Archive : November

Toy Manchester Terrier

Manchester Terriers are sleek, short-coated dogs with a black and mahogany coat. Compact and muscular, they are bred to kill vermin and small game. In addition to the Toy Manchester Terrier, the breed has a standard-sized dog.

Physical Characteristics

The Toy Manchester Terrier is described as a miniature form of the standard Manchester, with an alert and eager expression. Its racy, sleek, and compact body is long in proportion to its height, with an arched topline. The dog’s gait is effortless and free. Its coat, meanwhile, is smooth and shiny.

Personality and Temperament

The Toy Manchester is one of the most sensitive and gentle breeds, but in terms of hunting instincts and aggressiveness, it shows its real terrier nature. This inquisitive terrier may give chase to small pets. And while it is reserved or at times timid with unknown people, the Toy Manchester is generally playful with the members of its human family.


Coat care for the Toy Manchester is minimal, involving just the occasional brushing. This indoor dog hates cold weather, but enjoys the occasional outdoor romp. The dog should also be provided with a soft, warm bed.


The Toy Manchester Terrier, which has an average lifespan of 14 to 16 years, may sometimes suffer from hypothyroidism, Legg-Perthes disease, deafness, patellar luxation, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). It is also prone to some minor troubles like von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) and cardiomyopathy. Eye, hip, and DNA tests for vWD are suggested for this breed.

History and Background

The Black and Tan Terrier, one of the best-known dogs in England, was appreciated for its ability to kill rats in the 16th century. These dogs were valued both for their quality to keep homes free of vermin and for the purpose of entertainment. People also laid bets on the number of rats a dog could kill in a given amount of time. Numerous workers in Manchester, England were fond of dog-racing contests and rat-killing contests.

In the mid-1800s, a cross between the Whippet racer and the Black and Tan Terrier resulted in a dog named the Manchester Terrier. Although the Manchester Terrier and its Black and Tan Terrier ancestors were sometimes considered to be the same breed, it wasn’t until 1923 that the name Manchester Terrier was officially used.

During its development, the Manchester was crossed with many other breeds, including the Italian Greyhound. The toy variety of the breed has existed as early as 1881.

As the demand for smaller dogs was high in the 19th century, inbreeding was practiced to produce smaller versions of the breed, but this resulted in very delicate dogs. To combat this problem, breeders attempted to produce a miniature version instead of a very small one. This ultimately resulted in the Toy Manchester Terrier or the English Toy Terrier.

Early on, the American Kennel Club (AKC) regarded the Toy Manchester and Manchester as different but inter-breeding breeds. But in 1959, the AKC adjusted the Manchester standard to include both inter-breeding varieties as one breed. The Toy Manchester is differentiated by its diminutive size and cropped ears.

Low Blood Albumin in Dogs

Hypoalbuminemia in Dogs

When the levels of albumin in a dog’s blood serum are abnormally low, it is said to have hypoalbuminemia. A protein formed in the liver and carried into the blood, albumin is responsible for regulating blood volume by controlling pressure in the blood compartment. It is also important for retaining fluid in the vascular compartment. Therefore, a deficiency of albumin can pose grave risks for a dog, including dangerous fluid buildup.

Hypoalbuminemia has not been found to occur at any particular age. Moreover, there are no apparent breed or gender predilections.

Symptoms and Types

Abdominal distentionDiarrhea and/or vomitingDifficulty breathingSwollen limbsGeneralized swelling



Chronic liver disease: chronic hepatitis; cirrhosisInadequate fluid or food intake – malnutrition/malassimilationAmyloidosis (insoluble proteins are deposited in organs)Glomerulonephritis (a primary or secondary immune-mediated renal disease)Lymphangiectasia (an intestinal disease of dogs)LymphomaSevere inflammatory bowel diseaseHistoplasmosis (fungal disease)Oozing sores on the skinChronic severe blood lossRepeated large volume of fluid in the abdomenInflammatory effusions:Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)Peritonitis (inflammation of the lining of the abdomen)Chylous effusions (milky bodily fluid consisting of lymph and emulsified fats flowing into cavities where it is not intended to be)Pyothorax (infection in the chest).Vasculopathies (diseases of the blood vessels)Immune mediatedInfectious: tick fever, infectious canine hepatitis, sepsis syndrome (infection of the entire body)


Because there are so many possible causes for this condition, your veterinarian will most likely use differential diagnosis. This process is guided by deeper inspection of the apparent outward symptoms, ruling out each of the more common causes until the correct disorder is settled upon and can be treated appropriately.

Before your veterinarian can determine an effective treatment plan, the underlying cause of the low albumin count in the blood stream will need to be conclusively identified. For example, if the cause is severe liver disease, your dog may have all of the symptoms listed. A complete blood analysis and urinalysis will help your doctor to zero in on the cause. Chest and abdominal X-rays may also be required, as well as ultrasound and liver and kidney biopsies. 


Your dog’s treatment will be dictated by the cause of the low albumin counts. Your dog may need to be hospitalized initially for treatment. If there is a fluid buildup in the chest, for instance, a chest tube may be inserted to relieve some of the buildup. Intravenous fluids may be required as well. Likewise, the type of medication prescribed will depend on the underlying cause of the albumin deficiency.

Your veterinarian may prescribe physical therapy to include walks in order to improve drainage of peripheral swelling. A specific diet will also be planned once your dog is able to eat normally again.

Living and Management

Your veterinarian will need to see your dog frequently in the early stages of treatment to monitor body weight and fluid buildup, and to take blood samples and monitor albumin concentrations. Making sure that the heart is functioning properly, and recovering from any stress that occurred as a result of the albumin disorder, is also essential.

Rabies in Dogs

What Is Rabies in Dogs?

Rabies is a viral disease that is fatal to almost all dogs who catch it. Fortunately, pet parents can help to prevent their dogs from becoming infected with the rabies virus with a canine rabies vaccine. 

The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system (CNS), spreading through the nerves from the infection site to the brain. Infected animals experience paralysis that inevitably involves the respiratory system, and leads to death.  

Rabies can affect any mammal, including humans. Animals that host and spread viruses like rabies are known as reservoirs for the disease. Possible hosts include skunks, weasels, and bats. Dogs and humans are moderately susceptible to all variants of the virus, and are not considered host reservoirs. 

Symptoms of Dog Rabies

The initial symptoms of rabies may come on gradually and be hard to detect. These symptoms include fever, as well as decreases in energy and appetite. After 2-4 days, rabies symptoms tend to progress quickly to include weakness or paralysis of the legs, seizures, difficulty breathing, hypersalivation due to difficulty swallowing, and abnormal behavior. Changes in behavior can range from extreme aggression to depression or coma. 

Classical rabies has two forms, furious and paralytic. Affected dogs may show signs of either or both forms. If the furious phase develops, dogs can become aggressive and occasionally delusional. They may seem to hallucinate and attack their surroundings with no trigger. The paralytic phase involves dogs starting to develop paralysis of various muscular systems. They often lose the ability to swallow, which leads to hypersalivation and foaming at the mouth—which some people consider to be a classic sign of rabies virus infection. 

Eventually, coma and death occur after paralysis or prolonged seizure activity. 

Causes of Rabies in Dogs

The most common way for a dog to become infected is through a bite from an infected animal, where the virus is transmitted by the saliva. Rarely, the saliva or nerve tissue of an infected animal can contaminate a dog’s open wound or the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth, leading to transmission of the virus without a bite occurring.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Rabies in Dogs

There is no way to definitively diagnose rabies in a living animal, so it is essential to observe the signs and accurately interpret symptoms. If a vet suspects rabies based on the dog’s symptoms, a diagnosis can be made by testing the brain tissue after the dog has died. The brain tissue is examined using a method called direct fluorescent antibody testing.

Treatment for Rabies in Dogs

There is no treatment for rabies in dogs, and humane euthanasia is recommended if the disease is strongly suspected.

Recovery and Management of Rabies in Dogs

Rabies is almost certainly fatal in dogs, and there is no hope of recovery or long-term management of the disease once a dog has been infected and has started to exhibit symptoms. For this reason, it is critical to keep your cat up to date on their rabies vaccine to ensure their health and safety should they become exposed to this disease.

Rabies in Dogs FAQs

How does a dog get rabies?

Rabies is most commonly spread by the bite of an infected animal or through the transfer of infected saliva into the open wound of a non-infected dog.

What should I do if my dog has been bitten by a rabid animal?

If you suspect your dog has been exposed to rabies, take them to an emergency vet immediately. Dogs that have been vaccinated against rabies can be revaccinated as a preventive measure.

How do you know if your dog has rabies?

Rabies will always be considered as a potential diagnosis if your dog has been exposed to an infected animal. This infection should also be suspected in dogs with sudden behavioral changes, neurologic symptoms (such as muscle weakness or paralysis), appetite changes, or respiratory symptoms, especially if other differential diseases can be ruled out. A definitive diagnosis of rabies can only be made after a dog has died.

How common is rabies in dogs?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that about 60-70 dogs in the United States are infected with rabies each year.

Does the rabies vaccine prevent a dog from getting rabies?

The rabies vaccine can prevent rabies infection. It is considered a core vaccine (one that all dogs should receive) and can be administered to a puppy starting at 14 weeks of age. A booster vaccine should then be given in 1 year, and every 1-3 years after.

Can a dog survive rabies?

No. Rabies should be considered 100% fatal in dogs. Dogs that are strongly suspected to have this disease should be humanely euthanized.

How long does rabies take to kill a dog?

Most dogs will die within 10 days of acquiring rabies.


Veterinary Information Network. Vincyclopedia. Rabies (Zoonotic).  

Greene CE. Rabies and Other Lyssavirus Infections. Infectious Diseases of the Dog and Cat. Elsevier; 2012:179-197. 

Weese JS, Fulford MB: Viral Diseases. Companion Animal Zoonoses. Wiley-Blackwell; 2011:257-268. 

Queensland Government. Rabies due to rabies virus.  

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Heather Newett, MPH, DVM


Heather is a practicing small animal veterinarian in Denver, CO. In her free time she enjoys hiking, horseback riding, and traveling to new…

Oral Masses in Dogs

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What Are Oral Masses in Dogs?

Oral masses are visible swellings within your dog’s mouth. It’s important to note that not all cases of oral masses are cancerous; in fact, the majority are benign.

As a pet parent, it is important to regularly inspect your dog’s mouth, as early treatment can give your dog a happier, longer, and fuller life. Semi-annual checkups are key to early diagnosis and treatment.

Types of Oral Masses in Dogs

Benign tumors in dogs include the following:

Peripheral odontogenic fibromas (POFs) are the most common oral masses in dogs. These tumors usually occur singularly, are not aggressive, and grow slowly. But they can become quite large.

Acanthomatous ameloblastomas are benign since they don’t metastasize, but they are highly aggressive locally and can invade the bone and displace local structures, like the teeth.

Odontomas are not as common as the others and usually arise from the same cells that form teeth. These tumors are slow to grow and are seen more often in younger dogs.

Types of malignant tumors include:

Melanoma is often pigmented and highly aggressive and has a high rate of metastasis, having already spread to the lungs and lymph nodes by the time of diagnosis. 

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) often appears red in color because of its inflammatory and ulcerative nature. It most often invades the underlying bone.

Fibrosarcoma is similar to SCC. These tumors are often locally aggressive but slow to metastasize.

Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer that is more common in the long bones than in the jaw. It acts aggressively and can metastasize to the lungs and other areas.

Other oral masses found inside your dog’s mouth may be related to poor dental hygiene. Periodontal disease causes inflammation and pain, often leading to gingival hyperplasia (excessive growth of the gums), which can often be mistaken for a mass. Dentigerous cysts can develop due to unerupted baby teeth, or oral papillomatosis, a virus transmitted from one (usually young) dog to another, which causes wartlike growths to form in the mouth.

Symptoms of Oral Masses in Dogs

Not all oral masses are cancerous. Fortunately, in dogs, most of the time, the mass is found to be benign. However, just because it doesn’t metastasize (spread) elsewhere in the body doesn’t mean it won’t cause your dog significant discomfort, or pain.

You may notice a mass inside your dog’s mouth that may be adjacent to a tooth, attached to the gum, inside of the lip, in the back of the throat, or even underneath the tongue. At times, the mass may become ulcerated (skin becomes inflamed and raw) or infected.

Other signs include:

Foul breath

Bleeding from the mouth or bloody saliva


Swollen face or facial asymmetry

Pawing or rubbing at the face or mouth

Jaw chattering

Resistance to opening or closing the jaw, or brushing the teeth

Difficulty eating, dropping food, and weight loss may be seen in advanced stages of the condition, when the tumor has grown excessively or become ulcerated or infected.

Causes of Oral Masses in Dogs

Most oral masses in dogs occur for reasons that are not well understood. Multiple factors have been associated with certain tumors, including:


UV damage (or other environmental triggers)

DNA mutations


Certain dog breeds are predisposed, including:




German Shepherd

Scottish Terrier


Other masses, such as papillomas, have been shown to be caused by the canine papillomavirus.


How Veterinarians Diagnose Oral Masses in Dogs

Visualization of the mass is the first step in diagnosis. From there, your veterinarian will often recommend a biopsy, where a core of tissue is obtained (sometimes, the entirety of the mass may be removed) and then submitted for histopathology, which will determine the type of growth along with the predictability of its behavior (i.e., rate of reoccurrence and metastatic potential).

Usually, because the biopsy is performed under anesthesia, a set of dental radiographs will be recommended and performed as well. Dental radiographs are helpful for determining the extent and bony involvement of the tumor, as malignant masses will often invade the underlying bone and/or displace surrounding tissues, like the teeth. Dental radiographs are also needed to determine the presence of cysts, which often displace other structures but do not invade the bone. 

Other tests that may be helpful for staging and treatment purposes include:

Blood work

Chest radiographs

Abdominal ultrasound

Aspirates/biopsies of the local lymph nodes


Treatment of Oral Masses in Dogs

Treatment is dependent on the tumor type, but for most oral masses in dogs, even those suffering from gingival hyperplasia, surgery is required. It is important that the mass itself is removed, along with enough surrounding tissue to prevent local reoccurrence of the mass. Sometimes this may include removing the tooth (or teeth) or even part of the jaw, often in cases of malignancy. 

Radiation therapy or chemotherapy can follow if margins are narrow or in cases where surgery might be risky, such as in dogs with comorbidities that would exclude them from undergoing surgery or those in which metastasis is significant. For some tumors, like melanoma, a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy might be needed for treatment. 

Cases of oral papillomatosis often don’t require therapy at all, as many cases will spontaneously resolve in a few months. Surgical removal, laser ablation therapy, or certain medications can cause regression as well.

Recovery and Management of Oral Masses in Dogs

Surgical removal of the mass in most cases will provide a good outcome—and for many, a cure. Dogs affected with malignant tumors can have a good prognosis even if the mass isn’t completely removed, as sometimes, just removal of the mass can provide comfort and minimize pain and infection. However, local recurrence of the mass will most likely occur, so continued vigilance for signs of regrowth is critical moving forward.

Your dog will often be discharged with pain medication, suggestions for a soft food diet, and instructions to not chew on toys while healing.

Unfortunately, melanoma carries the worst prognosis overall, as these are highly malignant and have usually already spread by the time of diagnosis. Most dogs will succumb to the disease within a year.

Prevention of Oral Masses in Dogs

Although oral masses are not entirely preventable, if your dog receives routine medical care and biannual exams, you can increase the odds that masses are caught early and treated appropriately. As a pet parent, you can do your due diligence by providing your dog with daily at-home dental care via regular brushing, dental chews, wipes, or sprays and gels. This is the most opportune time to inspect your dog’s mouth and look for any signs of inflammation or tumor formation.

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Michael Kearley, DVM


Dr. Michael Kearley graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. He graduated with a certificate in…

Blood Thickening in Dogs

Polycythemia Vera in Dogs

Polycythemia vera is a blood disorder that involves the thickening of the blood due to an overproduction of red blood cells by the bone marrow. It is primarily seen in older dogs.

Symptoms and Types

The following symptoms gradually appear but run a chronic course:

Weakness Depression Lack of appetite (anorexia) Redness of skin (erythema) Increased thirst and urination (polydipsia and polyuria)


Although the viscosity of the blood is due to an increased production of red blood cells by the bone marrow, the cause of this overproduction is currently unknown.


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination, as well a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC). Blood testing will typically reveal an increase in red blood cell mass, and in about 50 percent of dogs, an increased number of white blood cells (leukocytosis).

To assess the function of the kidneys and cardiopulmonary systems, your veterinarian will conduct X-rays and abdominal ultrasounds. Echocardiography, meanwhile, is used to evaluate the cardiac functions. He or she will also take a sample of bone marrow and send it to a veterinary pathologist for further examination.


Initially, the veterinarian will draw a fair amount of blood and replace it with intravenous fluids to decrease the blood’s viscosity. However, this is only for quick relief. Long-term therapy, for both animals and humans, involve using an antineoplastic drug called hydroxyurea, which suppresses the overproduction of red blood cells in the bone marrow.

Living and Management

During treatment, your veterinarian will need to see the dog for regular follow-up exams, especially when it is taking hydroxurea, as it may sometimes cause bone marrow suppression. In addition, follow the veterinary oncologist’s dosage recommendation when using on chemotherapy medications, such as hydroxurea, because these drugs are highly toxic.

Alaskan Malamute

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Alaskan Malamutes have a storied history of helping humans complete some of the world’s hardest jobs. Alaskan Malamutes first came to be alongside the native Mahlemut tribe in Alaska, according to the Alaskan Malamute Club of Belgium (AMCB), when the dogs were relied on to “hunt the seals, scare polar bears and to pull heavy loads.” 

Alaskan Malamutes were prized during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896, according to The Alaskan Malamute Assistance League, because of their hardworking nature and reliability to haul sleds. Today, pet parents cherish their Malamutes for their ample energy and smarts—regardless of whether or not they plan to head to the Alaskan wilderness. 

Caring for an Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamutes are dedicated companions that require quite a bit of attention. They need lots of exercise to be happy—remember, their ancestors pulled sleds for generations! And while most pet parents can’t provide a sled, a daily run with their human or alongside a bike helps keep these energetic dogs satisfied. 

Alaskan Malamutes are known to be spunky and talk back with “awoos” that can make you feel like you’re arguing with a child. They are brilliant dogs that are unafraid to use their wile to get what they want—which can range from a snack on top of the counter to escaping the yard for an unsupervised stroll around the neighborhood. 

Along with ample attention and exercise, Alaskan Malamutes need near-constant brushing and care for their robust coats.

Alaskan Malamute Health Issues

Alaskan Malamutes are generally healthy dogs with a lifespan of 10-14 years, but the breed does have a few common health concerns. Pet parents might want to consider buying pet insurance before bringing home an Alaskan Malamute puppy.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Large dogs such as Alaskan Malamutes commonly experience hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia. Both conditions happen when the hip or elbow joint develops abnormally, causing pain and arthritis if left untreated. Signs of dysplasia include limping, trouble standing, and unusual sitting positions. Mild cases can be managed with pain medication, but more severe cases can require surgery. 


Cataracts are a vision disorder that causes gradual loss of sight. This can be caused from aging and other factors, like eye inflammation or low blood calcium levels. Once diagnosed, the condition will worsen unless the cataracts are surgically removed.


Alaskan Malamutes are susceptible to hypothyroidism, a condition where a dog’s body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Signs of hypothyroidism include weight gain despite no changes in diet or exercise, lethargy, heat-seeking behavior, dry and brittle hair, and increased skin and ear infections. If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your veterinarian.


Chondrodysplasia is a genetic disorder where Alaskan Malamute puppies are born with limb deformities, producing “dwarf puppies,” according to the Alaskan Malamute Club of America (AMCA). Responsible Alaskan Malamute breeders must test their dogs before breeding them to ensure the puppies won’t be born with this genetic condition.


According to the AMCA, polyneuropathy is a disorder that affects many aspects of the nervous system and has been reported in Alaskan Malamutes. Signs may include:

Frequent falling

Walking on the tops of the feet

Abnormal gait

Exercise intolerance

Loss of muscle mass

Changes in voice

There is no cure or treatment for Alaskan Malamutes with polyneuropathy, but dogs with mild cases can live relatively normal lives. More severe cases may be cause for euthanasia. 

What To Feed an Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamutes need to be fed a dog food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to receive a complete and balanced diet. 

How To Feed an Alaskan Malamute  

Adult Alaskan Malamutes should be fed two meals a day, while puppies are fed three meals per day. According to the Texas Alaskan Malamute Rescue (TAMR), these pups should never be “free-fed,” as they will wolf down every scrap of food in their bowl until they’re stuffed—and obese. A slow feeder bowl can help these hungry dogs pace themselves while eating. 

How Much Should You Feed an Alaskan Malamute?

How much you should feed your specific Alaskan Malamute depends on the dog’s age, size, exercise level, and many other factors. The bag of dog food will give you recommendations on how much to feed your Malamute, but the best way to determine your dog’s portions is to ask your veterinarian. 

Nutritional Tips for Alaskan Malamutes

Alaskan Malamutes’ food should include supplements for joint, eye, and coat health. Supplements rich in fatty acids with omega-3s and vitamin C can also help keep your Malamute healthy.

Behavior and Training Tips for Alaskan Malamutes

Alaskan Malamute Personality and Temperament

Life with Malamutes can be remarkably rewarding, though it can also be challenging if you don’t know what to expect. They are gregarious and “happiest when treated as an intelligent partner,” according to the Polaris Alaskan Malamute Rescue. Alaskan Malamutes love their human pack, and when they are well-trained with positive reinforcement, they can be excellent companions for families.

That said, Alaskan Malamutes might be too much for young children because of their large size and high energy. Interactions between children and all dogs, no matter the breed, should always be supervised to make sure nobody is accidentally knocked over or injured.

Pet parents need to socialize their Alaskan Malamute puppy early, so they get along with other pets and learn that smaller animals are not something to chase, as Malamutes can have a high prey drive. 

Alaskan Malamute Behavior

According to Alaskan Malamute Rescue of New England, “a tired malamute is a happy malamute!” This breed needs a lot of exercise, whether that be running, pulling a sled through the snow, or skijoring (a combination of cross-country skiing and dog sledding). If they don’t get enough exercise, they might find other ways to entertain themselves—like chewing up your couch.

Once they get their fill of exercise, Alaskan Malamutes make delightful couch companions and crave affection from their favorite people. They are curious pups and love being the center of attention at home.

Alaskan Malamutes will definitely let you know if they’re bored, have lots of pent-up energy, or are unhappy. They are a highly vocal breed and aren’t shy about using their loud voice to get what they want. 

Alaskan Malamute Training

Alaskan Malamutes are intelligent and thrive when trained with positive reinforcement. Though, they can be too smart for their own good—Alaskan Malamutes may hear and understand a command, but refuse to follow it if they don’t see the point. The TAMR describes them as having “selective hearing,” so pet parents need to have patience during training sessions.

Fun Activities for Alaskan Malamute







Pulling sleds 

Alaskan Malamute Grooming Guide

Alaskan Malamutes are beautiful dogs with luscious coats designed to keep them warm in frigid conditions. But that fluff comes with responsibility, and it requires regular brushing.

Skin Care

Caring for an Alaskan Malamute’s skin starts with the coat. These dogs have a thick double coat that needs daily brushing, which will remove any dirt and debris, prevent excess shedding, and spread oils to moisturize the skin, according to the AMCA. 

Coat Care

Along with daily maintenance with a slicker brush, Alaskan Malamutes need a bath every 6-8 weeks. This helps keep their coat healthy, smelling fresh, and free from matting. Frequent brushing can also help keep an Alaskan Malamute’s shedding under control, which can be overwhelming as hair clings to your couch, carpet, and clothes.

Eye Care

The AMCA recommends checking Alaskan Malamutes’ eyes daily for debris that can build up in the corners. Wiping them with a wet cloth or paper towel stops bacteria from causing problems. 

Ear Care

Pet parents should check their Alaskan Malamute’s ears once a week to make sure they’re free from infection. Healthy ears should be pink and free from any buildup. The AMCA recommends using disposable ear wipes to keep your pup’s ears clean. 

Considerations for Pet Parents

Alaskan Malamutes won’t do well in homes where they are left alone all day. They need attention, mental stimulation, and regular intense exercise to be satisfied. And it’s not just activity—Alaskan Malamutes need hands-on training and daily grooming. If you’re willing to put in the work, these active dogs made great companions. 

Alaskan Malamute FAQs

How big do Alaskan Malamutes get?

Alaskan Malamutes typically grow to stand between 23-25 inches tall and weigh 75-85 pounds.

Are Alaskan Malamutes good pets?

Alaskan Malamutes make fantastic pets as long as they have plenty of exercise, training, and stimulation.

Do Alaskan Malamutes bark a lot?

Alaskan Malamutes tend to be very vocal, but keeping them well-exercised will help keep the “awoos” to a minimum.

What’s the difference between Alaskan Malamutes vs. Huskies?

Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies look similar and both come from Northern regions, but the two breeds differ in some significant ways. For one, Alaskan Malamutes, at 23-25 inches tall and up to 85 pounds, are larger than Huskies, who stand 20-23.5 inches tall. Huskies are also more adaptable to warmer climates, while Alaskan Malamutes can have trouble in hot weather because of their thick coat.

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Zack Newman

Botulism in Dogs

What Is Botulism in Dogs?

Botulism is a rare but potentially fatal illness caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Dogs become affected by eating decomposing animal carcasses or spoiled vegetation where the bacterium grows. Once eaten and absorbed from the stomach and intestines, the toxin attacks the body’s nerves, resulting in weakness (paresis), and eventually the inability to move (paralysis). This can progress quickly to breathing difficulties or even eventual death, if left untreated.  

Botulism is considered a medical emergency and can be deadly without prompt treatment. If you believe your pet is experiencing any of the signs of botulism, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

Symptoms of Botulism in Dogs

Clinical signs of botulism may develop within a few hours but can be delayed up to six days. Signs can vary based on the amount of toxin consumed, but the earlier the signs appear, the more serious the disease. Clinical signs of botulism include:


Progressive, symmetrical, ascending weakness that begins in the rear limbs. This is a classic hallmark sign of botulism in dogs. It means weakness that began in the back legs has moved up the body to the front legs, and then to the head and neck. As this occurs, you may see these additional symptoms:

Inability to walk

Inability to hold up the neck and head

Facial paralysis including decreased jaw tone, decreased ability to chew or swallow, and drooling or hypersalivation

Urinary retention (unable to pee) and constipation (unable to poop)

Difficulty breathing

Paralysis of all four limbs (quadriplegia)

Despite being paralyzed, affected dogs are mentally normal, and can still sense their environment and feel pain.

If left untreated, most pets die of botulism due to respiratory distress as the muscles used for breathing, such as the diaphragm, becomes paralyzed and the dog is unable to breathe. However, the paralysis can affect other organs, such as the heart—which can also be fatal. If your pet is experiencing any of the above clinical signs of botulism, contact a veterinarian immediately.  

Causes of Botulism in Dogs

Botulism is caused by the botulinum toxin, which is produced by the bacteria C. botulinum. There are seven subtypes of C. botulinum (A, B, C, D, E, F, and G). All of them have the same effect on the nervous system. Subtypes A, B, E, and F are associated with botulism in humans while most cases in dogs are caused by subtype C.

Once a dog consumes the toxin, it is absorbed in the stomach and intestines and carried in the bloodstream to the nerves. Nerves in the body are used to signal muscles to contract. Botulinum toxin blocks this process so that the muscles are unable to contract, creating muscle weakness and paralysis.

The diaphragm muscle is the muscle separating the abdomen and thorax. Its contraction plays a major role in breathing. Luckily, it is more resistant than other muscles in the body to the botulinum toxin, but once affected, a dog cannot breathe and, without therapy, will die.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Botulism in Dogs

Botulism in dogs can be very hard to diagnose because it is very rare, and the paralysis can mimic other diseases such as tick paralysis, intervertebral disc disease, degenerative myelopathy, toxins, myasthenia gravis, nerve and muscle disease. It is very important to share any history of possible exposure to carcasses, dead animals, rotting vegetation, or raw meat with your veterinarian.

Your veterinarian will start with a thorough physical examination to assess weakness, spinal reflexes, pain, and fever. They will also perform a complete orthopedic and neurologic examination.

Current tests to diagnose botulism involve highly specialized laboratory testing to detect the botulinum toxin in blood, feces, vomit, or in the ingested material. However, these tests are neither timely nor accurate enough to typically establish a diagnosis in time to be useful. Therefore, the diagnosis is typically made based on the history, clinical signs, while ruling out other illnesses with similar signs.

A complete blood count, serum blood chemistry, and urinalysis will likely be recommended for a baseline evaluation, and to help rule out other causes of paralysis. An X-ray may be taken to assess for signs of pneumonia or changes in the esophagus (megaesophagus) commonly seen with botulism.

Treatment of Botulism in Dogs

While there is an antitoxin for botulism, it is not readily available in veterinary hospitals and must be given before the toxin reaches the nerve endings and causes clinical signs. Once a pet develops signs of paralysis, the antitoxin is not effective.

Treatment of botulism in dogs is mainly supportive care. This supportive care can be time-consuming and expensive as it will require hospitalization, likely in an intensive care unit (ICU). Mildly affected dogs may be able to continue to eat and drink on their own with assistance, while more severely affected dogs will likely need IV fluids (to keep them hydrated) and feeding tubes.

Care must be taken to provide sufficient bedding/padding and rotation of positioning to prevent an unmoving patient from developing bed sores. Urinary care must also be tended to either by keeping the patient clean and dry or, if the dog loses the ability to urinate, providing manual bladder expression or urinary catheter care. Antibiotics and supportive medications, including medications for eye lubrication, pain, nausea, or diarrhea may also be given.

If the paralysis continues to progress and affects the diaphragm, dogs may lose the ability to breathe on their own and require manual ventilation with a ventilator.

Recovery and Management of Botulism in Dogs

The botulinum toxin does not damage the nerves, but rather blocks the signals to the muscles to contract. Since there is no nerve damage, supportive care often results in complete recovery. However, clinical signs of botulism often last for two-to-three weeks, and pets may need intense supportive care the entire time.

Prevention of Botulism in Dogs

Prevention is key to protect dogs from botulism. Never let your dog ingest raw meat, dead animals, or spoiled vegetation. It is best to keep a close eye on them when outside or in wooded areas. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against botulism for dogs.


Botulism in Dogs FAQs

What are the signs of botulism in a dog?

The hallmark sign of botulism in dogs is a progressive, symmetrical, ascending weakness, which means the pet becomes weak in the rear legs and that weakness moves up the body, affecting the front legs, head, and neck. If untreated, the weakness will likely progress to paralysis of all four legs.

Can a dog survive botulism?

If untreated, botulism can result in paralysis of not only the limbs but also the muscles responsible for breathing. This can lead to asphyxiation and death. However, with aggressive treatment, pets can survive botulism and go on to make a complete recovery.

How would a dog get botulism?

The main way dogs get botulism is by eating decaying animal carcasses or rotting vegetation that contain the bacterium C. botulinum. This bacterium produces the deadly botulinum toxin.

How soon do botulism symptoms appear in dogs?

In most cases, clinical signs of botulism appear within the first few hours of eating the toxin, but signs can be delayed up to six days.

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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…


The Keeshond is a handsome, fluffy-looking dog with an intelligent expression and a fox-like face. It has a lion-like ruff and thickly-coated rear end, forming characteristic “trousers.”

Physical Characteristics

This sturdy and square-proportioned dog of Northern type is an all-rounder and its build reflects this quality. The dog’s brisk, clean, and bold gait is distinctive, with a moderate drive and reach.

The long, harsh, and straight outer coat of the Keeshond, which is a mixture of gray, black, and cream, stands off its body. Its thick downy undercoat and mane, meanwhile, impart good insulation from damp and cold.

Personality and Temperament

The Keeshond makes a very good companion for both adults and children. It is affable to all and an alert watchdog. Loving, attentive, playful, sensitive, energetic, easy-going, adventurous, and a fast learner, the Keeshond has many qualities of the best house dogs.


Although the Keeshond can survive outdoors in cool or temperate climates, it is a very sociable dog that prefers to live indoors with its human family. As it is a lively breed, moderate exercise, such as a brisk on-leash walk or a vigorous game session, is sufficient for meeting its needs. The dog’s double coat, meanwhile, requires brushing occasionally every week and more during the shedding seasons.


The Keeshond, which has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, may be prone to minor ailments like canine hip dysplasia (CHD), patellar luxation, epilepsy, and various skin problems. Sometimes renal cortical hypoplasia, Tetralogy of Fallot, and mitral valve insufficiency are seen in the breed. To identify some of these issues early, a veterinarian may recommend regular hip, knee, and cardiac tests for the dog.

History and Background

Belonging to the spitz group of dogs, the exact origin of the Keeshond has not been recorded. However, in the 18th Century, the dog functioned as a watchdog and companion in Holland. Later, the breed was called the barge dog, as it was frequently kept on small boats on the Rhine River to function as a watchdog. Fatefully, the Keeshond became involved in a political uprising in Holland, prior to the French Revolution. Cornelis (Kees) de Gyselaer, the leader of the Dutch rebellion, owned a barge dog that came to be known as Kees. The dog would be seen in so many political caricatures at the time, that it became an icon of the Dutch patriot.

Sadly for this breed, the Patriots did not succeed, causing numerous Keeshond owners to discard their dogs for fear that they would be identified as losers. Even worse for the breed, as barges on the Rhine became larger, the need for the Keeshond diminished. With the efforts of some farmers and river boatmen, the breed survived but with a poor profile.

Baroness van Hardenbroek initiated an effort to save the breed in 1920 and, within five years, she managed to win several English promoters for the Keeshond. In 1930, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed; today it is Holland’s national dog.

Can Dogs Eat Broccoli?

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, adult dogs can eat broccoli. It’s not toxic to dogs and contains health benefits, so it’s safe in small portions.

Puppies have different dietary needs than adult dogs, and their digestive systems aren’t as developed. The high fiber content in broccoli could cause problems for puppies, so it’s best to avoid feeding them broccoli. 

Whether you want to give broccoli to your adult dog as a snack, or if they ate some when your back was turned, here are some safe feeding portions, health benefits, and concerns about dogs eating too much broccoli. 

Is Broccoli Good for Dogs?

Broccoli is not just safe for dogs to eat; it contains many health benefits and nutrients for your dog, just like it does for you. In fact, some dog foods even contain broccoli. It is full of fiber, antioxidants, and digestible plant protein, and it provides vitamins and minerals like:

Vitamin C

Vitamin K

Folic Acid





Although broccoli provides a lot of great health benefits, your dog cannot rely on broccoli alone for their vitamins and minerals. Additionally, you should be careful not to feed your dog too much broccoli because it can cause intestinal upset.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Broccoli?

Yes, dogs can eat raw broccoli florets. If you make sure to wash them first, then cut them into small, edible pieces, they are safe and nutritious. In fact, eating broccoli raw or steamed is the best way to keep the most nutrients in the broccoli. 

Can Dogs Eat Cooked or Steamed Broccoli?

Dogs can also safely eat cooked and steamed broccoli. If you steam broccoli for just a few minutes, it will retain more nutrients than if you cook it. But either way, it’s safe for your dog to eat. 

Just make sure that it’s not too hot so they don’t burn their tongues. And be sure to only feed your pup plain broccoli. That means no butter, oils, or seasonings. Not only are these added ingredients unhealthy for your dog, but certain seasonings like garlic and onion are toxic to dogs. 

Can Dogs Eat Broccoli Stems?

Broccoli stems are not toxic for dogs, but they aren’t the best part of the broccoli to feed to your dog. The stems could become a choking hazard or cause an intestinal blockage. If you do feed stem pieces to your dog, make sure they are cut up into very small, easily edible pieces. 

If your dog seems to be choking, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Can Dogs Be Allergic to Broccoli?

Dogs can develop allergies from repeated exposure to a food. Food allergies in dogs usually cause skin issues, rashes, and ear infections. If this is the first time you’re feeding your dog broccoli, you could see signs of food intolerance, which is different from an allergy. Signs of food intolerance include vomiting or diarrhea.

Does Broccoli Make Dogs Fart?

If you’ve wondered whether broccoli can make a dog fart, the answer is yes! Not only does broccoli contain a high amount of fiber—which can cause an upset stomach and intestinal gas—but the broccoli florets also contain isothiocyanate.

This organic compound is thought to help prevent cancer. But it can also cause gastric irritation in dogs—which can also cause your pup to pass gas. 

And although broccoli contains plant protein that dogs can digest, too much protein can also cause flatulence. 

How Much Broccoli Can Dogs Eat?

If you’re wondering how much broccoli is okay to feed your dog, check out our chart below. And remember—everything in moderation. That means that even healthy treats like broccoli should only make up 10% of your dog’s diet. The other 90% should come from a well-balanced dog food diet. 

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

Extra-small dog (2–20 pounds) = one to two pieces (½-inch wide by ¼-inch thick)

          Examples: Yorkies, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Pugs

Small dog (21–30 pounds) = three to four pieces of broccoli (1-inch wide by ¼-inch thick)

          Examples: Basenjis, Beagles, Miniature Australian Shepherds

Medium dog (31–50 pounds) = five to six pieces of broccoli (1-inch wide by ¼-inch thick)

          Examples: Basset Hounds, Border Collies, Australian Cattle Dogs

Large dog (51–90 pounds) = handful of broccoli pieces (1-inch wide by ¼-inch thick)

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

Extra-large dog (91+ pounds) = large handful of broccoli pieces (1-inch wide by ¼-inch thick)

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

If your dog ate some broccoli when you weren’t watching, or you accidentally fed them too much, keep an eye out for the following symptoms of an upset stomach. If you do notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away. 

Decreased appetite or loss of appetite


Acting depressed

Looking uncomfortable

Gulping or licking their lips, the air, or objects


Excessive diarrhea

Blood in their vomit or stool



How to Feed Your Dog Broccoli

Ready to feed your pup some broccoli as a treat? Wash the broccoli thoroughly, cut it into small, edible pieces, and remove the stems to avoid any choking hazards. 


Raw pieces of broccoli are the easiest and quickest way to share them with your dog while preserving the nutrients.


Steamed broccoli takes just a few minutes, but this method also helps maintain the highest nutrient levels. Do not add other ingredients or seasonings. 


Cooking broccoli takes a little longer and may take strip away some of the natural nutrients, but it’s still very healthy! Don’t add extra ingredients or seasonings to cooked broccoli either. 


If you’re feeling fancy, you could blend together a little bit of broccoli with some dog-safe fruits like blueberries and bananas, plus a scoop of completely plain, sugar-free, xylitol-free yogurt. You can add this on top of your dog’s food, or even freeze it in your dog’s KONG toy as a cold treat for later. 

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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…

Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs

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What Is Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs?

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) is a slow onset, non-painful destruction of the nerve conduction portion of the spinal cord, called axons and myelin. Axons are the nerve fibers that extend from the nerve cell and myelin is the coating around the nerve fiber that allows for conduction of nerve signals. Both the thoracic (upper and middle back) and lumbar (lower back) parts of the spinal cord are affected. 

As the disease progresses, a dog will develop weakness and an abnormal gait in the hind limbs. Usually, the condition is worse on one side of the spinal cord than the other, so clinical signs may be worse on one side of the body compared to the other side. With time, the disease causes paralysis of the hind limbs. The entire spinal cord can eventually become affected—causing forelimb paralysis and problems with breathing, vocalizing, and eating.

Typically, about one year after the first symptoms are seen, a dog is unable to walk on their hind limbs.

Which breeds are predisposed to Degenerative Myelopathy?

The German Shepherd is the most common breed affected by DM, but it can also be seen in other large breed dogs, such as:

Labrador Retrievers


Bernese Mountain Dogs

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Siberian Huskies

Degenerative myelopathy can also be seen in some smaller breeds, such as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Pug, and Miniature Poodle. Affected dogs are most commonly middle-aged or older.

Symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs

A dog with DM will initially become weak in the hind limbs and have a hard time getting up. They will lose feeling in the hind limbs, which results in dragging of the paws, scuffing of the toenails and/or tops of the paws, and abnormal paw placement. Affected dogs will be wobbly and may knuckle over the paws, cross the hind limbs, or stumble while walking. 

With progression of the condition, a severely affected dog will lose the ability to stand on or move the hind limbs. If able to stand on the hind limbs, a patient’s legs may shake due to weakness. In the later stage of the disease, a patient may have problems with fecal and urinary incontinence. Muscle wasting will be noted in the hind limbs, due to the dog not using them.

Eventually, the disease will progress to involve the forelimbs and brainstem—rendering a dog fully paralyzed and developing problems with breathing and eating/drinking. 

Causes of Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs

A genetic component to the disease has been identified. Dogs that have two copies of a mutated superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD 1) gene are at increased risk for development for DM.  However, a dog with two mutated SOD 1 genes will not necessarily go on to develop DM, which indicates there are other factors involved in the development of the disease that are unknown at this time.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs

A diagnosis of DM is made by excluding other spinal cord diseases based on exam findings and imaging. Your vet will evaluate your dog for spinal and joint pain and also perform a neurologic evaluation. Based on the physical exam findings, your vet will develop a list of likely causes for your dog’s clinical signs. Your vet may recommend that you meet with a board-certified veterinary neurologist. 

Radiographs (x-rays) may be recommended to evaluate the bones of the spine and hips. One can look for evidence of arthritis, misalignment of the spine (subluxation/luxation), bone cancer (neoplasia), lumbosacral spondylosis, or something else.  However, the spinal cord is not visible on x-rays.

A neurologist will likely recommend advanced imaging, such as a myelogram, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate the spinal cord.  These imaging tools can look for compression of the spinal cord, as with intervertebral disc disease, spinal cord cancer (neoplasia), or inflammation. 

Is there a test for DM in dogs? 

Unfortunately, the only test that results in a certain diagnosis of DM is biopsy of spinal cord tissue, which can only be collected after a dog has died. 

A genetic test is available to check for the presence of the SOD 1 mutation to determine if a pet is normal (no copies of the mutated gene), a carrier (one normal copy and one mutated copy of the gene), or has two copies of the mutated gene.

 A dog with two copies is at increased risk but may never develop DM.  The genetic test is used to screen for at-risk dogs and those used in breeding programs. A dog that is a carrier for the SOD 1 mutation is at risk for development of degenerative myelopathy, but not at as great a risk as a dog that has two.

Stages of Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs

The degree of neurological impairment from DM is divided into four clinical stages.

Stage 1: The dog is able to walk but is showing signs of decreased sensation and weakness in the hind limbs. Pup has difficulty rising from a lying position, there is knuckling of the paws, dragging of the feet/wear on the toenails, and stumbling/crisscrossing of the hind limbs. 

Stage 2: The patient is unable to walk on the hind limbs. They are severely weak in the hind limbs and may/may not be able to stand on hind limbs. 

Stage 3:  The patient has paralysis of the hind limbs and weakness involving the front limbs. Hind limb muscles atrophy due to no use of muscles. Atrophy is the process by which a muscle loses mass and tone.  This occurs when the muscle is not being used.  Fecal and urinary incontinence and a change in bark or other vocalizations may be noted. 

Stage 4: The patient is completely paralyzed in all four limbs, has muscle atrophy affecting the entire body, has fecal and urinary incontinence, change in vocalization, difficulty swallowing food/water, and difficulty breathing. 

Your veterinarian will monitor your dog’s progression with DM with the staging system.  The length of time between stages varies, depending on the dog. Usually, a large dog will need to be euthanized before a smaller dog with similar signs, because larger dogs are more difficult to care for during this stage of the disease.

Treatment of Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs

There is no cure for DM—only supportive care.

Physical therapy in the form of water therapy, walking with a supportive harness/sling, and range of motion exercises can be helpful in decreasing muscle mass loss. Your primary veterinarian or neurologist can direct you to rehabilitation centers near you. Dogs that receive physical therapy can typically keep walking longer than those who do not.   

Massages can also be helpful in enhancing flow of blood through the muscles and can work out tense areas. 

Recovery and Management of Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs

For dogs that are unable to walk, care is needed to keep them clean from feces and urine. Puppy pads or other absorbent pads can be placed under the patient to absorb accidents and make clean-up easier. A patient that cannot get up will need to be turned every couple of hours to help decrease the risk of bed sores. Memory foam bedding and comforters provide good padding between the ground and the patient. Other padding can be placed under the head and between the limbs to ensure the dog is comfortable.

Canine carts or dog wheelchairs may be helpful in maintaining mobility longer. Dogs that are mentally frustrated with not being able to get up and move on their own could benefit from the increased freedom a cart can provide.  The cart, however, needs to be used only when a patient can be monitored.  A dog should not be left alone in a cart, as this increases the risk for injury. 

Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs FAQs

How long can a dog live with DM?

Typically, a patient with degenerative myelopathy will progress within 6-18 months from when symptoms are first noted to when quality of life becomes a concern and euthanasia is considered.

Is DM painful?

Degenerative myelopathy is a non-painful condition. 


Coates J. Clinical Trials on Canine Degenerative Myelopathy. Veterinary Information Network, 2016.

Dewey C. “Chapter 10: Myelopathies: Disorders of the Spinal Cord.” A Practical Guide to Canine and Feline Neurology, 2nd edition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2008. pp. 344-345.

Nelson R,  Couto C. “Chapter 67: Disorders of the Spinal Cord.” Small Animal Internal Medicine, 5th edition, Mosby, 2009. pp. 1066-1067. 

Shell L, Kube S. Myelopathy, Degenerative (Canine). Veterinary Information Network, 2011. 

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Heidi Kos-Barber, DVM


I am a small animal general practitioner in western Washington. The clinic I have worked at for the past 14 years sees a variety of…