You're sitting in your living room and all of a sudden you hear a ruckus in the next room. It sounds like a wild hog has overtaken your dining room and is in the middle of redecorating your walls with snot.
Nope. It's just your dog...reverse sneezing.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, consider yourself lucky as most dogs suffer from reverse sneezing at some point or another, though there are breeds that are more susceptible to the phenomenon.
First, lets start by defining the difference between a regular old sneeze, and a reverse sneeze.
Reverse sneezing is also known as backwards sneezing, or paroxysmal respiration and is most common in breeds with Brachycephalic skulls, like pugs and bulldogs. Brachycephalic skulls are broad and short. Below is a list of dogs who may suffer from reverse sneezing, though it is possible in any breed.
So what causes reverse sneezing? Reverse sneezing is caused by a spasm of the soft palate and throat likely caused by an irritant, like an allergen. Your pup probably got too close to a dandelion, or inhaled some dust. In rare cases, medication may be required if your dog suffers from severe allergies causing frequent reverse sneezing fits. Otherwise, the fit will pass and the wild hog will transform back into your lovable pooch.
There's an age old question every dog parent has wondered; "Why does my dog eat grass?"
The truth is there are a number of reasons why your pup could be heading outdoors to snack on your freshly mowed lawn, but rarely are the reason serious.
First, lets talk about the misconception that dogs who eat grass always throw up shortly afterwards. Vomiting after grazing is rare and only happens in less than 25% of dogs. If your dog does throw up after munching on some green roughage it's likely because they gulped rather than chewed. If the grass is gulped it can tickle the throat and or stomach during digestion and can therefore result in vomiting.
When dogs have an upset or gassy stomach they often look for the easiest and most readily available treatment, even for just temporary relief, and grass often times is the key to a less gassy or acidic tum tum. Just think of grass as your dogs version of saltine crackers...or tums!
In the wild, the stomach and stomach contents are often the first part of a kill to be digested by wolves and or foxes. When consuming the stomach of an animal, wolves, foxes and therefore dogs (because they are direct descendants of wolves and foxes) are digesting the berries, plants and other roughage consumed by their prey, and it's for this reason that many feel the need for dogs to digest grass has developed over years of evolution.
Having said that, many commercially produced dog foods can lack certain ingredients and therefore your dog is supplementing by grazing. There's really no need to be concerned unless your dog is consuming copious amounts, and throwing up more than once a week. If this is the case, it's time to seek a professionals opinion, and get your dogs overall health assessed. You want to be sure there isn't an underlining medical issue like constant nausea or anxiety related issues that are causing your dog to ravenously eat grass.
It's also imperative to be conscious of what grass your dog is eating. Has it been sprayed with pesticides? If so, it generally takes a large amount to cause lasting problems, but you may want to step in and prevent consumption of this grass.
Long story short, the reason why dogs eat grass is widely misunderstood and the exact reason is unknown, but the behavior is widely practiced and rarely serious!
Well, it felt like it would never happen, but it did! Summer has finally arrived and temperatures are soaring! Not only are people spending more time outdoors socializing and visiting all the local festivals and carnivals, but ours dogs are too which is great...kinda.
Don't get me wrong, our dogs deserve to get out of the house and into the summer sun just as much as we do, but at what cost?
One of my BIGGEST pet peeves is seeing dogs out and about during street festivals when their feeties are being exposed to HOT asphalt. A lot of people don't realize that if the street or sidewalk is too hot for you to walk on without shoes, it's too hot for your dog to walk on too!
At just 77°F, the asphalt reaches temperatures of 125°F which is enough to cause severe injury to the pads on your dogs feet. Here's another fact about just how hot the asphalt gets on a summer day: you can fry an egg in just 5 minutes at 131°F. Would you want to walk on that in your bare-feet?
If you want to take them to this weekends art festival in the heart of downtown, that's great, but you should take precautions to ensure you're not putting your fur kid in danger.
So the next time you want to take your dog out for a trot around town, just make sure the pavement isn't too hot for your feeties before forcing your dog to walk on it with his precious feeties!
Lets face it, we all dread thinking about the day our fur kids will leave us and we all try to do as much as we can to give them long, healthy lives, but sometimes we inadvertently do, or don't do, things that can actually shortens their lifespan.
Some things are pretty obvious, if we each crummy food we tend to have a shorter life span, the same applies to your pooch, but there are things that don't necessarily stand out as detrimental to your dogs longevity. I've compiled a short list of some things you can do or avoid doing to give your dog the best possibility of a long, happy life!
One of the most frustrating and most obvious issues is an overweight dog. Sure it's kind of cute when you refer to your dog as "chunky monkey," but the truth is a lot of dog owners don't recognize the impact extra weight can have on their dogs lifespan and quality of life.
Just like people, being overweight can introduce several secondary issues such as arthritis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, joint and hip issues and sometimes even behavioral issues. Over-weight dogs can also experience chronic inflammation which increases the risk of cancer.
The truth is eighty five percent of dog owners would classify their dog as being a healthy weight. The reality is that 53% of those dogs are considered obese. That's scary! As a responsible pet parent we should all obtain the proper knowledge to provide our dogs with the best life possible and that means maintaining a healthy and appropriate weight. After all, we are the hands that feed them! Literally!
That's right, an unhealthy mouth can lead to not only dental issue like Gingivitis, but it can also lead to issues outside the mouth like heart, kidney and even respiratory problems.
Tartar build up in the mouth can cause some pretty nasty breath, but it also can create pockets between the teeth and gums where bacteria and other debris gather. This can lead to infection, inflammation, bone loss and abscesses. Once your dog has developed this condition, called Periodontal disease, it's irreversible and can be very painful.
Research has also shown that certain bacteria found in the mouth produce a protein that adhere to artery walls and can cause blood clots. Uh oh!
Point is, keep your dogs teeth clean! If you're not sure how, check our my post about Petzlife.
Removing the Baby Makers
A lot of people think having their dog altered is just a means to end the possibility of unwanted liters. While this is true, spaying and neutering also reduces the risk of cancer by nearly 100%. That means cancers such as mammary gland tumors, uterine, ovarian and testicular cancer are 4 less things you and your dog have to worry about.
Altering your dog also decreases their desire to roam which can reduce your dogs urge to escape the yard. Just a little food for thought to backup that last statement, eighty-five percent of dogs who are hit by cars are unaltered.
As an added bonus, on average, altered dogs tend to live 1 to 3 years longer than their unaltered counterparts! That's 1 to 3 more years you get to spend loving your pup.
Dogs are instinctual, social pack animals; they thrive and crave attention. It's one of the reason why dogs are able to cohabitate with a multitude of other pack or herd animals like sheep, horses and cattle.
When dogs are properly socialized they are generally happier, healthier, friendlier and more predictable, making new environments and people less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone, including you!
Dogs who are not adequately socialized are much more likely to develop aggressive or destructive tendencies as they have not been equipped with the proper tools to deal with new or different situations. They often develop anxiety, depression and are generally less healthy and often present with chronic skin and coat issues.
There are tons of ways to socialize dogs of all ages, here are just a few:
Exercise & A Healthy Diet May Keep Sickness Away But A Trip To The Doctors Is Still A Must!
A lot of pet parents only take their dogs to the vet when it's time to renew vaccines or there's an obvious issue, but yearly exams can detect issues before they become big problems or before they're too advanced to treat.
Your veterinary is trained to notices small things that may seem trivial to you, like lipomas or fatty deposit on an older dog. What you think is benign and unimportant could be an indicator of something much larger and much more serious, like cancer or infiltrative lipomas which can invade muscle tissue.
It's always best to have your dogs checked out yearly. It could prolong their life by years if problems are noticed and addressed early.
There are several factors that play a role in determining how long our fur kids are with us, some are out of our control, but I know I am going to do everything I can to make sure my fur kids are the happiest and healthiest they can be!
Last year around this time there was an article floating around social media eluding to the idea that giving ice cubes to your dog was dangerous and could cause bloat.
Lets start with the basics...
There are essentially two parts of bloat; the first is gastric dilatation and the second is the more serious and life threatening condition known as Volvulus or torsion of the stomach.
When the stomach fills with air, it puts pressure on the organs and diaphragm making it difficult for the dog to breath. Once the stomach has filled with air it's much easier for it to flip on itself resulting in Volvulus. Once torsion or Volvulus occurs it cuts off blood supply to the stomach and causes the tissue and muscle of the stomach to die.
So who's most at risk for GDV or Gastric Dilation Volvulus? While any dog, of any age, and stature can suffer from GDV, it is more common in deep chested dogs such as:
But there is plenty you can do to help prevent GDV from happening:
If your dog presents with a distended abdomen, non-productive heaving or retching, shallow breathing, abdominal pain and is foaming at the mouth, it's time to get them to a veterinary office ASAP. Once GDV presents, it's fast moving and there isn't a lot of time to work with before the dog is in serious danger of dying.
Treatment for GDV is gastric decompression where a tube is inserted into the dogs stomach to release air or by puncturing the stomach with a large needle. Depending on the condition of the dog and severity of the case, the dog may need to be treated for shock and undergo surgery to correct the stomach twist. In some dogs they may choose to tack the stomach in place to prevent GDV from happening again in the future.
Now that you know what bloat is and how it happens, I hope it's clear that giving your dog ice cubes does not or will not cause bloat. In fact, most dogs enjoy a cool drink on a hot summer day. There are even treats and toys that are recommend for freezing for entertainment and refreshment purposes!
Running my own rescue I hear a lot of things from other people about rescue dogs. Here's just a few:
"Rescue dogs always come with behavioral issues."
"You never know a rescue dogs history."
"Dogs end up in shelters because they didn't make good pets."
"The type of dog I want can't be found in a shelter."
"Dogs from shelters are always sickly"
All of these statements are common misconceptions of rescue or shelter dogs.
Misconception #1 and in my opinion the BIGGEST misconception: Dogs from abusive backgrounds never make good family pets.
Most animals coming from an abusive past will make a full recovery with just a little TLC. In fact, they are likely to be a bit more devoted and loving when compared to dogs who came from non-abusive backgrounds.
Dogs are extremely forgiving, we could learn a thing or two from them. Just take a look at the dogs below, they were all part of Micheal Vick's dog fighting ring and they all went on to have lives full of love and snuggles. Some are even registered therapy dogs, or have received good citizenship awards.
*Look for a future post on my feelings regarding the phrase, "it's all in how you raise them." It's not and these dogs are a prime example.
*Photos and bio's taken from www.barkpost.com/vicktory-dogs/
Misconception #2 : All rescue dogs come with behavioral issues.
While it's true that some dogs do have their share of behavioral problems, that's true of any dog regardless of whether they are a rescue or not. For example: our Lab, Milo, came from a breeder and has more medical and behavioral issues than any of our rescues. When he was just 8 weeks old he started displaying signs of extreme anxiety. He'd projectile poop all over his crate when left alone and would spend hours crying and whining himself into a tizzy. While its true that many behavioral issues can stem from lack of training or pack leadership, some dogs are wired wrong and will have issues regardless of their up bringing or training.
One of the many benefits of adopting a dog from a rescue is the use of foster homes. While waiting for their forever family to find them, dogs spend time in a foster home where the foster parents have a chance to assess and get to know the dogs personality and needs. The foster family will know if a dog is crate trained or has separation anxiety. They'll know and likely begin to work with the dog on any behavioral issues, prior to their adoption.
Misconception #3 : Dogs from shelters or rescues are always sickly
While it's true that some dogs do pick up Kennel cough or upper respiratory infections while being in a shelter, you are much more likely to get an honest report on a dogs health from a shelter or rescue than you are a breeder. A breeder is out to make money and once you walk away with your prized new family member, their hands are clean of any responsibility to that animals health (unless they guarantee health in their contract which normally is not the case). Plus, Kennel Cough or an upper respiratory infection is cured with simple antibiotics or even just a few days of rest and TLC, most times antibiotics are included in the adoption fee if a dog has the sniffles come adoption day.
It's always possible to get a dog from a shelter and find out down the line it has medical issues, but this is true of any dog. Take our lab, Milo, for instance. My husband was adamant that his first dog be from a breeder (sigh..he knows better now) so along came Milo...along with seizures, EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency), chronic ear infections and bad anxiety. He was purchased from a legitimate breeder. We met both his parents, he had all his vaccines, he was supposed to be a happy and healthy pure black lab. On Average his medical expenses exceed $200 a month and that does not include food or other basic care items.
Misconception #4 : Shelter or rescue dogs obviously are not good pets, or their original owner's wouldn't have gotten rid of them.
This couldn't be farther from the truth. There are a lot of reasons why dogs could end up in a shelter or rescue.
Misconception #5: The breed I want isn't in shelters or rescues.
This, I have to say, is one of the biggest misconceptions out there. Some people think shelters or rescues are full of only pitbulls (which I adore) or mutts, this isn't true. Twenty five percent of shelter intakes are purebreds. It might take a little elbow grease to find the perfect furry addition, but they're out there, waiting for their forever homes too!
As my husband has experienced through the adoption of his first rescue dog, Winnie, the love from a rescue dog is different from the love of a purchased puppy. There's just an appreciation they have that other dogs don't. Plus, when you chose to adopt you save two lives, the one you adopted and the one that will fill the kennel that's now empty.
Milo had been sick for a few days, throwing up, but acting fine otherwise. He’s always had an insatiable appetite so the fact that he wanted to eat everything and anything wasn’t a red flag…he is a lab after all and they are known for eating the strangest of things.
I had just let him out and watched him go #2 (all pet parents watch or at least inspect their fur kids’ moon pies (or at least they should) to make sure things are going well, no worms other parasites, etc.). I was SHOCKED! Flabbergasted. What I was finding in the yard wasn’t throw up at all! It was stool…with whole, undigested kibbles. He wasn’t digesting his food.
Milo is the only dog in our home purchased from a breeder, my husband’s first dog and he insisted on a “purchase” rather than an “adoption.” I agreed but made it clear this was the ONLY time we would EVER purchase a dog… knowing what I know now, I know he ended up in our home for a reason. If he hadn’t, he’d be dead.
From the time Milo was a wittle, itty, bitty pup he has always had issues. Ear infections, yeast infections, issues keeping or maintain weight and the most concerning, seizures. They didn’t start until he was about a year old and in the beginning they were infrequent and undiagnosed. He’d have one every 6 months and he always recovered quickly. He had several, expensive blood panels to check his organs, blood cell counts, etc. and they always came back normal.
On several occasions it was suggested that we start him on epileptic meds, I refused. If he had been having them more frequently and his recovery time was longer with lasting effects I would have considered it but, that wasn’t the case.
Epileptic meds, while helpful to treat and prevent seizures, they are also very potent and can be very damaging to the body long term. They can drastically shorten a dog’s lifespan and would require constant monitoring via routine blood work every 3 to 6 months, depending. I wasn’t ready to go that route.
Over time the seizures did progress in seriousness and frequency but my gut still told me not to start him on epileptic meds. He had already been to several vets with no diagnosis other than Epilepsy (which in my opinion is diagnosed far too frequently without having exhausted all other possibilities) It was going to be up to me to figure this thing out.
I spent DAYS researching online. Reading every article, ever post having to do with seizures and dogs. We tried different foods, several different Chinese Herbs (with the guidance and supervision of a practicing veterinary) we even tried acupuncture and Reiki. Nothing changed and Milo looked like a Holocaust survivor.
On that faithful afternoon witnessing the waterfall of kibbles come out of his doupa, I knew I had my answer. Milo had EPI, Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. It was exceedingly rare and 90% of the time was found in purebred German Shepherds. Milo would need a very, very expensive blood panel that would be sent to Texas for analysis. Most dogs who have this disorder die from starvation as it is not easily diagnosed and is not something most vets look for.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency is the body’s inability to produce digestive enzymes for the breakdown of proteins, starches and fats in a dog’s body. Without these enzymes what’s eaten passes through the digestive system undigested and exists whole; no nutritional benefit is gained. Without treatment starvation occurs and death is imminent.
I contacted the holistic vet and filled the doctor in on my conclusion. He was doubtful of the accuracy of my diagnosis but agreed to fill a script for the enzymes I was requesting. They were not stocked by any veterinary office either locally or within an hour’s drive. I turned to the internet. The only place I could find them was in Idaho and I ordered a bottle and had them overnighted.
The next hurdle was going to be identifying and obtaining the correct enzymes. It's trial and error process but thankfully we were successful on the first attempt. Though he still eats puppy food he has not had another seizure since starting the enzymes and he is now at a healthy weight. It's been nearly a year.
I could not be more thankful that I stuck with my gut and did not start him on Epileptic meds.
This whole experience just reinforces my belief that as a pet owner you have be diligent in doing your own research and making sure the treatment is what YOU think is best for your dog. Just because a professional tells you what they thinks is the best course of treatment does not mean you should ignore your opinion or gut reactions. You know your pet better than they do.
PS- the $400 blood panel came back positive, I was 100% correct in my diagnosis.
This post is a repeat post (with some edits) of one of the very first post I made to the Blog. It's a topic near and dear to my heart and one I feel justifies a re-post in honor of national dog day and to help to continue to break the walls of prejudice against pitty's. (I know some of you are rolling your eyes. Just excuse yourself and go back to Facebook if you aren't going to have an open mind).
Strolling down the street sporting quirky polka-dot rain boots, neon green sunglasses, and a hot pink top I am everything but intimidating; yet the mother walking towards me grabs her son by the arm and drags him across the street faster than a toupee lost in a wind storm. I can't figure it out; maybe it’s her purple argyle leash, or her hot pink Vera Bradley collar that make her so threatening. No, no, I got it, it's the kidney bean dance she does when she sees someone who might want to say 'hello'. I'd be pretty intimidated by those dance moves too, especially since I look like a scare crow with birds up my overalls when I dance. However, there’s really nothing threatening about her, I promise. Her name is Massey. She's a 7 year old Boxer/Catahoula Leopard mix, a Pit Bull, and you're more likely to be eaten by a shark while walking down the street than bitten or mauled by her.
First, a little background;
I am a bit embarrassed to admit that my husband was once part of the “poop on pibbles campaign.” He made it explicitly clear (on multiple occasions) that we would never foster, much less own, a Pit Bull. Being the exceptionally wonderful wife that I am, I completely disregarded his warning and brought Massey home while he was at work. She was our 4th foster and our first "foster failure". Not only does she have the BIGGEST and best personality ever, she also served as our seizure detector for our Lab, Milo up until he was diagnosed with EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Deficiency) and the seizures stopped.
It has been about 2 years since she joined our home and she is an invaluable and incredibly loved member of our family. To hear my husband say “our home will always have a pibble,” warms my heart and only stokes the fire within me to continue to be an advocate for the breed(s).
I want to clarify something; Pit Bull is NOT a breed but rather a classification of a group of dogs that all possess similar body characteristics, i.e. muscular legs and torso or boxy head; Boxers, American Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, American Stafford Terriers, etc. are all members of this not so honorary team.
My father always spoke to the importance of experiences in your life. A prime example is telling a child not to touch a hot stove. Naturally, the child’s first instinct is to touch the stove. We learn through experience and I fear we as a society are distancing ourselves from the idea that our experiences are the catalyst that help us to develop our opinions. Now, we simply believe what others, more specifically the media, publishes and leave it at that. I would bet 90% of all people who have ill views of Pit Bulls have never had a personal experience with this category of dog and that is truly and utterly heartbreaking. What’s more upsetting is this display of seer ignorance hurts no one other than the dogs. Thousands upon thousands of dogs suffer because people are too close minded and ill-hearted to really care at all about the reasons why they feel the way they do.
One of the reasons you hear so much about Pit Bull attacks in the “news” is simply because A; it’s what sells right now and B; they are one of the most commonly found dogs in American homes. Obviously, the more there are the higher their bite numbers will be. There are also a significant number of reported dog bites by labs. Once again, a popular family dog. You don’t hear about the Cocker Spaniel who bites its owner on the doopa because they are far less common in homes and therefore far less likely to have a high percentage of reported bites. The numbers are all relative to the number of dogs in the general population.
One of my BIGGEST pet peeves surrounding the Pit Bull debate is the theory that “it’s all in how they are raised.” Yes, if you teach a dog (any dog) to fight and be aggressive it will no doubt be aggressive in nature BUT some dogs are wired wrong just like some people are wired wrong. The mother who loved her child unconditionally, provided all the nurturing and support she possibly could is no more at fault for that child growing up to be a serial killer than the person who adopts a puppy and raises it with love and nurturing only for it to turn around and bite the mailman.
Look at Michael Vick's dogs, several of them went on to become therapy dogs or great family pets. I have seen dogs surrounded in love, trained with only positive reinforcement and they grow to be some of the most aggressively driven dogs I have ever met. I have also witnessed dogs tied to poles in backyards, taught to fight and kill who go on to be rescued and are some of the most passive and gentle creatures you will ever have the pleasure of interacting with. There is more to it then just how they are raised.
Many people forget that dogs are animals. As much as we love them and think of them as family members they are still and always will be animals. So many times I see people post a picture or a video of their toddler hugging their family dog around the neck and giggling louder than a fire cracker on the fourth of July. Sure, it’s cute but when you look at the dog and take note of the wide eyes, tense body, and tucked tail it becomes evident that the dog is uncomfortable and the situation is dangerous. Far too often people completely ignore their pups’ body language and just assume “they are going to be a good dog.” It has nothing to do with being a good or bad dog and everything to do with their natural instincts. It is in their nature to want to protect themselves just as it is in our nature to do the same. So the next time you see a story about a Pit Bull (or any dog) mauling a child or an adult, yet the details of what happened prior to the attack are vague or missing all together, ask yourself why. I wholeheartedly believe the majority of dog bites could be avoided if only people were educated about dog body language and would teach their children how to respect a dog’s space and boundaries. Would you want someone squeezing you around your neck or tugging on your ear?
Half the battle is irresponsible breeders who care more about money and less about the dogs they breed and the people whose homes they end up in. If Hill Billy Joe and Hill Billy Sue, who are siblings, get together and have baby Hill Billy Bob, Hill Billy Bob is likely to be sick. The same applies to dogs. If blood lines are crossed you may get a dog that appears normal on the outside but inside, things are just not quite right. You see this a lot with Blue Nose Pit Bulls. They are widely sought after and therefore breeders will go to whatever extent they need to, to create a product that sells, even if it’s not safe. Their negligence and greed has led to a pandemic of aggressive Blue Nose pit Bulls. Is this to say all Blue Nose Pit Bulls are aggressive? No, absolutely not but it does speak to the importance of doing your research when looking to purchase a dog from a breeder. It also serves as a reminder that as long as demand is present and people keep buying, backyard breeders will always exist.
Also, Pit Bull owners are not all gang-bangers with tattoo’s tallying their 'hits'. Most of us are ‘normal’ people with jobs and families we love. Some of us are young, some of us are single or married or even elderly. Some of us are handicapped and rely on our pibbles to be our eyes or ears, or sense when we are not well. Pit Bulls are loving and gentle, smart and loyal. Everything the stereotypes say they aren't or can’t be.
So, to the women who did the chimpanzee (when a parent is practically dragging their toddler by the arm in an effort to get them to move faster) with her son to get out of mine and Massey’s path, I implore you to learn from your own experiences and say ‘hello’ to Massey. You might decide that Pit Bulls aren’t as bad as you thought. You might even LIKE her.
As for me, I will keep being THAT person who displays her love for the worlds most hated category of dog with bumper stickers and ‘I love my Pit Bull”’ t-shirts.
With over 10 years of experience through ownership and rescue work, I hope to share my knowledge and insight to happier, healthier fur kids. Have a question, feel free to ask!