3May

After bringing the 39-lb. cat, Meow, to the stage on “Anderson,” veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Stekettee gave some tips to help slim down your overweight pet. Stekettee said pets are like people, as far as dieting is concerned, and need a high-protein, low-carb diet.

28Mar

You are a conscientious dog owner, aren’t you? When she started scooting across the floor, you looked at her rear end and saw that it was crusty, red and inflamed. You did a little Internet research and realized Paloma’s anal gland was infected. You took her to the vet who confirmed your suspicions. The vet cleaned out her anal sac and gave you a tube and told you to apply it to the affected area twice a day for a week.

Remember the time that Paloma and you were hiking and she ran after a wild animal and when she finally came back, she was bleeding from her paw. Upon examination, you noticed her paw pad had a perfect crescent shaped cut. You can’t recall the last time Paloma yelped out in pain, so this seemed serious to you. Once you got her in the car, it didn’t look like the kind of cut that would heal on its own, so you took her to the vet. The vet stitched her up and asked if you had any more of the tube he gave you for her infected anal gland. Surprised, you wondered how an ointment for a bacterial infection and inflammation would also be indicated for a cut.

Well, the ointment in that tube is no ordinary antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and pain cream. It’s called Animax and many vets hail its healing abilities because it is commonly used as an almost “cure all” for many things that plague dogs.

Dermatitis
Whether acute or chronic, at some point, most dogs will present with some form of dermatitis. Dermatitis is a general diagnosis given when the vet notices Paloma’s skin is inflamed. It can be the cause of an allergy, perhaps to wheat or other grains, or something more serious.

Contact Dermatitis usually presents with red and swollen skin that could also have blisters. Frequently itchy, it is not uncommon for the infected area to seep or ooze. Often the result of brushing up against something, thus the name, symptoms usually occur within 48 hours of Paloma coming in contact with the culprit.

Seborrheic Dermatitis, although less common in dogs than humans, is obvious because the affected area can be scaly, greasy, yellowish, swollen and could be either moist or dry to the touch. Can show up near her genitalia, on the muzzle, top of the head, or Paloma’s stomach.

Eczematous Dermatitis is also an uncommon skin condition for dogs, but they do occur. It presents in the same manner as Eczema does in humans. In between their toes, near her anus, and on the inside of her elbows, these circular patches are crusty, flakey and extremely itchy. They are easily inflamed and often painful. Just as in humans, Eczematous Dermatitis can lay dormant and out of the blue flairs up can occur.

Depending upon the severity or frequency of the Dermatitis, your vet might prescribe Animax to be applied as flair ups occur or as a prophylactic.

Otitis
Another catchall phrase that describes inflammation or an infection, Otitis is most often found in or around the ears of dogs. Flair ups can be considered acute or chronic. It is not uncommon for the inflammation to turn into an infection. It is quite common if the Otitis is not just itchy but inflamed and painful that your vet will recommend you apply Animax both in the ear and around it.

Parasites
It isn’t the pretty part of dog ownership, but dogs are scavengers. We may have domesticated them, for all intents and purposes, but there are some things that are just hard wired into their being. They eat all sorts of things that are disgusting: feces of myriad animals, including their own, cats’, chickens, and sometimes some animal that left his droppings long before you arrived on the scene to determine what it was. Parasites are the inevitable result of dogs eating feces.

In the case of parasites, while your vet may prescribe an anti-parasitic in dropper form, usually a three day course, if they are left untreated for a few weeks – perhaps because you don’t make it a habit to check Paloma’s bowel movements each and every time – they can cause acute dermatitis. The vet will likely prescribe a few days of application of the wonder drug for Paloma.

Cautions
Pregnant females should not ingest Animax as it can cause miscarriage. Some dogs may have sensitivities to neomycin, which is the active ingredient in Animax. If Paloma has an allergy to neomycin, her infection will not only not clear up, but it will also worsen or you will notice a reaction on another part of her body. In some instances vets prescribe Animax orally, but the majority of indications are for topical use.

Whatever you do, if Paloma is ever prescribed Animax, don’t throw away the tube when she’s finished using it. There’s a very good likelihood your vet will prescribe it again and again and again.

16Feb
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The Oldest Dog in the World

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In December of 2011, Pusuke died at the ripe old age of 26 years old. Pusuke lived in Japan with his human Yumiko Shinohara. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Pusuke was the oldest living dog on record. No successor to the title of World’s Oldest Living Dog has been named as of yet, but there are actually quite a few dogs in the running for the title.

World’s Oldest Dog Ever
The World’s Oldest Dog on record with Guinness is Bluey, an Australian cattle dog. Bluey was 29 years and 5 months old at the time of death. This is interesting to note because Bluey was a pure-bred dog.

There have been other dog owners who have tried to claim the title of having owned the world’s oldest dog, but none have proven their case to the Guinness officials. In most cases, a lack of paper proof is the missing key.

An Interesting Observation
When going through the list of dogs that the Guinness officials have to sort through when trying to determine the oldest dog records, there is a very interesting point that sticks out. Almost every dog on the list is a mixed-breed dog. Sure, there are a few dogs on the shortlist that are purebred, but that certainly isn’t the norm. Pusuke was a Shiba mix.

While mixed-breed dogs are more common on the shortlist, the oldest dog titles almost always go to pure-bred dogs. If that sounds odd to you, take a minute to think about it. Almost every pure-bred dog has a registration certificate. On that certificate is a date of birth. That makes it easy to prove the dog’s age to Guinness officials.

Mixed-breed dogs, however, usually don’t have a registration certificate. That lack of written proof is what usually costs mixed-breed dogs the title. For some people who buy or acquire a mixed breed dog as a puppy, there are veterinary records that can be used in lieu of a registration certificate. In that case, the Guinness officials usually use the date of the puppy’s first checkup as a pseudo-birthday. From that day to the current day, if the dog is older than the oldest dog for a specific record, Guinness has the authority to give the mixed-breed dog the record.

Unfortunately, for some dog owners trying to prove that their dog deserves an oldest dog record, there just isn’t the proof required to do so. Such is the case for Bella, a Labrador retriever mix. Her owners claim that she is 29 years old, but they just don’t have the proof to back up that claim.

Pure-Bred Dogs Versus Mixed-Breed Dogs
With most of the shortlist comprised of mixed-breed dogs, you may be wondering exactly why mixed breeds live longer than pure-bred dogs. The answer to that is actually very simple. When breeders breed pure-bred dogs, the two dogs usually have some ancestors in common. Some of these are very far back in the pedigree, but they are there. This makes the two dogs inbred. This type of ‘selective breeding’ actually weakens the offspring’s immune system and can lead to genetic defects and health issues. In mixed-breed dogs, there usually isn’t any common factor in the pedigree. This out-crossing actually makes the offspring stronger than the parents from a medical perspective given that the offspring get the best of what the dame and the sire bring to the breeding. So, mixed breeds are usually healthier and don’t require a lot of the costly medical care that pedigreed dogs do.

Final Thought
The bottom line when you start thinking about the oldest dog titles is that all dogs can live a very long time. Because of this, you have to make sure that you are committed to caring for a dog for many years to come before you head out to the local shelter to pick up a puppy or an adult dog.

21Dec
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A Picky Pooch

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Dogs are a great delight to have around. They provide companionship, unconditional love, and a warm greeting when you walk in the door. They can also be a real pain in the neck at times. If your beloved Bela is a picky eater, you know what it’s like to pull your hair out over a dog. When she turns her nose up at brand after brand of dog food, what are you supposed to do? Let her starve?

The Cause
First of all, you will want to give some thought to the underlying cause of Bela’s pickiness. Take her to the vet to rule out any physical problems. If her pickiness is new or if she is displaying any other unusual symptoms or behaviors, a trip to the vet is especially important. She could have a hormonal imbalance, a parasite, or she could have swallowed something she shouldn’t have.

If your vet tells you that Bela is perfectly healthy, look in the mirror to find your culprit. Dogs are not naturally choosy about what they eat, so if Bela is physically well and turning her nose up at kibble, it’s probably your fault. You are letting her get away with picky behavior in some way. Maybe you feed her too many table scraps and now she insists on eating your food. Maybe you have let her get away with eating wet food and now you can’t get her on kibble again. Whatever you have done to encourage her, rest assured you can change it.

The Fix
Turning around Bela’s picky eating habits is important. You need her to eat well and to eat the right foods so that she will be healthy and live a nice long life.
1. No more treats! Stop giving Bela treats, both human and doggy. She can survive a long time on a few table scraps and tasty treats. She is not going to starve if she keeps getting these and therefore, she will continue to turn her nose up at the kibble.
2. Make a schedule. Dogs love a routine, so turn eating into one. Dogs respond very well when they know what is expected of them. Create a feeding schedule for Bela. Feeding her two times per day is best.
3. Serve the right amount of the right food. Find out from your vet exactly how much Bela should be eating each day for her weight and activity level. Also get a recommendation for the best type of food.
4. Take a walk. Giving Bela a vigorous workout before her meal means she will be more likely to eat. Take a nice long walk or play a rousing game of fetch before each meal until she gets into the swing of things.
5. Change it up. Because you are correcting a behavior, it helps to change the eating area. Bela associates her food bowl and its location with not eating. Get her a new bowl and feed her in a new spot to create new associations.
6. Make it fun. Make mealtime fun by treating it like a game. Feed her the first few bits of kibble as a reward for doing tricks. Or, try getting a toy that dispenses food. If she has to work for it, she will be more likely to eat it.
7. Be patient. Most important of all, be patient with Bela. She is not trying to annoy you and getting irritated or upset does not help. It may take several days or even a couple of weeks before she starts eating regularly.

Dealing with a picky eater can be very trying. For Bela’s health and well-being, you must correct her behavior and get her on a regular diet.

23Nov
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A Perfect Breed for Babies?

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So baby Molly is on her way and you would love to raise your little girl with a dog. What could be better than growing up with a furry best friend? But what kind of dog to choose? Is there a perfect breed of dog to have around a baby or to raise with a child? Many experts would give you a laundry list of the best dogs for kids: golden retrievers, labradoodles, bichon frises, beagles, cocker spaniels, and so on. Yes, these are wonderful dogs that can be great with kids, but the real truth is that the breed is almost entirely insignificant. It’s all in how you treat and train the dog.

The Breeds
There are several breeds of dogs that are considered to be especially good with kids. Goldens and labs are your loveable friends. They are typically gentle and patient. American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers are sometimes called nanny dogs because they love children and will tolerate their rowdiness with ease. Bichon frises are small but sturdy and very good-natured. Shetland sheepdogs or shelties are fantastic with kids. They are very smart and tolerant. These are just a few.

Proper training and socializing are the true ways to be sure you have the best dog for Molly. However, there are a few breeds that are naturally not very tolerant of little ones. These include Chow Chows, toy and standard poodles, giant schnauzers, Jack Russell terriers, Pekingese, Pomeranians, llhasa apsos, and Chihuahuas. Each of these breeds can be good with children with the right training and socialization, but they are not naturally inclined to get along with little folks.

Mutts
What about a mixed breed dog? A mutt could be a really good choice for baby Molly’s new friend. There are plenty of even-tempered, intelligent, and loveable mutts waiting it out in shelters. They are looking for love and a new home. Mutts have a lot going for them. They can have really great personalities and loving dispositions. They seem to really appreciate being rescued and are forever grateful to their owners. Also, mutts typically live longer and have fewer health problems than pure bred dogs. The pure dogs have become pretty inbred over the years, which exacerbates genetic health problems. A mutt could be Molly’s buddy for many, many years. It’s not unheard of for mutts to give their two-legged siblings the send off to college along with the parents.

Picking your Perfect Pooch
Regardless of what kind of dog you want to get for Molly, take care to select the right individual based on some simple observations. Every dog is different and while a breed’s guidelines can give you some indication of a dog’s personality, it is just that: a guideline. When you select a dog, you want to choose the individual carefully. If you have your heart set on a golden or a sheltie for your little girl, consider finding your furry baby through a rescue group. Every breed has an associated rescue. Dedicated volunteers take in dogs that have been rejected, abandoned, or surrendered by owners, foster them, and look for their forever homes. The people who work for these groups really know their breed, so they can pick out the perfect dog to match your lifestyle and needs.

If you plan to go to your local shelter and pick out a dog for Molly, visit several times before you take one home. It is a big decision to bring a dog into your family, especially when you have a baby, so don’t take it lightly. Talk to the people who work at the shelter and find out which dogs are most patient, calm, and trainable. With little Molly on the way, the last thing you need is a hyper dog who needs all of your attention.

When you are considering your options for getting a baby-friendly dog, remember that breed is just one piece of the puzzle. Don’t be afraid to give a nice dog a chance just because he looks big or scary. Some of the toughest looking dogs are the gentlest and any dog is going to respond to you based upon how you treat him and how you train him.

29Oct
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How Many Dogs Are Too Many?

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We have all heard of a crazy cat lady who owns about 25 felines and barely takes a step outdoors. Of course, with 25 cats to take care of, she would barely have time to check her mail much less go out anywhere; that is a huge responsibility. Consider someone caring for 25 dogs: that’s not a home anymore; it’s a kennel. Even 25 small dogs would be rough to walk, feed, pet and clean up after. Certainly most people would agree that two dozens cats is just way too many, but what about dogs? How many dogs are too many?

The answer is a very personal one since a single dog may be too much responsibility for an individual and yet five or six is just perfect for someone else. Then there are those who collect pets but as is often seen, they cannot care for the pets they collect and many are neglected. That should be a good indication of whether someone is trying to care for too many animals: do any of them experience neglect? Not just the “I wish mom would pet me for a few minutes” type of neglect, but life-threatening neglect that can include being underfed and malnourished or a pet in dire need of medical attention but his ‘caregiver’ cannot afford it.

High Maintenance Pets
Animals cost money to sustain much like a house or a car and just like owning a vehicle or a domicile, you need to be able to afford the cost. Mom and dad were not just throwing out old platitudes when you were younger; dogs really are a big responsibility. More so than their feline counterparts as they demand more attention like walks, play time, or perhaps damage control as they tear up your garden. Dogs are considered high maintenance, requiring training, a strong leader or alpha and are just all-around time consuming. This is what attracts some people to dogs, the human need to care for things and in return gain love and respect, loyalty and a sense of accomplishment or belonging. And dogs definitely need to feel like they belong, which often makes some owners look at them more as being underfoot than a part of the pack.

Check The List
How many dogs are enough for you depends on finances, available room and your own personal temperament. Many dog owners agree that one dog is hard, two dogs are easy and three dogs are back to hard. The reason for two dogs being better than one is that they keep each other company and work each other out. While both will still demand your time (it does not have to be in equal shares as long as they both get separate time, though equal is fairer) they won’t demand every moment of it as they keep themselves distracted. A cat and a dog may offer the same partnership to a degree and yes, dogs and cats can live together beautifully if the dog is well socialized. Most adopted and retired racing hounds, for example, are not suitable to pair with a cat as they have been trained to chase small creatures down and wound or kill them. Because they are so fast, this never seems to prove much of a problem. It takes a good deal of removing this special training but it is better not to tempt fate. Ex-racing grey hounds make awesome pets but keep them from smaller animals.

What Is Your Dog Limit?
What follows is a basic list of questions to ask yourself before you decide to get another dog, or even your first. They require so much exercise that many shy away from a large dog and move towards a small one, but to be fair any size of dog needs a lot of exercise. Laziness comes with age and has not yet been bred into a dog species. You must be able to:

• Make sure each dog receives the required weight share of a high-quality dog food or equivalent (homemade raw/BARF diet/lightly cooked home food)
• Allow each dog five to ten minutes a day alone with their favorite human to work on tricks and training. More than ten minutes tasks a dog’s attention span
• Keep your dog outside of a crate at least 2/3rds of the day minimum
• See that each dog receives at very least 30 minutes of hard exercise or play a day. This can include a group lead walk, jogging or running next to their human, roller-blading, skateboarding, what have you. Playing in the yard with other dogs does not count. It needs to be focused exercise (and the 30 minutes need not be all at once, but broken up through the day if necessary)
• Make sure dogs each eat individually without losing portion size to their pack mates or suffer bullying for their food
• No dog is excluded from the pack; every dog is included in the pack by the other dogs and humans
• Aside from tricks and training or exercise, each dog needs some alone time with her human for love and attention, perhaps grooming
• Give each dog equal medical treatment and attention as needed with preventive check up and maintenance on a regular basis

As long as you can give each dog the attention, time and care she needs, you can continue to add dogs as you desire. Everyone has different thresholds of patience or the ability to split the attention, so listen to your limits; chances are you know them already. Do not get greedy or collect dogs for the sake of collecting. They are each individual sentient creatures that have needs to be met. Make sure you can give them everything they require and you will be rewarded with an outstandingly loyal companion that wants to be with you every step of the way.

15Sep
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Demodectic Mange

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Most of us have seen stray dogs before. Sometimes they look happy and well fed; perhaps they have loving owners and have simply wandered off by mistake. Then there are the strays who are obviously suffering. You may see a skinny dog with patches of fur missing. He scratches at his pink skin and looks very uncomfortable. That poor dog probably has one of two types of mange and is suffering greatly. If you are thinking of taking little Sparky home and you have the resources to help him, he will forever appreciate it and will repay you with immense loyalty and love. If you choose to help Sparky, approach him carefully. Handle him with gloves until you can get a diagnosis from your vet.

Two Kinds of Mange
Both varieties of mange are caused by mites that burrow into Sparky’s hair follicles and skin. Sarcoptic mange or scabies is caused by Sarcoptes scabiei canis. This mite can also infect many other animals and humans. Sarcoptic mange often starts at the elbows or ears and causes hair loss, scabbing, and infection. It can quickly spread to cover the whole body and is intensified by the his scratching and biting.

Demodectic or red mange is caused by a different mite, Demodex canis. Most dogs have this type of mite on their skin, but are unaffected by it. Most dogs’ immune systems can fight off the effects of Demodex canis. Some dogs, however, are sensitive to it, including, puppies and elderly dogs, whose immune systems are weak.

Transmission of Demodex canis
The Demodex canis mite is usually transmitted from a mother to her puppies. In fact, almost every dog mom passes these mites from herself to each one of her puppies. Most of the puppies will, like the mother, be immune to the effects of the mites. Occasionally, a puppy will lack this immunity and the symptoms of mange will appear. The mites need continuous contact with skin to survive, so transmission requires skin-to-skin contact between dogs. Because the mites cannot live off of a dog’s body, bedding and kennel areas do not need to be disinfected when one puppy has red mange. The puppies also do not need to be separated since they are all exposed to the mites by their mother.

Demodectic Mange Symptoms
Red mange can be either localized, meaning found in five or fewer spots on the dog, or generalized, extensively across the whole body. The characteristic lesions typically develop in a puppy after four months of age. What do these lesions look like? They are patches of skin with missing fur and crusty, red skin. The spots may sometimes appear moist or oily. The mites burrow into hair follicles, so the loss of fur is often the first sign of mange. Lesions on puppies often begin on the head, around the ears, eyes, and muzzle, or on the forelegs. Sometimes puppies with localized mange will develop immunity and recover, others will require treatment. Any dog that has gotten to the generalized state of red mange needs to get treatment as soon as possible.

Treatment
Your veterinarian can confirm a case of red mange by scraping a little bit of skin from Sparky and looking for mites under the microscope. If he is an older dog, rather than a young pup, Sparky most likely has another health issue that is compromising his immune system. In this case, your vet will want to screen him for an underlying condition.

Treatment for localized patches of mange involves topical lotions and shampoos. For more advanced, generalized mange, your vet may prescribe oral medicine and medicated dips. This treatment can be expensive and may take several weeks to eliminate the symptoms. Your vet may also ask you to consider the Sparky’s diet. Because the root cause of demodectic mange is a weakened immune system, a healthy diet, possibly including immune-boosting supplements, can help a dog to heal with or without medication.

The Itch
If Sparky has mange, he will most likely be uncomfortable. The lesions are often itchy and sore. His instinct will be to scratch and itch away at the raw spots. This presents a problem, as scratching with dirty dog feet, will only make the symptoms worse. In fact, secondary bacterial infections can arise in dogs with mange when the skin is exposed in this way. To prevent itching, you can cover up localized patches with bandages, although he is likely to bite them off. If he can’t help himself, the dreaded cone may be necessary. Consult with your vet first, but Benadryl may help to relieve some of the itching sensation.

Red mange can be very uncomfortable for poor Sparky. The mangy dog will need to see the vet immediately to determine the type of mite infecting him and the best possible course of treatment and symptom relief.

6Jul
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Secondhand Smoke and Your Dog

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The health risks and dangers of smoking have been well documented. Indeed, awareness of the impact of secondhand smoke on people (especially children) is on the rise. But secondhand smoke and pets? Finally, awareness of this pet health risk is growing, in part due to several studies published in scientific journals over the past five years.

The Risks
Cancer is the number one health risk to dogs who live with smokers. Dogs who live with smokers are 60% more likely to develop cancers than dogs that live with non-smokers. Nasal tumors and cancers of the nose and sinuses are found in dogs who are exposed to secondhand smoke. Lung, yes, lung cancer also has been appearing in our canine friends.

The longer the nose/muzzle, the greater the risk of nasal cancers, according to the research, due to the increased amount of mucus membrane exposed to the carcinogens present in the smoke. Nasal cancers are a fast growing and deadly group of cancers and dogs frequently do not live beyond one year after diagnosis.

However, if you think because your dog has a shorter snout, she isn’t at risk, guess again. Dogs with shorter noses or snouts are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer due to the carcinogens not being trapped by the nasal passages but instead allowing the particles to travel to the lungs.

Inflammatory changes in the lungs of dogs sharing a home with smokers indicate that exposure to secondhand smoke can also cause lung diseases such as asthma or emphysema. Exposure to a chronic irritant such as secondhand smoke can also increase the likelihood of developing allergies or chronic irritation thus weakening the dog’s immune system and setting the stage for infections or chronic breathing problems.

Poisoning is another risk posed by sharing a home with a smoker. Tobacco is poisonous to dogs, and some dogs will eat cigarettes or lick ashtrays. Nicotine, the addictive component in tobacco, is highly poisonous to dogs and consumption can be fatal. Consumption, you ask? “My dog isn’t eating my cigarettes, how is she consuming the nicotine?”

In an effort to remove the smell and soot from the cigarette smoke and ashes (respectively), many dogs will self-groom and lick their fur to rid themselves of the smell and soot.

Other pets are susceptible to illnesses caused by secondhand smoke. Impacts upon cats and pet birds have been studied as well. Cancers and other respiratory ailments as well as gastrointestinal illness has been shown to be problematic for cats as they engage in more extensive grooming than do dogs. Birds too, due to their preening behavior, are at high risk for developing cancers from exposure to secondhand smoke.

What can you do?
If you must smoke, do not smoke around your pets. Do not smoke indoors if at all possible and wash your hands thoroughly after each cigarette. Tar and nicotine can be transferred from your hands to your dog’s fur. Let your walks with your dogs be about them and not your habit. When you want to smoke, keep them inside the house and you go outside to light up.

If you can’t completely eliminate smoking from your life, cut down. Reduce and minimize your dog’s exposure to smoke: from your own and other people’s cigarettes. If your dog attends doggy daycare, ask about smoking rules and employees’ habits, and sniff around. The scent of cigarette smoke lingers; people often unwittingly minimize their estimate of how much they are smoking.

Keep it squeaky clean. Empty and wash ashtrays after using them and do not leave cigarette butts anywhere around your home or property.

If not for your own health, let the risk of harming your dog be the incentive you need to change your habits. Quitting smoking is one of the most difficult addictions to break but there are ways to get help. Use the support of your doctor to find safe and appropriate ways to reduce or eliminate smoking from your life: medications and nicotine patches might be helpful, but remember they too can be toxic to your pets. Remember, you you have a say in whether you want to smoke. Your dog has no say in whether he or she wants to be exposed to it. Remember that you share the air!

30May

Brooke the guide puppy is enrolled in one of numerous schools that train guide dogs for the blind. She is 9 weeks old, and she needs to take her first steps towards becoming a guide dog, which means staying with a family, like yours, for up to a year and a half. By being raised with your family, rather than at the school, she will learn some of the basics of being a dog, including lots about socialization, so that when she returns to her guide dog school of origin, she can learn how to be a guide dog. You will play a pivotal role in training Brooke the guide dog that will change the life of a visually impaired individual. What do you think? Does it sound enticing, at least enough to consider it?

What Will You Teach Brooke?
As a puppy raiser, you are responsible for Brooke’s socialization and manners. She will learn basic puppy commands and behaviors, as well as how to interact with her household surroundings, and how to get along with other pets. Eventually as part of the program, she will go out into the community with you everywhere! Brooke will ride with you to work (where you will have had to before hand cleared this with your HR department), to the grocery store, to the movies, to restaurants, to friends’ and families’ homes, so that she can experience being out in the community and get accustomed to being in nearly every imaginable circumstance. She will also ride with you in all modes of transport – cars, trains, busses and planes. All this is to ensure that when she eventually graduates from the blind school and is placed with a blind person, she has been in every imaginable circumstance.

Who Can Be a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser?
Volunteer puppy raisers have to meet a few qualifications, living like the right state to start with, the Guide Dogs of America program, for example accepts volunteers in 9 Western States, including California, Colorado, Utah and Washington. You also need to accept the terms and conditions of accepting a puppy from the guide dog program into your house.

Accepting this includes a thorough understanding of the expectations of you as Brooke’s puppy raising volunteer.

Expectations
If you take Brooke into your home, you will need to join a Puppy Raising Club in your town or the surrounding area. This Puppy Raising club will hold a series of meetings, which you need to attend and check in with regularly. You will also go on group outings with the other members of your group and their puppies.

You and all members of your home must commit to the rules, regulations and responsibility of taking the guide puppy into your house. This means keeping Brooke on a leash at all times when she’s not in the house, getting her daily exercise, using the guide dog program (whichever one you go with) approved training and socialization methods, and attending training workshops that are mandatory for Brooke to attend.

Upside
You will receive the best in support and advisement when you are raising Brooke, both from your puppy raising club leader and the guide dog program. Someone will be available and willing to answer any questions you may have. Being part of the puppy raising program means that you will be supporting an organization that makes a profound difference in the lives of the visually impaired. Without the program, it would be terribly difficult to ensure that a blind person were getting a properly trained, highly socialized dog to help him or her.

Downside
So, no doubt this program sounds so great, you are wondering why everyone doesn’t just run out and join. There are some downsides to being a part of the program, the first and most obvious of which is that you must let a puppy like Brooke into your heart, fall in love with her for up to a year and half (depends on the program) and then send her back out into the world after to do what she was born to do.

Downside Can Turn into an Upside
Not all dogs who go through the program graduate from it. For myriad reasons, some to do with health, others that might seem random to you, but mean that the dog didn’t meet some criteria, Brooke could come back to live with you, should you so desire. It is not assumed that she will. If Brooke doesn’t “pass” the program would ask you if you wanted to adopt Brooke permanently.

Becoming a volunteer in the puppy raising program is a truly unique, wonderful, rewarding and challenging experience. Don’t make the decision without a full consideration of everything it will mean to take in Brooke as a part of the puppy training program.

30Apr

Finding a lump on your dog’s body can be scary. If you notice any new sort of growth, a veterinarian should check it out immediately. If the lump is soft, rounded, and seemingly just under the skin, chances are it is nothing to worry about. Lipomas, also known as fatty tumors or fatty deposits, are almost always benign and are among the most common types of growths found on dogs.

What Is It And How Did It Get There?
Lipomas are deposits of fatty tissue that grow subcutaneously, which means literally just under the skin. They feel movable and somewhat soft and should not cause any hair loss or pain. They generally form on the abdomen, torso and legs, although they can potentially appear anywhere on your dog’s body. No one yet knows why lipomas form, but they are more common in some dogs. Miniature schnauzers, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, and mixed breed dogs are more prone to developing fatty deposits than other breeds. Also, in any breed, older dogs are far more likely to have them than younger dogs. They are considered by veterinarians to be a normal part of the dog aging process.

How Do I Know It Isn’t Malignant?
Never assume that a new lump is perfectly benign on your own. You should always make a visit to your vet to be sure. Your vet will first examine the growth by palpation, which simply means she will feel it with her fingers. From this, most likely, your vet will be able to tell you whether or not it is a harmless lipoma. If you want to be sure, the vet must do a biopsy or needle aspirate. This means using a small needle to remove some of the cells from the growth. They will be examined under a microscope, probably at a lab, and the exact nature of the cells can be determined.

Some lipomas may be infiltrative, meaning that although benign, they are invading the surrounding muscle tissue. If your vet suspects this type of lipoma, she may need to do a CT scan to adequately image it and to determine the extent or its infiltration.

What Should I Do About It?
In most cases, it is perfectly acceptable and indeed recommended that the lipoma be left alone. They generally don’t cause any pain and removing them surgically can be dangerous for the dog and unnecessary. In rare cases, a benign fatty deposit may cause a dog discomfort. This can occur if the lump gets very large or if it grows in a place such as under the legs or another area that causes problems with mobility.

An infiltrative lipoma can often cause discomfort and likely needs to be removed by surgery or a combination of surgery and radiation. Although not malignant, the radiation can help remove parts of the deposit that are difficult to reach with surgery.

What If My Dog Gets More Lumps?
Chances are if your dog has one lipoma, he will develop more. This doesn’t mean however, that you should assume they are likewise benign. Every new lump should be checked by your vet. Furthermore, if you and your vet decide not to remove a lipoma, you should still watch it carefully. It may need to be removed in the future if it grows larger and causes your dog discomfort. Also, there is the rare possibility that it could be a liposarcoma, a malignant tumor that can spread to other areas of the body. For this reason, be sure to monitor and note any changes in your dog’s lipomas.

Although it can be worrisome to find a new lump on your dog, keep in mind that it is most likely harmless. Keep an eye on him and check every new growth with your vet to be sure he will live his longest possible life.