Pet Projects

Weekly Pet Project: Paws up!

Cao conveniently and compactly stacks her paws for examination.

Cao conveniently and compactly stacks her paws for examination.

If I lived in a major city, I would probably be one of those people who wiped their pet’s paws at the door. You see, I have this thing about bringing feces into the house. It’s pretty specific to human and canine feces, although I’m impartial to raccoon as well. Herbivore manure? No problem. When I worked as a wrangler, I relished watching the faces of children register that everything they were walking on was probably poo.

Pardon me for the tangent – the reason I brought up paw wiping is because one of the best things about paw wiping would be that I would routinely get a good look at my pet’s paws. Most pet owners that I know (other than my dear friend Jessica, who routinely smells her pet’s feet) rarely get a good look.

This week, I’d like you to pick up the foot and get down. Take each of your animal’s feet/hooves and examine them. Look for cracking, uneven wear, signs of compulsive licking/stomping. For dogs and cats, look between the pads. Examine each claw. Horse owners should explore all around the frog and coronet band with their hands (no tools!). The hoof wall should be smooth and regular. Feel the different textures of the hoof/paw, and take note of any areas to watch. Don’t attempt to clip/trim anything – just look.

Flat works well when examining dogs.

Flat works well when examining dogs.

Acclimating your pet to extensive foot examination  sets them up for successful trips to the vet, as well as increases your ease of handling were there an issue that needed to be treated. Routine foot handling means that when it becomes necessary to trim claws/hooves, you’re only asking them to let you perform one unfamiliar task. This time of year in Montana, we see abscesses when awns or cactus needles become wedged between the pads. Examining your pet’s paws after a stroll through the grass/field of prickly pear could prevent one!

If you’re able, start handling your animals’ feet in a variety of settings from the time their young. This is one area where equestrians have proven themselves ahead of the curve, probably because the stakes are a little higher when picking up the leg of a 1000 pound animal. If they can do it, you can too!

Got a great paw/hoof photo? Share below!

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Animal Care

Hot Hot Heat!

Summer has reached it’s peak here in Montana, with temperatures in the 90s, even up here at 5500 feet! We took a trip to Missoula this past weekend, and despite the high temperatures and the action campaigns by every animal care/advocacy group I know of, I STILL saw dogs left in cars in the broad sunlight.

One of the great things about living in a place where people are so connected with their animals is that people tend to want to take their animals with them everywhere. Lucky dogs get taken on hikes, vacations, to float the river, or maybe they just come to town for a quick trip to the groomer, or a wellness visit at the vet. Unfortunately, that also means that our canine companions might suffer if we feel we the need to multi-task, running into the grocery store to grab some last minute grub to grill.

There’s just no reason to take the risk of leaving your dog in the car. To help us understand why, Dr. Ernie Ward recently posted this video about what it’s like to be locked in a vehicle for 30 minutes with the windows cracked.

If you’re skeptical, I suggest you subject yourself to the same conditions you expect your dog to endure, much like Dr. Ward did. If you need to find a fur coat, check your local thrift shop.

Alternatives to leaving your dog in the car while you run in:

– Train your dog to tie, then tie them outside in the shade (bonus points for providing water)!

– Ask if leashed pets are welcome inside! (Not likely for food/eating establishments, but worth a try everywhere else.

– Get a friend to walk them outside!

– Skip the errand, take your pet home, and come back later.

Other ways to help prevent heatstroke in pets:

– If you’re a shop owner, consider posting a sign that says “leashed pets welcome!” Increased business, free pets, and it feels good to know that you’re keeping pets cool.

– If you see a pet locked in a car, call the non-emergency number for your local police. I recently checked with my local police department to see if this was correct protocol, and they confirmed. This goes for children as well. Do not feel guilty about making the call – animals die of heatstroke in cars daily.

– Not willing to make a call? Print out the file below, cut it in half, and carry it with you to place under the windshield wipers of cars with dogs inside. If you choose this option, I suggest monitoring the vehicle until the owner returns to make sure that the situation doesn’t become serious.

HOT DOG

If you decide to remove the dog from the vehicle because it is visibly distressed, make sure that you have witnesses that can confirm that you weren’t trying to steal their leftover wrappers, and for your safety.

Still not convinced that leaving dogs in the car is a bad idea? Maybe you’ve heard about children dying of hyperthermia when left in vehicles. If you haven’t, this article is enough to turn your stomach, and has some significant information about just how quickly cars act as greenhouses.

I promise the next blog post will be more fun.

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Giveaway

BarkBox Giveaway Winner

Thanks to Julie and Dumpling, the winners of the BarkBox giveaway! Cao’s own BarkBox awaits us when we return from our trip.

We are in Missoula, Montana this weekend, which has to be one of the most dog friendly cities, complete with a riverfront dog park. While breakfasting, we ran in to this pair, Chris and Schuck, riding in style. Lucky dog!

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Giveaway

BarkBox Giveaway Drawing

Cao & Dory await the BarkBox

Cao & Dory await the BarkBox

As you can see, Dory and Cao can hardly wait for the arrival of Cao’s first BarkBox.

Luckily, your dog need not go without much longer either – I’ve got one free BarkBox to give away! The $29 gift can be used for one free BarkBox, or for a serious discount on a three month subscription. BarkBox is a monthly subscription service that provides a box of toys and snacks customized by size. All the products are carefully selected for quality. New toys are a great way to motivate your dog! To avoid toy overload (and keep your floors devoid of traps), it’s a good idea to rotate their favorites in and out weekly.

To enter the drawing, comment below with your pup’s name and a future post topic that you would most like to see! Entries will be closed this Saturday, July 20 at midnight, MST, and the winner will be announced Sunday, July 21st on the blog.

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Animal Care, Willing Partnership

The Willing Partner’s Hierarchy of Needs

Anyone who signs up for six more years of school at the age of 26 must love being a student, but my junior year of undergrad, I grew weary of academia and decided to take a semester off from pursuing my German degree to ski bum. I worked as a snowboard instructor at a fairly large resort, and part of the training offered to us was a Children’s Accreditation. As a part of this course, we learned about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which Abraham Maslow conceived of as a part of his Theory of Human Motivation.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs describes the basic human needs that must be met before self-actualization, or the realization of one’s full potential, can occur.

In the past few years, while talking with people about their animals and their veterinary and behavioral concerns, I often found myself referencing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Before we can achieve willing partnership with our animals, we need to make sure that their basic needs are met.

In order to help us achieve willing partnership, I’ve developed an adaptation of Maslow’s Hierarchy for companion animals. It’s new and still forming. Too anthropomorphic for you? Take what you will, and leave the rest. I welcome you to start thinking about where you draw the line between humans and other animals.

The Willing Partner's Hierarchy of Needs

In future posts, I will discuss each of the levels in detail, but for now, I submit this as food for thought, and welcome your feedback.

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