About Lisa Theriault

Lisa Theriault wants you to know right up front that she is not a veterinarian. None of the articles/posts on this website are meant to take the place of veterinarian care. That said, Lisa has had a lifetime of experience dealing with dogs and plans on further education on dog anatomy and canine massage. In the meantime, Lisa's posts are all professionally researched and carefully crafted. The last thing she wants is to do or say anything that would hurt your dog. Stay tuned for more updates to Lisa's bio.

Can I Give My Dog Imodium for Diarrhea?

Can I give my dog Imodium for diarrhea? Imodium is a synthetic opioid designed to promote constipation.  This particular drug (also known as loperamide) is safe to use in SOME dogs, but not all.

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Herding breeds like Australian shepherds, Shetland sheepdogs, Border Collies, German Shepherds, Corgis, and all others that fit within this breed cannot tolerate Imodium.

The problem is the MDR1 gene, a mutant gene that seriously limits this breed’s ability to breakdown the drug. When a dog ingests anything it is unable to metabolize through the kidneys or liver, the substance becomes toxic to the dog.  

By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of whether you should give your dog Imodium or not. You’ll have a deeper understanding of underlying conditions that could be affecting your dog and when it’s time to simply get your dog to the vet.

What Side-Effects Can Occur if I Give my Dog Imodium for Diarrhea?

Any drug has side-effects, and for the most part they are mild. Some will even go away during treatment. If you are administering Imodium to your dog (please make sure your dog does not carry the MDR1 gene!  See above.

Side-Effects Might Include:

  • Vomiting.
  • Soft Stools.
  • Bloating.
  • Flatulence.
  • Weight Loss.
  • Bloody Diarrhea.
  • Constipation.
  • Sedation.

Do You Know What’s Causing Diarrhea in Your Dog?

There are several things that could be going on in a dog with persistent diarrhea.  The best-case scenario is that it’s just a passing thing that will clear up on its own.  The question, “Can I give my dog Imodium for diarrhea”, should be well thought out and addressed by a veterinarian if possible. 

This YouTube video is really useful to learn more about diarrhea in dogs!  It’s worth taking a few minutes to watch.

Dogs are known to gobble up things they aren’t supposed to.  However, there could be any number of underlying conditions causing the problem. 

In the cases noted below, treating your dog for diarrhea might stabilize the immediate problem, but does nothing to address the real problem. This is why it’s highly recommended that you seek veterinary input if your dog’s diarrhea lasts longer than 24 hours.

Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs


The first thing the veterinarian will want to check for are parasites. Internal parasites like giardiasis (intestinal infection), tapeworms, whipworm, roundworm, and hookworms are all considerations. 

Luckily, worms in dogs are easily treated with regular topical solutions. The trick is to keep the treatments going all year long to prevent a recurrence.

Read this review on The Prevalence of Giardiasis in Dogs


Other causes of diarrhea in dogs might include a sudden dietary change (has he been in the neighbor’s garbage lately?)

ANTIBIOTICS – Can I Give my Dog Imodium for Diarrhea?

Has your dog recently been prescribed an antibiotic? Antibiotics are notorious for not only destroying the bad bacteria, but taking the “good” bacteria along with it. 

The natural gut enzymes become vulnerable and breakdown. This breakdown can cause abdominal pain along with constipation or diarrhea.

PANCREATITIS – Can I Give my Dog Imodium for Diarrhea?

Pancreatitis is a condition that affects middle-aged and senior dogs.  It’s also common in overweight dogs and tends to befall females more than males.

Acute pancreatitis symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

You might be interested in reading Best Probiotics for Dogs with Diarrhea published on hubpages.com.


Not to get too personal, but I’ve experienced pretty stressful events that have left my gastrointestinal functioning a little “active”. 

Dogs love routine and any sudden shift in that can cause bowel problems.  Some specific things that could cause stress in your dog include a sudden move, introducing a new pet into the home, changing your dog’s diet too quickly, boarding at a kennel, or being placed in new situations.

CANCER – Can I Give My Dog Imodium for Diarrhea?

My blog is not about being an alarmist, which is why I hesitated to add this category.  The reality is, if your dog is otherwise healthy and still behaving the way he/she normally does, it’s probably not cancer.

Cancer is one of those things that usually presents itself in different ways, long before serious bouts of diarrhea occur. In fact, diarrhea in dogs with cancer is more likely a side-effect of the chemotherapy more than the cancer itself.

I’m not qualified to speak with authority on the topic of cancer in dogs, but I also don’t want you to worry needlessly. Your best bet is to always check with a licensed veterinarian.  A quick phone call might be all you need to get some perspective.

You might be interested in reading more about dog drug toxicity at Pet University.  

Imodium Dosage for Dogs – Yes, You CAN Give Your Dog Imodium for Diarrhea

If you feel confident now in answering your question, “Can I give my dog Imodium for diarrhea?”, then you should know the appropriate dosage for dogs.

Generally speaking (and assuming you are absolutely certain your dog does not have the MDR1 gene mutation), dogs would take 0.1 mg/kg.  Your veterinarian might suggest offering the drug twice a day at that strength. So, for example, a 10 pound dog would get a dose of 0.4 mg of Imodium and a 50 pound dog would get 2 mg.

Why Mixed Breeds Should be Tested for the MDR1 Gene Mutation

The reason for testing mixed breeds is because you might not be sure that there isn’t some herding DNA in your dog’s ancestry.  

The first thing to do is talk to your veterinarian about having the procedure done. DNA testing typically involves either a cheek swab or a blood sample.

Most veterinarian clinics do not perform the test themselves, but they might perform the swab and send it to a lab for a fee. The veterinarian’s fee does not include the cost of the test itself. 

You can also go straight to the source.  There are several brands of genetic tests available for dogs, although the science may not be as precise as that of a university laboratory, for example.   

Genetic testing for the sake of curiosity is fine and it’s okay to use a store-purchased testing kit.

However, if you really want to be sure of your dog’s potential risks, visit a site like Washington State University where they offer testing services.

Other Over-the-Counter Drugs that are Toxic for Dogs Include:

Tylenol – which is acetaminophen

Advil/Motrin – Ibuprofen

Aleve – naproxen

Sleeping pills designed for human use

Certain antidepressants 

This is just a partial list of drugs known to be toxic to animals.  Always check with a licensed veterinarian when in doubt!

How to Treat Diarrhea in Dogs at Home

Here are a few easy things to try at home to see if it helps ease your dog’s diarrhea.

Bland Diet

Bland diets generally consist of foods like white rice and soft dog food combined together.  Boiled chicken or turkey mixed with white rice is a good choice. The low-fat to high-protein ratio is a good choice for dogs with diarrhea.

Dogs have a sensitive digestive tract that can only handle so much. When in doubt, talk to the veterinarian.  Clinics or quality pet stores usually sell food made specifically for your breed of dog, or for specific, temporary ailments like cases of diarrhea. 

Some people also try baby food, specifically meat and rice products, with their dog.  The trick is to not add additional fat, sugar, and fiber into the diet until the diarrhea passes.

Pepto Bismol for Dogs with Diarrhea

Pepto bismol is safe to give to dogs, provided it’s the kind that only contains bismuth subsalicylate.   Bismuth subsalicylate is an antacid and antidiarrheal. The compound acts as a binding agent within the gut and is also thought to slow down motility in the gut.  Serious side-effects in dogs is rare. The biggest concern with bismuth subsalicylate is that it coats the bowels and turns them black. When that happens, it’s hard to determine if there is blood in the stool.

When It’s Time to See a Licensed Veterinarian

Never let diarrhea in dogs go for longer than a couple of days and make sure your dog is drinking enough fluid. It might seem as if the fluid is going in one end and literally coming out the other, but it’s important to keep your dog as hydrated as possible.  Now might be a good time to taper from the usual play or exercise routine as well.  

It’s not unusual for dogs to have short-term bouts of diarrhea. The danger is when it continues over a series of days. Dehydration is a serious condition that needs to be treated properly.

You might be interested in reading about Pedialyte for dogs. 

Can I Give My Dog Imodium for diarrhea
Is it safe to give Imodium to your dog?

I want to thank you for taking the time to read this post.  I hope you were able to find useful information and I hope your dog will soon be on the mend! Please feel free to contact me directly with your comments or questions. I can be reached at latheriault@hugspetproducts.com or you can complete the form below.  I always personally answer my comments.

Now, if you could take a second to POST, TWEET, OR PIN, I would be grateful.  Again, thanks so much and I hope to see you again.

Trifexis for Dogs – New 2019 Guide

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about the use of prescription medications like Trifexis for dogs. The internet is ripe with anecdotal stories of dogs who’ve had serious reactions to drugs like Trifexis but the reality is, if your dog is being treated and monitored by a licensed veterinarian, the medication is much safer than the parasites themselves.

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Trifexis is safe to use in dogs 8 weeks or older, and 5 pounds or heavier. Trifexis for dogs provides a triple punch against parasites including fleas, heartworm, and worms like whipworm and roundworm.

Trifexis is considered a broad-spectrum, safe medication.  You should keep in mind that dogs younger than 14 weeks of age tend to vomit after the first dosage.  If that happens within the first hour of administration, you will need to redose your dog.

I have no affiliation with the makers of Trifexis, but I do believe in the advancement of science and the trials that go into making drugs like Trifexis for dogs safe. 

Don’t Bother with Homeopathic Medicine for Heartworm 

I realize this is a highly controversial subject, but as a regular dog owner like yourself, I really feel that prescription drugs are a sure-thing when it comes to potentially fatal conditions like heartworm.

Alternative or homeopathic dog medicine certainly has its place in dog care, but I believe the most effective way to actually protect your dog from parasites is through prescription, FDA approved medication.  Trifexis for dogs is one of those medications. 

It’s important to always weight the risks and the benefits of any drug you give to your dog. A licensed veterinarian can answer your questions.

Side-Effects of Trifexis for Dogs.

The side effects of Trifexis for dogs include lethargy, mild depression, lack of appetite, and possibly vomiting.   Some dogs will become itchy or develop mild diarrhea.  Trembling and incoordination are also possible (but rarer) side-effects.  The majority of dogs will have very mild side-effects, if any.  Younger dogs tend to vomit.

There’s a reason that many drugs require a prescription and it’s not because your veterinarian earns a kickback from the company. 

Requiring a prescription means that you have to bring your dog to a veterinarian before you can administer the drug. In doing this, you give your dog the best chance with the least amount of side effects. 

Get the facts on trifexis for dogs.

Before starting Trifexis for dogs, the veterinarian will want to test for any current heartworm infection. In addition, the veterinarian (if your dog has been to this doctor before) will know your dog’s medical history and will be able to make an appropriate decision on parasite control. 

Seizures have been noted in dogs taking Trifexis (although rare), which is why the veterinarian may suggest another drug if your dog has pre existing epilepsy. 

Important Notes You Need to Know about Trifexis for Dogs

Vomiting is not uncommon when dogs take Trifexis for the first time.  Occasional vomiting is not a serious condition. The most important thing to be aware of is whether your dog vomits within an hour of administration.  If that happens, you will need to redose your dog in order to get complete heartworm protection.

Some dogs taking Trifexis will develop diarrhea. Keep your dog well-hydrated and report back to the veterinarian if the diarrhea gets worse or lasts more than 24 hours.

Precautions in Trifexis for Dogs 

The active ingredients in Trifexis include Spinosad (effectively kills fleas and stops the cycle) and Milbemycin oxime (treats heartworm, adult hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm).

Never give your dog more than the recommended dosage. Trifexis for dogs is considered safe at appropriate dosages.  More of the drug doesn’t work any faster or better. 

Breeding females should not be administered Trifexis. There isn’t much information out there regarding breeding males, so it’s probably best to avoid Trifexis for them as well. 

Trifexis Horror Stories 

The last few years has shown an increase in paranoia and fear over certain prescription drugs. Trifexis for dogs is taking a hit from the public over safety concerns.  The fact that dogs have died while taking Trifexis doesn’t mean it was the Trifexis that caused the death.  

That’s not to say Trifexis is safe for every dog; however, the history of its use points to safe outcomes time and time again. Parasitic infections like heartworm, however, are always fatal if left untreated. 

Take a few minutes to watch this video about heartworms and their treatments.

Dog owners should be concerned about what they’re giving their dogs, but it’s important to find research that is objective.  Trifexis for dogs will only be prescribed after an assessment by a licensed veterinarian to make sure the dog isn’t suffering from other chronic illnesses. 

Protecting Your Dog from Parasites 

Trifexis for dogs is used to stop and kill the life cycle of fleas and various worms including heartworm.  It’s more dangerous to start and stop dosages  based on fears than it is to offer continuous, year-round treatment. Why? Because infestations can’t be cured overnight. In order for drugs like Trifexis to work properly, it takes many months to effectively halt the life cycle of heartworms.

Read all about the Insane Heartworm Life Cycle in Dogs!

Heartworm may not present any symptoms at all until your dog has been infected for 6 months.  At that stage, your dog might show symptoms of coughing and the inability to tolerate exercise. This is because heartworms (as the name implies) affect the heart and the heart valves. As the worms grow and multiply, they will eventually destroy the heart completely. 

How Much and How Often

Unlike natural or alternative treatments, there is no guessing game associated with Trifexis for dogs. The manufacturers of the drug have conducted studies that point to the safest, most effective dosing requirements. 

Dogs 5 pounds and over can take this drug safely.  Since a prescription is required, you will be in a position to ask many questions about the drug. You’ll also be given an appropriate dosage based on your dog’s unique needs.

Trifexis for dogs is given as an oral tablet once per month. Your veterinarian will prescribe the dosage appropriate for your dog’s weight. Do not discontinue use as you will only put your dog at further risk.  Heartworm can recur if the dog is exposed to mosquitoes. The only way to avoid mosquitoes entirely is to keep your dog under lock and key. And nobody is going to do that. 

Other Medications Might Not Work

The truth is, parasites (like bacterial infections) build an immunity to certain drugs. Drugs of the past may not work as effectively or require increased dosages. Giving too much of a drug is detrimental. Not giving enough won’t provide adequate protection against parasites. 

If you live in an area where there are mosquitoes and fleas, you have to worry about parasitic infestations. Fleas and worms (notably heartworms) can have long-term effects on your dog’s health.  Untreated heartworm is actually fatal. 

The beauty of Trifexis for dogs is its three-in-one protection. It’s easy to administer (one tabet monthly) and can save your dog from many secondary infections caused by parasites like fleas. 

Flea Allergies

Some dogs are actually very allergic to fleas. One bite can cause a dog’s entire body to itch uncontrollably.  Constant itching and scratching can cause the skin to develop sores and ulcerate. When this happens, bacteria easily penetrates to the bloodstream. 

 Read about the different types of dermatitis in dogs.

Don’t Think Your Area has Heartworms?  Think Again!

Heartworms thrive in humid climates, especially in areas subjected to mosquitoes. If you’ve ever been camping, enjoy walks or hikes in the outdoors, or live in one of these areas, you know what it’s like to experience that high-pitched whine of a mosquito. He’s nearby but you can’t find him until it’s too late.  You might suffer an annoying itch. Your dog, however, could be on his way to a heartworm infestation. 

Mosquitoes carry the heartworm larva which is transmitted to dogs when they bite. The parasite burrows through the bloodstream and settles in the heart chambers and arteries. 

Trifexis for dogs is the best way to halt heartworm infestation.

The Dire Consequence of Fleas in Dogs

Fleas are another pest that you don’t want your dog to carry. They take weeks to kill off (because of the three-week life cycle) and are easily transmitted from pet to pet. The eggs are shed in the dog’s bedding, carpeting, and furniture. Flea infestations are no fun. Worse, they can cause serious trauma to your dog’s skin. 


Trifexis for dogs is a safe medication designed to protect your beloved dog. The best way to prevent heartworm, flea, or roundworm infestations is through FDA approved meds.  In addition, the best way to make sure Trifexis for dogs is as safe as possible is to maintain regular checkups with the veterinarian. 

Having a healthy, active dog requires a little bit of care and prevention.  Trifexis for dogs should never be given to a dog without seeing a veterinarian first. The reasons, as noted above, are so the doctor can make sure the drug is appropriate and can monitor for side effects before they become serious.

I want to thank you for reading this post and I hope you were able to find useful information. Remember, I’m not a veterinarian and I welcome any comments and corrections! Please feel free to email me at latheriault@hugspetproducts.com or complete the form below this post. 

trifexis for dogs

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The Insane Heartworm Life Cycle in Dogs

The heartworm life cycle in dogs is a long journey from mosquito bite to a heart chamber full of foot-long worms.  Mosquitoes for you and I are mostly just a nuisance. Sure, they can carry some pretty nasty disease, but if you live in North America, that’s pretty rare. 

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Dogs, however, are vulnerable to heartworm. The heartworm life cycle in dogs is long and never-ending unless your dog is treated with prescription medication.

Keep reading to get some perspective on how important it really is to get rid of these parasites.

If you live in an hot, humid area where mosquitoes are endemic, it’s really important to have your pets protected against heartworm.  It’s a relatively small but important investment for the health and safety of your dog(s). 

How Do Dogs Contract Heartworm?

Dog contract heartworms through the bite of an infected mosquito. The larvae are transmitted through the saliva of the mosquito which then make their way through the dog’s bloodstream. 

Heartworms can grow to be a foot long. They live inside your dog’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels, often with little signs or symptoms in the early stages.  Early on, you might notice an occasional cough without realizing there is a bigger problem brewing inside.

Watch the following Youtube video to get a better sense of heartworm disease in dogs

Dogs are a natural host for heartworms, but they also thrive in the bodies of other mammals.  For example, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and others are prone to this parasite.

There Must be SOME Signs or Symptoms!

It can take heartworms up to six months to really start showing signs in your dog. At that point, coughing may be more pronounced and you might notice weight loss. Your normally active dog suddenly stops playing and may not have an appetite. 

As the worms grow, your dog may become tired easily and unable to play like he/she used to. The reason for that is because heartworm infections slowly destroy the heart muscle and arteries leading to the lungs.

As these organs waste away, it’s harder and harder for your dog to get the oxygen needed for energy. 

Read about heartworm prevention written by the American Heartworm Society.

What Can I Do? 

If you haven’t started a monthly heartworm preventative yet, don’t panic. As long as your dog still appears healthy, you can start a program immediately.

The first thing you want to do is get your dog to a veterinarian.  Yes, there are over-the-counter worm medications for dogs, but most only cover the basics (roundworm, whipworm, hookworm). 

In order to successfully get rid of a heartworm infection, you’re going to have to keep your dog on a continuous, year-round treatment plan.  

Why Does the Treatment Have to be Year-Long?

Treating heartworms in dogs is a long process.  Medications might kill the mature adult worm, but it will do nothing to the growing larvae waiting for their chance to thrive.

The only way to adequately treat heartworms in dogs is to give them a continuous treatment through the whole year. 

Keep in mind that this might depend on where you live.  I live in an area in eastern Canada where the temperatures are only hot and mild a few months out of the year. 

However, if you live anywhere in the southern US, where temperatures are warm enough year-round, you’re going to want to protect your dog.d

A Few Months of Treatment Doesn’t do the Trick!

The reason it takes so long to treat heartworm is because of the parasite’s life cycle. It takes six months for the parasite to mature from larvae to adult and by then, your dog may have been re-infected with further mosquito bites. 

Heartworms can actually live inside your dog for up to 7 years! Every time your dog is bitten by a mosquito, a whole new heartworm life cycle is started.

By giving regular, continuous heartworm medications, you can be sure to get the entire infestation while stopping further ones from taking hold.

Heartworms can actually live inside your dog for up to 7 years! Every time your dog is bitten by a mosquito, a whole new heartworm life cycle is started. By giving regular, continuous heartworm medications, you can be sure to get the entire infestation while stopping further ones from taking hold.

Are Heartworm Medications Safe for my Dog?

Federally approved heartworm medications that are prescribed by a licensed veterinarian are safe.

All medications (whether it’s our own prescriptions or prescriptions for our dogs) carry risk of side-effects. Generally speaking, these side-effects are usually mild and are not nearly as dangerous as the infestation. 

Let’s face it, heartworms kill dogs.  Dogs who’ve been rescued from the streets are often loaded with heartworms.

Unfortunately, many of these dogs are already in the danger zone when they’re found.  Once a dog has heartworms, the parasites continue to grow and multiply. Without treatment, they cause the cardiovascular system to stop working, resulting in death. 

Let’s face it, heartworms kill dogs.  Dogs who’ve been rescued from the streets are often loaded with heartworms. Unfortunately, many of these dogs are already in the danger zone when they’re found.  Once a dog has heartworms, the parasites continue to grow and multiply. Without treatment, they cause the cardiovascular system to stop working, resulting in death. 

Avoiding the Deadly Caval Syndrome

Once a dog is in the stages of cardiovascular collapse, he/she is in what’s known as “caval syndrome”. This is a life-threatening emergency.  The signs and symptoms of caval syndrome in dogs includes heavy breathing, pale gums, dark bloody urine.  If the dog has reached this critical point, chances of survival are slim. 

Do I Live in A Heartworm Endemic Region?

Look at maps from 2013 onwards and you’ll notice that the areas of endemic mosquito populations are rising. The heaviest population of larvae-carrying mosquitoes is in the southern and eastern parts of the United States and Canada. 

To get a better idea of where heartworm is highest, take a look at these maps. 

There MUST be Natural Ways to Get Rid of Heartworm in Dogs!

No matter what anybody tells you, homeopathic options are not the way to go.  Alternative or all natural worming methods have existed for centuries and, in some cases, they have shown to be a least partially effective.  

Heartworms, however, don’t live in the digestive system where something like diatomaceous earth could potentially aid in killing parasites.  They don’t live in the dog’s fur or in the uppermost layers of skin either. There is no way for a natural remedy to penetrate the heart muscle and arteries. 

Trifexis for Dogs 

Specialized medicines like Trifexis, for example, have been tested and proven successful in ridding dogs of heartworm infestation.  However, as stated above, it will only work with continual treatment. Even if you successfully treat one infestation, your dog will surely succumb to another one, especially if he/she lives in a region prone to the parasitic infection.

Is My Family At Risk of Contracting Heartworm?

Mosquitoes carry a wide number of pathogens that can be passed on to humans. These pathogens include bubonic plague and dengue fever (in sub-tropical regions). 

Read this post by the Minnesota Department of Health to get a better idea of the reach mosquitoes have in terms of disease transmission. 

You might not hear about travellers being infected with bubonic plague these days, but I’ll bet you’ve heard of the zika virus, malaria, yellow fever, and west nile. 

In dogs, however, your biggest worry should be the transmission of heartworm. The best way to prevent transmission of heartworm in dogs is to keep them regularly treated with prescription medication.

I’m Afraid to Give My Dog Trifexis

It’s no wonder! Look around the Internet and you’ll find countless fear mongering and anecdotal stories that  probably have no bearing on the safety of drugs like Trifexis. 

The truth is, dogs who’ve died while on Trifexis could have been suffering from underlying conditions before starting the medication. It’s up to the veterinarian to make sure your dog has no other pre-existing conditions before prescribing Trifexis. 

Yes, there is a risk of seizure in dogs who take Trifexis, but (believe it or not) occasional mild seizures are not something to worry about. If your dog has chronic seizures because of epilepsy, the veterinarian might want to prescribe another type of drug.

There are countless worming drugs on the market. However, veterinarians are now starting to notice a decline in the efficiency of old-school deworming medication.  Like bacterium, the worms seems to be developing a resistance to these drugs. 

So What’s the Solution?

It’s really important to get on top of the heartworm life cycle in dogs with an oral or topical solution prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. Anyone who loves their dogs worries about side-effects, so talk to the doctor and ask questions.  Every medication has side-effects, even that Tylenol you take has side effects. Try to remember that the heartworm life cycle is much riskier than FDA approved meds. 

At the end of the day, you dog’s safety is on the line. By administering regular doses of an approved drug, you can keep your dog happy and healthy for years to come. 

My goal of this post was to help you make an informed choice free from the hysteria you may read or hear. It’s very sad when a dog passes away, no matter what the reason. However, please remember that people who are grieving often are also very angry. It’s easy to place the blame somewhere and, sometimes, that blame is on a prescription drug. 

It’s possible that certain drugs are responsible for serious adverse effects. However, a licensed veterinarian should be trusted to make the best choice for your dog’s needs. The veterinarian will base the decision on your dog’s age and current state of health. Regular appointments to monitor your dog’s condition will go a very long way in avoiding serious complications (if any). 


I hope you were able to get some useful information from this post and I welcome your thoughts on the topic.  I realize this is very controversial for many, but thought it was important to state the truth as I see it. Please feel free to comment below or contact me directly at latheriault@hugspetproducts.com 

Remember…I am not a veterinarian. I do my research carefully and aim to provide good quality resources free from hype.  

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the insane heartworm life cycle in dogs
Goofy dog running away from murderous mosquitoes!

Benign Meibomian Gland Cysts in Dogs

Benign meibomian gland cysts in dogs are non-cancerous. They originate in the meibomian gland (or sebaceous glands) of the eye. They tend to occur in older dogs and can affect any breed.

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Are you worried about any unusual lumps and bumps in or around your dog’s eyes?  If so, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a licensed veterinarian for proper diagnosis. There are a variety of eye problems (listed within this post) that can occur in dogs. 

This post will give you a better understanding of what benign meibomian gland cysts in dogs are, when surgery is recommended, what surgery involves, and post-treatment recovery.  In addition, you’ll learn about the possibility of meibomian tumor recurrence. 

What Are Meibomian Glands in Dogs?

The meibomian glands are the oil-producing glands (sebaceous glands) found along the eyelid margins. They’re not underneath the eyelid; rather, they form on the ridge just below or above the lash line. These glands become dysfunctional if blocked, leading to swelling within or on the margins of the eyelid. 

Meibomian glands are responsible for oil secretion (sebum) and help prevent the eyes from drying out.   The oil coats the eye and prevents the teary water component from evaporating.

People have the same glands that form the same function. Everytime we blink (or your dog blinks), the meibomian glands secrete a small amount of sebum to protect the eyeball. This oily substance is what keeps our eyes from drying out. 

The same dysfunction can occur in dogs.  Take a look at the TearScience website to find out more about the effects of meibomian gland dysfunction. Although the information presented is for people, the same principles apply to our canine friends.

Meibomian gland cysts in dogs are tiny little nodules that can form in what’s known as the “third eye”. The third eye (aka nictitating membrane) is the tissue you see in the corner of the eye. If you watch your dog blink, you’ll see movement of that membrane. 

Will My Dog Go Blind?

Meibomian cysts or tumors occur on or under the eyelid margin.  Initially, they are quite small and your dog might not even notice them.  It’s unlikely your dog would go blind, but if these cysts are left unchecked, they could potentially grow large enough to irritate the cornea. That irritation could, conceivably, cause the cornea to become infected and ulcerate. 

What Are the Symptoms of Eyelid Tumors in Dogs?

Meibomian tumors (also called chalazions) don’t show early obvious symptoms other than the swelling of the cyst itself.  They do not cause dogs pain. However, if the cyst is left to grow, there is the possibility it could become big enough to cover and irritate the retina. The size of the cyst can block your dog’s vision.  As the lump grows, you may start to notice redness in your dog’s eye.

There’s a good chance you won’t notice any issue with your dog’s eyes until a benign cyst forms.   In rare cases, the cysts may disappear on their own, but it’s not likely.  Over-the-counter antibiotic drops or creams will not make them go away.  

What Should I Do If My Dog Has Meibomian Cysts?

 If your dog is showing signs of eye irritation, and there’s nothing obviously wrong (like a piece of grass or fleck of dirt in the eye), make an appointment to see the veterinarian. Also, just because the oil glands show signs of dysfunction doesn’t mean your dog has tumors. Listed below are a variety of other eye diseases that can affect dogs.

Dogs have an uncanny ability to hide pain from people.  However, you might notice subtle signs that something is wrong. A dog will lick at spots that are irritated or uncomfortable. Of course, they can’t lick their eyelids. Instead, you might notice your dog pawing at the eye. Dogs will sometimes take their entire paw and rub it over their heads and down over the eyelid. 

Common forms of eye problems in dogs.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy 

Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye 

Cataracts in Dogs 

Glaucoma in Dogs 

Can Meibomian Gland Cysts become Cancerous?

It’s highly unlikely that meibomian gland cysts in dogs will become cancerous. That said, I am not a veterinarian and I cannot diagnose your dog. It can’t be stated enough:  If you suspect any problems with your dog’s eyes, please bring him/her to a licensed veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Will My Dog Need Surgery?

There are a few ways a veterinarian could approach the treatment of benign meibomian gland cysts in dogs.

Wait-and-See Approach

In some cases, meibomian cysts could disappear on their own. In order to do that, however, the dysfunctioning gland needs to be addressed. If the condition is very mild and in its early stages, properly cleaning the eyelids with warm compresses. 

The veterinarian might choose a wait-and-see approach if the cysts are tiny and pose no threat to the dog’s quality of life.  

Surgery Without Anesthesia (Local)

Some dogs can tolerate the removal of benign meibomian gland cysts with a local freezing and some can’t. A “local” refers to freezing just the area around the cyst. You dog stays awake during this painless procedure. For this to be successful, your dog needs to be particularly calm.  

Surgery with Anesthesia (General Anesthesia)

Local anesthesia (staying awake during the procedure) is less risky than being put under.  However, depending on the severity of the cyst and the temperament of your dog, general anesthesia might be preferable. Keep in mind that general anesthesia will cost more than a local.  

What Are the Risks of Anesthetizing My Pet?

Risks of general anesthesia include choking on vomit (if your dog hasn’t been properly fasted in advance), serious allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock), aspiration pneumonia, and in rare cases heart, liver, or kidney failure. 

If your dog is otherwise healthy, the risks are low. Your dog might have mild swelling at the injection site which is not considered serious. 

Since older dogs are more likely to have pre-existing conditions, the veterinarian may prefer to try a local anesthetic instead. 

Evaluating Your Pet’s Condition Pre-Anesthesia

Meibomian gland cysts in dogs are not life-threatening and, for that reason, surgery can be scheduled well in advance. That gives the veterinarian time to explain the pre-surgical procedures. For example, dogs should be fasted up to 12 hours before surgery. 

If your dog is currently on medications like blood thinners, the veterinarian may ask you to reduce the dosage or stop the medication just before the surgery.

NOTE:  Never stop your dog’s medication without first consulting with a veterinarian.  Always follow your veterinarian’s orders regarding pre-surgical preparation for the best possible outcome.

Medications Used in Surgery

Veterinarians have a variety of medications to choose from when performing surgery.  Before surgery, dogs are usually given a sedative like Butorphanol. Butorphanol is thought to reduce post-operative pain and helps the general anesthetic work faster.  The anesthetic itself could be something like Sevoflurane, an inhalation agent.

Please visit the Canine for Veterinary Health Services for more details on anesthetic medications. 

Post-Surgical Expectations

Surgery for benign meibomian gland cysts provides complete removal of the eyelid tumors. 

After surgery, the veterinarian may prescribe pain killers, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories.

An Elizabethan collar is recommended to prevent your dog from pawing at the affected eye.

The Reality of Post-Surgical Recurrence

In some cases, meibomian cysts will recur. Dogs and people may develop these benign cysts if they have a history of blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids due to blocked oil glands) or conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva). The conjunctiva is a thin mucus membrane that partially covers the eye. 

Surgical removal of benign meibomian cysts is curative; however, there are hundreds of meibomian glands that can also become infected. In other words, that particular cyst can be removed and cured, but there are many other areas where more cysts can come back. 


Cryosurgery is the most common way to surgically remove benign meibomian gland cysts in dogs.  This is, essentially, where they freeze off the affected tissue. 

A chalazion clamp is fitted over the cyst and the rest of the eyelid is covered for protection.  The surgeon applies the device to the tissues which are frozen to at least -25 degrees using either carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide.

This action destroys the intracellular wall and ruptures the unwanted tumor.  A similar action is performed in-office for things like warts in people. 


Meibomian gland cysts in dogs typically occur in older dogs, although they can occur in all ages and all breeds.  Pay particular attention to your dog’s eyes for any changes, however subtle.  Redness, swelling, pawing at the area, crusting of the eyelids and fur loss around the eyes could be signs of trouble. Also watch the cornea itself for signs of opaqueness (cataracts). 

Anytime your dog seems to be “off” is a good time to visit a licensed veterinarian. After all, you know your dog better than anyone else so trust your intuition.

I want to thank you for reading this post and I hope you’ll come back! Please take a minute to Pin, Tweet, or Post this article. 

Dog Skin Cancer Facts

Did you know that dogs can get skin cancer? Like us, their skin can be damaged by the sun’s rays. Breeds with fine fur and more exposed skin are more at risk.  Dog skin cancer, luckily, can be surgically removed. If caught early, your dog can go to a live a long and happy life. 

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Dog skin cancer shows up as a new lump or bump and tend to occur in places where there is little fur. Warning signs of dog skin cancer includes the appearance of a new lump or bump on the skin.  It might look like a wart and could be an unusual color (red, yellow, black, or brown). Dog skin cancers typically occur on the eyelids, face or head.

In this post, you’ll discover the different types of skin cancer in dogs. I’ve included the signs, symptoms, and options for treatment. 

Growths on the Aging Dog

It’s normal for dogs to develop growths on their bodies as they age. Unfortunately, there’s no way to determine whether those lumps are cancerous or not by sight alone.  The veterinarian will have to examine cells of the tumor under a microscope.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs in North America.   That’s because some cancers, like tumors of the spleen, don’t have noticeable symptoms until the condition is dire.

Dog skin cancer is serious, but it can be treated. The main thing I want to express is that it must be caught early.  Always bring your dog to a licensed veterinarian when you see any new lump or bump.  There are different types of dog skin cancer, which I explain later in this post.

Symptoms of Skin Cancer in Dogs 

Before you go further, it’s important to stress the importance of taking your dog to a veterinarian as soon after a new lump is spotted as possible.  Cancer is scary, but the faster it’s diagnosed, the better prognosis your dog will have.

Symptoms of skin cancer in dogs include fatigue, wart-like lump(s) that takes on an unusual color, fur loss around the sight of the lump, the lump becomes itchy or shows signs of ulceration, or a change in the size of the growth. 

It’s possible to miss the subtle signs of dog skin cancer.  Cancer in dogs can be a gradual progression of signs that aren’t easily identified in the early stages.  The most common first indication is a new lump or bump.

There IS Something You Can Do!

Whether you’ve already taken your dog to the veterinarian or not, there are some things you can do at home to help keep an eye on the growth.  

The first thing to do is take a picture of the growth. Put a penny (or some other point of reference) beside the growth before snapping a picture.  That will give you a baseline to go by.  You could also just measure the growth, going back from time to time to recheck. 

You can help researchers better diagnose and treat dog skin cancer.  Follow the link to the Animal Cancer Foundation and find out how.

Record the date and size of the growth in order to give you a better perspective over time. Ideally, you should make an appointment to see the veterinarian the minute you spot a new lump on your dog. This ensures your dog the best outcome if it is cancer.

Disclosure: I’m not a licensed veterinarian. If you are searching for medical information or treatment for your dog, please get in contact with a licensed veterinarian. This post does not intend to diagnose or suggest treatment for your dog. 

Other signs and symptoms might include loss of appetite, redness or inflammation of the skin, fur loss around the sight, and sudden itchiness on or near the lump.

The Many Forms of Dog Skin Cancer

Skin cancer in dogs can appear anywhere on the body, but is most likely to occur around the face or in places where the fur is thin.  Types of dog skin cancer include the following:

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This type of cancer is the one that has a wart like appearance. Again, it’s impossible to say it’s cancer just by looking. My dog had a wart-like growth that turned out to be a harmless (but ugly) sebaceous cyst.  I had reason to worry, however, because of the location on the abdomen, a common place to find squamous cell carcinoma in dogs.

Mast Cell Tumor

Mast cell tumors can be benign (non cancerous) or malignant (cancerous and likely to spread). Mast cell tumors in dogs can be removed through surgery. If caught early and all cancer is removed, dogs can go on to live a long life. This kind of dog skin cancer can grow fast or slow and tend to have a rubbery texture.  These usually occur on the trunk of the body. 

Mast cell tumors originate in the blood cells responsible for healthy immune function.  When a tumor forms, it contains pockets of chemicals known as granules.  Dog breeds more susceptible to mast cell tumors include Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Pugs, Shar Peis, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and Boxers. 

Warning signs of mast cell tumors in dogs include the presence of a solitary, slow-growing lesion. Fur loss can occur around the area and the skin tissue can become inflamed. Overall, however, the mast cell tumor might look as inconspicuous as any other benign lump or bump.  Get your dog to a licensed veterinarian as soon as you can after spotting anything that might be suspicious. 

Watch this quick video by Canna-Pet for signs, symptoms and treatment of dog skin cancer. 


This type of dog skin cancer is not like the kind that you or I might get.  In people, the word “melanoma” is something we should fear because of the malignant nature of the cancer. In dogs, however, they are usually benign.  Melanomas in dogs can look like small masses (black or brownish) but can also be flat, large, or wrinkled in appearance. 

The only way for a veterinarian to be able to tell you whether this is a serious type of dog skin cancer or not is to remove it or perform a small needle aspiration.  Small needle aspiration involves removing some of the tumor cells for closer examination under a microscope.  

Hair Follicle Tumors

Just as they sound, hair follicle tumors originate in the dog’s hair follicles.  This type of dog skin cancer presents as a tumor on top of the skin.  These tumors can ooze fluids and have a greater risk of infection.  Types of hair follicle tumors include:

Infundibular Keratinizing Acanthoma

This dog skin cancer develops higher up in the hair follicle and can present as one tumor or several. You are most likely to find this dog skin cancer on the neck or trunk. These tend to develop at around 5 years of age, if they are going to develop at all. 


These occur in middle aged dogs and are often found on the back, shoulders, trunk, or tail.  Occasionally they occur on the dog’s limbs. Again, these can ulcerate and ooze pus and blood with the danger of becoming infected. 


Trichoblastoma is a type of dog skin cancer that occurs in the hair cells at the root of the hair follicle. They are typically solitary and found on the head, neck and ears. Dogs more likely to develop this type of dog skin cancer are Standard Poodles and Cocker Spaniels. 


These tumors also develop in the dog’s hair cells. In very rare circumstances, you’ll find a malignant form that spreads to the rest of the body. The types of dogs more prone to this skin cancer are dogs with hair that grows and needs to be clipped.  A poodle, for example, is at higher risk than a hound. 


These are benign tumors that develop due to overactive immune cells.  In many cases, histiocytomas will disappear on their own.  If they don’t, and they are causing the dog discomfort, histiocytomas can be surgically removed.

Dog Skin Cancer According to the Canine Cancer Foundation.

The Canine Cancer Foundation is an amazing resources for all types of cancers found in dogs. If your dog does have a cancerous tumor, you will find everything you need to know about surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy for dogs. 

Surgical Removal of Skin Cancer in Dogs.

Once the lump has been biopsied and viewed under a microscope, the veterinarian will be able to determine if the spot is cancer or not. If it is cancer, the best option is usually surgery.  Surgery is only considered if your dog is otherwise healthy.  Senior dogs or dogs with chronic disorders might not be considered good candidates.

The following is an affiliate link.  Although there’s no medical proof that supplements prevent dog skin cancer, they can help to alleviate the discomfort of itch and irritation.  

Supplements for your dogs health

The surgeon will remove the growth by cutting out the tissue and taking a wide margin along with it. By doing this, surgeons lessen the chances of the tumor coming back (by leaving cells behind). 

Radiation Therapy 

Radiation therapy is used in certain grades and stages of mast cell tumors. Read more HERE. 


Chemotherapy is only used in certain situations where the cancer may have spread or is particularly aggressive. Chemotherapy is an expensive option. However, it can help extend your dog’s life.  If you find yourself at this stage, please talk to your veterinarian about the dog’s quality of life and prognosis. 

Can You Afford to Treat Dog Skin Cancer?

People respond to dog skin cancer differently. In some cases, spending money on surgery isn’t an option because of the related costs. If you are in that position, you should know that some veterinarians offer assistance in the form of Care Credit

Care credit is a way to borrow against the cost of surgery. You have six months to pay off the balance before you are charged interest. 

If you are concerned about the costs of dog skin cancer surgery or diagnostic tests, ask your veterinarian if they offer any form of assistance. It’s your right to look around and find the best deal.  Alternative ways of dealing with cancer care costs include searching for active clinical trials. 

Dog Skin Cancer Summary

The most important thing you can do for your dog is keep an eye open for new lumps and bumps.  The veterinarian will need to examine the tissue in order to determine whether it is benign or cancerous. 

If the expense of frequent visits to the veterinarian are a concern, you can always shop around for veterinarians who charge less. At the very least, you might choose to watch the lump to see if it grows or changes in appearance. The minute any changes are noticed, you need to bring your dog to a veterinarian.

Please remember that if it is a type of dog skin cancer, the longer you wait, the harder it will be to treat successfully. 

I want to thank you for reading this post! I hope you’ll take a second to PIN, TWEET, OR POST for the benefit of others.  If you have any questions or concerns, always seek the help of licensed veterinarian.  I am not a veterinarian. 

Dog skin cancer can be treated successfully if diagnosed early.
Early stages of dog skin cancer often have no symptoms other than the appearance of a new lump or bump.