Category Archives: dog

What to Do if Your Dog Has a Seizure

By Ruthie Bently

I began doing research into seizures after I knew Skye was coming to live with me. I looked into homeopathy, acupuncture, Reiki and other alternative therapies. I even contacted an animal communicator so I could ‘speak’ to Skye. I did everything I could think of to prepare for living with a “seizure” dog. I thought I was equipped to handle it if Skye had a seizure. But when it happened, even though her seizure was minor (compared to what I expected), it was still an emotional event because I felt powerless to help her.

As I explained in my article on canine epilepsy, when the electrical synapses of a brain misfire, it causes erratic un-coordinated nerve transmissions to the body’s muscles, which results in a seizure. A dog can have a seizure without having epilepsy though, and there are many things in our environment that can cause a seizure. While we understand the mechanics of a seizure, the brain is a complex organism which we do not fully understand. No matter how much information you read on the subject, remember every dog is different and so are their seizures. There are four kinds of seizures (petite mal, grand mal, status epilepticus, clusters) and their severity ranges from mild to life threatening. Seizures are categorized as either partial or generalized. The impulses of a partial seizure begin in a specific area of the brain, while the generalized seizure takes place all over at once.

The symptoms of a seizure are varied and many depending on the seizure. Some seizures begin with a loss of consciousness and all the dog’s muscles contracting. Your dog may begin drooling excessively. A dog’s facial muscles may begin twitching or they may begin vocalizing. There may be opening and closing of the jaws and a dog may look like they are running in place. During certain seizures some dogs are even conscious and aware of their surroundings. After the seizure, a dog may lie still for a short period. They will eventually get up but may show signs of post seizure behavior. These can include bumping into things, being disoriented, temporary blindness or loss of focus, and running or pacing around the house. They can be confused, may not recognize their owner and may even be afraid of them.

When your dog experiences a seizure, electrical and chemical changes occur in their brain; these result in behavioral changes in your dog. These are only temporary conditions and will go away with time. Every seizure affects a dog’s behavior and the more severe the seizure is, the more behavioral changes you will notice. Some are slight and go away quickly and some may take longer to recede. You need to have understanding and patience to help your dog get through this bewildering time. Stay calm while your dog is having the seizure, and don’t get in their way. Try to keep the area around them as clear as possible, so they don’t bump into something and injure themselves. Keep your hands away from their face and body; you may be injured due to their involuntary movements. After the seizure talk to your dog in a comforting voice and try to keep them calm.

If your dog has never had a seizure before, take them to the vet for an overall checkup. Having a blood panel done may be suggested. Contact your breeder to see if any littermates had or developed seizures issues. If your dog came from a shelter, ask if they noticed anything or can tell you about your dog’s background, as some breeds are predisposed to having seizure problems. Check out your home and your dog’s living environment (don’t rule out any changes you may have made) to find a reason for the seizure if the vet doesn’t have an answer. We use many products today, some of which can be seizure triggers for a dog. There are several good sources for seizure triggers on the internet; look them up and compare them to your situation.

It’s always a good idea to keep a medical journal for your dog, and can be especially helpful if your dog has seizures. You can record any seizures your dog has, the duration, symptoms and post recovery. Daily medications, including time of day and dosages given to your dog should be entered. You can also record vaccination records, preparations used for flea and tick removal, and details of all vet visits. If your dog has another seizure or continues to have seizures, you’ll have the information at your fingertips for the next time.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Why Do Dogs Mark Their Territory?

By Ruthie Bently

Both male and female dogs mark their territory to let other animals (including humans) know that this is their space and it should not be trespassed upon or there will be consequences. Male dogs and some females will lift their leg. The reason is to leave their scent highest on the place they are marking. I know a female that both lifts her leg and squats. She learned the leg lifting because she grew up with a male dog; he was her role model and lifted his leg, so she does too.

Have you ever wondered why so many male dogs show up when your female goes into season for the first time? A male dog can tell by the smell of a female’s urine that she is in season and ready to breed, and they’ll come from quite a distance. A dog’s scent is carried on the wind and a dog’s sense of smell is so good, their competitors whether domestic or wild, get the warning at a distance. Before we had a fenced place for my AmStaff Skye, I’d leash walk her around the property. I let her amble where she wanted and she always chose the perimeters of the property, stopping every so often to do her business. We had coyotes when we moved here and saw one loping across our meadow once. After Skye came to live here we never saw them again, but we could hear them howling at night from a distance.

Sometimes a male dog will mark inside the house if he feels his territory is threatened, and this can pertain to his owner as well. I had a female client (Ms. Smith) with an adult intact male Akita named Buck. Ms. Smith began dating after a divorce, and Buck had an issue with her male friend. The dog would go into the bathroom and mark the toilet after her boyfriend had used it. Ms. Smith tried closing the bathroom door, but Buck then marked the door. Neutering wasn’t an option since Buck was a show dog and you cannot show a neutered dog in confirmation. I suggested that her boyfriend bring some dog treats when he came over. I hoped that having him give Buck a treat when he walked in and during the visit might help the dog become more accepting and be less apt to mark the toilet or bathroom door. It worked so well that Ms. Smith and her boyfriend got married, and Buck was the ring bearer at their wedding.

If you have a dog that is going potty in an inappropriate place, they can be retrained to go outside. I had to retrain Skye when she came to live here because she was used to going potty in a concrete run. She got to go outside and play with the other dogs and occasionally went on the grass, but usually waited to go back to her kennel to potty. Until I retrained her, Skye would have accidents in the house even if I took her outside every half hour. I spoke with an animal behaviorist recently and she explained that Skye could not differentiate between the concrete run floor and the kitchen floor because they were both smooth, flat surfaces. It is important to train a dog to go outside because the surfaces outside are different than the floors of a house.

I was able to use dog treats as a reinforcement for good behavior. I discovered the best approach was to reward Skye when she pottied outside, making sure to do so before we went back in the house. Now, she even barks to let me know when she needs to go outside. Having Skye properly house-trained has stopped her from marking inside the house, and has certainly made life easier!

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

What is an Elizabethan Collar?

By Ruthie Bently

I have had several experiences with Elizabethan collars for animals (also known as a space collar, an E-collar or a cone). Some of my dogs were embarrassed to wear them, and others would do anything to get past them to what they wanted to chew or lick. Queen Elizabeth the First is credited with popularizing the Elizabethan collar for humans, which was made of lace and was a stiff ruff added to clothing to keep someone’s clothing from getting dirty around their neck.

However, this article is about the Elizabethan collar for pets, which was first patented by F.L. Johnson in 1962. I couldn’t find any other information about the person who invented this device, so I can’t tell you if they were a veterinarian or just someone who wanted to help their own animal. The original E-collar was made of a fairly rigid piece of plastic that was a conical shape. It fit around an animal’s neck and attached to their regular collar to help keep it in place.

E-Collars are still primarily made of plastic, although cloth ones are also available, and different styles exist. There is even an inflatable model now, which looks like a large doughnut that goes around the pet’s neck. While they look comfortable, I would not trust my dog with this type of E-collar; one well-placed grab with a tooth or toenail and it would be history (and believe me, Skye would be doing her best to puncture it).

The purpose of an Elizabethan collar is to prevent an animal from reaching a specific part of their own body to keep them from licking or chewing, either on a wound, sore (like a hot spot) or stitches after a surgical procedure. They are usually used on dogs and cats, but I have heard of instances of them being used on birds (for feather plucking) and on horses. The small end is put around the pet’s neck so their head is within the confines of the cone and the larger circle of the cone projects out from the dog’s body away from their neck.

The first time an owner sees an E-collar they usually have to stifle a laugh, because the vision of their pet walking around with a lampshade-shaped object around their neck can be quite humorous. Most pets adjust to the E-collar just fine after wearing them for a few minutes, though they usually need to have them removed so they can eat or drink water. Try to be sympathetic and not laugh if your pet bumps into a wall or doorways; the E-collar can restrict their peripheral vision and make it harder to move around the house until they get used to wearing it.

You can make your own version of an Elizabethan collar by using a plastic bucket or plastic flower pot. I even read an article that states you can make one from paper plates, but if you live with a serious chewer like I do, I wouldn’t advise that. To make your own E-collar, cut a hole just large enough for your pet’s head to go through in the bottom of whatever object you choose to use. You can use sandpaper to smooth the edge, and tape around the rim to prevent any excessive rubbing on your pet’s neck. To keep the E-Collar attached to your pet’s regular collar so it doesn’t come off, punch several holes around the rim of the hole you cut for your pet’s head and use a shoestring cut into several pieces to attach it to your pet’s collar.

Many people have a love-hate relationship with the Elizabethan collar, but by using one for your pet when you need to, you can eliminate the need for medicating your animal to keep it calmer. They may look funny, but E-collars greatly help to prevent the need for re-stitching a wound that has been opened by your pet’s excessive licking.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

What to Do if Your Dog is Bleeding

By Ruthie Bently

If you discover that your dog has an injury, try to stay as calm as you can. By staying calm you can keep your dog calm as well. They can sense your stress, and the most important thing is to keep them calm. The next thing to do is to determine where the blood is coming from. For example, a dog can cut their paw and it may bleed profusely, though it may not be a serious injury. Check them all over from nose to tail to find out where they are bleeding. By finding the source of the bleeding, you can determine how serious the wound is and proceed from there.

The color of the blood can help you determine if it comes from an artery or a vein. Venous blood will be a dark red color and may ooze from a wound, and arterial blood will be bright red because of its oxygen content. If there is a lot of blood and the wound has stopped bleeding and begun to clot, do not attempt to remove the clot, as this can make the wound begin to bleed again. Wrap the wound in a clean towel or several layers of gauze and tape the wound well but not too tightly, as this can cause swelling in the affected area. This is called a pressure bandage.

If the bleeding is severe and you can’t get the wound to stop bleeding or it is bleeding sluggishly, again apply a pressure bandage and get your dog to the vet or emergency clinic as soon as you can. This situation can be life threatening and time is of the essence. Another way to stop the bleeding is to use a tourniquet, but do not use this method unless advised by your veterinarian, because cutting off the blood flow completely can damage tissue in the surrounding area.

If it is a cut on your dog’s foot, it could be from a foreign object they stepped on outside. The capillaries in a dog’s foot are very close to the surface and they can bleed profusely even if the wound is minor. Carefully examine their foot to find the source of the bleeding. If you don’t see a foreign body lodged in their foot and the bleeding is minimal you can clean it with a mixture of 50% hydrogen peroxide and 50% water. If it is the webbed tissue between their pads, it may not stop on its own and may require stitches.

The most important things about a cut on your dog are to get the bleeding stopped and prevent infection. If the cut is a laceration of an inch or more and has any amount of depth to it, it may require stitches. Any cut may become infected, and you should contact your vet about using an antibiotic to keep infection at bay.

My AmStaff, Skye, had an accident that happened when she walked through a broken glass jar one of the cats had knocked off my kitchen shelf. She nicked her right leg, which required two stitches. Her left leg was a more serious injury. She cut the ulnar artery (one of the two in her leg) and cut through two tendons, and the blood was bright red. I don’t tell you this to scare you or gross you out; I just want you to be aware that no matter how careful you are in your own house, accidents can happen when you least expect them, and you need to be prepared.

Because of my quick action, the vet’s prognosis of her regaining the full use of her leg and foot are good. We have a first aid kit for our animals, as every responsible pet owner should. If you want to make one, read Linda Cole’s June article for a list of basic first aid supplies.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Trucking “Tails” From the Open Road

By Julia Williams

When Bill Taylor tells you that his German Shepherd dog, Hannah, goes everywhere with him, he isn’t exaggerating. That’s because Bill and his wife Robyn are long-haul truck drivers, and Hannah accompanies them on all of their cross-country travels. I recently had a chance to chat with Bill and Robyn (while they were on the road, naturally) and thought our readers might enjoy getting to know them too. Bill had many interesting stories to tell about Hannah, who he says enjoys the nomadic life very much. Hannah also loves meeting new people everywhere they go, and strangers (especially children) get a kick out of seeing a dog riding in the front seat of the truck cab.

Five-year-old Hannah was just eight weeks old when the Taylors added her to their family and began taking her on road trips. Although this inseparable trio is away from home for several months at a time now, they were doing local deliveries when they adopted Hannah, which made it easier to get her adjusted to life on the road. Still, Bill says Hannah did just fine from the start, and travels well. Even more impressive, Hannah has not had a single “accident” in the truck, unless you count the time she upchucked. Bill is quick to point out, however, that even this minor transgression was not on the carpeted section of their cab. Smart dog indeed!

Many people think of their pets as more human than cat or dog, and the Taylors would agree. “It wouldn’t surprise me if Hannah said ‘Hello’ sometime,” says Bill. Hannah knows many words, among them cookie, squirrel, food, leash, walk, rabbit and cow. It doesn’t take more than a minute or two of talking with Bill to see that he loves his dog very much, and that he and his wife both really enjoy having her with them on their trips.

It’s also quite clear that Hannah, whose nickname is “Pupkus,” rules the roost… or the cab, I should say. According to Bill, Hannah doesn’t have her own dog bed in the cab because she prefers to sleep on their bed. Moreover, she carves out her space on the bed first, and he and his wife squeeze into the space that’s left. Bill says Hannah likes to curl up on her blanket and snooze away while the miles tick by, but she’s more than happy to get out and get some exercise when they pull into a rest stop. After her walk, Hannah heads straight to the cupboard where her cookies are kept, and waits to receive her treat.

Like any canine, Hannah has her share of quirks that make her all the more endearing. For instance, Hannah won’t drink water out of a dog dish – instead, she prefers to drink the melted ice-water out of a cooler Bill and Robyn keep in the cab. They know when she’s thirsty, Bill says, because she scratches on the side of the cooler until they open it for her. Another of Hannah’s idiosyncrasies is the uncanny ability to smell cows well before she can see them. The Taylors always know when they are about to drive past a herd of cows, because Hanna sticks her nose into the truck’s vents.

Of course, life on the road with a canine companion is not without challenges. For one thing, Hannah sheds profusely. Or as Bill puts it, “We just about build a new dog every day with the amount of hair she sheds.” Another issue is the amount of dog food they need to carry with them. Hannah eats CANIDAE dog food (the grain-free kibble is her favorite) and as anyone who feeds this premium pet food knows, it’s not available at the local supermarket or pet superstore. This means that the Taylors always bring along a large supply of dog food – Bill jokes that “Hannah has more food in the truck than we do”—and they also know which feed stores and independent pet stores along their route carry CANIDAE pet food so they can buy more if need be. (If you need to find CANIDAE pet food while traveling, be sure to check out the easy-to-use CANIDAE Store Locator designed for mobile phones.)

But Bill says without a doubt the worst experience he and Robyn have endured thanks to Hannah was the time she got sprayed by a skunk at a rest stop. Hannah was on a 30-foot leash so she could run around and burn off some excess energy, when she encountered the skunk. Luckily, Bill called a trucker friend, who knew of a place down the road that had a pet wash facility located next to a truckstop. They were able to get the truck and the dog washed at the same time, and Bill says the place did such a good job of removing the skunk odor that they now make a point to stop there whenever it’s on their route. Still, Bill says “That was the longest hundred miles I have ever driven.” Knowing all too well how sickening the smell of skunk is, I can only imagine!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Are Prosthetics for Dogs a Good Idea?

By Ruthie Bently

Most of us have heard about or seen dogs with physical impairments. Some happen through accidents, some through a birth defect, and some happen as the dog ages. Some dogs do perfectly fine after the loss of a limb, while others need assistance of some kind. My first dog Nimber had an accident and lost his right front foot, but after he healed he never had a problem getting around. Some dogs even do well after losing two legs. But what about dogs that might need some help?

Did you know there are now companies that make prosthetics for dogs? I remember seeing carts in the 1970s that were made for pets who had lost the use of their back legs, and now there are companies that make prosthetics for dogs who have had other injuries. Several of them began making prosthetics for people and because of the owner’s love of animals either amended their business to include prosthetics for animals or changed their focus and began making prosthetics for animals exclusively.

A dog that may need a prosthesis is first evaluated to determine what kind of device is best. The dog is appraised using information about any deformity they may have, and the aspects specific to the injury if they received one. Their physical activities and living environment are also taken into consideration. After the evaluation, a cast is made of the part of the body the prosthesis will be used for. The time it takes to manufacture a prosthetic device is typically about five to ten business days. The time can vary depending on which joints of the dog’s body need to be considered, as well as the type of prosthetic and the chosen material it will be manufactured from. As each dog is different, so is the device made for them.

Prosthetics are not intended to be worn 24/7; the dog will need a break from time to time. Because of the materials they’re made from, a prosthetic device will not change its shape or break down over time. To ensure a good fit, the dog needs to use the prosthesis for several weeks. Owners need to watch the prominent bone involved and the dog’s hair and skin for any signs of wear, which will help to determine how well the prosthesis is fitting the dog. By watching the dog use the prosthetic device on a daily basis during regular activities, owners can also determine if it is the proper device for their dog. Adjustments and repairs may need to be made from time to time to make sure the prosthesis keeps doing what it was constructed to do in the proper manner.

Do you think your dog needs a prosthetic device? Have you considered the pros and cons of such a decision? While researching this article I read about a dog that, after being fitted with a device, was miserable when they were forced to wear it. The dog’s owner, while trying to do what they felt was best for the dog (in my opinion) may have made the wrong decision. The dog in question ran away when the device was brought out and once the device was on would chew on it to try and remove it.

There are several things to consider when looking into a prosthetic device for a dog (or a pet of any kind). First and foremost is whether or not the pet would benefit from it both physically and emotionally, and is it in their best interest, or is it to assuage feelings of guilt you may have? Will it add fulfillment and quality to their daily life? The cost of the device and subsequent fittings should also be considered, and whether or not you can afford it.

When Nimber lost his foot I suppose I could have gotten him some kind of prosthesis but never honestly considered it. He didn’t have any physical or emotional issues after his accident; he got on with living and enjoyed his life even with his handicap. I did, however, gain valuable insight from Nimber’s accident. I had many handicapped clients who owned pets and while I always treated them with respect and consideration when helping them find things for their pets, I realized there was something lacking in myself. They dealt with their handicaps in the best way they could, just as Nimber did with his, and I gained even more respect for their handicaps because I lived with a handicapped dog.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.