What to Do if Your Dog Gets Sprayed by a Skunk!

First, what exactly do skunks spray? A skunk sprays a sulfur-based compound called thiol from two glands…

The Importance of Dental Health in Dogs and Cats

February is here and what that entails in the animal world is Dental Health Month! Dental health is so important because poor dental health can have long term negative impacts on the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver.

Dental disease can impact pets of any age, but some factors can influence risk which includes:

  • Age
  • Breed
  • Genetics
  • Poor diet
  • Health status
  • Home care
  • Bacterial flora of the oral cavity
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Drooling
  • Blood-tinged saliva
  • Pawing at mouth

Plaque can form and build up on your pet’s teeth as quickly as 24 hours and if dental care/preventatives are not taken to remove plaque then calculus (tartar) buildup occurs within 3-5 days. When calculus starts to build up on your pet’s teeth, it gradually begins to push the gums away from the tooth, giving the calculus an opportunity to spread into your pet’s bloodstream. The bacteria that are built up within the calculus can lead to infection and have serious effects on the major organs mentioned above. 

Diet matters

Amazingly enough, diet has a pretty decent impact on your pet’s dental health. There is a myth, kibble is the best for dogs and cats because when they crunch on the hard pieces of kibble, it supposedly helps scrape the calculus away. Think about that. Have you ever watched your pet eat? More often than not, they swallow their kibble whole. Also, go to your dentist and tell them you forgot to brush your teeth, so you had chips to help scrape the calculus away from your teeth. Kibble contains high levels of sugars and carbohydrates which rapidly produce oral bacteria and plaque. Whereas fresh or raw diets can help protect your pet’s teeth and gums simply due to low or lack of starches. In other words, the food will not stick to the teeth like kibble would. 

The good news is that dental disease in your pet does not have to occur. While it is common, it’s actually not natural.

Helpful Preventative Care Techniques 

  1. Pay close attention to the diet you are giving your pet
  2. Introduce brushing at a young age 
  3. Supplements, dental cleaning pads and pet toothpastes include enzymes and pre and probiotics that can help break down plaque.
  4. Giving your pet toys and/or bones to chew to keep teeth clean
  5. Professional dental cleanings

Dental cleanings are great but should not have to happen yearly, or even in younger years. Yearly cleanings can have a negative impact on pets because anesthetic gasses used yearly can slowly apply stress on your pet’s organs. Think about the change that needs to happen- diet, toys/bones, brushing, etc. 


Holmstrom, Steven E. “Pathogenesis of Periodontal Disease.” Veterinary Dentistry: A Team Approach, 2nd ed., Steven Holmstrom, 2013, pp. 150–153.

Holmstrom, Steven E. “Home-Care Instruction and Products.” Veterinary Dentistry: A Team Approach, 2nd ed., Steven Holmstrom, 2013, pp. 194–213.

Miller, Bonnie R, and John R Lewis. “Veterinary Dentistry.” Clinical Textbooks for Veterinary Technicians, 9th ed., Joanna M. Bassert, 2018, pp. 1222–1229.

What Can My Pet Eat on Thanksgiving Day?

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, it is important to discuss and understand which foods are okay to feed our furry friends.

Many foods that we eat on Thanksgiving day are easily shareable with our pets but there are some foods that should be avoided. Let’s discuss the foods to give and when we should avoid sharing:

Foods that can be shared PLAIN:

These foods can be shared raw or gently cooked by baking, boiling, or steaming without added fats, sweeteners, or seasoning.

  • Baked or boiled mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Turkey (white or dark meat)
  • Cranberries
  • Pumpkin
  • Apples

Foods/Ingredients to Avoid:

  • Gravies contain a decent amount of sodium
  • Certain seasonings contain a decent amount of sodium
  • Certain broths contain high sodium content and vegetables that dogs should not eat (like onions)
  • Bones because cooked bones can splinter and cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract
  • Skin of the turkey is very fatty and can lead to pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Stuffing(s) contains onions and is also made primarily of highly processed carbohydrates (containing high levels of sodium) and onions can cause damage to red blood cells leading to anemia in your pet
  • Cranberry sauce is typically high in sugar
  • Carrot and green bean intake should be limited as they contain decent amounts of sugar
  • Pumpkin pie and apple pie both contain loads of sugar

Why should we avoid foods high in sugar and sodium?

Foods that are high in sugar tend to cause upset stomach, weight gain, and impact multiple organ health. Foods that are high in sodium can lead to dehydration, vomiting/diarrhea, muscle tremors and even seizures. Sodium is necessary in a pet’s diet but only a very small amount and too much sodium can be harmful. Natural sugar (through our fruits and vegetables) is okay for our pets, but artificial and processed sugars (such as those found in our snack foods) or too much can cause these issues. 

Facts, fear, sales, CBD & COVID-19

News Flash: The study in question is NOT peer-reviewed. It’s also strictly theoretical, meaning it may (likely) not work, or even be dangerous.

I could probably go on forever questioning why the media (and even some “reputable” associations) continue to share non-peer reviewed, non-verified information, but I won’t. We know a great headline catches clicks and shares. And before you go on and say this has absolutely nothing to do with pets, or pet food – it does! This is just parallel example about how bad science is used to propagate either a false sense of security, fear – and sell a product. I’m also not “anti” CBD, but that isn’t the point. There are several applications where it is useful for pets and people, but in this instance there simply an overabundance of bad information swirling around CBD preventing and/or treating COVID-19 that makes for a great example for my point: why it is so important to dive deeper into everything.

I hope that those who read this see it as an opportunity to learn how to challenge information and data. So often we look for someone to just give us “the answer” and it is just not that simple. Determining what is right for you and your pet in your unique situation will take some work. Take this article as an example of how to learn about how to do that work, vet your sources and arrive at an educated conclusion.

FDA Oversight & COVID-19

As a background to the entire discussion it is important to realize that an “era of speed to market” is upon us. The FDA has allowed some alternative testing methods while also accelerating the process for drug and vaccine development. While the FDA is still overseeing these processes, they are reviewing studies and data more efficiently given the current pandemic. Having said that, the FDA has also acknowledged that many companies are trying to take advantage of people’s fears by offering up solutions like X, Y and Z – and if you see CBD companies using this “study” to gain attention it is proof of just that. In fact, the FDA has been aggressively sending warning and cease/desist letters to companies making these claims because they are in clear violation of the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act.  You can see a lot of those warning letters for CBD companies here: FDA Issues CBD Warning Letters.

This isn’t the first time companies have taken advantage of a crisis, or preyed upon people’s fears and vulnerabilities. Manufacturers of colloidal silver products have also recently received warning letters for claims that it prevents and/or treats COVID-19. We can only wait for irresponsible CBD companies to make unsubstantiated claims coming off the heels of this “study”. One would hope that this prompts CBD manufacturers and marketing agencies to be responsible and transparent with their products.

Understanding Peer-Review vs. Non-Peer-Reviewed

The public largely doesn’t realize that research journals, some great and some not so great, are pre-publishing papers without peer-review. This is simply to share current research and information freely with other researchers for the sake of collaboration. Typically, a lot of this information is not as easily accessible to the public because many of these papers are somewhat gated through journal memberships, and/or with a pay-per-article download/view. Research manuscripts go through vetting processes which doesn’t eliminate, but at least filters out a lot of “bad science” before it makes its way out to the public and media outlets. This current “open access” of information is a great thing for the scientific community – however it is NOT a great thing to be circulating potentially harmful and incomplete information to the general public who generally does not understand if this information is verified, factual or theoretical – they simply  see “study” and think, it MUST be true because it’s “science”. Unfortunately humans make mistakes, manipulate data and come to flawed conclusions – either by error, omission and/or on purpose. Hence the need for peer-review.

Not Applicable to “The Real World”

The reality is that much of the information out there regarding Covid-19 prevention and treatment is inapplicable to the real world as they are preliminary experiments that were conducted in a controlled environment, on small scales and with measured variables – and many have not had peer-review. This will obviously change over time, but this is the current reality and the reason why so many people are working on this all over the world at warp speed. Am I Covid-19 or infectious disease expert? No. But I do know how research works and what the value of scaling research, test-retest repeatability and of course the value in peer-review and critical analysis– and much of the information out there has little to none of it.

The CBD/COVID-19 Study:

So, to finally summarize this COVID-19/CBD “study”; researchers acknowledge that SARS-CoV2 is transmitted through respiratory droplets, with potential for aerosol and contact spread. The virus uses receptor-mediated entry into the human host via angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) that is expressed in lung tissue, as well as oral and nasal mucosa, kidney, testes, and the gastrointestinal tract.

Having said that, the researchers hypothesize (educated guess) that a theoretical path for combating, or decreasing susceptibility, of this virus could be modulation of ACE2 levels in these gateway tissues. The researchers have potentially identified 13 high CBD-C containing C. sativa varieties of the hemp plant that have the potential to modulate ACE2 gene expression and ACE2 protein levels. Further, their initial data suggest that some C. sativa extract down-regulate serine protease TMPRSS2, another critical protein required for SARS-CoV2 entry into host cells. They theorize that these substances could be used as an active ingredient in a mouthwash-type product to reduce the incidence of viral entry via the oral mucosa.

It’s also important to note that all of the authors are employed by one or more start-up companies engaged in medical cannabis and disease research. While not always the case, this could lead to bias in the results. Again, this further highlighting the need for peer-review.

STUDY CONCLUSION: The authors recognize that their hypothesis needs further large-scale validation as a potential AJUNCT therapy (not mainline treatment) for COVID-19.

The Study in Context and the Media:

Unfortunately, we didn’t see the media articles explain the mouthwash as an adjunct treatment. Leaving the general public, the potential to assume that smoking or using other various marijuana and/or hemp products could help prevent and/or treat COVID-19. The sad thing is that people will read headlines at face value and think that smoking a sativa strain of the hemp plant may provide some protection or therapy against COVID-19. Worse, it may influence some to try using this for their pets. Regardless, we know that smoking is actually increases risk-factors for COVID-19 complications and other respiratory diseases. This just highlights the medias frenzy to distribute click-worthy information, without verification and obviously without regard for human (or animal) health or safety. If only the media visited preprints.org they would have found a highlight at the top that says “This version is not peer-reviewed” which is an indicator that it should not have been widely distributed.

In conclusion, it’s important to always vet the source of any information relating to health and nutrition. Find the original source of the information, in this case it happened to be a non-peer-reviewed theoretical paper which needs validation of said theory. While it may provide hope as an adjunct therapy for some, only a series of carefully designed scientific experiments, trials and validation methods will tell. Take that for what it is worth.


Nicole Cammack


Nicci is the owner of award-winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut. She is also the Founder & CEO of Undogmatic Inc. Her undergraduate and graduate education includes biology, chemistry, business, and nutrition. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading international figures in the human and pet health industry. She regularly lectures at national conferences, including federal, state, and municipal K9 events. Her current research involves identifying pathogenic risk factors and transmission among raw fed pets through a comprehensive worldwide survey.



How to Trim Your Pet’s Nails Safely

Have you ever wanted to trim your pet’s nails at home but were scared that you would damage the blood vessels inside the nail? 

While trimming your dog’s or cat’s nails is pretty straightforward, there are some important details to remember so you can safely, and confidently, trim your pet’s nails on your own. 

Your Pet’s Nail Anatomy

The first step of trimming your pet’s nails is understanding the anatomy of the nail. Start by looking at the top of your pet’s paw where the nail grows out and forward from the toe. This part of the nail is made of a tough, protective protein called keratin, the same protein found in animal hooves and human fingers and toenails. 

Inside the keratin, from the tip of the toe to the middle of the nail, is a pulp filled with highly sensitive nerves and blood vessels called the quick. And right after the quick ends (towards the tip of the nail), you will see a bit more keratin. That extra keratin is what we want to focus on for trimming. 

Choosing the Right Nail Trimmer

After you are comfortable with assessing your pet’s foot altogether, you will then move on to which trimmers would be the best fit for you and your pet. To purchase the right tool, it is best to understand each tool that is available.

  1. Scissor Clippers

This product is designed to function similarly to a normal pair of scissors. When you squeeze these to trim the nail the blades will come together and slice that part of the toenail off. This product is best used for medium to large breed pets. Scissor clippers are great for quick nail trimming and for first-time users. Some have a safety feature that helps you know when to stop before the quick.

  1. Guillotine Clippers

This product has a ring where you would insert your pet’s nail. Once you put your pet’s nail into this ring (taking caution not to include the quick) you will then squeeze the handles together and a blade will slide up and slice the tip of the nail off. Guillotine clippers are best used in small breed pets but aren’t recommended if you’re new to nail trimming or if your pet is uncomfortable with trims. Guillotine clippers may cause damage to the quick if the pet pulls away.  

  1. Nail Grinder/Dremel

This product is best used in pets who struggle to cooperate with nail trimming sessions. A nail grinder is a powered nail file that spins at a high speed and will slowly file your pet’s nail down. This product is great as it can reduce the chances of hitting your pet’s quick in the nail. Pets tend to alert you when you may be too close to the quick when using a grinder. Another great reason to use a grinder is the fact that it does not leave the nail sharp. This product rounds out the nail to leave a smooth edge. 

Expert Tip: We recommend keeping styptic powder nearby when trimming your pet’s nails. This powder will clot any bleeding that may happen if the quick is accidentally cut. 

Once you can determine which product is best for both you and your pet, you then can start the trimming process. 

Acclimating your Pet to Nail Trimming

If your pet has never had their nails trimmed before, it can seem like a scary event for them, and it’s important not to add additional stress. It may be helpful to work on desensitizing them to the process through several training sessions. 

Ideally, we recommend introducing the nail trimming process at a very young age with your pet to get them comfortable with it being an easy, rewardable task. Stay calm and relaxed and start with touching and rubbing your pet’s toes, nails, and paw to get them comfortable with the process. Reward your pet – with training treats or verbal commands – after they stay calm and happy. Then try with one nail at a time and gradually work your way to doing more at a time. Eventually, you will be able to do all nails in one session and have an even stronger bond with them! 

How often should I trim my pet’s nails?

This may vary depending on your pet. The average recommendation is anywhere between every 2-4 weeks. Dog’s nails are known to file down when walking on asphalt or hard surfaces and cats are known for sharpening their front nails on scratching posts and/or trees. But these processes do not always keep your pet’s nails at a safe length which is why nail trimming is always recommended. 

Why are routine nail trims important?

When a pet’s nails are left to grow too long, there are multiple health issues that can arise. Long nails may overgrow back into paw pads which is very painful and can lead to infections in your pet’s paw pads. Overgrown nails can also lead to issues with their gait (the way they walk) as it can cause the feet to lay flatter than usual (imagine trying to keep weight off your toes when walking) and causes pressure on the bones in the ankle and leg, making it very uncomfortable for them to walk.


Randall, Samantha. “How to Choose the Right Dog Nail Clippers.” Top Dog Tips, 16 Nov. 2021, https://topdogtips.com/how-to-choose-the-right-dog-nail-clippers/. 

Staff, AKC. “Nail Neglect Can Lead to Health Problems for Your Dog.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 23 Jan. 2018, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/nail-neglect-can-lead-to-health-problems-for-your-dog/. 

Palika, Liz. “Nail Anatomy 101: Keep Trims Safe, Not Scary.” Fear Free Happy Homes, 31 Mar. 2021, https://www.fearfreehappyhomes.com/nail-anatomy-101-keep-trims-safe-not-scary/. 

Gauntt. “The Importance of a Pedicure.” VMBS News, 11 Mar. 2022, https://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk/the-importance-of-a-peticure/. 


4 Tips to Keep Ticks Away, Naturally

We can’t wait to get outside with warm weather right around the corner. But the warm weather also means ticks, fleas, and other pests are out. When it comes to avoiding ticks, harsh pesticide products may not be best for your pet. Instead, here are our best tips to avoid bringing those pesky hitchhikers home with you.

  • Add garlic to your pet’s diet. Garlic is a safe tick repellent for your pet. It’s antifungal, anti-parasitic, and a natural antibiotic that doesn’t destroy beneficial bacteria. Always give garlic with food so that it won’t irritate the gut lining. Serve your pet one fresh clove of garlic, finely chopped, per 30 pounds of body weight per day.
  • Use natural flea and tick preventatives
    • Internal powders. One of our favorite products is Earth Animal. Earth Animal doesn’t use synthetic chemicals and contains a unique combination of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
    • Topical Monthly Treatments. Earth Animal’s Herbal Flea & Tick Collar and Herbal Spot-On gently and powerfully repels and protects against ticks and fleas
  • Use a lint roller. After a walk, hike, or time spent outside, you can use a lint roller to quickly catch any ticks or fleas on the surface of your pet’s fur on their body and legs. One of our favorite lint rollers to use is from Messy Mutts.
  • Yard/home sprays. You can spray your yard or home to protect from ticks. When finding effective products, avoid those with harsh and harmful chemicals. We suggest using Wondercide or Skout’s Honor.

Want to learn more about the dangers of flea and tick season and the impact on our pets? Check out our blog post Signs and Symptoms of Tick-Borne Illness.

How To Turn Dog Toys Into Frozen Treats

Dear NPP, 

This heatwave has really put a damper on my dog’s activity options. He has boundless energy, but it’s just too hot for me to give him the exercise he needs outside. How can I keep him occupied and calm until we can get back to our outdoor routine?


Hot Dog Dad

Dear Hot Dog Dad,

During times when outdoor activity isn’t possible, mental enrichment can burn energy just as well as moderate physical exercise. When your dog has to actively think about how to execute a puzzle to retrieve that tasty treat, he’s engaging in his natural instinctive behavior, which can improve overall mental health, boost brain development, and help prevent depression. Of course, during the hot summer months, there’s no better challenge than a FROZEN treat! Many of our enrichment toys are freezer-safe, which means you can customize them with his favorite treats and toppers and then pop them in the freezer for a longer-lasting chilly treat. 

 Top toys to keep your hot dog calm, cool, and engaged

  1. The LickiMat: Lickimats offer versatility with dozens of colors and styles to choose from. Some sit flat, some suction to a mirror or window, and others will add extra fun by wobbling around the room. 
  2. The West Paw Toppl: An NPP manager favorite, this toy offers versatility, challenge, and durability. Inner rubber ‘fingers’ can hold anything from apple slices to bully sticks, and give your pup’s tongue a great workout! 
  3. The Classic Kong: Turn these bad boys upside down inside a small cup. Cover the tiny hole with a dab of peanut butter, put in a few of Fido’s favorite treats, and fill the rest with bone broth or goat milk. Bon appetit!
  4. Super Snouts Water Buffalo Horn: A 100% natural chew composed of keratin – like your fingernails – excellent for super tough chewers. Coat the inside with some (dog-safe) peanut butter or Goat Whip for a durable, lickable, chillable chew. 

Not sure what to fill ‘em with?

NPP top recommendations for freezer-worthy fillers! 



  1. Primal Goat Milk
  2. Primal Bone Broth 
  3. Dog Almighty Mobility Elixirs


  1. Nature’s Logic Peanut Butter
  2. Bones & Co. Goat Whip


  1. Weruva canned food
  2. Instinct Rawboost Mixers 
  3. Green Juju 


  1. Red Barn bully sticks
  2. Barkworthies beef collagen sticks
  3. VE duck foot

Get creative with fresh add-ins:

  1. Apple slices
  2. Carrot sticks
  3. Banana chunks
  4. Spinach or Kale leaves
  5. Blueberries 

*Learn why fresh fruits and veggies are beneficial to your pet here!

Signs Your Dog has Heartworm and What to Do About It

By now we’ve all been made aware of the risks related to heartworm. Recently, we realized that some information on heartworm was biased or incomplete. So, we decided to take a deeper dive into exactly what heartworm is, after one of our own dogs was diagnosed and we were left with some unanswered questions ourselves. Luckily, we have a close network of incredible veterinarians here and throughout the U.S. that helped to create an individualized plan. We wanted to share some of what we learned through our experience as well as touch on why we see an increasing prevalence of heartworm in the Northeast US and what we can do about it.Heartworm is a mosquito-borne illness caused by Dirofilaria immitis. The Dirofilaria immitis or “heartworm” is a parasite which is described as foot-long worms. These worms reside in the heart, lungs and blood vessels, most commonly in our beloved dogs. But why do they choose to mature and replicate in our furry friends? Well, dogs are considered a “natural host,” which makes growing and living quite easy.1 A dog’s body is the perfect climate for the heartworm to live. Although heartworm is most common in dogs, it can also be found in cats—but it is quite rare. Contrary to popular belief, cats are not natural hosts for these worms, and the worms often don’t mature as they do in dogs.1 Cats could have heartworm, but only have 1-3 worms in their system. This definitely makes detection difficult.

Heartworm: How the infection happens

When a mosquito bites a heartworm-infected animal, the mosquito ingests larvae, or immature worms. After some maturation within the mosquito, the mosquito is able to deposit the larvae into the skin of another animal. The larvae then make their way into the subcutaneous tissue (or fatty/connective tissue layer) which is deeper within the skin. The subcutaneous tissue has a bunch of small blood vessels that lead to larger blood vessels. The larvae travel through the blood vessels and eventually make their way to the vessels within the lungs. Here, at about 6 months after the mosquito bite, they are able to reproduce microscopic larvae, called “microfilaria.” 1 The microfilaria, since so small, are able to travel through the heart and through the blood stream. The microfilariae are always present in the blood once adult worms are mature enough to reproduce. They will continue to be present as long as the worms are still reproducing.5 The immature worms that reside in the smaller blood vessels cause inflammation and thickening of the blood vessel walls. As these worms grow, they are unable to fit through the smaller vessels and are forced into the larger vessels, which are the main arteries in the dog’s lungs. This is where complications can arise, and where dogs can start showing symptoms.

Signs: What do I look for?

Symptoms and signs of heartworm in dogs can vary in severity. In the early stages of heartworm infection, dogs may show minimal to no symptoms at all. As the infection progresses, the symptoms typically become more severe and non-specific. Dogs with preexisting health conditions or dogs who are heavily infected with worms are more likely to show symptoms.  Most commonly, dogs will develop a cough, reluctancy to exercise, loss of appetite, and increasing fatigue. As the disease continues to advance, dogs can develop fluid overload secondary to heart failure.5

How is heartworm infection diagnosed?

 Due to microfilaria taking approximately 6 months to manifest, heartworm testing is typically done at an annual exam by your vet. Unfortunately, this means that usually our rescues aren’t tested if they are under 1 year, and even if they are, they may not test positive until at least 6-8 months of age. This is unfortunate because dogs are often rescued from southern U.S.—where mosquitos and heartworm are more prevalent. Rescue dogs are occasionally given heartworm preventative medication, but this doesn’t mean they are guaranteed heartworm free.3 That said, it is our responsibility, as dog parents, to ensure our pets are tested appropriately.


Heartworm testing is done by blood sampling. The first test performed is typically testing for antigens. Antigens are proteins that are released into the dog’s bloodstream by female heartworms. These commercial tests are very specific, but the accuracy of this test is based on how many female worms are present within the dog’s body. The rapid, in-clinic antigen testing that is performed can detect “46%-76.2% of patients infected with a single female worm, and 84%-100% of patients with 3 or more female worms.”2 This means that the more worms present, the more accurate the antigen test is. However, it is recommended that both antigen and microfilariae testing are performed to confirm the diagnosis. The microfilariae can also be detected via blood sampling.

But why exercise restriction?

Personally, when I first heard the term ‘exercise restriction’ I was crushed. Immediately, I began to think about our usual long hikes and lengthy play dates were going to be a thing of the past. More importantly, I began thinking about how we were possibly going to burn all that pent-up energy. As I explored treatment options, I learned this doesn’t have to be the case. Instead, we chose a treatment option that allows for monitored exercise—so maybe we’ll just skip the weighted pack on our walks.


There are multiple treatment options available for heartworm infection, and it is important to weigh these options with your vet. The protocol is decided based on the severity of the disease, whether the dog has a pre-existing condition, and cost for pet parents. Heartworm treatment can be expensive and both mentally and physically taxing on you and your dog. It is recommended by the American Heartworm Society (AHS) to begin restricting exercise once the diagnosis is confirmed, regardless of which protocol is followed. However, not all veterinarians may recommend exercise restriction—this is based on the treatment option, your pet’s individual situation and health status. It is important to consult with your vet about what they think is best.


When exercise restriction is recommended, it is because it may increase the rate at which the heartworms damage the heart and lung tissue. The AHS makes a blanket strict exercise restriction recommendation that means no short walks, full crate rest during treatment, and leashed potty breaks. That said, AHS also states, “the more severe the symptoms, the less activity your dog should have.”1 In other words, a heartworm diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean your dog must live in a crate for the duration of treatment.

Heartworm Treatment: The traditional ways

Upon a heartworm diagnosis, it is important to confirm your dog is in tip-top shape before beginning treatment. Usually, initial bloodwork will be performed which includes assessing the dog’s immune system, electrolytes, and liver function. Basically, baseline lab values are checked to ensure the dog can handle whatever treatment prescribed.


There are two types of traditional treatments—a series of injections or the use of a topical medication. The injection, although costly, is highly recommended as it has a 95% success rate, according to the American Heartworm Society. The medication, called Melarsomine, “is an arsenic-containing drug that is FDA-approved to kill adult heartworms in dogs.”4 This medication is injected into the deep tissue of a dog’s gluteal muscles, near their tail, on either side of their spine. The injection is often painful and can require pain medication and occasionally an overnight stay at the vet. The course is typically an injection, followed by 30 days of rest, another injection, then 24 hours later, the last injection. After the last injection, there is 4-8 weeks of continued exercise restriction, prior to being retested to see if the pup is still heartworm positive. Alongside the injections, an antibiotic (doxycycline) and a steroid (prednisone) are administered. Sounds exhausting on the body, right?


The other treatment option is known as “the slow kill” method. This is frequently the treatment of choice for shelters due to its price point. This option is less expensive than the injections—as the injections require frequent visits to the vet for check-ups. The slow-kill method uses a heartworm preventative medication over many months. This method also involves the use of doxycycline. This option is not highly recommended as it does not kill all life stages, it only prevents maturation of microfilariae.


Therefore, the most recommended traditional route, according to AHS, is the use of Melarsomine, in conjunction with an antibiotic and steroid, as prescribed by your vet. However, a potentially fatal complication of the use of the injections is the chance for blood vessel blockages. Said differently, as the treatment progresses the worms die and break up, they can block some of the various blood vessels and cause pulmonary emboli (blood clots in the lung). This is the reason AHS recommends strict exercise restriction and crate rest with this option.

Are ‘natural’ treatments an option?

My first thought as a pet parent— “Do I REALLY need to give our dog all these medications?” This was bothersome to me because, to us, Susie isn’t sick. She has plenty of energy, no coughing, and has a beautiful black coat. We wanted to find a way to kill the heartworms without compromising Susie’s loving (and sometimes annoying) personality. We didn’t want her to be in pain.


Like humans, a healthy diet generally supports a strong immune system and it’s important to consider this when choosing a traditional verses holistic treatment. As far as ‘natural’ treatments go, many have caught a bad name – and rightfully so. There are multiple blogs and opinions stating that one supplement is the magic bullet, but there is no science to support it. Obviously, there is no magic bullet – but there are alternative options to explore. Some include a combination of traditional and alternative treatments, and some may only include alternative options. In discussing the options with our veterinarians, we know that there is not a specific medication or protocol that all alternative practice veterinarians follow. That said, most have their preferences based on personal experience and most assert they can be successful with compliance, patience and supporting the immune system. Some examples include black walnut—said to expel and weaken worms, alongside the heart, circulatory, and immune supplementation.5


When our dog was diagnosed, we reached out to a vet who had plenty of experience treating dogs with heartworm. She had suggested a specific protocol for us to follow, which includes both traditional medications as well as supplementation that supports the immune system and heart. Our protocol also involves frequent check-ups—mostly to listen to heart and lung sounds to ensure the heartworms are not advancing.

Our best advice? Ask questions.

Questions like:

  1. What are all the options?
  2. What experience do you have with each of these options?
  3. Are there side effects I should be aware of?
  4. What health conditions does my pet have that can complicate treatment or outcome?
  5. How can I keep my pet comfortable?
  6. How and can we implement exercise?
  7. Are there ways I can help support my pet’s immune system?

These are just a few, but it is important to consider these, alongside the treatment options, with your family and your vet. Certain treatments may be beneficial for some dogs, but not other dogs. This depends on a workup that is performed—usually including bloodwork, x-rays, and other heart imaging. Regardless, just like with human health, obtaining a second opinion on treatment, and alternative options is never a bad idea! Believe it or not, most vets are happy to refer out for a second opinion – or offer one!

The MOST important question: WHY?

 Always ask why. Whether it be human medicine or animal medicine, it is important to know what (e.g. supplement, medication) you are giving and WHY. No one should take supplements, medicines, or any treatment without asking what they are for. It is also important to understand the side effects associated with the medications or supplements. If you take nothing else from this let it be the lesson: Never be afraid to ask questions.

Susie has started her treatment and is doing just fine! 🙂

[vc_single_image image=”4994″]*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to provide medical advice or replace the advice of a qualified veterinarian. If you think your pet has heartworm or any medical condition please seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian.

About the Author:

Michelle Yaglowski

Michelle is a Registered Nurse, holding her bachelor’s degree in Nursing with both Emergency and ICU experience. It goes without saying that she has incredible attention to detail, the ability to see past the obvious and a knack for research. Like many in this industry, she had a sick pet which developed her keen interest in animal nutrition, and her experience in human medicine and the ability to think critically serve her well in this space. Her quest for knowledge drives her to dive into topics that may be considered controversial, or that don’t have much research in animal nutrition. This allows her to provide a unique perspective to other pet owners which also encourages them to ask the tough questions and challenge the status quo. When she is not working in the hospital or researching and contributing to the NPP Journal she can be found spending time with her Dog Susie and cats Stout and Archer. If you have a topic or a question you would like an evidence-based research answer to you can email Michelle here.


  1. org. 2020. Heartworm Basics – American Heartworm Society. [online] Available at: <https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/heartworm-basics> [Accessed 12 October 2020].
  2. Little S, Saleh M, Wohltjen M, Nagamori Y. Prime detection of Dirofilaria immitis: understanding the influence of blocked antigen on heartworm test performance. Parasites & Vectors. 2018;11(1):186. doi:1186/s13071-018-2736-5
  3. Managing Heartworm Disease in Shelter Animals | Today’s Veterinary Practice. Accessed October 13, 2020. https://todaysveterinarypractice.com/ahs-heartworm-hotline-managing-heartworm-disease-in-shelter-animals/
  4. Medicine C for V. Keep the Worms Out of Your Pet’s Heart! The Facts about Heartworm Disease. FDA. Published online July 29, 2020. Accessed October 13, 2020. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/keep-worms-out-your-pets-heart-facts-about-heartworm-disease
  5. Treating Heartworm Holistically – Whole Dog Journal. Accessed October 13, 2020. https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/care/treating-heartworm-holistically/

Emergency Preparedness: Pet Food & More


For those of us in Connecticut, in 2020 we were walloped with a tropical storm. This left many of us without power for several days. This brings up the topic of Emergency preparedness for pet food, supplies and more. So how can you make sure you’re covered if we were to have another power outage? We’ll walk you through some options, what to have ready and what our best advice is.

Regardless of what type of food you feed, it’s worth having at least a few days of emergency supplies – including food and water. Sometimes kibble isn’t always the best answer because the shelf life is short. Packaging can also easily fail when exposed to heat and moisture. Not to mention kibble takes up a lot of room, and is heavy. If you are a raw or fresh food feeder, losing power is even more stressful, because we can’t always just switch to kibble easily. So, what are we supposed to do?  Don’t worry we’ve got you covered – here are some best practices from our team:


  • Keep emergency water on hand. No matter whether you are on city or well water you must have clean, safe water on hand for you and your pets to consume if the need arises. This is something we don’t often think about, however dehydration and heat related concerns are a problem, especially in the summertime. Clean water for drinking, cleaning wounds or even hand washing should not be an added stressor in the event of a power outage or extreme weather. If you keep an emergency supply it’s best to rotate it out with fresh every 6-12 months, just as you would other food products.
  • First aid kit – First aid kits including emergency bandages, medicine and antibiotic ointment is critical. It’s also a good idea to keep a few extra items for your pet including nail clippers (they can come in handy), extra gauze, veterinary wrap tape and styptic powder. If you chose include antibiotic ointment be sure it does not have pain reliever in it as some may be toxic to pets. Be sure to also check these supplies at least every 6 months for expirations.
  • Medications & Calming Aids – Some people may choose to include a CBD calming aid on top of any prescription medications you or your pet may need. Check out options from Super Snouts!
  • Leash, Collar & ID Tag – you never know when you may need an extra leash or collar.
  • Poop Bags – easy and sanitary clean up and disposal
  • Pest Control – such as Wondercide to help keep pests for both you and your pets at bay.
  • Blankets and towels – these items are a must for any emergency preparedness kit for both you and your pets.
  • Emergency food – while it is a good idea to keep a small bag of your pet’s kibble in an emergency kit, it sometimes isn’t always feasible. And if you’re a raw or fresh food feeder you can’t necessarily just switch to kibble without digestive upset. Here are some feasible options:
    • Canned & Wet foods
      • Pros – shelf stable, hearty packaging, can be inexpensive
      • Cons – heavy, bulky, can be expensive, may need a lot to meet calorie requirement, may cause digestive upset
    • Freeze Dried Foods
      • The best part of this category is that the ‘switch’ is seamless. Most pets not only love the food due to simple ingredients – but the chance of digestive upset is pretty low no matter if you feed kibble, raw, or anything in between
      • Pros – lightweight, does not take up much space, nutrient-dense, hearty packaging, shelf-stable, easy to switch, great for picky eaters, great for sensitivities
      • Cons – may be more costly in some cases

In the context of pet food emergency preparedness for raw feeders, we suggest utilizing freeze-dried food. It is a realistic, cost-effective and nutrient-dense option that can easily be used as treats, emergency meals, or even in a pinch when you forget to thaw food or pick it up from the store! We love these because they rarely cause digestive upset, even when switched suddenly from kibble or raw.

When these are supplemented as part of your pet’s regular food, or as treats, freeze-dried can be an extremely affordable option even for the largest dogs. For small dogs, freeze-dried is often incredibly affordable, and picky dogs tend to really enjoy the texture and flavor. We’ve been incorporating more of these into our weekly rotations and used them throughout the most recent power outage with great success!

Looking for more? Check out our boredom buster ideas here: Keeping Your Pets Entertained



About the Author:

Nicole Cammack

Nicole is the founder & owner of multiple-award-winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut, USA. She has completed undergraduate work in biological sciences, business and holds an M.S. in Nutrition. Currently, Nicole is pursuing a PhD in Comparative Biomedical Sciences (Canine Nutrition/Metabolomics) at the prestigious University of Georgia in the USA.

Her background includes experience in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading figures in the human and pet health industries. Nicole has been heavily involved in police canine nutrition within the USA, helping to improve the modern care and feeding of working dogs. Her interests include working dog nutrition, raw feeding, pathogens, metabolomics, and nutrition’s relationship to disease in humans and canines. Her current research involves the exploration of the canine urinary metabolome and the relationship to diet.

Publications: Cammack, N.R., Yamka, R.M., and Adams, V.J. (2021). Low Number of Owner-Reported Suspected Transmission of Foodborne Pathogens From Raw Meat-Based Diets Fed to Dogs and/or Cats. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 8. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2021.741575.







Pandemic: Raw food Affordability & Considerations for Switching to Kibble

Many pet owners are facing shrinking budgets due to job losses, layoffs, and minimal hours. A lot of raw and canned petfood feeding households are making the switch to kibble or supplementing with kibble. For many avid raw feeders, this is a tough thing to consider. However, it doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are some things to consider:

  • Look for a lower carbohydrate kibble.  To calculate the percentage of carbohydrates, add together the percentage of protein, fat, moisture, fiber, and ash.  Commonly ash is not listed on the label, so you can estimate it to be at about 6-8%. Subtract the total from 100, and the answer is your carbohydrate content. 
  • A low carbohydrate kibble doesn’t automatically mean adequate or high-quality protein is supplied. Your dog or cat relies on total grams of protein consumed rather than an overall percentage. If you’re switching from raw to kibble or adding kibble to your pets’ raw diet reach out to pet food companies and request the following:
    • 3rd party digestibility data for the specific formula you are considering feeding. Do they conduct digestibility testing for all of their formulas? Just one? Or none?  This is important because if the food is not highly digestible, then the amount of protein is irrelevant since the animal may not be able to utilize it.
    • Typical AAFCO nutrient analysis which will tell you if they routinely analyze their formulas for adequate nutrition that meets or exceeds AAFCO standards. Over time companies average these analyses together (typical) in order to provide a profile of that food over time. Most companies don’t conduct these tests and will instead provide a “targeted analysis” which represents the nutrition of that food as formulated on paper. It may not actually represent what is in the final product – AND if the company does not provide digestibility data it may mean that those nutrients may not be absorbed or metabolized adequately.
    • Calorie ratios: specifically, protein to calorie, carbohydrate to calorie, and fat to calorie ratios. This tells you where the calories in the food are coming from and will help you determine if that food is adequate for your pets’ particular needs. This may also hint to the validity of claims on the front of the packaging.  
  • Add fresh food! Adding in fresh fruits and vegetables to your pets’ bowl, whether you feed kibble or raw can provide a lot of health benefits. Utilizing foods that may be otherwise thrown out can help to cut costs and waste as well! Fresh fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are beneficial molecules that neutralize toxic free radicals floating around in your pet’s body before they can harm healthy cells and tissue, thereby reducing oxidative stress and DNA damage.

A lot of us raw feeders choose to feed raw due to health conditions, disease prevention, and/or personal choice. While much of the evidence supporting these diets is anecdotal, there is a lot of research emerging to support these diets. Regardless, we do know there is sufficient published evidence to show the detriments of processed kibble and canned foods. For this reason, many of us worry about transitioning back. The good news is the researchers at the University of Helsinki DogRisk group have shown that feeding just 20% fresh food with processed food (i.e. kibble and canned food) reduces the incidence of inflammatory biomarkers quite significantly. 

In addition, another option to consider is the use of freeze-dried foods. Traditionally these foods have been cost-prohibitive. However, if you’re feeding commercial raw there are highly digestible and affordable brands of freeze-dried such as Nobl Pet Foods and K9 & Feline Natural. These also offer the additional benefits of shelf stability, are lightweight and easy to store or transport. 

*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to provide medical advice or replace the advice of a qualified veterinarian.

Nicole Cammack

Nicci is the owner of award-winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut. She is also the Founder & CEO of Undogmatic Inc. Her undergraduate and graduate education includes biology, chemistry, business, and nutrition. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading international figures in the human and pet health industry. She regularly lectures at national conferences, including federal, state, and municipal K9 events. Her current research involves identifying pathogenic risk factors and transmission among raw fed pets through a comprehensive worldwide survey.