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On the Couch

with Cristina Vulpe PhD
Popular Pet
Questions Answered
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Does Your Pet Have You Stumped!

In this section Dr. Vulpe will tackle popular dog and cat questions.

Dogs Questions

Depending on its ingredients, lipstick can cause a variety of digestive problems in most dogs, especially Labradors, which seem to be keener than other breeds when it comes to eating makeup.

The lipstick itself, depending on whether it’s natural or not, might not pose a health risk. However, if your dog has also swallowed the lipstick tubing, that one can lead to serious tears in the intestinal and stomach lining.

Take your dog to the vet clinic as soon as possible, especially if he also swallowed the tubing.

Lumps and bumps are formations that can be of different nature and size. They are more common in geriatric patients than they are in young dogs, and that’s because most older dogs are predisposed to developing benign tumours such as lipoma, for example.

However, the older your dog gets, the higher the likelihood for him to develop malignant lumps and bumps. Nodules can also be caused by shots, specifically vaccine injections.

Unfortunately, cases of injection-site sarcoma in both cats and dogs are not uncommon these days, even though manufacturers are trying to get rid of some carcinogenic ingredients such as aluminum and other additives.

Pica (the disorder that makes dogs consume foods that shouldn’t be a part of their diet) is more common in bored or anxious canines. On the other hand, it can also show up as a result of digestive imbalances, where the dog actually feels like he needs more fibre and as such, tries to regulate his transit by eating grass.

Some dogs induce vomiting by eating grass. It appears that a fourth of pet parents report that eating grass was a behaviour they noticed in their canine friend right after he felt sick.

Pica can also be a consequence of a lack of vitamins and minerals in a dog’s diet. The next time you’re at the vet clinic, ask your veterinarian to test your dog’s blood for this. More often than not, vitamin and mineral supplementation will make this behaviour disappear.

The amount of food that you give your canine friend depends on his size, age, and health status. Dogs that are recovering from digestive problems should be fed small quantities more frequently so as not to put too much strain on their digestive system. The same rule applies to pregnant dogs. Due to the amount of space that the fetuses take up inside the pelvic cavity, the uterus ends up pushing onto other essential organs, including parts of the digestive system. So, a pregnant dog has to eat small and frequent portions. In general, a 26 to 50-pound dog should have about 2 to 2.75 cups of kibble per day.
Coprophagia in dogs can occur for a number of reasons. The most common one is anxiety, but there are other medical ones, such as enzyme deficiency, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, diabetes or other diseases that cause an increase in appetite and any nutrient deficiency. Poop eating is a behaviour also seen in dogs that do not get enough food or those that suffer from malabsorption, in which the amount of food is correct, but they have a hard time breaking it down. Coprophagia can also be caused by behavioural issues such as boredom, seeking attention, stress, or punishment – if you’ve punished your dog for doing its business in the wrong place.

No. Aspirin is one of the least safe medications that humans can take with few to no side effects. Along with naproxen and ibuprofen (found in Advil), aspirin can cause some side effects in dogs, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or significant changes in the pet’s stool (bloody stools).

Despite its risks, small doses of aspirin can be used for alleviating pain. However, since it is quite dangerous, we recommend that only your veterinarian decides to use aspirin and prescribes the specific dose that you can give to your canine friend at home.

If your dog suffers from diarrhea bouts every now and then, especially when he eats something he shouldn’t, you might be able to stop it by using several simple methods. The first is to give your dog plenty of water and clear, strained meat or veggie soup for 24 hours, but no solids whatsoever. This ensures that your dog remains well-hydrated, but nothing physical will be able to disturb the digestive tract even more. Following this time span, a bland diet is recommended. You can feed your dog the equivalent of the food that a person who’s undergone surgery might receive in the hospital. This means white rice, rice water, boiled potatoes (no skin), salt-free cottage cheese, very small amounts of canned pumpkin (it contains fibre), and pet-safe probiotics. Keep in mind that diarrhea can be caused by serious factors such as parasites, Parvovirus, side effects from medications, or bacterial infections (Salmonella). Take your dog to the vet if the diarrhea does not stop in the course of 4-6 hours, and you see your dog’s general health status deteriorating.
No. Unless your veterinarian has told you the exact dose of ibuprofen you might be able to give your dog, you should never try to administer this medication to your canine friend without any guidance. There are pain relief meds specifically made for dogs, such as carprofen, deracoxib, firocoxib, or meloxicam, and all of them are much safer than ibuprofen.
The answer to this question is a no, as well. Once again, we advise you to first take your dog to the vet and ask them whether it’s safe and what dosage is recommended for your dog. Acetaminophen, the substance in Tylenol, can cause serious side effects in dogs, such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, edema, dry eye, collapse, and even coma.
Shaking and shivering can be symptoms of several diseases but also poisoning. Dogs are also known to shake after an injury, such as after being hit by a car. Pain, anxiety, Cushing’s disease, or hypothermia can also cause your pooch to shake and act weird at the same time. Shivering is sometimes present in female dogs when they go into heat. Since there are so many possible causes, you should take your canine buddy to the vet clinic right away.

Repetitive vomiting can occur when a dog has eaten too much after a dog has eaten grass or in infections. It’s also a common symptom of gastrointestinal diseases, bloat (which can be life-threatening), heatstroke, or food allergies. 

Conditions such as kidney or liver failure or pancreatitis can also cause repetitive vomiting. 

The most common cause of diarrhea in dogs is dietary indiscretion. As you know, dogs love to get into trash cans or share your meal with you, and they’re just not supposed to eat some human foods. Stress can be another cause of diarrhea, especially in situations such as boarding, travel, or moving home. Parasites, bacterial and viral diseases (Parvovirus, Distemper, and others) can also lead to diarrhea.
Your vet can prescribe the right medication (such as a laxative) if your dog is constipated, but if this is a recurring issue (and it can be in geriatric dogs), you might be able to alleviate the symptoms and partly solve the problem by adding more fibre (pumpkin) to your dog’s diet and giving him probiotics on a regular basis. Aloe Ferox, mineral oil, or psyllium seed can help, but always make sure to give your dog only very small amounts of any of these and assess their effects before increasing the dose. More often than not, sedentary dogs are more likely to be constipated than those that get enough exercise, so make sure to walk your dog outdoors for at least 2 hours per day — chances are you’ll see a significant difference if you start doing this.