Much to the dismay of my fellow Muttropolitans at the Muttropolis World Headquarters, Schmoo’s favorite Big Apple Dog Bed has been a permanent fixture under my desk for the last five years. It has provided a comfy escape for small dogs and big dogs alike looking for a little chill time as well as a safety zone for pooches that have deftly snitched a treat from another fellow four-legged office mate.
Yes, the dog bed was a bit worn out after five years of wear and tear, but some sentimental things are difficult to part with. The Big Apple Bed was such an item. That is, until a very large four-legged office mate decided to relieve himself on the non-washable portion of the bed, thus sealing the fate of said Big Apple Bed.
Schmoo has been like a woman without a country and has taken to sitting on the desk, versus under it, despite hundreds of comfy, super luxury beds strewn about the office.
Does your pet relentlessly
chew a specific area of his or her body? Or scooch around the room, dragging
along the ground awkwardly using front legs only? Does your dog lick his or her
paws fastidiously or attack his or her ears? These behaviors can be the pet
equivalent of a human’s runny nose and frequent “ker-choo!” in signaling the possible presence of allergies. Judging
by the urgency with which animals sometimes scratch, allergies seem to be as
uncomfortable for animals as they can be for people.
Attempts to alleviate the itch can lead
to other problems, such as permanent skin conditions, fur falling out,
secondary infections, and more. “Owners who notice their pets have issues with
their ears or skin should be seen by their veterinarians quickly,” said Brett
Wildermuth, D.V.M., Diplomate A.C.V.D., from the Animal Dermatology Clinic in
San Diego. “Allergies that are diagnosed early tend to be much easier to
Identifying the causes of an animal’s
itching can require some detective work. Veterinarians may examine a pet’s
medical history for clues, ask owners to fill out a questionnaire to identify
when the problems began and if seasonality is an issue, note the distribution
of lesions, examine bumps and crusts on the skin, and possibly administer a
blood-allergy test to look for allergy antibodies.
Dermatology specialists, who tend to
see pets that don’t respond to standard treatments, can employ more sophisticated
tests, such as an intradermal allergy test. For this test, a specialist shaves
a small area to expose skin, injects up to 70 possible allergens, one at a
time, just under the surface, and watches for a dermal reaction.
Generally, allergies are caused by one
or more of four types of irritants: fleas, foods, atopic materials (airborne
substances, such as pollen, mites and mold), or contact with specific matter,
such as wool or plastic.
Of these, an allergy to fleas is the most
common. Pets with this allergy respond not to the bug itself, but to proteins
in the flea’s saliva that are left on the skin after the bite. A single flea
can bite your pet more than 400 times, so even a small population can have a
“It’s hard to overestimate the
importance of regular flea control,” said Laura Stokking, D.V.M., Diplomate
A.C.V.D., at the Veterinary Specialist Hospital of San Diego. “They can be a
problem year round, so owners need to be vigilant.”
Fortunately, treatment and prevention
options have improved significantly from the “old days,” when options usually
included flea powders, collars, over-the-counter shampoos and regular
insecticide treatment of the home environment. Those options have been largely
supplanted by the new, more targeted, and sometimes safer products available
Topical treatments, available through
veterinarians, can effectively stop and prevent long-term infestations by
killing fleas at all stages of their life cycle and preventing new problems from starting. An oral regimen also can be used to quickly control a
particularly heavy infestation.
An allergy to ingredients found in food
can emerge, seemingly out of nowhere, even with foods pets have happily eaten
for years. Typical culprits include beef, dairy products, chicken, wheat,
chicken eggs, corn and soy, but anything an animal ingests can be suspect.
“Pets can be allergic to many different
types of food. Some people think lamb is hypo-allergenic because it used to be
a common novel protein used for food tests,” said Dr. Stokking. “Now that pets
are eating more lamb, we’ve seen more allergies to it.”
When a food allergy is suspected,
veterinarians typically suggest a food trial. Animals are fed foods they have
not eaten before, one protein and one carbohydrate, such as a mix of kangaroo
and oats or duck and peas, for a prescribed period of time. If symptoms
decrease or disappear during the trial period, then recur when the original
diet is reintroduced, food allergies are diagnosed. Finding the specific
allergen requires reverting to the trial diet and reintroducing one new
ingredient a week. Food may need to be hand- prepared during this time.
Dr. Wildermuth recalls a case where a
pet helped with its own diagnosis. “A dog undergoing a food trial helped
himself to some potato chips,” he said. “The owner noticed the dog began to
itch again, so this pet is now on a long-term diet free of potato.”
Environmental irritants that can cause
allergies include dust mites, molds, and dander from other cats, dogs, or
humans. Ear infections, licking paws and chewing feet, and red, inflamed,
infected “hot spots” can signal an atopic allergy.
“Time of onset and seasonal outbreaks
can help us identify specific problems,” said Dr. Stokking. “In San Diego, our
‘seasons’ can be tied to the presence or absence of marine layers and Santa
Anas. Plants can pollinate multiple times here, so referring to spring or fall
is less meaningful here than it is elsewhere in the country.”
Basic treatments for environmental
allergies might include using antihistamines, bathing with special shampoos,
adding fatty acids in special proportions to food as directed by a
veterinarian, and sometimes using cortisone or steroids. Specially developed
allergy shots, given by owners, two to three times per month can be used to
desensitize a pet to an allergen.
Contact allergies are the least common
form of allergies in pets. Once identified, they can be fairly easy to manage,
as long as it is possible to eliminate or minimize contact with the irritant. A
pet with an allergy to plastic will feel better if plastic food dishes are
replaced with metal ones.
Though allergies can not be cured
completely, the symptoms can be treated, with the result that your pet may
become more inclined to lick your hand or sit quietly at your feet than to
frantically attempt to scratch a ceaseless itch.
— Michelle Ganon is a San Diego-based writer and proud
parent of two dogs.
Courtesy of sdPets — Lifestyles of the San Diego Pet, from
the Union-Tribune, with permission.
On July 12 & 13, 2008, pets and their parents came out for the Summer Olympic ‘Chomp-ianship’ to compete in a ice cream eating contest, a tail wagging contest, a howling contest and a kibble inhaling contest at Muttropolis’ five locations.
Solana Beach, CA: Ice cream Eating Contest: Bella, owner Heidi Welsh, ate the whole thing! Tail wagging contest: Duffy, owner Kimberly Jayner, 70 wags Kibble Inhaling (small dog): Buddy, Justin Deignam, 40 Seconds Kibble Inhaling ( big dog): Cash, Mary Wells, 14 seconds
La Jolla, CA Tail wagging contest: Ben had the most wags at 62 Kibble Inhaling: Shelby ate it all in just 11sec. Howling Contest: Ru howled for 17seconds.
This past weekend’s adoption events with the Friends of Humane Society de Tijuana at the Muttropolis’ Boutiques in La Jolla and Solana Beach were a huge success! I am very pleased to report that every one of the animals were adopted to a new, loving and permanent home. We adopted out four dogs and one cat!
Fashion Island, Newport Beach, CA: Ice cream Eating Contest: Jaskson Kathei, owner Cyndie Kathei time 39 sec Tail wagging contest: Bogie Corona, owner Irene Corona wags,80 Kibble Inhaling (small dog): Baby Luv, owner Bobbie La Grua, time 33sec Kibble Inhaling ( big dog): Malone Morgan, owner Kirstin Morgan, time 30 sec Howling contest: Boo Taulbee, owner Karen Taulbee
La Encantada, Tucson, AZ: Kibble inhaling: Emerald chowed down their kibble in only .30 seconds Howling contest: Scratch howled for 1.21 minutes Ice cream Eating Contest: Kipper finished in 45 secs. Tail Wagging (# of wags in 30 sec): Sadie 75 wags
How does nutrition affect health?
What we consume is more that just ‘fuel’. It is a source of many vital compounds
that can represent the difference between top health and disease. Food is a
major factor in our total wellbeing and while investing in a good quality may seem costly
compared to many of the budget foods available on grocery store shelves, a
wholesome diet can help to reduce or
eliminate many of the unnecessary vet bills that are incurred when nutrition is
Consider the needs of the individual
animal Age, activity level, breed and health history as well as food
intolerances or allergies, are all very important factors to consider when
selecting a diet for your pup. There are many rather gimmicky diets being
introduced to the market each year, designed for specific breeds, sizes, life
stages and so on – but in actual fact, the nutritional needs of a dog should be
based on his or her particular requirements for calories and other nutrients,
rather than a ‘category’ that he or she falls into.
What are the downsides of a poor
quality diet? There is a direct correlation between chronic diseases such as
cancer, kidney failure, or diabetes, and poor quality food. Of course other
factors like vaccines and genetics also predispose pets to disease, but the
incidence of these disorders has increased dramatically in the
since the introduction of commercial, highly processed pet food in 1950’s.
The long term effects of feeding a
highly processed diet can also lead to hypersensitivity to the environment. Did
you know that when a pet who suddenly becomes terribly itchy, the cause might
be narrowed down to something like a new cleaning product being used in the
home or a seasonal allergy – but diet
plays a role too; poor quality food can actually deplete the immune system, making
the animal more susceptible to other health problems. Dogs who enjoy a high
quality, fresh and varied diet are often noted to be far less bothered by
seasonal allergies and fleas, than their junk-food fed counterparts.
Where does nutrition fit into
Holistic Care? Nutrition is a fundamental cornerstone to total health. But
simply feeding a natural, raw or home made diet, or adding supplements to your
pooch’s bowl does not constitute ‘holistic health care’ in the true sense of
the term. Other decisions like vaccinations, veterinary choices, environment
& lifestyle are also important to consider when giving your pup the best
chance at great health. Your holistic vet or practitioner should be able to
provide some useful guidance.
Want to Know More? We’re delighted
to announce that the long-awaited Third Edition of Ann Martin’s groundbreaking
book, Food Pets Die For – Shocking Facts About Pet Food, has
just been launched.
The book includes a fascinating
‘diary’ of various pet food recalls in recent years as well as a listing of only
eleven independent pet food companies in the US and Canada that Ann confidently
recommends to readers, based on objective and impartial selection through
meticulous research. One of them is The Honest Kitchen.
An unprecedented rehabilitation effort has been put forth to rescue and foster Vick’s 47 surviving dogs since the Federal Court confisc
ated them over one year ago. Bred to be aggressive with other dogs, classic fighting pit bulls are bred to be friendly to people. Read more details.
Love your dog but not his
manners? Learn how to deal with or prevent unwanted behaviors like
jumping, mouthing, and leash-pulling in just 3 weeks. This class is also
great for getting puppies off to an excellent start. Instruction also
includes basic commands like Sit, Come and Stay. Classes are taught by
nationally-certified trainer Mary Beth Knowles of Canines Content Dog-Friendly
For dogs 12 weeks of age
and up. Class meets weekly for 3 weeks, Saturdays, 9-10 a.m. at Muttropolis Solana Beach. 227 S. Cedros Ave. For
more info or to enroll call 760-929-9252. www.caninescontent.com
4. Water: Provide plenty of water and shade for your pets so they can stay cool. Be aware that water will vaporize on extremely hot days. Collapsible Water Bowls and Gulpy Water Bottles are convenient portable water sources for your pet.
5. Exercise at Dusk & Dawn: Pets need exercise but on very hot days, limit exercise to early morning
or evening hours. Keep in mind that asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws. Protective
Boots are a good way to protect paws from hot pavement.
6. Avoid Sunburn: Pets can get sunburned too, and your pet may require sunscreen on his or her nose and ear tips. Especially pets with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion
Heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering
gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue.
What to do: Move the animal into
the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or immerse them in cool
(not cold) water. Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take them directly to a veterinarian.
On September 7th 2008, pets and their parents from all over San Diego will compete in the third annual Surf Dog Surf-a-thon to benefit the Helen Woodward Animal Center. Hopefully they will catch a lot of waves! Two-legged and four-legged surfers will raise money for animals based on how many waves they catch from pledges. Plus, all paw-ticipants will receive a special gift from Muttropolis!