As more and more Americans appreciate the fantastic flavor and health benefits of coconut oil, many more excellent brands show up on store shelves. My favorite happens to be Tropical Traditions because it’s made from certified organic coconuts, which have not been treated with chemicals or fertilizers. Plus, it comes in a generously proportioned glass bottle (which I much prefer to plastic), so I always have enough to share with my beloved five-pack of dogs! Coconut oil for dogs can be used in a variety of ways.

Fed regularly to pets, coconut oil can have many health benefits — for their skin, digestive and immune systems; metabolic function; and even their bone and brain health!

Coconut oil by Shutterstock.

Coconut oil by Shutterstock.

The top 10 reasons to try coconut oil for dogs:

  1. Coconut oil improves overall skin health, and clears up skin conditions such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis, and itchy skin.
  2. Incredibly emollient, coconut oil helps moisturize the driest skin and makes a dog’s coat gleam with health — whether you add it to her diet, her shampoo, or both!
  3. Applied topically to the skin, coconut oil promotes the healing of cuts, wounds, hot spots, bites, and stings.
  4. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconut oil help reduce doggy odor, and its pleasantly tropical aroma imparts a delightful scent to a dog’s skin and coat.
  5. Coconut oil prevents and treats yeast infections, including candida. Its antiviral agents also help dogs recover quickly from kennel cough.
  6. Digestion and nutrient absorption are improved by the addition of coconut oil to a dog’s diet. It can, however, cause stool to loosen; if that happens, just add a few spoonfuls of canned pumpkin to your dog’s diet (go here for more stool-firming tips).
  7. Coconut oil reduces — and sometimes eliminates — doggy breath. Some dog lovers even brush their pets’ teeth with the stuff! Which makes sense, as dogs love the taste of coconut oil, and that makes the chore less arduous for brusher and brushee.
  8. Like cinnamon, coconut oil helps prevent diabetes by regulating and balancing insulin. It also promotes normal thyroid function, and helps prevent infection and heart disease.
  9. Helping to reduce weight and increase energy, coconut oil also promotes mobility in dogs with arthritis and other joint issues.
  10. Again like cinnamon, coconut oil is excellent for brain health; it’s being used to stave off dementia in humans, and it’s a must to keep senior dogs’ minds from becoming cloudy.

What do you think about coconut oil for dogs? Have you used it before? Please share in the comments!

Read related stories on Dogster:

The post Coconut Oil for Dogs? 10 Reasons to Try It appeared first on Dogster.

You’re walking down the street and spy a handsome mid-size dog with a rounded head, pointy ears, and a stocky physique. While these characteristics grab your attention, you’re really intrigued by his unusual marled blue coat. Stopping to inquire about the breed of this attractive dog, you find out he’s an (aptly named) Blue Heeler. If you stayed and chatted for a while, you’d also learn that, though the dog’s owner may be gregarious, the Blue Heeler couldn’t care less that you’re there.

A blue heeler dog.

Look at that gorgeous coat! Blue Heeler by Shutterstock.

Blue Heelers are fiercely independent dogs, who are usually devoted to one person. This characteristic stems from the types of canines Australian George Elliott used to develop the breed in 1840, a mix of native dingos with Collies and other herding dogs. It also comes from their original purpose, which was to herd cattle independent of any instruction from their owners. So, these tough, sturdy, and intelligent dogs with a high work drive (also called Australian Heelers, Queensland Heelers, and Australian Cattle Dogs) are often more comfortable herding the family cat than being adored by a stranger.

But, never fear: Blue Heelers are devoted family dogs who bring joy to everyone in their daily lives. Just be sure to teach the kiddies that this particular breed is not comfortable being hugged or dressed up like a hula girl. Blue Heelers tend to take life seriously and are always on the alert in case they need to perform a task. They are protectors and very good guard dogs, and their sense of self (if dogs have a sense of self) is grounded in their ability to do whatever their owner asks. This makes them very trainable — and training is needed as they will herd everything in sight if not taught differently.

A 10-week-old Blue Heeler by Shutterstock.

Start training your Blue Heeler at an early age. A 10-week-old Blue Heeler by Shutterstock.

If you’re envisioning yourself frolicking in a field with your new Blue Heeler, make it a long frolic. These are very active dogs who need exercise daily. They also need some sort of task to do, whether it’s agility training, guarding the house, or fetching your slippers. If you’re an apartment dweller, don’t give up on having this breed entirely — just know that you’ll need to get this dog outside for long runs and play in an enclosed area like a dog park. Do keep an eye on your pup once there, though, as she can dominate other dogs and get into tiffs.

Be prepared for a long life of love if you do decide a Blue Heeler is for you. This breed lives 15 years on average and is very healthy, with only a few common health issues, including eye problems, hip dysplasia, and deafness. The 35-to-45-pound dog stands 17-to-20-inches tall, a size that attracts both city dwellers and those with a house and yard. His blue-speckled or red-speckled coat with tan markings is very unusual, and the rather noble carriage of his “personage” attracts attention.

A blue heeler dog plays with a snowball.

A blue heeler dog by Shutterstock.

So when you’re walking down the street and just have to meet that marled-blue dog sitting on the coffee shop patio, be forewarned — you may very likely end up with one of your own.

But if a Blue Heeler doesn’t sound like a good fit for your family, you can still enjoy the breed with the fun YouTube videos below of the dogs in action.

A Blue Heeler herds sheep:

The cuteness — Blue Heeler puppies:

A Blue Heeler picks up her toys:

Read more breed profiles on Dogster:

The post Get to Know the Blue Heeler: The Fiercely Independent Charmer appeared first on Dogster.

Mod Dog Series Prints by Eleanor Grosch

You’ve likely seen the bold, colorful designs of Eleanor Grosch before — they’ve graced children’s books, magazines, home decor, Keds, and everything in between (including awesome cycling gear). Now prints from Eleanor’s Mod Dog series are available (to grace the walls of your home!) from AllModern. The digital reproductions (produced in San Diego) are available in varied sizes of wrapped canvas. Check them out over at AllModern.

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© 2017 Dog Milk | Posted by Katherine in For Humans, Other | Permalink | No comments

Custom Embroidered Pet Pillows from Hyla Frank

Folks, I think we’ve found your next “shut up and take my money” purchase! Los Angeles-based Hyla Frank will create hand-embroidered pillows featuring your dog’s adorable mug. Got more than one dog? You can include up to three portraits on a single pillow (or go full “crazy dog person” and get one pillow for every pet in your house)!

Custom Embroidered Pet Pillows from Hyla Frank

Custom Embroidered Pet Pillows from Hyla Frank

Each portrait is embroidered on Belgian linen (available in off-white, white, or taupe) and comes three sizes, complete with a pillow insert. All you need to get started is a favorite photo of your dog! Check out ordering and pricing info on

Custom Embroidered Pet Pillows from Hyla Frank

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© 2017 Dog Milk | Posted by capree in For Humans | Permalink | No comments

What do we mean when we talk about skin tags on dogs? We’re certainly not talking about (nor would we ever advocate) putting a tattoo on your dog, or any other kind of physical graffiti. No, skin tags are growths that appear on the surface of a dog’s skin. Just like humans, as dogs age their skin exhibits the ravages of time, resulting in skin tags and other such growths.

The typical skin tag starts out as a small, fleshy growth, resembling a wart, any place on a dog’s body, but commonly around the face, legs, and belly. Unlike a wart, skin tags on dogs tend not to calcify, but rather remain soft and retain the color of the dog’s skin.

While skin tags and surface growths like lipomas typically consist of excess skin or fatty deposits and are normally self-contained, localized, and harmless, that does not mean they should be ignored or dismissed. Indeed, any suspicious or random growth has a chance of being cancerous.

An older dog with a skin tag. Photo by lizdogvdog on Instagram.

Photo by lizdogvdog on Instagram.

Skin tags on dogs are common with advancing age

As dogs reach middle and senior age, their owners should be paying closer attention, especially during normal grooming and bathing, to the external signs of aging. As long as skin tags are not located in their underarms or around the eyes, where they can irritate or impede a dog’s normal functioning, removal tends to be unnecessary and pursued mainly for aesthetic reasons. The most important thing you can do as a dog owner is to be observant.

If you notice any changes, irritations, or abscesses at or around the site of a skin tag, your dog should see a veterinarian to rule out malignant possibilities. Where skin tags grow out of the surface of the skin and have generally no ill effects, there are a number of other growths that affect dogs as they age.

Lipomas and mast cell tumors, for instance, may resemble skin tags on dogs, but vary in their nature and potential long-term consequences. A quick fine-needle aspiration performed by your veterinarian can tell whether cancerous cells are present, which a biopsy will confirm if true.

An older dog. Photo by fit_princess_12 on Instagram.

Photo by fit_princess_12 on Instagram.

Lipomas and other fatty tumors on dogs

Lipomas are fatty deposits that form just beneath the skin and fur, rather than appearing to grow out of them. Like skin tags on dogs, lipomas tend to stay soft to the touch, and like skin tags, are usually harmless and painless to dogs. That can vary, though, depending on where they form and whether the dog can scratch or bite at them. Lipomas form as the body and its standard filtration systems deteriorate, purging excess toxins through the skin.

The causes of lipomas are varied, but generally contain elements of food preservatives, medications, and other chemicals, such as traces of chlorine found in tap water. As a dog ages, the body’s ability to filter or excrete these unnatural elements in urine, feces, panting, or sweating can decline. This decline is expedited if a dog is obese or has pre-existing issues with the kidneys or pancreas.

An older dog with a gray face. Photo by jmitch907 on Instagram.

Photo by jmitch907 on Instagram.

Foreign chemicals and other such substances are isolated, displaced, and stored by the aging canine body in the form of lipomas. Like skin tags, it is usually unnecessary to have lipomas on dogs removed or treated. Lipomas provide a reliable and otherwise-unavailable service in older dogs, and removing one can lead to others appearing. If a sudden growth appears on or beneath the surface of a dog’s skin, the best thing to do is have it tested by a veterinarian. A confirmation of its nature as a fatty tumor will rule out potential diagnosis of cancer.

Mast cell tumors on dogs

Mast cells are part of the immune system, assisting in defense against allergies and in healing processes. Mast cell tumors in dogs are one reason why any strange or suddenly appearing skin growth should be tested. Mast cell tumors may be mistaken for skin tags and lipomas in dogs. Like skin tags and lipomas, mast cell tumors tend to affect mostly older dogs.

A dog with a skin tag. Photo by gphillips52 on Instagram.

Photo by gphillips52 on Instagram.

Two major differences between lipomas and mast cell tumors are that mast cell tumors can form at any time in a dog’s life and can change size rapidly. Similar to skin tags and lipomas, mast cell tumors can appear anywhere on a dog’s body, but many are found on the lower body, including the genitals, and on the legs.

Another significant difference is that mast cell tumors can be aggressive and spread through the body. Treatments vary depending on the nature of the mast cell tumor and how far it has advanced. Yet another reason to consult a veterinarian at the first sign of a strange growth.

Stay vigilant as your dog ages!

In my research, I’ve come across a number of home remedies and do-it-yourself solutions for removing skin tags on dogs. I’m a researcher, not a veterinary health specialist, and wouldn’t advise or instruct readers to do anything I wouldn’t be comfortable doing myself. Since skin tags can be confused with lipomas and mast cell tumors, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

A dog with skin tags. Photo by jenburnss on Instagram.

Photo by jenburnss on Instagram.

Have you ever dealt with a skin tag or other kinds of lumps on dogs? Have you ever taken it upon yourself to remove skin tags in the comfort of your own home? Have you ever had one removed, only later to find additional skin tags that proved to be cancerous, or to receive a diagnosis different from the varieties discussed above? Share your experiences with skin tags and other lumps on dogs in the comments!

Learn more about dog health with Dogster:

Thumbnail: Boxer by Shutterstock.

The post All About Skin Tags on Dogs (Plus Lipomas and Other Lumps) appeared first on Dogster.

When I moved last year from a large, two-bedroom apartment to a small, two-room one, I had to make some extra accommodations for the comfort of my dogs and cats. In our previous animal house, the flat was divided clean in half, with the north end designated as the dogs’ digs and the south sectioned off for the cats. Only two of my dogs, Sheba and Lazarus, liked cats the right way. Now, with Sheba gone to the bridge, we’re down to just one dog I can trust not to chase or otherwise hassle the cats. Laz doesn’t hassle the cats — really, he just wants to be friends! The cats, however, see his overtures somewhat differently. To them, when sweet Laz starts eagerly sniffing and play-bowing in their direction, it’s not cute — it’s a serious hissing offense. Here’s my advice on how to handle cats and dogs in apartments:

A dog and kitten sleeping and relaxing together.

A dog and kitten. Photography by Shutterstock.

1. Make your cats feel more comfortable with a dog statue

Years ago, I commissioned a bronze bust of my Pit Bull Sam, and this expressive specimen by Philadelphia sculptor Jennifer Weinik occupies pride of place in the “cat wing” of my new place.

The cats sometimes like to assert their authority by walking across the Plexiglas pedestal on which Sam’s likeness sits — but I’m convinced that having such a calm, docile “dog” around the house, albeit an inanimate one, has helped the kitties cope with livewire Laz’s presence.

2. Give your cats space to get away from your dogs

Being arboreal creatures, cats love looking down on everyone from a lofty perch. So I’ve installed several semicircular kitty shelves that a carpenter friend crafted for me. The shelves provide my cats with places to go to get away from the dog, or just take a nap at a higher altitude.

Leaping from shelf to shelf gives them a good workout, plus the shelves are a helpful solution to feeding time issues (such as the dog feeling the need to feed on his cat friends’ food in addition to his own).

3. Designate the cats’ litter boxes as dogs-free zones

In multispecies homes, dogs have a way of viewing the kitty litter box as a cookie jar. To prevent Laz from gaining access to the boxes and snacking on what he shouldn’t, I asked a handyman to cut out a small square near the bottom of the door to my bathroom.

The opening is big enough for a cat, but definitely not for my dog! This allows the cats to enjoy the bathroom as their own private no-canine zone, where they may curl up for a soothing snooze in the sink.

4. Be sensitive when feeding your cats and dogs

In the cats’ presence, I ask Lazarus to comply with being fed in his crate, and he’s very good about doing this. I’ve seen how swiftly and expertly my cats can swat a bite of food clean out of this sweet dog’s mouth! They can even reach a foreleg all the way to the center of his cage, to shovel kibble out of the bowl. Really, these guys should be auditioning for National Geographic.

So I supervise the crate-feeding by standing by until Laz is finished eating — and when the kibble is in the other bowl, I make sure Laz is either in the other room with his dog friends or in his crate until the cats are done noshing.

5. Have enough beds for your cats and dogs

The felines have unanimously voted with their paws as to their favorite place to take a cat-nap: On Laz’s Crypton bed. (Perhaps it’s retribution for Laz stealing their catnip toys twice too many times?) I’ve since acquired an identical extra dog bed so everyone in my furry family has a nice, comfy sleeping spot. I also make sure to make plenty of cardboard boxes available for those times when the kitties need a plain, brown hideaway that’s too small for big ol’ Laz to usurp.

How do you deal with cats and dogs in apartments? What steps do you take to cope? Let us know in the comments!

Other articles on cats and dogs:

Other articles on dogs in apartments: 

The post Cats and Dogs in Apartments: 5 Tips for Getting Along appeared first on Dogster.

When my Pit Bull Hudson developed an abscess, I didn’t really know what it was. The only kind of “abscess” I’d heard of was the one in my mom’s tooth. So, on the sudden discovery of the swelling in Huddie’s left front leg from shoulder to paw, I frantically jumped online to do research before heading to the vet. I’ve found that you can often get quicker results with medical issues by searching by image. And there they were — pictures of mostly ruptured dog abscesses which could make the strongest stomach turn.

How to treat a dog abscess at home.

What is a dog abscess?

An abscess is a collection of pus that occurs anywhere on your dog’s body. Causes include parasites, bites, and bacteria. It’s actually protecting the body by localizing an infection. White blood cells move into the area and collect in the tissue.

You’ll usually see a swelling under the skin; if an abscess has formed on top of the skin or the skin has broken away, you would likely see a red, raised bump. And remember, an abscess is squishy and warm.

Abscesses can be painful, so your dog will let you know — but if you have a dog who is pain-tolerant, such as my Hudson, that may not be a good clue.

Close up of a dog abscess.

Does a dog abscess need to be treated by a professional?

Talk to your vet to determine whether the abscess can be drained and treated at home or needs to be done at the office. Your dog will need professional treatment if you are not able to be very diligent about keeping things sterile and sanitary, or if it is very large and you cannot drain the abscess on your own. In this case, your vet will make an incision. Surgery may be necessary.

How to treat an abscess on your dog at home

I had my vet’s blessing to home-treat Hudson, even though his abscess was so huge. Remember that even if you just call your vet or send him pictures, you’ll still need your vet to prescribe a course of antibiotics, which must be finished. (And note that you should always check with your vet first rather than launching into any kind of home medical treatment.)

What you'll need to treat an abscess on a dog at home.

Home treatment is likely okay if you are obsessive about making everything sanitary and sterile. Make sure you remember to flush the abscess and apply a wound cream several times a day. Also note that you are not likely to get sick treating the abscess because of the way it looks, feels, and smells. Really! We’re talkin’ Essence de Dog Pus here! Often, skin and fur will fall off at first, too, so be sure you can handle that.

Your dog can be easily treated by you if, for example, he’ll let you flush the abscess with saline and stick your finger waaaaaay up into the pocket of the abscess to apply ointment.

Before you begin, make sure you have the right tools:

  • Alcohol. To sterilize your hands whenever you are going to touch the abscess or anything or any area that comes in contact with the abscess’ excretions.
  • Sterile saline solution. To rinse all those pockets of the abscess.
  • Wound ointment. My vet gave me an all-natural foam; yours may have a different solution. It also must be sterile.

Now, follow these instructions:

  • Apply pressure and squeeze. If the abscess hasn’t ruptured on its own, apply a warm compress (a towel soaked in warm to hot water) and gently press down and squeeze the abscess. It will probably take quite a few applications to get it to drain depending on the size. Pus will flow like wine when it ruptures, so be sure to have another towel under the abscessed area.
  • Keep it centered. You may or may not see an accumulation of pus in the center of a pocket. If so, be sure to remove all of this.
  • Clean like a crazy person. An abscess should NOT be covered. It has to heal in the same way as a puncture wound, from the inside out. That means as pus continues to emit from the wound, you’ll have to clean up constantly at first.

Follow your vet’s instructions. My vet told me to rinse the abscess twice a day, apply the wound foam once to twice a day, and to make sure Hudson took all of the antibiotic.

Despite all the attention it needs, try not to obsess on the abscess. It takes a long time for an abscess to heal. It’s been a month since I started treating Hudson’s and it’s still got a way to go.

You will get to know this abscess intimately. And don’t let the extreme grossness and shocking nakedness of an abscess deter you from treating it at home. Think of it as another opportunity to bond with your dog.

Has your dog ever had an abscess? Did you treat it at home or at the vet? Let us know in the comments!

Read more on caring for your dog:

The post How to Treat a Dog Abscess at Home (My Dog’s Was HUGE!) appeared first on Dogster.