How to keep the fur from flying!

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Ahhh, the signs of spring. Robins , buds on the trees.. Grass greening..LOTS of shedding… how do you manage it?

While, you could try spinning it up to knit (yes, this is done) but most of us are looking for a more simple solution.

If you do nothing else, you must brush, brush ,brush…but be sure to use the RIGHT brush and techniques. Choose a brush that is designed for your dog‘s type of coat, and use a very soft brush for your cat.

Use deep, firm strokes that penetrate the coat-don’t just brush the surface.

Brush head to tail, then reverse direction to loosen any hairs you may have missed. Finish off by going head to tail again.

Use a static free brush if brushing against the grain turns into a “shocking” experience.

After brushing thoroughly, switch to a comb or a “rake”. A rake is a big comb with a handle. This makes it easier to grasp than a comb and makes the grooming experience more comfortable for you.

Use a rubber curry comb (go in the direction of the hair with the curry comb).
Use a shedding blade

Use a “grooming glove” if your pet isn’t keen on standing still for a brushing-maybe he’ll think he is just getting petted..
Comb your dog after bathing in warm water. This helps loosen the hair.
If the hair is seriously matted, mats are easier to remove when the hair is wet. Don’t let matted hair dry though-it will get even tougher to get the mats out.

Apply a hair conditioner or “creme rinse”. This makes the hair smoother and easier to brush.

Use a spray on/leave in conditioner between baths.

Regular care can make your dog’s life and yours much more comfortable, and when you are complaining about the cold weather next winter? Be glad your dog is not shedding!

Anal Sac Swelling, Infections, and Abscesses

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Almost every mammal has them….so what are they?

Anal glands (also called anal sacs) are located on either side of the anus (where stool leaves the body), and are usually paired off between the muscles that control the passage of feces from the body. They have a purpose, as a calling card if you will, as they are usually emptied by the stool as it passes out of the body, leaving a scent that allows the animal to identify other members of it’s species. They can also be emptied suddenly with stress, although this is not the norm.

If the glands fail to empty, they can become impacted and swollen. WIth continued blockage they can become infected, which requires veterinary care.

Signs of discomfort are usually “scooting”, when the dog drags it’s hindquarters around the floor (or your furniture), may attempt to lick its bottom, or “chase his tail”. They may also be uncomfortable when the dog is sitting….my dog had an infected anal sac, and she was restless and kept shifting her weight when she sat down).

When the glands are impacted, they can be expressed by a handler or groomer. The easiest method is externally.  If you place your thumb and index finger at 5 and 7 o’clock in relation to the anus, you will feel the swollen glands.

To express them, place a paper towel, a tissue, or a cleansing wipe over the anus. Have someone restrain the dog in a standing position. Lift the base of the tail firmly, and press inward or upward towards the rectum, using your index finger and thumb. The discharge may be pale colored, whitish, tan or yellow in coloration, and it may be thick or thin. It may also “ooze” out  in small amounts, or “gush” so be prepared. No matte what, it is not a pleasant substance and the odor is strong, so you don’t want to wear it! When I have had to do it, I did it in the tub so it was easy to clean up).

If the discharge is brown, gray, bloody, has pus in it, or there is a hole in the skin over the gland (this is a ruptured abscess) a vet must treat the dog, as antibiotics and possibly “lancing” an abscess may be needed.

If the do has recurrent infections, there is a surgical treatment that may be recommended by your vet, but like any other procedure, it can carry risks..including fecal incontinence, scarring and may cause blockage of the rectum, or a “fistula” in which continuous draining may occur, so the decision to go this route is not a decision to be made lightly (like another other procedures).

What can be done to prevent impactions? There is no simple answer. You can try increasing the amount of fiber in your dogs diet with commercally made products such as “Scoot Bars” or vegetables to increase the size of your dog’s stool (to increase the pressure on the gland as the dog moves his bowels, or change to a dog food with a higher fiber content, but there is no “magic bullet”. Probably the best thing you can do is routinely checking the dog’s glands (it can be a routine part o f grooming) and managing them on a timely basis. Routinely expressing the glands is not recommended if they are not impacted, and could lead to other problems.

Releasing from a Command

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Releasing from a Command 

When you dog has completed a stationary command such as “sit”, “stay” or “settle”, you want him to know a “release command” that tells him that the behavior is completed, and he is free to move around again. You can use any word you want, but don’t pick one that is used frequently in the course of normal conversation or that is used as a “praise’ word.

Have your dog take one of the stationary commands. Then, when he has stayed in that position for 5 seconds, say the word you have chosen….encourage your dog to move around-this can be done by clapping our hands, petting your dog, or moving away so he follows you. You don’t need to use a treat, because his treat is being allowed to move around freely. Like all other training be sure to practice this frequently as a normal part of your daily interaction.

Loss of balance….

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Ever have those moments when you feel like the earth is moving below your feet? It can happen to your pet as well, except that tell can’t tell you, so you should be familiar with the symptoms.

This can be very frightening, as it could look like your pet is having a stroke (we had this happen with Bessie one Sunday night). Regardless of the cause, your pet needs treatment, but fortunately the cause can be very treatable. Whenever your dog shows changes in behavior you should contact your vet….these are just guidelines to protect your pet until you can provide a get expert advice.

When your dog is suffering with a change in balance, he may show a change in behavior, drool, or fall to one side; they may also move in circles. These symptoms may be accompanied by vomiting.

Common reasons for a loss of balance can be an ear infection or the presence of a foreign object so be sure to check his ears for selling, redness, or debris; these may indicate an infection, which should be treated to prevent possible hearing loss or infection which could spread to the brain.

 Other potential causes are a brain disease or infection that affects the balance center of the brain (see Idiopathic Peripheral Vestibular Disease). IPVD can resolve on its own, but over several weeks, but again, a diagnosis should be made by your vet.

If your pet is showing these symptoms,the most important thing you can do is to protect him from injury, so ensure he does not fall down the stairs, through open windows (yes, it happens), or from balconies or decks. Don’t let him roam freely outdoors. You should not attempt to self-treat if you suspect he has an infection, nor should you attempt to remove a deeply imbedded object from the ear. You should not use drops in the ear unless your vet has recommended that you do so.

And by the way, we never figured out why it happened in Bessie but it has never happened again. Another frightening and expensive night at animal hospital!

Common Household Poisons

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The week of March 17th is “National Poison Prevention Week,  and poisoning can happen to any pet at anytime, even from products around our house that we may or may not even think about.   And since dogs “do the darndest things, they may be exposed to some of these products with good intention onthe part of the owner, intentional poisoning or abuse, by products left around the garage or driveway, or of course, the good old garbage.  What are the most common household poisons? Read on!

Foods such as chocolate, onions, moldy cheese, raisins and grapes. If your dog ingests any of these, call your vet or poison control hotline.

Alkaline household cleanser such a solvents and paint strippers. the dog may walk into spilled products, or an owner may unknowingly may use them to remove paint from fur. They can cause inflammation of the kin, vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, or ulcers on the tongue. If you suspect the dog has had exposure to these products, DO NOT INDUCE Vomiting..what burned on the way down will burn on the way up!. If the dog’s skin has been exposed wash with soap and water.

Insecticides with “chlorinated hydrocarbons”…where are these found? Believe it or not, in concentrated insecticide rinses  and flea collars, as well as mothballs. they can cause restlessness, agitation, “twitching”, seizures, excessive salivation, coma, and death. If skin exposure has occurred, wash the fur with soap and water.

Organophosphate insectcides: found in insecticidal sprays,, shampoos, and flea collars. Can cause drooling, respiratory distress, frequent urination and defecation, and muscle tremors. Thoroughly wash your dog with soap and water

Warfarin rodenticide: dog can eat the poison or a rodent that has been poisoned (and did you know, that “coumadin”, a common blood “thinner” is warfarin?).Because it “thins the blood” or inhibits clotting it can cause bleeding gums and bruising to the skin. The the dog could bleed to death. If the product has been recently ingested, induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide.

Strychnine rodentcide: used as a rodent bait and occasionally in intentional poisoning. Can cause stiffness and seizures and can lead to death within 1 hour of ingestion. induce vomiting immediately

Slug and snail bait (metaldehyde): Some dogs like the taste (go figure) and may eat it deliberately. Can lead to tremors, drooling, coma, or death. If recently ingested, induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide.

Antifreeze (ethylene glycol): this can lea from car radiators or be spilled when being added to a radiator. dogs love the taste of this, but is can lead to unsteady or wobbly gait, seizures, vomiting, collapse, coma, and death. if recently ingested, induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide.

Aspirin: sometimes owners give this to a dog with good intention to manage pain, but it can lead to appetite loss, depression, and vomiting. If you dog is in pain contact your vet for pain management options.Also unsafe are cold remedies, Advil (Ibuprofen, and Tylenol (acetaminophen).

Lead and other heavy metals such as zinc. Some dogs chew everything, so chewing on flakes old pain, fishing weights made of lead, old pipes, or batteries can expose your dog to lead poisoning. Initial sins may be vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal pain, staggering and unsteady gait, and paralysis. Induce vomiting if you suspect lead has been infested.

Illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and although not illegal, alcohol. (not that anyone has any of those around-be honest with your vet if you suspect your pet has had exposure to these products).  The can lead to lack of coordination, agitation, fear and biting, and dilated pupils.

Sedatives and antidepressants : dog may have accidental exposure or been administered intentionally.. Can lead to depression, staggering gait, coma, and death. Induce vomiting.

With any possible exposure to a toxic substance, always contact poison control (1-888-426-4435) or contact your vet immediately!   As a general guideline for treatment of potential poisoning, you should not induce vomiting if:

  • the animal is having difficulty breathing
  • having seizures, convulsions, or “fits”
  • is not conscious
  • has a history of bloat (you will know if your dog has had this)
  • a slow heart rate
  • if the toxin is likely to be a caustic, acidic, or petroleum based product
  • if the object the dog ate was pointed or sharp and puncture the dogs intestinal tract (I had a dog eat a wooden Teriyaki skewer once, luckily he survived with veterinary care)
  • or the product information says not to induce vomiting.

If you believe inducing vomiting is appropriate, use a 3% Hydrogen Peroxide solution of 1 teaspoon for very 10 pounds of body weight. This can be repeated up to three times, allowing 15 to 2 minutes between administrations.

When calling, the more information  you can provide the better, so if you know:

  • The name of the poison
  • how much the animal ate or was exposed to
  • when it happened
  • your dogs vital signs(only you know what the normal breathing rate and pulse is for  your dog), temperature, and the color of the membranes (the color of your dogs gums)
  • approximate weight of the pet.

The life you save just might be your best friend’s!

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Getting your dog’s Attention

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Now this seems like a simple place to begin, but is anything in life easy?

Like anything else in training, you need to start in a distraction free area. As with all of our training, we want to teach with positive reinforcement, so be sure to be in a good mood, have lots of great tasting (and smelling treats), and an area that is free from distractions. So, let us begin….

Start by standing close to your dog (but not in front of him). Only say his name once, and as soon as he looks at you reinforce his attention with a treat. One of the things you don’t want to do at any time is that automatic repeating of his name (or a command) over and over if the desired response is not done…SIT SIT SIT SIT SIT SIT SIT only tells him that

  1. this is the complete command, so when you say it once it “doesn’t count” and

  2. that he can respond when it is convenient.

As soon he gives you hit his attention, reinforce his attention with a treat and lots of praise. If you call his name and he does not respond, then make a noise such as a whistle to get his attention, but do not repeat his name. As with all training, the reinforcement should be given as soon as he responds, so there is no question what he is being rewarded for.

When he starts to show progress on this exercise, you can move to an area with more distractions. Like all training you don’t have to schedule training sessions; “teachable moments” can occur at anytime you are together, so be sure to practice practice practice…hmm, should I have only said this once?

Signs of Ill Health in a Dog

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Unfortunately, even though we think our dogs understand every word we say, and we often understand them, there are times when they just can’t tell us what hurts….so we need to know what to look for.  Always keep your vet’s number available in an emergency, and keep a log of “symptoms” and concerns when you go to the vet….they say that history is 99% of diagnosis, so being alert and methodical can save your dog’s life.

Signs of:

  • Internal parasites:  visible worms in the feces, a pot-bellied appearance, persistent or bloody diarrhea, white “grains” on the rear of the dog, loss of weight
  • Signs of urinary disorders: straining to pass urine, blood in the urine, incontinence (inability to hold urine), increased urination, increased thirst
  • Reproductive disorders: unusual genital discharge, swelling in the mammary glands, swelling of the testicles, failure to conceive  difficulty at birth
  • Skin and coat disorders: persistent scratching, sudden chewing or licking, redness of inflammation, increased hair loss.
  • digestive disorders:  projectile, bloody, or painful vomiting. Persistent, bloody, or explosive diarrhea, constipation, weight loss or weight gain. Listlessness and abdominal discomfort
  • Nervous system disorders: Seizures, convulsions, or “fits”. staggering gait, partial or complete paralysis, behavioral changes, loss of balance.
  • Ear disorders head shaking discharge from the ear canal, swelling of the flap of the ear, difficulty hearing, loss of balance
  • Respiratory disorders: nasal discharge, persistent sneezing, coughing or gagging, excessive snoring, labored breathing.
  • Eye disorders: discharge from the eyes, changes in vision, squinting, a “bloodshot” appearance, of blue/gray cloudiness
  • Mouth and tooth disorders: bad breath, dribbling saliva, reluctance to eat, inflamed gums, loose or broken teeth
  • External parasites: scratching, excessive licking, dandruff, hair loss, visible parasites. 
  • Blood and heart disorders: a non productive cough, reluctance to exercise, reduced stamina, fainting
  • Bone, muscle, and joint disorder: lameness and limping, swelling around the affected area, paralysis, tenderness when a joint is touched.