Animal Shelters are a great place to visit (in fact, be a volunteer at your local animal shelter!!)

 

Volunteer at your local animal shelter!Have you thought about volunteering at your local animal shelter? I encourage you to give it some thought if you haven’t.

In 1998, I decided to go to the Buddy Dog Humane Society because I thought I would like to volunteer. I walked through the kennels and walked out without signing up; I was convinced I could never do it. I would be too upset at all the homeless animals there.

A few months later, the idea kept gnawing at me. I decided to go back again; this time with a different attitude…if I truly wanted to make a difference, I’d better get over it, and deal!

I’ve been involved with that shelter ever since 1999 in many capacities. Dog walking; doing some behavior work with some of the dogs; doing programs, presentations and talks on behalf of the shelter; and since 2008, being on their Board of Trustees. I even did a live TV segment for over 10 years on New England Cable News once or twice a month for their “Adopt A Pet Segment”. It gave me a chance to showcase some of our dogs and cats who needed extra visibility or who didn’t present well in the shelter and were being over-looked.

You may say, “I could never do it, I would want to take them all home”…yes, you probably will. You may think you will be too sad. Yes, there will be days when the plight of animals will be overwhelmingly sad. The hardest lesson I have learned at the shelter is that you can’t save them all, but you sure can try; and you can determine to never stop trying.

If you are still not convinced, keep in mind there are peripheral activities you can do to help a shelter and its residents. You can help with fund raising on either a large or a small scale, you can help with mailings, and you can collect items the shelter needs to have on a regular basis. Shelters have lists of things they need on a regular basis; you can get the lists by stopping by the shelter or from their website.

Here’s an example of a peripheral activity…one of the Adopt A Pet Segment hosts I worked with at NECN had a daughter who asked for donations for Buddy Dog instead of gifts for herself at her birthday party every year. Now that’s a shelter fan!

Don’t let fear stand in the way of your doing good. There is always something you can do to help your local shelter that will fit with your time, your skill set and your personality. I strongly encourage you to give it a try!

To Your Dog’s Good Health!

Cheryl Major

Chloe at 17...may your dog live a long and healthy life, too!

 

Healthy Dogs World Loves Thundershirts! (and so does my shelter!!)

Healthy Dogs World loves the Thundershirt!  What a fantastic idea.  I just wish it had been invented several years ago when I found a dog who had obviously been abused.  He was terrified of (and aggressive toward) young boys in baseball caps.  If we were in the car and passed a young boy, he would go nuts barking and trying to get at him through the window.

The animal shelter I am involved with, The Buddy Dog Humane Society, has used the Thundershirt to calm hyper and abused dogs with surprising results.  It is effective and, although you can supplement any behavior modification with drug therapy, it is often not necessary.

Thundershirt is effective for dogs with fear of loud noise such as thunder and fireworks, separation anxiety, overall hyperactivity, excess barking, travel phobias (car rides to the vet or groomers, etc.), fearfulness, etc.  While some dogs may need to use the Thundershirt two or three times before responding positively, for many dogs, Thundershirt works the very first time.

Since it comes with a 100% money back guarantee, the down side doesn’t exist.

For my dog, this great product was not available, so we had to resort to doggie meds.  The medication helped calm Bristie down so we could eventually modify his behavior, but the drug-free more immediate option of the Thundershirt would have been wonderful!

The way Thundershirt is designed and constructed, it applies a gentle, constant pressure that has a dramatic calming effect for most dogs.  It comes in a variety of sizes and colors…blue or pink polo or the original color, heather grey.  You can now get a Thundershirt for your dog and have his name embroidered on the side.

Another good feature about Thundershirt is that it’s hard to screw up.  You can quickly put it on your pooch with self-fastening Velcro flaps, so getting it on your dog is quick and easy.

How Thundershirt Works is simple.  The wrap applies a slight constant pressure that is like a gentle hug for your dog.  The surveys the company has done indicate over 80% of dogs respond positively when the wrap is applied and show improvement of their symptoms.

It’s believed the gentle pressure of the wrap calms the animal’s nervous system, and while the exact science cannot be confirmed, it is believed the pressure causes release of a calming hormone like endorphins.  It’s been a common practice for years to use pressure to relieve anxiety in both animals and people.

Thundershirt for dogs has been so successful, they have developed a wrap for cats which is also getting rave reviews!

 

To Your Dog’s Good Health!

Chloe at 17

 

Healthy Dogs World…Life Without a Dog, Continued…

 

Drawn to Dogs...what can I say...I have always been drawn to dogs; it’s just the way I’m wired.  My sister-in-law joked one time, that walking down the streets of Nantucket, she would be looking at the cute babies, but I would be looking at the dogs…

Yesterday I parked at the grocery store and was walking toward the door when I spotted the most beautiful Husky sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car…talk about a healthy dogs world example – he was beautiful!  I kept walking, but forgot my shopping list and headed back to my car.  By the time I passed the car again, the owner had returned and was loading up his groceries.  Of course, I had to remark on the beautiful dog.  He said ”He thinks he can drive” and told me his name was Bandit.  He was only a year old and was a small Husky; the man said he was surprised at how petite he was for the breed, but that the size was perfect for him (and frankly for his car).  I asked if I could meet him, and the dog hopped into the back seat of the car.  Through the hatchback, he could smell my hand; he was so sweet and gentle.  I was taken with how calm he was…first of all for a Husky, and second for a dog only one year of age.

His “dad” said they named him Bandit because when they got him as a puppy, the markings on his face looked like a mask.  As he grew, the markings changed and he said now he looks like he has a penguin drawn on his face.  I looked more closely, and he was right.  The silhouette of a penguin with the flippers was there alright.

The man invited Bandit to hop out of the car.  The young dog was so rubbery and agile, graceful in his movements.  I had become so used to being careful of old fragile bones, it rather took me by surprise, and the words “don’t let him jump out of the car” were in my mind.  Not a problem for Bandit though.  I enjoy a precious few minutes with him.  He was sweet and gentle, and as I said before, surprisingly calm for a Husky.  To feel my hands on a dog, patting him and having that connection was such a treat.

I miss my Chloe every day, and while I’m not ready to adopt another dog yet, the need to have a dog in my life is there.  The loss of her will take a while; once I can write like this without tears, maybe the time will be right.

For now the Bandits of the world will have to sustain me.  He was a special pup, and I loved meeting him!

To Your Dog’s Good Health!

Cheryl Major

Chloe at 17

Health Dogs World…Life Without a Dog

Healthy Dogs World...Chloe at 4 years old

We lost our 17 ½ year old rescue dog, Chloe, last month.  I knew it would be hard to adjust, but I never thought she would leave such a hole in my world.

Those of you who truly love and “get” dogs will, I’m sure, understand what I’m writing.

The times when you automatically think, “It’s 4:30; I need  to feed Chloe”, or you just think you hear her in the house.  She was a very lucky girl as my husband works from home so she was rarely alone.

Finishing dinner, cleaning up, taking Chloe for her evening walkies.  Old habits die hard, and the expectation of time to be spent with her searches for other activities to fill the void.

We adopted Chloe when she was 4 ½ years old.  I must have been the luckiest person in the world as I was there volunteering when her first family surrendered her to the Buddy Dog Humane Society in Sudbury, MA.  It was love at first sight.  I picked her up in my arms, and she plunked her head down on my shoulder…I brought her home with me.  That was over thirteen years ago.

We had over thirteen years of a healthy dogs world with her, but it’s never enough.  She was diagnosed with a primary lung tumor when she was sixteen.  We put her on a cancer diet, and she did great.  We made the decision not to put her through chemo or radiation, and at her age, any invasive procedure (even to determine the type of tumor) wasn’t an option.  We were determined to give her the best time that she had left with us.  She had a wonderful last year and amazed and delighted her vet and us!

She slowed down a bit that year, but still went for three walks a day and would bark that special little bark at us to come and play with her in the living room.

When she was done, the end came quickly; cancer did not win though.  Her kidney levels started to go up suddenly, and she started having seizures.  Kidney failure was the problem and a possible brain tumor was suspected.

After six days of trying to control her kidney levels, it was clear her quality of life was gone; the only way we could have brought her home from the emergency vet’s was under heavy sedation.  Not wanting her to suffer, we made the hard decision and said “good-bye”.

I can’t imagine my life without another dog someday, but Chloe’s loss is going to take a while to find its place in my life and for the pain to soften.

To Your Dog’s Good Health!

Cheryl Major and Chloe!

Chloe at 17

 

Healthy Dogs Need Emergency Plans…(know where you can stay if you need to evacuate!)

Healthy dogs need emergency evacuation plans too!

Wow!  Last night’s event on emergency preparedness for your pets was a real eye-opener…both for my pets and for me.

I realized I don’t even have a plan for myself and my husband if our house catches on fire.  How would we get out?  What if we are trapped on the second story? (hint…buy a ladder you can hang out a window so you don’t have to use the stairs)

There was an amazing amount of information, mostly geared to dogs and cats.

The new mantra in case of emergency evacuation is:  “If you go, they go!”  No more leaving your pets behind like they did during Katrina; that created problems and tragedies for people, pets and for the emergency responders.  People refused to leave their pets behind, stayed in their homes, and as the flood waters rose and they realized the danger they were in, tried to evacuate.  This is the worst of scenarios, and puts emergency responders in more danger than they are in already.

Some of the people who left their pets behind tried to return to their homes in order to rescue their pets, thereby creating more crisis situations.  In addition, the soup that was the mess in the streets was so toxic with oil, sewage and debris, that being exposed to it was extremely dangerous for everyone.

There are now lists of motels and hotels that are pet friendly available online.  The link from ready.gov is:  http://gopetfriendly.com.  Be sure to update your list occasionally, as hotels change their policies to exclude or add pet accommodating policies.  In addition, some hotels/motels charge for the pet(s) while others do not charge.  Some hotels have weight or breed restrictions, number of pets restrictions, etc.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with this list before you need it.  In fact, that was largely the message of the event.  Be prepared.  Don’t wait for an emergency evacuation to try to pull together a plan for you and your pets.  Don’t be cocky or complacent that an emergency evacuation will never happen in your area or to you.

This topic deserves more attention, and I will share more information on it!

To Your Dog’s Good Health…(and safety!)

Cheryl Major

Chloe at 17

Healthy Dogs need Emergency Plans too! (I’m learning more later today…)

I am so excited!

I received an email this afternoon from my town’s Board of Health.  It started with the following heading:

Pets need emergency plans too!

PET PREPAREDNESS EVENT

What a great idea!  This subject was really brought to the forefront of awareness during Hurricane Katrina when so many pets were left behind.  Many perished.  When I was on NECN several years ago, one of the anchors I worked with was separated from her dog during Katrina.  She never saw her again.

We had a staff member at the Buddy Dog Humane Society who went to Louisiana and volunteered with the animal rescue efforts during that disaster.  It was a heartwarming and a heart chilling experience she will never forget.

Subsequent natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy last fall here on the East Coast have shown that we are moving in the right direction to care for and prepare for our pets in emergency situations, but we still have a long way to go

The email continued… “Many of us don’t think about preparedness until an emergency happens. But it’s much easier to provide for our WHOLE family if we consider the issues beforehand and make plans.”

I signed up immediately.  Just by reading the rest of the email, I found out that my area has a regional emergency pet sheltering supply trailer…who knew?!

I will get a list of supplies you would need to bring with your pet if you can’t stay at home which I will share with you on my website.  They’re going to talk about a ‘Pet Prep’ kit as well.  I’m not sure what that will be, but I will find out and pass along any helpful information.

Some of the questions that will be answered are:

  • How can we ensure the safety of loved ones, including our pets?
  • When disaster strikes, should we evacuate or shelter-in-place?
  • Where can we go if there’s a prolonged power failure?
  • Who do we contact for information in a wide-spread emergency?
  • What are our own responsibilities in a disaster?
  • What supplies do we need to bring with our pet if we can’t stay home?
  • How could a microchip help in finding lost animals?

More to come on this subject of emergency planning for healthy dogs…

To Your Dog’s Good Health!

Cheryl Major

poody and me cropped  1

 

 

Healthy Dogs shouldn’t eat these things…(and they really love some of them!)

dog and food bowlHealthy dogs shouldn’t eat these things…even though they may really, really like them.  Kind of the same thing we humans go through.  We need to make smart choices for ourselves…we need to make smart choices for the dogs we love so much!

Onions, chives, shallots & leeks – They contain thiosulphate which can cause a whole host of problems including anemia, vomiting and diarrhea.  It is widely thought that garlic is bad for dogs as well.  This is untrue (except that large amounts of garlic should not be ingested as garlic, like onions, contains thiosulphate).  Garlic in small amounts has many health benefits for your dog and is known to have anti cancer properties.  It also acts as a natural flea repellent.

Chocolate –  Dogs love, love, love chocolate.  I had a dog many years ago who ate about a half pound of See’s Candies at my mother’s house before he was discovered.  Being a little guy, we never quite figured out how he got that huge box of candy off the dining room table.  That was an expensive day…he spent it vomiting at the vet’s office.  Chocolate ingestion, if left untreated, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate and even seizures and death.

Coffee – Coffee can cause rapid breathing and rapid heart rate; it can also affect your dog’s central nervous system.

Bones!  They can be very dangerous for your pet.  Splinters from bones can cause obstructions and lacerations in his digestive system.

Alcohol  – In addition to the rather obvious result of intoxication, alcohol can cause vomiting, coma and death.

Xylitol – Anything containing the sweetner Xylitol can cause seizures, liver failure and death

Macadamia Nuts – These nuts can cause vomiting, stiff joints, hind quarter lameness and  weakness as well as tremors.

Grapes, Currants, Raisins – In lesser amounts, these can cause vomiting and abdominal distress.  In greater amounts, they can cause kidney damage or even kidney failure.

SugarYou won’t find sugar on most lists of things dogs shouldn’t eat.  I include it because sugar is cancer food.  That is, cancer cells thrive on sugar!  Did you know cancer kills more dogs now than anything else?  Sugar is bad for you and for your dog.  Become a label reader and avoid any food or treats that have any kind of sweetener.  The food industry has us humans addicted to sugar, but we can control what our dogs ingest, and we can stop our dogs from falling prey to the damage it does to their bodies!

Healthy dogs should eat a healthy diet.  Dogs don’t crave “bad” things.  They eat the good food we give them.  Show your dog how much you love him, and make good food choices to help him enjoy a long, healthy life!

Dedicated to a long, healthy life for your dog…

Cheryl Major

poody and me cropped  1

 

Healthy dogs…Do you need a vet who practices alternative medicine?

Chloe at 17Healthy dogs and their caregivers want them to stay that way…healthy!

From personal experience I can say that, especially as your dog ages, alternative or integrative care is a wonderful option to consider. As dogs age, conditions like arthritis and organ issues can trigger a traditional vet to prescribe drugs that may be avoided or at least postponed with an integrative veterinarian. Integrative medicine will include herbs, chiropractic, and acupuncture incorporated with traditional vet care. If the term “integrative veterinarian” is new to you, I can assure you, it is new to many people. An integrative veterinarian is one who combines conventional veterinary medicine and holistic medicine.

I fell into a long relationship for my dog with an integrative veterinarian quite by accident. Many years ago, I had a wonderful dog who, at 8 years old, suddenly started having severe neck pain. He was put on Rimadyl by a traditional vet for two weeks. It was a miraculous turn around…until they took him off the drug. Then we were right back to him trembling with pain.

I found a veterinary chiropractor who travelled between 3 different clinics treating dogs. Two chiropractic visits later and some prescribed “puppy range of motion exercises” as I called them, and my dog was fine! No drugs at all!!

About 10 years later, with another unbelievably wonderful dog, I ended up in an emergency vet clinic at 5:30 am one Saturday morning. My 14 year old dog, Chloe, who had been fine the night before could barely stand; if she shook, she would flop over. $1,300 later we had no answers, and worse that the huge bill, Chloe was still in excruciating pain! We were sent home with pain pills and no answers.

The following Monday, I found my chiropractor who had since opened his own Integrative veterinary practice. I took Chloe in, and after two visits to adjust a pelvis that was out, she was fine!!!!!  Hello!!!  No drugs; just the cost of a total of two chiropractic visits!

I strongly endorse integrative veterinary medicine. Conventional and alternative medicine can complement each other. This approach is the most open minded as this type of vet can look at a variety of options to choose what is best for your dog rather than just approaching the situation from only one perspective.

We lost our Chloe a month ago today. She was under the care of Dr. Randy Caviness at Integrative Animal Health Center in Bolton, MA ever since he adjusted her pelvis at age 14. She had a long, wonderful life; she was 17 ½ years old. Thank you, Dr. Caviness, for the wonderful, all inclusive care you gave our Chloe.

Healthy Dogs and Changing Your Best Friend’s Diet (a dog diet transition guide)

dog with food reversedIt has long been known that changing your dog’s food suddenly can cause stomach and intestinal distress.  From time to time and for different reasons, changing his food becomes necessary.

The short solution to this vexing problem is to gradually switch your dog from the existing food to the new food.  This can be accomplished by mixing a little of the new food in with the current food.  If you increase the amount of the new food and decrease the old every day, pretty soon you will have successfully transitioned your dog completely to his new dog diet.

In addition, who wouldn’t like a little change of pace?  Don’t you often wonder if your dog ever gets bored with his food?  Maybe he walks over to his dish at dinner time and thinks…”What…this again?”  I know I often wonder about that.

Several years ago, with the melamine problem in the dog food, it became necessary to switch dog food very quickly.  If this becomes the case (for whatever reason), adding a tablespoon of plain yogurt or giving your dog a probiotic during the transition will give you a better chance to keep his inner workings on a more even keel.

What should you do if you have shocked your dog’s system with a sudden change, and he is having stomach and/or intestinal problems?  Vets usually recommend you stop feeding him for a day to let things settle down in his stomach and intestines.  Then you can start him on boiled rice and chicken.  The white meat of the chicken is less rich and less heavy, so that is the best part to use.  Give him just a little at the start to make sure he keeps it down or it doesn’t start the diarrhea up again.  If you want to make the rice taste more interesting, you can cook it in chicken broth instead of just water or add a little garlic powder while the rice is cooking.  Dogs love garlic, and it’s good for them; onions, however, are not something your dog should eat.

If the diarrhea just doesn’t let up, a trip to the vet is in order.  Your vet may give your dog a few days of metronidazole, also known as Flagyl , a prescription which has worked wonders for my dog.  Within a few hours, we have seen pretty serious diarrhea come under control.

The best course is always to avoid switching your dog’s food quickly, so do your best to make a gradual transition if a change becomes necessary.

Healthy Dogs Need Healthy Treats!

If you’re not a label reader, you should become one very quickly; for yourself and for your dog.

There has recently been a resurgence in the concerns and dangers associated with food & treats imported from China.  This brings back nightmares from several years ago when in 2007 many of us abruptly stopped feeding store bought food to our dogs because of the melamine problem in dog food imported from China.  Too many people lost their innocent pets very quickly when this happened.

The most recent problem centers around illegal antibiotic residue found in dog treats imported from that country.  Four of the drugs found in the treats are not approved at all for use in U.S. poultry.  The fifth, while legal to use, is strictly limited in quantity.

In the 18 months prior to September of last year, 360 canine deaths associated with this problem had been reported.

The symptoms include gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhea (sometimes with mucus and/or blood).  Sometimes severe symptoms such as pancreatitis or internal bleeding can result.  Symptoms related to kidney problems have been reported and include increased thirst, frequent urination with increased amounts of urine, kidney related illness and even kidney failure.

If your dog has any of these symptoms for more than 24 hours, get him to your vet quickly.  Blood tests to check kidney function will show if there is increase urea nitrogen and creatinine.  Most pets are reported to have recovered with treatment if caught in time.

Monitor information as it is posted by the FDA.  In fact you can sign up to receive email updates on any and all recalls by the FDA.  I have done so since the melamine problem in 2007.  Here is the link:

http://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls/default.htm

Label reading can be a bit tricky at times, but in this case, it is amazingly simple.  For the health and safety of your dog, only buy treats that say “Made in the U.S.”!