Archive : April

Stomach and Intestinal Inflammation in Dogs

Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis in Dogs

Eosinophilic gastroenteritis in dogs is an inflammatory condition of the stomach and intestines. The name of the disease is derived from the fact that lining of the stomach and intestines is infiltrated with a specific type of white blood cell known as an eosinophil.

Eosinophilic gastroenteritis can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this condition affects cats, please visit this page in the petMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

Eosinophilic gastroenteritis is most commonly seen in dogs less than 5 years of age, though it can affect dogs of any age. German Shepherds, Rottweilers, soft-coated Wheaten Terriers, and Shar Peis may be predisposed. Symptoms include:

VomitingDiarrheaLack of appetiteWeight loss


ParasitesImmune-mediated – may be associated with food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease or with adverse drug reactionsSystemic mastocytosis (a disorder involving mast cell infiltration of body tissues)Hypereosinophilic syndromeEosinophilic leukemiaIdiopathic eosinophilic gastroenteritis (cause unknown)


In order to confirm the diagnosis a veterinarian will typically examine your dog’s feces for parasites. In many cases, deworming with a broad spectrum deworming product is used to help rule out parasites as well. Routine blood testing (including a complete blood cell count and blood chemistry profile) and urinalysis may also be performed to check for abnormalities in organ function and blood cells.

Imaging such as radiographs (X-rays) and abdominal ultrasonography may be used to examine the intestinal tract more thoroughly, while dietary trials may be performed to diagnose food allergies or hypersensitivities.

Definitive diagnosis is made by collecting samples of the stomach and intestines for biopsy via endoscopy or exploratory surgery. If your veterinarian suspects idiopathic eosinophilic gastroenteritis, diagnosis is attained by ruling out other causes.


If an underlying cause is discovered, it is important that it be treated first. Parasites, for instance, are treated with an appropriate dewormer. Food allergies and hypersensitivities are controlled with an appropriate diet.

In cases where protein is lost from the intestines, special fluid products known as colloids may be required. Dehydration, meanwhile, must be corrected with fluid therapy.

Steroids such as prednisone or prednisolone are frequently used in treatment of eosinophilic gastroenteritis in dogs. Other medications that may be necessary include anti-emetics to control vomiting and nausea.

Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers originated in Boston (hence their name) and are affectionately known as the “American gentleman” because of their good manners and tuxedo coat. They are small dogs that have a shoulder height of 15-17 inches and weigh 12-15 pounds.

They can be quite rambunctious and like to participate in whatever their family is doing. Although they have a lot of energy, Boston Terriers are content with consistent exercise and thrive in many environments, including urban settings. They are good family dogs and do well with children who play gently with them. It’s important to always supervise children with dogs, especially Boston Terriers, because this active and ambitious breed can accidentally become injured during playtime.

All Boston Terriers are brachycephalic—meaning they have a flat nose, long palate, and narrow airway—so they suffer from breathing problems if they overheat or exercise for too long.

Caring for a Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers are small and stocky. They have large and bulging round eyes that require care and a short, flat nose. As noted, they are considered brachycephalic and may have trouble breathing if they are exposed to high heat or exercised for too long. Because of this, it’s important to keep exercise and play sessions to the mornings and evenings during the summer.

Boston Terrier Health Issues

Boston Terriers can be prone to health issues specific to their stature. Knowing about the conditions that they are predisposed to can help you prepare how to handle any health concerns that may arise. It is also important to understand how you may need to adapt to an appropriate activity level and environment that will best suit a Boston Terrier.

Brachycephalic Syndrome

Like many small and flat-faced breeds, the Boston Terrier is considered brachycephalic and prone to upper-airway obstruction. Boston Terriers have flat noses, short muzzles, and small nostrils, and tissues at the top of their throat can get enlarged. Combined, these anatomical issues result in difficulty breathing, overheating, and a reduced tolerance for exercise (especially in a warm, humid climate).

Surgery can help alleviate this condition and make it easier for Boston Terriers to breathe. It’s important for pet parents to monitor their dog’s exercise in hot and humid weather. 

Brachycephalic dogs make a snoring sound when they breathe. Being overweight exacerbates their breathing problems, so it’s important to keep them trim and in shape.

Patellar Luxation

Boston Terriers are prone to a condition called patellar luxation. It is often caused by an abnormally located ligament within the knee joint. Over time, the edge of the bony surface that holds the patella (kneecap) in place wears down, which forces the kneecap to slide out of place. 

Depending on the severity, surgical correction of patellar luxation is possible. Keeping your Boston Terrier at an ideal weight helps lessen symptoms of this condition. Also, providing your pet with joint support through nutrition and possibly supplementation is important to delay the onset of arthritis.

Eye Disease

Boston Terriers are predisposed to eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and corneal ulcers, and their eyes should be routinely checked by your veterinarian or whenever you notice any eye discomfort or changes.

Due to the prominence of a Boston Terrier’s eyes, this breed may be more likely to incur eye injuries. It is important to make sure your Boston Terrier is playing safely and away from objects that could potentially hurt their eyes. 

What to Feed a Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers need a high-quality and well-balanced diet. Feeding them dry food intended for small breeds makes it easier for these small dogs to chew. Always consult your veterinarian on the appropriate amount of food needed to keep your dog at an ideal weight.

How to Feed a Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers have a high metabolism and should be fed two or three meals a day. A diet that is formulated for small breeds would be beneficial to meet their nutrient needs.

How Much You Should Feed a Boston Terrier

The amount you feed your Boston Terrier depends on the type and brand of food and the weight, age, and lifestyle of your dog. It’s recommended that you ask your veterinarian about the appropriate amount. The dog food label also has recommendations based on these factors.

Nutritional Tips for a Boston Terrier

There are no supplements that are specific to Boston Terriers; however, like most breeds, they could benefit from joint and skin health supplements and nutrition.

Behavior and Training Tips for Boston Terriers

Boston Terrier Personality and Temperament

Boston Terriers are full of energy and can be quite rambunctious. They love playing with their family and entertaining anyone. Some of their favorite activities include fetch and frisbee. 

Boston Terriers require moderate exercise and usually do well in a multi-pet household, although this may depend on the dog. They are typically good around children, as long as the dogs have been appropriately trained and the children are gentle enough to not accidentally injure the dog. 

Boston Terriers can be a bit vocal in order to get attention and like to chew, but both behaviors may be reduced with the appropriate training.

Boston Terrier Behavior

Boston Terriers are curious and like to be a part of their family’s activities. They are little bundles of energy that do best with several short bursts of exercise throughout the day rather than one long walk. They are intelligent but can be stubborn, so they may know exactly what you are saying but choose to not listen.

Boston Terrier Training

Boston Terriers are very intelligent and respond quickly to training. However, they may require some patience due to their stubborn ways. They often enjoy high-energy activities like flyball and agility games. 

Due to their potential breathing issues, a well-fitted harness is a better option than a collar to reduce pressure on their trachea (windpipe) when walking.

Fun Activities for Boston Terriers

Fun activities you may enjoy with your Boston Terrier include:


Boston Terrier Grooming Guide

Coat Care

Boston Terriers have short, smooth coats that shed moderately. Their short coat means they get cold easily, so they may need a sweater or jacket in cold temperatures.

Skin Care

Boston Terriers typically do not require any specific skin care. Brushing your Boston Terrier’s coat weekly with a grooming mitt or soft-bristled brush will keep their coat healthy and reduce shedding.

Eye Care

Boston Terriers are prone to eye disease and injury, so it is important to regularly check their eyes for diseases and irritation and to be careful when playing. Your veterinarian may want you to keep a dog eye rinse on hand to flush out debris when needed.

Ear Care

Regular ear cleaning is usually sufficient to care for a Boston Terrier’s ears.

Considerations for Pet Parents

If you’re thinking about adding a Boston Terrier to your family, it’s important to consider how you will manage their health, especially their breathing and joint problems. Also, it’s important to think about the appropriate environment for the lively Boston Terrier. These are high-energy dogs who need some space to play and exercise.

Boston Terrier FAQs

Is a Boston Terrier a good family dog?

Yes, with proper training Boston Terriers can be great, playful family dogs.

Are Boston Terriers smart dogs?

Yes, Boston Terriers are often very smart dogs.

How much does a Boston Terrier cost?

On average, you can expect to spend around $1,000 when purchasing a Boston Terrier puppy from a reputable breeder.

Is a Boston Terrier a good house dog?

Yes. While they love to run, Boston Terriers often do well in an urban setting, provided they get enough exercise each day.

How long do Boston Terriers live?

The typical Boston Terrier lifespan is between 11-13 years.

What are the differences between a Boston Terrier and a French Bulldog?

While these two breeds are quite similar, the Boston Terrier is a bit leaner, has pointier ears, and has a bit more energy than a French Bulldog.

Featured Image: iStock/schuie

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Katherine Smith, DVM, CVA, CVSMT


Ehrlichiosis in Dogs

What Is Ehrlichiosis in Dogs?

Ehrlichiosis is a tick-borne (transmitted by tick bites) disease caused by infectious bacteria from the Ehrlichia genus. There are many species of Ehrlichia, but the two most common species responsible for ehrlichiosis in dogs in the United States are E. canis and E. ewingii. While all are transmitted by tick bites, the specific tick may vary depending on the specific species of Ehrlichia. Similarly, the Ehrlichia bacteria infect and live in white blood cells but the specific type of white blood cell will vary.

E. canis was first identified during the Vietnam war and is sometimes called tracker dog disease or tropical canine pancytopenia. German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Belgium Malinois, and Siberian Huskies appear to get a more severe form of this disease compared to other dogs. Often, when veterinarians refer to ehrlichiosis they are referring to an E. canis infection (scientifically called Canine Monocytic Ehrlichiosis). Once E. canis enters the host, it lives within white blood cells called monocytes. 

E. ewingii is the most common form of ehrlichiosis in North America, and once it enters the host, it lives in a different white blood cell called the granulocyte. Less attention is paid to E. ewingii infection (scientifically called canine granulocytic ehrlichiosis) because it is generally not as serious as E. canis infections. Most dogs with E. ewingii are only mildly ill or may show no signs of illness. 

Geographically, ehrlichiosis is most frequently reported in the southeastern and south-central United States with the highest prevalence in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. 

Symptoms of Ehrlichiosis in Dogs

The clinical signs of E. canis can be divided into three phases: acute, subclinical, and chronic.

The acute phase (early disease) occurs one to three weeks after the tick bite occurs. During this time, the E. canis bacteria is reproducing and attaching to white blood cells. The clinical signs typically seen in the acute phase are:



Anorexia/weight loss

Enlarged lymph nodes 




Abnormal bruising and bleeding

Neurologic signs, such as loss of balance or stumbling

If treated in the acute phase, most dogs will clear the infection completely and return to normal. Dogs that do not receive treatment will likely progress to the subclinical phase in weeks one to four.

In the subclinical phase, dogs will still be infected but show no signs of disease. The bacteria hide in the spleen where it can remain for months or years. The dog will have no clinical signs but may have some changes on bloodwork (a slightly low platelet count and possibly elevated blood protein called the globulin). Not all dogs will progress from the subclinical to the chronic phase as some dogs may clear the disease on their own.

In the chronic phase (long-term disease), the dogs were unable to eliminate the bacteria and will become sick again. Chronic phase clinical signs include:

Abnormal bleeding: Up to 60 percent of chronic phase dogs will have this symptom due to decreased platelet numbers which can lead to anemia.

Inflammation in the eyes (uveitis), bleeding in the eye (hyphema), or blindness

Neurologic signs, such as loss of balance or stumbling

Increased urinating (polyuria) and increased drinking (polydipsia) from damage to kidneys

Lameness/swollen limbs

Dogs in the chronic phase have a worse prognosis, and this phase can become fatal.

Clinical signs of E. ewingii are milder than E. canis and can include fever and swollen joints. Some dogs with E. ewingii do not show any clinical signs at all.

Causes of Ehrlichiosis in Dogs

E. canis is transmitted by the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus). E. ewingii is transmitted by the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum). Disease transmission can occur in as little as three to six hours after the tick attaches, therefore prompt tick removal is crucial.

Humans cannot get E. canis but they are susceptible to other types of ehrlichiosis, including E. ewingii. However, ehrlichiosis is not zoonotic, meaning humans cannot get the disease directly from dogs. They can, however, get the disease from tick bites. If you think you have been exposed to ehrlichiosis, please seek medical attention immediately.  

How Veterinarians Diagnose Ehrlichiosis in Dogs

Obtaining a detailed history of travel and recent tick exposure can be useful when evaluating for ehrlichiosis. Your veterinarian will also start with a thorough physical examination to assess for fever, joint swelling/pain, and enlarged lymph nodes. A complete blood count, serum blood chemistry, and urinalysis will all likely be recommended for a baseline evaluation.

Your veterinarian will ask about any recent travel history where tick exposure may have occurred and will want to do a full examination of your dog. They may order various blood tests, including a urinalysis, and serum blood chemistry, to ensure they have a baseline for diagnosis. If you vet believes ehrlichiosis is the issue they may recommend additional specialized laboratory testing.

Most veterinarians use a Snap 4Dx test to annually check your dog for heartworms. In addition to heartworms, the test also checks for Lyme disease, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia. According to the manufacturer’s website, the test would detect antibodies for E. canis or E. ewingii. In a healthy pet with no clinical signs, a positive Snap test for ehrlichiosis can be confusing and require additional testing.

Sometimes the test is a false positive (meaning it is actually negative), but in all likelihood, your pet was exposed to the bacteria from an infected tick bite. Your vet may choose one of three options based on if your pet has any symptoms:

Monitor your dog with no additional therapy

Treat for ehrlichiosis

Recommend additional testing, such as the PCR

Treatment of Ehrlichiosis in Dogs

Ehrlichiosis is typically treated with a 28- to 30-day course of antibiotics, most often prescribing Doxycycline. Most dogs in the acute or subclinical phases will not require hospitalization and can be managed as outpatients at home with minimal supportive care (pain medications and appetite stimulants). Dogs with chronic ehrlichiosis may require hospitalization for aggressive supportive care that includes blood transfusions, steroids, IV fluids, and nutritional support.

In many cases dogs with ehrlichiosis will also be infected with other tick-borne diseases, which may complicate diagnosis and treatment. Your veterinarian will customize a treatment plan to your dog’s specific needs.

Recovery and Management of Ehrlichiosis in Dogs

Dogs with acute or subclinical ehrlichiosis from E. canis tend to improve within one to two days of starting therapy and have an excellent prognosis for recovery. Dogs with E. ewingii infection tend to recover quickly after antibiotics have been initiated. Once recovered, dogs can still have antibodies in their blood for several years but are essentially cured of the infection.

Unfortunately, the prognosis for dogs with chronic E. canis infection is guarded as this stage can be fatal. Dogs who survive ehrlichiosis can become re-infected later in life as immunity is not lifelong.

Ehrlichiosis cannot be spread from dog to dog, but if multiple pets were exposed to the same area of ticks, please consult your veterinarian about testing and/or treating all dogs in your household.

Although ehrlichiosis is not zoonotic (cannot be transmitted from dog to human), humans can still get the infection directly from a tick bite. If you believe you have been exposed to ehrlichiosis through a tick bite, seek medical care immediately.  

Prevention of Ehrlichiosis in Dogs

Fortunately, most tick bites can be prevented through monthly flea and tick preventative care. There are plenty of options available, including topical, tablet, and chewable medications. Your veterinarian will be able to help you find the best option for your pet.

If you live near wooded areas where ticks are prone, it is best to keep your dog away from these areas, since there currently is no vaccine for ehrlichiosis. When your dog comes back from any outdoor adventure, it’s important to inspect them for any ticks or fleas and remove them safely. Early removal of ticks is the best defense against the spread of any infection.

Ehrlichiosis in Dogs FAQs

Can ehrlichiosis in dogs be cured?

Yes. With prompt, appropriate antibiotic therapy, ehrlichiosis can be cured. However, antibodies may remain present in the blood for years after successful treatment.

Can I get ehrlichiosis from my dog?

No. Transmission from dogs to humans has never been reported. However, people can get ehrlichiosis from ticks, and since dogs and people are often exposed to the same tick population, it is possible for people and dogs in the same household to test positive for ehrlichiosis.

Featured Image:

< img src=";base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7">< img src="23070/veronica-higgs-dvm.jpg">


Veronica Higgs, DVM


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

How to Dog-Proof Your Trash Can

By Aly Semigran 

When it comes to making your household safe for your pet, it doesn’t just stop at locking up the medicine cabinet or avoiding bringing home certain plants. Another major consideration is learning how to properly secure and dog-proof your trash cans.

From the kitchen to the bathroom, the trash cans in your home contain various dangerous threats to your dog, ranging from expired medications to rotten foods.

Learn why it’s important for your dog to stay out of the trash, and what you can do to prevent any harmful incidents.

The Dangers of Kitchen Trash Cans for Dogs

Because of the smells emanating from kitchen trash, dogs are instinctually drawn to what they perceive as a meal in those bins.

Their urge to find out what’s in the trash, however, can lead to more than a messy kitchen floor.

“Things dogs find in the trash may be harmful to deadly—everything from poisons to string to gums and candies containing Xylitol to bones or rotting food,” says training and behavior specialist Caryl Wolff of the Los Angeles-based Doggie Manners. “[These things] mean an expensive trip to the veterinarian, at the very least.”

Dr. Allison Witherow, of Allison Animal Care in Savannah, Georgia, has seen the results of animals getting into the trash firsthand, including a patient who ingested a wine cork.

“Whenever an animal eats something that he or she is not used to, there is always the possibility of gastrointestinal upset like vomiting or diarrhea,” Witherow warns. “If there is raw meat in the trash that an animal ingests, the bacteria in that raw meat can cause infections or expose him or her to parasites just like it could in a person who eats raw meat.”

In addition to raw meat, other toxic foods to dogs like chocolate, grapes, and onions can “result in serious illness and hospitalization,” Witherow explains.

Your dog accidentally getting into the trash is not only a risk to him, but may pose a problem for you and the rest of your family. “If your pet takes something out of the trash and carries the garbage around the house, there could be trail of contamination,” says Witherow. “Or a young child or a baby can unknowingly come into contact with harmful medications or germ-filled food.”

But veterinarians warn against trash other than food, too. Wrappings and packaging can create blockages in a dog’s intestinal tract, Witherow notes. Discarded kitchen cleaning supplies also present a poisoning risk if pets ingest or lick them.

Denise Herman, the founder and head trainer of New York City’s Empire of the Dog, also reminds pet parents that the trash can itself may be dangerous for dogs. “It’s possible for a dog to actually get stuck in a trash can with an automatic closing lid,” she says.

The Dangers of Bathroom Trash Cans for Dogs

While your bathroom trash can is likely smaller than your kitchen one, it doesn’t mean there are fewer risks for your pet getting into it. In fact, the access is likely easier, as the trash can is lower to the ground and may not have a lid.

Witherow warns that bathroom trash cans may hold medications, gels, or cleaners—items that could pose a potentially deadly risk to pets.

She also points out that personal hygiene accessories like razors can lead to internal damage if ingested by a pet. Even discarded dental floss can be a danger to the gastrointestinal tract, Witherow says.

How to Dog-Proof Your Trash Can

There are simple—but important—steps that pet parents can take to dog-proof their trash cans.

According to Donna Dougherty, the owner of Go Green Cleaning Experts in West Chester, Pennsylvania, the location of your garbage can is pivotal. She recommends keeping trash cans—with secure, tightly fitted lids—in pantries or closets, or underneath the sink, preferably closed with a child-proof lock.

It’s not just containing the trash itself that will make a huge difference, but eliminating the smells that beckon to your dog and his powerful nose is also an effective preventative measure.

“Empty your trash can frequently. Or after dinner, place your scraps in a plastic bag and place the bag in your garage or take it out to dumpster,” suggests Dougherty. “This way the smell is not lingering there for your dog the next day when you go to work.”

Another helpful tip Dougherty has for pet parents is to place weight in the bottom of the bin so that dogs can’t easily knock over the trash can and spill its contents on the floor. “Bricks, stones, weights, sand in a bag will help to secure your bin.”

Last but not least, when cleaning out your trash bags, whether in the kitchen or bathroom, make sure the bag is securely closed and out of reach from your dog.

What to Do If Your Dog Has Ingested Something From the Trash

“If a dog has eaten trash, a pet parent needs to, first of all, try to determine what was in the trash. If there was a known toxic substance or medication, then a list should be made,” says Witherow. “It is ideal if you can estimate the amount of the toxic material or the amount and strength of any medications.”

Concerned pet parents can also call their local ASPCA poison control center to discuss what has happened with a veterinary toxicologist. But Witherow always suggests contacting your veterinarian if you think your pet has ingested something from the trash.

“Even if the items in the trash are not obvious toxins, if your dog is acting ill, you need to get in touch with your veterinarian,” she says. “I never recommend that you induce vomiting unless it has been recommended by the toxicologist or by your veterinarian. Some substances become more dangerous if vomiting is induced.”

Keeping Your Dog Away From the Trash

Herman says that keeping your dog away from the trash starts early. “One of the easiest things to start with is to make sure the dog doesn’t begin a pattern of scavenging,” she says.

She suggests tapping into your dog’s scavenging instincts by offering him safer alternatives like pet-safe bones and treat-filled toys. “Meeting the dog’s needs for chewing and hunting-type activities is one way to funnel what is a normal behavior into a safe outlet instead of a dangerous outlet,” says Herman.

Wolff recommends finding ways to keep your dog distracted and happy, in order to make the trash seem like a less appealing target. This might include tiring him out with exercise, leaving him toys to play with, and making sure he is well fed before you leave him home alone.

She points out that pet parents can also take measures into their own hands. Simple steps—such as closing bathroom or kitchen doors, or hiding the trash can away behind a closed door—are good options. Pet parents can also try crate training the dog to avoid messy and dangerous mishaps when no one is home. 

See Also:

Irish Red and White Setter

The Irish Red and White Setter is a hunting breed best known in the field for its athletic build and keen personality. This intelligent dog breed requires daily exercise and modest coat maintenance. It is considered to be a perfect family dog.

Physical Characteristics

This Irish Setter has a strong and muscular build, as it is usually bred for the field. The silky coat is white with deep red patches, with feathering at the legs, ears and chest. Average height for the Irish Red and White Setter ranges from 22 to 26 inches and weighs about 50 to 70 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

The Irish Red and White Setter has a kind and friendly demeanor, with a keen and intelligent attitude. This Setter likes to establish a personal relationship and is good with other dogs.


The Irish Red and White Setter needs only occasional trimming and grooming of the coat to maintain its natural appearance. Originally bred for the hunting fields, it requires a great deal of exercise, such as jogging or a large yard to move about freely in. 


The Irish Red and White Setter has an average lifespan of 11 to 15 years. Although heath issues are not prominent among Irish Red and White Setters, a more common problem is posterior polar cataract, when cataracts form in the back of the eye. Rarer diseases in the Irish Red and White Setter include hip problems and von Willebrand’s disease, which prevents blood from clotting.

History and Background

Most people are much more familiar with the Red Setter breed. However, it is believed that the Red and White Setter, which dates back to the 17th century, is actually the older of the two breeds. Near the end of the 19th century, the Red and White Setter, like many other breeds of the time, suffered in number due to the hardships of WWI in Ireland. Its numbers became so rare, in fact, that the breed was thought to be extinct.

Fortunately, efforts to revive the Irish Red and White Setter in the 1920s proved successful. In the 1980s the Irish Kennel Club recognized the breed as one separate from the Irish Setter. The American Kennel Club would not formally recognize the Irish Red and White Setter until 2009.

Today the Irish Red and White Setter can be found in healthy amounts both in the U.S. and abroad, especially competing against other pointing breeds at Irish Shows and Field Trails as gun dogs.

Foot/Toe Cancer in Dogs

Digital Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Dogs

Dogs can be afflicted with several types of skin tumors, even on their feet and toes. The most common type of type of tumor to affect the toes is a squamous cell carcinoma. A squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) can be described as a malignant and particularly invasive tumor that takes hold in the scale like cells of the epithelium – the tissue that covers the body or lines the cavities of the body. These scale like tissue cells are called the squamous.

Carcinoma is, by definition, an especially malignant and persistent form of cancer, often returning after is has been excised from the body and metastasizing to other organs and locations on the body.

A squamous cell carcinoma usually comes from the skin around the nail. It commonly affects the bone and tissue around it, spreading slowly enough that it can be caught before it is able to spread to other areas of the body. In dogs, squamous cell carcinomas usually affect only one toe. The tumor may appear as a small nodule, a reddish colored skin plaque, or as a papule – small and blister like in appearance, but differentiated by its lack of fluid. The SCC does not retain its appearance as a solid mass. Over time it will grow, the tissue within the mass will die (necrotize), and the tumor will ulcerate.

Large breed dogs and black colored dogs are more likely to be affected by these tumors. Labrador retrievers and standard poodles appear to be more vulnerable than other breeds. And, as with most types of carcinomas, squamous cell carcinoma is most likely to be seen in older dogs, around ten years old, though it has been also been diagnosed in younger dogs.

Symptoms and Types

Swollen toe or footLimping, reluctance to walkUlcer (sore) on toeBleeding ulcer on a toeBroken nail on a toe with a soreSolid, raised mass of skin on the toe (i.e., nodule, papule)Usually only one toe is affectedMay be without other symptoms


There is no known cause of squamous cell carcinomas of the toe in dogs.


You will need to provide a thorough history of your dog’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms. Be sure to describe any sores that have been apparent on other parts of the body, even if you suspect they were caused by injuries resulting from outdoor activity, or from scratching at the skin. During the examination, your veterinarian will look carefully for other sores or tumors on your dog’s body. The lymph nodes will be carefully felt to determine if they are enlarged, an indication that the body is reacting to an infection or invasion. A sample of lymph fluid may be taken to test for cancerous cells. Your veterinarian will order complete blood count and biochemistry profile to make sure your dog’s other organs are working normally and to determine whether the white blood cell count is higher than normal; again, an indication that the body is fighting an invasive disease or infection.

X-rays images of your dog’s chest will allow your veterinarian to visually inspect the lungs for signs of any abnormalities, especially tumors. X-rays of your dog’s foot will also be ordered to determine how deep the tumor is in the tissue and whether the tumor on the toe has spread to the bones in the foot. A biopsy will be taken of the tumors so that your doctor can diagnose the specific type of growth it is, whether carcinoma or a benign mass of tissue. If your dog has sores or tumors in other areas, your veterinarian will also order biopsies of these for analysis.


Treatment will depend on how many tumors or sores your dog has and whether or not they have spread to other areas of the body. If your dog has only one tumor on one toe, it will most likely be treated with surgery. To be sure that all of the carcinoma is removed, the toe with the tumor will be removed entirely (amputated). Most dogs recover well from this type of surgery and are able to walk normally afterwards.

If the tumor has spread to other areas, surgery alone may not be enough to treat your dog. Surgery, along with chemotherapy or other types of therapy may be recommended. If your veterinarian is not specialized in this area of animal medicine, he or she may recommend a veterinary cancer specialist so that you can determine if there are other viable treatment options for treating your dog. In the meantime, your veterinarian can prescribe a medication to help minimize your dog’s pain.

Living and Management

If your dog has had surgery to remove a toe, it may limp a little and have some pain in its foot afterwards. Pain medication will help your dog to move through the transition, and its activity may need to be limited until it has completely recovered from the surgery. Otherwise, once it has recovered, your dog should not have any difficulty compensating quickly for the lost digit. If the tumor was limited to one spot and had not metastasized to other parts of the body, a full recovery can be expected. While this type of cancer has a good chance of not recurring, as with any cancer, it is recommended that you take your dog for regular progress checks with your veterinarian. Even if the entire tumor could not be removed, most dogs do well for at least one year after surgery.

Skin Infections and Loss of Skin Color Disorders in Dogs

Dermatoses, Depigmenting Disorders

Skin dermatoses is a general medical term that applies to several types of bacterial infections or genetic diseases of the skin. Some dermatoses are cosmetic conditions involving loss of pigmentation of the skin and/or hair coat, but are otherwise no harmful.

For instance, German Shepherds tend to bacterial skin infections involving areas of the lips, eyelids, and nostrils. German Shepherds, Collies, and Shetland sheepdogs are predisposed to lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own skin and other organs, and discoid lupus, an autoimmune disease involving the skin only, usually the face.

Chow chows and Akitas are predisposed to an autoimmune disease involving the skin, characterized by inflammation with crusting, and lesions containing pus.

Akitas, Samoyeds and Siberian huskies tend to develop a rare syndrome that causes inflammation in the front part of the eye. The most affected area is the iris, with coexistent inflammation of the skin characterized by loss of pigment in the skin of the nose and lips.

Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers may develop a condition characterized by symmetrical lack of pigment in the skin and a white hair coat, especially involving the face and nose. Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and Labrador Retrievers can display a seasonal loss of pigment in the tough, hairless skin of the nose. St. Bernards and Giant schnauzers can be afflicted with inflammation of the arteries of the nasal philtrum, the juncture between the sides of the upper lip extending to the nose.

Symptoms and Types

White hair (known as leukotrichia)Partial or total lack of pigment in the skin (known as leukoderma)Reddening of the skin (known as erythema)Loss of the top surface of the skin (known as an erosion or ulceration, based on depth of tissue loss)


Bacterial skin infections; the most commonly affected areas are:LipsEyelidsNostrilsFungal infection of skinContact hypersensitivity (allergies)Skin on face tends to be primarily affectedRed skin and pus – face and earsCrusting scabs and pus on skinLoss of skin/hair color after skin was inflamedLoss of color on nose and lips, vision lossSeasonal nasal depigmentationInflammation of the arteries of the nasal philtrum (very front of nose, above upper lip)Albinism (genetic)Vitiligo (smooth white patches of skin due to loss of skin color)Severe: skin and bodily organs affectedAutoimmune disease (often there is a genetic predisposition)Systemic lupus erythematosusDiscoid lupus erythematosusPemphigus foliaceusPemphigus erythematosusUveodermatologic syndromeHormonal disordersDrug reaction


Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog, taking into account the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition, such as whether your dog suffered a recent infection. You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health and onset of symptoms. Your veterinarian will order a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis. Blood samples can be tested for autoimmune factors.

As part of your dog’s physical exam, your veterinarian will take skin samples and skin scrapings to send to a lab for bacterial and fungal cultures. If the skin biopsy shows that skin cells are separating from each other (acantholytic), this is diagnostic for pemphigus. Direct immunofluorescence of skin samples using fluorescent dyes can also be used to demonstrate antibodies. Your veterinarian may also take fluid samples from your dog’s joints to check for lupus.


Unless your dog is suffering from multiple organ dysfunction caused by lupus, treatment may be performed on an outpatient basis. Antibiotics will be prescribed by your veterinarian if a bacterial or fungal infection is present. Immunosuppressive medication is often prescribed for autoimmune disorders. Your veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist if your dog’s eyes are affected. Unless topical medications or ointments have been specifically prescribed by your veterinarian for your pet, any preparation should be avoided.

Living and Management

You will need to protect your dog from exposure to the sun if it has been diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, discoid lupus erythematosus, or pemphigus erythematosus. You can easily apply a water resistant sunblock with an SPF of greater than 30 to depigmented areas of your dog’s skin for walks or days out n the sun. If your dog is exposed to plastic or rubber dishes (especially if the dishes have roughened edges which might cause abrasions), they will need to be replaced.

If your dog’s skin condition worsens, you will need to contact your veterinarian, since it may indicate something more serious that is underlying the skin condition, such as a spreading infection. Your veterinarian will schedule follow-up appointments as necessary to monitor your dog’s skin ailment. Animals that are taking immunosuppressive medications (for autoimmune diseases) should have frequent blood work tests performed.

Tick Medicine Poisoning in Dogs

Amitraz Toxicosis in Dogs 

Amitraz toxicosis (or poisoning) occurs when a dog is overexposed to the pharmaceutical drug Amitraz (formamidine acaricide), which is commonly used in dog collars and in topical solutions for the prevention and eradication of ticks and to control demodex mite infections.

Toxic levels of this drug will affect the dog’s nervous, endocrine/metabolic, and gastrointestinal systems. Amitraz topical solutions usually contain 19.9 percent of the pharmaceutical in 10.6 ml bottles, while impregnated collars contain 9 percent of it in a 25-inch, 27.5 gram collar.

Symptoms and Types

The symptoms of Amitraz toxicosis develop acutely after the overexposure occurs — usually within two to six hours after the incidence. The most common symptoms include:

Vomiting Diarrhea Lethargy Weakness Staggering Disorientation Hypothermia Abdominal pain Light or severe depression

In severe cases where the correct treatment is not administered, Amitraz toxicosis may result in a comatose state or death.


Amitraz toxicosis can be caused in a number of ways. The most common cause of the condition is when a dog chews or ingests its own tick collar. It may also occur if an inadequately diluted Amitraz-containing solution is topically applied on the dog’s skin, or if the dog ingests the undiluted solution directly. If a diluted solution is topically applied in the proper way, Amitraz toxicosis occurs quite rarely.

Elderly, sick, diabetic or debilitated dogs and toy breeds are particularly vulnerable to this condition. Curious puppies are probably the most frequently affected victims.


If there has been a recent incidence of access or exposure to an Amitraz-containing solution or tick collar and your dog is displaying any of the symptoms of an overdose, your veterinarian will base the diagnosis on a physical exam.

An abdominal X-ray will typically show that there is a collar buckle in the gastrointestinal tract. The results of an exam may reveal traces of Amitraz on the hair or in the gastrointestinal contents, and a biochemical and urine analysis will often reveal hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar).

Additionally, these tests may reveal an elevated level of liver enzymes when Amitraz toxicosis has occurred, although only rarely.



In the less severe cases of Amitraz toxicosis resulting from topical application, mild sedation after the application of properly applied solutions, or a gloved scrubbing with a dish-washing detergent and large amounts of water may be sufficient as a treatment. More severe cases may require one to two days of inpatient care and supportive therapy consisting of intravenous fluids, nutritional support, and the maintenance of normal body temperature.

If the condition was caused by the ingestion of a collar, then the larger pieces have to be removed from the stomach with an endoscopic retrieval.

In the case of a collar ingestion during which the dog is not yet exhibiting any of the symptoms of Amitraz toxicosis, a 3 percent emetic and USP hydrogen peroxide (2.2 ml per kilo of body weight, maximum 45 ml) is orally administered after a moist meal has been fed. Activated charcoal (2 g per kilo of body weight) that contains sorbitol may also be administered through a stomach tube every four hours until the pieces of the collar bone appear in the dog’s stool.

If the dog is exhibiting marked depression, there are several medications available that can be used until the dog starts showing signs of improvement. An elderly, sick, or debilitated dog may need more time to recover from the symptoms.

Living and Management

After successful treatment, the dog must be closely observed for 24 to 72 hours and its body temperature, blood pressure, serum glucose and heart rate must constantly be monitored. In extremely severe cases, medications may need to be re-administered. There are usually no long-term adverse effects after the condition has been successfully treated.


The best prevention for Amitraz toxicosis is to follow the instructions that come with the topical solutions and tick collars accurately, and to keep dogs in the same household from licking each others’ collars. Also, owners must keep Amitraz-containing solutions and unused tick collars in a place that is not accessible to their dogs.

Is Your Pet’s Excessive Shedding a Sign of Illness?

This article was verified and edited for accuracy by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM on February 2, 2018.

Eyes may be the windows to the soul, but skin is truly the window to the health of your pet.

Our furred pets rely on hair to protect their skin, help regulate body temperature, and insulate the internal organs from cold and heat. Like your own daily hair loss, some shedding is natural in pets. Some breeds of dogs and cats naturally shed more than others, especially during seasonal changes when they are exposed to less light.

But excess shedding can be a sign of disease or illness that requires veterinary care. That’s why it’s important to determine the normal shedding pattern of your dog or cat and monitor it for changes.

What is Regular Shedding?

The amount of shedding that is “normal” for your pet depends on many variables, including its breed, anatomy, physiology, and genetics, said Roy Cruzen, DVM, of Phoenix, AZ.

The amount of shedding that is “normal” depends on the breed of dog or cat and an array of variables including anatomy, physiology and genetics, he said. Ideally an owner should determine a pet’s baseline shedding as soon as it is adopted.

“It’s vital to pay close attention to our pet’s health when it is young,” said Jeff Levy, DVM, of New York, NY. “Allergies and other issues can be detected early and some preventative treatments may be available.”

The notion that longhaired dogs and cats shed the most is a fallacy, said Megan Mouser. Mouser is a certified groomer and Andis Co. animal education manager in Milwaukee, WI. Shorthaired animals have denser coats and generally shed more, but the length of their hair makes it less noticeable, she said.

Of course, there are no hard and fast rules, but some dogs and cats are just naturally heavy shedders, explained Cruzen.

“Labrador Retrievers are shedding machines,” said Cruzen. “When a lab comes in the vet clinic for 20 minutes, we have to immediately go in and vacuum. The floor is covered with hair.”

Akitas, Chow Chows, Siberian Huskys, and German Shepherds match the Lab in terms of shedding.

Cat breeds that are generally heavy shedders include Persians, Russian Blues, Maine Coons, and American shorthairs.

Ideally, owners should brush their dogs and cats once a day, but even once a week is helpful to remove excess hair, increase circulation to the skin and bond with the pet, said Mouser.

The Causes Behind Excessive Shedding

There are myriad reasons why a dog or cat sheds excessively. One of the first things to do if it occurs is to look at the animal’s hair. Does it have a healthy sheen? Does the skin beneath the fur appear normal, or is it flaky, dry, or discolored?

Feeding an Imbalanced Diet

“The number one reason for excessive shedding is a poor diet,” said Cruzen. “People go to discount stores, by a 40-pound bag of cheap food, and then see their pets’ shedding increase. Even though the food meets the minimum quality requirements, it may not have enough protein or nutrients for your pet.”

Although you shouldn’t buy the cheapest pet food, you also don’t need to spend $8 a pound, said Cruzen. A quality pet food generally costs about $4 a pound, he estimated.

“Besides the quality of food, the number one pet peeve I have is giving pets gluten-free diets,” said Pete Lands, DVM, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. A grain-free diet may actually cause health issues in the pet, said Lands. “There are very few breeds that are gluten [i.e., grain] intolerant.”

Using the Wrong Shampoo

If the pet sheds excessively but you don’t believe food quality, intolerance, or allergies are to blame, consider grooming.

“I cringe when people tell me they use their own shampoo on animals,” said Mouser. It’s too harsh on their skin and coats.”

“Rinsing is very important,” Mouser went on to explain. “I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve wet a dog’s coat and it lathers [from leftover soap]. I tell people rinse, rinse, rinse, and when you think you’re done, rinse again.”

Stress at Home

All of the doctors who spoke on this agree that excessive shedding can also be caused by stress. If the pet has a major change in routine, has welcomed a new person or pet into the home, or otherwise had change in its routine, the stress from the changes can cause extra shedding.

If eliminating or lessening the stress does not help, a veterinarian will consider the judicious use of drugs, supplements, and even acupuncture, said Cruzen.

Something to keep in mind, however, is that for pets, a visit to the vet is a highly stressful event, said Katie Grzyb, DVM, of One Love Animal Hospital in Brooklyn, NY “Stress is the underlying cause to excessive shedding in the veterinarian’s office. Nine times out of ten an owner will note that their pet is shedding excessively during a visit to the vet.”

Skin Parasites

If your pet is shedding and excessively scratching, it may have fleas, ticks, or mange mites. Those parasites and the itching and scratching they cause can lead to more serious health issues, including inflammation of the skin and secondary skin infections.

“If kittens have fleas, they can actually cause anemia and kill the kitten,” said Joan Vokes, a veterinary technician in Green Acres, FL. “But if your pet has fleas, check with your vet before you use any products.”

Vokes recounted pet owners using over-the-counter products to kill parasites in their pets, only to cause the pet to be violently ill, in some cases with seizures.

Because these parasites can hitch a ride on our clothing or come through screened windows and doors, even indoor cats and dogs can acquire skin parasites, so it’s important to talk to your vet about preventive strategies for all of your pets.

Hormonal Imbalances, Tumors, and Other Underlying Diseases

Excessive shedding may also be a sign of hormonal imbalances. Some breeds shed excessively after giving birth or after spaying or neutering, especially if the surgery occurs when they are older, said Levy.

Shedding on various parts of the body, clumps of shedding, and skin discoloration may also be signs of an array of serious issues, including bacterial infections, ringworm and other fungal infections, thyroid disease, Cushing’s disease, skin allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and genetically related skin problems.

If the skin of the animal is dark or discolored it could be related to an endocrine imbalance, allergies, or even tumors, said Lands. He advised owners to report any loss of appetite, lethargy, or poor mental state to their veterinarians.

As well as loss of appetite and excessive tiredness, Dr. Grzyb adds that other signs to look for are sudden increase in appetite, including a ravenous appetite, vomiting, or a significant increase in thirst and urination.

“None of this is easy stuff to determine,” said Levy. “The most important thing to do if you suspect your pet has excessive shedding, scratching, or changes in behavior is to consult your veterinarian so we can help you determine the cause and treatment.”

Read More

5 Common Dog Skin Problems

7 Common Skin Problems in Cats

Fluid in the Lungs in Dogs

Pulmonary Edema in Dogs

Pulmonary edema is identified as the buildup of fluid in the lungs. It is often associated with pneumonia, although there are many other possible causes. Normal lungs have fluid that is moved from the lungs into the internal space of the body, an on-going process for normal healthy function. Any added pressure in the dog’s lungs can damage  this mechanism, which leads to fluid buildup in the lungs.

If this excess fluid is not removed, edema forms. Damage can occur if this condition is left untreated, but when treated appropriately, the outcome is positive.

Animals of all ages, genders, and breeds can be diagnosed with pulmonary edema. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types 

Some of the most common symptoms of pulmonary edema are:

Dry coughWheezingCrackling noises during breathing (rales)Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)Abnormally fast breathing (tachypnea)Open-mouth breathing

Pulmonary edema affects both the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.


Some of the most common causes for pulmonary edema are: 

AnemiaPneumoniaCardiomyopathyToo little protein in the blood (hypoproteinemia)Toxins (e.g., smoke and snake venom)An obstruction of the animal’s airwayAlmost drowning (where a high amount of fluid enters the lungs)


Upon examination, the following conditions will need to be ruled out for proper treatment:

Upper airway obstructionBronchitisPneumoniaHeartworm diseaseHeart disease

Typically a blood test will be performed to look for abnormalities, as well as an X-ray to view potential signs of pneumonia.


The type of treatment will be dependent upon the severity of the medical condition. Oxygen may be used to help the animal to breathe, while certain fluids may be administered to aid in the flow of fluids within the dog’s body.

Rest is recommended to assist in the dog’s recovery time. Also, diuretics have proven effective at reducing edema, as they work to force excess water and fluids out of the animal’s body.

Living and Management 

This is a condition that has a high recurrence rate, so ongoing management and observation is often recommended and required.


Unfortunately, there are currently no preventive measures for pulmonary edema.