5 Ways On Managing Your Dog’s Skin Allergies

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By Monica Mendoza

walkingdogJust like us humans, our dogs can be prone to skin allergies, causing them to scratch, itch, and chew at their skin and fur. This can cause not only unattractive, bald patches on their coat but possible wounds and injuries as well.

Fortunately, there are ways to help manage your dog’s skin allergies, or even prevent them from being triggered – with some you can do even before a veterinarian has to get involved. Below is a list to helpful tips you can implement in case you’ve noticed your dog scratching and itching more than usual.

Prevent flea infestation at all costs. Nothing can trigger or exacerbate a dog’s skin allergy faster and more effectively than fleas. In fact, it would only take a couple of bites from a lone flea to get your furry companion to scratch themselves until they’ve gouged bloody scratches onto their skin. Imagine, then, how they would feel with a full-blown flea infestation. As such, you should always have your dog on some sort of flea prevention method as much as possible. Giving them regular anti-flea treatment baths and powders are both effective solutions.

Buy only hypoallergenic accessories for your dog. Another similarity between dogs and humans when it comes to skin allergies is that the materials making up their accessories could also trigger an allergic reaction. Some dogs, for example, can get contact dermatitis from metal collars, while others may get skin irritation from wool covers on their beddings. In such cases it’s recommended to just get a brand new dog collar or cover, preferably one that’s made of hypoallergenic material and clearly sold as such. You may have to work with your veterinarian to verify what is hypoallergenic to your dog and what isn’t.

Maintain a strict diet. While the occasional store-bought treat is harmless and can give your dog a great mood boost, it’s always a good idea to keep your dog on a strict and hypoallergenic diet. Use fruit or brightly-colored vegetables (such as carrots) as treats instead of those with preservatives or artificial flavorings. Avoid giving your dog anything that has poultry, dairy or beef in it, as they are common allergy triggers.

Give your dog regular baths. Some dogs love baths while others just won’t get one without a fight. Whichever category your dog falls into, it’s important for them to be bathed one or twice a week – preferably with a gentle, soap-free shampoo formulated especially for canines. If you’ve already been to the veterinarian, then they should have already prescribed a medicated shampoo for your dog to use. Also, be sure to wash off all the shampoo suds off your dog completely, as any leftover suds may cause itching.

Have your dog undergo allergy testing and immunization therapy. Figuring out what is responsible for your dog’s allergy can be a trial of patience and anxiety. If you and your dog are both at your wits’ ends, you can go right to the veterinarian and have them perform allergy testing on your canine companion. From there, it’s possible that your dog will have to undergo immunotherapy – i.e. having your dog regularly injected with serum in order to desensitize them to their allergens and train their immune systems to ‘ignore’ the allergens. This may be a cost-prohibitive measure and involve multiple visits, but you’ll no longer have to worry about your dog having an allergic reaction, especially if it turns out that his allergens are something very common (such as pollen or even human dander).

Skin allergies are no picnic, especially for a dog. However, as their owners and companions, we can take certain steps in order to prevent our pets from developing these allergies. As with all medical advice, however, if you’re not sure about your dog’s allergies, it’s always a good idea to skip the self-diagnosis and go straight to the veterinarian.

U.S. Dogs And Cats Overweight

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walkingdogFrom Your Health Journal…..”I wanted to promote an article I read recently by by Stacy Fox from KHOU entitled Animal Attraction: Fifty-five Percent of U.S. Dogs and Cats Overweight in Latest Veterinary Survey. Now, obviously we do not cover pet health too often here at Your Health Journal. But, this article brings up an interesting concept, as there is a human obesity problem in the US, but interestingly enough, there is the same problem with pets. Is it a lifestyle problem, eating problem? If a pet owner is sedentary, does the pet become very sedentary? Is there a relationship between pet obesity and human obesity? A recent report found 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats to be overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals approximately 80 million U.S. dogs and cats at increased risk for weight-related disorders such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension and many cancers. Please visit the KHOU web site (link provided below) to read the complete article, it was well written and informative.”

From the article…..

U.S. pet obesity rates continued to increase in 2012 with the number of overweight cats reaching an all-time high. The sixth annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats to be overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals approximately 80 million U.S. dogs and cats at increased risk for weight-related disorders such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension and many cancers.

“Pet obesity remains the leading health threat to our nation’s pets.” states APOP’s founder and lead veterinarian for the survey Dr. Ernie Ward . “We continue to see an escalation in the number of overweight cats and an explosion in the number of type 2 diabetes cases.”

New York-based veterinary endocrinologist and APOP board member Dr. Mark Peterson agrees. “The soaring rate of feline and canine obesity is taking a terrible toll on our animals’ health. There is a vast population of overweight cats and dogs facing an epidemic of diabetes. The best preventive measure a pet owner can make is to keep their dog or cat at a healthy weight. Diabetes is far easier to prevent than treat, especially when twice daily insulin injections are needed.”

Veterinary nutritionist and internal medicine specialist at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Joe Bartges cautions that many pet owners don’t recognize when their pet is overweight. “In this survey, approximately 45 percent of cat and dog owners assessed their pet as having a normal body weight when the veterinarian assessed the pet to be overweight.” Dr. Ward calls the phenomenon of incorrectly evaluating an overweight pet as normal “the fat gap.” “The disconnect between reality and what a pet parent thinks is obese makes having a conversation with their veterinarian more challenging. Many pet owners are shocked when their veterinarian informs them their pet needs to lose weight. They just don’t see it.”

To read the full article…..Click here

Type 1 Diabetes Cured In Dogs

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diabetesglucoseExciting news has been published this week by Diabetes, the most important journal on the disease. Researchers from the Universitat Autonomica de Barcelona (UAB) have shown for the first time that it is possible to cure Type 1 Diabetes in large animals with gene therapy. Two diabetic dogs were treated with a single session of gene therapy, and completely recovered their health and no longer show any signs of the disease.

Gene therapy is a new way of treating disease that uses DNA as a pharmaceutical agent. An injection of modified genes are injected into the patient, and the DNA modifies or supplements the patient’s genes so as to better fight off any given disease. Gene therapy can be used to encode a functional gene that helps a cell fight off disease, correct mutations, or create a therapeutic protein drug.

The researchers at UAB led by Fatima Bosch achieved their results with only one round of injections to the dog’s rear legs. These injections introduced gene therapy vectors that accomplished two things: they expressed an insulin gene, and they activated glucokinase. Glucokinase is an enzyme that controls how much glucose is taken out of the blood stream, and when both of these new genes act together, they work as a ‘glucose detector’, which helps control the glucose levels in the blood and thus reducing hypoglycemia.

diabeteswordThe dogs were treated over four years ago, and since that single round of treatments have shown consistently better health than other dogs that were given frequent insulin shots to help control their diabetes. They showed good glucose levels at all times, even after meals or during fasts, and improved their weight and developed no secondary complications.

This is the first study to be successfully run on a large mammal, though excellent results were achieved before with mice. The success that the UAB team has achieved with dogs opens the doors to developing gene therapy techniques for veterinary medicine, and eventually into treating diabetic human patients. This revolutionary achievement opens high expectations that gene therapy may prove to be the best solution to our burgeoning diabetes crisis, and the fact that only one session was needed also speaks to both the efficacy of the treatment and its permanent benefits.

Phil Tucker is a health and fitness blogger. He’s looking to feel younger as he gets older – check out his webpage to learn more, or read his blog!

Guest Post – Julie Austin, How Man’s Best Friend Can Help Your Family Live A Longer, Healthier Life

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Man’s Best Friend Can Help Your Family Live A Longer, Healthier Life

Growing up I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a dog in the house. I just thought they were good buddies, but I never knew they were actually helping us live longer. In fact, studies show that people who have dogs live an average of 3 years longer than non-dog owners.

If that’s not a good enough reason, then wait, there’s more! Any dog owner will tell you that within a few minutes of being around Fido or Scruffy, they just simply feel better and less stressed. Science tells us it’s not just your imagination. The stress hormone cortisol is actually lowered after spending time with the family dog. Anything that lowers stress is good for your overall health.

Studies show that people who have dogs live an average of 3 years longer than non-dog owners.

Researchers have found that kids who grow up on a farm with animals or in a home with dogs are less likely to develop allergies. They also tend to have a healthier immune system and are less likely to be depressed. Studies show that dog owners are more likely to see the world in a more positive way and are less likely to have as much anxiety.

The American Journal for Preventive Medicine revealed that “dog owners walked an average of 300 minutes a week compared to non-dog owners who walked an average of 168 minutes a week.” And a University of Virgina study showed that teenagers got an average of 15 minutes more exercise a week than those that didn’t have a dog.

walkingdogJust the fact that dogs have to be walked at least twice a day forces you to get some exercise. But it’s even better than that. Have you ever noticed that dogs are a good conversation starter? They also kind of force you to be social, which is good for your mental health. I’ve noticed that the neighbors refer to people as Max’s mom or Molly’s dad. Just having a dog makes people more comfortable about talking to strangers and gives them something in common to talk about.

A doggie park is a great way to meet new friends and stay active at the same time. Encourage the kids to bring a Frisbee and a ball and you’ve just created your own workout routine. There are even yoga classes for people and their dogs called doga.

Watch for signs that your dog is tiring or dehydrated and bring plenty of water for them. Just like a person who is just starting a workout routine, make sure you ease the dog into it slowly and go at their pace. If you notice they are drooling, stumbling or having trouble breathing, stop for the day. It’s best to wait until they are at least 9 months old before engaging them in any strenuous exercise. Also, older dogs usually don’t have the same energy as a young child, so take it easy with them as well.

Owning a dog is as good for the kids as it is for adults. But owning a dog is a big responsibility. Make sure the whole family is on board with the job of caring for them. As any dog owner will tell you, a dog is one of the greatest joys in life, and now we know they also extend our lives as well.

– Julie Austin is an award-winning writer and inventor. Her product Swiggies, wrist water bottles for adults and kids, was a NASDAQ product of the year semi finalist and are sold in over 20 countries. They have been approved by Child Safe International as a safe, BPA-free product.