Sunday, 29 June 2014

Parasites and Your Pet

Parasites (fleas, ticks, and worms) can make your cat or dog sick. The good news is that you can
protect your pet from parasites. It costs some money to prevent parasite-borne diseases, but it is cheaper to prevent than treat an illness!

The height of flea-and-tick season is April-August, but fleas can cause problems all year. Fleas move fast, so they can be hard to see in your pet’s fur. Look for flea dirt in the area where your pets sleeps. Flea dirt looks like black specks, but when you rub it with a damp paper towel, it shows as a reddish smear.
Fleas can make your dog or cat very itchy, lose their hair, and lose lots of blood. In addition, fleas can carry tapeworm eggs. If your pet eats a flea that is carrying tapeworm eggs, your pet can get tapeworms. If your pet has tapeworms, you will notice small, hard, seed-like particles where your pet sleeps.

You can treat a flea problem with flea collars, powders, sprays, shampoos, and dips. These treatments must be repeated often in order to work. The easiest and best way to prevent fleas is to use a monthly “spot-on” topical medicine. A few drops on your pet’s neck is all it takes to kill fleas for one month.
Remember: It’s cheaper to prevent your pet from getting fleas than to hire exterminators to get rid of them!

Heartworms are deadly worms carried by mosquitoes. If an infected mosquito bites your dog, your dog will get worms that actually live in the pet’s heart. Heartworms cause blocked blood vessels,

Signs of a serious heartworm infection include coughing, intolerance of exercise, fainting, and difficulty breathing.
breathing problems, bleeding problems, and heart failure. Your pet can die from untreated heartworms.

The only way to prevent heartworms is by giving your dog medicine each month. Monthly heartworm medicine kills baby heartworms in your dog's blood.

Some heartworm preventatives protect your pet from other parasites, too. For instance, Revolution and Sentinel protect your pet from heartworms, fleas, mites, intestinal worms, and ticks. Sentinel is a tablet, while Revolution is the spot-on treatment applied to the dog's neck.
If your dog is already infected with heartworms, there are several ways to kill them. You can have the dog treated at your vet. Your vet will give the dog injections to kill the worms. This treatment is expensive and requires that the dog remain still and mostly inactive for weeks during treatment. If this isn't an option, many vets are now giving dogs antibiotics that kill the bacteria that co-exist with the worms. Killing the bacteria should weaken the worms.
Heartworm-positive dogs can be started on ivermectin-based heartworm preventative, such as Heartguard or Iverheart. Heartworm preventative will not kill existing adult worms, but it will prevent new ones. Adult worms will die naturally in about two years. Even if you can't afford to treat existing heartworms, starting them on preventative will keep your dog from further infestation.

Ticks can cause diseases in your pet such as Lyme disease. Some flea treatments, like Revolution and Frontline, also kill ticks. You can get cheap tick collars from pet and discount stores, and very effective tick collars from your vet. The easiest way to remove a tick from your pet is to grab it with tweezers and gently pull it out. Be sure and pull out the tick’s head, too! After removing the tick, apply some alcohol to the spot.

Hot Spots
Hot spots are common in summer, often caused when your dog scratches. A hot spot is a moist, red, strong-smelling, infected area on the dog's skin. If you see your dog constantly scratching the same spot, check for an oozing, red area. You can treat hot spots yourself by keeping the infected area clean and dry:
1. Cut all the hair away from the area. Sometimes you have to cut quite a bit of hair off. Cutting the hair off allows air to reach the infected area and dry it out.
2. Clean the area. Pour rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, or hydrogen peroxide onto the infected area, then pat it dry.
3. Treat the area with antibacterial powder or spray from your vet, Neosporin spray from the grocery, or dissolve an aspirin in a cup of black tea and apply the tea with a rag.
Clean the area several times a day and be sure it stays dry.

Other Worms
There are four other types of worms that live in the intestines and make dogs and cats sick. The most common is the roundworm. Most puppies and kittens have roundworms. Pets with roundworms may have a “pot-bellied” appearance, vomiting, and poor growth. Puppies and kittens should be tested for worms when they get their shots. If untreated, roundworms can kill baby animals. Adult animals can also get roundworms. Hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms are similar to roundworms. Diarrhea, dehydration and weight loss are the most common symptoms. Sometimes you will see worms or parts of worms in your pet’s bowel movements, around the anus, or in their bedding.
Your vet can test babies and adults for worms.

Mites are so small that they are hard to see. Some mites cause a serious skin problem called mange (a disease that causes itching, hair loss, and sores). Ear mites are a common problem in both dogs and cats. They produce a buildup of very dark, waxy matter inside the ear and cause itching. An animal with ear mites will scratch at its ears and may shake its head a lot. Your vet can give you inexpensive medications to treat mites.

Stay safe this summer!  Make sure you book regular yearly appointments with your vet to keep up on your dog's annuals and blood work.  Remember, it's more cost effective and much safer for your pet if you take preventative measures against fleas, ticks, mites and worms than if you simply react.  

Keep your tails wagging, 
Bear's P4ws

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


Remember this pooch?

His name is Lost Boy and, not too long ago, he was looking for his forever home.  Lost Boy lives in Repulse Bay Nunavut; a small community where life for stray dogs is hard, cold and potentially deadly.  We came across Lost Boy through a friend who, had she had the room in her own home (being a dog mom to 2 other rescue pooches) would have adopted him herself.  She was determined not to leave Lost Boy behind and the search began.....

Four days after posting this poster for Lost Boy and reaching out to an incredible Toronto-based dog rescue called Just Paws Animal Rescue, Lost Boy had a veritable army rooting for him.  His story ends happily -- the family that had agreed to temporarily foster him fell head-over heels in love with his incredibly gentle and loving nature and very quickly decided to adopt him themselves.

Romping with one of the local pups =)

Lost Boy now has a bed to call his own, a warm place to lay his head and a family that will love him and care for him.
A happy tail indeed!

Thank you to everyone who passed our Lost Boy post along, and to the wonderful people at Just Paws who had their sleeves rolled up and were ready to dive head-first into a fundraising campaign to help us find this beautiful boy a home.

Keep your tails wagging,
Bear's P4ws

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Street Festivals, Parades, Concerts....and Your Dog

'Tis the season for Street fairs, concerts in the park, parades and festivals… they are great places for people watching.  But today I found myself dog-watching.  I was actually surprised at the number of people who brought along their pooches out considering the incredible heat…but really, can I blame them? 
 Not really, no.  Given the chance, Bear would go with me to every "dog permissible" street fair or festival in our area....there is, however a certain amount of caution that needs to be taken when you and your pooch are going to be out in the summer heat for the whole day.  

You want to make sure that you yourself stay hydrated, as cool as possible and protected, but you also want your pooch to have the same luxuries and comforts. Also, consider the length of time that you will be walking around, and the fact that most streets tend to get pretty hot after the sun has had the chance to beat down on them for a while... 

That being said, I want to share some things to consider before you decide to take your dog to this weekend’s festival – whatever or wherever that might be.  

First, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Will my dog be comfortable at the event… or would she be happier sleeping alone at home?
  • Can I be sure my dog won’t react aggressively if an overly aggressive person approaches him? (You might be surprised at how strangers will rush up to your dog.  I see a lot of this on a day-to-day basis.)
  • Can I make sure my dog won’t get into something I don’t want her to get into? (Dropped food, trash, etc.)
  • Will it get too hot for my dog if I can’t find a spot in the shade?

If you do decide to take your best friend along to an outdoor public event, then here are a few suggestions:

  • Take along a bowl and bottled water – you might not be able to find water at the event.
  • Consider taking an umbrella for shade – just in case there isn’t any.
  • Watch for signs of stress – look for calming signals in your dog – and be prepared to leave early if your dog is stressed.
  • Be an advocate for your dog – don’t let unruly kids (or adults) make inappropriate moves toward your dog.

Bark back at us! What other tips do you have for fellow dog owners who want to bring their pooches out on Festival days?

Keep your tails wagging
Bear's P4ws

Monday, 16 June 2014

Will You Be my Forever Family?

There is nothing sweeter than the love of a rescued dog....

Lost Boy is looking for a family to call his own.  Normally we don't blatantly post adoption requests like this, but this pup strikes close to home because like Bear, he is a Northern Dog is serious need of some tender love and care.

If you are interested (or if you know anyone who may be interested) in adopting Lost Dog, get in touch with us via this blog, our Facebook page, or through email at and we will put you in touch with the wonderful people trying to get him out of Repulse Bay.

Hopefully, with a little luck and a lot of hope, we can help this sweet Lost Boy find himself a home.

Keep your tails wagging
Bear's P4ws

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Petting Dogs: Why Consent is Important

Originally written by a trainer at PawsAbilities this blog/article cover such an important topic for all dog owners to understand and advocate that I simply had to re-post it.

“Come give Sara a hug goodbye,” my friend tells her 3-year-old son. His eyes get big, and he stands behind his mother, hugging her legs. It’s an uncomfortable moment. My friend is embarrassed that her son clearly doesn’t want to hug me. She wants to teach him manners, and worries how his reaction reflects on her parenting. It’s been so long since we last saw each other that her son barely remembers me, and he’s very uncomfortable with the idea of such an intimate goodbye. I’m also not a fan of the idea, since I don’t want to touch anyone, no matter the age, without his or her express consent, even for something as minor as a brief embrace.
“Do you want to wave goodbye instead?” I ask my friend’s son. He nods and smiles shyly, waving bye-bye. The tension in the room relaxes, and I hug my friend goodbye while her son stands in the background, relief palpable in his demeanor as he waves. I hope that I’ve given both him and his mother the tools to deal with similar situations gracefully in the future. It’s okay if he doesn’t want someone to touch him, and he can always offer an alternate suggestion that he feels more comfortable with.
It’s not okay to touch others without their consent. As grabby primates, this can be a hard rule for us to follow. It’s not okay to rub a stranger’s pregnant belly, or to ruffle a child’s curly hair without her permission. If someone doesn’t want to shake hands or hug, waving or giving a fist bump may be more appropriate. We learn as young children to keep our hands to ourselves, and it’s something that we need to remember our entire lives. It’s also something we need to remember when we interact with dogs.

Not every dog likes to be touched. Sure, most dogs enjoy petting and scratching, especially in those hard-to-reach areas such as under their collar and along their spine. However, just like us, every dog has a different level of tolerance for physical affection. Some dogs, just like some people, can’t get enough of touch. They’re happiest when they can lean against you, skin-on-skin, and feel your hand caressing them. Other dogs, just like other people, prefer not to be touched except by a handful of those they know and trust, and even then, only at certain times and in certain places.
You wouldn’t run up and hug a stranger who was walking in the park just because you liked the color of his or her eyes, and it’s just as inappropriate to hug or pick up a dog you don’t know just because you think it’s cute. If a stranger approaches your dog and wants to pet him or her, and your dog doesn’t seem comfortable with the idea, it’s absolutely alright to tell that person no. Just as you would stand up for a child or a vulnerable adult who was unable to tell the stranger no, it’s okay to stand up for your dog. Dogs are not public property, and no one has the right to pet your dog unless you and your dog are both okay with them doing so. 

Of course, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t teach your dog to accept petting and to greet people appropriately. Dogs have to live in a world where people will reach out for them without asking first, so give your dog the tools to cope with this gracefully by socializing him appropriately.
If you want to pet a dog, whether it’s your own pet or a dog you just met, make sure that you ask first. Asking the owner is important, but even more importantly, I want you to ask the dog. Ask the dog if he or she wants to be touched, and then respect the answer you’re given. 

How do you ask a dog whether she wants to be petted? Dogs aren’t verbal, so they can’t verbally express what they want. However, they do have a complex and nuanced language of their own, and we can watch their body language to determine whether they want to be touched or not.
Start by crouching down a few feet away from the dog you’d like to pet, talking to him or her softly. If the dog approaches, that’s a good sign that she’s interested in interacting with you. If she maintains her distance, that’s an equally good sign that she’s not currently comfortable interacting and that you should give her some space.

Once the dog approaches you, gently pet her under her chin, on her chest, or along her side for 1-2 seconds. Pause and see what she does. If she moves closer to you, leans in, nudges at your hand, or otherwise interacts further with you in a social way, she is telling you that she enjoyed being touched and would like to be petted more. Go ahead and oblige. If she stiffens up, moves away, or does not show any social body language, stop touching her. You do not have her consent to continue putting
your hands on her body. This should go without saying, but if the dog shows warning signs such as whale eye, growling, snarling, snapping, or biting at you, stop what you’re doing immediately and give her some space.
Every so often as you’re petting the dog, stop and ask whether she’d like you to continue by watching her body language. Whenever you pet her in a new place on her body or in a new way (for example, ruffling up the fur above her tail instead of softly stroking her shoulder), stop after a few seconds and evaluate whether she enjoyed that. Many dogs have definite preferences about where they enjoy being touched the most, so ask for the dog’s feedback and watch her respond ecstatically as you scritch just the right spot.

If someone else is petting your dog, ask them to follow these same instructions. Watch your dog’s body language, and be ready to redirect the person if your dog becomes uncomfortable.
It’s a sad reflection of our society that I’m often accused of not liking my clients’ dogs upon first meeting them because I don’t immediately try to pet them. People seem hurt and confused that I don’t instantly reach out for their dogs, especially since I clearly love dogs so much. When I explain that I don’t pet dogs without the dog’s consent, it’s often very eye-opening for my clients, who were taught that anyone should be allowed to touch a dog whether the dog wants it or not. These same clients are often amazed that their dogs don’t show the same aggressive behavior towards me that they do towards most visitors to the home, or that their fearful dog warms up to me so quickly. This isn’t magic. It’s just respect. I respect each dog’s right to choose how closely he or she wants to interact with me, and dogs respond to this respect enthusiastically.

Bark back at us!  How do you handle strangers (children especially) who love dogs and lunge for them when they cross you in the street or at the park?

Keep your tails wagging