How can I Keep my Dog from Overheating?

Friday, June 27, 2008
* Taken from Blog

Hi Dr. Barchas–

I have a seven-year-old St. Bernard. He is very
healthy! With the weather getting warmer, I am
concerned about keeping him cool. The heat really
seems to bother him. When I let him inside he
pants so hard that I am worried he is going to either
pass out or have a heart attack!

So far, I’ve started limiting the amount of time
he’s outside. I took him to the groomer and had
him shaved. I’ve even started giving him dog ice
cream as a treat in the evenings. Nothing seems
to help.

What else can I do to help him? I’m really
concerned about his reaction to the heat this

Flower Mound, TX

There is no doubt about it: Saint Bernards were not bred to live in Texas. I am not surprised that your dog is having some trouble with the heat. Over time, he should be able to acclimatize and do well in your climate (I have seen Saint Bernards thriving in steamy, tropical countries). Unfortunately, it could take the beter part of the summer for him to get used to the heat. Until that time, you will have to be careful to prevent overheating and hyperthermia.

You have already taken several steps that I would recommend. I am strongly in favor of keeping him in an air conditioned location during the hottest portion of the day. Whenever he is outside, ensure that he has access to shade. Never leave him in the car on a sunny day, even if it isn´t hot.

All dogs should have access to drinking water at all times. This is especially important if overheating is a concern. Shaving your dog will help to prevent overheating, but remember that it will increase his risk of sunburn.

One thing I´m afraid that I cannot sign off on is the use of ice cream to cool him. Ice cream (even doggie ice cream) can contribute to weight problems, and dogs that are overweight are more likely to suffer from heat stroke. Instead of ice cream, I recommend that you offer ice cubes for him to lick.

Finally, for me there is nothing more refreshing on a hot day than a plunge into a cool swimming pool or the ocean. If you have a pool (and you are willing to let the dog swim in it) he may enjoy it as much as I do. Two caveats: do not leave him in the pool unattended, and do not force him to swim–it should be his choice.

If you are cautious and continue to exercise common sense, it is very likely that your dog will do well over the summer.


The Facts about Contamination and the Recent Pet Food Recall

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Related to the recent recall of certain pet food products, there may be some confusion about wheat gluten as an ingredient in pet foods. The concerns about wheat gluten are understandable, yet are likely based on incomplete information. Wheat gluten is a safe food ingredient and not the reason for the recall. The recall, according to findings of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is the result of contamination—specifically, the introduction of melamine into a food ingredient.

What is Melamine?

Melamine is a chemical substance used to produce durable, heat-resistant plastic for building materials, fire-retardant fabrics and kitchenware. Melamine is not approved for use in pet food or human food and should not be present in wheat gluten or any other food ingredient. The FDA has not yet determined exactly how melamine got into the contaminated wheat gluten.

What is Wheat Gluten?

Wheat gluten is the natural protein extracted from wheat or wheat flour. In addition to its rich protein content, wheat gluten produces the texture and consistency desired in many high quality food products, both human and pet. It has been a trusted food ingredient, used for decades in the preparation of breakfast cereals, high quality pastas and whole wheat bakery goods. Baking represents more than 60% of the total usage worldwide, and many of our healthier multi-grain and whole grain breads would not be appealing without it.

Why is Wheat Gluten an Important Pet Food Ingredient?

Just as wheat gluten is used in human foods, such as breads, to provide a desired consistency and texture, wheat gluten is used in pet foods for similar reasons. Many pet foods use wheat gluten to help other ingredients come together to form nutritious, good tasting, and appealing foods. While primarily used to enhance texture, wheat gluten also provides good quality protein. With 75% concentration of protein by weight, wheat gluten is an excellent source of protein. When used in combination with other protein sources, a balanced level of amino acids can be attained for the dietary needs of the cat and dog. In its complementary effect with other protein sources, wheat gluten also promotes lean muscle mass and healthy organs.

Purina has used wheat gluten in its foods for nearly twenty years without incident. Independent regulatory organizations, including U.S. FDA and the Association of American Feed Control Officials, as well as respected professional organizations like the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Institute of Baking, all acknowledge the nutritional value and suitability of wheat gluten in foods for human or pet consumption. There should be no concern with wheat gluten as a pet food ingredient.

Where Does the Wheat Gluten Supply Come From

It should be noted that the wheat gluten used in most pet foods is the same quality wheat gluten used in human foods. It is sourced from the same countries, the same suppliers and inspected to meet the same high human food quality control standards. The U. S. is the largest user of wheat gluten in total, and our country's use of the ingredient in human and pet foods exceeds what is produced domestically by the agricultural industry. As a result, 80% of the U.S. demand for wheat gluten is fulfilled from Europe and Asia due to limited supplies in the U.S., where the remaining 20% is sourced.

An Incident of Contaminated Wheat Gluten

On March 30 the FDA announced discovery of wheat gluten contaminated with melamine from a single supply source. The contaminated wheat gluten represents less than half of 1% of all the wheat gluten used in human and pet foods in the U.S. during the past year. The majority of the contaminated ingredient was supplied to Menu Foods, though it was distributed to other pet food manufacturers, as well. The FDA continues its investigation to ensure that all of the contaminated wheat gluten has been identified and contained. While the FDA further investigates how melamine was introduced into a historically safe and good food ingredient, it is suspected that the melamine contamination may have been caused by tampering.

Nestlé Purina's Immediate Response

Within hours of the March 30 FDA announcement of the melamine contamination, Nestlé Purina determined that a limited quantity of the FDA-identified contaminated wheat gluten had been used in specific, limited production runs at one of Purina's 17 pet food manufacturing facilities. The company then notified the FDA and immediately began the recall process of limited quantities of Alpo Prime Cuts in Gravy canned dog food with specific date codes. Nestlé Purina has strict quality assurance procedures that provide for traceability of ingredients and isolation of finished products, which enabled it to determine that the contaminated wheat gluten was not used in any other Purina products manufactured at its other facilities. The affected Alpo Prime Cuts in Gravy and Mighty Dog pouch products, produced by Menu Foods, have been recalled from retail stores.

Rigorous Food Safety and Testing Procedures Strengthened

Nestlé Purina's rigorous food safety and testing procedures are based on significant and likely risks for each particular ingredient, and every incoming load of ingredients, including wheat gluten, is inspected. Until this incident, it has never been a pet food or human food industry standard to test ingredients for melamine. Since this incident, however, Nestlé Purina PetCare has implemented a new process to test for melamine in its wheat gluten supplies. Every lot of wheat gluten is now sampled for the presence of melamine. Nestlé Purina is also implementing additional technology to further screen its pet food ingredients.

Taking Action

Nothing is more important to Nestlé Purina than the health and well-being of the pets whose nutrition has been entrusted to Purina products by their owners. The loss of a pet or a pet's health due to pet food contamination is distressing and frustrating to those involved.

Melamine should not be contained in food. The FDA and Nestlé Purina are taking additional steps to make sure it does not appear in pet food again. These steps include: 1) FDA prohibiting the original supplier of contaminated wheat gluten from any further importation into the U.S.; 2) FDA inspection of 100% of all Chinese wheat gluten offered for import, regardless of the supplier; and 3) Nestlé Purina testing 100% of its wheat gluten shipments for the presence of melamine.

Nestlé Purina associates, most of whom are pet owners and feed Purina products, continue to work diligently with total commitment to address and resolve this situation, respond to concerns of consumers, customers and veterinarians and take whatever actions are necessary to protect the health and well-being of the millions of dogs and cats who eat Purina foods.


Exercise is one of the best ways to make dogs healthy

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Exercise is one of the best ways for us to stay healthy. Not only to human but also to our pets, to our dogs.

Making dog exercise will help keep its heart, lungs, and muscles strong and healthy so he lives healthier and longer. If you want your dog to run and stretch his legs out, then use toys for him to keep him running and catching games. Walking is a simple exercise and good for both of you. One of the best way to keep them familiar with the neighbors and meeting new friends. It is also best to keep them swim. Like humans,
swimming is a wonderful exercise for dogs. Swimming is very good for every part of your dog's body.

Spend some time for your dog, like playing with him to make him feel he's getting you attention.

Photograph courtesy of Cairns unlimited, your complete guide to Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef and Tropical North Queensland. Find them at

Top 5 Dog Health Problem Symptoms

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Protecting your dog's health is the most important thing over anything else. With the proper diagnosis and knowing what to look for will help, you determine some possible reasons for the dog health problems. The top 5 dog health problem symptoms provide knowledge about parvovirus, skin disorders, eye problems, rabies and ear problems. When you see the first signs of a problem, you need to respond appropriately to protect the health of your dog.


Some symptoms of the disease are weight loss, dehydration, vomiting, fever and nasal discharge. If you see any of these signs, you will need immediate medical attention for your dog. Diarrhea is usually the first symptom, which could be from anything, but when other symptoms appear, you will have a better idea of what you are dealing with. A puppy under the age of six months can contract this disease and will ultimately die. Proper vaccination at an early age will protect the puppy from this horrible disease and death.

Skin Disorders

Some symptoms of a skin disorder will be scratching, inflammation of the skin, and is some cases a discharge of pus from the area that breaks open due to excessive scratching. This requires medical tests and observation to determine if it results from a parasite, both internally and externally, allergy, bacterial or fungal infections and hereditary. The bottom line is there are two different types of shin diseases, hereditary and acquired.

Eye Problems

Red eyes, swollen eyes and weepy eyes are signs of something wrong and should be checked by your veterinarian to determine if is caused by an allergy or a more serious health problem such as conjunctivitis. The problem may also be the result of an injury if the dog plays with other dogs or cats with claws.

Ear Problems

Scratching of the ear, discharge, odor and shaking of the head might indicate some type of ear infection. This also might come from a parasite infestation that invades the ear such as an ear mite. Other reasons for symptoms may be trauma, bacterial and allergies, which will result in ear problems as well. Dogs that have ears that hang down covering the ear canal are more prone to ear problems than other dog because no air gets into the ear to dry it up, so it stays moist and invites infection.


Without proper vaccination, the dog that has an encounter with a rabid animal can contract rabies, which will result in death. Symptoms to watch for are change in behavior, foaming of the mouth, biting and aggressive behavior towards people and other animals. This is probably the most serious dog health problem ever, since it can spread the virus through biting. Immediate containment and medical help is needed at the onset of such symptoms to protect your family and society from the spread of rabies.