Does Dog Litter Really Work?

Does Dog Litter Really Work?

We’re all aware of how useful cat litter is for kitties to have a clean, easy-to-dispose-of “water closet,” making the process of elimination and disposal relatively worry-free and convenient, not only for cats but the humans who take care of them. But a simi…

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8 Tips for Year-Round Dog Paw Health

The post 8 Tips for Year-Round Dog Paw Health by Dr. Marty Becker appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.

Chances are good your dog will suffer an injury to one of his paws in his lifetime. After all, he walks all over them. Our goal is to prevent dog paw problems when possible, detect potential problems early, and know when we can treat at home or when it’s necessary to beat feet (excuse the pun) to the vet.

I’ve traveled to more than 80 countries, most recently a six-week trip to South America. While at Machu Picchu and in the Galapagos Islands, I was amazed to see locals walking barefoot along thorny paths, on sharp rocks and through burning hot sand. I’m a tender foot and worry about stepping on a single pebble or hot sand.

But what about pets? Contrary to what some might think, a dog paw isn’t constructed of the same thing bulletproof vests are made of. Despite this, many of us seem to think nothing of our dogs walking over paths filled with stickers and burrs, across sun-baked pavement, or across jagged sheets of ice. While Mother Nature designed dog paws to “take a licking and keep on ticking,” they can still get cuts, scrapes, burns and frostbite.

1. Do a weekly dog paw check

Human hand and dog paw by Shutterstock.

Do a weekly dog paw check to ensure your dog’s paws stay healthy. Photography by Tierney MJ / Shutterstock.

When a dog starts to limp, most people will take a good look at the feet to see what’s wrong. But get in the habit of looking at each foot weekly.

Get down on the floor, or do it with your dog in your lap. Look at the top and the bottom of the foot, between the toes, the foot pads, between the foot pads and check the nails. Look for redness, swelling, tenderness, bleeding or signs of irritation. Press gently on the pads, around the toes, and on the nail bed. If your dog winces, whimpers, or pulls away like it’s causing discomfort, look closer. The three things I’d be most suspicious of are foreign bodies (slivers, weed seeds, gum), cuts, or signs that the dog has been licking her paws (wet and red underneath the feet or brown on top from saliva staining.

2. Watch out for burrs

If your pets are ever in the weeds, it’s easy for a dog paw to pick up burrs or awns (think cheatgrass or foxtails) between their toes. Those plant invaders can quickly burrow their way inside the foot and literally end up all over the body. I recommend daily dog paw checks if your dog is around these heinous hitchhikers. If it’s a burr, you may need to trim a little hair or apply mineral oil to get it out. For awns, I use a pair of needle nose pliers.

3. Do regular dog paw trims

It’s common for long-haired dogs to develop mats between the dog paw foot pads, which can chafe and cause irritation. In the summer, we trim the hair between all of our dogs’ feet to prevent this and make it easier to see foreign bodies like grass awns.

4. Keep dog paws dry

A dog paw may become irritated from too much moisture. After your dog comes in from a swim or a romp in the wet grass, dry his feet off with a towel. Sometimes the excess moisture comes from incessant licking if he has a bacterial or fungal infection that itches (think of how athlete’s foot drives us crazy!). I’m a big fan of weekly baths for pets, and I encourage you to put a couple of inches of water in the bottom of the sink or tub, and add some Epsom salt in the water.

5. Treat painful dog paw cracks

On the other hand, dog paw dryness is an issue, too. For years I’ve recommended Musher’s Secret, a wax that moisturizes, lubricates (to prevent snow or ice balls from forming), and forms a breathable bond with paws. It doesn’t take long to soak in; I put it on about once a month year-round. But don’t use it too often: If pads are too soft, they’ll be more prone to injury.

6. Ban the burn

Concrete sidewalk by Shutterstock.

Concrete sidewalk. Photography by 3445128471 / Shutterstock.

I can’t tell you how many cases of burned dog paws I’ve seen from pet owners who walked their dog on hot asphalt or concrete. My rule of thumb: If the surface is too hot for the palm of your hand, it’s too hot for a dog paw!

7. Salt on dog paws also spells out problems

In the winter, salt or other deicers can really wreak havoc on your canine’s four-wheel drive, as they irritate and dry the feet. After our dogs have been out for a walk where they might have tromped across and in these offending substances, we simply dip their feet in a large plastic drinking glass and towel dry.

8. Get rid of dog paw gunk on the regular

Imagine all the icky-sticky stuff that’s on the ground and gets walked on. Chewing gum, tree sap, motor oil, antifreeze, tar — the list goes on. To clean these off of a dog paw, use a little Dawn dishwasher detergent; others recommend olive oil. If the gunk won’t loosen, you may have to trim it out or head to the vet to handle. Trust me, you don’t want to accidentally cut the foot pad with scissors or a pair of trimmers. When cut, the same blood supply that warms pet’s feet in the winter and cools them in the summer spurts like a Texas oil well. This might seem like a lot of work, but I promise: An ounce of paw-vention is worth a pound of cure!

Thumbnail: Photography by Nataliya Dorokhina / Shutterstock.

This piece was originally published in 2016.

About the author:

Dr. Marty Becker, “America’s Veterinarian,” has spent his life working toward better health for pets and the people who love them. The author of 24 books, Dr. Becker was the resident veterinary contributor on Good Morning America for 17 years. He is currently a member of the board of directors of the American Humane Association as well as its chief veterinary correspondent, a founding member of Core Team Oz for The Dr. Oz Show, and a member of the Dr. Oz Advisory Board. When his schedule allows, he practices at North Idaho Animal Hospital. Connect with him on Facebook and on Twitter.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you!

Read more about dog grooming on Dogster.com:

The post 8 Tips for Year-Round Dog Paw Health by Dr. Marty Becker appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.

Original source: https://www.dogster.com/dog-health-care/year-round-dog-paw-health

Adopting a Pet Shown to Relieve Depression

Adopting a Pet Shown to Relieve Depression

You’ve heard it before — a dog is a human’s best friend — and there are a few other thoughts those words may invoke. One might be that a furry creature with trusting eyes and a heart of gold may be the easiest individual to talk to that you’ll ever find. Anot…

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You Have Questions about Adopting a Pet: We Have Answers

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PHOENIX, Feb. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — When people decide to adopt a pet during PetSmart Charities’ National Adoption Weekend, they often have more than a few questions: From wondering what type and age of pet will be best suited to their home and lifestyle; …

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Mange in Dogs: Let’s Talk Causes and Treatments

The post Mange in Dogs: Let’s Talk Causes and Treatments by Melvin Peña appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.

Mange in dogs is not one thing, but rather an umbrella term for a number of possible disorders that affect dogs, all of which are caused or initiated by parasitic mites. These microscopic arthropods may take up residence either in a dog’s hair follicles or in his skin. There are two major types of mange in dogs, each caused by a different mite. Briefly, demodetic mange, which is not contagious, is the most common, and is caused by a surplus of Demodex canis mites in a dog’s hair follicles. Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, is a devastating variety caused by Sarcoptes scabiei canis mites that burrow into a dog’s skin.

Why does mange in dogs happen?

A beagle dog with mange.

A beagle dog with mange. Photography ©Thanawath Seangsuriyapone | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Whether it is demodetic or sarcoptic mange, mange in dogs arises when a dog’s immune system is not equipped to handle a surplus population of mites. For the most part, mange predominantly affects very young puppies, very old dogs, or dogs whose immune systems are weakened or compromised by the stresses of mistreatment or neglect. In certain breeds, such as Afghan Hounds, Beagles, Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Collies, Dachshunds, Pugs, Shar-Peis, Shih Tzus and Terriers, among others, susceptibility or predisposition to demodetic mange might be genetic, but that does not make it common.

Mites themselves do not cause the outward signs of mange in dogs. Rather, unhealthy dogs cannot manage their native mite populations and become weaker. Weakened dogs are then open to further infections, which, coupled with a dog’s incessant scratching and biting at affected areas, leads to the symptoms we associate with mange in dogs — to wit, bald patches on the face or body, preternaturally wrinkled skin, and scabby lesions.

Demodetic mange, aka red mange in dogs

A mite that goes by the name of Demodex canis is the little bugger at the root of demodetic mange in dogs, which is also called red mange. You may be surprised to learn that Demodex mites are probably living, working and playing in your dog’s hair follicles right now! There is no cause to worry, though. Demodex mites are very common; almost all dogs who are weaned by their mothers have demodetic mites and continue to throughout their lives. Demodetic mites are referred to as “commensal” organisms. You’ll be familiar with the term “symbiotic,” which means that two organisms live together and derive benefits from each other’s presence. Commensal organisms are a step removed from that relationship; Demodex mites live and feed on a dog, gaining all the benefits, as it were, while the dog usually suffers no ill effects.

Demodetic mange is likely what you think of when you picture mange in dogs. Localized demodetic mange in dogs is quite common in puppies, actually, who acquire the mites while suckling at the mother’s teat. Since their immune systems are not yet fully developed, the mites who travel onto their faces may prove too much to handle, leading to small patches of hair loss on their heads. Demodetic mange in puppies goes away on its own with no treatment as the puppy’s immune system adapts to the presence of mites.

This kind of mange is also common in older dogs as well as those with weak immune systems. Demodetic mange in dogs is not contagious. It is normally only while they are puppies that demodex mites can pass from dog to dog. Generalized mange, with its characteristic balding patches, occurs when the demodex mites already present proliferate beyond the ability or capacity of a dog’s immune system to cope with or contain.

Sarcoptic mange

Even particularly bad cases of demodetic mange in dogs tend to affect only the surface of a dog’s body. Sarcoptic mange is more insidious; the sarcoptes mites burrow deep into a dog’s skin. Within a week, a dog with sarcoptic mange may start developing open sores, which are less from the mites themselves, but rather from the dog’s frantic scratching. That scratching may turn to biting as the dog attempts to forcibly extract the source of the itch. Open wounds can then become infected as health issues cascade and the dog’s health rapidly deteriorates.

Sarcoptic mange is less common for domestic dogs who have stable home environments than demodetic mange. Though sarcoptic mange is highly contagious, it tends to affect dogs who are suffering from severe malnutrition or starvation. Dogs that are already weak from neglect or abuse will have already-compromised immune systems where the sarcoptes mite can wreak havoc and thrive. While demodetic mites are neither contagious nor zoonotic, sarcoptic mites are both. They can not only pass between dogs, but between dogs and other animals, as well as between dogs and humans.

Treating and preventing mange in dogs

It is not uncommon for puppies to acquire demodex mites from their mothers while feeding. Overwhelmingly, the localized demodetic mange that can develop on their heads will clear up as puppies’ immune systems develop. For adult dogs who develop demodetic mange, a veterinarian should be consulted as soon as symptoms manifest to determine a course of action.

Topical ointments that contain benzoyl peroxide are often prescribed to rid the dog of excess mites and allow the lesions to heal and hair to grow back as the dog’s immune system reasserts itself. If benzoyl peroxide sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the active ingredient in many acne medications. Older dogs or dogs with sarcoptic mange may require far more intensive treatment. An outbreak of mange in dogs is frequently tied to environmental circumstances and general health. Mange in dogs is less common in dogs that are cared for, well fed, bathed on a regular basis and who have clean beds.

Tell us: Has your dog had mange? What are your tips for treating mange in dogs?

Thumbnail: Photography © Adrian Wojcik | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Learn more about dog health and care:

The post Mange in Dogs: Let’s Talk Causes and Treatments by Melvin Peña appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.

Original source: https://www.dogster.com/dog-health-care/mange-in-dogs-causes-treatment

Reader Suggestions: How To Save Money On Pet Care

Reader Suggestions: How To Save Money On Pet Care

Our beloved greyhound, Gracie (better known as Frugal Hound), passed away a year ago and I thought it would be a fitting tribute to devote a Reader Suggestions to the topic of frugal pet care. I miss everything about Frugal Hound. Compiling your advice and se…

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