Concerned about your pet?
"Early Show" resident veterinarian Dr. Debbye Turner Bell answered questions submitted by viewers.
Question from Sheri from Stanwood, Wash.: "Lucky, our golden retriever mixed with something white, is a young 9-year-old and has bad breath. Time to take him to the vet to have his teeth cleaned. He is terribly afraid of the vet clinic. He is the most loveable dog to anyone he meets ... but the vet clinic makes him tremble. We've tried having him visit just for a treat, but he puts on his emergency brakes at the door will not go in. Then there is the cost - $400. But the New Year's Resolution is for him is to make sure we figure out how to get him in for a cleaning so he doesn't lose his teeth in the future."
Dr. Debbye Turner Bell's Answer: Bad dog breath is not only off-putting to dog owners but can be dangerous to your dog. So it is really important to have your dog's teeth cleaned regularly. Dog's teeth can build up tartar just like humans. Tartar can lead to gingivitis. And gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease (gum disease). And all of that can lead to heart disease. Yes! The tiny particles of bacteria in the gums can travel to the valves of the dog's heart and cause real trouble. So good dental hygiene for your dog is not just a matter of fresh breath, it's a matter of good health! The most common culprit of bad breath is dirty teeth. So start with having your dog's teeth cleaned professionally by your veterinarian. Between cleanings, it's a really good idea to brush your dog's teeth at least a couple of times a week with a doggy toothbrush and doggy toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste. Of course, dogs don't spit, and the human formulation can be harmful to your pooch. It may take a little time to get your dog used to getting his teeth brush but with time and patience, most dogs tolerate it fairly well. Some even come to enjoy the quality time with their owner. You may also try treating your dog with a little brown rice, carrot sticks, or chlorophyll tablets. Some think these can help with the halitosis. There are some health reasons for bad breath, like diabetes, kidney disease or liver disease. So if your dog's bad breath persists, be sure to have your veterinarian check him out.
Carol on Facebook: "We have a rescued Golden Retriever. She was 3 1/2 when we adopted her and is now 5. She is really great. The only thing is, we can't get her to stay down. She always wants to jump on us. What can we do to stop this?"
Dr. Debbye Turner Bell's Answer: So many dog owners can relate to your concern. Jumping is a very common complaint amongst dog owners. Of course the first way to solve the jumping problem is to prevent it in the first place. We think it's adorable when a puppy jumps on us, but when that puppy grows into a 120-pound dog, that jumping is not so cute anymore. So behavior training your puppy in what are good and acceptable manners is the best and most reliable way to avoid bad behaviors later. For the already expert jumper, there are some methods that you can employ to reduce or rid the problem. First of all, behavior train your dog. Every dog should be trained to obey a few basic commands: come, sit, down, stay, heel. Just teaching these commands will provide the foundation that is necessary to train your pooch to do almost anything else.
When your dog jumps on you or a guest, gently push them down, say "off," "no," or "down" firmly. Then give him a sit or down command. When he has obeyed, reward him with a small treat or a big praise. Clicker training would be particularly effective in this situation. This is where you give the dog a "click" or short sound immediately upon compliance with the command, then give a reward. Another technique is to take a quick step backwards just when your dog starts to jump. This will cause the pooch to miss his target and land on the floor. Say "no!" firmly as you do this. Or try going completely still when you dog jumps on you. Don't move a muscle. Don't look at him. Don't talk to him. Nothing. Once your dog calms down and has all four feet planted firmly on the floor, give him lots of praise and love. Hopefully your dog will eventually get the message that jumping is not cool.
Also, make arrivals at home a calm event. When you walk in the door, don't speak to or make eye contact with your dog. Go about your business. When the dog finally calms down, then give him attention and say hello.
Question from Tammy from Atlanta, Ga.: When I put food out for my dog, why is it that he just swallows it without chewing, expecting more to come?
Dr. Debbye Turner Bell's Answer: Gulping down food could very well be a hold-over from our canine's days in the wild. Often, a pack animal had to eat as much as he could, as quickly as possible before the rest of the pack gobbles it up. Eating fast also helped a smaller animal get his sustenance then move on, so as not to become a target of a larger predator. But for many breeds, eating too fast can be dangerous and even deadly. Dogs that have "deep chest" (a long, narrow rib cage), can be predisposed to "bloat" -- a condition where the stomach dilates and/or twists on itself and cuts off vital blood flow to the stomach and other abdominal organs. This can be very painful for the dog. In extreme cases, if the bloat is not relieved quickly enough, the condition can be fatal. Veterinarians call bloat gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV). There are a number of breeds that are at high risk of GDV, including (but not limited to) great danes, golden and Labrador retrievers, poodles, boxers, Irish wolfhounds and St. Bernards.
For a dog that is prone to bloat, who also gulps down food, it's really important to slow down the eating process. Try feeding smaller meals more often during the day. Do not give a deep-chested breed who gulps food one big meal a day! Also,feeding the dog from raised bowls will help. This decreases the amount of air the animal swallows while eating. Also, there are specially designed bowls that are compartmentalized that help the dog slow down. Or just put a couple of tennis balls in the bowl. Having the move the balls out of the way to get to the food, will slow down your chow hound.
To find out how you can adopt Slippers (the dog seen on the broadcast this morning) and many other animals in need of a good home, visit the North Shore Animal League.