Camping with your Canine Companion

Thursday, 26 July 2012 16:49 by Dr. Sarah

Are you looking for an affordable alternative for summer vacation? Do you yearn to explore the Great Outdoors? Are you tired of leaving your dog behind when you leave town? If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then this episode of Pet Talk was made just for you! In this special summertime message, our intrepid, happy-go-lucky staff veterinarian Dr. Sarah applies her ready-for-anything attitude to a great American pastime with a twist … canine camping. Aided by Alma, her fun-loving, Goldendoodle co-star, our pet expert is on location in the Colorado woodlands, sharing her insights and practical tips to help prepare you for your next nature-land adventure.

As an added bonus to our readers, we’re including a full explanation of what you’ll need to pack to mount your next expedition into the wilds. And be sure to download the handy checklist version to take the last-minute guesswork out of what you’ll need to pack.

From here on out, camping won’t be complete without your canine companion. So, shake the moths out of your tent, dust off your backpack and buy a pack of strike-anywhere matches. Don’t forget to share your camping stories with other Life’s Abundance customers in the comments section below!

Packing List for Camping with your Canine Companion

Identification tags: If your pup is out of the house, she should wear her ID tags (license, vaccination & home address) labeled with your name, city, state and phone number. For your camping trip, consider purchasing an inexpensive, temporary tag for her to wear along with the standard tags. Some stores have engraving kiosks - simply enter the relevant info (such as your dog’s name, the name of the park where you’ll be camping and your assigned campsite number). If your park of choice doesn’t assign numbers ahead of time, or if you’re camping on a wilderness trail, include the phone number of the nearest ranger station. If there’s space enough, include pertinent information about medical conditions (such as ‘Diabetic’) or behavioral issues (like, ‘Cat Aggressive’).

Leash: In addition to your standard leash and collar (make sure they’re in good condition while you’re at it), consider bringing back-ups. It’s a good idea to have one short lead, especially if your destination is heavily wooded - you don’t want Max’s retractable lead wound around a couple of trees when he’s in an excited state.

Tether or Crate: You need to have a way to safely restrain your dog while you are setting up camp, cooking, etc. - just ask anyone who’s ever tried to pitch a tent while holding a leash - not pretty. If your dog routinely sleeps in a crate, and you’re driving to your campsite, bring it along. Obviously, it’s not something you want to carry on your back if you’re hiking to your site. However, a crate is a safe place she can return to while you’re busy prepping or cleaning up your camp site.

Bedding: Bring an all-weather tarp to place under the bedding to shield you and your pup from the ground, especially for camping in cold weather. Laying on the ground risks exposure, as body heat is quickly absorbed into the earth, and we don’t want you or your dog experiencing hypothermia.

Cold Protection: To further protect your pup, especially if she has a short or thin coat, pack a doggie sweater for her to wear. Again, there’s no reason to risk hypothermia.

Booties: Depending on the terrain, presence of ice on the ground, prevalence of fire ants or if your dog has weak footpads (i.e., predisposed to tearing, not uncommon in older dogs), booties are a good solution for paw protection. Don’t forget to do some trial runs with the booties before you leave … wearing shoes for the first time takes some getting used to.

Food and Water: Don’t wing it when it comes to having enough food and water. Do not simply trust the safety of streams, rivers and lakes as a source of hydration, for you or your dog. It’s rare these days to locate natural water that isn’t tainted by giardia, toxic chemicals or other harmful bacteria. If you insist on using water from a natural source, bring giardia tablets (follow the label instructions) and a tiny bottle of bleach (you only need a couple of drops per gallon) to purify the water. When it comes to food, pack two extra days of dog food beyond your planned stay. Preserve the food in a sturdy water-proof container. If your campsite features a “bear box” (a storage container high off the ground, often on a pole), please use it - it’s there for a reason. If you don’t have travel bowls, pack your pup’s regular ones – even these can evoke a measure of comfort in an unfamiliar environment.

Toys: Even though the Great Outdoors may captivate your attention, boredom’s a distinct possibility after your dog has marked his or her territory and sniffed around the camp site a couple of times. If your dog is fearful under the stars, a favorite toy from home might provide a measure of comfort.

First Aid Kit Items: Chances are, you already plan to take some first-aid items … by adding a couple of more products, you’ll be well prepared to handle many canine emergencies, too.
Take the following items and keep them safely stored in clear storage bags … that way, you won’t waste precious time in an emergency situation digging through your backpack.

Bandages: Vetwrap (self-stick gauze), butterfly bandages (used to close open wounds), waterproof surgical tape, duct tape, 4” X 4” gauze pads and non-stick sterile pads
Styptic Powder, to stop bleeding (Kwik Stop is a good brand)
Small Scissors
Tweezers
Hemostats or needle-nose pliers
Small razor (to shave hair from injured area)
Irrigation syringe (to flush eyes and wounds)
Ear and eye ointment (ask your vet or vet tech for which brands for common conditions)
Triple antibiotic ointment with lidocaine (that last part will help with stinging, painful wounds - check with your vet)
Medication for insect stings in both a topical spray and oral capsules (again, talk with your vet about brand choice and dosages)
Hydrogen peroxide (to disinfect the wound)
Towel
Muzzle (if your dog is in pain, you need to take steps to prevent him from biting you or others while addressing the emergency)

If you are planning a camping trip in a remote location, it would be wise to consider enrolling in a back-country EMT course, which should be available through your local community college.

It sounds like a lot of work, but if you’re adequately prepared, you’re more likely to have a blast. Enjoy your trip!

(Please note: Always consult your veterinarian on your first aid kit regarding items, brand choices, dosages and guidance on their uses.)

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Competing Brands Announce Recalls

Wednesday, 9 May 2012 22:23 by Dr. Jane

I am truly saddened to hear of the current pet food recall concerning possible salmonella contamination. I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of this kind of infection in dogs and cats. Our hearts go out to the pet parents who are right now sitting on “pins and needles”, worrying about the health of their companion animals.

As part of our unwavering commitment to the health and well-being of all companion animals, we want to take time to alert you about this unfortunate situation.

Here’s what we know so far. According to the FDA, Diamond Pet Foods and other brands produced at their Gaston, South Carolina facility between December 9, 2011 and April 7, 2012 have voluntarily recalled dry dog and cat foods due to potential salmonella contamination. This recall affects the following pet food brands:

4Health
Apex
Canidae
Chicken Soup For the Pet Lover's Soul
Country Value
Diamond
Diamond Naturals
Kaytee Fort-Diets (a rat and hamster feed)
Kirkland
Natural Balance
Premium Edge
Professional
Taste Of The Wild
Wellness Complete Health®
Super5Mix®

The scale of this recall is massive … products were distributed to customers in 41 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming) and may have been further distributed to other states through various pet food channels.

Symptoms of salmonella infection in pets include decreased appetite, fever (possibly quite high), lethargy and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dogs and cats may experience vomiting and/or diarrhea (sometimes bloody), and they may refuse food or water. If you know a pet exhibiting any of these symptoms, please contact a veterinarian immediately.

Keep in mind that infected – but otherwise healthy – pets can still be carriers of the disease, potentially infecting other companion animals and humans. You should always thoroughly wash your hands after handling your pet’s food and touching surfaces that might have been exposed to the contaminated products. Since these bacteria can also be present in the feces of your dog or cat, you should dispose of it carefully. According to the Center for Disease Control, 14 people in nine states have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis.

For complete information on these recalls, we encourage you to visit the FDA’s web site at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/default.htm.

Please be assured that this recall does not affect any of our Life’s Abundance products. We are fully confident that our products are completely safe. As you know, we employ numerous safety and quality controls to ensure the highest quality of our products.

When a recall occurs, many pet food companies rely on the media to inform consumers. However, people lead busy lives and often they are not aware of news reports or articles, which can lead to an extremely unfortunate situation for affected pet parents and their companion animals.

The good news for Life’s Abundance customers is that we employ an unparalleled, quick-response system. If we need to share information about a product with our customers, we can do it quickly and effectively. Thanks to our unique distribution system, we are able to pinpoint the lot numbers which identify the individual products shipped to each of our customers. Because we maintain databases with our customer's contact information, we can email them immediately about any issues with their products, should they arise. Also, through our automatic Interactive Voice Response system, we are able to call hundreds of our customers anywhere in the country within just a few hours. At Life’s Abundance, we believe informed consumers make for healthy pets!

Thank you for taking the time to read this important post, and thank you for all that you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.

Dr Jane Bicks   Dr. Jane Bicks

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Treat Your Pet to Good Health

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 15:43 by Dr. Sarah

Even though we act like it’s true, pets aren’t just like people. Ingesting empty-calorie snacks every once in a while can have a much greater impact on pets than humans, and not in a good way. Even feeding a diet of premium food may not offset the potential damage of ingesting “junk foods”, which often contain unsavory ingredients including artificial flavors and colors. In this particular health equation, it isn’t just a matter of subtraction (or taking away the bad stuff). Thanks to Dr. Jane’s wholesome recipes, you can actually add nutrients to your companion animal’s daily intake. In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah reveals how simple it is to make a positive change. If you want to provide your fur kids with the best possible nutritional advantage, you owe it to yourself to watch the latest episode right now. And, please, share this vital message with your friends and family, too!

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The Promise of Probiotics

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 09:58 by Dr. Jane

Kitty

Forty years ago, the famous Australian virologist Sir Macfarlane Burnett said, regarding antibiotics, that “By the late twentieth century, we can anticipate the virtual elimination of infectious diseases as a significant factor in social life.”

Unfortunately, his prediction proved utterly wrong.

In the last couple of decades, we’ve seen the development of superbugs – bacteria that are resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, which has left researchers scrambling for solutions. Even a few years ago, our focus was on the targeted elimination of specific bacteria through the use of antibiotics. In an unforeseen consequence, the prevalent usage of these medications has altered entire bacterial populations. This change represents a paradigm shift in the treatment of both humans and companion animals. Fortunately, there is a tool in our arsenal to help us all lead healthier lives. More...

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Rules for the Dog Park

Wednesday, 9 November 2011 16:21 by Dr. Sarah

If you haven’t made time lately to take your canine companion to a local dog park, you’re both missing out on some serious fun! In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah’s on location at the Spring Canyon Dog Park in Fort Collins, CO. With the help of her Goldendoodle co-star, Alma, Dr. Sarah will share the code of proper dog-park conduct, for both canines and humans, to ensure maximum fun for everyone. Learning about companion animal etiquette has never been so much fun!

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Canine Grooming Tips by Dr. Jane

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 09:37 by Dr. Jane

Family Washing DogNo one likes a bad hair day … and that includes your dog. Just like with humans, the skin is the largest organ of a dog’s body. Every day, their skin and coats are exposed to UV rays, pollution, infectious agents, drying heat or wind. Because it can contribute to a dog’s overall health, grooming should be an essential part of companion animal care. However, despite your best intentions, it’s not unusual for grooming habits to hit a glitch. Or two. Or three! While bathing a dog, I think all of us have experienced getting wetter than your dog, being interrupted by phone calls, or, worst of all, a sudsy canine tearing off, leaving a wet, sudsy trail behind him. As a veterinarian with a good deal of grooming experience, I can tell you that planning ahead can reduce unwanted problems and stress, so here are a handful of my best tips.

BEFORE THE GROOMING SESSION

Unfortunately, bathing can be stressful for some dogs, as some just tolerate it better than others. For those pups who are particularly skiddish, consider brewing some chamomile tea to calm your dog. Thirty minutes before you bathe, give your dog a cooled cup of chamomile tea with honey, followed by a dog treat that’s rich in carbohydrates, like our Antioxidant Health Bars. The carbohydrates will help deliver the calming tea straight to your dog’s brain. Better yet, you can both sit down with some tea and play soothing music, to set a calming tone for your upcoming grooming session. You can also give your dog tea during the grooming session. As we’ve already mentioned, just make sure the tea has cooled off (no hotter than room temperature). More...

Are you traveling without your pet this summer?

Monday, 27 June 2011 16:49 by Dr. Sarah

One of America’s favorite summer pastimes is vacation travel. Often, these trips do not or cannot include our pets, so what do you do with your beloved companion when you cannot take them along? The most important thing is to not worry - the more we worry the less fun we have. Here are some of Dr. Sarah’s favorite tips to help your animals when you travel.

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Do Pets Have Psychic Abilities?

Thursday, 16 June 2011 15:24 by Dr. Jane

Dr Jane Bicks
Have you ever wondered whether or not your companion animal has psychic abilities? While some might scoff at the idea, many are convinced that this is certainly the case.

Over the years, I’ve heard so many stories of animals exhibiting behaviors that seem as though they might fall within this realm of experience. For example, did you know that during the massive tsunami in December of 2004, scores of elephants in Sri Lanka, Sumatra and Thailand moved to higher ground before the destructive waves struck land? There were even reports of buffalo grazing by the beach in Thailand who lifted their heads in unison, stared out to sea and then stampeded up into the hills. Most, if not all of the villagers who followed the lead of these animals were saved. How did these elephants and buffalos know what was coming? Did they pick up on slight tremors that seismologists themselves were not able to detect? If so, why was it only the animals in low-lying coastal areas who exhibited strange behavior and not the rest of the animals in Southeast Asia?

There are many other documented incidences of animals sensing earthquakes all over the world. No one really knows how they sense an earthquake, although theories abound, from sensing vibrations, noticing changes in the Earth’s electromagnetic field or smelling released subterranean gases. Some of these theories could also explain why dogs ‘freak out’ before avalanches, but what about human-made catastrophes? During World War II, families in Britain and Germany relied on their pets’ behavior to warn them of impending air raids while the enemy planes were still hundreds of miles away! Just how did these pets know what was looming in their immediate futures? More...

Canine Hypothyroidism

Friday, 22 April 2011 10:49 by Dr. Sarah

Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function, is one of the most common canine hormone imbalances. This was not always the case. In recent decades, hypothyroidism diagnoses are on the rise.

In this episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah gives advice about how best to care for dogs that have already been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, as well as provides the steps you can take to ensure that your dog has the best chance of staying healthy.

After you watch the video, click here for more information on Canine Hypothyroidism by Dr. Sarah.

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More Information On Canine Hypothyroidism By Dr Sarah

Friday, 22 April 2011 10:48 by Dr. Sarah

Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function, is one of the most common canine hormone imbalances. This was not always the case. In recent decades, hypothyroidism diagnoses are on the rise.

What’s going on here?

In mammals, the endocrine system is a system of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into the bloodstream, that regulate the body. The thyroid gland, one of the largest endocrine glands, controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, regulates calcium and controls the body’s sensitivity to other hormones. The thyroid is critical to metabolic processes and affects the functionality of almost every other organ in the body. The endocrine system is highly sensitive, and its delicate dance of hormones can be disrupted, potentially resulting in disease. In dogs, the most common hormonal disorder diagnosed is hypothyroidism.

Typically, hypothyroidism occurs in dogs from 4-10 years of age, though in rare instances dogs can actually be born with it. Because the thyroid hormone affects the metabolism of the whole body, the clinical signs can be non-specific. That being said, dogs with hypothyroidism often exhibit low energy levels, weight gain, hair loss, a dull hair coat and concurrent skin infections. More...

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