Water With Your Dog

Water With Your Dog

It’s summertime. It’s time for family trips to the beach, lake, pool, and pond. Just like any member of the family, you want to be sure your dog is as safe as possible. While most dogs love the water, some don’t. Some, in fact, are poor swimmers. You can keep your pooch safe and healthy by the pool, in the water and after a swim by keeping a few guidelines in mind.

  • Starting Out

Take it slow if you’re swimming for the first time with your dog. Stick to the shallow water. You can use toys to coax him into the water, but stay close. Support him as he starts paddling. This is especially important with younger dogs.

Remember, not all dogs can swim. Some are just poor swimmers, such as senior dogs, puppies, small-breed dogs and dogs with short legs or double coats. Often, dogs with heavy chests and short muzzles make poor swimmers — think pugs and bulldogs.

For some dogs, if you plan to be near the water at any time, you might consider keeping a flotation device specifically designed for his size/weight on him for safety’s sake.

If you have a pool, or live at the lake yo

Types of Heartworm Preventive Treatment Products

Types of Heartworm Preventive Treatment Products

When it’s time to purchase heartworm preventive medication for your dog or cat, you have several options to choose from. In order to purchase any of these heartworm medications, however, you must first have your dog or cat tested for heartworms.

  • If the test comes back negative, your veterinarian will then suggest a heartworm medication that will work best for your dog or cat’s particular needs. It’s very important to prevent this deadly disease, as prevention is much safer, easier, and cheaper than treatment. These heartworm medications are all very effective at prevention, as long as they are given in the proper dose on a regular schedule.
  • The American Heartworm Society recommends that animals living in all parts of the U.S. be given heartworm preventive medications on a year-round basis. Here we will discuss some of the common options available on the market today.
  •  ORAL MONTHLY HEARTWORM MEDICATIONS
  •  The heartworm preventives you are probably most familiar with are the once monthly tablets or chewables. These products typically contain either ivermectin or milbemycin as the active ingredient. In the past, a heartworm medication was available containing diethylcarbamazine, but it had to be given daily to be effective. This drug has been since removed from the market, as newer products that are more effective have since emerged.
  • Many of the various oral heartworm medications available today have more than one function. Some will not only kill heartworm larvae, but will also eliminate internal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and/or whipworms. There is an oral product available that includes ingredients that also work to eliminate fleas by stopping them from producing live eggs.
  • The good thing about these types of heartworm medications is that they only need to be given once a month for prevention. You need to watch your dog or cat to be sure he/she chews the entire piece or tablet and doesn’t spit any of it out. Otherwise, the heartworm medication loses its effectiveness. Dogs or cats that have an allergy to beef products may not be able to take a flavored, chewable product. Your vet can provide a possible alternative if this is the case for you.
  • TOPICAL (SPOT-ON) HEARTWORM MEDICATIONS
  • There are a few topical heartworm preventive medications available for both dogs and cats. These heartworm medications are applied monthly to the back of the dog or cat’s neck, or between the shoulder blades on the skin. Not only do these preventives protect against heartworms, they also kill fleas. Those heartworm preventives made with selamectin can work to eliminate ear mites, mange mites, and ticks (in dogs only), and will even kill some internal parasites (in cats).
  • Moxidectin is another active ingredient in topical heartworm preventives available for both dogs and cats. This ingredient (along with imidacloprid) works on heartworm larvae and fleas, as well as hookworms, whipworms, androundworms in dogs — and ear mites, roundworms, and hookworms in cats.
  • Some dogs and cats may not like having the spot-on applied to their skin and will rub themselves against furniture, carpet, etc., after application, in their attempts to remove it. These heartworm preventives are toxic if ingested, so you may need to watch or isolate your dog or cat to be sure he/she doesn’t come into contact with children or other animals for a time after application (to prevent product from getting on hands, or from animals grooming each other).
  • INJECTABLE HEARTWORM MEDICATION
  • Moxidectin can also be used for dogs as an injectable heartworm medication for up to six months with one injection. This heartworm preventive not only kills heartworm larvae, it also eliminates hookworms in dogs. It is not available for use with cats.
  • The product has gone through some safety concerns and was voluntarily taken off the market in 2004 after reports of side effects. In 2008, the product was returned to the veterinary market with restrictions on its use. Veterinarians must administer this heartworm medication to their patients, and this is only after intensive training in its proper use. Your veterinarian is also required to record the lot number of the product used for your dog and must report any adverse effects that may come up.

Exercise and Its Role in Treating Overweight Pets

Exercise and Its Role in Treating Overweight Pets

If your pet is overweight or obese – that is, 20 percent over ideal body weight – then he or she has a serious medical condition that needs to be addressed. Excess weight may predispose your pet to a variety of disorders, such as osteoarthritis, cardiorespiratory problems, diabetes mellitus, dermatitis, higher anesthetic risk, and reduced life expectancy.

One of the most common disorders that we treat, overweight pets accounted for nearly 27 percent of all dogs and 31 percent of all cats seen by Banfield in 2014.1 That is simply too many pets who are ailed by an often-preventable condition. Here are a few helpful tips on getting your pet back to a healthier weight.

Making a Change

The most successful approach for helping your pet lose weight is no secret: reduce calories, increase activity. When it comes to safe, healthy weight loss, exercise is just as important as a balanced, calorie-controlled diet. Here are a few things to consider when designing and incorporating an exercise plan:

  • Work with your veterinarian to design an appropriate weight loss plan.
  • Use a diary and set a consistent plan that is within you and your pet’s capabilities.
  • Start with small changes to exercise level and build from there.
  • Maintain regular weight checks (ideally every two weeks).
  • Remember that safe weight loss is achieved slowly—anywhere from six months to two years; 0.5 to 1 percent/weekly body weight reduction is ideal.
  • Try offering play sessions and walks as rewards for good behavior instead of treats and fatty foods.

Increasing Physical Activity

More exercise with your pet can help slow the loss of lean body mass as your pet ages, as well as help prevent a rapid regain in weight after successful weight reduction.

For your dog, the exercise program must be individually tailored just for him or her, taking into account any medical conditions or limitations, as well as the athletic capabilities of your particular pet. Some dogs will be comfortable doing activities that others are not, which often depends on the breed, health, and age of your pet. You may consider something simple like lead walking, treadmill exercise, or jogging, or some more off-leash activities, such as swimming and hydrotherapy.

As for your cat, exercise must be achieved through play sessions, often initiated with cat toys. Try using small toy fishing rods, or stuffed mice, or feathers to entice your feline friend to join you in some activity. Cats can also be encouraged to “work” for their food using feeding toys.

Managing your pet’s weight can be a challenge. Remember that the most successful strategy is a long-term commitment to a program of restricting calories and increasing exercise. Partner with your veterinarian to tailor a plan that’s right for your pet, or visit our nutrition center to learn more about a healthy diet for your dog and cat.

The Importance of Protein

The Importance of Protein

Dogs need protein. That’s because this component of many foods has numerous functions in your dog’s — and your — body. It is best known for supplying amino acids that build hair, skin, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Protein also plays a key role in producing hormones and enzymes that help to regulate daily, basic functions.

The protein in dog foods can be supplied by animal sources, plant sources, or a combination of the two. Common animal-based protein sources used in pet food include chicken, lamb, fish meal, and beef. Common plant-based protein sources used in your pet’s food include corn-gluten meal and soybean meal.

Understanding your dog’s food needs
Even though some dogs are fed plant-based diets, your dog is not an herbivore. It’s an omnivore.  That means your furry friend is a critter that eats both animal- and plant-based foods.

The body structure of your domestic dog is similar to that of its carnivorous ancestors and relatives, which include wolves, coyotes, foxes, and jackals. These animals are all meat-eating machines. Their teeth and digestive systems are designed to chow down on animal flesh. Consider the following:

  • Your dog possesses the enlarged carnassial teeth that carnivores are named after. These teeth are efficient at digging into and holding prey, skills that were essential for survival in the wild.
  • Your pet’s gastrointestinal tract is simple and does not have the capacity to digest large amounts of plant products.

In addition, high quality animal-source proteins contain all the essential amino acids your dog needs, whereas some plant-based proteins may be deficient in certain essential amino acids. So although your dog is classified as an omnivore, it is best fed as a carnivore.

Research findings
Recent studies have examined how the type of protein in a diet affects the body composition of adult and senior dogs.

In this study, dogs were fed diets with varying amounts of protein from chicken and corn gluten meal. Their body composition (muscle versus fat tissue) was then analyzed. Additionally, levels of key blood and muscle proteins were measured.

Compared with dogs that were fed a diet with 100% chicken protein, dogs that consumed foods with decreasing levels of chicken and increasing levels of corn gluten meal had:

  • Decreased lean tissue
  • Increased body fat
  • Decreased levels of blood proteins routinely used as markers of superior nutritional status

This was independent of the overall dietary protein level — 12 or 28% — which was also examined in each of the four test groups.

As your dog ages, its body composition and muscle-specific proteins decline. Therefore, another study looked at the differences that became evident when elder pooches consumed a 32% protein chicken-based diet, a 32% protein chicken and corn gluten meal diet, or a 16% protein chicken-based diet.

Senior dogs that were fed the 32% chicken protein, chicken-based diet had better body composition and a muscle-specific protein pattern that was identical to what was measured in healthy young adult dogs. However, those results were not seen in either of the other two diets.

Protein and Your Dog
Feeding your dog a diet with primarily animal-based protein sources helps to do the following:

  • Maintain your dog’s muscle mass
  • Reverse some age-related changes in skeletal muscles in senior dogs
  • Enhance the long-term health and well-being of adult and senior dogs

The bottom line is good-quality, meaty dog foods that will have your dog licking its chops and wagging its tail. At the same time, you can smile with confidence, knowing that you’ve fed your loyal friend what it craves and what its body needs.

Food Allergies In French Bulldog

The expression “eat like a dog” comes from the canines’ reputation for gulping down meals of all sorts in a matter of seconds. Their indiscriminate palate, however, isn’t helping their health, and veterinarians are noticing a rise in the number of dogs with food allergies.

“It certainly seems like we’re seeing more dogs with food allergies, similarly to humans,” says Mona Boord, DVM, co-owner of the Animal Dermatology Clinic in San Diego.

Signs of a Food Allergy
Veterinarians caution that there are two types of issues your dog may have with foods.

  • Food intolerance The most common problem is food intolerance, or food sensitivity, which means your dog isn’t digesting a particular type of food well. Food intolerance is a non-immunologic response that can trigger such symptoms as gassiness, vomiting, diarrhea and borborygmus — also known as stomach growling — according to Korrin Saker, DMV, associate professor of clinical nutrition at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Food allergy More immediate reactions from a dog’s immune system to an offending food are food allergies. Symptoms may include intestinal distress but typically will also involve itching around the muzzle, ears, paws and sometimes around the anus. The reason itchiness occurs in these places is probably because canines have more mast cells — which contain histamines and play a key role in the inflammatory process — in these locations.


Dog Food Allergy Culprits

A host of ingredients go into many commercial dog foods today. Most pets are fine and thrive on those foods, but a small percentage may be allergic to certain ingredients. Figuring out which ingredient is important to treating an allergic condition.

“It is often a protein source, such as chicken or beef, but it can include a carbohydrate, such as wheat, and in very rare cases corn,” Dr Saker says.

Dogs can also be allergic to other ingredients, such as preservatives or additives. “I’ve seen dogs that were allergic to peanut butter and tomatoes,” Dr. Boord says. Peanut butter is sometimes an ingredient in dog biscuits, while tomato paste may be an ingredient in dry foods.

Veterinarians used to prescribe a diet based on lamb and rice for dogs with allergic reactions, but even those ingredients have become more common today and might be the source of an allergen. It’s less likely with rice but more so with lamb, experts say.

Treatments for Food Allergies
There are several treatment options for dogs taken to a veterinarian with symptoms of a food allergy:

  • Rule out other ailments The first cause of attack is to make sure that the problems aren’t being caused by something else. An intestinal parasite, for example, can cause similar symptoms. Dogs may also scratch themselves so much that they develop secondary infections. Itchiness can additionally develop as a result of allergies to environmental factors, including mold spores, pollens and cleaners, says Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, professor of clinical nutrition at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Elimination diet Once other ailments are ruled out, veterinarians will ask you to chronicle your dog’s food history. Since common proteins like chicken and beef are frequent sources of food allergies, veterinarians will often advise that you look for foods with a “novel protein source” — something they don’t normally eat.
  • Hypoallergenic foods An assortment of commercial foods is now made for dogs with food allergies. Veterinarians advise that you look for foods with one source of protein and one source of carbohydrates — both of which should be “novel” for your pet. Kangaroo meat is one such “novel” protein, while potatoes or oats are examples of “novel” carbohydrates. In addition, a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and itching.
  • Medicines Lastly, there is a series of medicines that can help your dog deal with food allergies. Dogs can be given allergy shots to help build up tolerance to a food, Dr. Wakshlag says. In addition, small doses of steroids can be used to make the itchiness more tolerable for your dog. There are also immune suppressive therapies, such as cyclosporine, that can help in treatment.

If your dog shows signs of food allergies, don’t delay. The best recipe for success in treating your pet is to take it to your veterinarian to find the cause of the distress. With quality commercial foods now available that specifically address such problems, your dog will likely be eating its way back to good health in no time.

Improve Your French Bulldog Appearance With Good Nutrition

Improve Your French Bulldog  Appearance With Good Nutrition

When Dr. Katy Nelson, DVM, was in veterinary school in Louisiana, she saw her share of dogs with bad eating habits. “Some of the little farm dogs down there are scavengers without real homes. Their coats are dry and prickly to the touch,” she recalls.

  • Her experience in treating these roaming dogs taught Dr. Nelson that a balanced diet and proper nutrition can lead to a much prettier, healthier dog. Below, Dr. Nelson, now an emergency veterinarian in Virginia, weighs in on the specific components of her Beautiful Dog diet.
  • Fatty Acids
    The fatty acids in fish oil — aka omega-3s — have gotten a lot of attention lately for the important role they play in brain health. Together, omega-6s and omega-3s can help make the coat shiny and control inflammatory skin conditions that lead a dog to scratch and lick itself excessively.
  • “You can tell a lot about a person’s health by looking at hair and skin, and dogs are no different,” says Dr. Nelson. “Skin and coat health are windows into what’s going on inside a dog. If they’re losing hair or have clogged pores, it may be a clue that something is lacking in their diet.”
  • High-quality Proteins
    Protein helps to maintain muscle mass, which shows up in a dog’s posture. Dogs require the animal protein found in meats and meat byproducts — including blood, internal organs and bones, which is what dogs in the wild consumed. To evaluate whether a food has a high-quality protein source, consult your veterinarian or breeder.
  • “The first thing listed on the ingredient label of a dog’s food should be an animal protein,” says Dr. Nelson. The label should specify which animal the protein comes from, such as chicken or beef; the protein descriptor can be followed by the words “meal” or “byproduct.”
  • Moderately Fermentable Fiber
    A protein is only as good as its digestibility. A dog requires a fiber that helps it to digest, and thereby absorb, the nutrients in its food. The fiber source also needs to help the dog remove waste from its intestines. Dr. Nelson recommends a food containing beet pulp — the substance that remains after sugar beets are pressed — because it doesn’t produce much gas and is moderately digestible, thus encouraging nutrient absorption.
  • Carbohydrates and the Glycemic Index
    Carbohydrates provide energy to your furry friend, aid in digestion and promote the absorption of nutrients. With its high glycemic index, rice provides a quick glucose and insulin spike that may be beneficial to working dogs, but a secondary carb source, which extends the energy curve, is useful for the run-of-the-mill house dog.
  • “As we all know from eating Chinese food and being hungry again two hours later, white rice causes a quick energy boost followed by a crash,” says Dr. Nelson. She recommends a food containing not only rice but also corn, barley or sorghum. These ingredients contain more moderate glycemic values.
  • Vitamins and Minerals
    Of course, mammals do not live on protein, fiber and carbohydrates alone; they also require vitamins and minerals to look and feel their best. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that squashes free radicals and gives your dog a healthy glow. Vitamin E works similarly while also promoting strength of the nail and hair cuticle. Copper further aids in the absorption of nutrients that are crucial to your pet’s appearance and overall health.
  • Dr. Nelson suggests checking the ingredients label on dog food bags to ensure they contain all of the above. You can even visually detect if your dog is getting adequate nutrition. “When you see a dog on high-quality food, you recognize it immediately,” she says. “Balanced nutrition definite

Vitamins and Minerals Your French Bulldog Needs

Vitamins and Minerals Your French Bulldog Needs

Is improving your health on your list of new year’s resolutions? This year, don’t forget to include your dog on that list as well. But first, find out which vitamins and minerals your canine needs and where to find them.

A well-balanced, high-quality dog food will help your dog meet all its nutritional needs. Check the nutritional label of your dog’s food for necessary vitamins and minerals, advises Dr. Katy Nelson, a veterinarian. While these can be posted as separate ingredients, you also might simply find sources listed. For instance, animal by-products are a good source of many vitamins and minerals, says veterinarian Dr. Bernadine Cruz.

Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Dogs

  • Vitamins A and E Vitamin A can play a role in weight loss, helping your dog burn fat more efficiently, says Nelson. Vitamins A and E serve as important antioxidants, staving off the aging process and fighting disease. These vitamins also contribute to your dog’s eye and skin health. Liver is a good source of vitamin A, and eggs are a source of both vitamins A and E.
  • Vitamin B-12 This vitamin aids in cell growth and development.
  • Calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D These ingredients help strengthen your dog’s bones and teeth. Animal by-products are good sources, says Nelson. Bone meal includes these building blocks.
  • Iron This mineral is essential for healthy blood, helping transport oxygen throughout your pup’s body. High-quality meat and meat by-products are a source, recommends Nelson.
  • Potassium This mineral supports heart health. Carbohydrates are good sources of potassium, say the experts.
  • Vitamin C Dogs and humans benefit from vitamin C in the same way: It can boost the immune system, promote healing and fight illness.

To ensure you’re providing your pet with these necessary vitamins and minerals, experts suggest following these do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t look for deals “The cheapest food off the shelf may contain some of the vitamins and minerals your dog needs but not enough for it to live well,” says Nelson. On the other hand, reputable companies invest in nutritional research, so you’ll be reassured that your dog’s vitamin and mineral requirements are being met.
  • Do consult your veterinarian If you have questions about your pal’s dietary needs or the nutritional makeup of a food, ask your veterinarian or veterinary technician; the pet store salesperson may have no training.
  • Do your research Stand before a shelf of dog food, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the selection, says Nelson. “Research your dog’s food before you go to the store and get swamped by all the packaging,” she says.
  • Don’t feed your dog a home-cooked or raw diet It’s a mistake to think your dog should eat raw foods because that’s what your pet’s ancestors ate in the wild. Dog foods are designed to meet your dog’s specific dietary needs for its life stage and lifestyle. Raw and home-cooked diets are unlikely to meet your dog’s needs, and you run the risk of making your family ill, warns Cruz. Salmonella can lurk in raw or undercooked foods. Dogs have hardier intestinal tracts and can often digest and pass the bacteria unharmed, but that puts humans at risk when we scoop their poop, says Cruz.
  • Don’t give your dog vitamin supplements If your dog is eating a well-balanced dog food, a supplement isn’t necessary. “Oftentimes, you can overdo it,” says Cruz. For example, adding additional calcium could cause irreversible kidney damage.

“We know that dogs are living much longer than in the past because of the nutritional research done by pet food companies,” says Cruz. “Now, if we could only eat as well as our pets are eating.”

Whet Your French Bulldog Appetite With Wet Food

Whet Your French Bulldog Appetite With Wet Food

Canned or bagged, wet or dry: These are basic choices you must face when perusing the pet food aisle of your favorite store. “Wet” products have undergone some major improvements this year and may be the best choice for your dog. Here’s what you need to know.

Which Is Better: Dry or Wet?
  • From a nutritional standpoint, you can’t go wrong selecting either wet or dry foods for your dog, as long as the products come from a reputable manufacturer. “Premium foods provide a complete and balanced diet, and deliver higher-quality ingredients for easy digestion and absorption of essential nutrients,” explains Dr. Amy Dicke, an Ohio-based veterinarian who has been a member of teams consisting of nutritionists, researchers and fellow veterinarians.
  • Prebiotics, New Ingredients and Recipes
    This year, expect to see flavor combinations and ingredients normally associated with your own foods — such as simmered beef, marinated chicken, garden vegetables and juicy turkey. Just remember that these foods are specially formulated to meet your dog’s nutritional needs, which are different from human requirements.
  • Look for prebiotics, a recent addition to canned/wet dog foods. These fibers help fuel good bacteria in your cat’s digestive tract. “A prebiotic fiber selectively feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut … and starves the bad bacteria,” explains Dicke, adding that 70 percent of your dog’s immune system is located in its digestive system. As a result, the new prebiotics may promote good immunity defenses and better digestion.
  • Certain Dogs Might Go Wet
    Dr. Katy J. Nelson, an emergency veterinarian in Alexandria, Va., says that while all dogs can enjoy either a wet or dry diet from a premium brand, at least five types of dogs particularly benefit from canned foods:
  • 1. Puppies Canned food is easy for them to digest and offers a concentrated source of protein.
  • 2. Small breeds They too can have delicate digestive systems and high metabolism.
  • 3. Dogs with food allergies Nelson often advises owners with food-allergic dogs to feed them a blend of wet and dry. This makes the food more palatable to the dog and minimizes problems from possible allergens.
  • 4. Dogs with kidney and urinary tract conditions These dogs need good hydration, which they can get from the moisture of wet food.
  • 5. Certain older dogs Senior dogs often suffer from health issues that are eased by wet foods. Dogs that have had teeth extracted, for example, might have difficulty chewing their kibble.
  • Making the Transition
    If you have fed your cat dry food only but would like to incorporate some of the new wet foods into your pet’s diet, do so slowly and gradually to minimize intestinal upsets. Be sure to decrease the amount of dry food you serve accordingly.
  • How to Feed
    Both Dicke and Nelson say dry and wet foods can be fed in any combination: separately, at the same or different times, mixed together, and in the morning and evening. Nelson, however, notes that it might be best to serve the wet food in the morning so it can be consumed in a timely manner to avoid spoilage.
  • Some dog kibbles are coated with ingredients that help clean your dog’s teeth while it chews, and should be served separately. “These ingredients should be activated by saliva, but wet food can minimize the effect,” she says.
  • Finally, wet food offers a safe and nutritious substitute for finicky dogs that might otherwise receive table scraps, says Dicke. Human foods, such as chocolate, onions, meat bones, raw meat and raw poultry can be harmful. It’s a better choice to feed wet dog food to satisfy your pet’s cravings.

Are You Protecting Your French Bulldog Health?

Are You Protecting Your French Bulldog Health?

We all want our pets to live healthy lives, but are we as informed as we should be? Take this quiz and see how you measure up.

  • 1. I schedule basic veterinary checkups for my adult dog:

a. Once a year

b. Twice a year

c. When needed

Optimal answer: b. Twice a year

Although annual visits are a good start, twice-yearly exams are your best insurance against hidden diseases. “I also recommend checking your pet’s blood test and urinalysis once a year in patients over 7 years old,” says Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian based in North Carolina.

  • 2. I give my dog a bath using:

a. Dog shampoo

b. My shampoo

c. Baby shampoo

Optimal answer: a. Dog shampoo

“Though we often treat our dogs as our kids, they aren’t,” says Dr. Bernadine Cruz, a veterinarian in California. “A dog’s skin is much more fragile than ours, with a very different pH. Using our shampoos — even a baby’s shampoo — can strip a dog’s skin of its protective oils.”

  • 3. I check my dog’s ears:

a. Once a year

b. Every few months

c. Every few weeks

Optimal answer: c. Every few weeks

Ear infections are common but preventable. “If the earflap is red and inflamed; if the canal is narrow, has a heavy buildup of debris or is smelly; or if touching your dog’s ears is painful; you have a problem that needs to be addressed,” says Cruz.

  • 4. My dog gets its teeth cleaned:

a. Once a year

b. Twice a year

c. Every five years

Optimal answer: a. Once a year

Annual cleanings are recommended, but Dr. Katy Johnson Nelson — a Virginia-based veterinarian who is a member of the Iams Pet Wellness Council — says some dogs need more. “Just like some people have more cavities, some dogs have more severe dental disease than others. Your veterinarian will be able to determine how often they need those teeth cleaned,” says Nelson. Between cleanings, brush your dog’s teeth at least weekly.

  • 5. I bring my dog for vaccine renewal:

a. Yearly or sooner

b. Every three years

c. Every five years

Optimal answer: a. or b. Yearly or sooner, or every three years

Core vaccinations are given every three years, but many others last a year or less. Go over this with your veterinarian and know the schedule for each vaccine.

  • 6. The best way to exercise my dog is:

a. Go for daily walks

b. Give him free reign of the backyard

c. Take occasional trips to the dog run

Optimal answer: a. Daily walks

Dogs left outside alone do not self-exercise. And while trips to the dog run are great, the most important thing is consistent exercise. Daily walks, as long as they’re substantial, are the basis of a good exercise routine.

  • 7. I feed my dog:

a. Table scraps

b. Bones

c. Only dog food

Optimal answer: c. Only dog food

“An occasional bite of people food is OK, but a good-quality dog food is the foundation for a health-filled life,” says Cruz. Dogs love a big bone, but they’re dangerous to intestinal tracts — especially cooked bones, which splinter easily.

  • 8. My dog’s mealtime schedule is:

a. Once a day

b. Twice a day

c. I keep the bowl full all day

Optimal answer: b. Twice a day

A perpetually refilled bowl is a no-no that can lead to obesity, and Cruz says feeding only once daily can negatively alter metabolism. Three times a day is acceptable if portions are controlled. “The most important weapon against obesity is a measuring cup,” says Ward. “Find out from your veterinarian how many calories your dog needs each day and feed that amount to your pet.”

  • 9. My dog’s food bowl is made of:

a. Plastic

b. Ceramic

c. Metal

  • Optimal answer: b. or c. Ceramic or metal

“Many dogs become sensitive to plastics and may develop skin issues if fed from plastic bowls,” says Ward. Plastic is also more likely to retain bacteria.

  • Score:
  • Eight to nine correct: Congratulations! You’re doing a great job safeguarding your dog against medical problems. But remember that as your dog ages, you’ll need to adapt too. Maintain a close relationship with your vet, and your dog will live a long and happy life.
  • Five to seven correct: Looks like you’ve got a decent foundation when it comes to safeguarding your dog against medical problems, but there’s room for improvement. Go back over your incorrect answers and take action on them!
  • Zero to four correct: Oh no! We’re sorry to say it, but at 50 percent or less, you scored an F. You’ve got some work to do with safeguarding your dog against medical pro

French Bulldog Flu

French Bulldog  Flu

“Flu” seems to be a catchall word used to describe many different illnesses, from human flu to avian flu. Now, dogs can catch dog flu. But do you really understand the symptoms, treatment and prevention of this potentially life-threatening illness?

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines about canine influenza (aka dog flu). Ruben Donis, chief of the Molecular Virology and Vaccines Branch of the CDC’s Influenza Division and other experts help answer key questions about this disease.

  • How did canine influenza first emerge?
    The canine influenza virus was first identified in 2004, but scientists believe it was around for a while beforehand. “We have demonstrated that the virus was in the greyhound population as early as 1999, and we speculate it was likely introduced sometime before that,” says Tara Anderson, a researcher at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. She and others first became aware of it due to numerous outbreaks of respiratory disease among dogs at racing tracks.
  • Donis explains that the virus causing the flu, called H3N8, was known to exist in horses for more than 40 years. “Scientists believe that the virus jumped species, from horses to dogs, and has now adapted to cause illness in dogs and spread efficiently among dogs.”
  • Can it spread to humans?
    There are no known cases of humans suffering from H3N8. “This is a disease of dogs, not of humans,” says Donis.
  • What are the symptoms?
  • Affected dogs may show the following symptoms: cough, runny nose, fever, pneumonia (but, as with humans, only a small percentage of dogs get pneumonia).
  • How does the illness spread from dog to dog?
    Airborne transmission is the primary way canine influenza spreads, according to Annette Uda, founder of PetAirapy LLC, an Illinois-based company that specializes in air-purifying systems for the pet industry. “When an infected dog coughs or sneezes, it releases the virus into the air. The virus, which is in the form of droplet nuclei, is able to survive for hours — and in some cases much longer — on dust and dander until it is inhaled by another animal, causing infection.”
  • Can any dog get the disease?
    “Nearly all dogs are susceptible to infection,” says Donis. About 80 percent will just get a mild form of the disease. A lower percentage can get pneumonia and suffer more severe cases. Among that group, the fatality rate is between 5 and 8 percent.
  • How is canine influenza treated?
    It is important to first confirm the presence of H3N8 via tests — either on blood or respiratory secretions or both. Once the disease is confirmed, treatment largely consists of supportive care, such as taking steps to ensure your pet is well-hydrated. “Broad-spectrum antibiotics may be prescribed by your veterinarian if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected,” says Donis.
  • How can you help prevent your dog from catching canine influenza?
    Try to keep your dog away from other dogs that might be ill. Dogs in close quarters, such shelters and racing facilities, are more susceptible to this disease. “It’s very much a proximity issue,” says Ron Schultz, chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. “Open-air spaces like dog parks, however, carry a much lower risk.”
  • Schultz helped formulate a vaccine for dog flu, which is now widely available. He recommends it for dogs that are at high risk of infection, such as dogs that regularly go to doggy day care facilities or participate in dog shows. “Even if you have 20-30 percent of dogs vaccinated, that would make a difference. It’s a group thing,” explains Schultz. “It only takes one of those dog flu outbreaks, and then people really start to think. It’s not ‘mild’ for the dog that dies.”
  • What should you do if your dog has a cough?
    Coughing in dogs is frequently associated with a contagious illness, just as it is in humans. Take your pet immediately to the vet for a checkup. This is for the sake of your furry pal, and also for that of other dogs that might catch the illness. Older canines and those with weakened immune systems are likely more susceptible to severe forms of the virus.
  • If your dog is diagnosed with canine influenza, keep it away from other animals. “Clothing, equipment, surfaces and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease,” advises Donis.