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Feline Itchy Skin, Help!

In our house it's usually easy to find Bear,our dog, she is usually close by but if not a quick call brings her running.  Dogs are normally more responsive to being called.   Finding Boo,our Cat, is a little trickier. Cats are normally much quieter so Boo can be anywhere in the house and it can take us a long time to find him.  Of course, we have a unique built-in cat finder, our dog Bear is 100% in love with Boo and if we want to know where the cat is all we have to do is let Bear loose and within minutes Bear is making happy noises that she has found her true love. Not all houses have this feature and we truly appreciate having it.

Finding your cat is, unfortunately, easier if they are scratching, which has its own identifiable noise and is often accompanied by a thumping noise as their foot repeatedly hits the floor. Sounds innocent but when your cat is bothered by constant or frequent itching, it can be hard to listen to day after day.

Is your feline constantly scratching, licking, biting at the skin, or rubbing up against objects? If so, they could be suffering from an itchy skin disease, a very common problem found in felines and characterized by behaviors focused on relieving the itch. If your feline friend is itching, the first step to take is to carefully look at the skin and the hair coat.  

A feline’s skin and hair coat can tell a great deal about their general health and condition.

What are the basic functions of the skin?

Because felines are such curious creatures they often find themselves in situations where they are at risk of injury or exposure to noxious chemicals or harmful environmental conditions. The cat’s skin provides a barrier that helps to keep bacteria, microorganisms, and foreign elements from entering the body, and protects the internal tissues from dehydration and loss of body heat by insulating against conditions of extreme heat and cold. The skin also acts as a receptor for the awareness of touch, temperature, pressure, and pain.

What are the functions of the hair coat?

The hair coat also has specific useful functions. The outer coat is made up of primary hair, which grows from its own individual root. Connected to these roots are tiny muscles that enable a feline to fluff out its coat trapping warm air creating a form of insulation. Secondary hair, or the undercoat, is more abundant and also functions to provide added warmth and protection. Tactile hairs include the whiskers, eyebrows, chin hairs and the hairs found on the backs of the front legs. Tactile hairs are specially modified to provide detailed information about anything that they touch which gives important sensory information to the cat. Whiskers are longer, thicker, and stiffer than normal hairs and a feline can fan them out, and rotate them forwards or backward. The nerve endings in whiskers are clustered and help to supply a feline with detailed information about air currents, air pressure, or objects close to their face. This information helps to supplement the feline’s other senses of smell, sight, and hearing and are useful when investigating objects nearby.

What does healthy cat’s skin and hair coat look like?

Different breeds have different hair – short, medium, or long and fine, medium or coarse, but all healthy felines should have shiny and mat-free coats. A feline with dull fur that breaks easily or has bald spots may indicate that there is a health issue and your veterinarian should be consulted.

How to examine the skin and hair coat of a feline:          

  • Run a comb or bristle brush against the lay of the hair to expose the skin
  • Check the appearance of the skin
  • Look to see if there is any residue on the comb or brush.


What am I looking for?

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Rash
  • Bumps
  • Flea detritus
  • Insects
  • Scabs
  • Scaly flakes

After looking at my cat’s skin, I believe they have a problem, What could be causing it?

Here is a short list of itchy skin diseases and their characteristics:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis: Red and itchy bumps, inflamed skin at the site of contact, a rash that may spread beyond the area of contact
  • Chiggers: Itching with skin irritation between toes, around ears and mouth
  • Contact dermatitis: Red, itchy bumps, inflamed skin at site of contact, may be caused by rubber or plastic food dishes
  • Ear mites: Head tilting and shaking, scratching at the ears, brown, waxy material in ear canals
  • Flea allergy dermatitis: Red, itchy bumps over the base of tail, back of rear legs and inner thighs, itching continues after fleas have been killed
  • Fleas: Itching and scratching along the back, around tail and hindquarters, may see fleas, flea feces, and eggs
  • Food allergy dermatitis: Severe itching over the head, neck, and back, swelling of eyelids, reddened ears, possible hair loss and oozing sores
  • Inhalant allergy: Small bumps and crusts around the head, neck, and back beneath hair coat, may have symmetrical hair loss over body
  • Lice: Look for nits that look like white grains of sandy material attached to the hair, may have bare spots where hair has been rubbed off
  • Maggots: Soft-bodied, legless fly larvae found in matted fur or open wounds
  • Scabies: Intense itching around the head, face, neck, and edges of the ears, hair is rubbed off, typical thick gray to yellow crusts on skin
  • Ticks: Often found around the ears, along the back, between the toes
  • Walking dandruff: Large amounts of dry, scaly, flaky skin over the neck, back, and sides, mild itching

This partial list shows feline skin ailments can be caused by allergies, parasites, irritations, or internal diseases. Your veterinarian is trained to recognize the symptoms and diagnose a remedy that will relieve the itchiness before the cat suffers hair loss, wounds, or bacterial infections.  

What you can do:

Once the cause of the skin irritation has been identified, steps should be taken to prevent the animal from further exposure. Bathing the animal right away may help to minimize or eliminate the discomfort. 
The following treatments will not cure the problem but will help to control the symptoms by reducing the itching and soothing the inflammation. Such treatments include the use of:

  • Topical or oral corticosteroids
  • Antihistamines
  • Allergy shots
  • Immune therapy

To Your Pet’s Good Health,

Dr. Barry



Nov 27, 2017 1:16:16 PM By Barry Miller feline itchy skin, Skin & Coat,

When Cats Hurt

 “Not too long ago I trimmed the trees back from one corner of my home. I trimmed one tree, in particular, that was more than a tree it was a ladder our 14-year-old cat, Boo, to climb up on our roof. I trimmed it so that our cat could no longer get up on our roof after an incident where he was unable to get down. Since then we have not seen Boo on the roof.

To my wife’s and my surprise upon returning home after a morning walk we saw Boo on the roof attempting to jump to the trimmed back tree. We were too far away to help.  Not being very limber he missed his mark and fell to the ground. He quickly walked away from the mishap but with his age, we knew he would be hurting.  We regularly give Boo Feline RJ Plus Transdermal Cream but decided to double the dose for the next couple of days.  Boo never showed signs of discomfort so I know that this wonderful transdermal cream worked and I didn’t have to fight Boo every day trying to administer a pill to him. “

Cats can be difficult to treat for pain for several reasons. One, Cats being cats, when they hurt because of illness or injuries, their instincts cause them to mask their pain. This natural behavior creates a problem when the animal has a serious condition that should receive veterinary attention but instead goes unchecked. Two, it’s just hard to give cats pills or liquids in spite of pill poppers and syringes.

Unmasking Hidden Feline Pain

It is important that cat owners be vigilant in watching for signs that their cat is experiencing discomfort since cats hide it well and often become ill-tempered when they experience pain.

Signs that indicate a cat is in pain may include:

  • Behavioral changes
    • Increased vocalization
    • Acting agitated by biting or slapping
    • Withdrawal from play activities
    • Excessive sleeping
    • Loss of interest in being handled, cuddled, picked up
    • Aggression when handled
    • Acting depressed, hiding, or disappearing for long lengths of time
    • Changes in grooming habits
      • Decreased grooming, hair mats
      • Increased grooming in a specific area, pulling out hair
    • Subtle changes in personality
  • Physical changes
    • Loss of appetite
    • Weight loss
    • Shallow breathing
    • Trembling
    • Increase in blood pressure
    • Increased heart rate
    • Limb stiffness or limping

Reasons Why Cats May Experience Pain:

Hiding their pain also makes it difficult for your veterinarian to diagnose the cause of the cat’s discomfort. A cat can encounter many causes of pain, for example:

  • Trauma
  • Injury
  • Poison
  • Recovering from medical treatment or surgery
  • Dental infections
  • Degenerative disease
  • Urinary tract diseases
  • Ear infections
  • Systemic infections
  • Cancer
  • Age
  • Arthritis

What you can do to treat and manage Pain in Cats:

Determining the cause to alleviate the pain is imperative to help your cat feel better. However, in cats, pain management does not always have a straightforward approach. While there are many ways for a veterinarian to medically manage animal pain, unfortunately, there are fewer options for cats than there are for dogs.

Pain relief medications that can be used on cats include:

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
    • Used to treat mild to moderate pain
    • Provide analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic help
    • However, caution must be shown when used with cats
      • Recommended only for short-term use
      • NSAIDs can cause liver, kidney, stomach, intestinal problems
        • For example, acetaminophen is toxic to cats and can be fatal
  • Opioids
    • Used to treat cats with severe pain, for example:
      • Following surgery
      • Advanced cancer
      • Severe arthritis
    • Certain opioids are considered to have few side effects than others
    • Felt to offer quality of life for cats with severe chronic pain
  • Corticosteroids
    • Used to treat cats with anti-inflammatory needs, for example:
      • Arthritis pain
      • Allergic discomfort
    • Caution must be shown when used with cats
      • Potential long-term side effects

Alternative Therapies for Managing Pain in Cats

Two types of alternatives methods for managing feline pain include:

  • Acupuncture
    • Considered a natural, non-invasive therapy that acts as an aid to stimulate the body to repair itself.
    • Therapy typically requires a series of treatments and should not be considered to be a quick fix.
    • The outcome usually recommends a series of treatments before an animal can return to its original pain-free state.
    • Has been proven to help animals with conditions such as:
      • Traumatic nerve injuries
      • Arthritis
      • Seizures and epilepsy
      • Immune function
      • Systemic inflammatory conditions
      • Degenerative joint disease
      • Cancer, to provide pain relief and aid fatigue
      • Cancer, to alleviate gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting, nausea, inappetence
  • Transdermal Cream

Feline RJ Plus Transdermal treatment is an anti-inflammatory & pain reliever for cats that you simply massage on the inside of one ear of your cat. There are no known side effects or contraindications. It is safe and non-toxic and easy to use with no gloves required.

  • Prolotherapy
    • Type of holistic rehabilitative therapy also referred to as non-surgical ligament reconstruction
    • Therapy has been used in human rehabilitative medicine with minimal side effects.
    • Involves a series of injections that are a mixture of medicines that work to:
      • Relieve pain
      • Reconstruct and regenerate ligaments and tendons
      • Speed healing
  • Injections are inserted into the area where ligament or tendon attaches to the bone, increasing the blood supply which stimulates the repair of the tissues and provides pain relief.
  • Therapy has been shown to reduce pain in animals diagnosed with medical issues such as:
    • Ligament, tendon, and/or cartilage damage
    • Joint degeneration
    • Arthritis
    • Degenerated or herniated spinal discs


Cats are often beloved for their strong independent natures combined with their loving and sweet personalities.  Although it can be hard to determine when and why our cats experience pain with some understanding of feline pain you will have the knowledge to help you make those assessments correctly. Making your cat comfortable by using tried-and-true medicines or newer medical therapies offer methods for you to manage your cat’s pain and keep them comfortable.

To your Pet’s good health,

Dr. Barry




Nov 20, 2017 9:46:07 AM By Barry Miller cat-pain-hurt-arthritis, Arthritis & Joint Health,

Help for the Owner’s of Poop Eaters

For 10 years we had the joy of raising baby doll sheep. My children loved the lambs each spring season. The sheep were free to roam our five acres of grass. We enjoyed the sheep but unfortunately we made a discovery that my wife was 100% repulsed by; our 7 year old Poodle, Rupert, developed a liking for eating the scattered sheep droppings that the sheep generously left behind.  For Rupert it was Easter every day as he enjoyed a treasure hunt in our yard. Neither one of us had had a pet that ate poop and realized how hard it was to let a pet that eats poop lick your children’s face or get too close. 

As the house Veterinarian I had the job of solving this nasty problem called Cophrophagia. Coprophagia is a term used to refer to the eating of feces, aka, poop.

Although we were unhappy with Rupert’s habit of eating the poop, Rupert on the other hand was very happy. Thus the challenge to put an end to it became apparent. I found a talk given by Benjamin Hart, DVM, PhD, DACVB, distinguished professor emeritus at the University of California –Davis, he spoke about some of the more inexplicable behaviors of companion animals in his talk: “Why do they do that? Purring, yawning, flipping out on catnip, and ……eating poop.”  Of course he left the last inexplicable behavior of eating poop to the last because of its gross factor.

"Hart cited a recent unpublished Web-based study, which included information from nearly 1,500 pet owners with dogs that had been seen eating feces daily or weekly, and at least 10 times.

According to the survey, the top five Poop-eating dogs were:

  1. Labrador retriever (10.4 percent);
  2. Golden retriever (5.8 percent);
  3. Basset hound (5.5 percent);
  4. German shepherd (5.3 percent);
  5. Shetland sheepdog (4.7 percent)….I believe the word sheep explains this one

About 10 percent of the dogs ate only their own poop, while 32 percent ate the poop of others, and nearly 50 percent of all dogs who ate poop would eat their own or that of other dogs. “Most dogs ate any ol’ stool,” Hart said.

Other findings included:

  • Females were more likely than males to engage in this behavior (60 percent vs. 40 percent)
  • The behavior does not reflect poor living sanitation: 82 percent of dogs in the survey almost never soiled their own house
  • Almost all dogs opted for fresh poop as opposed to old ones…the gross factor just reached a new level.
  • Coprophagia was more common in multi-dog households. In single-dog homes, only 20 percent of dogs had the habit, while in homes with three dogs, that rose to 33 percent.
  • Poop eaters are no harder to house train than any other dogs.
  • 85 percent of poop eaters will not eat their own poop, only that of other dogs.
  • Greedy eaters—dogs who steal food off tables—tend to also be poop eaters.

Hart wrote, "Our conclusion is that eating of fresh stools is a reflection of an innate predisposition of ancestral canids living in nature that protects pack members from intestinal parasites present in feces that could occasionally be dropped in the den/rest area." His study consisted of two separate surveys sent to about 3,000 dog owners."

I agree that there is an element of ancestral innate poop eating that can explain this behavior.  Other than being gross a dog that eats their own poop can be harmless. It’s when our canine friends eat the poop of other animals that it becomes more of a health concern.  This can result in the internalization of parasites, viruses, or toxins. Puppies are more likely to eat poop until about 9months of age but it is not too uncommon for older pets to suddenly start this nasty habit. 

The Question of Why, Answered…sort of: the eating of poop has long baffled many owners and veterinarians. It can be hard to determine the exact cause.

Possible Causes of Coprophagia:

  • Parasites
  • Diets deficient in nutrients and calories
  • Mal absorption syndromes
  • Diabetes, cushing’s disease, thyroid disease, and other conditions that might cause an increase in appetite
  • Drugs, such as steroids

Dr. Jerry Clein, the chief Veterinary Officer at the American Kennel Club, offers these possible causes:

“ In many cases, dogs start to eat their own poop because of some kind of environmental stress or behavioral triggers, including:

  • Isolation: Studies have shown dogs who are kept alone in kennels or basements are more likely to eat poop than those dogs that live close to their people.
  • Restrictive confinement: Spending too much time confined in a small space can cause the problem. It's not unusual to see coprophagia in dogs rescued from crowded shelters.
  • Anxiety: often a result of a person using punishment or harsh methods during housetraining. According to this theory, dogs may eliminate and then eat their own poop to get rid of the evidence, but then they are punished more. It becomes a vicious cycle.
  • Attention-seeking: Dogs eat their own poop to get a reaction from their humans, which they inevitably will. So if you see your dog doing this, don't overreact.
  • Inappropriate association with real food: Dogs who are fed in close proximity to their feces may make a connection between the odors of food and those of poop and will be unable to tell the difference.
  • Scenting it on their mothers: Lindsay writes that in some cases, puppies will get confused by sniffing fecal odors on their mother's breath after she has cleaned them. Also, sometimes mothers may regurgitate food that is mixed with puppy fecal matter. He calls this an "appetitive inoculation," which may set a puppy up to develop this bad habit.
  • Living with a sick or elderly dog: Sometimes a healthy dog will consume stools from a weaker canine member of the household, especially in cases of fecal incontinence. Scientists hypothesize that this may be related to the instinct to protect the pack from predators.”


So how do you stop your dog from eating poop?

I recommend talking with your Veterinarian first, it will be important to rule out medical reasons for your pet’s coprophagia.

I have had success working with my own and other dogs with the following  suggestions:

  • Enzyme supplementation: The modern canine diet is higher in carbohydrates and lower in meat-based proteins and fats than the canine ancestral diet. A great enzyme supplement is Prozyme. Prozyme a unique, scientifically proven, all-natural enzymatic food supplement that allows greater absorption of the important nutrients found in a pet's food. I also recommend Probiotics, a natural way to improve your pet’s nutritional absorption. The Probiotic I recommend is Synacore or Advita.
  • Taste-aversion products: The theory is that certain tastes and smells are as disgusting to dogs as the idea of stool eating is to us and that spraying certain substances on poop will make it less appealing. Many of these products contain monosodium glutamate, chamomile, pepper-plant derivatives, yucca, garlic, and parsley. CoproBan, Cease Coprophagia soft chews or granules, Stop Stool Eating chewable tablets or soft chews and For Bid.  Another interesting poop eating aversion product is for those pets that like to snack on litter boxes, it’s called Outta My Box. This product comes in a 500 Count tub and you feed it to both your cat and dog.

Will Training help?

Yes, it can help some but the effectiveness of training is dependent on your pet’s ability to respond to your training.

The best place to start is by asking your Veterinarian for tips on training your pet

1.Remove the Temptation:

  • Become a home and yard poop picking up expert, so there will be no poop for your pet to eat.
  • Location and Reach, keep cat litter boxes empty of feces and out of your dog's reach.

2.Monitor the amount of time the dog spends alone, in a crate, or in a cage so that out of boredom they do not begin to eat their poop.

3.Positively train your dog with the following cues:

  • “come” – use to call them away from a potential item they may eat
  • “leave it” – use to command the dog to leave an item alone
  • “drop it” – use to get the dog to drop an item before swallowing

4.As an absolute last resort, you can try a Basket-muzzle when taking your pet for walks

  • This will eliminate the dog’s opportunities to quickly snatch up and swallow any poop but will still allow them to breath and drink

I hope that this information will help you in your efforts to decrease your pet’s consumption of poop, it can be a very frustrating habit to break but it is possible. To end this blog on a happy note, Rupert did stop eating sheep poop. But you may find this a hard thing to achieve, it will be important to talk to your Veterinarian and maybe an animal behaviorist. I wish you good luck!

To your Pet’s good health,

Barry Miller DVM








Oct 23, 2017 5:48:33 PM By Barry Miller coprophagia poop eater behavior, Behavior,

No Bones About Joints

The most common problem with middle age to senior dogs and cats is arthritis or some type of joint problem. Just like people our pet’s need help taking care of their joints. Today, I want to share important facts and pointers on how to  keep our pet’s joints healthy.

Did You Know?

  • Dogs have about 319 individual bones
    • Bones will vary in size and shape depending upon the breed.
  • Cats have about 244 individual bones
    • The number of bones will vary depending upon the length of their tail.
  • Unlike humans, who walk on the soles of their feet, cats and dogs walk on their toes.
  • While humans carry all of their weight on their hips, dogs carry 75 percent of their weight on their shoulders and front legs.
  • In cats, the collar bone is small and may even be absent:
    • If present, the collar bone is not attached to the main skeleton, which helps to narrow the chest to allow the animal to keep its legs and feet close together and offers increased flexibility and the ability to fit in tight spaces.
    • This also enables the front legs to better absorb the shock of landing.
  • The musculoskeletal system works together to provide stability and skeletal tightness, but in a cat, this system is less tightly connected, which helps to provide for their extreme flexibility!

Become Familiar with The Basics:

Musculoskeletal System

The joints are a part of the musculoskeletal system, which also consists of bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and muscles. This system has three general purposes:

  • Support the weight of the body
  • Maintain body position
  • Produce controlled movements


When two bones come together they meet at the joint and provide for the range of motion in the skeletal system.

  • Most joints have a cushioning pad of cartilage that works to protect the bones from the friction caused by everyday movement.
  • When damaged by joint stress or trauma, these pads may deteriorate and inflame joint surfaces to cause pain and decrease mobility.
  • Damage to the cartilage or structures in the joint often results in arthritis, a painful joint disease which is treatable, but has no cure, and typically progresses over time.
  • Some joint issues are related to genetics.

Growth Plates and Young Puppies

What is a Growth Plate?  Growth plates are soft areas that sit at the ends of the long bones in puppies and kittens.

Growth Plates  contain rapidly dividing cells that allow bones to become longer.  Growth plates normally close or fuse as a pet matures.   In puppies, this closure is normally completed by approximately 12-18 months old.

Until the growth plates close, they’re soft and vulnerable to injury. Puppies and kittens that jump from high places or for toys can cause stress on the growth plates.

 Injury to a growth plate can result in a misshapen or shortened limbs which, in turn, can create an incorrect angle to a joint which can make the puppy more prone to yet more injuries or arthritis when he grows up.

4       Tips for Maintaining Joint Health and Reducing Joint Issues

#1.  Overweight animals are more likely to develop joint problems

  • Veterinarians can provide answers to questions regarding a pet’s appropriate weight.
  • Consult with your veterinarian about a pet’s dietary needs, for example:
    • Young animals need a diet balanced for the age and breed.
    • Unbalanced diets that cause the animal to grow too quickly can lead to excessive stress on cartilage and may cause future joint issues.
    • Diets with an imbalance in the calcium to phosphorous ratio in growing animals can result in metabolic bone diseases which will affect joint health.
    • Older animals need a diet that is nutritionally balanced for their age, and one that helps to maintain good body condition and weight.
  • Dietary supplements
    • Consult with a veterinarian about the possible need for a supplement that supports joint health and mobility in your pet, such as: Feline RJ+, Vitality Joint Support, Dasuquin, Rejuvenate Plus
      • Glucosamine: supports joint health, increases mobility and decreases pain.
      • Omega 3 fatty acids: helps to ease joint pain by reducing inflammation.
  • Exercise
    • Consult with a veterinarian to establish an exercise regimen that:
      • Looks at the pet’s current overall health.
      • Considers the pet’s issues with joint pain, arthritis and overall health.
      • Promotes an exercise plan that is appropriate for the pet; for example, moderate and low-impact exercise like walking and swimming for older animals.
  • Help reduce joint strain
    • Everyday movements, such as jumping and climbing, can cause joint strain. Here are 3 things to do to prevent joint strain for the pet:
      • Consider using pet ramps or pet stairs for getting on/off of beds and couches, and in/out of vehicles.
      • Cover floors with rugs or carpet to protect the pet from injuries caused by slipping.
      • Provide the pet with a place to rest that helps to keep joints warm.

Not all joint issues are preventable, but keeping your pet at the right weight and in good body condition will definitely help to avoid some. Maintaining a good diet and providing the proper exercise can reduce the amount of discomfort they could otherwise experience if they suffered from poor joint health issues.

To Your Pet’s Good Health,


Dr. Barry



Sep 25, 2017 10:57:57 AM By Barry Miller Arthritis & Joint Health,

Tips on How To Live With An Incontinent Pet

Even when under the most watchful eyes, puppies may soil in the house. Until they have full control of their bladder and have figured out the importance of house training, accidents are bound to happen! Fortunately, most pups quickly figure out what they need to do. Why then, several years down the road, do we see signs that these same dogs seem to have forgotten what they learned? Urinary incontinence is a condition that can affects dogs of all ages, breeds, or gender. Most commonly observed in spayed females that are middle-aged and older, incontinence can cause health problems that require veterinary attention.

The first signs of urinary incontinence may include:

1. Wetting the bedding or floor where animal has been sleeping
2. Dribbling of urine
3. Increase in frequency of urinating
4. Voiding bladder when excited or stressed.

The initial signs of incontinence are sometimes overlooked. It can be easy to excuse away urinary mishaps, or we may incorrectly assume our pet was not been let out in time. However, incontinence won’t just go away. As the condition progresses, pet owners who may not have been aware of the issue in the beginning will soon recognize that their pet does indeed have a problem. It is important that pet owners of pets know that the symptoms indicate a need to bring their pet in for an examination.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

#1. Age

  • When incontinence symptoms are observed only occasionally, such as when the animal has been sleeping, the cause may be related to the animal’s age and attributed to:
  • Weakened muscle tone of the urethral sphincter
  • Lowered estrogen levels or hormonal imbalance
  • Treatment:
    • Prescribed medication that works to increase the muscle tone of the urethral sphincter, such as phenylpropanolamine
    • Neutered male dogs also respond to being given testosterone

 #2. Illness

    • Certain diseases cause excessive water consumption which increases the animal’s production of urine as well as their need to urinate, and include:
    • Diabetes
    • Kidney disease
    • Cushing’s disease
    • Underlying conditions
      • Examples:
      • Bladder or urinary tract infections
      • Urinary stones
      • Spinal injury
      • Spine degeneration
      • Prostate disorders
      • Protruding intervertebral disc
      • Congenital abnormalities
  • Treatment:
    • Can be difficult, but may include:
    • Long-term catheterization
    • Antibiotics
    • Drugs that act on the function of the bladder
  • When the symptoms are related to Kidney Failure or Cushings Disease, the implications of the disease require much more than providing a treatment for incontinence

#3. Stress

  • When a dog shows signs of a loss of bladder control when in scary or tense situations, it be stress incontinence. Found to occur more often in younger animals, most will outgrow the condition. See Tip#6. below for tips on treating this condition.

What Your Veterinarian Will Need to Know:

Without knowing the exact cause, incontinence may be difficult to treat. Clients should be prepared to provide their veterinarian with the answers to such questions as the following:

  • When did the symptoms first appear?
  • Do the symptoms occur all the time or just on occasion?
  • Does the animal dribble as it walks? Or on where it sits and sleeps?
  • Does it seem to occur only when relaxed or when excited?
  • Is there anything unusual about the urine? Strange color or odor?
  • Does the animal seem to have difficulty urinating? Does it posture as usual?
  • Has the dog been drinking more water than usual?
  • Has the dog always signaled its need to go outside?
  • Has the animal’s need to go outside changed in frequency or in urgency?
  • Does the animal want to go outside?
  • Are there any other unfamiliar signs?

Tips on How to Live With An Incontinent Pet

Living with an incontinent dog will require extra effort on your part. The following tips may be helpful.

Tip #1. Monitor your pet’s condition closely, watch for any changes that may signal the start of a disease, such as:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased frequency in urinating needs


Tip #2. Provide proper hygiene. When keeping the dog clean, watch for developing signs of:

  • Urine scalding
  • Skin infections


Tip #3. Living area cleanliness is absolutely necessary for the health and comfort of the animal.

  • Place waterproof pads under the dog’s bedding to absorb urine
  • Layer clean blankets, towels or sheets on the animal’s sleeping spot, changing frequently
  • To protect furniture and carpets, use doggie diapers


Tip #4. Increase the number of walks per day, make sure to the get animal outside quickly as soon as it wakes from sleeping.

Tip #5. Under no circumstances should the animal’s access to its water bowl be removed or limited.

Tip #6. If the animal experiences stress incontinence, apply behavioral modification techniques such as the following:

  • Avoid bending over the animal
  • Do not make direct eye contact
  • Keep stressful interactions brief and to a minimum
  • If possible, work with a canine behaviorist
  • Use stress hormone products such as Stress Away,  Adaptil Collars and Spray and Feliway

Tip#7 If you are concerned with the wear and tear on your home use the following products to assist you in cleaning up.  Urine Away Odour Remover and a Urine Finder Flashlight. to gently remove the harshness and smell of urine from your pet try using AOE wipes & spray and F.O.N. spray.

 I have lived with a pet with urinary incontinence, I know it can be frustrating. It will be important to discuss your pet’s incontinence with your Veterinarian.  And they can help you determine if it is a symptom that can be easily treated or a symptom of a serious illness.

To Your Pet’s Good Health,

Dr. Barry


Sep 12, 2017 2:20:33 PM By Barry Miller urinary-incontinence-dogs, Urinary,

Summer Fruits and Vegetables That are Pet Friendly

I have heard of enclosing a vegetable garden to keep wildlife from nibbling on the produce. My brother-in-law had a garden raider that would steal produce before it could be picked or while it was being picked. This garden raider had developed a strong liking for cucumbers and strawberries. Their garden thief was surprisingly their rescue dog named “Spooks”. He would meander in the garden and eat a cucumber or strawberry before they had a chance to pick them or while it was being picked he would sneak up and steal one. And then there are those of you that have plate raiders. You may have a pet that sits patiently waiting for something off of your plate to nibble on. “It’s just so difficult to ignore those pleading eyes!”  However your pet may acquire human food it is important to know which foods are pet friendly.

This helpful list features people-healthy fruits and vegetables that can also be offered as safe treats for dogs!

Fruits and Vegetables that Make Good Dog Treats


  • Not only do apples provide vitamins A and C, they are also low in protein and fat which makes them good snacks for overweight, sedentary, and senior dogs
  • Remember to remove the core and seeds before offering as a snack


  • High in vitamins, fiber, and potassium, yet low in cholesterol and sodium, bananas are good for dogs and most find them delicious
  • Because they have a high sugar content, clients should be advised that even though their pup begs for more, bananas should only be given as a treat


  • Beneficial in so many ways, blueberries are good for dogs
  • Full of fiber and rich in antioxidants, blueberries are a healthy treat choice


  • Raw broccoli is good for a dog, but only the stem
  • The head and florets contain a toxin which can cause gastrointestinal problems
  • The stem, however, contains plenty of fiber and vitamin C, and is also good for helping to maintain clean teeth


  • Known to freshen breath, celery contains the nutrients the body needs to fight cancer, and support heart health
  • Celery is also full of vitamins A, B, and C, and many dogs enjoy it as a treat topped with peanut butter or cream cheese
  • Be careful when feeding a dog celery as it can be a choking hazard. Make sure the bites are sized appropriately and that the dog chews the celery well.


  • When used as a snack, cucumbers can provide a dog with vitamins B1, C, and K, and also supplements the diet with copper, magnesium, and potassium
  • This vegetable is considered good for overweight dogs as it is capable of boosting energy levels and has relatively no carbohydrates, fats, or oils


  • While the taste of oranges may not appeal to all dogs, oranges are safe to use as a treat and are full of vitamin C
  • Outside of the seeds, a dog can eat the entire fruit; however, you should remove the peel as it can be difficult to digest


  • The skin of the pear is its healthiest part, so wash the fruit, but leave its skin intact
  • It only takes a few chunks to provide a dog with beneficial vitamins C and K, copper and fiber
  • IMPORTANT!  Be sure to remove the pit and pear seeds as the seeds contain small traces of cyanide which is capable of making a dog ill


  • Once fresh pineapple is trimmed and cored it makes a really nice treat
  • Full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, pineapple also contains bromelain, an enzyme that supports a dog’s ability to absorb proteins


  • With their high iron content, potatoes are a good treat to give to dogs every once in a while
  • When raw they can cause stomach distress so be advised to always cook them first
  • Any time potatoes are offered as a treat, they should be plain, not topped with butter and seasonings as most people enjoy


  • One of the most popular summer fruits, fresh strawberries are chock full of vitamins and fiber, and can be used as a treat for dogs
  • Strawberries have a high sugar content and so they should be given to a pet in moderation

Sweet Potatoes

  • Full of fiber, beta carotene, and vitamins B-6 and C, dogs benefit from a treat of sweet potatoes
  • Before being given to a dog, their preparation should be completed in the same way as regular potatoes, cooked and unseasoned


  • As long as the rind and seeds are removed, watermelon can be offered as a safe choice for dog treats
  • Full of nutrients, with no fat or cholesterol, its high water content also provides a way to help keep a dog hydrated on hot days


For your pet, sneaking a fresh picked fruit or vegetable directly from the garden may be the best treat. One of the simplest forms of dog treats using fruits and vegetables is to freeze them. Here are two recipes that your pet will enjoy:

Frozen Apple

Slice two apples, removing the seeds and the core, then chop up and throw in a blender. Add a cup of plain Greek yogurt and a splash of water, then blend, pour in an ice tray, freeze, 

Frozen Yogurt Strawberries

Fresh strawberries (with the greens cut off, of course), dipped in plain yogurt. That’s it!

Use a fork to do the dipping, then lay on parchment paper and freeze.

Remember that there is a difference between offering a dog a treat and providing their meal. Regardless of the benefit provided by eating fruits or vegetables, feeding too much may reduce your dog’s nutritional intake if the quantity of treats interferes with their natural hunger response to eat their specially balanced regular diet.

To Your Pet’s Good Health,

Dr. Barry


Aug 28, 2017 1:52:39 PM By Barry Miller general information nutrition, General Information,


Approximately 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year. The vast majority of them are crossbred or mixed breed. Each year, approximately 670,000 dogs are euthanized. When you bring a mixed breed or mutt into your home you may well be saving a life.

So What Makes a Mutt a Mutt?


The genetic makeup of a dog is determined by its parents, for instance:

  • Purebred dogs have parents that are both of the same breed. For example, the father is pure poodle, and the mother is pure poodle.
  • Crossbred dogs have parents that are purebred, but they are of different breeds. For example, if the father is pure Labrador, and the mother is pure poodle, the puppies will be a cross between the two, a Labrador/Poodle.
  • Crossbred dogs can also have one parent that is purebred and the other that is crossbred. For example, if the father is a cross between a Labrador and Poodle and the mother is a purebred poodle, the puppies are still a cross of just two breeds, Labrador/poodle, and are still considered crossbred.
  • Mixed breed dogs, or mutts, have more than 2 breeds in their genetic make-up, sometimes even more than 3 or 4! For example, if the father is a cross between a Labrador and poodle and the mother is a German shepherd, the puppies have more than two breeds in their makeup (Labrador/Poodle/German Shepherd) and are considered mixed breed


Knowing for certain how a mixed breed pup will act as an adult can be difficult to determine while most purebred animals exhibit the personality and physical characteristics true to their breed, some of these dogs don’t. Even when the parents are known, it can be difficult to tell which genes and traits they will pass on to their offspring.


The temperament and behavior of mutts tends to be less of an extreme than in a purebred animal. Out of preference to retain the qualities of the pure line, breeding purebred animals often produces puppies that have specific temperaments and behaviors. Certain traits define a dog’s breed, for example:

  • Border collies are herding dogs, and they tend to be very focused and energetic.
  • Certain hounds are hunting dogs that may have a strong prey drive, and chasing or digging instincts.

While a mutt may not be the best choice if the animal is wanted to perform a specific behavior that is often used to identify a breed, they tend to be more flexible when in settings and situations that requires them to adjust to change and to fit in with the lifestyles of their humans.


This is a question commonly asked by clients. There are a lot of possible breeds to choose from, and many have similar characteristics. Unless the parents are known, it is almost impossible to be absolutely certain of the breed combination of a mutt just by looking at the dog. However, there is a way to find out!

There are many companies that will test the DNA of a dog in order to determine why it looks and acts the way it does! The procedure only requires a few steps:

  • Order a kit
  • Once it arrives, using the kit’s cotton swabs, rub them on the inside of the animal’s cheek to capture the animal’s saliva, which contains its DNA
  • Seal the swabs appropriately in kit materials
  • Return the swabs to the company for testing
  • Within a short period of time, the results will be returned and the lineage of the animal will be uncovered!

The procedure is quite simple, and the results can be very interesting! You can purchase several different brands of Pet DNA test kits. We offer the Embark DNA Test kit, it is the most accurate and comprehensive test.  Click here to learn more about this test:

While genetics do play a part in what a dog will be like as it grows up, remember that the role you play in your pet’s life is just as important. Caring for your pet’s needs, training and providing it with attention will help any pet become a welcomed and wanted member of a family!

To your pet’s good health,

Dr. Barry



Jul 27, 2017 4:17:46 PM By Barry Miller general information mutt dna, General Information,

Boredom Busters and Play Safety Tips for Dogs

Playing with your pet, both old and young, is a great way to fight boredom and exercise their bodies and brains.  It’s a time that you can introduce them to different situations, sounds, and textures that they may not be used to.  In puppies and kittens, playtime is a great time to develop muscles, coordination, and trust.  And in seniors, it’s an excellent way to keep their brain active and alert.

Tips for successful play time:

  • Make sure the environment is free of distractions and supports your pet paying attention to commands so they can successfully complete the task
  • Make commands simple and achievable, building up to harder activities
  • Encourage and Praise. Do not scold during play unless your pet is doing an undesirable behavior like biting, or going to the bathroom on the floor, etc.
  • Take breaks
  • Use toys and treats as motivation and attention grabbers

Here are a few ideas for brain games that you can play with your dog.

1. Box of Fun

If you have a large box on hand, place blankets or pet bedding inside the box. Show a toy or treat to your pet, then hide the treats or toy inside the box underneath the blankets or bedding.  Your pet will enjoy the challenge of trying to find their toy or treat in this game of hide and seek. Praise your dog when they find the toy.

2. Scoring a Point

At some point in a dog or cat’s life they will be in a crate or kennel whether in your home or at a boarding facility. It can be a helpful step to learn to create a positive and playful association with their crate.  When your pet is in a happy mood bring the crate in to the play environment and leave the door open.  An open door on a crate makes a great “net” for scoring a goal.  In this game, start by picking a toy that will be kept in your pet’s kennel. Create interest in the toy or treat and play a game of fetch with it, but always have the toy land inside the crate, “scoring a goal”. Your dog will have to go inside the crate and come out. By doing this repeatedly they will begin to associate their kennel with fun, that going inside is not permanent, and it’s safe.  Additionally, making use of toys, like Kongs that allow you to place peanut butter or treats inside the toy, can help your pet learn to stay longer in the crate. You can also play a similar game of hide and seek with bedding and a reward as mentioned above in #1. 

3. Spin-Spin

Learning to spin on cue is a simple game that most puppies will pick up quickly.  This can have the added benefit of training them to spin on a towel to dry their feet when they come in from outside.  To begin this brain challenge, hold a treat in front of your puppy and make sure that they are aware it’s there. Very slowly move your hand around their side, either right or left, so that they begin to turn to follow the treat, and praise them as they move.  Continue until your puppy has moved in a complete circle, and then give the puppy the treat and praise them. If your puppy loses the scent of the treat before they complete the circle, simply begin again and move a little slower until they can build up to a complete circle.  Add your cue word at the beginning of the game such as “Spin Spin”. To add an extra challenge, you can play this going in the opposite direction.

4. Search and Rescue

For this game you will need several containers to hide a treat under; for example, flower pots, or Tupperware containers, etc. With this game your pet will learn the importance of paying attention.

Ask your puppy to sit and stay, or have a family member sit on the floor and hold them. Place three containers a short distance away, show your pet the treat or toy, and then place it under one of the containers. Pause, waiting for your pet to look directly at you, and then point to the container under which you’ve placed the treat just as the pet is released to search for it. Repeat the game, switching which container the treat is placed under. You can introduce your verbal cue when it’s time to search such as, “Go find it”. Praise your pet when they find it.

5. Make mealtime a game

Food maze bowls offer your speedy eaters and bored pets a chance to play a mind challenging game while eating their meal. As the food is placed in the maze bowl, it requires the dog to think, lick, and move the kibble to get the food out, providing a fun, challenging activity for dogs at feeding time.  This can be done inside or outside. You can buy these bowls here:

6. Go to a Dog Park

A dog park can be a wonderful place for a dog! The open area not only offers the chance to get rid of some of that pent-up energy, but it can also help to improve a pup’s social skills.

Safety is important when bringing any size or age animal to a dog park, especially if the park is to be enjoyed by animals off-leash. Look around for the following:

  • Posted rules of conduct
  • Secure fencing
  • Double-gated entry
  • Separate play areas for both large and small dogs
  • Trash cans and poop-bag dispensers
  • Clean grounds that are free of tall grass, weeds, trash, and dog waste
  • Sheltered areas
  • Water fountains that are working, clean, and dog-friendly
  • Number of dogs within the park area and behavioral characteristics of the animals
  • Dog owner attentiveness to activities and animal behaviors from within the park area.

A word about treats as a reward for play:

#1.  A general rule of thumb is treats should not account for more than 10% of your kitten’s or puppies’ calories a day, so it’s important to offer treats that are low in calories, since training often leads to multiple treats a day. Also, the calories in treats can make your puppy less hungry for their well-balanced nutrition offered at meal time.
#2.  As the veterinarian at VetApprovedRx, I recommend treats that offer well-balanced nutrition with very few ingredients and no fillers, treats that might more closely resemble a high-quality puppy food. I feel confident that all of the treats we offer are safe and healthy for your dog or cat of any age.

A low calorie treat made from real chicken is Lean Treats, and you can purchase these here:

A word about toys:

It’s best to purchase toys that are durable and made of material that is not toxic, that don’t have multiple tiny parts that can be chewed off and become choke hazards. There are many toys on the market that are made specifically for dogs and cats and are safe to use during play time.

A word of caution on older pets and puppies:

There are many positive implications of playing games with your pet; however, I advise some caution with senior pets and puppies and games that require them to jump from high surfaces, or require repeated impact on joints.

For senior pets, these games can cause pain and damage to already stressed limbs and joints. While your puppy is growing, their “growth plates” at the ends of their bones are soft, and harden once they are done growing. This growth plate area can be susceptible to damage through excessive impact. For both senior dogs and young puppies, hard exercise is not advised. There are a wide variety of games that will challenge your pet with varying degrees of difficulty. I recommend doing some research on brain stimulating games for your pet. Again, the more positive use of your pet’s energy, the less time they may spend on negative behaviors.


To Your Pet’s Good Health and Fun!

Dr. Barry


Brain Games for Puppies, Claire Arrowsmith. 2014. Firefly Books, New York.

Train Your Puppy Right. The American Kennel Club. 2012. Bow Tie Press. Irvine, California.





Jul 19, 2017 1:04:02 PM By Barry Miller boredom play safety, Behavior,

Simple Fire Safety Tips for your Pets.

When firefighters respond to a house fire, they know to look for occupants, both human and animal. While their priorities are people first, then animals, then property, responders understand how important pets are to families, and they will do what they can to safely ensure the animals are rescued


Here are some tips to reduce the risk of losing a pet to fire

  • Pet Rescue Fire Safety Stickers. These stickers are intended to be a tool to alert firefighters to the presence of pets within the home. It is very important to keep sticker information current; otherwise, valuable life-saving time may be wasted, or pets may be overlooked Stickers do the following:
  1. Identify the number of and types of pets
  2. Identify where the pets may be found when confined or if hiding
  • Train animals to come when called
  • Keep collars on pets and provide leashes by the door so pets can be safely removed from the building
  • If possible provide animals with a means to leave the building, such as a pet door that opens to the back yard
  • If animals have to be confined by a gate or pet crate, place them in an area or room near the entrance where they can be easily found
  • Install monitored smoke detectors that automatically notify fire department if a fire breaks out and you are away.
  • Include your pets in your family’s fire escape plan

Household fires not only cause loss of property, but every year, these fires take the lives of beloved family pets.  By following these simple steps you will reduce the risk of losing your pet to a fire.

To your pet’s good health,

Dr. Barry


Jul 15, 2017 7:27:12 AM By Barry Miller fire pet safety, General Information,

Imagine This…

An adorable blond cocker spaniel

That's fairly easy.

But not just any cocker paniel

An adorable blond cocker spaniel that loved going to the veterinarian…

Now that's a little harder to imagine.

I just happened to know this cocker spaniel who's name was Smiley. He is no longer with us, but because of his overwhelming love for coming to my vet clinic I have not forgotten him.

It was always hard not to stop and stare when he came in for an appointment.

Once inside his owner would let go of his leash. He would proceed to the reception desk and bounce on the gate leading to the back. Once successfully behind the gate he would find an open cage and get in or he would wait until one of the staff would open the cage door for him. He really seemed to enjoy this, and he did it every time he came to the clinic which was often because he was groomed regularly.

Smiley had associated going to the veterinarian as a positive experience.

Most pet parents will agree, this is not typical for pets visiting their vet office.

Maintaining regular veterinary appointments are important to our pet’s overall health and well-being. While many pets handle these visits just fine, others struggle to enjoy them. Some pets learn to associate their time spent in the veterinary clinic with feelings of pain, discomfort, and unease. 

Is it possible to make vet visits more enjoyable for your pet?

Yes, it is. Here are a few things that you can do to make visiting the vet more enjoyable for you and your pet.:

#1. Choose the right vet clinic.

Overstimulation can become a problem when a pet enters the veterinary clinic. In order to reduce the stress level of a pet  brought about by new sights, sounds, lights, and scents, chose a vet clinic that includes these options:

·        Dog and cat only examination rooms

·        Cat-only appointment hours

·        Minimal amount of waiting for appointment times

·        Quiet environment when waiting for appointment

#2. What you can do to help:

·       Hunger motivates

o   As long as medically appropriate, you can withhold your pet’s food for several hours before the appointment time, please note I am only suggesting several hours before the appointment.

o   Animals that are a little hungry are usually more food-motivated and may better respond to the fear-free techniques. Offer treats when your pet behaves calmly on the way to the vet office, during the exam or around the staff members.

·       The Pet Carrier

o   If your pet only sees the carrier when it is time for a change in their comfortable lifestyle, it will learn to associate the carrier with stress

o   You can remove this negative reaction by using the carrier in ways that enable your pet to associate it with comfort

o   For example, you can use the carrier as a special place to:

·       Feed treats

·       Play with toys, keepa toy they just for when they are in their carrier

·       Offer a comfortable spot to rest

·       Provide a relaxing and calming atmosphere by spraying with soothing  pheromones

·       Create an environment of Calm

o   If your pet likes an item that soothes them, bring it along to the appointment

o   For example, if your pet responds appropriately to the use of a Thundershirt at home, there is a good chance that it will be helpful to the pet during the vet visit

o   If your pet has a prescription that helps to calm and comfort it, bring this medication to the appointment and ask your veterinarian how this medication can help during office visits. Please see #3. For more information about this topic.

o   Keep your pet in their carrier while in the waiting room. Sometimes our first instinct is to take them out and offer comfort while holding them. But for your pet this may make the environment more intimidating if the waiting room is full of other pets and unfamiliar noises and smells.

·       Familiarity breeds Reassurance

o   Pets that have learned to associate the vet clinic with negative feelings can be helped by being brought to the clinic between appointments for a pet and a treat. Many clinics offer free treats to their patients. Stop by with your pet and pick one up just for the fun of it.

Incorporating techniques that lower the amount of stress on an animal during an examination or medical procedure often will reduce the amount of restraint needed.

·       Exercise or Play with your Pet before the appointment

o   If your pet has been sleeping  or resting in a quiet environment all day and their first stimulation is a car ride and exposure to many new sites and sounds at the vet office, they may go into super stimulation mode.

o   Take them for a walk or play with your pet to ease them into changing the pace of their day. This has the added benefit of your pet maybe being a little tired and ready for some rest during the trip and at the vet’s office.

#3. Talk to your Veterinarian and don’t be afraid to use anti anxiety and calming products

If a pet remains unable to relax using the above techniques, products to reduce the stress can be determined for use by your veterinarian. Some of the items can be given before the appointment, some at the start of the appointment. For example:

·        Anxiety medications, Clomicalm, Acepromazine, Fluoxetine or Trazadone

·        Natural products, Stress Away, Adaptil Spray (dog) or Feliway Spray(cat), or  Zylkene,

Veterinarians and their staff are here to help make each office visit a positive one for you and your pet.  If your pet is a handful going for his annual check up, talk to your veterinarian in advance about ways that they can help you and your pet have the best possible experience.

To your Pet’s good health,

 Dr. Barry

Information gathered from:


Jun 29, 2017 2:09:19 PM By Barry Miller stress free veterinary visits, Behavior,
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