November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy to be in the wood, by a lake, with her human pack. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

November 12, 2013

Poisonous Mushrooms

Part of the backyard stash.
This has been a fantastic year for mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest. Hiking has been wonderful for all the varieties one can see and if you're knowledgeable, great for picking and eating. However, while 'shrooms can kill you if you ingest the wrong variety, they can likewise poison your dog. I was at a recent pet first aid class put on by our local emergency vet hospital, ACCES. The vet tech conducting the class said they have seen a large influx of dogs poisoned from eating mushrooms. 

A local TV station recently posted this article which has some great links at the bottom. Please read the article and check your yard for mushrooms, protect your dog. I removed a large bowl from mine.

November 1, 2013

First Snow of the Season

Bella feels strongly about the snow.

Our camping trip into Colorado was fun, but cold! In fact, the snow turned us around as we just couldn't stay warm. Bella, however, had a ball!

October 23, 2013

Car Travel Safety

I've had my dogs in car harnesses for over 10 years. I began using a walking harness (see this earlier post) and have since graduated to a Bergen harness as I felt it provided better protection, offered more chest coverage and therefore, less impact harm to my pup. Bella is never in the car without being in her harness. But today, I came across an interesting article that relayed test results from different dog harnesses and the Bergen was not a leading contender. In fact, for a 75-pound dog, it proved catastrophic meaning the restraints broke, launching the dog.

With a bit more scurrying around the Internet, I was able to locate the actual study and am linking you to it, so you can see how the testing was done. This is the first time I've read that a study was even conducted. It seems the Sleepypod Clickit harness was recommended in all dog weight ranges (small: 25; medium: 45; and large: 75 pounds).

The Clickits are not cheap, but it could save your pup's life.

September 27, 2013

Lost & Found

Heaven forbid your dog runs off. As careful as we all are being mindful of our dog's location, things happen. Unfortunately for some owners, their dog take off without the slightest provocation. Lucy was like that. Any opportunity was golden. Luckily, the majority of the times she "left," she went to one of two neighbors who would bring her in and call us. How could we be so careless with her?

For the first five years of her life, she made no attempt to leave our fenced yard. Then, one summer a new family moved in with a passel of kids. It was late June and the kids had gotten a hold of "squealer" fire crackers and were lighting them off in the alley behind our house. Lucy panicked and jumped the fence in fear. Luckily, we saw it happen and were able to race after her. Long story short, once she discovered this access to the world, she made the most of it until we could eventually build a taller fence. She learned to open the gate latches with her nose, so we installed locking handles.

Bella stays close by, but she is a normal dog and an open door beckoning. If my husband doesn't pay attention and the garage door to the alley is open, she trots out. Luckily she only goes across the alley to our neighbor's garbage. (Not so good for her tummy and our carpet, but usually we catch her before she devours the pile.)

All our dogs have been licensed. All have had tags. (My favorite tags are Boomerang. They slide over the collar, don't clink and more importantly, don't get stuck on things. Bella once caught her tags in the slit between deck boards. I've used Boomerang since then.) All dogs have been microchipped. Every year when we go for Bella's annual checkup, I have the vet scan her to make sure the chip is still reading. When we travel, which we do a lot, I carry recent pictures of her and her medical records.

But what to do if your pup bolts and isn't found? I came across this article today in the Huffington Post, How to Find a Lost Dog: Things You Haven't Considered, by Nicole Wilde. It covers the basics (posting flyers, walking your neighborhood, eliciting help from neighbors, checking at local shelters), but also covers some ideas I hadn't considered. It hadn't occurred to me to give a poster with my dog's picture and our phone number to the mailman and UPS/Fed Ex guys that regularly drive the area. Wilde also recommends posting the flyer at local vet offices and stores. Again, a great idea. If your dog is hurt, perhaps a good Samaritan took your pup to a vet. Perhaps a shopper at a store you don't frequent, has seen your pup.Not only should you post with local groomers and pet stores, but at any local shop. Take your search on-line. A local dog, Harley, was eventually found after four months, because his owner took every avenue to search for his beloved dog. Don't give up on your pup!

August 21, 2013

Are You Coming Home Tonight?

Are you coming home tonight? You can 100% guarantee that? What if your car breaks down? Or heaven forbid, you're in an accident? What if you aren't able to make it home and your pup is home alone without access to food or water and no one knows? What plans do you have in place in case you aren't returning soon?

I came across this article today that lays out just this scenario. The author was biking when—whoa!—an accident caused an unforeseen delay in getting back to their pup.

One sad puppy...because you aren't coming home.
In the old days, before our house was burgled, we had a dog door that allowed Lucy access to the fenced yard. This gave us peace of mind for the dog if we were delayed in returning. (Of course, we weren't thinking our delay would be anything but what we had control over.) Luce had water inside and out, so the only absence, besides us, would have been food—and she could have made it for a while with an empty bowl.  (Lucy wasn't much of an eater and would literally go days without touching her food. I think her tops was four days, her choice.)

Today, post burglary, we no longer have a dog door, so Bella does not have that same freedom. And like the author of the article, we never leave the house thinking we aren't coming back. She brings up great points and stresses her plans aren't for permanent contingencies, but a shorter period of time—24-72 hours.

I am a cyclist also and identified not only with the possibility of an accident, but just the fact that "stuff" happens. I immediately checked my phone's ICE contacts and realized the woman who looks in on our house when we travel was not an ICE contact. She is now, as she as complete access to the premises and loves Bellie to bits. I know she would take excellent care of her. Next up, a list where we keep food, treats, poop bags and leash for our neighbor, and vet notification that said neighbor, knowing our desires, is authorized to make medical decisions for Bella, should they be necessary.

What are you contingency plans?

July 31, 2013

Snail Bait—Not So Pet Friendly

When Bella was a pup, my husband put some moss kill on the lawn. I don't remember the brand, but it had iron in it—and Bella loved it. Her tongue turned orange (which was how I knew she'd been lapping it up). Although she didn't act sick in the least, I took her to the vet just in case. Luckily, all was well and those products are no longer used in the backyard where she hangs out.

Today I received an email via a gardening group to which I belong. In it was an alert about iron toxicosis in pets that had consumed slug bait containing iron phosphate. Symptoms of consumption are typical: lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea.

Although slug bait containing metaldehyde is more toxic, iron phosphate is not benign. If you live in slug country, as I do, battling those slimy garden decimaters is an ongoing job. There are less lethal methods of controlling slugs (beer traps), though they may not work as quickly. However, better safe than sorry with your beloved pets.

You can read the AVMA notice here.

Remember, although a product may be organic or natural, it doesn't mean it's safe when consumed. Be sure to:
  1. Always read pesticide labels carefully and follow the directions for recommended dosage. More is not better!
  2. If the product is dry (i.e., pellets), don't create bait piles. (If you must, but it in an enclosed container that only a slug can enter.)
  3. And of course, store the product somewhere out of reach to pets and children.