Heatstrokes

Summertime is sunshine, play and happiness …
and what better way to enjoy the summer than with your dog?

The dangers of Summer

Besides all the fun summer can be, the heat can also be a danger for dogs,
there are risks of heatstrokes, sunburns, dehydration and burned paws.
For Bulldog owners and owners of other shortnosed breeds,
there are extra precautions you need to take, to prevent over heating.

Here are some tips, by taking some simple precautions,
you and your dog can enjoy the summer months together.

Do not underestimate the Heat

Unfortunately a lot of dog owners underestimate the dangers of overheating.
A lot of times they think:

• My dog is in good condition and can run for hours
therefor it will not overheat → Your dog can have the best condition
in the world but all dogs are susceptible to overheating

• We live in a warm climate so my dog is used to the heat →
Eventhough your dog lives in  a warm climate it will still be
at risk of overheating

• My dog never had any problems with the heat before
so I don’t need to take precautions → What never happened before
can still happen in the future just because
your dog didn’t have any problem with the heath before
will not exclude him or her from heatstroke

• My dog has enough water and will come inhouse when
he or she gets hot → A dog cannot regulate their temperature
as well as humans can and often the dog will not come inside
when getting too hot. So keep an eye on your dog when outside
in the heat even when in the garden and make sure
to get him or her inside before overheating

• I keep my dog inside during the heat so it cannot overheat →
Inside temperatures can still be too high and can also cause overheating


A Dog’s temperature

A dogs body is less efficient at cooling themselves than people,
so they are more susceptible to overheating.
A dog’s normal body temperature is 100-102 degrees.
They have sweat glands on their nose and pads of their paws
which they use to pant and drink water to cool down.

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Cherry Eye

A cherry eye is also called a third eyelid.

Cause
A cherry eye is not life threatening but can cause irritation and other medical problems such as inflamed nose wrinkles due to excessive teary eyes. This way it becomes infected and causes injury to the eye. The cause of cherry eyes is not yet determined with certainty. Some think due to the hereditary predisposition and the degree of folding in the face is a possible cause.

Appearance
If a dog has a cherry eye, you can see a pink lump in the corner of the dog’s eye. The size of the lump differs between 0,5 and 1,5 centimetres.

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Dog Paws

Walking the dogs is fun
but weatherconditions like
ice and snow in the winter or
heat in the summer,
can cause damage to your dog’s paws.

Winter

Snow and ice can get stuck
in between the pads on your dog’s paws,
causing cuts and uncomfortably cold toes.
Even a small amount of build-up
under your dog’s feet can
pull the sensitive hairs underneath
and cause a noticable loss of traction.

In addition, rock salt, anti-freeze
and other sidewalk treatments
can leave your dog with painful, sore feet.
During the winter, you’ll need to take extra steps
to prevent problems like cuts, infections, sores and painful paws.

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When you’re just coming in from a snowy walk
and wonder how to free your dog’s feet
from caked snow, the best way is to simply
dry of your dog with a towel
and clean your dog’s paws with a clean rag or dry wipe,
give special attention to the areas between the toes.

If salt is stuck in the fur
or ice between the pads
don not try to pull it of
this will be hurtful for the dog,
try to soak the paws in some water
and try again with some tissue or wipes.

To prevent these painful paws
you could also consider dogboots,
especially when you live in a climate
with regular snowfall this is adviced.

Dogs will have to get used to wearing dogboots
but it can be a prevention and solution
for problems with snow or in summer with hot pavements.

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Instructions on how to Care for your Dog’s Paws:

  • Wash the paws with slightly warm water after going for a walk. You want to wash off harmful irritants like salt and prevent your dog from ingesting any of the chemical de-icers by licking their feet. This also eliminates any ice or snow that has built up between your dog’s toes that could make walking painful.
  • Inspect your dog’s paws after every walk, particularly when you’ve walked in areas treated with salts or other sidewalk treatments. Be sure to check between the toes and look at the pad for any cracks or sore spots.
  • Cut your dog’s nails and trim the hair on his feet regularly. Hair that is too long attracts snow and slush which can cause problems. Keep from cutting the fur too short, however, as it offers protection for your dog’s feet.
  • Apply some oil to your dog’s paws to help sooth irritated feet. Be careful not to apply too much or too often as pads that are too soft can also lead to irritation. You can also apply just before going outside as it can help protect your dog’s feet but take it off when you get back inside. Pet stores also sell special wax or other products that work the same way.
  • Purchase dog boots for your pet if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and cold or if your dog is susceptible to problem paws. The boots fit over your dog’s paws and offer warmth and comfort. You may want to look for some that have added traction on the bottom so that you’re dog has an easier time walking on the snow and ice.
  • Treat any cuts, sores or infections that develop according to your vet’s instructions. If you notice that your dog seems to have painful feet even without sores, take a day or two off from walking in the snow.

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Cleaning Bulldog Teeth

Dogs need dental care!
Unfortunately, dental hygiene for dogs
is sometimes overlooked.

Many people seem to just expect dogs
to have bad breath, and few people brush their dog’s teeth
frequently or do not brush at all.

Dental hygiene is just as important to your dog’s
overall health as things like nutrition or proper exercise.
Help keep your dog healthy and pay attention
to those pearly whites!

10 things you need to know
about Doggy Dental Care


1. The Breath Test
Sniff your dog’s breath. Not a field of lilies?
That’s okay, a normal doggy breath
isn’t particularly fresh smelling.

However, if his breath is especially offensive
and is accompanied by smell or iron (blood),
a loss of appetite, vomiting or
excessive drinking or urinating,
it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet.

2. Check the Mouth 
Once a week, with your dog facing you,
lift his lips and examine his gums and teeth.
The gums should be pink, not white or red,
and should show no signs of swelling.
His teeth should be clean, without any brownish tartar.

3. Signs of Oral Disease
The following are signs that your dog
may have a problem in his mouth
or gastrointestinal system
and should be checked by a veterinarian:
Bad breath, excessive drooling, inflamed gums,
tumors in the gums, cysts under the tongue or loose teeth

4. Tooth Decay
Bacteria and plaque-forming foods
can cause build-up on a dog’s teeth.
This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis,
receding gums and tooth loss.
Only way to prevent this is by regular teeth cleanings.

5. Canine Tooth Brushing Kit
Get yourself a toothbrush made especially for canines.
Ask your vet for a toothpaste made especially for dogs.
Never use human tooth paste with dogs!
There are a lot of different dog toothbrushes available.

Personally I like the ones
you can fit on your finger
and I use special chewing toys
to do the rest of the work for me

6. How to start brushing
Taking these steps will make brushing
a lot easier for the both of you:
First get your dog used to the idea
of having it’s teeth brushed.
Massage the lips with your finger
in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds
once or twice a day.

Then move on to her teeth and gums.
When your pooch seems comfortable
being touched this way,
put a little bit of dogtoothpaste
on her lips to get her used to the taste.
A lot of doggy toothpastes
will have a nice taste to them for dogs
so they will see it as a treat

Next, introduce a toothbrush
designed especially for dogs.
Toothbrushes that you can wear
over your finger are also available
and allow you to give a nice massage
to your dog’s gums (see video).


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Cleaning Wrinkles

The English Bulldog is known for
his unique face, a flat nose and wrinkly face.
These adorable characteristics
gives the Bulldog his unique appareance.
But unfortunately these cute wrinkles
can get moisture in them.
This causes the skin to get irritated
and when not treated it will get infected.
The area will become messy, dark and moist.
Also the infected area will stink,
which can really effect your cuddle time.
To prevent this you have to clean these wrinkles.
How often you clean them depends on the dog.
Some do very well if you clean the wrinkles only once a month.
Some need it on a daily basis.

Here are some tips
on how to clean those wrinkles
and what type of products to use.

Supplies Needed for Cleaning your English bulldog:

• Cotton balls or dry dog/baby wipes

• Sterile Eye Wash available at pet or drug stores

• Ointment for the nose

• Dry towels

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Instructions Bulldog Wrinkle Cleaning

1. Clean your Bulldog’s wrinkles and skin folds with a cleansing wipe designed for dogs. Make sure the brand you use is soap and scent-free

2. Make sure the eye and nose area is completly clean

3. When you dry cleaned the wrinkles, wash it’s nose
and apply a good rub of ointment to keep it soft

4. Give your Bulldog a shower or bath using a hypoallergenic, soap-free cleanser. Pay special attention to those bulldog’s skin folds and wrinkles, rub your soapy fingers into the wrinkles, making sure to avoid the dog’s eyes.

5. Rinse your dog thoroughly to make sure that all soap and dirt are washed out from his wrinkles, then dry your dog with a towel. Make sure the skin folds are dry, trapped moisture can become a breeding ground for bacteria.

6. There are a lot of different products available, from shampoos to creams, sprays and tissues at the petstores,  if you are unsure which products to use, consult your veterinarian.

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Read more on Bulldog Health:
http://baggybulldogs.com/category/bulldog-health


Coconut Oil


The coconut tree, also known as the Tree of Life,
has been found to have many benefits not only for humans,
but for our best friends too.
A lot of dog diseases and ailments can be reduced,
remedied or cured with the use of coconut oil.

Hot spots, yeast infections, cracked paws or noses
can all be cured with a jar of extra virgin coconut oil
and it is also known to kill and prevent fleas and other parasites.

Baggy Bulldogs


What kind of Coconut Oil can I give my Dog?

Virgin coconut oil means that it is unrefined,
and it can be used for both dogs and humans.

Important side note: The label “extra virgin”
applied to coconut oil
is meaningless in many countries.
Unlike for example olive oil,
there are no worldwide regulations
governing the purity of coconut oil.

There are essentially two types of coconut oil
virgin and refined.
Virgin coconut oil, or VCO,
is made by pressing fresh coconut meat,
milk or milk residue.
Refined, bleached and deodorized, or RBD oil
is made from the coconut copra or dried kernel
and maybe chemically treated.

So how can you tell the difference?
VCO and RBD oils have the same milky white appearance
but VCO tastes and smells like coconut,
while RBD oil is essentially free of odor and flavor.

click to enlarge

Coconut oil is over 90% saturated fat
and has antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic
and antifungal properties.
It is also an incredible source of
medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs),
which have been shown to have many health benefits.


A short list of the many benefits of Coconut Oil

• Helps balance your dog’s metabolism rate to keep his weight under control
• Helps to moisten dry skin, noses and paw pads
• Helps prevent infections
• Helps to improve the condition of their coats and removes bad odors
• Helps to reduce allergic reactions and improves skin health
• Helps the healing and disinfects minor cuts, wounds, hot spots,
bites and stings when applied directly
• Helps to reduce bad breath
• Helps to improve digestion and nutrient absorption
• Helps with administering pills


How do you give it or apply it?

It can be given as a treat,
mixed into their water or applied externally.
According to most guidelines 1 teaspoon
for each 10 to 20 pounds of body weight of your dog.
Start small, by giving a small amount,
about a teaspoon and then increasing over time
and gradually work your way up.


Personal Experience

My Bulldogs all loved coconut oil.
As soon as they hear me open a jar they will come running.
It works wonders for their skin and coats,
no more cracked noses or paws
and it’s a great way to give them their medication
hidden in a little lump of coco.

I would recommend it to every Bulldog owner,
especially when your Bulldog has skin problems.
I give about a teaspoon a day
and rub a little on their coats, noses and paws.
It has numerous health benefits,
they love it and your Bulldog will carry the lovely smell of coco.
I like to call them Bounty Bullies 😉

So in conclusion Coconut Oil is a Must Have for every Dogowner.


Bloat in Dogs

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What is GDV or Bloat?

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) is also known as bloat or stomach torsion. Bloat is a very serious health risk for many dogs, yet many dog owners are not aware of it. It is the second leading killer of dogs, after cancer. Bloat is an extremely serious medical condition and should be considered a life threatening emergency.

This is a condition that commonly affects dogs with barrel chests and small waists like Bulldogs. Gastric torsion and bloating occurs when the stomach become dilated (bloating) due to excess air filling the stomach. The stomach muscle turns on the ligaments supporting it, which results in the blood supply to the stomach getting cut off. A dog with symptoms of bloat needs to see the veterinarian right away or the dog’s health will rapidly deteriorate and the dog can die within hours.

Prevention

It is unknown what causes gastric torsion and bloating, but there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of your Bulldog being affected:

Feed the dog smaller meals more often rather than one big meal

Use special slow eating bowls or put two tennis balls in your dog’s food bowl to slow down the intake at once and to  to reduce the inhalation of air into the stomach

Wait one to two hours after a meal before engaging the dog in exercise

Do not add water to kibble this will result in less chewing and increases the chances of bloat

Prevent the dog from drinking large amounts of water in one go, especially before and after eating

Sprinkle some crunchy food in with whatever you feed your dog, this encourages more chewing and again slows down the eating process
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Causes

The gastric dilatation (bloat) is the first part of the condition and the volvulus or torsion is the second part. In bloat the stomach fills up with air and puts pressure on the other organs and diaphragm. This makes it difficult for the dog to breathe, and compresses large veins in the abdomen preventing blood from returning to the heart. Filled with air, the stomach can easily rotate on itself, thus pinching off the blood supply. As the stomach swells, it may rotate 90° to 360°.

Once this rotation occurs and the blood supply is cut off, the stomach filled with air, begins to die and the entire blood supply is disrupted and the animal’s condition begins to deteriorate very rapidly. The bloated stomach obstructs veins in the abdomen, leading to low blood pressure, shock, and damage to internal organs. The combined effect can quickly kill a dog.

Not all dogs that have a gas buildup and resultant dilatation develop the more serious and life threatening volvulus. However, almost all dogs that have a volvulus develop it as a result of a dilatation. GDV is a very serious and life threatening condition, understanding the signs, prevention, and need for immediate treatment can save your dog.

Baggy Bulldogs

The exact cause for bloating isn’t really known but the most accepted theories are that the dog has eaten an exceptionally large meal, ate too fast, drank lots of water before or after a meal or exercised shortly after a meal.

Symptoms

The most noticeable symptoms are the grossly distended abdomen (it will swell up in a short period of time and the abdomen will feel hard), unsuccessful vomiting meaning either nothing comes up or possibly just foam and/or mucous comes up, extreme restlessness (may refuse to lie down or even sit down, may stand spread-legged), pacing, coughing, excessive salivation and drooling, having a hunched up appearance, whining or cries of pain.

These symptoms will occur during or right after eating their food or drinking water. Unfortunately owners often don’t recognize the problem until it is too late. For the dog to be saved, the owner must notice the symptoms of gastric torsion or bloat in an early stage to have any chance of saving their dog. If the condition is not caught early enough, the dog will usually goes into shock, become comatose and die.

Treatment

If this is caught by a veterinarian in time, a large tube can be feed down the dog’s esophagus and on into the stomach. If the procedure works you can hear an audible hiss of escaping gas. If the distention is not caused by gas but by liquid and/or food, the same tube will be used to pump/empty the stomach and provide immediate relief to the dog.

The owners will usually be told to leave the animal for observation to make sure the distention doesn’t reoccur. There are times when the tube will not pass and another aspect of bloat occurs.

If you have been able to get the dog to the veterinarian early enough, and relief isn’t seen by passing the tube, surgery becomes the only option. Again, this is a condition where minutes make the difference between life and what is an agonizing death.

It must be remembered that at this point even with surgery, the chances of survival are not that great. In general the dogs that can be saved are the ones where the owner recognizes the symptoms in a very early stage so that surgery can be avoided. So please remember the symptoms mentioned above, one day this might save your dog!

For the surgery the veterinarian will shave and prep the abdominal area and make a large incision down the midline of the dog. He will then proceed to pull the intestines and stomach out and lay them on the surgery table. Once the abdomen is opened up and the necessary area is exposed, the vet will then untwist the stomach and check the stomach and intestines for necrotic areas. If any are found, he or she will usually recommend the dog be euthanized. If no dead tissue is found, he will suture or tack the stomach to the abdominal wall.

This tacking is done in the hopes of preventing the dog’s stomach from once again twisting. Once the stomach is tacked, the doctor will replace the intestines and proceed in closing the abdomen. From this point, it will be a matter of wait and see as to whether the dog survives. After the procedure the owners will receive instructions as to the special dietary and feeding needs of the dog. Usually, the doctor will recommend several small meals as opposed to one large meal during the day, placing the food at an elevated level, moistening any dry food so the dog will feel full quicker and limiting the availability of water after eating. For those dogs lucky enough to survive their ordeal, they will normally go on to live long, healthy lives giving years of companionship to their owners.

bloat

Summary

GDV or Bloat in dogs is a medical condition that needs more attention, remember this condition is the second largest killer among dogs, yet a lot of dog owners are not familiar with this condition. With this blog I hope that dog owners will share and remember, so that people are aware of the risks, symptoms and know what to do when it happens. This can save the lives of many dogs.

Unfortunately I have had experience with this, as a dog owner, with one of my Bulldogs: Miss Bean. She had a stomach bloat twice. At first the veterinarian was able to empty the stomach with a tube but a week after the treatment the bloat returned and her stomach turned and the veterinarian was not able to do anything for her anymore. In the x ray photos below you can see the difference of the size of her stomach before and after she received her first treatment. You can see that in the first photo the stomach is so swollen that you cannot even see any other intestines, you can also see that the area shows in black,which is the air. In the second x ray you can see the reduction in size and that the air is released and the area is colored white again.

So also in loving memory of my Bulldog Miss Bean, I hope this Blog can make a difference for other dogs and owners. 

Baggy Bulldogs
Baggy Bulldogs
In loving memory of Misses Bean ♥
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related blogs:
Bulldog Food Tips


Adding Fish to a Dog’s Diet

Baggy Bulldogs
Fish are excellent protein sources for dogs while being relatively low in saturated fats and calories. This fact alone makes fish a fantastic source of nutrition for dogs. However, there is more. An even bigger benefit for fish in your Dog’s diet is the fact that fish is one nature’s most natural sources of Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

Fatty fish such as salmon have high levels of Omega 3, which is good for aiding your dog’s joints and all round mobility. Fish is also known to have beneficial properties for your dog’s skin and coat. Omega 3 fatty acids don’t occur in the average canine diet (meat or kibble), so adding them to your dog’s daily diet can reap big rewards.

Baggy Bulldogs

 

Types of Fish to feed

Some of the fish that are good for dogs include ocean whitefish, lake whitefish, herring, pollock, cod, mackerel, walleye, flounder, arctic char and salmon pike. You can also steam, bake or grill these types of fish at home for your dog (do not use seasoning or butter). When feeding your dog a piece of fish (or any at-home-prepared protein), keep it plain and simple, remember to buy boneless fillets and inspect the fish before and after cooking to be sure no bones were missed.

You can also buy salmon oil or fish oil capsules or pills for dogs. For certain types of fish it is recommended to first freeze them for 24 hours or cook them to remove any kind of bacteria. Canned fish can make a healthy treat for your dog. When choosing canned/tinned fish, look for fish packed in water without added salt.

Salmon is very good for Dogs due to the high level of the antioxidant selenium, making for a healthier skin and a shinier healthier coat and decreasing the risk of joint inflammation. A rich source of vitamins and minerals including Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, it’s often recommended by vets as it is easily digestible and ideal for dogs with allergies as it is naturally hypoallergenic. Omega 3 essential fatty acids contained in oily fish have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, Omega-3 fatty acids can greatly aid skin itching and other minor dermatological complaints in many dogs. If you purchase Omega 3 supplements you’ll often find that cod liver oil is the main ingredient (fish oil/salmon oil is better than cod oil). By feeding a dog on a diet that includes fish, you can ensure your pet is receiving these supplemental benefits as nature intended.

Herring are very high in the long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. They are also a good source of vitamin D. Like other fish, Herring can help with a dog’s skin and coat, decrease inflammation, and aid the immune system. Herring is a low calorie source of both protein and fat: 3.5 ounces of herring have about 158 kcals, 18 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fat. Fun fact the Herring is also known as the Bulldog fish  cause of its characteristic protruding lower jaw, that looks like the jaw of a bull dog.

 

Are there any negative effects of adding fish to a Dog’s diet?

Naturally, too much of anything is a bad thing. Imbalance of vitamins or too many calories is something dog owners should try to avoid. Heavy metals accumulate in long-lived fish like tuna and swordfish and can raise some health concerns, particularly when it comes to mercury. Because of the high levels of mercury found in these long-lived fish, as seen in this list of mercury levels released by the FDA, it might be wise to avoid giving your dog tuna and similar fish to eat. Make sure to buy high quality fish (where you know where it is caught and there are no high mercury levels) or try fish capsules or fish oils.

 

Benefits of adding fish to a Dog’s diet

Adding fish to your dog’s diet can make a very big difference. I would highly recommend adding fish to your dog’s diet especially for Bulldogs and dogs with skin/coat problems, allergies or cysts. But in general, for all dogs, adding fish to a Dog’s diet has the following benefits: a shiny coat, improve digestion, reduce join paints, less shedding, reducing or even completely healing: cysts or skin inflammation, itching and dry skin.

 

Tell us your experience with adding  fish to your Dog’s diet, what types of fish do you feed or what kind of oils/pill do you give? 
Share your knowledge and experience in the comments. 

 

Baggy Bulldogs

Baggy Bulldogs

Baggy Bulldogs


Crusty Noses

A Dog’s nose is supposed to be smooth and moist, not dry and crusty. A crusty Dog nose can quickly go from bad to worse, drying out even more and forming crusty scabs that flake off and bleed.
It is a commonly cited fact that if your dog’s nose is points to sickness or allergies. But a dry nose does not always mean your Dog is sick.

Despite a long standing myth, a Dog’s nose does not need to be wet and cold in order for the Dog to be considered healthy. The key element to take note of is that if the skin on the nose is dry without any other signs or symptoms, this is nothing to be concerned about.  In a lot of cases it can occur when for example Dogs lick their own noses frequently, from weather and temperature changes or from rubbing their nose in blankets.

A dry Dog nose is uncomfortable for your Dog and it interferes with their ability to smell properly. A Dogs’ strongest sense is their sense of smell, in fact Dogs use their noses to analyze and understand the world around them. When Dogs can not smell as well this can cause them to become agitated or nervous. Even with Bulldogs who are not known for their sniffing abilities the sense of smell is  still crucial.

Possible Causes for a Dry Nose

► Weather, extreme heat or cold can contribute to a dry dog nose. Exposure to the sun can cause your dog’s nose to become sunburned

► Allergies to food, plastic water dishes or toys, household cleaning products, and pretty much anything else your dog develops sensitivity to.

► Dehydration

► Excessively licking their noses

►Underlying medical issues such as allergies, infections or skin disorders

Treatment

The nose of a dog is very sensitive this means you should never use human, chemical or perfumed products as a treatment.
The following products got several high recommendations by our Baggy Bulldog community members: Coconut Oil, Vaseline, Snout Soother, Argan Oil and Dog Nose Butter.

Applying ointment to your Dog’s nose can be a real challenge. Again the Dog’s nose is very sensitive and products like Coconut Oil are just too tasty to not lick off their nose. Here is the golden tip: After dinner and a short pause/nap, clean the Dog’s face and get ready to walk your Dog, put on your shoes and coat, put on the dog collar and leash. Right before you go outside, you apply the ointment to the nose and immediately go for a walk. This will give your Dog the distraction it needs to not lick or rub the ointment of and enough time for the ointment to absorb.

When the Dog’s nose is really dry try to apply it 3 to 4 times in a day with one application in the morning and the other at night. Once your dog is healed, you can make it a habit and apply ointment at least once a day to prevent nose dryness.

Scaling and crusts may be tempting to pick but this may not be a good idea. Dry crusts that are still stuck on may detach and cause bleeding and discomfort to your dog. It is however good practice to try and clean off your dog’s nose before applying ointment. This will help to remove any food debris that may be stuck on the crusts. Here is how to clean a crusty dog nose with warm water.

► Wet a soft wash cloth with clean warm (not hot) water
► Carefully wipe the nose without dislodging pieces of crust that are not ready to shed
► Apply ointment after every wash

Note that it is best to allow the crust to fall off by itself. Rubbing too hard will leave the skin raw and exposed risking the development of secondary infections.

Hope this blog helped you and your Dog. If you have any questions or know other good dry nose remedies, please leave a comment.

 

 


Related Blogs

Coconut Oil
Cleaning Wrinkles
Cleaning Teeth
All Bulldog Health Blogs

 

 


ACL: Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament

 

 

The Knee

The knee is a joint consists of three bones: The Femur bone (the long bone extending down from the hip), the  Tibia bone (the bone between the knee and ankle) and the Patella (the kneecap). These bones are joined together by a number of ligaments. Two ligaments crisscross in the joint from the femur to the tibia and are called cruciate ligaments. The one towards the front of the leg is called the anterior cruciate ligament and the one crossing behind it is the posterior cruciate ligament. These ligaments prevent the ends of the femur and tibia from moving back and forth across each other.

ACL Rupture

When the anterior cruciate ligament ruptures, the joint becomes unstable and the femur and tibia can move back and forth across each other. The anterior cruciate ligament is commonly torn when the dog twists on his hind leg. The twisting motion puts too much tension on the ligament and it tears. This often occurs if the dog slips on a slippery surface or makes a sudden turn while running. Obesity puts too much weight on the knee and overweight dogs tend to have more occurrences of ruptured cruciate ligaments. It appears that in most dogs with the problem, the ACL slowly degenerates and becomes weaker until it ruptures, without any sudden injury. Certain breeds appear to be at increased risk of ACL degeneration and include the Newfoundland, Labrador Retriever, Sint Bernard, Rottweiler and also the English Bulldog. Many dogs with a degenerating ACL will have the condition in both knees.

Symptoms

Dogs who have ruptured their cruciate ligament will appear suddenly lame, and usually hold the foot of the affected leg off the ground or only tip toe with the injured leg (the 2nd video in this blog shows a good example at 2 minutes and 39 seconds). In time, the dog may start to use the leg again, but often lameness returns. Dogs with a degenerating ACL may also show some pain and can have swelling on the inside aspect of the knee.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of a ruptured cruciate ligament is made by a veterinarian through observing movement of the joint. The vet will place one hand around the femur and one around the tibia in a precise manner. By applying pressure on the knee, the veterinarian will feel the bones move abnormally in what is called a ‘drawer sign.’ If an animal is in a lot of pain, or very nervous, the muscles near the knee may be so tense that they prevent the drawer movement from occurring. If a veterinarian suspects a ruptured cruciate ligament in a dog but cannot elicit the drawer sign, the dog may be sedated to relax the muscles and then re-examined for the drawer sign.

Treatment

If the ligament is completely torn, your dog will need surgery. There are several different methods used to repair the knee joint when an anterior ligament is torn.

TPLO stands for Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy. Basically the TPLO surgery changes the bones of the knee joint to make them work in a different, more “level” manner. A portion of the tibia is cut, moved, and reattached to a different portion of the tibia using plates and screws. By changing the conformation of the tibia, the joint is stabilized. This is a technically difficult surgery but it has shown to produce excellent results, often with less arthritis. The recovery period is similar to that with the other surgical procedures.

TTA stands for Tibial Tuberosity Advancement, a procedure where the dog’s knee joint is manipulated to provide stability without the use of a functional Cranial Cruciate Ligament (or CCL). This is another surgery in which a different portion of the tibia is cut, and allowed to heal at a different angle to change the mechanical stresses on the joint. As with the TPLO, this surgery is more complex.

TTO stands for Triple Tibial Osteotomy, combines different aspects of the TPLO and TTA. Similar to the TPLO and TTA, the TTO involves cutting the tibial bone to change the angle of the knee joint.

Prognosis

If the dog’s exercise is restricted as instructed, and overweight dogs return to normal body weight, the prognosis is good.
Depending on the amount of injury to the knee and length of time between the injury and correction of the problem, degenerative joint disease may occur as the pet ages.

Most surgical techniques require two to four months of rehabilitation.  A second surgery may be required in 10 to 15 percent of cases, because of subsequent damage to the meniscus (a crescent-shaped cartilage located between the femur and tibia in the stifle). Regardless of surgical technique, the success rate generally is over 85 percent.