Category Archives: Health

Periodontal Disease

Dental disease, specifically periodontal disease, is the most common disease affecting dogs and cats. Periodontal disease is an inflammation of some or all of the supporting structures of the teeth. These structures include the gingiva, periodontal ligament, cementum, and alveolar bone. Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria, mostly aerobic gram positive bacteria such as actinomyces and streptococci.

When dogs and cats eat, food particles become trapped along the gum line and in between the teeth. Bacteria are then attracted to the area which then joins with the food particles to form plaque. This is what creates the “dog breath” odor. If the plaque is not removed, minerals in the saliva begin to mix with the plaque and form tartar. Tartar, also known as calculus, will strongly adhere to the teeth. The tartar will become irritating to the gums and will separate the gums from the teeth to form little pockets where more bacteria can grow. At this point, the damage is usually irreversible and is called periodontal disease. It can be very painful by causing infection, loose teeth, abscesses, or infection.

There are numerous factors that affect the development of periodontal disease. They include diet, age, grooming habits at home, breed, and even genetics.

    The signs of periodontal disease include some of the following:
  • Persistent bad breath

  • Gums that bleed easily

  • Pus around the teeth

  • Inflamed gums

  • Loose teeth

  • Loss of appetite

  • Difficulty chewing or eating

  • Drooling

  • Pawing at the mouth

  • Stomach or intestinal upset

How is periodontal disease treated?

Treatment will depend on the severity of disease. It is important to treat and control periodontal disease to maintain the health of the teeth and gums and to protect from infection from spreading to other parts of the body. The severity of periodontal disease during the examination will be “graded” into one of four groups.

Gum Disease Level 1

Grade I – Early Gingivitis

Has a mild amount of plaque and mild gum redness. There are no radiologic changes and the condition is reversible.

Gum Disease Level 2

Grade II – Advanced Gingivitis

Has plaque below the gum line. The gums are red and swollen. There is little radiologic changes and the condition is reversible.

Gum Disease Level 3

Grade III – Early Periodontitis

Has plaque and tarter below the gum line. The gums are red, swollen, are receding and will bleed with gentle probing. There is 10-30% loss of bone support shown on an x-ray. This condition is irreversible.

Gum Disease Level 4

Grade IV – Established Periodontitis

Has larger amounts of plaque and tarter below the gum line. There is severe gum inflammation, gum recession, loose or missing teeth, pus, and gums bleed easy. There is over 30% bone loss visible on an x-ray. This condition is irreversible.

Treating Grade I and II periodontal disease will require and dental cleaning and polishing. The plaque and tarter will be removed and then the teeth will be polished. The vet may also apply fluoride to the teeth to help strengthen them.

Treating Grade III and IV periodontal disease also require a dental cleaning and polishing as well as several other procedures. These procedures may include root planning and subgingival curettage, periodontal debridement, gingivectomy, periodontal surgery, and tooth extraction.

Remember that periodontal disease is irreversible. Prevention is the key pertaining to dental care in our pets. Regular brushing of your pet’s teeth can reduce plaque from accumulating and the development of tarter. Along with regular brushing, provide your dog with various toys and bones to help remove plaque build up.

TropiClean Dental Health ProductsMisty Pines carries TropiClean Dental Health products! You can fight periodontal disease without brushing their teeth. 93% of users noticed cleaner teeth in less than two weeks and 86% of users noticed better breath in less than one week!

Clean Teeth Gel: Works fast and naturally to help reduce plaque and tartar on dogs and cats — no toothbrush required. A proprietary blend of natural, holistic ingredients produce a healthy oral environment. Kills the germs that cause bad breath, plaque and gingivitis. Soothes minor gum irritations. For clean teeth and ‘up close’ fresh breath everyday!

Mint Foam: Regular use of Fresh Mint Foam keeps teeth and gums clean. Its natural formula helps freshen their breath. For best results, your pet should receive daily oral care to promote periodontal health and overall wellness.

Water Additive: Was developed to provide dogs and cats with essential daily oral hygiene care. It will promote healthy gums and eliminates bad breath for up to 12 hours.

Puppy Oral Care Kit: Periodontal disease is the number one disease among dogs, effecting nearly 80% by age three. Developing good oral care habits at an early age is key to promoting complete pet wellness throughout the entire life of our dog. Fresh Breath Oral Care Kit begins working immediately to address plaque and tartar. A proprietary blend of natural ingredients produce a healthy oral environment, and promote periodontal wellness while also soothing minor gum irritations.

For puppies 16 weeks & up.


Brush teeth once daily for 30 days. Depending on your puppy’s liking, use the TripleFlex brush or the Quick Finger brush. Squeeze a small amount of FreshBreath Brushing Gel onto the brush and allow your puppy to taste. Reapply and gently brush in a circular motion. Never use human toothpaste, as it can upset your puppy’s stomach.

Remember that during the month of February all TropiClean Dental Health products are 20% off at Misty Pines. Bring your dog to our groomers for 25% off teeth brushing ($6) and pick up your TropiClean Dental Health products today!

Winter Safety & Comfort for Dogs

Many parts of the country experience extremely cold weather that presents challenges for dog owners. Familiarity with cold weather health hazards can keep your pet safe while allowing both of you to enjoy the outdoors.

Temperature Related Conditions

Puppies, senior dogs and dogs with certain disease conditions (such as thyroid conditions) are more susceptible to cold temperatures. Temperature related illnesses require immediate removal to a warm, dry environment and medical attention by your veterinarian.

  • Hypothermia can result from extended exposure to cold and is a life-threatening condition. Watch your dog for signs of shivering, shallow breathing, weak pulse or lethargy.
  • Frostbite is a temperature related tissue injury and most commonly occurs on ears, tails, scrotum or feet. Signs include discolored skin (red, pale, or grayish) swelling, or blisters. Check your pet often for signs of frostbite which may be hidden beneath fur.

Cold-weather Chemicals

  • Antifreeze – Ethylene Glycol, car antifreeze, is a deadly poison and has a sweet taste that appeals to dogs. As little as 1-2 teaspoons can be lethal to a small animal. Clean up all spills and consider switching to a Propylene Glycol product that is safer.
  • Ice Melters – Salt and ice-melters can act as a skin irritant. Make sure to wash your pet’s feet off after coming indoors. Dogs with long fur and /or short legs should have their stomach areas cleaned off as well.

Winter Grooming

  • If you normally have your pet’s fur clipped or shaved, keep the length longer in winter to keep your dog warm.
  • Nails may require more frequent trimming since your dog is spending more time indoor on soft surfaces.
  • If you bathe your dog at home make sure he is completely dry before going out. You may even want to switch to a waterless shampoo for the winter.
  • Examine the pads of your dog’s feet for signs of cracking or irritation. A pet-specific foot balm will help condition the pads.

Cold-Weather Outings

  • Dogs with short coats or low body fat (Chihuahuas, Greyhounds, miniature Pinschers etc.) will benefit from a water-resistant sweater or coat when outdoor temperatures drop.
  • Boots are a good way to protect feet and pads from salt and chafing.
  • Keep your pet on a leash in cold weather – more dogs are lost in the winter than in any other season. Unleashed dogs may also run onto partially frozen bodies of water.
  • Limit the duration of your outdoor trips to minimize chance of frostbite or hypothermia.
  • Don’t let your dog eat snow. The snow may cause stomach upset or there may be hidden objects in the snow.

Special Considerations for Outdoor Dogs

  • You should bring your dogs inside for the winter if at all possible.
  • If bringing your dogs inside for the season is not possible your dogs must have warm, windproof shelter – preferably heated.
  • Dry, clean bedding is essential to keeping warm and straw or bedding needs replenished all winter season long.
  • Water & food can easily freeze. Use heated bowls to prevent freezing and make sure that the electrical cords are out of reach of your pets.
  • Outdoor dogs will burn more calories (up to 30%) and need extra food. Make sure that you are feeding additional rations during cold temperature.

Winter Training Tips

Basic obedience training and cold weather safety practices will allow you and your pet to enjoy winter weather conditions safely.

  • Make sure that your dog or puppy is comfortable with having their feet wiped & handled. Keep towels near the door and making foot-wiping part of your daily routine. Reward your pet for allowing you to examine the condition of pads, check for ice in between toes, and trim fur (if required.)
  • Obedience training for loose leash walking will make slippery walks safer for both pet and owner.
  • Commands like “leave it” can save a dog’s life when confronted with a pool of antifreeze or an unknown object in the snow.
  • Recall (coming when called) can keep a dog from running onto a partially frozen body of water or away from another winter hazard.

Additional Resources

How Does Diet Affect Behavior In Dogs?

Picky eaters, excessive barking, loose stools, gassy tummies, mood swings, restless sleep, hot spots, compulsive disorders, reactivity, aggression, hyperactivity, and biting can all be symptoms of a poor diet.

Obviously these guys don’t have a problem being picky!

Yet, until recently, the question of whether food can affect a dog’s behavior has been a long debated subject amongst behaviorists and trainers. Fortunately, there is more and more evidence and study to show that what you put into your dog, can and does have an influence on how your dog behaves—just like what you eat can top or topple your own moods.

To avoid nutritional pitfalls, take time to do your homework. Start your research with a close look at nutritional models for humans. This avenue can help you to learn about better food choices that positively influence how humans behave, and as you will see, points to affecting the way your dog behaves as well.

The Child Wisdom website has great information about how food affects human children. The following is noteworthy since many of the problems revealed here are the same problems routinely mentioned when counseling pet parents about their dog’s erratic behaviors: “Food Sensitivities/Allergies – Some people get depressed or behave irrationally after they eat (often unknowingly) something to which they are sensitive or allergic. This phenomenon, sometimes called a “brain allergy” has been widely reported and sometimes appears in patients who display mental health symptoms. True classic food allergies involve an antigen-antibody immune response (IgE-mediated) and are relatively rare. About 5% of children and about 2% of adults are reported to have these “true food allergies.” In contrast, food sensitivities, sometimes called food intolerances, are reported by almost 25% of Americans. Usually missed by traditional antibody blood tests, these food sensitivities are most often identified through elimination. (If a symptom disappears when all sources of a certain food are eliminated from the diet for several days and then reappears when that food is reintroduced, the symptom is likely to be related to sensitivity to that food.) Any food may cause a reaction, but the most commonly reported food sensitivities involve wheat gluten, dairy products, yeast, corn, eggs, soy, grapes, oranges, chocolate and synthetic food additives.”

Looking at human models can offer interesting comparisons; however, watching dogs in their natural habitats is truly reveling. As of late, the behavior community is trying to understand more about the innate behaviors of dogs, including their eating habits: Dogs scavenging in trash cans, dumps and other locations of “plenty” are all very common—not hunting, as was believed for many years. The small amount of hunting these feral dogs do is mostly comprised of catching lizards, small rodents and birds.

Dogs are classified as omnivores, eating both plant matter and meat, but based on field observations, scavengers might be the more fitting description of their dietary practices. It’s no wonder that dogs will eat just about anything you put in their bowls! Still, just because most dogs will eat whatever you put in their bowl, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for them— or nutritionally sound.

Feeding to behavioral health— what’s in your dog’s bowl?

As pet parents and providers, it’s important to give active thought to what you feed your dog, since different foods will lead to different results – not just medically but behaviorally as well.

According to many veterinarian and behavior experts, we are producing future generations of health and behavior problems for dogs by feeding overly processed, chemical and dye-laden commercial dog foods that appear wonderful to humans, but often have nutritional deficits and long-term toxic effects.

Part of this problem starts with the companies producing many of the popular name brands of food. In the January, 2003 issue, the Whole Dog Journal made this statement: “Mostly, the giant companies, corporate cousins to the human food manufacturing industry, serve (partially) to spin figurative gold out of the “straw” leftovers from the human food side. The human food processors use the good parts, and the food fragments that would otherwise be wasted are put to good use in pet foods. The result is a consistent, inexpensive, but not particularly healthy food that is readily available anywhere in the country.”

To further make the point, consider this: “The “whole grains” used in many dog foods have had the starch removed and the oil extracted (usually by chemical processing) for vegetable oil; or they are the hulls and other remnants from the milling process. If whole grains are used, they may have been deemed unfit for human consumption because of mold, contaminants, or poor storage practices” (The Allergy Solution for Dogs, Messonnier, D.V.M., p156)

Another problem is corn. Used as a protein source to save money in many popular foods, corn presents a completely different set of difficulties for dogs suffering from behavior issues, or stress related problems: “A common protein source in dog food is corn. Corn, however, is unusually low in tryptophan and represents some risk to animals sensitive to serotonergic under activity.” (The Canine Aggression Workbook, O’Heare 2000, p215)

Serotonin is what keeps dogs well balanced and helps to control moods, arousal, and sensitivities to pain, sounds and touch. It is also the major component in healthy sleep/awake cycles. An imbalance of serotonin can cause sleep problems which frequently exacerbate behavior problems during times when your dog is awake; thus making training or modification that much more difficult. Many behaviorists now recommend the complete elimination of corn in the diet because of this problem. It’s always better to start out with an even playing field to ensure that your dog’s diet is not creating any underlying problems that could make living with your dog more difficult.

How does Food Effect Behavior?

Author and behaviorist Bill Campbell (Behavior Problems in Dogs, 3rd Ed., 1999) believes that the high-carbohydrate, (junk carbs, not complex carbs) ingredients found in many commercial dog foods are directly related to problems such as hyperactivity and hypersensitivity to normal stimuli in everyday life. Campbell points to the fact that there has been little study done on dogs in this area, but that there is some procarbohydrate information to be found, even though it is a well-known fact that dogs do not need any grains at all to survive. Campbell discounts the studies by saying, “We must bear in mind that most of the studies you may have read on this subject, if not all of them, may have been funded by high-carbohydrate diet dog food manufactures” (Webtrail, April, 1999).

What we do know is how junk carbohydrates and junk food affects humans, and it doesn’t take much of a leap to believe that products affecting our behavior or moods, also affect dog behavior. According to Prevention Magazine, (September 2005; pg. 77), recent studies have linked together higher homicide rates and omega-6-fats. Omega- 6-fats are found in corn, safflower, soybean, cottonseed and sunflower oils. Murder rates were 20% higher in countries with the highest intakes of omega-6. It is believed that the “Western diet” may overwhelm omega-3’s which are known for their calming effects.”

Edmund R. Dorosz, BSA, DVM also believes that dog food can cause hyperactivity and unusual behavior patterns in dogs. In a NetPets article, he states: “We hear of many dogs today being allergic to meat. Beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and other meats are being fingered as the culprits. This is something hard to believe, for a species that has been carnivorous for millions of years to be now allergic to meat. Maybe it’s something in the meat or in the ‘complete and balanced’ diets that are foreign and new to our dogs that are causing the problem” (“Heredity and Environment – What Role Does Nutrition Play?”, 12/14/02).

What to do with this information?

So what’s a pet parent to do? The bags of food at pet stores and supermarkets look amazing, and they all claim to meet the nutritional needs for your dog. Many also claim to benefit the maintenance/health of different body types and specific groups such as large-breed puppies, overweight dogs, or senior canines. So which ones are telling the truth, and how do you choose the best possible food for your dog’s needs?

The most important data required to understanding dog food is to thoroughly read the labels. Dog food labels are similar to those on human food products: Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. The first three ingredients make up the bulk of the food, so those are the most important to look at when selecting a dog food brand.

Meat or a specific type of meat meal should always be the first ingredient on the label. Choose a product that identifies the type of meal; such as “chicken meal,” or “lamb meal,” as opposed to those that say “poultry or meat meal” which can contain just about anything that fits under that title, including road kill and diseased animals, as long as it’s a bird in the case of poultry, and any animal (domestic or otherwise) in the case of meat meal.

Falling into the meat meal category was the recent discovery of Phenobarbital (the drug used to euthanize animals) found in a number of commercially sold dog foods, including some popular “brand names.” It was suggested that the remains of euthanized domestic animals are rendered into animal feed – the likely source of the Phenobarbital. Phenobarbital is a hearty compound that is able to survive the cooking process, which is why, it was detectable in the tested food. Since there has been a recent uprise in the cat version of “Mad Cow’s Disease,” this may very well prove to be the case.

As your investigation continues, also look to make sure the first ingredient is not a meat by-product. By-products are not muscle meats, and can include leftover animal components such as lungs, kidneys, brain, spleen, liver, bone, blood, fatty tissue, stomach, and intestines freed of their contents. There are mixed feelings about the use of by-products in dog food, but the fact is, some dogs have trouble digesting these, and according to Ann Martin (Food Pets Die For, pg.2), “Livers can be infested with worms (liver flukes) or diseased with cirrhosis. Lungs can be filled with pneumonia. If an animal is diseased and declared unfit for human consumption, the carcass is acceptable for pet food.” Given there are many great foods that don’t include by-products, it might be best to shy away from those that do.

The next step in selecting a good food is to look at the type and amounts of grains listed on the label. Grains are usually used to keep production costs down, and while certain grains are beneficial to good health, others are known to cause allergies.

These higher grain contents will also mean you will need to feed more cups of food, since it takes a lot more grain than meat to reach the nutritional levels required to satisfy a dog’s needs. For this reason, you can actually end up spending more per cup for many of the “cheap” brands than the high-end foods, not to mention you will have an increase in the amount of bowel movement that could lead to housetraining problems or stress as your dog’s need to eliminate increases. If your dog does not have free access to his potty area, he may develop anxiety problems as he tries to “hold it,” so as not to have an accident in his crate or the house.

Vomatoxin which is a chemical compound produced by Fusriaum molds is another concern. These molds are found in the following grains: Wheat and wheat products, corn and corn products, peanut meal and peanut products (Aflotoxin), soybean meal and hulls, and cottonseed (Aflotoxin.) These mold spores can present a myriad of health (including death) and behavior problems if your dog develops an allergy to them.

In addition, carbohydrates act much like sugar. These high grain-content foods produce excessive energy for about two hours after being ingested by the dog; which is illustrated in the same way athletes “carb up” for an energy boost before they need to perform. The high-carbohydrate dog foods do the same thing to your dog, except most people do not provide their canines with the right combination of mental and physical exercise necessary to work off all that energy. The results of all that energy is often destruction to your home or yard or other behaviors such as rough play and biting.

Behaviorally speaking, everything from housetraining problems to self-mutilation can be linked to poor quality foods, and some of these behaviors directly point to the preservatives, additives and dyes used in kibble. The health considerations of these compounds are plentiful and can lead to a dog displaying his discomfort behaviorally. The chemicals most often associated with cancer and other toxic-driven diseases are the preservatives found in many dog foods. BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene) and Ethoxyquin are all known carcinogens and, by regulation, are disallowed in human food but preserve many dog foods and dog treats. If you see these ingredients listed on the bag, put the bag back on the shelf and keep looking.

It is far better to look for a food that preserves with natural ingredients. Some natural alternatives are composed of topherols (vitamin E), citric or ascorbic acid (vitamin C), or a combination of the two. In addition, look for the bags that have manufactured dates on the bag, as this ensures freshness, since food preserved with products that are more natural will not have as long of a shelf life.

Those foods designed for specific age, weight or body-types also seem like a wonderful idea, but feeding a high-end food eliminates the need to buy these specialty products that are often higher priced. These manufactures simply add more supplements (that have been processed and preserved along with the food) in order to make their specialty claims. It is far better to add your own supplements with recommendations from your veterinarian or health-care advisor.

How and when to feed:

When to feed your dog is just as important as what you feed.

The ideal regimen is to feed an adult dog two to three times per day. Glucose levels are greatly affected by food (the same as in humans), so it is important to feed regularly to prevent these levels from becoming erratic as they increase and decrease respectively for those dogs that only eat once a day, or nibbles his food at will without access to expend the on-going energy made available by snacking all day.

As a real bonus for your dog, try feeding in food carrier toys such as Kongs, or Buster Cubes as a way to provide mental and physical exercise (much like dogs in the wild, working to find their food). These are great for those dogs that like to take their time eating. These “food puzzles” will also help slow down those dogs that “vacuum” their food from the bowl in 30 seconds and then have nothing to look forward to the rest of the day.

In conclusion:

Whether it is dry kibble, canned, raw, freeze-dried, or a combination of these, it is essential to do your homework when choosing food for your dog. Try different brands and find several your dog likes so you can switch around since there is now more evidence that it’s healthier to change between several brands of food rather than feed the same for a dog’s lifetime.

The bottom line is…look at the bottom line! Read the ingredients and feed your dog healthy foods to achieve good mental and physical health for the duration of your dog’s life.

Guide to Good Foods:

The Whole Dog Journal (which does not accept any advertising) conducts an annual study of dry dog food brands. They have strict criteria that must be met to be included on the list.

      Here are some of the brands that have made the Whole Dog Journal’s list of recommended brands for several years running:

    • California Natural

  • Canidae
  • Blue Buffalo
  • Paul Newman’s 2nd Generation
  • Flint River Ranch Dry Water (Mail Order)
  • Solid Gold (San Diego based company)
  • Merrick Pet Care–Cowboy Cookout
  • Fromm Four Star Nutritionals
  • By Nature Organics
  • Nature’s Variety
  • Natural Balance Dry Dog Food
  • Innova
  • Raw Instinct (grain free)
  • Wellness
  • Wysong

There are also many great raw diets that are conveniently freeze-dried and packaged.

      Some of the brands on the Whole Dog Journal’s


    “Not Recommended” list are:

  • Diamond’s Premium
  • Eukanuba Adult
  • Iams
  • Nature’s Recipe
  • Nutro Max
  • Purina One
  • Beneful
  • Science Diet
  • Pedigree Prime


» Dogs, a New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution, by Ray and Loren Coppinger

» Dog Food Comparison Website — what’s in your current dog food —

» Food Pets Die For, by Ann Martin Prevention Magazine –

» The Allergy Solution for Dogs, by Messonnier, D.V.M

» Whole Dog Journal – for information

Ten Tips For Feeding Pets Thanksgiving Leftovers

With the holidays approaching, your dog or cat will inevitably be begging to partake in the big turkey dinner. When polled, 56 percent of petMD readers admitted to sharing Thanksgiving table scraps with their pets. While this can be a wonderful way to add lean protein and fresh veggies to your pet’s diet, there are also hidden dangers in holiday fare. This year, before preparing a heaping plateful for your pet, consult a vet and consider these 10 tips to keep Thanksgiving a safe, healthful holiday for your dog or cat.

#10 Yes to Turkey

Turkey can be a wonderful lean protein to share with your pet. You will just want to be sure to remove any excess skin or fat, stick with white meat, and make sure there are no bones.

#9 No to Alliums

Nothing with alliums (i.e., onions, garlic, leeks, scallions) should be ingested by your pet. While it is true that small, well-cooked portions of these foods can be okay if your pet is used to it, ingesting these foods in large quantities can lead to toxic anemia.

#8 Yes to Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes are a great, filling vegetable to share with your pet. However even though the potatoes themselves are not harmful to pets, be aware of additional ingredients used to make mashed potatoes. Cheese, sour cream, butter, onions, and gravies are no-no’s in a pet’s diet.

#7 No to Grapes

Many people are unaware that grapes, and subsequently raisins, can be toxic to pets. The fruit has been shown to cause kidney failure in dogs.

#6 Yes to Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is just fine for pets but watch the amount of sugar in it. It is probably best to only provide a small helping to your pet’s plate.

#5 No to Xylitol

While you may be making the healthier choice by cooking with artificial sweeteners over the real thing, sweeteners containing Xylitol are poisonous to animals, and potentially deadly to dogs.

#4 Yes to Macaroni and Cheese

If you know your pet’s stomach handles dairy alright, macaroni and cheese is a safe leftover to share. If you are unsure though, it may be best to just give plain macaroni. Cats often develop lactose intolerance when they become adults.

#3 No to Chocolate

Chocolate is a well known off limits indulgence for pets. During the holidays however, baking chocolate is used in recipes and sometimes forgotten about by the time the dishes hit the table. Make sure this holiday season that your pet does not ingest any chocolate, especially the baking kind.

#2 Yes to Green Beans

Plain green beans are a wonderful treat for pets. Fresh vegetables are a great addition to any diet. If the green beans are included in a green bean casserole though, be conscious of the other ingredients in it.

#1 No to Alcohol

Alcohol is definitely a big no for pets. What we people may consider a small amount can be toxic for a smaller animal. Also, keep in mind that alcohol poisoning can occur in pets from atypical items like fruit cake (the recipe may have called for rum or other liquor), as well as unbaked bread.

With all of the possible dangers of letting your pet eat food from the table sometimes it’s just a better idea to give them their own treat so that you can be sure what you’re giving them is safe. Furrever Friends Gourmet Pet Treats Company makes Thanksgiving Dinners for dogs that look and taste like real turkey dinners but are 100% safe for the dogs to eat. Reasonably priced, these treats are a delicious treat for your dog and would make a pawtastic gift for your pups best friend or any other dog that you know. Order yours today at Misty Pines to make sure you don’t miss out!

Pressure Sores AKA Calluses

“Pressure sores,” also called decubital ulcers, are abnormal areas on or under the skin over bony pressure points. They include calluses, which are thickened, wrinkled, hairless areas of skin, and hygromas, which are soft, usually painless, fluid-filled sacs under the skin. Pressure sores are caused by force, friction or trauma to a dog’s skin and subcutaneous tissues, usually as a result of lying on hard surfaces, such as cement, for long periods of time. They are especially prevalent in large, heavy breeds. Prolonged pressure on areas where bone and skin are thinly separated reduces blood supply to the area, causing tissue damage. The elbow is frequently affected, although pressure sores can develop on the hips, hocks and sides of the hind legs. These sores can be painful. Dogs often lick relentlessly at pressure sores, which then abscess, ulcerate and become a raw weeping wound.

Causes of Pressure Sores

Pressure sores are almost always caused by chronic trauma to a dog’s skin and subcutaneous tissue as a result of lying on hard surfaces for prolonged periods of time. Pressure sores are common in domestic dogs, especially in large, heavy or giant-breed dogs and those that are kenneled on cement floors without soft, well-padded bedding. Long-term pressure on an area of the body where the bone and skin are thinly separated compresses the blood vessels and decreases the blood supply to the area, which in turn causes tissue damage and, ultimately, tissue death (necrosis), calluses and hygromas. The elbow is probably the most common site of pressure sores, although they also frequently occur on the hips, hocks and sides of the legs.

Prevention of Pressure Sores

The best way to prevent pressure sores is to provide dogs with lofty, well-padded bedding in all areas where they regularly rest. Dogs that are recumbent for medical reasons are especially at risk of developing pressure sores. They should be given very soft, thick, well-padded beds to lie on; egg crate foam, thick foam rubber, waterbeds or inflatable airbeds are all good options. Recumbent dogs should be physically turned (have their position changed) every 2 to 3 hours, to prevent concentrated pressure on their elbows, hocks, hips and other thin-skinned bony areas. Massage, hydrotherapy and other forms of physical therapy can be helpful by stimulating blood circulation to affected sites.

Special Notes

Pressure sores are common in companion dogs. The highest incidence is seen in large and giant breeds and dogs who are crated or otherwise forced to lie down for extended periods of time.

How Pressure Sores are Diagnosed

Pressure sores are not difficult to diagnose. They are not a “disease” or a “medical disorder,” but rather are a physical skin and subcutaneous tissue condition caused by pressure, friction and trauma. They are, basically, a “sore.”

A thorough history and physical examination are the most important tools in diagnosing pressure sores. The diagnosis is usually made based upon clinical observations and upon the owner’s explanation of the environment and surfaces upon which the dog lies. If the pressure sore is ulcerated or infected, the attending veterinarian probably will take samples of the oozing exudate with a sterile cotton swab, and then will submit the samples to a diagnostic laboratory for microscopic examination and culture. Skin biopsies may also be taken for diagnostic examination, depending upon the location and appearance of lesions in the particular patient. Biopsies are important to distinguish pressure sores from potential cancerous masses. In the uncommon case where involvement of bone is suspected, radiographs (X-rays) of the affected area may be recommended.

Special Notes

Pressure sores can be very frustrating to owners of affected dogs. The best way to deal with them is to provide well-padded bedding everywhere that the dog tends to rest, to relieve pressure on its elbows, hocks, hips or other bony pressure points.

Symptoms of Pressure Sores

Pressure sores are visibly obvious. The most common site is on the elbows, but they also can occur on the hips, hocks, chest (sternum), side of the legs or anywhere else on the body. Owners of dogs with pressure sores may not notice the condition until the sores actually break open and ulcerate, or until their dogs are chronically licking at the affected site. Owners may notice one or more of the following signs of pressure sores in their dogs:

  • Hairless, wrinkled, hyperpigmented (red-to-purple) pad of thickened skin over a bony pressure point
  • Fluid-filled area over a bony prominence
  • Ulcer, abscess or weeping wound over a bony prominence
  • Lameness
  • Licking at the affected area (often accompanied by stained hair coat at the site of the sore)

Dogs at Increased Risk

Any dog, of any breed or mixed breed and of either gender, can develop pressure sores. However, they are most common in large and giant-breed dogs – such as the Mastiff, Cane Corso, Irish Wolfhound, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever and other large breeds – because their weight and size are disproportionately concentrated on bony pressure points, especially their elbows and hocks, when they are lying down. Dogs with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop infections at the sites of pressure sores. Dogs that lie down (are recumbent) for prolonged periods of time – especially if they are housed on hard surfaces without soft bedding – have an increased risk of developing pressure sores. Malnourished and emaciated dogs also are predisposed to developing pressure sores, because they lack the normal tissue “padding” around their elbows, hocks and other bony areas.

Treatment Options

It is imperative that dogs with pressure sores be provided with well-padded, thick, soft sleeping surfaces at all times, to prevent further trauma. This may be all that is needed to decrease the size of the pressure sores and prevent their progression. There are many commercially available dog beds, mattresses and fabric-covered foam pads that will take the pressure off of bony prominences when a dog is resting or sleeping. If a pressure sore is not infected, adding soft bedding to the dog’s living environment – and observing the dog when it is lying down or resting – are probably all that is necessary to manage the condition. The site of the pressure sore should be wrapped with a padded bandage to prevent further trauma to the area as it heals. Moisturizers, aloe lotions or antibiotic ointments or gels can be applied to the affected area to soften the rough skin and provide some relief from discomfort. The area should be bandaged after these substances are applied, to reduce the risk of secondary bacterial infections developing in the moist environment.

If pressure sores become infected, the veterinarian will need to inspect the site more carefully. He probably will take a sample of the oozing exudates on a cotton swab and submit it to a diagnostic laboratory for culture and sensitivity, to identify the precise microorganisms that are responsible for the infection. Long-term antibiotic treatment, both orally and topically, is usually recommended to treat infected pressure sores. A typical course of oral antibiotic treatment is 4 to 6 weeks, at a minimum.

Dogs with hygromas – fluid-filled sacs over areas of pressure, also called bursas – may be treated by draining and flushing the lesion. If caught early, this can be accomplished by needle aspiration, which basically involves inserting a needle into the hygroma and extracting its fluid contents into an attached syringe by pulling on the plunger. The fluid inside hygromas usually is clear or yellowish-to-red. The aspiration site should be well-padded and bandaged after this procedure. However, unless the underlying cause of the hygroma is resolved, most of them will return after being drained by a veterinarian.

Surgical excision (removal) of calluses or hygromas is usually not recommended. Laser therapy may be helpful for small pressure sores, although this treatment is not yet widely available. Pressure sores with extensive ulceration may require surgical skin grafts. Some authorities report that slathering the sores with raw honey or wound-healing creams may accelerate healing.

All pressure sores should be cleaned daily with an antiseptic solution, which the attending veterinarian can recommend. This often is a chlorhexidine solution.


Unfortunately, because of their location on areas where bone and skin are in close proximity and where constant friction is present, pressure sores can be difficult to treat. Most calluses can be controlled by consistently providing appropriate lofty bedding, although it can take a long time for calluses to go away once they have developed, despite well-padded bedding. Fluid-filled hygromas often require more invasive techniques, such as surgical drains, to resolve them.

Remember that Misty Pines has Mutt Mats and Sherpa Beds that will work alone or in conjunction with a Kuranda bed for the ultimate in comfort to keep those sensitive areas soft and supple. The image shown below is a vizsla in our boarding area lying on a Kuranda bed covered with a sherpa pad.

vizla on kuranda bed with sherpa mat in a kennel at Misty Pines


Upcoming Specialty Classes

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Sat 25


March 25 @ 8:00 am - 9:00 am
Sat 25

Reliable Retrieve 101

March 25 @ 11:15 am - 12:00 pm
Sun 26

Conformation 101: Beginner Handling

March 26 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Sun 26

Conformation 102: Open Handling

March 26 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm