Will You Help the Helpless?

September 22nd, 2015 Comments off


Animal welfare groups across the country are struggling to raise awareness of the plight of hundreds of thousands of puppies suffering in cramped, crude, filthy puppy mills where there is constant breeding of unhealthy and often genetically defective dogs solely for profit. . It is common to find dogs housed in makeshift shelters such as salvaged trucks, semi trailers, or old buildings without heat or adequate ventilation, meaning that the dogs freeze in the winter and die of heat in the summer.. Kept in small cages their entire lives, their fur is matted and filthy, and bodies are covered with sores. Many have bite scars because of the dog fights that occur in such cramped conditions from which there is no escape. They aren’t exercised, and lack socialization or human compassion. They are not provided adequate vet care or nutrition. Adult dogs are bred until their bodies are so worn out that they stop producing or develop serious health problems, at which time they may be shot, abandoned, or sold at auctions. Unfortunately this is a reality for thousands of dogs in Iowa puppy mills.

Iowa is still the second worse state in the entire country for the number of puppy mills, and it seems like everyone “feels bad”, but improvement is slow… until we become involved, really involved, things will not change. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” In a world of people who seemingly couldn’t care less about puppy mill dogs, , hopefully excerpts from this letter I am sharing (with permission) from a rescuer to a puppy mill owner, will inspire us all to become people who couldn’t care more! One of the most powerful things we can do is to spread compassion to animals. The power of animal lovers joined together can change animal protection and welfare. Let’s use our power and decide to help the helpless!

“Dear Puppy Miller,

I have been involved in dog rescue essentially my entire life, and for the record, I am not an animal rights activist. I am simply a person who believes in the right of humane treatment for all living beings. What I witnessed on your property was far from humane. Hundreds of terrified ailing faces, imprisoned in their wire confines, some staring at me, but most too fearful to look into my eyes, so unsure of how to interpret human contact. That experience has caused me countless sleepless nights and to this very day, the sadness and the fear in their eyes haunt my very being.

I am completely aware that you were operating within USDA standards and that many of your dogs are AKC registered—what a despicable thought this is. I am also aware that in your circles, commercial breeding dogs are considered livestock. Dogs are not livestock…years ago, man domesticated dogs to be our protectors, hunters, herders, guardians, but most of all our companions.

I focus on just one of your dogs, Lily, that I brought home with me. It was agonizing for our family to watch her survive through four surgeries to remove mammary tumors, to attempt to repair her decaying face, and to spay her, removing the papery black, pus filled organ that was once her uterus. How selfish of you to never see her pain, just dollars. You spent more than forty years of your God given life, using dogs for personal gain. No regard to their physical or mental well-being, just cashing in on their ability to reproduce. Think about the thousands of dogs that passed through your hands—you robbed them of the simply joys they so deserve…a good meal, a warm, comfortable place to sleep, medical attention, and most of all, a human companion to make their lives whole. In our home, Lily learned about being a family member, being a dog, being worthy, being loved. She changed our lives forever, and she died as a direct result of the neglect she suffered for seven years in your care. How many others have suffered the same fate? Your industry has been hidden far to long. The word is out. The days are numbered. People like you will soon venture out into fields of honest work and leave the care of God’s creatures to those of us who truly care.”

To see the complete story of Lily and other puppy mill dogs,  go to http://milldogrescue.org

If you are really concerned about the plight of Iowa dogs, we invite you to mark Saturday, October 3, on your calendar. The TLC, 602 East Chaney Street, Newell, Iowa is hosting an informational meeting and a PIZZA PARTY!!! Come join us at noon for pizza, and learn the facts about Iowa dogs. We are privileged to have Mary Lahay, President of Iowa Voters for Companion Animals, as our honored guest. Mary will share specific ways you can be involved in making life better for Iowa dogs.

Please RSVP that you will join us for free pizza and inspiration – call 712-272-3553 or e-mail plarsen@rconnect.com

There may be times when it seems we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to try…A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history—Gandhi


Being a Pet Caregiver Requires Commitment

September 14th, 2015 Comments off

Adding a pet to the family circle should never be an impulse decision. Everyone in your household needs to willingly commit to responsible pet care before getting a pet, because, just like people, animals require love and attention, medical care, and consistent interaction. Of course, it is important that you can afford to properly feed and care for an animal, but even more important is that you have time each day to devote to your new friend, that you understand that he needs regular play and exercise, and that you are willing and able to offer a lifetime home to him.

With the crisis overpopulation of dogs, it is important to have your friend spayed or neutered, eliminating the “oops” accidental breeding that often occurs with dogs that are left intact. Altered pets not only live longer and healthier lives, but they also make better companions. The best age to spay or neuter a dog is about six months old, at the beginning of puberty, but it is important to talk to your vet about the right time for your specific dog.

Effective positive obedience classes are great and include people training as well as dog training. New pet caregivers need to be aware of the dog’s unique temperament and tendencies to help better control behavior. Having a well-behaved dog requires time and effort on the part of the human. Dogs are dogs, and many actions that humans consider inappropriate are simply expressions of natural behavior. Dogs dig; dogs bark; dogs chew. These are things that come natural to a dog, and even though our domesticated dogs no longer hunt for their food, they are still predators by nature, and they need to be busy. They do dog things… and will sometimes exhaust your patience, but inappropriate behavior is almost always the fault of the humans…too little interaction and too little training. Teaching what is and what is not appropriate behavior is YOUR responsibility, and every member of the family needs to follow the same rules. Dogs do not automatically know what is expected of them, unless rules, boundaries and limitations have been taught. Consistency is the key to having a well-behaved dog

September is National Responsible Dog Ownership Month, and the American Kennel Club includes these promises that responsible caregivers should make not just in September, but all year-round:

  • I will never overlook my responsibilities for this living being and recognize that my dog’s welfare is totally dependent on me.
  • I will always provide fresh water and quality food for my dog.
  • I will socialize my dog with exposure to new people, places, and other dogs.
  • I will take pride in my dog’s appearance with regular grooming.
  • I will recognize the necessity of basic training by teaching my dog to reliably sit, stay, and come when called.
  • I will take my dog to the vet regularly and keep all vaccinations current.
  • I will pick up and properly dispose of my dog’s waste.
  • I will ensure that the proper amount of exercise and mental stimulation is provided.
  • I will ensure that my dog has some form of identification. This may include tags, tattoo, or microchip.
  • I will adhere to all local animal regulations.

Life sometimes takes unexpected turns, and lifestyles and circumstances change. Adjustments may need to be made for the well being of both your two legged and four legged companions, but commitments, once made, should be honored, even if it is inconvenient or difficult. Your dog is a forever dog!


I am a forever dog, not an “until” dog.

I’m not an “until you get bored with me” dog.

I’m not an “until you have a baby” dog.

I’m not an “until you have decide to move” dog.

I’m not an “until you have no time” dog.


If you can’t give me your forever, then I’m not your dog.



Toy Safety For Dogs

September 8th, 2015 Comments off

Dogs love to play, whether it’s playing tug of war, chasing a ball, or making a squeaky toy squeak, but not every toy is suitable for every dog. With today’s active, hectic lifestyles, dogs are spending more and more time home alone, and they need boredom busters, but many commercial toys are simply not safe to be left with an unsupervised dog. Toys need to be carefully selected to be appropriate for your dog’s size, activity level, and chewing abilities, and all toys should be cleaned regularly…many of the quality toys are dishwasher safe!

Be sure that the toy is a suitable size for your dog. Don’t choose a toy that can be easily swallowed or become lodged in your dog’s throat. A tennis boll may not be the best option for a large Rottweiler, or a heavy, cumbersome rope would be awkward for a teacup size dog. The most common ball given to dogs is the tennis ball, but many animal welfare experts discourage giving tennis balls to any unsupervised dog. The fuzz that covers them is abrasive and can wear your dog’s teeth down, or be ripped off, or punctured and get caught on a tooth. A recommended alternative is the Air Kong Squeaker that looks like a tennis ball, but is covered in a non-abrasive material, and contains a securely-concealed squeaker for extra fun. Another great ball with extra features is the Huck Ball, which has a grooved shape that makes it jump in all kinds of crazy directions. It is made from a durable material which makes it a good choice for dogs that have a tendency to chew through a traditional ball. Avoid balls with single air holes, which can create a deadly suction trap.

Durability should always be considered. Some dogs do fine with soft, fluffy toys, and others will destroy them and eat the pieces, which can result in a dangerous gastro-intestinal obstruction. Avoid toys that have removable parts or small pieces such as plastic eyes, which the dog can chew off. Squeakers can also be dangerous. Most dogs love to play with toys that squeak, and some will chew until they destroy the toy and get the squeaker out…once the squeaker comes out, the dog can swallow it. Before leaving your dog unsupervised with a squeaky toy, be sure he is not the kind who will be tempted to get to the squeaker.

Public concern has increased about the safety of vinyl products for children, but there are no regulations regarding the safety of dog toys, leaving the dog toy industry unsupervised. The best way to avoid toxins from synthetic chemicals is to not buy synthetic products, but they are hard to dodge these days, and even natural things may be treated with nasty stuff. “Vinyl” is the common name for polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, and manufacturers infuse the PVC with a number of additives to make the items soft, flexible, and willing to take colors. According to Greenpeace Research Laboratories, “You can end up with a vinyl product of which only a small proportion is actually PVC, with many additives that pose health risks. Before buying, use your senses. Strong chemical smells indicate residual chemicals If you can smell vinyl, then you, and your, dog are inhaling additives that are toxic. The stronger a vinyl toy smells, the greater amount of toxins it contains, so before you buy a cute little vinyl toy, give it the sniff test. They may look fun and colorful, but many toys on the store shelves are not good for your dog. It is important to check that you are getting a product that is safe and nontoxic. Remembering that NO toy is completely indestructible, and new toys should never be left with an unattended dog. A few companies worth checking out are godogfun.comkongcompany.complanetdog.com, and westpawdesign.com.

Keep a variety of toy types on hand and maintain your dog’s interest by rotating them, to make old toys seem like new again, but remember that no toy is a substitute for interaction. Your dog will appreciate you more than toys!


Categories: Health & Wellness, Toys Tags:

Your Dog Ate WHAT?

August 30th, 2015 Comments off

As any dog caregiver knows, dogs can sometimes be less than discriminating about chewing and swallowing inedible things, including rocks, gravel, wood, string, pantyhose, and sometimes feces. The official name for eating non-edible objects is “pica”, and it is frustrating to the human, but it can be downright dangerous to the dog. Pica can cause broken teeth, intestinal blockages, vomiting, diarrhea, and possible death.

Probably the most distressing form of pica is coprophagy—a Greek word that literally translates “eating feces.” As humans we find it disgusting, but it is not unusual for dogs to eat their own stools or that of other dogs, or the deposits left in the cat’s litter box.

So why do dogs eat weird stuff? No one really knows, but many animal behaviorists offer these theories:

  1. Instinct…in the wild parent dogs consume the waste of their young offspring to keep their dens clean.
  2. Frustration or boredom. Mindless eating is sometimes a reaction to stress or anxiety. Dogs can’t refill their own food bowls when they are hungry or bored, so they may turn to the environment for something to eat.
  3. Nutritional deficiencies. Experts speculate that dogs eat things like rocks or feces in order to obtain some nutrient missing in their diets, but there have been no documented studies to support this theory.
  4. Chewing compulsions. Some claim that dogs who are avid chewers simply get carried away and swallow non-edible objects that they are chewing on.

Veterinary Practice News editor Marilyn Iturri created a contest in 2007 to showcase the humorous situations vets and pet caregivers face when dealing with dogs eating inappropriate objects, and the competition was a hit with readers, so each year they have a “They ate What?” Contest. Iturra said that dogs seem to often eat golf balls, small rubber balls, rubber ducks, and clothing items, plus a variety of metal objects not meant for consumption

The last contest included a 2-month old rat terrier experiencing with vomiting and stomach pain. Radiographs found a small metal clip, and approximately 14 inches of a bra and bra strap had to be surgically removed from the stomach and small intestine. Norris is thriving, but he is no longer allowed in the family laundry room.

Another entry was a Great Dane who started vomiting, and after exploratory surgery, the family was shocked to find out that their dog had eaten 43 socks… actually 43 ½ socks!

Colby, a l0-month old Golden Retriever, threw up for nearly two days before his owners took him to the vet where they discovered he had eaten a light bulb…an entire, intact light bulb. After a day of intravenous fluids, he passed the light bulb intact.

Hopefully your dog won’t eat items that could be hazardous to his health, but it is important to try to control your dog’s eating strange stuff.

  1. Visit with your veterinarian to rule out medical problems, and make sure your dog is getting good nutrition without a lot of fillers or chemical additives in their food.
  2. Manage the problem, by supervising the dog to prevent him from ingesting non-edible objects, and when you can’t be there, keep the dog in an environment free of weird objects that they might eat. Provide appropriate, inedible play and chewing materials.
  3. Provide positive attention, exercise, training and play. Tired, socially tended dogs spend less time expressing oral energy than their wired, lonely counterparts do.
  4. Treat the objects your dog is attracted to with something that has a bad taste. Listerine, vinegar, or commercial products like Bitter Apple will usually discourage her from eating them. When you do catch your dog eating a nasty thing, take the object away, and redirect her to an acceptable chew toy.
  5. Resist the temptation to scold, as this may be interpreted by your dog as attention and inadvertently reinforce the behavior…Never punish your dog for this behavior…It will only make him fearful or aggressive.

Be alert for symptoms that suggest your dog has swallowed a substance that may form an indigestible mass and has blocked the intestines. When symptoms such as pain, lack of bowel movements, abdominal bloat or distention are present, immediate medical evaluation is needed. Swallowed objects can present a medical hazard to your dog, (and can be very expensive) so it is important to do all you can to prevent serious problems and keep your dog’s digestive system free of foreign objects.


Help Your Dog Avoid the Back to School Blues

August 24th, 2015 Comments off

When summer is over and it’s time to go back to school, the kids often suffer from a bout of “back to school blues” as they adjust to classroom regimentation, but the effect isn’t limited to the two legs. All summer long, there was probably someone home with the dog, and now that everyone is back to fall schedules, dogs may feel neglected, or even experience anxiety or depression, and look for inappropriate ways to cope. According to veterinarian Nick Dodman, nearly 20 percent of our nation’s 80 million dogs have some degree of separation issues, and more than half of dogs with separation anxiety will bark, howl or whine, and some will destroy something, leaving behind scratched doors, damaged blinds or torn curtains. Dodman emphasizes that dogs like structure and when that structure is disrupted, it is sometimes difficult for dogs to adjust to changes, such as to long stretches of being home alone.

Even if your dog does not exhibit signs of separation anxiety, she will appreciate a routine that ensures she gets enough attention and exercise. Here are a few strategies that will make the home-alone transition less traumatic:

  • Be consistent. Keep as close to the same schedule as he is used to for feeding, playtime, and exercise, but if necessary, get up early to take the dog for a walk or have some playtime before everyone leaves for the day. This will help your dog feel less ignored in the hustle and bustle of the morning, and burn off excess energy before you leave. A good walk will help start the day off right, setting the stage for good behavior all day. If you can’t walk outside, a tread mill is a life saver. Most dogs can be taught to enjoy treadmilling with a minimum of training.
  • Keep departures and arrivals low key. Car keys, lunch boxes, and back packs clinking and clanging will have your dog waiting at the door expecting to be included in any anticipated activity. No “huggy-kissy, I’ll miss you” scenes which will unintentionally create anxiety in him. Act calm, quiet and casual…if you act like it’s no big deal, then it won’t be a big deal.
  • Make your dog’s home-alone time a source of pleasure and discovery by leaving a few safe toys around the house, being sure to hide them in areas where the dog is allowed, and consider leaving food-dispensing games. A few well stuffed Kongs will provide hours of diversion for her. (Be sure to choose the best sized kongs…large enough that she couldn’t possibly swallow them, but not so big that she can’t get her jaws around it) If you stuff Kongs in the evening and freeze them, you can just grab several from the freezer in the morning.. When filling a Kong, be sure that the dessert, the last thing your dog will be able to extract from the toy, is packed in first. Make this layer irresistible, to keep the dog motivated all the way to the end of the Kong. Fill the first third of the cavity with tasty bits of cheese, bits of bacon, or whatever special goodies suits your dog’s fancy. Then fill the next two-thirds with your dog’s regular food, mixed with something sticky and tasty like cream cheese, low fat yogurt, or peanut butter. Top the Kong off with a particularly tasty morsel sticking out of the opening to give your dog an immediate reward. Some trainers advocate feeding the dog’s entire morning’s kibble in Kongs. (Remember to wash the Kongs regularly…they can be placed on the top rack of the dishwasher or scrubbed by hand.)
  • If possible take a lunch break…..if someone in your house can go home during lunch to let the dog out for a quick walk. It will really help relieve the stress of being alone for 8 hours. If that’s not an option, consider having a friend stop by or paying a dog walker, or a doggie day care a few days a week.
  • At the end of a day alone, remember that your dog needs to be played with. Another walk, or playtime in the yard gets out all that pent up energy and lets her know you still love her even if you have to be gone.

Help your dog beat the back to school blues, and if problems arise, remember punishment for anxiety or inappropriate behavior is NEVER productive. The dog is misbehaving because he is upset or traumatized, not out of spite. Patience, persistence, and positive reinforcement will usually correct any minor difficulties.

Put Your Best Paw Forward for National Homeless Animals Month

August 17th, 2015 Comments off

Animal protection organizations and concerned groups and individuals from around the world come together in August each year to raise awareness about the pet overpopulation epidemic. Most dog caregivers consider their dogs as important members of their families, and pamper them with love and care, but not all dogs receive that kind of treatment. In our country, there are more animals roaming the streets and languishing in shelters than there are living safely in homes. According to Petag.com, between two and three thousand cats and dogs are born EVERY HOUR in the United States, compared to only 415 humans being born each hour, which obviously results in a tremendous overpopulation of needy animals. Stray dogs are susceptible to illness, injury, inclement weather, being hit by cars, and abuse by humans, and unlike wild animals, domestic breeds do not usually possess the instincts to help them in survive on their own. They are dependent on human assistance.

Will Doig, in an article on Salon.com, gives estimates for the total number of feral dogs and cats in the U. S. to be around l00 million, but stresses that the actual number is probably much higher, especially in economically hard-hit cities where neighborhoods are being abandoned, or residents are without employment. Reduced city budgets also have meant more limited animal control and shelter services. It is a volatile issue as to what should be done with stray dogs. Do you know how your community or state deals with this problem? In many states, including Iowa, ordinances states that “it shall be lawful for any person, and the duty of peace officers within their respective jurisdictions (unless such jurisdiction shall have otherwise provided for the seizure and impoundment of dogs), to kill any dog when the dog is not wearing a collar with rabies vaccination tag attached.” Although it is legal, most law enforcement officers try their best to find more humane solutions, but it is legal! Sad but true.

Every community has homeless dogs needing good forever homes, Documentation asserts that most street animals are the offspring of abandoned animals, so one of the most important things we can do to help homeless animals is to educate the public about the importance of spaying and neutering them. This will ensure that they will not bring more unwanted animals into the world.

By choosing a pet from a shelter rather than a pet store, you are saving an animal from a possible horrible fate, and if you are not ready to adopt a pet, consider donating your time or money to a shelter or rescue group. While you may take special precautions to ensure that your own pet is safe and happy, we encourage you to reach out to homeless pets, Animal homelessness is everyone’s problem!

A Stray’s Prayer

Please send me somebody who will care…I am tired of running and sick with despair.

My body is aching and so racked with pain; I bark and I howl but it’s all in vain.

Will someone please love me and give me a home?

I rummage in garbage and am tired and hungry and cold.

I am chased me with sticks; and hit with stones while I run the streets

Just looking for scraps. I am a good dog, but I am a victim of man.

I’m worm and ridden with fleas; my body is covered with sores.

All I want is a human to love and a safe place to live indoors.

I don’t think I’ll make it too much longer on my own,

Cause I’m getting so weak, and I’m, oh, so alone.

I hide in the bushes and cry, knowing that I am about to die.

I’ve got so much love and devotion to give; all I need is a new chance to live.

Will somebody please care enough to rescue me?


Cecil the Lion Generates an Outcry of Disgust and Sadness

August 10th, 2015 Comments off

The senseless death of Cecil the lion dominated the news recently, and although there are conflicting reports concerning this now-world famous lion, everyone expressed huge disgust and sadness. Cecil, a 13 year old major attraction at the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, was being studied and tracked by Oxford University as part of a larger study, and was a favorite tourist attraction at the park. In June of this year, an American recreational big-game hunter paid more than $50,000 to a professional hunter to enable him to kill a lion. Allegedly, Cecil was lured out of the sanctuary where he was safe, where he was shot and wounded with an arrow. He was tracked for several days and was finally killed with a rifle, skinned, and his head removed. His headless skeleton was found by park investigators, and the killing has drawn international media attention and well-deserved outrage. The American hunter left Zimbabwe and returned to the United States where he expressed regret for the killing, maintaining that he had relied on the expertise of local professional guides to ensure that the hunt was legal. His public statement concluded with “I regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in taking this lion.”

I join the millions who feel huge disgust and sadness over the senseless death of Cecil, but I feel even more sadness and disgust over the comments made by Cecil’s killer concerning his “pursuit of an activity that he loves and practices responsibly and legally.” Celebrities have been vocal in reacting to this incident; the politicians have been vocal; the general public has been vocal: everyone has expressed shock and horror; everyone is outraged about this horrendous incident, and loudly demands that “something has to be done.” Yet many of these same people seem indifferent to the plight of the hundreds of innocent companion animals that suffer daily, not in some far off place like Zimbabwe, but right here in our own country, sometimes in our own neighborhoods. Where are the celebrities when an ordinary frightened dog of unknown ancestry is dumped along a deserted country road? Where is the public outcry when an animal is battered and beaten, and the excuse is, “He’s my property; I can do what I want to with him? “ Where are our politicians when they have the opportunity to pass common sense laws that would make life easier for innocent, dependent companion animals? Is it possible that our priorities and our value systems have somehow run amuck? Perhaps those who are blessed with enough wealth to spend $50,000 on frivolous ego-centered activities could consider options that might enhance the wellbeing of others, and all animal lovers, regardless of their financial status, can find ways to make a difference right in their own communities.

  • Be a responsible pet caregiver and set a positive example to others. Spay or neuter your own animal and educate others about the importance of altering their pets.
  • Keep updated on legislation to protect the animals… all states have important grassroots organizations that would welcome your involvement Iowa Voters for Companion Animals is an Iowa based animal advocacy group concerned about the welfare of Iowa dogs. This group provides updated information regarding legislative action (and inaction) concerning animal welfare issues. For information on this group contact mlahay@iowavca.org.
  • Get to know the animals in your neighborhood. Keep an eye out for abuse and neglect of companion animals, animals left outdoors without shelter and other signs of abuse. Talk to the caregiver and suggest ways to improve the situation, and, if necessary, report problems to the authorities. Sometimes the elderly or ill have difficulty providing essential pet care, and they would welcome assistance walking the dog, cleaning, grooming, etc.
  • Rescue groups and animal shelters across the country are always in need of volunteers! Call your local group and ask how you can help make a difference in the lives of the animals housed at their facility. If you want to feel good, volunteer!!! Pet therapy is an awesome mood enhancer!!!!!

By the time this piece is printed, Cecil will be old news, and the celebrities , the politicians, and the general public will be focusing on new issues….but the issue involving the plight of our companion animals remains: “unseen they suffer…unheard they cry…in agony they linger, and in loneliness they die,” One of Shel Silverstein’s poems refers to “all those woulda-coulda-shoulda’s talkin’ about all the things they woulda-coulda-shoulda done,” and it is a choice whether to be woulda-coulda-shouldas, or committed doers. The TLC is one Iowa based, non-profit 501(c) 3 group working to help needy dogs, and right now really needs committed doers, so if you are interested, please check out the website at tlccaninecenter.com. to discover specific ways you can become involved!

Not Every Hazard Has A Happy Ending

August 3rd, 2015 Comments off

I often discuss the deadly summer hazards lurking around the corner for your canine companion, but this past week clearly illustrated that these hazards are for real.

Many dogs do not understand the dangers when they dash out an open door and carelessly run away from their safe haven. We have several TLC residents right now who are convinced that an unlatched gate is an invitation to find “greener pastures.” Thankfully we have a double gated system so that if a dog sneaks out a gate, there is another barrier to conquer…. and I firmly believe that one of the most important commands we can teach our dogs is “Come.” If you have a dog that has a tendency to wander off, we encourage you to work on basic commands such as “stay”, “sit”, and “come”. They may mean the difference between life and death for your dog, and may save you from the traumatic experience of having your pet become a casualty. We spent several hours trying to coax a frightened, obviously lost dog, to trust us. Darkness came and our rescue efforts were unsuccessful. We have not seen the dog again, and can only pray that somehow he found his way home, or allowed someone else to rescue him.

Many mushrooms are toxic to dogs, and the horrible seriousness of that truth hit home when Cooper, our little shelter dog who moved into our hearts and home, found tiny brown mushrooms in his secure pet yard, and apparently felt obligated to eat some. Thankfully, he vomited, which probably saved his life, but he has been one sick little guy, and is still on medication. Most of us don’t realize that some of the mushrooms popping up in our yards are very toxic to dogs and can be fatal. Dogs like Cooper, who like to “graze”, will sometimes eat wild mushrooms along with lawn grasses, resulting in poisoning. The fact is that dogs can become ill by just licking a poisonous mushroom, and symptoms can range from mild vomiting and diarrhea to severe digestive problems to complete liver failure. Cooper is still recovering from very serious digestive illness.

If you catch your dog in the act of eating mushrooms, remove any pieces from his mouth and induce vomiting with either 1 teaspoonful of syrup of ipecac per 10 pounds of body weight, or 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide every 10 minutes repeating 3 times. If there is a short delay in realizing that your dog has eaten poisonous mushrooms, get him to your veterinarian immediately.

Another hazard that I encountered first hand this week involved a dog who had discovered rat poison in a farmer’s shop, and consumed some of it. Rodenticides are used to control the overpopulation of rats and mice, and poisoning by pesticides and rodenticides is one of the most common household dangers to your pet., and if your dog goes outside at all there is possible contact with rodent poison. It might be in a neighbor’s yard, in a trash bag, or in the back corner of a shop or a garage. The health and survival of your pet depends on the amount of poison ingested, and the time before treatment begins. The best prevention is to keep all poisons, especially rodent poisons, totally out of your dog’s reach. Carelessly placed, or stored, they are potentially fatal threats to your dog’s health.

The hot and sunny stretches of summer can create hazards for your pets, but a little extra care and attention can help them enjoy the hot weather safely so that encounters with summer hazards have happy endings.

Recognize the Danger Signs of Heat Exhaustion

August 3rd, 2015 Comments off

It is hot. Really hot and humid, and as the temperatures soar, so does the danger of your dog suffering from heatstroke. We already know that dogs have more difficulty controlling their body temperature in warm weather than humans do. In fact, when we are mildly uncomfortable in the heat, our dogs are likely very uncomfortable simply because they are not equipped with many sweat glands as people have.

On hot days, a dog gradually escalates his cooling mechanisms. First he begins to pant, exposing his tongue and mouth to air. Then he lets his tongue hang out to further increase surface area. The blood vessels under the mucous membranes dilate in an attempt to improve heat exchange across the moist surfaces. Finally, the shape of the tongue changes… it gets wider at the tip, often turning upward and flaring the outside edges. When exercising your dog in warm weather, always watch his tongue. If you hear him panting loudly or see the end of his tongue widening, your dog has just used his last cooling mechanism, and may be moving into heat exhaustion, which can result in heatstroke. It’s time to take a rest and get him to a cool location immediately.

Hot, humid weather is not the only cause of heatstroke. Extreme activity alone can cause heatstroke, and when added to warm weather, it can quickly become deadly. This can be a real problem for the canine athlete. The muscles provide a portion of a sleeping dog’s body heat, and when the dog uses his muscles to exercise the amount of heat produced by the muscles can increase greatly over that of a dog at rest. A working dog’s body temp may rise from normal to 105 degrees or even higher in just minutes, which explains why long – distance sled dogs can become overheated at low temperatures.

First signs of heat exhaustion are heavy, rapid breathing, a widened tongue, and drooling. If not immediately moved to a cool area, the dog will begin to show signs of heatstroke, including rapid pulse, glazed eyes, elevated body temperature, failure to respond to commands, warm, dry skin, excessive whining or agitation, staggering, vomiting, and eventual collapse. It is important to note that only one of these symptoms has to be present to indicate the dog may be in trouble.

Be proactive and address environmental causes of heatstroke ahead of time. Provide shade and plenty of water if your dog is to be outdoors for any length of time. Take walks during cooler morning or evening hours and, although it seems obvious, NEVER leave your dog in a car, or tied outside in the sun.

If you see signs of heatstroke, immediate action is needed. Start soaking him with cool water. Do NOT use ice-cold water because that can constrict blood vessels and worsen the condition. Once the dog is wet, if available, a fan or air conditioner pointed in her direction is helpful. As soon as possible, get the dog to your vet, who will continue treatment as well as administer intravenous fluids or an enema to cool her from the inside.

Be alert to the possibility of canine heatstroke, and curb your dog’s enthusiasm when necessary on these hot humid days, so both humans and canines can enjoy the long, wonderful dog days of summer.

Keep your dog safe & cool all summer

July 14th, 2015 Comments off

Dogs love to be outside even in the warmest months of the year, but it is important to understand how your dog handles the heat. There is a big difference between the way a human’s body processes hot temps and the way a dog’s body handles it. Humans cool down by sweating with the approximately two million sweat glands found throughout the entire human body. Dogs don’t sweat. The only sweat glands they have are on the nose and the pads of the feet. The primary way they bring their temp down is through panting and breathing. The lining of their lungs, which are moist, serve as the evaporative surface. There is a common notion that a dog’s tongue contains sweat glands, but this in a fallacy. Some minimal cooling occurs as your dog pants and draws air over moist surfaces in his mouth, but there are no sweat glands in the oral cavity. Dogs can overheat quickly, so it is important to stay alert for signs of overheating, which include excessive panting and drooling, accompanied by an elevated body temperature. They love to play right through the summer heat, so it is up to the caregiver to limit exercise and activity in the extreme heat.

Dogs love frozen treats, but they are a bit messy. Best if served on an easy-to-clean surface, a giant dog popsicle will not only help them keep cool in hot weather, but it will help keep them from becoming bored during the long hot days. Fill a large ice cream tub or any plastic container with water and freeze (to make it even more special, mix in a few treats). Recipes for dog popsicles can be varied so there are different tastes. Please remember that popsicles don’t substitute for a separate source of fresh water. A dog popsicle is great, but won’t be adequate to meet your dog’s hydration needs.

Some creative additions for your dog popsicle:

  • Cut up apples
  • Baby carrots
  • Meat broth (chicken, turkey or beef) for flavor
  • Peanut butter
  • Mashed up bananas
  • Yogurt
  • Chucks of cheese
  • Be creative, but Do NOT add raisins or grapes …they are toxic to dogs!

You can also make up small frozen goodies in ice cube trays or plastic cups or any “mold” that you can remove once your popsicle is frozen.

Yummy Ice Cube Tray Treats

A great recipe for a yummy treat made in ice cube trays can be made by combining:

  • a ripe banana,
  • a cup of meat broth
  • ½ cup yogurt.
  1. Mix well & pour into empty ice cube trays and freeze
  2. When frozen solid, pop out and place in plastic bags.

Another favorite with almost all dogs is Cheesy-Burger Pops made with just 3 ingredients: crumbled up cooked ground beef , grated cheese, and low fat, low sodium chicken (or beef) broth.

Cheesy-Burger Pops

  • Scoop ½ tsp of ground beef into each section of an ice cube tray.
  • Crumble a little grated cheese on top
  • Pour chicken stock over ingredients.
  • Freeze until solid

A little extra effort will assure that your dog will stay cool and comfortable in spite of summer’s heat!

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