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In Memory of Sugar the Golden Retriever

Today, I am participating in a blog hop in memory of a wonderful and bright soul, Sugar the Golden Retriever!

When I first started blogging in 2013, I began reaching out and following some very inspirational pet blogs. One of the first that caught my attention was Sugar the Golden Retriever. The content was excellent and the photos of Sugar, a beautiful feathery Golden Retriever, were nothing short of digital sunshine.

On a whim, I reached out to the author, Rosalyn to see if she had any advice for a new pet blogger. Despite being incredibly busy, Rosalyn got back to me with encouraging advice and suggested that I join BlogPaws — a community I am so grateful to be a part of!

I had the honor of communicating with Rosalyn and then meeting her and Sugar at BlogPaws in 2014. Rosalyn is a generous and kind person, who was accompanied in life by a beautiful Golden Retriever with a golden smile.

Last Friday, I was deeply saddened to find out that Sugar had crossed the rainbow bridge.

You may remember that we shared some of Sugar’s recipes last month, and in her honor, I wanted to share with you a recipe from her cookbook: Cooking for Sugar. While Rosalyn and Sugar reviewed many items, I think that taste-testing recipes (and sharing them with other doggies) was probably Sugar’s favorite!

We will greatly miss you Sugar! Thank you for making the world a happier and brighter place!


Rescuing & Caring For Senior Pets

May is National Pet Month. National Pet Month is described in so many different ways, but mostly it is a time when we celebrate the joy and love that pets bring to our lives.

For today’s post, I would like to focus specifically on the joy that senior pets can bring to our lives and what you can do as a first time senior pet parent.

In the years I spent at the veterinary hospital, there were never more precious hours than the ones I spent caring for senior pets. Their sweet demeanor and eyes full of wisdom filled my heart with love and joy. Yet, so many senior pets remain in the shelters and rescues. If you are looking for a dog or cat to just love you. One that will save their energy for the special occasions like walks and playtime, one that will always be ready for a nap or snuggles, then you are looking for a senior pet.

If you are bringing home a senior pet for the first time, Petcurean and I want to share with you some tips on caring for these amazing creatures.

Exercise is Essential

Exercise is essential to the health of both pets and people. Particularly senior pets. When you are bringing a senior pet home for the first time, take a few weeks to see what their comfort level is for exercise. For example, a senior Border Collie might enjoy a 45-minute walk every day whereas a senior Bernese Mountain Dog might prefer two 20-minute walks each day. Once you discover their preference, provide them with regular and consistent exercise to maintain their weight and their muscle structure.

Exercise helps senior pets maintain a healthy body weight, and it helps slow the degeneration of joints from arthritis. Walking is excellent exercise. Swimming in a heated pool is also an excellent way to maintain joint mobility. – Petcurean

Proper Food is Essential

Making sure that your senior pet is receiving the appropriate amount of calories and supplements is crucial to keeping them healthy and mobile. A properly formed diet with the right mixture of protein and other nutrients is critical for longevity.

As older pets are less active, they need fewer calories. A high quality, limited ingredient diet is a great way to maintain weight in older pets, while addressing and sensitivities and ensuring they get the nutrition they need, like Petcurean’s Go! Limited Ingredient Duck Recipe for dogs. Dogs with joint problems may benefit from supplementation with glucosamine or fish oils. – Petcurean

Keep Those Teeth Clean

There is an entire month dedicated to Pet Dental Health and stressing the importance of that research and knowledge for pet parents. Make sure that your senior pet is visiting their veterinarian bi-annually for their oral health exam.

Dental care is just as important for pets as it is for humans. Dental disease is painful and may make eating difficult for your senior pet. If your dog won’t tolerate you brushing its teeth, consider dental treats, or dental toys designed to help keep the teeth clean and healthy. Teeth cleaning by your veterinarian will also help to maintain oral health.- Petcurean

Sorry, couch is full…

A photo posted by @petcurean on

Keep Your Home Senior Friendly

Making sure that your home is designed with your senior pet in mind is imperative. Your home should be easily accessible and complete with beds that support their joints. Recently, I discussed how we rearranged our furniture to protect Rooney’s back. While Rooney is not yet a senior, I always want to make sure he has access to comfortable spots in the house.

Older dogs may develop arthritis or other joint problems, which can make it harder for them to get around. You can help by providing ramps to help them navigate around the house, get up on the bed, or get outside. Orthopedic pet beds may help keep your pet comfortable and relieve pressure on the joints. – Petcurean

Show Them Love

Quality time comes in all shapes and sizes. Each pet likes to spend their days doing different things. Make sure that your senior pet gets that quality time from you. Don’t waste a minute!

Nothing tells your pet that you love them like a good belly rub or ear scratch. As your pet ages, physical contact is more important than ever. Every moment you have together is precious, and increasing the physical connection between you will strengthen your bond immeasurably. Maximize every opportunity for bonding with your pet – you will both be glad you did. – Petcurean

I want to thank Petcurean for putting together these points for senior pet care! Additionally, they put together this very cute video which is all about pet rescue. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I am a Petcurean Blogger Advocate. I have been compensated in exchange for providing my opinion. However, My Kid Has Paws only discusses products I truly believe in. In fact, I feed Petcurean to Rooney every day.

Cleanliness is Next to Dogliness: Keeping Your Pet’s Bowl Clean

Day 11 of our 30 Days to the Best Pet Home is focused on cleaning your pet’s bowls & the easiest pet bowls to keep clean.

If you are anything like me, you are a really busy pet parent. You try to keep the house as clean as you can, but sometimes it’s really hard to keep up with all of your chores. Additionally, I will always choose to take Rooney for a walk over doing my laundry, which means that I am often behind on my daily chores. Therefore, when the weekend rolls around, and we are busy cleaning up our kitchens and backyards, we might forget that it’s also time to clean the pet bowls. But that has to change.

Last week, we shared some important information about proper pet food storage. In many of the articles that discussed pet food storage, authors also mentioned that regular cleaning of your pet’s bowls is just as important as proper pet food storage for preventing your pet from consuming unwanted bacteria. As a matter of fact, according to the Huffington Post, the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) International rated pet bowls as the 4th dirtiest spot in our homes.

Are there real dangers lurking in my pet’s bowl?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. If you haven’t cleaned your pet’s food or water bowl in a while, you might be surprised to learn that there are a variety of potential health hazards lurking in their bowl. Here are 5 threats just to give you an idea:

  1. Serrate Marcescens “Pink Stuff”
  2. Yeast
  3. Mold
  4. Coliform (same family as E.Coli and Salmonella)
  5. Insects

So the question is, what is the recommended frequency for washing your dog or cat’s bowls?

Every day.

That’s right. Dr. Marty Becker’s co-author and pet professional, Gina Spadafori, recommends washing both the food and water bowls every day. Additionally, she recommends washing them in the hottest cycle of the dishwasher to make sure they are thoroughly sterilized (Vetstreet).

What should we use to wash the dishes?

Hot water and soap if you are washing the dishes every day. There are a few articles out there that suggest using bleach, but I wouldn’t use bleach. Bleach can be so harmful if not properly rinsed.

Cleanliness is Next to Dogliness: Keeping Your Pet's Bowl Clean

If you are at all concerned about harsh chemicals in your dish or dishwasher soap, you can always switch over to a more natural alternative. I really like Meyer’s Dish Soaps. Not only do they smell great (their lavender household cleaner smells awesome!), but they are free of the following chemicals:

  • Phthalates
  • Glycol Solvents
  • Chlorine
  • Formaldehyde
  • Artificial Colors
  • Parabens
  • Animal Derived Ingredients
  • MEA
  • DEA

What are the best types of bowls?

Several different sources stated that stainless steel or ceramic bowls are best for cleaning. Here are a few of my favorites!


 

As a result of my research, I will be washing Rooney’s bowls daily, and placing them in the dishwasher with each available cycle. What changes will you make?

What Do You Know About Pet Poisons? #MKHPMarchChallenge

Thus far through our 2016 Challenges, we have improved the amount of exercise we provide our pets, AND we have learned more about pet dental health. I don’t know about you, but my life and schedule has already undergone several major changes since 2016 started, and these challenges have really helped me stay focused as a pet parent. There are so many goals I set for myself this year, but being a better mom to Rooney and spending more time as a family is by far the most important! With this mentality still at the forefront of this year, I introduce to you the March Challenge.

This month we will be educating ourselves and others around us about pet poisons.

Unfortunately, the poisons that threaten our pets are everywhere; in the food we eat, in our gardens and backyards, on our walks, and the list goes on and on.

What Do You Know About Pet Poisons? #MKHPMarchChallenge

Because pet poisons are literally EVERYWHERE, the first step we can take to protect our pets is to educate ourselves! This month’s post will break down pet poisons as follows:

  1. Pet Poisons in the Garden
  2. Pet Poisons in the Fridge
  3. Pet Poisons in Everyday Life (i.e. the car, your purse, the neighbors yard, etc.)
  4. Clever ways to Educate Others

Lastly, I will include in each of these posts resources for you as a pet parent for prevention and action if you believe your pet has ingested a poisonous item.

By the way, the number 1 resource every pet parent needs is the phone number to the Pet Poison Hotline 855-764-7661.

Are there any poisons you would like to learn more about? What do you hope to accomplish with this month’s challenge?


 

Have you participated in our January and February challenges? Feel free to send photos to mykidhaspawsblog@gmail.com and I will share them in my monthly newsletter and upcoming blog posts!

If you want to participate in this month’s challenge, simply post a photo on social media and tag #MKHPMarchChallenge

Common German Shepherd Health Issues

commongshep

Hello everyone!

I am very pleased to welcome Andrew from Shepped.com as our guest blogger today. Shepped.com is the go-to site for information regarding German Shepherds. German Shepherds have been in my family for many years: our beloved Rocky was a German Shepherd Lab Mix, and my parents now have a German Shepherd mix named Sasha, so I was very happy to hear from Andrew.

Rocky

sasha

Since My Kid Has Paws is a pet blog focused on health, Andrew is sharing with us some information regarding Common German Shepherd Health Issues. Enjoy!

Your German Shepherd is a loyal friend and a part of the family. As with any family member, you want to do everything you can to ensure they live a long, happy life. Generally speaking, German Shepherds are powerful, healthy dogs. But they do have some potential health risks.

The main health problems typically associated with a GSD are going to be either congenital or hereditary in nature. You can eliminate the risk of many diseases by buying your GSD from a trusted, responsible breeder who knows the genetic history of the dog. You can also help prevent potential problems by learning what signs and symptoms to watch out for.

Here are the six common health issues found in German Shepherds. By knowing what to watch out for, you can greatly increase the changes of early diagnosis and successful treatment:

Dysplasia in the hip and elbows

Dysplasia is a congenital orthopedic problem. The GSD’s hip or elbow joint fails to properly fit into the socket. Unfortunately, this can lead to arthritis, pain and lack of mobility.

Because this is a genetic condition, at least in part, dysplasia can appear even in young, healthy dogs – even dogs as young as four months old. Symptoms include unusual movement, slow movement and a reluctance to climb, jump or run. You may also see a decrease in muscle mass near the hind legs but an increase near the front (as the GSD attempts to alleviate exertion on the back legs).

Diagnosis and treatment requires a visit to your vet. Blood samples, urinalysis, x-rays and more will likely be taken. Also, a complete genetic history of your GSD is very useful in diagnosis. Left untreated, dysplasia will likely grow worse over time, so it’s important to take your GSD to the vet as soon as you notice any potential symptoms.

Eye Diseases

German Shepherds are susceptible to a variety of eye problems including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy and retinal dysplasia. One particularly common type of cataracts in German Shepherds is a genetic condition known as Chronic Superficial Keratitis. Left untreated, these various eye conditions can lead to blind spots and even total blindness.

Symptoms are usually pretty obvious. Your GSD will bump into objects and otherwise not be able to get around very well, even though the dog’s musculature seems fine. Your dog’s vision may also appear unfocused. Sometimes, you’ll actually be able to see dark spots forming in your dog’s eye.

Fortunately, treatment is usually fast and effective. Most cataracts can be removed at the vet’s office in a fairly simple procedure using sonic waves. Also, prevention is also very effective. Work with your vet to develop a proper diet containing the vital nutrients your dog needs. This can help prevent a problem from returning or, ideally, prevent an eye problem from ever developing in the first place.

Heart Issues

German Shepherds, like many other large breeds of dogs, are susceptible to heart problems. Common issues are dilated cardiomyopathy and stenosis. Cardiomyopathy is a thickening of the heart’s wall muscles, while stenosis is the narrowing of various pieces of the heart. Cardiomyopathy is the rarer of the two, but they can both be very dangerous to a GSD.

Symptoms include fainting, excessive coughing and difficulty breathing. The GSD will be tired and not want to exercise. In the case of stenosis, it might be possible to actually hear an abnormal heart rhythm.

If your dog exhibits these symptoms, take him to the vet as soon as possible. Medication and treatment are the two most common treatment options. Obviously, heart problems in a dog can be pretty serious, so you should always err on the side of caution when considering a vet appointment.

Von Willebrand’s disease

Similar to hemophilia in humans, this is a genetic condition where the GSD’s blood clotting abilities don’t work properly. Once an injury occurs, the dog will bleed excessively and for long periods of time.

Aside from bleeding due to injury, dogs affected with this issue will often suffer from nosebleeds, bleeding from the gums and blood in the urine. Ideally, responsible breeders should screen for this condition before breeding, but it is still relatively common.

Preventative treatment includes medication as well as education. If your dog has this condition, you’ll need to know what to do if the dog is ever injured. This is something you’ll need to discuss with your vet.

Epilepsy (and other Seizure-related Disorders)

Just like in humans, GSDs can suffer from epilepsy, which is marked by seizures. The frequency and severity of the seizures depends on a whole host of factors, mainly genetic. While watching your dog have a seizure can certainly be scary, the dog will usually appear just fine afterwards. Still, epilepsy in GSDs needs to be taken care of – we just don’t want you have a panic attack if your dog suddenly has a seizure. He’s usually not in immediate danger.

Treatment usually starts with a blood test at the vet’s office. That’s the best way to determine exactly what’s causing, or not causing, the seizures. Typically, treatment consists of preventative medication and a general education about what to do if your GSD seizes.

Bloat

Bloat is a common issue in dogs. Bloat is when the stomach becomes twisted, which traps gas in the gastrointestinal track. Unlike many of the other conditions on our list, which are more on-going conditions, bloat requires immediate veterinary attention.

Symptoms of bloat include heavy salivating, a wet mouth, abdominal swelling and heavy panting. Bloating usually occurs after the dog has eaten a meal, although sometimes it can occur several hours after the dog has finished. The first treatment the vet will try is the insertion of a tube into the dog’s stomach. If that doesn’t relieve the pressure, surgery will be required.

When to Go to a Vet

Prevention and proper nutrition are vital to your dog’s health. So are regular check-ups at the vet. Otherwise, you should check with the vet whenever something new appears. Check with your vet if your dog starts to walk funny, has a sudden decrease in energy or any other drastic changes in behavior. Also, make an appointment immediately if your dog has a seizure – and take your dog directly to the vet emergency room is he or she shows signs of bloat.

German Shepherds are part of the family. When you know what common signs and symptoms to watch out for, you can help keep your GSD safe, happy and healthy. Visit Shepped.com for additional information on GSD health issues.

I want to thank Andrew for sharing this comprehensive blog post.

If you, or a family member, has a German Shepherd, have you every experienced any of these health issues?

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