Best Friend Blues

Loss of a PetToday I learned of the passing of a friends mini-dachshund dog, Jessie, by group email. She asked that people not send anything but fond memories. As tears streamed down my face, I realized that replying to her email was not an option for me. I had to go get a card, something tangible that I could give to her – and I phoned before I drove over to hand-deliver it. Have you ever received an email or phone call about a friends pet passing? How did you respond? Have you ever lost a pet? Most of the books and on-line articles have great content, yet at the end of each pet’s story is a unique choice: do you share your grief with friends, or do you keep it private and bury the beloved pet in your own yard?

This morning I went to Rochelle’s home and as she opened the door, it took us both a moment to register that there would be no excited greeting, no barking or dog kisses now that Jessie was gone. We walked over to the kitchen, and I saw that she had yet to pick up the dog bowls or toys scattered around the floor. I offered to put them all in a bag and she nodded, dropping heavily into a chair. “I feel depressed, her death has completely upset my daily routine. I don’t want to get out of bed for a morning walk without Jessie. I don’t want to see my friends with dogs, it hurts too much!”

This is where she shared that her best friend was still not buried. “People kept telling me I should just have her cremated, but I couldn’t get into the car with her body, or part with it – I want her here where I can visit her – maybe even make a little memorial. “I understand.” “So will you help me bury her out in the back?” “Of course, I replied.” Jessie was simply wrapped in a plastic bag and swaddled by Rochelle’s favorite bedspread, resting in the garden shed where the temperature was 20 degrees!. We used a laundry basket to transport her little mummified body out to the waiting burial spot and had a quiet moment in her honor.

Afterward, I realized that what Rachel needed most was a friend to walk beside her through this tough emotional time, coaxing her along to complete the next steps in her grieving process. “…love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation” – Kabil Gibran. I also handed her a list of resources like the one below:

ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline: (877) GRIEF-10

Faithful Friends Pet Crematorium, Raleigh: (919) 874-0014.

Pet Rest Cemetery, Durham: (919) 596-3895.

Pet Bereavement Counseling, Judith Stutts, Ph.D.LPC, (336)625-1400 

SPCA of Wake County, 200 Petfinder Lane, Raleigh, 919-772-2326

http://www.spcawake.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Humane_Ed_Pet_Loss_Support_Group. Meets the

third Sunday of the month, 3:30-5:30 p.m.

University of Florida Pet Loss Hotline: (352) 392-4700, ext. 4080(this hotline will call you back

From anywhere and not charging you anything)

Hints to Bring your Vet Bill Down

Dog Getting Vaccination My dog and I cringed at the same time, he was sniffing the wastebasket (formaldehyde or alcohol cotton  balls inside) and I was eying the total charges for our 30-minute visit! “Why is this Fecal charge so high- aren’t you simply scanning the poop?” The poor teen-aged receptionist looked scared so I reigned in in my inner-lion and took out the credit card. The annual checkup is a necessary evil, I repeated quietly like a mantra. It exposes potential bigger problems, before they have escalated, so I don’t have to take a trip to the emergency vet at 2 am.
“Would you like to get a years supply of the heart-worm meds for only $214? It’s half-off and includes the flea/tic medication” the girl tentatively ventured. “Are you KIDDING ME?” I wanted to shout! My bill is now over $400.
Resigning myself to just getting out of the vet’s office before I say something I’ll regret, I clamp my mouth shut and simply nod yes.
When I get inside my car, I curse and bang the steering wheel like a swindled pirate – robbed of all my gold! What just happened?
Next I phoned several friends to compare vet bills and pricing> Not one of us left the annual visit without paying over $200! How can this cost be lowered? Opt out of some options below:

Consider fewer shots. Many communities require yearly rabies shots, and vets have long recommended other annual vaccinations to protect against certain deadly viruses. About 66 percent of the 188 million visits to the vet by cats and dogs in 2001 involved vaccinations, and this bread-and-butter business made up 14 percent of the average vet’s income. Yet if your pet is an indoor-only cat or senior dog, some of these shots may not  be needed.

Vaccine Boosters: average cost for booster shots ranges between $18-$25. Ask your vet if their is a generic form of the drug.

Heartworm Test: average cost is $45-60. If your pet is an indoor-only, you may opt to skip this.

Fecal Exam: average cost $25-$45. Fecal exams are performed to identify gastrointestinal parasites.

Dental Cleaning:  costs $70-$400, and will vary for dogs and cats. Frequently the vet assist scrapes off the tartar that causes gingivitis.

Geriatric Screening: Older pets (typically 7 years and up) will require geriatric screening. This is a more comprehensive exam that may include complete blood work and chemistry, urinalysis, x-rays, and more. The typical cost for this type of exam is $85-$110.

Allergy Testing:  Skin testing generally costs $195-$250, and blood testing generally costs $200-$300. Performed if your pet is showing symptoms, such as sneezing, itching, oozing eyes. 

Remember the wise words of Consumer Reports: “You don’t have to buy prescription drugs from vets. More than 600 drugs used to treat pets are actually human drugs, and you can find some of the best deals at ordinary drugstores.  if there’s a lower-priced human drug equivalent you can pick up at a pharmacy.
 
 

Are Dogs Evolving to be Smarter than Cats?

 
 Dog Reads Newspaper

I was cloaked with invisibility beneath the bird feeder, keeping a close eye on the squirrels, when who should appear but the neighbor’s poodle, Spud. We had words after he chased everyone out of the yard! The great debate between us is who is smarter, dogs or cats (obviously you know where I stand). Dogs believe that because they can learn tricks and a few key human words, they are brainier. Spud even brags that his breed is the smartest of all (not true: the Border Collie holds that honor). I tried to explain why cats don’t always do what their owners ask: we think for themselves and do what makes sense, in the time  frame that suits us. Sure, we know the word for dinner and walk and fetch, we just choose to ignore you, frequently. Yet a sure sign of our intelligence is the ease at which we can get YOU to do what WE want! Up at 3 am? Bet your cat pounced on you or scratched the door until you opened it. Tried to swap out our good can food with dry kibble? We get our point across with a hairball placed ironically on your table.

 
Spud suddenly sprinted away (no attention span whatsoever) and I headed inside to surf the web for proof of my species superiority. Imagine my dismay when I came across a very upsetting article: http://healthypets. It did mention our larger number of neurons “Some argue that the number of neurons is a greater indicator of intelligence than brain size… and in this area cats excel with 300 million neurons in their cerebral cortex compared to dogs’ 160 million” –Psychology Today December 3, 2010

 
Unfortunately, another section spoke of a study at Oxford: “University researchers found, indeed, that based on EQ (using data from fossils to living species) dogs are becoming progressively more intelligent while cats have stayed mostly the same.” Come again? The article went on to say that “Social animals tend to have higher EQs than solitary animals, simply because socializing requires more problem solving, communication and interaction. Dogs are pack animals (social) while cats are not, so the increasing social demands are making them even smarter.” I disagree, as a cat, and believe dogs are now too dependent on humans… what are your thoughts?
 

Best Friend Blues

Loss of a Pet

 Today I learned of the passing of a friends mini-dachshund dog, Jessie, by group email. She asked that people not send anything but fond memories. As tears streamed down my face, I realized that replying to her email was not an option for me. I had to go get a card, something tangible that I could give to her – and I phoned before I drove over to hand-deliver it. Have you ever received an email or phone call about a friends pet passing? How did you respond? Have you ever lost a pet? Most of the books and on-line articles have great content, yet at the end of each pet’s story is a unique choice: do you share your grief with friends, or do you keep it private and bury the beloved pet in your own yard?

This morning I went to Rochelle’s home and as she opened the door, it took us both a moment to register that there would be no excited greeting, no barking or dog kisses now that Jessie was gone. We walked over to the kitchen, and I saw that she had yet to pick up the dog bowls or toys scattered around the floor. I offered to put them all in a bag and she nodded, dropping heavily into a chair. “I feel depressed, her death has completely upset my daily routine. I don’t want to get out of bed for a morning walk without Jessie. I don’t want to see my friends with dogs, it hurts too much!”

This is where she shared that her best friend was still not buried. “People kept telling me I should just have her cremated, but I couldn’t get into the car with her body, or part with it – I want her here where I can visit her – maybe even make a little memorial. “I understand.” “So will you help me bury her out in the back?” “Of course, I replied.” Jessie was simply wrapped in a plastic bag and swaddled by Rochelle’s favorite bedspread, resting in the garden shed where the temperature was 20 degrees!. We used a laundry basket to transport her little mummified body out to the waiting burial spot and had a quiet moment in her honor.

Afterward, I realized that what Rachel needed most was a friend to walk beside her through this tough emotional time, coaxing her along to complete the next steps in her grieving process. “…love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation” – Kabil Gibran. I also handed her a list of resources like the one below:

ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline: (877) GRIEF-10

Faithful Friends Pet Crematorium, Raleigh: (919) 874-0014.

Pet Rest Cemetary, Durham: (919) 596-3895.

Pet BereavementCounseling, Judith Stutts, Ph.D.LPC, (336)625-1400 

SPCA of Wake County, 200 Petfinder Lane, Raleigh, 919-772-2326

http://www.spcawake.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Humane_Ed_Pet_Loss_Support_Group. Meets the

third Sunday of the month, 3:30-5:30 p.m.

University of Florida Pet Loss Hotline: (352) 392-4700, ext. 4080(this hotline will call you back

From anywhere and not chargeg you anything)

Heartworm Myths Debunked!

 Dogs-Heartworm-Disease1EGADS – Just the name “Heart Worm” brings to mind horrid images of your beloved furry friend being attacked by hungry beasts from the inside! 
 
Now take a deep breath, these worms are not as common as some  drug companies would like you to believe. The vets that prescribe this medication get  a nice kickback/additional money between the test and the year round prescription that often accompanies it. Is all this medication really necessary?
 
Let’s take a hard look at the facts:
 
1. Heartworms are passed from infected dogs to other dogs by mosquitos. The mosquito deposits tiny immature larvae near the bite wound, where they migrate beneath the skin, eventually reaching the hearts and lungs. These worms can grow up to 12 inches
 
2.  Temperature plays a BIG part in the life cycle of heartworms.  “Temperatures must remain above 57 degrees F  (14 C ) for at least 45 days straight and at least 2 weeks of temperatures over 80 F ( If these conditions are not fulfilled, the parasite cycle cannot be completed and your dog is safe)” –American Heartworm Society.
 
3.  Risks of heartworm infection in your area can be quite exaggerated unless you live in FL, HI or TX. “The lifecycle of the heartworm nematode involves six stages, and a dog can get infected with heartworm only if two of these stages are fully completed inside the body of the mosquito, and those stages can only be completed inside the body of the mosquito if the temperature stays above 57 degrees for at least 45 days straight, both day and night. If the temperature drops below 57 degrees even once during that 45-day period, the lifecycle of the nematode is broken, and heartworm cannot b transmitted to your dog. What this means, in simple terms, is that a year-round program of Heartgard or some other “preventative” medicine is NOT needed in most of the country” -Dr. David Knight and James Lok.
Check the map at this website to verify and talk with your vet about how many cases they have had of positive heartworm tests in the past few months. Map 
 
 
4. Administering of any drug is never optimal.  In reality no one can be absolutely certain if down the road preventive medication doesn’t  increase the tendency to chronic disease, organ failure or even cancer. Preventative Heartworm medication ( chemoprophylaxis ) has a wide cost range:
 $37.00 for a 6 month supply of Tri-Heart Plus, $69-$99 depending on size of dog for Advantage Multi, and  $89 to $109 for Trifexis.
 
 
So yes, your dog should be tested for heartworms, yet use  this information to make informed decisions about preventative measures and how often to administer the medicine.
Four Paws Pet Sitting is NOT telling you to stop giving yours dogs heartworm medicine year round, but check it out.

Everything Ear Okay Doggie?

a basset hound riding in a car with her head out of the window aDoes your dog whimper when he scratches his ears? Are the ear-scratches more frequent and for longer durations than normal? Does he shake his head or drag it along the ground? If so, your dog may have an infection, or otitis (inflammation) in one of the three ear parts.

The outer ear (otitis external) may be upright, folded, or flush with the head. The shape is not as important as whether your dog plays outside and gets debris/dirt inside the ear. The ear canal (otitis media) should be rinsed out with ear-cleaning fluid from the store. NEVER use a q-tip, instead use a cotton ball or towel, so that you don’t damage the ear. Finally, the inner ear (otitis internal) can get infected and cause severe pain for your dog, affecting his balance and energy level. This is why it is important to monitor your dogs ears using the 3 inspection tricks below:

1. SMELL the pups ear – if it stinks, frequently a yeasty smell, it’s probably infected
2. VISUALLY INSPECT the ear – check to see if the ear is pink or red, has sores, or oozes
3. TOUCH the ear area, try rubbing it, and if he whimpers this can be a sign of infection

What causes these ear infections? Once again, one of three things, or a combination of them:
1. Bacteria (signs include rubbing at ears, shaking head, red/swollen ear, a milky discharge)
2. Fungus (dogs with ear flaps that trap moisture inside tend to get this more often)
3. Ear Mites (a common sign is dried blood inside his ears, frequent head shaking)

Medication (insecticide) and/or antibiotics are the best treatment to kill the mites, bacteria or fungus.

**A note about cat ear-cleaning:
(Cats tend to be more resistant, so take time to swaddle them in a towel first to prevent scratching you during ear cleaning. Gently wipe the inside of the ear with a cotton ball with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide – squeezing out excess first and being careful not to insert the cotton too far down into the ear canal. Then, put the drops in one ear at a time, rubbing them to move the solution down the ear canal.)

Get Out and Do Something Fun

Frisbee dogIt’s dark, cold and your dog is staring at you – again. Wondering what to do? Maybe it’s time the two of you got out of the house and did something FUN with a purpose! Well, grab your I-phone, tablet or a good-old-fashioned piece of paper and put a few of these events onto your calendar:

1. Friday, January 23, HappyMess Night for Hope, 7pm-9pm in Durham.
Join us for a great time painting and raising money for Hope Animal Rescue. Registration: $35 and HappyMess Art Studio is donating 50%. You must RSVP as there are only 12 spots available. Come on out for some fun and relaxation!

2. February 19 “Wine, Wags, & Whiskers” wine tasting event. 8am- 5pm Second Chance Pet Adoption. More details coming soon…..!! Check out their website below for updates.

3. February 21 Paws4Ever Shopping Event, 1-4pm, Hillsborough, The Big Barn located at The Shops at Daniel Boone. $5/entry tix. Come shop local vendors.

4. March 14, IRONDOG is a 5k Run/1.5M Dog Walk
10am-2pm. Admission: $15-30. Raises money for animals whose owners cannot afford their medical care. These funds will be used to support the medical and surgical management of dogs and cats hospitalized at NC State University Veterinary Health Complex. For more information, please email Irondog2015@lists.ncsu.edu.

5. March 30,31 – Feb. 1, Carolina Piedmont Dog Agility NC State Fairgrounds. Fri. Sat, Sun 8am – 4 pm. Dog agility competitions. Free spectator admissions. More than $1,500 in prize money up for grabs at the Carolina Piedmont Dog Agility trials in the Hunt Horse Arena. Watch as dogs of every skill level and size tackle obstacles such as the A-frame, weave poles, jumps and plank.

6. Saturday, April 18, SPCA K9-3K Dog Walk, 10am
Moore Square, 221 S Blount Street,Downtown Raleigh, NC. All the money raised at this event goes to support the work of the SPCA of Wake County. Registration fee: $35.

12:30pm DOG CONTESTS START* *Register your dog for contests at the Main Stage beginning at 10:00am

12noon-4:00pm: Visit the Family Fun Zone in Moore Square Park, food and beverage vendors in City Market, enjoy music and dog friendly vendor village.

7. Kennel Club events at State Fairgrounds

Sat 01/31/2015, Carolina Piedmont Agility Club

Wed 03/18/2015, Cary Kennel Club

Thu 03/19/2015, Alamance Kennel Club, Inc

Sat 03/21/2015, German Shepherd Dog Club Of Greater Raleigh

Sat 03/21/2015, Tar Heel Boxer Club Of Greater Raleigh

Sat 03/21/2015, Central Carolina Poodle Club

Sat 03/21/2015, Tarheel Golden Retriever Club

Sat 05/09/2015, Mid-atlantic Hound Association Of Central North Carolina

Sat 05/16/2015, Raleigh-durham Labrador Retriever Club

Sat 06/06/2015, Tarheel Golden Retriever Club Durham

Choose your Bowl Wisely

bowls

My neighbor adopted an 18-month old Border Collie (Jack) to be a companion to her older Australian Shepard (Lola). Of course, the herding mentality and bumping up against the Lola was bad enough – but then the little runt rushed her food bowl and dribbled water everywhere from their joint dish – something had to be done right away! So she went to the Pet Store and bought a Platinum Pets Double Diner Dog Stand ($19 for x-small to $54.99 for X-tra large size). Plastic versions can be found by Pet Mate and Grreat Choice for around $29.99 and a stylish wooden “table feeder” by Top Paw costs $34.99.

According to the Dr. Foster and Smith website, older dogs such as Lola benefit from the raised bowls because:

1. Cleaner – the food and water don’t get underneath bowl and grow mold.
2. Eating from a raised bowl eases joint strain and neck tension during feeding.
3. Better posture by eliminating uncomfortable bending or crouching.
4. Reduces choking, really a great aid for dogs with megaesophagus that have difficulty swallowing, or other digestive problems.

Now she focused on her new dog, sloppy-Jack, and his habit of scooting the dish across the floor as he ate. She tried Grreat Choice® Non-Skid Dog Bowl with a wide-base, rubber coating and it was fairly heavy. Great improvement!

Next, she addressed the water bowl area that was always wet from Jack’s sloppy lapping, damaging her hardwood floors!  There were a variety of mats to place underneath the dishes, ranging in price from the inexpensive Top Paw Dog Placemat for $10.99 to the personalized  Drymate Paw Border Waterproof Pet Mat for $19.99.

Both dogs are doing well, although Lola still believes Jack’s manners should put him in the doghouse out back!

For those of you that want something more sophisticated, there are the $159 Designer Pet Eatery Wall Mounted Bowls . They have to be installed by a professional since the waterline attaches right to the water bowl side. The dog’s bowls are inside a square frame that is mounted within the wall and then elevated to the height you need. Bowls are removable and can hold up to 6 cups of food and they aren’t going to be knocked over or scooted around!

Good Kitty Gone Bad!

Little cute kitten and laptop, isolated on white
One of your New Years Resolutions may be to break your bad habits, but what about your pets? Kitty can be trained to modify her bad behavior, making 2015 a more rewarding year for the both of you!

1. Waking You Up in the Middle of the Night

It’s 4 am and the cat is pouncing on your feet, meowing like a banshee to go outside! You drag yourself out of bed to toss the kitty some kibble, and if that still doesn’t quiet her down, you open the door and scoot her outside in order to obtain peace and quiet… but that is exactly the wrong thing to do!

You have just unintentionally rewarded the cat by giving her what she wanted: to be outside.

“The key to training a cat and understanding cat behavior is to make sure that whatever you want your cat to do is exceedingly rewarding and pleasurable. Whatever you don’t want your cat to indulge in must never be rewarding or fun, in fact, it must be unpleasant.”

Step A. Exercise the kitty before you go to bed

Step B. Have a water bottle or air-spray ready for when she jumps on the bed to discourage her from waking you

Step C. Have toys sitting out for her to play with. If possible, leave a window open for her to look out of
2. Scratching Furniture

A bored cat will find a way to entertain herself! Cats are known to become overly active and destructive, clawing furniture and shredding curtains, unless they have an outlet.

Step A. Reward your kitty for using her scratch post with a massage, treat, and lots of praise.

Step B. Discourage her from clawing at anything other than her post by immediately startle her with either a blast of water from a plant sprayer or a sudden loud noise. She will soon realize that unpleasant things happen when she tries to scratch the furniture

Step C. Place tin foil around corner of furniture she likes to claw, put her scratching post nearby or a cardboard claw station

3. Biting

Sometimes, cats are unintentionally trained to view your fingers as toys if you play with them this way, or do not n also

Step A. Provide some bite-able alternatives, like a feather wand or a catnip banana — and be sure to experiment with a variety of toys to see what he likes. Then play with him every day.

Step B. Withdraw attention when your kitten doesn’t get the message. If the distraction and redirection techniques don’t work, the most drastic thing you can do to discourage your cat from rough play is to withdraw all attention. Go into the other room for a bit, leaving behind a toy or paper bag for cat to play with.

Step C. Another option is to adopt a playmate for him, preferably of the opposite sex. There are several cat rescue non-profits in the area:

Alley Cats and Angels (919) 303-3500S

Cat Angels Pet Adoptions (919) 463-9586

Second Chance (919) 851-8404

**Consider neutering your male cats that bite. Male cats tend to be more aggressive, but will calm down if neutered.

Shoes for Dogs? You bet!

Dog On A Winter Walk

My dog shivered as she put a paw down on the  frosty deck. Her tail drooped and then she walked backwords through the door right into my shin! Really? You see, Shadow has sensitive feet and does not like to pee in cold, much less walk around the block. “This is a problem…” I scolded her “…and the solution is to go shopping!”

We hopped into the car and ironically “Baby it’s cold outside” was playing on the radio. Passing the big box petstore, we pulled into our local Unleashed. There were the ususal assortment of leashes and treats up front. As we passed, Shadow strained her entire body to sniff these. I wondered if there would there be a little area to “try on” dog shoes? “Yes ma’am, Over on the sidewall under the jackets” said the shop owner.

I had no idea there were so many styles and price points! Ruffwear Bark and Boot or Trex were on the higher end at $90. East Side Collection Sherpa boots were mid-range, coming in bright colors at $25. Both Muttluks and Guardian Gear ranged from a $12.99 sock to a $64 fleece lined boot. On Amazon, the most popular dog bootie was Fashion Pet Lookin Good at $15. It has a velcro strap and reflective tape on top so they are easy to get on/off. The second most popular brand was Ultra Paws Durable Dog Boot, a thicker sole and fleece lining bumped the price to $35. I compared quality and cost, keeping in mind that Shadow and I live in the south and would not be doing the Iditarod or seeing much snow anytime soon!

1. First step, Sizing.
We walked over to the Muttluks sizing chart that measures the entire paw, including nails, with sizes ranged from Itty Bitty at 1 inch to XX Large at 5.25 inches.

2. Second step: fitting.
We tried on the Hott Doggers stretchy economy boots but they were hard to pull on. The velcro strap on the more expensive boot was much easier to adjust. Standing over her, I lifted each paw at the elbow and wiggled the boot on, then pulled tight with the strap. There was quite a bit of extra strap that we will cut off at home.

3. Third, pricing.
After an elaborate fitting and many “Why are you doing this to me” looks from my dog, she walked out wearing the Fleece Lined Muttluks.

Local Pet Shoppes:
Oliver’s Collar,  4711 Hope Valley Rd, Durham, NC 27707, (919) 401-4888

Other End of the Leash, 1000 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701, (919) 908-1887

PetMania
1. 7901 Falls of Neuse Rd #125, Raleigh, NC, (919) 676-3225

2. 5289 Sunset Lake Rd, Holly Springs, NC 27540, (919) 362-8711

PetPad,  1239 NW Maynard Road, Cary, NC 27513, (919)-481-6614

PetPantry,  2521 Schieffelin Rd, Apex, NC 27502, (919) 303-1990

Phydeaux
1. 10 W Franklin St #100, Raleigh, NC, (919) 833-9216
2.  6464 Tryon Rd, Cary, NC 27518, (919) 977-7103

Unleashed – The Dog and Cat Store

1.   2460 Wycliff Rd, Raleigh, NC, (919) 858-6460
2. 2066 Kildaire Farm, Cary, NC 27518, (919) 977-1329

Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming
1. 13600 New Falls of Neuse Rd, Raleigh, NC 27614
2.  305 Ledgerstone Way, Cary, NC 27513, (919) 297-2275

Paws in the City,  1105 Tryon Village Dr, Cary, NC 27518, (919) 851-5853