Rehoming an Abandoned or Surrendered Dog

Rehoming an Abandoned or Surrendered Dog

Up and down the country dog rescue centres of all kinds seek forever homes for 1000s of dogs that have been abandoned or surrendered into care. Social media campaigns spearheaded by armies of well-meaning volunteers and high profile celebrities encourage us to adopt rather than breed, and there is an argument for this.

In this article we shall outline the things that you should consider when adopting a dog and the reason that these considerations are so important.

Abandoned Dog

So What Should We Consider

It is absolutely true that many dogs that emerge from rescue centres make fantastic companions, there are many success stories published daily on social media that support this view. Yet it is also true that there are many extremely difficult dogs with serious behavioural issues passing through rehoming centres and on to unsuspecting new owners.

Just consider when you take on a dog from a rescue centre that you may also be taking on a dog with deep rooted issues and considerable emotional complications (that maybe the reason for its abandonment). Avoid rushing in and taking the first dog that catches your eye, take your time and visit the dog several times before agreeing to take it home. If the rescue are not willing to wait for you and use emotive language to encourage early acceptance it just might not be the right dog for you or certainly not the right rescue centre to take a dog from.

Ask the right questions and check carefully the terms and conditions of the dog rescue centre from which you are adopting. It is in your best interest to do this before you look at the choice of dogs, there is a strong chance that if you look at the dogs first you will be heart led by the dog whose eyes reach into your soul and before you know it you’ve fallen in love.

Always consider the following:

  • Personal experience and knowledge of the breed
  • Function and purpose of the breed (this includes mixed breed)
  • History and background information
  • Individual handling ability
  • Future environment
  • Living conditions
  • Family circumstances
  • Experience of dealing with behavioural problems
  • Experience of dealing with complex behavioural problems
  • Amount of time required and available to dedicate to a dog with issues
  • Financial demands associated with a dog with issues
  • Emotional demands associated with a dog with issues
  • Seeking expert assistance in choosing your dog.

What Exactly are You Taking On?

At The Way of the Dog we have thought long and hard about abandoned or surrendered dogs, especially those with behavioural problems, and how best to describe them.  It is our view that some dogs – with little or no known history – are best summed up as complex jigsaw puzzles.  The puzzle might be a 5000 piece jigsaw with no picture box displaying what the image should look like.  There may also be missing pieces, the more missing pieces the more complex the puzzle and the greater difficulty in trying to make sense of the remaining pieces.

Start to view an adopted dog as a complex jigsaw puzzle and you will understand the difficulty in trying to modify inappropriate behaviour when it is unclear from where that behaviour originates. When adopting a dog – with or without details about its background – one thing is for sure, you are unlikely to ever truly know the full range of environmental triggers that may ignite an emotional outburst.

 

Triggers that relate to its past and are the hidden motivators behind a fearful, defensive, or aggressive response.  It is unlikely that a rescue centre will subject a dog to every possible trigger, either due to a lack of knowledge and awareness or simply due to the impracticality and a lack of resources.  It is just not possible to reproduce every conceivable environmental situation and provocative stimulus that may elicit an emotional response, despite what some may claim.  Even if it were possible the fact remains that the dog’s general behaviour may very well be suppressed when residing in a rescue centre for a whole variety of reasons.

The lack of a clear history and knowledge of a dog’s environmental triggers make modification of behaviour difficult. It is for these reasons that our points to consider should be contemplated.

Give a Dog a Chance

This article is not intended to deter anybody from rescuing a dog; in fact the opposite is the case. We want to raise awareness and help people make informed choices to support both the dog and prospective owner to achieve a successful outcome. We want to support the reduction in the number of cases where there is a real risk of serious harm. Avoid further upset to the dog and subsequently the new owner due to having no option but to return the dog to the rescue centre. It goes without saying this cannot avoid causing further distress to the animal, unavoidable upset for the adopter, and possible inconvenience for the rescue centre. All the above advice applies to dogs being re-homed under private arrangements from adverts or between friends.

Whatever your personal view on rehoming and adopting a dog it is not always a straightforward practice and sometimes not a perfect or pleasurable outcome. By all means give a dog a chance, but do your groundwork first and know exactly what you are taking on or at the very least be prepared for the unexpected. If you have found yourself in that unfortunate position of falling in love with a dog that has behaviour issues of any kind please consider contacting The Way of the Dog, we can support you with a behaviour modification programme.

In the next article we will look at where rehoming has gone horribly wrong.

10 Ideas for Keeping Your Dog Cool in Summer

10 Ideas for Keeping Your Dog Cool in Summer

During warmer weather you should be aware of the risk that overheating poses to your dogs health and well being. Our recent article Overheating & Heat Stroke in Dogs provides information on how to recognise and treat overheating; this time were are going to offer a few ideas for keeping your dog cool in the summer.

Dog in the park in summer

The following suggestions are all preventative measures for overheating and will help your pet to dissipate some of their core body temperature through conduction (passing his body heat directly to a conductive material) and convection (transferring his body heat to the air through evaporation) or a mixture of the two. These suggestions can be used in addition to always providing your dog with plenty of cool, fresh drinking water and the availability of shade and ventilation.

Cool Treats

In warm weather we all reach to the fridge for a cooling drink or snack, why not do the same for your dog. A slice of cool melon, a chilled carrot, some natural yoghurt; anything that is dog safe and will help keep him cool too.

The freezer is also a source of cooling treats. Most dogs will enjoy a chew on an ice cube or frozen vegetable sticks. There are pet safe ice creams and frozen yoghurts available from many pet stores that your dog will love. Alternatively, buy and freeze some pouches of baby food (checking the ingredients for items that a poisonous to dogs), snip across the top of the pouch and then slide out the tasty, cold treat for your dog to enjoy.

Make an Ice Treat

Use an ice cube, cupcake or muffin tray to make some individual ice treats made from a watery chicken broth, fish stock or gravy. You could also use some of your dogs favourite treats by freezing chunks of cheese or cooked meat in water.

Frozen/Chilled Toys

There are plenty of frozen toys with a sponge centre that you soak and freeze available from pet stores. The idea is that your dog will chew, lick and shake them thus releasing cool water and cooling their mouth. If you decide to buy one of these items, please check its durability and suitability for your breed.

You can use existing treat toys such as a frozen Kong stuffed with fruit; alternatively you can make your own frozen toy by soaking a tea towel in water, place treats randomly across it (hotdog slices and cheese work well), roll it up, scrunch it, then pop it in the freezer for a couple of hours until partially frozen.

When giving your dog any kind of frozen or chilled toy, alway monitor the condition of the toy and remove from the dog if parts become damaged or loose.

Cooler Coats

Perfect for summer walks, in the garden or at the beach or park, cooler coats are fitted dog jackets created from absorbent material that you can soak with water. The water held in the material slowly evaporates, drawing heat away from your dog’s body and reducing their temperature.

If your dog is overheating you can create the same effect by getting him to shade and placing a cool, wet towel over his body. You can aid the evaporation process by creating a breeze using fans.

Cooling Collars and Bandanas

Working on the same principle as (although less effective than) cooler coats, cooling collars and bandanas hold water by your dogs skin, thus allowing the heat to transfer through evaporation.

Some collars contain pouches that store ice or gel packs which will aid cooling. Ice shouldn’t be used in cases of overheating as this may cause blood vessels near the surface of the body to constrict and may decrease heat transfer.

Again, you can create the effect of a cooling collar/bandana by creating your own from a tea towel, soaked in water and tied loosely around your dogs neck.

Cooling Mats

Cooling mats fall into 2 categories, wet and dry. They are great for the home, garden or in the back of a car.

Wet mats are made from a highly absorbent material, usually backed with a waterproof material. The user activates the mat by soaking the mat. As your dog lies on the mat, heat is transferred to the mat and dissipated through evaporation.

Dry mats are usually gel filled and require no activation. As your dog lies on the mat, heat is transferred and dissipated to cooler regions of the mat. These mats can be folded and chilled in the fridge for extra effectiveness.

Yet again, the effect of a cooling mat can be replicated using a towel soaked in cool water.

Paddling Pool / Hose Play

You may have noticed a theme in some of these ideas/products; cool water helps to keep a dog cool. All dog owners know that a dogs coat can take ages to dry so let’s get old school and get the hose out, fill the paddling pool and have some fun.

By soaking your dogs coat, his body heat will transfer to the water and evaporate. Keep soaking him and he’ll stay cool. If you are out and about, let him swim or pour water on him and rub it down to the skin.

Fans, Air Conditioning & Dehumidifiers

 

Heat transfers to the air very slowly, if that air is moving heat can transfer much quicker (think how the slightest draught can give you a chill). By fanning your dog or providing an electric fan this heat transfer is accelerated. A wet dog that is fanned will cool much quicker than a dry dog in still air.

If you have air con in the home or car, turn it on to help keep your dog cool on warm days. The cool, moving air will transfer heat from his body; whilst the reduced humidity will allow water to evaporate from his mouth and tongue more easily thus dissipating heat more easily.

Humidifiers do not cool the air significantly, but the reduction in humidity will again aid evaporation and heat dissipation.

Portable water

 

As your dog heats up he starts panting, evaporating water from his system. This evaporation takes heat away from his body, cooling him down. This water needs replenishing through drinking plenty of clean fresh water.

When you are out and about, particularly in the summer months, you should carry water for your dog and provide the opportunity to drink at regular intervals. You can either plan a walk around places where your dog can drink or carry a water supply with you.

Carry a lightweight flexible bowl and bottle of water that you can refill it water sources to ensure that you always have plenty of water available.

Portable shade

 

Wherever you go, your dog will follow. If you spend a sunny day in the garden, at the park or on the beach your dog will be right by your side. Without shade, your dog will overheat on a hot sunny day.

There are countless options for buying dog specific beds and shades, but a simple beach shelter will provide perfect shade. The beauty of these is that they can be relatively cheap and once erected can be turned as the sun crossed the sky to maximise the shade all day. They tend to have a floor that you can place a cooling mat in for maximum effectiveness.

If you don’t have a shelter, create some shade using 2 deck chairs and a towel, turn your windbreak into a tunnel tent or go home.

Enjoy the Summer

Cooling a dog

We hope you have enjoyed reading a few of our ideas for keeping your dog cool in summer. Please post any of your suggestions in the comments section below.

Enjoy your summer and stay cool.

Overheating and Heat Stroke in Dogs

Overheating and Heat Stroke in Dogs

Recently, we’ve had a couple of nice warm, sunny days here in Bolton and it got me pondering the perennial concerns relating to dogs and hot weather.

We all know that dogs die in hot cars thanks to excellent campaigns by the RSPCA, Dogs Trust, PETA and other animal organisations; what often gets overlooked is the fact that dogs die needlessly from heatstroke on warm days in parks, houses and gardens too.

In this article I’ll attempt to outline some of the facts surrounding dogs and overheating. Why and how it happens, the signs of overheating and what to do if your dog is overheating. Please take time to read and share this article, it may help to prevent the needless suffering of a loved pet.

Overheating Dog In Shade

A dogs core temperature

The average core temperature of a healthy dog is considered to be 38°C (101°F); however, the normal temperature of a healthy dog may range from 37°C to 39°C (99 °F to 102.5°F). A core temperature of over 39°C (103°F) is considered abnormal and requires immediate action. At 41°C (106°F) a dog will be suffering from heat stroke which can lead to multiple organ dysfunction and ultimately death.

Some dogs are more at risk to overheating than others, but at The Way of the Dog we consider this information superfluous to the need for education on overheating and heat stroke in dogs. We believe that all dog owners should be aware of the signs of overheating and heat stroke and be aware of the actions they need to take.

The causes and effects of overheating

There are many medical and physiological causes of overheating. As this article is related to the heat of a summer day we will focus only on these causes, but the symptoms and required actions are the same whatever the cause.

By exposing a dog to excessive environmental heat and humidity, excessive exercise or a combination of both heat and exercise your dogs core body temperature will begin to rise. His mind and body will respond as he attempts to regulate it.

Dog overheating

First, he will attempt to remove himself from the heat source by finding shade and/or stopping exercising. His blood vessels will dilate bringing hot blood close to the surface allowing it to cool. He will begin to sweat from the pads of his paws and will pant to bring air into his upper respiratory system to evaporate water from his mouth, tongue, throat and lungs thus dissipating heat. He will need to drink a lot of water to compensate for this evaporation. You should assist him to achieve this reduction in temperature by stopping exercising immediately and by providing shade, a breeze and plenty of cool fresh water.

In most cases this is enough to allow the dog to slowly reduce his core body temperature to it’s normal level. You should continue to monitor him for further symptoms and respond accordingly.

When overheating leads to heat stroke

If your dog is not removed from the heat source, is continued to be exercised and/or is unable to access enough water his temperature will continue to rise above 39°C (103°F). As he struggles to overcome the heat this starts a series of reactions that are difficult to stop, even if the animal eventually gets his temperature down. Heat stroke causes his organs and body systems to be affected and shut down, possibly leading to the death of your pet. By 41°C (106°F), irreversible damage will have occurred.

Symptoms of heat stroke

  • Body temperature above 39°C (103°F)
  • Severe panting
  • Sudden breathing distress
  • Lying down and won’t get up (panting may have ceased)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
  • Diarrhoea, sometimes bloody
  • Vomiting, sometimes bloody
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irregular heart beats
  • Weak rapid pulse
  • Changes in mental status
  • Lack of awareness of surroundings
  • Staggering, appears blind or drunken
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors
  • Unconsciousness

Treatment of heat stroke

Your objective here is to gradually reduce the dogs core body temperature; reducing it too quickly can cause further problems for your dog. Use cool, not cold water. Never use ice or iced water.

Treating Heat Stroke in Dogs

  • Remove your dog from any external heat sources. Find a shaded, well ventilated area that is close to a water source.
  • Provide the dog with plenty of cool, fresh drinking water. Do not force it to drink but you can moisten its tongue and mouth if it is lying down and panting.
  • Spray cool water over the dogs coat and rub in to the skin. Continue spraying.
  • Wrap the dog in cool wet towels, replacing them regularly.
  • Immerse the dog in cool water.
  • Use a fan to create a breeze.
  • Call your vet and explain what is happening and that you will be coming in.

If possible, you should monitor the dogs temperature and stop cooling once it returns to 39°C (103°F). Whilst continuing to monitor its temperature, you should now get your dog to your veterinary surgeon as soon as possible. Take wet towels/spray bottles for the journey to keep him cool.

Your pet will have undergone severe stress to its body and organs. Your vet will will need to examine your dog to check that its temperature has been reduced and has stabilized, and that no long lasting damage has taken place. Complications, such as a blood-clotting disorder, kidney failure, or fluid build-up in the brain will need to be immediately and thoroughly treated.

Our hope

At The Way of the Dog, we sincerely hope that this article has provided you with some essential advice on recognising and acting upon any signs of overheating in dogs. There are 4 key elements to remember:

  1. Be aware of putting your dog in a situation or environment where overheating is possible.
  2. Always monitor your dog for signs of overheating.
  3. Act to reduce the temperature of an overheating dog quickly and effectively.
  4. Always consult your vet if overheating has occurred and any of the symptoms of heat stroke have been displayed.

Enjoy the summer. Enjoy your dog.

Contribution by Matthew@HeppinessWebDesign

Sources and further reading:
Various articles at www.petmd.com
Temperature of a Healthy Dog (1999) – Jie Yao Huang (Janice)
Thermoregulation in Dogs and the Dangers of Hyperthermia for the Layperson (2011) – Jerilee A. Zezula, D.V.M.
 

Your Dog, Ticks & Lyme Disease

Your Dog, Ticks & Lyme Disease

This article has been written to provide dog owners with information relating to ticks, tick prevention and tick removal. It applies to you and your dog and could help to prevent both/either of you contracting a rather unpleasant disease.

I was going to hold back on writing and releasing this post until April or May, the start of tick season here in the UK; but as the Easter Holidays are early this year I thought it sensible to write it early. Part of the article covers prevention, so I also thought releasing it earlier than planned would give you time to prepare.

What are ticks?

Ticks are small, blood-sucking arthropods related to spiders. There are many different species of tick living in Britain, each preferring to feed on the blood of different animal hosts.

Ticks normally choose wildlife and farm livestock to be their hosts. However, people and pets send out the same signals (body heat and chemicals) as the tick’s usual hosts. The tick recognises these signals as being from a potential host and they will readily attach. Because we are not generally the intended host, we become ‘incidental hosts’, meaning that we are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Three particular species of tick are most likely to attach to people and their pets in the UK. One is Ixodes ricinus (also known as the sheep tick, wood tick, deer tick and castor bean tick). The second is Ixodes hexagonus (also known as the hedgehog tick). The third is Dermacentor reticulatus (also known as the ornate cow tick or the marsh tick). However, there are over 20 species of ticks in Britain, and a number of them have been known to attach to people or pets. It can depend on the area, habitat and surrounding wildlife, as to which species are most abundant.

What does a tick look like?

Ticks vary in colour (ranging from reddish to dark brown or black), and differ in size, depending on the species, age and sex of the tick, and whether it has fed.

Sheep / Deer Ticks - ©BADA-UK

The image above, courtesy of BADA-UK, show a female and male sheep tick. Note their size compared to the leaf and blade of grass. To the naked eye the larvae (with 6 legs) look like specks of soot, while nymphs are slightly larger, pinhead or poppy seed size. With their eight legs, nymphs and adult ticks resemble small spiders.

Sheep/deer tick feeding - ©BADA-UK

In this picture, you can see how a tick changes in appearance as it feeds and fills with the hosts blood.

Tick sizes ©BADA-UK

Here you can see just how small an unfed tick is. An unfed female is approximately 3mm (sesame-seed-size). Unfed males are smaller, at approximately 2.5mm. Unfed nymphs (which are semi grown) are smaller still, at around 1.5mm, and the larvae are a tiny 0.5mm (the size of a poppy seed). Even at such a tiny size, larvae can still transmit certain infections. Once fed, a tick can become considerably bigger.

Where can ticks be found?

The National Parks and forests are often publicised as the holding the greatest risk of tick bite to humans and pets. Tick bites are on the increase in these areas, but this can mainly be attributed to an increase in the population spending their leisure time in these areas and greater awareness, not necessarily an increase in numbers of ticks.

The truth is that ticks can be found across the whole of the UK. Ticks can be found anywhere that wildlife goes (e.g. pheasants, blackbirds, hedgehogs, badgers, foxes, squirrels and deer), where livestock grazes (e.g. cows, and sheep), and where the vegetation (e.g. grasses, heather, bracken, trees or garden shrubs) is sufficiently dense enough to provide a higher level of humidity that ticks need to survive. This can include town parks and gardens.

Dogs and ticks

Ticks cannot jump or fly, but when ready for a meal will climb a nearby piece of vegetation and wait for a passing animal or human to catch their hooked front legs. The tick will not necessarily bite immediately, but will often spend some time finding a suitable site on the skin.

What are the risks associated with a tick bite?

A bite from a tick is usually painless and you may only know if you or your dog have been bitten if you happen to see a feeding tick. A tick bite may cause irritation, an abscess or may blister.

A point to consider for smaller dogs is their small blood reserve, a small number of feeding ticks could lead to ‘significant’ blood loss and anaemia, but the main risk from a tick bite relates to the risk of infection passed on by the tick. Ticks feed on the blood of other animals. If a larval tick picks up an infection from an animal such as a vole or rat, when it next feeds as a nymph it can pass the infection to the next animal or human it bites. Ticks in Britain can carry a number of unpleasant diseases, including:

  • Lyme borreliosis (Lyme Disease)
  • Babesiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • TBE and Louping ill
  • Bartonella

Tick Bite Bulls Eye Rash

The most common of these diseases is Lyme Disease. The earliest and most common symptom of Lyme disease is a pink or red circular rash that develops around the area of the bite, three to 30 days after someone is bitten. The rash is often described as looking like a bull’s-eye on a dart board.
You may also experience flu-like symptoms, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Sore neck
  • Fever and/or chills

If Lyme disease is left untreated, further symptoms may develop months or even years later and can include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain and swelling of the joints
  • Neurological symptoms, such as temporary paralysis of the facial muscles
  • Inflammation of the heart muscles
  • Bacterial meningitis

Lyme disease in its late stages can trigger symptoms similar to those of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.

How to reduce the possibility of a tick bite

Due to the physical differences between you and your dog, the way to reduce the risk of (and hopefully prevent) a tick bite changes. Also, the products licensed for use on humans differs from those licensed for animals, these differences should be observed at all times.

Deer tick feeding

Prevention for people

The simplest barrier to preventing ticks reaching your skin is to cover up exposed skin with trousers and long sleeved tops. Light coloured clothing will enable you to see and brush off any ticks that attach to you.

Clothing can be treated with the insecticide Permethrin which is safe for humans in normal doses, but is dangerous to some animals, so should be used with care.

Insect repellents containing the active ingredients DEET and Picaridine are also effective against ticks. DEET is widely available and is safe for most people, but has been associated with adverse reactions in others. It can also damage synthetic clothing (waterproof coats, active wear) if applied to the fabric. DEET is toxic so should not be used on your pets. Picaridine has a slightly lower toxicity and does not damage synthetic fabrics but some studies have shown it to be less effective against ticks.

On returning home you should check your person and clothing for ticks.

Prevention for dogs

Tick treatments for dogs come in various forms (e.g. spot-on, spray-on or chemically-treated collars).

These may be unsuitable for pregnant or nursing animals and should only be used on healthy animals and under the guidance of your vet. Not all pet products are safe for every type of animal and some may have side-effects. You should also be aware of their interaction with other treatments you use on your pet.

Tick-control products can work in either one or a combination of these ways:

  • Prevents ticks from being attracted to your pet – a repellent.
  • Kills the tick once it has made contact with your pet’s skin – an acaricide.
  • Reduces the risk of the tick attaching and taking a blood feed.

As some products can take a while to work after application and may kill ticks during the feeding process, it is still advisable to check your pet for ticks and to remove them.

There are a number of products licensed in the UK for tick control on companion animals:
ADVANTIX SPOT ON, CERTIFECT SPOT ON, FRONTLINE SPRAY & SPOT ON, PRAC-TIC SPOT ON, PROMERIS SPOT ON, SCALIBOR COLLARS and SERESTO COLLARS.
Please speak to you vet about which is the most appropriate method of prevention for your dog.

There are also a variety of homeopathic prevention recipes available to be found online, their suitability and effectiveness is untested.

How to check for ticks

Even the most effective preventative measures cannot guarantee that you or your dog will not become host to ticks. It is therefore important that you check both yourself and your dog thoroughly.

Tick on dog fur

Tick checking for people

Brush over clothing to remove loose ticks before going inside.

Check skin carefully all over for ticks. Pay attention to folds in the skin and other areas where a tick could hide, especially behind the knees, armpits, in the groin area and between the buttocks (a small mirror is a useful tool here). You should also inspect the hairline, neck and ears.

If a non-feeding tick is found, the best way to dispose of a tick is to place it in a tissue and squash it. Then flush the tissue away or dispose of it in the dustbin. Do not handle a tick with bare hands as certain organisms in the tick’s saliva or gut contents may enter through breaks in the skin, or the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose, or mouth if you touch them. Do not release a tick once it has been removed as it may survive to lay lots of eggs or bite another person or animal.

Tick checking for dogs

Ideally, tick checks should be performed whenever your dog has been exposed to an environment conducive to tick habitat. Stroking your pet is a good time to do a finger-tip search for smaller ticks and this can be a relaxing, bonding time between you and your pet.

When grooming, brush against, as well as with, the hair-growth to see any ticks that are close to the skin. Check all over the dogs body but pay particular attention to around and inside the ears, around the eyes, on the chin, around the muzzle, chest and between pads and toes.

If a non-feeding tick is found, the best way to dispose of a tick is to place it in a tissue and squash it. Then flush the tissue away or dispose of it in the dustbin. Do not handle a tick with bare hands as certain organisms in the tick’s saliva or gut contents may enter through breaks in the skin, or the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose, or mouth if you touch them. Do not release a tick once it has been removed as it may survive to lay lots of eggs or bite another person or animal.

How to remove feeding ticks

If you find a feeding tick on you or your dog it must be removed with care and attention. Incorrect removal may result in:

  • The mouthpart being left in the skin leading to localised infection.
  • Squeezing the tick and forcing the contents of its stomach into the hosts bloodstream, thus passing on disease causing organisms and bacteria.
  • Puncturing the tick leading to the spillage of disease causing organisms and bacteria.
  • Distressing the tick, causing it to vomit the contents of its stomach back into the hosts bloodstream.

There are many myths surrounding the removal of ticks, yet according to Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness UK only 2 can prevent the risk of incorrect removal (using fine tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool). I however believe that the tweezer technique still presents risks. Whilst most households have a set of blunt or surgical tweezers, few will have fine tipped tweezers. My worry is that on finding a feeding tick, many people would be tempted to use the blunt tweezers they have available. Also, using fine tipped tweezers is a delicate and precise operation, if you grip the wrong part of the tick or grip too tightly there is a risk of incorrect removal. I therefore do not recommend this method of removal.

The only method that I would recommend is removal using a tick removal tool. The tool that I can thoroughly recommend in the O’ Tom Tick Twister, it is simple to use and safely removes the whole tick without compression. In a comparison study of four different tick-removal devices, published in the Veterinary Record (2006, 159, 526-529), the O’Tom Tick Twister ® was compared with surgical forceps, a pen-tweezer device, and a tempered steel tool (slit and traction action). The O’Tom Tick Twister ® proved to be significantly better than the other devices for the time required to remove the tick, the ease with which the tick was grabbed, the force needed to extract the tick, the reaction of the animal, and the condition of the tick’s mouth parts.

O’ Tom Tick Twisters are available from most vets for around £5; The Way of the Dog recommend that you pay your vet a quick visit to purchase a set to keep in your 1st aid kit. I also keep a set in my car for times when we are away from home. On this visit you should also take the opportunity to enquire about suitable tick treatments and repellents for your dog.

After removal, disinfect the bite site and wash your hands and tools thoroughly.

When to seek veterinary / medical attention

If you find a feeding tick on yourself or your dog, remove it safely and do not see a rash there is no need to seek medical attention. If however you see or do any of the following you should seek the advice of your doctor/vet.

  • You do not see a feeding tick, but develop the bulls eye rash shown above.
  • You remove a tick and develop a bulls eye rash at a later date.
  • You attempt to remove a feeding tick but break it, leaving any part in your skin.
  • You attempt to remove a tick and squeeze the body.
  • You attempt to remove a tick and puncture it.
  • You attempt to remove a tick using any method other than using a tick removal tool.
  • You or your dog exhibit any of the symptoms mentioned above, under What are the risks associated with a tick bite?
  • If you are not confident to safely remove the tick yourself.

Conclusion

Ticks pose a very real risk to the health of you and your dog. With awareness, preventative actions, thorough checking and correct removal these risks can be minimised.

Please go and chat to your vet about the risks your dog is exposed to and the preventative treatments they can offer. Also pick up a set of O’ Tom Tick Twisters whilst you are there. They are the best tool for the job.

Enjoy the summer, enjoy your walks, enjoy your dog.

Contribution by Heppiness Web Design Social Media

Caring for your dog this spring

Caring for your dog this spring

Dog in spring grass

Just like many of us, dogs love the spring. It signifies the return of evening walks, weekend outings and time in the garden with the family.

But, spring brings with it a host of issues that all dog owners should be aware of. At The Way of the Dog, our articles are focused on providing dog owners with information on how best to maintain the health and wellbeing of their canine friend. In this article we will cover a few of the considerations you should make for your dog this spring.

At Home

Spring is generally a good time for a dog in the home; the windows get opened, the fresh air blows through and the house gets a spring clean. The only thing to consider here is your use and storage of cleaning products. Try to use products that you know have no effect on your dog, store them safely and securely and monitor your dog for allergic reactions to any new products used in your home (see info on allergies below).

The same rules apply if you decide to decorate any part of your home. Always consider your dog; keep him/her safe from harm, keep them away from equipment and chemicals, and keep the house ventilated.

The greatest dangers we expose our pets to in the home environment in the spring are often associated with the garden. Tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, lilies and crocus are common spring plants but they are all poisonous or irritant to dogs. Many lawn care products and fertilisers are potentially fatal to our pets.

The database of plants, foods and household items and their toxicity at www.petpoisonhelpline.com can be used to assess the risks of these items in your home. It also informs you what to do in the event of ingestion.

Out and About

Dog in the garden at spring

Spring signifies new life, new life that can be threatened by your dog’s proximity.

By law, you must control your dog so that it does not disturb or scare farm animals or wildlife. On most areas of open country and common land, known as ‘access land,’ you must keep your dog on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July and all year round near farm animals.

Take particular care that your dog doesn’t scare sheep and lambs or wander where it might disturb birds that nest on the ground and other wildlife – eggs and young will soon die without protection from their parents.

You do not have to put your dog on a lead on public paths as long as it is under close control. But as a general rule, keep your dog on a lead if you cannot rely on its obedience. If this is the case with your dog, please get in touch with us, our Dog Obedience Service can help you strengthen your dog control and recall.

Bugs, Beasties and Creepy Crawlies

Spring also sees the reemergence of all those bugs, beasties and creepy crawlies that disappear in the winter months.

  • Fleas – Fleas become more prevalent as the spring weather begins to warm. They live off the blood of animals and are a nuisance to their hosts, causing an itching sensation which in turn may result in the host attempting to remove the pest by biting, pecking, scratching, etc. Flea bites generally cause the formation of a slightly raised, swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the centre.
  • Midges – Midges pose no real health risk to your dog other than irritation. The bites of a female midge have the same effect on your dog as it does to you. Midge bites generally cause the formation of a slightly raised, swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the centre. Some dogs may have increased sensitivity to their bite and your vet can usually prescribe a anti-allergenic medicine.
  • Mosquitos – As with midges, the UK mosquito poses only the risk of irritation to your dog. Mosquito bites generally cause the formation of a raised, swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the centre. However, the European mosquito can carry heart worm. If travelling abroad you should speak to your vet about vaccination.
  • Ticks – Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of host animals for several days. They are particularly unpleasant beasties as they can carry and transit Lyme Disease to humans and pets. See our detailed article about your dog and ticks.
  • Lungworm – Lungworm are a type of parasitic worm that can affect dogs living in the heart and blood vessels that supply the lungs. Your dog cannot become directly infected by lungworm, but can become a host by eating slugs and snails.

Infestation or pestering by any of these parasites can be prevented through the regular use of preventative medication. Your vet will be able to advise you on the type and dosage required to protect your dog. If infestation has already taken place, particularly with fleas, ticks or lungworms a trip to the vet is necessary.

Allergies

Do in open access land

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies; but, unlike humans whose allergy symptoms usually involve the respiratory tract, allergies in dogs more often take the form of skin irritation or inflammation.

If your pet has allergies, it’s skin will become very itchy leading to scratching excessively, and/or biting or chewing at certain areas of the body. They may rub themselves against vertical surfaces like furniture, or may rub their face against the carpet. As the itch-scratch cycle continues, the skin will become inflamed and tender to the touch. Other signs of allergic dermatitis include areas of hair loss, open sores on the skin, and scabbing.

The best cure is to remove the allergen, soothe the symptoms and monitor your pet’s progress, but in many cases the allergen will be unknown. In this case you should consult your vet, who may recommend blood testing to find the cause and/or medication to soothe the symptoms

Warmer Weather

Some spring days can be sunny and warm, sometimes even hot. Therefore, it seems timely to remind you of the effects of this on your dog.

You dog struggles to regulate it’s own body temperature; it doesn’t sweat, it can’t take it’s coat off, it goes where you take it. It is your responsibility to ensure that it is safe from the dangers of overheating and to minimise it’s risks.

  • Water – Your dog loses the majority of its heat through panting. It transfers body heat to moisture in the respiratory system which it breathes out thus expelling the heat. Using this method, your dog will become quickly dehydrated. Always make sure that your dog has plenty of fresh, clean water available.
  • Exercise – Be careful not to over exercise your dog on a warm day as it will become at risk of overheating. If you keep throwing that ball, your dog will keep fetching it. Constantly monitor its breathing and look for signs of panting, then stop. Make sure that you have fresh, clean water available to offer your dog if you intend exercising them in warm weather.
  • Hot Cars – We all know that dogs die in hot cars, but this applies to conservatories, tents and caravans too. The temperature inside your car can quickly become double the outside temperature once the sun comes out. Once that temperature rises to a point where your dog begins to overheat, it could be dead in a matter minutes. It is a painful, horrendous death. I will write a more detailed article on the speed at which this can happen in the lead up to summer.
  • Grooming – All dogs will benefit from regular grooming to rid their coats of excessive insulation in the spring and summer, this also provides a great opportunity to check your dog for external parasites. Long haired dogs should have their coats cut frequently to help reduce the risks of overheating.

Enjoy the Spring

At The Way of the Dog, we advocate the daily exercising of your dog and spring often provides the perfect conditions for doing so. We hope that you will use the information presented in this article to make it a happier and healthy experience for your dog.

Contribution by Matthew@Heppiness

Who’s Handling Your Dog? – The National Occupational Standards for the Dog Industry

Who’s Handling Your Dog? – The National Occupational Standards for the Dog Industry

The Way of the Dog has taken on several behavioural cases where the root cause has been linked to the activities and actions of, and handling by individuals and businesses paid to take care of or train the dog.

In all of theses cases the evidence suggests a clear and worrying lack of qualification, experience, and knowledge on the part of those individuals and businesses.

From a dog owners point of view, we are unwittingly placing our trust in individuals and businesses who are working outside the limits of their own authority, accreditation, qualification, expertise and experience.

This article has been written to supply dog owners who are seeking the services of any dog based service (where your dog is handled, managed or cared for by somebody other than the dog’s owner) with the recognised minimum standards expected of the service provider.

National Occupational Standards for Dog Handlers

Why do we need standards and regulation?

Pet care in the UK is a multi-million pound industry. This has tempted many individuals to give up main stream professions in pursuit of their dream job, such as working with dogs. This has led to a rise in the various types of dog services available.

Due to a lack of regulation and no defined standards, there have been no barriers for likely entrepreneurs to cross.  On the outside such services might seem like a blessing for those in need of support and assistance; however the variation in standards and lack of regulation is a real concern.

Have you ever stopped to think about who is handling your dog and questioned their ability to do so? Are they qualified and are they adhering to any professional standards? How would you know the standards they are expected to achieve?

With the release of the National Occupational Standards for the Dog Industry, you now have the tools to address these questions.

National Occu[pational Standards

The National Occupational Standards

in the imageIn October 2014, Lantra (sponsored by Government) released the following National Occupational Standards (NOS) following consultation with organisations including the Pet Education Training and Behaviour Council, the Kennel Club, the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association, British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers, Guild of Dog Trainers, and the Cambridge Institute for Dog Behaviour and Training.

The NOS aim to promote criteria that are relevant, accurate, and considered a suitable benchmark for those working with dogs (Lantra, 2014).

In each NOS there is a list of ‘Performance Criteria’ of which the individual professional must be able to demonstrate in addition to a list of ‘Knowledge and Understanding’ that they need to essentially know and understand. The ultimate purpose of these standards is to support the primary aim of protecting the welfare of dogs and to recognise that dogs as a species require a separate NOS and not an all-encompassing approach as set out in Animal Welfare standards.

Each of the NOS documents is available to view, download and print below.

  • LANCTB1 – Observe, Assess and Respond to the Behaviour of Dogs
  • LANCTB2 – Handle and Control Dogs
  • LANCTB3 – Plan and Implement Training Programmes for Dogs
  • LANCTB4 – Plan and Implement Training Programmes for Dogs and Handlers
  • LANCTB5 – Plan and Implement Programmes to Address Undesirable Behaviour in Dogs

NOS for the Dog Industry

Who do the National Occupational Standards apply to?

The standards are relevant to all those who work professionally with dogs such as veterinary paraprofessionals, groomers, walkers and day carers, trainers and behaviourists, those providing therapies of any kind, micro chippers, and by and large anyone who works with dogs on behalf of the public.

The standards documented in LANCTB1 and 2 are aimed at every single person within the dog industry who works with or handles dogs. Any person offering or providing dog training must achieve and adhere to the standards of LANCTB1-4, whilst dog behaviourists must achieve and adhere to LANCTB1-5.

Our View

At The Way of the Dog we feel that all those that choose to work with dogs should be familiar with the National Occupational Standards and aware of the criteria relevant to their practice.

Although the NOS are not currently enforced and only serve as guidelines to those working in the industry they – at the very least – give all dog owners a standard practice of which they can expect to receive if paying for dog services of any kind whether professional or amateur.

The truth of the matter is that many individuals and businesses within the dog industry are falling short of these standards and their lack of qualification, experience and knowledge are having a detrimental effect on the well being, health and behaviour of the dogs in their care.

We would urge all dog owners to read the NOS documents linked above and use them to assess their current and future dog care, training and behaviour service providers. You should address any concerns by asking that provider how they adhere to any particular standard and be happy with their responses.

A good service provider will be happy to address your concerns and pleased that you care for your dogs well being.

Do you have questions or comments about NOS?

Do you have any questions or comments about the National Occupational Standards and their implications. Do you wish to respond to this post? If so, use the comment section below and we’ll respond with our views.

 

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