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Kennel cough is a potentially serious illness that is a combination of infections, both viral and bacterial. Kennel Cough’s medical term is infectious canine tracheobronchitis. It sounds serious because it is. It causes an inflammation of your dog’s voice box and windpipe. In healthy dogs kennel cough can potentially go away on its own, however it is extremely contagious. This ailment can be very severe especially when we are talking about young puppies and older dogs, because at early and late stages in life dogs have weakened/poor immune systems. How can you tell if your puppy or dog has kennel cough?
Here are a few symptoms to keep on your radar:
Constant Dry hacking cough
Cough sounds like a HONK
runny nasal discharge
Can you avoid Kennel cough?
No you cannot avoid it altogether. Kennel cough commonly spreads in pet boarding, daycare, groomers, training classes, playtime at the park, even the vets office. Your dog can contract kennel cough from the air, direct dog to dog contact, or from a contaminated object like a ball another dog touched. There are several vaccines, which can HELP prevent your pet from contracting kennel cough. Please understand if your dog already HAS kennel cough, administering the vaccine, at this point, will NOT help your dogs condition.
Recommended vaccine routines for your puppy at the appropriate age can help minimize your chances of catching kennel cough. The most common cause is the parainflueza virus. Followed by the adenovirus-2 and bordetella. Vaccines for all 3 are commonly found in many combo vaccines and should be administered 4x early in the puppies life and then again at booster season. Please see your vet or consult an expert for appropriate ages for each vaccine. Proper administering is very important in proper prevention. Just like the human flu virus, even after receiving the vaccination, a dog can still contract mutated strains or less severe cases of kennel cough.
If you have some of the symptoms above and think your pet may have kennel cough what do you do?
Visit for vet immediately! Your vet will diagnose based largely on the symptoms, in combination with a chemical blood profile and a urine test. You will be advised to separate your dog from all other dogs to avoid further spreading of the cough. Your dog may or may not be given a cough suppressant . Antibiotics will be given to treat any bacterial infection. A vaporizer will help keep your dog comfortable and ease their labored breathing. But for the most part, it just needs to run its course. In healthy dogs kennel cough will generally last about 3 weeks with a gradual decrease in symptoms thru the timeline. In more severe cases it can last 6 weeks or even longer. Please note separation is key to not spreading, and your animal can remain quite contagious even after you think all symptoms are gone. If kennel cough is severe and left untreated it can turn into pneumonia and even lead to death. So please do not self diagnose if its minor or severe, let an expert make that call!
Winter Safety Tips for your Dogs
Many parts of the country experience extremely cold weather that presents challenges for dog owners. Familiarity with cold weather health hazards can keep your pet safe while allowing both of you to enjoy the outdoors.
Temperature Related Conditions
Puppies, senior dogs and dogs with certain disease conditions (such as thyroid conditions) are more susceptible to cold temperatures. Temperature related illnesses require immediate removal to a warm, dry environment and medical attention by your veterinarian.
Hypothermia can result from extended exposure to cold and is a life-threatening condition. Watch your dog for signs of shivering, shallow breathing, weak pulse or lethargy.
Frostbite is a temperature related tissue injury and most commonly occurs on ears, tails, scrotum or feet. Signs include discolored skin (red, pale, or grayish) swelling, or blisters. Check your pet often for signs of frostbite which may be hidden beneath fur.
Antifreeze – Ethylene Glycol, car antifreeze, is a deadly poison and has a sweet taste that appeals to dogs. As little as 1-2 teaspoons can be lethal to a small animal. Clean up all spills and consider switching to a Propylene Glycol product that is safer.
Ice Melters – Salt and ice-melters can act as a skin irritant. Make sure to wash your pet’s feet off after coming indoors. Dogs with long fur and /or short legs should have their stomach areas cleaned off as well.
If you normally have your pet’s fur clipped or shaved, keep the length longer in winter to keep your dog warm.
Nails may require more frequent trimming since your dog is spending more time indoor on soft surfaces.
If you bathe your dog at home make sure he is completely dry before going out. You may even want to switch to a waterless shampoo for the winter.
Examine the pads of your dog’s feet for signs of cracking or irritation. A pet-specific foot balm will help condition the pads.
Dogs with short coats or low body fat (Chihuahuas, Greyhounds, miniature Pinschers etc.) will benefit from a water-resistant sweater or coat when outdoor temperatures drop.
Boots are a good way to protect feet and pads from salt and chafing.
Keep your pet on a leash in cold weather – more dogs are lost in the winter than in any other season. Unleashed dogs may also run onto partially frozen bodies of water.
Limit the duration of your outdoor trips to minimize chance of frostbite or hypothermia.
Don’t let your dog eat snow. The snow may cause stomach upset or there may be hidden objects in the snow.
Special Considerations for Outdoor Dogs
You should bring your dogs inside for the winter if at all possible.
If bringing your dogs inside for the season is not possible your dogs must have warm, windproof shelter – preferably heated.
Dry, clean bedding is essential to keeping warm and straw or bedding needs replenished all winter season long.
Water & food can easily freeze. Use heated bowls to prevent freezing and make sure that the electrical cords are out of reach of your pets.
Outdoor dogs will burn more calories (up to 30%) and need extra food. Make sure that you are feeding additional rations during cold temperature.
Winter Training Tips
Basic obedience training and cold weather safety practices will allow you and your pet to enjoy winter weather conditions safely.
Make sure that your dog or puppy is comfortable with having their feet wiped & handled. Keep towels near the door and making foot-wiping part of your daily routine. Reward your pet for allowing you to examine the condition of pads, check for ice in between toes, and trim fur (if required.)
Obedience training for loose leash walking will make slippery walks safer for both pet and owner.
Commands like “leave it” can save a dog’s life when confronted with a pool of antifreeze or an unknown object in the snow.
Recall (coming when called) can keep a dog from running onto a partially frozen body of water or away from another winter hazard.
Who’s ready for a trim?
The dogs who welcome the trim are much easier customers but for those who are squeamish, there are certain tactics to make your job just a little easier.
Keeping your dogs nails well manicured is important to the comfort of your dog. When their nails are too long it may make it uncomfortable to walk and force your dog to hold their ankles or paws in an un-natural position to account for the overgrown nails. This can cause foot or leg injuries, or discomfort to you dog.
It is advised to begin cutting your dogs nails as a young pup to familiarize them with the process. This will help alleviate the stress and fear associated with the manicure as well. If you have an older dog or pup who has already had a bad experience with the clippers you have to begin with a trust building exercise. The sight or sound of the clippers may send your dog into anxiety overload. Try taking the clippers to your pup a few times a day for only a minute and gently tapping them on his nails( no cutting). This will familiarize them with the sight and sound of the clipper, so when cutting day comes they associate the clipper with a painless experience, and are less willing to fight you or hide under the bed.
You can’t go wrong with bribery! Pick a special treat associated ONLY with manicures. This will be very special to your dog, and he will look forward to his special treat from you for being a good customer.
To properly restrain the unwilling customer without hurting them, an advised method is to place them on a table and stand to the side of table, drape your cutting arm over the dogs upper body and place your free forearm over their neck to keep them from worming and wiggling around.
Next, place you hand around the foot at the ankle, make sure you have a firm grasp to avoid the dog jerking his foot away from you. Stabilize the nail you are about to cut by putting your fingers under the pad of his foot, and your thumb on the toe you are about to cut.
Once they are secured, take your guillotine type trimmer, and gently place the nail into the circle hole of the trimmer. The trimmers handle should be pointed towards the floor for the correct 45 degree angle. It is important to make sure the blade of the trimmer is facing you and not the dog to ensure an accurate cut. Quick tip to make sure the blade is facing the right way, is that the screw on the clipper should be facing your dog.
Dogs have two types of toenails , light colored toenails which are the great when it comes to cutting, and dark colored toe nails. The color of the nail originates from the color of the hair on that toe. To do a proper cut you want to cut within 2 ml of the quick. The quick is the blood vessel or pink you can see in the lightly colored toenails. Accidentally hitting the quick will cause bleeding and pain to you dog, and most likely make him not want to let you near his feet anymore!
When it comes to the dark colored toenails don’t try to do the nail in one clip, take several small cuts to avoid running into the quick.
Nails on the back paws generally grow much slower then the front, so less frequent or smaller clips will be necessary for these feet.
If you accidently hit the quick do not panic. Without treatment the bleeding will stop on its own in about 5 minutes. You can use a styptic pencil or powder containing silver nitrate to stop the bleeding faster if you have on hand. Simply hold on the tip of the nail and gently rotate until the bleeding stops. If you do not have this product in your house a simple cornstarch or flour dabbed on the tip of the nail will also help to stop the bleeding. Most important is keep him off the foot for at least 15 minutes. Walking on the foot will increase the blood flow and cause the bleeding to carry on heavier and longer. It is OKAY if they lick the toe, it will keep them busy so they wont be walking around!
Both you and your dog will grow more confident in nail trimming when you trust each other and continue to have successful cuts. Take your time, talk gently with you dog threw the process, and try to make it something fun for you and your pet to do!
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