Monday, October 31, 2011

Onset of Winter: Scratch, Scratch Scratch!

We turned on the heat this morning and for both us and our pets that's going to produce some dry skin. There are many reasons why your dog or cat might be scratching: fleas, ticks, allergies, other skin diseases, fungus or simple dry skin can get pets itchy. Once the scratching begins it can cause secondary problems like hot spots and lick granulomas. 

We have seen many customers recently who are troubled by fleas. There seems to be a fall "bloom" of these nasty little critters, so it your pet is driving you crazy with the thump, thump, thump of constant scratching, get in close and make sure it's not a flea problem. The easiest place to spot a flea in on the belly where hair is sparse. Watch for little red bumps or small flecks of black "flea dirt" (actually flea poop) as well as the actual fleas scuttling away through the fur. We've heard dozens and dozens of customers complain that they have their dog or cat on Frontline or Advantix and the fleas just keep returning. Our veterinarian is seeing the same problems and recommends treating pets more often. Consult with your vet if you're using a flea/tick prevention product but still getting fleas. 

Diagnosing and treating skin problems is a complicated affair so once you've ruled out fleas you might want to follow the regimen recommended for dry skin. If the scratching clears up, voila, you're done. If not, there's nothing harmful in the steps you'd take for treating dry skin. From our friends at here are 5 tips for combating dry skin for dogs. The recommendation for cats is basically the same: 

1. Bathe your dog as little as needed to keep its coat clean. 
2. Brush your dog often to remove dead hair and dander. 
3. If bathing is necessary, use a moisturizing shampoo made for dogs. Their pH is different from ours, so don’t be tempted to use a human shampoo- it is much to harsh for their skin. 
4. Follow a bath when necessary with a moisturizing rinse made for dogs and their special needs. 
5. Don’t forget that healthy hair and skin comes from within. Use a good quality, name brand food and consult with a veterinarian about the addition of fatty acid supplements which can make for healthier, glossier hair.

 At Aussie Pet Mobile, we carry several medicated shampoos that are good for dry skin and other skin conditions, such as oatmeal and lavender shampoos and Epi-Soothe shampoo and conditioner by Virbac, which is prescribed by veterinarians for dry, itchy skin. We've been successful getting several customers' skin to calm down using Epi-Soothe. If your pet does get a hot spot, there are numerous products on the market that you can spray or rub onto the distressed area to stop that itch. Some are cortisone based and others have herbal ingredients such as mint or tea tree oil that are anti-itch. 

You might also try the hold home remedy to put a kettle of water on the stove to humidify the air. If you throw some cinnamon in it you've got dry skin treatment and holiday cheer all rolled together in one.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Puppy Up!

In 2008 Luke Robinson and his two dogs Murphy and Hudson walked 2,000 miles from Austin TX to Boston to raise awareness about canine cancer. Luke had lost his beloved dog Malcolm to cancer and promised to dedicate his life to raising awareness and funding for canine cancer and comparative oncology.  Luke had a vision that if 2 dogs could walk 2,000 miles, 2 million dogs could walk 2 miles. The 2 Million Dogs Foundation and walk is the grass roots campaign that resulted and 2011 is its inaugural year. 

Cancer is a big problem in pets. According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation it affects one in three dogs and is the cause of nearly half the deaths in dogs older than 10. It's also similar to cancers found in humans and the field of comparative oncology relies on a pet-people partnership to research causes and treatments. 

From the Puppy Up! web site, learn the 10 L's of canine cancer:

  • Lumps
    Not all lumps and bumps are cancerous in dogs. There are sebaceous cysts, lipomas, and warts all of which are benign but if you detect a growth on your dog it’s important to have it checked out by a veterinarian and if warranted, aspirated and biopsied.
  • Lesions
    Scratches and abscesses are not uncommon for the normal, active dog but the sores that don’t heal can be of concern.
  • Lameness
    Bone cancer is typically found in larger breed dogs like Great Danes, Bernese Mountain dogs, Rottweilers, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, and Great Pyrenees and the primary early indication is prolonged limping or favoring a limb or side. Other types of cancers can also cause persistent lameness.
  • Appetite Loss
    If your dog shows no interest in eating or their daily consumption has declined for several days, take them to a vet.
  • Lethargy
    Tiring out easily, unwillingness to exercise and loss of interest in normal daily activities can be an early sign of cancer.
  • Weight Loss
    Not to be confused with loss of appetite. Cachexia, or emaciation, is often associated with cancer and can occur even if your dog is still eating normally. So if your dog is inexplicably losing weight, consult a veterinarian.
  • Loud Odor
    A very strong and offensive smell can sometimes be a byproduct of tumors in the mouth and nasal cavity.
  • Loss of Normal Body Functions
    Dogs having difficulty voiding or defecation or unusual urine or feces should be looked at.
  • Bleeding or Bloody Discharge
    Blood present in vomit, stool, and nasal discharge are cause for serious concern and although not always telltale signs of cancer, your dog should be examined as soon as possible.
  • Labored Breathing
    Abnormal respiration or respiratory distress can be a symptom of cancers in dogs.

Check your dog often for lumps and ask your groomer to report anything they find. We touch every part of your dog during a groom and can assist you in keeping an eye out for any suspicious lumps or lesions.

Aussie Pet Mobile will be walking on Nov 6th in Plymouth in honor of our beloved Lucky, who died this fall. No sweeter dog ever lived. If you'd like to join us, post on our Facebook page and we'll figure out logistics.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fungus Among Us

The recent rains have brought up a bumper crop of mushrooms around the Cape and South Shore. We see them everywhere, from woodland trails to manicured lawns to open pastures, popping up  in every shape from tiny parasols to golf balls, soft balls, fluted goblets and one that resembled a bowler hat or perhaps a space ship.

Albeit charming in appearance, we've all been warned many times not to eat wild mushrooms. Delectable sautéed with butter and herbs or stirred into sour cream for stroganoff or soup, yes, but unless you are a mushroom expert and 100% sure of what you've collected, wild mushrooms shouldn't be on your menu, nor your pet's.

This spring one of our customers on the South Shore told us about nearly losing her beloved Golden Retriever because the dog had eaten some harmless looking mushrooms growing in her suburban yard. Luckily she was able to rush the dog to an emergency vet who was able to save the dog, but had she not been home or noticed her pet's distress the result would have been tragic. 

The ASPCA reports that 99% of mushrooms are harmless but the 1% that are toxic are extremely dangerous. They recommend that you should immediately call your veterinarian and/or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888 426 4435 if you see your pet eating a wild mushroom. If you have a yard, keep an eye on any mushrooms that appear and remove and discard them safely as soon as possible.

We recommend that you take advantage of this beautiful fall weather by taking as many long walks with your dog as possible, but keep an eye on your pooch when walking in the woods.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rescue Story: Hunter

This week's post comes to us from young blogger, Dylan, who helped us with Hunter' groom at the MSPCA and documented Hunter's story.

Hunter is a four year old dog and he is up for adoption. He loves car rides and he has been at the shelter since July 22nd. Hunter is a Cocker Spaniel mix. He is good with children. He is housebroken and is good with other dogs and cats but he will chase bunnies! He is a chestnut red, and has yellow highlights. He is at the MSPCA animal shelter in Centerville and is looking for a good home. He is an easygoing dog. Maybe you would be the fit for this sweet loving dog.

These are the number and hours for the shelter in Centerville where Hunter is:

Phone: 508 775 0940

Monday: Closed all day
Tuesday: 12:00 - 4
Wednesday: 12:00 - 4
Thursday: 12:00 - 4
Friday: 12:00 - 4
Saturday: 12:00 - 4
Sunday: 12:00 - 3

Thank you, Dylan for this wonderful article!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Domestic Violence Affects Animals Too

Some of you may watch Animal Cops or other TV shows that illustrate the scope of the problem with animal abuse and neglect. It's frankly unbelievable to many of us what can happen to an abandoned or abused animal and yet, organizations like the MSPCA encounter domestic violence and neglect cases every day. These sad circumstances occur close to home: We visited the Friends of Falmouth Dogs program and facility last weekend and learned that one of the dogs available for adoption was virtually abandoned by a divorcing couple who moved away but left their pet in the house with the arrangement that someone would come by to feed her twice day. Not the situation we would want for this lovely playful girl but luckily the caregiver surrendered her to Friends of Falmouth Dogs where she gets great care and is now available for adoption to her forever home.

You expect that animals will get a fair chance in the United States where we have minimum standards for animal care and laws to back them up, but conditions are worse in the developing world. You may know that some of us at Aussie Pet Mobile Cape Cod lived and worked in India for a year. During our time there made friends with a local shop keeper who had two wonderful pet dogs - a relatively rare occurrence in rural India where only the most affluent can afford to feed an additional mouth, much less two. Our featured photo is of Amar with his two beloved pets. One day in June of 2010 we found Amar at his shop in tears. His beloved dog Mochi had been brutally killed the night before, just outside his home, while Mochi was stretching his legs before bed. There is no recourse in rural India for such a crime against nature, but here in the US you can Take Action to improve the conditions for animal welfare.

Please visit the MSPCA Government Affairs page and click Take Action to protect all victims of domestic violence.