Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Introducing Your Dog to Swimming

Getting Your Dog to Swim in a Lake or Beach

Exercising with your dog is a great way to bond and stay active and healthy together. There are many exercises or lifestyle activities for an owner and dog to enjoy from jogging to bike riding (well you ride the bike while the dog runs alongside you) to swimming. But for warm days nothing beats an outdoor swimming adventure with your dog. Here's how you get your dog started…

Does Your Dog Like Water?

Before embarking on a water activity with your dog, there are important questions to ask: Are you both in good health? Can you swim? Does your dog like water?
How do you know? Well, does Magnum or Molly play excitedly in puddles or the water hose or doesn’t mind splashing in the bathtub? The latter is a good indicator that your dog may be comfortable with a still lake and maybe ocean waves.  Just as important, does your dog know basic commands and will your dog stay under control when off the leash?  If you answered yes to all of the above questions, then you are ready to introduce your dog to the lake or ocean.
First, locate a dog-friendly lake or beach in your city or town. Next, visit a lake when it’s not very windy or the beach during low tide. Let your dog become acquainted with the smell, site, and sounds of the lake or beach. Never force your dog into the water. Gradually walk closer to the shoreline. Talk to your dog, praise him so he knows it is safe territory. Another idea is to sit in shallow water at the beach so Magnum will follow you.  Repeat this for several visits until you recognize the signs that your dog is comfortable with the lake or ocean and ready to doggy paddle.

Can All Dogs Swim?

While dogs will naturally “doggy paddle” when they are in the water, it does not mean they like the water or can stay afloat for a length of time.  Some breeds like the bulldog will sink straight to the bottom and should not be near deep water. For other dogs, it will require training and building strength and endurance to stay afloat. Ultimately, it’s about having fun. If your dog enjoys playing fetch, toss some floating toys into the water to encourage swimming and help him recognize it as a fun activity.

Use a Canine Floatation Device

For ocean swimming, a Canine Floatation Device (CFD) also known as Pet Floatation Device (PFD) is recommended. Essentially a life vest for pets, the PFD will help buoy your dog to the surface in the event a wave overtakes him or he can no longer swim. Ocean rip tides are deceptively stronger than the ocean waves appear.
Make sure the PFD is snug fitting and there are no loose buckles or straps. The “handle” at the top of the vest is to retrieve your dog only in an emergency. While it’s tempting to constantly pick him up by the handle, avoid it! Instead grab the dog by placing your hands on his chest.
Have your dog try a few life vests and after your purchase one, let him wear it around the house so he grows accustomed to it. Once you reach the beach, only don the vest when you’re about to enter the water. Don’t let your dog run around the beach with the vest as he could overheat. One last tip, rinse the vests thoroughly after use. As a native beach girl, I know how salt water is a slow destroyer of everything it comes in contact with.

Swimming Pool for Starters

Swimming pools can also be used as a starting point for your dog before graduating to the lake or ocean. Just follow the same principles of sitting in the shallow water on the pool steps.  Some "water dogs" even enjoy relaxing on inflatable loungers.  
Don’t forget your secret weapon—treats.  Some dogs need that motivation and reward system similar to obedience training. Be sure to bring your dog's favorite treat to praise him for his effort and success. Like a child learning to ride a bike, always stand by your dog’s side. Never let your dog out of your sight. Accidents can happen within seconds.
And if your dog has an affinity for the water and demonstrates agility and balance and an adventurous spirit, then he’s ready for dog surfing lessons!

by Christine Michaels

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Talking Dog Device Ready to Hit Market Soon
What if your dog could greet you with more than a growl, or announce the reason he's scratching at the door?
It sounds absurd and much like the storyline from the Pixar film, “Up,” but Scandinavian scientists are working to develop a headset that could soon allow your furry best friend to speak his mind.
The Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery is the brains behind “No More Woof” -- technology that aims to distinguish canine thought patterns and then issue them as short sentences via a microphone.
“The brainwaves differ quite a lot from different races as well as individual dogs,” NSID writes on their website. “However it is possible to detect some common patterns and we have no doubt that in the future this technology will open up a vast new era of communication between dogs and humans, or animals in general and humans.”
The research team, who previously brought the world such inventions as the pet flying carpet, weren’t immediately available for comment on Wednesday, but explained the most recent project on their website.
“No More Woof is the result of combining the latest technologies in three different tech-areas - EEG (electroencephalography) sensoring, micro computing and special [brain-computer interface] software,” the researchers wrote.
The operating system relies on sensors in the headset which detect electric signals in the dog's brainwaves. Technology from an in-built processing device then analyses the signal patterns and deciphers them into distinct feelings like anger, curiosity or tiredness.
Sample sentences such as “I’m hungry – but I don’t like this!” or "I'm curious who that is?" will be programmed into the device and emitted through a loudspeaker.
English translations will be available, but Putonghua, French and Spanish language headsets will come later, the researchers say.
How exactly scientists will attach the sensors into a dog's brain has yet to be ironed out. Issues like this, as well as the ethical and social concerns, are the reason why there’s a whole lot more research to be done before the technology becomes available.
The headsets are, however, available for pre-purchase on indiegogo as part of the research funding campaign, with three different versions that range in functionality and price, from $65 for the micro to $300 for the standard version or $1,200 for the Superior customizable mini-speaker, replete with engraved dog tag.
You might have to wait a while for the first prototype to arrive in the mail, but the implications are enormous, the researchers say.
And as friendship is a two-way street, it’s only fitting that the scientists are also aiming to develop a reverse headset for humans to bark their way into the hearts of their canine buddies.
Other applications and accessories the researchers have in their far-sighted future include a “Pavlovian training kit,” with original instructions by the physiologist Ivan Pavlov, to further the owner-pet bond through the use of play and classical conditioning.
“Right now we are only scraping the surface of possibilities,” the researchers write. “The first version will be quite rudimentary. But hey, the first computer was pretty crappy too.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Summer Fun - Summer Safety

Time to get out with the family (and likely a family pet or two) and enjoy recreational activities. The purpose of this article is to serve as a reminder of summer dangers for pets, so that all of the fun isn't spoiled by an unsuspected emergency or illness.
Heat Stroke
Most people are aware that leaving a pet in a locked car on a 100F degree day would be dangerous. However, it is the seemingly mild days of spring (and fall) that pose great danger, too. Driving around, parking, and leaving your pet in the car for "just a minute" can be deadly. Cars heat up fast -- even with the windows cracked. Check out these sources for additional temperature information:
Avoid Heat Stroke - How to Help
Order the "Don't Leave Me in Here — It's Hot!" flyers, posters, and other educational materials from My Dog Is Cool web site to put on cars that have pets in them to alert the owners. (Note: if you see pets or children in cars on warm days, please take action and call the police or fire department - time is critical.)
Signs of heat stroke include (but are not limited to): body temperatures of 104-110F degrees, excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, staggering, stupor, seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, coma, death. Brachycephalic breeds (the short-nosed breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs), large heavy-coated breeds, and those dogs with heart or respiratory problems are more at risk for heat stroke.
If you suspect heat stroke in your pet, seek veterinary attention immediately! Use cool water, not ice water, to cool your pet. (Very cold water will cause constriction of the blood vessels and impede cooling.) Do not aid cooling below 103 F degrees - some animals can actually get HYPOthermic, too cold. Offer ice cubes for the animal to lick on until you can reach your veterinarian.
Just because your animal is cooled and "appears" OK, do NOT assume everything is fine. Internal organs such as liver, kidneys, brain, etc., are definitely affected by the body temperature elevation, and blood tests and veterinary examination are needed to assess this. There is also a complex blood problem, called DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation) that can be a secondary complication to heat stroke that can be fatal.
Learn more: Tips to prevent heatstroke in your pet
Jogging is also dangerous this time of year. So your dog jogs everyday with you and is in excellent shape - why alter the routine? As the weather warms, humans alter the type and amount of clothing worn, and we sweat more. Dogs are still jogging in their winter coat (or a slightly lighter version) and can only cool themselves by panting and a small amount of sweating through the foot pads. Not enough! Many dogs, especially the 'athletes' will keep running, no matter what, to stay up with their owner. Change the routine to early morning or late evening to prevent heatstroke.
Consider your pet's housing. If they are kept outdoors, do they have shade and fresh water access at all times? I have treated one case of heat stroke in a dog that did indeed have shade and water while tethered under a deck, but had gotten the chain stuck around a stake in the middle of the yard -- no water or shade for hours. If you live in a warm climate, it is a good idea to hose down the dog before work, at lunch or whenever you can to provide extra cooling (if you dog is not overheated in the first place).
Water Safety
Not all dogs are excellent swimmers by nature. Especially if Fido has underlying health problems, such as heart disease or obesity to contend with. Consider protecting your pet just as your human family -- with a life preserver. If your pet is knocked off of the boat (perhaps getting injured in the process), or is tired/cold from choppy water or sudden storm, a life jacket could be what saves your pet's life. 
Learn more: Pet Life Jackets - Just Another Accessory or a Necessity?
Antifreeze actually a year-round hazard. With the warmer temperatures of summer, cars over heat and may leak antifreeze. (This is the bright green liquid found oozing from that car with the engine fan on.) Also, people change their antifreeze and may spill or leave unused antifreeze out where pets can access it. Antifreeze tastes sweet and is inviting to pets (and children). It is also extremely toxic in very small amounts.
Call your veterinarian (or physician) immediately if any ingestion is suspected. A safe alternative to Ethylene Glycol antifreeze is available, it is called propylene glycol, and while it does cost a small amount more than 'regular' antifreeze, it is worth the piece of mind.
Summer Travel
Finally, if you are traveling outside of your normal Veterinarian's locale, it is wise to check out the Veterinary clinics/hospitals in the area that you are visiting, before the need arises. It is better to be prepared for an emergency and not have one happen than to panic in an emergency situation, wasting valuable time.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season
The holiday season is filled with family, friends and parties, but don't forget about your pets. Here are a few helpful tips to keep your animals safe and happy this holiday season.
  • Keep Pets Away from the Christmas Tree. Decorations, pine needles and tree water can all be hazard to the animal in your house. Place the tree out of reach from animals or set up a barrier around the tree so the animal can not get to it. When leaving the house for an extended period of time, try to shut the animal out of the room where the Christmas tree is displayed.
    • Tree water may be stagnant and full of bacteria or contain fertilizers that can cause an upset stomach, so keep an eye out to make sure cats and dogs don’t drink from the tree base.
    • Decorations: Avoid tinsel that can be nibbled and swallowed, which could lead to obstructed organs. Keep glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. Shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth and paws and be even more harmful to the lining of the stomach if swallowed.
  • Keep Pets Away from Holiday Plants and Other Decorations. Poinsettia plants, holly and mistletoe are poisonous to animals if they eat them and can cause gastrointestinal issues if ingested, so keep them elevated and away from the reach of pets.
    • Candles and Menorahs can also prove dangerous. One wrong wag of the tail and an overturned candle could ruin the holidays for sure. Try to keep those items out of your four-legged friend's reach and always keep a watchful eye on tails near fireplaces or candles.
    • Party Favors if play with or chewed could be hazardous to an animal. Be sure to clean up any party decorations or balloons that an animal could easily choke on or shallow.
  • Don't Overindulge Your Pet. Giving pets table scrapes or foods they aren't accustom to is not a good idea. It can upset stomachs and bones from the scraps could easily be swallowed. Instead, stick with pet store treats and bones. A new toy to play with is always welcome too.
    • No Alcohol: Never give an animal alcohol. According to, alcohol can be extremely dangerous and even deadly to an animal. After a party, make sure all empty bottles and glasses have been cleaned up before letting your pet roam the house freely.
    • No Chocolate: No holiday chocolates for your pet or anything sweetened with xylitol.
    • Party Etiquette: During parties, food is often left out at pet level. Try to keep your animal away from the party as much as possible. Paws can be easily stepped on in a crowd and with guests coming and going, pets could easily wander outside without being noticed.
  • Burn Off Your Pet's Energy. A long walk is always a good idea before you head out for a long day away from your pet but for an added bonus try a treat scavenger hunt. This is for dog owners with a fenced in yard or outside area where the dog will be safe. Grab a handful of multi-grain Cheerios, which is a cereal with little sugar, and take your pup outside. Give him one or two Cheerios to start and show him the handful. Then toss the Cheerios across the yard, scattering them in different sections. Let your dog try to find those tiny treats and burning off tons of energy. When it's time to come inside your pup will be ready for a much-needed nap and you can attend your party feeling guilt-free.
Fore more ways to keep your animals safe during the holiday season check out

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Dog Owners

There's enough for people to worry about at Thanksgiving. "Oh no, not Aunt Edna's greasy gravy." "My brother's bragging is going to drive me to drink." "I can't believe I ate the whole thing." But we can't just think of ourselves over this food-focused holiday: We have to look after our best friends, too.
Dogs enjoy the revelry at least as much as humans, with bits of this and that dropping on the floor, and delectable smells wafting around the house. But Thanksgiving mustn't be a free-for-all. Just because we try to pack away all we can doesn't mean our dogs should. And there are certain items your dog really needs to avoid.
"Veterinarians experience an increased number of office calls due to digestive problems after the holidays because humans invite their animals to celebrate with high fat meals (ham, gravy, turkey skin), chocolates, bones , etc.," warns Casandria Smith, L.A. Animal Services Chief Veterinarian, in a PetFinder article.
Here are some tips that will help your dog get through Thanksgiving safely and with a smile on her snout.

Stuff Your Turkey, Not Your Dog

It's easy to want to give your dog a big fat bowl of turkey, mashed potatoes, and whatever else you think she might enjoy. But that's a bad idea. Overindulging in fatty foods can lead to an upset stomach, diarrhea, or a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis. A few strips of turkey on a dog's normal food is fine, but don't overdo it, no matter how she may plead with her "I'm STARVING" eyes. Keep in mind that turkey skin can wreak havoc with a dog's digestive system, so make sure she gets skinless, boneless turkey.

Stuff Your Dog's Kong, Not Your Dog

Here's a great way to keep your dog busy and happy during your meal. Put a bit of your dog's regular food in a Kong, and then stuff a little boneless turkey, sweet potatoes, gravy - just a tad, mind you - in the Kong. It's not much food, but it will keep him occupied for a long time.

Get Her Pooped

A dog who has been on a big walk or fetched the ball a zillion times will be much more likely to run out of energy during the feast than a dog who's been inside all day. A tired dog is a good dog on Thanksgiving. Make sure your pup gets plenty of exercise before the festivities begin.

Make No Bones About It

Cooked turkey bones can be a danger to your dog. They're sharp, and potentially very dangerous. You may not know a dog has a turkey bone lodged in your dog's digestive system for days. Don't leave plates with bones lying around. Ditto for the turkey carcass. Hungry dogs have been known to run off with the remains of a carved turkey. It can happen in the blink of an eye. You notice the turkey is gone. You notice the dog is gone. With luck, you find their hiding place before anything happens. Put plates in an unreachable area if you can't dispose of everything properly right away.

Know This Sage Wisdom

Sage and some other herbs have essential oils that can cause tummy upset and central nervous system depression if a dog eats them in large quantities. Most dogs aren't going to nosh on a fistful of sage, but keep herbs out of reach just in case. See: Poisonous Plants and Foods for Dogs.

Don't Cry Over Onions

Onions are toxic to dogs. They can lead to a dangerous form of anemia that may not be detected for days. Make sure your dog stays away from the pearly whites, and yellows, and reds. See: Poisonous Plants and Foods for Dogs.

Don't Give Her the Raw Deal

Unless your dog is already on a raw diet, we wouldn't recommend plopping a piece of raw turkey in her bowl (the change from her regular food might cause an upset stomach). But more importantly, keep your pup away from the uncooked dough for bread or rolls. What helps make dough rise? Heat. If a dog eats raw dough, what's it like for the dough in the dog's stomach? Warm. The dough rises in the dog's stomach, and if the dog has eaten enough, the swollen dough can cause pain, vomiting, and bloating -- conditions that can send you to the doggy ER on Thanksgiving.

Avoid Yappy Hour

Some dogs seem to enjoy alcoholic drinks. Walk away from your drink that's set on the coffee table, and Lulu may get lit. Dogs and booze are a bad mix. Your dog may not do anything embarrassing she'll regret in the morning, but she could become disoriented and quite ill. Too much alcohol can even lead to a coma, and death. Watch where you - and others - put their drinks, especially if you have a curious pup.
By following a few basic tips, your dog will enjoy a fun, safe Thanksgiving. Now if only you could avoid Aunt Edna's gravy ...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Dog Has a Cold

Dogs can catch colds just like people. Help keep your dog healthy by learning how to spot signs of a respiratory infection and how to treat it before the illness has a chance to develop into something serious.

Signs Your Dog May Have a Cold

At its simplest, a cold is an upper respiratory infection, and it produces the following symptoms:
  • Nasal congestion and discharge
  • A little difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Occasional coughing
  • Mild fever
  • Runny eyes
  • Sneezing
  • General lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
While these symptoms can make your dog relatively uncomfortable, they're not severe. Most dogs will get over a simple cold within about a week without any treatment as long as they are kept warm and hydrated.

How to Treat a Cold at Home

Whether you're dealing with dogs or people, there's still no cure for the common cold. However, you can provide some supportive measures to make your dog feel more comfortable during the duration of his or her cold.
  • Keep your dog warm and dry.
  • Limit time spent outside during cold weather. Cold air tends to make the bronchial tubes constrict; this makes it more difficult for your dog to breathe.
  • Provide extra nutrition like boiled chicken and brown rice to coax your dog to eat. This will keep his or her strength up and provide immune system support.
  • Run a cool mist vaporizer near your dog's sleeping area to help keep the bronchial tubes moistened.
  • Encourage your dog to drink liquids, even if you have to tempt your pet with low sodium chicken broth. This will help keep nasal secretions thin and less likely to clog your dog's nose.
You can administer children's cold medicine as long as the type and dosage are approved by your veterinarian. This won't cure your dog's cold, but it may help ease the symptoms and make him or her more comfortable.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

The first step in deciding whether your dog needs medical care lies in recognizing his or her symptoms. Once you've determined that your dog may have a cold, you must decide whether or not it's worth a trip to the vet. Although some respiratory infections do get better without medical intervention, as a layperson, it's difficult to judge just how severe your dog's illness really is.
The general rule of thumb is that puppies and senior dogs should both be examined by a vet any time they have cold-like symptoms. This is because their immune systems are usually weaker than those of healthy adult pets, and a cold is more likely to progress into pneumonia. With that said, many owners prefer to err on the side of caution and take all sick dogs to the vet for a professional opinion.
  • The symptoms become more intense.
  • The dog develops a rattle in its chest.
  • The dog is in obvious discomfort.
  • The dog stops drinking liquid.
In many cases, a vet will prescribe an antibiotic to treat the illness. While it's true that antibiotics are not effective against viruses, these medications can destroy invading, opportunistic bacteria that make a dog even sicker while its immune system is fighting off the original virus.

Illnesses Disguised as Colds

Sometimes, what appear to be symptoms of a common cold can actually be attributed to a variety of respiratory infections caused by canine-specific viruses and bacteria. Some of these infections simply have to run their course until your dog is well again. Others can develop into serious illnesses if allowed to progress unchecked. Take a look at some of the most common illnesses that produce symptoms similar to the common cold.


The parainfluenza virus is one the most common and most contagious purveyors of cold-type illnesses in dogs. That's why combination vaccines include an inoculation against it. The infection is characterized by a chronic cough.

Adenovirus Type-2

Canine adenovirus type-2 is a major cause of common kennel cough, and it produces symptoms that are often mistaken as signs of a run-of-the-mill dog cold. Although this virus is included in combination vaccines, it's not possible to completely protect a dog from contracting the illness. However, an inoculation will go a long way in lessening the severity of the virus if your pet happens to contract it.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough, frequently caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria, is another illness that presents cold-like symptoms in dogs. Canines with kennel cough are most notably affected with a rasping cough that often brings up phlegm. Secondary symptoms include discharge from the nasal passages and eyes.
In many cases, kennel cough will resolve itself on its own as a dog's immune system attacks and overcomes the invading bacteria. However, if the animal's immune system isn't strong enough to overcome the infection, it can progress into pneumonia. Parainfluenza and adenovirus can cause kennel cough.

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a systemic and highly contagious disease. It is one of the viruses dogs are routinely vaccinated against. The virus is easily spread via the fine vapor in an infected dog's exhale. Distemper is a serious illness that is often fatal. The virus can remain viable in the environment for up to one year. Once a dog contracts this virus, the organism begins to chip away at white cells leaving that dog open to other opportunistic infections such as the diseases mentioned above.

Take All Colds Seriously

Keep in mind that a cold is seldom as simple as it seems. Take the condition seriously and provide your pet with veterinary care if you believe it's warranted. Doing so can keep your dog's cold symptoms from developing into a life threatening respiratory infection.
Dog Breeder and Exhibitor

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Road Trip Safety For Your Pets

Sixty-one percent of pet owners travel with their four-footed family members--and no wonder, because road trips are an affordable, convenient way to keep your canine (or kitty) with the pack and out of pricey kennels. Follow this advice to help your pet stay healthy and happy the whole time.

RELATED: If Your Pet is Staying Home Instead

Before You Go...

See the Veterinarian
Your pet may need updated vaccines, depending on the destination, says Gregg Takashima, DVM, president of the American Animal Hospital Association. Carry a record with you on the trip.

Make ID Tags
Even microchipped pets should wear a collar and vacation ID that has your cell number and hotel contact info, says Kim Salerno, founder of

RELATED: Pet Trackers to Keep Your Pet Safe

Don't Let Your Shih-Tzu Ride Shotgun
One in five dog owners surveyed by AAA admitted to driving with pets in their laps, which is incredibly dangerous. Dogs should never ride freely--not in the backseat, not in the bed of a pickup, and especially not in the front seat, where the air-bag risk is the greatest. According to Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, Traffic Safety Programs manager at AAA National, an unrestrained 10-pound dog in a car going 50 MPH will exert roughly 500 pounds of pressure in a crash.

To keep your pet safe, you have two main options: a crate or a seat-belt harness. "A crate that's secured to the vehicle with tether anchors and engaged child locks is the safest way for your dog to travel," Dr. Takashima says. "Harnesses are also good, but keep your pet away from air bags, which can easily break her neck if deployed." If your pooch isn't acclimated to the method you choose, take him for short trips before your vacation to get him used to his new gear.

In a minivan, SUV, or station wagon: A crate is a smart choice, says Christie Hyde, automotive/driver safety spokesperson for AAA National. Even a divider between the backseat and trunk/cargo area isn't enough to protect your pet in a crash. Make sure the crate is large enough for her to stand, sit, lie down, and turn around--but not so large that she can pace. Place the crate in the back, facing forward (to prevent car sickness). Pick a hard crate for safety and unclip her leash to prevent dangerous tangling.

RELATED: The Ultimate Pet Summer Safety Guide

In a sedan or sporty two-door model: A crate might not fit in the backseat. A seatbelt harness, available at pet stores for about $20, will keep her secure. Look for one with a broad front, lots of padding, sturdy metal hardware, and wide straps that are made of a seatbeltlike material.

Window Warning!
Your dog should never be allowed to stick his head out the window of a moving car. "Debris can be driven into a pet's eyes, nose, and ears--especially at high speeds--causing injuries and pain," says Dr. Takashima. "I've also seen dogs that have jumped out of a 'small crack.'"

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's Too Hot for Dogs in the Car!

The second day of record setting heat as summer begins may cause dog owners to think it's a good idea to bring Fido along.
But, the inside of the car heats up quickly, to levels that are dangerous for most dogs.
In a series of experiments, I left my car with a thermometer in it, in various places, in various conditions, to see how quickly it would heat up.
'I just ran into the store to buy one thing'
In the first experiment, I left the car with the windows shut, in a parking lot for an hour. It was 83 degrees outside. Inside the car, it was 108.
'But I parked in the shade'
Second, I parked the car in the shade at Town Hall, with the windows cracked. It was 81 degrees outside. In two minutes, the temperature inside the car had jumped to 86 degrees. In 10 minutes, it had climbed to 90 degrees.
While dogs have higher body temperatures than humans, the only way they can release heat is through their mouths and the pads of their paws.
Like people, different dogs can tolerate different levels of heat. Older dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke, as are dogs with short noses (pugs, Pekingeses, etc.), dogs with dark coats, and of course, dogs with thick coats. Also, dogs who are overweight or in poor general health.
Signs of heat stroke, according to are excessive panting or drooling, very fast breathing, a dark or bright red tongue or gums, staggering, or bloody diarrhea or vomiting.
Animal experts say the smart thing to do is to leave the dog at home, even if you don't have air conditioning. Leave plenty of water, and put on a fan if you have one.
There are other ways to help your pet stay cool at home. You can put ice in your pet's water. If your dogs are at all amenable, you can run a hose over them. The evaporating water will help them feel cool. Likewise, a cool, wet cloth wrapped or draped around their neck will help. You can freeze the bandana or cloth and put it on your dog just before you take him out walking.

Bycarrie jacobson

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winter Care for Canines

Winter Care for Canines
General Concerns
Winter's cold air brings many concerns for responsible dog owners.
Keep the following precautions in mind:

  • Don't leave your dog outside in the cold for long periods of time. Wind chill makes days colder than actual temperature readings. Be attentive to your dog's body temperature, and limit its time outdoors.
  • Adequate shelter is a necessity. Keep your dog warm, dry and away from drafts. Tiles and uncarpeted areas may become extremely cold, so make sure to place blankets and pads on floors in these areas.
  • Be extra careful when walking or playing with your dog near frozen lakes, rivers or ponds. Your dog could slip or jump in and get seriously injured.
  • Groom your dog regularly. Your dog needs a well-groomed coat to keep properly insulated. Short- or coarse-haired dogs may get extra cold, so consider a sweater or coat. Long-haired dogs should have excess hair around the toes and foot pads trimmed to ease snow removal and cleaning. If you do the trimming, take care not to cut the pads or other delicate area of the foot.
  • Feed your dog additional calories if it spends a lot of time outdoors or is a working animal. It takes more energy in the winter to keep body temperature regulated, so additional calories are necessary.
  • Towel or blow-dry your dog if it gets wet from rain or snow. It is important to dry and clean its paws, too. This helps avoid tiny cuts and cracked pads. A little petroleum jelly may soften the pads and prevent further cracking.
  • Don't leave your dog alone in a car. If the car engine is left on, the carbon monoxide will endanger your dog's life. If the engine is off, the temperature in the car will get too cold.

Health Tips

Dogs cannot talk to us when they are sick. As a responsible dog owner, it is important to pay special attention to your dog's well-being during the winter season. Remember the following health concerns:

  • Antifreeze, which often collects on driveways and roadways, is highly poisonous. Although it smells and tastes good to your dog, it can be lethal.
  • Rock salt, used to melt ice on sidewalks, may irritate footpads. Be sure to rinse and dry your dog's feet after a walk.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water. Your dog is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer. Snow is not a satisfactory substitute for water.
  • Frostbite is your dog's winter hazard. To prevent frostbite on its ears, tail and feet, don't leave your dog outdoors for too long.
  • Be very careful of supplemental heat sources. Fireplaces and portable heaters can severely burn your dog. Make sure all fireplaces have screens, and keep portable heaters out of reach.
  • Like people, dogs seem to be more susceptible to illness in the winter. Take your dog to a veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptoms.
  • Don't use over-the-counter medications on your dog without consulting a veterinarian.

Holiday Safeguards
The winter season brings lots of fun holiday festivities, but pet-owners should keep in mind the following special precautions:

  • The holidays are not ideal for introducing a pet into your family. New puppies and dogs require extra attention and a stable environment, which the holiday season doesn't permit. Also, a puppy is not a toy or gift that can be returned. Instead, the AKC suggests giving a gift representative of the dog to come, such as a toy, a leash, or a bed.
  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are pet poisons! Make sure they are kept in places your dog cannot reach.
  • Review holiday gifts for dogs to make sure they are safe. Items such as plastic toys and small rawhide sticks may be dangerous.
  • Remove holiday lights from lower branches of your tree. They may get very hot and burn dogs.
  • Watch out for electrical cords. Pets often try to chew them and may get badly shocked or electrocuted. Place wires out of reach.
  • Avoid using glass ornaments. They break easily and may cut a dog's feet and mouth.
  • Refrain from using edible ornaments. Your dog may knock the tree over in an attempt to eat them. Also, commercial ornaments may contain paint or toxins in the preservatives.
  • Whether your tree is live or artificial, both kinds of needles are sharp and indigestible. Don't leave your dog unattended in the room with the tree.
  • Tinsel is dangerous for dogs. It may obstruct circulation and, if swallowed, block the intestines.
  • Alcohol and chocolate are toxic for dogs, even in small amounts. Keep unhealthy, sweet treats and seasonal goodies out of reach.
  • The holiday season is a stressful time for dogs. Try to keep a normal schedule during all the excitement.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Top 10 Household Items That Could Harm Your Dog

There are many dangers in and around the home that can spell disaster for your dog. Due to canine curiosity and their tendency to explore the world using their mouth they can ingest common household items that are potentially toxic. Toxicoses account for approximately 15 to 20 percent of animal emergencies at emergency facilities and listed below are the top ten categories of common household items that are most frequently seen.

People food

Just because we can eat it does not mean our food is safe for our canine companions. Chocolate contains large amounts of caffeine and theobromine which dogs do not tolerate well. It can cause clinical signs ranging from gastrointestinal upset, irregular heartbeats, abnormal blood pressure, tremors, seizures and even death in extreme cases. In general, the darker the chocolate the more toxic it is. The toxic dose is calculated by factoring in your dog’s weight, the type of chocolate and how much chocolate was ingested. Please contact poison control or your veterinarian with this information to see what steps will need to be taken. Inducing vomiting is recommended if the ingestion was within the last two hours and depending on the dose, your dog may need to be hospitalized so he can receive activated charcoal and IV fluids. Chocolate tends to be one of the more common toxicoses but there are other foods to be aware of.

Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure; macadamia nuts can cause GI upset, tremors and weakness. Avocado contains persin which causes vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Sugarless gums contain xylitol which can cause dangerously low blood sugar levels. Signs of low blood sugar are weakness, loss of coordination, tremors and occasionally seizures. Several days after ingesting xylitol dogs can develop elevated liver enzymes and sometimes liver failure. Compared to dog food, people food in general is richer, higher in fat and spicier. Dogs that indulge in people food tend to experience gastrointestinal upset or in severe cases can develop inflammation of the pancreas which usually requires hospitalization. Please keep people food away from your dog’s reach. If you have family or friends coming over inform your guests not to feed your dog and make the kitchen and dining areas off limits for your canine friend.


Mouse and rat baits are designed to be appetizing to rodents to encourage ingestion, but unfortunately, for the same reason many dogs find these baits appealing as well. By far the most common type is the anticoagulant based rodenticide. Active ingredients for these are typically warfarin based anticoagulants such as brodifacoum, bromodialone and diphacinone. These baits work by blocking vitamin K dependant clotting factors causing massive internal bleeding and death for any rodent that ingests it and the same mechanism applies to dogs as well. Because dogs tend to be bigger than rodents it takes longer for the bleeding to occur, typically within 3-5 days. If the ingestion was recent, induce vomiting and seek veterinary attention. Your veterinarian will prescribe oral vitamin K for 2-3 weeks and may want to check your dog’s clotting times. For the next couple weeks you will need to watch for lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite and pale gums. If you notice any of these symptoms seek veterinary care immediately. In serious cases, blood transfusions are sometimes necessary.

There are two other kinds of rodenticides that are less common. Baits containing cholecalciferol increases the dog’s calcium and phosphorous causing the soft tissue to mineralize. The kidneys are most affected and acute kidney failure is common. Hospitalization with fluid support and medication to lower the serum calcium and phosphorous is usually needed. Bromethalin (note the similarity of the word to Bromodialone) based rodenticides working by acting on the brain. It makes the brain swell up triggering tremors, seizures and eventually death. There is no specific antidote and only supportive care can be given. Of the three, this is the hardest one to treat and is usually fatal. If you have a rodent problem and feel the only solution is to lay out baits please use only anticoagulant based rodenticides since they are the least toxic of the three types and the easiest to treat. Place the baits in a location where your dog cannot reach them and once a day check to see if the baits are still there. Dispose of the baits properly when your rodent problem is gone. If you find a bait missing or has been tampered with and believe your dog ingested some seek veterinary attention immediately.

Keep the package the bait came in and bring it with you to the vet. I know of one case where the owner told their vet that the bait was “D-con” which is an anticoagulant based rodenticide. Unfortunately, this owner used “D-con” as a generic term for all rodenticides. The veterinarian in this case treated the dog with vitamin K. The dog later presented at the emergency clinic with neurological signs because the bait was actually bromethalin based. So be safe and hang on to the packaging material and bring it with you to the vet so there is no confusion.


The most common insecticide that dogs tend to eat is the ant or roach baits. They contain an attractant such as peanut butter or bread which most dogs find appealing. Luckily the insecticides used in the baits today are typically non-toxic in mammals or the dose contained in the baits is so low that serious toxicosis is unlikely. In fact, there is more concern that the container of the bait can end up as a gastric foreign body. For this reason follow the same guidelines for placement as the rodenticides baits. Keep the packaging and contact poison control if you believe your dog ingested an ant or roach bait. Less common insecticides to be aware of are metaldehyde based snail and slug baits and methomyl based fly bait. If you use insecticides be sure to keep your dog away from the area where it was used.

Human pharmaceuticals

This category includes prescription medications and over the counter drugs meant for humans. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are toxic and should never be given to your dog. Never give your dog over the counter medication without first discussing it with your veterinarian. Keep your prescription pills out of reach. The bottles may be child proof but they certainly aren’t dog proof. Don’t leave pills lying around on nightstands or on top of counters for example. If possible take pills in the bathroom with the door closed so that if you accidentally drop a pill your dog cannot run in and gobble it up. If your dog does get into your pills contact poison control with the drug name and approximate number of tablets he ate in order to determine what treatment your dog may need.

Veterinary pharmaceuticals

Some pills that veterinarians prescribe for dogs are flavored to make them more palatable and apparently some taste so good that dogs think they are treats. It is important to keep all medication for your dog away in a safe place. If your dog needs medications be sure you understand the dosing schedule and ask any questions you might have about the medication before you leave the veterinarian’s office. Never apply flea and tick products meant for your dog on any feline companions you may have.


This is more of a problem with cats but I have seen puppies that chewed on plants and sometimes adult dogs will chew on plants when their stomach is bothering them. Some toxic plants to be aware of are Narcissus and hyacinth bulbs, oleander, rhododendrons, cyclamen, amaryllis, yew and chrysanthemum. Know the species you have in your garden, do some research to find out which are toxic and which are safe and try to only plant non-toxic varieties of plants. If you’re not sure whether your plants are safe, keep your dog out of the garden and watch him around houseplants.


Another reason to keep your dog out of the garden is fertilizer which often smells like food to dogs. There is a wide variety of fertilizers, but they typically contain varying amounts of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous with insecticides and herbicides as common additives. Restrict access to newly-fertilized gardens and garden sheds or garages where fertilizer is kept and keep the packaging as a reference just in case. Or use an organic, pet-friendly alternative.

Cleaning products

Many of these products are just as toxic for our dogs as they are to us. Store all cleaning products away when not in use and consider using natural, organic cleaning solutions instead. If your dog has ingested a bleach-containing product or a drain cleaner, do NOT induce vomiting. As always contact poison control with the product name and the approximate amount ingested and seek emergency veterinary care.

Heavy metals

Zinc and lead are the most common culprits. The most common cause of zinc toxicosis is ingestion of pennies. Pennies minted since 1983 are primarily zinc and some dogs love to ingest coins. Clinical signs are gastrointestinal upset and anemia from red blood cell destruction. Surgery is usually necessary to remove the pennies to prevent further absorption of zinc. The best treatment is prevention so keep your pocket change in a jar out of your dog’s reach.Thankfully, lead toxicosis is becoming less common due to industry safety guidelines. It is no longer a common component of paint but keep in mind thatwhen renovating older homes that lead may be present in paint chips and dust and your dog should be kept away during periods of renovation.

Miscellaneous chemicals

Antifreeze is very sweet and attractive to dogs. They appear drunk after ingesting even small amounts. They appear fine after a few hours but go into kidney failure as few days later. The toxic component is ethylene glycol. There is an antidote but it must be given shortly after ingestion so if you suspect ingestion seek veterinary attention immediately. Much less toxic is propylene glycol based antifreeze, so whenever possible purchase propylene glycol based antifreeze. If you do use ethylene glycol based antifreeze be sure to prevent access and be sure to dispose of it properly as it is toxic to wildlife as well. Many other chemicals pose dangers as well such as paint, paint thinners, solvents and pool chemicals. If a product is labeled ‘toxic’ then assume it’s toxic to animals as well and store chemicals out of reach.

Be prepared by considering toxic emergencies when putting together a first aid kit for your dog. Please check out our first aid guide for dog owners for more information on building a first aid kit. Be sure to include a bottle of fresh sealed 3% hydrogen peroxide and a bulb syringe so you can induce vomiting when necessary, saline eye solution in case you need to flush the eye and dishwashing detergent to bathe your dog with in the event of skin contamination. Lastly, always keep the number of your regular veterinarian, emergency clinic, and poison control handy. The number for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is (888) 426-4435. It’s a poisonous world out there but with knowledge and prevention you can help keep your dog safe.

Remember that prevention is the best treatment! Dr. Kristy Conn
Dr. Kristy Conn graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and did her clinical year at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Teaching Hospital where she fell in love with emergency and critical care medicine. She has practiced emergency medicine at various clinics almost exclusively for the past 10 years, in addition to volunteering in shelter medicine, checking on the health of arrivals and providing low cost spay/neuters and immunizations to recently adopted animals. She is a member of the National Animal Health Emergency Response Corps which helps provide veterinary care to animals affected by disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. She resides in Long Island with her beloved mixed breed dog named Buster.