Friday, November 29, 2013

Does My Dog Really Need to Wear a Coat?????

A great article on whether or not your 4 legged friend needs a coat in this wintery weather.

"Winter’s chill is making its presence known in many areas, and as we dig to the back of our closets and coat racks for parkas and seasonal outerwear, we should do the same for our dogs.

Canine couture is popular, so whether your dog roams in a sweater, hoodie, or goes au naturel when mother nature bites at the thermometer, we've got the facts -- and the fictions -- on doggy outerwear."


1. Fiction: All dogs need outerwear to protect them from the cold.

2. Fiction: All dogs can become accustomed to wearing a coat.

3. Fiction: Larger dogs do not need winter outerwear protection. 

4. Fiction: If it looks like a sweater and acts like a sweater, it will keep my dog warm.

5. Fiction: A dog’s coat should be snug to keep him or her as warm as possible.     

6. Fiction: A dog’s pads are resilient and will protect him or her from nature’s elements.

7. Fiction: Coats and hoodies must look heavy to adequately protect dogs.

To read the correct answers to all of these statements, please click on this link!

Friday, March 1, 2013

To Spay or Neuter Controversy


I have a headache. I just read an article entitled "Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers." It was well-written, did an admirable job of summarizing previously relevant research, and reported some important findings. Why then, you might be wondering, did it give me a headache? Well, it reported a significant increase in some important diseases in neutered dogs (males and females) in comparison to intact individuals, but didn’t talk about the potential benefits of the surgeries.

Evidence of a relationship between neutering and an increased risk of certain diseases has been mounting over the years, so although some of the details revealed in this study are new, the overall message is not. And before you ask, the message is not "do not neuter your dog," it is "like all medical procedures, neutering has risks and benefits that owners need to be aware of."

This current study is open access so you can look at it on your own for all the details, but to summarize:

Veterinary hospital records of 759 client-owned, intact and neutered female and male dogs, 1–8 years old, were examined for diagnoses of hip dysplasia (HD), cranial cruciate ligament tear (CCL), lymphosarcoma (LSA), hemangiosarcoma (HSA), and mast cell tumor (MCT). Patients were classified as intact, or neutered early (<12 br="" late="" mo="" or="">
Of early-neutered males, 10 percent were diagnosed with HD, double the occurrence in intact males. There were no cases of CCL diagnosed in intact males or females, but in early-neutered males and females the occurrences were 5 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Almost 10 percent of early-neutered males were diagnosed with LSA, 3 times more than intact males. The percentage of HSA cases in late-neutered females (about 8 percent) was 4 times more than intact and early-neutered females. There were no cases of MCT in intact females, but the occurrence was nearly 6 percent in late-neutered females.

The paper didn’t go into much detail about the potential benefits of spaying and neutering dogs other than to reference other research that "found the evidence that neutering reduces the risk of mammary neoplasia to be weak." I’ll have to look that one up; it doesn’t really jive with my clinical experience. Every case of mammary cancer I can think of from my career has been in an intact female.

Neutering has its benefits, such as:

  • getting rid of heat cycles,

  • preventing unwanted litters

  • eliminating the dangers associated with whelping

  • preventing potentially fatal uterine infections (pyometra)

  • liminating the chance of ovarian or testicular cancer

  • significantly reducing the risk of prostatic hyperplasia and infection

  • lessening aggression and other unwanted behaviors like mounting, roaming, and marking

The authors of this paper cite the differences between policies in the U.S. that promote early age spay/neuter and other developed countries where intact pets are the norm, but fails to mention the much stricter regulations surrounding pet ownership and breeding that are in effect in many of those same countries.

So feel free to look at the paper to learn about some of the downsides of spaying and neutering dogs, but do not turn to it for a balanced argument for or against the procedure. Only you, in conversation with your veterinarian, can determine what is right for your pet.

Dr. Jennifer Coates


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Puppy and/or Kitten is NOT a Present!

"A dog (or any living creature) should always be a considered choice and NEVER an impulse buy. Please help us spread the word about this during this high gift-giving season."

Even though your heart may be in the right place, it is 99.9999% of the time a bad choice!

Read the entire article on 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Thanksgiving Holiday Dangers to Avoid to Keep Your Pets Safe!
  • Grapes, raisins, and currants: Currants and raisins are commonly found in stuffing, baked goods, and as snacks. When ingested, these fruit from the Vitus sp. can result in severe acute kidney failure. Signs of poisoning often don’t show up for days, until kidney failure has already taken place.
  • Onions, leeks, chives, and garlic: When ingested, these common kitchen foods from the Allium sp. can result in oxidative damage to the red blood cells, making these cells more likely to rupture (e.g., hemolyze).  Cats are especially sensitive, and can develop a severe anemia (low red blood cell count) from even small amounts. Thankfully, this is typically seen more with chronic ingestion (e.g., when they are eating it for days), but to be safe, keep these out of reach. 
  • Xylitol: If you have any calorie-counting chefs in the kitchen (I mean, really, why bother on this holiday?!), you may want to verify if they’ve used any xylitol in the baked goods. Xylitol, a natural sugar-free sweetener, is a sugar substitute used in a ton of products nowadays: gums, mints, mouth washes, nasal sprays, chewable vitamins, baked goods, chocolate, etc. When ingested by dogs, it can result in a massive insulin spike, causing a life-threatening hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and even liver failure with higher doses.
  • Fatty table scraps: While I’m guilty of feeding my own dog table food (and yes, he gets to lick the dinner plate when I’m done), I’m savvy about what is healthy or not. Fatty table scraps like gravy, turkey skin, etc. are potentially dangerous to your dog, as it can result in severe pancreatitis. Certain breeds are especially sensitive, including miniature schnauzers, Shetland sheepdogs, and Yorkshire terriers. Even a piece of bacon can trigger pancreatitis in dogs, so when in doubt, don’t feed it to your dog or cat! 
  • Bones and turkey legs: Huge no-no. While you may think you’re giving your dog a treat, you’re actually putting him at risk for a possible foreign body obstruction. I’ve seen the rare dog die from getting a chunk of bone stuck in the esophagus. The bones can also get stuck in the stomach or intestines, potentially resulting in a perforation (or rupture) of the intestines.
  • Unbaked bread dough: About to throw some fresh bread in the oven? Make sure your dog doesn’t eat the unbaked dough first. When this occurs, your dog’s stomach acts as an artificial oven, making the yeast rise and release carbon dioxide, causing a distended abdomen and potential life-threatening gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). Next, the yeast and sugar in the unbaked dough are metabolized to alcohol, resulting in secondary alcohol poisoning in your dog. 
  • Alcohol: As mentioned above, we can see alcohol poisoning from weird sources (e.g., unbaked bread dough, rum-soaked fruitcake, etc.). Likewise, dogs can be poisoned by ingesting alcohol drinks, so keep the mixed drinks and beer away from your dog. Accidental ingestion can cause severe coma, slowed respiration, and a life-threatening low blood sugar in your dog.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Top Ten Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

Halloween brings about a number of dangers that we need to be aware of as pet owners.
PET MD has a list