Friday, December 20, 2013

Global Animal Health – What can you do?

There are many global animal health issues, but one that begs for the attention to any pet owner relates to dogs and rabies.  Herein the US, we have become so accustomed to pet ownership being associated with rabies vaccination, that we no longer remember a time when it was not.  Rabies is a virus which attacks the nervous system and is 100% fatal.  In the past century, human deaths associated with rabies in the US have declined from 100 deaths per year to only 2-3 per year.  This has been largely attributed to vaccination programs and animal controls established in the 1940’s, oral vaccinations introduced in the 2000’s, and the development of human rabies vaccines and immunoglobulins to prevent infection.   In this country we can safely say that the domestic dog is no longer a reservoir for this disease. [1]

In other parts of the world, particularly South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, people, and dogs, are not so lucky.  It is reported that there are 50,000-60,000 deaths per year attributed globally to rabies, most occurring in these two regions.  Many of these deaths are young boys, because they are often the care givers of the domesticated dogs, and will get bitten on the head or face where the virus can spread quickly to the central nervous system before human vaccines can be administered.  Dr. Guy Palmer, and a group of veterinarians working at Washington State University have begun a new program called the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health.  One of their projects currently is to make rabies vaccination of domesticated dogs available, and sustainable, in these communities.  Their research has shown that if we can vaccinate just 60% of the domesticated dog population, we can essentially eliminate rabies outbreaks in a community.   And if we can move outward from a controlled population, we can widen the area of control quickly and efficiently.  The surprise to researchers has been the willingness and eagerness with which the human guardians of these dogs line up for vaccinations.  The will is clearly present.

But the cost for vaccination programs is reliant on donor support.  The hope is to develop more heat tolerant vaccines (keeping vaccines cool adds nearly $1/vaccine to the cost), and minimize transportation costs by being able to store vaccines on site.  These changes will markedly reduce costs and allow programs to become self-sustaining in the future.[2]  Their research efforts, as well as vaccination programs, are helping to change the course of this devastating disease, while strengthening the bond between canines and humans.  
Please join us in supporting their efforts this year.  This is a program with tangible results that will save both human and animal lives.  You can make a donation the next time you are in our hospital, or online at

Thank you for taking time to consider how we at home, can still make a difference, and make the planet safer for people and their dogs.  Happy Holidays!

The Staff and Doctors at Hatton Veterinary Hospital

Monday, December 09, 2013


9 am: there is a rush in the door.  “My dog has been shot with a paintball gun!”  Blood was streaming slowly from her face as Reyna, a 66 lb. Staffordshire Terrier, is carried in by her emotional and worried owner.  “She had been inside, the garage door had been shut, I was doing target practice, I don’t know how she got out…”  Reyna’s owner was beside himself, and seeing his dog like this, he could hardly speak.  Reyna was calm and as sweet as could be.  But we knew we had to do something. Her eye had apparently taken the paintball squarely across her cornea.  The blood was thick and it was difficult to discern where normal tissue, if any, still remained.  Reyna was so calm. We put a numbing agent in her eye and tried to apply a cold compress to slow the bleeding and swelling down while we got more information.  Her gums were nice and pink still, and her heart sounded normal.  Reyna had to have a headache but she was calm and let us examine her.  We got permission to give her some pain relief and identified that the top layer of the cornea, the protective layer on the surface of her eye, seemed to be torn.  It was unlikely we could save the eye.  Colored paint adorned her face.  It was now clear to all of us why goggles and other protective head gear are important…

Soon Reyna was resting more comfortably and the bleeding subsided.  She went into surgery shortly after that and her eye was enucleated (removed).  This was the only reasonable choice, both from a financial and a humane standpoint, to minimize her trauma and get her back to her normal happy life as quickly as possible. 
Two weeks later, Reyna is a happy dog again! Despite having spent two weeks in an E-collar, she is wagging her tail and getting around as if nothing had happened.  The forgiveness and unconditional love of a dog is truly remarkable.  The love of a family that had to find the unexpected funds to take care of her accident is also remarkable.  We must be careful out there, even when we are just having fun!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Is there Wildlife in my Backyard?

There could be.  Racoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, voles, mice, rats… these are just a few of the possible “wild” animals that can be in most residential neighborhoods in Sacramento/Elk Grove on any given night.  Except for squirrels, these critters are primarily nocturnal, and can and will travel over fences and through sewer and runoff drains.  Often as the weather cools and the rains begin to flood out previous shelters, these animals become more apparent to us, and our dogs, in the late Fall and early Winter.  The holidays for us are often marked by the baying of our coonhound as he discovers yet another raccoon in the tree, or opossum in the garden.  I am always grateful when he does not discover a skunk!

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In recent years, skunks and raccoons have been associated with rabies, and therefore present a risk to us and our pets more than the nuisance or bad odor we smell when a skunk  “sprays.”  As in this picture, they are often attracted to cat food or dog food left outside, or drawn into homes through pet doors to such feeders.  Although a skunk will be reluctant to spray initially (they have about 15cc stored up which takes about 10 days to make), they will not hesitate when confronted with an attacking dog, or cat, or person with a broom.  However, being omnivores, they are attracted to all that our gardens and kitchens and garbage cans have to offer; Urban dwellers are increasingly common as well.

The best thing to do is to keep food from being readily available, and to check sheds and outhouses regularly to be sure animals have not taken up residence.  Rodent baits are regulated now so that they can only be put out in closed bait traps to prevent pets and children from accidentally consuming them, but they are not entirely dog proof and extreme care should be taken when one choses this route.  Several different types of “bait” are utilized, some of which have antidotes, and some of which do not. Some of the newer rat baits are neurotoxins and dose-dependent, others cause inability for the blood to clot.  If your pet should accidentally ingest any rodenticide, it is important to know the exact ingredients and the quantity consumed.  Emergency care should be sought immediately, and packaging brought with you as several types look similar to one another but are treated differently. 

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One last concern to consider before taking too kindly to these interesting creatures is Leptospirosis.  This is an infection caused by a bacterium carried in the urine or feces of infected animals. The most common reservoir in urban areas would include mice, rats, raccoons, etc.  Dogs and people can be infected by contact with food, water or soil containing urine from infected animals.  Infection can also occur when dogs drink from standing water sources including rain puddles, creeks, streams and run off.   Dogs can and should be vaccinated against this, but no vaccine is 100% protective, and most dogs have not been vaccinated as regularly for this disease as the vaccine was not updated to accommodate current strains until recently.  It is the world’s most common disease transmitted from animals to humans, and causes acute kidney failure and often death if not treated in time.
So before you decide to let that cute raccoon feed out of the cat’s outdoor dish, or let the mice and voles have the last of this year’s garden fruits, consider the risks and protect yourselves accordingly.  Happy outdoor urban adventures!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What If Your Teeth Kept Growing? ALL THE TIME?!

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That’s what happens with rabbits and chinchillas, rats and mice.  In fact, most “rodents” have continuously growing teeth that wear down as they eat.  Occasionally, there are problems with malocclusion (poor alignment of the teeth).  This can be a genetic or inherited problem, or can result from some type of injury. 

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If the front teeth are not aligned, we can usually see that on a routine physical exam, and either trim the teeth to allow them to function well enough for most pet rodents to still eat, or consider surgical removal of these teeth.   If the back molars do not meet up, it can be harder to detect the problem.  Sometimes we don’t realize there is a problem until the pet stops eating, or starts drooling excessively. 
The reason for this is that a rodent’s large cheek pouches make visualization of these back molars nearly impossible without anesthesia and x-rays.   Luckily, poor alignment of the rear molars is less common than the front incisors, because when it happens it can often lead to more serious problems and can be costly to treat.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A Dog Named Lucky

One of our clients sent us an email with this touched many hearts here at the hospital, so we decided to share it.  Enjoy!

"Anyone who has pets will really like this. You'll like it even if you don't and you may even decide you need one!

 Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named 'Lucky.'   Lucky was a real character.

Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy.   Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.
Mary or Jim would go to Lucky's toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky's other favorite toys.     Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer.   Something told her she was going to die of this fact;  she was just sure it was fatal.

She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders.   The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky.   A thought struck her....what would happen to Lucky?   Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary's dog through and through.

 If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought.  He won't understand that I didn't want to leave him!  The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks.   Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the dog just drooped, whining and miserable.

Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital.   When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn't even make it up the steps to her bedroom.    Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap.

Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn't come to her when she called.    It made Mary sad but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed.
When Mary woke for a second she couldn't understand what was wrong.   She couldn't move her head and her body felt heavy and hot.   But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem.  She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned! 

While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life.

He had covered her with his love.

Mary forgot about dying.   Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day.   It's been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free.   Lucky.   He still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure. every day to the fullest.  Each minute is a blessing.  And never forget....the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards.   They are the ones that care for us.

If you see someone without a smile today give them one of yours!   
Live simply. Love seriously.   Care deeply.   Speak kindly. 

A small request
All you are asked to do is keep this circulating, even if it is only to one more person, in memory of anyone you know that has been struck down by cancer or is still fighting their battle."

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Sky is Falling!! The Sky is Falling!!!!

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Every year on the 4th of July - and in our neighborhood for several days before and after the 4th of July - there can be heard the shrill whistle, pops and cracks of firecrackers.  For many of us, it brings back memories of warm summer evenings, picnics, and family barbeques with watermelon and corn on the cob.  But for many dogs it signals the return of two things: Fear and Anxiety. 
One year, we happened not to go out to see the display, and realized that our dog, Kona, was terrified when the whistles and bangs went off in earnest about 9:30 pm.   First, she started by pacing back and forth, and drooling.   Then asking to go out and coming back in, and then back out again until she finally lay down behind the couch (not a spot she frequented).  She panted and quivered until we turned on the AC, shut the windows, and turned up the television.  Still, despite the distraction, she trembled quietly at my feet until nearly midnight.   Years later, she lost her hearing and it no longer became an issue, but clearly her anxiety was real and all the physical signs of stress and fear came to the surface.  I was grateful (and so was she) that we had witnessed her reaction so that we could make the appropriate preparations the next year.
After attending a conference in Seattle later that year, I learned from a veterinary behaviorist from Pennsylvania about her own dog who reacted the same way to thunderstorms.  She had discovered that her dog’s anxiety was alleviated by a low dose of anti-anxiety medication known as alprazolam.  It turns out that if dosed appropriately a few hours in advance of anticipated storms (or fireworks), and repeated shortly before the events escalated, her dog (and mine) would settle down and sleep instead of pacing, panting, hiding, and shaking.  In the years that followed, I have supplemented my treatment of anxiety in dogs with a combination of sedation and anti-anxiety medication that seems to work better for most dogs with firework anxiety. 

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So for all those dogs out there that experience the anxiety and fear of loud falling lights from the sky, there is hope!  Speak to your veterinarian and prepare for this in advance of a problem this year.  Not all solutions will involve medication depending on the degree of distress.  Your veterinarian can help you decide what is best.  Our dogs, with their super strong hearing, don’t have to dread this curious holiday with falling skies any longer!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Every Pet Deserves a Chance: Jeanette's Senior Project

Jeanette came to our hospital this year to observe our hospital in action.  She witnessed countless surgeries, observed on many routine appointments, and met lots of furry companions.  Jeanette is greatful for the opportunity, and we are happy she is able to get a closer view of her dreams.  Here is her story and pictures from her Senior Project.

"My name is Jeanette Cruz and I am a senior at West Campus High School. I have a single passion beyond all passions and that is animals. All my life I've wanted to pursue one career and that is to be a veterinarian. Helping animals in any way that I possibly can is second nature to me, it makes me happy and that is all that I ever want to do.
That being said, for my senior project, I wanted to make sure that I not only did something that made myself happy but also benefited what I love most in this world: the animals. I not only wanted to shadow the doctors and technicians at Hatton for my own personal benefit, to assure that I have been right about my ideal future, but I wanted to help the animals of low income families at Hatton in anyway that I could. My family struggles just like several others do, but I believe that the health of our pets should never be put on hold. For my senior project, I created a fund titled Every Pet Deserves a Chance. This fund would benefit animals of low income families in any way that it possibly could; for even just helping a single animal would mean the world to me. I asked for donations all around school, my work, and around my family members, I even held a bake sale to raise funds. In just 11 days, I raised $401.51. Every pet truly does deserve a chance and I am honored that I will help even just one."

Thank you Jeanette for letting us tell your story!!!
The Doctors and Staff at Hatton Vet

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mew's Leg 2013

On February 19, 2013 “Mew”, a less than one pound Chinchilla with big brown eyes and large round ears and the softest fur, presented with a midshaft  tibial fracture of his left leg.  His owners were an equally adorable but worried family of seven, four of whom came with Mew that day, and now looked back at me with 8 more big brown eyes and very worried expressions on their faces. 
Mew had presumably caught his leg on the edge of the cage while they were out, and apparently had struggled enough to cause the injury.  We weren’t sure what could be done but after taking an xray and confirming the fracture, we decided to try a stabilizing splint known as a Thomas Schroeder splint to help his fracture heal.  I had used them before on birds, dogs, cats, but not yet a chinchilla. 

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Mew’s family was determined to try to save the leg if possible, and so we began.  Mew was anesthetized to allow us to place the splint which we had fashioned from a thick wire coat hanger, and tape.  The fracture site had to be immobilized at the joints above and below the fracture for it to heal.  In this case, that would be Mew’s knee and his ankle.   After securing the splint, the question remained as to whether he would chew it off, and/or hurt his other leg or pelvis due to the weight and awkward nature of the splint.  If only we could explain to him that it was for his own good!
Mew’s family was wonderful and did a great job making sure he would eat, giving him a chance to have a limited dust bath with supervision, purchasing and feeding critical care food to syringe feed him to supplement calories during recover, and redesigning his customized “Elizabethan collar” several times to give him the more comfort while still protecting the wrap during the expected 6 week recovery period.  He had to come in weekly for bandage changes as well.

At first it wasn’t clear that he would adapt to the whole ordeal but he was a real team player and pulled his weight.  He tolerated all we did to him and didn’t seem to complain although we all knew it wasn’t his nature to be limited in such a way.  The 5th week of recovery, so close to the finish line, something terrible happened.  We had started using a lighter splint for the leg once a good healing callous on the bone could be felt, but somehow, the wrap slipped and he ended up breaking his femur.  This is the bone above the knee, above the tibia, and while the original fracture was nearly healed, this new one was potentially much harder to repair. Not only that, but Mew had just gone through a difficult 5 weeks.  Could we really ask him to do that again even if a new splint could be created? 
After discussion of the pros and cons, it was decided that we would amputate Mew’s leg and hope that he would be happier as a three legged Chinchilla than a splinted Chinchilla.  He did amazingly well with surgery and seemed to be much happier even in the immediate recovery period post op.  He came in a few weeks ago to have his stitches out and he had gained weight, was looking much brighter, and seemed to have his big brown shiny eyes back! 
His family is very dedicated to little Mew and he is now a happy go lucky Chinchilla again.  Thank you for letting us share his story!

Watch Mew's video!!  He's so fast--even on 3 legs!!!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Can A Dog Swallow A Whole Tennis Ball?

The answer is yes!  Last week, Bubba (appropriately so named before being adopted), a nearly 100 lb. American Bulldog did just that.  He is known to play with balls of all types, and has on more than one occasion chewed up and swallowed tennis balls.  To try to avoid problems with this, his new owner has given him larger doggie basketballs and soccer balls to play with, but last week he somehow found another tennis ball.  A few days later, the owner noticed Bubba was very lethargic and wouldn’t eat.  This of course was not normal for Bubba.  When he came to the hospital, he was depressed and dehydrated.  He loped around and looked several years older. 
After a brief discussion with the doctor, it was determined that an xray would be helpful to be sure the tennis ball had not ended up in the stomach or small bowel where it could be stuck.  Luckily unlike some balls, tennis balls and golf balls show up pretty well on xrays.  This is what we saw:


The tennis ball was still in the stomach, and probably couldn’t pass causing poor Bubba to vomit whenever he drank or ate anything.  After a day or two of this, he stopped trying to eat or drink and he became very dehydrated.  After starting him on an IV and replenishing fluid losses, he started to feel much better.  Bubba went into surgery to have the tennis ball removed from his stomach.  As you might suspect from the picture, it didn’t smell very good either!
 After a few days recuperating in the hospital, Bubba is now back to being a happy big dog with lots of spunk and charm.  Tennis balls are all removed from the yard, and toys 3 times bigger than his mouth are now the norm.
Good luck Bubba!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dear Otis…

Today we learned that despite our best efforts and a team of many talented doctors and staff, and a devoted and loving family, Otis passed away last night.  He was a rescued Sphinx kitty who had an extremely endearing personality, the most fragile eyes, and a huge heart.  Although Otis had not stopped eating, or developed any other apparent gastrointestinal symptoms (like vomiting or diarrhea), he started losing weight over a few months fairly rapidly.  His little wrinkles became more noticeable. After a few tests, it was discovered that he had a rapidly growing intestinal mass.  He went to surgery immediately, and yet within a week, he had to have a second procedure because the mass was growing that quickly, and it had led to a perforation of his bowels.  Despite a valiant fight, we lost Otis last night at around 9:30 pm in the ICU.  The mass was identified as a form of lymphoma.  The prognosis with chemotherapy was about 6 months to up to 1-2 years, depending on the type and his response to treatment, had he survived the initial surgeries.  His gracious owners were prepared to go all the way with this little guy, but in the end, the disease was too much and his body too weak to comply. 

Today we mourn the loss of yet another heroic creature, who lived, loved, and shared his life with us.  We will have to celebrate that, as best we can, for it is indeed, the most precious gift of life there is. 

Dear Otis,
Thank you for sharing with us.
The Staff and Veterinarians at Hatton Vet Hospital.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Chocolate & Dogs Don't Mix

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With Valentine’s Day around the corner, be careful not to let your dog find your chocolate stash!  Just a few ounces of semisweet chocolate for small dog could be lethal.  The main culprits that can be toxic to dogs are theobromine and caffeine.  These can cause tachycardia (a dangerously fast heart rate), seizures, and in worse case scenarios, even death.  Chocolate often has sugar and fat associated with it which can also lead to vomiting and diarrhea, and pancreatitis.  But it is tasty, and dogs have such a keen sense of smell that even well wrapped or hidden chocolate is not a secret to them!

Check out this interactive chocolate chart:

Friday, February 01, 2013


Galina is a happy contented 18 month old kitty that had as part of her morning routine, racing up and down the steps of her two story home after her ball.  One owner would stand at the top of the stairs and catch a little ball her other owner would throw up from the kitchen, and back and forth she would go.  It was great exercise and totally fun for Galina, until one morning, two weeks ago…

Galina’s owners heard a loud thump as she was bounding up the stairs.  Galina stopped short when they came over to see what had happened, and then quietly walked over to her bed and laid down.  Her owners made sure she was breathing, looked alert, seemed not to be in pain, and let her rest.  When afternoon arrived and she had still not come out to the kitchen for her breakfast, nor moved much from her spot from the morning, they brought her to the hospital to have us check her out. 
Outwardly, Galina seemed to be fine. There was no evidence of bruising or soreness anywhere.  She didn’t have a fever.  Her heart and lungs sounded normal and her mucus membranes were pink.  No signs of a broken tooth, but wait.  Her front teeth looked a little askew, as if they didn’t fit into each other normally.  The lower teeth seemed to be shifted a little to the right.  She could still close her mouth but was reluctant to open it.  With a little more investigation, we noticed a mild swelling over her left jaw and wondered if the loud thump could have been her head hitting the step and causing injury to her jaw.  We weren’t sure if there was a fracture or dislocation, but her lower jaw seemed to be the problem.

We referred Galina to a specialist to be sure that we would only need to anesthetize her once, to both diagnose the problem with xrays, and treat it simultaneously should there be a fracture or more complicated repair.  It turned out that she had dislocated her left TMJ (temporomandibular joint).

Note the slight rotation of the lower jaw/teeth to the right as compared to her upper teeth (red arrow), and the larger space at the left TMJ (white arrow) vs. the right in this “before” xray:

 The surgeon was able to perform a “closed reduction” under anesthesia and reset the jaw:

 Notice how the canine teeth fit together symmetrically now (red arrow), and the TMJ’s are also symmetrical now (white arrows).
A closed reduction refers to a procedure whereby the joint is reset without opening the site surgically.  In order to prevent the joint from slipping out of position again, while the ligaments that normally hold it in place healed, the surgeon opted to place a large gauge non-absorbable suture across the bridge of  her nose, through her mouth inside her upper and lower lips, and secured under her chin.  She could open her mouth a little bit to lap up water and soft food, but could not open her jaw fully.  She also had to wear a plastic Elizabethan collar to prevent her from pulling out the suture.  As you might imagine, this was quite an adjustment for Galina!
After a few days at home it became clear that she was not going to eat on her own, nor would she drink water.  She became dehydrated, and constipated, and then started vomiting.  Her supportive care during her recuperation became difficult to manage at home, so Galina spent several days in the hospital so that our nurses could syringe feed her and keep her hydrated until the suture could be removed. 

After 10 days we removed the suture and while she was still on soft food for another week, she returned to quite the happy kitty again, able to clean herself, and open her mouth freely.  In about 3-4 more weeks, we can be pretty comfortable that she will not risk dislocating her TMJ without another serious impact. 
Her owners have learned a lot about cats through this experience:  how much they do not like “hats”, or having their jaw sutured closed, how they vomit sometimes when constipated, how finicky they can be about food, and how appreciative they are for attention when they want it.  Thankfully her ordeal is now behind her.  Good luck Galina!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chew This, Not That!

With National Dental Health Month right around the corner, it seems fitting that we should talk a little bit about what types of chew toys are good for dogs.  The only problem is that not all dogs are made the same.  The chewing needs and tolerance for a Staffordshire Terrier are quite different from that of a Cocker Spaniel or Dachshund.  And the types of toys that will hold their attention can vary as well.

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“Natural” products always seem to be crowd pleaser for a lot of dogs, but they are not all equally palatable--literally.  Pig ears tend to be very fatty and diarrhea is a common consequence to their consumption, and therefore something I would avoid.  I liken it to eating a bag of pork rinds.  These may be tasty, but not so good for the digestive tract.  Bully sticks have become popular again, but do you really want your dog chewing a bull penis for an hour? And for the smaller dogs, oftentimes the bone fragments come through with significant irritation to the colon/intestinal tract.   Some dogs are such aggressive chewers on hooves and antlers that they actually fracture their teeth chewing on these.

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At the other end of the spectrum, soft toys with stuffing and squeakers can also create a problem if they are taken apart and the pieces are then ingested.  The stuffing/matting in these toys can be difficult to pass and get caught in the intestines.  The squeakers are particularly unforgiving and can sometimes lead to obstructions that have to be corrected surgically. 

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So what can you give your dog then?  The short answer is “it depends!”  For most dogs, the Kong toys are good, relatively indestructible, and safe toys to have.  Lining the insides with a little peanut butter (little is the key word), or some wedged in milk bones, or “Kong filling”, will make them more interesting, and can be engaging for a long period of time.  Nylabones, gummabones, and Galileo bones are generally safe to use because they are not edible per se so they last longer.  Sometimes to get a dog interested in these bones you have to hold one end until they start to make a dent in it.  After that, it becomes a real job for some dogs and can take weeks to months to “finish” the job.  One should throw these away when they become small enough to accidentally swallow whole. 

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Rawhide can also be enjoyable and good for their teeth.  The size and shape of the rawhide are important to consider. The flat or rolled strips are probably the safest, but one should observe your dog to be sure they actually chew them rather than try to swallow them whole, or bury them in the yard.  Avoid rawhide with knotted ends, as the end can come off and be accidentally swallowed whole.  If a rawhide is not chewed up first, it certainly could cause an obstruction.  Some are also coated with flavoring which can stain a light colored carpet or cause indigestion.  Also, there are some dogs with food allergies that cannot have these items.

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Greenies are good if your dog chews them, but if they are swallowed in large chunks or whole, they can lead to esophageal or intestinal tears or blockage.  This is more of a concern for smaller dogs.  The important thing to remember is that whatever chew toy you pick for your dog, watch them first to be sure they chew it as intended, and that they don’t have indigestion afterwards.

 Chewing is an important activity for dogs.  It often keeps them from gnawing on your furniture or on your feet!  If you hold one end of a chew toy, it can be a connection between you and your dog in a safe and fun way.  But an important thing to teach your dog is to release the toy when necessary.  This is something that is easy to train your dog to do with a replacement of a treat.  "Release" or "Leave it" are important commands whether it is a toy or an expensive new shoe that needs to be released!