Why Do Some Dog Breeds Have Their Tails Cut Off?

One method of tail docking is performed when a puppy is between 2 and 5 days old. The breeder uses surgical scissors to cut off the puppy’s tail without anesthetic.

I was playing with one of my favorite neighborhood dogs the other day.  He is a beautiful Boxer with the sweetest disposition and is the patriarch of the neighborhood dogs.  He has not been neutered, but he has no tail.  I asked his owner why he would have one of the procedures done and not the other, and why he chose tail docking.  His response was that the breeder had done it before he adopted his dog.  He wasn’t even offered the option.  I have heard this before, from a client who owns a Cockapoo.  She said she wasn’t even aware that there was a choice until after she had picked up her puppy.  This made me wonder why some dog breeds have their tails cut off?  What is the reasoning behind the procedure and how it benefits the dog?

I decided to do some research and came up with some surprising information.  I had always assumed that was supposed to have some kind of medical benefit, but why?  Here is what I discovered:

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

What is Tail Docking and how is it done?

Tail Docking, also known as Tail Bobbing or Tail Cutting, is the process of removing most of a dog’s tail at the base.  There are 3 methods of removal. 

The first is performed by the breeder.  A strong rubber tie is wrapped around the tail.  This cuts off the circulation from the body to the tail.  The part of the tail beyond the tie is expected to fall off after a few days.  This has to be performed when the puppy is between 2 and 5 days old.

Some dog breeds have their tails cut off (Tail Docking) because they are working dogs, but most have it done for aesthetic reasons. Many owners don't even know  how the tail is removed or that Tail Docking is an option. Photo of a Cockapoo with a docked tail.
Some dog breeds have their tails cut off (Tail Docking) because they are working dogs, but most have it done for aesthetic reasons. Many owners don’t even know how the tail is removed or that Tail Docking is an option.

The second method, also performed by a breeder when the puppy is between 2 and 5 days old, is performed by cutting off the puppy’s tail using surgical scissors. Neither of these two processes involve the use of anesthetic and the puppies are awake.  Because of the circulation to the tail at this age, stitches are not usually necessary. 

The third method involves a veterinarian.  This is done when the dog is over 8 weeks old. The vet will place the puppy under anesthetic and use a scalpel to remove the tail.  The skin at the base of the tail is pulled over the open wound and held together with stitches.

According to the RSPCA and many other studies, any of these processes cause considerable pain at the time of removal and can result in long term pain as well as associated medical, emotional and social issues.

In 1996 The University of Queensland did a study of 50 puppies.  This was included in their findings:

“The behaviour of 50 puppies of traditionally docked breeds was recorded during and after the procedure of tail docking at the University of Queensland Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital. The behaviours were recorded at the time of the procedure and then in 5 second intervals for the first minute followed by 10 second intervals until the pup settled to sleep. All puppies vocalised intensely (‘shrieking’) at the time of amputation of the tail, averaging 24 shrieks (range of 5 to 33).”

Read more here:  https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:712177

History of Tail Docking

Tail docking began many centuries ago.  Dogs were not pets in the sense that they are today.  Although still considered companions, most were working dogs. They were used for herding on farms or as hunting dogs.  On farms, dogs would round up cattle or sheep. Because of their close proximity to the larger animals as well as their exposure to machinery, it was felt that their tails were subject to injury. It was thought that removing the tail was a preventative measure to ensure the dog’s safety.

A hunting dog had the potential to engage in fights with other animals.  It was felt that the tail provided a disadvantage as the opponent had something to grab on to, leaving the dog vulnerable. In both cases there was also the concern that if these dogs got too dirty, there could be issues with infection. In later years, when employed as police or guard dogs, this same principle of the dog being vulnerable applied, and the tails were removed for these working dogs.

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Current Reasons for Tail Docking:

For working dogs in the military, on the police force or on farms, the reason for tail docking continues to be for the safety of the dog.  Many dogs who do not work also have their tails docked.  This is often for aesthetic reasons.  The owners feel the dog looks better without a tail or that this provides a look that is familiar to the breed.  Tail docking, for some breeds, has been a requirement for some show dogs to be allowed to compete. 

There is also the belief that it is required.  Many people who are purchasing dogs from breeders are not even aware that tail docking is an option.  The breeders perform the docking and sell the pups already altered.  The owners, in a number of cases, are not even aware of the reasoning behind the removal of the tail, the process by which it is removed nor the potential hazards associated with it.

Which Breeds Most Commonly Dock Tails?

Only certain breeds customarily have their tails removed.  These include:  Dobermans, Rottweilers, Boxers, Cocker Spaniels, Schnauzers and Poodles.  The American Kennel Club has identified over 60 breeds that are known to have docked tails.

NOTEWORTHY:

In most areas of Canada and the US, tail docking is not illegal.  In many countries the procedure is illegal, banned or, at the very least, must be performed by a veterinarian and a medical or other suitable reason is required before the surgery is performed.

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Canine Coronavirus

Canine Coronavirus is an intestinal disease and cannot be transmitted to humans. COVID-19 is a respiratory condition. To date there have been no documented cases of dog-to- human transmission.

We are all aware of the term Coronavirus, and there are many stories floating around about whether or not dogs can transmit coronavirus (Covid-19) to humans.  These stories are confusing and creating unnecessary fear.  The term Coronavirus is a large group of diseases that encompasses hundreds of different viruses of varying intensities, including the most recent strain COVID-19. Other familiar strains include SARS, MERS and even Canine Coronavirus.

I am not a veterinarian nor medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post called Let Your Dog Sniff – Pros vs. Cons.  When I was researching the post, I found a description of what illnesses can be found in dog feces and why you should be careful of what your dog is sniffing.  One of the things I learned was that coronavirus can be found in dog poop.  At the time, the term meant little to me, but in light of the recent pandemic, I was curious.

“COVID-19 cannot be transmitted between dogs and humans.”

Update April 5th, 2020:

There has been an incident of COVID -19 found in a Tiger at the Bronx Zoo, reportedly transmitted from a zoo worker to the animal. This indicates some possibility of transmission between humans and animals. If you are showing signs of COVID-19, or have been diagnosed positive for the virus, it is best to avoid contact with your pet. It’s best not to sleep with, cough or sneeze around, or touch your pet with your bare hands. If you are healthy and out walking your dog while practicing safe distancing, it would be best not to allow others to pet your dog. The likelihood that the virus will survive on a dog’s fur for any length of time is very slim, but better to be on the safe side.

I have read many articles, posts and even memes recently, stating that the World Health Organization has determined that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted by dogs.  This news was comforting on many levels.  Firstly, mass panic in some countries was causing people to abandon their pets (or worse) for fear of having them transmit the deadly virus.  This news update put minds at ease and saved the lives of many animals. Being a dog walker exposes me to many dogs in parks and on walks. Also, I am working with many animals whose family members may or may not be at risk. Admittedly, this news from the WHO brought me a small bit of comfort.

Still puzzled by the information I had previously found regarding coronavirus in dog poop, I decided that I needed to clarify all the confusing information.  I discovered that there is a Canine Coronavirus which is specific to dogs and cannot be transmitted to humans.

What is Canine Coronavirus?
A dog sniffing or ingesting infected poop can contract Canine Coronavirus.
A dog sniffing or ingesting infected poop can contract Canine Coronavirus.

Canine Coronavirus is an intestinal disease that is transmitted from one dog to another through contact with fecal matter (poop).  A dog sniffing and/or ingesting infected poop can contract and spread the virus to other dogs.  It is not an airborne disease, but tends to spread in places where large groups of dogs gather.  It can be transmitted through direct contact with contaminated dogs as well as through sharing contaminated food dishes. In dog parks where many dogs poop, there are traces of fecal matter everywhere.  When your dog steps in it and then licks his paws, he is ingesting these traces.   

Symptoms of Canine Coronavirus:

Adult dogs may demonstrate a few minor symptoms or none at all when infected with the virus.  These only last a few days and include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Reduced food consumption
  • Rarely they will develop a fever

In puppies the disease can be significantly more serious. Because secondary infections can develop in respiratory system, the puppy can become septic if left untreated.  It is important that you take your puppy to the vet at the first sign of any unusual symptoms.  Antibiotics can be prescribed to clear up the respiratory and other secondary infections.

Incubation Period and Prevention of Canine Coronavirus?

A dog can carry the virus for up to 6 months from the time of contact.  Your dog can unknowingly transmit the virus during this period. As he may not show any signs of illness, it is imperative that you clean up after your pup. Always be aware of what he is exposed to while sniffing around on walks. You should refrain from allowing your dog to eat from group food bowls.  Many people who are trying to be generous will offer food bowls in dog parks. Group doggy daycare environments may leave a large bowl of kibble out for all dogs in their care.  These practices can cause the spread of Canine Coronavirus. 

Summary

Canine Coronavirus is an intestinal disease and cannot be transmitted to humans.  COVID-19 is a respiratory condition. To date there have been no documented cases of dog-to-human transmission.

As always, you should be aware of any change in your doggo’s behavior, sleep patterns, eating habits or changes in fecal matter; including frequency, consistency, color and odor.  Behavior, appetite and poop are the strongest indicators of your dog’s health. Any changes in these areas should be monitored, evaluated and assessed by a veterinarian as soon as symptoms develop.

Wash your paws and play Safe!

Sources
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Microchipping Your Pets

It is a small chip that is similar in size to a grain of rice. It is programmed with a number that is assigned to your pet along with the phone number of the company that issued the chip. Should your pet be found outside, the vet can wave a scanner over the location of the chip and the phone number and pet number appear on the scanning device.

You never think it will happen to you. You open the door and your pet bolts out before you have a chance to stop him. As I walk through the various neighborhoods with my Doggos, I see so many lost animal signs on posts, fences, mail boxes – anywhere a desperate pet parent thinks there is a chance that someone might have seen their dog or cat. Animal shelters and vets continuously receive calls from frantic and desperate people who have lost their pets. They see animals daily who have been found and brought to them in hopes that someone will be reunited with their beloved family pet. There are times when these methods work, but all too often, they are not enough and the animal has to be re-homed, or worse. Microchipping your pets will help to identify them should they be found.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

My dog has tags on his collar

For years, the best method of attempting to make sure your pet would be returned has been a tag on his collar. The tag provided the pet’s name and your phone number. If your pet was found, hopefully the person would be honest enough to call and return him, or at least bring him to an animal care worker to have them contact you. This has been somewhat effective, but there are circumstances where this fails. As we have discussed in my post Collar vs. Harness, using a collar all the time can be unsafe unless you are using a break-away style. This means that if your dog bolts from the home, he may not be wearing a collar or the collar may come off if he gets hooked on something while running around outside. This is where the microchip could be the best alternative.

What is a Microchip?

It is a small chip that is similar in size to a grain of rice. It is programmed with a number that is assigned to your pet along with the phone number of the company that issued the chip. When your pet is found, a veterinarian can wave a scanner over the location of the chip. The phone number and pet number appear on the scanning device. The vet then calls the phone number and provides them with your pet’s ID number found in the chip. The number is run through a database and your contact information is provided. The vet can then contact you and tell you where to come and pick up your fur baby.

How is the Microchip Inserted?

The microchip comes in a large syringe (needle) that the vet inserts between your pet’s shoulder blades. There is some fatty tissue in that area that allows it to sit comfortably, and your pet will not feel it once it has been placed. It is made of a material that allows it to attach itself to the tissues, keeping it firmly in place.

Does it hurt?

Because the need is larger than a normal needle, the initial injection does hurt more than a vaccination. Some vets will freeze the area before insertion, but many do it without it. The process is extremely quick and your pet’s reaction is very brief, indicating that the pain is minimal. There may be a trace amount of bleeding at the site and a small scab is possible.

As always, discuss this and every other medical process with your vet. Pet care is a very personal decision and the best practice for your pet may not be the same as it is for someone else’s. You are already doing your research by reading about microchipping. Make a list of any questions or concerns before you see the vet and have them answered before you proceed. If you are comfortable with the answers you can make your decision with confidence.

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Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Dogs can develop a number of complications from poor dental hygiene, just as humans can. Tartar and plaque buildup, periodontal disease and other oral infections can not only affect the mouth area, but can travel through the dog’s body causing damage to the to the heart as well as other organs.

How important is cleaning your dog’s teeth? Very! Dogs can develop many complications from poor dental hygiene, just as humans can. Tartar and plaque buildup, periodontal disease and other oral infections can not only affect the mouth area, but can travel through the dog’s body causing damage to the to the heart as well as other organs. Brushing your dog’s teeth can prevent numerous medical issues for your pet.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Cleaning a dog’s teeth only takes 2 minutes. Once your dog is used to the practice, it will become as much a part of his daily routine as eating. These two minutes can save your doggo some serious medical issues and discomfort. It can save you thousands of dollars. A simple teeth cleaning can cost $1000.00. This does not include any specific tooth repair or extractions that can be avoided by a proper dental hygiene routine, just as you do for yourself.

Preparing Your Dog for a Cleaning

If your dog has never had his teeth cleaned, you can start by getting him comfortable with having your hands around or in his mouth. A puppy will adapt more easily, but even an older dog will get accustomed to the process if you start slow and use the proper tools. First thing to do is to get toothpaste that is made especially for dogs. There are many flavours to choose from that will make it inviting for your dog. Is he a chicken fan? Yep, they have that flavour too!

DO NOT USE HUMAN TOOTHPASTE! IT IS TOXIC FOR DOGS

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
Close up of a Golden Retriever smiling and showing his bottom teeth.
Start by getting your dog used to having fingers
in his mouth. Once your pup is comfortable with
this process, you can introduce a toothbrush.
You can use a soft human toothbrush or a dog
specific brush.

Now that you have the toothpaste, sit your dog somewhere where he is comfortable. Start by moving your hands and fingers around his mouth. Speak soothingly to him so he knows it’s a good touch. Once he is comfortable, add a bit of the flavored toothpaste to your finger and gently rub your finger over the teeth on the side of his mouth. Lift his lip for better access. Move from the canine (the big pointy one) back toward the molars. Do this on the top and the bottom of each side of the mouth. You will notice that your dog is licking and enjoying the flavor of the toothpaste, as if you had given him a treat.

Once your pup is comfortable with this process, you can introduce a toothbrush. You can use a soft human toothbrush or a doggo specific brush. The dog toothbrush usually has two sizes, one on each end. This allows you to select the appropriate size for the size of your dog. If your dog is more comfortable having your finger in his mouth, a finger toothbrush that you just slide on your index finger into and add the toothpaste, may be a better choice.

Be Observant

While you are brushing your dog’s teeth, be sure to watch for any unusual issues, including decay, broken teeth, broken gums or abscesses. As with any medical issue, early detection will result in faster and easier treatment and recovery.

Sometimes dogs just can’t tolerate having you clean their teeth. If this is the case, there are other options. You can have your vet clean them for you or you can ask for a recommendation of chew toys that will help to keep your dog’s teeth as clean as possible.

There are a number of choices that dogs enjoy playing with. Some toys allow you to apply the flavored toothpaste to them. This helps to ensure that he gets the benefit of the enzymes and not just the brushing action.  Always check with your vet to be sure the chew toy you select is safe for your pet.

Pet parenting is an ongoing learning experience. It’s always nice to know that others are experiencing the same milestones, challenges, and celebrations that you are. Keep in touch with The Doggo Files by signing up for our biweekly emails!

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Protecting your Dogs Paws from Cold, Salt and Heat

The pads of a dog’s feet are exposed to extreme temperatures and various things left on sidewalks

You look outside and see a beautiful winter wonderland. You get up, put on your coat and boots, put a harness and nice winter coat on your doggo and head out the door. Ten minutes into your walk, your pup is walking on three paws and holding the fourth up in the air. This happens so often. It could be the cold, the paw could be irritated by salt, an ice pellet may be stuck between the toes or an entire chunk of salt might be stuck up in there. Any of these problems will take the fun out of winter for these poor dogs, who, for the most part, love to frolic in the snow. There are a few ways of protecting your dog’s paws from the elements.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

So, what are the options?

Many people choose booties. These are great because they offer protection from all of the elements. They are warm and there is no need to wipe paws when they return home; a process that few dogs enjoy. It may take a while for your dog to get used to the feeling of having something on their feet. Take few practice runs in the house before going outside to help your pup adapt. Initially they may bite at them or refuse to stand or move once they are up, but it will become as routine as putting on a harness for both of you.

120x90 Walkee Paws Logo

It is important to choose well fitting booties with proper tread. I have found that a Velcro strap to adjust tension helps with comfort and keeps the bootie from coming off.

Another option is to choose a paw protection wax which you apply directly to the bottom of your dog’s foot. It coats the pads and puts a layer of protection between your dog’s paws and the elements. If your dog is adamant about not wearing booties, this is a great alternative. It’s best to choose a wax that is made from natural ingredients. Your dog will likely wind up ingesting anything you smear on his paws, so having healthy ingredients will save any other potential problems.

Whatever method you choose for protecting your dog’s paws, you can help maintain the health of his feet by applying a balm to help with dryness or cracking. This can be brought on by walking in all weather, including heat. The pads of a dog’s feet are exposed to extreme temperatures and various things left on sidewalks. Using a moisturizer specific to a dog’s needs, will keep your doggo comfortable.

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10 Foods that are Dangerous for Dogs

The best option is to refrain from giving our pups leftovers and samples from our plates as even the ingredients we don’t see can be life threatening. Choose healthy foods and treats for your dogs and keep a close eye on them when out walking or in dog parks.

We’ve all had that moment when we find our dog chewing on something that they picked up when we thought we were watching closely. They are fast and they smell things we can’t even see. That’s when you reach in and pull it out without even thinking of the potential repercussions of sticking your hand into a very well toothed mouth to take something that they want. You just do it, because you know that they may be consuming something dangerous. What we often don’t realize is that the foods we eat can be the most dangerous foods for dogs.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Everyone knows not to give their dog chocolate, but what else should we avoid? How do these foods affect our doggos? What symptoms should we look for?

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

Below is a list of 10 of the most dangerous foods for dogs, some symptoms to watch for and the potential outcome:

The best option is to refrain from giving our pups leftovers and samples from our plates. Even the ingredients we don’t see can be life threatening. Choose healthy foods and treats for your dogs and keep a close eye on them when out walking or in dog parks. You never know what other people have dropped or, sadly, intentionally left where dogs can swallow it.

WagWell Box

If you see any unusual symptoms, these or others, see a vet immediately as situations can escalate quickly.

Sources

https://www.petmd.com/dog/chocolate-toxicity

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets

https://www.vets-now.com/2017/01/foods-poisonous-to-dogs/

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Collar vs. Harness – Protecting Your Dog’s Neck and Spine

There are many potential hazards associated with the pressure a collar places on a dog’s neck, throat and spine.

Wearing collars in the house:

Dog collars are great for attaching dog tags and licences to, but that is about it.  Many pet parents are unaware that puppies and dogs who spend time in crates while wearing regular collars are put in jeopardy every time you leave them unsupervised. There are thousands of cases annually where dogs have accidentally strangled or hung themselves by getting caught on the bars of the crate and were unable to wriggle themselves free. Choosing the safest dog collar or harness depends on your dog’s needs and habits.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

This can best be avoided by removing the collar altogether before entering the crate or pen. Another option is to use a break away collar. In the case of an emergency, the dog pulling to get loose will release the clasp on the collar and the dog will be free and safe. I actually experienced this recently with my cat. We came home to find that the cat had no collar on. It was several days before we found the collar. It was wrapped around the floor-level hooks on our coat rack. Had he not been wearing a break-away collar; he may not have survived. Because of this incident, he no longer wears a collar at all. It’s just too dangerous.

Wearing collars on a walk:

Collars were traditionally used to attach leashes to when walking your dog. We are now learning that there are many potential hazards associated with the pressure a collar places on a dog’s neck, throat and spine. If the dog walks easily beside you, and never pulls, there is little chance of damage. The likelihood that your dog never pulls for any reason, is very slim. If a dog sees a squirrel, another dog, a favorite person, if he gets startled or needs correcting, the leash will probably reach full tension. As soon as this happens pressure is placed on the dog’s neck. This is where the decision between dog collar or harness comes in.

Below the area of the neck where a standard collar rests on a dog’s neck is a thin layer of skin which covers the trachea, larynx, thyroid and cervical spine. When the dog pulls (or is pulled) the collar can place pressure on any of these areas causing permanent damage. Pressure on the neck can even result in damage to the eyes. Sometimes when I am walking, I see a dog who is pulling so hard on the leash that I can actually hear the dog struggling to breathe. I am not sure why they don’t stop pulling when this level of discomfort is reached. I don’t think that dogs have the mental capacity to logically associate that if they were to stop pulling it would make it easier to breathe.

Harness
If you use a well-fitting harness – one that rests below the neck and does not rub behind the front legs – your dog will be safe and comfortable.

Now that we know that, for most dogs, we probably don’t want to attach our dog’s leash to a collar, we have to choose an alternative. A shock collar is out of the question for me. Controlling a dog with pain is, in my opinion, cruel and inhumane. What’s the safest choice? A harness. If you use a well-fitting harness – one that rests below the neck and does not rub behind the front legs – your dog will be safe and comfortable.

A leash can be attached in two places on a harness. Some have the D-link on the back, allowing the leash to pull from behind. There is little control over pulling, jumping or for training purposes when attached in this location. For a trained dog, this provides a safe and comfortable option. Deciding on a harness with the D-link in the front at the chest level offers more control over the dog’s movements. When training this serves as a gentle reminder not to pull. The resistance comes from a place that does no physical damage at all to your dog. When training or when more control is desired, choose a harness that is reversible or has a D-link in both places .

When deciding whether to choose a dog collar or harness, please consider your doggo’s safety and comfort. They will protect us from anything. We should do the same for them.

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Kennel Cough: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Kennel Cough is very common and, once diagnosed by a professional, can be treated with the use pharmaceuticals, naturopathic methods or a combination of the two.

When your dog coughs a deep, honking, raspy sounding cough, it can be very concerning and even frightening. This sound could indicate Kennel Cough. Kennel Cough is very common and, once diagnosed by a professional, can be treated with the use pharmaceuticals, naturalistic methods or a combination of the two. Knowing the symptoms, treatment and prevention of Kennel cough will help your dog should he be exposed.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

What is Kennel Cough?

It is a contagious upper respiratory infection that can be brought on by both a virus or exposure to a bacterial infection. It can be airborne or spread through direct contact with, including licking and sniffing, an infected surface. The “honking” noise occurs when there is inflammation around the larynx.

NOTE: The effects of Kennel cough can be much more serious for a senior dog or a puppy as their immune systems are not as strong.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

What are the symptoms of Kennel Cough?

Along with the nasty cough, there can be a number of other cold-like symptoms. Your doggo might sneeze or have a runny nose. He could also have runny eyes, a low-grade fever, lethargy and a reduced appetite. Basically, all the symptoms humans exhibit when they have a bad cold. If left untreated, the symptoms can become more severe and ultimately lead to pneumonia – or worse. These symptoms can last up to 7 weeks, even longer if it’s a puppy or a senior dog. Even after the symptoms have cleared, your dog can be a carrier for several weeks.

How is Kennel cough transmitted?

Kennel cough is generally spread in areas where multiple dogs gather. This includes doggy daycares, shelters, boarding locations and even dog parks. When a dog that is carrying the virus coughs or sneezes the germs are released into the air. Poor ventilation can cause the airborne particles to spread quickly from dog to dog. In the case of the dog park, from nose to nose contact.

Treating Kennel Cough

The pharmaceutical methods typically include antibiotics to clear the infection and veterinary cough medicine to ease the symptoms and make your dog comfortable. Some natural methods include using a humidifier, honey and chicken soup. A humidifier will moisturize the air which can help to reduce the dry cough. Honey has natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to treat the symptoms. The honey will also coat the throat, minimizing the irritation which lessens the desire to cough. Chicken soup, as with humans, can sooth the throat while helping to reinforce the immune system. (Please make the soup from scratch or use sodium-free packaged soup.)

Preventing Kennel Cough

Prevention is largely done by isolating the dogs that have been exposed to the virus. When selecting a daycare or boarding facility, do some investigating to be sure that they do not have a current outbreak and that they have proper ventilation to reduce the risk of transmission should one of the other dogs be a carrier. The Bordetella vaccine is available to help fight the bacteria that, combined with the virus, results in kennel cough. There are different ways of administering the vaccine; orally, through nose drops or by injection.

You should always discuss the best prevention and treatment options for your individual pet with your vet.

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Anal Gland Expression for Dogs

Anal glands that are not expressed can become infected, impacted or cause an abscess to form

A few years ago, my German Shepherd began incessantly licking her rear end. She was still eating, drinking, walking and playing normally, but whenever she lay down in her favorite armchair she would start licking again. I thought maybe she had worms, but that test came up clear. The vet said he wanted to check her anal glands. After the inspection he said that one needed to be expressed and that the other had ruptured. This was my introduction to the importance of anal gland expression in dogs.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

I was surprised, as I had only ever heard of this being an issue for small dogs. She had not shown any long-term signs of discomfort. No scooting or pain when pooping. Most of my friends and clients that I spoke with who have large dogs were unaware that this could happen to a Shepherd. Because this was all very confusing, I looked into the process of anal gland expression in dogs. I wanted to know what they were, how they became clogged, how to express them and what would happen if they were not tended to.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

What are Anal Glands?

Anal glands are two small sacs on either side of the anus. Each sac has a tiny hole close to the anus that contains fluid that is pushed out with the pressure of a bowel movement. This fluid coats the poop and has a very specific scent that identifies each dog. This is used to mark a dog’s territory.

Anal glands that are not expressed can become infected, impacted or cause an abscess to form.

Occasionally, not all the fluid is pushed out. When this happens, the anal gland(s) can become impacted, which is very uncomfortable. You will see the dog licking or biting at the anus or scooting across the floor in an attempt to relieve the impaction. Because these can also be symptoms of other conditions like worms or intestinal issues, it is best to seek advice from your vet if this is something that is new to your dog.

Some vets or groomers will offer to show you how to check and express the anal glands yourself, if that is something you would prefer to do. If you attempt to express the fluid and find that there is no impaction and the dog continues to show symptoms of discomfort, seek veterinary advice. There may be another cause for these symptoms that requires medical treatment.

What happens if impacted anal glands aren’t expressed?

WebMd states that when the fluid is left in the gland, it can become infected. The vet will have to drain the infection and the vet may prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection. Delaying expression could also cause an abscess to form. This may result in the need for surgery to remove the anal gland(s). This surgery has the potential to cause long term issues including incontinence.

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