Sunday, April 19, 2015

Stopping Play on Cue

Always having one dog older than the other, being able to put an end to too much play without hurting anybody's feelings was always important to us. Being able to get the dogs stop playing while not discouraging them from play in the future or making them feel they're in trouble is important.

We typically use redirection. I love Donna's technique, though.


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.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: More on Influenza Outbreak, Gastrointestinal Biopsies, and more ...

New canine influenza strain affecting Chicago outbreak

As if a flu outbreak wasn't bad enough, it is one with a new virus, not identified in North America until now.  Apparently introduced from Asia. Makes me feel lucky that we live virtually in the middle of nowhere, though there are other challenges that come with that.

If your dog is showing any signs of coughing, retching, increased respiratory rate, etc., please seek veterinary attention immediately. did Asian H3N2 canine flu get here?

Since this flu doesn't affect humans, one can only figure it was brought in with an infected dog. It is impossible to confirm but how else would it get here?

I think that dogs from meat farms certainly need rescuing. But perhaps better regulations are needed or offshore resources established ... ?

Gastrointestinal Biopsies – Big Bite Or Little Bite?

There are some gastrointestinal diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which can be conclusively diagnosed only by doing a biopsy. Anything shorter of that is just guessing. Jasmine's IBD was diagnosed this way. Back in that day, Jasmine had an exploratory surgery and the biopsy was done that way.

Endoscopic biopsies are available these days, which are much less invasive. While you wouldn't think so, each method has its advantages and disadvantages.

Decubitus Ulcer, Pressure Sores/Bed Sores in Dogs. How you can treat and cure this in your home 

After a week of being virtually immobile after her hyperthermia horror, Jasmine came home from the hospital with two pressure sores. Seeing those made the whole thing ever more sad than it already was. The bottom of the ICU cages were a metal wire frame type of thing. I could just imagine poor Jasmine having to lay on that until somebody came to turn her around.

Fortunately, once she came home and was able to rest on her ever-favorite water bed, and started being able to get around some, the sores resolved quickly.

Find our how Dr. Krista's patient's sore was treated.

Laser therapy is great for sores.

Top Ways to Prevent your Dog from Developing Arthritis- Part 1 Healthy Weight Maintenance

Last week hubby was visiting his kids while down for a conference. All of the dogs packed on a bunch of extra pounds. It makes me sad. If there is a number one thing you can do to give your dog healthier, happier and longer life, it is keeping them at ideal weight.

There are so many ways obesity is involved in disease, it is not just a mechanical issue of carrying extra weight around. If you want to do something awesome for your dog, keep them thin.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Veterinary Highlights: Canine Influenza Outbreak

Chicago area dogs are under a siege of an influenza outbreak. More than a thousand dogs got sick.

As it turns out, it is a different strain than originally assumed.

This strain (H3N2) was never detected in North America until before and it seems to have originated in Asia.

It is not yet known whether currently available vaccine provides any protection from this new virus.

That is a scary proposition. The virus being new here, our dogs' immune systems are not likely set to deal with it. And the vaccine either.

Source article:
Midwest Canine Influenza outbreak caused by new strain of virus

Further reading:
Chicago canine flu strain shocker did Asian H3N2 canine flu get here?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Shaking/Trembling

I was not going to write about this. I figured it was obvious and didn't think that shaking or trembling would need to be pointed out as a potentially serious symptom. But on my Facebook group I come across enough posts where either dog owners or even vets didn’t seem to find it worrisome enough, even when other symptoms were present.

It's true that many small breed dogs shake at the drop of a hat.

Daughter's Chi shakes even when she gets excited to see somebody. She'll shake when she's anxious or scared, or when she's cold (and she does get cold easily).

Make no mistake, being too cold can be just as dangerous as being too hot.

To complicate things further, when a dog gets very cold, the shaking eventually stops. But that’s not a good thing. It’s a sign that the dog’s normal warming mechanisms are shutting down.

If your dog has been out in wet, cold, and/or windy conditions and becomes lethargic, unresponsive, stiff, and/or uncoordinated, they  are in trouble and need to get someplace warm and receive medical attention right away.

If you're outside with your dog on a cold day, do watch them carefully. 

How much cold a dog can tolerate depends on their size, breed, coat, age, health, what they're used to, and even individual constitution. JD has less tolerance to cold than Cookie does even though he's bigger. He even has less cold tolerance than Jasmine did and she was quite a bit older. So even though they are the same breed, about the same size and both have had the same opportunity to adjust to weather changes, we have to make allowances for the difference.

One thing to remember is that when it's damp, raining and windy it doesn't even have to be that cold for your dog to develop hypothermia.
With small or anxious  dogs, things get trickier.

Since some small dogs seem to shake for any ol' reason, how can you tell when to worry?

Personally, unless my dog was shaking from excitement or anticipation, I'd worry. Even though anxiety or fear is not likely to kill your dog on the spot, ongoing or frequent stress will have a negative impact on their health. Plus I simply wouldn't want my dog in situations that stress them out that much.

Furthermore, small dogs (especially small breed puppies) are more prone to hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar. Lethargy and uncontrollable shaking are the signs to watch for. Untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to seizures and even death.

To me, shaking or trembling is a sign of high distress.

Shaking or trembling can also be a sign of pain, injury, poisoning, kidney disease ... almost anything that makes a dog feel bad. Particularly when other symptoms are present, do not wait to see a vet. Breaks my heart to read online questions such as, "my dog has been vomiting all day, has diarrhea and it's trembling, what can I do to help him at home?"

Breaks my heart even more when somebody's dog "has been really quiet and weird, trembles and shakes, not eating and barely drinking, barely active, hiding ...took him to the vet twice this week ... vet told me to monitor him since it doesn't seem like an emergency since he's not vomiting or having diarrhea."

If my dog was shaking or trembling, with or without any other worrisome symptoms, I'd want a definite answer and a plan to help them.

Unless they were just that excited to see me. Any reason other than that calls for an intervention to make them feel better.

Some scary reasons behind shaking/trembling?
  • pain
  • hypoglycemia
  • poisoning
  • kidney failure
  • inflammatory brain diseases or seizure disorders
  • Addisonian crisis
  • Distemper
  • neurologic disorder
  • neuromuscular diseases (e.g. myasthenia gravis)
  • liver disease leading to hepatic encephalopathy

If your dog was shaking/trembling, what would you assume? What would you do?

Further reading:
Dog Shivering and Trembling: Causes and Treatments
Why Is My Dog Shaking?

Related articles:
Veterinarians Answer: 10 Main Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog 
Symptoms: Recognition, Acknowledgement And Denial 
When Is It An Emergency? 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is   

Excessive Panting
Excessive Drinking 
Changes in Urination/Urinary Accidents 
Changes in Behavior
Bad Odor 
Excessive Drooling  
What Can Your Dog's Gums And Tongue Tell You? 
Excessive Head Shaking  
What Is That Limp? 
Nose Bleeds (Epistaxis)
Unexplained Weight Loss
Loss Of Appetite  
Fever (Pyrexia)
What Happens in a Dog's Body with Severe Vomiting?
Gastroenteritis is when ...  

Whats In The Urine? (Part I: What You Can Notice On Your Own)
What's In The Urine? (Part II: Urinalysis)
A Tale of Many Tails—and What Came Out From Underneath Stories from My Diary-rrhea (part I)
Acute Small Intestinal Diarrhea
Acute Large Intestinal Diarrhea (Acute Colitis)
Chronic Large Intestinal Diarrhea
Chronic Small Intestinal Diarrhea

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Addison's Disease Awareness: Gracie Lou Clough's Story

by Bobbi Borst Clough

Gracie is a 10 year old 134 lb English Mastiff. Gracie was abused until she was 6 months old. She then went to a loving family. Unfortunately, that life ended all to soon with the tragic accident. The husband and the child of her family were killed in an automobile accident. Gracie comforted the mother for the next 6 months. The mother then had to move and could not take Gracie with her. This pained her so much. She looked into a rescue group. 

The foster mom promised her that she would wait for the perfect family to adopt Gracie. Gracie stayed in foster for much longer than normal. 

I had a mastiff who was diagnosed with Addison's at 7 months old. 

She was the runt of her litter and was on death's door when I rescued her. Once we found out she had Addison's, she lived to 4 ½ years old. Her kidneys, which were never formed correctly finally gave out on her. 

She was my first mastiff and I fell in love with the breed despite the issues she had. I decided that I needed to rescue another one. 

Gracie Lou Clough

I found Gracie on the website of the rescue group I had started helping with. 

I was just drawn to her and her story. I talked to her foster mom for hours about her. We both knew that she was going to come to her forever home with me. She was several hours away so the foster mom and I met halfway. 

Right away Gracie came up to me and my daughter and she leaned on my leg and sat on my foot. The lean is everything for a mastiff. If they lean on you they like you. It was love at first sight for me and my kids. 

Fast forward to 7 months later, Gracie crashed and could not get up my stairs. 

My son carried her up and into the car and we rushed her to my wonderful vet. I will never forget that day. Gracie was on IV's and in a kennel with me sitting on the floor next to her. 

My vet walked in and sat on an empty kennel. 

He told me that he was going to do the test for Addison's or that she had some type of cancer. 

The next day all four of my vets came into the room and told me that she indeed did have Addison's. One of them said he stayed up half the night looking for mastiffs with AD and there just were not too many (at that time he could find none). 

They told me they were sorry that I now had my second Addisonian Mastiff. 

I told them I was happy that it was indeed Addison's. I already knew Addison's was managable and a dog could live a full and normal life with it. I even had some meds left over from my first girl. 

My first girl took .8 mg of florinef 2x's a day. We started Gracie on that dose and kept playing with it over the next year. She finally ended up on 1.5 mg Floinef 2x's per day. She has been on that dose for 7 years now. 

No one can tell me that this girl was not meant to come to live with me. Her foster mom had turned down other potential adopters because of the promise she made to Gracie's owner former owner to find the perfect family. 

When Gracie was 4 she somehow got out of my yard by going under my fence. I never thought a 134 pound dog would go under my fence but she did. She got hit by a car and Animal control had to get her by the pole neck chain because she was being aggressive. 

My neighbor saw animal control with her and told them that she lived with me. They knocked on my door on this Sunday. They had her good side facing me so I did not know she was hit. Then they turned her and she had a deep gash in her chest. My car was in the shop and I had no way to get her to the ER vet. Animal control drove me. 

I went running in the door screaming that she had Addison's. 

The vet on call was the husband of one of my vets that cared for Gracie. Gracie was on death's doors; she went gray and limp. They dosed her with high amounts of prednisone and put in a chest tube. She had air around her lungs. Since the ER vet could talk to my vets that night, the plan was to Gracie to my vet in the AM for surgery. 

The ER vet was not comfortable working on a dog with Addison's. 

The next day my wonderful, amazing vets waited until their lunch hour to do her surgery so all four of them could be in there and monitor her. Her sternum was broken and they could not do anything about that. They were able to close the wound and keep her safe. She recovered from that. 

I fixed all of my fencing however, from that day forward she is very scared of cars on the roads.

About a year after that, Gracie started to gain lots of weight. 

My wonderful vets (have I mentioned how much I love my vets) did a thyroid test and sure enough she had low thyroid. The weight came off as soon as she was put on meds and she was back to her happy healthy self. 

 In 2011, tragedy struck my household. My children's father was killed in a car accident. Gracie is the kind of dog who reads people so well. 

She comforted me and my children the same way she did with her first owner. 

Gracie continues to be by our side whenever we are feeling down. Once again, no one can tell me that this girl was not meant to be in our lives. 

About a year ago Gracie developed acute onset glaucoma and went blind in her left eye. 

My vets were able to shrink her eye so she would no longer be in pain. She could lose her other eye at any time but so far the drops I put in her good eye are working. 

Gracie also has chronic subcutaneous cysts all over her body. She has two that keep popping and becoming infected. She now takes antibiotics every 30 days for 10 days and that is working well. 

Because of her age and her Addison's, the vets and I have chosen not to remove the cysts. 

Through all of this, Gracie has always been a fighter and a champion. Nothing gets her down. My vets continue to be amazed by her. 

Gracie turned 10 on Feb. 5, 2015. 

No one thought she would live this long. She is still a happy girl, gets around great and is the love of my life. She is truly my heart dog. 

This is more than a story of a dog with Addison's; this is a story of a dog that was put on this earth to comfort her families though the good and the very bad times. 

Addison's is just one part of her story but it also shows that a dog with AD can live life to its fullest and get through the tough times also.


Do you have a dog diagnosed with Addison's? Is your dog unwell and nobody can figure out why?

Addison dogs Facebook support group is comprised of individuals from around the world who are striving toward healthy, active lives for their canine friend(s) with Addison’s disease. They seek to improve wellness for the whole dog—including body, mind and spirit.

Addison Dogs also works to educate and support the companion animal community about Addison’s disease in dogs. The goal is to foster open communication about the variety of options available to the caregiver of a dog with Addison's disease.

Related articles:
Addison's Disease Awareness: What's Wrong With Hannah? 

Further reading:
So Your Dog Has Addison's Disease
Addison's Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)

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!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Adoption Monday: Lasso, Labrador Retriever Mix, Southington, CT

What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I will throw a lasso around it and pull it down. (from It's A Wonderful Life)

Lasso may not be able to lasso the moon but he sure will lasso your heart. 

This super sweet boy has two favorite activities - playing and snuggling.

Lasso is a black lab mix just under a year old and full grown at 55 lbs. This baby is all about being happy, goofy, and lovable. Like most labs he loves being around his people and gets along great with other dogs.

Lasso never turns down belly rubs, treats or the opportunity to curl up next to his person on the couch. 

 He is pretty proud of the fact that he is house trained, neutered, up to date on all vaccinations, and current on all of his preventatives! All he really needs now is some lab loving people to rope him in and make him a permanent part of their 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.

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