4 fluffy small dogs on leashes get a walk

National Walk Your Dog Week

-by Jane Langlois

October 1st through 7th is National Walk Your Dog Week.  Colleen Paige, Celebrity Pet Lifestyle Expert and Animal Behaviorist, created this event in 2010 to help promote the health of both people and their dogs.  Some pet parents make the mistake of assuming that if a dog has access to a yard, he or she is getting plenty of exercise. But your dog doesn’t run laps by himself in your yard, or do much of anything besides waiting for you to come outside or let him back in. It’s the interaction with you that counts!  Walking your pooch for just 30 minutes each day improves you and your pup’s cardiovascular health and increases endorphins. Not only will walking your pooch keep both of you physically fit, but it also wards off high cholesterol and high blood pressure. At the end of the walk, you and your pooch will feel healthy, refreshed, and confidant.


There is a huge side benefit to walking daily with your pup.  It’s a great way to help him or her get rid of excess energy and reduce anxiety.  In the old days, dogs had a job and worked alongside their people.  They were bred for a particular purpose, like hunting, herding livestock or providing protection.  Today, our dogs no longer have to earn their keep, and, instead, have to adjust to our more sedentary lifestyles. They get their food poured in a bowl and are often confined, alone and inactive, most of the day. This lack of purpose leaves dogs no outlet for their naturally active tendencies, physical and mental, and it contributes to the development of behavior problems.  Studies have shown that many dogs in shelters and on the streets are there mainly due to a lack of exercise, which resulted in serious behavior issues such as aggression, destruction, and separation anxiety issues.  Dogs can be like young children. If you don’t give them something constructive to do with their energy, they’ll find something to do on their own, and you may not like it!

Going on a walk with your dog will give you a chance to sneak in some useful training lessons.  Walking together will strengthen your bond, leading to a strong, trusting relationship.  Your pup will be easier to manage and you’ll both feel more at ease with each other.  While you’re on your walk, your dog will become familiar with all the sights and sounds of the neighborhood by meeting people, dogs, and other creatures. Switch up your walking route every once in a while so your pooch can have different encounters leading to less nervousness in the future. Doggie parents love talking to other doggie parents, so walking your canine gives you an opportunity to meet new people too! Plus, your neighbors or new friends will be more likely to recognize your four-legged friend in case he or she ever gets lost.

October is a beautiful time of year to get outside and enjoy the weather.  So take the challenge this week and walk your dog for 7 days.  When you do something every day, you begin to build it into your schedule as a priority.  It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that something as simple as a walk, can bring so much happiness to your four-legged friend and so many health benefits to you both!

dog getting a massage

What Should I Know about Acupuncture and Rehabilitative Care?

Last week, Hollywood Feed employees had the chance to learn about acupuncture and rehabilitative therapy from Dr. Kathy Mitchener, who is with the new facility Angel Care. Angel Care provides holistic and natural healing for pets and they are located at 1017 Oakhaven, Memphis, TN 38119. The phone number is 901-385-9172. They have some exciting treatments to check out!

Acupuncture

A wonderful service that Angel Care offers is acupuncture! Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years. This is not some new trend that started recently. Part of the mystery surrounding acupuncture and it’s effectiveness is that it comes from ancient China, and when Western doctors are exposed to treatments they don’t understand, they tend to dismiss them despite the supporting evidence.

How It Works

The way acupuncture works is that a pin (or multiple pins) is stuck into a specific part of your body to stimulate specific nerves. The nerves receive this stimulation, and go running to the spinal cord with this message, and then the spinal cord carries the message to the brain. The brain then analyzes what is happening and sends a signal back out telling the body to decrease pain in the areas in question. This is called neuromodulation.

Neuromodulation is a way to modulate pain, but not a cure for the disease causing the pain. Acupuncture works in a way similar to aspirin, which helps to lessen pain as well. The main difference is that aspirin can have side effects while acupuncture has none. Acupuncture, in combination with exercise and diet changes for your pet, can be really great for maintenance of pain and extending your pet’s quality of life without lots of medications and their side effects. There are no medical risks involved with acupuncture if it is used hygienically, but it may help stimulate labor, so you may not want to use it on a pregnant dog or cat (or human!!).

Acupuncture Can Be Used to Treat

  • Allergies
  • Anxiety/aggression (if caused by underlying pain issue)
  • Arthritis
  • Compensatory pain
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Hot spots/other self trauma
  • Immune system failure
  • Intestinal issues
  • Nerve paralysis
  • Nervous system pain
  • Organ failure
  • Pain from ANY other cause
  • Seizures
  • Sleeplessness
  • Stroke
  • Weakness
  • Many other problems

Dr. Mitchener said that about 15% of dogs don’t respond to acupuncture in the first few sessions, but given more time there is a chance they will be responsive. She has also been able to use acupuncture on cats with long, soothing sessions to calm down the cat’s nerves!

Rehab Services

Another service offered by Dr. Mitchener at Angel Care is rehabilitation. Rehab can be used alone or in combination with other treatments to help dogs lose weight, to help train agility dogs, and to help with difficulty walking and running. Some of the physical rehabilitation services offered include manual therapy, stretching, movement, balance, conditioning, and core strength. Dogs get to “play” with wobbly toys and blow up toys and work through obstacle courses to help with their rehab. Dr. Mitchener and her team use positive reinforcement through treats and praise to get your dog to do the hard work!

An exciting part of the rehabilitation services offered is Angel Care’s underwater treadmill! Dogs have a lot of fun using this, and the water helps to take the dog’s weight off of his joints so he can move around much more easily and start to use body parts that he has not been working as much due to pain. And dogs really seem to love it!!

Underwater Treadmills Can Help With

  • Arthritis
  • Conditioning
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Paralysis
  • Strengthening
  • Surgical recovery

Other Services Available

  • Laser therapy
  • Massage
  • Herbal and nutritional treatment

Another great feature of Angel Care is that the clinic offers a calm and quiet space in which they will treat your pet. Dr. Mitchener said that their appointments take longer than at other facilities, simply because they want to try to make the dog feel comfortable in his surroundings before jumping right in with treatment. Most sessions also take place right down on the ground where your dog is most at ease.

vet looks in dogs ear

Deaf Dog Awareness Week 2014

The last full week of September is Deaf Dog Awareness Week. This year the dates are September 21st-27th. I thought that this would be a good time to write about the benefits of owning a deaf dog, and some things to be aware of if you think your dog may be having hearing issues.

First of all, deaf dogs make great pets! Don’t be fooled by all of the hype…they are not necessarily more aggressive than any other dog. They may startle more easily because they don’t hear you coming. There are techniques you can use to prevent startle biting, which I will address later in this blog. A great website I found while doing research for this article is: www.deafdogsrock.com. This is a website that has a lot of information posted by a family that owns multiple deaf dogs, and plans to only own deaf dogs from now on, because they are such wonderful companions.

Benefits of Loving a Deaf Dog:

  • pay more attention to their people/stay by your side
  • can follow visual commands from great distances without yelling
  • stronger bond/partnership with their person
  • sleep really well and don’t bark at every little noise

Causes, Warning Signs and Prevention

There can be many possible causes of deafness in your dog. Your dog may be hearing well until something causes him to become deaf. Your dog could get an ear infection, have an ear injury, have loud noise exposure, or take certain medications that may cause him to go deaf. There could even be temporary deafness caused by wax build-up in the ear, or by other foreign bodies making their way inside the ear canal. Your dog may also simply grow deaf with old age, as people do.

Many times a dog can be born with a genetic defect that can cause her to be born deaf or become deaf very early in life. The most common cause is pigment related. Everyone has heard about white dogs with blue eyes being prone to deafness. The real story is that if a dog has unpigmented skin (which is pink and produces white hair) in the inner ear, then the nerve endings can atrophy and die off in the first few weeks of life. You would not be able to see the color of the hair in your dog’s inner ear by looking inside with a light, but that same dog will probably have unpigmented skin on its body in other places.

Some warning signs to keep a look out for, to help you determine if your dog may be starting to have hearing problems are:

  • change in obedience or personality
  • prolonged barking
  • painful, smelly ears, or discharge from the ears (signs of an infection)
  • not responding to commands, phrases or noises as normal (doorbells, sound of the leash)
  • sleeping through feedings

A puppy who is born deaf, or becomes deaf soon after birth may play too hard with his litter mates because he cannot hear their pain yelps which would normally cause a puppy to stop biting and try something different.

Not all causes of deafness can be prevented, of course, but there are some things you can do:

  • be aware of your dog shaking his head or scratching at his ears, as this can be a sign of infection
  • clean your dog’s ears if he is prone to wax build-up
  • avoid exposure to repeated loud noises
  • research the side effects of medications that you give your dog, and only use medications if all other options have been exhausted

Tips for Caring for Your Deaf Dog

Caring for a deaf dog is not scary or as intimidating as people think! There may be a period of adjustment if a dog goes deaf later in life, because I’m sure this has to be as strange and scary for a dog as it is for humans! Also, a deaf dog with unpigmented skin may need sunscreen, especially on his nose. Choose a gentle brand for babies or people with sensitive skin, without dyes or scents.

Deaf dogs are not more aggressive than hearing dogs, especially if given proper training. They just need to learn a different way to communicate with and understand their human. Some things that can be very helpful when working with a deaf dog are:

  • train with hand signals instead of verbal commands
  • use of vibration to get your dog’s attention (stomping near them to wake them up instead of touching them, which may startle them)
  • opening a yummy, smelly bag of treats can also wake your dog easily
  • fenced in yard or leashed walking is a must, since your deaf dog won’t be able to hear traffic
  • attach a bell to his collar, so you can find him when he does not hear you calling his name
  • add a tag to her collar that says your dog is deaf, so if your dog is lost the person who finds her knows this information

Having a hearing buddy for your deaf dog can be a really big help with training and teaching proper behavior! A deaf dog can look to a hearing dog for social cues. A hearing dog can also be a great companion for your deaf dog when you have to leave the house, as deaf dogs can be more prone to separation anxiety. Another way to help with separation anxiety is to let your dog know when you are leaving the house-don’t leave while she is sleeping or she may be confused when she wakes up and you aren’t home. You can also train your hearing dog to wake your deaf dog for you!


Deaf dogs may sometimes get a bad reputation, but all they need is time, training, attention and love just like any other dog. They can be wonderful, loving companions and just want to run, play and nap with their person nearby. They are also more difficult to adopt out due to people’s prejudices, or may be euthanized by a breeder or vet who does not understand deafness. Consider adopting a deaf dog, and make sure you find a veterinarian that supports your decision and understands that being deaf is only a small obstacle that is easily overcome in your dog’s life!

Sources: Deaf Dog Education Action Fund www.deafdogs.orgwww.deafdogsrock.comwww.spca.org

family cuddles small dog

Holistic Pet Day

-by Jane Langlois

People put a lot of emphasis lately on eating organic, taking care of our bodies and being healthy.  Did you know there’s a day dedicated to doing that for our pets, too?  Saturday, August 30th is Holistic Pet Day. Holistic is the term for treating the entire being, not just the parts. Holistic is treating the mind, body and spirit with a healthy living style that incorporates nutrition, exercise, and body care into our daily lives.  The goal of this special day is to highlight the importance of “whole pet health” instead of singular systems or problems. Holistic Pet Day is a chance to help improve our pets’ quality of life by strengthening each of the following:

 

Diet – Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of holistic pet care. A diet of natural and organic food has numerous health benefits such as boosting our pets’ immune systems, which is an easy way to prevent diseases and other health problems. Our pets’ digestive systems aren’t meant to deal with many of the preservatives and chemicals found in cheap pet food. Good quality, natural pet food also helps our pets fight allergies, intestinal problems, obesity, diabetes and other food-related diseases.  High quality natural nutrition will not “fix” everything, but it is a critical part of a holistic approach to pet health care and often has a profound positive effect on the way a pet feels. If your pet is suffering from a chronic ailment, speak to your veterinarian about this approach to nutrition as one treatment option.  While pets do experience very real diseases that require conventional medicine, the course of many chronic diseases can be changed by excellent natural nutritional choices.

Water – This is the most important nutrient for long, healthy life. Our pets need plenty of fresh water that isn’t potentially contaminated with fluoride, chlorine and other chemicals. We can help to keep our pets’ water safe by using filtered water, never reusing plastic water bottles to fill their water bowls, and using stainless steel bowls instead of plastic.

Exercise – The same way that our bodies need regular exercise, so do our pets’ bodies. Our pets thrive in the fresh air, sunshine, and being able to run freely. Frequent walks and exercise can help to keep our pets physically fit, aid weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, decrease diabetes risk, lessen the risk of heart disease, help with anxiety and help fight certain cancers. Exercise also helps dogs behave, too.  You know the saying,  “a tired dog is a good dog”.


Mental Stimulation – While keeping our pets physically active is important, so is keeping them mentally stimulated. There are all sorts of different and fun ways to get our pets’ brain cells firing. Some dog toys are specifically designed to challenge a dog to solve a puzzle for a treat. Hide treats in different areas of your home and have your dog or cat search them out using its sense of smell. Try taking an alternative route when going for a walk. Your dog will love the new smells, sounds and sights!

The overall goal of Holistic Pet Day is to help improve your pet’s quality of life. It’s a wonderful opportunity to keep your dog or cat happy and healthy in all aspects of its life. Remember to follow the tips you learned on Holistic Pet Day everyday for a long-lasting and happy relationship with your pet.

 

puppy looks at red apple

An Apple a Day Keeps the Veterinarian Away

Dogs can enjoy a tasty, crunchy apple while reaping some of the same health benefits as you!

While an apple a day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your dog to the vet for regular checkups, it does mean your dog can enjoy a healthy apple with you daily while reaping similar health benefits. Apples are full of phytonutrients that are believed to be protective against some types of cancer. The juicy fruit is also full of Vitamin A & C and dietary fiber, while being a good source of calcium and phosphorus. And for healthy skin and a shiny coat, they’re full of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Not every part of the apple is beneficial to your dog’s health. The core, seeds, and stem can actually make a dog sick. The seeds and stem contain traces of cyanide that won’t hurt your dog in small amounts but fed over time could cause serious health issues. The core isn’t a healthy part of the apple, either. So take a little bit of time to prepare your furry companion a special treat by slicing up an apple, and removing the seeds, stem, and core before giving it to him.

Remember, too much of any good thing can turn into a bad thing. If your dog isn’t used to getting this delicious treat, start by giving him just a slice or two and working up to an entire apple over time. If your dog eats too many apples they may experience some diarrhea and stomach discomfort. Certain other instances, such as a dog with kidney disease whose calcium and phosphorus should be monitored, and arthritic dogs that need omega-6 levels monitored, shouldn’t be fed apples.

pit bull gets kissed by woman

Pit Bull Awareness

National Pit Bull Awareness Day and Month were both started by Jodi Preis of Bless the Bullys, a pit bull rescue and education group, from Middle Tennessee.

National Pit Bull Awareness Day and Month are an opportunity to educate the community and change the misconceptions people may have of pit bulls being aggressive. It is a time to talk about responsible dog ownership. It is also meant to help restore the image of the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Pit bulls often get a bad rap in the media and in movies. The most important thing that we can do as pit bull owners and dog lovers is to work hard to change people’s perceptions about pit bulls-and this is the month to do it! The best way to do this is really the best way to dispel any form of discrimination. Speak up when you hear someone making a generalized statement! Don’t let your friends and family members perpetuate these myths! Inform them of the truth and your personal experiences with pit bulls.

In a study that was published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, factors that contributed to the aggression of dogs were studied.

Here is an excerpt from that study:

“Based on an analysis of all DBRFs (dog bite related fatalities) known to have occurred over a ten-year period, the researchers identified a striking co-occurrence of multiple, controllable factors:

  • no able-bodied person being present to intervene (87.1%);
  • the victim having no familiar relationship with the dog(s) (85.2%);
  • the dog(s) owner failing to neuter/spay the dog(s)(84.4%);
  • a victim’s compromised ability, whether based on age or physical condition, to manage their interactions with the dog(s) (77.4%);
  • the owner keeping dog(s) as resident dog(s), rather than as family pet(s) (76.2%);
  • the owner’s prior mismanagement of the dog(s) (37.5%);
  • the owner’s abuse or neglect of dog(s) (21.1%).

Four or more of these factors were present in 80.5% of the cases.”

It is important to understand what a “residence” dog is vs. a family pet. A residence dog simply lives on the family’s property and does not have much interaction with the family, and is usually chained outside a home. They are not socialized to humans or other dogs and have not been trained. The family pet, however, has been trained, socialized and loved by their family. These dogs usually live indoors. Family dogs have rarely been involved in fatal attacks. Breed of the dog DID NOT contribute to the likelihood of a dog to attack! In fact, very few people can actually identify a pit bull without confusing them with a boxer or mastiff!

So, the bad reputation pit bulls have has been unearned, and we should spread around some positive stories about pit bulls!

paw on fence

Why Should I Adopt a Shelter Dog?

All three of my dogs, Skeeter, Annie and Fitzgerald have come from Collierville Animal Services in Collierville, TN and I couldn’t be happier with my sweet puppies.

You may have heard or seen people using the phrase, “Adopt, Don’t Shop”. This is something in which I firmly believe. Each time I went looking for a dog, I went to the animal shelter without a specific breed in mind. I knew I wanted a large breed dog, and that’s it! I have had fantastic success and my dogs have given me so much love and comfort over the past ten years.

 

“There are 3 to 4 million dogs living in shelters nationwide who would make a fantastic addition to anybody’s family, all they need is a second chance. During Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, the ASPCA encourages everyone to visit their local shelter, adopt one of these amazing animals or help us spread the word to potential pet owners to make pet adoption their first option.”

-Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of the ASPCA Adoption Center

I do realize that some people are looking for a specific breed and may feel like they need to go to a breeder or pet store and pay a high price. This is not the case! There are breed specific rescue groups out there where you can find a Labrador Retriever, a Yorkie, a Dachshund, or pretty much whatever kind of dog you are looking for! Also, it is better for your budget to adopt, and it will make you feel so much better about your choice. There are studies that show people are more satisfied when they have adopted their pet vs. purchasing a pet.

 

There are breeders out there who take great care of their dogs and are reputable, but those breeders will charge you a very high fee. There are other “puppy mill” breeders just in it to make a quick buck, and may charge less, but I would encourage you not to buy from these people as they do not take care of their animals and you are helping to perpetuate inhumane conditions. You may also quite possibly end up with a sick or skittish dog due to the conditions in which he was kept. I suggest for you to instead help a dog in a local shelter or rescue group have a wonderful quality of life by adopting!

Learn more about the ASPCA’s No Pet Store Puppies campaign here.