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Larry McDaniel
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We hear a lot about medical care for veterans of the military in the news these days. Some of that news is not so good, but I saw a story today about care for military working dogs that warmed my heart. I did a little digging when I got home and found some details that might interest us dog lovers. There is a special place called Holland Military Working Dog Hospital where our canine veterans get top quality care. The place is staffed by Army Veterinary Corp Doctors and they can provide any type of care these soldiers need. They... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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Wow, what a weekend we just had. We had two parties on Friday night and the Annual Black Tie Dance on Saturday night. I love living in a town where you really don't need a jacket and tie, but you do need a tux. We didn't get to bed until 3 AM on Sunday morning, but we had a lot of fun. The most fun, though, was that Miles came for a visit on Friday night. I'm sure he remembered his old home after he had a few sniffs to remind himself where he was. He immediately settled in to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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One of the great things about Face Book is that my friends send me interesting things about pets. One friend sent me a link to a Fresh Air segment about a new book on caring for older dogs entitled Good Old Dog. I went to the Fresh Air site and listened to the interview of one of the authors; Veterinary Behavior specialist Nicolas Dodman. It's definitely worth a listen and you might even want to put the book on your Christmas list. The book deals with many issues of importance for us old dog lovers. Dr Dodman reminds us that... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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There's been an interesting exchange going on over on the NY Times web site. It's in the Your Money section and the subject should be near and dear to us pet lovers. It's about the cost of caring for all our little critters. It's actually a two part series and both posts are in the top ten e-mailed for that section of the paper. That shows how interested people are in this subject. I must admit that I read the first post with bemusement. The author was writing about the high cost of pet ownership and made the comparison between... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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One of the great things about the holiday season is the chance to visit with friends and family. At least, for most of us. Some of us find the holidays stressful. We look forward to that first week in January when things return to normal. Many of our dogs and cats may be in the later category, too. They may see your in-laws or your sister's three kids as invaders bent on destroying their way of life. While that may seem extreme to some, there is little doubt that holiday stress can be a problem for many dogs and cats.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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I literally stumbled across two interesting and informative web sites devoted to behavior issues for both dogs and cats. HelpingKitty.com and HelpingFido.com are the work of two highly qualified behavior specialists. Both individuals hold Ph.D's and are Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAAB). Both sites contain helpful information on common behavior issues and provide booklets and pamphlets for more detailed information. There is even a free e-mail newsletter on training and behavior tips that looks and sounds great. I'm signing up and I'll report back on how valuable it turns out to be. You might consider signing up too. Heck, it's... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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The first three to four months is the most important period in your dog's life. That might seem like an extreme statement to some, but consider this. The most common cause of death for dogs under the age of three is euthanasia, and the reason for that is some form of behavior issue. I've written extensively on the benefits of socialization and training precisely because of this alarming statistic. Your new puppy is like a blank canvas when you bring him home, assuming the breeder did their job. If you buy a puppy directly from a breeder you can ask... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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Puppies have two speeds; on and off. They're either asleep or driving us crazy. Much like our own children, they are rarely sitting calmly beside us having substantive conversations about world events. They're puppies, after all. Our tendency is to look at their "on" behavior with detached dismay. We want to label the behavior as acceptable or unacceptable deserving of either praise or punishment. Before you're tempted to jump into the fray with a nose slap or a "scruff shake" think about "informed chillin'" instead. They're puppies, after all. "Informed Chillin'" is a behavioral term coined by Me. It's not... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is a terrible disease and we've written about it before on the blog. Way too many large breed dogs suffer from CHD and even though it's treatable with medication and surgery, most Vets and dog lovers would just as soon prevent it the first place. The only sure way to prevent it is to identify the dogs that carry the genetic material responsible and have them spayed and neutered. While we await reliable genetic screening tests to identify susceptible dogs, we do have two methods that rely on radiographic interpretation that are used to screen candidates... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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In 1960 the Veterinary profession was 98% male. Today, it's about 50/50 and in the future it will be mostly female. Since 1984 more women have been admitted to Veterinary School and more have been graduating since 1988. Right now about 80% of the current vet students are women. Why? There are standard explanations, often supplied by male Deans of Veterinary Colleges or male heads of professional associations. These sage pronunciations are routinely repeated by an incurious popular press. One of the more common explanations is that men are seeking higher paying professions and women in the profession have their... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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We've spent a couple of posts on the subject of pain. We've discussed how to recognize the signs of pain and several drugs that Veterinarians use to control pain. We are a pill popping culture, but pain relief for pets involves more than just medication. There are a number of "modalities" or different ways to manage pain that are being used successfully by Veterinarians in a more holistic response to pain management. One of them is near and dear to my heart and involves nutrition. Since arthritis is the most common source of chronic pain in both dogs and cats,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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There are several drugs available for the treatment of pain in pets. Many of them are very similar to those used in pain relief for humans. Before we get into specifics, a few general cautions are warranted. Don't try this at home! Seriously, many over the counter pain preparations are unsafe for pets. Cats in particular have different metabolic pathways for handling drugs. They don't have adequate numbers of key enzymes in their livers, for instance, to handle certain drugs. Even if these drugs are safe for cats, the dosages may be very different than for dogs or people. Never... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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Pain management is getting to be a big deal in Veterinary Medicine. In fact, it's become a very big deal in the last decade of so. There is an International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management and the American Animal Hospital Association along with the American Association of Feline Practitioners has developed a comprehensive set of pain management guidelines for Veterinarians to follow. These are great developments for dogs and cats. In the past pain in animals was viewed quite differently. Historically there was even a debate about whether animals felt pain. More recent myths about pain include the notion dogs... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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I came across an interesting nature versus nurture article the other day. This one had to do with friendliness in cats and if your cat is friendl,y a lot of it has to do with her father. According to this article, kittens with friendly fathers approach people much more readily than those with unfriendly fathers. Later, based on further evidence, they refined their thinking slightly to define the trait as "boldness" as opposed to friendliness. Turns out kittens from "friendly" fathers approach anything new and different with equal zeal be it a jack o lantern or your great aunt Martha.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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Most of you know that I'm an avid cyclist. We have four bikes, make that five now, lying around the house. Three road bikes and now two mountain bikes. The combined value of our bikes easily exceeds the combined value or our motorized vehicles. By a lot. I've got a love hate relationship with mountain biking. On one hand there is nothing more enjoyable than cruising on some sweet mountain single track like I did this summer in Wyoming and Montana. In the winter I ride almost daily up on Boston Hill overlooking our little town in the mountains of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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Apparently so, according to a recent article I saw in the NY times. The story detailed some interesting research out of England on dogs with separation anxiety. According to these authors, dogs that exhibit separation anxiety behavior suffer from an underlying negative affective state. In other words they are perpetually in a bad mood. Sounds like more than a few people I know. The research design itself was pretty interesting. These Veterinary scientists identified dogs that demonstrated what they called separation related behavior or SRB. They videotaped these dogs after they had been left in a room alone by another... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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That's the tag line for National Veterinary Technician Week and it says a lot about what Vet Techs do for our pets. I've written several posts on NAVTA ( National Association of Veterinary Technicians) and the critical role that Veterinary Technicians play in animal health. Apparently, I need to write more about Technicians because most people still don't understand the role Techs play in animal health. The best analogy I can come up with is the Nursing profession. Veterinary Technicians perform many of the same duties performed by nurses in hospital and clinic settings. They will take histories, assist with... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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Comparing pet health insurance plans can be a time consuming and confusing proposition. If you listen to each company individually they all have the best plan for the money, of course. I think they're really hoping you'll get confused and bored trying to make an apples to apples comparison and just give up and hit the purchase button. Not so with PurinaCare. They have a comparison tool front and center on their web site that compares similar policies from ten different companies to the relevant PurinaCare plan. Let me tell you something. There is no comparison. I was doing some... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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Finding the right Pet Health Insurance Plan can be vexing for many pet lovers. They can be pretty confusing and getting the right mix of coverage that you can afford can be a challenge. PurinaCare Pet Health Insurance just made that task a lot easier. Since mid summer that have added plans and added choices for existing plans that can help you afford good coverage for you pet. For starters they've added an accident only plan that is super affordable. I got a quote for Miles and at the $100 deductible level and 20% coinsurance (the amount I have to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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Nope, I'm not talking about Beau, the First Dog, or the last winner of Best in Show at Westminster. I'm not talking about the Labrador Retriever, number one in AKC registration. I could be talking about Miles, but I'm not. I'm talking about Canis latrans; the Coyote. These close cousins of our domestic dogs are undeniably the most successful wild canid on the planet. Over the last 200 years they have expanded their range to include the entire continental United States. Formerly residents of the West and Western prairies, they now live from Maine to Florida on the East coast... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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I've written in support of mandatory spay and neuter laws in the past. I know they have some problems with enforceability and they may affect less affluent people more than others. I've seen some solutions that address those issues too, but my main issue is pet health. We surely need to consider special circumstances where laws may have an adverse impact on pet health. There are well known health reasons given for spaying and neutering dogs and cats. Spayed females have zero risk for uterine cancer and a much lower risk for mammary gland cancer. They will never get pyometra... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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Not everything on TV is worthless. Granted about 98% of it is mindless electronic prozac, but occasionally I run across something interesting. It's Me or the Dog is a dog training show I can get behind. It's insightful, realistic and pretty darn funny at times. Best of all, Victoria Stillwell, the star and dog trainer, knows what she is talking about. She understands dog behavior and she practices rewards based training to get results. She helps dog lovers understand why their dogs are behaving the way they are. She also helps them understand that their reactions to certain behaviors are... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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We just got back from a month on the road with Miles. While it's great to be home, we had a great time on our travels. We stayed with friends most of the time and only spent four nights in motels. Good thing our friends are pet friendly. If we had met Amy and Rod Burkert of GoPetFriendly.com before the trip we probably would have had an easier time of it. We ran into them at Blog Paws and they are a wealth of information. They even have a cool tricked out Winnebago to travel in style. We traveled in... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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It's a cool,rainy day here in Missoula. The same storm that is keeping me from backpacking in Glacier has settled in here and I'm happy to have a roof over my head. Went to breakfast at one of my old haunts this morning and ran into an old friend. That was nice. Then it was off to the U of M bookstore to buy a new Grizz Cap. While there I perused the new books section and ran into a title that caught my attention. Through a Dog's Eyes, is the title and I was intrigued because I was hoping... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings
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Miles got into something last night. We'd just arrived in Missoula Montana to visit friends and prepare for our backpacking trip into Glacier National Park. We were out behind my friend's house walking Miles in a wetland area thinking how lucky we were to have this place close at hand. Until we got back to the house. About twenty minutes after we finished our walk, Miles developed a condition called urticaria, or hives in common parlance. He had a bit of angioedema, too. That means his face was swollen and his eyes were really puffy. Chris got very worried, of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2010 at Scratchings-and-Sniffings