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An Introduction to Canine Hip Dysplasia

What is Hip Dysplasia?

The hip joint consists of a “ball” on the femoral bone, and a “socket” on the hip bone.
Canine hip dysplasia simply defined is when a dog’s hips do not develop normally and the ball does not fit snugly into the socket.

What Causes Hip Dysplasia?

While there is no “conclusive proof” of the cause of hip dysplasia, there are 2 general schools of thought about its cause – 1) genetic or 2) environmental

These two differing viewpoints often place the dog breeders at odds with the dog owners, causing each to blame the other for the problem.
Genetic: The puppy is born with the problem
Environmental: The puppy is too heavy resulting in excessive growth and/or over or under exercising a puppy during its growth phase resulting in developmental problems.

The most common theory is that hip dysplasia is indeed genetic. Most breeders have their breeding dogs’ hips rated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (Penn-HIP), or various other international orthopedic groups.

We could discuss the merits of both theories, but it doesn’t change the facts. If your dog has hip dysplasia, you need to deal with it. You may be deciding what to do next, or you may have already decided, and want to know what to expect.

When Does a Dog Get Hip Dysplasia?

If you subscribe to the theory that it is genetic, they are born with it. Dogs that have severe hip dysplasia often begin to have problems as puppies. Sometimes, the hip dysplasia does not cause pain for the dog, so they do not show signs of it until they develop arthritis in their hip joints. Some dogs that are not as severe can live out their entire lives with few, if any symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia?

There are a number of symptoms of hip dysplasia. Some dog owners only say that their dog didn’t walk right. Others will say they saw no symptoms at all, or just that their dog began to limp. Following is a list of common symptoms, of which your dog may have a couple and not have hip dysplasia.

Bunny Hopping: The dog tends to use both hind legs together, rather than one at a time. This occurs when the dog is running, or going up stairs.

Side Sit: Also called lazy sit, slouch or frog sit. When the dog sits, its legs are not positioned bent and close to the body. They can be loose and off to one side, or one or both legs may be straight out in front.

Sway Walk: Also called a loose walk. When the dog is walking, the back end sways back and forth because the hips are loose.

Unusual Laying Position: Legs are straight out and off to the side when the dog is laying on its stomach or legs are straight out behind the dog. (All dogs lay with their legs behind them on occasion, many dogs with hip dysplasia lay like this all the time.)

Limping: The dog may favor one hind leg or the other, and may alternate legs that it is favoring.

Quiet Puppy: Puppies who are already in pain from hip dysplasia tend to be very good puppies. They do not rough house the way that normal puppies do. They also tend to sleep for a long time after playing or going for a walk. Some owners describe their puppy with hip dysplasia as the best puppy they’ve ever had.

Dog Doesn’t Jump: Not only do they not jump on you, they seem to pull themselves up by their front end onto furniture as opposed to jumping up.

Underdeveloped Hind Quarters and Overdeveloped Chest: This is caused by the failure to use the hind legs normally and jump. The dog also may actually be shifting weight forward.

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia

The only way to diagnose hip dysplasia is with x-rays. However, I must note here that you should treat the dog and not the x-rays. Some dogs with seemingly mild hip dysplasia are in a lot of pain, while other dogs with apparent severe hip dysplasia do not display symptoms.

What Can Be Done for My Dog?

If you have had x-rays taken of your dog’s hips at your regular vet, you may have been referred to an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon is going to recommend various surgical options for your dog. I am going to give you a very brief overview of these surgeries. You will need to discuss your dog’s options with the surgeon. They will provide the details of each surgical option. Some people are able to treat their dog with nutritional supplements and avoid surgery. Ultimately, it will be your decision to determine the best treatment for your dog.

Surgical Options:

Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS) – This surgery is performed on puppies under 20 weeks of age, generally when the puppy is neutered or spayed. It shows great promise as a preventive measure, by altering the pelvic growth. This surgery has a short recovery period, but is generally done before a puppy can be diagnosed. However, once you’ve lived with hip dysplasia, it may prove to be worthwhile for a puppy considered at risk for developing hip dysplasia.

Dorsal Acetabular Rim (DAR) – This surgery consists of bone grafts being taken from other areas of the pelvis to build up the rim on the hip socket (cup). The idea is for the femoral head to have a deeper socket to fit into. It’s relatively new, so there is some question as to how a dog will do into old age – there aren’t many older dogs that have had it done.

Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO) – This surgery involves cutting the bone around the hip socket and repositioning the socket for a better fit with the femoral head. The bones are plated back together so they heal in the correct alignment. This surgery is performed on young dogs before they have finished growing.

Total Hip Replacement (THR) – This surgery consists of replacing the hip joint similar to a human hip replacement. A new cup is usually attached to the hip bone, and the femoral head is cut off the leg bone and an implant is inserted into the leg bone. This surgery is done on more mature dogs that have finished growing. Due to the size of the implants, this surgery is done on larger dogs. Previously, all artificial hip components were cemented in place. More recently, cementless hip replacements are being performed.

Femoral Head & Neck Ostectomy (FHO) – This surgery consists of removing the femoral head of the leg bone to eliminate the pain of hip dysplasia. The dog’s body will then develop scar tissue to create an artificial hip joint. Long considered only appropriate for smaller dogs or as a salvage operation for a failed THR, it has become increasingly popular for larger dogs.

Non-Surgical or Conservative Management Option
Many people choose to have surgery performed on their dog only as a last resort. Some are able to manage their dog’s hip dysplasia with supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic care, exercise and weight management. Sometimes, the puppy will show signs of pain from hip dysplasia, and once it is done growing and the muscles are fully developed, they seem to “go into remission”, developing signs of hip problems again as the dog ages. Surgical options are still available to you if the conservative path is unsuccessful.

For additional information on hip dysplasia, please visit
The American Kennel Club

Cats And Pills – Tablets.

Nearly everything alive becomes ill at some stage in its life, and pets are no exception. I have been very fortunate in that my two cats have been very healthy for most of their lives. Recently the oldest cat become ill and had to go to the vet. Unfortunately she was diagnosed with a form of cancer. The treatment options were pills or radiation ‘therapy’. The radiation therapy was very expensive so that left the pills. Pills are fine for humans, but if you have ever tried to administer pills to your cat then you would know some of the problems I have had.

I usually feed my cats on a dry ‘all in one’ biscuit diet. This diet and a supplement of fresh food has kept them very healthy for over 14years. But now I need to add pills to her diet every twelve hours. So what do I feed her that will hide the pill well enough for her to eat it without complaining? Well after some experimentation I came to the conclusion that hiding a whole pill was not the answer. Not the answer at all. Whole pills are located and removed from the food with amazing accuracy. The simple answer is to crush the pills before adding them to the food.
( Note : The pill should be added to a small quantity of food – half a normal serve or less, and that small quantity should be given to your pet BEFORE the rest of the meal. This helps to ensure your cat is hungry enough to eat the entire pill. Once the pill food is eaten you can give them the rest of the meal.)

Pills are usually quite easy to crush into powder, I use two spoons, one small teaspoon as the crusher, and a larger desert spoon to hold the pill. Place the pill into the larger spoon and using the edge of the small spoon as a blunt knife, carefully break the pill into smaller chunks. Now use the small teaspoon to gently crush the chunks into powder. In less than two minutes you should be ready to sprinkle the powdered pill onto a small serve of food. Crushing the pill gets much easier once you have done two or three.

This is how I prepare chicken or fish for my cat at pill time :

Chicken : Cooked (cold)

Cooked chicken is a favorite food of my cats so it is a good pill food for them. To make the most reliable pill hiding food from cold chicken is really quite easy. First of all you need to prepare the pill by crushing it into a powder as described above. Then you need a small serve of chicken that you can breakup into smallish pieces – use your fingers, it gives the best results. Once you have broken up the chicken add a small quantity of water to the serving plate and roll the chicken in the water until it is wet all over. Now drain the excess water from the plate – too much water will leave the pill on the plate and not on the food where it needs to be. The next step is optional, but it makes a big difference for my pets. The next step is to place the food in a microwave oven. All you want to do is VERY GENTLY warm up the food, I use about 6 SECONDS on high. What you are looking for is to remove the coldness of the food – which activates the SMELL of the food. Do not make the food hot! ( The heat could damage the pill that you are trying to feed them, and not many cats will eat hot food anyway.) Now that you have a very gently warmed serve of food it is time to add the pill. Just sprinkle the crushed pill over the wet, warm chicken and serve it up!

Note : Always add the Pill LAST!

Fish : Raw

If you want to use raw fish as a pill serving food then it pays to make sure that the cat in question likes the fish that you are going to use. ( Cats are fussy!) I have two cats, one eats fish at every opportunity, and the other will walk right past it and ask for something else..

So get a small piece of fish to test the cat with, and assuming that the fish is accepted it is easy to prepare. I use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the fish into small pieces. A sharp knife is ok but the skin on fish is very tough, so for safety and ease of preparation I use scissors. Once you have the fish cut up all you need to do is sprinkle the powdered pill over the fish and serve it up. Raw fish is usually wet and quite smelly, so it doesn’t require water to be added or the microwave to warm it up.

Fish : Cooked (cold)

To prepare a cooked cold fish you basically follow the steps outlined for cooked chicken. Prepare the pill, get a small bit of cooked fish and cut or break it up into small pieces. Make it wet, drain off the excess water and zap it in the microwave for a few seconds – do not make the food hot! Add the crushed pill to the warm wet fish and serve it up.

Note : Always add the Pill LAST!

The purpose of warming up the food is to make it smellier. Most food has a much stronger scent or smell when it is at room temperature than it does straight from the fridge.

If you need a small quantity of fresh raw fish it can usually be purchased from your local take away food shop. If you want to use cooked fish from a take away shop bear in mind that the batter or bread crumbs should be removed before it is served to the cat. (Well, it should be removed if your cat won’t eat the fish with it still on there..) Also remember to cool the fish down to about room temperature before you add the pill – otherwise the heat may damage the pill.

Never microwave any pill – it could damage the active ingredients or even make them toxic to your pet.

For those that are interested, my cats name is “Eff-Gee” ( “F”+”G” ) and she can tell the time as well if not better than I can. Every 12 hours (+ or – 30mins) she is asking me for her pill food 🙂
My other cat – that doesn’t like fish, is called “Sox”. He doesn’t really like chicken either. Actually he prefers the biscuits over most other foods – unless it is meat with chili on it. He is a nice cat 🙂

Dog Supplements

What to Look For In a Dog Supplement

The market is exploding with products claiming to improve the health and wellness of individuals using vitamins and nutritional supplements. People are now seeking the same products to complement the health of their pets. The benefits of appropriate nutritional supplements are overwhelming and can add several healthy years to your life, as well as your dogs.

Dogs Age Faster Than People

Longevity is attributed 30 percent to genetics and 70 percent to lifestyle. Up to 90 percent of diseases in dogs are due to the degenerative processes associated with aging.

Does Your Dog Act His Age?

Because dogs age seven times faster than people, major health changes occur in a short amount of time. Dogs are considered puppies for about one year, adults from age two to six, and seniors at age seven. Giant breeds, like Great Danes, age even more quickly and are considered seniors at age five. Signs of aging in dogs occur slowly, but generally begin at maturity, somewhere between age one and two.

Dr. Denham Harman’s Free Radical Theory of Aging, applies to people and pets, including dogs. This universally accepted theory states that aging is a process in which the body’s systems deteriorate faster than the body can repair them.

The changes occur due to oxidative damage caused by harmful compounds called free radicals. Free radicals are toxic, electrically unstable molecules. As we age, they are produced more quickly.

Free radicals damage your dog’s body similar to the way oxygen causes iron to rust. They are detrimental to your dog’s genetic material, his DNA and RNA, his cell membranes and enzyme systems.

Free radicals are formed each time we take a breath. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, as well as to environmental toxins, pollution, heavy metals and stress contribute to free radical formation. Your dog’s diet and drugs, such as antibiotics, are also factors.

Free radicals weaken your dog’s natural defenses and have been associated with the development of up to 90 percent of the age-related degenerative conditions we associate with aging:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Cataracts
  • Premature aging

Our life span, as well as the length of your dog’s life, is ultimately determined by how quickly free radicals cause harmful oxidative changes to occur. Therefore what you feed your dog, as well as the supplements you choose for your dog are both very important.

Help Your Dog Enjoy a Longer, Healthier Life

Your Dog’s Diet
You are what you eat, and that’s just as important for people as it is for dogs. What you feed your dog directly affects his health and wellness. The longer and more consistently you give your dog an optimally balanced diet, the greater his chances are of living a longer, healthier life.

Dogs, like people are omnivores and can naturally exist on a diet of meat, fruit and vegetables. Consult with your vet to determine the best diet for your dog. Commercial varieties worth looking into include organic, natural diets such as Prairie made by Natures Variety.

Homemade, natural diets take more time and effort but in many cases are well worth the extra effort. Vegetarian and raw food diets are another option that, with careful supervision, may provide complete and balanced nutrition for your dog.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, a Border Collie in England named Taffy, lived to the spry age of 27 eating an all-natural, organic diet.

Healthy Dog Snacks
Fruits and vegetables are healthy, low calorie snacks many pets enjoy. Those rich in antioxidants are especially beneficial for your dog:

  • Oranges
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Asparagus Tips

Oranges are rich in Vitamin C, tomatoes are filled with Lycopenes and sweet potatoes are a source of Vitamin E and Beta Carotene. Carrots and cantaloupes also provide Beta Carotene for your dog.

Antioxidant Supplements for Your Dog: Sooner Not Later
Recent research documents that antioxidants provide very bright prospects for increasing the quality and length of your dog’s life. In addition, scientists have found that sooner is better than later as far as your dog’s potential health benefits. Antioxidant supplementation started as a puppy, before free radical damage has occurred, can increase the healthy lifespan of your dog by up to 20 percent.

Antioxidant supplements, including Vitamins A, C, and E, the minerals Selenium and Zinc, and the nutrients Alpha Lipoic Acid and Coenzyme Q10, are the body’s natural defense against free radical damage. They can help to protect your dog by neutralizing free radicals and decreasing the resultant levels of oxidative damage.

Other noteworthy antioxidant supplements for your dog include:

Bioflavinoids, which help to decrease allergic reactions, asthmatic attacks and have anti-cancer benefits for your dog.

Green Tea, whose antioxidants may decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer and help protect the blood vessels nourishing your dog’s heart and brain.

Lutein, a plant pigment from marigolds, helps to protect your dog’s eyes and may reduce the risk of cataracts.

Melatonin, a potent antioxidant that acts to normalize sleep patterns. It also protects your dog’s brain and has been used successfully with cancer therapy.

The effects of antioxidants are beneficial and act synergistically for people and dog’s undergoing cancer therapy. In well controlled studies, people and pets treated with antioxidants (with or without chemotherapy and radiation) have tolerated treatments better and experienced less weight loss. More importantly, they enjoyed a better overall quality of life and lived longer than individuals receiving no supplements.

Nutritional Supplements for Your Dog’s Bones, Joints & Cartilage
Glucosamine is an amino sugar naturally produced in your dog’s body from glucose, which is your dog’s blood sugar, and the Amino Acid, Glutamine. It helps the cartilage between the joints retain water so the cartilage can act like a cushion to absorb shock and withstand compression. Glucosamine is vital to protecting the health and integrity of your dog’s bones, joints and cartilage. It helps to:

  • Decrease joint inflammation and pain
  • Promote cartilage repair
  • Aid healing of damaged joints
  • Increase mobility in dogs with arthritis and hip dysplasia

Glucosamine is also a normal component of the urinary bladder in dog’s and cat’s and may help to relieve urinary disorders.

MSM (methyl-sulfonyl-methane) is a natural source of sulfur that works along with Glucosamine to help protect the health and integrity of your dog’s bones, joints and cartilage.

Essential Fatty Acid Supplements for Your Dog
Essential Fatty Acids are vital to life and support all bodily functions in your dog. They help to keep cell membranes soft and pliable, so your pet’s cells can absorb dietary nutrients. They enhance your dog’s skin and hair coat and are needed for the normal development of the nervous system and brain.

Fatty Acids are vital to brain health and help to preserve mental clarity. They decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in dogs, cats and people. Fatty Acids may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, as well as provide therapeutic effects in your dog for:

  • Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cancer therapy
  • Kidney disorders

Flea allergies, food intolerances and bacterial skin infections can often be relieved by providing your dog with fatty acid supplements.

The proper balance of Fatty Acids helps to reduce wear and tear on your dog’s body by decreasing stress triggered increases in cholesterol and the stress hormone Cortisol. Research indicates that the ratio of 5:1 of Omega 6 to Omega 3 Fatty Acids seems to provide the greatest clinical benefits, surpassing that of any individual Fatty Acid alone.

Amino Acid Supplements for Your Dog
Glutamine is the most abundant Amino Acid in the body. It is the major energy source for the cells that line the digestive system and strengthens your dog’s natural defense system known as the immune system.

Glutamine promotes healing of the digestive system thereby reducing bowel disorders. It spares protein and reduces muscle loss during periods of injury, stress and high endurance activities. Therefore it is especially beneficial for pets recovering from trauma and for working and show dogs.

Glutamine also has many anti-aging effects. It helps to preserve memory and to prevent the harmful effects of Cortisol, the hormone that is responsible for accelerating the aging process in people and in your dog.

Digestive Enzyme Supplements for Your Dog
Digestive Enzymes are produced by the salivary glands, stomach, pancreas and liver and are released into the digestive tract. Enzymes help your dog’s body to breakdown proteins, fats and carbohydrates in his food so they can be absorbed and utilized.

Your dog’s production of enzymes naturally decreases with increasing age. Illnesses, stress, food intolerances, allergies and drugs like antibiotics also have a negative affect on enzyme production and function. This can result in a variety of digestive disturbances ranging from flatulence and gas to diarrhea, life threatening dehydration and malnutrition.

Digestive Enzymes are vital to maintain your dog’s overall health. They improve the efficiency of digestion so your pet’s body can utilize the nutrients essential for energy production and ultimately for life itself.

They help the body to recover from disease and promote restoration of good health in your dog. Enzymes are useful to reduce pain and swelling after exercise or trauma and help speed up recovery rates. Enzymes support your dog’s immune system thereby enhancing his ability to ward off disease and infection. They have been also been used effectively in cancer therapy for people and pets.

Papain is an enzyme that has aspirin-like effects to decrease swollen, painful inflamed tissues in your dog. Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple stems that inhibits the spread of lung cancer in mice.

Digestive Enzyme supplements may be beneficial in dogs with digestive problems, immune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis, cancer and a variety of bowel disorders. They are especially useful in older dogs with reduced digestive ability.

The Anti-Aging “A” Supplement List For Your Dog:

  • Vitamin A/Beta Carotene: Antioxidant enhances immunity, essential for your dog to utilize protein in his diet
  • Vitamin C: Antioxidant, needed for tissue growth and repair, enhances immunity, needed for your dog’s body to utilize Vitamin E.
  • Vitamin E: Antioxidant, prevents heart disease, promotes wound healing, needed for your dog’s body to utilize Vitamin C.
  • B-Complex Vitamins: As a group, B vitamins help your dog to maintain healthy nerves, skin and muscle.
  • Coenzyme Q-10: A powerful, newly discovered antioxidant. Essential for immune function, beneficial in heart disease and gum/dental disease for your dog.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid: Antioxidant. Helps your dog to restore energy metabolism.
  • Selenium: Antioxidant. Works with Vitamin E to help your dog fight infection. Beneficial to dog’s skin and hair coats. Deficiencies linked to cancer and heart disease.
  • Zinc: Essential mineral your dog needs for protein synthesis, promotes healthy immune system, aids wound healing. Critical for hundreds of biological processes in the body.
  • Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids: Essential component of cell membranes in your dog and is needed for healthy heart, brain function and skin and hair coats.
  • Bioflavinoids: Enhances absorption of Vitamin C, has antioxidant effects and promotes normal blood circulation for your dog.
  • Glucosamine and MSM: Promotes normal healthy bones, joints and cartilage for your dog.
  • Digestive Enzymes: Essential for your dog to utilize and absorb nutrients from his/her diet.
  • Melatonin: Immune modulator, antioxidant, triggers restful sleep for your dog.
  • Ginseng: A metabolic tonic to promote brain health and overall wellness for your dog.
  • L-Glutamine: Amino acid needed for your dog to energize the cells of his digestive system so dietary nutrients can be properly absorbed and utilized.
  • Colostrum: The first milk your puppy receives from his mother. Provides your dog with antibodies to protect him against disease and aid immune function.
  • Exercise: 20 minutes twice a day minimum for your dog.
  • Balanced, natural diet: Feed your dog at least two meals daily. Fresh organic and natural sources are best.
  • Relaxation: Stress and anxiety affect pets and people adversely. Set aside an hour a day to relax and enjoy your dog. Consider massage, yoga and music.
  • Positive mental attitude: The mind-body connection is a potent promoter of well-being for you and your dog.
  • Pure water: Fresh, non-chlorinated water is essential for people and for your dog.

Horse Shopping Is Easier If You Do This First

horse lovers
horse lovers

Top 10 Things to do BEFORE you go horse shopping

Buying a horse is a big commitment in both time and money. The emotional energy spent is a large factor as well. With so many horses for sale, how do you choose?

If you buy a horse before you lay the correct groundwork, you run the risk of coming home with one that isn’t suitable for you. At the worst, he could be dangerous and at best, you could easily spend a thousand dollars or more to get professional trainer to correct the problems.

Make a plan before you look at horses for sale and do these 10 basic steps first.

1. Take riding lessons for at least six months.

Horse riding lessons will teach you the basics of control and the foundation for correct horsemanship. In addition to learning to ride a horse, you’ll also learn how to safely groom and handle one. You’ll establish a relationship with a professional horse person in your area who knows you and who you can turn to for help if you need it.

2. Decide on the type of riding you want to do.

There are many types of horse riding styles. The most basic are Western or English. Then you can break down those two styles into many subcategories. You don’t have to make one choice exclusive of all others. Many people enjoy riding both styles and compete in both.

Decide if you want a horse to trail ride and just enjoy having him or if you want to be competitive and show.

3. Horse’s personality

The type of personality you want for your horse depends a lot on the type of riding you want to do and also your personality. Some riders want a horse with a big engine and a lot of fire. Others like a horse to be quiet and laid back.

It’s usually easier to get the laid back one to rev his engine than to get a hot horse to relax.

4. Decide on what breed of horse you most want.

Horse Shopping
Horse Shopping

Once you’ve decided on the type of riding you’re interested in and the type of personality you want your horse to have, the breed choice will become easier. Some breeds are associated with certain types of riding. For instance, a Thoroughbred or Warmblood breed are usually thought of for the Hunter/Jumper circuit or dressage. In the past, the Quarter Horse, Appaloosas and Paints were thought of for Western riding. Today, these breeds can successfully compete at all levels with the more traditional hunter type horse.

If you want a very smooth ride, look at the gaited breeds such as Missouri Foxtrotters, Tennessee Walkers or Paso Finos.

5. Decide on how big a horse you need.

If you’re looking for a horse for a child, buy a pony that your child can groom and handle now. A too big horse is intimidating for a young child to deal with.

If you’re looking for one for yourself, consider the type of riding you want to do. Western styles of riding do not require a large horse and most of the stock type horses can carry a large adult even if the horse is 15 hands or smaller.

If you want to show in hunter/jumper classes, a 16+ hand horse is necessary to be competitive. However, if your plans are to learn to jump and go to small local shows, you’ll save money by buying a smaller horse.

6. Decide on the gender of the horse.

A gelding or a mare should be your only consideration. A stallion is difficult to handle and can be downright dangerous even if you are a very experienced rider. He isn’t suitable unless you’re in the breeding business.

Geldings make great riding horses and companions. Preferably he was gelded before his second birthday so that he never learned stallion behavior.

Mares sometimes get a bad rap for being difficult every time she comes into heat. Perhaps some are, but there are many wonderful mares with very stable personalities.

7. Decide where you will keep your horse.

If you plan to board, check out several boarding stables. Your first choice is probably the barn where you’ve been taking riding lessons. Look at some others to have for back-up choices and as a general comparison.

If you plan to keep your horse on your own property, be sure to have safe fencing, a solid barn and know your time schedule will allow you to feed your horse at least twice a day – every day – rain or shine. Find out any local and state liability laws for a horse property before you bring your new horse home.

8. Figure how much you can afford for the initial price of a horse.

The original purchase price of a horse is a large upfront expense. Obviously, the more you can afford to spend on a horse, the more choices you’ll have to look at when shopping. If you have this money saved up in advance, you’ll have better leverage with a seller. If you have to buy your horse on payments, you’ll limit your bargaining power and choices because many sellers won’t want to take payments.

9. Figure out your monthly expenses.

Monthly expenses include board, lessons and supplements if you keep your horse at a boarding stable. If you keep your horse at home, you’ll be buying feed, hay and stall bedding instead of a board bill.

There are reoccurring expenses that don’t come every month but still need to be added up for a year’s cost and averaged as a monthly expense. These include farrier visits, worming, vaccinations and vet care such as floating teeth and a yearly Coggins test.

10. Tack and Supplies

Purchase the basic supplies before you get your horse so that you’ll be all set when you bring him home. Brushes, shampoo, liniment, leg wraps, buckets and a first aid kit are a good start on supplies to have ready.

An all purpose headstall and a few bits, saddle pads, a saddle, halter and a long lead rope with a stout snap are your basic tack supplies.

If you follow these 10 steps before you begin horse shopping, you’ll have a clear idea of the horse that will be the best choice for you when you do begin your search.

Is Dental Care Important For Your Dog?

If only we could get our pets to brush their teeth regularly! Well you know that can’t happen . . . but we can help our dogs take care of their teeth and gums. They don’t, of course, realize how important dental care is to their health (and maybe you didn’t realize it either).

Following are some facts about dental problems that may either be causing your dog discomfort right now or might soon affect your dog’s health; we’ll also give you some tips on treating those problems.

Gingivitis: Gingivitis is a gum disease that occurs when gum tissue becomes inflamed. If not treated, gingivitis will lead to periodontitis (described below); if it is not treated, gingivitis will cause your dog to start loosing teeth.

Periodontitis: Periodontitis is an advanced gum disease that attacks not only the gums but also the bones that underlie the gums. Commonly called periodontal disease, this is the most common dental problem for dogs. Even relatively young dogs may have Periodontitis or the earlier-stage gum disease, gingivitis.

Imagine a year or two of buildup on your dogs teeth — buildup of plaque, food particles and bacteria. If your dog has gum disease you may not have to imagine it, you will probably be able to see a near-white substance coating the teeth and gums — that’s the result of the bacteria.

Tooth fractures: Dogs love to gnaw on things like bones and when they do they might develop small breaks -fractures of their teeth. Endodontic disease is the name for infections that develop inside these fractures.

Preventing the problems mentioned above is as simple as keeping your dog’s teeth clean. Clean teeth means less bacteria and less bacteria means less disease . . . and the extra bonus of no more ‘doggie-breath.’

Brushing your dog’s teeth. The best way to keep your dog’s teeth clean is by brushing them every day. That may sound like an impossible task but its really not. Over time, if you approach it slowly and lovingly, your dog will accept tooth brushing as an enjoyable daily activity.

Important: If you think that your dog has gum disease or fractured teeth take the dog to a vet to have the condition treated and cleared up before you try brushing the teeth yourself. If the dog has diseased gums, any attempt at tooth brushing may be painful and from then on the dog will associate tooth brushing with pain.

Ideally, you should start brushing a dogs teeth when its a puppy. As a puppy this will be more of a game than a threat and, over time, it will turn into an activity the puppy loves.

If your dog is older and has healthy looking teeth and gums, introduce it to a tooth brush by coating an old toothbrush with something the dog likes to taste; one suggestion is a paste made out of garlic salt and water. Let the dog lick it and even chew on it for just a second. The next day, the dog will recognize the tooth brush in your hand and come running over for another “treat.” Gradually work your way into brushing it’s teeth like that, day-by-day.

Eventually you’ll need to get a toothbrush and toothpaste that is made specifically for pets; you’ll find both in any good pet supply store. It is especially important to find toothpaste that is made for pets; don’t try to use toothpaste made for people. Human toothpaste isn’t intended for ingestion and since your dog can’t ‘spit it out’ you need to get a toothpaste that won’t make the dog sick when some amount is swallowed.

There are two types of pet toothbrushes, one looks like a human toothbrush that is designed to brush a small child’s teeth and the other is a finger brush. A finger brush looks like a large thimble with a pad or bristles mounted on it. Both types of toothbrush are fairly inexpensive so you may want to purchase one of each and see which one works best for you. Either way, as long as the toothpaste tastes good to your dog, it won’t mind you ‘messing around’ in it’s mouth and, eventually, it will even look forward to the daily ritual.

Have your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned. If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to or you can’t brush your dogs teeth yourself, take it to a veterinarian and have the vet give the dog’s teeth a professional cleaning. The vet will sedate your dog and do all the necessary scraping and cleaning of the teeth while the dog is sleeping.

Give your dog a checkup. Its a great idea to give your dog’s mouth a regular checkup. You’ll be looking for any broken, chipped or cracked teeth or any signs that the gums are not healthy. If you see any problems, get the dog to a veterinarian as soon as you can.

Protect your dog’s teeth. Sometimes dogs need to be protected from themselves. A dog will chew on anything and the really hard things like some bones, rocks and other very hard items may eventually crack or break the dog’s teeth. Get rid of the hard stuff and buy your dog some softer chew toys.

Buy some mouthwash for your dog. Nope! Not kidding! There are mouthwash products for dogs and just ignore that mental picture of trying to get your dog to gargle. You just add some of the mouthwash to your dog’s water dish and the mouthwash will not only improve your dog’s breath, it will keep the do’s teeth clean and free of tarter.

As you can see, dogs have dental problems that are very similar to human dental problems and they benefit from dental care just like we do. For all the products suggested here for your dog’s dental care, ask your veterinarian for his or her recommendations on the best products to use. Your vet is your dog’s doctor and should be trusted like you trust your own doctor.

Tips For Taking A Road Trip With Your Dog

Vehicles: With the possible exception of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a side car, I’ve seen practically every type of vehicle used for taking the family pooch on a road trip.

Below I review three of the best:

1.) Tom Rose of High Ridge, Missouri, had a Ford van he converted into a dog-friendly transport vehicle. By enclosing the back area, installing custom upholstery and a special air conditioning vent, he created an area in the back of the van where his dogs could ride in their crates and still stay cool.

The best thing about this set up was that on hot summer days, he could leave the diesel engine running (and the air conditioning too) and leave the dogs in the van for an hour or two, without the threat of overheating.

2.) If you’re travelling in an area with less extreme weather (like Los Angeles)… a pick up truck with a shell on the back is extremely convenient. I’ve installed sliding windows on mine, and put in hardware mesh so that the dogs cannot jump out, and nobody can get in. A light colored, fiberglass shell with cross-ventilating windows will keep the temperature in the back of the truck about equal to the outside ambient temperature in the shade.

If you don’t like to keep your dog in a crate, you can purchase a rubber bed liner that will make it comfortable for your dog to lay on. These usually run about $50, and can be purchased at the same places that install camper shells.

3.) A convertible Jeep. For obvious reasons, the Jeep Wrangler (designed originally for military use) is easy to clean after long trips, and the convertible nature of this vehicle allows you to leave your dog in the back while refueling or running into a gas station rest room, without worrying about your dog over-heating.

Products you can use to help keep dog mess in your vehicle to a minimum I came across this web site by a company called, Black Armor. Their web site is: http://www.black-armor.com/

You’ll find a number of products designed to protect the interior of your Car, Truck, or Sport Utility Vehicle from spills, stains, as well as premature wear. Many of these products:

– install and remove easily
– are unaffected by gasoline or oil
– clean and wipe easily
– are made of a tough, durable material that is non-skid to minimize the possibility of your dog getting tossed around.
– are guaranteed for a lifetime
– are made in the U.S.A.

You’ll also find that most are custom fit to the exact dimensions of your vehicle.

A gear bag to keep water, training equipment, and other dog related stuff is essential.

A Dog’s Life Web Site sells a nice product called the “Rollover Travel Pack & Bed For Dogs”. The pack is described as:

“- Perfect for on-the-go dogs and their owners, the ROLLOVER® Travel Pack & Bed for dogs has a snap-on shoulder strap and built-in handle for easy carrying. The reinforced nylon pack-cloth construction will hold up over the long haul.

– Unbuckle the compact unit, and it unrolls to rugged storage pockets for everything your traveling dog will need– including dog food, water bottle, dog bowl and other necessities. Dogs can easily get dehydrated when traveling. Now the dogs water and bowl can always be in easy reach. And the insulating cushions inside the product keep your dogs cold water bottle cold longer, even on hot, sunny days.

– Fully opened, the ROLLOVER Travel Pack & Bed for dogs becomes a cushioned, fleece-topped travel dog bed with a water-resistant base for indoor & outdoor use. The thick polyester cushions also provide superior insulating qualities to keep dogs comfy, no matter what your destination.

– Now you’ve got a convenient way to help your dog feel “at home” with familiar things they can call their own.

– And at the end of the journey, the ROLLOVER Travel Pack & Bed for dogs is completely machine washable and dryable for easy care. Unlike other dog beds, the entire bed gets cleaned, not just the cover.

– Available in Small, Medium, Large and X-Large– comfortably sized to fit most dog breeds.”

(Check out their web site… they include a picture!)

Don’t forget to include a first aid kit for your dog, too!

Here’s a cool product for anyone who does a lot of outdoor camping/travelling with their dog: A first aid kit designed for both you AND your dog!

Called, “America’s first pet owner and pet first aid kit!” This don’t-leave-home-without-it product costs $32.95 and includes:

1 Blue clean-up mitt

1 First aid scissors, blunt tips

1 First aid forceps

1 Sterile eye wash (.5 oz)

2 Triple antibiotic ointment (1/32 oz)

2 After bite wipes (insect)

1 Adhesive tape (1 x 1 yd)

6 Gauze pads (2 x 2)

1 Self adherent bandage (3 x 5)

5 Cotton balls

4 Cotton swabs (3″)

1 Instant cold pack

1 Styptic pencil

1 Pair Latex gloves

1 Animal First Aid Guide

1 Human First Aid Guide

Additional Resources:

Travel Dog.com – http://www.traveldog.com/TD1999/resource/resour~1.htm

This site has a bunch of good resources you should read before embarking on your trip, including articles on choosing a kennel, travelling by car, and staying at a hotel with your pet. The site also has a number of resources for finding dog friendly beaches, camp grounds, events, kennels, parks, pet sitters, and pet transportation.

If you’re looking to purchase a wire cage for travelling with your pet, Foster’s and Smith have a variety for sale, and their return policy (if you don’t like it) is excellent!

If you’re looking to purchase a plastic crate, you can also find them at:

Bringing a crate with you is practically a necessity if you’re going to be on a long road trip.

That’s all for now, folks!
Adam

The Top 3 Canine Behavior Problems and How to Solve Them – Part 2

In part one of this 3-part instructional we pointed out that some canine behaviors are ingrained, while others are learned. We also highlighted successful ways to control excessive barking. In part 2 we will deal with effective techniques to stop biting.

Canine Behavior Problems: Biting

According to the U.S. Disease Control Center in Atlanta, Georgia, about 1,000,000 people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year. The majority of victims are children between the ages of 5 and 8; in most cases, the biting dogs were house pets.

Dogs bite for a variety of reasons. Dogs may bite or display threatening behavior when they are angry, afraid, agitated, over-excited, or when challenged or seeking to protect.

The first thing to do when confronted with biting dogs is to discern “why” the dog behaved aggressively. If the dog was being teased or felt threatened, the problem may not be with the dog. Instead, fault may lie with whomever or whatever teased him or made him feel threatened.

Some dogs bite or snap at their caregiver’s hands when the caregiver tries to take something away from them. According to Barbara Woodhouse, internationally known dog trainer, canine behavior expert, and author of Barbara Woodhouse’s Encyclopedia of Dogs & Puppies, the best cure for such aggressive behavior is to “return violence with violence.”

Effective Ways to Stop Biting Dogs

When the dog attempts to bite, the caregiver should act swiftly by suspending the dog off his front legs by his choke chain; at the same time, scold in a violent tone of voice, “No bite!” The dog should be allowed back on his front legs only after he shows signs of discomfort (usually within 10 seconds). Once subdued; caress and praise him.

This process should be repeated every time the dog attempts to bite; he must be forced to respect your authority. While this type correction may sound cruel, it is not. Curing the dog of biting using this means is much kinder than having the dog sentenced to death in the gas chamber because of injuries inflicted on someone he bit.

Inexperienced caregivers may have a difficult time correcting their dog this way; if that is the case, the help of an expert dog trainer should be sought.

Preventing Aggressive Behavior in Dogs that Leads to Biting

Some dogs are so naturally protective of their owner they attack anyone who approaches, without being given a command. This can be quite dangerous. Allowing a dog to lunge toward people could very well lead to other aggressive behaviors, such as biting.

One of the best methods to prevent this type aggressive behavior in dogs is to take the dog among crowds – muzzled if necessary. Get people to touch him (muzzled), and give him a sound scolding if he attempts to attack.

Another effective method is to get someone who trains dogs to snatch him from you and really shake him (by his choke chain) when he shows signs of vicious behavior. He must be defeated, and then praised for submitting.

What About Puppies that Bite?

Puppies are notorious for biting and nipping during play. One mistake people often make with puppies that bite is to let them get away with it. Caregivers often think such behavior is cute and believe the puppy will naturally grow out of it without intervention. The reality is that such “innocent” biting and nipping can become a learned bad habit, difficult to break once the puppy is older.

Caregivers should address nipping and biting early on, instead of waiting until the puppy has grown and the problem more difficult to correct. Puppies are not like children; they are growing dogs. And dogs need training and an understanding but firm, consistent hand to teach them what is acceptable and what is not. Correction methods for young puppies that bite are different than methods for grown dogs.

How to Handle Aggressive Behavior in Puppies

When a puppy bites hard enough to hurt he must be corrected firmly. Say “No bite!” in a firm tone. If that doesn’t work, use what is called “the shakedown method,” which resembles what the mother dog does to her pup to keep order in the litter. Shake the puppy by catching hold of the loose skin of its neck on both sides under the ears. Repeat “No bite!”

Correcting aggressive behavior in puppies older than 12 weeks is done the following way: grab the puppy by the scruff of the neck with both hands, and lift him off his front feet, if necessary. Make the puppy look you straight in the face, and repeat “No bite!” If you sound angry enough, the puppy will understand.

This correction method must be consistent. If you permit a puppy to bite one time, but get annoyed and correct him the next, the puppy will become confused and will not learn effectively.

Puppies are especially likely to bite or nip children who play with them either for too long a period, or are too rough with them. When a puppy shows signs of being tired of being “mauled” during play, it is time to let the puppy rest. Put the puppy away in his box or pen, and instruct others to leave him alone and let him rest.

Under no circumstances slap a puppy or dog’s nose to discipline him; this is cruel, as well as ineffective. And always give plenty of love and praise for submissive behavior after correction has been administered.

At Savvy Dog Lover, we care about you and your pet. In part 3 of this 3-part instructional we discuss the problem of jumping. Read part 3, “How to Prevent Dogs and Puppies from Jumping up on People” at Savvy Dog Lover, www.savvy-dog-lovers.com.

©2006 Lori S. Anton
Savvy Dog Lover editor

About Saltwater Aquarium Fish! – Beautiful…

Saltwater aquarium fish are amongst the most beautiful of animals to be found anywhere in the world. A variety of saltwater aquarium fish can be housed in your marine tank provided you know what they need in terms of care, such as feeding, environment, competitors and space to grow.

Any marine enthusiast will tell you that setting up a marine tank is tricky and so is choosing the right saltwater aquarium fish! This is because it’s easy to make mistakes with the kinds of fish you choose. It’s usually best to start your marine tank with a few hardy and affordable fish. The majority of saltwater aquarium fish are collected from nature rather than captive raised so don’t waste that gift by making mistakes that result in the death of your fish.

Damsels are a great saltwater aquarium fish to start off with. Damsels are hardy little creatures and can survive in poorer water conditions than many other marine species. They are not fussy about their food and won’t cost you the earth. Unfortunately damsels are also quite aggressive. You can easily keep one or two of these tough saltwater aquarium fish in a tank but don’t try any more than that.

Its best to start with damsels and then add more aggressive fish later, If you want to house saltwater aquarium fish that are more shy, you need to take your damsels out before adding more timid varieties of saltwater aquarium fish. Blue and yellow damsels are two species that are less aggressive than others.

Mollies are an alternative starter saltwater aquarium fish. Mollies that are used to salt water allow you to start with cheaper fish while you learn how to make sure the salinity of your tank is correct for more sensitive creatures. On the other hand mollies are raised and bred in captivity so you won’t get much real experience in keeping them. Get them used to the tank by allowing saltwater to drip into the bag for about 6-8 hours. When the bag becomes full remove some water. After the tank cycles you can keep the fish in the tank.

Clownfish are cousins to damsel fish and are a fairly hardy saltwater aquarium fish. They are not that easy to acclimate to a marine tank, though. They are also quite territorial but aren’t likely to be aggressive to other species. They don’t have to have an anemone to survive. If you do get one bear in mind that they need water that is very clean and high quality lighting.

Blennies or gobies are fairly hardy and small and shouldn’t be a problem for the other saltwater aquarium fish in the tank. They are character fish but they are small and so might get lost in very big tanks with bigger saltwater aquarium fish. They are a good choice to help control algae but if you have a fish only tank they may not be easy to keep fed.

Tangs are a hardy saltwater aquarium fish which are a little sensitive and tend to contract marine ich (also know as “White Spot”). They eat algae so as soon as you grow some you might try to introduce some tangs.

Triggerfish or lionfish are an ideal saltwater aquarium fish for a tank which will eventually contain large aggressive fish. However they can be costly if you make mistakes. It might be a good idea to ‘practice’ on fish that are both cheaper and easier. You will need to feed them lots of shell fish and other sea creatures to keep them healthy.

Angels and butterflies are very sensitive and difficult saltwater aquarium fish to keep. They need special diets most of the time so they are not that easy to care for in a tank. The same goes for batfish.

Once you gain more experience in keeping conditions in your tank stable you can add a few other varieties of fish. Choose from hawkfishes, grammas, dottybacks, basslets and wrasses. But make sure to find out about how to take care of them properly because some are not as easy as others. However they are a much easier bet that angels and butterflies.

So which saltwater aquarium fish should beginners avoid? You should not attempt angelfish, butterfly fish, pipefish, seahorses, long-nosed filefish, blue ribbon eels, stonefish, and Moorish Idols as well as mandarin fish until you really know what you are doing.

What about invertebrates? Contrary to popular belief invertebrates are well suited for mini or micro-reef tanks. Many invertebrates do well in non-reef tanks. For the novice aquarist the hardy species are best. These include shrimps like the cleaner shrimp, blood shrimp or peppermint shrimp and coral banded shrimp. As is the case with saltwater aquarium fish, stick to the hardier shrimps to begin with.

Anemone crabs are another option you might try along with your saltwater aquarium fish. And why not add some sea urchins and starfish which are quite well suited to beginners with a couple of month’s experience? They differ in size, shape and color and some are poisonous so be careful! Sea urchins and starfish eat detritus and algae and other small bits of food so they will help to keep your tank clean and your saltwater aquarium fish healthy.

Anemones are not really suited for beginners. They need special lighting and top-notch water conditions so if you can’t foot the bill for the lights stay away or you’ll live to regret it. Invertebrates you should avoid include tridacna clams, flame scallops, Octopi, Nudibranchs, or any hard or soft coral and sea squirts. Like the saltwater aquarium fish listed previously these invertebrates have special feeding and living requirements.

When you choose saltwater aquarium fish, you need to bear in mind that they are a bit more expensive then the freshwater varieties. For this reason you should take care with them and try to keep them alive. When fish are captured and moved from the store to your home they are liable to get stressed, especially since most of them have been taken from the ocean mere days ago. So make sure you can properly care for your new friends before you bring them home!

Do You Build Or Buy A Saltwater Aquarium?

Haven’t decided whether to build or buy a saltwater aquarium? For most people buying a ready-made aquarium is by far the easier option. But if you’re handy with tools and construction you might be thinking of building your own tank. This chapter will provide you with do-it-yourself instructions on how to build a 55 gallon glass aquarium to house your marine life. Ultimately it is for you to decide whether you want to build or buy a saltwater aquarium. If you are more comfortable with a bought tank, by all means, get one!

Building a tank from scratch is challenging and not for beginners unless you have plenty of patience and are willing to ask for help. However using the materials list, step-by-step instructions and advice provided here you can build your very own glass aquarium. Whether you build or buy a saltwater aquarium you will find the setup fun and rewarding. However having built your own special tank is doubly satisfying.

Before you get started you need to know a thing or two about working with glass. The tank you are going to build is 14 inches high with ¼ inch glass panels. If you want to make a bigger saltwater aquarium you will need to learn how to calculate the correct thickness of glass for the size of the tank. If you haven’t decided whether to build or buy a saltwater aquarium you might want to consider how comfortable you are working with glass.

Whether you build or buy a saltwater aquarium, the first thing to do is to draw up a plan or schematic of the kind of saltwater aquarium you want. Make sure that all your measurements are correct so that the tank fits together properly. This aquarium is built with the two end panels fitted inside the back and front panes.

The front, back and side panels are set on top of the aquarium floor. If you don’t know how to cut glass you can ask the professionals to do it for you. If you build or buy a saltwater aquarium you need to understand how the glass is fitted together as this has a lot to do with the stability of the tank.

Whether you decide to build or buy a saltwater aquarium you will probably be making use of a lighted hood. When you draw up your plans you must include the hood. You should never place solid glass on the aquarium top as this reduces the gas exchange that occurs at the surface. If this happens your aquarium will not get enough aeration and the health of the tank will suffer.

So what materials will you need to build a saltwater aquarium? Whether you build or buy a saltwater aquarium you will need to purchase all the necessary materials that go into making a good marine setup. To build a 55 gallon aquarium you will need the following:

* 1 glass panel for the tank bottom
* 1 front, 1 back, and 2 end pieces of glass
* Single edged razor blades.
* Acetone.
* Non-toxic 100% silicone sealant. (All-Glass® Brand 100% Silicone Sealant)
* Roll of paper towels.
* Washable felt tip marker.
* Roll of duct tape.
* Emery cloth or silicone carbide sandpaper.

Whether you choose to build or buy a saltwater aquarium you should choose the biggest one that fits into your home. If your tank is bigger than 30 gallons in size you might want to install a support brace at the tank’s center. Do this by cutting a six inch wide piece of glass that will fit to the outside edges of the front and back panels. Use silicone to position it in place.

Next you will prepare the glass panes. Use an emery cloth or silicone carbide sandpaper to smooth the edges of the glass. Clean the glass pane joints and edges at ½ inch inward using acetone. Prepare the duct tape by cutting 16 strips of tape, 5 inches long. Place these nearby. Always be careful when handling glass. This is true whether you build or buy a saltwater aquarium

Place your pieces on the floor or table in the correct order for assembly. If need be, mark them with words or arrows so you don’t lose track. Place the bottom panel on a flat non-scratch surface. Stick 8 pieces of tape to the glass on the bottom side (sticky side up). If you decide to build or buy a saltwater aquarium always take care not to scratch the glass.

Now install the front glass piece. Next fold the two bottom pieces of tape upward and stick them to the glass. Now you are ready to install the first side panel by folding the 2 bottom duct tapes upward and sticking them to the front of the glass. Secure the side piece to the front piece of glass with 2 strips of tape.

Next install the other side piece, and the back panel. Once the tank has been built use silicone to seal the eight joint areas on the inside of the tank. Use a small amount and smooth your thumb over the silicone to level it. Let the tank sit for 24 hours to cure the silicone. It does not matter if you choose to build or buy a saltwater aquarium, it is always vital that it does not leak!

After the resting period you can fill the tank with fresh water. Let it sit for 12 to 24 hours. Why? You are testing your tank for leaks! A 24 hour testing period is better as it will leave you more confident that your tank is actually watertight. This is important whether you build or buy a saltwater aquarium.

Once you are sure that your tank is fit for your marine world you can set about planning the fish, invertebrates, and plants that will go into your tank. It is not that important whether you choose to build or buy a saltwater aquarium. Most people will probably opt for the ease of walking into a store and choosing a perfect, assembled tank but for those who like a challenge, constructing your own tank can be very satisfying. Once you have set everything up you will feel doubly proud! Enjoy your new aquarium!

Dog Flea Control Management: How To Prevent, Treat, And Kill Dog Fleas

Dog flea control and management requires an integrated approach. For effective treatment both the host animal and the environment must be treated at the same time. Control of fleas on the pet generally requires the use of insecticides. Although flea combs can remove some fleas, combing should be thought of as a method for detecting fleas rather than removing them.

If an animal is to be treated for other conditions besides fleas, such as expression of anal glands, these procedures should be done before the insecticide application to minimize insecticide contact with interior mucosal membranes.

A wide range of insecticides are available for flea control. The pyrethrins and pyrethroids have the lowest mammalian toxicity. These insecticides come in many formulations including shampoo, dust and powder, mousse, aerosol and non-aerosol mist or spray, dip, spot-on, roll-on and collar. Organophosphate drugs for oral use are available, by prescription from veterinarians.

In addition, some on-animal formulations contain insect growth regulators (IGRs) that kill flea eggs on the animal. *Remember to read all insecticide labels, and to follow all precautions and dose directions.

The insecticides used for flea control vary widely in toxicity and efficacy. Considerations for selecting a formulation include the size, weight and age of the animal, as well as the species.

For example, greyhounds are a very chemical-sensitive breed and are more sensitive to insecticide products than most other dogs. Do not attach flea collars or flea-killing medallions on these dogs. Do not use chlorpyrifos, DDVP, methoxychior or malathion on greyhounds.

Cats are more sensitive to organophosphate insecticides than dogs. In addition, cats groom themselves more than dogs and are more likely to ingest an insecticide by licking the residue from their fur.

Kittens and puppies, because of their smaller size, require a lower dose than adult animals. Young animals may also require treatment with insecticides of lower toxicity than adult animals. Pregnant or nursing animals may be sensitive to certain insecticides.

Several products are available for especially sensitive pets and other situations that require lower risk chemical measures. These include the citrus peel extracts d-limonene and linalool, sorptive dusts such as silica aerogel or diatomaceous earth, the insect growth regulators fenoxycarb or methoprene, and insecticidal soaps.

Theses words may seem foreign to you, but you can always consult a veterinarian if you have questions. They will have accurate information on insecticides and their use for flea control on pet animals. The insecticide label should also contain accurate information on how a particular formulation of an insecticide should and should not be used. *Remember to read these labels before opening the container!

When using insecticides for flea control, remember that the applicator, namely your pet and you can be exposed to the insecticides several times. The label may call for the use of gloves and other protective equipment during application and suggest the pet not be handled with unprotected hands until the treatment dries. All personal protective equipment listed on the label must be worn. As a minimum aspect, chemical-resistant gloves, apron and goggles should be worn while mixing insecticides and during application to prevent insecticide contact with the skin.

The working area should be appropriate for containment of the pesticide and should be resistant to caustic materials. A stainless steel preparation table and stainless steel or ceramic tub are ideal. Also, certain parts of the pet’s body (such as the eyes) may be sensitive to the insecticides and must be shielded during application. When using flea “bombs” (aerosol cans with a self-releasing mechanism), follow all the precautions and remove the pets from the area being treated. For your information, using excessive aerosols is illegal and may cause fires and even explosions.

The other important part of an integrated flea management program is to control larval fleas in the habitat away from the animal. This can be achieved either mechanically or with insecticides. Mechanical or physical control of flea larvae involves removal and laundering of animal bedding and thorough cleaning of areas frequented by the animal.

Using a vacuum with a beater bar and immediately disposing of the waste bag effectively eliminates up to half of the larvae and eggs in carpet. You should also launder animal bedding and thoroughly clean areas the animal frequents and dispose of the vacuum waste bag after every cleaning.

Do not put insecticides in the vacuum cleaner bag. This is an illegal and dangerous use of the products and can harm you, your family and pets by creating dusts or fumes that could be inhaled.

Another mechanical control measure is carpet shampooing or steam cleaning. This rids the carpet of blood feces, an important food for the larvae, and may also remove eggs and larvae. In outdoor areas, cleaning up the places where animals like to rest reduces eggs and larvae and removes blood pellets. In yards and kennels, flea larvae can be found in cracks at wall-floor junctions and in floor crevices. These areas must be thoroughly cleaned and then maintained to prevent another infestation.

Recently several ultrasound devices, including collars, have entered the market claiming to control or repel fleas. Several scientific studies have investigated these devices and found absolutely no basis for the manufacture’s claims. Ultrasonic devices do not control flea populations. It is unnecessary for you to buy these equipments.

Chemical control of flea larvae can be achieved with insecticides. Organophosphate, carbamate, pyrethrin, pyrethroid and growth regulator (hormone mimic) insecticides as well as certain minerals are available for flea control in the environment These insecticides are formulated as coarse sprays, foggers and dusts or are micro-encapsulated.

All but the growth regulators kill flea larvae on contact. Insect growth regulators prevent flea larvae from developing to the adult stage. Growth regulators may also inhibit egg hatching. A good flea larval control program will incorporate sanitation, contact insecticides and growth regulators for good results.

Flea management requires patience, time and careful planning. Vacuuming and cleaning areas frequented by dogs and cats should be routine. The same applies to kennels. If an infestation occurs, insecticide applications on the animals or in the environment may have to be repeated according to the label. The need for retreatment and time intervals between insecticide treatments will vary with the kind of insecticide and the formulation.

Flea control will not be successful if only one approach is used. The animal and its environment must be treated simultaneously, and that treatment must be combined with regular sanitation efforts. Read all product labels carefully. Do not overexpose your pet by combining too many treatments at one time, such as a collar, a shampoo and a dust. Pesticides have a cumulative effect. Be aware of each product’s toxicity and do not endanger yourself or the animal by using excessive amounts of any one product or by combining products.

To end, please remember that flea control will only be successful when you treat both your pet and the environment simultaneously. Hope this article is useful in helping you manage flea problems.

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