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Dog Allergies and Natural Solutions

French bulldog running outside

Having a dog with allergies can be confusing and knowing what to do about it can be even more confusing. Dogs can develop different types of allergies including environmental allergies, food allergies, and flea allergies. So, what are allergies anyway? How can you tell if your dog has allergies? And finally, what can you do about it? This last question is what I hear the most and we will get to that. But first, let’s discuss what allergies are and how to tell if your dog has allergies.

What are allergies?

Dogs, not unlike humans, have this amazing system of cells and proteins called the Immune System. The immune system is a complex system that is very efficient at fighting off infections and diseases. Immune system cells are continuously searching for foreign invaders. Once these invaders are recognized, the immune response kicks in. Without this immune response, bacteria and virus’ would wreak havoc. Sometimes, the immune system incorrectly identifies an object as a foreign invader. And, this is where we get allergies. Here is a common example: Pollen gets into your system, your immune system cells recognize it (mistakenly) as foreign invading germs, and the fight starts! So, what does this look like?

How Can You Tell if a Dog Has Allergies?

Just as we can have differing responses to allergies, so can dogs. The symptoms can include itchy paws, red irritated and itchy ears, hives, swelling, red irritated skin, skin infections, ear infections, and loss of fur. Allergies can even cause diarrhea and vomiting in dogs. Just as you get an itch from time to time, so do dogs. Just because a dog itches here and there does not necessarily indicate they have allergies. However, if the itching is incessant and accompanied by other symptoms such as redness and ear infections, you most likely have a dog suffering from allergies. So, the big question is: What can you do about it?

What Can You Give a Dog with Allergies?

The way in which you treat allergies in dogs is highly dependent on the severity of the allergies. I am all about the natural paths to solutions so I would personally start with the natural route. I would start by bathing your pup with Itchy Dog Shampoo and providing them with a Skin & Coast supplement daily. If your dog has redness and particularly itchy areas, I highly suggest using this Skin Soother. These are the products I use for my dogs, and they work wonderfully. Before starting this regime, I gave my pups Benadryl every night before bed. This also worked for me. However, as I mentioned, I prefer the natural route, so I changed it up. If the natural route does not work from you, it may mean that your pups allergies are just a little more pronounced. If you have been attempting the natural route for over a week and see no change, try the Benadryl route. I used the grape flavored children’s Benadryl. Each chewable tablet is 12.5 mg. While they state you can give 1 mg per pound of body weight, one tablet worked for my pups. Of course, if it is not sufficient for yours, you can up the dose to a max of 1 mg per pound so if they weigh 25 pounds, 2 tablets would work. If the Benadryl does not work, you may have to go through your veterinarian and your dog may need to get Cytopoint injections or Apoquel tablets. In my opinion, Cytopoint and Apoquel should be your last resort options as there have been adverse reactions reported with these allergy medications. Additionally, there are age and weight requirements when administering these drugs. In most cases, the natural route works, and your pups will thank you for it!

If you have natural options that have worked for you, feel free to share! Knowledge is Power!

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The Health Benefits of Spirulina

Three French Bulldogs by the river

Have you heard about Spirulina? Do you know what it is? Do you know the many benefits that come from Spirulina which has been proclaimed a “super food”? If not, keep reading as I’m going to cover what Spirulina is along with its plethora of health benefits not only to humans but to dogs.

What is Spirulina?

Spirulina is a blue-green algae which can be found free floating in many fresh and saltwater systems. At first mention, Spirulina may not seem all that impressive. However, once you understand how it works and the plethora of vitamins and minerals it provides, it becomes apparent how special this alga really is. Let us start with what Spirulina provides. Spirulina provides several vitamins such as Vitamin A which is important for eye health and healthy immune systems. Spirulina is also a great source of Vitamin B. Vitamin B supports healthy cells and let’s face it, that’s pretty darn important. Every part of the body is made up of cells including but certainly not limited to our brains, our blood, and our nerves. Spirulina also contains Vitamin E which is an important antioxidant protecting tissues in the body. Tissues also make up organs and vitamin E is important for the proper functioning of organs. In addition to Vitamins A, B and E, Spirulina also contains several minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron.

Health Benefits of Spirulina for Humans

As you may have already deduced, Spirulina has many health benefits due to the vast array of vitamins and minerals it contains. First and foremost, it supports healthy cells. If our cells are healthy, we are healthy and conversely if our cells are not healthy, we are not healthy. Spirulina aids in the regulation of metabolism which is of course important for converting our food into the energy we need. Spirulina protects the tissues in your body. There are different types of tissues in the body all of which are important and carry out functions such as body movement and organ protection. Spirulina supports a healthy immune system in a variety of ways and is said to contain anti-cancer properties. It supports healthy bones and teeth. It supports healthy blood vessels and aids in keeping blood pressure in a normal range. It aids in muscle function and increases oxygen and energy. As you can see, there are many health benefits for humans from Spirulina, but what about our canine companions? Does it help them in the same manner?

Health Benefits of Spirulina for Dogs          

Spirulina is not only proclaimed to be a superfood for humans, but also a superfood for dogs. Just as it supports a healthy immune system in humans, it also supports a healthy immune system in dogs. The antioxidants present in Spirulina provide an anti-inflammatory response. Due to the immune system aid and anti-inflammatory responses, Spirulina is said to be helpful for dogs with allergies providing allergy relief. In addition to its main benefit to dogs of supporting a healthy immune system, Spirulina is good for digestion, supports organ health, and removes toxins from the body. Spirulina supports brain function, nervous system function, and aids in creating healthy skin and coat. Last, but certainly not least, Spirulina can be beneficial to dogs with heart disease. Heart disease in dogs is becoming more prevalent so any help in this area is more than welcome.

If you did not already know the MANY benefits of Spirulina, now you do! Why not try these Minty Breath Treats that also contain…. you guessed it….. SPIRULINA!!

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The Ugly Truth About Mange

The Ugly Truth about Mange in Dogs

Mange is an unsightly and extremely uncomfortable condition for your dog. Mange can be highly contagious not only to other dogs, but also to humans. Yes, you can get mange from your dog! So, what is mange? What do the symptoms look like? How do you cure it? Are there any natural remedies? Read on for answers to these questions.

What is Mange?

Mange is a type of skin disease caused by microscopic parasites called mites which burrow into the skin and hair follicles. There are two types of mange named for the species of mite causing the condition. Demodectic Mange is caused by the mite Demodex canis and often occurs in dogs with a compromised immune system. The compromised immune system of the dog allows for the rapid spread of the mites. Sarcoptic Mange is caused by the mite Sarcoptes Scabiei (also known as scabies). Remember me saying you can get mange? Well, Sarcaoptic Mange is the type that is highly contagious to dogs and the type that can be contracted by humans. Sarcaoptic mange occurs in healthy animals. In dogs, we tend to call it mange, while in humans, we tend to call it scabies. These mites are spread through contact so it’s important to thoroughly clean any area the dog has come into contact with.

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What are the Symptoms of Mange?

The most obvious signs of mange are itching and hair loss. Intense and frequent itching may cause bleeding and scabbing. Intense rashes on a dog’s underside are also an indication of mange. Additionally, you may be able to observe raised bumps or blisters caused by mites burrowing into the skin. The best way to know for sure if your dog has mange is to have your veterinarian conduct a skin scrape and test for mites.

How do you cure mange on a Dog?

The first step in managing mange is getting rid of the mites that are causing the problem in the first place. In the case of Demodectic Mange, it is also important to determine to underlying causes that led to the case of mange. Your veterinarian may prescribe medication to kill the mites and their eggs. Hair clippings and topical ointments to soothe the itchy irritated skin may be required. It is important to keep your dog away from other pets you have in the household and clean all areas he or she has encountered. If you are dealing with Sarcoptic Mange, be sure to handle your dog with care and be sure to wear gloves.

What is a natural cure for mange?

While it is always best to use the medication prescribed by the veterinarian, there are a couple of things you can do at home to help relieve your dog’s extreme itchiness. Itchy Dog shampoo is an amazingly effective shampoo alleviating the extreme itchiness experienced by your pup. Itchy Dog shampoo works best when used with this Skin Soother which is antibacterial, antifungal, and has anti-inflammatory properties. Skin Soother heals, soothes, and nourishes even the most stubborn skin conditions using all natural ingredients.

A home remedy you could use is Apple Cider Vinegar. A small amount of Apple Cider Vinegar may be added to your dog’s food to balance their PH levels to fight off the mites.

If you are looking for a natural remedy to ensure your dog does not acquire mites in the first place, consider trying Flea Free. Flea free is an all-natural liquid supplement that prevents fleas, ticks, biting flies, mosquitoes, and mites using all-natural ingredients. Prevention is key!

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Surgery and Anesthesia Protocols for French Bulldogs

I must admit that as I am writing this, I am worried about my little boy. I know he is fine. He is eating, drinking, and acting himself. Nevertheless, as a frenchie mama, I cannot help but worry about him. You see, even though he is acting normal, he is obviously in pain. He yelps when he goes to the bathroom and he bleeds a bit from one of his incisions. I have already brought him back to the vet, they monitored him for three hours, and all is good. They noted he is swollen and that is to be expected. What did he have surgery for in the first place you ask?

It all started during a routine tail pocket cleaning. I have been diligent about cleaning Dozer’s tail pocket on a regular basis. Approximately one month ago, he started growling at me when I would clean it. If you know Dozer and his sweet disposition, you know this is very uncharacteristic of him. I knew something must be wrong, but I gave it a couple of days. After a couple days of him growling at me every time I attempted to clean the tail pocket, I called my veterinarian and made an appointment. They prescribed an anti-inflammatory and antibiotics. After a few days of medication, he was still extremely uncomfortable and still growling when I attempted to clean his tail pocket, so my veterinarian prescribed another medication. Still, there was no improvement. During the initial appointment, they examined his tail and noticed that it was growing into him and thought this may be the culprit. Consequently, they x-rayed the tail and discovered malformations in the vertebrae. However, they were trying to avoid surgery if possible. Since the medication was not working after several more days, they asked me in for another consult to discuss surgery. During the consult, I was informed that surgery was necessary, and the vet was confident the surgery would be successful, so we set it up for the following week.

Finding A Good Veterinarian

The funny thing about this impending surgery was that I was less nervous about this surgery than I was when I was getting Dozer neutered. Why is that you ask? Like many frenchie parents, I was worried about putting him under anesthesia. When I brought Dozer home at ten weeks of age, I started him with a different veterinarian than I have now. I did my research before choosing this veterinarian. However, I did not know them and when I asked questions about the neutering process, I was not receiving complete answers and the short answers they gave did not put me at ease. I was a nervous wreck before and during his neutering procedure. He did well. However, after this experience, I decided that I wanted a different veterinarian particularly since I still needed to have Molly and Harley spayed. I chose to consult with a veterinarian who had a good reputation in town and who I had recently discovered owned a French Bulldog himself. The first consult with this veterinarian was a completely different experience in that he went into great detail about his spaying process. He also let me know that he would run bloodwork ahead of time to rule out potential problems. When I asked the previous veterinarian about bloodwork, their response was “we will if you want us to.” By the time I spoke to the new veterinarian, I had also discovered the French Bulldog Rescue Network Anesthesia Policy and this new veterinarian’s anesthesia procedures lined up well with that policy. Because I was so comfortable with this veterinarian in general and comfortable with his anesthesia protocol, I was much more at ease while Dozer was in for surgery. I dropped him off at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 20th and picked him up the same day at 4:30 pm.

The doctor called me at approximately 1:30 p.m. that day, just as soon as the surgery was complete, to let me know that all went well. He explained that the surgery ended up being much more involved than he expected since the tail was embedded deeper than he thought and the tail had no give to it. He thoroughly explained the entire surgery and let me know that while it was unlikely, there was the slightest chance that some nerves were affected due to how deep he had to go to remove the tail. I, of course, asked the worst case scenario and he let me know that nerve damage and incontinence would be the worst-case scenario. However, the likelihood of this happening was almost zero, not zero, but almost zero.

If you are wondering how Dozer is now, he is good. He is currently laying right next to me sleeping. The doctor increased his dose of pain medication since he is having pain while defecating so it is making him sleep more. However, when he is awake, he is his normal sweet loving self.

What I would like you to take away from this post is to make sure you feel comfortable with any surgery or procedure. How I did this was to choose a veterinarian I was comfortable with, making sure they planned to run bloodwork to rule out any problems, and ensuring their anesthesia policy compared to the French Bulldog Rescue Network Anesthesia Policy. Additionally, if you have a hard time getting your furbaby to take pills like I did, try this Pet MD Wrap A Pill Peanut Butter Flavored Pill Paste for Dogs – Make a Pocket to Hide Pills and Medication for Pets – 59 Servings. It was a game changer for me.

Lastly, I have been extremely thankful to have pet insurance during this time. Every claim I have made so far has been covered and right now that is just one less worry for this frenchie mama. For more information about pet insurance and for policy comparisons, click here:

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To Neuter or Not to Neuter? And at What Age?

You may have noticed that the subject of whether or not to spay and neuter dogs and at what age is very controversial. I personally choose to spay and neuter and I choose to wait until my pups are done growing and I will tell you why.

First, let’s talk a little about the pet overpopulation problem in the United States and in other countries. Every year, millions of animals are surrendered to animal shelters in the United States alone and far too many are euthanized. This problem came to the forefront in the 1970’s along with a push of spay and neuter programs. In recent years, there has been an even greater push for spaying and neutering. In light of the fact that around 2.6 million dogs and cats were euthanized in 2011 and now that number has decreased to approximately 1.5 million cats and dogs euthanized each year, these spay and neuter programs have been successful.

However, spaying and neutering are not the only reasons for the decline in the number of euthanizations. Dog and cat adoptions are at an all time high. The latest National Pet Owner Survey reported that 67% of households own pets and that 63. 4 million households own at least one dog. In short, the majority of people in the United States own some type of pet, most are dogs, and the majority are adopted from shelters or rescues.

The main reason for the overpopulation problem is that more puppies and kittens are born than we have households to place them. You see, in the wild dogs and cats would benefit from having large litters to increase the chance of survival of at least some of the offspring.

Let’s talk reproductive strategies

Biologically speaking, there are two types of reproductive strategies: R-Selection and K-Selection. Animals (such as humans) that produce offspring using the K-selection strategy, produce a smaller number of offspring and invest a large amount of time rearing their offspring. Typically, these animals offspring have a larger chance of survival. Therefore, the neccessity to have a large number of offspring is not there. On the other hand, animals that produce offspring using the R-Selection strategy, produce a large number of offspring and invest a limited amount of time rearing their offspring. Typically, these animals offspring have a smaller chance of survival due to the limited rearing and to environmental pressures such as predators. It benefits these animals to have a large number of offspring to ensure some of them survive.

Although cats and dogs are now domesticated, they originally came from the wild in environments that made R-selection necessary. This is the the reason dogs have large litters of puppies.

Many countries other than the United States also have a pet overpopulation problem with some of these countries having an overwhelming stray overpopulation problem. The stray populations are so large in some of these countries that the number of strays leads to rabies outbreaks in the dog population and sometimes even in the human population. This has prompted countries to take drastic measures when it comes to controlling the overpopulation problem. For example, Holland went from a huge overpopulation of dogs to almost no stray dogs by assuming the costs of spaying and neutering. Costa Rica has declared itself a “no kill” nation and they do this by relying on low cost spay and neuter programs. Germany has an animal sanctuary (as opposed to our traditional animal shelters) and if pets do not get adopted, they can live out their lives in this “Animal Paradise” as it has been called. Community education has been an important factor in all countries that have been successful in reducing or eliminating euthanasia rates. In short, spaying and neutering works in reducing euthanasia rates.

Pros and Cons of Spaying and Neutering

There is a growing list of pros and cons to spaying and neutering. I’ve already discussed the greatest benefit of spaying and neutering in that it reduces the amount of animals that end up euthanized. What other benefits are there? Well, they say that spaying your female dog decreases her chances of certain cancers such as uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and mammary cancer. However, they also say that spaying your female dog increases the risks of other cancers such as lymphoma and Hemangiosarcoma. There seems to be a trade off when it comes to the risks of our pups developing cancer. You can find many posts about the pros and cons to spaying and neutering and you can confuse yourself profusely perusing through these posts. What I do know is the age at which you spay or neuter matters tremendously!

What age should you spay or neuter your dog?

Most veterinarians push for our pups to be spayed and neutered at very young ages. The reason for this is they are taught in veterinary school about the dog overpopulation problem and that dogs and cats should be spayed and neutered before they can breed to reduce the chances of unwanted litters. This is an understandable point. However, spaying and neutering too early can have serious health and developmental consequences.

As a biologist, I have understood the role of sex hormones in overall health and development for a very long time. I think it is important that you understand these roles to make an informed decision. The sex hormones play very important roles in the body, some of which have nothing to do with the reproductive organs. For example, estrogen not only develops and maintains the female reproductive system, it also plays a role in brain health, bone health, and the function of the cardiovascular system. Similarly, testosterone not only plays a role in the development of male reproductive organs, it also plays large roles in muscle size and strength as well as bone growth and strength. Puppies need these hormones until they are done growing to ensure they have strong muscles and bones. You know how they say “Milk does a body good?” Well, “Sex hormones do a body good!”
This is why I personally choose to wait to spay and neuter until I am sure my pups are done growing which can be anywhere from 12 months to 24 months old, depending on the dog.

My neutering story

I’ve talked a lot about the pros and cons of spaying and neutering. Now, let me give you some personal experience. One of the cons to spaying and neutering I have yet to mention is the risk of anesthesia related problems in brachycephalic dogs (or any dog or human for that matter). I have owned several dogs in my life and have had them all spayed and neutered. However, Dozer was my first brachycephalic dog. While he has more open nares than many frenchies, I was still a nervous wreck to get him neutered because of the anesthesia. As a matter of a fact, I went back and forth as to whether to neuter him at all. At that time, I had him and only one of my females, Molly. Once I got my second female, I knew I had to get him neutered because with two unaltered females in the house, I would be at a greater risk of having one, even two, unplanned litters. I ended up getting him neutered at 16 months instead of my plan to get him neutered at 24 months to make sure we didn’t end up with the unplanned litters of puppies. I was comfortable with this decision because Dozer had not grown in height since nine months of age and hadn’t grown in width in a couple of months. I have to say, I have an amazing vet that I do trust. However, I was not sure how familiar they were with frenchies so started the questioning: Have you spayed and neutered frenchies before? How do you know how much anesthesia to give them? How long will they be under? Have you had any complications with brachycephalic dogs before? Turns out they had spayed and neutered frenchies and english bulldogs many times and were very familiar with the breeds and they walked me through the entire process. This made me feel much more comfortable with the process. However, I was still on pins and needles until I picked up my baby boy. He was just fine when I picked him up. Of course, he slept most of the first night but the next day he was right back to his spirited self. As a matter of a fact, the hardest part was keeping him from running and jumping. I stayed right by his side during his recovery ensuring he rested as much as possible. One more thing I want to mention is that I feel that I wasted my money on the “cone of shame” from the vet. Dozer is so short and stout, he can not even reach that area to lick or bite. Not to mention, the “cone of shame” looks so uncomfortable. If I had to do it again, I would ask my veterinarian not to charge me for the cone and opt not to use it. If you are unsure whether or not you will need one, personally I would buy a BENCMATE Protective Inflatable Collar for Dogs and Cats – Soft Pet Recovery Collar Does Not Block Vision E-Collar(Large) just in case your baby is able to reach the area. You definitely do not want them licking or biting the area and risk them opening the wound or getting an infection.

The decision to spay and neuter is a very personal decision and I am sure you will make the right decision for you and your pup. I always say “Mama knows best.” If you wish to discuss the age matter in more detail, feel free to send me a message on my contact page and if you enjoyed this post and/or learned a thing or two, please hit the like button below.