Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Salty Paws

          Winter is just about here, and for those of us in the northern half of the U.S. that means snow and sometimes a lot of it. I love the snow, my dogs, especially Frankie, love the snow. It is a great time for all. we go out back and play. I toss snow balls and the lab tries to retrieve them, and the husky usually busies herself by trying to burrow into the snow. If its deep she will often times disappear in one area and pop up in another, it is an amazing thing to watch. When the snow falls it is not all fun however.

          Usually people will shovel their walks and then throw down a layer of salt to keep ice from forming. I can't say I blame them, salt is cheap and very effective, but salt can do very bad things to your dogs paws. It is very corrosive and can lead to infections, also if there is salt on their paws, dogs will often lick their paws till it is clean. That may seem like a good thing but it is not. After a few days of walking on salty side walks and liking their paws clean salt can start to build up in a dogs system, it can lead to low blood pressure, muscle weakness, cramping, and all kinds of stuff that is just down right nasty.

          Thankfully it is not to hard to keep all the bad things salty paws can cause from happening. It can be as simple as a damp cloth. If you walk your dog and it has been snowing, simply wipe your dogs paws thoroughly with a damp cloth. Some people will invest in little booties for their dogs. I tend to stick to the back yard or other snowy areas for my dogs. If there is snow, there is usually no salt. I will still wipe my dogs paws if I am coming from an area I am not sure of. Better safe than sorry.

          If you do come across an infection on the paws of your dog, don't hesitate to get them to the vet. Most likely they will need antibiotics to help fight off whatever infection there may be. Your vet will be able to provide the proper treatment for this. If you notice your dog having trouble sanding or sitting, or moving around, this may be a sign that they have ingested to much salt and you should get them to the vet immediately.

          Thanks for reading, I know this one was short, but I thought it important to write. A few minutes with a damp cloth wiping your dogs paws, after a good walk, can save a lot of pain for your dog. It will definitely keep your furry family members healthy and happy.

Nick C

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dog Food Is Not Always Good Food

          Let me first say I have never been one to spoil my dogs. In my opinion dogs that are spoiled are dogs that are in control, and it should be the other way around. You should be in control at all times. That said I, learned some valuable lessons about not only what dogs eat, but how they eat over the past week. Nicole, that would be my ever lovely and vivacious wife, and I decided to try to make our own dog food a few weeks ago. We did this primarily as research for an upcoming article on the topic of, you guessed it... how to make your own dog food. We did all the research and learned all the Do's and don'ts about what should go into home made dog food. Once we felt like we knew enough, we made the food. As to how we made the food... Keep checking in with us and you will get to read all about it soon.

          Once we completed the home made dog food, we tried it out on our dogs. Needless to say, Jasmine was a total pig about it, she scarfed down that food in a few seconds. Frankie loved the food and they both started doing the happy dance whenever meal time was near. We made enough food for about a week and near the end we started to transition them back to their regular dog food. We mixed in a little more of the old dog food with each meal and before long they were back on their old food. Frankie was fine with the change back, but then again Frankie is a scrapper. We rescued her off the streets of North Philly, she had been abused and was terribly malnourished when we got her. She survived by eating whatever she could find as a pup, until we got her at about 8 months old. So needless to say she has an iron clad gut. Jasmine on the other hand did not do so well, she began to have diarrhea badly, and she became noticeably sluggish. It got so bad that Nicole had to take a day from work to look after the poor thing.

          During her day off she decided to put them back on the home made dog food. She made up a big batch and fed Jasmine that day around noon. No transition time, no careful measurements, just BOOM here ya go... the home made stuff. She fed her another helping that evening, and to my complete surprise Jasmin had recovered, she was dancing around, no more diarrhea, no more whining in the middle of the night to go out. In 6 short hours she was seemingly cured. Now I can not say that it was the change of food that did it for sure, but I have a strong suspicion that it was. I was going to come home that day and we were going to get her to the vet, however, by the time I got home all was well.

          The more I look into this home made food the guiltier I feel for having fed her dry dog food all these years. Sure the nutrition is there in dry dog food, but only what is required. If you make the food yourself, I am sure you will find your dogs will become more active, and will be even more excited about meal time... If that is even possible. You will also endure that your dog will be getting a truly nutritious meal. It will be fresher and tastier, and you will have control over what is going into your dogs body, not some nameless company. I don't find anything wrong with big dog food companies, I just find I feel better when I make the food myself. I will never again have to worry about a dog food recall. Yes it is one more weekly chore I have to add to the long list of chores I already have to do, but it's one I don't mind doing.

          So a big thank you to Nicole for having the foresight to know that switching back to the home made dog food would make Jasmine all better. And as always remember to keep you furry family members healthy and happy. I know my lovely wife will be sure to keep our furry family members healthy and happy.
Nick C

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Obsessed Dog

          I debated whether or not to talk about this. I was unsure if the problem affected a lot of people. I looked into it and found I was not the only one with an obsessed dog. I know, I know, you are probably sitting there wondering how a dog can be obsessed. Let me first say that I am not one of those people who believe in doggie psycho therapy. Dogs live in the moment, and I have found that this trait makes it easy to help a dog with an obsession.

          So what exactly is a dog obsession. I never heard the term before I found my dog staring at a spot of light drooling and licking at the floor where the light was. I thought it was odd at first, so I called her and nothing seemed to break her concentration on this spot of light. I had to go over and physically remove her from the room where the light was, she spent the next 20 minutes whining and pacing. At this point I decided to do a little research. As it turns out, dogs can become fixated on certain things. Usually this is not a problem, however when the dog exhibits this behavior over and over and a habit forms it can be nerve wracking for the poor dog, and stress related conditions can start to occur.

          I was not sure how to treat my dog for this light fixation. I tried to keep her away from all the spots of light in the house, obviously this did not work, and it was exhausting. You would be surprised how quickly the sun moves across the sky! Every 15 minutes I was hiding a new spot of light, it was not only exhausting, but futile. I was not treating the problem. Whenever she saw light she got hyper anxious, it was sad to see. Dogs can fixate on just about anything, from spots of light to door knobs to tires, it can be anything really. After a lot of experimentation I found only one thing worked. It took a lot of time but ultimately she has stopped trying to kill little spots of light all over the house.

          If your dog is showing signs of obsession, you will need a lot of time and patience. I took my dog to a room that had plenty of light, the sun shining through the blinds provided plenty of light spots on the floor for her to kill. As we entered the room she ran right to a spot of light and began to bite at it. I let her do this for a few min, and I ignored her. I took a tennis ball and started to bounce it on the floor. She loves to chase this ball. It had no affect on her. So I started to bounce the ball off the wall, all the while ignoring her behavior around the light. After about 10 minutes of bouncing the ball around the room she took notice. She became confused... Chase the ball or kill the light. Eventually she chose the ball and I rewarded her with lots of hugs and rubs when she played with the ball and ignored her when she went to the light. I did this for about an hour a day for about a week with different stimulation, a tennis ball one day, doggie treats the next, a tug of war rope the next. After about a week she was more interested in playing and began ignoring the light. I did this all over the house and today, I am happy to say she can lay in the sun with out trying to kill the little spots of light on the floor.

          It is important to pay attention to your dogs behavior. If your dog is behaving out of the ordinary it could be a clue that something is wrong, and the sooner you know the sooner you can help. Thank you for reading, and remember to keep your furry family members healthy and happy.

Nick C