Such tools are often sold as harmless devices, and they’re proliferating. Don’t play along.
I’m amazed how many tools you can buy that cause dogs pain and fear. There’s the SimpleLeash, a leash and shock collar combo that automatically shocks your dog every time the leash goes tight — that is, every time she wants to smell something, investigate a new person, or lift a leg on a tree out of leash range. Which is to say, every time she wants to be a dog.
There are now collars that shock your dog when he barks, collars that shock your dog at the press of a button for any reason you like, and mats that shock your dog when they place their paws on them. You can even get a handy-dandy Stay! Mat Wireless Crate, which shocks your dog if he gets up from the mat until he returns to it and lies down. Yeesh! If I am reincarnated as a dog, please don’t let it be to a home where I have to use one of those.
These tools are often sold to well-intentioned pet owners swayed by a variety of euphemisms — a shock is referred to as a “sensation,” a “tickle,” a “tap,” a “stimulation.” They would probably be a pretty hard sell if “shock” were used, or if you were told this tool would hurt your dog. If a dog is “man’s best friend,” we sure have a funny way of showing it.
For some dogs, these tools seem to create few unwanted side effects. Like with people, tolerance for pain varies widely among dogs, and for dogs that have a higher pain tolerance and a strong prey drive, a shock of a few seconds is easily trumped by the joy of chasing a deer — in other words, it’s worth the trouble.
For others, the side effects may be more subtle and only readily apparent to someone well-versed in reading dog body language: a succession of lip licks, yawns, and head turns, which are saying, “Please make it stop.”
Shock collars can create anxiety, stress, fear and unwanted aggression in dogs. They can make a dog skittish, nervous and create an array of new problems.
Pet owners purchase shock tools in desperation, not knowing how to improve their dogs’ quality of life. Some are hoping for a quick fix to long-standing behavior problems. Instead, they end up having to address the original problem and also repair the damage done by inappropriate training tools and techniques. Dog owners, don’t be fooled. There are other training techniques that will be far more effective with far less damaging results on your dogs.
Would you want to walk around with a shock collar on all day not knowing when that moment will come and you’ll be zapped by an electrical jolt!
Herbs offer cures for many common canine ailments. I’ve used them often, with the recommendations from my vet, and my dogs have all lived long and remarkably healthy lives.
Just because they’re natural doesn’t mean they’re not powerful. Herbs are nothing to sneeze at. What may look like a mere weed or homely root can, in fact, be a very potent medicine. Here’s a list of the top ten herbs no dog lover’s cupboard should be without. It’s a pharmacopeia for dogs – call it a bark-acopeia! Before you try them, make sure to talk it over with your vet about the right dosage for your pet and whether any of these herbs would be contraindicated with your pets current medical regime and medications.
What: Azadirachta indica, an extract of the Neem tree, is nature’s non-toxic insecticide, plus it heals burns and soothes dry, irritated skin.
Why: Applied topically and absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, Neem makes your dog naturally repellent to mosquitoes and fleas. Parasite preventatives work by filling your dog’s blood with poison; in order to be eliminated, the pest has to take a bite out of your best friend. With Neem, Spot won’t even get bitten!
Suggested Use: During the warm months (high mosquito season), bathe once weekly in TheraNeem Pet Shampoo, to which you add several drops of Neem oil; both are available at Whole Foods stores. For extra protection from within, administer Neem Plus supplements by Ayush orally once daily, hidden in food.
What: Achillea millefolium – a.k.a. stanchweed, soldier’s woundwort, and sanguinary – helps stop bleeding.
Why: If your dog sustains a cut or laceration, you can administer first aid by flushing the wound with povidone iodine, then treating it with yarrow.
Suggested Use: Wound Balm for Animals by Buck Mountain Botanicals contains yarrow (along with echinacea and goldenseal); it speeds healing and is a first-rate addition to Fido’s first-aid kit.
What: Arnica montana, a.k.a. Leopard’s Bane, has long been prized for its astonishing bruise-healing property.
Why: Has Spot sustained a bruise or muscle injury? Arnica does double duty, easing the pain and promoting healing.
Suggested Use: Arnica pellets. Administer 3 pellets 3 times daily, in the inside pocket of your dog’s lower lip. It’s OK if he spits it out; healing begins when the pellets make contact with the gum.
What: This effective – if highly malodorous – herb (Valeriana officinalis L.) is nature’s time-trusted sedative and sleep-inducer.
Why: For dogs who experience high anxiety during thunderstorms or on the 4th of July, Valerian will put them out for several hours of stress-free slumber. It’s also great for long car trips, to help Spot snooze through the ride.
Suggested Use: Valerian comes in capsules, available at any health food store. To dose your dog, you’ll need to hide the capsules in a piece of meat or cheese with peanut butter on top – anything to mask that awful smell!
Olive Leaf Extract
What: The extract of crushed-up olive leaves (oleuropein) is nature’s antibiotic.
Why: If your dog experiences diarrhea from, say, scarfing something rancid on the sidewalk, the antifungal property of Olive Leaf will help set his digestion right.
Suggested Use: Available at health food stores, Olive Leaf capsules smell and taste exactly like olive oil (i.e. delicious), so there’s no need to hide or mask them. Just sprinkle over your dog’s food like a spice
What: A flowering plant whose extract, Silymarin, is one of nature’s most potent antioxidants for people and pets.
Why: Boosting and protecting the liver, milk thistle is a must if you want to extend the life of your dog. Everything passes through the liver, so it welcomes the support – and because eye and liver health are linked, milk thistle also prevents and reverses cloudy eyes (nuclear sclerosis) in dogs.
Suggested Use: Sold at health foods stores in capsule form, this herb tastes somewhat bitter; very finicky dogs will need to have it hidden in something tasty, but most dogs will eat it sprinkled over their food (cinnamon helps sweeten the deal).
What: Crataegus is a berry that’s used to treat cardiac insufficiency.
Why: Strengthening the heart muscle and improving circulation, hawthorn helps stave off congestive heart failure in senior dogs (and people), and tones the tickers of younger dogs who’ve survived heartworm disease. Young, healthy dogs don’t need it yet – wait until they’re older.
Suggested Use: One capsule in your dog’s food (available at health food stores); most dogs don’t mind the taste.
What: The resin of the Boswellia tree has many medicinal uses.
Why: Another senior-dog staple, Boswellia reduces inflammation and improves mobility in arthritic K9Suggested Use: Available in tablet form, it’s called “Boswelya Plus.”
What: As its name implies, the flowering plant Euphrasia officinalis has long been used to treat eye infections.
Why: If your dog comes back from the dog park or doggie daycare with goopy eyes, try eyebright first before consulting the vet; you may be able to clear up the problem yourself.
Suggested Use: Administer 3 pellets 3 times daily, in the inside pocket of your dog’s lower lip. As with Arnica (above), it’s OK if he spits it out; healing begins when the pellets make contact with the gum.
What: A thistle in the genus Arctium, its root has long been prized for its blood-purifying, hair-regrowing, and cancer-fighting powers.
Why: Use it regularly as a preventative, especially if you have a breed of dog that’s prone to cancer (such as a Boxer).
Suggested Use: Add cooked burdock root (found in the produce section of health food stores and Asian markets) to your dog’s food, or give him a piece of raw burdock to chew on, like a carrot. Or purchase dried burdock online and steep one teaspoon in a cup of hot water; let cool and pour over your dog’s food.
Remember, herbs are powerful healing properties and need to be used in the correct dosage for your pets. Make sure to discuss with your vet prior to using any of these herbs or natural remedies to make sure they are right for your dogs.
On an 85 degree day, it only takes ten minutes for the inside of your car to reach 102 degrees, even when the windows have been left open an inch or two.
Within 30 minutes, a car’s interior can reach 120 degrees. When the temperature outside is a pleasant 70, the inside of your car may be as much as 20 degrees hotter. Shade offers little protection on a hot day and moves with the sun.
Pets most at risk for hyperthermia (overheating) are young animals, elderly animals, overweight animals, those with short muzzles and those with thick or dark-colored coats.
IF YOUR DOG IS OVERCOME BY THE HEAT
Bring down body temperature by soaking the animal in cool (not ice) water, but make sure water does not get into the mouth or nose of an unconscious animal. Seek immediate veterinary care.
Here’s Some Hot Weather Traveling Tips
Get a veterinary checkup before traveling and make sure you have the necessary vaccination certificates for the area you will be visiting, as well as flea and tick treatments.
Carry a gallon thermos of cold water or bring along a two-liter plastic bottle of water you froze the night before.
Exercise your pet during the coolest parts of the day (dawn and dusk), and never immediately following a meal.
Hot asphalt and tar can burn sensitive paw pads. Walk your pet on grass or dirt when possible and provide shade when your pet is outside on a hot day.