Archive : March

Why Dogs Pee When Excited or Scared

If you have an older dog that suddenly begins urinating inappropriately (or cannot seem to hold their pee), make an appointment with your veterinarian, as there could be a medical cause.

Have you ever been greeted by your hyper dog when you get home, and then noticed a puddle of pee by your shoes? Or perhaps your new puppy flopped onto their back to greet your friend, and then peed a little on their own fur and your clean rug.

This could be excitement peeing or submissive peeing. Both are common in dogs, but what separates the two are your dog’s state of mind and their emotional triggers.

Some dogs pee because they are excited and submissive at the same time. For example, a dog that excitedly pees when their pet parent comes home may also submissively urinate if they are sternly reprimanded or overcorrected for the initial excitement pee.

So how do you know which one you’re dealing with?

Here’s what you need to know about why dogs pee when you wish they wouldn’t.

Why Does My Dog Pee When Excited?

Excitement peeing is most often found in happy, hyper, young dogs that may not have full bladder control. Dogs frequently outgrow this form of peeing as they mature and emotionally calm down.

It can become worse if your dog is suddenly awakened or startled, and then gets very animated (such as when you come home while they’re taking a nap).

Signs of Excited Peeing in Dogs

Dogs peeing when excited won’t necessarily squat or lift their leg like usual. They often pee while walking, standing, or even bouncing up and down. You can tell that your dog is excited if they are holding their tail higher than normal, wagging their entire body and tail side to side, holding their head up, or whining and/or barking.

How to Stop a Dog from Peeing When Excited

There are three main keys to controlling excitement peeing:

Frequent walks

Helping your dog relax

Treating the excitability

Take Frequent Walks

Taking your dog for frequent walks will encourage your dog to pee in the great outdoors rather than in your living room. If they have an empty bladder, they have less urine to release when they become too excited.

Beginning at the age of four months, a dog can usually hold their bladder 1 hour for every month of age, plus 1. So, a 6-month-old pup should be able to hold their bladder for up to 7 hours (6 months old + 1 = 7 hours). But some dogs may need to go out more often than that, and that’s perfectly okay. You will want to take your dog out more frequently than this to reduce the excitement pee also.

Teach Your Dog How to Relax

The second key is to teach your dog how to relax. Not all dogs have the instinct or desire to relax on their own and may need some help from their humans. For dogs that have a hard time settling down, they can be taught how to relax with short, daily training sessions.

One good program is Dr. Karen Overall’s Protocol for Relaxation from her book Clinical Behavioral Medicine For Small Animals. This is a 15-day positive reinforcement training program that trains dogs to relax quietly while experiencing different activities and noises.

Having your dog perform a behavior that is directly incompatible to excitement behavior can also help. An example would be to have your dog lie down with their head/neck extended. This helps move your dog out of the excited mindset and into a more relaxed, task-driven mentality.

Don’t Interact With Your Dog When They Are Excited

The third key is to not interact with your dog during situations that trigger excited pee. First, make sure your dog is capable of holding their bladder and has been fully house-trained.

When your dog becomes too stimulated, simply stand quietly while turning away from your dog, and wait for them to settle down. Greet them after they are calm. If your dog starts getting excited, turn away again and let them settle down.

Treating the excitability is crucial to treating excitement peeing. Reducing your dog’s energy level with consistent, daily exercise and daily mental stimulation can also help decrease excitement peeing. A tired won’t have enough energy to get excited enough to pee on your floor.

Activities such as playing catch, doing agility training, jumping hurdles, or running with you are great ways to get out some of that excitable energy.

While it is understandable that you might get angry or be frustrated by frequent excited peeing, do NOT use punishment to try to correct the issue of excitement peeing. Pet parents used to be told that it was a good idea to rub the dog’s face in the pee or poop to teach them that peeing or pooping inside is a bad behavior. This is an outdated and incorrect training method.

Any punishment will only make the situation worse by adding a submissive or fear component to your dog’s inappropriate peeing. It may even cause damage to your bond with your dog. A better solution is to use positive reinforcement to not only help correct the situation, but also to strengthen your bond with your dog at the same time.

Submissive Urination in Dogs

While most dogs outgrow emotional peeing, submissive peeing can be found in dogs of all ages. It’s more common among young female dogs, puppies, dogs that have been repeatedly (and often harshly) corrected, and dogs that have been kept in a dependent situation (in a shelter or kennel).

This type of peeing often occurs when some event causes the dog to give a submissive signal as they urinate a small amount. Submissive signals can vary greatly depending on your dog and their personality.

Signs of Submissive Urination in Dogs

Some common submissive signals include sitting, hanging their head down or to the side, exposing their groin, or full-fledged groveling. This is when a dog pees (and possibly drools) as they lie flat on their back, with their tail tucked and front legs pulled tightly into their body.

A typical situation where submissive peeing occurs is when a dog is approached by a stranger, and they lie down and pee a small amount. Another classic situation is when someone moves their arm toward the dog, who will then look down, back away, and pee a tiny bit.

Of course, no one wants their best four-legged friend cowering away from them. It’s important to note that this is a show of submission to a person or situation the dog considers to be dominant. It is not necessarily a sign the dog has been beaten or abused.

How to Stop Submissive Peeing in Dogs

You will need to change your behavior and also train your dog to become desensitized to triggers.

Change How You Approach Your Dog

For pet parents and other humans, this means not leaning over your dog, making direct eye contact, reaching toward your dog (especially over their head), hugging them, or approaching them head-on.

Instead, sit on the ground to make yourself appear smaller. Look to the side or at the dog’s hip to avoid direct eye contact, and allow them to approach you. Entice them with treats, and if they do approach, and pet them gently under the chin, not on the top of their head.

Desensitize Your Dog to Certain Triggers

The next step is to desensitize your dog to movements that trigger submissive peeing. First, you’ll need to identify the situations that trigger your dog. Then in those situations, start making smaller movements and rewarding your dog for not peeing.

For example, if your dog pees when you reach for their collar, begin by moving your hand a few inches away from your body and rewarding them for not reacting. Once your dog calmly accepts small movements, gradually progress to larger ones.

Continue rewarding your dog when they don’t react or pee in response to the movements. Over time, you can work up to being able to touch and handle your dog’s collar without a drop of pee on the floor.

Another method to discourage submissive peeing is to have your dog wear a canine diaper while you work on the desensitizing. The diaper will make getting into the submissive squat more difficult.

Do not use negative reinforcement such as spanking, yelling, or rubbing their nose in it, as this will make the submissive peeing worse. If training fails to correct submissive peeing and your dog is submissive in all social settings, you talk with your veterinarian about using a mild anti-anxiety medication.

Why Does My Dog Pee When I Pet Them?

If your dog urinates when you reach to pet them, you most likely have triggered a submissive pee. Submissive dogs are trying to send the distress message, “Please don’t harm me; I’m no threat.”

Submissive dogs need gentle encouragement and a calm environment. It takes time, patience, and a lot of positive bonding and engagement to help submissive peeing dogs stop this behavior.

Try to avoid actions that trigger submissive peeing. Allowing your dog to come to you for petting and interaction will greatly decrease submissive peeing. You can also try the desensitizing method.

Calm, slow movements give your dog time to process what is happening, read your body language to make sure you’re not a threat, and react in a way that feels comfortable.

Environment management is also key. One common trigger for submissive peeing might be when strangers approach your dog.

If this happens in your house, try asking visitors to ignore your dog until they approach on their own. Another option is to keep your dog contained in an area where there is a barrier (a crate or a baby gate) that allows them to see the stranger but also feel safe in their own area or den.

If you are out on a walk and a stranger asks to pet your dog, simply decline politely, and tell them your dog is in training and needs to be focusing on you right now.

Why Does My Dog Pee When I Come Home?

If you come home to an exuberant pup, is this a sign of separation anxiety? Most likely not.

Separation anxiety is a mental disorder where dogs will go to the bathroom indoors, destroy things, and/or vocalize when left alone. It is a complex condition with many causes, but the underlying emotion for separation anxiety in dogs is unease and displeasure. Just peeing when you come home is not enough to indicate separation anxiety.

A dog’s world revolves mainly around their family group, be it other dogs or their human family. Their enthusiasm for your return home is most likely because they are happy to see you.

Whether due to excitement or submission, you’re not alone dealing with inappropriate peeing. Management of both excitement and submissive peeing takes time and patience. If the peeing continues despite your best efforts, consider working with a qualified behavior professional.

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Megan Keller, DVM


Dr. Megan Keller attended North Dakota State University/NDSU in Fargo, North Dakota to earn a Bachelor in Animal Sciences. During these…

How to Protect Your Pet From Toxic Blue-Green Algae

Reviewed for accuracy on August 27, 2019, by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM

It’s a terrifying headline that keeps popping up lately: Harmful algal bloom kills beloved pet.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website, harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been reported in every coastal US state.

Blue-green algae spottings are on the rise; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that it’s a major problem in all 50 states.

Here’s what you need to know about harmful algal blooms and how you can keep your pets safe.

What Are Blue-Green Algae?  

Blue-green algae are not actually algae at all—they’re a type of bacteria called cyanobacteria.

Cyanobacteria are a group of microorganisms that can be found in any aquatic environment as well as many locations on land. These microorganisms occur naturally, and they make oxygen and help cycle nutrients in the environment and food chain.

However, there are several species of cyanobacteria that produce very potent toxins called cyanotoxins.

What Makes Blue-Green Algae Toxic to Pets?

These cyanotoxins include toxins that affect different parts of the body—for example, neurotoxins (brain), hepatotoxins (liver) and dermatologic toxins (skin)—and some can cause serious and even fatal illness for humans and pets.

Cyanotoxins are more commonly fatal for our pets because they are more likely to swim and drink from potentially contaminated water sources. People, on the other hand, would be less likely to jump into or drink water from a water source that has a bad smell or a visible algal bloom.

What Causes Algal Blooms?

An algal bloom is a rapid increase in a population of algae within an aquatic environment.

Harmful algal blooms consisting of blue-green algae tend to appear in nutrient-dense waters under warmer environmental temperatures (most commonly seen during mid- to late-summer months).

Recent studies suggest that environmental changes have played a large role in the surge in number of algal blooms seen across the US.

According to a 2013 study, “Mounting evidence indicates that global climate change, watershed degradation and increased nutrient loading of freshwater systems are contributing to the increased frequency, severity, extent and broader geographic distribution of harmful algal blooms (HABs), including cyanobacteria HABs (cyanoHABs).”

How Can I Protect My Pet From Harmful Algal Blooms?

The best way to protect your dog from exposure to harmful algal blooms is to never let them swim in or drink from lakes, ponds, and other potentially contaminated bodies of water, especially if they have visible algal blooms or a bad odor.

The EPA’s page on pets and toxic algae says not to let your dog swim or drink if:

The color of the water is off. (HABs can be bright green, blue, brown or even red, and can sometimes look like paint floating on top of the water.)The water looks like it has a slimy film or foam on the surface.It has a pungent, off-putting smell.

Reporting and Tracking Harmful Algal Blooms

If you suspect that a pond, lake or water source is contaminated with blue-green algae, you should report it to your state’s health department.

The EPA provides a list of resources for reporting potential HABs for each state. By reporting these instances, you can not only help prevent other people and pets from exposure, but you can also help researchers to understand, track and prevent these blooms.

You can also check your state health department or environmental protection department to see if they have an online tracking system set up.

For example, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has an Algal Bloom Sampling Status tool that provides a map with testing results for various bodies of water. They also provide a way to report a potential algal bloom so that the water can be tested.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation also has a HABs Location Map that displays reported and confirmed HABs within the State of New York.

Signs That Your Dog Has Been Exposed to Blue-Green Algae Toxins

Symptoms associated with exposure to harmful algal blooms vary depending on the type of cyanobacteria involved and the toxins they produce.

Hepatotoxin-Producing Cyanobacteria

For example, exposure to a hepatotoxin-producing cyanobacteria can lead to:

VomitingDiarrheaBlood in the stool or black, tarry stoolPale mucous membranesJaundice

Neurotoxin-Producing Cyanobacteria

On the other hand, symptoms associated with neurotoxin-producing cyanobacteria typically include:

DisorientationWeaknessMuscle twitches and tremorsSLUD (excessive salivation, lacrimation (tearing), urination, and defecation)Difficulty breathingSeizuresHeart failureParalysis

Exposure to Harmful Algal Blooms

Exposure to HABs can lead to death. However, hepatotoxins tend to work a little more slowly—and, therefore, respond better to treatment—while neurotoxins can act so quickly that dogs can’t get to the veterinarian in time to be saved.

What to Do If Your Dog Has Been Exposed

If you suspect that your dog has come into contact with water containing blue-green algae, wash them off immediately using clean water. If your dog has ingested water containing blue-green algae, get to the nearest veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, there are currently no antidotes for the toxins.

As long as a dog is not neurologically impaired, it may be possible for the veterinarian to induce vomiting and/or give medications like activated charcoal or cholestyramine to prevent absorption of more toxin.

Subsequent veterinary care and the dog’s prognosis will depend on the type of cyanotoxin a dog has had contact with and the severity of their symptoms.

With appropriate and timely treatment, some (but unfortunately not all) dogs that have been exposed to blue-green algae can be saved.

By: Kendall Curley

Featured Image: Bukatsich

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, affectionately known as “Chessies,” are powerful dogs that allegedly trace their roots to an English shipwreck in the early 1800s. This state dog of Maryland was bred to help their humans hunt ducks and other birds along the iconic body of water for which the breed is named. 

These smart pups have a gorgeous coat and stand 21–26 inches tall, weighing 55–80 pounds.

Caring for a Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are high-energy working dogs best suited for long days hunting waterfowl near iced-over bodies of water. They are relatively low-maintenance outside of needing regular brushing, but pet parents should be dedicated to providing constant exercise and stimulation. 

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Health Issues

Chesapeake dogs are generally healthy, but they do have a few health concerns. Many of the more serious conditions can be identified through genetic testing of both your Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy and their dog parents.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)

Chessies are at a special risk for gastric torsion because of their deep and narrow chests. This happens when a dog’s stomach bloats, twists, and cuts off blood to the stomach and spleen. 

GDV is a medical emergency and can kill a pet in as little as 30 minutes if left untreated. If you have a deep-chested dog like the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, stay alert for signs of bloat, which include: 





Distended stomach

Stretching the body in a “downward dog” or “praying mantis” position

Again, if these symptoms are present, take your pet to the vet immediately.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia stems from the loosening of the hip joints, which can cause immense pain and eventually lead to arthritis. Warning signs can include an inability to get in and out of cars, limping, and lameness. Hip dysplasia can be managed with medication and joint supplements, but surgery may be recommended in severe cases.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA causes cells in the eyes to eventually disintegrate, usually starting around ages 8–9 in Chesapeake Bay dogs, according to the Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club (CBRC). It eventually leads to blindness, and there is no cure.

If you notice early warning signs, such as your dog’s inability to see in low light or at night, take them to the vet for a checkup. 


Another eye issue Chessies can develop is cataracts. While cataracts can develop as part of PRA, they can also occur outside of that degenerative condition. Cataracts also commonly occur in diabetic dogs.

Cataracts are when the eye becomes cloudy, leading to vision loss. But unlike PRA, cataracts can be cured with surgery.

Exercise-Induced Collapse

While elevating their heart rate, some dogs can suddenly experience muscle weakness and wobbly hind legs. This neuromuscular condition can cause Chessies to collapse, according to the CBRC, but most dogs usually recover fully in 15–30 minutes. If your dog experiences an episode of collapse, they should be seen by their veterinarian for an exam as soon as possible.

What To Feed a Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Like all dogs, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers need to eat dog food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This ensures they are getting a well-balanced, nutritious diet. 

How To Feed a Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppies should eat at least three times a day on a consistent schedule. Once they reach adulthood, Chessies can cut down their mealtimes to twice a day. 

Because Chesapeake dogs have a risk of GDV, follow these tips to prevent this life-threatening condition:

Avoid using raised food bowls

Feed your dog multiple meals a day instead of one big meal

Introduce a slow feeder bowl if your dog is eating too quickly

Do not let your dog exercise directly before or after eating

How Much Should You Feed a Chesapeake Bay Retriever?

The amount of food your dog needs depends on their size, lifestyle, and health history. While the dog food packaging can provide guidance on portions, talking with your vet about how much to feed your dog is best.

Monitor your Chesapeake dog’s weight. If they are gaining weight and still quite active, food intake should be reduced to ward off obesity.  

Nutritional Tips for Chesapeake Bay Retrievers 

Chessies may benefit from supplements to help with joint pain such as hip dysplasia. Glucosamine helps protect joint cartilage. Fish oils, known as omega-3s, can assist with coat health, too. 

Check with your veterinarian for what supplements (if any) would be best for your dog. 

Behavior and Training Tips for Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Personality and Temperament

Chesapeake Bay dogs are high-energy and spunky. These pups are known to be independent thinkers that view themselves as an equal part of the family. They are loyal, often following you from room to room, and are extremely affectionate. With proper introductions and socialization, Chessies would be a great addition to a family. But remember: Interactions between kids and all dogs, Chessie or not, should be supervised. 

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Behavior

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have a bright and cheerful disposition, according to the Chesapeake Bay Retriever Relief & Rescue. They tend to be quite goofy and have earned the moniker “Brown Clown.” 

Chessies thrive when they have a job to do. In fact, they’re often used on jobs within drug enforcement agencies, hospitals, and nursing homes. While putting your Chessie on a job would help keep them happy, a job isn’t necessary as long as you stick to a robust exercise plan and keep your pup mentally stimulated.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Training

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are smart dogs who need to be kept stimulated and busy. If they’re bored, they can become destructive. A good way to keep your pup busy is through training. 

These dogs need consistent positive reinforcement training. Because they’re so smart, they’re quick to pick up basic cues and thrive when learning special skills, like how to seek out waterfowl in frigid water. If you’re looking for a hunting dog, the Chessie is a great option.

Fun Activities for Chesapeake Bay Retrievers





Dock diving


Chesapeake Bay Retriever Grooming Guide

The Chessie’s nearly waterproof coat requires regular brushing, especially near the spring when they shed more frequently. But overall, Chesapeake Bay dogs are hardy pups, and most of their issues can be tackled with routine basic care. 

Skin Care

The Chessie’s skin needs its natural oils to be healthy and water-resistant. These dogs only need to be bathed every couple of months—or when they’ve spent a lot of time outside and are starting to smell.

Coat Care

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have a unique coat that is thick and water-resistant. The wavy outer coat conceals a dense, wooly undercoat within. They need to be brushed weekly, and a slicker brush is a go-to for smoothing matted fur. 

Eye Care

Because the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is prone to PRA and cataracts, the CBRC recommends regular eye screenings. Reputable breeders will do genetic testing on their puppies, but if you get your dog from a Chesapeake Bay Retriever rescue, you may need to have a genetic screening done for them. 

Ear Care

Chessies need their ears cleaned routinely, especially if they are doing what they are bred to do—swim constantly! If their ears aren’t kept clean and dry, debris can cause ear infections. Warning signs of an infection include lots of head shaking, odor, or frequently touching their ears. 

Considerations for Pet Parents

A perfect home for a Chesapeake Bay Retriever is dedicated to fitness, training, and keeping busy. A Chessie would flourish somewhere they can consistently swim or run with their humans, which would help take the edge off their bountiful energy. While they thrive as hunting dogs, they don’t need to be in a family of hunters as long as there are plenty of other things to do.

And while they have some required grooming like any other dog, Chessies are relatively low-maintenance pups. 

Chesapeake Bay Retriever FAQs

Are Chesapeake Bay Retrievers good house dogs?

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are loyal companions and an excellent addition to an active family. They are good house dogs, but will become destructive and mischievous if they’re not stimulated properly or if they’re left alone for too long. 

What dogs were bred to make a Chesapeake Bay Retriever?

Chessies can trace their roots to the now-extinct St. John’s Newfoundland dogs, Irish Water Spaniels, English Otter Hounds, Coon dogs, and Bloodhounds, according to Susan Elnicki Wade, author of A Tale of Two Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. 

What’s the difference between a Lab and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever?

While the two retrievers share similarities, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers differ in many ways. Chessies aren’t as happy-go-lucky as Labs, who will love everyone they meet. Labs are more beginner-friendly, while Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are better suited for more experienced dog parents. 

What are the colors of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever?

Chesapeake Bay Retriever colors vary from tans to browns. Officially, they can be “deadgrass,” “dark deadgrass,” brown, tan, sedge, “light deadgrass,” light brown, and dark brown. 

Featured Image: iStock/ktatarka

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Zack Newman

Diarrhea Due to Clostridium perfringens in Dogs

Clostridial Enterotoxicosis in Dogs

Clostridial enterotoxicosis is an intestinal syndrome brought on by abnormally high levels of Clostridium perfringens bacterium, a bacteria found commonly inhabiting decaying vegetation and marine sediment. It can also be acquired from raw or improperly cooked meats and poultry, and meats that have been left out in the open. There is also evidence that dogs can acquire this infection from being with other dogs, such as when boarded at a kennel.

Generally, the implications of the clostridial enterotoxicosis are limited to infections of the intestinal tract and do not progress to systemic disease conditions. Symptoms typically last a week in acute cases and include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. Long-term (chronic) cases of clostridial enterotoxicosis, meanwhile, involve recurrences of diarrhea, which may repeat every two to four weeks, and may continue for months to years. In fact, clostridial enterotoxicosis in dogs is suspected to occur in up to 20 percent of large bowel diarrhea cases.

Although it is more common in dogs as opposed to cats — perhaps because dog spend more time amongst vegetation, or eating found meat (such as in refuse) — most animals have antibodies that will effectively fight the bacteria and clear it from the body.

Symptoms and Types

Diarrhea with shiny mucus on its surfaceSmall amounts of fresh blood in diarrheaSmall, meager stoolsMay have large volume of watery stoolsStraining to defecateIncreased frequency of defecationVomiting (on occasion)Abdominal discomfort – characterized by standing with lowered front and raised back end, or curling up to cover abdomen, resistant to being touched in abdominal areaAbnormal amount of flatulence (i.e, passing gas)Fever (uncommon)


Clostridial enterotoxicosis is caused by an overgrowth of the bacteria Clostridium perfringens in the intestine. Often, the bacteria is acquired from the environment (e.g., flora) or as the result of eating raw, undercooked, or old meat. Other risk factors include:

Dietary changesAbnormally high pH level in the intestineDeficiency of antibodiesExposure to other dogs at a hospital or kennelStress to the digestive system due to concurrent disease (e.g., parvovirus, gastroenteritis, and inflammatory bowel disease)


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated/preceded this condition, such as time spent outdoors, rummaging through garbage or getting hold of old or uncooked meat, or being boarded at a kennel.

Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical exam on your dog as well as standard blood work, including a complete blood count, chemical blood profile, and urinalysis. Most of these tests will return normal. Because this infection has obvious intestinal symptoms, a fecal sample will need to be taken for microscopic analysis.

This intestinal disease is sometimes difficult to identify because there is no one good test for it. Often, false positive results will return as the result of interfering substances in the feces. Your veterinarian may also want to use an endoscope to visualize the interior of your dog’s intestines, and possibly take a tissue sample.



Treatment is generally simple, with outpatient care provided until your dog has recovered from the infection. In some cases, when diarrhea and/or vomiting has been severe and the animal has become dehydrated and low in electrolytes, fluid therapy will need to be administered.

Your veterinarian may prescribe a week’s worth of oral antibiotics if the Clostridium perfringens toxin is found. Dogs that are being treated for long-term cases of diarrhea may need to be given antibiotics for a longer period of time.

Dietary management is also helpful in the treatment of this condition. High-fiber diets and diets formulated with prebiotic and probiotic ingredients (like lactobacillus) can help to balance and maintain the intestinal flora of the gastrointestinal tract.

Living and Management

This disease is treated and managed in long-term cases by switching your pet to a high in fiber diet, which reduces Clostridium perfringens and enterotoxin production in the intestinal tract. Your veterinarian might also recommend that you supplement your dog’s high-fiber diet with psyllium, a soluble source of fiber. Prebiotic and probiotic diets might also be recommended by your veterinarian in order to try to maintain the normal balance of good bacteria in your dog’s intestine.

Fortunately, dogs with good immune response will generally fight off the infection easily.

Toy Poodle

The Toy Poodle is one of the smartest dog breeds—as well as one of the most entertaining. Although she stands no more than 10 inches tall and weighs between 4–6 pounds, the Toy Poodle has a big, playful personality that can fill up a room.

While frequently associated with France, Standard Poodles were first developed in Germany, where they were used in duck hunting. Toy and Miniature Poodles have been bred down from the larger Standard Poodle, according to The Poodle Club of America.

Caring for a Toy Poodle

Toy Poodles aren’t just adorable; they make wonderful family pets. They’re exceptionally intelligent and eager to please, making them easy to train. They have lower exercise needs than many other dog breeds, but still benefit from a daily walk and play session.

Poodles of all sizes have curly coats with extensive grooming needs. Their coat grows continuously, calling for a trim every four to six weeks. Toy Poodles also don’t shed much, so they can be a smart choice for some people with allergies. However, there is no such thing as a completely “hypoallergenic” dog. People with allergies should spend time with the breed before officially bringing home a Toy Poodle puppy.

Toy Poodle Health Issues

The typical Toy Poodle lifespan is 10–18 years, and they’re a healthy breed overall. But during this long life, they are predisposed to a few health issues that may require care. Pet parents may benefit from investing in pet insurance early in life. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a group of diseases that cause a breakdown of the photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) on the retina. Initially, the dog may have difficulty seeing in the dark, but the condition can cause blindness over time. PRA is an inherited disease and there are currently no effective treatments available.

Patellar Luxation

The patella (kneecap) is a small bone that normally sits in a groove within the femur at the knee. In dogs with patellar luxation, the patella moves (luxates) outside of its assigned groove when the knee is flexed. This movement can cause discomfort and may eventually lead to arthritis. 

Many pets will skip or run on three legs when the patella is out of place. While some cases will correct themselves, in more severe cases the patella remains out of place. In mild cases, joint supplements (such as fish oils and glucosamine) or anti-inflammatory medications are used to control pain and prevent arthritis. In more severely affected dogs, surgery may be recommended.


Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease is a condition in which the head of the femur breaks down, likely secondary to lack of blood supply. This causes pain and limping occur as the bone breaks down. Legg-Calvé-Perthes occurs in young dogs, mostly in Toy Poodle puppies less than 18 months old. In some cases, pain can be controlled with medications. In severe cases, surgery to remove the head of the femur may be recommended.

Ear Infections

Ear infections in dogs occur when there’s an overgrowth of the yeast and/or bacteria that naturally lives within the ear. Symptoms include visible debris, redness, odor, head shaking, and scratching. If any of these signs are noted, take your dog to the veterinarian for an exam. In most cases, ear infections can be resolved by cleaning the ear and with topical medications.

Toy Poodles develop ear infections more often than most other breeds. This may be partly due to Poodles having long ear canals with excess curly hair to trap in moisture and debris. Trimming (not plucking) the hair from the ear may help reduce the incidence of ear infections. Dogs with chronic or recurring ear infections frequently have allergies that should be addressed.

Dental Disease

Dental disease is one of the most common conditions seen in dogs as they age, especially in small breeds like the Toy Poodle. Dental disease occurs when bacterial tartar and plaque build up, leading to inflammation of the tissues around the teeth—and eventually to tooth and bone decay. Daily tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste is the best way to prevent dental disease, though some diets, treats, and chew toys also help prevent plaque and tartar.

Routine dental cleanings are recommended to evaluate your dog’s mouth, remove plaque and tartar, polish the teeth, and treat or extract teeth that are significantly unhealthy. Dental disease can be a painful condition and may even affect the health of your Toy Poodle’s internal organs.

Tracheal Collapse

Tracheal collapse occurs when the trachea (commonly called the windpipe) flattens. This happens due to weak cartilage rings or the sagging of a membrane along the trachea. Symptoms include a dry cough, which can worsen when your Toy Poodle eats or when she’s excited. Most cases are treated using medications, but in severe cases where breathing is impeded, surgery may be necessary.

Toy poodles are likely genetically predisposed to tracheal collapse. To prevent and manage this condition, it’s important to keep your dog at a healthy weight. When on walks, use a harness instead of a collar, as pressure on the trachea can cause further damage.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

Von Willebrand’s Disease (VWD) is a genetic blood disorder often seen in Toy Poodles. The condition causes a deficiency in a protein called the von Willebrand factor, which is necessary for platelets to stick together and form a clot. In dogs that are deficient in this protein, the blood may have difficulty clotting, which can lead to bleeding from the nose, vulva, bladder, or gums. Additionally, dogs with this condition may bleed for a long time after trauma or surgery. 

If there is concern about VWD, a screening test may be performed. This test measures how long it takes for a small cut in the mouth to stop bleeding. If the time is longer than usual, additional testing is needed to confirm VWD.  

Because some dogs with VWD do not have notably prolonged bleeding until later in adulthood, blood levels of von Willebrand factor can be measured to help with diagnosis. Most veterinarians recommend testing for VWD prior to any planned surgery, including spays, neuters, and dewclaw removals. 

What To Feed a Toy Poodle

Feeding a commercial kibble or wet food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a good way to ensure that your Toy Poodle receives a complete and balanced diet. 

Puppies should be fed a diet formulated specifically for puppies or designated for all life stages. For Toy Poodle adults, dental-focused diets may be recommended by your veterinarian to help prevent dental disease.

How To Feed a Toy Poodle

Since Toy Poodles are small dogs, they will do well with two to three feedings per day. Toy poodle puppies, however, should eat three to four small meals per day on a consistent schedule to help maintain their blood sugar.

How Much Should You Feed a Toy Poodle?

The recommended caloric intake for a Toy Poodle varies from dog to dog and depends on your pup’s physical size, metabolism, neuter status, and activity level. The best way to determine the feeding quantity is to talk with your veterinarian, who can calculate your Toy Poodle’s caloric needs.

Additionally, the feeding guide labels on the dog food provides valuable information for pet parents. Just remember: In small breeds like the Toy Poodle, calories in treats add up quickly.

Nutritional Tips for Toy Poodles

The toy poodle may benefit from omega-3 fatty acids (DHA/EPA) added to their diets. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in skin and joint supplements, fish oil, and even in some specially formulated dog foods. These fatty acids act as natural anti-inflammatories that help support the skin, coat, kidneys, joints, and heart.

Behavior and Training Tips for Toy Poodles

Toy Poodle Personality and Temperament

As a breed, Toy Poodles are exceptionally intelligent and eager to please their family. They are playful and self-confident when socialized at a young age. While relatively calm, Toy Poodles enjoy playtime and exercise with the family. The breed is gentle with children and other pets, though all interactions between dogs and kids should be supervised. Because these pups are so tiny, they can accidentally be hurt during playtime.

Toy Poodles have lower exercise needs than many other dog breeds, but still benefit from a daily walk and play session.

Toy Poodle Behavior

Toy Poodles bond closely to their families and may develop separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods. They can also be sensitive to stress, and sudden changes in the home environment may lead to gastrointestinal upset.

Additionally, because Poodles are so smart, they need mental stimulation to keep themselves entertained—and out of trouble. Bored dogs are more likely to bark, jump, be destructive, or misbehave.

Toy Poodle Training

Toy poodles want to please their owners. Paired with their smarts, this makes them an easy breed to train. As always, training is most successful when based on positive reinforcement with praise and tasty treats. But make sure you’re not overfeeding them with treat rewards!

Fun Activities for Toy Poodle

Obedience training

Nose work/tracking

Enrichment puzzles


Toy Poodle Grooming Guide

Poodles have hair (rather than fur) that grows throughout life and sheds very little. But that hair is dense and mats easily, requiring routine care.

Skin Care

Poodles should be bathed every two to four weeks. But know that bathing your dog more frequently than twice a month may strip their skin of healthy oils that act as a barrier against allergens. A gentle, dog-specific shampoo and conditioner works well on their curls.

Coat Care

Unless your Toy Poodle’s coat is groomed very short, it’s important to brush hair daily to prevent matting. The hair needs to be detangled all the way to the roots.

Originally, poodles were groomed with the classic Continental clip for hunting. This style limited the amount of heavy hair that had to be carried, while still protecting important parts of the body from cold weather and water. This Poodle haircut is less common in house pets today, as the short “puppy cut” requires less home care.

No matter what haircut your Toy Poodle has, most need to be professionally groomed every four to six weeks.

Eye Care

Wiping your Poodle’s eyes daily with a soft, moist cloth will help remove debris. Some poodles are prone to heavy tear staining around the eyes, but rinsing the corners of the eyes daily with saline can help prevent this.

Hair around your Toy Poodle’s eye should be carefully trimmed to keep it from causing any irritation. If squinting or eye discharge is noted, take a trip to the veterinarian for an exam, as these can be signs of more serious eye conditions.

Ear Care

Toy Poodles often develop ear infections. To prevent these, clean your dog’s ears every week or two and keep the ear hairs trimmed (not plucked). If redness, odor, or debris is noted, an infection may be present and you should consult your veterinarian.

Considerations for Pet Parents 

Toy Poodles make wonderful pets for nearly any family—as long as you dedicate time and money to grooming. They are extremely intelligent and eager to please, which makes them easy (and fun!) to train with treats and praise. Their intelligence also means they require a lot of mental stimulation via activities like scent walks, puzzle toys, and obedience training. When socialized early in life, most Toy Poodles are gentle with children and pets.

Toy Poodle FAQs

Are Toy Poodles good pets?

Toy Poodles are exceptional pets due to their impressive intelligence and good nature. They are relatively easy to train and do well with small children, if socialized early.

How much is a Toy Poodle?

Purchasing a Toy Poodle puppy from a breeder can cost between $1,200–$3,000. Dogs of certain lineage may cost more. Poodles and poodle mixes can also be found in rescues and shelters.

How big does a Toy Poodle get?

The toy poodle typically is no more than 10 inches tall and weighs between 4–6 pounds.

What is the difference between Standard Poodles, Miniature Poodles, and Toy Poodles?

The main difference between the three poodles is size:

Standard Poodles are over 15 inches tall and weigh 40–70 pounds.

Miniature Poodles are 10–15 inches tall and weigh 10–15 pounds.

Toy Poodles are no more than 10 inches tall and weigh only 4–6 pounds.

Featured Image: iStock/servando Juvera

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Virginia LaMon, DVM


Dr. Virginia LaMon graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. She completed her clinical year at Auburn…

Why Do Certain Sounds Scare Dogs?

Updated and reviewed for accuracy on July 24, 2019, by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM

Does your dog jump at the sound of thunder or start shaking every time you turn the vacuum on or hide during fireworks? He might be suffering from noise phobia.

A poorly understood condition, noise phobia can actually develop in dogs of all ages, although dogs over a year of age are more likely to suffer from it, according to Kristen Collins, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) and the director of the ASPCA’s rehab center, which specializes in treating fearful and under-socialized dogs.

“Some dogs simply seem more sensitive and susceptible to developing a fear of noises, and this susceptibility may indicate a genetic predisposition toward the problem,” Collins explains.

Other dogs learn to fear certain sounds. “A dog who isn’t initially afraid of a sound can become fearful when an unpleasant event is linked with that noise,” Collins adds.

What Dog Noise Phobia Really Is (and Isn’t)

Although they might all sound the same, fear, anxiety and phobia are actually quite different.

Fear in Dogs 

“Fear is a physiologic, emotional and behavioral response to animate or inanimate things that pose a threat of harm,” explains Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, DACVB, and clinical instructor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, where she’s part of the Animal Behavior Clinic.

Fear is a normal reaction because it enables animals to respond to situations that could be potentially dangerous.

Anxiety in Dogs

Anxiety, on the other hand, is what Dr. Borns-Weil defines as a persistent fear or apprehension of something that is not present or imminent. Essentially, anxiety is a fear of what might happen in the future.

Phobias in Dogs

And finally, there are phobias: extreme, persistent fears of a stimulus, such as a thunderstorm, that are entirely out of proportion to the level of threat it poses. 

“Noise phobia is an extreme, persistent fear of auditory stimuli that is out of proportion to the real danger, if any, associated with the noise,” says Dr. Borns-Weil.

“There is no survival advantage conferred on an animal that panics in response to things that are not truly threatening or dangerous,” she explains.

Noise Phobia vs. Thunderstorm Phobia 

Although thunderstorms are also a common type of canine phobia, Dr. Borns-Weil says it’s important to understand the difference between noise phobia and thunderstorm phobia.

“Storm phobia is multisensory,” Dr. Borns-Weil says. “While it certainly includes very loud noise produced by thunder, other aspects of the storm (flashes of lightning, heavy wind, rain battering the roof, changes in air pressure, etc.) may be either independent fear triggers or become anxiety-inducing predictors of impending thunder.”

Thunderstorm phobia and other noise phobias may co-occur, but they also occur separately, Dr. Borns-Weil adds. 

Sounds That Trigger Noise Phobia in Dogs 

Fireworks, gunshots and vacuum cleaners are common causes of noise phobia, according to Dr. Borns-Weil. “Dogs may also become phobic of fire alarms and even cooking because they associate it with accidental triggering of the alarm,” Dr. Borns-Weil adds.

There are also less common fear triggers, such as crying babies, people sneezing and/or coughing, snow sliding off the roof, and even the clicking of the furnace when it turns on, according to Dr. Borns-Weil.

“I also meet dogs that are fearful of electronic tones,” Dr. Borns-Weil says. “Dogs that have been trained using electronic collars that give a beep before emitting a painful electric shock may become generally fearful of electronic tones, including message alerts on cell phones.”

What Causes Dogs to Develop Phobias of Certain Sounds? 

Trying to understand what caused the phobia to develop can be tricky. For example, lack of socialization is often behind the issue.

“Puppies that have insufficient exposure to a variety of normal stimuli during their first four months of life are at higher risk of being overly fearful as adults,” according to Dr. Borns-Weil.

Older dogs can also develop phobias following an exposure to an extremely frightening situation. “Recently, I saw a dog that was extremely frightened of the sound of wind after having been in a home when it was hit by a tornado,” says Dr. Borns-Weil.

And here’s something you might not have expected to hear: Your dog’s noise phobia could be related to his health. “Any illness, pain or itching may lower a dog’s threshold for anxiety and fearfulness,” according to Dr. Borns-Weil.

Symptoms and Behaviors Associated With Noise Phobias

The symptoms of noise phobia are usually extreme. A dog who’s experiencing a phobia episode is panicking, so he’ll pace, pant, tremble and hypersalivate.

“Frightened dogs may cower, ears flat against their skulls, eyes wide, muscles tensed and tails tucked,” explains Collins. “Some dogs become restless and move around anxiously with no apparent purpose, while others become immobile, shutting down and unable to move.”

Some fearful dogs cling to their owners, seeking comfort, while others prefer to hunker down on their own, away from people and preferably somewhere dark and quiet.

“I knew one very friendly, loving dog who feared the sound of thunder and only seemed comforted by lying down on a dog bed, alone in a bathtub, until the sound stopped,” Collins says.  

It’s also not uncommon for dogs with noise phobia to engage in destructive behavior like chewing, digging, scratching and tearing up objects in the home.

“At worst, noise phobias can trigger frantic attempts to escape,” says Collins. “Panicked dogs may scratch and dig frantically at doors or even jump out of windows.”

How to Help a Dog With Noise Phobia

For discrete sounds such as the vacuum cleaner, Dr. Borns-Weil says systematic desensitization and counterconditioning can be a very effective treatment.

Desensitization and Counterconditioning

“It involves the presentation of the frightening sound at a gradually increasing intensity, always making sure to stay below the threshold of intensity that would cause a fear response,” Dr. Borns-Weil explains. “The presentation of the sound is paired with a high-value reward such as food, play or petting.”

Play the recording of the sound at a low volume and give your dog treats. Increase the volume over several training sessions, always keeping an eye on your dog’s body language to make sure he’s not upset by the noise.

However, desensitization and counterconditioning don’t work well for certain noise phobias, such as thunderstorm phobia, since storms are multisensory.

“A dog may be desensitized to the sound of thunder with the help of a recording but still will be nervous about the sound of wind, the flashes of light, the rain, the pressure change, the static electricity in the air,” Dr. Borns-Weil says.

Creating a Sense of Safety

For thunderstorm phobia, she says a dog can be taught to go to a “safe place” in the home. Or you can try using sights and sounds—white noise, relaxing music, light blocking shades—to shut out the storm as much as possible. Dog anxiety vests can also be helpful.

Medications and Supplements

There are also natural calming agents which can help some pets, says Dr. Grzyb. VetriScience Composure dog chews, Rescue Remedy and Adaptil collars are options that have worked for some dogs.

Finally, if all else fails, the use of medications, such as sedatives, can be helpful in severely affected pets. For example, Sileo, a medication that is absorbed through the gums, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in dogs who are fearful of loud noises.

What Not to Do When Your Dog Is Scared 

Anything else you can do? It depends on your dog. If you have a dog who approaches you for company and comfort when scared, don’t ignore him, and never punish him.

Don’t Ignore Your Dog

“In fact, ignoring and avoiding him may make him feel confused and more fearful,” Dr. Borns-Weil says. So let your boy sit on your lap if that makes him feel better, but keep in mind that providing comfort will not address the underlying problem.

You’ll still have to work on helping your dog overcome his fear.

Never Punish a Scared Dog

Whatever you do, never punish or reprimand your dog for being scared.

“Punishing a dog for destructiveness, barking or soiling that is done out of panic will only increase anxiety and make the problem worse,” Dr. Borns-Weil says.  

There are many other options if desensitization and counterconditioning are not helping a pet, says Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM. She recommends using cotton balls or rolled gauze sponges to place in the ear canals, which can lessen the noise during storms and fireworks displays. Just make certain to remove them after the inciting event. 

Nugget: A Case Study of Desensitization and Counterconditioning

A dog named Nugget became extremely anxious when she heard any large vehicle pass by on the street outside her house. “She and her mom had recently relocated to a busier part of town, so the sounds were new to her,” says Collins. “To help with this, I asked her to buy a CD with traffic noises.”

From then on, Nugget’s mom would play the CD at a very low volume. “Then she gave Nugget a frozen KONG toy, stuffed full of boiled chicken bits and other tasty things that Nugget never got at any other time.” Collins explains.

After a few sessions, Nugget would notice the quiet traffic sounds when her mom turned on the CD and start looking excited, knowing that her goodie was coming next,” says Collins.

By the time Nugget’s mom started to increase the volume of the CD, Nugget was already doing much better and was able to deal with the sound. 

By: Diana Bocco

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Hematoma on Dogs

Canine Hematoma/Seroma

A hematoma is defined as a localized collection of blood outside the blood vessels. A seroma is similar except that the fluid accumulation contains only serum without red blood cells being present.

Hematomas and seromas can occur anywhere in the body. Subdermal hematomas/seromas form under the skin and are probably the most commonly type of hematoma or seroma. However, hematomas and seromas can also occur within the head or brain, within other organs of the body and even on the ear (i.e., aural hematoma).

Hematomas/seromas can occur in both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn how they affect cats, please visit this page in the petMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms will depend on the location of the hematoma or seroma.

Subdermal hematomas and seromas will result in a fluctuant swelling under the skin.Hematomas or seromas in the head/brain can cause a variety of symptoms, including coma, seizures and other neurological abnormalities.Hematomas and seromas in other organs may be asymptomatic or may cause failure or dysfunction of the organ involved.


Trauma is the most common cause of hematomas and seromas. Other causes include blood clotting abnormalities which lead to excessive bleeding.


Diagnosis of a hematoma or seroma depends on the location as well. Subdermal hematomas and seromas can generally be diagnosed by physical examination coupled with evaluation of fluid withdrawn from the lesion. Hematomas and seromas in internal organs or in the brain/head may require special imaging (X-ray, ultrasound, MRI or CT scan) for diagnosis.


If small, the hematoma or seroma may reabsorb and resolve without intervention. Larger hematomas and seromas may need to be drained by your veterinarian. In some cases, it may be necessary to place a temporary drain in the area to allow further accumulation of blood and/or serum to drain from the area.

See Also

Skin Reactions to Drugs in Dogs

Image via Patryk Kosmider/Shutterstock

Cutaneous Drug Eruptions in Dogs

Cutaneous drug eruptions cover a spectrum of diseases and clinical signs. They can vary markedly in clinical appearance and pathophysiology – the functional change that accompanies the disease. It is likely that many mild drug reactions go unnoticed or unreported; thus, incidence rates for specific drugs are unknown and most of the facts available on drug-specific reactions have been extrapolated from reports in the human literature.

Some types of drug reactions appear to have a familial basis.

Symptoms and Types

Itchiness, scratching excessivelyFlat, small red patches and raised bumpsExfoliative erythroderma, a condition where at least 50 percent of the skin’s body surface area turns bright red and scalyScalesHivesAllergy symptomsSkin redness and swellingPatches of darker skin or plaques (round patches) that expand and may clear in the center, producing a bull’s-eye appearanceBlistering skin due to drug-induced pemphigus/pemphigoid (a rare autoimmune disorder of the skin)


Drugs of any typeExfoliative erythroderma (peeling redness):Most often associated with shampoos and dipsCommonly seen with reactions to topical ear medications, usually in the ear canals and on concave pinnae (outer part of the ear)Can occur after the first dose of the drug, or after weeks to months of administration of the same drug due to sensitization (when the body becomes hypersensitive after repeated exposure to a material)


Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog. The exam will include a full dermatologic exam, with skin scrapings for lab culturing in order to rule out or confirm bacterial and fungal infections. A skin biopsy may also be indicated. Your veterinarian will also order a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis. will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. history you provide may give your veterinarian clues as to what is causing the skin reaction and whether the problem needs to be treated on a deeper level or is only an external condition.


If is is found that the reaction is coming from an external source, you will need to discontinue use of any shampoos or other topical preparations. Also keep in mind cleaning products that you are using, since it is possible that your dog is reacting to floor cleaners, or other cleaning agents. If it is found to be drug based, your veterinarian will find a suitable replacement for the medication. If the diagnosis is Stevens – Johnson syndrome (SJS), or toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), both potentially fatal drug based skin reactions, your dog will need to be treated on an inpatient basis. Intensive supportive care and fluid/nutritional support will be administered, and relief for the pain that is associated with these conditions can be given.

For chronic and persistent idiopathic erythema multiforme (EM), a skin disease of unknown cause, azathioprine is often effective. Human intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) has been used successfully for severe EM and TEN when not spontaneously resolving, but it is often cost-prohibitive.

Living and Management

Your veterinarian will schedule follow-up appointments with you for your dog, depending on the cause of and severity of your dog’s skin disease. If your dog’s skin condition relapses or worsens, you will need to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Wellness Plans for Dogs

Preventive care is not only the first step, but absolutely vital to helping your pets live their very best, healthiest life. When you keep up with regular wellness exams and routine vaccines, screenings, and bloodwork, the vet is more likely to catch health concerns early on.

For many pet parents, however, routine veterinary care is a costly expense that can be difficult to afford. According to the 2021-2022 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey, the cost of routine vet visits averages $242 for dogs and $178 for cats per year. If you add in a dental cleaning ($500-$1000 for dogs), you’re looking at an even bigger vet bill.

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One good option to help provide your canine companion with the highest standard of care while controlling veterinary costs is a dog wellness plan. This special type of pet insurance is designed to cover routine veterinary expenses, as opposed to vet services provided for accidents, injuries, or disease management.

Here’s some insight on wellness plans for your dog so you can decide whether a wellness plan is a good option for your family.

What Are Wellness Plans for Dogs?

A wellness plan is a type of pet insurance that covers routine veterinary care, vaccinations, screening diagnostics, as well as spay/neuter surgeries and dental cleanings, in some cases. These plans are available as either standalone plans you can purchase by themselves, or they are sold as add-on plans to traditional accident-only and accident and illness pet health insurance policies.

What Does a Dog Wellness Plan Cover?

Wellness plans may cover:

Annual wellness exams

Vaccines–Core vaccines (rabies virus, canine distemper, adenovirus-2 (hepatitis), parvovirus, and parainfluenza) and boosters should be covered. Vaccines that may or may not be recommended by your vet based on your dog’s lifestyle (leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Lyme disease vaccines) may not be covered.


Monthly parasite protection

Spay/neuter procedures

Dental cleanings (but typically not extractions)

Fecal exams

Heartworm tests

Just because something is covered does not mean that the insurance company will pay the full cost. Pay attention to the limitations of how much they will reimburse you. This is important when you go through the math to determine if this kind of plan is right for your dog. 

Some plans offer per-item limitations. For example, the plan will cover up to $50 yearly for vaccines or up to $100 toward a dental cleaning. Other wellness plans offer you a yearly allowance rather than a per-treatment allowance, and you can pick and choose which type of preventive care services to use it for based on your dog’s needs. 

Carefully read the plan you’re considering, compare it to similar plans, and check with your vet to see what level of coverage makes sense for your dog. For example, a plan that covers vaccines may be a better choice for a puppy that needs a lot of vaccinations, while a senior dog that doesn’t need as many vaccines might not benefit as much from that type of coverage.

Request a treatment plan from your veterinarian for your dog’s preventive care needs over the next year, including the cost of the treatments (vaccines, heartworms tests, microchipping, spay/neuter/dental procedures, fecal exams, routine deworming, monthly parasite protection, etc.).

Then you will have all the tools you need to choose the best wellness plan for your dog.   


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How Do Dog Wellness Plans Work?

Your dog’s wellness plan will work very similar to traditional pet insurance.

One of the key differences between pet insurance of all types, including wellness plans, and human health insurance, is how they handle claims. In human insurance, you typically pay a co-pay or a fixed amount for a service when you see the doctor, and the insurance company directly reimburses the doctor’s office for covered expenses.

For most dog insurance policies, you will pay the entire bill at the time of treatment, then submit the claim to your insurance company. If the company determines that it’s a covered expense, they’ll reimburse you directly.

Some plans offer a direct-pay option to vets, which will limit your out-of-pocket expenses, so make sure to ask questions about how your policy handles reimbursement.

Most policies also have limitations that will affect the policy price and your benefits. Some common limitations include:

Expense caps on procedures, such as an annual cap of $50 for vaccines. The higher the caps, the more expensive your plan will probably be.

Annual expense caps, no matter what procedures your dog gets. Plans with higher or no annual limits are often more expensive than plans with lower annual limits.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say your dog needs their annual exam, heartworm test, and fecal exam. You pay the vet and then send the receipt (claim) to the insurance company. You paid $55 for the exam, but your plan pays up to $40 for exams. You also paid $45 for a heartworm test, but your plan pays up to $40 for this. And then you paid $30 for the fecal exam, and your plan pays $25. So, you paid the vet $130, but you will be reimbursed a total of $105 in this instance.

How Much Do Dog Wellness Plans Cost?

There are usually two levels of coverage to choose from with dog wellness plans, and sometimes even three. If the plan is an add-on to an accident-only or accident and illness plan, you will pay an extra fee each month for your wellness plan. Whether it’s an add-on or a standalone plan, the cost ranges from $20 to $50 on average for dogs.

Should You Get a Wellness Plan for Your Dog?

One of the major advantages of wellness plans isn’t financial at all—it’s about providing consistent care for your dog. Knowing your dog is covered by a wellness plan makes it more likely you’ll keep those important yearly checkups.

Ultimately, the decision to get a wellness plan comes down to your budget and situation. Unlike with an accident-only plan, or even an accident and illness plan, all dogs need and benefit from routine care.

If you have specific questions about wellness coverage for your dog, your vet is a great place to start. Find out what the vet recommends for your dog’s wellness care over the next year. With that information, and some basic research into the different policies available, you’ll be able to make the right decision for your dog.

Most importantly, many unexpected illnesses and diseases can be detected and prevented early on with routine checkups and consistent, preventive care. Wellness plans support and encourage that gold standard level of medicine while saving you some money!  


American Pet Products Association. Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics. 2021.

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Ashley Mandeville, LVT


Ashley Mandeville has worked in the veterinary field for the past 12 years in General Practice as an Emergency Treatment Technician, an ICU…

How to Start Training Your Puppy

Puppies are constantly learning, whether it’s from their environment, from socializing with people or other animals, or from direct training.

This creates a critical foundation that will set the stage for their adulthood. Providing puppies with the appropriate socialization and basic puppy training allows them to grow into confident adult dogs.

Follow this step-by-step puppy training guide to set you and your puppy up for success!

When Can You Start Training Your Puppy?

Training a puppy starts as soon as you bring them home, which is typically about 8 weeks of age. At this young age, they can learn basic puppy training cues such as sit, stay, and come.

Tips for Training Your Puppy

Here are some basic puppy training tips to get you started.

Use Positive Reinforcement

There are many different methods of training your puppy that you might have heard about or even seen in person with a dog trainer. However, there is only one acceptable and scientifically backed method of training, and that’s the use of positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement is the process of giving a reward to encourage a behavior you want. The use of punishment—including harsh corrections; correcting devices such as shock, choke, and prong collars; and dominance-based handling techniques—should be avoided, because these can produce long-term consequences that result in various forms of fear and anxiety for your dog as an adult dog.

To apply this, first find out which rewards work best for your puppy. Some puppies might find something as simple as a piece of their normal kibble exciting enough to train with, while others might need something tastier, like a special training treat.

Then there are the puppies that are not motivated by food at all! For those puppies, try to find a toy they enjoy that they can get when they do a good job. Praise is also a way to positively reinforce a puppy. Petting or showing excitement and saying, “good job!” may be all you need for basic puppy training.

Keep Training Sessions Short

When training a basic cue, keep the sessions short, about 5 minutes each, and try to average a total of 15 minutes per day. Puppies have short attention spans, so end your session on a positive note so that they are excited for the next session!

Use Consistency When Training Your Puppy

It is important to be consistent in your approach to cues and training. Use the same word and/or hand signal when you teach your puppy basic cues such as sit, stay, and come.

It is also important to reinforce desired behaviors consistently, even when it’s not convenient. So if your puppy is at the door needing to go outside to go to the bathroom, stop what you are doing, let them out, and reward them for going to the bathroom outside.

Practice in Different Environments 

Taking a puppy to a new environment like a park or the beach and asking for a cue is vastly different than training at your house. This is due to the variety of new sights and smells they will encounter outside the home.

Make attempts to practice in different settings to set your dog up to be confident no matter what their situation. Please keep in mind that puppies should not go to areas where there are a lot of dogs until they have finished their puppy vaccination series!

Be Patient

Puppies are growing and learning, just like young children. They will make mistakes and may not always understand what you are asking.

All puppies learn at different speeds, so stick with it and don’t get frustrated. Maintaining a consistent routine with feeding, potty breaks, naps, and playtime will make your puppy feel secure—and a secure puppy is ready and able to learn!

Basic Puppy Training Timeline

So when do you teach your dog the different cues? When does house-training start? Here’s a puppy training timeline that you can use.

7-8 Weeks Old

Basic Cues (Sit, Stay, Come)

You can start with basic cues as early as 7 weeks old:

Say a cue such as “sit” once.

Use a treat to position your dog into a sitting position.

Once sitting, give your puppy the treat and some praise.

Leash Training

You can start leash training indoors at this age. Because puppies don’t have their full vaccinations at this point, it is unsafe for them to be walking around where other dogs walk.

Start by letting them wear the collar/harness for short amounts of time while providing treats. Increase this duration slowly. Once your puppy knows how to come to you, you can walk around inside on the leash with no distractions. You can move the training outside once your puppy has all their vaccinations.

General Handling

Get your puppy used to being touched. Gently rub their ears and paws while rewarding them. This will get them used to having those areas touched and will make veterinary visits and nail trims less stressful when they are older!

8-10 Weeks Old

Crate Training

Your puppy should see their crate as a safe and calm place. Start by bringing them to their crate for 10- minute intervals while they are nice and calm. Reward them for going in their crate. You can even feed them in their crate to create a positive environment.

10-12 Weeks Old

Learning Not to Bite

Puppies become mouthy at this age. Putting things in their mouths is how they explore their world, but it is important to teach them not to bite your hands or ankles. When they start biting at you, redirect them to a more appropriate object to bite, such as a toy.

12-16 Weeks Old

Potty Training

Maintaining a schedule is important for potty training. Make sure to take your puppy out first thing in the morning, after eating, and after playtime and naps throughout the day. At this point they should start having enough bladder control to learn to hold it. Reward your puppy with a treat every time they go to the bathroom outside.

6 Months Old

Puppies are entering the adolescence stage by this point, and it is the most difficult stage to start training at. That is why it is important to start training them as young as possible! At this stage you will continue training to solidify and strengthen their skills in more public and distracting settings such as dog parks.

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Shelby Loos, DVM


Dr. Shelby Loos is a 2017 graduate from the University of Florida with a certificate in aquatic animal medicine. After completing a year…