Lyme Disease and your Dog

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Lyme disease is transmitted from ticks to your dog (and potentially you) through a bite from an infected bug. Ticks are a common occurrence in Manitoba, and can be picked up by your dog almost anywhere! Last year there were 577 diagnosed cases of Lyme disease in Winnipeg dogs. Ticks are unable to fly or jump, so they lay in wait on long blades of grass (almost like a silent ninja!) for your dog to rub up against and then attach themselves to the host. It is very important to make sure you check your dog thoroughly after they have been outside in long grass for any ticks that may have latched on. Ticks enjoy hanging out in certain “hot spots” on your dog, such as right inside their ears, in their armpit area and on their chests.

Tick Removal

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When removing a tick from your dog, make sure that you have a couple of things handy and ready to go beforehand: tweezers and a container filled with alcohol or peroxide to put the ticks in. Grasp the tick close to the skin with tweezers and pull slowly upward with steady pressure. Try to avoid twisting or crushing the tick and make sure that you don’t accidentally leave the head still attached to your dog. After the tick has been removed, cleanse the skin around the tick bite with soap/water or disinfectant. If the bite starts to scab over and your dog is uncomfortable, you can break open a Vitamin E tablet (purchased at any pharmacy or health store) and rub the liquid on the wound site.

Signs and Symptoms

Many pet owners will take to the internet to do research regarding Lyme disease in dogs, but won’t find a lot of literature that doesn’t focus on what the disease does in humans. The symptoms in dogs are quite different. For example, it is rare that a dog will develop the heart and neurological issues that Lyme disease causes for humans. Common symptoms include joint pain and fever, which won’t normally present until 2-5 months after the initial bite. Dogs with Lyme disease will sometimes exhibit lameness. Their joints may swell, causing tenderness and limping. Sometimes it is constant, sometimes it will go away and come back.

Other symptoms a dog may have the disease are swollen lymph nodes, walking stiff with an arched back, lethargy, being sensitive to touch, having difficulty breathing, and depression. Lyme-positive dogs can also develop kidney issues in the later stages of infection.

While many dogs live with this disease undetected, it is best to take your dog to the vet if you think they may be infected. Your vet will start your dog on a course of antibiotics to clear the disease from his body.

Prevention

Tick control is essential to the prevention of Lyme disease. Try to limit the amount of time your dog spends in tall grasses during the months of April-November (tick season) and check them regularly when they come inside from a walk. D.R.E.A.M. also recommends spraying your dog with an Eco-Friendly preventative spray such as our Rosemary-Lemon mix to help ward off uninvited visitors.

Your vet can recommend various preventative measures, such as sprays, collars and topical products for repelling and killing ticks. You must be careful when using such products if you have cats as they may be deadly to them. Vaccines are also available, although they are controversial due to a high number of side effects. In any case, a vet should be consulted for recommendation of an appropriate method and product.

D.R.E.A.M. can’t stress enough that prevention is the key to keeping your dog safe from Lyme Disease. A simple check of your dog before coming in from a romp in the park is a simple and effective way to search out ticks and remove them quickly before they cause any additional issues!

DREAM in the City: Dr. Bhupinder Singh, Henderson Group Vet Clinics

Dr. Bhupinder (Tony) Singh of Henderson Group Vet Clinics will be joining DREAM in the City both as a vendor and as a keynote speaker. Dr. Singh will be taking questions from the audience to make the most of your time! Are you curious why your pet requires heartworm prevention every year? Or what tick borne diseases your pet might be susceptible to? Bring your questions on Saturday for a free opportunity for vetting advice!

Since April 2000, Dr. Singh has worked mostly out of Henderson Animal Hospital. He is a part of six veterinary clinics called “Henderson Group” who offer top of the line veterinary services to pet owners across Winnipeg. Henderson, Alpine, Sage Creek, Southglen, Fort Garry and Stonewall Animal Hospitals provide professional and loving health care to all their clients. With six clinics across Winnipeg and one in Stonewall MB, Henderson Group has a clinic you can trust and count on.

ImageDr. Singh grew up on a farm in a village in Northern India, where he was exposed to a variety of animals such as cows, buffaloes, sheep goats, dogs, cats and more. He worked for three years in a mixed animal practice doing preventative and therapeutic medicine.

Dr. Singh’s love for animals also includes his 13 year old cat, Annie. Outside veterinary medicine, he enjoys traveling, meeting people around the globe and is keen on religious studies.

We are thrilled to offer this Q&A session with Dr. Tony SIngh. What a great opportunity to ask your pet’s health care questions and learn more about the importance of basic pet care!

Visit DREAM in the City: Manitoba Canine Expo on Saturday, June 22nd from 11:00am to 4:00pm, located at Four Points Sheraton South (2935 Pembina Hwy), where Dr. Singh will be among five keynote speakers, including Neil Sedlacek and Asmara Polcyn! More information at www.dreamrescue.ca.

The Puppy Mill Problem

The goal of a puppy mill is to produce as many puppies as possible in order to make money. Dogs are kept in small cages they don’t leave until they are no longer able to reproduce and then are euthanized. They and their puppies go without human interaction or medical attention in small over-crowded cages.

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Why should you care? 

Other than the fact that it’s inhumane, the puppies that come out of puppy mills are not properly socialized and often have health problems.

Often by 5 weeks a puppy’s behaviours and tendencies have been set. If they spend this time in over-crowded, filthy cages they may grow up to be fearful, anxious, and aggressive. Even if this pup gets a good, safe home it will carry these tendencies through it’s entire life.

Dogs in puppy mills are not given medical care and are used to breed until it is no longer possible, even if they are ill. Sick dogs will produce sick puppies. Even puppies born to healthy parents may end up ill from the poor, cramped conditions. The illnesses will not always be apparent immediately and you could end up with pricey vet bills even a year later.

What can I do?

Don’t support puppy mills!

Some puppy mills create websites where they claim to be small scale professional breeders. They post photos making it seem like a small family operation where the dogs are cared for. To avoid falling for this trap, don’t purchase a dog from anyone unless you can go right to their facilities and check it out. Some professional breeders don’t take care of their dogs properly either, so even when you know it’s not a puppy mill it’s a good idea to check out living conditions of any dog you’re thinking of purchasing.

Don’t always trust pet stores when they say their dogs are not from puppy mills. Some pet stores claim that their dogs are from breeders, but according to the Humane Society of the United States 99 per cent of dogs in pet stores are from puppy mills.

Consider adopting a dog instead. Approach a dog rescue organization and let them know what type of puppy you are looking for. Maybe a puppy isn’t right for you and you need an adult dog who’s a little lower on energy? Maybe you need a pup high in energy to help keep you active? Perhaps a small dog the children can walk would be better for you? If you want a specific breed look for a rescue that deals with that specific breed. Rescues can work with you to help you find the dog that will be perfect for your home and family.

Puppy Mills

Curb a Barking Habit

Do you dread people coming over and ringing your doorbell? Does your dog seem to bark uncontrollably? It takes a lot of patience and consistency, but stopping barking IS trainable!

Why do dogs bark?

Dogs don’t speak human; instead they bark as a means to communicate with us. Your dog might be barking for a variety of reasons: warning or alert, anxiety, excitement or play, attention-seeking or even boredom. Take the time to listen to how and when your dog barks to better understand why it’s barking.

Training your dog

Now that you understand why your dog is barking, you can work to control the behaviour. Here are some helpful tips to improve your dog’s barking habit:

  • Make sure your dog is regularly exercised – take it for walks, play together with toys or train it a new trick.

  • Do not give your dog attention (positive or negative) for their barking. Positive attention would be petting or comforting the dog; negative attention would be scolding the dog. Any form of attention encourages the behaviour.

  • Use the “be a tree” method to wait out your dog’s barking – turn your back and look away from the dog. When the dog stops barking, you can then calmly acknowledge it. If the dog starts to bark again, return to the tree position.

  • Use the redirect method to change your dog’s focus – call them away from the source of their barking and refocus their attention on something else, like a toy or a trick. When they stop barking be sure to give them lots of praise!

  • Practice makes perfect! Work on the tree and redirect methods with your dog on leash. Get a friend or family member to help with ringing the doorbell or any other actions that cause your dog to bark.

There’s a lot of information about curbing excessive barking online. For further information, consider speaking with a behaviouralist or attending an obedience class.

Heartworm

Heartworm is spread to cats and dogs by mosquitoes. The larva travels to the animal’s lungs then heart where they grow to be up 15 to 30 cm in length. They can produce and release thousands of larva into the blood stream where mosquitoes can pick them back up to spread to other animals.

The worms can cause serious damage to internal organs, including swelling of the heart, and can be fatal. Dogs who are infested with many worms may have worms in the large vein between their heart and liver, which will result in death in two to three days if they are not surgically removed.

There are no symptoms of heartworm during early infection, but as it progresses the dog will develop a cough and laboured breathing, and may not be interested in exercise. Abnormal lung and heart sounds will also become apparent and the dog may faint from poor blood flow to their brain.

Dogs showing symptoms of heartworm, even if they’ve been given preventative medication, should be taken to the vet for diagnostic testing immediately as symptoms do not show up until awhile after the worms have gotten into the dog. When caught in time, heartworm can be killed with two waves of medications, the first to kill the adult worms and the second to kill the larva in the bloodstream.

While receiving medication to kill heartworm, it is very important that dogs do not exercise. This can be very difficult for some dogs, such as Naomi.

Naomi is only a year old and has already had a litter of puppies. Manitoba Mutts picked her and two of her puppies up from Scanterbury and brought them to Winnipeg April 7. Naomi was sent to live with a foster family while getting heartworm treatment and waiting for adoption.

She loved to run and play with the 1 1/2 year old girl and the small dog in her first foster family. Because of this she had to be moved to a quieter home even though the family was sad to see her go.

She is very smart and learned “sit” and “up”, which makes it easier for her new foster mom can get her to be still to get her leash on and pick her up to carry her down the apartment building stairs so she doesn’t get too much activity. Even though she only goes for short walks around the building she already knows not to pull too hard on the leash and politely visits with other dogs even when they growl and bark at her.

Imagine all the things she could do and learn though if she had never gotten heartworms and was allowed to run at the park with other pups. Instead of whimpering in her kennel while her foster mom goes for runs she could be joining. Instead of chewing through her leash and on the coffee table out of boredom from having her toys taken away she would be outside in the sun learning to fetch.

What’s so unfortunate about this is that heartworm is so easily prevented by a pill or applying a solution to their skin. There are daily, monthly, and six month options. With mosquito season on the way, talk to your vet today about how to best prevent heartworms in your pup.

Trainer Tuesday: Calm Greetings, Jumping, Introducing Dog & Baby

Every Tuesday we will be working with our good friend, certified dog trainer Lisa from The Noble Hound, Dog Training and Obedience to answer your dog training questions. If you have a question about your pooch, whether it be leash manners, house training, getting along with other animals or anything in between, email us at info@dreamrescue.ca and we will pick a few questions each week to answer.

Cheryl asked, “What’s the best way to get your dog to stay calm when meeting people? I have a very large dog who doesn’t mean any harm but as soon as anybody so much as walks by us, he jumps up eager to meet. This is especially a problem with kids because of his size.”

Hi Cheryl,
This is a common behaviour in those happy-go-lucky dogs who want to love everyone and everything! The first thing you want to teach your dog while on walks is to not get excited in the event that a person comes into view. Right now, your dog sees a person and probably gets excited way before the human even gets close. Before your dog has a chance to get overly excited, cross the street or move in a different direction while also offering a food reward. This will teach the dog to “cut off” his level of excitement at an appropriate level. Over time, you will notice that your dog’s excitability level will lessen and you will actually be able to get closer and closer to humans on your walks without that immediate excited reaction that your dog is currently displaying. Once your dog is a bit more calm on walks have him sit and stay each time a person passes and reward him for waiting patiently. When you’re confident that your dog can control himself around humans, you can ask him to sit and stay while someone approaches him for a petting. If he bounces and jumps up, ask the person to walk away from the dog. Teach him that the only way he gets attention from humans is if all four feet stay on the ground.

Maria asked, “How can we stop our German Shepherd (1yr) from jumping on us? This mostly happens when she gets excited when we come home or sometimes when we are not paying attention to her….thank you!”

Hi Maria,
That’s a great question! The key is to provide absolutely no attention to a jumping dog. This includes: talking or yelling, eye contact or physical touch. Believe it or not, even yelling “NO” or “OFF” can be rewarding for an excited dog. Sometimes when a dog is extra excited they have a hard time deciphering between an angry human and a human who is having a good ol’ time. Plus, if you’re yelling at a dog, they know that they’re definitely getting your attention! The absolute worst thing you can do is push the dog down or away. This says to the dog “let’s play”. When dogs play they often do so with their front paws and in an exaggerated way (similar to the movements of a human pushing a dog down or away). So, when we start moving our arms in attempt to push a dog down, they think it means Let’s Play!

Your best bet is to turn your back to the dog and if he continues to jump up then walk away. If he follows you keep walking away and go into another room and shut the door for a few seconds. When you come back out make sure to reward the dog for any calm behaviours (with affection or treats); however if the dog persists and jumps up some more, go back into the room for a few more seconds and come back out again. Repeat over and over until the dog realizes that each time he jumps up, he loses a friend. Remember, you don’t need to say anything during this exercise (I wouldn’t even make eye contact with the dog). Less is better in this situation.

Bad habits are hard to break, so be patient and persistent. Your dog will soon learn that jumping up really doesn’t get him far in life. Oh…and make sure that all members of the household and any guests who visit follow these rules. Once the dog catches on and instead of jumping up, starts to offer things like sits and other calm behaviours you can reward with some affection and/or treats! The key is to reward the good and ignore the bad. Good luck!

Trista asked, “What is the best way to introduce our pooch to the new baby when he comes home?”

Hi Trista,
Bring a baby home for the first time is a very exciting and beautiful moment! However, our dogs sometimes don’t share our exact feelings when it comes to a new addition. Some dogs can become quiet stressed out while other dogs don’t seem to care about the new little person in the least bit. Dogs can also be fearful of infants and might bark or growl when the baby gets too close. In cases where the dog is having a hard time adjusting, it’s important for the family to contact a certified dog trainer or behaviorist.

Before the baby is even born, I suggest bringing out one baby item every few days or so for the dog to inspect and get used to. Things like swings and strollers that move, toys that make sounds and bigger items such as baby chairs and cribs can be scary for some dogs, so let the dog investigate these items slowly over time and reward for bravery! Expose your dog to the smaller items such as diapers, bottles, blankets and ¬soothers as well. You can use basic obedience such as drop, give and leave it to teach your dog that these items don’t belong in his mouth. The key is to help your dog build positive associations with the baby items in advance, so that your dog isn’t bombarded and overwhelmed with both a new baby and all of the things that come with.

You can even get your dog used to the sounds that babies make before you bring the baby home from the hospital. You can YouTube “baby sounds” and play them at a level that doesn’t cause your dog any stress. Reward the dog for remaining calm and each day increase the volume just slightly, while continuing to reward the dog for being calm. Over time this will help your dog associate baby sounds with good things (praise and food reward) and will help to desensitize your dog to the various sounds that your baby will be making.

Different dogs react differently towards babies. Regardless, you need to set boundaries for the dog once the baby is actually home. Allow the dog to come up to the baby only when he is calm and reward him with food and affection for doing so. Teach the dog to give you space when you’re nursing, feeding or tending to the baby – this is where basic obedience comes into play. You can send your dog to his bed, give him some commands such as sit/stay or down/stay or occupy your dog with a Kong or another toy while you’re busy with the baby.

Absolutely, make sure that the dog still feels like a part of the family. Now that it’s beautiful outside, include your dog on your family walks with the baby. Doggy daycare is also a good option for hyper or excitable dogs – not only will this drain your dog’s energy but will also keep him stimulated and satisfied. In general, dogs and babies can successfully and happily co-exist, but allow your dog a period of time to adjust and prepare him for the arrival of the little one by introducing him to “baby things” and sounds. Setting boundaries is also very important. Make sure to teach your dog what is acceptable and what is not and be consistent when doing so.

Stay tuned every Tuesday where we will be answering more of your training questions!