Most people think of pets merely as furry playmates and companions. This is especially true for those who have never owned a pet or feel somewhat antagonistic towards animals. But ask any pet owner how their furry friends have impacted their lives and they will give you almost similar answers – very positively.
You probably have heard countless vet jokes and one-liners, but here’s one I experienced: A lady walked into the vet with a really fat cat, another overfed pet, I mused. The lady wanted to know why the cat was so fat despite cutting her food rations, and on first look, I discovered it was pregnant. …View full post
Having pets is already a big responsibility almost akin to having children. Most people treat pets like humans, giving the best when it comes to food and shelter, even clothing too. Being a veterinarian, I have seen clients worry themselves when their pets get sick. They rush to the clinic as though they were bringing …View full post
As a vet, I have seen my fair share of neglected and abused animals. You see, I offer pro bono work to animal rescue organizations around the US. I accompany volunteers on rescue missions just in case any of the animals need on the spot treatment before it can be brought to the facility. I …View full post
As a veterinarian I often receive calls from homeowners who are confused about what to do when they find an injured animal in their household. Yes – most of the time these animals are considered household pests, however, if you find an injured animal in your house please call your local veterinarian for advice on …View full post
Diagnosing an older, ailing pet can be tricky – without the ability for them to tell us about internal pain we vets sometimes have to resort to other means. An ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging method allowing internal body structures to be examined by recording echoes or reflections of ultrasonic waves. It provides a high …View full post
In all my years as a vet, one problem stands out among pet owners – lack of pet insurance. Most pet owners think of pet insurance merely as an unnecessary expense. I will tell you right now that it is not. In fact, I always encourage my patients’ owners to consider taking out pet insurance for their furry companions.
How Can You Benefit from Pet Insurance?
There are a lot of ways you, as a pet owner, can benefit from pet insurance. However, its main benefit is the peace of mind you can get by knowing that your pet will be taken care of no matter your financial situation. Another benefit is the fact that you are protected from spending thousands of dollars on veterinary bills in case of emergencies.
Let me tell you a little story.
A couple of months ago, my wife and I took a couple of weeks off from our daily lives to travel to Southeast Asia. I asked my parents to stay at our house to take care of the kids and my assistant to come in everyday to help with tending to our pets. I also hired a housekeeper to make things easier for my parents.
Now before we booked our trip, I told my wife that I really wanted to experience the local culture of the countries we would be visiting. That meant, I didn’t want to stay at some fancy hotel that had all the amenities you could ever need because frankly, I had no plans of staying indoors. My wife suggested we book our accommodations through AirBnB so we could get a dose of the true local hospitality. After doing some research, I agreed.
You probably have heard countless vet jokes and one-liners, but here’s one I experienced: A lady walked into the vet with a really fat cat, another overfed pet, I mused. The lady wanted to know why the cat was so fat despite cutting her food rations, and on first look, I discovered it was pregnant.
When I told the owner, she thought for a second then said: “Is it at all possible that the dog made it pregnant since I have no other cat?
That will be a problem to my conservative Christian husband.
In this post, though, I am going to write about something different I learnt just the other day – nail art and nail painting for dogs. Being a vet may seem dull because a patient cannot chat you up, but it brings new surprises every day, from the clueless pet owners and from experiences and practices around the world.
If you are one of those people who think that toe and finger nail art is a trend that is getting out of hand, you will be surprised to see just what more artistic souls are doing on their dog’s nails.
I am not just referring to occasional dipping of a puppy’s nails in nail polish because it kept lingering – I am talking about a culture that has grown so much in popularity especially in japan to the point where there are companies that specialize in making nail polish specifically for pups. Is this a worthy fun activity or just a craze among a few?
The complicated patterns and special nail paint concocted for your pup’s nails is admittedly taking it to a whole new level, but whether it is art for the owner or art for the dog, it is sure is fun creating patterns and painting designs on an already cute pet.
There of course is the fact that the dog does not know and does not care that there are yellow flowers and blue berries painted on its nails, and even it id did, the selection of patterns and colors is entirely up to its human, if the art is horrible, is it fair to subject the dog to an ‘art’ that might make it look like it is suffering nail disease?
The more I learnt about the dog nail painting art, which has its roots in France (which I learnt from my French friend Sarah who owns a blog about “Formation Prothésiste Ongulaire, which is French for Nail Art Schools) but has become a ‘thing’ in Japan and South Korea, the more I was fascinated by how simple it is and how amazing the results are.
Before I made up my mind to paint my son’s 2 year old Labrador’s nails, I read more about the art and especially how ridiculous it would look trying to tie the dog down to get some manicure.
I learnt that the trick to getting the best results is to work fast because all dogs don’t have the patience to be still for long and their claws are actually much narrower than a human’s.
The results can be amazing, I assure you, especially if you use nail color specially formulated for dog nails. These colors are concocted with more pigments to make them show better on the darker claws and they are safe if the dog chews them off.
I also learnt that nail painting for dogs isn’t just about appearance, if you love your dog and want to spend quality time bonding, it will automatically associate nail painting with care and love and it wouldn’t be surprising if it started demanding it after a while. You would be wrong if thought only humans bond over an intimate nail art experience, but I cannot say the same for cats.
Having pets is already a big responsibility almost akin to having children. Most people treat pets like humans, giving the best when it comes to food and shelter, even clothing too. Being a veterinarian, I have seen clients worry themselves when their pets get sick. They rush to the clinic as though they were bringing a person to the emergency room for treatment. I bet if there was an ambulance for pets, some of my clients will be calling that hotline just to give their beloved pet quick and better medical attention.
I call this “pet love”, and it’s one of the most beautiful things that I have witnessed in my life. There is an unexplainable bond between man and animals that sometimes you can’t even find between the same species. There are men who love their dogs more than their own kith and kin, and some dogs can be fiercely loyal to their humans that they sometimes forget to interact with other dogs. I could go on and on about this special relationship, but you only need to log on to Facebook to see what I mean. Animal memes are there day in and day out and pet lovers are lapping them up.
Hygiene and Sanitation
When keeping pets, good hygiene and sanitation is key. Unlike humans, they cannot bathe themselves or clean up after themselves. They can be toilet or potty trained only up to a certain degree, like by giving them a litter box, but that is as far as it can go. Also note that some places do not allow pets to live in apartment buildings or condos. So before you move or even while scouting a new place to live in, make sure that you inquire with these excellent apartments in Oxford (for Alabama areas) to get you places where pets are allowed to stay. Even when going on vacation, you should be ready with plastic gloves and newspapers to pick up on your door when you walk your pet out. There are places in the country where owners are fined for the litter left by their dogs or cats. Besides, if you were on the other side of the story, if you were the one who walked into a pile of dog poop while jogging at the park, you will not be too pleased either.
Besides feeding your dog it is also important to give it a comfortable place to sleep in. It doesn’t have to be a bed, but some people do give their dogs or cats their own mattresses. Others just give them a mat to lay their heads on in a spare room or basement. Careful though, check your pet’s sleeping areas for molds and other harmful substances. If the area has been recently flooded, call on the mold remediation experts to have the place cleaned up. Don’t let your pets sleep on wet couches because they could ingest molds and other fungi and this can cause health problems in the long run.
Like any other person, your pets also need exercise and a well-balanced diet. It is true that some dogs and cats eat better than humans because their owners are well-aware of their dietary needs. Taking your pets for a walk or run is also for good for you. It not only allows you to exercise but also gives you time to care for your beloved pets.
As a vet, I have seen my fair share of neglected and abused animals. You see, I offer pro bono work to animal rescue organizations around the US. I accompany volunteers on rescue missions just in case any of the animals need on the spot treatment before it can be brought to the facility. I have pretty much seen almost every type of abuse imaginable or at least that's what I thought until I spent 3 weeks in Atlanta helping out with the mass rescue mission spearheaded by the Atlanta Humane Society. Let me tell you the story.
My family and I were traveling to Atlanta for the summer to visit with my wife's parents. We had a lot of stuff lined up during our trip which included a visit to the clinic of a dentist I found on peachveneers.com who specializes in veneers in Atlanta, a whole lot of sightseeing, and of course, to volunteer at their local shelters. You may be wondering why our itinerary included a trip to the dentist. Well, I had chipped my tooth the week before and according to Peach Veneers, porcelain veneers in Atlanta were a lot cheaper compared to those offered by dentists in our hometown. Since we were going there anyway and would be staying for a month, I decided to just get it done there.
Anyway, we had only been in Atlanta for a few days when I received a call from a colleague who worked at the AHS. He wanted to know if I could join them in a rescue mission that was to take place the following day. They needed all the vets they could gather because they got a tip that there was a 3-acre property at the edge of the city that was being used as both a puppy mill and a dog fight arena. From their initial surveillance, their guess was their were at least 300 large breed dogs in the property that were being used for dog fighting and around 200 small breed canines in the puppy mill area. I was filled with dread when I heard all of this because based from experience, hearing about the situation was nothing like seeing it with your very own eyes. My wife, 2 teenage kids, and I went to the AHS headquarters at the crack of dawn the following day so we could be briefed on the situation before the convoy left.
When we arrived at the property, the only person who was there was a 75 year old man who lived in one of the sheds. As soon as we entered the closed gates, I was hit with nausea because of the stench. The smell was a mixture of feces, urine, and decomposition. Right then and there, I knew what we were in for.
True enough, we found 550 dogs of all sizes – all of which were neglected and abused. The large breed canines were a lot worse than the small breed ones because the former were being used as fighting dogs. The fighting dogs totaled to 320 and the puppy mill dogs were 230. Sadly, we were only able to save half of that number because the others were too far gone. I worked non-stop for 3 days treating the injuries of the dogs we could save and helping euthanize the others as humanely as possible.
It was exhausting but I just couldn't bring myself to leave knowing that it was within my capabilities to help. My wife and two kids felt the same so they stayed and worked together with the other volunteers in any way they can.
Up to this day, I still can't fathom how some people are able to treat such loving and beautiful animals so inhumanely. Yes, we were able to save the lives of 270 canines but was the mission a success? That can be left up to debate. For me, a mission can only be dubbed as successful if there weren't any casualties but in this case, we lost more souls than we were able to save.
As a veterinarian I often receive calls from homeowners who are confused about what to do when they find an injured animal in their household. Yes – most of the time these animals are considered household pests, however, if you find an injured animal in your house please call your local veterinarian for advice on what you can do.
A very common animal found in homes around the US (especially in attic spaces) is the Mexican free-tailed bat. I often tell homeowners that the important thing is to not cause any harm to a bat that has entered your home. The following five tips are all safe and reliable ways to remove a bat from your attic, without harming it or putting yourself in danger.
1. Let it find its own way out.
A single bat can easily find its way out, and you just need to move items away from roof slopes so no access point becomes blocked. If there are any windows in the attic, leave these open to provide another exit route for the bat, and close them as soon as possible after the bats leave.
Don’t wave your arms around or try swatting the bat because it will only become confused and may not be able to find it’s own way out in a confused state. Although bats never attack humans, they have been known to bite in self defence if they think they are under attack.
2. Catching bats.
A bat will be harmed if you try to catch it mid flight, so wait until it lands on something before attempting to remove it. You can trap a resting bat simply by placing a small box over it and then sliding a piece of thin cardboard underneath the box; keep holding the cardboard in place until you get outside, where you can safely release the bat.
Wear a pair of gloves if you intend handling a bat, and be very gentle to make sure it does not get injured.
3. Look for hibernating bats in the attic.
In winter there is a small chance that you might get a colony of bats in the attic because they seek cool and dark places for hibernation. Bats require moisture, and on mild days a hibernating bat might fly around to find water. Before removing a bat in winter you should take a look into crevices and narrow spaces to see if there are hibernating bats in the attic.
4. Protect your water supply.
Never use poison to get rid of bats in the attic because this poses a threat to your health if the poison somehow enters your drinking water supply. Keep toxic chemicals away from your water system and be sure that your water tanks are kept covered at all times. Here is another reason to NOT use poison: it’s illegal to poison bats (they are endangered in North America) and you may face criminal fines if you do so.
5. Prevent bats entering the attic.
Bats can get into an attic through a very narrow space and it’s not always easy to see where they have entered. Placing items in the attic up against the roof slopes can help to block up their access.
The best form of control is prevention, so make sure that you seal up all access holes once you have successfully removed the bats.
If you do get bats in your attic, use a humane method to remove them and be aware of the dangers of using bat poison. When bats are safely released back into the wild, there is always a chance that one or more might return, but this should not be a problem if you remember to seal all entry holes once they have left your attic.
One last piece of advice: please remember to call your local veterinarian for advice if you’re still unsure of what to do if you find bats (or any other living creature) distressed in any part of your home – animals should have equal rights as humans do, and should be removed from a home in the safest way possible.
Diagnosing an older, ailing pet can be tricky – without the ability for them to tell us about internal pain we vets sometimes have to resort to other means. An ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging method allowing internal body structures to be examined by recording echoes or reflections of ultrasonic waves. It provides a high quality of care for your animals as well. Traditionally we only consider ultrasound to be for pregnant women, but there are plenty of cases where a pet would benefit from having ultrasound tests done.
Truth About Cost
Ultrasound machines and paying highly qualified technicians to use them can lead to a high bill – these costs get passed down to the owners. Salaries for ultrasound technicians are high, and this is a cost to pet owners as well. However; the invaluable effectiveness in examining the internal organs, assessing heart function and eye diseases as well as pregnancy diagnosis make the costs well worth it. Pet insurance can help quite a bit with this, but ultimately cost is a huge factor that must be decided upon before diagnosing and treating an animal.
How an Ultrasound Works
The echoes that are returned to the probe are converted into an image; that are then displayed on a monitor. The images display as 2 dimensional pictures of the tissues being examined. This is an invaluable technique for examining internal organs. Veterinarians began using ultrasounds for pregnancy diagnoses; and are now used to evaluate heart conditions as well as to identify changes in abdominal organs. Diagnoses for cysts and tumors associated with cancers can also be done with ultrasound.
Pets who need an ultrasound are not put in any pain or distress – in general they lie comfortably while the scan is taken. Sedatives are sometimes used for scared or agitated animals. Fur on a pet maybe shaved due to the waves not being able to travel through air; and it is important the probe make contact with the skin. In the case of pregnancy, moistening the hair with rubbing alcohol and using a small amount of water-soluble gel will be adequate to get the ultrasound images.
Immediate results are known with ultrasounds as they are real-time. In some cases a radiologist is asked to consult on the results which may delay diagnosis, but generally you will know the same day as the appointment.
The ultrasound is truly a great test for a pet as it is noninvasive and pain-free. The pet’s liver, lymph nodes, eyes, pancreas, spleen, testicles and other soft organs can all be seen with the ultrasound images.
An X-ray is often used for internal conditions as well – however, it uses radiation and only reveals the size and shape of organs. An ultrasound will provide a complete internal view of the organs structure. There may be times with it is beneficial to the pet to have both an X-ray and an ultrasound as the results between the two tests give a very complete picture of what is happening inside the animal. Overall the X-ray is a cheaper tool and would likely be used first to diagnose internal problems, but if it doesn’t give enough information, an ultrasound may be in order.
One of the most used ultrasounds on pets is the electrocardiogram. This test is used to exam the pet’s heart. The electrocardiogram can measure the heart’s wall thickness and also the size of the chamber. This test can also provide an assessment of the heart’s ability to move blood; which tells if the valves are working.
Of course you should always discuss diagnostic tools, health problems, and the path forward with your vet to determine what is best for your loved pet. We all strive to give our pets the best possible life, and an ultrasound may be the thing to help maintain your pet’s health.
No matter how cute and sweet Fluffy and Spot are or how much you love them, sometimes they shed – and sometimes their dander can really affect your asthma or allergies. Thankfully, when it comes to things like pet dander, you do have options available to you. And no, it doesn’t include getting rid of your furry little ones! One option, and perhaps the best option, is to get an air purifier. These are systems that filter the air, and depending on the type of filter and the system, they can help you get rid of problematic issues like dander. One of the best air purifiers to look for when it comes to pet dander is a purifier with a HEPA filter.
These HEPA or High Efficiency Particulate Arresting purifiers specifically get rid of airborne particles like pet dander. This way you can keep your furry friend and you and your family members, friends, and guests can still be in the home and not have their asthma or allergies bothering them. It also helps with smaller pets like gerbils, hamsters, even birds – anything that can shed or increase indoor air pollution to you or guests. If you want to find the best when it comes to pet dander, check out some of the best brands and models below. You can find more comprehensive air purifier reviews at the HealthyAirlab.
Alen A350 Purifier
This is one of the better purifiers, and it’s around mid-range as far as price goes. You can get one for around $399. That might seem like a lot, but it really it is mid-range for this type of system. This specific one uses a 3 layer filter technology which means it’s one of the best systems out there. Most of the other systems use just one or two layers.
Blueair 403 Air Purifier
This unit is on the higher end of prices at around $550. Again, this might seem like a lot, but you get more for your money because it removes close to 100% of the particles in the room you place it in. The exact percentage is 99.97%, but it also circulates at a smaller square footage per room – only 365 square feet, which is way less than the Alen A350 Air Purifier. Obviously this would be better suited for a smaller room like a bedroom, bathroom or a small living room, whereas the one above is a better option for a larger room.
Austin Air Healthmate Plus Air Purifier
Above all the other ones listed here, the Austin Air Healthmate Plus Air Purifier is the most expensive at around $650. But like the Alen A350 Air Purifier it does remove 99.97% of particles in the air which means it is a superb option for removing pet dander, as well as smaller particles like dust and pollen. Because the Austin Air Healthmate Plus Air Purifier uses an activated carbon mixture it can also get rid of pet odor as well as pet dander, which might be a good option if you want to get rid of that wet dog smell or kitty litter smell. You might be wondering what the positive is when it comes to such a high price and to be honest, while the pet odor removal is a plus, it also has to do with the coverage area. Unlike the two above, this one can cover 1500 square feet.
Not a lot of pet owners know how important exercise is for their pets. Some think letting their dogs out into the yard or walking them for 15 minutes a day is enough. The truth is, dogs, especially large breeds, require a lot more activity than that.
Pent up energy in pets can become a serious problem in the long-term. For one thing, it leads them to release this energy within the confines of your home. This means, they will start chewing on furniture, forget that they've been potty trained, and in some cases, they become aggressive. Once your pet shows behaviors such as these, the only way to get him or her back on track is to go through the trouble of retraining him or her again. Trust me, this is not something you want to happen because as they say, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks".
Here are a few ways you can help your pet release pent up energy and actually enjoy yourself in the process:
If you've ever watched an episode of The Dog Whisperer, you've probably seen Cesar Millan rollerblading with the dogs he's rehabilitating. This is one of the best ways to lower your pet's energy level without tiring yourself too much. Furthermore, it establishes you as your dog's pack leader therefore earning its respect and submission.
Don't care for rollerblades? Bike with your dog instead! This is especially suitable for large breed dogs because it takes a lot more work to wear them out. This is the method I use with my dogs.
I own 2 German Shepherds that need to be exercised for at least an hour on a daily basis. By exercise, I mean I either need to run with them or walk briskly during rest period. That was not something I could handle so I decided to invest in an Urban Fixe fixed gear bike. Why did I choose a fixie bike? Well, an urban bike would give me more control over speed. I would also be able to control my dogs' speed by backpedaling even if they suddenly lurched in front me.
If you have a pool at home or live near the water, swimming is an excellent choice of exercise for your dog. Much like with humans, multiple muscles are at work when swimming. This will also benefit you in a way because it would cut back the amount of time you need to allot for your dog's physical activity. I usually recommend about only 30 minutes of playing fetch in the pool daily for large breeds. For smaller breeds, 15 to 20 minutes would be enough to expel excess energy.
Of course, running is still the best and easiest way to wear your dog out. You don't necessarily have to run with your dog if you don't want to. All you need to do is take him or her out to an off leash dog park and play fetch. An hour or so of running around each day is enough to keep your dog's energy level in check.
Remember, it is always best to keep your dog company during his or her exercise time. Don't just let him or her out into the your yard. Not only will you get in a little workout yourself, but you will also create a solid bond with your pet.
Having pets is a bit of a chore all on its own, especially if you live alone or, as most of us do, in an urban environment. Animals like cats and dogs are meant to be outside, and as a result it can take a bit of effort on behalf of their owner to ensure that they are healthy and happy and can adapt easily to an urban lifestyle.
Whilst we publish a lot of pet advice on this blog I’m often asked for real world case studies involving real people describing how they cope with pets and full time jobs. So this post will center around a professional couple, Pete, who works as an electrician, and Sally, who works as a pharmacy technician full-time in a local clinic. The couple were left in a bind after a move to the city, they owned two Labradors prior to their move who were are already high-maintenance, but they had been able to manage the dogs before their move due to the fact that they worked different shift patterns. Unfortunately their move to the city also meant their shifts synchronised so they had to come up with new solutions in order to look after their dogs.
So how did Pete and Sally ensure their house was in one piece when they get home?
They trained their dog to be alone
This might seem really obvious but it’s surprising how many people overlook this step. Having some trial periods of leaving your animal alone can be a good way to get them accustomed to having the house (or apartment) to themselves. Start off by leaving your dog alone for thirty minutes. Then an hour. Then four or five hours. Slowly, your dogs will start to understand and get used to your absence.
They bought their dogs some toys
Just like a child, your pets are likely to cause you less problems if they are occupied so it’s a good idea to get them a toy or toys to play with. Lots of pet shops sell cheap plastic chew toys or other items that can keep your pet occupied while you’re away. For cat owners, investing in a scratching post or some sort of ‘hideaway’ can also help to keep them out of trouble and from clawing up your leather sofa.
For those who are particularly worried, hiring a ‘dog nanny’ can also be an option – in bigger cities, these professionals can be anything from dog-walkers who give your pet some much needed exercise, to actual care-takers that will keep your animal company either at your home or another facility.
As Pete and Sally were short on finances following their move they didn’t go via the full nanny route, although they did hire a local dog walker to walk the dogs twice a week. This meant that the couple were still able to spend some time with their dogs, but it also gave them some extra time to sort their lives out following their move. I think this was a particularly smart thing to do, it’s always worth remembering that your dogs are likely to be more relaxed if you’re happy and not stressed!
Outdoor games are becoming more popular in today’s active society and one of the most popular is paintball; a game where participants shoot opposing team members with pellets of paint in an effort to eliminate them and win the game. Unfortunately, all though this game is fun many pet owners don’t know that their paint filled pellets can be harmful to their animal companions.
When paintballs are consumed, it can result in severe poisoning in dogs, but rarely in cats and ferrets. It occurs most often with dogs due to their in-discriminant eating habits Although paintball poisoning doesn’t happen often, when it does, it has the potential to be deadly. This is due to the components that make up a paintball that have the ability to pull water into the intestinal tract. This results in severe electrolyte and salt imbalances which, when left untreated, can be fatal.
Symptoms of Paintball Toxicity
Symptoms of paintball toxicity usually occur within an hour of consumption. Some of these symptoms include:
- Walking drunk
- Decreased level of consciousness
- Elevated heartbeat
Treatment of Paintball Poisoning
Firstly, it is important to note that most animals treated for paintball toxicity recover and return to normal with one or two days of treatment. The treatment that your pet receives is entirely dependent on the severity of the clinical signs and may include intravenous fluid therapy and medications that help control vomiting, reduce heart rate, and or treat seizures. Occasionally, enemas may be needed to facilitate the movement of the paintballs through the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, blood work may be needed to monitor changes in electrolyte labels.
If you cannot get to a vet right away, you will have to induce vomiting by oral administration of hydrogen peroxide. Once this is completed, you must do what you can to reduce gastrointestinal distress and other symptoms. Once the nausea is gone, your pet must be placed on a bland diet. In addition, be sure to watch for seizures, hyperactivity, or tremors. Also, if your pet isn’t drinking or eating and or has persistent vomiting and diarrhea, consult your vet for additional recommendations.
The instances of paintball poisoning are increasing, so if you suspect that your pet has ingested paintballs, call your pet poison helpline or veterinarian immediately for advice that can save the life of your furry companion.
When dogs eat paintballs they tend to eat a lot and although it’s not clear how many must be consumed to cause ill effects, studies suggest that even the ingestion of a few pellets can cause sickness.
Paintballs have the ability to cause a positive blood test for the deadlier poison antifreeze. You must make sure that your veterinarian is aware of this when you bring your pet in for treatment.
Because of the toxic potential of paintballs, it is not recommended that pets be allowed to accompany their owner during paintball games. When I grab my Tippmann A-5 (http://www.thepaintballprofessor.com/tippmann-a5-review/) paintball marker and head to a game, I leave my dog safe at home. In addition, pellets must be stored in areas that are out of the reach of your beloved pets.
Man’s best friend can easily be trained into an effective workout partner. Dogs are natural runners and are best known for their loyal, steadfast personalities. Your pooch will stick by you during any tough workout, leaving little room for excuses.
First and foremost, your biggest concern should always be your dog’s health. An untrained dog, like any human runner, needs time to build strength and ability. If your dog is overweight or has health issues, you will want to consult your vet before beginning any workout regimen. You should not be training heavily with a puppy younger than 18 months, as this can lead to joint damage and negatively impact bone growth. Again, only your veterinarian can give you the proper advice specific to your pet.
Take the time to research your breed. Some dogs are better suited to different types of training. Unfortunately if you have a pup like a miniature chihuahua or English bulldog, your exercise options will be much more limited. Dogs in this category should engage in plenty of play and brisk walking, but extended jogging is not recommended. Any dog with a short muzzle will have more difficulty breathing during heavy exercise, especially in hot weather. Larger breeds like retrievers and shepherds tend to make for sturdy running partners, and many of your smaller sized terriers and herding breeds are strong enough to go the distance. Generally, any breed of working dog should adapt quickly and enjoy the challenge.
There are several factors you must monitor closely during training. Your dog’s breathing, gait, and energy level can give you clues to how they are feeling. Is he slowing down? Frothing at the mouth? Limping as he runs? Dogs will often show minimal signs of discomfort when they sustain an injury. Stop regularly, every mile in the beginning, and do a 4 paw check for caught debris, swelling, or blisters. Be sure to monitor your dog the following day for signs of soreness or pain.
Paws are important and your chosen running surface is a major contributor to your dog’s comfort level. In the beginning, their pads will be more delicate and require your regular attention. Be aware that concrete and sharp gravel tracks can be very harsh on your dog’s feet. Dog booties and wax based paw creams do exist and can be a viable option, especially in the extreme cold and heat. For moderate weather, build up to those long distances and run on a more forgiving surface, like grass or dirt.
Your dog should always be in accordance with local leash laws. A leashed dog will learn to run at your side if you provide him with time and patience. Gentle corrections and generous treats should be given to keep him on track when you begin training. Retractable leashes are not recommended because they limit your level of control on a wayward pup. Your dog should run at most on a 5 to 6 foot leash by your side. Water should be readily available before and after a run. If the run is lengthy, more than a couple miles, taking a water source for you and your dog is the best decision.
After taking care of your dog’s necessary gear, it’s important to remember yourself. Consider your own needs before beginning a new training program. Weather appropriate, comfortable apparel and a suitable pair of sneakers are necessary for beginners and experts alike. Consider the type and amount of running you will be doing. What do your arches look like? Do you require extra support for high arches or do your flat feet require more motion control? Are you looking for speed with a very light shoe or do you want comfort over long distances with something more cushioned?
There are a number of helpful websites that offer reviews and comparison guides.I compete in triathlon and crossfit events, so I require a pair of cross training shoes.Take a look at this guide to crossfit shoes click here or if you know what brand and style of shoe you require simply go to amazon or Ebay for the best prices online.
Many fitness stores with a large shoe selection will have staff on hand that can help you determine what kind of shoe is best for your gait. Utilizing proper gear and paying attention to a consistent and correct form can reduce your risk of injury. Know your limitations and know your dog well enough to understand his potential limitations. This will make for the best possible scenario so you and your pooch can enjoy regular exercise together.
So hit the trail and wear yourselves out. Any dog owner can tell you; a tired dog is a happy dog.
People often get angry when speaking with veterinarians like myself. “Oh, that procedure costs far too much money!”, “I bet all you are interested in is the contents of my bank account!”, “You clearly don’t care about animals at all!”.
Have people ever stopped for a moment to consider their veterinarian’s job? Veterinarian’s wear many hats, and we must perform many jobs and roles. We try to do this with a good heart and attitude for our patient’s that we treat (and equally importantly their owners too).
We have to be grief counselors. We are always there to hold your hand, pat you on the back, offer countless tissues, while listening to your stories about Snowflake when it is time for Snowflake to go. We often hear stories about the human tragedies too – this beloved pet belonged to your mother who recently passed away, and Snowflake is all you have left of her. Or this cat belonged to your daughter, who died tragically at 22 the other week in a car accident.
We have to help owners through the sorrow of having to watch the light in their beloved pet’s eyes dim, and we must watch the dimming of the light in the owners eyes as they watch it happen. We can feel awful, holding that evil syringe of pink liquid. We feel just as helpless as the owners do, unable to stop death, we grieve with them too. Even though we move onto other patients and other situations and scenarios, a tiny part of our hearts went with their pet.
We must also be financial counselors. Helping to guiding you through the countless decisions involving a pet’s expenses and care. We frequently try to discount or won’t charge for services so we can make sure that, that “special” pet get better. We try to trim down surgery times, even though in reality it took us over an hour to remove that chewed up sock from your dog’s intestines. We stay late if we have too, just to help make finances manageable for you.
We need to be relationship counselors and mediators between couples who start a war over the decisions of Snowflake’s pet care. We take phone calls from each individual pet owner, sometimes within minutes of another call, having to answer the same difficult questions over and over. We always do this with a generally good attitude and patience. We try to soothe agitated couples and suggest possible recommendations with tact. We always try to make sure that both pet owners leave the hospital or phone call happy. We’ve also recently had set up a new virtual pbx for emergency purposes so owners can contact us a little easier. It’s a much better system, however, I wish it warned us when someone on the other end was in a bad mood.
At the end of all this, we ARE doctors. Not just one kind of doctor either. If you ever had to visit your MD, he would look at your skin lesion and would then refer you to a dermatologist. We must skin scrape your pet, before culturing the lesion, then start your pet on a course of appropriate treatment.
I wear many hats as a veterinarian, both at home and at work. Remember that when you next see your veterinarian. Remember that he or she is a person too, with hobbies, a family, dreams, sadness and tragedies, just the same as you do. Much like you, they are all working hard and trying to do the best that they can each and every single day.