MICROCHIPPING DOGS IS A CRITICAL SAFETY MEASURE

There are a number of reasons why microchipping dogs is a critical pet safety measure for dog parents. In fact, it's probably one of the smartest dog safety tips for dog owners, and cat owners too!  June is National Microchipping Month for pet owners.  It's a month in which to raise awareness of the importance of microchipping your pets, particularly dogs and cats.


Importance of Microchipping Pets


> A microchip permanently establishes you as the owner of your dog, and links you together for the life of your pet. Virtually all Veterinary offices and Animal shelters have microchip scanners that enable them to scan a dog or cat to see if a chip is present. In dogs and cats the microchip is usually placed, just beneath the skin, between the shoulder blades. Microchips are internationally recognized, so even if you travel abroad with your dog, their microchip can still be effective.

> Collars and tags are great, your dog should always wear them. However, collars can easily come off your pet. Collars can break off, a terrified dog can wriggle out of almost any collar or harness and run off. A well meaning citizen, or a not so well meaning citizen, can inadvertently remove a dog's collar - removing that means of identification and link to you. Unlike collars, a microchip is permanently attached to your dog.  In the U.S. it is illegal for anyone other than an owner to remove a pet's microchip.

> Once a microchip is installed, there is no further maintenance required. It's a one and done simple procedure that links you and your dog together for the life of your dog.


Microchipping dogs is a critical dog safety measure
Microchipping dogs & cats is critical for pet safety 


I can't overstate the importance of microchipping your dog or cat. As an 8 year animal shelter volunteer, I have seen the heartbreak of pet owners searching frantically for their lost dog or cat.  

They walk, teary eyed, up and down the rows of shelter pets desperately seeking their beloved dog or cat.  When they've searched every kennel, the anguish of not finding their pet is evident.  I have seen this look far too many times and it breaks my heart.  

I always asked them the critical question, already fearing the answer.  Is your dog microchipped?  No, they say, my dog isn't microchipped. I know then how drastically the odds of finding their pet plummets. 

But I offer as much encouraging information and advice as I can. I tell them that the shelter nearest their location might not be the one their dog was taken to. A pet is usually taken to the shelter that has the most room for them at that moment. Sometimes they are brought to a shelter that is many miles away.

I tell them to post large, full color posters throughout the neighborhood and ask to post them on windows of nearby stores. I tell them to go online and post their lost pet. If they have security cameras, like Ring cameras, there may be community groups in their area they can post lost dog or cat messages on. 

I offer whatever advice I can, knowing that if they had microchipped their dog or cat the odds of being reunited with their lost or stolen pet would be much, much higher.  


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I'm excited to share the Pet Photo Necklaces and Keychains in my Etsy store! Just send in a photo of your pet and it will be transformed into a beautiful necklace or keychain with your pet's name and face engraved on the front. You can add a special engraved message to the back as well. 

Personalized Pet Photo Necklace, Pet Photo Keychain
Personalized Pet Necklaces and Keychains
created from your pet's photo!

These pieces are a great celebration of your pet and the love you share. They're also a thoughtful pet memorial gift for someone who has lost a beloved pet.

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Even if a dog is stolen, one day a Veterinarian or authority just might scan the dog for a microchip. People who steal dogs often commit other crimes. The authorities and animal shelters know that. If dogs or cats are present at a criminal's home they are usually confiscated.  Every animal that lands in an animal shelter is scanned for a microchip - it's one of the first things they do upon intake!

So please, if you have a dog or cat and haven't microchipped them, consider it now.  Microchipping pets truly is a life saver.

Be well, keep your dogs, cats, and other pets safe!


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More details on benefits and cost of Microchipping Pets


NEW HAMPSHIRE VACATION WITH MY DOG

This Winter we went on another wonderful vacation to New Hampshire, with our dogs in tow. If you follow the blog regularly, you know that Waterville Valley New Hampshire is one of our favorite New Hampshire towns, and the Waterville Valley ski area resort is one of our favorite New Hampshire resorts, especially since it's dog friendly! I'm always up for a New Hampshire vacation with my dog, pretty much all year round, it's great in any season.  


DOG FRIENDLY VACATION IN NEW HAMPSHIRE


We love it up there, and we love the New Hampshire weather in Winter, Fall, and Summer. We think it's the perfect dog friendly vacation! It's weird because lately, we always end up traveling to NH in Winter. Last Summer we were determined to get there for a Summer vacation filled with cool mountain air and hikes with our dogs, but between the Canada wildfires and the bizarre flooding we just didn't feel confident making that long road trip from Florida.


Me with Icy and little Jessie at the Waterville Valley New Hampshire resort

Whether you want to spend time hiking in the mountains, or getting out on the water, they have it all. New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesauke and Lake Sunapee are just two of the many beautiful lakes in New Hampshire. You can rent a boat and head out on to one of these lakes, and bring the dog along! Just remember to practice good dog boating safety guidelines and put a dog life jacket on your pooch.

The hiking In New Hampshire is pretty incredible. There is a wide variety of hiking there, and it's home to quite a few "4,000 footers", or mountains that are 4,000 feet high and above. Mount Washington is New Hampshire's tallest mountain at 6,288 feet high.

There are plenty of hiking trails that allow dogs. You won't have a problem finding dog friendly hiking in New Hampshire! Learn more on the NH State Parks Pet Friendly website. New Hampshire Magazine also has some recommendations on The Best NH Dog Friendly Hikes.  

I urge you to seriously consider the difficulty of recommended hikes, and your dog's hiking ability as well as endurance. Most adult dogs can safely hike about 2 to 7 miles, but it varies widely depending on the dog.  You should have a conversation with your Veterinarian before embarking on a dog friendly hiking adventure. 

New Hampshire is a place where the trails can be difficult. The locals have some really strong hiking skills, so what they think is easy may not be for you and your dog! Use caution and good judgement in selecting your hiking trails. And of course always bring lots of water for both you and your dog!

One thing I really love about the Waterville Valley resort is that they have a terrific long, relatively flat dog friendly trail right in the resort. It actually doubles as a cross country ski trail, which is weird but skiers know this particular trail is both pedestrian and dog friendly so we rarely see skiers on that trail.  My Husky Icy absolutely Loves hiking on this trail! She comes alive on the snowy trail and although she's 14 years old, it's like she's a young dog again.  We had such a great time!  

I really can't wait to get her there in the Summer, but it's not looking good for this Summer, for a variety of reasons.  She is starting to slow down and I'm afraid she won't be able to do even the easiest hiking after this year.

Here's a short video of me with my dogs crossing a bridge over one of the beautiful streams around the property:




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Check out this Custom Engraved Pet Portrait Keychain! You can buy it in my Etsy Store  It's great to celebrate a new pet, or memorialize a pet that has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I got one to memorialize my beloved angel Phoebe. I love having it with me every day, seeing her beautiful face engraved on something I always have with me.

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There aren't quite as many New Hampshire hotels in the area that are dog friendly. It's strange that the Waterville Valley resort allows dogs on the resort property and on some trails, but their hotels don't allow dogs! 

There are a ton of condos surrounding the resort, and many owners rent out their places but none are pet friendly. There are a few lodges around the property as well, but only one is pet friendly. It's called the Snowy Owl. We stayed there once years ago and it was awful. The location is perfect, you can walk to everything in the resort including that dog friendly trail I mentioned above. I'm happy to see that it is now under new ownership, so I have hope that it will soon be up to par.  The previous owner didn't seem to put any money into improving it and we wouldn't stay there again until some changes are made. 

For the last few years we've been staying at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, a Marriott hotel in nearby Plymouth, New Hampshire.  It's about 20 minutes from the Waterville Valley Ski Area, but it's a great place! We love it there.

Here's a 2 minute video I posted on YouTube that gives you a glimpse of how we spent our days, and how beautiful Waterville Valley New Hampshire is.  I think it's a great dog friendly vacation, in any season!




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4 COMMON HEALTH ISSUES IN SENIOR DOGS

Just like people, dogs get old. The good news is that dogs are living longer, probably due to improved commercial dog food and more advanced Veterinary care. The fact that people now see their dogs as family members also plays a part in better health and longevity. Dogs aren't just seen as home security, or something for the kids to play with. We take them on outings and adventures, and take them on vacation with us. We want them to be happy, healthy, and enjoy their life. It's great that our dogs are living longer, but with dogs old age come changes that can be hard to watch. My Husky Icy is 14 and a half years old now. When did she become an old dog!?  With my dog's advancing age, we're now experiencing these 4 common health issues in senior dogs. 


4 COMMON HEALTH ISSUES THAT EFFECT OLDER DOGS  


WHAT IS CONSIDERED A SENIOR DOG?


Before we jump into common health issues that can effect older dogs, let's clarify when a dog is actually considered a "senior dog".  A dog is considered a Senior Dog, or Old Dog, depending on their age and size:

Medium to Large dogs are considered senior dogs when they reach age 7 or 8 years old.

Small Dogs are not considered senior dogs until they are around 10 years old.


4 OF THE MOST COMMON HEALTH PROBLEMS IN OLD DOGS


1. Cognitive Decline

For me, the cognitive decline is the absolute hardest old dog health issue to bear. I can deal with all the physical issues my dog is facing, but the cognitive decline is the worst.  

Sometimes it almost feels like my sweet fur baby isn't "there" anymore. I lost my Mom to Alzheimers disease. Watching her decline so horribly was devastating for me and our family. Seeing Icy face dog dementia brings back memories of that heart wrenching time with my Mom.

It's just so sad when I see my dog standing in the room, blankly facing the wall, seemingly not knowing what to do next. Or watching her as she gets confused, not sure which way to go as she tries to find the back door to the yard.  

These moments of confusion and blankness are both sad and scary. But then when she has a blast going for long walks or hikes, or runs around the yard like a young pup, it's such a sense of relief. It feels normal again. I cherish those times more than ever now. 

There doesn't appear to be much we can do to treat dogs mental decline. I give her Lion's Mane Mushrooms  in her food, which seem to help some. My Vet recommended we try feeding her Purina Bright Mind dog food, so we're feeding her that coupled with a new food called Badlands Superfood Complete. 

Badlands contains a host of super foods for dogs. It's also air dried, not cooked on really high heat like kibble is, which many believe is a healthier way for dogs to eat. Icy enjoys both of these foods, so I mix them together.  I also still cook chicken, eggs, occasional salmon, sweet potato, carrots, broccoli and a few other super foods for dogs and add it to her food. 

Even with her cognitive decline, I'll tell you that dog Knows when there's chicken being prepared! She becomes laser focused and will do whatever she has to do to get that chicken! I love to see her this way, it's another glorious sign of "normal" and it's great seeing her still get excited about something.

Another result of my dog's cognitive decline is anxiety, which often causes her to pace around the house or yard, especially at night. She also seems disturbed by loud traffic on our walks, something that never phased her before. I think the Lion's Mane may be helping to reduce her anxiety. 

Another thing that is super important for dogs with declining mental acumen is to keep up with their mental stimulation! This means changing up walks to take them down different routes, taking them to interesting stimulating places - for dogs that usually means places with lots of new Smells! Visits with family are also very helpful. Icy enjoys when our family comes over - she may not stick around that long, but I can see it makes her happy and it's something new and fun in her day. Not to mention, she always gets some treats!


My dog playing with a puzzle toy from Outward Hound
Puzzle toys for dogs provide great mental stimulation


Puzzle toys and other interactive toys for dogs are also a great source of mental stimulation. I've always used them to combat boredom, especially during bad weather. Now I use them even more to give Icy frequent mental stimulation and challenges, and to give her a fun activity that works her brain. I love Outward Hound interactive dog toys, especially their dog puzzle toys.


2. Hearing Loss

About a year ago, we noticed that our dog is losing her hearing. Icy can't hear us approach her anymore. She doesn't usually hear us call her name unless we are really loud and in close proximity.  She does seem to hear us whistle, and she hears that sound we make with our tongue when we're calling her to us - I'm not sure what to call it, but it's kind of like a Tsk Tsk clucking sound. She also hears Jessie barking - actually, I'm pretty sure the whole neighborhood hears that LOL!  Anyway, for some reason she hears those sounds. 

I'm looking into how people with deaf dogs communicate with their dogs. I feel like we could manage her hearing loss fairly well. The biggest change with her hearing loss is that we no longer let her off leash at the dog beach or dog parks. I feel she's safer when we don't have to rely on the Come When Called command. If anyone has any tips on how to communicate with deaf dogs, please share!


3. Behavior Changes

There are behavior changes in my dog that are also pretty upsetting. Icy doesn't want to be touched much or cuddled anymore. She does still enjoy her head and face being rubbed, so we give her plenty of that! But it's so hard not to be able to hug my dog anymore. It's hard to take, but when my mom had Alzheimers she had some very disturbing behavior changes as well, some of them kind of hostile. Having seen and heard about this common behavior change in humans with dementia helps me realize it's not me and it's not my dog, it's the mental decline and accompanying anxiety. It's not easy, but we try not to feel bad about it.

We no longer take Icy to the groomer because of her reluctance to be touched and handled. We just don't  want to take a chance that she might snap at or (heaven forbid) bite a groomer because she's confused and upset by a strange person touching her.

 

Dog Grooming Mitts that don't require rinsing off
Dog Grooming Mitt

We found some grooming mitts that don't require water for rinsing. You wet them and they soap up. After bathing you don't need to rinse the soap off, you just towel dry your dog off. She seems to tolerate us bathing her with them pretty well. 

Another behavior change is that my dog seems to want to be alone a lot more. Before she would always lay down close to us and follow us around a lot. Now she often retreats to the bathroom or another room to be alone. Even when company comes over, which she used to LOVE, she says hello for a short while but then retreats to a quiet place by herself. 

Icy doesn't seem to want to interact with our younger dog Jessie, either. Jessie is kind of barky, and her loud barking stresses Icy out for some reason. 

Speaking of barking, Icy doesn't bark or vocalize at all anymore. Imagine a Husky that isn't vocal! I miss her woos and even her barks so much.


4. Arthritis and Joint Pain

Arthritis and joint pain in older dogs is common. I have actually been dealing with my dog's joint pain for awhile now. We've been able to manage it with dog joint supplements, but recently it's gotten worse.  Icy needs help getting in and out of the car now, and her hind legs are showing more weakness. She drags her back right leg when she walks, and needs to sit down after standing to eat for several minutes. Here's a video of how she's walking. You can see her back right foot drag as she walks. At the end you see how she goes into a sit during mealtime:




We've been managing my dog's arthritis and joint pain quite well with joint supplements for dogs, but we may now need to take it a step further. At Icy's last checkup, our Vet mentioned hydrotherapy for dogs, and a medication called Librela for dog Osteoarthritis pain. It's a monthly injection made by Zoetis Inc (an animal pharma company I trust), and has been in use in Europe since 2021. It recently gained approval for use in the U.S. as well. We're considering one or both of these treatment options. Has anyone used Librela? If so, I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments.


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Personalized Pet Portrait Keychain with option to engrave a message on the back

Going forward, I may need to get Icy a dog ramp for the car, or perhaps a dog lifting harness. But for now my husband picks her up to put her in the car.

That was kind of heavy wasn't it? Please don't think it's all doom and gloom! We still love on our dog like crazy and we still have a great time with her.  We take Icy on lots of adventures near home, and we continue to take her on road trip adventures. 

There are some nearby places we take her several times a month that are interesting and exciting for her. There's a beach park where she can have fun exploring, finding coconuts, and splashing along the shore. There's also a large lake we take her to for longer walks. There are lots of birds and ducks at the lake, which she is always fascinated by. There's a lot of foliage for her to stick her nose into and sniff too! 

We feel it's important to keep her physically active, and keep her mind engaged. My dog's energy comes in spurts these days, but we treasure our active times together! 

This Winter we took the dogs to New Hampshire. Icy had a blast romping around in the snow and in the woods. Stay tuned for my blog post on that trip shortly, but here's a cute photo of me, Icy, and Jessie hiking in the snow. 


Me and my dogs in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire 2024

Icy loves our adventures just as she always has, she just needs a lot more naps throughout the day and our hikes are shorter and easier. We are determined to make every moment with her special, and filled with the love and appreciation we have for her. 

Has your dog experienced any of these common senior dog health issues? Let us know in the comments, and please share any tips that have worked well for your dog! 

DOG NECKLACE YOU CAN MAKE AT HOME

Pet jewelry is beautiful, but it can be expensive. I really wanted a pretty Dog Necklace for my dog Jessie, so I decided to try making one myself. I wanted to save money and create a beautiful Dog Chain Collar like the ones I've been seeing all over the internet! Below is a the simple, inexpensive dog necklace you can make at home, like I did for Jessie.


Dog charms and homemade dog necklace



Dog Necklaces



I have a few cute dog charms I've accumulated over the years, as you can see in the photo above. They're the kind of charms you can easily hook on to your dog's collar. 

I figured I could find some really pretty necklace chains at the craft store for my DIY necklace. An updated chain for my dog charms would elevate their look and create a really special necklace for Jessie. She can wear the necklace for the holidays, for a dog's birthday party, or just to look extra fabulous when guests come over!


Homemade Dog Necklace
DIY Dog Necklace I made for my dog Jessie



This is a really simple, easy to make dog chain necklace your can make yourself for your dog. I went to the craft store and looked in the jewelry making section to find the right chain.

I found a ton of lovely chains, beading, and other materials I could make a dog necklace with. I was able to find the chain I used for my dog's necklace for an incredible $2.99 for a 24 inch chain. What a bargain!


Metal chains available in many lengths at the craft store. These are from Michael's Craft Store



I started by measuring the circumference of my dog's neck, adding at least an inch or two so the necklace had plenty of room and did not fit tightly. The measurement I needed for Jessie's necklace was about 11 inches.  

I then cut the 24 inch length of chain I bought at the craft store to 11 inches. It wasn't difficult to make the cut using a small pair of metal cutting shears I borrowed from my husband - LOL! 

That's basically it! I just attached both ends of the chain together with one of the charms.  With this super simple attachment, it allows me to quickly and easily change out the charms.  You can find all kinds of charms like these at craft stores, pet stores, or online.  They're usually only a few dollars each. 

Here's a short video that shows you the process I used to make my very simple dog chain necklace for my dog Jessie.






If you actually know how to make jewelry, you can add jewelry fasteners, clasps, etc. to make your dog necklace more professional looking. 


Is it safe for dogs to wear necklaces?


VERY IMPORTANT!!  Supervise your dog at all times while wearing this dog chain necklace! This simple homemade chain dog necklace doesn't have the easy break-away clasps a dog collar normally would have.  It also doesn't have elastic or any stretchy material for safety, it's a chain. Therefore, it's important to supervise your dog at all times while she or he is wearing this chain necklace.  

Additionally, you should never attach a leash to a dog chain necklace like this one! This isn't a collar you would use to walk your dog, it is dog jewelry. It's merely a fun, decorative item. Your dog should Not sleep in this chain necklace without your supervision either. If the chain got caught on something, there's no stretch or break away elements to allow your dog to escape the collar.

Look how pretty Jessie looks modeling two of her charms on my DIY Dog Necklace. She's wearing the princess charm and the Christmas stocking charm in these photos.

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ARE CHRISTMAS TREES DANGEROUS TO DOGS

It's Christmas time of year again, time for Joyful fun! Dogs love Christmas too, and many dogs are fascinated with the Christmas tree, both live trees and artificial trees. But if you're wondering, are Christmas trees dangerous to dogs?  The short answer is Yes, they certainly can be. But with careful planning, awareness, and supervision, dogs can also enjoy the family Christmas tree as they wait with anticipation for Santa Paws to arrive!


Are Christmas Trees Dangerous To Dogs    Dogs and Christmas trees
You mean this pretty Christmas tree can be dangerous to dogs?!


Is The Christmas Tree Dangerous To Dogs?


Potential Dangers of Live Christmas Trees To Dogs


Let's start with live Christmas trees. Live Christmas trees come in many different varieties. But they all have oils, needles, and may have other parts such as buds on them that can potentially harm dogs if ingested.

According to HartzPine tree needles are not digestible and can be mildly toxic depending upon your dog’s size and how much she ingests. The fir tree oils can irritate your dog’s mouth and stomach and cause dogs to vomit or drool excessively. Tree needles can also obstruct or puncture a dog's gastrointestinal tract.

Christmas tree lights can get hot and burn your dog, especially if they try to chew on them. They can also get an electrical shock if they chew on tree lights.  Electrical tree light cords can be very tempting for dogs to chew on.

Chewing on electrical cords can cause other hazards as well. One of the dogs I follow on Twitter just had an incident with the tree light cords. A dog they adopted this past year was having her first Christmas with the family.  She got to the tree lights and ate the cord! Thankfully it was unplugged or it could have been ugly. They have since removed all the lights from their tree. 

Try not to string the lights on the bottom portion of the Christmas tree where your dog can reach them. Keep electrical cords for the tree lights secured to the wall or floor with tape or other material. Check them daily to ensure the dog hasn't been chewing or biting them. If your dog can't resist chewing on the electrical cords, consider not having lights on the tree. We all want lights on the tree, but if my dog's safety was at risk I would ditch them.

Live Christmas trees need to be watered. The water in the tree's stand can be poisonous to your dog.  Christmas trees may have been given preservatives, pesticides, or fertilizers. In addition, people may add tree fertilizer packets or aspirin to the tree water to help keep it fresh. These items can also be toxic to dogs. Try to keep your dog away from the tree water, or try to cover the tree stand's water reservoir. 

Ornaments and their hooks on the Christmas tree can pose a hazard to your dog.  Years ago, my cat Maggie was totally obsessed with a particular set of ornaments for some reason.  There were 3 in the set. They were velvet and had a fabric rope design around them, each shaped differently. One was a heart with a mirror inside it. The other two were shaped like a candy cane and a tree.  I don't know what she found so amusing about these 3 ornaments!  She used to somehow get into the tree and grab one or more of these ornaments, and play with them. I'd find them under the couch or my bed. It was only these 3 ornaments! I never did figure out why she was so enthralled with these particular ornaments, but by the third year I stopped putting them on the tree because I didn't want her to ingest any part of them. That would have been bad.

Biting and breaking an ornament can be dangerous for dogs. They can cut their mouths on ornament shards or sharp edges. If they ingest an ornament it could create an intestinal blockage. 

In addition, ornaments can be made of materials that are toxic to dogs, so even licking or chewing on an ornament can become a serious issue.  You don't want to have to rush your dog to the emergency Vet on Christmas Eve!  

One of the Christmas tree decorations I stopped trimming the tree with years ago is tinsel! Another story about my cat Maggie - yeah, she seriously Loved the Christmas tree!  

One year, when I was still putting tinsel on my tree, Maggie cat was of course poking around amusing herself with the tree.  At one point I saw her from behind, and there was a string hanging out of her rectum!  I moved closer and realized it was tinsel! I was so freaked out. 

I had read that if a dog or cat ingests string you should never try to pull it out of their rectum if it's passing through/ Tugging on it could be dangerous. So I let it be and called the Vet. He said to monitor her carefully and as long as she wasn't vomiting, having diarrhea, or experiencing other symptoms of distress I should see if she would pass it in her stool. I prayed she would completely pass it, and thankfully by the next day she did. 

I learned that if tinsel is swallowed by a dog or cat it could potentially cause a dangerous intestinal blockage, which would likely require surgery.

Artificial spray "snow" that comes in a can can also make your dog sick. Dogs can have an adverse reaction if they inhale the material as you're spraying it on the tree.  Many dogs can also be tempted to chew on or eat this substance as well, which can make them sick.


Potential Dangers of Artificial Christmas Trees


The potential hazards of artificial Christmas Trees to dogs are very much the same in terms of lights, ornaments, tinsel and fake snow.  With artificial trees you need to be cautious of all the materials the tree is made of.

The artificial branches, or fake "needles" can be dangerous if swallowed by dogs. Most artificial Christmas trees are made of PVC or other plastic, and some are made with aluminum. Many artificial trees are pre-lit or have flocking, which is the white substance that resembles snow. These materials can cause intestinal blockage if ingested by dogs. 


ARE CHRISTMAS TREES DANGEROUS TO DOGS
Dogs, Cats and Christmas Tree Dangers


The best way to keep your dog safe from potential Christmas tree dangers to dogs is to supervise her around the tree at all times. Check the tree lights, water, and ornaments to see that your dog hasn't been touching them. You may even need to block the tree off from the dog if she seems a little too interested in the lights, ornaments, branches, etc.

If your dog experiences symptoms of illness and you suspect they may have gotten into something on your Christmas tree, call your Veterinarian immediately. 

Symptoms to watch out for include; Vomiting, Diarrhea, Lethargy, Mouth irritation, Loss of appetite, Bowel movement concerns. Don't take any chances, it can't hurt to check in with your Vet.


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Christmas Tree Dangers To Dogs


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MYSTERY RESPIRATORY DOG ILLNESS STRIKING FEAR IN DOG OWNERS

Our dogs Veterinary staff are wonderful. They send us timely health reminders for our dogs and pet health tips and information ahead of every holiday and season. I'm used to those informative communications. But on November 22nd at 3pm I received dog health information from our Vet that totally freaked me out! 

The email was to notify us of a Mystery respiratory dog illness that was rapidly spreading across the country. After reading the details, the hair literally stood up on the back of my neck. 


Mystery Dog Respiratory Illness


It was especially frightening to me because my Husky Icy, is 14 years old. A senior dog could certainly be more at risk of getting this respiratory illness. This mystery respiratory dog illness striking fear in dog owners certainly struck fear in this dog owner!


WHAT IS THE MYSTERY DOG RESPIRATORY ILLNESS

 

After further research I found out that the dog respiratory illness began over the Summer of 2023 in a Western state.  Currently, the illness is present in at least 15 states so far, including here in Florida.  

As of 12/3/23, the illness has been detected in; California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.  It's also shown up in several Provinces in Canada. I expect the number of identified cases will continue to grow, especially through the holidays with people traveling with their dogs or dogs being boarded while owners are away.

The symptoms are similar to that of the highly contagious kennel cough, but much more severe and longer lasting.

The scariest thing about this illness is that some cases are proving to be FATAL, and that there is no specific, effective treatment that has yet to be identified. Well that just sent me over the edge!

Dr. Rena Carlson, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association, reported that by November 27th, 2023 the illness has spread across 14 states, from California to Florida.  The cause of this illness has still not been identified. It's not yet certain whether this respiratory illness is viral or bacterial.


SYMPTOMS OF THE MYSTERY DOG RESPIRATORY ILLNESS


🐾 Coughing or Sneezing

🐾 Fever

🐾 Lethargy

🐾 Loss of appetite

🐾 Difficulty breathing or wheezing

🐾 Eye or nasal discharge


In severe cases, this dog respiratory illness can result in pneumonia, turning into severe pneumonia within 24 to 36 hours. If your dog becomes sick, and shows any of these symptoms, contact your Veterinarian as soon as possible.  If you're traveling, find an emergency Veterinary clinic that can see your dog right away.

The illness seems to be spread through close contact, similar to the way kennel cough spreads. 


TREATMENT FOR THE MYSTERY DOG RESPIRATORY ILLNESS


This illness doesn't seem to respond to the standard treatments or antibiotics used for known respiratory illnesses in dogs.  Your Vet will likely prescribe the standard treatments that are given for illnesses like Kennel Cough which includes; 

> Antibiotics, not to treat the specific illness but to treat any secondary illnesses it may cause due to the immune system being lowered. 

> Oxygen therapy may be prescribed if your dog is having difficulty breathing or has contracted pneumonia.

I've heard from several sources that the antibiotic  Chloramphenicol  had some success. This is a strong, broad spectrum antibiotic that has been around for a long time in Veterinary medicine. It's mainly been used for gastrointestinal disease, UTI's, skin infections and some respiratory disease. It's not used very commonly anymore.

Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM and YouTube content creator at Veterinary Secrets, also suggests that treating this serious mystery dog respiratory illness with Chloramphenicol may be successful.

In an ABC News report, a family in California has a Golden Retriever, Ike who was extremely ill with this unknown dog respiratory illness. He had been receiving oxygen therapy, but was given a poor prognosis. They didn't think he was going to survive.

Using Chloramphenicol was a last ditch effort to treat him - and it worked!  Ike was off oxygen 12 hours after receiving the Chloramphenicol, and was home later that week. I was so happy when I read this story. At least it appears there is a possible antibiotic treatment option that might work.

Dr. Jones also suggests some natural remedies, such as;

🌿 Green tea mixed with honey 

🌿 Flavonoid, found in red onion and apple peel 

🌿 Querceteen, which has antiviral properties 

🌿 Licorice root tincture, also with antiviral properties (NOTE: should not be used continuously or long term!)

🌿 Elderberry Concentrate

🌿 Slippery Elm, from the Slippery Elm tree

🌿 Olive Leaf Extract, has antibacterial and antiviral properties

NOTE: Never give your pet any natural remedies yourself without first consulting your Veterinarian!


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PREVENTION. WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR DOG


Since this respiratory illness is very contagious and spread from dog to dog, I would avoid placing my dog in close contact with other dogs. I'm keeping my dogs away from other dogs and away from the following situations;

🐾 Shelters - If you happen to adopt a dog, isolate them from your current dog(s) until consulting with your own Veterinarian. Many dogs are kept in close proximity to each other and their stress levels are high. That can be a prime environment for contagious illnesses to develop.

🐾 Boarding facilities - If you're traveling and must board your dog, have a conversation about how to prevent dog to dog contact. What is the facility's plan to prevent dogs in their care from contracting the illness?

🐾 Doggie day care - Personally, I would not bring my dogs to doggie day care at all until more is known about what this illness is, and a firm treatment option is identified

🐾 Training facilities - If your dog is in a group training class, have a conversation about how to prevent close dog to dog contact. Ask what the plan is to prevent the dogs from contracting this illness

🐾 Grooming facilities - If you must have your dog groomed, exercise caution. Again, ask what the facility's plan is for protecting the dogs they groom from contracting this illness

🐾 Dog Parks - I would keep my dog out of dog parks until more is known about this illness, and a treatment option is identified

🐾 Pet Stores - I wouldn't bring my dog to any stores where there might be other dogs. For me, it's just not worth the potential risk until more information is known about this illness

Ask your Veterinarian if s/he recommends that your dog receive the Bordetella vaccine, which helps protect dogs from most strains of Kennel cough.  

Ask your Vet to recommend supplements that may strengthen a dog's immune system such as Fish oil which contains Omega 3's, Vitamins such as E and C, and perhaps a Probiotic.  

I give my dogs Fish Oil several times a week, as well as a daily Probiotic. I also cook salmon for them several times a month.  I add Bone Broth that contains Turmeric to their food as well, and I add Manuka Honey to their food fairly regularly. Note: dogs with diabetes should not consume honey!

Dogs living in the same household could spread the illness to each other. Keep an eye out for any of the above symptoms in your own dogs. If any of your dogs show signs of these symptoms, isolate them immediately and contact your Veterinarian.

If you're traveling for the holidays be extra cautious if you're traveling with your dog or if you will be boarding your dog. Other dogs in hotels along the way, or at your dog's boarding facility could have potentially been exposed to this unknown pathogen.  


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Another article on this Mystery Dog Illness from our friends at Five Sibes.

LION'S MANE MUSHROOMS FOR DOGS

I've been hearing a lot about Lion's Mane Mushrooms lately.  I've been hearing that Lion's Mane mushrooms for dogs can be beneficial to dogs, just as it supposedly is for people.  A couple of my friends have given Lion's Mane mushrooms to their senior dogs and feel it's made a difference. Both had senior dogs who were experiencing some decline in cognitive ability, and were also seeing some restless behavior like pacing and whining in their older dogs.


Lion's Mane Mushrooms For Dogs.  Photo of Lion's Mane mushroom growing on tree
Lion's Mane Mushroom growing on a tree


My dog Icy recently turned 14, and she has been experiencing some of these common signs of aging in dogs as well. She paces quite a lot, especially in the backyard. She often insists on going outside many times a day, but just wanders around the perimeter of the yard. She doesn't need to potty, she's not eating grass, smelling flowers, or pursuing squirrels. She just wanders around aimlessly until we finally insist she come inside. She has recently had some hearing loss as well, which probably doesn't help her agitation. There are times when my sweet dog, who was always full of life and energy, seems a little confused.


Lion's Mane Mushrooms for Dogs  Photo of dog pacing the yard aimlessly
My senior dog Icy, pacing the yard


As people age, the ability of the brain to form connections and new brain cells (neurons) is reduced. This often leads to dementia in elderly people. Studies have found that lion’s mane mushrooms are a good source of two chemicals; hericenones and erinacines, that accelerate the growth of brain cells. 

This means Lion's Mane Mushrooms could positively impact the mental functioning of people with cognitive impairment. Many dog health professionals believe it can do the same for dogs.

I've been thinking about Lion's Mane Mushrooms, wondering if they could help my dog, and alleviate her restless behavior. I spoke to my Veterinarian about it and she agrees that Lion's Mane Mushrooms could be beneficial for a senior dog's cognitive ability. She said that if I wanted to try them for Icy, she would support my decision.


WHAT DOES LION'S MANE DO FOR DOGS?


I decided to do my own research on Lion's Mane Mushrooms to learn more about what they are, and to see what other Veterinary professionals and dog owners have experienced. Here's what I found out.

They are called Lion's Mane mushrooms because they are large white mushrooms whose shape resembles a lion's mane. There are a few different species of these mushrooms, but Hericium erinaceus seems to be the most popular and available species. 

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Lion's Mane mushrooms are large white mushrooms that resemble a lion's mane


Native to North America, Europe, and Asia, Lion's Mane Mushrooms have both culinary (mainly in Asian countries) and medicinal uses.

Lion's Mane Mushrooms contain thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. They are also a good source of essential minerals such as manganese, zinc, and potassium.

In a January, 2023 article in PetAge magazine, actress and animal welfare advocate Katherine Heigl  was quoted as saying 


 "Lion's mane mushrooms are a natural source of antioxidants that play an important role in the support of a healthy immune system."


I've mentioned Katherine Heigl before in this blog, because for years I've been reading about her animal welfare advocacy and her foundation, the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, dedicated to animal welfare. I can see the passion she has for animals. She also has a lot of connections in the pet health industry, and access to a lot of current information on dog health from Veterinary professionals. 

Her foundation has saved many shelter pets that would likely not have survived. Her love for animals is evident, and I trust her resources, knowledge and integrity.


According to Only Natural Pet, a reputable provider of all natural pet products, Lion's Mane Mushrooms helps support digestive tract health, and can be especially beneficial for senior pets, as these mushrooms are known to help support cognitive function.

According to Only Natural Pet:


"Feeding your pet mushroom supplements can be a great way to help maintain the general health of all ages and breeds.... It's important never to feed raw mushrooms as they are difficult to digest...."  "The safest and easiest way to introduce your pet to mushrooms is by supplementing their diet with a high-quality mushroom supplement."


Only Natural Pet sells a mushroom blend supplement that contains Lion's Mane Mushroom, as well as several other mushroom varieties.


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LION'S MANE MUSHROOMS FOR DOGS?


Most sources I found listed the main potential benefits of adding Lion's Mane Mushrooms to dogs diet as:


🦁 Lion's Mane Mushrooms can support Cognitive Health in dogs (as well as people). They can especially support cognitive abilities in older dogs.

🦁 Nervous System Support; Lion’s Mane mushrooms are believed to have neuroprotective properties, which could benefit dogs with neurological issues or dogs that are recovering from injuries

🦁 Immune System Support. Bioactive compounds found in Lion’s Mane Mushrooms could help boost dogs immune system

🦁 Digestive Health. Lion's Mane Mushrooms may have a positive impact on the digestive system. They have the potential to help with digestive issues and promote gut health

🦁 Lion's Mane Mushrooms contain compounds with potential anti-inflammatory effect, which could be helpful for dogs with inflammatory conditions or joint problems.


Overall, the consensus seems to be that Lion's Mane mushrooms show promise in many areas, but that more research is still needed to prove these benefits.  

Always consult your dog’s Veterinarian before administering Lion’s Mane Mushrooms, or products that contain Lion’s Mane Mushrooms.  

Your Vet can help you decide whether or not Lion's Mane Mushrooms are right for your dog, and can provide guidance on what type of Lion’s Mane Mushroom products and dosage might be a good fit for your dog.  This is especially important if your dog takes any medications or has any health conditions!

If your dog's Veterinarian thinks Lion's Mane Mushrooms might benefit your dog s/he can advise on which high quality product specifically for dogs would be a good choice to try.

Lion's Mane mushrooms are gaining popularity for dog health. But more comprehensive studies are needed to confirm these benefits conclusively. As always, consult with your dog’s veterinarian before introducing any new food or supplement into your dog's diet. 

I'm still on the fence about giving my dog Lion's Mane Mushrooms. I need to think about it a little more, although I am leaning towards giving them a try. If I do try them for Icy I'll let you know the results in a subsequent blog post.

Warning! There are some mushrooms that can be toxic to pets, so please be cautious if you give your dog or other pets any type of mushroom. Always consult your veterinarian first.

Have you used, or are you considering using Lion's Mane Mushrooms for your dog? Leave us a comment and let us know!


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