a The Happy Puppers (Dog care, grooming, behavior and training)

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

DIY indoor activity course for dogs

Make this DIY indoor activity course for your pooch and never let your dog lack in exercise.

No matter what our situation is, our dogs need their exercise. If they do not get their exercise on time and on a regular basis, they may develop aggression towards other dogs and other family members. Thus, proper mental and physical stimulation of your dog is of the utmost importance for his/her well being. What is a better way to do it than to set up an indoor activity course? This way your dog can get all the exercise he/she needs right at home without you spending a single dime.



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Why do you need an indoor activity area?

There are times when it's difficult to go out to take our dogs for a walk

For example:
  • You are stuck in quarantine due to a viral pandemic outbreak and you cannot leave the house and take your dog for his two 40 minutes walk (morning and evening). 
  • You have super busy with the upcoming assignment, You have only 20 minutes to spare but your dog needs a 40 minutes walk otherwise he will bring the house down.
  • You have some work to do and your dog is seeking attention and not letting you work.
  • You are sick and just don't have the energy to take your dog out for his long walk. 
  • The environmental conditions are not favourable for a walk outside e.g. rain, blizzard etc. If it rains, Delta refuses to go out, even if he wears a raincoat. He would just prefer to stay indoors and not step out of the house for more than 5 minutes. 
  • You have a highly energetic pup or a dog with aggression issues. 
Casper is all ready for any pandemic situation. But what about his walkies? You can follow Casper's daily adventures @casper_the_cream_retriever

Thus, this activity can help you with all the above-mentioned situations.

If you check the internet, you will find multiple ideas for dog indoor activities, most of which involve staircases and you like a tug of war, kong toy, interactive feeder, dental chews etc. These methods are great for mental stimulation and building focus in your dog.

However, those techniques don't really teach you how to actually get your dog to physically release all of that pent-up energy while being indoors at the same time. 

Thus, in this post, I bring you an indoor dog activity setup, which you can make with things already present in your house.

Why did I come up with this?

If you guys have been following my YouTube channel (Shruti and Delta), you would know k=by now that Delta is a super high energy pup. He goes for a 40 min walk once in the morning and once in the evening, however, that much is never enough for him. He will come back, sleep for 2 hours, wake up and demand my undivided attention. 

If I do not pay attention to him, he will become very vocal and whine about it. If that doesn't work, he will lay his head down on my lap and look at me with those absolutely adorable eyes. I melt, give up my work and play with him. Yes, he has me wrapped around his fingers, toes, tail everything! 

He prefers to sleep when I sleep with him. Now I don’t have the option of sleeping all day now, do I? I need to work. So I had to come up with something to keep him engaged. I tried filling Kong with treats. It only worked to keep him busy for 15 minutes. Within 15 minutes, all treats were eaten and he was back to whining. I gave him the homemade dog toys. Those work, but I need to play otherwise he loses interest. So I desperately needed something which would completely tire him out.


Delta is always high on energy and recuperates very soon. You can follow his daily shenanigans @deltabunny_thehappypup

Thus came in, THE INDOOR DOG ACTIVITY SET UP.

Let's find out how to make this activity area. 

For this, you will need
  • A couple of chairs 
  • Your bed or sofa, whichever you prefer 
  • The more number of items you can involve, the better is it..
  • And finally, you will need an extremely enticing treat to which your dog cannot refuse.
I prefer to use Indian flat wheat bread. Since wheat is safe for dogs, it makes the flatbread a great treat. Also, a bonus point is that Delta loves wheat flatbread over Chicken, egg, cheese as well as mutton (primary proteins available in India). Thus, it makes for an amazing treat. I would normally make a 6 inch diameter flatbread and place it in the fridge to harden up before use. This way the treat is not wobbly when I use it to navigate Delta around the chairs and the bed. 

The setup:

The way I set up the activity area is to put the chairs with their backs touching the bed and the front side towards me. I would make sure to keep some space between the two chairs as well as on the outer side of the chairs so that Delta can be navigated easily.

That’s it…!!
You have your activity area all set up and the treat in place.
Its time to begin.

Use the treat to navigate you. Lure your dog in and make him go in the figure of 8 around the chairs and bed. So this is how it goes:
Roscoe understands the impawtance of regular exercise. It keeps him super fit and healthy. You can follow Roscoe's everyday activities @theroscoechronicles 
  • Up, on the bed from the outer side of chair 1
  • Down from the inner side of chair two
  • Again up, on the bed from the outer side of chair two
  • Down from the bed from the inner side of chair 1/2.
  • Repeat the process until your pup tires out.
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Make sure to interchange the activity with some sit-down, stand, lay down (and any other tricks) sessions so that your dog does not get bored with running in the same manner again and again. 
Furthermore, after 4 to 5 complete loops, give your pup a small piece of the treat. This makes sure that his/her interest stays in the game.

If your dog stops chasing the treat, bring the treat really close to his/her nose so that he/she can smell it. When your dog lunges to make a grab for the treat, make him/her go around in loops again. 

Continue this activity for a half-hour in case of a high energy dog or 15 mins in case if a low energy dog. You can also stop when you feel that your dog is getting tuckered out from exhaustion. 
This is also an amazing exercise to build strength in their hind leg muscles. 

If you want a live demo, then here is the video. Do follow us on YouTube so you can get notified the moment I publish my next video :)





PS: If you like this post do share it with your friends and leave a comment. If you are not a dog guardian, share it with your friends who are, so that everyone’s life can become just a little bit easier :).

Monday, March 16, 2020

CORONAVIRUS!! What you need to know as a dog guardian?

Coronavirus! What you need to know as a dog guardian!


What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are positive-stranded, spherical, enveloped, non-segmented RNA viruses. It has a diameter of 125nm. In the human body, it binds to the ACE2 receptor present on the alveoli of the lungs. Upon infection/entry, it hijacks the human cell machinery to make a complete virus particle, killing the host cell in the process. 

The name Coronavirus is derived from the crown-like spikes which are present on the surface of the virus (in Latin, corona translates to ‘crown’). 

The novel Coronavirus has 2 names:
  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
Other Coronaviruses which have been faced by the human race are SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) Coronavirus (outbreak observed in 2003) and MERS (Middle eastern respiratory syndrome) Coronavirus (outbreak observed in 2013-14).

The 2019 novel Coronavirus, is believed to have originated in bats and has been transmitted to humans via an intermediate host animal.

The incubation period (the time duration needed by the virus to grow in the body during which no signs or symptoms of the disease are observed ) of this virus is 4 to 14 days in humans. 

The most common symptoms of this disease (in humans) are 
  • fever
  • dry cough 
  • muscle ache 
  • fatigue
The less common symptoms (in humans) are
  • headache
  • Coughing up blood
  • Diarrhoea

The disease usually transmits via direct contact with an infected person (via droplets containing virus particles)

Let’s come to the main question:

Can dogs be affected by Coronavirus?
Currently, according to the WHO’s Myth Buster page, there is no scientific evidence implicating that dogs or cats can get affected by the Coronavirus. 

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What about the infected dog who was found in Hong Kong?

The dog tested positive for the virus after living with his guardians who were infected by the said virus. As per a report from the World Organization of Animal Health, the dog in question did not show signs or symptoms of being infected by the Coronavirus. There is currently no scientific support indicating that dogs can get affected by the Coronavirus or that they can act as vectors (transmitting agents) for the disease. 




What should I as a dog guardian do?

Maintain regular hygiene as you normally would. 
In case a person is affected or is suspecting himself or herself to be affected, it is advisable to hand over the care of their dog to an uninfected person just like they would if they have any disease.
In case the infected person must care for their dog, it is recommended to wear a face mask and wash their hands before and after coming in contact with their dogs. 
If your dog usually stays at home, does not come in contact with other dogs and no one at your home is infected by Coronavirus, you don't have anything to worry about. The chances of your dog getting infected are very unlikely.




What to do if one suspects their dog of being infected by the Coronavirus?

Currently, public services and Veterinary health are working together using a one health approach to share all information and conduct a risk assessment if a COVID-19 infected person is reported to be in contact with dogs. 
If a decision is taken to conduct a risk assessment test, a real-time reverse transcriptase- polymerase chain reaction (RRT-PCR/qRT-PCR) test is conducted on oral, nasal as well as fecal samples of dogs suspected of being infected with the virus. 

What is the RRT-PCR/qRT-PCR test?

Just like we humans have DNA which possesses our genetic code, similarly Coronaviruses have RNA which contains their genetic code. Viruses replicate in the human body by converting their RNA into DNA by the use of an enzyme (protein which speeds up a chemical reaction) called reverse transcriptase. Depending on the virus, the newly made DNA may get integrated into the human genome. The novel Coronavirus does not convert its RNA into DNA and initiates protein synthesis upon entry into the host cell to form new virus particles.

In the qRT-PCR test, reverse transcriptase is used to convert the viral DNA which may be present in the blood to DNA and is then quantified for the purpose of identification.  


Is any vaccination available which can protect my dog from getting infected by Coronavirus?

Unfortunately, at the moment there is no vaccine available for dogs which can provide immunity against Coronavirus. As per the estimation of the WHO, a vaccine for humans against Coronavirus may be available by 12 to 18 months. 

Should I make my dog wear a face mask when I take him/her out in public?

The masks which are available for dogs in the market will not protect your dog from getting infected by diseases which are transmitted via bodily fluids. What you can do instead is make sure that your pup's vaccination is up to date, especially the vaccines against respiratory diseases like canine influenza, Bordetella and parainfluenza.

What to do if I am ill (suspected or suffering from Coronavirus) and my dog needs immediate vet care?

Even though dogs have not been identified as vectors or being vulnerable to the disease, it is still better to maintain precautions as much as possible. In the case of the unfortunate scenario, where you might be infected and your pup is in need of emergency care, contact the emergency pet health services and explain your situation to them. They may be able to provide you with some support by taking your dog from the car and into the hospital without you needing to go in. Following this, they may discuss the symptoms, diagnosis as well as the treatment plan of your dog over the phone. 
Alternatively, they might discuss the entire situation on the phone first before taking the decision of whether your dog needs to be admitted or not. In case any over the counter medication is advised or if you have the mediation lying around from any previous suffering, you may not have to take your dog to the hospital at all.


Conclusion:

Now that you know what you should do and how to keep your pup protected, make sure you follow all instructions to the teeth and keep your pup's vaccination up to date. 

What are you doing to keep the COVID-19 at bay? Let me know in the comment section below. If you have any specific questions make sure to put them down too. I will do my best to answer on the basis of available scientific research.

Furthermore, if you are concerned with your dogs not getting the proper amount of exercise due to the quarantine, you can check out the next post which will focus on making an indoor dog activity area. 

Or

You can check out the following video which describes how to set up the activity area and get your dog tired.




Finally maintain proper hygiene and stay safe.

PS: If you like the article, please share it with your friends so that more dog guardians are aware of what they need to do in this difficult time and situation. Also, don’t forget to leave a comment!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Effects of administering NSAIDs to dogs (pain killers)


Are NSAIDs really worth as pain management option for your dog?


So you suddenly notice your dog (Yuri) has developed a limp in one of his legs and is having difficulty walking or sitting (Signs and symptoms of pain in dogs). You have some pain medication lying around which was previously prescribed to your other elderly dog (Molly) for her osteoarthritic knee. To provide some instant relief to Yuri, you decide to give him Molly’s medicine. 


STOP
Don’t ever do that…!!
You might do more harm than good…


As per FDA, there is only one over the counter drug, you can use in emergencies (with prior discussion with your vet of course). It is acetaminophen (commonly known as Tylenol/Paracetamol)

Effect of NSAIDs on dogs
Effect of NSAIDs on dogs


However, one precaution to be kept in mind is that acetaminophen is not harmful to dogs but is FATAL TO CATS. Cats lack certain liver enzymes which are needed for proper breakdown of acetaminophen. In some cases, acetaminophen can also cause liver damage and reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood (this is where the prior discussion with your vet comes in handy. He/she can best tell you the dose and if your pup might be allergic to the same). 


Now, let's discuss the most commonly administered drug to canines in case of pain: the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).


What are Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs?

These are drugs which are used as pain relievers in case of both canines and humans. These drugs have antipyretic (anti-fever), anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. These drugs are often prescribed by vets in case the dog is suffering from arthritis, sprain and surgery pain. It is also prescribed if your dog is suffering from osteoarthritis (a disease in which the cartilage cushioning the joints start to break down due to wear and tear causing the bones to rub against each other. The constant rubbing of the bones can cause permanent damage to the bones).


What happens when there is an injury?
In our or your dog’s body, when there is damage to a cell, enzymes known as cyclooxygenases (COX) are released (enzymes are proteins/biocatalysts which speed up reactions in the body). These enzymes stimulate other nearby cells to produce prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are responsible for the following symptoms observed in canines and humans:
  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Inflammation
  • besides other effects


How do NSAIDs reduce pain and inflammation?
NSAIDs have the potential to act in two ways. They can either directly block the COX enzymes or it can block the prostaglandins which are produced by the action of the COX. by either mechanism, NSAIDs block the pain and cause a reduction in inflammation in animals.


However, it's not a perfect world and NSAIDs are not the perfect drugs. Due to their effects on the OTHER protective functions of prostaglandins like (protect the stomach and intestinal lining, maintain blood flow to kidneys and support formation of platelets), blocking prostaglandins by the use of NSAIDs can lead to numerous side effects like:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach and intestinal ulcers
  • Perforation (development of holes) in the stomach and intestinal walls
  • Failure of kidney function
  • Failure of liver function
  • Finally, DEATH!

    The main side effects of NSAIDs are observed in the kidney, liver and digestive tract.

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    Effects of NSAIDs on dogs



    Effect of NSAIDs on kidneys of dogs:


    If for some reason, there is reduced blood flow to the kidneys, prostaglandins come into play and dilate (increase the width) of the blood vessels(vasodilation), allowing more blood to reach the kidneys. In case the dog is taking NSAIDs, chances are NSAIDs will block the prostaglandin from dilating the blood vessels supplying blood to the kidneys. This will cause less blood flow to the kidneys which may lead to acute kidney failure. This can result in shock or dehydration in dogs. 


    If the NSAID is used around surgery, intravenous (IV) fluids are generally administered before, after as well as during the anaesthesia to help maintain proper blood flow to kidneys.  


    Effect of NSAIDs on the liver of dogs:
    The side effects of NSAIDs on dog liver can be divided into two categories: 
    • Toxicity which is dependent on the dose (dose-dependent toxicity)
    • Toxicity which does not depend on the dose of the NSAID (dose-independent toxicity) 
    Dose-dependent toxicity:
    In this case, the higher the dose, the more is the toxicity and resulting damage. This kind of toxicity is typically caused by an overdose of NSAID (dog consuming all the ibuprofen tablets of his guardian).


    A note of caution: Keep all medicines (yours or your animals) in a sealed cabinet away from the reach of your human kids, fur kids as well as other animals. 


    Dose independent toxicity:
    This type of toxicity can occur at any dose (even if the dosage is correct as per the body weight and breed). This is generally unpredictable and occurs when the dog’s liver has an abnormal sensitivity towards NSAIDs.
    NSAIDs can have detrimental effects on your dog
    NSAIDs can have a detrimental effect on your dog



    A word of advice: 
    Dogs who are already suffering from liver or kidney disease should not be prescribed NSAIDs. If your vet does so, get a second opinion before starting your pup on the medication.


    Furthermore, if your dog has been prescribed NSAID for osteoarthritis, it is a good practice to get his or her blood tested to check for proper liver and kidney function before starting the drug and periodically for as long as the drug is taken. One more thing you can do is make sure your dog consumes a lot of water if he/she is on NSAIDs on a regular basis. 


    Effect of NSAIDs on the digestive tract (stomach and intestines) of dogs:
    • Regular use of NSAIDs can lead to problems in the digestive tract of dogs in a direct as well as indirect manner. 
    • The direct effects are related to the physical properties of the drug. Since NSAIDs are slightly acidic in nature, they can cause irritation to the lining of the stomach. 
    • The indirect effects of NSAID can be observed in its role in preventing the body from manufacturing prostaglandins (as I previously mentioned). When the production of prostaglandins is reduced or absent, it can lead to the digestive tract being more prone to damage (prostaglandins protect the stomach and intestinal lining). This can lead to the formation of pores (perforation) in the digestive tract. 
    • A series of clinical trial done in 2013 showed that NSAID treatment let to adverse effects in 35 dogs of the 64 dogs enrolled in the study. The most common side effect observed was gastrointestinal disturbances. 

    FDA has approved the following NSAIDs for dog consumption:
    • Carprofen
    • Deracoxib
    • Firocoxib
    • Grapiprant
    • Meloxicam (approved for cats too)
    • Robenacoxib (approved for cats too)


    NSAIDs are normally administered either orally or by intravenous methods to dogs. 


     Be the voice of your pup
    Be the voice of your pup


    What can you do?
    So far I have burdened you with tons of information about how bad NSAIDs can be for your dogs. In that case, what is the alternative? No one wants their beloved fur baby to go through any kind of pain. On the other hand, we also don't wish for them to be administered drugs which might have side effects in the long run. Thus which is the right way to go and as dog guardians what can you do to help?


    You can do the following:
    When your vet prescribes any pain killer, discuss with your vet about the following:

    • Inform the vet, if your dog has had any heart or digestive problems previously or has undergone surgery.
    • Is currently being administered any other medication. Without the knowledge of current medications, your vet cannot take the right decision of which medicine to administer. It is absolutely not recommended to give a combination of an NSAID and steroid or even 2 different types of NSAIDs at once. These combinations can have detrimental health effects on your dogs.
    Monitor your pet, the entire time he/she is being administered NSAIDs. If you see any of the following signs, STOP giving the medication and immediately consult your vet:
    • Loss of appetite (Anorexia)
    • Reduced activity levels
    • Yellowing of gums
    • Yellowing of cornea (the white of the eyes)
    • Tar coloured stool
    • Diarrhoea
    • Vomiting 
    • Changes in urination frequency

        In case your dog is diagnosed with osteoarthritis and is prescribed NSAIDs for the long term, discuss with your vet about getting some baseline blood and urine tests to determine the kidney and liver function. Also, talk to your vet regarding the frequency of the blood tests. 


        Things you can do to make NSAIDs safer for our pup:

        • Learn to identify the side effects listed above and take prompt action.
        • Keep your NSAID bottle out of reach of your inquisitive pup.
        • If your pup is on NSAID, take him or her in for regular urine and blood check-ups and general monitoring.
        • Report any or all of the side effects to your vet.
        • Do not hesitate to ask questions to your vet. Your questions might potentially save your dog’s life.


        Finally remember, your dog is dependent on you to take the right decision and make the right choice. You are his/her caregiver, parent and best friend. Be the voice of your dog. They deserve the best care we all can offer. 


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        How do pain killers help your dog?
        How do pain killers help your dog?

        PS: If you like this post, don't forget to post your comment and share it with your friends. Let’s make more dog guardians better at taking care of their beloved furkids. 

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