It was an honor to have AOL’s PawNation call upon me again to contribute my veterinary perspective about common canine conundrums. This article originally appeared as: Dr. Patrick Mahaney Decodes Your Dog
All dog owners will admit that while their dogs are wonderful, intelligent and talented, they can sometimes be a little confusing. And by a little, we mean a lot. Thankfully, there are experts who can help us better understand our furry friends. Celebrity veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney is here to answer all of your perplexing pup questions. See what he has to say.
I want to take my dog on a snow vacation this winter, but am concerned the drastic temperature change will be too much for him. He is used to sunny, warm temperatures. Is there any way I can prepare him for the cold?
Yes, you can take proactive measures to best acclimate your pooch to wintry weather. First, I suggest pursuing a veterinary examination to explore your dog’s body for underlying health problems that could affect his acclimation to chillier climate. Underlying diseases (obesity, arthritis, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, liver or kidney failure, cancer, etc.) can make this adjustment process much more challenging.
Second, use caution in exposing your dog to cold weather, especially for pooches that are geriatric (greater than seven years of age), sick or warm-weather dwellers.
When going outside, keep your dog on a leash, and only spend a few minutes in cold temperatures so that the body is given time to adjust. Provided all goes well, repeat outdoor trips can become longer and more adventuresome. With shorthaired dogs or those having skin problems, it’s best that some form of protective coat, shirt or other appropriate cover is worn.
Why do some dogs have crooked or no tails?
Trauma can occur at any point in a dog’s life that might affect the appearance and health of the tail. The coccygeal (tail) vertebrae have an end-to-end arrangement and are held together by a complex of muscles, ligaments, intervertebral discs and joints (facets). If one or multiple of these parts is thrown off, then the tail will no longer have a smooth and linear contour.
If a traumatic injury occurs during a puppy’s development into an adult, then the tail can be crooked or have another unusual shape. Some dogs have their tails docked (surgically cut short) at a very young age or during adulthood.
Certain dog breeds have short tails as part of their genetics and are considered natural bobtails. Some breeds (Australian Shepherd, Jack Russell Terrier, etc.) have a mutation in the T-box transcription factor T gene (C189G). Other breeds (Boston Terrier, English Bulldog, King Charles Spaniel, etc.) are natural bobtails but lack the C189G gene mutation. The Boxer is unique in having been crossbred to exhibit the C189G mutation. Still others (French Bulldog, Old English sheepdog, etc.) have short tails as a result of an undetermined genetic mutation.
Why does puppy breath smell good? When and why does it start getting bad?
There’s not a 100-percent scientifically proven theory about why puppy breath smells good, but much of its olfactory appeal stems from a general lack of periodontal disease.
According to the Veterinary Pet Insurance, 80 percent of pets in the United States develop gum disease (gingivitis, etc.) by three years of age. In my clinical practice, I’ve examined many dogs younger than three having accumulation of yellow dental tartar, brown dental calculus, gingivitis (gum inflammation) and oral malodor (bad breath). The process all starts with bacteria that produce an invisible layer of plaque on the teeth, which causes the above changes as time progresses.
Now back to puppy breath! In the first few months of life, puppies develop their deciduous (temporary) teeth, which ultimately fall out to make room for the permanent (adult) set. This process occurs around four months of age with the incisors being the first to erupt. As the blood supply to the deciduous teeth diminishes, the support structures associated with the teeth (periodontal ligament, gingiva, etc.) begins to decay. With tissue degeneration, the breath becomes less pleasant or even foul. Of course, foul puppy breath is so much better than the majority of adult dogs with periodontal disease
Why do dogs sometimes sneeze in reverse?
Dogs will reverse sneeze when an irritating substance has been inhaled into their nasal cavities. Environmental allergens, cigarette smoke, perfume/cologne, air freshener, incense, carpet deodorizers, cleaning products and others are all potential contributors to reverse sneezing and other respiratory problems.
This condition affects dogs of all sizes, ages and health statuses, and is the body’s attempt to rapidly expel the offending irritant from the nasal passages.
It can occur repeatedly and cause concern among owners to the point that the dog is brought to the veterinarian for an examination. If reverse sneezing is becoming more frequent or severe, a deeper evaluation may be needed using sedation, rhinoscopy (fiberoptic imaging), radiographs (X-rays) and more.
The good thing is that reverse sneezing typically resolves without any specific treatment. Antihistamines are a generally safe means of potentially reducing the clinical response to an inhaled allergen.
I always suggest that clients closely evaluate the environment they share with their pets and strive to reduce any airborne irritants. Additionally, during outdoor excursions, dogs should be kept on a leash to ensure that they don’t bury their face in a substance that could be inhaled and lead to reverse sneezing or other respiratory ailments.
I just adopted a puppy and I’m unsure whether or not I want to neuter him. I am worried about the procedure. I know there are pros to neutering and spaying your pets, but are there any cons?
Neutering, also known as castration or gonadectomy, is a routine surgery performed on millions of dogs, and is an important aspect of population control and promotion of good health.
As thousands of animals are euthanized as a result of overpopulation on a daily basis, the procedure has a profound impact on the pet overpopulation crisis. There are also many health benefits associated with neutering, such as reduced potential for cancers (testicular, prostate, etc.), improved prostate health, less undesirable behavior (aggression, roaming, humping, etc.) and more.
With any surgery, there are risks. Anesthetic procedures are not appropriate for all pets. Yet, healthy animals with no cardiac or respiratory problems, having undergone pre-operative veterinary examination and blood testing, that are operated on using appropriate protocols (gas anesthesia, oxygen, intravenous fluids, blood oxygen/pressure and heart rate monitoring, etc.) typically recover uneventful
Thank you for reading this article. Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).
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Copyright of this article (2012) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.