Dogs and Nail Disorders

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The nail bed or nail disorders in canines are terms given to any disease or abnormality which affects the dog’s claw or the immediate area surrounding it. The medical name for such a condition is dystrophy. One infection termed paronychia, results in inflammation around the claw or nail. There could be onychomycosis or fungal infections encircling the nail bed.  Canines may suffer from onychorrhexis or extremely brittle nails. The nails could chip, slough, or peel away too- a condition known as onychomadesis. A majority of nail bed or nail disorders can be treated in a comparatively shorter time. The treatment of prognosis is excellent in such cases.

Signs and diagnosis

A few signs are observed in a dog suffering from nail bed or its nail disorders. It includes licking at paws or lameness. The dog will have difficulty walking. The canine’s feet will be in pain. There will be redness or swelling of tissues which are found surrounding the nails. The nail plate could be deformed. This is the component of the nail which overlays the animal’s nail bed. The color of the nail will also be an abnormal one.

Your dog can suffer from nail disorders due to many reasons like infection, cancer or tumor, immune system, congenital (present during birth) disorders, fungus or bacteria, trauma, excessive growth hormone levels, or cutting nails too near to nail bed. If you find that the nail bed of your dog has suffered an injury, check to verify whether only one nail is being affected. In case, the condition has affected many nails; the cause could be a serious underlying disorder. Scrape the skin to find out what kind of skin condition your dog has. Send the fungal or bacterial culture to the laboratory for more detailed analysis as well.

Treatment

The treatment of such disorders will depend on the specific underlying medical condition which causes the nail bed or nail complication. In case of inflammation in the nail area, the nail plate could be surgically removed. This is a must to drain the underlying tissue. Antimicrobial and antibiotic soaks are given to reduce or prevent inflammation. This will also bolster the healing process. If this condition is linked to a fungal or bacterial infection, then you should administer ointments or topical treatments to the affected area. It is observed, that in a majority of cases, the application of an ointment or the topical treatment clears up the majority of the nail issues. It is essential that you monitor your dog’s progress as the animal recovers. Do consult your veterinarian if the healing process is slower than the standard rate. When you clip your dog’s nails, do not cut it too near to the canine’s nail bed. If the cut is too near, then the vein could be reduced, exposing the dog to infection.

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Does Your Dog Prefer Petting?

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For dog lovers, it seems that their hands and a dog’s head are supposed to go together. Most dogs like nothing more than to be petted. As a dog owner, it is essential to know precisely where to pet your dog. To do this, you must learn to read the signs which dogs give before petting, during the activity, and after petting gets over. Yes, there is actual science behind it.

The dog must initiate

You must have heard of the adage of allowing a sleeping dog to continue in its sleeping. Follow this advice. If you want to pet any dog, the animal should set the terms-and not you. Even if your dog likes nothing more than a heavy petting it should initiate the activity and not you. This is not only true for the dog you just met, or your friend’s dog, the same rule is applicable for your own dog as well. A dog which wants to be petted will sniff you. You can see its ears and body become visibly relaxed. If the dog nuzzles up with you or wiggle while leaning towards you, it means the dog wants from you a good round of petting. Go on, pet the dog!

Good petting takes knowledge of where to touch so that the dog likes you. Pet the animal on the shoulder and chest. You can also pet it on the base of its neck and not move your hand on the top of its head. Start by slowly stroking the animal and then do a little light massage. Do not venture your hand towards the tail base or under its chin. Avoid the back of its neck. Do not by any circumstance grab its head and roughly cuddle its ears. No dog will like this behavior. If you are familiar with the dog, then you could vary the petting area and experiment on what it likes. When you complete your petting, say something like g”go” and repeat it after every session that the dog does not again come to you for another round of petting.

Friends with your dog Do remember, that dogs do not regard petting as a way to bond with their owners. It allows you to pet mostly for your pleasure, and the dog wants to be friends with you. As a dog owner, you should pet in such a manner that your dog likes the activity and it is sure that such an action on your part will keep it safe, calm, and loved. It is vital that you pet your dog regularly and also permit your family and friends to pet the animal the way it likes. The best is to adopt a puppy, and you help it when it is growing up to make a pleasant personality.

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Digestive Problem in Cats

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It is common for cats to suffer from digestive problems a few times in their lives. The list of symptoms includes variation in appetite accompanied by constipation, vomiting, or diarrhea. The cat will also drink more water or less, and it will have an unkempt or dull coat. There will be a loss of weight if the disease is a chronic one.

Acute or chronic digestive problem

Digestive problems in cats could be either chronic or acute. Acute digestive issues are frequently self-limiting in felines. The cats suffering from chronic digestive issues need an exhaustive veterinary examination to find out the underlying causes so that appropriate treatment can be administered. The list of tests includes a fecal exam to test for the presence of parasites, a full CBC profile, feline immunodeficiency virus tests, feline leukemia exam, and x-rays. An ultrasound will also be done if your cat continuously vomits. Older cats should be subjected to thyroid profile and a urine analysis. If it is a chronic digestive case, then endoscopic biopsies may also need to be done.

Take your cat to the veterinarian if diarrhea and vomiting continue for more than a couple of days. This is important to avoid the onset of liver or kidney complications. There could be infections in addition to dehydration too. Your veterinarian will provide symptomatic medications to relieve the symptoms. Intravenous fluids could be given to prevent and also treat dehydration.

Stomach problems

Cats suffering from intestines, stomach, or pancreas inflammation may vomit. A feline which has ingested hair in excessive quantities may have stomach upset. This is usually found in cats who overgroom. Another notable cause is foreign body ingestion.  This is particularly true for cats who like to eat dental floss, rubber bands, and tinsel. Another cause is the development of dietary hypersensitivities which may happen to any feline of any age. If you see your car vomiting continuously, restrict its food anywhere from 12 to 24 hours so that the digestive tract inflammation subsides during that time. You can also feed your kitty baby food like lamb or turkey baby food. These are bland and could help in making your furball better. If your cat has ingested too much hair, it is suggested that you give it a cat-specific laxative. Lubricants like cod liver oil could be given to soften up hair or foreign materials lodged within the cat’s stomach. A complete medical examination is a must if the condition of the cat gets worse. Diarrhea is a marker of intestinal inflammation. It has a mucuosy or watery appearance. Blood could be present if the place of intestinal inflammation is in the colon. The standard symptoms of colitis are inappropriate defecation outside litterbox, straining, and urgency. The slippery elm herb is a common solution in such cases.

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Dewclaws in Dogs

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A careful observation of your dog’s feet will reveal a unique aspect of their toenails. A majority of dogs possess four nails. The front feet, however, have five nails. This extra nail located on the inner and upper portion of the canine’s foot is termed a dewclaw. Do not be afraid if your dog is different. A few dogs possess dewclaws on rear feet. Some canines even have double dewclaws.

Types of dewclaws

A dewclaw is the big toe or thumb of the canine. They cannot be termed as equivalent to the human ones, but they could be described as similar. If you look at the foot of your dog, you will see that the toes which touch the ground correspond to our index, pinky, middle, and ring fingers. The thumb-if it can be called so- is the dewclaw. The same description can be given for any dewclaw provided dog hind foot. The dewclaw, in this case, could be described as the big toe.

It is important to note as to whether the dewclaw is well attached to the dog’s foot. It is seen that if the dewclaw is a single one, it will be attached well. You can touch the dewclaw and wiggle it in the forward and backward direction. The bones present inside can be felt. Any double or the rear dewclaws are attached to the foot only be a paw. These are much more mobile.

Function and removal

Dewclaws can be functional. A dewclaw which is attached through the bone to the front foot of the dog serves a definite aim. When your dog runs, its front feet frequently bends to a point where the dewclaws of the canine touch the ground. These dewclaws on slippery surfaces at high speeds offer greater traction. They also help to stabilize the wrist or carpal joint. A few dogs also use dewclaws to assist them in climbing trees and holding food to chew it more firmly. In colder climates, a dewclaw helps the dog to climb up ice. The usefulness of dewclaws which are attached solely by skin is unclear. You should not remove the front dewclaw as it serves a number of useful purposes. A dewclaw of a dog, in extremely rare cases, could develop a disease or could be injured. Only in such cases would you remove the dewclaw of the dog. Such problems, however, are not much seen and removal of healthy front dewclaws makes no sense. Veterinarians mostly remove the loosely attached rear or double dewclaws to stop any injury from happening. These surgeries are debatable as such injuries are rare, and the procedures do not serve any purpose. Most veterinarians do this surgery when the dog gets neutered or spayed.

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Can Cats be Left-handed

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All of us love cats’ paws. The Internet serves up cats playing with their views to millions of visitors across the world. Keen observers have noticed that cats do have specific preferences when extending a paw to open a can of food or other important tasks. It is not random to see a cat using a particular paw to do tasks.  Scientific research has discovered that many pet cats exhibit a clear preference for their left front paw or right front paw when it is the matter of walking down the stairs, touching food, or even when they step over any object. Such preferences are also observed to be different by sex. Female cats use their right paw more and male cats their left ones. According to researchers, such a difference could happen due to the presence of sex hormones.

Observable characteristics

These results also offer clues concerning how domestic cats manage stress. Research done in humans has discovered a correlation of left-handedness and schizophrenia or such like conditions. A vast majority of humans use the right hand for tasks like brushing teeth and writing. Scientists have then compared this human characteristic with other animals, including cats. They studied which paws cats generally prefer and tried to find out how such behavior evolved. They also probed into the brain to comprehend the driving factors. To find out whether cats exhibit handedness, they observed many cats, evenly distributed between males and females. All the cats were observed for a couple of months.

The scientists observed three behavioral characteristics: the paw cats utilized to take their first step into the litter box and the paw they used to climb down the initial step in a flight of stairs. The third on which side the cats reclined to relax on. The scientists also measured the definite paw used by the cats when they reach through the provided narrow hole to get food from their plastic feeder. These were all spontaneous behaviors in the natural environment of the cat. A paw preference was observed in almost three-quarters of the observed felines. It was seen that females are much more probable to employ their right paw. The males, in contrast, tend to be lefties.

About your cat As a cat owner, it will be easy for you to find out whether your cat is left paw or right paw. Take a notebook and carefully observe your kitty when it walks down or up the stairs. Make a note which paw it extends first when entering the litter box. Do these over a period of several days, and you will have sufficient data to make a sound judgment on whether your cat is a southpaw or not.

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Senior Cats’ Dementia

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You may have observed behavioral changes in your cat as it grows older. Like humans, older cats could suffer from dementia — the medical term for this condition is cognitive dysfunction syndrome. A reduction of cognitive function is typical for older cats. A majority of cats tend to show some specific signs, although every cat has its peculiarity. There will be noticeable changes in the cat’s behavior due to disorientation and loss of memory. There are also many other factors which can confuse the older cat. As an owner, do not dismiss such behavior as signs of old age. Most of these behaviors are signs of different medical issues and illnesses. It is a good idea to visit a veterinarian.

Vocalization and litter box training

Every cat has its unique vocalization. Some cats are quiet and purr while others constantly meow. The onset of dementia will change the cat’s vocalization. A cat suffering from cognitive dysfunction tends to meow more. This happens as the older cat cannot recognize its surroundings and meow to ask for help. This behavior becomes more acute at night. It is to be noted that vocalization could change due to other factors like pain due to injury or arthritis. Hyperthyroidism may also play a part. It is dementia only if the cat has no illnesses.

Dementia may lead to an older cat forgetting its litter box training. Cats are naturally clean and ignoring their litter box training is one of the surer signs of dementia. A cat suffering from cognitive dysfunction will urinate and defecate in inappropriate circumstances. Then again, the underlying cause could be a disease too. Contact the veterinarian as soon as possible to diagnose and start treatment. Another sign of dementia in cats is the lack of attention towards personal grooming. If your cat neglects to do this, then it is a bad sign. This could be either dementia or a disease. There will be a lack of grooming if the cat is too fat. The feline will then be unable to reach all parts of its body.

More meowing during the night A sign of dementia in senior cats is that it will be more active during the night. Felines are nocturnal by nature, and a dementia-afflicted cat will meow more in the night. It is common for older cats to become disoriented when others sleep. This may lead to separation anxiety. The older cat may even confuse between daytime and nighttime. It will sleep peacefully through the day but spend its night vocalizing. A better sign of progressive cognitive decline is the cat sleeping much longer than usual. To give an example, it will not wake up during dinner or does not come to the door when you come back to your house after a long day’s work.

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Preparing the Dog’s Paws for Winter

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Winter could be tough on your dog’s paw pads. This body part is exposed to the elements and modern day toxic pollution. The pads are at risk of chemical burns, drying, frostbite, cracking, and trauma. There are however some ways through which you can help your dog to avoid them and keep the paws healthy and happy at the time when the temperature significantly drops. Many protective balms are available in the market, and some human use products are helpful too. Do a little research and buy the product most suitable for your dog. Once you bring a balm home, you have to do some activities to keep your dog safe in winter.

Applying balm

The first step is to prepare the paws. The paws should be ready before the balm application. Healthy winter feet is possible only if you groom your dog well. In-case your dog has long hairs, use clippers to cut the hair between paw pads so that the length of the hair is even with the pad. Trim hair around paws to make sure that the hair does not touch the ground. This will prevent ice ball formation around and between the paw pads. Ice formation is extremely painful and can be traumatic to the dog. Apply balm to pads. Although the nails should be trimmed all through the year, it is more important to do so in winter as the long nails compel the paw to wideout. This makes it more probable that ice and snow will collect between the pads.

Dog boots

Apply balm as a thin layer before you take out your dog for its winter walk. Wipe the dog’s paws after you two finish the walk. Use a warm washcloth to wipe and remove ice, ice melt, and snow. Once you do this, apply another layer of balm. This will soothe the irritation, and it will also prevent the paw from drying out. If you cannot locate balm, then regular human-use vaseline will do the trick. Another excellent alternative to protect your dog’s paws is to buy dog boots. They are sold in most pet stores. The boot is sock-like and has velcro straps. The straps keep the shoes in position. A few boots come with soles which offer the extra benefit of traction. The boots help the paws to stay dry. They also prevent exposure to de-icers and salt. After you strap on the boots, make sure they are not too tight. The fit should be a snug one. It should not be loose as the boots will come off. You should acclimatise your dog to wear boots as canines do not like to wear them

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Pharyngitis in Dogs

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Your dog cannot vocalize the pain in its throat. You become aware only when you observe visible signs like sneezing, froth or bad breath. Pharyngitis is quite a common disease in canines. The problem is that it may sometimes indicate more severe disease. The source of the problem is the pharynx, and thus its name. The pharynx is the walls of the throat, and it becomes swollen either due to bacterial or viral infection. These could be gum disease or distemper or mouth cancer. The dog may also injure its throat when it chews a sharp object. The tonsils are also at risk.

Cause

The common cause of pharyngitis is a variation of the saliva acidity. There could be many reasons behind such a change. The foremost reason is the throat being damaged by sharp objects like porcupine quills, bone parts, or thorns. Mouth cancer is also another fairly common cause. Pharyngitis can also occur if the upper respiratory system succumbs to bacterial infection. Tonsilitis and viral diseases like distemper are yet another cause.

Variations of saliva acidity play a significant part. Kennel cough like respiratory system infections could lead to pharyngitis. Any injury to the throat and mouth or sinus infections may also lead to this condition. Your dog could suffer if something gets stuck in its throat. Other than these, the incidence of tooth disease or a gum one could play a part. Failure of the liver or kidney also leads to pharyngitis. The cause behind this problem could also be distemper, parvovirus, and multiple other systemic diseases. The reason may also be an autoimmune diseases like hypothyroidism or canine lupus.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Your dog will exhibit a few symptoms when afflicted with pharyngitis. You must keep track of all its manifestations. Note down their progress. This will help the veterinarian to diagnose the condition correctly. The list of symptoms include a dry cough which becomes more acute at night, and the canine finds it hard to swallow food. The dog’s tonsils get swollen, and a white mucus covers the red pharynx. Vomiting is a common occurrence along with drooling and gagging. The breathing will turn complicated due to possible abscesses present in the throat. This condition complicates breathing as well; Swollen gums are accompanied by bad breath and fever. Sneezing is common. There will be a bloody discharge if your dog has swallowed any sharp object. The veterinarian may do multiple tests to make sure that the correct diagnosis is being done. The medical professional will look at the symptoms both individually and collectively to find out the exact problem suffered by your dog. The veterinarian will also find the strain of the virus or the infection which affects the dog.

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Overactive Thyroid in Cats

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Overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism is a common glandular disorder found in cats. The cause of an overactive thyroid is an excessive amount of thyroxine circulating in the body. The thyroid hormone is popularly known as T4 in the bloodstream. Increased appetite and loss of weight are common clinical signs in cats afflicted with this condition. About 98 percent of hyperthyroid cats suffer from weight loss. A hearty appetite is observed in 81 percent. The list of other symptoms includes excessive thirst, unkempt appearance, diarrhea, a rise in urination, panting, and increased shedding.

Signs and diagnosis

About 50 percent of hyperthyroidism affected cats suffer from vomiting. The clinical signs are results of rising T4 on the different organ systems. This disorder can strike any breed of cat, and both the sexes.  A vast majority of those afflicted cats are older, with this disorder rarely observed in young kittens. The median age when hyperthyroidism affects a cat ranges between 12 years to 13 years. Only rarely does this happen to cats below six years of age.

Diagnosing hyperthyroidism can be a little hard as the disorder shares many symptoms with other diseases like chronic kidney failure, diabetes, and intestinal cancer.  No wonder your veterinarian would battery test your kitty. A urinalysis, CBC, and a chemistry panel will not help to diagnose hyperthyroidism fully, but will enable your veterinarian to cross off kidney failure and diabetes from the list. Although cats suffer from hyperthyroid would get normal urinalysis and CBC findings, the chemistry panel frequently exhibits a rise of a number of liver enzymes. Definitive diagnosis in most cases is made through a simple test done by extracting the blood. If the T4 levels are high, then the cat inevitably suffers from hyperthyroidism. There is a problem though: about 10 percent of cats suffering from hyperthyroidism will have normal T4 levels.

Complications and treatment

The T4 levels can fluctuate in and out of the cat’s normal range. Another problem is that any concurrent illness may suppress the higher T4 levels, and push them into the normal range. In older cats, concurrent diseases are, and an inexperienced veterinarian could be fooled into thinking that the cat suffering from hyperthyroidism may not have the disease at all. For hyperthyroid cats, many treatments are there. Each procedure has its advantages and disadvantages. The most common treatment is oral medication Methimazole. It has for a long time been a vital drug therapy for hyperthyroidism affected felines. It is incredibly effective but comes with some unpleasant side effects. Alternatively, you can opt for the thyroid gland to be removed. The anesthesia, however, could be a problem for older cats. The most effective and safest treatment is the radioactive iodine therapy. No surgery is needed.

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Massaging Your Dog

Everyone loves a good massage-including your dog. The one who receives the massage benefits from lower blood pressure. Stress is reduced for both the recipient and the masseuse (you). The activity takes only a few minutes every day. Massaging your dog is easy.You merely have to learn a few tricks (for a change).

Maintenance massage

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You could give your dog a daily massage. It takes only 10 minutes and is colloquially known as “maintenance massage.” You need your flat palm to do this. Make your firm flat and all parts of your dog’s body. Focus and pay attention to the layers you touch, be it hair, skin, muscle, and fat. You can also touch bone. Your dog will love the massage when you do that. When you do a maintenance massage, you do more than making your dog happy. Other than your hands getting exercise, you will have a better picture when it comes to your dog’s medical care, surgery, and medications. You can now better inform the veterinarian about the dog’s physical and even mental condition. Your pet’s quality of life will be vastly improved.

Massaging is an excellent way to calm a nervous dog. This practice comes in handy when there is thunder in the sky, or someone is bursting firecrackers outside or inside the house. Rest your hand lightly with the palm side on the dog’s neck or head. Make sweeping and long passes along the spine length and then down the dog’s tail. Do this and repeat a few times. You can slowly increase the pressure if your dog likes to be massaged by you. It is advisable not to press straight to the lower portion of the back.  When you want to finish the massage, your one hand should rest on your dog’s head, and the other side must rest over the pelvis. The two areas are the part of the dog’s spinal cord which controls the relaxation responses of your dog. Use this technique whenever the dog is nervous.

Important routine for your dog You can massage your dog to warm it up. It is an important component of any fitness routine as the practice warms up the body. This is essential for a dog especially if it is a pup. Begin with multiple strokes over the entire body of the dog. Rub the bigger muscles quickly in the shoulders, thighs and the neck area. Stroke the dog’s buttocks too. Lift and squeeze the muscles gently. Your fingers should do what you knead dough. Wrap your fingers around the dogs’ legs and press in a gentle manner. Relax grip and move up the body. Finish with extra petting over the full body to stimulate nerves.

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