Monday, May 22, 2017

Canine Distemper and Rabies

Last week, I posted a link on Facebook about two Colorado dogs being tested positive for Rabies. This raises the questions: What is distemper? What is rabies? Is there a difference or are they the same thing?

Here I have broken it down for you in Layman's terms:


Please note: I did not put ALL the symptoms for rabies on my list. There are two different phases of rabies: Furious and Paralytic. The names pretty much describe the symptoms, both result in death.
PRE-EXPOSURE VACCINATION is the only thing that will protect your dog from rabies and distemper. If you think you (or your dog) have been bitten by a rabid animal, wash the wound with soap and water for about 15 minutes immediately. The Rabies virus is very fragile and will most likely be killed by the soap and water before it travels through your body to the brain. BUT, you still need to call your local doctor/ veterinarian for post-bite treatment and protocol.  You don't want to mess around and take chances. There is a Post-bite vaccination for humans, but not for domestic animals. If your dog is not vaccinated, he/she will have to be placed in quarantine for approx. 6 months and normal vaccination protocol will be administered. If your dog shows signs for rabies, euthanization will take place. A diagnostic test for rabies involves taking tissue samples of the brain from at least two locations and requires the animal to be euthanized. Distemper cannot be transmitted to humans. There are two types of distemper: Feline and Canine. Canine distemper cannot be passed to felines and vice versa. Rabies on the other hand, can be passed to any animal including humans.   

Reference:

World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs099/en/

Pet Education.com, Rabies in Dogs: Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and vaccination: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2102&aid=347

Pet Poison Helpline, Distemper and Rabies: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/uncategorized/distemper-and-rabies/

Monkeysee.com, YouTube video series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBn385Mun6A

Remedy's Health Communities, Rabies: Signs and Symptoms: http://www.healthcommunities.com/rabies/symptoms.shtml 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Caring for Client Animals with Potential Exposure: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/specific_groups/veterinarians/potential_exposure.html

Monday, May 15, 2017

How To Stop Your Dog From Barking in Four (patient) Steps


Whether it's the mailman, the neighbor walking his dog by your fence or a deer in your back yard, excessive dog barking can bring anyone down to their knees in frustration. Here are four steps you can take to bring a little peace and quiet into your home:

  1. Make sure your dog is exercised. A lot of doggy mischief can be avoided by simply making sure your dog is properly exercised, mentally and physically. When your dog has extra energy, he needs to find an avenue to release it. He's bored! This results in behaviors we owners may not find endearing. By making sure your dog is getting physical and mental exercise everyday, you are releasing that pent up energy and helping your furry friend live a balanced life. 
  2.  Stay Calm. You are not helping the situation by yelling "STOOOOPPPP!!!!" or "KNOCK IT OFF!". Remember, dogs do not speak human. If you are yelling at them, all they hear is you barking along with them. They think everyone is joining in on the fun! Instead, you can...
  3. Teach them the "Quiet Command". The first steps of this training seem quite counter intuitive, but trust me, with some patience you will see where I am going with it: Step 1- When your dog barks, praise him and use the verbal cue "bark" as you give him a treat. This will allow him to start to associate the word "bark" with the action of barking. Step 2- When your dog stops barking, give him a different treat with the vocal cue "quiet". This will get him to associate the word "quiet" with the action of not barking. Step 3- Train, train, train with a lot of patience. Repetition is key. Training does not happen over night and takes a lot of diligence and patience. Only train your dog for about 15 minutes a day in 5 minute sessions. Otherwise, you risk over saturating your dog and stressing them out. Once the behavior is learned, practice it weekly in order to maintain the behavior. 
  4.  Desensitize your dog to whatever it is that is making him bark. For example, if it is the mailman, sit with your dog everyday the mailman comes and practice the quiet command while redirecting your dog to an incompatible behavior like laying on his bed or going to his kennel. 
You will notice that I didn't put in here to "remove the stimulus". Some people recommend doing things like closing the shades when people are walking by (if your dog barks at that) or bringing your dog inside if your dog barks at people walking by. I don't think that really helps all that much, because you are basically avoiding the situation instead of teaching your dog a positive behavior to associate with the situation. Plus, seriously, who wants to live their whole life with the shades down because you are afraid someone is going to walk by and your dog will start barking. That is giving your dog way too much control of the situation and leaving you kind of helpless. Instead, work with the situation. If your dog is barking at the walkers going by, sit there with your dog practicing the "quiet" command with an incompatible behavior. Or rally up your friends to purposely walk by so you can practice. It takes a lot of patience and diligence to have a furry friend in your family, but it also brings a lot of joy. Raising a canine companion will bring out a lot of positive traits in yourself that you had no idea you could foster. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sunscreen for Canines


Summer is right around the corner and soon it will be time to slather ourselves in sunscreen and hope for the best. Did you know that dogs are just as much at risk for sunburn as humans? Dogs at the highest risk for sunburn are light skinned dogs, dogs with short hair, with little to no hair and dogs that spend a lot of time in the water (or soaking up the sun rays). In addition, a dog's nose, ears and underside are the most at risk for getting sunburned. Like humans, genetics and diet play a role in the susceptibility to sunburn. Some dogs are just more sensitive to the damaging effects of the sun. A lot of caring dog owners will use sunscreen on their dogs, but they should never use commercial sunscreen made for humans. Human sunscreen has a whole list of ingredients that are toxic to canines, including zinc oxide. Dogs lick themselves all the time and end up ingesting the toxic components of the sunscreen. For a list of toxic elements, please visit this website--> click here.  

There are ways a dog owner can protect their furry friend through diet and natural oils, though! A diet with foods rich in Lycopene is our first measure of sun safety. Lycopene is a phytonutrient and antioxidant that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables and can offer a small bit of natural sunscreen when ingested. We cannot soley rely on just Lycopene rich vegetables for sun protection because when ingested, only a small part of the lycopene is absorbed into the skin. A dog owner can increase the absorption by also pairing the fruit/vegetable with a good source of fat, such as: Coconut oil, fish oil, olive oil, hemp seed oil and Flax oil.


When adding fruits and vegetable to a dog's diet, the owner should always remember the proper proportions for a canine: 56% to 60% protein, 25% to 30% fat and 11% to 14% appropriate carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables) to ensure optimal health. In addition, the pits in fruits and vegetables (example: apricot and mangoes) should always be removed before feeding to your furry friend. Pits can cause intestinal obstructions that often end up either really costly or deadly. 

The second measure to sun safety is to select an oil that has a natural SPF in it and use it instead of commercial sunscreen. These oils are (and I've included the SPF number alongside):

  • Carrot Seed (30-38 SPF) which is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. It also has healing properties for skin issues. The only downside is that it has a slight orange tinge. Dog's with light hair may take on a carrot like hue from the oil dying the fur. 😋
  • Red Raspberry Seed Oil (30-50 SPF) has an excellent level of Vitamin E for dogs with dry, irritated and inflamed skin. 
Notice the range in SPF per oil? This is because mother nature is never exact and levels of SPF will vary depending upon the plant, where it is grown and when it is harvested. 
 
You can also add essential oils to the above oils to add healing benefits. But, you should never add citrus essential oils! These are phototoxic and will cause burns! Lavender Essential oil has healing properties as well as a natural SPF of 6%.  Always remember to dilute essential oils to a safe dog dilution (not human) and do not use on puppies less than 8 weeks old. In addition, make sure your oils are therapeutic grade! For more information on essential oil safety for canines, visit this link--> click here

Finally, I am providing you a recipe to make your own dog friendly sunscreen! All the oils listed will also have their approximate naturally occurring SPF next to the name.

1/4 cup coconut oil (2-8 SPF)
1/4 cup Shea butter (2-8 SPF)
1/8 cup Wheat Germ Oil (or hazelnut oil) (15 SPF)
2 TBS of beeswax
1 Tsp of Red Raspberry Seed Oil (30-50 SPF)
1 Tsp of Carrot seed oil (30-38 SPF)
6 drops of Lavender Essential Oil (Optional) (6%)

Directions: Melt all the oils, except the Lavender Essential Oil, together on low in a sauce pan. Be sure not to over heat and bring to a boil. Once everything is melted, pour into a mason jar and add the essential oil and gently stir with a non-metal spoon. Allow to cool to a hardened state. That's it! 

Additional links to get you started on your own research: