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The Singapore Dog Lifestyle Blog

Category: Health (Page 1 of 3)

Best dog harness for road and water safety

I’m going to talk about 2 safety harnesses for dogs today. The Sleepypod Clickit Sport Untility dog harness and the Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat. Because safety is important, and it hit me really hard when we got into an accident right before New Years eve.

Best dog harness for road and water safety

Donna and Mickey in a comfort cab

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dog core vaccine & leptospirosis vaccines

Dog Vaccine & Leptospirosis – must read for dog owners!

5 March 2017 Update: Separate Leptospirosis Vaccine is now available at some vet clinics! Find out more here!

leptospira lcan lgrip lict lpom

The leptospirosis vaccine administered to Donna contained the Leptospira Canicola – Grippotyphosa – Icterohaemorrhagiae – Pomona Bacterin, also know as lcan lgrip lict lpom. More about them below in this article.


Original article written June 7

Preface Vaccination is a confusing subject. We read on US websites like this that we should not vaccinate annually. Yet our local neighbourhood vet sends us yearly reminders to schedule Donna for her annual vaccination. And I actually didn’t even know diseases Donna was being vaccinated for until I started researching for this article.

I finally got around to speaking with three different vet clinics to get a clearer picture of vaccination that I feel more comfortable and confident to write about and share with you here. This article has also been read by Dr Joanna Paul from Creature Clinic just to make sure that I have been accurate and you can trust this article.

This article was written just weeks before a suspected lepto outbreak occurred at a local doggy swimming pool. Thereafter, news articles carried vet advice to keep pets vaccinated. Vaccination is an important topic that we should know more about, and I hope you will find this post, written from the perspective of living in Singapore useful for you.

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titer test singapore

Canine Titer Test Cost and Where to get it in Singapore

For the past two years, Donna has undergone the titer test and missed her yearly vaccination.

Canine Titer Test Cost and Where to get it in Singapore

The essential or Core Vaccines that used to be recommended to be administered yearly.

Core vaccines used to be recommended annually for dogs to protect them from diseases like parvovirus, distemper and adenovirus, which causes hepatitis. But the 2015 Global Veterinary Community (WSAVA) Owner/Breeder guidelines says, ‘for the core vaccines, the Vaccination Guidelines Group recommends re-vaccination at either 6 months or 1 year of age, then not more often than every 3 years

Canine Titer Test Cost and Where to get it in Singapore

This is because “dogs that have responded to vaccination with …core vaccines maintain a solid immunity … for many years in the absence of any repeat vaccination”. Since they can maintain immunity for 3 years or longer, our dogs don’t actually need annual vaccinations!

So if you wanted to check if your dog still has antibodies from her last vaccination booster shot to continue to give her immune protection against parvovirus, adenovirus and distemper, here are the vets where you can get it done. :)

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5 things to know about Yogurt & Probiotics for Dogs – Best Brands to Buy

probiotic-live-cultures-yogPlain yogurt is a very yummy and useful “people” food for dog. But there are some many different brands and categories of yogurt in the supermarket aisle, sometimes I have trouble picking for for Donna and I. Here’s what I learnt and  some  yogurt products I now share with Donna on a regularly basis. :)

In this article, we discuss

  1. Yoghurt is good for dogs with upset tummies

  2. Look for yoghurt with Live and Active Cultures and the *CFU stated

  3. Plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt?

  4. How much yoghurt can I give the dog?

  5. Yoghurt vs Probiotics supplements

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How to Cut Your Dog’s Black Nails – Stress-free Grooming Tips

How to cut dog black nailsHow short should a dog’s nails be? If you can hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor at home, they are too long.

Nail cutting is essential because “nails that are too long and resting on the ground can affect the dog’s posture and their movement”, says Dr Leslie Woodcock DVM.

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Cracked or Burnt Dog’s Paws from Hot Pavement – How to Prevent & Treat

how to care for dog cracked paws, burnt paws, hot pavement, musher's secret paw waxPaws up if you are a pet parent concerned about the general health and fitness of your dog! Because today, we are going to talk about how to prevent burnt paws on a hot day and the treatment if your dog has burnt paws!

And now the key points are: 

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How to Test if your Dog is Allergic to Chicken & other Food – Dog Health series

dog allergy

Let’s dispel some food and allergy myths
I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Simon Quek BSc. BVMS MRCVS. at the Pet Expo recently. He was there to give a talk on Environmental and Food Allergies for Dogs. I am also privileged to be able to consult with Dr Joanna Paul, a small animal veterinarian in Melbourne, Australia. She runs the blog – Creature Clinic. ;)
This post is a result of talking to both of them :) 

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Reading the PSI and PM2.5 data on Singapore haze


  1. PSI measures overall air quality and PM2.5 measures the concentration of smaller particles that can settle in the lungs.
  2. The published PSI and PM2.5 values are 24hr averages and cannot accurately predict the level of air pollution in relation to the haze for our decision making when it comes to our immediate activities.
  3. We can perhaps use the 3hr PSI averages to draw a closer inference on the extent of PM2.5 in the air.
  4. The 24hr PM2.5 report by regions can then help us identify if we are in a “safer” or less “safe” zone for outdoor activities, but should be read together with the 3hr PSI average. The PSI 3hr average (not the 24 hour PSI) gives us a closer assessment of how bad the haze is across the country.
  5. During the haze period, pets may be susceptible to respiratory problems, environment allergies, etc. Be especially careful to monitor senior pets, and pets with known heart or respiratory problems.

Updated 26 Aug 2015:
You can now find the hourly PM2.5 numbers on NEA website here and also on aqicn.org here.
You can find the 24 and 3-hr PSI charts here. You can find historical PSI readings here.

The following article explains the above points in greater detail.

Based on prior experiences with the haze, we know that there are two readings we look at when deciding when it is safe for dog to go out for a walk. These are the PSI index and the PM2.5 index.

Both are important. PSI measures overall air quality and PM2.5 measures the concentration of smaller particles that can settle in the lungs.

PM2.5 measures particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres, about 25 to 100 times thinner than human hair…. Because the PM2.5 travels deeper into the lungs AND because the PM2.5 is made up of things that are more toxic (like heavy metals and cancer causing organic compounds), PM2.5 can have worse health effects.

The NEA (National Environment Agency) has updated their webpages. What they had last year has been changed to reflect their new way of measurement this year.

With effect from 1 April 2014, Singapore will move to an integrated air quality reporting index, where PM2.5 will be incorporated into the current Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) as its sixth pollutant parameter.

PSI is computed based on 24-hour average of PM2.5 concentration levels, among other pollutants. PM2.5 is the dominant pollutant during haze episodes.

The PSI will therefore reflect a total of six pollutants – sulphur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM10) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone (O3). – NEA

The thing is, based on an old channelnewsasia news report last year, we learnt that a PM2.5 value of 40 and above is not safe for dog to venture out. However, in the new computation for the PSI index that incorporates PM2.5, the break point set for the moderate range is 13-55. I suppose the range is expected to average out in the end, but I am rather uncomfortable with the idea that there is always the possibility that I might be out walking the dog in PM2.5 – 50 air. Paranoid much? :P

Now I’m no expert in the area, but since I am uncomfortable with the information I have. I thought it would be better to continue to look at PM2.5 numbers by themselves, despite their inclusion into the PSI measurement. At the same time I decided I should further verify if an average PM2.5 value of 40 is still a good benchmark, since the breakpoint for that average to occur appears to be set at 55.

So exactly what PM2.5 levels are considered safe?

Imagine my surprise when I read a 2013 Sydney Morning Herald report that says there is no such thing.

The evidence comes from 17 high-quality investigations carried out among 312,000 people in nine European countries, according to the paper in The Lancet Oncology.

Unexpectedly, the new study found a cancer risk at every level, and confirmed that the higher the level, the greater the risk.

Every increase of five microgrammes per cubic metre of PM2.5 drove the risk of lung cancer up by 18 per cent.

No safe level of air pollution, smh.com.su

But before we start to freak out, let’s remind ourselves that we are in the short term exposure category (hours and days) where haze is concerned.

Healthy children and adults have not been reported to suffer serious effects from short-term exposures, although they may experience temporary minor irritation when particle levels are elevated. – epa.gov


Air quality standards

Of course life has to gone on, so standards have been implemented as a guide as to what can be considered clean air quality for longer term exposures (years).

EU air quality standards limit … PM2.5 exposure to (a yearly average of) 25 microgrammes per cubic metre.

The UN’s World Health Organisation has guidelines recommending annual exposure limits at 10 microgrammes per cubic metre for PM2.5

Singapore‘s annual target for PM2.5 is also 10 microgrammes per cubic metre

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‘s standards for average annual PM2.5 level is 10 to 15 microgrammes per cubic metre.


How does our air compare with the air quality standards?

Since our PSI reports are based on 24hr and 3 hr averages, let’s look at the standards for these.

Singapore follow’s WHO’s interim target for 24hr PM2.5: 25 microgrammes per cubic metre 

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency‘s standards for 24hr PM2.5 is 35  microgrammes per cubic metre 

And if we were to compare these standards to the trends monitoring the slightly hazy conditions we have been experiencing in the past week:-Graph extracted from NEA website last night and this morning – 30 Sep

24hr PM2.5 averages appear to still fall within the limits (based on the standards established by Singapore and US EPA) for all the zones except for the West regions. The air quality is described as moderate, not unhealthy, so depending on the individual you could choose to worry more or worry less.

If it were me, I would be more careful about taking the dog out for long walks during this periods, especially if I live in the West. I probably would be reluctant to take the dog out for the day if the PM2.5 goes beyond 40, and only for short walks when the PM2.5 hovers between 30 to 40 consistently like we are seeing in the west.

West regions for air quality reporting

Lim Chu Kang, Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Panjang, Tuas, Jurong East, Jurong West, Jurong Industrial Estate, Bukit Batok, Hillview, West Coast, Clementi

NEA FAQ page


The difference between the 3hr-average and the 24hr-average PSI

Bearing in mind that the PM2.5 numbers are averages of hourly readings taken over 24 hours, these are only indicative and may not be the best numbers to refer to for up to the hour decisions like “Should I take dog out to run for an hour now?

If we were to look at the 3hr PSI readings, we can see that the average hourly readings do show a greater fluctuation over time.

 And here I’ve overlapped the 24hr readings with the 3hr readings, so it’s easier to see what I am talking about. The 24 hr PSI shows stable moderate levels around the range of 70 and above for the period being monitored across the 5 zones, but the 3hr averages show that nationally there are bigger fluctuations across the day.

Particularly around the 5pm-8pm hours where dogs get their evening walks, the 3hr PSI can actually be pretty high compared to the 24hr PSI being reported by zones.


What is the implication on the 24hr PM2.5?

Extrapolating this to PM2.5 levels, which are the dominant pollutant during haze episodes, is it logical for us to infer that the PM2.5 levels could be similarly inflated if we have the corresponding 3hr readings, instead of the more stable 24hr readings?


So what can we do?

In that sense, the average PSI reading over 3 hrs would give us a more realistic assessment of air quality for decision making over our immediate activities. This is particularly in the case of senior dogs or dogs with known heart or respiratory problems like pugs and bulldogs. They have higher risks and can experience difficulties and require vet attention, even with short term exposures.

Unfortunately, the NEA haze website does not give us the 3hr view for PM2.5 broken down into different zones. So for the truly concerned, it probably makes sense to refer to both graphs now and then and make your own assumptions and conclusions from there.

The two graphs discussed are updated on this NEA page – 24hr PSI, 24hr PM2.5 readings, 3hr PSI readings Trend Graphs. This page is no longer available on NEA website.  Updated 26 Aug 2015.

Updated 26 Aug 2015:
You can now find the hourly PM2.5 numbers on NEA website here and also on aqicn.org here.
You can find the 24 and 3-hr PSI charts here. You can find historical PSI readings here.


Continue reading: Three ways to keep dog safe from haze

stay safe stay healthy


Disclaimer: I am not an expert. And I am just sharing my thought processes here as part of my trying to understand the information on the haze. I will happily be corrected if you are an expert in the area and have relevant advise for us pet owners to understand how better to react to responsible pet ownership during the haze. :)



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Dog Teeth Dental Scaling under General Anaesthesia, is it Safe? – Dog Health Series

Donna after dental cleaning.We are fastidious about Donna getting a regular health check with the vet at least once a year. The last time we were there, the vet checked her teeth and suggested we send her in for dental scaling in six months.

This post talks about the experience and in detail why GA is necessary. But first, here are quick FAQs if you are looking for quick answers :P

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