1. Five Ways You Might Be Unknowingly Crushing Your Dog’s Spirit

    December 27, 2014 by admin

    We all love our dogs and want to do what’s best for them, which also means keeping them as happy as possible! But what if we’re doing something that’s unknowingly making them unhappy or crushing their spirit? It’s likely you’re not, but just in case you’re unsure or want to help someone who might be stressing their dog, be sure to check out this list below!

    #1 – Not Exercising Your Dog


    This is perhaps one of the biggest problems in dog ownership. It’s understandable if someone doesn’t want to be active and healthy, or has a disability that prevents them from getting on the move, but preventing your dog from getting adequate exercise is detrimental to both their physical and mental health. Dogs need to get outside, and that doesn’t mean just going out into the yard. Taking your dog for a walk or playing ball at the park is an excellent way to make sure your pooch has the right amount of exercise he needs, and it will only help strengthen your bond. After all, your dog wants to be with you, not out in the yard alone!

    #2 – Taking Your Dog’s Food & Toys Away


    We’ve all seen people take their dog’s food bowl away while they’re eating or their toy away when they’re chewing on it. This came about by people wanting to show their dogs that they’re the alpha and that their dog should respect them. Resource guarding, when a dog becomes aggressive to protect a resource such as food or toys, often happens when owners don’t establish clear boundaries with their dogs. To prevent this, people think that they need to be able to constantly take food away in the middle of a meal or alpha roll their dogs as a punishment to ascertain their alpha status. Unfortunately, it’s often a highly misguided attempt at dog training. All dogs that have been raised or given clear boundaries will willingly share their food or toys with their owners, and have no problem with it being taken away. So what’s the reason for doing it every time you feed your dog? Well, there ISN’T one! If you take your dog’s food away and give it back during every meal, all your dog really sees you as is a big bully that’s always there to take what he wants away. Your dog doesn’t understand why you’re doing this, and can actually become aggressive from the stress of knowing their meals will always be taken from them. The old rule of staying away from a dog if he’s eating should be more widely accepted, because it’s true. How would you like it if someone took your dinner away for a few minutes just because they could?

    #3 – Putting Your Dog in a Crate for Punishment


    Crates are an excellent training tool. But the idea of crate training is to make your crate a fun and safe place for your dog to relax, yet so many owners insist on using it as a time-out place for dogs. This only leads to animosity towards the crate, and when you need to use it for something else you’re going to have a hard time getting your dog inside and keeping him stress-free when he’s confined. Dogs don’t understand time-out punishments, because they don’t speak our language and aren’t built to generalize the way humans to. Using time-outs won’t be seen as a correction to your dog for his bad behavior, and he won’t understand that he did something you didn’t like. Training happens in the moment of the event, and dogs aren’t children that will sit and think about their actions as the day goes on. So if you’re going to use a crate, please make ensure that it’s a fun and lovely place for your dog to rest!

    #4 – Constantly Yelling at Your Dog


    Imagine if the only training you got at a brand new job was your boss yelling at you constantly for your mistakes. You’d probably really hate going to work! The same goes for your dog. When you have a dog that hasn’t had any basic training, and only gets yelled at all the time, he’s likely to be a very stressed out pooch. This is because he knows you’re upset and doesn’t understand why, because you haven’t taught him any manners or what behaviors are desirable. Not only that, but the constant emotional turmoil is felt by your dog, and you’re likely to damage your relationship. Another point to consider is how seriously your dog will take you when there is a very real problem. Think of it as the boy who cried wolf. If you’re always yelling for Fido to come here when he’s running around the backyard, but you never actually teach him to come to you, what do you think will happen when he runs out into traffic? He hears you yelling, but that’s nothing knew because you’re always yelling at him. So he runs right out there, and you can imagine how the story goes. In other words, yelling at your dog constantly doesn’t do anything to help him, and really only serves as a way to stress him out or get him lost or injured.

    #5 – Leaving Your Dog Alone for Extended Periods of Time


    Most of us have jobs that keep us away during the day, and we leave our dogs at home to relax until we get home. But if you’ve got more than the average 40-hour a week job, and are constantly traveling or gone for more than 8 hours at a time, it might be worth considering whether a dog is a good choice of pet for you. Dogs are social animals and need to spend time with their families. That could be an entire household or just you. When they don’t get the socialization they need, they become sad, stressed, and even destructive. It’s important that you’re able to fit in the proper amount of exercise and playtime with your pup, even if you’ve got a busy schedule. If you’re gone for long periods of time during the day or travel often, make sure to find a suitable dog walker or doggy daycare that can keep your pup happy. Any dog that’s left alone for extended periods of time on a constant basis is likely to be unhappy and unhealthy. So make sure that you’re able to provide the love and care your pooch needs!


  2. A Vet’s View of Home Euthanasia for Pets

    December 9, 2014 by admin

    A Vet’s View of Home Euthanasia for Pets

    By Dr. Jessica Vogelsang

    Nobody says, “I hope I die in a hospital bed in the ICU in a lot of pain.” If you were to query your friends, most people would probably say, “I hope I die at home in my sleep.” (In fact, according to some surveys, as many as 70 percent to 90 percent of people would prefer to die at home.) The uncertainty of knowing when and where we will shrug off the mortal coil is a great source of angst for many of us humans. Dogs and cats have it a little different.
    We have a unique opportunity in veterinary medicine to provide more control over the circumstances of a loved pet’s passing than our colleagues in human medicine, because veterinarians are entrusted with the significant power to provide euthanasia. And although we have been easing the medical aspect of the death process through the choice of drugs in our arsenal, only recently have some veterinarians come to embrace the emotional aspect of the process by providing a service many people desperately want: to say goodbye to their pets at home.

    Why Home Euthanasia?

    “My first home euthanasia in 1994 was a life-changing experience for me,” says Dr. Amir Shanan of Compassionate Veterinary Care in Chicago. “It was a couple who had taken care of a quadriplegic 80-pound Doberman who had surgery for cervical disk disease and was never able to get up after the surgery. They had cared for this dog for eight months before realizing there was no hope.”
    He pauses. “There were a lot of tears and hugs, and I walked out of there thinking, Wow. There must be a lot of other people who would prefer this over the stainless steel table.” Shortly thereafter, Shanan placed his first ad in the yellow pages for in-home euthanasia services. At the time, he said, that was practically unheard of.
    “The clinic setting is limiting,” Shanan says. “In general, households are a much more personal interaction with the client. They are in an environment that is more conducive for them to express their feelings, more so than in the clinic.”

    Creating a Better End-of-Life Experience

    As more people began requesting this service, more veterinarians began to offer in-home euthanasia. “Home euthanasia is almost getting to be mainstream,” Shanan says. “It’s not where we were 10 years ago.”
    In 2009, Shanan founded the nonprofit International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care to address the growing prevalence of home-euthanasia providers and provide guidelines for “comfort-oriented end-of-life care.” He sees this type of service as much more than just showing up and administering an injection.
    For Shanan, offering home euthanasia is just one component of creating a better end-of-life experience for pets and owners. “People want support, help in making decisions, from the perspective centered on their needs and values,” he says. “They want someone helping them figure out what’s right for them. A lot of times, that’s the piece that’s missing more than anything else.”
    However, euthanasia shouldn’t be confused with hospice care for pets, a relatively new option in the animal world. Hospice care can be provided after a pet has been given a terminal diagnosis and is intended to keep the pet comfortable until natural death or euthanasia.

    A More Peaceful Process

    When Cristen Prenez’s Golden Retriever Max was diagnosed with cancer, she didn’t know home euthanasia was an option. “I have a wonderful vet who I’ve been going to for 20 years,” she says. “When Max got sick, he had a tumor on his knee, and it became increasingly more difficult for him to get in the car and go to the vet. We knew it was terminal, and it was really painful and stressful for him to get to the car.”
    Her regular veterinarian referred her to Dr. Lynn Hendrix of Beloved Pet Mobile Vet in Davis, California, for an end-of-life consultation. Prenez calls the decision to euthanize Max “brutal,” but Dr. Hendrix’s guidance made a big difference. “I didn’t know what to expect. Lynn came to the house and explained how the [process] works. She was extremely compassionate and caring, and we had lots of questions, [like] ‘How do we know when it’s time?’”
    For Prenez, the ability to keep Max at home was key, but just as important was Dr. Hendrix herself. “[Hendrix] was very much about what Max was feeling, and we had a complete open line of communication about behaviors,” Prenez says. “It’s a fine line, and she really helped us figure that out.”
    When Prenez decided that the day had come to let Max go, Dr. Hendrix came to the home. “It was a long experience, but in a good way,” Prenez says. “She recapped all the steps. Everyone was loving on Max. He was very comfortable.”
    Prenez was shocked at how peaceful she found the process to be at home compared to the clinic. “You don’t want your family member to die in a hospital; you want him to die in a peaceful, happy place,” she says. “Sometimes you can’t get away from it, but we had an option.”
    When Prenez’s second dog, Haley, became ill several years later, she again called on Dr. Hendrix. “We knew what to expect. We knew that [Haley’s] cancer was super aggressive, and the process for euthanasia was an easy one. There was no anxiety.” Haley, a Beagle, still had a voracious appetite despite her aggressive cancer, and Prenez recalls “laughing to the very end” through her tears as they fed Haley treats. “I never thought that losing a pet could be like that.”

    Opening Up Options

    Though Shanan is among his profession’s leading advocates for in-home euthanasia, he doesn’t believe it is the only option clients should consider. He says many people are concerned that euthanizing a pet at home will result in bad memories in the home, and in those cases, he respects the clients’ concerns.
    “My view is not that home euthanasia is best for everybody,” he says. “What’s most important to me is opening options — giving the family a sense that they have some power and control over some of the decisions.”
    Shanan recalls one of the ways he had to become creative to provide families with the experience they needed: “There was a dog who was comfortable only swimming in the pool,” he says, “so I administered the sedative to the dog in the pool, while he was being held by his owner. I was laying on the side on the concrete.”

    Is Home Euthanasia the Right Choice for You?

    Prenez says she will never go back to taking a pet into the clinic for euthanasia. “We will do this for every one of our pets and recommend it to every one of our friends,” she says.
    Talking to your vet ahead of time — if possible — about how you feel about this end-of-life decision can help ease the process a little when it’s time for you to say goodbye to your pet. If you think at-home euthanasia might be right for you and your pet, ask your veterinarian if she provides this service. If not, a referral can often be arranged.
    “Humans need to feel comfortable with losing a pet, and they want to know their pet has been comfortable until the end,” Prenez says. And for Max and Haley, she is relieved to know that they were.

    Beautiful Cami in her final minutes. Right where she should be.
    Wrapped up in the person who loved her most.


  3. December 2014 Dog of the Month – Howard

    November 21, 2014 by admin


  4. The Hardest Decisions You Can Prepare For

    November 20, 2014 by admin
    The Hardest Decisions You Can Prepare ForLast week, all the practice employees at Paws into Grace gathered for an evening meeting. As always seems to happen, the phones had been quiet all day but as soon as the meeting began, it started to ring.

    We paused while one of the doctors took the call. We’re used to it. I could see her brow furrowing as she heard the distress in the voice of the person on the other end of the line, and she made an appointment to head over there right after the meeting was concluded.

    Five minutes later, the phone rang again. “We want to wait till morning,” the client said.

    And five minutes after that, “Well, he’s doing really poorly. What should we do? Should you come? Is it time? This is so hard!” the person said, and the doctor nodded and agreed, because this, too, is something we often hear.

    She called several times over the next hour, debating about whether or not it was time to put her beloved dog to sleep, whether she thought the dog could make it through the night without suffering. Then the phone was passed to the daughter of the owner, who had her own concerns and wasn’t sure it was time. They debated some more.

    What Can You Do?

    It is tremendously difficult to have to commit to that final decision to euthanize a pet. When more than one person is involved in the decision and you don’t agree on whether or not it is time to let go, the decision is even more challenging. But there are ways to make it better.

    The number one thing I wish more owners did was to talk to one another and to a qualified professional as soon as a pet receives a terminal diagnosis. A frank discussion while the pet is not in crisis is so much more productive than last minute decisions made under duress. A veterinarian experienced in end-of-life care can fill in many of those uncertain questions that owners struggle with, such as:

    1. What is the normal progression of this type of disease?
    2. Is this painful? Will my pet experience pain, fatigue, nausea?
    3. How far am I willing to go pursuing a cure? At what point do I stop and transition to hospice care or euthanize?

    Owners who are pre-armed with this knowledge find the decision a little easier to make when the time comes (though of course, it’s never truly easy!) There are very objective ways to score pain and quality of life that help people make a concrete assessment about whether or not they should make the decision. And when pets are educated about the very specific physical signs of pain or distress unique to dogs and cats, it makes it much easier for them to look past their own fear and denial and agree it is time for a gentle goodbye.

    Eventually, our doctor did go to the home, and two and a half hours later the family made the decision to say goodbye. My heart goes out to anyone who has struggled so mightily with that choice, and I hope that as owner awareness of pre-planning increases, more people will be willing to have those rough discussions sooner rather than later.


  5. Thanksgiving Holiday Dangers to Avoid

    October 31, 2014 by admin

    Ah, Thanksgiving… a joyous holiday when friends and family join us for a day of football, lounging, and all-day tryptophan turkey tasting. The smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie, and turkey all baking in the oven slowly filter through the house, driving you – and your dog – slowly mad.

    Being that my specialty is emergency and critical care (and being that I work at an animal poison control too), I have to start my first blog by telling you how to avoid a visit to the animal ER! Here, a few tips on how to pet-proof this Thanksgiving holiday (which would make your emergency veterinarian grateful too!):

    First word of advice? Keep your dog out of the kitchen…or better yet, crate him. Accidental counter-surfing can result in severe poisoning to your pet, ruining your holiday and causing you shame when you have to induce vomiting in your dog in front of all your friends and family (Always check with your veterinarian or an animal poison control helpline prior to inducing vomiting, of course.).

    Next, make sure your guests know the house rules: Don’t feed your pets. Your friends and family may not be aware of the common kitchen foods that are quite poisonous to pets. Politely inform all your guests to keep their food out of reach and to never feed your pet without your permission (particularly if your pet has food allergies).

    Last? Dump the trash. Somehow, your dog will find a way to get into it, and the leftover corn-on-the-cob, yummy string that goes around the turkey legs, turkey skin, bones, moldy food, and fatty grizzle all pose a threat to your pet. Potential problems from “garbage gut” include gastroenteritis (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain), pancreatitis (severe inflammation of the pancreas), a gastrointestinal obstruction, or even tremors or seizures.

    So, what tops the list for the most dangerous Thanksgiving foods that are poisonous to your dog?  Grapes, raisins, and currants
    Currants and raisins are commonly found in stuffing, baked goods, and as snacks. When ingested, these fruit from the Vitus sp. can result in severe acute kidney failure. Signs of poisoning often don’t show up for days, until kidney failure has already taken place.

    Onions, leeks, chives, and garlic
    When ingested, these common kitchen foods from the Allium sp. can result in oxidative damage to the red blood cells, making these cells more likely to rupture (e.g., hemolyze).  Cats are especially sensitive, and can develop a severe anemia (low red blood cell count) from even small amounts. Thankfully, this is typically seen more with chronic ingestion (e.g., when they are eating it for days), but to be safe, keep these out of reach.

    Xylitol
    If you have any calorie-counting chefs in the kitchen (I mean, really, why bother on this holiday?!), you may want to verify if they’ve used any xylitol in the baked goods. Xylitol, a natural sugar-free sweetener, is a sugar substitute used in a ton of products nowadays: gums, mints, mouth washes, nasal sprays, chewable vitamins, baked goods, chocolate, etc. When ingested by dogs, it can result in a massive insulin spike, causing a life-threatening hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and even liver failure with higher doses.

    Fatty table scraps
    While I’m guilty of feeding my own dog table food (and yes, he gets to lick the dinner plate when I’m done), I’m savvy about what is healthy or not. Fatty table scraps like gravy, turkey skin, etc. are potentially dangerous to your dog, as it can result in severe pancreatitis. Certain breeds are especially sensitive, including miniature schnauzers, Shetland sheepdogs, and Yorkshire terriers. Even a piece of bacon can trigger pancreatitis in dogs, so when in doubt, don’t feed it to your dog or cat!

    Bones and turkey legs
    Huge no-no. While you may think you’re giving your dog a treat, you’re actually putting him at risk for a possible foreign body obstruction. I’ve seen the rare dog die from getting a chunk of bone stuck in the esophagus. The bones can also get stuck in the stomach or intestines, potentially resulting in a perforation (or rupture) of the intestines.

    Unbaked bread dough
    About to throw some fresh bread in the oven? Make sure your dog doesn’t eat the unbaked dough first. When this occurs, your dog’s stomach acts as an artificial oven, making the yeast rise and release carbon dioxide, causing a distended abdomen and potential life-threatening gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). Next, the yeast and sugar in the unbaked dough are metabolized to alcohol, resulting in secondary alcohol poisoning in your dog.

    Alcohol
    As mentioned above, we can see alcohol poisoning from weird sources (e.g., unbaked bread dough, rum-soaked fruitcake, etc.). Likewise, dogs can be poisoned by ingesting alcohol drinks, so keep the mixed drinks and beer away from your dog. Accidental ingestion can cause severe coma, slowed respiration, and a life-threatening low blood sugar in your dog.

    If you think your dog or cat ingested something poisonous, contact your veterinarian or an animal poison control center right away. When it comes to any poisoning situation, the sooner you diagnose it, the easier it is to potentially treat, the less invasive it is to your pet, and the less expensive it is for you. Now, that’s something to be grateful for…


  6. November 2014 Dog of the Month – Daisy May

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  7. October 2014 Dog of the Month – Ebola Dug!

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  8. September 2014 Dog of the Month – Marissa and Maggie

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  9. August 2014 Dog of the Month – Amy and Gracie

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  10. July 2014 Dog of the Month – Teyana and Trini

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