Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My advice about your dogs- Anne's "doggie Bible"

I find that I am always getting asked advice about other people's dogs and I love helping out, so I thought I would send this out into cyberspace- feel free to email to your doggie buddies. This advice is built on 35 years of experience with all kinds of dogs and all kinds of "issues". I have spent my life watching dogs, so alot of what I have learned is from experience with my own dogs, and the rest is from books, vets, and other rescue people. I am not a vet, but I am almost a vet tech. :) I will list advice based on what I get asked most often and if you have other questions, feel free to write! I am amazed at what people don't know about very basic things so I will start there. Don't mind my "attitude" in my writing- it's just me. I tend to have pretty strong feelings about much of which I am writing.


Do not ever feed a dog any food that wheat, soy, or corn in it. These are cheap fillers and are not good for a dog. If you think about it this way, it makes sense. A dog is a domesticated wolf. Period. Do wolves eat corn? How about wheat? SOY????????? No, dogs are meat eaters and any grain or grass they would get as a wild wolf would be the tiny amount in the stomach of the rabbit or rat that they ate. Pay a little more now, scoop less poop and literally cut the vomiting episodes out for good, unless your dog is sick, of course.

Feed every single dog at least twice a day. I DON"T CARE WHAT YOUR SCHEDULE IS. Feed the dog in the morning and at night. This will prevent stomach issues and eliminate "torsion"- which is twisting of the gut which happens in larger breeds when they are starving and they scarf down one meal very quickly. This leads to death if the dog is not operated on. Marley died for this reason- remember the book? Dogs get low blood sugar just as we do and feeding them twice a day just makes sense if you think about it. I feed less food and also give my dogs treats 2 times a day. Small dogs and young puppies are more prone to have low blood sugar seizures, so always feed them 3 times a day. Adult small dogs may not need three feedings, but young puppies MUST be fed at least 3 times a day. The brain will not develop properly if it is starved of sugar. Lazy owner, dumb or dead dog. Simple.

Water- clean it out every day- yes, dogs will drink pond scum but ONLY IF CLEAN WATER IS NOT AVAILABLE. If you don't believe me, put an old bowl of water next to a brand new clean bowl and watch your dog. I TOLD YOU!!!!

Wet vs. dry- Ok, listen to me- it makes NO DIFFERENCE IN YOUR DOG"S TEETH WHAT YOU FEED. Yes, I said that. You should give your dogs something to scrape their teeth on regardless of what you feed, but as with us, 90% of their potential teeth issues are INHERITED. I had two dogs that were fed the exact same food for 12 years- one lost 6 teeth and the other did not lose ONE. So I know this is the truth. If your dog has a nasty mouth by heredity (small breeds and toy breeds are more prone to this) you should take extra care to give them bones to chew on. I personally don't have time to brush my own teeth twice a day, much less my dogs. :) JUST KIDDING.

Food allergies show up most often as redness on the tops of the paws, red ears, and an itchy dog. There is no food allergy test for dog- it is just trial and error. If you think your dog has a food allergy, go to a good pet store and get some outlandish food like venison, salmon, or elk. Try your dog on that (NOTHING ELSE) and see if it improves. Salmon oil and Norwegian sea kelp are also super helpful.


90% of all behavior or eating issues are related to one thing- lack of exercise. If a dog is not allowed to run, walk, or get some intense exercise, they are going to get into things and refuse to eat or be a picky eater. They will also be more prone to leg breaks (toy breeds) and arthritis as they age. If you find your dog being bad or not eating, ask yourself this question FIRST- "How much exercise has my dog had today?" If the answer is NONE, it's your fault, don't scold the dog- get your fanny outside and walk or run your dog. Now, if your dog is sick, this doesn't apply- of course. A happy dog sleeps alot. My dogs spend from 10am -5pm outside every day unless it is cold or rainy. Thus, they sleep HARD from 5pm- 6 am. Puppies are no exception- if they are bored, they will chew, ransack, and be a pain in the tush. They are curious, so provide TONS of different kinds of toys for them- especially REAL RAW BONES. Go to the butcher shop in your store, ask for some raw soup bones. Put a sheet down for your dog and supervise while you watch TV- easiest puppy sitting ever.

Sick dogs
- if you are tuned in to your dog, you will KNOW when your dog is "off". Look in their eyes- are they sad looking? Are they off their food? My rule for sick dogs is this. Take their temperature first. Use ANY KIND OF THERMOMETER- a sick dog will have 102.5 or higher. If they have a fever, go to the vet- NOW. Take a stool sample with you. If the dog is not running a fever and has vomited, do not offer the dog any food for at least 12 hours. Then offer chicken and rice. If you are too tired to cook, buy rice cereal for babies and chicken baby food- and keep these for these emergencies. Add extra chicken broth as dogs can dehydrate quickly. One day of sickness is "watch and wait". Second day is "go to the vet". The only disclaimer to this is if your dog has blood in his stool or vomit, GO TO THE VET NOW. Many times a dog will eat something in the yard that disagrees with him or her and after 24 hours, they will be as right as rain. A second day may indicate something more serious. If the vet tells you that your dog has colitis, email me. I am a pro at colitis. It's nothing to be freaked out about, but it does require diligence and alot of nursing on your part. If you work and cannot give the dog fluids by mouth, please leave the dog at the vet- a dog with colitis should not be left alone all day. If you have a good relationship with your vet, ask them to show you how to give a bolus of liquid under the skin. It is the best and most reliable way to keep a sick and feverish dog hydrated and it is not difficult, nor is it expensive. Basically you buy a bag of Ringer's solution at the pharmacy and insert the needle under the skin facing down and allow the fluid to flow underneath the skin slowly. There will be a lump there but that will go away as the body absorbs the Ringer's solution. Your vet will tell you how much your dog needs and how often to give it. This one thing will save you alot of heartache. Until you have tried to get 12 syringes of water down a dog's mouth that is sick, you won't know why I suggest that every owner learn to do this. Pharaoh, our first dog, was sick with colitis quite a few times and GOD BLESS HIS SOUL, he let me give him syringes of warm water or broth in his mouth even though he was miserable. He knew I was helping, but it is tedious for the dog and the person. I love that dog and he will always be the best example to me of what a good dog or human should be.

One other thing I would like to yell at every owner- LEARN HOW TO PILL YOUR DOG, FOR GOD'S SAKE!!!! You would not believe the number of dog owners who crush up pills over their dogs' food when all they need to do is swipe the pill through some butter and put it deep in your dog's throat. The problem with crushing up the pills is this- if your dog does not eat all of the food or lick the bowl clean, how much of the medicine did he actually get? People say, " I can't pill my dog, he's impossible." Well, I've pilled dogs for 30 years and this is what I can tell you- teach the dog that if he's a good pill taker, a treat comes immediately afterward. I give my dog Maggie her allergy medicine and then immediately I say, " GOOD GIRL, WANNA TREAT?" and I then give her something divine such as summer sausage or chicken or some other goodie. (She has environmental allergies, not food allergies.) This is such a routine at our house that when she hears the Benedryl bottle come out, she runs into the kitchen. Our African Grey now says, ' Good girl Maggie- wanna treat???"- That's how often we do this. The dog would swallow a watermelon for me. The best stance to take is from the back, in my opinion. Crouch with your body over the dog, behind them sort of- then open their mouth and put the pill WAAAAAAAAAAAAY back and actually push it down their throat. Butter is great because it makes the pill slippery and it tastes good. After a while you can do it from the front because the dog won't struggle anymore. I pill all my dogs and cats from the front. If you just cannot handle that, put the pill in a piece of hot dog- most dogs won't chew it, they'll just gulp it down.

Dog medications
- your vet is either forthcoming or he or she is not- it's that simple. I am blessed to have honest vets. There are some drugs that are human formularies- meaning they were made for humans and dogs can take them. Other drugs are pet formularies only. YOU DON"T HAVE TO BUY HUMAN DRUGS FROM YOUR VET!!!!!! If your vet tells you that your dog needs Keflex or Prednisone, ask if those drugs are human drugs or dog drugs- then ask them if you can please get them at Walmart or Publix- many antibiotics such as Keflex are FREE at certain stores. Your vet's markup on these drugs is ridiculous- save your vet's drugstore for "dog only formularies". And if your vet refuses to write the script for Walmart or Publix, get a new vet, NOW. I cannot stress the importance of the honesty issue enough. I will address this more in the next section.

Your vet and what you should expect from them

I have been using Augustine Loretto Animal Clinic for almost 15 years. When we moved 20 minutes from their office eight years ago, I tried all the vets between me and them. I went to SEVEN vets and found all of them to be either dishonest, egotistical, unethical, overpriced, or ignorant. I promptly returned to ALAC. I have taken over 75 animals there in the last 15 years, so I know what to tell you about vets.

Price- you don't want the cheapest vet around, unless it is just for shots. You don't want to go to the most expensive vet, either. Price should play very little into your decision on a vet- this should be your last consideration and I will tell you why. A cheap vet is not a great vet and an expensive vet is not a great vet- a great vet is a great vet apart from their price sheet, period. You should get a three year rabies shot and IF YOUR DOG HAD ALL OF ITS PUPPY SHOTS FOR THE FIRST YEAR, your dog should not need other shots, period. The only exception is bordatella for dogs who stay in boarding facilities. If you think I am loony, look up "vaccination protocol adopted by American Veterinary Schools on Yahoo or Google. A healthy dog should only need a rabies shot and that every three years. This is another indicator of the honesty of your vet- if they tell you that you must bring in your dog every six months after a certain age, run like hell. If they tell you that your dog must get its yearly shots regardless of the dog's exposure to other dogs, get another vet. Think about this- if your dog stays in your yard and never comes into contact with other dogs or other sick dogs, why in the world would you need to vaccinate against distemper when your dog is six years old? Where is the dog going to get distemper? I see more dogs get auto immune illnesses because they were vaccinated to death in the first five years of life. You can save money and tears by discussing your dog's specific vaccination needs with your vet. Again, this is a very good indicator of the honesty and integrity of your vet.

Qualities of an exceptional vet- an exceptional vet should look you in the eye and listen intently to what you have to say about your pet. You are your dog's advocate and YOU live with the animal 24/7, not the vet. The vet's job is to take your information and use his or her knowledge to find out what is wrong. A vet who won't listen to you or a vet who rushes you is not worth your time or money. The vet should be willing to teach you about your animal- if you want to learn, which every owner should want to learn as much as they can about their animal's condition. A great vet will tell you the numbers and names of the blood work or whatever and then go into a thorough explanation of what those numbers and names mean. Often I ask my vets to tell me "in kindergarten language". I have never been rushed in 15 years- EVER. If the vet has an emergency come in, then they should be willing to call you on the phone and explain later. A great vet will call you after a surgery. A great vet will allow an established client to page them in case of an emergency. A vet who tells you that they "don't take call" and to take your dog to the emergency vet without talking to you is not a vet worth having in my opinion. Many times I have talked to Dr. Prince on the phone and he has saved me a trip to the Doggie ER, which by the way, is a wonderful place when you need them, but you will pay a standard $74-$150 fee JUST TO WALK IN THE DOOR. No, I am not kidding. Obviously there are times to skip the page and run straight to the ER- hit by car, seizures, vomiting blood, etc.

The other gauge to know whether a vet is good is how they behave when it comes time to put down a beloved animal. Any vet worth their salt will not rush you through this horrible process but let you take the time you need to pet, love, cry over, and say goodbye to your animal. Dr. Eslick, one of my four vets, once sat for 30 minutes and told me, " I am not putting this precious cat to sleep until he is purring and drooling." My cat would drool when he was very very happy. So, she sat and I pet Spaz and then after a while when he was soaking my lap, she talked to him and told him what a great kitty he had been and gently put him to sleep. THAT'S a great vet. Lately, Dr. R has been our friend at this time and I see her as the angel who sends my dogs to heaven. She gets teary eyed (for me) and always gives me a big hard hug when I leave and that means more to me than she will ever know. SHE CARES. That is the most important quality of a vet besides knowledge- compassion. If a vet acts like a pompous jerk, pick up your dog and say, " Thank you but I 've changed my mind about your being my vet- I don't care for your bedside manner." AND THEN LEAVE!!!!! They need to know that they are being callous. I've done this myself with one of the seven vets I tried and I have heard that since he heard it so much, he is now working on being more "people friendly".
Boarding your pet
The best option for boarding your dog is to find a family who boards animals in their home. Often you can find these on Craigslist or ask your vet if they know of anyone. The next best option is a pet sitting service. You shouldn't pay more than $25 a day to board your pet ANYWHERE. Beware of pet boarding facilities (including vet hospitals) that charge you extra for things that should be standard. For example, we once took our birds to a local vet's office (not my regular vet as they don't board birds) and we paid $15 per bird per day. That's pretty good. I asked the attendant how many times a day someone would talk to them or take them out. "Interaction is $10 extra per bird per day." was her reply. If I hadn't been desperate I would have left with my birds. INTERACTION IS EXTRA???????????? Don't pay extra for them to pill your dog (they are supposed to be doing this because they love animals, remember?), to walk your dog, or to interact with your dog. There are plenty of people out there who would love to nickel and dime you to death and those folks are not doing this for the love of the creature- it's all about profit. If someone is doing something for profit and not for the love of the animal, I wouldn't trust them with any of my animals. A professional pet sitter would consider all of the above things to be "standard" with any pet sitting fee. If you cannot find a pet sitter in your area, contact the rescue group for your breed in your town- they would probably be very happy to dog sit for you to offset the cost of their rescue work, and they know your breed better than anyone else. This is not hard-you just google, " Italian Greyhound rescue, Jacksonville Florida" or whatever and you'll have 2 or 3 options within an hour's drive from you, probably. Alot of rescues will dog sit a breed that they don't rescue- as long as there's not a huge size difference. For example, we dog sit Italian Greyhounds but we wouldn't dog sit German Shepherds- we might sit a poodle, or another small breed. Always go in and look around at wherever you are leaving your pet- look for holes in the fence, sharp wires ,glass, or anything else that might injure your pet. If the place is nasty- LEAVE. Don't worry about hurting some one's feelings- your dog is more important than their feelings. Always sign a release stating that you give your permission for the individual to take your dog to a vet if necessary if they cannot get in touch with you and SPECIFY WHAT VET THE DOG IS TO BE TAKEN TO!!! I have heard more horror stories of dogs being taken to "the local yokel" vet and having disastrous results. It is YOUR RIGHT to have your dog transported to the vet of your choice, period. Make sure that is stated on the release and sign it and have the dog sitter sign it.

Pet stores

This is real simple. Don't ever buy a dog from one. If you want to know why and are prepared to have your guts ripped out, google or yahoo the term backyard breeders or pet shop breeders and watch some video- it will be enough to make you run from every pet store you see. PETA is a great place to find those videos. Most people have no idea what goes on behind the pet store's pretty presentation. It's ugly, vile, and very dishonest.

Why should I choose a rescue dog over a purebred dog from a reputable breeder?

I have very strong feelings about this and here is the reason. In the USA in one year, 8 million dogs are taken into humane societies or animal care and control facilities. 4 million leave alive. 4 million dogs (at least) are euthanized each year. ANYONE WHO IS ADDING TO THE POPULATION OF DOGS IN THIS COUNTRY is adding to the problem. I know good breeders and they breed maybe 2 times a year- I have no issue with that. Someone has to keep the lines clean and make sure there are healthy and genetically correct dogs out there. Remember this one thing- dogs in rescue are not "problem children" always. Many times they are victims of "problem parents"- people who divorce and give up their dog, people who switch breeds like they change underwear, people who find they are expecting a child and can't POSSIBLY handle one dog and one baby.(If you can't juggle one dog and one baby, the teenage years will kill you.) What's wrong with their dog? NOTHING, except it had the sad fate of belonging to someone who didn't take their committment to the dog seriously. That sounds harsh, but let me say something. If you can take your dog to a kill shelter and leave it when there is nothing wrong with the dog, you have no heart- there are many other alternatives to kill shelters. Rescues are always ready to take in dogs and if the first 10 that you call are full, keep calling. There is NO EXCUSE for anyone to leave a "good" dog at a kill shelter. So, if you want a grateful dog who will spend the rest of its life thanking you for saving its life, get a dog from a kill shelter or from a local breed specific rescue. Let's put the backyard breeders OUT OF BUSINESS.

I hope that you have learned something you might put to use one day. I've been blessed to be able to help many owners with their problems so feel free to email me if you have a question that I didn't address here. My email address is Enjoy your dog and realize that they are valium covered in fur. :)


luther turner said...

Dear Ann , Can you help me with my 6 mo. old German Shepard. ( male ).
I cant walk out of the room and he starts barking (non stop ) until he sees me . Another problem that i have is i cant keep him from jumping on me and others when he gets excited or wants to play. His claws are like razors.
Please help me with this urgent matter.

Anne said...

Luther- I can help you but I have no way to reach you. Your dog has classic seperation anxiety. I can help you with that.The jumping behavior is absolutely puppy and dog greeting behaviour. It's annoying and can be eliminated but it's the psyche of wolves and dogs. If you send me your email address, I will be happy to help.