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


Choosing the Right Doggie Daycare

In the best of all possible worlds, if you have a dog at home, you will be home, too. Or a second dog will be there so the two can keep each other company. Granted, a lot of adult dogs can deal with the boredom, loneliness, and frustration of having no one to interact with all day, but it doesn’t mean they like it. And it certainly isn’t good for their physical or mental health to lie around with no outlet for their considerable energy or mental acuity and curiosity. As The Pets Hotel, an Australian doggie daycare business explains, dogs are not nocturnal animals. While they are naturally crepuscular, meaning that they have a penchant for activity at dawn and dusk, they also like to spend a fair amount of daylight hours engaged in physical activity and exploration and interaction with their environment — and with other living beings. More

Why Psychotropic Medication to Help a Dog Through a Behavioral Issue Is Not a “Last Resort”

One of the big things people worry about is drugging their dog,” says Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, the board-certified animal behaviorist who heads the Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic. She is referring to clients’ reactions when she suggests that their dog could use a psychotropic medication to get them over the behavioral hump, whether for separation anxiety, fear aggression, or some other emotionally charged issue. “They think that using a psychotropic medication means sedating a dog out of her troubles,” the doctor says. “It’s sort of a holdover from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. More

Curing, Rather than Simply Treating, Heart Disease

Say “heart disease” when referring to people, and you’re usually talking about narrowed arteries that impede blood flow to the heart muscle, which increases the chances for a heart attack. Say “heart disease” when referring to dogs, and you’re usually talking about a faulty valve between heart chambers that keeps blood from flowing forward, as it’s supposed to. Instead, the heart enlarges from pumping harder than it should have to, and fluid eventually backs up into the lungs. That’s congestive heart failure, and it means the dog keeps gasping for air until he finally reaches a point that he can no longer breathe. More

Decoding One of the Biggest Sources of Confusion on Dog Food Labels: The Guaranteed Analysis

Look at the label on any package of dog food, and the most dizzying part will no doubt be the Guaranteed Analysis, a bunch of numbers given either as percentages or “milligrams per kilogram” with no accompanying key to explain their meaning in a dog’s diet. To make matters more complicated still, each number is listed as a “minimum” or “maximum,” so you don’t know whether you’re getting the least or, conversely, the most allowed. It’s very different from the numbers on the Nutrition Facts label for food eaten by people, which gives more practical information that tells the serving size, the calories in that serving size, and what percentage that serving provides of the total amount advised for various nutrients. It also easily allows people to compare apples to apples, so to speak: one jar of tomato sauce to another, one brand of yogurt to another. Why are the numbers on a dog food label so arcane, by contrast? More

One Man’s Transatlantic Journey to Save His Dog’s Life

Dave Errico of a suburb just north of Boston was told during a veterinary visit that his dog had 3 to 6 months to live. That dog was Robby, a 10-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel — the breed most prone to developing a diseased mitral valve that leads to congestive heart failure. More