Q: I heard in the news that there have been some dog foods that are killing dogs! What do I need to know?
A: The FDA has recently been alerted to dogs getting sick from Vitamin D toxicosis that was traced back to certain brands of dog food. After testing the dog food, the FDA found toxic doses of Vitamin D in a number of dog foods that are sold at various stores nationwide.
Toxic doses of Vitamin D cause increased absorption and decreased secretion of calcium in the body leading to excessive amounts of calcium in the bloodstream. This will then result in mineralization of organs in the body, especially the kidneys which leads to kidney failure.
Vitamin D can also be found in over-the-counter vitamins and certain types of rat poisons. If a toxic dose is ingested and left untreated it can lead to organ failure and death.
Clinical signs can start to occur 12-36 hours after exposure and sometimes as long as 72 hours after ingestion. The beginning signs start with anorexia, lethargy and weakness and then can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and collapse. Usually diagnosis of Vitamin D toxicosis comes from knowing that the animal has had exposure to a toxic dose of Vitamin D or from extensive blood work.
If the exposure is caught early, within 6 hours, the dog can be made to vomit to try and remove all the toxins from the stomach and can then be treated aggressively for toxicity. After 6 hours, the dog must be medically supported for toxicosis and has a poorer prognosis.
The FDA’s website has a list of all the foods that have been identified as containing toxic doses of Vitamin D, so you can research to determine if your dog has been exposed.
If you feel your dog has been affected, please take your pet to your veterinarian for confirmatory testing and possible treatment and then contact the food company for further instructions.
Q: My dog has started to lick at his backside and then rub it on the carpet! Does he have worms?
A: Although intestinal parasites can be an issue for our furry friends, typically the behavior you are describing is due to anal gland irritation.
Anal glands are two small balloon shaped glands on either side of the anus that produce a foul-smelling substance that your pet will naturally secrete when they defecate.
Interestingly, this substance is used to mark territory and can be “read” by other animals to let them know your dog’s sex, health and approximate age. Cats also have anal glands and produce the same foul-smelling substance for the same reason.
In the wild, this substance is important for marking territory and communicating with other animals who are possible intruders. It is no longer necessary in our domesticated animals, but our pets still have the glands and sometimes they can cause issues.
The biggest issue we see is impacted and infected anal glands. This can occur when the anal glands do not empty appropriately or become inflamed from allergies.
Signs of impacted and infected anal glands are scooting, excessive licking in the area, swelling around the anus and a foul smell. Some breeds such as small or toy breeds tend to be more affected by anal gland issues than large breed dogs.
If your pet is having issues you need to take it to your veterinarian. Sometimes the solution is as easy as expressing the material out of the gland. Sometimes the issue is severe and your pet might need an anal gland flush and oral antibiotics.
If your dog is prone to anal gland issues, increasing his daily fiber and addressing any underlying allergy issues can help.