March 2015

Small But Mighty

Have you experienced that moment when your family has been reduced for whatever reason from multiple dogs to just one, and you keep thinking you need to check the back door to let someone or other back inside? You get used to the rolling thunder of dog paws and canine vocalizations when the doorbell rings, and a circus-like amount of hubbub first thing in the morning when you head to the door to let the pets out – and then suddenly there is just one calm dog, politely following you around. It’s weird, but at the moment, given that I’ve only loaned out my second dog (not lost him), I’m enjoying it.   More...

Will Your Allergic Dog Benefit From a Food-Elimination Trial?

Subscribers Only — When your dog itches, you know it. That relentless licking, scratching, chewing – anything he can do to relieve the itch. He seems obsessed, and he probably is. Whatever you do, don’t ignore this problem (as if you could!). Incessant scratching and chewing may indicate food allergy. He’ll constantly tear into any place on his body that he can reach with his teeth or claws. You may see ugly hair loss. Until you find the cause, this problem will go from bad to worse.   More...

Commercial Foods For Allergic Dogs

Subscribers Only — Owners who don’t feel capable of or willing to carry out a rigorous trial may prefer to try a commercial dog food that has been processed in such a way as to render the proteins hypoallergenic, or one designed specifically for use in an elimination diet. Chances are good that your veterinarian carries at least one of these types of food. Some are limited-ingredient diets, available over the counter; others are prescription diets. All cost around 30 percent more than even the best nonprescription dog foods.   More...

Trials Are Worth The Effort

Subscribers Only — Allergies can literally cause a dog to tear his hair out, setting acute moist dermatitis (“hot spots”) into motion and triggering fits of paw-licking and head-shaking (caused by allergy-induced ear inflammation and infection). When this happens, many owners head to their veterinarians and beg for corticosteroids, antibiotics, pain-relievers, you name it; if it relieves the dog’s agony, they want it.   More...

It’s in the Blood

Subscribers Only — When it comes to that most primitive part of us, there’s nothing as basic as blood. In virtually every culture across the planet, blood represents the stream of life itself. Because its looping path always leads it back to the heart – that great repository of emotion – blood has come to represent all that truly matters to the human spirit: passion, heritage, mortality, atonement, commitment, sacrifice, even our connection to the divine.   More...

You’ve Got Chemistry

Subscribers Only — Here are some of the values you might find on your dog’s chemistry panel, or “chem screen,” and what they may indicate.   More...

High-Tech Dogs

Subscribers Only — My Border Collie Duncan solves all 10 of his interactive puzzles within five minutes; it takes me longer than that to fill them with treats! So when CleverPet announced its Kickstarter campaign for the development of a next-generation pet-learning console, I signed right up. Thirteen-year-old Duncan has pretty severe arthritis so I’m constantly searching for low-activity ways to engage him. This eagerly anticipated device features three durable yet sensitive touch pads that interactively light up and are designed to be touched by a dog’s nose or paw, triggering food to be dispensed. CleverPet adjusts learning levels based on your dog’s performance, which can be monitored through the website and an app-based program.   More...

Should You Race to Take Your Dog to the Emergency Vet Clinic?

Subscribers Only — If you live with and love dogs, chances are at some point you’ve found yourself at a familiar – and often excruciating – tipping point. “I just noticed (fill-in-the-blank),” you say to yourself. “Should I panic?” The standard response that everyone gives – and for good reason – is this: When in doubt, see your vet. And of course, you should, if you suspect something is truly amiss. But you can’t go running to a medical professional every time you notice something weird, especially if it’s more an issue of benign bemusement rather than an out-and-out emergency. Problem is, you don’t know what you don’t know: Something that may seem really strange could be absolutely nothing, and a seemingly subtle symptom could be a harbinger of something truly disastrous. If only dogs came with an owners’ manual – or a customer-care line!   More...

True Emergencies

Subscribers Only — Dogs can be real stoics, and it can be hard to tell if they are in pain or feeling poorly. Your best bet is to pay close attention to your dog when she is healthy – note subtle things, like how she holds her body, the quality of her coat, the vibrancy in her eyes – so you can notice when she’s not feeling her best.   More...

How to Stop Your Dog’s Annoying Humping Behavior

Our 13-year-old Pomeranian, Scooter, loves to hump his purple stuffed bear. We find it harmless, so we don’t try to stop him, though, honestly, he doesn’t get that many opportunities to practice the behavior. His intimate bear-time is limited because our Corgi, Lucy, shreds stuffed animals in the blink of an eye, so Scooter only gets his bear in my training center office when Lucy isn’t around, which isn’t all that often. But there are many dogs whose mounting behavior is more disturbing – because it embarrasses their humans, offends observers, or worse, distresses the person or other animal who is the unfortunate humpee of the moment.   More...

In Contrast: Is Your Dog a Frequent Victim?

You may have noticed that occasionally a dog comes along who seems to have a “hump me” sign on his back. Particularly obvious at dog parks, where multiple dogs are free to engage unrestrained in assorted behaviors at will, this poor dog is approached time and again by various dogs who are intent on a round of mounting fun. You might also see it in dog training classes where supervised free-play is allowed, and at poorly run doggie daycare centers. What is it about these victim dogs that attracts other dogs to them? And if you happen to own one, what do you do to protect your dog from the unwelcome advances of other dogs?   More...