Does Your Dog Shed Everywhere?

Much like humans, dogs routinely shed their hair as part of their bodies’ “renewal” process.

If, however, your dog is suddenly and inexplicably shedding so much hair that his coat is thin, there may be a medical reason for it. Not only that, but you yourself may feel uncomfortable with the hair sticking to your clothes, your furniture, and scattered throughout your home.

Consider, then, the following suggestions:

Bring your dog to the vet: Only by thoroughly examining and running tests on your dog can your vet make a clear determination as to the cause of his sudden hair loss – from allergies and fungal infections to skin cancer.

Regularly brush your dog’s hair: Regular brushing lessens the amount of hair being shed here, there and everywhere, by removing the weakest ones, and allows you to spend some soothing “get closer” time with your pet. At first, he may not like being brushed, but don’t give up. Begin slowly, once a day, brushing several times, then gently stroking his back. If he seems uncomfortable, stop immediately. Repeat the process until he grows truly comfortable and allows you to brush the hair all over his body.

Feed your dog a balanced diet: Feeding your dog the most nutritious, properly balanced diet possible will help him stay healthy and keep his coat soft and shiny. Conversely, an improper diet will affect his overall health, make his skin dry and increase the amount of hair he sheds. To ensure your dog is on the right diet for him, ask your vet for advice, and carefully read each product’s listed ingredients before making an informed choice.

Use a vacuum cleaner: The most efficient way to clean a carpeted home bristling with dog hair is to use a vacuum cleaner. If bulky vacuum cleaners reduce your incentive to clean regularly, purchase a sturdy handheld one to remove the hair quickly and effectively.

Keep the water bowl filled: Without an adequate amount of water daily, your dog’s skin becomes dry, his hair grows weak, and is shed more easily. To avoid this problem, ensure his water bowl is always filled with fresh water and placed within easy reach.

Use a sticky roller: Sticky rollers not only remove dirt, they also remove pet hairs from your clothes. Assiduous “rolling” will leave your clothing happily hair-free before you yourself leave home.

Reduce Your Dachshund’s High Risk of Back Injury

As a breed, Dachshunds are highly prone to back problems. While the most common site is the thoracolumbar spine, the neck and cervical spine can also be affected. Known as Intervertebral Disc Disease, it involves an intervertebral disc that either protrudes to some degree or has prolapsed completely, resulting in compression of the spinal cord, causing acute pain and/or neurological dysfunction.  

As with many other medical issues, prevention is key. And that means controlling your dog’s activities. If possible, avoid high-impact ones like jumping and running at high speeds, along with any other activity that puts excessive force on your dog’s spine. Included on this list of “no no’s” are:

Jumping onto or off beds and couches, chairs and car seats, etc.

Going up and down stairs. Most staircases aren’t well suited to a Dachshund’s short legs and long body.

Chasing after a squirrel or a ball, another dog or a car.

Rough housing with other pets or with people.

Games of tug-o-war.

To minimize the risk of injury, there are numerous physical aids you can use, including:

A harness collar. Fitting around your dog’s entire upper body, it helps distribute the force of the attached leash over a larger area, compared with a traditional neck collar, where all of the pressure is applied to your dog’s neck. Particularly helpful if yours is an aggressive “leash puller,” it may also prevent some of the twisting and turning movements that invariably affect the rest of your dog’s spine.

A dog crate. This is the most effective way of keeping your dog from engaging in any of the above-mentioned, high-risk activities when you’re not home. A protective device not a punitive one, when implemented properly, it can actually provide your dog with the sense of being in a calming and cozy cocoon. Ensure the crate is roomy and comfortable, and with patient training accompanied by treats as a reward, your dog should soon consider that crate “home.”

Dog ramps. Whether bought or constructed, ramps can be strategically placed throughout your home, and your dog trained to use them instead of jumping onto and down from furniture or going up and down at least some stairs.

A measuring cup. With obesity identified as a major contributor to Intervertebral Disc Disease, it’s easily preventable by maintaining your Dachshund’s weight and measuring the amount of his food. To determine your dog’s optimum weight, first consult with your vet.

As the old adage says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

 

DO YOU KNOW YOUR SHIH TZU?

The Shih Tzu may have several names, including Chinese Lion Dog, Lion Dog and Chrysanthemum Dog, but they all add up to the same thing. One very adorable, personable, often stubborn but always loyal and loving companion. 

With his sweet-natured temperament, the Shih Tzu is less demanding and less yappy than most toy breeds. Although solidly built and lively, his exercise needs are few – some short walks each day or some brief romps in the yard. Primarily a lover of comfort and attention, what this breed enjoys most is cuddling on laps and snuggling into soft pillows. 

Friendly and feisty, these small, flat-faced, silky coated sweethearts are usually trustworthy around older children, but their small size puts them at risk for unintentional injury around toddlers and very young children. 

Shih Tzu are generally healthy dogs, living to 15 years or more, but like every dog breed, they have their own distinct temperament and are prone to certain conditions and diseases. 

Because a Shih Tzu is difficult to housebreak, consistency is key, and crate training an essential aid. Never let a puppy roam your place unsupervised until completely housetrained.  

A Shih Tzu seems particularly prone to eating his or other dogs’ feces. Monitoring your dog’s behavior and cleaning up his poop promptly will prevent this from becoming a habit. 

The dense, double coat of a Shih Tzu should be combed or brushed daily to keep shedding and matting to a minimum.

 

The Shih Tzu tends to snore, wheeze and reverse sneeze, and the flatness of his face makes him susceptible to heat stroke (the air entering his lungs isn’t cooled as efficiently as in longer-nosed breeds). It’s wise to keep your Shih Tzu indoors in air-conditioned rooms during hot weather. And walk him in a Y-shaped harness that wraps around his chest, not his throat. A collar puts pressure on his windpipe and makes it harder for him to breathe. 

Reverse sneezing can occur when a Shih Tzu suffers from allergies, becomes overly excited, or gulps food too quickly. Nasal secretions drop onto the soft palate, causing it to close over the windpipe, creating that wheezing sound. Some experts suggest the fastest way to stop this is to pinch your dog’s nostrils closed, thereby forcing him to breathe through his mouth. 

Because of their undershot jaws, Shih Tzu are prone to dental and gum problems, such as retained baby teeth, missing and misaligned teeth, and must have their teeth brushed and vet checked regularly. 

The drop ears of the Shih Tzu create a dark and warm ear canal, leaving them prone to infection. To help prevent this, check and clean your dog’s ears weekly and keep him on a grain-free diet.  

Eye problems are not uncommon among Shih Tzu because of their large, bulging eyes. These disorders include keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or dry eye (a dryness of the cornea and the conjunctiva), distichiasis (abnormal growth of eyelashes on the margin of the eye, resulting in the eyelashes rubbing against it), proptosis (the eyeball is dislodged from the eye socket and the eyelids clamp shut behind the eyeball), keratitis (inflammation of the cornea that can lead to a corneal ulcer and blindness), and progressive retinal atrophy (degenerative disease of the retinal visual cells leading to blindness).

Also common are bladder stones and bladder infections, hip dysplasia (abnormal formation of the hip socket possibly causing pain and lameness) and patellar luxation, (dislocation of the kneecap), in which the knee joint slides in and out of place, causing pain and again, possible lameness. 

Health concerns aside, the Shih Tzu simply doesn’t care where he lives, as long as he’s with you. A highly adaptable dog, he can be equally comfortable in a small city apartment, a large suburban home or a cozy country cottage. 

If you want a dog who lives to love and be loved, whose primary characteristic is affection, and whose favorite destination is your lap, look no further than the Shih Tzu cuddled next to you.

Keeping Dogs Warm in the Cold

With the wind gusting, snow falling and thermometer plunging, conscientious dog owners are making certain that their precious pets remain snuggly safe and warm this winter.

Keep all dogs indoors, preferably in warm “go to” places away from drafts. To ensure their skin and coat are protected against the drier air – inside and out — brush them more often than usual. Pay special attention to both elderly and arthritic dogs, as their joints may stiffen in the cold, making their movements more awkward and painful.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace and light a fire, ensure that your dog is a safe distance from the heat, flames and flying embers. This reduces the risk of singed fur, hair, paws and tails. The same applies to space heaters, except that, in this case, a dog can knock over the heater itself, possibly causing a fire.

Weather permitting, the happiest, healthiest dogs are those being walked and exercised on a regular basis. But before going outside, dress your dog — particularly seniors and smaller breeds – in a heavy sweater or coat. The colder the temperature, the greater the protection and should include waterproof, padded parkas with hoods and dog booties.

Always keep your dog on a leash, whether you’re on a city street or a country road near a frozen pond or lake. There’s nothing more dangerous or frightening than a dog running loose in the snow, possibly losing all sense of direction, or falling through the ice into the water.

When it’s cold and snowy, many dogs will resist pottying outside. Ensure that they’re warmly, but comfortably dressed, and stand close to them, perhaps with an opened umbrella to shield them and keep them dry.

Dogs lose most of their body heat from the pads of their feet, their ears, and their respiratory tract. Monitor them closely for any signs of discomfort. If they begin to shiver or whine, appear anxious, slow down or stop moving altogether, it’s time to go back inside. Be on guard as well for two more serious conditions: frostbite and hypothermia.

Once indoors, dry your dog thoroughly, paying special attention to their paws and the pads of their feet. Licking at any salt and antifreeze coating their pads can make them sick, while the combination of ice and salt can cause their pads to crack and bleed.

Never leave your dog alone in a car for any length of time on a cold day. Cars are like giant refrigerators on wheels. The only safe place for your dog on a cold day is a warm home.

Holiday Hoopla and Doggy Health Hazards

With the holidays approaching, it’s time to think not only about celebrating, but also about dog safety.

To ensure that the season stays merry and bright, plan ahead and start early. Change the appearance of your home from everyday to holiday gradually, over a period of several weeks. This will allow your dog time to grow comfortable with everything from new or additional furniture and tabletop arrangements to wall and window decorations. To encourage your dog to view this as something positive, reinforce the sentiment by keeping him occupied with Kongs filled with cheese spread or peanut butter, or puzzle toys to puzzle over while you slowly transform the space around him. Maintain your dog’s normal feeding and walking schedules. Ensure that your dog’s “go to” place for security remains the same, unless you know from past experience that his doggy bed, crate or favorite blanket should be moved to a room far from the festivities.

Whether you’re hosting a single event or several, follow the same routine to minimize your dog’s potential uneasiness. Ask any unfamiliar guests and all of the children to calmly ignore your dog. Monitor your dog for any signs of anxiety or stress, and lead him to his “safe” place if necessary. On the other hand, if he appears relaxed and is eagerly going from guest to guest, provide them with some of his favorite treats so that they can keep him happily fed.

Be conscious of and careful about the greenery you bring into your home. The sap of the Poinsettia plant is considered mildly toxic, and can cause nausea or vomiting in your dog. Holly is considered moderately toxic and can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, whereas mistletoe is severely toxic and can cause everything from gastrointestinal disorders to cardiovascular problems. Christmas trees are considered mildly toxic. Their oils can irritate your dog’s mouth and stomach, causing excessive drooling and/or vomiting, while their prickly needles are hazardous to your dog’s entire GI tract. Wherever possible, keep all plants beyond your dog’s reach, or else watch him carefully for signs of curiosity, interest, or the impulse to either lick or chew. To err on the side of caution, buy artificial plants instead.

Consider next the breakable ornaments and dangling tinsel, shiny ribbons, ropes of small lights and flickering candles. All eye-catching eye candy to curious canines – from noses and teeth to paws and tails.

Hang delicate ornaments higher on the tree and resist placing any in decorative bowls on low surfaces. Not only can dogs choke on them, but the sharp edges of any broken pieces can lacerate their mouths, throats and intestines. Drape tinsel higher on the tree as well, and keep ribbons on gifts underneath the tree to a minimum. If tinsel or ribbons are swallowed, they can twist and bunch inside a dog’s intestines, causing serious, sometimes

fatal, damage if not caught quickly enough.

Artificial snow is toxic and should be avoided at all costs. Lights, large and small, solid and flickering are another danger, not only because they are hot and breakable, but because of the electrical cords holding them together. If bitten, they can cause electrical shock if not properly grounded, and if frayed, they can cause severe lacerations to your dog’s tongue.
Place all lighted candles out of reach to reduce the risk of singed fur and pads, paws and tails, and lower the chance of them being tipped over, leaving burning wax everywhere or worse, starting a fire.

As appetizing as holiday fare is for people, it can prove agonizing, even lethal for pets. The most notorious offenders are:
Grapes: Although the precise substance which causes the toxicity in grapes is unknown (some dogs can eat grapes without incident, while others can eat one and become seriously ill), keep them away from your dog.
Onions and garlic: The sulfoxides and disulfides in both destroy red blood cells and can cause serious blood problems, including anemia.

Ham: High in salt and fat, it can lead to stomach upsets and, over time, pancreatitis.

Macademia nuts: Within 12 hours of ingesting them, dogs can experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia (increased body temperature), lasting between 12 and 48 hours. If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately.
Bones: Whether rib roasts or lamb chops, turkey, chicken or duck, they all have bones. Thick ones and thin ones. Brittle, fragmented and splintered ones. Whatever the size, shape or texture, they all spell the same thing: danger. From throat scratches to stomach perforations to bowel obstructions. To safeguard against these painful possibilities, all leftovers, particularly bones, should be carefully wrapped and promptly disposed of.

Fat trimmings: They cause upset stomachs, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Alcohol: It’s traditional to celebrate the holidays with more alcohol than usual – in cooking and in drinks such as eggnog and fruit punch. For safety’s sake, keep these temptations (including partially eaten plates of food and half-empty glasses) out of reach of your dog to avoid intoxication and alcohol poisoning.

Chocolates: Although chocolate has long been taboo for dogs, most chocolates are wrapped in foil for the holidays. Now, not only can your dog get sick from eating the chocolate, the wrappers themselves can get stuck in his throat or cause problems as they work their way through his digestive tract.

Christmas pudding, cake and mince pie: Filled with potentially toxic raisins, currants, and sultanas, they are also made with fat and suet, and laced with alcohol — from scotch and brandy to sugary liqueurs.

And so, with some strategic planning beforehand, you and your doggy dearest can be assured of spending the happiest and safest of holidays together.