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

- Heradotus

Dog allergies are pretty common — around 20% of people experience some level of reaction when they come into contact with pups. 

Allergy sufferers who want to add a dog to their family are understandably drawn to breeds that shed less. Unfortunately, less hair fall doesn’t make your canine companion hypoallergenic. In fact, there is no such thing as a truly “hypoallergenic” breed. 

“Hypoallergenic” is a term that describes something that’s unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, but when it comes to pets, it’s a marketing ploy. On average, breeds described this way actually emit more of the allergen that causes sniffles and sneezing. 

poodle mix hypoallergenicWhat is a dog allergy anyway?

The Canis familiaris allergen, or Can f 1, is responsible for most of the sneezing, congestion, itching, or hives that allergy sufferers experience. It’s so common, it’s even found in a third of homes without dogs.

Can f 1 is a salivary protein. While it’s certainly present in dogs’ coats, the hair is just a vehicle for the true allergens: saliva and epithelial tissue (dander). For this reason, less shedding doesn’t mean that an allergic person will be less reactive to skin or saliva of any particular breed of dog.

What dog breeds are less allergenic?

Multiple studies show that homes with dogs labeled “hypoallergenic” and homes with other breeds actually contain similar levels of Can f 1. Scientifically, the true benefit of having a dog that sheds less is simply that they require less vigilant vacuuming to keep the allergen that the hair distributes from building up in your home. 

Popular low-shedding and hairless breeds include:

  • Poodle
  • Maltese
  • Chinese Crested
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Havanese
  • Shih Tzu
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • American Hairless Terrier
  • Basenji
  • Schnauzer

Breeders who sell “doodle” mixes often claim that they have given another breed of dog a poodle’s “hypoallergenic” qualities, but buyer beware. As with any dog, Can f 1 one will be present in their saliva, and their actual rate of hairfall can be hard to predict.

How to cope with dog allergies:doodle hypoallergenic

For some, pet allergies can trigger more severe respiratory issues that make dog ownership impossible. For those whose symptoms are more of an annoyance, small changes can help you enjoy your canine companion with less runny noses and watery eyes. 

Explore immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may be an effective way to desensitize your immune system to Can f 1. 

For this procedure, a doctor injects the allergy sufferer with a small amount of the allergen over several appointments, effectively training their immune system to be less reactive over time. 

Invest in air filtration.

Pet hair and dander can travel through the air and get caught up in your home’s ventilation system. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter traps hair and skin cells and prevents them from being recirculated by your HVAC system. 

Practice good housekeeping.

A clean environment can help minimize allergy symptoms. Homes with carpets tend to maintain higher levels of Can f 1 than homes with hardwood or vinyl flooring, but regular dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming go a long way towards reducing allergens. 

A little extra attention to detail in your cleaning routine can help you enjoy your pup with less sneezing and congestion. 


For cat parents who can’t get enough of their kitties’ snuggles, antics, and nose-boops, it’s almost unthinkable that between 60 and 100 million cats are currently homeless throughout the US. 

The enormous homeless cat population is both tragic and hazardous for ecosystems — and shelters are all too often overburdened. Whether you’re hoping to add a cat to your family or simply invested in the well-being of your local pet population, we can all take steps to build a brighter future for our feline friends. 

The Euthanasia Rate for Cats is High

adopt shelter kittensThough the euthanasia rate is typically lower in metropolitan areas, within an hour of Raleigh, NC are shelters that kill the majority of the cats they take in. Sadly, NC is among the five states that account for 52% of all US shelter euthanasias. The most recent available report from Nash County, North Carolina reveals that a startling 80.5% of cats turned in or picked up by the shelter never left. 

Cats have larger litters and are less likely to have identification, so they enter shelters with a much greater risk of euthanasia than dogs. Saving feline lives in shelters starts at home. 

Vaccinate and Spay/Neuter Your Cat

Interactions between domestic and feral cats lead to unintended pregnancies and spread illnesses like:

Though we are still waiting on a vaccine for some of the diseases that threaten cats, an up-to-date vaccine record is the best line of defense against devastating consequences for indoor/outdoor cats (and escape artists). 

Preventative care doesn’t just benefit your kitty — it keeps disease and homeless kittens out of your surrounding community. 

Microchip Your Cat

Collars can come off — and cats are a great deal less likely than dogs to wear them in the first place. 

Kitties who go missing get a brief 72-hour hold in crowded shelters before facing euthanasia. Microchips help ensure that pet parents are reunited with their lost cats in time. 

Adopt, Don’t Shophomeless cat adoption

The most direct way to reduce the number of animals killed in shelters is to grow your family by rescuing a cat. 

Adoption saves lives — your new best friend may be closer than you think. 

Find a Shelter or Rescue Near Me

Ready to meet your new feline companion or searching for a volunteer opportunity? We’re proud to support these local organizations: 

Support Animals in Need

If you want to support the pet population in another way, consider donating to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation’s Veterinary Care Charitable Fund. This program assists with the medical care of pets whose parents are facing financial hardships, as well as those that have been rescued. 


Meal time is most dogs’ favorite part of the day (second only to seeing their humans come through the door). If your pup has suddenly lost interest in eating, it’s a strong indicator that something isn’t right. 

Check out five of the most common reasons why dogs shy away from their food dish so you get them back on the road to good nutrition. 

dog not eating1. Illness

First and foremost, missing meals can be a sign that your pup isn’t feeling well. A decreased appetite is a symptom of many different illnesses, from mild kennel cough to life-threatening issues, including: 

While pet parents shouldn’t automatically panic at their pup’s refusal to eat, anorexia that lasts more than a day or two warrants a visit to your vet. 

Take note of any other symptoms, like vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargic behavior. The information you provide can help your veterinarian get a complete picture of your dog’s health. 

2. Mouth or Tooth Pain

Anyone who has ever had a broken tooth or canker sore can understand how oral pain makes eating less than enjoyable. 

If your pup is overdue for a dental exam and cleaning, issues with their mouth or teeth may have made crunching on kibble difficult or painful. Be on the lookout for the following:

  • Missing or broken teeth
  • Swollen or red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling

Your pup’s oral health is an important part of their overall well-being, and preventative care is the best way to treat issues before they become severe enough to interfere with eating. 

3. Issues with Your Dog’s Food or Feeding Scheduledog outside not eating

Everyone likes a treat, but too many can impact your dog’s appetite at regular mealtimes. Offer too many snacks and table scraps throughout the day, and you may notice your pup isn’t interested in their kibble at dinner. 

Fussy eating may also be a product of your pet’s individual personality. Some dogs are perfectly happy to eat anything at any time, while others have more defined preferences. If you’ve recently changed their diet, they may not like what they’re being offered. Work with your vet to find a diet that meets your dog’s nutritional needs while tasting great. 

4. Side Effects of Medications or Procedures

If your pup has recently undergone surgery, received a vaccination or booster, or started a new medication, short-term changes to their appetite may come with the territory. 

Your vet can help you understand what to expect as your dog adjusts or recovers so you can distinguish between typical and worrisome behavior. 

5. Stress and Anxiety

In otherwise healthy pups, emotional dysregulation is the most common explanation for missed meals. 

Upsetting events like sirens, fireworks, or thunderstorms can cause your dog to skip tonight’s dinner, but ongoing stressors, like a new pet, a new home, or a drastic change to their daily routine, may take longer to resolve.  

Be patient with your dog and look for ways to accommodate their emotional needs while they adjust. This may be as simple as adjusting meal schedules or feeding your new pet in a separate area of your home. 

Be creative in your search for ways to help your dog feel safe and relaxed, and better eating habits should follow. 


Cats’ lovable antics, snuggles, and affinity for long naps make it easy to forget that they are descended from wild animals. While no longer stalking prey in the Fertile Crescent, modern cats still think of themselves as solitary hunters. 

Even though our kitties no longer have to worry about predators, their instincts still tell them that pain leaves them vulnerable — and they will often go to great lengths to hide it. Cats’ stoicism can make it difficult for pet parents to recognize illness and injuries.

cats hide their painLook out for these tell-tale signs that your cat is hurting so you can get them the treatment they need. 

What are the signs a cat is in pain?

The warning signs can be subtle, but cats often reveal discomfort through changes in their behavior, body posture, and facial expressions. Take note if something seems out of the ordinary — it may be wise to rule out illness or injury as a cause. 

Behavioral Changes

Because they don’t want their pain on display, cats will often avoid uncomfortable activities altogether. Keep an eye out for:

  • Hiding
  • Irritability
  • Distressed vocalizations like hissing and growling
  • Decreased activity
  • Lack of interest in play
  • Poor grooming
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Going to the bathroom outside of the litter box

It’s important to report any specific behavior changes to your vet since they can provide clues to the underlying issue. For example, a  cat who suddenly refuses to eat may be experiencing pain in their teeth or gums. Or if they no longer jump onto their favorite places to perch and lounge, they may have limb, foot, or arthritis pain.

Body Language

Happy, healthy cats tend to walk with their heads high and tails in the air. A kitty in pain is often tense, crouched, and closed off. 

Take note of a typically friendly cat who begins avoiding touch or protecting a particular area of their body.

Facial Expression two cats hide pain

Physical discomfort can sometimes show up on your cat’s face. Be on the lookout for a noticeable grimace that includes tense cheeks, squinted eyes, and flat or pinned-back ears. 

What to do if you suspect your cat is hurting:

Because pain can impact cats’ sociability, grooming, and bathroom habits, pet parents can make the mistake of writing off illness and injury as annoying behavioral changes. It’s important to notice any significant shifts in your kitty’s usual habits and investigate the root cause.

A veterinary examination can help identify the source of any odd behaviors and get your feline friend on the road to recovery. 

Use only veterinarian-prescribed NSAIDs.

After a thorough examination, the course of treatment your vet recommends will vary greatly depending on your cat’s diagnosis. In the meantime, however, never give your cat over-the-counter pain medication intended for humans. Ibuprofen is toxic to cats and dogs, even at very low doses. 

Explore laser therapy for pain management.

Cats who are managing pain now have a non-invasive option in laser therapy. This treatment uses specific wavelengths of light to stimulate cell activity and encourage quicker healing. 

Kitties who are recovering from surgery, nursing an injury, or living with arthritis or joint issues may see significant benefits. Talk to your vet to see if your cat is a good candidate for treatment. 


Good nutrition is essential for a healthy body condition score, glossy coat, and overall quality of life. All pet parents want to give their kitties the very best, but information about pet food is often contradictory and confusing. 

The attempt to untangle the wet vs dry food debate may raise more questions than answers, but current research can help you work with your vet to choose the food and feeding schedule that fit your cat’s individual needs. 

wet vs dry food cat eating kibbleThe case for wet food vs. dry food:

Let’s face it, wet food is on a pedestal. Not only do most cats go crazy at the mere sight of a can, but there also seem to be some common sense benefits. There are also plenty of anecdotal drawbacks.

In general, many pet parents believe that canned food is:

  • Closer to a cat’s “natural” diet
  • A special treat
  • More hydrating than dry food
  • A possible cause of diarrhea
  • Good for weight loss
  • Likely to cause weight gain

If some of these statements seem contradictory — they are! Here is what science has to say about separating myths from facts, and deciding what criteria to prioritize when choosing pet food. 

Is wet food more hydrating for cats?

Cats are notoriously poor drinkers, and chronic dehydration is a known risk factor for chronic kidney disease. At a glance, it only makes sense that canned cat food would be more hydrating than dry kibble. After all, wet food is, well, wet. 

But does a choice of wet or dry food make a difference in your kitty’s body water content and urine concentration? Researchers are skeptical: studies involving cats fed canned and dry diets indicate that overall hydration may depend more on the food’s protein and mineral content than its moisture. This could indicate that healthy cats with access to fresh water adjust their drinking to balance their diet. 

Does wet food give cats diarrhea?

Diarrhea is the double-edged sword of the hydration argument. Some pet parents swear that the canned stuff leads to loose stools, but it’s more likely that tummy troubles are due to the introduction of unfamiliar food.

Many cats are highly sensitive to changes in their regular diet, so new food should always be introduced gradually. If wet food is only an occasional treat, cats who overindulge are likely to experience diarrhea.

Do cats need a low-carb diet? wet vs dry food orange cat

Cats are obligate carnivores that need a protein-based diet to survive, but does this mean that carbohydrates are bad for kitties? 

Conventional wisdom states that dry food’s higher carb content elevates cats’ blood glucose, increasing the risk of feline diabetes. The science, however, doesn’t necessarily bear this out. 

While cats certainly metabolize carbohydrates differently than omnivores, they still metabolize them efficiently. Most research doesn’t point to any association between carbs and feline diabetes. Other factors, like your cat’s feeding schedule and the overall nutrition content of their food, are much better predictors of well-regulated blood glucose. 

Is wet or dry food better for weight loss?

Wet food often looks meaty and indulgent, and most cats’ enthusiasm for the tell-tale sound of the can opener would have pet parents believe that it is richer than kibble. 

In fact, canned food’s high moisture content means that it is typically less calorie dense than dry cat food. Does this mean that the wet stuff can help plump kitties shed pounds? The answer appears to be an underwhelming it depends. 

A healthy weight is a better safeguard against feline diabetes than any specific type of cat food, but nutrition certainly matters. Cats that eat too much or too often are at risk for poor quality of life. If you’re concerned about your kitty’s body condition score, talk to your veterinarian to determine the optimal serving sizes and feeding schedule for your cat. 

The Bottom Line

Can both wet and dry cat food be part of a healthy diet? Absolutely!

The meaningful differences in their pros and cons are related to your kitty’s specific individual needs and preferences. If you’ve noticed changes in your cat’s weight, bathroom habits, activity level, or general health, it’s important to visit your veterinarian to address possible underlying causes before chalking it up to diet. 

Unlike dogs, cats won’t always eat what is put in front of them. With effort and patience, you can establish a balanced diet that’s as nutritious as it is tasty. 

Whether your pet is recovering from a surgical procedure or coping with chronic joint issues, you can’t help but feel their pain.

Light therapy, also called photobiomodulation (PBM), is a promising treatment that has been shown to speed healing and relieve pain in cats and dogs. As veterinary scientists learn more about the potential uses and benefits of different modalities of PBM, here are a few things pet parents should know about this noninvasive procedure. 

laser therapy catHow do laser and red light therapies work for pets?

Both laser and red light therapy use different wavelengths of light, ranging from visible red light to infrared light that we cannot see, to stimulate electrons in the mitochondria of pets’ cells. This increase in cell activity results in faster healing, better blood flow, and decreased inflammation. 

The main difference between laser therapy and general red light therapy is that the Class IV lasers used in veterinary and human medical offices offer stronger and significantly more targeted treatment. Clinical models of these low-level laser devices (LLLDs), like the K-Laser, harness specific wavelengths of light that don’t produce heat. These “cold lasers” hone in on specific treatment areas—even deep in the body, like hip joints—and ensure that cats and dogs remain comfortable throughout the procedure. 

What does laser therapy treat?

Because light therapy encourages cell activity, it’s great for promoting new skin growth, collagen production,  bone healing, and reducing inflammation. 

Veterinarians have seen great results in dogs and cats with conditions like:

Is laser therapy painful?laser therapy dog

Photobiomodulation is noninvasive and well-tolerated by both cats and dogs. Targeted cold lasers don’t become hot to the touch, so most pets are completely unphased by treatment. 

Additionally, laser therapy can provide alternative pain relief for pets with liver, kidney, or stomach problems that make it difficult for them to tolerate veterinary NSAIDs. 

How many treatments are needed?

In general, the benefits of laser therapy build over time. Some pets will experience improvements right away, while others may require several sessions to see results. 

Your veterinarian can supervise treatments to determine the optimal regimen for your pet’s specific needs.  

Can you do red light therapy for dogs and cats at home?

While there are products pet parents can purchase to administer red light therapy at home, there are important risks to consider. 

At-home red light therapies typically use less-targeted LED light to stimulate cell activity. These light-emitting panels, wraps, and crates may pose a potential cancer threat, as some experts are concerned they can cause existing  malignant cells to multiply, though research is ongoing. Additionally, many of these products haven’t been evaluated and approved by the FDA.

Ask Your Vet About Laser Therapy

In a clinical setting, Class IV lasers have been shown to be very safe, painless, and effective. Your vet can zero in on specific treatment areas and monitor your pet’s progress to ensure your furbaby is getting the maximum benefits to improve their quality of life. 

Talk to your vet to establish the best treatment plan for your pet to relieve pain, heal injuries, and rebound quickly from planned procedures. 


Our dogs may not be able to talk, but they have other ways of letting us know when they’re in pain. Whether your pup is living with arthritis or you suspect a torn ACL or joint injury after a play date, you may notice your dog:

  • Whimpering or whining
  • Heavy panting
  • Favoring a limb
  • Hesitating to come when called
  • Licking a leg or paw excessively

can you give dog ibuprofenPet parents seeking a fast solution to their dog’s discomfort may be tempted to reach for the ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen in the medicine cabinet. Unfortunately, human pain medications can be lethal for our canine companions.

Can dogs take human pain medications?

Even though many over-the-counter pain medicines and veterinary pain medicines belong to the same drug class, veterinary NSAIDs are dosed and formulated differently. 

Dogs’ stomachs break down and absorb ibuprofen faster than humans’ which means that much smaller doses can have more profound and longer-lasting effects on their organ systems. 

Symptoms of ibuprofen poisoning in dogs

If you think your dog may have accidentally eaten or been given ibuprofen, contact your vet right away. 

The mechanism ibuprofen uses to reduce inflammation also reduces blood flow to the kidneys and stomach, which can lead to ulcers and renal damage. Be on the lookout for:

  • Vomiting 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Black, tarry poop
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Seizures

Pain relief for dogsdon't give dog ibuprofen

Fortunately, there are other options for pups in discomfort. Minimize risky side effects by working with your veterinarian to explore effective treatments for acute or chronic pain. 

Veterinary NSAIDs

Once your vet has had a chance to examine your dog, they can prescribe pup-approved pain medications that take into account your pet’s weight and any existing stomach, liver, or kidney conditions. 

They may also recommend supplements, dietary changes, and gentle exercise for pups dealing with arthritis or ongoing joint problems.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses infrared light to stimulate cell turnover and speed healing. Certain wavelengths don’t generate any heat, making these laser sessions fast and comfortable for your dog. 

Pups living with chronic bone and joint conditions like luxating patella and hip dysplasia are often good candidates for laser therapy, as well as those recovering from an injury or planned surgery. 

Though some pets require multiple sessions and others experience the benefits right away, laser therapy is an excellent pain-management option for dogs that can’t take NSAIDs due to stomach sensitivity, allergies, or other health conditions or to use in conjunction with medications for maximum relief


It’s always tough for pet parents when their puppy is feeling under the weather, but prolonged diarrhea can be life-threatening. 

Unlike mature dogs, with their bodily reserves of fat and water, puppies can quickly succumb to dehydration. If you notice your pup is having loose or watery stools, it’s important to monitor them closely for signs of distress. Diarrhea that is accompanied by additional symptoms or doesn’t resolve quickly warrants a visit to the emergency vet. 

puppies playing diarrheaCommon Causes of Diarrhea in Puppies

Because puppies’ immune systems are still developing, they are particularly vulnerable to a number of conditions that can cause diarrhea.

Here are a few of the likely suspects. 

Internal Parasites

Young dogs are frequent hosts for intestinal parasites like hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms. 

Even if you don’t notice mature worms in your puppy’s stool, they can still experience symptoms as these uninvited guests leach nutrients from their gastrointestinal system. 

A parasitic infection is also likely to be accompanied by:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy 
  • Weight loss
  • A pot-bellied appearance

A veterinarian can determine the specific type of parasite your dog is harboring and prescribe an effective deworming medication. 

Viruses and Bacteria

Puppies rely on a clean environment to avoid becoming infected with harmful germs. Contaminated food or drinking water can harbor bacteria like E. coli, listeria, and salmonella – all likely to cause severe, prolonged diarrhea. 

In addition to keeping your puppy’s living space sanitary, it’s important to adhere to your vet’s recommended vaccination schedule. You can greatly reduce your pet’s risk of contracting deadly wasting illnesses like parvo and distemper with preventative care. 

Eating Table Scraps or Garbage

An older dog who rifles through an overturned trash can may experience an upset stomach, but this is even more true for puppies. 

Foods that are unfamiliar, excessively rich, or expired can trigger a bout of diarrhea. Fortunately, watery stools brought on by off-limits food should resolve within a few hours. 

Stressboxer puppy diarrhea

Just like humans can experience stress in our stomachs, your puppy’s diarrhea can be in response to a scary new experience or schedule change. 

Routine is very important for a growing pup, so keeping their day as predictable as possible should reduce stress and improve digestion. Keep a close eye out, however, and visit your vet if diarrhea persists for more than a day or two. 

When to Worry About Diarrhea

Diarrhea that doesn’t resolve on its own within 24-48 hours should be treated as a veterinary emergency. 

If the watery stools have an obvious cause (for example, pizza left on the coffee table) watch your puppy closely to ensure that diarrhea resolves once the irritant has passed through their system. Don’t hesitate to seek help if you notice:

  • Blood in your dog’s stool
  • Vomiting in addition to diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Bloating
  • Weakness 
  • Pale gums
  • Abdominal pain

What to do when if your puppy has diarrhea:

One of the greatest dangers of diarrhea in puppies is the risk of dehydration. Encourage your dog to drink by keeping clean water nearby at all times. 

Wait to bathe your puppy until their diarrhea has resolved. Wetting your dog can lower their body temperature and make them more vulnerable to infections. 

Your vet can determine if IV fluids are needed to rehydrate your pup and prescribe medicines to relieve diarrhea. They may also recommend a bland diet, like boiled chicken and rice or canned pumpkin, to help replenish lost nutrients and electrolytes while your pet recovers.