Ice Melt Toxicity


In my recent post on how to walk your dog safely this winter, I mentioned the importance of washing your dog’s paws thoroughly after your walk to remove any traces of ice melt.

Back in 2000 the ASPCA issued a toxicity alert about ice melters, particularly those that contain Sodium Chloride. In 2001 Health Canada and Environment Canada declared road salt a toxic product due to it containing any one of the following chlorides – sodium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride or magnesium chloride; despite this, road salt continues to be used on Canada’s roads as an ice melter, as it does in most other countries.

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5 Common Cancers in Dogs


In this article I shall describe five common cancers found in dogs. I’ve included some of the symptoms of these cancers and you will see that many of them are also included in the 10 common signs of cancer in small animals that I listed in the last article.

The prognosis for the cancers I mention is not particularly good; the figures are broad generalizations, but they do highlight how important it is to to detect and treat cancer as early as possible to give your dog every chance of a successful recovery or good remission prospects.

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Dog Cancer – Symptoms and Diagnosis

two female dog friendsThis is the second article in a series this month on canine cancer. In the Facts About Canine Cancer I highlighted the fact that cancer can occur in any part of your dog’s body, and multiple tumors can grow at each cancer site.

Because of this, it’s not easy to give definitive symptoms of cancer; however, the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) has identified 10 common signs of cancer.

It’s a good idea to become familiar with the symptoms listed below and start taking notice of how your dog presently looks, feels and behaves so that you’ll be able to spot any changes. This doesn’t have to be an onerous task, just become more alert to any changes as you bath, groom, exercise and watch your dog.

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Facts About Canine Cancer


November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month in the United States, so throughout the month I thought I’d make a number of posts about dog cancer and cancer treatment for dogs.

The articles will cover dog cancer facts; symptoms of cancer; diagnosing canine cancer; common cancers, their treatment and prognosis; home care; precautions you can take every day to reduce the risks of cancer; and a resource list where you can find more information.

The aim of the articles will be to inform rather than provide medical advice so, as always, if you have any concerns about the health of your dog seek advice from your vet as soon as you can.

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Dog Video – Trimming a Dog’s Toenails

Here is a short video showing you how to trim a dog’s toenails (running time 2 minutes).

One good tip they give is to gently squeeze the bottom center of the paw just before you clip the nails. Doing this make your dog extend his toenails so making it easier for you to clip them.

VideoJug: How To Trim A Dog's Nails

The puppy in this video is used to having his paws handled and toenails trimmed – if this isn’t the case with your dog, build up the process of nail trimming gradually.

Start by getting him used to the sight of nail clippers and having his paws picked up and handled. Once he’s comfortable with this move onto to cutting just one toenail and slowly build it up until you can cut all of them in one grooming session.

As stated in the video, lots of praise, encouragement, treats and a game afterwards will help your dog associate toe nail trimming with good things happening to him.

Have You Included Your Dog in Your Will?

golden-retriever-dog-1The news that Leona Helmsley left US$12 million to her Maltese Terrier, Trouble, started me thinking about the lack of any provision I have made for my dogs.

I’ve always assumed that I would outlive Zoe and Fritz, and if I didn’t my partner would take care of them. However, I haven’t given much thought to who’d care for them if they were left on their own.

It seems that a growing number of people are establishing trust funds, or making provision in their wills for the care of their dogs after they die.

Sarah Amundson, a director of legislative affairs at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has stated that “As a nation, we still euthanize 4 to 6 million cats and dogs every year, and a good number of those are pets left without care when their owners die.” That’s quite a sobering thought isn’t it?

The HSUS has produced a free information kit on providing for your pet’s future without you, and which includes the following advice:

  • Nominate at least one emergency caregiver who will look after your dog until the long care provision you have organized for your dog can be implemented. Make sure friends and/or family are aware of who the emergency caregiver is, and add their name and contact details to your list of ‘in case of and emergency’ names.
  • Decide how you’d like your dog to be cared for – by a friend, family member, rescue organization etc. Make sure that the person you are asking fully understands what will be required of them, you trust them to look after your dog as you’d like them to, and that they genuinely want to care for your dog and aren’t just agreeing to it to keep you happy.
  • Decide on how much money you will leave/are able to leave to your dog – are you able to pay your dog’s caregiver and provide for food and other living expenses including veterinary bills? How would you like any bequest to be spent?
  • Discuss with your lawyer whether setting up a trust for your dog might be better than making a provision in your will; the laws governing the setting up and running of trusts, and the validity of making a large provision in your will for the care of your dog, vary depending on where you live, so it’s recommended you take legal advice on this.

No one loves our dogs like we do. If we don’t make our wishes clear, the most likely consequence is that our dogs will be taken to the local dog shelter – what would be their chances of finding a good home do you think?

How to Find a Dog Sitter

dog-on-sofaUsing a [tag-tec]pet sitter[/tag-tec] is a great alternative to putting your dog into the kennel when you have to take a trip away from home.

Whether you are traveling to a destination where dogs aren’t welcome, your dog doesn’t travel well or you travel frequently, using a dog sitter can be much less disruptive to your dog’s daily routine than going to the kennel or being left with friends or relatives whilst you are away.

I say can be, because not all pet sitters are created equal.

Petsit USA has a good article on The Professional Pet Sitter, which gives advice on how to find, and what to expect from, a professional pet sitter, and how to spot a hobbyist from a professional.

If you do decide to make use of a pet sitter’s services, remember to keep your side of the bargain too:

  • make sure your dog is well socialized and is good with strangers;
  • your dog is wearing a collar and identity tag;
  • you have left sufficient food and other supplies to cover the time you are away plus a few days extra in case you are delayed getting home;
  • you leave emergency contact numbers for you and your dog’s vet; and
  • you have advised the dog sitter of all known medical conditions, any peculiar habits your dog has, and anything else you can think of that will help your dog get along with the dog sitter.

Finally, do a trial run for a couple of nights if you can – it gives you all the opportunity to see if using a dog sitter is the right choice for your dog.

[tags]dog sitter, choosing a dog sitter, find pet sitter[/tags]

How to Make a Stainless Steel Dog Bowl Gleam

stainless-steel-dog-bowl I know this sounds like the headline for a 1950s women’s home care magazine article, but grimy stainless steel [tag-tec]dog bowls[/tag-tec] really aren’t a pleasant sight. They’re even more unpleasant for your dog to eat out of.

I’ve always used stainless steel dog bowls for Zoe and Fritz; I find them easy to keep clean, and with the rubber around the base, they don’t slide all over the kitchen floor whilst they are trying to eat.

The only downside to them is that they get very dirty and grimy. Part of the problem is that Zoe and Fritz’s beards are usually covered in mud as they are always foraging around in the garden. Every time they drink from the bowl a muddy residue is left at the bottom!

Despite daily washes, their bowls develop a dull appearance after a few days. Here’s a way to revitalize stainless steel bowls that I found on the DIY Life website – it’s quick and easy to do, and really does make the bowls gleam!

Whose dog doesn’t deserve a gleaming dog bowl?

[tags]stainless steel dog bowl, clean dog bowl[/tags]

How to be Your Vet’s Best Friend

vet-with-dog-and-ownerYesterday I talked about how to choose a vet for your dog and the importance of finding one with whom you can build a good relationship.

As we all know, a good relationship is a two way process and yesterday’s post set out what to look for in a veterinary practice. What about our side of the relationship, how can we be a good client for our chosen vet? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Remember to keep appointments and be punctual. For the safety of your dog and other people and animals at the clinic, make sure your dog is on a leash or in a carrier when you take him to the vet;
  2. Consistently schedule appointments for vaccinations, annual medicals and dental checkups;
  3. If your vet gives your dog medication or a care regime to follow, make sure you follow through on the instructions;
  4. Learn what your dog’s ‘normal’ condition is by undertaking [tag]routine examinations[/tag] at home. By doing this you’ll be able to spot signs of illness in it’s early stages.
    Leaving easily treatable illnesses until they become difficult to successfully treat or are life threatening is distressing for you, your dog and your vet;
  5. If your does develop symptoms of an illness, or needs emergency treatment, provide as much information to your vet as is possible – examples are any changes to diet and exercise prior to the symptoms showing, if your dog is vomiting, what you think he may have ingested and a sample of the product if possible. This type of information will help your vet make a quick and accurate diagnosis;
  6. It’s unfair to expect your vet to make a diagnosis or suggest a treatment plan over the telephone and don’t disturb him outside the clinic’s opening hours on matters that can wait until the next day;
  7. If you want to discuss a medical issue outside surgery hours, then emergency clinics provide an excellent service. If you do use one, be sure to inform your vet next time you visit him. The emergency clinic should forward details of your appointment to your vet, but it also helps if you explain in your own words what the emergency was and how it was treated; and
  8. If you don’t understand what your vet is saying to you whether it’s discussing a treatment plan or explaining your dog’s medical condition, then say so, otherwise your vet will assume you do understand.

You want the relationship you have with your vet to last many years because he will become an important ally in keeping your dog fit and healthy. The more you can help your vet, the more you are helping you dog and your purse – early diagnosis is always cheaper to treat!

How to Choose a Vet

vet-with-small-dogAfter you, a vet will be the most important person in your dog’s life. Like choosing a doctor for yourself, it’s important to find someone you can talk to and trust. Good communication is of utmost importance, your vet needs to be able to explain and discuss with you the symptoms of illness, test results and treatment plans amongst other things.

You and your dog will go through some emotional times together so it’s vitally important to find a vet you feel totally comfortable with.

The best time to find a vet is before your dog needs one!

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