1412069077 <![CDATA[Blog]]> en pmiller@zukes.com Copyright 2014 2014-09-25T18:52:00+00:00 <![CDATA[Dr. Jen On-Call: An Empty Cage in the Cat Ward]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/dr.-jen-on-call-an-empty-cage-in-the-cat-ward http://www.zukes.com/site/dr.-jen-on-call-an-empty-cage-in-the-cat-ward#When:18:52:00Z No veterinarian ever wants to lose a patient. We take it pretty hard. I guess it is inevitable from time to time for anyone in the medical profession — human or veterinary, but it never seems to get any easier.

Let me tell you about the time that I lost a sweet orange shorthaired cat named Cheeto.

I literally lost him.

Cheeto was in my clinic to have a wound on his head stitched up after a fight with a neighborhood cat. He came in late in the day, so after his procedure he stayed overnight in my clinic. I arrived early the next morning to discharge him, entered the cat ward, and stopped abruptly in my tracks. His cage was empty and the door wide open. His owner was expected in thirty minutes, so I began frantically searching the cat room, the dog runs, the closets, and the office. I even looked behind the fridge and under the surgery table. I knew Cheeto couldn’t have escaped outdoors because every clinic door was securely shut. I looked everywhere, but no Cheeto.

My anxiety escalated with each passing minute as his owner’s arrival drew near; my mind imagining Cheeto in the dark of night, confused and groggy from his sedation, getting stuck in an air vent or wandering out on the street.

Soon Cheeto’s owner knocked at the front door and I reluctantly went to let her in, wracking my brain trying to determine how best to break the bad news. I opened the door, stepped back, and took a deep breath, preparing to tell her I’d lost her beloved Cheeto, and then…a cabinet door in the reception area popped open. A sleepy orange cat casually emerged from the cabinet, stretched, and walked over to his owner. Cheeto!

I expected yelling and a demand for an explanation. Instead, Cheeto’s owner exclaimed with a smile, “Oh, how nice of you to let him sleep in the cabinet! How could you possibly have figured out his favorite place to sleep?”

My mouth still hanging open from Cheeto’s surprise appearance, I owned up to his nocturnal adventure in his search for more “homey” accommodations. We ended up with a good laugh, and Mr. Cheeto ended up with a flagged medical chart stating that he needs a double lock on his cage during future visits to the clinic, or perhaps a more cabinet-like cage interior?

How to prepare for vet visits if your cat isn’t as relaxed as Cheeto

Some cats, like Cheeto, don’t mind being taken to the veterinarian for checkups and appointments, while other would rather have their tail yanked by a small toddler than be stuffed in a cat carrier for the trip.

How can we help decrease their stress level? I recommend leaving the carrier open on the floor of your home for several days before a veterinary appointment. Feed your cat his or her favorite treats in the carrier, (perhaps some yummyNatural Purrz?) and leave a favorite toy there to entice them to spend time in the carrier voluntarily. On the day of the appointment, spray the interior of the carrier with a product such asFeliway,an over-the-counter pheromone spray that will help make the carrier smell like home. This may help reduce the stress of the trip for both you and your cat!




Jennifer Deming, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition. She strives to improve her patients' wellness through nutrition counseling and preventative medicine. Dr. Deming lives, works, and plays in the beautiful community of Durango, Colorado.

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2014-09-25T18:52:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Has Work Gone to the Dogs?]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/has-work-gone-to-the-dogs http://www.zukes.com/site/has-work-gone-to-the-dogs#When:06:00:00Z We sure hope so! We’re celebrating canines who punch the clock and the innovative companies that are leading the way by presenting this year’s Bark’s Best Places to Work contest. Enter your business to win a year’s worth of Zuke’s treats for all the dogs at your office!

Celebrating our Canine Colleagues

Zuke’s offices went to the dogs a long time ago. In fact, they really always belonged to the dogs. Zuke, a chocolate lab who had the honor of being the company’s inspiration, namesake and mascot, was the first employee, setting the stage for over two decades of cubicles and offices furnished with as many dog beds as chairs.

Now, on any given day there are as many dogs as humans at work. They are welcome everywhere by everyone. During work hours, they are our taste testers, quality control experts, de-stressing specialists and relaxation authorities. On their breaks, which are frequent throughout the day, there is a beautiful creek that runs through the property with trees, grass and toys for the pups to enjoy. They are an integral part of our team, the reason we come to work each day, and our daily reminder that life with dogs is the only way to live.

Granted, we are a pet treats company and are therefore somewhat biased, but we believe that the positives far outweigh the challenges for workplaces with dogs. And we know we’re not alone. There are thousands of businesses across the country that welcome their canine colleagues, understanding that the joy and warmth they bring to an office is undeniably beneficial to the business and to the people who work there: improved morale, reduced employee absenteeism and lower stress-related ailments like heart disease and diabetes.

By makingBark’s Best Places to Work one of our biggest sponsorships and promotions each year, our goal is to cheer for the dogs who punch the clock, celebrate the companies that are making it happen and increase the likelihood that more dogs will join the workforce each day.

If you have a dog-friendly workplace, enter to win a year’s worth of Zuke’s treats for all of the dogs in your office: www.thebark.com/bestplaces


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2014-09-22T06:00:00+00:00
<![CDATA[The Skinny on Fats & Oils]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/the-skinny-on-fats-oils http://www.zukes.com/site/the-skinny-on-fats-oils#When:21:09:00Z How many of you have added oil to your dog’s food to help with a dry coat? Healthy fats and oils are critical to both human and hound health. Beyond healthy skin and fur, fat also forms the building blocks of steroid hormones, which in turn, regulate reproduction, growth and development, salt and water balance, stress responses and more. Did you know that every cell in the body is lined with a fat-based membrane that controls what gets into and out of the cell and helps the cell communicate with its neighbors? And that a large percentage of brain mass is due to fat? If you call your dog a “fat head,” it’s actually a compliment!

So, adding a little bit of oil to your dog’s food is a good idea, right?
It depends! If you mean that big, clear plastic jug of olive oil on the kitchen counter, then not so much. Unsaturated fats contained in oils like olive, sesame and fish are sensitive to damage by light and oxygen. Feeding damaged oils to Fido introduces free radicals (“rust”) and inflammation, which contribute to chronic diseases like cancer, atherosclerosis and arthritis, among others.

Then why does coconut oil come in a clear jar? Because it is composed of saturated fats, which are resistant to damage by light and oxygen due to their chemical structure. More on saturated fats later...

And the plastic jug? It’s a source of unhealthy chemicals that leach into the oil. These chemicals, even in small amounts, may be sufficient to disrupt hormone balance and cause other problems (1). The solution? Buy your unsaturated oils in small, dark, glass bottles and store them somewhere cool and dark.

Unmodified, unrefined oils are the way to go!
Another important factor to consider is how an oil has been produced. Take coconut oil. In the late 1970’s and ’80’s, it got a bad rap due to studies employing hydrogenated (chemically modified) coconut oil. Hydrogenation results in an unhealthy, artery-clogging trans fat. In contrast, more recent research shows that unmodified, virgin coconut oil has many health benefits (2). Oil StructuresPalm oil is another dietary fat with a bad reputation; however, the unrefined/virgin form commonly known as red palm oil is high in carotenoids and other strong antioxidants, which provides support for vitamin A deficiency and may benefit cardiovascular health as well (3).

Saturated fats in coconut oil
Coconut oil is composed largely of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), a form of fat that is efficiently metabolized to produce energy in the body. This is one reason that coconut oil is an ingredient inPower Bones.Unlike unsaturated forms of fat, MCT are resistant to oxidative damage (“rust”), so they do not clog the arteries. (It’s rusty forms of fats and oils that contribute to plaque formation in the arteries). Studies show multiple health benefits from consumption of coconut and coconut oil, including protection from microbial infection, improved blood cholesterol and triglyceride profiles, improved blood sugar regulation, improved skin health, improved liver health and other benefits, better quality of life during cancer treatment and possible protective effects on nerve cells (2-5). Remember to get virgin coconut oil. Avoid hydrogenated as well as the “liquid coconut oil” showing up on grocery store shelves.

Fish oil...It’s where it’s at for Omega-3s
My grandmother took cod liver oil daily dose of cod liver oil and was still working in her garden well into her 90‘s. While cod liver oil may not have been the sole reason for her longevity, it probably didn’t hurt! I use a good quality fish oil daily and notice the difference when I don’t. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, which lower damaging inflammation in dogs (6-8), thus providing a wide range of health benefits. In human studies, fish oil was found to improve mood (9) – something I notice myself – along with providing protection against muscle deterioration (10), cardiovascular disease (11), and cancer development (12).Coconut fish and sesame oils

A short shout out to sesame oil
Another of the favorites around here is unrefined sesame oil, which protects against heavy metal toxicity in the liver and kidneys (13), increases the level of antioxidants in the body, decreases the level of rusty fats and improves blood balance of serum cholesterol and triglycerides (14). Sesame is an ingredient inZuke's Hip Action.

One last thing about all three oils...they have flavors that your pooch will love!






Anna-Marija Helt, PhD, is a research scientist-turned herbalist who practices and teaches at Osadha Herbal Wellness in Durango, Colorado. She is also Zoe and Milo’s human.



References

  1. Wagner, M and H Oehlmann (2009) Endocrine disruptors in bottled mineral water: total estrogenic burden and migration from plastic bottles. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 16(3):278-86. doi: 10.1007/s11356-009-0107-7.
  2. DebMandal, M and S Mandal (2011) Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): in health promotion and disease prevention. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 4(3):241-7.
  3. Ojuntibeju OO, et al (2009) Red palm oil: nutritional, physiological and therapeutic roles in improving human wellbeing and quality of life. Br J Biomed Sci. 66(4):216-22.
  4. Z. Law, KS, et al (2014) The effects of virgin coconut oil (vco) as supplementation on quality of life (qol) among breast cancer patients. Lipids Health Dis. 13(1):139.
  5. ZZ. Nafer F and KM Maerow (2014) Coconut oil attenuates the effects of amyloid-β on cortical neurons in vitro. J Alzheimers Dis. 39(2):233-7.
  6. LeBlanc, CJ, et al (2008) Effects of dietary supplementation with fish oil on in vivo production of inflammatory mediators in clinically normal dogs. Am J Vet Res. 69(4):486-93.
  7. Waldron, MK, et al (2012) Plasma phospholipid fatty acid and ex vivo neutrophil responses are differentially altered in dogs fed fish- and linseed-oil containing diets at the same n-6:n-3 fatty acid ratio. Lipids. 47(4):425-34.
  8. Hansen, RA, et al (2011) Menhaden oil administration to dogs treated with radiation for nasal tumors demonstrates lower levels of tissue eicosanoids. Nutr Res. 31(12):929-36.
  9. Rice, SM, et al(2014) Youth depression alleviation: the Fish Oil Youth Depression Study (YoDA-F): A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled treatment trial. Early Interv Psychiatry. Aug 13. [Epub ahead of print]
  10. Ewaschuk, JB, et al (2014) Role of n-3 fatty acids in muscle loss and myosteatosis. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 39(6):654-62.
  11. Mori, TA (2014) Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: epidemiology and effects on cardiometabolic risk factors. Food Funct. 5(9):2004-19.
  12. Jing, K, et al (2013) -3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cancer. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 13(8):1162-77.
  13. Chandrasekaran, VR, et al (2014) Beneficial effect of sesame oil on heavy metal toxicity. J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 38(2):179-85.
  14. Alipoor, B, et al (2012) Effect of sesame seed on lipid profile and redox status in hyperlipidemic patients. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 63(6):674-8.

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2014-09-19T21:09:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Celebrate Your Dog on National Hug Your Hound Day!]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/time-to-celebrate-national-hug-your-hound-day http://www.zukes.com/site/time-to-celebrate-national-hug-your-hound-day#When:18:42:00Z I love any excuse to celebrate dogs, so I was excited to learn that this Sunday, September 14 is National Hug Your Hound Day! The “unofficial” holiday (no time off work – sorry!) was founded 15 years ago by renowned Chicago Dog Coach Ami Moore, author of The Alphatude Attitude: Your Dog Wants You to Lead.

Moore says the day is about celebrating the “bond and emotional joy that having a dog in your life brings,” and trying to make America even more dog-friendly.

“The human/dog bond, I call it the superglue of the heart," she told me.



She says she got the idea for Hug Your Hound Day after studies showed the health benefits of hugging and petting dogs, such as relieving stress for both humans and canines alike as hormones like serotonin and oxytocin are released. (Studies continue to prove the health benefits of touching dogs; for example, in 2012, the American Journal of Cardiology published research (1) that found people with chronic disease and pets had more adaptable heart rates.)

“Most people get dogs because they see dogs as their emotional comfort food – their furry macaroni and cheese,” Moore says with a laugh.



But it’s not enough just to love our dogs – being a responsible dog owner is the other major component of Hug Your Hound Day, if we want to make the U.S. more dog-friendly.

“You should be able to take a well-mannered dog anywhere that you go,” Moore says. “But the key is ‘well-mannered,’ which means the dog should not bark, not jump, not growl, should not bite at anyone, not steal any type of food or anything.”




She says having well-trained dogs around makes everyone feel happier, and spreading that happiness is the fun of Hug Your Hound Day.

“The first thing is take your dog everywhere you can. In most states, the way the law is written, you can take your dog anywhere as long as food is not being served,” she says. “Have people hug your dog. Say, ‘Would you like to pet my dog? You can hug him – give him a treat.’ It’s a holiday to bring dogs to people who might not have them in their lives.”





Having our dogs interact with many different people is important too.

“I always advise people to really socialize their dog well, especially the people that don’t look like you,” Moore says. “Like if you’re tall, socialize your dog with short people. If you’re skinny, socialize him with fat people. Because the world is filled with all different types of people, and you don’t want your dog to scare anyone because they look a little different than Mom and Dad.”





Other ways to celebrate include volunteering with our dogs at hospitals, nursing homes or children’s literacy programs; teaching our dogs a cute trick like “shake” to entertain people; and, of course, throwing a party for friends and their dogs. In fact, Moore says Hug Your Hound Day is always on the second Sunday of September because after Labor Day, dogs are more likely to be allowed in public places like beaches – she throws a barbecue for her clients and their dogs at a local beach every year.

As for “petiquette” when you want to pet a new dog, Moore says to ask the owner for permission, and then let the dog come to you.

“The third one is always ask the owner, ‘Do you have a treat I can give the dog?’ Because affection combined with food creates a pleasant experience for the animal as well as the human.”




Ultimately, National Hug Your Hound Day is about helping our pups spread happiness to other people, ourselves, and back to the dogs themselves.

“That is always something that we who love dogs are pushing for: to create a bigger and better place for our dogs to enjoy their life,” Moore says. “For them to have a big life so we can have a big life with them."




For more information, visit http://chicagodogcoach.com.



Jen Reeder hugging RioJen Reeder is an award-winning pet writer and proud member of both the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers’ Association.

She hugs her rescued Lab mix Rio every day.






References

  1. Chan, Amanda. "Pet Ownership Linked With Adaptable Heart, Study Shows." HuffingtonPost.com. Huffington Post, 14 Feb 2012. Web.

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2014-09-10T18:42:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Put Out that Fire! Inflammation and Diet]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/put-out-that-fire-inflammation-and-diet http://www.zukes.com/site/put-out-that-fire-inflammation-and-diet#When:19:42:00Z Science has recognized that chronic, low-level inflammation in humans is a contributing factor to essentially all of the major, chronic disorders, including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, allergies, cancer, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and arthritis. So, perhaps, it’s not so surprising that dogs also suffer from issues related to chronic inflammation. The nerds amongst you can check out the following canine-related examples in the science literature, including oral inflammation, inflammatory bowel diseases and chronic allergies.

What exactly is inflammation?
It is a process mediated by the immune system in normal response to tissue damage from injury, infection, toxins, extreme heat or cold, or other influences. The acute inflammation triggered by such injuries is a protective response for the person (or dog) involved, and includes swelling, redness, heat, pain and possible loss of function. This normally is a self-limiting process that is initially signaled by chemicals released from the damaged tissues and/or by immune cells residing in the area.

Chronic inflammation
Inflammation becomes a problem when it becomes long-term. This may be in a particular part of the body or can become systemic, in part because those pesky inflammatory chemicals that are secreted don’t necessarily stay put. A common trigger of chronic inflammation in people and pups is food (1). Yes, food can be injurious! No worries, though, because not all food is. The main culprits are highly processed foods. These are products made with refined oils; refined flour; refined sugars; processed, poor quality meats, processed dairy products, processed vegetable proteins and other dubious ingredients.

Anti-inflammatory FoodsSo, if there are pro-inflammatory foods, are there anti-inflammatory foods?
Yes! Examples include vegetables,fruits (especially dark-colored berries), and cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, cod, halibut, trout and herring that contain anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids.

How does this translate to my dog?
Look for dog foods and treats that contain real food as ingredients, such as berries, apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, broccoli, and other flavonoid-rich foods salmon, grass-fed beef, etc. Avoid dog foods and treats that contain wheat flour, artificial colors, artificial flavors, sugar, and corn syrup. Small amounts of good quality herbs and spices are a good addition (2), for example turmeric, rosemary,parsley,sageand other of the “spaghetti spices” (not the purified essential oils!). Many of the functional foods discussed in my postings are, at least in part, anti-inflammatory.
Dogs D and Zeke
Finally, no pudgy pooches! Obesity increases systemic inflammation, and is also a result of chronic inflammation, so it turns into a vicious cycle (1). Make sure that your dog gets exercise every day. And, do not overfeed your dog, as tempting as it may be when looking into those soulful eyes!

Anna-Marija Helt, PhD, is a research scientist-turned herbalist who practices and teaches at Osadha Herbal Wellness in Durango, Colorado. She is also Zoe and Milo’s human.








References

  1. Muñoz, A and M Costa (2013) Nutritionally Mediated Oxidative Stress and Inflammation. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 610950.
  2. Nilius, B and G Appendino (2013) Spices: the savory and beneficial science of pungency. Rev Phusiol Biochem Pharmacol. 164: 1-76.


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2014-08-29T19:42:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Supplements: A Sea of Choices]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/supplements-a-sea-of-choices http://www.zukes.com/site/supplements-a-sea-of-choices#When:19:13:00Z A common question I get as a veterinarian is regarding supplements and their benefits. With a steadily increasing variety of choices on the shelves of pet stores and even our local mega-marts, I find that people want to know if any of these supplements are worthwhile for their pets. Let’s address some of the more commonly found products and their potential benefits.

Happy Joints, Happy Dog: Glucosamine

Research has shown that one of the best things you can add to your dog’s diet when they start getting older is glucosamine. This is not a new recommendation by any means, but recent studies continue to show the benefits of long-term glucosamine supplementation. Products containing glucosamine have been shown to protect cartilage from wear-and-tear, decrease damaging enzymes in joints, provide cartilage “building blocks” for repair, and increase joint fluid production. What’s more is that giving glucosamine daily can reduce the amount of prescription pain medication that a dog may need to help with arthritis pain. Many foods designed for senior dogs have some added glucosamine, but I find that most of these do not have enough to be considered therapeutic. A supplement or treat with glucosamine in combination with one of these diets can be a great way to help your dog stay active in their senior years. Ask your veterinarian how much glucosamine is right for your dog.

Other supplements in the joint-friendly family include chondroitin, MSM, ASU (modified avocado/soy extracts) and hyaluronic acid. I am a fan of all four! Hyaluronic acid is available in oral products but has better long-term effectiveness when given by injection under the treatment of a veterinarian.

Fish Omega 3Here Fishy Fishy! Fish Oils And Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids, often noted on the label as EPA or DHA, are long chain fatty acids that reduce inflammation in the body when in higher amounts than omega 6 fatty acids in the body. This translates to reduced pain from arthritis and reduced itchiness from allergic skin conditions. In people, they can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, and certain cardiac arrhythmias as well. When looking for a good source of these beneficial fatty acids, I recommend sticking with a fish or krill-based source.

Healthy Guts: Prebiotics and Probiotics

A popular new addition to the supplement market is prebiotics (fiber) and probiotics (beneficial bacteria). These can be very helpful for the maintenance of a healthy digestive system and also for treatment of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal parasites, post-antibiotic diarrhea, and certain digestive disorders. Probiotic lactobacillus and acidophilus are most commonly found for human use and can be quite helpful in pets, but I recommend the ones designed specifically for domestic animals. Fortiflora or Probiocin are two brands that I like the best. As far as the prebiotic side of the equation, adding psyllium or flax seed hulls to a pet’s diet can help with both chronic diarrhea and even anal gland problems.

Antioxidants

Milk ThistleWe “Zuke’s Dog Community” blog writers have frequently touted the benefits of antioxidants in our active canine companions. I cannot understate the potential help that this family of supplements can provide. CoQ10 (ubiquinol) is a potent antioxidant for the heart, kidneys, and liver. Milk thistle (silybum marianum)/ SAMe has tremendous benefits for slowing the progression of many types of liver disease. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-ulcer when given in proper amounts. These are only a few of the thousands on the market! This is a very broad family of supplementation—it would likely take several posts to cover them all—but I do recommend specific antioxidants to my patients depending on their health status and needs.




A Word on Supplement Safety

Most supplements fall under the umbrella of “nutraceuticals.” The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate these products. This means that the quality, purity, and dosages of these substances vary greatly from brand to brand. For example, cheaper fish oils may contain contaminants such as lead or mercury. Some milk thistle supplements are often made from crushed dried herb and have unpredictable concentrations of the active ingredient. Online organizations such as www.consumerlab.org conduct independent testing on nutraceuticals and can help guide a consumer to more reputable brands of supplements.

Please keep in mind that as a rule, if some is good, more is not necessarily better! Two good examples are zinc and calcium. Zinc can be great for the skin and certain hair coat conditions in dogs. Excessive zinc can cause breakdown of red blood cells in dogs and risk severe anemia. Calcium is essential for normal muscle function and bone health but too much in a growing large puppy can cause permanent changes that can make them more prone to arthritis later in life.

Supplements can often be an important part of a healthy lifestyle for pets and their people. I strongly encourage you to talk to your veterinarian about which ones and what dosages will be the best and safest for your furry family members!

Disclaimer: This information is educational in nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment.

Jennifer Deming, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition. She strives to improve her patients' wellness through nutrition counseling and preventative medicine. Dr. Deming lives, works, and plays in the beautiful community of Durango, Colorado.
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2014-08-15T19:13:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Swim Season - Treating Canine Ear Infections Naturally]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/swim-season-treating-ear-infections-naturally http://www.zukes.com/site/swim-season-treating-ear-infections-naturally#When:00:32:00Z Swim season!
Now that it’s warm outside, getting in the water to swim, or just cool down, is part of many dogs’ daily get-out-and-go activities.

That mean’s getting soaked when my pup shakes dry right next to me, and it means muddy footprints in the car when I forget the towel, and it sometimes means.....ear infections! But all of this is worth it for the joy of your pup playing in the water; especially since ear infections can be relatively easy to deal with if you catch them right away. You know the signs...your dog starts scratching at her ears, then that distinctive odor becomes apparent if you haven’t caught it early. Ear infections seem to be more of a problem in those floppy eared hounds like my late lab Zoe than in the pointy-eared variety like Milo, my Chihuahua/Terrier.

There are many handy commercial products for getting rid of canine ear infections, but did you know that you can make your own remedies with a common plant and what’s likely in your kitchen?

MulleinMullein flower oil
Mullein flowers show up in the summer on distinctively tall flower spike above a fuzzy rosette of grayish green leaves. Mullein is commonly found along roads and in other areas where the ground has been disturbed. It’s best to gather the flowers away from the road to avoid the road debris that will have inevitably settled on them. For ear infections, the flowers seem to reduce inflammation, helping with discomfort and speeding recovery time.

To make the oil, let the flowers wilt overnight to reduce water content. (Water = mold when making infused oils.) Then add the flowers to a small, clean jar, filling the jar about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Add olive oil to fill the jar, tap the jar to get rid of any trapped air bubbles and top off with oil. Any flowers sticking out above the surface of the oil may mold. Cap tightly and place the jar on a shelf in the sun for 2 weeks to a month. Strain through a natural cloth when ready. Don’t squeeze the flowers too hard when straining or you may release water into the oil, which will cause it to mold or ferment. Store the oil in a dropper bottle in the fridge. Olive oil will solidify in the fridge, but it melts quickly at room temperature.

Garlic OilGarlic oil
Garlic is one of the strongest herbal antibiotics. It is active against bacteria, as well as fungi and viruses. To make garlic oil the fast way, you can crush a garlic clove put it in a small, clean jar and add 2 tablespoons of warm (not hot) olive oil. Let it sit overnight on the counter with the lid on. Strain the next morning and store the oil in the fridge.

Please remember that dogs should not ingest raw garlic in large amounts – discard the garlic cloves and use the oil only in their ears. But Zuke’s uses garlic powder in some treats you ask. Dogs really like garlic and small amounts of dried garlic powder as a seasoning is perfectly safe – just keep the raw cloves and oils out of reach.

Zoe and MiloAnd, now the ear...
I like to combine one part mullein flower oil with one part garlic oil. This is useful not only for your four legged friends, but can be for people as well. It’s actually easier to work with kids, who you can bribe to sit still...not as easy with a dog! I carefully add about 4 drops to the ear canal with a clean dropper and gently massage the ear, repeating it 3-5 times throughout the day. You should start noticing a difference quickly -- less scratching at the ear -- but keep it up for a good three days. Your pup may smell like garlic, but it’s a small price to pay. If symptoms don’t change or seem to get worse, it’s time to bring your best friend to the vet.

You could also cheat and buy pre-made mullein/garlic ear oil from a reputable herb seller! Either way, it’s good to have either your home made mix or a commercial prep ready to go before your pooch hits the water, so you can get right on it at the first sign of infection.

Anna-Marija Helt, PhD, is a research scientist-turned herbalist who practices and teaches at Osadha Herbal Wellness in Durango, Colorado. She is also Zeke and Milo’s human. ]]>
2014-07-19T00:32:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Hot Dogs: Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke in Dogs]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/hot-dogs-heat-exhaustion-and-heatstroke-in-dogs http://www.zukes.com/site/hot-dogs-heat-exhaustion-and-heatstroke-in-dogs#When:17:09:00Z
How hot is too hot?

With the thermostat climbing, a fun day outside can quickly become uncomfortable (and dangerous!) to those wearing fulltime fur coats. It likely seems quite logical, but if you are outside and uncomfortable in the heat, than most likely your dog is too. Always be sure to provide plenty of fresh water and shade. Be sure to be cognizant of acclimation as well. In other words, if you were born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, a 90-degree day may feel quite mild. If you were raised in Barrow, Alaska, then that same 90 degrees may feel like the surface of the sun. The same goes for our pets. If your are travelling this summer with your dog and you are used to living and playing in cooler temperatures, a journey south to a warmer and/or more humid climate may pose more of a risk to your pet.

Which breeds have more problems with heat?

Dogs with short noses like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers more commonly have problems simply due to the shape and size of their airways. A 2006 study on canine heat stroke reported that Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Belgian Malinois have an increased risk as well. Smaller breeds are less commonly affected but this may be due to the fact that they don’t run/bike/swim/exercise with their owners as often or as intensely as their large breed brethren. Remember that dogs can’t sweat the way your or I can, so their body cooling mechanisms are limited to panting and a little through the pads of their feet. This makes them more heat sensitive than us humans.

When should I be concerned about my dog?Titan on the Bridge

The main symptoms for heat exhaustion and heat stroke are:

1. Excessive panting
2. Red gums or conjunctiva (the normally light pink part of the eye)
3. Dry mucous membranes (the dog version of “cotton mouth”)
4. Lethargy, sluggishness
5. Gastrointestinal upset (vomiting/diarrhea)
6. Hypersalivation (extra drooling)
7. High heart rate (consistently more than 100 beats per minute when dog is not running around)
8. Staggering, stumbling, loss of balance or coordination, changes in normal personality

What should I do if I see any of these signs?

The best thing to do if you see any of these signs is to seek medical care immediately. The longer that a dog’s core body temperature is over 104 degrees, the more permanent damage can occur. A normal body temperature is less than 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If you cannot make it to a veterinarian right away, try to encourage your dog to drink water, and attempt to cool his/her body temperature by letting him stand in cool water if some is available. Ice packs applied to the armpit and groin areas can help as well, but don’t leave them in place for several minutes at a time. They can actually cause the temperature to swing too far the other direction and cause hypothermia (low body temperature). Rinsing your dog in cool, not cold, water helps to gently reduce body temperature safely. If no water is available, rubbing alcohol applied to the pads of the feet can help lower body temperature too.

What can happen to my dog if he/she gets heatstroke?

Dogs with untreated (or delayed treatment for) heatstroke can cause some very rapid and very serious problems. To name a few, heatstroke causes clotting problems, kidney failure, seizures/brain damage, heart arrhythmias, multiple organ dysfunction, and eventually death. Yes, it’s scary stuff.

Any other summertime cautions?Titan and Jasper
I would like to mention a potential problem with outdoor activities that many overlook. Concrete, asphalt, and sand can heat to easily over 140 degrees in the sun. You may be wearing shoes but your dog is not. I strongly support taking your dog for walks but if it is in the middle of the day in the hot sun and you are stuck on paved surfaces, be aware of the excessive surface temperature. I have treated some pretty nasty burns on dogs that have been walked on hot pavement by well-intentioned folks. “Booties” are available at many pet supply stores that can protect your dog’s feet if needed and no grass or dirt paths are nearby.

Also, UV rays can affect our pets too. If your dog has a lot of white or tan on its coat, he or she can get sunburned, especially in the thin-coated areas around the nose and ears. Ask your veterinarian what kind of sun protection would be appropriate for your pet.

I would never encourage a pet owner to stay inside all summer. We love to get outside and play! But pay attention to the heat index in your area. Excessive temperatures and/or humidity can quickly turn an outdoor adventure into a scary ordeal. Consider playing in the cooler parts of the day, and be sure to provide some shade where your dog can cool off when needed. Now go enjoy the summer!

Disclaimer: This information is educational in nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment.

Jennifer Deming, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition. She strives to improve her patients' wellness through nutrition counseling and preventative medicine. Dr. Deming lives, works, and plays in the beautiful community of Durango, Colorado.

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2014-07-15T17:09:00+00:00
<![CDATA[SQUIRREL! – Is Off Leash Worth the Risk?]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/squirrel-is-off-leash-worth-the-risk http://www.zukes.com/site/squirrel-is-off-leash-worth-the-risk#When:21:36:00Z Close Your Eyes and…
Imagine yourself out walking your dog in the neighborhood. It’s a perfect day. Not only is the weather beautiful, but your dog is relaxed and heeling so attentively she resembles an obedience champion. Your mind wanders back to dog training class and the off leash heel you excelled at. You look in front of you and behind. No person or dog in sight. It appears to be the ideal time to practice a real life off leash heel.

You unclip the leash and she continues to pace attentively beside you. You swell up with pride. But, that joy filled balloon is popped two minutes later when SQUIRREL! Your dog is a blur of paws and fur as she scrambles across the street after a furry rodent scampering towards the busy intersection. You quickly come the realization that four legs move much faster than your two. The chase is on; dog after squirrel, you after dog.

Even worse, two on leash dogs appear around the corner. Your friendly dog is effectively deterred from the small animal when she sights the dogs and she exuberantly rushes to greet them. The problem is, these on leash canines appear menacing and are barking and lunging in synch at your rather oblivious dog. You catch up in time to untangle her from between the two canines who fortunately had bigger barks than their bite. As you clip the leash back on, your legs and body ache and your pulse is racing from the surge of adrenaline simulating similar feelings to having just been in a car crash. The perfect summer walk turned sour, and almost ended in the disaster.

Reality Check
This scenario is not uncommon for many people who try to take their dog off leash on walks. Letting a dog off leash in an unprotected area comes with a high level of danger to the dog and to others. The problem with taking a dog off leash outside of a contained area is that even for highly trained dogs, if the distraction is big enough, they still may opt to move away in the heat of the moment when temptation or emotional arousal is too high. The attention getter may be a myriad of things depending upon the canine and the specific circumstances. Common diversions include another dog, a child, a jogger, a smaller critter or cat, a skateboarder, an interesting smell, or even a stimulus that frightens them. In some cases, if the dog is caught just as their attention peaks, they can be restrained before they bolt. But the situation can happen so fast, many times the dog is locked on and moving at top speed before anything can be done.

Every time the dog gets away to chase a moving target, approach a person or animal, or gets the reward of simply running free and finding goodies, like discarded trash, the more likely the dog will be to bolt again in the future. Even canines that run away from your side in response to fear, like fleeing after a car backfires, or going to something they are conflicted over, like a scary looking man with a beard, inner turmoil and anxiety are lessened and they are reinforced by their action.

Danger, Danger
As a trainer, I like to practice off leash heels and recalls with my clients. But, I’m not a big believer in off leash ventures in unconfined areas, because the potential risk is most times far greater than the benefit. The problem is that when the situation goes wrong, the consequences can be serious.

Many times people trust their dog off leash far too much. From Yorkies to Shepherds, I’ve found that if the situation is heightened enough to make it extremely enticing, exhilarating or threatening to the dog, there’s little the owner can do to keep them back. Yes, there are some dogs who are velcro strapped to the side of your leg, and were they Rose in the end of the movie Titanic, they would never, ever let go. But, those dogs are in the very small minority. It would take a dog of superhero proportions to be reliable 100% all of the time. Even those canines who have undergone extensive training and are reliable in most every situation to 99% reliability, that 1% of potential failure still puts them and others in danger.

What are these dangers you might ask? At the very least, there are leash laws that are enforced in many areas, and a person with an off leash dog, even a well behaved one, can be fined. But, the more serious problems relate directly to safety. Dogs can run blindly into danger, like oncoming traffic, or become lost and disoriented after chasing something at length. Canines that are off leash and move to greet another person or dog can be viewed as a threat, and there’s little ability to intervene or control the outcome of how your canine or the other adult, child or animal may react. Even if your dog is friendly, the dog they run up to may be aggressive, as is the case with many behavior clients I work with that have reactive canines that are regularly ambushed by off leash dogs. The legal ramifications of an incident can be high, and even one bite with minimal damage can red flag a dog as a “dangerous dog” in some jurisdictions.

More Freedom, Less Risk
Freedom to explore and move in a less prohibited and free manner is important for canines’ mental wellbeing. But this can be done in a safe manner with low risk in case the dog loses focus and bypasses previous training.

  • Long line leashes vary from 10-30 feet and allow for the dog to explore and run, but also protect the dog from running away.
  • As much as I dislike retractable leashes, even these are a better alternative to no leash at all when walking in public.
  • The experience of being completely off leash is possible to provide with controlled risk by doing so in contained areas, like fenced yards or for friendly canines, off leash dog parks or beaches.
  • Or, for those with ideal circumstances, like my parents who live in the North Idaho wilderness, they can give the off leash experience to their dogs on their ranch as their closest neighbor is half a mile away. But, even then, it takes constant monitoring and recall training to keep dogs near and prevent them chasing after a deer, going too far away and becoming lost or potential prey for coyotes who also preside in the same space.

The Bottom Line
To me, unleashing a dog in a public, non-off leash dog area is unnecessary risk. It’s more about bragging rights for the person than the actual freedom for the dog. If the off leash training is done correctly and the dog indeed does stay at their person’s side, this gives no greater freedom to the canine than they would have were they on leash. So for your dog’s own safety, and for those around you, please, keep that dog on leash, no matter how well behaved they may be.

A skilled dog-trainer, Mikkel Becker, CPDT, KA, CTC, is an honors graduate of the rigorous and prestigious Academy for Dog Trainers at the San Francisco SPCA. Mikkel is also a graduate of the Purdue University DOGS! course and the Karen Pryor Academy. She currently works as a training expert for Vetstreet.com, a canine evaluator at The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, a resident pet expert for Scholastic Magazine, and a contributing author to Parade Magazine, House and Home, and Cat Fancy Magazine. Mikkel also provides private behavior consultations and group classes for dog owners. ]]>
2014-06-27T21:36:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Handy first aid plants for road tripping with your dog!]]> http://www.zukes.com/site/handy-first-aid-plants-for-road-tripping-with-your-dog http://www.zukes.com/site/handy-first-aid-plants-for-road-tripping-with-your-dog#When:20:54:00Z
Chamomile
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a safe, multi-use herb. It’s handy to have several Chamomile tea bags in your first aid kit. If you wrap them tightly in plastic or foil, they’ll last for about a year.

Chamomile may be helpful for a dog that’s nervous in the car or otherwise anxious, restless or just plain hyper. (The latter is a good description of Zeke...). In this case, stopping by a gas station for hot water and brewing a tea can be helpful.

For doggy dosing, divide the weight of an average person (150 pounds) by the weight of your dog (say, 50 pounds for Zeke). For Zeke, 150 divided by 50 is 3. Then you divide a person’s normal dose (8 ounces of tea) by this number (3 in our example) to get the doggy dose. For Zeke, this would be just over 2 and a half ounces of tea. I could then add the appropriate dose of tea his water or food, or use it to make a “soup” with some Mini Naturals, Mini Bakes or ripped up Z-Fillets. You can dose your pup up to 3 times over the day. German Chamomile

Chamomile may also be useful for eye irritation or an irritated bug bite on the skin. In these cases, thoroughly wet a Chamomile tea bag and gently hold it over the problem area for about 15 minutes. This tea bag “poultice” can be repeated with a fresh tea bag several times throughout the day.

Chamomile may also provide support in the event of nausea, doggie gas or other tummy issues. In this case, you could follow the tea instructions.

Yarrow
Yarrow’s botanical name Achillea is in honor of Achilles, the ancient Greek warrior who was said to have used Yarrow to staunch the wounds of his soldiers.Yarrow is traditionally used to stop bleeding and prevent infection of cuts and scrapes. If you are 100% sure what Yarrow looks like, you could harvest the leaves and, if blooming, the flowers to dry and keep in a ziplock in your first aid kit. If you don’t know what it looks like, it’s easy enough to get dried Yarrow from a reputable brick-and-mortar or online herb shop. Garden cultivars may not have the same activity as the traditionally used white-flowered Yarrow, Achillea millefolium.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)How do you use Yarrow? Say Zeke jumps out of the car and steps on something that cuts his paw. We may be a long way from a veterinarian. I would rinse the wound with clean water, check for anything stuck in the wound, then wet some of my dried Yarrow. I’d apply this gently to the wound to stop the bleeding and help prevent infection while searching for the nearest vet.

Another great use for Yarrow is diarrhea. Maybe Zeke ate something from the side of the road that he shouldn’t have. In this case, a Yarrow liquid extract, available from an herb shop or natural grocer, would also be a good component of your first aid kit. I don’t think any of my dogs would tolerate Yarrow as a tea...it’s too bitter! To deal with doggy diarrhea, I’d try getting 1/4 teaspoon for each 30 pounds of Zeke’s body weight, 2-3 times in a day. I’d probably add it to a small handful of Zuke’s treats to bribe him into taking it. Be sure that your dog has access to clean water to prevent dehydration from the diarrhea. Note that Yarrow is not for long term use, but it sure can come in handy when needed!

Some animals may be allergic to Yarrow, so before embarking on your trip, you should test this with a very small amount of the plant soaked in water to a patch of skin for a minute or so and look for reactivity over 24 hours. Ditto for Chamomile, though it is one of the safest herbs out there. If both test fine, try giving just a small amount to your dog and, again, check for any signs of negative reactivity. Internal use of both herbs should be avoided in pregnant pooches.

To learn more about herb use in dogs, the following are some handy books:

Wulff-Tilford, ML & GL Tilford (1999) All you ever wanted to know about herbs for pets. Bowtie Press, Irvine, CA.
Kidd, R, DVM, PhD (2000) Dr. Kidd’s guide to herbal dog care. Storey Publishing, North Adams, MA.
Pitcairn and Pitcairn (2005) Dr. Pitcairn’s complete guide to natural health for dogs and cats. Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA.

Anna-Marija Helt, PhD, is a research scientist-turned herbalist who practices and teaches at Osadha Herbal Wellness in Durango, Colorado. She is also Zeke and Milo’s human.
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2014-06-20T20:54:00+00:00