Category Archives: Health

VetPronto to the Rescue

Brewster at the vet

We recently heard about a new in-home vet service called VetPronto. They have an online scheduler to set up appointments (which I love, because I try to avoid the phone whenever possible), and the vet shows up at your home at the arranged time. We got Dr. Hoppe, who was great: she was knowledgeable, warm and friendly, and immediately made our puppy feel at ease.

We had decided to try the service, because our dog had started itching a lot recently — and as responsible dog parents, we didn’t want to take him into the vet in case he had fleas, which can spread easily from dog to dog. We were relieved to find out that he did not in fact have fleas — Dr. Hoppe reassured us that Trifexis, the flea & heartworm medicine he’s on, is SO strong that it doesn’t give fleas a chance to survive. She said that she’d seen a lot of cases of itchy skin recently, and it’s probably just seasonal allergies. She recommended an anti-itch shampoo and skin spray that we could try, and also told us that if we find matts in our pup’s fur, we should cut them out, because they can trap in moisture and dirt, and cause more itching.

While Dr. Hoppe was there, we asked her a few other random questions about food, diet, etc., which she was happy to answer. After the visit, we received an email with our dog’s medical records and all of the info we’d discussed during the visit.

All in all, VetPronto was a very pleasant veterinary experience, and I’d definitely recommend trying it if an in-home vet service could be helpful for you. It costs a little more than an appointment at the vet’s office, but sometimes convenience and time-savings are worth the extra money! I could also see VetPronto being a life saver in certain situations — if, for example:

  • Your pet is too sick to bring him/her to the vet
  • Your pet has a weak immune system and could risk picking something up at the vet
  • Your pet gets squeamish or stressed when going to the vet’s office
  • You have young kids, and it’s too much trouble to round up everyone to get in the car and drive to the vet’s office
  • You don’t have a car, and don’t live close enough to a vet to walk

I only wish that we’d discovered VetPronto before the last set of vaccinations we got our dog, since I’m sure he would have felt more comfortable getting them at home than by a stranger in the back of the vet’s office. Next time!

Save Money on Chews by Ordering in Bulk

best bully sticks

Our dog Brewster has become a voracious chewer. Not of furniture or shoes, fortunately (we trained him out of that early on), but he can go through a 6-inch bully stick in under half an hour. It’s hard to even imagine how he does it, since he’s only 15 pounds and has tiny little teeth. But you give him a chew, with the intention of catching up on emails or cooking dinner while he’s occupied, and 20 minutes later, he’s done and looking to play.

While having to buy new chews is definitely better than having to buy new shoes, it still adds up. At $5-12 per chew, we don’t leave the pet store without spending at least $100, and that’s for a supply that doesn’t even last us a month.

We recently discovered a couple sites online where you can buy chews in bulk at a big discount. Our favorite site so far is Best Bully Sticks, which offers a 25-pack of thick 6-inch low-odor chews for only $54.49, or $2.18 per chew. They have a great variety too, so we can stock up on braided chews, curly bully sticks, bison tendons, pig ears, lamb puffs, duck feet, elk antlers,and more. Brewster loves that we aren’t so stingy with the chews, and we love the cost-savings and convenience. A win-win for humans and dogs!

The Cone of Shame

Brewster with cone in car

Our puppy Brewster recently got what’s called a “hot spot”. I was petting him one evening and felt something hard on his neck up near his ear, which I figured was either a scab or a piece of hard candy that got stuck deep in his fur (not inconceivable since he rolls around on the ground every chance he gets!). We took him to the vet, and they called it a “hot spot”, which is when a dog has an itchy spot and scratches it until the skin breaks (and then some), causing it to get infected and scab over. The vet had to remove the scab, shave the skin, and put an antiseptic on it, and our orders were to keep it dry and keep him from scratching it until it heals — neither of which is a small feat for a puppy. The poor little guy was sentenced to wear the cone of shame for several days, which made him downright depressed. He moped about the house for the rest of the day, giving us the death stare from the corner of the room. He wouldn’t even let us get near him with the antiseptic spray, and kept trying to scratch around the cone.

To cheer him up, we took him to Bartholomew Park Winery the next day, which is a great dog-friendly spot up in Sonoma. As he started playing outside in the sunshine, he started forgetting that the cone was on his head, and he was back to his usual playful puppy self — running around, wrestling with other dogs, and finding sticks to chew on. He even tried his first-ever hike, and bounded up the trails like a total natural despite having a giant blue cone on his head.

But when we got back home, he remembered he was injured and got depressed again. It was another full day before he started acting like himself. Two things that might have helped were: (1) We swapped the cone for the Kong Cloud inflatable collar, which seemed to be more comfortable for him and allowed him to see better; and (2) Our trainer gave us some natural hot spot oil by San Francisco Raw, which seemed more soothing and less stinging than the antiseptic spray given to us by the vet. We still can’t wait until our baby feels all better, since it’s torture to see these helpless little creatures in pain, but it’s great to see him at least at 80% just a couple of days later.

19 Foods to Avoid

Brewster with Cork

“Leave it” was one of the best tricks they taught us in our SmartyPup 101 training class — and I should put tricks in quotation marks because it’s more of a basic life skill for dogs than something you just want to show off to your friends. It’s when you practice putting a treat on the ground, but teach your dog to leave it there instead of eating it. This involves a lot of gnawed-on fingers to start, as you cover up the treat with your hand while saying “leave it”; but once he gets it, it’s impressive to see how much restraint a puppy is able to exhibit.

At first, we just thought it was fun to practice “leave it”, marveling at how our puppy Brewster could resist a huge piece of beef jerky on the ground (soon to be rewarded, of course, with another piece of jerky that we would feed him while saying “take it”). But then we started realizing that “leave it” came in handy in all sorts of situations that could be potentially dangerous to him — when walking outside and passing by a piece of food or trash that he otherwise would have tried to pick up and eat; while cooking in the kitchen, dropping random pieces of food that aren’t good for dogs to ingest; anytime we dropped some random object that was bite-sized like a plastic bottle cap, a screw, or a vitamin.

When I’m cooking in the kitchen and drop something, if it’s healthy enough (like a baby carrot or piece of spinach), I’ll just let Brewster be my canine vacuum cleaner, which works out for both of us. But it’s good to be familiar with which foods aren’t healthy for dogs, so you know when to employ the “leave it” command. Most people seem to know that chocolate isn’t good for dogs, but I was surprised to learn about a few of the other ones:

  • Onions & Garlic (in any form)
  • Grapes & Raisins
  • Chocolate (the darker it is, the worse it is)
  • Avocado
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Cooked Bones & Fat Trimmings
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine (coffee, tea, etc.)
  • Dairy Products (milk, ice cream, etc.)
  • Xylitol, a sweetener found in candy, gum, baked goods, and sugar-free diet foods
  • Bread Dough containing yeast
  • Raw Eggs
  • Raw Meat & Fish* (can contain bacteria or parasites)
  • Salty Foods (too much salt can lead to sodium ion poisoning)
  • Sugary Foods (can lead to weight & dental problems, and even diabetes)
  • Medicine (never try to self-diagnose your dog)
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda
  • Nutmeg & Other Spices
  • Raw Potatoes

You can read more about why these foods are bad for dogs, the symptoms, and treatment recommendations on the ASPCA’s site or WebMD.

*Some dog professionals will recommend certain raw bones, like chicken wings or marrow, to keep your dog’s teeth & gums healthy. But it’s best to speak with your trainer or vet to find out which would be right for your dog.