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Dr. Jason Nicholas (Dr. J)

dr jason nicholas
As President and Chief Medical Officer of Preventive Vet, Dr. J is a man on a mission. He’s a dog-and-cat lover, husband, father of two and former ER and general practice veterinarian obsessed with keeping your pets safe, healthy and out of harm’s way. Just like Preventive Vet, the pet-expert collective he founded in 2011, Dr. J strives for a world where all pet owners are empowered to keep their pets happy, healthy and free from preventable suffering.
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Recent Posts

Is Feeding a Grain-Free Food Hurting Your Dog's Heart?


Grain-free diets for dogs have become all the buzz in recent years with lots of dog food companies, bloggers, and pet lovers extolling them as the cure for all that ails dogs. Now, I’m not going to get into all of my thoughts on this trend. (The board-certified veterinary nutritionists at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine have already done that in these articles on their petfoodology blog.) What I will say though is that it tends to be (emotional) marketing that's driving the grain-free pet food craze, rather than science and an actual medical need for excluding grains from the diets of dogs — even those with food allergies. But again, that discussion is outside the scope of this particular article. 

The purpose of this article is to ensure that, if you have chosen to feed your dog a grain-free diet, and especially if it's a food that contains peas, chickpeas, lentils, or potatoes in place of the grains, you are aware of the newly recognized possible link between the feeding of a grain-free diet and the development of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), a very serious form of heart disease in dogs. DCM is characterized by a distention and thinning out of the muscular walls of the heart, causing it to be a less effective pump to move blood throughout the body. As you might imagine, that’s not a good thing! Dogs with DCM are at great risk of progressing to heart failure. You can learn more about the condition in this article from the good folks in the cardiology department at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. 

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Topics: Dog Safety, Heart Murmurs, Foods that aren't good for dogs, Foods that are good for dogs, Dog Food, Heart Problems, Heart Failure, Food Allergies

How to Keep Your Dog Cool When It's Hot Outside


Tips to help your dog keep their cool

When the temperatures rise, you may be able to stay cool by sweating or drinking a nice glass of iced tea, but your dog isn't so lucky. Not only should your dog not drink tea :) — or any caffeinated beverage, for that matter — but they also really don't have the ability to sweat very well. Dogs mostly cool themselves off by panting.

So, how can you help keep your pup comfortable and safe when the mercury starts to rise? Fret not, this article contains some tips, tricks, and cool (pun intended) product suggestions that can help.

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Topics: Dog Safety, pet safety tips, Summer Pet Safety Tips, Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stress, Heat Stroke, Heat Stroke Risk Factors

How to Prevent Foxtail Injuries and Remove Foxtails From Your Dog


Until you have a dog, you’ll probably marvel at rolling fields of grass at sunset. But once you have a dog, that bucolic scene can look more like a hotbed of potential pain and injury from foxtails (also called “grass seed awns”).

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Topics: Dog Training, Dog Walking, Children walking dogs, Dog Leash, Retractable Leash, Grass Seeds, Grass Seed Awn, Dog Booties, What's a foxtail look like, Foxtail, Hunting Dogs, Dog face protection

What Kind of Peanut Butter is Safe for Dogs?


For the most part, peanut butter can be awesome for dogs and most dogs LOVE it! Peanut butter is great as an occasional "high value" treat, it’s useful for hiding pills, and it can even be used to distract your dog while giving them a bath or trimming their nails.

While most peanut butter brands are safe for dogs, not all types of peanut butter are safe and not all amounts of peanut butter are safe, either.

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Topics: Emergencies, Dog Health, Xylitol Dogs, Xylitol, Pancreatitis, Diabetes, Toxicity in dogs, Poison control, Blog, Dog Treats, Seizures, Safe pet treats, Peanut butter, Hypoglycemia, Hepatitis

10 Everyday Activities That Can Land Your Dog in the Vet or ER

 
It’s been said that what you don’t know can’t hurt you, which is a silly thing to say, especially if you’re talking about your dog.

If you’ve read anything on Preventive Vet before, you’ll know that some of the biggest dangers to your dog are the things that you're not aware of yet. After all, you can't prevent what you're not aware of!

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Topics: pet safety tips, Xylitol, Xylitol Products, Chewing, Pet Suffocation, Chip Bags, Dog toys, puppy proofing

Popular Dog Chews That Are Actually Dangerous to Dogs


Dogs have an innate desire and need to chew. Unfortunately, they’re not always great at picking the best things
to chew on. This is where you come in. 

It can sometimes feel like there are as many types of chews and chew toys as there are dogs to chew them. And just about everyone has a personal pick for their dog, no matter what they hear to the contrary.

The truth is, there are some types of chews and chew toys that are best avoided if you want to keep your dog safe. Even if you decide that you still want to give your dog the following chews and toys, you should at least know the inherent dangers and risks.

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Topics: pet safety tips, Chewing, Playing Fetch, Dog toys

Finding a Boarding Facility or Pet Sitter for Dogs: Where to Start and What to Ask


Bringing a dog into your life often means that trips out of town can become a little more complicated. Sometimes you can’t bring your dog with you, sometimes you don’t want to bring them with you, and some dogs simply don’t want to go with you — at least not all the time. Where do you leave your dog when you’re away? This is usually a tough question, especially if you can’t find someone you know who has the time (or experience) to care for your pet. On the other hand, Internet pet sitting services have made it easier than ever to find a sitter, but not all sitters are created equal. And many people prefer to board their dogs at their vet or with another reputable facility.

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Topics: Dogs, travel with pets, holiday safety, Travel, pet sitting, treatment authorization, pet health, pet sitter, dog boarding

Potty Training Problems for Puppies and How to Prevent Accidents


Potty training is certainly no walk in the park — though it may involve some! Every puppy is different, and everybody’s living situation and schedule is different, too. Just as there’s no “one size fits all” recipe for potty training puppies, there's also a whole range of potential reasons why your pup might not be picking up on this important life skill as quickly as you were expecting (and hoping).

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Topics: Puppy Training, Puppy, Dog, Potty Training, new puppy, puppy tips

Playing Tug of War Without Encouraging Aggression in Dogs


Does tug of war make dogs aggressive?

You might have heard that playing tug of war with your dog, especially a puppy, puts them on the path toward aggression. If you’ve heard this, you’ve heard wrong. 

Playing tug of war with a dog will not necessarily cause them to become aggressive. How you play tug of war might lead to aggressive behaviors, but it’s remarkably easy to stay on the right path. Why would you want to? Well, playing tug of war with your dog can be extremely beneficial for both of you.

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Topics: Play & Environment, Dogs, Dog Behavior, Dog toys, aggression in dogs, how to play with your dog

Teaching Your Dog to Play Fetch (and Return)


There are three types of dogs in this world: dogs that don’t care about fetch, dogs that fetch but don’t retrieve, and Labradors.

Unless you have a Labrador or live in a perfect 1950s Pleasantville, (in which case you probably have a Labrador) you’ve most likely had to face the crushing reality that a lot of dogs don’t have the fetch instinct. 

Plenty of dogs will happily run after a thrown toy, but then refuse to bring it back — or they might pick up the toy and make you chase them around just for funsies. Other dogs are more interested in the hair between their toes than the fetch toy you’re trying to get them excited about. 

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Topics: Dog Safety, Loose-leash Walking, Behavior & Training, Dog, Dog Walking, Dog Leash

Photo Credit: Preventive Vet

Please do not ask emergency or other specific medical questions about your pets in the blog comments. As an online informational resource, Preventive Vet is unable to and does not provide specific medical advice or counseling. A thorough physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinary-patient-client relationship is required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet is having an emergency or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic medical conditions, please contact or visit your veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

Please share your experiences and stories, your opinions and feedback about this blog, or what you've learned that you'd like to share with others.