2022. 

3. Veterinary Dental Center. Canine Stomatitis or CUPS. 

4. Dental Vets. CCUS in Dogs. 

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Autumn Madden, DVM


I am from Washington, DC, and I wanted to be a veterinarian since watching my uncle on his farm at 8. I graduated from Tuskegee University…

Dislocated Hip in Dogs

What Is a Dislocated Hip in Dogs?

When a dog has a dislocated hip, also known as a coxofemoral luxation, the ball part of the joint comes out of the socket. Dislocation disrupts and can damage the joint capsule (an outer layer of tough fibrous tissue that stabilizes the hip joint), in addition to the ligaments, muscle, and bones of the hip.   

Symptoms of a Dislocated Hip in Dogs

Dislocated hips in dogs are extremely painful. Dogs typically cannot bear weight on their back leg, often limping and carrying it so it will not touch the ground. The affected leg may appear shorter than the others. The hip joint may also look swollen and be warm to the touch.   

Causes of a Dislocated Hip in Dogs

A dislocated hip in dogs is most commonly caused by trauma, such as being hit by a car. However, degenerative joint disease (arthritis or osteoarthritis), Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (or avascular necrosis of the femoral head), or hip dysplasia (malformation of the hip socket) also increases the risk.   

How Vets Diagnose Hip Luxation in Dogs

Often there is a history of trauma or injury that makes a veterinarian suspicious of a hip luxation in dogs. These dogs are x-rayed to check the positioning of their hips and confirm the luxation. 

In most cases, the bone slides forward and up (craniodorsal displacement), but the opposite can happen (ventrocaudal displacement). Knowing the position of the bones helps your vet correct the problem. 

X-rays also provide additional information about the hip status that can be important in selecting therapy. One example is when you have fractures of the pelvis or leg that would interfere with correcting the dog’s hip luxation. 

Sometimes when ligaments tear during hip luxation in dogs, a bone chip can come off as well. If the luxated hip were popped into place with a bone chip in the joint, this would cause painful bone-on-bone grinding. Instead, the bone chip should be surgically trimmed. 

Another helpful piece of information found in the x-ray is if your dog has hip dysplasia (a malformation of the hip socket, making it too shallow to support the ball of the hip) or Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, a condition in which disrupted blood flow to the femur where it meets the pelvis leads to death of the bone cells.          

These cases warrant special consideration because manual joint replacement is unlikely to be successful, which means surgical correction is most likely needed. 

Treatment for Dislocated Hips in Dogs

If you suspect that your dog has dislocated their hip, take them immediately to the emergency vet. 

There are two main approaches to correcting a dog’s dislocated hip: closed reduction (nonsurgical) and open reduction (surgical). 

Closed Reduction  

Closed reduction is the nonsurgical technique that a veterinarian uses to put your dog’s hip back in place manually. It is referred to as closed because you are not “opening” the joint with surgery. 

To have the best chance of success with a closed reduction, the vet will make sure that your dog’s hip appears as normal as possible aside from the dislocation, meaning no fractures and minimal hip dysplasia.  

To further maximize the chances of success, the closed reduction should be attempted as soon as possible after the dislocation. If you wait any longer than one or two days, muscle contraction will occur that makes the reduction procedure much more difficult.  

Since this procedure is painful and the muscles need to be relaxed, it needs to be attempted under general anesthesia. The dog’s femoral head, the highest part of the thigh bone, is manipulated back into the joint manually and then X-rayed to confirm it is in place. 

Once the hip joint is restored, a special support called an Ehmer sling is placed. The sling prevents your dog from using the leg and provides an angle that encourages the hip to remain in place.  

Your dog needs to wear the sling for 10-14 days at home with frequent rechecks with your veterinarian, and be confined to a crate for an additional two to four weeks afterward. 

If successful, a closed reduction is a good noninvasive option. However, closed reductions to correct hip dislocation in dogs are only successful 50% of the time – meaning that the other 50% of the time, the hip will pop back out, and surgery will be needed.  

Still, most veterinarians agree it is worth the effort to attempt closed reduction for a dog’s hip luxation before jumping to surgery.   

Open Reduction 

If closed reduction fails or is deemed inadvisable because of trauma, fractures, or hip dysplasia, the vet will need to perform an open reduction. This means surgery to put your dog’s hip back into its normal position and stabilize it. 

There are several techniques to accomplish this. The simplest approach to an open reduction is when the hip luxation only created a small tear in the joint capsule. The hip can be put back into place and the joint capsule can be sewn back together. 

However, in cases where the joint capsule is too damaged, the joint may need to be reconstructed with a toggle pin or other implant to keep the femur in place. Each case is different, so the veterinary surgeon will decide the best approach for your dog.  

Post-operation, an Ehmer sling will likely be applied for approximately one week, followed by a few weeks to months of crate confinement and physical therapy. 

The success rate for open reduction is 85-90%, with a good range of motion and return to normal activity expected.   

There are cases, however, where open reduction is not an option for treating a dog’s dislocated hip because of existing arthritis, severe hip dysplasia, or severe trauma to the area.

In these situations, restoration of the normal hip joint is not possible, so the surgeon may need to do a femoral head osteotomy (FHO). 

This procedure eliminates the pain involved with bone-on-bone contact by removing the femoral head (ball) altogether. In this case, a false joint will develop in the soft tissues, allowing nearly normal function of the leg. 

This technique will also require post-operative crate rest followed by physical therapy, but it does eliminate the risk of recurrent dislocation or the complications associated with implants.   

Recovery and Management of Hip Luxation in Dogs

Post-operative care will be based largely on how your dog was injured to cause the hip luxation (for example, if the dog was hit by a car). However, most recovery will include time spent in an Ehmer sling and crate rest, followed by physical therapy.  

Typical recovery can involve up to six to eight weeks of restricted activity. Your veterinarian will customize a recovery plan for your dog. 

Initially, your vet will likely prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling, but in the long run, a joint supplement will be recommended to help maintain joint health and combat arthritis.  

Another important aspect of long-term recovery from hip luxation in dogs is weight management, as obesity can exacerbate joint disease and pain. 

The most significant short-term complications are dislocating the hip again; implant issues such as loosening, fracture, or nerve damage; and infections.

You must use caution while your dog is in recovery to ensure your dog is properly restricted and does not slip and fall.  

If your dog seems to be in pain or not able to walk or uncomfortable during recovery, you should have them reexamined by their vet immediately to ensure the hip has not moved out of place.  

Dislocated Hip in Dogs FAQs

Can a dog’s dislocated hip heal on its own?

You should NOT wait for your dog’s dislocated hip to “heal on its own.” If the dislocation is not corrected, the body will try to stabilize the area with scar tissue. 

However, this type of healing is not very strong and will not give the dog a normal range of motion. The bones might also rub on each other, causing chronic pain.

You must take your dog to the emergency vet to have them put your dog’s hip back in place through closed reduction (manual repositioning) or open reduction (surgery).   

How do you know if your dog’s hip is dislocated?

If your dog is not able to walk or bear weight on a leg, and they have a history of trauma (sustained an injury like being hit by a car), it is highly likely that they have a dislocated hip. Other signs can include intense pain, the affected leg appearing shorter than the other legs, swelling of the joint, and decreased appetite or activity.  

How long does it take for a dog to recover from a dislocated hip?

Total recovery will likely take two to three months, with additional time for physical therapy. The exact recovery time will depend on the trauma that caused the dislocated hip, as well as the method used to repair it. A recovery plan will be customized by your veterinarian.  

Can a dog walk with a dislocated hip?

Most dogs will not walk on a leg with a dislocated hip and will instead carry the leg.   

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Veronica Higgs, DVM


Dr. Veronica Higgs is a 2010 graduate from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.  She then completed a 1-year rotating…

8 Common Urinary Problems in Dogs

What Is a Urinary Problem in a Dog?

A dog’s urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra. These anatomical parts of the urinary tract are located inside the abdomen as well as in an area in the back of the abdomen called the retroperitoneal space.

The urinary tract has many functions, some of the most important include filtering the blood to remove toxins, maintaining balance of electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium), and reabsorbing water for the body. Urine is created as a waste by-product. Unfortunately, problems can occur at any of the areas along the urinary tract. Problems of the urinary tract can range from an uncomplicated infection to serious cancers

Urinary Tract Infection in Dogs

Urinary tract infection or “UTI,” is a general term most often used to describe infection of the lower part of the urinary tract (the urinary bladder and/or urethra). Urinary tract infections can cause straining to urinate, blood in the urine, frequently urinating small volumes only or urinating in inappropriate places. Urinary tract infections are common in dogs and can be caused by many different types of bacteria. Urinary tract infections can also occur secondary to an underlying problem such as urinary crystals, stones, or cancers.

Urinary Bladder Infection in Dogs 

Urinary bladder infections are also common in dogs and typically are treatable and curable. A UTI can be painful and require a prescription medication to resolve. Some dogs with a urinary bladder infection will drink more water. Therefore, it is important to monitor your dog’s drinking and urinary habits. 

Lower Urinary Tract Disease in Dogs

“Lower urinary tract disease” is a general term that can describe multiple problems of the bladder and/or urethra. Some dogs experience infection, while others can have inflammation without infection (sterile cystitis). The symptoms are similar for both issues, but are treated differently, depending on the cause. Many dogs will drink more, strain to urinate, pass blood in their urine, or have accidents in the house.

Urinary Bladder Stones in Dogs 

Stones that develop in a dog’s urinary bladder can become an emergency, if left untreated. When first formed in the body, they may go unnoticed for some time. However, if a stone from the urinary bladder moves to the urethra (which has a much smaller diameter), it can become stuck and block the flow of urine.

This can cause the urinary bladder to overfill and rupture, causing dogs to become septic and die from urine leakage inside the abdomen. Many dogs with urinary bladder stones will strain to urinate or attempt to urinate repeatedly but pass only small amounts of urine.

Urinary Bladder Cancer in Dogs 

The most common type of cancer that develops in the urinary bladder in dogs is called transitional cell carcinoma. It most often develops in an area of the bladder called the trigone, where urine exits the bladder into the urethra to be voided. This painful cancer can cause symptoms such as straining to urinate, blood in the urine, and urinating small volumes at a time.

Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

Urinary incontinence is a common urinary problem seen most often in female dogs, but it can also occur in males. Urinary incontinence typically is seen as leaking of urine (large or small volumes) where the pet has been lying. Urinary incontinence often results from weak sphincter muscle tone at the urinary bladder.

Kidney Failure in Dogs

There are many causes of kidney failure in dogs, including injury, infection, toxins, some medications, and cancer. Ultimately, when the kidneys can no longer perform their function, dogs struggle with multiple symptoms. Typically, dogs suffering with kidney failure have a decreased appetite, often urinate large amounts of urine, experience possible weight loss, and may have episodes of vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Less Common Urinary Tract Conditions in Dogs

Diseases of the urinary tract in dogs that can have similar symptoms—but are less common—include pyelonephritis (kidney infection), kidney stones, proteinuria, neurologic conditions affecting the urinary bladder (atony), and problems of the ureters or urethra (e.g., strictures, diverticulum).

Diseases that start in other body systems, but may show signs in the urinary tract, include prostate diseases in male dogs, pyometra in female dogs, Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism), diabetes mellitus, and diabetes insipidus.

Symptoms of Urinary Issues in Dogs

As a pet parent it’s important to know your pet’s normal patterns and behaviors when drinking, eating, urinating, and defecating. For pets that live in multiple-pet households and share the same bowl for water, it can be difficult to tell, so you may need to temporarily separate your pets to determine what is normal and abnormal for each.

The most common symptoms of urinary issues in dogs are related to the amount of water consumed (too much or too little) and abnormal urination patterns such as straining to urinate, urinating small or large volumes, having urinary accidents, or having blood present in the urine.

Causes of Urinary Issues in Dogs

Urinary issues in dogs are common and many are treatable. Dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes, as well as both male and female dogs, get urinary issues. Sometimes the cause can be prevented with proper hygiene and weight management. Other times, genetics, diet, and lifestyle play a role in the development of urinary issues.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Urinary Issues in Dogs

Many types of urinary problems have similar symptoms. However, treatment is different based on the cause of the issue, so it is important to make a proper diagnosis. Your veterinarian will likely order some tests to aid in determining the cause.

Initially, a urinalysis test is performed to examine your pet’s urine. This urine sample needs to be fresh. Sometimes, your veterinarian may also analyze bloodwork, submit urine for culturing, take X-rays, or use an ultrasound to better evaluate your pet’s urinary problem. Most of these tests can be done with your regular veterinarian, but in some cases pets may need to be referred to an internal medicine specialist for more advanced testing like an endoscopy or biopsy sampling.

Treatment of Urinary Problems in Dogs

Depending on the issue, treatment can range from a short course of medication or dietary changes to surgical intervention. When you notice any urinary issues, it is best to seek the help of your veterinarian as soon as possible to determine a diagnosis and initiate appropriate therapy.   

Recovery and Management of Urinary Issues in Dogs

Many urinary issues can be resolved with therapy, and your dog can get back to its normal activities. If your veterinarian recommends follow-up testing after a course of medications, it is important to complete this step to make sure that the problem is stabilized, improving, or completely cleared. When your dog has its annual exam, make sure to discuss any changes in eating, drinking, and eliminating with your veterinarian.

Try to keep your pet at a proper weight and follow strict hygiene, as long hair/mats around the urogenital area can contribute to urinary problems. Occasionally when a pet has diarrhea, it can lead to urinary issues, as the rectum and vulva in females are near each other. Be sure your pet has access to clean, fresh drinking water at all times.

Some people even choose to use bottled water for their pets with urinary problems. There are some diets and supplements based on promoting urinary health that can be beneficial. However, different urinary problems require different approaches to maintain bladder health, so always work with your veterinarian before starting any therapy, including diets and supplements.


Veterinary Information Network. Urinary Tract (Bladder) Infection in Dogs and Cats. July 2021.

Veterinary Information Network. Cystotomy for Bladder Stones in Dogs and Cats. January 2022.

Featured Image: Zastrozhnov


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Amanda Simonson, DVM


I am a veterinarian passionate about helping animals. I practiced for 15 years in the hospital setting doing medicine, surgery, preventive…