Animal Health Foundation Blog

Crate Training by Dr. Karen Becker

August 26th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

By Dr. Becker

I’m a big fan of crate training and recommend it to every dog parent, especially those who need to housetrain a puppy. Whether your canine companion is a puppy or a senior, a new member of your family or an old hand, providing him with his very own cozy space has a number of advantages for both of you. A crate can help not only with housetraining, but also car or plane travel, and overnight stays with friends, family or at a pet-friendly hotel.

Why I Recommend Crate Training for Dogs

Many people equate a crate with a jail cell, but if you understand a little about the nature of dogs, you know this isn’t true. If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to talk to some dog-loving friends who’ve crate trained their pups. Chances are they’ll tell you their dog seeks out her crate on her own for naps, at bedtime and whenever she just wants a little me time.

A crate allows you to work with your pet’s natural desire to be a den dweller. Dogs in the wild seek out small, dark, safe spots to inhabit. In fact, if you bring a new dog into your home and you don’t have a crate ready for her, chances are she’ll find a spot, such as under a table or chair or even behind the toilet in the bathroom, which answers her need for a secure, out-of-the-way “den” of her own.

If you leave her in her makeshift den, you’ll notice that she won’t relieve herself there. That’s because dogs are programmed by nature not to soil their dens. In the wild, nursing wolves and coyotes teach their pups to relieve themselves outside their dens. This keeps predators from investigating inside their little homes, and keeps messes outside the sleeping area.

And that is exactly why crates are so useful for dogs who haven’t yet been housetrained. A dog with her own den will not want to soil it, so by providing a crate for her, you’re working in harmony with her natural instinct to keep her little space clean. As long as your dog is getting consistent and frequent trips outside to relieve herself, nature will prompt her not to soil her den space in between potty trips.

Another benefit of crate training is that a dog accustomed to spending time alone in her own den even when you are home is much less likely to develop separation anxiety or other phobias/panic disorders.

Putting a puppy in her crate for a nap or some quiet time also helps her learn not to expect constant attention from human family members. This strategy coupled with basic obedience training will set the stage for a secure, balanced adult dog who is pleasant to be around.

How to Choose a Crate

When you’re purchasing a new crate for your dog, size is important. You want a space that is not too small, but also not too big. Your dog should be able to stand up, lie down and turn around in his crate. It should be large enough for him to move around in comfortably, but not so large that he can easily use one end as his bathroom and the other end for sleeping and snacking. If you need to housetrain your dog, a crate that large can actually slow down the process.

If you’re unsure what size crate you need, talk to a store employee about the size of your dog and what you want to accomplish, and he or she should be able to help you pick the right size enclosure. You can also talk to a breeder, your vet or another knowledgeable person about what size crate to buy. If you’re crate training a puppy, especially a medium to large breed dog, keep in mind you’ll most likely need to graduate to a bigger crate as your pup matures.

When you bring the new crate home, place it in an area where your family spends time — not in an isolated spot, or outdoors, or in a high traffic location, or where your dog will experience temperature extremes.

Make sure there’s nothing inside the crate that could cause him harm, including anything around his neck that could get tangled or hung up on a part of the enclosure. As necessary, clean the crate with hot water and a mild soap, or a vinegar/baking soda solution. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Getting Your Dog Accustomed to Her Crate

If you’ve purchased a crate ahead of time and it’s there when your puppy or dog comes home, as long as she hasn’t had a bad experience with confinement in the past, it will be a snap in most cases to get her acclimated to his little den.

The first rule of crate training is to never, ever force your dog into his crate. You never want to introduce a crate, shove your confused pup into it, close the door and leave her. That’s how you wind up with a dog with an unmanageable case of separation anxiety or a pathological aversion to enclosed or small spaces.

It’s also important to try never to pull your dog out of her crate, either. The crate should represent a safe zone for your dog, so you never want to make her safe zone feel unsafe by forcing her into it or out of it.

The second rule of crate training is called “It’s All Good.” In other words, everything about the crate must be a good thing from your dog’s perspective. While you’re getting her used to her crate, everything she loves goes in there, including treats, treat release and food puzzle toys, chew toys, raw bones — basically anything she loves.

The goal is to have your dog voluntarily go into her crate. What I do with my dogs is drape a blanket over the back half of their crates to create a quiet, dark, den-like environment. My dogs use their crates as bedrooms — they go into them to sleep.

If your pup has had no bad experiences with a crate and you create a safe, dark little den for her inside, she might just go right in voluntarily as soon as you present her new space to her. But even if she takes to her crate right away, you still want to stick with the “it’s all good” rule and put treats, toys and other goodies in there for encouragement.

Crate Training a Fearful Dog

If your dog is nervous about his new little space or is fearful of it due to a bad past experience, you’ll have to take things slower. A dog who has been crated as a form of punishment or has been locked in a crate for inappropriately long periods will need to be gently and patiently reintroduced to his crate.

Obviously you want him to be in there comfortably with the door closed as soon as possible, especially if you’re in the process of potty training. But until he gets the “it’s all good” message about his crate, you’ll need to be extra vigilant about getting him outside to potty at frequent, regular intervals.

Make sure to leave the door to the crate open for a nervous dog. Put food rewards around the outside of the crate and inside as well so he can get comfortable going in and out of the crate without worrying about being “trapped” inside. Move his food and water bowlscloser to the crate as another way to associate good things with the crate.

Once you sense your dog is comfortable inside the crate at mealtime, try closing the door as soon as he starts to eat. Do it casually, without fanfare. Praise him in a calm, soothing tone and then get busy with something. Chances are he’ll finish his meal and then realize the door is closed and he’s not free to leave the crate.

He may look at you with an expectant or confused expression as if to say, “What’s the deal with the closed door?” You don’t need to ignore him completely, but you should keep doing what you’re doing and stay very calm as though there’s nothing out of the ordinary going on. Your dog may whine or cry a bit, but he should pretty quickly decide to lie down.

I recommend when you first start closing the crate door that you close it only for short periods of time. You’ll also want to leave a toy or treat inside the crate to keep him entertained. After a few minutes, when your dog has relaxed inside the crate, that’s your signal the crate has gone from being a bad thing to a neutral thing for your dog. Open the door so he can once again come and go as he likes.

Once your dog is associating only good things with the crate and feels comfortable inside it, you can close the door for longer periods of time. Don’t try leaving your house for short periods until he’s completely comfortable in the locked crate while you’re home.

You can gradually extend the amount of time you leave him in the crate, providing he’s getting consistent, frequent trips outside to potty. If you need to leave your dog for longer than four hours, I recommend you use a dog sitter or a doggy daycare facility rather than crating him for long stretches. You want him to view his crate as a safe place to rest and be calm, so when he’s in there and you’re home, resist the urge to energetically interact with him.

When you let your dog out of his crate, give him a sit command and plenty of calm praise when he follows the command. Make entry and exit from the crate a calm, neutral experience and unassociated with any of your dog’s behaviors.

Welcome Moana and Jen to AHF Pet Partners

August 25th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

Jen McCormick and Moana are sure to bring smiles on their visits!

Moana came to a high kill shelter with a mangled leg. She was unable to use the leg, but the shelter could not spend the money to remove it. Save Some Bunny Rabbit Rescue took her in and arranged for amputation surgery.

She has fully recovered and she doesn’t miss that useless leg at all!! She enjoys running and jumping on the couch and sleeping in her own little
bed! Because she has had some health issues, she is a good example for children and adults who are struggling with their health. She has a very calm, loving demeanor and her fur is so velvety soft that you will not want to stop petting her.

AHF treats homeless pets at Santa Ana River Trail for free

July 31st, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation
PUBLISHED: July 30, 2017 at 7:17 pm | UPDATED: July 31, 2017 at 7:50 am

 

 

ANAHEIM   Michael Diehl has had Osiris since the pit bull was just a pup.  Diehl, 46, suffers from sudden seizures and Osiris helps keep him safe, alerting him before they happen, he said.  “He means everything to me,” he said. “He protects me from everything.”  

As one of hundreds living on the riverbed of the Santa Ana River Trail, Diehl was among 60 people and their pets who took advantage of free veterinary services offered on Sunday, July 30.

The services were offered by two groups, the Healthcare Emergency Animal Rescue Team out of Yorba Linda run by veterinarians Debra and Dr. Todd Kopit, and  Dr. Mark Malo, vice president of the  Animal Health Foundation, a nonprofit that is a charitable wing of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association.

The veterinarians did wellness checks, vaccinations, de-worming and parasite treatment.

“We launched this program because we know there are many services for homeless people but not for their pets, ” said Malo, who also works at the Garden Grove Dog and Cat Hospital. “These people are dedicated to their animals. They would go without their own meals to feed them.”

Angel Nole, 32, brought his dog Bandit, a Dalmatian pit bull-mix, for shots and flea control. He also brought Robin, a six-week-old pup for his first puppy shots.

“It helps out a lot,” said Nole said, adding that he can’t afford any veterinary care.

TJ and Chance Ivey were thankful for the opportunity to get their pit bull-Labrador-mix Daisy checked out.

Daisy has helped make life bearable for the couple, they said.

“She brightens everybody’s day,” TJ Ivey said. “If they’re disgusted with life, she walks up to them and it’s a blessing.”

Angel Fund Helps Paulina

July 28th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

The Los Angeles Veterinary Center was approved for an AHF grant to help the Munoz family’s 10 year old Paulina with her curtiate ligament repair surgery!

We hope Paulina a doing better after the surgery and will be back to her sweet self soon!

Sweetheart Fights Cancer With Angel Fund’s Help

July 24th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

In September, 2015, Elaine Leonard’s 14-year-old cat, Sweetheart, was not feeling well.  She was coughing and lethargic and Elaine decided she should take her to see her veterinarian.

She lives in Orange and OC Veterinary Medical Center, owned by Dr. Jeffery Horn, was not far from her home.  Doctors there ran tests and examined Sweetheart, a Maine Coon breed.  They found respiratory problems and a large mass in her chest. They suspected cancer and lymphoma.  She also had some other physical issues.

Dr. Cooper (a veterinarian who no longer works at the hospital) told Elaine that “this is serious.  Sweetheart has a very large mass and you’d better think about things and what you want to do.”  She added that the animal might need surgery.

“I told them that I was not going to let my 14-year-old cat have surgery,” Elaine said.  She was concerned because of Sweetheart’s age and because of the expense – she did not believe she could afford an operation.

Dr. Horn prescribed antibiotics and pain medication and referred Elaine to Veterinary Cancer Group in Tustin, which has several oncology specialists on staff.  Sweetheart was examined there in November by Dr. David Bommarito, who is board certified in both oncology and radiation oncology.

Dr. Bommarito told Elaine that her cat might be treatable with chemotherapy.  But she chose to provide palliative care.  “My option for choosing palliative care was that   I couldn’t afford the expense of chemo treatment and didn’t want her to suffer any possible side effects,” Elaine said.

A retiree on a fixed income, she applied to Angel Fund for help with her bill.  Her request was granted.  Veterinary Cancer Group also contributed.  Elaine said that “of course” she appreciated the help and said that she also appreciated what Angel Fund has done to help many other pet owners.

She took Sweetheart home – although she had regular appointments with Dr. Horn.  The cat did pretty well for a few months.  “She was walking around and eating and drinking until shortly before she died” on March 25, 2016, Elaine said.  “On that last visit to Dr. Horn, he said to bring her in when you’re ready” for euthanasia.

But, she said, Sweetheart seemed to be doing OK. “I had her on morphine and I just wanted to keep her comfortable. She was eating and drinking and responding.  A week before she passed – she was a big cat and she’d never done this before – she pawed her was up on my bed and she got very close to me and she lay down next to my body.  She never had cuddled with me before.”

Within a few days Sweetheart was gone.

Angel Fund Helps Mango Overcome Chronic Disease

May 22nd, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

 

Some five years ago, Linda Lockwood found a stray cat outside her home in Vancouver, British Columbia.  “She was nobody’s cat.  I contacted shelters and looked around the neighborhood.  Nobody claimed her.  The shelter asked if I could keep her.  I had another cat but I thought I could take care of two.  So I said, OK, fine.”

Linda named her new charge Mango. She soon discovered that the new family member had some chronic health problems, particularly constipation.  “She had to get enemas once or twice a month,” she said.

Linda came to Southern California to go to school in June, 2014, with Mango in tow on the airplane.  (Her other cat had died.)  She enrolled at Pierce College in Winnetka, intending to become a veterinary technician because of her love of animals. But she ran into some trouble with a chemistry course and decided to change her major to computer science.  She did well – all A’s and one B –but decided to enroll at California Institute of the Arts to pursue her first love, music.  She will complete course work this spring on a master of fine arts degree.  Earlier, she had earned a bachelor’s degree of music in jazz studies from Vancouver Island University in British Columbia.

In November of 2015, Mango’s chronic constipation became a very real problem.  “She would poop everywhere – on my bed, on the floor,” Linda said.  “Sometimes, she’d try to poop and she couldn’t, so she’d cry. She was losing weight. She was extremely bloated because her colon was impacted.”  Linda had little money to spend but she took Mango to Happy Pets Veterinary Center in Valencia.

“They took x-rays and they told me how severe the problem was.  I just didn’t know what I was going to do,” Linda said. “Eventually, Dr. [Jane] Kelly told me, Mango was going to require surgery to remove almost the entire colon. She said she would have to refer me to a surgery specialist and that could cost more than $5,000 – and I just didn’t have that kind of money. But Dr. Kelly said that Mango’s life is at risk.  If you are unable to afford it, she’ll have to be put down.”

Dr. Kelly put Mango on intravenous fluids, multiple enemas, laxatives and pain medication for three days to stabilize her condition and suggested that Linda apply to Angel Fund for help. She did and received a grant of $275, a sum matched by Happy Pets.

But Mango still needed surgery.  “I found myself looking on the ground for coins, when I walked on campus,” Linda said.  “It only cost $1.20 to get rice and beans at my school, so that’s what I was eating.” Dr. Kelly suggested going to a low-cost clinic.

Linda talked to several clinics before selecting one. She raised money on a website, the largest contribution coming from a friend in Canada.  Mango got her surgery but the stitches holding the incision together quickly came out. “It was a gruesome thing. Her intestines came out,” Linda said.  “Everybody thought she was going to die.  I took her back and they sewed her up again – and the stitches came out again.”

This time, Linda found another veterinarian (on Christmas Eve), who repaired the damage and ordered Mango confined to a cage for a month as she healed. “After that month she was cage free and was as good as new,” Linda said.  “Today, she’s doing very well.  I give her everything that I can.”

And, she added, “I can’t believe I went through all of that.  I had to get extensions on all my essays and I had to leave classes early to pick Mango up.”

Linda believes that Angel Fund played a major role in saving her cat’s life. “Without them, I don’t know if Mango would have been in condition for what came next. The time she was in the hospital [at Happy Pets] bought some time for me to make plans for what to do.  I’m very grateful for what Angel Fund did for Mango.”

She also praised Dr. Kelly: “She is very compassionate and very caring.  I know she did it for Mango.”

And, she said, “It’s amazing how people, even if they don’t know you, they love animals.  I’m very grateful for what everyone has done for Mango.”

 

AHF Therapy Dog with Cancer Received Petco Grant

May 22nd, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

“Rock star” Therapy Dog Gets Sidelined with Cancer
Jane Horsfield and Dan Balza of Fountain Valley, California, adopted their dog Kiss at six-months-old when her previous owner no longer had time to train her for flyball. Through the years, Kiss’ super energetic nature has made her a perfect participant in flyball, agility, and nose work competitions as well as in recreational dock diving and K9 Disc.

Named after the rock band Kiss because of her black and white face, her outgoing nature also made her an ideal candidate for pet therapy work. As part of the Animal Health Foundation, an affiliate of Pet Partners, Horsfield and Kiss started visiting adults and children at local hospitals as well as elementary schools where children practiced their reading skills with Kiss sitting by their sides.

“There is not a person she doesn’t love to meet,” says Horsfield. “She loves everyone, and everyone loves her.”

As a “rock star” therapy dog, Kiss also gets invited to special events around town to raise awareness and money for skin cancer awareness through the local Rotary Club. It was during an event that Jane noticed some swelling above Kiss’s front left paw.

“At first, I thought it was related to her athletic activities,” says Horsfield. “So, I put some ice on her leg when we got home, and it looked a little better the next day.”

The family had been down this road before

But a week later, Kiss’ lower front left leg still looked swollen. Her veterinarian, Dr. Wayne Kopit of Brook-Ellis Pet Hospital, biopsied the lump and called Horsfield the day after Thanksgiving with the results. Kiss had a soft tissue sarcoma on her leg.

He decided to refer Kiss to Southern California Veterinary Specialty in Irvine, California for the cancer treatment.

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect it to be cancer,” says Jane. “The news struck terror into my heart.”

That’s because the previous Thanksgiving, the couple also had received cancer news about their dog Sheila. She died seven months later despite extensive surgeries and treatments to save her life. Unfortunately, the heartbreak doesn’t end there. The couple has lost four dogs to cancer through the years.

“My veterinarian says 50% of dogs die of cancer these days, and that none of the cancers my dogs have had have been related,” says Horsfield. “But that doesn’t make the news any easier when it’s your fifth dog with the diagnosis.”

New treatment delivers the right stuff

When Horsfield contacted the Animal Health Foundation to let them know about Kiss’ diagnosis, they told her that Pet Partners had grant monies from the Petco Foundation’s Pet Cancer Awareness campaign to help therapy dogs with their cancer treatments.

A $3,000 grant provided help with Kiss’ surgery and chemotherapy. “We had already spent thousands on Sheila’s treatments, so we really needed this support to help Kiss,” says Horsfield.

In the past, doctors might have amputated Kiss’ leg because of the difficulty in removing the entire tumor. But a new therapy combined surgical removal of the tumor with chemotherapy beads implanted directly into the tumor site. “The beads dissolve over four to five weeks releasing chemotherapy drugs to where it’s needed most,” says Horsfield.

So far, the results are good. The tumor hasn’t grown back, but Horsfield checks the leg daily, since if it returns, it will come back in the same spot, doctors say. She and Kiss are making therapy visits again, and Kiss is participating in some of her favorite sport activities on a limited basis.

“She won’t officially be out of the woods for 18 more months,” says Horsfield. “But in the meantime, we’ve got our sassy girl back. I am grateful for the help in saving her life. I never had kids, so my dogs are everything to me.”

 

6 Natural Remedies for Your Dog’s Itchy Skin

April 27th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation
Skin allergies are a common problem among dogs and owners and veterinarians alike are constantly fighting to make dogs more comfortable. Dogs, like people, can be allergic to just about anything, from their food to the environment. While there are many different medications to help deal with allergy symptoms, many of us prefer to go a more natural route first to make sure we’ve tried all of the safest options. Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog any treatments or supplements, but if you’re looking to try some natural allergy remedies, consider these.

#1 – Proper Bathing & Grooming

This might not seem like a “natural” remedy, but if your dog suffers from environmental allergies, frequent bathing and grooming is going to offer much needed comfort. Using soothing ingredients such as oatmeal in the shampoos will help your dog’s skin feel softer and will relieve the itching they feel. Depending on the severity of your dog’s allergies, bathing once a week will greatly improve your dog’s condition. Brushing and combing will also help remove dead skin and coat, promoting new growth and removing allergens on top of the skin and fur.

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IMAGE SOURCE: MAUREEN_SILL VIA FLICKR

#2 – Feed a Wholesome Diet

Your dog’s diet might be completely overlooked if your dog only suffers environmental allergens. But the more natural your dog’s diet, the better their bodies are able to fight off and heal from allergies and external stressors. If your dog is allergic to certain ingredients, you’ll want to avoid those ingredients and replace them with something else. Grain-free diets are highly recommended for dogs with any type of allergy (or no allergy at all!) but if this isn’t possible, consider feeding organic, whole grains. The better your dog’s nutrition, the better their overall health and their ability to fight off allergens.

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Image source: Oleg. via Flickr

#3 – Try Apple Cider Vinegar

Organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider offers many benefits to dogs suffering from allergies. If your dog has hot spots or itchy skin, you can apply a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar and water to your dog. Put the solution in a spray bottle for easy use. This same spray will help repel fleas and ticks – a common allergen for many dogs. You can also use it to clean out your dog’s ears. The acidity of the mixture makes for an environment that yeast can’t live in – and yeast infections are typically caused by allergies. Make sure that the acidity isn’t too strong for your dog – some prefer a different mixture than the 50/50 suggested.

#4 – Manage Heat & Moisture

Your dog’s environment plays a large role in the health of their skin. Be sure to keep your home appropriately cooled and use a humidifier in dry conditions. When grooming, avoid using a high heat blow dryer, which might be faster but wreaks havoc on your dog’s sensitive skin.

Make sure your dog always has access to fresh, filtered water. Dogs on a dry kibble diet are in need of more moisture in their diets than dogs that eat a home-cooked, raw, or wet food diet.

#5 – Consider Applying Calendula

Calendula is a member of the sunflower family and offers several benefits to dogs with allergies. Either made into a tea or gel, applying calendula to your dog’s skin will help relieve inflammation from allergies. It also has natural anti-fungal and anti-yeast properties. It also helps improve your dog’s immune system when taken internally, so consider this as an allergy treatment as well.

#6 – Add Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplementation

Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely beneficial to dogs with allergies. These oils help improve your dog’s skin and coat by keeping the natural oils present in healthy amounts. Omega-3s also work as anti-inflammatories and greatly reduce the intensity of allergens. There are many Omega-3 fatty acids on the market, and you’ll want to look for something that works quickly to support a soft, silky coat, minimize normal shedding, and maintain the skin’s normal moisture content, such as Project Paws™ Omega-3 Select soft chews.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. 

Pet Loss Books for Children – by Corey Gut, DVM

April 18th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

The Power of a Therapy Dog Visit

April 18th, 2017 by Animal Health Foundation

Recently retired team John Smead and Kasey shared the following experience with us at Children’s Hospital of Orange County:

John told us about a special day at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (Anaheim, CA):

Kacey and John went into a room with a 9 year old boy with leukemia who had not really been eating and didn’t even want to get out of bed.

When his mom read him the card that we give all the kids (there is a part that says she is a picky eater and shy when she meets people for the first time), he looked at Kacey…he then got out of bed and sat next to her and said “wow sometimes you don’t feel like eating either – nice to meet you Kacey”.