Dogs are some of the most dependable companions a person can count on. They don’t get angry when you forget to wash their socks or underwear, they don’t require a fancy dinner every night, and they are content to sit by your side when all you want to do is enjoy a peaceful moment. Dogs are like spouses, without any arguing. They love you unconditionally, and they stay by your side in sickness and health. All they ask from you is that you love them back, and maybe give them a scratch behind the ears once in a while.

According to the ASPCA, there are 5,000 animal shelters nationwide, and approximately 6 million pets in these shelters waiting for a home.

Reasons to Adopt a Dog

They help cope with loneliness. A service called C.O.P.E. provides service dogs for people with a range of difficulties. According to the C.O.P.E. Service’s homepage, dogs as companions benefit people incredibly because they are able to “decrease loneliness; inspire people to smile, laugh and have fun; foster feelings of safety and acceptance; offer unconditional love and acceptance; and provide comfort.”

Dogs encourage you to exercise. Because most dogs require exercise to stay healthy and happy, they encourage the owner to go outside with them and walk, run, hike or bike. This can lead to a healthier lifestyle. According to a Health Guidance article by Mack LeMouse entitled “Ways Exercise Reduces Stress,”, exercise releases endorphins that make you feel happier, produces testosterone to improve confidence and to relieve stress, and also helps to improve cognitive functioning, including memory.

Adopting a dog from the shelter discourages puppy mills. Puppy mills are successful because they sell purebred dogs to pet stores and on websites that appear to be legitimate. People see these dogs as superior to other dogs because they are purebred, and so the demand for puppy mills continues. The Humane Society of the United States documents how the dogs living in these puppy mills have extremely poor living conditions and often have no human contact. After the dog birthing all the puppies reaches a point where she is no longer fertile, she’s often killed. Adopting a dog from the shelter instead of a pet store discourages the cruel and corrupt production of puppies in puppy mills.

You could save the dog’s life. According to the ASPCA, five out of ten dogs held in shelters are euthanized because there is simply not enough room for them. Perhaps one of those dogs waiting for a home is the one that will bring you laughter, unconditional love, and many years of happiness. Bringing a dog home from a shelter could potentially save the dog from being killed just because someone else couldn’t take care of it.

So Consider This….

If you’re looking for a new pet, or if you’re looking for something to bring a little more meaning into your life, consider making a visit to your community animal shelter and adopting a dog. If you do, you can rest assured that it will never nag at you to do the dishes, compete with you for the remote, or judge you for your beliefs. All your dog will do is beg you for a little attention, and maybe some scraps from the table.

Owning a pet dog is a wonderful experience for adults and children alike. These cuddly, lovable animals provide hours of love, compassion and companionship but what happens when their lives are put at risk by another dog?

Imagine the scenario. A woman is walking her 9 year-old golden retriever while pushing a double stroller with her two toddler daughters inside when she hears rustling behind her and sees a mutt who has broken free from its owner’s grip on the leash and is running toward her full-force, teeth bared and a fight in its eyes. In the blink of an eye, the two dogs have each other by the neck with no signs of letting go. What’s the best way to handle such a situation?

As Linda Cole writes in her article, “Responsible Pet Ownership: How to Break Up a Dog Fight,” fighting dogs hear, see, smell and fear nothing except the dog in their face. At this point, they cease to become pets and instead turn into animals in a fight to the death. As a result, humans should never attempt to break up a dog fight by pulling on a dog’s collar or calling a dog’s name.” What can be done, then?


Think Through a Dog Fight Before It Happens

Cole recommends that pet owners first think through how they would handle a dog fight situation before it happens as it’s important to remain calm to help maintain an air of composure when an attack does occur. While the immediate purpose in breaking up a dog fight is to get the dogs to release their holds by separating them, it requires a significant amount of force to do so.

There is no magic answer, no sure-fire solution, but there are steps one can take in different situations.

Breaking Up a Dog Fight

If a fight happens outside, most experts advise spraying the dogs directly in the eyes and muzzle/nose area with a garden hose to shock them enough to release their grips. Don’t stop spraying until both dogs have backed off and are as far from each other as possible. If a hose is not available, a large chair or trash can lid will do, as long as it’s something that provides a big enough barrier while protecting the human involved. Note that this is very difficult to do when alone, much easier with two or more people.

The only safe way to break up a dog fight involves two capable adults, especially if the dogs are big. While spraying them with hoses, hitting them with sticks and/or yelling to stop the fighting can work, it’s important to keep in mind that if the dogs are intent on killing one another, these techniques will not work and yelling, especially, will often times escalate the fight. Remaining calm and keeping one’s wits about is the best advice out there.

What Not to Do in a Dog Fight

One’s first instinct may be to yell, kick or hit the dogs with a stick, but this will only raise their level of excitement. Stay calm and never reach between two dogs who are fighting.

If two dogs are fighting, even if they are one’s own pets, they are in a zone packed full of adrenaline and will bite anything in their way, including hands, legs, arms, face, etc. They don’t realize they are biting their owner; they are simply reacting and biting anything they encounter. Trying to break up a fight using physical force is a battle that the dogs will win every time.

Tips for Avoiding a Dog Fight

Kim Campbell Thornton wrote a blog post in which she offered the following key pieces of advice:

  1. If one sees people approaching with a dog, especially a big dog, call out to ask if they can meet. Letting dogs approach each other on loose leashes is the surest way to ward off aggressive behavior from either party. That’s because when each owner pulls hard on the leash, the tension makes the dog feel defensive.
  2. In situations where the other owner would prefer that the dogs not meet, teach the dog to stand or sit and focus on the owner until the other dog passes.
  3. Never let a dog approach another dog who is tied up, even if he looks or seems friendly. Since the tied dog’s movement is restricted, he’ll try to defend his space.

Hands Off for Safety

No one ever wants to be in a situation where separating two fighting dogs is necessary but, occasionally a dog fight breaks out and it is crucial that one knows the best way to respond. Remembering the number one rule, to never try to separate the dogs by putting one’s hands in the middle of the fight, will go a long way toward ensuring a safe outcome for all involved.

Bayer Animal Health has made the former prescription-only flea and tick products available at specialty retailers and pet specialty Internet sites. For Advantage® and Advantix® products, PetSmart is offering a coupon with a savings of $5 and free shipping until April 26. To order, visit their website (and sign up for e-mail specials).

Bayer is Offering a $20 Rebate

Bayer has also launched a national multi-million dollar rebate program. With the blue economy, pet owners are putting veterinary visits on the back burner. With Bayer’s rebate program, “March Back In” pet owners qualify for the $20 rebate. Just purchase any Advantage® Family flea and tick treatment from a licensed veterinarian during the month of March and return to the same veterinary clinic for any preventive treatment before December 31.

Flea & Tick Season is Here

With flea and tick season here, dogs and cats, as well as their owners benefit from using preventative products. Fleas and ticks begin to flourish in the spring and thrive throughout the summer and into the autumn. In Mid-Atlantic States, the flea and tick population actually becomes worse in September and October. Fleas thrive in humidity and once they make your home, their home, it can be a nightmare.

With a warm spring, ticks, which generally begin to appear in the summer, will appear as early as March (in the Mid-Atlantic States). Pet owners should be prepared with products to prevent potential health risks associated with tick bites.

Mid-Atlantic States are Densely Populated Tick Areas

For dog owners who live in densely populated tick areas, it is beneficial to protect dogs with a Lyme disease vaccination. There are several vaccinations available at veterinary clinics. Vaccinations are not 100% effective, but for people who live between Massachusetts and Virginia where the tick population is the highest in the country, it is an additional preventative measure. Some veterinarians have criticized the Lyme vaccines for its ineffectiveness, so it is best to ask your trusted pet care giver for advice.

Remember, tick control is the most important step to prevent Lyme disease in a pet. Not only do ticks carry Lyme disease, but they carry other diseases as well. During peak tick season, avoid heavily wooded areas, and always, inspect for ticks after a dog walk.

Lyme disease vaccinations are not available for cats.

At the University of Colorado James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, canine health is a priority. While the hospital routinely sees patients of all species, sizes and breeds, canine hip dysplasia is a familiar complaint here, and one with which Dr. Narda Robinson is well acquainted. When she is not examining a German Shepherd puppy or evaluating the arthritis diagnosis of a Golden Retriever, she is researching the latest options for pain relief for dogs.

Canine Health and Hip Dysplasia

As the head of the Comparative and Integrative Pain Medicine Department she oversees a host of therapy options, from acupuncture to laser treatments. Around 100 dogs are seen at the hospital each year for dysplasia symptoms.

Canine dysplasia is a debilitating disease that is found most frequently in the hips and elbows of large canines, such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. Left untreated, the condition can lead to joint arthritis and have a devastating affect on the dog’s quality of life. Surgery is often indicated, but can be expensive. Dr. Robinson’s department handles many non invasive and alternative treatment measures for dogs with this diagnosis.

Laser Therapy and Acupuncture for Dogs

“We do a range of services,” Dr. Robinson said, who noted that there are many different forms of treatment available these days. “We are starting to look at the value of laser therapy. What we don’t have is research on how (canines) respond.” The technique has shown promise in management of pain in humans.

Dr. Robinson founded and oversees the Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians Program. She is skilled in administering acupuncture to her four-legged patients.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Other Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplementation is often used to treat arthritis-related conditions in canines. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, helps to reduce inflammation around the joint and lessen associated pain. Dr. Robinson cautioned that it is important to make sure the supplement is fresh.

“It has to be included in the diet. It can’t be rancid; therefore, the packaging is important.” She advised examining and smelling pre-packaged dog food that contains the supplement before using it. Exposure to heat can destroy the omega-3 fatty acids.

“(The liquid) supplement may be a better way for some dogs. You can squirt it over the food, or give it in a capsule.” Supplements, like other treatment options, are often accepted differently by each dog. She stressed the importance therefore, of an individualized treatment plan.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are two supplements that have been around for some years, and are good examples of treatments that are received differently by each patient. Not all dogs show positive results to these supplements, and not every researcher is sold on them.

“You can find studies that support the use of glucosamine and chondroitin, and some that don’t,” said Dr. Robinson. “It can depend on genetic differences as well as the nature of the disease. It is an easy thing to give and good point to start. But there are other options.”

One area of research that she feels may show promise is the use of herbs in pain management.

“We are doing a study on a mixture of herbs, with a randomized-blind placebo to see whether the dog’s ability to use (its) limbs improves with the therapy.” The four-week trial investigates whether herbs can aid mobility in dogs affected by osteoarthritis.

Individualized Lifestyle Change and Canine Dysplasia

But the most important component in pain management, said Dr. Robinson, is individualized lifestyle change.

In a nutshell: “Not over-doing it. The goal is regular moderate exercise.”

And that is where individualized care comes in.

“People need to have an awareness to detect when the dog is in pain.” She said an important aid to this goal is palpation. She uses gentle, full-body palpation to relax the patient and to interpret the dog’s symptoms.

“Head to toes, so you know which muscles are atrophied … and all the places the dog is in pain.”

She stressed that palpation is not only an important diagnostic tool for veterinarians, it’s useful to dog owners as well. She added that not all dogs react to pain the same way or show signs of discomfort.

The hospital also uses massage to treat pain and loosen muscles. Medical massage has shown positive results in the treatment of arthritis, but is another therapy option that is highly individualized.

Dr. Robinson said keeping three questions in mind will yield the best success with the patient: “What are the dog’s challenges, what is the disease, and how can we help the dog without aggravating the disease?”

The key to treating canine dysplasia symptoms therefore, is understanding the individual dog and what will ultimately provide the best quality of life

There are different types of fungi that cause ringworm, some of which people are more prone to and others which more commonly affect animals. Feline ringworm is more common than canine ringworm and dogs are more likely to catch the infection from cats. A strong healthy dog is not likely to be infected by ringworm and, if it is, the condition is not likely to spread. Young dogs or ones that are not healthy are more vulnerable. Not all animals show symptoms of ringworm so extra care is needed around the home.

Symptoms of Ringworm in Dogs

The most obvious and common symptom of ringworm in dogs is bald patches. The fungus that causes the condition lives in hair follicles and this is what causes the hair to become brittle and break off. There is usually a red rash on the dog’s skin, much like that seen on people’s skin but this may not always be in the shape of a circle. This will be scaly, dry and may itch. Scratching will spread the infection so it is important that treatment be given as soon as ringworm is identified.

Sometimes an animal can have ringworm but not have any symptoms. If there are people in the household who are diagnosed with ringworm, then they may have picked it up from their pet. Even if the animal shows no symptoms, it is still important to have it tested.

Diagnosis of Ringworm in Canines

Diagnosis of ringworm needs to be made by a vet as there are other skin conditions that exhibit similar symptoms. This can be done by use of an ultraviolet lamp which will cause the fungus to become fluorescent. If this doesn’t work, then a laboratory test will need to be done on skin and hair samples. The disadvantage is that this may take several weeks as it involves growing the fungus under laboratory conditions.

Over the Counter Ringworm Treatment for Dogs

Once ringworm has been diagnosed, treatment is easy but needs patience and perseverance. The gestation period between exposure to the fungus and the appearance of symptoms is ten days. This means that while treatment is being carried out on one part of the body, infection may have already spread to another.

The three types of treatment are topical shampoo, creams or medication. Antifungal Shampoo is the most common option and usually the most effective as it removes the fungal spores from the hair all over the body and so re-infection is less likely.

How to Prevent Ringworm in Humans

In order to prevent the infection spreading to humans and other animals in the house, the house must be thoroughly cleaned with hot water and bleach where possible. The dog’s bedding must be washed every day. Carpets can harbor the fungal spores for up to two years, so vacuuming and washing all carpets in the house is a must. Also, then, throw out the vacuum bag.

Pets should all be washed with the same antifungal shampoo used on the dog just in case the infection has spread. Finally, have the dog tested again by the vet after following the treatment to make sure the fungus has gone.

After selecting a breed and thoroughly researching a reputable breeder, a new owner is still not yet ready to bring home a new puppy. He or she must have several items on hand and prepared for new puppy’s arrival. Such items include a medical kits, extra toy and treats, and the numbers to puppy care VIPs.

Dog Medical Supplies

It’s a good idea to keep a doggy medical supply kit handy. Label a small plastic bin or tupperware container and include these items inside:

  • Epicac (to induce vomiting if the dogs swallows something poisonous)
  • Gauze rolls and pads of various sizes
  • tweezers
  • cotton balls
  • eye dropper
  • rectal thermometer
  • plastic gloves and cleans hand towels
  • cold and heating packs
  • wound disinfectant
  • rehydrating drink

It’s also important to keep the number to the dog’s veterinarian and the number to an emergency vet hospital.

Dog Grooming Supplies

Puppy’s fur grows pretty fast and many breeds types can easily get matted if not properly cared for. In addition to coat care, dogs have hygiene needs much like a human; they need their teeth brushed and ears swabbed. Before bringing home a new puppy, have a grooming supplies that include:

  • Hair brush and comb
  • Dog toothbrush and toothpaste (human toothpaste is poisonous to dogs)
  • Dog nail clippers
  • Cotton swabs and ear cleaning solution
  • Puppy shampoo

Toys and Training Items for A New Dog or Puppy

Before bringing a new puppy home, make sure to have plenty of chew toys and stimulating objects for it to play with. Some toys are safe to leave a puppy unattended with and some are not. Consult a pet store for specifics, but generally, stuffed toys, rope toys, and any toy with fabric, stuffing or removal parts is not safe to leave a puppy with. This includes tennis balls. Never leave a puppy alone with a tennis ball. Hard plastic toys such as Kongs (c) are ok. For training, a puppy needs:

  • Adjustable collar or harness
  • Leash, 6-feet long
  • Plenty of beef or chicken treats, the smaller the better

Dog Food and Feeding

There is a host of opinions regarding dog and puppy food. Get whatever is affordable and is recommended by the puppy’s breeder or veterinarian. Just make sure to have non-plastic food and water bowls ready when the pup comes home. Also make sure to transition slowly if changing dog food types or brands. Put increasing ratios of new food to old food for a week or so before feeding the puppy only the new food.

Miscellaneous Puppy Preparations

Lastly, it’s a good idea to have a few extra items to help get through the puppy stage successfully. Along with the above mentioned items, it’s a good idea to have:

  • Specialized Spot Remover for puppy urine accidents
  • Plenty of extra blankets and towels for warmth and comfort
  • A heating pad to put underneath the crate will help reduce separation anxiety for the pup’s first few days along
  • Vitamin treats
  • The number to a professional groomer and a recommendation for a good obedience class

These supplies should help any puppy get off to a good start. Read up on training and make sure to introduce the new puppy to as many new things as possible in its first few months and it will grow into a calm, happy, healthy and loyal best friend.