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Jennifer Dempsey

Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives.
As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

Posts by Jennifer Dempsey

Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?

Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?

If you're reading this article, chances are you just witnessed (wo)man's best friend doing something pretty unpleasant... eating cat poop. While it certainly isn't a conversation we love having, dogs eating poop is by no means a new trend and is something that should be discussed. In fact, it is so common that there are blogs all over the internet attempting to uncover why in the world your precious four-legged companion is eating cat feces.

In this article, we'll cover all of the reasons why your dog may be eating cat poop. Additionally, we'll discuss why you'll want to nip the nasty habit in the butt straight away. Finally, we'll go over several ways to prevent the event from happening in the future... an idea that we all can get behind. Let's get to it!

why do dogs eat cat poop

What is Coprophagia

Coprophagia is the scientific term for eating poop. The term doesn't solely refer to dogs eating cat poop but rather any species' feces, including their own. The habit, although disgusting, is quite common in dogs. It is considered by many experts to be a "natural," although not necessarily healthy behavior. But still, the question remains, why in the world are they doing it?!

Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop

In order to stop this issue and prevent it from occurring in the future, pet owners must get to the bottom of what is causing it in the first place. When it comes to a dog eating cat poop, there are a number of behavioral and environmental circumstances that may be contributing to your dog's undying love for cat feces.

Dogs are Scavengers

One of the most common reasons behind coprophagia is that it is simply a natural instinct. Experts suggest that your dog's wild ancestors (coyotes, wolves, and other wild dogs) would eat the feces of other animals if they didn't eat enough prey or other food that day. Furthermore, all dogs are scavengers by nature and are quite the opportunists when it comes to food. In other words, they will eat just about anything. From the stuffing of your new sofa to shoes or rocks, if your dog is like most, they are an equal opportunity eater. If a cat's litter box is available for snacking, you better believe your dog will seize the chance to eat cat poop.


Another reason why your dog may be eating cat feces is out of boredom. Most dogs need a decent amount of both physical and mental stimulation. If your dog is left home alone for hours at a time, they may explore your cat's litter box merely to add some excitement to their day. Luckily, this reason behind coprophagia is an easier fix than others (more on that in a moment). However, a habit is a habit. If your dog is constantly bored and therefore consistently reports to the cat litter box, it can quickly develop into a habit that is difficult to reverse.

They Like the Taste

This may be a hard pill to swallow for many dog owners. However, the truth of the matter is that dogs love the taste of cat poop. The smell alone has many dogs actively seeking out the cat's litter box and the continued action of eating cat poop leads experts to believe that dogs can't get enough of the taste. We know... it's nauseating to think about. Yet again, if this is the cause behind your dog eating cat poop, it's one of the easier ones to resolve.

why do dogs eat cat poop? they like the taste!

Nutritional Deficiency

Another cause behind dogs eating cat poop is that they are experiencing a vitamin deficiency or perhaps they are not getting enough calories per day.. If you feel that your dog's habit may be triggered due to a nutritional deficiency, it is important to speak to your veterinarian regarding dietary changes that may help to resolve the issue. Your vet may recommend adding fat, fiber or protein in order to make sure your dog's diet is balanced. Nutritional deficiencies are not as common nowadays since most commercial pet foods are formulated to meet standard nutritional profiles. Home-cooked diets are more likely to be the culprit as it can be difficult to prepare a well-balanced diet without the guidance of a veterinary nutritionist.

Environmental Stress

We likely don't have to tell you that dogs are highly sensitive creatures. However, it may come as a surprise to learn that dogs can experience crippling bouts of anxiety, just like people. Interestingly enough, large amounts of stress can cause Fido to act in strange ways, such as developing a habit like coprophagia.

Behavioral Trigger

In some cases, particularly if your dog spent time in a shelter or on the streets, eating poop may be a way to ensure they won't go hungry. This is primarily a cause when the dog is eating their own poop. However, veterinarians have reported that dogs who once didn't know where their next meal was coming from may be inclined to go to great lengths to make sure they won't starve, including eating the poop of other animals.

Additionally, if puppies witness the behavior from their mom or from another animal in the house, they often learn by example and they too can quickly develop the poop eating habit.

Other Medical Conditions

Conditions such as diabetes mellitus or Cushing’s disease can cause polyphagia or an increased appetite. These pets may eat poop since they feel excessively hungry. These diseases also cause an increase in water consumption. Pica, or eating non-food items with no nutritional value, is also a reason for coprophagia. Liver disease and anemia can be major causes for pica. Older pets can also start eating feces due to a decline in cognitive function, also known as dementia or senility. 

Is Cat Poop Bad For Dogs

The first thing many dog owners wonder (after they reluctantly accept their dog's new, nasty habit) is whether or not eating cat poop can cause serious harm to Fido. According to experts, the answer to this question is "possibly." We'll explain.

Some dogs may eat cat poop from time to time and be totally fine. Of course, we as dog owners may refuse to get close to their mouths and avoid slobbery kisses, but the dog's health may not be at any risk.

Poop Can Contain Bacteria and Parasites

However, in other cases, eating cat feces can lead to your dog contracting dangerous bacteria and parasites, some of which can be transmitted to humans. Additionally, intestinal parasites, such as worms, can invade your dog's system without showing any symptoms until the problem is severe.

Cat Poop = Cat Litter

Furthermore, eating large quantities of cat feces from the litter box, in turn, means also consuming the litter. Cat litter can lead to gastrointestinal upset such as diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting. We likely don't have to tell you how miserable it would be for your dog to be vomiting cat poop.

cat litter

Preventing Your Dog From Eating Cat Poop

If you weren't fully convinced to rid the habit before, that last sentence probably put you over the edge. For more reasons than the ick factor, coprophagia should be stopped and prevented from occurring in the future. If you've noticed that your dog has been making frequent trips to your cat's litter box, you may have a fairly good idea that the habit may be a difficult one to break. However, it is possible (and necessary).

Remove the Possibility

First and foremost, dog owners should remove the temptation. Simply make sure that your cat's litter box is in a place where your dog is unable to reach it. If you have a small dog, you may want to put the litter box higher up on a shelf. If you have a large dog, consider putting the litter box in a small place where only your cat can access it.   Another option would be purchasing a self-cleaning litter box that automatically removes the poop immediately after use.

You may also want to look into installing a "cat door" that your dog is unable to get through. Or, for larger dogs, installing a baby gate may do the trick and be a relatively easy fix. Whichever method you choose, as long as you make sure that you develop a dog proof litter box, you can ensure the poop eating habit will come to an end.

Add Mental and Physical Activity

Next, if you feel as though your dog is eating cat poop out of boredom, it is important to implement additional mental or physical activity. Simply placing the litter box out of reach will not resolve the boredom issue and your dog will quickly find another way to entertain themselves, some ways which may be more destructive than feasting on cat poop.

Experts recommend adding in an extra walk in the morning or evening. Additionally, dog owners can purchase interactive toys that can keep their dog busy when they are home alone. Finally, consider hiring a dog walker or introducing your pup to doggy daycare. Boredom may seem like an easy fix but it is one that should be handled appropriately as it can often lead to the development of additional behavioral issues.

Change Up Your Dog's Diet

We cannot stress enough the importance of your dog's diet. If your dog is eating cat poop, it may be due to an inadequate amount of vitamins and nutrients in the current dog food you are feeding them. We recommend talking to your veterinarian regarding supplements that you may want to add to their food in order to ensure your dog is receiving all of the goodness they need in their meal.

Additionally, pet owners may want to consider implementing a raw food diet. Experts developed the concept of raw diets to mimic the diets of the dog's ancestors. Of course, your domesticated dog has substantially evolved since their wolf days and a raw food diet may not necessarily be mandatory, but it is something to look into if the poop-eating habit doesn't resolve quickly.

Preventative Medication

The product called FOR-BID has been on the market for over 40 years and is labeled for prevention of coprophagia. It is a packet of powder that contains vegetable protein and sodium glutamate and is added to your pet’s food. It deters pets from eating feces by changing its flavor. However, it must be given to the pet whose feces are being ingested. 

Anxiety & Stress Relief

Finally, we previously mentioned that, like people, dogs can suffer from anxiety and stress. Extreme amounts of anxiety can lead to a slew of concerns including the development of behavioral issues, such as coprophagia. If anxiety is at the root of your dog's unfortunate habit, it will require a bit more than simply putting the litter box out of reach. Anxiety is a condition that must be addressed at the root as it will certainly lead to additional behavioral issues once the poop-eating habit is addressed.

It is imperative that dog owners recognize what is causing their dog's stress. Is it separation anxiety? Or anxiety due to new environmental changes such as a new family member or a change in the household? Again, dogs are highly sensitive animals. You can safely assume that if something is causing you to feel anxious, your dog is picking up on it and it is likely affecting them, too.

why do dogs eat cat poop? because they're stressed!

Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop: The Bottom Line

As you get your 'welcome home' kisses, it's probably better to not think about where your dog's mouth has been that day. While dogs are perfect to us and we love them more than life itself, they can be pretty gross if the opportunity strikes. While the habit of eating cat poop is one that may not cause any health issues, most dog owners will do whatever it takes to make it stop. Luckily, there is hope. By making a few simple changes, we feel confident that you will find a positive change in your dog's unpleasant habit.

As always, all dogs are different. If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding why your dog is eating cat poop, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian. Additionally, if for any reason you feel as though your dog may have contracted intestinal parasites or worms, veterinary attention will be absolutely necessary.

At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your four-legged companion. Spoiler alert... the very best does not include a cat poop snack. Don't panic, you got this! We wish you the best of luck in breaking this common, yet nasty habit.


Jennifer Dempsey, DVM

Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) 

She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives. As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  

Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

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Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

We know that dogs love lapping up the delicious creamy treat, yet, many cat owners are uncertain whether or not their feline could also enjoy spoonfuls of peanut butter. Is it safe? Should peanut butter be apart of your feline's diet? Are there any health benefits to know about? What about potential consequences?

We all want to be able to treat our pets to the very best that life has to offer. However, before doing so it is imperative that we all do our research. What's considered safe for one animal may be quite harmful to another. 

In this article, we'll cover all there is to know about whether or not cats should eat peanut butter. The answer may surprise you...

can cats eat peanut butter

Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter...

The answer to this common question isn't as simple as it may seem. Technically, peanut butter is not listed as being a food that is poisonous for cats. However, experts agree that it shouldn't be a treat that cat owners give their feline. 

Some veterinarians have made the comparison of Twinkies not being poisonous for people, however, we shouldn't be snacking on them on any sort of regular basis. Peanut butter is not toxic to cats, but should still be avoided for overall health reasons. Therefore, "yes," cats can eat peanut butter, but that definitely doesn't mean that they should. 

Let's get more specific as to why we feel that peanut butter is a no-go for your feline.

No Nutritional Value

Peanut butter ultimately has no nutritional value for cats. Cats are carnivores and their diet should consist of a well-balanced variety of meats and fish. Feeding them peanut butter, in any amount, proves to have no benefit for their health as it doesn't contain the vitamins and minerals that their body needs. In fact, peanut butter can have the exact opposite effect.

Choking Hazard

Because of the fact that peanut butter is so thick and sticky, it can get caught in the cat's throat. Even a small amount of peanut butter can create a potential choking hazard for your feline friend. If you do choose to give your kitty a lick or two of peanut butter every so often, it is important that you closely monitor them while they are snacking. Cats should never be left alone with a spoonful of the sticky treat. Additionally, it is important for cat owners to make sure that their cat has plenty of fresh, clean water in case they need help washing the peanut butter down.

cats may choke on peanut butter

Peanut Butter Allergies

It is also possible for your cat to have an unknown peanut allergy which can quickly prove to be a life-threatening situation that you wish you had avoided. In general, cats are known to have food allergies, either one that they were born with or those that develop over time. When it comes to peanut allergies, adverse reactions can be extremely severe. It is important for cat owners to be able to recognize the clinical signs of allergies in order to act quickly in reversing an allergic reaction.

Common symptoms of allergies include:

  • Itching
  • Skin Irritations
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight Loss

cat allergies to peanut butter

If for any reason you feel that your cat may be suffering from an allergic reaction to peanut butter (or anything for that matter), it is imperative that you seek veterinary help. In some cases, an allergic reaction may be something as simple as itchy skin. However, in other cases, an allergic reaction can quickly escalate to a severe medical emergency. 

Harmful Fats

Additionally, peanut butter is manufactured in a way that allows it to have a long shelf-life. Unfortunately, this process leads to an incredibly toxic food substance known as trans fatty acids. A small amount of these fats can be seen in peanut butter made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Trust us when we say you want to avoid these harmful fats as much as you can.

Calorically Dense

Peanut butter is by no means considered a low-calorie food. If your cat is struggling with weight issues you'll definitely want to pass on any peanut butter treats. As much as we think pudgy kitties are adorable, it is no secret that weight issues can lead to severe health consequences such as diabetes and heart conditions.

Gastrointestinal Upset

Additionally, like in many humans, peanut butter can lead to gastrointestinal upset in cats resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pains, and gas. Yes, your feline may enjoy the taste of peanut butter, but is it really worth the drawbacks? We don't think so.

Aflatoxins in Peanut Butter

Peanuts are full of naturally occurring aflatoxins, which area type of mycotoxin. The mold that colonizes peanuts under the ground produce these toxins. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but mycotoxins are known to be one of the most cancer-causing matters found on the planet. They are also known to be incredibly toxic for the liver and even lead to liver cancer. The USDA is in charge of monitoring our food that may contain aflatoxins to make sure they are below the recommended limit. 

Accidental Poisoning

Finally, because of the fact that so many animals do love the taste of peanut butter, it is an "ingredient" found in many insect and rodent poisons. In other words, people will mix a bit of peanut butter in with rat poison to attract the pests and... yes, kill them.

This is an incredibly important concept for pet owners to be aware of, particularly if your cat spends time outside. If your cat is given peanut butter every now and then as a treat and then comes across what they think is a "treat" in the neighborhood it could have deadly consequences.

When Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter

While many veterinary experts advise to never give your cat peanut butter, some feel there is a specific case where it is deemed acceptable. When administering pills and medication, some pet owners find that the only way their cat will swallow the medicine is with a bit of peanut butter moving it along. In these cases, it is important to coat the pill the smallest amount of peanut butter possible and make sure that your cat has an ample amount of clean water to wash it down with. 

What Peanut Butter to Buy

If you choose to purchase peanut butter for your cat, there are a few important factors to be aware of. Again, we don't recommend this, but we recognize that some of our readers may still want to test out the treat and we want to make sure they understand the additional risks involved. 


With the recent anti-sugar health craze over the last few decades, many food companies removed sugar from their products and replaced it with a sugar substitute called xylitol. Several peanut butter brands also jumped on the sugar-free bandwagon and substituted the sugar in their product with xylitol. That's when tragedy struck. You see, xylitol is extremely toxic to animals, but pet owners had no idea. They also had no idea that so many companies were replacing sugar on such a regular basis. Countless deaths resulted during this horrible time.

If you do decide to purchase peanut butter for your dog or cat, please ensure that it does not contain xylitol.

The following brands are those which DO CONTAIN the dangerous ingredient:

  • Go Nuts, Co.
  • Krush Nutrition
  • Nuts 'N More
  • P28 Foods
  • Protein Plus PB

xylitol is very common

With that being said, it is always important to triple check the label* as ingredients may change without you even realizing. 

*We encourage our readers to do this with all of their pet's food and treats, as well as their own. Many companies do not openly state when an ingredient has changed or when more fillers have been added in. For instance, sometimes when a small company quickly expands, the quality of food doesn't necessarily grow in conjunction with the growing demand for the product.  It is imperative to recognize that it is up to us to ensure that we are feeding our pets the very best products that we can find. An easy way to do this is by always checking the labels. 

No Xylitol = A Lot of Sugar

Unfortunately, for many peanut butter brands, no xylitol means a whole lot of sugar, which is also not healthy for your feline. What do conditions like yeast infections, parasites, bacterial infections, and cancer all have in common? They all feed off sugar. The more sugar your feline consumes, the more these conditions grow and thrive. Sugar is also responsible for health issues including premature aging, diabetes, and inflammatory changes in the body. Avoiding excess sugar intake is something that we all should strive for.

No Salt

Additionally, pet owners should make sure that the peanut butter they purchase does not contain any additives such as salt. High sodium levels can present big issues for our furry friends and must be avoided when it comes to their diet. It is possible to find unsalted peanut butter, but you'll likely have to dig a little. 

Peanut Butter Alternatives 

Luckily, there are countless peanut butter alternatives that are not only healthier options but are actually highly beneficial for your feline friend.

Pumpkin for Cats

We can't get enough of pumpkin for cats. The tasty treat is a wonderful substitute for a peanut butter snack and can provide your cat with a wide range of benefits.

pumpkin for cats

Easing Cat Diarrhea with Pumpkin

While peanut butter for cats often leads to diarrhea, pumpkin for cats does the exact opposite: it relieves gastrointestinal issues. The combination of vitamins and minerals found in pumpkin work together to bulk up the cat's stool by absorbing excess water in the digestive tract.

Pumpkin for Constipation

Surprisingly, pumpkin is also effectively used to ease cat constipation. Pumpkin is an excellent source of soluble fiber which promotes healthy movement in the digestive tract. If your feline is suffering from constipation, your veterinarian may recommend an over-the-counter laxative solution. However, these medications can prove to be extremely harsh on your cat's body and cause diarrhea. Pumpkin, on the other hand, is all-natural and works with the digestive tract to gently ease constipation. 

Weight Loss & Management

Unlike the high amount of calories found in peanut butter that can lead to obesity, pumpkin has the exact opposite effect. In fact, pumpkin proves to be incredibly effective at promoting weight loss by keeping your kitty full and satisfied longer. Pumpkin also helps manage weight by being a low-calorie, yet nutritionally dense substitution.

Vitamins and Minerals

Pumpkin is also full of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, essential fatty acids, and iron. While your cat's diet of meat and fish is designed to provide all of the nutrients they need, adding pumpkin treats can give them an extra boost of goodness while satisfying their sweet tooth all at the same time. 

*One Important Pumpkin Detail*

Before we get back to the peanut butter conversation, we want to make sure pet owners know an important detail about purchasing pumpkin for cats. Always make sure to buy canned pumpkin that is all natural and has no additives. This means no added sugar, salt, nothing! Canned pumpkin for cats should contain one ingredient: pumpkin. 

Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter

Many pet owners have both cats and dogs and find themselves wondering about the dietary differences involved. We likely don't have you to convince you that dogs and cats are incredibly different species in more ways than one. The same goes for the ways in which their bodies can tolerate and digest different foods.

In terms of peanut butter for dogs, experts feel that a bit of peanut butter here and there is a perfectly fine addition to your dog's diet. In fact, peanut butter can have some great benefits for your canine, ones it definitely doesn't have for your feline.

can dogs eat peanut butter

Protein for Dogs

For instance, peanut butter is known to be a great source of protein, something that is imperative to have in your dog's diet. Without the necessary amounts of protein, your dog's body won't function at the level that it should. Keeping that in mind, the protein in your dog's diet should never solely come from peanut butter but rather lean meats and fish.

Xylitol and Dogs... A Deadly Combination

Again, we want to stress that xylitol, an ingredient found in many peanut butter brands, is EXTREMELY toxic to dogs. Pet owners must make sure that any peanut butter products they purchase does not contain this deadly ingredient.

Dogs Allergic to Peanuts

Like cats, some dogs may be allergic to peanuts. Unfortunately, the only real way to find out if your dog has a peanut allergy is by letting them have a taste and waiting to see if a reaction occurs. For many pet owners, the possibility of an allergic reaction simply isn't worth the risk.

Peanut Butter for Dogs: A Special Treat, Not a Meal

When it comes to your dog's health and wellbeing, peanut butter should merely be an occasional treat. Peanut butter should never, ever be a meal replacement or even a partial substitute. Just like in cats, too much peanut butter can lead to obesity and associated problems. 

CBD for Cats

Now, back to our feline friends. The concept of peanut butter often arises because cat owners want to treat their furry friends with all the love and goodness in the world. At Honest Paws, we understand this undying desire to give your pet the best life possible. With that said, we want to make sure that cat owners understand that just because something is safe for one animal doesn't mean it is also safe for your feline. However, if you want to choose a product that is not only safe, but beneficial for all parties involved, we recommend CBD treats.

CBD Infused Peanut Butter

Furthermore, when it comes to our dogs, CBD Infused Peanut Butter can safely be given as a fun treat and can quite literally be licked off a spoon.

The main point that we want to make in all of this is that dogs and cats are very different and as a responsible pet owner, you must make sure you're fully aware of what is best for their individual needs.

cbd infused peanut butter

CBD Infused Coconut Oil

Finally, we want to introduce our new CBD Infused Coconut Oil! This coconut oil is safe and effective for both cats and dogs and allows pet parents to use the same product for all of their furry friends. Many pet owners enjoy using coconut oil topically while others use it to make homemade treats. 

Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, we know that your feline (and canine) mean everything to you. As a doting pet parent, you want to make sure they know they are loved and cared for, which sometimes means treating them with something delicious.

Our final thought? When it comes to peanut butter for cats... we say no. There are simply too many potential adverse reactions that far outweigh any positives. We recommend avoiding the creamy treat and opting for something such as pumpkin or a delightful CBD treat.


Jennifer Dempsey, DVM

Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) 

She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives. As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  

Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

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Pumpkin for Cats: Enjoy The Benefits Year Round

Pumpkin for Cats: Enjoy The Benefits Year Round

It's our favorite time of the year. The leaves are changing, the crisp fall air is finally getting cooler, and pumpkin is just about everywhere to be found. From a pumpkin spice latte to a bowl of pumpkin pasta and just about everything in between, it's hard to not reap the benefits of the delicious squash.

What many cat parents may not realize is that pumpkin makes a great addition to their feline's diet as well. In fact, pumpkin (in its natural, pureed form) can be enjoyed all year round and can make an incredible difference for their cat's digestive health.

In this article, we'll cover all things pumpkin and why you may want to pick up a can or two the next time you make a trip to the grocery store. Let's get to it!

pumpkin for cats

Pumpkin for Cats... What's the Hype About?

While many of our readers are likely familiar with the delicious pie filling, you may not realize that pumpkin is so much more than a decadent holiday treat. In fact, pumpkin can provide a variety of benefits for your feline ranging from digestive health to relieving hair balls to promoting a shiny, healthy coat.

What About Pumpkin Seeds?

If you've ever carved a pumpkin you're familiar with the slimy "guts" that have to be removed in the process. Amidst the slime are pumpkin seeds. Some people enjoy roasting the seeds for a tasty snack, while others quickly dispose of the slippery mess. However, you may want to think twice next time as pumpkin seeds are full of antioxidants, vitamins, fatty acids, and minerals. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in lipids, a fat that is beneficial to include in your cat's diet.

Pumpkin: The Basics

Pumpkin is a type of squash plant that is native to North America. It comes in a variety of forms, yet not all should be added to your kitty's diet (More on that in a moment). Let's first discuss how pumpkin is so beneficial.

Dietary fiber is made up of two main types: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Foods that are rich in fiber (such as pumpkin) have both soluble and insoluble fiber components.

What is Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is processed through the colon. Soluble fiber is known to help with weight management as it lowers fat absorption. It also lowers cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar levels, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, and promotes healthy gut bacteria.

Soluble Fiber Foods

Pumpkin, of course, is a great source of soluble fiber but it isn't the only one. Other popular foods that contain soluble fiber include:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Apples
  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Carrots 
  • Broccoli

apples have soluble fiber for cats

What is Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber differs in the fact that it does not dissolve in water. Insoluble fiber remains intact as the food moves through the gastrointestinal tract. Insoluble fiber is known to help the body feel full for longer, as well as lower the risk of numerous diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome (just to name a few). 

Insoluble Fiber Foods

Foods that contain insoluble fiber include:

  • Pumpkin
  • Beans
  • Whole wheat products
  • Green beans
  • Potatoes
  • Cauliflowers
  • Nuts

Benefits of Pumpkin for Cats

Many cat parents find themselves actively searching for all natural, safe remedies to not only cure specific ailments, but also serve as a disease preventative. We likely don't have to tell you that being a pet owner isn't always rainbows and butterflies. Health issues can arise at a moment’s notice and without any warning signs. In these cases, having pumpkin on hand can make a significant difference in no time at all.

Additionally, the use of pumpkin as a means to treat and prevent disease is certainly not a new trend that has recently been discovered. In fact, Native Americans used pumpkin to promote healing and eliminate intestinal worms. However, with the recent move towards all natural methods of easing our pets' ailments, the conversation surrounding pumpkin is coming up more and more often (and we are thrilled about it). Let's look at all of the ways pumpkin can benefit your feline.

Pumpkin for a Constipated Cat

Canned pumpkin can make a world of difference for a cat suffering from constipation. As we previously mentioned, pumpkin is an excellent source of soluble fiber, which helps to naturally get things moving in the digestive tract. Many over-the-counter laxatives will do the job, but are often times too harsh on the cat's stomach and can result in diarrhea, especially if you give too much. When easing an ailment, the last thing you want to do is cure one issue only to create another. Canned pumpkin for cats won't cause diarrhea but will effectively get your cat's system back on track.

Experts recommend adding 1 tablespoon of pumpkin to your cat's normal food in order to ease constipation. Additionally, we want to mention that constipation and dehydration often go hand in hand. It is essential to always make sure your feline has fresh water available.

Pumpkin for Cat Diarrhea

Interestingly enough, pumpkin for cats also treats diarrhea. Pumpkin is packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as potassium and iron. The combination of vitamins and minerals, along with the substantial amount of soluble fiber, help to add bulk to the cat's stool by absorbing excess water in the digestive tract.

Of course, all cats are different so you'll want to get an exact recommendation from your veterinarian once you discuss your cat's individual problem and how long it has been going on. With that said, experts suggest adding 1 teaspoon of pumpkin to your cat's food in order to help alleviate their diarrhea.

Another great thing about pumpkin is how quickly it begins working. Many cat owners report that they saw a difference in only a couple of hours.

Diarrhea... A Sign of Something More?

It is important for cat owners to recognize that while pumpkin is an effective and safe way to ease their cat's diarrhea, it is not a "cure," especially if there is a more serious issue involved. Additionally, if diarrhea persists after pumpkin is added, a vet appointment will be necessary. Diarrhea can quickly lead to rapid weight loss and dehydration. It is imperative that pet owners act quickly to ensure that diarrhea doesn't lead to additional problems. Furthermore, diarrhea can be a symptom of other conditions such as intestinal parasites, bacterial or viral infections, or even certain gastrointestinal cancers. Getting to the root of what is causing your cat to experience diarrhea and irregular bowel movements is paramount.

Upset Stomach? Try Canned Pumpkin

Additionally, canned pumpkin for cats is a great way to prevent an upset stomach when switching foods. Pet parents may not realize that feeding one type of cat food over an extended period of time can lead to the development of food allergies. Therefore, changing up their food from time to time is very important but can also have some very unpleasant consequences. In these cases, adding pumpkin to your cat's new food can make a world of a difference for their digestive tract (and for your carpet). Additionally, when switching food it is crucial that you slowly make the change. Incorporate small amounts of their existing food with the new food over a span of 1-2 weeks until their existing food is solely the new food. This will help to prevent gastrointestinal upset.

The fiber content of pumpkin may also help relieve hairballs in cats by moving them through their digestive tract.

Similar to diarrhea, an upset stomach is what veterinarians consider to be a "non-specific symptom." In other words, gastrointestinal upset is a symptom of countless other conditions, ranging from mild to severe. Further testing will likely be necessary to make sure that there is not a more serious issue that needs to be addressed. 

canned pumpkin for cats

Weight Loss & Weight Management

We can't deny the fact that fat cats can be pretty adorable. However, obesity and weight issues are directly correlated with severe health conditions that should be avoided at all cost. Pumpkin is an effective way to aid in weight loss and support weight management. The insoluble fiber in pumpkin helps cats feel full and satisfied for longer periods of time, thus preventing overeating. Additionally, in order to promote weight loss, experts recommend substituting a portion of your cat's normal food with pumpkin since pumpkin is a low calorie yet highly nutritional food source.

Vitamins & Nutritional Benefits of Pumpkin

As we previously mentioned, pumpkin is full of powerful vitamins and incredible nutritional benefits. Let's take a look at how they are able to help your feline feel their best.

Vitamin A

Canned pumpkin for cats is loaded with vitamin A which help promote healthy eyes and vision.


Additionally, pumpkin is full of beta-carotene, an antioxidant (responsible for neutralizing free radicals in the body), which helps slow the aging process and may protect against certain types of cancer.

Vitamin C

Just like people, cats can catch a cold when their immune system isn't its strongest. Vitamin C is a great way to boost immune health. Additionally, vitamin C is also an antioxidant that fights molecules than can trigger inflammation. It also helps protect joints in aging animals, as it prevents the breakdown of cartilage.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E, a fat-soluble nutrient found in pumpkin, is also a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells against free-radical damage.

Essential Fatty Acids

Finally, pumpkin is full of essential fatty acids which are key players in promoting healthy skin and a silky, beautiful coat. If your cat is suffering from environmental allergies causing their skin to be itchy and irritated, try pumpkin! The fatty acids are sure to help.

Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Remarkably, the benefits of pumpkin don't stop there. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with their own list of nutritional advantages that cats can profit from.

A Natural Dewormer

Interestingly enough, pumpkin seeds can serve as a natural deworming agent, especially for tapeworms. The seeds have been used to combat intestinal worms dating back to when the Native Americans began using the squash. The amino acid called cucurbitacin in pumpkin seeds, paralyze the worms adhered to the intestinal wall, making them detach to be excreted in the feces. 

More on Worms 

We want to briefly discuss a bit more information when it comes to intestinal parasites. Unfortunately, worms can be quite common in both cats and dogs, so it's important to know some common signs that your feline may have them. Keep in mind, some pets may not exhibit any stool changes with worms, so it is important to have a fecal checked at least one a year with your pet’s annual exam.  

Clinical signs of intestinal parasites include:

  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Mucus in or covering the stool
  • Rice looking matter in stool

pumpkin for cats helps worms in cats

Worms and other intestinal parasites are typically contracted through ingesting feces directly or in contaminated soil or water. Ingesting fleas or other secondary hosts (including mice or lizards) are also the culprit with some parasites. Be sure that your cat stays far away from any unknown water source and always has fresh, clean drinking water available. 

Furthermore, if you believe that your cat may have worms, please do not solely rely on pumpkin seeds to get rid of them. Pumpkin seeds may protect the pet from intestinal parasites but the research has been mixed its effectiveness as a dewormer. Some intestinal parasites can cause an extreme infestation and lead to horrific problems in the digestive tract. It's important that a veterinarian is involved with the treatment process, even if you chose a natural form of treatment.

Rich in Antioxidants

Pumpkin seeds are also exceptionally rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties that promote cardiovascular health and overall wellness.

What Pumpkin is Best?

When it comes to pumpkin, not all forms are safe for your feline. When purchasing pumpkin, only buy plain, canned pumpkin. Do NOT purchase pumpkin pie filling or pumpkin that contains any additives, including added salt or sugar. These additives can have the exact opposite effect than what we have already described. Also, make sure that the canned pumpkin does not contain xylitol, a sugar substitute which can be extremely toxic for cats and dogs.

Additionally, while we typically promote all things fresh, we actually recommend canned pumpkin over fresh pumpkin. Canned pumpkin contains a higher percentage of fiber and a higher amount of nutrients than fresh pumpkin (surprising, we know).

Finally, once opened, canned pumpkin tends to spoil within a week unless kept in an air-tight container. If you are uncertain whether or not the pumpkin is still fresh, simply give it a whiff. You'll be able to tell straight away if you should toss the remainder of the can.

How Much Pumpkin?

At this point, you may be sold on the idea of pumpkin for cats and wondering how to implement it into your feline's diet. When adding pumpkin to your cat's food, we recommend starting off with 1-4 teaspoons. We always believe in going slowly when introducing a new supplement, even though pumpkin is very safe for your kitty.

Additionally, cat parents can look for canned food that already has pumpkin in it. We recommend looking into brands like Weruva or Applaws.

Also, pet owners can freeze small portions of canned pumped for a nice, refreshing treat on a hot day. Your feline will have no idea that their new treat is actually boosting their overall health and wellbeing.

How Many Pumpkin Seeds

When treating intestinal parasites, experts recommend grinding up pumpkin seeds using a food processor. Once the seeds are in a ground-up, powder form, pet owners can add approximately 1 teaspoon to their cat's food.

When in Doubt, Ask Your Vet!

Again, all cats are different and will likely require a different amount of pumpkin and pumpkin seeds in order to effectively treat and prevent their specific ailments. As always, we always recommend consulting with your holistic veterinarian regarding the amount of pumpkin that best suits your feline.

pumpkin seeds for cats

Pumpkin for Dogs

Additionally, we want to briefly mention the incredible benefits of pumpkin for dogs (spoiler alert... they are the same benefits that pumpkin has for your cat)!

When it comes to some nutritional supplements, pet owners must be careful as some may have different effects on dogs and cats. However, pumpkin has proven to be safe and effective for both of our four-legged companions! Just make sure to purchase plain canned pumpkin and sit back and watch your pets' digestive systems improve.

Pumpkin for Cats: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your feline friend. We don't have to tell you that gastrointestinal issues are not ideal and can be the very opposite of what you consider to be a walk in the park. Luckily, there are natural ways to not only cure but prevent digestive complications. Clearly, one of our favorites is canned pumpkin.  

Additionally, even if your feline isn't suffering from stomach upset, consider switching things up by adding a bit of pumpkin to their diet. It can truly prove to be a delicious, healthy treat enjoyed by all!

The bottom line? Give pumpkin a try this fall... or any time for that matter! You won't regret it.


Jennifer Dempsey, DVM

Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) 

She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives. As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  

Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

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Glucosamine for Dogs: The Complete Guide

Glucosamine for Dogs: The Complete Guide

Watching your beloved four-legged companion get older can be one of the hardest things that a pet owner will experience. Activities that were once simple are now a challenge. Even something as mundane as laying down or getting into bed can seem impossibly difficult for a dog suffering from arthritis or joint pain. As a pet parent, you will do whatever it takes to keep your fur baby as pain-free as possible, but where do you start? Are painkillers worth the potential adverse reactions? Is there another way? What about preventative measures?

In this article, we'll cover all there is to know about a popular joint supplement known as glucosamine and the ways that it can help your aging dog. We will also discuss alternative options to conventional pain medications and ways to prevent premature joint damage. While we (unfortunately) can't stop the circle of life, there are ways to make sure that our dogs are living long healthy lives, free of joint pain. Let's get started!

glucosamine for dogs

What is Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound made of a sugar (glucose) and an amino acid (glutamine). The compound promotes the growth and repair of cartilage and synovial fluid that protect the joints. The dog's body already produces glucosamine naturally. However, increasing glucosamine levels by means of a supplement can help improve overall joint health as well as serve as a preventive and slow progression of arthritis.

Due to the fact that glucosamine is a natural compound, it is referred to as a nutraceutical, differing it from a pharmaceutical. In other words, you are able to purchase glucosamine for dogs without a prescription. Many pet parents prefer nutraceuticals as they are typically associated with significantly fewer potential adverse reactions. 

Simply put, glucosamine supplements aim to slow the progression of the disease, improve mechanical joint function, and stimulate the body’s ability to repair the joints.

Chondroitin for Dogs

Chondroitin is a naturally occurring compound that is a key component of cartilage. It is often paired up with glucosamine in supplement form as a means to protect the cartilage and promote overall joint health. When choosing a glucosamine supplement, you'll want to make sure it also contains chondroitin. More on that in a minute!

Where Does Glucosamine Come From

Glucosamine supplements are typically extracted from crab, lobster, or shrimp shells. However, glucosamine is also found naturally in many raw meats. 

Glucosamine Side Effects

Because glucosamine is a nutraceutical, the side effects are considered minimal and generally only limited to:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Allergic reactions (particularly shellfish allergies)
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive thirst and urination

With that being said, all dogs are different. It is important to always closely monitor your fur baby whenever introducing a new supplement into their diet, regardless of whether it is all natural. When it comes to Fido, it is always better to be safe than sorry. 

What is Arthritis in Dogs 

Glucosamine is commonly recommended for dogs suffering from arthritis. It is imperative that dog owners know all that they can about the disease in order to recognize early symptoms and begin treatment that will help slow the progression. Arthritis is a progressive disease that is characterized by joint inflammation. However, if you know anything about arthritis you know that it is much more than merely swollen, achy inflamed joints. Even with treatment, arthritis can still lead to total loss of joint mobility, stiffness, and lameness. The disease can cause your dog a severe amount of distress and pain.

What Causes Arthritis in Dogs 

It is possible for an acute event such as an injury, an infection, or an underlying condition, such as a joint deformity or obesity, to lead to the development of premature arthritis. However, this progressive disease is typically associated with aging due to a lifetime of increased stress on the joints and surrounding ligaments. Degenerative arthritis is also referred to as osteoarthritis.

Dog joints are built the same way as human joints. A thin layer of cartilage covers the ends of each bone and acts as a shock absorber for the bones as they move. It also serves to protect each bone from the other. A liquid called synovial fluid surrounds the bone and cartilage and acts as a lubricant, making joint movement pain-free.

Arthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage and synovial fluid, and makes simple movements stiff and uncomfortable. Furthermore, the breakdown of the cartilage causes bone-on-bone rubbing which can lead to bony outgrowths (osteophytes or bone spurs) to develop on the bone ends. As you can imagine, this makes movements even more painful.

glucosamine for dogs can help arthritis in dogs

Glucosamine for Hip Dysplasia

Glucosamine is also commonly recommended to help treat a common orthopedic disease known as hip dysplasia. It is a deformity of the hip that occurs in growing animals and results in laxity of the joint. The joint laxity leads to osteoarthritis due to the loss of cartilage, development of scar tissue and osteophytes.  Hip dysplasia can lead to immobility and cause your dog an exorbitant amount of pain when attempting simple activities. Hip dysplasia is often found in large breed dogs but can affect dogs of all sizes.

Conventional Arthritis Medication vs Glucosamine 

If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with arthritis, be it caused by hip dysplasia or aging, they will typically prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed to help reduce inflammation and decrease any pain that your dog is in. Pain relief is something that all pet owners typically want to jump on ASAP. However, NSAIDs can have many side effects and need to be used cautiously in dogs with liver and kidney disease

Conversely, the side effects associated with glucosamine are typically very minimal and tend to subside as your dog's body adjusts to the supplement.

With that being said, there are cases of arthritis and other joint and bone diseases where conventional pain medication may be mandatory. We encourage our readers to talk to their veterinarian about glucosamine and all their treatment options prior to making a decision on pain medications. There are other ways to treat many diseases that do not involve potentially irreversible adverse reactions.

how does glucosamine for dogs help?

Signs Your Dog Needs Glucosamine

Although arthritis in dogs is common, early detection is often difficult. It is important for dog owners to be able to recognize the warning signs of the disease in order to prevent it from quickly progressing.

Pet owners should be on the lookout for the following signs of early-stage arthritis:

  • Stiffness
  • Lethargy
  • Increased sleep
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Disinterest in going on walks
  • Slow or reluctant to stand
  • Decreased mobility, (i.e can no longer jump onto the bed)
  • Abnormal movements
  • Intermittent lameness, particularly if arthritis is affecting one specific joint
  • Visible joint deformities or swollen joints
  • Visible inflammation
  • Pain or aggression when joints are touched
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Irritability

Additional Factors to Consider

Pain and stiffness typically increase when waking up or when the dog has been laying down for an extended period of time. Cold weather is also known to cause an increase in discomfort for dogs suffering from joint pain. Additionally, several symptoms of arthritis can also be indications for other disease processes. It is important to discuss the potential of arthritis with your vet so that they are able to make an accurate diagnosis and begin an appropriate treatment plan.

sick dog

Best Glucosamine For Dogs

With the (fairly) recent studies proving just how powerful and effective glucosamine can be, many pet stores are stocking their shelves with the dietary supplement. In fact, you'll easily be able to find glucosamine in kibble form, oral supplements, injectable supplements, as well as raw meats. So how can you ensure that you're purchasing the best supplement possible?

Glucosamine in Kibble

As far as kibble is considered, the glucosamine levels are likely not high enough to make a significant difference in your dog's life. Many kibble brands have been adding glucosamine to their senior lines of dog food. However, studies show that, on average, dogs need a daily intake of 20-25 mg of glucosamine per pound of bodyweight. If you look at the amount of glucosamine in kibble (even kibble that advertises high levels of glucosamine), you'll quickly find that your dog isn't eating nearly enough to make a difference as far as glucosamine intake is concerned. With that being said, your veterinarian may recommend a formulated kibble for extra support, but often in conjunction with another glucosamine supplement.

glucosamine for dogs in kibble

Oral & Injectable Supplements 

The most popular kind of glucosamine comes in the form of oral supplements. The supplements can be chewable tablets, powders, or liquids.

Additionally, some pet owners chose injectable form of glucosamine for dogs. These fast acting supplements deliver the glucosamine directly to the suffering joints and aid in quick relief. Your vet may prescribe the popular brand, Adequan. The active ingredient in this medication is polysulfated glycosaminoglycan. It helps with joint lubrication, protects the joints from further degradation and helps repair damaged cartilage.  Pet owners can administer the injectable supplement twice weekly for up to four weeks.  

Glucosamine in Raw Food Diets 

Finally, as a naturally occurring substance, glucosamine is found in many raw meats. Your vet may recommend switching to a raw food diet or incorporating a variety of raw meats into your dog's diet.

The following meats are known to have high levels of glucosamine:

  • Trachea
  • Chicken feet
  • Oxtails
  • Pig tails
  • Beef knuckle bones
  • Shellfish shells
  • Bone broth
  • Green-lipped mussel

How to Choose a Glucosamine Supplement 

If your beloved four-legged friend is diagnosed with arthritis, a glucosamine supplement will be apart of their treatment plan. Yet, with so many options available, how do you choose the appropriate one? Ultimately, your veterinarian will be able to guide the treatment plan in order to cater to your dog's individual needs. However, it is important to have a good understanding of the available options.

Chewable Tablets 

Your veterinarian will likely recommend a chewable tablet containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM. The tablet will be veterinary grade and potent enough to make a significant difference in your dog's life. Most pet owners report that their dog had no qualms with the taste of the chew, however, we know first hand that some dogs are picky eaters. If this is the case, we recommend using something to coat the tablet such as peanut butter for dogs.

Raw Food Diet 

In addition to an oral supplement, we want to stress the power of switching to a raw food diet. Raw food is one of the best things that pet parents can do for an arthritic dog. These specialized diets are also known for their high levels of nutrients and contain fewer grains and preservatives, making them a healthy alternative for all dogs and an effective way to promote weight loss and reduce inflammation.

With that being said, switching to an all raw food diet can be a huge commitment and incredibly daunting for a pet owner. Trust us, we understand how nerve-racking it can be to think about preparing a raw meal twice a day. However, raw food doesn't necessarily have to be all or nothing. In fact, simply implementing a raw food snacks or a small raw food supplement on top of your dog's kibble can prove to have impressive results.

raw dog food contains glucosamine for dogs

Synthetic Source of Glucosamine

When choosing a synthetic source of glucosamine for your furry companion, you will have the option between an over-the-counter supplement or an injectable supplement. It is no secret that injectable supplements are fast acting and the most effective. However, injectable supplements will prove to be very expensive over time and may not be the right choice for everyone's lifestyle.

With that being said, if you choose to purchase an over-the-counter glucosamine supplement, there are a few things to be aware of.

Reputable Source

First, it is important for dog owners to know that pet supplements (and pet treats for that matter) are not regulated as dog food is. For this reason, it is imperative that you purchase any and all supplements from reputable companies. It is entirely possible that a product may be branded as a glucosamine supplement, yet only contain small amounts that will not be effective. Do your homework and always ask for a Certificate of Analysis whenever possible.

Glucosamine Sulfate

Next, experts recommend choosing glucosamine sulfate over glucosamine hydrochloride. Studies have shown that glucosamine sulfate is often more effective. When it comes to natural relief of your pup’s ailments, you want to make sure you are buying a product that will deliver effective results.

Glucosamine with Chondroitin

Additionally, it is important to purchase a joint supplement that not only contains the appropriate levels of glucosamine but one that also contains chondroitin. Chondroitin is a naturally occurring substance that aids to repair cartilage damage and works hand in hand with glucosamine to promote overall joint health.

Talk to Your Vet

Finally, when choosing an over-the-counter supplement it is still important to seek the guidance of your vet, even though it is not a prescription. You will have the option of a chewable tablet, a powder, or a liquid and you want to make sure that you are purchasing exactly what your dog needs.

Glucosamine Dosage For Dogs

glucosamine dosage for dogs

As we previously mentioned, studies show that most dogs need a daily dose of approximately 500 mg of glucosamine per 25 pounds of body weight. For this reason, kibble alone will almost never be enough to make a substantial difference in your dog's life. That's where dietary supplements come into play.

Additionally, a great feature of glucosamine comes from the fact that it is a naturally occurring substance. As with many naturally occurring substances that are made into supplements, a glucosamine overdose or toxicity is nearly impossible. However, it is still important to follow your vet's recommendations to ensure that your dog is receiving enough glucosamine as well as to make sure they aren't receiving too much which may lead to an upset stomach.

Finally, it is common for your vet to recommend a trial period when introducing glucosamine into your dog's diet. The trial period is typically around three months and will be able to show your veterinarian how your dog is responding to the new dietary addition.

Should I Give My Dog Glucosamine?

At the end of the day, having an open conversation with your veterinarian is one of the best things you can do as a pet parent. Based on your dog's breed, age, weight, and overall health, your vet will be able to determine their potential for joint issues and whether or not a glucosamine supplement is something worth considering.

CBD for Dogs

If you love staying up to date on the latest and greatest in holistic wellness, you've likely heard of CBD. Derived from the hemp plant, CBD is making substantial headway in the ways that pet owners are able to medicate dogs and cats. CBD presents a safe way to make sure our animals are living their best lives possible.

CBD Joint Support

If your pup isn't as spritely as they used to be, you may want to consider trying the Joint Support CBD Soft Chews. In addition to 250 mg of a premium CBD blend, the poultry-flavored soft chews also include lab-quality glucosamine (500mg), chondroitin, and boswellia.

Although not a cure, the soft chews are ideal for dogs that experience joint stiffness associated with normal, daily activity.

Recommended Dosage:

Dogs from:

  •  5-25lbs: 1/2 chew daily
  • 26-50lbs: 1 chew daily
  • 51-75: 2 chews daily
  • Over 75lbs: 3 chews daily

Additional Information 

* Soft chews per container: 30

* Each soft chew contains 8.3 mg of CBD

* THC-Free

Prevention is Key

As with all diseases and ailments, prevention is truly everything. While we certainly can't prevent the circle of life and the aging process, as pet owners, we do have control over other aspects of our dogs' lives. Understanding breed-associated health risks is paramount in the early detection of many diseases. For instance, time and time again studies have shown that large breed dogs are highly prone to hip dysplasia.

Additionally, talk to your vet regarding glucosamine and joint support. There are ways to slow down any joint degeneration, help rebuild any damage that has been done, and prevent additional joint issues from rapidly developing.

Glucosamine for Dogs: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your dog. Recognizing that they are in pain can be incredibly difficult for a doting pet parent. However, understanding that there is a problem is a crucial first step in treating it. Glucosamine supplements for dogs are an effective, safe, and proactive way to help naturally ease your dog's joint pain and help restore mobility. We encourage our readers to talk to their vet about implementing a glucosamine supplement into their dog's diet.

Furthermore, when paired with additional, all-natural supplements such as CBD oil or turmeric, glucosamine can help to make a world of difference in your fur baby's life. All things said and done, we truly hope your pup feels better soon.



Jennifer Dempsey, DVM

Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) 

She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives. As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  

Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

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How To Trim Dog Nails: A Step-By-Step Guide

How To Trim Dog Nails: A Step-By-Step Guide

We all know that nail trimming is an essential part of a trip to the groomer. A dog with long nails can be especially painful for a dog owner's legs... and their furniture. However, maintaining nail health is extremely important for many reasons that pet parents may not be aware of. In fact, if your dog's nails are not properly maintained, it can warrant a scary trip to the vet. In this article, we will cover the importance of keeping up with your dog's nails and exactly how you can help from the comfort of your home. Let's get started!

how to trim dog nails

Dog Nail Trimming: Why It's So Important

First and foremost, no doting pet owner can bear the idea of their beloved companion being in pain. It's a known fact that dogs are notorious for hiding when they are in pain, making it difficult for an owner to recognize it and take action. The truth is, long, overgrown nails can cause a substantial amount of agony and distress, even if your dog isn't actively acting like it is affecting them.

Experts make the comparison of having a hangnail or long nails that bend. We likely don't have to tell you how painful that is. It's a similar feeling for dogs. When a dog has long nails, even walking can cause a significant amount of uncomfortable pressure on toes, thus resulting in an incredibly sore and tender nail bed. As you can imagine, walking on hard surfaces such as the sidewalk or pavement only adds to the amount of pressure and, in turn, stress on the foot. Furthermore, in severe cases, the constant pressure and distress can lead to inflammation, thus causing arthritis of the foot. Long nails can also lead to issues with posture alignment and nerve damage.

Finally, dogs who spend a fair amount of time outdoors on gravel or paved surfaces often require less nail maintenance as the natural elements help to keep their nails at a healthy length. However, dogs that are primarily indoors and elderly dogs who have limited mobility will require regular nail trims in order to make sure additional associated issues don't arise.

Paw Pad & Dewclaw Health: The Painful Reality

Additionally, nails that are overgrown and not managed appropriately can result in the nail curling and growing into the paw pad. Not only is this incredibly painful, but if the nails cause the paw pad to tear or split, an infection can quickly develop. The dewclaw (or thumbnail) is more prone to overgrowth since they don’t get worn down walking or may be forgotten during nail trimming. Severe cases of nail overgrowth, particularly when an infection occurs, will have to be medically treated by a veterinarian.

Another concern with long nails is the potential for breakage and splintering if they get caught on something. This is very painful and also necessitates a trip to the veterinarian. Your pet may need to be sedated to trim the nail back and require pain medications and antibiotics.  

By now, you're likely already convinced that nail health is something that cannot be overlooked. After all, a simple nail trim can make a huge difference in your dog's day to day life. The best news? It's a lot easier to do than you may think.

Dog Nail Clippers: What To Look For

So, where should you begin in terms of clipping dog nails? Ensuring that you have the best nail clippers that fit your dog's needs and your comfort level is key. The most common type is the “scissor” style nail trimmers. Many pet owners agree that these are the easiest form of clippers available. However, there are a few other tips that you will want to be aware of. 

  1. "Scissor" nail trimmers may be the easiest, but not the most efficient for your specific dog.
  2. Nail clippers designed for small dog breeds are the best for controlling the length of the nail and how short you end up cutting them. (Go slowly!)
  3. Nail clippers designed for large dogs should strictly be used for large breeds only.
  4. Instead of continuing to cut in order to even out edges, use a nail file. This will help get rid of any hangnails, jagged edges, and help prevent cutting too much.
  5. Keep your trimmers sharp! Dull scissor trimmers can result in having to use too much pressure to cut the nail and result in pain for Fido.
  6. If you decide to use an electric nail grinder, make sure that your tools are charged. (More on nail grinders in a minute)
  7. Additionally, if you choose to use a nail grinder, make sure that the bits and tips are replaced regularly.

    best dog nail clippers

    How to Trim Dog Nails: Step-By-Step Instructions

    Now that you've found your perfect nail trimmer, let's cover how exactly to maintain your dog's nails at home.

    1. Preparation is Paramount!

    First, be prepared. It is essential that you know exactly how your tools work, this includes where and how the blade slides and moves. Without this knowledge, you won't be able to fully ensure that you are cutting the nail properly and in the correct place. Additionally, if you have any questions or uncertainties with the tool, be sure to look up the answers prior to using the product on your dog's nails. Cutting nails is something that should never be a 'learn as you go' task.

    Prepare Fido

    Furthermore, it is extremely important to allow your dog to investigate the tool prior to using it. Many dogs are sensitive when it comes to their feet being touched. As you can imagine, grabbing your dog's foot and then bringing a foreign object into their proximity is a recipe for disaster.

    It’s also important to touch your dog’s feet often to get them used to having them held and manipulated. This is especially vital for young puppies in order to assure less stressful nail trimming in the future.  

    2. Treats are Helpful

    Next, we recommend having treats on hand. Nail trimming is typically not a task that dogs or their owners look forward to. Distracting your dog with treats can help make the process safe and quick. Additionally, as much as you likely want to get it all over with as soon as possible, it is important to give your dog a break if they need it. Nail trimming should be a fairly regular event. The last thing you want is to have your dog running away at the sight of the clippers.

    cbd dog treats

    3. Firm Grip

    The next step in nail trimming is having a firm grip on their paw and pushing back any hair that is in the way of the nail. You'll need to make sure that you are able to see exactly where you will be cutting. It is also important to restrain your pet’s body if they are trying to wiggle or move. It is often easier to have another person hold the pet, so you can focus on holding the paw and trimming the nails. 

    It is important for pet owners to realize that if the dog's nails are overgrown, their paw will likely be sore and tender. Stay alert and aware of your dog's behavior when you take their paw in your hand. If they yelp, be more gentle. However, your grip should be firm enough that their paw does not accidentally slip one direction or the other during the cutting process.

    4. Dogs Nails Are Different Than Our Nails

    Next, it is necessary for dog owners to recognize that our nails are very different from our dog's nails and must be cut accordingly. Most importantly, you should never put the dog’s entire nail in the clipper or cut the entire nail. The nail should be cut from underneath and at a 45-degree angle.

    Now, carefully place the opening of the nail clippers over the end of the white nail. It is imperative that you only cut in the white nail area. Again, if you have any questions about this, it is crucial that you get an accurate answer before cutting the dog's nails. You can have your veterinarian demonstrate how to cut nails or can find online videos tutorials.  Cutting past the white nail area means that you are cutting in the pink area of the nail (also known as the “quick”). The pink area of the nail is where blood vessels are located. Cutting into this area will be incredibly painful and can cause a substantial amount of bleeding. Trust us, you'll want to avoid this at all costs. 

    5. Making a Clean Cut

    Finally, hold the paw steady and make a clean, smooth cut by gently squeezing on the handle of the nail trimmer. It is important to have an educated idea of how tightly you will need to squeeze in order to get a clean-cut, but not inadvertently harm your pup's tender paw.

    Once you make the cut you may notice a jagged edge that didn't fully come off with the scissors. If this is the case, simply use a nail file to shave down the remaining portion. Avoid pulling it off with your fingers as this can cause tearing or harm to the nail. Additionally, if your dog is active, this portion will likely fall off on its own.

    how to trim dog nails

    Nail Trimming: How Often?

    The frequency of the nail trimming will ultimately depend on how active the dog is and how much their nails get naturally manicured by the pavement or sidewalk. With that being said, most pet parents end up trimming their dog's nails every three to six weeks.

    Dog Nail Grinder

    Now, we completely understand that the idea of cutting your dog's nails may be a bit nerve-racking at first. If this is the case, you may want to consider purchasing a nail grinder.

    A nail grinder is a safer and slower tool that pet parents can utilize to trim long nails. The major advantage to using a nail grinder is that it avoids the possibility of accidentally cutting the  “quick” of the nail. The major disadvantage to using a nail grinder is that many dogs don't like the sound or sensation. Additionally, using a nail grinder can also take longer and cause the dog to become impatient and squirm. Ultimately, it is the choice of the pet owner, but it's nice to know that there are options in the matter.

    The Best Dog Nail Grinder: What To Look For

    If you decide that you want to start out with a nail grinder instead of nail scissors, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

    1. Power & Speed Features

    First, you want to make sure that the nail grinder you choose has different speed and power options. A grinder that operates too slowly will not be able to trim the nails effectively or completely. On the other hand, having a nail grinder that is too powerful can scare your pup. A grinder that has options is key.

    2. Noise

    Next, avoid choosing a grinder that has a loud or high-pitched sound. In general, nail grinders are typically pretty noisy. Therefore, avoiding any excess commotion is essential in keeping your dog calm and comfortable.

    3. Easy to Use

    Finally, we've covered that cutting your dog's nails in any capacity can be a bit of a hassle at first. Therefore, we encourage our readers to make sure they take an extra few steps in making the process easier on themselves. For instance, many dog nail grinders include cords that plug into the wall. However, there are also cordless options available that will add to the flexibility component and allow you to easily file around your dog’s nails.

    Precautions of Dog Nail Trimming  

    There are a few important precautions that pet owners should be aware of before cutting their dog's nails.

    The "Quick"

    First, as we previously mentioned, the "quick" is the living part of the nail. It is the area of the nail that contains blood vessels and nerve endings. Inadvertently cutting the quick will often result in a bleeding toenail and a substantial amount of pain.

    Dark Nails 

    Additionally, the color of your dog will also affect the color of their nails, which can increase the difficulty of determining where the "white nail" ends. For instance, many black and dark brown dogs will have black nails. Black dog nails can prove to be incredibly tricky and often result in the owner accidentally cutting the nail too short.

    Nail Shape 

    Finally, pet owners can ensure that they are cutting the nails appropriately simply by paying attention to the shape of the nail. The underside of the nail should form a triangular area. Above all, go slowly. You can always cut more of the nail, but there is no going back if too much is cut off.

    how to trim dog nails precautions

    What to Do if You Cut Nails Too Short

    The main thing that most pet owners fear when cutting their dog's nails is what happens if you cut too much. First, we urge our readers to really try to avoid this. Always cut the minimum off and then determine if you need to cut more. However, we know that accidents happen. Here's what to have on hand in case you cut your dog's nails too short.

    1. Styptic Powder

    Professional groomers and veterinarians commonly use a substance called styptic powder to help stop bleeding from nails, minor cuts, and scratches. Styptic powder not only stops bleeding but also serves as an antiseptic, helping to prevent infections and making it safe to use. Additionally, some styptic powders may contain an ingredient called benzocaine which serves as an anesthetic and helps to reduce pain. (Again, cutting into the "quick" will not only cause bleeding, but also a significant amount of pain) Pet owners can use their fingers, a cotton ball or q-tip to apply the styptic powder to their dog's paw pad and toenail in order to help stop the bleeding as well as reduce the immediate pain.

    2. Styptic Pencil

    Additionally, styptic pencils are often used to apply the exact amount of powder to the dog's nail, cut, or scratch. While styptic pencils may prove to be an easier method of applying the powder, we want to warn our readers that the pencils may cause an initial stinging sensation. The main ingredient in the pencil is anhydrous aluminum sulfate, which constricts the blood vessels to stop the bleeding. Keeping that in mind, styptic pencils may not be your best bet if your dog is already nervous about having their nails cut.

    styptic pencil

    3. Bar of Soap

    If you do not have styptic powder in your home, you can use a fragrance-free bar of soap. Simply hold the bar against the toenail for a few minutes and allow the blood to clot.

    4. Cornstarch

    Speaking of things you likely have in your home, cornstarch is also an effective way to stop toenail bleeding if you cut the nail too short. Pet owners can sprinkle cornstarch on a cotton ball or paper towel and hold it against the end of the nail for a few minutes. The cornstarch and pressure will allow the blood to clot and cause the bleeding to stop. Flour and baking soda can also be used as a clotting agent. 

    5. Band-aid

    Finally, if you have nothing else on hand you can use a band-aid or bandage material to help control the bleeding. However, please know that this is merely a temporary solution. It  stops the bleeding by applying pressure.  If the bleeding continues it will be necessary to purchase one of the aforementioned tools in order to clot the blood. In severe cases, veterinary treatment may be necessary.

    CBD Treats: A Great Addition for Nail Trimming

    In more cases than not, the first handful of times you trim your dog's nails won't be easy. Even the sweetest, most easy-going dogs have been known to nip or show signs of aggression during this new, monthly activity. Pet parents may find themselves wondering what they can do in order to make the task easier for all parties involved. Luckily, we have a solution. We recommend our Calming CBD dog treats. The peanut butter flavored treats are ideal for pups that get nervous in new, unknown situations. The treats are made with 100% Pure Full Spectrum CBD Oil and contain only the best, all-natural ingredients.

    Recommended Dosage:

    • Dogs under 10lbs: 1treat daily (5 mg)
    • 10-25lbs: 2 treats daily (10 mg)
    • 26-50lbs: 3 treats daily (15 mg)
    • Over 50lbs: 4 treats daily (20 mg)

    * Approximately 20 treats per bag

    * THC-Free

    How to Trim Dogs Nails: The Bottom Line

    happy healthy dog with trimmed nails

    At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your four-legged companion and you'll go to great lengths in order to ensure that Fido is happy and healthy. With that being said, so many pet owners don't fully understand the importance of something as seemingly simple as nail maintenance. We hope this article helped shed light on the often overlooked topic of nail trimming. It's a task that all pet owners should implement into their dog's routine. If you do not feel comfortable trimming them at home, you can always bring them to your local groomer or veterinary office to have them done professionally. 

    Perhaps the most important thing that a pet parent can do is stay alert. Knowing your dog's "normal" behavior is the first step in being able to recognize when something is off. Take note of whether your dog is shifting their weight in an effort to relieve pressure in the paw pads. Make sure to always pay close attention to their thumbnails (the dewclaws) as they tend to grow faster. And always, always, ask questions when you have them. They can truly make a world of difference for (wo)man's best friend.


    Jennifer Dempsey, DVM

    Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) 

    She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives. As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  

    Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

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    Dog Seizures: A Guide To Helping Your Pup

    Dog Seizures: A Guide To Helping Your Pup

    There are few things more heartbreaking than a dog owner witnessing their beloved furry companion have a seizure. It can leave you feeling helpless and terrified. What can you do? How can you comfort your pup during this time of distress? The good news is, while seizures are scary, they can be managed and even reduced. Furthermore, there are a number of things you can do as a pet parent to make sure that your epileptic dog stays safe while experiencing a seizure.

    dog seizure

    What is a Seizure 

    Studies show that up to 5% of all dogs suffer from seizures. In fact, seizures are one of the most common neurological conditions diagnosed in dogs. A seizure is a temporary, involuntary disturbance of normal cognitive brain function. They may also be referred to as fits or convulsions. Uncontrollable muscle actions typically accompany seizures.  A dog who experiences seizures will often have them during times of changing brain activity (i.e. when they feel excited, during feeding, etc). 

    Seizure Definition 

    The medical definition of seizure is uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. This electrical activity may produce a physical convulsion, secondary physical signs, thought disturbances, or a combination of symptoms.

    The scientific term for seizure is "ictus."

    Canine Epilepsy Definition 

    Epilepsy is a term used to describe repeated episodes of seizures.

    What Causes Seizures in Dogs 

    There are many causes of seizures in dogs; however, the most common cause is idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy is an inherited condition, although experts aren't exactly sure what causes it to develop.  Additional causes of seizures include:

    • Liver disease
    • Kidney failure
    • Brain tumor
    • Brain trauma
    • Toxins (i.e. poisoning)
    •  Anemia
    • Infectious diseases
    •  Low or high blood sugar
    • Electrolyte problems
    • Stroke

    Breeds At Risk of Canine Seizures 

    Interestingly enough, there are a number of dog breeds that are at a higher risk of developing seizures and epilepsy.

    These breeds include:

    • Basset Hound
    • Beagle
    • Belgian Tervuren
    • Collies
    • Cocker Spaniels
    • Golden Retriever
    • Keeshond
    • Labrador Retriever
    • Schnauzer
    • Shetland Sheepdog
    • Vizsla

    While these dogs are at a higher risk, any dog has the potential to have seizures.

    Types of Seizures | Seizure Symptoms 

    There are many types of dog seizures. However, they are typically classified in one of three ways:

    • Generalized seizures - which can be either mild or tonic-clonic (sometimes referred to as grand mal seizures).
    • Focal or partial seizures
    • Focal or partial seizures accompanied by secondary generalization

    Specific symptoms will vary depending on the type of seizure that your dog is experiencing.

    seizure symptoms

    Generalized Seizure 

    A generalized seizure involves the whole body. It results from both hemispheres of the brain misfiring. A generalized seizure can last from 30-90 seconds. Recovery can be immediate or take up to 24 hours.

    Underneath the generalized seizure "umbrella," dogs can experience tonic, tonic-clonic (grand mal), clonic, atonic, myoclonic and absence seizures (petit mal seizures) with the most common being grand mal.

    Generalized Seizure Symptoms 

    A dog experiencing a generalized seizure will often lose consciousness and fall. It is also common for their limbs to twitch and jerk.

    It is also possible for your dog to stop breathing during a generalized seizure. Approximately 10-30 seconds after, your dog may chomp their jaw, involuntarily defecate or urinate, paddle their legs, whine, bark, and their pupils may dilate.

    Grand Mal Seizure (AKA Tonic-Clonic Seizure) 

    One of the most common types of seizures found in dogs is referred to as a Grand Mal seizure. Grand mal seizures typically present warning signs up to a day before the seizure occurs.

    These warning signs include:

    • Anxiety
    • Irritability
    • Dizziness
    • Weakness
    • Mood changes

    Tonic-clonic seizures generally last one minute and are typically associated with epilepsy, low levels of blood sugar and salt or drug toxicity.

    Focal Seizure |  Partial Seizure 

    Localization characterizes these seizures. Focal seizures occur when a small area of nerve cells misfire in one hemisphere of the brain. Depending upon the dog’s level of awareness when it occurs, the seizures are either referred to as simple or complex.

    In the majority of cases, your dog will remain conscious during a focal or partial seizure. However, consciousness will be more impaired when a complex seizure occurs.

    Focal Seizure |  Partial Seizure Symptoms 

    Common symptoms of a focal or partial seizure include:

    • Twitching in one side of the dog's face
    • Jerking in one side of the dog's body
    • Turning of the head to one side
    • A curving of the dog's body to one side
    • Moving only one limb

    Many conditions cause partial seizures including:

    • Tumors
    • Trauma to the head
    • Brain infections
    • Congenital abnormalities
    • Stroke

    Furthermore, partial seizures are often misdiagnosed as generalized seizures. However, if your veterinarian is able to determine where the seizure began, it will help to differentiate the seizures.

    What is Status Epilepticus?

    We briefly mentioned that epilepsy is a condition that describes a repeated seizure episode.

    Status epilepticus can often be confused with cluster seizures. While they are similar in that your dog may experience several seizures in a short timeframe, dogs with status epilepticus do not regain consciousness between episodes. Status epilepticus is a serious, life-threatening condition that requires veterinary intervention immediately.

    What Happens During a Seizure 

    When seizures occur they typically happen in a series of phases.


    The phase referred to as prodrome typically occurs days or hours before the actual seizure. In this phase, pet owners often see initial changes in their dog's behavior and mood.

    Aura or Pre-ictal Phase 

    The aura or pre-ictal phase can last a few seconds or a few hours. In this phase, the dog will often become nervous, needy, or anxious and may seek out attention from their owner. You may also find your dog acting restless, whining, shaking, or salivating. The dog behaves in a way as if they know something is about to happen.

    Ictus/Seizure Phase 

    This phase can last between a few seconds to five minutes. In the ictus phase, your dog may pass out and experience involuntary muscle spasms and actions.

    Additional symptoms associated with this phase are:

    • Foaming at the mouth
    • Twitching
    • Chomping
    • Drooling
    • Urination
    • Defecation

    Post Ictus/Ictal Phase 

    During the postictal phase, your dog will likely be disoriented and confused. The dog may pace back and forth or be unresponsive.

    Additionally, temporary vision and/or hearing loss may occur.

    Increased thirst or hunger, as well as excessive salivation, is also common in this phase. The post-ictus phase can last from a few minutes up to several days.

    dog seizure brain

    What To Do For An Epileptic Dog

    Now, we're sure you're wondering what you can do to comfort an epileptic dog. As terrifying as seizures may look, they actually aren't painful for your dog. However, they can ultimately cause a great deal of confusion.

    If your dog is having a seizure, it is essential to try to keep the external environment as calm and as quiet as possible. Bright lights and loud noises can make the seizure worse as well as cause further seizures to occur. Additionally, make sure that all other pets are kept out of the room. This goes hand in hand with keeping the noise and stress levels at an absolute minimum. Some dogs may become aggressive after the seizure, so this may also avoid fights. 

    It is important to protect your pet from injuring itself during or after a seizure. Make sure there are no potential hazards in the area. Also never place your hands near a dog’s mouth during the seizure, as you risk being bitten. Dogs are unconscious, so do not try to arouse or startle them out of a seizure.  

    Furthermore, it is important to record as much information about the seizure as possible. This information will help your vet determine the cause and proper way to treat future seizures. Immediate veterinary care should be sought if the seizure lasts more than three minutes, or if your pet has two or more seizures in a twenty-four period. 

    How to Prevent Dog Seizures

    Preventing seizures will ultimately depend on what is causing them in the first place.

    As we previously mentioned, poisoning can often result in your dog experiencing seizures. If you suspect that poisoning is at the root of the problem, be sure to remove any potential culprits from in or around your home. 

    These include:

    • Lead-infused paint
    • Golf balls
    • Foil attached to bottle tops
    • Batteries
    • Plumbing or building materials
    • Linoleum
    • Sugar-free gum
    • Ethylene glycol
    • Homemade playdough (salt dough)
    • Rodenticides/insecticides
    • Mushrooms
    • Sago palm
    • Illegal drugs
    • Medications (with potential to cause hypoglycemia)
    • Caffeine
    • Dark chocolate 

    Additionally, the stress associated with loud noises such as thunderstorms and fireworks can also be at the root of isolated seizures. 

    The best way to prevent these types of seizures is to remain calm and keep your home environment as peaceful as possible. Experts suggest playing calming music and talking sweetly to your pup. Additionally, lightning has the tendency to sneak up and scare all of us, humans included. Pet parents can create a distraction from the lightning outside by turning on all of the lights inside.  

    Finally, it is imperative that pet owners get their dog’s blood values checked regularly to rule out any liver or kidney disease as well as low blood glucose levels. Your dog's diet is extremely important and ensuring that they get all of the proper nutrients they need can also help prevent seizures from occurring.

    Seizure & Epilepsy Treatment

    Seizure treatment typically begins if:

    • The dog experiences more than one seizure a month
    • The dog has clusters of seizures where one seizure is immediately followed by another one
    • The dog experiences grand mal seizures that are either very severe or lengthy in duration
    • The postictal disorientation phase is severe
    • The dog has a history of brain trauma/injury or a brain lesion on advanced imaging

    Conventional Anti-Seizure Medications

    Once the anti-seizure medication is initiated, it must be given for the remainder of the dog's life. Studies show that if anticonvulsant medication is started and then discontinued, the dog's chance of developing more severe seizures in the future greatly increases.

    The two drugs most commonly used to treat seizures in dogs are phenobarbital and potassium bromide (K-BroVet chewable tablets). Additional newer medications include zonisamide and levetiracetam extended-release treatment. These medications require a prescription from your veterinarian along with routine veterinary check-ups in order to monitor the efficacy of the drug.

    The Dangers of Conventional Anti-Seizure Medications 

    At the end of the day, seizures and epilepsy are scary conditions. It only makes sense that dog owners would do just about anything and everything possible to relieve their pup of the scary condition. However, at what cost? While we are certainly not trying to take away the importance of conventional medication, we want our readers to be aware of the potential dangers.

    For starters, while anti-seizure medications can treat some forms of epilepsy, they can also have lasting, at times irreversible, effects on the dog's vital organs including the liver and kidneys. This is why the routine monitoring of the organs is so important. Yes, your dog may suffer fewer seizures, but they could potentially face liver disease instead. Is it worth it?

    Additionally, even when administered properly, conventional anti-seizure medications don't always work on all seizure disorders. Unfortunately, you read that correctly. Some pets may require a combination of several anti-seizure medications to better control their epilepsy. There are some cases of refractory epilepsy in which two or more drugs have failed in controlling the seizures. 

    Let's take a look at some of the most commonly prescribed anti-seizure drugs and their effects on the dog's body.


    • Short-term effects: fatigue, nervousness, lethargy, a lack of coordination,  increased appetite, increased drinking and urination. 
    • Long-term (less common) effects: anemia and liver damage, including scarring of the liver and consequent liver failure

    Potassium bromide 

    • Short-term effects: irritability, vomiting, loss of coordination and instability in the hind end of the body, sedation, increased drinking and urination
    • Long-term (less common) effects: bromide toxicity which leads to disease and failure of the vital organs

    Levetiracetam (Keppra)

    • Relatively safe and well-tolerated
    • Short-term effects: sedation, gastrointestinal upset, anorexia, changes in behavior


    • Short-term effects: loss of coordination, depressed appetite, diarrhea, vomiting
    • Rare effects: liver disease, urinary stones, aggression

    The long-term effects of these conventional medications are often irreversible. It is very important to monitor drug levels and liver values as recommended by your veterinarian, to hopefully catch any changes early enough to be able to reverse them. 

    What is even more troublesome about these drugs is that they can all cause a build-up of toxins in the body. A build-up of toxicity ultimately leads to more seizures. Additionally, as we previously mentioned, stopping the medication can also lead to more seizures. We highly encourage our readers to consult with a holistic veterinarian and neurologist to learn about all the different treatment options available and determine what is best for their individual pet.  

    Furthermore, there are other alternatives!

    natural anti-seizure treatment

    Natural Anti-Seizure Treatment 

    Fortunately, there is a natural anticonvulsant medication for dogs with seizures. We are lucky to be living in a time where holistic wellness is making great strides forward in the ways that we are able to treat our pets. Hopefully, with continued studies and research, conventional anti-seizure medication can be a treatment of the past.

    Food Therapy 

    A specific diet can make a world of difference for a dog suffering from seizures and epilepsy. Experts recommend ketogenic diets that are low in carbohydrates and high in fats. Studies have shown that these diets are highly beneficial for treating seizures. In fact, diet is incredibly essential in healing just about any ailment that your dog may face. A species-appropriate, raw food diet can also be extremely beneficial in treating a slew of conditions. We recommend consulting with a holistic vet in terms of what diet changes will best suit your dog's individual needs.

    In 2017, Purina released a new veterinary therapeutic that uses medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) as the fat source, which can add to increased seizure control in conjunction with mediations.  One can also contract a board-certified veterinary nutritionist to help formulate a home-cooked diet as another option.


    Studies have also shown that Chinese medicine such as acupuncture has been effective in treating dogs with seizures. Acupuncture, like most great things, works best with consistency. Therefore, this may not be the best or a realistic treatment method for some dog owners. However, it is comforting to know that alternative treatment means do exist.

    Dog Seizures: The Bottom Line

    With all things considered, we know that you want what’s best for your pet. At Honest Paws, we are all dog owners and pet lovers. Therefore, we know how troubling it can be when your beloved four-legged friend faces any kind of ailment. Seizures, in particular, can be extremely heart wrenching for a dog owner to experience.

    Luckily, we are all living in a forward-moving time in terms of holistic healing and wellness. We are incredibly grateful that all-natural alternatives are finally getting the recognition that they deserve.

    The fact that we have the ability to have a choice and a say as to how we can heal our loved ones is something that we can all be excited about. From CBD hemp oil to acupuncture to specialized diets, there are ways to help our furry companions without the need to go straight to conventional medications. We are elated that holistic alternatives are making such a massive difference in so many human and animal lives. Here at Honest Paws, we are so happy to have a small part in delivering the positivity to our readers.

    As always, consult with your holistic vet regarding the appropriate way to move forward for your individual pup.


    Jennifer Dempsey, DVM

    Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) 

    She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives. As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  

    Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

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    Raw Dog Food: A Quick, Everything-You-Need Guide

    Raw Dog Food: A Quick, Everything-You-Need Guide

    You want the very best for your dog. From nutritional supplements to new brands of food to the latest and greatest tips for holistic wellness, chances are you've tried it all. However, the one thing that many dog owners shy away from is implementing a raw food diet. Trust us, we get it. The idea of preparing raw food for your dog can be daunting... to say the least. Nevertheless, the potential benefits are something worth taking note of. If you've ever considered making the switch to raw dog food, this article is for you.

    raw dog food

    What is Raw Dog Food

    Raw diets for dogs are designed to mimic the diet of your dog's early ancestors. Primary ingredients of a raw diet are those found in the wild, such as raw meat, bones, and vegetables. The ingredients involve minimal processing and take into account the individual dietary requirements of the dog.

    Additionally, a raw dog food diet is typically comprised of:

    • Muscle meat (often still connected to the bone)
    • Bones (which can be whole or ground)
    • Organ meats (i.e. livers and kidneys)
    • Raw eggs
    • Vegetables (such as broccoli, spinach, and celery)
    • Apples and other fruits
    • Dairy (i.e. yogurt but used minimally)

    Raw food diets vary greatly from the typical highly processed kibble that you find at your local pet store. In fact, most raw food diets are created right in your own kitchen and never spend a day on a supermarket shelf.

    What is the BARF Diet

    The BARF diet stands for Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It is a term coined in 1993 by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst. Billinghurst believed that adult dogs would benefit from an evolutionary diet, one that is solely based on what dogs consumed before they became domesticated. Billinghurst concluded that raw diets were a way in which today's dogs would thrive and that commercial dog food was detrimental to their health.

    While Billinghurst's observations of the benefits of a raw diet were unmistaken, his opinion is one that many mainstream veterinarians and the FDA disagree with.

    Even with the risks of raw diets widely published, many supporters still feel that the pros of raw food diets outweigh the cons.

    Benefits of Raw Dog Food

    Most bags of commercial pet food that you find at your local supermarket are full of preservatives and fillers that allow them to have a longer shelf life. Unfortunately, artificial preservatives and fillers don't do much (if anything) to contribute to your dog's health.

    Conversely, raw meat and raw food diets are loaded with nutritional benefits. Their ingredients can spoil quickly, unlike the store-bought food, which ensures that each raw meal is served fresh. Some pet owners may consider this to be a drawback. Long lasting kibble is certainly a quicker option when it comes to mealtime. However, the majority of pet owners who switched to raw food agree that after seeing the results they would never go back to the "easy" option.

    Proponents of a raw diet claim the following benefits: 

    • Healthier skin and coat
    • Increased energy
    • Greater overall vitality
    • Improved digestion
    • Cleaner teeth
    • Better muscle tone
    • Smaller stools 

    Pet owners have reported that many of the benefits and changes happen quite immediately.

    benefits of raw dog food

    Potential Risks of Raw Dog Food

    Again, these benefits don't come without risks. The majority of veterinarians do not advocate for raw food diets and there are reasons worth acknowledging. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have all come out with statements against feeding raw diets to our pets. 


    When handling raw meat, there is always a possibility for bacterial contamination if the meat isn't supervised properly. Raw meat can contaminate cutting boards, countertops, and other foods if they aren't completely disinfected afterward. Sanitizing surfaces and ensuring the cleanliness of the area is paramount.  Avoid touching your face while handling meat and always thoroughly wash your hands afterwards. Immediately refrigerate or carefully dispose of any uneaten portions. 

    Countless studies have shown that raw diets are far more likely to contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella, listeria, and E. coli, than other commercial pet diets. These organisms cannot only make our pets sick, but also infect ourselves. Your dog can transfer the bacteria by licking you, so avoid kisses and always wash your hands and face after handling your pet as a precaution. 

    Immunocompromised dogs, including dogs with cancer or receiving chemotherapy, should also not be fed raw diets due to the risk of bacterial contamination. 

    Properly Sourced

    Raw meat must not only be prepared correctly but also properly sourced. Know where the meat is coming from and make sure you are purchasing it from a source you trust.

    Unbalanced Diet

    Another risk of feeding a raw food diet is not ensuring that it is nutritionally balanced. Over time, an unbalanced diet from raw feeding can lead to a slew of health conditions. Momentarily we will walk you through everything that Fido needs in their raw diet if you so choose to make the switch.

    Raw diets should also not be fed to dogs with liver disease or kidney failure as it is too high in protein. 

    Dental Health

    Finally, raw meat diets involve feeding bones. When feeding bones, you run the risk of the dog inadvertently breaking a tooth or causing an internal puncture of the gastrointestinal tract. Bones also pose the threat of a choking hazard. It is imperative for dog owners to not leave their pet unaccompanied while enjoying a bone as it can quickly lead to devastating and sometimes irreversible consequences.

    Commercially Produced Raw Food

    Since Ian Billinghurst's book, Give Your Dog a Bone was published, more and more companies that once solely produced kibble and canned foods have integrated the concept of raw food into their products. These dog foods containing raw meat are either frozen or freeze-dried and most of the time serve as combination diets. In other words, the meal is not entirely raw but contain grains, vitamins, and vegetables that are all mixed with the raw food source.

    It goes without saying that store-bought raw pet food is a simpler way to integrate the concept of raw feeding. Naturally, the more raw meat and ingredients, the more benefits you may see. However, store-bought raw options are an alternative that eliminates many of the risks associated with preparing a raw diet at home.

    Price Points: Kibble Vs. Raw Feeding

    When considering making the switch to raw dog food, many pet parents wonder how much money it's going to cost them. Dog owners report that a commercially available raw chicken diet costs approximately $2.50 a day for a 30-pound dog being fed once per day. However, depending on the size of your dog and the meat source, raw diets can cost upwards of $5 or more a day. Conversely, a premium commercial dog food will cost approximately $1 a day for the same dog.

    Of course, we all wish that money was no object when it came to our fur baby. However, for many, that's simply not the case. An increase of potentially several dollars a day may not seem like a lot up front, but as you can imagine, it adds up and may not currently make sense for your personal lifestyle. On the other hand, many owners believe that spending money now will prevent the costs associated with health problems later down the line.

    raw dog food

    Basic Rules for Feeding Raw Food

    If you ultimately decide that you want to give raw feeding a try there are several important factors that will make a world of difference and help ensure that you are creating a well-balanced meal. As always, consult with a board-certified nutritionist (rather than relying on other people’s recipes on the internet) when preparing a home cooked diet to make sure that it is nutritionally balanced for your pet. 

    #1 - Calcium & Phosphorus

    One of the most important rules for a nutritionally complete raw food diet is making sure it contains enough calcium and phosphorus. Deficiencies can cause bone and dental abnormalities. All dogs, but particularly growing puppies, need excellent sources of these minerals and won't survive without them. Growing puppies should not be fed a raw diet because if they don’t get enough of these minerals it can cause deformities and growth defects. 

    Careful not to confuse a raw meat diet with an all-meat diet. Feeding only meats can cause bone and nervous system issues even in the healthiest of dogs and severe bone problems in puppies.

    In order to ensure that the dog's diet has enough calcium and minerals, approximately 12-15% of the meal should be meaty bones. The following is a list of what type of bones to look for.

    • Chicken wings, necks, legs or thighs
    • Turkey necks (other bones of the turkey can be very large)
    • Lamb or goat necks
    • Lamb or goat ribs
    • Beef tail bones (particularly good for larger dogs)

    Some dog owners choose to feed whole animals such as whole rabbit or whole fish. These animals, along with some members of the poultry family, make for food options as they contain the right amount of bone.

    Additionally, egg shells contain an appropriate calcium to phosphorus ratio but pet owners must ensure the eggs are purchased from a farm. Eggs bought from the grocery store have been washed and sprayed with a topical sanitizer. It is best to grind the egg shells to prevent any sharp pieces or choking hazards.

    #2 - Multivitamins

    When you think of multivitamins, think of organs. A big mistake that pet parents can make is not feeding enough of them. Organs are filled with nutrients that your dog needs in order to have a balanced meal.

    Organs include:

    • Liver
    • Kidney
    • Brain
    • Lung
    • Testicles
    • Spleen
    • Pancreas
    • Thymus

    Pet parents should plan on organs making up 10-30% of their dog's meal. Many people stick to 10% organ meat, with 5% comprised of liver.. Any more than 10% of liver in the diet can cause digestive upset.

    #3 - Lean Meats

    After you solidify the bones and organs, next comes lean muscle meats. Approximately a third to a half of Fido's balanced meal (depending on the amount and number of organs you decided on) should be comprised of lean meats. Muscle meats are rich in proteins and contain the hormones and enzymes that dogs need for survival.

    The following are good choices for muscle meats.

    • Beef (ground beef, cheek meat)
    • Beef heart (should not be more than 5% of the diet)
    • Bison (ground bison, stewing bison meat)
    • Lamb (ground lamb, stewing lamb, shoulder meat, breast meat)
    • Pork (pork shoulder or butt, loin, cushion meat, boneless rib meat)
    • Chicken (boneless thighs, breast meat)
    • Turkey (ground turkey, boneless thighs, breast meat, tenderloin)

    #4 - Benefits of Fruits & Veggies

    By sticking to the first three rules you are well on your way to a meal full of nutrients. However, adding fruits and vegetables can give Fido an extra boost of wellness. Fruits and veggies offer benefits such as prebiotics, carotenoids, and lycopene (among many others). These nutrients can't be sourced from meat and can provide many advantages.

    Whenever possible, make sure to buy organic. We recommend either mushing up the produce by hand or using a food processor to make it easier for Fido to enjoy.

    #5 - Be Aware of Fats

    Now comes a few important things that pet owners must be aware of! First off - fats. Don't get us wrong, some fat is essential. Fats are key players in nerve and immune function, as well as maintaining skin health. However, the truth about fats, even healthy fats, is that they contain twice the number of calories as protein and very few minerals and vitamins.

    Many experts in the field of raw feeding believe that feeding too much fat is the number one mistake when it comes to raw food diets. This is not to say that you should eliminate all fat! There is a healthy balance. You should aim for the fat content to be around 10% and definitely not higher than 20% of the total meal. This amount of fat will ensure that the rest of the nutrients are able to be absorbed while still incorporating the fats necessary for essential body functions.

    The following are examples of low-fat options.

    • Light meat chicken or turkey without skin
    • Chicken necks without the skin
    • Lean ground beef
    • Rabbit
    • Pork loin
    • Most fish
    • Wild game (not duck)

    #6 - Limit Grains

    Next, limit grains and starchy foods like potatoes and peas. The dog's body does have the ability to digest a limited amount of grains, but we recommend keeping these to a small amount.

    Additionally, when your dog consumes starchy foods it causes their body to release insulin, a hormone that causes a lot of food to be stored as fat. Therefore, if your dog is overweight, staying away from things like grains and potatoes is a good idea.

    Finally, starch only adds calories to the meal, not essential vitamins or minerals. In fact, many experts agree that a number of benefits of raw feeding don't only come from the raw meat, but cutting out the starch. There really aren't any benefits to starch, only risks. 

    #7 - Fish 1 x Week

    If you enjoy staying up on the latest and greatest supplements for your dog's health then you've likely heard of fish oil

    You may also know that while it was once a trend that everyone jumped on, it's now something to be cautious of. Giving too much fish oil can also cause gastrointestinal upset, delayed wound healing, blood clotting abnormalities, and weight gain. 

    We recommend trying fish such as herring, sardines, smelts, or mackerel. Pet parents can add fish to their dog's food once or twice a week. To help balance out fats, aim for the whole fish to represent approximately 5% of your dog's total diet.

    #8 - Nutritionally Balanced

    We've continued to stress how important a nutritionally balanced meal is for our beloved pet. Diets that are lacking in any nutrients or vitamins, have proven to be directly linked to the development of a number of health issues. This is why it is so important to work with a veterinary nutritionist in order to formulate the perfect balance in your dog’s diet. 

    #9 - Change is Good

    If you have a picky eater on your hands then we likely don't have to tell you that a little variety is always welcomed. Consider mixing your dog's meal up from time to time by adding things like turkey feet or beef tail. Each part of the animal makes up for different nutrient benefits. For example, the feet of poultry contains higher levels of glucosamine, which helps support joint health and can help prevent conditions like hip dysplasia in dogs

    #10 - Slow and Steady

    As with all new changes to your dog's diet, stay alert. Knowing your dog's normal is the most efficient way to be able to recognize when something isn't right. Additionally, we recommend taking things slowly. Gradually integrate the raw food into your dog's current food. Start with 10% raw and allow your dog's digestive system to adjust. Keep switching out more of the original food with the new raw food until your dog's meal is 100% raw. Trust us, there is no reason to rush the process. The last thing you want to do is cause your dog to be sick and completely turned off from the idea of a raw meal.

    raw dog food choices

    How Much Raw Food?

    Finally, many pet parents ask how much raw food they should be feeding Fido. A general good rule of thumb is that your dog should be consuming approximately 2-3% of their ideal body weight. This percentage can fluctuate a bit. If you have a very active dog you will want to feed a little more as they are burning off more calories than the average dog.

    Raw Dog Food: The Bottom Line

    At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your dog. At Honest Paws, we are all pet owners and can understand firsthand the love you have for Fido. The main point that we want to stress is the importance of your dog's diet. What your dog consumes on a daily basis affects nearly every aspect of their livelihood. Even if you don't see it now, later down the line so many things circle back to their food source and whether or not it is balanced and nutritionally sound.

    Ultimately, whether or not you choose to make the switch to raw dog food is entirely up to you. There are both pros and cons for making the change and the needs of every dog will vary. For instance, a dog suffering from gastrointestinal issues may have more to benefit from than a dog who is in optimal health. What we do recommend is staying informed and making sure you know all there is to know before making a decision. Knowledge is power and Fido is relying on you to make sure they are being fed the very best.


    Jennifer Dempsey, DVM

    Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) 

    She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives. As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  

    Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

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    Addison's Disease in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

    Addison's Disease in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

    It's hard to not go into full throttle panic mode when something is wrong with your fur child. Trust us, we get it. Having your dog diagnosed with any disease can be extremely heart wrenching for any pet parent. With that being said, if your pup was recently diagnosed with Addison's disease, try to remain calm. While there certainly is an adjustment period, the disease is entirely manageable.

    In this article, we hope to inform our readers of the disease as well as symptoms to look out for and the ways to manage it. Take a deep breath, you got this!

    addison's disease in dogs

    The Basics of Addison's Disease

    You may also hear Addisons disease in dogs referred to as canine hypoadrenocorticism. While it is a fairly uncommon disease, when hypoadrenocorticism does occur in dogs, it may be seen more in does develop is it typically seen in young to middle-aged female canines (with an average age of four years old). With that being said, it is entirely possible for Addison's disease to develop at any age and affect both male and female dogs.

    Furthermore, while the disease is relatively uncommon, it is still important to know the signs and potential causes for its development. While it is completely manageable with the appropriate treatment plan and medication, if left untreated, Addison's disease can be fatal. Therefore, if you suspect that your dog may have the disease, a timely diagnosis is absolutely imperative.

    What is Addison's Disease in Dogs

    The adrenal gland is a small organ located just in front of the kidney, which is how it got its name.  It consists of the medulla in the center and outer area called the cortex. The function of the adrenal gland is to produce hormones. Addison’s disease is concerned with the hormones called corticosteroids, which are produced in the cortex.  Addison's disease develops as a result of damage to the dog's adrenal glands. Adrenal glands are much more important than many people may realize. Cortisol and aldosterone are among two of the most important hormones that the glands produce.

    adrenal gland in dogs

    What is Cortisol 

    Cortisol is the hormone that manages sugar, fat, and protein metabolism. Cortisol is also responsible for the dog’s response to stress.

    What is Aldosterone 

    Aldosterone is the hormone responsible for balancing the sodium and potassium in the dog’s body. Additionally, aldosterone plays a large role balancing sodium and potassium levels in situations when the dog's body is under stress.

    As you can imagine, when these hormones aren’t functioning properly or aren't balanced, a slew of issues can quickly arise. These corticosteroid hormones are very important in helping our pets adapt to stressful situations, so even the smallest stresses can lead to a disaster.

    What is Cushing's Disease 

    The condition that is considered to be the opposite of Addison's disease is called Cushing’s disease. Cushing's disease is an overproduction of cortisol in the dog's body.

    Potential Causes of Addison's Disease

    Despite substantial research, not all causes of Addison's disease are known. Most commonly, the underlying cause is genetically based. In many of these cases, an autoimmune disorder causes the body to wrongfully see its own organs as a threat and attack them (this is also known as immune-mediated destruction).

    Experts believe that other cases of Addison's disease are the result of trauma or diseases affecting the adrenal glands. For instance, different conditions such as infections of the adrenal glands like histoplasmosis or blastomycosis have been directly linked to the Addison's disease in dogs.

    Other instances of Addison's disease are believed to occur from a problem in the dog’s pituitary gland. The issue results in the gland not producing the hormone ACTH which plays an important role in the production of cortisol in the body.

    Types of Addison's Disease

    Of the varying types of Addison's disease, primary, secondary, and treatment-induced are the three that pet owners should be aware of.

    Primary Addison's Disease

    Primary adrenocortical insufficiency is the most common type of Addison's disease in dogs. This type of Addison's disease occurs when the dog’s immune system destroys parts of the adrenal glands and they don’t function appropriately. Other causes for primary hypoadrenocorticism include medications, toxins, cancer or other concurrent diseases.

    Secondary Addison's Disease

    Secondary hypoadrenocorticism affects the pituitary glands (as opposed to the adrenal gland). The pituitary gland produces ACTH. ACTH is an important hormone that is responsible for sending signals to the adrenal glands. These signals alert the adrenal glands to make their own specific hormone.

    If the pituitary gland stops producing ACTH, the adrenal glands, therefore, stop producing cortisol.  

    If Fido is diagnosed with secondary Addison's disease, the treatment plan will involve medication that helps the produce the cortisol that it is not naturally making. This type of Addison's disease isn't accompanied by symptoms of an Addisonian crisis (symptoms of a bad sodium / potassium balance... more on that in a minute).

    Treatment-Induced Addison’s Disease

    Finally, the third type of Addison's disease is referred to as treatment-induced Addison's disease or iatrogenic Addison’s disease. It is the type of disease that is a result of prescription drugs.

    Luckily, there are ways to prevent this form of Addison's disease from developing, but the trick is knowing the risks involved.

    Iatrogenic Addison’s disease typically develops when a dog is taking a steroid medication for a long period of time and then comes off the medication too quickly. This is due to the fact that when dogs are taking steroids, their hormones levels increase in the body so the adrenal glands stop producing them.

    For this reason (among others), it is so incredibly important to always discuss the proper way to use medications with your veterinarian and always follow the instructions accurately. Pet owners may believe that their beloved four-legged friend no longer needs to be on the steroid medication because they are feeling better. However, many dog parents do not realize that abruptly ending medication can quickly (and fairly easily) lead to a slew of additional problems to arise.

    Furthermore, stopping steroids without slowly weaning the dog off of the medication can lead to issues that are irreversible. It is entirely possible for the adrenal glands to not be able to start up again. Again, consult with your vet and develop a proper, monitored treatment plan for your dog's individual needs.

    pituitary gland in dogs

    Addison's Disease Symptoms

    The following are symptoms of Addison's disease and can range from mild to severe. It is incredibly important for pet parents not to ignore mild symptoms as they can quickly worsen and prove to be much more difficult to manage in many cases.  Additionally, Addison's disease symptoms may appear suddenly and be severe or may appear intermittently and vary in severity with each occurrence.

    Stomach Issues

    Gastrointestinal issues are a common sign of Addison's disease. Symptoms may include: painful stomach cramping, vomiting and diarrhea, anorexia or weight loss. 

    Of course, general stomach issues are also referred to as non-specific symptoms. In other words, they are symptoms of many different conditions. For instance, diarrhea is a symptom of Addison's disease but can also be a sign that Fido may have gone through the trash while you were at work. The same goes for other non-specific symptoms such as a loss of appetite. That's why it's so important to know your dog's "normal" behavior in order to recognize when something is off and be able to act accordingly.

    addison's disease in dogs causes stomach issues


    An increased amount of muscular weakness and overall tiredness are classical signs of Addison's disease. Many pet parents may not know that increased lethargy is directly tied to dehydration and hormone imbalance. Another telling symptom of Addison’s disease in dogs is increased thirst (polydipsia) and urination (polyuria). If Fido takes in more fluid or has any of the other aforementioned symptoms, a timely diagnosis is imperative in order to begin treatment and ensure the condition doesn't worsen.

    Additional Symptoms of Addison's Disease

    Symptoms of Addison's disease include:

    • Lethargy
    • Weakness
    • Poor appetite
    • Vomiting
    • Weight loss
    • Depression
    • Dehydration
    • Diarrhea
    • Excessive thirst or fluid intake
    • Cool to touch
    • Excessive shaking
    • Slow heart rate
    • Change in blood pressure

    Addison's Disease & Stress

    When a dog is stressed their adrenal glands naturally produce higher levels of cortisol. This helps them deal with the stress. A dog with Addison's disease is unable to make enough cortisol and therefore is unable to properly deal with whatever stress they are currently facing. Therefore, the symptoms of Addison's disease will often be much more severe when the dog is stressed.

    We likely don't have to tell you that dogs are highly sensitive creatures. What stresses one dog may not stress the next, but you can assume that if something is bothering you, your dog is picking up on it. Additionally, any changes in your dog's day to day routine, traveling, having guests over, etc. can cause them to experience an amount of stress that will cause the symptoms of Addison's disease to worsen.

    This brings us back to the beginning of this article when we encouraged our readers not to panic. We know this is easier said than done, but a dog with Addison's disease should avoid stress at all costs and if something is stressing you out, you can be sure it's stressing Fido out.

    Addisonian Crisis

    Unfortunately, because of the fact that early symptoms are typically mild, many dogs aren't diagnosed with Addison's disease until they experience an Addisonian crisis. About 30% of dogs are diagnosed with Addison’s disease during a crisis. An Addisonian crisis is a medical emergency that results in your dog going into shock from a sodium and potassium imbalance and the collapse of their circulation system. The increase in potassium can cause heart arrhythmias. The blood glucose level can also drop dangerously low during the crisis. If Fido has any of the aforementioned symptoms, a timely diagnosis is imperative in order to begin timely treatment and ensure the condition doesn't worsen or result in death.  

    Oftentimes, a dog experiencing an Addisonian crisis will appear to be extremely ill. Typical symptoms include:

    • Extremely dehydrated
    • Lethargy
    • Physically weak
    • Excessive shivering
    • Heart failure (Relatively uncommon but possible)

    Addison's Disease Diagnosis

    You may hear your vet refer to Addison's disease as “the great imitator.” This goes back to the non-specific symptoms that we discussed. Due to the fact that the symptoms of Addison's disease are also those of a slew of other conditions, your veterinarian will likely have to run a series of tests on your dog in order to accurately diagnose the disorder. When other diagnoses are ruled out, the veterinarian will confirm an adrenal insufficiency and thus an Addison's disease diagnosis by using an ACTH stimulation test.

    Initial diagnostics typically include standard blood tests such as a complete blood count and a chemistry profile to check for imbalances such as:

    • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
    • Elevated creatinine
    • Decreased blood sugar
    • Anemia
    • Electrolyte abnormalities (including sodium and potassium)

    If all the results are pointing to Addison's disease, then the vet will perform an ACTH challenge test in order to make the final diagnosis.

    addison's disease in dogs diagnosis

    ACTH Stimulation Test

    An ACTH stimulation test involves injecting the dog with (you guessed it) ACTH. This is the pituitary hormone that tells the adrenal glands to release corticosteroids during times of stress. The dog’s cortisol levels are measured before and several hours after the injection of ACTH.  A dog that does not have Addison's disease will respond by showing increased cortisol levels. The vet will confirm that it's Addison's disease if there is no increase in the dog's cortisol levels after being injected with ACTH.

    A screening test called a resting cortisol level can also be performed prior to an ACTH stimulation test. If the resting cortisol is in the normal range than Addison’s disease is less likely. If the results come back low, then Addision’s disease cannot be ruled out and an ACTH stimulation test should be performed. The resting cortisol test is less expensive than the ACTH test, so it may be useful if it comes back normal.

    Preventing Addison's Disease

    As we previously mentioned, some cases of Addison's disease are caused by genetics. In these cases, unfortunately, there is no real way to prevent the disease from developing. However, in other cases of Addison's disease in dogs, there are a few ways that pet owners can make sure they are protecting their pup's adrenal gland and ultimately prevent the disease.

    Avoid Drugs and Chemicals 

    Consuming dangerous drugs and chemicals is one way that Addison's disease may develop. Keeping these substances out of reach is an easy way to prevent Fido from accidentally eating them. 

    For dogs that are on medications to treat Cushing’s disease, make sure to follow the recommended dosing. An overdose of these medications can cause destruction of the adrenal gland and lead to Addison’s disease. 

    It goes without saying that consuming any drugs or chemicals may not result in Addison's disease, but will likely result in a serious issue developing either immediately or in the future. If you believe your dog may have eaten something dangerous, it is extremely important to have them checked by a vet right way.

    Protect the Kidneys

    Avoiding any pressure or impact on the sensitive area surrounding the kidneys is also an important way to prevent Addison's disease from developing.

    Steroid Usage

    As we previously mentioned, one of the most common known reasons behind Addison's disease is discontinuing steroid use too quickly. We understand that there are times when steroids may be necessary to get your beloved four-legged friend back on the right track. It is impossibly hard seeing your pet in pain so it makes sense that owners may think that as soon as the medication works, they should stop giving it (especially if you're aware of the dangers of so many conventional drugs). However, this truly can harm your dog more than you can imagine. It is imperative to always follow your veterinarian's instructions when starting and ending medications, particularly steroids. It can make a world of difference in your dog's health and well-being.

    Protect the Adrenal Glands

    It's pretty safe to assume that anything that causes harm to the adrenal glands has the potential to cause Addison's disease. Therefore, by protecting the adrenal glands you are helping to prevent the disease from developing.

    Treatment for Addison's Disease

    We know that that was a fair amount of potentially troubling information. However, we originally said not to panic for a reason. That is because and the reason is that when diagnosed appropriately and in a timely manner, hypoadrenocorticism in dogs is entirely treatable. Addison’s disease is not curable but it can be managed with lifelong treatment.

    The long-term treatment of Addison’s in dogs involves replacing the essential hormones that the dog's body is no longer producing naturally. This is achieved with drugs such as Florinef (fludrocortisone), or a newer treatment option, Percorten-V (desoxycorticosterone pivalate | DOCP).

    Percorten-V (DOCP) is a long-acting injectable mineralocorticoid medication and only has to be administered once every twenty-five day period. It’s been shown to offer much better results than Florinef. However, with that in mind, if your dog is prescribed Percorten-V (DOCP), they will typically also be prescribed a steroid called prednisone. Prednisone will have to be given daily to replace the corticosteroid in the body.

    Once your dog's hormone levels are stabilized, it is important for them to be rechecked by a vet 2-3 times a year so that the dose of medication can be altered if necessary.

    Treatment for an Addisonian Crisis 

    If your dog is in an Addisonian crisis your veterinarian will likely recommend hospitalization with the administration of intravenous fluids and other medications such as dexamethasone, and potentially glucose (sugar). The fluid will help stabilize your dog.

    Managing Addison’s Disease in Dogs

    Here's the good news. With proper treatment and an understanding of how to manage the disease, Addison's disease in dogs has a good prognosis. With the appropriate care, the majority of Addison's dogs won’t have any disease-related problems that could lead to their lifespan being shortened.

    As a pet owner, the most difficult aspect of managing Addison's disease is making sure that you are staying on top of necessary medications and always being on the lookout for signs of an Addisonian crisis. Pets undergoing stressful situations such as boarding, traveling and surgery may require an increase in the prednisone dosing to compensate for the additional stress and anxiety. In the beginning, it is important for your dog's blood to be tested weekly. However, once stabilized, you'll likely only need to have their blood checked 2-4 times a year.

    Again, we cannot stress enough the importance of knowing your dog's "normal" behavior. We wish that our dogs could talk to us and tell us exactly how they are feeling. However, this just isn't the case. Dogs are notorious for hiding pain and playing it cool. Therefore, if anything seems off, chances are, something is very off. It is imperative to be able to quickly recognize these changes and act accordingly.

    addison's disease in dogs treatment

    Breeds at Risk of Addison's Disease

    While any dog, at any age, any breed, and either sex can develop Addison's disease, studies have found that certain breeds seem to be at higher risk.

    These breeds include:

    • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
    • Portuguese Water Dogs
    • Standard Poodles
    • Airedale Terrier
    • Basset Hound
    • Bearded Collies
    • Great Dane
    • Rottweiler
    • Springer Spaniels: English Springer Spaniel and Welsh Springer Spaniel
    • Saint Bernard
    • Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
    • West Highland White Terrier

    If your pup happens to be one of the aforementioned breeds, it's even more important to be on high alert when it comes to recognizing symptoms of canine Addison's disease.

    Addison's Disease in Dog's: The Bottom Line

    At the end of the day, we know that your dog means the entire world to you. Trust us, we get it. At Honest Paws, we are all dog owners. That's why we know firsthand just how difficult it can be when your four-legged family member is diagnosed with a lifelong disease.

    We are here to tell you that thanks to modern medicine, Addison's disease in dogs is very manageable and no longer a death sentence. Furthermore, a dog diagnosed with  Addisons disease dog can live just as long as a dog that doesn't have the condition.

    By knowing the ways that you can help protect the adrenal gland, the signs of the disease, and what to do if symptoms occur, you can ensure that you are doing everything you can to keep Fido happy and healthy. Again, Addison's disease is manageable, but the first step in doing so is through an accurate diagnosis. If for any reason you believe that your dog may have Addison's disease, don't delay in contacting your veterinarian.



    Jennifer Dempsey, DVM

    Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) 

    She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives. As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  

    Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

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    Separation Anxiety in Dogs: How To Soothe Your Anxious Pup

    Separation Anxiety in Dogs: How To Soothe Your Anxious Pup

    Persistent howling, crying, and pacing. There are not many things worse than knowing that your four-legged family member is losing their mind as soon as you step out the front door. Yet as a dog owner, what can you do? We understand that you have to go to work or run out to the grocery store (let alone have a social life). However, it can become a constant chore when dealing with the agony of leaving behind a dog with separation anxiety. However, we're here to tell you that there is hope for easing separation anxiety in dogs. It begins with fully understanding the anxiety and what provokes it. Let's get started.

    What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs 

    Perhaps the largest complaint of pet owners (and their neighbors) is their dog misbehaving in a destructive way when their owner leaves. This behavior can include anything from howling, chewing, digging, house soiling, urination, trying to escape, etc. It can cause major problems for dog owners who live in apartment complexes where the howling disrupts others.

    While these behaviors are often a sign that your dog might benefit from more obedience training, they can also be signs that your pup is in distress.

    When your dog's howling, whining, chewing, digging, and other destructive behavior is accompanied by drooling or anxious behavior when you're getting ready to leave the house, it's likely that your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety.

    Just like so many humans (over 40 million Americans each year to be exact), dogs also experience anxiety. Separation anxiety is, in fact, an anxiety disorder.  As many as 1 out of 6 dogs may suffer from some form of this disorder. Pets with single owners are also 2.5 times more likely than pets living with several people to have signs of separation anxiety. Senior pets are also more likely to develop separation anxiety as cognitive changes occur with the aging process. 

    Separation anxiety in dogs can occur when the owner leaves them alone, even for a very short period of time. Dogs are pack animals. Therefore, given the dog's instinctual nature, many don't do well when left by themselves, thus inducing the anxious behavior. While disheartening, it can also leave owners feeling incredibly frustrated.

    However, we're here to tell you that you're not alone. In fact, there are so many owners dealing with pups who have separation distress that there are now animal behaviorist experts who are hired solely to help handle the issue. There are also anti-anxiety medication options that your veterinarian may recommend for severe cases. Dogs with mild cases may benefit from more natural options.  Additionally, there are several other ways to help manage separation anxiety in dogs but first, owners need to understand the underlying causes of the problem at hand.

    Dog Separation Anxiety Causes 

    There are several underlying causes that are directly linked to separation anxiety in dogs. If your pup begins having a nervous breakdown when they sense your imminent departure, consider whether the following changes have recently happened in your home.

    Change in Household Membership 

    If you are a dog owner, then you know first hand just how sensitive our furry companions can be. They bond with members of the family and individuals who they see on a regular basis. Therefore, a death of a family member or circumstances such as divorce can devastate your pup and lead to symptoms of separation anxiety.

    Owners may not fully realize the extent to which "people problems" can also affect their dog's life. The human-animal bond is often incredibly strong. Even something as simple as a roommate moving out can cause your pup to constantly question if you're going to leave and not come back. It truly is heartbreaking when you think about it.

    Change in Schedule 

    Dogs, like most humans, are creatures of habit. We all like our schedules and sticking to them. It keeps us consistent and productive. Dogs are really not much different. Therefore, when there are changes in the typical day-to-day schedule, it can lead to symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs.


    Separation anxiety in dogs commonly goes hand in hand with abandonment. As you can imagine, a dog that has been in and out of shelters will likely have separation anxiety due to the fear that their owner won't return. The absence of the owner, long-term or short-term can be enough to incite full-on panic.

    Separation Anxiety in Dogs

    Lack of Integration into Household 

    Another cause of separation anxiety in dogs is improper integration into the household. When a new dog is brought home for the first time, owners may think it's best to confine them to certain parts of the house or leave them in a crate for long periods at a time. While we understand that you don't want your house torn up by your new pup, understand that this lack of integration can lead to signs of separation anxiety.


    Finally, a major cause of separation anxiety in dogs is moving. Moving homes ties into a change in schedule as well as potentially a lack of proper integration. We understand how stressful moving can be for a pet owner. We want to stress that it can be equally stressful for your pup. Dogs are incredibly sensitive creatures. If you are in the process of moving, it is likely that your dog is not only sensing your stress and anxiety, but also experiencing their own since they have no way of knowing what is going on. Double the stress typically equates to separation anxiety.

    Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs 

    Next, dog owners should be aware of the signs of separation anxiety. There are behavioral issues and other conditions that share similar symptoms to separation anxiety in dogs so it is important to be able to distinguish them.

    Urinating and Defecating 

    In some cases, house soiling (urinating and defecating) are signs that your dog is experiencing separation anxiety. However, if your dog urinates and/or defecates while you are home, chances are they could benefit from obedience training and the actions are not caused by separation anxiety.

    Separation Anxiety in Dogs

    Barking and Howling

    Barking and howling are two signs of separation anxiety. If you live in an apartment complex, you may be made aware of the situation by an unenthused neighbor. The barking and howling is persistent and doesn't seem to be provoked by anything other than being left alone.

    Chewing, Digging, Destruction 

    Another sign of separation anxiety is a destruction of the house from chewing, digging, scratching door frames, tearing up carpet, etc. This anxious behavior can also result in broken teeth, scraped paws, and damaged nails. Again, when the owner is home, these behaviors do not occur. Therefore, if your dog is acting like a madman in your presence, chances are, it's not due to separation anxiety.

    Escape Attempts 

    Attempting to escape is another tell-tale sign of separation anxiety in dogs. These escape attempts also commonly result in broken teeth, injured paws, and damaged nails. The dog may be attempting to escape a small area in which they are confined, such as a crate, or escape a giant room through a window or door. Regardless of where they are attempting to escape from, the behavior doesn't occur in the owner's presence.

    Separation Anxiety in Dogs


    Whether its walking from one side of the room to the other or walking in circles, pacing is a common sign of separation anxiety. Again, the way to tell whether it is or is not a symptom of separation anxiety is the fact that is doesn't occur when their owner is home.

    Coprophagia (Eating Feces) 

    Additionally, coprophagia (or eating their own poop) is another sign that your dog may be experiencing separation anxiety. This is not to be confused with puppies who eat their own poop out of potential nutrient deficiencies.

    Excessive Salivation and Licking 

    Finally, excessive drooling and licking are both signs of separation anxiety in dogs. If you come home to find your dog is wet in certain areas, chances are they have been licking excessively.

    Conditions Commonly Mistaken for Separation Anxiety in Dogs 

    There are a handful of conditions that are commonly thought to be separation anxiety but are, in fact, different issues that result in similar symptoms. It is important for dog owners to recognize the differences between these conditions.

    Simulated Separation Anxiety in Dogs 

    Dogs love attention, this isn't new information. However, what pet owners may not realize is how smart their four-legged friend is. Some dogs will go to great lengths to get the attention they want, even if that means behaving badly.

    Simulated separation anxiety in dogs has all of the same symptoms of separation anxiety. The major difference is its motivation. Simulated separation anxiety is a learned attention-seeking behavior. It develops from a substantial lack of leadership, a lack of self-control, and a constant need for attention. Ultimately, the dog is acting out and behaving in a way that they know will guarantee a response from their owner.

    Isolation Anxiety 

    Isolation anxiety closely resembles separation anxiety with one distinct difference. With separation anxiety, the anxiety occurs when one specific person (dog's owner) is absent. With isolation anxiety, distress occurs when the dog is left alone but as long as someone is there, they will be just fine. Isolation anxiety can be an easier fix by exploring ideas such as hiring a dog walker or introducing your pup to a doggy daycare.


    There are certain medications that may cause your dog to have many more "accidents" than usual. Before assuming that your pup is having separation anxiety, be sure to consider if any medications they are taking might be behind the unwanted changes you're finding.

    Separation Anxiety in Dogs

    Other Behavior Problems to Rule Out

    Additionally, before concluding that your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, you'll want to rule out the following behavioral issues.

    Submissive or Excitement Urination 

    Some dogs urinate due to overstimulation. It can occur when you get home after a long day out of the house or even when they are being reprimanded. This urination is not a sign of separation anxiety as it typically occurs in the dog owner's presence.

    Incomplete House Training 

    If Fido hasn't been properly house trained then it shouldn't really come as a surprise that you're coming home to accidents. In these cases, house soiling is not caused by separation anxiety but simply due to incomplete house training.

    Urine Marking 

    Dogs say what is theirs through what is referred to as territorial marking (also known as marking their scent). You'll recognize territorial marking because it will be a small amount of urine often in several areas of the house (can be on furniture, clothing, floors, etc). Again, this is not separation anxiety but rather your dog stating what belongs to them. 


    Dogs, like their owners, crave mental stimulation. If your dog is left on their own for periods of time then they will find a way to entertain themselves. Whether that's a competition with the neighbor's dog as to who can howl the loudest or a contest with themselves to see how quickly they can chew through that new West Elm coffee table. Your dog may be acting out simply due to boredom, not to an underlying condition such as separation anxiety. Luckily, boredom can be an easy fix and ultimately lies in the hands of the owner.

    Juvenile Destruction 

    It is common for puppies to engage in destructive activities while their owners are away. In order to avoid this, pet parents may want to consider crate training (after the puppy is properly integrated into the household). Crate training should be done very specifically as it can make it or break it for a new puppy. The crate should be looked at as a place of safety and comfort, not as punishment. Furthermore, puppy behavioral issues are much easier to change than trying to teach an older dog. If you see signs of misbehavior, it's best to nip it in the bud straight away with obedience training.

    Separation Anxiety in Dogs

    Unfamiliar Sights & Sounds 

    Unfamiliar sights and sounds can lead to excessive barking and howling. These bouts of vocalized anxiety are often caused by the fear of the unknown, such as the mailman or a siren, not by separation anxiety.

    How To Calm an Anxious Dog 

    Now that we have that covered, if you feel that you have an anxious dog on your hands, you're probably wondering how to help them cope (and how to stop coming home to a destroyed house).

    Mental Stimulation 

    One of the first things that we want to encourage is mental stimulation. As we mentioned, dogs crave stimulation, both mental and physical. No dog, no matter how calm or energetic, no matter whether they are young or old, NO DOG does well when confined to a crate or small space for hours on end.

    Before you leave for work, set aside extra time for exercise before your departure. We know it will take some adjusting on the pet owner's part, but trust us, waking up a bit earlier than usual is worth the major results that you will likely find. Experts recommend making sure that you give your pup at least 20 minutes to calm down after your morning exercise before you leave so that they don't become overstimulated with all the activity going on.

    Also consider giving a special treat or a toy stuffed with that favorite treat to your dog when you leave. Interactive toys such as food puzzles can provide mental stimulation and prevent boredom. You can also leave small piles of kibble around the house to have them search for their meal while you are gone. Plenty of safe chew toys also encourages licking and chewing, which can have a calming effect on dogs.

    Separation Anxiety in Dogs

    Obedience Training & Discipline 

    If you have a sneaky hunch that your pup would benefit from some additional obedience training, chances are, you're right. Instilling certain behavioral values from a young age can make a world of difference in your dog.

    Calming Actions & Positive Reinforcement

    Most dogs react well to positive reinforcement. For starters, pet owners should make their departure and their arrival something that is no big deal. As much as you may want to shower your baby with hugs and kisses and "I'll miss yous," they don't exactly understand what this means other than it's a lot of stimulation, followed by you leaving. The extreme high and extreme low can ultimately (and quickly) lead to separation anxiety. Pet owners may also want to implement a little positive reinforcement before leaving. Perhaps before your departure, slip Fido their favorite treat to seal the deal and make your absence not so depressing. 

    NEVER punish your dog for any behaviors associated with separation anxiety. It can actually make your pup more upset and cause the problem to get worse. 

    Dog Anxiety Medication 

    There are many supplements currently on the market for dogs with mild cases of separation anxiety. Supplements may include pheromone collars or diffusers, calming treats, diets, and probiotics. Alpha-casozepine is a derivative of a protein in cow’s milk and has a calming effect on the brain. L-theanine, which is a component of green tea plants, increases serotonin in the brain. Additionally, the amino acid L-tryptophan is also a precursor for the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is essential in the regulation of mood and anxiety. 

    In severe cases, your veterinary behaviorist may recommend treatment in the form of an anti-anxiety drug. There are currently only two FDA-approved drugs for separation anxiety in dogs. These medications may take up to 4 to 6 weeks to see the full effects and must be weaned off slowly. Anti-anxiety medications are most effective when paired with a behavioral modification program that includes desensitization and counterconditioning.

    Separation Anxiety in Dogs

    At the end of the day, we know that you want what's best for your furry companion. We understand because here at Honest Paws, we are also pet owners and know how hard it can be when you know there's something wrong but don't know exactly how to fix it.



    Jennifer Dempsey, DVM

    Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) 

    She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives. As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  

    Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

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    Heat Stroke in Dogs: How To Help Your Pup Beat The Heat

    Heat Stroke in Dogs: How To Help Your Pup Beat The Heat

    A favorite pastime for countless dog owners is enjoying the outdoors with their four-legged companion. From having a partner in crime at the grill to jumping through sprinklers to enjoying a day at the beach, the summertime is full of bonding opportunities for you and your dog.

    However, being a responsible dog owner means recognizing how the heat can affect Fido. It is imperative that pet owners take the necessary precautions when spending any amount of time in the summer heat in order to prevent heat stroke. Heat stroke in dogs is an extremely serious condition that shouldn't be overlooked. Knowing the signs of heat stroke and ways to prevent it can ensure that you're doing everything possible to keep Fido safe during the hot summer months.

    In this article, we aim to give doting dog lovers some helpful tips in order to make sure this summer is filled with awesome memories, not a scary trip to the vet.

    Heat Stroke in Dogs

    What is Heat Stroke 

    Heat stroke is a condition caused by the failure of the body's temperature-regulating mechanism when exposed to extremely high temperatures. It is a form of non-fever hyperthermia and if not treated in a timely manner can cause the dog's organs to shut down. Heat stroke is typically associated with spending too much time outdoors during the peak of summer months. However, heat stroke can occur in other months if a dog is left in the car or without shade for too long.

    What is Hyperthermia 

    Hyperthermia is an elevation in body temperature that is above the accepted normal range.

    Heat Stroke vs Heat Exhaustion 

    Heat exhaustion occurs when the dog's body temperature reaches over 103 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if the dog's rectal temperature continues to rise and reaches 106 or higher, they are at immediate risk for heat stroke. Again, heat stroke is extremely dangerous and can cause the organs to shut down and cause the heart to stop altogether.

    What Causes Heat Stroke in Dogs

    Unlike humans, dogs aren't able to sweat out excess body heat. In fact, the only sweat glands your dog has are in their paws and these do very little for regulating body temperature. Instead of sweating, dogs expel the excess heat through open-mouthed, rapid breathing (also known as panting).

    Typically, panting is enough to relieve the dog of the excess heat. However, when panting isn't enough, heatstroke becomes a real risk.

    Heat stroke typically occurs in the summer months when the warm weather can become overwhelming for our four-legged friends. However, heatstroke can also occur any time of the year if owners carelessly leaves their dog in a car for an extended period or if the dog is left outside without shade and water.

    Thankfully, heat stroke is entirely avoidable.

    Dogs Prone to Heat Stroke

    It is important to note that while any dog may be at risk of heat stroke, brachycephalic breeds are more prone. Brachycephalic refers to dogs that have a relatively short nose and flat face. Such breeds include: 

    • Pugs
    • Bulldogs
    • Pekingese
    • Boston Terriers
    • Boxers
    • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
    • Shih Tzus

    Breeds susceptible to heat stroke in dogs

    Brachycephalic dogs are particularly sensitive to heat due to the shape of their skull affecting the sinuses and consequently affecting the respiratory system.

    Additionally, dogs with thick coats or long hair, and very young or very old dogs are also at a greater risk of heatstroke.

    Furthermore, dogs that are overweight and those with preexisting medical conditions that cause difficulty breathing or heart problems are also at a higher risk for heatstroke.

    Finally, dogs that are extremely active such as working dogs or hunting breeds (such as shepherds, retrievers, and spaniels) are also at a substantially higher risk of heat stroke. It is important for these animals to get appropriate breaks in their workday and have a shady place to be able to retreat to for water and rest.

    Identifying Heat Stroke Symptoms

    Fortunately, heat stroke doesn't just appear out of nowhere. There are a number of signs and symptoms that pet owners should be made aware of. The first major warning sign of heat stroke is excessive panting. If you see your dog panting excessively, take them indoors straight away and make sure they have cool water to drink. If the dog at risk is not tended to immediately, the following symptoms will quickly develop.

    • Increased salivation
    • Excessive drooling
    • Signs of dehydration
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Dizziness
    • Weakness and/or lethargy
    • Increased body temperature (above 103˚ F)
    • A reddened or pale appearance of the gums and moist tissues of the body
    • Bright red tongue
    • Bloodshot eyes
    • Thick, sticky-looking saliva
    • Production of only small amounts of urine/no urine
    • Depression
    • Vomiting blood
    • Diarrhea

    If the heat stroke progresses it can quickly lead to seizures, sudden (acute) kidney failure, cardiac arrest, coma, and death.

    Again, we cannot stress enough just how serious heat stroke is.

    Heat Exhaustion Symptoms 

    Heat exhaustion is essentially a precursor to heat stroke. The symptoms of heat exhaustion include excessive panting, increased heart rate, and a rectal temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

    Heat Stroke in Dogs

    Preventing Heat Stroke in Dogs

    Thankfully, heatstroke can be prevented and should be at all cost. There are a number of things that pet owners should make sure they do and certain things to always avoid.


    Keep Cold Water Available

    Keeping cold water on hand at all times is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to protect your dog from dehydration, heat exhaustion, and consequently heat stroke. Many companies produce great and convenient collapsible bowls. Check them out here!

    These bowls are great for vacations, walks around the neighborhood, and car trips. We recommend purchasing a few of them and making sure that you keep one on hand. Additionally, be sure to make sure you're packing enough cool water. On average, a dog will consume about 1 cup of water per 10 pounds of body weight per day. This is important information in order to plan ahead.

    Ensure Plenty of Shade

    Again, it may seem obvious, but providing plenty of shade is another important way to ensure that your dog has protection from the sun. If your dog spends a fair amount of time outside, make sure that they have a dog house, overhang, sun umbrella, or some sort of structure that will protect them on a summer day.

    Keep Fido Cool

    Additionally, keeping Fido cool in an area of your home is a safe and effective way to prevent them from overheating. A fan or preferably an air-conditioned space can make all the difference. Also, you may want to look into creating a DIY cooling pad for your dog. Pet owners can place ice cubes into a Ziploc bag and then place the Ziploc bag into an old towel or t-shirt. Your pet can safely lay on this t-shirt in order to cool down on a hot summer day.

    A Nice, Cool Towel-Down

    We also recommend keeping a towel on hand when spending time outdoors. The towel can be soaked in cool water and then used to wet down your dog. Additionally, having a spray mist bottle filled with cold water is another great way to ensure that you are keeping your dog's core body temperature at an appropriate level.

    Furthermore, if you’re spending time outdoors buy a water source such as a pool, river, or even sprinklers, encourage your dog to play in the water. Of course, make sure that your dog is safe wherever they are playing.

    Be Aware of Health Issues

    Dog owners should always be aware of their pet's health condition and how it may exacerbate in certain elements. Health conditions start such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and respiratory diseases can often cause heat stroke to develop at a faster rate. Heat stroke is also substantially more dangerous to dogs with health issues. Taking precautionary measures is absolutely imperative. Even something as simple as a neighborhood walk in the summer months can prove to be too strenuous for some dogs with underlying health conditions.

    Double Check the Weather

    Another easy way to ensure that Fido remains safe and happy during the summer months is checking the weather ahead of time before planning an outdoor excursion. Again, be sure to not only check the temperature but the humidity levels as well.

    Additionally, when you're outside, make sure to touch the pavement and see how hot it is. Protecting your dog's paw pads is something that all parents should keep in mind during the hot summer months. You may not realize just how easy it is for paw pads to burn, and trust us when we say that you want to avoid it. Injured paw pads can lead to a multitude of problems including infection, tears, and a long healing process. Make sure that you’re doing everything you can to protect your dog's paw pads from the hot concrete pavement. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t walk on it barefoot, neither should your dog. Pet owners can purchase booties to protect their dog's paw pads during walks in the neighborhood. These are especially important if you live in an area where grassy walking paths aren’t always available.

    Staying Alert = Saving a Life

    We’ve all heard the phrase, “if you see something, say something.“ It can truly save a life. If you see a dog in a hot car and you believe that he is any sort of danger, write down the make and model of the car and the type of dog. Location security and have the information paged over a loudspeaker at wherever you are (grocery store, shopping mall, etc.). If you are unable to find the dog’s owner, a phone call to law enforcement would be the next step. Remember, time is of the essence. Every minute that passes puts Fido in even more danger. Trust your instincts. It can make a world of difference.

    Plan Ahead

    Finally, another easy way to make sure that your dog is staying safe is to plan ahead. If you’re traveling, make sure that Fido is in a well ventilated and safe crate or kennel. When you’re outdoors, always make sure that you have plenty of water and shade. These small things can prove to be the difference between life and death when it comes to heat stroke.

    Protect Your Pup against Heat Stroke in Dogs


    There are also things that pet owners should ensure that they never do in order to protect Fido.

    Leave Fido in the Car

    Never, ever leave your dog in a parked car. We cannot stress this enough. There are no ifs, ands, or buts. It does not matter if you are parked in the shade or only going into the store for a handful of minutes. The car is temperature can quickly reach 140° without air-conditioning. Any length of time in these conditions can prove to be deadly.

    Over Do It With Exercise

    Additionally, keep strenuous exercise and all physical activity short and sweet on hot days. Remember, all dogs can experience heat stroke. However, long-haired dogs and brachycephalic dogs are even more likely to suffer. There’s no need to exercise excessively on hot summer days. While you may think that you are keeping Fido healthy, physical activity in certain conditions can prove to do the exact opposite. Even when your dog is resting outdoors, it’s incredibly important to keep an eye on your dog for signs of heat exhaustion. Walks and play time should either be done in the very early morning or in the late evening when the temperature and the pavement have had a chance to cool off.

    Muzzle the Dog

    As we previously mentioned, dogs expel excess heat by panting. This is why it is so important to never muzzle your dog during hot summer months. Muzzling can prevent their ability to be able to pant and therefore cause dysregulation in their body temperature. In terms of an aggressive dog or a dog with behavioral issues, we recommend not taking them out in public settings when it is extremely hot.

    Stay in Hot Places

    Everyone loves a good beach day. However, in certain areas where heat is reflected and there is no access to appropriate amounts of shade, Fido can be in immediate danger. Again, this is a great time to invest in a sun umbrella in order to ensure that your dog is staying safe and cool.

    Again, we cannot stress enough the importance of having a consistent, cool water source and the necessary tools to make sure that Fido stays hydrated and comfortable.

    Heat Stroke Treatment At Home

    Heat stroke is easily avoidable by following the aforementioned tips and steps. However, if the unfortunate event of a heat stroke, knowing what to do and acting quickly can save your dog's life.

    First and foremost, get the dog indoors immediately. If the dog is unconscious, be sure to avoid getting water in their nose or mouth as it can cause choking and drowning.

    Next, follow the following steps.

    • Put the dog in the bathtub. If a tub isn’t possible, use a shower or shallow basin
    • Run cool* water over the animal, covering their entire body. Pay special attention to the back of the neck and head, making sure these areas are entirely covered. *Ensure the water is cool, not cold. 
    • As you allow the tub to fill with cool water, you'll need to keep the dog's head elevated at all times. This will help prevent aspiration pneumonia.
    • If a bathtub isn't available, find a hose or another water source to cool the dog down. Time is of the essence.
    • Apply a cold pack to the dog's head to lower their core temperature. A cold pack can be something as simple as a package of frozen peas wrapped in a towel.
    • In order to help increase circulation and prevent the risk of shock correlated with hyperthermia, gently massage the dog's legs.
    • Allow the dog to drink as much water as they desire. At this point, the dog has likely lost a crucial amount of minerals due to the dehydration.

    Note: It is imperative that you do not administer any aspirin or other medications. While many people may think that this will help lower the dog’s temperature, it won't. In fact, it will likely lead to further complications.

    During this process, dog owners should be checking the dog for signs of shock. Take the dog's temperature every five minutes and monitor it closely. Continue with the steps above until the dog's temperature drops to around 103˚F. We also don’t want to drop the temperature too low, too fast. It is important to cool the pet but it is also just as important to get your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible.Dizzy Dog because of Heat Stroke

    After Stabilizing Fido 

    Once the dog is stabilized they will need to be taken to the veterinarian immediately. As we previously mentioned, heat stroke can lead to complications such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, and blood clots. Just because the dog's body temperature is back to a normal level doesn't mean you're out of the woods in terms of unforeseen health changes.

    On the way to the vet's office, it is important to maintain Fido's body temperature by keeping a cool, wet towel under the armpits as well as over the neck and between the hind legs. It is entirely possible for the dog's temperature to spike again even after it has been lowered. Avoiding this is extremely important. Additionally, keeping the ear flaps and paw pads cool will also help maintain the body temperature.

    Be sure that the air conditioning is on in the car. Also, it is important to use cool water. We understand that many people might think that cold water will help lower the dog's temperature more quickly, but it can actually be dangerous for your dog in their fragile state.

    What to Expect at the Veterinarian

    When you arrive at the vet office, treatment will be geared towards rehydration and replacing lost minerals.

    In most cases, the vet will administer intravenous fluid therapy and perform blood work. During this time the veterinarian will closely monitor the dog for any complications and changes in their health. These complications include (but are not limited to):

    • Kidney failure
    • Development of neurologic symptoms
    • Abnormal clotting
    • Variations in blood pressure
    • Electrolytes abnormalities

    Again, it is imperative that your dog sees a vet straight away. It's a visit that can save Fido's life.

    Heat Stroke in Dogs: The Bottom Line

    Trust us when we say that we understand how much your dog means to you. At Honest Paws, we are all dog owners and pet lovers. Therefore, we know that you want the very best for your dog and want their lives to be filled with the best memories. However, with that being said, lengthy outdoor events during the summer months can lead to dangerous situations. It is so incredibly important for dog owners to be aware of these possibilities.

    By doing simple things such as always having a cool water source and plenty of shade, you can make sure that your dog is staying safe while enjoying the summer sun. Additionally, knowing when to bring your dog inside and recognizing times that it is likely best to leave Fido at home are equally important.

    Furthermore, if heat stroke unfortunately occurs, it is absolutely paramount to know what to do. Knowing the steps to help your fur baby will likely be the difference between life and death.

    Stay alert. Plan ahead. And enjoy summer safely with Fido.


    Fabiana Pineda

     Jennifer Dempsey, DVM

    Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) 

    She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives. As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  

    Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

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    Previcox: Know The Risks Beforehand

    Previcox: Know The Risks Beforehand

    Recognizing that your beloved four-legged companion is in pain can be one of the worst feelings for a pet owner. You do all that you can to ensure your dog's happiness and well-being. You make sure they get plenty of exercise and feed them the very best, species-appropriate diet. Fido has routine check-ups and you're sure to stay aware of any health changes they may experience. So what went wrong? And moreover, what can you do to relieve (wo)man's best friend from any and all discomfort?

    Regardless of the cause of your dog's pain, a trip to your veterinarian will likely leave you with prescription medication. While we are certainly not negating the absolute importance of conventional drugs, there are a few things that dog owners must be aware of before deciding to administer the new medicine. 

    In this article, we'll cover everything you should know about the pain medication, Previcox. We'll discuss the benefits as well as the potential adverse reactions. Additionally, we hope to shed light on effective, all-natural alternatives that more and more pet owners are choosing to treat their dog's pain and inflammation. Let's get started!

    What is Previcox for Dogs 

    Previcox is a prescription painkiller that veterinarians often recommend for dogs suffering from inflammation and associated distress. It is a chewable, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is typically prescribed to dogs suffering from canine osteoarthritis


    What is Firocoxib | What are Equioxx Tablets for Dogs

    The active ingredient of Previcox (brand name) is firocoxib (generic name). Therefore, the terms Previcox and firocoxib are often used interchangeably. Additionally, the brand name medication Equioxx also contains firocoxib as its active ingredient and is specifically formulated to be used to treat osteoarthritis in horses. Due to the fact that they all share the same active ingredient, one can assume that the positive effects, as well as the negative side effects, are shared by all.

    Furthermore, it is important for pet owners to always be familiar with the other names that veterinarians may use for the same medication. The more you know about a new drug, the better equipped you will be to make the best decision for your pet's well-being.

    Understanding How NSAIDs Work 

    As we previously mentioned, Previcox for dogs is an NSAID, also known as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like some other analgesics, work to relieve inflammation and, therefore, alleviate pain. Typically, veterinarians prescribe NSAIDs to treat and control joint pain and to manage and prevent post-surgical pain. 

    On a scientific level, NSAIDs block the effects of specific enzymes, specifically Cox-1 and Cox-2 enzymes, and reduce the production of prostaglandins. In turn, this reduces the levels of pain and inflammation and fever.

    What is Previcox for Dogs Prescribed For 

    As we previously mentioned, Previcox is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Like most NSAIDs, veterinarians prescribe Previcox in an effort to reduce and manage pain. The source of the dog's pain may vary from one to the next. We'll explain.

    Previcox for Osteoarthritis in Dogs 

    Most often, veterinarians will prescribe Previcox to treat and manage symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs. Arthritis is a general term for irregular changes of the joints. While there are different types of arthritis, osteoarthritis (also called degenerative joint disease) is the most common. The condition affects up to one in five dogs and is typically associated with age. Additionally, osteoarthritis is a progressive disease and is often difficult to detect in its early stages. It can cause the dog to experience severe joint pain, lack of mobility, and ultimately affect their quality of life. 

    Witnessing your dog face the unfortunate truths of aging can be extremely difficult for a pet owner. The fact of the matter is that as your dog gets older, they are at a higher risk of developing a number of health conditions, including osteoarthritis. In order to manage their pain and inflammation, your vet may prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as Previcox.

    Managing Post-Operative Pain and Inflammation 

    Your vet may also prescribe Previcox to manage and prevent inflammation resulting from surgical procedures. We want to note that it is important for pet owners to make sure that their dog isn't being too active after having surgery. Previcox may completely alleviate your dog's pain and they may want to get back to their playful lifestyle. However, it is imperative that they heal entirely in order to prevent the development of additional issues. 

    Previcox Dosage 

    Veterinarians will prescribe an appropriate Previcox dose based on your dog's body weight. The medication is available in either 57mg or 227mg chewable tablets.

    Previcox 57mg

    Dogs weighing between 12.5 and 35 pounds are prescribed the 57mg tablet. Either 1/2 tablet or 1 full tablet will be prescribed, depending on the dog's weight. 

    Previcox 227mg

    Dogs weighing between 36 and 240 pounds are prescribed the 227mg tablet. Again, your dog's exact weight will determine the recommended dose and amount of tablets, ranging between 1/2 tablet to 2 full tablets.

    Benefits of Previcox 

    Before we dive into the risk of Previcox for dogs, we want to note that there are many benefits. Again, we are certainly not negating the importance of conventional medication. Who knows where we would be without it. We do, however, want our readers to be completely aware of both the pros and cons of any new medication before giving it to Fido. 

    Reduces Pain 

    Dogs are notorious for hiding pain. It's instinctual for them. Therefore, if your dog is showing any amount of physical distress, chances are, they are in a great deal of pain. For many pet owners, the idea of eliminating their dog's discomfort is absolutely paramount, and Previcox shows that it can deliver these results. 

    Increases Mobility 

    With your dog experiencing less pain, their mobility will increase. This is in large part due to the anti-inflammatory effects of Previcox. Less inflammation = less pain = the more your dog will be able to freely move around. 

    previcox increases mobility

    Fast Acting

    The chewable tablets are also fast-acting and deliver pain-relieving effects within a very short amount of time. 

    Dangers of Previcox for Dogs  

    With that said, it is essential that dog owners understand the potential risks of a drug like Previcox. Again, only after knowing all of the pros and cons can you truly make the best decision for your dog's health and well-being. 

    Common Side Effects of Previcox for Dogs

    The most common side effects of NSAIDs are related to the gastrointestinal tract, liver and kidneys. However, we don't feel that this makes them something pet owners should simply disregard. The most common side effects of Previcox include: 

    • Vomiting 
    • Diarrhea
    • Abdominal pain and sensitivity 
    • Loss of appetite 
    • Irritated Skin

    previcox can irritate dog skin

    Allergic Reaction & Severe Gastrointestinal Issues 

    Aside from the "common" side effects, there are also a number of clinical signs that can indicate a serious allergic reaction as well as toxicity or overdose

    If you recognize any of the following adverse events, it is imperative that you take your dog to the vet straight away. 

    • Black, tarry stools 
    • Bright red blood in stools
    • Blood in the vomit  
    • Severe skin irritation and/or skin rashes
    • Excessive lethargy and overall weakness
    • Excessive, unexplainable weight loss
    • Changes in urine (frequency, characteristics, and/or amount)
    • Unexplainable bleeding
    • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes, mouth and/or gums)
    • Behavioral changes
    • Seizures

    These adverse reactions are telltale signs of an allergic reaction as well as toxicity. Again, if you recognize any of these signs, do not delay in getting your dog emergency medical attention.

    Risks of All NSAIDs

    When it comes to alleviating pain in both people and dogs, doctors often recommend the use of NSAIDs. Unfortunately, all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs come with a laundry list of potential adverse reactions. For instance, carprofen is another NSAID that many vets prescribe to treat arthritis pain in dogs. Yet, carprofen may have even more severe adverse reactions than Previcox. All NSAIDs are also commonly associated with irreversible damage such as internal bleeding and chronic stomach ulcers. NSAIDs also need to be used cautiously in patients with pre-existing liver and kidney conditions. Again, it is incredibly important for dog owners to be implicitly aware of all risks prior to giving their furry companion a new, potentially harmful medication.  

    Holistic Options

    The potential adverse reactions of a medication like Previcox leave many pet parents wondering, 'so what can I give my dog for pain?' Luckily, we are living in a time where all-natural, holistic medicines are continuing to prove to be incredibly effective alternatives for countless conventional medications. Our favorite alternative is none other than CBD oil for dogs which can help maintain a normal inflammatory response as well as support healthy bones and joints. Other alternative options include acupuncture, adequan injections, glucosamine supplements, and fish oils.

    Preventing Osteoarthritis 

    An essential part of being a responsible dog owner is recognizing when certain health conditions can be avoided. Of course, we aren't able to completely stop the hands of time and prevent the natural aging process from occurring. We can, however, do everything in our power to provide substantial amounts of joint support and help to effectively slow down joint degeneration. 


    Diet, diet, diet! We cannot stress the importance of diet enough. It can truly make a world of difference for your dog. We recommend consulting with your holistic veterinarian regarding any dietary changes that can support your aging dog's joint health. Many holistic experts recommend a species-appropriate, raw food diet which ensures your dog is receiving all of the nutrients they need for optimal health. There are also therapeutic diets that are enriched with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate and omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils). 


    Next, ensuring your dog is receiving appropriate amounts of exercise is paramount for preventing joint degeneration. If your dog tends to be a bit of a couch potato, they may be losing muscle function without you realizing it. Of course, we certainly aren't recommending that you begin training your senior dog for the next marathon. Daily walks are typically plenty to help maintain joint function. 

    Exercise is also important in order to make sure that your pet is at a healthy weight.  The additional pounds can put extra stress and strain on your dog’s joints. This can cause more damage and worsening of the arthritis. Weight loss if recommended if you pet is currently overweight. 

    Glucosamine for Dogs 

    Additionally, you may want to consider implementing a supplement such as glucosamine for dogs. Glucosamine is a compound that naturally occurs in the body. It promotes the growth and repair of cartilage and synovial fluid that ultimately protect the joints. Therefore, implementing a supplement like glucosamine can help improve mechanical joint function, repair current joint damage, and slow the progression of degenerative joint disease. 

    glucosamine for dogs

    Is My Dog in Pain? Recognizing Early Signs of Joint Damage

    Finally, one of the most important things that pet owners can do is be aware of their dog's "normal." Again, dogs are notorious for hiding pain. Therefore, owners must be definitely aware of what is typical behavior for their individual dog in order to recognize when something is wrong. There are several telltale signs that Fido isn't feeling his or her best. 


    The first sign of pain, specifically joint pain, is changes in energy levels. You may find that your once active canine is now spending more time sleeping or laying down. Changes in energy levels are not only a sign of pain, but also a symptom of a slew of health issues. If you notice that your dog isn't quite like their usual self, it's important to figure out why. 

    Behavioral Changes

    One of the most common clinical signs that most owners will notice is that their dog has a harder time getting up from rest. You may also notice difficulty or reluctance to running, jumping, or going up and downstairs. Another obvious sign includes limping or favoring a leg. They may also seem to have a stiff gait or their legs may shake after standing for a while. Other behavioral changes seen with pain may include increased panting, pacing, whining/vocalization, and decreased appetite.   


    Dogs will commonly bite or chew on the area of their body that is in pain. Additionally, dogs may lash out and bite others who are attempting to touch them for fear that it will cause them to experience even more pain. If your dog is typically a sweetie pie and is now nipping when you get near them, it is likely a sign they are in pain. 


    Inflammation can often result in physical swelling around the joints. Whether due to inflammation or disease, swelling is never 'normal' and it is paramount that pet owners figure out what is causing it to develop. 

    The Telltale Tail 

    Another clinical sign of pain can be seen in the way your dog holds their tail. If their tail is typically upright and is now dragging or between their legs, it may be because they are in pain. 


    Finally, your dog's eyes can be very telling when it comes to whether or not they are feeling their best. Dogs in pain will often have bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils. Dogs may also have loopy-looking sick eyes, just like many people do when they aren't feeling well. 

    Bonus! Previcox for Horses

    As an added bonus, we want to briefly discuss Previcox for horses as it is a frequently asked question. As we previously mentioned, the active ingredient in Previcox is firocoxib. Firocoxib is also the active ingredient in a drug called Equioxx. The properties of firocoxib are ultimately what reduces the inflammation and associated pain and lameness.

    Differing the two drugs is that Previcox is labeled for its use in dogs whereas Equioxx is formulated for horses. However, horse owners can attest that the Equioxx medication can be incredibly expensive.

    Previcox: The Bottom Line 

    At the end of the day, we know just how heart wrenching it can be knowing that your dog is in any amount of pain. We wish more than anything that there was a magical pill that could stop your dog's natural aging process and keep them young and lively forever. Sadly, as your playful pup gets older, your pup’s joints do too. While a life of pain is no life to live, we encourage our readers to think twice before starting with a conventional medication such as Previcox. When there are many all-natural, effective, and incredibly safe options available, wouldn't you want to at least give them a try first


    Fabiana Pineda


    Jennifer Dempsey, DVM

    Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) 

    She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives. As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  

    Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

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    Phenobarbital for Dogs: A Definitive Guide

    Phenobarbital for Dogs: A Definitive Guide

    Your four-legged family member means the world to you. Trust us, we get it. At Honest Paws, we are all pet owners and animal lovers. Therefore, we know first hand how impossibly challenging it can be when something is wrong with (wo)man's best friend. Even worse, is experiencing it right before your eyes and knowing there is very little you can do. We're talking about dogs with epilepsy and seizures.

    The first time your dog experiences a convulsion will undoubtedly be an incredibly difficult thing to experience. However, once it's over, the reality of the situation must be addressed. What to do now? There are several extremely important things to know about dog seizures and the associated medication used to treat them. Being armed with knowledge about the potential risks involved is imperative before beginning treatment.

    In this article, we'll cover a popular medication used to treat seizures and epilepsy called phenobarbital. The realities of the drug may surprise you and will likely force you to reconsider whether the risks are worth the reward. We will also explore alternatives to the drug and ways that you can ensure Fido lives a long and happy life, regardless of their epilepsy diagnosis. Let's begin.

    phenobarbital for dogs 

    Understanding Dog Seizures

    Before we jump into discussing all there is to know about phenobarbital, it is important to understand your dog's disorder. Studies show that up to 5% of all dogs suffer from seizures, yet so many owners don't completely know what having an epileptic dog entails. During the postictal phase after a seizure, the pet may also exhibit signs of disorientation, pacing, ataxia, and possible blindness.

    Epilepsy is a term used to describe repeated episodes of seizures.

    What Causes Seizures in Dogs

    Many pet parents wonder if and how they can prevent seizures and epilepsy from developing in the first place. Was it something they could have stopped? The truth is, the majority of seizure disorders are referred to as idiopathic epilepsy. An inherited condition, idiopathic epilepsy is one in which experts are still unsure of the exact cause and origin. It’s a diagnosis of exclusion of other causes for seizures.  The majority of dogs diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy are between 1 to 5 years old.

    In other cases, seizures may develop due to the following conditions:

    • Liver disease
    • Kidney failure
    • Brain trauma
    • Brain tumor
    • Anemia
    •  Infectious diseases
    • Low or high blood sugar
    • Electrolyte problems
    • Stoke
    • Toxins (such as poisoning)

    Diagnostics such as bloodwork, radiographs, ultrasound and MRI scans will be needed to determine the underlying cause of the seizure. 

    Breeds Prone to Seizures

    While seizures can occur in any dog, certain breeds are at a higher risk of the disorder.

    Some common breeds include:

    • Basset Hound
    • Beagle
    • Belgian Tervuren
    • Collie 
    • Cocker Spaniel  
    • Golden Retriever
    • Keeshond 
    • Labrador Retriever
    • Schnauzer 
    • Shetland Sheepdog

    It is extremely important for pet owners to be aware of risks associated with their dog's specific breed. For instance, Great Danes are at higher risks of heart disease and Boston Terriers are more prone to developing glaucoma. Knowing whether or not your dog is at a higher risk of any disorder will ensure that you know the beginning signs of development and can help prevent it from worsening.

    What To Do For An Epileptic Dog

    When your dog is experiencing a seizure, one of the most important things that you can do is make their surroundings as calm and quiet as possible. Also make sure that your pet is safe and away from any potential hazards. Never place your hands near the mouth of a seizing dog as they are unconscious and can bite Seizures do not cause the dog any pain, but loud noises, bright lights, and stress can cause the seizure to worsen as well as cause additional episodes to occur. 

    We also want to mention that as your dog's seizure can be frightening for you to watch, it is equally as troubling for other pets in the house. It is important to make sure that any other pets are kept away from the animal experiencing the seizure as additional barking can stress the dog out and cause more seizures to occur.

    When to Begin Anti-seizure Medications

    According to the American College of Veterinary Internal medicine, therapy should be started for any dog that fits into one of the following categories:

    • Cluster seizures or more than 3 seizures in a 24 hour
    • If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes
    • If the seizure or post-ictal phase is severe
    • If the dog has a history of a brain injury or trauma
    • If there is a visible brain lesion on advanced imaging (such as MRI)
    • Breeds that are known to have difficult seizure control (Australian shepherds, Border collies, German Shepherds, Golden retrievers, Irish setters and Saint Bernards)

    What is Phenobarbital for Dogs

    Now, let's get back on track: Phenobarbital for dogs.

    Phenobarbital for dogs is one of the most commonly prescribed medications to control the frequency and severity of seizures and epilepsy. It is a widely utilized first choice anti-seizure medication as it is effective, easily dosed and reasonably priced. The drug is more widely known by its generic name, but also available in several brand names such as Luminal or Barbita. Phenobarbital can either be used alone or in conjunction with other drugs to better treat epilepsy in dogs. It is available in several different size capsules, tablets, oral liquid, or injectable (for emergencies) forms.

    phenobarbital for dogs vs potassium bromide for dogs

    Understanding How Phenobarbital for Dogs Works

    A seizure occurs due to an unexpected surge in neuron activity in the brain. Phenobarbital works to minimize the severity and frequency of seizures by stabilizing and decreasing neuron activity within the brain. The drug also decreases the neurotransmitter (known as glutamate), which is responsible for nerve stimulation.

    Phenobarbital Uses

    Many conventional drugs serve a wide array of purposes and treat varying diseases all with the same pill. Phenobarbital, however, is primarily only used to treat seizures and epilepsy. In some (relatively) uncommon cases, phenobarbital may be used as a sedative.

    Dosage Of Phenobarbital For Dogs

    The appropriate dosage of Phenobarbital will significantly vary among different breeds of dogs. It is imperative that your veterinarian decides on the accurate dose after considering your dog's weight, the severity of the seizures, and how often they occur.

    In most cases, your vet will direct you to administer Phenobarbital every 12 hours. Typically, the starting dose of Phenobarbital for dogs is around 1 mg per pound of bodyweight.  With all drugs, but particularly with Phenobarbital, it is extremely important that you do not miss a dose as it can cause your dog to have a severe seizure episode. If for any reason you do miss a dose, NEVER double up on the next dose. Give your dog the missed dose as soon as possible and then carry on with the usual routine of another dose every 12 hours.

    Phenobarbital Precautions

    Before we get into the side effects associated with phenobarbital, there are a number of dogs who shouldn't be taking it in the first place. It is imperative that your veterinarian knows absolutely everything when it comes to your dog's health and history in order to know whether or not Phenobarbital is an appropriate medication.

    Dogs Who Should NOT Take Phenobarbital

    If your dog has any of the following health conditions, they should not take phenobarbital:

    Additionally, the following medications have been shown to have drug interactions with phenobarbital.

    • Antihistamines
    • Anticoagulants
    • Beta-adrenergic blocker
    • Corticosteroids
    • Diazepam (along with other central nervous system depressants)
    • Doxycycline
    • Furosemide
    • Griseofulvin
    • Metronidazole
    • Rifampin
    • Theophylline
    • Valproic acid
    • Phenytoin sodium
    • Opiate agonists
    • Phenothiazine
    • Aminophylline
    • Chloramphenicol
    • Quinidine

    Phenobarbital Side Effects in Dogs

    The aforementioned precautions associated with phenobarbital are enough to make anyone want to learn more about this popular medication. However, they aren't the only concerns associated with the drug. The following are the common side effects of phenobarbital for dogs.

    Excessive Hunger & Weight Gain

    A side effect of phenobarbital for dogs that many pet parents have found is excessive hunger. Subsequently, all of the extra food intake can often lead to weight gain, particularly if the medication also alters their normal amount of activity.

    phenobarbital for dogs can cause weight gain

    Excessive Thirst & Urination

    Another common side effect of phenobarbital is excessive thirst and therefore an increased need to go to the bathroom. If you notice that your pup is frequently needing water bowl refills, it's likely a side effect of the medication.


    Phenobarbital can also cause your dog to feel high levels of anxiety and uneasiness. As we touched on, anxiety is the enemy of dogs suffering from seizures and epilepsy as it can cause their seizures to worsen and occur more often.


    The medication can also cause the dog to lose coordination in the hind limbs as well as experience bouts of weakness which inhibit their ability to move freely. This can be seen when initially starting the medication but it generally improves over time. 


    Like people, dogs can also experience bouts of depression. If you notice your dog sleeping more than usual or appearing down in the dumps, the medication may be at fault.


    Similar to the symptoms of depression, the medication can also cause the dog to be very lethargic and appear to have no interest in things they once enjoyed. This side effect is generally transient in nature. However, it may also be a sign that the dosage is too high for your pet.


    Conversely, while some dogs experience high levels of lethargy, some experience the exact opposite: hyperexcitability or agitation. If you find your dog pacing nonstop, acting restless, panting without reason, or being especially vocal, it's likely a side effect of Phenobarbital.

    Liver Damage & Liver Failure/Toxicity

    Long-term use of phenobarbital has been directly linked to liver damage, including scarring in the liver and liver failure. Liver toxicity is also associated with prolonged high phenobarbital levels. It is very important to have your pet’s phenobarbital levels and liver values monitored during therapy. Signs of toxicity, liver damage, and/or liver failure include:

    •     Anorexia/Loss of appetite
    •     Vomiting
    •     Diarrhea and stool changes
    •     Weight loss
    •     Jaundice (yellow coloring of skin and mucous membranes)
    •     Lethargy


    Lastly, in rare cases, phenobarbital has caused anemia to develop. Signs of anemia include pale gums and lethargy. If for any reason you feel that the medication has caused the development of another disease, contact your vet.

    Lessening the Side Effects of Phenobarbital

    As you can see, the side effects of Phenobarbital can be pretty terrible. Therefore, minimizing any side effects that you can is paramount for your dog's health and wellbeing. The best way to do this is to ensure that your vet prescribes the lowest viable dose possible.

    Additionally, it is beyond important for pet owners to have a heightened awareness of the aforementioned side effects. Recognizing a side effect when it first appears and acting appropriately is key to preventing irreversible damage.

    While your pet is on phenobarbital it is important to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for monitoring. Phenobarbital levels are checked after starting the medication to make sure your pet is on an appropriate dosage and then every 6-12 months thereafter. The levels should also be rechecked if there is an increased frequency of seizures or anytime the dose is adjusted.  In addition, your pet’s liver values should also be monitored at the same frequency to catch any early liver changes before they become significant. 

    Anti Seizure Medication Produces Additional Seizures

    Unfortunately, you read that correctly. A major cause of seizures in dogs is the build-up of chemicals and toxicity in the body. The long-term use of anti-seizure medications can flood the body with more toxins than it is able to flush out. On top of that, once the kidney or liver become damaged, even less toxins are able to be passed through the body. Hepatic encephalopathy is a condition that can be seen with severe liver disease. Seizures can then develop due to impaired liver function.

    On the other end, stopping the anti-seizure medication can also lead to the development of additional seizures, some which can be life-threatening. For this reason, it is imperative that dog owners understand the risks involved with beginning an anticonvulsant medication.

    phenobarbital for dogs is best avoided

    Alternatives for Phenobarbital for Dogs

    Now, thankfully there are new conventional, anticonvulsant drugs as well as all-natural alternatives for Phenobarbital for dogs. Before we dive into the options available, we want to stress that by no means are we trying to negate the need for conventional medicine. Some dogs in specific circumstances need Phenobarbital and we know that to be true. However, the medication is being prescribed at an exorbitant rate, many times to pet owners who do not fully understand the risk. The information we just discussed is not to scare you, but to make sure you are informed before making a decision.

    Potassium Bromide

    Potassium bromide is another older commonly prescribed drug that aims to reduce the severity and frequency of seizures. Often times, veterinarians will prescribe both potassium bromide and phenobarbital to be used together. In other cases, particularly in dogs who have a drug-resistance or in those who do not react will to phenobarbital, potassium bromide will be prescribed as a replacement.

    There is only one FDA approved form of potassium bromide (K-BroVet), otherwise it can also be compounded through an approved pharmacy. Side effects may include nausea (which may improve by giving the medication with food), increased drinking and urination and drowsiness. Bromide levels also need to be monitored as a toxicity syndrome can be seen if the blood levels get too high. It can take months for the medication to reach a steady therapeutic blood level, so an additional anti-seizure medication may be needed in the beginning.

    Levetiracetam (Keppra) 

    Levetiracetam (Keppra) is a newer anticonvulsant medication that is now being prescribed to epileptic dogs. Keppra can be used alone or in conjunction with other anticonvulsant drugs. Many pet owners are eager to try the new medication as it allows for a decreased dosage of Phenobarbital and therefore a decreased amount of adverse effects. However, there are still certain risks and potential adverse effects associated with Keppra for dogs including drowsiness, lethargy, behavioral changes, and gastrointestinal upset. 

    The main disadvantage of Keppra is that it usually has to be dosed three times a day for most patients. This means more potential for missed doses and an increase in seizures. There is an extended release formula that can be given twice daily but the tablets cannot be cut, thus it may not be a viable option for smaller pets. Tolerance can also be seen when used long term. In addition, patients with kidney disease may need a dose adjustment.

    Zonisamide (Zonegran)

    Zonisamide is also a newer anti-seizure drug being used in dogs. It is usually prescribed at twice a day and there are blood levels that can be monitored. The starting dose for zonisamide is usually higher for dogs that are also receiving phenobarbital.  The most common side effects include sedation, vomiting and diarrhea. 

    The Power of Food

    Additionally, we want to make sure that our readers never overlook the immense power that diet can have for our pets. For centuries and centuries, food has been used to cure and prevent a number of ailments. While science has certainly progressed, the fact of the matter is, food is still some of the best medicine available. Countless studies prove that a specifically formulated diet can be an absolute game-changer for an epileptic dog. Many experts advocate for a ketogenic diet, or one that is high in fats and low in carbohydrates. 

    A new veterinary therapeutic diet from Purina uses medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) as the fat source, which can add to increased seizure control in conjunction to mediations.  One can also contract a board certified veterinary nutritionist to help formulate a home-cooked diet as another option. Remarkably, a simple dietary change has been shown to significantly reduce the severity and frequency of seizures in dogs.

    Also, diet is also essential for dogs that are presently being treated with conventional anti-seizure medications. We discussed that these drugs are directly tied to kidney damage. Therefore, an exceptionally balanced diet will be paramount in ensuring that the body has enough support to help rebuild and protect the organ from additional damage occurring.


    Finally, experts have found that the use of Chinese medicine such as acupuncture can have positive effects for dogs (and people) suffering from epilepsy. Keeping that in mind, acupuncture works best with strict consistency and may not be an appropriate match for everyone's lifestyle. Either way, the fact that so many pet owners are seeing benefits from alternative healing is something that we can all be grateful for.

    Knowledge is Power 

    The last thing that we want to mention is the importance of staying aware of new breakthroughs in pet wellness. For instance, new studies have found that several flea and tick medications are directly linked to an increase in seizure activity in epileptic dogs. Knowing all there is to know about your dog's condition and how to prevent it from worsening can truly affect your dog's wellbeing and make a difference in their quality of life.

    Phenobarbital for Dogs: The Bottom Line

    When all is said and done, we know that you want the very best for your beloved four-legged family member. With the constant advancements in both conventional and holistic medicine, we truly feel that owners of epileptic dogs have a number of safe, effective options available to them. With that said, as a pet owner, you must ensure that you are doing everything you can to understand your dog's condition and make educated decisions for their wellbeing. In many cases, this may mean forgoing the use of a drug such as Phenobarbital.


    Jennifer Dempsey, DVM

    Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) 

    She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives. As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  

    Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

    Read More
    Atopica for Cats and Dogs: Know The Risk

    Atopica for Cats and Dogs: Know The Risk

    As a doting pet parent, you go above and beyond to ensure your furry companion's health and well-being. From making sure they are on the best diet possible to providing them with plenty of mental and physical stimulation, you try your best to do it all. That's why it can be pretty upsetting when problems inevitably arise. Was there anything you could have done to prevent it? What should you do now? 

    Here at Honest Paws, we believe an essential part of being a responsible pet owner is being able to recognize the early signs of ailments and acting efficiently to resolve it before the condition progresses. One common health issue that arises for many cats and dogs is dermatitis, a skin condition that results from allergen exposure. If your pet develops the condition, your veterinarian may prescribe a medication called Atopica for dogs and cats in order to alleviate their symptoms. 

    However, there are a few incredibly important risks that you should be aware of before treating your pet with Atopica (or any conventional allergy medication). For many pet owners, the potential adverse reactions associated with the medication far outweigh the possible benefits. Let's get to it! 

    What is Atopica | Cyclosporine

    Atopica is a popular brand name for the drug cyclosporine. It is an oral medication that is typically prescribed to treat the symptoms of atopic dermatitis in dogs and cats. It can also be used for other immune system disorders in the body. Throughout the article, we will use the terms interchangeably in an effort to get our readers accustomed to both.Atopica

    What is Dermatitis in Dogs and Cats 

    Now, before we cover everything that you should know about Atopica, it is important to understand exactly what it is used for: the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis is defined as skin inflammation and typically presents as red, inflamed, swollen, and irritated patches of skin. The skin affected by dermatitis may blister, scab, ooze, or flake off. It can be incredibly itchy and painful for your furry companion and may cause them to excessively scratch and lick the area. The chronic inflammation is most commonly caused by environmental allergens that lead to an allergic reaction.

    While dermatitis may not seem like a serious health issue, it can lead to the development of secondary problems. For instance, the constant scratching and itching can ultimately cause the skin to break, bacterial infections to develop, and even permanent scarring. Therefore, understanding the clinical signs of dermatitis and treating the condition appropriately is imperative. 

    Dermatitis & Allergy Symptoms 

    Just like people, cats and dogs can also suffer from allergies and trust us when we say, it's no fun for them. The constant itchiness and irritation are enough to drive them crazy. Therefore, pet owners must ensure they are doing all that they can to prevent and relieve their fur baby's discomfort. Of course, in some cases, dermatitis isn't entirely avoidable. However, by having a thorough understanding of the symptoms, pet owners can treat the skin condition before it worsens. 

    Persistent Itching and Scratching 

    The most common symptoms of dermatitis in dogs and cats are persistent itching and scratching. When dermatitis progresses, these symptoms will not go unnoticed. Owners may also find their pet rubbing against furniture or walls to help ease the itch if their skin irritation is in a hard to reach area. 

    Now, you may be thinking to yourself that itching and scratching doesn't seem like that big of a deal. Unfortunately, they are. You see, the non-stop itching can quickly lead to abrasions and cuts. These open wounds are a breeding ground for the development of bacterial infections, particularly since the itching and licking will continue.

    Atopica helps dog allergies


    This brings us to the next symptom: licking. If you suspect your pet is suffering from dermatitis, be sure to check their fur for wet spots. Licking of the feet and in between the toe pads is a classic sign of atopic dermatitis. Again, while licking may not seem to be a troubling issue, persistent licking often leads to the development of hot spots and sores. Hot spots (pyotraumatic dermatitis) are no laughing matter. They can develop seemingly overnight and some can get quite large and be difficult to treat. 

    Physical Symptoms 

    Additionally, pet owners will likely find physical symptoms of skin irritations such as redness, bumps, rashes, and dry, flaky skin. These symptoms will typically be accompanied by the aforementioned clinical signs of dermatitis. 

    Where to Look for Symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis

    Dermatitis can develop anywhere on the body, but certain areas are more prone to the skin condition. Pet owners may first notice that their dog or cat is scratching their face or licking their paws more than usual. Additional areas to take note of include: 

    • Ears
    • Muzzle
    • Around their eyes
    • In between their toes
    • Underarms
    • Ventral chest and abdomen
    • Groin
    • Perianal region
    • Wrists
    • Ankles

    Causes of Dermatitis in Dogs and Cats

    There are many reasons for animals to itch including parasites, allergies, and infections. One of the most common causes of dermatitis in dogs and cats is exposure to environmental allergens. In order to prevent dermatitis, it is important for pet owners to have an understanding of what may be causing it, and then limit exposure to the initial cause. 

    Environmental (Atopy)

    As we previously mentioned, most cases of dermatitis are a result of environmental allergies. We likely don't have to tell you that cats and dogs are both highly sensitive and can be affected by allergies just like their owners. Most commonly, allergens like mold, pollen (grass, tree, weed, or flower pollen), and dust are the main culprits of environmental allergens. However, they are far from being the only elements that can lead to dermatitis. 

    The skin condition can also develop from the following environmental causes: 

    • Smoke (from cigarettes, fires, etc.)
    • Cleaning products (including many household cleaning products... even the organic ones)
    • Plastic and rubber materials
    • Certain shampoos and soaps
    • Perfumes

      atopica helps cat allergies

      A good way to think of it is that if it's affecting you, it's likely affecting your pet. While not all environmental allergens can be avoided, pet owners can limit exposure, particularly if they pinpoint the exact cause of their pet's irritation. 

      Environmental allergies are usually first noticed between the ages of 1 to 3 years old. They can be seen more during certain times of the year such as spring time when flowers and trees are in bloom. If you are finding yourself needing an allergy medication, be sure to keep a close eye on your pet's skin. 

      Food Allergies 

      Dermatitis can also develop due to food allergies. Food allergies can be one of the most itchy conditions in dogs in cats. The pet’s immune system may see the protein or other substance in the diet as foreign invaders. Food allergies develop over time, so your pet can be allergic to food that they have been on for years. It can be seen in young puppies or in dogs around 5 years of age or older. 

        Itching is usually seen around the face, feet and anal area. Recurrent ear infections may also be a sign of a food allergy. Itching is typically non-seasonal and does not respond to steroids or other medications. About 30% of dogs will also have gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea. 

      Pinpointing your pet's food allergy can be a long, challenging process. With that said, we want to stress that it is entirely worth it. Continuing to feed your cat or dog food that they are allergic to can ultimately result in severe gastrointestinal inflammation and chronic stomach issues. Again, when any health condition can be avoided, it absolutely should be. 

      Flea Allergies 

      Additionally, dermatitis can result from flea allergies. A single flea bite can leave your dog or cat itching for weeks, and fleas rarely only bite once. This form of dermatitis typically causes irritation near the base of the animal's tail, but can develop anywhere. This is yet another cause that can be prevented with the appropriate lifestyle changes. We'll discuss more about prevention shortly. 

      Contact Allergies

      Another cause of dermatitis in dogs and cats is contact exposure to allergens. For instance, certain fabrics can cause an allergic reaction and the development of severe skin irritation. If you notice your cat or dog is itching more than usual, consider whether you have made any changes to the things they come in contact with on a regular basis. Did you change the laundry detergent you use to wash their bedding? Did you switch shampoos? Luckily, once the cause is pinpointed the substance can be avoided. 

      How Does Atopica Work

      Now that you have a solid understanding of what Atopica is formulated to treat, let's dive into how exactly it works. 

      In many cases, allergic reactions are the result of a false alarm. The body is triggered by something it believes to be harmful and reacts accordingly. However, in terms of allergens like grass or blooming flowers, the body is reacting to something that isn't actually a threat. 

      Atopica is an immunosuppressant. In other words, it suppresses the response to these foreign "threats" that aren't actually dangerous. Vets commonly prescribe the medication to relieve symptoms of canine and feline allergic dermatitis. 

      Benefits of Atopica for Cats and Dogs

      Before we cover the risks (and there are many) of Atopica, we want to state that for some pets, the medication certainly has its benefits. Some dogs and cats find significant relief with using Atopica. Additionally, unlike other allergy medications, Atopica is not a steroid and, therefore, doesn't have the associated side effects of steroidal drugs. 

      Cyclosporine Side Effects

      Without knowing the associated side effects of Atopica, it doesn't seem like such a bad choice. Providing relief for your pet's allergic reactions is something that most owners want to sign up for straight away. However, this is where the trouble starts. You see, Atopica comes with a laundry list of potential adverse reactions that many pet owners are unaware of. Once understanding the side effects, many pet owners may feel the potential harm outweighs the benefits. 

      The most common side effect with Atopica is gastrointestinal upset, which may include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. As much as ⅓ of dogs may experience GI upset when beginning this medication. Atopica is meant to be given on an empty stomach for dogs, but it can be given with food initially to diminish these side effects. Other options such as starting at a lower initial dose or freezing the capsules have also been shown to help with nausea and vomiting. 

      Other less common side effects include:

      • Kidney failure
      • Hypertension
      • Weight loss
      • Tremors
      • Headaches
      • Swollen bleeding gums
      • Gingival Hyperplasia (overgrowth of gums)
      • Development of cancer
      • Easy bruising
      • Hearing problems
      • Lethargy and muscle weakness 
      • Yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice)
      • Loss of consciousness
      • Swollen glands
      • Immune suppression
      • Dizziness and lack of coordination
      • Changes in vision

      Liver and kidney toxicity are generally seen at very high concentrations of cyclosporine in the blood. Long term use, especially when given with other immunosuppressants, may predispose the pet to develop cancer. It should not be used in patients with pre-existing liver or kidney disease and cancers. 

      Atopica for Cats and Dogs: Dosage

      Speaking of dosage, it is imperative that pet owners give the exact dose that their vet prescribes. NEVER increase the dosage without consulting with your veterinarian. If the aforementioned side effects can occur with the correct dose, just imagine what can happen if an overdose occurs. 

      Additionally, it is important to not miss a dose. If you do accidentally miss a dosage, be sure to give the medication as soon as you can. However, never double up on a dose! Again, this can cause an immediate overdose. 

      The appropriate Atopica dose will be determined by your veterinarian based on your pet's body weight. It is generally started at once daily for at least a month and then tapered to the lowest effective dose (typically twice a week). It is not for acute allergy flare-ups, but meant to be given long-term. 

      Additional Precautions of Allergy Medicine for Dogs

      First and foremost, every single conventional medication comes with potential adverse reactions. However, when it comes to allergy medications, there are even more precautions to be aware of. Most allergy medications are immune-suppressing. The immune-suppressing effects are how these drugs are able to prevent the body from reacting. However, they also cause the body to increase susceptibility to infection and diseases. Therefore, if you choose to use a conventional allergy medicine, it is imperative to closely monitor your dog's overall health in order to prevent the development of secondary illnesses. As with any long-term medication, monitoring your pet’s blood levels every 6 months is recommended in order to catch any changes in organ function early. 

      Additionally, the following dogs should never be given allergy medications as they can cause irreversible damage: 

      • Breeding dogs
      • Pregnant dogs
      • Lactating dogs

        Atopica is not approved for lactating dogs

        It's no surprise as to why so many dog owners are actively seeking an alternative to drugs like Atopica. The risks are not only scary, but many are irreversible. Sure, your dog may no longer suffer from itchy skin, but are you willing to jeopardize the health of their vital organs? It really makes you think twice. 

        Additional Precautions of Atopica for Cats

        The use of Atopica in cats comes with even more precautions to be aware of. First, Atopica should never be given to cats with a history of malignant disorders, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection, or feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Toxoplasma antibody titers are also recommended prior to starting Atopica, as this infectious organism can encyst subclinically in the muscle and may be reactivated with cyclosporine usage.  Like in dogs, the immune-suppressing effects of Atopica make felines more susceptible to infections and other diseases. The drug also makes cats less responsive to vaccinations and at a higher risk of developing neoplasia.

        Additionally, using Atopica consistently can result in severe weight loss and the development of conditions like hepatic lipidosis. Therefore, regular weigh-ins are a necessary part of overall health monitoring. 

        Furthermore, Atopica can cause even more troubles for cats with pre-existing kidney problems. Therefore, cats with diabetes mellitus or renal insufficiency should not take the drug. It is imperative that your veterinarian has a thorough understanding of your cat's medical history prior to prescribing any medication, but especially one that can have such harsh side effects. 

        Dermatitis Prevention 

        As we previously mentioned, not all dermatitis can be completely prevented, but some forms can be. Whenever possible, pet owners must ensure that they are doing all they can to prevent the skin condition and, therefore, prevent the need for a medication like Atopica. 

        Limiting Exposure to Allergens

        Perhaps the best way to prevent dermatitis is by limiting exposure to environmental allergens. This includes things like smoke, pollen, pesticides, herbicides, and household cleaners. We're not suggesting that you must completely eliminate these things, but even limiting your pet's exposure to them can make a huge difference. 

        Weekly bathing removes allergens from the fur and may be helpful in reducing exposure. Also washing bedding regularly and avoiding stuffed toys can minimize exposure to dust mites. Remove the pet from the area when vacuuming or dusting or when the lawn is being mowed.

        Additionally, it is imperative that pet owners determine whether a food allergy is to blame and make the appropriate dietary changes if so. As we discussed, continued exposure to a food they are allergic to will ultimately cause severe, chronic gastrointestinal inflammation and can lead to secondary health issues. 

        Flea & Tick Preventative

        Next, pet owners should be aware of whether their dog or cat is at risk of fleas and/or tick bites. Talk to your veterinarian regarding whether a flea and tick preventative medication is a necessary step to take to prevent the development of dermatitis. It is also important to not over-medicate and understand whether the medication is only necessary during certain months. 

        Staying Alert 

        Finally, by staying alert and understanding the symptoms of dermatitis, pet owners can prevent the condition from worsening to a stage where a conventional medication may be necessary. Look for signs such as itching, scratching, licking, damp fur, vomiting, and diarrhea. None of these should be considered "normal." It is imperative that the pet owner gets to the bottom of what is causing the symptoms to develop and work to effectively relieve it.

        atopica for dogs and cats

        Atopica for Cats and Dogs: A Final Thought

        When all is said and done, we can all agree that allergies and subsequent allergic reactions are no fun for anyone. Sadly, your fur babies aren't exactly able to tell you that they aren't feeling their best, but their skin can certainly show you. If you recognize that your cat or dog is experiencing chronic atopic dermatitis, try not to panic. There is relief in sight and are several newer forms of treatment (including Apoquel and Cytopoint for dogs) which prove to have positive, effective results. However, we urge our readers to think twice before administering a medication like Atopica. 

        From all of us at Honest Paws, we hope that your fur baby feels better soon! 


        Jennifer Dempsey, DVM

        Dr. Jennifer Dempsey is a small animal veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) 

        She has resided in the Orlando area since graduation and has gained years of experience helping cats and dogs live happier and longer lives. As a general practitioner, she has found client education to be one of the most important aspects of day to day life in veterinary medicine.  

        Medical writing has helped her to connect with a larger audience and make sure that pet owners are fully aware of their loved one’s medical condition.  She currently shares her home with two rescued mixed breed dogs named Primo and Morgan.

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