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JoAnna Pendergrass

JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer.

As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo

Posts by JoAnna Pendergrass

Liver Disease in Dogs: Know The Signs Before It's Too Late

Liver Disease in Dogs: Know The Signs Before It's Too Late

When you think about your dog's vital organs, which ones come to mind? Many pet owners name the heart, brain, and lungs, for good reason.

However, have you ever considered your dog's liver? The liver is another vital organ that is often overlooked but shouldn't be. 

The liver plays vital roles in the dog's body. If it doesn't function properly, many health conditions can develop.

Therefore, dog owners must know how to recognize signs of liver problems. Early detection of liver disease is critical for your four-legged companion’s health and well-being.

In this article, we'll cover lots of things related to liver disease in dogs, including how the liver functions and ways to keep the liver healthy. Let's get started!

liver disease in dogs

What is Liver Disease

Liver disease is relatively common in dogs. It can develop for many reasons, which we will discuss. Let's first take a look at the organ itself.

Where is the Liver Located

The liver is located on the right side of the abdomen, just below the diaphragm.

What Does the Liver Do

The liver is the second-largest organ. It performs approximately 1,500 functions.

Therefore, it's a bit worrisome that the liver is constantly overlooked regarding our dogs health and well-being.

Here are just a few of the incredibly important functions of the liver:

  • Blood detoxification 
  • Activating vitamin D
  • Metabolizing medications
  • Metabolizing sources of energy
  • Eliminating harmful toxins and waste
  • Producing bile acids to help digestion
  • Storing and releasing vitamins and minerals 
  • Regulating hormones (e.g., thyroid hormone)
  • Creating plasma proteins and blood clotting factors

Clearly, proper liver function is essential. Don’t forget this!

Types of Liver Disease

Liver disease is classified as acute or chronic.

Acute Liver Disease

Acute liver disease develops suddenly. Toxicity is the primary cause of acute liver disease in dogs.

Chronic Liver Disease

Chronic liver disease in dogs develops gradually. Its symptoms are often difficult to detect early on.

Diseases such as diabetes and liver cancer are two possible causes of chronic liver disease.

Symptoms of Liver Damage

Early detection of liver disease is paramount. Therefore, pet owners must be familiar with liver disease symptoms.  

Knowing the early signs of liver damage can help dog owners be proactive with getting treatment to repair the liver, or at least slow the progression of liver disease. 

Below are symptoms of early-stage liver damage:

    liver damage symptoms

    Notably, several of these symptoms are non-specific, meaning that they can be symptoms of many ailments other than liver disease.

    Therefore, if your pup has any of these symptoms, talk to your vet and get an accurate diagnosis. It can truly make a world of difference for your canine.

    Liver Disease Symptoms

    Perhaps the most telling sign that liver damage has progressed to liver disease is jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin, gums, and eyes. Jaundice requires veterinary care.

    Additionally, dog owners should be aware of the other symptoms of liver disease, including:

    • Seizures
    • Vomiting
    • Lethargy 
    • Blindness
    • Confusion
    • Weakness
    • Weight loss
    • Appetite loss
    • Blood in urine
    • Blood in feces
    • Increased thirst
    • Excessive drooling
    • Increased urination
    • Blood clotting abnormalities
    • Ataxia (lack of coordination)
    • Fluid retention in the abdomen (ascites)
    • Behavioral changes, including depression

    What Causes Liver Disease in Dogs

    To prevent liver problems in dogs, we first must understand what causes them.

    Although some causes are entirely out of a dog owners hands, others can be prevented.


    Unfortunately, as dogs age, they become more susceptible to a greater number of health issues. Liver disease is more commonly diagnosed in older dogs.

    While pet owners are, sadly, unable to stop the hands of time and keep their dogs young forever, there are certain things that can be done to ensure their liver health. We'll get into that information momentarily!

    Breed Predisposition

    Additionally, some dog breeds have a high risk of developing liver disease. Knowing whether their dog is genetically predisposed to develop liver disease can help a dog owner be proactive about managing the disease.

    Copper Storage Disease 

    Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, and German Shepherds are all prone to copper storage disease.

    This disease causes the dog's body to store copper that ends up accumulating in the liver. If left untreated, the accumulation can cause significant liver damage and disease.

    Hepatic Lipidosis

    Other dog breeds are more prone to hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease. These breeds include several toy breeds like Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, and Fox Terriers.

    The condition occurs when triglycerides accumulate in the liver, leading to liver damage and subsequent liver disease.

    Liver Shunts

    Although liver disease is most often diagnosed in older dogs, puppies can be born with liver shunts (“congenital shunts”). Sometimes, dogs can acquire liver shunts after birth. Liver shunts disrupt blood circulation in the liver and can lead to further liver complications.

    Medications and Chemicals

    Additionally, many conventional, chemically-based medications cause liver disease in dogs. The greater the number of chemicals and toxins in the body, the more difficult it is for the liver to break them down and protect itself from potential harm.

    Unfortunately, dogs are constantly exposed to toxins, some of which are out of our control. However, dog owners do have control over one major contributor: medications.

    Some conventional medications are absolutely necessary. We aren't denying that. However, the amount of medications that pet owners may give to their pups could overwhelm their dog’s liver. 

    Below are medications that, if given at toxic levels, may damage the liver

    • Acetaminophen
    • Deworming medications
    • Heartworm preventatives
    • Flea and tick preventatives

      liver disease in dogs can be caused by toxins

      Environmental Toxins

      Furthermore, dogs are exposed to countless environmental toxins each day. Experts have found a direct correlation between many of these toxins and liver disease in dogs.

      Take a look at the environmental toxins that your dog may come in contact with: 

      • Pollution
      • Heavy metals
      • Processed foods
      • Household cleaners
      • Pesticides and herbicides
      • Fluoride found in drinking water
      • Aflatoxins (a mold produced by many foods)
      • PBDE (a flame retardant found in many pet foods)

      Untreated Diseases

      Untreated or poorly managed diseases, including those listed below, can ultimately lead to liver damage and subsequent liver disease:

      • Diabetes
      • Pancreatic diseases
      • Untreated heartworm disease 
      • Untreated viral and bacterial infections 

      The most common viral disease associated with liver disease is infectious canine hepatitis. Infectious canine hepatitis is a highly contagious liver disease that can be fatal. A vaccine for infectious canine hepatitis is considered to be a “core” vaccine. Core vaccines are required, like the rabies vaccine.

      If you are concerned about your dog's liver function, we recommend asking your veterinarian whether the vaccine may be a smart preventative measure to take. 

      Diagnosing Liver Disease

      Diagnosing liver disease in dogs often requires several tests. First, your veterinarian will perform a physical exam and look for certain signs, like a distended abdomen, jaundice, pale mucous membranes, dehydration, and poor coat quality.

      Dog owners should report any behavioral changes because these symptoms may indicate liver problems. Such behavioral changes include appetite changes, depression, ataxia, and lethargy. 

      Next, your vet will perform a complete blood count and serum biochemistry panel to look for changes in the levels of specific substances that suggest liver damage or liver disease. 

      Additionally, an exam called a serum bile acid concentration test may be recommended to study how the liver is functioning. 

      Your veterinarian will also perform a urinalysis to look for bilirubin or ammonium biurate crystals in the urine. Whether these crystals are in the urine is another indication of liver function. 

      Finally, your veterinarian may recommend a fine needle aspirate (FNA) or biopsy of the liver tissue. An FNA takes a small tissue sample using a special needle, while a biopsy is a larger piece of tissue.

      These procedures will allow the veterinarian to better understand your dog's liver disease and make a more accurate diagnosis and prognosis. 

      High Liver Enzymes: Understanding What it Means

      A serum biochemistry panel lists out several liver enzymes, namely alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and aspartate aminotransferase (AST). If you suspect that your dog has liver problems, your veterinarian will also perform this panel to analyze your dog’s ALT, ALP, and AST levels.

      Elevated liver enzymes indicate inflammation and damage to liver cells. In humans, elevated liver enzymes are commonly associated with the excessive consumption of alcohol. In dogs, the liver enzymes can be affected by constant exposure to toxins and disease.

      Analyzing liver enzyme levels helps vets assess the extent of liver damage. 

      Liver Disease Treatment

      Treatment for liver disease will vary according to disease stage and underlying cause. For instance, acute liver disease caused by toxin consumption is typically treated with fluids, antibiotics, and liver medications.

      With that said, we’ll cover a few general treatment methods.

      Dietary Changes

      Many dogs with liver damage or liver disease benefit from dietary changes. Pet owners must ensure their dog’s diet that is full of vitamins and minerals and free of highly processed and fatty foods


      Supplements such as SAM-E or milk thistle are also beneficial during the dog's recovery period. Many supplements can be used as preventative measures. More on that soon!


      New medications to help regulate liver function may be necessary as the liver recovers. Additionally, pre-existing medications may need to be reevaluated to ensure they aren't causing undue stress on the liver


      Dogs with liver tumors or cysts may need surgery. 

      What is Liver Failure

      End-stage liver disease is considered to be liver failure. Liver failure occurs when liver damage has gone untreated and has progressed to the point of no return.

      When a dog is in liver failure, the only thing their owner can do is make them as comfortable as possible. Sometimes, liver failure can be prevented by knowing the early signs of liver disease and acting quickly to get the necessary veterinary medical treatment.

      However, that's not always the case. 

      Acute Liver Failure

      Acute liver failure occurs when the dog has lost more than 70% of their liver function. It is often caused by consuming toxins or medications that cause irreversible liver damage.

      liver failure symptoms 

      Liver Failure Symptoms

      Liver failure symptoms in dogs are the most severe manifestations of earlier-stage liver disease. To reiterate, these symptoms include: 

      • Ataxia
      • Ascites
      • Vomiting
      • Seizures
      • Lethargy
      • Confusion
      • Blindness
      • Weakness
      • Weight loss
      • Appetite loss
      • Blood clotting
      • Increased thirst
      • Excessive drooling
      • Increased urination
      • Behavioral changes 
      • Blood in urine and feces

      Acute and Chronic Liver Failure Symptoms

      Acute and chronic liver failure share the same symptoms. What differs is how quickly the symptoms develop. For example, acute liver failure symptoms can appear immediately.

      Regarding chronic liver failure, symptoms will gradually worsen. Eventually, chronic liver disease will cause acute symptoms.

      Signs of Liver Cancer

      Liver cancer is uncommon in dogs. However, it’s good to know the signs of liver cancer, which mimic those of liver damage and liver disease. 

      Symptoms of liver cancer include: 

      • Ataxia
      • Seizures
      • Lethargy 
      • Vomiting 
      • Diarrhea 
      • Jaundice 
      • Confusion
      • Weight loss
      • Appetite loss
      • Increased thirst 
      • Blood in urine or feces
      • New odors coming from the dog's mouth, nose, or rear end

      Preventing Liver Problems

      In some cases, liver problems are unavoidable because of genetic predisposition. However, in other cases, pet owners can make specific changes in their dog's life to help avoid liver damage. 

      Avoiding Certain Medications

      One of the most important things a pet owner can do is limit their dog's exposure to toxins.  

      Many all-natural alternatives to medications are available. These holistic alternatives can work just as effectively as conventional medications without the potential adverse reactions and liver damage. 

      Talk to your vet regarding your dog’s vaccination needs. Every dog does not need every available vaccine (that would be a lot of vaccines!). Your vet will know which vaccines are most appropriate for your dog. 

      By having a better understanding of what exactly we are putting in our dogs bodies, we can make the necessary changes to limit liver damage and subsequent liver disease. 

      Yearly Check-Ups

      Again, early prevention is key in ensuring that liver problems are caught long before they progress to liver failure.

      Scheduling yearly check-ups (and not delaying if you notice any changes beforehand) can make a world of difference for your four-legged friend. 

      Prevention Through Diet

      Next, your dog's diet is key to good liver health. Stay away from overly processed foods and fatty foods; these can stress your pup’s liver. If your dog has liver damage or liver disease, ask your vet about dietary changes that can help restore liver function. 

      preventing liver disease in dogs

      Limiting Exposure to Toxins

      Finally, limit your dog's exposure to environmental toxins. Even chemically-based household cleaners can quickly absorb into a dog's body and cause significant damage. 

      Preventing Liver Damage Holistically

      Several holistic treatments can help prevent liver disease in dogs. 


      Glutathione is an antioxidant and a powerful liver detoxifier. It also supports the immune system. 

      Antioxidant Supplements 

      Antioxidant supplements are also available for dogs and can greatly improve your dog's liver function. They can also prevent cell damage caused by free radicals.

      Preventing this cellular damage helps prevent liver damage. One of our favorite antioxidant supplements is astaxanthin. Remarkably, astaxanthin is 6,000 times more potent than vitamin C! 

      Milk Thistle

      Milk thistle is another all-natural supplement that can help protect the liver. It also helps the liver regenerate. 

      Talk to your holistic veterinarian regarding the appropriate dosage and when to use the supplement.

      Milk thistle was once considered something that you could add to your dog's diet each day. It is now recommended solely for cases in which the liver is very stressed.

      milk thistle for dogs

      Diet Diet Diet

      Finally (not to sound like a broken record), DIET IS EVERYTHING! Feeding your dog a high-quality food is one of the best ways to prevent many ailments. This means no processed or fatty foods!

      toxic food for dogs

      Liver Disease in Dogs: A Final Thought

      When all is said and done, we know that your four-legged friend means everything to you. Receiving a scary diagnosis like liver disease can be difficult for pet owners and we are truly sorry if you are going through it right now. 

      Although some cases of liver disease and liver damage cannot be avoided, others can be prevented. Dog owners must understand the early signs of liver problems before these problems progress to irreversible damage.

      Furthermore, if you recognize any signs of liver issues, get your dog the veterinary medical attention that they need right away. Early detection can save your dog's life.


      JoAnna Pendergrass

      JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

      JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. 

      JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. 

      Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!

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      Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

      Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

      Like people, our four-legged friends can also suffer from diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Being able to recognize that your beloved furry companion is suffering from a condition like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is paramount in getting them the treatment they need to make a full recovery. 

      In this article, we'll cover everything you should know about IBD in dogs, including clinical signs, potential causes, and available treatment options. Luckily, there are several all-natural ways to not only alleviate IBD in dogs, but also help prevent it from developing in the first place. Let's get started! 

      Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

      What is IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) 

      Interestingly enough, IBD is not one disease but rather a collection of gastrointestinal diseases. These diseases result in the inflammation of cells in the gastrointestinal tract, especially in the stomach and intestines. When such a degree of inflammation occurs, the cells cause a change within the lining of the digestive tract, thus inhibiting proper food absorption and digestion. Furthermore, IBD also causes a slew of unpleasant side effects that you'll want to relieve your pup of as soon as possible. 

      What Are Inflamed Intestines 

      Let's first cover the concept of inflammation. Many people may not realize the magnitude of trouble that inflammation causes. Yet many diseases in people and our pets have one major thing in common: they start with inflammation. Inflammation is responsible for many health conditions, ranging from mild allergies to aggressive cancer. 

      IBD is no different, and more often than not begins with intestinal inflammation. The inflammation of the cells lining the intestines is typically a result of either injury or infection. 

      This inflammation weakens the intestinal lining, causing it to become increasingly permeable. A permeable intestinal lining (think of it as little holes throughout the lining) allows toxins to leak from the gut into the bloodstream, leading to a number of serious issues. 

      Intestinal Diseases in Dogs 

      There are many intestinal diseases found in both people and dogs, two of the most common being irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and IBD. Some people may use the two terms interchangeably. However, it is important to realize that IBS and IBD are two different conditions, although their symptoms are often quite similar. IBS is commonly diagnosed in people, but rarely in dogs. IBD, on the other hand, is commonly diagnosed in people and in dogs. The main difference between IBD and IBS is that IBD, as its name suggests, involves inflammation and IBS does not.

      Colitis in Dogs 

      Colitis in dogs is a commonly diagnosed form of IBD. The condition develops from inflammation of the large intestine, also known as the colon. A frequent urge to defecate, straining while defecating, and the presence of loose or semi-formed stools are the most prevalent symptoms of the disease. 

      Gastritis in Dogs 

      Gastritis is another type of IBD. It is caused by long-term, chronic inflammation of the stomach. The most prevalent symptoms of canine gastritis are acute vomiting, decreased appetite, and in some cases, weight loss. 

      Again, the central feature of all forms of IBD is inflammation

      Causes of IBD in Dogs 

      The exact cause of IBD in dogs has yet to be pinpointed, even with extensive research on the topic. However, many experts believe that IBD results from the body's defense response to protect the immune system from potential harm. 

      Additionally, there is speculation that the following factors may also cause IBD in dogs. 

      • Genetics 
      • Food allergies*
      • Chronic stress 
      • Immune system abnormalities
      • Bacterial or parasitic infections

      * Experts have linked the following food sources as those most often resulting in IBD: 

      • Additives
      • Milk proteins
      • Preservatives
      • Meat proteins
      • Wheat (gluten)
      • Artificial coloring

        Grains can cause Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

        Dog Breeds at Higher Risk of IBD 

        Interestingly enough, certain dog breeds have a higher risk of developing IBD. These breeds include: 

        • Boxers
        • Basenjis
        • Lundehunds
        • Irish setters
        • French bulldog

          french bulldog have a higher risk of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

          Additionally, veterinarians diagnose IBD more frequently in middle-aged and older dogs than younger dogs. With that being said, IBD can develop in dogs of any breed and of any age. 

          IBD Symptoms 

          The number one way to ensure your dog receives a proper diagnosis and treatment for IBD is to recognize the telltale signs of its development. 

          Symptoms of canine IBD include: 

          • Gas
          • Fatigue
          • Diarrhea
          • Depression
          • Weight loss
          • Loss of appetite 
          • Poor-quality coat
          • Bright red blood in stool
          • Chronic, intermittent vomiting
          • Audible, gurgling abdominal sounds
          • Abdominal pain, often sensitive to the touch

            ibd symptoms

            These symptoms are also found in a number of other gastrointestinal diseases in dogs. As we previously mentioned, colitis will cause diarrhea and abdominal sensitivities. 

            Inflammation of the small intestine (enteritis) often results in vomiting, weight loss, and lethargy. Again, these conditions fall under the IBD "umbrella," largely because inflammation is heavily involved. 

            Diagnosing IBD in Dogs

            To accurately diagnose IBD in your dog, your veterinarian will have to perform several tests, including a complete blood count and a fecal examination. The presence of intestinal parasites (e.g., roundworms), along with the potential for bacterial infections, may warrant more testing. 

            Endoscopic Biopsy 

            Finally, a procedure called an endoscopic biopsy may be necessary to make a final diagnosis. The endoscopic biopsy involves using a small tube with a camera and small forceps to visualize and take samples of gastrointestinal (GI) tract tissue. The camera allows the veterinarian to see where the inflammation is located, and the biopsy helps the veterinarian analyze the inflamed tissue more closely

            Treating IBD in Dogs

            To start off, IBD in dogs is not curable. However, it can be managed. Conventional treatment for IBD in dogs will often begin with an antiparasitic drug like fenbendazole to kill intestinal parasites. Other medications, including  those listed below, will be given next. 

            • Antispasmodic drugs
            • Antidiarrheal medications
            • Antibiotics (e.g., metronidazole)
            • Corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone)
            • Immunosuppressive agents (e.g., azathioprine)

            Additionally, if chronic diarrhea and vomiting have led to a significant fluid loss, intravenous fluids may be necessary to restore adequate hydration and stabilize the dog's system. 

            Warning About Conventional IBD Medications 

            As always, we want our readers to have a full understanding of what is at stake when it comes to treating their beloved four-legged friends. For IBD treatment, many conventional medications provide relief. However, all conventional medications come with a risk of potential adverse side effects. It is imperative that pet owners understand the associated side effects of certain medications before administering them to their dogs. In some cases, the side effects may be significantly worse than the disease they are treating. 

            Natural Treatment for IBD in Dogs 

            Thankfully, there are all-natural treatment options available for dogs suffering from IBD. Some of these treatments may need to be given long-term to prevent IBD from returning. 

            Diet Diet Diet!

            Countless experts agree that the most effective way to treat IBD is through diet. In many cases, IBD is thought to develop due to a food sensitivity. Therefore, pinpointing what is causing the sensitivity and then eliminating it is the most effective way to not only alleviate intestinal inflammation, but also prevent it from recurring

            If your veterinarian determines that your dog has IBD, they may recommend a hypoallergenic food source. For example, if your dog has a gluten sensitivity, a gluten-free diet would be a good choice. Making the necessary dietary changes may be all that a pet parents has to do to relieve their dog's IBD symptoms. 

            Furthermore, many dogs have sensitivities to certain proteins. Let's say that your dog is sensitive to beef. Over time, constantly feeding them beef-based meals can inflame the GI tract and lead to IBD. In this case, it would be good to switch your dog to a diet with an alternative high-quality protein, such as chicken (or even kangaroo!).

            Diarrhea and vomiting should never be considered "normal." It is important for pet owners to recognize when something isn't right with their dog and actively work to address it. Although diarrhea here and there may not seem like a big deal, it can very well be a sign of a food allergy that needs to be resolved

            Veterinarians may also recommend feeding your dog two smaller meals a day instead of one big meal, at least until the inflammation subsides.

            If your dog has IBD, talk to your veterinarian regarding a dietary change that may help. 


            Your veterinarian may also recommend a probiotic supplement that can help maintain a healthy bacterial environment in your dog’s gut. Countless ailments, like IBD, can be alleviated and prevented with something as simple as a healthy gut. In fact, your dog's digestive tract health can affect just about every other process in the body, in one way or another. Adding a probiotic supplement to your dog’s diet may help improve digestion and allow your dog's body to effectively absorb necessary nutrients.

            probiotics for dogs

            Spirulina (Blue-Green Algae)

            Next, you may want to consider adding a veterinary spirulina supplement to your dog's diet. Spirulina is a powerful, all-natural anti-inflammatory supplement that helps alleviate and prevent inflammation in dogs and people. Studies show that spirulina can help your four-legged friend in the following ways: 

            • Fight infections 
            • Alleviate allergies
            • Heal eye infections 
            • Attack free radicals
            • Boost the immune system
            • Stimulate antibody growth
            • Promote skin and coat health
            • Provide a great source of protein 
            • Improve kidney and liver function
            • Reduce and prevent inflammation
            • Support a healthy digestive system
            • Detoxify the body from environmental toxins

            Omega-3 Fatty Acids

            Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids can benefit a dog with IBD. Found in supplements like fish oil, the anti-inflammatory effects of fatty acids are often recommended. We recommend talking to your veterinarian about whether an omega-3 supplement may be able to help your dog, or if a different anti-inflammatory supplement is preferable.

            omega 3 fatty acids for dogs


            The anti-inflammatory effects of boswellia are also known to help dogs with IBD. The herb is also used as a natural pain reliever for many medical conditions. Pet parents can combine boswellia with turmeric. This combination can provide even more relief from IBD-associated symptoms and is useful for dogs experiencing arthritis-related pain. 

            Turmeric for Dogs

            Speaking of which, one of our favorite natural anti-inflammatory supplements is none other than turmeric for dogs. You may be familiar with the yellow-orange-colored spice, as it is used in many recipes. However, you may not be aware of all of its associated health benefits. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and has been used for hundreds of years as a medicinal treatment. However, only recently have pet parents realized the incredible ways that it can benefit Fido. 

            The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin. Funny enough, one study at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas nicknamed curcumin "cure-cumin" after seeing all of the ways that it can help with different health issues. Curcumin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer properties that make it an excellent way to relieve and prevent ailments. 

            Preventing IBD in Dogs 

            We believe that prevention truly is the best medicine. When it comes to IBD in dogs, in many cases, prevention can be difficult because the underlying cause can be impossible to pinpoint. With that being said, dog owners can do certain things to help reduce the chances of the condition developing. Furthermore, once the inflammation is resolved, it is imperative that pet owners do all they can to make sure it doesn't return. 

            The Importance of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

            An anti-inflammatory diet can truly make a huge difference in your dog's life. Again, inflammation is often overlooked and not seen for the incredibly dangerous condition that it is. 

            If you feed your dog a homemade diet, it can be easy to inadvertently feed them a meal that is chock full of ingredients that cause inflammation. For example, processed meats, many kinds of cheese, and refined grains are all major culprits of inflammation. Pet parents need to balance these foods with anti-inflammatory foods, supplements, and herbs to reduce the possibility of IBD. 

            In cases in which a dog already has IBD, specific dietary changes are even more important and necessary. IBD is a condition that can be managed effectively, but only with the necessary adjustments to your dog's diet and lifestyle. 

            Prognosis for IBD in Dogs

            It is important for dog owners to understand that IBD cannot be cured. However, with the appropriate necessary steps and changes, IBD symptoms can be completely managed.  Keeping that in mind, the prognosis of canine IBD is usually very good. However, in severe and untreated cases of IBD can make dogs very ill, thus making an accurate diagnosis and treatment paramount. 

            Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs: A Final Thought 

            At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your furry companion. Trust us, we get it. Here at Honest Paws, we are all dog owners and know how awful it feels seeing your dog suffer. One of the most important things that you can do for a dog with IBD is to be sensitive to their fragile state (and tummy). IBD, even with appropriate treatment, won't simply resolve overnight. Try not to get frustrated. Once a probable cause of IBD is decided upon, pet parents can take the necessary steps to resolve it and get their dog back on their feet. 

            The last important fact that we want to note is that, although IBD is generally not life-threatening and can be managed, it must be managed appropriately. IBD inhibits the body from fully absorbing nutrients from food, which can lead to many health issues if the disease progresses. 

            There is not a simple cure or a magic pill for IBD. However, making the necessary dietary changes and implementing nutritional supplements can help ensure that IBD doesn’t negatively affect a dog’s quality of life. Again, if you feel that your dog may be suffering from IBD, talk to your vet and get your pup the help they need. 







            JoAnna Pendergrass


            JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

            JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. 

            JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. 

            Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!

            Read More
            Degenerative Myelopathy: A Guide To Improving Your Dog’s Quality of Life

            Degenerative Myelopathy: A Guide To Improving Your Dog’s Quality of Life

            Unfortunately, being a pet parent isn't always a walk in the park. Watching your beloved four-legged friend suffer can be impossibly hard for a pet parent and we are so sorry that you're having to go through it. We wish that our pets could live forever and have a life free of any sickness, but, sadly, that's not reality. Many times, diseases develop and leave dog owners wondering how to proceed. Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is one of those diseases. 

            In this article, we will cover everything that dog owners should know regarding DM, including clinical signs of the disease in its varying stages. Additionally, we'll discuss several all natural anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements that you may want to consider implementing into your dog's life. Let's get started. 

            What is DM?

            DM, is a comprehensive medical term that veterinarians use to describe a slowly progressive disease that affects the spinal cord or bone marrow. Many experts compare DM in dogs to Lou Gehrig’s Disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in humans. It's a destructive disease and one that is difficult to watch develop in a loved one of any species. Spinal cord degeneration ultimately leads to a loss of a number of bodily functions and can greatly affect a dog's quality of life. 

            How is the Spinal Cord Affected By DM 

            DM affects the white matter of the spinal cord. The white matter is responsible for sending movement commands from the brain to the limbs and carrying sensory information from the limbs to the brain. The degeneration, taking anywhere from six months to three years, ultimately causes paraplegia (paralysis) in dogs, as the brain cannot transmit the necessary signals to the hind limbs.  

            As you can imagine, the disease can be devastating for a pet parent to witness. With that said, there are ways to ensure that your dog stays healthy and happy for as long as possible. More on that in a moment!

            Degenerative Myelopathy

            Define Degenerate | Degenerative Definition  

            When referring to DM, the term “degenerate” means “to decline or deteriorate physically."

            Define Myelopathy 

            “Myelopathy” is defined as “a disease of the spinal cord.”

            Therefore, the medical term DM specifically refers to a spinal cord disease that causes progressive spinal cord degeneration. 

            DM Meaning  

            The medical abbreviation for degenerative myelopathy is DM. You may hear your vet refer to your dog's condition as DM. 

            Symptoms of DM According to Stage 

            There are three stages of DM: early, intermediate, and advanced. 

            It is important for dog owners to understand that the initial onset of DM is often very slow and can be extremely difficult to detect. On its own, DM doesn't cause the dog any pain. Therefore, pain-related symptoms aren't present until further degeneration develops. 

            Early Stages of DM   

            Early-stage DM typically lasts between three and six months. The associated symptoms typically affect the hind limbs and may start with something as simple as mild difficulty jumping onto the couch. DM can develop in one limb at first, then affect other limbs

            Symptoms of early stage DM include: 

            • Hind limb tremors
            • Knuckling of the toes when walking
            • Loss of hind limb coordination (ataxia)
            • Wobbling or uneasy movement when walking
            • Swaying hindlimbs when dog is standing still
            • Dragging of the rear legs and feet, causing their toenails to wear down
            • Mild hind limb weakness and difficulty in movements (dog owners will notice this sign when the dog squats to the bathroom or attempts to jump into the car)

            Importantly, these symptoms are also those of other health conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other spinal diseases. If you recognize any of these symptoms, it is imperative that you get a proper veterinary diagnosis. These diseases can rapidly worsen without appropriate lifestyle changes and medications. 

            Additional Information Regarding Early Stages 

            In DM’s early stages, you will likely have to modify the amount and type of your dog’s physical activity. With that being said, exercise is extremely important and is one of the crucial ways to prolong hind limb function. Many veterinarians recommend swimming or walking in water to maintain muscle without putting too much stress on the hind limbs. 

            Additionally, pet parents may want to invest in a product that will help their dog move around more easily. Many companies have created harnesses and slings that help support the hind limbs. These tools help the dog transition from lying down to standing up and can also help manage coordination issues. 

            Finally, the constant dragging of the back limbs damages the paws. Dog owners can purchase booties to prevent this from occurring.

            Degenerative Myelopathy symptoms

            Intermediate Stages of Degenerative Myelopathy 

            Intermediate Stages of DM 

            As DM progresses, dog owners will recognize a worsening of the clinical signs of early-stage DM. 

            The symptoms listed below are additional issues that often arise with intermediate stages of DM: 

            • Urinary and fecal incontinence
            • Negative effect on quality of life 
            • Inability to walk without support
            • Extensive paw damage because of dragging 
            • Increased difficulty with standing and laying down 
            • Problems with supporting weight on the hind legs

            Additional Information Regarding Intermediate Stages of DM  

            In the intermediate stages of DM, pet owners should purchase front and rear harnesses that can help with movement. A wheelchair or cart can also allow the dog to move on their own. 

            To maintain muscle mass, exercise will be necessary. Many veterinarians recommend aquatic therapy. 

            Advanced Stages of DM

            Unfortunately, as the devastating disease progresses, the symptoms can rapidly worsen. In most cases, all four limbs will suffer from a great amount of muscle weakness, preventing a dog from standing on their own. The disease can also move to the brainstem and to the cranial nerves causing them to have breathing difficulties. 

            Clinical signs of advanced-stage DM include: 

            • Hindlimb paraplegia 
            • Complete immobility
            • Urinary and fecal incontinence
            • Development of systemic infections
            • Crying out from pain and/or anxiety
            • Development of decubitus ulcers (bedsores)

            Additional Information on the Advanced Stages 

            A forelimb and hindlimb harness will be necessary to move your dog around during the advanced stages of DM. You can also purchase a quadriplegic cart that will allow your dog to still experience the outdoors. 

            Dog owners must be aware of potential infections that can develop during this stage of DM. For example, urinary tract infections are often diagnosed. It is important to know whether your dog is at risk and do what you can to prevent the infections from developing.

            What Causes DM  

            Even with a substantial amount of research done on the topic, the underlying cause of DM in dogs is still relatively unknown. 

            Immune-Mediated Disease

            Many experts believe that DM is an immune-mediated disease, comparable to multiple sclerosis or ALS in humans. In this circumstance, the dog's immune system would see the nervous system as being harmful and therefore attack it; in other words, the body starts attacking itself. The condition is believed to be an inherited neurologic disorder that results from a genetic mutation.  

            Additional Possible Causes for DM in Dogs

            Other potential causes of DM in dogs include: 

            • Inflammation
            • Oxidative stress 
            • Underlying spinal injuries
            • Vitamin E or B12 deficiencies

            Dog Breeds at a High Risk of DM 

            Extensive studies have proved that certain dog breeds, listed below, have a high risk of developing DM. In fact, there are over 40 breeds, including those listed below, that have the defective gene responsible for DM

            • Pug
            • Boxer
            • Briard
            • Samoyed
            • Dalmatian
            • Irish Setter
            • Weimaraner
            • Siberian Husky
            • Great Pyrenees
            • Wire Fox Terrier
            • Miniature Poodle
            • Standard Poodle
            • Golden Retriever
            • Kerry Blue Terrier
            • German Shepherd
            • Rhodesian Ridgeback
            • American Eskimo Dog
            • Bernese Mountain Dog
            • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
            • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
            • Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
            • Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

              breeds most susceptible to Degenerative Myelopathy

              Interestingly enough, when DM was first discovered and given a name, it was called German Shepherd Myelopathy because so many German Shepherds developed this disease. However, with further research, it was determined that DM can exist in other purebreds and mixed breeds of dogs. 

              Age and Sex of Affected Dogs

              In the vast majority of cases, canine DM affects older dogs, typically between eight and fourteen years old. However, the disease has been diagnosed in dogs as young as four years of age. Studies have not proved one sex to have a higher prevalence than the other sex

              Secondary Conditions of Canine DM

              Because of the weakness of the hind limbs, a substantial amount of pressure is inevitably placed on the shoulders, neck, and front limbs. This added weight can cause your dog to experience a considerable amount of pain as the disease progresses. 

              Additional secondary issues include: 

              • Bedsores
              • Skin lesions
              • Muscle loss
              • Weight gain
              • Urinary retention
              • Urinary tract infections

              Pet parents can do certain things to avoid the development of secondary issues. For instance, keeping your dog's hair short will help prevent skin lesions. Turning your dog’s bed regularly or investing in an orthopedic dog bed will help prevent bed sores. Monitoring your pet's weight and staying alert for signs of urinary tract problems are also important.

              What is Spinal Degeneration

              Spinal degeneration can develop as a secondary condition stemming from DM. Spinal degeneration can also be caused by several diseases including intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), spondylosis deformans, and lumbosacral stenosis. 

              Thankfully, spinal degeneration resulting from IVDD, spondylosis deformans, and lumbosacral stenosis can be effectively treated with specific treatment that depends on disease severity. 

              Sadly, spinal degeneration resulting from DM has no cure. For this reason, seeking veterinary intervention at the earliest signs of the disease is imperative. An early diagnosis can truly make a world of difference for your dog. 

              Diagnosing DM in Dogs

              Speaking of diagnosis, let's cover what to expect at your vet's office. 

              Diagnosing DM in dogs isn't as simple as you may think. An accurate diagnosis is often made after eliminating several other potential causes for your dog's symptoms. Your veterinarian will perform specific laboratory tests, including thyroid function tests and tissue biopsies, to look for other signs that would explain your dog’s severe muscle weakness. 

              Then, your vet will conduct imaging tests (magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT), and x-rays) to look for spinal cord damage. Spinal cord fluid will likely be examined to rule out an inflammatory disease within the spinal cord. If your veterinarian does not have advanced imaging equipment, they will refer you to a veterinary facility that can perform an MRI and CT.

              If the results of testing for all other diseases come back negative, a preliminary DM diagnosis will be made. It is preliminary because a true diagnosis can be made only by examining the spinal cord under a microscope. This can be performed only after a dog passes away.

              diagnosing Degenerative Myelopathy in dogs

              DNA Test

              First of all, we just want to say how awesome science is. There is now a DNA test made available by The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals that allows pet owners to have more knowledge about their dog's risk for developing DM. Results of the DNA test can help your veterinarian determine whether your dog is a carrier of the mutated gene, lacks the gene mutation, or is at a high risk of its development. 

              If you are concerned about your dog's risk of developing DM, we recommend talking to your veterinarian regarding whether a DNA test may be an appropriate step to take. 

              Treating DM in Dogs 

              Sadly, there is presently no known cure for DM in dogs. The sole treatment available is supportive care that aims to relieve symptoms and prolong your dog's happy life for as long as possible. 

              Physical Rehabilitation

              There have been several recent studies regarding physical rehabilitation for dogs with DM. Continued research is proving just how beneficial it can be. These studies have reported that dogs with DM who had physical rehabilitation outlived those dogs who didn't have physical rehabilitation. Again, physical rehabilitation is not a cure. Nonetheless, it is proving to make a considerable positive difference for dogs with DM. 

              Assistive Equipment

              As we previously mentioned, assistive equipment can help your dog carry out day-to-day activities, thus improving their overall quality of life. 

              Tools such as harnesses, slings, and wheelchairs can also make a world of difference for pet owners. In many cases, dogs with DM lose mobility within three months. This means their every movement will be up to you carrying them. As you can imagine, assistive equipment can really help, particularly if you have a larger dog.

              managing Degenerative Myelopathy in dogs

              Additional Treatment: The Power of Diet 

              We mentioned the importance of regular exercise and physical therapy. However, many experts feel that the most important form of treatment comes from diet. For dogs with DM, a diet that supports the immune system and controls inflammation is paramount. 

              When it comes to proteins, look for meats with high bioavailability levels. Bioavailability refers to how much of a particular nutrient gets absorbed by the body and used for important bodily functions. High bioavailability indicates better absorption. 

              Next, feed your dog anti-inflammatory foods and herbs (we'll provide a list of some of our favorites to check out). Because dogs do not produce fatty acids naturally, adding in polyunsaturated fatty acids to the diet is very important for a dog with DM. Fatty acids help to maintain a healthy coat and immune system, among other important functions.

              Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Dogs with DM 

              The following foods have anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit a dog with DM: 

              • Kale
              • Beet
              • Apple
              • Beans
              • Chard
              • Celery
              • Carrot
              • Cherry
              • Ginger
              • Pepper
              • Apricot
              • Banana
              • Spinach
              • Broccoli
              • Pumpkin
              • Currants
              • Cabbage
              • Cucumber
              • Sweet potato

                anti inflammatory foods for dogs

                Anti-Inflammatory Herbs for Dogs with DM 

                We also recommend talking to your holistic veterinarian about how anti-inflammatory herbs can benefit your dog. Here are some of our favorites to look into.

                • Burdock
                • Devil's Claw
                • Comfrey
                • Curcumin (Turmeric)
                • White Willow
                • Rosehips
                • Yucca root
                • Yucca leaves
                • Grapeseed extract
                • Dry mustard
                • Yarrow
                • Pine Bark
                • Ginseng
                • Gingko leaves
                • Chamomile
                • Bromelain 

                Degenerative Myelopathy: A Final Thought

                For dogs with DM, the most important thing a pet parent can do is fill their dog’s remaining time with as much love and comfort as possible. By providing appropriate physical therapy and exercise and adding all-natural forms of anti-inflammatory supplements to their dog’s diet, pet owners can also help prolong their dog's mobility.  

                Trust us when we say that we know how devastating a DM diagnosis can be. It can truly turn your world upside down. However, knowing as much about the disease as possible can alleviate a lot of the anxiety associated with the unknown possibilities. We hope that we were able to help you along in this journey.












                JoAnna Pendergrass

                JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

                JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. 

                JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. 

                Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!

                Read More
                Cat Constipation: The Ultimate Pain in the Butt

                Cat Constipation: The Ultimate Pain in the Butt

                At one point or another, most of us have experienced the uncomfortable reality of constipation. When it comes to gastrointestinal (GI) upset, our cats are no different. It is entirely possible for your feline friend to be constipated, and it's not something that should be ignored.

                In this article, we'll cover the tough (pun intended) reality of cat constipation, including what causes it, what it may mean, how to treat it, and how to prevent it from happening again. Let's get to it!

                cat constipation

                Feeling Constipated... What Exactly Is It?

                A cat’s constipation can often be overlooked. You may not initially realize that your beloved feline can’t poop. Constipation is difficult or infrequent bowel movements. Typically, cats should have at least one bowel movement each day. Bowel movements remove toxins from the body and help maintain optimal overall health. However, when constipation hits, a cat will often go for days without a bowel movement. As you can imagine, constipation can cause a lot of GI upset and lead to serious conditions, which we’ll get to.

                What is Obstipation 

                If the GI issues don’t resolve on their own ( they usually don't), your veterinarian may describe your cat's constipation as obstipation. Obstipation is severe, intractable constipation that occurs when a cat cannot clear the mass of dry, hard feces that has been accumulating in the colon. Obstipation can lead to a complete blockage of the colon with feces, ultimately resulting in loss of colonic motility.

                Symptoms of Constipation: The Signs To Know!

                Constipation has many clinical signs of which cat owners should be aware. The sooner your recognize your cat’s constipation, the quicker you can get your cat some relief.

                Straining to Defecate

                A telltale sign of constipation is straining to defecate. If your constipated cat can push any feces out, the amount is very small. Pooping should never be a challenge for your feline friend, so take note when pooping becomes a challenge.

                Crying Out in Pain

                Crying out in pain often accompanies straining to defecate. Like dogs, cats are notorious for hiding pain. Therefore, if your cat vocalizes when trying to use the bathroom, you can be sure that something is very wrong.

                Characteristics of Stool

                If your cat is straining to defecate or crying out in pain when using the bathroom, investigate further and determine whether they are passing any fecal matter. Typically, constipated cats will have small, hard, and dry stools that may also be covered in blood or mucous.

                Frequent Trips to the Litter Box Without Defecating

                Constipated cats make frequent trips to the litter box but cannot relieve themselves. If your cat is going to the litter box more frequently than usual, determine whether they are actually constipation

                Signs of Abdominal Pain

                Cat constipation often causes severe abdominal pain. Even the friendliest of cats may hide when company comes over for fear that any additional touching or playing may cause more pain.

                Appetite Loss

                A constipated cat will likely skip out on meals because of their moderate to severe stomach pain. Keep a close eye on your cat’s food consumption. 

                Weight Loss

                In a constipated cat, weight loss may be caused by reduced appetite, reduced water intake, or both. Dehydration can quickly make a cat quite ill, so pay close attention to how much water your cat is drinking

                Lethargy or Excessive Laziness

                If you’re constipated, you probably don’t want to move around much. The same goes for constipated cats. Lethargy and laziness are tricky symptoms for pet parents to notice, though, because cats can be couch potatoes and love their naps. However, if your typically playful cat has recently been retreating to their bed more often than usual, they may be constipated.


                Constipation can also cause vomiting, particularly if the constipation is severe. 

                Lack of Grooming

                Finally, if your cat is spending less time grooming themselves, they may be constipated. Cats are known to be quite the cleaners. A lack of grooming indicates that a cat isn’t feeling their best.

                cat constipation

                Non-Specific Symptoms

                Many cat constipation symptoms are nonspecific, meaning that they can also be found with other health conditions. For example, changes in cat stool can also be a sign of a food allergy and intestinal parasites. Weight loss is also a sign of depression and cancer. Therefore, cat owners must seek accurate answers from their veterinarian for any symptoms their cat is experiencing.

                What Causes Constipation

                After recognizing that your cat is constipated, you’ll need to figure out why. Determining the ‘why’ will help you treat the constipation and prevent it from recurring.


                Dehydration is a symptom and cause of constipation. This is a fairly easy fix. Pet owners should make sure that their furbaby always has free access to a fresh, clean water source. Again, untreated dehydration can make cats very ill very quickly.

                Low-Fiber Diet

                Too little dietary fiber can also cause cat constipation. Take a look at the fiber content in your cat’s food and talk with your veterinarian about how much fiber your cat needs. Dietary fiber is especially beneficial for cats who are prone to chronic constipation. Pet owners can easily incorporate fiber into their feline's diet by adding cat-approved fruits and veggies into their cat’s food.  

                Ingestion of Foreign Objects

                If your cat accidentally swallows a foreign object like cloth or string, the object can obstruct the small intestine and colon. This blockage causes constipation because the object prevents feces from passing through.

                Obstruction of the Colon

                Colonic obstruction may result from ingesting a foreign object, or have other causes like a hernia, tumor, or primary intestinal obstruction. As you can imagine, these other causes of constipation are quite complicated.

                Ingesting Hairballs

                Most cats are known for keeping their fur in pristine condition. However, excessive grooming can result in ingesting large amounts of fur, quickly leading to constipation. 

                Side Effect of Medication

                For people, certain medications, like opioids, can cause constipation; this can happen in cats, too. Sometimes, particularly in emergency situations, medication must be administered without much time to prepare. However, if your cat has a planned surgery or you know that they need a specific medication that causes constipation, you can plan ahead to prevent the constipation, for example by adding in a fiber supplement. (More on supplements in a moment!)

                Prostate Inflammation and Abscessation

                In male cats, prostate problems like inflammation or an abscess (pus-filled sac) can cause constipation. An enlarged prostate caused by inflammation or an abscess can press against the intestines, preventing feces from passing through, thus causing constipation. Your veterinarian would be able to examine your cat’s prostate to determine if it’s enlarged and causing GI problems. 

                Painful Defecation

                Painful defecation, while a symptom of constipation, may also be a symptom of other pain conditions like arthritis or a pelvic fracture. Painful defecation can make a cat avoid using the bathroom, resulting in constipation or worsening GI issues.

                Orthopedic Problems or Neurologic Disorders

                Orthopedic problems (e.g.,arthritis) and neurological disorders (e.g., spinal nerve dysfunction) can also cause cat constipation. This is another example of how constipation may be a telltale sign of a serious health condition.


                Obesity, quite honestly, makes everything more difficult. Obese cats have trouble squatting to defecate, increasing the risk of constipation.

                fat cat constipation

                Feline Megacolon

                Finally, feline megacolon can either be a cause or result of constipation. Sometimes, a neurological problem causes the colon to stop contracting, causing feces to accumulate, leading to constipation. Other times, constipation from another cause (like those listed above), causes the colon to distend with feces; too much distension literally stretches the colon and keeps it from contracting to push the feces through. Megacolon often requires surgical treatment.  

                Home Remedies for Constipation

                Before we dive into at-home remedies for cat constipation, we want to reiterate that determining constipation’s cause must come first. Simply treating the constipation is like putting a band-aid on an open wound: if the underlying cause isn't addressed, the wound won’t get better and will probably worsen.

                Consult with your veterinarian before trying these remedies. If your cat has swallowed a foreign object that’s gotten lodged in the intestines, some of these remedies may not work, or may make matters worse, without the foreign object being removed.

                Increase in Water Consumption

                Correcting dehydration is one of the easiest at-home remedies but must be managed appropriately. Cat owners should ensure that their feline friend has plenty of clean water and encourage them to drink whenever possible. However, do not force your cat to drink when it doesn’t want to; forcing a cat to drink could lead to an aversion to the water bowl, making dehydration that much harder to correct.

                Work with your veterinarian to come up with a rehydration plan. Your veterinarian can assess your cat’s dehydration and determine how much water your cat needs to drink to become rehydrated.

                Be aware that severely dehydrated cats need veterinary treatment with intravenous fluids to correct the dehydration. 

                Stool Softener

                Your vet may recommend purchasing a cat-specific stool softener to help get things moving. Ask your vet for a list of appropriate stool softeners and the recommended dose for your cat's needs.


                Like humans, cats sometimes need a laxative to relieve constipation. Many pet parents have found success with Miralax, a supplement you may already have in your cabinet. Mix 1/4 tsp of Miralax with your cat’s wet or dry food. Again, consult with your vet for the appropriate dosage for your cat.


                Pumpkin is another great supplement that helps relieve constipation in cats. It also helps with feline obesity because it adds bulk to the diet and leaves cats feeling more satisfied without overeating. Make sure to purchase canned pumpkin, not canned pumpkin pie filling. Also, ensure that the canned pumpkin is pure pumpkin without any added sugars or salt. 

                Talk with your vet about how much canned pumpkin to give your cat.

                pumpkin for cats


                Your vet may also recommend adding the fiber supplement Metamucil to your cat's diet. Mix 1 to 4 teaspoons into your cat’s food every 12 to 24 hours.

                High-Fiber Diet

                A veterinarian-prescribed high-fiber diet is another at-home remedy. It’s most often recommended for chronic constipation cases. Before a veterinarian prescribes a high-fiber diet, they will probably recommend increasing water intake or administering a laxative. 

                Increase in Exercise

                Increasing your cat's exercise can get things moving through the digestive tract. Consider purchasing a product such as a cat tree, along with interactive cat toys, to enrich your cat’s life and provide a fun, active source of entertainment.

                Constipation Remedy: Veterinary Intervention 

                Veterinary treatment will be needed if the at-home remedies are not successful, the constipation is too severe, or obstipation occurs.


                Your vet may prescribe a medication to improve large intestinal motility, allowing the colon to contract properly and move the accumulated fecal matter through. Before prescribing this type of medication, your vet will make sure there is no foreign object stuck in the intestines; increasing the motility when there’s blockage by a foreign object could make matters much worse for your cat. 

                Manual Evacuation of the Bowels

                In some cases, the blockage or damage to the colon is so extreme that the muscles are unable to contract, even with medication; this is what happens with megacolon In these cases, your veterinarian may manually evacuate the bowels during surgery.


                In severe cases, surgery is needed to remove a bowel obstruction or manually remove accumulated feces


                Finally, your veterinarian may perform an enema to relieve cat constipation. Do NOT try this at home!! Some over-the-counter enemas contain ingredients that can be highly toxic for cats. When it comes to this procedure, let your vet take the reins.

                Additional Constipation Treatment: Natural & Effective

                Some cat owners use acupuncture to help manage their chronic constipation; this can work on cats too. Acupuncture works best with consistency and therefore may not be the best option for some cats. However, it is comforting to know that there are alternative, natural options available. 

                Cats Prone to Constipation

                Older cats are more susceptible to experiencing difficult or infrequent bowel movements. With that being said, any cat at any age may suffer from constipation. If you have an older cat, monitor their bowel movements, encourage water intake, and schedule regular, daily playtimes

                Cat Constipation: A Telltale Sign of Other Issues 

                We cannot stress enough the importance of fully investigating why your cat has constipation. Cat constipation can be a telling symptom of such serious issues as pelvic injuries or osteoarthritis.

                Preventing Cat Constipation

                Preventing constipation is often easy, as long as you know why constipation develops in the first place. Here are some prevention strategies:

                • Provide free access to fresh, clean water. 
                • Feed a high-quality food that is chock full of nutrients that support a healthy digestive tract. 
                • Brush your cat regularly to help prevent hairballs.

                Of course, not all causes of constipation, such as a prostate abscess, can be easily prevented. Prevent the causes that you can.

                Untreated Cat Constipation: A Serious Issue for Your Feline

                Untreated cat constipation can lead to obstipation and, in severe cases, megacolon. Again, cat constipation is nothing to shrug about. The condition must be treated appropriately and promptly.cbd for cats

                CBD for Gastrointestinal Issues

                CBD for GI Issues

                Many health conditions have inflammation as their root problem. Inflammation in the digestive tract, particularly the colon, contributes to constipation in cats. Many cat owners wonder if they can do anything else to prevent inflammation and its subsequent health problems. We're here to tell you that there is a way and it's a lot easier than you may imagine.

                CBD promotes digestive and overall health in cats and dogs. Talk to your veterinarian about using a CBD supplement with other natural treatments like canned pumpkin to treat your cat’s constipation.

                Cat Constipation: The Bottom Line

                At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your feline friend. When it comes to GI issues, most of us can empathize with just how awful constipation’s aches and pains can be. By now, we’re sounding like a broken record: figuring out what’s causing constipation must come first. After that, cat owners can work with their veterinarian to relieve their cat’s constipation and prevent recurrences. From all of us at Honest Paws, we truly hope your beloved four-legged companion feels better soon!






                JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

                JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. 

                JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. 

                Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!

                Read More
                Cat Diarrhea: A Definitive Guide To Treatment

                Cat Diarrhea: A Definitive Guide To Treatment

                If you're reading this article, you're likely dealing with quite a mess. Diarrhea is no fun for anyone. Unfortunately, it can also affect your feline companion.

                Although cat diarrhea can be a nightmare for a pet parent to have to constantly clean up, it can also be a telltale sign that your kitty may be a little unwell or have a more severe condition needing medical attention.

                In this article, we will cover reasons why your cat may be suffering from diarrhea, and how to treat and prevent it. Don't panic, there is hope. Let's get started!

                cat diarrhea

                What is Diarrhea

                You've likely experienced a bout of diarrhea at some point in your life. Diarrhea is characterized as unformed or loose stools. It can occur suddenly and end quickly (acute diarrhea), or last weeks to months and occur intermittently (chronic diarrhea). These two types of diarrhea have different causes and treatments.

                Cat owners should understand that diarrhea is not a disease but rather a symptom of many different diseases. It is a non-specific symptom, meaning that it is common and typically accompanied by other clinical signs that vets use to make an accurate diagnosis.

                It is unusual for diarrhea to be the sole symptom.

                Typically, one episode of diarrhea isn't a cause for alarm. However, if diarrhea occurs regularly, it's not something that should be ignored.

                What Causes Diarrhea

                People typically associate diarrhea with a stomach bug or food poisoning. However, there are many causes of diarrhea.

                Identifying what’s causing your cat’s diarrhea is the first step in figuring out how to stop it.

                Understanding the reason for diarrhea will also help pet parents prevent it from happening again.

                Dietary Changes

                A common reason for diarrhea is a change in diet. Many pet owners know what it's like to have a picky eater on their hands. Your furry companion may absolutely adore their food for a handful of months, then suddenly begin turning their noses up at dinnertime.

                As a doting cat parent, you want your feline to enjoy delicious and nutritious food, so you make a quick switch to a new food option. Boom. Diarrhea.

                Consider switching up your cat's food. This may help reduce gastrointestinal (GI) tract inflammation and help prevent diarrhea, cat vomiting, and many other unpleasant symptoms.

                However, it is imperative to go slowly when transitioning to a new food. Gradually replace small portions of the existing food with the new food. The last thing you want to do is make the switch to great, new food at the expense of upsetting your cat's fragile stomach in the process.

                Low-Quality Food

                A lot of commercial pet foods are rendered ingredients, which are ingredients that don’t enter the human food chain. This makes sense to some pet owners until you begin to consider what these ingredients actually are.

                Cat food can contain rendered ingredients like bird feathers and beaks, animal skin, hooves, eyes, and heads. These ingredients, which are protein sources, are processed to remove harmful bacteria before they are added to pet food. However, they may upset a cat’s stomach.

                We recommend looking into human-grade cat food, which is, at least by definition, edible for humans. It is especially good if your feline friend has a weak stomach or is having digestive issues. Be aware, though, that human-grade cat foods are not necessarily nutritionally complete or balanced. Look for a human-grade cat food that has the AAFCO label that verifies that the food meets minimal nutritional requirements for cats.

                Additionally, many holistic vets recommend feeding a raw food diet when possible. Talk to your vet and make sure that you are feeding your cat the best food you can that meets your cat’s nutritional needs. It can truly make a world of a difference for your furry friend.

                Food Intolerances & Food Allergies

                Food intolerances and food allergies can also cause diarrhea in cats. Pet parents may not realize that, like people, their feline can develop allergies.

                In many cases, food intolerances and food allergies is at the root of chronic diarrhea, which occurs intermittently over long periods of time.

                Interestingly, allergies in cats can develop when the cat is fed the same food for too long.

                Feeding your feline the same protein every day (even if it is high-quality) may, over time, cause gut inflammation and lead to food allergies. Finding new ways to switch up your cat's food is a wonderful way to prevent GI inflammation, thus preventing allergies and cat diarrhea.

                A telltale sign that your cat may have allergies is overall good health, except for the allergy.

                Are your cat's energy levels normal? Is your cat at a healthy weight? Does diarrhea occur intermittently without a major life change?

                You may want to consider the possibility of food allergies and switch their food. Again, make this change gradually!

                Milk - A Common Misconception

                We have all seen the adorable photos and videos of tiny kittens lapping up every last drop of milk from their bowls. In fact, most mammals love a heaping of milk when offered.

                However, the milk must be from the same species. Cats don't have the enzymes necessary to break down the milk sugars found in cow's milk. Feeding cats the milk of other animals puts them at a high risk of developing secondary GI issues like vomiting and diarrhea.

                can cats drink milk

                Eating Spoiled Food

                Some cats (and many dogs) will eat just about anything they can get their paws on. If your cat gets into the trash and feasts on spoiled food, you'll likely find diarrhea and vomiting shortly thereafter.

                Luckily, this acute diarrhea typically resolves fairly quickly and is easily preventable. Keeping spoiled food and other inedible items out of your cat's reach is an easy way to ensure that your kitty's digestive system stays healthy.

                Bacterial or Viral Infection

                Food aside, there are many reasons why your cat may be suffering from diarrhea, including bacterial and viral infections. People often refer to these infections as a simple stomach bug. In cats, though, the infections can potentially be far from simple.

                Bacterial and viral infections of the GI tract can cause your cat to experience severe diarrhea and vomiting, both of which can lead to extreme weight loss and dehydration.

                Acute diarrhea is often an indicator of bacterial overload in a cat's small intestine.

                Although some bacterial infections may clear up on their own in about a week's time, you must keep a close eye on your cat and seek veterinary treatment if necessary. Other GI infections will resolve only with appropriate medication, such as antibiotics

                Furthermore, preventing the underlying cause of the bacterial or viral infection is essential. Again, remember that diarrhea is merely a symptom. The root of the problem must be treated appropriately to ensure the infection doesn't resurface.

                Internal Parasites

                Cat diarrhea is also a symptom of intestinal parasites, which enter a cat's body and intestinal tract through infected feces and contaminated water and food sources.

                Although diarrhea due to intestinal parasites is typically acute and short-lasting, the damage can be quite severe if the diarrhea is inappropriately treated. 

                Unfortunately, the symptoms of an internal parasite infection, including vomiting, anemia, and diarrhea, can make cats more susceptible to other infections. Kittens are especially susceptible to intestinal parasites, making prevention paramount

                Here’s a troubling fact: some intestinal parasites, like Toxoplasma, can be passed from a cat to their owner.

                A veterinarian diagnoses an intestinal parasite infection by looking for the parasites in a fecal sample. If your cat has intestinal parasites, proper medical attention is need to clear the infection.

                Internal parasites include:

                  • Giardia
                  • Coccidia
                  • Hookworms
                  • Tapeworms
                  • Whipworms
              • Toxoplasma
              • Roundworms
              • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

                When you track most ailments back to the root of the condition, you will likely find one thing in common: inflammation. IBD is no different.

                IBD includes conditions such as gastritis, pancreatitis, enteritis, and colitis. These conditions also affect people, with similar symptoms.

                Chronic inflammation and diarrhea are much more serious than they may sound. The conditions included under the IBD "umbrella" have potential links to severe disease. 

                It is critical for pet parents to receive an accurate, timely diagnosis if their cat is experiencing chronic diarrhea.

                Chronic diarrhea may subside initially but come back later down the road, with the potential to develop into something much more serious.

                Kidney or Liver Disease

                You probably already know the importance of the liver and kidneys. These detoxifying organs are essential for your cat’s health.

                When there’s something wrong with the liver or kidneys, diarrhea may be one of the first symptoms that develop. However, your vet will not be able to diagnose liver or kidney dysfunction only on the presence of diarrhea.

                Other tests will have to be administered to check liver and kidney function. With kidney or liver disease, a timely diagnosis is of utmost importance to slow down, or even stop, disease progression.

                Conventional Medications

                Knowing your cat isn't feeling well, whatever the reason, can be heart wrenching for a pet owner. Many times, a quick trip to the vet's office will leave you with a handful of medications to treat whatever is ailing your cat.

                Unfortunately, conventional medications can have many potential side effects, including diarrhea.

                If the medical condition for which the medication is prescribed is chronic, speak with your vet regarding alternative treatments that don't cause diarrhea. Again, chronic diarrhea comes with its own share of possible side effects that you'll want to avoid.

                Addison's Disease

                Addison's disease, which is characterized by deficient adrenal gland hormones, is rare in cats. When it does develop in cats, though, it can cause diarrhea.

                The disease is treatable but only when properly diagnosed.

                Chemicals and Toxins

                Finally, ingesting chemicals or toxins can cause diarrhea in cats. This diarrhea can be either chronic or acute, depending on what type of poisoning the cat is experiencing.

                cat diarrhea can happen if your cat ingests poison

                Acute Diarrhea From Poisoning

                For example, acute diarrhea will often occur when the cat ingests something poisonous, like a toxic houseplant. Cats can be very curious creatures. If you have a cat, you must know which plants are poisonous and avoid bringing them into the house.

                Even plants that aren't specifically known to be poisonous can still do a substantial amount of damage to your cat's stomach.

                If your feline friend enjoys getting into your plants, consider purchasing wheatgrass (cat grass), which is not only safe but also very nutritious

                Additionally, the chemicals in herbicides, pesticides, and many household cleaners can cause acute diarrhea and vomiting if consumed. Your cat doesn't need to ingest a lot of these chemically-based substances to become gravely ill.

                If, for any reason, you think that your cat may have consumed these products, we urge you to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 1-888-426-4435. Follow their guidelines for what to do next.

                A vet visit will likely be necessary to ensure your cat’s body is cleared of the poisonous substance.

                Chronic Diarrhea from Poisoning

                Your cat may have chronic diarrhea that is caused by an ongoing poisoning, such as lead toxicosis.

                We cannot stress enough how important it is to identify the underlying cause of chronic diarrhea. In cases of lead poisoning, it's likely that the pet owner and other family members are also be affected, perhaps unknowingly.

                Diarrhea Symptoms

                You probably have a good idea of whether your cat has diarrhea. Cat owners can look for other symptoms if they are unsure.

                Diarrhea symptoms include:

                • Fever
                • Vomiting
                • Lethargy
                • Weakness
                • Depression
                • Weight loss
                • Watery feces
                • Abdominal pain
                • Bathroom accidents
                • Straining to defecate
                • Increased fecal amount
                • Blood or mucus in feces

                Monitor your cat for these clinical signs. Be sure to write down any irregularities and report them to your vet.

                The more information you provide your veterinarian, the faster and more accurately they will be able to diagnose why your cat is experiencing diarrhea.

                When to Go to the Vet

                There are a few things that pet owners should consider when deciding if it's time for a vet visit.

                First, what is the general condition of your cat's health? Is your cat very young or old? Do they have any preexisting health conditions that will make them more susceptible to dehydration or other illnesses?

                Next, is your cat experiencing any other worrisome symptoms, such as vomiting, lethargy, depression, or pain?

                Additionally, how often are the bouts of diarrhea? Is the diarrhea extremely watery? 

                Finally, what does your cat's diarrhea look like? Is it the color of normal, healthy feces or is it black and tarry? Black and tarry feces often points to internal bleeding, which must be treated immediately. If your cat is experiencing black, tarry stools, seek veterinary medical care right away

                It’s okay if you don’t have the answer to all of these questions. If your cat is looking unwell overall and their feces look abnormal, take your cat to be examined by your veterinarian. 

                Diagnosing Cat Diarrhea

                Your veterinarian will perform several tests to accurately diagnose the underlying cause of your cat's diarrhea. These tests include:

                • Abdominal X-ray
                • GI tract endoscopy
                • Complete blood count
                • Stool and rectal swab samples (to look for intestinal parasites)

                Your vet will likely ask for you to bring in a sample of diarrhea so that they can examine that too.

                Again, provide the vet with as much information as you can about any health changes in your cat. This information will help your veterinarian rule out certain illnesses and consider others more closely.

                Diarrhea Treatment: Home Remedies for Diarrhea

                Although it is paramount to diagnose and treat the diarrhea’s underlying cause, you'll also want to stop the diarrhea.

                Pet parents have tried and found success with several methods for relieving cat diarrhea.

                Switch Up the Food

                Unlike vomiting, diarrhea doesn't require the cat owner to withhold food for an extended period of time. In fact, withholding food during this time can actually do more harm than good and can put your cat at risk of developing a fatal type of liver disease known as hepatic lipidosis.

                Simplify your cat's food and make sure they are not receiving any treats or table scraps.

                Additionally, consider whether your cat's diarrhea may be due to recent dietary changes. Your cat may have an intolerance to the new food source, so you may want to go back to their original food until the specific allergy is determined. Consult with your veterinarian on this.

                Finally, it is entirely possible that your cat developed an allergy to the food that they have been eating for years.

                If so, gradually switching to a new food may do the trick in relieving diarrhea.


                Some cats who suffer from diarrhea benefit from a low-fiber diet. Look for brands that are labeled as highly digestible or ideal for cats with sensitive stomachs.

                On the other hand, some cats who experience bouts of diarrhea may benefit from a fiber supplement, such as canned pumpkin.

                Water and Electrolytes

                Cats with diarrhea must stay hydrated to prevent dehydration. Make sure your cat has unlimited access to fresh water.

                Cat owners may also want to consider switching from dry cat food to canned food to boost the moisture intake from the food.

                cats with cat diarrhea need to drink a lot of water


                Probiotic supplements are highly effective at maintaining a healthy amount of bacteria in a cat's gut. A healthy amount of bacteria in the intestinal tract is necessary for normal digestion.

                Purchase a probiotic specifically formulated for cats from a reputable company.


                Finally, many cat owners wonder if they can give their cat anti-diarrhea supplements that are formulated for humans. We strongly advise against doing this

                Some human anti-diarrhea medications can be fatal for a cat. Others, such as kaolin-pectin medications, are considered to be safe in some instances. However, some products (such as Kaopectate) that used to contain kaolin-pectin are now made with other ingredients that cat owners should avoid.

                We firmly believe it's better to be safe than sorry. Never use a medication designed for people without the supervision of your veterinarian.

                CBD Oil For Cats

                Studies show that CBD oil, a digestive aid, supports a healthy gut. Additionally, CBD oil helps to reduce occasional loose stools caused by environmental stress or dietary changes. So, if you're dealing with cat diarrhea that stems from either of these causes, consider our CBD oil for cats!

                no more cat diarrhea for this kitten

                Cat Diarrhea: The Bottom Line

                At the end of the day, we know you want what's best for your beloved feline. We want to stress one last time that diarrhea itself is not a disease but rather a symptom of many diseases.

                Pinpointing exactly what is causing the diarrhea is imperative in treating it and preventing future recurrences.

                JoAnna Pendergrass

                 JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

                JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. 

                JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. 

                Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!

                Read More
                Cat Vomiting: How To Tell If It's Serious

                Cat Vomiting: How To Tell If It's Serious

                Your four-legged friend means the world to you. Trust us, we get it.

                We also understand that you would do just about anything to ensure your cat's health and happiness.

                That's why it can be worrying when your beloved fur baby starts vomiting out of nowhere.

                You feed them the best food available, monitor their health, and do everything you can to keep them out of harm's way... so why are they throwing up?

                In this article, we'll explain the multitude of reasons why your cat may be vomiting and let you know when it's time to take your feline friend to the vet.

                Not all vomiting should be cause for total panic. However, it's important for pet owners to know when they should act quickly, as vomiting is often a sign that something more serious needs to be addressed.

                Let's get started!

                cat vomiting

                Types of Vomiting

                First, there are two types of vomiting that will help your veterinarian determine the underlying cause and best way to treat the problem.

                These two types are acute vomiting and chronic vomiting.

                Acute vomiting refers to a sudden episode of vomiting and lasts for 1 to 2 days. Cats with acute vomiting usually don’t have other symptoms.

                Chronic vomiting refers to ongoing vomiting. Cats with chronic vomiting will vomit more than 1 or 2 times/day and have other symptoms, such as abdominal pain, weight loss, and depression.

                Causes of Acute Cat Vomiting

                The underlying causes of acute vomiting range from minor to severe.

                Therefore, it is important for pet owners to know these causes and act accordingly.

                Dietary Reasons for Cat Vomiting

                One of the most common reasons behind vomiting is diet. Many cat foods contain rendered animal byproducts, such as bone and various organs, that do not enter the human chain.

                You may be wondering why your cat is eating food that isn't safe for humans. As it turns out, these animal byproducts can add important nutrients and healthy proteins to a cat’s diet.

                However, if your cat may vomit if they have trouble digesting these byproducts. 

                Additionally, a sudden dietary change can cause cat vomiting, along with diarrhea. When switching your cat's food, it is important to go slowly. It helps to start by mixing a small amount of the new food into the old food, then slowly increasing the amount of new food until your cat is eating only the new food.

                Overall, feeding your feline friend a high quality diet with easily digestible ingredients is key, along with making gradual changes in diet, to avoid upsetting your cat’s stomach. 

                Treats & Milk

                Many cat owners go above and beyond when it comes to feeding their feline friends high quality, well-balanced meals (and we applaud you for it).

                However, it is important to recognize that cat treats are equally important for maintaining a high quality cat diet.

                Take a look at the bag of cat treats you have in your cabinet. Read off the ingredients. Emulsifiers, surfactants, dyes, propylene glycol, FDC red #4 (and more) are additives and preservatives that can lead to gastrointestinal tract inflammation and, subsequently, vomiting.

                Finally, milk. Most pets will gobble up milk if it's placed in front of them. For cats, though, it's important that it's cat’s milk.

                Your cat doesn't have the necessary enzymes needed for breaking down the milk sugars in cow's milk. Therefore, secondary gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting are likely to develop if a cat drinks cow’s milk.

                Eating Too Fast

                Cats that eat as if it's their last meal on earth are much more prone to vomiting. As a quadruped (walking on four legs), your cat has a horizontally-positioned esophagus.

                If your cat has eaten too quickly, they may regurgitate whole, undigested food, even after several minutes have passed. This is because the swallowed food can get backed up in the esophagus instead of passing through a little sphincter to the stomach. 

                Help your cat slow down when they eat. For example, give your cat only small portions of food at a time to keep them from consuming their whole meal in one bite.

                Additionally, if you have multiple cats, watch them at mealtime to make sure that one cat isn't eating for four cats. If this is the case, you will be better off feeding your felines in separate rooms.

                Allowing each cat to have around 20 minutes of relaxed eating will also help slow their habits because they won't feel that if they don't eat their food, someone else will.

                Portion control will also help prevent obesity, which in turn helps prevent additional health issues from developing.

                obese cat

                Consuming Foreign Bodies

                If cats aren't able to digest milk from a different species, then you can be sure that they aren't able to digest foreign bodies like toys and hairballs that enter their system.

                Luckily, most cats aren't like dogs, who will eat just about anything in sight (although some still do). However, cats are known to constantly clean themselves.

                If your kitty has beautiful long fur, you'll need to step in and help out with the grooming. Daily grooming is recommended for long-haired cats, while short-haired cats can get by with weekly grooming.

                Additionally, if you have a multi-cat household, make sure that one cat isn't grooming everyone else.

                The constant hair licking results in hairballs. Your feline's gastrointestinal tract isn't equipped to handle all the fur. Thus, vomiting occurs. As pet owners ourselves, we know that you do not want to come home to a vomited hairball on the floor.

                If you're unsure if your cat is vomiting from hairballs, check the vomit for cylindrical plugs. If you see these plugs, you can be pretty sure that hairballs are causing the vomiting.

                Pet parents can help prevent hairballs by adding a bit of fiber (canned pumpkin, unflavored psyllium) to the cat's diet. This will help move consumed hair through the GI tract more swiftly.

                Toxins or Chemicals

                Ingestion of toxins or chemicals can also cause vomiting. Poisoning commonly leads to sudden, severe vomiting in cats.

                Many felines vomit from time to time, some more than others. However, if your cat doesn't typically throw up often and is suddenly vomiting, consider the possibility that they ingested something poisonous

                Pet owners may not realize that many common household plants are extremely toxic for cats. If your cat is particularly fond of getting into your plants, consider purchasing wheatgrass (cat grass), which can provide your kitty with great nutritional benefits.

                Take some time to research which plants are poisonous for cats and be sure to remove them from your home.

                The chemicals found in herbicides, pesticides, and household cleaners can cause immediate, acute vomiting if ingested.

                If your cat has consumed any of these products, no matter how small, it is imperative that you call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

                A representative will be able to help you through the next steps.

                Intestinal Parasites

                Acute vomiting can also be a sign of an intestinal parasite. Intestinal parasites can be transmitted through contaminated water or a contaminated food source.

                Intestinal parasites are common in cats, with some cat populations having as high as a 45% prevalence rate.

                The parasitic infestation will also cause diarrhea, anemia, and weakness, increasing the likelihood of other infections. Intestinal parasites also rob the body of important nutrients. For example, kittens with intestinal parasites will have trouble gaining weight because they don’t have enough nutrients to support healthy weight gain. 

                Finally, some GI parasites found in cats, such as roundworms, can also affect humans. Therefore, a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is extremely important to prevent these parasites from being transmitted to the cat owner.

                Intestinal parasites include:

              • Giardia
                • Tapeworms
                • Hookworms
                • Whipworms
                • Toxoplasma
                • Roundworms
                • Isospora sp. (coccidia)

                Again, a timely diagnosis and appropriate medication are paramount for effectively treating intestinal parasites.

                worms in cats

                Acute Kidney Failure & Acute Liver Failure

                Dysfunction of the organs responsible for detoxification—the liver and kidneys—can cause vomiting in cats. In these cases, vomiting is often considered a non-specific symptom, meaning that the vomiting is not directly linked to kidney or liver failure.

                However, due to the severity of such failure, it is important for your veterinarian to test for organ function to rule out any potential problems.

                Gastrointestinal Inflammation

                When you look at the root cause of many diseases, you'll find one major thing in common: inflammation. Inflammation of major organs, including the gallbladder, small intestine, and colon, can lead to vomiting.

                However, vomiting and diarrhea are typically only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to inflammation. Inflammation is directly linked to diseases such as cancer.

                To prevent the development of more severe health issues, it is important for a cat owner to have their veterinarian figure out the underlying cause of the gastrointestinal inflammation.

                Bacterial Infection of the Gastrointestinal Tract

                Another potential reason for acute vomiting is a bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract. Like people, cats have normal, healthy bacteria that live in their gut and help with digestion and nutrient absorption. 

                However, if there’s an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria due to an infection, the normal intestinal functions are greatly affected, leading to diarrhea and vomiting.

                While many bacterial gastrointestinal tract infections clear up in about a week's time, we recommend seeking veterinary treatment for the underlying cause of the infection, as it may likely resurface if not handled appropriately.

                Also, it is important to monitor your cat's weight and hydration as the infection clears.

                Cat Vomiting Bile

                The yellow, foamy vomit that you may find is called bile. Cats vomit bile when bile enters the stomach and causes inflammation. Bilious vomiting commonly occurs on empty stomach in the early morning or late at night.

                If bilious vomiting occurs once, it's likely not a cause for alarm. However, if your cat's vomit continues continues to be yellow and foamy, take your cat to your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.


                Acute cat vomiting is also a symptom of inflammation of the pancreas, called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can often progress quite rapidly and make cats extremely ill. If caught early, though, it can be treated without any permanent damage to the organ.

                Again, an accurate diagnosis for why the vomiting is occurring is very important.

                Post-Operative Nausea

                After surgery, many cats will experience nausea and acute vomiting. In these cases, both symptoms will subside as the medications and anesthesia in your cat's system flush out.

                Your veterinarian may prescribe anti-nausea medications to help your cat heal faster and maintain a healthy appetite. There are also holistic ways to ease postoperative nausea and vomiting. More on that in a minute!

                Certain Medications

                Finally, certain medications can consequently cause acute vomiting.

                If the medication that is causing the vomiting is for a chronic condition, you may want to speak to your vet regarding possible alternatives.

                Continued vomiting can lead to the development of other conditions, such as inflammation of the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract.

                Causes of Chronic Cat Vomiting

                We want to make sure our readers understand that no kind of vomiting is considered to be normal, despite what you may have heard. Some reasons behind the vomiting are less severe than others, but no vomiting should be overlooked entirely.

                In cases of chronic vomiting, pet owners should be on high alert, as continued vomiting can signal an unresolved medical condition

                Dietary Causes

                Food intolerance and food allergies can cause chronic vomiting. Pet owners may not realize that their beloved cats and dogs can develop allergies just like people.

                In fact, food allergies are often the underlying cause of cat vomiting that occurs intermittently over a long period of time.

                If your cat has normal energy levels, is a healthy weight, and doesn't appear ill but throws up from time to time, you may want to look into whether they have developed a food allergy.  

                Over time, a cat’s digestive system can become sensitive to an ingredient (usually a protein) and actually mount an immune response against that ingredient. This response can inflame the digestive tract and possibly lead to the development of food allergies.

                Removing the offending protein from the diet is the best way to prevent vomiting due to food allergies. A food elimination trial, which is a lengthy and sometimes expensive process, will help your veterinarian determine which protein is causing your cat’s food allergies.

                Finally, many holistic experts on the topic recommend a species-appropriate raw food diet, if possible. We recommend talking to your vet regarding your individual cat's needs.

                what to eat to prevent cat vomiting

                Inflammatory Bowel Disease

                Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) causes chronic vomiting in cats. IBD includes conditions like gastritis, pancreatitis, enteritis, and colitis.

                IBD can have much more serious consequences if not treated appropriately. The aforementioned conditions are directly linked to chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

                On a side note, chronic vomiting in cats is also a symptom of gastrointestinal cancer. You can see why it is so important to pinpoint the exact cause of chronic vomiting. Early recognition and diagnosis can save your cat's life.

                Chronic Toxicity Poisoning

                Like acute vomiting, chronic vomiting can also be caused by poisoning. However, with chronic vomiting, the underlying cause can be more difficult to pinpoint.

                With acute vomiting from toxicity, the toxic element is consumed only a short time before the vomiting ensues. With chronic vomiting from toxicity, the toxic element is consumed (or inhaled) in small amounts over an extended time.

                A common cause of chronic poisoning comes from lead, which affects humans and pets alike.

                Intestinal obstruction

                Intestinal obstruction results from the accumulation of ingested solids and fluids in the intestinal tract. To relieve the accumulation, your cat may intermittently vomit over an extended period of time.

                Intestinal obstruction can occur for several reasons, ranging from foreign body ingestion to more severe causes like a tumor or hernias.

                Neurological Disorders

                Neurological disorders in cats can develop due to such reasons as injury and infection. Neurological disorders often have one main symptom in common: chronic vomiting.

                Cats with neurological disorders have the potential to live long lives, but only if a proper diagnosis is made and a treatment plan is developed.


                A long-standing intestinal parasite infestation that is not promptly diagnosed and treated can lead to chronic vomiting.

                Parasites must be diagnosed and treated by your vet. If left untreated, chronic vomiting may be the least of your worries.

                Additional Symptoms to Look For

                In many cases, vomiting is considered to be a non-specific symptom, making it challenging to diagnose a disorder solely on the presence of vomiting.

                Thankfully, there are other clinical signs to look for in conjunction with cat vomiting:

                • Diarrhea
                • Weight loss
                • Dehydration
                • Bloody vomit
                • Bloody diarrhea
                • Reduced appetite
                • Lethargy and weakness
                • Fluctuation in water intake

                Furthermore, pet owners should monitor the frequency of the vomit and when it occurs (e.g., after eating, being outdoors)

                When to Make a Vet Appointment

                If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms, there are a few things you should consider.

                How old is your cat? How is your cat's overall health? Is there any chance they may have ingested something poisonous? How long has your cat been vomiting (several weeks, just once, etc.)?

                We firmly believe that it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your beloved four-legged companion. Again, no vomiting should be considered "normal."

                If you have any reason to believe that your cat's vomiting is a sign of something more severe, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

                Treatment for Cat Vomiting

                Typically, treatment for cat vomiting will involve withholding food and water until the vomiting has stopped. Then, pet parents will be advised to slowly reintroduce water and then a bland diet.

                This treatment, however, is solely for vomiting. It is imperative that pet owners get to the bottom of what is causing the vomit so that the primary issue can be treated as well.

                Preventing Cat Vomiting

                In many cases, cat vomiting can be prevented. Simple changes, such as feeding a high quality cat food that doesn’t contain an allergy-producing protein and making sure that any poisonous plants and chemicals are removed from your home, are great ways to start.

                Again, preventing the vomiting will depend on the underlying cause.

                CBD Oil for Cats

                Speaking of prevention, there is one supplement we highly recommend: CBD oil. CBD oil is a digestive aid that helps support proper digestion and bowel health. It can aid in occasional gastric distress and support a healthy gut and normal stomach pH. 

                Although CBD oil certainly can't undo poisoning, it's a great supplement to consider to boost overall wellness in your kitty and potentially avoid a mess on the carpet.

                We recommend our all-natural, non-GMO, soy-free, lab-tested CBD oil for cats!

                cbd for cats

                Cat Vomiting: The Bottom Line

                We know that your feline companion means the world to you and realizing that something isn't quite right can be extremely nerve-wracking for a doting pet parent.

                The first step is recognizing any change as soon as possible. The sooner a symptom like vomiting is noticed, the sooner a diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan can begin. We sincerely hope your four-legged friend feels better soon!






                JoAnna Pendergrass


                JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

                JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. 

                JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. 

                Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!

                Read More
                Cosequin for Cats: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

                Cosequin for Cats: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

                Have you noticed your joints getting a little creakier with each passing year? Does the friendly phrase "sit down and take the weight off" bring you a deeper sense of relief than it did in your younger years? Welcome to the joys of aging and joint pain. However, you are not alone in this journey. You pet owners may notice that your cat may be dealing with joint pain right alongside you. 

                Experiencing joint pain first-hand is almost as painful as seeing your cat suffer from the same predicament. Worry not! A trip to the vet will surely get your cat back on track in no time, right? Well, you may leave your vet’s office with one of the more popular joint supplements, Cosequin for cats. In this article, we will discuss what causes feline joint pain, how to prevent it, and how Cosequin help manages the pain.

                cosequin for cats

                Cosequin for Cats? What is that?

                Cosequin is used to improve joint function in cats, as well as dogs and horses. Available over-the-counter, Cosequin battles the breakdown of cartilage that causes joint pain.

                Cartilage, particularly articular cartilage, is the "glue" that hold the bones together at the joints. Aging, infection, and trauma can weaken the cartilage. Cosequin helps to preserve existing cartilage and promote the growth of new, healthy cartilage.

                Be aware that Cosequin does not cure joint issues. Rather, it helps with managing the pain and discomfort associated with joint conditions. More advanced joint disease may require more powerful medicine or even corrective surgery.

                cosequin for cats does not cure joint pain

                Cosequin Side Effects

                Cosequin is not without side effects, but these side effects are rare. Diarrhea is the most common side effect, but cats can also experience other forms of GI upset, like vomiting.

                Sometimes, medications and supplements can worsen pre-existing conditions. Consult with your vet before starting your cat on Cosequin

                Cosequin Ingredients

                Like most medications and supplements, Cosequin is made up of several ingredients. The two primary ingredients are:

                • 125 mg of Glucosamine hydrochloride - Derived from crustacean shells, glucosamine is a powerful agent of cartilage regeneration.
                • 120 mg of Sodium chondroitin sulfate (SCS) - Derived from cow cartilage, SCS is also a common ingredient in human joint pain relief supplements.

                The ingredient list rounds out with smaller amounts of manganese ascorbate, gelatin, magnesium stearate, titanium dioxide, and FD & C Blue #1 and #3.

                Know Where Ingredients Come From

                Cosequin is a popular choice for joint pain in cats. Although SCS is derived from cow cartilage, its sourcing can be questionable.

                If you ever see ingredients derived from animal products in your cat's food or supplements, find out where that company gets their meat and animal by-products. In the world of animal products, manufacturers commonly use animal ingredients that are not suitable for human consumption. Animals that may be used to make these products are considered “4D”: 

                1. Dead 
                2. Dying
                3. Disabled
                4. Diseased

                In a process called rendering, potentially harmful microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the animal carcasses are killed, the fat is removed, and the water is separated out. So, although cartilage from “4D” cows may not make your cat sick, it’s certainly unpleasant to think about your cat taking joint supplements containing an ingredient that came from a sickly animal.

                Is Your Cat in Pain?

                Before you start giving your cat Cosequin, you be sure that your cat is actually in pain.

                For better or for worse, cats have earned a reputation for being proud and fiercely independent. They are also masters of disguise when it comes to hiding their pain. Thus, it’s not always easy to tell when a cat is in pain. Fortunately, there are some tell-tail (pun definitely intended) signs indicating your cat is experiencing joint discomfort.

                Altered Grooming Regime

                Unlike your dog, your cat has probably never been to the groomers, right? Well, that’s because cats are natural experts in personal grooming. However, when cats are in pain, they may over groom or stop grooming entirely.


                In the case of over-grooming, you may notice your cat licking a specific area more than usual. This may leave skin red and irritated, or even create bald patches. When cats are kittens, they are licked and groomed by their mothers; this is both practical and comforting. Therefore, a cat that’s in pain may resort to licking to feel a sense of comfort and safety.

                Lack of Grooming

                While grooming, cats can contort themselves into Olympic-level gymnastics positions. Well, joint pain makes these positions harder and more uncomfortable for cats. If your cat's coat is dirtier and more matted than usual, they may be unable to properly groom themselves.

                Biting and Scratching

                Even the friendliest of felines may turn aggressive when in pain. If you suspect your cat is hurting, exercise caution when scanning their bodies for tender places. Ailing cats may bite or scratch simply in anticipation of you touching painful areas.

                If your cat’s in pain, be especially wary of their interactions with children and guests. Children tend to try and pick up or play rough with cats. If your cat is hurting, they may turn the child in question into a dog person. On a serious note, your cat may inflict serious damage with their claws or teeth, possibly injuring a child or guest in your home.

                cosequin for cats can cause irritability in cats

                Look into their Eyes

                Cats are naturally regal creatures. In fact, they were worshiped as gods in ancient Greek and Egyptian cultures. Of the many notable feline features, the eyes are arguably the most iconic. Eyes express all sorts of feelings and emotions. Cat eyes can portray signs of pain in the body. Dilated pupils can indicate body pain. Smaller than usual pupils may indicate actual eye pain.

                Also, bloodshot or constantly squinty eyes are something to look out for when monitoring your cat's condition.

                Changes in Habits

                Cats are the original creatures of habit. Any sudden changes in their regular routine are worth investigating. Establishing a baseline idea of your cat's "healthy" self helps you notice and take appropriate action when something is off about your cat’s routine. 


                Cats typically spend more time sleeping than anything else. Domesticated cats can sleep up to twenty hours a day! For people and cats, sleep is when the body's natural healing factory works at optimal levels. Cats in pain tend to sleep even more, in part because sleeping is often the best escape from joint pain.

                Indoor cats tend to have several go-to sleeping spots. More often than not, these snuggly spots are up high. A healthy cat will have no problem taking the leap to the top shelf of your closet where your fluffy sweaters live. A cat with joint pain, however, will likely opt for lower sleeping spots because they are easier to get to.


                Bodily aches and pains often leave your cat eating or drinking less than usual for two big reasons: (1) pain suppresses appetite, and (2) it may simply hurt too much to walk to the food bowl. If you notice your cat leaving leftovers at dinnertime, look for more signs of discomfort.

                Potty Time

                Joint pain also makes it difficult for cats to make it to the litter box. If your potty trained cat suddenly starts leaving unexpected "gifts" around your home, they may be in pain.

                Cats with back pain may physically have trouble assuming the position, so to speak. Therefore, constipation may occur secondary to joint pain.


                Unsurprisingly, a cat having trouble strutting to the litter box may also be less prone to playfulness. Pay attention to your cat's interest level at playtime. Even the most playful kitties may suddenly lose all interest in their feather on a stick.

                Some cats may try to run and play, but end up limping or having trouble moving around. Remember, cats are stubborn and shy about revealing that they are hurting.

                Joint Pain Prevention

                Joint pain is among the many ailments that your cat can experience during its lifetime. Keep reading to learn about how you can prevent joint pain in your cat. 

                Well-Balanced Nutrition

                By far, a well-balanced diet is the most effective promoter of optimal feline health. If your cat’s body were an exclusive nightclub (let’s call it “Dance Right Meow”), their diet would be the bouncer checking the diseases at the door. A poor diet is like hiring a mousy bouncer who takes smoke breaks every five minutes, leaving the door open to all kinds of unsavory diseases to walk right on in. A perfectly balanced diet gives your cat’s door guy the tall stature and big scary biceps every good bouncer needs. 

                Important Dietary Elements

                So how exactly do you get the ideal "hulk" of a bouncer? Feed your cat the perfect balance of must-have nutritional elements! Your cat needs: 

                1. Water
                2. Proteins 
                3. Carbohydrates
                4. Vitamins and minerals
                5. Essential amino acids (e.g., taurine)
                6. Essential fatty acids (e.g., omega-3 fatty acids)

                Like their jungle cat ancestors (lions, leopards, cheetahs, etc.), domestic cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they must eat meat to survive. Meat-based proteins are ideal for cats.

                A cat’s carbohydrate requirements are small, but essential. Carbohydrates for cats must be easily digestible. Unfortunately, many pre-made dry cat foods contain carbohydrates that cats can’t digest very well. In addition, feeding too many carbohydrates to a cat can lead to excessive weight gain. 

                Obesity in Cats, A BIG Problem

                You have likely seen a comically chubby cat before, with their bloated bellies practically dragging on the floor. This may seem adorably funny at first glance, but obesity is no joking matter. Did you know that a more than half of America’s domesticated cats are overweight or obese? 

                What an embarrassing statistic! Many pet parents grossly overfeed their cats. Did you know cats need an average of only 200-300 calories per day? To put that in perspective, a single cup of dry cat food clocks in at about 300 calories. Pet parents may unknowingly feed their cat way more than that

                obese cat

                How to Curb Obesity

                Many cat owners do free choice feeding, leaving out large bowls of food for their cat to munch on for one day or several days, reducing the daily chore of structured feeding schedules. However, this leaves cats with an all-you-can-eat buffet. We all know what happens at buffets… you overeat! 

                To curb obesity, establish a feeding schedule and feed your cat according to the label instructions. Leave the food out for a designated amount of time (e.g., 15 minutes), then pick the food up so your cat doesn’t snack all day.

                Choosing the right food can be daunting, in part because pet food labels are hard to read and understand. Take a stab at reading the ingredients of any food you are considering. If you don't know what something is, look it up! Your cat's food shouldn't have more scientific words than your high school chemistry book. If you’re still not sure if a particular food is good for your cat, talk with your vet for guidance on choosing the diet that best suits your cat’s nutritional needs.

                You may also want to consider a raw cat food diet. This approach is increasingly popular and can improve digestion, enhance energy levels, manage weight, and improve skin and coat quality. If not prepared properly, though, raw wet food diets can leave out important nutrients or have the wrong balance of nutrients. If you want to feed your cat a raw food diet, work with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to ensure the diet is nutritionally complete and healthy for your cat.

                Play Time!

                You know that nagging feeling you have in the back of your head telling you that you should take a trip to the gym? Well, just like you, cats need exercise. Cats are wild animals that have been domesticated over centuries to be lazy and snuggle with you indoors. However, this goes against their natural instinct to hunt and run freely.

                Healthy physical activity increases blood flow and circulation, which improves joint health. Even better, regular exercise can help repair damaged joints. Healthy movement releases substances that promote cartilage growth. So, pick up that mouse toy and take your cat on a trip around the living room!

                cosequin for cats

                A Natural Approach to Joint Health

                Not only are natural remedies increasingly popular for humans, they’re also good for our feline friends as well!

                Omega-3 Fatty Acids

                As previously mentioned, essential fatty acids are a key component of a healthy cat diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are popular and effective essential fatty acids. Omega-3’s have natural anti-inflammatory properties that can work wonders on ailing joints. Better yet, essential fatty acids have several other benefits, including those listed below:

                • Reducing allergies
                • Reducing shedding
                • Suppressing cancer growth 
                • Promoting healthy eyes and brain (especially in kittens)
                • Reducing inflammation (e.g., joints, kidneys, skin, heart)

                When effectively administered in your cat's diet, essential fatty acids can gradually improve your cat’s joint health and overall health


                You may have received acupuncture therapy. Dating back to ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves strategically inserting tiny needles  in pressure points around the body. Among its many benefits, acupuncture increases circulation and reduces inflammation, which helps treat joint pain. 

                You may think acupuncture for cats is totally insane, but it’s actually quite therapeutic. Visit a licensed veterinarian who has received formal training in veterinary acupuncture


                Glucosamine is as an ingredient in Cosequin but can be quite effective at treating joint pain on its own. Derived from crustacean shells, glucosamine promotes the growth of healthy cartilage. Fun fact: glucosamine is already in your cat's body. However, when trauma or age intervenes, glucosamine production goes way down. Fortunately, regular glucosamine supplementation can reduce your cat’s joint pain.

                healthy cat

                Cosequin for Cats: The Bottom Line

                Joint pain frequently affects our beloved cats. Joint issues can be caused by age, disease, or physical trauma. No matter the cause, a smart, healthy treatment plan is necessary to get the spring back in a cat’s step. Because prescription drugs and supplements can contain some unsavory chemicals or ingredients, we recommend that you talk to your vet about a natural, holistic approach to joint pain relief. From out pet-loving family to yours, we wish you and your cat a lifetime of happiness. 








                JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

                JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. 

                JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. 

                Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!

                Read More
                Potassium Bromide & Seizures

                Potassium Bromide & Seizures

                Undoubtedly, one of the scariest moments for a pet owner is witnessing their beloved four-legged friend experience a seizure. Seconds can feel like hours as you watch your dog convulse on the floor. You feel helpless and uncertain about what to do next. 

                Once your dog stops convulsing and you take them to your veterinarian, your vet will likely recommend a conventional anticonvulsant medication. Dog owners should understand these medications, including their side effects, before administering them.

                In this article, we'll cover everything you should know about potassium bromide for dogs (KBr). We'll discuss the risks, how the medication works, and alternatives that we recommend. Additionally, we will shed light on the wonders of holistic remedies that can greatly reduce your dog's seizure severity and frequency. Let's begin.

                Dog Seizures: What Exactly Are They?

                Before we dive into KBr for dogs, let's first discuss why it’s used: dog seizures. Up to 5% of all dogs experience seizures, making them the most commonly diagnosed neurological condition in dogs. Often referred to as 'fits' or convulsions, seizures are temporary and are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain.  

                Seizures symptoms include:

                • Jerking
                • Drooling
                • Twitching
                • Stiffening
                • Chomping
                • Collapsing
                • Tongue chewing
                • Paddling of the legs
                • Foaming of the mouth
                • Involuntary urination or defecation

                  dog seizure

                  As you can imagine, witnessing a dog’s seizure can be terrifying for a dog owner.

                  What Causes Seizures in Dogs

                  Seizures in dogs have many causes. Identifying a seizure’s underlying cause is key to diagnosing the condition because some medications should not be given to dogs with certain health conditions, like liver disease.

                  In other cases, the underlying cause of seizures is unknown. Many of these cases are diagnosed as canine idiopathic epilepsy. Epilepsy is at least two unprovoked seizures.  

                  What is Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy

                  Canine idiopathic epilepsy, an inherited disorder, is the most common type of seizures in dogs. Veterinarians often prescribe KBr for dogs with canine idiopathic epilepsy.

                  Health Conditions that Cause Seizures

                  The following ailments are often associated with seizures:

                    dog seizure brain


                    Toxins can also cause seizures in dogs. Tell your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has consumed any toxins. As part of the treatment plan for seizures, you vet will need to clear the toxin from your dog's body.

                    Genetic Predisposition

                    Certain dog breeds, listed below, are genetically predisposed to seizures and epilepsy:

                    • Vizsla
                    • Beagle
                    • Keeshond
                    • Golden Retriever
                    • Labrador Retriever
                    • Belgian Tervuren
                    • Shetland Sheepdog

                    If your dog is one of these breeds, learn all you can about seizures and epilepsy. For more information about seizures in dogs and how you can help your four-legged friend, click here.

                    What is Potassium Bromide

                    Now, let's get back to our main topic: KBr for dogs. KBr is a prescription anticonvulsant drug that controls seizure activity. It is often combined with a medication called phenobarbital, which also controls seizures. Veterinarians may prescribe KBr on its own for dogs who are resistant to phenobarbital or had a bad reaction to it.

                    potassium bromide for dogs seizures

                    What is Phenobarbital for Dogs

                    Phenobarbital for dogs is a commonly prescribed anticonvulsant that controls seizure frequency and severity. It can either be used on its own or combined with KBr. Phenobarbital has many side effects. Therefore, KBr is often prescribed to either substitute for phenobarbital or lessen phenobarbital’s necessary dosage.

                    How Does Potassium Bromide Work

                    KBr works by decreasing and controlling seizure activity in the central nervous system. However, it can take three to four months for KBr to start working. In some cases, unfortunately, KBr may not work at all.

                    Veterinarians may prescribe what is called a 'loading dose' to jump-start the medication's effects. A loading dose is a heightened dosage of the drug; after receiving a loading dose, a dog must be closely monitored for adverse effects. A loading dose of KBr, though, may not be enough to control a dog’s seizures. 

                    Dangers of Potassium Bromide

                    Like other conventional medications, KBr has a fair share of potential adverse reactions. Before administering the drug, a pet owner must understand the risks involved and recognize how the medication may affect their dog. A pet owner may decide that the potential adverse reactions aren’t worth the potential benefit for seizure control.


                    Sedation, which brings about drowsiness and lethargy, is a common side effect of KBr and can be quite extreme. Although sedation doesn’t seem all that serious, remember that anticonvulsant medications like KBr and phenobarbital are intended to be daily, lifelong medications.

                    For some dogs, the sedation eventually wears off. For others, it doesn't. Therefore, constant lethargy, day in and day out, may be your dog's "new normal." For many pet owners, this drastic change in their dog's personality is unsettling.

                    Increased Hunger & Thirst

                    Increased hunger and thirst are also common KBr side effects. Again, these may not seem all that bad, but excessive hunger can quickly lead to weight issues and additional health concerns.

                    Increased Urination

                    Increased thirst logically leads to increased water drinking and urination, which is particularly common for dogs who are taking KBr with phenobarbital. Increased urination isn't necessarily life-threatening, but it can greatly alter a pet owner’s day-to-day life because their dog will require more bathroom breaks.

                    Loss of Coordination & Weakness of Hind Legs

                    KBr can cause a loss of coordination (ataxia) and hindlimb weakness. In severe cases, KBr can cause hindlimb paralysis. Predicting these side effects is difficult and sometimes impossible. Knowing that KBr may cause paralysis is a hard pill to swallow.

                    potassium bromide side effects

                    Behavioral Changes

                    KBr may cause behavioral changes like irritability and depression; these behavioral changes may not wear off over time. Again, KBr is a lifelong commitment. A pet owner may not want to deal with negative behavioral changes for the rest of their dog’s life. 

                    Gastrointestinal (GI) Issues

                    Many dogs and cats experience GI issues, listed below, when taking KBr:

                    • Nausea
                    • Constipation
                    • Abdominal pain
                    • Vomiting ± blood
                    • Diarrhea ± blood

                    These issues, as they worsen, can cause loss of appetite. In some cases, KBr’s GI side effects can be severe enough that a veterinarian will replace KBr with sodium bromide (NaBr) to control a dog’s seizures. 

                    NaBr is typically less harsh on the stomach but it has its own share of potential adverse reactions. No conventional medication is entirely free from negative side effects.

                    Dermatological Effects

                    In some dogs, KBr may cause skin rashes and irritations.

                    Bromide Toxicity

                    Bromide toxicity can occur, even when dog owners administer KBr appropriately. Clinical signs of toxicity include the previously described side effects, only much more severe. If you think your dog has bromide toxicity, notify your vet immediately.

                    Some dogs, including those with kidney or liver damage, have a higher risk for bromide toxicity. Before starting your dog on KBr, tell your vet if your dog has kidney or liver disease.

                    Risks of Anticonvulsant Medications

                    The list of KBr’s possible adverse reactions leaves many pet owners hoping for another option. Although other conventional anticonvulsant medications for dogs are available, none come without unsettling negative effects. Let's take a look at a couple of other anticonvulsant options.

                    Phenobarbital Side Effects & Warnings

                    As we previously mentioned, veterinarians commonly prescribe the anticonvulsant phenobarbital, often alongside KBr. However, phenobarbital’s negative side effects can be worse than KBr’s. Furthermore, dogs with conditions like Addison's disease (deficient cortisol production by the adrenal glands), kidney disease, liver disease, and respiratory problems should not take phenobarbital because it can worsen these conditions.

                    Even dogs in good health can experience serious health problems, including anemia and liver damage, from long-term phenobarbital use. Liver damage often involves scarring of the liver tissue and consequent liver failure.

                    Levetiracetam for Dogs

                    Many dog owners prefer levetiracetam (Keppra) because it decreases the need for harsh medications like phenobarbital and KBr. However, levetiracetam has some drawbacks.

                    First, levetiracetam typically has to be administered three times daily, which is probably inconvenient for many pet owners. Second, it causes side effects such as lethargy, behavioral changes, and GI issues.

                    potassium bromide for dogs alternatives

                    Zonisamide for Dogs

                    Zonisamide has short- and long-term potential adverse reactions. Short-term effects include loss of coordination, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. Its long-term effects include hyperthermia, skin reactions, and blood disorders.

                    Phenobarbital & KBr & Their Lack of FDA Approval

                    In people and animals, KBr has been used to treat seizures for over a century. Phenobarbital has also been used for years to manage seizure activity. However, neither drug is FDA approved for seizure treatment in people or animals. This is troubling for multiple reasons.

                    First, this lack of FDA approval means that no drug company has provided conclusive evidence to the FDA that these drugs are safe and effective for seizure treatment. 

                    Second, no FDA approval indicates that the drug companies haven't been able to provide evidence that manufacturing of either drug can consistently meet accepted quality control standards. 

                    Finally, without FDA approval, pet owners may not fully know the risks of KBr and phenobarbital until it's too late.

                    An All-Natural Alternative for KBr

                    The potential adverse side effects of KBr are troubling, but pet owners should know about them. Only after pet owners have a full understanding of what’s at stake can they make an educated decision for their dog's health well-being.

                    Now that you know about the effects of KBr and other conventional anticonvulsants, you may feel that you cannot administer the drug to your dog in good conscience... and we don't blame you! 

                    cbd oil for dogs

                    Additional Seizure Treatment

                    Food TherapyKetogenic Diet

                    Your dog's diet is far more important than you may realize. In fact, your dog's food has a significant impact on their overall health and can be key to seizure treatment. A 2015 study in dogs with chronic idiopathic epilepsy reported that the dogs who ate a ketogenic diet had significantly fewer seizures than the dogs who ate a standard diet. Ketogenic diets are low in carbohydrates and high in fats. 


                    Acupuncture can help dogs with seizures. You may not be on board with acupuncture for your dog, but it's comforting to know that there are alternative seizure treatment options that have positive results for dogs.

                    How to Prevent Seizures in Dogs

                    Finally, we want to briefly cover how pet owners can prevent seizures. Of course, not all seizures, like canine idiopathic epilepsy, are preventable. However, other seizure causes can and should be avoided.

                    If your dog is experiencing seizures due to toxicity, remove the toxin from your home and your dog's environment. Toxic culprits include:

                    • Batteries
                    • Golf balls
                    • Linoleum
                    • Lead-infused paint
                    • Foil attached to bottle tops
                    • Plumbing or building materials

                    Sometimes, stress and environmental changes can trigger seizures in dogs. If you can identify your dog’s seizure trigger (your veterinarian can help you with this), you can prevent a seizure by reducing your dog’s exposure to that trigger.

                    KBr: A Final Thought

                    At the end of the day, we understand how troubling seizures in dogs can be. Not knowing when the next episode may happen can be incredibly stressful for any pet owner and leave many considering whether conventional anticonvulsant medications may be a smart move. 

                    Many dogs and cats benefit greatly from conventional anticonvulsant medications and have a better quality of life because their seizures are under control. Also, veterinarians closely monitor the health of dogs on these medications to watch out for possible liver and kidney problems. However, these medications can cause more harm than good in some dogs. Therefore, it’s worth considering all-natural alternatives.

                    Furthermore, removing seizure-causing toxins and seizure triggers can help prevent seizures. Canine seizure disorders don't have to be the end of your dog's happy, active life.













                    JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

                    JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. 

                    JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. 

                    Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!

                    Read More
                    Claritin for Dogs: Yes or No?

                    Claritin for Dogs: Yes or No?

                    Irritated eyes. Runny noses. Constant itching. Allergies plague millions of people every year. Unfortunately for our four-legged friends, allergies don't discriminate. Dog allergies can be a constant nuisance and cause quite a bit of agitation and distress, particularly during spring and summer. Knowing that (wo)man's best friend is suffering just as much as we are makes pet owners wonder what they can do to help.

                    Recently, many pet owners have begun questioning whether the same human-made allergy medications are safe and effective for their dogs. In this article, we will cover what you need to know about Claritin for dogs. Although it is among the most popular allergy medications for people, pet owners should know about a few things about Claritin before giving it to their dog.

                    claritin for dogs

                    What is Claritin for Dogs

                    In people, Claritin (scientific name, Loratadine) alleviates allergy symptoms and mild to moderate allergic reactions that often result in hives. In many cases, veterinarians prescribe Claritin for dogs for the same reasons that the drug is prescribed for people.

                    Be aware that Claritin does not cure allergies; allergies are only manageable, not treatable. Your dog will still suffer from the unpleasant symptoms when not taking the medication. Claritin temporarily relieves the symptoms and helps make the seasonal changes more bearable for Fido.

                    How Does Claritin Work

                    When histamines attach to the H-1 receptors on the smooth muscles and small blood vessels, they trigger an allergic reaction that includes sneezing, itching, irritated and watery eyes, and a runny nose. Claritin is an antihistamine. Antihistamines prevent histamines from attaching to the H-1 receptors, therefore preventing an allergic reaction.

                    What is Claritin Used For

                    Allergy Relief 

                    Just like people, dogs with allergies suffer from itchy, red eyes and runny noses. Affected dogs can also suffer from extremely irritated and itchy skin, which can cause uncontrollable fits of scratching to relieve the agitation. This constant itching, biting, and scratching can lead to many skin issues, including deep scarring and bacterial infections from open wounds. 

                    When dog allergies are at a high, veterinarians may prescribe Claritin to relieve allergy symptoms and therefore prevent more skin damage.

                    Canine Atopic Dermatitis

                    Additionally, Claritin can help alleviate symptoms of canine atopic dermatitis, which is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition resulting from hypersensitivity to normal environmental substances like dust. Affected dogs are incredibly itchy, leading to constant licking and biting in an attempt to relieve allergy symptoms. If atopic dermatitis is not treated promptly, it can quickly lead to the development of hot spots and bacterial infections. 

                    Clinical Signs of Allergies

                    Before considering whether Claritin can help your dog, pet owners must be able to recognize allergy symptoms and understand that allergies and allergic reactions have variable severity. Even if your dog's symptoms are relatively mild, your dog may still find relief from an allergy medication.


                    Sneezing is one of the most obvious signs of allergies in people and animals and is often prompted by an environmental allergen like pollen. Of course, occasional sneezing is normal. Persistent sneezing, particularly if it occurs simultaneously with an event (e.g., opening the windows, spraying perfume), is likely allergy-related.

                    Nasal discharge can accompany sneezing. When sneezing results from allergies, the discharge is typically clear. Yellow or green discharge indicates an infection requiring treatment.


                    Wheezing may also be caused by certain environmental allergens, particularly if the dog has any pre-existing breathing issues. Before prescribing an allergy medication like Claritin, your veterinarian will need to definitively identify allergies as the cause of wheezing and rule out other causes, such as bacterial pneumonia.


                    Dogs with allergies may cough, especially if they have a medical condition that affects their breathing (e.g., asthma). Once again, your vet will need to rule out serious health issues, like heart failure, that could be causing the coughing


                    If a dog’s allergic reaction narrows the airways, snoring will often ensue.

                    Chronic Ear Infections

                    It may surprise readers to learn that chronic ear infections are a telltale sign of allergies in dogs. If your dog is constantly pawing at their ears or has persistent wax buildup within the ear canal, ask your vet whether allergies may be to blame.

                    Itchy, Irritated Skin

                    Itchy, irritated skin is one of the most common signs of allergies in dogs. Although people often associate itching with bug bites, dogs can experience itchy skin from just about any allergen. Itchy skin on the back and base of the tail indicates flea allergies, while itchy, irritated skin on the paws and ears typically indicates food allergies.

                    Red, Itchy Eyes

                    Like people, dogs with allergies will often experience red, itchy eyes. Be mindful that, although eye discharge is an allergy symptom, it may also indicate something more severe, like a bacterial infection. If your dog has eye irritation, do not automatically assume allergies, as the irritation may require antibiotic treatment.

                    Gastrointestinal (GI) Issues

                    Allergy symptoms in dogs, particularly food allergies, also include GI problems. Diarrhea and vomiting often occur if a new food doesn't agree with Fido's digestive tract.

                    Swollen Itchy Paws

                    Finally, swollen, itchy paws are a sign of allergies in dogs. If your dog is constantly biting or licking their paws, swollenness and tenderness will often follow. 

                    Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction

                    Although occasional mild allergies are usually little more than an annoyance, severe allergies must be treated as a medical emergency because of the potential for anaphylaxis, which is a form of shock that can be fatal if not treated immediately.

                    Clinical signs of anaphylaxis include:

                    • Seizures
                    • Collapse
                    • Trouble breathing
                    • Excessive vomiting
                    • Excessive lethargy
                    • Uncontrollable urination
                    • Uncontrollable bowel movements

                    If you think your dog is having a severe allergic reaction, seek veterinary treatment immediately.

                    What Causes Allergies in Dogs

                    We briefly touched on how certain allergens, like environmental or food allergens, can cause specific symptoms. Pet owners should understand that many factors can lead to dog allergies and that these factors may be trickier to pinpoint and therefore harder to prevent. Most allergen triggers fall into one of four categories: environmental, food, medication, or flea and tick. 

                    Environmental Allergies

                    Environmental allergies are the most common reason that veterinarians prescribe Claritin for dogs. They are also the toughest to avoid, as it is nearly impossible to completely prevent every single environmental trigger.

                    Environmental allergens are widely variable and include:

                    • Dust
                    • Pollen
                    • Smoke
                    • Dander
                    • Perfume
                    • Laundry detergents
                    • Household cleaners
                    • Various trees, grass, and plants

                    As you can see, just about anything can cause your dog's environmental allergies. Seasonal environmental allergies are particularly problematic because your dog’s allergies can flare up depending on what’s in bloom. In these cases, Claritin may be recommended.

                    Food Allergies

                    In some cases, your dog may have a food allergy that is causing GI upset, such as diarrhea or vomiting.

                    Unfortunately, identifying specific food allergen is often quite challenging. Diagnosing a food allergy involves feeding an elimination diet, in which a dog eats nothing but a hypoallergenic diet (no treats or human food allowed!). Then, slowly, specific food is integrated back into the dog's diet to see what’s causing the allergic reaction. Although the process is tedious, it will be rewarding if the veterinarian can find the food “culprit” and keep it out of your dog’s diet moving forward.

                    Allergies to Medications

                    Many dogs have medication allergies that vary in severity. In some cases, the allergic reaction may be mild and Claritin may be all that's necessary to relieve the symptoms. In other cases, severe reactions to new medications may occur; Claritin would not be enough to relieve the reaction and medical intervention would be necessary.

                    For this reason (among many others), pet owners must keep an eye on their dog whenever a new medication is introduced. It may very well be the difference between life and death for your dog.

                    Allergies to Fleas and Ticks 

                    Finally, flea and tick allergies are very common in dogs. A single flea bite can leave Fido itching for weeks. Luckily, dog owners can take preventative measures to avoid this type of allergic reaction. Whether you choose a conventional flea medication or an all-natural alternative, flea and tick prevention is a must

                    Other Uses of Claritin for Dogs

                    Veterinarians can prescribe Claritin for more than just allergies. Read on for more Claritin uses! 

                    Mast Cell Tumors

                    Your veterinarian may prescribe Claritin to treat inflammation associated with mast cell tumors. Mast cells are full of histamine. When those cells become cancerous, they release massive amounts of histamine in a process called degranulation. Thus, many mast cell tumor symptoms closely resemble those of an allergic reaction and can be relieved with Claritin. Claritin is by no means a cure for mast cell tumors, but it can reduce their symptoms.

                    Vaccine Side Effects

                    Some dogs have allergic reactions to vaccines. Veterinarians may prescribe Claritin for these dogs to prevent vaccine-associated reactions, particularly if your dog has reacted to vaccines before.

                    Claritin Side Effects

                    Like other conventional antihistamines for dogs, Claritin has potential adverse reactions that pet owners should know about before administering it.

                    Potential adverse reactions include:

                    • Vomiting
                    • Dry mouth
                    • Drowsiness
                    • Increased thirst
                    • Urinary retention
                    • Excessively dry eyes
                    • Behavioral changes
                    • Changes in bowel movement consistency and regularity

                    Dog owners may wonder whether these potential adverse reactions are worth easing mild allergy symptoms. It truly comes down to each pet owner's individual decision. Also, be mindful that these are potential adverse reactions; your dog may not experience any of them while on Claritin. Nonetheless, if you have any concerns about giving Claritin to your dog, discuss these concerns with your veterinarian and determine what is best for your dog.

                    Additional Precautions

                    Before prescribing Claritin, your veterinarian should know about your dog’s pre-existing health issues and medication allergies. For instance, your dog should not take Claritin if they have an allergy to loratadine (Claritin) or desloratadine (Clarinex). Additionally, dogs with liver or kidney disease should be closely monitored when taking Claritin.

                    Claritin Dosage

                    Claritin dosage depends on several factors, primarily body weight and allergy severity. The recommended dosage is 0.2 mg Claritin/pound of body weight. All dogs are different, so follow your veterinarian’s prescribed dose.

                    Which Claritin Formula is Safe?

                    For people, many Claritin formulations are available. However, not all human Claritin formulations are safe for Fido.

                    Plain Claritin or Children's Claritin

                    The only versions of Claritin deemed safe for dogs are plain Claritin and Children's Claritin. Additionally, stick to the tablet form to ensure that the active ingredient is solely antihistamine.

                    NEVER CLARITIN-D

                    *IMPORTANT* NEVER, EVER GIVE YOUR DOG CLARITIN-D. Claritin-D contains pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine can be lethal in dogs, even in the smallest amount. If you think your dog has ingested pseudoephedrine, call the ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline at (888) 426-4435.

                    Claritin Overdose in Dogs

                    When dog owners correctly administer Claritin to their dogs, overdoses are very uncommon. However, when they do occur, they can be extremely dangerous. Therefore, dog owners must ensure that they are administering Claritin appropriately.

                    Additional Allergy Medicine for Dogs 

                    When choosing an antihistamine for dogs, several factors should be considered. Many antihistamines come in chewable, dissolvable, and liquid forms. However, many antihistamines contain artificial sweeteners (including xylitol) that can be incredibly toxic and even fatal when consumed.

                    The top three options of antihistamines for dogs are:

                    1. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
                    2. Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
                    3. Loratadine (Claritin)

                    Benadryl for Dogs 

                    Benadryl is the most commonly prescribed over-the-counter human medication for dogs. It works like Claritin to manage allergies and allergic reactions. However, unlike Claritin, Benadryl is also used as a mild sedative and is often recommended to manage anxiety in dogs, particularly while traveling. Veterinarians may also prescribe Benadryl to alleviate motion sickness in dogs.

                    Zyrtec for Dogs

                    Zyrtec is often recommended for dogs suffering from allergic reactions associated with allergic contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis. It relieves symptoms such as inflammation, hives, itching, and swelling.

                    Read the Label! Ask Your Vet!

                    As with all medications, you must read the label. Some antihistamines contain additional medications that help relieve cold and flu symptoms. These additional medications may not be good for your dog.

                    Why Choose All-Natural Alternatives

                    It isn't always discussed that these antihistamines work in only about 30% of dogs that take them. The other 70% of dogs don’t experience much allergy relief and may also experience adverse reactions.

                    Luckily, some safe and effective all-natural remedies can be used as alternatives to conventional antihistamines.

                    Claritin for Dogs: The Bottom Line

                    Our pets mean the world to us and we would do anything in our power to ensure their happiness and well-being. For treating and preventing seasonal allergies, Claritin may help your dog get the relief they need and deserve. However, in other cases, conventional antihistamines for dogs may not help as much as you want them to. Other dogs may experience adverse reactions with very little allergy relief.

                    As a responsible pet owner, you should take the time to learn as much as you can about a new medication before giving it to your dog. Knowledge is power. The more you know about a drug, the better you’ll be able to make a decision that most benefits your dog's wellbeing.










                    JoAnna Pendergrass

                    JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

                    JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. 

                    JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. 

                    Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!

                    Read More
                    Galliprant: The Right Choice For Your Dog?

                    Galliprant: The Right Choice For Your Dog?

                    Your four-legged family member means the world to you. Trust us, we get it. Here at Honest Paws, we are all dog owners. Therefore, we understand how heart-wrenching it can be to witness your dog getting older and experiencing the aches and pains associated with aging.

                    Unfortunately, dogs are notorious for hiding their pain. When your dog can no longer their pain, oftentimes the pain has progressed quite a bit. Therefore, pet owners must know the clinical signs of pain to be able to recognize when their dog is in pain and needs help.

                    Furthermore, pet owners need to know what to do after recognizing their dog’s pain. A trip to your vet's office will likely leave you with a canine anti-inflammatory medication that relieves the pain but has many potential negative side effects.

                    In this article, we'll cover a relatively new medication called Galliprant. We'll also discuss alternative treatment options that are available and why you should strongly consider them.

                    Pet owners should understand the pros and cons of any new medicine prior to giving it to their furry friend. 

                    Let's begin!

                    What is Galliprant for Dogs

                    Galliprant (scientific name, grapiprant) for dogs is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that treats pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, also known as oa pain. It requires a prescription and should only be administered under veterinary supervision. 


                    • How Does Galliprant Work

                      Many NSAIDs manage oa pain by inhibiting the COX enzyme, which produces inflammatory substances called prostaglandins. Thus, by inhibiting the COX enzyme, NSAIDs inhibit inflammation. However, these anti-inflammatory medications target the entire COX pathway, including its protective functions. Therefore, many adverse reactions may develop.

                      Galliprant is different. Rather than targeting the COX enzyme, it inhibits the EP4 receptor, the main contributor of oa pain and inflammation. Galliprant does this without involving the COX pathway.

                      In fact, due to its safety margins, Galliprant is one of the only NSAIDs that doesn't require regular monitoring of the vital organs that is often necessary for other NSAIDs. Additionally, studies have found that many dogs who weren't able to tolerate other conventional NSAIDs could tolerate Galliprant without any issues.

                      What is Galliprant Used For

                      Veterinarians prescribe Galliprant for the control of pain and inflammation associated with canine osteoarthritis. Arthritis is a general term used to describe joint inflammation. There are many different types of arthritis, with osteoarthritis being the most common type in dogs. Osteoarthritis affects approximately 20 to 25% dogs.

                      What is Canine Osteoarthritis 

                      Osteoarthritis is typically a chronic, progressive disease. It often develops as the joint cartilage break down from years of constant activity, resulting in accumulated wear and tear on the joints

                      It can also develop early on or very rapidly. For example, canine osteoarthritis can develop before a dog is one years old. Galliprant could be a good choice in this case it is safe to use in dogs as young as nine months old. However, even with Galliprant, long term use requires regular monitoring to ensure that vital organs like the kidneys and liver are still functioning properly.

                      Signs of Osteoarthritis in Dogs

                      Because osteoarthritis can develop at any age, dog owners should be able to recognize its signs.

                      One sign, which is subtle and can occur early, is a reluctance to do certain activities that were once enjoyable. Osteoarthritis pain can make even the simplest things more challenging. For example, your dog may shy away from going on walks or find little interest in playing catch. 

                      Other signs include

                      • Lethargy 
                      • General stiffness
                      • Decreased mobility
                      • Reluctance to stand 
                      • Difficulty laying down 
                      • Sleeping excessively 
                      • Intermittent lameness
                      • Moving slowly with caution 
                      • Limping or dragging the limbs
                      • Weight gain (from lack of movement)
                      • Visible joint deformities, including swelling
                      • Personality changes (e.g., irritability, depression)
                      • Aggression, especially if arthritic joints are touched

                    galliprant treats osteoarthritis in dogs

                    Many of these signs are non-specific, meaning that they can also be associated with other conditions. For this reason, your veterinarian must accurately diagnose your dog’s osteoarthritis. Your veterinarian can also identify underlying health issues, such as obesity, that may need to be addressed before or during osteoarthritis treatment

                    What Are NSAIDs for Dogs

                    Dog owners should have a solid understanding of what NSAIDs are. Even though studies report that Galliprant has markedly fewer negative side effects than those of other NSAIDs, it is still very much an NSAID. 

                    NSAIDs are primarily prescribed to manage pain and inflammation from many ailments, but are frequently prescribed for osteoarthritis pain. NSAIDs may also be prescribed to manage postoperative pain. Common NSAIDs include Carprofen Rimadyl, Metacam (meloxicam), Deramaxx (deracoxib), and Previcox (firocoxib)

                    Here's where things get worrisome. All NSAIDs come with many potential negative side effects. Although Galliprant's negative side effects aren't as severe as those found with other NSAIDs, they still very much exist. Pet parents must know the side effects of whichever NSAID their dog is prescribed. Also, know that you have options. If you are uncomfortable giving your dog an NSAID that may cause liver or kidney damage, for example, you may want to explore other treatment alternatives. 

                    NSAID Overdose 

                    NSAID overdoses occur in dogs and can happen more easily than you think. For example, Rimadyl chewable tablets are liver-flavored, which makes them easy for pet parents to administer. However, it also makes Fido think of them as more of a treat than a medication. Pet owners must keep all medications out of reach of their dogs. Overdoses can cause severe illness, including bloody vomiting

                    Galliprant Dosage

                    When administering Galliprant, follow your veterinarian’s prescribing instructions regarding the dose. We understand just how much a pet parent wants than to alleviate their dog's osteoarthritis pain. However, by no means should a dog owner increase the dose without first talking to their vet. Although many dogs experience only minor negative side effects, if any at all, a Galliprant overdose can make dogs very ill and should always be avoided. 

                    Your veterinarian will determine the most appropriate Galliprant dose for your dog’s needs. Keeping that in mind, most dogs experience relief from either one whole or one-half tablet administered once a day. 

                    Galliprant Precautions

                    Before prescribing Galliprant, your veterinarian needs to be aware of your dog’s current prescription medications. Additionally, make sure your vet knows about any allergies and concurrent health issues. This information will help prevent any negative interactions.

                    For instance, dogs should not take Galliprant in combination with any corticosteroids or COX-inhibiting NSAIDs. Also, dogs with a high sensitivity to Galliprant should not take it.

                    Finally, because Galliprant is still a relatively new prescription medication, other precautions are still being investigated. For instance, Galliprant has not been tested on dogs less than 9 months and 8lbs, as well as pregnant or lactating dogs, or dogs that suffer from cardiac disease. With all medications, it is always a good idea to occasionally check with the drug company to see if any new information is available.

                    small dogs should not take galliprant

                    Galliprant Side Effects

                    Unlike many other NSAIDs, Galliprant's side effects are infrequent and mild.

                    The side effects include:

                    • Vomiting
                    • Diarrhea
                    • Lethargy
                    • Decreased appetite

                    Gastrointestinal (GI) issues are fairly common with NSAIDs. However, with Galliprant, many pet owners report that GI issues aren't nearly as severe as they are with other NSAIDs

                    Alternative Pain Medication for Dogs and Cats

                    Many pet parents find themselves actively seeking alternative pain medications that have even fewer potential adverse reactions. It makes sense. Sure, a conventional drug like Galliprant may relieve your dog's osteoarthritis pain and discomfort but could cause some spells of GI upset or excessive lethargy. Luckily, there are natural ways that dog owners can relieve Fido's pain and avoid NSAIDs’ negative side effects

                    Glucosamine for Dogs and Cats

                    Glucosamine is a natural compound made of a sugar and an amino acid (glucose+glutamine). It promotes the growth and repair of cartilage and synovial fluid and protects the joints. The body produces glucosamine naturally, but adding a glucosamine supplement to a dog’s diet can enhance overall joint health. Glucosamine supplements also serve as a preventive to preserve good joint health.


                    Finally... diet, diet, diet! We cannot stress the importance of diet enough. For instance, adding a supplement such as omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., fish oil) can significantly reduce osteoarthritis pain. Additionally, a raw food diet may help promote good joint health. Whichever diet you choose for your dog, make sure that it encompasses all of the necessary nutrition that their body needs. This is crucial for raw food diets, which can either miss nutrients or not have the proper nutritional balance. Trust us, a healthy diet really matters in the long run.

                    raw dog food is the best option

                    Galliprant for Dogs: A Final Thought

                    When all is said and done, we want to reiterate that osteoarthritis in dogs should by no means be the end of life as they once knew it. Between advancements in traditional veterinary medicine and new discoveries in holistic wellness, your canine does not have to live in pain. 

                    However, before eagerly agreeing to a new, promising medication, know what is at stake. Do the pros greatly outweigh the cons? Are there alternative options available? Knowledge is power. The more you know about your dog's condition and the medication prescribed to treat it, the better decision you will be able to make for your dog's well-being and quality of life. 

                    Pain relief is possible and maybe closer than you think.

                    We sincerely hope your canine feels better soon. 








                    JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

                    JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. 

                    JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. 

                    Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!

                    Read More
                    Carprofen: Worth The Risk?

                    Carprofen: Worth The Risk?

                    Being a pet parent is a rewarding experience. Nonstop love and affection. A cuddle buddy. The best partner in crime that anyone could ask for. Dogs are so special and we are so lucky to have them. However, no one said that being responsible for your four-legged companion's complete and total wellbeing was going to be easy. Most pet parents realize that pet ownership isn't always rainbows and butterflies.

                    It is difficult to watch your once bumbling little pup get older and experience age-related pain. Moreover, most pet parents know that dogs are notorious for hiding their distress and pain. Therefore, if your dog is showing signs of pain, they’re likely suffering a lot. It's heart-wrenching to think about.

                    If you recognize that your beloved dog isn't doing well, the next step is to consider what you can do to fix it. The question, "what can I give my dog for pain" is one of the highest-searched queries on Google on pet care. We hope to answer that question (spoiler alert, it may not be what you think).

                    In this article, you’ll learn all about carprofen, a commonly prescribed pain medication for dogs. Although we understand that you'll do just about anything to lessen your dog's pain, pet parents must understand carprofen’s risks, which you shouldn't take lightly. Let's get to it.


                    What is Carprofen

                    Carprofen is a non-narcotic, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). As a veterinarian-prescribed medication, carprofen helps alleviate post-surgical and arthritic pain and inflammation.

                    Other Names for Carprofen

                    Carprofen for dogs also goes by many different brand names, listed below. Be aware that they are the same medication and therefore will have the same potential adverse effects.

                    • Acticarp
                    • Austiofen
                    • Bomazeal
                    • Canidryl
                    • Carporal
                    • Carprieve
                    • Carprocow
                    • Carprodolor
                    • Carprodyl
                    • Carprofelican
                    • Carprofen
                    • Carprofène
                    • Carprofeno
                    • Carprofenum
                    • Carprogesic
                    • Carprosol
                    • Carprotab
                    • Carprox
                    • Comforion
                    • Dolagis
                    • Dolocarp
                    • Dolox
                    • Eurofen
                    • Kelaprofen
                    • Librevia
                    • Norocarp
                    • Norodyl
                    • Novocox
                    • Prolet
                    • Reproval
                    • Rimadyl
                    • Rimifin
                    • Rofeniflex
                    • Rycarfa
                    • Scanodyl
                    • Tergive
                    • Vetprofen
                    • Xelcor

                    pills pills pills

                    The carprofen brand that your veterinarian prescribes will mostly depend on the country in which you live, although many countries have nearly all of the drugs available.

                    What Are NSAIDs for Dogs

                    Common NSAIDs for human consumption include aspirin and Advil. They provide short-term pain relief. For example, we’ll take them for the occasional headache or minor ache. Chronic use of NSAIDs in people (especially older people), though, can cause negative side effects like intestinal damage. Yet, some NSAIDs for dogs may be prescribed for long-term use to reduce arthritic pain, among other ailments. Doesn't make much sense... does it?

                    Some of the most commonly prescribed NSAID drugs for dogs include:

                    • Rimadyl 
                    • Deramaxx
                    • Previcox
                    • Metacam
                    • Zubrin

                    These medications have many potential adverse reactions that could make your head spin. This article will focus on carprofen.

                    How Does Carprofen Work

                    The precise chemical mechanism of carprofen is unknown. Many experts believe that carprofen inhibits the COX enzyme, keeping inflammation from developing and spreading. Thus, carprofen is an anti-inflammatory drug.

                    What is Carprofen Used For

                    Veterinarians typically prescribe carprofen to either:

                    1. Treat osteoarthritis-related pain and discomfort 
                    2. Treat post-surgical pain and inflammation

                    Treating Osteoarthritis with Carprofen

                    Osteoarthritis (arthritis) is a common condition that can be managed, not cured, with carprofen. As a dog ages, wear and tear on the cartilage and joints leads to arthritis. Unfortunately, arthritis puts dogs in a lot of pain

                    Carprofen reduces osteoarthritis symptoms. In some cases, orthopedic surgeries may be necessary for long-term pain management. Remember, though, that osteoarthritis itself is not curable, only manageable.

                    caprofen is used to treat osteoarthritis in dogs

                    Carprofen for Hip Dysplasia

                    Veterinarians also prescribe carprofen to treat hip dysplasia, which occurs when the ball of the femur (thigh bone) doesn’t fit in the hip socket. Over time, hip dysplasia can cause painful arthritis. It occurs commonly in large breed dogs

                    Post-Surgical Pain

                    Finally, veterinarians prescribe carprofen to help manage pain and inflammation after surgical or dental procedures. carpofen is used for post-operative pain

                    Is My Dog in Pain 

                    We previously mentioned that dogs are notorious for hiding pain, something that all dog owners must know. Therefore, if your dog is showing any signs of distress, you must act right away because the pain has likely progressed.

                    Common symptoms of osteoarthritis pain include limping, lameness, and stiffness. Osteoarthritis pain can also cause a once-active dog to struggle to walk up and down the stairs or jump into the car.

                    Additionally, dogs in pain typically hide or retreat under the bed. Even the most social dogs will run and hide when company comes over for fear that any physical attention will cause them to experience more pain.

                    How is Carprofen Administered

                    Your veterinarian will consider your dog’s individual needs to decide the best way to administer carprofen to your dog. For example, if the drug is prescribed to treat post-operative pain, it will likely be administered approximately two hours before the surgery.

                    Carprofen comes in three forms:

                    • Chewable tablets ( 25 mg, 75 mg, and 100 mg)
                    • Caplets/capsules (25 mg, 75 mg, and 100 mg)
                    • Injection (administered only by a licensed veterinarian)

                    Carprofen Precautions

                    Even before you weigh the pros and cons of carprofen, realize that there are many dogs who shouldn't take carprofen due to preexisting conditions and other medication interactions.

                    Before prescribing carprofen, your veterinarian needs to know all about your dog's health, including allergies and currently prescribed medications. Carprofen should not be given to dogs with the following health conditions: 

                    • Nursing
                    • Pregnancy
                    • Dehydration
                    • Liver disease
                    • Kidney disease
                    • Hypoproteinemia
                    • Bleeding disorders
                    • High blood pressure
                    • Cardiovascular disease
                    • Congestive heart failure
                    • Renal disease or reduced renal function
                    • Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, including preexisting gastric bleeding or ulcers

                    Additionally, the following medications may have a negative interaction with carprofen:

                    • Aspirin
                    • Diuretics
                    • Other NSAIDs
                    • Nephrotoxic medications
                    • Anticoagulant medications
                    • Corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone)

                    Carprofen Without Vet Prescription

                    Momentarily, we will cover all of carprofen’s potential adverse reactions. First, we want to discuss an important fact about today's internet.

                    The internet can be both a wonderful and very scary thing. With the creation of many dog medication websites, pet owners can purchase medication with the click of a button without seeing their veterinarian first. We cannot stress enough that this is extremely dangerous. Your vet must be involved with diagnosing your dog and prescribing an accurate dose of medication. Pet owners should never, ever guess what and how much of a drug their dog needs.

                    Even though purchasing carprofen (or any medication for that matter) online is likely cheaper and "easier," doing so can put place your dog’s health in peril. Please, don't do it.

                    you can only get carprofen through a prescription

                    Carprofen Side Effects

                    If your veterinarian has recently prescribed carprofen to ease your dog's pain and inflammation, take some time to understand its side effects

                    Carprofen doesn’t work in all dogs. In some cases, it will effectively reduce pain and inflammation and help your dog get back on their feet. However, in other cases, carprofen may be ineffective or make dogs extremely ill.

                    GI Effects

                    Some dogs will experience adverse reactions, listed below, that affect their GI system, specifically the stomach and small intestine. 

                    • Diarrhea
                    • Constipation
                    • Reduced appetite
                    • Vomiting, possibly bloody
                    • GI ulceration
                    • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
                    • Black, tarry stools (resulting from GI bleeding)

                    Neurological Effects

                    Neurological effects of carprofen involve the nervous system (including the spine and brain) and include:

                    • Seizures
                    • Disorientation
                    • Ataxia (incoordination)
                    • Partial or total paralysis

                    Urinary Effects

                    Urinary effects of carprofen in dogs include:

                    • Excessive drinking
                    • Excessive urination
                    • Urinary tract infection
                    • Hematuria (blood in the urine)
                    • Urinary incontinence 
                    • Acute tubular necrosis
                    • Acute kidney failure
                    • Glucosuria (glucose in the urine)

                    Hematologic Effects (Blood)

                    Hematologic effects of carprofen include:

                    • Frequent nose bleeds
                    • Reduced red blood cell function
                    • Severe anemia caused by blood loss in diarrhea, vomit, or urine
                    • Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (low platelet count; clinically seen as bruising and bleeding)

                    Hepatic Effects (Liver)

                    Approximately 0.2% of dogs taking carprofen will experience hepatic effects. Before prescribing carprofen, your vet will make sure that your dog’s liver function has not been compromised by any other medication or preexisting health condition. Furthermore, you will need to schedule routine check-ups so your veterinarian can monitor your dog’s liver enzymes and determine whether those enzyme levels are elevated, indicating liver problems.

                    Liver problems will often have the following clinical signs and blood work results:

                    • Vomiting
                    • Elevated liver enzymes
                    • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
                    • Reduced appetite (often the first symptom)

                    Behavioral Effects

                    Although pain itself can cause behavioral changes in pets, carprofen can also cause several behavioral changes in pets. Make sure that you know your dog's "normal" behavior to quickly recognize when something is off.

                    Examples of carprofen’s behavioral effects include:

                    • Lethargy
                    • Sedation
                    • Hyperactivity
                    • Restlessness
                    • Aggressive actions
                    • Disinterest in activities once enjoyed

                    Immunologic Effects

                    Immunological effects can occur if a dog is allergic to carprofen. Contact your vet straight away if you notice any of the signs listed below. Rarely, death has resulted from carprofen allergies.

                    • Hives
                    • Facial swelling
                    • Red and irritated skin

                    Dermatological Effects

                    Carprofen’s dermatological effects affect the skin, nails, and hair and include:

                    • Abdominal bruising
                    • Excessive shedding and subsequent hair loss
                    • Skin lesions that are often raw and extremely painful
                    • Cell death in inflamed fatty tissues and inflamed blood vessels 
                    • Constant itching, irritation, scratching, biting, etc. caused by inflammation

                    Carprofen Overdose

                    Pet owners must keep carprofen out of reach of animals and children. The chewable form of the drug is liver-flavored, a taste that dogs love, making it easier for pet parents to administer the drug. However, this also means that overdoses are more likely to occur if the dog can access the medication, as they likely think of it more as a treat than medicine.

                    Clinical signs of overdose include:

                    • Lethargy
                    • Seizures
                    • Excessive thirst
                    • Excessive vomiting
                    • Excessive diarrhea
                    • Increased urination
                    • Severe abdominal pain
                    • Blood in vomit or stools

                    carprofen may cause dog vomiting

                    If you recognize any of these symptoms, immediately get your dog emergency medical treatment. A carprofen overdose can cause severe gastric ulcers and kidney failure.

                    Carprofen Controversy... More Bad News

                    Unfortunately, carprofen is a controversial drug (Google "Rimadyl Controversy" to see for yourself). Here's what happened.

                    Carprofen was once thought to be almost magical. There were tons of commercials airing that showed dogs who were once “floor bound” from pain now leaping through grass and having the time of their lives. However, these commercials abruptly stopped airing as more stories emerged about carprofen (more specifically, Rimadyl) causing sudden, unexplained deaths.

                    From liver cancer to seizures to stomach ruptures leading to internal bleeding, pet owners were finding that their dogs' health decline all had one thing in common: carprofen.

                    Despite these tragic stories related to carprofen, the drug can still truly be a gamechanger for many dogs. Hence, veterinarians continue to prescribe carprofen, always keeping a vigilant eye on how dogs respond to the drug. We encourage our readers to always do their research before agreeing to a new medication and closely monitor their dog’s health on the new medication.

                    Additional NSAIDs for Dogs

                    Carprofen is only one of many NSAIDs that pet owners should be aware of. NSAIDs are commonly prescribed to treat pain and, at one point or another, you may leave your vet’s office with an NSAID prescription.

                    Rimadyl for Dogs

                    Throughout the article, you've heard us mention Rimadyl and carprofen interchangeably. This is because Rimadyl is one of the many brand names of carprofen. 

                    Novox for Dogs

                    Norvox is another NSAID for dogs that treats pain and inflammation stemming from arthritis and other joint diseases.

                    Meloxicam for Dogs

                    Meloxicam for dogs is an NSAID that eases inflammation, stiffness, and pain stemming from musculoskeletal system disorders.

                    All of these NSAIDs alleviate pain and inflammation. However, like other conventional medications, they all have potential adverse reactions. Make sure you understand any and all associated risks prior to administering new medication.

                    meloxicam for dogs

                    All-Natural Alternatives

                    With that being said, it's no wonder why so many pet owners are desperately trying to find alternative, all-natural ways to treat their pet's ailments. Luckily, we live in a time in which information about holistic medicine is on the rise, thus allowing us to have options in the ways we treat our beloved fur babies.

                    However, before we get to alternatives, we want to briefly reiterate one important fact. Carprofen is not a cure or long-term solution. Therefore, pet owners must ask themselves how they are going to find long-term relief for their dog.

                    When we trace the vast majority of ailments back to the root, we find that they all have one major thing in common: inflammation. An effective way to find long-term relief is to focus on treating the underlying cause. Although carprofen may provide temporary relief, it is up to you to work with your veterinarian to get to the root of the issue and treat it accordingly.  

                    Carprofen: The Bottom Line

                    When all is said and done, we know that you only want the very best for your four-legged companion. Recognizing that your dog is in pain is heartbreaking and leaves pet parents wondering how to proceed. We want to stress that you know the associated risks of the conventional medication that your veterinarian prescribed for your dog.

                    A life full of pain is no way to live. We sincerely hope that your pup feels better soon.








                    JoAnna Pendergrass

                     JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

                    JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. 

                    JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. 

                    Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!

                    Read More
                    Levetiracetam for Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

                    Levetiracetam for Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

                    One of the most terrifying, heart-wrenching moments in a dog owner's life is witnessing their beloved dog have a seizure. Seconds feel like hours as you watch your pup convulse uncontrollably. No pet parent ever wants their dog to have seizures and will do just about anything to help stop them.

                    If your dog has recently had their first seizure, there’s a lot to learn before beginning medication. Most anticonvulsant drugs have potential adverse effects and necessary precautions that all dog owners should know about.

                    In this article, we will cover one of the newer anticonvulsant drugs called levetiracetam and the important details that you need to know before beginning treatment. Let's get started!

                    Levetiracetam for Dogs

                    What are Seizures in Dogs

                    Before we jump into talking about levetiracetam, we want to briefly discuss seizures and why dogs have them.

                    Up to 5% of all dogs suffer from seizures, but what exactly are they? Seizures are uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. This abnormal electrical activity often produces a physical convulsion, thought disturbances, secondary physical signs, or, at times, a combination of symptoms. Epilepsy describes repeated episodes of seizures.

                    What Causes Seizures in Dogs

                    Most seizure disorders in dogs are classified as idiopathic epilepsy, which is an inherited condition with an unknown cause.

                    In other cases, seizures may be caused by the following conditions:

                    • Brain tumor
                    • Brain trauma
                    • Liver disease
                    • Kidney failure
                    • Toxic poisoning

                    Seizures in Dogs: What Provokes Them?

                    Seizure episodes occur during changes in brain activity. For example, excitement or stress can trigger a seizure. If your dog suffers from seizures and anxiety, you’ll need to learn how to appropriately manage both. (More on that in a moment!)

                    Breeds At Risk of Seizures

                    Many dog breeds are prone to seizures and epilepsy.

                    These breeds include:

                    • Vizsla
                    • Beagle
                    • Keeshond
                    • Belgian Tervuren
                    • Golden Retriever
                    • Labrador Retriever
                    • Shetland Sheepdog

                    That being said, any dog can have seizures.

                    What is Levetiracetam for Dogs

                    Now, back to the topic at hand.

                    Levetiracetam is the generic name for Keppra. Your vet may use the names interchangeably. It is a newer prescription medication that treats seizures and epilepsy in dogs.

                    Levetiracetam tablets can be used alone or in combination with other anticonvulsant medications. Combination therapy with levetiracetam lowers the required dosage of the other anticonvulsant medication, helping to reduce the negative side effects. Because the side effects of traditional anticonvulsant medications can be severe, many pet owners are actively seeking drugs like levetiracetam to lessen and prevent such adverse effects. 

                    Levetiracetam for Dogs

                    Traditional Anticonvulsant Medications

                    Traditional anticonvulsant medications for dogs are phenobarbital and potassium bromide (KBr). Unfortunately, many dogs cannot tolerate these mediciations; pet owners want to avoid the potential adverse effects associated with both. 

                    On their own, phenobarbital and KBr cannot always reduce a dog’s seizure frequency or severity. Therefore, a dog may experience the harsh side effects of these drugs with no improvement in their seizures. In these cases, a vet may add another drug like levetiracetam to the treatment regimen to help reduce seizure frequency and severity.

                    Dangers of Phenobarbital

                    • Short-term: lethargy, fatigue, nervousness, ataxia (a lack of coordination)
                    • Long-term: anemia and liver damage (including scarring of the liver tissue, which can lead to serious liver dysfunction)

                    Dangers of KBr

                    • Short-term: irritability, vomiting, ataxia, hind limb instability 
                    • Long-term: bromide toxicity, which damages vital organs

                    Benefits of Levetiracetam for Dogs

                    Levetiracetam’s main benefit for dogs is its ability to treat seizures and lessen the need for drugs that can cause serious organ damage.

                    If you are actively seeking an alternative to phenobarbital and KBr, consider asking your veterinarian about whether levetiracetam might be an appropriate solution. Even in cases that require phenobarbital or KBr, adding levetiracetam can significantly decrease the dosage of these potentially harmful medications.

                    Disadvantages of Levetiracetam for Dogs

                    Levetiracetam’s main disadvantage is its dosing regimen: in most cases, it must be given three times a day, which is quite inconvenient for many pet owners.

                    Until recently, another disadvantage of levetiracetam was its high cost. Fortunately, the availability of the generic version of the drug resolved this issue.

                    Levetiracetam Dosage

                    Levetiracetam is available in 500-mg and 750-mg extended-release tablets and 250 mg, 500 mg, 750 mg, and 1000 mg regular tablets. It is also available as an oral liquid.

                    In many cases, the drug must be administered three times a day. In some cases, the extended-release tablets can be administered twice daily. Frequent dosing is necessary because the body rapidly metabolizes levetiracetam, which helps minimize liver and kidney damage. 

                    Levetiracetam Side Effects 

                    Although side effects are less frequent with levetiracetam than traditional anticonvulsant medications for dogs, it is not entirely safe. Pet owners should know about levetiracetam’s common side effects, listed below: 

                    • Behavioral changes
                    • Lethargy and drowsiness 
                    • Gastrointestinal upset (e.g., vomiting or diarrhea)

                    Precautions for Levetiracetam for Dogs

                    Levetiracetam has several precautions, described below.

                    Pregnancy and Nursing

                    Levetiracetam should not be given to dogs who are pregnant because it can cause embryonal and fetal loss. However, if your dog is pregnant and having seizures, your vet may still prescribe the drug if they believe it’s necessary to control the seizures.

                    Levetiracetam is not for pregnant or lactating dogs

                    Kidney Function

                    Levetiracetam should be used with caution in dogs with poor kidney function. Although it is certainly safer than other anticonvulsants, levetiracetam can negatively affect kidney function, particularly if kidney function is already impaired.

                    Stopping Levetiracetam

                    Finally, levetiracetam should never be stopped suddenly. Doing so can cause erratic seizure activity. Always follow your vet’s instructions for gradually stopping a medication, especially anticonvulsant medications.

                    Dangers of Conventional Anticonvulsant Medications

                    With improved diagnostic tools, veterinarians are diagnosing seizures more frequently, leaving pet owners in a tough spot: what to do next. Of course, we do not advocate against the use of conventional medications; many pets benefit greatly from them. However, we want pet parents to know about these medications and their potential dangers.

                    For instance, conventional anticonvulsant medications can negatively affect liver and kidney function. Thus, a veterinarian must routinely monitor kidney and liver function when a dog is taking one of these medications. Because anticonvulsant medications are given lifelong, the expense of this routine monitoring can really add up, not even counting the cost of the medication. Pet parents may wonder if reducing seizure frequency and severity is worth the risk of serious organ damage (and the cost of monitoring).

                    Additionally, even when the conventional anti-seizure medications are administered correctly, there are several forms of drug-resistant epilepsy which cause the drugs not to work. Sadly, you read that correctly. Pet parents are inadvertently flooding their dog's body with chemicals and toxins for no reason. This often results in the development of a slew of other conditions without any change in the severity of frequency of seizure activity.

                    Other Anticonvulsant medications

                    Finally, we want to briefly mention other anticonvulsant medications—primidone and zonisamide—that are available for dogs. Being aware of all medications will help you make an educated decision to manage your dog’s seizures.


                    Primidone can help dogs for whom phenobarbital was not effective at seizure control.

                    • Short-term effects: weight loss, lethargy, ataxia 
                    • Long-term effects: hepatic necrosis, hepatic fibrosis, cirrhosis 


                    Zonisamide helps prevent the spread of seizures in the brain.

                    • Short-term effects: ataxia, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting
                    • Long-term effects: hyperthermia, skin reactions, blood disorders

                    As you can see, the short-term and long-term effects of nearly every conventional anticonvulsant are worrisome.

                    Levetiracetam Alternatives

                    Every day, more parents are turning to holistic alternatives to treat and prevent their dogs' ailments. It's no surprise why. The laundry list of the potential adverse effects - not to mention, a possible allergic reaction - of conventional medications can be mind-boggling. Luckily, there are safe and effective natural to help our pets.

                    Food Therapy

                    Pet owners may not fully understand food’s incredible power on managing seizures. A specifically formulated diet can truly be a game-changer when it comes to treating seizures. Ketogenic diets, which are low in carbohydrates and high in fats, can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of seizure activity.

                    Furthermore, diet affects your dog’s overall health and well-being. For example, dogs suffering from kidney damage associated with many anticonvulsants can benefit from a diet that doesn’t overwork the kidneys

                    Holistic wellness experts often recommend a species-specific raw food diet. However, raw food diets, when not properly prepared, can expose pets to harmful bacteria and have nutritional deficiencies. As always, we encourage our readers to consult with a holistic vet in terms of dietary changes that can best suit your dog's individual needs. 


                    Acupuncture can help manage and reduce seizures in dogs and people. Of course, we understand that all of our readers won’t be on board with acupuncture. Yet, it’s still nice to know that there are alternative options available.

                    acupuncture for dogs

                    Know What To Do For An Epileptic Dog

                    Pet parents should know what to do when their dog has a seizure. Of course, the first seizure is always the scariest, but realize that seizures aren’t painful. However, seizures leave dogs very confused about what just happened to them.

                    During the seizure, the most important thing that you can do is keep the external environment as quiet and calm as possible; bright lights and loud noises can worsen the seizure. Also, keep other animals out of the room. Witnessing your dog’s seizure is just as scary for your pets as it is for you; their cries and barks can also worsen the seizure.

                    Stressors like anxiety and excitement can trigger seizures. If you know that a certain situation will trigger a seizure, minimize your dog’s exposure to that trigger to prevent a seizure from starting in the first place.

                    Stay Alert

                    Finally, we encourage our readers to stay up to date on information about seizures and epilepsy in dogs. For instance, in late 2018, the FDA reported that certain flea and tick medications may cause seizures in dogs. Knowing these new findings and making appropriate changes can truly make a world of difference for your dog.

                    Levetiracetam for Dogs: The Bottom Line

                    At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your pets. Unfortunately, no one said that being a pet parent was always going to be a walk in the park; having a dog with seizures underscores that point

                    We firmly believe that being well informed about a pet’s disease is a key aspect of responsible pet ownership. By understanding the disorder and what causes it, you can find a way to effectively treat or manage it. Regarding seizures, understanding the pros and cons of conventional anticonvulsant medications will equip you with questions to ask your veterinarian and help you make an educated decision about your dog’s care. Also, knowing that you have holistic options will help you make a decision that you feel comfortable about.

                    Seizures and epilepsy in dogs can be scary for pet owners. However, they are by no means a death sentence. Dogs with epilepsy can live long, happy lives once their symptoms are recognized and their condition is treated. Medications like levetiracetam can help. We encourage our readers to do all they can to support their veterinarian’s treatment plan for controlling seizures.

                    Above all, ask questions when you have them. You are not alone in the world of pet parenting. We sincerely hope your beloved companion feels better soon.  











                    JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

                    JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. 

                    JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. 

                    Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!

                    Read More
                    Deramaxx: Side Effects & Precautions

                    Deramaxx: Side Effects & Precautions

                    One of the worst feelings for pet owners is knowing that their beloved dog is in pain. A trip to the veterinarian will often leave you with a conventional pain medication that you may not know much about or even be able to pronounce. As dog owners who love and care deeply about our furry companions, we trust our veterinarians’ recommendations because, more than anything, we want Fido to feel better.

                    However, many conventional medications come with a long list of potential adverse reactions. We encourage you to keep reading before agreeing to give your dog the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), Deramaxx.


                    What is Deramaxx for Dogs 

                    Deramaxx (scientific name, deracoxib) is a non-narcotic NSAID. NSAIDs are prescribed to alleviate fever, pain, and inflammation in dogs and people. You’re likely familiar with NSAIDs like ibuprofen. Like ibuprofen, Deramaxx has a long list of potential adverse side effects. We’ll get to that a bit later.

                    Deramaxx relieves pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis in dogs and orthopedic and post-operative pain from dental surgery. 

                    Deramaxx is used for post-operative care

                    Deramaxx Dosage 

                    Deramaxx must be prescribed by a veterinarian. A quick Google search will show you that Deramaxx can be purchased online, probably for cheaper than what you’d pay at your veterinarian’s office. However, treatment with NSAIDs like Deramaxx must be monitored by a veterinarian because of the possibility of an allergic reaction. 

                    Dosage is determined by ailment and body weight. The recommended dosages, according to indication, are listed below:

                    • Osteoarthritis pain and inflammation: 0.450.91mg/lb/day, once daily, as needed
                    • Postoperative dental pain and inflammation: 0.450.91mg/lb/day, once daily for 3 days
                    • Postoperative orthopedic pain and inflammation:1.4–1.8 mg/lb/day, once daily, up to 7 days

                    Use the lowest effective dose whenever possible. Deramaxx is available in 12 mg, 25 mg, 75 mg, and 100 mg tablets. The chewable tablets are beef-flavored to make oral administration more bearable. Give Deramaxx with food.

                    Precautions in Using Deramaxx for Dogs

                    We’d like to mention several precautions about using Deramaxx before getting into the drug’s side effects. 

                    First, before your dog takes Deramaxx, your veterinarian should check the health of your dog’s liver and kidney and gastrointestinal (GI) system; this is typically done with blood work. 

                    Second, if your dog is currently taking another NSAID, they should not take Deramaxx. 

                    Third, treatment with Deramaxx requires regular monitoring. Your veterinarian will perform periodic blood work, urinalyses, and physical exams to ensure that your dog’s liver, kidneys, and GI system are still functioning properly. If your veterinarian detects health problems while your dog is Deramaxx, they may discontinue treatment.

                    Dogs with the following conditions should not take Deramaxx:

                    • Dehydration
                    • Loss of Appetite
                    • Liver disease
                    • Gastric ulcers
                    • Renal disease
                    • Cardiac disease
                    • Pregnant or nursing
                    • Receiving diuretic therapy

                    No Deramaxx for Nursing Dogs

                    How Does Deramaxx for Dogs Work 

                    How Deramaxx works is not yet thoroughly understood. It is believed that Deramaxx inhibits the process that causes inflammation.

                    Side Effects of Deramaxx 

                    Get ready for a long list of Deramaxx side effects, divided into subcategories. Remember, though, that these are potential side effects; many dogs on Deramaxx experience only mild effects or none at all. 

                    VERY IMPORTANT: If you notice any of these side effects in your dog, stop Deramaxx immediately and contact your veterinarian.


                    The general side effects of Deramaxx include:

                    • Fever
                    • Lethargy
                    • Weakness
                    • Depression
                    • Weight loss
                    • Dehydration
                    • General malaise
                    • Loss of appetite or refusal to eat
                    • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

                    Gastrointestinal (GI) 

                    GI side effects include:

                    • Diarrhea
                    • Weight loss
                    • Hypersalivation 
                    • Abdominal pain
                    • Vomiting ± blood 
                    • Hypoalbuminemia 
                    • Elevated lipase and amylase
                    • Melena (black and tarry stools)
                    • Peritonitis (abdominal cavity inflammation)
                    • GI ulceration (thinning of the mucosal lining)
                    • GI perforation (hole through the mucosal lining)
                    • Hematochezia (fresh, bright red blood in stool)
                    • Decreased or increased total protein and globulin

                    Deramaxx causes diarrhea

                    Hematologic (Blood)

                    Deramaxx can affect the blood. Regular blood work helps veterinarians detect hematologic problems associated with Deramaxx.

                    Hematologic effects include:

                    • Thrombocytopenia (decreased platelet levels)
                    • Leukocytosis (elevated white blood cell levels)
                    • Leukocytopenia (decreased white blood cell levels)
                    • Anemia (decreased red blood cell count or dysfunctional red blood cells)

                    Hepatic (Liver)

                    Hepatic side effects include:

                    • Hyperbilirubinemia 
                    • Elevated liver enzymes
                    • Ascites (abdominal fluid accumulation)
                    • Decreased Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
                    • Jaundice (yellowing of mucous membranes, like the gums)


                    Neurologic effects include: 

                    • Falling
                    • Seizures
                    • Collapse
                    • Head tilts
                    • Trembling
                    • Confusion
                    • Walking in circles
                    • Hindlimb weakness 
                    • Involuntary eye movement
                    • Inability to use paws properly
                    • Loss of balance and coordination

                    Deramaxx causes head tilting


                    Behavioral changes because of medication can be very unsettling for pet owners. Behavioral changes associated with Deramaxx include:

                    • Aggression
                    • Nervousness
                    • Hyperactivity
                    • Apprehension


                    Deramaxx negatively affects kidney function and causes these urologic side effects: 

                    • Elevated BUN
                    • Excessive thirst
                    • Blood in the urine
                    • Frequent urination
                    • Urinary incontinence
                    • Urinary tract infection
                    • Elevated blood phosphate levels
                    • Impaired kidney function, including kidney failure

                    Deramaxx causes excessive thirst


                    Dermatologic side effects affect the skin, hair, and nails.

                    • Ulceration
                    • Skin reddening
                    • Necrosis (tissue death)
                    • Skin rash (allergic reaction)
                    • Raw, irritated, and painful skin lesions
                    • Constant itching, scratching, and chew on the skin 


                    Respiratory side effects include: 

                    • Panting
                    • Nosebleeds
                    • Difficulty breathing
                    • Coughing, sometimes uncontrollable 


                    Cardiovascular side effects negatively affect heart function and include: 

                    • Heart murmur
                    • Slow heart rate 
                    • Rapid heart rate 
                    • Abrupt loss of heart function

                    Sensory and Ophthalmic

                    Dermaxx can impair a dog’s sense of balance and eye function. These side effects include:

                    • Imbalance
                    • Dry eye
                    • Blindness
                    • Glazed eyes
                    • Dilated pupils
                    • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
                    • Uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye)

                    Clinical Signs of Deramaxx Overdose 

                    Dogs suffering from a Deramaxx overdose will have the following symptoms: 

                    • Melena
                    • Diarrhea 
                    • Seizures
                    • Vomiting
                    • Lethargy
                    • Pale gums
                    • Inappetance
                    • Abdominal pain 
                    • Excessive thirst
                    • Frequent urination
                    • Difficulty breathing

                    Act immediately if you think that your dog is suffering from a Deramaxx overdose. Treatments include inducing vomiting, pumping the stomach, administering activated charcoal, providing supportive care, and performing additional blood tests. 

                    Deramaxx Alternatives 

                    If you’re anything like us, the extent of Deramaxx’s potential adverse reactions is a lot to take in. You may be thinking twice about giving your dog the drug. 

                    Of course, if you’re reading this article, your dog is probably in a fair amount of pain. Luckily, we have good news! Deramaxx is not the only pain relief option for dogs. Natural alternatives are available that can reduce or even eliminate the need for Deramaxx.

                    Natural Alternatives 

                    Here a few of our favorite natural alternatives to relieve pain in dogs.


                    Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its bright yellow color. Interestingly, it also effectively relieves pain. Tumeric has an anti-inflammatory property that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for many pain-related conditions, including canine osteoarthritis. Lucky for us, turmeric is increasingly popular in the Western world for its natural healing powers for people and dogs and can be purchased at health food stores.


                    Comfrey is an herb that has been easing pain and inflammation for hundreds of years. The word is derived from the Latin word for "grow together," so it makes sense that Comfrey is known for speeding up cell reproduction. Comfrey's pain-relieving properties also make it highly effective in relieving joint pain.


                    A member of the pea family, the herb licorice has fascinating anti-inflammatory properties, making it highly effective for treating arthritis and many other pain-related conditions.

                    As always, we encourage our readers to consult with a holistic veterinarian to decide which natural remedies are most appropriate for their dog.

                    Deramaxx vs. Natural Pain Remedies 

                    At the end of the day, we know that you want what’s best for your dog. Seeing them in pain is a terrible feeling for any pet owner. Not knowing what to do or what medication to give can be stressful. You want them to feel better, but at what cost? Are you comfortable with the possibility of serious negative side effects? Of course not. But what other options do you have?

                    Thankfully, we have information right at our fingertips. We encourage pet owners to research the products that their veterinarians prescribe. Although conventional prescription medications have vastly improved the scope and quality of veterinary care, they are not always the only available treatment option. Being able to recognize alternatives to conventional medication can really help your dog.

                    Something to Consider

                    Think about it, when was the last time you had a headache? What did you do? You probably took an Advil (or another headache reliever) and carried on with your day. Did you consider the headache’s cause? Is it dehydration? Allergies? Sinus pressure? 

                    So often we choose the easy fix without thinking about what caused the problem in the first place. NSAIDs are a Band-Aid, not a cure. Even if your dog is no longer in pain, the pain can come back if the underlying cause is never figured out; the inflammation is simply masked temporarily. If a pet owner works with their veterinarian to get to the root of the problem, treating the pain will provide lasting relief. Furthermore, after determining the underlying issue, natural treatment is not only possible but effective and safe.

                    Deramaxx: The Bottom Line

                    Your dog means the world to you. We get it. At Honest Paws, we are all pet lovers and pet owners. That’s why, when troubles arise, we understand how worrisome and heart-wrenching it can be. We cannot stress enough to do your homework. Understand the prescription you are giving your dog and what the long-term effects may be.

                    Whenever possible, consider an all-natural approach to treating your dog's ailments, especially if you need long-term treatment. If there’s a way to reap the same benefits and effects of conventional medication with natural treatments, why wouldn’t you jump at the chance? Trust us, your dog will thank you for it!



           › Dogs › Medication



           › Dogs › Medication



                    JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

                    JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian. 

                    JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership. 

                    Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!

                    Read More