Month: November 2017

Herding dogs can suffer from a genetic mutation causing a reaction to certain drugs

Although it is rare, white footed herding breeds such as Border collies, Corgies and Australian shepherds can have a genetic mutation that makes them sensitive to ivermectin and several other drugs including some chemotherapy medicines.

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For example, a dog named Bristol who had the genetic mutation almost died as a result of the mutation. Bristol was barely responsive and suffering from seizures. It took months of treatment including a mechanical ventilator and rehabilitation to bring her back to normal health. Bristol had eaten the droppings of sheep that had been recently dewormed with ivermectin, which is what caused her health issue.

It is easy to determine if your dog has the genetic mutation by asking your veterinarian for a simple test to determine if your dog has the genetic mutation. The test involves using a small brush to swab the inside of your dog’s mouth. The swab is sent to a laboratory for the results.

This is an easy preventative way to protect your dog, especially if your dog is around barns, livestock or used for herding trials. All herding breeds should be tested to be safe. It would be a good idea to test all herding breeds whether they are white-footed or not. Rather be safe than sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

Excessive barking in dogs

A dog who barks excessively can be a nuisance to neighbors as well as the dog’s owners. Some breeds tend to bark more than others. Often the herding breeds can be barkers because some breeds have been bred to manage livestock by barking, such as the Bearded Collie. Other breeds are bred to bark or “sound” such as hounds. If excessive barking is a problem for your situation, consider the breed traits before you get a dog by researching whether or not that breed or type of dog tends to be a barker.

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If you already have a dog who barks, there are steps you can take to control the barking. Some people are concerned that if they teach their dog not to bark that the dog will not alert them when necessary. This is not true. If there is a real reason to bark a dog will do it even if he is taught not to bark.

The best time to start training a dog not to bark excessively is when they are puppies. But even if your dog is older, you can still teach the dog not to bark excessively. A good positive obedience program will help build the communication between you and your dog so that you can teach your dog to be quiet on command. An obedience program will help your dog understand what you want and will build the relationship between you and your dog.

To control excessive barking, start by determining why the dog is barking. Some dogs bark for attention, some out of boredom, sometimes there are wild animals (such as squirrels) or birds outside a window that tease the dog, and some dogs bark to lure another dog or pet to play.

The first step is to remove the stimulus that causes the dog to bark. Next exercise your dog to the point where he comes in and flops down for a nap. Depending on the breed you may have to do this a few times a day, especially for a younger dog.

Next when the dog is quiet, teach the dog to speak on command. Once the dog will speak offer a treat at the same time you give the command “quiet.” Give the treat as soon as the dog stops barking.

Note: If you hold the treat between your fingers while the dog is barking and then quickly put the treat under your dog’s nose, he will stop barking. He cannot sniff and bark at the same time.

Do not yell at the dog to be quiet without teaching the dog the command. Remember, dogs do not speak English, so they do not understand the words you are yelling at them. To a dog your yelling sounds like you are barking along with your dog and that will encourage him to bark more.

Although it may be difficult, totally ignore your dog when he barks. It may take awhile, but if you do not respond the dog will learn that barking does not get the results that he wants.

You can also try to divert the dog when he starts to bark by using a command that tells the dog to do something else such as fetching a toy which can divert the dog from barking.

When a dog barks, in most cases, he has a good reason for doing so even though that reason may not be an acceptable one to you. Dogs need to bark just as much as we need to talk. However, they can control their barking and learn when it is appropriate to bark and when it is not.

The key to success is to not give up and after your dog learns what the “quiet” command means, praise your dog for being quiet. Everyone will be happier, even your dog.

PTSD in dogs

Recently canine behaviorists and veterinarians have seen what appears to be a canine version of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in dogs (PTSD).

Some of the dogs are combat veterans and police dogs. However, it is possible that pet dogs who experience a traumatic event can also suffer from PTSD.

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Pet dogs who suffer from PTSD can include dogs that have been frightened by fireworks, are noise sensitive, or have been injured in some way. The symptoms usually vary from case to case. Some dogs will be over-responsive, showing extreme fear for example, while others change the way they interact with their owner/handler such as becoming aggressive or over clingy or timid.

Other symptoms can include attempting to escape certain environments or avoid those environments. In some cases, the dog in question who was a good working dog will suddenly fail to complete his tasks or shut down entirely.

Treatment for each case will vary. Sometimes a veterinarian will suggest an anti-anxiety medication to be used for the short term. This must be coupled with retraining, desensitizing to the environmental elements and situations that cause the problem and counter-conditioning to build the dog’s confidence. People who own or work with these dogs must understand that it takes time to work through the issues and that there is no magic pill to fix the problem.

Fortunately, there are certified canine behavior consultants who can help these dogs. There are also organizations dedicated to saving the dogs and finding suitable homes for them when necessary. One organization is Combat Canines: The DDoc Foundation.

It is important to keep in mind that rehabilitating these dogs takes time. No one knows for sure if they actually suffer from PTSD because the dogs cannot tell us. However, the symptoms strongly suggest that they do. Many of these dogs have served our country faithfully and deserve a second chance for a happy life.

Probiotics for humans and pets

Probiotics are a hot topic in both humans and pets. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract in both humans and animals is responsible for overall health.

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It is the largest immune organ in the body. It is also the home of trillions of microorganisms. The ratio of these microorganisms and their relationship to each other is what makes us healthy or unhealthy.

Probiotics are a supplement that both animals and humans can take to make sure that the balance as well as the presence of these microorganisms is correct. Although there is not enough conclusive research about the benefits for humans and animals, there are enough positive results to warrant taking them.

We do know more about how they work in humans than animals, but since animals often have the same results as humans, it is safe to assume that they help in the same ways. So let’s look at how they help in humans to understand the benefits of probiotics.

Mainly they help with diarrhea that is a result of taking antibiotics and they may help with traveler’s diarrhea.  People with ulcerative colitis sometimes benefit from the VSL#3 blend of probiotics. Interestingly there is also evidence that probiotics may help with depression and anxiety, and last but not least, they may reduce the risk of blood infections known as sepsis.

When purchasing probiotics is it important to consider the cost, since many are expensive. Also, certain groups of people such as the very young, elderly, those whose systems are immune-compromised because of health conditions (autoimmune disease, severe burns, on chemotherapy, or on immune suppressants) may experience gas and bloating if they take probiotics too quickly.

It is important to talk to your doctor, (or veterinarian for your pet), about the amount of probiotics needed to bring the results necessary. Research indicates that people may need from one to ten million daily.

 

 

Declawing a cat

Some people feel that they must declaw a cat in order to save their furniture, rugs and curtains. However, they fail to realize that declawing a cat is not the same a trimming their nails. It involves removing the end bone and claw on each of the cat’s toes. This is a painful procedure and the cat will need care and pain medications to recover. Many veterinarians will not declaw a cat.

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Declawing a cat will also take away the cat’s main defense mechanism. While you may feel that your cat will be an indoor cat, during the cat’s lifetime, he may accidently get outside and will be almost defenseless.

Scratching is a normal behavior for a cat. They mark their territory and sharpen their nails by scratching. It seems that they also enjoy the activity.

Rather than declaw a cat, you can teach a cat to use a scratching post. Provide a scratching post in the places the cat likes to scratch. If the cat starts to scratch furniture, simply say no and move the cat to a scratching post. They are capable of learning where to scratch. Clicker training can help a cat learn to use a scratching post.

There are different types of scratching posts for cats. Experiment with them to see which one appeals to your cat. Some of the types of scratching posts are ones made from rug, natural wood and cardboard like substance.

It is easier to train a young cat than an older cat, but the main thing is to not give up. With the right scratching post and encouragement, your cat will learn.

If you do consider declawing, consult with your veterinarian first to see what is involved in the procedure as well as the care that the cat will need after. It is always easier to declaw a young cat. Declawing an older cat or one that has medical issues can be riskier and cause health problems.

Understanding your cat can be easier than you think

Cats communicate in many ways. They use vocalizations, body language and spatial position to communicate.

For example, a cat will gently paw you to get your attention. While batting things around is a form of play, a hard swat without their claws out can be a warning. A swat with the claws out is a much more aggressive act, either in defense or as an attack. Of course there is the kneading action with their paws that cats do when they are happy.

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(my cat who was taught not to bother the bird, note the bird is not afraid of the cat)

When a cat vocalizes a short meow is like a greeting, or a friendly “how are you doing?” A meow that is a bit louder and perhaps longer typically is a request for something, such as dinner or to get to a place that is inaccessible. A longer meow is a more demanding request, typically if you ignored the cat’s earlier request. A high pitch meow is a protest, such as if the cat does not like to be groomed or have its nails clipped. Then there is a long, almost sad meow that sounds as if the cat is confused.

If an old cat does this and seems to be lost or confused, it is time for an examination by your veterinarian. The cat may be suffering from or starting to get dementia. A hiss is usually a warning to move away from the cat. Purring is usually a sign of contentment but a cat that is in pain or stress will purr.

Facial expressions are important, including the ear set, eyes as well as the mouth. Flattened ears show that the cat is angry or frightened. Large dark eyes also can mean anger or fear. An opened mouth with a hiss is anger or fear and it can be difficult for a cat owner to tell the difference between anger and fear.

A cat’s tail is just as expressive as vocalizations. A happy cat will have its tail up and often with a small hook at the end. A swishing tail is a sign of annoyance and sometimes anger. Of course there are many positions in between the upright tail and the swishing tail. Some cats will appear to be contented but the tips of their tail flicks up and down or back and forth, it can mean that the cat is irritated. When some cats are very happy their tail will stand upright and shake with the hair at the base of the tail puffed out.

As most people know, when a cat is angry or frightened they will arch their back and raise the hair on their back and tail. The tail will usually be erect or curved down and sometimes tucked between their legs.

To help our cats understand us, we need to be consistent in our body language and tone of voice. You can train a cat if you are careful not to give the cat mixed signals. A treat with a happy face and voice will show a cat that you are pleased with their behavior. A firm no and a serious face will let them know that you do not approve of their actions.

Cats sometimes do not recognize our space. Therefore, if a cat gets on you, near you or goes where you do not want them to go, such as on the table at dinner time, you can give the cat a stern “no” and point to the floor while you gently push them away. It may take a few times but the cat will learn.

For behavior that you want, you can smile, tell the cat that it is good and give the cat a treat. The cat will learn that this is acceptable behavior. Of course, you can clicker train a cat. https://clickertraining.com/cat-training

With a little thought, planning, and careful observation, it is not as difficult to communicate with a cat or understand what they are trying to tell us as a person may think. Your cat will love you more for the effort and you will understand your cat better.

New research shows how birds learn new songs

Richard Hahnloser a researcher from the Institute of Neuroinformatics run by ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich has made an interesting discovery. He found that Zebra finches divide the complex task of learning a new song into manageable parts. When the song was changed, the birds adapted the syllables or notes of the song that they knew to the new song. After a short period of time they were able to master the new song.

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The researchers found that the method that the birds used is similar to the method that computer linguists use to compare documents. It is also the same method that children use to learn a primary and secondary language.

The real implication of the study is not only the technique that the birds use, but the intelligence and thought process that they  have to use this technique. It requires awareness and the ability to analyze. The more we learn about animals, the more we realize they are much more intelligent than previously thought. How exciting it is to think of what discoveries await us.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171101092010.htm