Life is good at the TLC!

Life is good at the TLC. 🙂

This morning the dogs and I enjoyed relaxing in the big back yard which was a total mess a couple days ago. The week-end storm had downed trees and there was debris everywhere.

The only evidence of destruction today is that several shade trees are missing. It is impossible to adequately thank all of the people who willingly pitched in and worked all day yesterday to help clean up the debris. The bestest, BESTEST ever grandson Josh, recruited helpers, and chainsaws, trucks, tractors, rakes, and lots of folks worked together.

Special thanks to Stanton Electric from Storm Lake for coming over ON A SUNDAY to restore power, and to the Newell-Fonda athletes and students who helped. THANKS to everyone for spending your Sunday helping at the TLC. TLC is truly blessed!!!!

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

A Tribute to Old Dogs

Older dogs, like fine wine, only get better with time. Gene Weingarten, in his book, Old Dogs are the Best Dogs, explains that “Old dogs can be cloudy-eyed, gray of muzzle, graceless of gait, eccentric of habit, hard of hearing, wheezy, lazy, and lumpy, but to anyone who has ever loved an old dog, these things are of little consequence. There is something special about older dogs.” Older dogs enjoy the simple things: a gentle stroke on the head, a soft bed, a kind word. They offer unconditional love and loyalty. If you are not privileged to have an older dog in your own family, reach out to a lonely senior dog and make life better for him. Perhaps a neighbor or friend’s dog could use a little attention, or visit your local shelter, and you will find needy dogs who will appreciate any bit of attention that you offer them. As they share their beauty, dignity, and character with you, you will realize that old dogs are indeed the best dogs.

Dave Lucas, winner of the 2012 Ohioana Book Award For Poetry, and recently appointed second Poet Laureate of the state of Ohio, shares his thoughts on what it is to love an old dog:

“For 15 years I loved a hard-luck mongrel mix that I brought home from the pound where he’d lived most of his first year in the world. He kept at my heels through my twenties and thirties. As my own youth ended, I watched him grow old, rickety and lethargic , deaf, and half blind …

There were good days and bad days, until the bad became the new good days, with worse ones ahead. He could no longer even wag his tail. I admired the nobility in how he would bow in his weak legs to stand, how they would shake. That the vet said this was normal made it no easier to watch. Dogs make do. They do what they can, or, when they can’t, they look to us. Let me not be maudlin….this dog did not save my life, but there were times in those years when my sorrow was such that the only solace for it was to bury my face in his fur. Walt Whitman, in his “ Song of Myself #32, explains:

They do not sweat and whine about their condition;

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins…

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented, with the mania of owning things.”

What is there to say of the end? It was as I had imagined, but worse, because it was real. I gathered him into my arms in a blanket and carried him to the car. When the time came, I leaned down close to him, put my face on his long face, and since I did not know what to say, I said” It’s okay, it’s okay, you are a good dog, you are my boy.” The words weren’t right but they didn’t matter. The last gift you give to your old friend is to stay with them until they sleep. Their last gift to you is that sometimes in your own sleep you see them again. In mine, he comes to me with his tail sweeping a slow arc, back and forth, resting his chin on your knee. I bend my face toward his. I speak some secret nonsense, I scratch around his ears.”

Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog!

 

Summer Dangers for Dogs

Summer is a time for cookouts, pool parties, and fun vacations, but it is also a time when dangers to pets increase, so pet caregivers need to take special precautions.

Unlike humans, dogs cannot regulate their body temperature by sweating, so they are more prone to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Signs of heatstroke include weakness, rapid panting, and thick sticky saliva. It is important to check on your pet often on hot days and keep him cool, as heatstroke doesn’t take long to develop, and quick response is necessary. Get him into a cool place immediately, and, if available, provide a fan to provide a breeze. Apply a cold towel or an ice pack to the head, neck and chest, or immerse him in tepid (not ice cold) water. Don’t discourage your dog from panting…It’s the canine air-conditioning system, and no matter how labored it is, it means that your dog is working to expel heat from his body.

YouTube videos may show us dogs having great fun in the water, and many dogs love water, and water play is a great way for dogs to stay cool in summer and wear themselves out at the same time, but bodies of water often hold hazards that are not immediately visible. One water-borne risk is from giardia, a microscopic protozoal parasite that infects the intestines, often through drinking contaminated water. Giardia is one of the most common intestinal infections that attack dogs, and the best way to help prevent this problem is to ensure that your dog doesn’t drink potentially contaminated water. If you are camping or hiking, carry fresh water, or filter, or boil it before giving it to your dog. Blue-green algae is a toxic bacterial mix that can cause respiratory problems, affect the liver and neurological system, or cause death if he drinks it. Dogs can ingest the bacteria when they drink lake water or lick themselves after swimming in contaminated water. Keep your dog out of any water that you suspect has a harmful algae bloom, and if he hops in, rinse him thoroughly with fresh water as soon as possible.

Ear infections are especially common during summertime, especially among dogs that swim frequently. These infections are often caused by water entering dogs’ ears while swimming. Help prevent this by using a vet-prescribed ear leaner to clean and dry their ears after swimming.

The buzzing of bees and wasps seem to motivate your dog to investigate, and while curiosity may not kill him, it can result in a painful sting. Watch how your dog responds to the sting. If there is a lot of swelling, and she becomes irritated and scratches at the stung area, you should call your vet.

Everyone loves barbecues and cookouts, especially your dog who will usually get a little of this and a taste of that, but many barbeque favorites can pose problems for your dog. Many meats are seasoned with garlic and onions, both of which are toxic to dogs. Food with bones can be very dangerous, as they may splinter and injure their GI system, sometimes even piercing their bowels. Corn on the cob is a grilling staple, but digesting corn cobs is difficult and may be a choking hazard. An overlooked toothpick or skewer can pierce or make a hole in the intestines.

As a pet caregiver, you can reduce the risks of summer dangers by monitoring your dog closely, and being aware of the dangers that may be present. Take the right precautions, and you and your companion can relax and enjoy the summer in comfort and safety.

Summer Fun & Safety

This really hot, humid weather can make anyone feel uncomfortable, including our four-footed friends. Responsible pet caregivers understand basic safety rules:

  •  Do NOT leave your dog in a car….even a few moments in the heat can turn your car into an oven.
  • Do NOT shave your dog down to the skin because shaving him down inhibits his ability to deal with temperature changes. Leave the hair length at least an inch long to protect his skin .
  • Ticks are thriving right now……Check regularly for ticks, especially under the tail, on the stomach, in the ears, and between the toes.
  • Always make sure to have cool, clean available water available at all times.
  • Keep your exercise routines in early mornings or evenings when it is cooler.
  • We disapprove of tying a dog outside in any weather, but it can be fatal in this kind of weather. Find a place where he can be comfortable and out of the sun.
  • When walking your dog, steer clear of all areas that may have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Be alert for coolant or other automotive fluid leaks which can be fatal if ingested.
  • Stay alert for signs of overheating, which include excessive panting, drooling and mild weakness.
  • It it’s too hot for you outside, it’s too hot for your dog!!!

Everyone enjoys a summer treat, and your dog is no exception. If you want to make summertime frozen dog treats, just remember these basic steps:

  1. Start with a liquid base
  2. Mix in a favorite ingredient (blueberries, apples, bananas, peas….the options are endless)
  3. Freeze and serve.

Here are a few recipes for quick and easy treats for your favorite canine:

FROZEN YOGURT-PEANUT BUTTER BITS

An easy two ingredient dog treat can be quickly made with just two ingredients:

  • Combine 1 cup creamy peanut butter (softened)
  • 32 ounces of plain yogurt until combined and smooth
  • Drop 2 tablespoon mounds of the mixture onto a greased baking sheet,
  • Place in the freezer until completely frozen.
  • Transfer the treats to a freezer-safe container or zip top bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.

 FROZEN PUMPKIN TREATS

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 ÂĽ cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)

Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Pour mixture into mini molds or ice cube trays and freeze.

Celebrate the season and keep your dog happy and healthy by taking just a few precautions, and offering a few cooling treats!

 

Summer Hazards

Because hot humid summer weather brings potential problems to our four-footed friends, we have been limiting our walks to leisurely strolls in the shade. Under the hot summer sun, asphalt on sidewalks and streets can heat to a temperature that can burn a dog’s paws. Always put your hand down on the asphalt for about thirty seconds—if you need to pull your hand away after about 30 seconds because it is so hot, it is too hot for your dog to walk on without hurting his paws. Walk your dog early in the morning or in the late evening when the streets have cooled off.

Because a dog perspires very little, hot weather creates many problems, and it is the responsibility of the humans to keep her safe by providing lots of cool, clean, fresh water. Consider preparing low sodium chicken broth or yogurt ice cubes to increase the moisture content of your dog’s diet. Doggie Fro-Yo is a quick and easy summer-time treat: Just blend 2 cups of low fat yogurt, 1 banana, 1/3 cup peanut butter and 1 tablespoon honey. Mix until smooth, poor into an oiled mini-muffin tin, place in the freezer and freeze for at least an hour.

Summer is the season for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes…pests that present discomfort to your dog, and may be life-threatening or cause self-mutilating behaviors There are many preventatives on the market, but we recommend that you do NOT by over the counter products. Check with your vet and see what he recommends for your dog….and don’t wait until you see a flea; prevention is much easier than treatment! Heartworm infection is a serious problem, and it takes only one infected mosquito to infect a dog, so it is extremely important to be consistent with preventive treatment for these dangers.

Heat prostration is a common cause of illness that kills many beloved pets each year. Some of the worst summer tragedies involve pets that are left in vehicles. NEVER leave your animal in a car—temperatures inside can rapidly climb to more than l00 degrees and can cause death in as little as ten minutes. (If it is 95 degrees and you leave your windows cracked, the temperature may rise as high as 113 degrees. This is a recipe for disaster for your dog.

Your dog may be allergic to seasonal items such as grass, various plants, and mold. If you suspect your dog may have seasonal allergies, is scratching and perhaps losing fur, a visit to your vet is recommended.

Many of our lawn care products and pesticides are potentially toxic to pets. After treating lawns, be sure to restrict pets from those areas until the product has TOTALLY dried. Remember too, that many types of summer foliage such as hydrangea, wisteria, foxglove, privet hedge, and delphiniums, can be toxic to pets.

Freshwater ponds, lakes and streams can be deadly to your dog if they contain toxins borne by blue-green algae. If the water looks cloudy, with a green or blue-green case, it is very possible that there is a dangerous overgrowth of blue-green algae, and it is important to prevent your dog from ingesting this contaminated water. Although some of the algae blooms are not toxic, it is difficult to determine which ones are poisonous, so it is wise to keep children or pets out of any water that appears to have the blue-green algae.

Another warning is regarding cocoa bean shell mulch, which is a by-product of chocolate production and is becoming a popular mulch for landscaping. However many dogs find the mulch attractive and will eat it, which will result in gastrointestinal upset, muscle tremors, vomiting, and diarrhea. If large amounts are ingested, life threatening problems may develop. The ASPCA Poison Control Center recommends that cocoa bean shell mulch never be used in landscaping around unsupervised dogs.

By following common sense rules, you will be able to help your dogs beat the heat and stay safe and comfortable in hot weather.

 

 

Not a Fun Day for Dogs!

The Fourth of July is an exciting, fun holiday for humans, but unfortunately, this holiday holds a plethora of danger for your dogs who do not understand the loud noises, and flashes of light.. Just put yourself in your dog’s place: it is getting dark and you are relaxing on the back patio, when suddenly the sky explodes…fire and thunder shattering the night.

No dog should be left outdoors, especially on the Fourth of July, and do not take her along to any fireworks show. . The Humane Society of the United States recommends leaving your pet INDOORS in a safe, quiet room. Make sure the room is dog- proofed, and provide safe toys for him. (maybe this is a good time to give him a couple new toys!). Frightened dogs can become destructive, so remove any breakable objects or things that could be harmful to your dog if chewed.

Turn on a radio or television (or both), set at a low volume, to create a soothing noise. We have found one of the best calming tools is a CD, Canine Lullabies: heartbeat music therapy especially for dogs. Most of the CD’s that claim to “make dogs happy or calm” are simply people-pleasers, but Canine Lullabies is different. It was tested by humane societies and members of the American Boarding Kennels Association. However, personal experience is always the best teacher, so I tested it on our own shelter dogs. Several of them were so distraught that they would bark for hours; another one licked himself until his skin was raw. Amazingly, this music calmed and relaxed them. If you have a dog that suffers from separation anxiety, barks excessively, or exhibits other inappropriate behavior, I recommend trying it, and there is no better time than the Fourth of July weekend. For whimpering puppies, sick or injured dogs, or just hyperactive pets, it is a life saver. For more information go to www.caninelullabies.com or check out Terry Woodford on Face Book.

You can also stream these from Spotify using these links (https://open.spotify.com/album/720unplZaQChtc1bTf2sEe) and (https://open.spotify.com/album/0QXGxWJyMtWqVfSqZtJseH) for free with commercials or without commercials if you already pay for a Spotify account.

A commercial product, ThunderShirt, has been used with great success by thousands of individuals and shelters. An effective deterrent to anxiety and stress, this product was developed out of sheer frustration. ThunderWorks founder, Phil Blizzard’s fifty pound dog was terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks, and Blizzard could find no solution other than medications and desensitization training programs. One day a friend recommended trying a snug wrap…like swaddling an infant, and during one bad storm, he wrestled the dog into an old t-shirt and used packing tape to create mild pressure. It worked and the taped T-shirt evolved into a ThunderShirt, which has had an insanely calming effect on millions of dogs, and effectively provides an effective solution for common problems of anxieties, over-excitement, pulling, jumping and much more.

Rescue Remedy Pet is an alcohol- free variation of the original stress relieving formula, Rescue Remedy, that has been available for more than 70 years. It can be used to create a calming effect in any stressful situation, or when your dog needs help overcoming a variety of emotional or behavioral problems.

It is a good idea to make sure your pet is well-exercised well before any fireworks displays begin. A tired pet will be calmer and less likely to engage in anxious or disruptive behavior. The safest option for celebrating the holiday is to exclude them from all of the festivities, but make sure they are wearing ID tags …just in case. According to Dogs Deserve Better, more animals are lost on July 4th than any other time of the year Two forms of identification are always best…if your dog gets loose, and is found, the first thing that will be looked for is an ID tag. If he is taken to a shelter, he will be scanned for a microchip.

By using common sense precautions, both you and your pet can enjoy a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Dog Days of Summer

The dog days of summer bring sweltering waves of heat, so we languish, and so do our dogs, longing for cooling, refreshing relief from these hot, muggy days. Many believe that the phrase “dog days of summer” stems from the fact that dogs tend to be a bit on the lazy side during the hottest days of the year, and who can blame them.? Covered with fur, dogs can overheat easily, but the phrase doesn’t refer to lethargic dogs lying around on hot humid days. It actually refers to the summer sky, and a time when Romans called the hottest, most humid days of summer to “Dog Days” because they associated the hottest days with the brightest star in the constellation which was known as the “dog star.” The fact is that although the dog days of summer are usually the hottest, they don’t have anything to do with either dogs, or the star Sirius. Instead, the tilt of the earth explains why these days tend to be the summer’s hottest.

Dogs find summer’s high temperatures challenging….they have sweat glands only in their paws, so they don’t sweat…a dog’s primary means of cooling himself is through panting, and as the temperature and humidity rise, the inefficiency of this system becomes apparent. A dog in warm weather need your special attention, and you need to enforce limits during hot weather. Some of the common causes of heat stress include:

  • leaving the dog in a car…even in the shade or with the windows open…or leaving her in a hot room or garage with insufficient air flow.
  • excessive exercise, or exercise when it is extremely hot outside. Paws can get burned on hot asphalt. When the air temperature is 77 degrees, asphalt temp will be 125 degrees; when air temperature is 86 degrees, asphalt temp will be 135 degrees, and when air temperature is 87 degrees, asphalt temp will be 143 degrees. At 125 degrees skin destruction can occur in just sixty seconds, and paws will get burned. It it’s too hot for your bare feet it is too hot for your dog’s paws.
  • lack of fresh water. Make sure your dog ALWAYS has fresh, cool water. On really hot days, toss a few ice cubes into the water. If you go for a walk, always carry along water and a bowl for your dog.
  • lack of shade….if you are going to be outside very long, he will need shade. If you can’t find a natural shady area, a pop-up tent or umbrella can provide temporary help.
  • sunburn. Despite their furry coats, dogs can still be exposed and damaged by UV rays. Coating their fur and skin with DOGGY UV protectant sunblock will help prevent burns.

A cool pool is always appreciated. Aside from panting, dogs cool down through the sweat glands in their paws. Most dogs love standing, sitting (or rolling around) in a pool of cool water.

Beating the heat is especially tough for backyard dogs ….baking in the summer sun in a barren yard, day after day, week after week, takes its toll and kills many of these poor animals. Sometimes, the owner is not aware of the dangers, and a tactful visit will improve the situation. If this approach does not work, you need to call animal control before it is too late.

A dog’s main weapons against the heat are water…..lots of cold, clean water, and lots of shade.

Summer pet safely isn’t difficult, but it requires some attention. Watch over your dog the way you would a small child…protect him from too much heat, too much sun, and other summer dangers, and both you and your four-footed friend will enjoy the dog days of summer.

 

Rethinking Treats

We all love treats, and our dogs look forward to them, but before you make a decision on what type of dog treat to buy, do a little research. Many popular treats are full of artificial ingredients, fillers, and other harmful additives that are not good for your dog. Treats in all shapes, sizes, and colors fill entire aisles at pet stores. Marketing these treats has become big business, and since dogs are indiscriminate eaters, who will devour just about anything, so it is the responsibility of the humans to choose treats that are healthy for their pooches. Some people foods are toxic to dogs and should be avoided. Chocolate and dogs don’t mix. Just an ounce of dark chocolate can be a serious problem for a small dog. Dogs are also sensitive to a chemical in grapes and raisins that induces kidney failure. Chicken, turkey, or ham bones can cause gastritis and perforate the small intestine. Macadamia nuts can cause fever, diarrhea, and neurological problems! Other foods to avoid are avocados which can cause heart damage, and onions which can damage red blood cells.

To take the guesswork out of what’s a good treat, and more importantly, what is not, you can check the website of the ASPCA at www.aspca.org where they give a comprehensive list of treats to avoid. Some people foods are great treats. Most dogs love raw carrots, and they are good for the animal’s teeth. Beef knuckle bones, or large, sturdy leg bones are usually safe if you trim off excess fat that could trigger diarrhea. (In a multi-dog household, be aware that even normally gentle dogs may decide a bone is worth a fight). Animal based chews are hits with most dogs, but rawhide, hooves, and pig ears can all cause problems, especially with aggressive chewers. If big hunks of rawhide are chewed off and swallowed, serious internal problems can result. Never give these treats to your dog unless you are there to supervise! If you buy commercial packaged treats, check the ingredient list on the package BEFORE you buy. (You will probably be horrified to find out what is really in those cute little tidbits!)

Good treats should NOT contain:

  • animal by-products …this term can mean almost anything
  • artificial preservatives such as BHT, BHA, or Ethoxyquin
  • artificial colors…your dog doesn’t care what color his food is. He doesn’t need exposure to unnecessary chemicals, and green, red, and yellow treats contain dyes
  • propylene glycol, a chemical which is added to some “chewy” treats to keep them moist.

If you are serious about giving your dog healthy treats, the best solution is to make homemade ones. Remember, the dogs don’t care about appearance. They go for taste, and there are many simple recipes to satisfy the most finicky dog! Here are two, guaranteed to please, easy to make, recipes from our TLC Canine Cookbook. ENJOY!

SSS BISCUITS (Simply Scrumptious Simple Biscuits)

  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 6 Tablespoons oil
  • 2/3 cup meat broth
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour

Mix ingredients well. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

 

CORNMEAL TREATS

  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • ÂĽ cup honey
  • 1/ ½ cups flour
  • Âľ cup cornmeal
  • ÂĽ cup oatmeal

Mix thoroughly. Drop walnut sized pieces on lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

 

Tony Buffington, professor in veterinary clinical services at Ohio State University stresses that treats do not have to be food…”Treats are things that bring joy….if you want to provide your dog with a good treat, take him for a walk, and give him extra attention. He appreciates your time more than a snack.”

 

Life Threatening Medicines are Everywhere

Nearly half of the calls received by the Pet Poison Helpline involve either over-the-counter or prescriptions medications for humans. Often the culprit is a curious canine who has chewed into a bottle of pills that has been left on the counter within paw’s reach. According to Dr. Karen Mercola, Pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are the number one cause of pet poisonings. It is also important to remember that certain OTC drugs won’t have the same effect on all pets…for example, even aspirin can be dangerous.

  • NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug including Advil, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn, and Aleve. Never give an NSAID meant for humans to your pet. A drug that relieves a human’s pain can cause serious problems for a pet. Don’t leave these medications lying around the house—on a nightstand, or kitchen or bathroom counter. For an inquisitive dog, these drugs can be a deadly temptation. NSAIDS metabolize slowly, which increases the likelihood that toxic levels will build up. Symptoms of poisonings include digestive upset, increased thirst and frequency of urination, bloody stools, staggering and seizures.
  • ACETAMINOPHEN is another commonly used painkiller that can mean serious danger to our pets. Acetaminophen brand names include Tylenol, Paracetamol, and Panadol. Other drugs, including some types of Excedrin, and several sinus and cold preparations, also contain this ingredient that is not safe for your pet. If your dog ingests acetaminophen, liver damage can result, and the higher the dose, the more likelihood of red blood cell damage. Symptoms of this poisoning include lethargy, trouble breathing, dark-colored urine, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  • PSEUDOEPHEDRINE is a decongestant compound found in many cold and sinus medications, and even a small amount can prove fatal to a dog. There are literally dozens of over-the-counter and prescription drugs which contain pseudoephedrine, but a few common ones are Sudafed, Comtrex, Contac, Tylenol Cold, Theraflu, Sinarest, Triaminicin, Drixoral, and Nyquil.
  • ANTIDEPRESSANTS can cause listlessness, vomiting and in some cases, a syndrome causing agitation, disorientation, elevated heart rate,, blood pressure, tremors, and seizures.
  • DIABETES MEDICATIONS can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels of a dog, bringing on disorientation, lack of coordination and seizures If you or a family member takes an oral medication for diabetes, including glipizide and glyburide, be sure to keep these drugs out of reach of your pets.
  • ADHD MEDICATIONS are commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in humans, but these are stimulants to pets. If your dog or cat ingests methylphenidate, it can result in elevated body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. There is also a danger of seizures. Brand names for methylphenidate include Ritalin, Concerta, Methylin, and Daytrana.

The best way to keep you’re your pet out of danger of ingesting drugs intended for humans is to always keep your medication in sealed containers, in a place well out of reach of your curious pet. Call your veterinarian, an emergency clinic, or a pet poison hot line immediately if you suspect that your pet has ingested a human medication. Be prepared to offer as much information as possible, including the weight of your pet, name of the suspected drug, and signs of poisoning that you have observed.

 

It’s Finally Spring!

IT’S FINALLY SPRING

“Oh, when the bugs come out, it’s spring

I see some crawl, I see some fly

I can’t count how many bugs go marching by,

but when the bugs come out, I know it’s spring,

and today I met a mosquito which wasn’t fun

She bit me here, she nipped me there

she even bit my bum.

But I had the last laugh

I squashed her with my thumb”

A humorous poem by Jan Allison, but parasite season is not humorous for our companion animals. As the warmer weather of spring brings the outdoors back to life with flowers and shrubs, bugs and parasites also make their presence known, meaning that flea and tick season has arrived, and mosquitoes are also out and ready to pass on heartworm disease to your dogs (and cats.) Other parasites include roundworms, hook worms and whip worms.

Fleas are nasty little creatures that travel rapidly through animal hair and are extremely tough to eliminate, and they are more than just an irritation. If a flea swallowed by your dog contains tapeworm larvae, the dog may get tapeworms, and there are also other diseases which are transmitted by fleas. The average life span of a flea is about six weeks, and in that time, just one flea can produce more than 600 eggs. If you see just one flea, you can be sure that there are many more present, so the smart thing to do is to treat your animal BEFORE just one tiny critter is found. Talk to your vet about the best product to use. We discourage the use of flea collars, which may kill the fleas only in the neck area, and we are also uncomfortable with the thought of children touching and breathing the chemicals in flea collars. Do not buy over-the-counter products…..some are simply not effective, and others are downright dangerous.

Ticks are most often found in wooded areas, tall grass, brush, or woodpiles. They move onto a host as it passes by and then attach to the skin by using the mouthparts to embed their heads so they can feed on the host’s blood. Ticks carry and transmit several diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Fever….Again prevention is much easier than treatment, and many products are effective against both fleas and ticks. Your vet can help you implement strategies to protect both humans and canines in your household from these unwelcome parasites.

Another aspect of your pet’s health care is protection from heartworm disease, a life-threatening illness that is spread by mosquito bites….every time your dog is bitten by a mosquito, she may be exposed to heartworms. Heartworms are identified using a simple blood test, and it is important to have your dog tested every spring. At the same time, it is a good idea to take in a fecal sample to be checked for tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms, and protozoal parasites such as giardia and protozoa that can attack the gastrointestinal tract. We suggest a complete health check every spring. Hopefully your dog will get a clean bill of health, but if something suspicious is found, perhaps it can be treated in the early stages. Most dogs have teeth problems by the time they are three years old, and since tooth and gum disease can lead to more serious problems, be sure to include a dental checkup.

In spring, depending on your dog’s breed, more shedding can be expected, so daily brushing is encouraged. And remember: no outfit is complete without a few dog hairs!