Category Archives: Dog Health

9 Signs That Your Dog Is In Need of a Vet

Your dog is a furry family member you wake up to every morning. The peaceful morning walks and big, sad eyes for your leftovers are some of the moments you enjoy with your beloved pet. Dogs can show affection, but they can’t talk. How will you know if and when something is wrong? Here are 9 signs your dog is in need of veterinarian care.

Strange Eating Habits

Dogs are known for skipping a meal or two now and then, usually when the temperature outside exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but a dog that skips more than two meals in a short period is a warning sign something is wrong. There are diseases your dog can contract that would cause him/her to lose their appetite. Your dog requires immediate vet care if he/she begin raiding the trash.

Excessive Thirst

Dogs produce enough saliva to keep them from needing frequent drinks of water. If your dog is drinking water at a rapid rate, this is another warning sign something is wrong. A dog that is consuming excessive amounts of water is an indication of kidney disease or diabetes. Keep notice if your dog frequently urinates or has accidents in the home.

Dry Coat

A dog with a dry or rough coat is a sign that there is a problem with their food, they have an allergic reaction or suffering from a skin disease. A dog’s coat should be soft, shiny, and thick. Dogs should never have a coat that displays bald patches or spots or appears dull.

Performing Slow or Excessively Tiredlethargic dog

Dogs should not be lethargic. Signs of lethargy may include the dog is unwilling to participate in activities they once enjoyed, including playing and walking. Dogs may experience fatigue or tiredness and sore muscles after walks or other activities in high temperatures which are normal. A dog that has these symptoms more than two days should be taken to the vet.

Nausea and Vomiting

Animals vomit more than humans, and occasional vomiting is no cause for alarm, but frequent vomiting is a sign that dehydration or a more serious matter is occurring. When a dog vomits, it’s to get rid of something that does not agree with their stomach. Vomiting accompanied by bleeding or fever is a sign that your dog is seriously ill and needs to be taken to the vet as quickly as possible.

Strange and Unusual Stools

The condition of a dog’s stool is a good indicator of a dog’s overall health. A dog’s stool should not be hard or dry. Dry and hard stools are an indication of dehydration or dietary problems. The stool should be moist, small, and firm. Some stool shapes suggest worms are an issue. Straining, blood or mucus in the stool and diarrhea that lasts more than two days is a serious concern, and your pet should be examined by a veterinarian immediately.

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Sudden or Extreme Weight Loss

Dogs that are overweight and lose more than 10 pounds within three weeks or less could be an indication of a serious health concern. Weight losses in smaller dogs, such as Teacups, become a concern when they lose one pound within three weeks or less.

dog in need of vet

Cloudy Eyes

Your dog may have an infection if their eyes produce a discharge or appear cloudy or red. Squinting is another symptom that should concern you. Eye infections are frequently and successfully treated with medication.

Scooting and Dragging

An uneducated dog owner may think their dog dragging their but across the floor is funny and entertaining, but scooting and dragging the butt could be an indication of serious problems and complications, including blocked anal glands, diabetes, worms, and kidney disease.


12 Dog Emergencies That Require Immediate Attention

dog in need of emergency

  1. Difficulty Breathing
  2. Restless
  3. Seizures
  4. Collapse/Weakness
  5. Bleeding/Trauma
  6. Vomiting/Diarrhea
  7. Struggling to Urinate
  8. Refusing to Eat or Drink
  9. Coughing
  10. Loss of use of hind legs
  11. Exposure to poisons
  12. Severe pain

How Many Times Should My Dog Normally Visit the Vet?

Vet visits are essential for a dog’s well-being. While you’re at the vet, you can get answers to questions you have and peace of mind knowing your pet is in the best health. The number of times a dog should normally visit a vet each year depends on the dog. The determining factors for visiting the vet depend on the dog’s age, breed, health history, and lifestyle. Puppies, adults, and senior dogs require well-visits or check-ups. Well-visits are routine exams that every dog needs to ensure they are on track with growing, development, and discover any issues that may have occurred or more likely to occur in the future. During the wellness exam, the vet will ask about your dog’s appetite and exercise routine. The vet will ask for a urine sample from your dog and check their teeth.

Caring for Your Dog

Caring for a dog is a commitment and big responsibility. You need to be physically and mentally prepared to pet a pet owner. You need to make sure your home is ready to welcome a dog. Before you become a pet owner, conduct research on the breed of dog you would like to be a part of your family. Choose a vet that will best suit your needs. Some vets care for pets with special health conditions and some do not. When you are looking for a vet, make sure they accept your form of payment and insurance, they are close to your home, and care for your pet in the manner you care for your pet.

Liver Disease in Dogs: The Alternative Treatment

liver disease in dogs is curableCanine Liver Disease Foundation says that liver disease in dogs is one of the top 5 causes of non accidental deaths of dogs. The liver, both in humans and dogs is a very important and complex organ of the body that carries out several essential tasks needed for the continuation of life.

The liver is an extremely important organ in a dog’s body and in terms of size it is the second largest after the skin. It is laden with heavy responsibilities such as producing the essential building blocks for the dog’s body.

Some of the essential functions of the liver include:
  • It metabolizes amino acids
  • Blood clotting and produces digestive enzymes
  • Metabolizes lips and carbohydrates
  • Harmful compounds in the bloodstreams is extracted by the liver
  • Does the work of breaking down of the drugs that is administered to a dog
  • Stores and produces vitamins K, A,E and D
  • Detoxification of poisons and waste in the body
  • Stores nutrients and energy
  • Regulates blood sugar by converting glycogen to glucose
  • Produces bile which aids in digestion

Liver disease in dogs can easily result in a brain condition called hepatic encephalopathy (a neurological condition with obvious changes in behavior such as aimless circling or pacing and head pressing) if not detected early enough and can even death.

Because most of the symptoms of liver disease in dogs are very similar to the symptoms of some other diseases it may be difficult to tell if a dog is suffering from liver disease merely by the observation of the symptoms. As a result this increases the probability that the liver problem may be noticed when the liver damage becomes severe and large part of it has been destroyed; at this point liver failure is just around the bend.

That notwithstanding it is essential that very dog owner should at least know the symptoms associated with liver disease in dogs and to know when to visit the vet when some of the symptoms of liver disease in dogs become visible in his dog.

In the early stages, symptoms of liver disease in dogs are not really specific; however signs like weight loss, loss of appetite and excessive drinking and urinating may be indications that your dog may be suffering from liver disease.

Liver disease in dogs in its early stages results in the swelling and enlargement of the liver and as the disease spreads, the liver cells begins to die until it gets to the point where the liver becomes firm and rubbery, at which point the liver has reached a terminal point and no longer reversible. It is only after about 80% of liver cells are dead that the liver starts to fail.

Symptoms that directly suggest liver disease in dogs:
  • Jaundice
  • Grayish, soft feces
  • Blood in the urine and stool
  • Intolerance to antibiotics, sedatives and anesthesia
  • Abdominal distension caused by liver enlargement
Symptoms that indirectly suggest liver disease in dogs:
  • Loss of weight become visible the moment the liver is beginning to fail in its responsibilities.
  • General weakness
  • Loss of interest in food
  • Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Progressive lethargy such as your dog becoming less and less playful
  • Swollen stomach that appears to be filled with fluid
  • Pain around the abdomen which you can check by lifting your dog with your arms under his belly

It is worth stating that symptoms will vary from dog to dog and it’s usually a function of the cause of the liver disease.

Some possible causes of liver disease in dogs:
  • Viral infections, parasitic infections, bacterial infections and fungal infection
  • Inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Toxic reaction
  • Genetic abnormalities and sometimes aging
  • Side effects from the use of some medicine
  • Bile duct disease
  • Vascular abnormalities
  • Hepatitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Anemia
  • Nutritional imbalance
  • Trauma
  • Diabetes
  • Fatty foods
  • Chronic infection may lead to liver disease
  • Roundworm and heartworms.

The foregoing are some of the known symptoms and causes of liver disease in dogs but by no means an entire list.

While there are many possible causes of liver disease in dogs, medication and unhealthy commercial dog food are two of the major reasons behind liver disease in dogs. This is the reason you should pay great attention to your dog when he is on medication and be quick to visit your visit when you notice the slightest reaction.

Of course at this stage you are not likely to see any possible sign of liver disease in your dog but if your dog on heavy medication and/or the medication last for a significant period of time, it is advisable to see your vet at some stage and request a liver check.

This should at least involve a blood test to check for state of the liver because earlier detection will save you from unnecessary headache. However if you are seeing sign of possible liver disease in your dog make sure to demand a liver disease test even if your vet thinks otherwise.

Because the liver is capable of regeneration, earlier detection makes it easier to reverse the symptoms and disease. The down side is that the reserve capacity of the liver makes it possible for the liver to continue to self sustain until it is about 80% damaged at which point the disease has become too advanced and almost untreatable. I cannot stress it enough that when you start seeing a couple of the symptoms of liver disease in dogs you should visit your vet and demand for a test.

The possible tests for liver disease in dogs are blood test, X-rays, biopsy (tissue extraction for testing) and ultrasound to get a clear picture of what may be going on inside the dog’s liver.

Diagnosis of liver disease in dogs will generally include the following:
  • A thorough blood work.
  • Analysis of the urine.
  • Ultrasound.
  • Tissue analysis.
Cirrhosis: the end stage of chronic canine liver disease

Cirrhosis of the liver in dogs is a chronic liver disease in its final stage in which normal tissues of the liver are being replaced by the formation of fibrous scar tissues. Scar tissue is the result of the normal healing of a damaged body tissue e.g. the scar that is formed due to a cut; scars are also formed as a result of internal injury like a severally damaged liver. So when scarring is occurring in the liver of a dog, it simply means the liver is getting damaged and scarring is following up.

For a dog to stay alive it needs to retain about 20% of liver function but when cirrhosis happens normal liver tissues are replaced by scar tissues and the moment the liver functions drops lower than 20% then the end of life is on the horizon for the dog.

This is a state of acute liver failure and the life expectancy of a dog in this condition is a function of extent of the liver damage, the quality of the treatment the dog receives.

While cirrhosis is more commonly seen in middle aged and old aged dogs, it can affect dogs of all ages. Dog breeds like the Doberman pinschers, Labrador retriever and Cocker spaniel are known to be among the worst hit by cirrhosis.

Liver disease is commonly seen the following breeds:
  • Maltese
  • Scottish Terriers
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • German Shepherds
  • Schnauzers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Poodles
  • Cairn Terriers
Treating canine liver disease

The prognosis and the treatment of liver disease in dogs and cirrhosis is a function of the underlying cause of the disease and the extent of the damage; because the liver has the capacity to regenerate, treatment of the underlying cause will in most cases halt the progression of the liver disease. This means that there is always hope for the dog suffering from liver damage.

The treatment of canine liver disease is threefold:
  • Medication.
  • Supplements and diet for liver disease in dogs.
  • Surgery may be required in some cases.

Medication: in most cases specific treatment of liver disease in dogs is unavailable. Treatments that are offered are usually supportive and/or also to treat the symptoms such as medication to prevent dehydration, control vomiting or provide essential nutrition.

Medication that will be administered also depends on the extent and the cause of the liver disease in the dog.

Skin Allergies in Dogs: Natural Relief for Itchy Dogs

Skin Allergies in DogsSkin allergies in dogs could be easily noticed when the dog is doing a lot of scratching and itching, which may result in open cuts and loss of hair on the dog. This is a strong indication that the dog might have been struck by a skin allergy. Another telltale sign is the itching of a particular area or excessive eating at the paws which may result in bleeding.

Some of the well known causes of skin allergies in dogs are:
  • Flea allergy is as a result of the saliva produced by fleas and this is one of the reasons it is very essential that dogs should be regularly liberated of fleas.
  • Atopic allergy is caused by the inhalation of airborne environmental allergens such as cigarette smoke, dust, mold spores and pollen. Some common signs of atopic allergy are frequent wheezing, coughing and sneezing.
  • Food allergy ranks as one of the causes of skin allergies in dogs and is usually caused by one of the following food type: soy, beef, chicken, corn, wheat, colorings and milk. Queasiness and diarrhea are popular symptoms of food allergies in dogs.
  • Contact allergies are not very common but they do exist and it is usually triggered when your dog comes in contact with things like by plastic, nylon, wool, weeds, grass, tree or wool.

The rate and intensity of scratching are the very first signs that a dog may be suffering from some sort of skin allergies. It is normal for dogs to scratch but when the scratching, chewing and licking become so intense to the point where it is resulting in self mutilation then the dog is probably suffering from a skin infection or skin allergy. Excessive itching is a sign of an unhealthy dog skin.

In this article we will look into the causes and treatment of skin allergies in dogs and the dog itchy skin that causes excessive scratching (pruritus). Dog itchy skin is usually the reflection of the dog’s skin condition which could be as a result of a skin infection, excessively oily/ greasy skin or excessively dry skin.

Excessive and intense scratching that is caused by dog skin infection can be due any of the following underlying causes:

  • Parasites
  • Bacteria
  • Fungus/yeast
  • Genes

Pruritus or excessive scratching as a result of oily/greasy skin is usually caused by a fungus called Malassezia. This yeast infection in dogs is primarily the cause of itchy, greasy/oily dog skin that is often accompanied by an offensive smell.

The dog skin has a local population of microorganisms like Malassezia but when this population grows out of control it usually results in a skin infection. An abundance of yeast on the dog’s skin will result in bad odor and itchiness.

Malassezia thrives in dogs with oily skin therefore any skin condition in dogs that will cause the dog’s skin to produce more oil will result in the multiplication of yeast on the dog’s skin.

Dog allergy and seborrhea oleosa (oily seborrhea) are the primarily causes of an increase in the oil production; other lesser causes of increased oil on a dog’s skin are:

  • Dogs with hormonal problem.
  • Dogs with immune deficiency.
  • Allergy to yeast.

In the case of oily seborrhea, treatment basically involves frequent bathing of the affected dog with the use of medicated shampoo and it may be necessary to shave the dog’s coat so that the shampoo can easily penetrate to the dog’s skin.

Dry skin is one of the major causes of itchiness in dogs; the 2 primary underlying causes of dry skin are environmental factors and diet.

Low humidity or the harmattan weather conditions are environmental factors that cause dry skin in dogs. Dry dog skin will result in dandruff and depending on the extent of the dryness, it may cause cracks in dog’s skin.

The other cause of dry skin in dogs is diet; commercial dog foods manufacturers are particularly guilty of processing out the essential oils in order to produce dog food that can survive the intended shelf life. This is even more pronounced in dry dog food.

If a dog is experiencing dry skin as a result of commercial dog food, then switching to home cooked or raw dog food can easily help to fix the problem.

Skin allergies in dogs are also a very common cause of itchiness in dogs. A dog suffering from allergy will manifest some of the following symptoms:

  • Intense scratching.
  • Persistent biting and chewing.
  • Vomiting.
  • Itchy and runny eyes.
  • Self mutilated skin.
  • Rubbing the face against objects like the furniture.

Dogs essentially manifest their allergic reaction through their skin, which can be seen as either a skin or ear infection or relentless scratching. It really does not matter if the cause of the allergy is as a result of flea bite, atopy (inhalation of airborne environmental allergens such as cigarette smoke, dust, mold spores and pollen), food allergy such as reaction to wheat, beef etc or contact allergy e.g. grass or weeds; all of these will simply make the dog to itch and therefore scratch.

Often time it requires a repeat exposure to allergens before a dog becomes allergic and this will usually occur in their early life. Skin allergies in dogs are commonly seen in certain dog breeds such as setters, retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Scottish, bulldogs etc.

Diagnosing canine skin allergies

Diagnosis of skin allergies in dogs will usually involve allergy testing and also be trying to identify what may be causing the allergy by trying to remove items in the home/environment or in the dog’s food one after the other.

Allergy testing is an effective way of diagnosing skin allergies in dogs that are caused by atopy and to some extent contact allergy. Allergy testing involves either a blood test or intradermal testing.

Generally your vet may be able to uncover the cause of the skin allergy through a process of elimination or he may refer your dog to a vet dermatologist specialist. Once fleas has been ruled out, your dog may be put on a food regimen that your dog has not been eating and then the food your dog was eating when the skin allergy surfaced is gradually introduced under close observation to see if the cause of the skin allergy may be identified. If it is a food allergy, this process of elimination will uncover it.

If it is contact or atopic allergy, intradermal test is employed to inject small quantities of possible allergens into the dog’s skin which will result in inflammation of the injected area of the dog skin if the dog is allergic to the substance.

Treatment of skin allergies in dogs:

Flea bites

Effective treatment of skin allergies in dogs that is as a result of flea bite will involve both flea control and in the home where the dog resides and also by getting rid of the fleas on the dog. You can get the pest control service to spray the home and its surroundings while the dog can be directly treated with topical insecticides, flea shampoo and oral products.

The use of antihistamines or steroids may be necessary for dogs that are allergic to flea bites.


Canine Skin allergies as a result of the inhalation of airborne environmental allergens i.e. atopy can be treated using one or more of the following methods:

  • Topical solution.
  • Omega-3 rich diet.
  • Use of antihistamines.
  • Hyposensitization therapy.
  • Use of steroids.
Topical solution

One of the very first steps in treating atopic induced skin allergies in dogs involves the use of topical shampoo, anti-itch and rinses. While it may not provide a long term solution to atopy, it does offer quick relief for the affected dog; this involves regular bathing with the topical shampoo. Topical solution offer the most effective way of treating localized itching in dogs.

Omega-3 diet

Diet rich in omega-3 fatty acid have been found to helpful in the management of atopic dogs resulting in a significant drop in pruritus (excessive scratching). Essential fatty acids rich diet such as a fish based diet are much more effective than what is available through capsules.

Use of antihistamines

Antihistamines also helps in the treatment of atopic dogs but with a lower success rate if use in isolation; however this can easily be improved upon when combined with other forms of treatment for atopy induced skin allergies in dogs.

Antihistamines has side effect and should only be administered based on a vet’s prescription; common side effects are loss of appetite, constipation, hyperactivity etc.

However, side effects can be greatly reduced when antihistamines is administered according to prescription.

Hyposensitization therapy

Hyposensitization therapy is one of the most effective treatments of atopy induced skin allergies in dogs compared with antihistamines and steroid both of which do not as effective. Intradermal testing has to be carried out on the atopic dog in order to identify the cause of the allergy.

The hyposensitization shot is then prepared based on the allergens that is causing the allergic reaction in the dog. The atopic dog is then injected the hyposensitization vaccine which will enable the atopic dog develop immunity to the allergens.

Grooming For Dogs:Keeping Your Dog Well Groomed

dog grooming is essential
Dog grooming is very important.

Grooming for dogs is very essential for keeping your dog healthy, clean, preventing infection from matted hair, teeth related diseases due to lack of care, excessive wax in the ears which may result in ear infections.

Grooming your dogs at home is a task every dog owner has to master if you want to avoid a possible situation where your dog may develop a health problem as a result of little or no grooming for the dog.

One good thing for dog owners is that dogs do not generally need to be bath daily like humans but part of learning how to groom your dog at home is, knowing the frequency of grooming your dog requires and keeping on schedule. This usually depends on the breed of the dog and its hair type.

Dog grooming can be an unpleasant exercise both for the dog and dog owners who are new to dog grooming. For a beginner groomer, dog grooming can be quite demanding in terms of time and the effort required coupled with the challenges of having to get the dog to become comfortable with the process of grooming.

At the initial stages, grooming for dogs can be an unpleasant experience for most dogs and this can make grooming more difficult not to mention the rather painstaking process required to give a dog a proper grooming.

However just like dog training, getting your pooch to become comfortable with the process of dog grooming will also require some dog training approach. If your are experiencing a lot of difficulty getting your dog to cooperate with you when it comes to grooming then you should break the grooming session into multiple grooming sessions that will span a time period.

You have two options when it comes to grooming your dog, you can either seek the services of a professional groomer or you could learn the art of dog grooming and become that professional dog groomer that your dog needs.

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Seeking out a professional dog groomer

You can get the services of a professional groomer at different business such as the groomers’ shop, at the vet, pet spas, boarding kennels and pet stores. The cost of dog grooming is determine by many variable such as the size of the dog, coat type, breeds etc.

While the cost of grooming for dogs will most likely play a significant role in deciding where you may want to have your dog groomed there are some other essential factor that you should aware of before making that final decision.

Most dog grooming services will offer different services for both puppies and adult dogs such as:

  • Brushing, combing and bathing.
  • Coat cutting and shaping.
  • Ear cleaning and nail clipping.
  • Flea and tick removal.
  • Mat removal and taking care of bad odor.
  • And many other services.

Before taking your dog to a groomers’ shop for grooming you should first and foremost seek the opinion of other professional like your vet or dog trainer or even friends and family, this way you reduce the risk of making a bad choice. The final step before making a decision, either you got a recommendation or not, will involve checking out the facility and make the following observations:

  • How clean is the environment?
  • Do they allow you to witness a grooming session? If they refuse, this should be viewed as a red flag.
  • Are you satisfied with the way the handling the dogs at the facility?
  • How friendly is the staff?
  • How do they treat the dogs before and after grooming?
  • How do you feel about the general ambiance of the facility?
Benefits of using the services of professional dog groomers

Here are some of the benefits of using the services of professional dog groomers for dog owners who do not wish to personally groom their dog:

  • The risk of injury to the dog is largely reduced if not eliminated. A professional dog groomer knows the ins and outs of dog grooming and can easily deliver excellent services little or no hurt to the dog.
  • They can easily provide the right hair cut and shaping that will give your dog that excellent look that you want.
  • Because of their vast experience in the job they can easily detect parasites and any strange occurrence such as rashes, skin cut or bleeding, lumps etc.
  • They can also provide help assistance such as recommending how to take care of your dog’s skin if it is either too oily or too dry.
Learning how to groom your dog yourself

Start by grooming the parts of the body that your dog will be more comfortable with like the paws and then progressively move on to other areas. Carry out these multiple grooming sessions over a specific time interval e.g. every 2 days; this close time intervals will make it easy for your dog to quickly adapt to grooming.

Also keep the more demanding parts of the body (e.g. coat grooming and bathing) for the last stages of the grooming sessions. There is nothing wrong in buying the cooperation of your pooch when it’s time for grooming by offering him treats while you carry out the grooming.

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Dog grooming advice

It is advisable to groom your dog on schedule as this will makes it easy for you to predict how much you will have to do per grooming session and also your dog will quickly grow to become comfortable with grooming.

The hair length of your dog and sometimes the breed will be a major factor in deciding the frequency of grooming e.g. short coated dogs will be largely OK with a weekly coat grooming but long coated dogs will need daily coat grooming. Also breeds like the German shepherd are serious shedders so even a weekly grooming of a short haired German shepherd may be require more effort when compared to other breeds with short hairs.

For most dogs the slicker and the bristle dog grooming brush will be all you need to brush your dog’s coat. With the slicker dog grooming brush you will be able to take care of matted hairs and also be able to remove tangles after which you can then use the bristle brush; while grooming the coat of your dog be on the lookout for ticks, fleas etc.

How often you will need to bath your dog would be largely influenced by two variables: how often your dog gets her coat dirty and the weather condition in your location. You don’t want to bath your dog too often if you are residing in a cold region and even when the need arises you should always make use of lukewarm water.

grooming for dogs by bathing
Bath your dog occasionally

Use mild shampoo when bathing your dog and be careful not to direct a jet of water in his ears, nose or eyes. Ensure that you thoroughly rinse off the shampoo otherwise it will result in skin irritation for the dog.

You can always employ the use of a dryer set at very low heat to dry your dog after bathing; this way he does not have to keep shaking off the water all over the place in order to get dry.

Using a dryer is even more important when you are dealing with some breeds like the Maltese, Poodle or the English sheep dog; when using the dryer make sure that you direct the dryer at specific spots while brushing until the hair at that part of the dog’s body is dry. Simply repeat this process until the entire coat is dry.

Dog Illnesses Symptoms: Common Signs of a Sick Dog

Dog Illnesses Symptoms
Behavioral changes are the first signs of a sick dog.

In the lifetime of a dog, it is not uncommon for a dog to develop an illness and because dogs cannot verbally express this, it is therefore very important for dog owners to know how to detect symptoms of dog illnesses.

There are quite a variety of symptoms and signs that dogs give off when they are unwell and they do so either consciously or unconsciously and this article will identify some of these dog illnesses symptoms.

Behavioral changes

One of the very early signs that your may be dog is unwell can be seen in a change in behavior; just like when a human being is sick, the behavioral changes of a sick dog is easily noticeable. For different dogs, the behavioral changes will vary and the pet owner’s knowledge of the dog will be an important factor in identifying the change in behavior.

For instance, a dog that is usually very friendly and outgoing may suddenly become withdrawn and easily irritated and unwilling to participate in the usual daily activities that are associated with him; some dogs may even become aggressive. Every healthy dog loves to eat but if you start noticing that your dog is showing less and less interest in food then this may be sure red flag that your beloved canine friend may be unwell.

Some of the common behavioral changes that may be indicative of a sick dog are:

  • Aggression: while aggression in dogs could be due to several possible causes, some possible causes of aggression in sick dogs are injury, illness, chronic pain. A dog that is experiencing serious muscle or joint pain such as hip dysplasia may tend to be more aggressive than usual or dogs that are normally not aggressive may suddenly become aggressive.
  • Excessive barking: dogs are meant to bark and a dog may bark for different reason but when a dog that does not have a history of excessive barking begins to bark at all times then one need to unearth the reason behind it. Illness induced barking may be caused by pain, disease, distress as a result of separation e.g. from owner

Observe changes in physical appearance

Once you have noticed some behavioral changes in your dog, you should take a closer physical look at him. Check his coat for signs of parasites like ticks or flea, observe his eyes, ears and belly for visible changes. Any noticeable physical changes will be very helpful in diagnosing the cause of the dog’s sickness and by extension the treatment required to restore his health.

One of the foremost signs of a sick dog is the changes in the dog’s physical appearance, so as a dog owner you should pay attention to the following:

  • Changes in the dog’s body weight
  • Runny nose
  • Bad smells
  • Swollen, red eyes
  • Itchy ears – observe if you see your dog scratching its ears
  • Balding spots
  • Tumors, bumps etc

Some common dog illnesses symptoms beyond the physical appearance:

A loss of appetite

While it is not exactly strange that a dog may sometimes show a lack of interest in food, if this unwillingness persist for about 2 days or more then it may be a sign of that the dog is sick.

Loss of appetite in dogs that is as a result of an illness could be an indication that the dog may be suffering from a serious illness such as kidney failure, cancer, liver or dental disease, pain or infection.

If your dog equally shows an unwillingness to drink water during this period, then you have a clearer sign that your dog may urgently need to visit the vet. However, unusually high intake of water and urination may suggest that the dog may be suffering from diabetes, kidney or liver disease.


A casual or one-off vomit is nothing unusual; perhaps she has eaten something that irritates her guts and then she throws up. However if the dog vomits multiple times in a day or over a few days then this may be a clear sign that the dog may be unwell.

Sometimes the cause of the vomit is because the dog may have swallowed an indigestible object like a little stick, a toy, sharp bone etc. This may also be the cause of blood in the vomit as the object may have cut the dog after swallowing it or while trying to vomit it.

The underlying causes of vomiting may be difficult to diagnose so you should pay closer attention to see if there are other symptoms that may be helpful in diagnosing the cause of the vomiting. Other symptoms to look at for in addition to blood in the vomit are weight loss, an increase or a drop in water intake and urination, lethargy and diarrhea.

Sneezing, difficulty in breathing and coughing

These symptoms may be an indication of respiratory related health problems; a coughing dog particularly when it is persistent may be showing signs of lungs or heart disease and if the coughing is accompanied by phlegm or mucus then the dog should be check for pneumonia.

Respiratory allergies are usually the cause of dog sneezing besides the occasional sneezing which is pretty fine. But if you observe that your dog tends to sneeze a lot at certain period of the year then it may be due to some seasonal allergy such as pollen or plant that the dog is reacting to. However if the sneezing is a one-off experience that seems to persist for more than 2 days then you should visit the vet for further examination of the dog.

Dog Cancer Treatment:Options for Keeping Your Dog Alive

dog cancer treatment
Early detection is the best cure for canine cancer.

Gone are the very terrible days of limited or zero options when it comes to dog cancer treatment, these days there are quite a handful of options for treating cancer in dogs. Some dogs with cancer may experience remission when treated while some may be cured but the best that we can truly expect is better quality of life for our dogs.

Taking care of dogs with cancer is a costly expenditure because your dog may require more than one type of cancer treatment.

Objective of treating dog cancer

The objective of treating dog cancer to restore the quality of life of the patient or at least provide the highest quality of life possible over the longest possible time frame which will either involve a curative (excision and control of the cancerous tissue) or palliative (to halt metastasis and reduce pain) therapy.

There are several factors that come to play when it comes to dog cancer treatment but prominent among them on the side of the pet parent are the emotional and financial issues. In order to make the proper decision regarding dog cancer treatment dog owner must request for an unbiased and frank assessment of the state of the dog, the options of treatment available and the financial implications.

On the side of the vet oncologist and other specialist that may play a part in the treatment of the cancer several factors will be considered. Issues such as the tumor type, location of the tumor and how aggressive it is i.e. is the tumor localized (resident at a particular part of the dog’s body) or has it metastasize (spread to other parts of the body).

For instance aggressive tumors that have either metastasized or are likely to do so will usually involve multiple treatment options (surgery and chemotherapy) and the goal in this case will not necessarily be to cure but rather to slow down the cancerous growth and prolong the life of the patient while for localized tumors that can be treated either by surgery or radiation the goal is to cure.

For owners who cannot afford the cost of dog cancer treatment there may be little else that could be done other than to seek other means of providing as much help as possible to the suffering dog particularly in terms of lessening the accompanying pains and treatment for concurrent diseases if there are any.

However for owners who can afford the cost of canine cancer treatment there are other issues that has to be considered such as:
  • Can the dog withstand the treatment for cancer?
  • Considering the present state of the dog will the treatment significant improve the quality of life or life expectancy? The underlying health condition may be at odds with the treatment.
  • What is the stage and grade of the cancer and will the treatment provide any realistic and significant benefit for the dog and will it meet the expectation of the dog owner both in terms of quality and prolongation of life?


Successful dog cancer treatment hinges on early detection and this is usually the most challenging part of the disease simply because cancerous cells can develop both on the skin and in internal organs of the body which is a lot more difficult to detect at very early stages.

When a lump or tumor is seen on a dog the first thing the vet will do is to carry out test to check if the lump is cancerous. This could include a physical examination of the dog, blood tests, x-rays but more importantly a fine needle aspirate and/or biopsy will be required.

dog cancer diagnoses
Fine needle aspirate is good for diagnosing the type of cancerous growth.

Fine needle aspirate: this technique is less invasive and less expensive than a biopsy and it involves the use of a needle and a syringe to suck a small sample of the tumor (cell) just like the process of getting a blood sample. The sample is then taken to the lab to be examined for cancerous cells.

While a fine needle aspirate is good for diagnosing the type of growth it is not capable of showing if the cancerous cells have spread to other parts of the body and it is not a 100% accurate. There are cases of wrong diagnoses in which malignant tumors are diagnosed as benign.

Dog tumors such as histiocytoma, lymphoma, lipoma and mast cells are quite easy to diagnose with fine needle aspirate.

Biopsy: this technique is more invasive than the fine needle aspirate because it involves the extraction of a core tissue; it enables the pathologist to have a more thorough examination of the lump. This process will require the sedation of the dog meaning that it usually done under anesthesia.

The techniques mentioned above are ways that vets can truly determine state of a lump on a dog and not be visual examination

Stage and grade

After cancerous cells have been identified the next clinical step towards the treatment of the dog is determining the extent and the aggressiveness of the tumor and this is accomplished through the staging and the grading of the tumor.

Build a Dog House:How I Built Mine in 14 Easy Steps

Building your own dog house is an inexpensive way to create a special and customized house for man’s best friend.

build a dog houseIn this article you do not need to worry about unraveling the plan of a dog house because it is integrated into the following simple, short and practical 14 step processes that just about anyone can follow to build his own dog house.

Before setting out to build a dog house it is essential that you have a general understanding of the most important material (in this case wood), that you will use to build the dog house.

This knowledge will help you in making the right decision when choosing wood type to build a dog house that will last some years.

When building your own dog house you can choose between 2 durable options of either wood or plastic. Both have their strengths and weaknesses:

  • Wood is an excellent choice if you are concern (and you should be) about the insulation for your dog house from cold and heat.
  • An easier material for getting the job done if you are going to build the dog house yourself.
  • The sturdy nature of wood is perfect for a jumpy and chewing dog like yours.
  • Wood wears out over years and therefore may require some yearly maintenance such as painting.
  • Vulnerable to termite infestation.
  • Wood tends to absorb dog odors over time.
  • Plastic is very durable and far more light weight compared to wood.
  • Easier to clean up and does not tend to absorb the dog’s odors like wood.
  • While plastic also provide some measure of insulation, it is however not as good as wood and may therefore require additional insulating material.

The post will be working with wood. The best wood to use for outdoor furniture must be able to withstand the ravages of nature – the harshness of the sun or drenching rains – on a long term.

It is therefore essential that you have some basic understanding of different wood types so that you will be in the best position to choose the best wood type for building your dog house.

An excellent wood for outdoor furniture like a dog house must have some resistance to insect infestation and rot.

There are 2 major ways that woods tend to resist rot. Chemical compound found in some woods such as cedars, cypress, redwood offer rot resisting barriers that is offensive to agents of decomposition like bacteria and bugs.

While wood types like ash, birch, pine and spruce have little or no resistance to rot.

The other way that woods that are excellent for outdoor use prevent rot resistance is through physical barriers. Some wood types such as black locust and white oak have a structure called tyloses which fills up the pores of the wood thereby shutting moisture and decay causing agents that thrive in moisture from getting into the wood.

Wood types fall into 2 general categories: soft or hard wood. This is based on the structure and type of the wood and not its durability.

  • Soft wood – They are not weaker than hard wood but are generally less expensive than hard wood because they come from coniferous trees which grow quickly.
  • Hard wood – They come in a variety of grain patterns, texture and colors and are therefore very good in making good looking furniture, however they could be quite pricey.

Some types of soft woods are: cedar, fir, pine, spruce and redwood.

Some hard wood types: ash, birch, cherry, mahogany, maple, oak, popular, teak and walnut.

Some common wood types used in building dog house include:

  • Cedar
  • Spruce

The wood type that will be the best for building your dog house will depend on the temperament of your dog and your climate. If your dog like to chew then a sturdy wood type will certainly be an excellent choice.

In the post we will be working with cedar (however you can use any wood type of your choice) for a number of reasons:

  • Cedar is good for areas with high humidity.
  • Generally used for outdoor projects like building exteriors, decks, furniture, etc. because it is good at handling moist environment without rotting.
  • The dimensions or size of cedar is unaffected by weather, temperature or humidity conditions. This means that unlike other wood type cedar does not get warped by exposure to moisture.
  • Cedar is able to resist insect damage far better than other wood types.

Make sure that your choice of wood type for building your dog house is not treated with any chemical that may harm your dog’s health such as pressure treated pine.

The content of this article would work perfectly for a medium sized dog however you can easily scale the size to accommodate the size of your dog either bigger or smaller.

Requirements :

  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • Work bench (or 2 saw horses)
  • 10’ cedar 2×4
  • Safety goggles (glasses) – make sure to use this in order to prevent wood debris from getting into your eyes.
  • Hammer
  • A bag of 16d nails
  • A bag of 8d nails
  • 4’x8’ sheet of untreated cedar plywood siding
  • 8’ cedar 2×4
  • Cedar shaving
  • Hand file
  • 1 gallon of exterior wood primer – you apply the primer before painting
  • 1 gallon of exterior enamel paint
  • Roofing shingles
  • Roofing nails


dog measurement for building dog house
Take the measurement of the dog before building the house

The first step in building your dog house is to measure your pet’s height, weight and length and add 12 inches to the height, 18 inches to the length and 9 inches width in order to get the dimensions of your dog house.

A medium size dog of about 25” height, 23” length and 21” width will require a house dimension of 37” high, 41” long and 30” wide.

Because a dog’s body heat warms the house, it should be just big enough for your dog to stand in and turn around easily.


Put the 10’ cedar 2×4 on the work bench and cut it into 8 pieces with the circular saw:

  • 2 pieces that twenty two and seven eight inches long (22 -7/8”).
  • Another 2 pieces that are twenty and three quarter inches long (20-3/4”).
  • Cut the remaining 4 pieces each into six inches long (6’’).
wood dimension for building dog house
Cut the 10’ cedar 2×4 into 8 pieces.


The dog house will be fitted with legs so the house can stay some inches above the ground. This will help to prevent water from getting in and also protect the dog from the cold ground in the cold periods of the year.

With the circular saw ground (i.e. rounded the edges) one end of each of the 4 (6’’) pieces, these will become the legs of the dog house.

legs of the dog house
The making of the legs of the dog house.

Then take 2 of the legs and 1 of the 22 ‘‘7/8 pieces and line up the flat edges of the legs (the rounded edge in the other direction) with the edge of the platform side (22 ‘‘7/8) and nail the 2 legs to the 22 ‘‘7/8 using the 16d nails. Repeat the step for the other side. These 2 pieces will be the 2 sides of the platform.

legs of the dog house
The finished legs of the dog house.


The 2 20’’3/4 pieces will be used as the front and back of the frame, place the 2 side pieces of the legs from step 2 above opposite each other with the legs inside and nail the front and back pieces to the sides pieces that contain the legs.

the base of the dog house
Finished product of step 4: the base of the dog house


Put the 4’x8’ plywood on the work bench (or saw horses) and cut it according to these dimensions:

  • 2 bottom pieces of 20’’3/4 inches by 25’’7/8 inches.
  • 2 roof pieces of 31’’7/8 inches by 21’’7/8 inches.
  • 2 side pieces of 16’’ inches by 25’’7/8 inches.
  • One back piece of 22’’ inches wide and 27’’ inches high.
  • One front piece of 22’’ inches wide and 27’’ inches high.
bottom pieces of the dog house
The 2 bottom pieces of the dog house.
roof pieces of the dog house
The 2 roof pieces for the dog house.
side pieces of the dog house
The 2 side pieces of the dog house.
back piece of the dog house
The back piece of the dog house.
front piece of the dog house
The front piece of the dog house.

Dogs with Cancer: Essential Facts about Canine Cancer

dogs with cancer
There is hope for dogs with cancer.

Cancer is the leading cause of canine death and according to Morris Animal Foundation the percentage of dogs with cancer is quite high with 1 out of every 4 dogs likely to die from cancer. About 50% of dogs that are over 10 years old die of cancer or related issues and it’s the cause of death in 23% of dogs of all ages with lymphoma as the leading cancer diagnosed. The good news is that about 60% of cancers in dogs are curable if detected in the early stages.

Meaning of cancer

Cancer is an umbrella word for different types of diseases that result in purposeless and uncontrolled replication of cells either on or within the body. These uncontrolled cell growth result in masses (tumor) that are either visible on the dog or on the affected internal organs which could either remain in the affected area (localized) or metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body.

Tumors that metastasize are malignant while the localized tumors are largely benign; tumors are usually named after the tissue or body part that it originated from. This uncontrolled cell growth happens when the immune system has failed in its responsibility to check the wild cell replication.

Causes of cancer

A high incidence of canine death from cancer has been linked to canine longevity (cancer appear to be a disease of older dogs) due to vaccination, nutrition, parasite control etc. That is better care results in longer life which increases the tendency to develop cancer as a result of old age. While there are no exact scientific data that can conclusively prove the causes of canine cancer however the following have been found to play a part in the causes of canine cancer:

Obesity: while obesity has been shown to increase the risk of cancer in humans, recent researches has also shown that obesity is a risk factor in dogs.

Genetics: just as in humans it has been established that certain dog breeds are genetically predisposed to cancer compared to some other breeds. For instance Rottweiler and Golden retriever are at high risk of lymphoma and osteosarcoma while Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and Dachshunds are at low risk.

Chemical carcinogens: topical insecticides and herbicides are known to increase the risk of bladder cancer and lymphoma respectively

Sun light: ultraviolent radiation from the sun is known to induce canine cancer with short haired breeds at high risk or afflicting sparely haired and non-pigmented areas of any breed such as the belly, head and neck.

Other causes of canine cancer include vaccinations and fillers and preservatives in dog foods.

Warning signs

The best way to treat cancer is to prevent it and at worse to be well informed in order to be able to detect it a very early stage. Early warnings of dogs with cancer are:

  •  A growing lump: lumps that appear on dogs should be given close attention even though not all lump or bumps are cancerous but benign lumps almost always stay the same in terms of size but once the lump begins to grow in size, then a vet’s attention should be sought as this is a serious red flag associated with most malignant tumors (cancer).
  • Unyielding weight loss: while a chronic weight loss does not necessarily suggest cancer in dogs as there are many possible reasons why a dog may be experiencing chronic weight loss but one thing that a chronic loss of weight clearly suggests is that the dog should be seen by a vet for further examination. Lots of cancer patients experience weight loss.
  • Oral bleeding and/or bad breath: bad oral odor that was never noticed before should be given attention as it could be an indication of oral tumor that is building up in the dog’s mouth. It may also lead to bleeding from the mouth.
  • Cough: while there are many different possible causes of coughing in dogs, a non-productive dry cough can also be an indication of lung cancer in dogs.
  • Bleeding or wounds that refuse to heal: bleeding should only realistically occur when a dog suffer trauma or has a cut but continuous bleeding e.g. from the anus, mouth or nose or a wound that will not heal should be immediately brought to the attention of the vet.
  • Swollen belly: while a dog may put on extra weight as a result of eating more than usual however if the dog suddenly starts growing a big belly this could indicate a growing or ruptured tumor that should be checked by the vet.
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea: tumors associated with gastrointestinal tract will often cause chronic diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Lameness: bone cancer in big sized dog breeds is associated with unexplainable or strange lameness.
  • Other signs of dogs with cancer include difficulty in eating and/or swallowing, loss of stamina, unusual difficulty in breathing, urinating or defecating. Observation of any of the early warning signs of cancer in dogs could make the difference between life and death for the dog.

Most common canine cancer

There are different types of canine cancer but some types of cancer are more prominent than others such as:

Skin cancer: dog skin cancer is one of the most common types of canine cancer and when combined with mammary cancer in dogs they account for a total of 58% of the entire canine cancer. The most common skin tumor in dogs is mast cell tumor which is about 20% of canine skin tumors which is frequently seen in middle age/older dogs and in some breeds such as Boxers, Labrador retriever and Boston terriers.

With early detection, proper diagnosis and prompt treatment the prognosis is fairly good. Death from malignant tumor is usually because of metastasis to other tissues of the body.

Mammary tumors: this is tumor of the mammary gland and is the leading cause of cancer in female dogs of between 6-10 years of age and there is a 20-40% chance that benign mammary tumors will become malignant.

The prognosis of mammary tumor is not very encouraging because at the time of diagnosis about 50-70% of dogs with malignant mammary cancer will already have experienced metastasis and with the disease already in an advanced stage.

Lymphoma: malignant lymphoma is one of the most common canine tumors originating in the lymphoid tissues such as bone marrow, spleen and lymph nodes and it is commonly seen in middle age to old age dogs of over 5 years. It accounts for 5-7% of all canine tumor afflicting as much as 24 out of every 100,000 dogs.

Lymphoma can afflict any breed but some breeds are more vulnerable such as Saint Bernard, Bull Mastiffs, Basset Hounds, Airedales, Scottish Terriers, Boxers and Bull dogs while Pomerians and Dachshunds are at low risk.

With chemotherapy a remission of about 60-90% is achieved is a favorable prognosis.

Tumor of the mouth: oral tumor is responsible for about 6% of all canine tumors and among all the different oral tumors that afflict dogs melanoma is the most common followed by fibrosarcoma, squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Melanoma affects the tongue, gums, palates and lips of the dog. It affects dogs of all ages but more frequent in dogs within the age bracket of 7-11 years old.

Early detection of lymphoma when it is very small in size offer the best prognosis since the risk of metastasis increases with the size of the tumor.

Bone cancer: osteosarcoma is the most common bone tumor seen in dogs and it usually afflicts the long bones of the limbs compared to other bones such as the skull or the spine. This tumor is locally aggressive destroying the bones as it develops and often metastasize to the lungs.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs:Vet’s 13 Common Warning Signs

signs of cancer in dogs
Knowing the signs of cancer in dogs can make the difference between life and death for your canine friend.

The mere thought of cancer infection either in dogs or human beings strikes fear and sorrow in the hearts of those concerned, but cancer is no longer a death sentence and signs of cancer in dogs can provide early warnings that can greatly increase the chances of survival for the dog.

Cancer is as a result of uncontrolled cell growth which may either be localized or spread to other parts of the body thereby reducing the chances of survival both in humans and pets.

Cancer can affect any part of a dog’s body with the exception of the nails, hair and teeth. The ability to notice the signs of cancer in dogs depends on the location and the type of cancer, for instance unusual bumps and lumps are easily noticeable signs of skin cancer in dogs and probably sores that refuse to heal.

On the other hand internal cancerous growths are a lot more difficult to notice at early stages until other symptoms that are as a result of the cancerous growth begins to show up in the dog.

Some of the known causes of cancer in dogs

Very little is known about the causes of canine cancer and this grey area makes cancer prevention quite challenging. However there are some known causes of canine cancer and with the increasing incidence of canine cancer it is almost mandatory that every dog owners should be aware of the cause of canine cancer which will help in the prevention of certain types of canine cancer.

Statistical analysis of the data that have been gathered over the past many years on cancer in dogs has enabled us to identify certain factors that cause cancer in dogs such as:

Toxins and chemicals: the environment in which our dogs live in plays a significant role in health. Household cleaning products may contain chemicals and toxins that dogs are more vulnerable to than humans, for one thing dogs have their noses closer to the ground than humans so if toxic cleaning substances are used in cleaning the floors then the dog will likely be the first to be negatively impacted.

Food: it is no secrets to dog owners and vets that one of the greatest dangers to the health of dogs is the quality of food that are fed with. At the top of the list of the sources of these unhealthy dog foods is the commercial pet food industry which is guilty of putting its own pecuniary benefit way ahead of the health of the animals. To guarantee the health of your dog and prevent food related malignant tumors dog owners should take food control of goes into the guts of their furry friend by learning how to prepared homemade dog food either cooked or raw.

Vaccines: Canine cancers have been linked to vaccination and this clearly has to do with the component of the vaccine. Tumors have sometimes developed at the site of vaccination as a result of repeated vaccination at the same site year in year out. So while vaccination is important every pet owner should exercise some caution at the frequency with which their pet is vaccinated.

Environmental factors: known carcinogens such as ultraviolet radiation from the sun due to excessive exposure and chemical carcinogens such as pesticides used in farming, herbicides, insecticides and tobacco inhalation are all known to directly contribute to the development of tumor in dogs.

Some carcinogenic substances have also been identified such as asbestos, benzene, vinyl chloride, uranium, radon, cadmium, and nickel.

Genetics: the genes certainly play a role in some breed predisposition to some specific type of cancer for instance giant breeds are more likely to develop bone cancer and some specific breeds such as the golden retriever and the German shepherd are at a higher risk of lymphoma.

Dog Skin Cancer: Different Types and Alternative Treatment

Dog skin cancer is the most common type of cancer found in dogs but full blown skin cancer does not appear suddenly on a dog’s skin, it usually starts out as a bump, lump etc. and this is good news for every dog owner because early detection of those strange and foreign swellings on your dog’s body increases the chances of survival if these growths turn out to be cancerous.

Since dog skin cancer usually starts out as visible swellings or lumps on the dog’s skin, it is imperative to have some basic understanding of the different types of lumps that may appear a dog’s skin. This knowledge will be very helpful in many ways including calming your frazzled nerves.

The different types of lumps or wounds on dogs’ body

The onset of cancer on a dog’s skin begins as swellings or lumps that starts out small and quickly develops into cancerous cells or manifest as a wound (lesion); in the case of the later it means the cancerous cells causes visible damage on the dog’s skin. Some of the most common visible wound or lumps on a dog’s body are:

  • Lesion.
  • Warts.
  • Skin tags.
  • Cyst.
  • Tumor.

Lesion: is an injury, a wound or a damage caused to the living tissues of the body, it can occur both on the skin and in internal organs; basically lesion can afflict any part of the body that consist of soft tissue or where tumor can be found; lesion that is caused by a tumor is classified as benign or malignant. Tumors are therefore classified as lesions however lesions are not necessarily tumors.

The most common causes of lesions in dogs include abscess, excessive self licking (Acral lick dermatitis), mite, flea, fungal or bacterial infection; but they can also be the result of certain dog skin cancer such as basal cell tumor, squamous cell carcinoma, epitheliotrophic lymphoma, lymphoma, mast cell tumor and fibrosarcoma.

Warts: these are common skin lumps found on aging dogs and they have been linked to over vaccination; for the most part warts are benign but they could also be cancerous. The physical appearance of warts on dog’s skin usually indicates if it may turn out to be cancerous; a wart that remains the same in shape and size is largely harmless but when it begins to grow in size and shape then it is essential to have it checked by the vet as this type of wart could be cancerous.

Skin tags: these are visible harmless, small growths hanging from the dog’s skin and consist of fatty deposits. When the dog’s skin cells grows excessively it results in skin tags and like warts they are usually seen in older dogs; while they are generally benign any random growth of skin tags could suggest a cancerous tendency and should be checked by a vet.

Cysts: these are slow growing sacs that are filled with pus, fluid or semi solid material and they are usually painless and non cancerous however they can grow within cancerous or malignant lumps. Cysts are formed as a result of the blockage of the sebaceous glands or due to infection; false cysts, true cysts, dermoid cysts and follicular cysts are non malignant. Some dog breeds such as the Cocker Spaniel have predisposition to sebaceous cysts.

Tumors: an abnormal tissue growth due to uncontrolled cell division, it serves no useful purpose in the body and can either be malignant or benign.

Malignant and benign tumors

Malignant dog skin cancerBenign dog skin cancer
Basal cell carcinomaBasal cell tumor
Mast Cell TumorLipoma
Malignant melanomasPapillomas
Squamous cell carcinomaBenign melanomas
Hemangiosarcoma of the skinHair follicle tumor
Fibrosarcoma of the skin

Different types of skin cancer in dogs

Basal cell tumor: a very common slow growing dog skin cancer that occurs on the outer layer of the dog’s skin (epidermis). An overgrowth of the basal cells will either be benign (basal cell tumor) or malignant (basal cell carcinoma). Like most tumor the cause of basal cell tumor is unknown but permanent cure can be achieved with surgical removal; this means that the prognosis is good.

Basal cell tumor are commonly seen in older dogs of some breeds such as Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Cocker Spaniel, Kerry blue terrier, Poodle and Wheaten terrier

Mast cell tumors: these are cells that occur mostly in the skin and can also be found in some other tissues of the body such as respiratory tract; they are also a natural component of the immune system. The tumor is produced from these mast cells.

The exact cause of mast cell tumor is unknown but it has been linked to hereditary as seen in some breeds such as English bulldogs, pugs, boxers and Boston terriers.

Mast cell tumor can either be benign or malignant and common symptoms include blood in the stool and vomiting. Mast cell tumors are rated on the three level of increasing severity with the third level (grade III) considered to be the most aggressive and malignant while grade I is benign.

Surgical removal is usually the first port of call in the treatment of mast cell tumor and this will usually take care of grade I & II. Radiation and chemotherapy are the other treatment options available and the prognosis is much better for the lower grade mast cell tumors that are in their early stages than the higher grade.

Lipomas: one of the most common fatty skin tumors that are formed underneath the dog’s skin; they are benign masses that have a tendency to grow bigger and even replicate on the body but unlike other tumors these replication does not suggest malignancy. They are quite common in adult and overweight dogs.

Usually the vet will recommend that the tumor should not be touched while keeping a watchful eye on it but when it is located in a part of the dog’s body that could impede movement or if it is causing discomfort only then will attempt be made to remove it. Some dog owners will request to have the tumor removed for cosmetic reasons.

Sometimes the lipoma may be infiltrative and would invade other tissues around it; in situations like this the lipoma would have to be removed. Therefore any type of lump or tumor should always be brought to the attention of the vet for further examination.

Papillomas: this benign tumor sometimes referred to as dog warts are either caused by viral infection or may be spontaneous and non viral in origin. The viral papilloma is also referred to as oral papilloma because it is usually found in the mouth of young dog and will normally go away as the pup’s immunity develops. The non viral papilloma affects the dog’s skin (cutaneous) and is commonly seen on the feet, head and eyelids of older dogs.

Melanoma: is a very common dog skin cancer which can also infect the mouth; it is the abnormal and excessive growth of the cells that are responsible for pigmentation that result in malignant melanoma. Melanomas are either benign or malignant depending on which part of the surface of the body it occurs; they are generally grouped as oral malignant affecting the lip, gums and tongue and non oral malignant which are usually seen on the around the eyes, foot, nail and skin.

Certain dog breeds appear to have a greater predisposition to this tumor such as Doberman pinscher, Scottish terrier, Springer Spaniel, Boston terrier and Cocker Spaniel.

Treatment of melanoma is basically through surgical removal or vaccination and the prognosis is a function of how advanced the tumor is and the location on the dog’s body. Chemotherapy has not been too successful in the treatment of melanoma.

Hair follicle tumor: this is almost entirely a benign tumor which is as a result of the disorderly or abnormal growth of the hair follicles and they are permanently cured through surgical removal; the prognosis is generally good. The exact cause of hair follicle tumor is unknown though there is some suggested genetic links.