How to Have the Strongest Bond With Your Dog

How to Encourage the Strongest Bond With Your Dog

Have you ever noticed the love affair that some dogs and their owners have? I’m not talking about a clingy, neurotic, unhealthy dependency but rather a bond in which dogs are oblivious to everyone and everything but their owners. They’re the dogs and owners who only have eyes for each other, the pooches who think their owners hang the moon. Do you wish your dog swooned over you-instead of dashing off to chase bugs or eat poop?

What separates the swooners from their unruly counterparts is a strong human-canine bond built on a foundation of mutual love and respect. Everything about dog training and human-canine interactions comes down to the relationship you have with your dog. Bonding takes time and work. A strong bond doesn’t necessarily develop overnight. Falling in love with your dog at first sight is pretty common, but loving a dog isn’t the same thing as sharing a connection. Think of it this way: you may love your in-laws or siblings, but you’re bonded with your best friend. You spend time together-laughing, goofing off, sharing your deepest feelings, and a million other things. You relish and look forward to being together because you enjoy your relationship.

Love and bonding connect you to your dog. Developing that relationship is an ongoing process so you may experience different levels of bonding. There’s nothing wrong with having a different relationship with each dog in a multiple dog household. We have dogs that we love, and then we have dogs that connect to us on a much deeper level. These dogs seem to read our minds and think we are the best thing since chopped liver. They become a part of us. They make life better than it ever could have been without them. Some people call these dogs “heart dogs” or “soul dogs.”

Why Bonding with Your Dog Is Important

Owners who form a strong bond with their dogs are more inclined to train them, and trained dogs are more apt to be included in family activities such as hiking, camping, jogging, swimming, and so forth. After all, isn’t that why people have dogs-to share their life? Research by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy indicates that owners who are emotionally invested in their dog’s happiness are less likely to surrender him to a humane society or give him away.

Building a One-on-One Relationship with Your Dog

A key component of a strong canine-human bond is fostering one-on-one relationships. With other dogs or toys around, it can be difficult for your dog to focus on the growing friendship between you. Your dog need not focus on you 24 hours a day-after all; he’s a dog, not a robot! -but devoting time to just the two of you is crucial for this kind of connection. It may sound silly, but when a dog sees you as the dispenser of all things fun in his life he’s more inclined to want to be with you. He still gets to play with his favorite toy or canine buddies and do normal dog stuff such as sniffing, playing, and rolling in something stinky. However, making your time together the most exciting aspect of his world is a powerful motivator for a close bond.

It’s an ideology that many trainers pooh-pooh, feeling it’s unnecessary to be ground zero for your dog’s fun. Yet millions of dogs end up in shelters every day for being destructive, disobedient, or running off and not coming when called. If your dog wants to be with you, looks to you for direction in his everyday interactions, thinks you rule the universe, and comes when he’s called, what’s wrong with that? If the alternative to being discarded at a shelter is to make yourself the center of your dog’s world, maybe it isn’t such a ridiculous idea.

Reinforce Your Relationship with Your Dog

Simple everyday tasks and interactions with your dog such as feeding, walking, grooming, playing, snuggling, and loving words and touches are great ways to facilitate and strengthen the bonding process. These interactions teach him that your relationship goes beyond a 15-minute a day training session-it’s a 24/7 commitment. 

Spend a few minutes every day engaging and connecting with him, getting to know his behaviors and personality quirks, what he likes and dislikes. Is he keen on tummy rubs and snuggling? Does he love asparagus? Where’s his favorite spot to stretch out and daydream? What’s his favorite toy? Is he a loner? Social butterfly? Lover boy? 

Depending on your dog’s personality, temperament, and threshold for social interaction, he may enjoy activities such as walking in the park, hiking in the mountains, swimming in a lake, or riding in the car. But don’t just take him walking, hiking, or swimming; explore your surroundings together. Actively engage with him by exploring a new trail or praising him for finding a cool stick. Learn together how to bark, run, slide, and swim. Take him someplace new as often as possible, and let him know it’s okay to play. 

If your dog loves learning (as many do), training can be a wonderful way to bond. Teach him entertaining tricks such as waving, walking backwards, rolling over, speaking, and high-fiving. Grab a camera and teach him to “model” by posing on tree stumps, picnic tables, playground equipment, benches…whatever else you can find. Not only is training fun and interactive, but it also teaches him problem solving and body awareness and improves his fitness. 

Having fun simultaneously builds a strong bond and teaches trust. Let him know you have his back-no matter what-and you will never intentionally put him in harm’s way. Help him to be successful by always setting him up to succeed. This helps a fearful dog gain confidence, and helps a bored or energetic dog burn excess physical and mental energy and feel a little more fulfilled. 

Let him know how much you love him and how delighted you are that he’s yours. Show him it is you who is privileged to be sharing this journey together. Give your dog an environment of mutual love and respect and he’ll be less likely to wander off and find something more exciting like chasing squirrels, uprooting shrubs, or destroying every conceivable object within his reach. Be your dog’s best friend and biggest supporter, and a strong bond is inevitable.

An Ounce of Prevention: The Importance of Preventative Care for Dogs

Simple things like exercise can make a big difference in your dog's health.
Do you ever wonder if your life is destined for one veterinary bill after another?
I do! With five dogs and five cats, it seems I'm running to the veterinary clinic several times a month for everything from medications to sutures to acute lameness. Just when I think everything is under control – one of the dogs swallows a thumb tack. Or our "rescue" cat tears the cranial cruciate ligament in both his knees-requiring surgery to the tune of $3,000. Our bionic stray now has better knees than I do.

Americans spent an estimated $28 billion for veterinary expenditures in 2011, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, with $19.8 billion of the pie chart going to canine veterinary expenses. The AVMA estimated that dog owners spent on average $378 per year for veterinary care in 2011 – mainly for physical exams, vaccinations, drugs or medications (I spent that on my last visit!). However, the American Pet Products Association Inc., (APPA) estimates a 2013 figure slightly higher at $852, which includes routine veterinary care and surgical procedures.

Whether your own veterinary bills fall lower or higher than these averages, chances are you could save some money. Preventative care is key to reducing veterinary expenses.

To keep a leash on your veterinary costs, consider these 11 proactive steps:

  1. Feed Well-Balanced, Good-Quality Food 

    Good nutrition contributes to healthy skin, strong bones and ligaments, and optimum health and longevity. It allows your dog to maximize nutrients while eating less, so your wallet benefits too. Shelling out money for premium dog food is more expensive up front, but the long-term benefits are worth it since good nutrition can reduce diet-related veterinary bills. It's the easiest and least expensive way to reduce veterinary expenses.

  2. Limit Snacks

    Most pre-packaged dog snacks are not nutritionally complete and can unbalance a balanced diet. Limit treats to less than 10 percent of your dog's daily caloric intake so he doesn't gain weight.

  3. Keep Your Canine Fit and Trim

    This is a biggie! Exercise goes hand in hand with good nutrition. Studies indicate that keeping your dog at the right weight can increase his lifespan by nearly two years. Overweight dogs are subject to diabetes, heart and respiratory problems, arthritis, increased surgical risk, decreased immune function and increased damage to joints, bones, and ligaments.

  1. Spay or Neuter Your Dog

    The upfront cost is a bit spendy, but it will save you a bundle in the long run. Altering your dog decreases unwanted pregnancies in females and prostate issues in male dogs. Neutering usually decreases a male's tendency to roam, which, in turn, decreases the chances he will ransack trash cans – eating potentially harmful stuff such as rotting garbage, poisons, animal carcasses, and so forth. If your dog isn't roaming, he won't fight with other dogs, get lost, or, heaven forbid, get hit by a car. Plus, you'll be doing your part to help prevent pet overpopulation.

  2. Keep Parasite Prevention and Vaccines Current

    Internal and external parasites, such as fleas, ticks, and heartworms, and diseases like canine parvovirus, distemper, and hepatitis can wreak havoc with your pet's health. When left untreated, many diseases require intensive hospitalization treatment, which is a great deal more expensive than the cost of flea medication or vaccinations.

  3. Brush Your Dog's Teeth Daily

    Preventative care includes keeping your dog's teeth and gums clean and healthy. Daily brushing prevents tartar build up, which is the primary cause of periodontal disease—a progressive disease that can, in advanced cases, lead to decayed gums, infection, and liver, kidney and heart damage. The American Veterinary Dental Society estimates more than 80 percent of dogs develop gum disease by 3 years of age. Don't forget yearly professional dental cleanings for your dog. This helps to reduce or eliminate the need for advanced periodontal treatment, which can cost as much as $2,000.

  4. Schedule (and Keep!) Regular Veterinary Checkups

    Wellness exams are the cornerstone of preventative care. Preventative care – including dental cleaning, blood work, urinalysis, etc.,helps to detect diseases early on when they are likely to be easily treatable – thereby extending the quality of life before more expensive procedures become necessary.

  5. Groom Your Pet Weekly

    Hair and skin are reflective of nutritional health. Regular grooming helps to prevent hot spots, rashes, mats, and painful broken nails. Daily inspections of the ears, nose, mouth, teeth, and feet can help you spot minor issues before they escalate into potentially life-threatening and expensive medical problems.

  6. Dog-Proof Your Home and Yard

    Take a few minutes to store all medications and toxic products, such as herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, etc., as well as poisonous plants in a safe place. Keep cell phones, remote control, slippers, marbles, paper clips, thumb tacks, and so forth out of reach. Secure all fences and gates to be sure your dog can't escape and be injured by a car or attacked by other animals.

  7. Train Your Dog

    A trained dog is usually comfortable being handled. This allows the veterinarian to do many procedures, such as examining ears, feet, and teeth, and treating small cuts, removing stickers, and caring for wounds, safely.

  8. Consider Pet Insurance

    Pet insurance can act as a safeguard against the cost of unexpected illnesses and accidents.

Canine Scent Marking: What’s An Owner To Do About Urine Marking?

While there is much experts do not yet know about the intricacies of canine urine marking, they do have a pretty good idea of why it happens—and how to manage it. Primarily, dogs who mark are "branding" or "staking their claim" to what they believe is their territory. When dogs hikes up their leg on a tree or fence… or even your shoes or purse, the dog is saying, "This is mine." It's the same behavior that compels many dogs to sprinkle their urine all around their yard or up and down the neighborhood.

Dogs don't "mark" out of spite. They don't think, "My mom left me home today, so I think I'll pee on the furniture AND her new purse!" Dogs urine mark both indoors and outdoors for two primary reasons: to define and redefine territory or secondary to anxiety issues, according to Alice Moon-Fanelli, Ph.D., certified applied animal behaviorist at Animal Behavior Consultations. Territorial marking and anxiety, however, are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Anxiety related issues can include:

  • Separation anxiety
  • A new pet in the household
  • Conflicts with other pets or people in the household
  • A new baby, boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, relative, etc., living in the house
  • The departure of a baby, friend, relative, etc., from the house
  • An unfamiliar dog urinating in your dog's yard
  • New objects, such as luggage or furniture, in the house that have unfamiliar smells or another animal's scent

Dogs who urine mark may do so in a variety of situations, such as while on walks in the neighborhood or at dog parks. Some dogs, although not all, mark both in their own home and outdoors. Some male dogs mark only when in the presence of female dogs—especially if they're in heat—as a way of impressing a female. Some females mark as a form of competition. Some male dogs mark only when interacting with other male dogs—usually rival males. Many dogs never mark in their own home but will mark while at unfamiliar places, such as the veterinary clinic or while visiting a friend or family member's home. That one's embarrassing, I know. It happened to me. My 5-year-old intact show dog hiked up his leg on a friend's Christmas tree.

Urine Marking is Not House-Soiling

House soiling or submissive/excitement urination and urine marking are completely different behaviors. If your dog is having potty accidents in the house, there are a few reasons why this might be happening:

  • He's not house trained (despite your best intentions).
  • He has a medical issue, such as incontinence (some medications can cause frequent urination).

If you're not sure what's going on, consider these pointers:

  • House-soiling generally includes a good deal of urine.
  • House-soiling may occur in corners or areas you're less likely to notice.
  • Submissive or excitement urination generally occurs during greetings, physical contact, scolding or punishment.
  • Urine marking generally involves small amounts of urine.
  • Urine marking usually involves dogs hiking their leg on vertical surfaces, such as walls or furniture.
  • Marking normally occurs in prominent locations.

What's An Owner To Do?

Urine marking is a normal form of communication among dogs, and they can gather a lot of information by sniffing another dog's pee. Therefore, it's important you not correct or scold your dog. He's not a hooligan or first-class criminal. Besides, this rarely works—even when he's caught in the act. Also, allow your dog some access to marking while outside in his yard or during walks. By preventing him from marking all together, you may frustrate him and actually exacerbate the situation.

While outdoor marking is usually not a problem for owners—indoor marking can be a deal breaker for the human-canine relationship. To discourage additional heinous crimes against your personal property, experts recommend a proactive approach with the following strategies:

  • Spay or neuter your dog. This will decrease or eliminate sexual motivation for marking but may not completely remedy any learned marking behaviors.
  • Clean up all signs of marking so your dog is not further stimulated to leave pee mail. Use products designed to eliminate urine odor. Do not use ammonia, as this can attract him back to the same spot to mark again!
  • Supervise your dog like a hawk when he's indoors. While typically tedious for most owners, supervision is critical—otherwise the problem is likely to continue.
  • Address the underlying anxiety or territorial insecurity that requires repeated marking from the dog's perspective. The reasons "why" can be complicated; consider the services of a certified animal behaviorist.
  • Consider using a synthetic hormone diffuser (DAP™ Dog Appeasement Pheromone), which can have a calming effect on dogs.
  • Consider medications, such as anti-depressants and selective reuptake inhibitors. Medication alone will not be effective, especially if the underlying causes have not been addressed.

Canine Parvovirus: What You Need To Know

Canine parvovirus is a devastating disease. Here is a common situation. Take for example Barbara Sorg. She thought she did everything right. So how did she end up with a $15,000 veterinary bill?

Despite taking every precaution, her litter of eight-week-old English Shepherd puppies was infected with the canine parvovirus (CPV). Each puppy spent varying amounts of time in the intensive care unit, with four of them surviving and one being humanely euthanized.

“I have no idea where they picked up the parvo,” Sorg says. “I assume it came in on one of the shoes of the many visitors, or the shoes of prospective puppy buyers, as the puppies were only on my property. It could have come in on one of my family members’ shoes, or it could have been brought to my yard by an infected raccoon. We will never know.”

Experts say CPV particles are literally everywhere in every environment – except those environments that are regularly disinfected (highly resistant to most cleaning products, contaminated areas, such as floors, walkways, driveways, crates, etc., can be disinfected with one part bleach to 30 parts water). Even then, sterile environments can be quickly re-infected, as the virus is shed in large amounts in the stools of infected dogs for several weeks following infection and can be carried on a dog’s feet and hair, as well as carried on shoes, clothing, tires, pet crates, and other animals.

To make matters worse, CPV is extremely hardy and viral particles are capable of surviving for months in the environment – even through winter.

A Bit of History on Parvo Virus

Nearly every mammal species, humans included, has its own parvovirus, with each virus being specific for which animal it can infect. For instance, the pig parvovirus will not infect people, the canine virus will not infect cats, the human virus will not infect dogs, etc.

The original canine parvovirus, discovered in 1967 and called CPV-1, did not represent much threat – except to newborn puppies. Experts believe it mutated from the already well-known feline panleukopenia virus (FPV).

Around 1978, a new variant, CPV-2 emerged and no dogs had immunity against the virus, which resulted in a CPV epidemic. By 1979, a second virus – CPV-2a – emerged, which seemed even more aggressive. In 2000, yet another virulent strain known as CPV-2c was discovered in Italy, with the first case in the United States being confirmed in 2006.

 

How Parvo Works

Infection occurs when a puppy or adult dog ingests the virus. To successfully infect a dog, CPV needs the help of rapidly dividing cells, with the first cells to be attacked being the lymph nodes of the throat.

After incubating there for a few days, the virus then spills into the bloodstream – traveling to the bone marrow and intestinal cells. Within the bone marrow, CPV destroys white blood cells – making it easier for viral particles to invade and wreak havoc on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. A dog’s intestines have rapidly dividing cells, and it’s here where CPV does the most damage – leaving a puppy’s intestines unable to absorb nutrients.

Eventually, bacteria, which is normally confined to the GI tract, spills out of the intestines and into the bloodstream – causing significant blood loss through diarrhea and widespread infection throughout the puppy’s body.

Symptoms of Parvo Virus in Dogs

Severe diarrhea (oftentimes odorous or bloody) and nausea (which further weaken a puppy’s system) are the primary symptoms. Lethargy, depression, loss or lack of appetite, vomiting, followed by a sudden onset of high fever may also occur. The typical incubation period is 3 to 7 days between initial infection and onset of first symptoms.

 

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Diagnosis of Canine Parvovirus

This highly contagious gastrointestinal disease normally affects puppies, but unvaccinated dogs of all ages are susceptible. For unknown reasons, some breeds are at a higher risk of infection including Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and German Shepherd Dogs.

Diagnosis is often suspected based on the history and physical examination. The diagnosis of canine parvovirus is confirmed with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test, with results being available in about 15 minutes.

Treatment of Canine Parvovirus

Treatment consists of intensive veterinary management including intravenous fluids to control dehydration, and antibiotics for infection, which requires a costly hospital stay. Oftentimes, the cost is prohibitive for many owners, with euthanasia being the alternative for severely affected puppies.
CPV is not always fatal, but those dogs who die usually do so as a result of dehydration and/or secondary bacterial infection.

New Protocol for Treatment of Canine Parvovirus

The typical cost for inpatient care ranges between $1,500 to $3,500, with an average hospital stay being 5 to 7 days. However, researchers at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital have developed an alternative treatment Рintensive at-home care at a fraction of the cost.

Living With a Canine Amputee

Tips to Living With a Dog After an Amputation

Seeing a 2- or 3-legged dog tugs at our heartstrings, but you might be surprised to learn that many of these dogs are perfectly happy and quite adept at doing everything their 4-legged counterparts can. In fact, some even do more-like Hooker, an Australian Shepherd who lost her right front leg to osteosarcoma when she was 5 years old. Within a month she was back working (on 3 legs); she even started duck herding competitions and placed second in the nation in intermediate sheep herding. Or how about Dallas, the 1-year-old Chihuahua who made a big recovery? Dallas was turned into the San Jose Animal Shelter with a broken front leg that eventually required amputation, but that doesn’t slow him down. He hikes 4 miles a day, runs with his Border Collie siblings, and has begun training for future agility competitions.

Dogs who are born with a disability or acquire it early in life don’t know they’re different. At least, that’s what we assume-some experts think that dogs quickly adapt physically and mentally in part because there is no stigma against disabilities in canine society. Most dogs are motivated to continue a relatively active lifestyle even after an injury and amputation.

Dogs can lose a limb for any number of reasons, including human cruelty or accidents such as getting hit by a car or falling from a balcony. Many cancers including osteosarcoma require limb amputation as part of treatment. In addition, some puppies are born with neurological disorders or congenital disabilities which require surgical intervention, and others are inadvertently injured by their canine mama shortly after birth.

While many dogs negotiate life quite well with a missing limb, amazing feats of engineering and adaptive technologies can now restore a dog’s mobility to a remarkable degree. Just like Colonel Steve Austin, The Six-Million Dollar Man, we can rebuild him…we have the technology! Ok, so your dog won’t have Austin’s speed or bionic limbs as strong as a bulldozer, but engineering and veterinary sciences are revolutionizing prosthetics for pets.

The use of prostheses in veterinary medicine is not a new concept, but until recently the majority of devices were designed and fabricated by human rehabilitation professionals. In the last 10 to 15 years, veterinary technology has made huge advances in canine prostheses. For instance, over the last 10 years veterinarians and engineers at North Carolina State University have pioneered a process called osseointegration during which a prosthetic limb fuses with an animal’s bone. The permanent implant allows the prosthetic limb to attach without chafing or irritation, giving the limb a more natural range of motion and increasing the likelihood that the canine patient will treat and use the prosthetic like an original appendage.

The Benefits of Prosthetics For Your Dog

A prosthetic isn’t just cool to look at-it serves a functional purpose, too. While many dogs adapt well to missing or nonfunctioning limbs, their success depends a lot on which limb (or limbs) are damaged and how much is lost. Dogs bear 60% of their weight on both shoulders and typically distribute it between two legs. Those dogs missing a front limb often appear to get along well by learning to “tripod” with their remaining front leg and hind legs. However, doing so places the dog’s weight on a single limb and shoulder which can cause additional health problems. The truth is, your “tripod” dog may not be doing as great as you think.

Short-and long-term consequences associated with this so-called overcompensation include injury in remaining limbs, wrist (carpus) or ankle (tarsus) instability or collapse, chronic pain in the back and neck, weight gain, and, in some instances, premature death. Super-stoic dogs are masters at concealing their pain so their aches and agony are likely to go unnoticed by owners. By distributing weight equally to both sides of the body with a prosthetic, 95% of pain associated with overcompensation can be relieved. Subsequently, a dog is better able to exercise and have a healthier life when aided by a stand-in limb.

Whether or not a dog is eligible for a prosthetic limb depends on the level of injury and how much bone remains, a fact which has veterinarians rethinking how amputations are performed. In the past, amputation often involved removing the entire limb. However, modern prosthetics require that 40 to 50% of front or hind limbs must be present for proper attachment. Without sufficient bone, it’s not possible to provide a prosthetic limb. In these instances dogs may benefit from adaptive devices such as a light-weight wheelchair or rolling harness.

How Flower Essences May Benefit Your Dog

Natural health remedies for dogs are perhaps one of the most fascinating yet frequently misunderstood topics of canine health. Much has been written about alternative therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic care, and supplements, with some veterinarians remaining skeptical about canine supplementation including herbal remedies and flower essences. However, as the demand for alternative medicine for humans grows, many owners are looking outside of the traditional approaches of veterinary care and exploring alternative treatments for their pets.

Consider, for instance, these staggering figures:

Benefits of Bach Flower Essences for Dogs

One of the more popular natural remedies available without a prescription is the Bach Flower Essences. In the 1930s, British physician Edward Bach isolated 38 flower essences with apparent healing effects, which he believed would remedy the negative states of mind. The seven primary mental states identified by Bach are:

  • Fear
  • Uncertainty
  • Insufficient interest in present circumstances
  • Loneliness
  • Oversensitivity to influences and ideas
  • Despondency or despair
  • Over-care for the welfare of other

Flower essences are "subtle liquid extracts, generally taken in oral form, which are used to address profound issues of emotional well-being, soul development, and mind-body health." It is easy to confuse flower essences with other herbal remedies, but there are significant differences. Flower essences and herbal remedies both share nature's purest ingredients, and they work with, rather than suppress, the healing process. Herbal products are made from many parts of a plant including root, stem, leaves, fruit, seed, and blossom, and with a variety of methods like infusion, decoction, and tincture.

Flower essences begin with an infusion in pure water for three hours in direct sunlight, and only with the freshest blossoms of the plant. Flowers that bloom when the sun is weaker are boiled in pure water for 30 minutes. These remedies are then diluted and become the mother tincture. Further dilutions produce stock dilutions and eventually Bach remedies.

Popular Flower Essence Remedies for Dogs

While flower essences are used to treat a variety of canine-related issues, some of the more common ailments include stress, behavioral or emotional issues, allergies, aggression, trauma, bruising, insect bites, and toxic exposure or ingestion.

Here are a few examples of the most common flowers essences, as well as a few you may not recognize:

  • Agrimony (a plant of the rose family) is used to restore inner peace.
  • Cherry Plum helps to remedy uncontrolled behavior or compulsiveness and helps restore control.
  • Heather restores inner tranquility and emotional self-sufficiency and may be helpful for abandoned dogs or dogs who have issues with being alone.
  • Holly restores inner tranquility and emotional self-sufficiency. May be helpful for dogs who resent a new pet in the household.
  • Honeysuckle helps to remedy homesickness and/or an inability to cope with present conditions by allowing a dog to be fully in the present and adjust to present circumstances. Issues often associated with abandoned animals or animals whose owners have died.
  • Impatiens, ironically, helps to restore patience and acceptance. (Characteristics that might need to be restored in dog owners, as well!)
    Lavender helps to restore calm and soothes a dog on a deeper, spiritual level.
  • Mustard remedies depression and gloominess and restores courage.
  • Olive essence relieves extreme physical symptoms of exhaustion and weariness-an issue for many abandoned dogs.
  • Sweet Chestnut remedies extreme mental and physical distress and restores endurance. Another issue often associated with abandoned dogs or dogs whose owners have died.
  • Walnut essence may be recommended for the treatment of animals who do not get along, experience car sickness, fear, grieving, lack of confidence, or have issues with kenneling.
  • White Chestnut remedies restlessness, preoccupation, and extreme mental agitation, and restores the ability to rest.

A Combination of Five with Bach's Rescue Remedy for Dogs

Bach's Rescue Remedy, perhaps the most widely recognized over-the-counter remedy, combines five flower essences-Star of Bethlehem, clematis, rock rose, impatiens, and cherry plum. Hence its catchy yet less popular name, Five-Flower Formula. Frequently recommended in any situation where a dog feels anxiety, stress, or fear, such as going to a new home, to the veterinarian's or groomer's, or during thunderstorms or fireworks. This gentle combination of essences takes the edge off the emotion, without dizziness, ataxia, or sleepiness. (Rescue Remedy also comes in a gel/ointment that can be applied to external wounds or burns to help healing and relieve pain.)

The MDR1 Gene in Dogs

Overview of the Multi-Drug Resistance (MDR1) Gene in Dogs

The multi-drug resistance (MDR1) gene commonly comes up as it is related to how some drugs affect dogs.

You may have a new dog and followed your veterinarians recommend for spaying and neutering. But what about the MDR1 gene? Has your dog been tested? If not, you will definitely want to ask your veterinarian about it – especially if your dog is one of the affected herding or hound breeds, as it can cause life-threatening complications.

In the grand scheme of things, the mutation wouldn't be a problem at all except for the use of certain therapeutic drugs in veterinary practice. While these drugs are very beneficial for most dogs, they can be dangerous and even lethal to those with the MDR1 mutation.

How the (MDR1) Gene Works

In “normal” dogs – those that do not carry the mutation – the multi-drug resistance (MDR1) gene encodes P-glycoprotein (P-gp) – a large transmembrane protein that is an integral part of the blood-brain barrier. P-gp is responsible for pumping drugs and other toxins out of the brain and back into the bloodstream where they can be safely metabolized.

A mutation in MDR1, known as MDR1-1Δ, causes defects in the coding of P-gp, and, as a result, affected dogs do not produce the complete protein therefore hindering their ability to pump out certain substances. Drugs then accumulate inside cells where they can reach toxic, life-threatening levels.

Dog Breeds Affected with MDR1

Since Dr. Mealey's discovery, researchers have identified more than 20 therapeutic drugs including loperamide (better known as Immodium, an over-the-counter anti-diarrhea agent) that are known substrates of P-glycoprotein and have been reported to cause problems in Collies, as well as nine related breeds known to carry the MDR1 mutation.

Those breeds being the Australian Shepherd, English Shepherd, German Shepherd Dog, McNab, Old English Sheepdog, Shetland Sheepdog, and two sight hounds—the Longhaired Whippet and Silken Windhound.

Interestingly, the allele that predisposes dogs to multi-drug sensitivity was not found in the Border Collie, Bearded Collie, or Australian Cattle Dog – three herding breeds that have reportedly exhibited ivermectin sensitivity.

Symptoms of MDR1 in Dogs

Symptoms of neurotoxicity may vary and can include:

  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Blindness
  • Coma
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Excessive salivation
  • Dilated pupils
  • Respiratory distress
  • Vomiting

Diagnosis of MDR1 Gene Issues in Dogs

In 2001, Katrina Mealey, DVM, Ph.D., of the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, identified the mutation in Collies. Since then, groundbreaking research has led to a host of scientific breakthroughs, including a simple cheek-swab test that can identify dogs as negative or positive for the mutation. The test is a bit costly at $70 but well worth the peace of mind it brings if your dog requires certain medications.

Three possible test results exist:

  • Normal / Normal (n/n): These dogs do not carry the mutation, will not pass the mutation to their offspring, and would not be expected to experience unexpected adverse drug reactions.
  • Mutant / Mutant (m/m): These dogs carry the mutation, will pass on the mutant gene to their offspring, and would be expected to experience toxicity after normal doses of certain drugs.
  • Mutant / Normal (m/n): These dogs carry the mutation, may pass on the mutant gene to their offspring, and may experience toxicity after normal doses of certain drugs.

Treatment of MDR1-1Δ Positive Dogs

What are the implications for your dog tests positive for the MDR1Δ

The short-term implications are that herding breed dogs (and mixed breeds) should not receive some drugs until they are tested (and are negative) for the mutation.

The most important drugs to be concerned about are ivermectin, the chemotherapeutic agents vincristine and doxorubicin, acepromazine (tranquilizer), and butorphanol (pain control). Ivermectin dosage used in commercial preparations such as Heartguard, Revolution, Interceptor, etc., are safe for dogs with the mutation, according to Mealey.

Interestingly, affected dogs can experience toxicity if they eat livestock feces from animals that have been treated with larger doses of ivermectin. Researchers say not all of the ivermectin is metabolized in the livestock. Those yummy “road apples” consumed by dogs carrying the mutation can cause neurotoxicity.

As research continues, it is highly likely that more pharmaceuticals will continue to be added to the existing list of problem drugs. However, a simple test will keep affected dogs safe and healthy for years to come.

Canine Scent Marking: Who’s Peeing Where – and Why?

Is There a Meaning When Your Dog Lifts His Leg?

It's jokingly referred to as pee mail, but canine urine marking is serious business for dogs. Sure, most of us go online daily to check our e-mails, but did you know dogs have a similar modus operandi?

It’s a protocol that pre-dates electronic gadgetry by hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Dogs don't need wifi, but "pee mail" is a highly complex and frequently misunderstood method of canine communication.

No doubt you've experienced some sort of scent marking behavior with your own dog. But do you know why he sniffs other dogs' urine? Or what tidbits of information he's finding when he sniffs where other dogs have peed?

Understanding Why Dogs Mark Territory with Urine

Dogs use urine to mark territory – to leave a message, so to speak. Then other dogs come along and check the message and may leave a message of their own by marking over or adjacent to the original spot. There's a lot of interesting information in these messages, and by checking "pee mail," a dog can determine the gender of the dogs who came before him and whether they are spayed or neutered. He can also tell if there's a female in heat or coming into heat, as well as determine the health, stress level, and social status of the dogs who have previously marked the spot.

Until recently little research has been done on scent marking, and much of what we thought we knew was based on empirical or anecdotal information and general observations. For example, many owners thought only male dogs marked and marking was all about status-related behavior. However, according to a 2011 study by scientists Anneke Lisberg and Charles Snowdon, both male and female dogs mark – but they do it in slightly different ways, and possibly for slightly different reasons. Dr. Lisberg observed and recorded dogs sniffing and urinating at the entrance to a popular park-documenting who urinated when and where, and which dogs participated in bum sniffing (scientifically known as anogenital investigation).

In brief, here's what she found:

  • Males and females were equally likely to urinate immediately upon entering the park, but males often urinated more frequently than females.
  • Intact males with high social order are most likely to over-mark (pee over another dog's scent).
  • Females spend a lot of time investigating the urine of unfamiliar male and female dogs; while males are primarily interested in what other male dogs peed on.

Surprisingly, she notes that females never over-marked, but rather "adjacent marked" or urinated nearby, as opposed to on top of the urine mark left by another dog.

I find this interesting because my five-year-old, spayed, female Australian Shepherd literally waits for my male dogs to urinate and then goes over and urinates on top of it. Most days she stands right behind the boys and can hardly wait for them to finish their business so she can mark on top of it. If they don't move fast enough, she's likely to piddle on top of them. She also possesses an uncanny acrobatic ability to stand on her front feet and hike her rear feet straight up a tree, bush or fence to urinate as high – if not higher than my leg-hiking males.

What does all this mean? I'm not sure. But I'm thankful the only marking that goes on at my house is outdoors, as it's not uncommon for dogs to mark indoors, outdoors, or both.

What's An Owner To Do About Canine Urine Marking?

There's still a lot we don't understand about canine marking. For instance, what is the distinction between over-marking and adjacent marking? Do they have different functions? Why do some dogs mark while others do not? What does it tell us about the dogs, their personalities, temperaments, and social status? Data also indicates that marking may be a strategy dogs use to avoid conflict. What does this say about dogs who are forced to greet other dogs on leash without the ability to urine mark?

What experts do know is that urine marking is a natural canine behavior. Research indicates it develops after sexual maturity, with 70 percent of urine marking dogs starting by 1 1/2 years of age, and 90 percent before 2 years old. If your dog's marking has become an issue – especially indoors – consider seeking the expertise of a knowledgeable dog trainer or behaviorist to determine what circumstances elicit the behavior and possibly counter-conditioning strategies, such as spaying or neutering.

How to Eliminate Fleas on Your Cat

Few things wreak havoc on summer fun like fleas. These tiny, nearly invisible creatures have been pestering cats and their owners since the beginning of time, or pretty close to it. One bite from these wingless blood suckers can cause itching for days, and where there is one flea, it's a safe bet there are plenty more looming in your carpet, furniture, bedding, and on your four-legged friends.

Worse yet, some cats are sensitive to fleas and can have an allergic reaction known as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), one of the most common skin diseases seen in small animal practices. One flea bite can make a cat's life (and yours!) miserable – plunging him into a vicious cycle of biting, scratching, and licking.

Despite the yuck factor, fleas (and ticks) are no joking matter, as they also can spread diseases to cats and humans. The most common risk is tapeworm, which can be transmitted when a cat swallows a flea. Tapeworms can also infect humans, especially kids, who inadvertently ingest a flea. About one-eighth inch long, slightly smaller than a sesame seed, and generally brown or black in color, the cat flea, in serious infestations, also can cause anemia, especially in kittens.

Cat Flea Basics

More than 2,200 species of fleas exist worldwide. In North America, the Ctenocephalides felis, also known as the cat flea, is the most common flea and is the flea responsible for also infecting dogs.

Fleas feeding on your cat inject saliva that contains different antigens and histamine-like substances, resulting in irritation and itching sensations that can range from mild to downright nasty. Cats with flea allergies usually itch over their entire bodies, experience generalized hair loss, and develop red, inflamed skin and hot spots. Frequently restless and uncomfortable, cats usually spend the majority of their time scratching, digging, licking, and chewing their skin. It's a vicious cycle and a miserable and agonizing situation for cats. Many cats will also get a secondary skin infection that look like small bumps called military dermatitis.

Female fleas can produce up to 40 or 50 eggs per day during peak egg production, averaging 27 eggs per day for 50 days. Some females continue to produce eggs for more than 100 days, with some laying up to 2,000 eggs in their lifespan of up to one year. If you live where the temperature freezes, count your blessings. The cat flea is susceptible to cold, and that means it can't survive more than a few days when exposed to temperatures below 37º F (3º C).


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Getting Rid of Fleas on Your Cat

Flea control and treatment recommendations vary with individual situations and can be multi-faceted – depending on the severity of infestation, number of cats and dogs in the environment, and the owners' finances. Thankfully, highly effective flea control products – ranging from once-a-month topical treatments including FrontlineAdvantage, and Revolution, to chewable tablets, such as Comfortis - are readily available with varying safety and efficacy. Always check with your veterinarian before using flea-control products.

You also will want to focus on your home and yard, as any effective flea control program includes treating your cats and their environment.

  • NEVER treat a cat with a flea product labeled for dogs without the approval of your veterinarian.
  • Treat any other household pets that can serve as hosts, such as other dogs, cats, and ferrets.
  • Clean everything your cat has come in contact with. Wash his beds and blankets weekly. (Some say adding apple-cider vinegar to the rinse discourages new fleas.)
  • Mop floors and vacuum all carpets, rugs, and furniture. Immediately dispose of vacuum bags because eggs can hatch in them.
  • If necessary, remove dense vegetation near your home, yard, or kennel area – these spaces offer a damp micro-environment that is favorable to flea development.


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How to Eliminate Fleas on Your Dog

Fleas aren't just a danger for one pet – they can affect the whole household.
Few things wreak havoc on summer fun like fleas. These tiny, nearly invisible creatures have been pestering pets and their owners since the beginning of time, or pretty close to it. One bite from these wingless blood suckers can cause itching for days, and where there is one flea, it’s a safe bet there are plenty more looming in your carpet, furniture, bedding, and on your four-legged friends.

Worse yet, some dogs are sensitive to fleas and can have an allergic reaction known as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), one of the most common skin diseases seen in small animal practices. One flea bite can make a dog's life (and yours!) miserable – plunging him into a vicious cycle of biting, scratching, and licking.

Despite the yuck factor, fleas (and ticks) are no joking matter, as they also can spread diseases to dogs and humans. The most common risk is tapeworm, which can be transmitted when a dog swallows a flea. Tapeworms can also infect humans, especially kids, who inadvertently ingest a flea. About one-eighth inch long, slightly smaller than a sesame seed, and generally brown or black in color, the cat flea, in serious infestations, also can cause anemia, especially in puppies.

Dog Flea Basics

More than 2,200 species of fleas exist worldwide. In North America, the Ctenocephalides felis, also known as the cat flea, is the most common flea. How ironic is it that the cat flea is responsible for wreaking havoc with your dog?

Fleas feeding on your dog inject saliva that contains different antigens and histamine-like substances, resulting in irritation and itching sensations that can range from mild to downright nasty. Dogs with flea allergies usually itch over their entire bodies, experience generalized hair loss, and develop red, inflamed skin and hot spots. Frequently restless and uncomfortable, dogs usually spend the majority of their time scratching, digging, licking, and chewing their skin. It’s a vicious cycle and a miserable and agonizing situation for pets.

Female cat fleas can produce up to 40 or 50 eggs per day during peak egg production, averaging 27 eggs per day for 50 days. Some females continue to produce eggs for more than 100 days, with some laying up to 2,000 eggs in their lifespan of up to one year. If you live where the temperature freezes, count your blessings. The cat flea is susceptible to cold, and that means it can’t survive more than a few days when exposed to temperatures below 37º F (3º C).


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Getting Rid of Fleas on Your Dog

Flea control and treatment recommendations vary with individual situations and can be multi-faceted – depending on the severity of infestation, number of dogs in the environment, and the owners' finances. Thankfully, highly effective flea control products – ranging from once-a-month topical treatments including FrontlineAdvantage, and Revolution, to chewable tablets, such as Comfortis - are readily available with varying safety and efficacy. Always check with your veterinarian before using flea-control products.

You also will want to focus on your home and yard, as any effective flea control program includes treating your dogs and their environment.

  • Treat any other household pets that can serve as hosts, such as other dogs, cats, and ferrets.
  • Clean everything your dog has come in contact with. Wash his dog beds and blankets weekly. (Some say adding apple-cider vinegar to the rinse discourages new fleas.)
  • Mop floors and vacuum all carpets, rugs, and furniture. Immediately dispose of vacuum bags because eggs can hatch in them.
  • If necessary, remove dense vegetation near your home, dog yard, or kennel area – these spaces offer a damp micro-environment that is favorable to flea development.


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