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Petal Smart

Dr. Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Posts by Petal Smart

Lymphoma in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

Lymphoma in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

Nearly everyone in today's world has been affected by cancer to some degree. Either you have battled the vicious disease yourself or you know someone who has.

It's a tragic part of our lives, yet it has been somewhat normalized in a sense because it is so extremely common.

Sadly for our dogs, cancer doesn't discriminate. Just like people, many dogs will also have to face the disease in its various forms. In fact, studies estimate that over 25% of all dogs will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life.

Up to 50% of dogs over the age of 10 will die from cancer. This is beyond staggering. Therefore, it is important for dog owners to become aware of the telltale signs in order to recognize the condition before it's too late. 

While there are many forms of cancer, lymphoma is among the most commonly diagnosed cancers in dogs. Therefore, understanding canine lymphoma will enable pet parents to quickly recognize signs and act efficiently to get their dog the help they need.

We know that a cancer diagnosis can be absolutely heartbreaking. However, by understanding your dog's condition, you can make informed decisions, with their happiness and wellbeing in mind.

We know that a cancer diagnosis can be absolutely heartbreaking. However, by understanding your dog's condition, you can make informed decisions with their happiness and wellbeing in mind.

lymphoma in dogs

What is Lymphoma in Dogs

Lymphoma is commonly diagnosed in people and dogs alike. Many veterinarians compare canine lymphoma to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in people.

In fact, the two conditions are so similar that nearly identical chemotherapy protocols are used to treat both dogs and humans.

Lymphoma is a blanket term used to diagnose cancers that stem from a white blood cell called lymphocytes. This white blood cell help the dog's immune system to effectively fight off infections.

Lymphocytes are found in high concentrations in areas of the body such as the lymph nodes, thymus gland, spleen, and within the bone marrow. It is important to note that lymphoma can occur anywhere in the body. However, it is found most prominently within the organs in which lymphocytes are found in high concentrations.

There are over 30 types of lymphoma in dogs, accounting for approximately 1020% of all cancers diagnosed.

lymphoma in dogs

What is Lymphosarcoma or Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 

You may hear lymphoma also referred to as lymphosarcoma or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. We'll cover more detail on terminology in a moment!

What are Lymphocytes? 

To reiterate, lymphocytes are the white blood cells responsible for supporting the immune system against infection.

What are Low Lymphocytes? 

When you hear that your dog has a low lymphocyte count, it means they are highly susceptible to infection and disease. Low lymphocytes are often associated with cancers such as lymphoma.

Low Lymphocytes

Types of Lymphoma in Dogs

There are over 30 different types of lymphoma in dogs. The type of lymphoma will determine how quickly it progresses, possible survival rates, as well as clinical signs to look for.

Of the 30 different types of the disease, the four most common types are:

  1. Multicentric lymphoma
  2. Alimentary lymphoma
  3. Mediastinal lymphoma
  4. Extranodal lymphoma

Multicentric Lymphoma 

Of the four types of lymphomas that we will cover, multicentric lymphoma is by far the most common.

In fact, multicentric lymphoma accounts for 8085% of lymphomas in dogs. Multicentric lymphoma originates in the dog's lymph nodes. In many cases, the primary physical sign is visibly enlarged lymph nodes, sometimes up to ten times their normal size.

The enlargement typically doesn't cause your dog any pain, thus making an early diagnosis extremely difficult. 

Alimentary Lymphoma 

Alimentary lymphoma is the second most common type of lymphoma in dogs, although it only accounts for less than 10% of cases. Canine alimentary lymphoma primarily affects the dog's gastrointestinal tract.

Therefore, the signs of alimentary lymphoma in dogs are gastrointestinally related, as the disease causes intestinal lesions (more on that in a moment).

Mediastinal Lymphoma 

In rare cases, canine mediastinal lymphoma may be diagnosed. This form of lymphoma causes either the thymus and/or mediastinal lymph nodes in the dog's chest to become enlarged.

This enlargement is the result of high-grade malignant T-lymphocytes.

Extranodal Lymphoma 

Finally, the fourth most common form of lymphoma is extranodal lymphoma. This type of lymphoma affects a specific organ (e.g., the eyes, kidneys, lungs, skin, central nervous system, etc.).

The most common organ that is affected by extranodal lymphoma is the skin. This form of the disease is also referred to as cutaneous lymphoma. Signs of extranodal lymphoma will vary greatly depending on which organ is affected. 

What Causes Lymphoma in Dogs?

Even with advanced studies available, there are still many things about cancer in humans and dogs alike that remain unknown. Experts aren't able to pinpoint the exact cause of lymphoma in dogs, although studies have found that there are in fact certain breeds that are at a higher risk of the disease.

Furthermore, when genetics don't play a role in the diagnosis of lymphoma, we may assume that an environmental component is involved. Let us explain.

Environmental Toxicity 

Studies have found that certain breeds have a predisposition for the development of canine lymphoma (more on that in a moment).

However, when many breeds not included among the high-risk list also develop the disease, experts must consider other possibilities of the underlying cause.

What do all of these dogs have in common, other than lymphoma? In many cases, the answer is their environment.

Pet parents may not fully realize the extent to which their dog's environment may include a substantial number of toxins that can greatly affect their dog.

Toxins from things like paints or solvents, as well as pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides can all play a role in the health of your dog's immune system. In many cases, experts are linking these toxins to diseases such as cancer.

lymphoma in dogs can come about because of paint

Additional possible causes of canine lymphoma include:

  • Viruses and/or Bacteria
  • Genetics
  • Weakened Immune System

Breeds at Higher Risk for Canine Lymphoma

Studies show that the current breeds are at a higher risk of canine lymphoma:

  • Boxers
  • Bulldogs
  • Bullmastiffs
  • Rottweilers
  • Scottish Terriers
  • Basset Hounds
  • Airedales
  • Saint Bernards
  • Golden Retrievers

Additionally, studies have found that certain breeds, including Dachshunds and Pomeranians, have a lower risk of developing canine lymphoma.

Canine lymphoma is most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged dogs, approximately 69 years old.

With that said, it is important for dog owners to understand that any dog, regardless of the breed, may develop lymphoma.

Being able to recognize the signs of the disease will help to expedite an accurate diagnosis and determine the best form of treatment for your dog's individual needs.

Signs of Lymphoma

The signs of canine lymphoma will vary based on the type of lymphoma present. Unfortunately, this can make an early diagnosis more difficult in some cases.

General Signs of Lymphoma 

In most cases, regardless of the type of lymphoma, the following general signs will be present:

  • Swollen lymph nodes under the jaw, in front of the shoulders, or behind the knees
  • Swelling of the face
  • Swelling of the legs
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination

lymphoma in dogs

Signs of Multicentric Lymphoma  

If the dog has the most commonly diagnosed form of lymphoma, multicentric lymphoma, the first sign that pet owners will typically recognize is swollen lymph nodes.

In many dogs, it is common for the lymph nodes to swell up to ten times their normal size. Although it looks painful, swollen lymph nodes do not typically cause the dog any distress. They will feel like rubbery lumps and will be able to move freely under the skin.

As multicentric lymphoma progresses, dog owners will also notice the following signs:

  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite and weight loss
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration

Signs of Alimentary Lymphoma  

Alimentary lymphoma attacks the dog's intestines. Signs of alimentary lymphoma are a result of gastrointestinal lesions and often include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Severe abdominal pain and sensitivity
  • Weight loss

lymphoma symptoms

Signs of Mediastinal Lymphoma  

Mediastinal lymphoma can cause a large mass to develop in the chest. Therefore, a common sign of the disease is difficult or labored breathing. Additional signs include:

  • Swelling of the face
  • Swelling of the front legs
  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive urination

Mediastinal lymphoma in dogs can also cause a muffled heart sound, which your veterinarian will be able to hear with a stethoscope.

Signs of Extranodal Lymphoma  

Signs of extranodal lymphoma in dogs will ultimately vary depending on which organ is affected. For example, extranodal lymphoma that affects the lungs will often cause respiratory problems to develop. Extranodal lymphoma that affects the eyes can lead to blindness. When extranodal lymphoma affects the kidneys, it can lead to renal failure. 

Cutaneous Lymphoma 

The most common type of extranodal lymphoma, cutaneous lymphoma, affects the skin, therefore, the associated effects would also be evident on the skin.

Many times, pet owners will find single or multiple raised nodules or scaly lesions on the dog's body, both of which can be indicative of cutaneous lymphoma.

The raised bumps may also be found in the dog's mouth, specifically on the gums, lips, or the roof of the mouth. It is common for the disease to be mistaken for an allergy for several months before an accurate diagnosis is made.

Additional signs of cutaneous lymphoma include:

  • Dry, red, flaky patches of skin
  • Large masses or tumors
  • Skin ulcers

How is Lymphoma Diagnosed?

Diagnosing lymphoma early on can be rather difficult, as the disease often doesn't cause the dog any pain unless it affects the bones. Therefore, by the time the dog receives a diagnosis, the disease can be quite advanced.

Typically, a series of diagnostic tests will be the first step in order to accurately diagnose lymphoma in dogs. These diagnostic tests include:

  • Blood tests
  • Fine needle aspirate* of the tumor
  • Biopsies
  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Urinalysis
  • Blood chemistry panel
  • Abdominal sonograms

lymphoma in dogs is diagnosed through x-rays

What is a Fine Needle Aspirate? 

Besides biopsies of the tumor(s), another diagnostic tool used to diagnose lymphoma in dogs is something called a fine needle aspirate.

The procedure allows veterinary oncologists (veterinarians who specialize in cancer patients) to safely remove a small sample of the dog’s lymph nodes or affected organs.

Once removed, the vet will be able to examine the sample through either a cytological exam (looking for abnormal white blood cells) or through histopathological evaluation (of the tissue).

Stages of Lymphoma in Dogs

The World Health Organization has developed a system for staging cancer, and this system is also used to stage lymphoma in dogs. During the diagnostic process, your vet will classify your dog's disease as one of five stages. Treatment and prognosis will ultimately depend on the stage of the disease.

  • Stage I: Single lymph node is involved
  • Stage II: Multiple lymph nodes within the same region are affected
  • Stage III: Multiple lymph nodes in multiple regions affected
  • Stage IV: Liver and/or spleen involved (it is possible to not have lymph node involvement although in most cases there is)
  • Stage V: Bone marrow or blood involvement and/or organs other than the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes affected

Substage Categories 

Additionally, veterinarians will also categorize the disease as either substage A or substage B.

Substage A refers to cases in which the dog shows no sign of illness. Substage B refers to cases in which the dog does show signs of illness.

Treatment for Lymphoma 

Unfortunately, there is presently no known cure for canine lymphoma. With that said, it is a treatable type of cancer in dogs. Most commonly, chemotherapy drugs are the preferred treatment option.

Chemotherapy is also proven to be the most effective treatment for canine lymphoma. The type of chemotherapy treatment will vary based on the type of lymphoma.

For example, multicentric lymphoma in dogs is often treated with a chemotherapy protocol over 25 weeks, referred to as UW-25. Your veterinary oncologist will be able to tell you exactly which treatment is best for your dog's individual needs.

Chemotherapy for Dogs vs. Chemotherapy for People 

As we previously mentioned, lymphoma in dogs is often compared to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in people. Interestingly enough, the treatment for both (varying chemotherapy methods) is also closely related.

Fortunately for our dogs, chemotherapy doesn't seem to affect them nearly as negatively as it does people. Chemotherapy doesn't typically make dogs severely sick and dogs generally don't lose their hair. 

Dogs with thick fur, such as Poodles, Old English Sheepdogs, and the Bichon Frise (which are generally not predisposed to lymphoma) may lose more hair than most other breeds

Side Effects of Chemotherapy in Dogs

The following are side effects associated with chemotherapy in dogs:

  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Mild bouts of vomiting and/or diarrhea

Additional Treatment for Lymphoma 

Depending on the type of lymphoma and the stage of the disease, radiation therapy and/or surgery may be recommended.

Additionally, your veterinarian may recommend things like dietary changes, physical therapy, or nutritional supplements in order to provide extra support during treatment. 

Lymphoma Survival Rate

Of course, one of the leading questions that pet parents have about their dog's diagnosis is what they should expect in terms of median survival rate and life expectancy. Unfortunately, the answer is not always clear and simple. Lymphoma in dogs may vary greatly from case to case.

The prognosis will ultimately depend on the type of lymphoma, as well as the stage in which it was diagnosed. The prognosis for lymphoma in dogs will also depend on the treatment option chosen.

For instance, if the pet owner cannot afford, or chooses not to use a treatment like chemotherapy, it can greatly affect the projected life expectancy of dogs with Lymphoma.

lymphoma in dogs survival rate

Remission vs Cure

It is also imperative that pet owners realize that there is a difference between complete remission and a cure. Total, complete remission means that there are no clinical signs of cancer.

However, cancer could still exist within the body. A cure means that the body is completely free of the disease. Partial remission also exists and is a term used to describe a patient that shows some, but not all the signs of cancer.

Additionally, research has found that certain dogs tend to have a better prognosis. For instance, studies have shown that neutered females have a better prognosis and longer survival times.

Lymphoma in Dogs: A Final Thought

At the end of the day, receiving a lymphoma diagnosis can be a very challenging time for a dog owner. We wish our canine friends could live forever - and with a lymphoma diagnosis, it can seem like our time with them is about to be stopped in its tracks.

Trust us, we know how difficult it is and we are truly sorry that some of our readers may have to face this.

With that said, we want pet owners to understand that canine lymphoma is one of the most treatable cancers in dogs.

Every day, advancements in science and holistic medicine are making great strides forward. So many canine cancers that were once considered to be a death sentence are now being successfully treated. Lymphoma is listed among these diseases.

One of the most important things that dog owners can do is to stay alert. By understanding your dog's normal day-to-day behavior and tendencies, you'll be able to pick up on when something isn't right.

Furthermore, if and when you notice that something is off with your dog, don't delay in getting your dog an accurate diagnosis. A timely trip to the vet can make a world of difference for your furry companion.

From all of us at Honest Paws, we hope your beloved four-legged friend gets well soon.


Petal Smart, DVM

Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

*This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.

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Cat Dandruff: Know The Signs & Symptoms

Cat Dandruff: Know The Signs & Symptoms

You may be familiar with the itchy, flaky annoyance better known as dandruff. No matter what you do, it can seem like relief is out of reach. Unfortunately, for our four-legged friends, dandruff can also be a real issue. Cat dandruff affects more felines than you may imagine. In fact, pet dandruff is so common that there are countless companies that produce anti-dandruff shampoos and other related products. Yet, many pet parents find themselves wondering what causes dandruff in the first place? Is there a way to prevent the itchy irritation? Could it possibly be a sign of something more serious than merely dry skin?

In this article, we will cover all the important points you need to know about cat dandruff. While it may simply be a case of an itchy annoyance, it may also be a telltale sign that your feline is suffering from any of a number of things, from dietary allergies to intestinal parasites. In order to treat dandruff, we must first determine what is causing it. Let's get to it!

What is Dandruff?

So what exactly is dandruff? Dandruff is a condition in which dry, dead skin cells develop and then flake from the cat's skin. More often than not, cat dandruff is accompanied by constant itching and skin irritation. 

There tends to be a bit of a stigma regarding dandruff. Many humans with dandruff often feel insecure and yearn for some sort of relief. However, cats don't seem to mind the flaky patches, unless of course, the dandruff is causing undue irritation. When cat dandruff causes your feline to scratch uncontrollably, skin damage can become a real concern.

A bit of dandruff every now and then is likely nothing to worry about. However, it is important to figure out what is causing it, particularly if the dandruff is persistent and extensive.

What is Dander?

We want to note that cat dandruff should not be confused with cat dander. The two terms represent very different things. Dander occurs from the normal, healthy dead skin that your cat sheds. Cat dander is what people associate with allergies and should not cause the cat to be itchy or uncomfortable. Conversely, dandruff is an abnormal shedding of dead skin cells which, unlike dander, is accompanied by either extremely dry, irritated skin or, at times, very oily and itchy skin.

What is Seborrhea?

The terms dandruff’ and seborrheic dermatitis are also often used interchangeably, although they are not entirely the same thing. Seborrhea is actually one cause of dandruff.

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin disorder that may occur in both cats and dogs. The disorder arises when the skin's sebaceous glands produce an excessive amount of sebum, therefore resulting in dandruff, among other clinical signs. Seborrhea often causes a distinct odor, which worsens if a secondary bacterial infection or a yeast infection develops.

Cat Dandruff Symptoms

In order to accurately identify cat dandruff, it is important that pet owners know the leading clinical signs of the condition. As you will see, the signs of cat dandruff are very similar to the clinical signs of dandruff in people. 

Flaking Skin

The most common and noticeable sign of cat dandruff is dry, flaky skin. If your cat has dark fur the flaky skin will be even more apparent. If your cat has thick fur, you may have to part their fur in order to see the flaking skin.

Red, Irritated Patches

Additionally, if dandruff is more severe, causing your cat to have irritated skin, you may find red, inflamed patches due to the constant itching and licking. Pet owners should be aware that the excessive itching can cause the delicate skin to break open and can quickly lead to the development of infection. 

Cat Hair Loss

Additionally, constant itching and licking can lead to bald patches and hair loss. In such cases, getting to the bottom of what is causing your cat's dandruff is imperative, as it can lead to severe skin damage, as well as infections.

Thick, Scaly Patches

Cat owners may also, find thickened, hard, scaly patches of dry skin, accompanied by an excessive amount of flaky skin.

What Causes Dandruff?

Typically, cat dandruff is caused by one of five issues: allergies, dehydration, diet, other health issues, or parasites. In this section, we will cover these five main causes as well as additional possibilities to rule out.


We cannot stress enough the importance of diet. It is paramount to ensuring your cat's health and wellbeing and their ability to fight off ailments. Skin conditions, including dandruff, are often a telltale sign that your cat may not be receiving the necessary nutrients in their food. Often times, dandruff is a sign of a lack of omega-3 oils. Feeding your cat the best possible diet can help to prevent dandruff, as well as a slew of other health conditions.


Dandruff in cats can also be a telling sign of dehydration. If your cat isn't receiving the necessary amounts of water, the result can often show up as dry skin, and therefore, dandruff.

The weather can also affect dandruff in cats. If you live in an arid climate that is particularly dry, such as California or Arizona, dehydration can occur more quickly than you may expect. When it comes to inadequate hydration, dandruff will likely be the least of your concerns unless the issue is rectified in a timely manner.

Food Allergies

If your cat has dandruff, it may be caused by a food allergy. Consider whether you have changed food sources recently. Does the onset of your cat's dandruff line up with such a change? Furthermore, cats can sometimes develop food allergies when they are given the same food continuously. Therefore, switching up their food may be all you need to do to clear up their dandruff.

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies may be at the root of your cat's dandruff. Just like humans, cats can have allergic reactions to various plants, fertilizers, and even laundry detergents. If you have an outdoor cat, consider whether they may have gotten into something that is causing the skin irritation. If your cat stays indoors, consider whether you have recently switched the laundry detergent you use to wash their bedding, or if you have made any changes to the cleaning supplies used around the house.

External Parasites

Dandruff in cats can also be triggered by both external and internal parasites. External parasites such as fleas, lice, and mites will irritate the cat's skin, resulting in an allergic reaction and therefore, dandruff. The Cheyletiella mites particularly are known to cause even more damage (more on that in a moment).

Fungal and Yeast Infections

Ringworm and Malassezia dermatitis can also cause cat dandruff and may lead to hair loss.

Diabetes & Hyperthyroidism

Metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism, are known to cause feline dandruff, as well as a number of other signs. These diseases are more likely in cats that are middle-aged or older. Additionally, overweight cats and those with preexisting health conditions are also at a higher risk for metabolic disease. 

Feline Lymphoma

Dandruff in cats can also be a sign of more serious conditions such as feline lymphoma, one of the most commonly diagnosed cancer in cats. There are various types of feline lymphoma, but they are all cancers of the immune system. When the immune system is weakened, skin conditions (such as dandruff) are likely to develop.


Just like people, cats are prone to sunburns, particularly on the more sensitive parts of their bodies like the nose, ears, mouth, and eyelids. Additionally, cats with light-colored fur or thin fur are at a higher risk for sunburn. When the top layer of the cat's skin is damaged by sunburn, it will become dry and flake off, causing dandruff.


Anxiety, provoked by environmental changes, can also cause the development of cat dandruff. We likely don't have to tell you that many cats can be highly sensitive. Even small lifestyle changes, such as moving furniture around, or bigger changes like a new addition to the family, can cause your cat to experience high levels of anxiety.

If anxiety is the reason for your cat's dandruff, it likely won't be the only sign. Anxious cats, even the most well-behaved, are known to shred curtains or have accidents outside of the litter box. If your cat is feeling anxious, make sure to give them some extra TLC. More often than not, their anxiety will subside with a little love and attention.

Overweight Cats

Cats who struggle with weight issues are also more prone to dandruff. We know how adorable chubby cats can be. However, overweight cats are not at their optimal health level. Additionally, overweight cats are unable to fully groom themselves, which can lead to skin issues. Obesity can often lead to diabetes, which is another potential cause of cat dandruff.

Old Age

Old age is also a potential culprit of cat dandruff. As the cat ages, the skin begins to lose its elasticity and becomes dry. Dry skin, accompanied by reduced blood flow and occasional chafing can all result in a greater susceptibility to flakiness and dandruff in older cats.

Severe Dandruff: What Else It Could Mean

It is imperative that cat owners recognize that severe dandruff can be a sign of a serious condition known as "walking dandruff." Walking dandruff is a form of mange caused by the Cheyletiella mite. The condition should be treated by a vet ASAP

How to Get Rid of Cat Dandruff

It is important to do all that you can to understand what is causing your cat's dandruff in order to accurately treat it. If dandruff is caused by a food allergy, an anti-dandruff shampoo clearly won't fix the problem.

In terms of treating dandruff associated with fungal infections, your vet will likely recommend a medicated cat shampoo. When it comes to mites and fleas, it is also imperative that cat owners wash all of their cat's bedding with hot water. Cat owners will also need to treat all other pets in the house with a flea preventative.

If your cat's dandruff is due to a sunburn, your vet may prescribe an oral or topical steroid.

If your cat's dandruff is associated with allergies, both food-related and environmental, your vet will likely suggest switching up their diet. Your vet may also recommend antihistamines or steroids to reduce the irritation while your cat's body adjusts.

Preventing Cat Dandruff

Now, once you have your cat's dandruff under control, you'll want to ensure that you prevent its recurrence. Again, it is important to figure out the initial cause of dandruff in order to effectively prevent it. However, if the underlying cause remains unknown, there are still several things that pet parents can do.

Grooming & Regular Brushing

One of the best ways to help keep your feline's fur dandruff-free is by scheduling regular grooming and brushing your cat on a consistent basis. Brushing will help to stimulate the production of natural oils in your cat’s coat and prevent the skin from becoming dry and flaky.

If you (or the groomer) are considering a lime sulfur dip for your cat, please seek your vet’s opinion first. Specific precautions must be followed with the use of such dips. In some cases, their use may make the skin condition or dandruff worse. In addition, care must be taken to prevent accidental ingestion, which can be fatal to your cat. 

Bathing Your Feline

We know that this preventative measure may be a cat owner's worst nightmare. There aren't many cats who tolerate, let alone enjoy, bathtime. However, with some cats, regular bathing is necessary. (Don't panic! Bathing will likely only be necessary every few months) Cat owners may opt to purchase a natural, anti-dandruff shampoo if they know that their feline is prone to dandruff between baths.

Over Bathing: A Word of Caution

It is important to note that over-bathing can have the exact opposite effect of what you hope for. Be careful not to bathe your cat too often, as this can cause the skin to become even drier and lead to even more dandruff.

Hydration! Hydration! Hydration! 

Another easy and effective way to prevent cat dandruff is to make sure that your feline is always hydrated. Ensure that your cat always has a fresh, clean water supply. Whenever possible, keep them indoors or in the shade during peak hours of the day when the sun can be particularly damaging and cause dehydration. Also, adding wet food to your cat's diet is a great way to help with hydration.


Additionally, an incredibly effective way to prevent skin issues is by making sure that your feline is being fed a well-balanced diet. Again, diet is so important for their overall health and wellbeing. Ask your vet which cat food is best and most appropriate for your cat's individual needs.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

As we previously mentioned, dry and flaky skin is often a telltale sign that your cat's diet is lacking omega-3 fatty acids. In these cases, cat parents can add an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to their feline's meals.

Coconut Oil & Olive Oil 

Adding coconut oil or olive oil to your cat's food are additional ways to ensure that they are receiving healthy fatty acids that will boost skin health. However, with coconut and olive oil, it is possible to give too much of a good thing. They both contain saturated fat. It is important to talk to your vet about the appropriate amounts of each oil that can be safely given to your cat.

Purchase a Humidifier

Your cat's environment can greatly affect their skin. If you live in an arid climate, or if you notice that the dry air is affecting your own skin, you may want to consider purchasing a humidifier. Humidifiers help to add water content to the air and can be a game-changer for both you and your cat.

Avoid Stressors

Next, whenever possible, avoid any additional stressors in your cat's routine. Of course, we know that this is easier said than done. However, try to do your best to keep everything in your cat's home life as consistent as possible. If a major change is planned for the future, try to slowly introduce that change.

Overall Health

Additionally, pay close attention to your cat's overall health. Are they overweight? Are they getting plenty of mental and physical stimulation? Have you noticed any other clinical signs of disease or distress that need to be addressed? Cat dandruff can easily be overlooked and brushed off as no big deal. However, pet owners should not disregard the fact that it can be a telling sign that their cat's overall health is not where it should be.

Moisturize Your Cat

You may want to consider purchasing pet-formulated oils and lotions that help to moisturize the skin and combat dryness and irritation.

CBD Oil for Cats

There are also additional supplements that cat parents can introduce into their feline's diet. Our favorite? CBD oil for cats. CBD oil may help with seasonal allergies as well as support skin and coat health.

Cat Dandruff vs. Dog Dandruff

Pet owners who have both cats and dogs know that it is typically easier to get rid of dog dandruff. This is mainly because of the bath component. Dogs typically don't loathe bath time as most cats do. In fact, some dogs love to have a bath. However, it is important to note that if you do own a cat and a dog, and only one is experiencing dandruff, several causes can be ruled out, because the environment, weather, and anxiety (among others) will likely affect both animals.

Cat Dandruff: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your four-legged companion. While cat dandruff can be a bit of a nuisance, it is rarely a cause for absolute panic. With that being said, it is possible that the white flakes are a warning sign of some other condition that we encourage you to take seriously. The good news is that your cat does not need to suffer from dry, itchy skin. There are plenty of safe, effective ways to treat and prevent cat dandruff and get your feline feeling like their best selves in no time!


Chelsea Rivera

Petal Smart, DVM

Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

*This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.
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Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter: Yes, But First a Word of Warning...

Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter: Yes, But First a Word of Warning...

If you've noticed that Fido seems to act extra adorably when you're holding a jar of peanut butter, you're not alone. Peanut butter has been used in a variety of ways over the years, including as an aid to administer medication and a means to provide hours of entertainment when added to an interactive toy. Most pet owners agree that their furry friend can't get enough of the creamy treat.

We know that peanut butter certainly has its benefits, but as a whole, is it entirely safe? There are a number of important facts that you, as a dog owner must understand before serving up a spoonful of peanut butter to your beloved four-legged companion. In fact, knowing all there is to know about peanut butter could ultimately save your dog's life. Let's get started!

can dogs eat peanut butter

Xylitol & Dogs: A Deadly Combination

If you stay up-to-date on the latest news in dog health, you've likely heard of xylitol. Accidental dog poisoning is on the rise in the United States and xylitol is one of the main causes. You've likely consumed the ingredient, perhaps unknowingly. It is a sugar substitute often found in many sugarless gums, breath mints, chewable vitamins, toothpaste, baked goods, and candies. The ingredient is safe for human consumption but can be incredibly toxic to dogs. In fact, studies report that xylitol is 100 times more toxic than chocolate.

There has been a massive surge in xylitol-related poisoning over the last decade, but why? Clearly, pet owners aren't giving their dogs sugarless gum or chewable vitamins. In some cases, the answer may be peanut butter. With the health craze to cut back on sugar intake, several brands of peanut butter have switched to using xylitol as a sugar substitute. While this may be fine for people, the switch is responsible for xylitol poisoning and the death of a horrific number of pets.

Luckily, avoiding xylitol poisoning is incredibly easy. Simply check the label of your peanut butter (and other treats that your pup may get into). Having a xylitol-free home is a great way to prevent your dog from accidentally consuming the dangerous ingredient.

Signs of Xylitol Poisoning

The ingestion of xylitol in dogs causes a rapid release of insulin, which quickly leads to a massive reduction in blood sugar levels. The condition is referred to as hypoglycemia and can be life-threatening, if not treated immediately. Signs will typically arise 1060 minutes after consumption and often include:

  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Staggering/Lack of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

If for any reason you believe that your dog may have consumed xylitol, it is imperative that you take them to the veterinarian straight away. Xylitol poisoning is not something that should be taken lightly or something that may pass with time. Even in extremely small amounts, xylitol can be deadly for dogs.

xylitol dog

Peanut Butter Brands That Contain Xylitol

With all of the negative reports about xylitol and the threat it poses to our beloved furry friends, many brands of peanut butter that initially switched from sugar to xylitol have made the switch back to natural ingredients. However, there are still some popular brands of peanut butter that contain the dangerous ingredient.

These brands include:

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

Again, it is always important to check the label of your peanut butter and other foods before giving them to Fido. Unfortunately, ingredients change all the time. A brand that may have been perfectly safe a year ago may now pose a threat. A quick and thorough scan of your peanut butter jar could mean the difference between life and death for your dog.

Where Else Can You Find Xylitol?

Finally, we want to briefly cover the other places in which xylitol may be hiding, as it's not only found in peanut butter. It is extremely important to make sure that you are keeping all of the following foods, medications, and items out of your dog's reach.

Xylitol is also found in:

  • Sugar-free gum (including Orbit, Mentos, Ice Breakers, Starbucks, Stride, Nicorette, and Trident... among others)
  • Throat lozenges and hard candies
  • Breath strips
  • Mentos and other chewable breath mints
  • Many chewable vitamins
  • Toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Certain medications (including Allegra, Gummy Vites, and Nature’s Plus)
  • Jell-O
  • Certain yogurts
  • Certain brands of protein bars

xylitol dog products

As you can see, checking your peanut butter isn't the only thing you'll have to be aware of as a responsible pet owner. Keeping products that contain xylitol out of your home is an easy way to prevent poisoning and irreversible harm to Fido.

Is Peanut Butter Bad for Dogs: Additional Dangers

While it is always important to check your labels, thankfully, a number of peanut butter brands do not contain xylitol. However, there are other potential dangers associated with peanut butter that pet owners should be aware of.

No Xylitol = Lots of Sugar

We’ve established that the sugar substitute xylitol is extremely toxic for dogs. However, a common alternative, white sugar, also poses potential issues. Sugar is a leading culprit of a slew of issues, including yeast infections, parasites, bacteria, and even cancer. All of these ailments feed off of sugar, so the more Fido consumes, the more likely an issue may either arise or persist. Additionally, sugar consumption is directly linked to conditions such as premature aging, diabetes, food allergies, and low-level inflammation. The troubling part... many peanut butter brands that do not contain xylitol, do contain white sugar.

Aflatoxins in Peanut Butter

Aflatoxins are naturally-occurring mycotoxins that are produced by the fungus, Aspergillus, and they can be present in varying levels in peanuts. The troubling part? Mycotoxins are known to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances. Furthermore, mycotoxins have also shown to be toxic to the liver, and studies on laboratory animals have found that they can cause liver cancer.

Peanut Butter Allergies

Additionally, like people, dogs can be allergic to peanut butter. Peanut allergies in dogs are much less common than in people, but can still exist and are something pet owners should be aware of.

Signs of dog allergies include:

itchy dog

Harmful Fats

Most peanut butter is produced to be able to stay on the shelf for a relatively long period of time. Unfortunately, this process produces trans-fatty acids, a potentially toxic food substance.

Peanut Butter Calories

It's likely no secret that most peanut butter is not considered a low-calorie food. If your dog is suffering from weight issues, your veterinarian will likely advise you to skip out on the peanut butter treats, even if you are purchasing the best of the best.

Peanut Butter Benefits

Now, with all that being said, peanut butter is not all bad. In fact, peanut butter has some incredible benefits for people and dogs alike. The important thing is to know the product you are purchasing and ensure that you are feeding Fido appropriate amounts of the tasty treat. In moderation, peanut butter can prove to be a great addition to your dog's diet.

A Great Source of Protein

Peanut butter is known for being a great source of protein. Protein is an essential part of your dog's diet and plays several roles in the body including building and repairing muscles and tissues. Additionally, protein (along with carbohydrates) are needed for energy production and continual immune system support. Without the necessary amounts of protein, your dog's body won't be able to function properly.

Healthy Fats

Peanut butter also provides a great source of healthy fats that are necessary to maintain optimal health and function. Without healthy fats, problems such as a weakened immune system, heart disease, and diabetes can develop. Skin issues and dry, irritated coats are also associated with a lack of healthy fats in the dog's diet.

Of course, too much of a good thing would not be in your dog’s best interest. Too much fat (even healthy fats) can ultimately lead to obesity and serious conditions like pancreatitis. We always recommend talking to your veterinarian and following their guidelines for how much peanut butter you should be giving your pup.

Vitamins & Niacin

Finally, peanut butter contains vitamins B and E, along with niacin. Niacin is one of the B vitamins that is essential for both humans and dogs alike. It occurs naturally in a great number of foods, yet many dogs still lack the important vitamin. Peanut butter is a great way to treat your furry friend all while providing them with several health benefits.

Best Peanut Butter

At this point, you're probably wondering which peanut butter you should choose. As we stated, first and foremost, ensure that the peanut butter you purchase does not contain xylitol. You should recognize all of the ingredients listed on the label and if you don't, look it up! It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your fur baby.


Next, look for peanut butter that is unsalted. Sodium can be a big issue for dogs and many peanut butter brands contain high amounts of salt. Luckily, you'll easily be able to find unsalted peanut butter, you may just have to dig a little deeper.

All-Natural & Organic 

Additionally, we always recommend purchasing all-natural, organic products. If the product (regardless of what it might be) is not all-natural, there is a possibility that its raw materials were cultivated with herbicides or pesticides. The last thing you want to do when treating your pup is to inadvertently cause them any harm.

Make Your Own Peanut Butter!

Finally, many pet parents have found that making their own peanut butter is a fun way to ensure that they know exactly where all the ingredients are coming from. Furthermore, homemade peanut butter does not contain any secret added sugars or substitutes that could potentially harm your dog.

Ways to Serve Peanut Butter

Now that you've chosen or made the perfect peanut butter, how can you incorporate it into your dog's diet or routine? There are a variety of ways that pet parents have found useful for their dog's individual needs.

Kong Toy

Many dog owners know first hand what it's like to have a rambunctious pup that needs what seems to be constant entertainment. Unfortunately, as much as we would like to play with our dogs all-day-every-day, most of us have to go to work or leave home from time to time. This is where the Kong toy comes in handy. Pet parents can stuff the appropriate amount of their healthy choice of peanut butter in the rubber Kong toy to provide their fur baby with hours of fun and mental stimulation.

Medication Help

Additionally, if you have ever had to give your dog medication, you may very well know that dogs and pills do not always go hand in hand. Many pet owners have found that using peanut butter to coat the medication is an effective way to ensure their pup is getting the necessary treatment without spitting half of it out or hiding it somewhere. (Some dogs are particularly tricky when it comes to pills) Peanut butter is a great way to make sure your dog receives the medication without forcefully having to administer it, which is heartbreaking enough as it is.

DIY Dog Treats

For our crafty pet owners, you may want to consider making your own peanut butter dog treats. Homemade dog treats are a great way to ensure that you know exactly what is going into the food and minimizes its ability to cause Fido any harm. You can also add ingredients like pumpkin for dogs, CBD, or glucosamine for extra benefits! The sky is truly the limit when it comes to DIY dog treats.

Homemade Peanut Butter

We previously mentioned homemade peanut butter, but we want to tell our readers exactly how to go about the process. Here's an easy-to-follow guide from Bark: The Dog Culture Magazine.


  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts
  • 1 tsp. honey or molasses (optional) 
  • 1 tsp. or more peanut or safflower oil (optional)


Simply add the ingredients to your food processor and blend until desired consistency is met.

homemade peanut butter for dogs

A Delicious Spoonful

If you choose to seek out a great, healthy, store-bought peanut butter, that's completely fine. Pet owners don't need to use peanut butter in any creative way, they can simply place it on a spoon and have their dog lick up the delicious, beneficial treat.

Peanut Butter: A Food Complement, Not a Meal Replacement

Again, peanut butter should be used as a treat, not a meal replacement. Generally, a good rule of thumb is that treats should not make up more than 10 percent of the dog’s diet. Feeding small amounts of peanut butter can be a great additive to their already balanced dog food, but should never be a substantial part of their meal. Additionally, it may be a good idea to switch between peanut butter and dog-appropriate fruits and veggies from time to time.

Peanut Butter Alternatives

Speaking of fruits and vegetables, there are several great alternatives that you can use to switch up the health benefits that your dog receives from their treats.

Can Dogs Eat Apples

We have all heard the expression "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." Surprisingly, apples also have great health benefits for our dogs. Apples contain vitamin C, fiber, calcium, and phosphorus and make for a great, healthy treat for Fido. With that being said, be careful not to feed your dog any apple seeds or the core of the apple. Apple seeds contain cyanide, a substance that is toxic to dogs. Additionally, the core can be a choking hazard and experts advise to keep it far out of your dog's reach. Pet parents can slice up an apple to make it easy for their beloved furry friend to enjoy.

Again, it’s possible to feed your dog too much of a good thing. Too many apples can cause belly aches and diarrhea. Moderation is key! Even though they are healthy, serve them in moderation. For an extra special treat, dip the apple pieces in your homemade peanut butter!

A Great Rawhide Alternative: Can Dogs Eat Carrots

Another great veggie to add some variety to the peanut butter treat is the carrot. Carrots also make for a great alternative to rawhide bones, which can cause a slew of health issues (and something we recommend avoiding). Pet owners can feed their dog whole, raw carrots as a great chew that will keep them occupied for hours. Additionally, pet owners can cook carrots and add them to their dog's food as a healthy supplement with loads of health benefits.

Can Dogs Eat Celery

Yes! Dogs can also enjoy celery. Celery is very low in fat and cholesterol. It is also a great source of fiber that contains vitamins A, C, and K as well as potassium and folate. Again, all fruits, veggies, and peanut butter should be considered treats. In other words, they should not make up more than 10% of the dog's diet. Celery has also been used to help freshen up stinky breath. With that being said, too much celery should be avoided, as it can cause excessive urination and an upset stomach.

CBD for Dogs

By now, you've likely heard about CBD for dogs. Many pet parents have been incorporating CBD oil into their dog's food or their homemade dog treats, which their beloved four-legged friends can't seem to get enough of. 

CBD Infused Peanut Butter

Honest Paws has recently developed CBD infused peanut butter to satisfy Fido's taste buds. Of course, Honest Paws cultivates only the best all-natural ingredients that ensure the product's safety and allow pet parents to rest easy, knowing they are giving their dog the absolute best-quality CBD peanut butter available. The peanut butter is rich in protein and minerals and can be added to your dog's food daily if you so choose.

Suggested Serving Size:

  • 1/2 tablespoon - dogs under 25 pounds (64 servings per jar)
  • 1 tablespoon - dogs over 25 pounds (32 servings per jar)

How Much CBD does the Peanut Butter Contain?

Our CBD infused peanut butter contains 5 ml of CBD per 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

cbd-infused peanut better for dogs

Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your furry companion. We also know how much you love to treat them to the very best that life has to offer. Oftentimes, this means yummy treats and goodies. First and foremost, we encourage you to give your pup all the wonderful things you can offer. However, when it comes to treats, moderation is key. Furthermore, knowing exactly what the treat contains is paramount. Our hearts break for all of the pet parents who truly thought that they were feeding their dogs a yummy peanut butter treat (containing xylitol) and inadvertently poisoned their four-legged family member. Do your homework! Read the labels! And if you have questions, ask them! It can be the difference between life and death for your dog. However, once you find (or make) the perfect peanut butter, your dog will be over the moon with the tasty addition to their diet.


Petal Smart, DVM

Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

*This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.

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Cat Eye Discharge: A Comprehensive Guide

Cat Eye Discharge: A Comprehensive Guide

As a doting cat owner, you've likely cleaned some "gunk" out from your beloved feline's eyes at one point or another. Like people, cats can experience eye discharge that may affect them in varying ways.

Typically, a small amount of eye discharge from time to time isn't something to be terribly concerned about. However, if the discharge is long-lasting or chronic, it can be a sign of disease or infection that you'll need to address in a timely manner.

In this article, we'll cover the reasons for your cat's eye discharge, what it could potentially mean, and what to do next. Let's begin!

cat eye discharge

What is Cat Eye Discharge

Generally, eye discharge is not a disease itself, but rather a sign of an underlying condition. Many diseases for which eye discharge may be a sign can progress to blindness and/or systemic infection.

Therefore, if the discharge is chronic, experts recommend that you let your veterinarian take a more thorough look into exactly what may be causing it.

Simply speaking, cat eye discharge originates from the tears that the body constantly produces throughout the day.

Usually, the tears drain at the corner of the eye without spilling over. However, when something irritates the eyes, the body produces more tears than normal. This results in a  discharge from the eye that is much more pronounced than usual.

Furthermore, while eye discharge may not have a highly negative effect on many people, it can cause your cat a great deal of discomfort.

From constant scratching to milder itchy sensations to overall eye pain, if your cat is experiencing chronic eye discharge, you'll want to get to the bottom of it.

Signs of Eye Discharge in Cats

The physical signs of eye discharge in cats are comparable to the symptoms that you may experience yourself.

Cat eye discharge can vary in how often it occurs, its consistency, and how badly it irritates your four-legged friend.

Watery Discharge

First, you'll likely find a watery discharge around your cat's eyes. If you feel the surrounding fur, you'll be able to feel the wetness.

The moisture can range from being thin to thick in consistency.

Eye Boogers | Eye Mucus

Also, you may find sticky clumps around your cat's eyes. Many pet owners refer to these as eye boogers.

The substance typically has a thick mucus-like consistency, but the amount of discharge will often vary based on the severity of the infection or illness that’s affecting your cat.

Crusty Eyes

You'll also commonly find crust formation around your cat's eyes. This indicates dried eye discharge. A small amount of crust from time to time is usually normal.

However, if you notice large amounts of crusty matter, then you can assume there was a large amount of discharge or mucus, which typically indicates the presence of eye problems.

Red, Swollen, Squinting Eyes

Watery eyes are often accompanied by physical signs such as redness and swelling. This is a clear indicator of some form of infection or ailment, and is definitely abnormal.

You'll also find that cats with red, swollen eyes constantly rub their faces on anything from the couch to your pants, all in an attempt to relieve the itch and irritation.

Causes of Cat Eye Discharge

While an occasional eye discharge is usually not something to worry about, chronic discharge certainly is. Again, cat eye discharge in itself is not a disease, but rather a sign of a condition that may need professional treatment.

Several of the ailments that we are about to discuss can result in blindness. Furthermore, it is entirely possible for an eye infection to spread and affect other parts of the body.

It is imperative that as a cat owner, you remain aware of the normal amount of eye discharge, so in cases of abnormalities, you are able to act accordingly.

Feline Upper Respiratory Infections

One potential cause of excessive eye discharge is an upper respiratory infection. This includes infections caused by:

  • Feline calicivirus
  • Rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus)
  • Other contagious respiratory conditions
  • Pneumonitis
  • Bacteria
  • Protozoa

You may not think that your cat has an upper respiratory infection because signs can start off very mildly and remain that way for an extended period of time before they quickly worsen and become quite severe.

Eye discharge associated with an upper respiratory infection is often sticky and resembles pus. Upper respiratory infections will also show signs such as nasal discharge and sneezing.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

When you trace the vast majority of ailments back to their root, you'll find that they often have one major thing in common: inflammation. Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, refers to inflammation of the light pink lining around the eye.

Conjunctivitis will cause your cat's eyes (either one or both) to appear swollen and red. In such cases, your cat will commonly be sensitive to light, and the discharge can be clear and watery, or a thick mucus around the affected eye(s).

Most cases of conjunctivitis can be resolved in a timely manner without permanent damage to the eyes. However, in some cases, conjunctivitis is accompanied by diarrhea, fever, and trouble breathing, and this may be indicative of a more serious condition, feline infectious peritonitis, which can be fatal. If you notice any of these signs, please ensure your cat sees the vet ASAP.

Corneal Disorders

Excessive eye discharge in cats could also be due to a corneal disorder. The cornea is the rounded surface that covers and helps to protect the front of the eye.

Unfortunately, the cornea can become injured, inflamed, or ulcerated more easily than you may think.

As a result, the body automatically produces more tears, which can cause excessive blinking, cloudiness, inflammation and irritation, and eye discharge.  

Cat Eye Infections

Eye problems that are linked to an infectious agent, such as bacteria or a virus, are fairly common in cats.

Eye infections can also be extremely contagious and quickly pass from one cat to another. Therefore, if you believe your cat might have an eye infection, proper treatment in a timely manner is imperative.

In younger cats and kittens, Chlamydia and Mycoplasma are two bacteria that are most often responsible for eye infections. The viral infections are typically caused by feline herpesvirus type 1 and feline calicivirus.

Young cats typically have weaker immune systems and their bodies are not yet equipped to fight off the bacteria or virus, thus making them more prone to an infection.

Furthermore, young cats that are exposed to environments with a high population of other cats, such as at shelters, are also at a much higher risk of contracting an eye infection.

In older cats living in controlled environments (i.e., not strays or older cats in shelters), eye infection may be considered a secondary ailment to a pre-existing condition.  

Autoimmune disease, eye trauma, cancer, and systemic viral infections like feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV) could also lead to the development of an eye infection.

Regardless of age, all cats with a bacterial or viral infection of the eye must be treated appropriately. These infections can be highly contagious and are difficult to control in crowded environments.

Bacterial infections will often need antibiotics. Therefore, the sooner you are able to receive a proper diagnosis, the sooner you can begin treatment and prevent the spread of the infection to any other pets.

cat eye discharge can be caused by bacterial infectiond

Epiphora (Watery, Tearing Eyes) 

The term epiphora is defined as excessive tear production. You may hear your vet refer to your cat's eye discharge as such, however, it is important to determine exactly what is causing the excessive tearing.

Tearing, watery eyes can also be the result of conditions like:

Blocked Tear Ducts 

Often, an upper respiratory infection can lead to blocked tear ducts, which can often lead to an excessive amount of discharge, as the body naturally attempts to clear the blockage.

An Overproduction of Tears

This is often the result of an injury or infection. Again, the body is naturally trying to rid the eye of any foreign object or infectious agent.

Cat Allergies

Like people, cats are also prone to allergies, which often result in signs like teary eyes, a runny nose, and irritation of the respiratory system.

Allergic reactions can occur from a multitude of sources, including pet food, medications, environmental allergens, household plants, and chemicals like herbicides and pesticides.

If your cat is having an allergic reaction, they may also exhibit signs like vomiting and diarrhea.

Each of these conditions can lead to epiphora, and will necessitate different, specific treatment, all which we will discuss momentarily.

watery cat eye discharge

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry Eye) 

While epiphora is the overproduction of tears, keratoconjunctivitis sicca is the underproduction of tears.

If the eye(s) experience chronic or long-lasting dryness, the result is almost always inflammation of the cornea, redness, and considerable irritation and pain.

If left untreated, keratoconjunctivitis sicca can result in blindness. Cats experiencing chronic dry eyes will often have a yellow, sticky discharge.

Eye drops, other medications, and sometimes surgery are necessary to help stimulate tear production and to restore the tear film.

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is an eye condition that should not be ignored, as it can have horrific, irreversible side effects.


Uveitis refers to inflammation of the uvea, or internal structures of the eye. A number of conditions can lead to this condition, including physical trauma, various eye cancers, problems with the immune system, and various infections.

Feline uveitis is a common and painful ocular disease that will require appropriate veterinary treatment. If left untreated, this condition can result in blindness.

Foreign Object in the Eye

Cat eye discharge could also be caused by a foreign object in the eye. This will often result in the natural overproduction of tears in an attempt to get rid of whatever is causing the irritation.

In many cases, the excessive production of tears could successfully get rid of the foreign body. However, if the foreign object is lodged in the eye, a veterinarian will have to step in.

If your cat enjoys playing outdoors, or is particularly curious and suddenly seems to have eye problems, a foreign object might be trapped in the eye. Please visit the vet if you suspect that might be the case.

Eye Injury

Additionally, outdoor cats and those that love to explore are at a higher risk of eye injuries. The eye can be very fragile and is not designed to withstand the trauma of harmful branches or the claws of another animal.

If you have an outdoor cat, it is important to take note of their eye health. Certain eye injuries can become worse over time and lead to infection if left untreated or if the injury is severe.

Breed Predisposition

Certain breeds are at a higher risk of developing eye problems and thus, excessive eye discharge due to the shape of their faces.

Breeds such as Persians, Himalayans and other brachycephalic cat breeds (those with relatively large eyes and short noses) are more prone to excessive tear production.

With these breeds, it is important to know your cat's "normal." This will ensure that you are able to recognize when something isn't normal and act accordingly.

When to Go to the Vet

We want to reiterate that while a relatively small amount of discharge from you cat’s eyes can be considered normal from time to time, no amount of excessive discharge should be considered normal, regardless of the color or consistency. However, there are certain cases for which a trip to the vet is imperative.

If you notice a yellow or green discharge, make an appointment straight away, as it is a telling sign of infection. Additionally, if there is enough discharge that needs to be wiped away one or two times daily, we highly recommend that you see your vet.

Finally, if the eyes are red and swollen, or if your cat is excessively rubbing the eyes, make an appointment with the vet. The vet would advise you regarding the best treatment for your pet. In some cases, you may need to administer a few eye drops on a regular schedule.

However, in other cases, the eye discharge may lead your vet to find another underlying condition that needs to be addressed.

Your cat's eyes are incredibly fragile and important. Trust your gut. If you think there may be something wrong, we highly recommend seeking a professional, veterinary medical opinion.  

when to take your cat to the vet for cat eye discharge

Diagnosing Discharge in Cat Eyes

At the vet, you should expect a series of tests. During the initial exam, it is important to provide as much information as possible, so that your vet can make an accurate diagnosis.

Your vet will likely perform a complete physical exam, check your cat's temperature, and may request a blood test to rule out certain diseases.

These tests will also help to determine if your cat is suffering from seasonal allergies, or if there is potentially an infection elsewhere in the body.

Additionally, your veterinarian will use a tool called an ophthalmoscope. If you've had an eye exam you'll recognize the tool, as it’s also used in humans.

The ophthalmoscope allows the vet to see a magnified image of the eye. If a diagnosis is still unclear or inconclusive, the vet will likely administer specific eye drops and perform a test called the fluorescein eye stain test.

The vet will once again examine the eye with an ophthalmoscope and check for any injury or ulcers.

Treating Cat Eye Discharge

The appropriate treatment of cat eye discharge will vary based on the underlying cause.

Before we get into specifics, we want to remind you to never reuse eye medication from a previous ailment, even if you believe your cat is having a recurrence.

You can inadvertently cause considerable injury or worsen the condition by using the wrong medication for your cat's current eye problem.

Treatment for Conjunctivitis in Cats 

Treating conjunctivitis in cats will vary, based on the cause. It is always best to get the advice of your vet on the most effective treatment for your cat’s specific condition. Conjunctivitis caused by pollen, weeds, dust, and other environmental irritants may be alleviated by a steroid ointment. However, steroid ointments should be avoided if viral infections are detected or suspected, as they can make the condition worse. 

Antibiotic ointments are generally prescribed for feline conjunctivitis caused by a bacterial infection.

Treating Feline Upper Respiratory Infection

Treatment of an upper respiratory infection will vary based on the severity of the infection, the cause, and the other signs that are present.

The vet would commonly prescribe specific eye medications, antibiotics, fluids, and decongestants to relieve the signs and treat the infection.

Treating Corneal Disorders

Treatment of a corneal disorder will often depend on the severity of the condition. Treatment will also vary based on the specific cause of the inflammation.

One of the most important ways to care for a corneal disorder is to ensure the eye is kept clean. Additional treatment options often include an antibiotic eye ointment or antibiotic eye drops, as well as eye drops that promote healing.

In some cases, removing loose corneal tissue, cauterization, or surgery is necessary to relieve the inflammation and prevent further damage.

Treatment for Watery, Tearing Eyes 

If your cat has blocked tear ducts, a procedure performed under general anesthesia may be necessary.

The procedure will allow your vet to flush out the blockage. If an infection is present, the vet will likely prescribe antibiotic eye drops.

Treating Uveitis

An appropriate treatment plan for uveitis can be difficult as it should be based on the underlying cause of the inflammation.

However, the culprit can be difficult to determine, and at times impossible to pinpoint. In order to relieve the pain and irritation, vets often recommend an eye ointment or drops.

Treating Cat Eye Infections

Bacterial infections and viral infections have the potential to cause a lot more damage that may not be limited to the eye.

For instance, secondary bacterial infections can lead to pneumonia or other severe ailments. It is imperative that any cat with an eye infection is examined, properly diagnosed, and treated by a veterinary professional.

Treatment may include antibiotics, medications to control the clinical or physical signs, and supportive care.

Dry Eye Treatment

While the focus of this article is primarily the overproduction of tears, it is also important to be aware that some conditions may cause dry eyes, which can be equally severe and may also produce a thick abnormal discharge.

Treating chronic dry eye often involves eye drops or ointments, antibiotics, artificial tears, and/or immune-suppressing drugs.

Again, a chronic lack of tear production can lead to blindness and should be taken very seriously. Therefore, seek veterinary medical attention for your pet.

Preventing Cat Eye Discharge

Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can prevent the development of eye disorders and therefore prevent an abnormal eye discharge. Again, the discharge is merely a sign, you'll want to focus on preventing the underlying cause.

First, do your best to avoid environments that are overcrowded with cats. Eye infections are transmitted extremely easily. The more cats around, the higher the risk.

Next, it is important to keep the area around the eyes clean. Don't allow the discharge to buildup. Cat owners can use a wet cotton ball to gently wipe away the excess fluid and keep their feline's eyes bright and clear.

Be sure to use a different, clean cotton swab for each eye, particularly, if for any reason you feel that there may be an infection.

Additionally, be sure to stay away from any over-the-counter washes or drops, unless your vet has specifically prescribed them.

Remember, never reuse drops or medications from a previous ailment. Administering the wrong medication to your cat's fragile eyes can have irreversible consequences.

Finally, stay alert. As we previously mentioned, it is so important to know your cat's "normal" behavior and physical state. Only then will you be able to pick up on when something is "off" early on.

When it comes to the eyes, the sooner you can figure out what's wrong, the better the chances that your cat will recover without any permanent damage.

happy healthy cat recovered from cat eye discharge

Cat Eye Discharge: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your beloved feline friend. Don’t be tempted to brush off unusual discharges from your cat’s eyes as no big deal.

We hope this article has convinced you that excessive discharge can be a telltale sign that something could be very wrong.

Again, trust your instincts. If something seems wrong with your fur baby, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your cat's eyes are an extremely important part of their well being and something you, as a responsible pet parent, should not overlook.


Petal Smart, DVM

Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.


*This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.
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High Fiber Dog Food: Reasons, Types, & Tips

High Fiber Dog Food: Reasons, Types, & Tips

We all want the very best for our beloved four-legged companions. From staying up-to-date on the latest and greatest advancements in holistic healing to ensuring that your pup always has enough physical and mental stimulation, you try to do it all. However, what if we told you that a supplement you've definitely heard of, was one of the most often overlooked. We're talking about fiber.

Fiber is a nutrient that has extremely important health benefits for your furry friend. Yet, many pet owners assume that their dog is getting plenty of fiber from their regular food source.  Unfortunately, that may not be the case. Luckily, there are effective ways to ensure your dogs are getting all the fiber they need. Let's get started!

high fiber dog food

What is High Fiber Dog Food

High fiber dog food is exactly what you would think: dog food that is made with relatively high amounts of natural fiber. If your dog is struggling with digestive problems or maintaining a healthy weight, a high-fiber dog food option may be just the thing they need (more on that in a moment). However, making the switch to high fiber dog food isn't as simple as one may think. In fact, many pet parents compare it to getting a child to eat fruits and vegetables. It's as if the dog knows that this new food is chock full of vitamins and nutrients, so they turn their noses up. Don’t worry - if a high fiber dog food is the appropriate health change for your dog, there are ways to ensure they grow to love the taste.

Types of Fiber

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fibers are capable of absorbing water and can produce both short-chain fatty acids and gases during the fermentation process in the colon. Therefore, if introduced too quickly or if too much is given at one time, soluble fiber can result in diarrhea (watery stool from the increased absorption of water) and gas. It's always important to start off slowly with soluble fiber (or the introduction of any dietary changes for that matter).

Insoluble fibers increase the bulk of the digesta (or contents undergoing digestion) in the digestive tract (and therefore increases fecal bulk). Although metabolically less active, insoluble fiber stimulates motility. Additionally, insoluble fiber does not typically produce intestinal gas and is known for its ability to control transit time within the digestive tract. In other words, it can speed things up in cases of constipation, and slow things down in cases of diarrhea. While insoluble fiber is considered to be safe, even in high doses, too much insoluble fiber can result in a mild reduction in the availability of some nutrients (or nutrient digestibility) due to the binding of some minerals. This can, therefore, cause issues such as weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, poor coat quality, and flatulence.

The point of discussing the pros and cons of both types of fiber is to remind you that too much of a good thing can often have its downsides. When adding fiber, always give your dog the recommended amount and start slowly. There is no need to rush into implementing any new dietary supplement.

Benefits of High Fiber Dog Food

The benefits of fiber for dogs are comparable to its benefits for humans. It makes sense if you think about it. If you have ever had a weekend during which you treated yourself with an overload of carbohydrates and apparently forgot that vegetables existed, your stomach was probably not pleased... to say the least. Dogs can easily have sensitive stomachs as well. Heavy, grain-based pet food may fill them up, but dogs need high-quality fiber sources to keep things moving. In fact, without appropriate amounts of dietary fiber, your dog may ultimately be faced with a slew of health concerns that you may not have even considered. Thankfully, these can easily be prevented simply by incorporating fiber.  

Helping with Digestion

Just as in people, fiber is an important part of digestive health in dogs. High fiber dog food is paramount for dogs with digestive issues and also helps to relieve dogs with constipation or diarrhea.

The soluble and insoluble fiber that we mentioned above are key players in regulating the digestive tract by relieving constipation and controlling diarrhea.

Colon Health

High-fiber dog food also promotes colon health. The beneficial bacteria that are naturally found in the dog’s intestine ferment the fiber source and convert it into fatty acids. The fatty acids help to inhibit the overgrowth of bad bacteria and may aid in the recovery of colon injury.

Furthermore, studies have found that fermentable fiber has the ability to prevent colon cancer in dogs. How is that possible? Fiber speeds up the elimination process and thus lessens the exposure to any carcinogens that the dog may have eaten. Therefore, fiber aids in protecting the colon wall, as well as the digestive tract, from elements that could cause or contribute to cancer.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Sadly, obesity can be a serious issue among our four-legged friends and can do a lot more damage than some dog owners may realize. In fact, obesity is listed among the leading causes of illness in dogs. However, most obese dogs remain obese throughout their lives, because owners are reluctant to decrease the amount of food they serve them.

If your dog is obese, you may want to consider switching to a high fiber dog food. Fiber allows your dog to feel full and nourished without eating nearly as much caloric content as can be found in the typical grain-based diet. If you ever check the labels of commercial dry food that is formulated for weight loss, you'll find that it is full of dietary fibers for that very reason.

If you decide that you ultimately don't want to make the full switch to a high fiber dog food, you can still help your dog to maintain a healthy weight by adding a natural fiber source, such as green beans, to their diet. The healthy additive to your dog's diet will help them to feel full and energized for a longer duration, without overeating and consequent weight gain.

Dogs with Diabetes Mellitus

Dogs with present health concerns, such as diabetes, may also benefit from a high-fiber diet.

Certain fibers work to help slow digestion. Slower digestion helps to keep blood-sugar levels from spiking. Therefore, fiber helps to decrease the number of fluctuations that occur in the blood sugar levels and helps to regulate illnesses like diabetes.

With that being said, it is always important to discuss new dietary changes with your veterinarian, particularly when it comes to a dog with existing health issues. While many vets prescribe a high-fiber diet for dogs with diabetes, some dogs with the condition benefit from a moderate to low fiber intake. All dogs are different. Your veterinarian will be able to guide you in the appropriate direction for your dog's individual needs.

Source of Fiber for Dogs 

Now that you know all of the great ways in which fiber can benefit your dog, you're likely wondering how to get started. Many dog owners are unsure of whether they should make a total switch to a high-fiber dog food brand, simply add fiber-rich foods, or if a fiber supplement may be best. Unfortunately, there is no single right answer.

We recommend trying out a few different ways of incorporating fiber and seeing which best suits your dog. Again, go slowly! Don't suddenly bring home high fiber food, supplements, and treats and expect Fido to react enthusiastically. Slowly integrate whichever fiber source you choose and allow your dog's body to get used to the new source of nutrients at its own pace.

Best Foods with Fiber for Dogs

High fiber dog food doesn't have to be a store-bought brand of pet food. In fact, you may have the best luck heading straight to the produce aisle. Many fruits and veggies are perfectly safe for Fido and are packed with fiber that can easily be added to your dog's diet.

Sweet Potatoes

For starters, sweet potatoes are a wonderful source of fiber and can provide excellent support for your dog's digestive health. In fact, one medium-sized sweet potato contains over 3 grams of dietary fiber. The best part? Most dogs absolutely love the taste.

In preparing the sweet potato feast, simply clean the whole potato with warm water and pierce it several times with a fork. Cook the potato in the microwave for 810 minutes, turning it over halfway through. Once cooked, cut the sweet potato in half and scoop out the insides, throwing away the skin. Mash the sweet potato with a fork and allow it to cool thoroughly. Dog owners can add 1 to 3 tablespoons of the delicious dietary fiber to Fido's food bowl for a tasty, healthy treat.

sweet potato for dogs

Canned Pumpkin

Have you ever heard of pumpkin for dogs? With fall just around the corner, Fido can also partake in your love for all things pumpkin! Pumpkin is a great source of soluble fiber and contains essential vitamins and minerals that help to relieve dog diarrhea. Canned pumpkin contains vitamins A, C, E, potassium, and iron, among other beneficial nutrients. The natural fibers and essential vitamins slow down digestion by absorbing water and adding bulk to the dog's stool. To relieve dog diarrhea, simply mix the dog's current dry food with a tablespoon of canned pumpkin and watch the dietary fiber work its magic on the digestive system. 

Adding pumpkin can also help significantly with weight management. Of course, you love your fur baby no matter what the scale says. However, as we previously mentioned, obesity is directly tied to a number of health conditions that dog owners must work to avoid. Canned pumpkin is a great way to ensure that your dog maintains a healthy weight without feeling hungry.

We want to quickly note that canned pumpkin for dogs is NOT pumpkin pie filling. When purchasing canned pumpkin, make sure that pumpkin is the sole ingredient. The product should not contain any added sugars, salt, etc., as these ingredients will ultimately do a lot more harm than good to your dog's gastrointestinal tract.

Green Beans

Finally, green beans! Green beans make for an excellent source of fiber for dogs and humans alike. Dog owners can steam fresh green beans, let them cool entirely, and then mash them up and add them to the dry dog food.

green beans for dogs

Other foods that make for great sources of fiber include:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Green vegetables
  • Beet pulp

*We want to note that dog allergies are something to be aware of whenever integrating something new into your dog's diet. It is important to closely monitor Fido and be aware of any changes that may indicate food allergies such as itching, dry flaky skin, and stomach issues.

Quality High Fiber Dog Food Brands

Some dog owners may choose to make the switch to a high fiber dog food brand. If this is something you're considering, it is important to be aware of the overall quality of the food and understand the origin of the fiber. It is not enough to simply add fiber. The fiber itself must be of high quality in order for your dog to truly benefit.

Pet parents should avoid fiber that comes from ingredients such as corn and other unhealthy fillers. It is imperative that dog owners are aware of the ingredients listed on their pet's food. For instance, the ingredient “cellulose” can actually originate from a slew of sources including shredded paper. Knowing exactly what you are feeding your dog is the first step to ensuring that their diet is balanced and healthy.

Your vet will be able to lead you in the right direction in terms of a specific brand that will be best for your dog. Commonly recommended brands include Royal Canin, Nutro, and Hill’s Prescription Diet. Of course, there are several other good brands available.

Fiber Supplementation for Dogs

Just like their owners, dogs can become constipated. While we highly recommend first adding a supplement like canned pumpkin, sometimes the dog's digestive tract may need an extra boost to get it moving again. Many pet owners have found that adding a laxative, such a Miralax, can help to ease their dog's constipation. Other pet owners have found that adding brown rice can do wonders to relieve an upset stomach. It is so important to always consult your veterinarian regarding additional fiber supplements, particularly those that are formulated for humans. While they may end up working just fine for your dog, it's always better to be safe than sorry. The last thing you want is for your dog's constipation to be relieved, only to be confronted by a sudden bout of diarrhea.

Please also always make sure that Fido stays hydrated. Dehydration and constipation often go hand in hand, and you may be surprised to know just how beneficial a constant clean water source can be for digestive issues. 

Transitioning to Food with Fiber

When transitioning your pets to a high-fiber diet, there are a few things to be aware of. First, dog owners should consider what constitutes their dog's current diet. If there is little to no fiber content, then a sudden fiber additive can easily cause digestive upset. It is important to make the transition gradual. Slowly begin to substitute small portions of your dog's current food with the new high-fiber food. Allow your dog's body to take the time it needs to adjust to the increased fiber content.

When simply adding a fiber source, such as pumpkin or green beans, it is important to know what your choices are, and how each can benefit Fido in slightly varying ways. Recognize how your dog would best benefit from each supplement and make a decision based on your dog's needs.

Stay Alert!

As always, stay alert. Switching diets can be a bigger change than you may imagine. The first step to ensuring that Fido stays happy and healthy is knowing your dog's "normal" and being able to recognize when something is off. If your dog begins to experience diarrhea or digestive upset, decrease the amount of fiber that you are adding to their meal. Again, ask your vet for recommendations on the appropriate amount of fiber for your dog's individual needs and be sure to follow their instructions.

Specific Dietary Options

Studies continue to prove just how important fiber is for all dogs. However, when fiber is used in the treatment of conditions such as obesity, there are several diets that your vet may recommend exploring.

Low-Fat Diet Dog Food: Rich in Fiber

Diets that are low in fat, including low-carb diets, often emphasize the additional feature of being rich in nutritional fibers. These diets use fiber to aid in making your dog feel full faster, which therefore helps to curb excess food intake. Low-fat diets are also often recommended for aging dogs that are less active in their older years and therefore require fewer calories.

Grain-Free Dog Food

Grain-free dog food often goes hand in hand with low-carb diets. Many pet owners have found that feeding grain-free food also helps to manage allergies and maintain a healthy weight.

Lower Protein

Your vet may also recommend trying a dry or wet dog food that is high in dietary fiber and lower in protein content.

Typically, store-bought dog food contains 24% fiber. A prescribed diet or high fiber dog food may contain 610% fiber and less protein.

high fiber dog food

High Fiber Dog Food & CBD

Because CBD and fiber are both all-natural supplements, they can be safely used in conjunction with one another for even more benefits. Your dog's stomach problems can soon be a thing of the past by making a few simple changes, such as implementing fiber and CBD as a part of a well-rounded diet.

healthy dog

High Fiber Dog Food: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, we know that you want the absolute best for Fido. We understand. At Honest Paws we are all dog owners and dog lovers, so we know first-hand how tough it can be to navigate the world of pet parenting. It is important to know that so many health conditions can be prevented by ensuring Fido is consuming high-quality dog food. Talk to your vet to determine if a high fiber diet may be just what your dog needs.


Chelsea Rivera

Petal Smart, DVM

Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.


*This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.
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Probiotics for Dogs: The Truth About Digestive Health

Probiotics for Dogs: The Truth About Digestive Health

Your dog means the world to you, so it makes sense to do whatever you can to keep them healthy and happy. However, what you may not fully realize is the importance of your dog's gut. Poor digestive health is at the forefront of many conditions. Luckily, a healthy gut and digestive system make a healthy pup. So how can you ensure that Fido's digestive health is at its very best? One of the easiest ways is through canine probiotics.

In this article, we aim to inform you, our readers, about the importance of a healthy digestive system and provide a detailed guide for incorporating probiotics into your dog's diet to improve your dog's health.

What are Probiotics For Dogs?

The word probiotics literally translates to "for life." The word originates from the Latin preposition pro meaning  “for” and the Greek word bios meaning “life.”

Probiotics are vital microorganisms that live in various parts of your dog’s body, including:

  • The gastrointestinal tract
  • The oral cavity
  • Vagina
  • Nasal cavity
  • Respiratory organs
  • On the surface of the skin

Probiotics are often referred to as "good bacteria." You may be aware that not all bacteria are harmful. In fact, your dog needs certain bacteria to stay healthy. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that mimic the naturally occurring bacteria already present in the body.  Humans can reap the benefits of probiotics when we eat certain foods such as yogurt, tempeh, and cheese, or through synthetically formulated probiotics.

Either way, it is incredibly important that there is a healthy balance of good vs. bad bacteria in your dog's body.

Probiotics for dogs

What Do Probiotics Do?

Probiotics play a key role in helping your gut to stay as healthy as it possibly can. The digestive tract is at the forefront of keeping your body functioning properly. In fact, the health of the digestive tract affects nearly every other process within the body. Remarkably, the food you eat and how your body digests and processes it can even affect cognitive function as well as mood. That’s where probiotics come into play. Probiotics usually target gut health, specifically, improving digestion so that the food you eat is broken down in an effective way that allows the nutrients to be absorbed and metabolized appropriately.

How Do Probiotics Work?

Probiotics are healthy, beneficial bacteria that are, in fact, live organisms. They are typically various species of the Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus groups. These live organisms help to balance the good and bad bacteria that live within the gut. It may surprise you to know just how easy it is for good and bad bacteria to become imbalanced in the body and cause digestive issues. Bad bacteria can outweigh good bacteria because of illness, an unbalanced diet, or because of antibiotic treatment. It's unfortunately relatively easy for bad bacteria to take over. That's why probiotics are so important.

Dog Probiotics Vs. Human Probiotics

Some pet supply companies manufacture probiotics that are specifically formulated for dogs and cats. With that said, many human probiotics are safe for canine consumption. The dose, however, will vary. Additionally, many probiotics for humans come in a pill that can be swallowed. If you've ever had to give your dog a pill then you know what a challenge it can be. For this reason, many pet owners may choose to purchase chewable probiotic supplements for Fido. As always, we recommend consulting your vet regarding the appropriate product and dose for your dog's individual needs.

Probiotics Benefits for Dogs

Similar to their benefits in humans, probiotics can provide Fido with a slew of health advantages. Take a look at the ways in which probiotics can help your four-legged friend.

Additionally, your dog doesn't have to be facing any current ailments in order to benefit from probiotics. In fact, just about any dog can benefit from a probiotic supplement. Furthermore, studies are finding that probiotics may also help aging dogs by supporting the immune system and helping to prevent the development of some illnesses.

benefits of Probiotics for dogs

Does My Dog Need Probiotics?

Most dogs don't necessarily "need" a probiotic supplement. However, as we previously mentioned, just about every dog can benefit from probiotics. If your dog is currently facing an ailment, your veterinarian may recommend a higher dosage. (This is why we always recommend consulting your vet!) Additionally, if the bad bacteria in your dog's gut outnumber the good bacteria, it is imperative to understand why. Simply adding probiotics will not entirely correct the underlying problem. Again, talk to your vet regarding why your dog's bacteria may be imbalanced and work to correct the problem from the inside, out.

Furthermore, if your dog has any of the following conditions, it is very likely that they do in fact need a probiotic supplement:

  • Allergies to food or the environment
  • An infection or virus
  • A change to a new food
  • Parasitic infection
  • Use of antibiotics or other medication that affects the body’s natural flora
  • Stress due to a new environment or situation

If you know that your dog is going to experience some form of change that will likely cause digestive upset, experts recommend starting a dog probiotic supplement a few days beforehand. These changes may include switching dog food, as well as traveling or moving. Dogs can be highly sensitive animals. If something is stressing you out, chances are, it's also stressful for Fido. A probiotic supplement is a great way to manage the associated stress and anxiety.

are probiotics right for your dog

Probiotics Side Effects

When given in the appropriate dosage, probiotics typically don’t cause many side effects. However, too many probiotics can throw your dogs system out of whack. If too much of a probiotic supplement is given, extreme diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting may occur. Additionally, it is important to monitor probiotic intake in dogs with weakened immune systems.

Furthermore, probiotics can also multiply too rapidly. This can lead to inflammation or infection. Luckily, the vast majority of issues that may be caused by dog probiotics can be prevented. We don’t want to sound like a broken record, but it is important to consult your veterinarian regarding the appropriate dosage in order to minimize or prevent any side effects.

Types of Probiotics for Dogs

There are a few different types of probiotics. Most of the time, your veterinarian will recommend giving your dog a probiotic supplement that’s specifically formulated for dogs. Typically, the supplement will be in either a chewable or powder form. (Pills and dogs generally don't always do well together and the manufacturers keep this in mind when formulating probiotic products for canines).

It is important to note that each type of probiotic can help your dog in a different way. Therefore, choosing the right probiotic for your dog's individual needs can be a bit tricky.

types of Probiotics for dogs

Top Probiotic for Dogs

The best probiotic for your dog will depend on your dog's individual needs.

One of the most common groups of probiotic bacterial strains for dogs is known as Lactobacillus. These bacteria help to increase nutrient absorption, thus allowing your dog to receive the most out of their meals. Probiotics that contain Lactobacillus strains also help to prevent digestive upsets, including diarrhea and nausea, while ensuring that your dog gets plenty of vitamins and nutrients from their food.

Another common bacterial strain used in probiotics is referred to as Bifidobacterium. Bifidobacterium helps to boost your dog's overall health and support the immune system. This is particularly beneficial for dogs that are recovering from an illness, as well as those with weakened immune systems due to aging. This group or genus of bacteria is known to alleviate the signs and reduce the severity of the illness.

Purina FortiFlora is one of the more commonly recommended probiotic supplements. It has also been analyzed and proven to meet the claims on its label. It produces antioxidants to boost the immune system, while beneficial bacteria support the health of the dog’s intestinal tract.

Natural Probiotics

Before jumping on the supplement bandwagon, we recommend trying to implement probiotics in the form of natural food. Of course, this may not be an option for dog parents who have a pup that refuses to eat such food (that's where supplements come in handy). However, if your dog has a healthy appetite, we suggest trying out the following natural probiotic options.

Kimchi and Fermented Veggies

Kimchi and fermented veggies are a great way to ensure that your pup is receiving a healthy dose of natural probiotics. Interestingly enough, fermented foods are already partially digested. The fermentation process helps multiply the good, beneficial bacteria and digestive enzymes.

Raw Goat Milk

Another great option is raw goat's milk. Raw goat's milk is typically safe for dogs (check with your vet if you're unsure) and contains a bountiful amount of naturally-occurring probiotics. It also has a very small amount of lactose, which therefore causes very little (if any) digestive upset (a significant difference from cow's milk). Because of its increased popularity, many pet food stores now carry raw goat’s milk.


Additionally,  kefir made with raw goat's milk is another great option for picky eaters. Kefir is packed with natural probiotics and makes for a beneficial topper on your dog's balanced meal. You can find kefir at your local grocery store but make sure that it is unsweetened!

Also, many pet parents may enjoy making their own kefir. We've included a recipe for coconut milk kefir below!

Coconut Milk Kefir Recipe


  • 2 to 4 Tbsp of milk kefir grains
  • 4 cups of coconut milk (or 2 cans of coconut milk)


  1. Place the milk kefir grains with the coconut milk in a half gallon glass mason jar
  2. Cover lightly and leave at room temperature for at least 12 hours (this is where the fermentation takes place)
  3. After 12 hours, taste the kefir to determine if it has reached the desired level of fermentation
  4. Strain out the milk kefir grains and add new coconut milk and repeat the entire process
  5. Store the fermented coconut milk kefir in your refrigerator


Finally, one of the easiest ways to ensure that your beloved four-legged friend is getting probiotics is to just allow them to be a dog. Playing in the dirt allows the entry of soil-based microorganisms into the dog's system.

Allowing your dog to play around in nature is a simple, effective way to help your dog naturally build up their immune system.

Finding the Best Probiotic Supplement for Dogs

We understand that all natural probiotics in food may not work for everything or even all dogs. If this is the case, there are still some important factors you need to be aware of.

There are a few things that you should look for on the probiotics label to ensure you're purchasing the best supplement.

Probiotic Strains

First, you want to look at the list of specific probiotics that the product contains. This includes strain identification. There are several probiotic strains of bacteria and each strain does something different. Some strains have anti-inflammatory effects, while others are better immune stimulants. More strains or different forms of bacteria do not not necessarily mean better probiotics. This is because they can sometimes work against one another. Most of the probiotics that work well have single strains.

Guaranteed Analysis

Next, you'll want to look at the guaranteed analysis of how many live bacteria will exist at the end of the shelf life of the product. It’s entirely possible that by the time you purchase the product, all of the probiotics may have died and are therefore, no longer effective. This is why guaranteed analysis is so important.

Use-Before Date

Finally, make sure to look at the use-before date, and of course, ensure your dog can consume the entire product before that date.

Did You Know That Probiotics Need Prebiotics?

More fun information! Many pet parents may not know that probiotics need prebiotics. Probiotics are a little different than prebiotics. Prebiotics are the indigestible carbohydrates that support probiotics and supply them with the nourishment they need to thrive in the digestive tract. Feeding prebiotics along with probiotics provides your dog with what is known as synbiotics.


Synbiotics refers to a beneficial interaction or synergy between two separate things. Prebiotics and probiotics create an ideal coupling and work together to support the overall health of your dog.

Types of Prebiotics

Adding the following prebiotics to your dog's diet can help tremendously.

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Green leafy veggies (dandelion leaves are especially good)
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms

All of the foods listed, except garlic, can be given in the amount you see fit. Garlic, while totally safe in appropriate amounts, does need to be monitored. Pet owners should feed Fido fresh, organic US-grown garlic. Dogs can consume up to 1 tsp per 30 lbs of weight per day.

Administering the Probiotic Effectively and Efficiently

A veterinarian will be able to give you specific instructions and dosage requirements based on your dog's weight and dietary needs. Your vet will also be able to provide you with helpful tips for administering the probiotic. For instance, you may want to purchase a probiotic powder supplement instead of capsules. This way, you can mix it in with your dog's food to slowly introduce the supplement.

A great feature of probiotics is that they typically begin to work right away. Of course, for the dog to digest the probiotic and have it enter their lower portions of the gut can take several hours. Furthermore, it is entirely possible that some dogs may take a couple of days before balance is achieved in their digestive system and the probiotic exerts its effects. Long-term effects may take up to a few weeks before pet owners see any noticeable change.

Finally, as with all things new, we recommend starting slowly. There’s no need to rush the process when it comes to implementing a probiotic supplement into your dog's diet. The last thing that you want to do is cause more harm than good and upset your dog's gastrointestinal tract in the process. Patience is key.

administering Probiotics for dogs

Probiotics for Dogs: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your four-legged companion. We get it. Here at Honest Paws, we are all dog owners and pet lovers. Therefore, we know just how hard it can be when something is "off" with Fido. 

What many pet parents don't realize is just how important the gi tract and overall gut health truly is. So many conditions begin with an unhealthy gut, and many of these illnesses are difficult to reverse. Luckily, adding a probiotic supplement can make a world of difference for Fido's digestive health.

A probiotic supplement is an easy and effective way to balance the good and bad bacteria in your dog's gut. Remember, bad bacteria will always exist, and that's ok! As long as there is a healthy balance, you can be sure that your dog's health and well-being is at an optimal level.


Chelsea Rivera


Petal Smart, DVM

Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.


*This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.
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Cerenia: Know The Side Effects

Cerenia: Know The Side Effects

You know the feeling...that queasy discomfort in the pit of your stomach...and whatever the cause, we don't have to tell you how awful it feels. Dry heaving. Stomach pains. Being sick is no fun for anyone, including your furry friends... And just like people, dogs and cats can experience nausea and vomiting for a number of reasons.

Luckily, experts in the veterinary field have realized that dogs and cats shouldn't have to face the unpleasant realities of acute vomiting any more than we should; thus, they have developed the drug, Cerenia® (Maropitant citrate). In this article, we'll cover all the important facts about the medication and how it may be able to help your pet through their bout of distress. We will also discuss the potential side effects, as well as alternatives you may want to consider. Let's get to it!

cerenia for dogs

What is Cerenia (Maropitant citrate)

Cerenia is the first (and only) FDA-approved medication that veterinarians prescribe to treat vomiting in dogs and cats. Cerenia is also prescribed to prevent vomiting in dogs, resulting from motion sickness.

We will first discuss the ways in which Cerenia can help your dog and then move on to how your feline may also benefit from Cerenia. Although Cerenia serves as a treatment for vomiting in both dogs and cats, there are a few important differences that pet owners should understand.

Why is Cerenia Used in Dogs

When it comes to your canine, there are a few ways in which Cerenia can help to alleviate vomiting and nausea, as well as prevent the uneasiness even before it starts.

Cerenia for Motion Sickness 

Many dog owners cannot bear the thought of leaving Fido behind as they travel the world. We understand, at Honest Paws, we are also dog owners and love taking our four-legged companions on every road trip possible. Unfortunately, some dogs don't necessarily love to travel as much as we might. In fact, studies show that an estimated one in five dogs suffers from motion sickness. In these cases, your veterinarian may prescribe Cerenia to ease the associated symptoms that may arise from traveling. 

Signs of Motion Sickness in Dogs

Dogs aren't necessarily going to warn you before they throw up all over the back seat of the car. Furthermore, dogs are notorious for hiding pain and distress, which makes it even more difficult to foresee the messy event. With that being said, it is important to be aware of a few tell-tale signs of motion sickness in dogs.


Of course, the most obvious sign of motion sickness is vomiting. Many pet owners feel that if they withhold food (water should not be withheld) before a car ride, they can eliminate the possibility of vomiting. However, vomiting can occur even on an empty stomach.

Furthermore, vomiting is certainly not the only sign of motion sickness.

Excessive Drooling

If you notice that your dog is drooling excessively, they are likely experiencing motion sickness. Additionally, dogs are highly sensitive animals and can show signs prior to the onset of active motion sickness. In some cases, the drooling may begin even before the car is moving, especially if the dog could anticipate what's in store.

drooling from cerenia

Dry Heaving

Your dog may also begin dry heaving and/or panting once in the car. Again, this is a sign that can occur prematurely if your dog equates a car trip with feeling ill.


Many dogs will also show general signs of uneasiness, as well as a fear of cars. If your dog is whining, pacing, or showing that they are scared of what is to come, they are likely among the one in five dogs that experience the unfortunate signs of motion sickness.

Which Dogs Are Affected By Motion Sickness?

As we previously stated, studies show that one in five dogs experience motion sickness, yet many pet owners wonder whether or not their dog may be more prone to it. Unfortunately, there are no real ways to determine whether or not your dog may be more likely to experience motion sickness other than taking them for a car ride and finding out. All breeds are susceptible, as well as all ages and sizes.  

Luckily, Cerenia has shown to effectively alleviate, as well as prevent nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness in dogs.

Acute Vomiting in Dogs

Veterinarians also prescribe Cerenia to alleviate acute vomiting in dogs. Acute or short-term vomiting can occur for a number of reasons (which we will discuss momentarily) and can alarm many pet owners. One reason veterinarians may prescribe Cerenia is to put a stop to the vomiting so that they are able to get to the bottom of whatever is causing it. Persistent vomiting can lead to dehydration and further gastrointestinal upset. Cerenia can help to alleviate the distress and prevent additional issues from arising, as well as provide comfort for your dog and peace of mind for you, the dog owner.

While there may be a slew of reasons why Fido may be vomiting, we want to cover a few of the most common. The more information you are able to provide your veterinarian, the quicker they will be able to accurately diagnose and treat the underlying reason for the acute vomiting.

cerenia is used to stop vomiting 

Environmental Toxins

Environmental toxicity and poisoning are among the most common reasons for sudden bouts of vomiting. Many dogs are known to be quite mischievous and get into things that can ultimately cause them harm. They are also equal opportunity eaters and are known to feast on just about anything. One of the first signs that your dog may have ingested something that they shouldn't have is sudden, acute vomiting.

While Cerenia may help reduce the bouts of vomiting, additional treatment will likely be necessary to rid the body of the poisonous toxin.

Drug Interactions

Additionally, if a new medication has been recently prescribed for your dog, acute vomiting may ensue as your dog's body adjusts. If this occurs, it is extremely important to make sure your veterinarian is aware of the reaction. Acute vomiting due to medications may also be a sign that your dog is having an allergic reaction or a negative interaction, in which case, administration of the drug should be stopped.


In many cases, vomiting is considered to be a non-specific sign of disease in dogs. Non-specific signs are those that may occur with many different underlying causes. For this reason, it is extremely important that your veterinarian rules out the possibility of disease to prevent additional issues from arising. While Cerenia can alleviate the signs of disease, it merely acts as a band-aid. It will not cure the disease.

Changes in Diet

While many dogs love to eat things they shouldn't, they can be very picky eaters when it comes to their own food. For this reason, dog owners find themselves constantly switching things up and adding variety to their pup's diet. However, if you find yourself doing this, it is imperative that you make the transition slowly! Switching up your dog's food too quickly can lead to acute vomiting that can be easily prevented.


Acute vomiting can also be a telltale sign of intestinal parasites. As you can see, while vomiting can be something that is a rather "easy fix," it can also be a major cause for concern. This is when Cerenia can help to alleviate the discomfort while your veterinarian uncovers the underlying issue at hand.  


Finally, acute vomiting may occur as a result of different forms of stress, including separation anxiety. For some dogs, the idea of their owner leaving the house for any length of time can mean a full-on panic attack. The sad reality can leave many pet owners not knowing how to proceed (let alone have any semblance of a social life!). Luckily, in such cases, Cerenia can help.

What Else Should You Look For

Again, the more information you are able to provide your vet, the sooner they will be able to make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

If acute vomiting occurs, make sure you also look for whether the following additional signs are also present and let your vet know as soon as possible:

  • Diarrhea (with or without blood)
  • Blood in the vomit
  • Excessive lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in the urine or stool

Prevention of Vomiting Before Surgery

Cerenia also works to prevent vomiting prior to surgery in cases where opioids are used as a pre-anesthetic. In such cases, Cerenia is given prior to surgery and helps to prevent an adverse reaction to the opioids.

Cerenia Side Effects in Dogs

Like all conventional drugs, Cerenia does have potential adverse reactions that dog owners should be aware of.

While studies show that most dogs have no adverse reactions to the drug, the following side effects of Cerenia have been reported over the last 10 years:

  • Lethargy and drowsiness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Excessive drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain at the injection site (when it comes to the injectable form of Cerenia)

    decreased appetite in dogs from cerenia

    In terms of treating motion sickness in dogs, experts recommend giving the medication an appropriate "trial run" before committing to it for a long trip. The last thing that you want to do is rely on Cerenia to prevent vomiting, only to find that it causes other unpleasant side effects, such as diarrhea.  

    Additionally, Cerenia should not be administered to dogs under 16 weeks old or those who have pre-existing liver conditions. As always, it is extremely important to make sure that your veterinarian is aware of any allergies or pre-existing health issues before prescribing any new medication.

    Administering Cerenia to Dogs

    Cerenia can be administered to dogs in two forms: tablet and injectable form.

    Cerenia Tablets for Motion Sickness

    Unlike cats, dogs can take Cerenia tablets to prevent the associated symptoms of motion sickness. Experts recommend giving your dog the appropriate dosage of Cerenia 2 hours prior to getting into the car. Make sure to give the medication with a small amount of food to prevent an upset stomach. Dog owners can give Cerenia to their pup once a day for up to 2 days in a row for the prevention of motion sickness. As always, your veterinarian should be the one to tell you the exact dose that will suit your dog's individual needs.

    Cerenia Injectable

    Cerenia is also available in injection form for acute vomiting in both dogs and cats. The injection should only be administered by a trained veterinary professional.

    Cerenia for Cats

    Now, let's get into Cerenia for cats. While it can also be used to treat acute vomiting in cats, there are some notable differences from its administration in dogs.

    Acute Vomiting

    Like its major benefit for our canine friends, Cerenia is also the one and only FDA approved medication to treat acute vomiting in cats.

    Similar to dogs, vomiting in cats can be due to several reasons and can range in severity. It is very important to get to the bottom of what is causing your cat to have sudden, acute bouts of nausea and vomiting. While the underlying cause may be something mild, it could also be a sign of infection, disease, or parasites.

    Vomiting: What Else to Look For

    It is important for cat owners to give their veterinarian as much information as possible, in order to quickly diagnose and treat their cat's condition.

    Cat owners must also take note of whether the following symptoms are present:

    • Dehydration
    • Diarrhea or changes in the stool
    • Persistent vomiting
    • Weight loss
    • Lack of appetite
    • Decreased energy

      cerenia for cats

      How to Administer Cerenia for Cats: Cerenia Injectable

      Cerenia for cats is only available as an injectable solution. It is imperative that pet owners who have both cats and dogs do not mistakenly give both animals the same medication, even if they are both experiencing the same symptoms. The Cerenia injectable should only be administered by a trained veterinary professional.

      Cerenia Tablets = Not for Cats!

      According to Cerenia's website, the tablets should not be given to cats. Cerenia tablets have only been approved for dogs, whereas the injection can be used for both cats and dogs. With that said, there are veterinarians who may still prescribe Cerenia tablets for cats. We just want you to be aware of what the manufacturer recommends. At the end of the day, you need to take the necessary precautions for the well being of your cat.

      Cerenia Side Effects in Cats

      The side effects of Cerenia in cats are comparable to those in dogs. However, because the only form of Cerenia that is safe for cats is the injectable, the main side effect is pain at the injection site.

      Alternative Treatment Options for Dogs and Cats

      While Cerenia for dogs and cats can effectively treat and prevent nausea and vomiting, it is certainly not the only option available to pet owners.

      Preventing Motion Sickness in Dogs

      When it comes to treating our four-legged friends, we truly believe that prevention is the best medicine. Keeping all of the aforementioned information in mind, we have some good news. There are ways to help prevent motion sickness in dogs.

      Experts have found that the following approaches can do wonders for a dog prone to motion sickness.

      • First, make sure that your dog feels secure. We recommend purchasing a safety seat for your dog so that they aren't sliding across your back seat with every turn. Additionally, if your dog is going to be sitting in the front passenger seat, make sure that the seat is buckled in as far away from the dashboard as possible. You may also want to consider disabling the passenger side airbag as it can potentially cause a significant amount of harm to your dog.
      • Next, make sure that the car is kept cool during rides, regardless of the distance. Dogs can quickly become overheated (or hyperthermic)  on car trips, particularly if they are experiencing symptoms of motion sickness. It is important to keep your dog as cool and comfortable as possible.
      • Also, rolling down the windows a few inches will help to equalize both inside and outside air pressures.
      • Experts also recommend limiting the amount of food given just before a car trip. Of course, if you are administering Cerenia 2 hours before, then it should be given with food.
      • Next, treats and toys are key! You want to create positive associations with taking rides in the car. Many times, treats and your dog's favorite toy can make a great difference.
      • Speaking of positive associations, take your dog on trips to places they enjoy, like the dog park. If a car trip always results in going to the vet, it's no wonder they aren't jumping for joy at the thought of it.
      • Finally, start slowly. Ease your dog into the idea of a long car ride by starting off with short rides around the neighborhood that end up back home.

      Cerenia: Not A Cure for Acute Vomiting

      Again, we want to reiterate that using Cerenia to alleviate acute vomiting, would not cure the underlying condition at hand. Many pet owners want immediate relief for their pet's vomiting (which we totally understand); however, it is imperative that you treat the condition that is causing the vomiting to occur in the first place. Cerenia cannot cure something like intestinal parasites or renal disease. It is up to you and your veterinarian to get to the bottom of the bouts of acute sickness your dog or cat may be experiencing.

      cbd for pets is better than cerenia

      Cerenia: A Final Thought

      At the end of the day, we can all agree that nausea and vomiting are no fun for anyone, including our beloved fur babies. Cerenia has been proven to make a substantial difference in the lives of many cats and dogs who experience sudden episodes of vomiting. With that said, we want you, our readers, to understand that while medication can certainly be useful, there are alternative ways to not only treat vomiting but also prevent it from occurring in the first place. The more you know about your options, the better equipped you can be at ensuring you make the best decisions for the wellbeing of your pets.


      Petal Smart, DVM

      Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

      *This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.
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      Tramadol For Dogs: Pros & Cons

      Tramadol For Dogs: Pros & Cons

      One of the worst feelings for a pet owner is knowing that your beloved four-legged companion is in pain but not knowing exactly what to do for them.

      Whether your dog is recovering from surgery or experiencing pain associated with aging bones and joints, your vet will likely prescribe conventional pain medication.

      Here's where things may get worrisome. A quick glance at the laundry list of potential adverse reactions associated with nearly every single conventional medication could terrify most any dog owner.

      From kidney damage to liver failure to potential death, the number of things that could go wrong is horrifying. Yet, what else can you do? You don't want your precious pup to be in pain, but is there any other way?

      In this article, we'll cover the pros and cons of a commonly prescribed pain medication called Tramadol. You should only use the medication based on the advice of your vet, and it is imperative for you to also know the associated risks.

      Additionally, we will cover holistic alternatives that continue to prove to be effective and safe. Let's begin!

      tramadol for dogs

      What is Tramadol for Dogs

      Tramadol is a prescription medication that many vets recommend for managing pain in dogs. You may recognize the name, as it is also prescribed by many physicians to treat pain in humans.

      In fact, tramadol is one of the few human painkillers that veterinarians deem safe to give to Fido, under veterinary supervision of course. A tramadol prescription however, should never be transferred between pets or from owner to pet.

      Each case is different and should be closely monitored by your vet (or your physician, depending on who has prescribed the drug).

      Understanding How Tramadol for Dogs Works

      Understanding How Tramadol for Dogs Works

      Tramadol is a member of the opioid family. It inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, and thereby increases the levels of these substances in the bloodstream and alters the perception of pain in both dogs and humans.

      Additionally, the increased levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the bloodstream helps to create sensations of euphoria and wellbeing, allowing your dog to not only be pain-free, but also mentally calm and physically relaxed.

      Although opioids can be addictive in humans, the drugs do not usually affect our dogs in the same, destructive manner (some dogs however, may experience withdrawal symptoms when treatment is stopped)

      What is Tramadol Used For

      Tramadol is primarily used to manage general, chronic pain, and acute pain in dogs. However, in this section, we'll break down the more specific reasons why tramadol may be prescribed.

      Tramadol for Osteoarthritis

      One of the primary reasons for tramadol prescriptions is the treatment of the signs of osteoarthritis in dogs. It is important to note that tramadol merely alleviates the signs and is not a cure for the underlying cause of the condition.

      As your dog gets older, their bones and joints begin to wear from years of constant use.

      The wear creates inflammation and associated pain that can cause your dog to become lethargic, depressed, and even shy away from physical attention for fear of being touched or handled in a way that may result in even more pain.

      In these cases, your veterinarian may prescribe tramadol.

      osteoarthritis in dogs

      Treating Post-Operative Pain

      Vets may also prescribe tramadol to manage pain resulting from recent surgery. It is important to note that if you are using tramadol to manage post-operative pain, you'll need to keep a close eye on your dog to make sure they aren't overexerting themselves.

      The medication will relieve their pain, which can lead to increased activity, possibly insufficient rest, and an inability to fully heal from the recent surgery.

      Managing Cancer Symptoms

      Additionally, your veterinarian may prescribe tramadol to ease symptoms associated with cancer in addition to conventional cancer treatment.

      If your pup is battling cancer, the last thing that you want for them is to experience even more pain. Tramadol may be an effective way to increase their serotonin levels and reduce distress.

      Treating Lameness

      Tramadol is also prescribed to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with hip dysplasia and a number of other joint disorders.

      Again, tramadol does not work to cure the underlying cause of these disorders. It merely manages the associated pain and distress that the dog may be facing.

      Nonsurgical Intervertebral Disc Disease

      Additionally, tramadol may be prescribed to treat diseases that affect the spinal cord. Conditions such as intervertebral disc disease can cause an immense amount of pain, nerve damage, and potential paralysis.

      Tramadol may provide relief. It is important that pet parents monitor these conditions closely and know to recognize whether a painkiller is providing enough relief or maybe showing side effects.

      Additionally, in less common situations, your veterinarian may prescribe tramadol to relieve:

      Tramadol Side Effects

      Like all conventional medications, tramadol can have its fair share of side effects. Studies show that most dogs tend to tolerate the medication relatively well.

      However, the following side effects may still occur in dogs with varying degrees of severity:

      dog vomiting from tramadol

      Avoiding Tramadol Side Effects

      The only real way to completely avoid the side effects of tramadol is to simply use an alternative treatment.

      However, we understand that for some, a conventional painkiller may be what they find necessary. In such cases, there are a few ways to avoid or limit the severity of several associated side effects.

      First, ensure that your veterinarian has a complete, accurate, and detailed account of your dog's medical history.

      Your veterinarian should be aware of any allergies, as well as any previous adverse reactions to a medication. Additionally, your vet should be informed of any other medications that your dog may be presently taking.

      Tramadol should not be used in conjunction with certain drugs and can cause irreversible effects if used incorrectly.

      Also, it is important for dog owners to make sure that they are following the prescribed medication exactly as directed.

      If you stop the medication too soon, this can cause the symptoms being treated to reappear, often with greater severity than before.

      Additionally, increasing the dose of tramadol without consulting with your veterinarian can be extremely harmful.

      Accidentally missing a dose of tramadol can also worsen your dog’s discomfort.

      Signs of Tramadol Overdose

      Adverse reactions aren't the only thing that pet owners must be aware of when it comes to tramadol. Overdoses also occur and can cause severe, irreversible damage.

      If you do not see immediate signs of relief, please seek proper veterinary re-evaluation, before opting to increase the dosage.

      Tramadol overdoses may also occur if the dog gets into the medicine cabinet and consumes too much of the medication.

      It is imperative that pet owners recognize the signs of overdose and seek immediate veterinary intervention.  

      • Excessive, severe vomiting
      • Lethargy and possible sedation
      • Decreased heart rate
      • Respiratory depression
      • Excessive, uncontrollable tremors
      • Seizures
      • Uncontrollable drooling
      • Agitation
      • Uncontrolled movement (Ataxia)
      • Dilated pupils
      • Loss of consciousness
      • Coma

      If you see any of these signs, call your veterinarian straight away.

      Tramadol Dosage

      It is important for pet owners to understand that tramadol is a class 4 controlled substance that requires a prescription from your veterinarian.

      As we previously mentioned, never give your dogs the tramadol dose that was intended for humans, as the dosages for dogs can vary significantly, and is typically based on the dog’s weight.

      Tramadol 50 mg Tablets

      Tramadol is available in 50 mg pills. Only your veterinarian should advise you regarding the exact dose for your dog's specific needs.

      For example, a dog experiencing chronic pain is often given a different dosage of tramadol than a dog experiencing acute pain, even if they are both the same weight.

      Additional Precautions

      We previously mentioned the importance of informing your veterinarian about all of your dog's current medications and preexisting health conditions.

      This is because tramadol may also interact with a number of medications, or potentially cause harm to dogs with certain health issues.

      Health Conditions

      Dogs with the following preexisting health conditions should not take tramadol:

      • Liver disease or liver damage
      • Kidney disease and associated damage
      • Pregnant dogs
      • Nursing dogs
      • Dogs with a history of seizures

      If your dog has had stomach or gastrointestinal issues in the past, please let your vet know.

      Medication Interactions

      Additionally, the following medications are known to have negative reactions when used with tramadol:

      • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as selegiline
      • Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) including fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline and fluvoxamine

      When Will Tramadol Start Working

      In most cases, pet owners find that tramadol begins to work within the first day of administration. However, the course of medication recommended by your vet must be completed in its entirety.

      As we previously mentioned, stopping the medication too quickly can cause adverse effects or recurrence of the signs of pain and discomfort. In the vast majority of cases, tramadol should not be used as a long-term solution.

      Once your dog shows signs of relief, if possible, it is imperative to find a more permanent solution that addresses the underlying cause of the pain.

      Other Pain Medication for Dogs

      Although this article pertains specifically to tramadol for dogs, we want to briefly mention other commonly prescribed medications for pain management known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

      What are NSAIDs

      Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly prescribed for pain relief in dogs and humans alike.

      Tramadol is not an NSAID, which some dog owners may consider an advantage, as NSAIDs are commonly associated with stomach ulcers and internal bleeding.

      what can i give my dog for pain

      What is Amantadine

      Another medication, amantadine, is often prescribed to treat chronic pain in dogs. Amantadine also has its fair share of side effects.

      Regardless of the medication that your vet prescribes, it is extremely important to be well aware of the risks involved.

      Is My Dog in Pain?

      Pet owners must understand that dogs are notorious for hiding pain. Therefore, if and when your dog begins to show signs of pain, it is imperative that you take it seriously and act accordingly.

      If your dog is limping, crying out, or struggling to perform basic activities, it's likely they are in considerable pain.

      What Can I Give My Dog for Pain?

      Considering all of the adverse effects associated with conventional pain medication, many pet parents find themselves wondering if there are any alternatives available for dogs.

      Are there any ways to truly provide pain relief in a safe way? We are happy to be able to tell you that there are! And many prove to be even more effective than prescription drugs.

      Even better - the holistic, all-natural alternatives that we are about to discuss come without any of the aforementioned side effects associated with conventional pain meds.

      CBD for Dogs

      If you're one to stay up to date with the latest and greatest in holistic wellness (which we highly recommend doing), then you've likely heard of cannabidiol (CBD).

      Derived from the hemp plant, CBD is making substantial headway in terms of how we can support healthy joint and bone function in humans and dogs alike. 

      Also, because hemp contains no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), your dog won't feel "high" or out of it.

      CBD Helps to Maintain a Normal Inflammatory Response

      CBD oil supports a healthy inflammatory response. When you trace the vast majority of ailments and diseases back to their root, you'll usually find that they all have one major thing in common: inflammation.

      Even if your dog is not presently affected by any aches or pains, we highly recommend implementing CBD oil into their diet, as it may prevent future issues.

      Joint Support CBD Soft Chews

      If your dog is presently suffering from joint stiffness due to everyday activity, we recommend the Joint Support CBD Soft Chews.

      The soft chews are packed with the highest quality CBD along with 500 mg of glucosamine.

      The soft chews:

      • May help to ease discomfort 
      • May help to maintain a normal inflammatory response
      • Enhance the body’s normal repair of connective tissues and joints
      • Supports animals with joint tenderness due to everyday activity

      Relief CBD Dog Treats

      We also recommend trying the turmeric-flavored Relief CBD Dog Treats to support a healthy inflammatory response.

      The treats may help to relieve any discomfort associated with normal daily exercise and activity. At Honest Paws, we believe that life is far too short to live with discomfort.

      Let the Relief CBD Dog Treats help. 

      Acupuncture & Massage Therapy

      Additionally, many pet parents have found that acupuncture and different massage therapies have made a world of difference for their four-legged friends.

      Both acupuncture and massage therapy work best with consistency, which may be neither ideal nor possible for some dog owners, as it proves to be a bit of a commitment.

      However, it is comforting to know that there are all-natural alternatives for pain relief in dogs that are proving to be both effective and safe.

      dog acupuncture

      Turmeric for Inflammation

      Another wonderful dietary supplement that we recommend adding to Fido's diet is turmeric. Turmeric is an all-natural anti-inflammatory from which both humans and animals can derive considerable benefits.

      As we previously mentioned, inflammation is a leading cause of a slew of conditions including:

      • Cancer
      • Arthritis
      • Joint disorders
      • Allergies
      • Kidney disease
      • Dental disease
      • Digestive disease
      • Among many others

      All of these conditions can lead to your dog experiencing an immense amount of pain and distress if the disease is not diagnosed and treated promptly. Adding turmeric to your pup's diet can serve as a way to ease and prevent inflammation.


      If you've been following along with our other articles, you know that we always stress how absolutely imperative it is to feed your dog a well-balanced diet.

      Diet can truly be a game changer in terms of your dog's health and well-being, As a pet owner, you must make sure to do all that you can to support the health of your four-legged friends through proper nutrition.

      Many experts recommend implementing a raw food diet as a means to ensure that your dog is receiving all the nutrients they need. We recommend consulting your holistic veterinarian to determine any dietary changes from which your dog may benefit.


      Additionally, we highly recommend researching the incredible benefits of glucosamine for dogs. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound that promotes the growth and repair of cartilage and synovial fluid, which both protect the joints.

      Using a glucosamine supplement provides additional support for overall joint health. Or you can check out our CBD and Glucosamine joint support chews for a double whammy!

      glucosamine for dogs


      Finally, exercise! We understand that exercise may seem like the last thing you want to implement if your dog is in pain.

      However, light movement and physical activity are necessary to build muscle and maintain overall health. Depending on your dog's level of pain, the "exercise" may start off as basic as standing up and lying down.

      Don't overdo it in the beginning. We recommend talking to your veterinarian regarding the appropriate amount of movement that will help to maintain and restore joint health.

      Tramadol for Dogs: A Final Thought

      At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your beloved four-legged friend. At Honest Paws, we are all pet lovers and dog owners. Therefore, we empathize with the heart-wrenching experience of knowing that your best friend is suffering.

      There are times when conventional drugs such as tramadol are necessary, and we certainly do not want to take away from the incredible importance and benefits of modern-day medicine.

      However, with that being said, we firmly believe that pet parents must understand the associated risks involved before beginning treatment with conventional drugs. Furthermore, knowing that there are all-natural alternatives to not only treat, but also prevent ailments is something that we can all stand behind.

      When all is said and done, we encourage you to know your options and ask questions as they arise. Knowledge is power! We sincerely hope that your dog feels better soon.


      Petal Smart, DVM

      Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.


      *This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.
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      Zyrtec for Dogs: A Word of Warning

      Zyrtec for Dogs: A Word of Warning

      Let’s face it, allergies are no fun, and we all have to deal with them to some degree. It may surprise some pet owners to learn that the itchy-eyes, irritated skin, and sneezing that are associated with allergies do not only affect humans but our furry companions as well.

      While they often manifest in different ways, allergies can affect our dogs just as much as they can affect us. However, our dogs aren’t exactly able to communicate with us about what’s going on.

      So as a dog owner, what do you do?

      Zyrtec for Dogs

      What is Zyrtec? 

      If you’re prone to seasonal allergies, you've likely heard of the over-the-counter antihistamine, Zyrtec®.

      The conventional medication is one of the second-generation antihistamines that is often prescribed for human use in coping with environmental changes that often leave us with stuffy noses and red, itchy eyes.

      One of Zyrtec's most appealing features is that it does not cause drowsiness like other antihistamines such as Benadryl.

      Although the FDA has not yet approved its use in animals, more and more vets are prescribing the drug for dogs to reduce itching and other clinical signs of allergic reactions.

      What is Cetirizine 

      Cetirizine is an antihistamine and the active ingredient in Zyrtec and several other allergy medications, including Zyrtec Allergy, Children's Zyrtec Allergy, Children's Zyrtec Hives Relief, PediaCare Children's 24-Hour Allergy, Aller-Tec, and Wal-Zyr.

      Cetirizine works by blocking a specific natural substance (histamine) that your body produces when you experience an allergic reaction.

      Because it blocks histamine, cetirizine is included among a class of medications referred to as antihistamines.

      Zyrtec for Dogs 

      If Fido is affected by various allergic reactions, your veterinarian may recommend Zyrtec.

      These allergic reactions are typically associated with allergic contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.

      Both contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis will trigger allergic reactions such as inflammation, hives, itching, and swelling.

      Signs of Allergies in Dogs 

      Just like in humans, dogs can also be allergic to nearly anything you can think of. Also similar to humans, certain allergens can have a greater effect on dogs than others.

      What Causes Dog Allergies 

      Common allergies seen in dogs include those triggered by fleas (particularly the saliva from fleas and flea bites), environmental allergens such as weeds, grass, pollen, and dust mites, as well as food allergies (including the food itself, but more specifically, food additives).

      Signs of Allergies in Dogs 

      While we may think of allergies in terms of a runny nose and watery eyes, dogs may also show allergy symptoms in those ways as well as others.

      If your pup is prone to allergies and/or is having an allergic reaction, you'll likely notice the following symptoms:

      • Skin redness
      • Skin irritation
      • Swelling
      • Excessive itching
      • Rubbing of the face and muzzle repeatedly
      • Biting of the paws or legs

        Zyrtec for Dogs

        If dog allergies are left untreated, hair loss and skin infections, including bacterial infections and yeast infections, as well as hot spots may develop.

        Additionally, if your dog has a severe allergic reaction, this can lead to hives and in extreme cases, can cause anaphylactic shock.

        Signs of anaphylactic shock can include excessive drooling, the sudden onset of diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, coma, and even death. If you’re able to check your dog’s gums, they may appear paler than normal, instead of a healthy pink. Instead of the normal warmth in their limbs, their legs and paws may also feel cold. Your vet will also be able to detect any abnormalities in your dog’s heart rate and pulse. If you believe that your dog is showing signs of anaphylactic shock, it is imperative that you seek veterinary intervention straight away, as anaphylactic shock can be life-threatening.

        Zyrtec Dosage for Dogs 

        Generally, a typical dose of Zyrtec for dogs is determined by their size. Your veterinarian will likely prescribe Zyrtec to be given once a day, orally.

        However, this is a general rule of thumb and not an exact science. For this reason, it is vital that you see your vet to determine an accurate dosage for your pet.

        Furthermore, the dosage of Zyrtec will also vary, based on what you are treating. For instance, the dosage to treat itchy skin will be different from the dose to treat an allergic reaction such as a bee sting.

        Zyrtec-D Warnings: What Pet Owners Should Know

        Perhaps the most important thing for pet owners to know if choosing to use Zyrtec is to never, ever use Zyrtec-D.

        Zyrtec-D contains the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, which can be incredibly harmful to dogs and can cause high blood pressure, seizures, and even death.

        Standard Zyrtec and generic Zyrtec contain the active ingredient cetirizine, which veterinarians deem safe when administered appropriately.

        Zyrtec for Dogs

        Zyrtec Side Effects

        Typically, Zyrtec doesn’t present many adverse side effects that are too troublesome for pet owners, especially if you are familiar with the potential side effects of other conventional medications.

        However, there is still some concern associated with the use of Zyrtec in dogs. Research shows that antihistamines only work in approximately 30% of dogs (sometimes less!). The worrisome part is that up to 25% of those dogs may experience adverse reactions.

        Additionally, antihistamines are not a cure, but more like a band-aid’, which only provides relief. While antihistamines will treat the signs, they will not cure the underlying problem, which may be something more severe than a simple seasonal allergy.

        The most common side effect of Zyrtec is sleepiness.

        However, other side effects include:

          Zyrtec for Dogs

          Furthermore, even scarier is the fact that Zyrtec can cause additional issues for dogs with kidney problems and liver problems.

          While your dog may no longer show any signs of allergies, it is entirely possible that Zyrtec may exacerbate other issues that may be much worse than itchy skin.

          Zyrtec Precautions

          As mentioned above, one of the potential side effects of Zyrtec in dogs is urine retention. Urine retention can present serious problems in a dog with kidney problems, as administration of the drug can make the pre-existing conditions much worse.

          The same potential harm exists for dogs with liver issues. Zyrtec can lead to further liver conditions and make the current situation worse than before.

          Furthermore, there haven’t been enough studies to determine whether or not the drug is safe for pregnant dogs. For that reason, we advise pet owners to steer clear from Zyrtec if your dog is pregnant.

          Additionally, nursing dogs should not be given Zyrtec, as the medication can be passed onto puppies through the mother's milk. Nursing puppies are far too young to be given conventional drugs such as Zyrtec.

          Lastly, your vet should always be aware of any other medications being given to your dog. This applies when prescribing a drug like Zyrtec or any other medication.

          It’s important for your veterinarian to be informed of everything that your dog is being given so that they can prescribe a drug that is less likely to have adverse effects when mixed with their current medical treatment.

          Dog Allergy Home Remedies 

          Thankfully, as a pet owner, you have options! There are some extremely effective and safe alternatives to Zyrtec that may support skin health and other ailments.

          In fact, the options we are about to list come with virtually no side effects.

          Take a look!

          Oatmeal Bath

          Interestingly enough, oatmeal can serve as a soothing home remedy for irritated, itchy skin.

          All you need to do is add water to the oatmeal and apply to irritated skin. Or you can fill a tub and pour the oatmeal into the water.

           Allow your pup to soak in the mixture for up to 10 minutes to relieve irritated skin.

          Coconut Oil

          You can give coconut oil to your dog to soothe irritation and even prevent some parasites. Look for coconut oil that is high in lauric acid, which makes it more effective. To use it, apply a small amount directly to your dog’s coat or simply feed it to them.

          If you choose to feed your dog coconut oil, start by feeding a small amount (¼ teaspoon for small dogs and 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon for large dogs) 1 – 2 times per day with meals.

          Because skin irritation is so common in our fur-babies, we created CBD-infused coconut oil for dogs and cats!

          Talk about a double whammy! Our coconut oil is definitely a fan-favorite.

          CBD Oil

          You can also use pure, full-spectrum CBD oil. Studies suggest that CBD oil supports skin health, particularly in animals with sensitive skin.

          Honest Paws full-spectrum CBD oil is all-natural, soy-free, non-GMO, and lab-tested. We offer three different levels of CBD oil, based on your dog's weight.

          CBD oil can be squirted straight into your pup's mouth, mixed into their food, or - if you're a fan of baking - baked into their favorite homemade treats. 

          Restore CBD Dog Treats

          If you're not a top chef who makes homemade dog treats (no judgment here), we recommend our coconut flavored Restore CBD dog treats. These strain-specific treats include a terpene (a class of organic compounds produced by plants) profile that supports healthy skin and a healthy coat. 

          These melt-in-the-mouth morsels are definitely a fan favorite.Don't Use Zyrtec for Dogs

          Zyrtec for Dogs: The Bottom Line

          At the end of the day, we know you want what’s best for your dog. They are an important, furry member of your family. So when Fido isn’t feeling quite right, it can cause some grief for you, the pet owner.

          Zyrtec may be safe for dogs at the appropriate dose. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. As a pet owner, you should always consult your vet before giving your dog a new medication. You should also learn all that you can about the medication you’re giving to your dog and its potential side effects.

          At the end of the day, allergies are no fun. However, it’s comforting to know that there are other options available, besides the conventional medications. Be informed, consult your vet, and always choose the best option for your pet.

          We hope your dog feels better soon!




          Petal Smart, DVM

          Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.


          *This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.
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