May 04

Preventing Heatstroke

Preventing Heatstroke PictureAs most of you already know, dogs do not sweat through their skin.  They release heat by panting and sweat through the foot pads and nose.  As the temperature increases, it’s imperative to know if your dog is succumbing to the heat by identifying the signs of heatstroke.  Dark red gums and thick saliva are indications as well as dizziness and/or disorientation.  Excessive panting and the unwillingness to get up are also indicators.

If you have even the slightest suspicion that your dog is suffering, immediate action is necessary.   Move your dog out of the heat and away from the sun right away.  Lower the dog’s temperature with cool water by placing wet rags on the foot pads and around the head.  (DO NOT use ice or ice cold water which can cause blood vessels to constrict).  Replace the rags frequently as they warm up and avoid covering the body with rags as they may trap heat in.  Offer the dog cool water to drink but do not force it into his mouth and do not let him drink excessively.  When you believe that the dog has cooled off a bit, take him to the nearest vet as an exam will be necessary to determine whether the dog suffered any internal damage.

To avoid heatstroke from occurring in the first place:  NEVER leave your dog alone in the car.  Outside temp may be 70 degrees, but inside the car will feel like 100 degrees to your dog.  If it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot on the pavement, then it’s too hot for your dog to go for a walk.  ALWAYS have cool water available for your dog.  Note that certain breeds are more sensitive to heat especially if obese or short-nosed (brachycephalic), like Pugs and Bulldogs.  Extreme caution is needed when these dogs are exposed to heat.

As an aside, if you ever see a dog left alone in a parked car with the windows cracked (while their owner just ran into the store for “a minute”), contact the police and ask the customer service department of that store to make an announcement providing the model of the car with the license plate number.  Stay with the dog until the owner or police arrive.  It takes only minutes for a dog to succumb to heatstroke in a vehicle.

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May 01

The Senior Pup

senior dogGrowing older is just a fact of life for all of us and that includes our pups.  Lessening the possibilities of illness and pain that may arise with age are topics that I enjoy researching and sharing.  As many as 20% of all dogs will develop arthritis as they mature, and preventing them from hurting shouldn’t have to rely on pharmaceuticals that can lead to other issues.  Most of the prescription drugs given for this ailment have been shown to have negative effects on the kidney and liver.  These drugs after all are toxins and a body’s organs have a hard time eliminating chemical compounds.

Boswellia is a botanical medicine and has been used for thousands of years.  There are over 400 clinical studies behind its use and it has been recognized for containing anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory properties.  It also appears to be fast-acting, which is a definite plus when experiencing pain, along with having no adverse side effects associated with the mainstream drugs.  Boswellia, along with Bromelain and Turmeric, seem to be gaining a lot of attention in treating humans and our pets.  A lot of remedies being marketed today are adding these herbal ingredients finding that these herbs will not cause any further damage to cartilage that many conventional anti-inflammatories do and have no side effects with long-term administration.  Another bonus is that Boswellia helps to preserve the structural integrity of the cartilage and does not seem to cause any stomach irritation or joint degradation.  This herb has been shown to help maintain smooth and comfortable joint movement that can deteriorate with aging.  If you suspect your pup has begun to experience joint stiffness, Boswellia is an herb to consider.

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Apr 29

The Overly Eager Pup

Excited DogEver get the urge for something and you simply cannot wait to fulfill that desire?  Our canines can suffer from the same impulses.  The need to run out the door as quickly as possible.  To jump on every living thing that walks through the front door.  And to bark at every passerby that dares to enter the field of vision.  How do you control the urges that sometimes take hold of our furry friends?  Controlling impulses can be a little tricky, especially when you have a very excitable dog.  Teaching a canine that calm can be rewarding is essential in educating the dog on how to restrain certain inclinations.  Dogs do not understand that self-control is necessary in daily life and due to the nature of our hectic schedules, our canines are apt to get caught up in the frenzied atmosphere that we have created.

Although this may sound a bit contradictory, one of the simplest ways to teach your dog to remain calm is to purposely get him excited.  Initiate a game of catch or “go find it.”  After some play time when you believe the dog has released a little energy, it’s time to go to work.  Continue with play tossing the ball or just running around, and then stop.  Stand completely still and wait for the dog to settle down, place in a sit or down position, and reward.  This will take a little time and patience as the dog will wonder why on earth the play has stopped.  But just stand perfectly still, wait for the dog to comply with your request to sit, and reward with initiating play again.  Repeat the above procedure a few times until the dog begins to understand the concept that calm behavior is rewarded with more play.

Let’s also not forget to request that the dog comply with all instructions before getting what he wants.  He wants to go outside – ask him to sit at the door before opening it.  He wants to eat – ask him to sit before placing the food down.  If he wants to greet the new visitor at your door, ask him to sit before the new person enters.

Teaching a dog self-control is like teaching a child to not give in to every whim……compare it to you learning not to indulge in every desired piece of chocolate!  Time, patience and consistency in teaching your pup to remain calm when overwhelming excitement seems to be the foremost emotion, will prove valuable in the most chaotic of households.

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