May 18

What’s Water Intoxication?

Dog and Lawn SprinklerDon’t you just love watching a dog enjoy a cool swim?  Or run along the shore of the ocean or lake?  It’s always just a little concerning to me however when the dog is constantly going under or being thrown a ball to retrieve in the water.  All that water going into the dog’s body.  It reminds me of sitting in the bathtub for too long and getting wrinkles on your fingers.  Is there such a thing as over-consumption of water?  Yes, there is….and it can be deadly.

While water intoxication is rare, it can result in low sodium levels called hyponatremia.  Dogs higher at risk for this condition are those gulping down too much, too fast, such as when retrieving a tennis ball from the lake or guzzling from the lawn sprinkler or garden hose.  What happens in this instance is that the body tries to process more water than it can handle.  The presence of all that water dilutes bodily fluids posing a dangerous shift in electrolyte balance and depleting sodium levels.  As sodium maintains blood pressure, nerve and muscle function, when the levels drop, cells (including brain cells) start to fill with water which in turn cause the cells to swell.  Symptoms of water intoxication include loss of coordination, lethargy, bloating, vomiting, glazed eyes and excessive salivation.  Breathing can become difficult, and loss of consciousness, seizures, coma and death can occur.  (Note that excessive salt water intake can cause salt poisoning, hypernatremia).

If your dog loves the water, be sure to monitor his intake and activity.  If he’s taking in too much fluid, request that he take a break and rest for a while.  Water intoxication is a quick-acting progression and can be life-threatening.  If you suspect your dog has any of the above symptoms and has just consumed a large amount of water, get him to your veterinarian immediately.


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May 11

My Dog’s Smarter Than Yours!

Dog Reading BookWhy is my friend’s dog learning much quicker than my dog?  They are both the same age and learning the same commands?  There are many training methods and quick-to books that offer advice on instructing your dog, but it can be totally mind-boggling.  Do I use the clicker method or do I just use cue words?  First and foremost, all dogs are different regardless of breed or age.  Like humans, they have different personalities and character traits.  Compare this to your children.  They each absorb information differently.  Some will acquire the material more easily by watching others and some will gain their knowledge through text.  So just because you trained your older dog using a clicker, doesn’t mean that your younger dog is going to give you the same results, even if they are the same breed.

With a little groundwork and consideration, you should understand the traits of your dog’s breed.  An example is that hounds have great noses (olfactory senses) and he’ll learn faster and more easily by utilizing his keen sense.  Just don’t base his learning on what kind of breed he is.  Paying close attention to how your dog reacts when being taught is an indicator of what he’s capable of learning.  Way too often, people approach dog training with “what’s good for one is good for all.”  Or they’ll take advice from a friend who trained their dog with no problem.  The more productive way to train any dog is to know that dog’s disposition and temperament just by watching.  By observing the dog’s behavior and reactions to normal activities will provide you with a world of information (not written in any book) that will allow you to make the determinations in what is the best way to teach your dog.  Letting your dog know that he is being provided understanding and tolerance instead of cynicism will deliver a happier and healthier pet, and one who is more eager to learn.

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May 06

Much Needed Space

Dogs-Too-CloseEver meet a “close” talker?  The person who has to stand right on top of you, in front of your face and so close you begin to shake violently because he’s consuming all the air around you?  AHHHHH!  Seriously, you don’t have to stand so close to cause me to hyperventilate.  I can hear you just fine from 3 feet away.  I need my personal space like I need oxygen…..and so do dogs.  I’ve talked about the importance of knowing body language before as this is how our pups communicate with us.  A dog will either invite you into their personal area or ask you to stay away.  It’s that simple.

Each dog has its own individual space restrictions that you may gain access to, but if you surpass that area a dog can feel threatened.  Take different types of people as an example.  City dwellers often find themselves in close quarters such as a bus or subway and have no choice but to be on top of one another.  Or at a crowded ballpark or concert.  Country folk on the other hand can live miles away from their nearest neighbor hoping never to run out of sugar.  Our dogs are a lot like us when it comes to meeting and greeting people.  Maybe a little wary at first, hesitant in being too friendly, and scouring the person for any telltale sign of displeasure.  Of course, there are those dogs (and people) who just love everything and everybody, but for others social interactions may cause uneasiness with the unknown.

As my Daisy girl is getting older, I’ve noticed that she sometimes will warn others that they have entered her personal boundary.  It seems that her comfort zone is increasing in diameter with age.  She has warned the cats, Bailey, and humans that they have gotten too close and need to make a quick departure.  For species that don’t speak the English language, they certainly make it very clear what they will and will not tolerate.  You just have to pay attention……and listen closely.

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