Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dementia in Senior Dogs; What We Do to Drive Veterinarians NUTS!

Guest Blogger: Linda Messina

Today we're going to post about Senior Dogs with Dementia. It's a subject I've been researching over the last couple of weeks because Reba is starting to show signs that she's made a decision to totally ignore me forever or she can't hear me or she's zoned out and is sleeping standing up.  I find that Reba is showing signs of dementia. She's pushing age 17 and these things are expected. It's how we handle them that matter.

In my research I found an article by Dr. Patty Khuly from Miami FL who has some very impressive degrees from some very impressive schools. In the article Dr. Khuly talkes about ways to deal with the effects of the disease. The symptons with an * by them are the things that Reba is showing so far.

Dementia in Senior Dogs: 6 Ways to Deal With the Effects

Confusion, disorientation, dogzheimers. Call it what you will, but canine dementia (known clinically as canine cognitive dysfunction) can be a serious problem. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from many of the same symptoms:

  • Sleep-wake cycle disturbances* 
  • Generalized anxiety 
  • Lower threshold for aggression 
  • Decreased activity levels* 
  • Inappropriate vocalization (howling, barking or whining) 
  • Repetitive behaviors (pacing)*
  • Elimination disorders 
  • Staring at walls* 
  • Fewer social interactions 
  • Disorientation (getting “lost” in the house
  • Nipping and biting* (not mentioned in the article but something Reba has started doing over the last couple of months. I think it may have to do with her losing her peripheral vision.
Getting old and loopy doesn’t have to be as stressful as all that — not for dogs lucky enough to be cared for by owners willing to learn what it takes to mitigate the effects of dementia as they age.

To read how to mitigate the effects, in six mostly simple steps, click here:

Are you experiencing any of these symptoms with your furbaby?

While we were checking Dr. Khuly out we noticed another article she's written about what us humans do to drive Vets nuts!

She starts out admitting that It’s a tough subject to tackle. She admits that veterinarians do plenty of annoying things, too. But this particular post is all about us, the pet parent. Personally my jaw dropped at some of these things people have done. So without any further hedging, let us launch into the most annoying things pet owners do here.  Let us know what you think.
Don't forget to enter the Up Country Inc Contest at the top of our page. DRAWING on the 31ST!
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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Great News and Congratulations to Facebook! (did I just say that????)

Yes I did! We are barkin' happy that Facebook did something socially conscious in the pet community and that's why we are posting this good news today. In response to concerns raised by the ASPCA and its national “No Pet Store Puppies” campaign, measures will be put in place to ensure that puppy mill dogs will no longer be sold via Marketplace on Facebook. The ASPCA is working with Facebook and Oodle, the online classifieds service that powers Marketplace on Facebook, to restrict listings of puppy mill dogs on the popular social media site. Through an ongoing removal process, ads placed by puppy mills have already started coming down. The process was designed to ensure that individuals may continue to post dogs available for a nominal adoption or re-homing fee. To read more click here.

Hats Off Award

Halo Pet Food, partially owned by Ellen DeGeneres, wins the very first
'Hats Off Award' from Pet Food giant Science Diet challenged Halo in 'Advertising Court' (bol!). The Hats Off Award is to recognize Pet Food Manufacturers that have acted or taken action encouraging the pet food industry to become accountable for their ingredients, labels, and manufacturing of pet foods and treats. More about this story here.
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Friday, March 16, 2012

Medicines Top the List of Household Poisons for Pets

We thought this Press Release from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) today was something we wanted to post in advance of the 50th anniversary week. We can never be reminded enough about the things around our homes that can poison our beloved pets. 

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., March 16, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- On the 50th anniversary of Poison Prevention Week, March 18-24, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is reminding pet owners that accidental poisonings are a common problem.

The vast majority of accidental poisonings in humans happen in the home, and that's true of pets as well. Many pet owners are surprised to learn how many common household items are hazardous to pets. The AVMA online brochure and video can help pet owners recognize threats to their companion animals.

"Every year, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control hotline handles over 150,000 cases of pets being poisoned, and many of those cases involved common household items," explains Dr. Steven Hansen of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). "In our homes, the bathroom is the most dangerous spot for pets. The single most common reason for calls into the poison hotline is because pets have consumed medications."

Dr. Hansen explains that childproof tops on medications offer little protection against a dog determined to get into the container. Not only are prescription drugs dangerous for dogs and cats, but some over-the-counter medicines, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, are extremely poisonous to pets.

Many household poisonings happen when pet owners dose their own pets using human medications. Owners should never give a pet any pill without consulting their veterinarian.

Other household poisons include:

Houseplants are common household hazards for pets, including Cycad (Sago Palm), philodendron, dieffenbachia and lilies, which are extremely poisonous for cats. For a complete list, visit .

Xylitol, a common artificial sweetener in pudding, sugarless chewing gum and baked items, is very poisonous to dogs and can result in death.

Raisins and grapes are toxic to dogs and cats. While researchers haven't determined the cause of this toxicity, for some reason raisins seem to be far more likely to result in a serious poisoning.

Birds are sensitive to aerosol sprays, like hair spray or fragrances, and also avocados.

Chocolate can make a cat or dog very ill. The more concentrated the cocoa, for example in baking chocolate, the more dangerous it is for pets.

Onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, and coffee grounds are toxic to dogs and cats.

Cleaning products, automotive chemicals, like antifreeze, batteries, pennies, moth balls and glue all present issues for pets. Keep these products in close cabinets or high off the ground.

If you suspect that your pet has gotten into a poison, immediately call your veterinarian, your local emergency veterinary clinic or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

For more information on veterinary medicine, pet health and household hazards for you pets, please visit .

The AVMA, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world, with more than 82,500 member veterinarians worldwide engaged in a wide variety of professional activities.

SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association

Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved
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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Food Energetics for Pets

Last week I talked about 'natural' foods for pets and what that really meant. In my house it initially meant getting rid of things in my food that were not natural to canines like grains - all grains. We progressed from there into eating raw foods to promote better health for me and believing in the Food Energetics philosophy.

One of the books that helped convert us is "The Tao of Healthy Eating" by Bob Flaws. The philosophy he follows is that all animals (and people) can be classified as "hot" or "cold" or "neutral" based on a few characteristics. We can change those classifications by eating the foods that will cool or warm the body.

Another go to source is Chris Bessent, DVM and Herbalist. She is a true holistic veterinarian and says "I see a lot of animals that are on a variety of diets, and there is no denying that dogs who are on a great nutritional program are generally healthier than dogs who are fed a diet of low-end kibble. Food can be just as instrumental in maintaining wellness as supplements, medications, surgery, and regular veterinary care. Every food has properties and actions in terms of how they affect the balance of the body in Chinese theory.  Dogs that have a tendency to be hot in nature should be fed cooling foods, and dogs that tend to be cold in nature should be fed warming foods." This is a similar concept to how we tend to eat certain foods according to the season. For example, we don't eat beef stew in the summer and watermelon in the winter.

Hot Dogs vs Cool Dogs

How to determine what your dog is. "Hot" animals tend to be young, outgoing, hyper, can be aggressive, pant a lot have a red tongue which may have cracks in it, drink a lot, love to play outside on cold days, sleep on tile floors sprawled out, and can have a dry or brittle coat. Older animals that are "yin deficient" have lost their cooling abilities and can also show these symptoms. Feeding a "hot dog" hot foods (like lamb or venison, which are considered the hottest proteins) is like throwing kerosene on the fire. Hot dogs should be fed cooling foods to dampen the negative effects of heat on their bodies. Proteins like duck, rabbit, or fish are considered cooling by Chinese theory, and are best for a dog that has allergies or is generally hot in nature. If a dog is on a raw or real food diet, you can explore other options like fruits, vegetables, and grains. For example, some great cooling fruits and vegetables are apples, bananas, oranges, pears, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and mushrooms.

On the other paw, "Cold"' animals tend to be older, fatter, sluggish, more laid back, love to sleep in the sun or under the covers, may have moist skin problems, greasy gooey ears, don't drink as much, and don't like to go out on cold days. However young animals can be "cold" too.  Their tongues will not be dark red, but may be lavender or pink. So, a dog that has cool tendencies should be fed warming foods. A "cold dog" may show signs like general weakness, fatigue, exercise intolerance, poor appetite, shortness of breath, slow moving, and a preference to lay around. They may also seek out warm places, have fecal or urinary incontinence, stiffness that gets worse with rest, joint pain that gets worse in the cold weather, or have coldness of their ears, back, and limbs. All of these symptoms of coldness can be aided by feeding warming foods like turkey, chicken, squash, sweet potatoes, cherries, or oats. Similarly, a dog that is affected by arthritis tends to be cold in nature. (This is why arthritis gets even worse during the winter months.) For this reason, a dog that needs added joint support would benefit most from a warm diet. 

Some pets can have characteristics of both hot and cold, so our humans  need look for the predominant signs. You can never go wrong with neutral foods.  Foods like beef or salmon are great for any dog. You can use neutral foods for dogs that are well balanced or to dampen the effects of hot or cold foods given as part of an animal's diet.  Other examples of neutral foods include tuna, milk, cheese, eggs, white or brown rice, potatoes, peas, carrots, or green beans.    

The food we feed our dogs impacts their health, their mood, and their general well being. We saw a dramatic improvement within 3 weeks when my food was changed from 13 years of Science Diet to raw. 

Flaws says "we do not recommend feeding foods with corn, soy, wheat, or white rice in general, as an animals body is not meant to digest carbohydrates and these items are really just fillers in lower quality foods."

Go to a small independent holistic pet store and you'll find food you've never heard of. They are generally small manufacturers who would never farm their manufacturing out to facilities that process commercial pet food. When you look at those brands try to make sure the first few ingredients match what you are trying to accomplish through food energetics. For instance, a good cooling food for a hot dog would be a duck and sweet potato or a beef and barley meal, while good warming meal for a cool dog would be lamb and rice or oats. "It is recommended that you NEVER feed lamb based foods to hot, dry, hyper dogs (think Jack Russell Terrier bounce!)" according to Flaws.

If you feel as though this is confusing, this chart should make it easier to determine which foods are best for your pet. In any case if you are thinking about changing your pet's diet always be the good pet parent you are and check with your Vet or local small holistic store.
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Friday, March 2, 2012

Natural Pet Food - What does it mean and is it really better?

Some of you know that when I was a mere pup of 13 years old, my Mommy took me off a high end food Veterinarians sell and started me on the road to a raw diet. The 2 years previous to the diet change involved lots of time spent with knowledgeable self-taught friends dragging Mommy kicking and screaming to their way of thinking. Eventually it started to make sense and she spent more time with owners of independent pet shops learning about what was really in the food I had been eating. Grains, chicken parts (what parts I asked. Reba you really don't want to know they said). Mommy didn't like that I was eating ground up chicken talons and beaks not to mention other undesirable less than nutritious fare. So we were on the road to raw** foods and holistic supplements. 

It seems today that the big box pet stores are jumping on the bandwagon and offering all kinds of natural foods. When it comes to pet food, the options are almost as varied as people food. "Natural food" is a growing trend among our furry friends, so we wanted to talk about what does a natural diet actually entail?

For Veterinarian Doctor James Bianco*, it's a no-brainer. We found Dr. Bianco, whose practice is Ardmore Animal Hospital in Pennsylvania. He is often called on to speak about pet health issues and diet. "They (natural foods) are worth their money, absolutely. They're worth their money because they promote healthy skin and healthy coat, they promote a healthy immune system," said Dr.Bianco.

Natural food will say "natural" on the packaging, but that isn't the only word you will want to look for. You must look at the ingredients. "The first things you look at, the type of meat. Is it a meal, is it a meat by-product, or do you have corn or soy as a first ingredient. What you want to see is meat," said Bianco.  One of the first things Mommy and I did was cut out all grains and I give a puppy up  recommendation that you stay away from grains of any kind. Dogs are carnivores. We don't forge around in wheat or corn fields in the wild. We go for the nutritious stuff.... meat, tripe, salmon, rabbit, chicken and beef hearts, venison, pumpkin, carrots, sardines, fruits, nutritious yummy foods!

National pet store chains are growing their inventory and it can be confusing. Many have a section devoted to natural options, but Doctor Bianco recommends the mom and pop shops in your neighborhood"Personally, I feel that going to the smaller, non-national chain type stores is where you're going to get your best information. Many times when you have the owner there, they're very knowledgeable," said Bianco.

We could not MUTTer more in agreement. The small independent shops are way ahead of the game and they understand what 'natural' means. They will steer you in the right direction for your dog. In fact, most of them will want to meet your dog to determine the best food for him or her.

And that's where Food Energetics comes in. When we went to a small independent store where we spend the summer, we were amazed when the owner looked at my gums and said "Oh, Reba is a warm dog she has red tongue and gums". She asked my Mommy if I liked to sleep snuggled under covers or on a cool spot on the floor. I always go for whatever is going to make my tummy cool. That short evaluation (more came later and continues to this day) gave her the information she needed to steer my Mommy to food for warm dogs. I should not eat what cool dogs eat. She actually started me out on Nature's Logic Duck and Salmon and I thought I died and went over the bridge! BOL!

So Food Energetics is a subject I'll talk about in my Blog next week. It's fascinating stuff. You don't have to buy into it but all I can tell you is that it has worked for me and within 3 to 4 weeks of being on the raw diet my Mommy could tell a big difference in me. She said I was like a different dog. 

But isn't this an expensive undertaking Reba? Well depending on the brand or if you make it at home yourself it can cost anywhere from $30 to $100 a month but there will be may be some hidden money savers. 

Your dog will eat a smaller quantity of food, feed him the same amount you are feeding now and he will gain weight. Because there is no filler in these foods our poop is much smaller and it doesn't smell and it's perfectly formed and easy for the pawrents to pick up and you just might have fewer trips to the vet.

"As veterinarians, we see dogs on the more premium diets with healthier immune systems, healthier coats, less gastrointestinal problems," said Dr. Bianco. Overall, pet lovers say that they can see a difference.

FYI - a word worth writing down: AAFCO, it's the pet version of the FDA.

Next week:  Food Energetics for pets.

* Ardmore Animal Hospital has provided compassionate care and veterinary services since 1937 for pets in Ardmore as well as the Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Radnor, Wynnewood, and Narbeth areas. Currently owned and operated by veterinarian Dr. Bianco since 1989, our veterinary hospital caters to the health and well-being for dogs, cats and certain pocket pets including guinea pigs, ferrets, rabbits and hamsters.

**Cavet: Raw does not necessarily mean raw out of the freezer or fresh not cooked raw although many people do it that way. There is air dried raw and other raw presentations. Raw home prepared meals are often referred to as the Canine Cancer Diet.
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