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  • Smoking is damaging your pet’s health, researchers warn

    Smoking is damaging your pet’s health, researchers warn
    Written by Honor Whiteman (Medical News Today)
    Published: Monday 4 January 2016

    If you made a New Year’s resolution to stop smoking and are already struggling to stick to it, a new study may offer a further incentive: quitting the habit can benefit your pet’s health as well as your own.

    Pets in smoking households are at greater risk for weight gain, cell damage and some cancers, according to researchers.
    Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the US, accounting for around 1 in 5 deaths annually.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking causes around 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and women, and it is also a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and numerous other illnesses.

    But it is not only smokers themselves who are at risk of such conditions; since 1964, around 2.5 million non-smokers in the US have died from exposure to secondhand smoke.

    With this in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising that pets living in households where someone smokes are at greater risk for poor health.

    Previous research from Clare Knottenbelt, professor of small animal medicine and oncology at the University of Glasgow in the UK, and colleagues has shown that dogs living in a smoking household ingest a high amount of tobacco smoke.

    For this latest study – which is ongoing – the team set out to investigate how tobacco smoke exposure impacts the health of cats and dogs.

    Cats at greatest risk from smoke exposure
    Prof. Knottenbelt and colleagues analyzed the nicotine levels in the animals’ fur and looked at whether such levels were associated with any health problems. Additionally, they assessed the testicles of dogs following castration in order to identify any signs of cell damage.

    Compared with pets living in non-smoking households, the researchers found that those living in smoking households may be at greater risk of cell damage, some cancers and weight gain.

    Cats are most at risk, according to the researchers, because they ingest more smoke than dogs – regardless of whether or not they have access to outdoors. The team speculates that this may be down to the extensive self-grooming cats engage in, causing them to ingest more tobacco toxins.

    When analyzing the testicles of castrated dogs from smoking households, the researchers identified a gene that represents a sign of cell damage that is related to some cancers.

    Furthermore, they found that dogs that lived in smoking households gained more weight after being neutered than dogs from non-smoking households.

    Stopping smoking completely ‘best for pets’ health and well-being’
    However, the researchers also found that these risks reduced when owners smoked outside, therefore reducing the amount of smoke their pets ingested.

    While owners who reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked per day did reduce pets’ smoke exposure, it was not eliminated completely; cats from households that reduced their cigarette intake to less than 10 daily still had higher nicotine levels in their fur than those from non-smoking households.

    The team suggests that pets may even be at greater risk of health problems from smoke exposure than children in smoking households, noting that because pets are lower in height, they are more likely to ingest third-hand smoke – that is, tobacco chemicals present in carpets and other surfaces.

    While the research is ongoing, the team believes the results to date should act as a warning to smokers with pets. Prof. Knottenbelt says:

    “As well as the risk to the smoker, there is the danger of secondhand smoke to others. Pet owners often do not think about the impact that smoking could have on their pets.

    Whilst you can reduce the amount of smoke your pet is exposed to by smoking outdoors and by reducing the number of tobacco products smoked by the members of the household, stopping smoking completely is the best option for your pet’s future health and well-being.”

    So, the next time you get the urge to light up and break that New Year’s resolution, just spare a thought for the health of your four-legged friend.


    Dr Yin’s Top 10 Dog Training Tips

    By Dr Sophia Yin

    Have you ever gone to a dog training class or taken a private lesson and left with your head swimming? With so much information, the main messages can sometimes get lost among the more intricate details. Here are some take-home messages that I use to guide my every-day interaction with my patients as well as my own pets.

    1. Every interaction you have with the animal is a training session. So it’s important to be aware of what you may be doing to reward inappropriate behaviors throughout the day especially when you are not having planned training sessions.

    2. Animals care about your body language and actions more than your words. Consequently, you should focus on the messages your body is giving, pay attention to your pet’s response, and cut down on the words you use.

    3. Animals perform behaviors that have been reinforced. In order to change behavior it’s important to reinforce desired behaviors, but we also have to remove reinforcers or motivators for unwanted behaviors.

    4. Training is a skill like playing tennis, dancing or playing the piano. Little variations in how you move and on the timing of the movements and rewards make a big difference in whether you can communicate your intentions to your pet. If you’re not getting good results, find someone who can better instruct you on the intricacies of making the change.

    5. Positive reinforcement is not just about giving treats for good behavior, it’s about moving and performing the exercises in a manner and speed that make it fun. It’s also about using everything your pet likes or wants, to your advantage—toys, petting, attention, access to go outside or come in, fetch….. and more.

    6. The goal of training is to make behaving well fun for the pet. Dogs are more likely to behave well when good behavior is fun.

    7. The walk is not a time for your dog to blow you off and do his own thing, rather it’s a time for you to bond with your dog and have fun. Practice exercises during your walk where your dog focuses on you as if you’re playing games. The goal is that the walk becomes like an enjoyable conversation.

    8. Dogs, cats, horses and other pets need exercise every day. For dogs, walks provide not only exercise but they are crucial for continued socialization to people, new environments, and other pets.

    9. Throw your dog’s food bowl away. Animals in the wild spend hours searching for food. They are hardwired to enjoy this behavior and studies show that given a choice, all species studied prefer to work for their food once they know how to rather than getting it for free. The best way to use food as entertainment and enrichment for the pet is to use it in training and games when you’re home as this provides both food and structured interactions with you. You can also place food in toys and puzzles made specifically for such purposes of entertaining your pet.

    10. Make sure your pet is healthy and on a balanced diet. Dogs should have annual veterinary check-ups. For information on balanced diets, visit the American Society of Veterinary Nutritionists at http://www.acvn.org


    Jindos and urban life

    This is the third in a series of articles written by some of our volunteers, adopters, and fosters, in response to the idea that Jindos can only be truly happy living in the country/wide open spaces, where they can run free, chasing critters to their hearts content, never mind the fact that they might be annoying farm livestock into the bargain! ?
    If you have your own stories to share, please send them to us at info@twodogfarms.com, as we’d love to share them here and on our website, to help educate people that are new to the breed.
    Thank you!
    (by volunteer, Susan)

    “Toby, our Jindo mix (whose rescue was initiated by Two Dog Farms and carried out by A Passion for Paws) had failed his temperament test and was on the fast track for euthanasia. Transplanting him anywhere seemed like a good choice. When we brought him home, it was to a crowded beach community. I wondered if we could make this work.

    Our townhouse does not have a private yard. It does have lots of stairs, which he learned to navigate. He had been chained in the high desert, now he had to learn to walk on a leash. Outside, he was bombarded with people on bicycles, skateboards and roller blades. He was ambushed by runners and mentally ill homeless people. He encountered dogs, some of them friendly, some not so. To get to an off-leash dog park, he had to cross streets teeming with speeding cars, huge buses and roaring motorcycles.

    At first, our walks were a colossal struggle, a series of lunges at real and imagined danger. But Jindos are smart, adaptive dogs. Even older dogs like Toby can grow and change. Now he bounces up when I jingle his leash. Now he waits for the cue that a traffic light has changed, and seems unfazed by whizzing vehicles. Skateboards that sent him into paroxysms no longer interest him.

    Full disclosure: Toby will never be the perfect urban beach dude. He still lunges sometimes on the leash. Often, he is reacting to a squirrel, a flock of seagulls, or an unneutered dog, and sometimes we’re both surprised by someone coming up too fast and too close behind us. Would I rather have woods, streams and wildlife for Toby? Of course. Would I ever give up a Jindo because I live where I do? Never. Toby is happy here. He loves hanging out with us, the closer the better. For him and for us, family comes first.”

    Jindo in small spaces #2

    This is the second in a series of articles written by some of our adopters and fosters, in response to the idea that Jindos can only be truly happy living in the country/wide open spaces, where they can run free, chasing critters to their hearts content, never mind the fact that they might be annoying farm livestock into the bargain! 😉
    If you have your own stories to share, please send them to us at info@twodogfarms.com, as we’d love to share them here and on our website, to help educate people that are new to the breed.
    Thank you!
    (by adopter/foster/volunteer, Dee)

    “I started out as a foster for Dory and I mentioned up front that I live in a converted one car garage (in the city) that has about 250-280 sq. feet. I wasn’t concerned about the space — after all I didn’t expect he’d be here very long — but I wanted to make sure you felt it would be okay for Dory’s sake.
    I crate trained Dory right away so he’d be sequestered during the few times I left him alone in the apartment. The training took time and patience since he’d been left outside for about 5 years, 24/7, tied to a long lead but hadn’t lived indoors and hadn’t been given daily walks. To my delight he adjusted to indoor living overnight, as though he’d never lived outdoors.
    He has a nice comfy bed (the crate’s gone now) on which he sleeps during the day and two or three other spots where he has views of the outdoors. We take two 30 to 45 minute walks daily (shorter during rainy days), and a 15 to 20 minute play period around midday. When we’re inside he usually goes to his bed and curls up.
    He doesn’t whine to go outside; doesn’t dig at the door to get out.
    I work from home so we’re together almost 24/7 but when I have to leave him alone, he’s fine. We’ve been a pack for 3 years now and he’s fine with the space. When I move around the apartment in a hurry I use hand signals to show him where to move to so he’ll be out of my path. Before I got Dory, he lived in a big back yard for 5 years. A yard from which he repeatedly escaped, which I suspect is due to not being exercised and being left alone in a big back yard.

    Our first Jindo, Mr. BoJindo, lived with my daughter in a 650 sq. ft. apartment then moved with her to a 900 sq. ft. condo. He never needed a big back yard. He needed a human he could trust to exercise him regularly, feed him a healthy diet and give him consistent direction when in the house and during walks/hikes. He never needed a big house or back yard. He was happiest and most content when he was on a walk with his human.

    Jindos love to be with their humans if there’s a good relationship. The size of the dwelling or back yard is not the most important criteria.”

    Jindo in small spaces!


    This is the first in a series of articles written by some of our adopters and fosters, in response to the idea that Jindos can only be truly happy living in the country/wide open spaces, where they can run free, chasing critters to their hearts content, never mind the fact that they might be annoying farm livestock into the bargain! 😉
    If you have your own stories to share, please send them to us at info@twodogfarms.com, as we’d love to share them here and on our website, to help educate people that are new to the breed.
    Thank you!

    (by adopter/foster/volunteer, Marsha)

    “Some people are hesitant to adopt a Jindo because of the belief that Jindos need a lot of space to be happy and content.
    Well, I’m here to tell you that Jindos are great dogs no matter where you live. I’m writing this as I sit in my little two bedroom, two bath condo in a three story building while my dog, Fern, and my foster dog, Bear, nap nearby after our morning walk.
    Even though Jindos are traditionally a hunting breed with a reputation for wanderlust they are quite happy to spend their time indoors with their family.
    One key to a happy indoor pup is to be a firm confident pack leader. For me that means taking Fern to training classes where the emphasis is on positive reinforcement. The classes are just as much for me, to give me tools and ideas to use at home, as they are for Fern. We practice the skills at home, when we’re out and about, and on our daily walks.
    Walks – another key to happiness for indoor dogs. I make sure that we get out for morning and afternoon walks and shorter walks before bedtime – weather permitting. We also hang out and watch TV together in the evening.
    Fern has been a member of the family for almost two years and I couldn’t be happier. And she’s happy, too! I’d recommend a Jindo to anyone living in a small space.”

    Foster/Adopter Tips

    These are a few of the essentials we recommend to all fosters and adopters regarding their ‘new’ dog:

    1. The dog may not eat or drink properly for a few days
    2. The dog may not pee or poop normally for a few days
    3. The dog might not want to interact
    4. The dog may be vocal/jumpy with new or strange noises or sights
    5. The dog may need ‘alone time’ and a nice, quiet space to itself
    6. The dog may be a flight risk, so watch doors/gates etc – for safety’s sake, keep the dog on a double leash (i.e. two leashes, or a harness and a collar-leash) when you go out walking, and allow the dog to trail a leash around the home and yard so that if the dog gets into anything you don’t want it to, you can retrieve the dog quickly and without having to grab for a collar
    7. Keep the dog separate from any current dogs for several days (this is directed at fosters, particularly if this is a newly rescued dog from a shelter) until we can determine if the dog has any illnesses, and remember to wash your hands with Purel (or similar) after handling her so that you don’t transfer any germs to your current dog.
    If this is a new dog going to a forever home, keep the new dog separate at first so that you can take time introducing to resident dogs in a calm, structured fashion.

    Stay calm and consistent, be patient and firm, enforce rules from the start, and have fun!

    Why do we recommend double-leashing?
    1. We recommend either 2 neck leashes or 1 leash + 1 harness with a separate leash until the dog is truly settled. With 1 leash, you are pinning all your hopes on 1 small metal clasp, or one handle-loop. Yes, it’s a bit more work, but hunting for a dog all over town if the dog gets loose will take a lot longer.
    2. Do walk your dog near your house (i.e. directly out of and back to): it’s fine to bundle them into the car and take them to the park, but don’t just do that. They need to go on walks around the house to know how to get home in the event they ever get loose.
    3. No doubt many Jindos that get loose know how to get home: they come when they are ready. When we talk about poor recall, independence, selective hearing – etc, this is what you could be dealing with.
    Dogs that are spooked tend to move a distance over a series of days, and then stop running scared and settle into an area in which they feel secure. They can be recaptured more easily once they have stopped running.
    But remember, the breed is known for their desire to explore and wander should they be given the opportunity.
    It is our duty as responsible dog owners to ensure that they are kept safe!

    Poop #3

    (by Jana Rade)

    What’s in the Poop? (Part III)
    Continued from part II

    In the previous parts of our poop series we covered consistency and color. What else does one look at when examining a dog’s poop?

    What’s in the coating?

    Healthy poop should not have any coating on it.

    Sometimes you’ll find stool that is covered by a slimy substance – mucus. Mucus is produced in the intestine to lubricate and protect the gut lining but normally it isn’t noticeable on feces.

    Mucosal surfaces in the gut are part of the immune system, designed to detect and kill pathogenic organisms that may be trying to make their way through the gut lining.

    When the large intestine isn’t happy and battling parasites, bacterial overgrowth, food allergy or intolerance, or even tumors (basically anything that irritates or inflames the gut wall), it can result in an increased production of mucus, which then becomes apparent on the stool. Even stress can cause mucus-coated stools.

    One or two slimy stools don’t warrant rushing to a vet.

    However, if this becomes a regular occurrence, or it is combined with other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain, the situation in the gut has gotten out of control and it’s important to have your dog seen by a vet.

    What’s in the content?

    Just like with vomit, the contents of your dog stools can sometimes provide an inkling as to what may have upset your dog’s digestive system.

    Pieces of plastic, toys and other non-food items, tell you that your dog ate stuff that was not intended to be eaten, which could be behind the problem. One question left unanswered, however, is whether all the foreign material has passed or some still remains within the digestive tract.

    If you find bits of undigested food, it’s either a reflection on the food or your dog’s ability to digest what they eat.

    Things like pieces of raw carrots can appear in the stools in more or less pristine shape. Dogs are not designed to digest chunks of raw vegetables. Once I tried giving my dog a freeze dried raw food with chickpeas in it. Chickpeas are nutritious and seemed like a good ingredient. However, the chickpea grit came out exactly the same as it went in. Clearly, there wasn’t much nutritional benefit to be gained from feeding something that just goes through unchanged.

    If food that dogs should normally digest well comes out untouched, then you have a serious problem on your hands.

    If your dog’s stools look greasy, you might be looking at a condition that prevents the intestinal tract from absorbing nutrients normally (malabsorption).

    What’s in the smell?

    Poop does not smell like roses. It’s supposed to be stinky. But some abnormal smells are an indication of a problem.

    Food-like, or smelling of sour milk — suggests rapid transit, malabsorption and/or irritation of the bowel; it can be a sign of overfeeding, particularly in puppies

    Putrid smelling — suggests possible intestinal infection

    Rancid smell — might indicate improper digestion

    One bad poop, no bad poop

    Bad poops happen, particularly since dogs tend to eat all kinds of things some of which are not meant to be eaten. If my dogs get a bad poop, I watch for other signs of a problem such as changes in appetite, drinking, vomiting, lethargy or anything else that seems off. If the dogs look fine and the next poop is the way it should be, I just file the event in the back of my mind (and in Cookie’s case on her chart).

    If it develops into diarrhea, I generally give it 24 hours to resolve. If it doesn’t, or if it becomes severe, or accompanied by other signs mentioned above, I see a vet.

    There are a number of things that affect stool quality and diet is definitely one of them. In an otherwise healthy dog, it can even be as simple as determining the right amount of dietary fiber for that individual. This can be quite a balancing act, particularly in large breed dogs. But before you make any assumptions and start playing with your dog’s diet, see a vet to make sure you KNOW what you’re dealing with.

    Don’t forget the sample

    Your vet can get a lot more information from your dog’s poop than you ever could. Not only do they evaluate all the above aspects, they can further analyze it and take a detailed look at what’s in the poop that is hidden from view. (a microscopic fecal analysis)

    If you have any concerns, bring a poop sample with you.

    Just like with urine sample, the fresher the better.

    As always, understanding what poop should or should not look like is important to knowing when you should see a vet. If you do notice consistent abnormalities, see your vet sooner rather than later. It might save you headaches down the road.


    Poop #2

    (by Jana Rade)

    What’s in the Poop? (Part II – Color)
    Continued from part I

    Healthy poop is typically brown.

    What makes poop brown is bile, a fluid released from the gallbladder that aids in the digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins and helps eliminate certain waste products from the body.

    There can be some variation in color depending on what your dog ate, particularly when you’re feeding a variety of foods. Some manufactured diets will make dogs produce what might otherwise be considered abnormal stool (like the extremely light feces that are formed when dogs eat a prescription, soy-based, hydrolyzed diet), but if your dog is consistently on one type of food, you’ll get a feel for what’s normal for them.

    Unless your dog just ate a box of crayons (yes, it can happen, it happened with Roxy), poop that is any color other than shades of brown is often a red flag that something is wrong.

    Changes in color usually go hand in hand with changes in consistency.
    Pale or clay-colored stools (acholia) can develop as a result of gallbladder, liver, or pancreatic disease.

    For example, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) may result in clay-colored diarrhea, caused by the pancreas being unable to produce the enzymes needed to digest food and inflammation and swelling blocking the passage of bile. Pale stools can indicate a lack of bile production or flow, suggesting liver and/or gallbladder disease.

    Orange stools can be seen when a dog’s biliary system is blocked or when his or her blood cells are rupturing within the circulatory system.

    Yellow or greenish stools are sometimes produced when material is passing through the intestinal tract more quickly than normal . It can be seen with Giardia, intestinal parasites or infections, and many other conditions.

    Black, tarry stool (melena) signifies bleeding in the upper digestive tract or respiratory tract (with the blood being coughed up and swallowed). The black, tarry appearance is due to the presence of digested blood.

    Potential causes range from GI ulcers, trauma, foreign bodies, infections, tumors, blood clotting disorders, kidney failure and more.

    Bright red streaks/bloody stool (hematochezia) indicate bleeding in the lower GI tract and can be caused by enteritis (inflammation or infection of the small intestine), colitis (inflammation or infection of the colon/large intestine) or conditions affecting the anus or anal glands.

    Jasmine sometimes got blood in her stool when her IBD was acting up. Enteritis and colitis can be caused by IBD, intestinal parasites, infections, foreign bodies, stress, and more.

    Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) is a common cause of bloody diarrhea in dogs. This is a serious condition that can occur very quickly and be fatal if left untreated.

    Bloody diarrhea in puppies could mean the dreaded Parvo, particularly if your pup is also vomiting and lethargic. In older dogs it could be sign of cancer.

    Bright green stools could mean that your dog ate certain types of rat poison (the green dye is added to aid in its identification). This means an immediate trip to a vet.

    Polka dot stools – if you find rice-like specks or spaghetti-like strands, you’re probably looking at worms.

    Stay tuned for more poop talk.