The Bugs Are Back In Town. What Do You Need To Know?

Spring brings warm sunshine and colorful flowers… and parasites. Parasites are a real issue in our pets. They come in both internal and external varieties. Some examples of external parasites include fleas, ticks and mites. Internal parasites include heartworms and intestinal worms. External Parasites Fleas are carriers for some diseases, but not many are prevalent for our house pets. Fleas can make pets miserable and flea allergy is a common problem for our pets. Flea saliva is an extremely irritating … Read more

From The Vet: Top 5 Health Concerns For Pugs

Everyone who has lived with or known a pug knows that they are special. Outgoing and friendly, they make people laugh with their comical antics. People love pugs for their cute smashed faces that seem to always smile. Some of my favorite patients are pugs because they always seem happy to see me, frantically wagging their curly tails and spinning around in delight. Pugs have been crossed with many other breeds and I see these “designer breeds” frequently. One of … Read more

From A Vet: 7 Reasons Dogs Are Great For Your Well-Being

I love animals. They are my life’s work and my passion. So naturally, I feel that no one’s life is complete without the pitter-patter of paws. There may be some nay-sayers, but fortunately, I have some heavy hitting research to back me up. Consider these, and keep these facts in your pocket for the next time you meet someone who doesn’t understand all the great ways dogs benefit the people who love them. 1. Animals Promote Faster Healing and Improved … Read more

Ask A Vet: Can My Dog Give Me Worms?

Even the thought of worms inside your dog is pretty sickening, but with TV shows like Monsters Inside Me creating alarm, I get questions like “Can my dog give me worms?” a lot. If I go into the exam room with a new puppy and announce the results of my fecal exam to a mom and kids, for example, the mom’s eyes often widen as she glances at her children cuddling the puppy. When I was little, my mother did … Read more

Ask A Vet: How Do I Pick A Good Dog Food?

How Do I Pick A Good Dog Food? You know what they say assuming does, right? Sadly, I think in some cases, it is true. One might think that it was safe to assume that the labels on dog food are representative of what they contain. One may also think that the ingredients are listed in descending order from most important down. I used to think that I could make decisions about my dogs’ nutrition based on the food labels … Read more

Ask A Vet: Can I Give My Dog An Illness When I Am Sick?

Most people have suffered a stomach bug, also called viral gastroenteritis. Most of these infections in humans are attributed to norovirus. Extremely infectious among humans, it makes most who are exposed ill. According to the CDC, norovirus is responsible for 19-21 million human cases per year. Over 90% of the cruise ship incidents in which large portions of the ship’s crew and passengers fall ill with stomach bugs are attributed to norovirus. (1) In essence, norovirus is not your friend. … Read more

Ask A Vet: Why Does My Dog Stink?

I hear this question frequently and sometimes I am the one that notices the odor myself when the dog and owner are enclosed in my exam room. Sometimes I catch a whiff of my own dog from the back seat of my Jeep. Everyone that has dogs knows that occasionally there are… well, odors. Not all smells are abnormal. When I was in college, I dated a guy who told me that he had adopted a Labrador Retriever because they … Read more

From The Vet: Toxic Jerky Treats-Not Just From China Anymore!

Hannah Wheeler

Does the news about jerky treats have you feeling jerked around? You are not alone. Jerky is a meat product that is cut into strips, treated with additives (like salt) and then dried. Treats made of jerky have been connected with kidney disease in dogs. We have all heard of the toxic issues associated with feeding jerky treats that were sourced from outside the US, but in the last few years such stories seemed to fade into history.     … Read more

From The Vet: Important New Update on Canine Flu

Most dog people have heard of the shocking outbreak of Canine Influenza in and around Chicago. Some veterinarians and pet related media have been instructing people to avoid taking their dogs to areas where other dogs gather, such as dog parks and boarding kennels. Five dogs have died and over 1000 have been reported ill. In addition to shunning multiple dog situations, people were being advised to vaccinate their dogs for canine influenza as soon as possible. The American Veterinary … Read more

Ask A Vet: Does My Dog Have Arthritis?

Any living thing with bones and joints can get arthritis. Osteoarthritis is irritation of the joints and is a painful and common disease among dogs. I usually diagnose it in middle age to older dogs or even in younger dogs that have sustained an orthopedic injury earlier in life. It can occur from normal wear and tear on the joints, excessive repetitive motion (like racing Greyhounds) or from an old injury. Active dogs and working dogs are certainly at risk, … Read more

From The Vet: 5 People Foods You Should Never Give Your Dog

Trust me, I know how it is. My dog is watching me right now because I am sitting at the table. She is hoping that I am eating and that I will share with her. Dogs are a part of our families and they are right there with us all the time. We want to include them in everything. We feel like we are not being fair if we do not share what we have. It makes us happy to … Read more

Ask A Vet: Why Does My Dog Lick Everything?

Does your dog do strange things? Repetitive behaviors that seem to have no purpose? People wonder and ask me why their dogs do many things. Many of them have an explanation that I can elucidate for the owners, but some things really are not that simple. I get a lot of questions in my inbox, on social media and from my clients about this type of conduct and each case is individual and complex. Some of the behaviors that I … Read more

Ask A Vet: My Dog Ate Chocolate, What Do I Do?

I saw a dog yesterday for helping her canine buddy tear apart a bag of Snicker’s minis. Her owner was not sure how much each of them had eaten, but this little dog was the older and smaller of the two. She had already vomited four times. The other dog was acting normal and since it had been discovered quite after the fact, it is a good thing because even small amounts of chocolate can cause vomiting and hyperactivity. Milk … Read more

Ask A Vet: Why Is My Dog Shaking His Head?

Does your dog shake his head and flop his ears from side to side? Does he ever cry or pull away when you touch his ear? He could have an ear infection. Ear infections (otitis externa) are the second most common reason that dogs see a vet, according to a study done by VPI pet insurance in 2013. Most of the ear infections that we see at my practice are secondary to skin allergies (the #1 most common reason pets … Read more

Ask A Vet: Why Is My Dog Throwing Up?

Is your dog throwing up? Dogs vomit frequently and not all causes warrant medical intervention. Some will be self-limiting and not life threatening, but some are dangerous and it is important to know which causes can be an emergency and which can tolerate a “wait and see” attitude. Here are some of the common reasons that dogs throw up. Foreign Body Ingestion When your dog eats something that is not a food item, like a ball or a toy, you … Read more

Ask A Vet: Why Does My Dog Stare at Me?

My dogs watch me frequently. Sometimes the stare is somewhat piercing and searching and I wonder what is really going through their minds. We know that dogs communicate with each other by gazing. In fact, an article in PLOS One (June 2011), looks into the idea of gaze communication in grey wolves (canis lupis), a close relative of dogs. My research indicates that dogs are trying to communicate several things when they stare. Your dog is trying to read your … Read more

Ask A Vet: Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?

Why do dogs eat grass? It is common question and there are lots of guesses. It seems to be a commonly held belief that dogs eat grass when they feel nauseated and many of my clients mention this to me upon presentation of a vomiting dog. Other people think that it is an indication of a dietary deficiency. When I looked into this phenomenon further, I discovered that not much research has been done on the subject. One group of … Read more

Ask A Vet: Why Does My Dog Howl?

Sometimes in the evenings around my house in Tennessee, we can hear the plaintive cries of neighborhood dogs and coyotes. Many times they seem to be responding to sirens or the howls of other dogs. I have heard people say that the sirens may hurt their sensitive ears. My dogs join in and I wanted to know what science says about why dogs howl. Many animal species use long-range calls to establish their use of space and their relationships with … Read more

Ask A Vet: Does My Dog Feel Jealousy?

Dog owners would find this question to be ridiculous in the face of what they see from their dogs that seems to be jealous behavior. I have always heard about dogs’ jealous guarding of a special human or a resource from my clients so I wanted to look into this more. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from a wife that the dog growls at the husband when he approaches or touches the wife when the … Read more

Ask A Vet: Why Does My Dog Bark At Me?

I think we can all agree that barking is a form of communication. I always thought that my dog was barking to converse with me in her own “dog language” like someone who speaks a different language might try to talk to me. Could it be more than that? When someone new arrives on the scene at my house, my dog barks. When she wants me to know that she heard a noise, she sounds the alarm. Dogs at my … Read more

From The Vet: What It Really Means When Your Dog Eats Poop

Dogs eat poop for many reasons, and some of these reasons are unknown. It is a disgusting habit in the eyes of human caregivers. In order to try and figure out why a specific dog is engaging in coprophagia (ingesting feces), it is first important to know which poop he’s eating. The most important thing to know is that coprophagia is considered normal behavior (although gross) in canines. Some people have examined possible causes to try to find ways to … Read more

Ask A Vet: Can My Dog Really Love Me?

Recently my article Why Does My Dog Lick Me? generated some great conversation that I think bears some additional analysis. One of the reasons that I discuss for licking is social bonding, i.e. familial or friendship love. Part of the buzz was a debate whether the love is so obvious and apparent that it goes without saying, but as a scientist, I like proof and facts. Researchers were able to prove that the hormones associated with the positive feelings (in this … Read more

Ask A Vet: What Should I Think About Before Taking My Dog To A Dog Park?

There are many things to consider before taking your pet to a dog park. Here in our area of Tennessee where hiking trails and outdoor activities abound, I do not typically take my dogs to a dog park. I can take a dog with me almost everywhere I go, hiking, biking and camping, but not everyone is so lucky. In some urban areas, there are fewer choices for exercise/fresh air, so dog parks are an important and viable option. First, … Read more

Ask A Vet: Why Does My Dog Bury His Stuff?

Has your dog ever hidden a treat or bone? Have you ever wondered why? The answer lies in who your dog is and where he comes from. My staff members and I frequently give treats to the pets boarding or dropped off for treatment (We are not above bribery!) I would estimate that maybe 1 in 10 will then proceed to bury the treats in his or her bedding. It is really quite cute and endearing. I can think of … Read more

Ask A Vet: Does My Dog Know He’s Been Bad?

Have you ever come in the door to a poop pile and your dog sees you notice it and gets the guiltiest look on his face? Or you open your door to a blizzard of pillow stuffing and your dog instantly slinks away? Clients tell me almost every day that their dog “knew he did wrong.” I know (trust me, I completely KNOW) how easy it is to humanize your pets’ expressions and emotions. I laugh just like you do … Read more

Ask A Vet: Which Pets Are Truly Hypoallergenic? Hint: None

I know what it is like to be allergic to the things you love the most. If you have read my book, Tennessee Tails: Pets and Their People, you will know that several years into my career I was diagnosed with animal allergies. I tested VERY positive for dog, cat and horse. My favorite animals and all of my patients are among them. Not only my patients, but my passion makes me sick! I cannot live happily without animals, so the … Read more

Ask A Vet: Does It Matter If My Dog Came from a Puppy Mill?

You love your dog, right? Why would it matter where she came from? Are there lasting repercussions of your puppy’s origins? Let’s set aside the ethical question about puppy mills and look at what it can really mean to love a puppy mill dog. The ASPCA says that a “puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation that places profit over the well-being of its dogs—who are often severely neglected—and acts without regard to responsible breeding practices.” Since puppy … Read more

Ask A Vet: Why Does My Dog Lick Me?

Our dogs communicate with us and each other using non-verbal communication. As the leader of our dogs’ pack, we must try to understand their cues. Communication with dogs is like trying to understand an alien species with whom we share our world and the responsibility falls to the humans to try to make “first contact.” Better appreciation of what your dog is trying to tell you helps improve your relationship and your bond as best friends. Even if lip licking … Read more

7 Reasons Your Dog May Be Coughing

Dogs cough for a variety of reasons. Just like people, they can cough to clear their airways of debris or mucous, but a persistent cough should be checked out by a vet. All dogs cough sometimes but only a veterinarian can help you rule out some of these causes to pinpoint why your particular dog is coughing and give you a plan for treatment. Whenever I see a coughing patient, I think through these possibilities and then apply what I … Read more