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Does your dog throw up in the car when you go for rides? He may be experiencing typical motion sickness, just like some people do. Motion sickness usually begins very shortly after starting the car ride. The dog will begin to drool and then vomit. It’s not serious, but certainly not something that we like to clean up!
To solve the problem, first try acclimating the dog to car rides. Do this by simply putting him in the car for a few minutes each day without going anywhere. Then try just going down the driveway and back, and the next day going around the block. Gradually build up the distance and time the dog rides in the car. Sometimes this will help to decrease the dog’s anxiety over riding in the car and may help to decrease vomiting.
If that doesn’t work, there are some over-the-counter medications you can try. The medication will need to be given about an hour before the car ride. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation as to what drug to try and the dosage for your pet. (Never give any medications to your pet without your veterinarian’s advice!) These drugs are safe, with drowsiness usually the only major side effect. But since your dog isn’t driving the car, that shouldn’t be a problem!
If over-the-counter drugs don’t work, your veterinarian may be able to suggest another method for curing the car sickness.
We here at Bark & Co. need never debate the truth behind the phrase “Man (& Woman)’s Best Friend.” After all, we get to be reminded all day, everyday, how awesome dogs are and all of the ways in which they often make better friends than our fellow bipeds. I mean, your dog will never take your car, total it, and then omit you from their life entirely just so they don’t have to fess up to the fact that they effed up. Dogs can’t even drive. Just sayin’.
But who coined the term “Man’s Best Friend” and how far does it date back? Very good questions. Let’s do a little digging!
Argos The Unwavering
One of the very first favorable mentions of dogs in historical records or literature is an 8th Century B.C. tearjerker. In Homer’s The Odyssey (ever heard of it?), Odysseus’ notoriously badass dog Argos is the only one to recognize him upon his return from 10 years fighting in Troy and another 10 walking around all lost and stuff. Not only was Argos now over 20-years-old, but in his master’s absence he had been neglected and forgotten, relegated to sleep on a pile of manure. When Odysseus returned he was heartbroken to find what was only a shell of the dog he left behind.
Source: Get Pets
Because of the hoard of suitors moving in on his wife, Odysseus had to remain disguised as a beggar. While he was able to fool all of the people from his past, there was no fooling his beloved best friend. Argos had been waiting all of those years to see the safe return of his master and, when he finally did, he was too weak to stand. He did, however, manage to drop his ears and wag his tail. Odysseus, for fear of blowing his own cover, couldn’t even greet the one true friend he’d ever known. He let slip a single tear, entered his hall, and with that Argos died.
Dharma In The Himalayas
The Mahabharata, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of Ancient India, includes a story in which five brothers known as the Pandavas renounce all of their worldly possessions and embark on a pilgrimage across India, into the Himalayas, and onward towards Heaven on Mount Sumeru. Just as the brothers were leaving their kingdom, they were joined by a stray dog who would remain with them throughout their journey.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
The only brother to reach the peak was Yudhishthira because he was free from sin. As Yudhishthira prepared himself to enter Heaven, Indra told him he must abandon the dog. Our boy Yud refused, citing the dog’s unflinching loyalty and the value of his companionship on the journey. It turned out that the dog was actually Dharma, Yudhishthira’s godfather, in disguise. This symbolized the old adage that dharma will follow you until the end.
These stories, while amazing, were definitely not the norm. The earliest proverbs mentioning dogs did not refer to them as friendly or loyal, but rather vicious and ravenous. So when did popular opinion change and people start regarding dogs as champions of friendship and devotion?
Dogs’ popularity as companion animals began growing in the 18th Century, intensified in the 19th, and finally full-blown flourished in the 20th Century as man began to manipulate breeding to emphasize and diminish certain traits. Over time, what we once viewed as wild animals became our pals. We suspect it probably had something to do with all the hours those hardworking dogs were putting in.
Source: True West Magazine
But the first recorded instance of the phrase “man’s best friend” came from King Frederick of Prussia who in 1789 was quoted as saying “dog is man’s best friend,” apparently in reference to his beloved Italian Greyhound.
The first US citation was the sentiment’s appearance in a poem printed in the New-York Literary Journal in 1821. The most famous usage, however, and the instance which many claim coined the phrase, would have to be the heartbreaking tale of Old Drum.
Dear Old Drum
Old Drum was a black and tan Hound dog who belonged to a farmer named Charles Burden. On October 28, 1869, Old Drum wandered into a neighbor’s yard and was shot on sight. Burden heard the gunshot and called his dogs in, they all came running… all except for his favorite. He ventured next door but the neighbor, Leonidas Hornsby, denied having ever seen Old Drum. After a bit of a search, Burden found his dog lying dead and looking as though he’d been placed by the side of a creek. Enraged that he was lied to and that his best friend in the world had been killed, Burden sued Hornsby for $100 in a case that would eventually travel all the way up to the Supreme Court.
The legacy of the case is two-fold: A statue of Old Drum erected on the Johnson County Courthouse lawn and the eloquent words spoken on behalf of dogs everywhere by Burden’s attorney, George G. Vest in his closing statement, The Eulogy of the Dog:
“Gentlemen of the jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.”
“Gentlemen of the jury: A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.”
“If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.”
It is quite common for animals to experience fear and anxiety at the prospect of visiting the vet clinic.
Veterinarians refer to it affectionately as “White Coat Syndrome” and the symptoms can include increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, panting, vomiting/diarrhea, even aggression. Those of us with pets that experience White Coat Syndrome may be tempted to skip routine veterinary visits in order to spare them the stress (and ourselves the headache).
In response to this concern, some veterinary practices have dedicated themselves to going “fear-free.” Idaho based veterinarian Marty Becker, who is leading the initiative, says that vets can reduce stress for their patients by taking simple steps such as removing harsh lighting and bold colored clothing in favor of pastel colored walls, scrubs and lab coats. He also suggests keeping a wide array of treat options available to please every canine palate. More than 50 practices across the Nation have already gone “fear-free” and a certification program for veterinarians will begin later this year.
Now that we know our vets are working towards easing our dogs’ stress, what can WE do to help them feel more comfortable and make their visits go smoothly?
1. Call ahead.
The faster you can get your dog in and out of the clinic, the less his anxiety will build. Not to say that you should rush through your time with the vet. There is quite a bit more than just the exam involved in your appointment that could potentially be taken care of ahead of time.
Consider calling or stopping in a few days beforehand to discuss the topics the receptionist and technician would normally ask you about at your visit. Be ready to discuss your dog’s diet, heartworm, flea and tick meds, basic health condition and any concerns you may want addressed. Once the staff is armed with this info and aware of your pup’s anxiety they can expedite your appointment.
2. Give your dog a practice exam at home.
During the exam your vet is going to touch and handle your dog in ways that you normally don’t. For example, vets commonly examine each patient’s eyes, ears, teeth, skin and body condition. This involves bright lights, strange equipment, and up close and personal contact.
When you and your pup are relaxing or playing together, try running your hands over his body from head to toe, lifting each limb as the vet will do when palpating his joints. Peel back his lips to expose his teeth and open his mouth wide to reveal his throat. Lift up his ear flaps and peak inside or swab gently with a Q-tip. The more you attempt to do these things casually or playfully, the less terrifying it will be for your pooch come exam day.
3. Practice basic commands
“He never acts this way at home!” -If vets had a dollar for every time they heard this phrase from a client, they could all retire! Just because his manners seem to go out the window as soon as he crosses the clinic threshold doesn’t mean you have a bad dog. He’s just reacting to his fear.
Some dogs urinate or defecate, others bark frantically, some even snap at the staff. Reinforcing basic commands like “Sit”, “Stay” and “Down” gives your frightened fuzzbutt a leg up (pun intended) in the behavior department. Focusing on their commands at the office may even avert their attention from their fear and help to reduce stress.
4. Visit the office frequently, just to say “Hi!”
One of the major reasons dogs fear the veterinary clinic is simply that it is strange and unknown to them. Dogs rely on their senses of smell, hearing and sight to judge a situation. When they enter a vet hospital they smell fear, other dogs and cats, antiseptics and strange humans. They hear barking, whining, ringing phones, strange voices, etc. And they see a busy environment of people and pets unknown to them.
Inform the staff of your pet’s timid nature and ask what times are best to stop by for an informal visit. Ask that they weigh him, pet him (if aggression is not an issue) and give him his favorite treats each time you stop in. Your pooch will become accustomed to the sensory environment and learn that the vet’s office can be fun! Plus, frequent car rides can desensitize him to anxiety associated with driving.
5. Try a pheromone spray in the car and exam room.
If the drive to the office reduces your pup to a drooling, shaking, bundle of nerves, consider one of the natural pheromone sprays on the market. Adaptil makes products with Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP) that mimic the hormone released by whelping mothers to sooth their puppies.
Research has shown that these sprays, collars and diffusers can have the same calming affect on dogs throughout their lives. Pheromone products are sold and recommended by many vets.
6. Wait outside, or in the car.
One simple way to minimize your dog’s stress is to walk him around outside or keep him in the car until the technician is ready to bring you into the exam room. This allows you to spare your pooch the sights, smells and sounds of the waiting room.
Ask the receptionist to call your cell phone or wave you in when it’s time to go back. Dogs that behave aggressively at the vet should definitely avoid the waiting room.
7. Book the first appointment in the morning, or the first appointment right after lunch.
Much like doctors, vets can fall behind schedule due to unforeseen emergencies or difficult cases. Your best chances of being seen quickly and on time are the first appointment of the day or the first slot after the lunch break.
An added benefit of these time slots is that the vet may also be fresher and less stressed!
8. Bring backup.
Dogs can be a handful even when they aren’t stressed! It never hurts to bring along reinforcements. One person can walk the dog outside or sit with him in the car while the other fills out paperwork, answers questions, pays the bill, etc.
Having help will also reduce your stress level so that you can focus on your anxious pup.
9. Skip breakfast or feed them bland food.
A common response to stress in dogs is gastrointestinal upset, meaning you could end up with a mess on your hands! Call in advance and inform the staff of your dog’s sensitive stomach concerns.
They can recommend withholding food before the appointment, give you a few days worth of a prescription canned diet, or a home cooked recipe to minimize the chances of vomiting and diarrhea. For dogs with severe stress induced GI upset, the vet may even prescribe a few days of medication to reduce the symptoms.
10. Bring along a favorite treat or toy.
When I worked as a vet tech, one of my favorite patients was a high strung Golden Retriever who was very toy-motivated. All I had to do was give her a plush toy to hold in her mouth and I could draw blood, trim her nails, whatever! Even more common are treat motivated pups.
If your vet doesn’t offer your dog’s favorite snack, bring a baggie along to your visit. Give them to the staff to help them score some points and earn some trust from the patient.
11. Consider having a trainer accompany you.
If your dog’s behavior at the vet’s office is dangerous or destructive to himself or others, it may be time to bring in a professional. Lots of trainers offer to accompany you to the visit in order to assess and work with your dog at the scene of the issue.
This may seem extreme, but the safety of your pet and everyone else involved is the number one priority.
12. Be sure to stay calm yourself.
As you struggle to comfort your pet, your own anxiety levels may skyrocket. Our dogs are extremely intuitive. If they sense that we are stressed or nervous, they will likely feel that way, too.
13. Just say yes to drugs
There is nothing wrong with admitting that your dog needs help. Anxiety is a medical condition just like any other, and your pup deserves relief. If all else fails, set up a consultation with your vet to discuss the issue. He or she may recommend any number of drugs to help relieve the symptoms. There are low dose meds that can be taken daily for dogs who suffer from fear and anxiety in multiple situations. Pups whose fear only surfaces at the vet may just need a pill or two prior to their appointment in order to ease their symptoms.
With new medications, natural supplements and methods such as the Fear Free Clinic Initiative evolving daily, it may be realistic to enjoy smoother vet visits with our pups in the near future. In the mean time, give these steps a try or consult a veterinarian, trainer or behaviorist for advice tailored to your dog’s specific needs.
Every January we are bombarded with dozens of different diets, gadgets, supplements and videos that promise to make our New Year’s weight loss dreams a reality. This year, British gymnast, Louis Smith released his own patented home workout routine – with a twist. It’s been designed with the goal of whipping you and your dog into shape.
The video is aptly entitled Petsercise, and was created in response to the 2014 People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals’ (PDSA) Report on Animal Well-being in the UK. The study found that one in three UK dogs are now overweight or obese. We all know that a combination of healthy diet and frequent, consistent exercise is essential to our own wellbeing, and the same is true for our dogs. In a world where time is money, surely it pays to combine our own workout with our pets’.
Petsercise’s routines last 11 minutes and feature a squat-fetch circuit, figure eights, sprints and other tandem dog-owner maneuvers to get your mutual blood pumping. Smith is joined by two sporty pups named Titch and Gift who demonstrate what the exercises should look like (if you and your pup are doing them correctly, that is.)
Working out in the warmth and comfort of your living room is a desirable concept, especially in January. At home exercise DVDs have been increasing in sales over the past several years, thanks in part to this convenience. But the question remains- can you andyour dog really get a decent workout without setting foot out the door?
Chloe Hamilton, writer for the UK Independent gave the video a try, borrowing an adorable and endlessly energetic Jack Russell/Poodle mix named Bow for the occasion. Although Bow performed most of the exercises, she did so half-heartedly and didn’t seem to get much of a workout. Hamilton said:
I must admit, it’s a lot of fun. I’m not convinced, though, that it could replace real exercise – for me or for her.
Source: Teri Pengilley/UK Independent
So what’s the verdict? Petsercise may teach your pup some neat new tricks, and give you some quality one-on-one bonding time, but it won’t replace your sessions with the trainer or your pup’s daily walks. Sorry, folks. Looks like you’ll have to hang on to your shabby dog walking duds for the time being!
It might be the oldest game between human and dog: you toss a stick and let your buddy fetch it for you. Life doesn’t get much simpler than these pleasant moments together. Sadly, there are times this peaceful, easy game can go very wrong. And after a series of unfortunate accidents, concerned veterinarians want dog owners to know the risks of playing with sticks.
Consider Maya, the Collie in Scotland who had to go through an emergency surgery to remove a four-inch long stick that pierced her tongue and damaged her larynx.
The veterinary blog Pet Doctors observed “an alarming number of “stick injuries” coming into our clinics,” with effects ranging from cuts and bruises to serious throat damage.
Grace Webster, president of the British Veterinary Association in Scotland, spoke out on the issue:
“Throwing sticks for your dog can be dangerous and lead to horrific injuries that can be very distressing for both you and your dog, such as causing cuts to their mouths and tongues or, as in this case, getting the stick lodged in their throat. Even when the initial wound is treated, splinters of wood have often got stuck and require subsequent operations.”
You might take this with a grain of salt, or find that your first reaction is skepticism. But we’re not asking you to be scared, and nobody’s trying to nanny anybody. Bottom line is, whenever our dogs are hurting, it’s useful to know the facts, and to ask what we can do differently.
These injuries, after all, are freak injuries, usually the result of the stick getting stuck in the ground and the dog making an overeager pounce. But the potential for bad outcomes is problematic: the sticks can shatter and splinter in your dog’s soft tissues, causing lingering injuries to the mouth, chest or abdomen.
Playing with sticks could also encourage dogs to chew on them, which seems pretty innocuous, except for the splinters they may swallow and the infections that could result.
Sean Wensley, president of the British Veterinary Association, backed up Webster’s concerns. “We don’t want people to stop owners from playing and exercising with their dogs. We just want them to know they can protect their pets by using safe dog toys.”
Call me biased, but I can certainly think of some fun places to pick up some safe dog toys. And regardless of where you turn for an alternative, we can all hope for the continued health, well being, and happiness of our favorite furry buddies.