What is HELP FIDO?

Humane Education Leads to Progress
For Informed Dog Owners

Vision Statement: We envision a society free from discrimination, where responsibility, education, love and compassion allow humans to fully respect and understand man's best friend.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Do spayed dogs get hot flashes?

I wrote this up on my personal blog, so in the art of being lazy I am going to copy it here as a Saturday funny-haha-post.
Our first dog, Maggie, was about 6 months old when we adopted her from Capital Area Humane Society. When we adopted her she was intact, but when we picked her up, as we knew would happen, she had been spayed. For the first couple years of her life she slept in a crate at night. But slowly she made her way into our bed. First she took naps, then when I came home from my mastectomy surgery, she slept at my feet (due to the type of surgery I had I had to keep my knees bent so I used her as a way to keep my knees up), and eventually she slept all nights with us. We always made fun of how wish-washy she was about being under the covers one minute, then out and panting, then back under the covers . . . this would go on through the night. When Sasha came into our lives, we noticed that she too, moved in and out of the covers through the night.
I had hot flashes when I started chemo, and they never completely went away though they did lessen with time. Recently, I had my ovaries removed as part of ongoing prevention and also as a way to finalize the decision not to have children. As fully expected, my hot flashes increased both in frequency and intensity. And I noticed that my nightly temperature fluctuations seemed eerily similar to those of Sasha's.
And so I began to wonder...do spayed dogs get hot flashes? (okay I just got a crazy vibe as I read back through this ending with the question that this post sounds like something out of 'Sex and the City'. I can almost hear SJP's voice in my head as I re-read it!).
I have done some preliminary online research and I am not the first to ask this question. However the answers are incredibly unsatisfactory because they mostly fall into a "no they don't because we are removing their ovaries so no estrogen left to go through menopause." Oh yeah? Because let me tell you, my ovaries are completely gone and I have RAGING hot flashes. So this answer just doesn't cut it.
And how would one know? You can't survey a dog. I discussed this with Dr. Mandi here at HELP FIDO , and she immediately had some good questions one could ask a dog: "Do you find yourself trying to lay on cold tile floors? Do you want to hang your head out the window inappropriately in the winter?"
I asked my mother-in-law about her current spayed female, Belle, and her previous spayed female, Chloe (RIP) and she agreed - both dogs exhibited signs consistent with running hot and cold. And neither of her male dogs have.
I don't quite know where I am going with this other that to say that I find it fascinating!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Puppy Luvuuuuv

(admin note: posted for Amanda - who still does not have her computer hooked up at home and can't access blog from work. But we love her anyway!)
Here at HELP FIDO, we love dogs. We love dogs with no tails, dogs with bad manners, dogs with one eye, dogs that can't hold their water, dogs with pedigrees and dogs that resemble a heap of spare parts (admin: we even love dogs with only two legs!). We love ALL dogs. We believe that dogs deserve our respect, understanding and compassion. We believe that every dog should have his/her day. So that's part of the reason why we get so hot and bothered when someone decides to deny any dog those rights, solely based on an impossibly hard to nail down breed ID.
Why, our local Humane Society is still nursing a stinging wound courtesy of an individual in Tennessee. CAHS' very own Batman made his debut national television appearance and in doing so, stole the heart of a Knoxville, Tennessee detective.
We had visions of Batman with his new Dad, donning his uniform and ready to roll in a marked vehicle. His potential new Dad even promised us those darling pics, saying he'd be "tickled" to do so. But alas, his significant other succumbed to the media hype and fear that have us believe the problem is the dog. No home for Batman...yet. We'll keep looking. Meanwhile, Batman continues to show us why we do what we do. Sure glad he doesn't know how close he came to being finally "home."
So, to the naysayers, go ahead and keep up with the lies and myths! We're running on pure doggy Luuuv at HF! What could be sweeter?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy National Dog Day!

National Dog Day has two goals: to honor dogs, and to rescue dogs from homelessness and abuse. It's an opportunity for us to recognize and appreciate the value and importance of dogs in our lives.

This day is intended to honor dogs for all that they do for us. In addition to giving love and companionship, dogs help us out in countless ways. They are watchdogs for our safety. They lead the blind. Dogs aid in search and rescue, and they seek out bombs and drugs.

The second goal of National Dog Day is to rescue dogs in need. On occasion, dogs need us to save them from homelesness and abuse. The goal of the National Dog Day foundation is to rescue 10,000 dogs a year. Lend a hand to help a dog in need today, or any day.

National Dog Day

Monday, August 25, 2008

Animal Planet "Animal Witness" Michael Vick Documentary - Not for the Faint of Heart . . .

. . .or faint of stomach for that matter.
I stayed up late last night watching this new series on Animal Planet. I read Donna's warning on the Bad Rap's blog last week and knew that I would be witnessing some rather graphic dog fighting footage. However, I was unprepared for the gratuitousness of the violence. I literally "threw up a little in my mouth" a few times. I also found myself covering the eyes of Sasha and Sparky (because in my mind this was like a horror film on crack...and even though they are dogs...I just couldn't let them "watch" it).
This morning I found a site for viewer comments to Animal Planet and posted the following statement:

I am writing to express my disappointment in the Animal Witness program about Michael Vick. The middle section was so extremely graphic in the footage of real dog fights that I was almost overcome with nausea. I expected more information such as the details from the case in regards to Vick crossing state lines to buy dogs, and the funding schemes of Bad Newz Kennels. I expected much more in terms of the details of how the dogs have been rehabbed. The last 20 minutes were the best in terms of demonstrating how dogs can come out of this awful situation. Perhaps more time could have been spent discussing the generalities of dog fighting. Some discussion of how laws have increased since the Vick case to help protect dogs might have been utilized. But the gratuitous violence of the dogs fighting…how is this any different than violence on crime shows? To show one dog pinning another down with blood spurting from its neck is, at the very least, needless violence. All this serves is to up the hype and to numb the viewers as to how truly awful it is. Also, why did you outline “how to host a dog fight”? You have provided an instruction manual. I am also disappointed that you included extensive interviews with PETA–who was never actually involved with the case! Also, there was an incorrect statement regarding the number of dogs sent to sanctuary–you stated 22 when it was actually 10. Please consider editing to focus more on the treatment of the dogs. This is Animal Planet – not the Sopranos!
If you would like to send them your own comment you can go to http://extweb.discovery.com/viewerrelations - you will be limited 1,500 characters so I suggest preparing something ahead of time. All that being said - the footage of Leo, former fight dog and now a therapy dog - is absolutely wonderful. And the interviews with the folks at Bad Rap show the real deal. Here's hoping that a few minds get changed this week!

ALERT: From CAHS - Please pass along!

For those of you living in central Ohio, or if you know of any cat or dog owner who does - please pass along this frightening alert from Capital Area Humane Society:
The Capital Area Humane Society says two dogs were shot with cross bows in two different parts of town.
By Nicole Franks - 610 WTVN
nicolefranks@ clearchannel. com
Saturday, August 23, 2008
The Capital Area Humane Society is warning pet owners after two dogs were shot and killed with what appears to be a cross bow. The latest incident happened Friday evening to a 13-year-old German Shepard dog. Jodi Buckman, the Humane Society's Executive Director says the dog was in a fenced backyard near Sawmill and West Case Road. The first attack happened a week ago to a Rottweiler mix near Rumsey and Lockbourne Roads. "We cannot make any assumptions as we continue the investigation as to whether or not these two attacks are related," Buckman said. "Or if they could possibly be related to similar attacks on cats with arrows earlier this year." A reward is being offered that leads to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator. To report information people can call the Capital Area Humane Society's cruelty investigations division at 614-777-PETS ext. 250.
More here on WBNS 10tvHarly, the Rottie mix, did not survive. Readers - this incident follows on the heels of the two cats shot with arrows in April. That crime is still unsolved. If you own a cat who normally goes outside, please consider keeping them indoors for the time being. If you own a dog, please do not leave them out unattended. Protect your family, including your 4-legged members. And if you have any information please call CAHS!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Toy might be DANGEROUS!

If you think you might have a "Pimpleball w/ Bell" please read the following links and check to make sure your dog is not in danger.

The following quote is from the VP of the toy's manufacturer.
"After reviewing the product we found there to be a manufacturing flaw in the mold. By simply looking at the product the problem is not visible, that is why our QC Department did not catch this prior to the product being shipped. The toy has a large hole on one side and a small hole on the other side. The smaller hole is there to insure airflow in order to prevent any type of suction. At first glance, the ball appears to be fine; it is only when you hold it up to the light that you can see that the smaller hole is not completely open. We have reached out to all of our customers to have them remove this product from their shelves and return them to us. We are reworking all of this inventory to insure that the product functions correctly.

We are also going to post on our website and by any other means we can find to let consumers know that if they currently have this product, they should hold it up to the light and make sure the small hole is completely opened. If it is not, all they need to do is take a sharp object such as a nail and carefully push it through the small hole to open up the airway. Please be assured that we have taken all necessary steps to ensure that a situation like this does not happen again."
You can read the enitre repsonse HERE.

Also you can read about Chai a sweet boy who eventually had to have his tongue amputated due to the injuries from the toy HERE.

I still have yet to find a warning on the FourPaws website, about the possible dangers of this toy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another Dog Died Today......

Today another handsome, muscular, square-headed dog felt the sting of a needle, breathed his last breath, as his eyes became glassy.

Today another once exhuberant, happy go lucky dog is placed in a garbage bag and waits in the freezer to be moved to his final resting place.

Today another dog lost his life not because he was vicious and a threat to humans or other animals but because he made the mistake of pushing open a partially latched door and his owner was financially unable to buy an insurance policy.

Today an 18 month old little boy lost the friend who shared peanut butter kisses and cuddles on the couch.

Today another rescuer shed a tear for you, for not being allowed to be your lifeline.

Goodbye sweet boy. I know you will be missed and will not be forgotten.

The Dogs of HELP FIDO

Izzy's story:
Izzy is a rescue which a county pound begged us to take. She came to us with her sister and 2 brothers when they were about 8 weeks old, having been labeled "pit bulls" They were quaking bundles of fear and had to patiently be cajoled out of the car.
The day after they arrived they all became really sick with parvo. Her brother Heckle, died 12 hours after becoming ill. Her sister Kota and brother Jeckle survived after being hospitalized a couple of days. Izzy, on the other hand, became VERY sick and was hospitalized over a week. On her 5th day of hospitalization the doctor called and said Izzy is not going to make it. Her temp is very low and she is so weak she can't even raise her head. She is suffering and we should put her down, do you want to be here?
Hubby and I rushed right over. The vet asked if we wanted some time with her before they put her down. Of course we did! We were warned about how bad she would look etc. They carried her in, nothing but skin and bones, wrapped in a blanket and laid her on the examining table. She wasn't moving. I squatted down and got up to her face and started talking to her.
All of the sudden "thump, thump, thump" her little tail started wagging. The next thing we knew she hopped up and started running all over the table and the counter. Full of wiggles and kisses for everyone. The vet called it a true miracle and said if she hadn't have seen it, she never would have believed it. Izzy made a full recovery and was home 2 days later. We decided that if we meant enough to Izzy that it gave her the will to live, how could we ever send her away. So she has stayed and become one of the gang and is a fantastic dog, one of the smartest dogs I have seen. As far as her being a "pit bull"? Nah, not so much but a GREAT dog nonetheless.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Dogs of HELP FIDO: Louie's Story

Louis (a.k.a. Lou, Louie, Louis Bean, Sir Louis of Beansworth, Louieboy, Stinkyface, Momma's Boy, and "what did you do??!!") became a part of my furry family in July of 2004. He was about 6 months old.
I first saw this precious pup when he was about 8 weeks old. He had no name and was only called "Puppy" on his chart. I was in my 4th year of veterinary school and working my way through clinical rotations. My classmate was carrying him like a baby through the main hallway to the x-ray ward. You could hear all of the "oohs and aahs" as she walked him down, as students and professors alike were stopping to give him a little belly tickle or to marvel at his absolute cuteness.
His reason for evaluation at OSU Veterinary Hospital was his inability to walk correctly. He hobbled on his back legs and could barely get around. After being seen by the Orthopedic veterinary specialists and being x-rayed, he was found to have a condition called Grade 4 bilateral medial patellar luxation. In simpler terms, his kneecaps were fixed into an abnormal position on inside surface of each of his back legs at the area of the knee. Each time he tried to walk, malformed ligaments would pull tightly and cause him pain and discomfort. This is a common condition of small dogs and usually causes very minimal problems. However, Louie was a larger breed dog and he was one of the unfortunate few that had the condition to such a serious degree that he would require orthopedic surgery to correct the defect.
When Louie's owners were informed of his diagnosis and the surgery required to make him walk normally, their response was this, and I quote: "If he's not going to be an athletic dog then we just want to put him to sleep." My classmate and the residents on the case were, needless to say, horrified at the owner's unemotional and seemingly final decision. They immediately pleaded with the powers that be, and the orthopedic surgeon to take pity on this pup. They managed to persuade Louie's owners to sign ownership over to the OSU Vet Hospital. Louis was scheduled to have surgery under the "good samaritan" sanctions of the hospital, meaning that his care would be paid for from a fund established for just such cases.
Surgery included shaving down some bone, cutting and repositioning ligaments and inserting 2 pins into the bone of each of his back legs. He had a long road to recovery. He spent several months under strict cage rest with physical therapy. Along the way he had this really funny walk where he had his knees turned out and walked on his toes...he looked like a little frog.
So, how did I come to take in this lucky boy? Needless to say I immediately fell in love with him the first time I saw him. And so did everyone else in the vet hospital. I visited him every day, and he frequently spent time in the surgery office, main office, reception area and radiology ward with the technicians. Everyone wanted to spend time with little Louie. I came forward, initially to adopt him for my parents in NY who had very recently lost one of their dogs. The adoption was approved and shortly thereafter Louie (who my parents called "Tre" because he was their 3rd dog) was driven across 600 miles to become a new yorker. Unfortunately, one of my parents other dogs did not approve of Louis and after a period of trying to make things work, my parents did not think they could keep him.
Here is where I come in. Accepting the plight of all veterinarians and vet students of taking in every down and out creature, I adopted "Tre" and changed his name to Louis. The rest is history.
Louis is now about 4 and a half years old. He is the sweetest pup you could ever know and is a real momma's boy. He gets along famously with my 2 other dogs and 5 cats. He is always ready to snuggle, give a wet slobbery kiss (seriously...he gives the BEST puppy kisses!!), or a really great hug. He does have an occasional problem with separation anxiety (its no wonder with all of the time he spent in a cage), but is very happy with his new digs here in Ohio. As far as his activity level and ability to get around, it's like he never had a disability at all. He is EXTREMELY active! Along with loving to play ball and fetch a stick, his other favorite activity is jumping about 4-5 feet straight up into the air.
Although his front paws stick out to the side a bit and his front legs are "bow-legged" because of all of the pressure he put on his front end while he was recovering from surgery, his only real reminder of his ordeal are the small scars on each of his knees. The bowed legs and turned out toes give him character, and I wouldn't want him any other way.
He has gotten me through so much over the last few years, and I couldn't ever imagine my life without him. He is a true inspiration to me. He is my Louie.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mail Carrier Safety-are they truly concerned?

Almost daily I hear another report of a Mail Carrier being attacked by a dog. These dogs, more often than not, are animals that are usually confined on their own property be it by fence, chain or behind a screened door. Confined until something or someone provokes the dog enough to jump a fence, break a chain or force its way out a door. I recently sent a letter to the Postmaster General in an effort to address the issue and offer suggestions.

Mail Carriers are in the unique position of being a provocation for many dogs, without meaning to be. There is no other person who “invades” the dog’s yard on a daily basis, usually around the same time each day. This creates an unhealthy and potentially dangerous pattern. In the dogs view, “Here comes that person, walking through my yard again! Now they are closer, oh my gosh, they are on the porch! I must bark and defend this territory and make them leave.” As the dog is barking and behaving in this manner the Mail Carrier finishes delivery and leaves the property. This creates an action/reward scenario for the dog and the dog is conditioned to act aggressively toward the Mail Carrier. This is reinforced daily, six days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. With this level of reinforcement, if given the opportunity, the dog will take it to the next level, resulting in injuries to Mail Carriers. Unfortunately, many dog owners are not overly responsible, and are either not aware or unwilling to take the precautions necessary to safeguard the Mail Carriers.

I am not quite sure why the USPS feels it is necessary to place the Mail Carriers in this vulnerable position when there are alternatives available. Carriers would be much safer if they were able to deliver mail from the safety of a vehicle rather than on foot. There is no reason why mail needs to be delivered to the door. Most neighborhoods are designed in a manner which would accommodate curbside mail delivery via a standard mailbox. If mail theft is a concern, the consumer could purchase a locking mailbox. In neighborhoods where on street parking is the only option, central mail distribution boxes could be installed, similar to those found in many apartment complexes. I am sure the cost of installing these boxes would be much less than the medical expenses incurred by Mail Carriers that are attacked by dogs.

I received a response from the USPS who wrote "We would prefer to deliver mail from the vehicle to a curbside mailbox and avoid the consequences of unwanted interaction between the dog and the carrier, just as you suggest. However, the vast majority of the population does not see it quite this way. We are just finishing a response to a Congressional inquiry as to why we will not deliver to the door of a man whose dog DID attack and injure a carrier. And when we do try to relocate mailboxes to either the curbside or a centralized delivery point we are met with a barrage of hostile letters." "I am sure any major change such as this would face insurmountable objections from the general public as well as their elected representatives."

Can it be? Can those people and representatives who are chanting about "Dangerous Dogs" really have a serious objection to curbside mail delivery? Is slipping on a pair of shoes and walking 50 feet to a mailbox really such an inconvenience? Why is the USPS at the mercy of these people? Why are elected representatives not concerned about mail carrier safety unless a situation can feed into the dangerous breed hysteria? I think the USPS and local representatives need to take a stand and have concern for the carriers. I think the general public needs to get on board and send letters to the USPS and their city leaders in support of curbside mail delivery.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Dogs of HELP FIDO

(admin note: This is the second in a series of stories about the dogs who belong to the members of HELP FIDO. These stories will help you to understand why we do what we do. Also - this was written by Amanda Spires but because she STILL hasn't hooked up her pc at home and her work won't let her see blog's - it has been posted by Admin. Maybe someday we will be able to convert her posts over to her name - if she EVER gets online at home!)
Diamond Dog's Story:
Diamond's special. And when I say special, I mean short bus special, different special, backwards special and silly special. He's all sorts of special, folks. He was one of two dogs that bravely took me in a new direction that changed my life. If that sounds overly dramatic, that would be accurate. Even before I met my little alien, I had raised my hand to help a few deserving dogs from our shelter find a new home who would otherwise be put to death for just being something that “could be identified as” a pit bull. "Yea," I thought, "we’ll transfer these guys to all those awesome pit bull rescue groups that are just aching for more dogs to place. It’ll be really easy." Yea, real simple. That bubble didn’t take long to burst. After a few months of disappointing news from inundated pit bull rescue groups, and other groups that couldn’t get involved with “those dogs”, we went back to the drawing board and I found a new passion.
OK, back to Diamond. Diamond lived out an estimated 1-2 years tethered to a chain-link fence in a dusty backyard. His "shelter" was a Vari kennel (the type OK'd to transport dogs in airplanes). As an outdoor dog in Central Ohio, he endured rain, snow, freezing temperatures, broiling temperatures, fly strikes, fleas, sunburn, eye infections and probably some not so nice treatment from our fellow two-legged types. A friend of mine refers to this type of existence as "bird bath terriers" (pit bull terriers plopped in a yard and left to rot there much as an unattended birdbath would). Enter a few amazing animal cruelty investigators (two women that he worships to this day), a search warrant and the local police. Diamond’s fate took close to 1 year to be determined. Since then, over the past 2 and half years, he's been a huge part of my life. I tend to say he adopted me, but truth is the first (and last) time someone inquired about adopting him, I had to turn them down. The idea of him living with someone else was just something I couldn't bear! So, he became my "foster" dog. I think we all know the rest.

He's put on about 10 pounds since then (so he's close to 70 pounds currently) and has clothes now (which he loves, especially the rain coat and his fleece). He's been beaten up by no fewer than 2 cats and has been reduced to a shivering mess by a feisty Shi Tzu. He's my shadow and has learned to put up with a lot of changes in the past 12 months. My dude that loves . . . no . . . clings to routine lost the first real home he ever knew when I didn't renew my lease last summer. I put our life in storage, quit my job and stuffed him and his large dog bed in the car for a road trip that took 4 days to finish. I think people wondered where I found such a backwards, unidentifiable character, but he loved the West Coast sun and we found quiet spots to enjoy together. We're settled once again and his life now includes a new-ish canine lil' bro and a bratty foster puppy. He really does love to wrastle with the youngsters, but every once in a while (like when he gets clobbered by two teenaged pit bulls reenacting the Indy 500 at 11:30PM) I swear I see a look in his eyes that seems to miss that dusty Vari kennel. I know I'll never have another dog like him, and I love him to teensy weensy neurotic white dog pieces!
(Admin note: Amanda started and coordinates the bully breeds adoptable program at the Capital Area Humane Society. )

Monday, August 11, 2008

Busy Weekend!!

The crew of HELP FIDO was busy this weekend! In addition to our booth last Tuesday for National Night Out, we had a booth at the Whitehall Family Fun Night on Saturday! In total we have signed up more than 70 owners of more than 100 dogs for the planned fall micro-chipping clinic! We are tentatively looking at Saturday September 13th in Whitehall. We are also looking into the possibility of offering low-cost vaccines (including rabies), and Franklin County dog licensing. Additionally, for the two-legged folks, we may be offering voter registration! If you are interested in participating either as an owner, a volunteer (we will need many!), a vet or vet tech to help, or as a donor or sponsor please contact us!! Or if you want to make sure to hear about this and any other upcoming events, volunteer needs, or just stay in contact with us - sign up for our mailing list and Join the Pack!!
We also connected with the folks at Whiskers Animal Welfare. This rescue group shares many of our same goals and has some gorgeous kitties up for adoption. (Believe it or not, reducing the numbers of feral and intact cats can also lead to improved quality of life for dogs!!) They will be hosting a car show fundraiser September 21 in Lancaster and we hope to post more info soon!
While we were busy enjoying the beautiful weather, food and music outside, HELP FIDO treasurer and rescuer Lisa was speaking at a local pit bull expo. Lisa was invited to speak about responsible breeding practices (spay neuter contract!), image control (do you REALLY need that spiked collar?), and BSL. Lisa reports that the dogs were precious and the owners were excellent listeners. We are so thankful she was invited to speak and we look forward to more opportunities to spread this information!
Dog owners unite! Several folks in the blogosphere are reporting on what our friends up in Lucas County / Toledo are doing to get rid of the maniacal Tom Skeldon. Not only are they looking to ditch the dog warden - they are demanding low-cost spay neuter services and educational programs! If you would like to sign their petition go here and consider sending the link to anyone you know who lives in or around Lucas County. The group spearheading this movement is called 4 Lucas County Pets. Also, via comments below from Caveat via KC Dog Blog, Lakewood residents are also starting a petition - this time to repeal their recently approved ban. Go Bucks!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Senior Dogs - Part 2

Well here it is...Part 2 of my discussion on our aging furry friends. This time we will talk about things that should prompt a phone call to your local doggie doctor when it comes to your aging pups.

Regular veterinary examinations (generally every 6 months for wellness exams) are important for dogs of any age. Many people think annual examinations are sufficient, but more frequent exams may been needed based on your pet's health. If you think about things in terms of human versus dog years, dogs age an average of 7 years for every one human year. Taking a dog to the vet only once a year is about equivalent to a human going to a physician every 7 years. This is certainly not frequent enough to make sure our pets are in tip top shape, especially aging pets.

As a dog ages, signs of potentially serious health problems are commonly overlooked by pet owners as "normal for an old dog". It is much better to err on the side of caution and have anything new or unusual in your dog checked out as soon as possible by your veterinarian. Timing is critical for older pets and as such, it is important to report any changes in appetite, behavior, elimination or any new symptoms as soon as they occur.

Arthritis pain - As previously mentioned in Senior Dogs Part 1, there are many medications and treatments available today to help ease the pain and discomfort of arthritis. There are also certain pharmaceuticals that can help prolong the onset of more serious arthritis pain and discomfort. If your dog is exhibiting problems rising, moving around, getting up/down stairs, limping, or chewing at their joints contact your veterinarian.

Bad breath, bleeding gums - Good dental health is important not only for the teeth, mouth and gums, but overall general health as well! As a dog ages, tartar, gum disease (periodontal disease), and tooth loss are all potential problems. Oral cancers, infections, metabolic diseases (kidney disease, Diabetes Mellitus) are also potential causes for bad breath and oral health problems. Certain disease processes like heart disease/failure, kidney disease and diabetes can actually become more serious as a result of bacteria building up in the blood from dental/mouth infections and disease. It is important to take care of your dog's teeth at any age, but it becomes even more of a serious health risk as they age if their teeth are in poor shape.

Sudden blindness, hearing loss, head tilt / staggering - These signs can be seen with a variety of causes such as infection (nervous system, ears, sinuses), poisoning/toxins, age-related vestibular disease (problems with balance/equilibrium), cancer, etc. If you notice any of these signs in your aging pet you should consult your veterinarian as soon as possible so a diagnosis can be made and treatment can be started as soon as possible. Sudden blindness could be a result of cataracts that develop as a result of diabetes. Cataracts can develop very quickly (over a few days) and you might see very acute changes in your dog's sight.

Change in weight or appetite - Weight loss or gain should be kept track of, as well as any changes in diet or eating habits. Dogs should be fed a diet appropriate for their age and general health. Generally a "senior" type dog food is ok for an aging pet. These diets usually have a lower amount of sodium and protein to keep up with your older dog's changing metabolism and kidney function. Your veterinarian may prescribe a special diet to help treat certain disease processes like kidney, liver or heart disease.

Change in urine output and thirst - Dogs should not drink more water simply because they are old, it's hot out, or they are nervous. The most common causes of increased water intake are diabetes and kidney problems. Urine leakage or having uncontrolled "accidents" also signal problems, either with infection, loss of bladder control, or other underlying disease.
Many of these problems can be treated successfully with medications once they are properly diagnosed by your veterinarian.

Cognitive Dysfunction - Dogs, like humans, can experience age-related dementia. You may see your dog wandering aimlessly through the house, standing in corners or barking/whining at inappropriate times (like in the middle of the night). There are certain medications that can help some dogs with these problems. Consult your veterinarian to see if there is a treatment appropriate for your dog.

Hair loss, itchy skin - This can occur at any age, and should not be ignored whether your dog is 12 days or 12 years old. Dogs can do a lot of damage to their skin by licking, scratching, biting and chewing and can suffer from extreme discomfort as a result of dermatological problems. Some dogs suffer from endocrine (hormonal) diseases including hypothyroidism (discussed in Senior Dogs Part 1) that can cause skin/coat problems. Dogs can also get fleas and ticks at any age. It is important to make an appointment at your veterinarian's office as soon as you discover your dog has a skin problem.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the problems your older furry friend may experience. There are many, many more things that I see on a daily basis, but these are the most common things you should look for. Generally, if your dog is "not himself or herself" in any way, or if you are seeing anything out of the ordinary, then it is time for a check up at the veterinary clinic! Regular checkups and communication with your vet will ensure that you are doing all you can to help your pet to live comfortably and enjoy his or her senior years.

That's all for now!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

National Night Out

National Night Out in Whitehall, OH was held on Tuesday August 5th, and HELP FIDO was there.

What a wonderful event it was! Hundreds of Whitehall residents came out to promote safety in their community and we were happy to provide them with a boatload of information on topics like dog bite prevention, spaying and neutering and our upcoming microchip clinic this fall. I am happy to report that we had more than 50 people sign up for the microchip clinic at the event! The Whitehall City Council members all seemed thankful for our participation and many of them visited our booth to thank us personally. We are certainly grateful to them for giving us the opportunity to provide our services to the good people of their city.

The event was such a success we decided to do it all over again this Saturday, August 9th!! HELP FIDO will be at the Family Fun Day/Music in the Park event in Whitehall from 2-9 pm. We will again be providing citizens with tons of information on various doggie topics like those mentioned above as well as others like shelter adoption, vaccinations, pet insurance and many many more! We hope to see everyone there!!!

This is Dr. Mandi signing out!

Monday, August 4, 2008

DNA testing....Aren't we all just mutts?

BAD RAP reported on this in a great blog about Tank...a mixed breed pup with what Franklin County dog wardens would probably label as a "mixed breed dog whose appearance and physical characteristics is predominately those of any of the dogs . . . or is a combination of any of the dogs listed" including American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and American Bulldog. How they become experts at this is any one's guess. Lisa will be posting a longer blog detailing the ins and outs of Ohio Revised Code and how it is enforced. But I wanted to touch again on the importance of how difficult it is to determine the breed of a dog, and more importantly how that determination is used to decide whether a dog is adoptable or to be killed simply because of its supposed breed and not because of behavior.
Taking a cruise through the Franklin County Dog Shelter's adoptable website - one finds some lovely mutts. This little guy to the left is labeled as a mixed breed - and I am certain he is!! But look at that brindle coat . . . those ears...that big head... dogs like him (especially in Whitehall where everyone is the expert!) might find his very life at stake because he looks so . . . mixed!

Noted in BAD RAP's blog is a recent article in the Boston Globe about DNA testing, and how several shelters in the Boston area are ready to stop trying to identify breeds in obvious mixed dogs and label them as "New England Mutts" (note: Would that mean if done here they would be "Buckeye Mutts"?? Ponder this and get back to me!). Later in the Boston article they tell of an owner who had her dog tested, and whose test results showed a "trace" of pit bull. Hoping to prove a point she asked that her dog's label as pit bull be changed...only to be told by the city's ACO's that the trace was enough. To me, and this is not meant in any way to lessen the drama of their plight, this situation reminds me the civil rights movement. In the very least, the discussion of "trace" ancestry reeks of Nazi-ism.

So - as a reminder - if you or someone you know has gotten their dog DNA tested, HELP FIDO is accruing this information for a research project. You can read more here and you can contact us for more info. Unlike some places in this country. . . all dogs and their test results are welcomed!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Charity Dog Wash for Measles A HUGE Success!

Thanks to all the Pack members who turned out to scrub and dry pups at Alum Creek! Over a thousand bucks was raised for Measles Animal Haven. If you missed your chance and wish to make a donation to them you can visit their site.
Special "two paws up" to Celine Brotherton who came up from Cincinnati to help! Woof woof!!
Photos will be up soon on Pitties Place and here so keep your eyes peeled!

Join the Pack this Tuesday night, August 5th, for National Night Out in Whitehall, John Bishop Park, 5pm - 9pm.

To find out about more events and volunteer opportunities, Join the Pack!

These are the dogs of HELP FIDO...our dogs...this is why we are here...