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Car Travel with Dogs

Whether you’re planning to bring your dog up to the cottage, taking him/her for his/her annual check-up at the vet, or simply heading to the off-leash dog park, there is a good chance that you’ll need a car to get there. For some owners, a car trip with their dog is no big deal; it’s a simple as popping their pooch in the back seat and hitting the road. For others, even a fifteen minute drive can be a total disaster. Whichever might be the case for you and your dog, it’s important to be aware of all the potential hazards that exist on the road, and to be prepared. Not all dogs will be perfect passengers, but by taking a few simple steps and precautions, you can ensure that your next road trip goes as smoothly as possible.

Even before you and your pet board the vehicle, you can make your dog’s trip better by taking steps to avoid motion sickness. It is estimated that one in every six dogs experiences motion sickness, and you don’t want your dog to experience it and vomit all over your back seat. A good idea is to avoid feeding your dog for three to four hours prior to departure. If you already know that your dog is prone to getting carsick, you can even ask your veterinarian about dosing your pet with Gravol or Dramamine. Some dogs might even need a mild (or moderate) strength sedative to stay quiet and prevent car sickness. If you are unsure as to whether or not your dog is the kind that gets sick, try a test drive. Start with just a five minute drive around the block and then increase the length of time gradually to see what your pet can tolerate.

On longer trips, planning frequent stops for bathroom breaks is also a must. You should check in advance for pet friendly rest stops, as many do not allow dogs at all. You can both use these breaks to stretch your legs and also to re-hydrate. Pack along drinking water and a bowl. If your pet is one that can handle food without getting car sick, you can also pack some of his own food along for snacks.

Once you are done with all the necessary planning, it’s time to buckle in. Just as you would do for a small child, it is important to secure your pet as best you can while they are in the car. It is always safest for your pet to travel in the back seat. Airbags are not designed with dogs in mind, and can be extremely dangerous for pets of any size so front seat travel is a no-no. Also, it is extremely unsafe for you as a driver to be distracted by a dog in the passenger seat. For smaller dogs (or bigger cars), using a travel crate is a good way to ensure your pet’s safety while on the road. Especially for dogs who are crate-trained already, this kind of travel can be very comfortable and make your pet feel secure. The crate should be secured to the seat with a seatbelt. Other dogs do well with special harnesses designed specifically for this purpose. Just like a seatbelt, these harnesses keep your dog safely on its seat and prevent your dog from flying forward through the windshield in case of an accident. This sort of restraint is best tolerated by dogs who trained with the harness from the time they were puppies. For larger dogs, or those that become extremely anxious during restraint, they can be seated (though a secure crate is safer) in the back of your vehicle. However, to ensure your dog’s safety and your own, a dog guard should be installed to separate the back of the car from the driver’s area.

Going for a car ride with your pet doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. For many dogs a car ride can be a great time. With just a little preparation and a few simple precautions, you can feel confident in your dog’s safety and comfort while in the car. Though it may seem like a bit of work at first, with time, car safety for your pet will be as second nature to you as buckling up your own seat belt.

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Socializing A New Dog In Your Home

You’ve been waiting for months.  You’ve done all your homework.  You’ve chosen the perfect new puppy for your home.  You have a collar, a leash, a bag of food that the puppy has been eating.  You’ve even taken a day off from work so you can go get the puppy and bring him home.  He has a bed and toys waiting for him at home.  You’ve thought of everything, right?  Right up until the moment one of your kids asks, “Won’t Rover just love the new puppy?”  Oh, no.  What about the dog you already have?  What about that sweet, beloved old guy at home who has been the center of the family’s attention for years?  How is he going to feel about sharing his home with a new puppy?  Did you forget to ask him about bringing a new puppy home?  How is he going to react?  It looks like you’re well on your way to having to learn how to socialize your new puppy and your old dog.  But, don’t worry too much.  It’s not that hard and you can all get through the process with a little effort.

 

The most important thing is to ensure the safety of all concerned – you, your family the puppy and the older dog.  Make certain that the puppy will be safe and that the older dog cannot harm him.  It’s a good idea to place the new puppy (or new dog) in a pet carrier or crate that will keep him from coming into physical contact with the older dog at first.  This way they can still see, smell and hear each other without anyone getting hurt.  They can get used to each other in a safe situation.  If you’re dealing with a larger puppy or an adult dog you may need to leash both animals.  It helps to have an assistant on hand (a family member is fine).

 

Remember that rewards go a long way toward helping to ease these situations.  You will basically want to reward your older dog when he shows acceptance of the new puppy (or dog).  After the two dogs have calmed down a little give each of them a little reward, such as a bite of kibble or some other favorite treat.  Give the puppy and the older dog lots of praise and affection for not barking or showing aggression toward each other.  (It will be tempting to show more affection and praise to the puppy but you should be careful not to overlook the older dog.  You don’t want to do things that will make the older dog jealous.)  Keep in mind that you are trying to show your older and the puppy that you accept the other dog’s presence as part of the family and that you expect them to accept the other dog, too.  You will probably need to repeat this process several times until both dogs become accustomed to each other and any hostility has subsided.  It’s typical for the older dog to display more aggression than the puppy.  The puppy may be very submissive.  This is normal.  Some puppies may be frisky and something of a nuisance to older dogs.  Older dogs will put up with this behavior to varying degrees.  Some older dogs are more tolerant than others but most will respond and set limits at some point.

 

The next step in this process is to allow the animals a closer inspection of each other.  For this step you need an assistant to help control one of the animals.  Your assistant should leash the older dog and hold him firmly on a very short leash.  Make sure your assistant has control of the dog.  You will then open the pet carrier or crate and bring out the new puppy or dog.  Or, both animals may be on leashes.  At this point you will bring the two dogs close together.  The dogs will most likely move toward each other to sniff and meet.  They will explore the other animal so you should be sure your assistant is holding the dog tightly.  You should be careful not to let the new pet panic or escape your hold.  You can gradually bring the two dogs closer together and allow them to calmly meet.  One or both dogs may growl in warning.  Watch the dogs carefully and be prepared to separate them if necessary.  You can try again later if need be.  Dogs in a home typically establish a pecking order – they will establish who is boss.  Your older dog has seniority and will probably quickly let the puppy or other dog know that he is in charge in the home.  The other dog will probably accept a subordinate role for the time being.  Dogs are good at working at most squabbles on their own without human interference.

 

The last thing to keep in mind is that not everyone gets along.  Not with people and not with dogs.  There will be days when your dogs may not get along.  They may have disagreements about a toy or about a place to sleep or about food.  These are usually quickly resolved and your dogs will be friends again.  In other cases there are some dogs that don’t like each other and may never like each other.  However, with patience and some good management on your part, you can avoid fights and keep your house peaceful most of the time.  You may have to call a time-out sometimes, or send the dogs to a separate room to cool off, but things will calm down.

 

If you’re thinking of getting a new puppy or adult dog you can help prepare your older dog for the coming change and make things easier for him.  Start socializing your older dog more.  Take him to a dog park or a pet superstore that allows dogs to visit.  Let him begin to meet some new dogs so it’s easier on him when he meets a new dog in his home.  You may even be able to arrange for him to meet your new puppy on neutral ground, such as at a dog park, where your older dog feels less territorial.  You may even wish to consider having a dog party at your home where several people bring their dogs to your house.  (Though this may be stressful for some dogs, other dogs may enjoy having dog guests in their home.  It helps to know your dog well and how he may react.)  All of these things will help your dog adjust when he meets your new puppy.

 

Do take your older dog’s feeling into consideration when you think about bringing a new puppy or adult dog into your home.  Many dogs welcome a puppy or new dog into the household, but for dogs who have been “only dogs” their entire lives it can be somewhat threatening to have a new dog in the household.  They feel threatened both by having their living space invaded and by feeling jealous of your time and attention and love.  Everything they know is being challenged and turned upside down.  Give them time to adjust to a new puppy or dog and help them adapt by introducing the new animal slowly.  Make sure you continue to show your older dog plenty of love and affection and it will help him accept the newcomer.

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Naming Your Dog

There’s more to naming a new dog than one might think. One must consider the different environments in which the dog will be spending time, the names of people who will be around the dog most often, the dog’s traits and your personality, the ease of use of a particular name; and if a rescue, what the dog’s name was before and what kind of circumstance he’s coming from. This article refers to a dog’s call name for the purposes of training and general use around the house; the name you use to get your dog’s attention. A dog’s registered name is another story since it is not something he will have to answer to.

Environments

Do you plan on taking your dog to the park regularly? Do you live in a neighborhood populated with many dogs? Then you don’t want to go for a too-common name. Picture yourself at the dog park calling for Max, Buddy, or Maggie. Do you really want ten or fifteen dogs running at you at the same time, thinking you’re calling them, and your dog running to half the people in the park because he keeps hearing his name? Consider originality when you’re naming your dog and you’ll have an easier time. However, if you live in a high rise apartment, you’re not a fan of dog parks, you don’t intend to spend much time socializing your dog with other dogs, and you’re completely set on the name Max, it’s certainly not the end of the world.

Family and Friend Names

It might be a fun idea to name your bulldog after your uncle because you think they look alike. But, besides the fact that your uncle might not be too amused, you have to ask yourself, does your uncle come over a lot? The thing is, teaching a dog his name is extremely important. You want your dog to always respond to his name right away and be immediately attentive. There can’t be any question in your dog’s mind as to whom you’re referring when he hears his name. So, if Uncle Buck comes over once a week, Buck might not be the perfect name for your bulldog. However, you can always ask Uncle Buck to not come around for a while, until little Buck responds to his name without any hesitation.

Your Dog’s Traits and You

Your dog’s name should suit you and the dog. Remember, you could have this dog for the next 10-15 years, so you’d better like it. Stay away from passing interests and phases, or inside jokes that will lose their novelty within a year. Also stay away from traits that your pooch might grow out of. I almost named my puppy Bruce because he had a marking like the Bat Signal, but before he was even weaned, the mark had stretched to a splotch, so the name no longer fit.

Also, think about what your dog is going to look like when he grows up. Your three month old Doberman Pinscher or Pit Bull might still be fuzzy and little enough to be named Killer for now, but when he’s full grown, you’re going to have a lot of explaining to do. You don’t want to have to defend your sweet and affectionate family dog constantly just because of his name.

Your dog’s name should reflect something about you, and be something you have no problem saying over and over again for years. Stinky, or Schnookems might seem adorable when your dog’s still a puppy, but imagine yelling it across the dog park, or calling those names down the street when your dog accidentally gets out of the yard.

Ease of Use and Understanding

Make sure the name you chose is easy to use and understand. So, despite your love for Mary Poppins, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is not going to work. Your dog’s name should be short, one or two syllables. This will help your dog learn it faster, and it will be easy to discern from other words. Remember, your dog doesn’t speak English, it’s all just sounds. Dogs have the easiest time discerning hard consonants like T, K, and D.

Make sure the name you choose doesn’t sound like a common dog command like sit, stay, or down. Even if you intend to teach your dog to sit when you say “banana” he’ll still hear others telling him and other dogs to sit thousands of times for the rest of his life, so Kit isn’t a great name.

Rescue Dogs

If the dog you brought home from a shelter already has a name, and you don’t like it, there’s no shame in changing it. Just like you can housetrain an untrained rescue dog, and a rescue dog can get used to a new home, he can learn a new name. You’ll be surprised at how fast he picks up his new name if you use one that is short and easy to understand.

In fact, in many circumstances it is a good idea to change a rescue dog’s name. Dogs often end up in shelters because they were unwanted, unloved, and sometimes abused. Many of these dogs have heard their current name in unfortunate circumstances enough times to associate it with bad things happening to or around them. If you chose a new name and always use it in good context, it will be a great marker the beginning of a new and happy life for your dog.

Teaching the Name

Teaching your dog his name is easy. All you have to do is use it regularly and reward your dog for answering to it. Look at your dog and say his name. When he reacts to it, shower him with praise. When you say your dog’s name, he should put his attention immediately on you, so get excited every time he responds to it. You’ll find this happens quite naturally because your dog will pick up a good name quickly and make you proud when he answers to it with growing consistency.

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Calming Signals from Dogs

Calming signals are a natural way for your dog to communicate. They are used among dogs as well as most other animal species as a conflict solving method when faced with unpleasant things such as aggression, stress and fear, or to prevent these things from happening. Dogs are conflict solvers as this is necessary for survival. Calming signals are used to establish trust and security, but most of all, as a way to communicate and be understood. They are meant to keep order and to maintain a healthy social structure. Dogs of all breeds, shapes, sizes and ages use the signals all the time and in a variety of situations. We must learn to use this non-discriminative language in order to communicate clearly with our dogs. Using the signals will help decrease stress among our dogs and will help us see them in a new light for who they truly are; our most beloved friends.

Many signals can be seen clearly when you are looking. Others are very subtle, small and varied. Recognizing some signals comes with experience; sometimes, fast glimpses of a series of signals can be observed but if you are not paying close attention, they might not be noticed. Many misunderstandings or problems between owners and dogs happen because of language problems.

Some dogs with behavior problems can be helped tremendously by re-acclimatizing with their lost language. There is great confusion when dogs use the signals and we, the humans, don’t recognize them and even punish our dogs for using them because we think they are being bad, stubborn, or inattentive. By using calming signals with our dogs and recognizing the signs, we can prevent stressful situations, fear and aggression in our dogs.

Through the use of calming signals, your dog will become more social. He will grow more secure and therefore become a happier dog. He will cope better with a variety of situations and he will have a better ability to solve conflicts, a very natural instinct in dogs.

Calming signals will help you train better. When your dog is tired, stressed or unable to focus, he will let you know. In addition, the use of calming signals will help you to be able to calm down a dog who is becoming nervous or stressed. Because of your use of the signals you may be able to show other insecure or fearful dogs that you can be trusted. You can become a better friend to your dog by understanding him more. Calming signals are wonderful to use in behavior therapy to help dogs overcome problems. As a matter of fact, it is critical that they are used if long term success is to be obtained in behavior therapy.

Dogs may lose their language through our own fault. When no one in their surroundings uses the signals, they lose the ability to use them. We teach dogs all kinds of commands which in essence, become their new language. Unknowingly, we punish dogs for using calming signals. When you are training, for example, your dog might look away at some point, seemingly ignoring you, when in fact, he may be trying to calm you and to calm himself, as you may be making too many demands on him ( ie. training for too long) . If your dog yawns and turns away from you when you are tense and giving a command with a loud, angry tone, such as “HEEL! for god’s sake, HEEL!”, he is giving you calming signals, yet you probably punish him for being stubborn and ignoring you.

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6 Steps To Find The Perfect Dog Sitter

Choosing a pet sitter is a big decision.  You will be leaving your beloved dog in the hands of someone else and trusting them to visit your home, feed your dog, play with him, and know what to do if there should be an emergency.  How do you find the perfect pet sitter?

 

There are some basic approaches to finding a good pet sitter:

 

1.  Ask around.  If you have friends or family who have used a pet sitter in the past, find out who they used and if they would recommend them. The advantage of using someone that is known to your friends and family is that this person comes with a built-in recommendation.

 

2.  Check with your vet.  Your vet sees a wide assortment of pets in your community.  They also know many pet professionals.  They may be able to recommend a good pet sitter.  The same is true of your pet groomer and other people you see regularly for your dog’s care.

 

3.  Check bulletin boards.  Many pet sitters advertise on the bulletin boards at vet offices, pet groomers’ shops, dog supply stores and other pet-related businesses.  This is a good way to make a connection with a pet sitter but it does not provide you with a recommendation about the pet sitter’s abilities.

 

4.  Check your phone book for local pet sitters.

 

5.  Check online for local pet sitters.  Superpages.com often lists pet sitters (and other pet professionals) in local areas.

 

6.  You can check with Professional United Pet Sitters , the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters , and Pet Sitters International  to find professional pet sitters in your area.  Simply type in your area code or other information about your locality and they should be able to offer suggestions.

 

Once you have found some likely pet sitting candidates there are some things you should ask them before you hire them.  You need to discuss the following subjects with your potential pet sitters:

 

– Is the pet sitter insured?

 

– Can they provide references?

 

– You should check with other local pet professional businesses in your area to find out about the pet sitters reputation.

 

– You should ask to see the contract for pet sitting services.

 

– Make sure that you understand the costs and what services are included.

 

– Ask the pet sitter about their pet education and if they have and certification or accreditation.

 

– Do they know first aid for pets?

 

– Do they belong to any professional organizations such as a professional pet sitting group or other pet care group?

 

– Is there a backup plan in case the pet sitter has a personal emergency?  Who will take care of your dog?

 

– Is the pet sitter properly licensed?

 

You should also ask questions about how the pet sitter interacts with your particular dog.  Have they cared for a Greater Shantung Westheimer before?  (Insert your breed.) Do they know how to care for them?  How many times per day will they be coming to your house?  Will they be staying at your house?  And so on.  Make sure you cover all of the details of their care of your dog, especially if your dog has any special needs.

 

Whew!  It’s a lot of information to cover but you will be gone and you will be asking someone else to take care of your dog — you can’t be too careful.  You should interview a pet sitter just as you would interview a baby sitter or anyone applying for an important job.

 

It’s best if you start trying to find a pet sitter far in advance.  Not only will it take you some time to choose a pet sitter but good pet sitters can be hard to find.  Good pet sitters can book up early.

 

If you follow these suggestions you should be able to find a good pet sitter in your area.  Make sure you have several phone numbers so you can reach them at various times.  No matter how much confidence you have in them you will probably want to check in frequently.

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Raw Food Or Kibble? Who’s Right?

If you have a dog you’ve probably heard these debates:  should I feed my dog raw food or should I feed my dog kibble?  Which one is better?  Who’s right?  Who knows?  Who can say?  They both claim to be right but then you hear good and bad about both sides.  There is so much confusing information.  Who knows what you should do?

 

The truth is that people who feed both kibble and raw food diets can have healthy, happy dogs but making sure your dog is getting the proper nutrition on either diet can take a little effort.

 

Feeding dry food or canned food may seem like an easy solution but there are so many different kinds of foods these days that it can be difficult to choose wisely for your dog.  You can buy every kind of dog food from gourmet to food made from the cheapest filler ingredients.  Your dog’s health can have a direct relation to the ingredients in the food you feed.

 

The best way to judge if what you are feeding your dog is good for him is by your dog’s health and appearance.  Does your dog look good?  Is he a good weight or is he too fat or too thin?  Is his coat shiny and healthy-looking?  Does he have greasy-looking coat or bald patches?  Does he have dandruff?  Does he itch and scratch or otherwise seem to have allergies?  Does he have ear infections?  Are his eyes clear?  Does he have good energy for his age?

 

If you have any concerns about any aspect of your dog’s health or appearance you should look at what you’re feeding your dog.  If you’re feeding a kibble (dry food) you should read the label.  Check the ingredient list.  What are the first five ingredients?  Do you see named sources of protein among the first several ingredients?  Protein sources like chicken meal, lamb meal, fish meal, and eggs are good sources of protein for dogs.  Since they are named protein sources you know exactly what your dog is eating and your dog can digest these protein sources easily, getting maximum nutrition from them.  Other protein sources, such as “animal meal” and “animal digest” are sketchy and can include many undesirable parts of unnamed animals.  Corn is often used as an inexpensive protein source but it is not as easy for dogs to digest.  Dogs can only digest about 54 percent of the nutrition in corn.  The rest passes through them to be deposited as waste in your yard.

 

Many people have become interested in feeding raw since the pet food recalls in 2007.  They like having the feeling that they are controlling what their dogs are eating and that they are fixing the food themselves.  They can assure themselves that the food comes straight from a butcher or from the meat counter of their own supermarket — the same places where they buy their own food.

 

On the other hand, feeding dogs a raw diet does require some extra effort.  In order to keep costs down it’s often necessary to buy in bulk.  This means, for many people, that they need to purchase a small extra freezer to store meat.  Feeding raw also means that you may need to purchase a meat grinder to grind meaty bones for your dogs.  You may have to make some investment in these appliances if you wish to continue to feed your dogs a raw diet.

 

In order to make sure your dog is having all of his nutritional needs met you will also need to provide supplements to his diet.  Your dog can’t live on protein and the calcium in bones alone.  He’ll also need vitamins and minerals.

 

As you can see, there is no one right way to feed your dog.  Your dog can receive good nutrition from both a kibble diet and from feeding raw if you are prepared to go some research and make the effort.

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Biting: Causes, Prevention, and Control

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a federal agency which monitors and controls human diseases, estimates over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States every year. One in five of those bitten requires medical attention.

In addition to physical injuries, people, especially children, can be emotionally scarred as well. It is sad, indeed, when a person who has suffered a dog bite can no longer feel comfortable around animals, and may in fact, be terrified of them. Such people lose a wonderful aspect of their lives and a chance to have a meaningful human-animal bond.

Reduce the risk of your dog biting

There is no way to guarantee that your dog will never bite someone. But you can significantly reduce the risk if you:

  • Spay or neuter your dog. This may reduce your dog’s desire to roam and fight with other dogs. Neutered dogs are 2.5 times less likely to bite than intact dogs.
  • Socialize your dog. Introduce your dog to many different types of people and situations so that he or she is not nervous or frightened under normal social circumstances.
  • Train your dog. Participating in puppy socialization and dog training classes is an excellent way to help you and your dog learn good obedience skills. Training your dog is a family matter, and every member of your household should be involved and use the same training techniques.
  • Teach your dog appropriate behavior. Avoid playing aggressive games with your dog such as wrestling, tug-of-war, or ‘siccing’ your dog on another person. Do not allow your puppy to bite or chew on your hands. Set appropriate limits for your dog’s behavior. Do not wait for an unacceptable behavior to become a bad habit, or believe your dog will ‘grow out of it.’ If your dog exhibits dangerous behavior toward any person, particularly toward children, seek professional help from your veterinarian, an animal behaviorist, or a qualified dog trainer. Your community animal care and control agency may also offer helpful services. Dangerous behavior toward other animals may eventually lead to dangerous behavior toward people, and is also a reason to seek professional help.
  • Be a responsible dog owner. Obtain a license for your dog as required by law, and provide regular veterinary care, including rabies vaccinations. For everyone’s safety, do not allow your dog to roam. Make your dog a member of your family. Dogs who spend a great deal of time alone in the backyard or tied out on a chain are more likely to become dangerous. Dogs who are well-socialized and supervised rarely bite.
  • Err on the safe side. If you do not know how your dog will react to a new situation, be cautious. If your dog may panic in crowds, leave him at home. If your dog overreacts to visitors or delivery or service personnel, keep him in another room. Work with professionals to help your dog become accustomed to these and other situations. Until you are confident of his behavior, however, avoid stressful settings

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The Characteristics of a Boxer Puppy

The Boxer puppy or dog is a very energetic breed of dog. Boxers are called the clown of dogs, because they have a personality all their own.

The Boxer makes a great family dog. They love to be around children, and get along well with other dogs, as long as they are socialized when they are younger.

It is believed that the Boxer originally comes from Germany, and were used to hunt live wild boar, and their ears where cropped for this reason, so the wild boars could not gorge the ears of the Boxers.

The Boxer dog is a dog of higher intelligence, and will require daily activities, just to keep them occupied, as a Boxer is a high energy dog, that requires lots of physical activities. So don’t plan on having a dog that will be sitting around the house watching TV with you, they will go crazy if they don’t get enough exercise, and start destroying things.

The average size of a Boxer is roughly 50 to 70 pounds, with males being bigger. The life expectancy of a Boxer is roughly 12 to 14 years. The hair and coat is short and shiny on Boxer dogs.

The Boxer was breed as a working dog, guard dog, and family dog. The Boxer will be happy to see welcome guests, and protective and cautious with strangers and unwelcome guests. If your Boxer feels a family member is be threatened, the Boxer will naturally become aggressive towards the perpetrator.

Boxer dogs by nature are not aggressive. They would actually rather run and romp around with you, and be the clown they are famous for being. They do better when they have another dog playmate to romp with.

In the olden days, the Boxer and the Mastiff were related, and if you look at them together, you can easily see the resemblance to each other.

A Boxer puppy or dog should have a backyard to play in. If not, they should be taken to a park on a daily basis. The Boxer does not do well in cold or hot climates. When it is really hot, the Boxer can have a hard time breathing and keeping themselves cool, so totally keep that in mind if you live in very hot places, or it is just a hot day outside, make sure your Boxer has plenty of fresh drinking water, and a nice place to get out of the cold or heat.

If your one of the ones lucky enough to own a Boxer puppy or dog, you are going to see him or her do some pretty crazy harmless fun things sometimes, that will make you laugh sometimes, and then you will realize why they are called the clown dog!

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Dogs Can Suffer From Asthma

og has asthma – asthma in cats

Animals Can Suffer From Asthma

Asthma is a disease that can affect both dogs and cats. Also known as allergic bronchitis, asthma is an inflammation of the airways that is caused by an allergic reaction. Asthma results in an obstruction of the airways when the bronchi (the air passages in the lungs) fill up with mucous and go into spasms. It is far more common in cats than dogs.

Dogs and cats of any age can get asthma, but it occurs more commonly in young and middle-aged pets. The primary sign is coughing. Owners often report wheezing and, in rare cases, respiratory distress. In some cases, pets may become lethargic and stop eating, resulting in weight loss. It is rarely life threatening. Between episodes, pets are usually normal.

To diagnose asthma, it is necessary to take an x-ray of the chest to rule out other respiratory medical problems. Once a diagnosis of allergic bronchitis has been made, treatment often consists of steroids, antihistamines, bronchodilators, or a combination of these drugs. In severe attacks, an injection of epinephrine may be necessary.

The prognosis for control of this disease is excellent, with most pets living happy and normal lives with the help of life-long medication. Unless an underlying cause can be determined, a cure is unlikely. Your veterinarian can help to determine both the cause of asthma as well as the treatment options available for your pet.

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Blood Cells & Complete Blood Counts

Whether it is a human, dog, cat, or even bird or ferret, when sick, their doctors typically draw a blood sample and perform some tests to help determine a diagnosis. These tests are generally one of two types. The first type is the complete blood count (CBC), which determines the number and types of blood cells present. The science concerned with this cellular portion of the blood is called hematology. The second type of test is a blood chemistry panel that measures the quantities of various electrolytes, enzymes, or chemical compounds in the liquid portion of the sample. Sometimes these tests yield little information about the case, but more typically, they are the fastest and best diagnostic tool available to the doctor.

Components of Blood

Blood is made up of a liquid portion plus all the various blood cells. It functions to transport nutrients and oxygen to the cells; wastes and carbon dioxide to the organs responsible for their removal or breakdown; and also to defend the body against bacteria, viruses, and other organisms.

The liquid portion of blood is referred to as plasma, if the blood was not allowed to clot, and serum, if it was. This liquid portion, without the cells, is generally a straw or light yellow color. The liquid portion of the blood is used in the chemistry tests.

Every drop of blood literally contains millions of blood cells. Although the sample drawn for a CBC may seem small, it contains such huge numbers of cells that it is an excellent and accurate portrayal of the total numbers of these cells found in the bloodstream. The CBC is concerned with the quantities and types of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Red Blood Cells

First, let us look at the red blood cells (RBC’s). These are the tiny workhorses that are responsible for carrying oxygen to the body’s tissue. RBC’s contain the molecule hemoglobin. Oxygen that is taken into our bodies attaches to the hemoglobin as the RBC’s pass through the lungs. The RBC’s then deliver the oxygen to all the other cells in the body and take the carbon dioxide back to the lungs.

RBC’s are formed in the bone marrow. The bone marrow constantly produces new RBC’s, since the life span of an RBC is only about 120 days. The body can respond quickly to maintain the number of RBC’s present in the blood vessels. The body measures their numbers simply by evaluating the quantity of oxygen being supplied to its tissues. If not enough oxygen is available, then the body sees that as a need for more working RBC’s.

If more RBC’s are needed quickly, then more immature cells (called reticulocytes) are released into the circulation from the bone marrow. However, if there are adequate cells present, it slows down the release of new ones.

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