June 13, 2012 by admin
Allie Smiles is proud to support a number of organizations that provide assistance dogs to people with disabilities. Some of these organizations even give inmates and veterans returning from combat with PTSD and other emotional scars the healing opportunity to train these dogs which in turn is very therapeutic in their own lives.
Most people may not know how to behave around an assistance dog. Currently, there are hundreds of puppies being raised to eventually become service, skilled companion, hearing or facility dogs. Part of their training involves going out to grocery stores, libraries and other public places. The Americans With Disabilities Act guarantees people with disabilities the right to be accompanied by a service animal in all areas open to the general public. These service dogs perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability and provide invaluable companionship.
Here are some tips to follow when meeting or approaching a working assistance dog and his or her partner:
- Don’t touch the dog without asking permission first! This is a distraction and may prevent the dog from tending to the human partner. Be sensitive to the fact the dog is working and may be in the middle of a command or direction from it’s human partner. Most dogs need to be told to be “released” from work mode to interact with someone.
- Never feed the dog. It may be on a special diet. These dogs are generally on a feeding schedule as well. Food is the ultimate distraction to the working dog and can jeopardize the working assistance dog team.
- Speak to the person, not the assistance dog. Most handlers do not mind talking about assistance dogs and their dog specifically if they have the time.
- Do not whistle or make sounds to the dog as this again may provide a dangerous distraction.
- Never make assumptions about the individual’s intelligence, feelings or capabilities. Offers of help are appreciated, but ask first. Usually, the human/dog team can get the task done by themselves.
- Don’t be afraid of the dog. There is no need to be afraid of a dog in training. These dogs are carefully tested and selected for appropriate temperament. They have been professionally trained to have excellent manners. Always approach an assistance dog calmly and speak to their human partner before touching or addressing the dog.
Business owners: Some customers and employees may be anxious or nervous about an assistance dog in your establishment. Reassure them that the dog is thoroughly trained and has a legal right to be there under the ADA. People with assistance dogs deserve the same respect as any other customer. You do have the right to ask the dog to leave if it is not behaving.
If you would like to support one of these assistance dog groups, please go to http://www.alliesmiles.com/yoursupport.asp to see our current campaigns.
Category: Allie SmilesTags: canine companions, disabilities, PTSD, service dogs, veterans, wheelchairs | Comments (0)
June 11, 2012 by admin
Arthritis is a painful condition that affects about one in five adult dogs. It is the number one source of chronic pain that veterinarians treat every year. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints that occurs when the protective cartilage or lubrication of the joints breaks down.
There are two types of arthritis – degenerative and inflammatory. They are diagnosed by their causes but both have the same basic symptoms. Some common causes of arthritis include poor nutrition, obesity, trauma to the bones or joints and malformation of the dog’s bone structure.
Since dog arthritis can be very debilitating and it is important that you keep an eye on your dog and watch for these early signs:
Decreased interest in activity – Since your dog is in pain he may not get very excited about playing and running around. You may notice your dog wanting to stop and turn around during a walk.
Weight gain/loss – Your dog may gain weight from sleeping more and playing less or he may lose weight because he experiences pain from bending down to eat his food. Dogs may become depressed when dealing with arthritis which is a common cause of under/overeating.
Sleeping more – Lethargy often comes with arthritis. Your dog may sleep to ease the pain in his joints.
Difficulty sitting or standing – It may be harder for your dog hard to get up. The first few steps may be painful and he appear stiff. He may become uncomfortable and start to shift while sitting or standing. Your dog may not want to jump up and sit with you as much anymore. He may also be hesitant to climb any stairs.
Favoring a leg – Your dog may experience ‘limb lameness’ which can come and go, and even affect different legs at different times. Your dog may limp.
Mood Changes – Your dog may not want to play, he may become easily irritated or not listen when he is called. Keep an eye out for noises when you touch him as well.
What you can do to help:
Control Their Weight – A healthy diet is important for your dog during arthritis. Less weight will ease help his joints. Fat tissues secrete hormones that can cause pain.
Ease Sore Joints with Heat – Apply a warm compress to your dog’s joints. Heat will penetrate deep into the muscle to the joint for relief. Don’t make it too hot!
Light Exercise – Exercise should be regular but not vigorous. Allow your dog to turn and go back home after a short distance if he wants. Try not to walk when it is too cold out. Treadmills or swimming can be therapeutic as well.
Keep Them Warm, Dry and Comfortable – Add an extra blanket to his bed. An extra pillow will also help make him more comfortable.
Raise Food and Water Dishes – If your dog has arthritis in the neck or shoulders this is really important. Bending down may cause tension and pain.
Watch the Floors – Hard wood floors or other smooth surfaces may become difficult for your dog to walk on. If you notice your dog slipping , consider getting a rug for those areas.
Consider Massage or Acupuncture – You can learn to do this at home or take your dog to a professional. Massages and acupuncture provide relief for sore, inflamed joints and will help to loosen these areas up.
Always talk to your veterinarian about treatment options and home remedy options for your dog’s specific case of arthritis. Since a arthritis is a degenerative disease it can make your dog’s life miserable so look for ways to improve his quality of life.
Category: Allie SmilesTags: canine arthritis, dog care, joint pain | Comments (0)
May 31, 2012 by admin
June is National Pet Preparedness month. It is also the first month of hurricane season so people with pets are reminded to make preparations in case they should be hit by a disaster. When making plans, please include what you would do with your dog in case of a hurricane, tornado, flood or other natural disaster. Having a plan and gathering these items will go a long way to help in an emergency. Please prepare yourself and all your loved ones, both human and animal. The list below contains items recommended by http://www.ready.gov/ and other experts.
TOP TEN ITEMS FOR A PET PREPAREDNESS KIT
Food (your pet’s regular food)
Leash and collar
Photo of your pet/ID and a photo of you with your pet
Medications your pet needs
Immunization/vet records (keep both updated)
First Aid Kit
Contact list of pet-friendly hotels, veterinarians, American Red Cross, American Humane Association and out-of-town friends/family
Also: toys, rope, sanitation bags
Following a tornado, hurricane, flood, earthquake, or other natural disaster, we may think that the worst is past, but hazards remain, especially for the most vulnerable, namely children and animals. The American Humane Association has provided the following tips to help parents and other caregivers keep children and animals safe and help them cope with the physical and emotional aftermath of a disaster.
• Even though the worst seems to be over, supervise children closely and inspect those areas in which they are playing. Gullies, downed electric wires, and sharp debris are just a few of the hazards children may encounter following a major disaster.
• Keep an eye on children’s emotional reaction to the crisis. Talk to children – and just as important – listen to them. Encourage kids to express how they feel and ask if anything is worrying them.
• Regardless of age, reassure them frequently that you, local officials, and their communities are all working to keep them safe and return life back to normal. Older children may seem more capable but may also be affected by the displacement in their lives.
• Watch for symptoms of stress, including clinginess, stomachaches, headaches, nightmares, trouble eating or sleeping, or changes in behavior.
• If you are concerned about the way your children are responding long after the crisis is over, consult your doctor, school counselor or local mental health professional.
Uncertainty and change in the environment affect animals, too, presenting new stresses and dangers.
• Your pet’s behavior may change after a crisis, becoming more aggressive or self-protective. Be sensitive to these changes and keep more room between them, other animals, children or strangers.
• Animals need comforting, too. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs. If possible, provide a safe and quiet environment, even if it is not their own home.
• Following a disaster, keep your pets on a leash. Changes in the landscape may confuse them and fences and other landmarks may have changed, making it more likely for them to become lost.
• Be careful when allowing pets outside where they may encounter sharp or toxic debris.
• Animals may be at more risk to various diseases that accompany natural disasters. Consult your veterinarian if your pet displays any unusual physical symptoms, and determine if any precautionary measures should be considered.
Displacement, Loss, and Reunification
If pets had to be temporarily housed away from their families, be sure and explain the reasons to children, letting them know that their animals will reunited with the family as soon as possible. If a pet is lost and cannot be found, it is important to seek help for all family members who are grieving the loss of a best friend. And once pets are reunified with their families, whether at home, a friend’s house, or a shelter, remember that animals, just like people, often do best with structure in their lives. As the family reunites and rebuilds – structure will again emerge. The best part is when everyone – pets and people – can once again find stability and normalcy in their lives.
Category: Allie SmilesTags: disaster kits, disaster preparedness, emergency kits, hurricane season, natural disasters, pet safety, tornados | Comments (0)
May 24, 2012 by admin
Today I took my dog in for grooming which included an overdue nail trimming. When I picked her up the groomer casually mentioned that he got too close on her back paw and that’s what the gold powder was about. I paid and left stunned. I didn’t know whether to drive straight to the vet or if it really was no big deal.
I tend to overreact when it comes to my five pound Yorkie fur ball so I decided to observe her for a while once we got home and the adrenaline (in both of us) subsided! She seemed to be moving around without limping but had no interest in going for a walk. Hmm…
My vet assured me that cutting a little too much can happen to anyone and it is not uncommon especially if the nails are black. If the bleeding continues or the dog is limping you should seek medical attention. When in doubt, always call your vet for advice. There is plenty of information available for those choose to trim their pet’s nails at home. If you are not are not ready for that many veterinarians offer this service. The average cost to have nails trimmed at a groomer is $5-$10.The cost to go to the veterinarian for nail trimming is $15.
Here are some other ‘things to know’:
- Nails should be inspected and/or trimmed on at least a monthly basis. If not, the quick tends to grow out with the nail, making it nearly impossible to cut properly. It is very important not to cut the quick of a nail as this is rich in nerve endings and painful for the pet.
- Since most dogs do not like having their claws trimmed start trimming claws in young animals so that they get used to the process.
- If a pet’s nails are allowed to grow, they can split, break or bleed, causing soreness or infection in your pet’s feet and toes.
- Long nails can get caught and tear, or grow so long that they can curl backwards into a spiral shape that can make walking very painful for dogs
- If you do accidentally cut into the quick, pressing the nail into a bar of soap will effectively stop the bleeding. It is also okay to use a little flour or cornstarch.
- Always remember to trim the dew claws that are located on the inner surface of the paw unless they were removed as a puppy.
- Cut the nail to within approximately 2 millimeters of the quick. Below are some photos of what you should see. The light tissue (1) is the curved bottom part of the nail. The mottled light and dark tissue (2) is the top part of the nail.As the nail is cut deeper, you will be able to see a homogeneous gray to pink oval (3) starting to appear at the top of the cut surface of the nail. Stop cutting the nail at this point as additional cutting will cut into the quick.
A special thank you to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University and to Henry Moore for the photographs.
Category: Allie SmilesTags: dog care, dog nail trimming, pet grooming, Yorkies | Comments (0)
May 17, 2012 by admin
It is upsetting to hear about a dog or cat getting cancer. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. In fact, dogs and cats get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans do. More startling, cancer is the leading disease-related killer among dogs and cats, accounting for nearly 50% of these deaths. As the #1 disease-related killer of dogs and cats, cancer claims millions of pets every year.
Cats and dogs with cancer who are undergoing treatment – whether chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation – are spending more time at home and less time in extended hospital stays thanks to advances in veterinary medicine. This is an emotional blessing for both pet and owner, but it also means that the owner of such a pet must take a more active role as caregiver.
Practical ways to improve the quality of life of your pet with cancer:
Proper nutrition is essential for optimal cancer care, so make sure to provide a diet that both appeals to your pet and is also nutritionally appropriate for the pet cancer patient. Your vet can recommend the dietary regimen that’s right for your pet’s particular needs.
Try warming your pet’s food to just below body temperature before serving; this increases its aroma and may make it more appealing to a pet whose appetite may be less than optimal.
Ask your vet about appetite stimulants if your pet is not eating enough and losing weight.
Ask your vet about supplementing your pet’s diet with Omega-3 fatty acids. These may enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
While some discomfort is to be expected, there is no reason for your dog or cat to suffer severe pain. Make sure to administer any prescribed pain relievers as directed.
Nausea and diarrhea as side-effects of treatment can be very effectively managed with proper medication. Express any concern you may have about this to your vet. She or he will be able to advise you.
Enhancing your pet’s comfort:
Make sure your pet’s bed is well cushioned and away from drafts.
A cat with cancer may have difficulty reaching that “special spot” that it likes so much; setting up a few boxes or other “stepping stones” will help.
Most importantly, don’t forget that TLC is an essential part of any treatment regimen - and there is never a risk of overdose!
Thank you to PRNewswire, Pet Cancer Awareness and Vetweb.com for offering these suggestions.
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May 3, 2012 by admin
1. My life is likely to last 10 to 15 years – any separation from you will be very painful.
2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.
3. Place your trust in me – it is crucial for my well being.
4. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment but I HAVE ONLY YOU!
5. Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I understand your voice when you’re speaking to me.
6. Be aware that however you treat me, I’ll NEVER forget it.
7. Before you hit me, remember that I have teeth that could easily crush the bones in your hands but I choose NOT to bite YOU.
8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I’ve been out in the sun too long or my heart may be getting old and weak.
9. Take care of me when I get old. You too will grow old.
10. Go with me on difficult journeys. Never say, “I can’t bear to watch it” or “Let it happen in my absence.” Everything is easier for ME if you are there. Remember that I love you.
Good reminders compiled by our friends at Dogsaver.org.
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May 1, 2012 by admin
May is National Pet Month and part of the purpose is to promote responsible pet ownership. The Canine Crusaders at dogsaver.org have done a wonderful job of highlighting some important points to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to become a pet owner.
Being a responsible pet owner is much more than just providing adequate water, food and shelter for your pet. Domestic pets are completely dependent on their owners for their welfare.
• Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment. If you can’t make the commitment, don’t get the pet.
• Choose a pet that fits your lifestyle. Don’t get a high energetic dog, if you don’t have the time to exercise him. If you can’t afford grooming or can’t do the grooming yourself, pick a low maintenance dog.
• Spay or neuter your pets. There are too many homeless animals without adding to the problem.
• Don’t make your dog a “backyard dog”. Dogs strive on companionship and need to be with their human pack.
• Be aware of weather conditions. Leaving your dog in the car on a hot day or in the yard without shade or water is risking your dog’s life.
• Make sure your home is “pet” safe. Pesticides, medications, household cleaners and some houseplants (dieffenbachia, philodendron, hyacinth, and mistletoe) can be deadly to your pet. Keep them out of reach.
• Provide veterinary care for your pet. Keep their vaccinations up to date and make sure they have annual checkups.
• Keep identification tag on your pet… it is your pets ticket back home. Both dogs and cats need ID!! Microchipping is good too, but an external tag is essential, it could mean the difference of your neighbor returning your pet to you or turning him into the pound!
• Obedience train and socialize your animal.
• Don’t let your pets run loose. Dogs should be walked leashes. Any outdoor off leash access should be secure in a fenced area. An outdoor cats average lifespan is 3 years, an indoor cat’s average lifespan is 14 years.
• Provide your pet the proper diet. Obesity can be as deadly as malnutrition. Be aware that some foods can be deadly, such as chocolate, and fatty foods can cause pancreatitis.
• Make sure your pet get proper amount of exercise.
• Take extra precautions during holidays like Fourth of July. It is the scariest time for pets, make sure your pets are secure indoors. Also protect your pet during Halloween.
• Be kind to your pet and show him with love… remember you are his world.
• Take special care of your pet during their senior years
Keeping these guidelines in mind would minimize the number of pets who end up in shelters. We support all efforts to help end the abuse and neglect of animals and hope people will think twice before making such an important commitment. Pets can provide so much love and joy but they depend on us for their care.
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April 21, 2012 by admin
Canine obesity is one of the fastest growing health problems seen in dogs today. As with people, obesity can lead to a variety of diseases, disorders and other complications in dogs. In a 2008 study, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimated that 44% of U.S. dogs were overweight or obese. That’s approximately 33 million dogs in the U.S. alone. Needless to say, something must be done. You can start with your own dog. Learn how to manage your dog’s weight, start a weight loss plan for your dog, and prevent weight gain in the first place.
Causes of Canine Obesity:
There are many reasons a dog can become overweight. The obvious culprits are improper diet and lack of sufficient exercise. A dog recovering from an illness or injury is usually required to remain sedentary and is therefore at risk for weight gain. It is also important to know that weight gain may actually be a symptom of some hormonal disorders, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome. Finally, genetic predisposition is a big factor. Certain dog breeds are simply more prone to obesity than others, such as English Bulldogs, Beagles, Dachshunds, Pugs, Dalmatians and Cocker Spaniels – just to name just a few.
Health Risks of Obesity in Dogs:
Canine obesity is dangerous because it can lead to a great number of health problems. It may also adversely affect an existing health issue. The following diseases and disorders may be caused or exacerbated by obesity:
- Cardiac disease
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Orthopedic injuries (such as cruciate ligament rupture or patellar luxation)
- Respiratory disorders
- Various forms of cancer
Determining if Your Dog is Overweight:
You can often see the telltale signs of obesity in a dog, but sometimes it sneaks up on you. Gradual weight gain is not as noticeable when you see your dog on a daily basis. A friend or family member who is not often around your dog may notice a weight change. Other warning signs are exercise intolerance and apparent laziness. These could indicate a weight problem or other health issue. In any event, it is best to visit your vet if anything seems amiss. Also, be sure your dog goes to the vet for a wellness exam every 6-12 months. This is the best way for your vet to detect changes before there is a serious problem.
Assessing Your Dog’s Weight:
There are some basic things you can do at home to evaluate your dog’s weight. Contact your vet if you suspect a problem.
- Running your hands along your dog’s ribcage, you should be able to palpate the ribs covered by a thin layer of fat. Inability to feel the ribs is a sign of an overweight dog.
- Looking at your dog from the side, you should be able to see the upward tuck of the abdomen. An overweight dog will have very little or no tuck.
- Viewing your dog from above, there should be a moderate narrowing at the waist just past the ribcage. A straight or bulging line from the ribcage to the hips indicates an overweight dog.
Managing Your Dog’s Weight:
If your dog needs to lose weight, or you just want to maintain his healthy weight, work with your vet to develop a weight management program. That program will consist mainly of a structured diet and an exercise plan. In addition, your vet will help you set up goals and schedule times for quick check-ups to monitor your dog’s progress. It will be helpful to weigh your dog on a regular basis – ideally every week or two. If you do not have the right scale at home, you can just stop by your vet’s office for this. Many vet clinics have a scale in the lobby, so you can just run in and check the weight, free of charge.
Canine Weight Loss Tips:
Weight loss for dogs is not a matter of willpower for the dog. You, however, may need to use willpower to resist those begging eyes. Remember, food is not love!
For most dogs, the traditional diet-and-exercise plan does the trick. However, some dogs need an extra helping hand. These dogs might be candidates for a canine weight loss drug called Slentrol(dirlotapide).
Another way to boost your dog’s weight loss plan is to get involved with agility or another dog sport. You will be working with experts who want your dog to succeed but will not push him. In addition to losing weight, your dog will have a new skill.
Diet and Exercise – The Cornerstone of Weight Loss:
Feed your dog table scraps and human “junk food,” and you might as well be asking for weight gain. Dog food and treats that are high in calories may also pack on the pounds, depending on the dog. Your vet can help you choose the right food for your dog. In some cases, vets will prescribe a special low fat/high fiber diet that is not available “over the counter.” However, there are also many commercial diet that might work, including some holistic/natural diets.
Even healthy food and treats will lead to weight gain if given in excess. Allowing your dog to “free feed” by leaving a full bowl out all day is not a good idea, especially in a multiple dog household. Establish two or three set mealtimes per day. Use a measured scoop to give only the recommended amount of food. Feeding instructions on bags are general and may not be appropriate for your dog, so ask your vet to help you determine the right amount.
Dog treats should be significantly decreased for an overweight dog. Treats should never make up more than 10% of a dog’s diet, and that percentage should be decreased for weight loss. You will also need to change the type of treat you feed. No cheese, hot dog pieces or fatty commercial dog treats. Shop for dog treats that are low in calories. Better yet, give small pieces of carrots and apples as treats – many dogs really love them.
Obviously, your dog is going to need more exercise to lose weight. If you do not already walk your dog daily for a specific period of time, start now. Schedule times to play fetch or tug-of-war. If you have an exercise schedule, increase the frequency and difficulty if possible – this will be good for you, too. The most important thing is to make a commitment to a plan and stick with it. Your dog is at your mercy.
Many dogs will be happy to be getting more exercise and attention, and they will joyfully await their scheduled exercise sessions. However dogs that are very overweight and out-of-shape may pose a challenge. Some dogs will simply stop in the middle of a walk, refusing to continue. This is probably because they are winded and/or in pain. To be safe, stay close to home and keep a slower pace. These dogs benefit from several short walks a day rather than one or two long ones.
Some dogs cannot exercise as needed due to an illness or injury brought on or worsened by the obesity. Consult your vet for recommendations. You may find that physical therapy with a canine rehabilitation practitioner helps.
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April 19, 2012 by admin
Service and assistance dogs are partnered with people who have physical disabilities such as spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, arthritis, cerebral palsy and other conditions. They can assist with daily tasks and increase independence by reducing reliance on other people. These dogs can pull their partner in a manual wheelchair, push buttons for elevators or automatic doors, and even assist with business transactions by transferring money, receipts, and packages. Not only do they assist with physical tasks, they also provide a lot of social support to their partners.
Most Service Dogs begin their journey when they are whelped in the homes of volunteer breeder caretakers with whom the parent dogs live. When the puppies are two months old they are fully examined and vaccinated. They are then placed in the homes of volunteer puppy raisers.
At about 14 months old service dogs begin a six to nine month program of professional training. Most programs teach dogs 40-80 commands and practice working in different environments. This is when they are screened once again to see if they truly have what it takes to become an assistance dog. Sometimes medical or temperament issues keep dogs from continuing in the program and they are released to loving homes.
Once dogs are fully trained they are introduced to their partners. There is usually an intense two week training period when the new recipient and dog are trained to work together. At the end, a graduation ceremony takes place marking the beginning of a long-term relationship between the person and their dog.
Most organizations that train these exceptional assistance and service dogs do so free of charge and provide lifelong support through follow-ups, workshops, seminars and reunions. What a beautiful way to change lives!
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