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New Cancer Test For Dogs

First SnowMy beloved dog, Sable, died of cancer which had spread throughout her abdominal cavity.  She was only 11 years old.  We had NO idea she had anything wrong with her until she started to seem depressed and a bit less energetic one week before her tumor ruptured and she passed away.  We had taken her to our vet a week prior to this incident and the vet had given her an extensive examination (without x-rays which we decided we’d do if things hadn’t gotten better in two weeks).  We actually thought that she was experiencing a bit of arthritis.  Sable’s appetite was vigorous, and her body functions seemed fine.  She had no fever or sensitivity to palpitations anywhere.  We took her home, coddled her a bit, and hoped she wasn’t becoming more arthritic and in pain.

One week later, when Sable got up from her bed, her abdomen was swollen.  We rushed her to the vet, had x-rays, discovered a large tumor had ruptured in her abdomen.  Sable was not brought back from her sedation from the surgery.  You have no idea how much we and our good friend and vet felt.  We were stunned!!!  She is greatly missed to this day.

Yesterday, I was sitting in an office and picked up a health magazine, Natural Awakenings, to pass the time.  My eyes fell upon the title of an article that excited me very much.  The article, New Cancer Test for Dogs, is very positive about the test which seems to be a strong aid in early detection of cancer in dogs.

I did a bit of research on Google to see where they would send me, and I connected up with The National Canine Foundation and discovered the same article, Blood Test for Canine Cancer, on their website.  What I have not done, yet, is to ask our vets about the test.  The test costs a bit less than $200 according to the articles.  The recommendation for screening is for all dogs 5 years of age and older.  It is also recommended that dogs with negative results repeat the diagnostic test every 6 months.  This may sound a bit expensive and I haven’t processed that for myself, yet, but if I could have known about Sable’s cancer early and been able to treat her, I would have done it with no qualms, at all.

Personality Plus – Is Your Dog An Optimist Or Pessimist?

PnZIf you read any of my blogs, you know that I have two doggie girls.  They are both Sheltie mixes and are physically similar for the most part.  That’s as far as the similarity goes, though.  I ran across an interesting article in Science Daly about whether or not dogs are optimistic or pessimistic. This article, Dogs Can Be Pessimists, Too, states, “In fact some dogs are distinctly more pessimistic than others, research from the University of Sydney shows”.

According to Dr. Melissa Starling, from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, whose PhD research findings are published in PLOS One, she has devised a method to determine the positive and negative emotional states of dogs in an objective and non-invasive manner. Dogs were presented with two tones which were two octaves apart and these tones were associated with whether or not they would get a preferred reward.  One sound dispensed the prefered treat of milk and the other dispensed the same amount of water.  After that distinction was learned, ambiguous tones were presented.  According to Dr. Starling, “If dogs respond after ambiguous tones, it shows that they expect good things will happen to them, and they are called optimistic. They can show how optimistic they are by which tones they respond to. A very optimistic dog may even respond to tones that sound more like those played before water is offered.”

According to the research, more optimistic dogs were found than pessimistic.  Dr. Starling cautions that these traits can not be generalized to the greater dog population, but it does have implications for guide/service dogs and police/drug dogs.  It will also help kennels and dog behaviorists in providing care and instruction to dogs.  An optimistic dog expects more good things to happen than bad things.  Setbacks do not discourage an optimistic dog like they would discourage a pessimist.  If a dog has a pessimistic personality, “he expects fewer good things to happen and more bad things. This may make him cautious and risk averse. He may readily give up when things don’t go his way, because minor setbacks distress him. He may not be unhappy per se, but he is likely to be most content with the status quo and need some encouragement to try new things.”

You might wonder, “So what?”  Well, there are implications for determining the suitability of service dogs.  Pessimistic dogs are more cautious which may make them better guide dogs – they will not rush pell-mell into potential dangers like a “gung-ho” personality might do.  On the flip side, an optimistic dog who is not easily discouraged and therefore more persistent would be better at seeking out drugs or bombs.

According to the article, “This research has the potential to completely remodel how animal welfare is assessed. If we know how optimistic or pessimistic an animal usually is, it’s possible to track changes in that optimism that will indicate when it is in a more positive or negative emotional state than usual,” said Dr Starling.

“The remarkable power of this is the opportunity to essentially ask a dog ‘How are you feeling?’ and get an answer. It could be used to monitor their welfare in any environment, to assess how effective enrichment activities might be in improving welfare, and pinpoint exactly what a dog finds emotionally distressing.”

Immediately, I could identify my dogs in terms of these two categories.  Phaedra has been a serious, cautious, hyper-alert dog from puppyhood.  It has taken many years of work to help her be less suspicious of her environment and of the behaviors of people.  Her Sheltie/Border Collie mix is apparent in how she responds to us if she thinks something is the matter or alarming.  She’s always the first one of us to recognize that there has been a change in our environment.  Her sensitivity is helpful for us, but the stress it puts on her is serious.  Zoe, our Sheltie/Rat Terrier, has that terrier personality of enthusiasm for EVERYTHING!  She never stops, expects that perfect strangers will play with her, and never gets discouraged when her desires aren’t immediately met!

Last night, we discussed this article with our “Cat friends” and they talked about the difference between their two Himalayan brothers.  They have been parents of these two boys since the cats were eight weeks old. Each was raised in the very same manner, yet both have very distinctive personalities.  Mischief is adventurous, outgoing, and has always expected and demanded that people like him.  Moonshadow, on the other hand, hangs back when visitors enter his house, doesn’t jump into the lap of strangers, and is a one man cat.  He doesn’t try things out on his own like Mischief does.  The consensus was that Mischief is the optimist and Moonshadow is the pessimist.

I believe that knowing these characteristics can be helpful in many ways.  The most important consideration for me is how I will look at situations and what I will expect the reactions of my dogs to be.  I may be able to make the lives of Phaedra and Zoe more fun, less stressful, and better!

Please give the article in Science Daily a read.  It is interesting and informative.  (University of Sydney. “Dogs can be pessimists, too.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140918101633.htm>.)

When Is “It” An Emergency?

Baby ZoeSix and a half years ago, we adopted the most adorable Sheltie/Rat Terrier mix, Zoe, who was 10 weeks old.  She is the most energetic and focused dog we’ve ever had – no laid back, smell the roses type!  Even that first day she was a ball of fire getting to know our Phaedra.  She had all her current vaccinations and had been checked out by the vet several times before we picked her up at Collie Rescue of the Carolinas.  All was well until 5:30 in the morning when we were awakened by Zoe’s upset stomach.  Because she was so young, we called the Triangle Veterinary Referral Hospital in Durham.  They suggested that we bring her in right them because of her young age.

We rushed over and they took her back into the hospital part immediately.  Soon afterwards, a technician came out and said that everything seemed to be OK, but they were hydrating her just to make sure.  After about an hour, we were presented with our little baby who looked a bit fatter than when we took her in.  She had been given subcutaneous fluids (and, funny thing, when I hugged her she squirted fluid out through her skin.  That’s normal but it sure was funny.

Fortunately, there was a happy end to this story and we never regretted for a minute that we had lost hours of sleep and paid a good bit of money to make sure that she was going to be just fine.  We’ve also taken our wonderful Phaedra there at 11:00PM because she had a seizure.  She’s fine, too, but that can be something very serious just like Zoe’s situation could have been.

So, when is an emergency really an emergency?  So glad that you asked…

Here are some symptoms from PetPlace.com that you should not ignore:

  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Non-responsive or comatose
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Extreme pain
  • Continued vomiting, especially with blood
  • If your pet was struck by a car or some other vehicle
  • Ingesting poisonous material or improper medication
  • Bloody stools
  • Collapse

These conditions require immediate attention.  Be sure to have your vet’s phone number easily available (I have magnets for our vet and the emergency clinic on our refrigerator and in my phone)!

The following list has articles on recognizing and emergency.  Be prepared.

There are many different resources for you to use.  Hopefully, this is a start so that if you ever encounter a situation of uncertainty, you can have a “yardstick” to help you figure out what to do.

Helping Your Dog Become A Good Neighbor!

Innocent faceAs much as I love my doggie girls, I know they are not perfect.  In her exuberance, Phaedra has taken to barking while staring at me when she wants me to do something for her.  Zoe loves “friends” and balls so she will retrieve her ball as many times as a person will throw it.  In the scheme of things, these habits aren’t bad, but over time they can be annoying to some of our friends who have never had dogs.  For the most part, I respond immediately to these behaviors and try to make the behavior less annoying for our friends through a variety of ways.

I ran across the article, How to be a Good Neighbor, at PetPlace that had some very good suggestions and I want to share them with you.  They may seem like common sense, but some people seem oblivious to behaviors which may annoy people and how to correct the behaviors without resorting to yelling at the pet.  Here are some suggestions that might help your pet.

Confine your pet:  For a pet’s safety, he should never run around free and without supervision while outside.  So many things can happen if your pet is not confined to your yard such as being hit by a car, getting into something which is toxic, and encountering angry neighbors.  Dr. Amy Wolff states, “Although you may think it is beneficial to let your pet out to wander, if he gets into your neighbor’s garbage, dig up their garden, or eliminate in their yard, it doesn’t do much to foster good neighborly relations. Your neighbor may try to have your pet picked up by a shelter (where the pet might be put asleep if there is no proper identification). A really angry neighbor may even try to harm your pet.”  She suggests, “Teach your pet the boundaries of your yard, provide a fenced area, or let him out only under supervision. If your pet is neutered or spayed, he/she will be less likely to wander. When you walk your dog, be sure to pick up any feces he leaves behind.”

Teach your dog manners:  If your dog doesn’t have good manners, he will often be excluded from social activities which many dogs love.  Teach your dog how to greet people without jumping up on them, or without being overly exuberant in greetings.  It is a great idea to take your dog for some basic behavior training.

Control excessive barking: This can be a difficult behavior to get a handle on.  “Excessive barking is a common behavioral problem and a nuisance to your neighbors. You may not even be aware of the problem until someone tells you. Barking often signals that your pet is frightened, bored, or has separation anxiety.”  The best course of action is to discover what is causing the excessive barking and then get help from your vet, from animal behaviorists, or from reading books about things to do to prevent this issue.  ( I make this sound so doable, but my grand-dog, Franklin, has anxiety disorders along with Addison’s Disease.  Excessive barking is one of his symptoms!!! He takes an anti-anxiety med along with other meds for his Addison’s and my daughter’s family struggles with some of these issues even though Franklin is one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever known.  Seeing first hand how difficult this issue is, my heart goes out to those of you who may be dealing with excessive barking.

Give a friendly caution:  When people are visiting and if some of these annoying/difficult behaviors persist, give your friends a “heads-up” about your pet’s issues and give them some suggestions on how to approach your dog.  This may mean asking your friends to speak softly to your dog and letting the dog sniff his hand but not being overly attentive to the dog.  It may mean confining your dog to his “safe space” which is within range of where you will be.  Dr. Amy Wolff suggests, “Many animals just need a few minutes to feel comfortable around people they don’t know in order to calm down enough to accept petting and praise. Work with your dog for a few minutes every day to correct behaviors that are troublesome and destructive. It is a dog’s natural tendency to please and be a part of the family “pack.” Use that desire to your advantage when teaching your dog how to behave.”

The only thing you shouldn’t do is to ignore these behaviors.  You and your dog will be much happier if you look them straight in the face and deal with them.

 

Bayou Rescue’s Dog and Cat Kits Help Victims of Fires, Floods, and Other Emergencies

FireAnimal3When there is a house fire or flooding that takes place, most of us think about the family who has suffered the losses and needs help.  Sometimes we may not think about the pets that are in the home and in need too!
Many of you may not know our biggest partnership is with the American Red Cross, Triangle and Central region. Right now, we cover about 13 counties but, when asked, we do branch out on a case by case basis. The main thing we do for the Red Cross is make comfort kits that the Red Cross Disaster Action Team members pass out when they respond to fires, floods or other emergencies. We make dog and cat kits that include some food, a leash, a toy, bowls, a disposable litter pan and some litter.  It is just enough to get a family through the night until they can get to the store the next day, and it gives them hope that their whole family is valued and things can return to normal someday.
Over the last several years we have built and distributed hundreds of these kits that help families all over our area. They cost us a little under $5 each to make them when we have to buy the supplies. Sometimes we have items for the kits donated and we want to thank those who have donated recently.
We would love it if you would contribute to this cause.  Here is a link to our Amazon Wish List.  Please think about helping out, too!

 

Toys bring normalcy to victims of a disaster - pets love it and humans feel good playing!

Toys bring normalcy to victims of a disaster – pets love it and humans feel good playing!

 

 

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Food and a few necessities to tide a family over.

Food and a few necessities to tide a family over.

What dogs can eat

imageI have sent out lists and lists of foods which dogs shouldn’t eat in the past.  I stumbled across some other foods that I didn’t realize may cause problems and wanted to share them with you.  This list comes to you from The Animal Rescue Site and I hope you will read the article which has more information than my synopsis.

Salt:

You might think who in his right mind would give salt to a pup!  Well, if you have food thieves like my dogs sometimes are, you know that popcorn, potato chips, and salty nuts are enticing .  I have trained myself to never leave a plate or dish within their reaches.  (Most of the time, anyway!)

“Salty foods can cause excessive thirst and urination leading to sodium ion poisoning.”  Symptoms can be:  vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, high temperature, and seizures so AVOID SALT
Fruit and seed cords:
“Make sure when feeding your dogs fruits like apples, pears, persimmons, peaches and plums, to get rid of pits and seeds. Persimmon seeds can cause inflammation of the small intestine, while apple and pear seeds, and peach and plum pits contain cyanide which can poison both humans and dogs.”
They can have strawberries, blueberries, apples, melons, and bananas which would be healthy for them.
Yeast:
Yeast is needed before we bake bread.  “The dough needs to rise and yeast won’t make any exceptions of when and where it’ll rise, especially your dog’s stomach. If consumed by your dog, yeast will swell inside and the dough will begin to stretch your dog’s abdomen and can cause severe pain. Yeast also ferments the dough to make it rise, producing alcohol which can lead to possible alcohol poisoning.”  This makes total sense, but I never would have considered it before reading this article.  Pasta made without yeast and cooked is fine for dogs to eat.

Raw meat, fish, bone and fat trimmings:
“What seems like an all-time doggie treat is more harmful than enjoyable. Bones and fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis in dogs and raw meat and fish both contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning. So avoid using your dog as a garbage disposal if you want to keep him happy and healthy.”  Tuna, though, is a healthy delicacy for dogs and cats alike.  Just watch out for any stray bones.
To my Fluffy’s misfortune, we learned about bones the hard way.  Fluffy stole a ham bone from our garbage pail and we were unaware of it.  Within 2 days she was straining to void her bowls and crying out in pain.  We rushed her to the vet and she was found to have a bone fragment in her intestine.  That is not anything we ever want to repeat due to her anguish and our guilt/fear.  She was all right after treatment, but it was touch and go for a while.
Chocolate:  (Most likely, this is no surprise for pet owners, but I wanted to add it here, especially since we are getting into holiday season and who doesn’t like chocolate????)
Chocolate has theobromine which is a toxic agent found in all kind of chocolate, even white.  The most dangerous amounts of it can be found in dark chocolate, chocolate mulch, and unsweetened baking chocolate. Eating chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and even more serious symptoms in dogs.
So, keep your dogs safe!  Keep these foods away from them!