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January 24, 2010

Cesar and the Puppy Mills

Mrs. Nate and I watched National Geographic's Inside Puppy Mills last night. It was part of Cesar Milan's Dog Whisperer series.

This was truly heartbreaking to watch. Mrs. Big Nate couldn't sit through the awful puppy mill scenes. Cesar was shocked by the team's investigations into the puppy mill trade. I think the worst part for me was hear that these things are actually legal. At least in the United States they are, I'm not sure about the laws here in Canada but I'm sure it happens here regardless of the laws.

They may be legal in the States but the mills do have to follow certain guidelines. Unfortunately many do not even do that much. They still exceed the limits on the number of dogs they are allowed to have. The limit is 100 and some were found to have as many as 400.
The conditions of the dog's living environment were horrible to say the very least and the health of the animals even worse. I just can't begin to tell you how much this bothers me. The worst part is that there are literally thousands of these places throughout the continent causing neglect and abuse to hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats. It's overwhelming to even think about.

Please go to the National Geographic's website and have a peek at the episode info. If this doesn't make people stop buying their puppies from pet stores, nothing will.

Everyone must learn that purchasing those cute little puppies in the window at the pet store are the main cause of this industry. If everyone just stopped buying those animals it might help to make this "business" less profitable and create less demand. If anyone is ever considering a new pet there are hundreds of places to go without supporting puppy mills and the like.
How about trying to help those who are already in desperate need? All of them right here in Calgary!

These are just to name a very few. This doesn't include all the specialty breed rescues, the cat rescues and anything else you could think of.

Mrs. Nate and I purchased Mojo from a farm just north of Calgary. This may have not been the way to go either. We did not know better at that time. We have since rescued Oscar from a rescue society and our cat Chloe from the Humane Society.

I suggest staying away from ads in the Bargain Finder and Kijiji. Definitely stay away from purchasing any pets over the Internet. Selling puppies online is the next big puppy mill marketing strategy!

So after seeing the cruelty in its true form, at the very least I can spread the word through this blog and implore people to never, ever purchase an animal from a pet store or online! In fact, we have chosen to never support any pet store that sells live animals. We choose to buy our pet products from places like Pet Planet and Tailblazers. These are truly responsible, caring businesses that know about the horrors of selling live animals.

January 19, 2010

The Five Most Common Canine Physical Ailments

What are the most common dog diseases and health problems?

In 2008, a popular pet health insurance provider (VPI) evaluated this issue and released the following results, listed in order of frequency:

The most common health problems in dogs are:
1. Ear Infections
2. Skin Allergies
3. Pyoderma/Hot Spots
4. Gastritis/Vomiting
5. Enteritis/Diarrhea

Rounding out the top ten in their survey were: urinary tract infections, benign skin tumors, Osteoarthritis, eye inflammation and Hypothyroidism.
These ten dog health problems accounted for nearly .
Not included in VPI's list but other highly prevalent canine health concerns are: parasites (worms, fleas, ticks), Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus ("GDV") - commonly known as bloat, and obesity.

It is recommended that you make a list of these health concerns (the ten in VPI's survey plus parasites, bloat, and obesity) and bring them with you to veterinary appointments. Ask your vet for more information on common dog ailments and symptoms of each.
Preventative care can significantly reduce or eliminate the risk for many of these health problems. Obesity is best avoided by regulated, measured feedings combined with safe and appropriate exercise. Parasites can be prevented by keeping your dog's immune system strong through a carefully chosen, species appropriate diet, by keeping your dog clean and well-groomed, and through the use of preventatives, which include a wide array of products from flea and tick collars to spot on treatments, essential oil blends, and diatomaceous earth. Ear infections can be prevented or significantly reduced in frequency through appropriate and consistent cleaning of the ears.

While all of the mentioned canine health problems can affect a dog of any breed, some tend to appear more frequently in certain breeds and types. Bloat is most frequently seen in dogs with deep chests, and occurs most commonly in Great Danes, followed by Saint Bernards and Weimaraners. Since bloat is a medical emergency and can effect a dog of any breed or mix, it is worth asking your vet about tips for preventing bloat and how to recognize the symptoms in case, despite your best efforts, your dog bloats.

Similarly, ear infections are most common in dogs with floppy ears and appear more rarely in dogs with prick ears. However, any dog can get an ear infection, so it is well worth every dog owner's time to learn the correct method for cleaning ears, to be diligent about keeping a dog's ears clean, and to watch for symptoms of ear infections (shaking of the head, sensitivity about ears being handled, incessant scratching at the ears, etc.).

Also consider your dog's age - older dogs are more likely to bloat and have arthritis. Certain parasites seem to appear more commonly in puppies than in adult dogs.

Certain health problems on the list may increase the risk factor for other canine maladies, creating a veritable domino effect of dog health problems. Skin allergies and flea bites can both contribute to the development of hot spots. Obesity is a contributing factor in the development of arthritis. Hypothyroidism can contribute to obesity and skin problems. Ear infections, if left untreated, can lead to disorientation and vomiting, bloat can make a dog "dry heave." Diarrhea and vomiting can be symptomatic of internal parasites.

External parasites can cause internal parasites (fleas can transmit tapeworms, mosquitoes can transmit heartworm). Additionally, some parasites common to dogs can be transmitted to humans, like hookworms and roundworms.

Some of the health problems on the list (diarrhea, vomiting, urinary tract infection) are also popular reasons for human vet visits. If you suspect your pet has a urinary tract infection (symptoms include: discomfort when urinating, urinating very frequently, blood in urine, excessive water intake), your vet will likely ask you to collect a urine sample from your dog and bring it to your visit for testing. As with humans, a prescription antibiotic is generally advised in the treatment of UTIs.

Just like there can be dozens if not hundreds of reasons for diarrhea and vomiting in humans, there are a variety of reasons these maladies can occur in the family dog. Your dog may have gotten into the garbage and consumed something that did not agree with her, you may have recently changed her food and she is having difficulty adjusting to the new diet, she may have eaten too much, or too rapidly. Dogs can get diarrhea when they are extremely nervous, or vomit due to carsickness. Vomiting and diarrhea are not illnesses; they are symptoms of another problem.

Plan for Wellness: Work closely with your veterinarian to make a plan for total wellness, which should include a high quality, high-meat content diet, sufficient and appropriate exercise, veterinary visits at least once a year, and mental stimulation in the form of training and play. The happiest, healthiest dogs are in good behavioral and physical condition.

January 16, 2010

Do YOU Know About Kennel Cough?

As people who are involved heavily in the pet industry here in Calgary we try to stay well informed about what goes on. Sometimes our customers who use our services tell us about their experiences when using another local business to provide them with services that we are unable to provide.

The folks who wrote the following letter are customers of
Canine Correction, our sister Dog Training company. We ask that our trainees write us and keep us up to date as to how well their training home work is going and to coach them along between sessions. Tje following is how it was going for them after they had used trhe kennel services at the Stonehaven Kennels.

"I had been wanting to send you an update on Crimson & Indigo but since coming back from our holidays it has been somewhat stressful at home. Both dogs had to be placed in a kennel - Stonehaven, during the Christmas break; I had to scramble to find someone who could take the dogs on short notice - everyone was booked up and every kennel I called said they had been booked for a couple of months or more. Stonehaven had a last minute cancellation and was able to take both the dogs.

So on Christmas Eve I dropped both dogs off at Stonehaven and felt reasonably ok leaving them behind; they gave me all kinds of reassurances and encouraged me to email or call them regularly. Their stay would include their own dog run, indoor/heated kennel and two 1/2 hour walks each day. I gave them enough food for the entire time they would be there - in fact, exactly enough food, along with some treats, their beds, and a few toys. I called a couple of times over the holiday and was told they were both fine, they didn't really eat the first day which was to be expected but otherwise they were settled in and happy to play outside in the snow. When I picked them up the morning of Jan 2 they were both so incredibly excited to see us - super hyper and flying around the round at lightning speed - it was so funny. I couldn't get over the fact they stunk like dirty wet dogs and was surprised at how much food I got back and again asked if they ate regularly; they assured me it was only the first day and that they didn't really want their can food - which is odd, at home it's the opposite.

We got them home and I noticed both dogs had lost some weight which convinced me they clearly did not eat (or weren't fed?) as often as I was told. By Saturday night both dogs fell asleep very early; I just figured they were happy to be home again and settled. Sunday morning Crimson was hard to get going, he seemed like he had very little energy and just wanted to sleep. Then I noticed his nose was dripping - not mucus like but clear and certainly running way more than I thought was normal. By mid-day he was sneezing and his energy levels were going down; Indigo did not display anything like that - until Monday. I stayed home with them on Monday then Tuesday I took them to my vet; they were due for their updated vaccines anyway but before she did she gave them a thorough check. Our vet said they both had a mild form of kennel cough and would probably be down & out for a few days; I had noticed the day before as well that Crimson's eyes had a discharge coming out of both eyes and then that morning it was very noticeable on both dogs - I had to wipe Crimson's eyes a couple of times in the course of an hour that morning. My vet asked me about the kennel and if they had insisted the dogs be vaccinated for kennel cough - no one at Stonehaven Kennels said anything about this and I had no idea what that was, so wasn't aware to ask about it either. Anyway, she didn't give them anything that day but told me to watch them and if they got worse to let her know.

By Thursday they were both definitely worse; all they wanted to do was sleep - no energy, ate very little and the discharge coming from their eyes increased and turned a puss-like colour. They both ended up having bacterial conjunctivitis and since it turned bacterial there was a good chance the viral kennel cough would too, so they were both put on antibiotic eye cream and antibiotics. They are now back to themselves - which is a real relief; I felt awful and extremely pissed off at the folks from Stonehaven. I did call them to let them know - the lady I talked to is the same one who settled up the bill with me when I picked up the dogs and after telling her everything she seemed really nervous to talk to me and quickly passed the phone over to one of the other owners. After telling her what happened she denied any wrong-doing or any connection to her kennel, she went on and on about the ventilation system there, how often the kennels and dog runs are clean and sanitized, and no one else has called her to say there was a problem with their dog or cat.

When I questioned her about ensuring dogs are vaccinated for kennel cough she said there is no point because the vaccination is developed in the states and similarly to the flu vaccine for humans it doesn't cover all strains so there's no guarantee anyway. I told her both my dogs were very healthy when I dropped them off but they both got sick so quickly after leaving there, that tells me they picked up something from that facility and at the very least she should be contacting the other dog owners to alert them there is a possibility their dogs may come down with something.

It's been a tough trying to get back into a routine again and to get them to the point where they were well-behaved during their walks. Times like this its hard not to get so discouraged. I am somewhat frustrated by all the recent events."

So we wanted to bring to everyone's attention and let you know that if you are ever going to take your poooches to a kennel, doggy daycare or any group type setting, it is esstential that you get your dog vaccinated with the Bordetella vacine. This is what prevents Kennel Cough. Mrs. Nate and I used to get this done for Mojo back when we took him to daycare once a week.

Here is an
article that helps explain the cause, symptoms and treatment of Kennel Cough.

Be sure to ask your vet about this. And in my opinion, any place that takes dogs into their care should insist that all owners have their dog's shots and vaccinations up-to-date!

January 2, 2010

Oscar and Mojo's New Year's Resolutions

Both Oscar and Mojo promise to be better dogs in 2010. Here are their top ten resolutions!

10. Leave the cat's food alone, both before and after the cat eats it.

9. All shaking will be done before entering the house or car, not after.

8. Neither the carpet or mommy and daddy's bed is a towel for cleaning our faces after dinner or to dry ourselves off after being outside in the snow.

7. Just because dead things on the ground smell good doesn't mean I need to roll on them or sniff for extended periods of time delaying our walk.

6. Mommy and daddy's underwear is not food nor is it a toy to play tug o' war with.

5. My parents have an alarm clock, they do not need us to wake them up five minutes before it goes off.

4. Just because the pantry door opens, it does not mean that that daddy is getting a treat for us.

3. I Mojo, promise not to scoot my bum on mommy's carpet whenever my anal glands are bugging me. I will politely ask to go the vet to get them expressed before I resort to this.

2. Other people who happen to be close by on our walks are not imminent threats that I Oscar to need to guard against and attempt to attack as we go by.

1. It is not necessary to seek out the carpet when we are about to vomit. The hardwood should do just fine.

Happy New Year from the Poooh Busters team and Oscar and Mojo!