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

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Would Your Dog Be Happier With a Second Dog?

“Initially, in partnerships between people and dogs, dogs weren’t locked up in houses alone,” the Head of the Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic, Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, points out. “They got to go with people everywhere. They and their human companions were always together.” Even less than 100 years ago, many companion dogs did not sit in the house until they were walked once or twice a day but were allowed to roam the neighborhood on their own, with fewer cars on local roads to threaten their safety. Today, the opportunity for dogs to socialize is in many cases greatly diminished. Thus, the decision whether to bring home a second dog is often a decision between no companionship for most of the daylight hours and constant companionship. More

The 6 Misconceptions That Prevent People from Taking the Best Care of Their Dogs’ Teeth

“When I see a patient and take a history from the owner, asking ‘How often do you brush your dog’s teeth?’ I get responses like ‘Oh, you need to brush their teeth?’ Or ‘My groomer does it when he goes in for grooming,’” says board-certified veterinary dentist Bonnie Shope, VMD, past chair of the American Veterinary Dental College’s Examination Committee and Training Support Committee. “Sometimes they expect kudos when they respond that they brush their pet’s teeth once a month." More

Improving Dogs’ Arthritis Pain With Diet

No dog treat or dietary supplement is allowed to say it actually treats or cures arthritis. That would be a health claim — and a flagrant violation of Food and Drug Administration regulations forbidding health claims on products that haven’t been proven with clear-cut scientific evidence, meaning research and clinical trials conducted according to strict protocols. Health claims are generally reserved for drugs, not foods or supplements you can get without a prescription. More

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth: A Primer

A lot of dogs don’t mind having their teeth brushed. They like the sensation, they like the flavors of doggie toothpaste (beef, poultry, seafood, and so on), and, most of all, they like the “you” aspect of it. The more time you spend focused on your pet, the happier they are. More

Beyond Supplements

Fish oil, glucosamine/chondroitin combos, and green-lipped mussels are not the only ingredients added to food and dietary supplements to improve your dog’s joint pain. Some veterinarians also prescribe polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, a constituent of joint fluid. Like glucosamine/chondroitin combo tablets, it can take several weeks to a couple of months to take effect, so if you’re inclined to try it for your dog, don’t give up without really giving it a go. More

Stepping Up to Report Abuse

Neighbors had been seeing signs of abuse for a while. Just a couple of nights before the arrest, in fact, one man had witnessed the Everett, Massachusetts, resident hitting his 10-month-old pit bull with a stick. Others had seen him kicking the puppy and stomping on him. Some had tried to step in at times, asking if the dog was okay, only to be shooed away. More

Reasons Not to Get a Second Dog

Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic Head Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil makes very clear that in general, adding a new dog to a dog’s home life is an improvement in quality of life for the first pet. It’s not that remaining a one-dog household is “bad.” It is always a good thing to give any dog, even if it’s an only dog, a loving home where it’s well cared for, and no one should feel guilty for not taking in a second canine pet if that doesn’t work for them. But the doctor feels strongly enough about dogs needing canine companionship that she says those who choose to remain a one-dog household should consider doggie day care so their pet can run with their own kind — or at least make sure they frequent dog-friendly parks where there are other dogs around to cavort in ways that only dogs can. More