Pet Insurance: What to Pick For Your Pet

The Best Pet Insurance Companies

Money’s List of Pet Insurances

We love our pets. More and more Americans welcome dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and fish into our families. Even as the cost of owning a pet increases. Consider getting pet insurance.

Studies have shown that owning a dog can cost $42,000 over 10 years. Cat owners can spend up to $30,000 per decade.

A big chunk of this money pays for veterinary care. This is everything from check-ups and vaccines to treatment for an illness or after an accident.

Pet insurance could help shield your wallet from unexpected pet health care costs.

“Things like ultrasounds, blood tests, or procedures such as MRIs or CAT scans — they’re now available [for pets]”

“What we do in human medicine, we can do in veterinary medicine as well. There’s definitely been an exponential increase in the number of owners who ask about health insurance for their pets.”

Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the American Kennel Club

The 10 Best Pet Insurance Companies

Here are Money’s top 10 picks for the best pet insurance:

little dog in medical uniform in light studio
  1. Healthy Paws: Best Value with reimbursements fulfilled in as little as two days.
  2. Embrace: High coverage for dental illnesses.
  3. Petplan: Coverage for pets begins early at six weeks old.
  4. Trupanion: One straightforward policy that covers hereditary conditions.
  5. Nationwide: The best company that insures exotic animals.
  6. ASPCA: Good option for multiple pets.
  7. PetFirst: For pet owners who want preventive care coverage.
  8. TrustedPals: Best for flexible deductibles and co-pays
  9. Pets Best: Can cover older animals
  10. FIGO: Could pay 100 percent of covered expenses.

Why did we choose these 10 pet insurance plans? We’ll discuss the highlights of these plans in the following reviews:

Healthy Paws: Best for Value

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance offers dog insurance and cat insurance This company stands out because it does not cap reimbursements. Once you pay your deductible, there is no limit on the amount your policy can reimburse you either monthly, annually, or per incident.

You can submit claims via email, fax, online, or using the Healthy Paws’ mobile app. Policyholders can receive reimbursements of up to 90 percent via mailed check or direct deposit. The company claims that 99 percent of its reimbursements are processed within two days.

Plans start at $15 per month for cats and $20 for dogs. With no limit to how many claims you can make. Like all pet insurance companies, Healthy Paws does not cover preexisting conditions.

These plans do cover accidents, illnesses, surgeries, prescription medications, hospital stays, and emergency care, among other expenses.

Healthy Paws gives pet owners more control over their policies. By allowing them to set their single annual deductible as well as their reimbursement percentage. As a Healthy Paws policyholder, you can go to any licensed veterinarian and be covered.


Embrace: Best for Pet Dental Care

Embrace Pet Insurance

Embrace provides high coverage for dental illnesses: $1,000 per policy year in most states. The company covers extractions, root canals, crowns, gingivitis, and broken, chipped, or fractured teeth.

And while routine care like cleaning and annual checkups are not included in the policy. As is the case with most insurers. They can be reimbursed by adding on a wellness plan at extra cost.

Another benefit of Embrace is its shrinking deductibles. They can be set between $100 and $1,000. Every year you don’t file a claim, you’ll receive a $50 reduction. If your pet is healthy, your deductible can be reduced down to zero.

Reimbursements can reach 90%. Annual benefits are capped at $15,000, and monthly premiums start at $13 for dogs and $9 for cats. All claims can be submitted online, via email, fax, or mobile app.

If you are a GEICO customer, you could bundle in Embrace pet coverage since GEICO sells Embrace Pet Insurance.


Petplan: Best for Early Coverage

Petplan Pet Insurance

A lot of conditions can be easily deemed as pre-existing, rendering them uninsurable by most pet insurance companies. You can avoid this by buying a pet insurance plan as early as possible.

Petplan insures pets beginning at six weeks old for puppies and kittens. When you buy a policy this early, you won’t have to worry much at all about preexisting condition exclusions.

“You need to make sure you don’t have limitations in your coverage. Because puppies get sick and what if it’s not covered because the insurance hasn’t been in effect for long enough?”

Dr. Boaz Man, medical director at Boca Raton Midtowne Animal Hospital in Florida

Monthly premiums start at $19 for both dog insurance and cat insurance. Annual benefit caps can be set anywhere between $2,500 to unlimited, while deductibles can range from $100 to $1,000.

Reimbursements can reach 90 percent and any claims may be submitted online, via fax, snail mail, email, or mobile app.

Petplan also covers some hereditary and congenital conditions as long as symptoms weren’t present before you bought coverage.


Trupanion: One Simple Policy

Trupanion Logo

Trupanion stands out from the field by offering just one policy. Both dogs and cats, regardless of the animal’s breed, age, or gender.

There are no set limits for any benefits. Whether per-incident, monthly, or lifetime, and you could even set your deductible at $0. Monthly premiums start at $59 for dogs and $32 for cats.

Another big selling point for Trupanion. This company can cover hip dysplasia and other hereditary conditions like diabetes, thyroid disease, and upper respiratory infections after the determined waiting periods are up.

Trupanion encourages pet owners to enroll their animals while they are young and healthy to make sure any future conditions are covered by the policy. Other coverages such as physical therapy and acupuncture can be added to your policy at an extra cost.

If your veterinarian uses Trupanion’s direct payment software, you won’t have to file a claim for your reimbursement. The company will pay the vet. Your only out of pocket expense will be a deductible if it applies to you.


Nationwide: Coverage for Exotic Animals

Nationwide logo

study published in 2018 by the American Veterinary Medical Association reports that 14 percent of American homes have at least one specialty or exotic pet. Nationwide is the only pet insurance company of its size that offers coverage for exotic animals.

Nationwide can cover most birds as well as mice, lizards, goats, guinea pigs, turtles, snakes, ferrets, and many more.

The company offers two types of reimbursement models. The first is based on a percentage of the invoice (up to 90 percent) and has no limits. The second has a benefit schedule and reimbursements are capped at a set amount depending on the condition.

Annual deductibles can be either $100 or $250, while all claims can be filed via snail mail, fax, or email.

Some species of exotic animals are not eligible to be insured by Nationwide. Those that fall under venomous or endangered categories, and any animal not listed on their website.

Nationwide’s monthly premiums for more traditional pets start at $34 for dogs and $18 for cats.


ASPCA: Good option for Multiple Pets

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers a pet insurance policy underwritten by the United States Fire Insurance Company.

This policy stands out because of its 10 percent discount for multiple pets. One policy can cover all your pets. There’s no network — you could visit any vet in the U.S. or Canada.

ASPCA’s Complete plan covers accidents and illnesses and even behavioral health issues. It does not cover routine wellness visits. You could add a wellness plan for an extra fee if you wanted.

The 10 percent discount for multiple pets applies to each additional pet you add to the policy. The most expensive pet to insure will not receive the discount but all your other pets can.

You could get up to 90 percent reimbursement for covered costs deposited directly or paid via check. You can file claims online or by mail.


PetFirst: For Pet Owners Who Want Preventative Care Coverage 

PetFirst Pet Insurance Reviews, Costs & Coverage | Pet Insurer

A lot of pet insurance plans cover accidents and illnesses but skip preventative care reimbursements. This is OK for many pet parents. After all, you can plan in advance for the wellness care bill.

But some households do want help paying for preventive medicine for their pets. Partly because a wellness plan helps them remember to schedule these easy-to-put-off visits.

PetFirst Pet Insurance excels with routine care coverage because it defines preventive care so broadly. You could buy a plan to cover your pet’s vaccines, dental care, parasite prevention, spaying and neutering, and even behavioral training.

PetFirst is owned by MetLife, a leading dental, health, and auto insurer. PetFirst offers three plans, each with a $250 deductible and 80 percent rate of reimbursement for covered expenses. Each plan sets a different annual cap on expenses per year.

Compared to many companies, PetFirst offers a simple approach to coverage.


TrustedPals: Best for Flexible Deductibles and Co-pays 

TrustedPals Footer Logo

A relative newcomer to the pet insurance market, TrustedPals provides the standard coverage for dogs and cats. Plus a little something extra, all at a reasonable cost and with flexible payment options. Coverage begins for pets aged 8 weeks and older, with no maximum age limit.

TrustedPals will cover expenses for vet visits, surgeries, hospital stays, and lab work as well as prescription medications. There are no restrictions on chronic or hereditary illnesses. Your policy covers alternative treatments such as acupuncture and hydrotherapy, as long as it is prescribed by your vet.

Most pet insurance companies won’t cover pre-existing conditions. The same is true of TrustedPals if your pet is still suffering from the illness. However, if your pet is fully cured at the time you take out your policy, TrustedPals will cover that condition if it recurs.

You’ll get the same coverage regardless of the premium paid, as the cost of insurance isn’t tied to benefits. Instead, your premiums will be determined by what type of pet you have (cat or dog), the age of your pet, your location, and how you customize your plan. 

Once you apply for a quote, TrustedPals will present you with 4 different premium options to choose from. These include annual benefit limits ranging between $4,000 to $15,000, as well as an unlimited benefit option. You can then customize your policy by selecting your deductible (from $0 to $750 per year) and the amount of your reimbursement percentage (from 70% to 100%).

TrustedPals also offers a wellness plan as an add-on that will cover yearly vet exams, vaccination, prescribed nutritional supplements and pet food, preventive dental cleaning, and spaying or neutering.


Pets Best: Coverage Options for Older Animals

Most pet insurance plans won’t write a new policy for an older pet. Age 12 is a common cut-off age for dogs and cats.

Pets Best does not have a maximum age limit so you could still get coverage on your aging pet. But, like all insurers, Pets Best won’t cover preexisting conditions.

So, if you have a healthy pet who’s getting on up there but has been healthy so far, Pets Best could be an option. Most plans cover accidents and illnesses only, but you could add-on wellness coverage.

You could buy a plan with up to 90 percent reimbursement. If you’re on a budget and want more marginal protection, consider Pets Best’s 70-percent reimbursement rate which could cost only $9 a month.


FIGO: Has a 100% Reimbursement Option

Health Insurance for Dogs and Cats - Figo Logo

FIGO has been around less than 10 years but has been growing in market share for two reasons: easy online access and robust coverage.

We’ll start with the coverage which could reach 100 percent reimbursement of covered procedures. Naturally, this level of coverage would require a higher premium.

But all policyholders can use FIGO’s nice app and 24/7 customer service. You can chat online with a customer service representative and set your app to remind you about your pet’s veterinary appointments.

FIGO also makes shopping simple. All its plans cover the same expenses — hospitalizations, emergency care, diagnostic testing, hereditary and congenital conditions, cancer treatments, and chronic conditions.

FIGO’s three plans vary only with the maximum payment allowed per year. The most expensive plan does not cap expenses.


Important Facts About Pet Insurance Plans

As you shop for pet insurance, consider these basic facts about pet insurance plans.

Reimbursements:

Unlike medical insurance for humans which pays your medical provider on your behalf, pet insurance does not pay your vet directly. Instead, you’d pay for all vet visits and charges and then file for a reimbursement. The best plans normally reimburse 90 percent of a covered expense. You could consider the remaining unpaid percentage your copay.

Preexisting Conditions:

Also unlike human health care plans, pet insurance companies will not reimburse you for conditions your dog, cat, or other pet already had before you bought the pet insurance policy.

Payout Caps:

Most plans stop reimbursing after you’ve reached your policy’s maximum coverage amount. Most policies have an annual expense cap but some have caps per incident (illness or injury) or even for the animal’s lifetime. Expect to pay higher premiums for higher caps.

Deductibles:

With many plans you set the deductible, which is the money you must pay before your insurance policy kicks in. Watch out for per-incident deductibles. Per-year deductibles provide a better value.

Waiting Periods:

Your insurance coverage won’t pay until you’ve completed a waiting period. Most companies require at least 14 days before reimbursing you for a vet visit your pet needs for an illness. The waiting period for an accident could be much shorter — 48 hours for example. The waiting period for an orthopedic problem or other chronic condition could be as high as six months.

Exclusions:

Pet insurance policies usually exclude specific conditions in the policy’s language. Be sure to read your policy before buying it so you’ll know how your pet insurance works.

Networks:

Not all pet insurers reimburse for services provided by all vets. Some pay only if you stay within a network of providers. The best pet insurance policies let you choose your own provider.

Preventative Care:

You’ll get the best value from an accident or illness coverage plan but you could add-on coverage for preventative care. Policies that cover routine care and accident or illness care are called comprehensive coverage.

Pet Age: 

After your dog or cat reaches age 12, your choices for new coverage will diminish significantly. To have the most choices, buy a policy before your pet reaches an advanced age.

Avoid the Toughest Choice with the Best Pet Insurance

Pet insurance helps pay for your pet’s medical care with many policies covering up to 90 percent of your vet bill. That’s assuming your pet’s procedure wasn’t excluded from coverage or didn’t surpass your annual expense cap.

Most importantly, pet insurance could prevent you from having to make a terrible choice. Deciding between spending thousands of dollars you can’t afford for an operation or having to euthanize your pet because you can’t afford the procedure.

“There’s nothing worse. That’s not what we went to school for. We went to school to save animals, not to be the local euthanasia shop.”

Dr. Wayne North, a veterinarian who’s been practicing for nearly 50 years

Pet insurance can help even when your situation is less dramatic. Some diagnostic tests can be very expensive but are necessary to diagnose and treat a pet. Getting reimbursed could make these tests possible for your budget.

“You cannot provide appropriate care by guessing what is needed. How can a doctor practice medicine without knowing what’s going on? If a pet does not have health insurance, then it makes it much more difficult to treat them appropriately because it’s like a doctor with handcuffs.”

Dr. Man

Most leading pet insurance companies give pet owners comprehensive coverage at an affordable monthly premium. The differences lie in the details and fine print.

Shop around, do the research, and then make a well-informed decision about the insurance that is best suited to care for your pet and your pocket.

How We Found The Best Pet Insurance Companies

In order to properly assess pet health insurance companies, we researched policy aspects that make these providers stand out. We spoke to veterinary doctors who have spent time in the field to get a better understanding of how insurance affects the well-being of pets and owners alike.

The following are factors used to pick our top companies:

Pricing

Since everyone’s cost will depend entirely on their particular circumstances, we looked at average rates, flexibility with premiums and deductibles, and any potential limits on payments to policyholders.

According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, the average monthly price of pet insurance is $47 for dogs and $29.50 for cats. The pricing of your pet insurance premium will depend on many factors, including the animal’s breed, age, gender, and where you reside.

Since pet insurance follows a reimbursement model, initial costs come out of your pocket.

“In veterinary medicine, veterinarians didn’t get on board with being paid by the insurance company. So basically, the client is still obligated to pay the practice and then any reimbursement they’ll get from the insurance company.”

Policyholders who can’t afford to pay out of pocket sometimes use a credit card or financing provided by the vet. Then, when the reimbursement comes through, they use the check (or direct deposit) to pay off most of the debt.

Coverage Options

For the most part, pet insurance can be broken down into two types: comprehensive coverage and accident-only coverage. While wellness and routine care are not covered by pet insurance, some companies offer these as add-ons. These include neutering and spaying, vaccines, flea and tick treatment, teeth and ear cleaning, heartworm medication, and anal gland expression.

And if they do not pre-date your insurance policy, most pet insurance policies also cover hereditary, chronic, and congenital conditions.

While most companies don’t restrict the veterinary facilities their policyholders could visit and still be covered, some companies limit their coverage to a specific network. We’d recommend the former over the latter, just to make sure you are covered anywhere in the United States where a licensed veterinarian practices.

Additional Benefits

A lot of pet insurance companies offer similar policies with very few variations. When assessing the quality of some of these companies, it was the little extras they offer that stood out and prompted us to review them.

We looked closely at the claims processes for the companies we featured, making sure they provide a prompt service in order to have your money reimbursed as soon as possible.

When paying out of pocket for something like heartworm treatment for your dog, potentially you would have to fork over upwards of $1,000. For some pet owners, that amount can put a considerable dent in their finances. Getting part of that money reimbursed quickly is a plus.

Furthermore, most of the plans we picked provide coverage just for cats and dogs. With that in mind, we also looked at companies that insure exotic animals, so as to not exclude pet owners whose animals may fall into the non-traditional column.

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Should you spend $40 or $50 a month on pet insurance? Or should you just pay all your pets wellness exam fees and unplanned charges out of pocket?

The answer will depend on your needs and your pet’s health care needs. Before buying a plan consider its costs vs. its potential benefits.

And remember any kind of insurance can provide a service that’s not measured as a dollar amount. Your pet insurance plan should give you peace of mind you wouldn’t be facing expensive vet bills all on your own.

Veterinary Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

During these challenging times, it’s normal to not only worry about your health but that of your pet as well. This might include the customary visit to the vet. Even though many jurisdictions have stay-at-home orders in place, veterinary practices are usually considered as essential services and are allowed to operate under safety protocols. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, all types of pet services have been in high demand, including veterinary services. With more and more people working from home and spending more time with their pets, they tend to focus on things they might have missed before. 

But when should you take your pet to the vet? Before running out to visit your pet care provider, consider the following:

Urgent Care vs. Routine Check-Ups

It is generally recommended that elective procedures be postponed as long as possible so that veterinary offices can avoid a higher number of patients coming in and allowing them to focus on more pressing cases. That’s not to say that vets are only treating emergencies. Many health providers present alternatives for non-urgent yet important procedures, such as booster shots, vaccinations, physical therapy, and other maintenance care.

Urgent matters such as accidents, respiratory problems, and poisonings require immediate medical attention. As such, an emergency visit to a veterinary hospital could be necessary. Depending on the hospital, it might be operating as in-person or with curbside service, making it important to be prepared for either scenario. If a trip to the hospital is warranted, make sure to adhere to CDC guidelines regarding masks and social distancing. 

Curbside Service

As a way of minimizing contact between humans many veterinary care providers, including hospitals, have instituted curbside service. The specifics will depend on the provider, but it usually means waiting in the car until a staff member comes and retrieves your pet. The animal will be examined by the veterinarian and, when the examination is over, staff will bring the pet out to you. 

Telemedicine

Other vets might opt for the telemedicine alternative. This consists of using a video chat to observe the patient and provide medical advice without having direct physical contact. This option can serve various purposes such as postoperative follow-ups or providing visual confirmation to determine if a case is urgent or non-urgent.

The decision to take a pet to the veterinarian’s office or an animal hospital is ultimately up to the caretakers, as they’re the ones with direct knowledge of a pet’s needs. But taking into account the above-mentioned factors should be enough to ensure you and your pet are safe if the situation arises.

Can My Pet Have Coronavirus?

Another issue that might worry pet owners is whether or not their animal companions can be infected with and transmit the coronavirus. Although there have been animal cases and deaths related to COVID-19, the CDC states there is no evidence that pets can significantly spread the virus and animal-to-human transmission is highly unlikely. 

Nonetheless, extra precautions should be taken if you have either received a positive test or suspect being infected. The general rule is to treat your pet as you would a person, maintaining distance whenever possible, and wearing a face covering to avoid transmission. If possible, have another person take care of the pet while you’re infected,. Although the chances of spreading the virus are extremely low, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

Caring for Your Pet in the Social Distancing Era

Aside from the aforementioned veterinary care, there are other measures you can take as a pet owner to keep them healthy and happy.

  • Make sure to have enough prescriptions such as heartworm, parasite, flea and tick medicine, as well as any maintenance drugs your pet takes. This avoids having to take multiple trips to your vet or running out of medication when vets might not be available.
  • Stock up on food as well. To avoid unnecessary visits to the pet store or supermarket, consider online services that deliver the food directly to your door. Places like Chewy.com, Petco, and PetSmart have delivery and pick-up options.
  • Work on your own mental and physical health. Pets pick up on the feelings their owners have, which means that your anxiety can also affect them, especially now that people are spending more time at home. By taking care of yourself and other members of the household, pets can feel more at ease with the unusual amount of human contact.
  • If they’re the type, exercise your pet as much as you can. Although stay-at-home ordinances and self-isolation protocols can limit the time you spend with your pet outside, there are other ways to keep them active, such as playing fetch, basic training techniques, and food puzzle activities. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to enjoy the outdoors, take them for a walk following safety precautions.

By following these steps, active pets and engaged owners can have a mutually beneficial relationship even during these trying times.

Frankie’s and Chloe’s Health

Take my word for it that I wish I had gotten insurance for both pups. With Frankie, his insulin and check-ups would have been covered. That would have saved hundreds of dollars from buying insulin. Since Chloe had ruptured both her back knees, I wish I would have planned with an insurance company before it happened. Thankfully I was working at the veterinary clinic and received a huge discount. Instead of paying $5,000 for each knee, it was $3,000 to have both done at the same time!

I definitely recommend getting insurance as soon as possible for your pup!

Fitness Trackers For Dogs to Start the New Year

Canine Fitness Trackers You’ll Want to Try

There are a variety of canine activity and fitness trackers now available. But figuring out the perfect match for your pup can be a bit more of a challenge. Let’s track the abilities of these canine activity trackers.

active american bulldog running in park in sunlight with fitness trackers
“I wonder how long I’ve been running?”

More of us wear activity trackers from Fitbits to Apple watches to keep track of our daily fitness routines. It’s no surprise that we want to get the same kind of data about our dogs to help them live longer, happier and healthier lives. Activity trackers monitor our pup’s activity day and night via an app on a smartphone. The good news: There are a variety of canine activity trackers now available. But figuring out the perfect match for your pup can be a bit more of a challenge.

Let’s Track the Abilities of These Canine Fitness Trackers

While you aren’t home

One of the most useful features of activity trackers is that they allow you to gather more information. They can tell about what your dog is actually doing at different times of the day and night. Even if you are not home or awake to supervise them. If you’re a sound sleeper, you might be surprised to learn that your dog is up and playing with toys at 2 a.m.! Similarly, while at work you can see how much of the day your dog is spending sleeping. Are they ready to play when you walk in the door because they haven’t moved around a lot all day?

Each activity tracker brand is different, so find the one that is right for you and your dog. Most activity trackers focus on tracking a dog’s movement. But others use artificial intelligence for voice recognition technology to analyze your dog’s emotional state. CEO and Founder Vincent Kim explains that Petpuls breaks its analysis of a dog’s emotional state into five categories:

  • happy
  • anxious
  • angry
  • sad
  • relaxed

How Active is Your Dog?

Activity trackers are most useful to us in tracking our dogs’ activity patterns over time. They give you an objective way of measuring if there are changes in your dog’s energy levels and activity. Just like our human tools, there are specific collars that can show how much activity they have been having.

Monitoring Dog’s Health

Some trackers even directly communicate with your dog’s veterinarian by monitoring chronic health conditions.

Deena Betcher, head of communications for health, fitness and location tracker Whistle explains, “Whistle monitors important indicators like scratching and licking to stay ahead of potential health issues. These results are easily compiled into a 30-day report that can be sent directly to a vet for analysis through the app.”

Activity trackers monitor other things your dog is doing through the day. Neil Lunn, activity and behavior monitor Animo’s product marketing manager notes, “Animo monitors a range of behaviors. It monitors barking, scratching and shaking, which when viewed together with activity, rest and sleep patterns, can give a more comprehensive overview of a dog’s health and well-being than activity alone.”

Tracking Skin Issues

Surprisingly, activity trackers can even help you recognize issues coming up that you and your vet want to know about. If you notice that your dog is scratching more, you should take a closer look at your dog’s skin and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. But if your dog is scratching when you are asleep or not home, you’d have no way of knowing until hot spots or other sores developed. With activity trackers that monitor scratching, you can track increased activity and seek care for your dog before skin conditions develop.

How they work

Depending on the brand, activity trackers either attach to your dog’s collar or come attached with a collar. If you have a very small dog, find a tracker that won’t be cumbersome for them.

Thankfully, as the industry has grown, there is an activity tracker that will work for almost every dog. Even from the smallest of breeds to giant dogs and every pup in between. They all rely on the same technology that is used in activity trackers for people.

“The Fi Collar holds the same accelerometer technology as a FitBit or an Apple Watch,” explains Fi smart dog collar CEO and co-founder, Jonathan Bensamoun.

Dogs of Different Sizes Detection

How can the same device know when my Newfoundland is running and also be able to tell that my friend’s Border Collie is playing? The developers of these activity trackers have studied a lot of dogs!

Sara Rossi, co-founder and chief barketing officer for health, activity and GPS tracker FitBark, explains. “The company leverages its experience working with hundreds of breeds and mixed breeds. With over 100 universities and research institutions in clinical settings and research studies.”

As the activity trackers become more popular, they continue to evolve and become more precise. That said, some people have noticed with the dog’s activity tracker that certain types of activity are more likely to cue as “playing” than “activity.” For example, running and chasing toys will show as play, but games like tug may register as activity, not play.

When setting up your dog’s activity tracker, you will be prompted to fill out information about their breed or mix of breeds. You’ll also be asked information about your dog’s size, weight, age, etc. All this information is compiled into the app linked to your dog’s activity tracker.

With most activity trackers, this allows you to not only review your dog’s activity for a given day and over time, but also to compare your dog to dog friends you have linked profiles with and to anonymized data of other dogs of similar size, age and/or breed as your dog. Obviously don’t take this in place of veterinary advice about your dog’s physical activity level. But looking at your dog’s activity reports can help you gauge how your dog’s activity compares to other dogs and if you want to think about gently increasing your dog’s level of exercise.

Find Your Dog With GPS Fitness Trackers

Not all activity trackers offer devices equipped with GPS tracking. The GPS functionality works in collaboration with a cellular network partner and your home Wi-Fi. For full functionality of the GPS device you will have a nominal (generally around $10) monthly subscription fee that gives you access to the cellular network to track your dog’s collar tracker. The GPS tracker connects into your home Wi-Fi or other Wi-Fi areas that you have programmed into the trackers’ associated app. For example, if your dog regularly accompanies you to a relative’s home or goes to doggie daycare, you can mark those locations as “safe.”

When your dog leaves your home, an alert is sent from the app to your phone and/or smartwatch. If your dog is with someone who has the app on her phone, like another guardian or a dog walker, the app will tell you who your dog is with. In the event your dog has left home on his own (scary!) the benefit of GPS tracking is that from your smartphone you’ll be able to pull up a map and pinpoint the location of your dog (assuming that there is cell signal) and hopefully be able to quickly find them.

Better to Have Than Be Sorry

As an engaged and attentive dog parent, having more information is always better. Fitness trackers give ongoing information to use when developing training and exercise routines. Not to mention, the GPS locator. Even though hopefully you’ll never need it, knowing you have it gives you a bit of extra peace of mind!

brown dog curious about something
“Crap, I forgot how to get back home. I hope my people can find me!”

Vaccines For Dogs: Why Should You Vaccinate?

Your Complete Guide to First-Year Puppy Vaccinations

Canine Vaccines and Vaccination Schedule - A Dog Owners' Guide

When you bring that soft, sweet-smelling little ball of puppy fuzz into your home, you know right away that they depend on you for, well, everything. It’s up to you to give them all the care they need every day. It can be a little intimidating. They need the best puppy food, plenty of attention, gentle trainingsafe toyspuppy socialization, a comfortable home, and proper veterinary care with vaccines.

And that includes puppy shots throughout their first year.

Which Vaccines Do Puppies Need?

Going to the vet repeatedly over several months for vaccinations, and then for boosters or titers throughout your dog’s life may seem like an inconvenience. But the diseases that vaccinations will shield our pets from are dangerous, potentially deadly, and, thankfully mostly preventable.

We read about so many different vaccinations for so many different illnesses, that it can be confusing to know which vaccinations puppies need. And which ones are important, but optional.

Puppies need to get vaccines when they are ready.

Here is an overview of the diseases that each vaccination will help your pet to avoid.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

This highly infectious bacterium causes severe fits of coughing, whooping, vomiting, and, in rare cases, seizures and death. It is the primary cause of kennel cough. There are injectable and nasal spray vaccines available.

Don’t be surprised if your veterinarian tells you to stay in the car. They are just making sure that your pup doesn’t infect other dogs and leave traces of it behind in the clinic.

If you plan on boarding your puppy in the future, attending group training classes, or using dog daycare services, often proof of this vaccination will be a requirement. Some boarding facilities even go as far as wanting dogs to be vaccinated every 6 months other than once a year.

Boxer with medical mask on to protect from other dogs getting kennel cough.

Canine Distemper

A severe and contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), and nervous systems of dogs, raccoons, skunks, and other animals. Distemper spreads through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing) from an infected animal. The virus can also be transmitted by shared food and water bowls and equipment.

Canine Distemper in dog. Vaccines are very important.

Symptoms

It causes discharge from the eyes and nose, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, twitching, paralysis, and, often, death. This disease used to be known as “hard pad” because it causes the footpad to thicken and harden.

Treatment

There is no cure for distemper. Treatment consists of supportive care and efforts to prevent secondary infections, control symptoms of vomiting, seizures and more. If the animal survives the symptoms, it is hoped that the dog’s immune system will have a chance to fight it off.

Infected dogs can shed the virus for months.

Canine Hepatitis

Infectious canine hepatitis is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and the eyes of the affected dog. This disease of the liver is caused by a virus that is unrelated to the human form of hepatitis.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis. Dog with one "Blue Eye" points to sign of infection. Get your vaccines!!
“Blue Eye” is a sign of infection

Symptoms

Symptoms range from a slight fever and congestion of the mucous membranes to vomiting, jaundice, stomach enlargement, and pain around the liver. Many dogs can overcome the mild form of the disease, but the severe form can kill.

Treatment

There is no cure, but doctors can treat the symptoms.

Canine Parainfluenza

One of several viruses that can contribute to kennel cough.

How to Treat Kennel Cough in Puppies

Coronavirus

The canine coronavirus is not the same virus that causes COVID-19 in people. COVID-19 is not thought to be a health threat to dogs, and there is no evidence it makes dogs sick.

Canine coronavirus usually affects dogs’ gastrointestinal systems, though it can also cause respiratory infections.

Canine Coronavirus Disease | VCA Animal Hospital

Symptoms

Signs include most GI symptoms, including loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Treatment

Doctors can keep a dog hydrated, warm, and comfortable, and help alleviate nausea, but no drug kills coronaviruses.

Heartworm

When your puppy is around 12-to-16 weeks, talk to your vet about starting a heartworm preventive. Though there is no vaccine for this condition, it is preventable with regular medication that your veterinarian will prescribe.

Heartworm Prevention Information | Heartworm prevention, Heartworm,  Medication for dogs

The name is descriptive — these worms lodge in the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries (that send blood to the lungs). They can travel through the rest of the body and sometimes invade the liver and kidneys. The worms can grow to 14 inches long and, if clumped together, block and injure organs.

Heartworm prevention.

Signs of Heartworm Infection

A new heartworm infection often causes no symptoms. Dogs in later stages of the disease may cough, become lethargic, lose their appetite or have difficulty breathing. Infected dogs may tire after mild exercise. Unlike most of the conditions listed here, which are passed by urine, feces, and other body fluids, heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes.

Diagnosing

Therefore, diagnosis is made via a blood test and not a fecal exam.

Kennel Cough

Also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, kennel cough results from inflammation of the upper airways.

It can be caused by bacterial, viral, or other infections, such as Bordetella and canine parainfluenza. It often involves multiple infections simultaneously.

Symptoms

Usually, the disease is mild, causing bouts of harsh, dry coughing. Sometimes it’s severe enough to spur retching and gagging, along with a loss of appetite. In rare cases, it can be deadly.

It is easily spread between dogs kept close together, which is why it passes quickly through kennels.

Treatment

Antibiotics are usually not necessary, except in severe, chronic cases. Cough suppressants can make a dog more comfortable.

Leptospirosis

Unlike most diseases on this list, Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria, and some dogs may show no symptoms at all.

Leptospira and Leptospirosis. Get your dog vaccines.

Leptospirosis can be found worldwide in soil and water. It is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be spread from animals to people.

Symptoms

When symptoms do appear, they can include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, severe weakness and lethargy, stiffness, jaundice, muscle pain, infertility, kidney failure (with or without liver failure).

Treatment

Antibiotics are effective, and the sooner they are given, the better.

Lyme Disease

Unlike the famous “bull’s-eye” rash that people exposed to Lyme disease often spot, no such telltale symptom occurs in dogs.

Lyme disease (or borreliosis) is an infectious, tick-borne disease caused by a type of bacteria called a spirochete.

Protect Your Pets From Lyme Disease With These Simple Tips

Signs

Transmitted via ticks, an infected dog often starts limping, their lymph nodes swell, their temperature rises, and they stop eating.

The disease can affect heart, kidney, and joints, among other things, or lead to neurological disorders if left untreated.

Treatment

If diagnosed quickly, a course of antibiotics is extremely helpful, though relapses can occur months or even years later.

Parvovirus

Parvo is a highly contagious virus that affects all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies less than four months of age are at the most risk to contract it.

The virus attacks the gastrointestinal system and creates a loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and often severe, bloody diarrhea. Extreme dehydration can come on rapidly and kill a dog within 48-to-72 hours, so prompt veterinary attention is crucial.

Treatment

There is no cure, so keeping the dog hydrated and controlling the secondary symptoms can keep him going until their immune system beats the illness.

Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that invades the central nervous system.

Rabies in dogs and the signs. Vaccines are the best defense against this viral disease.

Signs

Rabies cause headaches, anxiety, hallucinations, excessive drooling, fear of water, paralysis, and death. It is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.

Treatment

Treatment within hours of infection is essential, otherwise, death is highly likely. 

Most states require a rabies vaccination and registration. Check with your vet about rabies vaccination laws in your area.


Of course, your veterinarian should weigh in and can always provide more information and guidance if you need on necessary and optional vaccinations.

Puppy Vaccination Schedule

The first thing to know is that there is not just one puppy vaccination schedule for all dogs. Factors such as which part of the country you live in and your dog’s individual risk factors will come into play. Some dogs do not need every vaccine. This decision is between you and your veterinarian. Always discuss puppy vaccinations at your regularly scheduled appointments.

That said, here is a generally accepted guideline of the puppy vaccination schedule for the first year:

Basic Vaccine Schedule for Dogs | PetMD

Puppy Vaccinations Cost

How much vaccinations for your puppy will cost depends on several factors. Where you live is one. Veterinarians in crowded and expensive urban areas will charge more than a rural vet in a small town. In other words, there are significant differences in price. But no matter what the range in costs, some vaccines, such as the “core vaccines,” and for rabies, are necessary.

Cost Of Owning A Dog: Vaccines are the most with puppies because of boosters.
  • The average cost will be around $75—100. These will include the core vaccines, which are administered in a series of three: at 6 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks old.
  • The core vaccines include the DHLPP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvo, and parainfluenza). Your pup will also need a rabies vaccination, which is usually around $15—20. (Some clinics include the cost of the rabies vaccination.)
  • Often animal shelters charge less for vaccines — approximately $20 — or are even free. If you acquired your dog from a shelter, he would most likely have been vaccinated, up until the age when you got him.

*The initial puppy vaccination costs during the first year are higher than during adulthood because of booster shots.

Vaccinations for Adult Dogs: Boosters and Titers

There is a difference of opinion about having your adult dog vaccinated every year. Some vets believe too many vaccinations in adult dogs pose health risks. But others disagree, saying that yearly vaccinations will prevent dangerous diseases such as distemper. Talk with your vet to determine what kind of vaccination protocol works for you and your dog.

Titer Testing For Dogs: What Is It, And What Does It Mean For Yearly  Vaccinations?

Many dog owners opt for titer tests before they administer annual vaccinations. Titer tests measure a dog’s immunity levels, and this can determine which, if any, vaccinations are necessary. One key exception to this is rabies. ( A titer test is not an option when it comes to the rabies vaccine.) This vaccination is required by law across the United States. Your vet can tell you the schedule for your particular state.


And it’s all worth it.

For your effort and care your puppy will lavish you with lifelong love in return. This critical first year of their life is a fun and exciting time for both of you. As they grow physically, the wonderful bond between you will grow, too.

Frankie’s Experience With Vaccines

Frankie as a puppy.

I got Frankie as a puppy at around 11 weeks, so he was ready for his first set of shots of DHPP (distemper, parvo, hepatitis, and parainfluenza). After we brought him home, he started to get hives (looked like bubbles all over his body!). We called the vet and they recommended giving him some Benadryl because he was having an allergic reaction. That did the trick! So every time he received this shot, the vet would inject a histamine shot first to combat the reaction. After that, he never had any problems.

He never reacted to any other shot.

Chloe’s Story of Parvo

After adopting Chloe.

My husband and I adopted Chloe when she was about 6 months old from a rescue. Her back story was that she was dropped off at the vet. When the rescue went through her records, the previous owners knew she had parvo and was keeping the puppies in their garage. (I think she had a brother that didn’t make it.) They just dropped her off at the vet and never picked her up again. The rescue took her in and helped her through her struggle with parvo. She made it through with flying colors! When she was ready for adoption, you couldn’t tell she had just struggled to stay alive. We found her on Petfinder.com and instantly fell in love!

Marrow Bone: Dangerous For Your Dog?

Veterinarians send warning to dog owners on the dangers of marrow bone

Dog in cage with a stuck marrow bone around it's bottom jaw.

An uncanny reason for a visit to the ER. When a playful pup manages to get one of those circular marrow bones caught around its lower jaw and canine teeth. I’ve seen a patient that found himself in this very predicament; perplexed, I thought, “How is this even possible?” While it looks like a trick that only David Copperfield should be able to pull off, it can actually happen with surprising ease.

When it comes to marrow mishaps, there is bone bad luck. While some are easily removed with lubrication and gentle manipulation alone, others need to be removed with a cast cutting saw (or other manly tool). This is depending on the thickness of the bone while the pet is sedated. 

I have also seen dogs that have suffered from fractured canine teeth as well as extensive injury to their lower jaw and tongue. Tissue injury occurs when the circulation of blood is cut off to the skin and/or tongue while it is trapped within the bone. The marrow bone literally turns into a tourniquet with the continued and inevitable swelling of the tissues. Major or minor, any of these situations can be painful, distressing, and potentially very costly, depending on the extent of trauma and demeanor of your pet. 

Helpful Hints About Having Marrow Bone Around Your Dog

Your dog absolutely loves these bones and you love to give them, so what’s a pet parent to do?  Here are a few tips to help prevent any misadventures:

  • Size really does matter.
    • Make sure the size of the marrow bone is suitable for the size of your pet. Have your butcher “custom make” your marrow bones, trimming them into longer pieces, such as 8 inches for larger dogs. Skinnier bones can more easily work themselves around the jaw, and should be avoided.
Dog marrow bones of different sizes.
  • Try a knuckle bone instead.
    • These can offer a similar chewing experience, and because there’s no hole, there is no risk of it slipping around the jaw. However, as with any type of bone, these too, can come with risks. Be sure to take them away while they are still large. It’s as soon as the gristle and soft parts of the “knuckle knobs” are gone. This will help to prevent accidental swallowing and choking once it is whittled down to a smaller size.
BONES & CHEWS Made in USA Beef Knuckle Bone Dog Treat - Chewy.com
  • Sensitive stomach?
    • Marrow bones may not be the chew of choice for those pets that get diarrhea or an upset stomach easily.  Marrow is very high in fat as well as causing pancreatitis, in pets that are not used to the richness of the marrow fat.
  • Lastly, never leave your dog unattended while he or she is fancying the flavor—it is amazing how fast these accidents happen! And remember, extra aggressive chewers need extra close supervision.
Pug with a huge bone to chew on.
“Size does matter!”

As gratifying as these treats can be, one can still find a bone to pick with them because the serious complications happen just as often as the “simple ones.”

Vets are sending dog owners warnings about the dangers of feeding their dogs with marrow bone. 

Two dogs that have gotten a marrow bone stuck on their bottom jaw.

From a dog’s perspective, it’s like being on cloud-nine whenever they’re given marrow bones to chew. There is no denying this, right? Unfortunately, that’s where the problem is coming from. 

The Wasson Memorial Veterinary Clinic shared a picture of a massive marrow bone stuck over the lower jaw of a dog. They captioned the photo, “Watch out for marrow bones. Here’s another unlucky dog.”

Veterinarians are actually seeing this case more often and they are not liking it. It may not look fatal but it still brings danger to dogs’ lives. 

Sadly, this isn’t the only dog to get stuck in a marrow bone. 

Firefighters from North York, Canada, responded to a similar case. A woman came to ask for immediate help when her 10-month-old dog named Ginger. She had gotten a huge marrow bone stuck on her lower jaw. 

Fire fighters cutting off marrow bone from a dog's bottom jaw with a dremel.

It appeared that the woman already went to a vet. But then she was told to bring her helpless pooch to an emergency veterinary hospital. While she was on her way, she decided to drop by the fire station to seek on-the-spot assistance from kind firefighters.

The dog was not in any serious danger when they arrived because she was still alive. 

The fire crew decided to bring Ginger and her worried mom to the Willowdale Animal Hospital. They also offered assistance in removing the marrow bone from the poor dog’s jaw. 

They used a Dremel to cut the two sides of the giant bone marrow. 

A Dremel multitool is a handheld rotary tool that uses a variety of attachments and accessories. You can use a Dremel tool on wood, metal, glass, electronics, plastic, and many other materials, including bone.

Dr. Jonathan Bloom was the veterinarian who took care of Ginger’s case. He said that it’s quite normal to see dogs with marrow bone stuck on their lower jaws nowadays. 

How does it happen and how to treat it?

How to Safely Feed a Dog Bone. Dog with bone marrow stuck on lower jaw.
“What? Do I have something in my teeth?”

Here is the problem. The marrow bones get stuck on the dog’s large fang teeth (canines). When their lips swell, it locks the bone in place around their lower jaw. 

Anesthesia is commonly given to the dog. They then will try to shake the bone off until it gets loose.

If this method doesn’t work, then the bone needs to be cut off. According to Dr. Bloom, that was the first time that firefighters came to assist. A Dremel tool was used to remove the stuck marrow bone from a dog’s lower jaw.

What does it take to be a responsible dog owner? 

There are no specific criteria for becoming a responsible dog owner. Some may say this while others may say that. There is no right or wrong when it comes to taking care of dogs. As long as it comes from a genuinely caring place. 

When something bad happens to a dog, more often than not, the owner takes the blame. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a responsible dog owner. 

Because of these frequent cases, veterinarians would like to remind dog owners to be more careful of the types of bones they feed their dogs. 

Such types of bone can break or split their teeth which may result in serious stomach issues.

If you ever do see a dog with one of these bones stuck over their jaws, seek veterinary assistance right away. Be sure to spread the word to all of your dog-loving friends.


The marrow of the story: know the risks and let your pet enjoy them only under direct supervision.

Boston Terrier with marrow bones licking the inside of the middle.
“Is this how you get the good stuff out?”

Did Your Puppy Come From A Puppy Mill?

10 Signs That A Puppy Is From a Puppy Mill

So you are looking for a puppy, maybe you’re a first time dog owner. You have heard about puppy mills and know they are bad. But what you don’t know is how to make sure you don’t accidentally buy from one. Puppy mill breeders can be deceptive.

Here are 10 signs to help you determine if the puppy you are looking at is from a puppy mill or not.

#1 – Out-of-State

You really should just stay away from pet stores when buying a puppy. Be especially worried if those puppies are coming from out-of-state, particularly Midwest states (Missouri and Illinois are two of the biggest).

Puppies in a pet shop are cute, but they are probably from a puppy mill.
Just pass from shopping at pet stores that ‘sell’ puppies. They are probably mostly from puppy mills.

#2 – No Parents

If the breeder cannot let you meet the parents, you should walk away. Not meeting the parents is like buying a car without knowing the make. Don’t do it. For all you know, these people did not even breed the puppy, but are selling him secondhand for unknown reasons.

Adorable puppies on top while their parents' pictures on bottom are of uncared for dogs.

#3 – Let’s Meet

Puppy mill puppies are usually sold in parking lots and away from the home and parents.

If you call a breeder and they say “let’s meet somewhere” when you ask to visit their kennel, it’s a puppy mill. Usually they will try to get you to meet in a store parking lot or a park. Unless there are extreme circumstances, there is no reason why you should not see where your puppy was born.

#4 – Several Breeds

The puppy mill's back yard with many different breeds in small cages.

Reputable breeders focus on one breed, maybe two, MAX. If you find a site offering five different breeds (and their mixes!), it’s a puppy mill.

#5 – Multiple Litters

Multiple puppies in small cages stacked up four high and five across.

When you call the breeder and ask if they have puppies, do they respond with “I have one litter coming, but there is already a waiting list” or “oh yes, I have 3 litters on the ground and 2 more on the way”? If the breeder has 30 puppies, that is definitely a puppy mill.

#6 – Vaccinations

Puppy mills like to get rid of puppies before they are eligible for vaccines.

Puppy mills don’t like to spend money, it deters from profits. So the parents may not be vaccinated (you should ask!) and the puppies probably are not. Or, conversely, they have so many puppies they lost track and your pup got vaccinated twice.

#7 – Extreme Promises

German Shepard on the left that was promised and a chihuahua on the right that the puppy turned out to be.
Puppy Mill person: “Sure, it’s a German Shepard that will get up to 90lbs.” Owner: “Well, my German Shepard turned out to be 30lbs and a chihuahua mix.”

Be wary about the breeder promising a certain size, temperament, or characteristic that seems extreme. For example, a dog came into her clinic that was supposed to be a Pomeranian and Husky mix that the breeder had promised would never grow over than 7 pounds. She was 42 pounds.

#8 – Cleanliness

About Reputable Breeders, Backyard Breeders, Puppy Mills/Commercial Pet  Stores
Go with your gut feeling about how the puppies look like.

This goes for the dog and the breeder’s home or kennel. Puppies from puppy mills are more likely to smell like a kennel and have poor coat quality.

#9 – Contract

Puppy Paperwork: Contracts, Certificates & Microchipping.

Your breeder should care enough about what happens to the puppy that they have a contract protecting both you and them. Reputable breeders have a spay/neuter agreement, breed papers, health contract, and a request that you return the dog to them if it doesn’t work out (rather than dumping him at the shelter).

#10 – Too Young

6 Week Old Pitbull Puppies on a blanket.
These little pit bull puppies are only 6 weeks old. Puppy mills sell them before they are able to get vaccines.

Another way they can cut their costs is by giving you the puppy early, because they do not have to feed them, give them shots, etc. Question any breeder wanting to give you the puppy before they are eight weeks old. This is the minimum age you should be taking a puppy from their mother and litter-mates.

Lick Granulomas: 5 Things About Your Dog Licking

What Are Lick Granulomas?

Lick granulomas on legs of dog.

Have you heard about lick granulomas? If your dog already has one, you may already know how difficult they can be to treat. If you have never heard of them before, what do you need to know in order to prevent your dog from getting one? What is a lick granuloma? What causes them? How are they treated? Is there anything that can be done to prevent them?

Here are 5 things you should know about lick granulomas – hopefully before your dog ever develops one.

#1 – What is a lick granuloma?

A lick granuloma is an irritated patch of skin caused by excessive licking – usually on the front legs – that can remove hair and affect every single layer of skin. It’s usually accompanied by bacterial or yeast infections. According to PetMD:

“The skin is so deeply affected that even down to the base layer of the skin there can be found under the microscope little pockets of bacteria, broken hair follicles, plugged and scarred oil glands and dilated and inflamed capillaries. And if these skin lesions are removed surgically, the dog simply licks at the sutures or incision line after the surgery heals, thus creating a brand new granuloma right where the original one was!”

VCA Hospitals adds:

“Also known as acral lick dermatitis, this problem begins as an area of hair loss and reddened skin most commonly on the top of the wrist or carpal joint on the front legs. It often looks like a ‘hot spot.’ These differ from ‘hot spots‘ in that they persist despite treatment. They are often associated with chronic, persistent licking, especially when the pet is alone or when the family is sleeping.”

#2 – What causes the dog to lick so much?

Dog Licking starting lick granulomas

A variety of factors can contribute to a dog licking so much that they start removing layers of skin. Trying to find the underlying cause of the licking may help decide on a course of treatment. Some factors thought to start the cycle of a lick granuloma include:

–Allergies caused by food, environmental factors, or something else

-A minor irritation as the result of a foxtail, splinter, cut, scrape, bee sting, or anything else that might draw the dog’s attention

-Bone or joint pain such as arthritis, fractures, surgery, or peripheral neuropathy

-Hypothyroidism, which is especially common in Black Labs

–Boredom, stress, anxiety, or OCD. Licking can be a method of self-soothing, and some dogs react to psychological factors by obsessively licking as an outlet for their pent-up emotions.

#3 – Are some breeds more prone to lick granulomas than others?

Medium and large breeds are more likely to develop lick granulomas than small dogs. Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Irish Setters, Great Danes, and Weimaraners in particular seem to be more prone to lick granulomas than other breeds.

#4 – How are they treated?

Lick Granuloma: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention of Acral Lick Granuloma

Unfortunately, lick granulomas are incredibly difficult to treat. Covering the spot of the original granuloma frequently causes a dog to start licking another spot. They can still reach other areas, causing a secondary granuloma. If your dog has an underlying allergy or injury, treating those may help resolve the granuloma. Other treatments may include:

  • Lasers can be used to remove affected tissue by vaporizing the surface layers of the skin. During this process, there is minimal bleeding and nerve tissue is sealed. It results in little discomfort that may cause the dog to start licking in the same spot again.
  • Long-term antibiotics are often used over the course of 3-6 months to help heal the infection.
  • Cortisone creams applied once or twice daily can help relieve itching that may cause the dog to lick the wound.
  • Upgrade your dog’s diet and include supplements. 

According to PetMD:

“Many types of dermatological problems are avoided if the dog is consuming an optimum diet. If your dog seems to lack good coat and skin health, consider upgrading the diet to a meat-based ingredient formula. Adding a supplement, such as omega fatty acids, can make a very real difference.”

  • Acupuncture has been shown to have a wide variety of applications. It may make a big difference in helping your dog to recover from a lick granuloma.
  • Topical and oral anti-inflammatory medications can help relieve swelling.
  • Anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed if psychological problems seem to be the underlying cause.
  • Increasing activity and interaction levels can help prevent boredom and relieve pent-up energy in more productive ways. Try taking your dog for more or longer walks. Adding a variety of interactive toys to keep your dog active and his mind occupied.

Dogs Naturally also recommends trying one of the following topical holistic remedies:
Lick Granulomas in Dogs | Causes, Treatment, & Natural Remedies
  • Manuka honey applied to the wound three to four times a day. You’ll want to have an E-collar or Bite Not collar in place before you apply medical honey to your dog’s leg.
  • Willard’s Water sprayed on the wound six to eight times daily
  • Bee propolis salve (Pavia Natural Wound Care Cream) applied twice daily
  • Fresh aloe gel applied three to four times daily
  • Calendula or hypericum tincture or gel applied three to four times daily
  • Chamomile tea bag poultice: steep one herbal teabag in a half cup of hot water, let cool. Add 20 drops colloidal silver. Refrigerate until the infusion chills. You can apply the cold teabag directly on the wound, securing it with a light wrap. If your dog won’t tolerate this then dab the solution directly on the wound six to eight times daily
  • Essential oils: mix five drops of lavender oil and five drops of myrrh oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil. Mix well. Apply to the wound two to three times a day. “

#5 – Can lick granulomas be prevented?

Dog with leg stocking to prevent licking.

If you have a dog breed that is prone to lick granulomas, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to prevent a lick granuloma from forming in the first place. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to prevent lick granulomas. Dogs Naturally recommends:

“The best way to prevent your dog from developing acral lick dermatitis is to deal with obsessive licking behavior at the first sign of it. Some lick granulomas can develop very quickly – within a matter of hours. Others take longer to appear.

  1. If you can avoid it, don’t wait until there’s an obvious injury to your dog’s skin before seeking advice from your veterinarian.
  2. Develop the habit of running your hands over your dog – especially down the front legs – to check for damp fur or sensitivity.
  3. If your dog tends to place himself outside your line of vision, check on him frequently to ensure he isn’t hiding his obsessive licking from you. Stained fur is a sign he’s licking.
  4. If he’s licking a certain spot but there’s no injury yet to the skin, try lightly wrapping the area in an Ace bandage to discourage further licking. Sprinkling the area with an all-natural lick deterrent such as lavender essential oil can also reduce the urge to lick.
  5. You’ll still need to see your holistic veterinarian to identify and deal with the underlying reasons for the licking, but in the meantime, anything you can do to prevent your dog from self-injury will be beneficial.”

Treating lick granulomas can be extremely frustrating, but with a lot of patience and guidance from your veterinarian, you can help heal your dog and increase his quality of life.

Licking GIF - Find on GIFER

Bite from A Dog to Another Dog: What to Do

Has your canine companion ever suffered an attack of a dog bite?

One dog is about to attack another dog while running.

It’s something every owner dreads. You’re out for a walk when your well-behaved dog is attacked by another dog.

A dog bite can be deceptively nasty. Even a simple puncture wound can have unfortunate complications. These include internal injuries, infection, abscess formation and soft tissue dieback.

Good first-aid treatment for a dog bite makes a big difference on the outcome.

However, a vet check is strongly advisable because the injuries often go beyond skin deep.

How to Treat a Dog Bite

Picture of two dogs playing and getting too rough. One is going to bite the other dog.

#1: Keep yourself safe from attack

Do not try to separate fighting dogs with your hands or arms. You will get bitten. Instead, place an object between them, such as a chair. Or distract the aggressor by throwing water over him.

Reasons Why Dogs Fight and How to Safely Stop It before a bite happens

Immediately after a dog bite, your fur-friend will be fearful, shaken and in pain. This can cause even a placid dog to become aggressive.

If necessary, improvise a muzzle using a tie wrapped around the dog’s snout.

Try this if no tie, place your coat over the dog’s body and head as you gently pick him up.

This provides you with some protection should the dog turn and snap.

#2: Assess the Injuries

A superficial dog bite, such as the tail, is painful but unlikely to be life-threatening. You have the option to give first aid at home, and then seek a vet check. (We’ll discuss more on that in the next section.)

How to manage bite wounds.

However, a deep dog bite to the windpipe (throat area), chest or abdomen is very serious.

Ask yourself:

  • How deep is the dog bite? Could it have entered a body cavity, such as the chest or stomach?
  • Was the dog physically shaken, like a rag doll, during the attack?
  • Does your dog seem weak, confused or disorientated?
  • Is he having breathing difficulties?
  • Is he bleeding heavily?

Contact your veterinarian to ask if it is OK to try to clean the surface area of the dog bite before you head to the vet’s office.

If the veterinarian says it’s OK, apply pressure with a clean cotton pad to a bleeding wound and keep the dog warm on your way, if possible.

But even while cleaning the wounds, there is still a strong possibility that there will be deeper injuries.

#3: First Aid for the Walking Wounded

Clean dog bite wound at home.

If the bite is a genuine nip and not deeply penetrating, then clean the wound at home. This reduces the risk of infection developing. If the dog will let you, gently trim the fur back from the wound edges. This allows you to see more clearly the extent of the injury.

Then clean and bathe the wound with an appropriate solution such as saline solution or weak disinfectant. Saline solution is ideal, such as the kind used for cleaning contact lenses. Or, make up a salt water solution: add a teaspoon of salt to one pint of a cool boiled water and stir.

Saline solution helps wash away bacteria and doesn’t damage the dog’s delicate soft tissue.

Alternatively, use a weak solution of a pet-safe disinfectant such as Savlon.

Here is a step-by-step list of how to clean the wound at home.

#4: Monitor the Wound

If there’s minimal chance of getting to the clinic soon, keep a close eye on the injury.

Monitoring and How to Treat Dog  bite Wounds.

Look for:

  • Swelling under or around the area of the bite
  • A discharge that’s bloody or purulent
  • Pain around the area

These are all signs of infection or the skin dying back.

Getting a dog in this state to a veterinarian must then become top priority.

How to Treat a Dog Bite on a Dog

A dog bite is usually more than skin deep, with a high risk of complications. When treated correctly at the beginning, this can reduce the risk of costly complications.

For example, let’s say the attacking dog picked your dog up by the scruff and shook him. The only visible injuries are two deep puncture wounds. The dog is upset but isn’t bleeding. You bathe the wounds but decide a vet visit isn’t necessary. Right?

Wrong!

Little puppy that has bite wound on neck.

Shaking causes massive shearing forces that detach the skin from the underlying muscle. This creates a large dead space or cavity. Seepage from the damaged tissue then fills the void to create a large abscess or seroma.

Odds are that the attacker’s teeth injected bacteria into this space, which makes for a monster-sized abscess.

In a worst-case scenario, this could cause the skin to die back and a skin graft may be necessary to close the large open wound.

Dog Bite Treatment Protocol at the Vet

Let’s run with the example of the shaken dog.

Surgical Treatment for Bite Wounds.

The vet may need to sedate the dog to explore the bite wounds and see how deep the puncture wounds are. This allows the vet to flush the dead space clean and place a drain if required.

Then antibiotics and further flushing can prevent a serious (and costly) complication.

Complications and Dog Bite Treatment

Bite wound on neck of dog that's been cleaned up.

It’s natural to focus on the skin wound you can see. But in more serious attacks, this is the least of the dog’s worries.

For example, a bite to the throat can puncture the windpipe or damage the larynx. This causes breathing difficulties that need immediate attention.

Likewise, a bite across the chest can let air into the chest cavity, causing the lungs to collapse. This is known as pneumothorax and is a genuine emergency.

Chest wrapped after getting bit in the chest.

If you suspect a penetrating bite to the chest, try to seal the hole by bandaging around the chest. Then get straight to the vet.

Bite wound on the chest.

Sadly, bites to the belly can be just as serious. If a tooth penetrates the gut, this can damage the intestine and cause gut contents to leak into the belly. Again, this requires immediate surgical management. The vet needs to give the dog a general anesthetic, open the abdomen, remove devitalized pieces of bowel and flush the belly to get rid of contamination.

Dog Bite Wounds – The Importance Of Watching For Shock

And last but by no means least is the risk of shock.

A dog that’s been badly frightened or injured can easily go into shock. This causes the circulation to shut down and can be life-threatening.

Signs of shock include:

  • Cold feeling paws or extremities
  • Pale membranes in the mouth
  • Weakness and disorientation
  • Mental confusion

Keep the dog warm by wrapping him in a coat or blanket. Then get to the vet clinic.

The vet will give supportive care such as intravenous fluids to boost blood pressure, pain relief and drugs to boost the circulation.

Dog Bites

A dog bite is a scary experience for both dog and owner.

If your dog is attacked, keep calm but also seek help.

It’s better to visit the vet and have a wasted trip than miss an important opportunity to catch a complication before it becomes serious.

Has Your Dog Been Bitten?

Share your story if you’d like to, and find other dog owners who have been through the same thing, comment below.

Carrot: Is It Alright to Give Them to Your Dog?

A Complete Guide to Carrots for Dogs

A dog getting fed carrots.

A complete guide to carrots for dogs. Includes can dogs eat carrots that are raw or cooked, can dogs have baby carrots and can dogs eat carrot cake! I’ll answer all your questions.

If you’re wondering, can dogs have carrots? The answer is yes. Dogs will eat carrots with very little prompting, and they are safe for dogs to eat. In fact, many popular wet and dry dog foods contain a small amount of carrots.

Carrots are one of the most popular root vegetables eaten around the world. They appeal to us for their sweet flavor and health benefits.

Raw, steamed, baked or juiced – there are hundreds of ways to prepare and eat carrots. But how do you prepare carrots for a dog? And, can dogs eat whole carrots?

Can Dogs Eat Carrots

A puppy eating a whole carrot.

I’ve established that dogs can eat carrots and that most dogs do because it’s in their regular dog food. Let’s take a closer look at that and learn more about carrots for dogs.

In dry dog foods, carrots are generally low on the list of ingredients and do not add much to the nutritional value of the food.

In wet dog foods, carrots are usually a little higher on the list of ingredients. Typically, you can see pieces of carrots in wet food when you serve it.

Many dog food and treat recipes also contain carrots.

Carrots and Dogs

Carrots are an excellent source of the antioxidants alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. These antioxidants are converted to vitamin A in the body.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for maintaining a healthy immune system, keeping skin healthy and promoting good vision.

Too much carotene can lead to a condition called carotenemia in which the skin takes on a yellowish hue. In human babies, this is often mistaken for jaundice, but it is not harmful and a decrease in carotene intake alleviates the discoloration. Unless raw carrots are a staple of a dog’s diet, the risk of carotenemia is extremely low.

When Are Carrots Bad for Dogs?

Carrots are a nutritious and delicious food that dogs enjoy, but as with anything, moderation is key.

It would be difficult to feed your dog enough carrots to cause carotenemia or toxicity. However, carrots are not nutritionally complete, so avoid feeding your dog so many carrots that your dog doesn’t eat his regular food.

Pug getting offered a carrot.
“I’ll do ANYTHING for Food!!”

Although they are low calorie, the fiber in carrots can fill the stomach removing or reducing the motivation to eat regular food. In addition, too much fiber can cause food to move too quickly through the digestive tract for nutrients to be properly absorbed.

Are Carrots Good for Dogs?

We know carrots are good for us (and delicious), but can dogs have carrots? In short, yes! Carrots are good for dogs in much same way that they are good for us.

Aside from carotenes, carrots are a good source of vitamin K and vitamin B6. Vitamin K is vital to blood clotting and vitamin B6 helps turn carbohydrates, fats and protein into energy.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Carrots?

Yes. Dogs enjoy chewing on carrots. The hardness of a raw carrot promotes healthy teeth by combating the buildup of plaque. But, carrots for dogs don’t take the place of regular brushing!

The fibrous nature of carrots makes them an excellent binding agent which promotes healthy digestion and bowel movements.

Boxer puppy eating a carrot.

Caution: Raw carrots for dogs are a choking hazard due to their hardness. This is rare, but err on the side of caution and don’t leave your dog, particularly small dogs or puppies, alone while eating carrots.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Carrots?

Yes. Cooked carrots for dogs are ideal since cooking breaks down the carrot’s tough cellular walls allowing greater absorption of its vitamins and nutrients.

Some recipes call for raw carrots that are then baked; some call for precooked carrots.

Baked, broiled, boiled or steamed, cooked carrots are a beneficial ingredient to any recipe.

Carrots for dogs should not have butter, salt or other spices unless a dog food recipe specifically calls for it. The extra fat and salt take away from the beneficial nature of carrots.

Can Dogs Eat Peas And Carrots?

Peas and carrots in bowls ready for dog to eat.

Peas, like carrots, are an excellent source of fiber and nutrients and can safely be fed to your dog.

Also like carrots, cooked peas provide more health benefits to your dog since cooking breaks down the celluloid walls of peas and allows greater nutrient absorption.

Again, avoid butter and salt when serving peas and carrots to your dog.

Can Dogs Eat Baby Carrots?

Baby carrots are either carrots harvested while still small or pieces of a regular-size carrot cut to baby-size. In either case, they are still carrots and have the same nutritional benefits as regular carrots.

While a full-grown, medium-to-large dog can be given a whole, regular-sized carrot, that may be too much for a puppy or small dog. Baby carrots can be a convenient way to add carrots to your puppy or small dog’s diet.

French Bulldog with a baby carrot in his mouth.

Can Dogs Eat Carrot Cake?

Can Dogs Eat Carrot Cake. Not a good idea.

Although the ingredients usually found in carrot cake aren’t toxic to dogs, the milk and high sugar content may cause tummy troubles, including vomiting and diarrhea.

There are special recipes for carrot cake just for dogs.

If you want to share your carrot treat with your dog, it’s best to stick to carrots for your dog while you enjoy the cake.

Can Eating Carrots Cure My Dog’s Vision Problems?

Chloe posing in a Snapchat filter with really big eyes.

Carrots are rich in beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A, and healthy vitamin A consumption is linked to good vision. Because of that, the carrot’s reputation for curing and improving eyesight is legendary.

However, in order to prevent toxic levels of vitamin A, the body reaches a saturation point where it will no longer convert beta-carotene to vitamin A. The exact number of carrots it would take to reach this saturation point is not documented, particularly considering the size differences among dogs.

Can dogs eat carrots to cure a vision problem? No. Using carrots as a remedy for vision problems is not recommended.

“Most eye problems stem from vision-impairment caused by issues such as genetics, aging or diabetes that cannot be aided with an infusion of beta-carotene.”

Scientific American article 2014

Ultimately, concerns about your dog’s vision should be brought to your veterinarian.

Should I Give My Dog Carrots

I’ve answered can dogs have carrots, but should we make a point of giving our dogs carrots? There are some good reasons to give your dog carrots.

Carrots are an inexpensive addition to your dog’s regular diet and treat regimen. They are safe to serve daily and can be added to any feeding.

When training your dog, carrots provide a healthy and low-calorie alternative to other dog treats.

Letting your puppy chew on a frozen carrot can alleviate pain from teething.

Whether you include carrots as a crunchy treat or add them to a recipe for additional sweetness, you’ll know you are strengthening your dog’s immune system, aiding in digestion, maintaining good vision and promoting overall nutritional balance.

Dog that has pulled a bunch of carrots out from the field.

How to Prepare Carrots for Dogs

Human washing carrots to feed to a dog.

You should scrub carrots clean, but you don’t have to peel them. Dogs will chew them to bits. In fact, this sometimes makes a mess since bits of carrots tend to break off during chewing, and dogs are not notoriously good housekeepers!

Dogs can eat carrots raw or cooked and there are benefits to each preparation.

For the greatest health benefits, steaming or boiling is the best preparation. As noted, this breaks down the carrot’s cellular wall and allows the most nutrients to pass to your dog. Just make sure carrots are totally cool inside and out before feeding.

For the benefits of both cooked and raw carrots, lightly steam them so they retain a little crunchiness for dental health but also provide better nutrient absorption.

You can also add pureed or juiced carrots to foods and treats for some extra sweetness and your dog won’t even know it’s good for him!

Can Dogs Eat Carrots Summary

The answer to can dogs eat carrots has been answered with a resounding yes. And, can dogs eat raw carrots is another hearty yes. We’ve talked about the health benefits of carrots and looked at the best ways to serve carrots for dogs.

Plain raw or cooked carrots are a healthy addition to regular food as well as a pleasant snack or training reward. But, remember to feed them to your dog in moderation as excess fiber has undesirable side effects.

French Bulldog going poop after eating too many carrots.
“I think I ate too many carrots!”

Carrots can pose a choking hazard, especially for puppies and small dogs, so only feed them small pieces and keep an eye on them while they enjoy it.

What’s your favorite way to include carrots in your dog’s diet? Tell us about it in the comments.

References and Further Reading

Morris, P. J., Salt, C., et al. “Safety evaluation of vitamin A in growing dogs,” British Journal of Nutrition, 2

Dog Sleep Position Tell About Them

Dog Sleep Positions And Habits Tell You A Lot About Their Personality And Health

Chloe sleeping on Frankie. Dog sleep position tell us a lot.
Chloe using Frankie as a pillow. So cute!!

Dog sleep position in what they’re in, the way they twitch or move, and the amount of time they spend napping can reveal a lot about how they’re feeling.

Sleeping habits can give clues about a dog’s health and happiness that you can interpret if you know what to look for. Of course, if you spot anything unusual or different about your dog’s sleeping behaviors, you should get to your vet for a checkup.

Here are a few things to take notice of when your dog is sleeping and what they might mean.

Sleep Positions

Illustration showing different dog sleep position.

Pay attention to the position your dog sleeps in most frequently. Your dog’s favorite sleeping position might change based on where they’re snoozing, who they’re sleeping near, or if they’re feeling a certain way.

Injuries or soreness can also cause a dog’s sleeping position to change, so if you notice anything unusual in your pup’s sleeping position, keep an eye out for signs of pain. Get to the vet if anything seems off.

Below are some common sleeping positions and what they might mean.

1. Dog Sleep Position On The Side

Frankie on his side with all legs pointing out while trying to sleep. This is the Dog sleep position on their side.

A dog who sleeps on their side has to feel pretty safe and comfortable, as it leaves the vital organs exposed.

Dogs who favor this position tend to be pretty easy-going and relaxed, though they may switch to a different position if they’re sleeping somewhere new or around someone they aren’t familiar with.

This position also leaves their limbs free to move during sleep, so you may see more twitching and leg kicks from a dog lying on their side.

2. Dog Sleep Position Curled Up

Chloe and Twinkie curled up together a sleep. Dog sleep position curling up.

A very common position dogs take when sleeping is to curl up in a ball, nose-to-tail. It’s a common position for animals to take in the wild too, as it protects the vital organs, helps conserve warmth, and makes it easy to get up quickly.

This position restricts movement during sleep, so you may see less twitching from a dog who snoozes in a ball.

You might think that a dog who sleeps in this position would be uncomfortable in their surroundings, and while that may be the case, it’s not necessarily true. It’s a common position in fall and winter months when the weather is cool, or it may just simply feel better for a particular dog to sleep in that position.

3. Dog Sleep Position Sprawled Out On The Tummy

Frankie laying sprawled out on top of the couch.

This is sometimes called the “Superman” position. It allows for a dog to pop up and be on their paws right away.

You often see this position with puppies who need to nap frequently but also want to be ready to jump up and play at a moment’s notice.

Dogs who sleep in this position don’t want to miss a chance to be in the action, even while they’re napping. It’s the position of choice for high-energy pups or pups who get sleepy during play and just want to plop down where they’re standing.

4. Dog Sleep Position On Their Back, Paws Up In The Air

Frankie sleeping between mamaw and papaw with legs in the air.

In the same way curling in a ball conserves heat, sleeping with an exposed belly helps a dog cool off. Since the fur is thinner around the belly and the paws hold the sweat glands, exposing these areas is a great way to beat the heat.

It’s also a position that indicates a dog is very comfortable, leaving their most sensitive areas vulnerable and making it hard to get on their feet quickly.

A pup who’s sleeping in this position most likely doesn’t have a care in the world. It’s common in summer months.

5. Sleep Back-To-Back Or Snuggled Up

Chloe and I curled up while camping.

You may catch your dog sleeping back-to-back with your other pets or snuggling up to you, and it means the same thing. Your dog is bonding and showing that they want to get close to you or their furry siblings.

A dog sleeping this way feels very loving and affectionate, and they’re completely comfortable with whoever they’re napping with.

Try showing your love in return by taking a snooze with your pup.

Sleeping Behaviors

Frankie trying to sleep in a chair with a big pillow.

Once your dog is napping, you may get some clues about the quality of their sleep from their behavior.

Sleep is important for healing and repairing the body, and REM sleep, which is the deepest stage of sleep, is the most restorative.

Pay attention to these signs and behaviors to make sure your dog is getting the best sleep possible.

1. Circling And Digging Their Sleeping Area

Boxer circling in a too small dog bed trying to lay down.

It’s a normal behavior for dogs to circle their sleeping area or even dig a bit before lying down for sleep.

This is behavior that comes from dogs’ wolf ancestors who would often trample down grass, leaves, or snow to get comfortable. They might also dig a hole that would help keep them warm in winter or cool in summer.

Dogs tend to circle a few times before lying down, but doing it too much or having trouble settling in might be a sign of pain, arthritis, or a neurological issue. Consult a vet if you notice excessive circling.

2. Light Dozing Sleeping

Chloe half a sleep waiting to go for a walk.

A dog might doze off during the day if they’re bored or just getting a rest. This is not a very restful sleep, and your dog may just be waiting for something more interesting to come along.

Watch your pup’s ears and see if they perk up at any movement or unusual noise. This probably means that your dog is still fairly alert and looking for something worth getting up for.

Maybe it’s time to do something fun like go for a walk or play fetch.

3. Twitching, Wagging, Or Soft Barks While Sleeping

Dogs tend to move a bit during REM sleep when they’re most restful. They could very well be acting out their dreams, but they are getting a nice, deep sleep.

Twitching, tail wagging, leg kicks, and occasional barks or grunts are common. This is a good time to let sleeping dogs lie, as this stage of sleep is very restorative and good for their health.

Movement during sleep is actually more frequent in puppies and senior dogs, and no one can really explain why.

A less common reason for twitching during sleep is if a dog is cold. The twitches are the body’s way of warming up. If your dog is cold, get a blanket or move them to a warmer sleeping place.

4. Signs Of Distress While Sleeping

Dog having nightmares while a sleep.

Like humans, dogs can have nightmares.

If your dog seems particularly agitated during sleep with more movement, barks, or whimpers than usual, you can try gently calming your pup down. Call their name softly and stroke their back or side. Use soothing tones.

Your pup may wake up or may just simply relax and continue on with a more pleasant dream after you’ve comforted them.

If you notice your dog frequently seems agitated during sleep, you may want to schedule a vet visit to be on the safe side.

5. Seizures While Sleeping

When twitching gets excessive, it could be a sign of a seizure that requires immediate medical attention.

Try calling your dog’s name and waking them up if you suspect that their movements are abnormal. If they wake, it may have just been an intense dream.

If they don’t respond to your calls, continue to shake, or feel stiff, get medical help right away.

You should pay attention to your dog’s usual sleeping habits so you know the difference and can tell when something is out of the ordinary.

Amount Of Sleep

Close-up face of Cute pug puppy dog sleeping by chin and tongue lay down on laminate floor

Dogs sleep a lot more than people do. On average, dogs need about twelve to 14 hours of sleep a day.

Big dogs tend to take longer naps than smaller dogs, and puppies need about 18 to 19 hours of sleep a day, usually waking up for an hour after every few hours of sleep.

Take notice of your dog’s normal sleeping habits. If you notice a change in how long your dog sleeps, it could mean a lot of things from a dietary change to a thyroid problem.

If your dog is spending too much time napping, it could be time for a vet visit.

Frankie and Chloe sleeping curled up on the couch.

How does your dog sleep? Does your dog dream a lot? Does your pup take naps all day? Let me know in the comments below!

Pennies Are Bad For Dogs to Ingest

Zinc Toxicity in Dogs: Common Cents Caution for Pets

Swallowing pennies come at a high price for dogs that develop zinc toxicity.

Dog that ingested pennies and developed zinc toxicity. Vets took an x-ray and operated getting the pennies out.

Humans aren’t the only species with money troubles. Did you know that pennies can be hazardous to your dog’s health?

One-cent coins used to be made from 100 percent copper. Which is nontoxic to dogs. In 1982, the government began minting pennies that were made mainly from zinc (much cheaper). They coated them with a thin layer of copper, keeping the look of a penny (pretty isn’t always better). When swallowing a penny, the copper coating of the newer penny dissolves in the stomach acids. It then leaves a wafer of toxic zinc.

The zinc of pennies being dissolved by stomach acid.

A few years back I saw a dog who had been sick. He was vomiting for two days and his blood work revealed both anemia (low red blood-cell count) and elevated kidney values. There are many causes for these type of symptoms. There are infectious disease, immune-mediated disease, inflammatory disease and toxins that count for low blood levels. That’s just to name a few for dogs.

His owner had no idea if he’d eaten anything out of the ordinary. X-rays revealed a round metallic object in the stomach. You guessed it, the dog ate a penny. An endoscope was used to remove the penny. The dog recovered during the course of the week with intensive supportive care. A very expensive penny that the owners paid for!

X-ray of dog that had ingested a zinc penny.

Just like in this case, you might not know what your dog ingested. Symptoms may show within a couple hours to a couple days after ingestion.

If you think your dog ate something dangerous call your vet immediately or ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (888) 426-4435, or National Pet Poison Helpline (800) 213-6680.

Common Toxicity Signs

The clinical signs and potential problems caused by zinc toxicity include:

Zinc Induced Hemolytic Anemia in a Dog. Dog had eaten pennies.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Blood-tinged urine
  • Icterus (yellow mucous membranes including gums and the “whites” of the eyes)
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Hemolysis (which is the destruction of red blood cells)
  • Anemia

Sources Of Zinc

Nuts and bolts can contain zinc.
Baby lotions and suntan lotions can contain zinc. Don't let dogs lick these off you!

Many dog owners might not realize that zinc is harmful. They might not be aware of some of the common sources pets have access to it.

Beyond pennies other potential sources of zinc include hardware. These include nuts and bolts, dietary supplements, and (surprisingly) zinc oxide–based skin creams, such as diaper rash ointment and sunscreen.

Treatment

Pup getting fluids to wash out the zinc in their system after eating pennies.

The zinc should be removed promptly. Especially if the object possibly made of zinc is seen on a radiograph. Supportive care then becomes crucial. It includes fluid therapy to keep circulation to the kidneys adequate, helping to prevent failure.

A blood transfusion may be necessary to combat anemia. Anti-nausea medications are indicated to stop nausea. As well as stomach protectants (antacids and “coating” medications). These medicines are used due to the corrosive nature of zinc.

Researchers are still actively looking at methods for binding excess zinc in the circulation. Similar to the way lead poisoning is treated by binding lead. Unfortunately, this is not yet available.

Prevention Of Toxicity

  • In addition to coins, be mindful of the nuts and bolts on your dogs’ kennels as they may contain zinc.
  • Do not use ointments and creams on the fur or skin of your pet.(Unless directed by your veterinarian.) Ointments usually get licked off causing toxicity.
  • Keep vitamins, dietary supplements and topical creams far out of your pets reach.
Zinc:This Trace Mineral Could Be Fatal to Your Pet's Health

Many people are unaware of zinc toxicity syndrome. They do not realize that pennies swallowed by dogs are far more dangerous than a “simple” foreign body.

As always, prevention is best: ”Penny wise, pound foolish” has a whole new meaning.

Proverb