September 2014


Getting Rid of Fleas in the House

The job of getting rid of fleas in your house or yard really consists of taking on both the adults and all the other flea life stages. One could think of the non-adult phases of the flea as another species of pest, given that each stage has differing life needs and vulnerabilities. Because flea eggs, larvae, and pupae all have the potential for turning into fleas, destroying the insects in the non-adult stages is critical to preventing the population from repeatedly bouncing back into your and your dog’s lives.

Fitness for Aging Dogs

Many clients bring their aging dogs to me for private sessions because they have started having difficulty or reluctance with – or can no longer perform – normal life activities like climbing stairs, getting into the car, or walking on smooth flooring. These problems are often related to muscle atrophy in the hind end. Once the dogs get the all-clear from their veterinarian, we work on fitness exercises designed to rebuild hind-end strength; we increase the difficulty of the exercises slowly over time until more function returns.

Over-the-Counter Flea Medicine for Dogs

Last month, in “Bravecto, Nexgard, or Other: Which Oral Flea Control Should You Use?,” we described the five oral medications that veterinarians may prescribe to stop or prevent a dog’s flea infestation. This month, we’ll describe the four oral medications that kill fleas on dogs and are available to owners as over-the-counter (OTC) products – no prescription necessary. As with last month’s installment in this mini-series on flea-control options, the descriptions of these products should not be taken as a recommendation or endorsement.

Do Electric Shock Collars Harm Dogs?

Do you use an underground electric shock fence to contain your dog? Are you considering having one installed? I hope reading this will change your mind. More and more neighborhoods prohibit or limit the useof fencing, and as this occurs, the use of these non-visible electric shock perimeters has drastically increased. Manufacturers and retailers claim that these products are humane, effective means by which to safely confine dogs without disrupting the aesthetics of neighborhoods.

Training Tips from the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

When dogs fail to correctly perform cued behaviors in new settings, or in the face of distractions, they aren’t being stubborn, willful, or dominant, as many people believe. Rather, they are struggling to meet the demands placed upon them in that moment. In order for a dog to truly know a behavior – for it to become fluent – we must invest the time to train for the many types of situations we are likely to encounter with our dogs.

Soft-Sided Dog Crates: Best and Worst of 2017

Not that long ago, dog carriers were typically limited to bulky plastic or wire crates that were cumbersome to move from place to place. Today, dog owners have many choices when it comes to portable kennel options, including a growing market of lightweight, folding soft crates that are easy to transport from place to place. The crate is a useful training tool to help teach housetraining skills, manage over-arousal, and protect against unwanted destruction when owners are unable to supervise an untrained dog of any age.

Laser Therapy Treatments for Arthritic Dogs

Arthritis pain, which affects four out of five older dogs, interferes with everything that makes life special for our best friends. Wouldn’t it be great if we could turn the clock back? Technology may not yet offer a time machine, but it can seem that way for dogs treated with modern therapies that make them feel like puppies again. Would laser treatments, shock wave therapy, Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequency therapy, or other innovative treatments help your dog jump onto the sofa or run and play the way she used to?

Are Canines Cognitive?

In our apparently endless quest to prove our species superior to all others who walk this earth, even as those other dominoes fall, we have long clung stubbornly to the belief that dogs and other species were seriously deficient in the cognition arena. Defined as “perception, reasoning, understanding, intelligence, awareness, insight, comprehension, apprehension, discernment” (and more, depending on the source), cognition also includes the ability to grasp and apply concepts, and “theory of mind” – the ability to recognize and understand the thoughts of others.

Great Solutions for Dog Crate Problems

I first used a crate as a canine management tool in the early 1980s. I was a little skeptical of the concept (“Put my dog in a box? What?”), but within two days was completely convinced that this newly touted training tool had merit for both housetraining puppies and as a “safe space” for older dogs. Decades have passed since then, and I continue to believe that crates are a valuable tool for successful dog keeping.

Put A Stop to Door-Darting Dogs

Door darting is an impulse-control problem. It’s also incredibly self-rewarding. Remedying the issue requires teaching the dog to exhibit self-control around an open door, while employing diligent management to prevent the rehearsal of unwanted behavior. The following tips can help.

Earth-Friendly Dog Poop Disposal

Lots of us go out of our way to look for biodegradable dog waste bags. After all, we want to be earth-friendly in as many ways as possible. Who wants to think of their dog’s poop festering away in a traditional polymer bag designed to survive a zombie apocalypse? Unfortunately, the term “biodegradable” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Truth is, when it comes to dog waste bags, it’s not easy to be as “green” as we’d like to be.

Super Durable Dog Balls for Fetching and Beyond

The balls that rose to the top of our review are ones that survived months of playing by fairly aggressive chewers without much more than cosmetic damage – and that the dogs themselves returned to play with again and again. There were a few balls included in our review that the dogs almost never selected to play with; for some reason, they were less engaging than the others.

Stop Your Dog's Demanding Behavior

A dog’s demand behavior is her effort to communicate her wants and needs to you. Her demand behaviors increase in intensity because she is frustrated when she doesn’t get what she wants. Imagine how frustrating it would be to keep asking for something and have someone deliberately ignore your requests. No wonder she gets frustrated! When you think about it, it is a true marvel of our unique relationship with the canine species that they are able to communicate so effectively with us, and we with them.

Pet Euthanasia Gone Wrong

When the vet injected the drug into the muscle of Yogi’s hind leg, my cat screamed the loudest meow I’ve ever heard and, with a power he hadn’t displayed in years, thrust himself backward almost off the end of the table. The vet said, “You can let him go.” What?! I heard the words but my protective instinct kicked in; I was not going to let my frail friend crash to the floor! I was able to prevent him from falling off the table, but then he launched himself forward and upward out of my arms, flailing toward the wall. The vet and the tech stepped away from Yogi, as I flew to the other side of the table, catching him mid-air so he wouldn’t crash into the wall. They then excused themselves and left the room!

The "Art" of Euthanasia

In more than 30 years as a veterinarian, I have heard of a number of accounts similar to Jill Breitner's pet euthanasia horror stories. In my career, though, I have dedicated my practice to using only low-stress techniques, especially at the end of life. This is the art of euthanasia.