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"Of all possessions, a friend is the most precious."

- Heradotus

Dog parents know that the occasional upset stomach comes with the territory. Infrequent vomiting (especially when there is an obvious cause) isn’t too worrisome, but what about when it’s an alarming color? 

Here are some of the most frequent explanations for our pups’ tummy troubles so you can know when to cook up some chicken and rice – and when to see your vet. 

lab why is dog vomiting yellow foamWhat makes dogs’ vomit yellow?

Vomit that is yellow and foamy likely has a high concentration of bile. Bile is a substance that the gallbladder releases into the small intestines to help break down your dog’s’ food. 

If your pup goes too long between meals or eats something that is particularly fatty or difficult to digest, excess bile can linger once the stomach has emptied. The irritation this causes to your dog’s gastrointestinal tract often leads to recognizably yellow vomit. 

Common causes of bilious vomiting in dogs

In addition to missed meals, anything that puts your pup off their normal eating schedule or introduces unfamiliar foods may lead to excessive bile and an upset stomach. 

Some likely causes of bilious vomiting include:

  • Eating out of the garbage
  • Sneaking fatty table foods
  • Allergic reactions to foods or medicine
  • A low-fiber diet

What should I do if my dog is vomiting bile?

A lower-fat, higher-fiber diet may resolve bilious vomiting by helping your dog steadily digest food. You may also consider breaking larger meals up into multiple smaller ones throughout the day.

If your pup’s stomach issues persist, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian. Prolonged vomiting can lead to health complications or have a dangerous underlying cause. 

What about other colors of vomit? terrier why is dog vomiting yellow foam

Unfortunately, dogs can’t tell us what’s bothering them (or fess up to nosing through the trash). The color of your dog’s vomit can provide helpful clues to what may be causing their upset stomach. 

Green. Whether dogs eat grass to relieve nausea or get nausea from eating grass is a great canine mystery. In either case, green vomit is a good indicator that your pup has been grazing. 

Bright red. Cherry red vomit is a sign of upper GI bleeding, ulcers, or irritation. Visit your vet to get treatment and rule out serious health conditions.

Brown. To many pet parents’ chagrin, brown, strong-smelling vomit is the likely result of eating poop. If your home has both dogs and cats, it’s a good idea to come up with a solution that restricts your pup’s access to the litter box.

Dark red or black. Dark vomit or vomit that resembles coffee grounds can indicate lower gastrointestinal bleeding or cancers. Don’t hesitate to visit your vet to investigate its cause. 

White. White or clear vomit may mean that your dog’s stomach is empty, but colorless frothy vomit can also be a sign of bloat. For dogs, bloating is a medical emergency that requires surgical intervention as quickly as possible to prevent internal rupturing and respiratory distress. 

When should I worry?

When it is a one-off event, yellow vomit isn’t a huge source of concern as long as it resolves quickly. However, prolonged yellow, foamy vomiting can be a sign of a more serious condition like liver disease or pancreatitis. 

Monitor your dog carefully after an upset stomach, and respond quickly if the issue persists. Your vet can help identify the source of the vomiting to get your canine companion the relief they need. 

The bond between dogs and humans is thousands of years old, so it’s no wonder we’ve grown to like having each other around. 

Though some pups enjoy their alone time, others experience feelings of abandonment when you head off for work or errands. Not only is it distressing to think that your dog is frightened or nervous while home alone, but separation anxiety is often accompanied by unwanted behaviors like:

  • Excessive barking
  • Toileting accidents
  • Howling or whining
  • Escape attempts
  • Destroying furniture, bedding, clothing, or shoes

separation anxiety dog on couchPuppies and newly adopted dogs are more likely to struggle with separation anxiety, but a drastic shift in your routine can trigger these behaviors in older pets as well. Luckily, making a few small changes can help your dog learn to manage this stress (and save your shoes). 

1. Play it cool when it’s time to leave the house.

It’s science – dogs are empathetic creatures. If you make a dramatic exit, your pup is likely to mirror your attitude. Keep your goodbyes as nonchalant as possible to convey that the situation is normal and no cause for alarm. 

If you notice that your dog’s anxiety tends to ramp up as you prepare to leave, mix things up a bit. Periodically pick up your keys, put on your shoes, or reach for your coat when you aren’t leaving home so your canine companion becomes less reactive to each part of your “out the door” routine. 

2. Practice with shorter separations.

Anticipating a long stretch of time alone can add to your dog’s anxiety. This was especially true for pandemic pups who went from having constant companionship to spending the workday alone as offices reopened.  

As much as you can, start with shorter separation periods and vary the amount of time you spend away from home. Whether you are gone for 15 minutes or 6 hours, helping your dog realize that you could return at any time can reduce their feelings of dread when you leave. 

3. Make alone time special for your dog. separation anxiety dog playing

Save particular rewards for when you’re ready to head out the door, and your dog may even learn to look forward to alone time. 

Stave off boredom with interactive toys so that your pup’s day feels purposeful. Use what you know about your pet to choose activities that they will find stimulating. A dog with strong retrieving instincts might enjoy hunting for toys that you’ve hidden throughout your home, while a food-motivated pup would enjoy a treat-filled puzzle.

4. Prioritize exercise for your dog.

One of the best ways to help dogs manage separation anxiety is to ensure they are expending enough energy throughout the rest of the day.

Though the ideal amount of exercise varies from one dog to the next, experts typically recommend between 30 minutes and 2 hours of daily movement. If your dog seems restless or destructive behaviors persist, that is a strong indication that you should add more walks and playtime into your routine. 

It isn’t just about tiring your dog out — for pups, exercise is about both physical and mental stimulation. Taking this time for your canine companion while you are home together can help them approach alone time with a sense of calm. 

They say that cats are like potato chips – it’s hard to have just one. 

Pet parents who expand their feline family are hoping to give their resident furbabies a new playmate, not a nemesis. Because kitties are known for their (often strong) individual personalities and territorial nature, it’s important to do your homework before bringing home a new cat. Taking the right approach will help your kitties form strong bonds and friendships. 

Here is a tested, methodical approach for growing your family while keeping the peace. 

two cats in treeMake your vet’s office your first stop.

Before you introduce a new kitty, it’s important to make sure that you aren’t bringing communicable diseases or parasites home to your resident cats. 

Your veterinarian can screen for potentially contagious illnesses and infestations like:

This is also an excellent time to ensure that your adopted cat is up to date on all recommended vaccinations. 

Approach the introduction in stages.

Slow and steady is the best approach as your cats get used to sharing space in your home. Take your cues from your kitties and be prepared to have patience as they warm up to each other.  

1. Give each cat their own space.

When a cat first comes into your home, designate a closed-off area where the newcomer can eat, lounge, and use the litter box in peace. Bring your adopted cat directly to this area, and allow them to acclimate.

Monitor each cat during this time – curiosity can be a positive sign, but if either the new or resident cat seems agitated, don’t rush ahead to the next step.  

2. Let the cats swap scents.

Once all household cats have accepted each other from opposite sides of a closed door, it’s time to get a bit more personal. 

Introduce bedding from one cat into the other’s space, swap out toys, and exchange their food dishes. This is a great way to help both cats get familiar with the other’s scent so they feel more prepared to share your home.  

3. Make visual contact.two cats napping

Once both cats feel secure enough to eat and use the litter box in their separate areas, it’s time to let them meet face-to-face. 

It’s a good idea to allow your new kitty to explore more of your home and conduct this initial meeting through a baby gate or a cracked door leading to a common space, like the living room. 

Don’t remove the barrier until the cats are no longer agitated by the sight of each other – and don’t be alarmed if this process takes a day or two. When you are ready to let your kitties mingle freely, stick to the following rules:

  • Provide an escape route for both cats.
  • Never force your cats to interact.
  • Don’t pull a frightened cat out of their hiding place.
  • Supervise both cats for several days after they are introduced.

Prep your home for your new cat.

Often, cats will choose to share their belongings with their siblings – but don’t count on it. 

Plan to add new perches, toys, and food dishes to your home so that each cat can have their own. This is especially true for litter boxes. 

Elimination is an important part of how cats announce their presence and mark their territory, so sibling rivalry often plays out in the litter box. Give each cat their own bathroom, and prepare to add more boxes or change the location of existing ones if you notice toileting mishaps. Accidents can be a sign that a more dominant cat is restricting the other’s access to a particular part of the house. 

Make time for play.

The family that plays together stays together. Reinforce the idea that the other cat’s presence is a positive thing by regularly playing with, petting, and praising both kitties. 

Involving the new and resident cat in games that satisfy their prey instincts can avoid the dreaded scenario in which one kitty is constantly “hunting” the other. Help your cats view themselves as partners in crime rather than rivals, and you’ll have harmony in your multi-cat household. 

Ready to grow your family? Check out these local cat rescue groups!

 

 

Dogs are so much a part of the family, it’s easy to ascribe human emotions to them. But what is really behind those supportive nuzzles and knowing looks?

There is a lot we still don’t know about the emotional capacity of our canine friends, but most experts agree that dogs do experience some degree of emotional contagion – the physiological phenomenon that causes us to “catch” the emotions of others. In the same way that the joy and sadness of the people around us can cause us to feel those feelings in our own bodies, dog psychologists believe that our pets may share in many of our emotional experiences.

dog cuddling empathyWhat emotions can dogs feel?

Complex emotions like remorse and embarrassment require a certain level of brain development, lived experience, and language skills – that’s why most humans don’t experience them until later in life. More basic emotions, however, are probably part of your earliest memories. 

Most scientists agree that adult dogs have an emotional capacity similar to that of a two to two-and-a-half-year-old toddler. This means that our pups are probably capable of feelings like:

  • Excitement
  • Distress
  • Joy
  • Fear
  • Love
  • Disgust
  • Anger
  • Affection

Though it may be a bit of a stretch to believe that your furbaby experiences jealousy when he picks up the scent of another dog on your hands, most pet parents can easily read these basic emotions in their pup’s body language. 

Dogs and humans have evolved a biological connection.

The ability to empathize with humans may be a biological adaptation in modern dogs. 

There is a reason why “puppy eyes” are so irresistible – those long dreamy stares trigger the release of oxytocin (the love hormone) in both humans and dogs.  Our pups even have extra eye muscles not found in their wolf ancestors that allow them to give us more expressive looks.

Because of this, experts believe that it stands to reason early domestic dogs were selectively bred for the capacity to empathize with their human companions. Perhaps it’s what we’ve been looking for in our furry friends all along. 

Dogs have more empathy for their friends.  dog empathy husky

Studies show that dogs who are exposed to recordings of other dogs whining or whimpering exhibit a heightened emotional response. It’s less clear, however, if that reaction is a measure of empathy or just a sign that the dog is on alert for the source of the pain or fear.

What is much more certain is that our pups mirror the emotions of dogs they consider friends. The same experiment revealed that dogs have a much greater response to the distress or excitement of fellow pack members – a fact that probably surprises families with multiple dogs very little. Many pet parents report one of their dogs licking or nuzzling their siblings during stressful events. 

How to foster empathy in your dog.

Empathy is a two-way street. Providing your pup with a stable, loving home is one of the best ways to encourage empathy. Consistent bonding activities and positive training techniques will help bring you even closer together. 

Recognize and reward instances of empathetic behavior while they are happening. If you appreciate that your pup knew you needed cuddles at the end of a tough day, heap on the praise, and take a moment to gaze into those puppy eyes.

Veterinarians estimate that around 2% of domestic cats will develop feline diabetes in their lifetimes. Though that may seem relatively rare, certain factors and pre-existing health conditions can greatly increase your pet’s risk.

Whether you want to take steps to prevent diabetes as your kitty ages or you are learning to safely manage this condition, knowledge is power! Here’s what pet parents need to know about promoting healthy blood glucose in cats. 

feline diabetes tabby catWhat is feline diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a disease of the pancreas that prevents the body from properly producing or responding to the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for regulating the absorption of sugar, or glucose. 

Like us, our cats rely on glucose for energy. Diabetic kitties aren’t able to break down and use glucose effectively, so their bodies will resort to burning fat and protein instead. If left untreated, the stress that this places on your cat’s body can lead to weakness, nerve damage, and even death. 

What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes in cats?

Because diabetes prevents cats from processing glucose, their bodies have no choice but to seek out other sources of energy and eliminate sugars in other ways. Pet parents should watch out for:

  • Excessive urination
  • Sticky, concentrated urine
  • Increased thirst 
  • Muscle weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss despite an increased appetite 

Risk Factors

Unlike Type I diabetes, which is present from birth, Type II diabetes develops over time. Particular health conditions and genetic factors can predispose kitties to diabetes, especially as they get older. Be mindful of cats who are:

  • Neutered males
  • Over the age of seven
  • Have existing kidney issues
  • Experience thyroid problems
  • Are prescribed corticosteroids 

The most salient risk factor for feline diabetes, however, is obesity. Overweight cats are much more likely to become insulinfeline diabetes gray cat resistant than their svelte counterparts. 

Interestingly as many as 90% of people with overweight kitties incorrectly believe their pet is a normal weight. When in doubt, talk to your vet about your cat’s body condition score. The importance of prevention can’t be overstated when it comes to diabetes, so don’t lose time making necessary changes to your pet’s diet and exercise regimen.

How is feline diabetes treated?

There is no cure for feline diabetes, but the prognosis is good for kitties who get proper treatment. 

Your vet will examine your cat to diagnose diabetes and recommend the right course of action. Generally, the goals of treatment are to stabilize your pet’s blood glucose, reach a healthy weight, and promote a good quality of life. 

Early, effective intervention can even help some cats achieve remission. 

Caring for a Diabetic Cat

Many cats with diabetes require close monitoring of their weight and blood glucose levels. Your vet may prescribe dietary changes or routine insulin injections to help your cat regulate sugar more effectively.

Pet parents of diabetic kitties have to pay close attention to signs of low or high blood sugar, like changes in thirst and appetite, lethargy, and confusion. Dysregulated blood glucose can cause long-term damage to your cat’s nerves and organs.  If your cat is behaving unusually, see your vet right away. 

Our cats depend on us to follow their prescribed treatment plan. With great care and close monitoring, many kitties can manage diabetes to lead full, happy lives.

 

Whether you have a rambunctious puppy or a nap-loving senior, exercise is crucial for your dog’s physical and emotional well-being. But how much is enough? 

Expert recommendations range from 30 minutes to two hours of daily exercise, but setting realistic goals for physical activity depends heavily on your dog’s age, breed, and physical condition. Learn the tell-tale signs of an under-stimulated pup, and make a plan to integrate a healthy new habit into your daily routine.  

dog exercising in yardIs my dog getting enough exercise?

From bassets to retrievers, short walks for bathroom breaks likely aren’t enough activity for your dog. When our pups don’t have opportunities to burn off energy in a healthy way, you’re likely to notice some undesirable changes, like:

  • Chewing, digging, and other destructive behavior
  • Listlessness
  • Weight gain
  • Worsened separation anxiety
  • Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs), more commonly known as “the zoomies

Gradually introducing more activity into your dog’s routine is often one of the simplest and most effective ways to address a myriad of health and behavioral problems. 

Which activities are right for my dog?

Think beyond your routine walk! Just like humans benefit from mixing up their exercise regimen and incorporating activities they enjoy, your dog’s workout doesn’t have to feel like work. 

Age and breed are important considerations for choosing the right activities for your dog. Pups with flat faces like pugs and bulldogs aren’t likely to relish a trail run in the way that a working breed, like a retriever or shepherd, would. In fact, sustained high-intensity exercise can be dangerous for dogs who have joint or respiratory issues. 

Dogs who are smaller, older, or acclimating to regular physical activity may benefit more from shorter periods of less intense exercise. A few games of fetch throughout the day or a quick swim in the local lake all count towards your pup’s daily movement quota. 

The benefits of exercise for dogs.

Just like a lack of exercise can contribute to an assortment of health and behavioral problems, regular movement is fantastic for your dog’s total body wellness. 

Promote joint health. dog exercising in water

A body in motion tends to stay in motion. Age-appropriate exercise protects the joints by keeping the stabilizing muscles strong and toned as dogs get older. 

Additionally, physical activity plays an important role in weight management. Check in on your dog’s body condition score, and incorporate exercise to help keep your pup at a healthy weight for their joints. 

Provide mental stimulation.

Exercise isn’t just physical – dogs crave activities that challenge their minds. 

Mental stimulation is particularly important for dogs who have been bred to perform a particular task, like hunting or retrieving. The best activities for these pups will be ones that help them meet this intrinsic need. 

Take “fetch” to the next level by hiding favorite toys around the house, or set aside time to learn a new command. High-energy pups may also enjoy conquering an outdoor obstacle course. 

Bond over a healthy habit.

The need for regular movement is just one more thing we have in common with our dogs. Make exercise special by choosing activities you both enjoy. 

Spending this time with your best friend is likely to benefit you both. Studies show that dog owners are significantly more likely to achieve their own fitness goals than people without pups – just one more reason to get moving. 

 

Cats are known for their acrobatics, but joint pain can slow down even the most playful kitties. 

If you’ve noticed a change in your cat’s mobility or temperament, chronic discomfort may be to blame. Get to know some of the most common feline joint conditions, and get your kitty the help they need to keep the party going even as they age. 

joint problems in in cats tabby perchedSigns and Symptoms of Joint Problems in Cats

Cats are notoriously stoic, so it may not be readily apparent that they’re in pain. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms, keeping in mind that they may be subtle:

  • Limping
  • Favoring a particular leg
  • Panting
  • Vocalizing or crying
  • Loss of appetite
  • Personality changes, like hiding or hissing
  • Swollen or hot joints
  • No longer jumping to reach favorite places

Common Causes of Joint Pain in Cats

Feline Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease (DJD), occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears away. Arthritis gets more common as cats get older, but kitties of any age can experience arthritis as a result of infections, injuries, and autoimmune conditions. 

Without protective cartilage, the bones of your cat’s joints can grind together, making movement extremely painful. Because cats are so good at hiding pain, their discomfort may not be obvious until the condition is advanced. 

Patellar Luxation

A luxating patella refers to a chronically dislocating kneecap. Though luxation is more commonly associated with dogs, cats can also be genetically predisposed to the condition. 

Kitties with hip and hindlimb abnormalities that place extra stress on the knee joints can sometimes have their kneecaps slide out of their normal position along the femur. In the early stages of patellar luxation, the knee will often go back into place on its own.

If you’ve noticed hind leg lameness that comes and goes, luxation could be to blame. Schedule a visit with your vet and have your kitty’s joints examined. 

Hip Dysplasiajoint problems cat in chair

Hip dysplasia is relatively rare amongst mixed breed domestic cats, but it poses a threat to purebred kitties. 

Dysplasia occurs when the ball joint of the femur (hind leg) and the pelvic socket don’t fit together properly. This can result in painful friction in the hip joints and loose hips that may pop or click with movement. 

Fortunately, diet and exercise can mitigate some of the discomfort associated with feline hip dysplasia. If you notice that your kitty is getting more lethargic with age, ask your vet to evaluate their body condition score (BCS) and make changes to help them reach a healthy weight. 

Acute Joint Injuries

If your cat has suffered a fall or been in a scuffle, keep an eye out for swollen joints, limping, and subtle personality changes.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that not all trauma is the result of an accident. Rambunctious cats can sometimes experience sprains during play. High-energy jumping and pouncing can lead to overextended ligaments and soft tissue damage, and even stress fractures. 

If you notice your kitty is favoring a limb, vocalizing excessively, or panting, it’s possible the injuries came from roughhousing. 

How is feline joint pain treated?

Depending on the cause of your cat’s joint problems, your vet may recommend a range of surgical or nonsurgical options. 

Because cats often hide their discomfort, it’s important to use what you know about your kitty to recognize any unusual behavior that might indicate joint pain. For the majority of joint conditions, an early intervention greatly improves the likelihood that your cat will return to their normal, playful self. 

Kennel cough may be the closest canine equivalent to the common cold. Though it’s not usually life-threatening, it’s an unpleasant experience that can leave your pup feeling under the weather for several weeks. 

Learn to recognize the symptoms of kennel cough, and get your dog on the road to recovery. 

kennel cough dog boxerWhat is kennel cough?

Kennel cough can be viral, bacterial, or both simultaneously. The most likely culprit is the bacteria Bordetella bronchispetica, which invades dogs’ tracheas and bronchial tubes. This bacteria can leave your pup open to subsequent viral infections while their immune system battles the Bordetella. Inflammation in the trachea causes a forceful, persistent cough that sounds like a goose’s honk.

As the name suggests, kennel cough is associated with communal living situations. Dogs living in close quarters can easily pass the infection to each other.

What are the symptoms of kennel cough?

Though a distinctive honk-like cough is the most obvious sign, look for other generalized cold symptoms such as:

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Low-grade fever
  • Persistent sneezing
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

Is kennel cough contagious?

Kennel cough is highly contagious. Because it is spread through microscopic respiratory droplets, dogs can readily spread the infection at daycares and dog parks.

Though most dogs will recover on their own in a few weeks, small puppies and dogs with immunodeficiencies can be vulnerable to secondary infections and should take extra precautions. 

kennel cough dog labHow should I treat my dog’s cough?

Isolation is key to keeping your dog’s cough from spreading. Separate your sick pup from other dogs in your household while they recover, and skip any group training sessions or play dates.  

Contact your vet for treatment recommendations based on your dog’s medical history and risk factors. Though kennel cough will typically run its course in 2-3 weeks, it’s important to notice and report any symptoms that linger or get worse over time. 

Protect your dog against Bordetella

While it can’t completely eliminate the risk of kennel cough, vaccinating your pup against Bordetella is a great first step. Your vet may recommend inoculation, especially for dogs who spend a lot of time in communal settings. 

It’s difficult to completely prevent dogs from being exposed to viruses and bacteria, but pet parents can bolster their immune systems by caring for their overall health. A quality diet, regular wellness visits, and good stress management can all help ward off infection naturally.