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

March 2018

Full Issue (PDF)

March 2018 - Full Issue PDFSubscribers Only

Features

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...

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

“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...

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth: A PrimerSubscribers Only

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 AbuseSubscribers Only

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...

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...

Reasons Not to Get a Second DogSubscribers Only

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...

News & Views

For Best Quality Sleep, In the Bedroom With You But Not in the Bed

Tufts professor emeritus and animal behaviorist Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, was once at a professional meeting of veterinarians and other dog professionals, when one of the speakers asked how many of the 200 or so people in the room let their dogs sleep in their bedroom with them. Every single hand went up. When the speaker went on to ask how many let their dogs onto the bed with them, 75 percent of the hands remained raised.   More...

A Single Shot to Control Diabetes in Dogs, Rather Than Two Shots a Day?

We all know that diabetes, whether in a person or a dog, can be treated—but what about treated with one injection that lasts for years rather than twice-daily insulin shots? Some exciting research out of Spain suggests it may be true, at least for our canine friends. The promise appears to lie in gene therapy.   More...

Poop Happens, But Perhaps Will No Longer Linger in This Condo’s Backyard

The 147 homes and penthouses of Scarlett Place Condominiums on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor offer fabulous views, 24-hour front desk staff, a pool, fitness center, and rents for a two-bedroom unit climbing to nearly $3,000 a month. What they don’t want to be offering any longer are grounds dotted with dog waste. The condo board is serious enough about the infractions that it is considering replacing surveillance cameras with DNA tests.   More...

More Cities and Towns Going to the Dogs

It’s no secret that former President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush are dog people, as evidenced by Mrs. Bush’s ghostwriting of her dog Millie’s autobiography. So it only makes sense that the couple lives in the very dog-friendly coastal Maine town of Kennebunkport, where shops, outdoor recreation, and events are designed for the enjoyment of dogs and people alike.   More...

Expert Advice

When Memories of Animal Abuse Linger

The summer after I turned 17, I traveled cross-country to spend time with various friends I had made while working at a sleep-away camp a year earlier. One of my stops was Nederland, Colorado, a mountain road away from Boulder, where I stayed for a few days with a pal at his older brother’s house.   More...

Dear Doctor: Comparing Nutrients from one Good to Another

I read with interest in the February issue your lead article about the Guaranteed Analysis on dog food labels — and came away frustrated that dog food labels will not be like people food labels for the foreseeable future, making it next to impossible to compare nutrient levels in two different dog foods. Is there any way to figure it out, maybe with a formula or something?   More...

Dear Doctor: Vaccine Confusion

I asked a receptionist at my vet’s office if she knew about the 3-year schedule for vaccines and why they still give annual shots. She told me that there are two different strengths, and they prefer to give the less potent one annually. Have you heard of this — two different strengths for vaccines?   More...