Every month, our favorite 4th year veterinary student, Jennifer Sawyer, answers our community's Top 5 questions.
**Please note: Veterinary advice online is merely a starting point for information. Dogs, like humans, are complex in behaviors and temperaments, please seek further advice from your veterinarian.
1. My dog’s breath stinks. Should I have him seen for it? ~ Justin and Bodie
Stinky breath is definitely not fun! If your pet’s breath smells it is typically an indication that they need an oral exam performed by their veterinarian, so you’re definitely right- he should be seen for it!
Your vet will be able to examine his teeth (if your pet allows), look at their gums, and see if there are any other abnormalities present in the oral cavity such as growths or masses.
Keep in mind that teeth are like icebergs, so if your vet recommends a dental and it is within your means I would certainly get it done as a lot of dental disease lies beneath the gums.
This means that your vet won’t be able to see the full extent of your pet’s dental disease until they are under anesthesia and they can probe the gumline, and perform dental x-rays. Another thing to keep in mind is make sure that a veterinarian and a registered veterinary technician are performing the dental under anesthesia as this makes for a safer and more thorough procedure.
Feel free to check out our article on dental health for more details!
2. My dog likes carrots and blueberries as treats. What other "human foods" are safe to give him? ~ Trisha and Jasper
Blueberries and carrots are great treats for dogs!
There are many human foods that are safe for dogs, but keep in mind that any new or different food has the potential to give your pet an upset stomach, potentially causing vomiting and diarrhea.
They’re just like us- some food we can tolerate, and others we can’t! If your pet has any vomiting, diarrhea or inappetence after you give them a new food, discontinue use immediately.
Here are some human foods that are safe for dogs to enjoy:
- Ice chips
- Sweet potato
- Green beans
3. When can I take my new puppy to the dog park? ~ Megan and Molly
When you get a new puppy it’s a very exciting time and I think we are all so eager to show the world our pup! But, it is important to keep in mind that your pet needs to be fully vaccinated before meeting dogs of unknown vaccine history.
There are three sets of vaccines that your puppy should receive prior to going to a dog park. These vaccines are typically given at 8, 12, and 16 weeks. Your safest bet would be to wait until your puppy is two weeks post their final set of vaccines. If your puppy’s last set of vaccinations was at 16 weeks, then you could go to the dog park at about 18 weeks of age.
Always keep a close eye on your puppy at the dog park as they can be chaotic places! Even if nothing bad happens, puppies can become easily overwhelmed and frightened, which can affect their confidence around other dogs for some time.
If you would like to socialize your dog prior to 18 weeks of age (if their final vaccines were given at 16 weeks) then you can allow them to socialize with dogs that you know are well mannered/gentle and that you know are fully vaccinated, once your puppy has at least had its first set of vaccines (at approximately 8 weeks old). I would recommend, a family member or friend’s dog.
4. My dog chews on a spot on her leg to the point the hair has stopped growing back. I don’t see any kind of rash or anything. How do I get her to stop? ~ Jessica and Lola
This is a bit of a tricky question as there could be many reasons why your dog could be doing this. My recommendation would be to reach out to your veterinarian to rule out a medical cause first and foremost. Some medical causes could include; arthritis, traumatic injury, or history of traumatic injury, neuropathic pain, allergies etc.
Dogs usually tend to lick (or over groom) when they are experiencing discomfort.
The cause could also be behavioural, for instance an obsessive behaviour of licking constantly. We have to be careful in these instances because if a dog continues to lick their skin raw, they can often cause a skin infection. I would see your veterinarian to rule out any medical or behavioural causes. They may prescribe an antibiotic, steroid, anti-anxiolytic, or recommend a diet change.
In the interim to protect your dog from licking it’s skin, do not cover the skin as if there is an infection that could make things worse as a bandage may hold the moisture in. Feel free to use a cone to prevent any further licking, but keep in mind this won’t solve the problem as to why your pet was licking in the first place.
5. My dog’s coat is dry and brittle and not really nice to touch. Are there supplements I can give him for it? ~ Monica and Dan
There are certainly skin supplements that exist! That being said, it would be nice to know a bit more about your dog, for instance, has your pet’s coat always been like this? Or was it lush and soft before?
This is important because if it wasn’t like this before, then there could be an underlying disease process causing this change in their coat. This could include; hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, parasitic infection, autoimmune diseases, fungal or bacterial infections, etc.
So, I think it would be very important to get your dog checked out by your vet prior to starting any supplements.
Always consult your veterinary team before adding supplements to your dog's diet to ensure that they feel supplements would be safe for your pet.
If you are moving forward with supplements for the skin, then consider products that include Omega-3 fatty acids as they support skin health.