Best Treatments for Dogs with Allergic Dermatitis

Here at Affordable Pet Hospital in Tampa, we see many cases of dogs with allergic dermatitis. Allergic dermatitis (also known as atopic dermatitis) is a skin condition that results from an allergic reaction to a substance in the environment, such as pollen, mold, or food. Symptoms can include red, itchy skin, hair loss, and even skin infections. While it can be a frustrating condition to manage, there are several effective treatments available to help manage symptoms and improve your dog’s quality of life.


One of the most effective treatments for dogs with allergic dermatitis is medication. Antihistamines, corticosteroids, and immunosuppressive drugs can help reduce itching and inflammation and can be administered orally or topically. Your veterinarian can recommend the best type of medication for your dog based on the severity of their symptoms and other medical conditions.


Another effective treatment for dogs with allergic dermatitis is dietary management. In some cases, a food allergy may be the underlying cause of a dog’s skin problems. Switching to a hypoallergenic or limited-ingredient diet can help eliminate the source of the allergy and improve symptoms. Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s diet can also help. Your veterinarian can recommend a high-quality diet that is appropriate for your dog.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to medication and dietary management, there are several lifestyle changes for you and your dog that can help manage symptoms of allergic dermatitis. These include regular bathing and grooming, using a medicated or grain-free shampoo, doing foot soaks to remove allergens from the feet, and vacuuming more frequently. Speak with your veterinarian to learn about these simple changes that can have a huge impact on your dog’s allergic dermatitis symptoms.


While some immunosuppressive drugs can be given orally, for cases of allergic dermatitis caused by genetics or that have not responded well to less invasive treatments, immunotherapy injections may be the best option. These injections are given in a very similar manner to immunotherapy injections in humans and are customized to the dog’s specific allergy triggers.

Allergic Dermatitis Treatment for Your Dog in Tampa

It’s important to remember that managing allergic dermatitis can take time and patience. In some cases, it may take several weeks or months to see improvement, and it may be necessary to try several different treatments before finding the best solution. With the right combination of treatments, however, many dogs with allergic dermatitis can live happy, healthy lives. If your dog is struggling with allergic dermatitis symptoms and you live in the Tampa area, contact Affordable Pet Hospital at 813-991-9898 to schedule an appointment today.

How to Tell if Your Dog Has Cataracts

You’ve probably heard about cataracts in humans, but did you know that your dog can get cataracts too? It’s true! This eye condition can affect dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds. However, certain breeds are at a higher risk of developing cataracts. Additionally, other factors can also increase your dog’s risk of developing cataracts. In this post, we’ll break down how to spot canine cataracts and where to get the best treatment for your pup in Tampa Bay.

What are Canine Cataracts?

Just like in humans, cataracts in dogs are cloudy areas on the lens of the eye. Cataracts can be present on one or both eyes, vary in size, and vary in opacity. They are usually white or gray.

Symptoms of Canine Cataracts

In addition to white or gray spots on the lens of one or both eyes, canine cataract symptoms also include:

  • Bumping into furniture
  • Not recognizing familiar people
  • Clumsiness
  • Hesitance to climb or jump
  • Unsure footing
  • Misjudging distances
  • Unusual gait
  • Changes in eye color
  • Changes in pupil size
  • Changes in pupil shape
  • Rubbing or scratching the eyes
  • Squinting
  • Watery eyes

Predisposing Factors for Canine Cataracts

While any dog can develop cataracts, veterinary and animal researchers have noticed some trends in canine cataract diagnosis. Certain breeds are more susceptible to developing cataracts, including:

  • American Cocker Spaniel
  • Boston Terrier
  • Golden Retriever
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Siberian Husky

There are some other factors that also put your dog at higher risk for developing cataracts:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Advanced age
  • Eye inflammation
  • Eye trauma
  • Other eye diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Low blood calcium levels
  • Nutritional issues
  • Electric shock
  • Exposure to toxins

Leading Cause of Canine Cataracts

Genetic predisposition is the biggest risk factor for your dog developing cataracts. If your dog is one of the breeds listed above or has a parent or relative with cataracts, consult with a veterinarian about prevention techniques and the possibility of genetic testing.

Getting Treatment for Canine Cataracts

At Affordable Pet Hospital in Tampa, we provide a full range of veterinary services, including canine cataract treatment. From prevention methods to surgery, we can show you all your cataract treatment options. Call us at 813-991-9898 or contact us online to schedule your dog’s cataract treatment today.

Reasons for Ear Infections in Dogs

If your pup seems to always get ear infections, you’re not alone. Dogs do typically have more ear infections than humans, but why?

Ear Canal Shape

Dogs are more susceptible to ear infections than humans due to their L-shaped ear canals, which tend to hold in fluid more than the human ear canal. This is because the human ear canal is more horizontal, so fluid can flow out easier. But ear canal shape is only part of the story.

Moisture Buildup

Ear infections are usually caused by bacteria or yeast sitting in moisture that has built up in the dog’s ear canal. The ear canal shape helps hold the moisture in, allowing the bacteria or yeast to proliferate.

Predisposing Factors

While an ear infection can happen anytime, there are some factors that seem to predispose dogs to getting them:

  • Physical trauma to the ear
  • Cleaning the ears too much
  • Not cleaning the ears enough/wax buildup
  • Some endocrine disorders
  • Some autoimmune disorders
  • Foreign objects in the ear canal
  • Allergies, especially allergic skin disease and food sensitivities
  • Ear mites or other parasites
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Elongated or floppy ears
  • Other ear abnormalities

Signs of Ear Infections in Dogs

The signs and symptoms of an ear infection may vary from dog to dog, but there are some telltale signs that most dogs exhibit:

  • Excessive shaking of the head
  • Scratching at one or both ears
  • Rubbing the head against objects
  • Whining
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Odd eye movements
  • Ear discharge
  • Odor coming from the ear
  • Redness in the ear canal
  • Swelling of the ear canal
  • Crusting or scabbing in the ear canal
  • Balance and coordination problems

Ear Infection Treatment in Tampa Bay

If you think your dog has an ear infection, getting treatment quickly is essential to prevent the infection from causing other issues, such as hearing loss. If you’re in Tampa Bay, you can get quality care for your pup at Affordable Pet Hospital on Cross Creek Boulevard in Tampa. Just give us a call at 813-991-9898 or request an appointment online to get your furry friend back to 100% today!

Common Genetic Disorders in Dogs

Just like humans, dogs can inherit certain conditions and disorders from their parents. Some of these inherited conditions are due to chromosomal or DNA differences, while others are caused by physical variations that predispose the dog to issues. Many people mistakenly believe that genetic disorders only affect purebred dogs, but mixed-breed dogs can also be affected.

In addition, environmental factors still play a big role in the development and progression of many of these genetic conditions. This means that just because a dog displays a genetic marker for a condition, there is no guarantee that the dog will actually develop that condition without environmental influence as well. This also suggests that dog owners can make environmental adjustments to decrease their dog’s likelihood of developing the said condition.

In this post, we’ll summarize some of the most common genetic or hereditary disorders in our canine friends:


It is widely known and accepted that certain breeds of dogs are more susceptible to allergies, indicating that a genetic source is a likely cause. Breeds known to be vulnerable to hereditary allergies include (source and source):

  • Labradors
  • Golden Retrievers
  • German Shepherds
  • Poodles
  • Spaniels
  • Staffordshire Bull Terriers
  • French Bulldogs
  • Jack Russell Terriers
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Chinese Shar-Peis
  • Wirehaired Fox Terriers
  • Dalmatians
  • Boxers
  • Boston Terriers
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Scottish Terriers
  • Shih Tzus

Allergies typically manifest as skin-related symptoms like excessive itchiness, licking, and scratching. This is known as atopic dermatitis or atopy. Other canine skin issues that relate to allergies are chronic inflammatory otitis, recurrent hot spots, and pruritus. Immunotherapy is the preferred method of treatment for canine allergies, just like humans. Comfort measures to soothe and heal the affected skin areas are also required.

Hip Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia is the most common musculoskeletal disorder found in dogs and causes instability, and eventually dislocation, of the hip joints. Dogs with a genetic predisposition to hip dysplasia usually show excessive hip laxity at very young ages. Proper assessment during puppy visits and neutering/spaying can identify hip laxity and help the dog owner prepare for the potential of dysplasia. In some cases, preventative surgery on the hip joint is recommended.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

Some people just fawn over a dog with a short snout and flat face, like pugs, English bulldogs, French bulldogs, and boxers. However, these cute facial features can come at a price. The mismatch in proportions of the skull to the soft tissues in the nasal area causes serious breathing issues in these breeds, especially during and after strenuous activities. Many of these short-snouted breeds (often called brachycephalic breeds) cannot even handle relatively short walks or moderately-high outside temperatures. Prevention of BOAS must occur at the breeding stage by only choosing dogs that do not show signs of BOAS as breeding partners.

Bladder Stones

Bladder or urine stones are concentrated, crystallized minerals that build up in a dog’s urine. The amino acid cystine is a common culprit in developing bladder stones. Bladder stones can be extremely painful and impair the dog’s urinary function. In fact, changes in urinary behavior is usually the first sign a dog owner will observe in this disease process. However, bladder stones are often only found after the dog receives a radiograph for another reason. While they can affect any dog, there are certain dog breeds that tend to display genetic markers predisposing them to the development of bladder stones, including Dalmations, Newfoundlands, Bichon Frise, Miniature Schnauzers, Labrador Retrievers, Australian Cattle Dogs, Miniature Pinschers, Mastiffs, American Pit Bull Terriers, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Rottweilers, Dachshunds, and Scottish Terriers, among others.

Inherited Cancers

Many cancers that affect dogs have a definite genetic link. While this post is not long enough to delve into all the different types of canine cancers that are connected to their genes, some of the most common types include:

  • Lymphoma
  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Mast cell tumor
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Malignant melanoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Mammary tumors
  • Transitional cell carcinoma
  • Histiocytic sarcoma

Heart Disease

Heart disease in dogs can be brought on by both genetic and environmental factors. Congenital issues (those present at birth) usually cause physical alterations that impair cardiovascular function, while inherited issues (those programmed in the dog’s DNA) may not be obvious at birth and delay development until adulthood. Genetic issues that lead to heart disease are often observed in certain breed lines and are more prominent in purebred dogs.

There are many conditions in dogs with potential genetic roots that can ultimately lead to heart disease, including:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Endocardiosis (especially of the mitral valve)
  • Myxomatous valve disease
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC)
  • Subvalvular aortic stenosis
  • Pulmonic stenosis
  • Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Degenerative myelopathy is a devastating condition with no cure. In this disease process, nerve fibers and their protective coverings in the dog’s spinal cord begin to deteriorate. Disease progression is typically slow as the dog becomes unstable on their feet, unable to control its hind legs, and eventually has an inability to stand and paralysis. Comfort measures are the only treatment for this debilitating condition, although early identification with genetic testing and therapy has been shown to slow DM’s progression. German Shepherds and Shepherd mixes, Siberian Huskies, and Collies are by far the most common breeds found with DM, but other breeds can also be diagnosed with DM.

Have Questions About Your Dog’s Genetics?

Is your dog’s breed genetically predisposed to disease? Schedule an appointment here at Affordable Pet Hospital in Tampa to get the answers you need about your dog’s health issues from Dr. Morris and her knowledgeable staff. Armed with the best and most recent information, you can help your dog live their very best life for years to come!

How to Tell if Your Dog Needs Behavior Medication

Dealing with a dog can be difficult for anyone, but raising a dog with a behavior problem is downright exhausting. Just like humans, dogs can have a variety of issues that cause inappropriate or undesired behaviors, such as fear, phobias, cognitive dysfunction, compulsive disorders, and frustration issues.

When people deal with issues like these, they typically defer to their family doctor for guidance and advice. Dogs should be treated the same way. Any of the issues listed above warrant a trip to the vet for some further investigation.

Most dogs are able to overcome behavior issues with competent training and never need to consider medications. However, for a small group of dogs, the intensity of symptoms is so high that their quality of life is sorely affected. For these animals, medication to ease the negative behaviors may be their only hope.

A vet may consider behavior modification medication for your dog if the problematic behaviors:

  • Adversely affect the dog’s quality of life or functioning

If your dog becomes so fearful, aggressive, aroused, etc. that they actually harm themselves or others during the chaos, medication may be called for to bring the dog back down to a manageable level. Dogs that are unable to complete normal daily functions, such as toileting or eating, without extreme fear or anxiety are also prime candidates for behavior medication.

  • Prevent the dog from being able to learn

While hands-on training is the preferred method of correcting problem behaviors, you can’t train a dog that won’t calm down. Medications are sometimes used in the beginning of training plans for dogs that are extremely wound up. These medications are typically tapered off as the dog learns new control skills.

  • Do not match the intensity of the provoking trigger

If the trigger that is provoking the dog’s bad behavior is mild, but the dog’s reaction is intense, there is a disconnect between the two that needs to be resolved. For example, a dog that barks loudly and aggressively at the same person walking by their yard every day could be an unmatched response.

  • Continue on well after the trigger is removed

Even if a dog barks aggressively at the same person every day, they should calm down once that person is out of sight. If your dog continues the undesirable behaviors well after the trigger is gone, you might have a problem.

If your dog is experiencing behavior issues or any of the above apply, it’s time to make an appointment with a vet. If you and your pooch live in Tampa Bay, the animal care experts at Affordable Pet Hospital would be happy to help you figure out how to help ease your dog’s symptoms and eliminate inappropriate behaviors once and for all. Call us at (813) 991-9898 or contact us online to schedule an appointment today!

What to Do When You Can’t Seem to Train Your Dog

Training a dog can be hard, frustrating work. Whether you are training a puppy or an older dog that is a rescue that has never been properly trained, sometimes you need a little help to get your dog to behave correctly. 

There are a lot of different methods for training dogs. Some people use the kennel method, in which the dog is put in their kennel for a time out whenever they do something undesirable. Another method for training your dog involves rewarding them for good behavior with treats. Often, if you work with your dog consistently and not just when they are misbehaving, you will be able to get them to do what you want. Read more

How to Decode Your Dog’s Bad Behavior

Newborn babies cry to communicate their hunger, fear, or discomfort, and our fur babies are no different. Dogs don’t always have perfect behavior, but their bad or destructive behaviors often have a root cause that you can address. Here’s what you need to know to connect with your dog’s needs and stop barking or chewing before it begins.

Constant Barking

Since barking can serve so many different purposes, it must be diagnosed by its function. Alarm barking, for instance, will cause your dog to bark at every single noise and sight, regardless of where you are. This type of barking is often combined with stiffer body language than a dog who is just barking to greet a newcomer. Other dogs bark to get attention, and if it works, they will continue doing so until taught otherwise.

You can try to resolve this type of barking by teaching your dog a routine. Let him bark three or four times, then calmly say “Quiet.” After you clearly say the command, gentle hold your dog’s muzzle closed with your hand a repeat “Quiet.” Release his muzzle, step back, and call him away from the window or door.

If your dog can continue to sit, give him a treat. If he stays beside you and remains quiet for the next few minutes, continue to give him small treats. Repeat the sequence as needed. It might take 20 times for your dog to learn, but eventually that bothersome barking will stop! Read more

How to Keep Your Pet Safe in the Florida Heat

The heat of Florida is great for the beach, but it has serious drawbacks as well – especially when it comes to your friends on four legs. Pets are extremely susceptible to heat-related health problems and illnesses, which makes it your responsibility to take precautionary measures to protect your dog or cat through the hottest months of the year. The following tips will help you and your furry friend enjoy a safe and comfortable summer.

Never Leave Your Dog Alone in the Car

Just like you wouldn’t leave your baby alone in a hot car, you should never leave your dog. A car sitting in the sun acts like a pressure cooker. It can easily become up to 40 degrees warmer than the outside air in mere minutes. Even if you are only running into the gas station for a soda, leaving your dog in the car isn’t safe. Only travel with your dog if you know that he will be able to join you for all of your errands. Read more

What to Do if Your Pet has Seasonal Allergies

Allergies are miserable for humans, but what about for pets? Even dogs and cats are at risk of suffering from seasonal allergies, especially in the fall when allergens are saturating the air. Just like you rely upon a daily antihistamine to survive your worst allergy symptoms, your pet needs appropriate medical care to avoid and prevent the discomfort that develops as a result of seasonal allergies.  

The Tell-Tale Signs of Seasonal Pet Allergies

If you try to identify your pet’s allergies based on common human systems, you won’t have much luck. Rather than the respiratory tract symptoms that humans experience, dogs and cats are prone to skin irritation and inflammation called allergic dermatitis. You’ll notice your pet struggling with very itchy skin; he will start scratching excessively, biting and chewing and certain spots on his body, and even rubbing himself against vertical or horizontal surfaces to try and alleviate the itching. Unfortunately, this itch and scratch cycle causes the skin to become even more inflamed and tender to the touch. Your pet will eventually experience hair loss, scabbing, and open sores on the skin if his allergies are not treated. Read more

Keeping Your Pup Safe During the Dog Days of Summer

These are truly the dog days of summer, especially in Tampa, Florida where it’s common for July and August temperatures to spike above 100 degrees. As much fun as summer can be, it is also a season of extra strain on your dog. Be sure to follow these simple tips to keep your pup safe during the long summer months.

Learn to Recognize Signs of Overheating in Pets

Animals display signs of overheating differently than humans, so you need to become familiar with the symptoms that indicate your dog could be overheated. The most noticeable sign is excessive panting and difficulty breathing. Drooling and mild weakness are also common symptoms. Read more