I received this information today and thought it was important to pass along on a Sunday evening. Our thoughts are with the families who have been affected by the wildfires.
To help those affected by the Texas wildfires, select VCA Animal Hospitals in the state of Texas (in and around both Austin and Houston) are offering free boarding for companion animals.
Cooper and I returned home from BlogPaws on Sunday, both jazzed and exhausted! More to come about our experience, including tons of amazing pics of the dogs of BlogPaws. If you’re on Twitter, you may have already seen his road-warrior photo, but here’s my favorite Coop pic:
Lucas returned from “camp” with fleas. (He IS on Frontline!) There was a good discussion on Facebook about dealing with fleas, and we’re trying everything we can think of!
Have you faced fleas before? Any tips or tricks? How long did it take to get rid of them? All advice welcome and appreciated!!
For the past three weeks, I’ve been staring at Cooper.
It’s getting to the point, I think, where he’s ready to move out. “My lady is WEIRD,” is what he’s thinking. Because I felt like as soon as I took my eyes off of him, something bad would happen.
I am, in fact, aware that I’m neurotic.
Anyway! If you missed the last Cooper story, here’s the summary: He has horrible, painful, fur-falling-out allergies. We put him on an antihistamine. A few days later he started convulsing. We took him off the antihistamine. He kept convulsing.
Which brings us to last Thursday.
He had been off the antihistamine for long enough that it was definitely out of his system, yet he was still having episodes of tremors. His blood test and urinalysis from the initial exam came back clean. His vet decided to repeat the urinalysis and do a neuro exam.
So here’s where we need to pause the story for a quick aside: She’s doing some eye test where the lights are off and she’s examining his eyeballs with a bright light.
“Oh,” she said with a slight hint of surprise. Since I was already on edge, I had another cardiac arrest at her “oh.”
She flipped on the lights. “He has a hemorrhage in his left eye,” she said. She goes on to say something about the blood vessels are a good sign or something as she put drops to see if it had ulcerated. (Vets, I’m sorry. I’m probably getting these words wrong. I was very busy hyperventilating and only caught one or two out of five terms.) Then she said, “Does he crash into stuff?”
Um. Yep. So anyway, that’s unrelated to the allergies, unrelated to the tremors, but we did get an antibiotic ointment that we need to smear on his eyeball three times a day. So that’s awesome.
Anyway, he passed his neuro exam and his urinalysis was fine, so our vet called a neurologist to consult.
Throughout this whole ordeal, I kept saying over and over again, “This is serious. This isn’t nothing. Your head doesn’t shake uncontrollably for no reason. It’s not nothing.”
Well, turns out it’s nothing.
You know that saying that goes something like when you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras? We were, of course, operating with that philosophy. He started a medication –> he got head tremors —> probably it was the medication.
The neurologist went through his info and came back with a different diagnosis.
Idiopathic head tremors.
Of course, “idiopathic” is just another way of saying “we don’t know what’s going on here.”
But it’s a genetic situation. It’s common in bulldogs and dobermans. It doesn’t have anything to do with brain function, organ function, disease, etc.
It’s a muscle thing. It just happens.
So after all that…. it’s nothing.
His vet doesn’t want him on the antihistamine anyway, which I’m totally on board with because it sort of makes me wonder if this genetic situation wasn’t latent, and then the drug kicked it into gear. I don’t know?
So unfortunately, he’s still suffering with his allergies, but now on top of it we have to smear eye ointment for another week. And I’m still watching him very, very closely.
He had one other bout of head tremors on Saturday night but hasn’t had another since.
I think that every single time it happens, I will have a heart attack. We’re going to monitor the situation really closely, and we have a great vet who’s reading up on the literature about the condition.
For now, though, I’m starting to slowly get used to taking my eyes off of him for short periods. I don’t want to stop watching for even a second, even to blink, because I’m still worried, though I’m also a little relieved.
Lastly, I chose to include all these cute pics of Cooper sleeping not because he sleeps a lot… He does, in fact, crash a lot as he rips around the house, wrestles and plays with the big boys, pummels bugs in the backyard, and so on. When he does rest or nap, I photograph it as evidence. So these four pics are the four naps he’s taken over the last week or so!
I know I’ve talked about our struggles with Cooper’s allergies probably a dozen times (more if you count Facebook posts!), and this post is only tangentially related to that situation. First, though, a quick update: It seems he does have a food allergy, probably chicken, and the duck and potato food has thankfully cleared up all his stomach issues. His fur is still falling out, he’s still super itchy, and his eyes are faucets. His vet was thinking it was an environmental allergy, too, so two Fridays ago we started him on an antihistamine.
Which brings us to…
Last Wednesday, I was in the kitchen making my lunch. I saw movement from Cooper’s bed, and when I looked over, he was convulsing. I dropped everything and dashed over to him. He got out of his bed and started pacing around the kitchen. His head was shaking uncontrollably. I called John. “Something’s wrong with Cooper. I think it’s a seizure.” He said he’d meet me at the vet.
As I sped
Incidentally, that morning Cooper had eaten something green and gooey in the park. So, his vet seemed to think he might be having a reaction to something toxic, so she gave him activated charcoal.
For fear that this post is getting painfully long, I’ll sum up the next few days: Wednesday night, another round of tremors; Thursday, back to the vet; blood test and urinalysis came back clean but she suggested it could be a reaction to his new antihistamine so we stopped giving him that altogether; Friday night, another round of tremors; Saturday afternoon, another round of tremors and a call into the vet’s office, but his vet wasn’t in, so the tech just said to keep him off his antihistamine (duh); this morning, another round of tremors.
I’m waiting for a call back from the vet.
The particular antihistamine he started the Friday before the tremors started does have rarely reported side effect of tremors. It seems likely that that was causing the issue, but he’s been off it for almost 6 full days now but is still experiencing the tremors.
On top of that, without taking any allergy medicine, his eyes and skin are a mess, and he’s incredibly itchy.
There’s no real point to this post, I suppose, except to vent. It’s killing me that he’s so miserable from his allergies and this head tremor thing is terrifying. Each time it happens, my heart stops and my hair gets a little bit grayer.
Has anyone experienced anything like this before?
Since we moved to Indiana in 2008, Emmett has struggled with seasonal allergies. (Apparently, dog allergies are exceedingly common here, as are people allergies, which I’m experiencing for the first time in my life!)
Emmett breaks out into a purple and black rash and scratches and licks like crazy. We use different lotions and anti-itch sprays, which usually help, but mostly it’s giving him lots of baths to keep the pollen off of his skin. If it gets really bad, a couple Benadryl do the trick. In summary: His allergies are a pain, but they are manageable.
What we’ve been facing with Cooper has been totally different. On and off since December, his symptoms have included: upset stomach, itchiness, fur loss, upset stomach, more fur loss, “puppy pimples,” and even more upset stomach. Plus, it started in December – one of the few allergen-free months of the year – so it never occurred to us that his issues were an allergy.
Lately, he’s been eating grass like it’s his job, and licking and scratching himself nonstop. Then on Saturday, Cooper pooped blood.
Luckily, our vet’s office has limited hours on Saturdays, so we were able to
beg for secure their last opening of the day.
Because our fabulous vet moved away (sniff, sniff), for all of our recent appointments, we’ve been bounced around from temp vets to new hires. We ended up with someone new on Saturday who did a pretty thorough exam, then she asked for a few minutes to read through his chart. She came back a few minutes later and said, basically, all of his issues are chronic.
The likely culprit?
A food allergy. Probably beef or chicken. (I guess because those are common dog allergies?)
Anyway, we’re on a 10-day regimen to clear up his stomach problems (bland diet, antibiotics because of the bleeding) and a dewormer in case it’s whipworms, which wouldn’t show up in his poop sample. They also did a blood test, but we haven’t gotten those results back yet.
After the stomach situation has resolved, we’re starting a hypoallergic trial. He’s going to be on a duck and potato diet for 8 to 10 weeks. We got this list of things he can’t have during the trial. In addition to all food other than duck or potato, the prohibited list includes:
- plastic water or food dishes
- rawhides, bones, bully sticks, etc.
- rubber/plastic toys
- tennis balls
- nyla bones
So that prevents us from using the Kong to coerce him into his crate (he STILL hates his crate), his favorite squeaky ball, his outside tennis balls, the bully sticks I use to keep him quiet while I’m on conference calls, etc.
Obviously, I will do anything for my pups. It breaks my heart that he’s probably felt terrible for the past six months, so of course we’re going to stick with this once it starts (next Tuesday – wish me luck). But I’m a little worried about how to keep a 9-month-old puppy busy, entertained, and occupied while I’m working without all those toys.
Any ideas or suggestions? Has anyone else been through this? I would LOVE any tips, suggestions, strategies,
sympathy, or advice.
Let me just start this post by saying right upfront: I’m a dork. I know it. I love to clean.
And I love this time of year. After a long, dreary, gray winter, splashes of color start poking out of the ground. Dog walks that were short, rushed, or nonexistent become long and meandering. The dogs have to meander, I think, because after a smell-less winter, spring’s scents are just too darn tempting. And exciting.
I love spring, too, because it feels like such a time for renewal. Windows are flung open to let in fresh air, and that’s what this season is all about. Fresh air. So, of course, I am a huge fan of spring cleaning. Giving the whole house a thorough scrub is one of my favorite parts of the season. So – in addition to filing my taxes. blergh. – I plan on cleaning this weekend. Here are my pet-friendly cleaning tips to get spring cleaning off to a strong start:
- Open your windows. After a long winter with your house sealed against the elements, it’s oh-so-critical to allow in fresh air. It will rejuvenate you and your pets!
- Ditch the harsh cleaning agents. Think how badly bleach and ammonia sting your nose. Imagine how much worse it is for your dog! There are so many eco- and pet-safe cleaners that do a great job that there’s really no need for such harsh chemicals.
- Air out your rugs. Freshen up door mats, area rugs, runners, whatever you can pick up and take outside. Shake them out and then let them air out in the sun. These rugs can be dander traps, and most vacuum cleaners don’t do a stellar job of getting out all that fur that gets embedded into the carpet pad. (Or does that just happen to me??)
- Groom your dogs outside. If you can give them a bath with the hose on a warm day, great! Otherwise, aim for a thorough brushing, especially as most dogs are dropping their winter coats right now. You’ll end up with less fur and dander in your house and a more comfortable pooch, all while soaking up some much needed Vitamin D!
- Wash those windows. It probably depends on the height of your dog, but we have nose prints across every single window of our house because the boys just love to gaze outdoors. Wiping down all those nose prints is sanitary, of course, but it also allows more sunlight to stream in. For a pet-safe (and eco-friendly) cleaner, mix a cup of water with 1/8 cup of vinegar in a spray bottle. Add a couple squirts of liquid dish soap. Shake and squirt.
- Examine your baseboards. Seriously, if your baseboards are anything like mine, there’s this minuscule ledge – just a couple mm wide – that is apparently the perfect storage spot for pieces of fur and swathes of that dirt/dander mixture that accumulates all winter long. I use the store brand Magic Erasers to get that cleaned up.
Bonus task: Clean all your dog toys! I collect the zillion toys from the yard and all over the house and sort them by hard and soft. Hard toys go in the sink filled with soapy water, soft toys go through wash machine. It’s amazing the new life you can give your toys when they’re back to their original color. The boys seem to think that, all of a sudden, I rushed out and bought them a whole slew of new toys!
Are there any other dog-friendly cleaning tips you could share? Are you even a cleaning fanatic like I am?
Note: This is a guest post from pet lifestyle expert Sandy Robins. Car safety is such a no-brainer… for us! But do you take your dog’s safety into consideration? I know that I don’t do as good of a job as I should, but these tips inspired me to implement some additional safety measures!
We all remember the “hoo-hah” when the paparazzi photographed Brittney Spears driving around with her baby on her lap. Yet how often do you see people driving around with dogs sitting on laps and no one bats an eyelid?
The danger is actually one and the same.
It’s interesting too that we are conscientious about strapping down luggage for a road trip but are happy to let out pets bounce around on the back seat.
According to statistics published by Toyota, a 60 lb dog travelling in a vehicle at 35 mph turns into a 2 700 lb projectile if that vehicle suddenly has to break. And the chances of a pet distracting the driver are very real because unrestrained pets are the third biggest distraction in car after cell phones and dash dining.
Well, hopefully things are about to change as the automaker has made pet safety in vehicles its new pet project. To make pet lovers aware that they are taking this commitment seriously, they have publically acknowledged that there are extending their definition of customer to include the family dog and cat and are now designing cars with special features to make their vehicles more pet friendly.
Pet friendly features comprise the careful positioning of air-conditioning vents to ensure that the entire vehicle especially the cargo sections in crossovers and SUVs remain cool. It includes plenty of D-rings all over the vehicle so that pets wearing harnesses and leashes can be safely restrained and lots of extra storage space for pet paraphernalia from food and water to toys for road trips. And rear view cameras to ensure there are no pets in the driveway when you are backing out.
When it comes to crossover vehicles like the Venza and SUVS like the Highlander, the Sienna, the Sequoia, the cargo sections are being specially designed to hold at least two large crates that in turn can be strapped into place.
Further, special pet-friendly accessories, are now being sold at Toyota dealerships so that pet parents can purchase them at the time of the purchase of the car.
Here’s the bottom line; for every excuse for an unrestrained pet, then is now a practical answer.
Excuse: I have a small dog and he loves to look out window so I put him on my lap so that he can see out.
Answer: A special doggie booster seat, designed along the lines of a baby car seat will give a small pet a great view of the passing parade while being safely strapped in at the same time.
Excuse: My dog is so excited when we get in the car I can’t stop him jumping from the front seat to the back.
Answer: A special safety device called a back seat barrier will block off the section between the front and the back and contain a dog in the back seat of the car.
Excuse: I can’t put my dog in a crate because he get’s restless on a long drive.
Answer: A dog wearing a harness can be given the use of the entire back seat by attaching the leash to a special zip line that gives freedom of movement but still contains the pet in the rear of the vehicle.
What has become obvious when I in talk to pet parents about restraining their pets in vehicles is that many pet lovers who adore their pets, just haven’t stopped to think that their furkids could be in jeopardy in a moving vehicle. But once aware, their attitude immediately changes.
30 years ago, mothers of small babies were in the same position campaigning for car seats for small children. Now we don’t think twice about strapping in our kids. It’s second nature.
What’s interesting is that many states have laws in appertaining to restraining pets in vehicles. Now its up to us pet lovers to see that they are implemented.
This simple action can save lives of both pets and people.
And there’s more thing to consider, in the event of an accident, unrestrained pets have often vanished from the scene in fright. It’s not worth taking a chance.
You can check out some of the cool pet accessories for vehicles at www.Kurgo.net or at your nearest Toyota dealership.
Pet lifestyle expert Sandy Robins is a member of Toyota’s Pet Influencer team to promote pet safety in all vehicles nationwide.
Note: This is a guest post. I typically add a few things to the boys’ kibble – veggies, broth, cottage cheese, etc. – but cooking a full meal for them would be fun. The suggestions here seem super simple, even for a non-cook like me! (Although I’d probably substitute fresh veggies for the frozen listed in the recipe.)
Have you ever thought about preparing your own meals for your canine family members? By making your own dog food, you have the benefit of knowing exactly what your dog is eating. With a few fresh ingredients, you can make a delicious meal free of additives and contaminants that your dog will enjoy.
Consult With Your Veterinarian
Before you make dog food for your dog, you should talk with your veterinarian. There are certain nutritional requirements that your dog may have, and you need to make sure that these will be met. Your vet can help you tailor a diet specific based on your dog’s age and health history. Dogs with kidney disease, obesity, heart disease, bladder stones, or gastrointestinal disease may have special dietary requirements. The same is true of puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs. Your vet can help you figure out meal plans that will keep your dog happy and healthy. Vets can also recommend vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure your dog is getting a 100% balanced diet.
Your dog’s diet should contain a healthy mix of carbohydrates, meat, fat, and fiber. Here are some examples for each:
- Carbohydrates – rice, cornmeal, oatmeal, potatoes, or pasta.
- Meat – all typical meats including beef, poultry, fish, and liver.
- Fat - chicken fat, beef fat, vegetable oil, or fish oil.
- Fiber - cereal (such as Fiber One or All Bran) or vegetables.
Your dog’s diet should also include bone meal. You can make your own bone meal at home by grinding up completely dried bones in a spice grinder. Chicken bones work well and are easiest to grind up. You can also purchase bone meal from your local feed or pet store. Be sure to use bone meal that is intended only for animals. Bone meals that are made for plants and gardens contain fertilizers that can be lethal to your dog.
As a general rule, you should always cook the meat that you will be feeding your dog. Most people don’t realize that uncooked meat can pose the same health hazards to dogs as they do to people. If you would like to feed a diet that includes raw meat, talk with your veterinarian first. Be sure to grind up the meat or cut it into bite-sized pieces if necessary. Once you’ve cooked the meat of your choice, you can combine it with the carbohydrate and fiber selections. Bone meal can then be sprinkled over the top and dinner is complete!
To make a delicious turkey dinner for your companion, combine 6 cups of water, 1 pound ground turkey, 2 cups of brown rice, and 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary or parsley in a large kettle. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Add 1 pound of frozen vegetables (green beans work well) and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add a little bone meal and be sure to let the food cool a bit before serving. The leftovers should be refrigerated for no more than 3 to 4 days.
Making your own dog food is not difficult, and it will ensure that your pet is getting only the finest and freshest ingredients. By consulting with your veterinarian and taking the time to plan a balanced diet for your dog, you can make tasty meals that your favorite canine companion will love.
That’s how many times we went to the vet last year, according to my year-end credit card statement. Twenty-one times.
Now, I don’t have any idea how many times most (normal?) people see their vet in a year. And I know our twenty-one visits are spread over two dogs, three starting in December. But when I tallied it up, that just seemed like a lot.
Their annual exams were in there, of course. Plus all of Emmett’s cancer checks. Then all his liver stuff (still ongoing). Then there was the time Lucas got kicked by a horse. And Cooper has mange. And so on. (And, no. Sigh. We don’t have pet insurance. I think it’s probably too late for Emmett, but the other guys… maybe! As long as no insurer reads this post. Ha!)
So, ultimately, we went to the vet 21 times in 2010.
But here’s the thing: I actually don’t mind.
I want the boys to be healthy, of course. I want them to have their annual checks, and I want to have every lump checked out – we’ve become very sensitive about lumps around here.
And on top of that, we have a rockstar vet. Seriously. Rockstar.
Here’s why you need a rockstar vet: You never know what might happen. We never could have predicted Emmett’s cancer situation. We never could have predicted the horse thing or that we’d adopt a puppy who started losing his fur a couple weeks later.
And if the unexpected happens, isn’t it better to have a rockstar in your corner than someone whose office is convenient to your work or whatever?
I know I can call over there and get my boys in right away, and I know when I get there, it’ll be fun for them. They actually enjoy going to the vet! How great is that?
I know she’ll call me with test results and explain them really, really clearly. And I know she answers my emails and all my questions. And most importantly, I know she takes great, great care of my guys.
We’ve already been twice in 2011; Cooper got his last round of shots, and Emmett is still having tests done to determine what’s going on with his liver/urine situation. But I know that no matter what comes up, they’re going to be well taken care of.
What’s your relationship with your vet like? Do you have a rockstar in your corner?
Today, for Part 2 of the Pet Health survey, I’m taking a look at nutrition and preventative health because, really, the two go hand-in-hand.
I asked: What kinds of preventative health measures do you take for your dog(s)? (Select up to 3.)
- An annual checkup at our vet, plus additional visits if something comes up. (91%, 42 Votes)
- Healthy food, including snacks and treats. (83%, 38 Votes)
- Lots and lots of exercise. We’re in great shape! (48%, 22 Votes)
- Mental stimulation. My dog’s a veritable Einstein! (35%, 16 Votes)
- I brush my dog’s teeth regularly. (20%, 9 Votes)
Really, these answers weren’t too shocking except… 20% of you brush your dog’s teeth regularly! My jaw dropped at that one. I am seriously, honestly impressed. And here’s where I confess: I can’t brush Emmett’s teeth. Lucas, maybe a little. Cooper, we’re hoping to start down the right path with him. But Emmett? Nope. No can do. He clamps down on that toothbrush so firmly the second I head towards his mouth. Instead I use this oral rinse stuff and he chews on dental bones, but for those 20% of you: How do you do it?? Any tips or tricks? And how regularly do you brush your dog’s teeth? I know anyone who struggles with this as much as I do would LOVE to know!
I also asked: What do you primarily feed your dog(s)?
- Commercial dry kibble (54%, 25 Votes)
- A mix of dry and wet (17%, 8 Votes)
- Homecooked (11%, 5 Votes)
- BARF or raw diet (11%, 5 Votes)
- Something else entirely (7%, 3 Votes)
- Commercial wet food (0%, 0 Votes)
The first thing I noticed is that no one feeds a solely wet food diet. In a lot of the puppy stuff I’ve been looking up, it seems to be recommend for puppies, but… my guess is that it’s too cost prohibitive to continue long term. I’m also guessing (from the comments) that everyone who voted for “something else” feeds a dehydrated diet.
As far as raw or BARF diets, there was a lot of interest from commentors in moving to a raw diet… check out the super helpful comment left by Nichole on tips for making the transition.
Someone pointed out in the comments on yesterday’s post that these results indicate that the people who read dog blogs are people who take really great care of their dogs. That is so incredibly true! I wanted to pose these questions because I constantly find myself asking: Am I feeding them the right things? Are we getting enough exercise? Am I doing enough to ensure that my guys are happy and healthy?
I sort of wanted to take the temperature of pet health, and I’m incredibly impressed with the results and very thankful to everyone who took the time to answer the questions! Plus, I’m inspired to tackle some of the areas in which we fall short (New Year’s is right around the corner, after all!) like adding in more exercise and finally nailing down a tooth-brushing habit!
Are these results what you would have expected? Did they bring up any more questions for you? Or are there any pet health survey questions you wish I would have asked?