Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Hypothermia in Canines

Hypothermia is a dangerous drop in body temperature and can be caused by more than just being outside in the cold for long periods of time. There are a lot of factors that play into whether or not your dog is at risk of hypothermia, some of them include:
  • Very young or old dogs.
  • Dogs under anesthesia.
  • Smaller breeds, because they experience faster loss of body heat. 
  • Diseases of the hypothalamus (example: hypothyroidism). The hypothalamus is responsible for regulating and maintaining body temperature. 
  • Shock
  • And... of course... if your dog has been out in the cold or the skin/ fur has been wet for a long period of time.
So, how do you know if your dog has hypothermia? A dog's normal body temperature is higher than a human's. The normal range is from 101-102.5F. When it drops to a human range of body temperature (97.6- 99.6F), they are in danger of hypothermia. In fact, if your dog's body temperature drops below 98F, you should seek a veterinarian immediately.

The first signs of hypothermia is excessive shivering and lethargy. You should also check for frostbite: When areas of the skin, particularly the tail, ears and paws, become pale, gray and/ or bluish. These areas can also feel cold or brittle and be painful when touched. Sometimes, the frost bit areas will also swell and form blisters. To check your dog's body temperature, click this link.

Here is a handy temperature chart. Remember if your dog is below 98F, TAKE THEM TO THE VET.

What to Do:
(Remember, if your dog's temperature is below 98F, seek a veterinarian immediately!)
  1. Throw some blankets in the dryer to warm them up. Then, wrap your dog in the warm blankets.
  2. Wrap a warm water bottle in a towel and place on your dog's stomach. Do not place the warmed water bottle directly on the stomach without wrapping it. This may cause a burn on your dog's stomach.
  3. If your dog is alert, give him/her warm fluids to drink. 
  4. Try to keep your dog still. Moving around will cause more body heat to be lost.
  5. Take your dog's temperature every 10 minutes. Once your dog is at a normal temperature, take them to the veterinarian to check for long term damage. 
Winter can be a wonderful time to go out hiking and playing in the snow, but just because your dog has fur, does not mean they can withstand extreme temperatures. Always pay attention to the signs your dog is giving you that they may be cold. In addition, prepare your dog for cold weather. investing in a good dog coat and booties is always a good idea if you are going to be outside for a long duration of time. Lastly, never leave your dog unattended outside in the cold.

Additional links:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Pumpkin Spice Sorbet

I found this recipe on The Gracious Pantry and decided to give it a go for myself and my four-legged family members. I did alter the recipe, because the recipe on "The Gracious Pantry" had some ingredients toxic to dogs. If you are making it for your dog, please use the recipe below! The original recipe calls it "Ice Cream", but I beg to differ. It is more of a sorbet, since none of the ingredients even remotely resemble anything creamy or dairy like. I doubt my dogs care whether or not it is correctly termed "ice cream" or "sorbet". But let me tell you, if you go into eating this thinking you are getting a creamy dessert, you will be disappointed. None the less, it is a delicious treat that can be put into a bowl, cone or Kong.
This recipe is really simple and healthier than conventional ice cream. Below the recipe, I have outline the health benefits of some of the ingredients:

  • 4 bananas
  • 1 cup pumpkin Puree
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (The original recipe called for pumpkin spice. Pumpkin Spice contains nutmeg which is considered a toxin for your dog.)
~ Using a food processor, blend all of the ingredients. Transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze for 24-hours.~

That's it! That's all you need to do. Pretty simple, eh?

Maple Syrup   Maple syrup is rich in Manganese, zinc and natural antioxidants. It also has a lower Glycemic Index than regular sugar which means it will be absorbed into your body at a slower rate. You're less likely to get that sugar high. But, we must keep in mind that sugar is sugar and should be an occasional treat for your dog.

 Pumpkin  helps with digestion, urinary health and weight loss. Keep in mind, you DO NOT want to give your dog canned pumpkin PIE filling. It has sugar and spices that are not so good for them. Instead, opt for 100% canned pumpkin.

Cinnamon has a long list of health benefits. To list a few, it's an anti-inflammatory, increases brain activity, stimulates appetite and is anti-microbial. To learn more about cinnamon, go here.

Bananas are a great source of Potassium.

 All in all, the recipe was "Ok" for me (because I like ice cream!), but the dogs' absolutely loved it. If I were to make it again, I would probably freeze it in something cute like a silicone ice mold in the shape of a heart, bone or paw print. This would allow me to A) be super crafty and B) have single servings for the furry ones that I can just pop out and serve. To put it into a Kong, I would soften up the frozen mixture in order to scoop it and stuff into a Kong. A Kong would no doubt last longer than a silicone mold shape, but it would be a larger serving of a sugary treat for your canine friend. Doing it the "Kong way" would definitely have to be an occasional treat.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Diet: Why a Healthy Weight Matters for Canines

Pet weight- it's a big deal! Not only will your pet's weight affect your pocket book in the way of veterinarian bills, but it also plays a huge role in the quality of life your pet is living. According to a 2016 survey by The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 54% of all dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese and 93% of pet guardians thought their dog's weight was normal. How I read that statistic is that a lot of humans out there have an overweight dog and think their dog is normal. So how can you tell if your dog is at a healthy weight?
  • Feel your dog's spine and ribs. If you are having difficulty feeling the spine and ribs, Fido is overweight. 
  • From a side view, a dog's stomach should be raised. It should not be sagging.
  • From an upward view, you should be able to see a "waist", an inward curve, between the back of the ribcage and the hips.  
Having an overweight dog greatly affect their health: They have a shorter life expectancy, there is tremendous stress on the joints leading to injury and arthritis, a greater risk of heat stroke, hip dysplasia, respiratory problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, Kidney and liver disease. Basically, the list goes on and on... If that does not persuade you, maybe your pocketbook will-- vet bills are not cheap.

If you have determined that your beloved four-legged family member is indeed overweight, the first step you need to take is a vet visit to rule out any metabolic disorders or other health problems. Once those are ruled out, it's time to put your dog on a DIET. 😩 You must first look at the "whats" and "how muchs" of your dog. Are you feeding your dog too much food? The wrong kind of food? Too many treats? Maybe your dog isn't getting enough exercise? Research, research, research and then develop a plan of how to get from the current weight to the ideal weight. Remember, each breed and gender will have different weight ranges for healthy. It is also important to take it slow. We aren't talking about a crash diet of quick weight loss. This will only add stress to your canine. One step at a time is key:

Proactive steps towards a healthy weight:
  • Cut down portion size little by little until you reach an appropriate portion size. 
  • Use an actual measuring cup. Not just a random scoop or drinking cup out of your cupboard OR the ol'-dump-the-food-into-the-bowl-straight-from-the-bag technique (Big no!)
  • Cut back on treats and no table scraps. Any treats should be given for a deliberate reason (as in training good behavior). Choose your treats wisely: fruits or vegetables, low fat dehydrated meats with no additives are all good for training. Remember: some fruits or veggies can be toxic to your dog, click here to find out the good/ bad fruits and vegetables. 
  • Don't leave food out. Free feeding your dog is a big "no-no". Have designated meal times at the same time every day. If your dog doesn't eat all of the food, take it away after 15 minutes. Small meals several times a day is key. It helps keep Fido's blood sugar steady, which in turn makes the body less like to store extra calories. 
  • Choose the right food! Kibble is notorious for being high in carbohydrates. Please choose a high quality pet food that is high in protein and low in grains if you do not feed raw. We at Bark City LOVE Honest Kitchen Dog food! (shameless solicitation since we sell it at our facility!) Also remember that each breed of dog has a different nutritional requirement. So you must be diligent and do your research on what kind of food is appropriate for your breed. 
If you take the above steps in a slow, but steady progress towards a set goal, you and your dog should have a happy, healthy life with new adventures waiting around the corner! 💕