Archive for September, 2011

Should I Get Another Dog?

You love your dog and all the joy she’s brought to your life; adding another dog will just double the fun, right? Well, maybe or maybe not. Adopting a dog is a huge responsibility and will change your household. Many owners underestimate the time, energy and money required. You may see a cute puppy and want to impulsively bring him home. The key to successfully adopting a second dog, however, is to take a slower approach. Really think about how a new dog will fit into your lifestyle and consider these questions:

1. Why do you want another dog? Before you start dreaming about a little ball of fluff, think about your reasons for adding a new pet. If you want a second dog for your children, be realistic about what their involvement will really be. Adding a second dog to be a companion for your first dog can be a wonderful idea; just realize that you can’t leave them alone to entertain themselves. Never choose a dog because the breed is trendy or you like the way it looks. Don’t be swayed to adopt a dog because it is cheap or free–dogs are never free when you consider the financial and physical care they require. If, on the other hand, you truly love dogs and understand the commitment needed to give a pup a loving home, you’ll make the right decision for your household.

2. Is now the right time to adopt a new dog? Take a minute and consider your day-to-day life. Are you away from home a lot? Taking on a new project at work? Expecting a new baby? The ASPCA recommends waiting six months after big life changes such as divorce, death of a pet, children leaving home or health problems before a getting a new dog.

3. Do you have the financial resources to support a second dog? Your dog will live approximately 12 years, which is a huge financial commitment. Think about vet visits, medicine, food, treats, toys, grooming and boarding if you travel. Does getting a second dog make sense from a financial point of view?

4. Do you have the time and patience to open your home to another dog? In order to have a healthy, happy pet,  you will need to spend time playing, exercising, grooming, training, feeding and socializing your dog. A puppy will require more time for potty training, supervision and correction.

5. Is your dog ready for the addition of a new pup? You must consider the affect a new dog will have on your first one. It’s generally recommended to get a dog of the opposite sex so the two pups will be more compatible. Waiting until your first dog is two years old before adding a new one will make training easier. Consider any training issues your present dog has and work to correct those before bringing in a new pet. You don’t want your new baby picking up any bad habits. Also, consider that some dogs like being only dogs and don’t want to share their humans.

6. Are all family members on board? Dogs love consistency and routine. Your family should feel good about adding a new dog and participate in the training and care of the new pet. They need to be able to take over the responsibility of caring for the dogs if you are sick or away.

The Reality of Two Dogs

You will need to change some behaviors and routines in your house if you bring in a second dog.

• Food. It’s best to separate the dogs when feeding them so they don’t feel like they have to compete with each other or guard their food.  If your current dog free feeds, you will need to stop this practice. Instead, serve between two to four meals a day; frequent feedings will help your dogs get along better.

• Treats. If you give a treat to one dog in sight of the other dog, give the other dog a treat as well. An exception to this rule: if you are rewarding for good behavior and only one of the dogs responds, just give a treat to that dog. Hopefully, the other dog will soon learn that good behavior leads to something yummy.

• Chews and toys. Separate the dogs before giving them desirable chews or toys. If  you put them out to share, you risk the dogs fighting. If your first dog has access to these items, that will have to change.

• Beds. Each dog needs a bed or crate as a safety zone. If your first dog sleeps in your bed, don’t take that privilege away. It’s okay to have one dog sleep in your bed and the other dog sleep in a crate, if he needs that support.

• Attention. Each dog will need frequent individual attention from you at home and away from home. Take one dog on a walk or running errands without the other one. This attention will help with the emotional health of your dogs and build your relationship with each of them.

Advertisements

First Aid for Fido

If your dog wasn’t breathing, would you know what to do? None of us like to think about our beloved pets needing first aid, but accidents happen. Knowing how to help your dog in an emergency could mean saving his life. Here, some common accidents and what to do if they happen to your pup.

Choking
Symptoms may include: breathing difficulty, choking sounds, blue color to lips and gums, pawing at the mouth.

• Keep your dog calm and take him to the vet immediately if he’s able to breathe.
• Look into your dog’s mouth. If the object is visible, gently try to remove it with tweezers or pliers. If it’s not easy to remove, proceed to the vet immediately.
• If your dog collapses, put him on his side and hit his rib cage with the palm of your hand to see if you can dislodge the object. Keep repeating until you get to the vet’s office.

Fractures
Symptoms may include: sudden onset of lameness, swelling or pain when touched, bone sticking through the skin.

• Muzzle your dog; if he’s in pain he may bite.
• Gently lay him on a firm surface for support.
• Transport your dog to the vet using a board or blanket as a sling.

Bleeding (External)
Symptoms may include: bleeding from a skin wound.

• Muzzle your dog; if he’s in pain he may bite.
• Press a clean gauze pad over the wound and apply pressure for 3 minutes. This will help the blood clot and lessen the bleeding.
• For severe bleeding on the legs, apply a tourniquet made from gauze or an elastic band. Bandage the wound and apply pressure. Take your dog to the vet immediately.

Bleeding (Internal)
Symptoms may include: bleeding from the nose, mouth or rectum; coughing up blood; blood in urine; pale gums; weak and rapid pulse.

• Keep your dog quiet and warm and take him to the vet right away.

Poison
Symptoms may include: seizures, loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing.

• Collect any material your dog may have vomited or chewed and proceed to the vet.
• If you dog is exposed to harmful external toxins such as cleaning products, read the caution label on product and follow the instructions. For instance, if the label says to wash your hands with soap and water, wash your dog’s skin with soap and water.

Resuscitating Your Dog

If your pup stops breathing or has no heartbeat, you can use techniques such as rescue breathing and chest compressions. Start the resuscitation at home and continue until you get to an emergency clinic and professionals can take over.

Rescue Breathing

• Stay calm and have another person call the vet so you can stay with your dog.
• Check to see if  your dog is unconscious.
• Open your dog’s mouth and pull his tongue out flat. Check to see if any object is blocking his airway.
• Close your dog’s mouth and keep it closed with your hand. Begin rescue breathing by blowing into your dog’s NOSE until you see his chest rise. Continue the rescue breathing every 5 seconds.

Chest Compression

• Lay your dog on his right side on a stable surface. Locate his heart–it is in the lower half of the chest, on the left, just behind the elbow of the left front leg.
• Place one hand under your dog’s chest and one on his heart.
• Press down on your dog’s heart 1 inch for a medium-sized dog. Press harder for a larger dog.
• Don’t perform rescue breathing and chest compressions at exactly the same time. Alternate the techniques.

Dog First Aid Kit

Having a first aid kit for your dog helps you in emergencies. In a small plastic tool box or tackle box, keep a piece of paper with your name, address and phone numbers; your vet’s name and number, and any special information about your dog such as medications he takes. Some suggestions for stocking your first aid kit include:

Rolled cotton

Cotton balls

Gauze pads and tape

Hydrogen peroxide

Hyrdrocortisone ointment

Scissors

Eyewash

Silver nitrate

Tweezers

Oral syringes (without the needle)

Pediolyte

Large towel

Rolls of elastic wrap

Emergency ice pack

Thermometer

 

Legal Disclaimer

This post is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for a vet’s professional diagnosis and treatment.

Could Your Dog Be A Blood Donor?

Transfusions save people who have suffered severe blood loss from trauma or disease. But did you know that blood transfusions also save pets’ lives? Regional animal blood banks, which collect and store blood products, are still a relatively new concept. Better veterinary care, surgery options and the increase in pet insurance to offset cost have led to an increase in life-saving blood transfusions for dogs and cats. Albuquerque’s Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers at 4000 Montgomery Blvd NE, (vescnm.com), has a volunteer blood donor program that supplies blood products to vets in the area.

Canine Blood Types

While there are more than a dozen blood types in dogs, the most important one is DEA 1.1. Dogs that test negative for DEA 1.1 are considered universal blood donors and their blood can help both DEA 1.1 positive and negative dogs. Breeds likely to be DEA 1.1 negative include greyhounds, boxers, German shepherds, dobermans, pit bulls and Irish wolf hounds. Dogs that test positive for DEA 1.1, such as labs and golden retrievers, can only donate blood to other DEA 1.1 positive dogs.

Requirements to Become a Donor

Albuquerque’s Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers always seeks animal blood donors to ensure that blood products are available when needed. They have the following requirements:

Dogs                                                                               Cats
Age: 2-6 years                                                                 Age: 2-6 years
Weight: 50 pounds or more                                        Weight: 10 pounds or more
Current on vaccinations                                               Current on vaccinations
Heartworm negative and on preventative care       FeLV/FIV/FIP negative
No on-going health problems                                     No on-going health problems
No previous history of transfusion therapy             No previous history of transfusion therapy
Pleasant disposition                                                     Pleasant disposition and strictly indoor cats

The Procedure

Your dog must first be tested to determine blood type and check for disease. Once he’s cleared for donating, he’ll be lightly sedated. A small area is shaved on his neck and a needle is inserted into his jugular, the large vein in his neck. After the blood is collected, your dog will receive water, treats and food. His system immediately starts replacing the blood; his blood volume will be back to normal in a day and his red blood cell count in two to three weeks. It’s best to restrict your dog from any strenuous activity for 24 hours after donating blood. Your dog will be asked to donate blood every six to eight weeks.

What Happens to the Blood?

Your dog donates whole blood and the blood bank separates it into two components—red blood cells and plasma. Vets use red blood cells to help dogs survive trauma and surgery, and to treat anemia, blood loss due to cancer and the inability to produce enough red blood cells due to disease. Plasma helps blood clot and is used to treat hemophilia and other inherited blood diseases and bleeding from liver disease or the ingestion of rodent poison. Depending on the amount of blood taken, your dog’s donation will help between two to four dogs.

Benefits for Animal Blood Donors

At Albuquerque’s Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers, blood transfusions save animals from life-threatening situations such as car accidents, poisonings and chronic illness.  Aside from helping save lives, owners of animal blood donors receive the following benefits:

Free annual vet exams.
Free blood analysis. Canine preliminary testing consists of  Ehrlichia, heartworm, Babesia gibsoni and Babesia canis for some breeds, CBC full chemistry panel and blood typing. Feline preliminary testing includes FeLV/FIV, Mycoplasmosis, CBC full chemistry panel and blood typing.
Free units of blood for each unit donated available throughout your pet’s life.
Free gift bag of goodies for your dog or cat.

Caring for Older Dogs

The life expectancy of dogs has expanded. Most dogs in the 1970s lived 7 or 8 years; today dogs can live 10 to 15 years. Dogs have different needs as they age. Understanding the changes your dog experiences will help you provide the best care for your best friend.

Senior Dog?

Like humans, dogs age differently. Breed, weight, nutrition and vet care affect a dog’s life. In general, small dogs under 20 pounds may not show any signs of aging until they’re 12; 50 pound dogs won’t seem old until they’re 10, and large dogs reach old age at 8 or 9.

Signs of Aging

Most older dogs will experience these changes:

• Slowing down. You may notice your dog takes longer to stand up and walks up stairs slowly. Many dogs experience arthritis pain as they age. You vet can advise you on ways to eliminate your dog’s discomfort and help his mobility.

Graying hair and drying skin. Changes in the coat and skin are a natural part of aging. You may notice that your dog’s muzzle looks gray or that he has a dull coat. Brushing frequently and massaging your dog will keep the circulation flowing and improve the condition of the coat. Larger breed dogs may develop callouses on their elbows because they lay down more often.

• Brittle nails and thick foot pads. Since older dogs may not be wearing their nails down through exercise, you should clip them more often.

• Hearing and vision loss. You may not notice that your dog has hearing loss until it’s advanced. Dogs may stop following vocal commands or appear aggressive because they’re startled when they don’t hear people approaching them. If your dog has a cloudy eye, he probably has sclerosis. Many people confuse this condition with cataracts but dogs with sclerosis can typically see well.

• Sensitivity to temperature changes. As dogs age, they don’t regulate their body temperature as well. A dog that tolerated hear or cold well when younger, may have comfort issues now.

Behavioral Changes in Older Dogs

Stress will make these changes worse:

• Separation anxiety. Your dog may whine, bark, become destructive or potty inside when you’re out.

• Sensitivity to noise. Sounds such as thunder that never bothered your dog before now make him scared.

• Vocalizing. Your dog may whine, howl or bark due to hearing loss or separation anxiety.

• Aggression. Older dogs don’t like change and may have a reaction to new people. Aggression can also be caused when your dog is in pain or experiencing a drug reaction.

• Confusion, roaming in circles, disorientation, withdrawing. Your dog may have cognitive dysfunction syndrome which affects the brain and nervous system.

Signs of Disease

As dogs age, their likelihood for developing a disease increases. Their immune system is not as strong as it was, making dogs more susceptible to illness.

• Obesity. Older dogs need approximately 20 percent fewer calories; they also tend to exercise 10 to 20 percent less. Since obesity is the number one health problem in older dogs, consider food that’s high in fiber and low in fat.

Increased thirst and urination; increased appetite without weight gain. Signs of diabetes; take your dog to the vet for testing.

• Tiring more quickly. If you dog is out of breath with minimal exercise, he may have cardio-pulmonary problems and should be checked by your vet.

• Coughing and excessive panting. Signs of heart disease; take your dog to the vet.

• Bleeding gums, loss of teeth, bad breath. Periodontal disease affects many older dogs; check with your vet for treatment.

Help Your Older Dog

We all age, and while it may be difficult seeing your dog move more slowly, there are things you can do to make him more comfortable.

Take your older dog to the vet at least once a year.

• Walk your dog. If your dog has stiff joints, try taking two shorter walks rather than one long one.

• Provide your dog with a bed or two. He’ll appreciate having a soft surface for naps.

• Groom your dog more often. He will love the attention and brushing will stimulate the skin.

• Reduce calories. It may be hard to say no when your dog begs for food but your dog’s obesity can cause serious health problems.

Legal Disclaimer

This post is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for a vet’s professional diagnosis and treatment.