Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Is your dog at risk for Ivermectin sensitivity?

If you know someone who has a herding breed or a dog who might have some herding breed mixed in (such as Australian shepherd, German shepherd, Sheltie, Corgi, Border collie, smooth or rough-coated collie, Bearded collie, etc) please tell them that there is an identified gene that causes an extreme toxic reaction to the drug used in the heartworm medication called Heartgard (the drug is called Ivermectin). 

This drug is used for a few issues, including some forms of mange.  If you think you may have some herding breed DNA in your dog (or if you want to make sure your dog doesn't have this gene) there is a DNA test you can order from the Univ. of Washington, online, and it costs $70.  Here is the url for it:

I have a blue merle Sheltie, and we know for sure that blue merle dogs of any kind should not be given Ivermectin (Heartguard).  So I'll use an alternate heartworm prevention medication for him.  I'm having my Borzoi tested as an extra precaution, since Borzois are known to be sensitive to certain medications (and way back in time, Borzois were created as a breed using-- among other breeds-- collies. Silken Windhounds are known to be one of the breeds at risk for Ivermectin sensitivity, though Borzois aren't on the list.  I'm getting her tested anyway).  I know my lab/golden mix is fine.

Ginger nearly died from Ivermectin toxicity
To read of the surprising experience of an owner of an Aussie-Golden mix, Ginger, click here http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts-VCPL/news/ginger.aspx

If you have a mixed breed dog adopted from a rescue group, you may not really know what your dog's DNA composition is.  It's good to know about Ivermectin sensitivity and the availability of this test.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Vaccinating against kennel cough

We are fostering a rescue dog (adorable Finn-- check out his special blog with video and details here )and in order to protect my dogs from any viruses or bacteria he may have from the animal shelter, I should have vaccinated them against kennel cough a few weeks before we fostered him. But the series of events didn't happen that way, and I hadn't kept up with my dogs' bordatella (kennel cough) vaccinations so they are, in fact, vulnerable.  Here is a video of what kennel cough sounds like (and it can also sound worse than this):

But it's not a big deal. It's like being vulnerable to a cold. But the coughing that accompanies kennel cough can keep a light sleeper like me awake at night. So even though I'm late in doing this, I decided to catch up and get my dogs vaccinated.

I found out that many places around the South Bay offer vaccination clinics on Saturdays, but we didn't think of this till late Saturday night so we missed them. The cost for a bordatella vaccination is $20 per dog (and it lasts about 6 months).

I logged onto PetcareRX.com, and was able to order 6 doses (an entire year's worth) for all 3 dogs for $8 per dose (which includes the $23 overnight shipping charge). And they give you points for previous orders, so I even got a further discount. Ya gotta love that. I like the savings but the real perk here is that they'll have it to me by Tuesday at the latest, allowing me to vaccinate my dogs and not have to wait for a vaccination clinic next Saturday. The vaccine takes at least a week to kick in, so if my dogs have already been exposed to kennel cough from other dogs at the dog park, or from our rescue dog, it's too late to stop it. But as I said, it's not a big deal.

I also vaccinate my own dogs for distemper and parvo, using this same company (and they sell the syringes and needles too). I'm vaccinating no more than every 3 years for these, which is what the American Veterinary Association recommends. (I mention this because many boarding kennels still expect you to have your dog vaccinated for these once a year, and that's not in your dog's best interest).

For more info on kennel cough, watch this video:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Study: Driving under influence of pets is a danger

Safety experts have a new pet peeve related to distracted driving.

In addition to texting or talking on a cell phone while driving, lap dogs and other pets left unrestrained inside moving vehicles pose a major distraction that could be deadly, a new study released Wednesday warns motorists.

About two-thirds of dog owners surveyed by the AAA organization said they routinely drive while petting or playing with their dogs, sometimes even giving them food or water while maneuvering through traffic.

It has been a common sight for many years to see dogs hanging their heads out of open car windows with their ears flapping in the breeze. But in the cocoon that the automobile has become, more drivers are nonchalantly cradling their dogs atop their laps or perching the animals on their chests with the pet's front paws clutching the driver's neck or shoulders.
It's risky behavior for the driver and dangerous for the pets, too.

For the full article, click here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Leaving your dog in your car

Is it practical to expect that we would never leave our dogs in our cars? I don't think so. I'm an advocate of taking your dog with you during the day as much as you can, of getting her out in public as much as you can, and training her in as many different places as possible. If you recently adopted a dog, the first few weeks run the highest risk of your new dog escaping from your yard, and taking her with you in the car (in a crate) keeps her safe and gives you many more opportunities to interact and bond and train during those first few weeks.

This means then that there will be times when you need to leave your dog in the car while you're inside a place that doesn't allow dogs. Here's what you need to know:

1. It's not illegal to leave your dog in a car, despite what you may have heard. It IS illegal to leave your dog in unsafe conditions, like enclosed in a hot car, (even if the windows are down a bit-- if it's hot in there, it's not appropriate. I hope I don't have to tell you that!). Animal control officers will get called out by someone complaining about a dog "locked in a hot car" and it's their judgment call whether the situation is dangerous for the dog or not. (Often people will call without knowing if it's unsafe for the dog or not-- many people think it's illegal to have a dog left in a car at all). If the officers have any concern for the dog they are authorized to break into your car and take the dog. They don't do this lightly, don't worry. So have your cellphone number on the crate so if they have a concern they can call you. (They will also use your license plate number to look up who owns this car). Your strategy should be to make it obvious that the environment inside the car is not hot, and to make it easy for someone to contact you if they are concerned. Having a large thermometer showing the temperature in your car is not a bad idea. That way, anyone can look and know it's all OK. You can even post a card that says "this dog is comfortable and cool". If people realize you've gone to great lengths to ensure the dog's safety, they're less likely to think they're witnessing an unsafe situation.

2. There are tremendous advantages to having your dog ride in her own crate while in your car. I recommend having a a wire open-air crate, to be left in the car permanently.

3. When your dog is safely crated in your car, you can leave every window wide open while you run inside the store to provide adequate ventilation and comfort.

4. You can padlock the door so no one can steal your dog (and you can link a bike lock through the crate to attach to an inside part of your car, to prevent someone from lifting out the entire crate and stealing your dog).

5. Many people who are not well educated about dogs will become needlessly alarmed when they see a crated dog, and they're the people you need to be concerned about. They wrongly think that anyone who crates a dog must be a sadistic animal hater. Their heart is in the right place, but they can cause problems for you. This is why it's wise to lock your crate. In addition, it's wise to buy inexpensive "crate fans" for your crate, and make a label for it that says "cooling fan" so they'll know what it is. You can these excellent devices here.

6. Obviously, if you can park in the shade or in a covered parking spot, do so. Obviously, you must remove anything worth stealing from your car if you're going to leave the windows wide open.

7. Even when the windows are wide open, pay attention to the direction of the sun, and if it's hitting your dog crate directly, throw a cloth over that part of the crate to provide additional shade inside the car for your dog.

8. You can also provide some water in the crate for your dog with this kind of water dish which clamps onto the inside of the crate door. I keep a gallon bottle of water in my car to refill the water bowl as needed, and I bungee the bottle to the side of the crate so it won't spill over in the car.

9. If you ever have a car accident, your dog is infinitely safer being in a crate than being loose in your car, even with a "dog seat belt" on. It's helpful to have a small leash clipped to the crate so if there IS an accident and you're unconscious and are being helped by an ambulance, they can safely remove your dog from the car without having to manhandle her and panic her even more.

10. If you are out and about with your dog in the car and it's hot and you need to leave the car, you can leave it running with the air conditioner on, closed up and locked. If you also use one of those intimidating-looking steering wheel locks, it will help discourage someone from breaking your window and driving off with your car and your dog. There is always the remote chance that your A/C will fail or that your car will run out of gas, so if you do this, check on your dog frequently to make sure all is still well. (I always check on my dogs frequently when they're in my car).

11. When you have a dog that is happy hanging out in her crate in the car, it makes it really easy to go on vacation with her. You can stay at hotels that don't take pets, because during the day you can be out and about with your dog, and when it's time to go back to the room and sleep, your dog can happily sleep in her crate in the car. She'll snooze in her crate while you dine at a nice restaurant. We've done this in Carmel, and Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo. It's great.

12. Dogs that are crated in the car are less anxious than dogs that are loose in the car (or confined to the back part of it with a barrier), and are less likely to bark aggressively when someone walks by the car.

We actually reconfigured our minivan to accommodate our dogs, taking out a row of seats (to make room for the crates) and building a little wooden platform for the crates with some storage space underneath. I hope these tips help you enjoy more time with your dog, and help you take her with you as much as possible! The more time your dog gets to spend with you and the more gentle exposure she has to the larger world, the happier she'll be.

What have you found that works well for you in this area? Please leave a comment and share your experiences too.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Canine Good Citizenship Test will be offered 9/11/10

All breeds of dogs are invited to test for the Canine Good Citizenship test in Santa Ana on Sept. 11, 2010 at a dog match sponsored by a few southern California specialty clubs.

For info contact Barbara Millman at 310-548-1919 or email her at bpmillman@aol.com

Monday, August 2, 2010

Video lesson: crate training a puppy

There is much to learn by watching this little video showing a puppy being crate trained. I am a strong advocate of crate training, and it's something I think we should continue even after housetraining, etc.  

Having an adult dog who is comfortable being crated for a few hours allows you to travel very easily  with your dog (we just got back from a wonderful trip to Santa Barbara and our 3 dogs slept in their crates in the car each night.  Other times, we've rented a ski cabin in Lake Tahoe that normally doesn't allow dogs, but the owners agreed to in our case because our dogs would be safely snoozing in their crates during the day while we skied, and the owners knew there would be no destruction to their second home. 

In the event of a disaster, having a crate-trained dog is essential.  It allows you to keep your dog with you, safely confined in a crate, sheltered from the chaos and instability of its physical surroundings. 

Lastly, it allows other people to care for your dog in your absence.  If your dog refuses to be crated, how do you expect your friend to care for it for a weekend and be sure it won't escape the yard trying to find you?  Staying home all weekend personally supervising the dog is just too much to ask.  The dog should be safely confined unless it's out of the crate on leash being walked, played with, and personally supervised.  This prevents dogs escaping due to confusion over where its owner went.

OK, so here's the video.  Notice how she points out what specific aspect of the behavior she is rewarding, and how the behavior is broken down into tiny steps. I also love how the crate is in her bedroom. Puppies need to sleep in crates in the bedroom. That way you can hear them if they have to go (for adult dogs, you can hear them if they have an upset stomach and suddenly need to go). I'm not a fan of dogs in the bed, but I am a fan of dogs in the bedroom.