Saturday, May 28, 2011

Be Prepared

The Boy Scouts had it right, BE PREPARED!

This week we were reminded yet again of how quickly a natural disaster can strike. Maybe we all need a reminder on being prepared to keep our pets as safe as possible. A little planning ahead of time can make a huge difference.
There are several web sites that give advice on disaster planning and have check lists to help you get organized.
The ASPCA has an especially good discussion of disaster preparedness on their site. It even breaks it down by planning for dogs and cats, birds, reptiles and other small animals. They list items that should be in your emergency kit and offer advice on arranging safe places for your pets.
Another excellent site to check out is this one. This site gives preparedness advice for us humans as well as our pets. They have a 12 item checklist for pets that I'm posting here.

Start by getting an emergency bag - a back pack, gym bag, suitcase or even a 5 gallon bucket.

1. On the top of the bag boldly print your name, phone numbers and pet's names.

2. Water and food enough for 3 - 7 days

3. Food and water dishes

4. Blanket or towel

5. Medicines, with instructions for use in a ziplock bag

6. Note listing your veterinarian, his number, the pet's names and your first and last names.

7. The name, address and phone number of a friend or relative where the pet might stay.

8. A favorite toy and some treats.

9. Collar and leash.

10. For cats and small dogs, a carrier, littler box and litter.

11. Small plastic bags and paper towels.

12. Picture of your pet, info on feeding and any behavioral issues. All written info should be placed in a waterproof container or ziplock bag.

Remember to keep some form of ID on your pet, either tags, a tatoo or microchip.

Keep extra leashes by the door so you save time making an exit.

It's handy to have your pet crate trained even if you don't regularly use one at home. If the animal becomes lost, it'll remain calmer in a crate if it's already familiar with one.

Many organizations and pet stores offer these rescue stickers that can be put on your door or window alerting rescue workers that there is an animal in your home that may need help.

A little advance planning can mean the difference between life and death when an emergency strikes.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thyroid Disease in Dogs

This week we learned that Noah has hypothryoidism. His thyroid gland isn't producing enough hormone for his body.
This isn't my first experience with this disorder and I'm happy to say I recognized the symptoms early enough to get Noah started on treatment before he suffered any permanent damage. Thyroid disease in dogs is relatively common and is fairly easily treated. It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the symptoms and if you suspect a problem, consult your veterinarian.

 Libby was my first dog to have thyroid problems and I didn't recognize what was going on. She gained a lot of weight and seemed to lack energy. She had once been an extremely active dog, but it became almost impossible for her to walk very far and climbing stairs would make her huff and puff. She'd have to stop half way to rest. Her coat became dry and dull and started falling out. Her skin turned dark and felt cool to the touch. Within a month of starting treatment she had lost the extra weight, grown a soft, fluffy new coat and had all her energy back. She lived to be 15 years old and was chasing squirrels  the day she died.

Monty had a slightly different problem. His thyroid level was in the normal range, but on the very low end of normal. We took a chance and started treating him because of his noise phobia. Prior to treatment Monty would panic at any loud noise. A thunderstorm would cause him to try to climb on my shoulder while shaking uncontrollably and drooling. Monty weighed 80 pounds and to have such a large dog out of control with panic was a difficult  situation for all of us. Within a short time of starting treatment with a low dose Monty could get thru a thunderstorm by just sitting close to me. He would still tremble, but he was in control and was a much happier dog. Because Monty's level was in the low normal range, this was a decision that our vet and I discussed at length and made together.

After her diagnosis of Masticatory Muscle Myositis (MMM), a blood test showed that Samba had a low thyroid reading. We started treatment, but we're pretty sure that her facial paralysis was probably related to the thyroid problem. We've had to adjust her dosage upwards, but now seem to have it at a perfect level for her.

Some of the common symptoms of thyroid disease in dogs is weight gain, lower activity level, lethargy, mood swings, cold intolerance, hair loss or changes in coat becoming dry, dull, brittle.

There are many others and if left untreated this can shorten your dog's life span. Treatment can be as easy as giving a tablet twice a day. The medication is inexpensive, works quickly and you can actually see the changes.

If you're interested in reading more or in checking out the other symptoms, this is an excellent article by one of the authorities on the subject.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hopping Down The Bunny Trail

Spring is here and Easter is coming up, so some families are thinking of adding a rabbit to the family. Rabbits can be great family pets under the right circumstances.

 Some things to consider if you're thinking about getting a rabbit are where will the rabbit live? Remember that rabbits are strong chewers and you want to keep electrical cords away. They'll also chew on wood, so you don't want them to have free access to your mahogany floor boards or furniture. The rabbit will need his own safe place to live.

 What about other pets in the household. If you have a pack of beagles who love to hunt, a rabbit is probably not a good choice, but some dogs and cats can learn to coexist with  rabbits and even become friends. You know you dog's temperament best. Be honest about whether he or she will accept a rabbit as a sibling.

 Your pet rabbit will need food and veterinary care, just as your other pets do. Be sure to ask questions and do your homework before  bringing any new pet into the household.

If you've thought it thru and decided that a rabbit is a good choice for your family, consider adopting a bunny from a shelter. Just as with dogs and cats, many people buy a rabbit on impulse and find that it's not a good fit for them. The poor animal winds up in a shelter hoping for a forever home.
                                                  Nightsong and Cinnamon

 All the bunnies shown in this post are available for adoption on Petfinder. Check out the ones in your area and give a loving home to an animal that needs you.

Although rabbits can be good pets, remember that children and other animals must be supervised while handling them. They can bond with people, but it takes longer than with dogs. They can become aggressive if not handled gently.  Don't buy a rabbit just because it's Easter, they're not toys. Do your homework as you would with any other pet and know what kind of rabbit you want, and how to care for it.
 Enjoy life with your new bunny.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

New Friends On The Blog

We've been letting things slip lately. We have a bunch of new friends that want to introduce to you.

The four B's (Benson, Bailey, Brody and Baxter) have a new little brother.
His name is Walter, so we guess they're now the 4 B's and a W. His bigger brothers will keep him busy learning to run and jump and splash with them at the dogpark.


Fuji, the Chihuahua, has a new playmate, too.
This is Randy.

He's a Vietnamese Pot Belly Pig and he's learning obedience. Check it our on their blog.


Over at the Dog Foster Mom blog, a new family member has moved in. Tiggr is actually a foster cat looking for a loving forever home, but because he's already seven years old, his chances of being adopted are slimmer than if her were a kitten. He has wonderful manners and may become a permanent family member.


Zona, Phoenix and Cali have new family members, too.
These are a momma goat and her baby daughter.
The pups can play with them while they wait for their new little boy to arrive.


At Golden Pines there are two new residents.
Bubba is now a permanent foster.
His brother Toby is being adopted by the family. Now the two brothers will live out their lives together. What a happy ending to their story. They join a group of Goldens and little Charlie to make a pack as big as ours.

Go meet these newcomers and welcome them to the blog community. The more the merrier.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Japan's Pets Need Help Too

Following the earthquake and tsunami, the Japanese people need and are receiving help from individuals and agencies around the world. The pets need help, too.
Many pets are now homeless, separated from their families and in some cases their families are among the missing or dead.
By now you've probably all seen the video of the brown and white Spaniel type dog that refused to leave his critically injured companion. As an update, they were both rescued and are currently receiving  veterinary care. Both are expected to survive.
If you would like to help the animals, you can check out Global Animal. Org  On their site they list several groups that are already on the ground in Japan making a difference.
Another is World Vets.  I only recently discovered this organization which seems to be similar to Doctors Without Borders. I'm impressed with what I've read about them.

ARK   Animal refuge Kansai is also accepting donations to help the Japanese animals. They accept Paypal making it quick and easy to donate.
Finally, if you're getting low on dog treats and need to stock up, Lucky Dog Treat Company is donating 50% of their sales for the remainder of the month to World Vets disaster relief.  Lucky Dog is an Etsy shop, so while helping dogs in need, you're also supporting a craftsperson. It's a win-win!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What is PRA ?

Progressive Retinal Atrophy, known as PRA, is a genetic eye disease in dogs similar to retinitis pigmentosa in humans.
The condition was first discovered in Gordon Setters, but has been found in many breeds including Cockers, Poodles, Labradors, Schnauzers, Old English Sheepdogs and many others. It's a disease of the retina that usually starts out as night blindness where the animal has trouble seeing in low light conditions and progresses to total blindness.
 In most breeds the condition is  inherited as a recessive trait. Siberian Huskies and Bullmastiffs are exceptions, as it is dominantly inherited in those breeds. There is no treatment for the condition and blindness is the usual result.
The condition was discovered in Portuguese Water Dogs in the late 1970s. Veterinarians, scientists and the dog breeding community took action to find the cause and the offending gene was located.  There is now a test available from Optigen to determine if a dog carries the gene.
Dogs are rated as clear, carriers or affected. Dogs affected will become blind.  Carriers can safely be bred to a clear dog. The resulting puppies can be carriers, but will not develop the disease. It's important for breeders to test their breeding dogs and be careful when breeding in order to control the spread of the disease. Breeding dogs should also be checked by a canine opthalmologists yearly to be sure they are free of symptoms. The exam is painless. They are then certified by  CERF,  the  Canine Eye Registration Foundation.
When buying a purebred puppy, talk with the breeder about PRA in the breed. Ask questions about the breeders experience with the disease. Ask for the ratings of the parents and request copies of the CERF and Optigen certificates. Responsible breeders will be happy to give you the certificates and answer any questions. Breeders who care about their breed try to produce healthy puppies and eliminate health issues wherever possible.

In our pack, Samba is a PRA carrier. We had her tested when she was quite young and she saw an opthalmologist each year prior to breeding. Fudge is clear of the disease. It was safe to breed the pair and none of our pups will go blind from this heartbreaking disease.  I sent copies of their cetrtificates to any prospective buyers.

For additional information on PRA and to answer questions about PRA in your breed, here are some informative sites to check out. Also ask your vet if you would like to know more about the disease in your breed.
Animal Eye Care

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Glaucoma and your dog

This isn’t an easy post to write. We pride ourselves on being not just good, but involved, devoted, educated, aware dog owners, so having a young – three years old – dog show up with aggressive glaucoma in one eye over Christmas was devastating. The other eye has been checked and also has primary (genetic) glaucoma and its untreated pressure did touch on the lower end of the glaucoma/ eye pressure range.

December 2010 010After spending a month in survival mode – for the humans, not the eye… we lost that fight probably before we even knew we were at war – it was time to educate ourselves on canine glaucoma so we are fully equipped to face the almost inevitable day when the remaining eye also spikes into that dangerous, damaging pressure range. Now that we know the basics, it’s time to pass them along, and hopefully help someone else spot the warning signs faster, and in time to save both eyes. (Photo taken 12-26-10)

I have to pause here to be sure everyone knows we have the best vets – not just in my opinion, but according to the AAHA’s accreditation – around, and Sissy – our one eyed-girl – has very regular visits for her allergies. We didn’t miss anything; primary glaucoma is just that hard-hitting. In fact, we’re very lucky that our veterinary practice has specialized eye care equipment and the vet we saw on December 27th trusted her hunch and checked those eye pressures.

January 2011 011While our eye surgeon is working on an article to share with any of our doggie friends who want to publish a little something on their blogs, in their rescue or breed groups’ newsletters, etc., I’ve cobbled together a little something on what to look for. I must stress that early intervention is critical, so if you see ANY of these signs, please don’t delay and call the vet right away.

Rubbing the eyes
Redness in the whites of the eyes
Any deformity of the eye (an advanced symptom)
Cloudiness of the eye (also advanced)
Excessive blinking and/or tearing
Bumping into things or suddenly refusing to jump up or down off of familiar spots (also advanced)

You can see why we didn’t rush to the vet when these symptoms appeared in our allergic to the world girl on Christmas Eve. (There was no deformity or cloudiness until January 1, after treatment had begun.) If you have a dog with allergies, I’d still recommend talking to your vet about glaucoma and general eye health, because I haven’t touched on – and am not well-versed on – secondary glaucoma, which is caused by something other than bad genes, such as trauma or untreated eye conditions.

January 2011 005

Sissy has given me permission to share all photos within this post, some of which have not been posted in blogland before, because she really does want to help other dogs avoid the serious pain glaucoma causes, along with the torture of lifelong eye drops daily, not to mention the sad surgery… I haven’t sited sources, but if you want or need more information, I can share my saved favorites upon request.
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