Wildlife Professionals and Dog Trainers Collaborate to Train Dogs for Snake Bite Prevention
Get Rattled holds important Rattlesnake Avoidance Training Clinic in Penn Valley this April
Penn Valley, CA – Rattlesnakes will be active soon due to the warm temperatures, fostering an earlier and longer snake season. If you enjoy activities that take you and your dogs outdoors, you and your pets may be at risk for encountering rattlesnakes. And as the snakes keep moving in search of food and mates, they may even end up in your own backyard. According to the California Poison Control System, the state’s current warmer-than-average weather means that this spring and summer will likely be a very active rattler season.
“I’d say that most dog owners don’t really think about snake bites until they see a rattlesnake for themselves, in parks, or their backyards, and then realize their dogs can be at risk,” says John Potash co-founder and co-owner of Get Rattled. He adds, “Get Rattled is a unique training clinic designed specifically to teach dogs on rattlesnake avoidance. We have been teaching this clinic for 15years and have successfully trained thousands of dogs.”
Potash is licensed by the Nevada Department of Wildlife and has over 25 years of experience working with venomous snakes and wildlife in areas of animal control, wildlife rescue, and public education. He works with skilled dog trainer Willie J. Stevens Jr. who has over 20 years of experience training and judging pointing dogs.
Rattlesnake Avoidance Training is a crucial tool for dog owners. Potash says, “Prevention is your number one line of defense in protecting your dogs from venomous snakes. When dogs and their owners go hiking or to the dog parks togo off leash, this training teaches them to be fearful of the rattlesnake. It protects people as well, as the dog becomes an alert system. This training has proven to be an effective tool in teaching rattlesnake avoidance to all dogs from Great Danesto Chihuahuas.
Because rattlesnakes can regulate the amount of venom they inject into another animal, the health risks to dogs from a bite can vary greatly depending on the amount of venom injected, the species and size of rattlesnake, and the size of the dog and where it was bitten. Dogs can also be bitten when owners are not around,so Potash suggeststhat people know some general signs of a bite along with health risks: “Dogs are usually bitten on their limbs, neck, head,or face so look for severe swelling in those areas. After some time, the venom may produce nausea,vomiting,and the dog can seem lethargic and will begin to act as if something is bothering them. If you see a snake bite happen or notice these symptoms, keep your dog calm and take themto a vet right away. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.”
Get Rattled has partnered withFriends of Western Gateway Dog Park to host a Rattlesnake Avoidance Training Clinic in Penn Valley on April 30, 2016 and area pet owners are highly encouraged to take part.Appointments are scheduledby pre-paid reservations between 9:00am to 3:00pm with sessions lasting between 10to 30 minuteseach. The cost is $85.00 per dog. (Current members of Friends of Western Gateway Dog Park will receive a $10.00 discount.) Refresher training for dogs who have previously gone through this program with Get Rattled is $60.00. Any and all proceeds collected above costwill help to continue improvements and ongoing maintenance at Western Gateway Dog Park.
The clinic does require the use of a remote training collar that will be customized to fit each dog. Please read the registration form carefully. While no dog training is guaranteed, this clinic will help provide local dog owners extra assurance and peace of mind this summer that their dogs will avoid dangerous rattlesnake encounters, protecting their health, and their families from suffering the pain and medical costs of a rattlesnake bite.
For more information,including the exact location of the training sessions,please visit their website at: westerngatewaydogpark.organd click on “upcoming events”. Registration forms can be printed directly from the website, or they maybe picked up at the Dog Park and at some of the following locations: local pet supply stores, veterinary clinics and dog trainers. If you have further questions, contact Jeri Stone,President of Friends of Western Gateway Dog Park at 530-432-4949.
The next dog obedience training class with S&S Boarding and Training will be scheduled at the dog park in March 2016. Dates will be posted here ASAP, as well as on our facebook page and the bulletin board. You can also contact them directly at 530-432-3086 with any questions you may have.
Puppy Love: Nevada Union and Bear River FFA students raising guide dogs for the blind
Nevada Union and Bear River high schools have welcomed some furry, four-legged students onto campus this school year — a group of part-Labrador, part-golden retriever dogs.
Students in each school’s Future Farmers of America program are volunteering with Guide Dogs for the Blind, a California-based nonprofit, to raise companion dogs for the visually impaired.
“We get them as our best friends, and then we hand them off and they help someone for the rest of their lives,” said Paige Zolldan, a junior at Bear River.
Both FFA puppy-raising groups started last school year as an opportunity for students to participate in a long-term agriculture- or animal-related project outside of the classroom, one component of the larger FFA program.
There are around 10 students in the Nevada Union FFA puppy-raising group, four of whom are currently raising dogs. The Bear River FFA puppy-raising group has about eight students, six of whom are raising dogs.
“Knowing that dog just might give someone without eyes a way to see the world, that is the reward. That’s why we do it.”Nicole Darbya sophomore at Nevada Union
Many of the group’s current members were immediately interested when they heard about the Guide Dogs for the Blind opportunity.
“You get to bring a dog everywhere with you,” said Arabelle Wahl, a senior at Nevada Union Technical High School. “Who wouldn’t be excited?”
But the puppy-raising program requires a serious commitment from the students, who are typically paired with a puppy when the animal is around 8 weeks old and take care of the dog for anywhere from 12-15 months. As puppy-raisers, the students are mainly responsible for socializing their animal, as well as teaching it basic commands and good house manners. The FFA students’ efforts help prepare the animals to enter Guide Dogs for the Blind’s formal training program at the nonprofit’s San Rafael campus. There, the animals learn more specific skills that allow them to function as a guide dog, including how to lead someone in a straight line and how to spot and stop for overhead obstacles.
If the animals graduate from the training, they’re then matched with blind or low-vision people through the United States and Canada.
Guide Dogs for the Blind, which was founded in 1942, has more than 2,000 puppy-raisers spread throughout 10 Western states. Schools are ideal environments for the puppies to learn some of the basic skills and confidence they need before they head into training, said Celeste Butrym, field representative for Guide Dogs for the Blind in Northern California.
“So many things happen at school,” Butrym said. “There’s crowds, there’s buses, there’s all kinds of noise.”
But the dogs don’t just accompany their raisers to class; they are the students’ around-the-clock companions. While some of the group members who are not currently raising puppies are available to step in and act as “puppy-sitters” if the raiser isn’t able to take their dog to a particular event or class, the majority of the responsibility for taking care of the animal falls to its raiser.
That means students often have to sacrifice their free time or their social lives to put their dog’s needs first, said Lisa McClelland, the leader of the Nevada Union puppy-raising group. McClelland, an instructional aide at Pleasant Valley Elementary School, has raised more than 30 puppies over 23 years for Guide Dogs for the Blind.
“They’ve had to give up maybe going to a football game, or for some of them, going to a friend’s house,” McClelland said. “They’re very passionate about wanting to raise the guide dogs.”
The students have also had to work through some of the challenges that are inevitable when raising a puppy. Many endured sleepless nights as the animals acclimated to their new homes; several shared stories of potty-training accidents that their dogs had in various spots on campus.
Puppy-raisers are responsible for figuring out a way to help the animal through the situation that is hampering its development, said Sam Travis, a junior at Nevada Union.
“You really get to know your dog and you learn all their different cues and what you need to look out for,” Travis said.
But there’s at least one challenge that has proved difficult to overcome for many of the students as they navigate the halls with their furry friends.
“When you’re late to class, everybody wants to pet your dog,” Wahl said.
The animals have been warmly welcomed at both high school campuses. They possess student identification cards bearing their pictures, and will claim spots in the schools’ yearbooks.
Bear River Principal Amy Besler said having the dogs on campus has had a positive effect on school culture.
“There’s something about having these adorable puppies on campus that just changes the whole dynamic,” Besler said. “When you’re in the room, and there’s that puppy there, it just makes you feel happier.”
Though the students have bonded with their dogs, they said their ultimate goal is to do everything they can to help their puppies fulfill the mission of Guide Dogs for the Blind.
They understand the broader impact their participation in the program will have for someone else, said Nicole Darby, a sophomore at Nevada Union.
“Knowing that dog just might give someone without eyes a way to see the world, that is the reward,” Darby said. “That’s why we do it.”
Police dogs are an integral part of the law enforcement system even if we do not see them. In fact, K-9 units are used at the federal, state and local levels. A K-9 unit is composed of the police dog and the handler who is carefully chosen to work with the dog. A police dog’s career typically lasts about 6 years, and the handler must be dedicated to working with the dog for its entire career.
German Shepherds have been trusted police dogs over the years because of their intelligence, their trainability, their protection and their sense of smell. Another dog making an appearance as a police dog is the Belgian Malinois. This dog has many of the same characteristics of the German Shepherd, but is thought to be more reactive than the German Shepherd. Some agencies have begun to prefer the Belgian Malinois. Pit bulls are also starting to be used.
Because German Shepherd dogs are a popular pet in the United States, their natural aggressive and protective qualities have been diminished through breeding. Other breeds used for task specifics jobs include Giant Schnauzers, Blood Hounds, Rottweilers, Boxers and Doberman Pinschers.
Police dogs assist in the day-to-day work of a police officer; however, some dogs have specific training. There are search and rescue dogs that help to locate and find missing people or objects. There are cadaver dogs that are used to locate decaying bodies, their sense of smell so strong they can smell a cadaver underneath the water. Detection dogs and explosive searching dogs can locate drugs and explosives. Arson dogs can smell trances of accelerants that were used to start a fire.
Regardless of the specific task that the dog is trained for, all dogs must begin with basic obedience training. It is vital that a police dog obeys the commands of its handler above all else. After obedience training the dog is involved in agility and endurance training, which helps prepare the dog for obstacles it may encounter in a city or working environment. Finally, the dog is trained for its specific task like those mentioned above.
With a sense of smell 50 times stronger than a human’s sense of smell, a police dog is able to complete tasks that might be too dangerous or too time consuming for other police officers. Because of these great attributes, it is no surprise that a police dog is considered a member of the force.
The Nevada City Police Department has recently acquired a German Shepherd, Rudiger, its first K9 officer! We hope he will be the first of many dogs trained by the police to protect the officers and assist in drug detection throughout Western Nevada County. Rudiger’s handler, officer Scott Goin, said that specialized training of every police dog costs $300 a month. You can help support the K9 program by sending checks in any amount payable to the Sean M. Walsh Foundation to: Western Nevada County K9 Association, PO Box 2174, Nevada City, CA 95959. Your donations are tax-deductible.
Lastly, we want to extend a special thank you to Dr. Susan Murphy at Four Paws Animal Clinic in Nevada City for donating free medical services for Rudiger’s future care. This is a very generous gift to the police department and our community.
Anyone who’s heard it will recognize the dry, hacking, something’s-stuck-in-my-throat cough that won’t quit. It’s the signature symptom of canine infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as Bordetellosis, Bordetella, and most commonly as kennel cough. Whatever you call it, tracheobronchitis is one of the world’s most widespread canine diseases.
Like the common cold in humans, tracheobronchitis is highly contagious, rarely fatal, and runs its course in a few days. Fortunately, there are several ways to help make canine patients more comfortable, speed recovery, and prevent future infections.
Tracheobronchitis is called kennel cough because of its association with boarding kennels, animal shelters, veterinary waiting rooms, grooming salons, and other areas where dogs congregate in close quarters. It can strike dogs of any age but is most common in puppies, whose immune systems are still developing, and adult dogs with conditions that impair immune function.
Although often referred to as Bordetella, tracheobronchitis isn’t caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria alone. Several infectious agents contribute to the condition, primarily parainfluenza. Other viruses that may be involved include canine adenovirus, reovirus, and the canine herpes virus.
When Bordetella and parainfluenza combine to cause tracheobronchitis, symptoms appear within a week of exposure (usually after three to four days) and continue for about 10 days. Even after symptoms disappear, the recovering patient remains contagious, shedding Bordetella bacteria for up to 14 weeks.
In mild cases, infected dogs remain active and alert, with good appetite. In more severe cases, symptoms may progress toward pneumonia and include lethargy, fever, and a loss of appetite.
The main symptom of tracheobron-chitis—its cough—has been described as unproductive, throat-clearing, goose-honking, hacking, dry, harsh, gut-wrenching, gagging, wheezing, and croup-like, not to mention annoying to the dogs who can’t stop coughing and the humans they live with. Vigorous exercise triggers it, but even resting dogs may cough every few minutes throughout the day.
The cough is caused by irritation and damage to the lining of the trachea and upper bronchi. In the trachea, exposed nerve endings are aggravated by the passage of air over damaged tissue as the dog inhales and exhales.
Just as the virus that causes the common cold is carried by water vapor, dust, and air, the bacteria and viruses that cause tracheobronchitis spread in all directions. When inhaled by a susceptible dog, they attach to the lining of upper airway passages whose warm, moist conditions allow them to reproduce and eventually damage the cells they infect.
Risk factors Some people catch frequent colds and others never get sick. Some dogs are susceptible to tracheobronchitis and others never get it, even after repeated exposure.
According to Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, Educational Director of VeterinaryPartner.com, “The normal respiratory tract has substantial safeguards against invading infectious agents. The most important of these is probably what is called the mucocillary escalator.”
Cilia are tiny hairlike structures that protrude from the cells that line the respiratory tract. They are covered with a protective coat of mucus, and they beat in a coordinated fashion. As viruses, bacteria, and other debris become trapped in the sticky mucus, the cilia move everything up (hence the escalator analogy) toward the throat, where it can be coughed up or swallowed.
Conditions that damage the mucocillary escalator include shipping stress, crowding stress, heavy dust exposure, exposure to cigarette smoke, viruses, and poor ventilation. “Without this protective mechanism,” says Dr. Brooks, “invading bacteria, especially Bordetella bronchiseptica, may simply march down the airways unimpeded.”
Poorly ventilated, crowded conditions increase the odds of contracting tracheobronchitis, but dogs can catch the disease almost anywhere. All they need is exposure to a dog who has an active infection or is recovering from one—or to the viruses and bacteria an infected dog left behind.
Treatment Most veterinarians treat tracheobronchitis the way physicians treat the common cold. They let it run its course while keeping the patient comfortable. Some veterinarians routinely prescribe antibiotics, which are effective against bacteria, thus addressing part of the infection. But because antibiotics have no effect on viruses, this treatment is not a cure, and most vets save antibiotics for more serious conditions, such as the secondary infections that sometimes develop in dogs with tracheobronchitis.
For partial relief of symptoms and to help the dog feel more comfortable, minor cases are often treated with nonprescription cough remedies such as Robitussin (dextromethorphan). Recommended for chronic, dry, unproductive coughing, Robitussin should not be used for moist or productive coughs. Products that contain acetaminophen or caffeine should not be given to dogs.
Prescription cough suppressants and most antibiotics are reserved for cases in which a fever develops, symptoms last longer than a few days, or the cough becomes more severe.
It might be something else Tracheobronchitis usually clears up on its own without complications. If it doesn’t, there may be a secondary bacterial infection (such as pneumonia), or the problem may be due to something entirely else entirely. Dogs cough for many reasons.
For example, dogs can create their own tracheal irritation by pulling on the leash. A body harness with a leash attachment in front of the chest or on the back instead of the collar can prevent this cough-inducing problem.
Dogs with heart disease, including congestive heart failure and heartworm infestations, often cough after exercise or excitement. Heartworm disease is endemic in some parts of the country, and less common in others, but is a possibility in any area where mosquitoes are common. Congestive heart failure, which occurs when the heart’s valves leak, is most common in middle-aged or older dogs, including small breeds.
Coughs due to tracheal collapse can be triggered by drinking water.
Diseases of the larynx or esophagus can cause coughing after eating. A damaged larynx may not close properly, allowing swallowed food to enter the trachea. Paralysis of the larynx is more common in large breed dogs.
An abnormally dilated esophagus may allow food to pool, then pass back up to the mouth and down into the lungs, causing infection and coughing. Tracheal collapse is most common in middle-aged and older, overweight small-breed dogs.
The cough resulting from tracheobronchitis is usually dry. A moist cough sounds that way because of accumulated fluid in the lungs or airways. The fluid can be water, blood, or pus. Hunting dogs and dogs who spend most of their time outdoors may inhale seeds, pollen, grasses, or other foreign matter that travels through the nose to the lung, causing pyothorax, an infection that produces a large amount of pus.
Dogs of any age can develop allergic lung disease from exposure to dust, pollen, or smoke.
While lung cancer is unusual in dogs, it too can cause coughing. Short-nosed breeds exposed to second-hand smoke and any dog exposed to asbestos may be at risk.
Pneumonia and other secondary bacterial infections can develop in pet store puppies with tracheobronchitis and in older dogs with weak immune systems or other illnesses.
Any dog who doesn’t recover quickly from what appears to be tracheobronchitis should receive a thorough veterinary exam. To help your veterinarian reach an accurate diagnosis, keep track of your dog’s symptoms, noting on a calendar or notebook the date of each symptom and its description.
It’s not the flu Three years ago, canine flu seemed to be an epidemic affecting dogs of every description (see “Fending Off the Flu,” Whole Dog Journal, December 2005).
The cough produced by the canine flu virus is soft and moist, and it’s usually accompanied by a high fever and nasal discharge, none of which are symptoms of tracheobronchitis.
Fortunately, of the strategies that help prevent and treat tracheobronchitis work for canine flu as well as other infectious diseases. The herbs, supplements, and treatments described here can help your dog stay healthy when exposed to many different viruses and bacteria.
Vaccination Most boarding facilities require proof of Bordetella vaccination for dogs who will be visiting. However, because there are many strains of Bordetella, and because no vaccine protects every patient, some immunized dogs contract tracheobronchitis despite being vaccinated. Veterinary recommendations range from vaccinating every four months to not at all.
“There are two kinds of Bordetella vaccine,” says Stacey Hershman, DVM, a holistic veterinarian in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. “The intranasal vaccine is highly effective and very safe since it is not systemic but goes down the nose into the throat. I do not recommend the injectable vaccine since it can cause negative side effects like lethargy, fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.
“I never vaccinate animals more than once a year for kennel cough, and then only if they are going to a boarding kennel. Kennel cough is not fatal in adult dogs, who usually board, therefore it would be over-vaccinating in my opinion to do it more than once a year. Healthy, strong immune systems are resistant and do not catch it, which is another reason not to vaccinate unless the dog is going to a kennel that requires it.”
No matter what your dog’s vaccination status, a few natural preventives can’t hurt, especially whenever your dog is exposed to dogs with active or recent infections.
Honey and coconut oil The single treatment for tracheobronchitis that conventional veterinarians, holistic vets, and caregivers of every description agree on is honey. Honey soothes the throat, but it does far more than that.
All honey has disinfecting properties. One of the most expensive honeys sold in the United States and around the world is manuka honey from New Zealand, where bees harvest nectar from the manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium). Twenty years of research at the University of Waikato show that manuka honey has impressive antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties. While all honeys share these properties, they are especially pronounced in manuka honey.
Most dogs enjoy honey’s sweet taste, so it’s easy to feed from a spoon or, if the honey is thick, you can roll it into a treat-sized ball. Honey can be fed by itself, mixed with powdered herbs for additional benefit, or added to herbal teas that double as cough syrups.
There is no specific recommended dose, as both larger and smaller doses are safe and effective, but for most dogs ½ to 1 teaspoon of honey three or four times per day works well.
In recent years, coconut oil has become a popular supplement for people and pets. Because its medium-chain fatty acids kill harmful bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi, and parasites, its advocates call it an all-purpose infection fighter. As coconut oil expert and book author Bruce Fife, ND, explains, “Taking coconut oil daily is like a daily inoculation. It will help prevent your dog from becoming infected.”
The recommended maintenance dose is 1 teaspoon coconut oil per 10 pounds of body weight per day in divided doses, always starting with smaller amounts and increasing gradually. When your dog has been exposed to tracheobronchitis or any other infection, the dose can be doubled. The only adverse effects of a too-high dose of coconut oil are loose, greasy stools and a temporary feeling of fatigue (thought to result from detoxification). Most dogs adjust easily to a coconut oil regimen, and because they’re usually fond of the taste, coconut oil can be fed from a spoon or added to your dog’s food.
Honey and coconut oil work well together. Combine these two infection fighters for both the treatment and prevention of tracheobronchitis and other contagious diseases.
Herbs for tracheobronchitis Most natural foods markets and pet supply stores sell herbal products that help coughing dogs.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra or G. uralensis) is a favorite of herbalist Juliette de Bairacli Levy. In her book The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat, which describes her “Natural Rearing” approach to pet care, Levy recommends making a strong infusion (steeped tea) by combining 1 tablespoon dried licorice root with 2 cups cold water, bringing it to a boil, removing it from heat, and letting it stand until room temperature. Add 1 teaspoon honey to each tablespoon of licorice tea and give 2 tablespoons to the dog before meals. Small dogs and puppies can take less and large dogs more, but precise measurements aren’t necessary. Refrigerate leftover tea for up to five days.
Levy also recommends as cough remedies teas made of sage leaves (Salvia officinalis), blackberry leaves (Rubus spp.), elder blossom (Sambucus nigra), and thyme (Thymus vulgaris). “Sage is the best,” she writes.
Apitherapy Honey Wild Cherry Bark Syrup from Honey Gardens in Vermont, sold in natural foods markets, contains raw honey, apple cider vinegar, wild cherry bark (Prunus virginiana or P. serotina), elecampane root (Inula helenium), propolis (a bee product), rosehips (Rosa spp.), ginger root (Zingiber officinale), licorice root, slippery elm bark (Ulmus fulva), and the essential oils of lemon, peppermint, and eucalyptus.
All of these ingredients are traditionally used to support upper respiratory health and soothe sore throats. The human adult dose is 1 teaspoon every other hour while symptoms persist. Adjust the dose for your dog’s weight, and to make the product more palatable, try mixing it with honey and/or coconut oil or add it to a small amount of interesting food.
Kennel-Koff, an herbal product from Amber Technology, contains infection-fighting olive leaf (Olea Europaea), mustard seed (Brassica spp.), black seed (Nigella sativa), and pau d’arco (Tabebuia impetiginosa).
Described as an antimicrobial that aids upper respiratory infections, Kennel-Koff is given orally four times per day for up to 10 days. The recommended dose for most dogs, based on weight, is 15 drops at a time. According to the manufacturer, this product is designed to stimulate immunity, rid the lungs of congestion, kill viruses and bacteria, soothe digestion, rid the body of free radicals, and protect pets who are exposed to illness.
Australian herbalist Robert McDowell’s favorite treatment for tracheobronchitis is a blend of rosehips, garlic (Allium sativum), fenugreek (Trigonella fornum), marshmallow, elecampane, coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), kelp (Laminaria digitata), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and mullein (Verbascum thapsus), which he makes in a base of apple cider vinegar.
“All this sounds like a lot,” he says, “but the old-fashioned way of treating chest and respiratory infections works well. These herbs provide important minerals and vitamin C, and they act as healing tonics, expectorants, and lymphatic supplements. The result is an herbal mix that gets rid of the cough, and by continuing for several weeks after the cough has gone, it builds up the immunity. I recommend that it be kept on hand and given to the whole kennel at any signs of cough showing up, at which time all dogs should be given a short course. One dog recovered quickly when given this blend after six prescriptions for antibiotics failed.”
Juliette de Baircli Levy’s famous Natural Rearing (NR) Herbal Compounds tablets contain garlic, rue (Ruta graveolens), sage, thyme, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), and vegetable charcoal.
Levy recommends giving dogs 3 to 6 tablets daily to help fight and prevent disease. “These tablets maintain health and promote a cure in the sick,” she explains. “Use them daily for prevention, especially before and after your animal is exposed to any public place where other animals have been.”
Holistic health consultant Marina Zacharias recommends Bioprin, a Chinese blend of 21 herbs.
“This formula is the best for any type of viral infection,” she says, “as well as helping the overall immune system, and it acts like a natural anti-inflammatory. Combined with the kennel cough nosode (a homeopathic remedy designed to help increase the body’s defense against the infection), Bioprin usually brings quick relief, often within one to three days.
“Most of the people I work with have multiple-dog households, so we give the remedies to everyone preventatively whenever we know there has been exposure or when one of the household members has contracted the infection. The results are great as no one else in the house gets sick.”
Clearing the air When Faith Thanas, an aromatherapist who lives in Leicester, Massachusetts, adopted a Doberman Pinscher from Louisiana one year after Hurricane Katrina, Sasha arrived in a van carrying 20 rescued dogs. A few days later, she started coughing.
To help soothe Sasha’s throat, Thanas mixed a blend of essential oils to spray in the air around the dog. She started with Ravensare (Cinnamonum camphora), one of the “must have” essential oils listed by Kristen Leigh Bell in her book Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals. As Bell explains, this gentle and tolerable antiviral, antibacterial essential oil supports the immune system and has tonifying effects.
Thanas then added Eucalyptus radiata, the gentlest of the many eucalyptus varieties available. It is known for its antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and expectorant properties. Bell writes, “Due to its gentleness, it is very appropriate for use in blends for animals for congestion, and it makes an excellent room air cleaner, deodorizer, and flea repellent.”
Eucalyptus globulus, the next ingredient, is the eucalyptus commonly found in chest rubs, cough drops, and cough syrups. It has a fresh antiseptic fragrance and, when inhaled, acts as a decongestant.
Thanas added Spike Lavender (Lavendula latifolia) for its powerful antibacterial properties.
After diluting the essential oils, Thanas used a spray bottle to mist the air around Sasha. “The results were instantaneous,” she recalls. “She stopped coughing, she was able to breathe, and she was so much more comfortable.”
Thanas wasted no time adding Cough Drop! to her AromaDog line of aromatherapy pet products. She describes it as an all-natural cough suppressant that works quickly, helps open breathing passages, acts as an expectorant (antitussive), soothes the chest and respiratory system (balsamic), reduces swelling (antihistamine), helps reduce excess mucus secretion (anticatarrh), and acts as an immune system stimulant.
“The bottle should be shaken well for at least three seconds before use,” she says.” Repeat the application every three hours. In households with other animals, or in boarding kennels, spraying the air, bedding, and other surfaces can help keep the illness from spreading.”
Another way to disperse essential oils into the air is with a diffuser. Aromatherapy supply companies, such as Aromatherapeutix, sell different models. A nebulizing diffuser consists of a nebulizer (glass receptacle) attached to the hose of a small air compressor. Drops of essential oil placed in the nebulizer are atomized into tiny droplets that are sprayed into the air.
Bell notes that disinfecting essential oils dispersed by a nebulizing diffuser effectively clean the air, deodorize the room, and help clear up and prevent contagious illnesses.
A new type of ultrasonic cold mist diffuser runs silently (unlike nebulizing diffusers with their noisy air compressors) and can be set for constant or intermittent dispersal. To use, simply fill the unit with water, add a few drops of essential oil, and turn it on. Buttons on the unit control the frequency and duration of misting. Simpler models, such as the SpaMist diffuser, run constantly. Ultrasonic diffusers have become popular accessories for aromatherapists and those who use essential oils.
Any blend of disinfecting essential oils, such as Ravensare, Eucalyptus radiata, or Spike Lavender, can be dispersed into the air with a diffuser.
Canine nutritional consultant Linda Arndt has a favorite remedy for clearing the air and helping dogs recover from and avoid respiratory infections. The Nzymes product Ox-E-Drops (not to be confused with Oxy Drops, an eye drop from a different manufacturer) contains sodium clorite, which breaks down to form chlorine dioxide, a microbiocide.
To use in a warm steam vaporizer (an inexpensive appliance sold in pharmacies), mix 1 teaspoon Ox-E-Drops Concentrate with one gallon of water. For severe cases, use up to 1 tablespoon. In a small bathroom, other enclosed room, or in a crate covered by a sheet, direct the vapors toward the dog’s head, keeping the vaporizer far enough away so that its hot steam doesn’t pose a safety hazard.
“Allow your pet to breathe the vapors for 15 to 20 minutes each hour for four to five hours,” says Arndt. “Repeat the procedure for two to three days until symptoms improve.”
It’s in the water Ox-E-drops can be added to drinking water as well as spayed in the air. “Use 1 drop per 20 pounds of body weight, diluted in 1 to 3 teaspoons of water,” says Arndt, “and give this amount three times per day for all types of illness or respiratory problems.”
Faith Thanas at AromaDog created Lickity Spritzer, a blend of colloidal silver and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) hydrosol, to help keep dogs healthy while traveling as well as at home. Colloidal silver, a suspension of submicroscopic metallic silver particles in a colloidal base, is promoted as an all-purpose disinfectant and infection-fighter.
In her book Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy, Suzanne Catty writes that the hydrosol (distilled flower water) of lemon balm makes a good prophylactic in flu and allergy season and has both immune-stimulating and infection-fighting properties.
“Together,” says Thanas, “these two super-power ingredients knock out the potential for infection from bacteria, fungi, and viruses, stimulating the immune system and emotionally calming your pet. Lickity Spritzer purifies your pet’s yucky water bowl so it becomes a clean source of good health. This product is great for dogs or cats and multiple pet households.”
Special supplements According to San Diego veterinarian Stephen R. Blake, DVM, the most important defense against any infection, whether fungal, viral, or bacterial, is the gastrointestinal system.
Dr. Blake’s favorite supplement for immune support is bovine colostrum from New Zealand, where all cattle are pasture-fed and organically raised. Colostrum is the “first milk” a cow produces after giving birth, and it contains all the immune support a calf needs to avoid infection. Cows produce colostrum in greater quantities than their calves can consume, so the excess is collected for supplement use.
“I recommend a dose of 500 mg colostrum per 25 pounds of body weight once or twice a day, depending on the dog’s risk factor,” says Dr. Blake.
Other supplements that support the gastrointestinal tract include probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and other “friendly” or “beneficial” bacteria, which help make up the body’s first line of defense against viruses and other pathogens.
Probiotics are especially important for dogs who have been treated with antibiotics, as antibiotics destroy these beneficial microbes. Several probiotic supplements have been developed for dogs and are sold in pet supply stores or veterinary clinics. And don’t neglect vitamin C. Consider giving your dog 500 mg vitamin C three times per day, or half that amount for small dogs, in addition to the animal’s usual supplements for as long as the infection lasts.
The best defense Controlling your dog’s exposure to other animals is one way to help prevent tracheobronchitis, canine flu, and other contagious diseases. Another is to disinfect the air and surfaces around her.
These are commonsense precautions. But your dog’s best defense against infection is a strong immune system, which you can boost with nutrition, exercise, and supplements like those mentioned here. And if your dog ever contracts a respiratory infection, you’ll know how to use simple remedies to turn it around in record time.
C.J. Puotinen is a frequent Whole Dog Journal contributor and freelance writer living in New York. She is also author of The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care and many books on holistic health care and herbal remedies for humans.
Letting your dog run free without worrying about ticks invading their fur can give pet owners peace of mind. This common parasite can be found in a variety of places such as wooded forests, local dog parks, and your own backyard. Fortunately, the risks that a tick poses to your pet can be reduced through tick medications such as Frontline. There are also many natural remedies that some dog owners prefer over Frontline and other medications.
It’s important to check your dog’s fur every day for ticks when you come in from a walk, especially during the spring, summer and fall seasons. You can do this easily by running your fingers through their fur and feeling for any lumps or bumps. Ticks can live up to one year without a host, and they are known to survive throughout the year. This especially holds true throughout the warmer climates and areas where the winter season has been significantly mild over the past few years.
Benefits of Tick Medication
Since symptoms of tick-borne diseases can be challenging to detect and many pet owners don’t comprehend that their untreated dog may be suffering until it’s too late, you want to protect your dog with a tick medication. Joint stiffness or difficulty in moving can be caused by a variety of tick illnesses such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. It could also include loss of appetite, fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
Medications such as Frontline can protect your dog for up to one month. Not only is it veterinarian recommended, it’s also easy to use, quick acting, waterproof and side effect free. Tick medications contain active ingredients such as Fipronil and Methoprene, which disrupts the nervous system of the tick and prevents them from further growth. It also lessens your dog’s risk from these disease seeking parasites such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme’s disease, canine anaplasmosis and other skin infections.