What Happens During A Veterinary Dental Cleaning?

veterinary dental exam

Dr. B performs a veterinary dental procedure.

As a responsible pet owner, you always have the best interest of your pet in mind, and you want them to remain as happy and healthy as possible.  Even though it is not necessary for animals to brush their teeth the way that humans do, a periodic dental exam and cleaning can assist your pet in avoiding very serious complications that can make them quite unhealthy.  Additionally, your pet may have cracked or broken teeth that are causing them pain and discomfort.  This is quite common due to animal’s tendencies to chew on hard toys like hooves, bones and hard rubber playthings.  A comprehensive dental examination and cleaning for your pet can provide long term benefits to their health.

What to expect from the veterinary cleaning.

The initial exam is generally an awake examination of the dog or cat’s mouth and teeth.  Sometimes this is quite difficult due to the desire of the dog or cat to avoid anything going into their mouth, so some pet’s will provide a better awake exam than others.  This exam allows the veterinarian to get a general idea of the condition of the pet’s mouth, the teeth and gums and tongue.  At this time, the pet will probably need to have blood drawn to identify any potential issues that could complicate the process, and will determine if the pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.

After this point, the pet will be anesthetized.  This is a troublesome time for many pet owners, who experience anxiety knowing that their pet is asleep.  The best advice for pet owners is to learn as much as possible about the anesthesia process before your pet is anesthetized, so that you know what to expect and in what time frames.  Anesthesia performed by a professional veterinarian under the necessary protocol is generally very safe.  There will also be a local anesthetic administered into the pet’s mouth so that the animal will experience less pain and improve the safety of the procedure by allowing a quicker recovery time.  While the pet is under anesthesia and the dental cleaning is going on, they are not experiencing any pain.  Any pain that is encountered by the pet will be as a result of procedures that were necessary during the cleaning, and can last several hours after the pet is awake.

During the dental procedure, radio graphs (x-rays) will be taken so as to identify any issues below the gum lines.  These images help identify issues that are not visually apparent, like broken teeth or dead roots, periodontal disease or infections.  A full cleaning much like the ones that people get is next.  The veterinary dentist will clean the pet’t teeth both above the gum line and below the gum line using special dental instruments that will remove tartar and plaque.  The dentist then professionally scales and polishes any part of the pet’s teeth that is visible, and repairs any damaged teeth that need repair.  There may also need to be the removal of teeth that are damaged beyond the point of repair.

After the animal has recovered and is awake, they can generally go home after a short observation period.  In most cases they can eat and drink as normal upon release, but the veterinary dentist will provide a full report of recommendations that are specific for your pet.  Follow these instructions carefully so as to reduce any pain or discomfort that your pet might feel, and prepare to keep an eye on your pet for upwards of a full day as they will possibly be very disoriented after the anesthesia.  They may whimper, cry and act in a way that is strange as they are unsure what is going on, and are confused.  This is normal, and resting in a comfortable environment should return your pet to normal within a short period.

 

What To Do If Your Dog Is In A Fight, The Wheelbarrow Technique

wheelbarrowAll dog owners who frequent areas where there are other dogs present will observe a dog fight or have their dog in a fight sooner or later.  Even the most passive dogs will be attacked from time to time by other dogs, either while they are being walked or while they are loose in a dog park or another area.  Additionally, your dog coming into contact with other dogs that are not leashed, are running loose or are not friendly can pose serious threats to your dog, who might be completely innocent of instigating a fight but finds themselves being attacked and is attempting to defend themselves.  No matter what the reason, a dogfight is a very traumatic and scary situation for human beings, as the chaos of the situation or the horrible vision of seeing your pet fighting will generally be very upsetting.  In addition to the emotional trauma of seeing your pet in a fight, dogs that are engaged are in defense or attack mode, and will usually not be able to differentiate between their owners and the attacker.  This means that when you try to break up a dogfight you may be bitten by the other dog, or potentially even be bitten by your own dog.

The best advice if you find yourself witnessing a dogfight is to not get directly involved, as the potential to be bitten is far too great.  However, if one of the fighting dogs is your pet, most people’s natural reaction is to attempt to intervene in order to save their dog.  While this does put you in danger, having an understanding on how to effectively break up the fight while minimizing your potential to be bitten is crucial.  The following steps should be memorized by dog owners, so that they are automatic and will be second-nature if your dog gets into a fight:

  1. Stay calm.  Do not attempt to grab the attacking dog’s mouth to stop them from biting your dog.  If you do, chances are quite high that you will be bitten yourself.  Additionally, if you panic and attempt to grab at your own dog, you may be bitten by your own pet.
  2. Douse the dogs with water.  If there is a water bucket or a hose nearby, spray the dogs with water.  This will sometimes break up the fight while keeping you at a safe distance.
  3. Do not try to pick your dog up.  If you pick up your dog when they are being attacked by another dog, the chances are the attacker will begin jumping on you to attempt to bite your dog.  You will find yourself being attacked by the dog that was attacking yours.  If you do find yourself in this situation and the attacker is attempting to jump onto you or bite you, sharply thrust your knee into the attacker’s chest or face.  Do not attempt to push the attacking dog away with your hands or you will probably be bitten.
  4. Apply the “wheelbarrow technique.” This is a technique of disrupting the dog’s balance by grabbing them just in front of their hind legs and lifting them up.  By placing all of the dog’s weight onto their front legs, their balance will be disrupted and they will stop attacking.  The problem is that if you are alone and another person is not present to lift up the other dog in a wheelbarrow technique, you only disable the defense of your own dog.  If you are able to enlist the help of another human, instruct them to lift up the hind-quarters of the other dog to separate them.  If there are no other humans, use the leash from your own pet to loop around the attacker’s hind quarters and lift the dog using it.

Dogfights happen very quickly, and without much that can be recognized by humans as a “signal” that will prepare you for a fight.  The best bet is to be as prepared as possible in the even that a fight could happen at any time, and understand what to do if it does.  To reiterate, the safest strategy is to not get involved as you run a very great risk of being bitten, but if you must get involved, use the “wheelbarrow technique” to diffuse the situation as much as possible.

Help! My pet got stung by a scorpion!

ScorpionLiving in Las Vegas, we have a great number of insects that are only found in desert climates, and unfortunately many of these insects have bites and stings that can be quite painful, if not deadly to pets and humans alike.  Without going in to a list of insects that are common to the Las Vegas valley that will frequently sting or bite pets who interrupt them, we will discuss a few of the most common.   As expansion to areas of Las Vegas that have remained as an un-inhabited desert for many years happens, we find many insect populations coming into close contact with us every day, even though many people can claim to have never even seen one of these types of insects previous to moving to a specific area of Las Vegas.  We will be discussing scorpion stings, and what to do if your pet is stung by a scorpion.

Animal Reactions to Scorpion Stings

In states such as Arizona, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, scorpions are quite common and are often seen by humans either hiding in shadows or sometimes right out in the open.  All types of scorpions have venom in their sting, but the severity of the reaction that the pet will have to the sting has to do with the concentration of the venom, and the amount delivered by the sting.  One of the most poisonous types of scorpions are the Arizona bark scorpion, the DeathStalker scorpion, and the fat-tailed scorpion.  There are known cases where scorpion stings can kill a human being within minutes, so it cannot be stressed enough that if either you, a family member or your pet encounters a scorpion to avoid it.  If you or your pet is stung, it is crucial to get to a hospital or animal hospital as soon as possible in order to be examined by a doctor familiar with scorpion stings.  Some can kill an average-sized human being in just a few minutes. So what should you do if your dog or cat is stung by a scorpion that is common in Las Vegas, which is also one of the most poisonous (the Arizona Bark scorpion?)

If your pet gets stung by a bark scorpion, and you have found the insect which stung the pet (so that you can know for sure that it is a bark scorpion) you should act quickly to get your pet to the veterinarian, but do not panic as the typical reaction to the scorpion bite on an animal is comparable to the sting of a bee.  They will generally be exhibiting a great deal of pain, potentially yelping and crying, and possibly holding their injured paw in the air.  Generally within a 24 hour period, the animal will fully recover from the sting and no longer be feeling pain, however if the sting occurs in the mouth of the animal (actually very common as pets are curious of insects crawling on the ground and will attempt to eat them or bite them) the venom can have a more serious effect.  Deaths have occurred within animals being stung by bark scorpions in the mouth or nose, so we cannot reiterate that if you believe your pet has been stung to get them to an animal hospital immediately.

When to Bring Your Pet to the Vet

If your pet is exhibiting paralysis, difficulty breathing, swelling or skin, drooling or collapse,  get them to a veterinarian immediately.  Since bark scorpions are typically nocturnal, many stings that occur on animals happen at night after your veterinarian is closed.  For this reason we suggest that you always know the route to the nearest 24 hour animal hospital, along with their phone number.  Because the bark scorpion packs so much venom into it’s stings, they are a serious concern even in cases where the animal is only showing symptoms of pain or discomfort.  Allergic reaction is also a potential complication which can have very serious consequences.   You will usually notice your pet acting unusual within 10 to 15 minutes after the stinging incident, so the venom is already inside of your pet and time should not be wasted. Without medical intervention, there is a chance that your pet will die.

First Aid for Scorpion Stings

For stings by not-so-venomous scorpions, there are first aid measures that you can take to alleviate pain and swelling and to promote healing and recovery. Here are a few tips.

1. Apply a thick paste made from baking soda and water.

This blend is a popular home remedy for scorpion stings which also work well when applied onto affected animals. Make sure to apply the paste on the skin to increase effectiveness. Part the fur to get the mixture onto the affected site.

2. Restrict your dog’s or cat’s movements.

Any form of movement can increase the heart rate and circulation, which then further spreads the injected venom into the body more quickly. Therefore, encourage your pet to stay put. Put it in a container, such as a carrier, so that it won’t be able to move around a lot.

3. Place a cone collar on your pet.

Animals like to nip or lick their injuries. But this will only encourage the venom to spread faster. In addition, gnawing on an injured site could result in infection.

Animals frequently bite or lick an area that is injured.  This is an action that will cause the venom to spread more quickly and possibly cause an infection of the area.  Do not allow your pet to bite or lick the sting by placing a cone collar on their neck.  It is a good idea to have a cone collar in your home if you live in an area that has scorpions or other venomous insects.

Is pool chlorine safe for dogs?

dog-dive-photoAs the summer temperatures get hotter (especially in extremely hot areas like Las Vegas) it is common for families to consider allowing their dog to jump into the pool with them in order to cool off.  One of the most common questions that is asked of veterinarians and animal hospitals during the summer months will be something like “Is the chlorine in my pool safe for my dog to swim in or drink?”

The chlorine in your pool is safe for your dog to swim in, just as much as it is safe for you to swim in, however there are several things that you must watch out for when your dog jumps in the pool.  Dogs tend to ingest more of the water they are swimming in than humans typically do, as they do not understand that the water is not good for them to drink.  If your dog drinks too much water from the pool, the result could be salt poisoning or electrolyte imbalance, or the chlorine may upset their stomach.  In order to prevent your dog from ingesting too much chlorinated water, make sure you provide plenty of fresh water to them and show them where it is.  Typically, dogs will prefer to drink the fresh water over the chlorinated water as it tastes better, however if they are hot and cannot find any alternative they will drink the chlorinated water to reduce their thirst.  It is important to make sure they can find fresh water to drink.

Additionally, the chlorine in the pool water might cause irritations to your dog’s skin or eyes.  Make it a habit to rinse your dog off in the shower or by a garden hose providing fresh water after they are done swimming.  This will reduce the chances of their skin or eyes being irritated by the chlorine or pool chemicals.  If you notice your dog itching or scratching after they have gone swimming, it might be an indication that the chlorinated water is irritating their skin.  Bathing your dog in fresh water will reduce the irritation, but in the case of ongoing irritations or any behavior that is unusual after swimming it could be that your dog is allergic to the chemicals in the water.  If you notice anything that seems unusual about your dog’s appearance or behavior after swimming contact your veterinarian or animal hospital immediately.

Lastly, remember that not all dogs know how to swim.  It is a common belief that any dog will begin to swim if put into the water, but dogs that have never been exposed to deep water may panic and thrash about instead of swimming.  Also, many dogs that have had injuries or are older may not be able to swim enough to keep their head above the water.  Introduce your dog to the water slowly and carefully, supporting their body during the process in order to allow them to get accustomed to the water and how to swim.  Throwing your dog into the water could result in drowning.

As a final note, if you have a pool and your dog has never been in it, it is a good idea to spend some time putting your dog slowly into the pool to make sure they know how to swim if they were to fall in when alone.  Spend the time to support their body and allow them to get used to swimming, and show them how to find the shallow end and exit the pool.  A little bit of time spent training your dog to swim can save his or her life.

How To Choose An Animal Hospital

pethelthanimalhospitalThere are many different things to consider when you are choosing an animal hospital or veterinarian for your new pet.  Several aspects of the clinic are probably more important to you than others, as you can assume that as long as the clinic has a good reputation (look through Yelp and Google+ reviews, or ask your friends) that they are going to be able to provide the basic veterinary services that are found at almost any clinic.  The most important aspect to consider for most people is the location, and the distance to the hospital from your home.  The main reason that this is so important is that if the location is too far away, you will probably have more of a tendency to make less appointments as it is more difficult to arrange a convenient time.  Regular visits to the veterinarian for checkups, vaccinations and treatments are crucial to the well being and health of your pet, so choosing a hospital that is convenient to your home will probably allow you to arrange for more regular visitations.  Another important aspect to remember to ask when you are looking at veterinarians is the hours they keep, and what you should do if there is an emergency either after the hours they are open or if it is something they can handle.  Many veterinary clinics are limited in the scope of work they can handle in emergency situations when time is crucial, so finding out after you bring your emergency case into the location that they are not equipped to handle the situation is not the best thing to do.  When you are interviewing your potential new veterinarian, ask what hours they are open and where they suggest you go in case of an after hours emergency.  Make a special note of the location they suggest, and keep the directions and hours of that location handy at all times.  Emergencies are stressful, and in an emergency situation you need to be as prepared as possible.  Ask your veterinarian what they suggest in an emergency like if your dog was hit by a car.  Are they equipped to handle that situation during their office hours? Do they have a surgery center and a veterinarian on staff who can perform emergency surgery?  Ask them if you should bring your cat to them if the pet stops breathing, falls down or has an allergic reaction.  Ask if they can handle an emergency poisoning if your puppy eats fertilizer from your yard.  Ask if they are equipped to handle these situations at any time, or if they are simply to be considered only for non-emergency situations.

Ask your potential animal hospital if you can tour their facilities, and get a sense as far as the cleanliness and professionalism of the staff.  Does the facility look like a professional animal hospital or does it look like an unprofessional office?  Does the clinic have modern looking equipment and a room where they can do surgery or dental work? If you want to be able to take your pet to a single location to have all of these types of treatments done, then you have to make sure that your potential choice can perform these important services.  If they cannot, you will have to go to a different location to get that work done.

Lastly, use your gut feelings to see if you like the veterinarian and the staff of the animal hospital.  Keep in mind that you are choosing a doctor that you are putting in charge of making decisions for your pet with regards to their health.  Do you get a good feeling from the staff?  Are they pleasant or are you getting the feeling that you do not like them?  Are they on top of appointments or do you feel like you are being forgotten about?  Use all of these aspects to make your choice of animal hospital, and both you and your pet will benefit from your decision.

See Your Veterinarian Regularly

A common question that is asked is “how often should I take my dog or cat to the veterinarian?” The answer to this question relies on several factors including your pet’s age and general state of overall health, but for the most part it is determined by the age of your pet.  Pet Health Hospital recommends “ongoing wellness exams” which are basically regular checkups of your pet’s condition, and during which point your veterinarian will be looking for specific things that are commonly known to effect a pet of the breed and age.  While these types of exams are different than a visit to the veterinarian when your pet is showing some symptom of a problem, the point of a wellness exam is to potentially diagnose future issues before they manifest themselves into conditions that are obvious to the common person.  Animals are quite good at masking health issues and hiding pain, as is their instinct due to an injured animal in the wild being easier prey than a healthy animal.  Your dog or cat will only show visual symptoms of a potential condition once it is well into the point of being a major problem.  Our specialized wellness programs look for the things that veterinary science has learned over the years are potential problems with your pet’s breed, in an attempt to avoid those issues.  Surgeries and medical treatments can be very expensive, and our philosophy is that it is worth a small price and a small inconvenience on a regular basis in order to potentially avoid a major expense and potentially deadly health situation.  We believe that the veterinary practice should be one of keeping animals healthy as well as treating them once they are sick.

Regular wellness exams should be done once every month during puppyhood or kittenhood up until about a year old.  After a year then regular checkups should be at least once per year and older animals should be checked at least every six months.  The determining factors that decide if your pet qualifies as “adult” or “senior” really depends on the breed as each type of pet has a different lifespan and age cycle.  Keeping with regular checkups can help our veterinarians to keep your pet healthier, which can lead to a longer and happier life.

If your pet is acting in a way that is out of the ordinary, or showing any symptoms of pain or distress like excessive panting, excessive drinking, not eating or drinking or acting overly lethargic, it is best to schedule an appointment immediately instead of waiting for your next wellness exam.  Distress of any kind in an animal is a symptom that there is something wrong that cannot wait even another day.

Pt Health Hospital offers free programs that assist pet parents in understanding the wellness exam schedules that would be most beneficial to their pets.  Contact our staff to learn more information, and always remember that a little bit of inconvenience to have your pet checked out regularly can avoid larger issues and expenses down the road.

How To Trim Dog Nails

nail-diagramThe procedure for trimming your dog’s nails is very simple, but will generally require two people in order to not harm the dog by potentially cutting the nail too short and causing bleeding.  One person will need to hold the dog to prevent them from running away, and the other person will use a pet nail clipper in one hand and hold the dog’s paw with the other hand.  You should hold the paw in your hand and grip the toes with your fingers, allowing you to have control if the dog flinches or pulls their paw away.  The process is very scary for many dogs, so you should expect them to squirm around and attempt to pull away.  The pressure caused by the clipper will also frighten the dog, which will cause them to jerk when you clip.  Because of this, it is best to set the clipper to exactly the position you want to clip on the nail, and then clip quickly.

The position that you are going to want to clip is roughly 45 degrees angled from the front of the pad, meaning that the clipping will angle closer to the pad on the bottom and further away on the top, however this is going to be very slight so it is best to simply try to cut the nail flush with the area that will contact the ground when the dog is walking.   The most important thing to remember when clipping your dog’s nails is to not clip too far, making sure that you clip slowly closer until the black spot of the quick begins to appear.  The quick of the dog’s nail will get longer if your dog does not have regular clippings to keep them short, so pay close attention that you do not clip too far up the dog’s nail, or you will cause bleeding and pain.  Clip until you see the black spot of the quick beginning to appear, and no further.  If you do cut too far and your dog’s nail begins to bleed, run the nail across a bar of soap in order to plug the wound and stop the bleeding.  There are also several powders available that will stop bleeding, ask your veterinarian for their suggestions as far as which to use.

Below you will find a video of how to clip your dog’s nails, provided by Dr. B on one of our patients here in Las Vegas.

 

Veterinarian Advice: Why It Is Important To Trim Your Pet’s Nails

Veterinarian adviceWhen your pet is walking on hard surfaces, do you notice the clicking of their nails against the ground? If so, there is a good possibility that their nails are too long and are in need of trimming. Most veterinarians will mention the need for regular nail trimmings to pet owners quite often, but due to the difficulties involved in trimming their own pet’s nails and the time involved in taking their pet to the veterinarian or pet groomer just for a nail trim, many people will begin to ignore the nails over time, allowing them to grow to lengths that negatively impact an animal’s wellbeing, and overall health. It is quite important to keep your pet’s nails trimmed as short as possible (without causing them pain) and in this article we will discuss why it is so important to keep on top of those regular pet nail trims, whether you do it, your veterinarian does it, or a pet groomer has the task.

Why your dog needs regular nail trims.

The clicking sound that you hear when your dog is walking over your wood or time floors of your home is doing far more damage than you realize. When you mention damage that is done by untrimmed dog nails, most people immediately think of scratches on their expensive wood flooring, This is not the most potentially damaging and costly aspect of nail maintenance, and most people are not considering at all the less obvious damage to your dog’s body. Untrimmed nails will often get caught on carpet fibers and other things in your home, potentially tearing the nail from the bed and resulting in a costly and painful trip to the veterinary emergency room. In addition to the immediate potential damage, your dog may actually develop arthritis over time due to the long nails pushing toe bones into un-natural positions. Arthritis and ongoing pain management is costly due to the regular medications that must be administered over time as the dog ages, and there is no cure that will eliminate the problem. Arthritis can be managed with pain medicines but cannot be completely stopped. The growth patterns of dog’s toenails is in a curved shape, meaning that if left completely untrimmed they will curve under the dog’s paws and begin to dig into the skin, causing ongoing pain as they walk. The dew claw is especially prone to this type of problem, becoming ingrown quite easily if left without trimming. Anyone who has ever had an ingrown toenail understands the kind of pain this will cause. Your dog has the same amount of feeling in their paws that you have in your feet and toes. Ingrown toenails hurt them as much as they hurt you. Even worse than this is the fact that dogs actually walk on their toes, and when their toes hurt due to long toenails they begin to compensate by attempting to take weight off them and distribute it to the backs of their paws. This is very much like attempting to walk on your heels all day because you are wearing shoes that are too short, and will usually result in intense backaches, sore muscles and joints, and eventual arthritis over time.

When a dog has longer nails, they are quite prone to ongoing injuries around your home due to being caught on things that your toenails are not. Imagine if your toenails grew in a way the made them hit the floor with every step you took, and they were constantly getting snagged on carpets and other loose fabrics. When you pull your foot away and the nail is caught, the outer enamel of the nail can tear away from the other tissue, exposing the inside of the nail. This is known as the “quick,” which is made up of a fleshy nerve and tissue growing outward from the bone. Keratin surrounds the quick and forms the claw and nail, and the quick is easily injured if is deprived of keratin for any period of time. Infections can form quite quickly and spread to your dog’s foot and blood. Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed short helps to reduce these potential injuries and infections.

Your cat needs regular nail trimming.

Many cat owners do not trim their cat’s nails, even though their veterinarian suggests it. This is because it can be quite difficult to trim your cat’s nails on your own, and additionally people believe that cats maintain their own nails through scratching. This is actually an in correct assumption, and the idea that your cat is scratching things around your home in order to either sharpen their claws or to file their nails down is wrong. Scratching is an instinctual behavior on your cat’s part, and can be quite destructive to your furniture if enough scratching posts and items are not provided. Scratching things around your home is actually your cat marking their territory, due to the fact that they have scent pads in their feet.

The scratching of furniture by pet cats is so destructive in some cases that owners choose to declaw their cats, either as a kitten or after the behaviors starts. This surgery leaves a cat completely defenseless if they are caught outside or are in any type of altercation with another animal. The practice is actually illegal in Europe, and many in the United States want to make it illegal here as well. The solution to this issue is to reduce the cat’s ability to damage furniture by scratching by keeping their nails trimmed short. This will reduce their urge to claw at furniture and curtains, and will also potentially avoid nail damage that can come from getting caught on carpets, screens and loose items. Your cat’s instinct is to pull their foot away if they feel that their toe is caught, which cn result in a painful and costly veterinarian emergency visit.

Rabbits, birds and small animals also need nail trimming

Most people do not realize that birds need to have their nails trimmed, but any veterinarian who specializes in birds or other exotic animals will tell you that if allowed to grow too long, bird can become handicapped by falling from perches. Long nails in birds interferes significantly with a bird’s ability to grasp a perch effectively, and falling from the perch can cause serious injury. In addition, birds who have nails that have been allowed to grow too long and gnarled can easily catch the nail on carpets and loose materials just like dogs and cats, injuring the nail and causing pain and infection if they attempt to pull it away.

Rabbits, guinea pigs and other exotic small pets also need regular mail trimming, just like their larger counterparts, to prevent injuries both to themselves and their owners.

Most pets need regular nail trimming to prevent potential injury, pain and potentially crippling arthritis and joint damage later in life. No matter what kind of pet you own, it makes sense to make nail trimming a regular part of your pet care. It is best to trim your pet’s nails every two weeks of so, either by doing it yourself at home with a nail trimming device you can easily purchase from your local pet store, or by a visit to your veterinarian who will easily take care of the procedure. The cost of regular nail trimming at a local veterinarian will vary from clinic to clinic, usually running from $8 to $15. This is a small price to pay when you consider the large expenses associated with injury or pain management that will accompany a pet that has been neglected in this area. Contact Pet Health Hospital today to arrange your routine nail trimmings for your best friend

How Much Coconut Oil Should I Put In My Pet’s Food?

shutterstock_150549749There is no doubting the positive health benefits of coconut oil for both pets and for humans, and the benefits themselves can be seen in other articles we have provided on coconut oil, but one question that seems unclear for many people is how to use the coconut oil and how much coconut oil should you feed to your pet? This is a pretty easy question to answer, as the general rules for using coconut oil in pet’s food goes by body weight and metabolism.  One thing that is very important to consider, however, is getting your pet used to eating the coconut oil in their food.  Trying to put a maximum amount into your pet’s food without getting them used to eating it can cause them to feel sick, and potentially get diarrhea or vomiting.  For this reason, you will want to make sure that you add the coconut oil to your pet’s food in gradually increasing amounts, over the course of about two weeks.  Start with a small amount and work your way up, feeding it to them by mixing it into their regular food each time they eat.  The following are the amounts you should feed to your pet:

Dogs:

Large dogs and medium-sized dogs should start by getting about 1 teaspoon of coconut oil mixed directly into their food when they eat.  Increase this amount gradually for the next two weeks to get them used to it, eventually getting to the full amount of 1-2 full tablespoons per day.  If your pet eats twice per day or more, simply divide the amounts equally with each serving of food so that they are getting 1-2 full tablespoons in a 24 hour period.

Small dogs will get about half the amounts as larger dogs.  This means starting with 1/2-1 teaspoon of coconut oil and increasing that daily amount over a 2 week period until you are finally serving them 1 full tablespoon each 24 hours.

Cats:

Adult cats should start with 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil mixed into daily food and increasing over the course of 2 weeds until you reach the maximum amount of 1-3 teaspoons in a 24 hour period.

Kittens should start with 1/4 teaspoon of coconut oil each day and gradually increase that amount over a 2 week period of time to 1 teaspoon in a 24 hour period.

 

An additional use of coconut oil in dogs is dabbing a small amount on their nose in order to keep “nose crust” down in some breeds.  You may notice a development on your dog’s nose of a crusty, scab-like substance that does not come off very easily.  This is a scaley growth that is sometimes made worse by food getting stuck  as well.  It will usually hurt to try and remove this by scrubbing your dog’s nose, so it is best to soften it over time by dabbing a small amount of coconut oil directly on the crusty surface each day until it falls off naturally.  Dogs love the taste of coconut oil, so they will lick the area clean!

 

 

Why your dog kicks his back legs when you are scratching his sides or belly.

why do dogs scratch during a belly rubEveryone who has ever owned a dog is familiar with it, and yet every time your dog does it you still laugh.  When you scratch or rub your dog’s sides or belly, you will hit certain spots that make his or her back legs start kicking.  It seems so comical to watch your dog kicking their hind legs like crazy while you give them a belly rub, but did you know that there is a scientific reason that it happens? It is an involuntary reflex that is built into their instincts, just like it is your involuntary reflex to pull you hand away from a flame as soon as pain starts.  Your dog’s reflex is based upon self-preservation, just like yours is.

When your dog kicks their back legs during a belly rub, it is because you are triggering their brain to react to remove the source of the tickling sensation, because in nature this may be a tick, a flea or a dangerous parasite.  Veterinarian opinions on the reflex have been published in magazines like Popular Science, where noted veterinarians attribute the reflex to the same kinds of triggers that cause humans to pull their hand away from pain, even before they realize it.  If a person’s brain was to wait until the thought process realized that something is painful and potentially dangerous, then the damage has already been done.  Brains are wired to react even before the conscious mind realizes what is going on in certain dangerous situations, just like your eyes automatically closing when you hear a loud noise.  In dogs, the tickling sensation triggers their reaction to remove the source of the tickling, because it is usually something trying to harm the animal.

Many veterinarians use the scratch reflex to test for neurological issues in dogs, as when they stop reacting in this way it may illustrate neurological damage.  Very much in the same way that your doctor tests your reflexes using a rubber hammer on your knee, your veterinarian may scratch your dog’s sides or belly during an exam, looking for the kicking reaction.

So now you know.