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

- Heradotus

Holiday meals mean holiday leftovers. It can be hard to ignore your dog’s longing looks as you pack away that turkey and stuffing. After all, what’s the harm in a few bites? 

As irresistible as your dog may find table scraps, many of the ingredients that make them delicious can pose grave short- and long-term threats to their health. Before you let your pet chow down on human food, it’s important to understand the risks. 

Is it safe to feed dogs table scrapsTurkey or Chicken Bones

Bones are so strongly associated with dogs that many pet parents assume they are a safe treat. Though they may be tasty, leftover bones can cause many potentially serious health problems.

Bones that are boiled in stock or roasted inside a cut of beef or poultry soften significantly during the cooking process. As your dog chews, these bones can break into small pieces that become a choking hazard or splinter into sharp fragments. 

Dogs who swallow sharp pieces of bone are at risk for:

  • Injuries to the mouth and esophagus
  • Internal bleeding
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Peritonitis (abdominal inflammation)
  • Constipation

If your dog accidentally swallows a cooked bone, monitor them closely for signs of choking or distress and call your vet right away. 

Rich and Fatty Foods

We all know what it’s like to feel bloated and uncomfortable after overindulging in rich foods during a holiday meal. For dogs, differences in body chemistry and their smaller size can magnify this discomfort many times over. 

Fatty foods like turkey skin, grease, gravy, and items prepared with oil or butter can put a strain on your dog’s pancreas, the organ that produces digestive enzymes. This inflammation of the pancreas, or pancreatitis, is life-threatening and extremely painful. Get your dog to the emergency vet if you notice:

  • A distended stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Signs of dehydration
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness

Toxic Hidden Ingredients  Dog begging for human food

The ingredient lists for our favorite holiday dishes can be long. You would never feed your dog a leftover brownie, but it’s easy to forget that casseroles and salads can contain foods that are harmful to dogs

If you aren’t completely certain what goes in your Aunt Alice’s famous stuffing, keep it out of reach of your pets. From garlic and onions, which can cause gastroenteritis, to grapes and raisins, which can cause renal failure in very small amounts, unfamiliar leftovers are risky business. 

Bad Table Manners

Every Thanksgiving and Christmas season, emergency veterinarians see an uptick in food-related incidents. Though some of these are the result of pet owners unknowingly feeding their dogs something toxic or harmful, they frequently occur because dogs get into the trash or help themselves to unattended food. 

Feeding your dog from the table can encourage nuisance behaviors like begging, but it can also unintentionally set the precedent that human food is up for grabs. Dogs who are regularly offered table scraps won’t recognize that your uneaten raisin-filled bread pudding is off-limits, and the results can be disastrous. 

If you want to share a snack with your pet, choose a safe treat like a carrot or apple, and offer it away from the dinner table. Rewarding your dog in a structured way not only discourages counter surfing, but can also keep you out of the emergency vet this holiday season. 


Has your aging cat become unusually vocal? While those persistent meows may feel like a nuisance, they may be a sign that your older cat needs your help. 

While kittens use meows to communicate with their mothers, adult cats meow almost exclusively at their humans. Cat experts tend to believe that these vocalizations are a special way of connecting with caregivers, so it’s important to remember that even the most chatty cats have something to say. 

If the aging process has brought on changes to your senior cat’s health or mobility, insistent meowing could be their way of letting you know.

senior cat meowing loudlyVisit Your Vet to Rule Out Illness

Cats can be very secretive about their pain, but excessive meowing is an important warning sign of several health issues commonly found in older cats. Conditions like joint problems and urinary tract infections often fly under the radar until they become serious, so it’s a good idea to visit your vet to rule them out before determining that the vocalizations are a behavioral issue.

Be especially alert if meowing is accompanied by other new behaviors like:

Screen for Feline Dementia

Senior cats can sometimes experience feline dementia, or cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). Similar to the disease process seen in humans, this cognitive decline can cause cats to become confused and disoriented even in their own homes. Understandably, this can cause a great deal of distress. 

An older cat who meows incessantly might be seeking reassurance that their person is close by. Be patient as you try to reorient your cat and offer plenty of affection. Your veterinarian can diagnose CDS and may recommend anti-anxiety medication to help your cat cope with these cognitive changes. 

Check Your Cat’s Hearing

Age can dampen  your cat’s normally very sensitive hearing. Cats who are experiencing deafness may struggle to modulate their own vocalizations, leading to excessively loud meows. 

If your feline friend seems easily startled or doesn’t respond to your voice when you’re out of sight, it could be time to ask your vet to investigate possible hearing loss. 

Accommodate Changes in Mobility  Older grey cat

Cats are creatures of habit. If your feline friend seems inconsolable, they may be having difficulty carrying out their normal daily activities. 

A once-agile cat may be having trouble accessing their favorite napping spot, or their top-entry litter box might have become a chore to use. Fortunately, small modifications like pet stairs and litter boxes with low sides can make it much easier for your elderly cat to feel at ease. 

Offer Help with Grooming

We’ve all seen the baffling ways cats contort their bodies in order to groom themselves. Understandably, as cats age, they may not be able to care for their coats as thoroughly as they used to. 

Our feline friends are fastidious about hygiene, so a matted or greasy coat is distressing enough to shout about. Offer a helping hand by gently brushing your senior cat to distribute oils and prevent mats. Pairing the experience with treats can usually help even skeptical cats come to enjoy being groomed by their humans. 

What Not to Do If Your Senior Cat Is Meowing

As frustrating as non-stop vocalizations may be, it’s important to understand that your older cat is meowing for a reason. 

Never punish your cat for being vocal, and approach the task of decoding their meows with an attitude of empathy and curiosity. Soon you may find that you and your cat are speaking the same language.


If you’re no stranger to dog kisses, you’ve probably had at least a passing thought about the cleanliness of your pet’s mouth. 

An average dog’s mouth is home to about 600 different kinds of bacteria — overwhelming until you learn that humans have around 615. Not all of this bacteria is harmful, in fact, much of it is essential to maintaining a healthy mouth microbiome and preventing the overgrowth of yeast. An excess of the wrong kind of bacteria, however, can lead to painful tooth and gum decay over time.

When it comes to periodontal disease, a little daily prevention can make a world of difference as your dog ages. 

how to brush you dog's teethWhat is Periodontal Disease?

The bacteria in your dog’s mouth form plaque, an invisible film that coats the teeth, gums, and space beneath the gum line. If plaque isn’t removed regularly, it will harden into tartar. 

Plaque and tartar don’t just cause discolored teeth and bad breath — they can irritate the tissues of the mouth and create pockets between the gums and teeth. Periodontal disease may remain undetected for years, but without intervention, it can lead to pain and tooth loss. 


Often, the first sign of periodontal disease is bad breath. If your dog’s kisses have become less pleasant, don’t write it off — unaddressed halitosis can soon come with additional symptoms, like:

  • Bleeding, swollen gums
  • Thick, ropey drool
  • Excessive salivating
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Missing teeth

Heart, Liver and Kidney Disease

The most frightening thing about periodontal disease is that the bacteria that infect your dog’s teeth and oral tissues don’t always stay put. When bad bacteria enter the bloodstream, the heart, liver, and kidneys are at risk for dangerous inflammation.  

Caring for your dog’s teeth is an important part of reducing their risk of cardiomyopathy and other serious diseases. 

Stages of Dental Disease in Dogs

Regular dental care is a critical part of your dog’s overall wellness. Your vet can examine your pet for dental disease and determine a treatment plan based on the severity of their condition. 

Periodontal disease in dogs is classified into four stages:

Stage 1: Gingivitis, or red, swollen gums are present, but there is no loosening of the teeth. 

Stage 2: There is mild-to-moderate loss of the structures that hold the teeth in place with more severe gum inflammation. 

Stage 3: A loss of up to 50% of the bones and ligaments that support the teeth has occurred. 

Stage 4: More than 50% of the teeth’s support structures are missing, teeth are damaged and discolored, and the gums are visibly retracted. 

How to Care for Your Dog’s Mouthpreventing periodontal disease in dogs

While some pets may be genetically predisposed to oral issues, plaque is an unavoidable part of life for all dogs. The only way to prevent harmful bacteria from damaging your dog’s teeth and gums is to make oral care part of their routine. 

Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

While it may seem like a daunting task, with a little patience and persistence, most dogs can become tolerant of daily toothbrushing.

Your odds of success are greatest if you introduce tooth care when your dog is young and in good oral health. Pets who have already developed gum and tooth pain will probably respond badly and may need to have their teeth cleaned by a vet under sedation. 

Unsure how to get started? Check out our tips for making toothbrushing more enjoyable for your dog here.  

Choose the Right Treats and Toys

Look for dog treats that are formulated to help clean teeth and support a healthy mouth microbiome. Certain chew toys can also promote strong teeth and gums — just make sure that you clean them regularly to keep harmful bacteria in check. 

Seek Good Nutrition

Not only does your dog’s nutrition directly affect their mouth health, but an overgrowth of bad bacteria in their mouth can cause digestive issues. If your dog is struggling with buildup, your vet can recommend pet foods that help control plaque and tartar. 


Eyelashes may be virtually weightless, but anyone who has ever had one drift into their eye knows just how uncomfortable this experience can be. 

If you notice your pet is over-producing tears in one or both eyes, they may be struggling with a painful eye condition called entropion. Here’s what you need to know to identify the signs of entropion in your cat or dog and get them the help they need. 

Cat eyes watery entropionWhat is Entropion?

Entropion is an eyelid disorder that causes your pet’s eyelashes to aggravate their eyes.  

Your pet’s eyes are surrounded by ligaments that allow the eyelids to open and close effectively. If these ligaments are too tense or too loose, the eyelids can droop or roll inwards, causing the tiny hairs around the eyes to rub against the cornea. 

Pets whose eyes are chronically poked and irritated by their eyelashes can develop conjunctivitis and secondary infections when they scratch and rub their eyes for relief. 

Symptoms of Entropion in Cats and Dogs

Because entropion is mainly caused by genetics, pets can experience the condition in one eye or in both eyes at the same time. Be on the lookout for:

  • Glassy eyes and excessive tears
  • Frequent squinting or blinking
  • Rubbing eyes with paws or against furniture
  • Discharge
  • Redness
  • Swelling

If you suspect entropion, keep in mind that the symptoms can be similar to several other eye conditions. Your vet can help rule out other common causes of eye irritation, like eye injuries, debris, seasonal allergies, and ocular herpes.

Risk Factors

Cats and dogs of all breeds and ages can develop entropion, but certain eye conditions can increase your pet’s risk. 

When the structures of the eyes weaken from age or slacken from significant weight loss, the eyelids may be more likely to sag and irritate your pet’s corneas. 

dog eyes watery entropion

The biggest predictors of entropion are genetics. Brachycephalic, or flat-faced, dogs and cats are prone to excessive tension in the ligaments surrounding their eyes, which can cause their eyelids to flip inwards. On the other hand, certain large-breed dogs tend to suffer from droopy eyes with the same result. 

Be particularly cautious with these breeds:


  • Pug
  • English Bulldog
  • Mastiff
  • Shar-pei
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Saint Bernard
  • Great Dane


  • Persian
  • British Shorthair
  • Himalayan
  • Exotic Shorthair 
  • Burmese

Potential Complications

Entropion isn’t just uncomfortable. Your pet’s efforts to relieve the irritation can cause them to scratch and damage their eyes, leading to infections or corneal ulcers. Getting effective treatment from entropion can save your pet’s vision. 

Treatment for Entropion

If your cat or dog is struggling with eye irritation, your vet can confirm entropion and check on the health of their corneas. In milder cases with early intervention, medicated eye drops may be all you need to lubricate the eyes and clear up any secondary infection.

Dogs and cats with more pronounced cases of entropion may need surgery to reshape the structures of the eye so that the eyelashes don’t roll inward and irritate the cornea. 

Entropion can’t be prevented, but it can be addressed early. Support your pet’s eye health with regular wellness exams at your vet’s office.  


Have you noticed dry, red patches on your pet’s skin? These rough, inflamed spots are often the result of a vicious cycle of itching and scratching that can sometimes end in skin infections and hair loss. 

Get familiar with the common causes of dermatitis and identify the warning signs so you can stop this uncomfortable condition in its tracks. 

petting dog with atopic dermatitisWhat is Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is a reaction to an allergen or infection that causes skin inflammation, dryness, and itching. The initial reaction is almost always made worse by your pet’s need to scratch, lick, or chew on irritated spots. 

Unfortunately, dogs’ attempts to relieve the itching can easily introduce bacteria into broken skin and cause secondary infections. 

What Causes Dermatitis in Dogs?

The most common cause of dermatitis in pets is environmental allergens like pollen, dust, ragweed, or even certain foods. It can also result from a reaction to fleas or other parasites, or from bacterial or fungal infections that threaten your dog’s immune system. 

The presence of an allergen triggers the release of cytokines, inflammation-mediating molecules similar to histamines. Unlike histamines, however, a build-up of cytokines causes a reaction in the skin rather than the respiratory system. For this reason, over-the-counter antihistamines intended for humans, like Benadryl, aren’t recommended for treating dermatitis in dogs. 


The most obvious sign of canine dermatitis is excessive scratching, but be on the lookout for:

  • Greasy skin with an unpleasant smell
  • Dry, crusty, or flaky patches of skin
  • Chewing on paws
  • Thickened or darkened skin
  • Missing patches of hair
  • Rubbing eyes or ears against carpet or furniture

Because the presence of allergens can cause an overproduction of earwax, yeast and bacterial ear infections are a frequent result of dermatitis. If you notice your dog is fixated on their ears, address scratching right away before it leads to hearing damage or aural hematomas.  

How to Manage Itchy Skindog in grass with seasonal allergies

Dermatitis isn’t just uncomfortable — it can lead to a cascade of more serious problems. Work with your vet to find lasting solutions to your dog’s skin issues. 


Choosing the right medication comes down to identifying the root cause of your pet’s dermatitis. A veterinary exam can help determine if seasonal allergies, a reaction to parasites, or a fungal infection is to blame.

Once you know the why behind the irritation, anti-itch medications or medicated baths can give your dog some relief.  

Allergen Reduction

It may not be possible to completely avoid seasonal allergens, but regular grooming and a clean environment can limit your dog’s exposure to common irritants like dust mites. Year-round flea control is also a great strategy for stopping itching before it starts. 


Undiscovered food sensitivities may be the underlying cause of your pet’s angry skin. Proteins commonly found in commercial pet foods, like chicken or beef, may be irritating your dog’s immune system and causing dermatitis flare ups. 

Choosing the right food doesn’t just calm allergies — good nutrition is essential for healthy skin.  Your vet may recommend particular foods or supplements with essential fatty acids to bolster the skin’s natural barrier and prevent irritation from the inside out. 

We can count on our cats to let us know when their food bowl is empty, but what do you do when your pet is constantly demanding a second dinner?

A big enthusiasm for kibble may simply be a part of your cat’s personality, but changes to their appetite can be an indicator of underlying health or behavioral issues. If you’ve noticed increased hunger or changes in your pet’s weight, it’s important to investigate. Here are a few of the most common explanations for your cat’s fixation on food.

hungry kittens eating kibbleFeline Diabetes

If your cat is suddenly ravenous, their increased appetite may be related to elevated blood sugar. 

Feline diabetes is a disease that interferes with the production of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood glucose. If left untreated, diabetes can cause severe damage to cats’ nervous systems and possibly lead to death. 

One of the biggest risk factors for feline diabetes is obesity, which is why it is particularly important to manage your pet’s eating and exercise habits before they lead to health concerns. This is especially true for cats that belong to other higher-risk groups, including:

  • Neutered males
  • Cats older than age seven
  • Cats with existing kidney issues or thyroid problems
  • Cats that are prescribed corticosteroids 


As cats get older, their risk for thyrotoxicosis, or hyperthyroidism, increases. This condition usually occurs when a benign growth on the thyroid glands stimulates an overproduction of hormones. Because so many organ systems are affected by thyroid hormones, an unusually large appetite will typically appear alongside other symptoms, like:

  • Weight loss in spite of an increased appetite
  • A greasy, unkempt coat
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Parasitic Infection

Particularly for young kittens, cats who spend time outdoors, or cats that have been recently adopted from a shelter, intestinal parasites may be the explanation for a voracious appetite. 

Roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms live in the digestive tract and steal nutrients from their hosts. Infected cats may beg for seconds because they are trying to feed themselves as well as their parasites.  

If you suspect your cat or kitten may be infected, make an appointment with your vet to get your pet on the appropriate dewormer. 

Boredomcat is always hungry

For cats, it’s all about the chase. Though domestic felines may spend hours each day napping by a sunny window, they retain their ancestors’ instinct to stalk prey. Food is just the byproduct of a successful hunt. 

Cats who don’t get enough stimulation from exercise or play may find that mealtime leaves something to be desired. Just like we may find ourselves standing in front of an open fridge or mindlessly snacking in front of the TV, cats can overconsume food when they are bored or disengaged. 

What to do About an Always-Hungry Cat

Managing your cat’s over-the-top appetite always comes down to identifying the root cause and addressing your pet’s needs. 

Visit Your Vet

If you’ve noticed changes in your cat’s weight or appetite, it’s important to rule out underlying medical conditions. Schedule a wellness exam to evaluate your pet’s risk for disease and check on their body condition score (BCS).  

Your vet can make specific dietary recommendations that can help your cat feel more satisfied at meal times, like incorporating lower-calorie wet food.  

Establish a Schedule

Many cats graze throughout the day without issue, but pets who are struggling to regulate their appetite may overconsume food if they aren’t fed on a schedule.

Setting regular mealtimes and measuring your cat’s food can prevent overfeeding and help get your cat into a healthier daily rhythm of play, sleep, and food. 

Make Mealtime More Interesting 

Remember that cats live for the hunt! If you’ve determined that your cat’s overeating is due to boredom, liven up meals by serving their food on a lick mat or adding kibble to a puzzle toy that rewards them for their hard work. 


If trimming your dog’s nails is a dreaded chore, you may be questioning whether or not it’s an entirely necessary part of their regular grooming routine. Many pet parents just don’t feel confident with this task, especially if their dog is already wary of having their paws handled. 

While the right technique may take some practice and patience, nail care is essential. Here’s what you should know about keeping your pet’s feet in good condition. 

Dogs paw after nail trimWhy Clip Your Dog’s Nails?

Unlike our dogs’ wolf ancestors that spend their days running across rough terrain, modern pets need our help to grind and file their nails down to the proper length. 

Well-maintained nails serve a few important purposes: 

Promote Good Foot Posture

If the nails are long enough to strike the ground with each step, this can be very uncomfortable for your pet. Dogs will sometimes adjust their gait to attempt to keep their nails from bumping against flooring or pavement. This unnatural stride can lead to inflamed joints over time.

Long nails can also make it difficult for the pads of dogs’ feet to grip the floor beneath them. As dogs age, the work of walking across slippery linoleum or hardwood can contribute to painful conditions like:

Prevent Injury

Breaking a long nail is as painful for dogs as it is for humans. Poorly maintained nails are more likely to crack and split below the quick, leaving your pet vulnerable to infection. 

Very overgrown nails will begin to curl under, making them likely to get caught up on fencing or other dogs’ harnesses during playtime. Regular trimming is the best way to avoid the trauma of a torn-off nail or a broken toe. 

Protect Furniture (and Skin!)Close up of dog paws with trimmed nails

Short, rounded nails are less likely to do damage to clothes, furniture, and flooring. They’ll also save pet parents from being unintentionally scratched when your dog is excited to see you. 

How Often Should You Trim Your Dog’s Nails?

How frequently your dog’s feet need attention will depend on their habits and the rate of their nail growth. Pets that spend most of their time indoors on carpet or vinyl flooring will probably need more frequent maintenance than sidewalk jogging companions. 

Create a weekly habit of inspecting your dog’s nails to determine if it’s time for a trim. You’ll want to keep nails smooth, rounded, and short enough that they don’t make contact with the floor. 

anatomy of dog nailWhat’s the Best Technique for Cutting Nails?

Take a moment to examine the anatomy of your dog’s nails. If they are light in color, it should be fairly easy to determine where the keratin ends and the living part of the nail, or the quick, begins. Trim the nail to create a rounded shape, and file to remove any sharp edges. 

Pet parents of dogs with dark nails should proceed with added caution. Since it’s not easy to tell where the blood supply begins, it’s best to shape these dogs’ nails a little at a time to avoid cutting them too short.  

Dogs that have gone a long time without regular maintenance may have very long nail beds. Fortunately, slight trims on a weekly basis will help the quick recede over time so that you can get your dog’s nails back to a healthy length. 

How to Make Trimming Dogs’ Nails Less Stressful

Any list of tips for cutting dogs’ nails should prioritize positive reinforcement. If your dog is still a puppy, you have the perfect opportunity to practice handling their feet regularly and building the association between nail trims and treats, pets, and praise. 

For older or persistently fearful dogs, however, the best solution can often be professional help. Licensed groomers have special equipment that can make nail care faster, safer, and more ergonomic. 

Your veterinarian can also offer support by demonstrating good nail trimming techniques you can use at home. You may find that your confidence is contagious — the more comfortable you feel caring for your dog’s nails, the more at ease they’re likely to be. 


Canine ear infections are most commonly associated with floppy-eared dogs like beagles and cocker spaniels, but all breeds are susceptible to this often quite painful condition. At any given time, 1-2 out of every 10 dogs are struggling with some form of ear disease, making it likely that your pet will experience one at some point. 

Because early intervention is critical for preventing serious complications and hearing loss, it’s important that pet parents recognize the warning signs. Here’s what you need to know about treating and preventing ear infections in dogs. 

Signs of a Dog Ear Infection

ear infection cocker spaniel

Some ear infections may go undetected until you or your vet notice built-up wax or discharge from your dog’s ear. In most cases, however, the first sign of an infection is discomfort. Common symptoms include:

  • Excessive scratching of the infected ear
  • Head shaking
  • Redness 
  • Swelling
  • An unpleasant or yeasty odor

Types of Infections

Canine ear infections are medically classified into three types: otitis externa, otitis media, and otitis interna. 

Otitis externa refers to an infection of the outer, visible portion of the ear. If left untreated, the condition can progress to otitis media or interna, which are infections of the mid and inner ear, respectively. Otitis media and interna can threaten the delicate internal structures of dogs’ ears, causing (sometimes permanent) hearing loss and issues with balance. 

Common Causes of Canine Ear Infections

In general, ear infections are the result of an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria. There are a few common situations that are likely to throw off the microbiome in your dog’s ears: 

  • Inflammation brought on by allergies
  • Ear mites
  • Excessive trapped moisture 
  • Injury to the ear canal 
  • Improperly cleaned ears
  • Foreign bodies in the ear canal
  • Endocrine or autoimmune disorders

Treatmentear infection daschund

When it comes to ear infections, prompt, targeted treatment is crucial. Not only can worsening infections threaten your pet’s hearing, the scratching and head shaking that often accompany them put dogs at risk for painful aural hematomas — a condition that causes the ear flap to swell and fill with blood. 

If you suspect an ear infection, visit your vet right away. Because treating the condition and preventing recurrences depends on identifying the underlying cause, it’s best to come armed with helpful information. Talk to your vet about your pet’s medications; exposure to potential allergens; and any recent swimming, bathing, or ear cleaning. 

Depending on the results of the examination, your vet may sedate your dog for a thorough cleaning or prescribe medicated ear drops. To prevent infections from coming back or becoming medication-resistant, it’s important to follow instructions for home care exactly and finish the entire course of medication. 

Preventing Ear Infections

For dogs at average risk, keeping ears clean and dry and avoiding allergens are great steps toward keeping ear infections at bay. Unfortunately, some pets are predisposed to more frequent ear troubles. 

Work with your vet to discuss products that can help control the buildup of yeast and moisture in your dog’s ears, and get instructions on proper home cleaning techniques. As with human ears, never attempt to use cotton swabs or other cleaning tools inside the ear canal — they can easily push wax and debris further into the ear and cause injuries that make infections more likely.