Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Some dogs have no problem with the sight and sound of fireworks if they’ve been desensitized — hunting dogs, for example, grow used to the sounds and smells of hunting rifles and gun powder. Most dogs, however, are not used to these things, so the 4th of July can be a particularly stressful holiday for dogs and their humans alike. More pets run away and are lost on the 4th of July and New Years than any other day, so you should take extra steps to ensure their safety. Keep a keen eye on your dog during the commotion, and make sure your dog is wearing proper identification. It is natural for dogs to be afraid of loud noises. The sounds trigger their nervous system, and they can become anxious, afraid, unsure, or shy. Running away from the noise is a survival mechanism. Remember, to your dog, the experience of fireworks is different than other loud natural noises, like thunder. They are closer to the ground, more vibrant, and are accompanied by sudden booms, flashes and burning smells. Remember, dogs experience the world through their senses – nose, eyes, ears — and the typical 4th of July celebration can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help keep your dog calm, making for an easier holiday for both of you. 1. Preparation. Arrange to have your dog in a place where there won’t be loud fireworks displays — a friend’s or relative’s home or a doggie day care with which your dog is familiar. If it’s an unfamiliar place for your dog, take him over there a few times in the days before the holiday so that it won’t be a surprise when you take him there on the Fourth. 2. Accommodation. If you cannot take your dog to a place away from fireworks, then have a travel kennel at home for her to feel safe in. if you’re not going to be home, have a friend or sitter there to keep your dog company and take her out to relieve herself every four hours. 3. Acclimation. The best way to prepare your dog for fireworks is to make sure he’s comfortable with the sound in advance. While this is a simple process, it can take time — possibly three or four months of playing the recorded sound of fireworks for your dog at an increasingly louder volume before he eats, before a walk, before affection and play, and condition him by association to hear the sound and interpret it as something good. While you can try this method over only a week or two, in such a short time span it should only be used in conjunction with one or more of the other tips. In any case, play the firework sounds. 4. Sedation. If you do find it necessary to use medication or a thundershirt to calm your dog during the fireworks, remember that you must introduce any such tool at the right time, conditioning your dog to understand that the medication or thundershirt is there to bring them to a calm state. This means that you must bring your dog to that calm state first, then introduce the tool — before the fireworks and the anxiety begin. If she is already at an anxiety level of 8 or 9, then her mental state will overrule the medication. If she is already breathing heavily, then the thundershirt, which is designed to slow her breathing, won’t work. A tool is an intellectual thing we use with a dog’s instincts. The challenge is knowing how and when to connect the two. 5. Communication. If you are going to be with your dog during the fireworks, sending the calming message that they are nothing to worry about will also help him to relax. Remember, though, while humans communicate with words, dogs communicate with energy, and will look to their pack leader for clues on how they should behave. If you’re not making a big deal or showing excitement about the fireworks, then he will learn to be less concerned as well. In all cases above, expend your dog’s excess energy first, before the fireworks start, by taking her on a very long walk to tire her out and put her in a calm state. Most importantly, don’t think of this in terms of your dog as your child who is missing out on a great, fun time. That’s human guilt. Your dog won’t know what she’s missing. You’re being a good pack leader by not exposing her to a situation that will trigger her flight instinct in a negative way. When the booms and bangs are over, your dog will be grateful for you having made it a less stressful experience. We sell stress away all natural chews for fireworks if needed!
Monday, December 9, 2013
Anal gland disease is a common problem in dogs and cats. The anal glands, also called 'anal sacs,' can become impacted, infected, and abscessed. Affected pets may lick the anal area, 'scoot' along the floor, or have problems with defecation. This behavior is most commonly linked to anal glands, not to worms, as is commonly believed. This article will help you better understand anal glands. Location and function of anal glands As the dog or cat is viewed from behind, anal glands (also called anal sacs) are located on each side of and slightly below the anal opening, at the 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock positions. A tiny duct or tube leads from the gland under the skin to an opening directly beside the anus. All predators, whether they are canines or felines in the wild or skunks in your backyard, have anal glands. They just use them differently. Skunks discharge the secretion from these glands as a form of defense, while dogs use it primarily for territorial marking or as a form of communication. In dogs and cats, every time a stool is passed, it should put enough pressure on the anal glands that some of the secretion is deposited on the surface of the stool. Other dogs and cats are then able to tell who has been in the neighborhood, just by sniffing the stools they find. Additionally, dogs and cats recognize each other by smelling each other in the general area of the anus, since each animal's anal glands produce a unique scent. Diseases of the anal glands Anal gland impactions, infections, and abscesses can occur. Here is how: For various reasons, such as the conformation of the animals, the thickness of the gland's secretions, or the softness of the stool, these glands and their ducts often become clogged, or 'impacted.' When this occurs, the animal will sit down on its rear quarters and drag its anal area across the floor or ground. This is called 'scooting.' Both dogs and cats may lick the anal area excessively. Impacted anal glands are a very, very common problem for dogs, especially the smaller breeds. Anal glands may also become infected and abscess. Bacteria make their way into the glands, probably through the ducts. This is a very painful condition, and the first sign you may see is that the animal attempts to bite or scratch when you touch the area near the tail. Treatment and prevention When the glands become impacted, a veterinarian, groomer, or the pet's owner must clean them out, or 'express' them. This empties the glands of all material. It is done by applying pressure with the finger, start below the gland and then pushing upwards. In some dogs, this needs to be done every week or two. Impacted glands do not affect the overall health of the pet. The problem is that pets may injure the anal area when scooting across the ground, or discharge the secretion on the carpet or floor. And this material has a terrible odor. Anal gland abscesses must be lanced by a veterinarian, and antibiotics are usually given to the pet for seven to 14 days. Using warm compresses on the area often helps to relieve some of the pain and reduce swelling. Secondary problems sometimes occur with abscesses, as they may cause scar tissue or other damage that may affect the nerves and muscles in this area. This can cause fecal incontinence, meaning the pet cannot retain its stools. If an individual pet only has an occasional problem with the gland, they can be dealt with as needed. However, for pets with repeated or chronic problems, surgical removal of the glands is recommended. This procedure is called an "anal sacculectomy".With the removal of these glands all problems associated with these glands are eliminated for the remainder of the pet's life. Although a fairly simple procedure, complications such as fecal incontinence can rarely occur. Dogs with recurrent anal gland impactions are often placed on a high fiber diet. The high fiber makes the animal's stool more bulky. The stool will put more pressure on the anal glands as it is passed, and hopefully the glands will express themselves when the animal defecates. There are several commercial brands of high fiber dog food available. Animals may also be supplemented with bran or medications such as Metamucil which will increase the bulk of the stool.