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Another great article by Michelle Starr.

(Vanessa Van Ryzin, Mindful Motion Photography/Getty Images)
18 DECEMBER 2020

Your dog may be the apple of your eye, but let’s be honest: she is an animal, with her own instincts and idiosyncrasies, and there are going to be times when she makes you want to tear your hair out.

However much you want to, however, new research suggests that you should never yell at or otherwise punish a mischievous mutt.

According to a study released in pre-print last year and now published in PLOS ONE, aversive training such as positive punishment and negative reinforcement can have long-term negative effects on your dog’s mental state.

“Our results show that companion dogs trained with aversive-based methods experienced poorer welfare during training sessions than dogs trained with reward-based methods” the researchers write in their paper.

“Additionally, dogs trained with higher proportions of aversive-based methods experienced poorer welfare outside the training context than dogs trained with reward-based methods. “

This sort of research has been conducted before, and found that aversive training has negative effects, but it’s primarily been on police and laboratory dogs. In addition, the aversive training tends to be shock collar training, which is only one of several tools used.

So, led by biologist Ana Catarina Vieira de Castro of the Universidade do Porto in Portugal, the international team of researchers conducted their new study on companion dogs.

The animals were recruited from a number of training schools in Porto – 42 dogs from three schools that use reward-based training like food treats or play, and 50 dogs from four schools that use aversive-based training, such as yelling, physically manipulating the dog, or leash-jerking. Two of those schools used mild aversive-based training techniques and two were harsher.

Each dog was filmed during the first 15 minutes of three training sessions, and saliva samples were taken to assess stress levels from training – three from each dog relaxing at home to establish baseline levels of stress hormone cortisol, and three from each dog after training.

The researchers also analysed the dogs’ behaviour during training to look for stress behaviours, such as yawning, lip-licking, paw-raising and yelping.

Unsurprisingly, the dogs in the aversive training classes showed elevated stress behaviours, particularly yawning and lip-licking. Their saliva also had significantly increased levels of cortisol compared to when they were relaxing at home.

By contrast, the positive reinforcement dogs were pretty chill – far fewer stress behaviours, and much more normal cortisol levels.

The next step was to assess the longer term effects of this stress. A month after the dogs were assessed at training, 79 of them were then trained to associate a bowl on one side of a room with a sausage snack. If the bowl was on that side, it always held a delicious treat; if located on the other side, the bowl never had the treat. (All bowls were rubbed with sausage to ensure the smell didn’t give the game away.)

Then, the researchers moved the bowls around the room to ambiguous locations to see how quickly the dogs would approach in search of the treat. Higher speed was interpreted to mean the dog was anticipating a mouthful of deliciousness, whereas a slower speed meant the dog was more pessimistic about the bowl’s contents.

Sure enough, the more aversive training a dog had received, the more slowly it approached the bowl. Interestingly, dogs from the reward-based training group actually learnt the bowl location task faster than the aversive-training dogs.

This suggests that reward-based training may actually be more effective, although the researchers suggest this may be because the dogs already understand treat-based training methods. It’s possible that the other group would learn more quickly were an aversive method applied – more research needs to be done to determine this.

Overall, though, the results seem to imply that aversive training doesn’t necessarily have an edge over reward training, and that reward training is much better for your dog’s happiness.

“Critically,” the researchers said, “our study points to the fact that the welfare of companion dogs trained with aversive-based methods is at risk, especially if these are used in high proportions.”

The research has been published in PLOS ONE.

Dangerous Human Foods That Your Dog Shouldn’t Eat – Toxic And Safe Foods For Canines.

Whether you have an indoor or outdoor dog, you can be sure he or she wants to eat what’s on your table. Although I support dogs eating dog food, sometimes some human food is allowed. However, if you don’t want to hurt your four-legged house friend, you might want to be aware of what can and can’t be given.

Some human foods are toxic to dogs. Some of them are okay, but only in moderation. And some can be given completely safely. There are also misconceptions about the topic that are worth clarifying. I will cover all three in this article.

foods dogs can't eat infographic

Dangerous And Toxic Foods For Dogs

beautiful dog

It is better not to give your canine the ones listed below. All of them are dangerous, some can even be fatal. You probably already knew about some, but I tried to gather them all.


Alcohol has a similar effect on dogs as it does on humans. However, dogs tend to tolerate it much worse, for example, because of their size. Under no circumstances should you give your dog alcohol. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, problems with coordination, breathing problems, and coma.


It’s not as dangerous as macadamia nuts, but be careful with almonds too. If not chewed properly, they can block your dog’s esophagus or the windpipe. The salted version is even worse because of the salt content.


For many animals, avocados are extremely dangerous. It is most dangerous for birds, and cause death quite often. Dogs tolerate it a little better, but it is not recommended to give it to them either. The problem is caused by persin, which causes vomiting and diarrhea even in small amounts. The avocado’s pit is full of persin, and it’s a choking hazard. Call your veterinarian immediately if your dog has swallowed it.

Cat Food

The composition of cat food is completely different from that of dog food. If your dog consumes it regularly, he may have health problems.


Perhaps this is the best known of the list. Theobromine (methylxanthine) and caffeine in chocolate do not have a good effect on the nervous system and heart rate. Of these two substances, if dogs eat a lot, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, increased urination, tremors, increased heart rate, seizures, and death. The more cocoa the chocolate contains, the more dangerous it is for your puppy. In this article, I covered this topic more detailed.


While cinnamon is not toxic for dogs, you better omit it from your puppy’s diet. It can irritate the inside of dogs’ mouths so they won’t be able to chew comfortably. It can also lower dogs’ blood sugar too much, which can also cause health problems.

Coffee And Other Caffeinated Beverages

As I mentioned above, caffeine is not good for your dog. It can cause hyperactivity, vomiting, high heart rate and blood pressure, other seizures, and even death.

Cooked Bones

It is worth giving dogs a bone. It is healthy in many ways. It keeps their teeth clean and they get a lot of nutrients from it. However, never give your dog boiled bones. It can be dangerous because it breaks and splinters into small, sharp pieces. It can cut your friend’s mouth or stomach. In addition, it can cause many more health problems. Examples include choking, vomiting, broken teeth.

Corn With The Cob

Corn alone is not dangerous to dogs. However, if you give your dog it along with the cob, that can cause a problem. The danger of suffocation and intestinal obstruction awaits your puppy.

Dairy Products

Some dogs are lactose-intolerant. Listen to the signs, and if that proves to be the case, you should rather not give your puppy dairy products. Lactose can cause diarrhea and other indigestion in susceptible dogs.

Fat Trimming

Although you may think your dog deserves it, do not give him fat trimmings from leftovers. Fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis.


Garlic, onions, chives, and leeks are part of the Allium family. However, garlic is five times more toxic than the others I mentioned. It can cause anemia by killing dogs’ red blood cells. A very small amount shouldn’t be a problem. However, pay attention to your dog if he accidentally ate food that contained garlic.


Grapes are extremely toxic to dogs. Even a very small amount can harm them. It can cause kidney failure, so by no means give your puppy grapes. Of course, the same goes for raisins. Other symptoms that grapes can cause: vomiting, depression, low energy.


Although alcohol has already been discussed and hops are almost exclusively in beer, it is worth mentioning. Hops can cause vomiting, increased heart rate, fever, and even death.

Human Vitamins And Medicines

It is no coincidence that there is a separate version of these for dogs. Never give your own supplements or medicine to your dogs. Human supplements can contain amounts of vitamins and minerals that can even lead to an overdose in dogs. Prenatal vitamins, for example, contain dangerous amounts of iron for dogs. Products containing acetaminophen or ibuprofen can also be extremely dangerous for dogs.


Giving your dog a liver can be a smart idea. It contains many useful nutrients. However, it contains a lot of vitamin A, which in large amounts is not good for your puppy.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are also dangerous. Already a few pieces of it can make your dog sick. Watch for these symptoms: muscle shakes, vomiting, increased temperature, and weak back legs. If your dog eats chocolate that contains macadamia nuts, the situation can be even worse.


My view is that this should not even be an issue. Do not give marijuana to your dog. There is not so much research on the subject. But experience has shown that dogs respond worse to this drug than humans. The most common symptoms are slow response times, dribbling urine, heart rate change, neurological stimulation, hyperactivity, coma, and even death.

Onion, Chives, And Leeks

Although they are not as toxic as garlic, it is better not to give them to your dog. They are dangerous to your little friend in every form.


In general, colored peppers are edible for dogs. However, strong versions should be avoided, as should black pepper. Dogs are much less tolerant of these than humans.

Peach, Persimmon And Plum

You also need to pay attention to the quantity of these fruits. If your dog eats a lot of them, that can cause problems in his small intestine. And let’s not forget that peach and plum pits are not only choking hazards but also contain cyanide.

Raw Meat And Fish

Raw meat and fish can contain bacteria that cause food poisoning. And some fish (especially salmon) may be full of parasites that can cause so-called “fish disease” or “salmon poisoning disease”By cooking, however, both fish and meat can be safely given to dogs. However, if you want to give these to your dog raw, make sure you get them from a secure source.

Tomato And Rhubarb Leaves

The edible parts of these plants are not dangerous. However, their green parts contain large amounts of oxalates, which are very toxic to dogs. Oxalates can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, tremors, and bloody urine. Be more careful that if your dog goes to the vegetable garden, he should not eat the tomato along with the green parts.


Too much salt can also be a problem for humans, and this isn’t different for dogs. Moreover, in many cases they are even more sensitive to it. Too much salt can cause sodium ion poisoning, which can have several serious symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, increased temperature, seizures, and even death.


Too much sugar can lead to dental issues, obesity and even diabetes. Always check the ingredients when you give something to your dog.


This sugar alcohol is found in a lot of sweets. You’re best off not giving your dog anything sweet at all. Or if you do, make sure this substance definitely not in that food. Xylitol is very poisonous for dogs. It can cause blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, and even death.


Yeast is not good for dogs for two reasons. On the one hand, it can cause digestive problems in the dog’s belly. It can cause a lot of pain or gas. On the other hand, yeast forms alcohol in the stomach due to fermentation, which in turn can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Safe Food For Dogs From The Table

dog eating from table

Of course, there is a lot of human food that can be safely given to dogs. Since there are far more of these than of the dangerous ones, I won’t list them all, but I’ve gathered quite a few.

Lean Meat

If you remove bone and excess fat from meat, there can be no problem. This also includes too thick fatty skin.


Eggs are a great source of protein and contain many valuable nutrients and vitamins for your dog. However, be careful not to serve it raw. This will prevent salmonella infection. Leave the seasoning as well.


You can safely give most of your fruit to your dog. Examples of such fruits are:

  • bananas
  • apple slices
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • watermelon
  • cantaloupe
  • cranberries
  • mangoes
  • oranges
  • peaches
  • pears
  • pineapples
  • raspberries

If possible, give these to your dog without seeds. This will prevent suffocation or various stomach problems.


Vegetables are very healthy, even for your canine friend. They can even be used as a treat. The following vegetables are safe for dogs:

  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • carrots
  • celery
  • cucumber
  • green beans
  • peas
  • cooked potatoes
  • spinach
  • sweet potatoes

White Rice

Cooked rice is recommended by many people for dogs who have stomach problems. It solidifies the stool and, along with cooked chicken, feeds the dog properly.


Quinoa is an important ingredient in a lot of dog food. It can be a great alternative to rice, corn, wheat, and soy.

Foods That You Can Give Your Dog In Moderation

There are foods that don’t cause a problem for your puppy, but you still need to pay attention to the quantity.

Cashews And Peanuts

Dogs can eat cashews and peanuts. These are great sources of calcium, magnesium, antioxidants, and protein. However, they are high in calories and fat, so large amounts of them can cause obesity and other problems.


The lauric acid in it helps fight bacteria and viruses. It also helps with various skin conditions and bad breath. Do not give the furry outside of the shell to your dog.


Ham is not the healthiest food, but it is edible for dogs. Although it should not be a regular meal due to the salt it contains.

Misconceptions About Giving Human Foods For Dogs

The internet can be extremely useful as a lot of information is available. However, there are many misconceptions and it is worth separating them from the facts.

Of course, there are also a few misconceptions about the topic of this article. The following foods are rumored to not be given to dogs. However, this is not necessarily true.

Apple Cores And Seeds

Of course, none of us would give our dogs these separately. However, you don’t even have to cut it from the apple.

dog apple

Yes, apple seeds contain cyanide. Virtually every plant contains toxins at some level. If these are below a certain level, your dog will have nothing wrong with it. A medium-sized dog would have to eat about 85 grams of apple seeds completely chewed to make it toxic to him or her.

This means a lot of apples that your dog will definitely not eat at once. Also, if your dog’s liver is working well, the toxins will not accumulate. Apples can be safely eaten with kernels and seeds.


Surely everyone has heard this “fact” that dogs should not be fed pork. This is usually justified by the following: porks are fatty, eat disgusting things, and contain some mystery component that is toxic for dogs.

Although none of these are really real claims. Pork is less fatty than beefA well-kept pig doesn’t necessarily eat disgusting things. Or if so, why do we humans eat?

There is nothing in the pork that would have any negative effect on our puppy. There is little chance our dog will be allergic to it.

Plenty of manufacturers put pork in their dog food, which could not happen if pork really had a negative effect.


Of course, many dogs are allergic or sensitive to grains. As sometimes this can happen with meat too. The truth is, your dog can safely eat wheat, corn, soy if it doesn’t cause a problem.


dog eating vegetable

Although I tried to include everything in the lists, I may have missed something. It is best to do your own research on the topic as well. Or the other one I emphasize every time: Talk to your vet!

The metabolism of animals can be very different from that of humans. That’s why it’s not worth risking just because your puppy looks nice on you. We save the health of our dogs by paying attention to them and giving them what does best for them.

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Another Great Article by Peter Laskay.

I honestly admit, a few years ago I had no idea that CBD existed. I mean, sure, they taught me in school what chemicals are in marijuana besides THC. But that somehow didn’t stay in my head. Then I came across CBD products. I tried it personally and I really liked the effect. Only later did I find out that CBD products were made for animals too. I guess I’m not alone in wanting the best for my pets. So I went over the topic a little bit.

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol (known as CBD) is a compound found in cannabis and hemp. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it’s nonpsychoactive. You or your pet won’t get high. It’s important to mention, most CBD products are derived from hemp and not from marijuana. This compound is under continuous testing and research. But already, some studies have proven that it may be helpful with some conditions. Anxiety, pain, cancer, and arthritis, these are examples where CBD has been useful.

CBD For Animals?

We need to understand that for the time being, these are little results in deciding how effective and safe CBD is. It is also important to mention that most of the researches discussed above were conducted in humans. There are no CBD products approved by the FDA for use in animals. For now, we can mostly rely on the experience of the owners. However, in many cases, they are linked to human cases.

Health Benefits?

cbd dog

Human studies have shown that CBD helps with the following diseases. Let’s see what about pets!


Arthritis is the abbreviation for osteoarthritis. This is one of the most common inflammatory conditions in dogs. One in four dogs has arthritis at least once in their life. And many more of them have some degree of this disease. Research has shown that CBD can reduce pain in dogs with arthritis. You should give your dog CBD twice a day at the right dose.


As with arthritic complaints, we can treat our dogs with CBD for other inflammatory pains. Human experiments have proven that products containing both CBD and THC are more beneficial for pain relief than when either is given alone. But as I will mention below, it is not advisable to give THC to dogs.


Most CBD research in humans is on seizures. Unfortunately, limited research exists for pets. Nonetheless, there are correlations. Especially in epileptic seizures, CBD has been found to be useful in dogs. However, these benefits were noticeable when dogs were given traditional anti-seizure medications.


Like seizures, there are many types of cancer with different treatments. There are also CBD researches to treat cancer directly and alleviate secondary symptoms of cancer and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, little research has been done on dogs, but it seems promising. However, chemotherapy-induced nausea was reduced in CBD rats. This gives us reason to trust that the results will be the same with dogs.


The most commonly reported effect of CBD is to reduce anxiety. Unfortunately, the situation is not too bright here for dogs. There is no evidence that CBD would help them in this case. More research is needed.


Other inflammatory diseases, aggressive behavior and loss of appetite. These are just a few examples of where CBD can still be effective.

Is It Safe?

When it comes to THC, the answer is clear. It does not have the same effect on pets as humans and can be dangerous to them. But what about CBD? Is it better? Probably yes.

According to a 2017 World Health Organization (WHO) report, it’s safe and well-tolerated by animals. Vets, on the other hand, agree that CBD should not be given to a pet who has liver problems. The situation is similar when an animal is taking a medicine that’s metabolized by the liver.

Side Effects?

There is no scientific data on the side effects of CBD on animals. Still, we can infer from examining side effects in humans. These side effects are dry mouth, lowered blood pressure, and drowsiness. Always adhere to the recommended dose and, if possible, start with a smaller amount and increase gradually.

What To Look For?

Alright. You know the potential advantages and disadvantages. Then you decide if you want to give CBD to your dog. Here are some things to keep in mind:


Chances are you will buy CBD online. Remember, on the internet, they want to sell you a lot of things. Don’t fall for the marketing stuff. Look for online reviews. It’s not a bad idea to start with negative reviews. Check the company. How long have they been in business? Have they been sued? Do they work with veterinarians?

Keep Locked

If your dog accidentally comes across an unlocked CBD box, rest assured he won’t eat the prescribed daily amount of it. To keep your dog safe, be sure that you keep any CBD products out of your dog’s reach. Also, do not keep it together with other treats.

Always Choose High-Quality Products

The price of the product should not be the deciding factor in your choice. Higher prices usually mean higher quality. Look for organic, so it’s less likely to have pesticides, fungicides, or solvents. Make sure it is free of additives.

The manufacturer also should provide the documents that tell you the amount of CBD in the product. You also need to make sure there is no THC in the product.

Best Ways

CBD products come in many forms. Treats, oils, creams, like human products, there is a wide selection here too. There is some evidence that the oil form was more effective than the others. Dosing is also much easier with this form.


According to one study, the most effective dose with arthritis was 2 mg per kg of weight. However, be skeptical and do not take it as a basic recommendation. Each dog will react a little differently. Most products will offer dosing suggestions. But keep in mind that these are only the manufacturers’ recommendations. Since CBD isn’t regulated, no one will be able to say for sure how safe or effective it is.

The best thing you can do is start with the smallest amount possible. Then increase the dose gradually. Pay close attention to your dog’s reaction. This will help prevent possible overdose reactions.

Always Talk To Your Vet

Last but not least, it is very important to talk to your veterinarian. He will know your dog’s medical history and breed information. He may not recommend giving CBD to your dog. I’m not saying you have to listen to him in this case. But at least you played a sure game and talked to a professional about the problem.


As you can see, it is very difficult to give clear advice on CBD. It is a very little researched product, especially for dogs. This is likely to change in the future, as demand for it is already high. Personally, I may be going to give it a try in the future. At least if my dog ​​is going to suffer from any of the problems discussed above.

Another great article by Shana Whitmarsh.


Dogs are beloved family-members in about 85 million U.S. homes. According to Zillow’s 2018 Consumer Housing Trends Report, 30% of renters have dogs. However, the Insurance Information Institute’s 2018 Insurance Pulse Survey found that only 46% of renters in the U.S. have renters insurance.

Find the best renters insurance rate

Renters have an additional responsibility to make sure they are covered in the event of an accident or dog bite in their homes because they’re living in dwellings they don’t own. Simply put, if you’re renting, you should research the coverages and limits in your renters insurance policy to make sure you have adequate pet liability coverage for your dog breed and living situation.

If you have a renters insurance policy, it may already include some protections for pets such as liability coverage, which pays medical expenses and covers your legal costs up to the limit of your policy in the event that your dog bites someone. If your dog bites another dog, your liability coverage may also pay the vet expenses for the other dog. Your renters insurance liability coverage won’t protect you if your dog damages personal property that you own. However, some renters insurance policies include coverage for expensive personal property, such as expensive pet accessories, so if your pets’ designer dog dish is stolen or damaged, it may be covered.

What is the difference between pet insurance and renters insurance?

Renters who are dog owners should consider having a pet health insurance policy and a renters insurance policy with pet liability coverages because they serve different yet important purposes.

Pet insurance – Pet insurance plans help you pay for unexpected pet healthcare expenses, and, depending upon the coverage options you choose, it can also pay for pet wellness expenses.

Renters insurance  Renters insurance with pet liability coverage can  protect you from being personally liable for accidents and damages or personal injury caused by your pets.

How can renters insurance protect you and your pet?

A renters insurance policy pays for damages to your rented home and other people and their possessions when you or your pet are at fault. It also pays medical expenses when a guest is injured in your home, and it pays for extra living expenses if you can’t live in your home after a fire, flood, storm or other disaster. Some policies include liability coverage for injury and damages caused by you or your pet to other people outside your home.

An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the Insurance Information Institute found that there were 17,297 dog bite claims in the U.S. in 2018, and the average cost per claim was $39,017. Because over half of dog bite injuries occur in situations where the pet is familiar to the people it comes into contact with, it’s no wonder many landlords prefer renters to have a renters insurance policy. With policies starting at about $15 per month or $188 per year, having a renters insurance policy with pet liability coverage makes good financial sense. It could protect you from a possible lawsuit in the event of an accident or injury where you or your pet are at fault.

If you have a renters insurance policy that includes liability or damages coverages for your pets, it’s a good idea to check for coverage limits under certain conditions, such as whether an incident occurs in your rented home or outside it.  You should have enough coverage on your renters policy to cover your personal possessions if they are lost, damaged or stolen and to protect you from being sued in the event that your pet injures someone or causes property damage. Your landlord may require that you purchase a renters policy as a condition of your lease or rental agreement.

Cost of renters insurance

The average cost of renters insurance is $185 per year or as little as $15 per month, but in the event of an accident or disaster, the benefits can save you thousands of dollars in damages. Considering that the average cost of a dog bite claim is almost $40,000 and about 1 in 5 people who are bitten by dogs require medical attention, it pays to have a renters policy with pet liability coverage if your dog causes damages or bites someone.

Because your renters policy won’t cover your pet’s healthcare costs, you should also consider getting a pet insurance policy. The average annual cost of pet insurance in 2017 was $516, and pet insurance for dogs costs more than for cats. Costs vary by type of animal.

There are different plans available with most falling into three categories: basic plans, comprehensive plans and pet wellness plans. Most basic plans cover vet procedures and treatment for accidents and illness such as cancer. Most of the basic plans reimburse for covered vet expenses, and many of them have caps on total reimbursements for a policy term. Comprehensive plans have more expensive premiums, but they include coverage for X-rays, prescriptions, office visits and lab fees, often with a lower deductible. Pet wellness plans reimburse for pet physicals, vaccinations and heartworm treatments.

If you have an expensive show dog, you may want to consider getting theft and life insurance policies for them so that you’re reimbursed if they’re stolen or they die in transport to an event. As a general rule, most pet insurance policies will cost less when your dog is young and the price will go up as he or she ages.

Make sure you and your pet are covered

If you have a renters policy with pet coverages, it pays to read the fine-print to see exactly what’s covered. You may decide to add additional pet insurance to your policy or to purchase a separate pet liability policy if your policy doesn’t cover everything you want it to. 

Some policies only cover accidents and damages that happen in your rented home, not outside it. Others won’t cover dog bites, or they won’t cover dog breeds on their “bad breed list.” If your coverage is too limited, it may make sense to switch insurance companies or purchase an umbrella policy for additional liability coverage. Some insurance companies won’t sell you an umbrella policy if your dog is on the “bad breed list,” but some insurance companies have recently begun to offer canine liability policies to insure any dog breed.

Regardless of the type of policy you purchase, you can expect a waiting period of up to 48 hours for accidents and two weeks for some conditions to up to a year for others. Don’t wait until after something happens to purchase a policy.

What won’t renters insurance cover for pets?

The pet damages and liability coverages in your renters policy may not cover you for certain incidents or your dog breed may be denied, depending upon the state and the insurance company. Your renters policy liability limits may be significantly reduced or not applicable at all if you have one of the dog breeds on a banned breed list. You may want to purchase a personal umbrella policy or pet liability insurance for extra coverage. 

Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP): Umbrella policies are designed to provide liability coverage for you and your dog where your regular policy won’t or when your renter’s policy limits are exhausted. A personal umbrella policy gives you coverage above and beyond your renters policy, such as if your dog bites someone outside your home.

Pet liability insurance: If you have a rottweiler or other breed that’s considered difficult to insure, you may need to purchase pet liability insurance instead of an umbrella policy. A pet liability insurance policy gives you additional liability coverage that your renters insurance may not include, such as coverage for dogs with a history of aggression, off-duty police dogs or extended off-premises coverage.

Why are some dogs considered more of a risk to insurance companies than others? If your dog has bitten someone, it is considered by insurers to be more of a risk than if it hadn’t, regardless of the breed. Other dogs, even if they haven’t bitten anyone, are thought of as dangerous if they are certain breed types.

These dog breeds usually come from a list from a study commissioned by the U.S. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in 2000, which focused on dog bites that caused death. The study lasted for 19 years and found that there were about 12 dog bite fatalities per year in that period and most of the bites came from pit bulls, rottweilers and mixed breed combinations of those breeds.

Here are all the breeds on the study list, plus a few more that we found from different lists from insurance companies:

  • Pit Bull
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Rottweiler
  • Chow Chow
  • Great Dane
  • Perro de Presa Canario
  • Akita
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • German Shepherd
  • Siberian Husky
  • Wolf Hybrid
  • Saint Bernard

Bottom line

With dogs being such popular pets in the U.S., it’s not a surprise that dogs can sometimes be a liability. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have adequate pet damages and liability coverages if you’re renting your home.

If you are looking to cover your pet’s health and medical costs, buy a pet insurance policy in addition to your renters policy, which you should review to ensure that you are properly covered for pet-related damages and liability. If you have a “dangerous” dog breed, consider getting an umbrella policy to cover the gaps in your renter’s policy or a pet liability policy. With the right coverage in place, if something happens later, you’ll be glad you did your homework.

Another great article by

Liver Disease in Dogs: Causes, Complications and Treatments 1

Owning a dog with liver disease can be challenging. I know this for certain because my dog, Joey, a 13-year-old shih tzu, was diagnosed with a rare  form of liver disease about three years ago. In his case, we found the problem quite by accident. During an exam for an unrelated issue, my vet found lesions on Joeys spleen, which subsequently had to be removed. During that operation, the vet noticed that Joey’s liver looked “odd.” He took a biopsy, which came back positive for copper storage disease.

Liver Disease in Dogs: Causes, Complications and Treatments 2
My dog Joey, who, at 13,  is still happy and doing well despite having liver disease. 

That said, my and Joey’s situation was definitely atypical. Most cases of liver disease in dogs are diagnosed after symptoms appear. And since many of those symptoms are subtle, the dog may have advanced liver disease before a diagnosis is made. That’s why it’s so important for dog owners to know if their dog is at risk for liver problems and to be vigilant about spotting the signs.

Signs of Liver Disease in Dogs

The liver is a complex organ that performs many vital functions. So when it isn’t working properly, your dog may develop a variety of symptoms ranging from minor to very severe. Depending on the underlying cause (I’ll talk more about those later) they may come on suddenly or develop slowly over time.

Since there are many symptoms of liver disease, it can be helpful to look at them in the context of the functions the liver normally performs.

No. 1. Gastrointestinal Symptoms

The liver produces bile acids, which are necessary for the digestion of food, particularly fat. If this function is compromised by liver disease, your dog may have a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms. According to PetMD, these include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive thirst

Liver Disease in Dogs: Causes, Complications and Treatments 3
A poor appetite, tiredness and vomiting and/or diarrhea may be the first sign that your dog has liver disease. 

No. 2 Jaundice

The liver is also responsible for the excretion of bilirubin — a normal by-product of the breakdown of red blood cells. If the liver isn’t working properly, this yellow-tinged pigment accumulates in the body, which can give the whites of the eyes, the gums and other mucus membranes a yellow tinge. This is known as jaundice.

Excess bilirubin may also turn your dog’s urine very dark.

No. 3 Abnormal Bleeding

Another function of the liver is to produce proteins that help the blood to clot. If these proteins aren’t present in sufficient numbers, bleeding can occur. According to PetMD, signs of abnormal bleeding include:

  • Very dark stools
  • Red blood in the stool
  • Blood in the urine
  • Vomiting blood
  • Bleeding gums
  • Sudden bruising

No. 4. Ascites

Ascites is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity. In liver disease, ascites is typically caused by a combination of abnormalities, including increased blood pressure within the liver itself and low levels of certain proteins. Dogs with ascites usually have a large, firm, distended abdomen, which may even interfere with breathing if it’s severe.

No 5. Neurological Problems

The liver is responsible for detoxifying the blood and preventing a variety of harmful substances from reaching other organs of the body. When this function is compromised, a condition known as hepatic encephalopathy (HE) may occur. Although the underlying mechanism isn’t well understood, the syndrome is probably related at least in part to the accumulation of ammonia — a byproduct of protein metabolism — in the blood. The symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy can be mild or severe, and include:

  • Mental dullness, failure to follow commands
  • Lethargy, fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Abnormal gait
  • Personality changes
  • Disorientation
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Seizures
  • Coma

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A dog with hepatic encephalopathy may appear confused, wary or aggressive. 

No. 6. Infections

The liver plays an important role in a dog’s immune system, so dogs with liver disease can get serious bacterial infections quite easily. Signs of infection may be difficult to detect in a dog who is already ill, but may include:

  • Fever
  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excess tiredness

Causes and Risk Factors

Any dog can develop liver disease. However, certain factors may put your dog at increased risk.  These can be congenital (the dog is born with the problem) acquired (for example, an infection or exposure to a toxin) or related to another disease. Let’s take a look at each of these categories one by one.

Congenital and Hereditary Factors

Congenital liver problems are usually referred to as “inborn.” That is, the dog is born with a defect  that causes problems to develop, either early on or later in their lives. Additionally, some hereditary factors predispose certain breeds of dog to liver disease.

Here’s a rundown on a few of the most common congenital and hereditary issues you may encounter in your dog.

Congenital Portosystemic Shunt

The most common liver issue in young dogs is a congenital defect known as a portosystemic shunt. According to the Merck Manual of Veterinary Medicine, a healthy dog’s liver filters blood coming from the intestines, which prevents toxins and other harmful substances from entering the bloodstream. But in dogs with a portosystemic shunt, blood bypasses the liver via one or more abnormal blood vessels, sending unfiltered blood throughout the body. This results in a variety of symptoms, such as stunted growth and neurologic problems, including disorientation and seizures. In advanced cases, the dog may also develop ascites.

Congenital portosystemic shunt is not hereditary. But it is more common in certain breeds of dog. These include:

Liver Disease in Dogs: Causes, Complications and Treatments 5
German shepherd puppies may have a congenital liver defect known as a portosystemic shunt. 

Copper-associated hepatopathy (Copper storage disease)

Generally an inherited condition, copper storage disease occurs when abnormal amounts of copper accumulate in the liver, causing chronic hepatitis (inflammation) and cirrhosis (scarring). My experience notwithstanding, it is seen most often in specific dog breeds, including Bedlington terriers, West Highland white terriers, Sky terriers, Dalmatians and Doberman pinschers.

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Bedlington Terriers are genetically prone to copper storage disease, as are West Highland White Terriers and several other dog breeds. 

Amyloid is a stiff, fibrous protein that can accumulate in various organs and tissues, a condition called amyloidosis. When amyloidosis affects the liver, enlargement of the liver, high liver enzymes, liver failure and/or liver rupture may occur. The disease is often familial and  is seen most often in beagles, foxhounds and Chinese shar peis, says PetMD.

Infections and Toxins

Filtering the blood of toxins and other harmful substances is one of the liver’s most important jobs. To facilitate this, the organ has a rich blood supply. And while that is physiologically beneficial, it also means that anything and everything that enters a dog’s bloodstream goes through the liver, often in an unaltered state.


A number of medications have the potential to cause liver damage, even those prescribed by your veterinarian. Some of the most common culprits are drugs in the class known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS, which are often prescribed for joint pain. Although generally safe at prescribed doses, these drugs may be harmful to the liver, especially in dogs with pre-existing liver disease, explains the FDA. If you are giving your dog NSAIDs, watch her carefully for any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above. If any of them occur, stop giving the medication, and call your vet.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is another drug that can cause liver damage in your dog. This is typically a dose-dependent reaction, meaning the more of the drug the dog ingests, the more likely liver damage will occur. However, small or young dogs can develop acetaminophen toxicity from a single, relatively small dose, according to Dr. Colleen M. Almgren, DVM, PhD. To keep your dog safe, never give her Tylenol or any drug not prescribed by your vet, and keep all medicines in a safe, secure place.

Poisons and Toxins

There are many natural and man-made substances in the environment that can damage a dog’s liver. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual. some of the most commonly encountered environmental toxins that have the potential to cause liver damage include:

  • Heavy metals, such as lead, mercury and cadmium
  • Herbicides and fungicides
  • Rat or mouse poison
  • Amanita mushrooms (death cap mushrooms)
  • Cycad plants (Sago palms)
  • Blue-green algae
  • Aflatoxin, a substance produced by mold

If you suspect your dog has ingested a toxin of any kind, call your veterinarian at once. If your vet can’t be reached immediately, call your local poison control center or the Pet Poison Helpline any time day or night at 800-213-6680.

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Amanita phalloides, or death cap mushrooms, are highly toxic to dogs


Almost any type of organism can take up residence in the liver, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. The most common infections that may cause lasting and even life-threatening liver damage are listed below.

  • Infectious canine hepatitis.

Caused by a virus known as adenovirus CAV-1, canine infectious hepatitis starts in the upper respiratory tract and makes its way to the liver via the blood, says PetMD. Once there, it replicates and begins to damage liver cells.

Most dogs who become infected with canine infectious hepatitis mount an immune response to the virus and improve in several weeks. However, some dogs will develop chronic inflammation and scarring of the liver, which can have more serious consequences. They may also experience damage to the kidneys and the eyes.

Fortunately, canine infectious hepatitis is preventable with a vaccine.

  • Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused by the organism Leptospira interrogans. Dogs often contract the infection by drinking water from contaminated sources, according to PetMD. The disease is treatable with antibiotics and supportive care. However, permanent liver and kidney damage may occur.

vaccine is available to prevent leptospirosis, but it is not recommended for every dog. Speak with your veterinarian about whether your dog is at risk of contracting the illness and whether or not vaccination is advisable.

  • Histoplasmosis and Coccidioidomycosis

Both histoplasmosis and coccidioidomycosis are fungal infections that can severely damage the livers of dogs. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, symptoms include an enlarged liver and fluid buildup in the abdomen. The dog’s eyes and gums may be also be jaundiced (yellow-tinged.)

Treatment of both infections usually involves a course of antifungal drugs. However, the outlook for recovery from histoplasmosis is poor. Coccidioidomycosis may be treated successfully with very long-term administration of antifungal therapy, but relapse is common. Some dogs must take antifungal medication for life.

  • Toxoplasmosis

Although often associated with cats, toxoplasmosis can infect dogs as well, causing rapid destruction of liver cells. Caused by the parasite toxoplasma gondii, the infection usually affects young dogs or dogs whose immune system is not working well. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea and low energy. Signs of acute liver failure, such as jaundice and ascites, can also occur.

Endocrine Diseases

Some endocrine disorders predispose dogs to developing liver disease. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the most common of these are Cushing disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism. If your vet has diagnosed your dog with any of these disorders, it’s important to be vigilant for any signs of liver disease.

Liver Cancer

Just like their human counterparts, dogs can develop cancer in many organs of the body, including the liver. Primary liver cancers (cancers originating in the liver) are usually hepatocellular carcinoma, a malignant tumor that originates in the tissue that lines the liver, explains PetMD. If the tumor is localized to one lobe of the liver, it can often be surgically removed. Sadly, however, the likelihood that the cancer has spread by the time surgery is performed is quite high, and many dogs succumb to the disease within several months.

Treating Liver Disease: What You Can Do

Obviously, liver disease in dogs is multifaceted problem, and medical treatment will depend on the underlying cause. In some cases, such as that of a young dog with a portosystemic shunt, surgery can correct the defect and your dog can go on to lead a long, healthy life. But for many dogs, inflammation and scarring from the underlying disease process leads to chronic, long term liver dysfunction. These dogs will need ongoing support from you and your vet in order to live their best lives.


Diet is of paramount importance for dogs with liver disease. Whether the illness is acute (short term) or chronic, your dog needs sufficient calories to maintain their weight while the liver tries to repair itself. (Yes, liver cells can regenerate!) This can be challenging, since your dog may have a poor appetite and vomit after he eats. He may also have diarrhea, which means he will have a harder time absorbing the nutrients in his food. Offer him small meals frequently throughout the day, and try hand-feeding him if his dietary intake is poor.

Your veterinarian may recommend a special diet, especially if your dog has hepatic encephalopathy. Most of these “veterinary diets” contain limited amounts of protein in order to minimize the amount of ammonia entering the blood. You should know, however, that limiting protein in the diets of dogs with liver dysfunction is controversial, and may not be appropriate for your dog. According to guidance from U.C. Davis Veterinary School, the need for dietary protein may actually be increased in many dogs with liver disease.

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Eggs may be an option to add an appropriate amount of protein to the diet of a dog with hepatic encephalopathy. 

Switching to a vegetarian diet with eggs and cheese as the primary protein source may be a good option for a dog with HE, since evidence shows that neurological symptoms tend to worsen after a meat-based meal. That said, always speak with your vet before changing your dog’s diet, and consult a pet nutritionist if you need additional guidance about meeting your dog’s nutritional needs.

Diets for Copper Storage Disease

If your dog has copper storage disease, limiting his copper intake can help prevent further liver damage and oxidative stress. This, too, can be challenging, since most commercially prepared dog foods add supplemental copper, and copper is also present in significant amounts in certain dog-food ingredients, such as salmon, lamb, whole grains and legumes. At the same time, currently available commercially prepared veterinary diets for dogs with liver disease contain very little protein, so they may not be the best choice for your dog. To solve this dilemma, I’ve chosen to feed Joey a homemade diet made with low-copper ingredients, limited fat and adequate amounts of protein. But make sure you speak with your vet before taking this route.


Many veterinarians recommend dietary supplements for dogs with liver disease. These include antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C, S-adenosyl-methonine (SAMe) and silymarin (milk thistle.) On the advice of my vet, Joey takes Denamarin, which contains both SAMe and silymarin. He also takes a zinc supplement, which the vet believes may help to reduce the amount of copper in his liver by slowing down copper absorption from his gut. I also give him MCT oil (medium-chain triglycerides), because there is some evidence that it helps to protect the liver from further injury. 

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Silamarin, a supplement that may help dogs with liver disease,  is made from the milk thistle plant.

Rest and Exercise

If your dog has active liver disease, she probably will not have the same amount of energy she had before she was ill. Liver disease in and of itself can cause your dog to be more tired, and poor nutrition due to gastrointestinal symptoms can sap her energy as well. Abdominal distention from ascites may make it harder for your dog to breathe, causing her exercise tolerance to drop. And, of course, if your dog has a fever, she will need more rest.

Pay attention to cues from your dog as to how much exercise she can tolerate at any given time.  If she seems eager to go for a walk, by all means take her, but make it a shorter walk than the walks she took before she became ill. If she seems tired and listless, let her stay indoors except for potty breaks. Joey has good days and bad days, and I’m sure your dog will too.


As you can see from the above, liver disease in dogs is a complex problem with many underlying causes, some of which are easily treatable but many of which are not. Chronic liver problems are common following infections, the ingestion of toxins, or as a result of hereditary defects that doctors don’t fully understand. The important thing for you to remember, however, is that a dog with liver disease can lead a happy, fulfilling life with the right medical care, and lots of love and support from you.