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?
Mullein 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 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.
And, 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
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?
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?
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.
http://www.zukes.com/site/squirrel-is-off-leash-worth-the-risk#When:21:36:00ZClose 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.
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.
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
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.
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’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.
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. ]]>2014-06-20T20:54:00+00:00
http://www.zukes.com/site/not-all-dogs-are-created-equal-feeding-large-vs.-small-breed-dogs#When:14:00:00Z The Big Guys vs. the Little Guys
Full grown, large-breed dogs do not have quite the restrictions of their juvenile counterparts. While there is no standard definition of large vs. small breed diets, we typically see the large breed foods have:
Lower calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and chloride
Lower calories overall
Why these specifications? Decreased calories help to keep a big dog lean—a critical element to preventing or managing arthritis as a dog ages. Also, larger breed dogs burn fewer calories per pound than their more petite canine counterparts, both at play and at rest.
Many pet food companies offer “performance” diets. These are sometimes called “high-pro” or “active adult” foods that typically feature:
High levels of omega 3 fatty acids
Extra vitamins and minerals
Highly digestible carbohydrates (or high glycemic carbs)
Higher calorie density
These are useful in very active dogs. But please note that these aren’t ideal for an average housedog. A couch potato human can’t expect to be able to run a marathon after wolfing down a sports bar or a bottle of Gatorade without first properly training for the event. Eating a performance snack or food does not turn a person into an Olympic athlete, nor will a performance diet make your dog an Iditarod racer. In fact, the high calorie content of these performance diets can contribute to weight gain if you don’t keep your dog very active. But if your dog hikes, trains, hunts, or herds, a performance diet may be worth considering. Just make sure to pay attention to the recommended feeding instructions on the bag. I recommend you read a previous article about specifics for feeding a canine athlete.
The Wise Ones: Doggie Seniors
The foods designed with senior dogs in mind—usually defined as dogs over seven years of age—can vary greatly, but typically involve:
Reduced protein and fat
Increased fiber, commonly called “prebiotics”
Extra Omega 3 fatty acids
The senior years of a dog range from 7 until 15 or more years of age. In human years, this is 55-115. It’s logical that a 55 year-old human has very different nutritional needs than a 115 year-old. Think of your dog in a similar way. As they get older, the more delicate digestive systems of the older guys usually change, requiring a slightly lower amount of protein and highly digestible sources of carbohydrates. Some of the newer grain-free diets are quite high in protein and may pose a problem for some older dogs. I highly recommend consulting your veterinarian before trying one of these formulas to make sure it is appropriate for their age, health, and lifestyle. Learn more about why antioxidants are good for seniors.
Other Specialized Diets
There are so many choices out there for our furry friends! It still amazes me that diets can be so specialized depending on an individual dog’s needs and life stage. For example, diets designed for dogs with chronic mouth problems are commonplace now and can really help play a role in maintaining oral health. Veterinarians have prescription diets available to their patients that address diseases such as liver or kidney malfunction, heart disease, diabetes, allergies, and cancer. If your dog has any of these conditions, you may wish to discuss special diets with your veterinarian. It’s exciting to think about what other types of food specialization we may see in the near future!
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.]]>2014-06-04T14:00:00+00:00
http://www.zukes.com/site/sizing-up-the-pup-training-for-large-and-small-breeds#When:20:03:00Z Smaller Dogs, Bigger Problems?
Though smaller dogs get away with more, they are more likely to have problem behavior. A study by researchers at the Austrian University of Veterinary Medicine, surveyed 1,300 dog owners of both small and large dogs. The results show small dogs are significantly less obedient to their owners. Small dogs were also reported as significantly more anxious, fearful, overly excitable and aggressive.
The size of the dog is less to blame than how the owners deal with their small dogs. Small dog owners did considerably less training and playtime with their canine and had less predictable daily interactions; with all combining into a behavior disaster for small dogs.
As a trainer, I know I’m more likely to be bitten by a small dog than a big dog; albeit the bite from a larger dog has greater potential for injury. In the veterinary hospital where I train, sometimes alongside my father veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, we’ve found the smallest of canines can be the biggest of biters. We both are advocates for making veterinary visits for pets less stressful by using less stressful exams combined with enjoyable rewards, like our go-to treat, Mini Naturals. Making the veterinary experience less stressful is important for all animals, but is emphasized for small dogs, who are most likely to become anxious and reactive on visits.
Many small-sized dogs learn by experience to act mightier than their small frame. Take my best friend’s Chihuahua-yorkie mix, Bear, who has the confidence of a military police dog. Bear takes his name literally, with all six pounds of him ready to take on any challenge. He stands boldly at the end of his leash and displays like a seasoned attack dog. Bear, like many dogs, likely learned through experience that reacting on leash garners both attention and space from the other dog. Bear was taken into training to help with reactivity and learned alternative responses, like heeling and eye contact, in combination with counter-conditioning with treats. After remedial training, the end result was a calmer, better-behaved dog that not only acted better on leash, but was less stressed.
There are several reasons why dogs of small stature have such high reactivity rates and may be less well-behaved. Small dogs are less likely to be socialized and trained with the same consistency given to large dogs. In addition, behavior problems in small dogs are allowed to progress for longer before they are addressed, because it’s seen as less problematic in comparison to a large dog. Pint-sized pooches are also inadvertently rewarded for reactivity by their owners. When a small dog becomes uncomfortable and barks or lunges, many times the owner picks them up to comfort and protect their dog. Thus, overtime, the dog learns to react because they get lifted up or taken away, thus rewarding the canine for their display.
Training: One Size Fits All
If a behavior problem or manners issue needs to be addressed in a dog, size doesn’t matter when it comes to the right training a dog should receive. Even though a dog’s motivation varies somewhat depending upon their personality, breeding and experience, the principles behind how a dog is trained remains consistent.
One of the most surprising questions I get as an animal trainer is whether I only work with small or family-friendly dogs, or if I can work with “powerful” breeds like Pit Bulls, Mastiffs, Great Danes and German Shepherds. The reason I think I get asked that question so often is because of the perception of impossibility for a 125-pound woman to have control of a large dog that outweighs and frankly “out strengths” me, and with big teeth to boot. This reasoning may have some basis behind it were I using confrontation-based training where I would have to overpower, outlast and intimidate a dog into listening to me. With the use of force alone, I would be on the losing side. But my training doesn’t work that way.
What’s Good for the Gorilla is Good for the Dog
I use training based in positive reinforcement that has been used to train even the most powerful animals, like orcas, rhinos and gorillas; that are far too large to be man-handled into obedience. Positive reinforcement crosses species because it is based upon rewarding desired behavior in a progressive manner, thus increasing compliance and communication. Rewards can be food or whatever the animal desires, including toys or access to certain privileges. Training with rewards also builds positive emotions in the animal that make fear-based reactions like biting less likely to occur.
In Miami, I trained with two bird trainers, who had one of the only trained Cassowary birds in the world -- a flightless bird with a reputation for attacking people with weapon-like claws. Even though the Cassowary is considered one of the most dangerous animals in the world, their Cassowary willingly complied with handling and training, doing behaviors for reward like routine weight checks. The same two trainers used similar non-force based methods with all the birds under their care, from hawks to toucans, because they were effective, safe and built trust between man and bird. In the same manner, dogs of all sizes and breeds are best trained using reward-based training without force to build the closest bond and maintain behavior change long-term.
Despite size, breed, and age, all dog breeds are trainable and learn under the same theory that has been used to train numerous animals, from domesticated animals in the home to animals of abounding variety within zoos. Because learning theory crosses size and breed, my training applies to all dogs regardless of breed or size, and I relay to pet owners that all breeds are welcome with me.
While the scientific theory behind successful training remains the same for all dogs, the path to achieving the desired behavior will differ for each animal. The differences depend on the emotional state, motivation, past experience and innate tendencies of the individual dog. Breed tendency can play a part in a dog’s behavior, as well dependent upon their breed’s intended purpose. Dogs may display breed characteristics, like herding dogs being highly aware of movement and hounds keen on smells. These differences are to be worked around, such as knowing a terrier is likely to chase and potentially kill small animals. And, they can also be utilized to build wanted behavior, like employing a sight hound’s desire to chase by rewarding calm behavior, like a sit, with a game of chase after a stuffed animal on the end of a rope.
Though size is relative when it comes to training, there are a few considerations when training small dogs. Though all dogs need to be protected from harm, when the dog is especially small, the potential for serious injury is increased. For that reason, smaller dogs require increased caution in situations that are less predictable, such as when around small children or dogs of larger size. Smaller dogs also fill up faster than a larger dog, and may have pickier palates when eating. Large dogs, like Labradors, are commonly such eager eaters they need a waist-line check with lower calorie, yet tasty treats while training, like Skinny Bakes. Smaller dogs on the other hand are sometimes pickier and opt for smaller, meat based treats, like Z-Filets or already small treats, like Mini Naturals. Break up treats into mini pieces to prevent a small dog from filling up too fast, and thereby extending the time you have to train.
As a trainer, I enjoy working with dogs of all sizes and breeds; from the supersized to the mini. It’s the training, not the size of dog, that makes the biggest difference in changing problem behavior and creating a better-behaved pup.
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 forVetstreet.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.
Just as with people, what your pet eats plays an important role in cancer prevention. On one hand, this means avoiding foods that promote cancer, such as any food that contributes to inflammation or oxidative stress (free radicals!). Some likely culprits in your dog’s life are damaged fats such as that “yummy” bacon grease you may feed your dog, dog treats made with white flour, or foods containing artificial colorings and flavors. On the other hand, nutrient-dense real foods are healthful and help prevent cancer, such as clean and lean meats, vegetables, healthy fats, and a bit of whole grains.
Some real powerhouses in the food world that have been shown through research to help prevent cancer in your dog include the following:
Blueberries Blueberries are supreme fighters of inflammation and oxidative stress due to their bounty of vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytochemicals called polyphenols. Multiple studies show that blueberries may help prevent or inhibit cancer growth by reducing the incidence of cancer-causing DNA mutations, slowing the increase in cancer cells, inducing cancer cell death via “cellular suicide,” and preventing the spread of tumor cells to other parts of the body (metastases) (1). You can add a small handful (about a dozen or so) to your medium-large dog’s food a few times a week. For smaller dogs, 4 or so should do.
The beta-carotene found in carrots reduces oxidative stress in the body, while stimulating the repair of cancer-causing DNA mutations through a process called “base excision repair”. In this process, mutated bit of DNA are cut out by the body and replaced with the proper DNA (4). Carrots may help prevent bladder cancer (2), to which beagles, Shetland sheepdogs, wire hair fox terriers and West Highland white terriers are particularly vulnerable (3). They may also help prevent leukemia, lung cancer and other types of cancer, too. You can shred fresh carrot onto your dog’s food, or lightly steam them and mash them up for a particularly yummy food topper.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3s receive a lot of attention for their anti-inflammatory benefits, and research suggests that they may benefit our dogs in addition to humans. For use with dogs, a good quality fish oil is a great choice, preferably from a smaller fish like sardines, helps avoid heavy metal contamination. Fish oil is better for dogs than oils such as flax because fish oil provides EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids, which reduce chronic inflammation agents in the body. Flax, on the other hand, provides ALA, an omega 3 fatty acid that does not appear to confer the same anti-inflammatory effects as EPA and DHA (5). Be careful on dosage. Dogs should nott be given a human dosage of fish oil. Divide 150 by your dog’s weight, and reduce the dosage by the resulting number. So, if a people sized dose is 1 teaspoon of oil, and Zeke the Lab weighs 50 pounds, that would be 150/50, which is 3. So divide the people -sized dose by 3. In this case, Zeke would get 1/3 of a teaspoon on his food daily. If you have any questions or concerns on dosage, contact your veterinarian.
Did you know that the liver protects us and our dog from cancer by inactivating many different types of carcinogens? Turmeric may help prevent cancer by supporting healthy liver metabolism, as well as protecting it from the damaging effects of chemicals that it has to break down. Turmeric also reduces systemic inflammation, and research suggests that it has cancer-preventative activity (6). A pinch is enough on your pets food, but don’t use turmeric with animals suspected of having bile duct blockage. Also, use whole turmeric powder, not purified curcumins, as specific chemical components of purified curcumins may cause side gastrointestinal side effects that whole turmeric powder do not.
Finally, obesity in dogs is increasing in the U.S. which puts your dog at an increased risk for cancer and many other serious health problems (7). If you could set a table for two on your dog’s back, your dog is too wide! So, the first simple step to take with your dog to prevent cancer is to avoid overfeeding her and make sure that she is active. Chubby pooches may be cute, but they are not healthy!
Lastly, in honor of Canine Cancer Prevention Month, please consider a donation to The Dog Cat Cancer Fund , which provides small grants for a pet's cancer treatment to folks who cannot afford lifesaving help. All donations, even small ones, greatly help pets in need.
Want to read more about foods that can help prevent canine cancer? Check out some previous posts:
Collins, AR and I Gaivão (2007) DNA base excision repair as a biomarker in molecular epidemiology studies. Mol Aspects Med. 28(3-4):307-22.
Anderson, BM, DWL Ma (2009) Are all n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids created equal? Lipids in Health and Disease. 8:33.
Schaffer, M, et al (2011) Curcuma as a functional food in the control of cancer and inflammation. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 14: 588-97.
target = "_blank"Zoran, DL (2010) Obesity in dogs and cats: a metabolic and endocrine disorder. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 40(2):221-39.
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. ]]>2014-05-16T18:22:00+00:00