Category: “Uncategorized”

When Your Dog‘s Itching is Driving You Crazy

When Your Dog‘s Itching is Driving You Crazy

Orginally posted on drsophiayin.com by Dr. Sally J. Foote

What’s with all the scratching? Is it heat?

Summertime can often trigger skin rashes and ear infections in dogs. You may be cleaning your dog’s ears, bathing them, or giving them anti-histamines, yet they continue scratching away. There may be relief for a day or two, but it continues to come back. The foot licking, scratching, and gnawing starts to drive both you and your dog crazy. You Google all the remedies and you still cannot sleep at night – nor can your dog. What is going on here?

Possible Causes

While I cannot say specifically what is bothering your dog, there are some common factors that happen during the summer that increase allergy, infection, or flea problems significantly. When the days become more humid, the number of mosquitoes, fleas, and other biting insects can show a marked increase within a 24-hour period. These insects bite your dog triggering an allergic reaction. A dog who could once tolerate a few bites may then become overloaded and develop a rash. For some dogs they will have a rash on the belly; for others the ears will flare up. Baths in a soothing shampoo can help, but if your dog is still scratching or chewing intensely, have them examined by a veterinarian. The bacteria, yeast, and mange that is normally present will take advantage of the inflamed skin and make things worse. Delaying care will not only make your pet miserable, but creates a bigger problem that will take more medication, time, and money to treat.

Another factor that increases skin and ear inflammation is the increase in inhalant allergens from growing plants. Often, animals have a list of things they are allergic to, and they can tolerate a number of them at low levels with minimal skin or ear problems. Following a rainstorm, the pollen and mold counts increase, triggering intense allergic reactions. This can increase the inflammation, resulting in a rash that is intensely irritating. Controlling the allergens – like a food or flea allergens – can help when the environment rears its ugly head. It is best to work with your veterinarian to develop a plan for the care of your pets during the summer months.

What’s the plan?

If you have taken your dog to the veterinarian, and everything is better, it is still extremely important to have a plan to prevent continued flare-ups throughout the summer. Take your dog back in for that recheck even if the skin looks good, and partner with your veterinarian to develop a management plan. This will prevent chronic flare-ups which is best for your pet’s health and your sanity. I cannot stress enough the importance of a regular bathing schedule in the proper medicated shampoo as a preventative. Which shampoo is best, and how often, is what your veterinarian will prescribe as part of this plan. If your pet is difficult to bathe, many groomers will use the veterinarian prescribed shampoo you bring with you. You can also make bath-time more fun through positive training.

Irritated skin and ears can also cause dogs to be more agitated, or even aggressive. The chronic pain and irritation will tend to increase not only irritability, but also anxiety. Inflammation increases stress hormone release and decreases serotonin, an important brain chemical. This leads to guarding of the body – avoiding or reacting against touch. If your dog seems a little more “snarky” or “grumbling” (terms I hear clients use), it is likely a reaction directly related to the inflammation of the skin. When the skin improves, the behavior improves.

No Mocha Monday! An easy and affordable way to support DMK Rehoming.

No Mocha Monday!  An easy and affordable way to support DMK Rehoming.

NO MOCHA MONDAY is the first Monday of each month (probably not a good day to choose, but No Mocha Wednesday didn’t have that “ring” to it) and we’re asking you to skip your Mocha and instead donate $3.74. We will get approximately $3.50 from that. The button for NMM (no mocha monday) is a monthly donation, which you can claim as your tax deductible contribution for $44.88 on your taxes as a deduction. Our goal is 1,000 people. If 1000 of our FB friends donate, that would give us $3,500 per month for our general fund. It will cover our monthly standard vetting, dog food, help out with rent and leave us with a little seed money, hopefully. The small donation of $3.74 a month would really help our cause for the dogs. Please click here to donate to the pups at DMK Rehoming!

Kids Who Grow Up With Dogs and Cats Are More Emotionally Intelligent and Compassionate

Kids Who Grow Up With Dogs and Cats Are More Emotionally Intelligent and Compassionate

Originally posted by Starre Vartan
Mother Nature Network
April 27, 2015
Original Post

If you’re a parent, the idea of adding the care and feeding of an animal to your responsibilities might feel like too much work. But having a dog, cat, bunny, hamster or other animal as a part of the family benefits kids in real ways. Studies have shown that kids who have pets do better — especially in the area of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), which has been linked to early academic success, even more so than the traditional measure of intelligence, IQ.

Even better news is that unlike IQ, which is thought by most experts to be unchangeable (you can’t really change your IQ by studying), EQ can improve over time with practice. Animal friends can help kids do that by cultivating the very skills that lead to better Emotional Intelligence. (And pooches and kitties aren’t even trying; it just comes naturally.)

The following EQ skills are developed by children with pets:

1. Compassion: According to this overview of the scientific literature by Nienke Endenburg and Ben Baarda in The Waltham Book of Human-Animal Interaction, “If there are pets in the house, parents and children frequently share in taking care of the pet, which suggests that youngsters learn at an early age how to care for and nurture a dependent animal.” Even very young children can contribute to the care and feeding of a pet — a 3-year-old can take a bowl of food and set it on the floor for a cat, and at the same age, a child can be taught to stroke an animal nicely, maybe using the back of the hand so they don’t grab the animal. Supervising kids during the first few interactions is a teaching moment. Later, once they have learned the ropes, their memory and understanding of a life outside themselves will be stimulated each time they interact with the animals. Older kids can be responsible for walking a dog or playing with it in the yard, cleaning out a cat’s litter box, or taking veggie scraps from dinner to a rabbit or hamster. A study of 3- to 6-year-olds found that kids with pets had more empathy towards other animals and human beings, while another study found that even just having an animal in a classroom made fourth-graders more compassionate.

2. Self-esteem: Caring for pets also builds self-esteem because being assigned tasks (like filling the dog’s water bowl) gives a child a sense of accomplishment and helps him feel independent and competent. Pets can be especially good for children who have very low self-esteem: “[A researcher] found that children’s self-esteem scores increased significantly over a nine-month period of keeping pets in their school classroom. In particular, it was children with originally low self-esteem scores who showed the greatest improvements,” write Endenburg and Baarda.

3. Cognitive development: Kids with pets play with them, talk to them, and even read to them (that last activity is more common than you’d think), and the data backs up the idea that this additional low-stress communication benefits verbal development in the youngest kids. “Pet ownership might facilitate language acquisition and enhance verbal skills in children. This would occur as a result of the pet functioning both as a patient recipient of the young child’s babble and as an attractive verbal stimulus, eliciting communication from the child in the form of praise, orders, encouragement and punishment.”

4. Stress reduction: In surveys of kids who are asked about who they would go to with a problem, children regularly mentioned pets, indicating that for many, animals can provide emotional support and an additional way to mitigate negative emotions when they are feeling stressed. “The ‘social’ support given by pets has some advantages compared to the social support given by humans. Pets can make people feel unconditionally accepted, whereas fellow humans will judge and may criticize,” write Endenburg and Baarda. Animals are great listeners and are non-judgmental — if a kid does badly on a test or angers their parents, an animal will still provide loving support.

5. Understanding the cycle of life: Talking about birth and death with kids can be hard for parents. Learning about them via the lives of animals can be an easier way for both parties to learn about these basics of life. While experiencing the death of a pet can be difficult and painful, it can also be an important learning experience. “… the way in which their parents and others near to them deal with the situation will have an influence on how children cope with death in general throughout their lives. It is important for parents to discuss their feelings of sadness openly and to share the associated feelings with the child. Parents have to show that it is all right to have such feelings. Learning to cope with sad feelings, for instance when a pet dies or is euthanized, is important and parents have to help their children with it,” write Endenburg and Baarda.

In addition, experiencing or talking about the other side of death — birth — can be a simple and age-appropriate way to begin the discussion about sex.

Of course all of the above positive benefits depend on the structure of the family, the number of siblings or other non-parental adults around, and of course a child’s own genetic tendencies, but only children and those with few siblings (or the youngest of a group) often become more pet-oriented.

If any of the above concepts sound familiar to adult readers, that’s because some of the same benefits are relevant for grown-ups too, including the social support and stress reduction.