Dogtopia’s Veterinarian Dr. Antje Joslin answered your questions about dog health, including how to reduce your dog’s anxiety, heart murmurs, the best dog treats and more. Watch her Q&A session and see her answers below:
Q: Can I give my dog CBD oil for anxiety?
There is some anecdotal evidence that CDB may help with anxiety. There are a lot of products on the market but currently, there isn’t any good clinical research available as it is still a Schedule I drug. Colorado State University is currently running efficacy tests on cannabinoids for epilepsy, which could pave the way for future research and determine guidelines for its use with specific conditions. In the meantime, there are some good natural supplements like Solliquin and Zylkene that work in many patients with mild anxiety. Since these are natural products, they need to be given for 4-6 weeks before changes are noticed. Prescription products that are used to treat anxiety work well in conjunction with behavioral modification. It is worth looking into finding a veterinarian interested in behavior work or a boarded veterinary behaviorist to make a plan for your dog that would include supplements, medications, if needed, and a training program to work with your dog. If your dog has a storm phobia or other noise aversions there are also great medications that can help. Dogs who suffer with anxiety have many different options to help, but it is rarely as easy as popping a pill or taking an oil. Pet parents need a comprehensive plan that includes training to help your pup gain some confidence and feel comfortable in the world. A great online resource is: Fearfreehappyhome.com. But at the end of the day, always consult your vet with these concerns and questions.
Q: Is it, or is it not, safe to play with laser pointers with dogs?
Laser lights seem innocent enough, right? As long as you don’t shine the light directly in the dog’s eyes it shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Well, this is not necessarily the case. Besides the possibility of a cruciate ligament or other soft tissue injury from sharp turns on questionable surfaces, laser chase may not be a good choice for your dog’s mental health. Chasing the laser light can activate their prey drive, so they are looking to chase and then catch the light, but they are never able to catch their prey. As you can quickly see, this can be really frustrating for dogs. For dogs that are very driven, this can lead to obsessive compulsive behaviors such as light and shadow chasing, or staring at the last place they saw the light. Therefore, it is best to play a game such as fetch where they can catch and retrieve, or you can hide food or treats inside of a box that they can work at getting out.
Q: What is the best diet and wellness regimen to help dogs lose weight and exercise, especially senior dogs with arthritis?
For a senior dog that needs weight loss and has arthritis, the Hills metabolic and mobility diet is a great option. It is a prescription diet and comes in dry and canned food. They also make treats or the pet parent can opt for veggies or lean chicken in small bites. Ask your veterinarian about a good glucosamine chondroitin supplement for arthritis. It is worth looking into adding essential fatty acids as well to your dog’s diet. Again, consult your veterinarian for recommendations. Keep in mind that these can add calories to your dog’s diet so you need to be mindful when adding new supplements or treats to your dog’s diet and adjust feeding accordingly. Your vet is your best resource for more information.
Q: Can I give my dog extra fish oil?
It is important to keep in mind that oils add calories to your dog’s diet. On the whole, fish oil is good for the skin, heart, etc. If your dog is taking NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), it is important to discuss the introduction of fish oils into your dog’s diet. Overall, yes, fish oil can be a benefit but be sure to discuss with your vet!
Q: Should I be worried if my dog was diagnosed with a heart murmur?
If your dog was diagnosed with a heart murmur it was very likely that your veterinarian heard a “whooshing” sound while listening to your dog’s heart. It is not always a reason for concern, but it certainly can be.
The whooshing sound can be a leaky heart valve, defects of the heart, weak heart muscles, heart worm disease, tumors, infections, or so on. Although not considered normal, not all murmurs are a cause for concern. A large majority of heart murmur in dogs are leaky mitral valves and can be monitored for several years before they require attention. However, these types of murmurs in certain breeds can quickly lead to the dog developing heart failure.
If your dog is diagnosed with a murmur it is always good to have the condition “worked up” by your veterinarian. This would include blood work with heart worm test, chest X-rays and cardiac ultrasound. If your dog has a heart murmur and you see coughing, congestion, change in breath sounds or rapid breathing, exercise intolerance, weakness or “fainting,” gray or blue gums, abdominal distention, or lethargy, you should most certainly seek medical attention.
Q: Is the slow kill method of heartworm treatment effective?
Heartworm disease is best prevented than treated. It is much easier to use a heartworm preventative, such as low dose Ivermectin that has been used extremely safely for decades (even in the “Ivermectin sensitive” breeds).
Heartworm disease can be deadly at worst and cause long-term damage to the heart and pulmonary vasculature even when treated. Consult whenever possible the AHS (American Heartworm Society) guideline and review their protocol on including Adulticide (Melarsomine). If it is not possible to follow that protocol, the slow kill is better than doing nothing, but this is not recommended as the first line of therapy. The slow kill method will cause a lot of further and continued damage to the dog’s heart and vessels.
According to the American Heartworm Society:
- The slow kill treatment is less effective than the adulticide treatment recommended by the AHS and may not eliminate all the worms—even after 18 months or more of treatment.
- During the lengthy waiting period, the worms in the dog’s body will continue to damage the heart, lungs, and pulmonary vasculature.
- Strict exercise restriction is needed for the entire time that the animal harbors worms.
- Risk for selection of resistant heartworm populations is increased.