Knowledge is Power…read up before calling the vet.

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All of these Puppy Health Links below really should be read before taking possession of your new puppy for the puppies sake.

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Puppies Stress and Anxiety

Puppies and their litter mates can appear perfectly healthy, yet one pup can be more stressed than another over absolutely ANYTHING!

There are various bacterias (Kennel Cough, Parvovirus, Giardia) that lay dormant in a new puppy which can be activated by stress and anxiety. Be really aware of this when you pickup your new puppy.

Your Veterinarian can prescribe a method of treatment for Anxiety. If your pup coughs or seems to breathe hard, ask your Veterinarian to listen for congestion, although it may be the normal Shih Tzu characteristics of tight nostrils or the Shih Tzu snort.

Extra caution should be given to a small pup when you first bring it into its new environment. Puppies are definitely sponges for bacteria, but you cannot live in a sterile world. Be cognizant of your pup being handled too much or by too many people.

People are a leading source of germs in puppies. Let the pup go thru the introduction to its new environment very slowly, and please take your new pup to a Veterinarian for a wellness check right away.

Your Veterinarian may be able to help you help your pup get established in their new home. Remember instead of counting how many weeks old a pup is, count how many DAYS it has been alive. Now ask yourself if this is the way you should be handling the newborn baby. Please consider treating your brand new baby pup with the same care and caution you would any other baby.

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The Health and Well-Being of your pup is an ongoing responsibility…

A vaccination schedule to prevent canine diseases should be discussed with your Veterinarian. Usually, 4 sets of shots are given by the time the puppy is 16 weeks of age. Listed below are Florida Immunization Shots. These shots vary by whatever state you live in but are generally similar.

Veterinarian checked along with their Health Certificate and 1st shot.
At the time of sale…if 2nd or 3rd set of shots were given price will be adjusted as necessary.

The first set of shots:  usually at 6-8 weeks of age:
Distemper-Hepatitis:  Para-influenza/Bordetella/Canine Parvovirus and a Fecal Exam
Second Set of Shots:  usually at 8-10 weeks of age:
Distemper-Hepatitis:  Para-influenza/Bordetella/Canine Parvovirus
Third Set of shots:  usually at 10-12 weeks of age:
Distemper-Hepatitis:  Para-influenza/Canine Parvovirus
The fourth set of shots:  usually 12-16 weeks of age:
Distemper-Hepatitis:  Para-influenza/Canine Parvovirus/Rabies

With this completed your puppy should be good for 1 year and then he/she will need a one-time booster set of shots including rabies vaccination. This should be sufficient for 3 years. However, 6 or 12-month wellness checkups are highly recommended.

Monthly Heart-worm and Flea treatment is an absolute must. There are various treatments available. Your Veterinarian will help you choose the method that suits you and your pup. Treatments are available that include heartworm, fleas & ticks in a monthly chewable tablet.
Keep an alert eye on your pup: Always be conscientious to your pups activity level.

Be aware of your pet’s health: Eyes…Clear, Watery, Cloudy? Nose…Sniffles? Appetite….lack of appetite? Nice pink tongue? Look at their poop…solid stools, bloody, diarrhea, worms? Ears…notice shaking or scratching? Skin..sores, itching? Treatment is available for all of these conditions, ask your Veterinarian for suggestions and help.

As you groom them, trim their nails, brush their teeth and fur, clean their ears, check for fleas, etc., you will develop a bond with your animal. Through bonding, you will be able to notice small signs that indicate something is not right. Discuss any irregularities with your Veterinarian.
Kennel Cough is a common problem which is easily cared for. Although it certainly makes your pup miserable and is scary to see your pup experience this, it rarely kills. They will cough as if gagging on a dry cotton ball. Take your pet to the Vet ASAP! If you can’t make it to the Vet, over the counter cough suppressants can soothe your pet’s throat till you get a chance.

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Stop that head shaking, What it could be…

When your pup shakes their head sometimes that’s an indicator there might be an ear infection or ear mites.
Give your pups an ear cleaning with mineral oil. Do again a few days later if the pup is still shaking their head. Mineral oil will kill the eggs of ear mites.

Mites are those annoying parasites that look for ear canals to make their nests. Seriously!
It happens. Relax there’s a remedy! Most often, it is not your fault nor is it a reflection on your cleanliness!

Over the counter, mite meds don’t work for me. However, the ear cleansers and ear powder, found in pet stores, do help to keep the ears clean enough to ward off the mites. Read the directions and you’ll be happily surprised at how infrequent those mites come to visit your pups ears.

When there is excessive hair in the ear canal get it plucked out. That is an invitation to Mites.

If and when they do, my veterinarian prescribes Treserderm with an antibiotic additive. Please ask your vet about its use.

Also, see jannies-tips on ear wax.

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Most common infection in puppies. Its name is Giardia.

Imagine that pretty looking design being known as the most common infection in puppies. Its name is Giardia.

Thru my research reading dozens of reports on this parasite, this little “designer critter” is also quite misunderstood.

I’m not a licensed veterinarian.  And I am not purporting to “know better than a vet”…on the however of that…I do offer my experiences as just that.   So what you are about to read in this little “dander vent” of mine is simply to add another point of view.

In my own opinion of myself, for what it is worth, I am just a very extraordinary conscientious passionate breeder of Shih Tzu pups and I am highly cognizant of my own pups daily little quirks and habits.  If one of my pups shows any signs of different looking poop…I’m onto my remedies like lightning.

Just last week I was approached by a lady who purchased her pup from another breeder.  She brought the pup to show it off and I was pleased when she said she wanted to also buy one of mine for a playmate companion. As we sat and chatted about her pup, she decided to start ranting about how bad her other breeder must be because her vet found giardia.  This lady, although she did purchase one of my pups, also got an earful of my experiences on treating and causes of Giardia.   She now knows it has nothing to do with her former breeder.

With that, I’ve decided to share my little “dander vent” with all of you. I’ll call this topic, Don’t Blame The Breeder.    Haven’t you ever heard the saying “getting your dander up”?  Well when I vent, I call it a dander vent.

It is said giardia lives in just about 50% of all puppies.  Tho it remains stagnant until stress or anxiety causes it to expel thru loose, mucousy, bloody stools.  Most pups never have the problem with Giardia. When you decide to do your research you will read two most common causes are drinking water and feces.  However, there are many ways the “designer critter” latches onto the intestines.

Back to misconceptions of causes of contracting giardia, I’ll just pick a couple that is, in my humble little space of life, what I consider to be the most arguable causes.

Drinking water.  Most of us live in homes and have the common sense to change the drinking water in a pups water bowl quite frequently.  I, for one, have always and consistently changed my pup’s water by just seeing some food granules in it.  Clean water is readily available and replaced with fresh water thru out the day.

Eating feces….I’ll debunk that one too, mama pups teach their young from day one to clean up the poop.   While mama “cleans” it as it comes out the butt, so is the puppy being shown what to do as it matures…”clean it up”.   It’s not a mineral deficiency as some like to insist.  It’s merely nature taking care of its own world.

Well anyway, that poop gets expelled again from mama out in my yard.  (Frequent poop patrols give me great opportunities for flexing my joints.  I need to stay as limber as possible or else rig-amortise  says it’ll own me).
Although I’m not there with every single poop privilege, I am aware of mama coming back to be with her babies. Now is where the transmission of particles of “blah” left on her feet can become a culprit.

Bleach and disinfectants are used to maintain a clean environment for all these li’l angels.  Because I am so diligent I rare to ever have occurrences of giardia or coccidia.  I can even attest to rarely having fleas.

My pups get dewormed and cleaned often.  I use Panacur, Flagyl, and Marquis as treatments to ensure there are no “designer critters” swimming in my pups intestines.  I got that education thru my veterinarian.

BUT, can I say to you, a buyer of my pups, that your pup will come to you free of all potential intestinal infections?  No. Puppies are sponges for parasites. It’s the world we live in.
Can you say to me, “from the moment I pick up my pup I promise the pup will live in a clean almost sterile environment”?  Can you tell me you won’t let your pup feel grass because bird droppings, rabbit and other animal feces and their leftover “designer critters” (parasites)  are on that grass waiting for the “sponge” …your pup, to attach itself to?  Can you tell me the shoes you walk in got sterilized before you walked onto the floor of your home which your pup is now laying on?

Have any of you read or heard the news stories of bacteria studies?  Recently there were studies done on cell phones, ladies handbags, computer keyboards, steering wheels, doorknobs, etc. and those results were profound in bacteria carriers of all types of “designer critters” that cause all types of illnesses….and are passed to our pets as well.   It’s a common everyday occurrence.
The world we live in.

Can we significantly thank our doctors and veterinarians enough for their work in evolving the medications and techniques necessary to eradicate most of these illnesses?

With this I’ll end my “dander vent”  and hope that you’ll become more cognizant of your new li’l pups environment and don’t be so quick to point a finger at a breeder because your pup was carrying the latest “designer critter”.

Knowledge is power, do your research for the remedy and see your veterinarian.
With your new “knowledge” and alertness, tell your vet any symptoms your pup is showing.  You, your wallet, and your veterinarian will have more harmony as you make the effort to become more aware of “designer critters” invading your pup’s world and how to eradicate them.

The health and welfare of your pup has and always will be my greatest wish.

Share Your Smile With Any One,

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Shih Tzu Puppies and Hypoglycemia

Basic care and observation are very important during first weeks with your new SHIH TZU PUPPY.
It is suggested that you purchase a tube of  Nutri-Cal (available at most pet supplies and vet offices) prior to bringing your new puppy home.  Giving Nutri-Cal morning and night helps SHIH TZU PUPPIES maintain sugar level during this adjustment period, thus helping control hypoglycemia.

Watch carefully for signs of hypoglycemia (this happens when sugar level drops), and may be caused by stress from being in the new environment, too much excitement, and/or not eating properly.  Signs of hypoglycemia are: Staggering, vacant stare, sleeping, lethargy, shaking head in an unnatural way (actually kinda rolling the neck) Also the gums will be very pale white or blue.  Should this occur, the quick and calm action is required IMMEDIATELY!  If you have Nutri-Cal give it to puppy, if not, use honey, clear Karo syrup, rubbing on the tongue and gums.  If neither is available, use plain white sugar.    Continue with small amounts until puppy returns to normal.  If there is no improvement, contact your veterinarian.

Watch for any signs of diarrhea–this will cause a puppy to dehydrate quickly. Stress, change of environment, changing food can cause this.  Pedialyte is good to have on hand and may be given, also a bit of Kaopectate should clear up diarrhea.

Keep your SHIH TZU PUPPY warm and dry.  They need plenty of quiet time and frequent naps and should have their own space for napping, etc.

Please let me emphasize that hypoglycemia is not a disease or sickness nor is it genetic or inherited. Hypoglycemia is very common in puppies, especially Shih Tzu and other small breeds, and is easily managed with proper care.

I trust this page is informative and will prove helpful should your Shih Tzu puppy become hypoglycemic.   From

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Hernias In Shih Tzu Puppies

HERNIAS IN SHIH TZU PUPPIES as well as other breeds are very common and is not a medical condition or cause for immediate concern.  Please be informed before you agree to surgical hernia repair on your SHIH TZU PUPPY.

The following information is copied from and is being offered as an educational tool: ”A hernia is a protrusion or bulge of a part of the body tissue, fat, or an organ through an abnormal opening in the surrounding tissue.  There are numerous types of hernias, each type named after its affected area.

A hernia which can be pushed back into the abdomen is called reducible. Hernias which are not reducible are called incarcerated.  If the blood supply to an incarcerated hernia is pinched off, the hernia becomes strangulated.  A strangulated hernia is an emergency situation and must be brought to the attention of your veterinarian.”

The most common types of hernias in Shih Tzu puppies are:
”An umbilical hernia is the most common type of a hernia found in puppies.  In the case of umbilical hernias, a portion of fat or internal organs protrudes through an incompletely closed umbilical ring.  Umbilical hernias may be present at birth or may be acquired.  The most common means of acquiring an umbilical hernia is a result of the umbilical cord being severed too close to the abdominal wall.  In most cases, umbilical hernias are small and reduce as the puppy grows.  Generally, by the time the pup is six months old, the umbilical hernia will shrink and disappear on its own. ”

“An inguinal hernia is the result of abdominal organs, fat or tissue protruding through the inguinal ring.  Inguinal hernias are presented as skin-covered bulges in the groin.  They can be bilateral, involving both sides or unilateral, involving only one side.  Inguinal hernias are more common in females than males but do occur in both sexes.  As with umbilical hernias, most inguinal hernias will shrink and disappear as the puppy grows. Inguinal hernias can also occur in unspayed, middle-aged female dogs.  This may occur as the result of stretching of abdominal tissue due to pregnancy. “

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Shih Tzu puppy scratching, chewing on feet and whimpering?

Going crazy with all the scratching and itching, just can’t figure it out, nothing has changed with bathing products, but all of a sudden your SHIH TZU DOG or SHIH TZU PUPPY is in sheer misery with e intense itching and scratching. You try some new shampoo, powder, etc. but nothing seems to relieve the itch.

Well, rest easy, it is not the end of the world.  Your dog or PUPPY has probably picked up a mite from the grass outside.    In late summer and fall, grass and other vegetation can become infested with tiny mites, that can attach themselves to dogs, cats and other animals, including humans.  They cause intense itching, and usually cannot be seen on the animal.  They are also called “walking mites”  ”walking dandruff” as well as the clinical name of Cheyletiella mite.  If the infestation on your Shih Tzu dog becomes heavy, it will appear as dandruff.  Skin can become irritated, and lesions can appear from the intense scratching and chewing.

Now is the time to seek help from your veterinarian, mites will not disappear, they are a parasite and live and reproduce on our Shih Tzu pets as well as cats and other small animals.
It is strongly suggested that you be extremely careful when treating small Shih Tzu dogs and young SHIH TZU PUPPIES, as they can be very sensitive to treatments, and can have an allergic reaction to some products.

This page is being added to my site for educational purposes only, and in no way is intended to be veterinarian advice.  Diagnosis and treatment should be done only upon the advice of your veterinarian.

For more information on mites, go to keyword: Walking mite or Walking Dandruff.

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When can the dog get fixed?

Yes, it is very confusing. However, I believe in every state there is a Humane Society. If you have one, please visit or telephone them and inquire their opinion as to when a pup can be neutered or spayed. Shockingly, it is as early as 18 weeks.

They must be finished their four sets of shots. That usually occurs at 16 weeks. Then the other criterion is weight. They must weigh at least 3 pounds 9ounces.

Age has NOTHING to do with when a pup can be neutered or spayed.

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What is “Cherry Eye” in a Shih Tzu?

There are many sites on the Internet that describe the Cherry Eye.  I thought this one was rather good to help you understand.

Here are some photos of my Shih Tzu male I named Maverick.   He is 6 months old now.  I have had him since he was 9 wks old.  Soon after receiving him I noticed the “Cherry Eye”.   I was familiar with this as a few of the pups I have bred in the past had Cherry Eye.  Although their’s went away with a little massaging,  Maverick’s Cherry Eye did not go away.   I will have to have surgery done on his eye in a month or so.

I thought I’d share this little piece of experience with you and show you his picture.  Then when he has the surgery done I will show you those photos too.

Just in case it ever happens that you happen to have a pup that gets the Cherry Eye, now you’ll be more aware of it.

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What to do…when you don’t know what to do.

What to do…when don’t know what to do.   All those symptoms should fit some illness, right? Some things are fairly easy to correct by yourself with the right amount of knowledge about your breed.   Here I can only “help” and I won’t try to diagnose any situation.

Clearly, it is best to call your local veterinarian ASAP!  Better to be safe than sorry goes along with that visit to your vet.   Some things are fairly common and easy to treat, and some things only a vet can tell you what’s wrong.   When the pup has what sounds like a dry throat, with gasping and dry coughing, our first thought could be a kennel cough, but it may be the pup has swallowed something. If you can’t get to a vet quick enough, use some children’s cough syrup… but do go to the vet as soon as you can.

When the pup has a tough time pooping, clean the butt thoroughly and cut away the hair near the butt.  Also, a little mineral oil inserted with a syringe up the butt helps to move the bowels.  If it continues, see your vet.

When your pup cries constantly it may simply be calling out for some loving, or it may be in pain.  Determine this with gently picking up the pup as you try to check for any outward signs of discomfort.  If the pup stops crying, maybe it was just craving some holding.  But if your pup still cries then it may be internal and your vet will have to determine if there is a blockage, lack of nourishment or dehydration.

The larger the Shih Tzu or Shih Poo…the fewer problems occur.  With the smaller ones, hypoglycemia can happen rapidly.  Temperature changes can affect the smaller Shih Tzu more than the larger ones. You should have some vitamin paste in your puppy medicine cabinet for such emergencies.

Make the pup drink, drink, drink, & drink!!!!  Dehydration can cause a quick death for tiny puppies.

Constant shaking of the head and scratching the ears and whining usually is a sign of ear mites.  This problem is easily treated with ear cleansers and by keeping the ear canal clear of hair growth.

When the pup is itching their coat incessantly it could be as simple as dandruff.  Dandruff shampoos work great on pups too. Also, changing your pups dog food to one that has more omega oils can help.  Adding oils to their food is another way to keep their coat in good health.  Your vet can suggest many remedies for this as well.

While I do highly recommend you visit your veterinarian for most ailments, studying your pup will help you get to know their nuances and you can probably handle a lot of their minor ailments yourself.  You will gain more experience by listening to your vet as he explains remedies during your regular visits.

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My Shih Tzu shakes her head and scratches her ears. What is this?

Shih Tzu mite treatment? Also what causes mites?

Mites are those annoying parasites that look for ear canals to make their nests. Seriously! It happens. Relax there’s a remedy!

Most often, it is not your fault nor is it a reflection on your cleanliness!

Over the counter, ear mite meds can help.
Walmart sells a three tube package that kills on contact. Give it a try.
Also, the ear cleansers and ear powder, found in pet stores, do help to
keep the ears clean enough to ward off the mites.

Read the directions and you’ll be happily surprised at how infrequent
those mites come to visit your pups ears.

When there is excessive hair in the ear canal get it plucked out. That is an invitation to Mites.

If the above does not work for you please see your vet. My veterinarian prescribes Treserderm with an antibiotic additive. Please ask your vet about its use.

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Irritations are Skin Issues

Thru-out my years of being in the breeding and raising of Shih Tzu puppies, I’ve come across quite a few skin problems with this gentle breed.

Several skin Issues, such as that “need” to chew on their paws (making the hair a light pink color), chewing an area down to raw skin (also known as hot spots). Also once in awhile “from out of nowhere” a little bump the size of a tiny baby fingernail (like a small pimple) appears. It is usually a Sebaceous Cyst.

Goodness, how does one treat these things and hopefully stop their re-occurrence?

From my research and by constantly questioning Veterinarians, along with some tips from gracious people sharing their stories and remedies, I’ve been able to learn quite a lot about treating these skin issues.

The chewing of the paws till their paws are pink has a lot to do with the food and treats that the pup eats….If you notice a lot of the dog food companies are now selling Grain Free Dog Food. This is because they’ve learned that grain disturbs the pups digestive systems… and so much more. They have also found that Food Coloring has a lot to do with these angels chewing on themselves.
The pink color is caused by the enzymes in their saliva. The food coloring can cause the pup significant skin dryness which creates the need to itch incessantly.

As a pup grows they are constantly getting new skin cells. If the dead skin cells are not flaking off as quick as the new ones are coming in, skin itching can occur. When there is a great buildup of dead skin cells, a crust will form which causes the pup to scratch or chew the area. “Hot Spots” happen frequently with the Shih Tzu breed and the result is the pup will chew their skin raw in that area.

Grain Free dog food and Treats with no artificial preservatives, fillers or food coloring that are made with vegetables and added Omega oils is your best bet to help your pup ease a lot of its itching problems. You need to try several brands over several months before you find the one brand that works for your Shih Tzu.

A friend shared what she used for successful treatment of skin irritations. She purchased an over the counter skin medication from Adams pet products. I purchased a bottle from our Walmart Store. The name on the small plastic bottle reads 2-Mercaptobenzoiazole as an Aid in the Treatment of HOT SPOTS and other skin irritations.

It could just be an itch but on the other hand, it could be a sensitive skin issue. There are remedies available to help defeat these problems. Remember to talk about it to your Vet.

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Preventing Sebaceous Cysts…

(Excerpt from Healthy Pet)

There are a few things you can do as a pet owner to reduce the possibility your dog will develop sebaceous cysts.

Keeping your pet brushed and well-groomed will keep the sebum flowing out of the oil gland and hair follicle, which will help prevent the oil buildup and entrapment under the follicle that leads to cyst formation.
Optimizing your dog’s fatty acid intake is another important step. Essential fatty acids are delicate (easily destroyed by heat and processing) and should be replaced especially for dogs eating only dry food. If your dog is fed raw, essential fatty acids can be optimized.

I recommend adding krill oil or another omega-3 fatty acid. You can also add coconut oil. Both these oils help normalize sebum production.
If you discover a sebaceous cyst on your dog, there’s no reason to make an emergency visit to your veterinarian. I do recommend you have it checked out to make sure it’s benign, but there’s no reason to panic.

Your vet can confirm the mystery lump is indeed a benign sebaceous cyst through cytology, meaning he or she will extract a few cells from the lump, look at them under a microscope (or send them elsewhere for examination), and ultimately assure you there’s nothing to worry about.

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Sebaceous Cyst…

The Canine Cyst You Should NEVER Squeeze

By Dr. Karen Becker’s……Vet video on Sebaceous Cyst.

Today I want to finish up with a discussion of yet another type of benign lump you might find on your dog, sebaceous cysts. In case you’re wondering what the difference is between a sebaceous adenoma and a sebaceous cyst, a cyst is a sac filled with fluid, gas or semi-solid material. An adenoma, by contrast, is a mass of tissue.

Sebaceous cysts can occur in any breed of dog. They also occur in cats, but much less commonly.

Like the other lumps and bumps I’ve discussed in this series, sebaceous cysts are benign and nothing to worry about in terms of cancer. They occur under the skin, and they generally behave in one of three ways:

They erupt
They get walled off
They resolve on their own
If a sebaceous cyst erupts, it means it came to ahead, opened up, and the contents oozed out. Sometimes these eruptions can lead to infection. The ooze is usually a fairly gross material resembling cottage cheese, or sometimes a thick, black, waxy looking substance.

I don’t recommend you squeeze these cysts because this can cause them to implode, which can lead to cellulitis (a bacterial skin infection) which may require treatment with antibiotics. This is the least optimal outcome if your dog has one of these cysts.

I do recommend you keep an erupted sebaceous cyst clean. Disinfect several times a day, and prevent your pet from licking the area. Most of these types of cysts will heal on their own if they are regularly disinfected and not fussed with by your dog.

If sebaceous cysts under the skin become walled off, which means they feel like little peas, just leave them be. They won’t go away because they’re walled, but your dog’s body will just ignore them.

Dogs prone to developing sebaceous cysts can acquire them at any age, and they can be an ongoing issue throughout your pet’s life.

Some dogs get one or two cysts at a time, others can have five or six on an ongoing and recurring basis.

In vet school, I was advised to remove sebaceous cysts because I could make money with the procedure and dog owners are generally happy to have the things gone. However, as I discussed in parts 1 and 2 of this series, I don’t recommend removal of any benign cyst ‘just because.’ Removal is only necessary if the cyst recurs and is prone to infection and/or if your dog’s quality of life is impaired by the presence of a cyst.

Preventing Sebaceous Cysts

There are a few things you can do as a pet owner to reduce the possibility your dog will develop sebaceous cysts.

Keeping your pet brushed and well-groomed will keep the sebum flowing out of the oil gland and hair follicle, which will help prevent the oil buildup and entrapment under the follicle that leads to cyst formation.
Optimizing your dog’s fatty acid intake is another important step. Essential fatty acids are delicate (easily destroyed by heat and processing) and should be replaced especially for dogs eating only dry food. If your dog is fed raw, essential fatty acids can be optimized.

I recommend adding krill oil or another omega-3 fatty acid. You can also add coconut oil. Both these oils help normalize sebum production.
If you discover a sebaceous cyst on your dog, there’s no reason to make an emergency visit to your veterinarian. I do recommend you have it checked out to make sure it’s benign, but there’s no reason to panic.

Your vet can confirm the mystery lump is indeed a benign sebaceous cyst through cytology, meaning he or she will extract a few cells from the lump, look at them under a microscope (or send them elsewhere for examination), and ultimately assure you there’s nothing to worry about.

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Protecting Your Dog from Parvovirus

Feature from June 2002 Issue of Whole Dog Journal

To vaccinate or not – and if not, how to guard against this killer disease.

When Parvo strikes, it moves fast. Infected dogs may appear to be in perfect health one day and violently ill the next. Emergency veterinary care is expensive, and unless dogs are diagnosed and treated early, many die from this serious disease.

However, reactions to parvovirus vary widely – both among dogs and their human caretakers. In a world in which parvovirus is ubiquitous – it is literally everywhere except environments that have been sterilized – parvo kills some dogs and leaves others unscathed. And in the debate about vaccination against this disease, some people vaccinate their dogs early and often, while others refuse to vaccinate against parvo at all.

In this article, we’ll discuss a number of parvovirus prevention and treatment approaches taken by veterinarians and dog guardians today. We’ll also share personal stories from two people whose dogs had parvovirus, and describe how these guardians’ experiences affected their health care strategies.

One good reason to avoid taking your puppy to
heavily trafficked public parks – at least until
you have reason to believe his antibody levels
are at protective levels – is the pervasiveness
of parvovirus.

But we won’t tell you which approach you should take with your dog. That, like all health-related issues, is a personal decision that must be made after you learn as much as possible about the risks and benefits of the various approaches.

Understanding parvo
The smallest and simplest of the microscopic infectious agents called viruses, which cause disease by replicating within living cells, parvovirus consists of a single strand of DNA enclosed in a microscopic capsid or protein coat. This protein coat, which differs from the envelope of fat that encases other viruses, helps the parvo virus survive and adapt.

Parvoviruses infect birds and mammals (including humans), but until the 1960s, parvovirus did not infect domestic dogs or their wild cousins. The original canine parvovirus, later labeled CPV-1, was discovered in 1967. Eleven years later, CPV-2 emerged in the United States. It apparently mutated from feline distemper, which is the feline parvovirus. CPV-2 quickly infected dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and other canines around the world. A second mutation, CPV-2a, was identified in 1979, and a third, CPV-2b, is in circulation today.

Infection takes place when a susceptible host inhales or ingests the virus, which attacks the first rapidly dividing group of cells it encounters. Typically, these cells are in the lymph nodes of the throat. Soon the virus spills into the bloodstream, through which it travels to bone marrow and intestinal cells. The incubation period between exposure and the manifestation of symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea is usually three to seven days.

When it attacks bone marrow, parvo damages the immune system and destroys white blood cells. More commonly, it attacks the intestines, causing copious diarrhea and debilitating nausea, which further weakens the dog’s system. Dogs who die of parvo typically do so because fluid loss and dehydration lead to shock, and/or because intestinal bacteria invade the rest of the body and release septic toxins.

Any dog that survives a parvovirus infection is believed to have lifelong immunity; serum antibody titers tend to stay high for prolonged periods after recovery from the virus.

Young puppies and adolescent dogs whose maternal antibodies no longer protect them but whose immune systems have not yet matured are at greatest risk of contracting parvo. Most parvo victims are less than one year old, but the disease can and does occasionally strike adults, too.

Some breeds are particularly susceptible to contracting parvovirus, including Alaskan Sled Dogs, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, and American Staffordshire Terriers.

How parvo spreads
Veterinary experts agree that virtually all of the world’s dogs have been exposed to canine parvovirus. The virus begins to “shed,” or be excreted by a dog, three to four days following his exposure to the virus, often before clinical signs of the infection have appeared. The virus is also shed in huge amounts from infected dogs in their feces for 7-10 days; a single ounce of fecal matter from a parvo-infected dog contains 35,000,000 units of the virus, and only 1,000 are needed to cause infection.

In addition, the virus can be carried on shoes, tires, people, animals (including insects and rodents), and many mobile surfaces, including wind and water. Because it is difficult to remove from the environment and because infected dogs shed the virus in such profusion, parvo has spread not only to every dog show, veterinary clinic, grooming salon, and obedience school, but every street, park, house, school, shopping mall, airplane, bus, and office in the world.

While a dog that is diagnosed with parvo will be quickly isolated by his veterinarian and his recent environment will be cleaned and disinfected, some infected dogs have such minor symptoms that no one realizes they are ill. Infected dogs, with or without symptoms, shed the virus for about two weeks. If conditions are right, the virus can survive for up to six months. Although parvo is destroyed by sunlight, steam, diluted chlorine bleach, and other disinfectants, sterile environments can be quickly reinfected.

Medical treatment
Most veterinarians treat parvovirus with intravenous fluids and antibiotics. In addition, treatment may include balancing the blood sugar, intravenous electrolytes, intravenous nourishment, and an antiemetic injection to reduce nausea and vomiting. None of these treatments “cure” the disease or kill the virus; they are supportive therapies that help stabilize the dog long enough for his immune system to begin counteracting the virus.

According to Los Angeles veterinarian Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, “Every day that goes by allows the dog to produce more antibodies, which bind with and inactivate the virus. Survival becomes a race between the damaged immune system, which is trying to recover and respond, and potentially fatal fluid loss and bacterial invasion.” Puppies and very small dogs are at greatest risk because they have the smallest body mass and can least afford to lose vital fluids.

Bill Eskew, DVM, sees more parvo patients than many veterinarians because he specializes in emergency care. A veterinarian for 25 years, Dr. Eskew currently works in busy clinics in California and Florida. He says fluids and electrolyte balance are the most important aspects of parvo treatment.

“My typical parvo patient is a four-month-old unvaccinated or partially vaccinated puppy,” says Dr. Eskew, “and I see as many as 20 a week. I’m convinced that of all the treatments we use, intravenous fluids make the most difference. In one case I treated a litter of puppies for a man who couldn’t afford antibiotics or other drugs, so I used fluids alone, and the pups all recovered. In fact, as far as I know, all my parvo patients have survived.”

While antibiotics have no effect on viruses, they are considered an important aspect of treatment, especially for puppies. The parvovirus causes the gastrointestinal mucosa, which usually serves as a protective barrier to infection, to slough away, leaving the puppy vulnerable to bacterial infections. Antibiotics protect the puppy from infection until his body’s own system of protection recovers.

Recovery rates
According to Dr. Brooks, an estimated 80 percent of parvo-infected dogs treated at veterinary clinics recover.

Dr. Eskew credits his success rate to early diagnosis. “The minute we see a puppy that’s been vomiting or has diarrhea,” he says, “we give it a parvo test. The one we use is a rectal swab that shows results within 10 minutes.”

Of course, such early detection tools can be used only if the dog’s guardian is alert to the early signs of illness and hustles him to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible. The sooner the dog receives supportive care, the better his odds of recovery.

Vaccines: Imperfect protection
Properly administered, vaccines protect most puppies and dogs from parvovirus. But there are cases of vaccinated canines contracting the disease.

In late 1998, WDJ received a letter from a reader whose nine-month-old puppy had contracted (and, happily, recovered from) parvovirus. She was perplexed as to how her properly vaccinated puppy could have become infected, especially since she also owned a brother from the same litter who did not become sick, even though both pups had received the same vaccinations and had been exposed to the same things and places!








Dr. Jean Dodds cautions dog owners and fellow
veterinarians to make sure they order and
receive results for a “parvovirus vaccine titer”
test, such as the one above, when the goal is to
determine whether a dog has effective protect-
ion from parvovirus.

The experience of the letter writer’s next-door neighbor added to the mystery. After hearing about the puppy with parvo, the neighbor took her six-month-old, vaccinated puppy to the veterinarian for titer tests, to make sure this puppy was protected. The test indicated that the puppy had no immunity to parvovirus, so she had the pup revaccinated immediately.

For explanations for all these puzzling events, we turned to Jean Dodds, DVM, an expert in veterinary hematology and immunology. Dr. Dodds is also founder and president of Hemopet/Pet Life-Line, of Garden Grove, California. Hemopet is a national nonprofit animal blood bank and adoption program for retired Greyhounds.

Dr. Dodds offered numerous explanations as to why, sometimes, the parvovirus vaccine fails to work as intended.

First, she made clear, no vaccine produces 100 percent protection 100 percent of the time. “Vaccination is not a sure thing,” she explained. “It certainly improves the odds that an animal will be protected from disease, but it does not guarantee this. There is no way, even with the best vaccines, to be sure that any given individual’s immune system will respond in the desired way to protect that animal.”

Not all dogs have perfectly functioning immune responses, and, similarly, not all vaccines function perfectly, either. “There will always be an occasional case of a ‘vaccine break,’ which is what we call it when a vaccine fails to protect an individual against an infectious disease challenge,” said Dodds. “However, when a break occurs, if the animal has been appropriately vaccinated, it will usually experience only a mild form of the disease.” Dr. Dodds speculated that this is the most probable explanation for what happened with the infected puppy mentioned above.

“While there are some rare exceptions, where an appropriately vaccinated animal nonetheless experiences a lethal form of the disease, it is far more typical that such an animal will experience only a mild form of the disease and will recover quickly,” she said.

However, the most common reason for vaccine failures in puppies is maternal antibody interference. Dr. Dodds explained that if a puppy receives a particularly high level of antibodies (passive immunity) from his mother’s colostrum (and to a lesser extent, in utero), these maternal antibodies may cause any vaccine antigens that are administered to be neutralized. Then, when these antibodies wane (usually between 6 and 16 weeks of age), the puppy is left without adequate protection and has not become actively immunized.

“Maternal antibodies wane at an unpredictable rate, which is why puppies are vaccinated several times at intervals of two to four weeks apart,” said Dr. Dodds. “This is designed in an effort to cover any potential gap in protection or ‘window of susceptibility’ that arises from the waning of maternal passive immunity and the onset of active immunization and protection by vaccination.”

Because of this, a test for serum antibody titer or an additional vaccination is sometimes recommended at 15-16 weeks, especially in high-risk breeds.

Trouble with titers
Regarding the neighbor’s vaccinated puppy, whose antibody titers showed no antibody protection for parvo: Dr. Dodds thinks that the chances are very good that the puppy actually did have adequate protection from parvovirus, despite the misleading titer test results.

“There are two types of titer tests commonly offered by most veterinary medical laboratories,” Dr. Dodds explained. “One type is intended to detect whether or not a dog has the disease (a viral infection); the other type of titer test checks the level of immunity the dog received from vaccination. In the latter case (a vaccine titer test), antibody levels are expected to be several titer dilutions lower than those conveyed by active viral infection.

“When a veterinarian requests an immunity or antibody level measurement for parvovirus or another disease, the laboratory typically assumes that disease diagnosis, rather than vaccine immunity, is to be performed. When the lab technicians do a test to see whether the dog has parvovirus, they start with a much greater dilution in the test system that is normally used for the detection of vaccine titers. They do this to conserve reagent and reduce the cost of testing. But because vaccine titers are lower than disease titers, they won’t be detected until the test reagent dilution is set lower.

“I’ll put it a different way: If they utilize disease exposure methodology when what is really wanted is a test to assess the adequacy of vaccination, the results will be negative nearly every time,” said Dodds.

While this scenario sounds like an obvious oversight, Dr. Dodds said she has seen it numerous times. Given her expertise and research on vaccine-related issues, many veterinarians consult with Dr. Dodds regarding supposed vaccination failures.

“I’ve seen it again and again: The owner calls me and says, ‘But I keep vaccinating this animal, and my veterinarian keeps testing him and there is no immunity; what do I do?!’

“Very often,” said Dr. Dodds, “it’s a case where the veterinarian looked at the lab catalog and selected the test called ‘Parvovirus Antibody’ rather than the intended one, which would be ‘Parvovirus Vaccine Antibody’ or ‘Parvovirus Vaccine Titer.’ Meanwhile, the poor animal has been vaccinated repeatedly and unnecessarily, and when we finally get the correct measurement, we find that the animal actually had good immunity all along.”

May not have been parvo
Back to the puppy who was vaccinated but was stricken with parvo anyway: A final explanation is that his illness might have been incorrectly diagnosed. Dr. Dodds explained that veterinarians diagnose parvo by its symptoms – fever, depression, diarrhea, vomiting – and by checking the dog’s stool for the presence of parvovirus or serum antibody level. But other gastrointestinal diseases can produce symptoms that closely resemble those of parvo. And even the presence of low levels of parvovirus in the stool doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog’s symptoms are caused by it.

“Dogs who are vaccinated and fully protected against parvovirus may still shed the virus in their stool if they are exposed to the disease agent,” said Dr. Dodds. “Unless the stool sample revealed a moderate to heavy parvovirus infection, I would suspect that the dog’s symptoms could be caused by something else, or a combination of parvovirus exposure and another infectious agent. For example, the puppy could have been exposed to both parvovirus and corona virus, and then suffered diarrhea and other symptoms as a result of the corona virus alone, because he was adequately protected by vaccination against parvovirus.”

Preventive measures for unvaccinated dogs
Can a superior diet protect unvaccinated dogs against parvo? When parvovirus first infected the world’s dogs, thousands credited Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat and its Natural Rearing philosophy for saving their dogs’ lives. Levy was the first to advocate a well-balanced raw, natural diet for pets.

Marina Zacharias raised four Basset Hound pups on the Natural Rearing diet. When they were six months old, they played with a puppy the day before it was diagnosed with parvo. “For 10 days after exposure, I gave them one of Juliette’s disinfecting herbal formulas plus homeopathic remedies to help boost their immune function,” she says. “On the tenth day, one of my pups started to show symptoms so I treated it with castor oil to help sweep away the virus as Juliette describes in her book, and I continued with homeopathics. Within two hours this pup was completely back to normal. The other three never showed symptoms and remained healthy.”

Zacharias has received similar reports from numerous clients whose raw-fed, unvaccinated puppies were exposed to parvo. Homeopathic nosodes, which are highly diluted remedies made from the disease material of infected animals, have become popular alternatives to conventional vaccines. But many Veterinary homeopaths believe their use as surrogate vaccines is inappropriate.

One is Maryland veterinarian Christina Chambreau, who explains, “The best time to use a homeopathic nosode is after exposure. If you know your dog has been exposed to parvo, you would give a single dose of a 200C-strength homeopathic parvo nosode. This treatment can be given any time after exposure and before the animal gets really sick, such as when it shows minor symptoms like throwing up once or having soft stools.”

Dr. Chambreau says she is aware of about 50 cases in which unvaccinated or minimally vaccinated litters of puppies, kennels of dogs, or individual dogs were exposed to parvo, and after a single treatment with the parvovirus nosode, either did not get the disease at all or had only minor symptoms.

Dr. Chambreau also recommends feeding the best possible diet and boosting the dog’s immune system with supplements such as vitamin C and infection-fighting herbs like echinacea. It is not uncommon, she says, for holistically raised, unvaccinated puppies to have parvo without being diagnosed.

“Many of my clients choose not to vaccinate at all,” Chambreau says, “and it’s not uncommon for their puppies to get sick with a mild case of diarrhea or vomiting that we treat homeopathically or with other holistic therapies. These puppies recover quickly, and what’s interesting is that later, when they’re directly exposed to parvo, they don’t catch it. That minor bout of diarrhea was probably parvo. It’s possible to raise puppies so that they get a natural exposure rather than a vaccine exposure to parvo, and that builds a better immunity than the vaccine in most animals.”

California veterinarian Gloria Dodd first dealt with parvo virus when it appeared 20 years ago. “When parvo first mutated from the Feline Distemper virus, it hit the canine world hard,” she says. “Here was an entire population with no immunity to this new viral infection. In a single week, I was overwhelmed with 55 dogs that had a severe clinical infection with bloody diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and shock.” The virus affected dogs of all ages, from puppies to 15-year-old dogs with congestive heart failure and others with liver and kidney disease.

“To treat this new illness,” she says, “I made an autoisode. An autoisode is a homeopathic remedy made from the secretions, excretions (saliva, urine, or feces), blood, and hair of the infected animal, for these substances contain the infective agent. I used them to make a sterile intravenous injection and gave this to all of the animals. I didn’t lose a single patient.”

The 30C potency parvovirus autoisode that she made during the epidemic has become the basis of her homeopathic parvo prevention, and she is not aware of any animals, either her own or her clients’, breaking with parvo. “On the contrary,” she says, “it has proven to be protective for unrelated infections by building and strengthening the dog’s own immune system to ward off other infective agents. When I gave it to a Connecticut kennel of Boston Terrier show dogs, they were the only dogs that did not contract a kennel cough during an outbreak at a dog show in Massachusetts.”

Weighing the risks
We want our dogs to be healthy and to live forever. Conventional veterinarians see parvo-virus as an easily prevented, unnecessary illness, and vaccination as a simple, inexpensive component of basic care. Many holistic vets take a different view. Both sides make compelling arguments.

“These are difficult decisions,” says Dr. Chambreau. “Which is more devastating: To have an animal die at any age from an acute disease? Or to protect it from the acute disease and watch it develop chronic skin problems, allergies, or autoimmune disorders before it dies of cancer? There are no easy answers.”

-by CJ Puotinen

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Does your Stress become your Canine companions stress?

Stress! Changes! How does a dog deal with our life situations! Actually, that yellow stuff your dog throw up – I call it bile -usually shows itself when your dog gets stressed or worried about their owner’s well-being.

Sometimes our actions can be pretty hard on our Canine companions. If you hurt, they’ll hurt with you. And quite often they’ll cry with you too. You won’t hear the boo hoo hoo but you’ll see the glisten of tears wetting their hair around their eyes.

Contrary to some beliefs, yes, dogs do show emotions. Outward signs are there if you’ll just pay closer attention to your Canine partner. The yellow bile is expelled when the dog is momentarily overwhelmed with the stress or changes your lifestyle is going thru.

Be happy, your dog is showing deep care about you. Try to relax and tone down the drama as best you can. When the going gets tough, get your Canine companion as close to you as you can, and give them some wonderful hugs they need you as well as you need them! These angels can teach us all quite a lot about unwinding and living in the moment and taking deep breaths and trusting.

Oh and by the way, when your dog does that…don’t worry, they’re just expressing their own anxiety, depression and or compassion.

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♥ ♣ ♠ ♦

What can I give my Shih Tzu for catarrh…also known as Kennel Cough?

This is one of those predicaments that is so closely related to our common cold.
You can give the pup medication….BUT…just like for us, it’ll only mask the symptoms.

Our basic common colds have to run the course of 7 to 21 days and so does a kennel cough.
You should not try to care for this problem by yourself, the pup definitely needs the antibiotic.

So, with knowing that, your veterinarian will prescribe Clavamox as an antibiotic to give daily for 2 weeks minimum.

You can get the liquid or the pills. I personally prefer the pills. I just stick it in the center of a piece of their can of beef chunks.

I’ll buy those cans when I know it’s pill time for someone.
Canned food is not an everyday staple as I prefer the dry kernels as their food.
But it’s good to have some handy when the time arises to pop them a pill.
The shelf like of the liquid Clavamox is only 10 days refrigerated.

Kennel Cough is a common problem which is easily cared for. Although it certainly makes your pup miserable and is scary to see your pup experience this, it rarely kills. They will cough as if gagging on a dry cotton ball. Take your pet to the Vet ASAP! If you can’t make it to the Vet, over the counter cough suppressants can soothe your pet’s throat till you get a chance.

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