Top Seven Picks for Best Dog Toothpaste in 2022

Dogs can start to show symptoms of gum and dental diseases by age three, but the risk can lower with consistent tooth brushing. Recent studies have found that upwards of 86% of dogs might have periodontal disease.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is characterized as infection and inflammation of the gums due to abundant plaque bacteria. Gingivitis, a more commonly known condition, is a less severe version of periodontal disease.

The effects of poor mouth help have far-reaching implications. Bacteria from mouth infections can enter dogs’ bloodstreams, causing the bacteria to accumulate near the heart.

It’s so important to be mindful of what methods you use to clean your dog’s teeth. Do your research, and determine what types of toothpaste and dental dog toys would work best for your furbaby.

1. C.E.T. Enzymatic Dog and Cat Toothpaste

The C.E.T. Enzymatic toothpaste is a favorite among vets, pet parents, and dogs. This brand has become the #1 recommended dental product line among veterinarians, which should ease pet parents’ minds.

With C.E.T.’s dual enzyme system, this toothpaste actively fights plaque as it forms. It also lessens tartar buildup and freshens breath, two must-haves in a canine toothpaste.

This formula comes in delicious flavors that any pet will love, turning brushing time into fun time. Cleanse your pet’s palette with flavors like seafood, beef, poultry, and vanilla-mint.

The formula works for both dogs and cats, so multi-pet households will not have to look any further.

2. Toys That Clean Your Dog’s Teeth

A traditional toothbrush and toothpaste are far from the only ways to ensure a healthy mouth for your pet. Whether your dog does not tolerate brushing or if you want another method to help, dental toys are a wonderful option.

In order to make your dog’s teeth cleaning routine fun, look into toys such as the KONG Dental Stick™.

Your dog loves this toy because it satisfies their natural instincts to chew and chase. Meanwhile, you love this toy because the unique rubber grooves clean your pet’s teeth as they play. That’s equal parts mental enrichment and dental health help. Plus, with three sizes, every dog member of your household can get in on the fun.

Looking for a little more guidance? KONG has just the thing to help your fluffy friend thrive:

The KONG Club Monthly Subscription Box

It is no secret that dental health is just one aspect of a dog’s wellness. Dogs are complex creatures with unique needs based on their innate instincts.

This is where the KONG Club Monthly Subscription Box really shines.

Each month, you and your dog will receive a box filled with exciting toys, treats, and recipes. These boxes focus on the building blocks of dog wellness while also being just plain fun.

Your dog is one-of-kind; they can’t be put in a single box. That’s why each KONG Club Monthly Subscription Box is formulated by a team of animal experts based on your pet’s unique needs.

3. Try Dental Treats

Making the teeth cleaning process a pleasant one can seem challenging, but dental treats make it easy!

KONG’s Ziggies Dental Treats put the “fun” in function. They’re chicken flavored, so dogs can’t get enough. Meanwhile, pet parents can’t get enough of how fresh their dog’s breath is.

4. Pick a Toothpaste With a Flavor Everyone Can Agree On

Dog toothpaste doesn’t come in flavors like bubblegum or cinnamon. Our dogs are much more excited about bacon and other meat-inspired recipes.

However, pet parents will still have to smell their dog’s breath afterward.

Some pet parents prefer to use unflavored toothpaste that leaves no smell behind. Your dog might not be as excited about the taste, but that is okay if they don’t mind brushing. A more pungent flavor might be best for dogs who are less than happy about getting their teeth brushed.

5. Formulas With All-Natural Ingredients

For dogs with more sensitive stomachs or pet parents who prefer more organic products, there are formulas for you:

Some dog toothpastes utilize ingredients such as aloe vera. Not only will aloe vera freshen your dog’s breath, but it will also soothe unpleasant symptoms that arise due to gum disease. Other all-natural toothpaste ingredients might include coconut oil, sweet potato, and olive leaf extract.

6. Fluoride-Free Toothpaste

Unlike humans, dogs are going to swallow almost all of their toothpaste. This means that their formulas cannot include potentially harmful ingredients.

Both humans and dogs are better off avoiding parabens and sulfates. However, human dentists recommend fluoride for people’s toothpaste. This is where our similarities end.

Fluoride is dangerous to dogs which is why pet parents and pets should never share a tube of toothpaste.

7. Formulas Without Artificial Sweeteners Like Xylitol

Artificial sweeteners are not ideal for anyone, but common ingredients like xylitol pose a real threat to dogs. This artificial sweetener can cause hypoglycemia in dogs. Hypoglycemia is a serious drop in blood sugar that can lead to coma or even death.

How Often Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?

Dogs should have their teeth brushed roughly as often as humans.

If you are not yet ready to commit to brushing your dog’s teeth on the same schedule as yours, you have options. A dog’s teeth must be brushed at least three times per week to effectively remove plaque, bacteria, and other buildup. Many pet parents will land somewhere between these two frequencies.

Signs That Your Dog’s Teeth Need More Brushing

It is often difficult for pet parents to recognize when their dog is experiencing oral pain. Dogs can be quite adept at hiding these issues, so we have to be on alert to see warning signs as they come up. By the time they are eating less due to pain, the issue is already quite severe.

Some symptoms of gum disease in dogs include:

  • Red or inflamed gums
  • Eating less or reduced appetite
  • Unpleasant odor around the mouth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Drooling
  • Missing teeth

Should You Start Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth as a Puppy?

The earlier you start brushing your dog’s teeth, the better.

First, cleaning your dog’s teeth from an early age means that plaque and bacteria will not have the chance to build up, helping your dog’s teeth in the long run.

By starting your dog on a brushing routine when they are young, you are also getting them used to having their teeth brushed. Handling dogs all over their bodies is a necessary part of the socialization process. When this is done early, dogs are better adjusted and more comfortable as adults.

If an adult dog has never had their teeth brushed as a puppy, they might not tolerate it well. However, if they understand that there is no threat to their teeth being brushed, they will learn to tolerate it. As time goes on, they could even learn to enjoy the process.

How Do You Brush a Dog’s Teeth?

Once pet parents understand the importance of brushing their dogs’ teeth, their next question is inevitable: How do you do it? Though the prospect might seem intimidating at first, it does not have to be.

When brushing your dog’s teeth, focus more on lifting their lip rather than forcibly opening their mouth. Use small circular motions to thoroughly clean their teeth. If your dog can only tolerate so much handling, spend most of your time on the back teeth. The top back teeth are especially likely to suffer from gum disorders.

If you find it difficult to keep your dog still while brushing their teeth, it might be a matter of position. Next time, try to get either behind or beside your dog, depending on their size.

Use your arm to steady their head, but not to force it in any one position. If your dog views getting their teeth brushed as a very negative experience, it will be even more difficult in the future.

It’s best to start with shorter brushing sessions and gradually increase the time. For dogs just getting started, try introducing them to the brush with the (yummy) toothpaste, letting them taste it.

Additionally, you want to make the whole process as positive as possible. Try feeding your dog shortly after, praising, playing, or petting them. You know your dog best, so opt for what incentivizes them the most.

How Else Can We Help Our Dogs’ Teeth?

In addition to regularly brushing your dog’s teeth, you should also take your dog to the vet for special dental visits. Most veterinary professionals recommend that dogs get their teeth professionally looked at once per year, starting as puppies.

This visit can involve a teeth cleaning or potential X-Rays. Your vet will also visually inspect your dog’s mouth.

The best way to ensure your dog’s smile remains healthy for years to come is by combining an at-home dental routine with regular dental visits. We indeed know our pets best, but vets are specifically trained to see abnormalities that we might not know about.

Brushing Up

Over time, dental issues that seem insignificant can become serious problems. If left unattended, dental disease can lead to issues in your dog’s heart, liver, and kidneys. These issues can be lessened or thwarted entirely if a dental routine is established and closely followed.

If you have more questions about your canine’s canines, you can reach out to the vets and pet experts in the KONG Club App for personalized care tips and tricks.

Sources:

A Cross-Sectional Study To Estimate Prevalence of Periodontal Disease in a Population of Dogs (Canis familiaris) in Commercial Breeding Facilities in Indiana and Illinois | PMC

Periodontal Disease in Small Animals | Merck Vet Manual

Hypoglycemia in Dogs: Causes, Management, and Diagnosis | PMC

​​Periodontal Disease in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment | Greensboro Vet

​​Fluoride Poisoning – Special Pet Topics | Merck Veterinary Manual

7 Best Dog Shampoos for Dry, Itchy Skin

After living with your dog for ten days or maybe ten years, you might have noticed them occasionally scratching themselves. If you suspect that your pet is scratching themselves more often than is normal, keep an eye on them. Do they scratch the same spot over and over without stopping?

Poor pooch! Your dog might be experiencing the effects of dry or itchy skin.

What Causes Dry and Itchy Skin in Dogs?

Take a look at the skin in the area where they are regularly scratching. Does that spot appear to be red, swollen, or overly dry? If so, there might be an underlying condition going on.

Dry skin is very common for both dogs and people at different times of the year, but here are some possible explanations:

  • Allergies
  • Dry air
  • Cold weather
  • Fleas or ticks
  • Skin infection
  • A hormone imbalance

If your dog is experiencing an allergy, try to remove the allergen whenever possible. Some dogs are allergic to types of meats, the material of their dog bowls, or certain cleaning supplies. Dogs can also experience dust allergies, so be sure to often clean surfaces in your home.

If you spot fleas, ticks, or other pests on your dog’s skin, that might require separate treatments and shampoo. Your dog’s health is of paramount importance. If they’re experiencing other health issues or their itching doesn’t calm down, it is time to bring them to the vet.

How Do You Decide What Shampoo Is Best for Your Dog?

One remedy pet parents have to help their dogs overcome their itchy skin is a bath. As long as your dog is not scratching due to an infestation that requires its own special shampoo, you are best off using a product made to address itchiness.

Here are a few of our favorite brands and types of dog shampoo specifically formulated to soothe itchy skin:

1. Skout’s Honor

Skout’s Honor is a brand that is fully dedicated to dog wellness. They utilize probiotics to help your dog feel better, look better, and be better.

This shampoo contains beneficial ingredients such as avocado oil and topical probiotics. Skout’s Honor promotes a healthy microbiome, soothing your dog’s skin quickly.

2. Dog Shampoos Containing Oatmeal

Dog shampoos that contain oatmeal have been a go-to for itchy skin sufferers for many years. Pet parents and veterinarians both flock to this remarkable ingredient for its anti-inflammatory properties. Some of the itchiness and discomfort that dogs feel due to allergies or irritation comes from inflammation.

By utilizing oatmeal, a layer of moisture is also being locked into your dog’s skin, keeping them moisturized and comfortable for longer.

3. Dog Shampoos With Shea Butter

Not only does shea butter do wonders on a dog’s skin, but it also helps their fur look better than ever. Since shea butter is so moisturizing, it adds shine and luster to a dog’s coat as well. They will feel much better due to shea butter’s inherent soothing properties, but they will also look better (and smell oh-so-nice).

4. Dog Shampoos With Aloe Vera

Much like shea butter, aloe vera is a natural ingredient that has been used for centuries to treat dry skin. This ingredient is safe for humans as well as dogs, so both species can experience its soothing effects. According to research, aloe vera can improve dogs’ skin.

If your dog experiences allergies, gets dandruff in the winter, or simply experiences occasional itchiness, check out products with aloe vera.

6. Shampoos That Do Not Contain Dyes

Added dyes are generally only put in products for aesthetics and serve no actual purpose. In fact, rather than benefiting your dog, they can even lead to increased irritation. If your dog has sensitive skin, it is best to skip this unnecessary additive.

7. Formulas That Are Free of Parabens

Parabens are a nuisance for dogs, people, and creatures of any species. Due to this, products containing these pesky endocrine disruptors should be avoided whenever possible. Parabens are artificial preservatives used to increase the shelf life of a product, but they can do real harm in the process.

Parabens contribute to various possible ailments having to do with the production of hormones. Scientists are now suggesting that parabens negatively affect our dogs’ health.

All of this is to say that they are an ingredient that should be avoided at all costs. Parabens aren’t man’s best friend or dog’s best friend.

How Does Bathing Support Canine Health?

Even dogs who are not experiencing any skin discomfort can still benefit from the occasional bath. The process keeps them free of dirt and grime that could be irritating and makes them smell much better for their pet parents.

Giving your dog an occasional bath is just another way that you can help your dog thrive. The frequency and intensity of their spa treatments are contingent on regular activities, health conditions, and breed type.

Improving Your Dog’s Life With a Click

Bathing your dog is far from the only way that you can nurture your pet’s overall wellness. Dogs have natural instincts that tell them to chase, chew, and play.

For your dog to stay happy and healthy, these instincts have to be engaged. The KONG Club Monthly Subscription Box helps you and your dog do just that in a convenient and fun way.

Each box that you receive revolves around a building block of dog wellness that will help to keep them their best selves. They come complete with dog toys, treats, and recipes that will simultaneously keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated.

At the same time, you and your pet will also be strengthening your relationship while using these items.

Do Different Dogs Require Different Shampoos?

Not all dogs are built the same, so it stands to reason that some dogs would need specific kinds of shampoo. For example, if you look at a Pomeranian’s coat versus a Rottweiler’s, they are going to have completely different requirements. (That, and you are likely to go through much more shampoo with a Rottweiler.)

Puppies Often Need Special Shampoo Just for Them

Dog parents know that puppies require specific toys made just for puppies.

Not to make it about us all the time, but it’s not just puppies; children use their own kinds of shampoo too. Puppies (and children) often need shampoos that are specially formulated for them.

So what are the differences between dog shampoo for adults and puppy shampoo?

Well, puppy shampoos typically use gentler ingredients, as their skin might be more sensitive. The formulas are also more likely to be no-tear to avoid any discomfort.

Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs?

Nope! Human shampoo is not appropriate for dogs largely because of our skins’ different pH levels. Human skin has a pH balance of 5.5 to 5.6 and is more acidic than the pH of dogs’ skin which is a more neutral 6.2 to 7.4.

Human shampoo will wreak havoc on your dog’s acid mantle (the thin layer on top of the skin). It’s too harsh for our pooches. Luckily, unlike your hamburger, your dog won’t be begging for you to share your shampoo with them.

How Do You Bathe High-Shedding Dog Breeds?

One of the most effective ways to get ahead of the shedding process is to bathe your dog. By properly giving them a bath, you will remove any dirt and dead hair before it has the opportunity to fall out around the house. If you have a high-shedding dog with longer hair, tools can be beneficial to truly get the most out of bath time.

Use Tools To Ease the Process

Ease any knots or mats out of your dog’s hair before going into the bath. The brushing can still continue even after they are in the bath, as long as the right tool is used. Long-haired dogs can benefit greatly from using a brush to distribute the shampoo throughout their coats.

That is why KONG has the Zoomgroom™ Boysenberry to massage your dog’s skin and promote natural oil production. These natural oils moisturize your pet, easing discomfort from itchiness. The massage will help them feel better, just like an extra-special cuddle session.

An Itch To Scratch

If you think that your dog is suffering from dry or itchy skin, you might not know what your next steps should be. After identifying redness, dryness, or irritation on the skin, a soothing bath can be just what the veterinarian ordered.

Use the right kinds of shampoo with proper ingredients and the right tools in the process. Once you do, your dog will be feeling better before you know it.

Sources:

The Therapeutic Efficacy of Aloe vera Gel Ointment on Staphylococcal Pyoderma in Dogs – PMC | National Institutes of Health

Study Links Skin Allergies in Dogs to Problem Behaviors | American Veterinary Medical Association

Biomonitoring Parabens in Dogs Using Fur Sample Analysis | ScienceDirect

Evaluation of the effect of pH on in vitro growth of Malassezia pachydermatis | NCBI

Spaying & Neutering: Everything You Need To Know

As your puppy grows, they go through a lot of hormonal changes. With this comes the question of when to fix your dog. This is an important decision to make and one that’s part of being a responsible dog owner. The only problem is, there’s a lot of information out there about when to spay or neuter your pup that can make it tough to know if you’re making the right choice. Here are a few factors to consider when you’re looking into neutering or spaying your dog.

Gender

Your dog’s gender can have a big impact on what age you decide to neuter. For female dogs, getting fixed at a younger age is beneficial for a few different reasons. One, she won’t go into heat and attract the attention of other males, leading to a possible accidental pregnancy. Two, you won’t have to deal with periods. Female dogs can go into heat as early as 6 months or as late as 12 months. Generally, vets recommend letting your pup have one heat cycle before fixing them.

For male dogs, you can fix them between 6 and 9 months. However, many experts advise fixing your dog later for a variety of reasons, such as breed, size, and more. So it’s best to get your dog checked out by a licensed veterinarian before making this decision.

Breed

Another consideration in your decision is what kind of dog you own. There are certain health concerns that are specific to each breed, which is why it’s important to both talk to your vet and research how spay and neutering might affect your dog’s specific breed. For instance, when it comes to larger breeds, many vets and other experts recommend waiting one and a half or two years to fix your dog to allow their growth plates to close. If neutered or spayed before this time, your dog may be more prone to joint problems. There could also be an increase in risk for cancer if the procedure is done before that age.

Medical Benefits

There are some general medical benefits that your dog may gain from getting spayed or neutered. Male dogs are less likely to get prostate cancer, while female dogs are less at risk for mammary tumors and uterus infections.

Behavioral Benefits

If you’re frustrated with your dog’s behavior, there is a chance that neutering or spaying them may help. For male dogs in particular, there can be some frustrating side effects of their hormones — like wanting to roam, humping, marking inside the house, or aggression toward other male dogs. Some of these issues can be solved with quick corrections and better training, but in some cases, neutering can be a good choice to help alleviate these issues.

Just know that not all behavioral problems will be solved by simply neutering. If your male dog still shows aggression after being neutered, they may need help working through that with your or a professional trainer.

Summary

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to neutering and spaying. Every dog is unique, which means that you’ll benefit from doing breed research online and consulting with at least one vet to know when the right age is to neuter or spay, or if you want to go that route at all. At the end of the day, all we want is for our pets to be their happiest and healthiest selves. Reach out to the vets in your KONG Club app for information and advice about spaying or neutering your dog

Dog Licking & Chewing Paws: What It Means & When to Worry

Dog cleaning his paw

Dogs’ paws are absolutely adorable. Ask any dog owner past, present, or future, and they are sure to give you the same answer. You could even ask anyone on one of the nearly countless dog-obsessed groups online.

In fact, many of those groups are specifically dedicated to dogs’ paws. We think of those adorable paws as super sturdy. After all, not many dogs wear shoes. However, these paws can be more fragile than some would assume. As such, it is important to keep an eye out if their behavior toward their paws seems out of the ordinary.

If you are used to witnessing your dog occasionally groom their paws but largely leave them alone, it might seem jarring if they suddenly begin to pay much more attention to them. Understandably, this could serve as somewhat of a cause for alarm for concerned pet parents. Remember during this time that a dog licking and chewing their paws could come from a whole host of different causes and signify many possibilities.

A dog who enjoys regularly licking and chewing on their paws could mean any number of things. For one, it is possible that this habit means absolutely nothing.

On the other hand, it is also a possibility that your dog’s behavior could be an indicator of a health concern. So, before you determine exactly what is causing your dog to lick and chew at their paws so frequently, you need to ask a few integral questions.

Let’s discuss what to look for and how to help our furry friends.

Is It Normal for a Dog To Lick and Chew Their Paws?

The answer is that yes, it can be perfectly normal and expected for dogs to lick and chew their pads. That being said, this behavior can become abnormal and a cause for concern if it becomes overly frequent.

As pet parents, it’s a joy for us to watch our pets go about their daily lives. Luckily, this helps our pets too. Watching our pets helps ensure they are hydrated, mentally stimulated, and are healthy overall.

It is only by knowing their average rituals when they are feeling perfectly healthy that you can best identify any and all changes. By being attentive and aware of how your dog acts regularly, you will know that your questions regarding their new state are warranted.

This way, you will also be much better equipped to give a thorough background of your dog’s medical history, which can be immensely helpful for their veterinarian.

What Should You Look Out for When Your Dog Is Licking and Chewing Their Paws?

Since it is entirely possible for licking and chewing of the paws to be an unremarkable behavior for dogs, you should know when to start to feel concerned.

To start, be sure to consider if this is something new that your dog has just recently picked up or if they have always done this. 

Secondly, it is helpful to pay attention to the frequency with which your dog licks their paws. If your pet has started chewing on them significantly more than they used to, that could also be a cause for concern.

Another indicator of something possibly being wrong with your dog’s paws is if they pay much more attention to one than the other. Also, if you hear your dog whining or making other noises while dealing with their paws, that could mean they are experiencing some pain or discomfort.

Is This a New Behavior?

Just to review, if your dog regularly grooms themself, it is possible that this is simply how your dog likes to operate. That being said, it is also possible that more frequent attention to the paws is the result of a chronic issue that should be addressed.

Grab a notebook and start keeping track of these changes; this will be super helpful information for your veterinarian if you need to ask for professional advice.

If your dog has only just now started licking and chewing their paws, it might seem more straightforward that something is amiss. Now, you must determine where the motivation behind this new behavior lies. This evidence will be key in improving your dog’s day-to-day life.

Grooming 

The first possibility of why your dog is licking and chewing their paws is quite a simple one. Dogs (and cats) groom themselves to keep themselves clean.

A Self-Soothing Mechanism

If your dog is experiencing stress, you might notice them licking their paws. This behavior can be calming, so just try to identify the source of the stress and remove it if possible.

It is also possible that your dog is licking their paws out of boredom. If this is the case, look for dog toys that offer mental stimulation, like interactive and treat dispensing toys. An occupied dog is a happy dog.

Experiencing Allergies

It’s not just us humans who are prone to experiencing allergies. In reality, allergies can bother a wide range of the animal kingdom.

Animals can absolutely have allergies, and this includes dogs. Like humans, a dog’s allergies are caused by the immune system going haywire when exposed to certain allergens. 

There is no special reason that one dog might be allergic to something while other dogs have no issue with it. Some pet parents worry that they somehow caused their dog to have this allergy, but that is not true.

Instead, whether or not your dog has allergies is really just the luck of the draw. Dogs can develop an allergy or food intolerance at any age throughout their lives, but the first reaction is typically seen between the ages of one and five. 

While your actions do not have any sway on your dog’s potential allergies, their genetics play a substantial role. As a result, there are certain dog breeds that are particularly likely to experience allergic reactions. For instance, Labrador Retrievers, English Bulldogs, Pit Bulls, West Highland White Terriers, Golden Retrievers, and French Bulldogs are all prone to having allergies.

There are also certain allergens that are more likely to cause a reaction. Here are some of the most common contenders:

Pollen and Grass

While pollen and grass are likely unavoidable on most walks with your dog, they can still cause allergies to flare up. Since your dog’s paws will often touch the grass, any allergies relating to that natural material are likely to manifest there.

Dust and Storage Mites

Even if the allergen that your dog comes into contact with does not touch their paws specifically, it is still possible that they will experience symptoms in that area.

In fact, itchy paws are one of the most common signs of allergies in dogs. If your home is dusty or could use a clean, your dog may have some discomfort as a result.

Mold

Breathing in mold is bad for anyone of any species, but it can also cause allergy symptoms to flare up in your dog. If they are suddenly licking and chewing at their paws much more than they did previously, it might be time to give your home a deep cleaning. Some mold types may require professional removal services.

However, it is important to note that many mold allergies are ubiquitous, meaning that they can exist both indoors and outdoors. So, it could be prudent to have a professional give your home and backyard a thorough inspection.

Household Cleaners or Detergents

While a deep cleaning can be beneficial for many different sources of dog allergies, make sure that the cleaner you are using is not the culprit.

It is possible that whatever detergent or household cleaner you use is causing discomfort. If you recently switched over to a new cleaner or formula, it might be time to switch back.

Their Food

Since so many of the common human allergens are found within the food that we eat, it is natural to assume that this might be the case for dogs as well. In reality, however, only between 10% and 20% of dogs with allergies are allergic to something in their food. 

The vast majority of the time, something else is the issue. If food appears to be the issue, you will need to perform a food test. Your vet may recommend a limited ingredient diet to try to isolate which food is upsetting your pup (the protein source is most often to blame).

A Skin Infection

Other than allergies, the cause of your dog’s itchy paws may be a skin infection.  Skin that has become infected may become red, swollen, warm to the touch, and may have brown or yellow discharge.

Bacteria and yeast will gladly multiply with help from the warmth and moisture of your dog’s licking and chewing. All of that licking and chewing opens up more holes in your dog’s skin barrier, allowing bacteria and yeast under the surface. Once under the skin, bacteria and yeast flourish and cause even more itchiness, redness, and discomfort.

Nails and Pads

Taking a quick look at your dog’s nails can be very enlightening. If their nails or paw pads appear inflamed or ingrown, that is something that could cause a lot of discomfort. Cutting your pet’s nails is a critical aspect of pet health. Additionally, you should be regularly checking their paw pads for inflammation or foreign objects.

Fungus Can Cause Itchiness

Fungus such as ringworm often cause discomfort and itchiness that centers around your dog’s paws. If you suspect your dog may have come in contact with such a fungus, it’s time to call your vet faster than a Golden Retriever chasing a tennis ball. (Keep in mind that ringworm is not actually a worm at all.)

Pet Care without a Pause

If you have determined that your dog is licking their paws too often to be normal, it is likely time to ring your vet.

This is where the licensed veterinarians at AskVet can help. Download the KONG Club app to reach out to the AskVet team, available 24/7. For all your pet-related questions, our team of vets, animal behaviorists, and animal nutritionists are only a click away, so your pet can get whatever they need whenever they need it.

Sources:

Long-Term Stress Levels Are Synchronized in Dogs and Their Owners | Scientific Reports

Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and Challenges | National Library of Medicine

Recent Understandings of Pet Allergies | National Library of Medicine

Mold and Health | EPA

What To Look For in Diabetic Dog Food

Woman feeding her cute dog a pet snack at home

The moment that your trusted vet informs you that your dog is diabetic is often one of concern, as well as some possibly overwhelming feelings. Are you ready to handle this? Is diabetes difficult to manage in dogs? Is your dog currently in any pain?

It is always hard to hear that your dog’s health is anything other than perfect. However, this is when it is crucial to remember that diabetes in dogs is absolutely treatable. With some slight lifestyle changes for both you and your dog, they will be feeling more like their normal selves in no time.

There are multiple steps involved in proper regulation for dogs with diabetes. First, discuss your pet’s condition with a qualified vet. A common recommendation is that a steady routine consisting of two daily insulin shots as well as some dietary changes is best. This will not necessarily be the case for every dog.

These variations in dog care requirements makes access to a veterinary professional so important.

What Is Canine Diabetes?

Diabetes in dogs is a bit different than typical diabetes in humans. Where diabetes in people is broken up into either type 1 or type 2, dogs typically experience a type of diabetes mellitus that has more similarities to type 1. This kind is referred to as “insulin deficiency diabetes.”

Interestingly, this kind of canine diabetes shares so many notable similarities to diabetes in people. Some scientists are using the naturally occurring disease in dogs to help both people and our canine friends alike.

On the other hand, dogs may also experience a type of diabetes that is less common than type 1 in humans. This is referred to as “insulin resistance diabetes.” It is possible that those with this type of diabetes may have another underlying cause of their diabetes. Both types can go into diabetic remission, but it is generally more common for insulin deficiency diabetes.

In essence, diabetes is characterized by an improper creation or reaction to insulin within your dog’s body. Insulin is important as it is used to regulate blood sugar, also referred to as glucose levels. Both humans and dogs get glucose through our food. The insulin then works to transfer it from the blood into the cells, allowing it to become energy. 

What Is Hyperglycemia?

Without proper levels of insulin, glucose cannot complete the transferral process where it moves from the bloodstream to the cells. Instead, it remains in the bloodstream and builds up. Eventually, this may lead to hyperglycemia (an overabundance of glucose in the blood).

Hyperglycemia can lead to a variety of long-term effects that can be dangerous to your dog if left unchecked. Meanwhile, hyperglycemia also manifests as fairly noticeable short-term symptoms that typically serve as the first clues for pet owners that perhaps their dog is in need of a check-up.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs?

So far, you have a working knowledge of what exactly diabetes mellitus is and how it affects a dog’s inner workings. Now, it’s time to discuss what signs and symptoms to look out for. Once you recognize these symptoms, make sure to ask a licensed veterinary professional for their qualified opinion.

Elevated Hunger

Since diabetes results in energy not getting to cells, dogs will often feel incredibly hungry regardless of how much they have eaten.

Essentially, the food is not serving its necessary purpose of fueling the body, so your dog will always feel the need to eat more. If you notice your dog has a significantly higher than usual appetite, this could potentially be one of the first signs of diabetes in your dog.

That being said, many dogs will eat whenever given food and seemingly love nothing more than to whine until mealtime comes around. If you have a dog who is already a voracious eater, then this last sign might not be as helpful or noteworthy for you. Luckily, there are some other, more noticeable symptoms to keep an eye out for.

Increased Thirst

This symptom is also seen in many humans with diabetes, but it is entirely possible that you will notice a substantial increase in your dog’s thirst.

In turn, you may also see an increase in how often they have to urinate, as well as how much. These signs are common in diabetes mellitus because the extra sugar in the blood has to be removed from the body somehow. 

Extra Potty Breaks

Rather than being used for energy, how it should be, instead the excess of glucose is dealt with by the kidneys. It is then converted into urine, which can also lead to dehydration and above-average thirst.

If you notice your dog drinking and peeing significantly more than usual without any real cause, it is likely a good idea to take them into the vet’s office.

Weight Changes

Since they are burning through this energy without actually processing it, diabetic dogs can also lose weight even though they are eating more. It is also possible that some dogs could display a decreased appetite at certain stages of their illness. Cloudy eyes can also indicate diabetes in dogs, as can recurring infections.

Some of these symptoms are more noticeable than others. By keeping a close eye on your dog, their habits, and how they are possibly deviating from their normal behaviors, you should be able to see if they are displaying typical signs of diabetes.

Which Food Is Safe for Diabetic Dogs To Eat?

There are perhaps two most important considerations when it comes to determining the best new food for your diabetic dog.

The first of these is the amount of carbohydrates within the food. Second, other than the carb content, the ideal food for your diabetic dog will also be high in fiber.

Look for a Food That Is Low in Carbs

The intake of carbohydrates should be kept to a minimum for diabetics of any species (dogs, cats, humans, etc.) because they can cause blood sugar to spike. Carbs are converted to glucose within the body, so eating too many of them can lead to increased blood sugar levels, which is exactly what should be avoided for diabetic dogs.

Ingredients high in carbs or glucose should be avoided. It is always the best practice to avoid foods that contain corn syrup, sugar, or honey. These will always lead to spikes in blood sugar, so they can be harmful.

Their Food Should Be High in Fiber

While carb content is necessary for finding the proper food for your diabetic dog, it is not the only factor. Actually, clinical studies have found that foods high in insoluble fiber may provide even more benefits than especially low carb counts. 

Insoluble fibers are those that cannot be dissolved in water, also known as “bulking fibers.” These kinds of fibers are so helpful for dogs with diabetes because they slow the digestion process.

While slowing the digestion process might not immediately sound like a benefit, this means that they also lead to a slower absorption of carbohydrates. As a result, dogs will be much less prone to blood sugar spikes due to carbs. Instead, these carbs will be absorbed into the body steadily, rather than all at once: All because of these insoluble fibers!

Does My Dog Need To Go on a Prescription Diet?

The truth is that whether or not your specific dog would do best on a prescription diet especially created for diabetes will depend on a variety of factors. This is when discussing with a veterinarian is absolutely critical.

In some cases, your dog may do well with another type of food that is low in carbs and high in fiber but may not necessarily be formulated specifically for diabetes. Be sure to speak to a vet to decide the exact right amount of food to feed your dog.

Diabetic Dogs Can Live Happy, Healthy Lives

The initial diagnosis of diabetes mellitus in your dog can feel like a blow to the stomach, but many dog owners are pleasantly surprised by just how quickly this upkeep becomes a part of the routine.

Diabetic dogs can absolutely live happy and healthy lives. All it takes is a little bit of extra preparation on your part, as well as an understanding that crafting the perfect treatment plan may take some time.

In addition, diabetes is often changing in pets, so trips to the vet will become more frequent than they previously were in order to keep everything stable. Diet is a crucial part of your diabetic dog’s regulation, so make sure to do your research to find a food that your dog enjoys and also keeps them healthy.

People often say that it takes a village to raise a child. The same can be said for raising dogs! That’s why with the KONG Club app, you can speak to the AskVet licensed veterinarians at any time of the day or night.

After all, especially toward the beginning of you and your dog’s journey with diabetes, questions do not just pop up during regular business hours. Having this reliable and professional resource at your disposal helps to remind you that you are not in this alone. 

 

Sources:

Move Over Mice, Canines May Be Next in Line To Study Diabetes | University of Florida

What’s the Best Diet for My Dog With Diabetes? | Tufts.edu

Diabetes Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats | American Animal Hospital Association

Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet | Mayo Clinic

Pododermatitis in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Happy dog doing high five

If you have ever seen your pup biting at their paws? Have their poor paws been inflamed, swollen, or otherwise angry-looking? If your dog has ever had trouble with their paws, pododermatitis may be to blame. 

What Is Pododermatitis?

Pododermatitis isn’t just an ailment by itself. It is a catch-all for inflammation of your dog’s paws and the skin around their paws, nails, and pads. It can be caused by a number of reasons, like allergies, infections, or diseases. It might be difficult to treat as there are a multitude of reasons why your dog’s paws are looking so painful, and a diagnosis may not be crystal clear.

You can compare this to having an upset stomach. You recognize that your stomach hurts, but you may not know the exact reason why. Are you coming down with a stomach bug or food poisoning? Maybe it’s appendicitis? Or could it just be gas?

As you can see, there could be a number of causes with varying severities for your stomach to hurt — the same idea with pododermatitis. 

Let’s discuss this condition, how to recognize it, and when to ask for help. 

Symptoms of Pododermatitis

Multiple symptoms might suggest Pododermatitis. Your dog’s symptoms will likely all depend on what is causing the pododermatitis and how severe it has gotten. One of the most tell-tale signs is if your dog is licking or biting at their paws. 

The skin between their toes may be infected, as well as the skin between paw pads and where their nails grow. Your dog may have open sores on their paws, and it can be a varying combination of how many sores are on each paw. 

You may also see hair loss on their paws, as well as redness and swelling of the pads. Depending on the severity of the infection, you may even see bleeding and discharge. 

These symptoms can show on just one paw, all of their paws, or a combination. Your dog may not be able to walk on one or more of their paws as they may be tender and painful to put weight on, and your dog may be rendered lame. 

Causes of Pododermatitis

As mentioned, there are multiple causes of pododermatitis. Some may be more mild, like allergies, while other causes may be a little more serious and require specialized treatment. Let’s look at a few of the different reasons why your dog could be experiencing pododermatitis. 

Allergies

If you’ve recently moved to a new area and your dog likes to play or roam outside, they could be allergic to the grass or other outside matter. The season can also have an impact on what plants are growing outside, and your dog could be allergic to one certain plant or pollen.

This may cause your dog’s paws to become inflamed only during the fall or spring. Your dog’s diet may also be the culprit, especially if you noticed any symptoms after you changed their food. Common food allergens for dogs include fillers and even frequently-used meats, including chicken.

Parasites

Demodex is a parasitic mite that can be found on the fur of your dog’s paws. When it comes to pododermatitis being caused by a parasite, Demodex is usually the cause.

If present in large numbers can cause bleeding and swelling of your dog’s paws. Demodex can be difficult to get rid of, but there are multiple treatments that your vet can recommend, like antibiotics or medicated dips. 

Infection

If your dog has gotten a deep cut on their paw, numerous types of bacteria can enter the cut and cause pododermatitis. Symptoms attributed to infection are swollen, bleeding areas in between the toes. 

Hormonal

Hormone issues, like hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) or Cushing’s disease, can prevent your dog’s immune system from fighting off infections. Your dog would then likely be more susceptible to bacteria-causing pododermatitis. 

Weight Changes

If your dog is overweight, their paws may struggle to their weight equally. The paws may be supporting an unequal load and the paws that are under more stress may start to become inflamed.

The shorter hair follicles cause this inflammation in the paw to be ingrown. This becomes a vicious cycle of inflammation and infection. 

Diagnosis

Anytime you see symptoms or your dog’s paws are in not so great condition, you will definitely want to consult your vet. 

Trying to diagnose the reason behind the pododermatitis can be the hardest part. There are so many culprits that could be causing your dog’s paws to be in the shape they are in. Your veterinarian will likely pluck hair from around the paw area and will also take some skin scrapings to see if they can detect the presence of bacteria or parasites. 

If an infection is believed to be the cause, swabs of the areas will be taken to see if any bacteria can be detected. Allergy testing may also be conducted if there is a clear pattern to the symptoms (only during particular months or visiting certain areas).

Blood tests may be necessary if your veterinarian believes the cause to be hormonal or caused by an immune disorder. You’ll also likely answer questions about your dog’s health history, including their diet and any previous health issues. 

How To Treat Pododermatitis

The type of treatment your dog receives is based on what diagnosis is made as to what the root cause of the pododermatitis is. 

If the pododermatitis is caused by allergies that your dog may have to the surrounding environment, this will be an ongoing treatment as your dog will still need to go outside to use the bathroom, go on walks, and play.

This will likely become a proactive plan, with wiping or washing off your dog’s paws when you come inside and applying any medication when their paws look to be a little inflamed. If your dog allows it, it may be helpful for them to wear booties over their paws for protection from the allergen.

Pododermatitis caused by parasites (more than likely by Demodex) can be hard to eradicate from your dog’s paws. Your veterinarian will come up with a care plan and will want to schedule frequent rechecks to ensure all of the mites are gone. There may be multiple treatments planned just in case the first few do not work. 

Treatment With Medication: Oral and Topical

If there is any infection present in your dog’s paws, they will be prescribed antibiotics and possibly antifungals until the infection clears up. The medication type, dosage, and use will depend on the type of bacteria detected from any swabs taken.

You may also be given topical treatments, like medicated creams or foams to apply to your dog’s paws to help soothe any inflammation and bleeding. 

Suspected hormonal problems may need to be controlled with medications and rechecks to make sure that blood work is showing an improvement with prescribed medications. Other medications may be prescribed to help with any inflammation or itching. 

Treatment With Lifestyle Changes

If your dog’s pododermatitis is caused by weight, a diet plan is likely to be recommended. Your dog will unlikely be able to exercise while their paws are in bad shape. Once they lose some weight and take some load off of their paws, the veterinarian may then give the all-clear for doggie shenanigans to commence once more. 

While your dog’s paws are healing, they may need to wear a cone so they cannot bite at their feet. This would be a great time to give your dog toys to help them take their mind off of their paws and more on their toys.

If your dog is unable to interact with the toy while their cone is on, carefully keep an eye on them while they play with the toy with the cone off. Puzzle toys with tasty treats inside will be sure to keep your dog focused on the toy and not their paws. Never leave your dog unattended if you remove their cone.

Luckily, there are many types of cones; some dogs prefer blow-up donut-shaped cones to the hard plastic. Some tolerate see-through cones better, and others like the blue, soft fabric ones.

Taking a Pause To Heal Their Paws

It can be so hard to see when your furry friend is in bad shape, especially when it comes to their paws. Happy tippy taps, after-bath zoomies, and fun afternoon walks are all affected when your dog is dealing with pododermatitis. Not even to mention the worry you may have when the underlying cause has not been diagnosed yet. 

Downloading the KONG Club app to reach out to an AskVet veterinarian is a great place to start. Your AskVet veterinarian can help with initial questions and may create a plan for your dog. They are always available to chat, so you can voice any concerns you may have at any time of day or night. 

 

Sources:

Canine pododermatitis | NCBI

Demodicosis most common underlying cause of persistent pododermatitis | DVM360

Managing chronic pododermatitis | Veterinary Ireland Journal

Demodex | LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital

How To Brush Your Cat’s Teeth Effectively

Striped tabby cat giving a big yawn

As all cat owners are aware, it’s your cat’s world, and we just live in it. As a fantastic cat parent, you already provide good nutrition, care, and love to your cat. One important aspect of your cat’s health is brushing your cat’s teeth to keep them well and healthy.

Oral health is important as keeping your pet’s mouth healthy is crucial to overall health. Many health issues can be linked to poor oral hygiene. In fact, more than 70 percent of cats have developed periodontal disease by the time they are three years old. 

Periodontal disease causes the gums to become inflamed and infected. The gums can recede, which causes the teeth to loosen and eventually fall out. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through infected gums and open wounds from missing teeth. This can cause mild to severe health issues. Not to mention, tooth pain is awful for anyone.

No matter if you have a kitten or an adult cat, you can start to brush your cat’s teeth at any age. It may take a little training, patience, and treats, but soon enough, your cat’s teeth will be the picture of health.

Cat Oral Health

It is critical for cats to receive oral health care as their mouth is a vital part of their everyday life. Not only do cats need their mouth to eat, drink, and communicate, but they also need their mouth to groom themselves. Playful cats also like to chase and chew on treats and other toys, and if their mouth hurts, they will not be able to participate in enjoyable and stimulating activities.

If your cat is having oral health problems, you may see some of these symptoms:

Bad breath – could be indicative of an infection.

Dull coat – if your cat’s mouth is in pain, they will not want to groom themselves.

Decreased appetite – eating is not pleasant if you have any type of tooth or mouth pain. This reduction in food intake can cause weight loss.

A change in eating habits – do you see dropped food on the floor, or maybe your cat is favoring one side of their mouth when eating? These signs could mean tooth pain and that they are avoiding that area.

If you see any or a combination of these symptoms, schedule a visit with your veterinarian right away for care and preventative recommendations to avoid any mouth problems in the future. Of course, brushing your cat’s teeth is the best preventative care there is.

Supplies

You will need to use particular supplies to brush your cat’s teeth, as human oral care products are not designed for animal use. Our toothbrushes are too hard for them, and the fluoride in human toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed in large amounts and could be dangerous if ingested. Always use caution with Flouride — it is dangerous to consume excess quantities for both children and animals.

When you are first training your kitten or cat to become accustomed to teeth brushing, you can use a special finger brush. This textured brush slides over the tip of your finger and cleans your cat’s teeth and gums to help start the process of toothbrush training.

In lieu of a finger brush, you can use gauze wrapped around your finger. Use caution when you have your fingers near your cat’s mouth, as your cat may be tempted to bite down on your finger.

As your pet becomes more used to brushing, you can start to switch over to a specially designed cat toothbrush. You can also use a small baby toothbrush (the one exception to using human products), but make sure that the bristles are very soft.

If you have more than one cat, make sure each cat has their own toothbrush. Individual toothbrushes are vital to avoid spreading illness or unique mouth bacteria.  

Pet toothpaste is designed for dogs and cats and is different from human toothpaste. Pet toothpaste is designed to be more palatable for our pets in flavors that they enjoy, like chicken, peanut butter, or beef. Unlike human toothpaste that contains fluoride, it is okay if your cat swallows their toothpaste.

Toothbrush Training

It is not likely that your cat is going to accept teeth brushing right away. You’ll need to train your cat to cooperate when you are brushing their teeth, and making it a positive experience is the best way to do this.

A negative experience is more likely to end with hissing, scratches, and other undesirable behavior. The key to brushing your cat’s teeth is to keep things positive. Your cat should associate this act with treats and love from you. 

The younger your cat is, the easier it may be for them to get used to having their teeth brushed regularly. Older cats do take longer to become used to teeth brushing, but with plenty of patience, love, and consistency, you can make lengths in incorporating regular teeth brushing in your cat’s routine.

While the training process may vary in time depending on your cat’s age, expect around four weeks of time dedicated to getting your cat used to having their teeth brushed. Give each step time, and don’t try to rush two steps in a day. Keep it slow and positive.

How To Toothbrush Train

Let’s take a look at the training process: 

Step One

First, you’ll want to persuade your cat with tooth brushing by showing how tasty their toothpaste is. Put some of the toothpaste on your finger, and allow your cat to lick it off. 

Once they lick it off, you may want to offer a treat to show that this is something you want them to keep doing. You can try different types of cat toothpaste to see if they have a particular favorite.

Step Two

Once your cat has a taste for their toothpaste, you can gently start to massage the toothpaste onto their gums and teeth. Offer lots of treats during this phase, and slowly increase the time you rub their gums and teeth with the toothpaste.

Step Three

Now that your cat is used to having their gums and teeth rubbed with toothpaste, you can introduce the finger brush or gauze around your finger. Apply the toothpaste to this material and then massage their gums and teeth.

Again, offer lots of treats and loving words during this phase. Take it slow and gradually increase the amount of time you brush every day. 

Step Four

Now here comes the big test, adding in the actual toothbrush. Just let your cat lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush at first while still using the finger brush or gauze. A positive introduction to the toothbrush is critical. Spread this out over a couple of days. ”                         +6bvc

After using the finger brush and gauze, gently insert the toothbrush into your cat’s mouth for a short time. Again, gradually decreasing the finger brush/gauze and increasing the amount of time with the toothbrush. Again, lots of praise and treats for your cat.

Step Five

Celebrate! Now that your cat is used to having their teeth brushed, gradually increase the number of times you brush their teeth in a week. Consistency is key, and if you can only get your cat to comply with a few brushings per week, this is a win for everyone.

Additional Resources

We know that if our cat does not like something, they will not have it! Sometimes our cats don’t like having their teeth brushed every day or multiple times a week. Any amount of brushing is better than no brushing at all, but there are also some additional products you can use to try to increase your cat’s oral health.

Certain food brands are designed to increase oral health in cats. There are also special additives that can be added to water to decrease the amount of plaque present on teeth. Feline dental treats are made to be abrasive enough to the surface of your cat’s teeth to remove plaque and freshen breath. Your vet will be able to better advise you on what you can incorporate to your feline’s lifestyle to protect their dental health.

When looking for food, treats, or additives to include in your cat’s oral health regimen, refer to the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) to ensure that the products you are using have been recognized to reduce periodontal disease in pets. 

The Bottom Line

Training your cat to become accustomed to having their teeth brushed is one of the most beneficial things you can do for their health. Stinky breath is improved, and overall health can be increased when oral care is performed regularly. Although it may take longer to train an adult cat, the end result is that your cat will be healthier by having regular teeth cleanings.

Our knowledgeable and friendly veterinarians at AskVets can answer any questions you may have about teeth brushing and oral care for your feline friend. Our passion is ensuring your pet’s overall health and wellbeing, and we are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to assist with any concerns you may have.

 

Source:

Protect Your Pet’s Teeth: Top Tips from a Veterinary Dentist | UW School of Veterinary Medicine

Dental Care | Animal Health Topics | School of Veterinary Medicine

About Veterinary Oral Health Council | VOHC 

Toothpaste overdose Information | Mount Sinai – New York

Cushing’s Disease in Dogs and How It’s Treated

Sweet pup

Receiving a diagnosis that impacts your dog’s health is never an easy conversation. After getting over the initial shock, there are an abundance of questions that most pet parents are bound to have.

Remember that your dog’s vet is used to these questions, they are prepared to answer them thoroughly and fully, and no question is off the table. After all, they have almost certainly heard stranger questions before.

This conversation can be a difficult one regardless of the diagnosis and long-term management, but in the case of Cushing’s Disease, there is good news.

Cushing’s Disease/Cushing’s Syndrome can be treated effectively. While it will necessitate a slight change in both your and your dog’s lifestyles, there are still many happy years together to be had.

What Is Cushing’s Disease?

Cushing’s Disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, occurs when too much of the stress hormone (called cortisol) is released into the body. This happens because a dog’s adrenal glands are overactive, and are producing excess cortisol.

What Is Cortisol and Why Is It Important?

Cortisol is a hormone present in both dogs and humans, and it serves many deeply important functions in each. As a stress hormone, cortisol helps to regulate feelings of stress and perceived danger in the body. This hormone also aids in regulating a dog’s metabolism, blood sugar, blood pressure, immune system, and combats inflammation. 

What Are the Different Types of Cushing’s Disease That a Dog Can Experience?

There are several different types of Cushing’s Disease that your dog can experience, and each of them will lead to a slightly different treatment plan to ensure the best possible results.

These three kinds each originate from different sources, but they have the same general end result. As such, they are all still characterized as Cushing’s Disease and require a treatment plan created by you and your dog’s veterinarian. 

Cushing’s Disease Caused by a Pituitary Gland Tumor

Pituitary Dependent Cushing’s Disease is by far the most common form that dogs experience. Between 80% and 85% of dogs will have this type of Cushing’s. The pituitary gland is a small, pea-sized gland that sits near the base of the brain. This pituitary tumor disrupts the natural processes that allow the pituitary gland to perform its normal functions.

The word “tumor” can be a scary one, but in this case, they are generally benign (non-cancerous). The main problem that they cause is the disruption of typical cortisol production.

In healthy dogs, the pituitary gland registers how much cortisol is currently found in the blood. If there is not enough, then the gland will communicate that more cortisol has to be produced.

From there, the adrenal glands will produce more cortisol. If the pituitary gland’s gauge of cortisol levels in the bloodstream is off, it can lead to overproduction of the hormone, leading to Cushing’s Disease.

This type is typically operated on in humans to remove the tumor, but this is not common practice in dogs. This canine form is generally treated with medications. 

Cushing’s Disease Caused by an Adrenal Gland Tumor

The second form of Cushing’s Disease is less common than the pituitary-dependent kind. Still, it’s a possibility that both you and your dog’s vet should be aware of. The adrenal glands are located atop a dog’s kidneys, and there are two of them.

In this scenario, rather than the overproduction of cortisol being a direct result of faulty messaging from the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands are directly the cause. Remember that adrenal function tests might produce false positives.

If an adrenal tumor is the cause of your dog’s Cushing’s Disease, then surgery to remove it may be an option, or medication could still be the best route. Be sure to discuss this with your vet to determine the most effective treatment plan.

Iatrogenic Cushing’s Disease

Iatrogenic Cushing’s Disease often occurs in smaller toy breeds, but that is not always the case. This type is triggered by prolonged steroid use in your dog (a steroid likely meant to treat another condition).

The way to treat Iatrogenic Cushing’s Disease is by tapering off and eliminating the original steroid. Unfortunately, this may cause symptoms of whatever the steroid was treating to return.

What Are the Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs?

The symptoms of Cushing’s Disease are caused by the overproduction of cortisol. Since cortisol has so many different, integral uses within the body, these symptoms can cover a variety of areas.

Your dog’s symptoms may include:

  • Hair loss 
  • Skin thinning
  • A swollen abdomen or stomach, creating a “pot belly appearance”
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Elevated appetite
  • Is often tired or shows signs of lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Prone to skin infections
  • Panting more than usual

A dog with Cushing’s Disease may display one or several of these symptoms, but it is always important as pet parents to be on the lookout for changes or adjustments in their usual routines and behaviors.

Note that bladder stones, gastrointestinal diseases, and chronic inflammatory liver disease can present with similar clinical signs.

How Is a Dog Diagnosed With Cushing’s Disease?

If a dog is suspected of having Cushing’s Disease, some of the most common means of reaching a diagnosis are through blood tests, a full chemistry panel, and a urine culture. 

Having a dog’s blood work done as well as performing a urinalysis can be very enlightening regarding the next steps, but often more tests are required, in addition to the physical exam. If a tumor of the adrenal gland is suspected, an ultrasound will likely be performed to confirm or deny that possibility.

A urine cortisol/creatinine ratio test is also commonly given. If this ratio is found to be within normal limits, it is likely that a dog does not have Cushing’s.

An ACTH stimulation test may also be performed. ACTH is how the pituitary gland communicates the need for more cortisol to the adrenal glands, so manually administering ACTH can be very helpful to see how your dog’s body reacts. Keep in mind that it is possible that this test can lead to false negatives. 

Your dog’s vet will suggest what tests they think would be the most useful in finding a diagnosis, but it is entirely likely that more than one test will be recommended. This increases confidence in the diagnosis and can make the treatment path that much clearer.

Which Dogs Are More Likely To Get Cushing’s Disease?

Cushing’s Disease can be naturally occurring (such as when it is pituitary-dependent and adrenal dependent), or it can be the result of outside factors (Iatrogenic Cushing’s Disease).

It is more common for naturally occurring varieties of the disease to afflict middle-aged to senior dogs, generally being noticed in those aged six and above. Hyperadrenocorticism is also somewhat more common in female dogs, especially those who have been neutered.

What Can Happen if Cushing’s Disease Is Left Untreated?

It is important to form and stick to a treatment plan when it comes to Cushing’s Disease, or else there can be lasting side effects.

If the symptoms are ignored, then these dogs can become more likely to develop issues such as diabetes, lasting kidney damage, high blood pressure, and blood clots.

How To Treat Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

Cushing’s Disease is typically treated through medication, but it is possible that surgery could be involved as well. This will depend on your dog and the kind of Cushing’s that they are diagnosed with by their vet.

These medications are meant to reduce the level of cortisol that your dog’s body produces, helping to alleviate their symptoms over time. 

If your dog has Cushing’s Disease caused by prolonged exposure to steroids, then your vet may consider reducing the dose or switching to an alternative medication. Steroids should never be stopped suddenly without consulting your vet as this could cause severe side effects.

These cases can become a bit more complicated as whatever that dose of steroids was initially treating is likely to come back. No matter the type of Cushing’s, access to a vet and routine monitoring of blood tests is crucial.

Speak With a Veterinarian, Often

At the beginning of you and your dog’s journey with Cushing’s Disease, it is likely that there will be frequent trips to the vet along with many inevitable questions that need answers.

This is all par for the course and to be expected in the process of reaching a diagnosis. Even after a treatment plan has been established, it is important to stay in contact with a veterinarian. This ensures that your dog’s condition continues improving and nothing has to be changed.

For any and all of your Cushing’s-related questions, the team of vets from AskVet in the KONG Club app has the answers. With AskVet, not only will you have access to a community of like-minded pet parents, but you can also get in contact with a licensed vet at any time of the day or night.

Questions do not only come up during normal business hours, so having a trusted source to turn to as questions come up can be huge, especially when coming to terms with a diagnosis.

Treatment Is Possible

With a treatment plan crafted by you and your vet, the prognosis for a dog with Cushing’s Disease is an optimistic one. Their symptoms can be managed well, leading to a comfortable and happy existence for both you and your dog. Following your vet’s medical advice is key in treating everything from severe illness to lifestyle habits.

 

Sources:

Physiological Stress Reactivity and Recovery Related to Behavioral Traits in Dogs (Canis Familiaris) | National Library of Medicine

What Is Cushing’s Disease? | Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Canine Hyperadrenocorticism Associations With Signalment, Selected Comorbidities and Mortality Within North American Veterinary Teaching Hospitals | National Library of Medicine

Cushing Disease (Pituitary-dependent Hyperadrenocorticism) in Animals – Endocrine System | Merck Veterinary Manual

Skin Fungal Infections in Cats: Types, Symptoms & Treatment Options

cat on table

If your cat is experiencing symptoms that are negatively impacting their skin, it is reasonable to feel alarmed. As conscious and caring pet parents, it is perfectly natural that we would experience some amount of concern at discovering any kind of issue with our beloved pets. This concern is amplified when you discover something as jarring as skin lesions or other possible symptoms of a fungal skin infection.

It is important that both you and your cat keep calm while figuring out your next steps.

What Are the Different Kinds of Fungal Infections in Cats?

Just like there are a wide variety of different fungi in the world, there are an equally wide variety of possible fungal infections that your cat could come down with.

Here are just a few of the more common types of fungal infections cats experience:

Ringworm

Also called “feline dermatophytosis,” ringworm is a fairly common fungal infection in cats. When looking for clues on what may be ailing your cat, consider the “ring” part of the name.

This is because animals (and people) dealing with this type of infection may display a ring-like rash. That being said, ringworm does not always manifest this way. So even if your cat does not have ring-shaped rashes, it is still possible that they could be dealing with ringworm. Take caution as ringworm can cross the species barrier, from your cat to other pets in the house and even to humans.

Ringworm is one of the most common skin issues that cats face. When it is found, it will generally be treated with a mixture of medications.

The most common method is to apply topical ointment or cream on all of your cat’s skin where rashes are present. A topical treatment may be the only form of treatment chosen in minor cases; it may include ointment or shampoo. 

However, this is not the only avenue to treat skin fungal infections in cats. The selected treatment is based on several factors, including whether the infection is localized or generalized.

In more serious or generalized cases, topical treatment is usually combined with oral medication. Cats can also be asymptomatic carriers of ringworm, meaning they may have no lesions on their skin but could still be contagious to other pets or people. So, testing and follow-up is critical to ensuring the infection is completely resolved.

Along with a ring-shaped rash, common symptoms of ringworm in cats include hair loss, scaly skin, swollen or inflamed skin, over-grooming as well as over-scratching, and infected claws.

Yeast Infections

It is possible for a fungal yeast infection to affect a cat’s respiratory system as well. But, the vast majority of the time, you will see the bulk of the symptoms revolving around the skin.

A cat can get a fungal yeast infection in multiple ways, including breathing the fungus in through the nose, absorbing it through the skin, eating it with their food, or drinking it. A yeast infection may also simply be an overgrowth of the natural fungi in and around your cat.

If your cat already has a compromised immune system, it is especially likely that they could experience an overgrowth.

Some of the kinds of yeast infections that can affect cats include Candidiasis, Malassezia dermatitis, and Blastomycosis. When dealing with a yeast infection, a cat can exhibit a number of possible symptoms. Greasy and scaly skin, thinning of the fur or hair, redness, and skin thickening are all possible signs to look out for.

Sporotrichosis

Sporotrichosis is caused by the fungus Sporothrix schenckii entering the system. This fungus can be found most often in wood, soil, and plants.

At first, Sporotrichosis will manifest itself on a cat as skin wounds located on the face and surrounding regions. However, if it is given time, it can continue to spread further to cause lesions on other areas of a cat’s body.

There are three different types of sporotrichosis that a cat can experience. The first is lymphocutaneous, the second is cutaneous, and the third is disseminated. Lymphocutaneous is typically characterized by firm bumps under the skin measuring between one and three centimeters. This is the most common form of the sporotrichosis infection. 

Second, we have the cutaneous form. With cutaneous sporotrichosis, a cat is likely to experience swollen lymph nodes along with lesions and wounds along the skin that will probably remain in one localized area.

Thankfully, the last kind of sporotrichosis, disseminated, is quite rare. As long as the infection is treated earlier on in its progression, this very dangerous form can be avoided. Note that if it is left unchecked, this type can prove fatal to both cats and humans alike.

Cryptococcosis

Although the nasal form of this fungus is the most common, it is still possible for cats to experience this infection in the skin as well.

Cryptococcosis has four total possible ways that it can manifest. It affects the nasal passage, the nervous system, the skin, or it could be systemic. The nasal form is the most common as this fungus typically gets into your cat’s body by being inhaled through the nose.

Cryptococcosis is the most common form of fungal infection in cats, and the fungus can be found in rotting vegetation and bird feces. If a cat’s skin is affected by this fungus, then you are likely to find bumps below their skin. Typically, these bumps will not be painful or itchy to your cat, so they will not be uncomfortable. 

You may also find some enlargement of your cat’s lymph nodes. This is common in any kind of infection, as swollen lymph nodes are a sign that the body is currently fighting off some kind of intruder. Swollen lymph nodes mean that the body is working as it should, but they can be a cause for alarm if you do not know why they are enlarged in the first place.

Blastomycosis

Blastomycosis is typically caused by contact with wet soil or dirt near a water source. The organism Blastomyces dermatitidis usually enters the body through inhalation, but it can also enter the body through an open wound. This kind of fungal infection manifests in multiple symptoms that vary greatly in severity, but it can also cause skin lesions. 

What Are the Common Symptoms of Fungal Infections in Cats?

The exact symptoms that your cat may exhibit after presenting with a fungal skin infection can depend on the specific type of infection that they have. They may show common signs of stress.

Other than that, you can expect some of the most common symptoms to include:

  • Hair loss
  • Rashes
  • Skin thickening
  • Bumps under the skin
  • Lesions
  • Discharge
  • Unpleasant odors
  • Itchiness (shown by your cat scratching themselves more than usual)

What Should You Do if You Suspect Your Cat May Have a Fungal Skin Infection?

If you are beginning to suspect the possibility of your cat having a fungal skin infection, then you should make note of why you are considering this.

What are the symptoms they are exhibiting? Are they grooming or scratching more than usual? Are you seeing patches where there is less hair or fur than there used to be on your cat’s body? All of this information is helpful when determining what could be wrong.

Then, you should consult with a vet regarding your cat’s condition. A visit to the vet will allow you to start ruling out certain possibilities regarding your cat’s illness. Your vet will eventually discover the root cause of the issue. They can perform different diagnostic tests as necessary. 

For the inevitable questions that come up when determining the status of your cat’s condition, you can rely on the KONG Club App to connect you with the elite vets at AskVet. 

AskVet knows that concerns will arise outside of just standard operating business hours, so they have licensed veterinarians standing by to help out at any hour of the day or night, seven days a week. 

They can offer you personalized plans of care to help your cat get back to feeling their very best. In addition, AskVet and the KONG Club provide an online community of like-minded pet parents who can share the tips and tricks that they have learned about pet ownership.

How Are Fungal Infections Treated in Cats?

A cat’s fungal infection is likely to be dealt with using either a topical treatment, a medication that is taken orally, or with some mix of the two. Listen to your vet and stick to their advice when it comes to caring for your cat with a fungal infection.

Are Fungal Infections in Cats Contagious?

Fungal infections in cats can be contagious to other cats, other animals, and humans. That is why it is so important to get your cat to the vet as soon as you suspect that something may be amiss.

What Is the Outlook for a Cat With a Fungal Infection?

Exactly how your cat will fare as a result of their fungal skin infection will depend largely on a variety of factors. For one, you and your vet must consider your cat’s age. Then, you must consider their health in relation to their age. Lastly, of course, you and your cat’s vet must consider the type of fungus and what its long-term effects might be.

That being said, early detection and consistent trips to the vet are integral to keeping your cat as healthy as possible. If everything else in your cat’s body is working well, then they will be better equipped to fight off the infection and return to perfect health. Also, by catching the infection before it has progressed too far, treatments will have much more of an opportunity to help.

Putting the Fun in Fungus

If you suspect that your cat may be dealing with a skin infection, it can be a very scary time for both you and your pet. However, getting them to the vet as quickly as possible can prevent poor outcomes, help your cat feel more comfortable, and make sure that the infection does not spread to anyone else.

 

Sources:

Cryptococcosis | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Blastomycosis | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Ringworm: A Serious but Readily Treatable Affliction | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Ringworm | Healthy Pets, Healthy People | CDC

Sporotrichosis in cats: ABCD guidelines on prevention and management | NCBI

What To Look For in Diabetic Cat Food

KONG bat a bout

Just like humans who have diabetes, cats with diabetes must watch what they eat. This means that this task falls on you—cat parent extraordinaire—to make sure that your feline friend has the adequate nutrition they need to stay healthy and keep their diabetes in check.

Diabetes in Cats

Some people may be surprised that cats can be diagnosed with diabetes. Just like humans, cats have a pancreas that produces insulin. Unfortunately, just like humans, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin (Type I) or the body does not react to insulin in the right way (Type II).

Only around 1% of cats are diagnosed with diabetes. Most cats who have diabetes are diagnosed with Type II. Your cat is especially at risk for diabetes if it is obese. In fact, they can be up to four times more likely to develop diabetes than cats who are at a healthy weight.

If you notice that your cat is drinking and urinating more often than usual, they could potentially be suffering from diabetes. Weakened legs are also a symptom of diabetes. This symptom is not painful for your cat and will likely resolve itself once successful treatment is administered. 

If you do suspect that your cat is living with diabetes, it is important to make an appointment with your veterinarian so they can isolate the culprit. Your cat may not have diabetes; an increase in thirst and urination could also be caused by kidney disease or a urinary tract infection.

Your veterinarian will run several tests to determine if diabetes is the cause of the symptoms your cat is exhibiting. Undiagnosed diabetes can be harmful to your cat if left untreated. Luckily, diabetes in cats is often very treatable with insulin and diet. 

Insulin Treatment

Your veterinarian will determine the correct amount of insulin your cat should be given, as it is dependent on several factors. Most of the time, your cat should be given insulin twice a day, twelve hours apart, and after your cat eats.

Your veterinarian’s clinic will help teach you how to give your cat these injections. Cats usually respond well to receiving insulin injections. You may be nervous giving your furry friend injections, but with the right guiding hand and community, you’ll soon be confident providing your cat with the insulin they need. 

It is essential that your cat has regular checkups when they are on insulin, as the dosage may need to be adjusted as their diabetes is more easily controlled. Some cats even go into remission when being treated for diabetes.

It’s essential to keep a check on their blood sugars as your cat can become ill if given too much insulin. Regular appointments and tests will help determine if their diabetes is being managed effectively and if their insulin needs to be adjusted.

Diet

Along with insulin, your cat’s diet is an important component of keeping their diabetes in check. As obesity is a common factor in the diagnosis of diabetes, a closely monitored diet can help with your cat shedding some of its weight. Being able to maintain blood sugar becomes easier when your cat is at an ideal weight.

When utilizing a diabetic-friendly diet for your cat while trying to whittle some weight away, calorie counting is essential. Some diabetic-friendly cat food can be heavy on calories, so selecting a food with higher fiber and lower calories helps to create a calorie deficit.

Fiber can help your cat feel full but is lower in calories than other diabetic cat foods. Measuring your cat’s food is important so you can keep track of the nutrition they are ingesting. 

High protein, low carbohydrate diets are also beneficial for diabetic cats. If your cat is underweight or at their ideal weight, this type of diet is ideal with close monitoring. Overweight cats may want to avoid this type of diet at first as it can be high in calories and can make weight loss more difficult. If your cat has kidney issues, low carbohydrate diets may not be a good fit. 

When proposing different diets for your diabetic cat, your vet will need to consider if your cat will actually eat the new brand of food. Some cats are extremely picky. For those cats, your vet should never suddenly change their food type, especially when they are sick.

If their food is abruptly changed and they don’t like it, they could stop eating completely. This could potentially have fatal consequences. If there is a preferred food option, it should be introduced slowly to see if the cat will accept it. 

Treats Treats With Caution

Additionally, as much as you may love to give treats to your kitty, you must calculate this nutrition into your cat’s diet. You can still carve room in the diet plan for treats, as they are a great way to keep things positive with your cat (and they may be a little grumpy with their new diet plan). 

There are also several other considerations when selecting your cat’s diabetic cat food. You want your cat to be as happy as possible. With care, diet adjustments can be a big life change for the better for your feline friend.

Dry or Canned Food?

Diabetic cat foods can come in dry or wet food types. Cats are true carnivores and may enjoy the taste and consistency of canned food more than dry kibble. Of course, we know that our furry pals can have their own opinion on the food they like to eat.

Some cats prefer the consistency and taste of dry food; this is okay as well. Dry food is higher in carbohydrates, so if your cat does prefer dry food, this is an important nutritional marker to keep track of.

Since dry food is less hydrating than canned food, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your cat to ensure they are drinking enough water to avoid becoming too dehydrated. 

While this is a minor note, dry food is generally better at promoting well-maintained teeth. Wet food can lead to a slight increase in plaque and tartar accumulation, but this would not be a reason to select dry over canned food. 

Other considerations such as palatability, fat, carbohydrate, and protein needs are always the most important here when looking for the best food for your pet. No matter what type of food you feed your cat, make sure to clean their teeth regularly

High Protein or High Fiber?

Obese cats may find more luck losing weight when on a high fiber diet, but overall high protein is more beneficial for your diabetic cat. In a study conducted on specialized diets for diabetic cats, their necessary insulin levels were decreased in a majority of cats when they were switched from a high fiber to a high protein diet

On the other hand, there is still evidence to show that cats who are fed a high-fiber diet can have their insulin dosage reduced. However, high protein diets do show that a higher percentage have their insulin reduced when compared to a high fiber diet. Ultimately, it is best to consult your veterinarian as every cat is unique.

Since remission is a possibility for cats with diabetes, feeding your cat a high-protein diet can be beneficial in helping your kitty no longer need insulin. 

Other Considerations

If your cat is obese but enjoys a higher protein diet, there is still a way for them to lose weight—exercise. Not that your kitty has to hit the gym, but incorporating playtime is a great way to assist with weight loss.

Working with your veterinarian, gradually increase playtime with your cat using different toys, like a KONG laser or KONG Bat-A-Bout. You can also place their treats in engaging cat toys – like a Kitty KONG, which require them to play with the toy for the treat to be dispensed. 

If weight loss is a priority for your cat, an option would be to utilize a high fiber diet to help lose the extra weight and then slowly switch to a high protein diet. Working closely with your veterinarian is critical because as your cat loses weight, they may need their insulin adjusted. 

Healthier Today, Happier Tomorrow

When it comes to choosing a diabetic cat food, there are numerous options available. Although a high protein diet has been shown to reduce insulin levels needed in cats, it can be higher in calories. If your cat is obese, it may need a high fiber diet to help them feel more full while consuming fewer calories.

Of course, you should always consult with your veterinarian when choosing a diabetic cat food, as there may be specific nutritional values that your cat may need to meet to help their insulin be more effective. 

When you are unsure about your cat’s symptoms or want to discuss diabetic cat foods, our KONG Club by AskVet veterinarians are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are knowledgeable experts who can help point you in the right direction of obtaining the best care for your furry best pal!

 

Sources:

Feline Diabetes | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Caring For Your Diabetic Cat | Tufts University

Don’t Sugar Coat It: The Best Diets for Cats with Diabetes | Tufts University

Use of a high-protein diet in the management of feline diabetes mellitus | NCBI

Comparison of a low carbohydrate-low fiber diet and a moderate carbohydrate-high fiber diet in the management of feline diabetes mellitus | NCBI

Feline Diabetes | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine