Angel Fund Helps Puppy Stricken by Parvovirus

Victoria Romero, a young graphic design student, had wanted a dog since she was eight or nine years old.  When she turned 16 a couple of years ago, she suggested to her mother that she give her a dog instead of a Sweet Sixteen party.

Her mother said no.  “So I had never had another opportunity [to have her own dog] until now,” she said.  A friend of her Mom, who had a female Maltese-Poddle mix puppy, wanted to find someone who could take the dog off her hands.

Victoria took charge of Kona in mid-November.  The dog was lethargic and she knew that the animal would need shots.  “So I called the [Aliso Animal] hospital and made an appointment for the next day,” she said.

Dr. David Bahou examined the dog and told Victoria that her new pet had parvovirus.  “This is my first dog and I really wanted to be careful with her,” she said.  “I was crying the whole time in the hospital because I thought maybe I had done something wrong.”  At the time, she had been Kona’s owner only a couple of days.

Dr. Bahou assured her that she was not at fault.  “He said that Kona’s symptoms would have started five to seven days after exposure so she had gotten the virus when she was with the previous owner,” Victoria said.   

But there was another issue: paying for Kona’s treatment.

“I was very sad because I did not have the money I needed,” Victoria said, “and the only option was putting her down. I did not want to do that.  I was already so attached to her.  I loved her so much that I couldn’t do that.  I called my family and friends to invite them to give me a little bit each.

“Dr. Bahou and the hospital staff really wanted to help me,” she said.  “When they told me about Angel Fund, I said let’s do that.  I just didn’t want to see Kona get worse because she already was so lethargic.

“I’m really grateful for Angel Fund and what they did. It really helped me out.  I hope other people can find out about Angel Fund.”

Victoria, a student at Laguna College of Art and Design, works as a baby sitter for her mother and in a child day care role at a local school district.  She expects to graduate from her program in the spring of 2025. 

She heads to one of the schools in the district each work-day morning to help young students who participate in a pre-school program, she said.  “I work about an hour and a half,” she said, “getting their minds awake for school.”  Then she returns home to supervise her two younger siblings while her mother works.

Her mother does house cleaning and some gardening work and manages a group of workers. 

Kona who is now about five months old and weighs about three pounds, is doing well.  “She’s now about 100 percent,” Victoria said.  “She has been running around the house trying to steal our shoes.”

Angel Fund Helps Mitzy, Blind Dog Diagnosed With IMHA

Helen Uitermark lives alone in her home in the San Gabriel Valley, except for her pets, including dogs large and small.  About a year ago, she adopted Mitzy, “so, if nothing else, I can hug her on my lap.” 

Mitzy is a West Highland White Terrier mix and is about the size of a Maltese-Poodle mix. She was just the right medicine to lift Helen out of a depression arising from her own medical problems.

Helen, is a senior citizen who often uses a cane or walker because of a broken ankle suffered nearly a year ago.  Mitzy replaced two tuxedo cats that were apparently lost to coyotes. 

Last spring, Helen said, “it was obvious that Mitzy wasn’t feeling well so I took her to Covina Animal Hospital.  The diagnosis was glaucoma in her left eye.”

Dr. Karryssa Fenderson-Joseph, the hospital’s medical director, said that, when Mitzy’s condition did not improve with medical management, the best option she could offer was to remove the eye.  The surgery took place a few days later.

Mitzy soon was able to run around in Helen’s backyard.  “Everything was fine for several weeks,” she said. “Then, because Mitzy didn’t seem to be herself, I checked her, and the other eye seemed to have a white haze across it.  I took her back to the hospital and she was diagnosed, again with glaucoma.”  Dr. Fenderson said she recommended removal of Mitzy’s remaining eye after Helen told her that she didn’t want Mitzy to have on-going problems.

“After removal of the right eye, Dr. Fenderson had me come back several times because of an anemia condition (Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia). I had never heard of it.

“Dr. Fenderson gave Mitzy a full-blood transfusion,” Helen said, “and she improved every week. We’ve been back to the hospital every month for a checkup. According to the doctor, the numbers have been holding so – unless something else happens – we’re good to go!”

Dr. Fenderson said that Mitzy has done so well since her transfusion that she is in remission and no longer is taking medication for IMHA.

Helen had been told about Angel Fund by friends and she asked Dr. Fenderson about it. “She immediately said: ‘Let me see what I can do.’ There was no further discussion about it but a few visits later, she said: ‘By the way, the grant has been approved.’ I almost danced out of her office! You have no idea how much I appreciate the Angel Fund grant.

“Dr. Fenderson has been so terrific, that’s where I will be going. It’s 15 miles from my home but, yes, she will be taking care of all my animals. I love her dearly.”

Mitzy seemed to be depressed after the second eye was removed. “She wasn’t interested in much and wasn’t even exploring. I was offered a kitten, about eight weeks old, and I said yes, since I’d lost the two cats last year.

“The kitten, Rusty, a male who is about six months old, and Mitzy get along fantastically. Mitzy’s depression has improved so much. It was wonderful to see. She gets around the house and backyard just fine. Every day her awareness seems to get better.”

Helen is getting used to dealing with a sightless Mitzy and she often forgets that her dog is blind. “She and I are getting accustomed to it. I can hear Mitzy on the other side of the door when I drive into the garage. It’s as if she’s trying to jump into my arms when I come through that door – then she does.”

But the household got a shock when Helen was pressured into accepting two Shi Tzu dogs that needed a new home. Helen said that she really did not want more pets, especially with a pinched sciatic nerve that added to her mobility problems. “They were absolutely loveable animals but it was too much,” she said.

A month after they arrived – the Shi Tzus were adopted by another family – much to Helen’s relief.

“My household is down to Mitzy and Rusty now. After the Shi Tzus left, Rusty came over to Mitzy when she was lying down and cuddled up to her. And she is walking through the house like it’s her domain again. I hope it is for many years to come!!”

Angel Fund Helps Shed Light On Vishnu’s Heart Problem

 When Leticia Shaw’s cat, Vishnu, had a urinary blockage that required surgery about three years ago, the veterinarian told her that the condition sometimes can come back.

“Ever since then, I’ve been really anxious about that,” Leticia said.  She has gotten regular checkups for Vishnu to make sure that doesn’t happen again. 

During one of those checkups this spring at Little Tokyo Pet Clinic, Dr. Mary Chung told Leticia that Vishnu had a heart murmur.  She recommended testing and x-rays to determine how severe the problem might be.

“That’s when Dr. Chung informed me about Angel Fund,” Leticia said.  “I applied for a grant. The entire staff helped me with that process. Thankfully it was approved right away.  I thought it would take way longer than it did.” 

The tests showed that Vishnu has a cardiac problem.  “They were able to do all the cardiovascular checks.  But, basically, they just mentioned to me that he does have the problem – and once he has it, there’s no going back,” Leticia said.

“Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like it’s too serious.  They caught it pretty early and they have given me heart medications and instructions on how to keep an eye on him to make sure it doesn’t get worse.

“There are warning signs like he might stop eating or when he sleeps his heart might beat too fast.  So they gave me a couple of things to check.  But honestly, he’s been amazing.  He’s been super normal – he plays, he’s still himself. So hopefully it’s something that won’t get serious and we can just keep it contained.”

Leticia is grateful that she knows about the issue.  And, she said, “thank God, things are going pretty good.  I’m not seeing any signs for concern.”

She also expressed her gratitude for the Angel Fund grant and what it did to give her peace of mind and to help pay the veterinary bill.

Vishnu is seven years old and Leticia is optimistic that he has many years ahead of him.  “He’s just so carefree and I hope he lives to 20. I can’t see him having any other problems.  He’s now on a veterinary-prescribed diet and he can’t eat anything else.” But, she said, “the really scary problem for me was the urinary blockage.”

Leticia works as an IT manager for the Downtown LA Proper Hotel.otel.H  Besides Vishnu, she has three dogs.  She and her animals live in North Hollywood.

Angel Fund Grant Helps ‘Lucky Dog’ Get Surgery

Cheri Hanshaw, a fourth-grade teacher in Lancaster, owns a Shar Pei mix that she calls her lucky dog.  “Star is my lucky dog because she gets everything to happen to her,” she said.

The last couple of years, she said, Star has had veterinary bills of about $10,000, include more than $3,000 a year ago when she was hospitalized with pancreatitis.  The dog also has allergy problems.  “We’ve had one thing after another with her,” Cheri said.  “She’s usually at the vet’s every month.”

The latest iteration of her dog’s all too familiar relationship with veterinary medicine was recent surgery for a TPLO plate reaction, something that doesn’t happen often.  Cheri did some research, which showed that it only occurs to about one in 50 dogs.

“Basically she had an infection from the plate in her knee and ite had to be removed,” Cheri said.  “This is her second knee [to undergo TPLO surgery].  The left knee was fine and there was no problem after it was done a couple of years ago.  And we had surgery in November for the right knee.  It seemed fine and then after a few months, all of a sudden her leg started swelling up.”  

Star, who is eight years old, is a patient of North Valley Veterinary Clinic in Lancaster.  Dr. Eric Wright, who had done the TPLO surgery, told Cheri that the site infection could be treated with antibiotics but that it would continue to come back. “He recommended taking the plate out surgically so we don’t have to continue with these problems and spend all this money and then have to take it out surgically anyway,” she said.

Dr. John Chang, who assisted with the plate removal, told Cheri that he could see where an infection pocket was attached to a bolt on the plate.

The latest surgery took place in March.  Because of Star’s history of medical problems, Cheri sought help from Angel Fund to help pay for the surgery.  Dr. Misty Hirschbein, who sees Star for most of her appointments, told Cheri about Angel Fund and helped her apply.  A grant of $1,000 was approved. 

Cheri expressed gratitude to both Angel Fund and the North Valley Clinic, which matched the grant.  But she also had to take out a loan to pay what she still owed.  “I’m so in debt for this dog!” she said.

Star was still healing a month after the procedure, she said. “We had expected it would be healed by now,” Cheri said. “But the infection is almost gone. 

“Star, the poor thing, has been living in a playpen since October.  She has not been able to go outside to be a dog.  She waits for us to come get her.  So when I’m doing my school work, I’ll pull her out so she’s closer to me and not so isolated.  I’m hoping she’ll be able to go back outside in a couple of weeks.”

Cheri lives with her daughter Kayla, who is a community college student.  Her son, Zachary, She has a lives independently.

She previously had borrowed from her mother and taken out a loan from her credit union to help pay for her dog’s care.  But Cheri is hoping things will change. 

“I’m looking forward to being able to take Star on hikes again and to do the things that we used to do, like going to the beach.  She’s almost there.”

If you would like to donate to the Animal Health Foundation to help more dogs like Star CLICK HERE or scan this QR Code

Angel Fund Helps Apollo Get Monthly Treatments

Ludovic Pathoux, who came to the United States from France in 2002, adopted Apollo, a beautiful white Pit Terrier, that he saw being neglected by a neighbor near his Los Angeles apartment some nine years ago. 

“In 2014, while I was walking my American Bulldog Georgia, I saw Apollo behind the fence of one of my neighbors,” Ludovic said. “He was lying in the sun for hours at a time and was left out both day and night.  I spoke to the neighbor about Apollo and his risk of getting skin cancer because of his exposure.”

The neighbor told Ludovic that she would like someone else to own the dog.  “Despite already having a dog and difficult finances, I decided to adopt Apollo,” Ludovic said.  “I simply fell in love with him and wanted to rescue him from his neglectful owner, even though I should not have had two dogs in my situation.”

Ludovic and the two dogs moved to an affordable cabin in the San Bernadino Mountains not long after Apollo joined the family.  A couple of years later, Ludovic moved to an apartment in Yucaipa with Georgia and Apollo.  A year later, he said, “my beloved Georgia died of cancer.”

Six months later, Apollo had a mole-like cancer on his leg that was removed by a veterinarian.  And a few months later, Apollo was diagnosed with a tumor on his spleen and a splenectomy was performed to remove it.  Georgia had a similar surgery a few years earlier.

In 2022, Apollo was diagnosed with chylothorax, a condition in which lymph fluids leak from his thoracic duct into the space around his lungs.  Dr. George Makar at Yucaipa Animal Hospital made the diagnosis.  Apollo is being treated there about once a month through thoracocentesis, a process in which a tube is inserted into his chest cavity after sedation to remove the fluids.  The treatments started a year ago at a cost approaching $750 a month.

“Fortunately the procedure does not worsen his health nor does it cause pain or suffering,” Ludovic said.  But the cost of his dog’s treatment is worrisome.   Ludovic has had difficulty finding work as an organizer, who can make sense of your garage, pantry or spare room.  (His website is

“I am not working every day so it’s up and down,” he said, and his erratic income prevents him from doing a lot of things he’d like to do, though he gives his dog’s health priority.  

With Apollo’s crucial treatments in danger, Ludovic found Angel Fund with help from the Yucaipa hospital.  He applied for a grant and Angel Fund provided $1,000 for Apollo, which was matched by the hospital.

“I sincerely thank the Angel Fund and Dr. Makar for generously helping me with this financial assistance,” Ludovic said.  “Apollo greatly enjoys human beings and despite the invasive monthly treatments, he loves to go to the vet and is very excited to be around the assistants and technicians who give him lots of attention.

“My unconditional love for him has motivated me to do everything I can to increase his life expectancy.”

One of the reasons Ludovic does not want to return to France is that he would not be permitted to bring Apollo with him, nor could he have taken Georgia.  He is intensely loyal to his animals. 

But he said: “I choose to stay in the United States because I am all right here.”  And he said, some 22 years ago “when I lived in Paris, I wasn’t happy.” 

Boydston Senior Grant Helps Lulu Find New Lease on Her Life

Noreen Sturges, who lost her 15-year-old canine companion Papillon last year, found a replacement a few months ago in Lulu, a female Maltese. “Lulu was rather matted, had a hacking cough and needed care and lots of love,” Noreen said.

Lulu had belonged to a family that was no longer able to provide her with the care and attention she needed.  When Lulu was brought to Noreen’s home, “it was love at first sight,” she said.

Noreen hired a groomer to attend to Lulu’s matted hair.  After the grooming, Noreen took Lulu to Monarch Veterinary Hospital in Laguna Niguel not far from her home.  

Dr. Kelly Alcala examined her and found some serious dental issues that would require surgery and the extraction of some teeth. Lulu also had a hacking cough – “not like she would have had with a cold,” Noreen said.  Dr. Alcala told her that she thought decay from the dog’s teeth was getting into her digestive system and probably causing the cough, Noreen said.

The doctor suggested that Noreen apply for a Boydston Grant to help pay for Lulu’s treatment and surgery.  A grant of $500 was approved and Dr. Alacala did the surgery.  The dog is now thriving, Noreen said, and the hacking cough is gone. 

Lulu is eating her new diet voraciously.  “And she’s a love!” Noreen said. “Everything’s good now.”  The dog, she said, “is running around – up and down the stairs and all over the place.

“I didn’t think I could ever love a dog as much as my Papillon, “but I just love Lulu.”

She added that she is grateful for the help provided by her Boydston grant and the matching sum from Monarch Hospital, as well as for the work of Dr. Alcala.  “I just love her, too,” she said.

Noreen said that she and Lulu “are having a lovely time together.  She is quite a companion.”


Nestlé Purina Petcare Company Voluntarily Recalls Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets El Elemental Dry Dog Food in the U.S. Due to Potentially Elevated Vitamin D

Nestlé Purina PetCare Company is voluntarily recalling select lots of Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EL Elemental (PPVD EL) prescription dry dog food due to potentially elevated levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for dogs; however, ingestion of elevated levels can lead to health issues depending on the level of vitamin D and the length of exposure. Vitamin D toxicity may include vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, and excessive drooling to renal (kidney) dysfunction.

Purina is taking this action after receiving two contacts about two separate confirmed cases of a dog exhibiting signs of vitamin D toxicity after consuming the diet, to date. Once taken off the diet, each of these dogs recovered.

The affected dry dog food was distributed throughout the United States by prescription only through veterinary clinics, Purina Vet Direct, Purina for Professionals, and other select retailers with the ability to validate a prescription.

Bags of PPVD EL with the UPC Code and Production Code below should be immediately discarded.

ProductUPC CodeProduction Code
(*First 8 characters equal to)
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EL Elemental (PPVD EL)
8 lb and 20 lb bags
38100 19190 – 8 lb
38100 19192 – 20 lb
2249 1082
2250 1082
2276 1082
2277 1082
2290 1082
2360 1082
2361 1082

Pet owners who purchased bags of the product listed above are asked to immediately stop feeding and throw it away in a container where no other animals, including wildlife, can get to it. If signs such as weight loss, excessive drooling, vomiting, loss of appetite or increased thirst or urination have occurred in their dog while eating this diet, pet owners should contact their veterinarian.

No other Purina pet care products are affected.

Veterinary and other retail partners should remove and destroy the affected product from their inventory.

We apologize to pet owners and veterinarians for any concerns or inconvenience this situation has caused. As pet experts and pet owners ourselves, the health and well-being of pets is our top priority.

Please contact our team directly Monday – Saturday, 8am – 5pm CST at 1-800-345-5678 or via email at usExternal Link Disclaimer for questions or assistance in getting a refund.

Company Contact Information

Consumers:Purina 1-800-345-5678

Product Photos

  • Product image, front label, Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EL Elemental Dry Dog Food
  • Product image, back label showing Production Codes and UPC, Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EL Elemental Dry Dog Food

Warning signs and treatment for Poodle Glaucoma

A standard poodle is a beautiful addition to your family. They are considered child-friendly and loyal companions. Whether you own a poodle or have the option of adopting the perfect pup into your home, researching medical history for inherited conditions is very important. Knowing what risk factors and symptoms to watch for in a disease like glaucoma is crucial to reducing the onset of symptoms. Remember that purebred dogs are more likely to suffer from diseases and other medical conditions. Therefore, being a responsible pet owner might look like investing in pet health insurance. This type of insurance will give you a security blanket to optimize medical procedures to reduce pain and damage.

To find out more about glaucoma in poodles, Breed Expert has a great article

Dr. Prupas Brought AlignCare Service to Los Angeles

Dr. Jeremy Prupas, chief veterinarian for the Los Angeles City Department of Animal Services, helped launch a service called AlignCare in 2019, which aids needy pet owners with veterinary bills they often cannot pay.

“The goal is not just to help the animal.  It’s to help the whole family. The idea is that if someone is having problems paying for a pet’s care, there are probably other things going on in that family’s life that they need help with.  So AlignCare has [focused on] the human side of this problem.

“That’s really what got my attention at the very beginning.  This is really the One Health approach to try to get help for everybody who needs it.”

The concept originated with Dr. Michael Blackwell, a veterinarian at the University of Tennessee veterinary school.  “I became friends with him in one of the [veterinary] groups I was in,” Dr. Prupas said.  “I learned a lot about AlignCare from him.  And I said to him: ‘You know what, Michael, let’s try it.  I don’t know why we can’t make it work in LA.’”

The Los Angeles project – the first community trying to implement the program from the ground up.  It initially is focused on South Los Angeles, where Downtown Dog Rescue is a major player in pet welfare. 

“Basically, the idea is that you form a partnership with community veterinarians, and they agree that they will discount their prices.  They submit their invoices on the internet and AlignCare pays them directly.”

Participating hospitals are asked to lower their fees as much as they can, Dr. Prupas said.  “I think AlignCare asks them for a 20% cut.  But the hospitals decide what they’re going to charge.  AlignCare doesn’t interfere with the decisions of the vets or the practice owners.”

The pet owner is responsible for 20 percent of the discounted bill, he said, “so they

still have a stake in it.  But it’s a way for the pet hospital to feel that it will get paid.  And the veterinarian makes the decisions with the pet owner on what kind of care they’re going to provide.”

“The goal is that if any pet owner comes into a vet hospital or to a shelter asking for help, they’re going to be referred to AlignCare.  They would go online and fill out an application.  It’s very simple. Basically, the pet owner would just have to prove that he or she is on some form of assistance.  If you can prove that it’s almost automatic that you’re accepted into the program.  Then the pet owner is told of the hospitals that are part of the program and chooses which hospital to visit.”

He said that AlignCare includes a national team of veterinary “social workers” who will help families by referring them to whatever social services they need and helping them converse with their veterinary teams if there are any issues.  There are also “human support coordinators” who can help pet owners sign up for the program and make necessary arrangements such as appointments and arranging transportation to the hospital.

The challenge, he said, can be in where the money comes from to pay the AlignCare part of the bill.  “The idea behind it is that the community donates the money to pay the bills.  For instance, in LA we’ve been talking to several different animal welfare organizations.  

“Making it sustainable is really what keeps me up at night.  How will we be able to raise enough money to keep this going as we expand?  That’s why we decided to start slow and small.”

And, he pointed out, there are major benefits for pet families who get financial help.  Besides helping them avoid the strain on the family budget of a large expenditure, it can prevent the mental – sometimes physical – trauma of losing their pets and it can keep the family structure intact.   

The next step for Los Angeles AlignCare will be to expand beyond South Los Angeles and to get more veterinarians involved, Dr. Prupas said.  We’re looking for more veterinary hospitals that might want to join.  We’ll also need to expand in a way that doesn’t make us run out of money.”

Dr. Prupas has served as chief veterinarian for Los Angeles Animal Services for nearly 14 years.  He supervises six shelters that employ six veterinarians and 22 RVTs.  He earned his veterinary degree at the University of Pennsylvania and has practiced in Connecticut and San Diego, where he owned a feline practice. 

Pet Poison Awareness: Helpful Insight from Dr. Steven Marks, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Clemson University

Stacia Harris

March 19, 2024

It’s National Pet Poison Prevention Week. Pets can be surrounded by dangerous items that they shouldn’t ingest or be exposed to. This includes human food, human medicine and dangerous household products to name a few. This month is dedicated to making sure people know what they can do to prevent and treat pet poisoning.

“Pet poisonings should be addressed as soon as possible by a veterinarian,” said Dr. Steven Marks. “Most poisonings do not have specific antidotes or a one-size-fits all approach and require supportive care from a veterinarian.”

Prevention and preparedness can save time and a life in the event your pet ingests or is exposed to something dangerous.

Dr. Steven Marks with his dog, Tucker.

“Pet parents can be ready for any emergency by knowing where local veterinary care is available at all times of day, especially after hours,” said Marks “I’d recommend saving to your phone the number to several offices that are open during the day and those open on nights and weekends.”

You can also save time by calling the vet before you head to their office.

“It’s important to call the veterinarian’s office ahead of time. That will allow staff time to prepare for your arrival and collect any important information as soon as possible. This is why having the number saved in your phone is such an important time-saver. Don’t forget to bring the container, packaging, or label of any products the pet has been exposed to, added Marks.”

Here are some more prevention tips from Dr. Marks:

• Carefully note in your home which items are dangerous and reduce exposure to them, similar to child-proofing a home.
• Never give medication to your pet without a specific prescription from a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). Many drugs that are safe for humans can be harmful to animals. Even those that are safe for pets are given at a much different dosing level.
• Do not initiate any treatment without consultation with a DVM.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, some of the most commonly ingested toxins for dogs, cats and exotic pets include chocolate, grapes/raisins, garlic, anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medication, Xylitol (found in many sugar-free products), lilies and rodent poison. Cannabis products and other recreational drugs are also incredibly dangerous.

Are onions toxic to dogs?


Onions are one of many common human foods that are toxic to dogs. Here’s what to do if your dog eats an onion.

Written by Emily Johnson & Andrew Corti-Cervantes 

— Medically reviewed by Dr. Erica Irish & Dr. Jennifer Schott 

Updated March 1, 2024

an dogs eat onions?

Table of Contents

The essentials

  • Avoid onion products — Onion powder is more toxic to dogs than fresh onion and appears in a surprising number of foods. 
  • Watch for signs of onion toxicity — Even a small amount of onion can trigger symptoms including lethargy, panting, decreased appetite, vomiting, and elevated heart rate.
  • Onion toxicosis can be fatal — Clinical signs often show up within 24 hours and quickly worsen, so it’s vital to get your pup to a veterinarian ASAP.

Are onions toxic to dogs?

Yes, onions are among the foods considered toxic to dogs. They contain a compound known as N-propyl disulfide  , which causes oxidative damage to a dog’s red blood cells, resulting in anemia and, in extreme cases, death. 

Whether raw or cooked, all parts of the onion plant are toxic to dogs, including the flesh, leaves, juice, and any processed powders. The same goes for the rest of the allium family, including chives, leeks, red, white, yellow, sweet, or green onions, and even garlic.

How much onion is toxic to dogs?

Onion poisoning gets worse the more onions a dog ingests. It’s commonly reported in pets who consume more than 0.5% of their body weight in onions, though the exact amount of onions that would be dangerous for your dog depends on factors including their weight, age, breed, and any underlying medical conditions they might already have (like diabetes, liver disease, or anemia). 

👉 Certain Japanese dog breeds, including Akitas and Shiba inus, have proven especially susceptible to onion toxicosis.

Toxic levels of onion, based on size of dog

Dog size (pounds)Breed exampleRaw onionDiced onionOnion powder
Small (10 lbs)Chihuahua, shih tzu, pomeranian1/10 of a medium-sized onion1/10 cup1/10 tablespoon (or ⅓ teaspoon)
Medium (30 lbs)Beagle, cocker spaniel⅓ of a medium-sized onion⅓ cup⅓ tablespoon (or 1 teaspoon)
Large (60 lbs)German shepherd, golden retriever⅔ of a medium-sized onion⅔ cup⅔ tablespoon (or 2 teaspoons)

These servings are calculated using one medium-sized onion weighing half a pound as a base (the equivalent of one cup of diced onions, or one tablespoon of onion powder).

Symptoms of onion toxicity in dogs

If you think your dog may have eaten an onion or onion powder, look out for:

  • LethargyWatch for a lack of interest in playtime, walks, and other activities your pup usually loves.
  • Weakness. Dogs may collapse, take longer to stand, be unsteady on their feet, or experience shaky limbs
  • Decreased appetiteYour pup might be uninterested in food and treats or refuse their favorite foods altogether.
  • Pale gumsAny gum discoloration that isn’t normal for your dog might indicate a problem.
  • Fainting. Watch your dog’s overall responsiveness and for any sudden losses of consciousness.
  • Reddish urine. Red or pink discoloration in your dog’s urine after exposure to onion is a sign that something is wrong.
  • VomitingDrooling and dry heaving are frequently seen before a dog begins vomiting, which can all be signs of a more serious health problem.
  • Elevated heart rate. Larger dogs have a slower heart rate (about 70 beats per minute), while smaller dogs have a faster heart rate (about 120 BPM). Dogs with noticeably rapid heart rates should be seen by a vet.
  • Panting. While normal for excited dogs, when combined with other symptoms, heavy panting could indicate a serious problem.

Treating onion toxicity in dogs

If your dog is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, the best thing you can do is to get them to your vet as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will do bloodwork and diagnose your dog’s condition based on their symptoms and test results. If the blood tests detect hemolytic anemia (the formation of Heinz bodies  on a blood smear) after possible onion exposure, all signs point toward onion toxicity.

If your dog recently consumed onions, your vet may induce vomiting to try and remove the toxins from their body. Alternatively, they may give your dog activated charcoal to help absorb the toxins in their stomach. 

Intravenous fluids can also help flush your dog’s bloodstream and rehydrate them if they’ve been vomiting. In extreme cases, your dog may require a blood transfusion or supplemental oxygen.

Safe vegetables for dogs

While onions are toxic, there are plenty of healthy and safe vegetables for dogs  . These include:

  • Broccoli. Broccoli is high in fiber and vitamin C and low in fat but is known to cause gas when given in large amounts. It’s best used as an occasional treat.
  • Brussels sprouts. Loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, Brussels sprouts are healthy but can also cause gas.
  • Carrots.  A great low-calorie snack that is high in fiber and beta-carotene (which produces vitamin A). Plus, they’re great for your dog’s teeth!
  • Celery. Full of vitamins A, B, and C, celery is also known to promote a healthy heart and fight cancer.
  • Green beans. High in fiber and low in calories, green beans are also full of healthy vitamins and minerals. When buying canned green beans, look for low-salt or no-salt options.
  • Peas. All types of peas are safe and healthy for dogs, including green peas, snow peas, sugar snap peas, and garden or English peas. They have several vitamins and minerals and are high in protein and fiber.

Your dog may not be able to eat onions like we can, but there are plenty of dog-safe foods out there you can use to add some variety to their regular treat regimen. Just make sure to get your vet’s okay before introducing any “people foods” into their diet. 

When in doubt, remember that commercially prepared, vet-formulated dog food is always the safest option. It may be tempting to share everything we eat with our furry best friends, but keeping certain foods to ourselves is a simple, effective way to keep our pups healthy.

Frequently asked questions

Are onions bad for dogs or cats? 

Plants that are members of the allium family (including garlic, shallots, leeks, and onions) are all toxic to dogs and cats. These plants contain harmful compounds known as disulfides and thiosulfinates, which cause gastroenteritis, break down the body’s red blood cells, and eventually lead to anemia. In severe cases, onion poisoning can be fatal for pets. 

Will a small amount of garlic hurt my dog? 

Since garlic is smaller and about five times more concentrated than onion, dogs can experience toxicity symptoms after ingesting just one clove’s worth. Still, most dogs would need to eat several times that amount to consume a lethal dose of garlic, so your dog will probably be okay if they eat a couple of tiny pieces that accidentally fall on the floor. Keep in mind that like onions, garlic is especially toxic to particular types of dogs, especially Japanese breeds. 

How much onion is a toxic amount for dogs?

If your dog gets into onions, it only takes .5% of their body weight to be a toxic amount. That’s equal to one small onion for a medium-large dog.

How long does it take for onion toxicity in dogs?

Symptoms typically show up within 24 hours but can be delayed for up to seven days after the onion is ingested.

Why are onions harmful to dogs?

Onions contain N-propyl disulfide, a toxic compound that causes a breakdown of red blood cells, leading to anemia in dogs.

What happens if dogs eat onions?

Dogs who eat onions can develop a condition called hemolytic anemia. This condition breaks down a dog’s red blood cells, leaving them without enough red blood cells to function properly. It can lead to limb weakness, fainting, vomiting, pale gums, decreased appetite, and more. Severe onion poisoning in dogs can be fatal.

© 2024 Betterpet – Advice from veterinarians and actual pet experts

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome and Prevention

March 30, 2024 / General Health / By Dodds

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction and Prevention

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CCD) is a gradual and common degenerative disease in dogs due to changes in the brain.

Four decades ago, we would have thought that CCD is a part of “the normal aging process” in a companion dog. It can be. However, research has revealed that CCD is analogous to dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease in humans.

Similar to other degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis, CCD is the interplay of genetics, environment, nutrition, and lifestyle that continues to be unraveled. Fortunately, research has given us diagnostic tools, signs, and treatment options to delay or lessen disease progression.

Signs of CCD

Signs of CCD can be so gradual that companion pet parents may not even notice them because they adapt to them or excuse them.

  • Disorientation
  • Behavioral changes – ex. irritability
  • Interaction – ex. nonrecognition of familiar people or pets
  • Sleep pattern changes
  • House-soiling
  • Activity level changes
  • Anxiety
  • Learning changes

Of course, the signs could be due entirely to something else. For instance, house-soiling. Did the companion dog’s environment change due to a move, urinary tract infection (UTI), weather, addition or loss of a companion, new baby or child in the home, CCD, or a combination of two or more? Fortunately, tests are available to gauge the level of CCD.


Hemopet’s CellBIO test does not directly diagnose cognitive decline. CellBIO measures cellular oxidative damage, which has been proven to be associated with cognitive decline.

Veterinarians will also need to rule in or out other potential causes of the signs such as UTIs or hypothyroidism, and have a few other tests available to diagnose CCD such as the Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Rating Scale (CCDR) or Canine Dementia Scale (CADES).

Both of these tests rely on observations, which can be subjective. So, the best method is to complete one of the tests every six months or so on any dog of any age (particularly seven years or older). You can do this at home. Doing it on a scheduled basis instead of daily or weekly gives the room needed to account for seasonal changes, or “good days” and “bad days.”

The researchers that developed CADES performed comparisons every six months to validate their test. Sadly, they found that the rate of conversion at the 6-months follow-up of normal aging to mild cognitive impairment was 42%, while conversion rate of mild to moderate cognitive impairment was 24%. At twelve months, the conversion rates almost doubled to 71.45% and 50%, respectively.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Rating Scale (CCDR)

Instructions: Circle the number that corresponds to your dog’s behavior based on frequency, transfer number to score, multiply where needed, add to calculate total.

How often does your dog pace up and down, walk in circles and/or wander with no direction or purpose?12345
How often does your dog stare blankly at the walls or floor?12345
How often does your dog get stuck behind objects and is unable to get around?12345
How often does your dog fail to recognize familiar people or pets?12345
How often does your dog walk away while, or avoid being petted?12345
QuestionsNever1-30% times31-60% times61-99% timesAlwaysScore
How often does your dog have difficulty finding food dropped on the floor?12345
QuestionsMuch LessSlightly LessThe SameSlightly MoreMuch MoreScore
Compared with 6 months ago, does your dog now pace up and down, walk in circles and/or wander with no direction or purpose?12345
Compared with 6 months ago, does your dog now stare blankly at the walls or floor?12345
Compared with 6 months ago, does your dog have difficulty finding food dropped on the floor?12345(Multiply by 2)
Compared with 6 months ago, does your dog fail to recognize familiar people or pets?12345(Multiply by 3)
Compared with 6 months ago, is the amount of time your dog spends active?12345
0-39 = Normal; 40-49 = At Risk; 50+ = CCDTotalScore

Canine Dementia Scale (CADES)

Circle the number that corresponds to your companion dog’s behavior or signs, calculate the category score, and add all the category scores.

A. Spatial OrientationAbnormal behavior of the dog was never observedAbnormal behavior of the dog was detected at least once in the last 6 monthsAbnormal behavior appeared at least once per monthAbnormal behavior was seen 2–4 times per monthAbnormal behavior was observed several times a weekScore
Disorientation in a familiar environment (inside/outside)02345
Failure to recognize familiar people and animals inside or outside the house/apartment02345
Abnormally responds to familiar objects (a chair, a wastebasket)02345
Aimlessly wandering (motorically restless during day)12345
A reduced ability to do previously learned task12345
B. Social InteractionAbnormal behavior of the dog was never observedAbnormal behavior of the dog was detected at least once in the last 6 monthsAbnormal behavior appeared at least once per monthAbnormal behavior was seen 2–4 times per monthAbnormal behavior was observed several times a weekScore
Changes in interaction with a man/dog, dog/other dog (playing, petting, welcoming)02345
Changes in individual behavior of dog (exploration behavior, play, performance)02345
Response to commands and ability to learn new task02345
Expression of Aggression02345
C. Sleep-Wake CyclesAbnormal behavior of the dog was never observedAbnormal behavior of the dog was detected at least once in the last 6 monthsAbnormal behavior appeared at least once per monthAbnormal behavior was seen 2–4 times per monthAbnormal behavior was observed several times a weekScore
Abnormally responds in the night (wandering, vocalization, motorically restless)02345
Switches over from insomnia to hypersomnia02345
TotalScore X 2 (0-20):
D. House SoilingAbnormal behavior of the dog was never observedAbnormal behavior of the dog was detected at least once in the last 6 monthsAbnormal behavior appeared at least once per monthAbnormal behavior was seen 2–4 times per monthAbnormal behavior was observed several times a weekScore
Eliminates at home in random locations02345
Eliminates in its kennel or sleeping area02345
Changes in signalization for elimination activity02345
Eliminates indoors after a recent walk outside12345
Eliminates at uncommon locations (grass, concrete)12345
Total score (A + B + C + D)0–95:
Clinical stage:
• Normal aging (Score 0–7)
• Mild cognitive impairment (8–23)
• Moderate cognitive impairment (24–44)
• Severe cognitive impairment (45–95)

Treatment of CCD

No cure exists for CCD, but there are many tools available to slow its progression.

Prescription Medications – There are prescription medications available. Instead of resorting to those immediately, talk to your veterinarian about trying the other methods mentioned below.

Activity, Activity, Activity! – We cannot stress enough the need for physical activity such as a walk and interactive toys.

Diet –

  • Leafy greens (supply folate, vitamin B- 9) – kale, spinach, collard and mustard greens
  • Cruciferous vegetables (supply folate, carotenoids) – broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts
  • Beans/legumes (supply choline)
  • Whole grains (gluten-free = quinoa, millet, rice, soy, corn, flax, TEFF, tapioca)
  • Berries/cherries (supply anthocyanins, antioxidants, vitamins C and E). In fact, you can use them as treats.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids (are anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory) – Fish oil is an example. We prefer smaller fish such as sardines and anchovies. These fish do not have a build-up of mercury in their systems. The high DHA contains higher concentrations of vitamin E, taurine, choline, and l-carnitine, which can also play a positive role in healthy cognitive function. Whatever fish oil you choose, please ensure your companion dog does not have a food sensitivity or intolerance to it as revealed by NutriScan.
  • Yellow squash, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, beets (supply folate, vitamin A, iron)
  • Nuts (supply omega fatty acids, vitamins E and B-6, folate, magnesium); but not macadamia, walnuts, hickory nuts or black walnuts, pecans and Brazil nuts for dogs
  • Seeds (supply zinc, choline, vitamin E)
  • Spices (are anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory; eg. turmeric)
  • Herbs such as Ashwagandha, an anxiolytic to help reduce chronic stress

Supplements –

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid – Hemopet’s proprietary blend, BioBlend Super 6, contains alpha lipoic acid.
  • Medium-Chain Triglycerides – An excellent example of this is unrefined, expeller pressed coconut oil. The agreed-upon amount to start is 1/4 teaspoon for dogs less than 15 pounds and 1 tablespoon for larger dogs. You will need to balance coconut oil for weight management. If your companion dog is doing well and not exhibiting any side effects such as diarrhea and weight gain, the standard threshold is 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight per day. Coconut oil is high in fat and can cause diarrhea if too much is given.
  • Melatonin
  • S-Adenosylmethionine (SAM-e)
  • Phosphatidylserine – Is found in many cognitive support blends. Two well-known examples are Senilife and Aktivait.


Bray, Emily E et al. “Associations between physical activity and cognitive dysfunction in older companion dogs: results from the Dog Aging Project.” GeroScience vol. 45,2 (2023): 645-661. doi:10.1007/s11357-022-00655-8,

Dodds, Jean. Exercising Your Companion Dog and Mental Health, Hemopet, 20 Jan. 2020,

Madari, Aladar, et al. “Assessment of severity and progression of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome using the canine dementia scale (cades).” Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol. 171, Oct. 2015, pp. 138–145,,

Salvin, Hannah E et al. “The canine cognitive dysfunction rating scale (CCDR): a data-driven and ecologically relevant assessment tool.” Veterinary journal (London, England : 1997) vol. 188,3 (2011): 331-6. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2010.05.014,

Skoumalova, A et al. “The role of free radicals in canine counterpart of senile dementia of the Alzheimer type.” Experimental gerontology vol. 38,6 (2003): 711-9. doi:10.1016/s0531-5565(03)00071-8,

Yarborough, Sarah et al. “Evaluation of cognitive function in the Dog Aging Project: associations with baseline canine characteristics.” Scientific reports vol. 12,1 13316. 25 Aug. 2022, doi:10.1038/s41598-022-15837-9, navigation


Maintenance Ear Cleaning

Whole Dog Journal Editorial Staff – March 20, 2024

Holistic veterinarian Stacey Hershman, of Nyack, New York, took an interest in ear infections when she became a veterinary technician in her teens. “This is a subject that isn’t covered much in vet school,” she says. “I learned about treating ear infections from the veterinarians I worked with over the years. Because they all had different techniques, I saw dozens of different treatments, and I kept track of what worked and what didn’t.”

Maintenance Cleaning

Dr. Hershman’s healthy ears program starts with maintenance cleaning with ordinary cotton balls and cotton swabs. “This makes a lot of people nervous,” she says, “but the canine ear canal isn’t straight like the canal in our ears. Assuming you’re reasonably gentle, you can’t puncture the ear drum or do any structural damage.”

Moisten the ear with green tea brewed as for drinking and cooled to room temperature, or use an acidic ear cleanser that does not contain alcohol. Dr. Hershman likes green tea for its mildness and its acidifying, antibacterial properties, but she also recommends peach-scented Derma- Pet MalAcetic Otic Ear Cleanser or Halo Natural Herbal Ear Wash.

“Don’t pour the cleanser into the dog’s ear,” she warns, “or it will just wash debris down and sit on the ear drum, irritating it.” Instead, she says, lift the dog’s ear flap while holding a moistened cotton ball between your thumb and index finger. Push the cotton down the opening behind the tragus (the horizontal ridge you see when you lift the ear flap) and scoop upward. Use a few dry cotton balls to clean out normal waxy buildup.

Next, push a Q-tip into the vertical ear canal until it stops, then scoop upward while rubbing it against the walls of the vertical canal. Repeat several times, rubbing on different sides of the vertical canal. Depending on how much debris is present in each ear, you can moisten one or several cotton balls and use two or more Q-tips.

“You don’t want to push so hard that you cause pain,” she says, “but for maintenance cleaning using gentle pressure, it’s impossible to harm the eardrum. I refer to the external ear canal as an L-shaped tunnel, and I tell owners to think of the vertical canal as a cone of cartilage. People are always amazed at how deep the dog’s ear canal can go. I often have them hold the end of the Q-tip while I demonstrate cleaning so they feel confident about doing it correctly without hurting their dogs.”

If excessive discharge requires the use of five or more Q-tips, or if the discharge is thick, black, or malodorous, Dr. Hershman recommends an ear flush.

For more on diagnosing and treating ear infections, purchase Ear Infections by Whole Dog Journal.

6 Household Items Toxic to Dogs

from the Whole Foods Journal

By Editorial Staff Published:February 9, 2024

Dog Dangers eBook from Whole Dog Journal

This probably goes without saying, but always keep potentially harmful items in closets, drawers, or cabinets that your dog can’t open, not on a table or countertop or in a bag left on the floor. Make sure your kids understand these rules. And always supervise your dog’s play indoors and out. A curious puppy or dog can quickly find a way into even items that seem harmless — but can actually be quite harmful to pets. Here’s a rundown of common things you might have in your home.

  1. Xylitol. It’s a low-calorie sweetener that is derived from birch trees. It was first created in Finland during World War II, when sugar supplies were interrupted. Xylitol has a lot of dental benefits for humans, including the prevention of cavities, dental plaque, dry mouth, and bad breath. It also has the unique ability to remineralize tooth enamel. You can find xylitol in candy, nasal sprays, mouthwash, gum and as an artificial sweetener. Dogs, however, should not consume xylitol. In dogs, xylitol causes a rapid drop in blood sugar. This can cause seizures in dogs, which sometimes lead to death.
  2. Chocolate. While the rule that the darker the chocolate, the healthier it is may be true for people, the opposite is true for dogs. Chocolate’s problem ingredients are theobromine and caffeine, which dogs absorb through their gastrointestinal tracts too fast and put damaging stress on the liver. In dark chocolate, these naturally occuring ingredients are more concentrated and are likely to lead to serious problems, death included. Note: Cocoa powder, in some cases, can be as concentrated as dark or baking chocolate. Even cocoa bean shell mulch, a popular garden product, can be toxic when swallowed by chocolate-craving chow hounds.
  3. Grapes and Raisins. The toxicity of grapes to dogs is still not really understood by scientists. Reactions vary from dog to dog. Some dogs can eat grapes regularly and never have problems. Accidentally eating a few grapes probably won’t affect a dog of any size. But when ingested in siginificant quantities – as little as 2.5 ounces – this fruit can cause kidney failure.
  4. Onions. Onions and their cousins, garlic, are rich in a compound called thiosulphate, which is toxic to dogs. Being much more thiosulphate-potent than garlic, onions pose a threat to dogs if they eat just a single serving – about one good-sized onion. Thiosulphate causes hemolytic anemia (“Heinz factor”) in dogs, a condition that bursts red blood cells. Symptoms of hemolytic anemia can develop in a range of time – generally within a few hours, but can also be after a few days. Signs of hemolytic anemia include depression, weakness, no interest in food, vomiting and diarrhea. In a progressed case, the dog’s urine will become red from dam-aged blood cells. As oxygen-carrying red blood cells die off and leave the dog’s body, the dog becomes suffocated.
  5. Garlic. Garlic is a tricky one because when used topically and sprinkled over food, it is great for dogs. It fights ear infections, internal infections, boosts immune systems and lowers blood sugar. But it also contains thiosulphate. Many holistic veterinarians and health care experts believe that feeding doses up to 1 small clove of garlic per 20 pounds of body weight per day are not likely to pose problems for dogs. When uses topically for wounds or ear infections, it is harm-less. If your dog were to eat a whole head of garlic, on the other hand, refer to the earlier section on onions.
  6. Macadamia Nuts. The good news is that we have no documented cases of macadamia nut poisoning that has led to death. It alleviates after it passes through the dog – in around 12 to 36 hours. The bad news is symptoms are dramatic. Hind-end weakness, lethargy, depression, vomiting, and diarrhea all come after eating as little as 1 gram of macadamia nuts per pound of a dog’s body weight.

For a more comprehensive guide on keeping your dog safe, download Dog Dangers now.



VMBS NEWS — March 28, 2024

A black and white border collie puppy lays on a crochet blanket looking tired as if they have parvovirus.

Springtime brings a vibrant burst of life and marks a time when many puppies are born. 

As a result, the spring also presents peaks in canine health concerns that can impact puppies in the months after they are born. Among these is parvovirus, a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease.

Dr. Kathleen Aicher, an assistant professor at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explains why parvovirus is so contagious between dogs, emphasizing the vulnerability of puppies and how crucial vaccinations and treatment are in preventing the infection from spreading.

The Role Of Parvo Vaccinations

There are several factors that make parvovirus a highly contagious infection that can be fatal without prompt and intensive veterinary care.

“Parvovirus is very easily transmitted between dogs because it takes very little exposure to cause infection, and dogs who are infected can shed the virus for a few days before they exhibit symptoms, unknowingly exposing other dogs to the virus,” Aicher said. “The virus is also very resistant to extreme temperatures and cleaning, so it can remain in the environment for a long time, putting dogs at further risk.”

Parvovirus is especially dangerous for puppies, who have weaker immune systems compared to adult dogs and are highly susceptible to parvo until they are fully vaccinated.

In fact, most puppies and dogs that get sick with parvovirus either have not been vaccinated or have not yet completed their vaccination schedule.

“Puppies may get some initial parvovirus protection by antibodies from the mother, if she is vaccinated, but it is unknown how long this protection might last,” Aicher explained. “For these reasons, there are well-established vaccine schedule guidelines that veterinarians follow to keep puppies protected during the time that they are most vulnerable to infection.”

Vaccinations against parvovirus — which have significantly reduced the number of infected dogs — should initially be given by veterinarians when puppies are 6-8 weeks old, followed by boosters up to 16-20 weeks old. 

Until they are fully vaccinated, Aicher encourages owners to keep their puppies away from areas where dogs congregate, such as dog parks, doggy day care, boarding facilities, and pet stores, particularly if they are displaying any signs of illness. 

“If owners want to begin training their puppy in a class with other owners and puppies, they may be able to find places in which there is a policy of only allowing healthy, vaccinated puppies and that practice effective and regular disinfection of the facility,” Aicher said. “Owners might also bring their puppy to spend time with fully vaccinated, healthy adult dogs who belong to friends or family members.”

Battling Parvo With Veterinary Care

Despite the effectiveness of vaccines, owners should remain aware of parvovirus symptoms, as early detection and treatment can make a significant difference in recovery for puppies.

“Parvovirus is always suspected highly for any suddenly sick puppy, regardless of vaccination history, and any such puppy should see their veterinarian right away,” Aicher said. “Classic symptoms of parvovirus include severe diarrhea, particularly with blood or a very bad smell. Puppies may also be vomiting, have a poor appetite, feel warm or very cool to the touch, or act lethargic and weak, with very low energy.”

Because of how infectious parvovirus is, Aicher advises owners to contact their veterinarian before bringing in a sick puppy for an appointment, allowing the veterinarian’s office to take precautions that protect both the puppy and other dogs in the hospital. 

“Many veterinary hospitals will treat any sick puppy as a parvovirus suspect until proven otherwise, which means they might wear protective gear, use a special exam room, or want to test your puppy for parvo before bringing them into the hospital,” Aicher explained. “The typical test for parvovirus is very easy to perform and results can be obtained very quickly.”

Veterinarians will then discuss the diagnosis in more detail and share their concerns based on the puppy’s history and physical exam. Aicher noted that, frequently, infected puppies will need to remain hospitalized for supportive care until they recover because of how sick they can become.

Despite the dangers of parvovirus, the impact of the disease can be reduced with proper vaccination and swift veterinary care, ensuring that puppies grow up healthy and happy.

Pet Talk is a service of the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

What Is a Veterinary Behaviorist?


The best in health, wellness, and positive training from America’s leading dog experts

By  Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KAPublished: March 2, 2024

When neither your dog trainer nor your veterinarian have been able to solve your dog’s problem behavior – such as aggression, extreme fear, obsessive/compulsive behavior, or separation anxiety – a consultation with a board certified veterinary behaviorist is advisable.

All experts approach problems from the perspective of their education and experience. Given a dog with problematic behavior, a trainer may recommend equipment changes, behavior modification, and management steps. A veterinarian may prescribe medications that reduce anxiety and increase social behavior.

A consultation with a board certified veterinary behaviorist can help solve the most troublesome dog behaviours.

Aggression, self-mutilation, phobic or extreme fear, obsessive or compulsive behaviors, and severe separation anxiety are the behaviors that most frequently prompt a consultation with a veterinary behaviorist.

However, behavioral problems can result from neurochemical imbalances, medical conditions, past life experiences, current living conditions, and every combination of these. Veterinary behaviorists are uniquely positioned to use tools from both medicine and behavior science to most accurately diagnose and efficiently treat dogs with severely problematic behavior, such as aggression, self-mutilation, phobic or extremely fearful behavior, obsessive or compulsive behaviors, and severe separation anxiety.

One of the most valuable benefits of working with a veterinary behaviorist is their extensive knowledge of how psychotropic medications can further your dog’s behavior modification program. (By law, only veterinarians can prescribe or give you prescription medication for your dog.)

Some owners are resistant to using behavior medication for their dogs. Sometimes their resistance stems from working with a veterinarian who wasn’t experienced enough with behavior-modifying medications to tweak the dog’s prescriptions for the best results. The client’s dog may have been given medication that was too strong (“I don’t want my dog to be a zombie!”) or too weak (“It didn’t do anything!”).

This is sad, because often medication can make the most impactful contribution to improving the dog’s quality of life. In many cases, the right medication(s) can make a good training professional’s behavior-modification program much more successful, much sooner. If you are working with a skilled training professional, the addition of the right medication might make the visit with the behaviorist unnecessary!

But if neither your trainer nor your vet have answers to your dog’s challenging behavior – or when they are failing to work together to provide an all-encompassing treatment plan for your dog – a consultation with a veterinary behaviorist is well worth the cost.


Would it surprise you to learn that literally anyone can call himself or herself a behaviorist? The title means nothing. There are any number of dog trainers – qualified and unqualified, educated and uneducated – who call themselves behaviorists. However, here are a few titles that include “behaviorist” that actually do mean something:

-Veterinary behaviorist. Only licensed veterinarians who have been certified by the can use the title of veterinary behaviorist. The formal term is Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (DACVB). You can find veterinary behaviorists at

-There is another professional organization that has “veterinary” and “behavior” in its title – the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) – but it does not provide certification of any kind. Veterinarians and persons holding a PhD in animal behavior or a related field may join this membership organization, but it does not confer certifications or presuppose a level of expertise in animal behavior. Behavior consultants who are members of AVSAB are listed on its website (

-Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) and Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (ACAAB). These are scientists, educators, or other animal professionals with advanced academic backgrounds in the principles of animal behavior. Certification for these titles is provided by the Animal Behavior Society, which describes its certificants this way: “A professional applied animal behaviorist has demonstrated expertise in the principles of animal behavior, in the research methods of animal behavior, in the application of animal behavior principles to applied behavior problems, and in the dissemination of knowledge about animal behavior through teaching and research.” You can find these professionals at

-Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) and Certified Animal Behavior Consultant (CABC). These certifications are bestowed by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), which offers animal credentialing examinations for several animal species and specialties. Obtaining a CDBC credential indicates a superior level of knowledge as well as skill in practical application of behavior change principles following least intrusive, minimally aversive (LIMA)-based strategies.

What to Expect From a Veterinary Behaviorist Consultation

A particularly thorough medical and behavior history is the first prerequisite for any veterinary behaviorist consultation, with the behavior history being the longest and most detailed part of the intake form. When did the problematic behavior first start, how often does it happen, and how has it changed?

The behaviorist also needs to know what interventions have been tried and how the dog responded to those treatments. The intake form will also ask the owner, “What are your goals for your dog? What outcome do you hope for?”

If the problematic behavior is unlikely to be observed in a veterinary office setting, the owner will be asked to try to capture video of the dog while he’s displaying the troubling behavior. Video can often provide the most valuable clues to the causes or significant contributors to the dog’s behavior.

After reviewing all of the above, the veterinary behaviorist will then meet with the dog and owner in order to observe the dog’s behavior first hand (or at least via a video conference).

At the end of the first visit, the client is usually given some management strategies that can be implemented right away – especially if the dog’s behavior has the potential for endangering anyone.

Afterward, the veterinary behaviorist will prepare a comprehensive treatment plan for the dog’s owner, which is typically reviewed and discussed in a subsequent appointment. The plan may include a request for medical tests (or further medical tests) in order to diagnose or rule out medical contributors to the problematic behavior. Usually, it will also include recommendations for the owner to undertake behavior modification exercises under the guidance of a training professional working with or recommended by the veterinary behaviorist.

The treatment plan may also recommend the use of supportive therapies such as supplements, nutritional therapy, and/or prescription medications (when appropriate).

Because there are few veterinary behaviorists, it’s impossible for many dog owners to book an in-person consultation with one. That’s why most of these professionals also offer phone or video consultations with their clients’ veterinarians. Instead of seeing the dog and owner, they will review the veterinarian’s report of the dog’s issues and directly communicate with the dog’s veterinarian to offer suggestions for further medical testing, medication, and behavioral interventions.


Veterinary behaviorists are veterinarians who have achieved board certification in the specialty of veterinary behavior. Certification takes a minimum of three years of study and training after a candidate has obtained a veterinary graduate degree.  The certifying board for this specialty is the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB); certificants, who are known as Diplomates, may use the initials DACVB along with DVM after their names.

To gain board certification, candidates must complete at least one year of internship or primary care practice. They must also undertake additional behavior-specific training, which includes at least three years of case supervision by an established DACVB. They must also conduct original behavior research that earns publication in a peer-reviewed journal, author three formal case reports that are approved by a review committee of Diplomates, and pass a rigorous two-day board examination administered by the ACVB.

There are only about 95 DACVBs located throughout the world (though other countries also certify veterinary behaviorists).

Some veterinary behaviorists have a solo practice, where they provide clients with support and referrals to other training or medical professionals as necessary. Others work in group practices, where other staff veterinarians can provide any diagnostic tests that the veterinary behaviorist recommends and staff trainers will work with the client and the client’s dog on behavior modification exercises.

Sample Case History

We asked a veterinary behaviorist to describe a typical case to illustrate how these professionals draw on their medical and behavioral expertise differently than their vet or trainer peers. Chris Pachel, DVM, DACVB, CABC, owner of the Animal Behavior Clinic in Portland, Oregon, accommodated us with a description of one of his veterinarian-to-veterinarian consultations.

The patient was a 3-year-old, intact male Labrador who had perpetrated a number of troubling episodes of what was described as unpredictable and unprovoked aggression in his home. His humans were highly experienced dog owners who were active in dog sports and had other dogs in the home, including additional dogs who would sometimes stay with them in a casual boarding scenario.

While the patient was usually a social butterfly with an affable temperament, the owners described a number of incidents where he had suddenly behaved aggressively. Fortunately, they had three of these incidents captured on video, thanks to their home security system.

One incident, where the patient became aggressive with his male owner, occurred in the backyard of the home when other dogs were present. In another incident, the dog aggressed toward that man’s mother when she moved a chair that was three or four feet from the dog. In the third incident captured on video, the patient aggressed toward a visiting dog.

Since the patient was perfectly social and appropriate in between these incidents – even in situations that were identical to the conditions in which he showed aggression – the owners brought the dog to their vet. About six months prior to the first aggressive incident, the dog had slipped and fallen with his front legs splayed out in an unnatural position. His owners were concerned that he might be experiencing pain that caused him to lash out at others.

On physical exam, their vet did find some pain and prescribed pain medication. The dog’s pain went away, but the troubling behavior did not. So, with the clients’ approval, the veterinarian scheduled a consultation with Dr. Pachel.

“It’s always necessary to have someone provide a thorough physical examination, but it doesn’t have to be me,” Dr. Pachel explains. In this case, he discussed the results of the primary care veterinarian’s physical exam, neurologic exam, and notes regarding the dog’s response to pain medication; he also read the behavior history and viewed the owner’s video clips.

From early on, Dr. Pachel suspected a medical cause for the aggression. “What stood out to me was the inconsistent relationship between the antecedents (things that happened around the dog prior to the aggression) and the behavior,” Dr. Pachel says.

“Seeing the variability and expression of those aggressive behaviors, and understanding that the dog has been in identical situations hundreds of times without eliciting any aggression – the most notable thing about the incidents were how inconsistent they were. That increased my level of suspicion that something internal, not external, was driving the incidents. The inconsistency also made me think about potential causes that have a waxing and waning, variable expression, such as hormonal issues or endocrine- related disorders.”

Dr. Pachel first suggested that the dog’s vet run a comprehensive thyroid profile (laboratory test). Dogs whose bodies produce too much or too little thyroid often experience changes in behavior and coping skills. However, the test results were normal.

Next, he considered endocrine conditions that could have an intermittent influence, impacting the dog’s ability to respond to mild provocations and stress. He suggested testing the dog for Addison’s disease – which may have appeared to the dog’s primary care vet as a stretch. “The dog had never had an Addisonian crisis (collapse, lethargy, dehydration), his electrolytes were normal – there were none of the hints in his bloodwork that would make you want to run an ACTH stim test (a test that demonstrates the capacity of the dog’s adrenal glands to produce cortisol),” describes Dr. Pachel. “It was the waxing and waning nature of the aberrant behavior and lack of response to other treatments that led me in that direction.”

While he may have thought the test was a shot in the dark, when the results came back, the dog’s primary care vet was happy to report that the picture was now clear: The dog had Addison’s disease, a deficiency of the hormones that regulate electrolytes, blood pressure, hydration, metabolism, and … stress responses! Addison’s patients require lifelong supplementation of those hormones, but thankfully, with treatment, the dog’s troubling behaviors stopped.

Is it just marketing?

It bears repeating: Anyone can call themselves a behaviorist. The term doesn’t guarantee that they are educated or experienced with complex behavior problems. When hiring a dog trainer, we recommend you choose a behavior professional who is certified by and/or a member of one of the organizations we list here:

Any ethical behavior professional will explore your dog’s behavior with you, help with behavior modification if they can, and refer you to a veterinary behaviorist if they realize your dog’s issues are beyond their experience and capabilities, or if their efforts to help are not successful.

Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, grew up in a family that was blessed with lots of animal companions: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, goats, and more, and has maintained that model ever since. She spent the first 20 years of her professional life working at the Marin Humane Society in Marin County, California, for most of that time as a humane officer and director of operations. She continually studied the art and science of dog training and behavior during that time, and in 1996, left MHS to start her own training and behavior business, Peaceable Paws. Pat has earned a number of titles from various training organizations, including Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She also founded Peaceable Paws Academies for teaching and credentialing dog training and behavior professionals, who can earn “Pat Miller Certified Trainer” certifications. She and her husband Paul and an ever-changing number of dogs, horses, and other animal companions live on their 80-acre farm in Fairplay, Maryland.

Household Cleaner Puts Puppies at Risk, a Veterinary Toxicologist Says

Many cleaning products contain chemicals that, in large enough amounts, can be toxic to animals.



Cleaning products are crucial to keeping our homes clean and fresh. But are they safe for the furry creatures that live with us? Pets like cats and dogs stick their noses in so many things, not all of which are good for them. With that in mind, here’s how to ensure your cleaning routine is safe for your non-human best friend.


Many cleaning products contain chemicals that, in large enough amounts, can be toxic to humans and animals. Senior veterinary toxicologist Ahna Brutlag at the Pet Poison Helpline and member of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology, says bleach, ammonium, phosphoric acid, hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide, and any type of phenol all appear in common household cleaners. When applied to the eyes or skin, like the exposed paw pads, they can irritate and even burn your furry friend.

But there is some good news: The concentration of these products matters, Brutlag says. Multipurpose surface and glass cleaners, for example, “have a pretty wide margin of safety,” she tells Inverse. What’s most crucial is using these products according to their directions. For example, if a spray directs you to rinse a surface with water after applying, then you certainly should.

Brutlag also suggests keeping pets away from freshly spritzed areas. A rule of thumb is that the area is safe again once you can no longer smell it. At that point, the spray has set and evaporated into the ether. Opening a window or turning on a ventilator while you’re cleaning can help to circulate fresh air for you and your pets and get rid of the smell faster.


Opting for homemade cleaners made from vinegar, baking soda, and lemon isn’t necessarily safer, either. Vinegar may seem like a more wholesome option, but it will still sting your cat’s tongue if they walk through some and then groom themselves.

Brutlag calls out exotic pets. Birds are vulnerable to inhaling airborne particles that aerosols and spray bottles produce, so removing them from a room when using these chemicals is imperative. Amphibians can absorb compounds through their skin, so ensuring they’re safely locked away in their enclosures is a must. Once a cleaner’s scent disappears, feel free to uncover their tank again.


More potent, corrosive cleaners like oven, drain, and toilet cleaners and rust removers, “have the potential to be significantly more harmful for people and pets.” These more caustic ingredients come in higher concentrations, so these products are much less diluted. “An ingredient is safe or dangerous based on the concentration,” she says.

These products also have a significantly higher or lower pH balance, which measures how acid or alkaline a substance is on a scale of 0 to 14. Water, for example, is completely neutral at 7. Bleach, oven cleaner, and drain cleaner come in at 13 and 14, making them extremely basic. These extremes make them such effective cleansers, but if you’re still concerned about their potency, you can dilute them further.

Dogs, especially puppies, are at high risk for poisoning because of their penchant for eating foreign objects. The form a cleaner comes in may also make it more dangerous to animals. According to David Dorman, professor of toxicology at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, bite-sized dish and washing machine pods are of particular risk to dogs, who love putting things in their mouth. He urges pet owners not to discount any substance as a potential harm. This isn’t to say you should stop buying them, but rather that you should use and store them carefully.

Another aspect of cleaning and pet safety comes from how well-prepared you are. Dorman has three safety rules: “Prevention, prevention, and prevention,” he tells Inverse. Properly storing cleaning agents out of reach can save you and your pet a world of suffering. If that fails, then having a poison control number on the fridge means less vital time wasted looking up information.

If your pet walks through a puddle of cleaner or spills some on their coat, their skin or eyes may burn. You may notice your pet pawing at their eyes or chewing on a body part more than usual. In some cases, the strongest corrosives can even burn your pet’s tongue. Dorman suggests doing your best to wash the exposed area off with running water, though he acknowledges not every pet, especially those in discomfort, will be amenable to that.

Household cleaners are safe to keep around your pets as long as you’re mindful of where you keep them and how you use them. Provided you do that, cleaning around your pets should be a stress-free chore.


Angel Fund Helps Cheeto, a Tabby, with Blocked Bladder

One day a few weeks ago, Ashley Bettencourt came home from her job as a pre-school teacher and found her tabby cat Cheeto in distress.

“He wasn’t himself,” she said. “He wasn’t eating.  He was lethargic and was lying on the tile in the hallway.  He wasn’t moving.  Nothing worked that I knew would make him excited. 

“I thought maybe he was constipated but I pressed on his belly and it was really hard.  It made me nervous.  So I called the Cat Care Clinic where my in-laws take their cats.  After taking him in for an examination, I was told that he had a blocked bladder – he wasn’t able to urinate.”

That was on a Friday.  Dr. Maggie Mills treated Cheeto.  “They didn’t have to do surgery but they kept him in the hospital the whole weekend so they could keep an eye on him,” Ashley said.  “They put in a catheter.  But they said he took it out himself.  So they put the tubes back in and he didn’t fight them again. 

“When I took him in to the clinic, I wasn’t expecting what was coming,” she said. “I thought he was constipated and they would fix it and I would take him home.   So when it came time to pay I was like, ‘I can’t do this.’

But the staff at Cat Care was understanding and helpful.   April, the assistant practice manager, “was so sweet and nice,” Ashley said.   “She printed me out a list of foundations that could help and she pointed out who to call and told me what to do.   Angel Fund was the first to say, ‘We’ll help you.’  I had never done something like that before.  It was overwhelming in a good way.

“I went home and I cried that night.  I thought what happened was amazing.  I couldn’t believe it.”  She said that she found another charitable group that helped pay her bill.  And the Cat Care Clinic found some money from another fund and they used that to help as well, she said.

“They said (at Cat Care) that, if we couldn’t do this, they would have had to euthanize Cheeto.  He always had been such a healthy cat that is horrible to even think about.  I love that Angel Fund and the veterinary association are letting people know about this.   I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for Dr. Mills and April.”

Cheeto recovered quickly.  “Now, he is good, he’s happy,” Ashley said.  “He’s lost a lot of weight.  But he’s eating well. He’s drinking a lot of water.   And he’s fine, he’s active and he’s playing with our other cats.”

Cheeto is the father of the other cats, Roxy, Khola Man and Sprinkles – all named by Ashley’s daughters.  There is also a dog in the family, Benny a miniature Doberman, with whom Cheeto is a best buddy.  “We are a house that loves our fur babies,” Ashley said.

Cheeto became a member of the family after Ashley’s husband found him hiding among tires at the warehouse where he worked.  He was a three-week-old kitten at the time and had to be bottle fed.

Ashley is a single parent to three daughters: Bella, 13; Skylar, 11 and Audrina, 7.  She loves her job as a pre-school teacher.  “It’s challenging but I love it.  my students are four and five.  They talk fast but they’re willing to learn and they love it.”