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DOG HEALTH AND MEDICINE

Fat” and “Obese” are Not Four-Letter Words

People tend to shut down when the veterinarian says their dog is fat or obese. They take it as an affront, often interpreting those words to mean they are being told they are irresponsible pet owners.

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Two Kinds of Drugs for Behavior Problems

There are essentially two types of drugs for dogs who experience high enough levels of anxiety that behavior modification techniques alone don’t keep them feeling calm and secure. One type is often referred to as “in the moment” medication. It means the dog just needs a short-acting drug to help him in particular situations that unnerve him to the point that he becomes aggressive or shows other signs of extreme stress, like cowering or hiding. Such situations might include thunderstorms or having to be near other dogs, say, at the veterinarian’s office. The other type of medication is longer-acting, working around the clock to take the edge off a dog’s chronic anxiety. It operates “in the background,” so to speak.

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Taking a Load Off Your Dog’s Feet, Literally

The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but a dog’s feet are often the windows to her health. Liver disease, allergies, and certain autoimmune conditions are just a few of the illnesses that play out on the feet of our canine pets. Here’s a quick guide to some of the most common diseases to strike dogs on their feet, how to recognize them, and how to treat them.

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Can the dog ever go off epilepsy medication if she stops having seizures?

Q: My 7.5-year-old cockapoo, Lila, has had epilepsy for the past five years. She is currently managed with phenobarbital, Keppra, and potassium bromide. In the early days before effective control, she would have as many as 15 seizures in three days every two weeks. Are there any studies that indicate epilepsy can resolve after a period of time?  I raise this question because her medication has not changed for a long time, and she has gone from one seizure every couple months to none in over six months. This amount of medication, while useful for warding off seizures, seems to keep her docile and relatively inactive. If there was any proof of epilepsy resolving I would consider reducing the medication under the direction of her veterinarian.

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When Eye Gook is Normal; When It’s Not

There’s whitish or clear gook in the inner corner of your dog’s eye. Should you be concerned? Nope. It’s a normal dog thing. Just put warm water on a cotton ball and wipe the lower lid to remove it.

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Dogs Get White Coat Hypertension, Too

High blood pressure readings at the veterinarian’s office can lead to an expensive workup that includes various blood screenings and other tests. After all, canine high blood pressure can be a sign of kidney disease and other serious conditions. But what if your dog simply has white coat hypertension — blood pressure that’s too high at the doctor’s office because of anxiety about being there but perfectly fine at other times?

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When a Dog is Born with a Hole by His Heart

When a developing puppy is growing inside his mother, he does not need to breathe. The oxygen he requires to mature in utero comes not from his lungs but from the umbilical cord. Thus, after coursing through the body, blood does not travel through the fetus’s lungs to pick up oxygen for another pump out to the body by the heart. The lungs remain deflated, and blood bypasses them through a kind of shunt called the ductus arteriosus.

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Librela injections for arthritis

Q: We have an 11-year-old pit bull mix who has a moderate case of arthritis in his legs and shoulders. We have tried cold laser therapy once a week for a few months, but the positive effects fade after a few days. We also have tried a few pain and anti-inflammatory medications prescribed by our veterinarian, but our dog, Ipo, gets digestive upset from all of them. Now our vet is suggesting Librela injections once a month; he highly recommends them. But since Librela is relatively new (especially to us), we would love to see what your veterinary team thinks about its safety, side effects, and efficacy. Thank you.

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Fixing a Dog’s Injured Rotator Cuff

You play tennis long enough, you will likely tear your rotator cuff,” says Tufts veterinary orthopedist Michael Kowaleski, DVM. “A dog does dog things long enough — landing on his front legs jumping down the stairs, and so on — and the shoulder cuff can eventually get torn that way, too.”

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A Surefire Way to Ratchet Down Your Dog’s Pain

When your dog is off leash and won’t come back to you, your natural inclination may be to yell or show exasperation in some other way. It’s understandable. Dogs are faster than we are, and it induces anxiety when they’re in a situation that we can’t control physically. But doing a quick self-check and taking the lead by acting calmly will always serve your pet — and you — better. He’s more likely to return to you if he sees you’re not angry. He’ll be more likely to comply in general if you don’t make a bad situation worse by exhibiting displeasure that will only leave him anxious or confused. But were you aware that not losing it with a hand-wringing response will also serve your dog when he is in pain?

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Dental Sealants to Help Your Dog Avoid Gum Disease?

When a person gets dental sealants, they are applied directly to the chewing surfaces of the teeth — the molars, specifically — to help prevent cavities and other forms of dental disease. The teeth have little fissures, or grooves, that trap food residue (often sticky in nature) and pave the way for tooth decay. The sealants keep the grooves covered and may stay in place for a person’s lifetime.

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Genetically Mapping Canine Cancers Can Help Save Dogs’ Lives

In human medicine, genetic mapping of tumors that have already metastasized has added years to the lives of cancer patients who otherwise would have been near death. By understanding the exact nature of the genetic mutation that caused the cancer, scientists have been able to develop drugs that target malignant tumors with incredible precision, effectively pushing back the advance of life-threatening disease. Now, veterinary researchers have begun the process of pinning down the genomes of tumors in dogs.

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