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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

Funny, You Don’t Look Poodlish

Funny, You Don’t Look Poodlish

More and more shelters are moving away from naming the breeds of adoptable dogs. Why? Because it's usually impossible to tell the breeds that make up a mutt just by looking, and errors keep perfectly lovely dogs from finding good homes.

November 2017 - Many of the responses were way off the mark. One dog thought to be mainly golden retriever by 40 percent of the respondents turned out to be equal parts golden retriever, American Eskimo dog, Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever, and Rottweiler. Another, called a border collie by almost half the people asked, was actually a mix of English springer spaniel and German wire-haired pointer with other breeds thrown in for good measure in smaller genetic doses.

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When It Comes to Breeds, Looks Can Be Incredibly Deceiving

Science turns assumptions on their ear.

Are you sitting down? It turns out that Franklin, who came to us from a border collie rescue league at the age of 12 weeks and who we have been calling a border collie for the last nine years, doesn’t have a drop of border collie in him. Nope. We had his DNA analyzed for kicks, and it turns out he’s 25 percent golden retriever and 25 percent American Eskimo dog. He’s also 12.5 percent Labrador retriever, 12.5 percent Shetland sheepdog, and 12.5 percent a combination of so many other breeds that the analyzers could only determine a number of breed groups: terrier, hound, and sporting, for instance. What the—?

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Healthy dog

The Right Amount of Fiber in Your Dog’s Diet

Should you be adding more fiber to your pets food than whats already there?

Since we’re in the middle of fall, let’s start this discussion about fiber with pumpkins. Dog owners, as well as veterinarians, often add pumpkin to pets’ diets to increase the food’s fiber content, according to the head of the Clinical Nutrition Service at the Tufts Cummings School, Lisa Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN. She hears it all the time, she writes on Tufts’s Petfoodology site ( Most commonly, they report to her that they add anywhere from a quarter teaspoon to two tablespoons of pumpkin to their dog’s chow. What does that amount of fiber do?

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Chihuahua and german shepard

Why Little Dogs Live Longer

Decoding the reasons that as dog size goes up, lifespan goes down.

Why is it that between species, the larger the mammal, the longer it lives (elephants go to about age 60, horses till 25 or 30, dogs up to a range of between 10 to 13, and mice to 2), but within any given species, larger animals die sooner? (A Great Dane might make it to age 8, while some Chihuahuas live to 18.)

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shephard puppy

Filling Your Dog’s Prescriptions at a Human Pharmacy Might be Cheaper, But Is it Always Safe?

Three things you need to know so you dont sacrifice safety for savings.

Gigi, a newly adopted German shepherd mix puppy, was in obvious pain. “At first she would scream out if she was bumped by another dog or if she’d jump down from the couch,” says Gigi’s owner, Abby Baker of Phoenix, Arizona. “It got to the point where she couldn’t walk or stand by herself most of the time.”

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Dog with shoe

Getting to the Bottom of Pica

Its rarely, if ever, about nutrition. Sometimes the condition arises because something is bothering the dog.

Say “pica,” and many people will think of a nutritional deficiency, as in eating a non-food item to get enough of a mineral or vitamin that’s missing from the diet. But pica in people is characterized almost exclusively as a psychological disorder rather than a nutritional one, especially in industrialized countries like the United States; it’s extremely rare that a person will crave something that isn’t food to satisfy a nutritional need.

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