Dog “Germs” Could Make People Healthier

Mabel and Kynley - Two Nieces In Our Family

Mabel and Kynley – Two Nieces In Our Family

You haven’t met the two little ones in our title image yet – Mabel is the newest furry addition to our extended family (Mabel is Zoey and Jem’s cousin). And Kynley is the sweetheart that Mabel is giving kisses to that we are happy to call family! 

We’ve probably all heard that having a dog has some great health benefits. Studies have shown that dogs reduce stress, anxiety, and lower blood pressure. Their incredible sense for our wellbeing goes as far as detecting low blood sugar, seizures, and even cancer. But the latest study is testing whether having a dogs in our homes actually boosts our immune systems and makes them stronger than they would be if we didn’t have dogs! 

Zoey loves kisses!

Zoey loves kisses!

Scientists at the University of Arizona are conducting a study to see if the natural bacteria that dogs have encourages the growth of beneficial microorganisms in people. They believe living with dogs could be causing our bodies to create enough microorganisms to reduce sneezing, itching, and hives from allergic reactions. Imagine if our dogs are the natural remedy we’ve been needing for our allergies!

Jem loves getting her "germs" all over our bed!

Jem loves getting her “germs” all over our bed!

I have a friend that has been severely allergic to dogs her whole life. She fell in love with a dog that sheds at the shelter, adopted him, and named him Meeko. She recently told me that she’s still allergic to some other dogs she’s around, but she seems to have built up a “tolerance” to Meeko’s hair and doesn’t have a reaction to him anymore! This has me thinking that our bodies really do create beneficial microorganisms as a result of being around them that fight against our body’s allergic reactions. Amazing!

Jamie and Meeko's first beach day - No allergies!

Jamie and Meeko’s first beach day – No allergies!

The study to test this theory is going to analyze the blood and skin samples of people and their dogs for three months to track health changes. Scientists believe that the deep connection we have with our dogs goes beyond the surface. We don’t just love them for their cute, fluffy, tail-wagging exterior. And they don’t just love us as a food-source and a door-opener to the backyard. The bond between us goes so much deeper than anyone can put into words – and this connection could be one that our health depends on. A doctoral student participating in the study says, “is it just that they’re fuzzy and we like to pet them, or is there something else going on under the skin? The question really is: Has the relationship between dogs and humans gotten under the skin? And we believe it has.” 

Moments like these are worth all the "germs" in the world!

Moments like these are worth all the “germs” in the world!

It’s completely understandable that dogs share their unique bacteria with us in our home over time. Households with pets have more bacterial diversity than homes without pets, which is great news for humans because exposure to a variety of microbes builds a stronger immune system. “We think dogs might work as probiotics to enhance the health of the bacteria that live in our guts. These bacteria, or ‘microbiota,’ are increasingly recognized as playing an essential role in our mental and physical health, especially as we age,” Dr. Charles Raison, professor of psychiatry at the university and the principal investigator for the study, said in the statement.

Buddy the rescue pup hasn't wasted any time sharing his "germs" with our family, and we love it!

Buddy the rescue pup hasn’t wasted any time sharing his “germs” with our family, and we love it!

Just when I thought I couldn’t love dogs any more than I already do… now there’s the possibility that they actually make me healthier! This is great news. I’m excited to see how this study goes and what incredible connections the scientists find between dogs and people. Researchers are still raising funds for the study and finding volunteers between ages 50-80. Looking forward to the results! 

We love Jem "germs" in this family!

We love Jem “germs” in this family!

The more germs the merrier in this family! All of our dogs get an overload of cuddles and kisses in this household. 

 

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Eating Poop?

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Eating Poop?Zoey has always had an infatuation with her own poop… and I can’t for the life of me imagine why. What we humans would consider a form of torture, our dogs seem to think is a tasty treat! Why do they do this? Should we be worried? And how can we get them to stop?

Coprophagia is the technical term for eating and ingesting feces. I was relieved to find out that Zoey’s poop fetish is completely normal. Many animal species enjoy the occasional poo-poo platter. 

A Visit To The Vet Is Necessary

In most cases, coprophagia is NOT a sign that your dog has a disease that you should be worried about, but in other cases it can be a sign of an underlying issue. Step 1 if your dog is eating poop is to take her to the vet for tests to make sure she is healthy. Medical conditions that could be causing your dog to eat poop include:

  • Malnutrition
  • Vitamin deficiency 
  • Increased appetite
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disease
  • Parasites
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Anemia
  • Neurological disease

Jeez… is that all? That’s a lot of medical issues to worry about all because of one disgusting habit that many of us probably assumed was just “a dog being a dog.” But don’t freak out just yet! Most of the time dogs eat poop for non life-threatening reasons.

Your veterinarian will run medical tests to determine if your dog is suffering from any of the diseases or medical conditions that cause some dogs to eat poop. You will also want to discuss your dog’s diet, appetite, nutrition, and environment with your vet. 

Lack Of Nutrients Causing It?

Some dogs have an interest in eating their poop because they aren’t getting enough nutrients in their diet. Sometimes there are food particles in the poop that didn’t get digested. Dogs smell this and think of it as fresh, uneaten food. They may be unable to digest the nutrients the first go-around and eat the partially-digested particles in the poop to meet their nutritional needs. This is the most common reason that dogs eat poop. It tastes good! Even though we can’t possibly begin to understand how… If you believe your dog is eating her poop because she needs better nutrition, consult with your vet or a pet nutritionalist about what diet is best for your dog. 

The ASPCA suggests making sure you’re feeding your dog quality food. They state that you really can’t find high-quality dog food in supermarkets and sometimes can be mislead by the brands at the big box pet stores. The ASPCA suggests finding a quality pet supply store and looks for premium brands with human-grade ingredients. Always read the labels on the dog food you consider purchasing. Choose a brand that has one or more whole meat sources and no meat-by-products. 

Dogs That Eat Other Animals’ Poop

Some dogs don’t just love to eat their own poop, but they will eat other dogs’ poop as well. Our dog Jem will follow Zoey or other dogs around the yard waiting for them to go potty so she can get her stinky snack at it’s freshest. This is also very common in many dogs, but sometimes more risky than a dog eating his own poop. 

It’s important to make sure your dog never ingests the feces of dogs that are strangers. You don’t know if these other dogs are receiving the vaccinations and preventative care that is required to prevent the spread of diseases. If your dog is exposed to other dogs’ poop that is carrying diseases that puts your dog at risk. 

A Mom’s Natural Instinct 

Moms will also eat the feces of their puppies, so puppies may copy this behavior and keep doing it out of habit and curiosity. Once it has become a habit for your dog, it can be difficult to break. But it is definitely possible with the correct training. 

A Technique To Get Attention

Some dogs will eat poop to get attention if they feel punished or neglected. For dogs, any attention is better than no attention at all. A lot of them prefer to be scolded rather than being ignored altogether. Try spending more time with your dog, go for more walks together, and take car rides to show your dog that she is loved and important. 

Your Dog Is A Neat Freak

Other dogs who like a neat and tidy environment will eat their poop to clean their area. Some dogs think they’re doing a great job of cleaning the back yard when they eat their poop. Pups that have an accident inside may also eat their poop in an effort to clean the space.

How Do I Stop This Behavior?

The surest way to avoid your dog eating poop is the watch your dog when she is outside and clean up after her every time she goes #2. This isn’t always realistic for everyone to find the time and means to clean up after your dog every time. Many people don’t pick up their dog’s poop because they don’t want to dispose of it in the trash can and deal with the nasty smell and contamination. You can get a Doggy Dooley for your yard to make clean up sterile and convenient. The Doggy Dooley gets buried in your yard and chemically breaks down poo so you never have to deal with the smell in your trash can when you scoop the poop from the yard. 

Natural Food Additives To Stop Poo-Eating

Many experts believe that the products on the market that claim to discourage your dog from eating poop don’t actually work. There are liquids and powders to add to your dog’s food that claim to make the poop taste bad to the dog and keep him from eating it. Popular opinion is that these are not healthy to use long-term and don’t actually work. Some people have successfully discouraged their dog from eating poop by adding certain human foods to the dog’s food. Pineapple or foods with sulfur such as brussels sprouts or cabbage will discourage the dog from eating his poop. I’m going to try this in Zoey’s food and see if it works!

Correct The Behavior With A Training Collar

You can also use the aid of a training collar to associate the bad behavior with a correction. Consistency is key with this type of training. You’ll have to give your dog a correction every time he tries to eat the poop consistently for a few weeks until he avoids the poop completely. Your dog may regress and go back to his old ways, so you’ll have to reinforce the training later on down the road if/when this happens. 

What Not To Do:

Most importantly, you should always remember what not to do. We want to correct our dogs’ bad behavior, never punish them in a nonconstructive way. Punishment for an act like eating poop will only make your dog more likely to eat the poop next time as a way of “covering up the evidence” to avoid getting punished again. 

There’s been a belief by many people for years that you should rub your dog’s face in urine and feces when you’re potty training. This should never be used as a form of training, according to the ASPCA. If your dog is eating poop, never resort to rubbing her face in it to get her to stop. It won’t work to put an end to the behavior and can only lead to more problems.

Most importantly, never physically hit or harm your dog as a form of punishment for eating poop or any other behavior that you don’t approve of. Dogs are very loyal being by nature, and they want to please their “masters” if they are given the chance. Communicate with your dog in a way that she will understand the cause and effect of her behavior. Physical punishment is not understood by your dog and will only lead to aggression, fear, and acting out.

Do you have any techniques that worked to get your dog to stop eating his/her poop? 

Easter Dangers That Can Poison Your Dog

 RadioFence.com Easter Dangers That Could Poison Your DogEaster is a great time of year full of egg hunts, bright spring flowers, yummy chocolate bunnies, baskets full of goodies, and fun family dinners. But for your dog, there are many things we enjoy that can really harm him from the food you prepare to the flowers you decorate with. Yes, there really are spring flowers that are poisonous to dogs! And they’re some of the most popular ones you see this time of year. 

Jem from RadioFence.com smelling the spring flowersPoisonous Spring Flowers 

I was so surprised to learn that some of the most common spring flowers are actually poisonous to dogs! Laci seems to eat anything she can get ahold of when she explores outside, and the other dogs are just as curious. I’m so glad I know now that I need to watch out for these flowers in the spring time and make sure they don’t ingest them!

Vets Now warns us to look out for poisonous Spring plants and flowers. These include:

  • Lilies
  • Daffodils
  • Spring bulbs
  • Azaleas

RadioFence dogs avoid spring flowers because they're poisonous!I went to our local grocery store, Publix, to buy my Easter goodies and easily found all of these flowers, so they’re definitely popular this time of year! That means we have to be extra careful to keep these plants out of reach for our dogs if we buy them, or avoid bringing them home altogether. If you’re out for a walk with your dog or visiting a friend’s house and spot these plants, make sure to keep your dog away from them.  Jem from RadioFence.com curious about the Spring flowersSigns that your dog may have ingested a poisonous plant include:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • “Drunk” symptoms

If your dog isn’t acting normal or has any of these symptoms, you need to take her to the vet as soon as possible. 

Poisonous Easter Candy

Easter baskets almost always have some kind of candy in them whether it’s chocolate, jelly beans, or sugary sweets.

RadioFence.com dogs exploring their Easter BasketAs dog parents, it’s vitally important that we familiarize ourselves with the foods that are poisonous to dogs. During the Easter holiday, the most common ones to worry about are:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins in your fruit bowls and baked goods
  • Macadamia nuts when you’re making cookies
  • Yeast dough for baking
  • Xylitol in candy

Jem and Zoey from RadioFence.com love Easter!I would say that Xylitol is probably the poisonous ingredient that dog parents overlook the most or are unaware of. It’s an artificial sweetener that can hide in many foods that you may not think could hurt your dog. Be extra careful leaving any sugar candies or chocolates within your dog’s reach and teach children that these sweets are for humans only and not to share with a begging dog. And never underestimate a dog’s will to climb on the furniture to reach a sweet treat that she isn’t allowed to have! 

Dog-Proof Your Easter Egg Hunt

An Easter egg hunt is the perfect opportunity for a dog to sneak and indulge in sweets and candies that are poisonous to him.

Buddy and Laci from RadioFence.com love Easter egg hunts!Unless you’re compulsive about counting how many eggs you hide and making sure all of them were found, chances are a few are going to be forgotten and left behind.

Jem from RadioFence.com on an Easter egg huntYour dog is sure to find these, and from my personal experience the dogs had no problem opening the eggs and getting the treat that’s inside. It’s scary to think that your dog could eat candy that’s poisonous to him so easily and you wouldn’t know it until he becomes ill and shows symptoms. 

Buddy and Laci from RadioFence.com on an Easter egg huntIf you’re having an Easter egg hunt with dogs around, the easiest and safest way to avoid any complications is just to fill the eggs with items that are safe for them to ingest. Rather than filling the eggs with chocolate that could make your dog sick and melt in the sun or candy that can spoil and poison your dog, fill them with cute little trinkets that kids will enjoy finding just as much as candy. Then you can reward the kids with candy later if you wish. The fun part of an Easter egg hunt is searching for the eggs anyways, so what you fill them with won’t change that!

Buddy from RadioFence.com's first Easter with us!We put our homemade dog treats in our Easter eggs and set them up specifically for the dogs to have their very own Easter egg hunt, and they loved it! Definitely a fun Easter activity for the whole family to do as a tradition from year to year. 

Our new rescue dog Buddy that you see in the picture above is spending his first Easter with our family, and he acted like he couldn’t be happier! He was such a ham for the camera and acted like he was a famous model – it was so funny that I wish I had it on video! I’m so happy he loves participating in the blog just as much as Zoey, Jem, and Laci!

 

 

Homemade Organic Sweet Potato Dog Treats

RadioFence.com Homemade Organic Sweet Potato Dog Treats

Our dogs love the store bought sweet potato dog treats. But I can’t ignore my realization that we could save a ton of money by making our own homemade dehydrated sweet potatoes for them. Plus, homemade means I can control where the sweet potatoes come from. I can get organic ones from our local farm for less than I spend on the store bought bag of treats!

Organic sweet potatoes make the best dog treats!With all of the controversy recently over treats making dogs sick, I love the fact that homemade treats are free of preservatives, fillers, chemicals, and any other unnecessary additives. I know my dogs will benefit most from the treats that come out of my own kitchen, and these treats are so easy to make with only one ingredient – organic sweet potatoes!

Our RadioFence.com dogs love homemade dog treats!Our dogs are intrigued by anything that they think is “human food.” When I brought the sweet potatoes out, they were immediately zoned in on getting a taste before they even knew what it was.

Our RadioFence.com dogs love homemade sweet potato treats!Before I make any new homemade dog treat recipes for them, I place the ingredients in front of them to see if they approve to spark their curiosity. I barely got the sweet potatoes on the floor before they snatched them up and ran off to devour them!

Jem from RadioFence.com loves sweet potatoes!Sweet potatoes are so sweet on their own that they don’t need anything else added for dogs to approve of them as a favorite treat. Our dogs didn’t even require them dehydrated before they were obsessed!

Laci from RadioFence.com loves sweet potatoes!Imagine how much they’ll love them once they are cooked!

Step 1: Tools You’ll Need

We have a food dehydrator, but if you don’t own one you can easily dehydrate the sweet potatoes in your oven. I’ll demonstrate how to dehydrate the treats using an oven today so everyone can try these wonderful treats. 

Step 2: Choose The “Perfect Potatoes”

Choose the best sweet potatoes: choose ones that are similar in size so they will cook at the same rate.

Step 3: Wash, Dry, and Cut The Sweet Potatoes

My pups were trying to be thoughtful and figured that “washing” the potatoes meant using their tongues and teeth to scrape the bad parts off the potatoes. Thanks for the help guys! Aren’t they the sweetest?

Jem cleaning the potatoes with her tongue!If you’re going to cut the potatoes into strips by hand, the first step is to cut the top of the potato to create a flat surface to rest on the counter to stabilize it for cutting the strips.

RadioFence.com cut the top off the potatoCut the rest of the potatoes into 1/3″-1/4″ thick slices. You can use a mandolin for easier, more precise cuts and set the measurement to exactly 1/4″ if you’re a perfectionist! 

Cut the potatoes with a mandolin or knifeYou can also use a food processor to cut your strips if you don’t have a mandolin. I decided to make my treats 1.4″ thick using the mandolin so they would be crunchy.

RadioFence.com - Cut the sweet potatoes into strips

Step 4: Bake For 3 Hours

Baking instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  • Place treats on a cookie sheet
  • Bake for 1.5 hours
  • Flip the treats
  • Bake for another 1.5 hours for a total of 3 hours. 

RadioFence.com Bake the sweet potatoes for three hoursBaking the sweet potatoes for 3 hours will create a nice and crunchy treat. If you think your dog would rather have a chewier, softer snack then bake them for less time.

Yummy sweet potato dog treats from RadioFence.comThey may be slightly soft when they first come out of the oven, so let them cool completely before you serve them to your doggies.

Zoey and Jem from RadioFence.com patiently waiting for their sweet potato treat

Step 5: Enjoy!

Our dogs went crazy for the sweet potatoes before they were dehydrated into a yummy crunchy snack… so I expected them to freak out when they finally came out of the oven.

Our dogs from RadioFence.com couldn't wait for the sweet potatoes to be done!Zoey is usually the most reserved of the bunch and patiently waits her turn while the others act frantic, but I was shocked to see her react the craziest over these treats! 

Zoey from RadioFence.com freaks out for sweet potato treats!Jem was patient and let Laci and Zoey get most of the treats, but she wasn’t shy for long and jumped at the chance to try the treats. She was so crazy over them that I couldn’t catch her picture!

Jem from RadioFence.com loves sweet potatoes!The dogs would be so polite and patient for a second as I reached for another treat…

RadioFence dogs patiently waiting for their treatsBut the anticipation was killing them and they couldn’t resist any longer…

Laci and Zoey love sweet potato dog treats!They went NUTS over these treats and couldn’t keep their composure!

Zoey and Laci going crazy for sweet potato treats!Zoey has never been this excited over a treat in her entire life!

Zoey from RadioFence.com loves sweet potatoes!Jem couldn’t even enjoy her treat in peace without Zoey hot on her tail trying to snag it…

Zoey trying to steal Jem's treat!After seeing how much the dogs loved these treats, they will now be a regular staple in our household for years to come! They’re simple, inexpensive, easy to make, and the dogs couldn’t be happier. Plus they’re so healthy! 

The RadioFence.com clan loves sweet potato treats!Store the dehydrated treats in the refrigerator and discard them after 3 weeks – although there’s no way these yummy treats will last sitting in our refrigerator that long with these hungry hounds! If you want to store them for longer, you can freeze them for up to 4 months.

Why Are Sweet Potatoes So Healthy For Pups?

Sweet Potatoes have the highest amino acid content of any starch which are essential to your dog for maintaining healthy, strong, lean muscles. The high fiber content is great for the digestive system. They also have increase antioxidant activity in your dog’s body which are needed to get rid of free radicals that cause cancer and other diseases. Sweet potatoes also get rid of fatty cells in the liver and help keep other vital organs healthy. Wow! I feel great knowing that this simple homemade treat will have such great lasting health effects on my dogs!

Easy Dehydrated Organic Sweet Potato Dog Treats
One of the purest, healthiest treats you can give your dog - and so easy to make that you'll never buy them from the store again!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr 5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr 5 min
Ingredients
  1. Organic Sweet Potatoes: choose potatoes that are all similar in size so they will cook at the same rate, and buy as many as you think your dogs can eat!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  2. If you cut the potatoes by hand: Cut off one piece of the potato to create a flat surface to rest on the counter and stabilize it for cutting the slices. Cut the pieces into 1/3"-1/4" thick slices.
  3. If you're using a mandolin: You can use a mandolin for easier, more precise cuts and set the measurement to exactly 1/4"
  4. Place the strips on one or more baking sheets
  5. Place in the oven, bake for 1.5 hours
  6. Flip the sweet potatoes and bake for another 1.5 hours for a total of three hours
  7. If you think your dog would rather have a crunchier treat, bake for longer.
  8. Let cool, and enjoy!
Notes
  1. The lower the temperature of your oven, the longer they will need to bake. If you bake them at 175 degrees, they can bake for up to 8 hours.
  2. Store treats in the refrigerator - discard them after 3 weeks
  3. You can freeze them for up to 4 months
Adapted from Dogington Post
Adapted from Dogington Post
RadioFence.com Blog http://blog.radiofence.com/

The Essential Vet Exams for Your Dog

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 4.55.43 PMHave you ever left the vet feeling like you spent all of your budget but aren’t sure if your dog really got your money’s worth out of it? Sometimes the open communication between ourselves and our veterinarian can be rushed or lacking, and we are left feeling like we’re in the dark about our dog’s wellness regimen. Its better for our wallets, peace of mind, and our dog’s health if we understand exactly what the essential vet exams are, and which treatments are unnecessary and excessive. 

Denise Petryk, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Trupanion and our friends at The I Love Dogs Site gave us all the answers about what healthcare is essential for your dog.

What Exams Are Essential?

Your dog needs routine wellness exams in the same way that we need routine physicals. If your dog doesn’t have a wellness exam between the ages of two and six, that’s like you not seeing a doctor between the ages or 24 and 40! If you can imagine how many changes and risks there are to your health in those years then you can imagine the same for your dog. A year is a long time in a dog’s life. If he lives through his early teens to be 13, yearly exams will only equate to 13 exams in his whole life which isn’t a lot when you think of it that way!

Routine Wellness Exams

Wellness visits are essential for maintaining a relationship with your veterinarian and establishing the best preventative care so you can address health concerns early on. We all know that preventing disease and catching it early is so much better than treating it once it has progressed to a severe stage. Preventative health care on a regular basis saves you and your dog from needless suffering and a greater financial strain.

Zoey and Laci Waiting to See The Vet

Zoey and Laci Waiting to See The Vet

Wellness exams play a crucial part in prolonging your dog’s life and keeping her healthy long term. Puppies should have wellness visits 2-3 times per year at the beginning of their lives, and adult dogs should go at least once per year and twice per year if your budget allows it. Laci goes to the vet more often than Zoey and Jem because she’s a seven month old puppy. Zoey and Jem see the vet twice per year for preventative care and wellness exams. We love to see how comfortable they are at the vet from going regularly. Jem even fell asleep on the floor of the exam room! Now that’s relaxation.

Senior dogs should begin having wellness exams twice per year minimum and sometimes three times per year. This is when things can change most rapidly with your dog’s health. You want to catch any diseases or concerns as early as you can for the best chance of curing it. These visits are important for:

  • Understanding age-related changes and degenerative conditions
  • Exercise and diet
  • Comfort support
  • Routine lab tests to detect disease early

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 9.33.42 AMWellness Exams Check List:

  • Share any concerns with your vet
    • Have questions addressed, answered, and documented for future reference
  • Diagnose any health problems in the early stages
  • Update vaccines
  • Test for/control intestinal parasites, fleas, ticks, and mites, heart worm
    • Refill prescriptions for preventatives
  • Nutrition
  • Dental health
    • Care you can administer at home, observe any odors, pain, or signs of disease and establish a course of treatment  
  • Exercise
    • Note how much exercise your dog is getting including how often, what kind, and any changes in your dog’s ability or enthusiasm to exercise
  • Ears and Eyes
    • Note any discharge, redness, irritation, itching, or smell and treat for infection
  • Stomach and intestines
  • Breathing
    • Report any coughing, shortness of breath, sneezing, or nasal discharge
  • Behavior
    • Share with your vet any changes in mood, happiness, behavior problems, or changes in temperament
  • Urinary
    • Note any abnormal accidents and an increase in the frequency of urination for signs of infection
  • Feet and legs
    • Report any limping, weakness, lameness, or toenail concerns
  • Coat and skin
    • Any hair loss, pigment changes, lumps, itchy spots, shedding, mats, or anal gland problems
  • Blood tests
    • Especially for geriatric dogs, dogs with medical problems, and those receiving medications
  • Preventative care options
Zoey's Weight Is Still Slim and Trim Since Last Time!

Zoey’s Weight Is Still Slim and Trim Since Last Time!

The American Heartworm Society firmly recommends your dog be tested for heartworm every year at her wellness visits, even if you are religiously following a heartworm prevention regimen. There have been numerous cases where dogs were on heartworm prevention and still contracted the disease. The AHS strongly suggests getting tested every year so if your dog contacts the disease you have a better idea of the time frame it was contracted than if you haven’t had him tested in 3 years or more. Annual testing and uninterrupted routine heartworm prevention can make the difference between life and death of your furry best friend. You’ll never wish you had used prevention more than when it becomes too late! Never take that unnecessary risk.

Jem Tested "Negative" For Heartworm! That Preventative Really Works!

Jem Tested “Negative” For Heartworm! That Preventative Really Works!

Vaccinations

According to an article from PetEducation.com, experts agree that the core vaccines necessary for all dogs are:

The non-core vaccines that vets will give dogs include:

There have been controversies recently about vaccines for dogs and cats. Some researches believe that we don’t need to vaccinate every year for most of the diseases. However, they haven’t determined exactly how often we should vaccinate for each disease because they actually don’t know how long the protection from the vaccine lasts. Surprised? Me too! I always assumed it was a pretty exact science and trusted that yearly vaccinations were the necessary standard. They say that one vaccine may last 5 years, another for 3 years, and a different one for only 2 years. 

Almost all researchers still believe that we need to give puppies at least three combination vaccines that must be repeated when they turn one year old. Rabies must continue to be given within the guidelines of local ordinances. 

Zoey Was Due For Her Vaccines and Took It Like a Champ!

Zoey Was Due For Her Vaccines and Took It Like a Champ!

There is new research from the veterinary schools at the University of Minnesota, Colorado State University, and University of Wisconsin that suggests a new approach to vaccines where we alternate which vaccines we give our dog from year to year. Instead of vaccinating against more than one disease at once, your dog would receive the distemper vaccine one year, canine adenovirus-2 the next year, and parvovirus the third year repeated. However, other researchers still believe we don’t know enough about these vaccines yet to recommend only vaccinating every three years. It is up to each individual dog parent to discuss vaccines with your vet to determine the best course of prevention for your dog. 

Controlling Intestinal Parasites 

Fecal exams and deworming is as controversial as vaccines when it comes to how often your dog should be tested. Testing and deworming decisions should be based on:

  • The age of your dog
  • Likelihood your dog is exposed to feces from other animals
  • If your dog is on a heartworm preventative that controls intestinal parasites
  • If your dog has been infected before
  • If there are children who play with your dog

The American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and The Companion Animal Parasite Council all suggest testing for parasites and deworming at your yearly wellness visit. If your dog follows a strict heartworm/intestinal parasite preventative regimen year-round, they still suggest having a fecal test done. If your dog is not on a heartworm/intestinal parasite prevention (have your dog tested immediately and started on a preventative), then he needs a fecal test 2-4 times per year and to be treated accordingly. 

Senior Dogs

Older dogs are at risk for conditions that younger dogs are not. If your dog is reaching his senior years, you may want to have him tested for:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Kidney disease
  • Hormonal diseases

Identifying these conditions before severe or irreversible damage is done is vital for treating the condition early. A normal, healthy result is extremely helpful so future test results can be compared. If your dog is on medication, blood work and screening is important to see how the medication is affecting his body. 

Jem and Zoey Love Seeing the Vet Twice A Year!

Jem and Zoey Love Seeing the Vet Regularly!

Annual wellness exams, vaccinations, heartworm testing, and parasite control combined with recommended blood tests will play a critical role in keeping your dog healthy and help him live longer! Jem and Zoey are used to having a calm and stress-free exam at the vet, so they don’t dread the visits or get nervous and scared. They are very calm and content at their regular wellness exams.

The responsibility of keeping your dog in tip-top shape isn’t only up to your veterinarian. You should always keep a close eye on your dog’s health at home year round and report back to your vet regarding her personality, activity level, eating habits, etc. Check for lumps, bumps, flakes, scabs, irritation, redness, and itching. Pay close attention to eating and drinking habits because changes can be signs of serious problems. We all wish our dogs could just tell us what is bothering them, hurting, or when they feel sick. Unfortunately, we have to rely on our gut instincts, observations, and subtle signs our dogs show us. If you can remember to pay attention to changes in your dog from home and stick to a routine vet exam regimen, then your four legged furball will be in great shape!