Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is

At no point is panicking part of our job description as dog parents. That doesn't mean that we don't volunteer ourselves for it. I know I do.

On Sunday morning Cookie got up looking quite sick.

She looked quite lethargic and weak, had no interest in food. She did come out with us but even from the way she carried herself we could see she's not well.

When a vibrant, active, young dog looks like this, you KNOW something isn't right.

My heart sank.

Something was quite wrong.

Our job, then, was to figure out whether we should make an emergency visit to the vet, whether this was going to go away on its own, or whether it could wait till Monday.

That is the big part of the dog parent job. Figuring out whether, and how fast, your dog needs to see a vet.

Other than lethargy, weakness and disinterest in food, there were no other symptoms to go on. No diarrhea, no vomiting (at least not yet). Breathing and heart rate seemed normal. Temperature seemed normal. There was no detectable pain. Gums looked pink, even though a little sticky.

My main concern was another bout of pancreatitis. The initial signs were extreme tiredness and not wanting to eat. Vomiting and diarrhea didn't come until later.

After some discussion we decided to give it a little bit of time to see whether it improves.

Don't get me wrong, I was worried sick. But as worrisome as it looked, it didn't look like a gotta-see-a-vet-right-now type of emergency. At least not yet.

We let Cookie rest to see whether her body can deal with the problem on its own.

The slightest sign of things getting worse, we'd be on our way.

However, by noon Cookie seemed to look slightly better. She even accepted a few pieces of slow-cooked beef. That was a good sign.

We let her rested some more and little later she ate some boiled chicken breast.

By evening she was greatly improved and by next morning she was her normal self.

It was a major relief.

Believe me, I'm not a proponent of wait and see approach, ever. Ironically, though, I also believe in giving the body a chance to heal itself, when it can. Cookie being young and healthy dog, her body did a great job resolving whatever the problem was.

Perhaps she felt really badly and it passed, perhaps she's a bit of a drama queen?

Jasmine had high pain threshold and it took a lot for her to show something wasn't right. Perhaps Cookie isn't like that and shows things readily.

I'd much rather have a dog overplay how they feel then downplaying it.

Or maybe she even wasn't, maybe it's the way I'm trained to see things.

The main thing is that she's been perfectly fine since then (at least to the time of writing this post). We're still being watchful, though.

Related articles:
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot? 
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit 
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?  
Cookie's Leaks Update

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me and I'll be happy to publish your story.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Adoption Monday: Reba, Labrador Retriever & Border Collie Mix, Deerfield, NH

Check out this lovely girl at Mary's Dogs Rescue and Adoption!

This purdy girl here is Reba

Reba  is wanting a fabulous home where she can continue to shine!

Walks? Yup. Hikes? You bet. Kisses? You'd better believe it!

She's all that and much, much more!!!!

Reba is spayed, house trained and current on routine shots. Want more info on Reba? Call Mary's Dogs: or send along an email: marysdogsrescue@gmail.com

Ready to bring Reba home? Tell us about yourself and your interest in Reba in the adoption questionnaire. Check out all the wonderful dogs on Mary's Dogs Facebook Fan Page.


Mary’s Dogs rescues and re-homes dogs and puppies from Aiken County Animal Shelter, a high-kill shelter in South Carolina, USA. They also serve as a resource to communities in Southern New Hampshire and pet owners nationwide by providing education and information on responsible pet ownership, including the importance of spay/neuter, positive behavior training, and good nutrition.

Don't forget to check out Mary's Dogs Shop where you can shop dog and support their work!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Our Example Of The Use Of "Look At That" (LAT)

It took me a while to come up with the idea and it was amazing how quickly it worked.

We were watching a movie at a friend's house. We've been there countless times before. He has couple plants hanging in front of the window. He also has a ceiling fan which is typically on. The plants swing and turn a little in the breeze. This all has been there all along too.

That night, though, Cookie decided she was going to take objection with that oddly behaving plant.

She'd lay there and softly growl at it. For quite a while.

We figured she'd get bored of that and stop but we were wrong. Instead, she decided to get up and give it heck up close. We couldn't convince her that it was just a plant moving in the breeze.

To help out, the friend took down the plant and brought it into another room. Yep, I was still clueless as what to do about this.

Do you think that removing the plant helped?

Nope. There was still the other one, previously ignored, now getting its turn being growled and barked at.

Then it finally dawned on me (about an hour into all the growling).

"I'm going to try something," I declared and went to grab some treats. I was going to try the Look At That (LAT) and see what happens. We already did work on it and used it during the reactive dog class.

Cookie was already interested in the treats.

I took her under the plant, moved it a little and asked her to Look At That. When she did, quietly, I marked and rewarded. We did that a few times.

And that was it.

Just like that the plant stopped being a problem. We hung the other one back and it was no problem either. I didn't expect it to work THAT FAST but it did.

Cookie didn't bother with the moving plants since.

I just couldn't believe why it took me so long to try it.

Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Observation Skills Of Dogs  
If You Want Your Dog To Do Something, Teach It  
Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks 
What Constitutes The Perfect Dog?
Are Dog Training Classes Really For The Dogs?  
Look Where You Want To Go: Finding My Reactive Dog Training Zen Zone? 
Dog Training And Emotions 
Dog Training And Emotions: Postscript
Dogs Love Sentences In Question Form?
Not All Dog Trainers Were Created Equal Either 
A Thought On Separation Anxiety
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
About Freedom, Trust And Responsibility: A "Pilot Study"
So, We Have A Bear 
About Happiness: What Makes Your Dog Happy? 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Teaching Cues Using Opposites


Donna Hill, Donna Hill B.Sc. B.Ed., has a degree in zoology and a teaching degree. She has 20 years experience in adult and child education and enjoyed teaching people how to observe animals in nature as a nature interpreter, field biologist and train-the-trainer for presentation skills and now applies her knowledge and skills to help people and their dogs. She helps people with disabilities to train their own service dogs and has experience working with autistic and developmentally delayed teens. She uses plain English to explain what you are doing and why and also provides analogies you can relate to. She was also a Girl Guide and earned the highest honor as well as worked in the Tourism industry as a information counselor. She loves to share key information with people!

Visit her blog at Online Clicker Training Tutorials & Coaching.

Check out her two Youtube channels supernaturalbc2009 and supernatural 2008 for more awesome videos. Her motto is "Yard by Yard, Life is hard. Inch by Inch, It's a Cinch!" Break everything down into it's simplest parts and it's achievable!

Don't forget to visit Donna's FB group Observation Skills for Training Dogs or connect with Donna on Twitter.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Veterinary Highlights: Canine Lymphoma Blood Test

Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in dogs. Jasmine's best friend died to lymphoma at 7 years of age.

There is a new user-friendly electronic system out now, to assist the diagnosis and remission monitoring of canine lymphoma.

Developed in cooperation of Avacta Animal Health Ltd. and a team of a team of researchers from the University of Leicester, it is the first test of its kind.

The test can be used as an aid in diagnosis in dogs with suspected lymphoma.

As part of the initial blood work up it can differentiate between malignant and benign causes of enlarged lymph nodes.

In dogs already diagnosed with lymphoma and undergoing chemotherapy, the test can be used to monitor the treatment and remission status.

The test measures circulating biomarkers of the disease.

It is non-invasive and has the potential to provide superior objectivity.

Source article:
Canine lymphoma: new hope for beloved family pets

Further reading:
Canine Lymphoma Blood Test

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tear Stains: What Should You Do About Them?

Just recently, FDA issued warning letters for unapproved tear stain removers used in dogs and cats. Many of these products have not been reviewed by FDA for safety and effectiveness. More importantly, they contain antibiotic tylosin tartrate, which is not approved for this use in dogs and cats.

Why would you want to expose your dog to unnecessary antibiotics just to treat a benign condition anyway?


A Veterinary Guide to Tear Stains
by Dr. Greg Magnusson, DVM

Oy vey, this topic’s a mess, isn’t it? I tell you what, researching this article revealed a TON of misinformation. I’m going to attempt to clear it up.

Quick rule of thumb – any time there’s a million suggested treatments for something, that means that no one treatment works for everyone.

This much is clear. Some dogs produce excessive tears – primarily because when humans turned wolves into poodles, bichons, Maltese, boxers, bulldogs, etc, that selective breeding created short noses and protruding eyes that contribute to abnormally narrow and often crooked tear ducts.

Excessive tears, then, is a problem that can’t necessarily be fixed in most of these dogs (because we bred it into them in the first place), but the effects of too many tears can be managed.

Other veterinary / medical causes for excessive tearing, by the way, include:
  • ingrown eye lashes
  • abnormally large tear producing glands
  • abnormally small tear duct openings
  • stress
  •  drugs
  • poor quality diet
  • smoking
  • ear infection
  • plastic food bowls. 
Importantly, young puppies will tend to produce more tears when they are teething. When the dog reaches maturity, tear staining should lessen.

Now, assuming you and your veterinarian have ruled out medical causes of excessive tear production, what now can be done for the stains that often result? And why do these stains happen in the first place?

Let’s begin! Grab yourself a cup of tea, this might take a minute…

Tear stains are usually caused by dye molecules called porphyrins. 

Porphyrins are iron-containing molecules, produced when the body breaks down red blood cells. Porphyrins are excreted primarily through bile and the intestinal tract, but in dogs a significant amount of porphyrin is excreted through tears, saliva and also urine.

When porphyrin containing tears or saliva sits on white fur for any length of time, stains result. These iron-related stains intensify/darken in the presence of sunlight.

All dogs produce porphyrin, but of course porphyrin staining is most noticeable on light colored dogs. 

If you have ever noticed a white dog who has been licking or chewing on his leg, the hair in that area will turn iron-brown in color as well.

Primarily, then, most tear stains in most dogs can be simply prevented by keeping the face meticulously free of porphyrin-containing tears. That means keeping the face hair trimmed, and wiping the face at least twice daily with a slightly damp wash cloth, to dilute out and wash away the tears.

Or, if you want to get really fancy, cleaning under the eyes with ordinary contact lens cleaning solution (containing dilute boric acid, that oxidizes the iron in the porphyrins and lightens the color) will help keep things neat and tidy.

But cleaning the face certainly isn’t the whole story, is it……..? What about Red Yeast?

Oy, Red Yeast, also known on various websites, blogs and forums as ” Ptyrosporin “.

Well folks, Ptyrosporin do not exist.

Time to learn about yeast – AFTER A QUICK HISTORY LESSON

Once upon a time (1874), a fellow named Malassez isolated yeast cells from human dandruff scales (ew!). In 1889, a different fellow named Baillon included this group of yeasts under the genus Malassezia, named after the first guy. A third dude named Sabouraud (1904) considered this organism as a cause of dandruff and gave it a new name, Pityrosporum malassez. In the following years, there was controversy regarding the generic name of the fungus, and in 1984, Malassezia finally gained priority over Pityrosporum and was accepted as the generic name for the fungus.

So Malassezia = Pityrosporum, but Ptyrosporin doesn’t exist. Somewhere along the line, probably before the official name change in 1984 (some of these internet legends persist from BEFORE the internet was even invented LOL!) someone boogered up the spelling and mislabelled this yeast as Ptyrosporin. Suffice it to say, the Red Yeast everyone is talking about is not some magical red-stain-making yeast strain found only in dog tears, it’s the same, brown, boring ol’ Malassezia that causes ear infections and skin infections and all kinds of other routine grossness in dogs. This finding was a shock to me, as a tiny little misspelling propagated over thousands of websites has led to a massive misunderstanding of what causes tear stains.

Who cares what it’s called, Dr. Magnusson? How do you treat it?

Well, I care, and here’s why. If your dog develops a YEAST INFECTION aside her nose as the result of the fur under her eyes being chronically wet with tears, because you’re not cleaning her face and keeping her fur trimmed, that’s a medical condition easily treated with proper grooming and upkeep.

BROWN staining from yucky yeast infection secondary to poor grooming maintenance, and RED staining from porphyrins, are two different problems, which is why oral supplements aimed at reducing porphyrin production will not work in all dogs.

Now that’s cleared up, why do some dogs make more porphyrin than others? 

That’s the $64,000 question right there.

The answer, of course, is not a yeast problem but rather a bacterial problem.

Which bacteria, exactly, contribute to excessive porphyrin production? We don’t know for sure. There is some suspicion (though nobody has ever proved this) that our old friend Malassezia (aka Pityrosporium, aka NOT Ptyrosporin) are still involved somehow, even though we know very well the problem is primarily bacteria. Some believe the Malassezia somehow interacts with the bacteria in the tears of these dogs, and that somehow Malassezia-fueled bacteria (or bacteria-fueled Malassezia?) then produce porphyrin. The mechanism of this bacterial porphyrin production is unclear.

What is clear, however, is that giving dogs certain antibiotics eliminates excessive porphyrin production in some dogs, so yeast infection is not the only possible cause of tear stains. Tylosin, the antibiotic in Angels’ Eyes, is often effective in these bacterial cases. Since we know Tylosin is NOT effective against Malassezia / Pityrosporium / Ptyrosporin, that MUST mean that chronic low grade bacterial infections are the cause of tear stains in some dogs.

Wait, did you just say that Angels Eyes and Angels Glow are effective because they contain ANTIBIOTICS?!?


Why isn’t the FDA more concerned about the OTC use of an antibiotic? Shouldn’t that be illegal? It’s clearly illegal for any company to make a product containing any other antibiotic, but somehow “supplements” containing Tylosin have managed to fly under the radar. Probably not forever, as every other country in the world has outlawed Angels Eyes and their ilk and some have taken action to remove these products from store shelves (here’s a supporting document from the UK).

As with any antibiotic, Tylosin is usually harmless in small doses, but may be harmful to some dogs. At the very least, giving low-dose broad-spectrum antibiotics to any dog is likely to encourage bacterial resistance, a problem the human medical community has been hounding the veterinary community about for years (pardon the pun).

Are there oral medications that reduce porphyrin production and do not contain tylosin?

I’m so glad you asked! Of course there are! Naturally, now that we’re getting into the fuzzy realm of nutraceuticals, probiotics and other poorly-studied supplements with little to no oversight or regulation, I can’t really vouch for any of these products. Testimonials abound, you’re mostly on your own when choosing one over the other, but as with any product, you’ll find someone who swears by each of them, and someone else who says it’s voodoo nonsense and doesn’t work.

No medication is harmless.

None. Not one. Every drug, supplement, and herb has some type of side effect. To say otherwise is negligent and irresponsible. So buyer beware, and always consult with your veterinarian before starting your dog on any supplement please.

Now then… several “natural” supplements have surfaced that claim to reduce tear staining, do not contain obvious antibiotics, and are less likely to be seized by the FDA for breaking the law, so if you want to try one, that’s your prerogative.

Here’s a couple I’ve found that some people like and some people don’t. I don’t endorse any of these, this list is for information purposes only:

NaturVet tear stain supplement

Here’s my bottom line how to treat tear stains:

STEP 1: Meticulously maintain your dog’s clean face. Wipe face with a damp cloth twice a day to remove excessive tears, and keep regular appointments with the groomer.

STEP 2: Throw away your plastic food bowls. Use stainless steel, porcelain or glass. Plastic food bowls often develop tiny cracks that harbor bacteria and cause facial irritation.

STEP 3: Consider a mild boric acid containing solution as found in some contact lens cleaners, or use liquid vitamin C, on a cotton ball, to wipe the dog’s face and lighten the tear stains that have already formed. Acids like boric and citric (Vit C) presumably oxidize the porphyrin iron compounds and lighten them, whereas sunlight makes the stains darker.

STEP 4: If porphyria remains despite your best grooming efforts, consider a NON-Tylosin containing oral supplement like the ones listed above.

STEP 5: If your tap water happens to be high in mineral content or iron, consider giving the dog bottled water, or use a filter to create cleaner water.

STEP 6: If you insist on using antibiotics, under veterinary supervision, drugs like doxycycline, metronidazole and enrofloxacin have all been used with some success.

BONUS? – STEP 7: Tums or Apple Cider Vinegar? – I have found no evidence that adding a tiny amount of antacid or vinegar to your dog’s giant tub of stomach acid will have any effect at all on the pH of their tears, so I’m calling BS on this one.

BONUS – STEP 8: Does a higher quality diet reduce porphyrin production in some dogs? Certainly. Veterinarians always recommend feeding your dog the highest quality balanced diet you can afford. Some folks swear by homemade or raw diets, others are concerned about nutrient balance issues with homemade diets, most veterinarians prefer you feed a well-studied commercial diet of some kind, from a major manufacturer. No clear right or wrong here, do what works for you and your family.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND you use OTC Tylosin, Terramycin (oft misspelled Teramyacin), makeup remover, milk of magnesia, yogurt, hydrogen peroxide, gold bond, corn syrup, or any other voodoo concoction to remove tear stains, as obviously putting ANY of these things INSIDE the eye is likely to make your dog really unhappy.

That’s all!! Hopefully, you’ve learned that PROPER GROOMING AND MAINTENANCE of your dog’s face is the primary treatment for tear stains, and do please see your veterinarian to rule out medical causes of excessive tears, before starting your dog on any supplements! Thanks for reading, please share this article if you liked it!

Reprinted with permission from Leo's Pet Care, 10598 N College Ave # 200, Indianapolis, IN 46280 | www.leospetcare.com | indianapolisvet@gmail.com

Greg Magnusson, DVM describes himself as Leo's daddy. Public educator, mender of wounded bodies, healer of troubled souls, veterinarian in Indianapolis at Leo's Pet Care - out to change the world for one little boy...
Contact Dr. Magnusson via his Leo's Pet Care Facebook Fan Page or @IndianapolisVet on twitter.

Articles by Dr. Magnusson:
What's In The Blood? Blood Testing And Interpretation  
Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Anal Glands 
What Causes Bladder Infections in Dogs?
Indianapolis Vet On The Nose Bleeds Nightmare
Why Does My Vet Want To Xray My Dog?
Natural Home Remedies For Hot Spots 
When To Take A Vomiting Dog To The Vet 
Pancreatitis: Official Veterinary Killjoy Of The Holidays  
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