Friday, January 31, 2014

A Murray Tip

If you've ever been at your wits end with how to get your dog's medicine down if they are flat out refusing to ear all food due to whatever illness they are battling, try canned cat food.  A couple years ago Murray's stomach was so upset from an illness that he out and out refused to eat his own food, my food or even his beloved peanut butter which we had always used to place his meds in to get him to gobble them down.  He LOVES peanut butter and it had NEVER failed us before. This particular time I needed to get him to ingest powdered worm medicine, and it was nearly impossible.  Any of you who might have used this type of wormer before must agree it's a mess!  A wet food source is definitely needed for the powder to "stick".  I had tried everything.  I tried canned dog food, cottage cheese, eggs, chicken...you name it and I tried it.  Then a friend suggested canned cat food.  I had almost no hope for success, but low and behold, it worked!  While ordinarily I would never recommend feeding your dog cat food, when in a pinch and you're desperate to get your dog to eat something to help him recover, this works like a charm.  After one dose Murray's appetite started to return and he was on the road to recovery!   

I don't love you but I love your food!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Saratoga Springs Chowderfest Dog Chowdown

For the 4th year now, Saratoga Springs is bringing back its Dog Chowdown  as part of their huge Chowderfest event (now 16th years running) this Saturday, February 1, 2014.  Local dog shops will participate in a friendly competition to see who can whip up the tastiest homemade doggie chowder. The competition is taking place at 1:00  at The Saratoga Downtowner Motel.  Even if you miss the "taste off", the local dog stores will be serving up their doggie chowder to participants throughout the day.  Dawgdom, Impressions of Saratoga, Milton Manor Spa & Resort and Sloppy Kisses are all entering chowder in the competition.  Even better, most of their proceeds will be donated to the Saratoga County Animal Shelter, Rottie Empire Rescue and Glen Highland Farm to help animals in need.   If you're not familiar with Saratoga, take it from me, it's extremely "dog friendly".  There hasn't been a time I have walked the streets of this town and not come across numerous dogs strolling alongside their humans.  Chowderfest is no different.  Both people and dogs alike get out and enjoy the sights, sounds and eats at this "must experience" event.

The doggie Chowder is delish!
PS..You MUST stop by Esperanto's for their famous Dough Boy.  It will change your life!   

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

5 Ways to Help an Animal Rescue or Shelter

Partnering up with a local animal rescue or shelter can be a true benefit to animals in need in your area and will also undoubtedly further the cause of bettering dogs' lives.  Here are 5 ways to get involved.

Make Flyers
With all the MANY different computer programs currently available in art and design (most free), putting together and distributing eye catching flyers to feature a particular homeless pet couldn't be easier.  With just a quick search of the internet you will come across many options that walk you through your flyer design.   This is a great project for kids too!  Then you just have to find local community boards to pin to or possibly ask local businesses to display them.

Collections
A 5 minute call to your local shelter and you will be told a multitude of items they are in need of for you to start a collection.  Some of the most common shelter needs are: blankets, towels, newspapers, food, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, leashes and collars.  It's a good idea to check with your specific shelter though, so you can collect from their list of needs instead of trying to guess.  Some shelters feed only one brand of food or have unusual requests and it would be important to be aware of that as well.  Of course monetary donations are great too!

Volunteer
Many shelters and rescues have volunteer forms to fill out if you wish to get involved in a hands on way.  These forms help them to best place you into a position that is suitable for your skill and comfort level as well as their needs.   Often shelters need volunteers to help clean around the shelter (inside and out), walk dogs, groom animals, transport animals, work fundraising events or maybe do some office work.  There is likely something of interest to anyone wanting to get involved.

Foster
By fostering and animal you are directly giving that dog or cat a second chance at a happy, healthy life.  Some animals need a home environment instead of a shelter, for health reasons, and without such caring people to provide this, they would often otherwise be put down. If you have some extra space in your home and heart and some extra time to give, this might be right for you.  It's important you have had experience in caring for pets in the past as it will be important that you not only shelter the pet, but also work toward making it "adoptable".  This means showing the animal what it's like to be a pet and live properly inside a home.  Many foster animals have never been a truly loved and cared for pet in a home and often have come from horrible conditions and situations.  They would need time and patience to learn.

Sponsor
If fostering seems like too big of a commitment but you still want to help these animals in need, maybe sponsoring is for you.  The cost to provide care for any single animal varies greatly.  Some animals need medical procedures, a special diet or medications.  This can all get costly to a shelter or rescue fast.  By sponsoring an animal, you are offering to incur the costs to care for that dog or cat until it gets adopted, but the animal will not live with you.  Sponsoring absolutely saves countless lives.  

If nothing else we can all certainly play a big role in helping homeless pets with the click of a mouse.  We are all on Facebook, Twitter and a multitude of other social media sites.  Make good use of your time there and share some information on a homeless animal in need.  Spread the word.  Be their "PR" person.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Your Dog's Health and Fleas

No fleas in this weather!

Being that a single female flea is capable of laying over 2000 eggs in her lifetime and a flea is able to survive over 100 days without a meal,  it's no wonder these pesky creatures are such a big problem for both our dogs and us dog parents!  If your pet gets fleas, while it can be super irritating to watch them scratch and bite at themselves, it goes beyond just annoying, and can also be a real health hazard for them.

Allergy (Flea Allergy Dermatitis)
When your dog is allergic to fleas, they are hypersensitive to flea bites.  The saliva from the flea bite causes them to have a negative skin reaction beyond just normal itchiness. Your dog will display extreme itching and will likely form break outs on their skin.  I believe Murray has a flea allergy.  One summer, without any other symptoms, I noticed the fur on his back legs was disappearing.  He had been slowly and discreetly pulling it out while chewing on himself.  After talking to my vet, I was told that this is a common sign of fleas.  After treatment his fur slowly grew back.  I hadn't found a flea on him, but I knew they had to be there.   

Tapeworm
If your pet contracts what is commonly called "tapeworm", that parasite hangs out in your pet's small intestine. It causes problems for your dog because as your dog digests it's food and the food flows past the tapeworm in the intestine, the worm steals many important nutrients from your dog.  A sure sign your dog has tapeworm is if you notice what looks like little pieces of rice around their rectum or attached to their poo.  These are actual "segments" of the tapeworm coming out.  If you look carefully, they even move at first.  The flea's role in passing your dog tapeworm is that many fleas have tapeworm inside of themselves.  When your dog bites and chews on himself to kill the annoying fleas biting at him, he ingests fleas filled with tapeworm.  Now your pup has tapeworm too.

Anemia
Fleas feast on blood.  If your dog's red blood cells are compromised in any way (too few), having fleas can cause life threatening problems, at any age.  A couple signs of possible flea anemia are pale gums and lethargy.  Many pets with flea anemia will require blood transfusions to help restore red blood cells. This would be a true emergency and you should see your vet immediately. 

Sometimes it's difficult to even determine if your dog has fleas in the first place.  They move quickly and are oftem so small that our eyes don't catch them.  If you have a dark colored dog, the job is even more infuriating.  Looking for "flea dirt" is a trick to see if your dog is being attacked by these pesky bugs.  Basically, flea dirt is flea poop.  It will look like dandruff, but dark in color.  To test out if what you're seeing is in fact flea dirt, place some on a paper towel and run water over it.  If it turns a reddish brown color, you likely have flea dirt, and also fleas.

Talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate flea treatment for your particular dog.  There are many options out there and some are better suited for some dogs than others. 



Friday, January 24, 2014

Walking Your Dog

You know how a nice stroll on a nice day makes you feel good?  Well, it works the same for our dogs.  Regular, appropriate exercise is so important to your dog's longevity and overall health and happiness.  When the conditions are right, getting outside with your pups for a walk can be lots of fun!  Where I live, the conditions have been far from "right" recently.  We are in upstate NY where the deep freeze has us tightly in its grip.  We are anxiously awaiting "walking weather" to return!  When it does, we're ready!  Here are a few things to help you get ready.



Leashes
There are endless choices when it comes to a dog leash.  You, of course, must find what works for you and your dog, but I do have a few suggestions.
First, please don't use retractable leashes when out walking.  These are best suited for times when you might be in a field and you want to be able to allow your pet to roam and explore a bit without going totally off leash.  In neighborhoods, retractable leashes can be a real danger.  I have heard far too many tales of dogs darting into the street and the pet parent either couldn't reel them back in time or the leash jammed.  Sadly this often can result in pups getting hit before your very eyes.  My mother ended up breaking her wrist when her retractable leash locked up as her typically slow moving St Bernard took off after a cat, pulling my mom to the ground. Retractable leashes also allow too much wiggle room for your dog to roam into spaces he doesn't belong, like into the path of another dog walker or into gardens and lawns of your neighbors.
Leather leashes generally get great reviews by their users.  They often report they are comfortable on the hands and don't cause leash burn if your dog tugs at all.
I have been using the Lupine brand leashes and have been very pleased.  Not only do they have the most adorable colors and patterns, but they have a great guarantee.  They state that they will take back and exchange any leash or collar of theirs that gets chewed, FOR LIFE!  No receipt is needed, and they send your replacement out immediately.  Now how can you beat that?!
I only have one last suggestion regarding leashes.  Please put thought into what kind of collar you choose to accompany your leash.  While I am not a fan of either choke or prong collars, I would take a prong over a choke any day. I have found a prong collar will stop most all pulling while a choke does just that...choke!  I much prefer training your dog how to properly leash walk, perhaps using the "heel" technique (see below), and then choosing a combo collar (prevents slipping out) or better yet, a harness, over using a collar for your control.  I became a huge fan of step in harnesses when Murray's started having throat issues that were aggravated by the combo collar.

Heel
The heel position is fairly easy to teach.  The concept is that your dog will walk calmly to the side of your leg and not pull or sneak ahead of your pace.  Our golden, Piper, does this oh so well.  We can say the word "heel" on a walk with Piper and he will drop back to the nearest leg he sees!  In the beginning however, it helped to teach Piper this concept by abruptly turning and walking in the opposite direction if he started to pull ahead.  It caught him off guard and he suddenly found himself behind me, having to catch up.  Believe me when I tell you, a dog that knows how to heel makes what would be a miserable tug of war become an enjoyable stroll.

How Often and How Long
I believe dogs need walking most every day.  Again, as long as the conditions are suitable.  Our pups do well with a 20-30 minute walk, supplemented with play time here at home.  Piper is now 10 and still handles this amount quite well.  He seems tired by the end of his walk but that good kind of tired, not the "dropping from exhaustion" kind of tired.

Watch out!
Retractable leashes aside, there can still be dangers on your walk.  Toxins can be everywhere!  It's crucial to keep yours eyes open for anything you dog might quickly pick up (ie. litter) or lick while out and about.  Lawns and gardens can pose a hazard as well.  The chemicals, fertilizers and types of plants people have on their properties are all potential toxins for your fur kid.  It's best to not even allow your dog to walk on lawns.  These chemicals can come home on their paws with them and be licked off later.  Your best bet is to stick strictly to sidewalks and walking paths while keeping a close eye out if you have a wandering sniffer on your hands.

Yellow Dog Project
This plan is fairly new.  Most dog parents I speak to haven't even heard of this initiative yet, but it already has my stamp of approval.  The idea is to help protect owners, dogs and random people from creating a potentially dangerous situation.  How this works is if you have a dog that you would like to take on walks, but he is still working on his walking skills or maybe he's not the most social guy when out and about, placing a yellow ribbon on your leash signals to all others to keep at a distance for your comfort and safety, your bouncy dog's comfort and safety as well as strangers on the street.  Win, win, win!

Scoopin the Poo!
Now we all MUST partake in scooping our dog's poo!  It's non-negotiable. Not only is it expected, it gives pet parents a bad reputation when we leave the doody behind. Scooping on our walks just got a bit more pleasant in our family.  We, of course, have the poop bag holder attached to our leashes, but now, we also have the most awesome FIFTH PAW!  Now our guys can carry their own poo home!  That's just how it should be, I think!  How can we get them to scoop it too?  The Fifth Paw even carries up to three poops in their separate bags, although that does start to weigh down your leash (or maybe our dogs just take big poops!).  This little gadget is such a great little addition to our lives. 


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Caring for your Dog's Liver

I have done a fair amount of research since Piper was diagnosed with liver problems.  (He, by the way, is doing quite well and we're grateful.)  I was unaware of how common liver disease of all types really is!  Once I started talking about Piper, I was amazed to hear other people talk about similar experiences.  It's my nature to jump all in and fully research anything that's going on with my dogs, so naturally, this wasn't going to be any different.  Here are some helpful things I learned that may be of some use.  This is purely my own research and findings and I am in no way a pet medical professional. 

Milk Thistle
A healthy liver is essential because it detoxifies any chemicals or pesticides your dog may be exposed to, any possible toxins through food, and chemical prescription drugs.  Milk thistle is a flowering plant that comes from the Aster family. It is effective for treating dog liver disease in a few different ways. It can protect against the toxins mentioned above and milk thistle has been shown to stimulate growth of new or damaged liver cells.  It also helps work as an anti-inflammatory, and aids in pain relief.  I haven't yet added this to Piper's diet, but I read very positive reviews.  My vet gave us a supplement called Denamarin, an enzyme to help support Piper's liver.

Diet
*There was mixed advice about protein levels, but it seemed "high" won out.  In much of what I read, I found that veterinarians commonly recommend feeding a diet in high quality proteins. You dog can digest these types of proteins better.  Most veterinarians recommend that owners feed their dogs a mix of animal based and plant proteins. 
*Several small meals a day opposed to one or two larger meals.
*Dairy products can be easy on your dogs struggling liver.  They produce less ammonia than meat products.
*Oatmeal is great for extra fiber to aid in removing the ammonia from the system so the liver doesn't have to work to process it.
*Avoid food with high amounts of copper if diagnosed.  High- lamb, pork, duck, turkey, chicken, fish.  Lower options would be beef, eggs and cheese.
*Absolutely NO human processed foods.
*Possibly advised to use antacids to reduce the risk of ulcers forming.
*Plenty of clean, fresh water to stay hydrated.  

Meds/ Environment
*Limiting the use of heartworm, worming, flea and tick meds/preventatives is also advised if your dog is diagnosed with liver disease.  These are all drugs your dog's liver must process and can put undue stress on an already sick liver.
*Keeping your dog in a temperature regulated, relatively calm environment.  Temperature fluctuations and stressful homes can cause the liver to work harder than needed.

Take Care of your Liver!  Woof!



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Friday, January 10, 2014

It's a Good Day in New York State!

Thank You Governor Andrew Cuomo!
You'll find the link HERE that explains the bill Governor Andrew Cuomo signed today to help animals in New York State.  It couldn't have come at a better time.  In the news this week, where I live, animal lovers just fought a hard battle to save a large number of dogs from the poor, poor conditions they were living in at a so called "puppy farm".  These dogs (and puppies) were residing outside only with plastic barrels as shelter, even through our latest cold snap when it got to be 25 below zero with windchill.  When law enforcement visited after receiving tips, THEY even deemed this acceptable.  DISGUSTING!  Luckily a judge got involved and A LOT of caring individuals, and the owner surrendered the adult dogs and was ordered to bring the puppies inside.  I hate to think of how many more cases like this exist...or worse!  I am proud of my state today.  This is a step in the right direction for protecting our precious animals.

Thank You!



Thursday, January 2, 2014

Winter (COLD) Wonderland

We love the cold!
It's a winter wonderland outside our windows today.  It was SUPPOSED to Mom's first day back to work after the holidays...but guess what?!?!  She got a SNOW DAY!!!  We're all staying warm inside and watching the peeps in the neighborhood shovel, plow and dig out!  Did we mention it's a balmy 2 degrees out???  Happy New Year Everybody!

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