Is Your Dog Reluctant to “Go” Outside in Winter?

It’s fairly common for dogs to decide that it’s just not worth the trouble of dealing with rain, snow, or freezing temperatures in order to relieve themselves in the winter; they’d prefer to relieve themselves indoors, thanks very much! Of course, that’s just not acceptable to most of us! Here are some suggestions to help your reluctant canine pal maintain proper toilet etiquette in bad weather:

  • Create an outdoor sheltered bathroom area – a shed with a dirt floor, a lean-to, a tent – some space that you keep cleared of snow and that is sheltered from blowing snow and rain.
  • Keep a path shoveled to the above-mentioned sheltered bathroom area so your dog can access it easily.
  • Initially go out with your dog to the sheltered area on a regular bathroom routine until he learns to go there on his own, just as you initially would with a pup when first housetraining.
  • If your dog has a short coat or gets cold easily, consider a jacket and boots. Remember to spend some time conditioning him to them so he loves them.
  • Alternatively, you can create an indoor bathroom for your dog. We tend to think of litter boxes as a cat-thing, but it really might be the right answer for some dogs as well. There are some well-constructed commercial canine litter boxes – I personally prefer the ones with artificial turf to the ones with real grass (it’s easier to keep the artificial grass clean than it is to keep replacing the turf) and I’m not a fan of the basic pee pad. It may be difficult to convince your well-house-trained adult dog to use an indoor litter box; you might start by getting him to use the litter box outdoors and then bring it inside. 

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Three Rules of Thumb to Choosing Correctly: Choice or Structure?

Which is appropriate in a given circumstance; choice or structure?

I am going to make this super simple and it’s not super simple at all. On the other hand, super simple means that when you are in the moment and a little unsure, you are more likely to react in a helpful manner. So let’s call this “better than nothing!”

First, do not offer choice when there is a distinctly wrong possible response that could cause harm.  Harm can be mental or physical, and can be towards the animal, the trainer, or society.

For example, if your dog wants to approach (or even stare) at another dog, and you already know that your dog tends to react badly towards other dogs? Then choice is not an option, because if your dog reacts badly, then harm will result to your dog, yourself, the other dog or society. This is true even if there is no physical contact; emotional harm counts too!

Second, do not offer choice when there is no choice. Asking your dog if they want to go in their crate when you need to put them in their crate? Don’t do it. You’re going in the car and your dog is going in the crate. Cue them to go in their crate, and if they don’t and you plan on going anyway? Pick them up and put them in.   Work on that crate behavior at another time when you really do have choice to offer.

And finally, do not offer choice when your dog is becoming anxious (or is already there). Anxious animals, including humans, want structure! If you are in a shaping session and your dog starts to become anxious? That means they’re no longer thinking clearly. End the session or switch to known behaviors that you can simply cue (cues are structure) or maybe you’ll decide to use luring to start teaching the new thing. Choice is only a reinforcer if the dog wants it, and anxious animals do not want choice. They want to be right. Give that to them! Structure the answer.

At the end of the day, what you choose, choice or structure, is totally dependent on the overall situation, but there are a few rules of thumb. Give those guidelines a try and see if they help you.

On another note, in addition to our 30+ regular 6-week long classes currently registering for the December 1st start in two days, FDSA is offering our 16 most popular workshop recordings of the past year for sale through the weekend. If heading to the mall on the busiest day of the year is not your idea of a good time, then sign up for an educational opportunity instead! Workshops offer a one hour recording with specific steps for you to take to progress towards a goal. They are designed to be watched and put into practice immediately. The second follow-up video will give you examples of how other students applied the material so that you can learn from their experiences. And at only $29.95 each, they are an excellent way to spend a quiet day with your furry companions!  Follow this learn to see what is available and to purchase.  I have three workshops for sale – Precision Heeling, Precision Heeling – Formalizing Your Hand Position (Second step), and Heeling Games.  Read the descriptions and learn more here:  https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/top-workshops

The post Three Rules of Thumb to Choosing Correctly: Choice or Structure? appeared first on Denise Fenzi's Blog.

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Canine Cancer Resources and Hope

For each of the past six months, I’ve written an article for WDJ about the cancers that most commonly afflict dogs. It’s my sincere hope the articles will help any dog owners who find themselves in a fight for their own dogs’ lives understand what they are up against, learn about treatment protocols and median survival times, and where to find clinical trials for and cutting-edge research on the various cancers. 

Gathering the information for the series took a huge amount of time and work, but it’s been a labor of love – a way of paying back the many dedicated, knowledgeable veterinary professionals who helped me get through the illnesses of my two previous dogs. 

Unfortunately, both of my beloved dogs ultimately succumbed to their diseases. But we enjoyed many wonderful days together while we lived with cancer.

IT’S A PERSONAL FIGHT

My Border Collie, Daisy, was diagnosed in 2010 with transitional cell carcinoma, a rare form of cancer, accounting for about 2% of cancers that occur in dogs. I threw myself into researching the disease and treatments and was fortunate to have a group of amazing veterinary specialists on her team. 

I was petrified prior to Daisy’s first treatment, but her primary veterinarian, Dr. Jeffrey Bryan, assured me that severe reactions were rare and this treatment would provide the best opportunity for an extended life span with good quality. My trust in her good doctors was not misplaced; Daisy lived with great quality of life for 2½ years after diagnosis, undergoing chemotherapy during most of that time (see “Chemotherapy Can Be Kind,” WDJ October 2011), even playing with a flying disc after every treatment.

Then, in 2015, my other Border Collie, Duncan, was diagnosed with nasal carcinoma – another rare form of cancer in dogs, accounting for about 1% of all canine neoplasia. It was inoperable, but radiation therapy provided the best chance at reducing the tumor size and providing an extending survival time. 

Even after the experience with Daisy, radiation therapy frightened me: my 14-year-old dog had to be fully anesthetized every day for five days in a row to receive a therapeutic dose of radiation to his head. Duncan was a very sensitive soul; I worried about how these all-day experiences would affect him, not to mention the risks of all that anesthesia. 

To my surprise and delight, Duncan enthusiastically embraced the daily road trips of two hours each way and adored his veterinary technician. He happily left me in the waiting room to go with her for treatment. I’d wait for hours in a bookstore, buying way too many books and drinking way too much tea. 

At the end of the day I would pick him up and we would journey home. By the time we arrived home, he had completely recovered and was ready to play ball for hours (in his heaven, balls rain from the sky). He felt better after those radiation treatments than he had in the weeks prior. There is something to be said for the pain-relieving properties of radiation therapy. 

We had hoped for a good year. We got a great month. Yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

I have to admit that the research for this series left me discouraged; 50 years of scientific investigation into cancer has resulted in only moderately improved treatments – options that, sometimes, extend patients’ lives for just a few months at sometimes incredible cost (physical, emotional, financial). 

For perspective, I turned to someone who has been studying, researching, and treating canine cancer for more than 15 years, Jeffrey Bryan, DVM, PhD, DACVIM Oncology – yes, the same person I was lucky to have as my dogs’ first vet. Dr. Bryan is no longer in private practice, having long since decamped for research and academia. He is now a professor of oncology at the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and director for the school’s Comparative Oncology and Epigenetics Laboratory. When I first met Dr. Bryan, he was working in a veterinary practice in San Francisco. He impressed me with his warmth and knowledge way back when, and he’s only gotten warmer and more knowledgeable with time in this challenging field.

I asked Dr. Bryan whether he still feels hopeful about treating canine cancer, and he said he absolutely does. “What gives me hope is the fact that we make progress every year,” he told me. “I watch brilliant young clinicians and researchers become attracted to oncology every year, making me optimistic for creative new solutions. Companies come along with new approaches to treating cancer all the time. Some of these work very well.”

Dr. Jeffrey Bryan in 2000, when he was still in a general practice veterinarian in San Francisco. Coincidently, he’s examining a patient he had been treating for mammary cancer

Dr. Bryan reminded me, however, that it’s fruitless to hope for the “end” of cancer. “Cancer will always be with us, I’m afraid,” he says. “It’s an evolutionary disease. We need to continue to get better at recognizing it early, addressing it comfortably, and fitting the most effective treatment to each patient.”

Dr. Bryan’s observations reflect some of the newest approaches to cancer treatment, whether it be for humans or canines. Some researchers are moving toward reframing cancer as a chronic illness, one where patients can coexist with cancer cells (as long as the cancer is prevented from growing unchecked). It is hoped that new diagnostics can be developed to provide the earliest identification possible and then eradicate cancerous cells at inception, thereby preventing them from developing into an untreatable malignancy. 

As depressed as I am about the prevalence of canine cancer, I do find hope in the work of Dr. Bryan and all of his colleagues working in the specialty of veterinary oncology. Remarkable advances have been made in treating our canine companions, supported by the developments in affiliated fields such as imaging, rehabilitation, pain management, and pharmacology. Advances in the fields of palliative care and immunotherapy have grown exponentially; the latter is especially promising. 

A FEW MORE CANINE RESOURCES

In my five previous articles, I described the latest diagnostic tools and treatments for the most common canine cancers: mast cell tumors (July 2019), osteosarcoma (August), lymphoma (September), melanoma (October), and hemangiosarcoma (November). 

There are myriad resources available to learn more about canine cancer – the above-mentioned types and others that we have not written about – and this information, like the disease itself, is constantly changing. 

If your dog (like my two Border Collies) is diagnosed with an uncommon type, an internet search will bring up a multitude of results; do research but be discerning in your approach. Look for reputable sources and scientific support for any claims. Many veterinary colleges and specialty clinics have websites with sections for pet owners to learn more about various diseases and treatments; these are credible sources for information. Below, you’ll find some more starting points for reliable information.

Veterinary oncology specialists. While an experienced general veterinary practitioner who has a special interest in canine cancer will be a huge asset to you, I can’t recommend it strongly enough that you seek out help from a board-certified veterinary oncologist. 

These specialists have received extensive oncology training after veterinary school, passed examinations, and completed publication requirements to receive certification by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). When they become certified in oncology by the ACVIM, they will add the letters DACVIM after their names (the “D” is for Diplomate). 

You can use a feature on the ACVIM website to search for board-certified veterinary specialists (find.vetspecialists.com). If there are no oncology specialists in your area, your veterinarian should be able to consult with specialists located farther afield to develop an appropriate treatment plan for your dog.

Clinical Trials. In order to improve detection and treatment of disease, the most promising experimental or investigational therapies need to be tested in clinical trials. The safety and efficacy of these therapies and procedures have often been evaluated first in laboratory animals and the therapy is considered to be of potential benefit to the patient. Your dog may or may not benefit from participation in a clinical trial, but these studies advance veterinary science and have the potential to improve the outcomes of future generations of dogs.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) maintains the AVMA Animal Health Studies Database, which provides information on veterinary clinical trials reported by researchers. Searches for relevant studies can be done using the parameters of diagnosis, location, species, and field of veterinary medicine (such as oncology). See ebusiness.avma.org/aahsd/study_search.aspx.

The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation funds scientific research with the goal of improving the health of dogs. For a link to the trials they fund, see akcchf.org/research/participate-in-research/clinical-trials.html.

In addition, the Veterinary Cancer Society website maintains a page with links to many of the organizations that offer veterinary clinical trials. See vetcancersociety.org/pet-owners/clinical-trials/.

Books. There are a number of books that are very helpful for advancing your understanding of canine cancer. My favorites are:

  • The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, by Demian Dressler, DVM, with Susan Ettinger, DVM, DACVIM Oncology (Maui Media, 2011). A comprehensive guide for practical, evidence-based approaches to canine cancers, including conventional, integrative, and alternative treatment options, supportive care, financial considerations, and resources to help owners optimize lifespan and quality of life.
  • Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life, by Nancy Kay, DVM (Trafalgar Square Books, 2008). An invaluable resource for pet owners to help navigate veterinary care and decisions.
  • The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Scribner, 2010). The quintessential book about cancer – its history, discoveries, setbacks, treatments, and hopes for the future.
  • The First Cell and the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last, by Azra Raza (Hatchette Book Group, 2019). An exploration of the cancer “industry” and a call for change in research and treatment.

Websites. There is no shortage of sites with information about canine cancer. The list of sites with up-to-date, credible, understandable information is shorter. These are a few of my recommended sources of information for pet owners. 

  • drsuecancervet.com and facebook.com/DrSueCancerVet. Dr. Sue Ettinger is a practicing veterinarian and board-certified cancer specialist, international speaker, book author, and vlogger (video blogger). Her information is up-to-date and extremely accessible.
  • dogcancerblog.com. A great resource covering everything from the latest in cancer news to resources to comprehensive articles, featuring Dr. Demian Dressler and Dr. Susan Ettinger, authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
  • morrisanimalfoundation.org. The Morris Animal Foundation bridges science and resources to advance the health of animals. The foundation is at the forefront of funding cancer studies in dogs, including the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, one of the largest, most comprehensive prospective canine health studies in the United States. The study’s purpose is to identify the nutritional, environmental, lifestyle, and genetic risk factors for cancer and other diseases in dogs.
  • ccr.cancer.gov/Comparative-Oncology-Program. The Center for Cancer Research is a division of the National Cancer Institute under the National Institutes of Health. In 2003, the Comparative Oncology Program was launched to aid research in furthering the understanding of cancer and improving the assessment of treatments for humans by treating companion animals. Comparative oncology is the study of naturally developing cancers in animals as models for human disease. Through these trials, pets gain access to cutting edge research and therapeutics; the results then support the further development of human clinical trials. The site also provides disease information, links to clinical trials, news, and publications.
  • wearethecure.org/tag/pet-cancer/. This site has a “Canine Cancer Library” that provides detailed information on an ever-expanding list of types of cancers. The Foundation’s blog presents latest canine cancer news and related stories.
  • merckvetmanual.com/special-pet-topics/cancer-and-tumors. General veterinary information about cancer in pets.
  • scholar.google.com. An easy-to-use free search engine that accesses the full text or metadata of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines; a great resource to look for published research on canine cancers.

HOLISTIC (INTEGRATIVE) VETERINARY CARE

In all the articles about canine cancer published here, I never had an opportunity to discuss holistic care for dogs undergoing treatment for cancer. It’s a huge topic, and one I hope to write about in a future issue. 

The author’s Border Collie, Daisy, asking to play Frisbee immediately after one of her chemotherapy treatment.

Holistic veterinarians embrace a broad approach to care, not only examining the patient, but also the patient’s environment, behavior, relationships, and disease patterns. Veterinarians who self-identify as holistic, integrative, or complementary may have a variety of educational experiences and training; they may augment their conventional veterinary medicine with chiropractic, acupuncture, herbs, and/or other modalities. Their treatment protocols, then, will depend on their education, training, and experience. 

Note: Veterinarians who identify as offering “alternative” medicine might not use conventional veterinary medicine or collaborate with conventional veterinary practitioners. Make sure you are clear about what they do and don’t offer. 

My primary veterinarian is a holistic practitioner and was a valuable member of Daisy’s team. Throughout Daisy’s illness, he supported her with acupuncture, low level light therapy, nutrition, and medicinal herbs. He worked closely with her oncologist to ensure safe and beneficial integrative care. Complementary therapies can be of great benefit to pets with cancer, and holistic veterinarians can help create these personalized support plans.

To locate a holistic veterinarian near you, visit the website of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, a group of member veterinarians and allies who are elevating the veterinary profession through innovation, education, and advocacy of integrative medicine. Go to ahvma.org/find-a-holistic-veterinarian.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

One last resource – an important one. Most cancer treatments for dogs are expensive, as are the diagnostics and supportive care. I was fortunate; at the time when my dogs were stricken, I had the funds to treat both of my dogs. I don’t have those financial resources now, but I do have pet insurance for my current dogs. 

If you have neither the funds nor pet insurance, there are a number of financial resources available for dogs with cancer; the Humane Society of the United States keeps a current list of national and state-specific pet financial aid organizations at the following page: humanesociety.org/resources/are-you-having-trouble-affording-your-pet.

AGAIN:  IT’S PERSONAL

The decision to treat (or not treat) a pet for cancer is a personal decision; there is no right or wrong approach. Cancers are a group of very complicated and diverse diseases with each oncology case being medically unique. I opted to treat both of my dogs and I was fortunate to have gained more time with them. More time to eat ice cream together. To play ball and Frisbee. To cuddle on the sofa. To share synchronized breathing while falling asleep together. To dream together. Every moment is a gift. 

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Q&A with Mark Alizart

The Bark’s conversation with the author of Dogs (A Philosophical Guide to Our Best Friends)
Mark Alizart and his present dog Master Eckhart
Dogs (A Philosophical Guide to Our Best Friends)
This thoughtful examination of the unique place dogs hold in society and the world is from one of Europe’s preeminent philosophers—Mark Alizart. The author delves into historical myth, religion, pop-culture and wherever canines intersect with big ideas. From Buddhism to Spinoza, he makes a compelling case on why dogs matter and articulates the important lessons they can impart to us. The Bark spoke with Alizart about this seminal work.

Enter to win a copy of this rare and engaging book.

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Q&A with Mark Alizart

The Bark’s conversation with the author of Dogs (A Philosophical Guide to Our Best Friends)
Mark Alizart and his present dog Master Eckhart
Dogs (A Philosophical Guide to Our Best Friends)
This thoughtful examination of the unique place dogs hold in society and the world is from one of Europe’s preeminent philosophers—Mark Alizart. The author delves into historical myth, religion, pop-culture and wherever canines intersect with big ideas. From Buddhism to Spinoza, he makes a compelling case on why dogs matter and articulates the important lessons they can impart to us. The Bark spoke with Alizart about this seminal work.

Enter to win a copy of this rare and engaging book.

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Top Ten Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe & Calm this Fourth of July

 

 

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Q&A with Mark Alizart

The Bark’s conversation with the author of Dogs (A Philosophical Guide to Our Best Friends)
Mark Alizart and his present dog Master Eckhart
Dogs (A Philosophical Guide to Our Best Friends)
This thoughtful examination of the unique place dogs hold in society and the world is from one of Europe’s preeminent philosophers—Mark Alizart. The author delves into historical myth, religion, pop-culture and wherever canines intersect with big ideas. From Buddhism to Spinoza, he makes a compelling case on why dogs matter and articulates the important lessons they can impart to us. The Bark spoke with Alizart about this seminal work.

Enter to win a copy of this rare and engaging book.

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Winter Warnings for your Dog

One might think that growing up in Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin would have inured me to the effects of bitter cold, hip-deep snow drifts, and blinding blizzards, but I think it did the opposite and sensitized me to those frigid conditions, instead. I freely admit I am not fond of winter. My aversion to winter is not without just cause. Here is a partial list of cold-weather dangers:

Hypothermia and frostbite. These are very real concerns in frigid climes. Signs of frostbite include discoloration of the affected area of skin (this discoloration is often pale, gray, or bluish); coldness and/or brittleness of the area when touched; pain when you touch the body part(s); swelling of the affected area(s); blisters or skin ulcers; areas of blackened or dead skin. Severe cases of frostbite can result in permanent disfiguration or alteration of the affected tissues, or worse, amputation or surgical removal of the necrotic (dead) tissues. 

Signs of hypothermia can include strong shivering and trembling followed by no shivering; acting sleepy, lethargic, or weak; fur and skin are cold to the touch; body temperature is below 95° F; decreased heart rate; dilated pupils (the black inner circle of the eye appears larger); gums and inner eyelids are pale or blue; trouble walking; difficulty breathing; stupor, unconsciousness, or coma.

Antifreeze poisoning. Spilled antifreeze presents a serious danger to your dog. Dogs are attracted to antifreeze because of its sweet taste, but just a lick or two can be deadly. There are antifreeze formulations that contain a bitter substance intended to deter ingestion, but they are still toxic if consumed.

 Antifreeze poisoning happens in two stages. In the first, which happens three to six hours after ingestion, your dog appears drunk – staggering, vomiting, falling down, and peeing a lot. Then your dog may appear normal, until the second stage begins, when the body starts to break down the ethylene glycol into other chemicals such as aldehyde, glycolic acid, and oxalate. This stage is dangerous because it can cause severe to fatal damage to the kidneys. If you suspect your dog has ingested antifreeze, get her to a veterinarian immediately. 

Ice-melting chemicals. The calcium and sodium chloride in rock salt that is used to treat roads and sidewalks is toxic to your dog. Dogs get the salt on their paws and fur, and lick it off to clean themselves. Signs of salt toxicity include extremes in water consumption (your dog may either drink excessively or stop drinking altogether); vomiting; diarrhea; lethargic or “drunk” behavior; seizures. 

While “pet-safe” salt is safer than regular rock salt, like “pet-safe” antifreeze, it is still not completely safe. Take precautions to avoid ingestion, and contact your veterinarian if you think your dog might have salt toxicity. 

Falling through ice. Every winter brings tragic stories of dogs falling through pond or river ice, and drowning or freezing to death. Sometimes the tragedy is compounded by the death of the human who tried to save the beloved dog. If your dog doesn’t have a rock-solid recall, keep her safely on leash when you are around frozen water. If she does fall through, call 9-1-1 rather than trying to rescue her yourself. If you must rescue her, study up on ice-rescue safety precautions well in advance, and be very careful! 

Heaters. A chilly dog can become a heat-seeking missile and may try to cozy up to the heaters in your home. Caution: She can burn herself on a wall heater or wood-burning stove, or knock over a space heater and start a fire. If your dog is prone to trying to get as close as possible to the source of your home’s heat, use management tools to prevent her access to any heat source that might be dangerous. Provide her with a pet-safe heating pad; these products have chew-resistant cords, and heat up only to a pet’s internal body temperature. Alternatively, give her a cozy den with plenty of warm blankets she can burrow under.

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Dinosaur skull turns paleontology assumptions on their head

A team of researchers has unearthed a well-preserved Styracosaurus skull — and its facial imperfections have implications for how paleontologists identify new species of dinosaurs. Nicknamed Hannah, the dinosaur was a Styracosaurus — a horned dinosaur over five meters in length with a fan of long horns. Paleontologists have learned much from those horns — because they aren’t symmetrical.

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Q&A with Mark Alizart

The Bark’s conversation with the author of Dogs (A Philosophical Guide to Our Best Friends)
Mark Alizart and his present dog Master Eckhart
Dogs (A Philosophical Guide to Our Best Friends)
This thoughtful examination of the unique place dogs hold in society and the world is from one of Europe’s preeminent philosophers—Mark Alizart. The author delves into historical myth, religion, pop-culture and wherever canines intersect with big ideas. From Buddhism to Spinoza, he makes a compelling case on why dogs matter and articulates the important lessons they can impart to us. The Bark spoke with Alizart about this seminal work.

Enter to win a copy of this rare and engaging book.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment