Song of Summer

Crickets begin their magical tune.. ladybugs jig for the joy of June…

Dragonflies dance as they dart by… their whirring wings sing a lullaby…

Bumblebees buzz a melody sweet… caterpillars tap their many feet…

The dog’s happy heart beats like a drummer…as June brings on the songs of summer.

 

Crickets, ladybugs, dragonflies, bumblebees, caterpillars, and happy dogs are all songs of summer, but naturally nothing can be all good….there are always some unpleasant things to balance out the awesomeness…with the songs also come some summer hazards for your four-footed friends.

Probably the most harmful aspect about summer is the rising temperatures, which means that pets may struggle to stay hydrated and avoid heat exhaustion. Do NOT leave your pet outside in the heat, without adequate shade and fresh water…provide a cool place indoors during extremely hot weather, and NEVER leave him in the car….not even for “a couple minutes while you run in to a store.” NEVER, EVER! To avoid heat stroke, exercise your dog in the cooler parts of the day and for short periods of time.

Skin issues related to allergens, bugs, and plants seem to escalate in warm weather. For many pets, the change in temperature, moisture, and air pressure can cause their skin to become dry, itchy, and inflamed, so it is important to be aware of the symptoms that accompany skin irritations or infections. Watch for any abnormal chewing, biting, or scratching and licking their paws or other parts of their body. If you see an irritated area, or see bald spots, it is likely that there is some kind of skin problem, and you may need to seek advice from your vet.

For some reason, raisin and grape related emergencies are more likely to occur in the summer, and these fruits are extremely toxic to dogs (and cats), so keep them out of reach to your pets. Be aware that there are many things that have grapes in them that you might not even think about, like fruit salads, smoothies, dips, trail mixes, cereals, cookies, snack bars, and many other desserts. Just because you don’t have a box of raisins or a cluster of grapes doesn’t mean that you are safe.

In addition to the usual flea and tick protection that your pet needs, there are many other creepy crawlies willing and able to sting or bite your pet. Studies show that pets are twice as likely to be a victim of a sting or bug bite in the summer, and while they are usually just uncomfortable and relatively harmless, sometimes they require an emergency trip to the vet for needed treatment. Symptoms to watch for are difficulty breathing, nausea, disorientation, lethargy, or other kind of unusual behavior.

Backyard barbeques often include good old corn on the cob, and if a pet somehow ingests corn cob material, it can cause serious health problems. Corn cobs can also be found in back yards in farming areas…the squirrels carry ears of corn into the yard, and leave the cobs. Dogs seem to like to chew on corn cobs, and they are extremely dangerous because they are completely indigestible. Sometimes the cob will pass through and be pooped out, but if a piece of corn cob gets lodged in the intestine, stomach, or colon, there may be a bowel obstruction that will need vet treatment. It is important that you dispose of all corn cobs in a covered garbage can that your pet cannot get into. Resist sharing picnic or barbeque leftovers, because pets do not have the necessary enzymes to digest many of the high fat foods that are associated with these festivities. Charcoal and lighter fluid used to barbeque also pose a threat, as ingesting ash or charcoal can result in serious stomach irritation.

Water is often a major part of summer family activities, and pets can drown in lakes and pools just like people. Be on the lookout for stagnant pools of water, especially those with blue-green algae, which are very dangerous. Don’t allow your pet near stagnant water or algae, and make sure he doesn’t drink from these water sources.

With a few extra precautions, summertime will be filled with the songs of summer… and you will have a safe and happy pet.

 

Reward Your Dog With Healthy Treats

Hopefully last week’s Paw Prints article on healthy (and unhealthy) pet foods was useful to pet caregivers as they navigate the maze of confusing marketing info. Several of our readers expressed an interest in some factual info about what to look for, and what to avoid, when buying treats for their dogs. Dogs love treats, and what better way to show love to your dog than by giving him treats, but it is important to choose HEALTHY treats, and to not over-treat your dog, which adds calories to his diet and puts him at risk of becoming overweight. Treats often add a substantial amount of calories to your dog’s otherwise healthy diet, and many treats are filled with artificial ingredients, fillers, and other additives that are not good for your dog. They usually provide your dog with few health benefits and are typically high in “empty calories.” Veterinarian Tami Pierce stresses that treats and snacks should make up only 10 percent of a dog’s daily diet. People often give their dog two, three, or four treats at a time without even considering the calories involved. The result is obesity.”

My favorite treat is carrots. A raw baby carrot makes a great on-the-go dog treat. Or cook them or freeze them. Carrots are healthful, delicious, inexpensive, non-messy, low calorie, and safe. Lots of dogs like sweet, crispy apple slices. Just remove the core and seeds. Pumpkin is a super treat (Plain pumpkin…not canned pie mix). Just drop small spoonfuls on a tray and freeze. Put into a plastic baggie and take out as needed. Left over bits of chicken can also be saved in the freezer, and low fat broth can be frozen in an ice cube tray, and stored in a plastic bag. Some dogs like green beans, and sweet potatoes, and I have yet to meet a dog who didn’t simply love a small tidbit of cheese. (Do not feed grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate, or anything with caffeine or alcohol because of potential toxicity.)

If you buy commercial treats, don’t be swayed by powerful marketing techniques used by the industry. Most dog treats contain high amounts of sugar, and are ripe with preservatives, allergens, artificial colors, carcinogenic additives, and more. Even the popular Milk Bones contain BHA and some varieties are loaded with sugar. Snausages contain corn syrup and BHA and also contain polypropylene glycerol as a moistening agent derived from a highly toxic compound used in automotive antifreeze. Snausages , Pup-peroni, and Beggin’ Strips all contain artificial coloring, and are also all made in China—yet another reason to be wary, given the historic danger of Chinese produced dog treats. (Be aware of where the treats are sourced also, because just because a package says treats are made in the U.S., doesn’t necessarily mean that the ingredients are not sourced from elsewhere). Don’t feed jerky or rawhide, imported or domestic, to your dog…just ask your vet how many emergency visits have been necessary because of these treats!

I have yet to meet a dog yet who hasn’t liked Beggin’ Strips, but they are preserved with carcinogenic BHA, and they contain both sugar and artificial food coloring. Does your dog need to be eating sugar? Absolutely not! Do they like it? They LOVE it and will gobble up this cheap, addictive filler that is just as bad for your dog as it is for you. We offer you a simple, easy- to- make recipe for homemade Beggin’ Strips:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Combine in a medium sized bowl, using your hands to blend everything well:

  • 3 cooked slices of bacon, cooked and finely chopped
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 1 egg

Roll out dough to about ¼ inch thick. Use a knife to cut the dough into 1 inch wide strips, 4-6 inches in length. (You can use your fingers to ripple the dough if you want it to look like a piece of bacon) Place the strips on an oiled cookie sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes. BONE appetite!

Another VERY SIMPLE treat is Sweet Potato Chews: Preheat your oven to 250 degrees, and slice a sweet potato into thin slices. You don’t need to peel the potato, just scrub it well. Place slices on oiled cookie sheet and bake for about 3 hours. Baking time will determine the hardness of the chew.

We all love to see the excitement and anticipation on our dog’s face when we offer a treat, but it is important to realize that many commercially-available treats are not good for them. Choose wisely to keep your companion healthy as well as happy!

Have We Been Brainwashed by Dog Food Companies?

The US pet food market had a value of almost 25 BILLION dollars in 2016, and according to a market research report from the petfoodindustry.com, it is anticipated to grow to 30 billion dollars by 2022. There is no doubt that knowing what to feed your dog may be one of the most confusing areas of pet care, but what you feed your dog can positively or negatively affect your dog’s health. With literally hundreds of different foods to choose from, navigating the maze of canine nutrition can be overwhelming, and Sandra Milner for AcrMax claims that the American public is being brainwashed by almost 300 manufacturers of pet food. companies.

“Sure, Cheerios has all kinds of vitamins and supplements and healthy things in it, but would anyone in their right mind think that eating dry Cheerios for every single meal for the rest of their lives is a healthy diet? Certainly not, yet somehow the big pet food companies have spent millions of dollars to convince the masses that their kibble is what you should feed your pet, despite the fact that you would be horrified at what really goes into those dry kibbles. By- products and 4D meat (meat from dead, downed, diseased and dying animals, declared unfit for humans) go into the rendering plants for dog food. And don’t be fooled, even the expensive pet foods come from major pet-food companies that buy their base stuff from rendering plants. You can do an internet search under ”rendering plant” or “undercover research of rendering plants.” With the alarming rise in rates of all kinds of pet diseases, it is obvious that many of these highly advertised foods are not the wonderfully healthy diet they would like you to believe they are. Buyer Beware! Here are some facts to consider:

  • The FDA requires that pet foods contain no harmful substances, but does NOT directly regulate the pet food industry.
  • Most commercial pet foods are made with less than human quality ingredients. Many foods contain “by-products” and ingredients that are not considered high quality.
  • Many pet foods have been sitting around for a long time before they are purchased. Check dates before purchasing. Research has indicated that many pet foods bought in stores have been sitting around for as long as 18 months!
  • Dogs and cats have the genetic potential to live 20 to 25 years, but we can rob years from their lives with poor quality food.

How do you determine the best food for your dog? First of all, do not believe the slick advertising with which you are bombarded. The green nuggets in most kibbles are NOT green vegetables. They are most likely nuggets that are dyed green….same with other colored kibble. Read the ingredient panel on your dog food bag or can, remembering that primary ingredients are listed first. A whole meat source should be listed as one of the main ingredients ….not meal or “by-products”. Whole, unprocessed grains, vegetables and other foods have the best chance of surviving the food making process with its nutrients reasonable intact. High quality dry foods should not contain generic fats as “animal fat” which can be anything from recycled grease from restaurants to a mystery mix of various fats. What do you think is in “animal digest” or “animal by-products?” Preservatives are necessary to ensure an adequate shelf life, but avoid those that use artificial preservatives like HHA, BHT, propylene glycol, and the quinoline based antioxidant , ethoxyquin….Look for foods preserved with mixed topopherols, forms of vitamin E.

Nutrition and quality are not guaranteed by price or elaborate advertising . Don’t be brainwashed by slick slogans or fancy terminology…… “Premium”, “natural”, and “gourmet” are simply marketing terms that are not regulated and are basically meaningless. While there is certainly no single answer as to the best food for an individual dog, by doing a little research, you can positively impact your dog’s health and well-being. If you are overwhelmed with confusing nutrition information (and misinformation), or have any concerns about the food you are feeding your dog, go to an independent website, www.dogfoodadvisor.com where you will find unbiased ranking for all of the major dog foods. Click on BRAND and they will rate any specific food, or you can review all brands A to Z. You may be surprised to learn that many popular, HIGHLY ADVERTISED foods such as Beneful, Iams, Kibbles and Bits, Pedigree, Purina Dog Chow, and Science Diet all rank low. When you discover how different foods rank, you may conclude that you have been brainwashed, and that it’s time to switch foods. Choices abound and it is up to you to make healthy choices for the well being of your dog.

Warning: Ticks in Search of Warm Bodies!

Opportunistic, cannibalistic, deterministic, and definitely not fantastic. Ticks are strictly parasitic, nasty little parasites that feed on the blood of unfortunate victims. Like mites and spiders, ticks are arachnids, with the potential to transmit many diseases through their bites, so it is important to thoroughly check your dog for ticks after any warm-weather outdoor activity.

Ticks are always looking for a warm body. In search of a meal, they may lurk on a blade of grass or bush, and their complex sensory organs can sense a potential host’s presence from long distances. When a promising host passes by, they grab hold and hitch a ride, Once aboard, they crawl along, looking for a patch of skin where they can latch on with their front legs, cut open the skin with mouth parts, and insert a barbed feeding tube. The ticks suck blood, and after a couple days of attachment, may release infected saliva into the host’s blood.

Ticks don’t fly, jump or blow around with the wind. They are slow and lumbering, small and very patient in their capacity to locate a host. They are generally not born with disease agents but rather obtain them during various feedings, and then pass diseases such as Lyme Disease on to other animals. Disease agents acquired from one host can be passed on to another host at a later feeding,

Preventing tick bites is important to keeping your pets healthy. Keep your dogs out of wooded areas and away from wildlife, and check their entire body for ticks daily. Brush your fingers through their fur with enough pressure to feel any small bumps. Check carefully between the toes, behind ears, under arm pits , as well as around the tail and the head. if you do feel a bump, pull the fur apart to see what’s there. A tick that has embedded itself on your dog will vary in size, anywhere from the size of a pinhead to a grape, depending on how long it was attached. They are usually black or dark brown in color, but will turn a grayish-white after feeding to an engorged stage. It generally takes five or six hours for a tick to become attached, and up to l0 days to become fully engorged with blood. You have at least 24 hours to find and remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection, so quick removal drastically reduces the risks.

To discourage ticks, mow regularly, remove weeds and leaves, and make sure your garbage and compost containers are rodent proof. Prevention may also involve removing exotic vegetation or other welcoming habitat, as studies have determined that invasive bush honeysuckle and Japanese barberry, for example, attract deer and mice, and thus, their ticks. Managing the growth of these plants significantly reduce the abundance of infected ticks.

Victor Rotich describes ticks in this way: “ Nasty little ticks….a fat, black flashy tick, ever smiling at me, and a brown, round-eyed tick, perched within my ear. They pierce my skin with their sharp poisoned arrows …they have even invited their friends to wage war against me. Who will hear my painful cry? Who will come to my rescue before these critters suck me dry.”

If you do find a tick on your dog (or yourself), it is important to remove it carefully and completely. Tweezers will work, but we recommend a special inexpensive tick remover , TICKED OFF, a single-motion tick remover designed to remove crawling or attached ticks in a simple, easy to use, effective manner. Ticked Off is available on www.tickedoff.com or from Amazon. com . It is important to grasp the tick as close to where it is embedded in the skin as possible. Do not grasp it by its body, and do not jerk, twist or wiggle it. Pull slowly and steadily, directly out with steady pressure to make the tick release its hold and allow you to remove it intact. Be sure to remove the entire tick, and once you have removed it, put in alcohol because ticks can survive being flushed down the toilet or being tossed in the garbage. Disinfect the bite wound with soap or a disinfectant, and wash your own hands thoroughly.

Because a vast number of tick-prevention products are available, some of them containing dangerous pesticides, please do not buy over-the-counter products….check with your veterinarian to come up with a tick prevention program tailored for your individual dog. . Although there is no one perfect solution to tick problems, consistently checking for ticks on your pets, plus twice yearly screening for tick-related infections, are the best ways to keep your pet safe from tick-borne illness.

Fleas Deserve Destruction Not Songs

“A king there was once reigning, who had a goodly flea…he loved him without feigning as his own son were he; hIs tailor then he summoned…the tailor to him goes. Now measure me the youngster for jerkin and for hose. In satin and in velvet behold this young one dressed…bedizen’d o’er with ribbons, a cross upon his breast. Prime minister they made him; he wore a star of state and all his poor relations were courtiers, rich and great. The gentlemen and ladies at court were sore distressed; the queen and all her maidens were bitten by the pest, and yet they dared not scratch them, or chase the fleas away.”

The Flea Song is part of the scene in Faust 1, first published around 1790. The song is about a king who loved a flea on which he lavished many riches. He is fitted with fine clothing and made Head of State, and his family members were awarded high positions in the government. Members of the King’s court dared not speak up and complain; instead they had to cope with the biting and itching.

We may consider the description of a King being fond of a flea quite strange, but it is important to keep in mind that in late l8th Century, society viewed parasites such as fleas, lice, ticks, and bedbugs more favorably, merely as nuisances, and this view did not really change until the mid 19th Century. In other words, a poem or song about a highly regarded flea was not as strange in 1760 as it may seem now. Around the time that Goethe wrote the Flea Song, watchmakers tried to harness fleas, with tiny gold wires, to demonstrate their skills in fine manipulation. In other parts of the world people also dressed up fleas, not acknowledging that fleas deserve destruction, not songs!

The late l8th Century was the start of the flea circus mania in Europe. Fleas would be caught and rigged up in harnesses made of thin gold wires. The fascination with these blood-suckers dwindled quickly when it was discovered that fleas vectored the bacterium that caused the plague. In the Flea Song, Goethe mentions that the people at the King’s court are getting bit and that the bites start to itch. This is a very good description. They puncture the skin, opening up blood vessels, and then suck up the blood by creating a tube with their mouth-parts. These days fleas are unpopular for good reason.

Fleas are certainly not appreciated either by today’s humans or today’s canines, and the disgusting statistic is that one female flea can lay 50 eggs a day, or a couple thousand during her lifetime, and for every single flea actually found on your dog, there are many, many more lurking on your pet, in your yard, and even in your house.

Flea bites equal misery for your dog, and they can also cause a variety of other problems, including flea allergy dermatitis, anemia in severe cases, and they can carry tapeworms. Fleas and itching go together, and if your dog is itching, you need to check immediately. One of the best tools to confirm whether or not there are fleas is a flea comb. Start at the head and move toward the tail. The most common areas where fleas are found are the neck and the rear end, so check those areas carefully. A flea comb’s main purpose is to confirm whether or not there are fleas, and if you find even one flea, it is time to talk to your vet about a preventative to make those fleas flee. Do not wait until the dog has a major flea infestation.

There are many preventative products available to combat fleas, and some of them are good, some of them are not- so- good, and some of them may be downright toxic. Please DO NOT buy over the counter products. Consult with your veterinarian who is qualified to explain your options, and work with your own dog’s health history.

Itch….itch….scratch….scratch….must be a flea……or two….or three….probably more. Those nasty critters multiply, multiply, multiply….and they latch on tight….Soon gross little bugs will run all over him….it will seem like millions, and zillions….Be prepared.

 

The Truest Friends We Have

“A mother is the truest friend we have when trials fall upon us, or adversity takes the place of prosperity, and friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when darkness falls. Though trouble thickens around us, still she will cling to us, and endeavor to bring peace to our hearts. Her arms are always open when we need a hug; her heart understands when we need a friend. Her gentle eyes can be stern if we need a lesson, but her strength and love guide us and give us wings to fly.”

Mother’s Day comes once a year, but one day is not sufficient to honor our mothers. Our mothers are the truest friends we will ever have, and every day is Mother’s Day!!

To all moms and special women in our lives, we offer this special tribute of devotion:

“If I could give you diamonds for each tear you cried for me… if I could give you rubies for every heartache I have caused…if I could give you pearls for the wisdom that you’ve shown… then you’d have a treasure, mother, that would mount up to the skies, but I have no pearls, rubies, or diamonds, as I am sure you are well aware, so I will give you gifts more precious: my devotion, love and care. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!”

Dog moms celebrate on Mother’s Day too, and Carol Bryant shares this confession with us:

“I am a dog mom. I love it when folks call me a dog mom…a sense of pride swells over me. I do things with my dog that perhaps those who went before me did not with their dogs in days gone by. I look back on my childhood and cringe: the “family dog” wasn’t allowed in the main part of our home, and I wonder to this day if she ever even saw anything above the basement, where she was “allowed” to sleep if temps fell below zero.

The attitudes toward pets are slowly changing; in fact some argue that “dogs are the new kids” is becoming a worldwide epidemic. Science has finally acknowledged the special connection between humans and canines, and even big name journals like Psychology Today admit that dogs have the propensity to feel many of the same emotions that humans do.

My dog isn’t a child…I understand that. If I am honored to share life with my dog for 15 years or more, unlike a teenager at age 15, my dog won’t be asking for the car keys, won’t enter the dating world, and will never become a source of grey hair as I worry if he is 10 minutes late past curfew. The lifespan of a dog is short, a flicker if you will, compared to a human. There will be no dating, college funds, job search, or prom nights. He will pass from this world too soon, leaving a horrendous hole in my heart.

Since becoming a dog mom, I have learned many lessons including the importance of living in the moment. I have yet to see my dog worry about what happened yesterday or panic about plans for tomorrow. Dogs have taught me to live life to the fullest because, at any time, it can end. Yesterday is gone – tomorrow may never come. Today is best day of my life.

Yes, I spoil too much on my dog, and I certainly spend too much on him. I buy cotton swabs…I use baby wipes on his feet after a muddied walk or rainy day, and I could probably circumnavigate the globe with the amount of paper towels I use. I know he does not need eight leashes, four water bowls, regular trips to the pet supply store, and organized play dates.

I believe that all dogs should be well taken care of and kept out of harm’s way. They live such short lives, and they depend on us to accept the responsibilities of caring for them. They have no voice; they have no choice, Dog moms understand that, and do what is right for them. Dog moms celebrate their dogs every day. Dog moms shop. Dog moms buy….some dog moms even tuck their dogs in at night, and I enjoy the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, and the satisfaction of being a dog mom. Happy Mother’s Day to all dog moms of the world.”

 

What we allow – will continue

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, but as we make plans to honor the person who loved and supported us throughout our lives, we pause to remember the thousands of mother dogs in puppy mills who live out their lives in these inhumane places. Puppy mills are everywhere, and the US Department of Agriculture estimates that there are over 2 MILLION puppies bred in mills each year, and as long as “we the people” allow this, it will continue.

Puppy mill dog breeding operations may be large or small, but they all put profit over the health and well-being of the dogs. Breeding dogs spend their lives in dirty, unsanitary confinement and it is common to see wire cages stacked on top of each other, often without any protection from heat, cold, or inclement weather . They receive little or no veterinary care, and the bottom line is all about profits.

The two primary sales outlets for puppies bred in mills are pet stores and the internet. Almost ALL puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills, and pet stores are a primary sales outlet for puppy mills, and they are shipped all over the country in conditions that often force the dogs to go up to 12 hours without food or water, and many puppies do not survive.

“We the people” are the key to stopping this cycle of cruelty, and wringing our hands and moaning that “we feel so bad” about the situation, is not enough to stop these inhumane atrocities.

Until we initiate serious intervention, the situation will continue. Pledge to end this cycle of cruelty by choosing to not buy a pet from any pet store or internet site, refusing to buy supplies from any store or site that sells puppies, and supporting federal and local laws to stop the operation of puppy mills.

“The Life Of A Puppy Mill Dog” is not pleasant reading, but it presents an accurate account of what we allow to continue in those despicable places.

“Some humans in this world have decided with the worst selfishness and greed, that my fate shall forever be in a cage, and to just stay alive, I must breed. I will never be a pet, only a breeding machine. “Please release me from this prison,” I bark in vain, but the miller does not care that we live out each day in desperate pain. The truth is that I am the miller’s property…I never get to play or become a pet, and when I am sick or injured, the miller doesn’t bother to call a vet. Again and again the miller comes to collect my pups, so tiny and sickly with eyes and nose runny. I bark, “It’s too early …they need a mother’s care, but he ignores me, knowing that younger pups bring more money. My feet are always bleeding, cut by the wire floor, and my legs are crippled from never being allowed to run. In the winter I shiver; left out in the snow and rain. In the summer, the hot rays beat down from the sun. I am missing many teeth, the rest cracked and broken. My matted fur is falling out in clumps from a terrible rash, and the world is getting dark because an untreated infection that is making me blind, but the miller does not care as I can still bring in cash. As time goes by, I feel my body grow weaker each day. Ragged and worn, I look like I’m twelve though I’m only five. My uterus is swollen and infected from too many litters, and to breed lots of puppies is the sole reason I am kept alive. I can no longer make a product for him to see, so I am now a burden and waste of money to feed. I await my fate in silence….I’ve seen it all before. Now he is yanking me by the rope he uses as a lead. He drags me, as my legs are useless, to the weeds behind the mill and ties me to a tree with a rusty old chain. He walks away without a backward glance, leaving me to face death which will offer release from a lifetime of pain. There are thousands of mill dogs out there with lives as sad as mine. Please stop the puppy mill business. You do have an option; Don’t support mills by buying puppies from pet shops or bad breeders. Instead, go to a shelter or rescue and apply for adoption.” –by Petshub.com forum

It is our choices that reveal what we truly are: what we allow, is what will continue.

Is Your Dog at Risk?

During the month of April, dog rescues and organizations focus on educating pet parents on the prevention of heartworm disease, a serious parasitic infection spread by the bites of mosquitoes , resulting in parasitic worms wreaking havoc on a pet’s health. Unsuspecting caregivers may not realize that just one seemingly innocent insect bite can lead to heartworm. The heartworm life cycle begins when a mosquito bites an already infected dog and ingests the larvae during blood feeding. Over the next couple weeks this larvae mature to an infectious larvae inside the mosquito, and during the next feeding ,the mosquito bites a healthy dog and deposits larvae that burrow through tissue into the bloodstream, working their way to the dog’s heart and vessels. Maturation to the adult form, which is capable of breeding and producing more larvae, completes the cycle.

Heartworm facts include:

  • Adult heartworms live in the right side of the heart and can grow to more than a foot long. Several hundred may be present in a dog.
  • Heartworms impair blood circulation which results in damage to the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.
  • Serious damage may occur before signs are detected by the caregiver. In fact, dogs may not show signs of infection for two or three years, and by then the dog’s heart and pulmonary vessels may already be clogged with hundreds of worms. Advanced signs include difficulty breathing, coughing, loss of weight and listlessness. Left untreated, the disease causes suffering and even death.
  • According to the American Heartworm Society, millions of dogs in the United States get no heartworm preventative, or get it inconsistently .
  • Any dog, whether an indoor puppy to an outside working dog, can get heartworm if bitten by an infected mosquito. All dogs are at risk, even if they spend very little time outdoors. One bite from an infected mosquito can infect your dog with this disease.

If you aren’t giving your dog a heartworm preventative, ask your vet to test your dog. Diagnosis can be a simple blood test performed at your local vet clinic, and it is important to NOT skip this test because some preventatives can cause potentially fatal reactions in already infected dogs. Many veterinarians recommend routine annual testing as a staple of the dog’s healthcare program.

It is much less expensive to prevent heartworm disease than it is to treat it, and most conscientious caregivers understand that, but the problem is that for heartworm preventatives to work, they must be given on time, every time. It is estimated that many of the dogs on a heartworm program often miss scheduled doses, and that is a problem, so create reminder notes on your phone, place the medicine in a safe place where you’ll see it regularly, and put reminder stickers on your calendar. To be effective, the preventative must be given ON TIME, EVERY TIME!

Don’t wait to see signs of coughing, fainting, or difficulty in breathing. If you have not had your dog on a regular regime, get your dog to the vet for a blood test to check for heartworm. Hopefully, she will test negative, and you can get her started on a regular preventative program. If she tests positive, early detection can mean the difference between life and death. Treatment of heartworm disease in dogs is usually successful, but prevention is much safer (and cheaper) than treatment. We can’t eliminate all of the pesky mosquitoes, so keep your dog on a safe, heartworm preventative medication. Prevention is always better than treatment!

 

Spring Clean Your Dog

Spring has finally come! Temperatures rising, flowers showing their heads. We feel the urge to get busy cleaning, and our dogs could probably use a little spring cleaning too. Winter baths are usually minimal, with quick wipe-downs or short baths, but Spring is the perfect time to give a really good soaking bath.

A lot of dogs dislike baths, so here are a few helpful tips to ensure a successful bath time.

  • Be sure that you choose a warm, draft-free place for bathing, and never let him outside following a bath during cool, windy weather. Although it is an accepted common practice, professionals discourage ever bathing a dog outside with the water hose. Outdoor water is too cold for your dog’s comfort even on the hottest day, and most dogs naturally hate being blasted with water from the hose. Warm water is an important consideration.
  • Tasty treats and favorite toys will convince your dog that baths can be fun. If your dog really hates baths, convince him that good things happen at bath time by feeding him treats every step of the way.
  • Brushes are a pre-bathing tool to remove the loose, dead hair from his coat before his bath. You will naturally take his collar off so you will have no effective way to hold onto him, so a handy-dandy slip lead.
  • Do not use human shampoo on your dog – use a pet shampoo that is pH formulated for your dog. A sponge or wash cloth is useful for gently soaping and rinsing, especially those sensitive, hard-to-reach areas. Check the nether regions to be sure everything looks okay, is clean, and shows no sign of trouble such as swelling, undue odor or discharge. This is a good time to do a thorough body check for any lumps or bumps that might need medical attention.
  • Many dogs are afraid of dryers, so unless you plan to just towel dry them, or let them dry naturally, you will need to use some type of dryer – a hand-held, human hair dryer may be used on a low heat setting, if not held too close to his body.

Ear infections strike dogs with unfortunate frequency, with documentation indicating that more than 20 percent of our canine population is affected by inflammation of the external ear, so conscientious cleaning is important because untreated infections can have serious consequences. Hopefully you regularly check your dog’s ears all year long, but spring cleaning should include a thorough check. Never use a Q-tip to clean ears. Fill the ear canal with vet approved ear cleaning solution, and massage the ear canal with a cosmetic pad. If you detect odor, redness or discharge, he needs a professional exam to determine the basis for the infection, and what treatment is needed.

The skin and coat around your dog’s eyes are sensitive areas, and should be cleaned regularly. Look closely at both of her eyes. They should be clear, bright, free of any discharge, and show no signs of inflammation. If her eyes produce an abundance of matter, it is time for a professional examination. Bacterial eye infections, glaucoma, and cataracts are leading causes of blindness and discomfort in dogs.

Check your pet’s feet for wintertime abrasions and cracks. The snow, ice, sidewalk melt, and other cold weather dangers have caused a lot of wear. If she has burrs, stones, dirt, or even too much untrimmed hair between her pads, she won’t be comfortable walking. Check for dryness and cracks. You can buy special paw pad moisturizing cream, or you may have something already on hand…lanolin cream and beeswax are great pad moisturizers. Mineral based products that are petroleum distillates are not recommended because they clog the surface of the skin. Keeping the nails trimmed is important, and if you trim them on a regular basis, your dog is probably comfortable with the procedure. If you have been negligent with this procedure, you may have to have a professional trim them, and then you can just keep them trimmed by snipping off just a tiny bit each week. Just don’t trim too much, and offer a reward each time.

Dogs need regular check- ups, and a professional spring cleaning appointment with your veterinarian is advised.

Spring is when you discover your freshly bathed dog enjoying a good roll in the nastiest stuff he can find!

There is No Charge for Love

Easter is one of the most celebrated occasions in the Western world, a special time of love and joy. For Christians, Easter brings the good news that Christ’s resurrection fulfilled the promises of both the Old Testament and of Jesus Himself during His earthly life, and gives definitive proof of His divine authority. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Christ’s resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history, and it offers definitive proof of His divine authority, and is a story of unconditional love, freely given.

Not all Easter celebrations focus on the resurrection. Passover is also a holiday about renewal and liberation, and in the minds of many children, the Easter Bunny is second only to Santa Claus. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will be spending over seventeen BILLION dollars for apparel, food, decorations, and especially candy, so we take this opportunity to share basic facts regarding chocolate Easter eggs:

  • Diet tip: Eat an Easter egg before each meal….it will take the edge off your appetite, and that way you will eat less.
  • If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you are eating it too slowly.
  • If calories are an issue, store them on the top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.
  • Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger.

No matter how you celebrate, this time of year is a reminder that life is a constant process of love, hope and renewal, especially needed in these turbulent, uncertain times. “No Charge for Love” is a perfect Easter story, familiar to some of you, but worth repeating.

Good Samaritan Oliver Townsend had rescued a neglected mother dog and her litter of pups, and determined to find a good home for all of the pups. He posted a sign advertising, “Pups for sale to forever homes,” but weeks passed and no good prospects appeared. Late on Easter Sunday, he was outside trimming some bushes when he realized that he was being watched by a young boy. “Sir,” the boy said, “I would like to buy one of your puppies. My mom says it’s okay, and I have a little money from my Easter basket.” He reached deep into his pocket and pulled out a couple crumpled bills and some change, and held them out. “Could I take a look at them?” Mr. Townsend shook his head, thinking that this would not be the right match. “You know, son, the mother of these pups was in bad shape, and I have spent a lot of money nursing her back to health, and caring for her babies.”

The boy looked directly into the man’s face. “I would take really good care of the pup, and if I don’t have enough money, maybe I could mow your lawn or something. Couldn’t I just take a look at them?”

The man put down his clippers, and let out a whistle, “Here, Dolly,” he called. From the front porch ran Dolly, followed by three little balls of fur. As the dogs came closer, the boy’s eyes sparkled with delight. Suddenly he noticed something else was stirring on the porch. Slowly, another, noticeably smaller pup, appeared, and in a somewhat awkward way, tried to catch up with his siblings.

“I want that one,” the boy said. “I will work for you until he is paid for.” Townsend knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. I love him dearly, but he will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.”

The boy repeated softly, “I want that one.” He reached down and pulled up one leg of his jeans, revealing a brace running down both sides of his leg, attaching itself to a specially made shoe. “You see, sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.”

Oliver carefully picked up the little pup, and gently placed him in the boy’s arms. “How much?” asked the youngster. With tears in his eyes, the man answered, “No charge – there is no charge for love.”

May your life be filled with hope, joy, and gentle, wise, wonderful, kind love, today, and all year long.