shadow

Dealing with Thunder and Dogs

Originally published June 27, 2014

There is thunder. Cochise tries desperately to tell Doug that something HORRIBLE is going on outside and that he NEEDS to come check it out. But, alas, Doug is not paying attention. What ever is a Guardian of the Realm to do?

We’re kind of poking fun here, but some dogs can be seriously stressed out by loud noises like thunder, fireworks and gun shots. What can be done to calm them?

Taking the Stress Out Of Veterinarian Visits

Originally published, September 5, 2014

veterinarian stressRegular visits to your dog’s veterinarian are an essential part of life if your dog is to remain healthy. Your dog will need a regular check-up and routine inoculations at the minimum, and dealing with health issues or accidents as the need arises. Getting your dog to the vet and answering the questions are tough enough but if your dog is feeling stress at the same time, it can be a really unpleasant experience for both of you (and the vet – and everyone else in the facility!) Wouldn’t it be much better to have your dog enjoy, even looked forward to his regular veterinarian visits?

Preparation Avoids Stress

The first step is getting there. If you have a puppy it’s probably not an issue, if you have adopted an older dog her history may cause her to not like riding in your car. Also, if the only time she rides is to go to the vet, and past vet visits were unpleasant, then she will associate riding with an unpleasant destination. Dissipate any stressful associations by taking her riding to pleasant places: a park for a walk, or to a dog-friendly store to do some shopping, if you haul trash to a collection center, take the dog with you. Do NOT take the dog if you will leave her locked in your car while you go inside, especially if it’s warm out. The purpose of the outing is for your dog to have fun with you while riding or immediately after riding in the car, dispelling the idea that a car ride means bad things are about to happen to her.

Separation Anxiety and Your Dog

Originally published November 14th, 2014

separation anxietyYour dog adores you. She follows you around and wants to be near you all the time. And that’s wonderful – until you must go away. Then your dog howls or barks or chews on things until you return. This is called separation anxiety. Unless you can stay home 24/7 or take the dog with you everywhere you go, you must deal with this issue (or replace a lot of shoes and furniture and endure the wrath of neighbors). To make things worse, sometimes this condition is your fault. I know: I’m guilty too.

I was getting ready to go out in the yard and do some work. Marie was resting on the sofa. I informed Marie I was going outside and asked if she needed anything before I left. She said, “Just take Blondie with you: she goes spastic every time you leave the house.”

Blondie has a mild separation anxiety issue. When I leave, she paces through the house peering out all the windows to see where I’ve gone.

Blondie is needy. She spent most of her life in an extremely neglectful situation and was totally withdrawn when she was rescued. We fostered her and helped her come out of her shell. We fell in love with the affectionate, silly girl she became and adopted her. Gun fire and thunder make her very nervous and she comes to me for comforting. I stroke her head to ease her anxiety. That’s the wrong thing to do, but I’ve done it.

We spend all of almost every day together. Blondie follows me around like a golden shadow. Sometimes she comes and asks for skritchies, and I’ll give them for a short time. She is accustomed to my being here, when I leave she gets anxious. But she’s a good girl: never misbehaves, she just runs around looking for me. I’m lucky: many people have dogs that do bad things when they are left alone. If yours is one of them, here’s what this is and how to deal with it.

Dogs and Socialization: part 2

Originally published November 7, 2014

socialization
Is your dog gentlemanly in public?

In part 1, we discussed how to introduce your adult dog to a new dog. This time I want to discuss the importance of socialization between your dog and other people.

Socialization of Dogs and People

Dogs are social creatures. By their nature, they usually get along well with people: unless they have reason not to. Any animal that is abused by a person can learn to mistrust, avoid, and fear people. That’s a blanket statement, so it is true only in the most general terms. If a dog knows only its abuser, then she will most likely fear all people. If a dog is abused by a man, but his wife is kind to her, she may well fear only men. An abusive teenager with kind and gentle (though not very attentive) parents may instill a socialization age bias.

Puppies

Socialization of a puppy is pretty simple: once he’s had all his shots and the vet gives you the OK, simply expose the puppy to other people in a positive way. Rarely will a puppy pick up a disease from a person, but if these people also have a dog, this is a danger to your puppy. Begin this socialization as early as you can, so the pup doesn’t become fixated on you. Normally, puppies are very friendly and gregarious; socializing with people should not be an issue. Making interaction with other people a regular part of their life will keep them that way.

Dogs and Socialization: part 1

Originally published October 21, 2014

Drake and Blondie successfull socialization
Drake and Blondie

Dogs are by nature, social creatures. Even in the wild, they exist in packs: social units that allow for sharing resources, mutual protection and companionship. For domesticated dogs there are two types of socialization: getting along with other dogs, and getting along with people.

There would be a third type if you want to include dogs getting along with other species of animals. However, taking a dog that has grown up thinking that cats, hamsters chickies, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, birds, (whatever you have) are food and teaching it to see them as a friend is beyond my scope or ability.

The most common socialization problem we see here at Piney Mountain Foster Care is dogs who were neglected. Sometimes this is a dog that was chained in the yard, given enough food and water to survive, but that’s about it. No love, no personal care. Blondie was one such dog. When taken in by the Dr. Carol Hood Memorial Animal Shelter, she was so withdrawn and depressed she acted as though she were autistic. More often the problem is a family that decided having a puppy would be fun, but they had no idea how to train it. So the bouncy, happy-go-lucky ball of fur turns into a bouncy, happy-go-lucky dog weighing 30 to 60 pounds and hasn’t got a clue how to behave any way other than what has always done: just being its happy-go-lucky self. This proves inconvenient for the family, so they take it to the shelter to be rid or it — or abandon it somewhere to become someone else’s problem.

10 Tips For Crate Training Your Dog

Originally published November 21, 2014

crate training
This silly Snoozer is obviously comfortable with his crate.

When used properly, crate training provides you and your dog with multiple benefits. For you it provides a simple, effective means of restricting your dog when you cannot provide close supervision. If your dog is an explorer, he may get into things that will harm him. If she’s a chewer, your home may suffer from allowing her to roam unsupervised. Crating also helps with housebreaking because a dog has a natural aversion to soiling its own sleeping space.

For your dog crate training offers a safe haven, a room or space of his own. It is a familiar place. Whether you go on the road or just move around a large home, having a place of his own brings your dog a feeling of safety. If your dog is ill or just been spayed or neutered, a familiar crate is quite comforting. A crate is effective in combating separation anxiety or fear of a thunderstorm because of the snug, safe feeling an enclosed crate can provide.

Canine Hypothyroidism Causes and Treatment

Originally published May 18, 2015

Doug on canine hypothyroidism
Doug the Dog Boss

Canine Hypothyroidism is the reduced function (hypo) of the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in the neck, on the trachea, and makes a hormone called thyroxine that controls metabolism. When the gland doesn’t make enough thyroxine, the dogs metabolism slows abnormally.

It’s a common disease in dogs that can affect all breeds, but it is most often found in medium to large breeds like Golden Retrievers, Doberman Pinchers, Irish Setters, Dachshunds, Boxers, Cocker Spaniels — and bulldogs. It usually occurs in middle-aged dogs (ages 4 to 10) and neutered males and spayed females are at a higher risk, though experts are not sure why. In most cases hypothyroidism is caused by your dog’s own immune system attacking his thyroid gland!

Canine Pneumonia and Heartworm

Originally published November 18, 2015

Bristol in recovery - canine pneumoniaBristol has canine pneumonia. He started coughing on Sunday, by Monday morning it was a continuous thing if he got active at all. A deep, rattly cough that ended with an ejection of phlegm. No blood (thankfully), so an embolism is not indicated. I contacted our Vet Tech, Alicia.

Because he is ill, Bristol has lost his seat on this weekend’s Rolling Rescue run. Hopefully he will be well again by the Rescue run in two weeks.

Parasitic pneumonia in dogs is often caused by lungworms directly or from the migration of other worms (e.g. heartworms) through the lung. 9 out of every 69 dogs (13%) treated for heartworm also develop pneumonia. At this stage (he’s just finishing his recovery period), I do not think the pneumonia was caused by heartworm migration, because they should all be long dead. However, the dead worm tissue in his lungs may have opened a path for a bacterial infection that resulted in pneumonia. Heart disease or heart failure can lead to pneumonia; perhaps this is aftermath of his heartworm infestation and damage to his heart. The heart damage should heal in time. His lungs may have been irritated by the couple of cold, damp nights we had.

Symptoms of Canine Pneumonia

The hallmark symptom shown by dogs suffering from pneumonia is coughing (although of course not all coughing dogs have pneumonia). In addition, watch out for these symptoms:

6 Tips on Selecting Pet Food

Originally published November 29th, 2015

pet foodThere is a bewildering array of pet food brands, and products within brands, out there to choose from. Products ranging from dry kibble, to canned, to fresh-frozen, to raw meat are available. All have some benefit, all have some risk. How do you decide which of these are best for your lifestyle and your pet’s health? Here are some tips to help you wend your way through the brand maze and select the best products to consider.

#1: The Pet Food Company

Many pet owners don’t trust larger pet food companies, thinking that a large corporation is by nature callous and uncaring. Smaller brands are more closely linked to their customers and likely to make better, safer products. However, statistics tell a different story.

When To Throw the Red Flag On Dogs Play

Originally published Nov. 4th, 2016

Cochise on dogs play
Cochise tells the tale

Most dogs like to play. Most of a dogs play is a lighthearted version of real-life skills: chasing, catching, fetching and … fighting.

As long as it’s done in the name of good, harmless fun, there is no problem. But if it should slide beyond play: because one “combatant” feels he is losing and doesn’t want to, things can get bloody fast.

Breaking up a dog fight is dangerous, especially if there is only one Peoples. It is best to red flag it before play turns to fight.

Signs of Play

Sampson demonstrates the classic Play Bow

When we’re playing, the tails will be swinging happily from side to side, we may bounce side to side or enter a play bow (forelegs and chest on the ground, butt in the air), we may lunge and retreat. When happy, our eyes are open and round, ears are up, and our mouths should be open and “smiling”. We may sound like we’re about to kill each other, but as long as it’s just trash-talking we’re okay.

We may wrestle each other to the ground and pin our opponent there. We may leap around and over one another, we may body slam each other, or we may take off and run – incorporating these other moves when we get the opportunity. Biting is okay as long as it’s gentle.