We hope you’ll never need the information in this article – but if your dog is doused with chemicals or survives a fire, these tips can help prevent long-term health damage. Of course, if you are aware your dog has been exposed to toxic smoke, dust, or chemicals, the first thing you want to do (after taking care of yourself and the rest of your human family) is to wash him as thoroughly as possible. Don’t forget to wash your dog’s collar, leash, and any bedding that he may have come in contact with prior to the bath.
A healthy home is a happy home. We can all agree on that. How can you make your home healthier for you and your animal companions? We can tell you 20 ways, right off the top of our heads. We’ll divide our suggestions into four areas: Cleanliness, Diet, Environment, and Lifestyle.
While we often consider our homes as sanctuaries – places of peace and safety – we may actually be living in danger zones filled with toxic airborne chemicals. Many of the building materials and housekeeping substances we use in our homes are air pollutants, capable of causing acute and long-term damage to our health, as well as the health of our dogs. We are only rarely aware of indoor air pollutants in the air we breathe – and many people are completely unaware of the potential damage that diminished air quality has on the health of every animal (including us) breathing that air.
You’re lucky. You have a fabulous dog park in your community. But so far, you’ve hesitated to turn your beloved buddy loose with the pack of rowdy canines you’ve seen playing there. Or maybe your dog is so unruly that you’ve worried about your ability to get him back on leash once he’s been emancipated. Here are some tips to help you decide whether you two are ready to lose the leash at the park.
Regular walks on leash don’t even come close to addressing the exercise needs of most dogs. The result is an exacerbation of canine behavior problems including aggression due to lack of socialization, to destructive behavior, hyperactivity, and separation anxiety. The best solution to the “place to run” dilemma is the dog park. More and more, savvy community leaders are building fenced areas where dogs and their owners are encouraged to run, play, and socialize together. The concept has caught on and is spreading.
There are seat belt laws in most states now, and young children are legally required to be restrained in safety seats in cars in all states. But nowhere is there a law requiring dogs to be safely contained in vehicles. Those that do only address restraint for dogs in the back of open pick-up trucks. (And even when dogs are safely restrained in the back of a truck, the potential for the dog to be severely injured in an accident is great.
Fortunately, when both a disease and its conventional treatments are objectionable, complementary and alternative medical practitioners can be of tremendous value. As with practitioners who treat humans, veterinary practitioners offer a range of helpful adjuncts to, and replacements for conventional treatments. For instance, in the case of heartworm, a conservative adjunctive therapy may consist of herbal and nutritional support for dogs that are also undergoing conventional drug treatments for heartworm. On the more radical end of the scale, some holistic practitioners offer a complete alternative to drugs that prevent or treat heartworm infections.
We bought Belle as a puppy from a friend, Linda, who is also a very good and conscientious breeder. A couple of Linda’s dogs were notorious for eating sticks and/or other assorted objects. Belle’s mother, in fact, had to have a quarter and a dime surgically removed from her stomach. We like to call that the “not-so cost-effective money retrieval” system! (Linda is also an accountant.) So, when Belle started finding assorted objects to munch on as well, we joked about it. But we stopped laughing in July of 1996, when she swallowed (whole) a pair of my nephew’s underpants.
Heartworms are horrible. No arguments there. Anyone who has ever known or had an infected dog knows how slowly but surely the parasites can sap the animal’s strength and vitality. Going through the treatment to kill the heartworm is no walk in the park either. The “cure” is quite capable of killing the dog in the process of trying to save its life. But some people just don’t like the idea of giving the dog the chemical preventatives that can keep the pooch safe from infestation. And some dogs are sensitive to the drugs, reacting to each dose with vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms.
Two stunning standard poodles, one pure white, the other charcoal gray, were wandering loose on Santa Cruz’s Seacliff Beach in early June, not far from a busy road. Jeff, the concerned citizen who corralled the dogs, was dismayed to find they had no tags, so he was unable to return them to their home. He put a “Dogs Found” ad in the newspaper and kept the dogs for three days, sure that someone would be looking for such wonderful animals, but no one called. With some ambivalence, he loaded them into his car and delivered them to the nearby Santa Cruz SPCA. They are obviously well-loved dogs, he reassured himself. They will be safe; the owner will come for them.
Manufacturers of deworming products have gone out of their way to let us know that, left unchecked, these pesky parasites can plague dogs that are in poor health, rob them of nutrition, attack vital organs, and cause unthriftyness, illness, and even death. If a dog's health is poor and he is hosting an uncontested parasite population, all sorts of bad things can happen. It is important to protect our dogs from parasites, but as it turns out, protection largely follows as a result of building the dog's overall health. Toxic dewormers may be unnecessary to dislodge what few worms a strong and healthy animal might have.