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Thanksgiving Safety for Dogs: Get it Right!

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    Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season, with many gatherings filled with food and family. However, the holiday may not be quite as joyful for your canine companion. From an interrupted routine to dangerous foods, Thanksgiving, unfortunately, presents many hazards to our four-legged friends. Read below to learn how you and your pet can have a safe, stress-free holiday this year with our guide on Thanksgiving safety for dogs.

    Do’s & Don’ts for Thanksgiving Foods

    One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the feast itself. However, many traditional Thanksgiving foods are high in fat, contain bones, or include ingredients that are hazardous to dogs. Head into your meal equipped with knowledge of what is and what is not harmful to your dog. 

    Foods to Avoid Sharing with Dogs

    • Turkey: Turkey including the skin can cause pancreatitis, a life-threatening condition. Dark, fatty meat is especially hazardous to your pup. In addition, be aware of carcasses and bones which pose a great choking hazard and can even splinter inside the digestive tract. 
    • Dough containing yeast: Yeast can cause painful gas and bloating which may lead to a stomach blockage. This is because the yeast in the dough makes it rise and expand. In addition, the natural fermentation of the yeast in your dog’s stomach can lead to alcohol poisoning. 
    • Garlic and onions: Garlic and onions, as well as other variations of the vegetable (leeks and chives), are common in many traditional Thanksgiving dishes including green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. Steer clear of feeding your dog any foods with these ingredients as they are toxic. The toxicity causes damage to your dog’s red blood cells resulting in anemia. These foods also lead to GI upset. 
    • Grapes: Grapes, as well as the dried versions of the fruit, such as raisins and currants, are hazardous to your canine companion. These are often found inside dishes such as stuffing at your Thanksgiving meal. Grapes’ toxicity can cause harm to dogs’ kidneys and affect urine production. 
    • Pie and desserts: Many pies and desserts served at Thanksgiving contain toxic ingredients including chocolate and xylitol. In addition, desserts are often high in fat which is dangerous to dogs. 

    Safe Foods to Feed Dogs at Thanksgiving

    • Sweet potato & potato: Raw, unseasoned sweet potatoes and potatoes can be shared with your dog at Thanksgiving. Sweet potatoes are actually filled with nutrients that are beneficial to canines. Just be sure to stick to raw or dried bits, no canned goods. 
    • Green beans: Green beans are a safe treat for your pup, like potatoes, steer clear of seasoned or dressed green beans – keep them raw and hazard-free. 
    • Pumpkin: Pumpkin is tasty and loaded with fiber for dogs, raw or cooked. Always use fresh 100% pure pumpkin, not to be confused with canned pumpkin pie filling that is hazardous. 
    • Apple: Apple slices make for a yummy treat for your dog, just be sure to steer clear of the core and seeds, as consuming too many seeds may be toxic.

    Thanksgiving Celebration Precautions

    Holiday gatherings can pose a number of risks to your canine companion. Follow the tips below to prepare for your Thanksgiving celebration while keeping your dog safe and stress-free. 

    • Put trash away: Be sure the garbage is secured in a place where your dog is unable to access it. Either hide the garbage can away or have a secure lid. Packaging from foods poses a risk to your dog if consumed. Strings and other items used to wrap and tie meat products can be deadly. In addition, you don’t want your dog accessing bones or any other scraps in the trash. 
    • Make sure food is inaccessible: Don’t let Fido jump on countertops or tables during your meal preparation or meal. If your dog is known to be a counter surfer, consider crating or gating them in a separate area of the house while food is present.   
    • Create a “safe space”: With Thanksgiving comes new visitors, larger crowds, and increased activity. These factors may cause stress to your dog. If your dog is nervous or overly excitable with visitors, set them up in a secluded room or crate with their favorite toy or bone. If you do let your dog interact with visitors, always be sure they have access to a “safe space” such as their crate, so they can excuse themselves and relax away from the activity. This way, both your pet and visitors are safe and comfortable. 
    • Put away guests’ bags: As guests arrive, be aware of their purses and suitcases and put them away in a closet or somewhere inaccessible to your dog. While you may be aware that your pup loves scavenging for goodies in purses, your guests may not be. Keeping bags out of sight prevents the likelihood of your dog consuming something hazardous. 
    • Update Microchip & ID Tags: With visitors comes increased traffic in the household, including a lot of in and out through doors. Even if your pet is not typically a door bolter, all of the added activity may cause stress leading to a slip through the door. To be safe, make sure their collar is secured and update their microchip information and identification tags ahead of time. An owner’s name, address, and phone number are crucial to reuniting a lost pet with their beloved owner. 
    • Keep an eye on festive decor: Items to keep an eye out for include pine cones, festive plants, and other attractive decor. These may intrigue your pet leading to intestinal blockages and GI upset. Also, be vigilant around lit candles, a wagging tail or jumping dog can easily knock over a candle resulting in a fire. 

    Thanksgiving Travel Precautions

    Traveling is a fun and often essential part of Thanksgiving. However, it may not be as fun for your dog. Follow the tips below to ensure your pet has a safe and comfortable travel experience this holiday. 

    golden retriever hanging out of car
    • Proper and safe restraint in the car: There are many harnesses, seatbelts, and carriers built for dogs of all shapes and sizes to ensure proper restraint in the car. Utilizing this gear ensures your dog is protected when making a sharp turn or, braking suddenly, or getting in an accident. Just be sure wherever they are restrained in the car, the area is clear of airbags. In addition, restraint ensures your pet is unable to access hazardous food or cause distractions to the driver. 
    • Consult with a veterinarian about air travel: Traveling by airplane can pose a risk to your pet, especially short-nosed dogs. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian if you are considering your dog boarding an airplane. They will go over the potential risks based upon your dog’s age, breed, health status, etc. They may also prescribe medication to keep them calm.
    • Pack Fido’s bag: You probably have your own bag stocked and ready to go for your trip, but be sure that your dog does too. Include essential items: 
          • Up-to-date medical records including proof of vaccinations
          • Favorite toys and comfort items 
          • Medications (including a surplus supply just in case) 
          • Crate and bed 
          • Food and clean water along with dishes
          • Collar (with current ID & Rabies tags) 
          • Pet first aid kit 
          • Primary veterinary information 
    • Emergency veterinary information: While you should have your dog’s primary veterinarian’s contact information on hand, we highly recommend doing some research before hitting the road. Compile a list of emergency veterinary contact information in the areas you’ll be traveling through. This way, if any issues arise, you’ll be able to act quickly and secure care for your dog. 
    • Update microchip, ID tags, and travel tags: With a lot of in and out of the car, restroom breaks, and unfamiliar territory, it is essential to update your dog’s microchip information and ID tags prior. An owner’s name, address, and phone number should be up to date and secured to their collar. In addition to their normal identification tags, consider creating a travel tag. Include your typical information accompanied by contact information for your travel accommodations such as the hotel, family’s house address, etc.
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    What is Canine Atopic Dermatitis?

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      Watching your dog itch themselves raw can be distressing, especially when you can’t pinpoint the cause. A common cause of intense itching is canine atopic dermatitis which luckily, can be controlled with the right changes to diet and environment as well as medication.

      What is Canine Atopic Dermatitis?

      Canine Atopic Dermatitis is a chronic skin condition that is a result of allergies leading to itchy skin and inflammation. It happens to be the second most common skin disease among dogs. 

      What Causes Canine Atopic Dermatitis?

      Atopic Dermatitis is a result of allergies in dogs. Pollen, animal dander, plants, and insects are the most common allergens that cause dog allergies, but dogs can also be sensitive to food and medications. Itching, scratching, and grooming are among the signs of allergies. Other symptoms include sneezing, watery eyes, paw chewing, and skin irritation. When humans have allergies, we sneeze, have a runny nose and watery eyes but dogs react to allergies with  skin and/or gastrointestinal problems.

      In dogs, allergic dermatitis (atopy) is caused by a genetic tendency to develop allergy symptoms after repeated contact to an otherwise innocuous chemical (an “allergen”). Allergic symptoms usually appear between the ages of 1 and 3 years. Since the condition is inherited, some dogs are more likely to be afflicted with it than others.

      Common Allergens

      Staphylococcus Hypersensitivity

      Bacterial hypersensitivity occurs when a dog’s body overreacts to typical Staphylococcus (Staph) germs. Dogs with hypothyroidism, inhalant allergy, and/or flea allergy are more prone to develop hypersensitivity to microorganisms. Microbiological tests are used to identify bacterial hypersensitivity. Bacterial hypersensitivity is characterized by certain alterations in the skin’s blood vessels.

      Contact and Inhalant Allergies 

      Pollens from grasses, trees, and weeds, dust mites, and molds can trigger an allergic reaction in dogs, just as they can in people. The timing of the reaction might be used as a hint to diagnose these allergies. If so, how often does it occur? There’s a chance it’s mold or dust. Toxic pollen may be to blame if the allergic response is seasonal.

      Food Allergies

      Since their pets have eaten the same diet their whole lives, many people do not identify food allergies as the source of their dog’s scratching. As a result, this finding does not rule out the possibility of food allergies in animals. Some believe that dogs are only sensitive to bad food. Irritation caused by a particular component in dog food does not matter whether the product is costly or not. Premium foods have the benefit of avoiding common fillers that might cause allergic responses.

      Flea Allergies

      Dogs aren’t necessarily allergic to the fleas or flea bites, but their saliva. Dogs who are only 

      Exposed to fleas occasionally are more likely to be sensitive to flea saliva than those who are infected more often. The effects of the saliva from a single flea bite can last from five to seven days, so you don’t need many fleas to make your dog uncomfortable. 

      What are the Symptoms of Canine Atopic Dermatitis?

      The common clinical signs of atopic dermatitis include:

      • Compulsive licking or lick granuloma in dogs 
      • Scratching of their face, paws, ears, groin
      • Watery eyes
      • Sneezing
      • Itching
      • Scratching
      • Rubbing
      • Licking
      • A yeasty smell
      • Greasy skin
      • Redness or tough skin

      How is Canine Atopic Dermatitis Diagnosed?

      Testing for allergies is the best way to diagnose and treat dogs with moderate or severe allergies. There are a variety of testing procedures. Tests for antigen-induced antibodies in the dog’s blood are most common. Intradermal skin testing is another option. The antigen is then injected into a section of the dog’s skin that’s been shaved in a precise order, so that if the dog reacts, the antigen may be recognized. After that, the shaved region is inspected to find out if any antigens caused a reaction (this might take many hours).

      What is the Treatment for Canine Atopic Dermatitis?

      There are multiple different treatment options for treating atopic dermatitis but it will depend on both the actual cause of the allergy, the severity and what the dog reacts best too.

      Medicated Baths 

      Numerous medicinal shampoos include ingredients designed to soothe inflamed skin. Bathing your dog regularly can also help eliminate allergens from the hair coat, which can lead to skin allergy flare-ups. This includes antibacterial and antifungal agents, along with substances that allow bathing the skin on a more frequent basis without causing it to become dry. The use of a rinse thereafter also helps to prevent the skin and hair coat from drying out.


      Antihistamines can be given to dogs with little risk. Some owners have had success using antihistamines. As a rule of thumb, these medicines tend to have a varied effect on different dogs. It has been shown that antihistamines are highly effective at treating allergic skin conditions in some dogs. It has a negligible effect on other breeds of dogs. As a result, owners should try at least three different types of antihistamines before giving up. These include Benadryl, Chlortrimeton, Atarax and Zyrtec. Antihistamines, on the other hand, are generally seen to be worth a shot because of their minimal risk of adverse effects and their affordability.

      Antibiotic and Antifungal Meds

      Secondary skin infections are often treated with antibiotics. Secondary yeast infections are often treated with antifungal medicines. These should only be prescribed by a veterinarian.

      Flea Control

      Flea management is essential for dogs with an allergy to flea saliva. It’s imperative to keep flea preventative on your dog. It’s available orally and topically. It’s important to do research prior to purchasing as many brands come out with new formulas each year to battle ever adapting fleas.


      Skin health is improved by Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acid supplementation. Fatty acids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties in the natural world. Many dogs with allergies benefit from these products. The fact that they are non-toxic and have almost no adverse effects makes them worth a shot. 

      Hypoallergenic Foods

      Hypoallergenic meals include proteins and carbs that your dog has never eaten before, because allergies are the result of exposure. Tests for food allergies are the fastest and most accurate way to discover which foods your dog could or might not be allergic to. 80% of dog food allergies are caused by dairy, meat, and wheat, therefore these foods should be avoided. For example, hypoallergenic diets utilize venison, duck eggs and other non-traditional protein sources, such as duck, kangaroo, and a variety of fish. Potatoes, peas, yams, sweet potatoes, and canned pumpkin are all good sources of carbohydrates.

      Diets including hydrolyzed protein are those in which the protein source has been synthesized into tiny pieces before being consumed. As a result of providing a hydrolyzed protein source, allergy-prone dogs’ immune systems are supposed to be unable to identify the protein fragments and build an immunological response, resulting in an allergic reaction to the meal. 

      A store-bought hypoallergenic diet works well for most pets with food allergies, but sometimes an animal’s allergies are so severe that a customized diet is the best alternative. Veterinarians should be consulted in order to tailor the diet in this scenario.

      Immunosuppressive Agents and Corticosteroids 

      You can reduce itchiness using cortisone products such as dexamethasone, prednisolone, and prednisone. There are adverse effects associated with these medicines, therefore they should be taken with caution while treating skin allergies. Steroids should only be used if the allergy season is brief, the dosage is minimal, or the dog is in significant pain. Increased thirst and appetite, increased urination, and behavioral changes are some of the possible side effects. Diabetic complications and a weakened immune system are possible side effects of prolonged usage. There are certain canines that can only be adequately managed with a long-term, low-dose alternate day treatment.

      “Cyclosporine,” also known as Atopica, is an anti-inflammatory drug that has been shown to be quite successful in treating skin allergies in dogs.

      Immunotherapy (Hypo-sensitization) 

      Many individuals have had tremendous success with allergy injections, but they take a long time to work. It may take six to twelve months for the condition to improve. An immunotherapy for that individual dog may be created after allergies have been identified and the dog’s treatment can begin. An injection containing a combination of these antigens can be created when the problematic antigens have been identified. They are administered over a period of weeks to months depending on the type of agent used, until the dog develops immunity to the agent. It may be necessary to give a booster shot every now and then after initial protection.

      Controlling Environment Factors

      Anti-allergy medication is most effective if you know the things your dog is allergic too. Avoiding the allergen completely is preferable than desensitizing your dog with allergy injections. By using a dehumidifier, or by adding activated charcoal on top of the soil on your houseplants, you can limit the growth of molds. For the greatest dust and pollen management, use a HEPA air cleaner. A/C can also help minimize the quantity of airborne allergens that circulate since the windows are kept closed.

      Medicine for Thyroid 

      Numerous variables, both external and internal, contribute to the maintenance of healthy skin. As well as maintaining a proper skin surface, many glands in the body produce hormones that are essential for various body functions. When the thyroid is underactive, it can affect the skin and hair coat, resulting in thinning hair and dull, brittle hair, as well as skin that is oily or dry. When it comes to determining if your dog has hypothyroidism, a blood test is the easiest and most straightforward approach.

      In order to cure hypothyroidism, thyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone, is taken daily (levothyroxine). In order to determine the efficacy of the dose and make any required changes, blood samples will need to be taken on a regular basis.


      To conclude, when it comes to managing an atopic, allergic dog, it may be difficult and irritating since it usually takes a variety of approaches to control the allergy flare-ups. To optimize the chances of healing or at least managing a seriously afflicted allergic patient, a veterinarian’s proper diagnosis, owner compliance, and follow-up treatment are critical. You can find a veterinary dermatologist near you in our specialist directory or find products to help with atopic dermatitis in our product directory!

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      A Veterinarian Shares Her Tips for Raising a ‘Forever Dog’

      Dog lovers know there’s nothing quite like the joy a four-legged companion brings to your life, especially during times of stress. Our pets may be our best friends — but do we know how to make sure their lives are as long, healthy and happy as can be?

      Not always, says Karen Shaw Becker, a veterinarian in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Dogs are dying prematurely of more chronic disease than ever before,” she writes in her new book The Forever Dog: Surprising New Science to Help Your Canine Companion Live Younger, Healthier and Longer, coauthored with animal activist Rodney Habib. Becker, who also coauthored a popular cookbook, Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats, is a proponent of a proactive approach to veterinary care — helping people create the kind of healthy lifestyles for their animals that can prevent disease, rather than simply treating problems as they arise.

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      Halloween Safety for Dogs 101

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        Photo Credit: SVETIKD

        Halloween is right around the corner. We are all getting prepared for the big day, fitting our pets for costumes, finding pet-friendly events to take them too and more. But do you know about Halloween safety and ensuring your dog is safe on Halloween? Here are some Halloween safety tips for your pup:

        Keep Treats Away (and Offer Alternatives)

        Photo Credit: Ruffle Snuffle

        The majority of treats and candy that are given out on Halloween are toxic to dogs. It may be tempting to count out all the collected candy on the floor post-trick or treating or to leave the bowl of candy right next to the front door, but these are easy access points for pups. Some common Halloween treats that are toxic to dogs include:

        • ​​Chocolate (especially dark chocolate)
        • Raisins and chocolate-covered raisins
        • Candy corn
        • Macadamia nuts
        • Sugar-free candy (they use a toxic substitute called xylitol)
        • Caramel apples

        If you want your dog to be able to partake in the festivities, you can make them their own Halloween treats

        Be Aware of Decoration Dangers

        Many decorations pose a threat to dogs as well as your home. For example, a dog can easily knock over a jack-o-lantern with a candle inside. Certain Halloween plant decorations are relatively nontoxic to dogs including decorative corn but they may cause stomach discomfort if nibbled on. Some other dangerous include:

        • Rubber eyeballs (choking hazard)
        • Fake blood and glowsticks (possibly poisonous)
        • Fake cobwebs (choking hazard and they can be twisted up in them)
        • String lights (strangulation) 

        Block the Front Door and Keep Them Calm

        Constantly opening the door for trick or treaters are constant opportunities for your dogs to dart. Keep the dogs behind a dog gate or put them in a bedroom when someone comes up to your door. On top of that, dogs may be spooked by the dressed-up children and not react so friendly. If people coming to the door may stress your dog out, you may want to give them some CBD before or talk to your vet about anxiety medication.

        Be Careful With Costumes

        Photo Credit: @2husketeers

        Wearing a costume can cause undue stress in pets. Just because they look adorable does not mean that you should do it. If your pet is showing signs of being in distress or any abnormal behavior while in a costume, opt for a festive bandana or their birthday suit instead.

        For pets who will wear a costume, make sure they can move freely and it does not restrict their movement, sight, ability to bark or breath. Inspect the costume for any possible choking hazards like small, dangling bits and remove them. You should also not leave the costume on when the pet is unattended. This may result in strangulation as they can easily become twisted up in them.

        Light Them Up

        If you are taking your dogs out on Halloween night, make sure they are easily spotted. You can get them a light-up collar, light-up leash, or light to attach to their collar. It may be tempting to run across the street to the next house with everyone else but drivers are often distracted Halloween night and may not see your pup being dragged behind you.

        Bring Them Inside

        Pets absolutely should  not be left unattended outside on Halloween night. Unfortunately, pets have been the victims of Halloween tricksters and pranks that have resulted in pets being injured, stolen, or even killed.

        Prepare for the Worst

        It is always better to be safe than sorry. Ensure your pets’ tags are up to date as well as their microchip. If your pet has a microchip and it hasn’t been registered, you can register for free with Found Animals. If they do happen to escape, this increases their chances of being reunited with you. Also, keep the number for poison control readily available in case they happen to ingest some of the treats.

        ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline: (888) 426-4435.

        Halloween is a holiday that most of us love and we love to have our pets involved. But, it’s a holiday that offers numerous dangers that we might not think about. Do you have any helpful Halloween safety tips? Let us know in the comments! 

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        Benefits of Playing Fetch With Your Dog

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          Fetch isn’t just a fun game to play with your dog but it actually presents multiple benefits for both owner and dog! Some benefits of playing fetch with dogs might be surprising to you as it’s more than just exercise. Plus, we also offer alternatives to fetch that are just as beneficial!

          Improve Behavior and Enhance Mood

          Fetch is just one of many games you can play with your dog to help improve their mood and behavior. This is done by wearing them out and a worn-out dog is less likely to be destructive and anxious. Plus, certain breeds need some kind of “job” and fetch can be treated like a job to them. Even more so, the attention you give them while playing fetch can also increase their mood. They love the attention you’re giving them and you can see that in the nonstop tail wagging as they bring the toy back to you each time.

          owner playing fetch with dog in field

          Promote Their Physical Wellbeing

          Fetch is an excellent way to keep your dog healthy! Not everyone can take their dog out for daily walks and playing fetch is a great way for dogs to get the exercise they need. Regular exercise is key in preventing obesity in dogs which can then lead to numerous other health problems like osteoarthritis.

          Because they may be lying down all day while you’re at work, being able to play or go outside can assist preserve their healthy organs and lubricate their joints

          Mental Stimulation

          Fetch is a way to help stimulate your dog mentally. It helps build both their focus and concentration, especially if they need to find the toy that you’re using. 

          Strengthen Your Bond

          Being able to spend time with your dog, whether it’s for a simple stroll or a game of fetch at your local park, can help you bond with them. It’s one of the numerous advantages of spending time with your dog.

          Spending quality time with your cherished canine companion will assist to deepen your bond of love and friendship. You provide them the opportunity to have fun while also helping to gain their trust and loyalty. They’ll start to think of you as the one who makes their lives better.

          This relationship also aids in the development of trust when you go about your daily routine and must leave your animal for long periods of time. When your dog is content and trusts you, he is less likely to engage in undesirable behavior.

          woman sitting on the ground with golden retriever standing on her lap

          Anxiety Relief

          Giving dogs something that they can focus and concentrate on can give them anxiety relief. Spending time with them might also reduce their anxieties as well as give them a more relaxed disposition. It may also help them cope with anxiety and stress in their life, especially if they are left home during the day while you’re at work.

          It’s Good For You Too

          All of the advantages your dog may enjoy during playtime might also be beneficial to you! If you’ve had a hard day at the office, playing catch with your dog when you come home is a great way to relieve tension. It’s a moment when you can put your phone, social media, and other distractions aside and focus only on your dog. And, of course, the relationship you form with your dog during playtime and fetch will continue for the rest of their lives, as well as yours.

          Alternatives to Fetch That Your Dog May Love

          Flirt Poles

          Flirt poles are ideal for when the weather is bad and you can’t play outside, in apartments, or in tiny yards. They get your dog moving about, playing with their toy, and amusing you as much as they do themselves. Flirt poles also aid in the development of abilities like impulse control and coordination.

          Photo Credit: Fit For a Pit

          Dog Chews

          corgi chewing on a bully stick

          Dog chews like bully sticks or Himalayan dog chews are a great way to keep your dog entertained and occupied even if it’s more of an engagement activity compared to fetch. Plus, it’s another alternative to keeping your dog entertained during bad weather. Dogs should only be given chews under supervision.


          Some dogs like jumping and displaying their agility by playing frisbee. Similarly to fetch, you should begin by throwing little objects and gradually raise the complexity of your throws. Also, before each game, inspect your frisbee for cracks or chips to avoid scratching your dog or their mouth!

          beagle playing fetch with a frisbee in a field

          Snuffle and Licks Mats

          Photo Credit: Happy Dog Barkery

          Snuffle and lick mats are a great form of mental stimulation for dogs. You can purchase them or even DIY your own snuffle and lick mats

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          Overcoming Obesity and Osteoarthritis in Dogs

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            How is Osteoarthritis Related to Obesity in Dogs?

            Because of their extremely distinct causes, osteoarthritis (OA) and obesity create diagnostic difficulties that are very difficult to overcome. In the early stages of OA, there are frequently no clear clinical symptoms. Overweight and obesity symptoms may be obvious, yet they are often ignored or disregarded as unimportant. In order to initiate diagnostic, therapeutic and preventative efforts that may otherwise be lost, obesity must be diagnosed.

            Obesity in dogs significantly increases the risk of joint pain and damage in dogs thus leading to OA. Dogs who are either overweight or obese for a significant amount of time have traumatized their joints before any clinical signs of OA appear. The damage of OA takes years to even show up in diagnostic x-rays due to joint degradation.

            While it’s always been believed that the OA formed from obesity was due to joint wear and tear, that’s recently been disproven. It is now believed that the fat tissue is physiologically active, secreting hormones and other substances that both cause and exacerbate inflammation, as we now know.

            When fat cells release the hormone leptin, it infiltrates joints and promotes inflammation. Leptin may also play a role in the bone alterations linked with OA. Finally, inflammation can alter the body’s reactions to other hormones like cortisol and insulin, further disrupting the body’s attempts at self-regulation and affecting the amount and severity of pain dogs experience. The key takeaway is that fat causes inflammation, inflammation is a component of the pain associated with OA and degenerative joint disease, and being overweight or obese adds to the vicious cycle.

            What is Osteoarthritis?

            Canine Osteoarthritis affects both dogs and humans alike and is the most common form of arthritis affecting nearly a quarter of a million dogs worldwide at any given time. It is a progressive, chronic joint condition marked by the weakening of joint cartilage, thickening of the joint capsule, and the forming of new bone around the joint (osteophytosis), both of which contribute to pain and limb dysfunction. 

            What are the Signs of Osteoarthritis in Dogs?

            Osteoarthritis can often be undetectable until it becomes severe. It’s important to know what to look for in OA, especially if your dog is prone to it. This includes overweight dogs and elderly dogs. Signs of OA in dogs include:

            • Irritability
            • Lethargy
            • Stiffness, lameness or limping
            • Reluctance or difficulty standing 
            • Weight gain
            • Pain when touched
            • incontinence.

            Your vet should be contacted if you think your dog is suffering from OA to start the next steps.

            Photo Credit: Adequan® Canine

            What are the Stages of Osteoarthritis?

            Osteoarthritis presents itself in four different stages. 

            Stage 1: The affected dog exhibits early symptoms which may be difficult to recognize. They are most prevalent in puppies who are still developing or young adults, and are often intermittent, lasting only a few seconds or minutes. 

            Stage 2: The affected dog continues to have intermittent symptoms which are termed the initial flare-ups.These warnings are sporadic, lasting only a few hours, and are simple for owners to reason and ignore. This stage is most common in puppies and young adult dogs.

            Stage 3: The third stage consists of performance impairment in the affected dog. It’s easier for the owner to recognize this stage, which is marked by exercise intolerance and increasing loss of capacity to execute activities of daily living. This is a common stage in the development of adult dogs. 

            Stage 4: The affected dog experiences significant loss of mobility, strength and fitness. This state is the most difficult stage for the parent of the affected dog.

            How is Obesity in Dogs Defined and Diagnosed?

            Age, breed, neuter status, and whether dogs eat wet, homemade, or canned food as the main nutrition source, and “other” foods such as snacks or table scraps are all risk factors for obesity in dogs. At 9 to 12 months, dogs that were overweight were 1.5 times more likely to become obese adults. In the overweight and obese canine population, Golden retrievers, Rottweilers, pugs, and Labrador retrievers that are over-represented. Weight management should be taught to owners of dogs at risk for obesity and OA.

            About 56 percent of dogs were clinically overweight or obese in 2018, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). In one long-term research study, overweight or obese dogs had a higher prevalence of OA than ideal-weight canines (83% compared to 50% ). Due to the results of this study, we may safely assume that many arthritic pets are overweight or obese, and vice versa. It’s not easy to manage these comorbid conditions.

            Body weight and body condition score (BCS) are recorded at every examination as the first step in diagnosing overweight/obesity. The animal’s weight is not determined just by its body weight. This is a subjective assessment of an animal’s body fat that considers the animal’s frame size in addition to its weight, putting body weight in perspective for each patient’s frame size and weight.  

            If you are unsure if your dog is overweight or obese, you can check with a pet weight calculator or consult with your veterinarian.

            Photo Credit: Unknown

            What Are The Signs of Obesity in Dogs?

            It should be fairly simple to notice if your dog is gaining weight but it could be harder in certain breeds, especially those who have a lot of fur. We can often start to see a dog gaining weight in their waistline or tuck. These are the common signs of obesity in dogs:

            • Waistline, ribs or spine not being visible anymore
            • Sagging
            • Lethargy
            • Reluctance to go for walks or walking slower
            • Unable to get in and out of cars or off tall surfaces
            • Larger, rounder face

            What are the Risk Factors Associated with Obesity and Osteoarthritis?

            Osteoarthritis in dogs can be caused by age, breed, genetics, developmental orthopedic illness, trauma, and obesity, among others. In golden retrievers and Rottweilers, radiographic incidence of canine hip dysplasia, a primary cause of OA, has been recorded as high as 70%. Environmental variables such as nutrition and lifestyle can have a major impact on the prevalence and severity of OA related to canine hip dysplasia.

            An obese dog is more likely to have cruciate ligament rupture, the most prevalent cause of OA in canines. Fat dogs are more likely to suffer a torn cruciate ligament than normal-weight dogs by a factor of 2 to 3. 

            As a result of lameness, overweight cats were three times more likely than optimal-weight cats to be brought to a veterinary facility. As a result of their obesity, obese cats were five times more likely to develop lameness, which required medical attention. 

            Obesity is the only risk factor for OA that can be controlled.

            What is the Treatment for Obesity in Dogs?

            For many pet owners, understanding the link between maintaining an ideal weight for their pet and reducing their pet’s risk of sickness may be a powerful incentive. The benefits of keeping a healthy weight are abundant and obvious. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential. As a result of the author’s observations, a high BCS is likely to have an adverse effect on a pet’s susceptibility for OA and the severity of the condition. Weight loss should be a primary treatment for overweight dogs with OA, rather than a secondary one. 

            Dogs have similar amounts of physical activity as their human owners. As an alternative to food rewards, owners should try to react with playtime or praise as a form of positive reinforcement. Exercise should be introduced to all overweight or obese individuals as soon as possible. Establishing an on-site obesity treatment center can assist in establishing individualized patient programs and promoting owner compliance with them.

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            What is the Treatment for Osteoarthritis in Dogs?

            Physical Therapy

            Unfortunately, the damage caused by OA is irreversible but treatment plans help reduce pain and improve quality of life. Certain treatments can be done at home such as helping your dog lose weight if they are overweight and keeping up with low impact exercises such as short walks. Your veterinarian may suggest regular appointments with a rehabilitation center (link to centers near you). Acupuncture, hydrotherapy, chiropractic, laser therapy, regenerative medicine, and medicinal massage are other alternative treatments that require seeing a specialist but luckily these options have become more common and are more available in most areas! 


            On top of the treatment plan given by your vet, certain supplements may assist in the lessening of pain in your dogs. If your dog is predisposed to arthritis such as their breed or weight, your vet may suggest starting supplements before the onset of canine OA. Here are the top type of supplements to look for:

            • Glucosamine is the most common type of supplement for joint problems in dogs. It’s a naturally occurring compound in both human and animal’s bodies but the supplement helps keep up with cartilage health. It reduces pain and stiffness in arthritic joints by reducing inflammation, inhibiting cartilage loss, and improving cartilage repair.
            • Chondroitin is often given in combination with glucosamine and promotes water retention and elasticity in cartilage. It can be given by itself in which the dosing is the same as glucosamine. 
            • Green Lipped Mussel (GLM) is a supplement taken from a mussel native to New Zealand. There isn’t too much information on GLM but omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory and joint-protecting properties, are found in it. 
            • Hyaluronic Acid is a kind of sugar. It is a major component of synovial fluid, which helps to maintain joint viscosity, maintain joint lubrication, and absorb stress in joints. 
            • Antioxidant vitamins C and E destroy free radicals, they help dogs move around more easily! 
            • Glucosamine Acetylated can be for good joint structure and function.
            • Manganese is a vital nutrient, manganese is involved in various chemical reactions in the body, including the production of bones. To maintain bone and cartilage as well as collagen, manganese is essential in joints. Manganese is an essential component of cartilage and is essential for chondrocyte survival.


            Nutrition has a role in controlling joint disease, just as it does with many other diseases. Nutrients can influence some of the underlying processes in arthritis. These include regulation of inflammation and cartilage repair, as well as antioxidant protection. A healthy diet can minimize or eliminate the need for traditional medicines, some of which have harmful side effects. Certain nutrients, whether supplied independently or as part of a diet focused at controlling OA, must be understood by veterinary nurses.

            How Do You Overcome Obesity and Arthritis in Dogs?

            Exercise and food are the two most important variables in avoiding and fighting obesity. Have a conversation with your veterinarian about changing your dog’s diet and exercise if you haven’t done so previously. Your pet’s exercise routine and food should be tailored to his or her lifestyle and life stage. Exercising modestly while consuming fewer calories is suggested for pets who are already overweight or obese and trying to lose weight.

            There are also specialized diet foods for dogs which are made up of the appropriate nutrients and caloric levels for losing weight. A diet for your dog shouldn’t consist of just feeding them less of their normal food as they are missing out on certain nutrients. There are even diet dog foods that assist in reducing the inflammation of the joints that can be brought on by obesity. By assisting with the joint inflammation during the weight loss journey will make exercising easier on your dog. 

            In the end, working on your pet’s weight and their battle with arthritis shouldn’t be difficult and is also 100% preventable in most standard cases of obese dogs. The only times this may not be preventable may be due to a condition like thyroid disease in which dog’s should be on medication to help control their weight. 

            If you believe your dog should be on a diet, confirm with your veterinarian that they should lose weight and to work on a treatment plan with them in a way to effectively and safely help them lose weight. 

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