Pet Peeves: Yours might just save a life

By Lisa Wagner

Operations Director of Walks N Wags Pet First Aid

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Pet peeves.  Pardon the pun, but all pet lovers have them.   When it comes to the safety of our beloved animals, some of our pet peeves are certainly warranted.   Each of us can visualize a moment where we saw a pet in a risky situation.  Think back to your personal memory.  Do you remember the disbelief, panic, and maybe even anger that someone put a helpless animal at risk?  Next you may have thought: “What should I do?  Do I confront the owner?  And if I do, how will they react? ” We’ve all been there.  As animal lovers we never want to see harm come to an animal, especially if the incident could have been prevented.

Fortunately, many injuries and even illnesses can be prevented with attention and care.  By taking the time to educate ourselves and foresee possible risks to our animals, we can even potentially save their lives.

Two pet safety peeves that are easily preventable include: leaving dogs loose in truck beds and tying pets up unattended outside stores unattended.  Well-meaning pet owners may not realize the hazards their pets face in these circumstances!  Learning more about these dangers and taking action might mean that you will save a life.

DOGS LOOSE IN TRUCK BEDS

 

Tacoma in truck unedited 2016

To some, it looks like fun for a dog to ride along in the back of pickup trucks.  The fur blows in the breeze, the tongue hangs out and the animal looks thrilled to be free.  Unfortunately, the risks of being loose in a truck bed are just too significant. In fact, the Motor Vehicle Acts and Animal Care Acts of most provinces specifically prohibit this practice!

Risks:

  • No protection from the elements.  When thinking of elements like heat from the sun, don’t forget risk of hypothermia and frostbite from windchill and cold in winter.  Each of these ailments can be deadly.
  • Your dog is at risk of being a projectile.   A quick turn or sudden stop is all that it takes for your dog to fall out of the truck, or even come through the back window into the cab.
  • Jumping out of the vehicle.  No matter how well trained a dog is, it is not a robot.  There is always the risk that some sort of creature or other item of interest may lure your dog out of the vehicle one day.  Even if your pet is tethered into the vehicle, jumping out could result in dragging injuries such as road rash…or worse.
  • Stress.  What might look fun to you, isn’t necessarily for them.  Not all dogs feel stable in this environment.
  • Theft.  Your worst nightmare.  Your dog could be stolen.  Stopping in to a store or to see a friend for a few minutes?  Thieves are opportunist and your dog is an easy target.  It’s not worth the taking the risk.
  • Monetary fine.  If you get pulled over by police, be prepared to fork over some cash in fines.

If you see an animal unsecured in a truck bed, there are many things you can do to take action.

Actions:

  • If the vehicle is parked and the owner is present, politely let them know that you care about their animal’s well-being and that you aren’t sure that they are aware of the risk to their beloved pet.  Education, when presented calmly and without judgement can often have a favorable outcome.
  • If the vehicle is parked and the owner is no present, if it’s safe to do so, please assess the health of the animal.  If you are concerned about the animal overheating or conversely being too cold, please call your local Animal Control or SPCA for assistance.  Contact a Veterinarian if you are concerned about the dog’s health.
  • If the vehicle is moving, take a snapshot with your smartphone (if it is safe to do so).  Contact your local non-emergency police with the licence plate number , description of vehicle, and what street the vehicle is traveling on.
  • If you are a truck owner yourself, consider the following safer options:
  • Consider keeping your dog inside the cab with you.
  • Purchase a well vented crate and secure it safely onto your vehicle.
  • Use a well-fit body harness and tether your dog with a short enough leash that there is no risk of jumping over.
  • Remember to consider the elements when your dog is in your truck.  Provide bedding and fresh water.
  • Supervise your dog at all times.  Do not leave dogs unattended in a truck bed.

DOGS TIED UP UNATTENDED

Derry tied up 2016

Every one of us has seen it: the forlorn pup waiting outside the coffee shop or grocery store.  Sometimes the dog is indifferent, other times panic-stricken.   Perhaps, this pup even belongs to you.  You had to pop in to pick up a jug of milk, a coffee, or even collect your child from school.

Please think twice about doing this; there are some definite risks associated with leaving our pets unattended:

Risks

  • Theft.  Theft is the most obvious risk.  While the risks are small, they do exist and coming out to find one’s animal gone would be devastating.
  • Mistreatment.  Simply put, not everyone knows how to appropriately approach and touch dogs.  This particularly applies to children, who tend to move quickly, make loud noises, and if not previously educated, may touch animals too roughly.
  • Injury.   We have no idea who or what is going to pass by while our dog is unattended.  Another dog could attack our dog.  A predatory bird could attack your small dog.  A parking car could jump the curb and injure your dog.  Pets are safest when supervised by their human guardians.
  • Elements.  Pets left outside in the heat, the cold, or the pouring rain simply have no way to protect themselves from the elements.  It’s our job to protect them from such hazards.

Actions

While it’s very possible the owner will be right back, if you are concerned about the dog’s well-being for any reason here are some actions you can take.

  • Stay with the dog.  Just staying with the dog and keeping it company is a buffer from harm.
  • If the animal is at risk from the elements (heat, cold, excessive rain) please do your best to shelter them.  Offer water if the animal is overheating (only if it is conscious).
  • Check for ID.  If the dog has ID call the owner and politely express your concern.
  • Send someone inside.  Ask around to see who owns the dog in question.  When you find the owner, please let them know you are a caring citizen and report what had you concerned.
  • Have the owner contact a Veterinarian if you are concerned about the dog’s health.

EDUCATE YOURSELF

Education is an important part of pet health and safety.  Becoming aware of preventable injuries and taking action to protect one’s pet is a wonderful gift to give them.

If you aren’t sure where to start, reach out to your local Veterinarian, Humane Society, SPCA, or another respected pet professional.

All pet owners want their pets to live long, happy lives.  We have the power to help make that happen by steering our pets clear of illness and injury.  Remember, the best form of pet first aid is prevention.

 

Photo credits, the small dog Derry was photographed by Cicy Guimond and the larger dog Tacoma was photographed by Charlene dela Cruz. 

Probiotics and Goat Milk for Dogs

 

By Donat Koller and Jasmine Sieber

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Digestion:

First I will compare the human and the dog’s digestive system. The greatest similarity is that we are both omnivores, and can eat pretty much anything.

But there are some significant differences when we start looking at the details:

1. Our jaw moves up and down, as well as sideways, which allows us to thoroughly chew, or pre-digest our food. The jaws of dogs can only go up and down, the jaw is meant to crush bones, and does not need to mush up the food.

2. Both, ours and the dogs saliva are meant to lubricate the food, but the dogs also has the ability to kill off harmful bacteria, which explains why they can eat things off the floor and not get sick.

3. Our food moves through our stomach in about an hour, which explains why we get hungry repeatedly during the day. The dog’s food stays in the stomach much longer. The stomach is also much more acidic than ours, and is designed to break down large pieces of food. That explains why dogs can do well with only one feeding per day.

4. Our intestines are much longer than that of a dog, and allow a lot of time to absorb nutrients. The dog’s intestines are shorter, and that is why they don’t do so well on high fiber foods, like plants or grains.

Probiotics

The word has a Greek origin, and means “live promoting “. Probiotics were discovered by a Scientist, who noticed that people who use sour milk as their main diet can get very old, despite their poverty. In the following years a lot of research has been done and there is a lot of literature available on the benefit, illness prevention, and overall wellbeing that probiotics can provide. We all heard of the saying “we are what we eat”, and introducing healthy microorganisms into our diet can be very beneficial to our health.

Probiotics for dogs

Due to the differences mentioned above, probiotics don’t act the same in humans as they do in dogs. The challenge in the dog’s digestive system is to keep the probiotics alive until they reach the intestines, since that is where their elixir properties come in to play. First they need to survive the aggressive saliva, then the low and long acting acidity in the stomach, before they can move on to the intestines. It is advised to do a bit of research before starting to feed your pet probiotics. In general we can say, that products pre-mixed into the feed are not suggested, because often these bacteria have a very short life span. It is also not suggested to use products that use 6 or more types of bacteria, because they will be in competition with each other for survival. Best is to use a probiotic product as a supplement to your regular dog food.

I have to mention at this point that dogs are not susceptible to the placebo effect. So, if you want to feed probiotics to get your dog to have better bowel movements, or have better breath, get rid of gas or a yeast infection, nice coat or good energy level, you should notice a difference. Long term benefits are of course hard to recognize, but the main reason here is to prevent diseases through the feeding of probiotics, and the more it is important that you choose a product that does the job. It is also highly recommended to feed probiotics when a dog (or human) is on an antibiotic treatment.

It is evident that there are two types of products which seem to work. First are refrigerated dried, powdered probiotic supplements. They get activated once they reach the stomach, and seem to survive the saliva quite well. But again there are low cost products on the market, and it is hard to tell if the bacteria you feed to your dog are still alive. It is definitely best to buy a product that needs to be refrigerated and make sure to watch the best before date. Shelve stable dried products are unlikely to have much live bacteria left. There is an interesting study from the University of Toronto, which questions the efficiency of many probiotics.

The other option is to feed a food that naturally contains probiotics, like yogurt, kefir, bananas or tripe and there are many more that are not necessarily good for dogs, like onion, garlic or honey.

Fermented dairy products can be very good for dogs, as long as they are used as a supplement only, (too much can cause diarrhea or can cause a dog to gain unwanted weight). Fermented dairy contains protein which is easy for the dog to digest, and due to the fermentation they don’t contain any lactose at all.  The amount of live bacteria listed on the label is the guaranteed amount at the end of the shelve life so you know these micro organisms are active. Yogurt and kefir are naturally acidic, so the bacteria in it will have no problem accepting the low acidity of the stomach. Most dogs love dairy, and the products will pass quickly thru the mouth, and due to the high moisture level will not activate extra saliva production. And it is cost effective, because all you need is 1 to 3 tbsp per feeding depending on the size of the dog, and if the product gets close to shelve life, we can always eat is our selves, and it doesn’t need to go to waste. Fermented dairy products are also minimally processed, and often of a local source.

Goat Dairy Products

Goat Milk Products have gained huge on popularity in North America during the past 10 years. There are numerous reasons for that. It still is a small industry with no industrial production. In Canada, Family farms and local processors dominate the market.

The Pharmaceutical industry has no interest in smaller operations, and products like growth hormones are not even available for goats, as mentioned earlier.

Further, it needs to be mentioned that goat milk is very easy to digest. Both fat and protein are different than in cow milk, and cause less allergic reactions than regular dairy. Goat milk has high levels of Caprylic Acid which naturally fights yeast.

The literature often mentions that goat milk can relieve arthritis or arthritis like symptoms, which makes it a great additive for older dogs.

The Journal of American Medicine repeatedly quoted that goat milk is “The most complete food known”.

By combining goat milk with probiotic bacteria, we create a genuine super food, for both dogs and humans. The two most popular products are goat milk yogurt, and goat milk kefir.