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Not So Sweet: Sugar Substitute Caution

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Not So Sweet: Lethal Sugar Substitute, Caution

Of the many common sugar substitutes, Xylitol appears to be the only one dangerous and potentially lethal to dogs; it is a more potent toxin to dogs than chocolate, yet many owners are unaware of the serious risk xylitol ingestion poses to their dog.  Though not toxic to humans, a dog experiences severe illness often occurring within the first half hour following ingestion. Read More >


Adverse Food Reactions

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Adverse Food Reactions

Adverse food reaction (AFR), food intolerance, and food allergy are terms often misused interchangeably to describe a pet’s abnormal physical responses resulting from the ingestion of a food source. This also includes food flavoring, preservatives, or other food-like products. In most cases, allergy is technically a misnomer, though it helps people understand the severity of their pet’s problem with food. A true allergy is based on an abnormal or overactive immunologic response, while an AFR is an abnormal response often based on other host factors not directly linked to the immune system; food appears to be the main trigger for the symptoms and treatment is geared toward avoidance of trigger foods. Read More >


Big Hearted Companions

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Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Improvements in available health care has many pets living longer than previous life expectancy estimates. Longer life affords us more time with our companions, yet comes with additional health risks and concerns to provide quality within those extra years.  Considerations to keep in mind include changes in your pet’s  nutritional needs, lifestyle management, and management of chronic diseases. One disease that affects the hearts of adult dogs is dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Read More >


Foul Breath

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Canine Oral Hygiene

What pet owner doesn’t appreciate the wet-nose nudges and licks of hello from their furry companion? Maybe an owner whose pet has stinky or downright putrid breath! Bad breath is more than unpleasant: It is often an indicator of underlying health problems in the mouth.  Unfortunately, treatment options can be limited once dental disease progresses to the point that owners notice a problem. Read More >


Canine Demodicosis

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Not All Mites Are Created Equal
Demodex Mites

Demodicosis is a condition that occurs when the normally self-limiting population of demodex
mites on a dog goes rogue. They are microscopic parasitic mites that inhabit hair follicles, oil
glands, and skin. Demodex mites are non-contagious, host-specific, and are a normal skin
inhabitant of dogs. Demodex mites are NOT Sarcoptes mites (which cause very itchy and
contagious sarcoptic mange).

Dogs of any age can have demodicosis. Young dogs most often get a transient overgrowth of
mites that is localized to a few spots on the face or legs (see below: localized demodicosis). With
a healthy immune response, the majority of these cases will resolve without treatment.
Occasionally demodicosis completely takes the skin of its host hostage (see below: generalized
demodicosis); it spreads to encompass very large areas of skin resulting in massive hair loss
and other complications. This form of demodicosis occurs sporadically in young dogs but
accounts for the majority of the adult cases of demodicosis. The demodex life cycle is completed
on the dog host. Dogs are infected with mites from their mother while nursing during the first
week of life and will have mites throughout their lifetime (in low numbers).

Localized Demodicosis
This form of demodicosis presents as small areas of patchy hair loss and flakey skin. It is
suspected that while the immune system is still developing, small populations of mites are
allowed to overpopulate. In young dogs this is called juvenile focal demodicosis (commonly
diagnosed in short-coated or wire-haired dogs and purebred dogs). Focal areas of hair loss are
usually on the face, around the eyes, or on the legs. Once the immune system has appropriately
responded to the parasite, the patchy hair loss will resolve without treatment in the majority of
cases. Infections that do not resolve within a few months or continue to spread require
treatments. Adults dogs very rarely get this type of infection.

Generalized Demodicosis
Generalized demodicosis occurs in both young and adult dogs and requires a thorough workup
by a veterinarian to narrow down potential underlying causes. This condition can result in very
large patches of hair loss in multiple places, oily midline skin secretions, discoloration and
thickening of the skin, and an overall ill-thrift appearance. It almost always indicates an
underlying health issue no matter what the age of onset, so be alert if these symptoms occur.
Underlying health concerns could include: cancer, allergies, genetic propensity, endocrine
disease, or other conditions or medications causing immunosuppression.

Demodicosis can mimic other diseases. Your pet’s current and previous health history are a
very important part of diagnostics. Dogs with unbalanced nutrition, poor preventative care, or
those living in chronic states of stress are at higher risk of developing demodicosis in addition to
many other health conditions. This is why preventative care and regular checkups are important
in all pets to catch any abnormal or unhealthy conditions as early as possible.

Your local veterinarian can diagnose demodex with some in-house tests. Skin scrapings and
hair plucking from affected areas are the most common test samples. These can be examined
microscopically for signs of mites. In dogs with deep skin infections or severely itchy or inflamed
skin other tests may be utilized. In adult dogs with demodicosis, other diagnostics are also
utilized to determine if an underlying health condition is present.

Once diagnosed, treatment can last several months and is dependant upon the dog’s response
to treatment and other concurrent health conditions. Treatment involves using miticidal
(mite-killing) chemicals. There are many available treatments are not safe to use without prior
knowledge of risks and side effects of the chemical in your pet. Your veterinarian can help
choose the correct miticidal drug and treatment regimen for your pet. Routine vet visits and skin
testing will be needed to confirm successful treatment outcome.

After Thought
The avermectin family of drugs has been a standby in the treatment of demodex as well as
other canine parasites. While a very useful drug, it can be deadly in the wrong breed of dog or
at the wrong dosages or when used in heartworm positive dogs. Never use avermectins in
herding breed dogs (like collies or shepherds) without discussing the risks in detail with your
pet’s veterinarian. There is a genetic test available to determine if your dog has the avermectin
sensitive gene. Other equally effective chemicals are available for at-risk breeds and the new
chewable type of flea and tick preventatives (isoxazolines) have also shown promise as


Amanda Burow, D.V.M. (Dr. B), is a graduate of Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Burow’s patient list includes hunting dogs of all varieties, as well as several field trial dogs and full time sporting guide dogs. In addition to practicing general veterinary medicine, she has special interest in the areas of preventive care, emergency medicine, and dermatology. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors and on the lake, staying active, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

Mud River is proud to share these tips from Dr. B with our customers. Keep in mind it is best to work with your local veterinarian to determine the needs for your animals.


Canine Bloat

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Why So Serious?

Canine Bloat
Canine bloat (a.k.a Gastric Dilatation Volvulus or GDV) is an emergency condition that is
initiated within the stomach. Under suboptimal circumstances the stomach can become overly
distended and twist upon itself. This agonizingly painful and rapid event becomes life
threatening within a few hours of onset if intensive emergency treatment is not initiated.
Frequently, cases are fatal even with treatment. No single cause is identifiable but certain dog
breeds do indeed have the deck stacked against them, so to speak. The rapid sequence of
events that occur from GDV are toxic and potentially deadly.

Read More >


First Aid for Hot Spots

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First Aid for Hot Spots

Face, neck, hips, and above the tail: What do these areas have in common?  These are the most common locations of the emergency skin condition called moist pyodermatitis, often called ‘hot spots’.  The location of the hot spot can help determine the underlying cause.

Hot spots usually start out small yet grow in size rapidly (within a few hours). Chewing or licking at the sore exacerbates the problem and the sore may quickly become infected.   Like the name suggests, hot spots may feel ‘hot’ or warm and are an extremely painful, itchy, and often oozing area of skin. It is one of a few skin-related emergencies frequently treated by veterinarians. Read More >


Inside the Canine Brain: Part II

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Inside the Canine Brain: Part II

Part II: Seizure Diagnostics and Lifestyle Management

Seizures can occur due to an extensive list of causes: metabolic imbalances, toxins, brain tumors, infectious diseases, brain trauma and scarring, immune-mediated diseases, stroke and congenital abnormalities (birth defects).  Sometimes, dogs have episodes that look like seizures but are actually collapsing episodes not directly related to the brain. Testing is necessary to narrow down the list of differentials.

Previous health history, as well as the history surrounding the seizure-like event, is always important for correct diagnosis and treatment. Age and breed of the dog are also considered. A routine baseline of data is recommended for any dog exhibiting seizure-like activity. This includes a physical exam, blood work, and urinalysis. Additional testing may be warranted. Read More >


Inside the Canine Brain: Part I

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Image Credit: Briana Thompson “Dr. B has treated Mose for Seizures.”

Inside the Canine Brain

Part I: Seizures and First Aid

Brains are organs that communicate through pathways involving chemical and electrical signaling. In a healthy brain, this system is very tightly regulated. When the system does not function properly, communication occurs haphazardly and without proper regulation within the brain. Physically, this presents as seizures. Read More >


Dog Poisoning by Rodenticide

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Dog Poisoning by Rodenticide

Rodenticides: the basics

To kill off invasive pests like rats or mice, people often use rodenticides, commonly known as ‘rat poison’. These poisons, found in homes, farms, building sites, and commercial buildings, also pose a very real threat for our domestic animals who may ingest them accidentally.

If your dog ingests rodent poison (rodenticide), there are a few things your vet will need to know to help your pet:

  1. What time (approximately) did ingestion occur?
  2. What kind of poison (the name brand or the active ingredients list)?
  3. Approximate amount ingested
  4. Body weight of your dog

These facts will determine what treatment options will be most beneficial. Read More >