Why do my dog’s eyes look cloudy?

As pets age, changes occur within their bodies, including the eye. The lens of the eye is responsible for directing and focusing light onto the retina in the back of the eye. This light is then detected and results in vision.


As an animal ages, the lens inside the eye becomes denser, harder and somewhat cloudy in appearance. The nucleus may have a blue-gray tint to it, while the cortex remains completely clear and transparent. This aging change of the lens is known as lenticular or nuclear sclerosis. Typically, signs of lenticular sclerosis begin around 6 to 8 year of age in the dog and slowly become more obvious as the dog ages.

In the geriatric dog, lenticular sclerosis can be so cloudy that the condition is easily mistaken for a cataract of the lens. Cataracts can also result in a gray-white appearance to the eye due to cloudiness within the lens. Fortunately, vision is not significantly affected in lenticular sclerosis until the last stages of the dog’s life.

The lens is encased in a membranous capsule. The lens is a continuously changing structure, with new layers being laid down on top of one another throughout the life of the animal. Because the eye is fixed in size and the lens capsule does not stretch a great deal, the lens cannot get larger as these new layers develop. Instead, the inner layers of the retina become compressed, which allows room for the new layers to be laid down. The oldest layers of the lens are in the center of the lens, and this area is called the nucleus. The newest layers of the lens surround the nucleus and this outer area is called the cortex.

If you feel your pet is experiencing any discomfort of the eye (bulging, redness, squinting, whitish or yellow/green discharge, itchiness, etc.) please contact Rita Ranch Pet Hospital.  Our experienced staff can discuss your concerns and if necessary, recommend an exam with Dr. Krauss or Dr. Hanna to evaluate the health of the eyes.  Since our patients can’t tell us if things are changing, it is highly recommended to have the eyes evaluated as soon as there is a problem noted.  Just waiting may lead to changes that potentially can not be treated. Many eye injuries and processes can advance into a serious state VERY quickly, so time is of the essence when it comes to your pet’s ocular health!

source: eyecareforanimals.com, petplace.com, healthypets.com

ENRICH Your Dog’s Life!

Humans actively seek out enrichment in their own lives. We read books, play video games, watch movies and exercise. Enrichment is anything mentally or physically challenging that is rewarding. Our dog’s lives are not nearly as exciting as ours are. We get up every morning, drive to work, talk to people, eat different foods and are generally satisfied.

Modern dogs really don’t have much to do in comparison to their capabilities. Wild dogs must hunt for food, seek shelter, fight for mates and travel constantly. Our domestic dogs no longer have the need to perform such tasks so we need to find constructive ways to enrich their lives.


Walks: The best enrichment activity for any dog is walking. Walking is beneficial for many reasons. Walking allows dogs to explore the outside world, be healthier, release excess energy, spend time with you and even prevent some behavioral problems. Dogs lacking in exercise must find other ways to release pent up energy. Without an appropriate outlet, most dogs will resort to digging, destructive behaviors and barking out of boredom. Remember a tired dog is a good dog.

Interactive Toys: In the past few years there has been an onslaught of dog toys to hit the market. Many of the toys are interactive and incredibly mentally enriching. Toys don’t have to be expensive to be good. Obviously, keep an eye on the condition of the toys to prevent choking.


Treat Ball, Buster Cube and Twist n’ Treat: Dogs will knock these toys around to get food out which is physically and mentally stimulating. You can even use regular dry dog food.


Puzzle Toys: The I-Qube, Hide – a – Squirrel and Intellibone are excellent toys for teaching the dog problem solving. These toys are plush so please monitor chewing.

Games: Some dogs are natural athletes. Give them something fun to do with that energy.  Fetch: Retrievers, herding breeds and many mixed breeds love chasing after a ball. Incorporate some obedience commands to make the game mentally and physically demanding. Almost any childhood game such as tag, hide – and – seek and tug of war can be modified to include dogs. These games will bring out the kid in you.


Organized Dog Sports: There are dog sports for almost any breed of dog. Try out several activities to see which your dog likes best. Agility, Flyball, drafting and tracking are terrific activities for owner and dog.


Obedience Training: Group obedience classes are a great way to give your dog mental stimulation. Just as we take classes to better ourselves, dogs benefit from an education as well. Learning a new skill – set is challenging and exciting for dogs.

Source: hssaz.org

Puppy Care 101


When you bring a puppy into your home for the first time, expect you’ll be making a big lifestyle change. Puppies need more than just a bed and a food bowl to thrive. They also need constant care and attention. While it may require a lot of work initially, it’s well worth the effort down the road. Establishing good habits in those first weeks will lay the groundwork for a lifetime of happiness for you and your dog. Remember, you have a responsibility to help your puppy grow into a happy and healthy dog.

Here are some tips for puppy care to help first-time dog owners get started:

Puppy-Proof Your Home

Before you bring your new pet into your home, make sure that your house is safe. Puppies love to explore and chew everything in their path. Keep your puppy confined to a safe area in your house, and don’t leave him unsupervised. Provide plenty of chew toys for your new friend, and reward him when he chews the toys instead of your favorite pair of shoes. Keep him off balconies, elevated porches, and decks. Keep all cleaning supplies, detergents, bleach, and other chemicals and medicines out of the puppy’s reach, preferably on high shelves. Remove poisonous houseplants, such as amaryllis, mistletoe, holly, or poinsettia, or keep them in hanging baskets up high, where your puppy cannot reach them.

Just as important: Keep toilet lids closed, unplug electrical cords and remove them from the floor, and keep plastic bags and ribbons out of your puppy’s reach.

Bring Your Puppy to the Veterinarian for Regular Checkups

One of the most important parts of owning a puppy is ensuring he receives proper care. Take him to a qualified veterinarian as soon as you bring him home. He needs several rounds of vaccines between the ages of 6 and 16 weeks to keep him from getting sick. You will also need to bring your puppy back to the veterinarian for a yearly checkup. Remember to discuss with your veterinarian the best age to neuter or spay your puppy, as well. Finally, talk to your veterinarian about any signs of illness that you should watch out for during your puppy’s first few months.

Ensure Your Puppy Receives Proper Nutrition

Your puppy also needs complete and balanced nutrition to help him grow properly. In fact, the first year of his life is critical in ensuring proper growth of his bones, teeth, muscles, and fur. As a growing animal, he’ll require more calories than an adult dog. Read the labels, and find a food that has been specifically created to ensure the proper balance of protein and fat for a puppy. Check the food package for the recommended feeding schedule and serving size. Never feed your puppy bones, table scraps, or big snacks in between meals.

Teach Your Puppy Obedience

You should also establish clear rules and expectations from the get-go. Be firm and gentle with your training — never punitive. Be consistent with your rules. Give commands in a matter-of-fact tone. Always reward your puppy for obeying you with plenty of praise, as well as an occasional treat. When it’s time to move on to house-training, the key is to be consistent. Your puppy will typically need to eliminate 20 to 30 minutes after eating. Take him outside, and use a command such as “go potty.” Then be sure to praise him when he does. Don’t get discouraged if your puppy doesn’t learn the rules right away. Some pets catch onto housebreaking quickly, while others can take up to six months.

Remember that with proper puppy care, your new pet will grow into a happy, healthy dog — and provide you with love and companionship for years to come.


Source: petcentric.com

Common Pet Toxins in Your Home

Every home contains a variety of everyday items and substances that can be dangerous or even fatal if ingested by dogs and cats. You can protect your pet’s health by becoming aware of the most common health hazards found in many pet-owning households.



Many foods that are perfectly safe for humans could be harmful or potentially deadly to dogs and cats.  To be safe, keep the following food items out of your pet’s menu:

             Coffee grounds                                              Grapes/raisinsChocolate                                                       OnionsYeast dough                                                   Alcohol

Macadamia nuts                                             Salt

Fatty food                                                       Garlic


Chewing gum, candy and breath fresheners containing xylitol


Always keep garbage out of a pet’s reach, as rotting food contains molds or bacteria that could produce food poisoning.

Cleaning Products

Many household cleaners can be used sagely around cats and dogs.  However, the key to safe use lies in reading and following product directions for proper use and storage.

For instance, if the label states “keep pets and children away from the area until dry”, follow those directions to prevent possible health risks.  Products containing bleach can safely disinfect many household surfaces when used properly, but can cause stomach upset, drooling, vomiting or diarrhea, severe burns if swallowed and respiratory tract irritation can occur if inhaled in a high enough concentration.  In addition, skin contact with concentrated solutions may produce serious chemical burns.  Some detergents can produce a similar reaction, and cats can be particularly sensitive to certain ingredients such as phenols.

As a general rule, store all cleaning products in a secure cabinet out of the reach of pets and keep them in their original packaging, or in a clearly labeled and tightly sealed container.



As with household cleaners, read and follow label instructions before using any type of pesticide in your pet’s environment.  For example, flea and tick products labeled “for use on dogs only” should not be applied to cats or other species, as serious or even life-threatening problems could result.  Always consult with your veterinarian about the safe use of these products for your pet.


If a pet ingests rat or mouse poison, potentially serious or life-threatening illness can result; therefore, when using any rodenticide, it is important to place the poison in areas completely inaccessible to pets.



Medications that treat human medical conditions can make pets very sick.  Never give your pet any medication unless directed by your veterinarian.  As a rule, the following medications should be tightly closed and stored in a secure cabinet above the counter and away from pets:

        Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxenAcetaminophenCold medicines                                      Vitamins

Prescription Drugs                                 Antihistamines

Diet pills                                                Antidepressants


Soaps and other Sundries

Bath and hand soaps, toothpaste and sun blocks should also be kept away from your pets.  They can cause stomach upset, vomiting, or diarrhea.  Keep toilet lids closed to prevent your pets from consuming treated toilet bowl water that could irritate their digestive tract.



While they may smell good, many liquid potpourri products contain ingredients that can cause oral ulcerations and other problems, so keep them out of the reach of your pets.

Just one mothball has the potential to sicken a dog or cat.  Mothballs that contain naphthalene can cause serious illness, including digestive tract irritation, liver, kidney, and blood cell damage, swelling of the brain tissues, seizures, coma, respiratory tract damage (if inhaled) and even death (if ingested).

Tobacco products, pennies (those minted after 1982 contain zinc) and alkaline batteries (like those in your remote controls) can also be hazardous when ingested.




Antifreeze, Herbicides, and Insecticides

Ethylene glycol-containing antifreeze and coolants, even in small quantities, can be fatal to both dogs and cats.  While antifreeze products containing propylene glycol are less toxic than those containing ethylene glycol, they can still be dangerous.

In addition to antifreeze, other substances routinely stored in the garage including insecticides, plant/lawn fertilizers, weed killers, ice-melting products, and gasoline also pose a threat to your pet’s health if ingested.

When chemical treatments are applied to grassy areas, be sure and keep your pet off the lawn for the manufacturer’s recommended time.  If pets are exposed to wet chemicals or granules that adhere to their paws, they may lick it off later; stomach upset or more serious problems could result.

Paints and Solvents

Paint thinners, mineral spirits, and other solvents are dangerous and can cause severe irritation or chemical burns if swallowed or if they come in contact with your pet’s skin.  While most latex house paints typically produce a minor stomach upset, some types of artist’s or other specialty paints may contact heavy metals or volatile substances that could become harmful if inhaled or ingested.

Plants – Inside or Around the House

There are many household and yard plants that can sicken your pet.  Some of the most commonly grown greenery that should be kept away from pets includes:

  • Lily of the Valley, oleander, azalea, yew, foxglove, rhododendron and kalanchoe may cause heart problems if ingested.
  • Rhubarb leaves and shamrock contain substances that can produce kidney failure. Certain types of lilies (Lilium and Hemerocallis species) are highly toxic to cats, resulting in kidney failure – even if only small amounts are ingested.
  • Sago palms (Cycad species) can cause liver damage, especially if the nut portion of the plant is consumed.
  • Fungi such as certain varieties of mushrooms can cause liver damage or other illnesses.

A few other potentially harmful plants include philodendron, corn plant, castor bean, mother-in-law’s tongue, hibiscus, lantana, and hydrangea.

For a complete listing of common toxic and non-toxic plants, visit www.apcc.aspca.org


Small items that fall on the floor can be easily swallowed by a curious cat or dog.  Such items include coins, buttons, small children’s toys, medicine bottles, jewelry, nails, and screws.  The result may be damage to your pet’s digestive tract and the need for surgical removal of the object.

While electrical cords are especially tempting to puppies who like to chew on almost anything, even an adult dog or cat could find them of interest; burns or electrocution could result from chewing on live cords.  Prevent this by using cord covers and blocking access to wires.


Don’t forget that holidays and visitors can pose a special challenge to your pets.  Discourage well-meaning guests from spoiling pets with extra treats and scraps from the dinner table.  Fatty, rich, or spicy foods can cause vomiting and diarrhea and lead to inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Poultry or other soft bones can splinter and damage your pet’s mouth or esophagus.

While trick or treating is fun for children, it can be hazardous to pets.  Halloween treats such as chocolate or candy sweetened with xylitol can make a harmful snack.

Certain Halloween and Christmas decorations (especially tinsel, ribbons, and ornaments) also pose a hazard to pets, so make sure nothing is left on the floor or on tables within reach. String-like items can damage your pet’s intestines and could prove fatal if not surgically removed.

While poinsettia is not deadly as popular legend would have it, it could still cause upset stomach if consumed.  Holly and mistletoe are especially dangerous plants. Christmas tree water treated with preservatives (including fertilizers) can also cause an upset stomach.  Water that is allowed to stagnate in tree stands contains bacteria that, if ingested, could lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

A Special Note of Caution to Bird Owners

Just like dogs and cats, most hazards listed here apply to your pet bird, particularly if it is allowed to roam freely outside of its cage.  In addition, birds have unique respiratory tracts that are especially vulnerable to inhaled particles and fumes from aerosol products, tobacco products, certain glues, paints, air fresheners, and any other aerosolized matter.  Birds should never be allowed in areas where such products are being used.  As a rule, birds should never be kept in kitchens because cooking fumes, smoke and odors can present a hazard.


Don’t wait! Time is critical for successfully treating accidental poisoning.  Pick up the phone and call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435; a consultation fee may apply). Be prepared to state your pet’s breed, age, weight, and any symptoms.  Keep the product container or plant sample with you to assist in identification so the appropriate treatment recommendations can be made.

For more information about pet poisons,

Visit the ASPCA Poison Control Center


Internet Use for Pet Healthcare

Internet Use for Your Pet’s Healthcare

Should you trust pet healthcare Web sites?

The growing popularity of the Internet has made it easier and faster to find health-related information. Although much of it is valuable, some of it is false and misleading. Veterinarians are beginning to notice an increase in preventable illnesses due to internet use and decreased veterinary visits. We want your pet to get the best, safest medical care, and often a physical exam is the first, most important step. There are many different medical conditions that can have very similar symptoms to the untrained eye .  Veterinarians spend years in school ( and many more years in practice) honing their skills to make diagnoses, and entering a few key symptoms in a Google search will not be the equivalent.  That said, we know that our clients WILL look up information online. Heck, we veterinarians often look up information. There are veterinary forums where we can talk to each other, ask questions of  specialists, and get help with complicated cases. So when you do your search, here are some things to keep in mind…

Who runs the Web site?

Any Web site should clearly and often indicate who is responsible for the site and it’s information. The American Animal Hospital Association’s consumer Web site (www.healthypet.com), for example clearly notes its affiliation on every major page and includes a link to the AAHA home page.

What is the purpose of the Web site?

Many sites include and “About this site” or “About Us” link, which should clearly state the purpose and help you evaluate the trustworthiness of the information.( ie. are they trying to sell a product?)

What is the original source of information?

Many health and medical Web sites post information collected from other Web sites or sources. If the person or organization in charge of the sire did not write the material, the original source should be clearly identified.

How is the information documented?

In addition to identifying the original source of the material, the site should identify the evidence on which the material is based.  Medical facts and figures should include references such as citations of articles in medical journals. Also, opinions or advice should be clearly set apart from evidence-based information.

How is information reviewed before it’s posted?

Health-related Web sites should provide information about the medical credentials of the people who prepare or review the material.  Veterinarians in the United States are doctors of veterinary medicine (DVMs) or veterinary medical doctors (VMDs)– the equivalent of an MD in human medicine. Common specialist credentials include DACVIM (internal medicine), DAVS(surgery) , and DACVD (dermatology).

How current is the information?

Web sites should be reviewed and updated regularly. It’s particularly important that medical information be current and that the most recent update or review date be posted. Even if the information hasn’t changed, it’s helpful to know that the site owners have reviewed it recently to ensure that it’s still valid.

How does the Web site choose links?

Reliable Web sites usually have a policy about how they link to other sites. Some medical sites take and conservative approach and don’t link to any at all. Some link to any site that asks or pays for a link. Others link only to sites that have met certain criteria.

How does the Web site manage interactions with users?

There should be a way for you to contact the site owners with problems, feedback, and questions. If the site hosts a chat room or other online discussion areas, it should tell you about the terms of using the service. Is the service moderated? If so, by whom and why? Before you participate, spend some time reading the discussion without joining in.

How can you verify the accuracy of information you receive via email?

Any e-mail messages should be carefully evaluated. Consider the origin of the message and its purpose. Some companies or organizations use e-mail to advertise products or  attract people to their Web sites.  The accuracy of health-related information may be influenced by the desire to promote a product or service. It’s important to carefully consider the source of e-mail and other Internet-based information and to discuss the information with your veterinarian.

Pet Health Care Web sites recommended by Rita Ranch Pet Hospital

We have listed several sites that contain excellent information on pet health care and medical conditions. There are direct links to these sites and many others on the Resources page of the ritaranchpethospital.com Web site.

www.healthypet.com                                                                                                         veterinarypartner.com

aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control.aspx                                                                                                          catvets.com