A New Season Is Here

Are you ready for a new season? No, not the one that’s due to arrive in 59 days, but who’s counting? I’m talking about another season. Besides more sunlight, ahem…’warm’ days, bugs and barbecues, there’s a season within summer I liken to pure evil hell, otherwise known as the grass-weed season.

You may recall a previous rant post about Foxtails (found here). Mostly found in the western part of the US, these innocent enough looking weeds can be very risky for dogs.

GrassesThe barbs are uniquely designed to move in one direction–only forward. They burrow deeper and deeper into the fur. Noses, ears, between the toes, under the collar or armpits are the most frequently found spots. Removal from fur as soon as possible is important since they can be quite difficult to remove once they penetrate the skin. Once burrowed into the skin and if not treated, they can travel throughout the body. A dog sniffing the ground can easily inhale them into their noses, under an armpit, or get them caught in their ears and if not treated immediately, can result in serious problems resulting in an expensive visit to a vet.

The danger of foxtails goes beyond simple irritation. Because these tough seed barbs don’t break down inside the body, an embedded foxtail can lead to a serious infection. It can even lead to death if left untreated and these seeds can be hard to find in dog fur.

Foxtails move relentlessly forward and can migrate from inside your dog’s nose deep into their brain or be inhaled into and perforate a lung. Embedded foxtails can cause discharge, abscesses, swelling, pain, even death. If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms, check for foxtails or talk to your vet. Make sure you check your good dog’s feet, ears, face, nose, genitals. Limping, excessive licking, head shaking, incessant scratching, redness, discharge, swelling, squinting or pawing are all symptoms your sweet dog may have picked up a foxtail. Foxtail season runs from May to December. Once foxtails dry out, they are like little sharp knives waiting to stick to someone or something.To remove, use a pair of tweezers if you can easily get to it. But if it’s deeply embedded, or if the area around it is red or swollen, call your vet right away. Remember, foxtails won’t come out on their own, and they can burrow deep within your dog.Prevention is your best weapon against this grass. Avoid overgrown grassy areas and remove these plants from your yard. Regular grooming/brushing can help.

Though not nearly as dangerous, are another seasonal weed-what I call Velcro grass. Not sure what the scientific name of this grass weed is, mostly I refer to it as evil bastard.

Grasses

Notice all those nasty little seed heads? They stick like Gorilla® glue-to fur, socks, pant legs, whatever it can attach its little evil self to, and often spring up along sidewalks near the neighborhood ‘pee-mail bulletin board.’ When we came back from this morning’s constitution, I found one attached to Sam’s bandana. Elsa had a very small piece of one stuck to her check a couple of days ago. It was a real bugger getting rid of, you pretty much have to pull them out seed by seed since they tend to disintegrate when you try to remove them. Dogs aren’t  typically keen on having lots of pulling out of their fur. It took several attempts to fully remove it.

Grass

Paws crossed this ‘season within the season’ doesn’t affect you or your good dog.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Did You Know ~ Essential Oils and Cats

CatLast week I shared a list of safe essential oils that can be safely used on your dog (found HERE) and I didn’t want to forget our feline friends. Use of essential oils is a controversial topic for use on cats but there are some essential oils that are safe, with caveats.

Never having owned a cat, I had to consult Dr. Google. One thing I learned  about cats is they are deficient in glucuronyl transferase, a liver enzyme that changes bilirubin into a form that can be removed through the bile. This compound also changes some hormones, medicines, and toxins into non-harmful by-products. Since uprights have a much higher tolerance for phenols, extra care when using essential oils on cats is critical. Harkening back to high school chemistry for a moment, you may recall that phenols are chemically active compounds which are found throughout nature, especially in plants (i.e. peppers contain capsaicin which is a phenol). Phenols exhibit a wide range of properties; some for their health benefits, while others are deadly poisonous. Only high quality, therapeutic grade oils (without phenols) should be considered for cats.

Cats possess an enhanced sense of smell, so diffusing essential oils has the potential to become overwhelming. That said, essential oils are likely more safe for cats than artificial fragrances and air fresheners. Even still, what your nose perceives as pleasant may not be perceived quite the same by your cat. When diffusing essential oils, a scent-free room for retreat is a good idea.

It should also be noted that a cat’s system is incredibly sensitive and some oils can be quite toxic. Essential oils with phenols should never be used and any safe oil used should be diluted in a quality carrier oil (a high-grade, pure vegetable oil is the catalyst that can make certain essential oils tolerable for cats. Some vets suggest the differential be dramatic: 50 drops of vegetable (the carrier oil) to 1 drop of essential oil though you should verify this ratio with your own vet as some recommend increasing that ratio up to 80- to 90-percent. Once properly mixed, you can place a drop of this mixture into your hands and pet your cat. Dilution and testing are two critical components when introducing your cat to essential oils, but before you start applying, it’s important to introduce these agents to your cat slowly.

The following oils are safe for use on cats and may be used in moderation (make sure your essential oil is phenol-free).

Cedarwood Repels pests and promotes healthy skin and coat.
Chamomile Promotes relaxation and sleep and also supports healthy digestion.
Lavender Relieves anxiety from separation or during long trips.
Myrrh Can help fight allergies and promote healthy skin and coat.
Clary Sage Calms nervousness and excitability.
Geranium Great for repelling pests and as a treatment for ear infections.
Ginger Relieves pain from arthritis and hip dysplasia and supports healthy digestion.
Marjoram Repels pests and helps treat skin infections and irritations.

Never apply essential oils at full strength on cats (and only use in a diffuser for short periods  of time). not meant to be used near the eyes and ears of humans or cats. It only takes 6/100th of a drop of lavender oil to calm pets down. And just because paws have leathery pads, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to apply essential oils to them.

Avoid these oils:

Clove oil Cinnamon oil
Thyme oil Oregano oil
Wintergreen oil Sweet birch oil
Lavender oil Citrus oil
Peppermint oil Pennyroyal oil
Eucalyptus oil Tea tree oil

Remember always consult your vet before introducing new food, treatment, or any substances into your pet’s routine care. If using essential oils on your cat, be on the lookout for strange behavior (drooling, muscle tremors, difficulty walking, or lethargy). Contact your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) immediately, and especially if you notice redness on your cat’s skin, or if they begin pawing at their face following exposure to essential oils.

Have you ever used essential oils on your kitty?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Did You Know ~ Essential Oils and Dogs

You’ve heard me talk about the benefits of using essential oils before and how you can incorporate them into your arsenal of homeopathic options. Did you know essential oils can be utilized in multiple ways?

Essential oils

*NOTE: Melaleuca (Tea Tree oil) and wintergreen oils are toxic to pets and never recommended for use.

Here is a list of 16 safe essential oils to use on dogs.

  1. Carrot seed (Daucus carota) oil works well on dry skin prone to infection. Contains anti-inflammatory properties, with moderate antibacterial effects. Can also rejuvenate and stimulate tissue regeneration; it’s a good oil to use for healing scars.
  2. Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana) oil is antiseptic, tonifying, and it can stimulate blood circulation. Good for skin and coat conditioning and dermatitis of all types. Cedarwood has safe flea-repelling properties and is a safe to add to any flea-repellent blend for dogs.
  3. German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) essential oil is anti-inflammatory. Safe and gentle to use on dogs and very effective  controlling skin irritations caused by allergies, eczema, rashes, etc. Bonus, it’s a good oil for healing burns.
  4. .Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) has different properties from German Chamomile. It is antispasmodic, pain relieving, and nerve-calming. A gentle oil to use for soothing and calming anxious dogs and effective for relief of muscle pains, cramps, puppy teething pain.
  5.  Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) also has calming effects by sedating the central nervous system. Can be used to calm anxious dogs, but should only be used in small amounts properly diluted. NOTE: Do not use with pregnant dogs.
  6.  Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) is antiviral and anti-inflammatory. It is also an expectorant and is an excellent oil for use to relieve upper respiratory congestion (e.g. kennel cough), and when your good dog is having trouble breathing smoothly. There are two common eucalyptus oils: Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus radiata. E. globulus has a stronger, harsher scent and may be overwhelming. E. radiata has a milder scent, is milder chemically-speaking as well and when diluted properly, E. radiata is safe for dogs, both topically and for inhalation. Be sure NOT to let your dog ingest. Note: Do NOT use on small dogs and puppies or on dogs prone to seizures.
  7.  Geranium (Pelargonium x asperum) is safe and gentle to use as a strong antifungal for dogs. Good for skin irritations (especially caused by yeast infections), and fungal ear infections in dogs. It is also effective in repelling tick if you make your own tick-repelling oil blend.
  8.  Ginger (Zingiber officinale) when properly diluted, is non-irritating and safe to use on dogs in small amounts to treat motion sickness, because it has anti-nausea properties. Helpful with digestion and tummy upset,  Ginger also has pain relieving properties. When used topically, it can help relieve pain in dogs with arthritis, dysplasia, strains and sprains.
  9.  Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) is an expensive oil with numerous therapeutic properties. It is anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and has regenerative effects and a good oil to have if your dog has skin issues, such as skin irritations, eczema, pyoderma, etc. Works well to heal wounds, such as bruises, scars, cuts, etc. (this works wonders on uprights too-I couldn’t get by without it for treating rotator cuff pain).
  10.  Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Don’t confused true Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia) with Spike Lavender essential oil (Lavandula latifolia). While true Lavender oil is very safe and gentle and can be used with most dogs, Spike Lavender oil should NOT be used with pregnant dogs. True Lavender oil has antibacterial, anti-itch, and nerve-calming properties and is good for many common ailments and problems, e.g. skin irritations, anxiety, insect bites, cuts and burns, etc. Lavender has calming properties for dogs who are stressed, nervous, or agitated. A study found that Lavender could calm excited dogs while traveling in cars.
  11. Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)  has strong antibacterial properties. It is also calming and a muscle relaxant, can be used for bacterial skin infections and wound care. Sweet Marjoram also has insect-repelling properties.
  12.  Niaouli (Melaleuca Quinquenervia) If you or your dog don’t mind the scent of this oil, Niaouli is a must-have oil compared to Tea Tree oil (which may cause irritation) and is safe to use as an effective antiseptic oil that can disinfect and help fight bacterial infections.
  13.  Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) stimulates blood circulation and antispasmodic so it is a great oil for dogs with acute pain. Can be used to soothe pain caused by swelling, sprains and strains. Has anti-nausea properties, and works well with ginger to help dogs with motion sickness. It is generally safe when properly diluted and used topically, or for diffusion in low dilution. Note: Peppermint oil should not be used on small or pregnant dogs.
  14.  Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) has calming and uplifting effects for uprights and dogs and is good for dogs with anxiety, and/or depression. It can also stimulate a dog’s appetite. If your dog is not eating (maybe due to stress or depression), diffusing this oil before mealtime may help. With deodorizing and flea-repelling properties, it can be added to your homemade dog shampoo.
  15.  Thyme ct. Linalool (Thymus vulgaris ct. linalool) There are many different chemotypes of Thyme essential oil but this is the only chemotype that is mild and safe enough for use on dogs. With pain relieving properties, it can be added to a blend to help with arthritis, rheumatism, or other joint pain. It’s also a powerful antibacterial, antifungal, with antiviral properties. It is an excellent choice for infections and other skin issues.
  16.  Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) has sedative and nerve-calming effects, and is good for helping dogs with anxiety such as separation and noise anxiety.

If you’ve ever experienced that stinking dog smell and it’s not convenient to rush them to a tub but this recipe can help get rid of that odor until you can (or to refresh in between baths).

Essential oils

Essential oil can also be used as a preventative measure when you’re not into chemicals. Just follow the old adage: “dilution is the solution” when preparing a remedy.Essential oils

A word of caution when using essential oils; they should be “therapeutic” grade (NOTE: “100% pure” is NOT the same as therapeutic which is safe to be ingested). Never allow your pet to ingest essential oils unless you’re using a therapeutic grade.

Have you used essential oils on your dog? Did it work for you?  We’re just beginning to experiment with aromatherapy recipes and achieving good  success. Last week (following the cluster of the Fourth of July), we used Wild Orange in a diffuser which helped chill Sam out sufficiently to handle a few noisy revelers over the holiday weekend.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ July 1, 2019

It’s a brand new week, month, and a fresh Monday-whoa…how’d that happen? You may have noticed our conspicuous absence last week. We were supposed to visit the hospital and West Pines but by Monday evening, it became clear that Sam was too sick to do any visits and needed to see the vet. Happy to report he has begun to rejoin the canine-race after a very rough week; this despite steadfastly holding on to the notion that he must be catered to every waking moment of the day. The boy has come to expect an on-call short-order cook now and someone to hand feed him.

Sleeping dogFor a few days, he refused to eat or drink anything, requiring subcutaneous fluids from the vet. By Thursday, he would only eat a couple of small (and I do mean s-m-a-l-l pieces of freshly cooked chicken breasts. If…mind you, they were hand fed to him. By late Friday, Little Lord Fauntleroy decided that chicken breasts were far too Plebeian for his tastes and with sad puppy eyes moved on to other heretofore unknown preferences, finally accepting venison and buffalo as a suitable meal fit for his Lordship. Elsa naturally stepped up offering to eat any chicken (or any other food her brother refused to eat) as her contribution toward helping out. She did seem to know something was up with her older brother and tried sitting on sleeping next to him all week long, which made him more than slightly adverse to the close quarters but too weak to move out of the way. Can you say gun-shy of the Ninja? What can I say about these two other than I’m very grateful things are mostly back to normal now for all of us. I no longer have to sleep with multiple rolls of paper towels and cleaning supplies at the ready and my bank account can finally take a deep breath after all the vet visits.

I still wonder however why, when you’ve only had 2 hours of sleep because of a sick dog, why the damn smoke alarm feels compelled to start chirping at 2:00 AM. Any explanations on that one? No…well then let’s just chalk it up to the universe’s many unexplained weirdness and instead start out the new week and month with a silly pun, probably spoken with a heavy Southern accent. Since we kind of went from chilly temps to broil, we can only hope you’re not sweltering too much and hope it’s a great week.

Cheese

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ April 8, 2019

It’s T-minus six days until the premier of the final season of The Game of Thrones…but who’s counting. It’s been way too long since hunky Jon Snow graced our television screens and at least at my house, his absence has been sorely missed. He may know nothing, but who cares? Am I right? I am however feeling slightly gypped that there are only six seasons for the beloved series’ final season. What the bloody blue blazes, HBO? #notfair

Then there’s the dwarf Lannister who has entertained us over the years and reminded us that true to his family motto, “always paid his debts.” Couldn’t help but chuckle with this pun which has been floating around social media lately. Elsa was quite willing to ‘pass along’ her updated version of the PSA to start out the week.

Lannister

We hope you had a lovely weekend and that this smile is the beginning of a terrific week, culminating with the season premiere. Let’s hope the final season satisfies ‘The Pack Survives’ needs.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

We’re off to see the Wizard

Umm, not exactly sweet Sam. When I said we were off…you interrupted and finished the sentence with…the wizard. We’re actually going to see the vet to get your teeth cleaned.

Sam: Wait, we’re not going to see a wizard? What the dog? My teeth are just fine, thank you very much.

Mom:  Well, not exactly…you have a little build up of tartar and keeping your teeth clear of that will keep you healthy.

Sam:  Yeah well, I’ll go, but put me down as an official no to the whole idea.

Mom: I thought you liked the vet and all the nice vet techs? You sure wag your tail a lot when you see them.

Sam:  Ooh, come to think of it, I do like those techs. Ok, I’m in.

Mom: {thinking to herself} As if you had a choice here, pal.

So we head out to the vet and they happy to see Sam and he was happy to see them. Since he also had a tiny little tag on his lip and a tiny little bump on his nose that I discovered when he was groomed over the weekend, the vet said neither would be a problem to remove and they’d take care of them while he was under. His pre-surgical blood work was good and I could pick him up mid afternoon. As I turned to leave, Sam gave me that “Wait…you’re leaving me” look? It nearly broke my heart to see his crestfallen face. “I’ll be back buddy, be a good boy and I’ll see you soon.” I’m not sure he was convinced but he trotted back toward the surgery area with the tech, tail wagging.

~ 87 hours go by ~

At the appointed time, I arrived at the vet’s to pick up a wobbly pup. Sam was confused about where he was but the tech assured me he’d be fine once the anesthesia was fully out of his system. She gave me post-op orders, a prescription anti-inflammatory and said to let him convalescence for a few days. And with that the tail begin to wag so I knew my boy was fine and would recover nicely. They used a couple of stitches when the tiny bump was removed and they will need to be removed in about 10 days. All I could say was, “cool Sam…you know chicks dig scars, right?” Sam gave me an “if-you-say-so look with a big tail wag.” HIs procedure might have slowed him down but it couldn’t corral that tail. Gosh, I adore this knucklehead! 

~ The Convalescence Begins ~

Arriving home, I could see that Sam was pretty wobbly. When he sat, he listed to one side. And his eyes didn’t seem focused. He had no interest in water or food. He just wanted to be left alone rest. Nurse Ninja could sense something was off and wanted to pester tend to him.

This is the closest these two have been in fur-ever!

Yesterday Sam stayed pretty sedentary, mostly resting, and whenever he went outside to pee, he seemed disoriented. Patience and time were going to be the watch words while the little man recovered. He refused to eat the chicken and rice unless he was hand fed. By the end of the day he finally ate a small amount from a bowl…so long as I held it. My little boy needed reassurance with some good old-fashioned mom TLC.

By the end of the evening, the old Sam began return. He was still not 100% but I could see improvement in his overall demeanor. At the 30 hour mark following the procedure, he hopped up on the sofa late last night owning it like a king. So different from a few hours earlier.

As of this morning, he had a little spring in his step and took a very short walk. When we got back to the house, he asked “If chicks dig scars, mom…do you think they’ll go crazy if I get a tattoo?”

O.u.c.h. The scar will probably be bigger than the actual little bump was.

We expect to be back to 100% by tomorrow. I’m hoping that includes normal eating without catering to little Lord Fauntleroy.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Did You Know? June 5, 2018 Edition

The Ranch is starting a new periodic feature called “Did You Know?” beginning today. I plan to take various issues or weirdness and share info about it. Today’s entry proved to be a bit of a doozy but one you too may have experienced.

You know that gurgling sound that comes from your dog’s stomach? Did you know it’s got an actual name? “Borborygmi.” Nope, that’s not a typo, borborygmi, pronounced [bawr-buhrig-mahy]. What the dog?! Yeah, I know. I was blown away too. If anyone can explain why science has to get all ‘scientific-y sounding’ with its descriptions, I’d love to hear it. 

Anyway, Sam recently experienced some unusually loud stomach gurgling. I mean REALLY loud. So I did what many fur-mom’s do…I consulted Dr. Google while waiting for the vet to call back. Not one to put blind faith in ‘Net misinformation hyperbole, I figured I’d do a bit of research and the kindly Doc did provide lots of rabbit holes to dive into where I rather quickly found some reliable sources. Dogs, cats and even us uprights experience ‘borborygmi.’

The simple  definition is intestinal agitation caused by moving gas. Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place? So let’s dig a bit deeper into this weird scientific phenomena. So it’s apparently normal for there to be gas in the intestinal tract and it’s also normal for the intestines to engage in motility…the condition whereby intestinal contents move around, thus audible intestinal gurgling is pretty normal.

According to Dogster, “abnormally loud intestinal noises occur when the intestines contain abnormally large quantities of gas, or when the intestines experience abnormally increased activity. Both of these phenomena often occur simultaneously.” Super loud (as in, you can hear it from across the room) is not normal but does not necessarily mean a crisis is brewing. Stomach grumbling may indicate something is off or, your pet could be hungry. Empty intestines in dogs may start to exhibit activity in response to anticipated feeding, thus the audible intestinal noises, or “tummy grumbling” may occur. Serving a meal usually takes care of that since the intestines of hungry animals do not contain significant quantities of food and thus have a higher ratio of gas to solids. Okay,so far  this sounds legit.

In Sam’s case, he acted normal (well, as normal as he is capable of acting). He displayed no other symptoms indicating there was a problem (i.e. lethargy, fever, stuff like that). But then he began experiencing some diarrhea. Not good but I figured a couple of days of bland rice and pumpkin meals should clear up the upset. Sadly, it didn’t clear up and I feared dehydration so off to the vet we went.

I wasn’t able to get into my regular TV star vet any time soon but they were able to refer me to another clinic close by. They asked whether Sam “had perhaps partaken in some sort of digestion indiscretion” (a diplomatic way of saying your dog may have gotten into the trash or had eaten some novel food or worse…goose poop…really? who admits to that). Nope, nothing like that had occurred, so they decided Sam was suffering from a minor gastro-bug after ruling out intestinal parasites, IBD, or foreign bodies (which would be Elsa’s speciality).

Long story short (ironic since we’re probably 600+ words in but I digress)…a couple of doses of Metronidazole for inflammation and an antibiotic for the bug, brought Sam back to normal poops while simultaneously clearing up those loud gurgling sounds. Other than expecting specially prepared meals after recovering (sheesh talk about one spoiled baby), he’s back to his usual knuckleheadedness.

So the next time your pooch’s stomach is gurgling figure out if he’s just hungry or suffering from borborygmi. Your family will think you’re trying to land a fat contract on Animal Planet but if he eats with his normal enthusiasm and the noises stop, the problem is solved. If like Sam it was accompanied with diarrhea, put your TV career on hold and check with your vet to rule out other issues.

I’m better now. So where’s the Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki Sauce?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Tongue in Tuesday

I’ve tried. I really have tried to catch Elsa with her tongue out but do you think she will accommodate me? Heck no! She clams up as if she belongs to the Illuminati. Sam is equally uncooperative. So alas, it’s not very likely there will be any ‘Tongue Out Tuesday’ posts featuring our gang. So instead, I’m offering a Tongue In Tuesday post (hey when given lemons, I say make some lemonade).

The stoic little Ranch Ninja doesn’t seem to mind me sharing this new recipe with you even if she won’t share her lovely pink tongue. After a dry winter (I realize some of you had endless Nor’easters and countless snow storms-of which we’re so jealous), your pups may have cracked paws or noses. If so, this. is. for. you. You may recall (past posts can be found here and here), where I shared recipes for tick and flea remedies and other treatment remedies for skin conditions using essential oils. Well here’s another one you can add to your healing arsenal ~ a balm for paws and noses

HOMEMADE PET BALM FOR NOSES AND PAWS

INGREDIENTS

1/2 C Natural Beeswax
1/4 C Coconut Oil
1/4 C Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Shea Butter
10-20 drops Vitamin E Oil (a natural preservative)

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Melt beeswax in a small jar in a pot of hot water (double boiler effect) over medium-high heat, stirring often, until completely melted. This should take about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the coconut oil, olive oil, and shea butter. Heat until all ingredients are melted, stirring often.
  3. Remove from heat and add the vitamin E drops. Stir well.
  4. Pour mixture into storage containers or molds.
  5. Let it sit for an hour until it solidifies.
Photo courtesy: Soap Deli News Blog

To use, rub a small amount into your palm until it melts. Apply to affected areas. I love the idea of using the silicone dog paw and bone shaped molds I’ve used before when I made coconut oil dog treats. With the moisturizing properties of these oils, those cracked paws and noses should heal up in no time. And you won’t have to worry about the balm being licked off. All the ingredients are completely safe. Win-win. Even if there is no tongue being displayed for the camera.

Does your pup ever get cracked nose or paws?

Live, love, bark 🐾

 

When Your Vet is a Star 🌟

Dr. Jeff Young, ‘Star’ Vet

We all think our vets are ‘stars,’ right? Well, we should. When you are entrusting your beloved fur-kid, you definitely want them to be a star. I mean, who wants to drop a house payment on a vet you have no confidence in when your pet needs critical care? But in my case (house payment aside), my vet really is a star. A TV star that is, as in Dr. Jeff, Rocky Mountain Vet currently airing on the Animal Planet network. These days our vet stars are Dr. Amy (who treats Elsa for her seizures) and Dr. Baier (who tends to Sam’s health) who work at his clinic, Planned Pethood Plus. And I’m very happy with all of them. By the way, if you haven’t seen the show, I strongly recommend it so you can see how this pillar of the community has made a difference in the lives of so many people and their pets. Here’s a link to a recent episode. Dr. Jeff also shares my passion regarding puppy mills and is a firm believer that you shouldn’t have to declare bankruptcy in order to take care of your pet. We all know treatment for pets can be limited by an ability to pay for it so he does everything he can to make treatment affordable.

My association with Planned Pethood did not begin when discovered the show which now has around a million and a half viewers each week. Established back in 1990, the clinic was located not far from where I currently live although I had been going to his mobile low-cost vaccination clinics for over 20 years.  With a seasoned staff of some 30 professionals, some who have been with him since they were hired out of high school where he has also been a cross-country track coach for the school, he is one of the busiest vets in the country with 100,000 clients. Dr. Jeff is driven by two simple underlying missions “significantly reducing companion animal overpopulation throughout the world” and “thinking globally: acting locally.” His passion for curbing pet overpopulation is paramount to his practice, with all rescues treated being spayed or neutered. In fact he has probably performed over 160,000 spay and neuter procedures in the Denver area, as well as providing all manner of veterinary care with his mobile unit throughout the Rocky Mountain region and internationally through Planned Pethood International clinics located in Bratislava, Slovakia and Merida, Mexico. 

Having a vet who just happens to be a TV as well as our personal vet star isn’t always rainbows and unicorns though. Because of the sheer number of clients, there are times when it can be frustrating waiting for a return call and it can be challenging keeping one’s expectations for instantaneous care in check. Like most people, I’m impatient when it comes to the care of my fur-babies. Yet I know the work performed is always in the best interests of their clients when they need treatment (did I mention he has 100,000 clients?) and know they always provide quality, affordable care. In 2016 just prior to the season finale, Dr. Jeff made the shocking announcement revealing a diagnosis of B-cell Lymphoma and that the landmark clinic would be moving from the Highlands neighborhood to a new location a few miles west in the suburb of Wheat Ridge. He cut his signature shoulder-length hair in an episode that was hard on the staff and all who know and love Dr. Jeff. While you can never be certain of a long-term prognosis with cancer, he seems to be doing well and continues his work with the same passion as always. We certainly wish him all the best.

When I began drafting this post, I realized Dr. Jeff isn’t the only vet star I’d been fortunate to have taken care of my fur-kids. Back in the 90’s when I lived out east in the suburb of Aurora, my first dog had epilepsy, too. Our neighborhood vet did not have 24 hour care when Crosby’s Grand Mal seizures began and recommended he be transported over to Alameda East, a couple of miles away where he was successfully treated and where all my other pets were treated as well. Back then, the TV series ER was hugely popular and Animal Planet contacted Dr. Robert Taylor, the founder of Alameda East Veterinary Hospital about producing a reality show showing the treatment of animals and thus the show Emergency Vets began airing in 1998. The show ended in 2002 just before I moved to the west side of town once I realized Dr. Jeff’s mobile clinic had a permanent location close to the house.

Dr. Fitz with a couple of patients

While we were clients at Alameda East, our vet ‘star’ was Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, who was a reptile specialist and who coincidently happened to be a well-known local stand-up comedian in his spare time as well as a TV star.

Doesn’t it seems kind of ironic that both of my vets have been TV stars? Not that I’m complaining, mind you. But you have to admit it is interesting they both have silver hair and mustaches and are ‘stars’ in multiple ways.

Maybe there is something special about the thin air of the Mile High City that produces such terrific stars both on TV as well as for providing great care to my fur-kids.

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

The Do’s & Don’t of Ticks

Summertime and the living is…downright buggy. We’re playing outdoors, taking hikes and just generally being outside more frequently which increases our chance of a tick encounter. Blech! I HATE those nasty things. Here’s some info I recently found in Dogs Naturally Magazine that might keep your fur-iend just a wag safer.

According to experts, ticks…those creepy crawly bugs that transmit diseases, are expected to be particularly bad this year and may be expanding their range to epidemic numbers in some areas. The good news is (if you can consider anything associated with ticks as being ‘good’), most tick-borne diseases aren’t usually transmitted immediately so if they are removed within 36 hours, changes are good your pet is not likely to be infected. Whew!

Ticks in Dogs

[All images shown here are courtesy of Dogs Naturally Magazine]

Finally, American canine hepatozoonosis (ACH) (Hepatozoon canis, Hepatozoon americanum is an emerging but rare disease but one worth mentioning since it isn’t transmitted by a bite but by ingesting when the dog removes ticks off his own body, or if he eats prey that had ticks. Highly debilitating, it’s particularly essential to remove these ticks before your pup does. This one is found in the south central and southeastern US.

Geographic Areas

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) provides interactive maps for the US and Canada on their website (Note: CAPC’s sponsors are big Pharma/chemical companies that provide tick products and therefore have a vested interest in promoting convenience with an added dose of old-fashioned fear). 

Tick Removal

Removing ticks is the name of the game here, especially if you aren’t a big Pharma/chemical company fan. But there are do’s and don’ts associated with tick removal of which you should be aware.

Time is of the essence. Removing ticks quickly is in your best interest. If you’ve been hiking in tall grasses or walking in the woods, check your pet over as soon as you can. If your pup is chewing on a spot, pay special attention. It’s a clue there may be something or someone there. Check all over. While ticks favor ears, toes, joints, they are dastardly buggers and will attach to tails or nether regions, given half the opportunity. Long-haired or double coated dogs can be gone over with a low-heat setting on a hair-dryer to make viewing easier.

Here’s one of the little bastards right there. Get it!!

Using tweezers close to the skin, pull up gently. Clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Dispose of the offender in alcohol or flush it down the toilet. Or you can use a one of these nifty tick removal tools.

Buh, bye…rotten bug.

I’ve never seen one of these before but naturally YouTube has a brilliant video on how to use. They sure would have come in handy during the camping days of my youth. ‘Roughing it’ now requires at least a motel. No more sleeping on the ground in a tent for this sports-fan. No siree.

Now properly equipped in your tick-removal of Do’s, you should know there are plenty of Don’ts that you should likewise be aware of, though I confess, I’ve broken some of these rules over the years out of ignorance.  Don’t remove ticks with your fingers so as to avoid contamination from pathogens. Remember, above all, these are disease spreading insects. Don’t use vaseline or other substances in an effort to suffocate it. Don’t squish a tick-it can increase the risk of infection for you or your pup. Don’t burn the tick with a hot match and don’t dispose of it in a trash can. These are crawling little bastards and they’ll seek sanctuary until the next sucker host comes along.

The best way to avoid ticks is keeping them off your dog. Sure you can go the chemical route, but you can also try some natural solutions (easier said than done when you live in a heavily wooded area with heavy humidity and up to your eyeballs in them).

Effective dietary preventives can be useful. Garlic (I know, some of you are freaking out now, but it appears 1/3 tsp of fresh garlic per 10 lbs. of weight is safe). Check with your vet to be sure it’s appropriate for your pup. Apple cider vinegar added to food or water bowl makes blood less tasty to ticks and fleas. One half teaspoon per 25 lbs. of weight should work nicely.

Herbal flea and tick powders are excellent options (for homemade recipe see here). You can add a couple drops of rose geranium essential oil to 2 TBS of almond oil and spray directly on a collar, bandana or the neck. While I’m not familiar with this one, Palo Santo essential oil added to your favorite lavender shampoo makes a good tick shampoo (see this link for info). A citrus repellant in a spray bottle misted on your pet (avoiding eyes and nose) is also effective. Ticks are not fans of peppermint essential oil either. Food grade diatomaceous earth powder (DE) can be lightly sprinkled on your pet but may be drying to his skin and of course, again avoid eyes, nose and mouth. DE can be sprinkled around the garden and contains good minerals that don’t hurt plants or earthworms. Nematodes feed on tick larvae so if you live in a wooded area, this is a solution for your yard.

Now after all that nasty boogie man stuff about ticks and all the problems they can cause, you also have some natural solutions for staying safe. Remember avoidance is the best treatment but in the summertime that’s not always possible. Have fun, enjoy the outdoors and eliminate the bastards.

Do you have trouble with ticks? How do you deal with them?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

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