Dogs At The Beach

Summertime – And the Livin’ Is Easy

Those famous lyrics couldn’t be further from the truth for many dogs who suffer through the best of intentions by their parents. We all want to share the good times with our friends. But summer fun comes with its own set of perils. What might be grand fun at the moment may have repercussions later, or just not be a lot of fun at all for Fido.

Take, for example, going to the beach. Every dog loves going to the beach, chasing waves, and watching beach volleyball, right?

These guys sure look like they are having fun!!

 

Actually many dogs only enjoy the beach only after repeated exposure. Consider these beach related hazards before packing up your boogie board and Bowser and heading for the surf.

  • The temperature of the sand can reach over 130 degrees. These temperatures can make just walking on the sand a painful business for Fido. And if you place your hand just 6 or 10 inches from the surface of the sand, you can experience the heat that is radiating onto your dog’s tender underparts.
  • Sunburn. Yes, dogs CAN get sunburned, especially those that have fair skin and a light colored coat. But those who have recently had a haircut are also at risk. Pay special attention to the tips of their ears and the end of their noses. Apply sunscreen if you will be out for very long Check with your vet or order online. Do not share your sunscreen as it most likely contains ingredients that are toxic to dogs.
  • The salt water can be very drying to your dog’s skin and might make him very itchy. Though the itching might make him uncomfortable, it is the scratching that can lead to secondary bacterial infections.
  • Paw pads will soften in the water. This makes them especially vulnerable to hot asphalt and sand.
  • Over-activity in the sun can lead quickly to heatstroke. This is easy to overlook when your dog is running again and again after that Frisbee. Some dogs will just keep running and playing fetch till they drop. Heatstroke is very serious and many dogs will die or have permanent organ damage. Though some dogs have better designed cooling systems, those with short noses are seriously at risk for heatstroke. Familiarize yourself this summer with the early signs of heatstroke.
  • Broken glass, undercurrents and jellyfish are additional hazards. Imagine the horror of watching your dog be pulled under and away from you as you watch on helplessly.
  • Just getting to the beach may cause problems for Fido. Many dogs get car sick, and while this isn’t deadly, it is certainly no picnic for your dog, or the car occupants. Check with your vet, as new drugs have become available specifically for dogs. Also, refrain from feeding them for 5 hours before the road trip.
  • There is no antidote for salt toxicity. Don’t allow your dog to ingest copious amount of salt water. Sodium builds up in the brain and the brain swells. As the pressure builds it can cause seizures, permanent neurological damage or death. Offer fresh, clean, cool water frequently.

 

While this list makes going to the beach sound rife with danger, it is really not much more dangerous than walking down the street with your dog.  But for most people, it happens on an irregular basis. That being said, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself and prepare for that day of fun in the sun.

 

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Your Dog’s DNA – Why It Matters, Or Does It?

“Who’s Your Daddy?”

With Mother’s Day just past and Father’s Day on the horizon, discussing your dog’s genetic background seems appropriate. If you want to do a background check, and find out what sort of relatives your dog may be  hiding, this is the time to order that DNA kit, grab a QTip,  and wrestle with your dog as you try to get a sample of his cheek cells.


How can you possibly be my Daddy?

How can you possibly be my Daddy?

 

DNA test kits for dogs have been available for over 5 years but have come a long way recently. Since the first kits  became available, the databases on which they rely  have grown enormously, making these tests more accurate than ever. But what do they really tell you?

What To Expect

All the kits on the market are similar and provide a couple of swabs, a couple of envelopes to protect the swabs, and a couple pages of instructions. There are several manufacturers, the main difference between them appearing to be the number of breeds in their data bases. The more breeds in their databases the more likely one or more may appear in your dog’s DNA. The tests are designed to determine how much a dog’s genetic material is from a particular breed, thus the more breeds the better.  If the database only has genetic markers from 50 breeds and you dog’s genetic material is not from one of those 50 breeds the less revealing the test will be. One company asks  you to send a photo with your swab.

Claims and Suggestions

The companies all have carefully constructed claims. They are careful to point out that different tests may indeed show vastly different results. Basically they are saying that the breeds they have identified may have made a contribution to your dog’s genetic past.

The advertising suggests however that knowing your dog’s genetic background will influence how you exercise your dog, how you play with your dog, how you train your dog, and what you feed your dog. The suggestion seems to be that by tailoring training, exercise, etc., you will be a better pet parent. I’m not sure that it is useful information.  People who spend time training, playing and exercising their dog, generally know what games he likes, what training approach is effective and how much exercise he need or want.

So while I don’t think it will make you a better pet parent, I do think it shows that you are a very curious one!

 

 

 

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Parting Ways with Your Veterinarian

I am fortunate to have a wonderful veterinarian. Part of the wonderful – ness is the freedom I feel to ask questions about his diagnosis and treatment approach. But over the years I have found a few red flags that make me sit up, take notice, and possibly rethink (or possibly just run as fast as I, with my short-legged bulldog friend, can) .
A less than clear reason that I would add to the points below is a lack of sensitivity. Sometimes it is hard to put your finger on it. Sometimes it is more egregious. A response to your dog’s malady on the order of “He’s doomed. No hope, just pickle him and move on” would clearly qualify as such. But I have also had a vet just shrug when breaking some very bad news to me and mine. After picking my jaw up from off the ground, I began the quest for another vet.

Clear Indicators A Change is Needed

Any of the following would cause me concern:

  • A paternalistic attitude whereby options aren’t presented for discussion but instead you are told what you must or should do.
  • If your dog’s condition is not  getting any better or is worsening, if your vet cannot arrive at a diagnosis , if a procedure is recommended that seems complicated and your vet has not had extensive experience performing and he does not recommend a specialist, it is probably time to seek another vet.
  • A recommendation of a protocol that you know is outdated. Probably the best example I can think of concerns vaccines. Laws relating to required vaccinations and the duration of protection afforded by many vaccines have changed drastically. If my vet recommended a yearly rabies vaccine I would be seriously concerned, as these laws and recommendations changed years ago.
  • A missed diagnosis or botched procedure. Accidents do happen of course but if either of these scenarios occurs it should be explained and thoroughly discussed. And if the account given does not fully restore your faith in your vet, it may be time to look elsewhere.
  • Follow your gut! If you are not 100% comfortable, for whatever reason,  I would begin looking around, and asking fellow dog owners for recommendations.

waving dog

Departing Gracefully and On Good Terms

Unless you live in a very small community and you cross paths with your vet socially, the chances are pretty good that you will never need to offer an explanation. Simply calling the office and asking for  your dog’s records to be faxed to the new vet is probably all that is needed. If asked why, my reply has been that the new vet has more convenient hours or location.

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Poet Cat Writes Haiku

This cute poet cat may have gone a bit crazy with the haiku in celebration of the cats dominance over the dogs. Which is your favorite?

Haiku Cat

Dear lesser species
Go drink your toilet water
While I plot your death

                     You go chase that ball
                      I will watch from the window
                      And find your weakness

Ha I took your bed
I do not even want it
But it is mine now

                      Watch me twitch my tail
                      Yes I want to play with you
                      Yes come closer. Fool!

What are you their slave?
They throw and you bring it back
Next time just bite them

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War

War is raging over here at DogBreedStore. Did you see what those mangy cats did to the site? #cattakeover #catsrule

 

War

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The Cats Have Taken Over!

The cats have taken over DogBreedstore and are wreaking havoc on the site! Take a look at the mess they’ve caused at DogBreedstore.com. #cattakeover #catsrule

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I’ve been replaced??

Buster finally realized that maybe the cat was more than a temporary guest.

 

Replaced
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Soon…..

Maybe it was just indifferent, but everything I know about cats would suggest that this one is peeved.

And probably plotting murder. Probably.
This cat is NOT happy

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Finding The Perfect Canine Match – or How Not To Run Amok

Don’t leave finding your perfect canine match up to chance. Breaking up is hard to do and  these tips may save you as well as your pup from heartbreak.

  • Take your time. This is a commitment. A dog’s average life expectancy  (13 years) is longer than the average length of first marriages (8 years.) Committing to a person after only one date would be insane. Making a commitment to a dog or puppy  after one date is equally insane. Plan to spend some time with the puppy or dog, whether n a home, foster home or shelter.
  • Size matters . But more important than size is your energy level and that of your prospective pet partner. Do not delude yourself that getting a Border Collie is going to make you a jogger because of their high exercise needs. Instead, better to be realistic and assess your current level of activity. M atch accordingly. If you are a couch potato, realize that you are likely to remain so. And there is no shame in that! There are plenty of dogs who are looking for a couch potato buddy. Consider an older dog, or a breed that is known for their laid back demeanor.
  • Personal Hygiene. Yes, some dogs are naturally easier to live with than others because of their fastidiousness and physique. If you aspire to being featured in House Beautiful perhaps you should not consider a breed that is heavy on the drool, spittle and shedding. Newfies, Mastiffs, and Bulldogs immediately spring to mind. Long haired breeds  also of course leave behind long hairs. So  if you don’t consider  slime trails  and long hairs a fashion accessory then these breeds may not be for you. Whether you consider these attributes design flaws or endearing  qualities may help  narrow your choices.
  • Look to the future. If you plan on a change in your family composite, be realistic about the impact it may have. Are  children a likely addition in the course of your intended canine friends life? A small nervous breed might not be the best choice. Is your boyfriend/girlfriend a fan of large breeds, if that is what you are considering? If your household might include elderly parents or grandparents  who are frail then a large breed that might knock them over might best be avoided.
  • Are you a gambler or do you like to minimize the risks? Any committed relationship is a gamble. But if you would like to minimize your risks consider an older dog who has been with a foster family.  They may be able to tell you whether the dog is good with kids. They may know whether they are good with cats or whether they consider them a delectable morsel. They may have experience with them around other dogs or on leash. A  purebred dog may minimize the risks as well. A Chihuahua is not likely to pull you down the stairs or eat you out of house and home. Some pure bred dogs will absolutely require grooming, which may best be handled by a professional, thereby running up the cost of maintenance. Others require little or no grooming. Some breeds have been bred for specific purposes and generalizations may be made about their temperaments, though bear in mind that yours may be the exception.
  • Are you a patient person? Puppyhood , though it may only last one year, can easily feel like five. Can you keep “that lovin’ feelin’” and are you prepared to love him even when no one else could, should or would? Puppyhood requires patience, preparation and more patience. Be prepared to spend time and money . The primary reason dogs are surrendered is behavioral so at the top of your must do list should be “seek professional training.”

 

Above all, before you walk down the  aisle with your new partner ask yourself if you are  truly being realistic and if you are prepared.

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Does Your Dog Do Halloween?

It is that time of year again, when the search is on for the perfect Halloween get up for our charges. begins If you, like so many of us, think that your dog is cuter in costume then now is the time to begin shopping or sewing.

Why We Do What We Do

What, I wonder, is the motivation for this? Did we not have sufficient time playing with Barbie and Ken as children? Celebrating with our dogs is something we do regularly from doggy birthday parties to Christmas. We include and exalt them, so why not Halloween. Fourteen thousand years of living with us has made them tolerant of our silly ways, and some, though not all, are at least tolerant.

The Sky Is The Limit

Aside from safety and comfort, what other factors should we take into consideration? Some of the funniest ones rely on the contrast between the size of the dog and the nature of the costume. It is somehow amusing to see a Chihuahua dressed as a lion or a mastiff as a mouse. Others choose to emphasize some physical aspect of their dog. Witness the dachshunds dressed as hotdogs. And then there are those that live vicariously and choose a costume based on their own aspirations. Perhaps dogs dressed as princesses or fighter pilots would fall in this camp. And of course sheer availability may enter into your choice as well. Some breeds are just difficult to fit with an off-the-shelf costume and have limited selection.

Inspiration

So if you are game to join in, and Fido is as well, look around the web for inspiration. Every year it seems there are new costumes available, and new variations on old themes. One character that inspires me is Zelda, who seemingly dresses up on a daily basis. With words to the wise, her audacious costumes and daily advice make me smile.

 

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