Safe Pain Relief for Dogs

Pain Relief for Dogs

Watching your dog suffer in pain can be really difficult. You want to figure out what is wrong and how you can help them as soon as you can. There are some ways to help alleviate your pet’s pain and work with them towards recovery in the comfort of their own home. (However, sometimes medication and treatment are needed.)

Keep reading to learn more about pain relief for dogs and how to make your pet as comfortable as possible.

What Are Common Causes of Pain in Dogs?

Dogs might exhibit signs of pain for a variety of reasons. Some dogs have even been known to fake being hurt to get extra love and attention (not to say that your pet would ever do that, but it’s a possibility).

Dogs are always running around and bumping into things; your pet could likely give themself a minor injury during their everyday goofy lifestyle. Anything can happen at any point in a dog’s life. Only you know what kind of trouble your pup can get into, so you have to be prepared for little hiccups along the way.

Some causes of pain that your dog might experience are:


Your dog could get a splinter from your hardwood floors, bump their head on the corner of a table and get a cut and bruise, scrape their bellies on concrete or rock as they try to jump over an obstruction in their way… the list could go on and on. And each dog is unique, so their injuries could be all over the place.


Your dog could have an infection somewhere on or in their body that could be causing them pain, whether it’s an ear infection or a bladder infection. The best way to determine if your dog has an infection of some sort is to get testing done by your veterinarian.

Digestive Issues

If your dog has a blockage in their stomach and they are having difficulty using the bathroom, it can also be very painful. It might be due to issues like ulcers.

Otherwise, different foods or things they consume might be causing stomach pain that’s not related to blockage, but rather the ingredients.


Another reason your dog might be experiencing chronic pain is if they are becoming an older dog and beginning to feel the effects of aging due to conditions like osteoarthritis. Their bodies might become tired and sore quickly, and they might not have the same energy or stamina.

Possible Signs That Your Dog Is in Pain

You know your dog best. If there is any significant change in their behavior, you will pick up on it. Some signs that your dog is experiencing pain are:

  • Increased vocalizations
  • Anti-social behavior
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Increased licking of the spot
  • Stiffness
  • Limping
  • Reluctance to walk or play
  • Increase panting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Restlessness

Safe Methods To Help Your Dog in Pain

While waiting for your pup to be evaluated in person, keeping your dog confined to a small room or crate is usually the most effective form of pain control.

It’s hard to tell your pet to settle down, so if they try to be active, they need to be kept confined. It’s the easiest way for them to avoid overdoing it and injuring themselves further.

1. Restrict Movement

Dogs should only be taken outside on a leash to prevent them from excitedly chasing animals and people and walk only long enough to use the bathroom before coming right back inside.

As much as we know you want to see your pet play, it’s best to follow the doctor’s orders and keep them calm. As soon as your vet gives you the go-ahead to take them on short walks, you can! But still, prepare for them to be extra excited.

2. Wear the Cone If Recommend

Once evaluated, your pet might be sent home with the “cone of shame.” While they might be displeased, it will help you tremendously if they keep it on as per the doc’s orders. This will keep your pet from irritating their injury, playing too hard, and getting into things they shouldn’t.

3. Cold Compress

Sometimes, an injured area becomes swollen, and it is obvious what part of the body is painful. In these cases, a cold compress may be your pet’s best friend. Place some ice cubes in a baggie, wrap it in a light towel, and hold it gently to the painful area for ten minutes at a time. This can help numb any pain and decrease inflammation.

4. Warm Compress

In some cases, a warm compress may provide more relief than a cold compress. For a warm compress, simply microwave a damp washcloth until it is comfortably warm. (You can test it on the inside of your wrist, just like a baby bottle.)

Place it in a baggie to keep your pet dry, and wrap it in a light towel before gently placing it on the sore area.

5. Physical Therapy

Just like people have physical therapists, dogs do too. These restorative sessions are led by a Canine Rehabilitation Therapist who has been specifically trained in improving pet health.

Common techniques involve the underwater treadmill, a tool often recommended for dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia, and neurological injuries. Sometimes, this modality is combined with acupuncture.

What Are the Best Pain Medications for Dogs?

If your dog is in pain and you bring them to the vet, they might prescribe pain medication to help ease their discomfort.

Here are some bottles you might come home with:

Doggy NSAIDs

NSAIDs are Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs that interfere with the body’s production of inflammatory molecules that trigger mild to moderate pain levels. These drugs should always be prescribed because there is potential for problems related to the stomach, liver, kidney, and intestines.

NSAIDs can be used in the short term to control the symptoms of arthritis, joint pain, or after surgery.

If you think that your dog might be having adverse effects from the NSAID they were prescribed, look out for the signs of BEST:

  • Behavior changes
  • Eating less
  • Skin redness, scabs
  • Tarry stool/diarrhea/vomiting

Pet Health Supplements

Supplements aren’t something that will solve your pain within an hour. However, some supplements like those with Omega 3 fatty acids, turmeric, or glucosamine can boost your dog’s immunity.

Some supplements have anti-inflammatory properties (like joint supplements), which can provide natural pain relief as they build up and protect you in the long run. Starting your dogs on supplements geared towards helping their specific pain can bring relief to them over time. Make sure to check in with your vet about the supplements you research.

What Other Medications Can I Give My Dog for Pain?

If your dog is prescribed an NSAID, they likely won’t need any other painkillers, but their DVM might prescribe a few other kinds of medication. Two common drugs to be prescribed are gabapentin and tramadol. Other popular options include: deracoxib (Deramaxx), firocoxib (Previcox), and Metacam.

Gabapentin treats pain from damaged nerves and might make your dog feel a little drowsy. This is usually prescribed along with other medications.

Tramadol is a painkiller that partly works like an opioid medication. This is usually given to pets with high anxiety or constant pain. Especially as a pet ages, this is more likely to be prescribed to help with the discomfort.

Can I Give My Dog Human Pain Medication?

Dogs should never receive human pain medication. Unfortunately, there are no safe over-the-counter medications that you can give your dog. In fact, most human pain medications are toxic to pets—and, in some cases, can even cause kidney failure and liver toxicity.

These human pain reliever medications include (but are not limited to) aspirin, Advil, Aleve/naproxen, ibuprofen, and Tylenol/acetaminophen. Dogs process drugs differently than people (and different from each other!), which can cause unwanted side effects, so stick with the pain medication that your veterinarian prescribes.

Can Dogs Take Benadryl or Antihistamines?

You may be tempted to reach for some Benadryl to help relieve your itching, and you might have heard that it works on pets. Although Benadryl is generally safe in dogs (at a very different dose than used for people), it is only effective for itching in less than half of all dogs.

Other over-the-counter antihistamines are safe for dogs and may be more effective. Even though they still don’t work as well as prescription medications, sometimes they can help just enough to give your pet comfort until their vet visit.

If your dog has repeated episodes of itchy skin, ask your family veterinarian for a dosage of an over-the-counter antihistamine that is safe for your pet to have for future flare-ups. Write down the drug name, tablet size, and dosage, as well as the date your vet made the recommendation, and place it in your medicine cabinet for future reference.

Knowing how much Benadryl is safe to give your pet in case of a severe allergic reaction is always good information to have—so make sure to ask your vet about Benadryl, too.

If your vet gives you the go-ahead for one type of medication, always stick to that. Opting for a “non-drowsy” or another seemingly-similar version can be dangerous to your pup.

The Support You Need, Whenever You Want

You won’t always have the answers about your dog’s health and wellness when you need them, but with AskVet, it’s a whole lot easier to get them. You can have access to 24/7 care from AskVet’s highly trained Certified Pet Lifestyle Coaches™, who can work with your dog’s specific needs.

When you sign up for an AskVet membership you can reach a veterinary professionals ask any question about your pet that you might have, as well as set up a plan to best take care of them. Schedule an appointment on the website with a coach who can answer any questions and guide you through a personalized plan for your pet. With t24/7 veterinary support, coaching sessions, and complimentary One Pet ID tag, pet parenthood has never been easier!



Pain and Problem Behavior in Cats and Dogs | NCBI

Treating Pain in Your Dog | FDA

2015 AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats* | American Animal Hospital Association

Physical Rehabilitation | Calabasas Animal Clinic

4 Reasons Your Dog Isn’t Eating & Possible Solutions

4 Reasons Your Dog Isn’t Eating & Possible Solutions

Is your dog always hungry? Do they act like they haven’t had a meal in days when it was breakfast just a few hours ago? If you live with others, do you have to give each other a heads up when you feed your dog lunch because your dog is giving a master class in acting sorrowful?

If your furry buddy’s appetite resembles a trash compactor, it can be concerning when they are not eating at their usual fast pace. In fact, they may not want to eat at all, which will definitely raise some red flags.

There can be several reasons your dog’s appetite is waning. Let’s discuss those possible reasons and possible solutions to help your dog get their appetite back.

Reason 1. Possible Blockage

This can be a scary reason for your dog not eating. If your dog is a regular at getting into things they shouldn’t, the possibility of them ingesting something that has blocked their digestive system can be high. Your dog may have ingested clothing like undies, socks, toys, or trash. You may (or may not) be surprised at what your dog may have ingested.

If your dog has ingested a foreign object that has now formed a blockage in their digestive system, your dog will likely not have an appetite. This might not be your first guess unless you saw your dog ingest something they shouldn’t. You may also notice that something is amiss — like a dish towel you know you placed on the counter.

Your dog may also have some additional symptoms if they are experiencing a blockage due to a foreign object. Additional symptoms may include:

  • Nausea/upset stomach
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Wincing or yelping when the abdomen is palpated
  • Not wanting to drink

A Possible Solution

If you suspect that your dog has ingested a foreign object that is now blocking their system, it is important to take your dog to the veterinarian right away. This constitutes an emergency as a blockage can be detrimental to your pup’s health.

Blockages prevent food and water from reaching the rest of your dog’s digestive system to nourish and hydrate their body. If a blockage is severe enough, it may also affect the blood flow in your dog’s body. The earlier the treatment, the better.

Your veterinarian will likely do an X-ray or an ultrasound to see if they can spot the blockage and determine what it is. They may also use a tiny camera passed through your dog’s mouth and down their throat to see if they can spot the blockage. Then, your vet might be able to determine the next steps depending on the blockage’s progression through the digestive tract or what the blockage actually consists of.

After all the factors are considered, your veterinarian may be able to remove the blockage by performing an endoscopy. They could use a tool threaded through a tube going down your dog’s throat to grab the object and pull it through their mouth. If the object is in their intestines, your veterinarian may need to remove the object surgically.

After it’s removed, your dog will be monitored to ensure that they are recovering as expected. They will need to take things slowly, and your veterinarian may recommend a special diet as their digestive system recovers.

Reason 2. Dental Issues

If your typically ravenous eater isn’t eating, check their teeth. If you have ever had a toothache, you know firsthand that the pain is not fun. Since our dogs are good at pretending they are not in pain, this dental problem may have been going on for some time before they show discomfort.

If you notice that your dog is leaving kibble behind, try to catch them in the act of eating later on. If they favor one side of their mouth or take smaller mouthfuls, they may be trying to avoid a certain area in their mouth. If your dog doesn’t let you feel their muzzle, they could possibly have a toothache. Dental disease is a common reason why a seemingly healthy dog might turn into a picky eater.

If your dog will allow you to take a look at their pearly whites, check for any signs of redness or inflammation. Excessive drooling is another sign of a toothache, as well as constantly licking their lips.

A Possible Solution

Suspected dental pain is a definite vet visit. If your dog shows signs of a toothache, it might have progressed and calls for a tooth extraction. The last thing we would also want is for a dog’s tooth to be infected and abscess. This is a very painful thing for your dog to go through, and the resulting infection can also spread to the rest of your dog’s body.

When it comes to anything dental, proactive prevention is the best medicine. Creating and maintaining a consistent dental routine for your dog keeps their teeth looking fresh and prevents tartar from developing into plaque. It also keeps that bad dog breath at bay!

Outside of dental issues, a few other health problems could be possible causes.

These could possibly include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatitis

Reason 3. Pickiness

As pet parents, we can all be guilty of feeding our dogs a little human food now and again. It takes a person of unimaginable strength to look into those big puppy eyes and turn away in refusal. As long as the piece is small and is safe for dogs, it is a nice treat to give every once in a while.

However, giving our dog too many table scraps can not only be harmful to our dog’s health and waistline but can create a “refined” palate in our dog. If your dog looks at their kibble in disgust and tries to get morsels from you, they may be trying to save room for your dinner. Instead of training your dog, it seems like they may have trained you.

People food is too rich for our dog’s digestive systems and can lead to weight concerns. It also encourages unwanted behavior in our dogs, like begging, as they are now encouraged to hang around and bet at mealtimes.

The same can be said for dog treats. It’s possible that your dog’s loss of appetite has more to do with their desire to eat treats than their vet-approved pet food.

Another long-term habit that can have untinted side effects is hand-feeding. Your pup might grow to like being waited on hand and paw too much and refuse to dine from their dog bowl.

A Possible Solution

A strong will is required to revert your pooch back to their dog food. It also takes patience and dedication to retrain them to want their kibble. Making your dog’s dry food more palatable is a great first step in changing the focus of their appetite from your plate back to theirs.

You can add beef or chicken broth to their kibble for extra flavor, as well as to soften up the kibble bits. Ensure the broth doesn’t contain any extra seasonings as they can be toxic to your dog. You can also mix in a little wet food or some vegetables. Sometimes even a little warm water can make the dish more enticing for a fussy eater.

Stay strong and don’t allow your dog to have any people-food, or extra treats, during this time.

If your dog’s eating habits don’t improve, it might be time to introduce a new food. It doesn’t even need to be canned food. After all, variety is the spice of life, and your furry family member might want to change the menu.

Reason 4. Stress

Have you ever realized that you haven’t eaten all day when you have had a busy or especially stressful day? It can be easy to forget to have a meal whenever your emotions are not at their norm.

If you notice your dog has not been touching their food, think about any big life events or changes in your dog’s routine. If there have been any big changes, your dog may be experiencing stress that is affecting their appetite.

A big stressor may be anxiety brought on by separation. This may be more common as we start to return to the office as the pandemic (knock on wood!) wanes down. While we were social distancing, our dogs loved that we were always home. Now that we are going back to work in-person, our dogs may miss us and feel worried when we are not by their side.

A big move or an addition to the family, either a new baby or new pet, may also make your dog feel a little extra anxious and not want to visit their food bowl as often. Rescue dogs or dogs in new homes might also feel less than hungry. If possible, try to keep them on the old food they ate before moving in with you to normalize their routine.

A Possible Solution

If you know that your dog is prone to separation anxiety, or if you are trying to prevent it from occurring, a little proactive planning will help your dog stay calm, collected, and still eating throughout the day.

If you have a pending back-to-office date, practice leaving the house for extended periods. Get your keys and depart in your car, only taking a short trip around the block and returning. Your dog will be comforted that you came back, and then you can start gradually leaving the house for longer stretches of time.

Once you leave for longer periods, you can give your dog a puzzle or treat toy to keep them occupied. Filling treats with healthy peanut butter or cheese spread will keep your furry buddy so busy they won’t even notice you’re gone!

Doggy cameras are great pieces of technology to have as well! You can peek in on your dog from time to time and even give them a little shout-out and treat. Providing your dog plenty of opportunities for physical activity can help ensure they are nice and worn out before you leave the house.

If you sense that your dog is still a little anxious, crate training can be effective. You are giving your dog their own space to rest and feel comforted. Try putting an article of worn clothing into your dog’s crate so they can smell your scent and feel comforted.

AskVet – A Solution You Can Count On

As pet parents, we may worry about our fur babies — they are family, after all. We may over-analyze every behavior thinking that something is going on with our favorite buddy.

While some concerns may not warrant a visit to the veterinarian, we still would like someone knowledgeable to speak with about our pet concerns.

If you’re looking for support, become a member of AskVet to discuss a nutrition plan or the underlying reason for your dog’s loss of appetite. Our CPLCs are available 24/7 to advise pet parents on all manners of care, wellness, nutrition, and lifestyle.

Our Certified Pet Lifestyle Coaches™ create Personalized Pet Plans and help you track their progress. From dogs to fish to cats to hamsters and all other non-human members of your family, AskVet is here to help your best friend live their best life every day.



Intestinal Blockages In Dogs: Causes & Treatment | New Ulm Vet

Know the Signs of Tooth Discomfort in Your Pet | Reed Animal Hospital

Behavioral Problems of Dogs | Merck Vet Manual

Possible Reasons Your Cat Has Dandruff & Some Solutions

Possible Reasons Your Cat Has Dandruff & Some Solutions

If you’re the pet parent of a furry feline, you know that cats are mostly self-sufficient when it comes to grooming. Although cats bathe and groom themselves, sometimes their diligent grooming isn’t enough, and they may develop some health issues.

One of these potential problems is cat dandruff. Not to worry — there are things you can do to recognize this problem and ensure that their health is maintained.

Continue reading to learn about what causes cat dandruff and a few possible treatments and solutions.

What Is Cat Dandruff?

Cat dandruff is similar to human dandruff. It is a condition that causes your cat’s skin to flake and become dry, which can be uncomfortable for them. This is normal when it occurs in small amounts, but large amounts of dandruff may require treatment as it could be a sign of underlying health issues.

Let’s talk about the potential causes of dandruff and some health issues it could indicate.

Why Does My Cat Have Dandruff?

Many factors can cause dandruff, ranging from the quality of your cat’s diet to skin infections. The treatment of your cat’s dandruff will vary based on the cause and severity.

Here are a few things that might be causing your cat’s dandruff:


Obesity can inhibit your cat’s ability to groom themselves, leading to a build-up of dandruff in certain areas of their body.


If your cat has arthritis, they may be uncomfortable, and avoid grooming. The decline in their usual grooming habits could increase the likelihood of dandruff. In this case, as with any other underlying condition, the dandruff should improve once the arthritis is treated.


Additionally, skin and fungal infections can play a role in developing dandruff as they cause trauma to your cat’s skin. The treatment of these infections will differ based on the type of infection, but treating the infection should resolve the dandruff.

External Parasites and the Cheyletiella Mite

External parasites can cause dandruff by feeding off of skin cells. Most parasites can be managed with flea treatments, but there is one particular parasite you should be wary of.

The Cheyletiella mite is contagious and can result in skin irritation as well as hair loss and sores if your cat reacts by scratching or over-grooming to soothe themselves. It is also referred to as Cheyletiellosis or walking dandruff because the mites move along the skin.


If the air in your home is dry, it could be taking the moisture out of your cat’s skin. This can cause dandruff and worsen dandruff that may already be present.


Your cat’s diet can affect skin and coat health drastically. Certain deficiencies in their diet can lead to dandruff, but there are changes to their food that you can make to prevent it.

Possible Solutions for Cat Dandruff

If your cat has dandruff, it is best to discuss options with your vet before attempting to treat it. They can help you determine the condition’s source and guide your cat back to their normal, happy self.

Here are a few things your vet might suggest:

Use a Humidifier

Using a humidifier in your home can add moisture to the air, reducing the chances of dandruff.

Keep Them Hydrated

Increasing your cat’s water consumption could also help. One way to do this is by adjusting their diet to include wet food. You could also purchase a drinking fountain as some cats prefer running water over a water bowl.

Try Topical Products

Topical products such as sprays and shampoos can assist in moisturizing your cat’s skin. It is essential to only use products meant for animals, as products meant for humans could contain chemicals and other ingredients that may be harmful to your cat.

Help With Grooming

If they are struggling to groom themselves, brushing your cat on a regular basis can remove dandruff while spreading the skin’s natural oils. This can be relaxing for them as it massages the skin and supports blood flow.

Flea Treatment

If external parasites such as fleas are the cause, your vet might recommend a form of flea and tick treatment to get rid of the pests. Talk to your vet to find the best option for your cat.

Weight Loss

If obesity is the main factor in their dandruff, your vet may suggest steps to help your cat lose weight. This could include changes to their diet or incorporating exercise into their routine. Consult your DVM before making these adjustments, as your cat’s age and breed are important factors in their ideal body weight.

Weight Loss Basics

There are several changes you can make to your cat’s lifestyle to help them lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.

Some possible solutions include:

  • Use an automatic feeder: Automatic feeders measure and release a preset amount of food every day, which can help prevent overeating.
  • Increase playtime: Adding play to their daily routine can help burn calories naturally. Try a variety of different toys to keep things interesting.
  • Use treat toys: Treat toys are another way to stimulate physical activity. This forces your cat to exercise in order to get treats, keeping them distracted as they gradually lose weight.
  • Go for walks: If your cat enjoys being outside, you might want to take them on walks. It is safest to use a harness and leash instead of a collar. Using treats as an incentive while they get used to the leash can make leash training easier and more enjoyable.
  • Adjust their feeding schedule: Feeding them once a day may increase overeating, as they could become more hungry throughout the day afterward. Rather than having one specific feeding time, try separating their normal amount of food into smaller meals and feeding them multiple times per day.
  • Move their litter box and bowls: For cats who aren’t inclined to spend time outdoors, changing the location of their bowls and litter box frequently encourages movement as they have to search for them daily.

Other Solutions

While you should always talk to your vet before making changes to your cat’s lifestyle, there are several products and treatments you can use at home once your vet determines the source of your cat’s dandruff.

Let’s talk about a few of them:

Flea Treatments

You can choose which flea treatment to use based on what your cat might be most comfortable with. Some treatments are topical products that are applied directly to the skin, while other treatments come in the form of oral tablets or flea prevention collars.

Here are a few options:

  • Flea prevention collar: Collars such as this one can be an easy way to treat and prevent fleas.
  • Chewable tablets: Oral flea preventatives are a great option if your cat is comfortable with taking medications by mouth.
  • Topical flea treatments: Topical flea treatments can be effective as long as they are applied to an area of the body where the cat won’t remove the medicine from their fur during grooming. Applying the treatment under the skin on the top of their head works best.

Grooming Brushes

You can use several different types of grooming brushes. Before starting your at-home feline spa, consider your cat’s temperament, age, and fur type when looking for the right brush.

Here are some options:

  • Soft-bristled brushes: These work well for cats with sensitive or dry skin. It is used primarily on the top coat and won’t cause further skin irritation. It can also distribute skin oils which naturally help moisturize the skin.
  • Rubber brush: These may be more comfortable for your cat if other brushes, such as metal brushes, are too harsh.

Ask for Professional Advice

Cat dandruff isn’t fun for anyone. It’s not fun for us, and it’s certainly not fun for our feline friends. If you are looking for some guidance and tips on pet care (from your cat to your lizard to fish — basically, the whole menagerie), you can rely on AskVet.

Access 360° Pet Care with AskVet for $9.99 a month.



Don’t Brush Off Feline Dandruff | CVMBS News

Pet Dandruff: Causes & How to Prevent Its Buildup | VetDERM Clinic

Dandruff – Cat Owners | Pets and Parasites

The Dos and Don’ts of Walking Your Cat | Texas Humane Heroes

Is Salt Bad for Dogs? A Nuanced Answer 

Is Salt Bad for Dogs? A Nuanced Answer

As pet parents, our dog’s health is our main priority. We’re always Googling “Can my dog eat…” followed by whatever snack our dogs are sadly watching us eat. However, some snacks are deceptive. While it may seem like a safe food, it could be hiding a lot of salt.

Feeding your dog an excessive amount of salty food is not good for their health. However, your dog still does need salt and sodium in their diet to keep them functioning properly. It comes down to this: Salt in moderation.

Of course, foods that your dog eats or might snack on might have sodium in them, but depending on how much you give to them, they should be in the clear. Understanding how much salt your dog needs can help to ensure you are not giving them too much of it in their diet.

This might mean cutting back on your dog’s favorite snacks and finding healthier pet food options or reading through ingredients on the label of treats before you buy them for your dog. We have put together information about salt and sodium for your dogs to put your mind at ease.

Keep reading to learn more about this nuanced question.

How Much Salt Is Safe for Dogs?

Salt in moderation is safe for dogs, but too much of it can cause issues in your pet. Your dog requires salt in their daily diet, but never in excessive quantities. So, dogs need salt in order for their cells to function.

Your dog’s body needs salt to maintain fluid balance, acid-base balance, and nerve signal transmission. Too little salt might result in a condition called hyponatremia, which can cause lethargy, vomiting, seizures, loss of appetite, and other symptoms.

In general, the recommended daily salt intake lies between 0.25g – 1.5g per 100g of food. Excess salt could also result in dehydration, frequent urination, tongue swelling, muscle spasms, and more. Keeping a fresh bowl of clean water out can help to keep your dog’s salt levels in check, as they can regulate how much is in their body by staying hydrated.

If your pooch has certain health conditions like Kidney Disease or Heart Disease, they might be on a low-sodium diet. In this case, all treats, foods, and snacks should be vetted — salt is sneaky.

Salt vs. Sodium

When you are talking about salt and sodium, you are discussing two different things. Salt refers to sodium chloride, a compound found in nature, and sodium refers to a dietary mineral found in salt. Both are electrolytes that dogs need to function.

Dogs need a certain amount of sodium, but this salt can be found in your dog’s foods and treats. Eating healthier options that include sodium is an easy way to limit the amount of salt consumed while still reaping sodium’s benefits. Lean meats like chicken or fish, fresh vegetables, and whole-grain options tend to be lower in sodium.

Can Dogs Eat Too Much Salt?

An excess amount of salt and sodium in your dog’s diet can lead to hypernatremia, which means that the sodium levels in the blood are too high. This triggers dehydration in the dog, which happens when the muscles and tissue release fluid in the body to combat the high sodium levels.

If your dog is losing too much fluid during this attack, they might suffer from full-body stiffness resulting in difficulty walking, incoordination, tremors, and seizures. In severe cases, your vet might administer IV fluids or medications, and keep your pup for monitoring.

While humans tend to love adding a small amount of salt to their meals to boost bland flavors, our dogs sadly do not get the same luxury.

All salt should come from a dog’s diet, which is carefully formulated by industry experts. By keeping an eye on the labels and figuring out how much your dog is consuming, you don’t have to worry about them eating too much.

Just remember to keep your extra salty snacks away from your furry friend and in closed-off containers to ensure they don’t make their way into them!

What Are Some Signs of Salt Poisoning?

Generally, the first signs of salt poisoning or “sodium ion poisoning” are vomiting and an insatiable thirst. They might also seem tired and a bit out of it. They will also be stiffer than normal and might look awkward as they try to move. This is due to the moisture leaving their body, trying to make up for the excess salt.

Signs of salt toxicosis are:

  • Seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Coma
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fluid buildup
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy
  • Nausea
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stomach pain
  • Tongue swelling
  • Respiratory distress
  • Diarrhea

Contributing Factors to Salt Toxicosis

As we discussed above, large amounts of salt consumption can lead to salt toxicosis. If you have an automatic fresh water dispenser for your dog, you must ensure that it’s working before leaving for any amount of time. A hand-filled dog bowl should be full. If they can’t get access to drinking water when needed, it could lead to a surplus of salt, resulting in dehydration.

Consuming rock salt, table salt, or soy sauce around the house might also lead to salt toxicity. Eating toys like play dough can also impact the sodium levels in your dog. Similarly, drinking too much ocean water can add more salt than is acceptable to the bloodstream.

What Are Some Foods With Too Much Salt?

Usually, the food that you are buying for your dog has been manufactured with the average salt intake in mind. Some human foods and household products that are likely to cause salt toxicosis if consumed in large quantities are:

  • Potato chips and fries
  • Hot dogs or other highly processed meats
  • Canned vegetables, soups, or meals
  • Pizza
  • Fast food meals
  • Pretzels
  • Table salt
  • Rock salt that’s used on icy roads

Some dog treats will also have too much salt; reading all labels could help prevent salt toxicity. Also, feeding your dog foods in moderation and not overfeeding them can help you to limit the amount of salt they intake. Anything more than the recommended amount should be avoided.

Get Answers With AskVet

Sometimes finding the answers to questions about your pet’s health requires skimming through blog after blog. You might not find the exact thing you are looking for, but with AskVet, you can get directly to the point. If you have a question about your pet’s health, AskVet is there to help.

With 24/7 around-the-clock availability, you can put your worries to ease. If you notice a change in behavior or are worried about their salt intake, you have someone to reach out to.

Right now, you can sign up for our services for just $9.99/month. Not only can you ask us all your last-minute questions, but we work to create a personalized plan for your pet so that they can stay healthy throughout their life. If you are in need of behavioral assistance, we can also help you with that!

Your pet is special and unique, and the care they need is also special and unique. No two dogs are the same, so why should their care be? Don’t hesitate, and instead get started with AskVet today!



Incidence, Severity and Prognosis Associated with Hyponatremia in Dogs and Cats | NCBI

Incidence, Severity and Prognosis Associated with Hypernatremia in Dogs and Cats | NCBI

Salt Toxicosis in Animals – Toxicology | Merck Veterinary Manual

Dog Runny Nose: 7 Specific Symptoms & Their Causes

Dog Runny Nose

It can be nerve-wracking when there is the slightest change in your dog’s behavior, whether it be their attitude, activity levels, or health. Getting to the bottom of it can be searching online for hours to figure out what might be going on with your pet. We understand just how difficult it can be to get to the bottom of your pet’s health — they can’t tell you what’s going on, and you can’t read their mind!

With certain symptoms, like a runny nose, there are many potential reasons why they might be experiencing a change in health. From something more common like allergies to something more serious like cancer, a runny nose can mean several things. Instead of jumping to the worst-case scenario, keep reading to learn more about how different issues can cause a runny nose.

At AskVet, our goal is to help you get to the bottom of things so you can spend less time worrying and more time loving your pet.

Is My Dog’s Nose Running?

Did your dog’s nose just drip on you, or are they just salivating due to the snack in your hand? Did they just dunk their face in the water bowl and bring you their leftovers, or is their nose actually dripping?

It’s not too difficult to rule out some of the above just by watching your dog for a bit. If you notice that their nose is running and a bit more wet than usual, it could be that they are experiencing a wide range of issues. Before panicking, it’s best to confirm that it is their nose and take note of any other symptoms that could be accompanying their runny nose.

What Are the Symptoms of a Runny Nose in Dogs?

All dogs get runny noses sometimes, and it’s not necessarily something to worry about. If you notice that your dog’s nose is constantly running or beginning to expel discharge, this could be something more than your average allergies.

The symptom of a casual, allergy-related runny nose might be a clear discharge that might drip out of their nose occasionally.

Other symptoms that might be more of a cause for concern are:

  • Constant dripping
  • Cloudy, yellow, green, or smelly discharge
  • Other changes in behavior, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea

Should I Be Worried if My Dog’s Nose Is Running?

If your dog has no other symptoms other than a runny nose, you don’t need to jump to the worst possible outcome. Instead, monitor it for a few days to see if you recognize any changes in the discharge or your pet’s behavior.

However, if your pet is displaying worrisome or uncharacteristic behavior, it might be time to visit your vet. Remember, you know your pet best, and if there seems to be something off with them, you’ll realize it first.

If there is any discoloration in the discharge or your pet exhibits other symptoms like vomiting or lethargy, seek out medical attention. If you are a part of AskVet already, you can use our services to discuss your pet’s health and behavior and figure out what the best next steps would be.

What Causes a Runny Nose?

Runny noses in dogs have many causes, so it’s always helpful to know your options before heading into the emergency room. We’ve gathered a list of the most common causes of a runny nose to help determine what your dog might be experiencing. We can never be too cautious when it comes to our pets since they can’t tell us what they need.

1. Seasonal Allergies

Many breeds of dogs can be prone to seasonal or even food allergies. For instance, you might notice that when the trees are beginning to bloom, your dog is a bit more itchy and has a slight drip to their nose.

This is fairly common and is easiest to treat if you can figure out what the allergen is. Locating the source of the allergy can help with prescribing medication if needed, and it can also help you avoid certain areas and objects to limit your dog’s symptoms.

You can learn more about what might be impacting your dog by having a veterinarian do allergy tests on them. If you think it’s something they might be consuming, you can try out an elimination diet to see if some of her food is causing the reaction. However, don’t change your dog’s diet without a thumbs-up from your DVM.

2. Biology

Some dogs are more prone to runny noses than others, so it might just be that your pup needs to keep tissues on hand at all times. Flat-faced dogs might be more prone to a frequent runny nose, and sometimes surgery can help with this issue. It might become more noticeable as your dog’s nasal passage becomes weaker, but for many dogs, this is just something they live with.

It’s always best to consult with a veterinarian to learn about the best options for your dog.

3. Blockage in the Nostril

Another reason that your dog’s nose might be running a bit more than usual is if there is a foreign object lodged in the nostril. Pieces of grass, a crumb of food, or maybe even a small rock or stick could be obstructing your dog’s nasal passage, causing it to run (and also causing discomfort).

These foreign objects should be removed as soon as possible to not cause any other issues. If you are able to see the object and take it out yourself, carefully do so. If not, consult with a veterinarian.

Depending on how far back it is, this might be more difficult to do without causing any further irritation. Some vets will sedate your dog in order to get the object out safely. If the object stays in there for too long, it could cause irritation, nose bleeding, and even infections.

4. Infection

Dogs can develop infections in their noses that might be bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic. Regardless of the infection type, your dog will need antibiotics to help control the infection.

If you notice mucus or pus coming out of your dog’s nose, this might indicate an infection. This might be accompanied by a bad odor or nosebleed, and some dogs might cough and choke due to post-nasal drip discomfort.

As soon as you can get your pup on some antibiotics, the better off they will be. The longer you wait to get them treated, the more complications that could arise. If you’re constantly booping your dog’s nose, a change in the color, smell, and consistency of the wetness of their nose will be easy to spot.

5. Nasal Polyps and Tumors

If blood, mucus, and pus is coming out of your dog’s nose in addition to noisy breathing or a bulge on one side of their nose, it might be a sign of nasal polyps (overgrown mucus-production in the glands) or nasal tumors.

Nasal polyps usually need to be removed through surgery, and they can reappear after getting rid of them. There might be further treatment to undergo to limit this possibility. Nasal tumors will need to be screened to see if they are cancerous. Some benign tumors can be left on your dog with close monitoring, but others might need to be removed and treated very carefully.

6. Distemper

If your dog has distemper, they might have a sticky, yellow discharge coming from their nose. In addition, your dog might show signs of other symptoms like convulsions, fevers, pneumonia, or twitching.

Distemper can be prevented by getting your puppy vaccinated three times between eight and 16 weeks of age, but if your dog does end up with it, treatment can include anticonvulsants, antibiotics, or painkillers and sedatives. This is an emergency situation.

7. Kennel Cough

While Canine Distemper can cause kennel cough, the two are not exactly the same. Kennel cough, or canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC), is a very broad and common disease complex that can result from a variety of viral organisms.

You might notice your dog coughing and sneezing while also experiencing nasal discharge. Kennel cough can be spread through direct contact and in close spaces, like at a kennel (hence the name) or dog park. You will want to separate your infected dog from any other animals in the house, and your vet might prescribe you antibiotics.

Get Answers With AskVet

When you download the AskVet app, you’re able to access 24/7 veterinarian care from the comfort of your own home. If you have questions about your pet’s behavior and health, there are people ready to answer and bring you peace of mind. This goes for a runny nose, too. If you feel like you should be worried, send over your concerns on AskVet and get a prompt response.

We also work to create a specialized plan for your pet to keep them in the best health. And it’s not just dogs! Any animal that you have can benefit from AskVet, so sign-up today for just $9.99/month and ensure that you can get access to the answers you are searching for quickly and efficiently.



Canine Atopic Dermatitis: Detailed Guidelines For Diagnosis And Allergen Identification | BMC Veterinary Research

Eucoleus Boehmi | Companion Animal Parasite Council

Co-occurrence of Nasal Polyps and Neoplasms of the Canine Nasal Cavity | Sage Journals

Can Dogs Eat Grapes? What You Need To Know

Can Dogs Eat GrapesWhat You Need To Know

Do you enjoy peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches? Raisins? Grape juice? These are all delicious snacks for kids and adults, but unfortunately, these are not snacks that we can share with our dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Grapes?

Although our dogs can enjoy plenty of fruits, like blueberries and apples, grapes are a big no-no. This includes anything related to a grape as well, like raisins, sultanas, and currants.

This means no nibbles of peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches, trail mix that has raisins mixed in, and no fruit salad with grapes mixed in. Any grape product is off-limits in any amount. In fact, a single grape can be enough to cause a toxic dose which can result in acute kidney failure.

Why Can’t Dogs Eat Grapes?

For the longest time, grape toxicity was a head-scratcher for veterinarians. Veterinarians knew that grapes were the cause of kidney damage in some dogs but kidney failure in others. Some dogs would have only one grape and succumb to kidney failure, while another dog had a handful of grapes but only suffered from mild kidney damage. It was a conundrum.

Finally, a conclusion has been reached in the mystery of grape toxicity. Veterinarians at the ASPCA Poison Control Center have made the discovery that tartaric acid in grapes was the toxic substance behind the harmful side effects.

Tartaric acid can vary greatly from grape type to grape type and even between the same type of grape, depending on how ripe the grape is. Even the weather and soil type can affect the amount of tartaric acid a grape has. There are also varying levels of tartaric acid between raisins, sultanas, and currants as well.

This great discrepancy between the varying levels of tartaric acid between grapes can be the explanation for the different reactions to grape poisoning among dogs.

After that, pet parents may ask if one type of grape is safe to eat. Is there a difference between green grapes, purple grapes, or seedless grapes? Sadly, the answer is an absolute no.

My Dog Ate Grapes. What Now?

If your dog has eaten a grape or raisin, call your veterinary clinic or pet poison control immediately. Veterinary care is required if your dog ingests any amount of grapes. This definitely constitutes an emergency.

Your DVM will administer activated charcoal to help your dog vomit and hopefully remove any grapes from their system before signs of grape toxicity or raisin toxicity appear. The symptoms of grape poisoning include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale gums
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry nose
  • Trouble breathing
  • Decreased or increased urine production (but increased thirst)

Additional symptoms include vomit and diarrhea. Your dog may also be lethargic and will not have any appetite.

Intravenous fluid therapy will also be given to help relieve your dog’s kidneys and minimize any damage by any tartaric acid in your dog’s system. Grapes can stay in the stomach ranging four to six hours, and symptoms of grape toxicity can develop as early as six hours after ingestion, even sooner depending on your dog’s system.

Time is of the essence when it comes to treating grape toxicity. Unlike livers, kidneys cannot occasionally repair themselves, so we must carefully preserve kidney function.

It is vital that your dog is seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible if you see them eat a grape or if you believe any grape ingestion has occurred.

What Fruits Can My Dogs Have?

While grapes (and anything grape-related) should be entirely avoided, this doesn’t mean that your dog is completely cut off from the fruit world. They can still enjoy the sweet treat of a cold piece of fruit on a hot day.

Your dog can enjoy fruits like apples, strawberries, bananas, watermelon, pineapple, and blueberries. Of course, you’ll want to consult your veterinarian if you aren’t entirely sure about a human food you want to feed your dog.

The Bottom Line

Your dog cannot have grapes, and you likely will not want to share one of your dog’s treats. However, having access to our veterinarians at AskVet is a way to treat yourself to ensure that you always have a veterinarian to chat with whenever you have a concern.

Our AskVet veterinarians are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to discuss your pet’s needs. Whether you have a question that needs answering right away, or if you want to brush up on your knowledge about pet health and wellness, you can chat with one of our knowledgeable veterinarians with no appointment needed!

When you join AskVet, you receive access to 1:1 pet coach training, 24/7 vet support, a pet ID tag that helps to reunite you with your dog if they are ever lost, and a peer-to-peer community to talk with other pet parents like yourself.

Get total peace of mind for one low monthly price; join us today!


Can Dogs Eat Grapes? |

‘In the News’: Updates on Grape Toxicity | Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Mystery Solved: Why Grapes are Toxic to Dogs | Grady Veterinary Hospital

Liver Disease and Failure in Dogs – Causes, Stages, Treatment | Vale Vets

5 Bland Foods To Feed a Dog With Diarrhea

5 Bland Foods To Feed a Dog With Diarrhea

Just like people, our dogs can experience the occasional bout of tummy troubles. When we have an upset stomach, we just want to lay down and keep to ourselves until the feeling passes. Our dogs can definitely feel the same. Instead of your dog’s ever-wagging tail, they are clearly not feeling well and may make a rush to the door to get outside to use the bathroom.

You may be wondering why your dog has made the mad dash. Once you see them use the bathroom, you will completely understand why when you see runny or loose stools in your backyard (hopefully!). Even if your poor buddy couldn’t quite make it outside, you know they need some extra care from their human parents.

What Causes Diarrhea in Dogs?

Often, diarrhea can start when your dog eats something that doesn’t agree with them. You may be familiar with this if you have a shenanigan-loving dog who got into the trash can and ate some particularly smelly leftovers from a few days ago.

Feeding your dog table scraps that are too heavy or rich can also cause gastrointestinal distress. Another cause of diarrhea in dogs is if you quickly switch them to a new food. The sudden change can cause their digestive tract to be less than happy.

Of course, diarrhea can be a symptom of something else lurking in your dog’s system. If your dog ate a foreign object, they might experience a blockage which can then cause diarrhea. Viral and bacterial infections can also be a cause, as well as intestinal parasites like roundworms or hookworms.

Other serious health issues that might explain your dog’s stool include giardia, parvovirus, or even kidney disease. Your DVM will be able to confirm a diagnosis.

Allergies and Dog Health

One potential answer behind canine chronic diarrhea is the type of dog food. Your dog could possibly have food allergies to some protein sources or filler types in regular foods. A food intolerance could be the underlying cause behind your pup’s disrupted bowel movements, and your vet can run allergy tests to confirm.

When Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

Any time things are not normal for your dog is always a cause for concern, especially tummy troubles. If you see that your dog is experiencing diarrhea, but they are acting their usual self, this may be a case of just an occasional digestive upset that might work itself out.

However, if your dog experiences more than two days of diarrhea episodes, especially paired with any additional symptoms, then making an appointment with your dog’s veterinarian is a smart next step.

Additional symptoms to be on the lookout for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Signs of dehydration (dry nose, dry gums)
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Weakness
  • Blood in stool
  • Lack of appetite

If your dog does need treatment, your veterinarian will run the necessary tests and make their best judgment call. Likely next steps would be to monitor your dog, as well as give them fluids and electrolytes to help get their intestinal tract back on track.

Anytime you are concerned about your dog, a quick call to the veterinarian clinic can help soothe your nerves. Being a member of AskVet is also a great layer of support when you would like to speak with a veterinarian. Our 24/7 support can give you peace of mind when you need a quick question answered.

How Can I Help My Dog Feel Better?

For those mild cases of diarrhea caused by the odd food, a little TLC goes a long way. Gently pats and reassuring words comfort your dog and let them know that you will be close by. If the case is mild, it might solve itself over the next day or so.

It’s best to contact your dog’s veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog’s bout of diarrhea. Your vet may recommend one of the most common over-the-counter remedies: a bland diet. Keeping your dog’s diet as light and plain as possible may help soothe their stomach back to where it once was. This means no spices and minimal fat.

A bland diet allows your dog to have some food in their sensitive stomachs, but these foods are easily digestible and give your dog’s digestive system a well-needed break. You may also elect to withhold food for 12 to 24 hours (upon the direction of your vet) and then slowly introduce these bland foods to help your dog recover. It’s generally a good sign when your dog has an appetite.

Let’s take a look at some bland foods that will get your dog back to tippy tapping form in no time.

Chicken & Rice

Also, comfort food for humans, a little plain white rice with chicken, can be a comfort meal for your dog. The chicken should be plain with no seasoning and shredded or cut into small pieces. You can also mix in a dash of chicken broth with the rice as long as the broth does not have onions or garlic in it.

Luckily these days, you can usually find precooked rice and shredded chicken in the grocery store. Make sure you double-check the ingredient listing to ensure that no seasonings are used that may aggravate your dog’s digestive system.

Low-Fat Hamburger

Another bland protein is low-fat hamburger. This home remedy meal should be unseasoned and drained as much as possible of any lingering fat.

To ensure all the fat is gone, you can evenly spread the cooked hamburger on a plate with a few layers of paper towels while it cools. You can also mix the cooked hamburger with rice to give your dog something a tad more filling.


If your dog is wary about their regular diet at the moment, some broth can be the perfect segway to ensure that they are hydrated but are also ingesting some nutrients and a little flavor to entice your dog’s appetite.

Broth of all kinds can be easily found at the grocery store these days. Like the store-prepared rice and shredded chicken, check the ingredients label for any seasonings. If your dog doesn’t love broth, your vet could possibly recommend rice water.

Pumpkin/Sweet Potatoes

While we love pumpkin and sweet potato pies, these fillings are also great at helping to settle your pooch’s upset tummy. These two vegetables are easily digestible when they are prepared without seasonings. They also contain plenty of nutrients that could help your dog’s gastrointestinal tract feel nourished and ready to get back on schedule.

Pumpkin is sometimes used as a treatment for constipation.

Scrambled Eggs

Soft scrambled eggs are also a great source of protein that is easily digestible. We may sound like a broken record, but remember not to add any seasonings to the eggs, so you don’t further aggravate your dog’s stomach.

Road to Recovery

While it is always tough to see your furry best buddy not feeling well, rest assured that you have a team of experienced and knowledgeable veterinarians available to help 24/7.

While most cases of doggy diarrhea tend to resolve on their own with a little extra TLC, it’s important to always keep a watchful eye over your furbaby.

Join AskVet today, and know that you’ll have easy access to doggy care, whether it is a question about symptoms or just wanting to brush up on your pet health and wellness knowledge. We are only a short click away!


What is the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs? | Ventura Emergency Vet

Diarrhea | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Acute Diarrhea in Dogs: Current Management and Potential Role of Dietary Polyphenols Supplementation | PMC

What Every Pet Owner Should Know About Food Allergies | Tufts University

Spaying Your Cat 101: 9 Frequently Asked Questions

spaying your cat

If you’re looking into the process of spaying your cat, there are sure to be plenty of questions swirling around in your head. Don’t fret! We’ve got you covered.

For many, the who, what, where, when, and why can overtake you. Some might wonder what spaying is or how it’s different from neutering. Others might be curious about where the procedure should be done. Or, when is the most appropriate timing? Why is spaying important?

To help put your mind at ease through this whole process, we’re answering some of the most frequently asked cat spaying questions.

Here are the nine most frequently asked questions about our little buddies with nine lives:

What Does “Spay/Neuter” Mean?

The spaying process refers to sterilization (removing the reproductive organs), specifically for female cats. This procedure disrupts cats’ ability to go into heat and reproduce. A male cat, in contrast, would be neutered, which means the cat’s testicles are removed under anesthetic.

Depending on where you are in the world, your cat could undergo either an ovariectomy or ovariohysterectomy. An ovariectomy is when a vet removes just the cat’s ovaries; it is most common in European veterinarian practices. On the other hand, an ovariohysterectomy is when you remove the cat’s ovaries and uterus. This procedure is most common in the United States and Canada.

When Should Your Cat Be spayed?

When you should spay your cat is completely dependent on her individual circumstances.

For instance, if you are adopting a kitten, it’s recommended that you schedule spaying between six and seven months of age. While it’s possible for cats around four months old to reproduce, it’s not very common. Before this age, your cat will likely be too young to reproduce. While adult cats can (and very often should) be spayed, kittens can have an easier time recuperating.

If you have adopted an older unspayed cat, you can talk with the Certified Pet Lifestyle Experts™ (CPLE) at AskVet for advice on the best surgery time. Every cat is unique in their own special way, and this decision will reflect that.

Older cats might have underlying medical conditions that might make the anesthesia process a bit more serious. Your vet might want to do testing to ensure your cat is healthy for this procedure.

What Are the Benefits of Spaying Your Cat?

It’s no secret that there is a homeless cat population worldwide. Cats can reproduce many litters, but that doesn’t mean they need to! When you decide to get your cat spayed, there are many benefits, and population control is one of the main ones.

When you spay your cat, you are helping reduce cat overpopulation that contributes to unwanted litters and cats living in shelters or on the streets.

Regarding health benefits, spaying your cat can greatly reduce their risk of mammary tumors and uterine cancers (as well as testicular cancer in males). Spaying can prevent uterine infections and even the rupturing of the uterine.

When “queen” cats go through their heat cycle, sometimes as frequently as once a month, they might engage in some unwanted behaviors you’d prefer they didn’t. Some hormone-driven behavioral problems might include aggression, yowling in the middle of the night, and possibly small amounts of urine marking.

What Are the Risks?

With every good thing said about spaying your cat, it’s impossible to ignore discussing the risks it carries. The risks are extremely low and rare when it comes to the spaying of a cat. The main risks involve general anesthesia and internal bleeding due to complications (either during or after the spay surgery).

These aren’t the things that should be at the forefront of your mind. With a trusted veterinarian, you can discuss these fears. They should have a plan to help your cat. When interviewing a new vet, you should always feel positive that they have your cat’s best interests in mind.

What Should Cats Expect from This Surgery?

This shouldn’t be a very long surgical procedure. Like with any medical procedure, understanding the logistics of what will likely happen can help you feel better. Your cat won’t understand, so this is mainly to ease your mind.

Leading up to the surgery, your veterinarian might recommend your cat avoid snacking after midnight the night before the procedure. Then when you bring your cat, she will be put under anesthesia so that she doesn’t feel any of the procedure.

Generally, the vet will make an incision in her abdomen and remove the ovaries and uterus (or just ovaries). Then they will stitch up the incision site and give your cat an “Elizabethan collar” to keep her from biting at the sutures. These stitches should be kept clean and out of reach of your cat’s curious tongue.

After seven to ten days, the vet might choose to remove the stitches during a post-surgery check-up.

How Long Is a Spay Surgery?

Typically, a cat can go home the day of the surgery — perhaps with pain medication and an adorable cone, but home nonetheless! Some cats have a very speedy recovery and soon want to go back to throwing books and vases off countertops.

You should make sure that your cat keeps their play to a minimum and that they avoid messing with their sutures. Cats don’t realize it, but that could cause them a lot of trouble.

What Is the Recovery Process Like?

The recovery timeline can be different for every cat, but the recovery process is often a breeze. Your cat might become playful shortly after or overly curious about her new scar. For this reason, keeping a close eye on her is key. Additionally, a controlled and contained environment and a cone can help protect them from their own mischief.

While your cat is in surgery, you can set up and prepare for the recovery process. Make her bedding nice and comfortable, a freshly cleaned litter box, and food and water (if allowed) that is easily accessible.

When your cat comes home from the surgery, you will want to keep her as calm as possible to not disturb her stitches. You’ll want to keep her bedding and litter box spotless to avoid any possible infection. Your cat might be a bit needier during this time. Good thing we would never turn down some cat cuddles!

How Can You Tell if a Cat Is Already Spayed?

If you adopt a kitten, the cat is likely unspayed since she hasn’t reached the proper age for the procedure. If you have adopted an older cat through a rescue, they probably have done a full check-up with the cat and could let you know what your cat’s medical records say.

Now, if a homeless cat has chosen you by coming to your door and refusing to leave, you might not know their complete history. You can ask to have a veterinarian check out their underbelly to look for a scar. Your cat could also undergo a blood test that can detect if your cat has been spayed or not, called the “Anti-Müllerian Hormone Assay.

How Much Does a Cat Spay Cost?

The cost of getting your cat spayed depends on several variants. Where you get it done, where you live, your cat’s age, and other factors might impact the pricing. You might also take your cat to a low-cost spay facility and sign-up for their services. This is one way to still do your part but for a more affordable price.

In general, a cat spaying can range anywhere from $200-500, but the price can vary.

Spaying in Summary

Spaying pets is a great way to ensure that all cats can go to a kind and loving home. Without the help of humans, kittens are being born daily. Spaying is a safe and common procedure that can protect your cat from unwanted pregnancy and health-related complications.

If you still have more questions, you can download the AskVet 360° Pet Care App. Right now, for only $9.99/month, you can gain access to 24/7 virtual veterinarian care. When you download the app, you also gain access to 1:1 personalized pet care to help your pet live a long and healthy life.

You can ask any question you might have at any point in the day and get a quick and speedy response and receive help with a wide range of animal wellness themes along the way. All pets are welcome, including dogs, lizards, and even fish. Whether your cat is a queen or she just acts like royalty, AskVet is here to help.


Ovariectomy or Ovariohysterectomy? | Cornell University Veterinary Specialists

Current Perspectives On The Optimal Age To Spay/Castrate Dogs And Cats | NCBI

Spaying And Neutering | American Veterinary Medical Association

Queen (Cat) – an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics

Feline Reproductive Function Tests | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Living with an Intact Female Cat | BC SPCA


Pet Dental Health – What Not to Ignore

Dog with toothbrush

Welcome to the AskVet Webinar Series where our doctors and veterinary professionals present relevant information and discuss important pet topics. Join our live streams to learn how you, your dogs, and your cats can live your best lives! 

Dental disease affects a majority of cats and dogs and is the most common course of chronic pain for our pets. Catching dental issues before they become advanced or painful is the goal of this discussion with Dr. Marks. Dental disease typically has an early onset with more than 80% of dogs and greater than 50% of cats over the age of 3 affected! Untreated dental disease can also cause problems in the body making early detection so important. For those pets afflicted by untreated dental disease, the bacteria under the gums circulates in the bloodstream and can affect the heart, liver, and kidneys. Watch below to learn more about dental disease and ways to proactively look for signs and symptoms.

Lesser known signs of dental disease

  • Discolored teeth (This can be caused by plaque and tartar.)
  • Red gums
  • Broken teeth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Bad breath! #1 indicator (The bad breath is caused by a gaseous waste product of bacteria in the mouth.)

3 subtle signs of dental disease in dogs to not ignore

  1. Swelling under eye
    This is caused by a tooth root abscess of the 4th premolar on the upper jaw, otherwise known as the carnassial tooth. It is the largest chewing tooth. This condition is painful and requires oral surgery such as a root canal or tooth extraction, antibiotics and pain meds.

  2. Drooling 
    This indicates pain. Also nasal discharge can occur if there is an oronasal fistula, or a hole from the canine tooth to the nostril.

  3. Dropping food 
    If dropping food is out of character for your pet, you notice chewing on one side only, or your pet is eating slowly when normally they eat fast, then a dental problem needs to be considered.  

3 subtle signs of dental disease in cats to not ignore

Cats are by nature very stoic. They do not show signs of pain as this makes them vulnerable to predators, so it is important to carefully observe your cat for subtle signs of dental disease. 

  1. Red dots 
    These are resorptive lesions typically found on the crown of the tooth, They are hard to see, but indicate disease under the gum. This is usually a genetic issue where the immune system attacks tooth roots and erodes and dissolves tooth’s blood supply causing the tooth to fracture. Extraction of the affected tooth is the treatment of choice.

  2. Pawing at mouth, 
    Cats will normally paw or rub their faces during normal grooming, but if this behavior becomes more aggressive and less gentle, then they may be experiencing oral pain.

  3. Appetite change 
    Most cats have predictable eating behavior. If normal eating behavior changes, if not dental disease causing the problem, it is something else that needs to be investigated.

Best ways to to prevent dental disease

  • Although brushing is best, it is not always possible in reality. Toothbrushing is dependent upon the pet’s temperament, their training, and your ability to commit time to their dental care. 
  • Try to pair your pet’s toothbrushing session with a bedtime routine. 
  • Use finger or baby toothbrushes. 
  • Daily dental care is the key. Do something every day whether it be dental wipes, chews, oral rinses, or prescription food. It makes you flip the lip to look at your pet’s dental health to hopefully catch abnormalities sooner rather than later
  • Go to the Veterinary Oral Health Council to learn more. They also list many approved OTC dental options for your pets. 

At AskVet, we know that every pet has its own personality and unique set of needs, which will continually evolve over time. We’re here to help you evolve with them. We use 360° Wellness Plans to help guide you through every stage of your pet’s life—and we’re with you every step of the way.


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Puppy Potty Training Success in 20 Minutes

puppy potty training

Welcome to the Askvet Webinar Series where our doctors and veterinary professionals present relevant information and discuss important pet topics. Join our live streams to learn how you, your dogs, and your cats can live your best lives! 

House training a puppy can be a very frustrating process and can lead to anxiety and even anger, but with patience and a calm presence, can become a very rewarding endeavor. If done correctly, potty training can create a happier dog and a stronger human-animal bond. Join Dr. Marks in our live AskVet webinar to learn how to effectively house train a puppy. 

5 steps to house training a Puppy

  1. Schedule time blocks and a house training routine.
    Before getting a puppy, think proactively about how your life will be affected and if you have time to commit to a puppy. Your work schedule, travel plans, and daily home life for instance will be impacted and must accommodate a puppy that is being house trained. Create a village to help! Have friends, family, co-workers, pet sitters, or neighbors assist with the process.

For puppies, less than 12 weeks of age, they need to be let outside every 1-2 hours during the day. For puppies more than 12 weeks, they need to be let outside every  2-4 hours during the day. Puppies usually need to go immediately after waking, after playing, and after eating or drinking. 


Bring them outside on a leash. This not only helps with potty training, but helps them learn how to walk on a leash and aids in socialization. 


Use a 2 word command every time you take your puppy outside. For instance, if the puppy’s name is Franklin, say “Franklin potty.” Overtime, Franklin will understand this command. 

  1. Create a feeding schedule. Mealtimes and training times need to be connected. Within 20 minutes of eating and drinking, your puppy will need to potty. Feeding at the same time every day will increase predictability and lead to better house training success. 

  1. Use a crate. Dogs in general are den animals. They like to snuggle and bed down in a safe space. A crate creates this safe space for a puppy. Let your puppy eat treats or meals and  have toy time in the crate to make it a positive space. They also will not sleep or eat where they eliminate, so using a crate is a form of natural discouragement from urinating and defecating in the house. Crate size is important as well. Ensure the crate is only big enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around, and lay down. A crate that is too large will allow the puppy to eliminate in the crate while having a separate space to lay down. Crate dividers can be used to expand the crate size to meet the needs of a growing puppy. 

  1. Reward Be your puppy’s cheerleader especially immediately after eliminating. When your puppy goes, reward instantly with verbal praise, treats, toys, touch and love. 

  1. Learn body language Read your puppy’s body language as most puppies will give cues that they need to relieve themselves. They may start whining, circling, or sniffing. Some may sit by the door patiently; these dogs can be trained to ring a bell when they need to go outside. Others may wander off to find a place in the house to eliminate. If your puppy wanders often, use a light leash in your home when out of the crate to keep a closer eye on your puppy and to catch them before they go.

Potty Training No-No’s

Accidents always happen! Never punish for accidents. No spray bottles, rubbing noses into the soiled area, yelling, or hitting. Puppies do not understand the negative connection and punishment will only create fear and anxiety as well as lead to the deterioration of  your human-animal bond. When a puppy has an accident, it usually is our fault. For instance, we left the puppy in the crate too long, we didn’t adhere to the schedule and routine, or we did not use the proper command. 


Puppy Pads

Puppy pads are not a substitute for a crate. They do not create a safe space and are not a den. Most dogs do not need pee pads as it only leads to confusion for them. However, there are special circumstances that these pads can be used successfully. For instance, puppies living in a high rise, dogs with social anxiety, or our geriatric canines. If puppy pads are needed, make a room for the puppy. Place the pee pad next to the crate, so they realize that there is a special place for elimination.




At AskVet, we know that every pet has its own personality and unique set of needs, which will continually evolve over time. We’re here to help you evolve with them. We use 360° Wellness Plans to help guide you through every stage of your pet’s life—and we’re with you every step of the way.


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Building a First Aid Kit for your Pets

puppy first aid

Welcome to the AskVet Webinar Series where our doctors and veterinary professionals present relevant information and discuss important pet topics. Join our live streams to learn how you, your dogs, and your cats can live your best lives! 

While we think of packing an emergency kit for ourselves, we often forget about our pets! In the event of a natural disaster, a home evacuation, a camping trip, or even a quick trip to the park, it is always best to be prepared. In this webinar, Dr. Emily Gaugh discusses how to pack an emergency kit for your pets and how to perform basic first aid care for our furry companions. Watch below to learn more about building first aid kits for your pets!

Customized Kits

First aid kits should be individualized and customized to your pets. Ideally, you want one kit for every pet in your home. Include the following:

  • Emergency info sheet with the contact info of your regular veterinarian, your local veterinary emergency hospital, and Pet Poison Helpline or ASPCA Pet Poison Control hotline phone number. 
  • Include your pet’s normal vitals (heart rate and respiratory rate) and weight.
  • A medication listing any prescription or OTC medications your pet is taking. Also talk with your veterinarian about what OTC medications are safe to use and have on hand in the event of an emergency. Your vet can provide info on OTC antacid or antihistamine dosing for instance.
  • Have recent photos of your pets in case they are lost. 

Basic Assessment

A basic pet health assessment includes temperature, respiratory rate, and heart rate. Having a watch with a second hand or a phone with a timer, will be needed. It is important to know what your pet’s normal vitals are, in order to determine when they are abnormal.

To obtain an accurate temperature, you will need a rectal thermometer, gloves and lubrication. Only take a rectal temperature if you can do so safely. Even the best dogs and cats aren’t always cooperative. Alternatively, an armpit or axillary temperature can be taken. Add 1.5 – 2.0 degrees to the reading for accuracy. Normal temperature ranges from 100-103 F. However, if your pet is stressed or anxious, the temperature can be falsely elevated. If your pet has just woken up or needs to have a bowel movement, the temperature may be falsely low.

Respiratory rates (how many breaths are taken in 60 seconds) should be obtained when the pet is awake. During sleep, they can experience rapid or slow breathing, twitching, snorting, and other normal behaviors that will make it difficult to get an accurate respiratory rate. Make sure your pet is relaxed and not panting. To obtain a heart rate (how many times the heart beats in 60 seconds), place your hand on the chest behind the point of the elbow, or inside the thigh on the femoral artery. 

Kit Contents 

In addition to the contact info, photos, and medications list, you will want to include a cone or ecollar that is already fitted to your pet. Place the cone on to prevent licking or chewing which will reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of infection. Ideally the hard plastic ones are best. Inflatable donuts to wear around the neck are an option as well, but they do not prevent the pet from reaching extremities. Include an old t-shirt to cover a wound or injury and a large towel. The towel can be used to provide pressure if bleeding, and can be rolled and wrapped around the neck to keep your pet from biting in the event that they are in pain. Consider packing a muzzle. Basket muzzles allow your pet to breath, pant, and drink while offering protection.  Roll gauze can be fastened into a temporary makeshift muzzle if needed. Include a slip leash for handling and a carrier for small pets. Your first aid supplies can be stored in the carrier as well. Some miscellaneous items to include are canned pumpkin. This is a fiber source that can help alleviate diarrhea, Pack Karo syrup in the event of low blood sugar, tweezers for tick or thorn extractions, and a 3 days supply of food and water.

Basic First Aid Care

Reverse sneezing, although scary, is often not an emergency, but a reflex due to irritation in the back of the throat. This can be temporarily resolved by getting your pet to swallow. Offer food or water. 

For superficial wounds, mild soap like Dawn dish soap, and water is all you need.Wash gently with clean cloth or rags. If a deeper wound or puncture is present, especially on the chest or abdomen, do not wash or flush as we do not know how deep these wounds go. 


If there is an eye problem, you can flush with OTC eye rinse. If the problem is not remedied after flushing, the eye is red, held shut, or hazy, more extensive vet care is needed. 

Some mild ear issues can be alleviated with ear cleansing. Use a canine specific ear cleaner. Ask your vet what product they recommend.  If you see redness, debris, or your pet is painful, they will need more care than just cleansing alone. 

Peroxide, although helpful for use in de-skunking baths, is a skin irritant. Do not apply to wounds. Also, peroxide is a gastric irritant and can cause vomiting when ingested. Never do this unless instructed by a veterinary professional as this could lead to esophageal burns, esophageal obstruction or gastric ulceration. Never use in cats!


Epsom salts can be used for mild inflammation especially for paws. You can soak a cloth in epsom salts and wrap around the affected area. 

Ice packs and warm compresses  can be used for pain control and to reduce inflammation. Always place a dry towel in between the skin and compress. Do not force your pet to accept heat or cold therapy as we could be causing more harm. Allow them to move away if they chose.

Rest is best for injury. Do not use OTC pain medication for your pets. They are unsafe and could be toxic. Also do not use aspirin. It is not effective at reducing pain and inflammation, it causes stomach ulceration, and prevents vets from using effective meds. 

In the event of bleeding, use non-stick, non adherent telfa pads. Apply pressure with a towel on top of the pad. Do not bandage as there are often complications if not applied correctly, such as more pain, inflammation, and increases the chance of infection. Include nail trimmers and styptic powder, flour, or cornstarch in the event of a broken nail. 


Itching can be alleviated by applying a cool compress and wiping feet with cool damp washcloth after being outside. Include in your kit itch spray and calming shampoo. Your vet may have recommendations on what products to use. 

Heatstroke occurs commonly in spring and summer months. Dogs will become weak, may vomit or collapse. Keep pets in cool shaded areas. Check the temp if you are concerned. Do not delay care in this situation, have them seen right away! If this is not possible, place cool water on the body, but remove right away and repeat.  Spray alcohol on paw pads as well to remove heat from body

If your pet ingests a toxin, try your best to estimate when it happened, how much was ingested, and what the ingredients were. Poison control or your vet will be better able to help you and your pet with the more info you can provide. 



At AskVet, we know that every pet has its own personality and unique set of needs, which will continually evolve over time. We’re here to help you evolve with them. We use 360° Wellness Plans to help guide you through every stage of your pet’s life—and we’re with you every step of the way.


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Common Pet Toxins In and Out of the House

Little grey cute cat sits on a branch of blue grapes

Welcome to the Askvet Webinar Series where our doctors and veterinary professionals present relevant information and discuss important pet topics. Join our live streams to learn how you, your dogs, and your cats can live your best lives! 

When we think about pet poison and toxins, we envision chemicals and cleaners. While these substances can cause trouble for our furry friends, so can fruits, veggies, and plants!  Did you know that grapes, bread dough, essential oils, dryer sheets, and Sago Palm plants can cause devastating effects to our dogs and cats if ingested?  In this webinar, Dr. Marks speaks about these common household toxins, symptoms your pet may experience if ingested, and what to do in the event of a toxicity. Tune in below to learn more about keeping your pets safe and toxin free!

Canine HouseHold Toxicities

Common toxicities in dogs include Poinsettia plants ingestion, Chocolate, Xylitol, Grapes and Raisins, Over-The-Counter and Prescription Medications, as well as batteries. Some cause more devastating effects than others. For instance, Poinsettias, if ingested, can cause mild vomiting and diarrhea which usually will resolve with time and does not require ER care. Xylitol, however, can be life-threatening if consumed in tiny amounts. Xylitol is a sugar-free substitute found in food products as well as gum, mouthwash, toothpaste, and drink powders. A dog that has eaten a xylitol containing substance, may experience vomiting, stumbling, low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, and possible coma. 

Other toxins are dose dependent meaning the amount of substance ingested and the size of the dog will determine the severity of the effect. Chocolate, for example, has varying degrees of potency. Semi-sweet, dark chocolate, and cocoa powder are the most powerful chocolate products. A small chihuahua that eats 2 oz of dark chocolate could have heart abnormalities, seizures, and suffer fatal consequences, whereas a Great Dane that consumes the same amount may have no symptoms at all. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure, but the severity of symptoms greatly varies among dogs regardless of dog size. 

OTC and prescription products made up a bulk of calls made to Pet Poison Helpline. 17% of  inquiries were about acetaminophen and ibuprofen while 15% were in regards to topical creams, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and cardiac meds. Make sure to keep your medications in a high, locked cabinet. 

In the event of toxic ingestion, one route of treatment your vet may recommend is to induce vomiting. While this may be safe with some toxic ingestions, the symptoms can worsen with other substances, such as with batteries. The material inside the battery is corrosive and can burn the mouth, esophagus, and internal organs if the pet vomits after eating a battery. 


Feline HouseHold Toxicities

Common toxicities in cats include Lily plant ingestion, Antifreeze, Rodenticide, Garlic and Onions, and Household Products and Cleaners. Although Lillies are gorgeous flowers, all parts of the plant are toxic and can cause irreversible kidney damage. Never have a lily in your home if you have a cat. 


While some toxins have immediate effects, some toxins have a delayed response, meaning your pet will not be sick until days after exposure like with Antifreeze, rodenticide, and garlic and onions making it so important to prevent exposure in your pet. Antifreeze, or ethylene glycol, can cause difficulty walking, increased thirst and urination, along with changes in the nervous system, heart, and kidneys. Check for puddles in your garage and driveway routinely. Rodenticide, mouse and rat killer, are often pink or blue pelleted products that are baited with yummy attractants. This toxin prevents clotting if ingested. Garlic and onions, while a common food staple for people, cause severe anemia, weakness, and pale gums. When cooking or earring garlic and onions, do not leave food unattended. 


Other Household Pet Toxicities:

Household items such as essential oils, bleach, jade plants, sago palms, rhododendron, raw eggs, and alcohol should not be accessible to your pet. Additionally, household products and cleaners like paint, spackle, home improvement materials, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, carpet fresheners, and swiffer wet jets should be stored safely and out of your pet’s reach. 


Toxic Exposure

In event of toxic exposure

  1. Remove your pet from the area.
  2. Check for breathing. 
  3. Do not give at home anecdotes as this could worsen symptoms and delay care.
  4. Do not induce vomiting unless Pet Poison Helpline, ASPCA Animal Poison Control, or your veterinarian has instructed you to do so. 
  5. Know your local ER location and number.


At AskVet, we know that every pet has its own personality and unique set of needs, which will continually evolve over time. We’re here to help you evolve with them. We use Personalized Pet Plans to help guide you through every stage of your pet’s life—and we’re with you every step of the way.

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Treatment and Monitoring of Diabetes in Cats

Diabetes in cats

Written by: Allison Ward

Has your cat been diagnosed with diabetes? Are you waiting for lab results and wondering what your vet will recommend if your cat IS diagnosed with diabetes? Or—have you had a diabetic cat for years, and are wondering how to treat diabetes in cats and ensure your cat is as healthy as she can be? You’ve come to the right place! 

Diabetes in cats is an increasingly common diagnosis. Most diabetic cats are overweight, and show signs of diabetes in cats prior to labwork confirming the disease. This labwork usually includes blood testing showing elevated levels of blood glucose, urine testing that shows sugar being lost into your cat’s urine, and possibly a fructosamine test to see what your cat’s average blood sugar has been over the past several weeks. 

There are two important aspects of treating cats who are diagnosed with diabetes mellitus: feeding an appropriate low-carbohydrate diet, and administering insulin injections every 12 to 24 hours, depending on your veterinarian’s instructions. 

AskVet Tip: It’s useful to think about insulin and blood sugar (glucose) levels as a seesaw—when one goes up, the other goes down! After meals, blood sugar spikes and a healthy pancreas releases insulin, which works to bring blood sugar down. When you are giving your cat insulin injections, the insulin will ALWAYS lower the blood sugar. 

Insulin Injections

Since cats with diabetes cannot release enough insulin to effectively lower their blood sugar, or may have developed insulin resistance (where the body’s cells don’t “listen” to the insulin), it is necessary to give diabetic cats extra insulin. This is provided by insulin injections. Administering insulin is always a bit of a trial and error process – all cats respond very differently to insulin! Avoiding hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood sugar from too much insulin) is just as important as addressing that hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Sometimes it takes several months and vet visits to hone in on an effective dose for your kitty! 

AskVet Tip: We know that many pet parents are intimidated when asked to give injections to their cats. Fortunately, there are many videos available online from YouTube and veterinary hospital websites that show you how to safely and consistently give insulin injections. We promise that, after establishing a routine, giving insulin shots will be “no big deal” to either you or your cat!

If your cat is newly diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian will schedule an appointment for a lesson in how to measure and administer insulin injections. Different types of insulin have different methods of handling, so it’s important to pay attention to ALL of the instructions offered and to ask questions—and even take notes!—during this appointment. 

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Types of Insulin

There are several insulin options for diabetic cats. Different types of insulin last for different lengths of time in the body, and may be labeled as long-acting, medium-acting, or mixed. 

Most cats are started on insulin injections every 12 hours, so pick an injection time that will be the easiest to commit to being home with your cat on a consistent basis.

Over time, your cat’s insulin dose and even insulin type may be changed by your veterinarian based on your cat’s response and overall health status. Most cats do best on long-acting insulin known as glargine (brand name Lantus), but some cats do better on different insulin (Vetsulin, ProZinc, Humulin-N). Since different types of insulin work different ways in the body, it is essential to NEVER CHANGE THE TYPE OR DOSE OR TYPE OF INSULIN UNLESS IT IS ON THE DIRECT ADVICE OF YOUR VETERINARIAN. 

In addition, it is important to always keep in mind the see-saw relationship of glucose and insulin. Insulin will ALWAYS lower blood sugar. If your cat is not eating well, make sure to adjust the dose of insulin as directed by your veterinarian. This is a great topic to discuss at your training session for insulin injections! 

If your cat is not eating, or if she skips a meal, make sure to let your veterinarian know and/or reduce the amount of insulin you give. Always keep in mind if your cat has not eaten and you administer the regular dose of insulin their blood sugar may  dip dangerously low  putting them at risk of seizures, coma, and even death. (A typical recommendation is that, if your cat refuses a meal, only give half the prescribed normal volume of insulin.) 

All of this may sound scary, and the caretaking of a diabetic animal requires a diligent and educated cat guardian. Fortunately, you’re in the right place with support from your family veterinarian and your AskVet Care Team! 

Diets for Diabetic Cats

You probably know that cats are hunters at heart! They have evolved to eat several small, protein-heavy meals throughout the day. In the “wild,” this means frequent meals of songbirds, lizards, rodents, and other small animals. You can imagine that this “wild” cat diet contains very few carbohydrates—and you would be right! 

When any animal ingests carbohydrates, the blood sugar levels rise, causing a release of insulin from the pancreas. In diabetic cats, there is usually not enough insulin in the pancreas to effectively lower the blood sugar, leading to sustained high blood glucose levels. 

In order to maintain normal blood sugar levels, diabetic cats need extra insulin (in the form of injections), AND a  reduction of  dietary carbohydrates responsible for those  spikes in blood sugar. In cats with diabetes, a diet low in carbohydrates is essential in order to achieve blood sugar control. Note that this does not mean “no carbohydrates at all”—a small amount of carbohydrates in the correct ratio to protein is also very important. In other words, cats can’t survive by protein alone! 

High Protein Low Carb Diet

If you’ve read about the pros and cons of wet food vs dry for cats, , you already know that dry cat food automatically contains significantly more carbohydrates than wet food. This is due to how the kibble shape is formed and the ingredients stuck together. Dry food is RARELY an optimal diet for diabetic cats because of the inherently high ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Instead, a high-protein, low-carb canned food is the healthiest option for almost all diabetic cats. 

Fortunately, there are some prescription foods that are made specifically for the needs of diabetic cats and that maximize the chances of your cat achieving remission of her diabetes (see details on remission later). These include Purina Veterinary Diets DM, Royal Canin Glycobalance, Hill’s Science Diet m/d, and Hill’s Science Diet w/d. If feeding a prescription food is outside of your budget, ask your veterinarian for low-carbohydrate over-the-counter canned foods that might be appropriate for your diabetic cat. 

How often should you feed your diabetic cat? 

There is no easy answer to this question! Giving an insulin injection will lower your cat’s blood sugar (see below), even if they have not eaten in a while. 

Many veterinarians recommend feeding diabetic cats twice daily, immediately prior to insulin injections—so that we can be sure the insulin will not cause dangerously low blood sugar levels. (Remember, if a cat eats a meal, the blood sugar will always increase!) 

However, for stable and otherwise healthy diabetic cat patients, feeding multiple times per day may help keep blood sugar levels more consistent over a 24-hour period. The safest course of action is to ask your family veterinarian what he or she recommends for your individual cat.

Monitoring Signs of Diabetes at Home

There are several methods your veterinarian may use to monitor your diabetic cat’s overall health and response to current diet and insulin administration. At home, monitoring your cat’s urination, appetite, and body weight are fantastic ways for you to keep track of improvements in your cat’s health, or the potential need for changing treatment plans! 

Smaller clumps in the Box

Prior to your cat’s diagnosis of diabetes, you may have noticed that your cat is “flooding” the litterbox, with larger and more frequent clumps of urine. As your cat starts to respond to insulin injections and diet changes, these clumps should become smaller and less frequent. Also, you will hopefully notice that your cat’s thirst levels decrease, and that you are filling the water bowl or water fountain less frequently than before. However, if you notice MORE urine in the litterbox, or if your cat is drinking MORE, it’s time to call your vet—a change may be needed! 

Gain Muscle Mass

Weighing your cat every week or two can help, too. Some diabetic cats start out overweight, and weight loss is expected and desired as we treat the underlying diabetes mellitus. However, some cats are diagnosed with diabetes after losing a significant amount of weight—and for these cats, weight GAIN (in the form of lean muscle mass) is desired. 

An infant scale can be used at home to keep track of changes in your cat’s body weight, and your veterinarian can guide you as to the goals for your individual kitty. 

Home Monitoring of Blood Glucose (Blood Sugar)

Did you know that you can monitor your cat’s blood sugar at home? You may be used to human diabetic friends pricking their finger frequently to check their blood sugar using a handheld device called a “glucometer.” 


While human glucometers are not accurate for cats, there are veterinary specific glucometers that ARE accurate—and can even be ordered online, through Amazon and other online retailers. (A favorite brand among many veterinarians is the Alpha Trak 2.) Your veterinarian can teach you how to gently prick the skin of your cat’s ear tip, paw pad, or other location in order to get a drop of blood for instant testing at home. 

Being able to test blood sugar at home is an excellent tool to have in a cat owner’s diabetic kitty parent toolbox. If your cat is showing symptoms of low blood sugar (like being lethargic, weak, “spaced out,” or not responding), you can immediately check their blood sugar to know if you should smear syrup on their gums and take them to the hospital, or if there is something else going on. 

Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)

Nowadays, there is an even more convenient way to monitor your cat’s blood sugar at home: a continuous glucose monitor (CGM)! These are small sensors that are temporarily attached to your cat’s skin, and allow you to use a smartphone to scan and reveal your cat’s blood sugar immediately—without a pinprick! 

In addition, these devices store hours of blood sugar information at a time, and can be used by both you and your veterinarian to track your cat’s response to treatment, and to evaluate whether remission has occurred. Often, these devices are attached during a short veterinary visit, and your veterinarian can monitor your cat’s blood sugar levels remotely, thanks to the cloud! 

Blood Glucose Monitoring by the Veterinary Team

Your veterinarian will establish how often your cat should be rechecked at the veterinary office, and what tests are needed to check for diabetes regulation, as well as any complications from diabetes. At the initial diagnosis, it can take some time – one to two months or longer – for the best insulin dosing regimen to be determined. During this time, close monitoring of the blood glucose and any diabetes symptoms are essential. 

Fructosamine Level Test

Your veterinarian might recommend a  blood test called a fructosamine level test to see what your cat’s average blood sugar level has been over the previous several weeks. However, a fructosamine level has limitations and does NOT give any indication as to whether blood glucose peaks are too high, if they last too long, or if your cat’s blood sugar levels dip dangerously low throughout the day. 

Home Glucose Curve

To better inform the selection of your cat’s insulin dosage and type, it is necessary to evaluate your cat’s blood glucose level throughout the day. This is traditionally done by performing a “glucose curve” test. The glucose curve is an all-day test, where blood samples are taken prior to receiving insulin and eating, and then every hour or two afterwards—ideally until the next dose of insulin is due twelve hours later. 

Glucose Curve at the Veterinary Hospital

If a cat parent is comfortable using a glucometer at home (such as the Alpha Trak—see above!), then you may perform this test at home and your veterinarian will interpret the results and evaluate your cat’s current plan for any changes that are needed. Blood sugar levels are more accurate in cats when they are relaxed and in their home environment! 

However, for cats who are not amenable to home blood sugar testing, your vet may recommend making a drop-off appointment to spend the whole day at the clinic for the veterinary team to obtain samples. 

For veterinarians and cat parents who are comfortable using the CGM technology that we discussed earlier, these devices can be an excellent substitute for glucose curves. However, sometimes, a traditional glucose curve is needed if there are concerns about accuracy of the CGM readings.  

Monitor Other Issues and Potential Diabetes Complications

Aside from blood sugar monitoring, it is also important to watch for other issues and potential diabetes complications, too! For example, since bacteria thrive in urine when glucose is present,  samples may be taken for a urine culture to check for a urinary tract infection. Since these are so common in diabetic cats, urine cultures may be recommended every three to six months as well. 

Did you know that high blood pressure can be seen in diabetic cats, just like diabetic people? Your veterinarian may recommend screening your kitty for this problem by measuring a blood pressure at the time of diagnosis, and rechecking their blood pressure every three to six months. 

Additional bloodwork to evaluate the health of other internal organs such as the liver and kidneys will also be recommended at a schedule unique to your precious purrbox. Diabetes can have effects on many organs in the body, and problems elsewhere can affect your cat’s blood sugar levels and response to insulin. A full picture of your cat’s health is obtained by evaluating bloodwork, urine testing, and blood pressure! 

A Word About Diabetic Remission in Cats

Since most cats have type II diabetes (diabetes mellitus) , there is a good chance of REVERSING your cat’s diabetes! This is known as diabetic remission, and has been reported in 25-50% of all newly-diagnosed diabetic cats. Cats in remission from diabetes no longer need insulin injections, and are considered “cured” from diabetes—however, they are at risk of developing diabetes again at any point in the future.

Every cat parent wants their diabetic kitty to be one of the lucky ones who go into remission! Our chances of achieving remission are maximized by:

       – Early diagnosis (this means having your cat checked by a veterinarian as soon as common signs of diabetes in cats  are noticed!)

      – Proper diabetic cat diet (low-carb and high in protein—ideally a prescription diabetic cat diet)

      – Using the best-quality insulin for your cat (which is often glargine—a more expensive type of insulin, but which may save you money in the long term!) 

Cats who are going into remission will have blood sugar levels that drop dangerously low with insulin injections. Signs of low blood glucose include weakness, sleepiness, lack of appetite, seizures, and having an altered mental status. If you notice ANY of these symptoms, it is an emergency and your cat should have its blood sugar checked immediately (either at home, or by an emergency hospital), and you should smear syrup on their gums if you suspect this condition.

A cat can go into remission from diabetes at any time, but it most commonly occurs within the first six months of starting treatment. 

The Bottom Line

As the proud parent of a diabetic cat, we want you to feel confident in your kitty’s care! There are important tools you can use at home to monitor your cat’s response to treatment, as well as regular rechecks as directed by your veterinarian. At AskVet, we are here to help answer your questions about treating diabetes in cats, as well as help you with tips and tricks to make life easier for both of you! Feel free to chat in with our veterinarians 24/7 for all of your diabetic cat questions—all you have to do is Ask Vet.  


Written by:

Allison Ward, DVM

Dr. Allison Ward grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and started working in veterinary hospitals when she was 14 years old. After graduating from veterinary school in 2011, she completed a small animal rotating internship in New Jersey, followed by a neurology/neurosurgery internship in Miami. After completing this advanced training, Dr. Ward then moved on to general small animal practice. Dr. Ward’s professional interests include feline medicine, neurology, and pain management. Her passion for educating pet owners carries over into her work with AskVet, and she loves being able to help pets and their parents at all times of the day (and night!). She currently resides in sunny south Florida with her two cats, Larry and George.

Signs of Diabetes in Cats

sick cat

Written by: Allison Ward

Some cat owners are surprised to learn that cats can indeed develop diabetes! Just like humans, cats can develop what is referred to as Type 2 Diabetes—and it often comes from a life of leisure and consuming high-calorie foods. How can you tell if your feline friend might be suffering from this condition, and what can you do to minimize his risk? Read on to find out more about diabetes in cats! 

What IS Diabetes, Anyway?

To understand why certain symptoms develop when a cat is sick with diabetes, it’s important to understand the basics of diabetes and its effects on a cat’s body. You may recall from high school biology that bodies use a form of sugar, called glucose, as fuel in order to function properly. When your kitty eats her food, your cat’s body breaks down the food into smaller pieces—some of which are glucose. 

This glucose enters the bloodstream, where it is either used right away (more on that later!), or stored in the liver in a form known as glycogen. The liver can break down glycogen in the absence of food and put more glucose into the bloodstream to be used as cellular energy as needed. 

How Does Insulin Help the Body?

When the blood glucose level rises, certain specialized cells in the pancreas are called into action to release insulin. Insulin is actually a hormone that optimizes a body’s use of glucose energy in many ways. In the bloodstream, insulin escorts glucose into each cell so that the cell can utilize it to perform its own specialized job (whether the cell is a brain cell, kidney cell, intestinal cell….you get the idea!). 

In the liver, insulin tells the cells to store glucose in the form of glycogen for the body to use later—and it tells the liver to stop breaking down glycogen in order to prevent excess glucose from being released into the bloodstream. 

It’s helpful to think of insulin and the glucose level in the bloodstream as having an inverse relationship: as insulin levels go up, blood sugar (glucose) goes down, and as insulin levels go down, the blood sugar level goes up. The body is constantly optimizing the balance of insulin, glucose, and glycogen all day long, 24/7/365! 

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How Are Cats Affected by Diabetes?

Cats who develop diabetes are most often suffering from Type 2 diabetes—the same type that we associate with humans acquiring later on in life. In type 2 diabetes, either the cells in the pancreas responsible for releasing insulin aren’t working very well, or cells everywhere else in the body no longer “listen” to the insulin (this is called “insulin resistance”). We know that excess weight and obesity leads to lower sensitivity to insulin, so most of these patients have been significantly overweight for quite a while. 

Sometimes the pancreatic cells are not releasing enough insulin AND there is insulin resistance! In these patients, the end result is that the body has a hard time getting glucose into the cells to use as energy. What happens to all of that increased glucose that isn’t being used or stored by the body? Well, after the glucose is at a high enough level in the bloodstream, the body starts peeing out the extra glucose—leading to the most common sign of diabetes in cats: increased urination and increased thirst. 

What does the body do for energy if it can’t utilize the glucose flowing throughout the bloodstream? It starts breaking down muscle and fat in a desperate attempt to release other, less efficient, energy sources. Breaking down muscle and fat leads to the second most-common sign of diabetes in cats: weight loss and muscle loss!

Signs of Diabetes in Cats

Increased Thirst and Urination

Healthy cats typically urinate between one and three times per day. If your cat is suddenly urinating more frequently, or urinating and causing huge clumps in the litterbox due to increased urine volume, then please schedule a vet visit as soon as possible! 

Cats with diabetes are losing tremendous amounts of glucose through the urine since the body can’t handle the high levels of sugar in the bloodstream. Glucose is a big molecule, and when glucose is passed into the bladder, lots of water has to come with it in order to balance things out in the body. This occurs whether or not your cat is taking in enough water by mouth, so you will notice your cat drinking more water and always seeming thirsty! 

Some cats who are excessively thirsty due to diabetes seek out water by drinking from toilets or sticking their nose into their human’s water glasses. However, because so much water is leaving their body in the form of sugary urine, they never seem to satisfy their thirst—no matter how much they drink. 

Loss of Muscle

Since cats with diabetes cannot properly use the glucose contained in their food, their body begins to break down muscle and fat to release less-efficient energy sources. While muscle and fat can provide enough energy to survive for a short period of time, this also leads to the buildup of toxic by-products in the bloodstream called ketones—which is why the body typically does not rely on this method of energy production! As a cat parent, you may notice your diabetic cat losing muscle, and the bones in her hips or spine may feel more prominent than usual. 

Difficulty Walking

In some diabetic cats, the first complaint noticed by their pet parent is actually difficulty walking. Why is this? Well, nerve cells use glucose just like the cells throughout the rest of the body. If nerve cells cannot get glucose inside of them, then they stop working properly and can no longer coordinate movement with the muscles. 

The longest nerves in the body which go to the rear limbs are usually the first to be affected by this condition, called a peripheral neuropathy. Glucose-starved nerves can’t contact leg muscles strongly enough to maintain a cat’s posture, and they begin walking with their ankles on the ground and having difficulty jumping, navigating stairs, and even getting into and out of the litterbox. 

General Signs of Illness

Cats are famous for hiding clinical signs and symptoms of illness until they are significantly sick, but some subtle clues that your kitty isn’t feeling her best can also potentially indicate she may be suffering from feline diabetes. 

Without glucose to use as energy:

    • Cats often feel lousy and will be hiding more often
    • They may act less social 
    • Cats may feel nauseated or not want to eat because of the buildup of byproducts from breaking down muscle (diabetic ketoacidosis) 
    • They may get tired much more easily than usual. 

The Bottom Line

As you can see, feline diabetes is an illness that affects the entire body and can cause multiple different symptoms! If you think your cat has feline diabetes mellitus and are wondering how to treat diabetes in cats, chat in with our AskVet veterinarians to see if your cat needs to be evaluated on an emergency basis, or if you can schedule an appointment with your family veterinarian in less-urgent circumstances. We are always here if you have questions about cat diabetes, or any other concerns you may have! Chat in with us 24/7 for all of your pet health needs. 

Written by:

Allison Ward, DVM

Dr. Allison Ward grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and started working in veterinary hospitals when she was 14 years old. After graduating from veterinary school in 2011, she completed a small animal rotating internship in New Jersey, followed by a neurology/neurosurgery internship in Miami. After completing this advanced training, Dr. Ward then moved on to general small animal practice. Dr. Ward’s professional interests include feline medicine, neurology, and pain management. Her passion for educating pet owners carries over into her work with AskVet, and she loves being able to help pets and their parents at all times of the day (and night!). She currently resides in sunny south Florida with her two cats, Larry and George.

Spaying and Neutering Dogs and Cats

spaying and nurturing

Are you wondering when is the right time to spay or neuter your dog or cat? Pet parents always have many questions surrounding spaying and neutering so let’s look at some basics to put your mind at ease!  

What Does it Mean to Spay or Neuter?

Both the spay and neuter procedures involve removing the reproductive organs responsible for creating more puppies and kittens! Spaying a female dog or cat is also known as an “ovariohysterectomy” (OVH) or “ovariectomy” (OVE). In the female dog or cat, these procedures remove the ovaries, with or without removal of the uterus, so she can no longer have heat cycles or become pregnant. Neutering, aka “castration”, involves removing both testicles from a male dog or cat.

Why Spay or Neuter?

Spay and neuter procedures have both obvious and lesser-known benefits. To state the obvious – removing the reproductive organs eliminates accidental breeding and the addition of litters of puppies and kittens to the already overflowing population of pets that need homes. Plus, no need to worry about cleaning up after that messy heat cycle that occurs every 6 months for female dogs!

Regarding the lesser-known benefits – spaying and neutering can provide pets with longer healthier lives! In female dogs and cats, spaying will protect from developing mammary (breast) cancer as well as a very serious and life-threatening hormone-based uterine infection called “pyometra”.

Neutering keeps male dogs safe by decreasing their desire to roam the neighborhood in search of a mate. In-tact (non-neutered) dogs are frequent flyers at veterinary emergency hospitals because they’ve escaped and been hit by a car or engaged in a dog fight causing serious injury. Also, due to the decrease in hormones due to the absence of testicles, neutered male dogs and cats may also be less likely to exhibit other undesirable “male” behaviors like urine marking/spraying, and some aggressive tendencies (however, some of these are learned behaviors and may not be affected). Also, the incidence of testicular cancer is eliminated in neutered male dogs, and diseases of the prostate are also decreased.

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What Age Is Best to Spay or Neuter a Puppy and Kitten?

The appropriate time to spay or neuter your puppy is a great conversation to have with your veterinarian due to the factors involved – the pet and family’s lifestyle, breed, and projected adult size. Most animal shelters and rescue organizations will alter their adoptees before they are placed in new homes, which can be as young as 8 weeks of age. Otherwise, the current AAHA guideline is to spay or neuter small breed dogs prior to their first heat cycle, which corresponds to about 6-8 months of age. For large breed dogs like Golden Retrievers, Labs, German Shepherds, and Rotties, there are some newer recommendations to wait until they are skeletally mature, which occurs around 1-1.5 years old. Why? Since large breed dogs mature later than small breeds, the latest research has shown that allowing a longer timeframe for growth and waiting to spay or neuter may decrease the incidence of certain cancers, orthopedic issues, and urinary incontinence. These issues do not affect small breed dogs like they do their larger friends.

For cats, spaying and neutering before maturity is recommended at approximately 5-6 months of age for both males and females.

Is Anesthesia and Pain Medication Dangerous?

Anesthesia and pain medication ensure that your pet is the most comfortable they can be before, during, and after the procedure. Since there is some inherent risk associated with anesthesia, your veterinarian will do their best to create the safest environment for your pet through a variety of measures like a physical exam, blood testing, checking vital signs throughout, and administering fluids. Pain and anti-inflammatory medications are sent home for several days following the procedure to ensure for the most comfortable and swift recovery period. Ultimately, the benefits of spaying and neutering outweigh the risks, and with safety precautions in place your pet’s health and best interests are always a priority.

How About That Recovery Period?

Just like humans, dogs and cats need some time to relax and heal after surgery! On average the full recovery time after a spay and neuter is about 10-14 days. During this time, it is recommended that they rest as much as possible, with no running or jumping. Some dogs and cats are very compliant patients, and others are ready to resume their normal active lives the very next day! Beware that your dog or cat’s movements will tug and pull at the sutures holding the incision together, possibly causing them to tear and open! Also, excess bleeding and swelling can accompany too much activity and complicate healing.

Keeping your dog or cat from licking and chewing that incision is critical too. They can quickly and easily dislodge the layers of sutures and cause serious injury to the area. The Elizabethan collar, aka the “cone of shame” is the most effective device to keep them from licking the area.

If your pet is not handling the recovery period well, communicate with your veterinarian for their recommendations and advice.

Our AskVet Veterinarians are available to discuss all of your pet’s needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether you have an immediate need or are looking to improve your pet’s overall wellbeing, just sign into your account and one of our friendly and knowledgeable veterinary experts will attend to your needs, no appointment required!


Written by:

Alexa Waltz, DVM

Dr. Waltz was raised near the beaches of Southern California but has spent her adult life living all over the beautiful United States while serving in the military and as a military spouse. She left California for the first time to pursue a career as a veterinarian at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine and graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. She was accepted into the US Army Health Professionals Scholarship Program during vet school and upon graduation spent her military years as a veterinarian in San Diego working for the US Marine Corps and US Navy Military Working Dog programs as well as caring for pets of service members. After her military service, she became a civilian veterinarian and continued as a small animal general practitioner at clinics in California, Rhode Island, Colorado, and Maryland. Dr Waltz loves to see her “in person” patients just as much as communicating with and assisting pet parents virtually on AskVet. Dr Waltz is also a Mom to 3 humans, 2 guinea pigs, and 1 Australian Shepherd and in her spare time she loves traveling, adventures, exercising, and doing just about anything out in nature!


Signs of Diabetes in Dogs

diabetes in dogs

Written by: Alexa Waltz

Signs of Diabetes in Dogs

Diabetes is a hot topic in human andanimal health. Most people have some understanding of this serious condition because a family member, friend, acquaintance, or maybe even a family pet is living with diabetes.

Are you suspecting that your pup may have diabetes, or just want to learn more about your dog’s recent diagnosis? Keep reading for a discussion of what diabetes in dogs is all about.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is an endocrine disease that can affect dogs and involves a peculiar little organ called the pancreas. The pancreas lives in the abdomen and is tucked up near the stomach and intestines. A healthy pancreas is essential to digestion and glucose metabolism in the body.

You may recall that glucose is what the body uses for energy in all of its organs. Problems start to occur if the amount of glucose in the bloodstream is too high or too low. You may also hear glucose referred to as “blood sugar.”

Glucose is present in foods that we eat and is the predominant energy source for the brain, muscles, nerves, and all organs. Think of glucose as the best fuel that our cells use to perform ALL their functions! The process of how glucose is digested, stored, released, and absorbed is complicated, but understanding how glucose works is key to understanding diabetes.

How Does the Pancreas Regulate Glucose?

The pancreas plays an essential role in making sure glucose levels in the body are optimal and safe to keep everything working in tip-top shape. Let’s really get into the science of digestion and how important glucose is in the body.

During digestion, foods are broken down by the stomach and intestines into tiny molecules of glucose, fat, water, vitamins, minerals, and proteins. These molecules are tiny enough to be absorbed across the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream, where they circulate around the body, waiting to be used by cells or stored for later within the organs. The body needs and uses all types of different molecules to carry out the functions of our vital organs in order to sustain life.

After digesting a meal, you can imagine that the glucose level circulating around in the blood increases, looking to either be used by the body or stored away for later. The pancreas has specialized “beta cells” that detect glucose levels in the bloodstream. When the glucose level in the bloodstream is too high, the beta cells secrete a hormone called insulin.

What Does Insulin Do?

Insulin is released into the bloodstream and attaches to the surface of cells, allowing glucose to enter into the cell and be used as energy. Once inside, glucose powers all of the cellular processes. Brain cells have the highest energy demand in the body and NEED glucose to function, same with kidney cells, skin cells, and muscle cells … ALL of your body’s cells need glucose inside of them to function.

In short, insulin can be thought of as the key that opens a cell’s door to the essential energy source called glucose. Without insulin, glucose flows through the bloodstream, unused. Meanwhile, the cells are deprived of fuel and have to find alternative and less effective energy sources to keep carrying on with life itself.

How Diabetes Functions

Damage to the beta cells of the pancreas means that the ability to detect glucose levels and secrete insulin is impaired. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream but all of the cells and organs in the body begin to starve. This is exactly what happens in patients with diabetes.

There may be plenty of glucose available in the bloodstream, but it is not accessible to the cells because it can’t get inside of them. In this state of glucose starvation, the body desperately looks for another energy source, which is fat.

Fat is much less efficient as a fuel for the body, and, unfortunately, byproducts of fat breakdown called “ketones” build up in the bloodstream. Ketones are very harmful in that they lower the blood pH, becoming more acidic.

Diabetes most often affects middle-aged to older dogs, and some breeds have a higher incidence of occurrence. The commonly affected breeds are Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Pomeranians, Terriers, Keeshonds, Miniature Schnauzers, Samoyeds, Poodles, and Labrador Retrievers.

What Is Type I Diabetes?

The above process is referred to as “Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (aka “Type I” or “juvenile diabetes” in humans) and is the most common type of diabetes in dogs. Scientists aren’t quite sure yet about what destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, but immune-mediated causes, recurrent pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease, and genetics are the likely culprits.

What Is Type II Diabetes?

Type II diabetes or “non-insulin-dependent diabetes” is also a chronic condition. It occurs either when a pancreas stops producing enough insulin or the body doesn’t respond well to insulin (insulin resistance) In the latter case, the liver, fat, and muscles struggle to pull the glucose from the blood. Dogs rarely get Type II diabetes; it’s seen more commonly in cats.


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What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs?

While we certainly would love diabetes to be eradicated for every person and animal, it sadly will continue to be diagnosed in humans and animals alike. Detection and diagnosis is the only way for treatment to occur, so it is important to learn the clinical signs of diabetes so treatment can be started and your pup is back to living their wag-filled, happy life.

Increased Thirst and Urination

Increased thirst and urination are by far the most common symptoms noticed by pet parents preceding their dog’s diagnosis of canine diabetes. Your dog can start to experience excessive thirst (polydipsia) that causes them to drain their water bowl daily in record time.

Look for extra water sources around the house, like the toilet or puddles outside. Urine accidents in the house may be noticed, too, simply due to the increased volume of urine present and the urgency to potty (polyuria). Pet parents also may note an increased appetite, weight loss, and decreased muscle mass alongside the thirst and urination.

This loss in muscle mass, or a more “bony” appearance, is because of the body breaking down fat stores in order to maintain energy delivery to the cells in the absence of glucose.

Why Do Dogs Drink and Pee So Much With Diabetes?

In a healthy dog, the kidneys ensure that there is no glucose present in the urine. With diabetes, there is such a high level of glucose in the blood (4-5 times normal!) that it overwhelms normal kidney functions, and some of that extra glucose ends up in the urine.

That glucose will also drag with it quite a bit of fluid due to the osmotic gradient (fluid will naturally follow that dissolved glucose into the urine). This great fluid loss is what creates that huge volume of urine and, at the same time, makes your dog so dehydrated that their brain is begging them to drink more and more and more to compensate!

What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

Some dogs that experience extremely high blood glucose levels and an absence of insulin for an extended period may have a dangerous complication called Diabetic Ketoacidosis. This most commonly happens with patients who are pre-diagnosis, meaning they are not known to be diabetic yet. It can also happen in diabetic dogs that are not well-regulated with external insulin sources.

As mentioned earlier, that lack of insulin and the starvation of cells for energy will cause fat burning and the production of ketone bodies as a metabolic byproduct. Ketones are acidic, lower the pH of the blood, cause electrolyte imbalances, and disrupt cell functions — all very, very dangerous for overall body health.

These dogs will get very sick, stop eating and drinking, may vomit, may be panting or breathing abnormally deep, have low energy, and may have trouble walking and responding. It is extremely important that these dogs receive emergency care immediately, as this condition is life-threatening.

How Is Diabetes Diagnosed in Dogs?

Diabetes is usually a pretty straightforward diagnosis in dogs. A quick blood and urine test at your veterinary clinic should be able to indicate the presence of diabetes. The blood test will show hyperglycemia, aka increased blood glucose. Normal blood glucose levels for dogs are about 80-120 mg/dL, but diabetic dogs can be in the 500-600+ mg/dL range!

The urine test also will show glucosuria, aka glucose present in the urine. Normally, the kidney ensures there is no glucose in the urine, but when the circulating blood levels are above approximately 200 mg/dL, the kidneys will be overwhelmed, and glucose will spill into the urine as described above.

It is also very important to perform a urine culture looking for bacterial growth from a urine sample. Bladder infections are very common in diabetic dogs since glucose is present in their urine (and bacteria use glucose for energy, too!). Sometimes it is easy to miss a bladder infection on the urinalysis test alone since the urine is so dilute and the bacteria are spread so far apart, but the urine culture is a more sensitive test to check for the presence of bacteria.

Occasionally, the results of blood and urine testing are not convincing enough, and the numbers appear “borderline.” A special blood test called fructosamine can be sent to a lab to gather more info. This test is similar to the human “A1C” test and will indicate the average glucose levels present in the bloodstream over the previous few weeks. An elevated fructosamine can indicate the glucose has been elevated over a longer period of time.

Although diabetes is a serious diagnosis, your dog can still maintain their quality of life with careful monitoring and continued treatment.

How To Help Manage Your Dog’s Diabetes

Once diabetes has been confirmed in your pup, the adventure begins. Luckily, diabetes is very manageable in dogs, but it does take a devoted pet parent and close adherence to the plan you create with your vet. Luckily, we have many effective ways to manage and treat diabetes in dogs that result in your pup living their best life despite their diagnosis!

Insulin Treatment

The first step in treating your dog’s diabetes is to get their glucose under control with insulin therapy. Insulin helps to regulate blood sugar levels and keep your dog’s system from having too much sugar in the blood.

Under the guidance of your dog’s veterinarian, it may take several checkups to get the insulin levels just right, but your veterinarian will be focused on getting the perfect dosage for your dog.

Your veterinarian will also likely instruct you on methods of home monitoring, like a urine glucose test, to help monitor sugar and ketones while undergoing insulin treatment.

There are fast-acting and longer-acting insulin on the market, but dogs are typically prescribed a faster-acting insulin. Of course, this will be up to your veterinarian and which insulin type they believe will suit your dog the best. There are insulins marketed especially for pets, like Vetsulin and Humulin.

Usually, insulin is administered twice a day, every 12 hours, and after your dog eats. It is especially important to have a consistent routine for meal times and administering insulin. If meal times are drastically moved around, it can affect your dog’s blood sugar. It is also recommended to administer insulation after your dog eats because too much insulin can be harmful if it does not have any sugars to interact with.

An unbalanced or irregular diet could lead to hypoglycemia: dangerously low blood sugar levels. This is an emergency situation and requires an urgent visit to your DVM.

Insulin Administration

One of the key tasks that you’ll learn to help care for your diabetic dog is how to administer their insulin. Your veterinarian or the veterinary techs will teach you how to do this. It is totally normal to feel scared about doing this, but with practice and patience, you will become a pro at administering your dog’s daily insulin injections.

You’ll be instructed on how to fill the syringe with the proper insulin dose. Next, you’ll need to determine where the injection site will be. These injections are given just under the skin, and dogs typically respond well when the location is hear the shoulder blades or hip bones. Your veterinarian will instruct you to rotate the locations so that your dog doesn’t feel too sore from the same spot being used over and over again.

Once you have the location selected, you’ll pinch your dog’s skin and will insert the needle into the center of where your dog’s skin is folded. Gently push the plunger on the syringe down until all the insulin has been injected.

In the beginning, it may be smart to have a second pair of hands available to help. This helper can distract your dog with their favorite toy or a yummy piece of their favorite treat. Be sure to praise your dog after they receive their insulin injection. Pretty soon, it will become a regular part of your daily routine that you won’t think twice about.

Monitoring Diet

Along with insulin therapy, monitoring your dog’s diet is crucial to maintaining your dog’s glucose levels at a healthy threshold. What you give to your dog to eat as well as when you give it is important and must be carefully monitored.

When it comes to your dog’s diet, high fiber is recommended. Fiber helps your dog feel full but is lower in calories when compared to an equivalent amount of protein or carbohydrates. A low-fat diet is also recommended, as many dogs with diabetes may also experience health problems like heart issues or pancreatitis.

A low-fat diet is also helpful if your dog is overweight. Obesity can exacerbate diabetic symptoms, and slowly helping your dog lose some extra fluff can help you get a better handle on controlling their diabetes.

It can be tricky to ensure your dog receives the right amount of nutrients. Consult with your veterinarian or nutritionist to ensure that your pup gets all the necessary vitamins. There are several diabetic dog foods on the market, and one of them may be the perfect fit for your dog. Remember that treats need to be accounted for in your dog’s daily diet as well!

Consistent mealtimes are important, as your dog will need their insulin administered equal hours apart. Keeping a consistent schedule helps keep your dog’s glucose levels at a constant rate throughout the day.

Once you find the perfect food and insulin dosage for your dog, they will likely be back to feeling themselves again. Consistency is of utmost importance when it comes to a diabetic pet. It may be tempting to want to change their food, especially after eating the same thing day after day. Before making any changes, consult with your veterinarian to ensure that any changes are done slowly with careful monitoring.

Continued Monitoring with AskVet

Since diabetes is a lifelong condition, you’ll likely have plenty of questions about your dog’s diagnosis and continued treatment in between veterinarian visits. You may think to yourself that it would be so nice to have a resource where you can ask all your diabetes-related questions but not keep your veterinarian’s phone ringing off the hook. Enter AskVet!

For questions and further discussion on diabetes in dogs, your AskVet veterinarians are here to help! If you have any questions about your dog’s medical condition or are wondering whether your dog’s symptoms are an urgent issue, then all you have to do is AskVet. We are here 24/7 to help you and your dog!



Update on insulin treatment for dogs and cats: insulin dosing pens and more | PMC

Diabetes in Pets | American Veterinary Medical Association

Diabetes | MU Veterinary Health Center


Written by:

Alexa Waltz, DVM

Dr. Waltz was raised near the beaches of Southern California but has spent her adult life living all over the beautiful United States while serving in the military and as a military spouse. She left California for the first time to pursue a career as a veterinarian at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine and graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. She was accepted into the US Army Health Professionals Scholarship Program during vet school and upon graduation spent her military years as a veterinarian in San Diego working for the US Marine Corps and US Navy Military Working Dog programs as well as caring for pets of service members. After her military service, she became a civilian veterinarian and continued as a small animal general practitioner at clinics in California, Rhode Island, Colorado, and Maryland. Dr Waltz loves to see her “in person” patients just as much as communicating with and assisting pet parents virtually on AskVet. Dr Waltz is also a Mom to 3 humans, 2 guinea pigs, and 1 Australian Shepherd and in her spare time she loves traveling, adventures, exercising, and doing just about anything out in nature!

Home Remedies for Dog Vomiting

sick dog

Seeing their dog vomit is one of the most common reasons for pet parents to worry and seek veterinary care and advice. The act of vomiting is a reflex, and can be a symptom of a variety of medical issues. Vomiting can indicate a mild issue that may resolve all by itself, or it can be a symptom of a serious health problem. The causes of vomiting in dogs are so varied that the management and treatments need to be just as diverse! 

While one single isolated incident of vomiting may be no big deal, the worry sets in when a dog owner notices their pup vomiting repeatedly. When you see these signs, consider conducting a physical exam at home, possibly detecting other physical abnormalities like dehydration, pale gums, and a rapid heart rate — all indications that your sick dog might need veterinary assistance. 

Seeing your best buddy struggle in this way has pet owners wondering what they can do to help their poor vomiting dog feel better. Dog owners commonly ask, “Can I give Pepto Bismol and Tums? Do I take the food away? How long do I wait to seek veterinary care?” Since the cause of your dog’s vomiting remains unknown at the outset, veterinarians do not recommend giving any human over-the-counter medications, as these can further complicate or mask the underlying causes of the nausea and vomiting. There are some approaches at home that you can try, but ONLY if your dog seems to be otherwise stable and generally acting like his normal self.

AskVet Tip: Any vomiting dog that is also acting lethargic, not eating or drinking, or having diarrhea (with or without blood), is in need of urgent care. In addition, if pet parents have knowledge of their dog’s exposure to a potentially toxic substance, have witnessed or is suspecting that their pup may have eaten an object or toy that could cause a blockage in their dog’s stomach or intestines, or if a vomiting dog is on medication or has a chronic medical condition, please seek veterinary care immediately and contact AskVet or your family veterinarian urgently for advice.

What Can You Do At Home?

Dogs that have vomited a few times but are otherwise acting pretty normal, still have energy, and are interested in food and water may respond and benefit from some stomach-calming practices starting at home. Some dogs suffering from a mild and transient upset tummy may respond favorably and even recover over a short period of time! Always closely monitor them during this period and if symptoms do not improve, or even get worse, then to the vet you go!

AskVet Tip: Any young puppy that is vomiting has the potential to develop  hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or become dehydrated very quickly if their tiny bodies are deprived of the calories and fluids that are so important at this young age. It is recommended to seek veterinary care urgently for any small young puppy that is vomiting and not able to eat and drink so they can receive immediate treatment and support.

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Bilious Vomiting Syndrome

Sometimes puppies and senior dogs will experience some vomiting due to their stomach being empty for a prolonged period of time during the hours in between meals. This long period with no food allows stomach acid to build up and make your dog nauseous! If your dog suffers from this condition, you may see vomiting first thing in the morning before breakfast, or sometimes in the  late-afternoon, hours after the last meal. Dogs with bilious vomiting typically do not have any other symptoms of illness, have a good appetite, and are otherwise feeling fine. Since the stomach acids and bile are irritating their empty stomachs causing this vomiting, sometimes it helps to give them smaller meals more frequently; instead of 2 feedings a day, try to divide their food into 4 feedings and see if that helps! 

Resting the Stomach and Intestines

Dogs that are vomiting may be experiencing stomach and intestinal irritation, blockages, or other imbalances inside their bodies. If the issue is simply an upset stomach, continued feeding tends to perpetuate nausea and stomach irritation. Sometimes, a short period of time without food can help nausea subside and the stomach to calm down. Waiting several hours to reintroduce any food after the last vomiting episode may improve the situation. (Note: this may not be advisable for young puppies as mentioned above!)

The same principle can apply to water as well – while it is not recommended to withhold water completely, your nauseous dog may be inclined to rapidly gulp down bowls full of water and then return it all to the floor shortly after. Allowing your dog to drink small, controlled amounts of water and refilling the bowl periodically can help their body absorb the water more effectively. For more specific recommendations on how much water to allow your vomiting dog to drink, contact your AskVet veterinarian.

When might it be a good idea to introduce food again? Once some time has passed since the last episode of vomiting, try to see how your pup tolerates a small amount of a “bland diet”. Small frequent meals of a diet that is easily processed by the stomach and intestines are sometimes just enough to get your dog’s digestion back on track. 

AskVet Tip: For a bland and easily-digested diet, some veterinarians recommend boiling boneless skinless chicken breast/ground turkey/lean ground beef, absent of added salt or seasonings. With the cooked meat chopped into small pieces, combine with white rice in a 50/50 ratio. Start by feeding a very small amount initially – really just a taste –  since we want to avoid expanding the stomach and risk causing vomiting again. The amount fed initially depends on the size of the dog – offer a small dog just ½-1 tablespoon, and a large dog may tolerate ¼ cup. If your dog handles this amount favorably and it does not end up back on the floor in 1-2 hours, repeat the small feeding. Continue to feed small frequent meals through the day, and if well tolerated slowly increase the amount of food given.

If your dog is tolerating the small frequent bland diet feedings and they’ve been vomit-free for at least 24 hours, then you can then consider mixing her regular kibble back into her diet. Try slowly weaning off the bland diet and back to the regular diet by gradually mixing in your pup’s regular food over a period of several days until she is back to her normal routine. By this time, hopefully the vomiting will be a thing of the past! (Although she may be reluctant to give up that chicken!)

Through this whole process, it is extremely important to continue to monitor your pup closely. Some dogs with a mild and transient issue will respond well and return to their regular life in a short period of time! Other dogs with more serious issues may not be so lucky and the vomiting will continue, possibly accompanied by concerning signs like drooling, diarrhea, not eating or drinking, dehydration, and low energy. Some dogs can be very stoic, like Boxers and Labradors, so don’t let them trick you by hiding their pain and acting like they are fine! 

Also, always pay special attention to those cute pups with the smooshed faces (Pugs, Bulldogs, Frenchies etc) as they sometimes struggle more with complications from vomiting due to the anatomy of their throats and mouths. Smooshed-nose dogs are at risk for choking on their vomit, causing breathing issues and pneumonia. Unfortunately, any dog struggling with the above signs will need to see their veterinarian urgently for further testing and care.

Things To Avoid At Home

In the quest to help their sick dog, a dog owner will often wonder about these choices …

-Depriving dogs of water: Although monitored water consumption is recommended, it is never a good idea to remove all access to water

-Over-the-counter human medications: Pepto Bismol, Imodium, Miralax, Tums, Prilosec, Zantac, and Pepcid are all very tempting to try when dogs are having gastrointestinal issues, BUT until a veterinary exam and some testing is performed, these medications are NOT recommended unless authorized by your veterinarian

AskVet Tip: Dogs that have been vomiting likely will not poop due to very little nutrients moving through the GI tract! Not seeing a bowel movement for several days is not uncommon and does not necessarily mean the dog is constipated, so laxatives should be avoided. Straining to poop may indicate diarrhea or colitis, and occasionally constipation, but let your vet make that determination if you are concerned. 

-Feeding raw meat: Handling and feeding raw meat is a public health risk and can cause serious gastrointestinal issues in dogs and humans, and may possibly make the stomach and intestinal issues worse.

-Gatorade or Pedialyte: These drinks are formulated for humans and can often complicate vomiting, electrolyte, and dehydration issues in dogs, so we recommend simply offering clean water. Seek veterinary care if you suspect your dog is dehydrated.

-Sporadic diet changes: Dogs are very sensitive to food changes, and often a diet change can cause stomach and intestinal upset, especially if done suddenly without a gentle transition over several days.

-Continuing to feed a bland diet indefinitely: A diet consisting of chicken and rice is not nutritionally balanced for long-term use. Transitioning your dog back to a commercially prepared balanced diet is recommended once they seem to have recovered from their gastrointestinal issue.

If the Vomiting Continues…

If small, frequent meals of a bland diet have failed to help your vomiting pup, or she has developed more serious signs like low energy and lethargy, diarrhea, or avoiding food and water, it is time to seek veterinary care. What might the vet do to get to the bottom of your dog’s issue and help them return to their happy go lucky self?

Veterinary Care for Vomiting

Exam and Diagnostic Testing

Your veterinarian will examine your dog for dehydration, signs of abdominal pain, fever, and other classic physical signs of disease. They will likely recommend a blood and urine test to check on how those internal organs are functioning, evaluate for electrolyte imbalances, and check the levels of red and white blood cells. Vomiting can be a symptom of a wide range of issues taking place in the body, so an x-ray of all of those internal organs is helpful too, especially if a foreign body (non-food object) obstruction may be suspected in the stomach or intestines. Ultrasound is another tool that helps us evaluate each organ individually for signs of irregularity.

Fluid Therapy

Once initial screening tests are underway, your veterinarian will likely recommend giving fluids to replace those that have been lost through vomiting, in order to help support the vital organs. Some dogs that are not severely dehydrated and are well enough to be sent home may just need a small pouch of fluids administered under their skin (subcutaneous fluids), which are slowly absorbed over the following hours. Other dogs that are severely dehydrated or need additional observation will be hospitalized and receive intravenous (IV) fluids to normalize their fluid and electrolyte balance.


Treatment with medications largely depends on test results, diagnosis, and condition of the patient. Many vomiting patients will receive an anti-nausea medication like Cerenia or Ondansetron. Since these pups may be experiencing a good bit of abdominal pain, they may also receive some pain medication too, like Buprenorphine. Unless surgery is to be performed, introducing a specific prescription food may be recommended too. On top of these treatments, your vet may also reach for a variety of other medications that can be beneficial for gastrointestinal issues in helping to reduce gastric acid, enhance intestinal movement, or treat infections. All these treatments are carefully selected based on your dog’s needs.

Surgery or Further Specialized Testing

Sometimes surgery may be indicated for some vomiting dogs. Surgery is useful to remove objects that are obstructing or harming the stomach and intestines, untwist a bloated stomach, biopsy the stomach and intestinal wall, visually inspect and take biopsy samples of internal organs, remove a malfunctioning gallbladder or infected uterus, excise or biopsy a tumor, remove an enlarged spleen … the list goes on!

Specialized testing is also needed in some cases in order to diagnose specific diseases. Tests to rule out Addison’s disease, evaluate kidney and liver function, check thyroid hormone levels, and rule out fecal parasites and bacterial infections all provide valuable information- even if the result is negative or normal! Some issues call for advanced imaging like CT scan or MRI to characterize complicated conditions as well. Each of these tests will yield helpful results and further narrow down a diagnosis. 

Hoping For The Best!

While some cases of mild vomiting will resolve on their own with the above recommendations, always remain vigilant while your pup is not feeling well! Our veterinarians at AskVet are an excellent resource for triage and assistance with interpreting your pup’s condition and symptoms if you are not quite sure if he is at the point of needing help. If you are worried, consulting with a vet is always appropriate, and early intervention makes faster recovery too! 

Our AskVet team is available to discuss all of your pet’s needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether you have an immediate need or are looking to improve your pet’s overall wellbeing, just sign into your account and one of our friendly and knowledgeable veterinary experts will attend to your needs, no appointment required!


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