Pets

BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

 

 

Questions from Westminster:

Why do some breeds have such long ears?

By Tracie Korol

March 3, 2011

Short answer: domestication, evolution and selective breeding.  It is part of a phenomenon known as neoteny or juvenilization of adults in a species wherein specific characteristics seen only in young animals become the standard for adults.  It happens in all species, even human beings.  For instance, flightless birds resemble baby chicks, and adult humans resemble infant primates with their larger heads and sparse body hair. In Siberia, for the last 60 years, researchers have been breeding a population of silver foxes that they have selected only for friendliness toward humans. The foxes gradually developed neotenic characteristics like shortened faces and floppy ears, much like how the wolf evolved into Basset hounds and beagles.

 

Floppy ears are only present in wild canids when they are very young.  In domestic dogs the droopy ear is a juvenile characteristic that has been retained into adulthood. This is just one of many characteristics which can suggest your Best Friend is an “infantilized wolf”.

 

But there are many domestic breeds—German shepherds, Spitz, Shiba Inu, Keeshond, etc., that still have wolf-like, pricked ears so it is clear that floppy ears are not an inevitable result of the domestication process.  We have bred our dogs to longer and longer ears to suit our purposes.

 

What might seem to be an obvious outcome of owning floppy ears is that directional sound detection is impaired. When a pointy-eared dog is listening to distant noises, it twists and turns it’s large erect ears to pinpoint the tiniest rustle in the brush.  Floppy eared dogs may still be able to hear extremely well, but logically their detection of the precise direction of a small sound can never be as good.  An exception to this theory was my beagle’s innate ability to levitate from a dead sleep and beeline directly to the source of the sound of the lunchmeat bag zip-lock being unzipped.  To test her skill, I could hide under the counter in the far corner of the pantry, with the door closed and still, she would arrive within seconds.

 

Contrary to this theory, however, it is claimed that this “weakness” was deliberately developed in various breeds of hunting dogs that were supposed to be working by sight or smell.  It was feared that the hunting dog might be distracted by irrelevant sounds from the field.  Also, sticking with a hunting/tracking theme, it is thought that long, flapping, head-shrouding ears capture, concentrate and funnel a scent directly to the dog’s nose making for a more efficient working dog. We breed for what works best.

 

Another attraction of flop-ears is the more submissive look they impart.  Most of us are aware, in dog-speak, of the angry dog with the pricked ears staring down the subordinate that has his ears plastered flat to his head as a message of “please don’t kill me”.  There is a subconscious, undefined sense that a floppy-eared dog is less “savage” than a prick-eared dog.

 

Finally, there is the anthropomorphic advantage. Humans, as rule, do not have sticky-up ears projecting from the top of their heads.  But we do have long hair that can drape on either side of it.  Long, drooping ears look somewhat like an actual hairstyle.  In fact, I have often asked my brilliant hair care professional to please trim down my spaniel ears at hair cut time and strangely enough, she knows what I’m talking about.  Silky-haired breeds, such as the Afghan hound, where the individual hairs on the ears are long and soft, appear even more human-like and more attractive to their owners.

 

Next: why do some breeds have such short legs?

 

 

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

 

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Pet of the Week-April

February 24, 2011

Every office needs a cat – and April is just the cat for you!  She is quite helpful with answering phones, walking on keyboards and playing with mice!  April is very funny, loving and people oriented.  She gets along great with other cats and dogs.  She loves to play and thinks going into bathrooms and storage rooms is “hunting”.  She is the prefect addition to any home or office.  She will fit in quite easily.  She is great at meetings – she keeps  stress levels down.  One word of caution – she is a pizza junkie and will steal the cheese right off your slice!  To meet April or any of the other wonderful cats and dogs we have looking for homes please visit the PAL Adoption Center in Okatie.  For more information please call 645-1725 or email us at info@palmettoanimalleague.org.

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Pet of the Week-Dottie

February 24, 2011

Dottie is a 2 year-old female Pit Mix that is “Deaf” but very sweet and good with other dogs and children. Please help us find a place for her….she is getting very upset being in a cage all the time.  She wants to be with people! To Adopt Dottie, please visit Beaufort County Animal Shelter & Control at 23 Shelter Church Rd, Beaufort, SC 29906 or call 843-255-5010.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Questions from Westminster:

Why are some breeds so small?

By Tracie Korol

February 24, 2011

The dark days of February bring the pinnacle of tele-viewing for we inveterate dog lovers, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.   The winner, Best of Show, this year is a leggy, 85-lb. Scottish deerhound, named Hickory.  She competed against Malachy, a Peke who looks endearingly like a walking wad of fuzz.   Each year I renew my admiration for and curiosity about all the varieties and sizes of canine-ity, all equally carrying the same classification of Dog.

Watching Hickory in the ring with Malachy makes me wonder why some dogs are so tiny? Small dogs the world over can all trace their ancestry back to the Middle East, where the first diminutive canines emerged more than 12,000 years ago.   A new study, which appears in BMC Biology, focused on a single gene responsible for size in dogs. Researchers found that the version of the gene IGF1 that is a major determinant of small size in dogs probably originated as a result of domestication of the Middle Eastern gray wolf.

Ancient dog remains found in Belgium, Germany and Western Russia, dating from 13,000-31,000 years ago, were similar in size to a Great Dane.  Remains found in the Middle East, dating from 12,000 years ago were similar to a small terrier.  And so it began. These dogs shared a variant of the IGF1 gene.  This mutation was maintained by breeding and artificial selection by humans, or could have been an adaptive trait that developed during domestication as a means to coexist with humans. As dogs began to co-habit with humans in developing agrarian societies, small dog size could have been more desirable as humans moved away from hunter/gatherer lifestyle toward tightly packed agricultural-based communities.

Dogs at that time were used as a source of protection, but more likely they were used initially for their fur, as a food source, for specific tasks and possibly companionship. Terriers, as their name implies, are “earth dogs” and were bred originally to dig out vermin. Small bodies were essential for their job.  In time many smaller breeds were likely to have become status symbols: “I can afford to have an animal just to keep me company”.

Why are we attracted to smaller breeds?  Simple answer: they make ideal child substitutes.   To understand this, look at infantile properties of the human baby: it weighs a fraction of an adult—about seven pounds at birth. This, and its small size, makes it easy to pick up, carry and cuddle.  Its body is more rounded and less angular than that of human adults and it is softer to touch.  Its face is flatter and its eyes proportionally bigger. It has a high-pitched voice.  Turning from human babies to small dogs, it is clear that they satisfy all the criteria of infant-appeal.

As regards body weight, they fall into three groups:

  1. Dogs with the weight of a new-born human–Chihuahua (4 lbs), Maltese (5 lbs), Pomeranian (6 lbs), Yorkie (7 lbs), and Griffon (9 lbs)
  2. Dogs with the weight of a five-month-old human: Pekinese (12 lbs), Shih Tzu (14 Lbs), King Charles Spaniel (15 lbs), and Pug (16 lbs)
  3. Dogs with the weight of a one-year-old human: Dachshund (21 lb) and Corgi (22 lb)

Such dogs are the ideal weights for a “parental” human to pick up and carry. They are rounder and softer than the larger breeds of dogs making them perfect objects for cuddle and coo.  Nearly all have flatter faces and all have higher-pitched voices.

Combining all these traits means that smaller dog breeds cannot help but transmit powerful signals to their owners that trigger inborn parental responses.  We automatically become loving, protective and emotionally bound to our particular tiny pets.

Next: Why do some dogs have such big ears?

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week-Ceelo

February 10, 2011

Ceelo is a 3 year-old male Carolina Dog mix that is very outgoing and loves to run and play with the other dogs in the yard. If interested in adopting Ceelo, please call Marsha Galyon at 843-255-5010 or visit Beaufort County Animal Shelter & Control at 23 Shelter Church Rd. in Beaufort.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Dog Gone AWOL

Part Two: What Can You Do to Prevent Your Dog From Leaving?

By Tracie Korol

February 10, 2011

When last we checked in, your stomach had just taken a lurch upon discovering Pooh was not in the yard.  Boredom and loneliness had finally taken its toll and Pooh took off for parts unknown.  How on earth did he get out?

Dog owners are notorious for falling victim to the “let’s get a puppy!” urge before adequate preparation has even been considered.  Pooh, as a tiny puppy, wouldn’t wander too far off his back stoop. But, a short six months later, Pooh already developed a habit of making the neighborhood rounds.  Once Mr. Jones down the road called up to threaten to shoot Pooh if he rooted in his garbage one more time, you decided, one Saturday morning, it was time to throw up some sort of metal fence post and wire kind of structure thinking that would hold Pooh till you could dig a few post holes.

Unfortunately, by the time you had settled back onto the couch after all that work, Pooh was already testing the perimeter.  In the far corner he found a three-inch gap, shoved his nose under to the “freedom” side, clawed a bit in the soft dirt and whammo! he was out.  You eventually dragged him back and filled the hole. But the damage was done. Pooh was then on his way to a lifetime career as a master escape artist.

Whether your dogs escape efforts focus on paw power or feats of aerial derring-do depends on genetics and learning. Dogs who are genetically programmed to dig, such as terriers, will be more likely to become burrowers and tunnel under a fence if a handy soft spot is discovered.  If a loose board is the first weak spot found, your terrier will turn into a beaver and chew himself out.  Herding dogs such as Border Collies and sporting breeds such as Labradors have a natural ability to bound as gracefully as gazelles.  Jumping fences will become a specialty. Bolters have learned to watch for moments of human inattention, and then charge out the tiniest crack in the gate or door.

The Bea, my dear beagle, was quite the escape artist in her glory days.  When she first came to share my home I was convinced she could fly, as she would appear at the front door only moments after I had sent her out to the dog yard.  My kennel fences were tall; the bottoms buried two feet in solid clay yet she would routinely appear outside the fence. Careful, clandestine observation proved her to be an accomplished climber.

As you will hear from me again and again, it is always easier to prevent a behavior problem from happening than it is to fix it after the fact.  There’s no excuse for letting a puppy become an escape artist when preventive measures are so simple.  Don’t let the puppy learn that roaming is rewarding and stop all fledgling escape attempts by using some common sense.

Before you get you puppy, make sure your new fence is flush to the ground, pinned every 6-8 inches or even buried a few inches deep. Check, from a dog’s eye view, for weak spots and gaps.  Go overboard on the height.  Make sure there are no woodpiles, dog houses, deck railings, lawn furniture close enough to provide a launching pad.

Teach you pup to “wait!” at the door until invited through. Install dog proof latches on all gates.  A padlock will prevent an accidental release from an outsider and will thwart the development of latch-opening skills.  Minimize your dog’s desire to roam by neutering at an early age and provide him with ample exercise and companionship at home.

And finally, consider keeping your dog indoors when you’re not home. It is, by far, the easiest, safest, most common sense solution.  Next week: How do I get him back?

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week-Tiki

January 6, 2011

Tiki is a 3 year old declawed cat looking for that special home.  Tiki is playful, loves his kitten friends and loves people.  This is a lap cat!  Tiki needs a home where he will be with teenage children or just adults.  He could live with a cat savvy dog and he does love his cat roommates at the adoption center.  You can meet Tiki every day at the Adoption Center from 12 to 7.  For more information about Tiki please call 645-1725 or email inf0@palmettoanimalleague.org.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Do Dogs Grieve?

By Tracie Korol

January 6, 2011

Dogs are all about subtext. They watch if your head is cocked, if your body is leaning backward or forward, they note where you’re looking and they are listening to how you say a word rather than knowing what a particular word means.  They move through life making sense of their world through reliable associations.  They understand the movements of their family members. They make intense social connections.

When a dog shares his life and home with another being, whether human, cat, dog or other animal, a fiercely strong bond forms.  The dog has lived all his life with his pal and his pal’s scent is all around his environment. His person feeds him, plays with him, spends time with him and may even sleep with him.  His animal friend, dog, cat or other, also shares meals, plays with him and in general, spends time with him.

When that daily scent of his friend is suddenly gone, and the daily routine is absent, a dog can lose his focus, become listless, clingy and disoriented, lose his appetite and become disinterested in what is happening around him. He may begin to vocalize (howl), when he never did before. We could think that dogs don’t understand the concept of death, much like small children, but he knows that his pal isn’t there, and his pal’s scent is fading from his environment. We probably will interpret this as sadness or grieving. But, do dogs grieve?

Remember the story about the Skye Terrier “Greyfriers Bobby” in Scotland that stayed, and slept near his master’s grave every night for 14 years? People have said that the dog was grieving for his master.  Is it anthropomorphism? (Attributing human qualities to our pets.) Or is it that the dog is profoundly depressed, deeply mourning the loss of his loved one? All we can do is take clues from our pets, watch and listen, and mourn together.

One thing you can do is give your pet the gift of knowing. When my lab, Tucker, died at home, late one night, we laid him in state on the icy, screened porch. Bea and Sherman sat quietly while he died and I wept. But as soon as Tucker was laid outside to await burial in the morning, both dogs silently went out, pressed their noses to Tuck’s flank and came back inside. Their eyes changed with “understanding” and they both walked back to sit with me as I tried to get a grip. While I had studied this behavior in the abstract, I had never seen it firsthand. This single action gave me greater understanding of how deeply our pets connect with us and with each other, and profoundly influenced my perception of the dog/human bond.

Dogs intuitively understand and accept death far better than humans. The grieving that they do comes from not knowing. Once they see and smell for themselves that their friend is deceased, they seem to accept it remarkably well. It’s instinctual.

When a loved one dies away from home and the dog mourns, what can we do to lessen their burden? You might introduce him to new people and other animals, thus lots of new and different smells. So many of our pets, especially the small ones, believe that the world begins and ends at the front door.  It might be a good time to visit the park, go to the beach or take an entirely new path for the daily constitutional.  Provide him more attention and affection. Use environmental enrichment techniques such as new toys or games to keep busy. Hide new toys in his favorite spots for him to fine during the day. Try not to use treats as a distraction or you might unintentionally reinforce a behavior you don’t care for—like, the howling.

As with people, time is a great healer. If you are thinking about adding another dog, wait until you and your surviving dog have adjusted to the loss. Forcing your dog to get to know a newcomer will only add stress to his already tenuous emotional state. And be patient. Your dog misses his companion as much as you do.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

New Year’s Resolutions for Dogs and their People

December 30, 2010

Getting organized, saving pennies and losing weight are standard resolutions we toss out before the holiday fruitcake. I have never been particularly enthusiastic about making resolutions; too much stress and expectation for me. But I do appreciate the concept of a fresh start. What if this year, instead of the usual self-based resolutions, we resolve to do something better for those around us? If we start small, say, with our animal companions (who give us love and joy every day of the year), maybe we’d be more likely to stick to a new year resolve.

For instance, commit to walk your dog every day, even when it’s blustery and chilly and you’d rather huddle on the couch. Few things are more important for your dog’s health and happiness than the opportunity to stretch his legs and read the daily “news” on the local fire hydrant. A daily dog walk is a win/win arrangement.

Or, set aside some “canine quality time” every day to play with, talk to, get your hands on your dog. It’s too easy to overlook our smaller friends when life gets hectic, and most dogs are too polite to complain when they’re bored or lonely.

Senior pets that have been around so long they’re considered part of the landscape particularly appreciate and benefit from personal hands-on time. They have given you their best years and their time is growing short. Commit to spending quality, hands-on time with your old friend.

Plan to have your dog spayed or neutered, if you haven’t already.  Not only will it protect your animal from potential cancers but will prevent accidental litters.

Thousands of animals are born in this county only to end up on the streets or dumped at the Beaufort County animal shelter. If your dog is already  “fixed,” why not offer to help your friends or neighbors have their animals spayed or neutered by transporting them to SNACC or the veterinarian or even offering to pay for the surgery yourself? Or co-op the fee with a group of friends. Spaying and neutering is cheap, but saving lives is priceless.

Resolve to be an Angel for a lonely, chained backyard dog in your neighborhood. I can’t think of a more cruel punishment for these loving, social animals than to be isolated, far away from their human “pack,” with only a few feet to move around in and nothing to do but watch the pounded dirt turn to mud. Engaging the dog’s guardians in conversation about what dogs need, such as companionship, a warm and dry house filled with straw in the winter, fresh food and water every day, and regular veterinary care, is a good start. You might be told to mind your own business (or worse) but sharing your concern with the owner could also be a starting point for a better life for that animal. Offer to take the dog for walks, or offer dog treats and toys. Don’t give up: some lucky dogs have had their entire lives changed because of someone who cared enough to intervene.

Speak up when you notice neglected or abused pets in your neighborhood.  Call Animal Control if you suspect an animal is in danger or in an abusive situation. This isn’t pleasant, but if you can help even one animal escape a painful life, it is worth it. Shelter staff and rescue group volunteers will thank you for your help.

There are thousands of animals in Beaufort County in need of help each day. This concept can be overwhelming for many residents. For them, it is easier to turn a blind eye and pretend the problem doesn’t exist or leave it “those other people”.  Resolve to become one of those “other people”. Every little bit helps. Financial donations, donations of supplies to the shelter or a rescue group are always appreciated. Resolve this year to volunteer some time: write a letter, make a phone call, be a foster family. Real live animals are helped by your generosity. It’s a great way to start a new year.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Hoodlum in the House

By Tracie Korol

December 9, 2010

When my son turned 13, I bemoaned to a friend that a hulking stranger who ate vast amounts of carbohydrates and smelled vaguely of monkeys had replaced my charming little boy.  She replied, “It’s normal. It makes it easier when they leave.” Her son was 18. I settled in for the tumultuous teen years.

Of course, there are parallels in the dog world. The juvenile dog morphs into a teenage hoodlum in a New York minute. Your sweet, fuzzy puppy that stubbornly refused to walk to the end of the driveway a few days ago now adventures alone to the neighbor’s compost pile.  The sound of the doorbell that was once ignored now elicits shrieks, mad scrambling and the inevitable crash as she bounces off the front window.  Depending on your dog’s individual personality and breed, starting at around five months, teenagerhood lasts anywhere from one year to three years. This is their experimental age. Oh, dear.

Each change you see tells you that puddles on the floor and high-pitched yaps in the pre-dawn hours are almost behind you. The future promises an adult dog, wise and compliant. Yet the present reality can be jarring.  As your pup continues to mature, you find yourself in the company of an animal you no longer understand, and one that is filled with boundless energy and the will for all things doggy.

While many pups sail though adolescence with an angelic, cooperative attitude, most dogs frazzle their families with confusing, fluctuating behaviors.  That’s because major internal and external metamorphoses are going on, fueled by physiological changes.

Breed-specific characteristics such as a desire to herd, or adult traits such as scent marking, “turn on” or intensify.  Owners discover they are now being taken for walks, gasping for breath and hanging on for dear life. Squirrels take on a fascination as never before and new people and dogs are greeted with full body force or sometimes, suspicion.  Responses to simple requests, such as going to crate or sitting on command, may result in a doggie version of “nuh-uh!” ranging from playful avoidance to downright refusal. A teen-beagle friend of mine expresses his willfulness for command by grabbing up the nearest fabric item-pillows, socks, his blanket–and running full-out through three levels of house.

By the time he’s concluded his run, his owners have forgotten his command. Clever, isn’t he?

The teen dog’s rapid changes, physically and mentally, qualify this period as a “critical” one.  The socialization phase—three-12 weeks—is also “critical”. (Any fast organizational process in the development of a living creature is considered critical.)  When behavior changes rapidly, something important is going on and owners must be just as fast to do what they can to modify pet’s behavior to their advantage.

In the first critical phase, your pup should have learned basic skills of good dog behavior—sit, come, leave it, potty outside, this is yours, this is mine and don’t jump on Grandma. Because you’ve taken your pup with you in your daily excursions and introduced her to variants of the human world, she is a congenial easy-going hey, what’s that? kind of companion.  When the teen years hit, your pet will begin to test the parameters you’ve set and may attempt to create a few of her own behaviors through trial and error.

An undesirable behavior is most easily altered in the initial learning phase, before it stabilizes. An example is territorial barking, which can escalate rapidly if not checked.  The very first time sweet puppy lunges at the door, screaming hysterically at the mail carrier is the time to step in. Unchecked, you’ll have a frenzied, territorial adult dog who has taught herself a routine, difficult to modify. The best time to for families to work with undesirable behavior is as it emerges; otherwise the dog will gladly take on the job.

Families need to understand that teen-dogs want more freedom and will certainly test the limits. It’s up to their humans to use this period to guide development of adult behavior.  Spaying and neutering helps modify emerging territoriality. Socialization must be continued to impress on the dog that the world does not end at the front door.

Canine adolescence can’t be avoided, but the period is much more than just annoying.  It’s the time between puppy hood and adulthood during which good dog temperament stabilizes.  Make the most of it.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a certified Second Degree Reiki practitioner, trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

First Line of First Aid

By Tracie Korol

November 4, 2010

This morning I received a tense post-dogfight call. Bigger Dog took offense at something Tiny Dog did, or thought he did and grabbed the little guy by the neck, cleverly timing the attack when humans were not in attendance.  Mom, who is a vet, with Tiny Dog alongside called from the car because the tension in the house was just too much to deal with, especially before coffee. She had the puncture wound piece under control and called about scheduling some behavior modification on the home front.  She was fretful of all the bruising and attendant whimpering that was beginning to appear on Tiny Dog’s front half.

“Arnica, arnica, arnica!” is the chant I adopted from my massage therapist in Vermont. This chant was always the first thing she’d say to me when I’d call up to whine about this or that indignity I had inflicted upon myself—moving the piano, seven hours of continuous gardening, or painting the stairwell in a half twist on a ladder.  To dog owners whose animals have endured a scuffle, sprinted too quickly after that vagrant backyard squirrel, or that have spent too many hours in the field on the hunt, I also chant arnica, arnica, arnica.

Arnica is an all-around, all-specie home remedy, and is a good natural treatment to have in both your dog first aid kit and in your medicine chest. It is primarily used for any kind of trauma, emotional or physical. It is good for muscle aches, sprains, strains, and injuries. It is also useful for injuries to the brain and spinal cord.

Arnica (arnica montana) or Leopard’s Bane begins as a perennial with bright yellow daisy-like flowers. Centuries ago it was discovered that the crushed flowers applied topically could soothe muscle aches, reduce inflammation, accelerate wound healing and even reduce irritation from insect bites often within minutes.  It works quickly to dilate capillaries increasing circulation in the damaged area, accelerating lymph and blood flow. Good stuff in, bad stuff out.

Because of that rapid flow feature, it should not be used to treat open wounds or used before any surgical procedure.  Also you should not use it if you suspect there is internal bleeding or inflammation.

Today herbal arnica appears in creams, gels, oils, tinctures and liniments and can be applied to bruises or massaged into strained areas.  You can rub it onto dogs, but care has to be taken that it not be licked off before it has a chance to work. There is also the sticky inconvenience of massaging an oily cream into a hairy dog that may prefer to recover on upholstery.

Arnica is best used with dogs in its homeopathic form. Look for it in health food stores or more esoteric natural grocery emporiums. While it comes in many potencies, for home use look for 30C on the label. It is easy to administer in tiny sweet pills and most dogs will happily play along.  For dogs that are skeptical of the tiny-round-thing texture, pills can be melted into a little warm water and spooned in.

Start with one or two pills (or spoonfuls) in the dog’s mouth. Wait 30 minutes and reassess. If there is no change, repeat the dose one more time. For a minor squirreling sprain, two doses should be enough. The trick is to not touch the little pills with you fingers. Touch negates the healing energy affect. Toss the tabs into your dog’s mouth directly from the cap of the bottle.

Homeopathic remedies are made from such extremely dilute preparations that only the “energy” of the plant remains. Healing is encouraged on the bioenergetic level by only a few molecules of the plant. Yep, it sounds goofy. But it works. It is almost impossible to overdose as homeopathic preparations are prepared in such dilute concentrations.

One other point about homeopathic remedies: they are considered to be an energy force. Therefore they should be stored and kept away from all other energy sources (i.e., refrigerators, microwaves, televisions, cell phones, computers, etc.). Keep it in a drawer away from all of the above.
One other use of Arnica I strongly suggest is after any kind of minor or major surgery, dentistry, or any kind of procedure where the body needs to be cut or traumatized. Arnica can speed healing and reduce edema (fluid build up around injured site) and bruising.

I usually recommend giving Arnica 30C or 200C to all animals recovering from any surgery as soon as possible. Sometimes it can be giving as the anesthesia is being turned off. I suggest repeating the doses three times for one to two days after surgery. This will often decrease any post-operative pain as well. For this reason, arnica is now administered after delicate cosmetic surgeries. I can reduce face-lift recovery time by half.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week

October 21, 2010

Damian is an adult male neutered American Shorthair cat.  He has all his shots and is feline leukemia negative. To adopt, please call Marsh Galyon at the Beaufort County Animal Shelter and Control Office at 255-5010.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Trick or Treat: Halloween vs. dogs

By Tracie Korol

October 21, 2010

The ghoulish holiday is just around the corner and with it comes a dog’s deluxe temptation of great smelling, forbidden human food conveniently packaged in crinkly bite-sized portions.  While most of us cannot resist giving our canine friends a little snack now and then, Halloween is not the time to succumb to your dog’s baleful stares that he-hasn’t-had-anything-to-eat-in-a-week.

Candy can make any of us nauseous in sufficient amounts, and dogs generally eat wrapper and all. Chocolate, in particular, is toxic to dogs if they consume enough of it. Gum, candy and breath fresheners containing the artificial sweetener xylitol are bad news, too. Some dogs with less discriminating tastes will find Halloween make-up and pumpkin pie-scented candles equally edible. The day after Halloween, you may find broken eggs strewn on lawns and streets—yet another temptation your dog should not be allowed to eat.

Although it’s nice to want to include your Best Friend in Halloween festivities, most dogs are happier in the quiet comfort of their home. Dogs that are easily aroused to territorial barking should not be allowed to sit by a window and watch trick-or-treaters approach. It’s asking for trouble. You want to do all you can to reduce the risk that your dog may bite a perceived intruder, bolt out the door and knock over a toddler or run clean away to get away from the fracas. Consider confining your dog in a quiet part of the house, in his crate, with a dog-worthy treat of his own—a Kong filled with peanut butter, liverwurst or cheese. Just like the 4th of July, Halloween is a big day at the shelter. Make sure your pets are wearing their collars and ID tags in case they bolt. (That goes for all my cat friends, too.)

If you are insistent upon taking your dog with you for trick-or-treating, do it only during daylight hours and only if your dog clearly enjoys the chaos of squealing, costumed children. Keep an eye on your dog and be alert for signs of stress. Don’t force a dog to accept attentions from anyone he appears frightened by, and don’t force anyone who is afraid of your dog to greet him. Kids can be sugared up and over-excited on Halloween and an unwelcome greeting by an overexcited unknown dog may be likely to elicit inappropriate behavior from any child. And never ring a doorbell with your dog at your side. The resident dog may have very strong feelings about strange dogs on his turf. Better to wait together at the end of the driveway.

Don’t leave your dog unattended outside, even briefly, on Halloween. Dogs contained in fenced yards are not necessarily safe. Eggs, candy, and other materials may be thrown at the dog and consumed. Less benign items—stones, sticks–may be thrown with intent to do serious damage. Sadly, many animals – especially black cats and dogs—are the objects of serious, malicious abuse on this holiday. Miscreant youths may leave fence gates ajar or enter fenced areas, even if “beware of dog” signs are posted. Especially on Halloween, when visitors may be numerous and upsetting to the resident dog, make sure your dog does not have unsupervised access to visitors, nor they to him.

Resist the temptation to dress up the dog, unless you are absolutely certain that he won’t find it distressing. I have never met a dog that didn’t absolutely hate wearing a bunchy, hot costume. While he may like the initial attention and squealing from his humans and be a very good sport for a while, most likely he will stress.  Be sensitive to his comfort level. Never dress a dog in costumes that impair his vision or make it difficult for him to walk. As a rule of thumb, if your dog doesn’t normally wear a hat, glasses, antlers, hood, cape, wings or a crown every day, then he’ll probably be uncomfortable.  Get him a studded collar and tell him he’s dangerous. That’s usually enough dress-up for any dog.

Remember that dogs don’t grasp that Halloween is a holiday, and they may find mobs of noisy peculiarly dressed children genuinely frightening and traumatic. Be sensitive to your dog’s stress level and safety, and have a Happy Halloween!

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Thanks for Sharing

By Tracie Korol

October 14, 2010

No doubt this has happened in your pack: SmallDog, seven pounds of orange fluff grabs the chew and heads under the coffee table. BigDog, 75 pounds of mixed-breed approaches, eyeing the chew with intent.  SmallDog lets out a dangerous growl much larger than thought possible from something no bigger than a bedroom slipper.  BigDog backs off and you chuckle at the little drama. We in the animal communication world refer to this behavior as “resource guarding”.

A dog that defends his food or a treat from other dogs is exhibiting completely normal and appropriate canine behavior.  In the wild, where food equals life, the dog who gives up his food is a goner.  Dogs usual subscribe to the “possession is nine-tenths of the law” philosophy, so it’s generally not worth the risk of injury to argue over a scrap of food or a bone.  But all works out in the end, pack-wise.

While resource guarding is acceptable and understood behavior, dog-to-dog, it is far less acceptable when it’s directed at us.  For our own safety we want dogs to understand that everything they have is really ours.  I call it the “I have thumbs (and you don’t)” principle.  But dogs are confused by our ignorance of the “nine-tenths” rule.  Nice guys that they are, they’ll accede possession to their owners without fuss, most of the time.  But, every now and then our Best Friend may aggressively assert ownership rights to a precious toy, a tasty treat or a bowl of food.  Then there’s a problem.

Generalized food guarding is the most common manifestation and often the most dangerous as it’s almost impossible to control the presence of food in a dog’s environment. No matter how diligent you are, your dog will find the half-cookie between the couch cushions, the desiccated chicken bone on the street or the kitty deposit under the shrubbery.  We’ve all yelled, “drop it! dropitdropitdropit!” while the dog clamps down even tighter, plants his feet and shoots you The Look. When this happens it’s obvious he is not comfortable with you in his “space”.

Here are some levels of guarding behavior to watch for:

Level One: Ideally when you approach your dog’s bowl, he’ll stop eating, wag a bit and lean in to greet you.  He’s letting you know he does not perceive you as a threat to his dinner, or if he does, he doesn’t care. He’d be happy to share.

Level Two: A slightly less perfect reaction to the same scenario is that Dog looks at you, wags, and continues to eat.

Level Three: If Dog is a little uncomfortable about your distance from his food, he’ll tense his body. He may still wag. Watch the speed of the wag, though. If the speed of the wag increases as you get closer, paired with the tension in his body, he is communicating your presence is making him uncomfortable.

Level Four: As his discomfort escalates, so does his body language and behavior.  At this level you’ll see a glare (The Look), perhaps a bit of a snarl, or a low growl. He’ll start eating faster to prevent you from getting any of his food.

Level Five: If the food is portable, he’ll carry it away form you—under a table, into his crate—and growl at you from there.  If he can’t pick it up, he may nudge it away from you if you continue to approach.

Level Six: A serious food-guarder is liable to put some teeth into play at this point. A snap is the next step. No contact with flesh, but a blatant message of “don’t touch my stuff!”.

Level Seven: Here’s where the threat to your safety, or the safety of a passing child, becomes deadly serious. This may be the actual break-the-skin bite. Contact is hard and fast and pretty scary. It may also consist of a series of bites up the transgressor’s arm.  I learned this lesson the absolute hardest way when I attempted to remove a wastebasket full of spoiled dog food from the attentions of a determined, (intact, I might add), Tervuren. There is no warning.

Level Eight: Severe food guarding can be triggered at a distance. At this level, even a person’s presence on the other side of the room can escalate very quickly.

Rehabilitating a guarder can take a huge commitment of time, resources and emotion. I applaud responsible dog owners who are willing to make the commitment required and I cheer when I receive reports from those who have been successful in getting their dogs to share.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

The Label, deconstructed

By Tracie Korol

October 7, 2010

At some point in recent history we have been led to believe that combinations of non-foods, unknowns and chemicals are what constitute food for our Best Friends.  When I came to understand what “dog food” was really made of, I gained new appreciation for a dog’s inbred vital force and will to survive, and usually be in pretty good spirits, on a diet of practically nothing.

What follows are the ingredients from the label of one the most popular dog food brands, explained.  It’s directly the white bag with colorful drawings of vegetables in the dog food aisle at most major grocery stores. Here’s what’s in it, right from the label and of course, with my commentary:

Ground yellow corn, (Number one ingredient. That means that at least 95% of this particular kibble is corn. The percentage is standardized by AAFCO-Association of American Feed Control Officials-that provides model regulations for the pet food industry. Personally, I would be a little miffed at paying so much for plain old corn.), chicken by-product meal, (Pet grade meat by-products consist of lesser organs and parts either not desired, or condemned for human consumption. This can include bones, blood, intestines, lungs, ligaments, heads, feet, and feathers. This can also include the dreaded 4 D’s – dead, dying, diseased or dying prior to slaughter. Sorry, it’s true).

corn gluten meal, (This is the remainder of the corn after the best parts of the corn have been removed. Primarily used as a binder.) whole wheat flour (fiber source and filler), animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E) (“Animal fat” is a “generic” fat source that is most often made up of rendered unknown animal fat, restaurant grease, or other oils too rancid or deemed inedible for humans), rice flour (filler), beef (Finally, a real food! But look how far down the list it occurs. How much real beef do you think is included in this remaining 5%?), soy flour (filler), sugar (dogs like sweet things, too), propylene glycol (say, isn’t this antifreeze?), meat and bone meal (unless labeled, “meat” can be any meat, dead or alive, hooved, winged, or the dreaded Wild Miscellaneous).

Now comes the list of supplements that are added when the real vitamins are leeched out in the rendering process. I’ll pick out a few that may seem mysterious:  tricalcium phosphate, phosphoric acid, salt, water, animal digest (This is purely a flavoring agent. It is made of unspecified parts of unspecified animals, cooked into a goopy broth and used as a spray-on or is directly added to the liquid kibble mix), sorbic acid (a preservative), potassium chloride, dried carrots, dried peas (vegetables!!), calcium propionate (a preservative), L-Lysine monohydrochloride (known to hasten recovery from cold sores), choline chloride (an ammonium salt also added to chicken feed to accelerate growth), added color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 2), (These colors are added for your benefit alone. Your dog knows the orange-colored niblets are not carrots and the green-colored niblets are not peas.)

DL-Methionine (Acidifies urine), Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, calcium pantothenate (Vitamin B5 that synthesizes fats), thiamine mononitrate (B vitamin complex, found naturally in pork, organ meats, legumes, nuts, and whole grain), garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride (part of the B complex of vitamins usually naturally found in organ meats, whole grains and brewer’s yeast), riboflavin supplement, Vitamin D-3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity) (A Vitamin K3 derivative that is reputed to aid in “blood clotting”. It has been banned from use in food and supplements for human use in many European countries due to serious side effects, including permanent damage and death), calcium iodate, folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite (a salt commonly used in the manufacture of colorless glass).

Note: all these terms are Google-able. All references are from sponsor-free scientific sites rather than dog food manufacturing sites or natural feeding advocacy sites.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week-Mr. Socks

September 30, 2010

This is Mr. Socks.  He is male 9 months old Rott/Lab mix. If interested in adopting Mr. Socks, contact Beaufort County Animal Shelter & Control, 23 Shelter Church Rd.

Beaufort, SC 29906 or call 843-255-5010.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Building a Healthy Hound

By Tracie Korol

September 30, 2010

Where do you start? Most holistic veterinarians say the most important part of a canine health-promotion plan is improved diet (me, too); most trainers will say it’s increased exercise (me, too). Certainly, these two cornerstones of health are equally important and both need to happen ASAP.

Unless your dog is in peak health, and eating a home-prepared diet of clean and fresh foods, you can improve his diet. If you already feed a high-quality commercial product and your dog still has digestive issues or signs of food sensitivity—deadly farts, wet, messy backyard gifts, or chronic ear goo, for instance, you need to change his food.  If you feed a high-quality kibble, move laterally within the same line or to another brand of the same quality.  If you feed a low-quality food of the grocery store variety, then move up a grade.  Foods that contain greater amounts of high-quality proteins and fats and include a complete panel of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids provide more of the nutrients beneficial to our four-legged family.  An improved diet can make the world of difference to the attitude and responsiveness of a dog that suffers from chronically upset stomach or annoying ear itch.

Very few of our pets receive adequate opportunities to exercise as much as their wild ancestors did—or even their more recent ancestors did just a few decades ago.  Exercise releases endorphins, making the dog feel better.  It strengthens soft tissues and bones, burns calories and improves the circulation of the lymph system, helping to move waste products out of the tissues.  Exercise helps dogs feel tired, my personal favorite side effect.  Exercise is a tremendous boon to dogs that are chronically anxious, hyperactive or aggressive.

Wrack your brain and use your imagination to think of activities and safe locations to thoroughly work your dog. Ask friends and neighbors if they know of any fenced, open areas where you can take your dog for intense off-leash runs. When I lived in urban, downtown Ohio, I would take my then-dog, Dave, to a lighted tennis court at night for a hard game of “chase me”.  Even senior pets benefit from activity geared to their level of ability. A quick walk to and the thrill of scaring off the ducks at the near-by pond invigorate my current exquisite elder-boarder. I know it makes him feel like he’s still “got it”.

Try to reduce the number of toxins in your dog’s environment.  If you made a list of all the chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, cleaning agents, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from building materials, paints and fabrics your dog is exposed to, you’d be stunned, and that doesn’t even include the pesticides applied directly to his skin.  Use natural agents to clean your home, open the windows, keep your yard organic and rinse your dog’s paws after he moseys on public lawns that are often liberally soaked with garden chemicals.

Reduce the stress in your dog’s life. Sure, all he does is lie around a quiet house all day. How stressful can that be?  But look at it from your dog’s perspective: canines are pack animals, hard-wired to live in complex social groups. They are wired for stimulating environments where they have to solve problems, exercise, and use their wits to hunt and locate food daily.  While some dogs are content to sleep 18-hours a day, 5-6 days a week, for a social, active dog it’s like solitary confinement in a hostile prison setting.  No wonder these dogs bark incessantly or mangle the blinds.  If your dog is moderately pleased to see you at the end of the day and your house is intact, everyone is probably all right. However, if your dog goes berserk when you’re not home, or if he chews on the banisters, or goes into hyperactive overdrive when you come home—and this continues for 10-15 minutes—he would benefit from more opportunities to get out and de-stress.

Finally, medical surveillance, treatment, prevention and oversight are important pieces of the holistic healthcare program.  Ideally, every dog owner should establish relationships with both a holistic practitioner and a vet who has all the latest diagnostic bells and whistles, just in case. Having a team of both types of caregivers who respect and work well together best serves your Best Friend.

If you don’t regard your dog as perfectly healthy, mentally and physically, please consider addressing each of these areas to the extent of your abilities.  You may not be able to provide the ideal solution in each aspect, but every small improvement guarantees a longer, happier life together.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friend

Old Friend, Live With Me Forever

By Tracie Korol

September 16, 2010

Old dogs are our friends and protectors; the life-long love affair we have with them is priceless.  They have endured our foolishness, overlooked our mistakes and have celebrated our achievements alongside us for years.  They, in part, have contributed to who we are.  A kind heart demands we return to them in their dotage the attention they unfailingly gave to us in their youth. We cannot indefinitely prolong our aging dog’s life but we can pledge to enhance the enjoyment of the time left.  Simply, they ask that we guide them into a comfortable old age.

When does a dog become an old dog? Each individual, dog or person, has his own tempo for aging. Smaller dogs age less quickly than larger breeds and mutts seem to have more longevity than purebred dogs.  As dogs approach the age of seven, muzzles may whiten, the eyes may become a bit more opaque and chasing-the-ball time becomes shorter and less enthusiastic. As he becomes even older he may have trouble with stairs, his appetite may decrease, he may develop changes in appearance and he may get a bit crotchety. Sleeping becomes a major pastime. What can we do to make this transition easier?

Old dogs like hands-on love. Jefferson has been part of the family for the last eleven years.  He’s such a part of the household routine that no one really notices him anymore.  But now is the time to recognize his important contribution to the family by giving him special time.  Carve ten minutes from your hectic daily schedule to simply put your hands on your old dog. Listen to him breathe. Tell him he is The Best.  Gently stroke him, feel for lumps, bumps, warm areas, tender spots—any signs that a veterinary check-up could improve his health and your peace of mind. Communicate to him that you appreciate his place in your life.

Take care where your old dog sleeps. Older joints are less well lubricated; often it is painful getting up and down.  Would Jefferson be more comfortable on a thick, orthopedic foam pad?  Does Jeff prefer to lean into something when he sleeps, place his head up on a bolster? Is he less restless if his bed is next to yours?  When sleeping is an aged friend’s major activity, a special bed may be his due.

Obsess about his nutrition and health. Even though Jeff’s hearing has diminished and he creaks when he rises from the floor, he can still get himself to the kitchen with delighted effort when he hears his food bowl rattle. It’s still the highlight of his day!  Consult with a professional about geriatric foods, supplements and new ways to tempt his aging palate.  Anti-oxidant supplements such as vitamins A, C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine and MSM are all beneficial to the older dog. Sometimes a top dressing of herbs or spices or dry grated cheese is all it takes to make mealtime even more special.

Avoid stress. Jeff may no longer be able to tolerate extremes in heat or cold or drastic interruptions in his routine. With another season of festivities just two months away it might be time to consider, now how hordes of visitors, especially rambunctious kids and puppies may affect Jeff’s quiet life.  It might be time to designate a special Quiet Zone retreat for Jeff, still in the area but out of the traffic pattern.

Exercise mind and body. Don’t believe the old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Stimulate your dog’s brain with new teachings, new places to see and smell and new things to do. Stimulating a dog’s mind helps keep the brain in tip-top shape.  Choose new destinations for the evening walk or play “search and rescue”, a game all dogs love.  My beagle learned how to “sit pretty” (sit up) at age 12. At 14 she took great pride in conning for snacks.

Nourish his spirit. What does an old dog want? You, and your undivided attention. Love him today like there is no tomorrow.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week-Wrangler

September 10, 2010

Wrangler is a Hound mix approximately 3-years-old, who was adopted from us about a year ago and turned back in last week. Wrangler is a major sweetheart and gets along great with other dogs, but doesn’t care for the feline species. Wrangler loves the outdoors and would make a great companion to any families camping trip. For more information on Wrangler please call the Beaufort County Animal Shelter 843-255-5010 (animal id# 10-3220).

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Chain Free Beaufort Introduces Duncan

September 10, 2010

Duncan was turned over to Animal Control with an embedded cat collar in his neck.  Because of Chain Free Beaufort’s relationship with animal control, they immediately called Chain Free Beaufort to take Duncan into the organization and care for him. This is exactly what Chain Free Beaufort is about: helping pets and families in Beaufort County! The organization’s main mission is to help chained rescue dogs and educate the community on the inhumane and dangerous practice of chaining and tethering dogs.

Duncan is prime examples of why chaining is inhumane. He is one of many that suffer neglect of the “forgotten.” Someone placed a small cat collar on Duncan when he was a puppy, and then forget about him.  Well, he continued to grow, but the collar did not.

At only 13 weeks old (approx), Duncan has endured surgery to remove the cat collar embedded deep in his neck, ongoing medical treatment to heal his wound, mange baths to clear up his skin condition from neglect and learning daily skills he should have been experiencing all of his short life.  Duncan was left with a terrible scar not only on the outside to heal, but also on the inside. He is learning how to trust people again, recognize he will always have food to eat, and enjoy being a puppy for once in his life.

Duncan is just one example of what happens to the chained dogs of Beaufort County.  He is not the first embedded collar case for the vet or Animal Control.

People get puppies because they are cute and small…yet forget that most do not stay small forever. A dog is a lifelong commitment and should the responsibility should not be taken lightly. The decision to bring a pet into your life should be a careful thought out one, not an impulse decision.

Remember that you will have to teach a puppy EVERYTHING!! They have to be taught life skills, like where to go to the bathroom, what they can chew on and how to listen to commands. A pet owner must learn to be the responsible party and provide this guidance in a nurturing environment.

Duncan is safe in foster care and still waiting on a new home with responsible owners. If interested in adopting Duncan, please call Kim Bonturi at 843-812-6574.

Chain Free Beaufort is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Chain Free Beaufort works entirely from donations, and all donated funds go directly to helping the animals.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friend

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

By Tracie Korol

September 9, 2010

With this headline you might think I’d be headed into 1000 words about making good use of the county animal repository or calling up one of the local rescue organizations when considering adopting a pet. Sure, do that, if you haven’t already.

This, however, is about the plain old 3-R’s that some in this county do religiously and some never, ever consider.  Why is this a topic for an article about dogs?  Because how you create your personal lifestyle, caring for what is around you and how you can make it a better place has direct impact on your family and your Best Friend.

Reducing means reducing waste before you purchase it, or purchasing products that are not wasteful in their packaging or use. When you’re out and about purchasing products for your pups, take into consideration the amount of packaging associated with that product when selecting which product you want/need to buy.  Would it be better for your dog and the environment if you picked up a meaty bone from the butcher (or deer processor now that hunting season’s upon us) or do you really need to purchase the formaldehyde-soaked mystery shank encased in cryo-vac with a colorful cardboard hangtag that has been shipped from China?  A bone from a local processor is free—free from chemicals and contaminants and free from production mark-up that hits you in your wallet.

Recently, I’ve noticed several local markets have installed new refrigerator cases to store and display new brands of processed dog food.  Yep, they’re cold, and there may be pictures of vegetables on the labels, but the product inside is still factory-made, highly manipulated who-knows-what. But now, instead of coming packaged in a paper bag, these tiny containers (you’ll need quite a few to feed your Dobie) now require, hermetical packaging, refrigeration, indirect lighting, shipping in a special truck, payment for a special place in the grocery store and the fee for the celebrity endorsement. Chances are the manufacturers aren’t skimping on all the ancillary doo-dads associated with this human-fooling concept. Chances are they’re skimping on food quality while adding more garbage to landfills, using more petroleum-based products to package and more energy to refrigerate…yep, dog food. Please, don’t be fooled.

Reusing means just that: reusing materials in their original or modified form instead of throwing them away, or passing those materials on to others who could use them. One man’s trash is another dog’s treasure!

When exceptional dogs come to stay with me, part of their assemblage includes favorite toys. Expensive favorite toys. They’re usually cutely realistic squeak-representations of rodents, ducks or endangered species.  But does your dog know? Or care?  (Trust me, they don’t.) You can get a perfectly dog-worthy, cute, new stuffed toy at a thrift store or Goodwill that squeaks, jingles or talks for 50 cents.  If you donate the remaining $9.50 you’d have spent on a dog toy at a pet store to an animal rescue group, everyone wins.

Also, when your mighty hunter eviscerates his favorite plush bear, don’t throw it away and buy a new one. Re-stuff it! Your hunter will be delighted to see his old friend and be happy to gut him all over again. Is it time for a new collar or leash? Donate the old one to a local rescue. You can also donate some of your newspapers, old towels, baby gates, and other unused dog items, too. They always need help.

Recycling is the art of separating, collecting, processing, and ultimately re-using or re-manufacturing a material that would have been thrown away, and making it into a new product.  Many of the products and packaging associated with dog items are potentially recyclable. Earth911.com has a great website to help you learn all about recycling, what you can and can’t recycle, all about the recycling codes and numbers, where there are recycling centers in our community, and more.

One more thought. By adding in or feeding raw and home cooked healthy foods to your dog, you can really reduce the amount of dog food bags, plastic and cans you bring into your household.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week-Sally

September 2, 2010

Sally is a three-month-old gorgeous little tabby girl.  She was almost born poolside during a birthday party in Shell Hall!  Thankfully her mom Shelby was taken into a home, where she could quietly give birth to her one little kitten.  Sally has been lovingly raised by her foster mom since the day she was born.  She is vaccinated, spayed, chipped and ready for a family to love.  She has no experience with dogs or children.  Don’t forget her mom is looking for a home too.  We have so many cats and kittens coming to us everyday looking for a home.  Adoption special is $25 for adult cats and $55 for kittens. Call 645-1725 for info or to adopt.  You can email PAL – at director@palmettoanimalleague.org.

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Pet of the Week-Smokey

September 2, 2010

Smokey is a 9-month-old male neutered Sheppard/Chow mix that was surrendered to us at the beginning of August and is now waiting for a new loving family. Smokey is a calm natured K-9 and does well with other dogs and cats. If you are interested in getting to know our dear Smokey, Please contact the Beaufort County Animal Shelter 843-255-5010 with ID# 10-2883.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Salmonella: Pathogen Du Jour

By Tracie Korol

September 2, 2010

This week’s daily news segments about millions of salmonella-tainted eggs coming from US factory farms prompted me to make what I thought would be a casual scan of internet information concerning the causes and results.  The search led me through very formal, informational sites of the FDA and the CDC but also to interesting sites where pathogenesis can be fun (!). Dr. Douglas Powell, professor of Pathobiology at Kansas State University writes an amusing barfblog (http://barfblog.foodsafety.ksu.edu/barfblog) with enough solid salmonella information to cause you to pay serious attention to what you eat, where you shop and what you touch.

Bottom line: salmonella is a nasty little germ. It appears to live quite happily all over the place.  The trick to avoiding contact appears to be due diligence in food handling and plain old common sense.

As you know, I am a proponent for feeding dogs real food as much as it is financially feasible.  And as you know, I think kibble, even the best, is still fast food processed from creamed mysterious body parts and chemicals in factories that may or may not have good cleaning crews.

If you are a reasonably tidy sort and you personally manage what foods go into your family—and your dog is family, too—then you can be fairly content knowing that salmonella is probably not going to be an issue. If your food came from a reputable source (hopefully, a local farm), if you handle it properly and prepare it well, whether you choose to feed raw or choose to cook for your Best Friend, you should not be faced with the symptoms.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever, and abdominal pain. But know that infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If you’re unsure, a trip to the vet couldn’t hurt.

My personal salmonella horror movie occurred in my first year of kenneling when, for a treat, I gave each guest a pig ear from the great big bag from Costco.  When I opened the door to the kennel the next morning—though, not too much of a surprise given the aroma of the outer office—all 22 dogs had exploded in the night, all ports. Totally my fault and a lesson learned the absolute hardest way and before I even had a cup of coffee. All dogs came through well and were feeling better by bedtime but I now caution folks about giving preserved random animal parts to their pets for “treats”.

The whole food vs. pathogen contamination comes down to common sense and good hygiene practices when handling your dog’s food:

  • Store raw food in the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator
  • Store kibble in a sealed container out of reach of children
  • Don’t allow children to handle the dog’s food. If they do, make sure they wash their hands afterward
  • Properly wash hands, all bowls, utensils and contact surfaces after handling the dog’s food (kibble or raw)
  • Limit time raw food is held at room temperature during feeding to less than 2 hours and dispose of food left out for periods longer than this
  • Pick up your dog’s poop and always wash your hands with soap and warm water afterward

Note: In my pathogen search I also came across a list of dog foods and dog vitamins recalled in the last month, too, also because of salmonella contamination.  Apparently, toxic eggs trump toxic dog products in the daily news cycle.  If you’re curious what has been recalled, send me a note and I’ll share what I discovered.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week-Tybee

This handsome young man is Tybee.  He is a 2-year-old male, neutered Flame Point Persian mix that was brought in by his owner, because they have a new baby at home.  He has a bobbed tail.  He is a shy young man until he gets to know you but then look out because he likes to cuddle.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Friends Don’t Let Friends Have Litters

Part Three: Common Sense

By Tracie Korol

August 26, 2010

Last year, over 12 million dogs were killed in animal facilities in the United States, and this figure does not include the many pets who were thrown out of cars, left by the side of the road, or dropped in woods and fields. Yet we continue to sidestep common sense and perpetuate their destruction. Which of these myths do you still believe?

My dog will become fat and lazy if neutered.

Common sense: Fat animals are fat because they are overfed and under exercised.  Did your brother-in-law become fat and lazy because he had a vasectomy? Or did he get that way because has cheese fries with every meal and he hasn’t been off the couch since the Clinton administration?

My dog won’t be a good watchdog if I neuter him.

Common sense: If he was a good watchdog before the surgery, he will be a good watchdog after the surgery.  He will only be losing his gonads, not part of his brain.

My dog will feel liked she’s missed something if she doesn’t have a litter.

Common sense: As much as we might think of our dogs as peers, they are still animals.  Dogs mate simply as a physiological response. There’s no dating involved, no wine and soft music, no Facebook flirting.  There’s absolutely no thought involved, whatsoever.  Consequently, there is no pining after lost love and missed opportunity.  Dogs are just not wired that way.  Having a litter is a physiological result of mating. A dog that snacks in the cat box just does not have the mental capacity to feel parentally unfulfilled.

Preventing dogs from having litters is unnatural.

Common sense: Humans first interfered with nature by domesticating dogs and then by breeding them to suit their purposes. The original canid, essentially the wolf, is a far cry from current dogs bred to herd, sport and lay around the house in sweaters.  We domesticated dogs 15,000 years ago and in doing so, created the problem.  Now, it’s our responsibility to solve it.  Note: it’s also unnatural to be killing thousands of unwanted dogs in shelters every year.

We don’t need to neuter males, because they aren’t the ones having the litters.

Common sense: This is the most prevalent myth yet is the most ridiculous. Immaculate conception doesn’t explain canine pregnancies. It takes two to tango.

I want my children to see the miracle of birth.

Common sense: Frequently animals go off by themselves to give birth, usually in the middle of the night. Teach your children instead about humaneness and kindness to all living creatures by educating them about the importance of spaying and neutering.

I can find “good” homes for all the puppies my female gives birth to.

Common sense: Finding truly good, lasting homes for puppies is very difficult. Many pets are taken to the pound or otherwise discarded once they start to grow bigger, take more time, make messes, or chew up something valuable.

And, who is to ensure that your pet’s offspring won’t mature, breed, and contribute to the existing problem? There is no way you can guarantee these animals will be spayed or neutered. For every animal you bring into the world, at least one at the pound will die. Do yourself a favor and avoid the agonizing job of trying to find homes for your pet’s litter. If you know your friends can provide good homes, send them to adopt at the pound. There are many animals waiting there. And their time is running out.

The operation costs too much money.

Common sense: You’re right. In this community, it costs way too much.

If you shop around, you’ll find one vet in town who provides exceptional care and gets the job done for an extremely reasonable fee.  Also, contact, SNAC (Spay/Neuter Alliance and Clinic) in Ridgeland.  They have a long waiting list so make an appointment before you get the new puppy.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week

August 19, 2010

JJ is a 12-week-old orange tabby.  He is a perfect kitten!  He is curious,

playful, loves children, loves dog and loves other cats.  He is neutered and

is current on his vaccinations and has a microchip.  JJ is ready for his new

home and family.  To meet JJ, please call Palmetto Animal League at 645-1725 or email director@palmettoanimalleague.org.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Friends Don’t Let Friends Have Litters: Part Two

By Tracie Korol

August 19, 2010

Health. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), 6 to 8 million dogs (and cats) enter shelters each year, and at least half of them are euthanized.  The HSUS calculates that a fertile dog can produce two litters of 6-10 pups in a year.  If you are up to the math, that means that the female and her offspring can theoretically produce 67,000 unwanted dogs over a span of six years.  If you take a casual drive around Beaufort County, you might assume that most of them live here.

While I would like to see every pet neutered or spayed and would like to create a case that it is THE only right thing to do, I would be remiss if I did not share the entire picture of spay/neuter effects on a dog’s health.  It is a controversial topic with veterinarians and dog professionals.

On the Let’s Get Neutered! front, any ailment associated with an active reproductive tract will be eliminated.  That means that pyometra (infection of the uterus) and testicular cancer does not occur, as the parts affected are just not there. Protastatic cancer is greatly reduced, as is mammary cancer. In fact, intact female dogs have seven times the risk of developing mammary tumors than do females spayed early in life.

However, on the other side, in both males and females, early spay/neuter procedures may increase the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer).  This is a cancer found in medium/large and large breeds.  A 2002 study at the University of Purdue of 683 Rottweilers-a breed known to be at high risk for osteosarcoma-concluded that the risk for bone cancer was significantly influenced by the dogs’ ages at sterilization.  For an at-risk breed, postponing spay/neuter until the second year was suggested.

In females there is a 4-20% increase in what is colloquially termed “spay incontinence” or more colloquially, the dog that dribbles.  Studies show that this occurs in dogs spayed early, from 6-14 weeks, in what is termed pediatric neutering.   Fortunately, this is a condition easily controlled by medication and homeopathy.

So, is this an argument NOT to spay or neuter your pet? For those of us who have spent time in animal shelters and who have witnessed the misery of abandoned dogs, let alone the euthanization procedure, there is absolutely no reason not to neuter your pet.  However, if you are concerned about the risks of potential medical complications, you may wish to wait until your dog is at least 6 months old or, for females, wait until she has gone through her first estrus, for surgery.

As for the surgery itself, the medical benefits of having your dog spayed or neutered far outweigh the slight risk involved with undergoing anesthesia. Modern veterinary procedures employ equipment that monitors heart and respiratory rates during surgery, ensuring the patient is doing just fine. If you are concerned you can always consult your vet, but remember, this is a routine operation.

Normally, your vet will tell you to withhold food and water from your dog for 12 hours before the operation. Most dogs go home the same day, but sometimes your vet may prefer to keep a pet in slightly longer if they are still very sleepy.

After the operation, dogs should be confined to the house for a few days, kept quiet and prevented from jumping, or biting at their sutures. Your vet will discuss post-operative care, including when the sutures will be removed.

Next week:  Spay/neuter and common sense

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Friends Don’t Let Friends Have Litters

By Tracie Korol

August 12, 2010

The tagline for my all-things-dog consultancy, wholeDog, is “behavior. health. common sense.”   With those three concepts in play, I believe it is impossible to have a bad dog, a sick dog or a dog that creates problems for his community.

This three-part series will tackle the topic of neutering your pet from these categories.

Behavior. A male dog that remains intact experiences a huge increase in testosterone in adolescence. At several months of age, the male’s testosterone level can be several times that of an adult male! This gives a real jump-start to hormone-related behaviors, including urine marking, aggression toward other male dogs, territorial aggression, and escape-oriented behavior in order to roam.

How many of us have been at a party when the conversation amongst the male guests leans toward who has the biggest boat, the biggest engine in his truck, or who (and this is from my Vermont years) has a portable saw mill.  This is the human male equivalent of male dog marking, or as I like to call it, though I don’t always phrase it so politely, “whizzing on table legs”.   It’s undesirable in your dog and tedious at a dinner party.  I will not accept an intact male as a home boarding guest as he will, guaranteed, pee on the corner of my couch.  While I can make light of the “Elvis is in the building” concept, it’s icky.

Intact male dogs tend to have more difficulty concentrating on tasks and show erratic behavior in the vicinity of a female dog in heat. Intact males may not be able to eat or sleep when a female dog in heat is in the same neighborhood.  Jumping fences to go after the girl down the street is common, even in dogs that have never roamed before.

Your 1 or 2-year-old intact male dog may be acting like a neutered male in terms of being easy to live with, but chances are that if you leave even an easy-going fellow intact to the age of 3 years, you’ll see undesirable behaviors. The age of 3 is prime time for an intact male dog to be involved with a terrible tragedy, such as those dogs that have killed children. Obviously, not all intact male dogs are aggressive child-killers. But the risk is increased, and parents need to know this, as does everyone who has a large-breed male dog. If you don’t have an important reason for breeding the dog, and the right facilities to keep the dog from harming anyone, why live with this increased risk?

If you want to take your dog out and about, whether for family outings, runs at the beach, or pursuit of dog sports such as agility, the dog will function better if neutered. Dogs are much more the victims of their own instincts than humans, less able to override impulses.

Female dogs, like males, have an increased risk of aggression if left intact. Estrus can cause moodiness, and hormone changes in pregnancy can make some females downright aggressive.  Her attitude can change overnight.  That’s why there is an entire human industry based on PMS.

With estrus, intact female dogs may show erratic behavior, signs of pain that may be similar to cramping in humans, and a greatly increased propensity to get out of the house or fenced yard. Some dogs stay clean, while others may leave stains around the house. (Again, icky.) You won’t be able to leave her outdoors unsupervised for even a second because the scent of her urine and she will urinate quite frequently, attracts males from a mile or so away.  That’s when skanky unknown male dogs begin to lounge around in your driveway.

Spaying the dog prior to ever getting pregnant can spare her temperament from sometimes-dramatic deterioration. Two or more female dogs in the same home will in many cases not be able to get along, especially if one or more of them are intact. If you wait until the fighting has already begun, fighting may become a habit that will not be changed with the relief of the hormone pressures when you spay.  Spaying dogs before they are fully mature increases the chance of them living together in peace.

Most dogs have careers as companions to humans. Through this labor of love, they enrich and even extend our lives. Spay/neuter makes it easier for us to responsibly care for dogs, and increases the enjoyable activities our dogs and we can do together.  Next week: health benefits of spay/neuter.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week- Bailey

August 5, 2010

Hello, This is Bailey, and she has been at the shelter since March 2010 after being found stray on St Helena.  When she was brought in, it was discovered she was pregnant.  She was placed in foster to have her puppies….who have all been placed in permanent homes.  However, Bailey has not found her fur-ever home probably because she is an adult- nothing flashing, and last, because she had been breed so many times that she has long teats.  For more information, please contact Beaufort County Animal Shelter & Control at 843-255-5010 or visit 23 Shelter Church Rd, Beaufort, SC 29906.

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Pet of the Week- Basil

August 5, 2010

Meet Basil!  Basil is a sweet Bloodhound mix!  She is a lovely girl at about 2-years-old. Basil is spayed, current on vaccines and microchipped. We don’t know much about her. She was found wondering the woods, and no one was looking for her; so likely, she was abandoned by someone who could no longer care for her.  She is dog friendly and fine with children of all ages.  The best part of this bloodhound mix is that the slobbering is at a minimum!  To meet Basil please call Palmetto Animal League at 843-645-1725 or email info@palmettoanimalleague.org.

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Beaufort Dog at Habersham to Host Second Annual Pet Fair

Beaufort Dog at Habersham, located at 24-A Market in the heart of the Habersham Marketplace in Beaufort, will host its Second Annual Pet Fair Saturday, August 14, from 10a.m.-3p.m. Among several activities and programs offered are pet photography, dog water activities and games and agility demonstrations. This event is free and open to the public.

The schedule for the Pet Fair is as follows:

10 a.m. – Nutrition 101 with Behaviorist Rebecca Ponce

11 a.m. – Preventative Medicine with Dr. Deborah Barber D.V.M.

12 p.m.- Problem Behaviors with Beaufort Dog’s Kelley Blackston

1p.m. – Healing Properties of Acupuncture and Alternative Care with Dr. Janice Snyder

2 p.m.- Pet First Aid and Emergency Evacuations with Dr. Deborah Barber D.V.M.

For more information on programs and services, visit www.beaufortdogathabersham.com, call (843) 812-5394 or email Beaufort Dog Owner and Top Behaviorist Kelley Blackston at Kelley@beaufortdog.com.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

An Equal-Opportunity Disease

By Tracie Korol

August 5, 2010

The mechanics of arthritis are no mystery. Ongoing wear and tear causes cartilage to deteriorate, and lubricating fluid to dry, leaving bones to rub (in mild cases) or grind (in severe cases).  Even different causes and forms of arthritis result in similar symptoms.  Except for the few cases that respond to reparative surgery, the disease is incurable.  It affects one in five of our pets with the incidence doubling in dogs seven years and older.

What with the high cost of veterinary care, the high cost of and inherent side-effects of allopathic medications, many of us are looking for more natural alternatives in helping us manage the disease and ease the pain.

The first, of course, is diet. Foods from the nightshade family—tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and white potatoes (not sweet potatoes), may increase inflammation and aggravate arthritis.  Clients report that by simply eliminating grains from their dogs diet improved symptoms, sometimes to the point that no other treatment was necessary. Quality grain-free kibbles can provide a good base when supplementing with foods that will help with arthritis–celery, ginger, alfalfa, or mango, papaya and pineapple for the tropical bromelain smoothie.

The second is to keep your dog as lean as possible.  Extra weight stresses the joints and makes it harder for your dog to get proper exercise.  A low-carb, high protein diet is better and is less likely to lead to weight gain.  Most commercial fast food kibbles are loaded with filler carbohydrates; read the labels and choose wisely. Moderate, low impact exercise, such as walking or swimming, is important even if your dog has arthritis, as it will help your dog maintain flexibility and well-developed muscles to stabilize the joints. If you have a sedentary couch pet, start slowly and work up gradually, as he begins to lose weight and develop better muscle tone.  It’s important to prevent your dog from exercising to the point where he is sore afterwards.

Natural anti-inflammatories: Fish oil, as source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, reduces inflammation. It is always my first recommendation when adding a supplement to a dog’s diet, for arthritis, skin problems or any other dis-ease that stems from inflammation.  When using fish oil, it’s important to supplement with vitamin E as well, again, for it’s anti-inflammatory properties.

Vitamin C is another useful addition for the immune system. Humans get vitamin C from what we consume, dogs can create their own. However, a stressed or injured body requires more vitamin C than can be naturally produced.  Ester-C or sodium ascorbate are two easily-digestible forms of the vitamin that act to protect chondrocytes that manufacture new cartilage, reduce inflammation and boost immune system response.

The king of arthritis nutraceutical supplements is glycosaminoglycans (GAGS).  This is the glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate we hear so much about for our pets and ourselves.  GAGS are important because they actually protect the joint rather than just reduce symptoms, by helping to rebuild cartilage and restore synovial fluid. Best to use them in conjunction with fish oil.

Herbal anti-inflammatories for arthritis include boswellia, yucca root, turmeric and hawthorn.  Nettle leaf, licorice and meadowsweet are also beneficial.  As my teachers explained to me, the goal is to get the herbs into your dog consistently as herbal healing is slower. Dusting your dog’s dinner with turmeric and proclaiming “Delhi Night!” is an easy way to start a gently healing process via herbs. Willow bark, a relative of aspirin without the stomach-endangering properties, is good for mitigating pain.

Eventually, no matter what you do, your dog may require treatment for chronic pain.  There are a few powerful nutraceuticals that can help but they should not be used with some other standard medications for non-arthritis related disorders. Best to contact your holistic practitioner for advice.

Dogs with arthritis will respond to acupuncture, and chiropractic treatments. Massage therapy is beneficial and is hydrotherapy. People who use homeopathy with their pets also report success.  Common sense solutions indicate that warmth will reduce arthritis pain. Thick, orthopedic beds that insulate your dog from a cold floor as well as cushioning the joints can also provide a great deal of comfort.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a trainer, dog behaviorist, canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week

July 29, 2010

Kittens, Kittens everywhere!  Jake and his siblings are looking for a great

place to call home!  Palmetto Animal League is full of beautiful kittens for

adoption and we want to make it easy for you to adopt!  We have reduced

adoption fees for kittens to $55 and that includes the spay/neuter,

microchip and age appropriate vaccines.  Adult cat adoption fees are reduced

to $25.  Please visit our website/Petfinder at www.palmettoanimalleague.org

to view many cats and kittens available for adoption.  You can see several

cats and kittens we have available in the cat adoption room in Petsmart.

For more information or to adopt please call 645-1725 or email

director@palmettoanimalleague.org.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

July 29, 2010

(Somewhat) Gross Anatomy

By Tracie Korol

It usually happens at the worst of times. Your fussy mother-in-law is visiting or a neighbor with rug-crawling toddlers has stopped by to chat.  Raymond chooses this moment to scoot his bum across the carpet, back legs pedaling, a look of great concentration on his face. To make matters worse, when he finishes his ballet, he swings around to obsess in licking his rectal area. Canine anal glands. Is there a less appealing 3-word combination than that?

Anal glands are two sacs (relative to the size of your dog) that are located alongside of and not quite below the anus, not far under the surface of the skin-at the 4:00 and 8:00 positions.  Dogs, wolves and other canids aren’t alone in having anal glands: cats, weasels, skinks and other territory-marking mammals have them, too. Except for skunks, which routinely use their scent glands for defense, most animals release their anal glands only when they defecate or when extreme fear causes involuntary muscle contractions that will expel fluid.  As I tell clients whose dogs have untoward fears of the vet, it’s more likely that they are being forewarned of danger because of the pervasive underfunk at vet offices rather than any shoddy bedside manner of the attending.

But it is these glands that make dogs smell fascinating, at least to other dogs. As dogs circle and inspect each other’s hind ends, they are savoring anal sac fragrances. This was critical in the Way Back when wild canids routinely lived in packs, and their survival depended on knowing who’s who, where they’re at, and how they’re doing. In healthy dogs whose diets contain sufficient fiber, anal glands do no more than give fecal matter its distinctive aroma.  But when sphincter muscles don’t exert enough pressure, or something blocks the flow of fluid, trouble brews…and Raymond does his own version of the moon walk.

The most common sign of trouble is the telltale scoot, an attempt to release the anal fluid.  Dogs may also lick or bite at the area in an effort to relieve discomfort.

If not treated, bacterial infections, abscesses, heat, inflammation and pain result.

In many cases, impacted and even abscessed glands can be treated at home, but it’s a good idea, especially if this is new to you or you’re just not up to that level of human-doggie bonding to visit the vet.  S/he will be happy to show you how to perform this intimate little exercise at home.

No one knows why some dogs are predisposed to having impacted or infected anal glands, but overweight and physically inactive dogs tend to have more problems than trim athletes.  In obese dogs fat skin folds may block pores and prevent drainage. It may also be more difficult for a fat dog to self-groom.  Small dogs are at risk simply because of size: tiny begets tiny openings.

One of the most important factors in anal gland health is diet.  According to Juliette de Bairacli Levy (Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat), most sufferers of anal gland problems are overfed pets. She maintains that if a dog has adequate roughage (vegetables, for instance), the problem is non-existent.

Richard Pitcairn, DVM, (Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats) lists three main causes for of anal gland problems. First, is overcrowding at home which creates inadequate space for exercise and exploration plus frustrates attempts to establish a territory. How many of our dogs live in tightly controlled household and neighborhoods, never get an opportunity to run off lead? How many spend their days on the couch waiting to be driven to, say, a soccer game, where he will sit quietly watching his kids at play?

Dr. Pitcairn’s second reason is constipation or infrequent bowel movements as a result of inadequate outdoor exercise. Third, he blames toxicity resulting from poor diet. To remedy the problem, Dr. Pitcairn recommends improving a dog’s diet and providing adequate exercise plus the opportunity to go outside to poo in peace (my words, not his).  Everyone needs some psychological “space”.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a trainer, dog behaviorist, canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Your Dog’s Health Pyramid

(Level Five through Seven)

By Tracie Korol

July 22, 2010

Paying attention to all the other factors affecting your dog’s health is the most important way to keep your dog on the road to wellness.  Often, no matter how dramatic the cure from a medical treatment, your dog is likely to return, sooner or later, to the dis-eased state unless you address all the other components. Years ago, I walked the chronic ear goo pathway with Tucker, my lab.  Yes, his ears cleared up with various medications, but we always ended up in the same place a month later. It wasn’t until I addressed other components of his life did the problem go away, forever. His problem helped me develop a protocol to help dog owners formulate a long-range action plan that incorporates whole body/mind/spirit healing for their pets. Last time we looked at Foundation through Level Four. Let’s finish it up:

Level Five: Hands on, eyes, in, eyes on

An extremely vital piece to the health pyramid is heart to heart—from your heart to your dog’s heart. This energy travels through your hands and through the positive images you think of your dog’s complete health. You transfer these positive thoughts to your dog via simple hands-on massage techniques. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t have to take a class. It’s simply a matter of touching your dog with positive intent and transferring to him, through your hands, your good thoughts for his good health.  As you massage your dog, imagine (eyes in) him grower stronger, happier and healthier. See him running, playing, smiling in the sunshine, playing ball or whatever your dog’s special sign of joy may be.  My beagle’s sign that all was right in her world was her flipping over onto her back in a warm spot in the grass, and rubbing it in.  It makes me smile, every time, to think of her joy. The final piece is to evaluate his progress (eyes on). Good observational skills and perhaps keeping track via a quick note on your calendar are invaluable aids in helping your dog achieve and maintain wellness. This also, needn’t be fancy. Simply: “no scratching today” may be all you need to chart your pet’s health progress.

Level Six: Chiropractic

You know how it feels when your back is “out”. It happens to dogs, too.  A musculoskeletal system with a kink in it does not allow the Vital Force, or Chi to flow as it should.  Often, a simple chiropractic adjustment can free your dog to balance and heal itself.  Many types of musculoskeletal pain and/or gait abnormalities can be eased through chiropractic care.

Level Seven: Boosters

I consider all medicines, whether acupressure, homeopathy, or allopathic drug therapy as “boosters” to pushing a dog toward a healthier state of balance—at least temporarily. However, for long-term health it’s essential that a firm foundation be established. Otherwise, the “cures” are short-term and the dis-ease returns, as it was with Tucker’s ears. Acupressure and homeopathy are highly effective, are natural and are based on the way nature works.  Used properly they can restore a dog to a long-term balance or body/mind/heart/spirit.

Core values

Through the center of all levels of this pyramid is the core, the part that holds it all together.  Everyone has a set of core values they believe in explicitly.  A person’s spiritual beliefs are one example of a core value, one that carries a tremendous capacity for healing.  No matter your spiritual preference, prayer—or what I call Thinking Good Thoughts—is always a good addition any healing program for the entire family, including your dog.

I am certain that when we are treating any animal for any dis-ease, we absolutely have to think far beyond the basic medicine we will use as the “cure”.  We need to look into the underlying reasons for the disease, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual—and we need to develop our own comprehensive protocol that helps both the dog and his family balance his/her mind/body/heart/spirit, for both the short term and for the long haul.  This pyramid is the protocol that works for me, my family—human and otherwise.  I encourage you to develop your own long-range plan that will bring your tribe to complete wellness.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a trainer, dog behaviorist, canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week

July 15, 2010

This is Spooky – Spooky is just one of many adorable kittens we have waiting for their furever home at Palmetto Animal League.  Spooky is about three months old, very loving and affectionate. He is quite lonely too and would love a home with other cats.  Spooky is neutered, has his age appropriate shots and is microchipped.  Palmetto Animal League has so many kittens and adult cats looking for homes that we have reduced adoption fees to $55 for kittens and $25 for adult cats.  Adoption inlcudes spay/neuter, age appropriate shots and microchip.  You can see several of these cats and kittens at PetSmart or online at www.palmettoanimalleague.org or call 227-2691.  Please rescue one of these loving creatures today!

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Your Dog’s Health Pyramid

(Foundation through Level Four)

By Tracie Korol

July 8, 2010

Over the years I have observed that in the big scheme of things, medicines play a very small part in the overall and long-term vitality of an animal.  There are other factors in play that affect a formidable role in health and healing.  Paying attention to the other factors is the most important way to insure that your dog stays on a pathway to complete health. Recently, I became acquainted with B.E.S.T. (Bio Energetic Synchronization Technique), a terrific program designed to bring a body to complete health, physically, emotionally, spiritually and neurologically. Six Essential Choices is one of its core teaching principles.

Naturally, my thought process zagged into the dog world and what number of things does it take to have a complete healthy Best Friend. I came up with seven. I’ll use a pyramid model for illustration, starting from the bottom:

The Foundation

Genetics: At the core of any wellness program is a solid genetic footing that produces immune-competent and socially adaptable animals.  Healthy dogs also need to have a body structure that is adapted to the “work” they are asked to do, and a biomechanical integrity that feeds a flow of inner vitality.  Some dogs are burdened with a predisposition for certain diseases and caring for them is more challenging than caring for a robust dog, no matter what system of health care you use.

Environment: All living beings–people and animals–deserve the right to live in a stress-free, pollution-free, toxin-free environment.  A “clean” outer environment allows your dog to meet its natural needs as much as possible.

Vital Force: For all of us, for whole body/mind/heart/spirit wellness, the Vital Force—or Chi, or Spirit, or whatever you want to call it—must be able to grow to its full capacity.

Animals as Teacher and Healers: The core of our relationship with our animals is to love and honor them as the teachers they are.  Your dog is your best model for natural, holistic health.

First Level: Lifestyle

The lifestyle choice of your household has the potential to affect the overall health of all inhabitants—you, your kids, and your pets. Smoking, for example, not only affects the smoker (and the smoker’s children) but also damages a dog’s lungs.  When a family eats a wholesome, balanced diet, the family pets benefit from getting healthy leftovers.  When a family participates in an outside activity or simply takes Doodle on a daily walk, all the walkers benefit from the exercise.

Second Level: Human-Animal Interaction

All animals–pets and people—crave interaction with other living beings.  Research shows that by simply touching an animal, heart rates lower.  Human conversation often becomes quieter with a dog in the room. Blood pressure lowers when watching fish in an aquarium. The more we touch, and hug our pets, the more we benefit. As we become healthier, so do our animals.

Third Level: Nutrition

The best food for all animals—people and pets—is clean and natural.  The worst food for our pets is the fast-food, highly-cooked kibble derived from diseased proteins, antibiotic and hormone laced meats, grains and hulls produced with heavy does of herbicides and pesticides, and feed sources laden with artificial preservatives and flavoring.  When you provide the best quality nutrients available, 90% of your dog’s health problems will miraculously disappear!

Fourth Level: Herbs

Many herbs can be used as vitamin sources, immune-enhancing supplements or as tonics or stimulants for various organ systems. Others can be used medicinally.  They can provide a full spectrum of impact on the Vital Force.  While I’ve found some herbs to be especially effective when used medicinally, I find they are most beneficial when used as a support for other modalities. (As I’ve mentioned here before, the herb-way is not the quick-fix way.  The effects are subtle and it takes time to see results.)

While not exactly herbs, I include flower essence remedies with herbs.  The flower remedies often have dramatic effect on a dog’s mental, psychic or spiritual condition.  I’ll combine them with other modalities to boost a dog’s overall wellness program.  For instance, Miss S has deep, non-specific fears of noises, new situations, and unfamiliar objects—no doubt seeded when she was tossed to the side of the road as a week-old pup.  Using flower essences, solid nutrition, consistent loving guidance and a hands-on wrapping technique, she is growing more comfortable with her world, in general.

Next: Levels Five through Seven and summary

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a trainer, dog behaviorist, canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pets of the Week

July 1, 2010

Spooky

Stewie

Spooky and Stewie are a two for one deal! Stewie (white kitten) is deaf and relies on her brother for much.  These two kittens are just three months old and are ready for their own home. They need a home that can handle a special needs cat.  The adoption includes spay/neuter, microchip, age appropriate vaccines and parasite control.  To meet Stewie and Spooky please call Palmetto Animal League at 843-227-2691 or email

director@palmettoanimalleague.org.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

The Most Horrible Day of the Year—for your Dog

By Tracie Korol

July 1, 2010

Last year I was a guest at a Fourth of July celebration. I brought brownies; another guest brought his Weimaraner.   As per usual for me, the party talk soon lost my interest and I went to spend time with the Weim.  He had been sequestered in the hot garage away from the festivities and was already stressing from being separated from his human. (Weims particularly dislike being apart from their people).  He panted and paced, refused all offers of treats or a walk and was generally having a crummy time.  Then it got dark.

The owner appeared and gave his dog a Benadryl in a blob of cheese dip. Within minutes, the homegrown fireworks display began.  The anxious, panting Weim became a full-blown sniveling wreck within a minute: he paced and screamed and then the antihistamine kicked in. He became disoriented, hysterical and had trouble standing up.  Hunting down a partying owner and offering advice about his dog at a beery funfest is rarely appreciated; I have learned the hard way. So I stayed in the garage, with the Weim, using hands-on stress-relieving techniques and Reiki.  While I was able to relieve some of the fear, timing is everything.

Based on that, here is some Common Sense to consider before the most-hated day in Dog World is upon us.

For many dogs, the first “wheee!” of a bottle rocket sends them under the bed, quivering from nose to tail. A few dogs, the hunters and police dogs, have nerves of steel and don’t mind fireworks but most turn into panting, trembling wrecks at the first loud bang. A dog’s hearing is 10 times more sensitive than a human’s, so logically fireworks cause pain.  The anxiety and stress are bonus miseries.

If you’re thinking of taking your dog to watch the fireworks with you…think again! You and your dog will have much more enjoyable evenings if you leave the dog at home. Aside from the danger associated with your dog being in the wrong place at the wrong time (dogs and fire simply don’t mix), the mass hysteria, loud noises and repeated flashes of light are likely to have a traumatic effect on your good buddy.  He not going to have a fun time trapped in a hot car, either. Leave him at home.

Best to leave him indoors where he is likely to do the least amount of harm to himself or your home, preferably a crate if he’s already used to being in a crate. The evening of the Fourth of July is not the time to introduce crate training. Imagine yourself being jammed in a stuffy confined box for the first time, AND THEN the aliens begin shelling the house.  Not fun.

Flashing lights can scare your dog just as much as the loud noises. Close the curtains and blinds inside your home and turn ON all the lights in the room. This will make the bright lights from fireworks less noticeable to your dog.  There’s also some small degree of soundproofing afforded by closed drapes, lowering the high-pitched sounds a tiny bit. Turn on the radio. Do a load of laundry, run the dryer. Create ambient white noise in the house.

There are also holistic remedies available that can mitigate your dog’s noise phobia and do no harm to your dog. (Noise phobia includes thunder, too.)  The catch is to administer the remedy far enough in advance of the noise barrage that he’ll be coolly unconcerned or soundly asleep before it starts.  These remedies will work only if you remember to dose the dog earlier in the day, say, the morning of the 4th, or the morning of a day afternoon storms are predicted.

Recently, I have affected a terrific turn-around for a noise-phobic Aussie with a  12-year history of noise-stress.  Within one treatment, Miss C went from her personal pinnacle of hysterical destruction—she annihilated a shoe rack in the closet—to resting quietly in the kitchen throughout a storm.  Sure, she panted a bit, would rather it not be storming, but did not stress to the point of hysteria for both she and her family.

If your dog has mild noise phobia, theoretically, a rousing game of fetch or a very long walk earlier in the day may tire your dog so he may be less likely to over-exert himself later if/when he becomes stressed from the firecrackers.  I’ve found, though, that fear trumps fatigue most of the time. You can give it a try; it might work.

And most importantly, in this county with its cavalier record of mistaken euthanization, be sure your dog has over-adequate identification before the Fourth rolls around.  Shelters nationwide always have an increase in lost dogs on the Fourth— dogs have been known to dig under fences, break through glass windows and doors, to bolt free.   If he manages to escape his confinement, the worst thing would be, well, you know what the worst thing would be.

Look at this holiday from your dog’s eye view, then do the right thing—for him.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a trainer, dog behaviorist, canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week

June 24, 2010

OK people – I have been looking for a home for too long!  My sister found her forever home and I want my own home too.  Let’s get it straight – I am a bit of a strange cat.  I want your attention but don’t touch me.  I am quiet and will stay to myself and yet I want to know that my people are there.  I want you to talk to me.  I won’t take up too much room in your home and really don’t require much.  I LIKE playing with the live crickets that make it into the adoption room where I live.  I am three years old and declawed. I need someone I can trust – and it will take me some time to get there but I have come such a long way.  Underneath this beautiful calico surface is a cat that is waiting to love and trust her new person.  June is Adopt A Cat month and in honor of this month my adoption fee is free!  If you want to meet me I am in the cat adoption room at the PetSmart in Bluffton.  You can call Palmetto Animal League for more information too – 227-2691 or email director@palmettoanimalleague.org.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Semper Paratus

By Tracie Korol

June 24, 2010

None of us, realistically, believe our dogs are going to outlive us.  We’d like them to age gracefully alongside us and diminish shortly before or shortly after we do. But it doesn’t work that way.  Tragedy will arrive in all our lives, some time or other, that’s for certain.  The best we can do is try to prepare and remember our Best Friend when we do.

The Humane Society of the US estimates there are 112 million pet dogs and cats, as well as millions of birds in this country. Some of these pets will outlive their owners and perhaps these pet owners have made informal plans with friends, neighbors or family members. But sometimes those who informally agree to take on the dog, just in case, are unable or unwilling to follow through when the time comes.

In order to avoid such circumstances, pet owners need to leave instructions for the care of pets and a short list of guardians of various ages who have been contacted in advance. If possible, people should also leave some funds to cover expenses, especially if the pet in question has health concerns. This might seem reminiscent of aging eccentric heiresses who leave millions to their cats to supply filet mignon in perpetuity.  Not quite. But it pays to be prepared.

You might designate a trusted friend, family member, or kennel owner who knows your dog, has proper facilities (meaning space to keep an animal, a fenced yard, or an actual kennel) and who is willing to keep your dogs together (if you have more than one), should an emergency arise.  I am listed as caregiver in five wills in two states: it is a tremendous honor to be asked to care for a beloved pet.

This person should have a list of emergency phone numbers, including those of your vet and of nearby family and friends who have access to your home and are well acquainted with your dogs.

In your personal business records, include signed and dated instructions designating your wishes for the placement of your dogs in case of your incapacitation, or worse.  List the name of each dog and the name, address and phone number of the person who has agreed in writing to adopt or foster that dog for the remainder of its life.  Check in with your designated caregiver every year to see if the offer is still good. Update this document at least once and year, and provide a copy to your designated caregiver.

Provide the caregiver with written authorization to obtain medical treatment for your dogs, should it become necessary.  Also provide copies of medical history, a list of any health problems that require regular attention, and written feeding instructions (“Barney doesn’t like peas.”).  In addition, provide your veterinarian with written authorization to administer treatment in an emergency, and place copies of that document in your Pet File.  Include names and numbers of all persons you have authorized to seek treatment for your dogs.  Both the vet and caregiver should have written instructions as to how to proceed should the untimely happen to the dog—autopsy, cremation, burial.  With the copy and paste feature of most word processing programs, it takes only a few minutes to draft a simple, cover-all document.

Some pet owners make provisions for honorary trusts for their animals that dictate a portion of the principal or income be dedicated to the benefit of the animal. The trust ends when there are no living animals receiving care. The amount of money left for a pet’s care should be reasonable rather than large, so other beneficiaries will not challenge the provision.

In an emotionally charged situation (your incapacitation or demise) a relatives’ solution may be to dump the dog at a shelter. Know that most no-kill shelters have waiting lists. It can take up to three months for a place to open through adoption.  If you happen to have one of the “dangerous” breeds—pit bulls, German shepherds, rottweilers—planning for his future takes special consideration. Chances are that if your “dangerous” breed is delivered to our not-no-kill shelter, he might not be alive by the weekend.  Let me stress the importance of planning if you have a dog with a “special need”.

Plan ahead and put your plan in writing. Semper Paratus—always prepared.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Wandering the Allergy Maze: Part Two

By Tracie Korol

June 17, 2010

When walking the metaphoric allergy maze each turn offers a different diagnostic challenge, a new selection of medications or methods and, ultimately, a choice that must be made.  Each choice can lead the way out (the cure) or down false pathway.  The only way we will know is to try and see where the pathway leads.  As accustomed as we are to The Quick Fix, a prolonged, investigative approach may present as frustrating and time-consuming.   A quick fix is exactly that: it is not curing the dis-ease and it is not helping your Best Friend.

Every maze is different. Each dog and each dog’s living arrangements are different so what may work for your neighbor’s itchy dog, may not work for yours.  Rooting out the causes of your pet’s chronic discomfort requires you play detective, looking for clues and asking questions.  Keeping a dog diary for a month can help. (“Oct 10—cleaned carpets. Oct 13—Buster chewing his feet.”)

Pathways may defy logic. When walking a labyrinth, you may have to turn left to ultimately go to the right. It is the same when trying to find help for your dog’s problem.  You may have to try myriad methods and medicines that don’t make sense at the moment to get on the pathway to ultimate healing.  For instance, I have seen localized skin lesions respond favorably and rapidly to chiropractic.  Buster jumped off the couch onto the wood floor and lost his footing, pushing a vertebra out of alignment.  The irritation to the associated nerve ending sends a buzzy sensation to Buster’s shoulder. It feels itchy to him and so he scratches and bites, creating a hairless, damp, soon-to-be-infected wound. Not an allergy at all!

Don’t go in circles. While you may occasionally need to retrace some of your steps in your therapeutic labyrinth, don’t continue to go round and round, especially if the results are the same.  (I believe Einstein had something cryptic to say about this kind of behavior.)  If your dog is on the third course of the same antibiotic with no positive, long-lasting results, then perhaps it is time to take a different pathway in the maze.  Try a homeopathic course or acupuncture to calm your dog’s overactive chi.  Consider a nutritional causality–has Barney been eating the same orange-bag kibble for the last eight years?  Consider environmental causalities—does Buster hang out in the garage when Grandma goes out for a smoke?  Does Buster’s blanket smell springtime fresh because it is tumble-dried with a dryer sheet?

Don’t panic. As you negotiate a therapeutic pathway, it may seem to be taking you deeper and deeper into the maze, but it may also be leading you to the way out. It may seem to be taking too long, it may seem that there’s no escape.

Corn mazes—endless curving, turning pathways cut into full-grown corn fields that people pay to navigate for fun—feature Panic Flags on poles that can be seen above the top of the corn. At the panic flag zone you have a chance to re-group, maybe have a snack, talk to others about their experiences and then choose your course with a clear head.  Same with a therapeutic trail.

Look for and listen to subtle clues. Your dog is your best communicator.  If you’ve changed his food (again) and he won’t eat, listen to him. It’s not that he doesn’t “like” it (it’s a dog, they “like” most things), more credibly it’s that he knows it’s going to make him feel worse and he’s trying to tell you the only way he knows how.  If your dog with the chronic green eye goobers sneezes when you spray on your favorite cologne, pay attention.

We need to approach allergies with an understanding that whatever treatment protocol we choose is going to require time, effort and discipline.  We may never be able to come up with a positive outcome using a linear-logical approach. The way out may only be on a wandering, exploratory path.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week

June 3, 2010

Dixie is a female Dalmatian mix that is full of energy and ready to go!  Are you ready to play?  Contact the Beaufort County Animal Shelter & Control, 23 Shelter Church Rd. Please call 843-846-3904for more information.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Wandering the Allergy Maze: Part One

By Tracie Korol

June 3, 2010

The more I think I know about dog allergies, the more I read and learn, the more experts I consult, the more confused I get.  Nothing I try therapeutically works with all my clients: some get better with minimal effort; other finally respond to the third or fourth protocol; and some become an on-going project using allopathic and holistic methods in tandem.

While the dog scratches on, it feels like the three of us—the dog, the dog’s human and I—are stuck in a maze, stumbling about until someone finds the pathway out.  While there are general rules that can lead us out of most mazes, each allergic dog has its own unique set of concerns and the pathway is likely to be different for each pet.

With dogs, allergies manifest as a variety of symptoms. The most common occur as skin irritations—itching, scratching, digging, and gnawing, often to the point of creating large raw wounds over large parts of the body.  Chronic ear infections are another symptom.  Occasionally, dogs will have respiratory symptoms like couching, sneezing or nasal or ocular discharge.  Food allergies may produce, in addition to skin crummies, vomiting and/or diarrhea.  Holistically speaking, I believe these allergic symptoms can ultimately result in chronic dis-eases such as arthritis, asthma, urinary tract infections and inflammatory bowel disease.

Allergies are the result of an immune system that has, for one reason or another, turned against itself.  Sometimes the result is instantaneous, as when a dog receives a food that contains something to which the dog is allergic and he immediately breaks out with rashy, itchy skin.  Baldrick, a mostly white, beagle-y sort of dog, suffered chronic red, hot, itchy skin.  One summer, while Baldrick was with me in kennel for an extended time, I tried (with permission, of course) to do something about Baldrick’s misery, changing his food to that which had no additives and specifically, no corn.  By the time Baldrick’s folks returned, his skin was pink, instead of red and his itching had subsided. Hurray!  When I checked back later his mom reported that at a family picnic, a relative had given Baldrick an ear of corn to worry.  Within an hour, she said, he was scratching maniacally, skin hot and red.   But this was an easy way out of the maze.

Conventional medicine’s protocol is to confront a disease with bio-chemical methods (think war metaphors) and stop the symptoms so the patient looks well on the surface.  The most common therapy is to use either a corticosteroid or an antihistamine frequently backed up with an antibiotic.  Recently, another weapon has been added to the arsenal. Originally designed to eliminate organ rejection during transplantation, it simply shuts down a body’s immune system.  It will also shut down a dog-body reaction to an allergy.  However, the side effects of all these drugs are hard core (ask for and then read the patients’ advisory that comes with every drug).  They work for the time the dog is taking the medicine. Once off the meds, the symptoms return. It can become a never-ending circle of medication and sickness.

The alternative and complementary approach to treatment recognizes the deeper constitutional state and restores order and balance to the whole animal.   Holistic practitioners work from a principle of Do No Harm, first of all.  A dogs’ condition must not be made worse in the long run simply to alleviate symptoms. Drugs that can cause more discomfort are not part of the deal.

The goal is to identify and eliminate the causes and obstacles to cure.  First, and most obvious, is to rule out skin parasites, or “guests” as I like to call them.  Next, we look at an animal’s environment; what also inhabits an itchy dog’s world? Is he assaulted daily by pollens, plastics, cleaners, pesticides, herbicides and cigarette smoke?  And then, we use the curative power of nature.  By eliminating causes and supporting organ and immune function with good diet, detoxification and supplements, the body will heal itself. Really.

Part Two: Navigating the Maze

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week

May 27, 2010

This is TyTy – and he is a lovely cat!  He would prefer to be an only cat -

he is not real social with other cats but he is certainly loveable and

social with adults and kids!  He is a young adult, current on vaccines and

neutered.  Ty is currently in his foster home and would like a home of his

own.  Please call Palmetto Animal League at 843-227-2691 or email

director@palmettoanimalleauge.org for more information.

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Pet of the Week

May 27, 2010

The pet of the week is Lucky, a 4 year old Lab/Boxer mix.  She is housebroken and well behaved. For more information contact the Beaufort County Animal Shelter & Control,

23 Shelter Church Rd. at 843-846-3904 or visit http://www.bcgov.net/Animal_Ctrl/Welcome.php

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

May 27, 2010

My Dog Eats Grass!

By Tracie Korol

My late dog, Dave, used to crop grass like a cow. He’d eat it with gusto, often the second thing he did once out in the yard. He ate grass so enthusiastically a friend referred to him as ‘The Ruminant’.  His habit didn’t bother me too much, since it didn’t have any ill effects on him whatsoever.  But I’d groan when he’d manage to hork on the carpet, not just once, but twice. Always twice.

Grass munching is actually normal dog behavior.  Dogs excel as scavengers. They’ll eat anything they find lying around, including dead animals and random pieces of god-knows-what. Their love of grass may have started early in the evolutionary process of canines, as they would entirely consume their prey, including the stomachs of plant-eating animals. When they couldn’t catch enough prey to survive, the wild dog was forced to seek out alternative methods of survival such as greens, berries and fruits. Wolf biologist David Mech notes that grass appears in 14-43% of all wolf scat found in North America and Eurasia.  Plant material in fox and coyote scat, including grass, is so common as to be unremarkable. Our Best Friends may have simply developed a taste for grass and plants to go along with their love of bones and meat. While they may no longer eat an entire animal carcass, their love of leafy green substances remains.

Another theory is that grass-eating dogs seek fiber, vitamins and minerals. If your dog isn’t getting enough of what he needs from his kibble, he may eat grass as a way to get what his body needs to survive.

Yet another popular theory is that dogs use grass as a sort of natural emetic: that, since a nauseous dog lacks the phalangeal structure necessary for the ‘finger down the throat’ move, he’ll resort to what he can find as an alternative. It’s true that grass does sometimes make dogs vomit. Tickly stems can irritate the stomach lining, and there have been a few occasions when I’ve seen dogs throw up a chunk of something indigestible along with a wad of grass.

Grass eating is nothing to worry about – it’s a life-long habit with many dogs, and if yours does decide that it’s no longer in his best interests, he’ll simply stop eating it. Please keep an eye on him around recently treated lawns, or anywhere where nasties like pesticides, snail bait, and bug poison could be around, as garden chemicals are highly toxic. Ideally, you’d be keeping an eye on him anyway if he’s around those substances, but grass-eaters are at higher risk than most since they’re more likely to ingest treated greenery.

If your dog’s grass eating is really bothering you, there are a couple of things you can try doing to reduce his desire to supplement his diet with backyard eatables. The easiest thing to do is introduce green vegetables into his diet. Green beans and broccoli are good for a start and dogs tend to like their taste. Supervise him whenever he’s around grass. Distract him from grazing with a voice command or more-fun activity. This is not a particularly user-friendly option, especially for off-lead walks.  Realistically, though, there’s not much you can do about your dog’s grass-eating habit (aside from denying him access to grass entirely, which wouldn’t be fair to your dog plus make your daily dog-walk more of an exercise in frustration than a relaxing stroll).

The consensus from experts seems to be that grass eating, although somewhat of an enigmatic pastime to us humans, is just ‘one of those things’ as far as your dog is concerned. It won’t do him any harm, and you can be sure that if he’s eating it, he’s enjoying it – why worry about such a simple pleasure? Watching your dog ripping up and chewing generous mouthfuls of turf with an expression of half-lidded bliss on his face can provide you with some unexpected entertainment, too.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

May 20, 2010

Top 10 Pet Poisons

By Tracie Korol

With various dangers lurking in corners and cabinets, your home can be a minefield of poisons for your pets. Last year, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, IL, handled more than 140,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances, many of which included everyday household products. We have the benefit of triple-digit IQs and opposable thumbs; it is up to us to keep our puppies safe. Below is a list of the top 10 pet poisons that can affect our best friends.

Human Medications: One third of all calls to the Animal Poison Control center last year involved pets ingesting prescription and over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements. Medicines are often sugarcoated to make them more palatable for us. That means they’re interesting to our dogs, too. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications accidentally dropped on the floor. It’s our responsibility to store our meds in dog-free zones and learn to move fast should we drop the bottle of ibuprophen.

Insecticides: In our effort to battle home invasions by unwelcome pests, we often unwittingly put our dogs at risk. Do we put the dog away when the bug-guy comes to spray? Or does Skipper “help” the guy who is hosing the foundation with chemicals? Another common insecticide problem is the misuse of flea and tick products—such as applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species.

Dog-Toxic Foods: We should know the usual dog-toxic suspects (chocolate, raisins, grapes, etc.) but did you know that xylitol, the artificial sweetener in gum is also a hazard?  How many of us have a pack of sugar-free gum lying in the console in our cars?

Plants: Common houseplants varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera are often found in and around our homes and can be harmful to pets. Lilies are especially toxic to cats, and can cause life-threatening kidney failure even in small amounts.

Veterinary Medications: Even though veterinary medications are intended for pets, they’re often misapplied or improperly dispensed by well-meaning pet parents.  Read all the directions and ask questions. Be sure you know what and how much you’re supposed to give, when and how often.

Rodenticides: Many types of bait, designed to be tasty and attractive to rodents, contain inactive ingredients that are attractive to dogs, too. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestions can lead to potentially life-threatening problems for pets including bleeding, seizures or kidney damage.

Household Cleaners: Everybody knows that household-cleaning supplies can be toxic to adults and children, but few take precautions to protect their pets from common agents such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. These products, when inhaled, ingested or absorbed through footpads of our best friends, can mess up the gut or lungs. Often these household cleaners are camouflaged in fruity or minty (read: yummy) aromas.

Heavy Metals: It’s nice to have dog company when we’re doing home maintenance chores. But be aware that certain compounds still may contain trace amounts of heavy metals such as lead, zinc and mercury. Lead is especially pernicious, and pets are exposed to it through many sources, including consumer products, paint chips, linoleum, and lead dust produced when surfaces in older homes are scraped or sanded.

Garden Products: It may keep your grass green, but certain types of fertilizer and garden products can cause problems.  Imagine this scenario—you spread a weed’n’feed on your lawn.  Moments later Skipper retires to his favorite sun spot, has a good roll-around in the grass and then settles down to lick his feet.

Chemical Hazards: A category on the rise, chemical hazards—found in ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool/spa chemicals—form a substantial danger to pets. Substances in this group can cause gastrointestinal upset, depression, respiratory difficulties and chemical burns.

Prevention is key to avoiding accidental exposure, but if you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Dog Hair Clippings Help with Clean Up Effort on Gulf Coast

May 20, 2010

In conjunction with Lime Lite salon, Beaufort Dog and Beaufort Dog at Habersham are donating all hair clippings to the clean up effort in the Gulf Coast.  The clippings will make hair oil booms and mats to soak up the oil that continues to destroy water quality and oceanic life along the Gulf of Mexico.

This time of year is the best to collect dog hair as a lot of our K-9 companions are getting their summer do’s.  Between both locations, Beaufort Dog can easily provide 20 hair cuts a week, many of which are buzz cuts or shave downs for the summer heat.  This provides a great opportunity to help out with the oil spill.  Please bring your pooch in to one of our locations and contribute to the cause. www.BeaufortDog.com or www.BeaufortDogatHabersham.com

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YMCA & Tail Waggin’ Tutors

May 13, 2010

The Wardle Family YMCA is proud to announce their recent partnership with Therapy Dogs International (TDI).  TDI’s Tail Waggin’ Tutors program provides a relaxed and “dog-friendly” atmosphere, allowing students to practice the skill of reading.  Every Thursday afternoon, TDI brings therapy dogs to Beaufort County YMCA to interact with children enrolled in YMCA’s afterschool program. This interaction gives positive motivation to children as they sit by, read to and pat a calm and gentle dog.

The benefits to the kids are enormous.  In addition to improving reading skills, children gain confidence and competence at public speaking as well as learning about trained dogs and how to have a great relationship with a companion dog. “This is a great opportunity for our afterschool students.  The kids seem so happy to just be around the dogs; I am really excited to see their confidence and skills develop throughout the Tail Waggin’ Tutors program,” says Kaylin Caron, YMCA Child Care Director.

Wardle Family YMCA summer camp registration is happening now.  If you would like for your child to experience the excitement of YMCA camp, stop in and enroll today ore register online at www.ymcabeaufortcounty.com!

For more information, call 843-522-9622.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Marketing Tricks That Will Cost You, and Your Dog

By Tracie Korol

May 13, 2010

Yesterday, on NPR, I listened to a marketer of carbonated beverages wax scientific that sucrose-laden sodas are good for children because kids tend to not drink enough fluids, and soda is a great way to make sure kids are hydrated. And fat and diabetic, but I digress.  Having owned a marketing and design firm in the Midwest for the first 22 years of my professional life, I know first-hand that what you see, hear and read, when it comes to what you want to purchase, is not necessarily the truth.

A trip down the pet food aisle these days will boggle the mind with all the wonderful claims made by manufacturers for their particular products. But what’s the truth behind all this marvelous hype? You might be very surprised.

Niche claims. Today, if you have tiny dog, a canine athlete, a fat dog, or a pet with a tender tummy or itchy feet, you can find a food “designed” just for your pet’s personal needs. Niche marketing has arrived in a big way in the pet food industry. Humans like to feel special, and a product with specific appeal is bound to sell better than a general product like “dog food.”  But the reality is that there are only two nutritional standards against which all pet foods are measured (adult and growth/gestation/lactation)—everything else is marketing.

“Natural” or “Organic” claims. The definition of “natural” adopted by AAFCO (Association Of American Feed Control Officials) is very broad, and allows for artificially processed ingredients that most of us would consider very unnatural, indeed. The term “organic,” on the other hand, has a very strict legal definition. However, some companies are adept at evading the intent of these rules. The name of the company or product may be intentionally misleading. For instance, some companies use terms like “Nature” or “Natural” in the brand name, whether or not their products fit the definition of natural.

Ingredient quality claims. A lot of pet foods claim they contain “human grade” ingredients. This is a completely meaningless term—which is why the pet food companies get away with using it. The same applies to “USDA inspected” or similar phrases. The implication is that the food is made using ingredients that are passed by the USDA for human consumption, but there are many ways around this. For instance, a facility might be USDA-inspected during the day, but the pet food is made at night after the inspector goes home. The use of such terms should be viewed as a “Hype Alert.”

“Meat is the first ingredient” claim. A claim that a named meat (chicken, lamb, etc.) is the #1 ingredient is generally seen for dry food. Ingredients are listed on the label by weight, and raw chicken weighs a lot since it contains a lot of water. If you look further down the list, you’re likely to see ingredients such as chicken or poultry by-product meal, meat-and-bone meal, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, or other high-protein meal. Meals have had the fat and water removed, and basically consist of a dry, lightweight protein powder. It doesn’t take much raw chicken to weigh more than a great big pile of this powder, so in reality the food is based on the protein meal, with very little “chicken” to be found. This has become a very popular marketing gimmick, even in premium and “health food” type brands. Since just about everybody is now using it, any meaning it may have had is so watered-down that you may just as well ignore it.

Special ingredient claims. Many of the high-end pet foods today rely on the marketing appeal of people-food ingredients such as fruits, herbs, and vegetables. However, the amounts of these items actually present in the food are tiny; and the items themselves are usually scraps and rejects from processors of human foods—certainly not the whole, fresh ingredients they want you to picture. Such ingredients don’t provide a significant health benefit and are really a marketing gimmick. You’d be better served chucking a hunk of broccoli in Barney’s bowl than purchasing a sack of kibble that has pictures of vegetables on the bag.

Pet food marketing and advertising has become extremely sophisticated over the last few years. It’s important to know what is hype and what is real, so you can make informed decisions about what to feed your pets.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

No Hot Dogs

By Tracie Korol

Apr. 29, 2010

It won’t be too long before this perfect spring weather takes a sharp turn toward sultry, steamy and mean. We’ll dress down, move slower and leave our dogs at home, right?

Common sense check: if you’re hot, your dog is hot, too. If it’s too hot for you to sit in a car without air conditioning, it’s too hot for your dog. If it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot across a parking lot or the sand, it’s too hot for your dog. He’s barefoot, too. If you’re sweaty and thirsty, your dog is too. He’s wearing fur and he can’t sweat.

Dogs in particular seem to be subjected to situations where their lives are threatened by too much heat and not enough shade or water. One situation, I’ve noticed, very common in Beaufort culture is people leaving their dog in the car while they stop to do some shopping or dining. While it’s a nice chummy bonding gesture to have your dog ride shotgun from December to May, you are fooling yourself if you believe that your dog is having a good time in the hot car the other half of the year. Even though your dog may enjoy a ride in the air-conditioned car, sitting in extreme heat in a parked car, anxiously awaiting your return is not fun at all, even if it’s just for 5 minutes.

Heat inside a parked car can build, in just a few short minutes, to as much as 40 degrees above the outside temperature. For instance, on an 80-degree day, temperatures in a parked car can reach 120 in as little as ten minutes, especially if the car is in the sun. Leaving the windows cracked helps very little and that’s only IF there’s a breeze. Factor in humidity and your dog doesn’t have a snowball’s chance!

Even in the shade, and especially in humid conditions, dogs need to inhale air cooler than their normal body temperature of 102 degrees to be able to stay alive. Dogs confined in cars where the ambient temperature and humidity are above tolerable levels will begin to acquire heat from the environment faster than they can dissipate it.  Overheated humans begin to sweat which evaporates and cools the skin dissipating heat buildup. Dogs, remember–fur-covered–have very few sweat glands to begin with and can only dissipate excess body heat via panting.  Movement of air over a moist tongue and airway surfaces increases evaporative cooling, somewhat. However, panting actually generates heat due to the muscle activity involved.  Keep in mind that as a dog pants 100 percent humidity into his confined space the ambient temperature and humidity of the car increases. It’s    S C I E N C E.

Signs of heat stroke are intense rapid panting, wide eyes, salivating, staggering and weakness.  Advanced heat stroke victims will collapse and become unconscious.  The gums will appear pale and dry. If heat stroke is suspected and you can take the animal’s temperature rectally, any temperature above 106 degrees is dangerous.  The longer the temperature remains at or above 106 degrees the more serious the situation. If you return to your car and find your dog to be highly agitated, wide-eyed and panting uncontrollably… start for the nearest animal hospital right away with the air conditioning going at full blast.

Even if heroic measures are taken he may die from massive intravascular clotting, hemorrhaging, cerebral edema and kidney failure. Really.

Heat stroke is a dire emergency and one from which many pets do not recover.  It occurs so quickly that your only response should be to get to the nearest animal hospital immediately… don’t even call first. Just GO!

Short-faced (brachycephalic) breeds such as Boxers, Pekingese and Pugs and dogs with heavy coats are at greater risk for heat stroke than some other breeds.  Also, age and physical condition (heart problems, obesity) lessens a dog’s efficiency in dissipating heat buildup in the body.

Please leave Sparky at home this summer. He’ll be happier waiting at home, lounging near the A/C vent, than he will ever be smothering in the front seat of your car.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.

She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Alternative Solution for Fleas: Part Two

By Tracie Korol

Apr. 22, 2010

Fleas spend most of their time elsewhere, not on the host, in the surrounding environment. Flea eggs, deposited everywhere, can remain dormant for months at a time and reappear as if on schedule. This means we must be relentless at hitting them where they sleep and reproduce. A staggering statistic I filed in my memory banks is that by the time you see one flea on your dog, there are 30,000 fleas in his domain. Wow.

There are several herbal products available that can be applied to a dog’s bedding, carpet, or in outdoor areas to repel or even kill fleas. Look for products that contain oils and/or extracts of juniper, citronella, eucalyptus, cedar, Canadian fleabane or citrus oil—the last two contain d-Limonene, which can actually kill fleas.  Last year a local manufacturer was marketing a pure cedar oil spray in a silver pump spray bottle. I purchased it at my neighborhood farm market. It was a terrific product; I hope it reappears this summer.  Also, a client recently shared with me that her dogs were no longer flea-meat once she replaced her lawn with oriental jasmine.

Garlic, added to your best friend’s food, helps support the immune system, skin and liver.  Pair that up with brewer’s yeast and we return to a tried and true remedy from our grandparents’ era.  Note: it is not necessary to add so much garlic to the food that your dog begins to smell like a delicatessen. That’s simply a waste of garlic; a tiny amount will suffice.

Burdock root, dandelion and red clover may be used to help eliminate wastes and allow a dog’s natural defenses to work toward repelling fleas.  I like to use these herbs in the form of a vinegar or alcohol-based tincture that can be added to food or water.  Nettle is a good herb for treating allergic reaction.  In its dried form a small amount can be sprinkled on your dog’s food. If he objects to the texture, it can be brewed as a tea and added as a liquid.

Some clients report success with natural topical preparations. The results vary. What works well for some may not work well for all.  (If it doesn’t work within three weeks, it’s not going to work.) Essential oils of cedar, tea tree, lavender, citronella, eucalyptus and pennyroyal (the last two are toxic to cats, by the way) can be mixed into a carrier oil and lightly massaged into the coat. Or they can be mixed with water, furiously shaken and then immediately sprayed on your pet.  A very simple remedy is giving your dog a lemon rinse.  Steep a cut up lemon in a quart of boiling water and allow it to cool. Use as a rinse or sponge it onto the coat. These topical preparations will only target the adults of the flea population (about 1% of the problem). It should not be your sole flea-eradication focus.

One of my clients is a great proponent of the flea comb. Spuddy gets daily hands-on time, a pleasurable experience for he and his human, the fleas (and eggs) are manually swept away and deposited in a glass of soapy water.  Another tool to use while combing is a Chapstick. Run a flea down and glue it to the end. Victory!

Outdoor flea populations (the other 99% non-adult fleas) can be controlled by keeping the grass short, and clearing the yard of leaf cover that harbors eggs, larvae and pupae.  Flood with your garden hose any outdoor areas where your dog tends to hang; this drowns adult fleas and will kill smaller broods.

Indoors, vacuum like my mother, the woman with Electrolux in her soul.

Seal up the vacuum bag and put it in the freezer each time to kill whatever you may have sucked out of the carpet. Wash floors frequently and wash your dog’s bedding at least once a week in hot water. Years ago I had a client who had 29 dogs in her house (!) but not one flea. Every week she washed all the bedding and throw rugs in hot water and a special eucalyptus detergent she ordered from California.

Sometimes the answer to the problem is simple but takes one thing we are all seem to struggle with daily—time.  Time to understand the full impact of flea-killing chemicals and time to create a healthy life and environment for our dogs not just during flea season, but also year-round.  It also takes time for these methods to work.

Bowwow! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Alternative Solution for Fleas: Part One

By Tracie Korol

Apr. 15, 2010

When the days grow longer, the nights warmer, the flowers bloom and the fleas move back into town with a vengeance.  These tough, relentless survivors prefer a warm, humid climate but can thrive virtually anywhere, even places where they seemingly have nothing to eat. Fleas spend most of their time in the environment—your carpet, the groundcover in your garden and cracks between your floorboards—and not so much time on the host, your dog.  This is why many conventional anti-flea treatments fail in the long run.

Most flea control involves killing the tiny ectoparasites where they feed on the dog. Many people remain unaware of the possible downsides of using chemical insecticides on their pets.  Last week a panicked friend called for advice: she had applied a grocery store flea control product to her cat and within hours the cat was lethargic and dropping hair in clumplets from the application site. (Wash the stuff off the cat. Now.) She just didn’t know.

These products are not as safe as one might think.  How can they be?  These are chemicals powerful enough to kill ancient adaptable parasites that will continue to survive beyond the extinction of a thousand host species.  These chemicals are toxic enough to require manufacturing employees to be outfitted with respirators and protective clothing. Labels on these products warn us against contact with our skin, based on results from animal testing. Yet, when the beastie bugs of Beaufort return, we are suddenly comfortable with allowing these chemicals to soak into our dogs’ skin.

The holistic approach to flea control does not begin with insecticide sprays, dips or shampoos. It begins when pet owners develop an understanding of how fleas live, behave, and how they select their hosts. From this viewpoint, it’s the effect of fleas and not the bugs themselves that cause misery to our pets. Fleas are often merely one symptom to a more complex health scenario.

I have seen one dog in a multi-dog household tormented by fleas while his canine housemates are not bothered in the least.  Why is Host Dog a victim? Because the natural countermeasures that exist between flea and Host Dog are no longer in balance.  Flea problems don’t occur simply because a few fleas are present. Problems arise from health-related and environmental circumstances that allow parasites to torment a weakened host.

Fleas are opportunistic. They prey upon the weakest, easiest meal they can find.

They are not much interested in the dogs with healthy skins and coats. But they love those poor souls with flaky, dry skin that shed constantly. The root of the problem is actually the condition of the Host Dog’s immune system and the way his body reacts to fleabites.  For reasons that have little to do with the fleas themselves, the Host Dog’s body cannot repel or tolerate the bite.

So, here’s the holistic fix:  If your dog’s body is overburdened with poor digestion, inadequate waste elimination, over-vaccination, or food allergies, his immune system has no ability to deal with fleas and their saliva. This is why properly nourished dogs with well-balanced immune systems can throw off the effects of fleabites with little to no discomfort.

Sometimes simply switching from kibble to a home-prepared diet will bring a world of positive change to dogs that suffer from flea allergies.  Weeding out the food sensitivities and allergens can also present quick results.  The most common food allergens include some grains, soy, yeast and synthetic preservatives.

Adding fatty acids, probiotics and digestive enzymes are also indicated for flea sufferers.  Fatty acids play a critical role in how your best friend’s skin reacts to the introduction of flea saliva and other antigenic substances.  With proper digestion, nutrients are transported throughout the body and waste materials that add to allergic response are flushed from the system.

But we Americans are an impatient bunch.  We want the quick fix–by dinnertime, please, if at all possible. Repairing a damaged immune system takes time and regular attention, dedication and the willingness to try something new.  Host Dog may have to chemically treated again this summer while the changes in his lifestyle are implemented. But next summer could be the summer of no chemicals and no fleas.

Next time: Other natural solutions to fleas

Bowwow! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week

Apr. 8, 2010

Hello – my name is Bella.  I am a three-year old gal looking for my new home!  I am a bit shy at first but will quickly make myself comfy and at home!  I love attention from people!  I am friendly with other cats.  I don’t know much about dogs.  I am declawed, spayed, current on my vaccines and microchipped.  I am one of those cats that likes to be in the background and not the center of attention.  I think I would be happiest in a home with older children or just adults.  Other cats suit me just fine – I will ignore them anyway!  If you want to know more about me please call Palmetto Animal League at 843-227-2691 or email director@palmettoanimalleague.org.  You can meet me in the Bluffton PetSmart cat adoption room.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

‘Tis the Season to be Scratching

By Tracie Korol

Apr. 8, 2010

Many assume, when everything and everyone is coated in the golden filth of Spring, that our dogs start scratching because of pollen allergies. Some do. Some scratch because they have sensitivities to additives in their food and some scratch because fleas reappear to wreak their own style of havoc. But some dogs are allergic to dust mites and/or food storage mites.  These dogs tend to scratch all year. In dogs, dust mite sensitivity may exceed flea allergy as the most common itch-offender.  An estimated 30-80% of itchy dogs will test positive to dust mites.

A little background color: Dust mites are found around the world and became a problem when humans were cave dwellers. Caves harbored mite-infested birds and that is possibly where the first exposure took place. Dust mites are acarids and belong to the same order as the mange mites, which is why a dog may occasionally test positive for mange when it may actually have a sensitivity to dust mites.

Thankfully, because of increasing human allergy to these mites (and food storage mites), more is known about dust mites in general. They have translucent “skin” so they favor darkness. They emerge primarily at night and swarm around warm bodies, which provide food and a comfy, humid place to hang around. Dust mites prefer mattresses, upholstery, carpeting (particularly the carpet backing) and fabrics.  You might feel the need to take the vacuum to your couch and carpet today because of that sentence.

Less is known about food storage mites. They are present in dry pet foods and treats, cereals, grains, straw and cheese. They lurk in pet food bags and live on molds that develop in high humidity. Like dust mites, they can be responsible for non-seasonal itching. Treatment for food storage mite allergy includes changing to a home-prepared diet without dry grains, cereals, or cheese for four to six weeks and environmental treatment—washing out containers and shelves with very hot water.  Food storage mites and dust mites can cross react.

Whereas people feel adequate treatment for dust mites includes frequent vacuuming and “having the ducts cleaned”, nothing could be less true! The dust mite allergen we or our pets react to is present in their bodies and excrement so it is not only important to kill the dust mites but to denature the allergens, too. Since they live in fabrics, having the ducts cleaned will only rearrange the dust in the home. When our pets are involved, we need to pay attention to their cloth toys, where they sleep and where they lounge. Think, too, about the fabrics in the car where Roger rides to the dump with dad every Saturday.

Boosting a dog’s immune system will help him throw off the irritating allergens as will environmental treatment of the home. Homeopathic immunotherapy may be effective, too. Changing to a diet of home-prepared food and removing any suspect crumb-y kibble and dog cookies may help alleviate food storage mites.  Establishing a protocol for the environment may include starting with a deep cleaning. Heat kills dust mites so washing everything Roger is in contact with, feasibly, in hot water and drying in a hot dryer may help. A new bed every six months is better, covered in plastic or one of those mite-impermeable fabrics. If Roger sleeps with you, your mattress may need a cover, too. Certainly, you’ll be doing a lot more laundry.

Allergen-neutralizing sprays, usually odorless, are helpful in controlling mites in the home. The first treatment will kill the dust mite; the next round denatures the allergen. Mattresses, comforters, carpets and upholstered furniture need to be treated as well as automobile interiors. The toy bunnies and bears can visit the washer and dryer.

The dust mites are not going to go away. But we can be diligent and thoughtful especially if our dogs are forever scratching.  We can take the time to thin the dust mite herd so that Roger can live comfortably in his own home without constant drug intervention. A good Spring cleaning is a good start.

Bowwow! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pets of the Week

Chaos

Havoc

Havoc and Chaos is a pair of boys looking for a home together.  Havoc and his brother Chaos are about seven years old. Their former owner just could not care for them anymore.  These two boys are declawed! They have some special needs – they are in need of a diet!  They are overweight and need some TLC to bring their proportions down! Aside from the weight issue these are two of the friendliest and most loving cats ever. They are still playful and just fun! They love other cats and people equally.  Once you meet them you will fall in love!  Havoc and Chaos are in our Silver Paws program for senior cats and dogs.  The adoption fee is waived if you adopt these two cats – yes – we would like to keep them together. Please call Palmetto Animal League at 843-227-2691 or email director@palmettoanimalleague.org if you would like to meet Chaos and Havoc.

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Palmetto Animal League Announces Additions to Staff and Board

Apr. 1, 2010

In anticipation of opening its new Adoption Center at Riverwalk Business Park in Okatie, Palmetto Animal League announces the addition of Tallulah Trice as Shelter Operations Manager.

Tallulah brings over ten years in animal rescue, dog training and fundraising to the PAL team.  Tallulah has spent most of her career in the Chattanooga area and moved to the Lowcountry three years ago.  “I am thrilled to add a well seasoned veteran of the humane movement to our team – Tallulah’s experience and knowledge will assist us in moving the Adoption Center full steam ahead,” says PAL Executive Director, Amy Campanini.

The board and volunteers welcomed her officially at the Volunteer Sneak Preview Party at the Adoption Center March 7, 2010.

The Palmetto Animal League announces the Board of Director’s serving for 2010/2011.  Board President Pam Thomas Dyer, Vice President and Secretary Wendy Schlegel, Treasurer Judy Spooner and Directors, Joseph Baker, Andy Billesdon, Bobby Glover, Kim Malphrus and Mark Robertson.  In addition, Palmetto Animal League’s advisory board includes, Katie Black DVM, Sarah Bergin, Gregory Michael Galvin, Esq., Holly Golden, CPA, Lee Ozley and Gary Winters, DVM.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Bones and Contention

By Tracie Korol

Apr. 1, 2010

Dog owners who advocate the BARF diet, the unappealing acronym for “bones and raw foods”, (or for the more genteel among us, “biologically appropriate raw foods”), rave about their dogs’ beautiful coats, tartar-free teeth and sparkling good health when fed a diet that includes raw bones. But we’ve also been told that bones are dangerous, that dogs can choke on them, that they can cause teeth to fracture, that they can obstruct or perforate the bowel with potentially fatal consequences. Holy canine buzz kill, Batman! What’s the story?

Bones from prey are required by wolves as the major source of calcium and phosphorus for the maintenance of their own skeletons. Bones, in fact, are a surprisingly well-balanced food for canids” (Mech, L.D. 2003. Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation). A meaty bone also provides trace minerals that are embedded in the protein, fat and fat-soluble vitamins, plus iron and natural antioxidants that are found in the marrow.  The soft bits attached to bones (the cartilage and connective tissue) are highly digestible and provide nutrients deficient in grain-based junk kibble. Nutritionally, bones are win/win.

Regular bone-chewing also does a great job of scraping tartar from a dog’s teeth, keeping his smile white and his breath pleasant.  Tartar packed around the gums invites inflammation by giving bacteria a place to set up shop. Infections that can result can contribute to problems with the joints, lungs, kidneys and liver as well as give a dog breath that can strip paint. Contrary to the advertisements, kibble (even “special” dental kibble with pumice) no more keeps a dog’s teeth clean than a handful of cheese crackers will leave your mouth sparkling fresh.

The best thing about raw bones, in my opinion, is the joy that a dog derives from having a moment to return to complete primal dog-ness. A dog with a meaty bone will plant his front feet on the bone and pull the meat and soft tissue away exercising his legs, shoulders and back. Working a big raw meaty bone takes time, is an antidote to boredom, a tool in re-conditioning those with separation anxiety and most importantly, is pure dog fun.

Many of the dangers to dogs presented by bones are actually caused by chewing inappropriate bones. Give a big dog a big bone. It’s common sense.  Bigger pieces force a dog to slow down and chew. Max and Sana, great big dogs, bring what I call their Mastodon legs when they come to visit. Not sure where mom found them, but they are ideal for the size of her kids. Mom watches carefully to make sure nothing chips or fragments.

It is also unsafe to allow a dog that is a “gobbler” (one that hoovers up his meal in seconds flat) to work his bone without supervision. Some dogs may be so wild about their new treat that they’ll attempt to swallow the bone whole; some dogs chew especially aggressively, crunching hard to get at the marrow inside.

These dogs never learned the delayed gratification of a pleasurable chewing experience and need to be monitored during a chew. Dogs that have regular access to bones tend to chew more speculatively.

As in any effort toward bringing your dog to vibrant good health, starting slowly is the key.  I’ve seen five-week old puppies drag chicken necks off for a furious tiny-teeth chew; I’ve watched senior dogs bask in the sun while meditatively working a meaty soup bone. Start early, choose the right size bone for the dog, keep an eye on the dog while he works his treat and include raw bones in the regular feeding schedule. Once a week is good for starters.

Note: While there may be an increased potential for food-borne pathogens when using any raw food, chances are that your dog has already passed that milestone if he’s ever snacked in the cat box, consumed a dried frog peeled from the hot road surface or found something tasty that was manufactured by a deer.  It’s best not to kiss a dog on the lips, in any case.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.  She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit http://www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

When a treat is really a treat

By Tracie Korol

Mar. 25, 2010

To our dogs, food is love—and security, affirmation, and reinforcement. When we give our dogs what I call “high-value” treats—foods that are especially sweet, meaty, and yummy-smelly–the message we want to deliver transports to them through the treat especially loud and clear. From a trainer’s viewpoint I am ever appreciative of the ability of yummies to “classically condition” a dog to tolerate, and then even enjoy, circumstances that he previously found unsettling, frightening or threatening. It’s good to reward our dogs for a job well done.  Plus it’s fun for us to feed our dog friends something they’re crazy about.

The down side is that treats are probably the most likely of all dog-related items that we buy impulsively because the labels are so cute and the names are so clever. We don’t even think to glance at the ingredients. I would hope by now, faithful readers, that you routinely flip over the dog food bags to read the ingredient list, ever searching for the very best product.  It would be counter-productive to spend time and energy finding (or making) the best healthy food for your dog if you’re going to trash your own efforts at health building with low-quality, additive-filled junk food treats. Read the label.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find treats for your best friend that do not contain stuff that is not good for him such as artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

Healthy treats do not contain:

Artificial colors: Dogs are somewhat aesthetically challenged: they don’t care whether their food is brown or blue. Artificial colors are absolutely unnecessary.

Artificial or low-quality palatability enhancers: Avoid treats that use salt as a flavor-enhancer as well as treats that contain corn syrup, sucrose or ammoniated glycyrrhizin (a licorice derivative) and artificial flavorings like barbecue or smoke flavor.  Dogs are not as swayed as we are by the mysteries of barbeque and hickory.

Chemical preservatives: BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin, potassium sorbate, sodium nitrate and calcium propionate are chemical antioxidants added to foods to extend shelf life and reduce fat spoilage. These chemicals are responsible for the “natural bacon-y” texture of some doggy treats and the reason why, if you left a bacon-treat on the dashboard of your car it would still be “bacon-y” pliable a year later.  BHA and BHT are also used to preserve carpet. The FDA (U.S Food and Drug Administration) regulates ethoxyquin as a pesticide and prohibits its use in human foods. However, it continues to be used in pet foods. Propylene glycol is such a uniquely nasty chemical preservative that it requires it’s own call-out. It is used in pet snacks (and some human foods) to keep them moist and chewy, and to prevent discoloration in preserved meats. It’s also used as the main ingredient in deodorant sticks, tattoo ink, and is used in newer automotive antifreezes and de-icers used at airports. An interesting use for this chemical is to create artificial smoke for theatrical productions and training exercises for firefighters.

Healthy treats contain:

Whole-food ingredients: This means whole grains rather than grain “fractions”–wheat rather than wheat flour, wheat bran or wheat starch. Look for whole, named meats or meat meals—chicken, chicken meal–rather than by-products, unnamed sources (“animal” protein) or fragments. By-products and fragments of what animal would be my first question.

Natural preservatives: Vitamins C and E (the latter is often listed as “mixed tocopherols”) are effective and safe preservatives. Some treats contain no preservatives at all.

Natural sweeteners: Applesauce, molasses or honeys are better than artificial sweeteners, by far.  While dog food should not contain added sweeteners, a treat should still be a treat.

A treat for your dog should be a treat from all angles. Tasty, occasional, a little out of the ordinary and fun.  Try this—next time your eat a carton of yogurt, let your dog lick out the container. What a real treat!

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.  She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week

Mar. 18, 2010

Well Hello There!  My name is Marley and I am just too sweet!  I am all of 10 weeks old and need someone to adopt me.  I am smart, cute and playful.  I love dogs, people and even cats.  I am almost house and crate trained and it is time for someone to teach me to walk on a leash!  If you adopt me I come to you neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. If you would like to adopt me please call Palmetto Animal League at 843-227-2691 or email director@palmettoanimalleague.org.  You can meet me this Saturday at Petsmart in Bluffton from 11 to 4!

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

When You Go and the Dog Stays: Part Two

By Tracie Korol

Mar. 18, 2010

When it comes time to visit some kennels or interview caregivers, there are a number of things to keep in mind.

Vaccinations/Titers

Traditional kennels will, most likely, require proof of current vaccination. In fact, the American Boarding Kennel Association still recommends all boarded dogs be immunized yearly against rabies and the BigFive, DHLPP. When I opened my kennel a decade ago, I required proof, too. But times are changing. With controversy in the pet industry about vaccinosis (chronic diseases caused by over-vaccination), many kennels will now accept titer levels. Some are even more flexible asking only for proof from the attending vet that the dog was vaccinated for parvo and distemper before one year of age.  By the end of my time at See Spot Run I asked only for proof of vaccination of the puppy series and I had abandoned requirements for bordatella altogether as it proved to cause more problems than it prevented. I’ll address the concerns of the bordatella vaccination in a subsequent article.

Feeding

Many kennels and caregivers now require that you provide your dog’s regular food from home. The more continuity a kennel can provide during your dog’s vacation, the less stress on your dog’s system.  If your dog eats a home-prepared diet, raw or cooked, you should do as much preparation as you can in advance.  One of the questions to ask is if the facility has proper storage and refrigeration available for a prepared diet.  I adored the pet owners who packed and labeled each meal, replete with supplements and/or medications.  Another option is to organize supplements and medications in labeled pillboxes. You might also provide a separate list of the contents of all containers, just in case.

Cleanliness

In addition to your eyes, use your nose when visiting a kennel or caregiver facility. This was always a no-brainer for me. I never understood how or why a kennel would ever smell. If a dog messed on the floor, you cleaned it up. Immediately. Conversely, a kennel should not smell of harsh, potentially toxic cleansers or disinfectants. Good kennels clean regularly with a quaternary cleaner. Quats kill everything, from mildew to HIV and they do not leave a weird residual scent. Good kennels also remove the dogs from the area when they are cleaning.  I have seen facilities that clean with only hot water and vinegar. Sounds virtuous and pure, but dogs are grubby, germy creatures as much as we love them.

Safety

When touring a facility, look for safe fencing, double gates and other features that will keep your dog contained. If using a pet sitter insist he or she enter and exit in a secure fashion, say, through the garage.  I have been involved in the rescues of several dogs that escaped the pet sitter.  From a dog’s viewpoint, I would try and make a break for it, too, if all I did for two weeks was sit alone day and night. It goes without saying, I hope, that your dog be well appointed with identification—tags, microchip and tattoo.

Medical and behavioral concerns

Your caregiver should require you provide a medical history, list of medications, supplements, dosages and schedules, and contact information for your veterinarian or other healthcare practitioner. Make sure you are very clear that the provider does nothing of a medical nature—administer vaccines, flea and tick preventative or “just in case” antibiotics should the dog get a scrape or case of diarrhea. Be very clear in what you consider a health care problem requiring veterinary care.  In addition, be honest about your dog’s behavioral “quirks”—does he have separation problems, prefer peeing indoors or has he ever bitten anyone and why, for instance.

I added the service of CouchTime to my wholeDog practice specifically to provide an option for dog owners whose pets do not fit the medical or behavioral norm. I found in my years of kenneling that certain dogs simply do not do well in community: geriatrics, uber-miniatures, social misfits, young puppies, and dogs with extraordinary medical issues such as seizure disorder or paralysis. Sometimes all that’s needed is a little extra care.

When looking for caregivers, whether kennel or pet sitter, ask around. A personal recommendation is the best kind of referral. By preparing properly and asking questions, you and your dog will be assured of a good vacation.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week

Mar. 11, 2010

It is hard to believe that Usher is almost four years old.  He acts like a puppy – still!  This shepherd mix is all fun and love.  Usher is looking for a home where he can find his new best friend.  He just lost his best friend- an energetic husky.  He is a great family dog and really needs a home with another dog that will engage in all of his fun and silly games. Usher comes with all of the bells and whistles.  He is house trained, crate trained, cat savvy and knows his basic commands.  He walks well on a leash.  Usher is a great family dog or can be part of a great dog family – he is very adaptable – as long as there is lots of time to play!  He is up to date on his vaccines, heartworm and he is microchipped.  To meet Usher please call Palmetto Animal League at 843-227-2691 or email

director@palmettoanimalleague.org.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

When You Go and the Dog Stays: Part One

by Tracie Korol

Mar. 11, 2010

When deciding to share your life with a dog one of the last things owners address is what to do with Miss Beanie when vacation rolls around.  If a dog is new to your life the realization that she has to go somewhere when you travel hits about three days before your own departure. And then you scramble. Is it too late to ask a neighbor? Will Mom take the dog? Do I put Beanie in a kennel? Is it a good kennel? Should Beanie stay home? Can the neighbor kid come by? Do I want a stranger sleeping in my house? And, how much does it cost?

Ideally, before you are faced with leaving your dog somewhere (or with someone) you will have asked yourself some questions.  Does my dog have special needs (health concerns, exercise requirements, behavioral issues)? How does my dog handle change? How does she react to strangers? How important is her daily routine? You also need to consider the kind of diet you feed your dog, whether or not you vaccinate or check titer levels, and how you feel about having your dog subjected to different kinds of chemicals.  By factoring in your responses to these questions you can determine which situation is best for your dog.

Traditional boarding kennels

Boarding kennels run the gamut from filthy to austere to luxurious, still within the traditional kennel criteria. Conventional kennels usually have an area (a pen) for each dog with an attached run. The pen is where the dog spends most of her time; it may be roomy or more akin to a crate, or actually be a crate.  For exercise, the dog has an attached run to wander about in, may be walked around the grounds of the kennel during the day by an attendant or allowed to play in an exercise area.

My kennel in Vermont, built in the last decade, was a traditional kennel but with my personal touch.  Each of my “rooms” was larger by 50% than industry standards to accommodate personal bedding and/or armchairs (for those pets that lived on furniture).  I built in a hydronic heating system (which means the floor was heated) because it made more sense to heat where the dogs spent their time. We listened to Canadian Public Broadcasting and every Thursday was Bone Day. Within the first six months, I modified my exercise plan to better accommodate my clients’ needs and See Spot Run became the first community play kennel in the state. I fenced an acre with double seven-foot chain link, meadow and woods, and sunk the fence a foot into the ground to discourage escape artists. In Year Two I installed a pool.  We had a rocking time.

Dogs that do well at kennel are well socialized, younger and more gregarious.

A good kennel will happily show you exactly where your dog will be staying, feed your dog her own diet on her own schedule, clean scrupulously with non-toxic products, accommodate your dog’s particular needs (Barney sleeps with his blue bunny, Sadie likes her fuzzy rug), have a foolproof in-case-of-emergency plan and not smell. Of anything.  I have visited kennels where the eye-watering aroma of air freshener used heavily attempts to overpower the smell of old urine.

When your dog returns from kennel, he should be clean and happy.  Upon checkout, I had many dogs greet their owners joyfully, and then turn and trot back to the dog yard to hang with their buds. The owners were dismayed, but it was a successful visit for the dog.

Pet sitting

Some dogs simply do better when they stay in their own home. These are the canine social misfits I wrote about earlier. Most pet sitters visit the home one or more times a day and there are a few who do overnight stays.  Pet sitting may be the most cost-effective situation for people with multiple pets, especially if they are of different species. The advantage is that you don’t have to worry about diet or chemicals and someone will bring in your mail and water the plants. The disadvantage is that your pet will be unsupervised for long periods of time throughout the day and night. I have heard tales of owners returning home from holiday to find all the windowsills chewed off by their bored teen-aged golden retriever. A good pet sitter has a service contract and is licensed and bonded.

Next week: things you need to know

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.  She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz

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BowWOW!

Pets of the Week

Mar. 4, 2010

Coco

Coco is a sweet male beagle. He loves people and would make a great companion, as he loves all the attention he can get. If Coco sounds like the dog for you please contact the Beaufort County Animal Shelter @ 843-846-3904 and ask about him. His legacy # is: 295382.

Brandy

Meet Brandy!  This beautiful young girl was found roaming the highway with her other littermates.  Growing up with human interaction but no boundaries created some free spirit in this girl!  She has worked hard but she now is kennel and crate trained and is house trained.  She is one of the smartest dogs we have encountered. She is all love and adoration for people and is very quick to learn.  Brandy is not sure what to make of most other dogs so would be best with a family or person who has no other dogs or is very dog

savvy and willing to work Brandy into a relationship with another dog.  She is quite capable of it.  At eight months old she is still puppy.  She is spayed, has all vaccines and is microchipped.  To meet Brandy please call Palmetto Animal Leauge at 843-227-2691 or email director@palmettoanimalleague.org.

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Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Grandmother’s Wisdom in My Life: Part Two

by Tracy Korol

Mar. 4, 2010

Feb. 11, 2010

How do we apply Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s theories of “natural rearing” to our dogs when we are already struggling with the burdens of modern life? Time often runs short. So does money these days. And the last thing we want to add to either of those concerns is something to do with the dog. But if it’s easy, if it saves money and it has an element of fun plus, your dog will benefit, why not give it a try?

My journey down this path began 30 years ago when I dug up my charming suburban backyard and replaced grass with a vegetable garden and 200 varieties of medicinal herbs.  Traditional herbal medicine had all but disappeared in the United States when, in the 1960’s, a new generation began turning away from conventional therapies and began looking for alternatives. My mentor, Rosemary Gladstar, now one of America’s leading herbalists, was part of that movement. I studied, I planted, dried, brewed, stewed and experimented.

Friends from that time and my son, too, remind me, lovingly of course, of the cups of noxious murky brew I insisted they drink, the unfamiliar ingredients that appeared in salads  (“Say, isn’t that a weed?”) and the dark bottles of roots and berries left to brew on my windowsills.  They also remind me that while indulging me, they caught fewer colds, had more energy and meals were way more interesting. If Dave, my 30 lb. brown dog du jour, were still here, he would remember that he never had worms, fleas, itchy skin, smelly ears or gas.

It was during this time as well, that I began to distrust kibble. Not because it was a topic of commercial attention as it is today, but because it didn’t make sense to me. It didn’t smell like food; it didn’t look like food and it certainly didn’t taste like food. (Yes, I taste the kibble.) While Dave was content to crunch his way through a bowl of that stuff, I just knew in my heart (or my gut) that it wasn’t doing him any good.  In an effort to feed him better on the cheap, I made friends with the butchers at the grocery stores in my neighborhood, sought out the farm stands decades before it was the thing to do on a Saturday morning, I purchased a food processor and I got busy. I studied food, asked questions, called up veterinarians and became a general good-natured pest. Dave, in response, became the happiest dog in town. Not only did he benefit from his regular mealtimes, he often scored when he hung around at my feet as I prepared his food once a month. There is no 3-second rule for dogs: once it’s on the floor it’s theirs.

What I discovered was that I could feed my dog really well for less than half of what I was paying for a sack of kibble and a carton of canned food.  Granted, that was 25 years ago, but it still holds fairly true today. Meat processors throw out a lot of animal protein that we are just too sophisticated to eat, or touch.  Dogs have no pride. They’ll eat the innards and grin happily.  Juliette Levy was a proponent of feeding her dogs small meals of highly concentrated foods like meat and fish proteins (which included the oogly bits we just can’t deal with) and supplemented with whole grains, dried beans, green vegetables, fruits, herbs, honey and plenty of fresh water. Spending an hour once a month preparing good food like this, packaging it into serving-sized portions for convenience and freezing them for a month’s worth of goodness was a small gesture of love for Dave.

The financial reward for my efforts was that Dave never got sick. I never had to shell out for various parasite treatments, we never saw the vet save for the yearly once-over.  The emotional reward for my efforts was that Dave lived to be an old dog. As he was an off-chain rescue, I never really knew how old he was. But he was my friend and companion for 15+ years.  My dogs, dogs of friends and dogs of clients that followed Dave reaped the benefits of his good-natured guinea-pigness.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.  She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.


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Editor’s Note: Last week, Tracie Korol’s BowWow article #78 ran mistakenly before this article. Below is Part One of Grandmother of Herbal Medicine. Next Week, The Island News will run Part Two again. We apologize for the error.

BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Grandmother of Herbal Medicine: Part One

by Tracie Korol

Feb. 25, 2010

With the seemingly sudden appearance on the national scene of all things “natural” for dogs, one might think that holistic pet care and feeding a dog “real” food was something developed in an advertising agency, or at best, by a handful of revolutionary veterinarians.  Not so.

Today’s holistic pet care movement began over 70 years ago when Juliette de Bairacli Levy defined “natural rearing”.  Ms. Levy was born on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, almost in 1911 (actually 1912) in Manchester, England. She was raised in a wealthy household and was educated at Lowther College, one of the best girls schools in Britain. She went on to study veterinary medicine at the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool. However, in her final year of study, she decided that conventional medicine had none of the answers she sought and so embarked on a lifetime of travel and study with nomadic peoples, in England, and then around the world.

In the late 1930′s. Levy ran a distemper clinic in London where, at a time when many dogs were dying from this disease, she treated and cured hundreds of dogs with fasting, herbs and a natural diet. An inexhaustible writer, she published the first of her books about that experience, The Cure of Canine Distemper, describing the protocols she developed in the clinic. Puppy Rearing by Natural Methods and Medicinal Herbs: Their Use in Canine Ailments were reprinted for a wider audience in 1947. In 1955 she combined these works into The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat, the book that brought natural rearing philosophy to breeders, trainers and dog owners of the world.

Five Rules of Natural Rearing

Levy’s basic rules of natural rearing for dogs require:

a correct natural diet of raw foods;

abundant sunlight and fresh air;

at least two hours of exercise daily;

hygienic kenneling, with the use of earth, grass, or gravel runs (never concrete; and

herbs, fasting, and other natural methods instead of vaccinations and conventional symptom-suppressing drugs.

Holistic practitioners recommend feeding a home-prepared diet of raw food, including meat and bones, often using the diet of wild wolves as a model. Her followers feed a variety of foods including raw meat, dairy, eggs, minced herbs, and smaller quantities of fruit, vegetables, powdered seaweed, and grains such as oats, soaked overnight in raw goat milk or yogurt.  Levy credits kelp and seaweed with giving dark pigment to eyes, noses, and nails, stimulating hair growth and developing strong bones.

In addition to providing ample pure water at all times, she also recommends one meatless day and one fasting day (no food, just water) per week for adult dogs.  Where bones are concerned, she recommends feeding them after the main meal so that the bone is cushioned by food and other fiber to help sweep bone fragments from the system.  Her dietary recommendations are accompanied by traditional herb formulae for the life cycle of a dog: birthing, weaning, health maintenance, and disinfecting herbs that protect from viruses, bacteria and parasites.

Her early theory that healthy dogs need as much time outdoors as possible in full-spectrum daylight has been proven in countless studies of daylight and the endocrine system. Her early theory of healthy dogs requiring daily outdoor exercise has proven to do more than burn calories. It stimulates the lymphatic system, strengthens bones, improves immunity and keeps dogs smiling.

Cell biologist, James Oschman, PhD, in his book Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis of Bioenergy Therapies, links modern health problems to our insulation from the natural supply of free electrons that reside on the surface of the earth. Juliette Levy suspected as much knowing that animals will always choose contact with the earth. It improves sleep, reduces inflammation that causes pain, balances hormones, enhances circulation and neurological function.

Levy’s theories encourage us to think for ourselves and not blindly follow established methods just because we are told. Though she witnessed almost an entire century of technological breakthroughs, she advocated natural methods.  Juliette de Bairacli Levy died May 28, 2009 at the age of 96.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.  She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

Pets of the Week

Feb. 25, 2010

Are we not adorable?  We are Whiskers (black and white) and Peanut and we just love curling up together and napping!  We are about 5 months old and are looking for a home of our own.  It is not necessary that we go together but we sure look good cuddled up!  You can see us at PetSmart where we are residing along with our brother Willie until we find our forever homes.  We have all of our vaccines, have been health screened, are spay/neutered and have our microchips!  We are the sweetest and most affectionate kitties in the world and have been lovingly handled since we were orphaned at about 4

weeks of age.  We are all fun and pure entertainment!  We get along well with other cats and have been introduced to dogs.  Please call Palmetto Animal League at 843-227-2691 or email director@palmettoanimalleague.org. Please give us a home!

Pet of the Week

Here is Sassy!  This beautiful pit mix is about 18 months old and is ready

for her own home.  Sassy loves children of all ages and currently is

fostered in a home with cats and another dog.  She is incredibly

affectionate and loves just being a home body and is very comfy on the couch

all day long.  This behavior has led to her chunkiness and we are working on

shedding a few of those pounds!  Sassy is so eager to please her people and

she responds quickly.  This incredibly people friendly dog is very shy

outside of her comfort zone and we are working to expand her horizons.  She

is a great family dog and she is perfect in the house. To meet Sassy please

call Palmetto Animal League at 843-227-2691 or email

director@palmettoanimalleague.org.

BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Grandmother’s Wisdom in My Life: Part Two

by Tracy Korol

Feb. 11, 2010

How do we apply Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s theories of “natural rearing” to our dogs when we are already struggling with the burdens of modern life? Time often runs short. So does money these days. And the last thing we want to add to either of those concerns is something to do with the dog. But if it’s easy, if it saves money and it has an element of fun plus, your dog will benefit, why not give it a try?

My journey down this path began 30 years ago when I dug up my charming suburban backyard and replaced grass with a vegetable garden and 200 varieties of medicinal herbs.  Traditional herbal medicine had all but disappeared in the United States when, in the 1960’s, a new generation began turning away from conventional therapies and began looking for alternatives. My mentor, Rosemary Gladstar, now one of America’s leading herbalists, was part of that movement. I studied, I planted, dried, brewed, stewed and experimented.

Friends from that time and my son, too, remind me, lovingly of course, of the cups of noxious murky brew I insisted they drink, the unfamiliar ingredients that appeared in salads  (“Say, isn’t that a weed?”) and the dark bottles of roots and berries left to brew on my windowsills.  They also remind me that while indulging me, they caught fewer colds, had more energy and meals were way more interesting. If Dave, my 30 lb. brown dog du jour, were still here, he would remember that he never had worms, fleas, itchy skin, smelly ears or gas.

It was during this time as well, that I began to distrust kibble. Not because it was a topic of commercial attention as it is today, but because it didn’t make sense to me. It didn’t smell like food; it didn’t look like food and it certainly didn’t taste like food. (Yes, I taste the kibble.) While Dave was content to crunch his way through a bowl of that stuff, I just knew in my heart (or my gut) that it wasn’t doing him any good.  In an effort to feed him better on the cheap, I made friends with the butchers at the grocery stores in my neighborhood, sought out the farm stands decades before it was the thing to do on a Saturday morning, I purchased a food processor and I got busy. I studied food, asked questions, called up veterinarians and became a general good-natured pest. Dave, in response, became the happiest dog in town. Not only did he benefit from his regular mealtimes, he often scored when he hung around at my feet as I prepared his food once a month. There is no 3-second rule for dogs: once it’s on the floor it’s theirs.

What I discovered was that I could feed my dog really well for less than half of what I was paying for a sack of kibble and a carton of canned food.  Granted, that was 25 years ago, but it still holds fairly true today. Meat processors throw out a lot of animal protein that we are just too sophisticated to eat, or touch.  Dogs have no pride. They’ll eat the innards and grin happily.  Juliette Levy was a proponent of feeding her dogs small meals of highly concentrated foods like meat and fish proteins (which included the oogly bits we just can’t deal with) and supplemented with whole grains, dried beans, green vegetables, fruits, herbs, honey and plenty of fresh water. Spending an hour once a month preparing good food like this, packaging it into serving-sized portions for convenience and freezing them for a month’s worth of goodness was a small gesture of love for Dave.

The financial reward for my efforts was that Dave never got sick. I never had to shell out for various parasite treatments, we never saw the vet save for the yearly once-over.  The emotional reward for my efforts was that Dave lived to be an old dog. As he was an off-chain rescue, I never really knew how old he was. But he was my friend and companion for 15+ years.  My dogs, dogs of friends and dogs of clients that followed Dave reaped the benefits of his good-natured guinea-pigness.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.                          She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Canine Social Misfits

by Tracie Korol

Feb. 4, 2010

Dogs aren’t born “man’s best friends”. They grow into the honorific through time and the experience of experiences. As with all baby animals, there is a period of time in a dog’s life where they must learn about their world in order to survive.  This critical period of socialization is when a puppy learns what is safe and good and what is not.  This window falls somewhere between four weeks and 20 weeks.  After the window closes anything not previously identified falls into the unsafe category.  Dogs must be socialized to the alien human world during this time or they will forever be anxious, at the very least, about new people, sounds and sights.  How many of us know the precious tiny pet whining in terror when friends come to visit or the big barker who lets loose with a barrage of noise every time a pinecone hits the ground?

The best socialization procedure I’ve ever seen is what dogs receive when they are in training for Guide Dogs for the Blind or other service dog organizations. Those dogs receive gentle human handling and contact from the time their eyes open until adulthood. Tiny service puppies travel everywhere with their trainers. As they grow older they are given careful exposure to stimuli they would encounter in a day-to-day working life: visits to offices, shopping centers, walks in town, rides on elevators, sounds of cars, motorcycles, people of different ages, sexes, ethnicities, people who dress, talk or move in different ways, people who use crutches, umbrellas and wheelchairs. Penny, one of my Couchtime dogs, is a retired guide dog. On her initial visit, she hopped out of her owner’s car, happily trotted into my house and never looked back. We had a great adventuresome week and when it was time to go home, she hopped back into her owner’s car and again, never looked back. A dog with that level of confidence is a pure pleasure. Your dog can do the same.

One category of the dogs I work with, behaviorally, is the result of benevolent neglect.  There is no doubt their owners love them but in loving them too much have prevented them from experiencing normal day-to-day life.  They are the dogs that never leave the yard and whose owners do not anticipate that sometimes life doesn’t always go along as planned.  Another group of dogs I work with in this category are the ordinary dogs whose owners simply never knew or bothered with this important aspect.  These are the dogs that live with Gram and Gramps that freak out and bite when the grandkids come to visit. Or they are the dogs of families who live in the country, then move to an urban (or suburban) environment where then the dog overreacts to the increased neighborhood activity. These are the dogs causing the neighbors to complain about incessant barking. I have one living next door. An unsocialized dog is a canine misfit and a sad story waiting for conclusion.

It is a good owner who will enroll his pet in a puppy class for socialization and basic training.  Almost all the dogs I work with have been to class.  Why they now are my best friends is because their socialization ended when the class ended.  Learning about life is an ongoing process.

However, if you are the owner of an unsocialized adult dog, don’t despair. There is hope. Steps can be taken to make their worlds a less terrifying place. The quality of their life can be improved with desensitization, and with training they will gain confidence to make sense of the world around them.  It should be no surprise that methods used to rehabilitate an unsocialized dog must be positive ones.  The poor guy is already terrified of the world so it will be up to the owner to be patient, sometimes progressing at what might seem glacial pace.  Pushing an unsocialized dog too quickly can destroy weeks, even months of painstaking progress.  I remind my owners that their perfect canine companion takes time to develop, often years in the making.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.  She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

Satur-daze: Cartoon Dogs

by Tracie Korol

Jan. 28, 2010

Nothing says Boomer-childhood nostalgia quite like a peek into the lineup of animated shows we watched, slightly buzzed on sugary breakfast cereal and lack of sleep, when we were kids on Saturday mornings.   William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, whose first groundbreaking series was Huckleberry Hound, produced most of the popular programs of my childhood.

Huckleberry Hound first appeared in 1958 and became a 1960’s classic. Huck was a blue dog of indeterminate heritage that wore a porkpie hat and spoke in a slow southern drawl. He was voiced by Daws Butler.  Huck’s drawl was supposedly based on the soft North Carolina tones of film and TV star, Andy Griffith.  Huck was a good natured, unflappable creature that was fond of tunelessly droning “My Darling Clementine”. He was also the master of the explanatory aside, providing us kids with a running narrative of his motives during his adventures.  In 1960 HH became the first cartoon to win an Emmy.

Astro, a stray space dog, was found by Elroy in the fourth episode of The Jetsons, In “The Coming of Astro”. George, futuristic patriarch, doesn’t want to keep Astro, preferring a trouble-free electronic dog, Lectronimo. Astro earns his place in history when he saves George from a burglar.  We Boomers can still hum the theme song of the final scene of each episode while remembering George walking Astro on an automatic dog walker suspended in backyard Space of the Jetsons’ home.  Astro sees a cat and in short order he and the cat are watching George get more exercise than he bargained for on the out-of-control machine. Don Messick voiced Astro’s signature line, “Ruh Roh, George”.

The Flintstones: Okay, maybe Dino was supposed to be a dinosaur but his behavior was pure dog. His species, as told in Episode 18, is Snorkasaurus. Dino achieved his TV immortality in the opening segment of every episode when he greets home-from-work Fred with a hysterical “yiyiyiyiyiyi!” and a full body tackle that has Fred crying for mercy. Over the decades Dino was voiced by Jerry Mann, Mel Blanc and Frank Welker.

Underdog, who always talked in rhyme, was voiced by Wally Cox, also Mr. Peepers, and ain’t-it-a-small-world, a childhood friend of my father’s. Polly Purebred, UD’s girlfriend (Lois Lane of the cocker spaniel world), had only to trill, “oh where, oh where has my Underdog gone?” to send UD, in his alias as Shoeshine Boy, into a phone booth (remember them?) to emerge as the caped superdog, ready to fight the villain, Dr. Simon Bar Sinister. Can you remember Underdog’s signature line?  In 2007, a live-action movie based on the Underdog cartoons was released, starring Jim Belushi.

My personal favorite, created by Ted Key, as a segment of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, was Mr. Peabody with his pet boy, Sherman. In each of 91 episodes of Peabody’s Improbable History the duo would venture into their time machine aptly named The Wayback Machine and visit historic places and events only to discover that their assistance was necessary to make history turn out according to the history books. Each episode ended with Mr. Peabody delivering a droll pun much to the chagrin of the audience and Sherman. For example, when the Battle of the Little Big Horn was completed, Peabody directed Sherman’s attention to a hot dog vending booth and said that was the real “Custer’s Last Stand”. Groan.

Flash-forward a couple of decades to my other personal favorite, the Ren and Stimpy Show, created by John Kricfalusi. The series concerns the gross misadventures of the titular characters: Ren Höek, a psychotic, dyspeptic Chihuahua, and Stimpson J. Cat, a dimwitted Manx. Ren and Stimpy premiered on Nickleodeon in 1991 ran for five years. Kricfalusi originally voiced Ren using a bad imitation of Peter Lorre; Billy West voiced Stimpy. Though it had a reputation for indecent humor and cartoon violence (including an episode with the title “Stimpy’s First Fart”) and was eventually cancelled due to its “bad taste”, Ren and Stimpy was the downright absolute favorite of my little tribe of Cub Scouts.

(Underdog’s famous line: “Have no fear—Underdog is here!”.)

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.   She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

The history of dog food: Part Two

by Tracie Korol Jan 14, 2010

Manufacturers soon realized there was big, big money to be made in dog foods. But how were they to sell more of the same old stuff? The next big marketing strategy was to push specialty diets, formulated for specific diseases or disorders in pets. The first diets were developed for kidney and heart disease in 1948.

These have expanded to more than 20 specialty diets being offered today. Mark Morris, DVM, founder of Hill’s Pet Products (Science Diet) was the first in the field to really push this idea. The Purina Company quickly followed, with several other companies not far behind. Only veterinarians offered Hill’s prescription products. This began to portray dog nutrition as really complex; the public relied more on their veterinarian’s advice about nutrition rather than trusting their own judgment or common sense. Shopping for dog food expanded from the feed store, to the supermarket to the veterinarian’s office.

Until 1974 the National Research Council (NRC) developed the protocol for the nutritional values needed in pet food. Following the publication of the article “What’s Really in Pet Food’ from The Animal Protection Institute (API), a new organization was formed, the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

This group was organized by the pet food industry. They decided to change the standards of the NRC (National Research Council) testing procedures from extending feeding trials of the dog food over a period of time to simple testing of the chemical analysis of the dog food. While this provided results for the percentages and breakdowns in the dog food, it certainly didn’t address the type of food used, freshness, or digestibility of each of the ingredients. As API states in their article, this left the pet food industry to police itself, without government intervention.

In 1985, the National Research Council updated its guidelines for nutrition, instituting changes requiring manufacturers to verify that their final product be nutritionally sound, after it was cooked and processed. It also recommended that the nutrients of the food be listed in metabolic energy units. The advantage here was to be able to measure the food on a unit energy basis, and to be able to compare foods more accurately.

And what was the response from the pet food companies? Ben Sheffy, of the James A. Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University participated in the 1985 NRC revision reports the responses ranged from “disappointment to anger.” Today, pet companies are still using the 1974 protocol for nutrition, and no serious efforts have been made to accept the 1985 proposed changes.

The next trend marketeers invented for the public was the creation of “premium” dog foods. These foods are advertised to be more nutritionally complete for dogs, offering different blends for all stages of life, including puppy diets, maintenance diets, performance diets and senior dog diets. While this created new markets for pet foods, it also created a new sense of helplessness for the public. By the way, these foods are advertised as ‘premium’ but still use the old standards from the NRC 1974 requirements. We became more confused. Not only couldn’t we be trusted to feed our own dog, now different formulas were “needed” for various life stages of the dog.

As an ex-marketer I can personally attest that many lifestyle choices that we now accept as The Only Thing to Do were created by a bunch of people sitting around a conference table churning out ideas. The goal is always to sell the product. Bottom line: Dog food has not fundamentally changed in 35 years. It has been and remains to this day dry pellets of brown stuff you wouldn’t eat.  Fortunately, many of us are beginning to wake up to what we are putting in our dogs’ mouths. Remember, in the Way Back the only thing to do was to share our food with our best friends.

BowWOW! is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a trainer, dog behaviorist, canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

The history of dog food

by Tracie Korol Jan 7, 2010

When early wolf-derivatives first joined us around the fire back in the Way Back, they were eating the same foods we were. And the other way around. But as we moved indoors and our methods of consumption became more evolved, so did that of our dogs.

During the Middle Ages both man and dog ate via “trencher feeding.” As only the very rich had table service and cutlery, common man would eat his meals from a trencher. A trencher was a long flat loaf of bread. When finished with a meal, he would toss the trencher and any remaining bones to the dogs. Not a bad deal.

Dogs generally ate whatever food was available in their environment. For farm dogs, this could include raw meat scraps, raw milk, eggs and food found scavenging. City dogs probably depended on scraps from the owners’ table, vermin, and offal and cheap cuts of raw meat from the butcher. Only those dogs owned by the very rich or royalty had meals specially prepared for them, with great attention to the quality and addition of seasonings to the diet.

The first processed dog food was the brainchild of an Ohio electrician named James Spratt.  In 1860, while in London selling his lightning rods, Mr. Spratt noticed a pack of stray dogs swarming the London docks eating the discarded, moldy hard tack thrown off the ships by sailors. Spratt went home and concocted a biscuit of wheat, beetroot, vegetables and beef blood. The name of this new product was called Spratt’s Patent Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes. (Fibrine?) His biscuits came in a tin decorated with pictures of terriers, and sported the legend “My Faithful Friend’s Own Biscuit Box.”

In 1907, F.H. Bennett introduced “Milk Bone” dog biscuits as a “complete food.” Mr. Spratt’s Patent Fibrine Dog Cakes and Milk Bone biscuits remained the big guns in the dog food game until the 1920’s. As automobile power soon replaced horsepower, sad for the horses, Ken-L-Ration introduced canned horsemeat as dog food.  World War I cramped Ken-L-Ration’s canned horsemeat business, not because horses were needed on the battlefield but because of the shortage of tin for the cans.

Dry food was introduced in 1946.  In the post-war boom, mill operators and grain dealers found a good source for their byproducts in the dog food industry. Slaughterhouses found they were able to sell non-human grade, diseased meats, unusable parts, and meat byproducts to pet food manufacturers. This created a market for products that previously had been garbage.

Since many of these meat sources were non-human grade, the practice became common to mix these with the grains and cook them together for many hours or days to kill bacteria and disease. The final mix was then formed into pellets that were easily bagged for convenience of feeding.

In 1957 Purina perfected the extrusion method of manufacture. The extrusion process combined and cooked the ingredients together in a liquid form, and then mechanically pushed it through an extruder that expanded the piece of dog food with air, and then baked them again. These dog food pieces were much larger and lighter than the pellets, giving an appearance of “more for your money.”  Most of us have little memory of dog food before Purina Dog “Chow.”

An active campaign was developed in 1964 through the “Pet Food Institute,” the organization representing pet food manufacturers, to inform the public of the dangers of table food scraps, and the importance of feeding processed dog food. This was accomplished through press releases to 1,000 newspapers, articles in 16 magazines, including Redbook and Good Housekeeping, and airing this information on 91 radio stations.

Continuing marketing strategies included using celebrities in television commercials, making dog foods that produced their own “gravy,” making dog kibble into various shapes, and using dyes in the dog food so it would look “natural” and pleasing to a dog owner’s eyes. Pet food ads were appearing regularly in the media and designs were developed more to attract the owner’s idea of a tasty and visually attractive meal than for the dogs’ health.

Pet food sales moved from the feed stores to the grocery stores, with bright labels and appealing pictures. The marketing strategies were paying off, and soon pet food sales were surpassing the amount of money spent on baby food. Interestingly, at the same time, on the human food front, colorful and sugary cereals for children were also making inroads.

Next time: From then ‘til now.

BowWOW! is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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BowWOW!

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends – Dec 24, 2009

The better to hear you with

by Tracie Korol

The canine ear is a remarkable part of a dog’s remarkable anatomy. Hundreds of dogs in my kennel over the years, plus one-on-two time with my own dogs’ ears, have taught me just how sensitive their ears can be, both in function and malfunction.

According to Monika Wegler’s book, Dogs: How to Take Care of Them and Understand Them, “Humans pick up an average of 20,000 acoustic vibrations per second (kHz), whereas a dog is able to perceive between 40,000 and 100,000 vibrations.”

The technical aspect of acoustic vibrations and frequencies is a bit bewildering, but I can garner the essence of the above statement: dogs hear a lot better than we do. Even if my dogs were dead asleep, snoring, at the other side of the house, no matter how quiet I attempted to be, creeping in stocking feet to the kitchen, opening a cupboard door with exaggerated care, I could always expect a trio of happy faces at my knees by the time my hand reached out for whatever snack I had in mind.

What this means is, if you need to yell at your dog in order for him to pay attention, your relationship needs work. He can hear you just fine even when you whisper.

In addition to hearing better than us, their ears are anatomically different than ours. Human ears have one compartment; theirs have two. The following description comes from Dr. Dennis W. Thomas’s article An Ear Full of Auditory Advice: “Beginning at the opening of the ear canal, the vertical canal travels downward toward the dog’s jaw. Then it makes a 45-degree turn and travels horizontally towards the eardrum…most breeds have a much longer ear canal than humans….predisposes a dog’s ear to infection and makes treatment more difficult.”

As such, breeds with pendulous ears (basset hounds, beagles and even labs) are more susceptible to ear infections than those breeds with upright ears. This is mostly because floppy ears act like trap doors for moisture, yeast and other nasties. But problems can happen to any dog, any ear configuration. It pays to be vigilant.

There are a zillion culprits that can affect your dog’s ears: foreign objects, yeast, mites, oil secretion differences, dermatological issues, allergies – the list goes on and on.  Routine ear hygiene helps avoid bigger problems later on.  Ear cleaning takes all of a minute, once Herman gets used to it, and it can be a nice relaxing and bonding experience. If you clean ears once a week, after baths or swimming, that’s about 3 minutes a week, in total. Another benefit of routine ear cleaning is that you’ll become familiar with Herman’s ear anatomy and what is normal for him as far as color, temperature, texture, etc. You will be alerted to any changes and can act before a problem becomes serious (and expensive).

As long as there isn’t active irritation, I’ve always used a warm 50% vinegar and water solution with my dogs. Dampen a couple of cotton balls; place in the initial opening of the ear canal.  Squish just enough so that they leak their juices inside the ear. Massage for 30 seconds or until the dog gives you the “this feels SO good” face.  When done, he’ll shake his head and the cotton balls come flying out. Then, I’ll wipe out the canal only as far as I can see. Using the cotton ball method is anxiety-free plus avoids discomfort from pouring liquid directly in the ear. Certainly, visit your vet if there is irritation, redness or goo of any color.

Ear infections and systemic yeast infections are too common in our pets due to kibble diets, over-vaccination and environmental sensitivity. Yeast infections result when a common organism that lives in the gut goes into overdrive.

Antibiotics, stress and poor diet can throw a system out of balance and causes this fungus to grow exponentially creating systemic yeast infections. Paw chewing, irritated underarms, itchy inner thighs and a host of other issues are directly related to an over abundance of yeast. A “doggy” smell is often simply an over-abundance of yeast in your dog’s system.

BowWOW! is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog.  She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at  HYPERLINK “mailto:letstalk@wholedog.biz” letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit  HYPERLINK “http://www.wholedog.biz” http://www.wholedog.biz.

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Pet of the Week!

Patches

This is Patches an 18 month old female spayed Hound mix.  Patches is
microchipped and gets along great with other dogs, children and adults.
She is ready to go home with you for Christmas today!

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New Year’s Resolutions for Dogs and their People – Dec 17, 2009

by Tracie Korol

Getting organized, saving pennies and losing weight are standard resolutions we toss out before the holiday fruitcake. I have never been particularly enthusiastic about making resolutions. Too much stress and expectation for me. But I do appreciate the concept of a fresh start. What if this year, instead of the usual self-based resolutions, we resolve to do something better for those around us? If we start small, say, with our animal companions (who give us love and joy every day of the year), maybe we’d be more likely to stick to a new year resolve.

For instance, commit to walk your dog every day, even when it’s blustery and chilly and you’d rather huddle on the couch. Few things are more important for your dog’s health and happiness than the opportunity to stretch his legs and read the daily “news” on the local fire hydrant. A daily dog walk is a win/win arrangement.

Or, set aside some “canine quality time” every day to play with, talk to, get your hands on your dog. It’s too easy to overlook our smaller friends when life gets hectic, and most dogs are too polite to complain when they’re bored or lonely.

Senior pets that have been around so long they’re considered part of the landscape particularly appreciate and benefit from personal hands-on time. They have given you their best years and their time is growing short. Commit to spending quality, hands-on time with your old friend.

Plan to have your dog spayed or neutered, if you haven’t already.  Not only will it protect your animal from potential cancers but will prevent accidental litters. Thousands of animals are born in this county only to end up on the streets or dumped at the Beaufort County animal shelter.

If your dog is already  “fixed,” why not offer to help your friends or neighbors have their animals spayed or neutered by transporting them to SNACC or the veterinarian or even offering to pay for the surgery yourself? Or co-op the fee with a group of friends. Spaying and neutering is cheap, but saving lives is priceless.

Resolve to be an angel for a lonely, chained backyard dog in your neighborhood. I can’t think of a more cruel punishment for these loving, social animals than to be isolated, far away from their human “pack,” with only a few feet to move around in and nothing to do but watch the pounded dirt turn to mud. Engaging the dog’s guardians in conversation about what dogs need, such as companionship, a warm and dry house filled with straw in the winter, fresh food and water every day, and regular veterinary care, is a good start.

You might be told to mind your own business (or worse), but sharing your concern with the owner could also be a starting point for a better life for that animal. Offer to take the dog for walks, or offer dog treats and toys. Don’t give up: some lucky dogs have had their entire lives changed because of someone who cared enough to intervene.

Speak up when you notice neglected or abused pets in your neighborhood.  Call Animal Control if you suspect an animal is in danger or in an abusive situation. This isn’t pleasant, but if you can help even one animal escape a painful life, it is worth it. Shelter staff and rescue group volunteers will thank you for your help.

There are thousands of animals in Beaufort County in need of help each day. This concept can be overwhelming for many residents. For them, it is easier to turn a blind eye and pretend the problem doesn’t exist or leave it “those other people.”  Resolve to become one of those “other people.” Every little bit helps. Financial donations, donations of supplies to the shelter or a rescue group are always appreciated.

Resolve this year to volunteer some time: write a letter, make a phone call, be a foster family. Real live animals are helped by your generosity. It’s a great way to start a new year.

BowWOW! is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at  HYPERLINK “mailto:letstalk@wholedog.biz” letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit  HYPERLINK “http://www.wholedog.biz” http://www.wholedog.biz.


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BowWOW!  Dec 10, 2009

Facts, observations and musings about Our Best Friends

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

by Tracie Korol

I had no experience with big dogs until Tucker, my chocolate lab, came to join the family. Previously, my dog-view point-of-reference was, at best, two feet from the floor. (I have always favored bench beagles.)  Imagine my surprise, that first Christmas with Tucker, coming downstairs in the morning, squinting at the Christmas tree and finding all that remained on the tree were hooks and ornament necks.

I said a silent prayer that we wouldn’t have to make the mad dash to the vet and then addressed my creative pet. Tucker grinned goonily, no worse for wear.  He was so proud.

Turned out that he didn’t actually eat the ornaments, but he enjoyed hearing them smash. He obligingly ate seven or eight slices of milk-soaked white bread in a row, to cushion the effect, just in case he ingested some glass. (He didn’t; I checked for sparkle poos.) Though Tuck grew to respect décor as he aged, our Christmas trees became smaller tabletop versions from then on.  While my beagle politely expressed no interest whatsoever in holiday doo-dads, Tucker’s enthusiasm for every single thing on earth altered how we approached Christmas from then on.

No more poinsettias, no more holly berries. No mistletoe. No amaryllis. They’re all toxic to dogs. Holly poisoning will cause digestive upset and/or central nervous system depression. If a dog eats mistletoe, you may see any, or all, of the following symptoms: digestive upset, depression, exhaustion, coma, heart failure (death). Ho, ho, ho. Poinsettia causes digestive upset and/or irritation to the mouth and stomach lining. Poinsettia sap is particularly irritating to dog skin. Nothing dampens holiday spirit quicker than witnessing your dog hork up a heap of holiday cheer or better, racing to vet on Christmas Eve.

Clients have offered other Christmas dog safety hints that, thankfully I have not had to experience first-hand. For instance, some dogs are happy to drink water out of any vessel other than their own water bowls. Mud puddles, toilets, drip trays on houseplants are favorite alternate hydration stations. So is the basin at the base of live Christmas trees. Pinesap from the tree mixed with fertilizers make the water poisonous to your dog. Stagnant tree water can also harbor bacteria, causing nausea and diarrhea. Take care to cover the basin with foil or a tree skirt.  On the up side, Christmas tree preservatives, balsam, pine, cedar, fir and snow flocking are all somewhat low toxicity.

Tie up loose electrical cords of the lights used to decorate your tree and make them less dog-attractive by securing them to the trunk. End-to-end lights eliminate individual cords dangling from the tree that might entice your dog to chew them.

One client was clever to attach a power strip to the trunk of her tree higher than the level her dog could reach. She had one heavy-duty power cord running from the tree to the outlet instead of several flimsy cords from single strings of lights. What a great idea! A Ground Protection Fault (GPF) plug for tree lights was another good suggestion. If a string of lights is chewed, a GPF can prevent electrocution by cutting off electricity to the plug.

Households with young rambunctious big dogs (and/or small children) might consider anchoring the tree to the ceiling with fishing line directly above the tree’s trunk. If attached to the wall behind the tree, a dog could get snarled in the line should he decide to explore the intrigues of other side.

I stopped using tinsel on my Christmas tree years ago after the New Years’ discussion with a vet concerning how many surgeries he’d had the previous week removing tinsel from dog intestines. This was followed up with a vivid description of what a chew hoof can do to the inside of a dog, too. He wasn’t particularly fond of rawhides, either, for similar reasons.

From a dog’s eye view Christmas is just another day but a day with more opportunities to explore life’s confusing human mysteries. A tree IN the house!? Sweet!

BowWOW! is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. She is a trainer, holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at  HYPERLINK “mailto:letstalk@wholedog.biz” letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit  HYPERLINK “http://www.wholedog.biz” http://www.wholedog.biz.


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