Nine Ways to Prevent Canine Cancer

17 Feb 2014 | Filed in Dog Health

More and more dogs are becoming cancer survivors because their owners are doing their holistic homework. Here, Drs. Richard Pitcairn, Cheryl Schwartz, and Bob Goldstein provide nine at-home preventive strategies to help guard your pet against cancer:

Provide only pure water. Tap water can contain chemicals such as lead, arsenic, and nitrates. Holistic vets strongly advise using a good-quality water purifier to filter your tap water. If you decide to buy a water purifier, keep in mind that although initially costlier than bottled water, it is much cheaper in the long run, costing only pennies a gallon, says Dr. Pitcairn. You may also decide to use bottled or distilled water. Pure water flushes toxins from the body and contributes to the feeling of well-being, says Dr. Goldstein.

Avoid contaminated water. Keep your pet away from street puddles, which can contain cancer-causing toxins such as hydrocarbons and asbestos dust from brakes.

If your pet already has cancer, avoid all vaccinations. Vaccinations can stress your pet’s immune system. For cancer patients, at the very least, avoid vaccinations during treatment because they may counteract any positive and immune-enhancing effects of your home-support program, says Dr. Goldstein. Ask your vet about the homeopathic remedy Thuja occidentalis 30C, which may remove the immune-suppressing effects of vaccinations.

Avoid indoor pollution. Keep your pet away from cigarette smoke. Studies show that secondhand smoke contains hundreds of toxic chemicals that can cause lung cancer in humans. Research also shows a strong correlation between secondhand smoke and oral cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) in cats. In dogs it’s associated with nasal sinus cancer, and even lymphoma, although the connection is weaker. The more people who smoke around a pet, the more at risk the animal is.

Ventilate your house well to reduce indoor air pollution. Grow houseplants that filter the air, such as philodendrons, spider plants, aloe vera, chrysanthemums, and gerbera daisies, but keep the plants out of your pets’ reach. Don’t use harsh chemicals such as pesticides and household cleaners around the house. Seek out natural products, such as vinegar and baking soda.

Keep your dog’s weight under control. Obese dogs are prone not only to cancer but heart ailments, joint problems, diabetes, breathing difficulties, and more. Ask your vet what a healthy weight for your dog should be and strive to achieve it. Feed your dog a healthy diet free from artificial preservatives, artificial flavors, and dyes. A healthy, balanced diet supports your dog’s natural defenses against cancer.

Use natural flea products on your dog.Did you know that flea collars, sprays, and shampoos are full of poisons? Instead of chemical insecticides, use natural and less-toxic methods of flea control such as natural flea shampoos, vacuuming frequently, and combing your pet with a flea comb. Pyrethrins are a natural and safe means of flea control, but need to be applied frequently. D-limonen and other citrus-based methods can be used in dogs, however, avoid D-limonen in cats, as it is toxic to them. Putting borates, salt, or diatomaceous earth into carpet or cracks between the wall and floor is effective for indoor flea control.

Do not allow your pet to ride in the back of a pickup truck.Along with the danger of being thrown out of the truck, your pet will be susceptible to inhaling toxic car fumes and smog. Let your dog get fresh air either by way of a park, beach, or your backyard.

Keep your dog away from pesticides and herbicides on lawns and plants.A report by the National Cancer Institute found that dogs whose owners used weed-killing products containing 2,4-D (2,4-Dichlorophenoxyzcetic Acid) had twice the rate of lymphoma as dogs whose owners did not use it. Cocoa mulch is also dangerous to dogs.

Stay clear of house and garden pesticides. Get rid of pesky insects naturally or seek out the least-toxic products. There are also nontoxic, organic products available.

Keep your pet stress-free.Stress is emotional imbalance caused by anger, frustration, or anxiety. These emotions overwork the liver, where they can stagnate and create tumors, according to Dr. Schwartz.

High anxiety in pets happens for a variety of reasons: neglect, a multiple animal household, an owner going away on vacation, or an owner going through a divorce. Whatever triggers stress in your dog, tune in and help your pet chill out.

Try some de-stressing methods such as: maintaining a regular pet routine (including feeding times and playtimes); massaging your pet; being in tune to your pet’s needs; looking for stress signals (from appetite changes to excessive barking); keeping peace in a multipet household; and providing tender loving care.

Exercise your dog on a regular basis.Research shows that canine fitness not only strengthens immunity to chronic disease such as cancer, but is also essential for optimal health and well-being.

Sustained, vigorous use of the muscles stimulates all tissues and increases blood circulation. Blood vessels dilate and blood pressure rises. As a result, tissues become oxygenated, which helps to clean the cells of toxins. Digestive glands secrete their fluids better, and the bowels move more easily, says Dr. Pitcairn.

What’s That Smell? Tips for Tackling Dog Smells

14 Feb 2014 | Filed in Dog Gooming

Some dogs have a knack for getting themselves good and stinky. Here are tips for cleaning up three particularly offensive (to humans, at least) smells: skunk, dead fish, and “I don’t even want to know what you rolled in.”

ThinkstockBe very careful not to get any of these cleansers in your dog’s eyes or ears -— if you do, flush thoroughly with water and call your vet.

Skunk: If your dog tangles with a skunk, here’s a formula that works for many dog parents:

1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide

1/4 cup baking soda

1 teaspoon liquid soap

Use the mixture immediately (it cannot be stored in a container), while it’s bubbly, and rinse thoroughly. It may discolor fabric as well as dark colored fur.

Don’t leave the mixture on your dog more than a few minutes. Bathe and condition afterward, if you like.

Dead fish: If you spend time with your dog by a pond, lake, or beach, he may anoint himself from time to time with eau de dead fish.

Wash the worst of it off with dog shampoo and water, and rinse well. Then saturate the fishy area with lemon juice – freshly squeezed works best. Let it soak for five to ten minutes — a nice time to chat with your dog. (Don’t scold him — he’s just doing dog things that you could prevent with a leash.)

Then rinse, shampoo, and rinse again, and apply conditioner according to directions to counteract the drying effect of the lemon juice.

Icky, greasy, who-knows-what gunk: If your dog rolls in foul-smelling things he finds in the yard or on a walk, a bath with Dawn dishwashing liquid will probably remove it. Dawn is often used to clean up wildlife that has been exposed to oil and other toxic substances.

Protective Dog Breeds That Are Not German Shepherds

7 Feb 2014 | Filed in Dog Breeds

Guard dogs have personality traits that make them effective at defending their owners and properties. Intelligence, bravery, loyalty and a defensive instinct make breeds like the German Shepherd suitable as guard animals. Other than the shepherd, plenty of other breeds have these same instincts along with extra attributes that are beneficial.

Dogue de Bordeaux

The Dogue de Bordeaux is a large, powerful breed. It grows to 27 inches at the shoulder and weighs up to 100 lbs. The dog has a stout, muscular body and an imposing look. It is a naturally loyal and protective breed but is not overly aggressive. It is gentle with children and its family but will not back down from a threat posed by an intruder.


The Akita is a large, powerful breed, growing to 28 inches at the shoulder. It is heavily muscled, has a thick, two-layer coat and a curled tail. It is a natural guardian and will raise the alarm loudly if it detects an intruder. The breed’s temperament can differs from dog to dog so it is not ideal for families with small children.

Bouvier des Flandres

The Bouvier des Flandres is a large breed that grows to 27 inches at the shoulder. It has a sturdy, square body type with a long, double-layer coat. It is a brave, loyal and protective breed which makes a good family companion. It requires a lot of exercise and may become too playful around small children if not supervised.


The rottweiler is an imposing, muscular breed, growing to 27 inches at the shoulder. If trained well and socialized, the dog is a loving pet. It enjoys time with its family and will defend its people from strangers with intense courage. The dog needs to be introduced to new people before it will trust them.


The kuvasz is a large breed that grows to 30 inches at the shoulder. It originated from Tibet and has a thick, double-layer coat. Its natural guarding instinct makes it a good flock protector and it was used for centuries to defend sheep and cattle from wild predators. It is a reserved breed and does not show huge amounts of affection, but will protect its family courageously.


The komondor is a large breed, growing to 25 inches at the shoulder. It has a distinctive, two-layer, corded coat which looks very much like a mop. This coat protects it from the bites of other animals. It, like the kuvasz, is a livestock protector. It is loving with its family but is suspicious and defensive towards strangers.

Can Dogs Experience Jealousy?

2 Feb 2014 | Filed in Dog News

Anyone who thinks dogs can’t feel jealousy has never met my dog. My French Bulldog, Huggs, is very well-behaved. Trained as therapy dog, he is quiet and low-key, that is until you are not paying “enough” attention to him. He is well known in the family for wanting something anytime you are doing anything else. Whether that means climbing onto your newspaper or casually leaning backwards across your lap so you can’t possibly use your laptop, making dolphin-esque noises when you stop touching him, or squeezing himself between my husband and I, he is either extraordinarily jealous, or the biggest attention-whore known to dog-kind, or both. I’ll go with both.

Don’t mind me, I’m sure you would rather pet me than take this call. Huggs taking over laps and cellphones.

As a kid we had Simon the Lhasa Apso who was happy as can be until we introduced our second dog, a Shih Tzunamed Wally. When Simon wasn’t hiding under the bed in protest, he took to stealing things from the bedrooms and would run by tossing it in the air so everyone would come after it and away from whatever adorable thing Wally was doing. Was he jealous? If he was a kid, we probably would have sat down with him and told him that we loved him and his new brother equally and they get the same amount of attention. But if you are a first born child, you probably felt what Simon felt: that it simply wasn’t true (did I mention I’m the baby of my family?)

I actually had this discussion about dogs and jealousy with my family just the other day. The common consensus was that jealousy is a complex emotion and therefore reserved for human feeling (and squabbling,) not something dogs would concern themselves with. But a new study from PLOS ONE, might make you rethink how dogs think.

Adapting a test that has been used to determine jealous behavior in human infants, Psychologists from the University of California, San Diego researchers were able to determine that dogs do in fact feel jealous.

Researchers videotaped 36 small breed dogs reacting to their owners ignoring them and instead displaying affection to an animated, stuffed dog that barked, whined and wagged its tail. During these interactions with the plush pet, over three-quarters of the real dogs pushed or touched their owners. The dogs also made attempts to get in between the stuffed animal and the owners, or went as far as to growl at the imposter.

The group of dogs were also tested with a children’s books and a plastic jack-o-lantern, which their parents pretended to care about more than them. Although they displayed some of the same jealous behaviors, it was much less than with the fake dog, suggesting, dogs jealousy is triggered by social interaction and not merely by their owners’ ignoring them for an inanimate object.

The findings mirror those of studies of 6-month-old babies who had jealous reaction to their moms interacting with a doll, but were less concerned about moms interacting with a book.

Psychologist Christine Harris, who led the study, says she’s been studying jealousy for many years — but in humans.

So what does she think of the dogs?

The fact that these dogs seemed like they were trying to draw their owners away from the stuffed animal indicates that they’re feeling something very similar to human jealousy, Harris says.

But in the end (as convincing as it seems) the study still doesn’t prove that dogs feel jealousy. “The problem is that [the researchers] didn’t look at how dogs would react just to those objects,” Laurie Santos , director of the Canine Cognition Center at Yale University tells NPR. Jealousy is a complex emotion. If we find out that dogs feel the same way, “either jealousy is less complicated because animals show it, or animals are more complicated than we thought.”

While the study might not be conclusive, there is no doubt that whether your call it jealousy, fear or sadness, dogs feel something when someone or something gets in the way of the love and attention they deserve. This site is filled with information helping dogs to adjust to life changes and additions of new family members, be it human, dog or other. Just like with humans, some dogs are likely to feel the pull of emotions greater than others.

My Dog Chases My Cat. How Do I Stop Him?

27 Jan 2014 | Filed in Dog Problems


Q: I have a 2-year-old male Dachshund/Pug mix and in the last four months he has decided that my four cats are perfect for chasing. He has two other dogs to play with, gets plenty of exercise, and still chases my cats. What am I missing? I know doxis have high prey drives, but why did he start chasing the cats in only the last four months?

A: It’s hard to say why you are suddenly seeing this chasing behavior when you never did before. I assume all the cats were residents before your dog got there? Be sure your dog’s exercise regimen is regular and very exhausting. Exercise can often solve a great many issues right off the bat!

ThinkstockAs for the chasing episodes, he needs to be redirected as soon as the behavior starts and ideally as soon as he starts to get aroused, whines or makes any indication that the chase is about to begin. The faster you can cut him off and redirect his behavior, the more successful you will be long term. Teach yourself to watch for him staring. As soon as he keys into one of the cats and is staring in their direction, call his name or clap your hands. When he looks at you or turns around, praise and reward him. He needs to be taught that another behavior will be more successful for him at the same time he learns that you are not allowing him to practice the behavior you don’t like (chasing).

There is some inherent reward in the chase behavior, so the more your dog does it, the more well-versed he will become. This can become very serious, so being consistent in redirection and correction of this behavior before it starts over the next few weeks will really be important.

That said, I would also correct him if he gets fully into chase mode because you were not able to catch him in time to redirect him first. If he takes off chasing, you need to be right after him, using your voice as a correction tool. I want him to be immediately aware he has made a bad choice in chasing the kitty because Mom is very upset.

When you catch him, without emotion, put him into a room by himself or into his crate for a few minutes. You don’t need to hold a long grudge against him, but he needs to know that his chasing behavior has a serious consequence. Not only will you not allow it, he will have some time alone if and when he partakes.

If you have done any obedience work with him, use your recall (come, here, etc.) to work on calling him off. You may want to review his recall in contexts easier than cat-chasing at first so you can build a reinforcement history for coming when called. That way, you are likely to be more successful when he is otherwise distracted. This practice will help you outdoors as well with his daily recalls or off-leash behavior.

If you ever taught him a reliable “leave it” command, you can use that in this instance as well. Realistically, this takes lots of practice. He should be practicing lots of “leave its” in other contexts to help him understand what is expected of him so he has the best chance for success with the cat situation.

Always reward calm behavior in the presence of the cats. Any time they walk in and your dog is calm, reward like crazy with tasty tiny treats. This will help him make a nice, positive association with the presence of the cats. It will also help him learn to look to you when the cats are around rather than making his own choices about how best to deal with the cats!

I tend to be a little harsh with cat chasing as I have seen it turn into serious predatory behavior very fast — hence my suggestion for corrective measures in conjunction with the praise and reward for any good behavior that happens along the way!

Good luck!

Leslie Burgard

Dogs Think! Dog Training

Furnace, PA

Q: I have a 1-year-old Lab mix who is constantly chasing my cats. They hide in their little room all the time because they’re scared of him. Occasionally he’s jumped on them and pinned them down. He’s fine with the ferrets. Is there any way to stop this?

A: You can certainly suppress this behavior and eliminate it from your dog’s repertoire. The key is not to allow the dog to practice the behavior.

Chasing is very self-reinforcing for dogs. Basically, it is innately reinforcing. When I work with dogs and cats, I put the dog on a very strict training program, making sure the dog can recall away from any distraction. The dog must also be crated to give the cats time to wander. Lastly, the dog should be wearing a drag line so you can stop him from chasing the cats.

Supervision is critical. You can begin by having the cat in a carrier and permit the dog to be close (not too close) to the cat. Call your dog off the carrier and reward him with something he never gets, but loves. He needs to understand that coming to you is worth his while. Also, if he retrieves, I reward with a retrieve — in other words, I am putting the dog in chase mode, but chasing after the correct object.

Information on Dental Care for Dogs

20 Jan 2014 | Filed in Dog Health

To ensure good dental health, a dogs teeth need to be brushed daily using a special toothbrush and toothpaste made for dogs. This regimen should start when your puppy is six to eight months of age, once the adult teeth are in. For dogs who aren’t willing to have their teeth brushed but have a problem with rapid tartar buildup, veterinarians recommend feeding a special dental diet that’s designed to have a crosshatch effect on teeth, scrubbing them all the way to the gum line. Other dry foods and biscuits can help crack off tartar but don’t affect the gum line area.

Other preventive measures include providing dogs with toys and treats that have a tartar-removing effect. These include hard rubber chew toys with hollow interiors that can be stuffed with treats, as well as rope or sheepskin toys, which have fibers that help keep teeth clean.

Periodontal Disease

If a dogs teeth aren’t cared for, the result is sure to be periodontal disease, the most common dental condition affecting dogs. Periodontal disease is the inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting tissues of the teeth. It begins when bacteria-laden plaque and tartar (calculus) build up on teeth, especially below the gum line. Pockets form under the gum line and food lodges in the pockets. These bits of food that remain on teeth are breeding grounds for bacteria. The resulting infection causes bad breath, bleeding and inflammation of the gums, receding gums, loosening of teeth, and eventual tooth loss.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs over the age of three years develop gum or periodontal disease. Any dog can develop periodontal disease, but its seen most commonly in toy breeds. They have the same number of teeth (42) as larger dogs, but the teeth are crowded into a smaller area. Regular brushing is the best way to get rid of food residue so it doesn’t harden and form the ugly brown deposits known as tartar.

Routine periodontal treatment performed by a veterinarian typically includes ultrasonic scaling, subgingival manual scaling, and polishing. For advanced cases of periodontal disease, some dental specialists use antibiotic therapy, which involves cleaning and polishing the teeth, regular home brushing, and administering antibiotics for the first five days of every month. This regimen decreases the progression of the disease. Another new treatment is Doxyrobe, a gel placed inside the socket to sterilize it. This sustained-release form of doxycycline is used in periodontal pockets to increase attachment. If the dogs teeth are in really bad shape, periodontal surgery such as bone grafting and guided tissue regeneration can be performed. For the most severe cases, extraction is the only option.

Endodontic Conditions

These conditions involve broken or abscessed teeth that require root canals or extractions. Endodontic problems are most common in large dogs, especially shepherd and retriever breeds. These dogs chew a lot on such things as fences, cow hooves, and bones, wearing their teeth down and sometimes breaking them. Even chewing on ice cubes can cause teeth to fracture.

Dental fractures are common in dogs, and treatment is a must if the pulp, the soft tissue that fills the center of a tooth, is exposed. This is not only painful, but it can also lead to tissue death and abscess. A root canal is the preferred method of treatment for such cases, although occasionally extraction may be the best choice.

Don’t ignore a broken tooth, even if it doesn’t seem to bother the dog. The majority of dogs are happier and more active once a tooth repair is made.

Oral Surgery

Oral surgery is done usually to remove teeth or repair fractured jaws. Extractions are performed with minimal pain and discomfort, and jaw fractures can be repaired using new techniques that minimize damage to teeth and ensure a rapid return to normal function.

Dogs may also need oral surgery when they’re diagnosed with tumors of the mouth and throat, which are common in dogs. Radiotherapy and recently developed surgical techniques for removing oral tumors are now available. These techniques often give excellent results, both in terms of cosmetic appearance and prognosis, provided they are applied at an early stage of the disease.

Examine your dogs mouth monthly. Oral tumors can go unnoticed until they’ve reached an advanced stage of development, making successful treatment more difficult. Bring any suspicious swellings or persistent sores to the attention of your veterinarian. Besides oral tumors, dogs can also develop noncancerous masses and swellings such as gingival hyperplasia.

Pumpkin and Dogs

13 Jan 2014 | Filed in Dog Food

It’s a fruit! No, it’s a vegetable! It’s a … pumpkin and, believe it or not, it is good to feed to your dog. Although most people think of pumpkins as vegetables, they are really a fruit born from vine plants of the genus Cucurbita, part of the gourd family.

Pumpkins are rich in carotenoids, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, fiber, zinc, iron, vitamin A and potassium. In fact, you can tell the pumpkin is rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, just by looking at its bright orange color.

Pumpkin is really simple to feed to your dog too. All you need is canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is just as packed with nutrients as fresh pumpkin, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Canned pumpkin is a puree so it is easy to mix in your dog’s food, give it to your dog as a treat or use it as an ingredient when you make dog treats, such as these Pumpkin Paw Prints. Look at the back of the label to make sure you are getting 100-percent pumpkin and not pumpkin pie mix.

Can you feed your dog pumpkin seeds? Yes, but most recommend that you first roast them and then grind them up. Do not add salt.

You do not want to feed your dog the stem or leaves, which are covered in little, sharp hairs that will irritate your dog.

See your veterinarian if you have questions concerning dogs eating pumpkin. We never know how dogs will react to new foods, so only feed a small quantity at first to see if it causes your dog stomach upset, such as gas.

Pumpkin is also the pet owner’s go-to food when it comes to

Dog diarrhea and constipation: Pumpkin has high fiber and water content, which are good for correcting and preventing constipation in dogs, plus can help bulk up your dog’s stool. Start with feeding your dog 1 or 2 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin a day, depending on your dog’s size. Pumpkin may not help your dog with diarrhea or constipation if there is an underlying medical condition. Call your veterinarian for advice if the diarrhea or constipation persists.

Helping your dog lose weight: Some dogs needs to lose weight, but their owners don’t want them to feel hungry. Pumpkin is a great low-fat dog treat that fills a dog up due to its being high in fiber. The proper amount of pumpkin to feed depends on the size of your dog and dietary needs. Consult your veterinarian for suggested amounts.


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