Wow, this summer is a HOT one in Portland! Here at Pawsitive Steps PDX, we're being extra careful about walking your pups on hot days and making sure they don't become overheated. Sometimes, we may need to cut a walk a bit short due to the heat, and finish the visit with some play or cuddle time indoors instead.
For many of us in the PNW who love to hike, camp and go on adventures with our pup pals, the increasing temperatures can definitely pose a problem. That's why we’re sharing tips for keeping your pet safe this summer and how to look for signs of heat stress or stroke.
What is a heat stroke? Heat stroke happens when your dog’s ability to cool herself off becomes overwhelmed by too much heat. It can happen quickly and, if left untreated, it can cause organ damage and death. Keep in mind that dogs cannot sweat like humans can, and their ability to tolerate extreme heat is less than ours!
How to recognize heatstroke. Your pet might become weak, wobbly and faint. In severe cases, your pet can have tremors or seizures. He may have a very rapid heart rate and his gums may appear bright red. If you think you are witnessing any of these signs, you should cool off your pet using our guidelines below and immediately seek emergency veterinary care.
How to treat heatstroke. Move your pet out of the heat and wet your dog’s body with cool (not cold) water, then head IMMEDIATELY to your veterinarian. Most dogs will require IV fluids to treat for shock and support vital organs. Never cool a dog with ice cold water! This will actually make things worse, causing the blood vessels to constrict and keep their core body heat from escaping.
Some breeds are at higher risk. While it can happen to any pet, some breeds are at higher risk. Brachycephalic (flat face) pets such as English Bulldogs and Pugs do not have the cooling mechanism that a longer nose provides. Underlying heart disease, collapsing trachea, laryngeal paralysis and even obesity can also predispose to heat stroke.
How to prevent heatstroke? Avoid walking or exercise outdoors during the hottest parts of the day. Stick to shady areas if you can. Pay attention to your pup and carefully watch for signs of fatigue or overheating. Dogs will often overdo it, even in heat, so we have to be the ones to stop our pup’s activity before it becomes dangerous. Keep plenty of cool water with you when you take your dogs in the heat. And never, ever leave a pet in a car on a warm day!
Protect paws from hot pavement? While heatstroke is the most life-threatening problem caused by the heat, dogs also suffer from blisters and burns on their paw pads from walking on pavement that is too hot. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, when it is 77 degrees outside, pavement reaches 125 degrees… and when the temperatures reach 87 degrees, pavement becomes 143 degrees! (An easy way to check is to place your palm flat on the pavement. If you cannot comfortable hold it there, your pup should not be walking on it.)
When the weather is hot, avoid walking your pup on man-made surfaces and opt instead for grassy areas and dirt trails. If you must walk on pavement (ie, to potty walk in the city) be sure to stay in shady areas, put boots on your dog or apply a pad protection wax to paw pads. Limit time on sidewalks and pavement to a quick potty break.
We’re wishing you a SAFE and happy summer with your pooch pals!
DISCLAIMER: This article is for education only and is not intended as a substitution for professional veterinary advice. ALWAYS seek the help of your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY is your dog is in distress or suffers an injury.
BY HEATHER DOWDY
FOR PAWSITIVE STEPS PDX
As July 4th quickly approaches, many pet parents are preparing to hunker down to ride out The Annual Apocalypse. (Or, what regular people call Independence Day.)
It’s not that I hate the 4th of July. I can recall, before having dogs, oohing and ahhing at the magical splendor of Roman Candles and heart-shaped firework art exploding across the night sky.
After dogs, though. After dogs, the first onslaught of neighborhood pyrotechnic celebration sends our household into tremors. Our old rescued dog, Shelby, passed two years ago. He was half Australian Shepherd — a breed known for increased sensitivity to stimuli as well as for Epileptic seizures. He won out and got both. And the overbearing sensation of the house rocking as fireworks boom and clap and echo throughout the neighborhood leave him in such a panic that the ordeal, on more than one occasion, triggered a seizure.
Shelby's level of fear and anxiety during the 4th of July holiday meant that we were glued to the house every evening the first week of July, so that we are able to execute The Annual Apocalypse Protocol. And since our youngest dog, Briley, is now developing firework and storm phobia at the age of six... well, it's time we brush up on our protocol skills.
So, I present to you our own personal strategy for surviving the Firework Apocalypse.
1. Thundershirts. Except, we love them so much that we call them ThunderSnugs. In case you don’t know, these are some of the best things ever invented for dogs. The ThunderShirt is a snug doggie vest that wraps around the chest and abdomen, applying gentle and constant acupressure to help swaddle and calm your pup. It’s not hocus-pocus, either. In fact, it works based on science as studied by the famous Dr. Temple Gradin and others, and similar vests are used to calm children with Autism and more. These help during thunderstorms, fireworks and other high-anxiety situations. That said, using them alone was never quite enough for our overly anxious Shelboo. Thus, onward to Step #2…
2. Relaxing Music Cranked (Semi) Loud. Okay, that may seem like an oxymoron. But you’ve gotta turn the volume up enough to drown out the sound of Certain Impending Doom! happening right outside the windows. And not just any elevator music will do in our house. For serious Mayday situations, we pull out the iPod and put the RelaxMyDog.com playlist on repeat. These are some seriously soothing tunes with just the right amount of monotonous melody and calming sounds to sink your pooch pal into a semi-coma. It works on us, too! (It’s great for yin yoga!) You can play some clips on youtube, or download entire albums from the website. Trust me: the relief for our dogs has been well worth the $9.99. But, sometimes, when every house within a five-mile radius seems to be aiming bottle rockets directly at the sky above our house, we must add in Step #3…
3. Good ol’ Benadryl. While our senior dogs are on enough medications as is (seizures and thyroid and arthritis, oh my!) a dose of Benadryl is sometimes the final step we have to take to help take the edge off for our stressed-out furkiddos. (Please, please, be sure to consult with your own veterinarian first to see if this step might be okay for your pet, and in what dose. We are NOT medical professional, m' kay?)
We also have some other assorted secret weapons, which may or may not help but sure can’t hurt, such as spritzing Travel Calm around the dog beds and Apocalypse bunker area. (And it smells pretty! Air freshening bonus!)
It also helps to just sit with the pups, breathing deeply, exuding calm, quiet, happy energy. Dogs really do pick up on our vibes, so if we act nervous or stressed about them being nervous or stressed, they become — you got it — more nervous and stressed. So just chill out with your furpeeps. Do some yoga stretches next to them. Give them something to chew on or play with that may distract them.
And if you cannot be home during a time you know the terrifying fireworks will be popping, leave a few of your worn shirts and socks around your pet’s bed so your scent gives him some added comfort. Just sensing your presence may be another step toward relief for a high-anxiety pup.
Most importantly, whether your pet is truly terrified of fireworks or not — please keep your pets safely indoors during the holiday week! Even normally chill pets may become frightened and escape fences or doors during loud noises and holiday commotion, which is why shelters see an increase of an estimated 30% more lost pets after the 4th of July holiday. It’s not worth taking the chance.
In a city where many people cannot afford to buy a home, renting is a must for many of us. But renting with a pooch pal is not always easy. And if you happen to have a dog on incredibly inaccurate "dangerous breed list"--ranging from pit bulls and shepherds to chow chows and dobermans--it may seem there is no hope when it comes to finding a rental place to call home.
The good news is, there is hope. Follow these tips for your best chance at scoring a home for you AND your pup!
1. Change your mindset from "my dog is not allowed" to "how can I convince this landlord to welcome my dog?"
Just because a rental is not listed as dog friendly or only accepts "dogs under 20 pounds" doesn't mean a landlord won't consider an exception to their rule. I am proof that minds can and sometimes are changed by making a strong case. Be prepared to do your homework and to pitch to landlords why having you and your pet will be an awesome decision. Worst they can say is no... but they might just say yes!
2. Give yourself plenty of time.
Moving is hard enough. If you have a large dog or a misunderstood breed, it is simply going to take you longer to find a rental that is willing to work with you. Making sure you are not in an urgent time crunch will help give you the time needed to prepare our pitch to landlords and to truly search and find the right home for your and your dog. Of course, life happens and sometimes we are forced to make a quick decision. In that case, it may be best to stay with a family member, friend or pet-friendly motel while you give your rental search the time and attention it truly requires.
3. Understand why landlords create "no pet" policies.
Most landlords that are against allowing pets don't do it because they hate dogs--in fact, many of them have dogs of their own! They simply have been burned by irresponsible pet guardians in the past, who have allowed pets to destroy their property. Go into the conversation with this in mind, and explain that you can understand the frustration that some people and their pets can cause. Be empathetic and listen to their concerns. Your understanding can go a long way toward starting the conversation off right.
4. Create a resume for your dog!
Before you roll your eyes and laugh out loud, let me explain why this is so important--and why it works! As a rental applicant, you have to fill out a renter's application showing why you are a strong candidate to rent to. Likewise, you should provide documentation of why your pet is an excellent housemate--and why the landlord won't regret this decision.
Obtain letters of recommendation from your dog's obedience trainer and veterinarian. If your pet has a Canine Good Citizen certificate or training completion, show it off! If you have previously rented successfully with your pet, also obtain a letter of recommendation from that landlord.
Create a flyer that shows one or two happy, appealing photos of your dog. Outline your pet's best "features"--does he know how to sit and stay? Is he potty and crate trained? Is he neutered and gets along well with neighbors? List his manners, commands he knows and all of his best attributes. If your dog is on the "restricted breeds" list, bring along statistics, facts and educational materials to show why breed-specific bans are not effective, and why screening each dog as an individual makes the most sense.
Also describe how you are a responsible dog guardian: that you always pick up your pet waste in public, that you will provide enough exercise for your pet so he does not destroy out of boredom. Describe how you plan to take care of the property and reassure that your pet will not become a nuisance to the neighbors or cause any trouble.
As funny as it may sounds at first, a proper dog resume not only shows your pet in the best possible light, but it also shows that you took the time do really do your homework and to consider the landlord's concerns--which shows you to be a highly caring, responsible individual.
5. Offer to bring your dog to the landlord for a meet-and-greet.
If the landlord agrees to it, bring your well-trained dog with you to meet him or her. While it may be easy for a landlord to say "no" on a brief phone call, it's much harder to say no when face-to-face with a kind, responsible guardian and a happy, well-mannered pooch pal! Have your dog perform a "roll over", sit/stay or some other obedience trick for the landlord to show off your pup's great manners, skills and lovable personality! And if you aren't able to bring your dog to the interview (for out-of-state moves, for example) at least have an adorable video on your phone that you can share.
6. Offer to purchase renter's insurance that covers your dog and offer to pay a pet deposit.
Be proactive in letting potential landlords know that you are willing to purchase renter's insurance that will cover any situations that might arise due to your pet. Also offer to pay a pet deposit as a show of good faith that you intend on keeping the home in good condition. These steps go a long way in showing a landlord that you are a responsible individual and that you are a confident pet guardian. I personally love Farmer's Insurance, as they do not have any breed restrictions on their renter's and home owner's policies (with the unfortunate exception of California). In fact, you'll find an ad for the fabulous staff at the Patrick Brown Agency for Farmer's Insurance in each issue of our magazine. (Not only can they help you create a policy that is right for any breed of dog, but they also give back to animal rescue in big ways--including helping find homes for the pets at the Mt. Juliet Animal Shelter!) State Farm and Liberty Mutual also offer non-discriminatory policies.
7. Be respectful and polite at all times.
Even if a landlord has harsh things to say about your breed or past experiences with pets, remain calm, listen well and politely advocate for your pet. Your calm, kind demeanor will go a long way in showing what kind of renter you will be. Even if the landlord does not budge from her policy, be sure to thank her for taking the time to hear you out. You'll have left the landlord with a much better impression of pet parents, and who knows--they might change their mind and contact you if their property does not move quickly enough.
8. Always be honest.
As tempting as it may be in a stressful, time-crunched situation, never try to hide your dog or sign a lease that doesn’t allow dogs or your breed of dog. You never know when a neighbor may mention or report your pet to the landlord, or when the homeowner may want to stop by for repairs or another reason. Don't risk getting evicted and winding up in an even more stressful situation. If you do your due diligence on the front end and give your rental search the time it requires, you will find the landlord who will welcome you and your furry family member!
BY HEATHER DOWDY
You know the scenario. It goes something like this:
The dog is bored.
I need to take the dog for a walk.
I also need to run to the grocery store, make dinner and do five billion loads of laundry.
Okay, Ginger, we'll go for a walk. But you've gotta be quick! Hurry up, Ginger... come on!
Then, without even realizing it, you're power walking and obsessing over your mental to-do list while you all but drag poor Ginger pup to keep up with you as you.
Yes, you and your pup are getting exercise, which may in fact be better than eating an entire bag of chips on the sofa and binge watching trash TV. (Why must chips be so delicious?!)
But in your rush, you've forgotten something very important: to actually enjoy the walk! And you have also forgotten that how your dog experiences the walk is just as crucial as taking the walk itself.
So how can you improve walks with you pup? To quote an old, much-overused phrase...
Stop and Smell the Roses... or Peed-On Trees!
When we take a walk, we are often lost in our own minds. We're thinking of the past, the future, our meeting in two hours, that we need to call our mom about dinner on Sunday.
Our dog, however, is fully and happily in the present moment, and it can be incredibly frustrating for them when we keep hurrying them onward when all they want to do is stop and SMELL THAT AMAZING LIGHT POST!
You see, our dogs explore their world primarily through their noses, which is why Ginger wants to stop and poke her head into Literally. Every. Thing. along your route. While you might find the stop-and-go pattern frustrating and slow, your dog is simply participating in the moment and doing what she was designed to do. She is sniffing and learning so many interesting things about her environment, which is what truly engages her mentally and helps create a healthy, happy dog.
According to Dr. Alexandra Horowicz, a canine researcher and the author of Being a Dog: Following a Dog into the World of Smell, dogs have 50 times as many scent receptors as humans! So while you may think your pup is just sniffing something gross and pointless, she is really hard at work, learning incredibly detailed information about her environment through her amazing olfactory senses. And when we don't allow our pup to explore the natural world with her nose, we are really doing our beloved companion a disservice.
World renowned positive dog trainer Patricia McConnell puts it this way in an article she wrote here:
Recently I watched someone walking his dog close to my office in Black Earth. Every ten feet or so the dog tried to stop to sniff the ground, and every time she did, the man at the other end of the leash pulled her forward so that he could continue walking. Ah, the canine-primate disconnect, which never fails to appear if we just pay attention. I wrote an entire book about this, The Other End of the Leash, and yet I’m still discovering ways in which we struggle to merge our ethological needs...
...Birte Nielsen and colleagues published an important paper in December of 2015 titled “Olfaction: An Overlooked Sensory Modality in Applied Ethology and Animal Welfare.” They argue, compellingly, that we do animals a disservice by not acknowledging the impact of odor on their behavior and wellbeing.
In short, your dog requires mental stimulation as much as she needs physical exercise. And one of the easiest and most satisfying ways you can help your dog enjoy mental stimulation is to simply let her sniff out her environment. After all, it is how she explores and makes sense of her world.
That said, there is a time and place for everything. If your goal is to get in a good run with your pup pal, let her sniff around and enjoy her surroundings for a few minutes before launching into your jog. It's fine to keep her focused and at your side during the route, but then stop at the end and reward her with another stop-and-sniff session. And be sure to create time for more leisurely strolls with your pup pal, where she can sniff and wander to her heart's content.
Meanwhile, take a hint from your pup pal and try to turn off the automatic reminders in your brain and tune in to the beauty around you, too. Being relaxed and in the moment together will bring happiness and wellbeing for both you and your canine companion!
Man’s best friend. For those of us who share our hearts and homes with our canine companions, the phrase could not ring more true. After all, who else greets us with unabashed joy and enthusiasm every time we walk through the door? Who else loves us as unconditionally and loyally as our dogs?
These days, our dogs live in our homes, travel with us and sleep in our beds--but it wasn’t always this way. Our unique bond with dogs spans thousands of years, slowly evolving over time. But how, when and where did it begin?
According to a recent study conducted by scientists at Oxford University, “today's domestic dogs are a mixture of two ancient and once separate descendants of wolves” and “have been a part of human civilization for at least 12,000 years”.
There are many theories about the origin of this symbiotic relationship, ranging from wolves feeding on garbage near human settlements to the idea of wolves and humans becoming acquainted while hunting large game.
The latter theory is quite fascinating and serves up a good amount of evidence. This theory is explored in this NPR commentary, in which host Ira Flatow Mark Derr, author of "How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends" and Greger Larson, an evolutionary biologist and research scientist at Durham University in England.
Derr explains, “I think that early humans and wolves got together from the time they first met on the trail of the big game they were hunting, and they like each other in many ways, and so from the beginning of that union, dogs—wolves and humans—were together. From some population of wolves, we're not quite sure which, we had some transformations that occurred that gave us a more doglike animal, and the rest is history.”
But what was that initial draw toward one another, especially given that humans and wolves were competing for the same game? According to Larson, while it may seem counterintuitive, it likely had to do with us sharing that very same purpose.
“There was a shared desire to seek out similar game, and as a result of that… it was certainly [led to] the first domesticated dog,” says Larson in the interview. “There was this relationship that built up between human camps on one side and sort of tame wolves on the other side that were able to tolerate the presence of humans and vice versa. And they partnered up and started hunting together.”
Of course, today’s dogs look very different from their ancestors. According to Larson, most of the breeding we now see only came about in the last 150 years. He says, “There were quite a few varieties [of dog] out, but nobody was really doing breeding with closed breeding lines up until the Victorians. And in fact, the first small pet dog was really only in Roman times, about 2,000 years ago…
So, before that, we had a good 10,000 years of domestication. I mean, dogs were always serving a purpose. They always had a job to do. And as soon as that job was fulfilled, or as soon as it was no longer required, then those dogs were eliminated right away. And it's only really in the last 150 years that we've gone absolutely mad with more of an aesthetic idea of what a dog should be.”
Such a fascinating history for our furry friends! To read more, visit the full NPR story here.