6 Natural Remedies for Your Dog’s Itchy Skin

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Skin allergies are a common problem among dogs and owners and veterinarians alike are constantly fighting to make dogs more comfortable. Dogs, like people, can be allergic to just about anything, from their food to the environment. While there are many different medications to help deal with allergy symptoms, many of us prefer to go a more natural route first to make sure we’ve tried all of the safest options. Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog any treatments or supplements, but if you’re looking to try some natural allergy remedies, consider these.

#1 – Proper Bathing & Grooming

This might not seem like a “natural” remedy, but if your dog suffers from environmental allergies, frequent bathing and grooming is going to offer much needed comfort. Using soothing ingredients such as oatmeal in the shampoos will help your dog’s skin feel softer and will relieve the itching they feel. Depending on the severity of your dog’s allergies, bathing once a week will greatly improve your dog’s condition. Brushing and combing will also help remove dead skin and coat, promoting new growth and removing allergens on top of the skin and fur.

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Image source: maureen_sill via Flickr

#2 – Feed a Wholesome Diet

Your dog’s diet might be completely overlooked if your dog only suffers environmental allergens. But the more natural your dog’s diet, the better their bodies are able to fight off and heal from allergies and external stressors. If your dog is allergic to certain ingredients, you’ll want to avoid those ingredients and replace them with something else. Grain-free diets are highly recommended for dogs with any type of allergy (or no allergy at all!) but if this isn’t possible, consider feeding organic, whole grains. The better your dog’s nutrition, the better their overall health and their ability to fight off allergens.

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Image source: Oleg. via Flickr

#3 – Try Apple Cider Vinegar

Organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider offers many benefits to dogs suffering from allergies. If your dog has hot spots or itchy skin, you can apply a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar and water to your dog. Put the solution in a spray bottle for easy use. This same spray will help repel fleas and ticks – a common allergen for many dogs. You can also use it to clean out your dog’s ears. The acidity of the mixture makes for an environment that yeast can’t live in – and yeast infections are typically caused by allergies. Make sure that the acidity isn’t too strong for your dog – some prefer a different mixture than the 50/50 suggested.

#4 – Manage Heat & Moisture

Your dog’s environment plays a large role in the health of their skin. Be sure to keep your home appropriately cooled and use a humidifier in dry conditions. When grooming, avoid using a high heat blow dryer, which might be faster but wreaks havoc on your dog’s sensitive skin.

Make sure your dog always has access to fresh, filtered water. Dogs on a dry kibble diet are in need of more moisture in their diets than dogs that eat a home-cooked, raw, or wet food diet.

#5 – Consider Applying Calendula

Calendula is a member of the sunflower family and offers several benefits to dogs with allergies. Either made into a tea or gel, applying calendula to your dog’s skin will help relieve inflammation from allergies. It also has natural anti-fungal and anti-yeast properties. It also helps improve your dog’s immune system when taken internally, so consider this as an allergy treatment as well.

#6 – Add Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplementation

Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely beneficial to dogs with allergies. These oils help improve your dog’s skin and coat by keeping the natural oils present in healthy amounts. Omega-3s also work as anti-inflammatories and greatly reduce the intensity of allergens. There are many Omega-3 fatty acids on the market, and you’ll want to look for something that works quickly to support a soft, silky coat, minimize normal shedding, and maintain the skin’s normal moisture content, such as Project Paws™ Omega-3 Select soft chews.

Learn More About Our Omega-3 Skin & Coat Support Chews

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. 

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From The Vet: 5 Things You Should Know About Bathing Your Dog

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All dogs need to be cleaned sometimes, and some more than others! Because humans bathe frequently and take good hygiene for granted, we may think that baths are not particularly important or difficult, but there are some things that you should know when it comes to canine cleansing.

1. All shampoos are not created equal.

Consumer advocates have published blog posts that declare that the human shampoo market is just a scam and that all shampoos are the same. It could be true for human shampoos (although I have my likes and dislikes), but for dogs, there actually can be a difference. Some shampoos have additives to kill parasites. Some have ingredients to battle oily skin and hair. Some are even bacterial or anti-fungal. Don’t just randomly choose a shampoo for your dog. Read labels and ask your veterinary team for their input.

Image Source: Christopher Connell via Flickr

2. You can overdo it.

Shampoos usually contain ingredients that strip oil to help the coat feel fresh and clean. Stripping the oils from a pet’s coat can be done too often. Take into account your pet’s type of hair and ask your veterinary team to help you decide how often your dog needs a good bath. If you have to bathe your dog more than once weekly, you might ask your veterinarian or groomer for input on a good quality coat conditioner. Again, if your pet has a skin problem, don’t ask anyone but your veterinarian. Skin disease is a very common reality and will require medical management under the care of a vet.

3. It does not need to be a battle.

Dogs can be trained to enjoy baths, but only if you are patient. Since baths don’t hurt, they don’t have to be scary. Train your dog that baths are good. Use warm and comfortable water. Instead of spraying with a hose or sprayer, use a cup to pour the rinse water over the dog. Higher pressure water can be frightening. Keep a bucket of treats available that are so special that she looks forward to them. She can only get them when she is in the bath and being cooperative, though. Make it fun for both of you.

4. Beware of medical skin problems.

There can be medical reasons that define when and how to bathe your dog. Dogs get skin conditions just like people. They can have seborrhea (excessive oil production) or even seborrheic dermatitis (which means the skin is actually inflamed in addition to oily). Atopic dermatitis affects the skin and hair coat of lots of dogs and a shampoo protocol may be a part of the treatment plan. These shampoos are usually available by prescription only, so don’t be fooled by internet knock offs.

Image Source: Oleg Shpyrko via Flickr

5. Bathing can be a “water hazard”.

The hazard comes if you get water into your dog’s ears. If you do, use a drying ear cleanser as soon as you can. Water in the ears can predispose ears to infection by making the dark and warm area even more of a resort for bacteria and yeast by being damp. Be sure that you don’t accidentally get water in the ears as you bathe and never purposefully put water (or any liquid) in the ears unless it is specifically designed and labeled for that purpose. Those DIY ear rinses containing water or peroxide can be a recipe for disaster! There are commercial solutions made to help dry out moisture in the ears, so if your dog swims or you do get water in the ears when bathing, you can use one of those.

Baths are a necessary part of hygiene, but may not be as innocuous as they seem to us. If you are not careful, you can create more issues than you solve with baths done incorrectly. Take advantage of the relationship you have with your vet to get good quality advice, even if you feel that you have a veterinarian that you cannot approach and communicate with, be sure to try to start the conversation!

Do you love to learn about dogs? I love talking about them! Find me on Facebook by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

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Class Action Lawsuit Calls Prescription Pet Foods A Scam

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Several manufacturers of canine and feline prescription diets, as well as PetSmart, Banfield Pet Hospitals and Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners have become the targets of litigation. A class action lawsuit alleges that Hill’s Pet Nutrition (makers of Science Diet), Nestle Purina (makers of Purina Veterinary Diets), and Mars Petcare (makers of Royal Canin Veterinary Diets) have engaged in price-fixing along with PetSmart and veterinary clinics owned by their companies.

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The case was filed in the US District Court of Northern California in December 2016. The plaintiffs claim that the accused companies are in violation of anti-trust and consumer protection laws for making certain veterinary diets available by prescription only in order to willfully overcharge consumers.

They also feel that the prescription-only status misleads consumers into believing the foods contain some kind of drug or controlled ingredient to justify the prescription labeling. In truth, veterinary prescription diets do not contain any ingredients that cannot also be found in conventional foods.

The suit further alleges that making the foods available by prescription-only is a tactic to force customers to purchase from veterinary clinics – some of which (Banfield and Blue Pearl) are owned by Mars Petcare.

“They control the sale of prescription pet food from manufacture to veterinarian to retail, which has allowed their deception and price-fixing conspiracy to be implemented and perpetuated with minimal risk of detection or defection.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs stress that the lawsuit has nothing to do with the efficacy of prescription pet foods. It is about the companies’ use of the term “prescription” to justify charging as much as 40% more for their products than premium non-prescription pet foods.

As for the other side of the story, the pet food companies counter that their veterinary diets are in compliance with FDA guidelines and that an FDA “compliance policy guide” even recommends advanced veterinary approval to prevent owners from misusing their products.

“When these products are marketed directly to pet owners, there is a greater potential for product misuse and/or misunderstanding of the role of the product in the disease treatment. For example, owners of diabetic dogs and cats may misinterpret claims to ‘control blood glucose’ to represent that the product is the sole treatment required for diabetic dogs and cats when, in fact, these animals may require insulin therapy or other treatments to adequately control blood glucose.”

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Another concern with making prescription diets freely available to the public is that some do not meet the recommended nutrient standards for healthy pets. Depending on the disease they are designed to manage, they may contain unusually high or unusually low levels of protein, amino acids, sodium, or other nutrients.

Making the diets prescription-only forces an initial veterinary consultation about the diet and compels owners to return for script renewals, which allows vets to monitor their patients’ progress.

Have you had experience – good or bad – feeding a veterinary diet to your pet? What do you think about the allegations in the class action lawsuit?

 

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3 Vet-Recommended Supplements For Senior Dogs

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Although dietary supplements can be beneficial at any stage of life, many people don’t start thinking about giving them to their pets until they reach their senior years. This is the time when we are reminded of their mortality as we notice signs of arthritis and that telltale gray muzzle. With so many products on the market making different promises, it’s hard to know which ones are safe, let alone helpful for your senior pooch.

Dr. Marty Becker has been a practicing veterinarian for more than 20 years. He has contributed to Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show, written 25 books, and sits on the Board of Directors for The Grey Muzzle Organization, a non-profit group devoted to helping senior dogs. When it comes to his aging canine patients, there are three major supplements he recommends.

1. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)

Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids are best known for doing wonders for a dog’s skin and coat. While a shiny pooch is certainly an added bonus, EFA’s are thought to aid in critical brain function, as well as boost the immune system – two very important benefits for senior dogs! For those experiencing arthritis or the general aches and pains of aging, EFA’s are also known to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Learn More or Shop EFA Supplements

2. Glucosamine with Chondroitin Sulfate

Glucosamine and chondroitin are compounds found in healthy cartilage. Aging dogs experience joint pain when cartilage naturally breaks down and joint fluid is lost. The anti-inflammatory properties in glucosamine help to reduce that pain and aid in cartilage regeneration, while the water-retaining properties of chondroitin sulfate aid in joint lubrication. This type of supplement works well when paired with essential fatty acids.

Learn More or Shop Joint Supplements

3. Probiotics

Probiotics are designed to replace the healthy bacteria in the gut that can be killed off due to illness, stress, medications, and a variety of other causes. When the healthy bacteria levels drop too low, the bad bacteria in the gut take over, wreaking havoc on the digestive system, which contains up to 80% of a dog’s immune defenses. Probiotics keep the flora levels balanced, providing important benefits for an aging dog beyond digestive health. There is evidence that probiotics boost the immune system, strengthening your senior dog’s defenses against infections and auto-immune diseases.

Remember that frequent exams, a high quality diet, and maintaining a healthy weight is important for all dogs, but especially seniors! Consult with your vet to determine an overall wellness strategy and which supplements are right for your pooch. The goal is to keep your best friend healthy, comfortable, and most importantly, by your side as long as possible!

 

H/T to Vetstreet

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Over-Training Causes More Harm Than Good, Psychologists Find

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It’s very easy to get excited about training your new dog or puppy, especially if you’re training for some sort of performance. Competitive obedience, agility and many other venues take a lot of time and effort, and the beginning stages of training are often some of the best moments for owners because they offer such a great way to bond with their new canine companions. But research has found that too much training is actually detrimental to our dogs’ learning process. Psychology Today reports a recent study on training headed by Anna Kis of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest, Hungary.

Kis and her colleagues wanted to determine whether rest after a training session resulted in better retained long-term memory of learned tasks, rather than if a dog was asked to learn a new task immediately following the first. According to Psychology Today, “If a memory is to be useful in guiding behaviors after the training session ends it has to be processed and stored in the brain in what psychologists call long-term memory. The process by which short-term memories are converted to long-term memories is called ‘consolidation.’ Data has shown that getting some sleep after learning something can greatly improve consolidation. This is because it is during the REM or dream state of sleeping that memories are sorted through and finally stored in our long-term or permanent memory.” Therefore, the idea was that if dogs took a nap after a training session, they would better retain the new behavior they had learned.

Image source: Stonnie Dennis Dog Photography | Flickr

To test this theory, the team first had to establish that the process of being trained actually has effects on what happens while a dog is sleeping afterwards. To do so, they simply took a group of dogs and asked them to respond to a new command for a behavior they already knew. In this case, the dogs knew how to sit or lie down under the Hungarian command. For their new task, they were asked to sit or lie down using the English command. After the training session, the dogs took a three hour nap during which their brain waves were recorded. Their electrical patterns were compared to a group of dogs that had practiced the behaviors in Hungarian without learning a new command, and the results showed a significant difference. The researchers felt that the increased activity in the group that learned something new was due to their brains consolidating what they’d been taught into long-term memory.

The next experiment was a little more complicated. The researchers needed to test whether dogs that took a nap after learning one task retained that information better than dogs who were taught one task and then immediately taught a second task in a single training session – the way many dogs are trained today. They also decided to see if having an exercise break or a relaxed play session after learning the task made a difference in their ability to consolidate the memory.

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Using the same training model used before (learning an English command for a behavior they knew well with a Hungarian command), a group of 53 pet dogs were studied in the experiment. One group learned the task and got to take a one hour nap in the car afterwards. The second group immediately learned a new task after the first. The third took a walk around the campus and the fourth group played with a Kong toy stuffed with treats. Although the researchers expected the dogs with the nap to perform better than the other groups, this was not the case. In fact, when they were all retested an hour later, all of the dogs in the groups performed at the same level they did in the beginning.

However, the researchers recognized that the effects of memory consolidation often take time to show up (something dog trainers call “latent learning”). Because of this, they opted to test all of the dogs again in one week without any additional training sessions. As expected, the group that was able to nap performed much better than the group that immediately learned a new task after the first. What surprised the researchers, however, is that the group that took a walk and the group that played with the Kong after performed just as well as the dogs that took a nap.

Image source: smerikal | Flickr

In other words, it appears that the second training session immediately after the first actually interferes with the consolidation process for the earlier learned tasks. Psychology Today puts it this way: “To see why this might be the case you might imagine that there is a narrow gateway through which the short-term memories from training into long-term memory must pass in order to get to the long-term storage. If you fill that narrow gateway with too many new memories which need to be consolidated you get a log jam. That means that the processing of some of the short-term memories established during training will be slowed meaning that they will fade before they get a chance to be consolidated into a more permanent form.”

The obvious result is that dogs need a break after learning a task, the same way children need a recess in school. Anything that helps the dogs relax and doesn’t interfere with the consolidation process is going to be beneficial to training. Although many trainers promote back to back training sessions for dogs, research is showing that this might not be the most effective way to teach new behaviors. We can all agree that training is useless if the dog is unable to retain anything he or she has learned, so this hopefully brings to light the importance of letting your dog recover from the mental stimulation of learning and allow you to bond in other ways.

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City’s New Ordinance Restricts Dog Tethering To 3 Hours A Day

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A new anti-tethering ordnance imposed on the city of Detroit states that no dog shall remain tethered outdoors for more than 3 consecutive hours in a single day. Violations carry fines up to $500 and the risk of losing your pet on the third offense. Similar to other tethering restrictions across the country, the ordnance also bans heavy, steel-coated chains and requires that the dogs have access to water, food, shade and shelter.

As part of the ordinance, no dog owner shall:

  • Continuously tether a dog for more than three hours per day.
  • Tether a dog using a tether made of anything but a coated steel cable at any length less than three times the length of the dog measured from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail.
  • Use a tether or any assembly or attachments that amount to more than 10% of the dog’s weight or that significantly inhibit the movement of the dog within the tethered area.
  • Attach a dog to a tether by means of any implement other than a buckle-type collar or harness, so as to risk injury, strangulation, or entanglement of the dog on fences, trees, or other obstacles.
  • Tether a dog without access to shade when sunlight is likely to cause overheating or without access to appropriate shelter for insulation and protection against cold and dampness when the atmospheric temperature falls below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Tether a dog without securing its food and water source to prevent its being tipped over or spilled by the tether.
  • Tether a dog in an open area that does not provide the dog protection from attack from people or other animals.
  • Tether a dog in an area composed entirely of bare earth subject to becoming wet and muddy in the event of precipitation, and without any dry surface area for cover or protection.
  • Tether a dog under four months old.
  • Tether more than one dog to a single tether.
  • Tether a dog to a stationary object that would allow the dog to come within five feet of any property line.
  • Tether a dog without a swivel attached or equipped at both ends.

Supporters of the bill say that the new restrictions will greatly improve the lives of Detroit’s dogs.

The Michigan Anti-Cruelty Society plans to help Detroit dog owners comply with the new law by providing proper equipment such as coated steel cables with swivel attachments, dog houses, no-tip water and food bowls, and enclosures or fencing.

To request assistance, please call MACS at 313-891-7188 or email info@macsshelter.org.

 

H/T to Fox 2 Detroit

Featured Image via Facebook/C.H.A.I.N.E.D.

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