Category Archives: dog care

Tips on Caring for and Training a Blind Dog

ffac151f-0247-4040-ba24-a9af9c1ac28cBy Laurie Darroch

Blind dogs may find ways to adapt to being partially or fully blind on their own, but might also need help adjusting in a world where visual cues are one way of communicating and getting around. A blind dog can present a special challenge in training and daily living, but you can make life easier for them by using some tips to help them adjust and cope.

Alternative Senses Cues

Because a blind dog cannot respond to hand signals and other visual cues, focusing on the functional senses they do have and using those productively when training the dog is key. Using a consistent sound in training will let them know precisely what they need to do. Try using a clicker or rattle to guide, and some healthy, natural CANIDAE dog treats as a reward when they achieve each step in their training and to help them cope daily even after they have learned. Like any other dog, it may take some practice to help them understand and learn. Be patient.

Blind dogs can be taught to use sense of smell as a guide, but it’s a good idea to use that in a very specific way. Anything with a smell leaves trails of scent, and blind dogs do not have the added benefit of vision to sort out the mixed cues. If you use a scented cue, place the object at the spot or target you want the dog to focus on. Don’t move it around or toss it since the scent travels around in the air as well, which can confuse your dog.

Blind dogs can also use touch, smell and feeling with their muzzles, paws and bodies to determine where they are and what is around them. As they are learning to cope with blindness, you can help by guiding them to specific places and using a guide word for each thing, such as bed, food, step up or down.

In the beginning, think like you were blind too and learning to cope. Put yourself in their position and walk the house with the dog to see what they may need help with.  Cover dangerous or sharp parts of furniture. Use a child gate on steps to keep them from falling down them. As they learn to cope without vision, they will map the house with their senses until they learn and are comfortable enough with their surroundings to get around easily. If you change things around in your home, guide the dog around to learn the new placement of things so they don’t get confused or injured.

Simplify Verbal Commandscebed1f7-d2f1-4ac4-91ca-cc81838b1c7a

Keep your commands and guide words simple, so the dog knows precisely what they need to do or not do and where they need to go or not go. Establish a specific command word that lets them know they are in danger and immediately stops them from an accident or injury.

Consistency

Be consistent when you are guiding or training a blind dog. The consistency will give them a sense of security and help lessen any possible confusion. Repetition and consistency in training gives the dog structured guidelines. Once they associate certain sounds, verbal cues and smells with specific needs or requests, they will easily find their way around daily activities and your home. Be sure to include all family members or housemates in the training and learning the various commands and cues.

If you want to try a little experiment to give you an idea of how the world seems to a blind dog, turn off all the lights at night time and walk around the house in the dark. You will quickly learn what obstacles your dog may need help with to overcome.

Blind dogs can lead very normal lives. The added training you do as a responsible pet owner will make life more pleasant and easier for both of you. Love is blind!

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

EmailGoogle GmailBlogger PostTwitterFacebookGoogle+PinterestShare

What Should You Do If Your Dog Tears a CCL?

By Langley Cornwell

We like to take our dogs out in the woods to let them run and play off-leash. There is a secluded area near our house that’s perfect for this kind of activity, and we try to get out there so they can romp around at least twice a week, weather permitting. The fresh air and sunshine is good for all of us. We’ve been doing this for years and consider it quality family time.

Recently on one such outing, Frosty came back limping. We checked her pads carefully to make sure there wasn’t a thorn or cut causing the limp. Everything looked fine, but she wouldn’t put her left rear leg down so we called our vet and went straight over.

When we walked in, he took one look at her and said “I hope it’s not what it looks like, but I’m pretty sure it is.” They took her to the back to get x-rays and then confirmed what he suspected. Our dog had a rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). She had torn her CCL, which is similar to a human’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

A dog’s CCL (and a human’s ACL) is the ligament responsible for stabilizing the knee joint.

Causes

When a dog twists on her hind leg or makes an abrupt turn while running full speed, she can tear her cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). The twisting motion puts sudden, extreme tension on the ligament which can cause it to tear. Sudden CCL tears most commonly happen when a dog slides on a wet surface, makes a sharp turn when she’s running, or gets hit from the side by a car.

Some CCL tears happen over time. Obese dogs have a higher likelihood of developing this problem than healthy weight dogs. Excess weight puts undue stress on a dog’s knees and the cranial cruciate ligament becomes so weak that it slowly begins to degenerate until it ruptures, sometimes without any extraneous activity.

Treatments

There are several surgical options for repairing a ruptured CCL. Our vet opted for a procedure that involves using artificial suture fibers (he likened it to fishing line) to reconstruct her ligament. He used this synthetic material to weave between the lower outside part of our dog’s femur (the bone above the knee) and the upper inside part of her tibia (the bone below the knee), creating a manmade cranial cruciate ligament.

The other surgical options are called a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) and a tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA).

There are cases where surgery is not an option. If a dog is elderly, has a condition that inhibits healing, or is afflicted with another complicating factor, then a combination of medical treatment, restricted activity and physical therapy may be the best route.

For an overweight dog, it’s important to take steps to reduce his body weight. Feed a high quality dog food like CANIDAE, and make sure your pet gets plenty of age-appropriate exercise.

Recovery

This is where things get tricky, especially if you have more than one dog in your home. After a dog undergoes any of the surgical options for a torn CCL, she must stay completely inactive for a minimum of two weeks. She can only go outside to relieve herself. At around the two week mark, most dogs will do what our vet calls “toe touching,” which means the dog will tap the toe of the hurt leg to the ground and slowly begin putting a bit of weight on it. Our dog isn’t quite there yet. She will occasionally tap her toe to the ground, but most of the time she just hops around on three legs. She’s become amazingly adept at this.

We were told to restrict Frosty to short leash walks for six more weeks to allow complete healing. Because Frosty and our other dog Al are active and like to wrestle, it’s been difficult to keep them from playing around – but we were strictly warned. Limited activity is important in order to avoid damaging the surgical correction.

Prognosis

Our vet thinks Frosty’s prognosis is good if we constrain her activity. We will also continue to massage her knee and perform gentle rehabilitation exercises.

A ruptured cranial cruciate ligament is a serious issue and requires a lot from the pet owners and the pet. However, if you follow your vet’s advice to the letter, your furry friend should be back on all fours in due time. Wish us luck!

Photos by Langley Cornwell

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

5 Signs That Your Dog Needs Grooming

By Laurie Darroch

Dogs do some of their own grooming and caring for their coat. You may see them licking dirt off their hair or tugging at foreign matter to remove it with their teeth, but they need your help to keep their coat and nails in optimum condition. Grooming your dog is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. Here are five ways you can assist your canine companion with his grooming.

Matted Fur

Matted or tangled hair attracts and traps dirt, pests such as ticks, and debris from playing outside. The matting hampers the natural ability for the coat to do its job of keeping the dog warm in cool months and cooler in hot months. When your dog’s coat is matted, not only does it make him look unkempt and uncared for, it can contribute to poor health by trapping things that can damage the skin and bring disease to your dog.

Some breeds do not require a lot of brushing to keep their coat tangle free, but even those dogs can benefit from regular brushing to remove debris and dirt and to help to keep their coat healthy.

Read More »

How to Choose a Good Dog Shampoo

By Laurie Darroch

Dogs do need to be bathed on occasion, and you need to choose the right shampoo to get your canine friend clean. Their skin and fur attracts dirt, debris and pests which can cause health problems. A stinky dog can also smell up a house quickly, and get furniture and bedding filthy.

Don’t use products designed for humans for bathing your dog, no matter how much you like the smell of them. They’re not meant to be used on dogs. Don’t use dish detergent either, as it can be caustic and can burn their skin. The added chemicals and perfumes from these types of products may also cause allergic reactions or make your dog’s skin worse. The strong scents can be agitating to a dog’s super sensitive nose as well.

Look for a shampoo designed specifically for canine care with healthy ingredients such as aloe or oatmeal for moisturizing and cleaning. When buying dog shampoo, keep in mind that an adult dog may have different sensitivities and needs than a puppy does, so be sure to buy age appropriate products. Getting the right dog shampoo will help to keep his fur and skin healthy.

Read More »

Top 10 Most Searched Dog Questions According to Google

By Linda Cole

Dogs are complicated individuals with their own unique and sometimes puzzling behaviors. Why dogs do the things they do is something all pet owners ponder from time to time. Thankfully, we have Google to help – they put together the top ten most searched questions about dogs in 2014.

10. Why do dogs bury bones? This behavior is called hoarding or caching, and goes back to early ancestors of dogs. Stashing food protects it from other animals that want to steal it. Uneaten prey and bones were hidden in a cache near the den. Burying the leftovers helped preserve a kill because it was cooler underground and hidden from flies and other insects. When prey was scarce, dogs could go back to their cache for something to eat. Most dogs today have plenty to eat, but the instinct to bury food is a hardwired behavior, which is why you may find stashes of CANIDAE kibble hidden around your home.

9. How to introduce dogs? Each dog is an individual, and knowing what he likes and dislikes, how he plays, what his energy level is, and how well he was socialized with other animals are all pluses when you decide to add a second dog to your home. Introducing a new dog to one already in your home should be done calmly, slowly and with patience. Pay careful attention to the body language of both dogs and never leave them unsupervised until they are comfortable and calm with each other.

Read More »

How to Help a Dog Deal with Pain

By Laurie Darroch

When a dog is experiencing pain, whether from an obvious illness or injury, or something you can’t see or figure out, they will let you know in a number of possible ways. Because they cannot talk and explain what is going on, you are left to puzzle it out and determine how to help relieve their pain, whatever its source.

You may notice altered behavior such as withdrawal, refusal to play or even eat, or the opposite – excessive clinginess and following you everywhere in the house. You may see your dog crying or whimpering. You may notice that they are moving differently or favoring the part of the body with the injury or pain. It’s always a good idea take your dog to the vet to make sure it is nothing serious and something for which they need specific medication or professional treatment.

Here are some tips for helping your dog deal with their pain.

Comfort

Comforting your dog helps to soothe pain levels and reduce the anxiety and stress caused by pain that isn’t understood. You dog reacts to your stress as well. If they are in pain, try to stay calm. Your dog will sense your mood and react accordingly. If you are calmer handling your dog’s pain, they will feel more secure and at ease. Your dog trusts you.

Read More »