Archive for August, 2009

Music series to calm wracked nerves…

Monday, August 31st, 2009

When we are gripped by tension and anxiety, we frantically look for ways to relax ourselves like listening to music or discussing our problems with others. But what about our canine friends? When they are under stress how do they cope with the situation? Since they cannot speak, they tend to behave weirdly under these circumstances and this sometimes puts the entire household in jeopardy. Right?

But this is a thing of the past now because 2 musical maestros, Joshua Leeds and Julliard trained pianist Lisa Spector and a world renowned veterinary neurologist Susan Wagner have collaborated to launch a book and music series that promise to improve canine health and behavior.

This one of its kind book and music series called Through a Dog’s Ear
consists of a 45-minute sample CD and 4 hour-long music CDs. The website stakes claim to the fact that the book and the music series have been developed keeping in mind the path breaking research by psychoacoustic expert Dr. Alfred Tomatis. Known as the ‘Einstein of the ear,’ he discovered the extraordinary powers of sound as a ‘nutrient for the nervous system.’

The book and the music series are a treasure trove of insightful information on the inner auditory lives of our friends with paws. It also provides really handy and useful tips on how to make the house comfortable for anxious dogs, how to use music as a mechanism to relax dogs, how to tackle sensory overload in dogs and also a 45-minute beginner’s CD of classical music psychoacoustically orchestrated to soothe both dogs and their owners.

However, after reading all this I know your curiosity regarding the components of the CDs has been adequately aroused.

So, here’s quick look.

  1. Volume 1- It consists of solo piano which aims at reducing tension.
  2. Volume 2- It comprises solo symphonies which reduce the heart rate with slow and soft rhythms.
  3. Driving Edition– It is meant for dogs which become anxious or which fall prey to motion sickness during journey.
  4. Music for the Canine Household– It consists of cello, oboe and English horn along with piano arrangements which breed peace and harmony all around.

So what are you waiting for? Hurry! Go and grab a CD of the series before they fly off the racks.

Mystery of different dog coats solved

Friday, August 28th, 2009

We finally have an answer to the cause behind diverse coats in dogs. Thanks to a research conducted by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) in Bethesda, US. The team led by Elaine Ostrander discovered that there are basically 3 gene types that render variety to dog coats.

But how did they come to this conclusion? Elaine Ostrander and her colleagues collected DNA samples from 1,000 dogs pertaining to 80 different breeds. But if you think these included samples of only domesticated dogs, you would be terribly mistaken for these samples comprised DNA of wild dogs and wolves as well. That sounds interesting. Right?

The researchers analyzed the genes thoroughly by probing deep into their genome. They came up with a finding that signals DNA mutations resulting in the different canine characteristics. Edouard Cadieu, a researcher in Ostrander’s team actually capitalized on this opportunity to study dogs’ coats, explained Ostrander.

Cadieu basically followed a pattern and discovered that behind each type of variance in the coat of dogs there is a particular gene. The research also threw the lid off the mystery surrounding the origin of some of these genes by attributing them to wolves. These are mostly the short and straight haired breeds like the beagles. However, the domesticated types they said were the outcome of breeding and as they are bred keeping in mind common characteristics, the difference in their coats is understood. Finally Ostarnder said that the permutation and combination of these 3 types of genes hold the explanation to the different types of coats in dogs.

The researchers are also hopeful that these findings would open the doors to multitudes of research studies on both human and canine diseases.

Useful tips on dog training

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Many of us probably didn’t know that August 26th was National Dog Day. But those of you who knew about it celebrated the day with pomp and show. Some of them included the animal experts at the circus troupe called ‘Coney Island Boom a Ring’. As they deal with animals day in and day out, they are adept in understanding their behavioral patterns.

So on this special occasion these dog experts shared with dog owners some very useful tips on how to look after their buddies.

Here’s a quick look:

  1. Never be impatient – You have to be very patient while teaching your doggy a new skill. You have to always remember that he cannot communicate verbally. So you have to slow down your pace to match up to his so that your dog can pick up the skills comfortably.
  2. Spend more time with him – Observe him closely and for doing that you need to spend more time with him. It’s not just enough to adopt a pet and give him food and water on time. You have to understand his likes and dislikes so that you can nurture his special abilities in a better manner.
  3. Use rewards as a mark of appreciation – You have to acknowledge his efforts through rewards. Otherwise he won’t repeat his acts. However, you should always exercise restraint with these treats and rewards.
  4. Praise him – In order to build a steady relationship with your pet you have to first become his friend. Dogs understand the tone of praise in their masters’ voice. So the more friendly you are with your pet, the closer he will be to you.
  5. Maintain consistency in interactions with your pet – If you keep behaving inconsistently with your pet, he might become confused and start behaving awkwardly. He’ll also not repeat the acts that that you taught him so meticulously.
  6. Impart one training at a time – Don’t try to teach him too many things at a time for this might lead to a sensory overload. Always wear a positive attitude while teaching him.
  7. Choose a conducive environment to train your dog- If you try to train him in an inconducive atmosphere, he might revolt. So, environment plays a key role in shaping up his behavioral patterns.

Wish all dog lovers a belated Happy National Dog Day!

Feed less to stay healthy

Monday, August 24th, 2009

‘Bloating’ is a condition most of us are unaware of, but can prove fatal for our paw pals if they are not treated properly. This aliment is characterized by a ‘distended’ or ‘dilated’ stomach. Also called ‘gastric torsion’ or ‘volvulus’ in dogs, ‘bloating’ is caused by accumulation of gas and heavy food materials in the stomach. Although it can affect any dog, larger breeds like the Great Dane and Bloodhound are more susceptible.

The onset of the disease is followed by a large meal. But how would you know your dog has a bloated stomach, because sometimes the distension is not distinctly noticeable and the problem compounds in the event of limited information. So, what are the common symptoms you should look for in your buddy?

  1. Breathlessness
  2. Salivation
  3. Irritation
  4. Failure in vomiting attempts
  5. Drooling
  6. General discomfiture
  7. Weak pulse
  8. Depression

What actually happens is that the distended stomach restricts the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart, thereby causing decrease in blood pressure. Due to the poor supply of blood, deprived tissues begin to die releasing toxins into the blood stream. This causes instant death.

However, this disease is very easy to detect. When you take your pet to the doctor, his immediate course of action is to remove the accumulated gas from the stomach. The doctor then proceeds for shock treatment. The vet performs a gastropexy in which the stomach is sutured to the abdominal wall. This prevents the recurrence of the disease.

In order to help your vet tide over this crisis, good post operative care is imperative. Otherwise, it can give rise to life endangering risks like electrolyte imbalance, cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart beats) and septicemia (infection).

How can you prevent bloating?

Even if you cannot eliminate the chances completely, you can of course prevent it by following certain simple steps like

  1. Not overfeeding your doggy
  2. Not exercising him before or after meals
  3. Giving him clean fresh water to drink

Sound health breeds happiness. So, keep your buddy in the pink of health so that happiness and well being co-exist in your household all the time.

How do you treat canine diabetes?

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Every one out of four individuals is affected by diabetes. The disease, mainly characterized by insulin deficiency is predominant among middle aged adults and sometimes among children. It is surprising to know that even our pets cannot escape the pitfalls of the diabetes.

The disease, scientifically known as diabetes mellitus often stems out of pancreatic inflammation and is often characterized by weight loss, increased thirst and urination, appetite and liver malfunction. This at a later stage may lead to chronic infection, vomiting and even dehydration in dogs. If we dig into deep, insulin is one of the main hormones which have a key role in the metabolism process and its reduced secretion harms smooth functioning of the digestive track.

In order to diagnose whether your dog has been affected by the disease, vets recommend a complete blood count, urine analysis. Presence of Ketones indicates diabetes complications which need to be handled with immediate care. However, treatment of insulin is not really tough. Once your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, he needs to go through a blood curve taste. The blood curve taste helps the veterinarian to identify the kind of diet that would be appropriate to decrease his blood sugar levels. You need to be precautious that your dog is under the strict diet as prescribed by the practitioner. Once your dog is catered with proper rest, sleep and diet, beating the diabetic blue is only a few steps away!

Is your doggy a companion or a mere pet?

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

While browsing the net, I stumbled upon a news post where David Blouin, a cultural sociologist at Indiana University South Bend, explored the various types of relationship between man and his pet. I found this rather interesting. So just thought of sharing this with you. Since the time I adopted Rover, this thought crossed my mind several times. I finally found an answer to this.

Blouin says that man’s outlook towards dogs changes with the changing circumstances in his life, especially after having children. David Blouin has divided dog ownership attitude into 3 categories based on several interviews. They are humanist, protectionist and dominionist. In the first type, dogs enjoy unrivalled companionship of their owners. In the second type, the owners are normally herbivores. So, they love all animals alike.  However, quite unlike the first two, the third category display a domineering attitude towards their pets. They make them live outside their homes and use them only for hunting purposes and for controlling pests.

Blouin explains that these attitudes are shaped by factors like family structure, environment and cultural influences.

However, he adds towards the end that these attitudes are not always their own, these are influenced by different packages and ideas promoted by different groups, like the Humane Society or kennel clubs.

Hope for missing dogs…

Monday, August 17th, 2009

There is good news for all you folks out there who have lost their doggies and are now at their wits’end? Thanks to a Springfield-Greene County Health Department initiative. They have announced to launch a new blog for lost dogs. This would indeed be a blog with a difference. In case you are wondering how to go about the whole process, here is a quick look.

You can post the picture of your missing dog along with a brief description. Or, if you have come across any lost dog in Greene County, you can also post the requisite information on the blog or contact its owner.

Although this is a government initiative, the health department will not monitor the activities on the blog recurrently. The bloggers themselves will be responsible for getting in touch with people in the event of information about the whereabouts of their paw pals.

However, if the health department finds any missing doggy in Greene County, they will post its picture on their own website and not on the blog.

So, there is finally a ray of hope for all those dog lovers who lost sleep over their missing dogs.

Protect your pet from parvovirus…

Friday, August 14th, 2009

If you have an unvaccinated puppy at home exhibiting signs of lethargy and anorexia, there is a high probability that he could be under a parvovirus attack.

It is a deadly virus that attacks the intestine and causes it to fall off. The disease spreads by direct contact. Other accompanying signs could be blood dysentery and vomiting.

In all 10 cases have been reported in New Wilimington this summer. Dr Melanie Sumney, a renowned vet points out that prevention is always better than cure. So, it’s imperative that you get your pet vaccinated with the proper shots and also take him for regular check-ups. In case he is not vaccinated for the time being don’t take him to public places. Although it is a curable disease, the cost of treatment might leave a dent in your pocket, warns the veterinarian.

So let’s take some time off from work and do all that is required to see our dearest friends in the pink of health.

Does your pet drink enough water?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Doctors normally advise us to drink plenty of water. The same applies to our pets also. But the most pertinent question here is how much water do our pets need? Although it is dependant on several factors like his breed, age, size, the type of food he eats and also the surrounding weather, dogs normally require 2 and half times more water than food.

It has been observed that dogs can go without fat and protein food for several days, but if there is a loss of even 10% of water from their body, dogs may develop serious complications. However, at 15%, they may even die.

Although there is no hard and fast rule, doctors say that dogs weighing 20 pounds or less need about 1 cup (8 ounces) of water for every 5 pounds of their body weight. So, if that is the case, then dogs weighing 15 pounds would require 3 cups of water a day. It’s not  necessary that dogs would have to drink only plain water, because certain sources of food items also contain a very high percentage of water.

However, in order to make them drink water, you have to ensure that the water you give him is as clear as crystal. Otherwise they may not feel inclined to drink it. You must change the water in his bowl at least 3 times a day. Also don’t forget to wash his bowl properly, since stagnant water is usually a good breeding ground for bacteria.

Thus, it’s very essential that you develop healthy water drinking habits in your pet as it helps in absorbing nutrients and also streamlines his digestive system.

Secret behind barking…

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

This is one very interesting fact I would like to share with my readers. You won’t believe but I had been actually wondering for quite some time that why do our canine friends bark so vigorously? I came across this revelation in a special edition of ‘Behavioral Processes’.

In a research led by evolutionary biologist Katherine Lord, at the University of Massachusetts, she and her co- researchers found that contrary to human belief, barking is not a way of communicating with humans. They don’t intend to give out any signal like ‘I want to eat, play’, etc. This is rather an indication to flee from its predator. The researchers relate this to an attitude inculcated in dogs around 10,000 years ago since the time they began hunting for food in garbage dumps.

But do you know that this special edition also gives insight into the concept of ‘mobbing’. Lord and her colleagues attribute barking to an auditory signal associated with an evolved behavior they refer to as ‘mobbing’. Dogs invented this behavioral tactic themselves as a protective gear against impending danger.

Researchers believe whenever there is an inner conflict they resort to this weapon. In the olden days they used to fight it out among themselves and the fittest of them always survived. Dogs even resort to this when they want to protect their puppies. The sound of barking draws canine pals closer to each other and this frightens away the enemy.

However, domesticated dogs bark the most since they confront more conflicting situations than their stray counterparts.

Thanks Katherine for your research! My curiosity has been finally put to rest. And I believe many of your misconceptions too have been done away with.