June 2012

Features

Free-Ranging Dogs Give Us Insight on Canine Protein Preferences

Anyone who lives with dogs is aware that dogs are almost universally attracted to meaty foods and treats. Trainers use these preferences to select different levels of “treat value” for dogs and almost invariably, the treats that are of highest value to a dog are those that have a meaty texture, smell, and (we assume) taste. Are these preferences a vestige of the dog’s predatory past? If so, are such preferences something that dogs are born with, or is there a strong influence of learning and environment on our dogs’ apparent taste for meat?

Food Bloat in Dogs

Luckily for your canine friend, food bloat is relatively simple to treat and rarely results in long-term consequences. Your veterinarian will likely x-ray your dog’s abdomen to ensure that this is just gastric dilatation and not a GDV, which calls for immediate surgery to untwist the twisted stomach and/or bowel and perhaps surgically remove damaged intestine.

The Trail Runner System: Whole Dog Journal's Review

The Trail Runner System allows you to walk or run with a natural arm and shoulder motion – something that is perhaps most appreciated by older athletes who exercise through the aches of age and former injuries – while maintaining control of your dog. You can even drink from the water bottle, take photos with your cell phone, or pick up dog poop without losing control of your dog or getting tangled in the leash.

Dog Has Bad Breath?

The odor was there. Not overpowering, but “off” and definitely not normal. My six-year-old Bouvier Atle’s breath simply never, ever stank. Yet here it was. Some kind of skanky odor emanating from his sweet little face. Was it time for a dental cleaning?

The Allure of the Lure

Luring means using something the dog wants, most often a food treat, to draw her or guide her into doing what you want her to do. With her nose glued to the treat like a magnet, you can lure her to sit, lie down, jump up on a surface, spin or twirl, and perform a very long list of additional behaviors by slowly moving the treat in the appropriate direction. Hence the “allure of the lure” – you can use this training technique to easily entice your dog to perform a behavior that you can then reward and reinforce.

Canine Influenza: Is Dog Flu Something to Worry About?

Symptoms of dog flu include sneezing, coughing, runny nose, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. About 80 percent of the dogs who are infected with the virus will have only mild symptoms, with about 20 percent of infected dogs showing no symptoms whatsoever (these dogs, however, are still able to spread the virus). Most dogs recover in two to three weeks.

How Long is Too Long to Leave A Dog Alone?

Few people today would admit to leaving their dogs home alone for 24 or 48 hours or more, but leaving the dog home for 10 to 12 hours is not at all uncommon – and questioning this practice can sometimes lead to social ridicule. If an owner decides that after being gone all day, she’d rather not confine her dog or leave him alone for an additional few hours in the evening, she might be met with less-than-understanding responses. “You’re not coming out because you want to be home with your dog? That’s crazy! You’re letting your dog control your life!”

How to Potty Train A Dog

Preventing your dog from pottying in the wrong place is the first and most important housetraining task. Since most of us cannot keep our eyes on our dogs every minute, having a safe, comfortable confinement area is key to housetraining success. Most dogs naturally avoid going potty in their sleeping areas, so confining your dog in a small enough area that is more bed-like than room-like not only prevents unwanted accidents but also will help him develop bowel and bladder control.

Dog DNA Tests: Mixed Results

While some of the early mixed-breed identification tests used a blood sample, all of the products on the market today extract DNA from cells swabbed by the dog’s owner from the inside of the dog’s cheek. The swab is sealed in a container provided by the company and mailed off to the company’s lab. There, technicians extract your dog’s DNA from the swab, and use computers to identify and compare specific bits of it to bits taken from dogs of known lineage.

12 Tips to Avoiding Trips to the Emergency Vet

Every year, thousands of dogs are treated in emergency veterinary hospitals across the country. I know; I spent nearly a decade as an emergency-room veterinarian. I always found it interesting that many of the most common injuries and illnesses I saw in emergency practice were also some of the easiest to prevent! Many of these problems can be avoided with a little common sense and preventative medicine.

How to Treat Dog Wounds

Dogs are naturally curious, physical, and exuberant, and while we love this about them, these characteristics can also lead to unintentional injuries. These can run the gamut from very minor to severe and life-threatening. How do you know the difference? When is it time to consult a veterinarian and when can you manage a wound at home? Here are some steps for assessing wounds and treating them.

Foxtail Grass: Awns of Destruction for Western Dogs

The seeds of the nasty foxtail grass seem to have a special affinity for invading dogs’ bodies. The three most common hazards of foxtails to dogs are these: They get sniffed into dog noses, work their way into dog ears, and lodge between dog toes. Each of these sites is a mere port of entry for these sturdy seeds; once inside, they start a relentless crawl forward, traveling deeper into a dog’s tissue with every passing hour. They are sometimes found in exploratory surgeries years afterward; the durable seed and awn fibers resist breaking down in the body as if they were made of plastic.

Can Dogs Get Tetanus?

Fortunately, tetanus is relatively rare in dogs. Horses and humans are more susceptible to tetanus, while cats are highly resistant. Dogs fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum – but it does happen. As an emergency veterinarian, I have personally seen two cases of tetanus in dogs and read of several others.

Dog Boarding and Training Facilities

Perhaps you’re thinking about taking your adolescent out-of-control dog, or your dog with significant behavior issues, to a board-and-train (B&T) facility, where they will work with her for a few short weeks and hand her back all perfect. Right? Wait a minute. What sounds like a perfect solution to your dog’s behavior and training challenges is fraught with danger. Remember that something that sounds too good to be true, often is.

How to Prepare for An Emergency Animal Hospital Visit

If you have a dog, emergencies are inevitable. Dogs are prone to injuries, ingestion of toxic substances, and illnesses. Are you prepared in an emergency? Do you know what to do and what not to do? After nine years as an emergency veterinarian, I’ve seen it all! Here are my top tips for helping your emergency-room veterinarian help your dog.