The Wet Nose Press Pet Blog

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July 21, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

What Should Dog Poop Look Like?

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Vets spend a lot of time with dog poop – talking about it, looking at it and thinking about it – with the aim of assessing the health of the pet. Poop provides a lot of information, which is why vets ask you a lot about your pet’s poop and request for samples almost every time you visit the clinic. Certain cases of abnormal stools are indicate an emergency; others just seem like one, particularly if you are the one who has to clean up the carpet afterwards.

The Four Cs

  • Color – A healthy, happy body produces stool that is chocolate brown in color. This color comes from bile, which is a fluid that is released by the gallbladder to digest the food, and bilirubin, which is a pigment in the bile. Although some variation from the expected color is normal, there are certain changes that you need to look out for. If there are bright red streaks in the poop, it is a sign that there is a bleed in the lower G.I. tract. Maroon or tarry black stools can be caused due to a bleed in the small intestines or the stomach. Pale yellow or clay-colored stools might be the outcome of problems with the gallbladder, liver or pancreas. The only exception for sudden color change is if there is change in the diet of your pet, like kibble with food coloring which will lead to unexpected flecks of color.
  • Consistency – Vets use a numerical system to score the consistency of pet stool. They have a scoring system that ranges from 1 to 7. 1 represents hard pellets, whereas 7 is a puddle. The ideal number is 2 – a firm and segmented piece that is shaped like a caterpillar and feels like Play-Doh when you press it. Some pets will have stool that is squishier, but essentially the stool should be able to hold its form. If formless stools last for more than a day, you should visit the vet immediately.
  • Coating – The stool of your pet must not have any coating. When you pick up the poop, it mustn’t leave behind any residue. If there is a mucous coating, it is a sign of colon disorder. There might also be bright red blood in your pet’s stool. Although it does sound alarming, a single streak of blood might happen due to a variety of reasons and is not really a cause for concern. However, if the bleeding persists for more than one stool, it is a clear red flag.
  • Contents – If there are rice-shaped flecks or spaghetti-shaped strands, it is a sign that your pet has worms. If your pet munches on grass excessively, it can lead to a G.I. upset. If there are hair clumps in the stool, it is a sign that your pet is over-grooming. He might be doing that for a variety of reasons, from allergies to stress to a whole host of other medical conditions. If you are not interested in playing CSI with the poop of your pet, take him to the vet to enquire about his health.

A lot of cases of intestinal or stomach upset resolve automatically, but if the changes persist for more than a day, or if there are any changes in the eating behavior of your pet, contact the vet immediately.

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July 20, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

When is the best time to switch from Puppy Food to Adult Dog Food?

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Your adorable puppy is growing up and you’ve noticed the signs. Although they seem rather similar, puppies of different breeds grow at different rates. Puppies of larger breeds like Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers grow in a different rate than smaller breeds like a Chihuahua, Pomeranian, or a Yorkie. They need different diets that match their growth needs.

Proteins make up the building blocks of a puppy’s body and they are essential for daily growth and functions. Puppies need more protein compared to adult dogs as their bodies are constantly growing. Puppy food is also rich in calories to provide enough energy puppies need for playing and growing. At least half of these calories are consumed for their growth and development.

When you’re trying to determine the ideal food for your puppy, consult your vet for the best advice. Excessive protein can be harmful and unnecessary, causing the puppy’s bones to develop far too quickly which can result in abnormal formation of joints leading to arthritis as the dog grows older.

When should you switch your puppy’s food to adult dog food?

Depending on what breed your puppy is, most dogs typically will continue growing through the first two years. Consult a veterinarian to gauge your puppy’s body condition score so you can identify the best time for you to switch from puppy food to adult dog food. Your vet can also help with determining food portions and with the kind of nutrients and calories your pet will require.

How can you choose the best adult dog food for your pet?

When you’ve decided to switch your puppy’s food to adult dog food, it can be rather confusing to identify which food is the best for your pet. It is advised that you choose an adult dog food formula from a reputed dog food company that has qualified all feeding trials. This ensures that the dog food has been tested so there are no deficiencies. You may also want to consider choosing a brand that has conducted scientific research to prepare their dog food formula. Brands that consult with veterinary nutritionists are an ideal choice as they manufacture dog food that has been specially created to cater to your pet’s growth and development.

While you’re buying dog food, pay attention to what is mentioned on the description. Terms like “All Stage Food” mean that the dog food formula may contain more phosphorus and fat than the quantities required by your dog. Also read through the composition mentioned on the package so you’re aware what ingredients have been used to prepare the formula and determine if that is the best for your pet. Consult your veterinarian to determine what food is ideal for your dog’s needs.

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July 19, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

Why Do Dogs Shed Their Hair?

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Although shedding is normal for almost all dog types, excessive hair loss could be a sign of some other underlying condition. In this piece, we look at why dogs shed their fur, what constitutes normal shedding, and the signs of a bigger problem.

Reasons for shedding

The fur of your dog helps him to control the body temperature and also protects his skin against the environmental elements and the sun. When his hair stops to grow, he will lose it naturally by shedding. The frequency and amount depends on a number of factors, like the health condition of the dog, the breed, the environment and the season.

How much is normal?

A lot of the double coated breeds tend to shed the undercoat during the fall and spring. This applies more or less to the normal breeds as well. Some of the breeds that shed their hair heavily include the Labrador Retriever, Border Collie, German Shepherd and the Beagle. In certain cases the shedding might seem excessive to you, but chances are that it’s something completely normal for the dog. However, excessive shedding could also be due to an underlying health condition.

Abnormal causes

If there is a big change in the environment, dogs can start shedding more hair than they usually do. If your dog is shedding more hair due to anxiety or stress, then he might benefit from your care and comfort. Consult with the vet to see if supplements or medication would help with the situation.

Some skin disorders lead to bald patches and hair loss. For instance, a parasitic infestation (lice, flea or mites) can lead to excessive hair loss. Dermatitis, ringworm and some fungal infections, cancers and immune diseases can also cause hair loss. If you notice some kind of skin irritation, scab, bump or a rash in addition to all the hair loss, take him to the vet immediately.

Allergies and hormonal changes are another major cause of excessive shedding. Certain medications, foods, grooming supplies and household cleaners can trigger an allergic reaction in your dog.

How can you manage it?

While it is not possible to prevent a healthy dog from shedding his fur at the normal rate, you can ask the veterinarian or groomer for product recommendations that are suited to the fur-type of your dog. With the right product, you can reduce the amount of loose hair in and around your home. If there is an increase in the frequency at which your dog sheds hair, then there is a possibility that he suffers from some underlying condition. If you are worried that your dog is experiencing excessive hair loss due to stress, a pest infestation, or a hormonal imbalance (like Cushing’s disease), work with the vet to pinpoint the underlying cause and treat it appropriately.

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July 18, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

How to Prevent Your Dog From Gaining Weight During Winter

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We all struggle with weight gain during the winter months. Whether your struggle lies in preventing it, or shedding the weight afterwards, you need to understand that weight gain in winter is a fact of life that even a lot of the animals living in seasonal climates have to contend with. As the temperatures drop, their level of activity and metabolism rate drop with it, and they go into hibernation mode. This is not just limited to the animals living out in the wild.

Even though we have come up with a lot of ways to stay active and warm, our bodies tend to react with evolutionary preservation methods. This is true for humans and domesticated pets and that’s where the struggle lies. If an active dog starts going outside just for speedy breaks, then it is a sign that the food he is consuming is not getting converted to energy.

Meanwhile, you make hardier and larger meals at home, stocking up the leftovers from your holiday meals. Also, a lot of you tend to include your pets in most of your household activities, and that includes sharing your food with them. All the extra eating might cause your canine friend to pack a few extra pounds. So, what can you do the keep the issue at bay?

Prevention

If your pet’s in good shape and is normally active, create an exercise regimen for the winter months so that he can continue to stay active. These might include games like indoor fetch, a romp through the backyard snow or a brisk hike around the neighborhood when it isn’t snowing a lot. Make sure that your dog gets out as much as possible so that he can burn off those extra calories.

It is quite difficult to maintain a daily exercise routine during the peak winter months. In such cases, you must think about cutting back on the calorie intake to account for the lowered metabolic and physical activity. Fewer treats should make all the difference.

Weight loss regimen

If your pet is overweight, you will need to plan it out a bit more as you have to maintain his current weight even if it is more than his ideal body weight. Unless the vet recommends a specific plan, you need to be careful with how much you exercise your pet and reduce his intake. Treats must be eliminated, but you shouldn’t cut down on the food dramatically.

Before you embark on an exercise or weight loss plan, you need to check for underlying conditions which might be contributing to the weight gain. Only then is it possible for you and your vet to come up with a sensible diet and a structured exercise program.

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July 15, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

How To Treat Bladder Stones In your Dog?

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Some of the most striking X-rays you will ever get to see are the ones that reveal the presence of large stones in your dog’s bladder. Till you see one of these X-rays, you might just find your dog a little off-putting. This is not unreasonable, considering the fact that your dog tends to have a lot of accidents in the house and needs to go outside to relieve himself on an hourly basis. However, after you see the X-ray, most of you will just be shocked that your dog was not acting sicker than he did.

What are the tell-tale signs that you need to look out for?

Bladder stones, by their very nature, tend to start out small and can grow in size and number with time. Dogs that have bladder stones typically have one or more of the following symptoms:

  1. Urinary accidents
  2. Straining to discharge urine
  3. Frequent attempts to urinate without producing the desired result
  4. Discolored urine
  5. Licking the urinary opening

These signs are also symptomatic of a host of other diseases that tend to affect the urinary tract (tumors or infections, for instance). You need to take your pet to the vet if you notice any of the above symptoms. He will confirm the bladder stones with an ultrasound or an X-ray.

How are they formed and how can they be treated?

Usually, bladder stones are a collection of minerals and a bunch of other materials. Most of them are made of struvite, urate, calcium oxalate or cysteine crystals. In a lot of the cases, it is possible to see the specific type of crystal causing the problem by examining the urine sample under a microscope.

If struvite stones are the diagnosis, your vet will treat the underlying cause (for example, antibiotics for a urinary tract infection) and might recommend a specially formulated therapeutic diet that will aid in dissolving the crystals and stones. You will have to give your dog the antibiotics along with the therapeutic dog food and possibly even longer if needed. Surgery and other procedures like lithotripsy (using ultrasonic waves to break up the stones) might be necessary to get the stones out of the bladder. The diet needed for dissolving the struvite stones must be given under the supervision of the vet. Most of them are formulated with the intention of making the urine more acidic so that the stones can be easily broken down. If the acidification is taken far, it can result in the formation of calcium oxalate stones.

What’s the best way to prevent them?

Once the stones have dissolved, diet plays a major role in preventing their recurrence. Pet food manufacturers have specially formulated foods that are meant to deter the formation of calcium oxalate, struvite, cystine and urate crystals. You also need to make sure that your pet gets adequate amounts of water as it is much less likely for the crystals to form in dilute urine.