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

April 2018

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Features

Low-Calorie Treats Will Often Keep Your Dog Just as Happy as Higher-Calorie SnacksSubscribers Only

The Head of the Tufts Obesity Clinic for animals, board-certified veterinary nutritionist Deborah Linder, DVM, points out that while people often say they don’t mind a fat dog because it just means there’s more of their pet to love, that leaves less time to love her. A landmark study that followed dogs for more than a decade found that those who were just 10 to 20 percent overweight — not even obese — lived, on average, almost two years less than their svelte counterparts.   More...

Is the Licking Medical or Behavioral? Or Both?Subscribers Only

Deb Nicholas of Fremont, Ohio, is worried. Her 11-year-old yellow Lab, Racer, has run the gamut of problems with licking himself after surgeries and when he has seasonal hotspots. He also licks obsessively when something upsets him — a bee buzzing by, someone accidentally bumping into him, etc. A lot of times he just sits and licks the air.   More...

A Whiff of IllnessSubscribers Only

When it comes to the sense of smell, dogs leave us in the dust. They have nearly 20 times more primary smell receptor cells in their noses than people do. They can detect scents at concentrations at least 100 times less than humans can. In some instances, they can detect scents at concentrations a million times less than we can. And if you ironed out the aroma-detecting membranes covering the scrolled-up, coral like bones in a dog’s nose, their surface would be the size of a pocket handkerchief, while ours would be roughly the size of a thumbnail.   More...

Harnessing Your Wayward Dog

She lunges. She races. Worst of all, perhaps, is when she digs in her heels and slips out backward, Houdini-like, leaving you with only a leash and collar where once was your dog.   More...

For Dogs With Mobility Issues, Some Harnesses Let You Literally Lend a HandSubscribers Only

Arthritis, hip dysplasia, joint surgery, degenerative myelopathy, vestibular disease, and other causes of compromised mobility are good reasons to consider a dog mobility harness. These incorporate a sling to help support your pet’s front or hind legs, employing your own strength to provide a lift for your pet so she can rise to her feet, get up the stairs or into and out of the car, or have some support when she needs to relieve herself.   More...

For the Sake of the "Child"

Alison Murphy and Jesse Hlava were over. After six years together, there were “a lot of conversations about what we both wanted,” Ms. Murphy says, “and we weren’t having the same idea of what the future would look like.   More...

News & Views

Yes, They Can Read Our Faces. Now It’s Time to Learn to Read Theirs.

It’s well established that when a dog licks her lips, it means she is feeling nervous or anxious. (People do it, too.) Now, new research shows that they lick their lips in response to our angry faces. British and Brazilian researchers reporting in the journal Behavioural Processes made the finding when they observed 17 family dogs of various breeds looking at pictures of people with either happy/playful facial expressions or angry/aggressive ones. The dogs licked their mouths significantly more frequently when looking at the bad-mood faces (more than twice as much, on average).   More...

Cruisin

Most cruise lines do not allow dogs unless they are service animals, and for good reason. There’s no good place for them to play on the ships, no place to relieve themselves, strict health codes that would be hard to stick to with dogs aboard, and laws about quarantining depending on the ports of call visited by the ocean liners. One exception, and only one, is Cunard Cruise Line’s Queen Mary II, which sails between New York and Southampton, England. The dogs on that boat are treated in style — with fleece blankets, a complimentary portrait with you, and a kennel master who takes care of walks, indoor play time, and clean-up.   More...

Expert Advice

Dear Doctor: The Puppy won’t stop Jumping on People

My new puppy is adorable, but at 12 weeks of age, he has already developed a habit of jumping on people. It’s clearly a sign of affection, but not everybody likes it. Besides, he’s a Lab, and I fear that as he grows, the excitement and happiness he exhibits by jumping is going to be taken with less and less good cheer by people we come across. I keep telling him “Down,” but it doesn’t work. Any suggestions?   More...

Dear Doctor: Should a Dog Diagnosed with Cancer be seeing a Veterinary Oncologist?

My dog has just been diagnosed with a mast cell tumor, which my vet said is cancerous. She also said the cancer is a grade 2, meaning not as good as a grade 1 but still better than a grade 3, which she says does not respond well to treatment. She says the treatment plan should include surgery to remove the mass plus radiation. My question is, should I be taking my dog to a specialist at this point, or can her regular vet handle the treatment?   More...