Rescued Animals Are Optimistic
Pet Safety in EXTREME Heat
According to composer George Gershwin, summertime means “the livin’ is easy; fish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high”. This special season can also mean we need to protect our companion animals from extreme heat.
Keep in mind that when it is hot for you, it is even hotter for them. Dogs and cats do not sweat through their skin. They cool themselves by panting or rapid breathing, which means animals must work hard to stay cool.
Too much heat can be extremely dangerous or even fatal. If your best friend has a shorter nose, like Persian cats and bulldogs, he is more susceptible to heatstroke than breeds with longer noses.
If your dog or cat begins very rapid, noisy breathing, has trouble swallowing, and looks very distressed, she could be having a heatstroke. Heatstroke is an emergency. Get the animal out of the heat. Apply cold, wet towels to the back of the head. Place cold packs wrapped in towels or plain wet towels between the back legs and on the belly. Cool off your furry friend and then take her to the vet immediately.
The best plan is to keep your dog and cat protected from the summer heat.
Companion animals want to be with you. They will be safer and cooler inside with you, where they can spend their time doing what they do best: being your best friend!
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Logan crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on April 22, 2013.
It has been two months. So, why am I crying like a baby now…two months later? All day I have been angry at whatever and irritated at whatever. I am never diffusely angry and irritated; not my nature, but it was today.
Now, I am sitting here crying my heart out thinking of him and the things we did together; the times we shared, good and not-so-good. He was always there and now he isn’t.
I did cry when he left, but not like this today. It is like the tears have been waiting to come up; the pain waiting to be experienced, biding their time for the right moment when I could handle them. I don’t feel like I can handle them at all right now; but know I must and know I will…..but when?
Logan, your spirit will always be with me; always.
I spent last week in Seattle, WA at the 2013 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum. My professional organization, the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition, held its 13th Clinical Nutrition and Research Symposium in conjunction with the forum. The symposium features oral and poster abstract presentations of recent or soon to be published studies. I would like to spend the next three blogs filling you in on some of the interesting research findings featured at that symposium.
As many of you know, the Glycemic Index (GI) of carbohydrates is a ranking system for sugar containing foods based on the speed and quantity that glucose is absorbed from the gut and the intensity of the insulin response to the elevated glucose. Foods with a low glycemic index number (Glycemic Index Chart)elevate blood sugar and insulin levels more slowly. Low glycemic index foods are helpful in regulating insulin requirements for human diabetics. These foods also reduce abdominal fat without total body fat loss and reduce the risk of cardiac complications for human diabetics.
A new study in dogs evaluated the effects of a diet with a high glycemic carbohydrate, white rice (GI=70), and a diet with a low glycemic carbohydrate, peas (GI=40). The absolute calorie counts, protein, fat and carbohydrate amounts were identical. The dogs were fed to maintain their present obese weight. The researchers found that dogs fed the pea diet had a reduced insulin response and reduced abdominal fat despite maintaining overall body fat. These dogs also showed smaller increases in the heart wall thickness ratio than the rice fed dogs.
Increased heart wall ratios correlate with heart disease risk and are part of “the metabolic syndrome” associated with abdominal fat in humans. More studies to confirm these findings may spark more interest in the Glycemic Index of pet food.
This was a particularly disturbing presentation. Researchers evaluated 15 milk replacers, many well-known, compared to collected bitches’ milk. The dietary requirements of the bitches were controlled so that contents of the milk were not influenced by diet and supplementation. None of the milk replacers were a nutritional match for “mom’s milk.”
Calorie counts varied despite identical feeding instructions and some contained levels of lactose that would cause diarrhea in newborns; 14 of the 15 had DHA levels below that of bitch milk.
Over half of the products had a key amino acid, arginine deficiency, and 1/3 had a calcium-phosphorus ratio well below bitch milk and below accepted nutritional standards.
The study did not identify specific brands and problems so I cannot make any recommendations. Suffice it to say, orphaned dogs on milk replacers will be behind the nutritional eight ball and will need to be weaned to a liquefied or blenderized balanced puppy formula as quickly as possible.
Cat owners are well aware of the cardiac consequences of taurine deficiency in cats. Because the taurine requirement is lower in dogs, they typically can easily meet this requirement with the meat protein in dog food and seldom develop this condition as a result of diet.
This was a case study poster presentation about an English Bulldog that presented to the Ohio State Veterinary School teaching hospital in heart failure. The dog was diagnosed with the same dilated cardiomyopathy found in taurine deficient cats.
As it turns out, this dog had severe allergies and the owners were feeding a diet exclusively composed of lentils, brown rice, and potatoes using an online recipe to control the dog’s skin problem. The owners supplemented with a daily multi-vitamin/multi-mineral capsule and calcium citrate tablet, so they felt that the diet was nutritionally adequate. Non-animal sources of protein are extremely deficient in taurine and this dog’s blood taurine level was 2nmol/ml versus a normal of 60-120nmol/ml (don’t worry about the meaning of the units).
Happily, the dog was put on a taurine supplement and a complete hypoallergenic, limited ingredient dog food that controlled his allergies. On the balanced diet and supplements, the heart changes reversed and the dog was tapered off taurine supplementation.
My now stale but important message: Always get professional assistance and/or proof of nutritional content (all 42-44 essentials) when feeding your pets homemade diets.
Dr. Ken Tudor
All dogs play using their teeth, and this can be a large concern to pet owners. Whether it be a very young puppy incessantly chewing on hands or an older dog that grabs pant legs or shirt sleeves, it can be an extremely annoying behaviour to pet owners and the people who encounter the dog. At worst, it can escalate into more severe issues that are much harder to deal with. In any case, training is necessary and advisable for any dog, no matter what the size or breed, so that he can learn to behave appropriately.
One of the most common issues for new puppy owners is how to handle their puppy’s needle-sharp teeth. Parents of small children feel the greatest brunt of the problem. The children run around, the puppy gets excited, and the next thing you know the puppy is hanging off the pants or hair of a child that is screaming in pain. Although the puppy is not trying to hurt anyone, its needle-sharp teeth easily break the skin. Many a puppy has been re-homed or put down because it has put scratches or holes in a child’s face. Adult owners of new puppies often feel frustrated because they cannot interact with their new pet without having hands bitten and clothes torn. No matter what they do, it always ends painfully, and they start to think the puppy is “bad” or “doesn’t like them” and they might even wonder if the mouthing will lead to serious biting when the dog grows up.
Older dogs who mouth a lot scare strangers who aren’t sure if the dog is behaving aggressively. Also, dogs who mouth their owners a lot are often confused about the leadership structure in the household (and think they might have a shot at being the boss, which can lead to multiple serious problems).
For these reasons, dog owners should know what mouthing is, reasons why it needs to be thoughtfully and seriously managed, and how to teach a dog appropriate use of its mouth among humans.
What is dog play-biting or mouthing?
All dogs play and interact using their jaws, teeth and tongue. Called “mouthing” or “play-biting” (very different from aggressive biting), it is their instinctual programming to play with their littermates and other dogs by jaw-wrestling and inhibited biting. Most dogs attempt to play with humans in this way as well, especially during puppyhood when the urge to use their mouth is strongest.
Play-biting serves an important purpose in a dog’s life. Because dogs use their mouths to interact with their world (unlike humans, who usually use their hands) it is crucial that a dog keeps this sensory organ in good shape with lots of exercise. Jaw-wrestling and inhibited biting are important parts of a dog’s social behaviour, and much rehearsal is necessary for these social behaviours to become honed to the point where the dog can function properly in doggie society. So, dogs mouth and play-bite throughout their lives to learn how hard or soft they should bite, and to keep their mouths speedy and functional.
Young puppies learn a great deal about how to appropriately use their mouths from their mother and littermates from four weeks of age. The mother dog will quickly and firmly discipline a puppy for mouthing too hard or too much, and the littermates will also teach each other when things have gone too far. People who don’t know any better often feel that because the puppies are weaned (happens at around 4 weeks old) and because the mother is becoming “mad” or “rough” with the puppies, that it’s time to send them on to their homes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Puppies need that experience in order to develop proper inhibition. Puppies that are taken away earlier than 7 weeks often mouth excessively and harder, and have more difficulty learning appropriate use of their mouth. Because play-biting is part of the social repertoire, dogs taken away too early can have more trouble than average when interacting with other dogs.
Why does mouthing need to be managed?
Dogs have to live with people. For this reason it is critical for dogs to learn appropriate use of their mouths with people. Because dogs can bite with great force, even in play, it is crucial to get a management plan and thoughtfully teach your dog what is appropriate, and what isn’t.
In particular, great care needs to be taken with dogs and children, who present the ultimate in excitement for a canine. They move quickly, they like to have fun, and best of all…they SQUEAK when bitten, better than the best squeaky toy on the pet store shelf! A child’s natural reaction to painful puppy teeth is to back or run away screaming shrilly. This stimulates the puppy to higher excitement levels and harder, more intense mouthing. An adult dog can badly bruise a child while innocently trying to play, and at the extreme worst, become so stimulated that they see the child as prey (especially when they hear that rabbit-like squeal and see the child running away).
Children like to “horse around” physically with dogs and often actually encourage the mouthing (until it gets too hard, at which point they “squeak”). This can lead to ripped clothing, bruises, broken skin. In the worst case, it can lead the dog to believe that the child is similar in status to a littermate or another dog that is lower in status. Dogs readily discipline dogs that are lower in status. A dog that has been allowed to mouth children can unintentionally learn that it’s OK to discipline a child for wrongdoings such as bumping into them, disturbing the dog while it is resting, trying to put the leash on and off, and for coming to close to anything the dog “owns.”
The same is true when adults horse around with a dog and allow mouthing. Dogs that are allowed to use their mouths on humans will sometimes get the idea that they are equal to or higher in status, and certainly will feel free to whip around and mouth during necessary handling or other times when the dog disagrees with what’s going on. For instance, when dogs are lying on the couch and the human tries to get them to move over, the dog that has been extensively allowed to mouth might choose to snap or even bite (the same thing he would do if a lesser-status dog made the brazen move of trying to push him out of his comfy spot). Putting on or taking off the leash becomes a struggle to stay out of the way of the dog’s teeth. Vet visits become a nightmare and nail clipping virtually impossible.
The dog learns that sometimes when it bites, it can cause a human to flinch, move away or stop. This is a very dangerous thing for a dog to learn. Dogs do what works. If snapping or biting has worked for them in the past, they will continue to try it in the future. For example, a dog that has whipped around and snapped during leashing will certainly escalate to actual biting in the future if the whipping around and snapping made the person even slightly flinch (and it’s almost impossible NOT to flinch under those circumstances).
This disciplinary behaviour can no longer be called “play-biting.” It is the real use of force and aggression to get their way, and definitely stems from the dog thinking it is allowed to use its mouth on people.
Another reason for thoughtful management of play-biting is how dogs act with people outside the immediate family home. If the dog encounters a stranger and tries to play-bite it can easily be misconstrued as aggression, which is dangerous to the dog. Often, dogs rip people’s clothing in an attempt to play. It’s easy for a dog to bruise or break skin while playing. All it takes is a person or two that claims the dog “bit” them to send the dog on a one-way trip to the vet’s office.
For all of these reasons, it is inadvisable to allow your puppy or dog to play with you using its mouth on your skin, clothing or hair.
When dogs play together, they usually play-bite and mouth. Often there is a great deal of growling and “imitation” aggression which can look and sound like true aggression—loud and scary! This is usually nothing to be worried about—it’s practice for dog/dog social behaviour, and you shouldn’t interfere unless one of the dogs is much larger than the other, much more physically fit (as in puppy/old dog situations) or much shyer. If you see desperate attempts to get away, it’s a good time to break it up. If the tone of the wrestling play begins to look more serious, it might be a good time for a break to allow the excitement levels to die down a bit before continuing play. Otherwise, play-biting between dogs is a nice way for the dogs to enjoy themselves, and is really important for maintenance of social skills. Generally it is not something to be concerned about and will not lead to dog/dog or dog/human aggression.
How is play-biting managed?
Fortunately, managing excessive mouthing is a simple exercise that gives speedy results and is very easy for the dog to learn. Dogs readily learn to distinguish between appropriate dog/dog play and appropriate dog/person play. Whether it’s a new puppy, a new older dog, or a dog that is already in your household, the methods for management are the same. Prevention, Redirection, and Punishment.
Prevention: Prevention of the mouthing is the first priority. Do not horse around with the dog and encourage it to mouth. It is difficult for the dog to learn that mouthing is only appropriate SOMETIMES. Consistency is the key. Also, be aware that as the excitement level of play gets higher, the tendency to mouth goes up exponentially. This means that if you are playing with your dog and he begins to get really excited, he will probably mouth you. Predict this fact and try to make a break in the play BEFORE the excitement levels go too high. In dog/child interactions, parents should carefully observe the puppy and break up the play before it gets out of hand.
Also be aware that as excitement levels increase, playful mouthing can easily become very hard biting or true aggression that is meant to do harm. Dogs that get to a really high level of excitement lose bite control/inhibition and can actually “click over” into aggressive mode. This is why it is particularly important to monitor excitement levels in play, and try to keep things to a medium or lower level.
Remember that dogs learn to do things by rehearsing the behaviour over and over. If the dog needs to learn to sit on command, the learning takes place by doing it again and again, and the dog gets better and better at it. So if the dog is allowed to play-bite again and again, he will definitely get better at it. The best way to teach a dog to mouth/play-bite is to allow him to do it! Prevention of this kind of learning is the first (and most crucial) step in managing this issue.
Redirection: A great way to play with your dog without encouraging mouthing is to use a toy or bone. In this way you can physically play with a dog, allow them to use their mouth, yet teach them that there is to be no contact with human skin, hair or clothing. You can get the same fun down on the floor horsing around allowing the pup to chew on a bone you are holding in your hand, a tug toy, or a stuffed animal.
The human must control the game, NOT the dog. Never start a game because the dog brought you the toy–keep fun toys up off the floor, and get them out only when you want to interact with the dog (you can of course leave some chewing items down). Then initiate the game and have a great time! To end the game, simply take the dog’s collar, hold him still, and let go of the toy. Wait for the dog to drop the toy, give a treat or praise, and put the toy away.
If a dog begins to mouth you, and you have a toy nearby, you can firmly say NO, then pick up the toy and encourage play while praising. This shows the dog that teeth on skin or clothes is a no-no but teeth on toy is fine.
Redirection allows the dog to play in the way nature intended, without harmful side effects. The dog gets a mentally and physically entertaining experience and you get to “horse around” with your dog!
Punishment: The dog needs to understand in very clear terms what IS allowed, and positive reinforcement should be used as much as possible, but at some point (especially in the case of puppies, who mouth much more than adult dogs) punishment will be necessary.
What works best as punishment for mouthing is simply to end the game. Have a baby gate or small room nearby to where you normally interact with your dog, and as soon as his teeth touch you, immediately stop and put him behind the baby gate or door for a time-out. It must be done extremely quickly, the instant he touches you with his teeth. Immediately drop eye contact, stop speaking to him, scoop him up or take him by the collar and good-bye doggie for a time-out from humans. The whole thing should be unemotional and FAST.
The play must be stopped and dog in the time-out area within 10 seconds of the mouthing for this to work. In addition, it might be a good idea to intentionally stimulate mouthing (get down on the floor and horse around) over and over for 5-10 minutes so that you can quickly show him that not mouthing=continued play and mouthing=game over. Many repetitions in a short period of time is the quickest way for a dog to learn. With new puppies, doing this twice or three times a day will help them to understand more quickly.
You needn’t be harsh or physical with your dog to teach him not to mouth—just consistent. TOOTH CONTACT=TIME OUT. No exceptions!
Using this method also produces a very beneficial side effect—it teaches the dog “who’s the boss” and reinforces that humans are the leaders.
Advanced Method: Another method is to allow the dog to mouth your hands, and time him out as suggested above only when he bites too hard.
HARD tooth contact=TIME OUT. The game is always initiated and ended by the human and not the dog.
It is theorized that this method teaches the dog that humans are much more delicate than dogs. Certainly dogs playfully bite one another much harder than our sensitive skin can tolerate. Using this method, you might be able to get some “insurance” that the dog will realize that bites to humans need to be more inhibited, so that if the dog ever does bite fearfully (a possibility with any dog) hopefully the damage will not be as great as it could be. This theory is of course impossible to prove, but makes a lot of sense. Correct implementation of this method does not produce the harmful side effects of un-managed mouthing.
However, this method presents several challenges to its success and is not the best choice for dog trainers to advise to clients, or for inexperienced people to attempt. It is difficult for a person to accurately judge just how hard is “too hard” on a consistent basis. Most dogs are interacting with more than just one person in the family, and if Jimmy lets the dog mouth very hard before timing him out and Molly times him out for just a little pressure, there is so much inconsistency that it’s difficult for the dog to learn.
This method requires extremely good judgment and timing. Because most people are not experienced dog trainers, good success is difficult for the average home. In capable hands and with utter consistency, however, it is probably an ideal solution for managing mouthing.
I use this method successfully with my own dogs, but do not recommend it to most pet homes due to my experiences with a general lack of success in those situations.
Dog books and internet sites widely promote many different methods for managing mouthing. Unfortunately, these methods don’t often work, sometimes make the mouthing worse, or cause unwanted side effects such as fear or aggression.
Forceful Methods: These include slapping the muzzle, squeezing the mouth shut, forcefully shoving your hand down the dog’s throat, etc. Sometimes these methods work to stop the mouthing, but usually produce unwanted side effects. A dog with a soft temperament will usually stop mouthing, but has a good chance of becoming fearful, anxious, distrustful of his owner, or even become so fearful that he bites. With “harder” dogs, this method rarely works to stop the mouthing and will usually actually cause the mouthing to get worse. With Labrador Retrievers, for example, this method is FUN.
Pushy, physical dogs actually take the physical contact as a “bring it on” signal and escalate the mouthing, or may try to bite you to discipline you for daring to push THEM around!
Yelping: Puppies and dogs often yelp when they are bitten too hard, causing the dog doing the biting to cease momentarily. It is theorized that when the puppy bites, imitating this yelping or yelling OUCH in a high-pitched voice will make him stop. The yelping/OUCH method sometimes work, but only with pups of a shyer or softer temperament. Bolder pups can take it as an exciting “squeak” and become more excited which of course leads to more, harder mouthing. If you wish to try this method, YELP loudly and sharply, and if the puppy stops mouthing, quietly and slowly stroke the puppy’s head and verbally praise as soon as they stop.
Be aware that with any method you choose, puppies will be much more persistent in their mouthing attempts than adult dogs and require far more attention and consistency of handling in order to improve. Certain breeds such as terriers and nearly all of the retriever breeds have extremely high “oral fixations” and puppies from these breeds usually need careful management for months before the concept is truly understood and accepted.
If your gut feeling is that the biting is coming from a motivation other than play, you might be right and should seek professional help for a solution. The problem will not go away on its own and action needs to be taken to prevent further escalation.
|Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.|
|All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
On April 22, 2013, Logan, my German Shepherd Dog, crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. He had DM, Degenerative Myelopathy, a death sentence for a dog. Some breeds are at risk for getting this, particularly GSD. The dog must be euthanized for they will end up dying. This is similar to MS in humans.
After I cried my heart out, I went to Westside German Shepherd Rescue to adopt a GSD.
I bought Logan 8 years ago from a breeder in Germany. My heart’s desire was to have a GSD who was trained in Schutzhund, which is a dog field sport in Germany. They take it very seriously: there is a field where the dog works out, a judge and scorecard. They are tested in tracking, obedience and protection. Logan was Schutzhund Level 2.
Back to WGSR. I took home a 2-yr-old GSD that I discovered had severe separation anxiety. I left him home alone one day. When I returned a lot of my crystal was smashed, kitchen blinds torn down, 2 lamps knocked over!! He reacted violently to my leaving. My vet also told me he had an autoimmune eye disease which would require regular vet visits and meds for his life! I returned this dog to the rescue. I simply could not afford the expenses involved.
I adopted another dog from WGSR who bit me, attacked my cat and 2 dogs I was boarding!! My vet advised me to return her. If she bites one of the dogs I’m boarding, it could open me up to liability. Interestingly enough, I always name my dogs and cats very quickly, in minutes/hours. I could not name this dog; nothing came to me. Yes, I had to return this one too.
My friends had been telling me all along to get a puppy due to my business of boarding dogs in my home and my two cats. So, I bought a puppy from a breeder.
I bought Logan 8 years ago because I wanted a particular kind of dog. Now, I really wanted to save a dog from a shelter and give him a home. There are way too many homeless dogs out there!! Now I was not planning to shell out money to buy a dog.
The 8-week-old puppy I bought, however, had a bad heart. My vet sent me to a cardiologist and she told me this dog was going to have major heart problems in his life and advised me to return him. So, yep, returned him too.
Finally, I got 12-week-old GSD I named Bailey in exchange from the breeder. He is doing just fine. It took me 30 minutes to name him! He does have diarrhea–my vet put him on special diet and meds–and he needs housebraking. Ah, now there’s a challenge!! Housebraking! German Shepherd Dogs are very smart and I know he will catch on soon………..sooner, please!!
Now consider that in about four weeks, I brought 4 dogs to my vet. Can you hear my money flying away?!
But it’s all worth it. I have an adorable 14-week-old GSD puppy sleeping at my feet as I type this with his head on my foot. I just love it!!