Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Giving Your Dog Meds While Pregnant, Lactating: What's Safe and Unsafe

Dog pregnancy is a delicate time for your dog and her unborn puppies. While some medicationsare safe and even recommended during dog pregnancy, most should be avoided, as they can harm your dog and her unborn puppies.
Giving Your Dog Meds While Pregnant

If you think your dog might be pregnant, the first thing you should do is see your vet for a check-up. Share your suspicions, and your vet can confirm whether or not they are true. If your dog was left outside or otherwise accessible to other dogs during her last heat, she may very well be pregnant.

Dog gestation lasts about 63 days. Your dog's diet will need to be carefully monitored during pregnancy, as well as her intake of medication. Carefully monitoring your dog's diet and medication ensures that her puppies have the nutrients they need to grow and begin healthy lives.

Your pregnant dog will need to continue exercise during pregnancy, though it shouldn't be too strenuous. Feed a high-quality, premium dog food; vitamin supplements aren't necessary, and may even do harm to your dog or her puppies. Especially avoid calcium supplements, as these can cause eclampsia, a life-threatening, acute disease.

With few exceptions, dog drugs should be avoided during your dog's pregnancy. Giving your dogmedications while she is pregnant can result in birth defects to the puppies, harm to the mother, or even spontaneous abortion.

However, some medications are safe for use in pregnant dogs. Your vet may recommend administering vaccinations to your dog during her pregnancy, especially if your dog missed her last round of boosters. This could be a good idea, as your dog's unborn puppies are especially vulnerable to diseases including canine distemper, parvovirus, rabies and canine hepatitis. If your pregnant dog is exposed to any of these illnesses and hasn't been properly vaccinated, both her life and the lives of her puppies could be at risk.

If you're using topical flea and tick protection, or the monthly heartworm medication ivermectin, please continue to use these medications during your dog's pregnancy. They are safe for use during dog pregnancy, and their use prevents your dog from passing parasites on to her puppies during their birth or during lactation.

Here are some common drugs that are safe for use in pregnant dogs:

Thryoxine, used to treat hypothyroidism in dogs. Vets recommend, however, that hypothyroid dogs not be bred as the disease is hereditary.
Selemectin, the flea, tick and worm preventative branded as Revolution.
Psyllium, an ingredient in Metamucil.
Fipronil, the active ingredient in Frontline spot-on flea and tick preventative
Insulin is safe for use in pregnant dogs, though vets recommend that diabetic dogs not be bred, as the disease is hereditary.
Antibiotics and/or pain medications, such as oxytocin, may be administered to your pregnant dog during delivery. However, unless your dog has complications associated with pregnancy, she can give birth at home. This will be more comfortable for her and the puppies.

Remember, you'll need to continue restricting medication during lactation, as your dog's puppies will be ingesting any medications their mother receives through her milk.
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Flea and Tick Sprays and Powders

Once the mainstay of flea prevention, flea sprays and powders have fallen out of favor once spot-ons came on the market. Now used primarily for environmental control, an essential component of treating flea infestation. For every 5 adult fleas you see on a pet, there are 95 out there in the environment in different stages of growth!

Varies. Common ingredients are: etofenprox, pyrethrins, tetrachlorvinphos. Product may also contain s-methoprene, which prevents larvae from developing. Fipronil, an active ingredient in many spot-on treatments, is also available as a spray.

The active ingredients in flea and ticks sprays and powders are neurotoxins. S-methoprene containing products also prevent flea larvae from developing.

Sprays and powders labeled for use on pets can be applied directly to the animal. Other products are designated for use in their environment, especially carpeting, upholstery, and bedding.

May last days to weeks, depending on the product.

Does not provide lasting flea and tick control on pets compared to spot-on formulations. May have an objectionable odor. Not recommended for pets or people with respiratory problems. Can cause skin and eye irritation to pet or to owners. Tetrachlorvinphos can be toxic to people. Some cats may have severe reactions to pyrethrin/pyrethroid-containing products. Signs of toxicity include salivation, tremors, seizures, vomiting, anorexia, and even death.

Frontline, Hartz, Only Natural Pet, Sentry
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Flea and Tick Preventatives and How to Switch Products

It may be hard to believe, but getting flea and tick products to work on dogs and cats used to be a long, messy, even smelly process. Today there are so many better options to get these pesky parasites off of your pet and out of your home.

“There are literally a gazillion products out on the market now,” says Keith Niesenbaum, DVM and veterinarian at Great Neck Dog & Cat Hospital.

How do you tell which are the best products for your pet? Niesenbaum recommends consulting with your veterinarian before using any product and if possible, purchasing the product there.

Here is a list of some of the more popular and effective flea and tick products available today and how you can switch your pet from one to another:

"Flea collars use a concentrated chemical to repel fleas (and sometimes ticks) from a dog or cat," says Jennifer Kvamme, DVM."The chemical will disperse all over the animal’s coat and can last for several months." This might be an option for pet owners who don’t like topical treatments due to the residue, or can’t give oral treatments for medical reasons.

Dr. Niesenbaum says that these long-term collars could most likely be used inside of 30 days of the last product used, but to be safe you should wait until you were due to give the next dose of treatment. He also advises against using cheaper collars, which aren't as effective.

According to Dr. Niesenbaum, flea dips and shampoos are only effective for killing fleas and ticks that are already on your pet and can be more toxic and have very little effectiveness compared to other products now on the market.

Today’s topical treatments typically use a compound that is regulated by the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and does not have to go through your pet’s organs. Some are available at retail stores and others through your vet.

Dr. Niesenbaum doesn’t recommend using more than one monthly product on your pet before the end of 30 days from when the last product was applied. If a product seems to have a shorter span, your veterinarian might shorten the length of time between treatments from 4 weeks to 3, but never do this without consulting your veterinarian first.

If you are concerned with the residue on the coat, especially if you have small children in the home, or cats, which may lick the residue off of the treated dog, you might want to try going with an oral medication. Also, never use a flea and tick topical preventive product that is labeled for a dog on a cat or vice versa.

The oral flea and tick medications now on the market are a remarkable solution for pet parents who don’t want to use topical treatments.

Dr. Niesenbaum says that there has been extensive testing on all products of this type by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which showed the products to be safe. However, since some of these products do filter through the organs, pet parents should consult with their veterinarians closely if their pets have liver or kidney problems or are elderly. Dogs should be monitored through blood tests if using one of these products long-term.

If you find that your topical treatment isn’t doing its job, Dr. Niesenbaum recommends switching to an oral medication after 30 days from the last application of topical treatment.

Dr. Niesenbaum says you can expect a spike in flea activity when starting any flea product during the 2-3 months it takes to resolve an established flea infestation. Fleas lay eggs which are hidden deep in beds and carpets (you should clean them thoroughly), but with patience and time, effective products can remove all signs of infestation.

If you see any signs of illness in your pets such as vomiting, seizures, loss of appetite or other illness once you begin treatment, discontinue the treatment and consult with your veterinarian immediately. 
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Monday, June 25, 2018

How to Build a Homeopathic and Herbal First Aid Kit for Pets

Having a pet first aid kit handy is a smart idea for all pet parents and can help save our furry friends during unexpected injuries. For those that want to take a natural approach, there are homeopathic and herbal remedies to consider adding to your kit that can help with everything from cuts and burns to nausea and stress.

“Homeopathy embraces the notion that the body can heal itself and that symptoms are a sign that the body is in a state of repair attempting to restore its own health,” explains Denise Fleck, a certified pet first-aid and CPR speaker and the current Career Technical Education Animal Care Instructor for the Burbank Unified School District. “Homeopathic remedies can even be administered along with other traditional treatments for better results.”

Homeopathic remedies for pets are often administered in the form of tinctures, a liquid extract made from herbs, and sugar pills, where just a drop of the remedy is placed on the pill and then given to a dog or cat, according to Fleck.

Putting together a homeopathic and natural first-aid kit requires some planning, but it can be a great option to help treat small injuries until you're able to get to the vet. “I usually reach for the natural remedies first and have had great results,” says Dr. Judy Morgan, DVM, who uses a combination of traditional Western medicine and holistic practices, such as herbal therapy and acupuncture, to treat her four-legged patients.

Here are some basic homeopathic and herbal remedies every natural first-aid kit should contain. Make sure to consult your veterinarian before administering any new remedy to your pets.

Arnica is a great homeopathic remedy for muscle aches, spasms, pain, and bruising in pets, according to Morgan. “It can be given orally or applied topically as a diluted oil or cream,” Morgan says. “For oral treatment, I use 30C pellets—one or two given every four hours for 48 hours initially, then dropping to every eight hours.”

Arnica is a very useful first aid addition because it not only relieves pain, but also helps reduce associated swelling, according to Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM, an integrative veterinarian and the first veterinarian in the U.S. to be certified as a Diplomat of the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine for humans. “Give two pellets every hour for up to four hours to help with swelling,” Osborne says.

The plant-based remedy is also a good option for pets with intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), says Morgan. “Owners can give [the pills] if they suspect the pet is having an episode of pain from IVDD while waiting to get into their veterinarian,” she explains.

Calendula officinalis is a member of the sunflower family and is considered a versatile herbal and homeopathic remedy. “It can be applied as a tea or an ointment on wounds, cuts, abrasions, rashes, or insect bites,” explains Morgan. “Calendula speeds healing and decreases pain and inflammation and it has antimicrobial activities to decrease infection.”

To treat a wound, Osborne suggests mixing six drops of Calendula tincture in two tablespoons of water. “Apply to the wound, cover with gauze, and tape the gauze to the skin,” Osborne explains. “This will decrease pain.”

Calendula 6x can also be taken internally because of its antifungal properties.  One tablet taken twice daily can help control yeast overgrowth in the bowel and help healing after a bout of colitis, according to Morgan.

One of the simplest natural remedies for insect bites and stings is nettle leaf oil, according to Osborne. “You can rub one drop directly onto the sting to bring relief,” Osborne says. Calendula, which has a long tradition as a wound healing botanical and can help relieve inflammation and pain, is also a great option, according to Morgan.

If there's swelling and inflammation, you can also use an ice pack. “Just make sure you remove cold packs from your pet every 3-5 minutes before replacing again,” says Fleck. Placing a small towel under the ice pack will also help prevent tissue damage from excessively cold temperatures.

Tea tree oil is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-viral, insect repellant, and anti-inflammatory, according to Morgan. “It can be used as a dilute spray or cream on wounds or irritated skin,” she explains. “It also works well for ear infections when diluted in virgin olive oil.”

One word of caution: Although humans can tolerate tea tree oil at 100 percent, it must be diluted for our pets, and can be extremely dangerous for cats and small dogs, says Fleck. NEVER use 100% tea tree oil directly on your dog or cat and make sure to consult a veterinarian to discuss the proper dilution techniques to follow.

When it comes to first aid for burns and wounds, nothing beats aloe vera, according to Morgan. “It is cooling and soothing and improves blood circulation to the area, as well as having antibacterial and antifungal properties,” Morgan explains. “Get an organic gel with no preservatives, sweeteners, or flavorings, suitable for human consumption.” It's easy to pack in your first aid kit so you can take it with you anywhere you go. But pet parents should never allow their dogs or cats to lick or eat aloe vera, as the gel and plant leaves can cause gastrointestinal upset or toxicity if large amounts are ingested. If applying topically, make sure to monitor your pet to ensure he or she is not licking the area.

As a salve, calendula can also bring relief to rashes, insect stings and sunburn, according to Fleck. “It can also stimulate the immune system and ease inflammation,” Fleck adds.

One of the best things you can do for vomiting and diarrhea is to withhold food and water for four to six hours, according to Osborne. After that, Osborne recommends giving your pet chamomile or peppermint tea. Osborne suggests using one teaspoon (5ml) at a time in 15-30 minute intervals. Make sure there are no additives like caffeine or additional sugar or artificial sweetener in the tea.

Another great diarrhea remedy to keep in your first-aid kit is slippery elm, which can be purchased in powdered form at many health stores. “I make slippery elm sludge using 1 teaspoon powder in one cup warm water,” Morgan explains. “Then just give your pet one teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight, three times a day.” You can also find slippery elm in pill form, which Fleck prefers. “Slippery Elm is a good across-the-board remedy in that it can aid irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea and constipation,” Fleck explains.

Bach's Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic product that helps pets address stressful situations. “It is great to use at the time of trauma, including accidents, a trip to the vet, surgery, and thunderstorms,” according to Morgan.

Made from a combination of five flower essences—including Star of Bethlehem, Rock Rose, Cherry Plum, Impatiens, and Clematis—Rescue Remedy can be used as a first-aid helper to calm down your pet so he's more receptive to accepting help. “To use, simply place a few drops in your dog’s mouth, food or water bowl,” says Osborne. “Alternately, rub onto your dog's pressure points: inner ear and groin areas, where your pet is hairless.”

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How to Best Treat Arthritis in Dogs

Arthritis is one of the most common ailments affecting dogs, especially middle aged to senior dogs. Whether the dog is large or small, arthritis can be a source of chronic pain and negatively affect quality of life. Also known as degenerative joint disease, arthritis occurs when a joint is unstable and causes the bones to move abnormally within the joint. Cartilage lines the joints, acting as a barrier between bones. Over time this abnormal movement erodes the cartilage and bone begins rubbing against bone, creating chronic inflammation and pain.

The absolute best way to prevent arthritis in dogs is to keep your pet at a healthy weight. This will reduce the stress that the body places on joints and help keep things moving like they should. If you notice that your dog has some “extra padding” around the ribs or belly, you should speak with your veterinarian immediately to see if your pet is overweight. Your veterinarian will also be able to help you with a weight loss plan.

Therapeutic diets, found at your veterinarian’s office or at many online pet specialty retailers, are a great option for pets with mobility issues. These diets can be specifically formulated to address many health issues, including arthritis. For example, therapeutic pet foods with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids balanced in a specific ratio can reduce inflammation and target pain pathways in dogs. When used properly under the supervision of a veterinarian, therapeutic diets can help arthritic pets resume running, walking, and jumping in as little as a few weeks. Your veterinarian may also recommend a therapeutic diet with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, two commonly used nutritional supplements that support joint health by maintaining the cartilage and repairing any defects that might be present.

You may be tempted to supplement your pet’s current diet with fatty acids, glucosamine or chondroitin on your own, but be aware that it is difficult to get the proper balance with the diet. This will also add unwanted calories, which is undesirable when you are trying to keep your pet slim. Therapeutic diets that are specially formulated for arthritis have a lower overall calorie count and the additional calories from the fatty acids have already been factored in. Therefore you have a much lower risk of overloading your pet with calories, which can lead to weight gain.

Pets with arthritis aren’t necessarily incapable of exercising. Staying active actually helps many arthritic pets who suffer from achy bones and joints. It is, however, vital to consult your veterinarian before beginning an exercise regimen. Exerting your dog too much or too quickly may inadvertently do more harm than good.

If the above methods don’t do the trick, it may be time to discuss pain medication with your veterinarian. Joint disease should be addressed on multiple fronts in order to make your pet as comfortable as possible. But as the saying goes, prevention is always the best medicine. Keep your pet slim. And if you do notice some stiffness, limping or slowing down in your dog, talk to a veterinarian right away about therapeutic diets and other arthritic treatments available for your pet.
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How to Become a Dog or Pet Groomer

Pet groomers, more than any other group of pet health care professionals, fill a very unique niche in enhancing pet health. In fact, it requires certain attributes not required by veterinarians, trainers, breeders, pet shop owners, kennel operators and pet food retail salespeople.

The first step to becoming a dog or pet groomer is to research. You should research the different styles of grooming for different breeds as well as programs in your area that offer certifications in pet grooming. While certification is not always required, these programs can help you learn the basics of pet grooming and will make you stand out when looking for jobs.

The real learning comes from experience, however. Getting an internship with a groomer or working as a groomer's assistant will give you the hands-on experience you need to hone your grooming skills.

To be a successful pet grooming professional you must be hands-on, observant and effective, all while patiently controlling the pet. Of course there's a huge responsibility you must bear not only to be the best groomer you can be but also to be a healthcare advocate on behalf of the pets with whom you work. The time you spend with the animal will also enable you to judge their physical and mental attitude.

Every day in my small animal practice the groomer (she happened to be an independent contractor, not my employee, so I refrained from calling her "my" groomer!) would call me in to the grooming room to point out something on the pet that needed attention. Often she had discovered some subtle health problem that had evolved since the last time I saw the pet.

In addition, because many veterinarians are pressed for time due to a busy schedule, their observation of the pet may be hurried. The average office call lasts about twelve minutes. So here's where the groomer really has an advantage because you are forced to concentrate on this one subject while you pick at it, scrub it, pluck it and shave it with that old faithful clippers that sounds like a lawn-mower ... then you blast a tornado of warm air over it until it's dry so you can then scissor, shape and brush it and then confine it and hope it doesn't urinate in the cage and soil itself before the owner shows up three hours late! Did I forget the bows?

If you are fortunate to be working in an animal hospital, you and the attending veterinarian should have open and cooperative dialogue regarding the pets in your care. If your grooming business is in a kennel, home or pet boutique and there is no veterinarian close at hand, there are a few things you should consider.

First of all set aside some time where you and a nearby veterinarian can spend a moment discussing your grooming philosophy. Explore the fact that sometime in the future you will be needing the veterinarian's advice and may even need to rush in with a grooming subject that needs immediate care. The time to set up this mutual cooperative relationship is before a crisis occurs! On your customers' chart you will always have recorded the pet's usual veterinarian; however, that veterinarian may not always be available, so you need a backup you can be comfortable calling when the need arises.

I'll try to give you some hints and clues about what to look for when assessing the pet's state of physical and emotional health. Hopefully you will be able to fine tune your already good sense of observation. Do not be reluctant or shy about relaying your thoughts or observations about the pet's health to the owner or veterinarian. You might not know it but I believe the pet will thank you somehow! Oh, yes ... so should the owner and veterinarian!

Taking a few minutes to write down what you have seen and done with every pet, every time you groom it, will be the best time investment you can make. It simply makes your job easier and your clients will be impressed with your organized and professional manner.

I would suggest that on the pet's chart you make a note about the pet's general physical and emotional status. It might look something like this:

Health notes for Mrs. Jones' Dog Skippy, a 4 year old Sheltie

Subject Normal Abnormal Notes See the Veterinarian
Anal sacs

In your comments section you could put any of your observations, such as if the dog seemed in pain when you picked it up, or if it seemed not to hear well, or appeared to have lost or gained significant weight. Under mental notes write down what your impression is of this pet's reaction to the experience of being groomed. After you get to know a pet well, you will be tuned in to it's personality and can so note any changes from what you've come to expect from its previous visits with you.
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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Fixing Submissive/Excitement Urination in Dogs

While dog might be man’s best friend, that puddle on the floor sure isn’t. If your new housebroken puppy or rescued dog occasionally pees on the floor for no fathomable reason, then you might have a dog with submissive/excitement urination issues.

So what should you do if you think you have a dog with an excitement or submissive peeing problem? First off, take your dog to the vet to rule out other reasons for the inappropriate peeing. If you receive the all clear from your vet, how do you know which problem your dog has?

If your pooch doesn’t pee when you’re in a dominant position (i.e., looking your dog directly in the eye, bending from the waist, greeting your dog face on), then chances are your dog is suffering from an excitement issue. If the dog does pee when you arrive home, when you’re in a dominant position, or when it is in trouble, then it’s probably a submissive issue. Either way, the situation can be remedied.


Submissive dogs pee when they are greeted, when someone approaches, when they are punished, and when there is a history of rough treatment or punishment after peeing; this is common in rescued dogs. This is also a common reaction with shy, anxious, and timid dogs. To fix this problem, avoid scolding or yelling at your dog after it has peed. Instead, try building its confidence by teaching it simple commands (sit, stay, come), and reward your dog after each success. The same applies with teaching simple tricks (roll over, fetch); go with the reward and praise route.

You will also want to approach your dog in non-dominant postures. Avoid direct eye contact, approach from the side, and crouch down to your dog's level. When patting your pooch, go for under the chin rather than the top of the head. Keep all greetings low key, and when the dog does pee, simply clean it up without fuss and go away. Do not forget to reward and praise your pup when it pees in the appropriate place.


The good news for you is this usually happens to puppies under one year of age, and they will usually grow out of it. The bad news is it’s not going to happen overnight. These are the dogs that pee while playing, when you come home, or when people visit.

To help your puppy with this issue (and save that very expensive rug you just bought), try keeping all playtime outside, or on a specially prepared area of newspaper and puppy pads. This way, if there is a little accident due to over-excitement, it doesn't have to be a big deal.

When there is an accident, just as with submissive peeing, do not reprimand or punish your pup. Simply clean it up quietly and leave the puppy (or dog, if this is happening with an older dog) alone. Give your puppy treats when it pees in the correct place, and keep all greetings to a minimum. You may even want to ignore the dog when you arrive home. Does this seem cruel? It's not really, as it gives your pooch a chance to calm down on its own. Ask guests to do the same.

When the dog pees while out on walks, give it praise and treats. The same goes for when the dog pees in designated areas (which is not the rug or the designer bedspread). All these things should not only help your pooch break its habit of peeing when excited, but will also help you to cultivate a calmer, more confident dog.

So good luck with your dog. And remember, patience and perseverance will always pay off.
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Five Remedies for Upset Stomach in Dogs

When you have an upset stomach, you probably reach for ginger ale, crackers or Pepto-Bismol to settle your tummy. But what should you do when your dog’s stomach is out of sorts? Learn more about the causes and symptoms of upset stomach and tips for how to make your pup feel better with natural remedies, below.


There are many reasons your dog may have an upset stomach, though there’s one common cause: he ate something he shouldn’t have, said Kathy Backus, DVM at Holistic Veterinary Services in Kaysville, Utah.

“Dogs are curious like kids; they’re always putting things in their mouth,” she said. “Vomiting and diarrhea are signs that a dog’s body is trying to expel something that shouldn’t be in their system. In a healthy dog, it’s a protective mechanism of the body that’s totally normal.”

Stress (like separation anxiety) may also trigger an upset stomach, as can bacteria imbalances in the gut and food sensitivities, which are most likely caused by your dog’s diet, she said.

Diarrhea and vomit are the most obvious signs that your dog’s stomach isn’t feeling right, but you should also keep an eye out for fatigue and loss lost of appetite, said Jody Bearman, DVM at Anshen Veterinary Acupuncture, Madison, Wisconsin.

Your dog may gulp a lot to combat reflux, lick his lips, or even lick the air or objects, too. If he’s nauseous, you may also see him eat grass in order to soothe his stomach or try to induce vomiting, Bearman said.


While it’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian before administering any home remedies to soothe your pup’s tummy problems, here are a few you can try:

Do Nothing

When your dog’s stomach is trying to get rid of something, it can be helpful to stop putting more things in his stomach for 12 to 24 hours, Backus said. “If the GI system is having a tough time, you don’t want it to digest things.” Fasting for that long is absolutely fine for the dog, and it’ll likely be harder for the pet parent to withhold food than it will be for the dog not to eat, she said.

Ice Cubes

When your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea, you want to make sure he stays hydrated, however, giving him too much water may make his stomach even more upset, Backus said.

“Remove his water bowl from his reach, and give him ice chips every 2 to 3 hours,” she recommends. “See if he can keep that down, then give him some more ice cubes and a couple teaspoons of water.”

Bone Broth

One of the most powerful things you can give to your dog to soothe and heal his stomach while keeping him hydrated is bone broth, Backus said. Simmer meat (on the bone) with apple cider vinegar and water in a crockpot (Backus prefers using a whole organic chicken). Once the meat falls off the bone, continue to simmer the bones until the minerals and marrow are released into the water, she said. Bone broth takes at least a day to make, so you’ll need to make this meal before your pet actually gets sick. If you make it ahead, however, you can skim off the fat and freeze it, then you can give your dog bone broth ice cubes when he’s sick, Backus said. In a pinch, you can also buy boxed bone broth.

Canned Pumpkin

When fighting indigestion, canned pumpkin is a favorite of many holistic veterinarians. “It has a low glycemic index, so it slowly absorbs, which helps with upset stomach and digestion,” Bearman said. Make sure to get canned pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie mix, as you don’t want to feed your dog spices, she said. According to Bearman, smaller dogs (approximately five pounds) can be fed ½ teaspoon of canned pumpkin, while larger dogs (approximately 75 pounds) can be fed 1 tablespoon. Randy Aronson, VMD of P.A.W.S Veterinary Center in Tucson, Arizona, even adds a tiny bit of ginger to the canned pumpkin. Like ginger ale, it soothes the stomach.

Seek a Veterinarian

Watch the overall pattern of the symptoms, which should slowly subside over 24 to 48 hours, Backus said. However, if your dog seems to be constantly uncomfortable or if the symptoms get worse—for instance, the frequency continues to increase every few hours, you see blood in their vomit or stool, or they collapse—call a veterinarian, as these symptoms could be indicative of pancreatitis, stomach bloating, a severe allergy, leaky gut syndrome, abnormal parasites, or another serious condition, Aronson said.

If you discover that your dog ate something he’s not supposed to—like a plant, food, toy or chemical—seek help immediately, Backus said. If your pet dog has ingested something potentially poisonous and your veterinarian is unavailable, she recommends talking to an expert at the Pet Poison Helpline. The service is available 24 hours a day and the employees can explain a poison’s level of toxicity, common symptoms and signs, and proper care. They can also teach you how to poison-proof your household.


An upset stomach every once in a while is normal in every dog, but when a dog suffers often, it could signal that something is wrong in his gastrointestinal tract, Aronson said.

In that case, he recommends taking a look at your dog’s diet and staying away from foods that may create inflammation because of a food hypersensitivity, like chicken, lamb and venison. Instead, choose meats like beef, buffalo, and fish that shouldn’t irritate your dog’s GI tract, he said. He also recommends steering clear of corn, soy, wheat, and rice, and opting for millet, which is a low glycemic index carb, meaning it takes longer to digest.

To help your dog maintain a healthy gut, you can also consider giving him a pre and probiotic, Aronson said. “Like humans, 60 percent of a dog’s immune system is in his bowels […] when it’s not healthy, your dog isn’t healthy.”

Always talk to your veterinarian first to find out the best course of action.
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Five Life-Lengthening Health Tips for Your Pet


Anyone who has ever had a dog or cat wishes just one thing — that he or she has a healthy and long life. Here are five tips that can help your pet do just that.


Pets fed a high quality diet have a shiny hair coat, healthy skin, and bright eyes. A good diet can help strengthen your pet’s immune system, help maintain his or her intestinal health, help increase his or her mental acuity, help keep joints and muscles healthy, and much more.


Pets that are overweight are at risk for a myriad of health issues. Obesity is the number one nutritional disease seen in pets currently and studies have shown that being overweight or obese can shorten a dog or cat’s life span by as much as two years. Why? Being overweight or obese puts your pet at risk for joint disease, heart disease and diabetes, among other things.


All pets, including both dogs and cats, require regular veterinary care. However, veterinary care goes far beyond routine vaccinations, even though those are important. A routine examination by your veterinarian can uncover health issues of which you are unaware. In many cases, an early diagnosis improves the chances of successful treatment. Early diagnosis is also likely to be less costly for you than waiting until your pet’s illness has become advanced and serious before attempting treatment.


A common problem among dogs and cats, dental disease and oral health issues can cause your pet pain, making it difficult for him or her to eat. If left untreated, oral health issues may even lead to heart and kidney disease. In addition to regular dental checkups, the most effective means of caring for your pet’s mouth at home is to brush his or her teeth at home. If your pet isn’t a big fan of toothbrushes there are other alternatives as well, including dental diets, treats, and toys. Ask your veterinarian for some recommendations.


Allowing your dog or cat to roam free may seem like you’re doing your pet a favor. However, pets that roam are susceptible to a number of dangers, including automobile accidents, predation, exposure to contagious diseases, exposure to poisons, and more. Additionally, allowing your pet to roam unsupervised may alienate your neighbors should your pet ever "relieve" him- or herself in their lawn or dig up their garden.
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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Why Do Dogs Get Fevers?

One of the challenges of being a pet parent is dealing with a sick animal. When you notice that your dog is moping around or turning up his nose at treats, he can’t tell you what is wrong. And unlike with a sick child, you can’t put your hand to his forehead to see if he has a fever.
Dogs Get Fevers?

In fact, a dog’s body temperature runs hotter than a human’s—from 99.5-102.5F—so if your dog does feel warm to the touch, that’s no surprise. You also can’t rely on whether your dog’s nose is cold and wet to indicate if he is healthy, says Dr. Susan O’Bell, a general practitioner at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.

“A warm or dry nose is a really unreliable indicator (of health), especially this time of year, when we are indoors where it is dry and warm.”


That determination is best left to your family vet, says Dr. O’Bell. Families often come in saying that their dog is not acting like himself, but the symptoms are too general to indicate a specific diagnosis.

“The most common thing I see is the dog is acting tired, is reluctant to get off his bed, or has a decreased appetite. Just like if you had the flu,” Dr. O’Bell says.

One of the first things your vet will do is use a rectal thermometer­—which O’Bell calls the “gold standard”—to measure your dog’s body temperature. “That can be really tough to try at home,” she says with a laugh. Veterinarians sometimes use an ear thermometer, but she likes to verify that with a rectal reading.

A temperature of 104F or above is considered high, and your vet likely will order blood tests or other diagnostics to get to the cause of the fever. A temperature of 103-103.5F is less worrisome and might even be caused by your dog being excited or anxious while at the vet, Dr. O’Bell says.


The most common causes of fever in dogs are inflammation and infection. In New England, tick-borne diseases are the major causes of fever in dogs, Dr. O’Bell says. Tick borne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (rickettsia), babesiosis, and tularemia, along with several others.

An infected wound also can cause a fever. Inflammation from auto-immune illnesses, such as those similar to Lupus, can cause fevers without infection. In fact, a study published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal in 2012 found that 48 percent of the 50 dogs studied had fevers caused by inflammation with no infection, confirming the predominance of non-infectious inflammatory diseases as causes of fever in dogs.

However, a fever accompanied by certain symptoms can be particularly worrisome, Dr. O’Bell says. Such symptoms include vomiting and other digestive distress, which can indicate that your dog has a virus, has eaten something harmful, or has a foreign body lodged in his stomach.


Once your vet determines the cause of the fever, he or she can begin treating him. Generally, the dog will need rest and fluids, assuming no serious underlying condition exist, says Dr. O’Bell. There are fever reducers that can be safely prescribed to dogs, however, your veterinarian will not prescribe anything until the cause of the fever has been determined. “We don’t recommend over-the-counter medicines or just giving them something at home,” Dr. O’Bell stresses.

It should be noted that you should never treat your dog with any kind of medicine without your veterinarian’s approval, as some conditions can be worsened with some types of medication.

It is also important to remember that a fever is a sign from your body that something is wrong and is not necessarily the problem itself.

“It might feel a little old school, but your body is trying to tell you something,” Dr. O’Bell says.

The best way to stay on top of your dog’s health before he gets seriously ill is to have a regular vet who knows your pet.

“We have all this information online, but it’s so helpful to have a relationship with a person who takes care of your pet,” Dr. O’Bell says.

Your vet will know what your dog looks and acts like when he is well and will know, for example, whether a slightly high body temperature is normal for him. “It’s good to get a baseline and to check it regularly,” Dr. O’Bell says.

If your dog does seem “off,” remember these simple dos and don’ts:

  • Don’t give your dog over-the-counter medicine without your veterinarian’s instructions.
  • Do call your vet to determine if a regular office visit or ER visit is indicated.
  • And don’t try to take your dog’s temperature rectally on your own!
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Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses?

You probably know the feeling of a dog’s cold, wet nose pressing against your skin. And if you’re a pup parent, you have no doubt cleaned countless nose prints from every glass surface in your house. But have you ever wondered why your dog’s nose is wet?

The wetness of a dog’s nose comes from a mixture of saliva and mucus, says Dr. Anita Guo, a veterinarian at the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in London. A dog’s nose secretes its own, thin layer of mucus, and dogs add even more mucus and saliva by licking their noses frequently.

The details may be a little icky, but having a wet nose serves a few vital functions for dogs. First, keeping their noses moist helps dogs regulate their body temperature, says Guo. Dogs don’t have sweat glands all over their bodies like we do, so they rely on sweat glands in their noses and the pads of their feet to help maintain a safe internal temperature.

“The moisture of the nose helps them evaporate heat and helps them cool down their body,” she says.

Dogs’ wet noses also contribute to their incredible sense of smell. When dogs inhale, tiny scent particles floating in the air get trapped in their nose mucus. This “helps them to break down and interpret odors,” Guo explains.

Licking their noses helps dogs “smell” even more deeply. When a dog licks his nose, his tongue picks up some of the scent particles trapped in his nose’s mucus. He then touches his tongue to an olfactory gland called the Jacobson’s organ on the roof of his mouth, says Guo, which gives him an even more nuanced reading of the chemical compounds that make up odors.

“Their sense of smell is obviously much, much better than humans’ and we think this is the reason why,” she says.


Many pet parents worry if their dog has a dry nose, but this isn’t automatically cause for alarm.

“It is normal for a dog to have a wet nose, but just because they have a dry nose doesn’t mean they’re sick,” says Dr. Kathryn Primm, the owner and chief veterinarian at Applebrook Animal Hospital in Ooltewah, Tennessee. In fact, she says it is simply an “old wives’ tale that if a dog has a dry nose, it’s abnormal.”

Dogs’ noses could be dry at times for a number of reasons, says Guo. Their noses may be less moist when they wake up from a long sleep, simply because they haven’t been licking them for several hours. Sleeping in a warm room with low humidity levels could also make a dog’s nose especially dry, she adds. Before you run to the vet, Guo recommends waiting to see if the dog’s nose becomes moist again as the day goes on.

Certain breeds may also just have naturally drier noses, Guo explains.

“In my experience, most brachycephalics [dogs with short snouts like Bulldogs and Pugs] have slightly drier noses,” she says. “I think that’s just because they’re less able to lick their noses.”

Also, some older dogs may lose nose moisture as they age because they’re producing less mucus. This could “make their noses a bit drier than we would [see] with a puppy,” Guo says.


While pet parents shouldn’t panic just because their dog has a dry nose, there are some other nose conditions that should prompt a trip to the vet.

“If there are any changes in the color of the nose, or if there’s any bleeding, cracking, scaling, if there are any lumps and bumps around the muzzle or face or nose, these things are much more concerning,” Guo says. “If the dog’s having a nosebleed, we definitely want to see the dog, especially if it happens quite often.”

Also, if your dog not only has a dry nose, but is also acting sick or otherwise behaving unusually, that could be a sign of a more serious problem, Primm says.

Bottom line, if you notice any changes in the nose’s appearance, or changes in your dog’s behavior accompanied by a dry nose, you should always err on the side of caution and get your dog checked out.

However, if your dog wakes up one day with a dry nose but otherwise seems normal and healthy, there’s no need to drop everything and run to the vet.

“Obviously, the usual, wet-nosed dog is good, but if they do have a dry nose, it’s not the end of the world,” Guo says. “I don’t want owners to worry if the nose is dry, unless there are other signs.”
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Why Do Dogs Shred Paper Products?

Dogs have a way of getting into things they shouldn’t, and one thing many pups seem to love playing with is paper. Used tissues, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper—countless pet parents have come home to find these products shredded all over the floor. 

But why is shredding paper so irresistible to dogs?

It often comes down to odor, says Scott Sheaffer, a certified animal behavior consultant and owner of USA Dog Behavior in Dallas, Texas.

“If you’ve used it to wipe your mouth or even wipe your nose or your hands, there’s a scent on it that’s appealing to them,” he says.

Boredom or anxiety could also drive dogs to rip up paper products, if they don’t have enough other enrichment available. Or, if dogs are actually ingesting the paper, it could be a sign of pica, a medical condition that drives animals to eat non-food items (humans can also suffer from pica).

“It can become a compulsion, where they obsessively and compulsively eat paper products,” Sheaffer says. “That’s much more of a behavioral issue than…appetite driven.”

More often, though, dogs shred tissues and towels simply because it’s fun, says Erin Jones, a certified dog behaviorist and owner of Merit Professional Dog Training in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“The number one reason is probably just because they enjoy the sensation of ripping stuff up,” she says.

Puppies and adult dogs are equally likely to enjoy playing with paper, Jones says, and it’s a common behavior regardless of breed.

Many dogs don’t eat the paper they play with—the joy is in the ripping up—but if pups do ingest napkins or tissues, there could be serious health consequences.

 “Small amounts of paper will just pass through a dog’s digestive tract,” says Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinarian and author of the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian. “But if a large amount is eaten or some of it gets stuck somewhere along the digestive tract, it can cause a blockage that requires surgery to correct.”

Also, eating a paper towel that’s coated with a cleaning product or other potentially toxic substance could be dangerous, Jones says.

“It is always best to err on the side of caution, in my opinion, and avoid using harsh or toxic chemicals and discard any used paper products immediately,” she recommends. “Particularly if there is a history of ripping up paper products and there is any chance they might have access to it.”

Coates agrees, “Toss any paper products that are contaminated with potentially dangerous chemicals directly into a covered trash can in a location where your pets can’t gain access.”

The best way to prevent dogs from ripping up paper is to keep it out of reach in the first place.

“Don’t leave these items around,” Jones says. “If we can manage their environment and prevent this unwanted behavior from happening in the first place, then that’s really the key to any training protocol.”

Dogs often pull paper products out of the garbage, so using trash cans with secure, automatically closing lids can nip the problem in the bud.

Not all paper products can go in the trash can, though (how many YouTube videos have we seen of dogs gleefully unspooling toilet paper from the roll?), so a more foolproof solution is to train dogs not to go near paper products in the first place.

Jones often uses impulse control training with her clients to discourage destructive behavior.

“[Dogs] get rewarded for staying away from the item,” she says. “That way, they learn to wait for direction from you instead of just impulsively going after everything that they want.”

Teaching your dog a “drop it” cue can also be helpful, she says.

In a pinch, your dog can rest comfortably in a crate when you’re not around, or you can close doors or use baby gates to block off access to certain parts of your home.

To let your dog play with paper in an appropriate way, consider turning his instincts into an enriching game. This could mean “putting treats into a cardboard box and taping it up and poking holes and allowing them to rip that apart,” Jones says. “It allows them an outlet for that behavior.”

If your dog gets hold of a tissue or napkin and won’t let go, there’s one thing you definitely shouldn’t do: chase him around and try to get it back. That makes your pup think it’s all a fun game.

“Owners…yell, ‘Give me that napkin back!’ and they go running after the dog,” Sheaffer says. “What you’ve done by those actions is you’ve just increased the value of the item to the dog.”

Instead, it’s better to ignore the behavior (unless your dog is ingesting the paper, or if the paper is covered with a dangerous substance), then quietly remove it when your pet is distracted.

Bottom line, dogs will probably always love ripping up paper, but there are plenty of ways to manage the behavior and keep your dog out of harm’s way.
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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Why Your Dog Sometimes Forgets His Training, and What You Can Do About It

Have you ever asked your dog to do something simple—sit, for example—only to have him look at you as if you’re speaking another language?
Dog Sometimes Forgets His Training

You know your dog knows how to do it; it was the very first thing you taught him! You ask him to do it several times a day, in fact, and he always complies. So, what gives when he doesn’t? How come it seems like your dog sometimes “forgets” his training?

The first question you should ask yourself in situations where it seems like your dog is blowing you off is, “Did I teach my dog the full behavior, or just a very specific version of the behavior?”

For example, let’s say that you taught your dog to stay before you put his dinner bowl down and he knows how to hold while you fill his bowl and walk it over to his dinner spot. Awesome! But do you ever ask your dog to stay in other situations? Meaning, can he hold a stay when you open the door to get a package? Or when your kids are chasing each other around the dinner table? Asking your dog to stay in those types of situations is vastly different than doing his rote “I do this then this happens” daily pre-dinner stay.

It’s up to you to help him increase his stay “fluency.” To do so, imagine all of the different scenarios where you think it would be helpful for your dog to stay—beyond that dinnertime stay—and work towards achieving them as a team.

Speaking of fluency, have you ever taken a language class? Initially your teacher walks you through the basics of grammar, then you move on to speaking simple sentences, and then eventually you and your classmates can have very basic conversations. You start to feel confident in your abilities.

Now imagine that you and your class take a field trip to a market in the country you’re studying. Suddenly, everything you learned in the classroom no longer applies. Everyone is talking too fast, the accent sounds strange, and everyone is crowding you. It sounds like a frustrating and scary scenario, right? The exact same thing happens to our dogs when we take them out of the “classroom” and into the real world.

Asking your dog to do a “sit” around your house is very easy for him because he’s comfortable and familiar with the environment. Asking your dog to sit at the vet office, however, is an entirely different experience. Just like the sights and sounds might overwhelm you in a foreign country and make you “forget” your burgeoning language skills, the same goes for your dog.

The vet office is fraught for a dog. The smells, sounds and not-so-happy memories there are enough to override the basic training you’ve done together. It’s not a case of your dog being willfully disobedient when he “ignores” you in this type of scenario, it’s more likely that your dog is overcome by the surroundings.

The same holds true in the dog park. There’s a lot to sniff and explore! Sometimes the environment trumps the trainer and your dog might “forget” to respond when you call him.

An easy way to help your dog remember his manners is to make sure that his responses are close to perfect when in a familiar environment, like your yard. This is your important foundation training—don’t skip this step! Then you can practice at the park when it’s not prime-time and filled with other dogs.

Visit the park in the early morning or in the evening when the environment is less distracting and practice the recalls using a very special, high value treat. Try to set your dog up for success by initially only calling him when he’s not fully engaged with another dog.

Finally, look deeper when it seems like your dog is “forgetting” his training. I’ve worked with many dogs that are uncomfortable when they try to do a sit-stay on hardwood floors. It might seem like these dogs are blowing me off when I ask them to do it and they hesitate, but they’re actually trying to avoid slipping and sliding all over the place! (We opt for a down-stay instead.)

Some dogs are superstitious about household equipment, so they don’t want to respond to a recall if you’re standing right next to the noisy fan. And sometimes pain might be a mitigating factor. An older dog might not want to do a down because it hurts him when he has to get back up. Simply observe your dog and consider all of the possible influences before you blame him for insubordination.

Believe it or not, your dog is not trying to be willfully disrespectful when you ask him to do something and he “forgets” how. If you’ve done a good job with your dog’s basic training and he doesn’t respond to a cue when you ask, there are usually other factors at play that make it challenging for him. Figuring out the how and why behind the refusal will make life easier for both you and your dog.
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Wild Animals That Can Give Your Dog Fleas and Ticks

While you may be diligent about preventing fleas and ticks in your home, your dog could pick up parasites from wild or feral animals living nearby. Here are a few creatures that can give your dog fleas and ticks.


Deer ticks get their name because they like to feed on deer as adults. So if there are deer in the neighborhood, deer ticks may be close by.  Ticks can’t jump or fly, but they wait for a deer, or your dog, to pass and then attach and crawl upwards. Deer ticks are generally found in wooded areas and are active year round.


Not only do raccoons and opossums make a meal out of your garbage, they too can bring fleas into your yard and home. And because they are most active at night, you may not even see these critters.  Keep raccoons and opossums out of your dog’s space by securing all outdoor garbage and trash bins.


Feral cats left to roam around neighborhoods also carry fleas and ticks. Fleas cannot fly, but they have quite a jumping distance and can jump on your pet from outdoor shaded areas where flea-infested pets or wildlife have been.
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Why Your Veterinarian Doesn’t Recommend Pet Health Insurance

OK, so that’s just a salacious title. Your veterinarian may well recommend pet health insurance. I do, so that makes … um … two of us. 

Okay, maybe I exaggerate. It’s clear that veterinarians increasingly buy into pet health insurance. When faced with very sick patients whose owners hold insurance policies for them, we breathe a sigh of relief. In our experience these clients more readily accept our recommendations to treat their pets. More and more of us see pet health insurance as a positive influence on patient care — not to mention out bottom lines. Yet even those of us who wholeheartedly endorse it tend to tread lightly on the subject, as if we’re well aware that we should be careful what we wish for. Heaven forbid that blue genie in the bottle should turn around and bite us in the butt once he’s freed.

Pet health insurance is something veterinarians have plenty of cause to contemplate; it’s just that the pet health insurance industry wishes we would do so more frequently and with greater dedication. They would have us recommend specific plans, carry brochures in our waiting rooms, dedicate a staff member as the "insurance rep," ask about insurance each time an appointment is scheduled or a client arrives, etc. So says a much-anticipated report issued this past January — just in time for the veterinary behemoth that was the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando.

My schedule being what it is, I just finished reading it this weekend. Titled, A Veterinarian’s Guide to Pet Health Insurance: How pet insurance affects the practice, the client and the patient, it does a pretty good job of explaining why pet insurance improves our patient care and props up our sagging bottom lines, all the while strongly insisting that pet insurance absolutely does not usher in the specter of managed care.

Back to that blue genie … managed care is what veterinarians fear. More than a new parvo pandemic or a feline form of bird flu, veterinarians in small animal practice shoulder extreme anxiety over the possibility that pet health insurance will one day approximate human HMOs and PPOs in their design. Where did we get this idea? When was the last time you waded through the human healthcare system with impunity? The authors of this report at the NCVEI (National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues) absolutely refute this possibility. They swear up and down in a four-point list that pet health insurance, like dental insurance, will never go HMO. And if the dental model hasn’t gone to managed care, why should the veterinary version?

The possibility that the human healthcare model might ride in on a Trojan horse that looks on the surface like dental-slash-auto insurance is what many of us continue to fear. At least that’s the common excuse for effectively steering clear of pet health insurance as an exam room subject. But there are more issues. Even those of us who’ve gotten past the managed care melodrama have cause to consider the following points:

a) It’s not my job to push insurance — how tacky is that?

b) I’m not an expert in insurance so how can I advocate any one plan?

c) It’s the purview of the pet health insurance companies to market this stuff — why should I do their job for them?

d) If I do recommend a plan and my clients aren’t happy, how will that reflect on me?

e) Why should I take time out to discuss insurance when I get nothing for it?

f) All of the above.

I’m down with points a) through f). I get it. I struggle with the same rational arguments. But I still actively recommend pet health insurance. Why? My take is that if I believe that pet health insurance is something that, on balance, helps my clients access better care (which this publication helps make plain with its helpful data and parallels to the human dentistry model), then as a veterinarian it’s my duty to raise the issue.

Still, I recognize that my U.S. colleagues are extremely reluctant, far more so than in other countries. And, given this finding, it really does seem to be the HMO model that keeps veterinarians wringing their hands with angst. Yet it’s also clear to me that pet health insurance will never break into the mainstream within the next decade without the assistance of veterinary professionals. That’s why I welcome this publication. In spite of its suspiciously glowing spin on pet health insurance, its impressive recommendations for veterinary practice intervention and its pet insurance industry backers, I have to concede that in the end, if it’s legitimately investigated, independently written, and thoroughly credible, it’s one more real-world tool for helping veterinarians get past the managed care "ick" factor.

For now, however, the standoff between veterinarians and the pet health insurance industry continues unabated. This saga’s got more nuances than a Henry James novel. But, optimist that I am, I see a happy ending evolving somewhere within three to five years. That’s my prediction. And you can hold me to it.
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