Monday, July 6, 2015

Adoption Monday: Gloree, Black Labrador Retriever & German Shepherd Dog Mix, Southington, CT

Gloree is a 9 month old black lab /German shepherd mix.

She has come a long way in a short time.

Gloree is already house trained and for the majority of time has very good house manners. She is still a puppy and doesn't always know the difference between toys and or socks so she is still in need of some guidance and supervision (she's a smart pup and will get it in time).

She is doing quite well with her crate and leash training. 

Gloree is eager to learn and please and will happily show you her pretty 'sit'.

She has already mastered the art of snuggling. Life is always so much better with a love bug laying by your side, especially on those cold winter nights. We're betting she will be a great foot warmer too.

Right now Gloree enjoys cooling off in her baby pool so water is okay by her. Of course she loves running and playing, as do most little girls. She is really fond of her chew toys and bones.

Gloree loves playing with other dogs and she gets along well with cats. 

She adores people big and small and is more than willing to engage in puppy games with all. 

Gloree is already spayed, up to date on all vaccinations, and current on preventatives.

What would make this baby girl extra happy? You would! Her heaven on earth will be to live the rest of her life with people who will forever cherish, love, and adore her as a permanent member of the family.


Best Friends For Life is a privately run, 501 c3 non profit organization, privately funded NO KILL dog rescue. They operate on a strictly volunteer basis out of foster homes.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

"Look at That" (LAT) Game and Barking at Traffic

When I've learned about the "Look at That" (LAT) game, I immediately incorporated it into our training games with Cookie. It seemed like a great way to regain her attention as well as change the way she feels about things that bother her.

I used it to introduce her to her GPS collar, to ear cleaner and a number of other situations. We used it in her class. It worked wonderfully when she decided to get mad at plants moving in the breeze of a ceiling fan.

Now I am using it to desensitize her to traffic.

Up here, there isn't much of it but the house we're staying in is quite close to the road. Naturally, Cookie gets upset at the intruders, particularly because they don't stop to say hi.

At first, working at good distance, I started to utilize this game. When a vehicle is approaching, I ask her to "look at that", wait for her to look, then immediately say yes and produce a treat.

Using the LAT game on the deck to desensitize Cookie to traffic.
The deck is about 20 feet from the road. In other words, it's pretty darn close.

It's been working very well.

There are times now, when she notices traffic approaching, instead of having barking on her mind, she turns to me, looking for her treat. I can get her to do this successfully at a distance of about 20 feet or further. Given the fact that the opportunities to practice are scarce, I think we're progressing quite well.

The needed distance also depends on the type of traffic. Regular cars, trucks and vans are much less of a problem than ATVs, fourwheelers, large trucks or more than one vehicle at the time.

The main thing is to remember to never get outside without treats in my pocket.

And understand the importance of a threshold. I'll write about that next Sunday.

The LAT game is an awesome tool to have under my belt. 

I keep finding new ways of using that all the time.

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? 
Our Example Of The Use Of "Look At That" (LAT) 
Why Do Dogs Dig?
Who Is In The Wrong?
Your Dog Wants To Follow You. You Just Gotta Be Going Some Place
We Still Have Two Dogs: A "Pilot Study" Part Two  
Early Winter Safety: Exploring New Territories
Cookie Is Okay. We ... Might Be, Eventually. (Don't Try This At Home)
One Thing I Love About Winter: I See What They "See" 
Give Your Dog What They Need, Get What You Want
Cookie, The First Of The Great Hunting Rottweilers  
Distance Is a Relative Concept  
Dog Communication: Be Good to Cookie or She'll Tell on You
The Benefit of the Doubt  
Putting The Guilty Dog Look To Rest?
The Stench of Fear: Is There Good and Bad Timing for Vet Visits? 
I am a Helicopter Dog Mom
Routines: Easy Come, Hard to Go
Mosquito Apocalypse 
Things Always Change: Cookie's Hunting Adventures 
The Advantage of Your Dog Not Barking All the Time: Cookie Saves Horses' Asses 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Were You Smarter than a Vet Student, Health Insurance, Dog Advocacy and more ...

Is pet insurance broken? Does it need to be reinvented in some way?

Pet health insurance, should be a no-brainer, shouldn't it? But how well does it work? When we got Jasmine, we were considering whether we should get one for her or not. We talked to the vet, we researched online. A lot of people still recommend a dedicated savings account instead.

Given all the information we gathered then, we figured that a dedicated savings account sounded good. Whatever we'd pay for the insurance, we put in the account instead. We saved up $5,000. We though we had plenty. Then Jasmine busted her knee ligament. Then she needed diagnostics, including exploratory surgery, and treatment for her IBD. Then her other knee went ...

From the time she was 5 years old, we spent about $75,000 on her veterinary care. The money we saved didn't take us very far, did it?

After all that, we decided that we have to have health insurance for our dogs. We insured JD and we insured Cookie immediately after we got her. We even passed on a dog we were going to adopt initially because she had too many preexisting problems. We just couldn't afford any medical expenses that wouldn't be covered.

We chose an insurance that covers everything other than preexisting conditions. Any health problem, any treatment available, with no limits per condition or per lifetime. It covers 90% of all procedures, minus deductible. That's the only way of doing it that makes sense to me. It doesn't cover routine procedures or consultation fees. There are plans that do that, but cover only up to 80% of the bill AND they can lower it further if you overclaim, whatever that means.

Jasmine's integrative vet had a dog whom the insurance cut off completely for overclaiming. A dog cannot control how sick they might get and what kind of care they're going to need.

Our premium is quite high and I can see it increase every year. Presently we're paying about $250 monthly premium for our two dogs. Is it eventually going to increase to the point we won't be able to afford it any longer? Still, though, I feel we got the best insurance for our guys we could.

Unfortunately, the insurance also doesn't cover the tax portion of the bill. With the tax being 13%, we don't actually get 90% of the bill but only 80%, don't we?

But still, I know that one big emergency can come to $10,000 or more. One busted knee will cost around $5,000 to fix and that's not including physical therapy. If our guys needed stem cell therapy, cancer therapy, even hyperbaric chamber therapy, they can get it. They are covered for acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy. The plan we chose still makes sense to me. But it hurts to pay for it.

On the other hand, I can understand the dilemma of the insurance companies, with the continuous advances in veterinary medicine. The fancier the treatments, the higher the cost.

Is there a way out of this where everybody can win? Check out Dr. Pete's thoughts.

How to be the best advocate for your dog or cat

What does it mean being your dog's advocate? Dogs cannot speak for themselves. They cannot decided when they want to see a vet, what treatment they'd prefer when ill. It is our job to do these things on their behalf.

I believe that being our dogs' best advocates involves the following things:
Yes, this involves more work on our part. We love our dogs and we want what's best for them. We want them to live long, full, happy lives. I think that the little bit of extra homework is well worth it.

Feeding Dogs with Diabetes

The main task in managing your diabetic dog is the control of blood sugar levels. These are affected by many things, including the amount and type of food, exercise, stress, hormonal fluctuations and more. A healthy body can adjust the amount of insulin that gets released into the blood to accommodate all these changes. With insulin injections, the amounts are not flexible. That's why a consistent routine is crucial.

Read Dr. Coates' recommendations.

Sweet Potatoes versus White Potatoes: What is the difference for your pet?

Potato is a potato, isn't it? Actually, not really. They look different, they taste different, clearly they are made of different nutrients. Botanically, sweet potatoes and white potatoes are completely different species.

Find out what are the differences and what does that mean for your dog's nutrition.

Were You Smarter Than a Vet Student About Canine Heatstroke?

Last week I introduced Dr. Kay's awesome series, Are You Smarter than a Vet Student? It was about heatstroke in dogs. Did you take the challenge? Find out how you did.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Veterinary Highlights: Innovative Prostate Cancer Treatment

"There is no single definitive treatment for dogs with adenocarcinoma of the prostate gland. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy may increase the survival time.

Due to the close association of the prostate gland with the urethra, removal of the prostate gland by surgery is difficult and mostly unrewarding. Postoperative complications are high and difficult to manage. An alternative solution to disorders of the prostate, castration, does not help with adenocarcinoma of the prostate, as this tumor does not respond well afterward."

Presently, there isn't much out there to successfully treat prostate cancer in dogs. Surgical solution isn't a good option, which leaves radiation and chemotherapy in attempt to increase survival time.

Dr. Bill Culp, VMD, DACVS, at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital is pioneering an innovative, minimally invasive treatment of prostate cancer in dogs.

Dr. Bill Culp with police dog Kopper, who has been successfully treated with the new procedure.
Photo: US Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Inspired by recent advances in human cancer treatment, this procedure is minimally invasive and involves blocking off the blood supply to the tumor. The size of the gland and the tumor decrease as the cells die from the lack of blood supply (and nutrients).

So far, six dogs received this treatment and the results are promising.

To me it sounds quite ingenious and I am excited to see where it goes.

This procedure should both increase quality of life as well as prolonged survival for dogs with prostate cancer.

Source article:
UC Davis Veterinarian Having Success with Innovative Prostate Cancer Treatment

Further reading:
Canine prostate cancer procedure shows promising results

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Pet PT Pit Stop: Prevention and Management of Hip Dysplasia in Puppies: Attention all Breeders!

by Susan E. Davis, PT “pull in for a helpful refuel!”  

It’s all about guiding and empowering you to help your dog avoid injury, provide practical solutions and achieve rapid restoration of health and function!   

Here’s an interesting fact: all (or nearly all) puppies are born with NORMAL HIPS. 

Radiographs taken of their hips appear normal for the first few weeks of life.

Puppies with hip dysplasia will start showing changes in the shape and congruity of the hip joint as early as 2 weeks of age.

From 2 to 5 months further changes are seen, including more luxation, roughening of the top rim of the socket and flattening of the ball (femoral head).

Beginning about 4 months, puppies with hip dysplasia begin to show the first outward signs of hip dysplasia.

Samples of these signs include:
  • stiffness rising from the floor
  • lameness with running, jumping, going up/down stairs
  • reduced muscle development in the hips and thighs
  • bunny-hopping pattern of running.  
Regular walking will still usually look normal at this stage.

By the time a puppy with hip dysplasia reaches 11-12 months of age, they start to display forward weight shifting, to take weight off their hind limbs.  

The hind limbs may be held narrowly together and the pelvis waddles from side to side during gait. The young dog may appear hesitant to run, slow to stand, and painful when attempts are made to pull the hips backward, into extension. The gait pattern shows short, choppy stride lengths.

It all sounds pretty depressing, right?  But wait, didn’t we say above that pups start out with normal hips?

Doesn’t that mean that there might be a chance in the very early stages of life to make a positive change?

Here’s what Piermattei, Flo and Decamp say in their 2006 publication:  “The disease CHD (Canine Hip Dysplasia) is preventable if hip congruity is maintained until ossification makes the acetabulum less plastic and the surrounding soft tissues become sufficiently strong to prevent femoral head subluxation. Under normal circumstances, tissue strength and ossification progress sufficiently to prevent the disease by 6 months of age”.

Whoa, in other words, you have time to do something to help prevent CHD before the growth plates start to close and bone maturation occurs.  

This concept was not on the forefront of veterinary medicine until very recently.

I took a course this past spring at STAAR (Symposium of Therapeutic Advances in Animal Rehabilitation) taught by superstar canine physical therapist  Laurie Edge-Hughes, who broke it down for us.  Super cool information!

As recent as 2012, Krontveit et al found a reduced rate of CHD in puppies allowed to have daily walks and exercise on soft ground and moderately rough terrain. 

Puppies born on a farm and those with off-leash exercise outdoors, between birth and 3 months, had less CHD. But they also found puppies allowed to walk on stairs 0-3 months had an increased risk of developing CHD.

In 2013, Green et al found that longer daily exercise duration is associated with lower lameness scores in dogs with CHD.

I can hardly contain myself!

Here’s one more:  Smith et al, in 2006 found that limiting a dog’s diet yielded radiographic signs of hip arthritis that came on much later in life ( 12 vs 6 years of age) affecting far fewer of the littermates, as compared to dogs fed ‘at liberty’.

Back to the conference: at this point Ms. Edge-Hughes separated us into small groups and gave us the task of making a list of things breeders and puppy owners (especially during the 2-5 month period) can do to help prevent or reduce CHD, based on these findings.

Here are our top ten recommendations:

Diet and weight management
I will not pretend to be an expert in this area! You already know by past lessons that Jana Rade shared with us about looking at your dog’s waistline and feeling the ribs to determine if they are overweight, etc. If they are overweight, adjust their food intake and increase exercise and activity to reach ideal body condition. Your vet can help determine weight range.

There is a formula to help determine daily calorie intake to maintain ideal weight: start with the ideal/target weight your dog has attained in kg (divide pounds by 2.2). Next multiply this weight times 30. Add 70 to this value and you will have you will have the number of kcal per day needed to maintain weight. Your dog food manufacturer can tell you the number of kcal per serving measurement.   

Restrict access to stairs
Puppies clumsily climbing and slipping up and down stairs may look cute, but it is risky business!

Keep pups off stairs and carry them up/down stairs and steps for the first 3 months of life.  At four months, they can start to be trained to climb steps and staircases only if carpeted or have non-slip tread runners or pads. Use a leash with the training initially.

Coordination and body awareness
Get early starts by having puppies experiencing physical challenges and activity that help the firing of joint sensory receptors such as walking on packed or wet sand, moving around obstacles such as chair legs, vertical cones, and cardboard boxes; climbing over low soft objects such as sandbags, pillows, beanbags. Stimulate their balance by standing atop an uneven surface like a rocker board (non-skid on top).

Include joint stimulation and compression exercises
Have the puppy standing on a rubber or yoga mat, and gently bounce them on it, pushing lightly down and up on their shoulders and hips. Gently roll them from side to side, and onto their back and play a game of ‘push-a ways,’ by placing your palms against their paw pads, pressing their legs toward their belly in a bent position, and the puppy will respond by pushing their limbs against you. Another method is moving their limbs in a reciprocal ‘bicycling ‘motion with the pup on their back or side.

Strengthen specific muscle groups such as the gluteals (‘butt muscles”)
Stand the puppy with one side to a wall, then lift their outer rear leg and hold it up 1-2 seconds.  Repeat 4 times, and then place the pup with their other side against the wall, etc.

You can also add backward stepping by placing a small treat under the dog’s chin and moving toward them, forcing them to look down and step backwards. Strengthen further by doing ‘sit to stand’ exercises (and can advance this by placing the front paws up on a small box or stool). Core strengthening is also helpful.

During the puppy’s first few weeks of life, allow them to move in a non- slippery, indoor mini-arena with side walls and rubberized floor.

Once a pup is weaned, allow supervised activity and exercise on level non-skid terrain
Let puppies have access to free-range play, walking and movement on grass, sand, packed dirt or straw/hay.  Avoid wet grass, mud, rocks or any slippery uneven surface.

Elongated Stretch on a step or on the stairs
Place the dog with the rear legs on floor or lowest step, and the front paws on a riser few steps above, so the spine and hind limbs are elongated. Keep them there for a minute, coaxing them to look up for a treat or pat on the top of their head. Do this daily if possible.

Perform circular, flat- hand massage over the hips and pelvis, 5 minutes each side, three to four times per week.

What about swimming?
Swimming is not recommended for puppies as the buoyancy will not provide needed stimulation on the joints.  However, for older dogs with advanced CHD and degenerative arthritis, it is highly beneficial.


Susan E. Davis (Sue) is a licensed Physical Therapist with over 30 years of practice in the human field, who transitioned into the animal world after taking courses at the UT Canine Rehabilitation program.  She is located in Red Bank, New Jersey.

She has been providing PT services to dogs and other animals through her entity Joycare Onsite, LLC in pet’s homes and in vet clinics since 2008.

She also provides pro bono services at the Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown, NJ.  Sue is the proud “dog mommy” to Penelope, a miniature Dachshund with “attitude”.  For more information see her website , or follow on Twitter @animalPTsue.

Sue is also the author of a fantastic book on physical therapy, Physical Therapy And Rehabilitation For Animals: A Guide For The Consumer.  

Physical therapy can do so many great things for your dog. Understanding all the possibilities physical therapy can offer will change your dog's life. This book definitely belongs on the shelf of every dog lover.

Articles by Susan E. Davis:
Functional Strengthening Exercises: the What, Why and How
One Thing Leads To Another: Why The Second ACL Often Goes Too
Compensation: An Attempt To Restore Harmony
Paring Down to the Canine Core
Canine Massage: Every Dog ‘Kneads’ It”
Photon Power: Can Laser Therapy Help Your Dog?  
Physical Therapy in the Veterinary World  
Reiki: Is it real? 
Dog Lessons: Cooper  
The Essentials Of Canine Injury Prevention: 7 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safer 
It's Not Just Walking, It's Therapy! 
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part I)
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part II Physical Therapy)
Range Of Motion: It’s A Matter Of Degree…
The Weight Of Water And How It Helps Dogs 
By Land or By Sea? A Comparison of Canine Treadmills 
Unraveling The Mystery Of Fascia And Myofascial Trigger Points (Part I)
Unraveling The Mystery Of Fascia And Myofascial Trigger Points (Part II) 
Scar Tissue: Is it Too Much of a Good Thing? 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Ramps! 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Indoor Duo Dog Exercises!
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Best Practices After Your Dog’s Surgery 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Ideas to Chew on - Can Physical Therapy Help with my Dog’s Digestive Problems?
Wrap It Up: Using Soft Supports For Your Dog
When Do I Use Heat versus Cold? : A Tale (or Tail) Of Two Temps! (Part I) 
When Do I Use Heat versus Cold? : A Tale (or Tail) Of Two Temps! (Part II) 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Safe Summer Boating Tips for your Dog 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Hip Dysplasia - What’s a Dawg Mama to Do?
PT Pit Stop: Wheeled Carts Keep Them Doggies Rollin' (Part I)
PT Pit Stop: Wheeled Carts Keep Them Doggies Rollin' (Part II)
Staying in the Loop with Targeted Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy
Addressing Frailty Syndrome in Geriatric Dogs 
The Pet PT Pit Stop: "Where's The Evidence?"
Physical Therapy is Great, Except When It Isn’t 
Top Dogs and their Toplines at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (Part I)
Top Dogs and their Toplines at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (Part II) 
What's in a Dog's Gait? 
A Practical Method to manage your Dog’s Care Plan 
Wound Care 101 (Part I The Basics) 
Wound Care 101 (Part II Wound Management) 

Related articles:
Hip Dysplasia Prevention And Treatment Options
Hip Dysplasia - What’s a Dawg Mama to Do? 
Ruby's Journey with Hip Dysplasia
JD's Leg Injury And Hip Dysplasia

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Mouser Apprentice

JD was never interested in chasing mice.
But now, having Cookie around, he wants to hunt them too.
Not that he ever caught one ... but I'm sure with time he will.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jasmine's IBD: Abdominal Mass (Part III)

Continued from part II

Over time we adjusted and learned to live with Jasmine's belly upsets, fussiness about food and stool problems. What other choice did we have?

If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, things would had been different.

But back then, since all the visits to a number of different vets didn't bring any solution, we thought that things were the way they were.

It wasn't until we were dealing with a different issue all together when we finally got some answers.

That summer Jasmine injured her hind leg. Again.

It looked the same as the three times before, so we figured that it would go away with restricted exercise as it did in the past.

When we took her to a vet, were always told it was some type of soft tissue injury.

It always did take quite a long time to resolve. But I couldn't bring myself to patiently waiting again. Jasmine still liked her walks, but if she had a choice she’d rather rest instead. That wasn’t like her. Even though we didn't expect a different answer, I insisted that we take her to the vet anyway.

She was diagnosed with a torn cruciate ligament.

We saw an orthopedic specialist who confirmed the diagnosis and TPLO surgery recommended.

I researched the subject until I was blue in a face. Our feeling was that we'd prefer a non-surgical solution if possible. We weighed a lot of options from braces to prolotherapy. When I learned about stem cell therapy, I was sold. Jasmine's vet at the time never heard of it and wasn't eager to learn about it either. We went searching for a vet certified in the procedure to discuss this option.

That's how we found Jasmine's new vet.

He was on board with the idea. He examined Jasmine and wanted to have additional x-rays. He wanted to see her shoulders and hips too. We agreed that he'd take as many additional x-rays as he felt were needed.

While he was doing that, he decided to take advantage of Jasmine being under and do an even more thorough physical exam.

We got a call from his office that he wanted to take more x-rays than originally agreed on.

He wanted to take x-rays of her abdomen. He had felt a mass.

Abdominal mass?! Our hearts sank.

The abdominal x-rays confirmed his suspicion. There was definitely something there showing up as a mass.

We had a long talk with him in his office. Whatever it was, perhaps we caught it early. He suggested blood tests to see where to go from there.

The blood looked good.

He suggested an exploratory surgery as the next step. Take a look what it was in there and take it out if possible. We agreed to do that.

When he opened Jasmine up, there didn't seem to be any tumor but something infiltrating the tissue of the stomach and small intestine. There was enough infiltration that it felt a looked like a mass on the x-rays. He did a biopsy and sent it off to the lab.

We had to wait five days for the results.

If you ever waited for biopsy results, you know that the five days felt like years. We were in shambles. How could this be? What if it really is cancer? What should we do then?

Finally the results came back and it was not cancer!

Instead, it was white blood cells (eosinophils) infiltrating the tissues. Jasmine had Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Eosinophilic gastroenteritis to be more exact. Which was a result of Jasmine's long-term food allergies which never got diagnosed.

Finally we had an explanation to all her digestive problems.

And all it took was five and a half years of vet visits and a busted knee to get it.

Related articles:
Jasmine's IBD: Undiagnosed For Five Years (Part I)
Jasmine's IBD: Life with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Part II)

Why I Dislike Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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, I'll be happy to hear from you!
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