Thursday, February 16, 2017

Causes of Excessive Drooling in Dogs

Please do not use in the place of a veterinarian's diagnosis

Dog saliva or drool is often clear or watery in color, but can be white, depending on the individual dog.  Dogs drool excessively for three main reasons – they are from a breed prone to drooling; they are anticipating food or they are sick.  If you see your dog drooling and he is not staring at food or from a drool-prone breed, then your dog may be sick.  Check the dog immediately for other signs of illness, such as loss of appetite, fever or vomiting.

Dog Breeds Prone to Drool

Dog breeds prone to drool excessively or slobber are usually large breeds with wrinkles around the faces.  They drool constantly in order to help them catch and hold onto a scent.  These dogs cannot stop drooling.  They will even drool in their sleep.  Owners learn to carry around a rag used to wipe off the mouths. 

The bloodhound is a notorious drooler.  Although now a rare breed, bloodhounds can wind up in animal rescues because their owners did not realize how much their new dogs would drool. 

Other drooling dog breeds include the St. Bernard, the Dogue de Bourdeaux, the Great Pyrenees, the Great Dane, the bullmastiff, the English mastiff, the Neapolitan mastiff, the Newfoundland and the Kuvasz.  Other breeds that drool a lot depending on the individual include the Bassett hound, the boxer, the bulldog and the French bulldog.


Excessive drooling is a common symptom of bloat or gastric dilation – a potentially lethal digestive disorder similar to colic in horses.  Dogs prone to bloat have wide chests and narrow waists, including boxers, Great Danes, German shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Akitas, Irish setters, Standard poodles and golden retrievers.

Other symptoms include retching without bringing up any food, restlessness, panting, whining, pacing, low grade fever, loss of appetite and abdominal pain.  Symptoms begin within one hour of eating.  The dog must immediately be taken to a vet or she could die in as little as 6 hours.


Excessive drooling or slobbering is a common symptom of nausea.  My dog, Pony, licks her lips after she starts drooling and right before she throws up or begins to dry heave.  Pony suffers from bilious vomiting syndrome.  But once she starts licking her lips, she is immediately taken outside to vomit or expel bile.

Dogs become nauseated for a variety of reasons, from common motion sickness to poisoning.  Common poisons for dogs include chocolate, over the counter human medications, car lubricants and pesticides.  Call a vet if the drooling is accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhea, coordination problems or constant vomiting. 

Has the dog recently started a new medication?  Excessive drooling can be a side effect.  Call the vet to be sure that the dosage does not need to be reduced or that our dog is not suffering from an overdose.

Other Causes

The stereotypical scene of a rabid dog is the wild-eyed, slobber-plastered St. Bernard in the horror movie Cujo (1983).  But not all dogs that are covered in white or clear slobber along their necks and chests have rabies.

Dogs with mouth sores or periodontal disease will drool as a means to cope with the pain.  Has the dog recently been in a scrap with another animal?  Dogs use their mouths to protect themselves.  This means the mouths will bear the brunt of attacks from another.  The dog needs his mouth checked by a vet in order to help clear up these problems.

Cysts or tumors of the salivary glands can also cause excessive drooling or slobbering in dogs.  Contents of cysts may leak into the dog’s mouth and then drip out of the mouth.  Cysts need to be drained and in some instances need to be surgically removed.


ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs.  Sheldon L. Gerstenfeld, VMD.  Chronicle Books; 1999.

The Howell Book of Dogs.  Liz Palika.  Howell Book House; 2007.

Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook. Debra M. Eldredge, DVM. Howell Book House; 2007.

Dog Breed Info Center. “Dogs that Drooland Slobber.”  

Author’s personal experience.

American Bulldogs: Common Health Problems

American bulldogs are not as prone to health problems as English bulldogs because American bulldogs have longer muzzles and legs. However, American bulldogs are prone to health conditions such as hip dysplasia, atopy and demodex mange, notes Sheldon L. Gerstenfeld, VMD, author of ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs (Chronicle Books; 1999.) notes that many American Bulldogs have sensitive skin, but washing with a gentle baby shampoo can help keep the skin from getting itchy. Some dogs will have different colored eyes, but this usually does not denote poor health such as deafness or vision problems.

Hip Dysplasia

Any large, solidly built dog breeds with large appetites are prone to hip dysplasia, not just the American bulldog. The ball of the femur does not fit in properly to the hip socket, causing pain, lameness and sometimes deformity. This is a genetic condition, so any dogs diagnosed with hip dysplasia should not be bred.

Although there is still a lot unknown about hip dysplasia, it seems diet plays a big role in whether an American bulldog develops it or not. American bulldogs normally have voracious appetites. This can lead to obesity and filling up on the canine equivalent of junk food instead of nutritious food. Some breeders and owners swear by a raw diet, but many vets frown on raw diets. A dog needs a high quality protein and a low fat diet to help maintain weight and stay healthy.


Atopy is the short name for atopic dermatitis or allergic inhalant dermatitis. This is a genetic skin condition seen in a wide variety of breeds and not just the American bulldog. Dogs with atopy are super-allergic to some material such as feathers, house dust, ragweed or pollen. Symptoms include intensely itchy skin, hair loss due to scratching, swellings and sneezing. Dogs, no matter what breed, usually develop atopy before they are three years old.

This is a frustrating but treatable condition, as long as the allergen can be identified. Treatment includes removing the allergen (if possible), allergy shots, oral allergy tablets such as antihistamines to reduce swelling and possibly antibiotics if the dog has scratched or licked the skin open. Affected dogs may need topical creams to stop itching and an Elizabethan collar to stop scratching. Use the gentlest shampoos recommended by a vet.

Demodex Mange

Also called demodectic mange or red mange, this is a type of mange caused by the Demodex family of mites. Unlike sarcoptic mange, demodex mange is not contagious. Demodex mites live inside of individual hair follicles. Adult dogs tend to have immunity to demodex mites, so over half of canines with demodex mange are puppies. But if an adult American bulldog has a chronic health problem, this could lower the dog’s natural resistance to the mites.

Most cases can be managed through anti-parasite medications like Ivermectin; medicated dips and diet changes. The younger the dog, the higher the chances are for a complete recovery. If a dog or puppy does get a relapse, it occurs within 6 to 12 months of the first infection, notes Mar Vista Animal Medical Center.

Additional References

Monday, February 13, 2017

Irish Red and White Setter: The Original Irish Setter

The Irish setter is one of the most familiar breeds of dog in both American and Europe.  But not many people have heard about the Irish red and white setter, considered the ancestor breed of the Irish setter.  Even today, some all-red Irish setters produce puppies with some white patches.  The popularity of the all-red Irish setter nearly wiped out the Irish red and white setter.  Today, they are rare, even in Ireland

Brief History

Like the Irish setter, the Irish red and white setter was bred to be a highly trainable, enthusiastic hunting companion.  It is unknown how old the breed is, but the breed is at least as old as the late 1700s.  But by 1850, fashion dictated that all-red dogs were preferred over red and white coats.  Although the Irish red and white setter was celebrated on an Irish postage stamp in the early 1900s, the breed was in a steep decline.

Both breeds were called the Irish setter and even showed in the same classes.  But by the end of World War II, Irish dog breeders decided to separate the two breeds.  Although some dogs had been imported to the United States in the 1800s, the breed disappeared until more dogs were imported in the 1960s.  By 1997, there was enough interest in the rare breed to start the Irish Red and White Setter Association.

Comparison to the Irish Setter

The two Irish setter breeds differ in more than just color.  Irish red and white setters average 22 to 26 inches tall, slightly smaller than the Irish setter, especially those in America, where taller togs are preferred in the show ring.  Irish setters average 24 to 27 inches tall.  While Irish setters weigh in at 60 to 70 pounds, Irish red and white setters can be as light as 40 pounds but some males can weigh 70 pounds.  Like with the Irish setter, males are generally taller and heavier than females.

Irish setters have long, floppy ears that practically hug the sides of the head.  In contrast, the Irish red and white setter’s ears are set higher and stick out further from the head.  The ears also are usually shorter, too.  The Irish red and white setter is less prone to ear infections because their ears get better air circulation.


There are many books, vets and dog owners that will assert that Irish red and white setters are not as scatterbrained as Irish setters.  However, temperament varies widely in individual dogs due to their health and training, so this generalization should be taken with a large grain of salt.

These dogs need plenty of exercise in order to be trainable and to prevent health disorders such as hip dysplasia.  Because they were bred to hunt, these dogs may chase or harass smaller pets but tend to get along with other dogs.  Irish red and white setters do well in canine sports such as agility or flyball and have even been trained to be search and rescue dogs.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Wheaten Terrier Dog Breed Temperament

The soft-coated Wheaten Terrier, often called “wheatens” or “wheaties” for short, has both an unusual coat color and an unusual temperament for terriers. Unlike many other terrier breeds, Wheatens are often far more quiet and less prone to yapping at the drop of a hat. When Wheatens vocalize, it’s usually for a good reason. This trait makes Wheatens good watchdogs.

Wheatens have successfully been trained as therapy dogs, particularly for visiting patients in hospitals. Wheatens are intelligent, people-loving animals that can get easily bored and become quite mischievous.

Needs Exercise

Wheatens were bred in Ireland in the 1700s as an all-around farm dog. A Wheaten cleared the barns of rodents, checked the fields with his master and then sat under his master’s chair at the local pub. Wheatens had to deal with people, cats, large animals, loud noises, strange smells and large families but they were also bred to be on the move most of the day.

Today’s Wheatens retain their level-headedness provided they get at least one 30 minute walk per day and plenty of chances to romp in enclosed space. If Wheatens are denied chances at regular exercise, they can get hyper and develop bad habits out of boredom. Wheatens also should never be strictly outdoor watchdogs. They are far more trainable and level-headed when allowed to interact with their family or individual owner.

What About Children?

Wheatens have a great reputation as family dogs, but they still need training and regular exercise. Children need to treat a Wheaten gently and compassionately. They cannot tolerate teasing or tail-pulling. Also, no matter how friendly or long-suffering a dog is, never leave small children under the age of 8 alone with a dog. This is for the dog’s safety as well as the child’s.

Wheatens have a habit of exuberantly greeting friends, which can include jumping up on people and licking their faces. This could potentially knock over or frighten a child. Although Wheatens can be trained not to jump up on people, this training takes time. Jumpy puppies and dogs should be on a lead when meeting a child for the first time, so the owner can help control the dog should they become bouncy.

In Conclusion

Not all soft-coated Wheaten Terriers will behave the same. Individual temperaments are molded by individual health, past history and training. But Wheatens in general are the quietest of the terrier breeds. They love people and try to please. They may develop some silly habits in order to help train their people, such as sleeping on their backs to invite tummy-rubs. But Wheatens need regular exercise in order to keep their temperaments sweet.

Additional Resources

The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Dogs, Dog Breeds & Dog Care. Dr. Peter Larkin & Mike Stockman. Hermes House; 2005.
The Howell Book of Dogs. Liz Palika. Howell Book House; 2007.

What You Can Do to Fight Puppy Mills

Puppy mills produce both puppies and misery

The first step in fighting puppy mills is to not ignore what really goes on. Puppy mills produce both puppies and misery.  They will often be crammed in a cage with several other dogs, have not enough to eat, not enough to sleep and never be let outside.  This forces all of the dogs to sleep and eat in their own urine and feces or on the bodies of their dead cage mates.  They are never looked after by veterinarians and are not euthanized when they become infertile or sick. 

They are shot, electrocuted, drowned or dispatched in some other way.  Their bodies are then buried or ground into fertilizer because, as puppy mill owner Henry Stoltzfus put it, “Puppies are biodegradable.”

Never Buy a Puppy

There are so many dogs and puppies that need homes that there is no excuse to buy one.  Never buy a puppy from a pet store, because all pet stores are supplied by puppy mills, no matter what the employees tell you.  If you have the option, never even buy pet supplies from stores that sell puppies.

Never buy a dog or puppy off of the Internet, especially from sites that ship puppies to anywhere in the world and can get a hold of any breed you want.  These sites are just puppy mills in disguise.  Never buy or adopt a pet sight unseen from an internet site.  This not only could be a puppy mill, but a scam.

Never buy a puppy or dog from a newspaper ad or magazine ad, even if the ad is in a national dog publication and claims that the puppy has papers.  Magazines and the American Kennel Club do not bother inspecting every breeder to be sure that they are not a puppy mill.  They just take the registration fees and pocket it.

Support Anti-Puppy Mill Legislation

Politicians will do just about anything to get votes – including voting for anti-puppy mill laws if they get enough people to write or call them.  Even if you do not have the time to write or call, you can email.  If you cruise on over to websites that feature online petitions, you can add your own electronic signature. 

When your elected official does vote for anti-puppy mill legislation, thank them.  This can be done with a quick phone call, by snail mail or email.  This reminds the politicians of how important this issue is to their constituents.

Write To News Outlets

Has a news story about a puppy mill been featured in your local television news station, magazine or newspaper?  Write or email a quick thank you to that publication or station for bringing the issue to public attention.  Many online news sources also feature stories about prosecuting puppy mill owners, shutting down puppy mills or dog auctions. 

A quick email of thanks or a few sentences in their comments box can help encourage that particular news outlet to focus more on stories about puppy mills and how to stop them.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Top 5 Dog Feeding Tips

Please do not use this article in the place of a veterinarian’s diagnosis

When you get a puppy or dog, you will suddenly find total strangers walking up to you and lecturing you about how and what to feed your canine companion.  This happened to me as a first-time puppy owner when I was living in England.  Now that I and my grown-up puppy live in America, I still get total strangers lecturing me about what to feed my dog.  I had people telling me what my puppy should eat, how much and how often. 

If this happens to you, just nod politely at the stranger and go on following the tips from your veterinarian, your breeder or your animal rescue center.  But for the average, healthy dog, the top five nutrition tips are the same.

Number Five: Give Small Treats

Dogs are excited by the whole ritual of getting a treat that they do not care how large the treat is.  Treats should not make up most of a dog’s diet.  When they do get treats, say as reward in clicker training, these treats can be as small as possible.  For a Labrador retriever, the pieces can be as small as the pink part of your thumbnail.  Dogs with very small mouths can take smaller pieces.

Number Four: No Free Choice Feeding

Free choice feeding is a method used by cat owners.  A bowl of dry food is left out all day and all night so the cat eats whenever he feels like it.  This method works well for cats and their temperamental appetites, but is not recommended for healthy dogs and puppies.  Dogs will stuff themselves until they puke – and then they’ll eat the puke.  Unless your veterinarian recommends free feeding, never leave a bowl of kibble out all day long.  Remove any uneaten kibble ten minutes after placing the bowl down.

Number Three: No Sudden Diet Changes

Any new foods need to be slowly introduced to a dog, or they may suffer gastrointestinal upsets such as vomiting and diarrhea, notes  ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs (Chronicle Books; 1999.)  Even changing over to a new brand of kibble should be done gradually over the course of 7 to 10 days.
Number Two:  Feed More Than Once Per Day

My dogs do best on two meals per day, plus a few small treats here and there.  Sometimes, they may skip breakfast, but they have yet to skip dinner because that’s the meal where they get a bit of canned food added to their kibble.  Neither of my dogs are prone to bloat or hypoglycemia.  Dogs that are need to be fed at least twice a day for the rest of their lives. 

Number One: No Added Supplements

Healthy dogs and puppies will not need nutritional supplements or vitamins, according to Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook (Howell Book House; 2007.) Supplements are not only expensive, but they may do more harm than good.  Supplements – even vitamins – should only be given as instructed by a veterinarian to treat a specific medical condition.  For example, your vet may recommend adding chondroitin sulfate for an arthritic dog.  But there is no need to give it while the dog has full mobility.


  • Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook.  Debra M. Eldredge, DVM, et al.  Howell Book House; 2007.
  •  ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs.  Sheldon L. Gerstenfled, VMD.  Chronicle Books; 1999.
  •  Author’s personal experience

Thursday, February 9, 2017

How to Housebreak a Puppy

Housebreaking a puppy is not rocket science.  But rocket science can seem a lot easier in comparison to many people who live with a puppy for the first time.  Training a puppy where to toilet is conceptually easy, with very few steps or equipment involved. 

But it takes persistence and patience – which many people do not have, especially if they bought the puppy on impulse or received one as a gift.  Not being house-trained is one of the reasons that puppies six months of age or older are surrendered to shelters or abandoned.

First Time

Ideally, you need to figure out in advance where you want the puppy to urinate and defecate.  Depending on where you live, this could be anywhere outside the home, in one corner of the yard or in an indoor litter pan that is often covered in artificial grass.  When you bring the puppy home, place the puppy on that area as soon as you get him or her out of the car. 

Puppies have small bladders.  It should be less than fifteen minutes before the puppy has to urinate.  Praise the puppy with words and with petting and then bring the puppy inside (or to another area of the home).  This helps set the stage for later training. 

When You Gotta Go…

Before a puppy or dog squats to urinate or defecate, a lot of time is spent sniffing for the right spot.  They may walk around in small circles while sniffing or suddenly start pawing at the floor.  Immediately pick up the puppy and take them to the designated toilet area.  Praise when they squat. 

This is where a lot of first-time puppy owners fall down on the job.  They just don’t pay enough attention to their puppies and miss the silent signals that the puppy has to go.  Puppies will also need to go right after they wake up from a long nap or overnight sleep, a few minutes after eating and after a few minutes of vigorous play. 

A two months old puppy needs to urinate, on average, every two hours, morning and night.  A three month old puppy may be able to hold on for three hours; a four month old four hours and a five month old for five hours.  If you cannot get the puppy outside often enough, don’t blame the puppy for having an accident.

Submissive Urination

Until dogs are about a year and a half old, they will be subject to bouts of submissive urination.  This is an evolutionary survival tactic that all canids display.  A puppy flattens the ears, shows its belly and releases a few drops pf urine to a more dominant or stronger dog.  The urine drops are to show that the puppy is much weaker than whatever dog he or she is submitting to.

Puppies also do this to people.  So if the puppy seems scared, expect a few drops to leak out.  Don’t yell and don’t strike the puppy.  This will only encourage the puppy to pee some more in trying to appease you.  Puppies outgrow this behavior.

What About Rubbing His Nose In It?

A common misconception is that if you rub a puppy's nose in its urine or droppings, it knows never to pee or poop there again.  This is wrong and it is cruel.  Puppies have a very limited attention span.  Unless you catch them in the act, they will have no idea that the reason you are so upset is that pile on the floor made hours ago.  In the puppy's eyes, you will have flipped out for no reason. 

Just clean the mess up and take the puppy outside.  When cleaning up urine from carpet, use an enzyme-based cleaner to eliminate any traces of ammonia.  It's that scent puppies look for when walking about in circles, sniffing.

Image of St. Bernard puppy by anjing kecilku for Wikimedia Commons