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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.
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