Saturday, June 29, 2024

Mast Cell Tumors: Differences Between Cats & Dogs


Mast Cell Tumors
Mast cells play an important role in your pet's immune system. They are a type of immune system cell that plays a role in allergic reactions and inflammation. Mast cells contain granules filled with histamine and other chemicals that are released when the cell is activated, leading to symptoms such as itching, swelling, and redness. 
In cats and dogs, mast cell tumors can develop. These are abnormal growths of mast cells that can be benign or malignant. These tumors can cause local symptoms at the site or more systemic effects if they spread to other parts of the body. Early detection and treatment are important for managing mast cell tumors in pets.
The Role Of Mast Cells In Pet Health

Mast cells are found throughout the body, particularly in the skin, respiratory tract, and digestive system. Their primary function is to detect and respond to foreign substances or pathogens, like bacteria, viruses, and allergens. When activated, mast cells release histamine and cytokines, which help to initiate and coordinate the body's immune response. 


In addition to their role in immune defense, mast cells also contribute to wound healing, tissue repair, and blood vessel formation. They are essential for maintaining balance and protecting the body from harmful invaders. However, when mast cells become dysregulated or undergo abnormal growth, they can form mast cell tumors (MCTs).

Understanding Mast Cell Tumors (MCTs)


Mast cell tumors (MCTs) are one of the most common forms of cancer in dogs and can also affect cats. These tumors arise from mast cells and can vary widely in appearance, but they often present as raised lumps or bumps on the skin. They may resemble small nodules or growths that can be firm or soft to the touch. While some MCTs may initially appear similar to pimples or skin tags, it's important to note that not all lumps or bumps on the skin are MCTs. 


Some features that may indicate a possible MCT include:


Rapid Growth: MCTs can grow quickly and changes in size over a short period may be a cause for concern.


Ulceration: Some MCTs may become ulcerated, meaning the skin overlying the tumor breaks open, leading to bleeding or discharge.


Redness or Inflammation: Inflammation or discoloration of the skin surrounding the mass may be present, particularly if the tumor is causing irritation or inflammation.


Itching or Discomfort: Pets may exhibit signs of discomfort or itching in the area of the tumor.


It is important to have any new or changing lumps or bumps on your pet's skin evaluated by a veterinarian. MCTs can range from benign (non-cancerous) to malignant (cancerous). Diagnosis typically involves a combination of physical examination, fine needle aspiration, and/or biopsy to determine the nature of the mass. Early detection and treatment of MCTs can improve the outcome for any pet. 


Similarities Between MCTs In Cats & Dogs



While MCTs can develop in both cats and dogs, they are more frequently diagnosed in dogs, particularly in certain breeds such as Boxers, Bulldogs, and Labradors. In both species, MCTs usually appear as raised, pinkish lumps on the skin, although they can also present as ulcers or areas of inflammation. Early detection through routine skin checks is essential for prompt diagnosis and treatment.




Differences Between MCTs In Cats & Dogs


siamese cat

Mast cell tumors (MCTs) present differently in cats and dogs. Cats are more likely to develop MCTs in areas with minimal hair, such as the head and neck.  Mast cell tumors in cats can be internal, occuring primarily in the spleen and intestines. 


In contrast,  mast cell tumors in dogs can appear anywhere on the body, with common sites including the skin and the layer of tissue located just beneath the skin (subcutaneous).


Treatment approaches may vary between the two species. Dogs often undergo surgery as the primary treatment, sometimes followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy. In cats, treatment may require a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, particularly for internal or more advanced tumors. 


Saturday, June 22, 2024

Why July 4th Is Scary For Pets & How You Can Help Them Cope


pets looking at firewords in the sky

The Fourth of July is a day filled with celebrations, but for many pets, it's a source of significant stress and fear. Understanding why this holiday can be so frightening for our pets can help us take steps to make it more bearable for them.

                        Reasons Why the Fourth of July Scares Pets


Loud Noises and Fireworks


Acute Hearing: Dogs and cats have much more sensitive hearing than humans. The loud booms, whistles, and bangs of fireworks can be incredibly overwhelming and painful for them.


Unpredictability: Fireworks are sudden and unpredictable, making it hard for pets to become accustomed to the noise. This unpredictability can cause a high level of anxiety and panic.


Crowds and Strangers


Overstimulation: The presence of many unfamiliar people in their space can be overstimulating and stressful for pets. They may feel threatened by the strangers, leading to heightened anxiety.


Protective Instincts: Pets, particularly dogs, can feel the need to protect their territory and family from perceived threats, which can increase their stress levels when there are unfamiliar people around or having parties nearby.


white/black dog and cat relaxing


What Can Happen When Pets Are Scared


Here are some examples of what can happen to pets when they're frightened by fireworks:


Trembling and Shaking: This is a physical manifestation of their anxiety and stress.


Hiding: Many pets will seek out a hiding place to feel safe. This could be under a bed, in a closet, or any small, enclosed space they can find.


Destructive Behavior: In their panic, some pets might chew on furniture, dig at carpets, or scratch doors in an attempt to escape the frightening noise.


Excessive Barking or Meowing: Pets may vocalize more than usual, barking or meowing loudly in response to the loud noises.


Physical Symptoms: Fear and anxiety can cause pets to lose their appetite or refuse to eat. Excessive panting and drooling are common symptoms of anxiety in pets.  


Escape Attempts:  Loud noises and the presence of strangers can cause pets to bolt in fear. Pets may run away, become lost, or get injured. July 5th is the busiest day for animal shelters nationwide due to the large number of pets that dig under or jump over fences, looking for any way to escape. With guests coming and going, there’s an increased risk of pets slipping out through open doors or gates.

How to Help Your Pet Cope


Understanding the reasons behind your pet's fear can help you take effective measures to reduce their anxiety during the Fourth of July celebrations. Here are some tips to keep your pets safe and calm:


Create a Safe Space: Provide a quiet, comfortable area where your pet can retreat away from the noise and commotion.


Keep Them Indoors: Ensure your pet stays indoors during the festivities to reduce their exposure to loud noises and prevent escape.


Use Calming Aids: Consider anxiety wraps or natural supplements, like Happy Paws Drops, to help ease your pet’s stress.


Update ID Tags & Microchips: Make sure your pet’s identification is up-to-date in case they escape.


Exercise Before the Festivities: Tire your pet out with plenty of exercise earlier in the day, which can help reduce their anxiety later.


Distract with Toys & Treats: Provide engaging toys and treats to keep your pet occupied and distracted from the noise.

Author:  Susan Blake Davis, Pet Nutritionist

Date:  6/22/2024




Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Tips For Stress-Free Travel With Pets


happy dogs under an umbrella

Tips For Stress-Free Travel With Pets


Summer travel season begins soon. Some pet parents (including your friends at would prefer long road trips over flying just to have the chance to share the experience with their pets. However, traveling with pets requires extra planning, especially if they are eating special diets or have anxiety. Here are a few tips to help make your trip a breeze:



Pre-Travel Preparation

Checklist: Make sure to pack essential items such as food, water, medications, leash, supplements, collar with ID tags, bedding, toys, and any necessary documents. Writing out a list ahead of time is a good way to confirm you have everything your pet may need.

Veterinary Visit: Schedule a pre-travel vet visit to ensure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and to obtain any required health certificates.


Coolers: If your pets eats a diet that needs to be refrigerated, consider a heavy-duty insulated cooler (like a Yeti). Using dry ice can keep raw pet food frozen for at least one day of travel.


Pill Packs:  Prepare pill packs combining your pet's supplements into small baggies so they are easy to administer. 

Microchipping or Tracking Device: Consider microchipping your pet or using a tracking device around their collar such as an Apple Air Tag before traveling. We often hear of pets unexpectedly bolting out of a hotel room, rest stop area or vehicle because they are in an unfamiliar area.


Choose Pet-Friendly Accommodations


dog eating gourmet meal at hotel

Research: Look for pet-friendly hotels, vacation rentals or campsites that cater to pets' needs. Websites like BringFido or GoPetFriendly can help you find suitable options. Marriott has many pet friendly offerings. Just be sure to check the boarding fees upfront so there aren't any surprises. Once you arrive at your destination, seek out the doggie potty area before bringing your luggage to your room.




Travel Safety


cat in a cat carrier

Restraints: Secure your pet during car travel using a crate, pet seatbelt, or travel carrier to prevent injury in case of accidents. Dogs will often bolt out of the car unexpectedly.  

Temperature Control: Avoid leaving pets in hot cars and provide adequate ventilation, water, and snacks to keep them comfortable during travel.



Settling In & Managing Anxiety


dog sitting on a suitcase

Familiarization: After you have pottied your pet, give them a chance to explore the new environment. Set up a cozy corner with their bed and toys. Some dogs like to cuddle up under the desk because it feels safe. Show your pet where their food and water dishes are and give them a special treat.

Comfort Items: Bring along familiar items from home, such as bedding, toys and their favorites snacks.    


Keep The Same Schedule:  As much as possible, keep your pet on the same feeding and supplement schedule that you follow at home. Pets are creatures of habit, and maintaining their usual routine helps them feel safe, happy, and healthy. 



Health and Safety


ID Tags: Make sure that your pet's ID tags have current contact information. Consider attaching temporary travel tags with destination details.

Emergency Kit: Pack a pet first aid kit with essentials like prior medications or sprays for wounds. If you are hiking where there are bears or ticks, consider flea/tick medications, a bear bell and always bring a portable water dish. Pets can get diarrhea or an upset stomach when traveling, so plan ahead and bring any necessary medication from your veterinarian.  

Thursday, May 16, 2024

The Hidden Dangers of Low Quality Pet Supplements


Why Quality Matters in Pet Supplements


When it comes to selecting supplements for our pets, quality is essential.  Labels often look alike though, so it may be tempting to purchase the lowest cost pet vitamin.  But spending less on a lower quality product that doesn't work isn't saving you money at all.  Not all supplements are created equal, and inferior products can not only be ineffective but may also pose risks to your pet's health. Here are a few things to consider when choosing pet supplements:

Safety & Efficacy: High-quality supplements undergo rigorous testing and adhere to strict manufacturing standards to ensure safety and efficacy. Products made from premium, human-grade ingredients are more likely to deliver benefits without compromising your pet's well-being.


Transparency and Trust: Trust is important when it comes to your pet's health. Reputable supplement companies prioritize transparency by providing detailed information about their ingredients, manufacturing processes, and testing procedures. This transparency instills confidence in pet owners and fosters trust in the brand.


Consistency and Reliability: Quality supplements are manufactured in facilities that adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and undergo third-party testing to verify potency, purity, and quality. This commitment to consistency and reliability ensures that each batch meets the highest standards of quality and efficacy.


Avoiding Harmful Additives: Inferior supplements may contain artificial ingredients or contaminants that could be harmful to your pet's health. By choosing supplements made from high-quality, natural ingredients, you can minimize the risk of exposing your pet to potentially harmful additives or toxins.


Long-Term Health Benefits: Investing in quality supplements is an investment in your pet's long-term health and well-being. While budget-friendly options may seem appealing initially, they may not deliver the same level of health benefits or cost savings in the long run. Quality supplements provide your pet with the nutrients they need to thrive, reducing the risk of costly health issues down the line.


At, we understand the importance of quality when it comes to your pet's supplements. That's why all of our products are formulated with the highest quality, human-grade ingredients and manufactured in GMP-certified facilities. Each batch undergoes rigorous third-party testing to ensure safety, potency, and purity, so you can trust that you're giving your pet a reliable and pure pet supplement.  We know how much you want your pet to feel better and our goal at is to ensure that our supplements always meet your highest expectations. 

Author:  Susan Blake Davis, Pet Nutritionist

Date:  5/16/2024

All supplement protocols have been reviewed and approved by a veterinarian.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Dog Skin Cancer: Risks, Treatment & Prevention

white german shepherd outside

Did you know? Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to the harmful effects of UV radiation from the sun. Overexposure to the sun's rays can damage the DNA in skin cells, leading to mutations that can result in cancerous growths. Exposure to the sun is the most common cause of skin cancer in dogs. The ears, nose, paw pads and belly are the most sensitive areas since they have less fur.


Is Your Dog At Risk Of Getting Skin Cancer?


Certain breeds of dogs may be genetically predisposed to developing skin cancer. While any dog can develop skin cancer, certain breeds may be more predisposed to it due to skin pigmentation (lighter color) and coat density. Some breeds that are commonly associated with a higher risk of skin cancer include white or light-colored breeds such as Dalmatians, Bull Terriers, and West Highland White Terriers, which have less protection against the sun's UV rays, making them more susceptible to sun-induced skin damage. Hairless breeds like the Chinese Crested, Mexican Hairless (Xoloitzcuintli), and American Hairless Terrier, with minimal hair coverage, have less natural protection against sun exposure. Additionally, thin-coated breeds such as the Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, and Weimaraner are at higher risk due to decreased natural protection. Dogs with pink or lightly pigmented skin, like the Bull Terrier and Chinese Shar-Pei, are more prone to sunburn and subsequent skin cancer, while breeds with exposed skin areas, such as the Whippet, Greyhound, and American Bulldog, may be more vulnerable to sun damage due to thin fur on their bellies or noses.


Signs of Skin Cancer in Dogs


If you notice any textural or color changes in your pup's skin or growths, be sure to point them out to your veterinarian. Look for lumps, bumps and sores that don't heal especially if you have a light colored dog that spends a lot of time outside.


Types of Skin Cancer in Dogs


Skin cancer in dogs can manifest in various forms, including:


Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This type of cancer typically affects the skin on areas exposed to the sun, such as the ears, nose, and belly. It often appears as raised, crusty lesions that may bleed or ulcerate.


Melanoma: Melanoma in dogs can occur in pigmented areas of the skin or mucous membranes, such as the mouth or eyes. It can appear as darkly pigmented masses or irregularly shaped growths.


Mast Cell Tumors: Mast cell tumors can develop in the skin or internal organs and vary widely in appearance. They may present as raised lumps, ulcerated sores, or areas of thickened skin.


Preventing Skin Cancer in Dogs


Prevention is key when it comes to protecting your dog from skin cancer. Here are some tips to reduce their risk:


1) Limit sun exposure, especially during peak hours of UV radiation.

2) Provide ample shade in outdoor areas where your dog spends time.

3) Use dog-safe sunscreen on sensitive areas of your dog's skin, such as the ears, nose, and belly.

4) Consider protective clothing or accessories, such as UV-blocking shirts or hats, for dogs with light-colored fur or skin.


Treatment of Skin Cancer in Dogs


If your dog is diagnosed with skin cancer, treatment options may vary depending on the type and stage of the cancer. Your veterinarian may recommend surgical removal of the tumor, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. Additionally, supportive therapies, such as OncoPet Cancer Vitamin, can help bolster your dog's immune system and overall health during cancer treatment.


In conclusion, skin cancer is a serious health concern for dogs, but with proper prevention and early detection, you can help safeguard your dog from skin cancer. Always bring any unusual growths or skin changes to the attention of your veterinarian right away.


Author: Susan Blake Davis

Date: 5/10/2024

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Is Your Cat Stressed Out? 3 Tips To Comfort Your Kitty

Unbeknownst to you, your cat might be silently wrestling with stress. Yes, stress can be a real problem for your cat. Cats do not like change! Whether it is a change in your family’s schedule, a new pet coming into the home, a loss of a pet companion or even rearranging the furniture can cause stress. If your cat is sick, this can make them feel vulnerable and anxious. Older cats will be even more prone to the effects of stress.

Cats that are stressed might exhibit behavioral changes (such as missing the litter box) or stress related health issues.They love a schedule and consistency and anything that disrupts their routine can cause them to become stressed. In their own unique way, they may be trying to tell you that they are stressed, but the signs may go unnoticed. It is important to be vigilant in deciphering their subtle language and recognize the signs of stress. You can then explore the cause and find ways to help them feel better.

Signs Your Cat May Be Stressed Out 

Watch for any of these signs your cat has anxiety or is stressed:

Changes in Behavior: If your cat suddenly becomes more withdrawn or unusually clingy, it could be a sign of stress. If they are spending more time hiding under furniture or in closets than usual, it could also be a sign that something is bothering them. If your cat seems unusually restless, pacing around the house displaying nervous behavior or increased aggression or hostility towards people or other pets may indicate stress. 

Vocalization: Some cats may vocalize more when they're stressed, meowing excessively or making other distress sounds like hissing and growling.

Loss of Appetite or Overeating: Stress can affect a cat's eating habits. Some cats may lose their appetite and eat less, while others may overeat as a coping mechanism.

Litter Box Issues: Changes in litter box behavior, such as urinating or defecating outside the litter box, can be a sign of stress. Your cat might be trying to communicate their discomfort with their environment.

Excessive Grooming or Self-Mutilation: Cats may groom themselves excessively when stressed, leading to hair loss or skin irritation. In severe cases, they may even resort to self-mutilation, such as licking or biting at their skin.

Changes in Sleeping Patterns: Stress can disrupt a cat's normal sleep patterns. They may sleep more than usual or have trouble sleeping, leading to insomnia.

Physical Symptoms: Stress can manifest in physical symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, or respiratory problems. If you notice any unusual symptoms, it's essential to consult your veterinarian. They may also show these bodily signs: 

      Immobility - may become immobile, sitting in a fixed posture for long periods of time  

      Body – crouched directly on top of all fours, shaking and tail close to the body

      Belly – not exposed, rapid breathing

      Head – lower than the body, motionless and whiskers back and maybe drooling

      Eyes – fully open and pupils fully dilated

      Ears – fully flattened back on the head

Three Tips To Ease Your Cat's Anxiety and Stress

1. Create a Safe and Comfortable Environment:

  • Provide your cat with a quiet and secluded area where they can retreat to when they feel stressed. This could be a cozy bed in a low-traffic area or a hiding spot such as a covered cat bed or a cardboard box with a blanket inside.
  • Ensure that your cat has access to their essentials such as food, water, litter box, and toys in this safe space.
  • Talk with your vet about using pheromone diffusers or sprays like Feliway, which contain synthetic versions of calming cat pheromones, to help create a calming atmosphere in your home.

2. Implement Relaxation Techniques:

  • Engage in interactive play sessions with your cat using toys such as feather wands or laser pointers. Play can help reduce stress and anxiety by providing mental and physical stimulation.

  • Try gentle grooming sessions with a soft brush or grooming glove. Many cats find grooming relaxing and it can help strengthen the bond between you and your cat.

  • Consider incorporating calming activities such as gentle massage or providing a warm blanket or heated bed for your cat to curl up on.

  • Give Happy Paws Drops a try. Hemp CBD oil for cats can help them relax and feel more emotionally balanced without the side effects of medications. 

3. Establish Routine and Predictability:

  • Cats thrive on routine, so try to maintain a consistent daily schedule for feeding, playtime, and other activities.

  • Minimize sudden changes in your cat's environment whenever possible. If you need to make changes, introduce them gradually to give your cat time to adjust.

  • Provide your cat with plenty of mental stimulation by offering puzzle feeders, interactive toys, or rotating their toys regularly to keep them engaged and prevent boredom.

Author:  Susan Blake Davis, Pet Nutritionist
Revised and Updated:  5/4/2024
Originally Published:  5/12/2017

Monday, April 29, 2024

Canine Brain Tumors: Signs To Watch For

A canine brain tumor is a mass inside your dogs cranial cavity. It may be cancerous or non cancerous. There are different levels of malignancy and depending on the level, the treatment options will vary.The mass may be the main tumor or possibly a secondary tumor, that has spread from another part of the body. Brain tumors are more common in older dogs (and cats too), but can also develop in younger pets.  

Signs Of A Dog Brain Tumor

Symptoms of a dog brain tumor vary depending upon the location of the tumor in your dog's brain. 

Forebrain Symptoms-responsible for "thinking," behavior, and final integration of sensory information
  • Behavioral abnormalities such as loss of learned behavior and depression
  • Increased or decreased appetite and thirst
  • Constant pacing or circling
  • Decreased awareness and vision on one side of the body,
  • Seizures
The Brainstem-regulation of motor function (the ability to walk), the level of wakefulness, and the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.   nerves that control movement of and sensation to the face, the eyes, the throat, larynx and tongue, and the muscles of mastication 
  • Head tilt
  • Leaning and falling to the side of the head tilt
  • Drunken gait with loss of balance (ataxia)
  • Circling to the side of the head tilt
  • Involuntary flicking of the eyes (nystagmus)
  • Loss of appetite and vomiting
  • Abnormal eye position (strabismus)
The Cerebellum - The cerebellum controls coordination of movements and interacts closely with the vestibular system to control balance and posture. Signs of a tumor in the cerebellum include:
  • Uncoordinated gait characterized by dramatic goosestepping (hypermetria)
  • Head tremors that are worst when the animal is intent on something (i.e., food) but disappear when the animal is relaxed (intention tremors)
  • Swaying of the trunk
  • Wide based stance
  • The animal's strength remains normal
How is a brain tumor diagnosed? 

If your pet is over five years of age and you notice any of these neurological symptoms, it's important to bring your dog to the veterinarian. Testing will include a complete physical and neurological examination, routine blood work (to rule out other causes), CT or MRI (MRI will show more detail and is the first choice), possible surgery or biopsy to determine type of tumor.

Treatment and Prognosis

The options for treating brain tumors usually include surgical removal, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and palliative treatment of the symptoms or a combination. Alternative holistic care can also be an important part of your pet's care plan.  Holistic supplements that can help are:
  • Happy Paws-  Organic hemp extract oil that is helpful for dogs and cats with anxiety, cancer, pain, mobility issues, seizures and stress. Happy Paws anti-inflammatory hemp extract CBD oil may help reduce muscular nerve pain and inflammation.
  • Dog Brain Booster- Provides vital support to the brain with ingredients such as acetyl l-carnitine and phosphatidyl serine, scientifically proven to support brain health.  This leading brain support supplement can help reduce and prevent dog seizures, help dogs with dementia, brain tumors and other brain disorders.
  • Amazing Omegas- Omega -3 fatty acids have well-documented anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is often associated with tumor development and progression. Some research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may support cognitive function and brain health in aging dogs.
The goal of treatment is to help maintain and extend, for as long as possible,  a good quality of life for your pet.  Many clients have reported that the supplements for dog brain tumors complemented other treatment modalities (e.g. radiation) and helped their pet feel better overall. 

Author:  Susan Blake Davis
Updated 4/29/2024
Originally Published 12/2014