Monday, July 30, 2012

strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff

AP here:
I grew up in a place with real castles, Kings, Queens and Princesses, with stories of Knights and dragons, fairies, gnomes and elves, Mr. Big Ears and Dougal the dog. A place with stories of the brave and the true, of chivalry and happy endings. A land where Dr. James Herriot took care of all the creatures great and small. Puff the magic dragon was loved by a small boy and the search for Nessie was ongoing. This was and is my foundation for imagination and thinking outside of the box and for my love and respect for all animals. So it is hard for me to fathom a less than happy outcome for Tonka dog. In my little corner of the world my brain just knows there has to be a cure and a happy ending.

Having a blind dog will teach you 2 very important things that you need in this world, persistence and patience. People ask me in round about and nonchalant ways about stopping the therapy and the search for diagnosis. To them I am wasting money and should just give up .I try not to get annoyed at this since they do not understand and do not live with the magic dog I call the Tonka. I will continue to be persistent in finding his problem and a cure and patient in taking care of his needs and keeping him happy. Anyone that wants to be part of the solution is welcome and those that don't can just move on.

I don't entertain Tonka with strings and sealing wax but we do have other fancy stuff both to keep him amused and to keep him safe and healthy. We play with puzzles by Nina Ottonson and on really good days when he is fairly mobile we wrestle a bit. To keep him safe and healthy we have all sorts of socks, boots and rubber covers for his feet, belly bands to keep him dry when he leaks, wipes to keep him clean and harnesses to help him up. We even have a hair scrunchy with bells sown on to keep around his foot to maybe make him more aware of where it it and lifting it (therapist suggestion).
Next week we are going back to a neurologist and see what else we can try.

Ouch my toes

Spidey Tape Sock (thanks Aunt Nancy)

Jingle Foot

Rubber Boots and Belly Band

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Present is The Same as the Past

AP here:
Life with Tonka lately is like being stuck in some runaway time warp. Nine months ago something happened to the Tonka Man. Whatever it was it took us on a long and very exhausting trip for 6 months with his left leg. Then just when it seemed to get better and go away it struck again with the right leg. If you follow this blog you know that we have seen a small army of specialists and have some amazing people in our corner. While the fact that he is so loved and spoiled by so many is a wonderful thing it does not dispel the reality that everyday is a crap shoot. Some days he is pretty ambulatory and requires little extra care but others are harder on everyone involved (except him). He takes it all in stride and just wants to be fussed over and loved. Its now July but it feels like a re-run of last December with his symptoms. This leg is the same but slightly different and we met with a new neurologist (Dr. Gainsburg at Mid - Atlantic Veterinary Neurology & Neurosurgery) yesterday and the first thing he noticed was that the muscles to top of Tonka's head have shrunk. We did not have that last time and with this leg he is walking on the outside of his foot and his toes stay flexed up. I don't know what any of that means, if anything and no one else seems to either. If this follows the same path then by October he will be better and it will have been a year. If the universe really wants to add insult to injury then it will be time for the other leg to start downhill again. Should I laugh, should I cry, should I rail against something that has no name - none of that changes a damn thing. So here we sit stuck in this flow of time hoping that the present changes from the past and into a better future.


 Bad but not horrible.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Canine Summer Safety Tips

AP here:
Tonka and I spend one day a week if not more at a vet's office. As a result  I get to see and hear quite a bit of what is current and happening with clients. A few months ago Ticks were a major topic, due to the mild winter they were out early in the year and very plentiful. This month we have firework anxiety and heat related problems topping the list. Our last post was about fireworks so Tonka thought it might be good idea to pass on some information about summer heat health.

I am not a Veterinarian! If you feel your pet is in distress and needs help - call your vet.

Heat and dogs are just not a good combination and heat stroke, sunburn and blistered paw pads are  common things that veterinarians will see n the summer.
Please remember that this blog is not meant to replace medical advice or attention from your pets Doctor. If you feel you have any health problems with your dog seek professional medical advice from a veterinarian.

Hot metal surfaces, black asphalt and even white concrete sidewalks and pool decks can become extremely hot in the summer. A good rule of thumb is - if the ground is too hot for your bare-feet, it is too hot for your furry friend.Most dogs are very stoic and you have to really be paying attention to catch the clues that there might be a problem. Some signs that your pet is having a heat related foot issue are:
  •  refusing to walk or walking with a limp
  • licking or gnawing at the feet
  • blisters or discoloration (redness)
  • parts of pads are missing
Some dogs spend time in the family pool or in the river to keep cool. Something to keep in mind for the waterlogged dog is that the time in the water will soften their feet. If they then are out on a hot surface they will be more prone to quickly burning or blistering the pads. At the first sign of a burn get them off the hot surface and to a cooler area  immediately. Cool the pads with cool water or a cool compress.
Call your vet as soon as possible and keep the feet cool and clean.  The vet will be able to tell how deep the burns are and help you prevent infection.Your dog might need to have antibiotics or pain medications depending on the severity of the damage. If your dog needs to walk across any hot surface to get somewhere such as the car or across the hot patio to go potty put down rugs or wet towels to allow them to cross safely.

Dogs can get sunburned especially on the nose and ear tips. Short legged dogs can even get sunburn on their bellies from the reflected sunlight from the pavement or sand. Hairless, short haired, white or light colored dogs are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancers. Keep your pet in the shade on sunny days or use a sunscreen. If you are going to use a sunscreen make sure it is made for dogs and never use anything containing zinc oxide as it is harmful to animals. Tonka uses a sunscreen made by the Doggles company and wears a visor made by our friend Carolyn  when he is at the beach. Now there are companies making a UV protective clothing line just for pets. Don't forget to make sure that the dog is keeping hydrated and cool under that UV shirt.

Heat Stroke-
Heat Stroke is defined as the inability of your dog to regulate his body temperature.

Excessive salivation, panting rapidly, reddened ears and pads, pale gums, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst are all signs of a dog that is overheating. You do not have to have all of these present to be in danger but a dog that is disoriented and/or having seizures needs attention fast. A dog with a rectal temperature of 104 and above is extremely serious since at 106 irreversible damage starts to occur to the internal organs and brain. Grab a garden hose and get them cooled down with cool water (NOT COLD or ICE) paying attention to the stomach,groin, head and feet areas. The stomach and groin contain large blood vessels close to the skins surface and will help to cool the dog quicker. Submerging a dog with heatstroke into a pool or tub is not recommended as it will cool the dog too quickly and could complicate matters by causing cardiac problems. Cool running water is best, not ice or cold water as these are counter productive. With cold or ice water the blood vessels will constrict in response to the extreme cold and slow the flow of blood, slowing down the cooling process. Do not cover the dog with towels or blankets as you want the heat to dissipate and leave not get trapped between the dogs body and the blanket. Transport to the closest ER as quickly and safely as possible.

Tonka wants all his friends to be safe and stay cool this summer!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The real DOG Day of Summer (July 4th safety tips)

AP here:
Did you know that today is not a good day to be a dog with any sort of fear response to loud noises. Humans all over the country today will shoot off very loud fireworks. It is a known statistic that more dogs run away on July 4th than any other day. It is easy to see how this can happen with even the most laid back and well behaved dogs. People are preparing and gathering for cookouts and to either host or to watch a fireworks show, so the attention is focused elsewhere and the dog can easily get overlooked.
Dogs do not understand fireworks specially puppies who have never experienced anything loud and flashy. The squealing whistle of the initial launch ending with a loud bang and very bright lights repeated over and over is enough to make any dog wonder what is happening. A dog that already has noise issues will be set over the edge and even dogs that are normally OK with loud things can get stressed. Gates and doors might not get closed as securely as usual and  an animal that is reacting out of sheer terror can climb/leap fences that they normally would not attempt. Animals in fight or flight mode are not predictable so once out of the yard a pet that would usually just return home can get disoriented.
If fireworks are going to be set off around your pet today here are some simple precautions.

Things that you can do today-

Collar with name tag and contact phone number - even if your dog is micro-chipped a collar and phone number will get them home faster if found by your neighbor

Take a photo of your pet so you have a current on in case you need to post Lost or Missing flyer's

Keep the daily routine as normal as possible and make sure to get in the dogs daily exercise/walk before the party/fireworks start.

Thundershirt your pet this evening if that usually helps with storms (or any anxiety wrap you use)

Confine your pet to one area or the house or crate before the fireworks start. Turn on fans, music or TV's as background noise to block out the outside commotion. If possible shut the windows and pull the curtains or blinds.

If you normally use a sedative or any other calming agent for storms talk to your vet about using it tonight (FYI -July 3rd is a very busy day for your vet as people are refilling their prescriptions for sedatives and asking for tips on how to handle July 4th)

If you are having people over that will be going in and out of gates and doors post signs reminding them to shut them completely due to the dog/cat

There are other dangers lurking for your pet today as well and the ASPCA Tips is a good read.

I make it a point on the morning of July 5th to patrol for any remnants of fireworks that might have fallen  in my yard first before letting Tonka out. This was more important when he was a puppy and everything was a chew toy or something to try and eat but I still do it now to keep him safe.

Just as the 3rd is a busy day for veterinarians the 5th of July is one of the busiest day for your local shelter. If the worst has happened and your dog is missing you will want to contact them first thing before it becomes a complete zoo.

Tonka wants everyone to have a safe and happy 4th.