Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Death by Ticks: Julia's Story

This story takes place in Philippines. Life is different there. Don't be fast with judgement; it could happen here too.

It started with an owner asking for advice on removing ticks from her dog.

Apparently she's been trying for a while, testing various products and natural remedies. There was no photo of the dog but by the sound of it, there must have been quite a few ticks on the dog.

The best way to remove ticks is to actually manually get them off.

There are different ways of doing that; we like using the Tick Twister. (This is not a sponsored post, we truly love this tool which was originally recommended to us by our vet.)

There are bad ways of trying to remove ticks, such as burning them with a hot match or a cigarette or smothering them with stuff. Stressing the tick out only results in increasing of it regurgitating their pathogenic content.

Unfortunately, Julia was resisting any attempts to remove the ticks manually.

With the dog responding aggressively, the only solution I could recommend was taking her to a vet and having them removed under sedation. They needed to come off.

The owner tried some more stuff to get them to come off, including Frontline. The ticks remained on Julia and she started having loose stools. Then she stopped eating.

Finally, Julia was seen by a vet.

This was seven days after the original question was posted. Julia was full of infection, anemic and needing blood transfusion. Transfusion wasn't available and neither was the money to keep her hospitalized.

Julia passed the morning of the eighth day. Between the blood loss and the infection she had no more strength to fight.

I am not sharing this story for anybody to pass judgement.

I know what it's like to be broke. To have just enough money for bread and cream cheese to live on. Not to have any possessions to sell if money was needed.

Does it mean that poor people should have dogs? This question has been raised many times. Poor people might not have money but they still do have love to give. Life to a dog who otherwise might not have had one.

Should a poor person turn away from a homeless dog because they might not afford it when the dog gets sick?

Instead of judging, we should help. Help by education, help by lending a helping hand.

Meanwhile, for all of us, let's realize that ticks carry real danger.

A neighbor near by where we live now has seen a young moose die in his yard, covered with ticks. If there are enough of them, they are deadly.

And let's get our dogs used to handling, so if they get some they don't fight their removal. And let's all learn when we can try treating things at home and when veterinary intervention is needed.

Related articles:
Twist And Shout: No Dog Owner Should Be Without A Tick Twister
Lyme Is Lame (Pun Intended)
Gus' Missed Diagnosis
Lyme Disease: Treating Lab Results Versus Treating The Dog
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Clara's Story

Further reading:
10 Facts about Ticks
Does My Dog Have Ticks?
7 Facts About Deadly Tick-Borne Diseases
Tick-Borne Diseases and Your Pet

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, June 1, 2015

Adoption Monday: Mary Elizabeth, Black Labrador Retriever Mix, Southington, CT

Mary Elizabeth  just barely escaped with her life simply because she was dumped in an overcrowded southern shelter at a mere 7 weeks old and her time was up. Thankfully she was pulled into rescue and a foster home before meeting such a sad ending.

Mary Elizabeth was a shy quiet girl initially but within a couple of days she popped right out of her proverbial shell.

She learned a lot in just a few days before taking her magnificent journey up north in search of her happily ever after. She does well in her crate and was in the process of being house trained (she has already mastered the use of a doggy door).

While in foster she got to play in a swimming pool (a natural born swimmer!) and seemed to enjoy this new experience.

A sweet and affectionate girl, she did very well with big people and little kids, other dogs, and cats (well she was afraid of kitty so she's a scaredy pup). Mary E is just a baby so she has much to learn but she is smart and eager to please. We think she will be a very astute student who will get through her puppy training with flying colors and high honors.

Mary Elizabeth, like any other puppy, loves to run around and play and no doubt you can expect to go through all the typical puppy phases with her.

Mary Elizabeth is up to date on all of her vaccinations and current on all age appropriate preventatives. She will be available in just a couple of weeks after she is spayed.


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, May 31, 2015

I Am a Helicopter Dog Mom

"Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead." ~Wikipedia

I am a helicopter dog mom. I do hover overhead all the time. I am only happy when I can see what my dog is doing at all times.

I'm happiest when I'm close enough to be able to take photos of her adventures.

I don't necessarily intervene but I am not happy when I don't know exactly where my dog is and what they're doing.

There were conversations at the farm that got interrupted because Jasmine wandered around the house. I didn't have to follow her. She spent all weekends at the farm, was a smart girl and knew what she was doing. The odds of her getting herself into trouble were microscopic.

And yet, whoever I was having a conversation with had two choices. Either walk around the house with me or put the conversation on hold.

Yes, I do recognize it's obsessive.

Doesn't mean I can really help it. It's simple. When I can't see my dog, I suffer separation anxiety. Not because I fear they might not ever come back, but because I fear they might get in trouble and I wouldn't be there to save them.

I was so happy when I found out that helicopter parenting might be actually good for dogs!

What a relief.

With Cookie it's not that simple. I'm only happy when I can see her. But she needs to run through the bush, chasing things. I'd be happier if I had her literally glued to my hip. But her happiness wins. I let her run, explore the bush and chase stuff because it makes her happy.

Today she chased off some hawks that were hovering above her property. She gets very upset with them; probably because they are snatching her mice.

I wish I was an actual helicopter.

One of the little ones out there now, very fast and very agile. Then I could buzz over her head no matter where she goes.

Becoming a werewolf would be awesome too.

One of those that can change back and forth at will. Then I could run with her through the bush, help her chase things and protect her from any threat. Such as the black bear who's back snooping around. We've been seeing signs of his presence and the other day he just happened to be waltzing across the street when I came out on a deck.

Until then I just have to suck it up.

Such as when she's digging a tunnel in a groundhog pile. What if the thing collapsed on her? What if the groundhog bit her? What if she tripped over one of the logs?

My mom had a mother like that; wasn't allowed to go anywhere, do anything. I am not going to do that to Cookie. Much.

"Kids have to play," our granny used to say. We loved her for it. She understood that it means that we'll get dirty, break something every now and then, or might get hurt. 

Meanwhile, I'm just happy that my neuroticism is actually, scientifically, good for her. 

Though I bet she would disagree if I wasn't biting my lip much of the time.

Fortunately, other than requiring an outlet for her wild side, she actually enjoys all the attention and care. So at least I get to make up for the horror of letting her run free, out of sight, after we come back home. Everybody is happy then.

I guess life is all about finding the balance between what we want, and what the others want.

Are you a helicopter pet parent? Do you allow your dogs do things outside your comfort zone?

Source article:
Helicopter Parenting Might Be Good for Pets

Further reading:
Helicopter parenting better for pets than for kids

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? 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Diabetic Emergencies, Chronic Kidney Disease and more ...

Preventing and Handling Diabetic Emergencies

Just recently there was a post on the Dog Health Issues group from a concerned owner who's do was just recently diagnosed with diabetes and they were still figuring out the care and ironing out the kinks. They could smell ketones in the dog's breath and the vet was closed.
With a diabetic dog, monitoring and management are the key to dog's longevity and quality of life. While the whole proposition is quite scary, the management is relatively simple once you get it all figured out.

The most critical complication to watch for is hypoglycemia. Other diabetic emergencies, that can indicate an impending emergency include appetite changes, vomiting or diarrhea, straining to urinate or blood in urine or ketones detected during testing.

Is Peanut Butter Safe For Dogs? Please Beware – Some Could Be Deadly!

I like to give a bit of peanut butter to our guys from time to time and they love. While high in calories, you figure it's a yummy, nutritious snack. But one cannot let their guard down for a moment these days. A new line of nut butters was introduced to the market that now uses the artificial sweetener, xylitol, on their products.

Xylitol is making it to all kinds of products where you wouldn't look for it. I have already became quite paranoid, studying the labels of every little thing. Yet, I admit I had to go and double-check the peanut butter I got for my dogs.

The best rule is to read a label on EVERY product you are about to give your dog, no matter how unreadable and small the type. (I actually have a magnifying glass specifically for that reason, because often the text is impossible to read.)

If you can't find the information on the label, look for it on the internet. If you cannot find it anywhere, just don't use the product. Be safe.

Chronic Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats

Finding out that your dog has kidney disease is very scary. I'm sure there would be a million questions on your mind. It is, however a common health problem of older dogs. It is progressive and cannot be cured but there are options for slowing the progression.

Understanding the situation, what the treatment options are and what is the prognosis is always important with any disease.

Preventing Overvaccination

Vaccinating is important. But how much vaccination do our dogs need and how often? And why does it matter?

Watch Dr. Patrick Mahaney's interview on the subject.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Veterinary Highlights: Does Prozac Make Anxious Dogs FEEL Better?

I've read a number of articles on the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in veterinary medicine. There is even research into using them as part of pain management but there doesn't seem to be much evidence of their benefit on that.

There does seem to be evidence, though, that dogs suffering from separation anxiety become more optimistic when on veterinary version of Prozac.

So many dogs suffer from separation anxiety these days and I cannot say I blame them. Some of them are being treated with medication. But what does it really do for them?

Until now it wasn't clear whether this treatment, when used together with behavior modification, actually improves the underlying emotion or simply inhibits the resulting behavior. Researchers at the University of Lincoln, UK, were evaluating whether the treatment can actually change the emotions.

As it seems, it actually does make the dogs FEEL better.

Which is awesome. Because if you can change the emotion, behavior changes along with it. Otherwise it wouldn't really much different from simply keeping the anxious dog sedated.

I wouldn't want my dog feel just as miserable, just not trying to do anything about it.

If the emotion becomes more positive, though, any behavior modification can be much more successful.

Suffering from anxiety problems myself, I know that when your anxious, stressed or upset, you can't really think straight and any perceived threats become blown out of proportion. The emotion overrides any rational thought. 

Knowing that SSRIs might actually change the emotion is an important finding.

Source article:
Pets on Prozac: Drug treatment can help anxious dogs

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Excessive Licking

Cats lick themselves all the time; they are big on self-grooming. It's when they stop that you need to worry.

Dogs, though, are not like that. They are mostly happy with their bodies just the way they are.

It's about paying attention.

Every time Jasmine started licking herself, I'd go looking for a problem. When she started licking around her tail, she had a skin infection starting. Caught early enough we could often tackle it with medicated baths. Only couple of times it got bad in a hurry and needed veterinary attention.

Once, her licking the area around her tail, together with a suspicious smell, alerted me to the start of an anal gland infection.

Every time it meant something was going on.

When she licked her foot a lot, an infection was starting there. That happened frequently enough that when I heard more than a couple of licks, I'd grab my flashlight and go searching.

Cookie is the same way. Normally, we hardly ever see her licking herself, but when she does, it’s typically a boo-boo she acquired running through the bushes and brambles. A bit of betadine is usually all it needs.

What would happen if I left it unchecked, though?

Perhaps not much, Cookie is a healthy young girl, but it could lead to a nasty infection, hot spot or eventually a lick granuloma.

When my dog is doing something they don't normally do, I want to know why.

Sometimes it is easy to get to the bottom of it, sometimes it's not.

Yes, Jasmine was licking because of an infection, but what caused the infection? Skin infections in dogs almost always develop secondary to something else.

Jasmine was hypothyroid but her levels were well-managed, at least according to her blood tests. She did test positive for allergies to all kinds of things so it was assumed that allergies were at the root of the problem, as they often are. But none of this was really adding up to me because Jasmine was not an itchy dog.
It was not that she kept fussing with an area and eventually an infection would show up as a result. She was fussing with the area because the infection was already there.

You can see clear evidence of licking. We were looking and looking and couldn't see anything.
It wasn't until after I took the photo and noticed the red spot on the picture. Then we found it.

Being diligent, we kept things mostly well under control.

There were times, though, particularly during her episodes, when she would lick her front feet obsessively and there was nothing visible wrong with them. No wounds, no infections, no nothing.

She did have some arthritis and anatomical abnormalities in her neck, though. The best theory we came up with was that her episodes and licking her front feet as if her life depended on it were related to that.

One thing is for sure. She never licked herself for no reason.

It was Cookie's licking of her vulva that first alerted me to her dribbling problem. As she could feel the urine dribble, she was trying to clean it up. I couldn't see anything wrong with the foot but with thorough observation I discovered what was going on.

The cause might not be always obvious.

Yes, sometimes licking can be a behavioral issue or even a type of seizure disorder. But I believe that more often than not a physiological reason can be found. The first step in diagnosing and treating excessive licking always needs to be a thorough health work-up.

Allergies are a common cause.

Fleas, wounds, insect bites, and foreign bodies are right up there as well, with infections close on their tail. But remember, infections are rarely the primary cause.

If a part of the body hurts, such as from arthritis, your dog might lick that area as well. Or there can be a neurological cause, as there was in Jasmine’s case.

What if your dog excessively licks things other than themselves?

Just recently there was a study that tied excessive licking of surfaces to issues with the digestive tract, including giardiasis, chronic pancreatitis and other conditions.

Dr. Sue Ettinger started an awesome cancer awareness campaign, "See Something, Do Something Cancer."

I believe this rule applies to anything out of the ordinary you notice about your dog.

Excessive licking not only reflects the level of your dog's discomfort, it can also cause additional problems from secondary infections to lick granulomas.

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  
Lumps and Bumps
What Is That Limp? 
Nose Bleeds (Epistaxis)
Unexplained Weight Loss
Unexplained Weight Gain  
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

Veterinary Highlights: Excessive Licking Of Surfaces
If You Don't Know What A Lick Granuloma Is, Count Your Blessings!
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