Do You Know The Danger Signs?

Courtesy of Dogster.com

Did you know that hot temperatures can be dangerous for your dog? Add in high humidity and that danger can turn deadly. Here’s what you should know…

Feel confident you know the signs, but want a quick refresher? Check out these 11 Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion in Dogs, courtesy of Noah’s Ark Veterinary Hospital.

Want more info? The AKC’s Canine Health Foundation  has an easy-to-read bullet list of contributing factors, signs, prevention, and management in heat stroke situations.

UCDavis Veterinary Medicine shares the clinical signs of heat-related illnesses and risk factors for heat stroke in dogs. They note:

Causes of heat stroke may be non-exertional or exertional. Non-exertional heat gain is the result of being in a hot environment, such as a hot car, or spending time outside in direct sun. Exertional heat gain is due to exercise, such as playing catch or running. It is important to note that increased body temperature due to heat stroke is not the same as fever, which is caused by the body’s reaction to an infection or other disease process.

If you’re interested in learning more from an academic perspective, check out Today’s Veterinary Practice.

And one more infographic (click once to enlarge; click twice to read all the small print). Save and share!

Be safe!

Happy Birthday!

In AKC time, Sasha is seven years old today! We chose July 4th for her “official” birthday in declaration of her independence from the old and in celebration of her new life. She’s now formally recognized by the AKC as Ozark Summer Highlands Sasha.

For those new to the story, here’s a quick recap of how her AKC name came to be:

We chose Ozark for our locale and Highlands for her heritage; we’re actually in the Ozark Highlands, so it’s a double play on that last word. We included Summer because she has a warm, sunny spirit. And I wanted her call name included because she came to us with that, so including Sasha gave us a bridge between her past and present.

This sweet pup wakes up happy, every single day. She’s become a big fan of the post-breakfast ritual, when she enjoys a scavenger hunt for treats before wandering out to the garden with her best friend, Buddy The Wonder Cat.

Between trips to the park (with a brief bark-fest along the way, of course) and herding me through my own exercise sessions, Sasha has proven herself a champion at napping while I’m working in the office. Following dinner it’s more treats (dental chews, actually, but don’t tell her that) and then it’s time for evening patrol of the yard. This past week, she’s discovered lightning bugs and has us laughing at her excitement as she leaps and jumps in pursuit.

Here’s to another year of laughter and love with our sweet Sheltie!

Westminster Dog Show, Summer Style

Image of dog in agility competition

Meet Chet, a Berger Picard. AP Photo © John Minchillo

The pandemic has turned much of the world upside down, including many dog-related activities and special events. Of these, the Westminster Kennel Club dog show may be one of the best known. Typically held in February in Madison Square Garden with all the glitter and glamour you’d expect of a 145-year-old tradition, expect this year’s event to be different. Read on to learn more about the show that’s happening this weekend.

Quoting from the AP Wire Services:

The show was rescheduled from its usual February dates and isn’t allowing in-person spectators. Human participants must be vaccinated or newly tested. Dogs will compete as usual on green carpet for televised parts of the competition, but some other rounds will happen on an even more traditional green carpet — the lawn at the Lyndhurst estate in Tarrytown, New York….

Some off-the-beaten-path breeds are in the hunt for the big prize this year. Dog cognoscenti are keeping an eye on high-ranking hopefuls including a lagotto Romagnolo — an Italian truffle-hunting breed that first appeared at Westminster only five years ago — and a Dandie Dinmont terrier, the 15th-rarest U.S. breed, by the American Kennel Club’s count. The Dandie, named for a character in Sir Walter Scott’s 1815 novel “Guy Mannering,” is considered to be at risk of disappearing even in its homeland, the United Kingdom.

The show also is due to feature four breeds that are eligible to compete for the first time — the barbet, the dogo Argentinothe Belgian Laekenois, and the Biewer terrier.

Read the rest of the AP story online.

Want to know what’s happening and when to see events? Find a complete listing of “how to watch” events here. And to learn more about the legendary Westminster Kennel Club, visit their website!

Oh, and if you’re wondering what “dog cognoscenti” means: Merriam Webster defines this as “the people who know a lot about something.” As it’s used in the AP article, it’s all about dogs!

Get Ready and Go!

Photo from AKC

Hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, floods– there’s always a chance natural disasters will hit where you or your loved ones live. It’s a good idea to tune the NOAA Weather Radio to your local emergency station to hear the latest reports of weather in your area. And if you’re watching weather conditions where friends and family live, the FEMA app allows you to track National Weather Service reports from five different locations anywhere in the US.

Have a plan! This Pet Disaster Kit Checklist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (commonly known as the CDC) is one of the best I’ve seen; print copies and keep it with the essential documents you’ll take with you.

The American Kennel Club publishes expert advice and information regarding pet safety in the event you have to flee your home. Your dog’s go-bag should include items such as:

  • bottled drinking water (during an emergency, tap water can be contaminated)
  • food in waterproof containers or cans. (Choose pop-top tins or pack a can opener.) Bring enough for at least two weeks
  • food and water bowls.
  • prescription medications and other required health supplies
  • dog first aid kit
  • poop bags and other clean-up supplies
  • familiar items like toys, bedding, and blankets to comfort your dog.
  • stress-relieving items like an anxiety vest or calming sprays if your dog is prone to anxiety

Build your own “Go” bag.  Use a backpack or small tote to stash extra kibble, leashes, collars, and basic first-aid supplies. Tag everything with your name, address, phone number, and/or email. Collapsible bowls are a great addition and don’t take much space. Put paperwork in sealed plastic bags, and make sure to include your name, address, and phone number!

If you’re traveling by vehicle, add extra jugs of water, towels, tarps, ropes, and bungees. Duct tape and small hand tools can be easily stored beneath a seat. If you have to evacuate on foot, roll up the tarp and fasten it to your backpack with those ropes or bungees.  If you are stranded on the side of the road or have to camp outdoors, you’ll be able to rig up a basic shelter.

For more resources and information about pet-focused disaster planning, check out AKC’s emergency evacuation plan. And take time to review their suggestions for what to include in your first-aid kit for pets.

Identification: Microchips are one smart way to ID your pets. My Sasha and Buddy The Wonder Cat are both microchipped and registered with AKC Reunite. Make sure you complete your registration and keep your contact info current.

Take photos now of your pets. Photograph them standing, left and right profiles, and face-on head shots. Take additional photos showing you with your pets. If you can tag or add metadata to each photo, that’s even better. (To learn how, click here.) Save copies to Dropbox and/or email them to yourself and others. That way, if you lose your phone or computer, you can easily retrieve them.

Check out these helpful resources:

Emergency Preparedness: The Essential Guide for Dog Owners

Create a “bug out bag” for your cat

Pets in Evacuation Centers

How to Pack an Emergency Go-Bag for Pets

Favorite blankets and toys make a portable crate comfortable. Sasha routinely naps in hers!

Communicate! Let family, friends, and co-workers know your plans. Social media can be a great tool to help you stay in contact. And have a back-up plan, to include alternate routes and destinations. And remember: cell towers and Internet providers may be impacted by disasters, so share that info ahead of time.

From the AKC:

Remember that you might not be home when disaster strikes. Plan for being away from your pets and/or being unable to get to them. Consider making arrangements with someone who can get to your dog when you can’t like a neighbor, dog walkerpet sitter, or local doggy daycare. And place a rescue alert sticker at your front door to let people know there are pets inside your house. Be sure it includes the types and number of pets you own as well as your veterinarian’s phone number. If you are able to take your pets with you during an evacuation, please write “Evacuated” across the sticker if time allows so rescue workers don’t waste precious time at your home.

***

Wherever you are, I hope you’ll take time today to review your own disaster preparation plans. Safety first!

When Your Work-from-Home Colleague is a Dog

Photo credit: Mirjana Zidar/Shutterstock

As this pandemic drags on, many of us still fortunate to be employed are working from home and doing our best to juggle the chaos that can result when mixing professional obligations with life at home.  Add in a dog that wants to be a part of everything you do and this is what you get:

Or this:

And then there’s the one who insists on a front row seat:

Or maybe your dog prefers to get your attention by barking. If you’re using online meeting venues, that can be downright disruptive–especially if you’re online with your boss or a colleague who might not appreciate your pup’s “contributions” to the conversation.

My dog Sasha had a habit of barking whenever I was listening to recorded presentations or whenever she heard strangers’ voices during a Zoom or Microsoft Teams session. At first I tried shutting the doors separating my home office from the rest of the house, but that didn’t solve the problem. Eventually, I realized I needed to give Sasha more physical and mental stimulation. When I focused on giving her the attention she deserves, the result was a happy, quiet dog who now naps while I’m in online meetings. If this sounds like something you might need, read on for some simple ideas to help you and your dog.

Exercise. This is good for both of you! If you can go outside, walk briskly through the neighborhood. Have an enclosed yard or other area in which you can safely take your dog off-leash? Toss a ball or Frisbee–even a stick–to get your pup running. Sasha won’t chase after a ball (although she’ll watch Buddy The Wonder Cat chase after anything we throw). Challenge your dog to a “race”across the backyard, and reward with praise and a low-calorie treat. The 10-15 minutes spent exercising will make you both happy!

Indoors, use the stairs or a treadmill if available. You can also create your own obstacle course using chairs, tables, and anything that requires you to navigate your way around objects. Put on some lively music and with your dog on-leash, weave your way around the “course” you’ve created. Vary the route and pace. You might be surprised by the energy you expend with such simple activities.

One fun way to exercise body and mind is to practice Rally Obedience activities. This is a team sport that’s fun for people–and dogs!–of all ages. With kids at home right now, this could be a great way to help them focus while bonding with the family dog. To learn more, check out  https://www.akc.org/sports/rally/.

Training time.  I’ve adapted the format common in “learn a new language” CDs. I start with a two-minute refresher of the basics (sit, stay, etc.) and then focus our energies on something new and fun. We’ll toss a stuffed squeaky toy across the room; once Sasha pounces on it we encourage her to “Bring it!” and sweeten the deal with a bit of cheese or some other special savory treat. She’s good for a half-dozen rounds before she signals “that’s enough!” with a short bark. Since each round involves a lot of running back and forth, she’s getting plenty of exercise and earning those treats!

Whatever you choose to do, mix and match activities and vary the complexity of tasks, and train in short bursts of time. Ten minutes of fun can be a terrific stress-buster!

Search-and-Find games. Put your dog in a sit/stay or down/stay. Make sure they can’t see you as you hide treats around the house, and then release them with “Find it!” (Get the kids involved and you can get work done while they’re all busy.)

Looking for something different? Hold off on the dog’s breakfast and instead let them “forage” for their meal. Use a snuffle mat to hide some/all of their morning kibble and watch them work for their meal. If you’re a crafty sort, see this site to learn how you can make a snuffle mat.  If you’d rather buy one ready-made, check out these recommendations from PetGuide and Amazon.

If you prefer something simpler, grab an old (washable) blanket and fold it multiple times to create layers in which to hide kibble or treats. Bits of cheese or hot dog work, too!

Puzzle toys are another great resource when you want your dog’s attention focused away from you and your keyboard. Kong toys stuffed with peanut butter seem to be perennial favorites, and they’re a quiet source of fun. The Dog People have a list of popular toys, and you can find more at Chewy.com or your favorite pet shop.

Need more ideas to keep your dog’s attention away from your keyboard? Check out the AKC’s Trick Dog program. Sasha earned her novice certificate after just one day’s focused training session. Give it a try–it’s fun for people and pets alike!

A closing thought: we’re living in stressful times. Take care of yourself and those you love!

“Life’s short. Let’s play!” Photo ©S. A. Holmes