Aspirin & Benadryl


The information posted here is not meant to replace qualified veterinary care. It serves only as a quick guide to the appropriate dosage of Aspirin or Benadryl in dogs, as well as a convenient location to find information about the possible benefits or side-effects these drugs may have. Please consult your vet before giving your dog any medications, including over-the-counter medications, to ensure they are appropriate for your individual pet and situation.




  • Also known as: Acetylsalicylic acid
  • Used for: Short-term relief of pain and inflammation
  • Side effects: Stomach upset, kidney damage
  • Cautions: Avoid use in dogs with Von Willebrand disease, and pregnant or nursing females

Aspirin, an anti-inflammatory and pain medication, is often recommended by veterinarians to treat temporary pain, swelling, and inflammation in dogs. Some common uses of Aspirin include treating pain and swelling after an injury, such as a pulled muscle, or to treat the pain associated with arthritic flare-ups in older dogs.

Aspirin can be bought at any pharmacy, drug store, or grocery store – even some gas stations carry it. It’s available with and without coating and in three different dosages: low-dose at 81mg, sometimes called baby Aspirin; regular-strength at 325mg; and extra-strength at 500mg. Low-dose, safety-coated Aspirin is the best choice for use in dogs.

Because Aspirin is also a blood thinner, you shouldn’t use it in any dog that has Von Willebrand disease, a type of bleeding disorder common in some breeds such as German Shepherds. If you don’t know whether your dog may be affected, please consult your vet before giving Aspirin.

Aspirin should always be given with food and the recommended dose can be repeated once every 12 hours. The standard dose for Aspirin in dogs is 5 milligrams per pound of body weight – a 5lbs dog should receive no more than 25mg of Aspirin. (It is possible to overdose on Aspirin, but vets generally believe 5mg to 10mg per body weight to be a safe dose.)

The chart below gives dosage in grams, as well as approximate dosage in number of pills. Please use this information only as a guideline and check with your vet if you have additional questions.





  • Also known as: Diphenhydramine.
  • Used for: Allergy relief, inflammation caused by mast cell tumors, anxiety.
  • Side effects: Drowsiness.
  • Cautions: Generally, none.

Benadryl, an antihistamine, is often recommended by veterinarians to treat symptoms of allergic reactions in dogs, including itching, swelling, and hives caused by insect stings or bites, pollens, environmental factors, or vaccine reactions. Additionally, it’s used to relieve the symptoms of inflammation associated with mast cell tumors in dogs, and due to the drowsy effect it has on some pets, it can also be prescribed or recommended to help with motion sickness or anxiety.

Benadryl is generally a very safe medication for dogs and side-effects or overdoses are not common with recommended use. The standard dose for Benadryl in dogs is 0.8 to 1.8 milligrams per pound of body weight, and a good rule of thumb is 1mg per pound.

The chart below gives dosage in grams, as well as approximate dosage in number of pills. Please use this information only as a guideline and check with your vet if you have additional questions.


Q&A: Boarding


Photo credit: Fort Stewart MWR


Sabrina writes: “What should I ask about before I leave my dog with a boarding place?”




Even though I prefer to leave my dogs with a knowledgeable friend while I’m gone, that doesn’t always work out and I’ve had to board several dogs over the years. So here’s what I do when I’m looking for a new boarding place, which is a good way to find one that works for you, too:

(1) Google is your friend! 

A quick Google search will get you started with a list of boarding kennels in your area. Since most businesses now have websites or Facebook pages, you can check out several kennels from the comfort of your home. A good kennel website should give you information about their facilities, hours, services, and rates.

Based on the website, you can already rule out some facilities – for example, I look for a place that provides kennel runs (ideally with access to an outside run), rather than “kennel-free” boarding where groups of dogs are together in one open area.

(2) Read the reviews and ask around.

Did I mention what a great tool the Internet is? Read the reviews on kennels you found to learn about good and bad experiences other customers have had. It’s important to take reviews, especially on pages like Google and Yelp, with a grain of salt: people are more likely to leave bad reviews after an unpleasant experience than they are to leave good reviews if the service was up to snuff. At the same time, consider this: if a business has 50 reviews and they’re all negative, maybe it’s best to avoid them.

Aside from reviews, ask others for recommendations and opinions. Good sources for this are members of the local dog club, staff at your vet clinic, and local discussion boards of Facebook groups about dogs.

(3) Drop by for a visit.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s time to go see the kennels. You can get a hundred recommendations and look at a lot of beautiful websites, but that doesn’t compare to getting a first-hand look.

When I visit a kennel, I drop by unannounced during normal business hours. “Hi, I was in the neighborhood and I’m looking for a place to board my dog …” is always a good way to introduce yourself to the person behind the front counter. Ask them about the facility and services. Ask them what they need from you to board your dog. Ask them how far out you need to make reservations. Get their business card, a copy of their price list, and a brochure if they’re available. Then ask if you might see the boarding area.

NOTE: Unless the kennel is extremely busy with customers when you visit, I would always be weary of a facility that won’t give tours at all or that will only give tours by appointment. There’s no reason why a clean, safe facility wouldn’t let you have a look! (After all, you’ll put a member of your family into their care!)

Things to Look For or Ask About

What are their vaccine requirements?

Boarding kennels should ask for a copy of your dog’s shot record to ensure that they up-to-date. Most boarding kennels will (and should) require dogs to be current on rabies, DHPP, and bordetella (kennel cough) vaccines in order to be boarded.

Do they take unaltered males and females?

Many boarding kennels won’t take unaltered dogs, particularly unaltered females. If your dogs aren’t spayed or neutered due to medical reasons, because you’re showing in conformation, or because they are not yet fully grown, you’ll need to make sure the kennel will take them.

Will they feed your food (and supplements, if applicable)?

A good boarding facility should allow you to provide your dog’s own food. For most dogs, being boarded is a stressful experience without the added stress of being switched to a completely different food. You may be required to package individual mealsto make feeding easier on the kennel staff. Ziploc bags are great for this purpose – make sure to label them with the dog’s name!

Is there someone on site overnight or outside of “business hours”?

Fortunately, a lot of boarding kennels nowadays are family businesses located alongside the family home on their property, but even a commercial facility should have some other sort of supervision at the kennels at night and over the weekend to ensure dogs’ safety and well-being. (Ideally, staff should be trained in canine first aid, too, and have emergency numbers for local vet clinics in an easily accessible place.)

Do they provide exercise?

If a boarding kennel does not have indoor/outdoor runs for your pet, the fee should include at least two daily walks. Additional walks and one-on-one playtime should also be available for an additional fee. Remember, you’re paying the kennel to take care of your family member, not rent out a storage space.

Will they give medication / care for a special needs pet?

If you have a young puppy, a senior, or any pet that has special needs, you need to ensure that the kennel is able to provide appropriate care. Not all boarding facilities have staff trained to administer a daily pill or injection and many have little or no experience with pets that are deaf, blind, or otherwise disabled.



Do you have a dog question? Contact us!

Warning: Hartz & Sergeants

Cheaper isn't Better Image

Cheaper isn’t better – and in this case, it’s not even “as good” as other products.
Photo credit: left,; right:

If you, like me, are one of the millions of animal owners in the United States, you’ve probably found yourself in the pet aisle at your local grocery store or Walmart, wondering what makes the flea and tick products sold there so different from the brands sold at much higher prices at your vet clinic. If the assortment sold at your local store included Hartz and Sergeant’s, two of the most prolific brands found on store shelves, the answer is easy: quality.

Although it’s possible for any topical flea and tick treatment, including the brands sold at your vet clinic, to cause an allergic reaction or sensitivity in some animals, we’re not talking about a little bit of redness and some missing fur when it comes to the issues that have been plaguing Hartz and Seargeant’s for over a decade: we’re talking chemical burns, seizures, and even death. That’s a high price to pay for a cheaper flea and tick preventive.

Hartz and Sergeant’s both share a long history of class action and individual lawsuits, recalls, and warnings from the EPA. What’s more, they share the stories of thousands of pet cats and dogs who were injured, requiring often expensive and extensive veterinary treatment, and even killed by these chemical products. And they share the stories of grieving, angry owners who wanted nothing more than to keep their animals safe from fleas and ticks and who thought that these products, so prolific on store shelves, would be safe to use on their pets.

But, don’t take my word for it:

Consumer complaints about Hartz
Consumer complaints about Sergeant’s
Hartz Victims

Please take the time to talk to your veterinarian about making good choices regarding flea and tick products and alternatives to these products. There are many natural options on the market, such as Springtime’s Bug Off Garlic, which has yielded fantastic results for our friends over at Cosgrove K9’s.

Raw Feeding 101

I was looking through the resources pages on Dogster and happened across an article in the Ask A Vet section where Dr. Barchas addresses raw feeding. I think Dr. Barchas really tried his best to answer the question, but I found the end result somewhat misleading and confusing to people who have no knowledge of a raw diet, and I want to address this in this entry.


Before I get started, please let me put out a couple of things:

First, it’s important to understand that not every veterinarian will be a good source of information regarding feeding. In their training, vets receive instruction on the basic nutritional needs of dogs, but they are not experts in creating pet diets, nor are they able to tell you which brand or type of food would be best for your individual dog. Some vets with specialty training, called Veterinary Nutritionists, may be a better source for this information. Think of it like going to your family doctor: he or she can tell you to eat healthy with plenty of fruits and vegetables, but if you need a meal plan or specific dietary advice, you’ll need to see a specialist, such as a dietician.

Second, I don’t advocate the raw diet for every dog or every dog owner. Raw feeding requires not only a lot of research but also a lot more work than feeding a commercial diet. There are many excellent commercial pet foods on the market for people who choose not to raw feed and there’s no shame in not feeding a home-made or raw diet.

Lastly, raw feeding is not new, it’s not a fad, and it’s not a response to pet food recalls. Many breeders and owners in the United States have been feeding healthy raw diets for decades. It is due to recent recalls, however, that there has been interest from a wider segment of the population into this type of diet. Unfortunately, greater interest means that many people who feed raw have not taken the proper time to understand and feed this type of diet correctly, and many recently-published articles are misleading or poorly researched.

That all said, let me get to Dr. Barchas’ article and raw feeding 101.

Bones in the Raw Diet

Dr. Barchas writes, “When whole bones are added to the diet, new risks develop. Although many animals can tolerate bones, many others will break their teeth on bones or chew the bones into fragments that can lodge in the intestines. The latter problem can be life-threatening.”

When you feed a raw diet, raw meaty bones (RMBs) such as chicken leg quarters or pork ribs, should make up about 60% of each meal. Bones provide important nutrients including calcium, collagen, iron, and fatty acids in the meat and bone. Many raw feeders use chicken leg quarters as their “staple” food.

It is completely safe to feed any of the bones I’ve named above, just as long as they are RAW. They become unsafe once they have been cooked because cooking alters their structure, making them brittle and easy to splinter. In their raw form, however, these are soft bones that can be crunched up, swallowed, and digested. These small, soft bones are supposed to be eaten in the raw diet.

The only time outside of cooking these bones are dangerous is if your dog tends to gulp them down instead of chewing – in this case, you will want to give larger pieces, puree the bones, or hold one end while your dog is eating to control how fast he can consume it.

Recreational Bones

Another type of bones found in the raw diet are recreational bones. These are the weight-bearing bones of large animals, such as cows or pigs. Unlike RMBs, recreational bones are not meant to be chewed up and swallowed. In fact, the dense bone can cause damaged to the teeth, esophagus and intestinal tract. They are meant to be offered only for supervised recreation – as “chew bones.”

Raw Feeding – Doing it Safely

Dr. Barchas points out in his article that, “raw meat, if not properly prepared, can harbor parasites and diseases such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter. (…) Although animals naturally eat raw meat, they are still susceptible to these diseases. And they can spread them to people.”

If you’re feeding a homemade raw diet, buying and handling raw meet is par for the course. Most raw feeders purchase meats that are human-grade, sold in standard grocery stores or butcher shops. Standard safe food handling practices also apply: cut your meat on a surface you use only for this purpose (such as a red cutting board for red meats), bag and freeze what you’re not using, and defrost only what you’ll be using that day.

Additionally, many commercial raw diets are also available, including those that are dehydrated (just add water to feed) and prepared frozen meals (just defrost and feed) to make raw feeding safe and easy, particularly for beginners or people who are not ready to “do it alone.”

It’s still important that you practice good hygiene and safe food handling techniques when you raw feed. If you’re careful with handling meat and clean up diligently, there’s little chance you will contract food-born illnesses. The chances of getting sick are the same as handling meat to prepare your own dinner. Just be smart about it: clean your counters (bleach wipes are great!), and wash your hands. Obviously, keep your dogs from licking you, particularly in the face, after they have eaten and for about an hour after feeding.

Your dog will be fine, too, even if the meat contains Salmonella or e.Coli. Dogs very rarely get sick from these.

Raw Feeding Resources

You can learn more about raw feeding from some of the sites below. These are sites of breeders, owners, and veterinarians who have been feeding a raw diet to their dogs for many years and have lots of good advice on how it’s done.

The Raw Dog Ranch
Leerburg: Q&A on feeding a raw diet Raw Learning
Monica Segal Nutritional Solutions for Dogs – raw and homemade diets

Q&A: You Ask, We Answer



Jamie writes: “Why do dogs howl at sirens? We live near a firehouse and whenever the trucks pull out with lights and sirens, my dog howls along. My friend said that the sirens hurt his ears and that’s why he howls. Is that true?”


Dogs don’t howl along with sirens because the sound is painful to them. Let’s think about this logically: If pain were the cause dogs howl at sirens, then all dogs would react to the sound of sirens unless they are deaf. However, most dogs aren’t bothered by sirens at all and very few dogs howl at sirens or other sounds.

Additionally, consider that howling is not usually a sign of pain in dogs. Dogs don’t howl if they are injured or experiencing pain, such as an ear infection for example. Dogs usually show pain by yelping, whining, and pawing or biting at the painful body part. The dogs I’ve seen howl at sirens, however, do none of those things: their ears are most commonly pricked forward in attention before they begin to howl.

Lastly, remember that dogs have the ability to “block out” some loud noises by folding back their ears to protect their hearing. Police dogs going to the pistol range, for example, usually fold their ears back to guard against the repeat gun fire but they don’t howl.

Howling at sirens goes back to your dog’s ancestor, the wolves, and the natural instinct to howl for communication. Howling helps a pack communicate and coordinate when they are spread over large distances while hunting or traveling. It helps them find a lost pup or pack member. It communicates being lonely. It can even be a group activity which many canids engage in – think coyotes or wolves howling in harmony. Lastly, it can be a warning.

Dogs who still have this instinct howl when they hear a sound that is similar to the howling of another dog, such as sirens, flutes, singing, or hearing another dog on TV. The response howl is an instinctual behavior and your dog probably doesn’t even understand it – he just knows it’s “the thing to do.”

Check out the pup below responding to a siren.

Posted in health. 1 Comment »

Q&A: Finding the Right Dog


Photo credit:


Anna writes: “My husband and I would love to add a dog to our family. He wants a big dog, but I’m worried about having a big dog around our two boys, ages 4 and 2. My friend who has small dogs, however, told me small dogs aren’t a good choice around young children because the dog could get hurt. There’s so much conflicting information out there. How do we find the right dog?”



This is one of those questions that keep coming up in different incarnations: “Which dog is right for someone in a small house / apartment?” “Which dog should I get for my children who are scared of dogs?”, “Which dog should I get if I don’t have a yard?” and so on.

My biggest problem with these questions, and the many answers that are posted on blogs all over the internet, listing one or two specific breeds, is that none of them address what the dog will be used for, what the person’s schedule looks like, and what the person’s experience with dogs is.

I know a lot of people assume that you cannot own a large dog unless you have a fenced in yard, and many people assume that any small dog will do great in an apartment. Both of those are not really true. Many people have large dogs without having a fenced yard. And many small dog breeds, such as Jack Russell Terriers, have a lot of energy and need a lot of exercise.

What I always try to tell people is to consider what they want to get out of the dog and what they are willing to put into the dog. Having a fenced yard does not make you a suitable home – it just means you’ll have an easier time finding a place for off-leash exercise and training. However, it doesn’t mean you can just open the door and your dog will exercise himself. Dogs need structured exercise, and I think that’s one of the things a lot of people overlook. Even if you have a yard, you either need to come up with a way to exercise your dog – mind and body – in the yard, and you still need to go on leashed walks.

Most people underestimate the importance of leashed walks. Leashed walks help you bond with your dog.  They help the dog focus. They help exercise the dog in a controlled way and also build routines if you plan to set up an exercise program where you can work different parts of the dog – for example, walks with lots of uphill portions help build muscle in a dog’s hindquarters. But all of this doesn’t work if your walk consists of the dog running willy-nilly from left to right, stopping every five feet to sniff, or dragging you down the road.

In addition to structured walks, dogs also need off-leash exercise – fetching balls, playing with their toys, anything that engages them and gives them something to do. And they need to do things that stimulate their minds. The easiest way to stimulate a dog’s brain is to work on obedience (and tricks). Short sessions throughout the day – five minutes here, ten minutes there – are perfectly sufficient and help you work on behaviors you want while also exercising your dog’s noodle. It can be simple stuff like sit and down (basic behaviors), or more difficult stuff like fancy tricks and useful actions.

My dog, Abby, carries out the trash … and you should see her! She prances! But to get there required a lot of small tasks that had to be taught – Picking an item up or taking it from my hand. Holding on to it with a good grip, but not hard enough to get her teeth stuck in it. Heeling next to me to the dumpster. Handing the item to me on command. It’s an impressive trick to people, but more importantly, it’s a way to build my dog’s confidence and train her mind.

If you’re considering a new dog, the question shouldn’t be, “What breed is right for me?” The questions should be:

1) How much time do I have to dedicate to exercise? Training? Walking? Playing?
2) How much hair do I want to pick up (or how much grooming do I want to do)?
3) How much money can I afford to spend on classes?
4) What do I want to do with the dog? Any dog sports? Conformation?
5) What are my *reasons* for getting a dog? Companionship? Sports?
6) What are the breed traits of the breeds I’m considering?
7) What type of temperament can I expect from the breeds I’m considering?
8) How can I find a breeder or rescue that can *match* me with the right dog?

Dog Food: So Many Choices

So many choices! Photo credit: Tractor Supply Company (food bags)

So many choices! Photo credit: Tractor Supply Company (food bags)


A couple of months ago, I asked people on a general dog forum the kind of question that usually starts arguments: “What do you feed your dog?” People, and in particular dog people, often have strong opinions on what should go into their four-legged friends’ stomachs: some swear by commercial foods they can pick up at the supermarket, others follow their veterinarian’s recommendation, yet others rely on homemade or raw diets.

I specifically asked my question on a general dog forum that has participants from all walks of life. On this forum, some have rescue dogs and others have purebreds. Some are active in dog sports, conformation shows, or other types of dog events, some never do anything with their dogs but go for a leisurely stroll. In short: the forum has a good cross-section of average dog owners.

I quickly learned that opinions on feeding fall on a sliding scale. On one end of the scale are hardcore dog owners who keep up with the latest scientific research regarding health and nutrition. They often disagree with their veterinarians (or go for second and third opinions), are heavily involved in dog activities, and have some pretty strong opinions about what everyone else should be feeding and doing with their dogs, too. On the opposite end of the scale are dog owners who love their pets but don’t really spend much energy differentiating between food. It’s all good to them. They dutifully follow their veterinarians’ advice, don’t get involved with any dog activities other than walking, and bring home whatever bag of food was on sale at the grocery store. Between these two polar opposites, you’ve got the vast majority of dog owners.

The results of my poll were as follows:

What do you feed your dog?

35% – Commercial brands (like Beneful, Purina, Iams, Pedigree)
19% – Any kind of food, as long as it’s on sale
12% – I feed raw, without vegetables
12% – I frequently change brands. Dogs need variety.
08% – I feed mostly table scraps.
08% – Holistic brands (like Evo, Canidae, TimberWolf)
04% – Premium brands (like Blue Buffalo)
04% – I’m not sure / don’t know
00% – Home-made food using human-grade ingredients
00% – I feed raw, with vegetables

The people who feed commercial brands (35%), any brand that’s on sale (19%) and those who frequently change brands (12%) are all people who purchase their dog foods at the local grocery store. This means that 66% of people polled feed “grocery store” brands: Beneful, Purina, Iams, Pedigree, and so on.

Additionally, I also asked them how they selected their dog’s food and most answered that they followed recommendations from their veterinarian, a family member, a friend, or the price and availability of the food. I also asked them whether they had ever researched the food they’ve chosen, and most said they read the front of the bag, but hadn’t read the ingredient label and hadn’t looked up or compared foods online.

Even though most dog owners have never done any research into their dog food, most people I know have their pet’s best interest at heart and want to do what’s best for their dog (or cat, or horse, or really any pet). One way to meet your pet’s needs is to know what they are, understand why they are what they are, and try to make the best choices you can. When it comes to food, those choices are often limited by availability and cost, but they are still choices.

One way to make good food choices for your pet is to make sure the food you’ve got currently in your home has not been recalled or withdrawn. You can go to the FDA’s Recalls & Withdrawals website for a list of current problem foods. A great website for learning about dog foods in general, such as how to read food labels, what the ingredients actually are, and which ones you might want to avoid (and why) is the Dog Food Project. If you just want a list of good dog foods to take with you on your next shopping trip, the Dog Food Advisor is worth a look. And if you feel very brave and want to get started with raw feeding, the Raw Dog Ranch is a great place to begin.