Hank: Star of the Cactus League

If you follow pre-season baseball, you may have already heard about Hank, who is overshadowing this year’s players at the Milwaukee Brewer’s training camp. No, not the Hank Aaron who started his career in Milwaukee. This Hank is a stray dog who wandered into the team’s complex back in February looking a little worse for […]


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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Meet Malcolm and Murphy

2 Dogs 2,000 Miles

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Counter-Conditioning and Desensitization for Dogs (Part 3)

Basic Graduation 2-14-12

Last week I described the counter-condition and desensitization process (CC&DS). When is it the right approach, as opposed to addressing a problem with reward-based training?

Deciding that an association is causing your dog to behave a certain way means making assumptions about what is going on "inside" the dog. These kinds of assumptions are not always right. As a matter of fact, these kinds of assumptions are what can lead to describing a dog as stubborn, dumb, or even the dreaded (and horribly misused) "dominant." Which is not a personality attribute dammit. But I digress…

With the understanding that we are making judgements based on our dog’s body language and behavior there is a general rule we can follow. We use CC&DS to change an undesirable response to a stimulus that seems to be driven by a negative reaction to the stimulus. Let’s consider three possible responses to a human stranger approaching a dog:

  1. The dog attempts to escape.
  2. The dog lunges, growls, barks, in what we would characterize as an aggressive manner.
  3. The dog attempts to jump up and greet the person.

In numbers one and two the dog’s reaction is negative. Both reactions are likely driven by fear. In number three his reaction is positive – he is happy to see the person and wants to greet them, albeit in an inappropriate manner.

We need to change the emotional response in scenarios one and two. A dog that is attempting to flee or attack cannot be taught to greet someone politely, and even if it were possible, he would probably still be distressed. We want to make him more comfortable. This is job for CC&DS.

In scenario three the dog is happy to see people! We certainly don’t want to change that. We have a training problem: we need to teach him how to greet people politely.

In situations where we need to make something "bad" become something "good" (or at least a lot less bad) we use CC&DS. In a situation where something is already good but the response is what is "bad" we use training.

That’s it for CC&DS in this series. Next week we move on to a new chapter in the ABC’s.

But before we move on, here’s a cute video illustrating how classical conditioning works. I wish I had found it when I started this series.

Counter-Conditioning and Desensitization for Dogs (Part 3) is a post written by . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey


Dog Spelled Forward Website and Blog

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Q&A: Guinea Pigs and Mites?

Question by Nibbles Biscuit: Guinea Pigs and Mites?
What is Mites and how do I Prevent it? is it contagious?

Best answer:

Answer by Luv-A-Bee <3
they’re called mange mites and no they aren’t contageous, but if you own other guinea pig’s it can be passed from one to the other. They are like fleas. To prevent them you should house your guinea pig’s inside (as wood cages are where they live) . Also if you bathe your guinea pig with special guinea pig shampoo that can prevent it. To get rid of them you have to take your guinea pig(s) to the vet to get a special drug used on them.

Add your own answer in the comments!

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We love you to death

Veterinary medicine, the happiest field on earth, land of puppy butts and kitty snuggles and Pet Doctor Barbies in hotpants, or so they told me when I was 10.

Or perhaps it is the land of crushing student debt, clients frustrated that they are priced out of affordable care, and the unending mental strain of not being able to make every client happy and whole at the price they want you to provide it for.

Maybe it’s somewhere in between, but to be honest it seems to me like it’s leaning a little more towards the latter than the former. It wasn’t always this way, and yes, there are plenty of vets who still tell you they couldn’t imagine doing anything else, but for many, they can. And do. I was shocked to see how many of my colleagues- good, smart, compassionate veterinarians- have left the field. It happens a LOT.

kittysnuggles

Kitty snuggles may not solve all the world’s ills, but it does help a whole lot.

Burnout rates are high, depression is rampant, and though the world was shocked to learn veterinarians have the highest suicide rates of medical professionals, no actual vets seemed too shocked by the news. The truth is, this is a tough, tough field, and the toll it takes is financial, physical, and mental, each and every day. We are expected by society and each other to buck up and put your own needs on the backburner, day after day after day, and it. wears. you. down.Justine Lee has a great article on the topic: one in four vets have considered suicide.

Last week, a colleague followed through, and our field is all the less for her loss.

It might surprise you to know that while our field tiptoes around the concept of compassion fatigue, it’s not regularly acknowledged as an almost inevitable part of what we do. Those who feel the strain are often left to feel guilty and disappointed in themselves for feeling that way. When the timing is wrong, when the wrong case hits at the same time as a broken water main or someone delivering a court summons, it can be very easy to forget that there is a way through that mess.

Animal lovers are deeply sensitive by nature, and I think both animal care providers and clients may be prone to those intensities of emotion that can veer into unhealthy places. I’ve dedicated my work the last year or so to acknowledging we need to do a better job supporting the emotional needs of our clients, but the truth is we need to so the same for our own.

I sincerely hope our field is able to provide better support for our own in terms of learning to cope with the unique stressors of this career, that those support groups that exist within the veterinary community are not kind of shoved in the corner to be sought out in desperation but held up as a standard for healthy venting and encouraging each other to live well and live outside the clinic.

I bring this up for several reasons, namely because I was very saddened by Dr. Koshi’s death and the circumstances surrounding it. I want my colleagues, especially those of you who are young and still learning how to do this vet thing and do it well, to understand that we all know how hard it can be. The internet has not made this easier. We need to be able to rely on each other and on the profession as a whole.

If any of you are struggling, please reach out, to your friends, to a hotline, to me, I don’t care who you reach out to but just stick your hand out and wave and we will take it. I am happy to hear multiple veterinarians including Dr. Lee, Dr. Myers, and others at NAVC met up to discuss what we can do to be more organized in our support of each other and stop being ashamed of admitting sometimes, this field is HARD.

And for you non-vets, because I know many of you are amazing clients, I want to thank you for being the kind of people who make going to work worthwhile. You are the reason we continue to pull our lab coats on every day.

RIP Dr. Koshi, and know that we will acknowledge and remember the wonderful work you did in this world.

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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It’s OK to laugh

On March first, I hit ‘send’ and the first draft of my manuscript went flying through the ether to New York to land in the capable hands of my editor. It was simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. If any of you watched the Oscars and heard De Niro deliver this little nugget:

The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.

That pretty much sums up my experience of churning out a manuscript. It lifted my spirits to know I was in such good company in my certainty of inadequacy. I’m still not sure of the publication date yet; it depends on a lot of things, such as Grand Central’s current catalogue and how many rounds of editing the book has to go through before it’s whipped into shape like a perfect meringue. I’ll be sure to keep you posted because I did guarantee AT LEAST 25 copies sold and my mom can’t buy them all. :)

In the meantime, I set myself to a side task which turned out to be rather entertaining. As part of my contract I get to submit about 15 black and white photos for the book, covering my life with Taffy, Emmett, and Kekoa. The latter two I’m set on, but finding old pictures from my childhood was a bit more of a challenge.

My father, like my husband now, was an early adopter of new photo technology. This is all fine and good if the technology sticks, but of course as we’ve found it usually doesn’t. This resulted in two major problems:

1. 1975-1983 exists solely on old slides.

2. 1997-2002, the early digital age which also coincided with vet school, ended up on an old-school iOmega zip disk. The whereabouts of said discs are unknown. They may be floating in a box that’s been packed since the day I left vet school, or in a Goodwill store somewhere, or maybe Brian put them on an old PC that is also dead and gone, who knows. It is possible the pictures could be recovered if I actually HAD them, but at this point I would need a genie and a committed tech nerd.

Fortunately for me, my father kept his slides miraculously intact, and spent the last year faithfully transferring them into a digital format. It was crazy to see what he delivered, keeping in mind the last time my father actually set up the projector in the house was 1983. I hadn’t seen any of those pictures since then, kindergarten, first communion, all those moments from decades ago. Taffy as a puppy.

I chose one or two of Taffy looking cute then a few more of me looking as dorky as possible, which meant pretty much all of them (I had a very extended awkward phase.) So because I love you all and I thought it was funny, I wanted to share one of the pics I didn’t end up using but is very illustrative of my formative years:

Scan 3.jpg

I’ll need my sister (the elegant brunette in the back) to chime in on the age of this one. Mid 80s for sure. And there’s me, the love child of Sandy Squirrel and Benny Hill:

sandy

It was a bad time for fashion in general.

And of course Taffy, who was as always plotting her escape. Or perhaps planning where in the house she wanted to pee next. I owe my dedication to the newest odor removing technology to years of following her around with an ineffectual roll of paper towels and whatever carpet cleaner they had in the 80s.

Your turn- who was your first pet? What is your most clear memory of them?

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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TRACIE HOTCHNER: FRITZ IS A NEW MAN ON THE HALO HEALTHY WEIGHT CHALLENGE

DrDonnaSpector-Morgan2011_250wDr. Donna Spector (my superb co-host on THE EXPERT VET on the Radio Pet Lady Network) has been steering the ship in guiding the weight loss plan for Fritz – our first lucky pup on the Halo Healthy Weight Challenge – which we talk about on our show and Dr. Donna has been blogging about online.

Fritz’s Mom, Holly, has added lots of vegetables like steamed zucchini to Fritz’s Halo and has had to use all her self-control to keep his calories restricted to Dr. Donna’s firm but gentle prescription for weight loss. Holly has been reporting the slow but steady loss of 1% to 2% loss of overall weight weekly, which is the optimal way to get the job done.

Since Fritz went on Halo Health Weight Management food, Holly’s family has gotten a whole “new and improved” dog! They knew that choosing Halo as the best dog food to lose weight was working because the success was clear every week on the scale at the vet’s office. And in just a few weeks, Fritz has slimmed down and gets more winks from the girl dogs he encounters when he is away from home. But there’s been a surprise bonus!

Little did they know that losing pounds would also mean an entire personality change for their darling dog! Fritz is a Southern rescue pooch, who was getting a bit fat and lazy with Holly’s family, who showed him a bit too much love with added calories. Ever since we chose him for the Halo Healthy Weight challenge they have watched the pounds melt off, but the exciting bonus is how losing weight has literally transformed Fritz into a whole new man, with a new outlook on life!


Holly reports that as the weeks have gone by and Fritz has gotten slimmer on the Halo Healthy Weight Management food (with vegetables between meals for snacks) her doggy has become more engaged in what is going on, more outgoing and affectionate, has more opinions (which he expresses in a variety of barking howling vocalizations), and he’s playing more with his fellow rescued pooch, Max.

She has seen that along with his weight loss, Fritz has become more active – and has achieved more weight loss from the increase in activity. “When he was heavier, Fritz didn’t really want to play with Max and now they are going at it big time, with Fritz now taking turns being in charge of the play. I think he felt like a fat slob before and now feels a whole lot better about himself, thanks to Halo.”

We all know that carrying excess weight is unhealthy for any of us, which is why Halo created the Healthy Weight Management food so that we can get our dog’s weight down to his two-year-old level and maintain it there. We know that those extra pounds put strain on the joints and can cause problems with organs and overall health – but we’d love this additional Take Home Message for everyone: you may discover amazing added benefits to the weight loss, including surprising energy and upcharged personality. So what are you waiting for?!

Tracie Hotchner is the author of THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is also a renowned pet radio host and producer, having spent 7 years on the Martha Stewart Channel of Sirius/XM with CAT CHAT® and even longer with her award-winning NPR radio show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) that continues to broadcast in the Hamptons and the Berkshires. Her most recent accomplishment is the pet talk radio network she has created on the Internet called The Radio Pet Lady Network.

Halo

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Q&A: why are fleas host specific?

Question by Recher: why are fleas host specific?
why are fleas host specific?

what is special about dog blood that for dog fleas its life essential?

same for human fleas…what’s in human blood that they need to live and procreate

Best answer:

Answer by Common Sense
Their digestive track cannot digest other blood types. They are attracted by the odor of the animal they feed on. To a dog flea, humans stink.

Give your answer to this question below!

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My Pet is Shaking Their Head. Could it be Ear Problems or an Infection?

Many pets come in daily because they are shaking their head, scratching their ears, or having gooey waxy stuff coming out of their red, painful, ears. Pet owners always ask, “What could be wrong?” “Could it be infection?” “Is there something down in there?” “Do they have ear mites?”

Red itchy, gunky, ears are a very common medical problem in both dogs and cats. However, it is a bigger problem in dogs, and especially common in Labradors. Ear problems can be mild. You may only notice an occasional scratch or shake, and the ear won’t look that much different. Moderate to severe ear problems can cause a really red ear filled with gunky wax.

The ear canals should always be checked for mites, ticks, and foxtails. This often takes a bit of cleaning and a look down in the ear canal with an otoscope. Dipping a Q-tip in the black waxy stuff in a cat’s ear and spreading the wax on a slide may show ear mites, a common cause of ear problems in cats. If ear mites or other critters aren’t found, and there isn’t a foxtail or tumor down in the canal, and the ear is red, gunky, and painful…then infection and irritation is the culprit.

The hairy, small canals of toy breeds and other individual pets can cause moisture and wax to build up. Once this wax builds up and becomes soupy, lots of bugs can grow and cause the painful signs we see. Bacteria and yeast will over-grow in a warm, moist, soupy ear and they will cause redness, swelling, and pain. Trimming or pulling the hair from inside the ears and bi-weekly ear cleaning solutions may be necessary to keep the wax from building up, and providing a great home for the bacteria and yeast to grow. Removing hair to allow more air to circulate and dry the ear and cleaning out built up wax may help prevent ear infections.

Allergies are the largest cause of ear infections. Reactions to pollens and molds and food ingredients are the most common cause of red, itchy, goopy ears that never seem to clear up despite repeated treatments with antibiotics and ear cleaners. If your dog scratches their ears and chews at their feet, then they are suffering from hay fever. When the pollen count rises, their ears and feet will itch. Itchy ears produce more wax and can become infected with the bugs we talked about before. Weekly shampoo and conditioner, a daily rinse, or moist wipe of the feet, body, and ears may help remove irritating pollens. During the times the pollen count causes itching, an antihistamine like Benadryl, or a prescription of anti-inflammatory from your vet may help.

One of the most common causes of allergic ear infections are food allergies. Dogs are affected much more than cats, but I’ve seen a few cats with itchy ears that responded to a change of food ingredients. Both ear and skin problems can result from allergies to wheat, beef, or chicken in the food. The best hypoallergenic ingredients are duck or fish, and potato combinations. If you are going to try a limited ingredient food trial to see if food allergies are the cause of ear infections, you have to feed a hypoallergenic diet and avoid wheat in all treats, biscuits, or chews. It usually takes at least a couple months to see if a limited ingredient diet will help those red, itchy ears. The diet usually will really help in at least half of all chronic ear issues. (A hypoallergenic diet may also help with skin, bowel, anal gland, and seizure problems!). If a pet produces lots of wax, regardless of the cause (small or hairy ear canals, allergies to pollens or food ingredients) then ear washes once to twice weekly may be needed to prevent chronic ear infections.

A food trial takes about 2 months to see if it will make a difference with ear or skin problems. That same hypoallergenic, limited ingredient diet is discussed in Dog Dish Diet, and if you want to home cook for your pet, Feed Your Pet to Avoid the Vet. Feeding your pet better ingredients may help with all allergies, seizures, bladder issues, and other medical problems. Click this link for more info: http://dogdishdiet.com/order-now

If your dog have really painful ears and needs temporary relief, you can use dawn detergent to wash the ears with a vinegar rinse. You can also use aspirin (dogs only) and Benadryl for pain and itching. This is only a temporary treatment until you can see your vet. But these painful episodes always seem to happen night, weekends, and holidays when treatment can be more expensive! You can also download a free PDF, Dr Greg’s 11 Practical Home Remedies, for temporary treatment of common medical issues. You can google it, or find it at http://www.dogdishdiet.com/dr-gregs-11-practical-home-remedies-for-dogs-and-cats/

Here’s a video on what makes dogs itch!

Dr. Greg’s Dog Dish Diet

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Grumpy Vet is not amused

I was debating going to SXSW this week, but as it didn’t come to fruition I needed to rely on my husband’s reporting back to let me know all the stuff going on and if it was really worth the four figure ticket price.

“They have animal stuff here,” he said. “You can get your picture taken with Grumpy Cat.”

Really? I asked him.

“Yes,” he said. “There were lines out the door last year. She’s here again.”

“The cat is at a tech conference?” I asked again, trying to get my brain around it.

“Yep,” he said. “They swear she is fine with it, though.” Oh, OK then. Have you ever been to a show like this? I’m a primate and I barely escape without an anxiety attack.

Now look, I try to remind myself not to be the hand wavy finger shaking vet, and those of you who know me, know I tend to give a lot of passes to people when it comes to doing things with your pets. Dress up your dog here and there, OK. Have a pet who likes to show off and skateboard or whatnot and clearly enjoys the bonding time? Go for it. And I would even try, within reason, to understand an occasional appearance here and there for a specific purpose. Within reason.

She’s Fine With It

At what point does ‘occasional’ become too much? I guess it’s an individual thing. My definition of within reason is different than other people’s, sure, but I suppose that is why the internet is such an interesting place to hold discourse. I’ve found a line I would not cross.

Let’s take a look at Grumpy Cat’s Wikipedia, “According to the Bundesens, Tardar Sauce is a normal cat “99% of the time”. Photo sessions are only once a week, and handling by strangers is limited.  At SXSW (2013) Tardar Sauce made limited two-hour appearances each day as Grumpy Cat.

Aaaaand she’s back again.

People tell me all the time their pet is happy when their ears are plastered against their head and they are 2 seconds from snapping. Just because you say it, just because you believe it, doesn’t make it so. The absence of actively trying to escape doesn’t mean you’re fine with it; I once saw a rabbit sitting on a red carpet surrounded by cameras and dogs sitting stock still while it waited to get eaten. I wasn’t thrilled that time, either.

If you’re going to exploit your cat’s genetic defect for millions of dollars, I’m not going to stop you, but at least be honest enough to say yes, this is what I’m doing. Because you can swear this is to the cat’s benefit all you want, but truth of the matter is I can’t think of a single feline I’ve met in my lifetime who would enjoy getting passed around to strangers while on a boat ride. Come on. This does not require an advanced degree to know. It simply involves having met any cat.

I know I’m not the only one who is a little skeeved out by this, and it’s not just people in the animal profession going “ummm…”. It’s too bad that every time someone tries to say, “Hey, you know…?” they’ll get drowned out by people calling them crazy animal activists or whatever similar marginalizing thing they can come up with, but I’m OK with that. When tech guys are telling PETA, hey, I think you got this one wrong, you know something very Carroll-esque is going on. We’re all mad here.

Not Neglect, But Not Exactly Altruistic Either

Let me be clear: I do not think the owners are abusive, or neglectful, or horrible people. I do not think the cat is being pushed to death’s door and needs to be removed by animal control. Compared to all the real and horrible animal abuse going on out there, this cat has it made. But let’s not kid ourselves and say this is the life she would have chosen or even that this is not stressing her out.

Thanks to reddit, we’ve seen all sorts of strange-looking animals launched into internet stardom, from shepherds with 2 noses to cats with no faces. Strange sells. Sure, altruism abounds and people’s hearts are in the right places generally speaking, but let’s not pretend this is anything other than what it really is:

sideshow

Our generation’s circus sideshow.

So go enjoy the show, I told my husband, but I don’t need a picture of you with Tardar Sauce. One less person she has to ‘meet’.

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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