How to Treat Dog Ear Infection at Home

How to Treat Dog Ear Infection at Home

Ear infections are among the most common dog health issues today. When you suddenly notice your doggy scratching his ear vigorously and frequently, you could be dealing with this notorious condition. Read other relevant articles here. Unfortunately, it may not be possible for you to bring your pet to the vet each time he is sick, especially during the holidays when most vet clinics are closed. Usually, most emergency visits are too expensive, which may not be affordable for you.

The most frustrating bit is that these infections can come back again and again. However, this depends on the form of treatment applied. Antibiotics, for instance, are the most prescribed, yet all they do is set your pet up for just a short while. At some point, these antibiotics may end up causing an imbalance, which could trigger more infections in the future. So, what should you do to get to the bottom of this problem? Is there a way you can handle your pet’s ear infection without a vet? Let’s find out.

What do Dog Ear Infections Look Like?

The first sign to ear infection in your dog is tilting and shaking of the head. Look inside the ears to spot the following:

  • Odor (often sweet smelling)
  • Reddish or brown discharge
  • Swelling
  • Scabs
  • Redness

You might also notice him rubbing his ear against a wall. If he is also walking in circles, showing unusual eye movement, or is having balance problems, check with your vet – he could be having a deeper infection.

Causes of Dog Ear Infection

The structure of the ears of dogs is the same as that of humans. It is packaged with the inner, middle, and external canal, meaning that infections can affect either of them. Infections usually affect the external canal and are pretty easy to treat. These can be handled easily at home, especially if there are no complications.

The middle ear infections tend to be a little more severe than the external ones given that they can potentially harm the sense of hearing. The most severe are infections that touch the inner ear since they can damage the brain leading to neurological problems. Middle and inner ear complications require medical attention from a vet. It means that should you suspect your dog is dealing with a severe ear infection; consult your vet first before administering home remedies.

The culprits behind ear infections in dogs include yeast, hormonal imbalances, allergies, and bacteria.

Bacterial Infections

Bacteria exists in all parts of the body, including the ears without causing problems. Under some circumstances, they could begin to reproduce quickly, causing inflammation. Your dog has beneficial bacteria in his ears, responsible for keeping pathogenic bacteria in check. Sometimes, this balance may be hampered. When this happens, bacteria from a contaminated water body, for instance, could get into his ears and begin to colonize the insufficient beneficial bacteria. If your dog has low immunity, staphylococcus and other bacteria that reside in the ears may overgrow. This can be the case if the infections recur.

Fungal or Yeast Infection

The other common yet normal ear inhabitants are fungi. These live in harmony together with bacteria in colonies referred to as the microbiome. Yeast may overgrow if your dog has a leaky gut or when the immunity is suppressed. Many times, infections result when there is a dysfunction in the immune system. Hormonal imbalances, hypothyroidism, or allergies may be to blame. If these infections occur just once, there is no cause for worry. Simply employ the below natural remedies to control them.

Home Remedies for Dog Ear Infections

Several natural remedies can be employed to control ear infections. Most of them are inexpensive and readily available. Here is a list of some of the most common:


This is a natural plant rich in antibacterial properties. It is known to work well against ear infections. Here is a simple recipe:

  • Pack the leaves or flowers in a jar and cover it with olive oil. You could add a garlic clove in it to increase the antibiotic effects.
  • Allow the mixture to sit for about 2-3 weeks
  • Apply several drops of the mixture in the affected area with a cotton ball

If you would wish to avoid the recipe, you could buy a readily made infused oil.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which is great at removing dirt from your dog’s ears. It can also destroy bacteria and yeast. If you notice soreness or redness in the ears, skip this vinegar because it can be too painful. Put the vinegar in a glass in equal amounts with distilled water. Fill the mixture in a syringe or soak it in a cotton ball and begin to clean the ears.

Oregano Oil

This is a highly effective natural antibiotic. Before using it in or on the ear of your dog, be sure to dilute it since it can cause irritation on its own. Add a drop of oregano oil to a ½ OZ of Aloe Vera gel and clean the ears with it using a cotton swab.

Coconut Oil

This is anti-fungal and antibacterial natural oil. It is also an antifungal ingredient that can be highly effective in infected ears. Under low heat, mix 2 tbsp. of the coconut oil with fresh garlic cloves. A combination of the two is known to have high antibacterial power. Use the mixture to clean your dog’s ears.

If your dog is constantly dealing with ear infections, it could be potentially an immune system problem. In this case, you will want your vet to rule out a leaky gut. A leaky gut may be caused by drugs and other toxins, poor diet, or over-vaccination. Symptoms of leaky gut include blood in dog’s urine. Click here to read more about it.

Almost every pet will suffer from an ear infection at some point in their life. Because dogs are the most vulnerable to the condition, ear infections are among the top 3 reasons for vet visits today. They can be uncomfortable, especially if allowed to fester. Fortunately, whatever the cause, there is always a simple natural solution.

What to Feed a Dog with an Upset Stomach

dog looking sad

What to Feed a Dog with an Upset Stomach

Whenever you have an upset stomach, you probably reach out for crackers or ginger ale to settle your tummy. But does this also apply to dogs with upset tummies? Well, it’s different with dogs. In many cases, a dog will eat grass to clean out its digestive system. This is a natural way of curing an upset stomach. However, this trick doesn’t always work because he may not be in the right mood to eat grass. When this is the case, what should you do to manage your dog’s upset stomach?

Sign of an Upset Stomach in Dogs

Vomiting and diarrhea are the most common signs of an upset stomach in dogs. However, there are others that should guide your judgement including:

Should you notice any of these symptoms, keep a careful watch on your dog and if no improvement is observed within 24 hours consult your vet.

Common Causes of an Upset Stomach in Dogs

There are many reasons why your dog may be displaying signs of discomfort, and it is difficult to narrow it down to a single cause. However, there are some common notorious culprits that lead to an upset stomach in dogs including:

1. Changes in Diet

Most dogs are not selective eaters, meaning they consume anything given to them. The problem with this habit is that sometimes it can lead to tummy problems. The gut of some dogs are more sensitive than others, and tummy aches can be experienced once a new diet is introduced. It is important that you first mix the old and the new diet in small proportions then slowly begin to phase out the old one.

2. Too Quick or Slow Feeding

Your dog could easily get sick from eating too quickly or too slowly. Dogs also tend to overeat, which can create problems later. He might also eat non-food items such as plastic. Foreign objects in the gut of your pet can cause serious gastrointestinal issues.

3. Stress and Anxiety

Just like humans, dogs also get anxious and stressed. This can create tummy problems once the balance of bacteria is rocked, triggering diarrhea and vomiting.

4. Dehydration

Your dog can at times become dehydrated. It is a common scenario among pups especially because their bodies are small. This may be due to a bout of diarrhea. Do a skin pinch test on your pup if you suspect he is dehydrated. If the skin remains in the pinched position for a few seconds, it means he is dehydrated.

Home Remedies for your Dog’s Upset Stomach

Before rushing him to the doctor, there are a few things you can do to control the situation. Here is a list of some of the best home remedies.

1. Keep your Pet Hydrated

Hydration at all times is a very crucial thing to observe especially if your pup is also experiencing diarrhea or vomiting. If he has diarrhea or is vomiting, dehydration may be experienced due to large bouts of water lost through the excretion. Be careful to also include vitamins and electrolytes alongside of water to retain fluids. Pedialyte mixture can help prevent dehydration. Because your dog is likely to resist anything you feed him, you are going to need a syringe and a towel.  Notice that dog dehydration can graduate to severe heights leading to organ failure and even death. Should you try hydrating your dog and notice little to no change, rush him to the vet for treatment.

2. Check the Temperature

Use a rectal thermometer to get the temperature of your pet. Rectal thermometer is recommended because it gives the most accurate readings. The normal temperature of your doggy should be about 101.5 degrees F. If the readings show 102 degrees or above, this is considered a fever and should be checked by a vet. If it is lower than 99 degrees, consider this an emergency and take your pup to the vet immediately.

3. DiarRice

Did you know that rice is a natural remedy for an upset stomach in humans? Well, unfortunately in dogs it can worsen the situation because it is not easy for them to digest. DiarRice is a perfect alternative, a recipe based probiotic with the same soothing qualities of the normal rice. It tastes like chicken and is easily digestible. Mix it with wet or dry food and feed him. This should give immediate results, so if you do not see any changes within a short period, seek medical attention.

4. Probiotics

Does your dog suffer from chronic digestive problems? If so, probiotics could help. Probiotics designed for dogs work in the same way as those meant for humans. These formulas are packed with gut-friendly bacteria which are naturally found in the digestive tract as well as other body parts. They should help in maintaining a good level of healthy bacteria, boost immunity, and prevent gastrointestinal problems.

Natural Remedy for a Dog’s Upset Stomach

You might want to skip medications for your dog’s upset stomach. If you decide to skip them, there are several natural treatments that can work. Before feeding them to your dog, it is important that you first check with your vet to make sure they are safe for consumption. These may include:

  • Rice with boiled chicken: About 4 ounces of chicken and a half would be a great start.

  • Banana baby food and pumpkin: Pumpkin is high in fiber and is loaded with antioxidants meaning it can solve bowel issues. Bananas have many nutrients including vitamin C and potassium. They can boost the immunity of your dog, offer essential electrolytes to prevent dehydration, and stop the growth of bacteria.

  • Plain unsweetened yogurt: Yogurt is loaded with probiotics which can be soothing to the gut. It can also help the intestinal flora of your dog. Ensure the yogurt is plain because sweeteners can harm your canine friend.

  • Bone broth: Bone broth offers minerals and nutrition that can sooth a sick dog. Be sure to make it ahead of time and freeze it.

Medical Treatment of an Upset Stomach in Dogs

An upset stomach in dogs can be medically approached in different ways depending on the cause. If your dog is extremely ill, your vet may prescribe antibiotics, bacterial, or anti-fungal medications. Should he be found to be extremely dehydrated, the doctor may administer fluids. If the case is mild, Pepto-Bismol could help. Before administering, it is advisable to check with your vet if it is safe for your dog and the right dosage.

Every dog will, at some point in life, experience an upset stomach. Fortunately, stomach sickness is not usually very serious, and many a times the problem resolves on its own.

Why Dogs Hiccup and how to get rid of them

Dog with mouth open

Why Dogs Hiccup and how to get rid of them

Perhaps nothing is more amusing than to watch the slow breaths of a dog – well until he begins to hiccup. For a first-time pet owner, watching the body of your doggy jerk with every hiccup can be alarming. Relax; the hiccups are common and completely normal.

What are Hiccups?

These are uncontrollable spasms that cause the diaphragm muscles to contract. Usually, a part of your doggy’s voice box, also known as glottis closes, preventing the air from flowing in. This is what leads to hiccups. Dogs experience it due to the air they take in while eating or drinking fast. Excitement, stress, and fatigue are also notorious triggers of the bouts. It is believed that these spasms can also act as irritation and stomach gas relievers.

What Causes Hiccups in Dogs?

The diaphragm is the primary respiration muscle. It is an internal skeletal muscle that is dome-shaped, separating the abdomen and the chest. The diaphragm moves upwards and downwards each time the dog breathes in creating more room in the chest cavity for the lungs to expand.  Upon breathing out, the diaphragm relaxes. When the dog is breathing in and out, the diaphragm moves in smooth and regular intervals.

Once the muscles twitches suddenly, it is known as a hiccup episode. Swallowing too much air, especially when drinking or eating too fast can cause the episode. Hiccups can also be caused by irritants. Rapid breathing, especially when barking and energetic play, are also to blame. The spasms are more common in puppies than adult dogs.

The reasoning behind this is because younger dogs have more energy and therefore play more. They are also likely to eat and drink fast. They also have less mature internal organs, which may increase their chances of hiccupping. Sometimes, reverse sneezing is confused for hiccups. Should your dog vigorously suck in air through his nose, he is likely to experience reverse sneezing. They do this as a means of clearing the sinuses.

Dog Hiccup Symptoms

How can you possibly tell that your dog if hiccupping? Well, just like humans, you may hear a distinctive “hic” sound followed by diaphragm spasms. A burp might accompany these. Sometimes, you might just see the spasms with no sounds accompanying them. Seizures and retching are 2 conditions commonly confused with hiccups. They sound and appear the same, but these are more serious requiring immediate medical intervention. If your dog is hiccupping and shows other symptoms such as lethargy, coughing, or loss of appetite, inform your vet.

Trouble Signals

Although hiccupping is normal in all mammals, some instances could signal that something is wrong with your pet. As soon as your pet begins to hiccup, followed by the following symptoms, visit your vet immediately.

  • Stomach Issues: Hiccupping coupled with constipation, loss of appetite and diarrhea could signal a severe gastrointestinal problem. If there is blood in his excretion, that is a red flag.

  • A sudden change of breath: if you notice your hiccupping dog change his pattern of breathing suddenly, it could be a sign of respiratory problems. Heavy breathing, coughing, or sneezing should get you to your vet’s clinic immediately. You might also notice discharge around the nose and restlessness.

  • Parasites: if your dog is hiccupping and appears to be too tired, he could be having a parasite problem. The other signs include vomiting, diarrhea, dark, and hard stools.

Each time a dog hiccups for extended periods, it is always a sign of some medical condition. Pay special attention to other symptoms that could accompany hiccupping. If you suspect that something is not right with your pet, do not hesitate to contact your vet.

How to Cure Dog Hiccups

Assuming it is just a normal hiccup, what should you do to relieve it? Like is the case in humans, there is nothing to worry about when your dog hiccups because normally they go away on their own in a few moments. Should they linger for more than 30 minutes even after attending to your pet followed by coughing, check with your vet.

Many old wife’s tales surround the cure of hiccups, and sometimes they do work. Some people believe that startling a person can stop hiccupping, and some pet owners swear by it. Others say that ingesting a spoonful of sugar or eating dry bread can stop them. Some pet owners also claim that rubbing the chest can help.

What You Should Not Do

It won’t be harmful to coerce your dog to drink water or rub his chest. However, some actions can be dangerous. For instance, feeding your dog on sugar to calm the hiccups can lead to a stomach upset and obesity if this is done each time he has bouts.

Startling your pup is not also a very good idea. This can lead to behavioral changes and doing it on a slippery ground can cause injuries.

What Should You Do?

  • Calm irregular breathing: Your aim should be to get him to breathe in a slow and regular pattern. Sooth him by talking to him and stroking his fur.

  • Drink water: Like humans, water can calm bouts. Just ensure he drinks slowly and calmly.

  • Slow down on food: Give him less food more often

You might also want to invest in plates with barriers to control how fast he eats. Your vet might also be in a position to recommend a proper diet to control hiccups.

Never be tempted to give your dog human medicine to control the bouts since they could potentially harm him. Here are simple methods to employ for quick relief:

  • Always feed your doggy on a low-grain diet. High-grain foods can trigger a hiccup.

  • Offer your pet water to control the bouts

  • Get him into an exercise routine. This should control his breathing pattern and keep off hiccupping.

It is important to stress that hiccupping is complexly normal in dogs as long as they last for several seconds to about 2 minutes. They do not need any medication, unless they last long, or you suspect that it could be a medical issue. Read another article here:

How to tell your Dog has Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome dog

How to tell your Dog has Down Syndrome

If you have spent enough time around dogs, then perhaps you are already aware of the many similarities between the canine and the human species. The dark side of the similarities includes the diseases that affect both. These may include diabetes, certain types of cancers, congestive heart failure, among others. Down syndrome is among the most common chromosomal abnormalities in human beings. The question that begs is; can dogs also be affected by Down syndrome? Let’s find out. 

What is Down Syndrome?

Before we find out if dogs can have Down syndrome, lets first explore the symptoms and what it is. Down syndrome is defined as a genetic disorder that occurs due to abnormal division of cells. The extra genetic material leads to developmental changes and features of this disorder. It then causes the face to flatten and eyes to slant. You may also notice mild to severe intellectual disabilities or delays in development. People who suffer from Down syndrome may have heart defects, hearing loss, or eye disease.

Can a Dog get Down Syndrome?

It is easy to recognize and diagnose this disorder in humans. But what about in dogs? Does it affect dogs too? It is estimated that at least 1 in every 700 babies in the US has Down syndrome. This cannot be said about dogs. Although it does affect them, it is rarer in dogs.

There are certain distinct genetic differences and similarities between humans and dogs. For instance, the set of chromosomes in humans is 23, while dogs have 39. It means that the duplication of chromosome 21 would have different effects. This disorder is categorized by 47 chromosome, including the 23 sets and the extra chromosome 21.

It means that by default, dogs have 78 chromosomes making it impossible to diagnose them. The abnormalities lead to early death in dogs. This is perhaps because the genetic testing needed to identify the condition is not done, and is believed not to exist. Dogs may also experience genetic abnormalities which may manifest in symptoms that resemble those of Down syndrome in humans.

Down Syndrome-like Symptoms in Dogs

If you notice signs of Down syndrome in your dog, it is essential that you have him checked by a vet. These are some of the more obvious symptoms to look out for:

  • Abnormal facial features such as a broadhead – You may notice dwarf like features including a short neck, small head, upwardly slanting ears and eyes, and a flat-like face.

  • Hearing problems – Although Down syndrome is hard to notice in dogs, you will see that your dog is too slow to follow or react to commands.

  • Eye problems – Your dog may be at risk of developing a cataract in one of the eyes. Look out for cloudiness in the eyes.

  • Discharge – Your dog may have other conditions causing him to have a bloody discharge from the rectum.

  • Behavioral issues – If your dog is suffering from Down syndrome, he may show certain odd traits such as howling, wailing, or whining. He may also be difficult to feed and tend to have a hard time controlling his bladder.

  • Random pain – Your dog may have abnormally developed internal organs.

  • Thyroid issues – Your dog may have a malfunctioning thyroid leading to poor metabolism. He may have a lower temperature compared to other dogs.

  • Developmental/mental delays

  • Congenital heart disease – This is common because in such cases, your dog has an abnormal circulatory system.

Diagnosing chromosomal abnormalities in dogs can be tough, especially because they can’t talk. Should your dog live to be an adult, you may notice irregular features. Mentally, he may exhibit slow motor functions. Conditions related to Down syndrome include hearing impairment, thyroid problems, poor eyesight, and congenital heart disease.

Because for canines, this is considered a rare disease, many times the dog will die soon after birth or gestation. He may die shortly after birth. It is considered unusual for a dog with Down syndrome to live more than just a few days. Look out for deformed or missing legs. If he has this disorder, his nose will be dry and warm at all times, and his face may appear flatter with eyes turned slightly upward. Your dog may also have missing patches of fur or excessive shedding. If you suspect your dog has this genetic disorder, do not be tempted to diagnose him on your own. Check with your vet to rule the condition out and catch other treatable diseases early.

Caring for your Dog with Down Syndrome

Down syndrome has no cure. The only way to care for your dog is to feed him with a special diet. In his condition, he will be more prone to allergic reactions from certain types of foods. You may be advised to put his food in a freezer first to have all allergens destroyed. Dog-safe cleaning products may be recommended. Your vet should evaluate the symptoms to find out if there is an underlying condition that might resemble this disease. Find out more here

There are many medications and supplements to manage each. Be patient and understand that your dog needs special attention and love. Your vet may recommend checkups and vitamins for your dog to ensure he stays healthy longer. If you notice high amounts of lost fur, you will need to get him sunscreen to avoid sunburns. When placed in the right home for special needs, your dog can lead a full and happy life. If you feel that you do not have the abilities to care for a special needs dog, look for a rescue that caters to animals with special needs to ensure that it gets the care it requires.

What Pet Owners Should Know

Down syndrome is a possibility and not a certainty. A pet owner should be familiar with all symptoms that resemble this condition in order to differentiate when the dog is suffering from other conditions such as cognitive dysfunction and when he is dealing with Down syndrome. You are advised to get a correct diagnosis of this genetic disorder from a professional vet.

If you have a dog with special needs, that is perfectly okay. While there may be no cure for Down syndrome, there are possible ways the condition can be managed. Because there is a reason, he is called “special,” embrace your dog and give him the care he needs to feel at his best. Find out more about other dog issues here.

Dog Constipation: Signs, Causes, & Treatment

dog poop on the ground

Dog Constipation: Signs, Causes, & Treatment

Constipation is the inability to produce regular and normal stools. For a dog, the normal stool schedule is one or twice a day. If your dog is suffering from constipation, he will produce rock-hard stools or strain to defecate.

In chronic cases, the dry and hard fecal matter is held in the digestive tract. It is also referred to as obstipation; a situation whereby the fecal matter is compacted, preventing the dog from defecating.

Signs of Dog Constipation

  • Failure to defecate for several days

  • Pain or distress during a bowel movement

  • Blood in the stool

  • Hard and dry stool that feels like pebbles

  • Dyschezia: This can be very painful

  • Tenesmus: This includes strain during defecation

Why do Dogs Become Constipated?

At some point in life, many dogs become constipated. Although it is not common, constipation is a minor problem that can be solved with various home remedies. If your dog is constipated, he may show signs of strain during a bowel movement, and it may be hard and dry. His appetite may then reduce, and he may begin to vomit.  Your dog may even urinate blood. There are many things that can lead to the constipation of your dog. Some of them may include:

  • Dehydration

  • Foreign body obstruction

  • Ingested grass, dirt and debris

  • Obstruction from abnormal tissue growth such as tumor

  • Medication side effects

  • Insufficient exercise

  • Insufficient fiber in the diet

  • Enlarged prostrate in male dogs

  • Neurological or orthopedic issues

  • Sedentary lifestyle

If any of the mentioned signs are noted, it is important that you contact your veterinary immediately. Sometimes, constipation resolves itself without you figuring out the cause.

Which Dogs are more prone to Constipation?

Older dogs are more likely to suffer from constipation. However, this condition can affect any dog that suffers from any of the conditions mentioned above.

Home Remedies for a Constipated Dog

You may find success with clearing the constipation issues by using some readily available items to relieve your dog of constipation. The following are the foods you could try:

  • Milk: Many dogs, like the case with humans, are lactose intolerant. In a crisis, however, a small amount of milk can act as a laxative.

  • Canned pumpkin: Feed your dog pumpkin to relieve it of constipation. Pumpkin is high in water and fiber content. Either canned or pure pureed pumpkin can be used.

  • Coconut or olive oil: Mineral oil, fruit or vegetable can help in lubricating dog stool.

  • Broth and ginger: In cases of indigestion, a lot of people turn to ginger. This is also a remedy that can work for dogs with constipation. Prepare a ¼ tsp of ginger and mix it with a ½ cup of chicken or beef broth.

  • Cooked green beans: These are rich in fiber and can help in cleaning the colon. It also stimulates bowel movement.

Giving more than necessary of these home remedies can trigger severe diarrhea and dehydration in dogs. Before treating your dog with any home remedy, it is vital that you first check with your vet. Paying a trip to your vet creates the right avenue for tests that could catch and prevent severe conditions.

How is Constipation in Dogs Diagnosed?

Constipation cases in dogs are diagnosed through a medical history or physical examination. Upon evaluating the abdomen, the vet will likely be able to feel a firm colon. Rectal examination may then be conducted to rule out any chances of rectal strictures, foreign bodies, tumors, or any other abnormality. Your vet may also choose to perform an x-ray to determine the extent of constipation and also find out if any obstruction exists. A blood test may also be done to check if there is any infection or dehydration issues. In severe cases, an ultrasound may be performed to identify the cause of the constipation.

Constipation Treatment

Many constipation cases in dogs are easy to treat. If your dog is straining to defecate, it is important that you are sure he has not had a diarrhea episode. Many a times, the urgency to defecate happens after diarrhea. If your dog is actually having diarrhea without your notice yet you believe he is constipating, trying out home remedies will only make the situation worse.  Your vet should determine if your dog is constipating, what caused it, and the best method to control it.

Your vet may need the following information for a proper diagnosis and treatment:

  • The last time your pet had a normal bowel movement

  • Changes in diet

  • Color and consistency of the stool

  • Nonfood items your dog may have ingested

  • Drugs he is using

  • Any injuries

The exam may consist of:

  • Rectal exam

  • Abdominal palpation

  • Barium enema

  • Radiographs of the area around the abdomen

  • Ultrasound

  • Full blood count

  • Urinalysis

  • Neurological exam

Most dog constipation cases can be resolved with mild treatment. The initial treatment may include exercise, hydration, and an increase in dietary fiber in the diet. Enemas and laxative suppositories may be helpful. However, use this only with the prescription of your vet. In severe cases, your vet may choose to undertake the following:

  • Manual removal of feces

  • Use drugs that activate the functioning of the colon

  • Surgery: Sections of the colon may need to be removed to control the constipation

Be sure to maintain a regular schedule of exercise to help your dog avoid constipation. Physical activities encourage sufficient blood flow in the colon for proper functioning. Constipated dogs should also be given enough amounts of fiber. If your dog experiences frequent constipation episodes, consider adding more canned food to his diet to increase the amount of moisture in food.

What Happens when Constipation goes Untreated?

Not relieving the constipation can lead to the inability to empty the colon on its own. This causes the colon to have an overload of feces, which can then lead to lethargy, unproductive straining, vomiting, or loss of appetite.

For many dogs, constipation is an infrequent occurrence that clears within a short time, often not requiring any medical interventions. It is one of the most common digestive issues among animals and affects dogs of all breeds and ages. While it is a common problem, it should not be ignored. Prevent the occurrence by feeding your dog a balanced diet, ensure frequent hydration, and regular exercise.

Dog Mast Cell Tumor: Diagnosis and Treatment

2 vets examining a white dog

Dog Mast Cell Tumor: Diagnosis and Treatment

Mast cell tumor (MCT) is a type of blood cell cancer. These cells reside in the connective tissue, especially in the nerves and vessels closest to the external surfaces, including the lungs, mouth, nose, and skin. The primary function of mast cells is to defend the body against parasitic infestations and also promote the formation of new blood vessels.

How common is Mast Cell Tumor in Dogs?

MCT is the most common skin cancer in dogs and can also affect other areas of the body, including the liver, bone marrow, spleen, and gastrointestinal tract. Retriever breeds and the flat-faced dog breeds (brachycephalic) are the most predisposed to this type of cancer, including Boxers, Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers.

These tumors are graded in terms of the presence of inflammation, the location, and how well they are differentiated. When they form on the skin, they vary in appearance and can appear as bumps on or under the skin, swollen, red, or ulcerated.

Mast cells have granules containing substances which can be released into the bloodstream leading to systemic problems such as bleeding, stomach ulceration, and redness. This can also result in life-threatening conditions, including a dangerous drop in blood pressure. The biological behavior of these tumors can also vary. Some of them can remain in the skin for months without changing in size, while others can form and begin to grow big within a short time.

Veterinarian with dog in examination room

Signs and Symptoms of Mast Cell Tumors

These tumors do not have any characteristic form. They can appear as big, small, soft, raised, flat, or firm. They can also be present on any part of the body, especially the legs, head, chest, and abdomen. One of the most interesting features of these tumors is how fast they change in size. Should you notice a new lump on your dog, report to your vet immediately. Some of the symptoms of these tumors include:

  • Rapid growth of lumps

  • The tumor may appear to fluctuate

  • The lumps may resemble an insect bite or an allergic reaction

  • It can appear on or under the skin for days or months

  • Single skin mass or multiple masses in the body

  • The lymph nodes could be enlarged around the area of the lump

  • The masses could be itchy or inflamed

  • Enlarged spleen and liver as a sign of widespread cancer

  • Loss of appetite

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

These symptoms are also characterized by the stage of cancer in the following manner:

  • Stage 1 contains a single tumor that does not contain metastasis

  • Stage 2 has a single tumor containing metastasis in the surrounding nodes

  • Stage 3 has multiple tumors

  • Stage 4 has a tumor containing metastasis to one organ. It may also be characterized by a widespread mast cell in the blood

The causes of mast cell tumor are unknown.


In the initial evaluation of your dog, the vet will need the full history of your pet, including his health and the history of the symptoms. Whether your dog has given up any food or drinks. The history given will lead your vet in identifying the organs likely to have been affected by cancer.

A biopsy of the suspicions mass may be taken for definitive identification of the grade of the cells, followed by other diagnostics to determine the extent of the tumor. The vet may also examine a sample from the lymph node, the bone marrow, the spleen, or the kidney. Ultrasound images and an X-ray of the abdomen and the chest may also be done to determine the location and the stage of the tumor. Urine sampling and a complete blood count may also be required. The most preliminary test will include an examination of the cells from the tumor.

Prognosis and Treatment

The biopsy taken should determine the right therapy, such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. The grade, completeness of the surgical margins, and the stage of the cancer are the most important factors needed for decision making. Low-grade tumors have low spreading chances, while high-grade tumors can be aggressive with very high metastasis incidences.

Most mast cell tumors are treated through surgical excision. This is especially effective in low-grade cases. If after the surgery, the histopathology report shows that the surgical margins are not clean, radiation therapy may be conducted.  Low-grade cases that are removed completely with adequate margins do not require additional therapy. However, dogs that present high-grade cancer or those with a clear spread of the tumors to the lymph nodes require systemic therapy and could also need extra treatment, also known as multi-modality therapy. Other strong drugs can be used for MCT, including steroids, RTK-inhibitors, or traditional chemotherapy.

If your dog is found to have MCT, he may be kept under supportive medication during the course of treatment. These may include a steroid and prednisone that may kill cancerous mast cells, antacids, and antihistamines. Although prednisone is a drug that works against the cancer cells, it can lead to certain side effects such as increased urination, thirst, appetite, panting, vomiting, and nausea. You may even find traces of blood in his urination. It can also cause bleeding and gastrointestinal irritation. You will find blood in its diarrhea and vomit. Antacids may be prescribed along this drug to prevent or lessen some of the side effects.

Dogs that have had a mast cell tumor before are at a higher risk of developing additional tumors. Detecting these cancer tumors early when they are still small can increase the chances of successful treatment. Tumors that spread quickly and those that form in other parts of the body apart from the skin tend to have a poor prognosis. The treatment of choice is to surgically remove these tumors and the surrounding tissue.

The Management

Your vet may choose to microscopically evaluate new masses and the lymph nodes regularly to aid in detecting the masses early before they graduate to grade 2, 3, and 4. The vet may also require regular full blood count when your dog is undergoing chemotherapy. Because your dog will be exposed to poor immunity, it is important that you boost it with a proper diet and protect him from communicable diseases during his treatment period.

For many pets, including dogs, cancer is an unfortunate reality. Fortunately, veterinary oncology today, is armed with advanced measures of treating the condition. The key to fighting cancer is early detection, diagnosis, and the start of treatment.

What You Should Do If Your Dog is Sneezing?

dog with its eyes closed, about to sneeze

What You Should Do If Your Dog is Sneezing?

Sneezing in dogs is common and normal. But what does it mean? Well, when it comes to sneezing in dogs, it is not always to mean that they are suffering from a common cold like in the case of humans. It could be a result of many things, from minor reactions to dust, due to allergies, kennel cough or to more serious health cases such as distemper virus. It all depends on the color of the discharge, and how often your dog sneezes.

Why Dogs Sneeze

There are multiple reasons dogs sneeze. In many instances, it can be a reaction to an irritant in the upper nasal passages of the nose. These could include perfume, dust, and pollen, among others. It could also be a result of something stuck in the nose while digging in the dirt. If you find your dog sneezing a lot, it could be a result of a change in the atmosphere. On rare occasions, persistent sneezing in dogs can also be caused by nasal mites. As dog owners, it is important that you watch what is sprayed in the presence of your pet. The good thing is; sneezing allows your dog to expel irritants. However, if he keeps pawing at the nose or is bleeding, check with your vet. This could be a sign of an object stuck up its nose that needs to be removed.

Why do Dogs Sneeze while Playing?

When your dog is excited about something or playing, you may notice frequent episodes of sneezing. This is what is referred to as “play sneezing” and is very normal. When he sneezes as he plays, it is a sign that he is having fun and is common among the smaller breeds, although other older dogs “play sneeze” too. If you are playing together and he begins to sneeze, do not panic. Dogs use their bodies to communicate, and sneezes are a tool for diffusing stress and inform the playmate to continue playing. However, if he sneezes uncontrollably and you notice traces of blood, rush him to the vet clinic.

The Canine Reverse Sneeze

If your dog makes a repeated choking noise suddenly, this could shock you. This may not neccessary be due to lower immune system or an infectious disease. It is, however, a reverse sneeze that occurs when your dog inhales loudly through the nose in spasms that sound like a gasp. Reverse sneezing can be a common cause of excessive dust being inhaled. It is believed to be a response to irritation and could help your pet to get rid of foreign objects and irritants in its body. These sneezes may be harmless, but if your dog seems to be in discomfort or can’t stop sneezing, you could help the situation by massaging his throat gently. Also, try to blow in his face to trigger the swallowing reflex. For this type of sneezing, your pet may not require any medication, but some antihistamines may be prescribed in case reverse sneezing is triggered by allergies.

Common Causes of Sneezing in Dogs

Medically, a sneeze means expelling air forcibly from the nose and the mouth in an explosive action. There are common reasons your dog might sneeze, and these include:

1. Foreign Bodies

These are items that should not be in your pet’s nose. For instance, if your pet likes to dig or sniff around, some soil, leaves, or grass could wind up in his nose. Your pet will then sneeze to expel it naturally. Signs of foreign bodies include pawing at the nose, nosebleeds and sneezing. The breathing of your pet might also be noisier than normal, and a visible bulge on the nose may be noticeable. Read about how to deal with issues pertaining to your dog at this link

2. Infections

Many times, viral and bacterial infections, in pets’ upper respiratory tract lead to coughing. However, an infection caused by Aspergillus fungus leads to sneezing. These infections are believed to develop from getting into contact with the fungus through the sinus and the nose. It is an action that occurs when pets are exposed to dust and grass clippings outdoors. Infections can lead to pain when sneezing and may cause bleeding or discharge from the nose.

3. Tumors

These are common in dogs, especially those with longer noses. Tobacco smoke has been linked to nasal cancer in pets. Many tumors are known to spread and can destroy the structure of the nose. Sneezing may signify the presence of nasal tumors in dogs. Unfortunately, dogs with nasal cancer tend to have a poor prognosis.

4. Mites

These are microscopic bugs that can reside in your pet’s nose and sinuses. They can cause severe itching in the nose and may lead to nosebleeds and chronic discharge. If your dog has the habit of digging in the ground with his face, he could suffer from a nasal mites infection.

5. Allergies

Although allergic rhinitis is not common in dogs, it does occur. Pets are susceptible to allergies that affect their nasal passages.

Home Remedies for Sneezing Dogs

Persistent sneezing in dogs and snorting at different patterns could be due to various reasons , it is important to bring them to see a veterinarian. Here are several home remedies to apply before getting to the clinic:

  1. Take his temperature: If the fever is above 101-102 degrees, rush him to the vet immediately

  2. Confine him: Lock your pet in a small room to monitor his behavior

  3. Calm him down: Avoid taking your pet on long walks or engaging him in exercises until you get to the clinic

If you notice other weird behaviors such as poor appetite, difficulty breathing, pain, or an awkward behavior, check with your vet immediately. Also, if you notice nasal discharge, coughing, or blood, let your vet know. These could be signs of a more serious condition that requires medical urgency. Click here to find out how to deal with other symptoms your dog has.

Upon visiting your vet, the following are things that might be done:

  • History: Your vet may ask a few questions about the history of the problem. He may need to know when the sneezing started and recent changes in the behavior of your pet.

  • Physical examination: Because many possibilities can be presented by sneezes, the pet may be examined to rule out severe medical cases.

  • Lab test: A full blood count may be done to identify specific diseases and infections

  • Visual examination under anesthesia: A rigid or flexible scope may be used to visualize the nasal tissues. Tissue samples may be taken for microscopic evaluation.

A dog’s nose is a powerful sensory organ, and the passages are better developed than those of humans. Ordinarily, sneezes in dogs are ephemeral, even funny phenomenon. If your pet is sneezing constantly followed by a fever, swelling or fluid discharge or if there is blood in urine, consult your vet.