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


Getting to the Bottom of Pica

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. More

Funny, You Don’t Look Poodlish

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. More

The Right Amount of Fiber in Your Dog’s Diet

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? More

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

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.” More

Why Little Dogs Live Longer

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.) More

A Member of the Wedding?

“10 Ways to Include Your Dog in the Wedding,” was the way one headline read in a recent issue of a bridal magazine. Tip number 2 in the article: “Dress your furry friend up in a tuxedo and/or cuffs to serve as a handsome ring bearer.” The suggestion was accompanied by a photo of a little boy in his own tux pulling on a nattily dressed dog’s white collar. The dog did not look particularly happy. More