All posts by West Park Animal Hospital Staff

Small Dog Aggression: Is it Real?

If you’re the proud owner of a small dog, you know that big personalities often come in the tiniest packages. There are plenty of memes, YouTube videos, and other anecdotal evidence that shows tiny dogs bossing around bigger dogs, cats, and people.

However, while this may be funny to watch online, small dog aggression can cause real problems for both pets and their owners.

The team at West Park Animal Hospital wants all dogs to live in harmony with their families, regardless of size. That’s why we’re tackling the issue of small dog aggression head-on!

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Sneezy, Wheezy, and Snorey: Feline Asthma and Other Cat Breathing Noises

If your cat is suddenly making noise while breathing that you aren’t used to hearing, you may be understandably concerned. While the occasional kitty sneeze or sniffle can be adorable, many times changes in breathing noises can indicate a problem.

So how is a pet owner to know whether a cat-sized wheeze is just a one-off or something more serious like feline asthma? Thankfully, you aren’t expected to have all the answers. This is where your friends at West Park Animal Hospital come in.

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Tips and Tricks for Pet Ear Cleaning

The special anatomy of cat and dog ears can create certain challenges. Infection and inflammation are common ailments that affect multiple parts of the ear, but injury can also occur. All problems in and around the ear have the potential for intense discomfort and should be properly addressed. Pet ear cleaning is just one way to promote overall health of this part of the body, and we’ve got some tips to help you get started!

A Closer Look

The outer ear is called the pinna. Dog breeds with long, floppy ears, those with a lot of hair around the ear, and swimmers are more prone to suffering ear infections. The pinna is also susceptible to bites, scratches, or abrasions.

The middle ear contains the fragile eardrum (tympanic membrane), small bones, an air-filled cavity, and a thin tube that leads to the back of the mouth.

The inner ear contains nerves and is comprised of the centers for hearing and balance. It also connects to the brain.

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Beneath the Surface: Common Skin Conditions in Dogs

Just like in humans, a dog’s skin is their largest organ, and it plays an incredible role in their overall health. Whether it’s regulating body temperature, creating vitamin D, or providing a critical line of defense against pathogens, the skin is truly an amazing thing!

That’s why when the skin is impacted by health issues, major problems can arise. According to Nationwide Pet Insurance, skin conditions in dogs are among the top reasons they’re seen by a veterinarian, so it’s important to take the health of your pet’s skin seriously. After all, when the skin suffers, your dog suffers, too!

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Artificial Sweeteners and Pets

By now, pet owners are well aware that chocolate is bad for pets. The dangers of allowing pets to consume xylitol (a sugar substitute) is also becoming more widely known – and for good reason. Xylitol, which is commonly found in sugar-free candy, baked goods, gum, and other products, can lead to a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and kidney failure in dogs.

Sugar is in practically everything we eat, but the popularity of low-carb and keto diets has led many people to seek out sugar alternatives. Sugar alcohols, like erythritol and plant-based sweeteners such as stevia, have exploded onto the market, and they can be purchased almost anywhere.

Here at West Park Animal Hospital, we’re always on the lookout for potential new pet toxins, and considering artificial sweeteners and pets is an important part of our ongoing research.

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Happy Tail Syndrome in Dogs

A dog’s tail is their “stamp” on the world. It can communicate joy, fear, uncertainty, or confidence. It is part of their identity.

So what’s a pet to do when their tail is hurt? Tail injuries can be difficult and frustrating to manage. West Park Animal Hospital is happy to help fix tails whenever we can, but happy tail syndrome in dogs can be quite the conundrum.

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Adopting the Oddballs: Special Needs Pets

If you’ve ever gone to the shelter looking for a new pet, you have probably been overwhelmed with the number of animals that need to be adopted. Statistics show that over 2 million pets are adopted from animal shelters each year. That’s an astounding number!

When looking for a new pet, did you ever consider the pet with 3 legs? Or the deaf or blind pet? Pets with physical challenges are also looking for forever homes, some of them through shelters and some through rescue organizations. Special needs pets can make amazing companions, too, and we’re here to tell you how.

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Sick as a Dog: Can You Catch a Cold From Your Pet?

The simple answer to this question is yes, but it is extremely rare.

If you and your cat or dog are both sick at the same time, you may think you caught a cold from your pet, or vice versa. Some symptoms are certainly similar. An Upper Respiratory Infection (URI), usually referred to in humans as the common cold, is caused by any number of different viruses. However, the viruses that cause cold-like symptoms in humans, dogs, and cats rarely jump from one species to another.

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Pet Nutritional Supplements: Necessary or Needless?

Many Americans take a multivitamin to supplement their diet, fish oil for heart health, or a joint supplement to quell arthritis pains. This habit of utilizing supplements to support overall health and well-being has crossed over into the world of pet products as well.

As you peruse pet-related blogs, online animal care communities, and the aisles of the pet store you may start to wonder whether you need to or should jump on the bandwagon. Are pet nutritional supplements necessary? Are they safe? How do you choose? Your friends at West Park Animal Hospital have the scoop!

What’s in a Supplement?

A supplement is something that completes or enhances something else (in this case, your pet’s diet). With nearly one-third of dog owners and one-fifth of cat owners purchasing one for their pet, it is important to understand why and how you might choose one.

Some pet nutritional supplements are more common than others. A few of the more commonly administered include:

Glucosamine/chondroitin — These ingredients are typically used to support overall joint health and ameliorate the effects of arthritis.

Fish oil — The long chain fatty acids in fish oil supplements have been shown to have some anti-inflammatory effects that may be helpful in the treatment of heart, skin, kidney, and joint disease when delivered in the correct doses.

Turmeric — Touted for its anti-inflammatory effects for arthritis patients and cancer-controlling properties, this herb has begun to make an appearance in the veterinary world.

Probiotics — Helping to support a healthy digestive tract can be important to overall health and immune function. Supplementing the gut with healthy bacteria has some obvious benefits

Hairball remediesSome cats routinely regurgitate hairballs, and many feline caretakers reach for these supplements designed to help hair pass more easily through the digestive tract.

When selecting nutritional supplements, it’s important to know the potential side effects of what you’re buying.Your pet depends on you in order to receive the best care possible.

Purchasing human fish oil capsules containing toxic Xylitol, not being aware of the fact that glucosamine can alter blood sugar metabolism, or being oblivious to turmeric’s anticoagulant properties can potentially cause great harm. Populating your pet’s gut with less-than helpful human bacteria doesn’t really reap any benefits, and trying to fix your cat’s inflammatory bowel disease with petroleum based hairball products could delay a proper diagnosis.

The Bottom Line About Pet Nutritional Supplements

Safety, efficacy, and quality control are huge concerns when it comes to pet nutritional supplements. Because they are not subject to the same FDA regulations as veterinary drugs, it can be difficult to know if what you are purchasing is pure.

This also means that just about any one can write just about anything about them. It can be next to impossible to sort fact from fiction.

As veterinarians and scientists, we stand behind evidence-based medicine and make our supplement recommendations based on what research is available to us. It is important to “first do no harm”, and we must recognize that supplements can have many different effects on the body.

When administering supplements to your pet, it is important to work with our veterinary team in order to select one. Our expertise can help with:

  • Deciding what, if any, supplements may be helpful for your pet
  • Arriving at correct and efficacious dose
  • Selecting a product with good quality control practices
  • Navigating any potential interactions with other medications or conflicts with existing health problems
  • Troubleshooting potential side effects
  • Avoiding possible toxicities

For some animals pet nutritional supplements can bring benefits to overall health. It is important, however, to assess their need and choose one in concert with animal health professionals.

If you have questions about supplements for your pet, call us today so that we can discuss the matter further. Adding supplements can have positive effects on your pet’s health, but only if done correctly and safely.

The Low Down on Mellow Dogs for Mellow People

Mellow dogs are great for mellow people.

The world of dog breeds is amazing. Canine companions come in every shape, size, and color, with different personalities to match. And whether you’re interested in a furry companion for your kids, a protective guard dog, or a running partner for yourself, chances are you can find a breed personality that matches your lifestyle.

What about another trait that many people are looking for? Mellowness (or calmness) in dogs is a highly desired trait, especially for families with children or elderly people. And, according to the American Kennel Club, there are several breeds out there with that particular characteristic.

West Park Animal Hospital explores the wide, wonderful world of mellow dogs…

Mellow Dogs: Breeds and Basics

Bulldog – The bulldog is a bit too big to be a lapdog, but he would like to be! Mellow and laid back, the bulldog is a good choice for those who are wanting a dog happy to laze around inside. They do need regular walks to prevent obesity, but a jogger this dog is not. They are known as great family dogs due to their tendency to bond with children.

Mastiff – Mastiffs of all types (Bull, English, Neapolitan) don’t need a great deal of exercise and are gentle, sweet tempered dogs. They are considered to be great family dogs but will need thoughtful socialization and training in order to behave properly around children and other dogs, as they sometimes don’t know their own strength.

Great Dane – In spite of their size, Great Danes are known as couch potatoes, and even great apartment dogs. Mellow and gentle, their loving nature has helped coin the phrase “gentle giants”. They also make great family pets.

Saint Bernard – Friendly and patient, the Saint Bernard is another of the mellow dog breeds. Their large size and hairy coat mean they need regular grooming to stay healthy. They have the reputation of being happy to go with the flow, so to speak.

Greyhound – As a sighthound, or coursing breed, you may think of greyhounds as hyperactive runners, but nothing could be further from the truth. The greyhound is a calm dog and happy to lounge around the house all day. They do need exercise opportunities to (safely) run full out, but at home are generally mild and placid.

Pug – Who doesn’t love a pug? These mellow dogs are even tempered and calm, and they fit into almost any household. It’s easy to see why they’ve been companion dogs to humans since ancient times.

Bernese Mountain Dog – Their calm, confident natures made Bernese Mountain Dogs ideal for farm work, including pulling carts to market and driving dairy cattle. Their gentle and easygoing manner again make them a good family dog. They have a strong need to be near their people.

Xoloitzcuintli – Known as the Mexican hairless dog, the “Xolo” is a relatively little-known breed. These dogs are described as loyal, calm and alert. The Xolo is also known to make an excellent companion dog. The breed was used as a healer, as it’s warm skin was put to use in remote Mexican and Central American villages to remedy ailments such as rheumatism, insomnia, and asthma.

Mellow dogs abound, it seems! Each breed is different, and of course each individual dog has his or her own personality traits within the breed. Research is a wonderful place to start, but can’t substitute for in person visits with a potential new dog for your family. Remember too that every dog does need daily exercise to be their healthiest.

The following ideas are not exhaustive, and if you would like more ideas about a great breed for your family, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We are experts in breed knowledge, and have the opportunity to see and work with many different breed of dog throughout the year. We’re here to help!