A Publication of St. Louis Critter Sitters
June 2006


Breed of the Month – The Pomeranian

DESCRIPTION The Pomeranian is a tiny, fluffy dog with a wedge-shaped head and pointed erect ears. Some have faces that breeders liken to a fox; others have baby-doll or "pansy" faces. All have bright, dark, almond-shaped eyes with an intelligent expression. The nose is either dark or the color of its coat. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. Poms also boast a distinctive feathered tail that fans forward over the back. There is an abundant ruff around the neck and chest area. The profuse stand-off double coat usually comes in solid colors. Any solid color is allowed, but the most common are red, orange, white or cream, blue, brown or black. Sometimes the coat is parti-colored (white with colored markings), black & tan, wolf or orange sable.

TEMPERAMENT The Pomeranian is a lively little dog. Intelligent, eager to learn, very loyal to its handler and family. Willful, bold and sometimes temperamental. If it is properly introduced they usually get along with other dogs and household animals without any problems, but some of them seem to think they are much larger than they actually are and do not hesitate to attack much bigger dogs. It is an excellent watchdog with a resounding bark. Poms have a tendency to be reserved and bark at strangers excessively. Teach this dog early that it may bark a couple of times when the doorbell rings or when there are visitors, but then to keep quiet. Be very consistent about this. They are alert, curious and busy: one of the most independent of the Toy breeds. Poms have a delightful nature and do not cling to their handlers. Proud and happy, they are good at learning tricks, but need a firm hand. The Pomeranian must know the owner is the boss, or he will not listen. This breed may become too demanding if the owner allows it. Not recommended for very young children. Too much attention from children can make these dogs nervous and they may become snappish. However, they can get along well with older, well behaved children. It is a good companion for an elderly person. The breed's docile temper and affectionate nature endear it to many. Its vivacity and spirit make it well-liked by persons who do not usually care for toy dogs. They may be picky eaters.

Sprining Safely Into Spring

With the change in seasons comes a shift in thinking.

You choose the short-sleeved shirt over the sweater, leave the porch light off because you'll be home before dark. You shop in the ice cream aisle and stop stocking up on hot chocolate. Boots give way to sneakers and then sandals.

When spring rolls around, a thousand tiny details change in the way you go about your life, and that includes the way you deal with your pets. Following are a few things you should keep in mind to keep your cat or dog healthy in the warmer weather.

Turning down the heat

Your dog has enjoyed the car in the fall and winter, but it's now past the time when pets will be safe inside an automobile. "From now until November-ish, if you're going to have to leave the car, leave the pet at home," said Dr. Danny Daniel of the Animal Medical Center, Covington, La.

Your car undergoes a kind of greenhouse effect in the summer -- in 10 minutes, the heat can rise well above the body temperature of your dog. Cracking a window or leaving the car in the shade won't matter; car temperatures can reach 120 degrees on a 75-degree day. Plenty of pets end up in emergency clinics in the springtime with this problem, especially in the South, Dr. Daniel said.

If you find a dog that's suffered heatstroke in a hot car, you can try to cool it down by wetting the feet and legs with ice water and turning on a fan. Never toss cold water over the whole body -- the pet could go into shock and die, but the coat can be wet down with water that is near room temperature. Seek emergency veterinary care immediately!

Toxic treats

Melting snow leaves behind the detritus of fall and winter ... including dead animals. Try to keep your pet from chowing down on the garbage it finds outside. If your pet has an upset stomach, take it to the veterinarian -- it may have consumed a rotten snack. One loose stool or a single incidence of vomiting isn't cause for concern, but if it happens more than a few times you may have something to worry about.

Some dogs go the vegetarian route -- they'll crop the grass in your yard like a sheep. "People think dogs know they need it, so they let them eat it," said Dr. Harvey Rhein of Dix Hills Animal Hospital, Huntington, N.Y. "They don't know anything. They do it because they like it." But grass doesn't digest well, and like carrion, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Plus, lawn treatment products can be deadly. If you see your dog munching on the lawn, stop it.

On the most dangerous level, keep cats and dogs away from antifreeze as you perform spring upkeep on your car. The substance is sweet and highly poisonous; a teaspoon can kill a 10-pound cat, five teaspoons can kill a 10-pound dog.

Insects aside

Stave off the flea and tick invasion before it even starts with repellent products. Fleas will emerge after temperatures top around 55 degrees, Dr. Rhein said. Topical solutions like Advantage, Frontline and Revolution kill most fleas, eliminating the need for flea baths and dips. Mosquitoes spring to life too, meaning you'll need heartworm testing and medication in high-risk areas -- if your pet isn't already on a preventative.

Other insects -- such as bees and spiders -- also pose problems. Keep some diphenhydramine (Benadryl) on hand for sting emergencies to reduce swelling and symptoms. Remove the stinger, and then contact your vet to ask for specific treatment and dosing instructions.

Diphenhydramine may also come in handy for reducing symptoms associated with snake bites in dogs, but an injury of this sort can be deadly, so you should still take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible -- drive to an emergency clinic if necessary. Even if the dog seems well, a troublesome abscess can develop as far as a week to 10 days from the time of the bite.

Flower power

Pollen allergies hit both humans and animals in the spring. You'll sniffle and sneeze, but your pet will probably itch. If you notice lots of scratching, you may want to try an allergy test to help pinpoint the source of your pet's suffering. Often if you can reduce some of the main irritations -- if your pet is allergic to its food, for instance -- the inhalant allergies alone aren't enough to cause itching, Dr. Daniel said.

Excess itching can result in "hot spots" -- places where bacteria from the pet's skin infiltrates a scratch. A scab forms over the spot, creating a petri dish environment that protects the bacteria and keeps the area from drying out.

A veterinarian has to remove the scab and treat the hot spot, in a procedure often painful to the pet. The veterinarian will be able to numb the spot with anesthetics -- if it's bigger than a quarter, you're better off leaving it to the professionals, Dr. Daniel said.

Have developing hot spots treated as soon as you can -- they spread vastly in short periods of time. "Don't wait until tomorrow," Dr. Daniel said. "By tomorrow, it'll be 100 to 200 percent larger."

Workout woes

"Everyone starts jogging and taking Fido with them," said Dr. Rhein. "Fido is 7 years old and a little arthritic and you run two miles and suddenly you've got a crippled dog." Ease Fido back into the routine -- don't dump it on the dog all at once, he said. "It's a little today, a little more tomorrow. A dog can't handle what a 25-year-old human can handle."

Be smart when your dog isn't. Provide lots of cool, fresh water -- some dogs love to relax in a child's wading pool in the backyard, Dr. Daniel said. Be careful about leaving the pet outdoors -- panicked or overexcited pets can die of heatstroke when left unattended in high temperatures. Outdoor pets should have consistent access to shade or protection from the sun.

Before Visiting the Dog Park

If you're a dog owner fortunate enough to live near a dog park, you know they are fun places for your dog to play with other dogs. Summer is a great time to visit a dog park for fresh air, healthy exercise, and socialization for both dogs and people.

Dr. Sheila McCullough, formerly a veterinarian at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, says that before visiting a dog park, owners should recognize risks associated with interactions with other dogs and take precautions to minimize these risks.

One risk is the spread of infectious disease. To minimize your dog's risk of getting sick, make sure all its vaccinations are current. "Dogs that are very sick do not usually feel well enough to run and play at a dog park," says Dr. McCullough, "so serious infectious illnesses may not be a major concern. Common sense should tell a dog owner to keep a dog at home if it is coughing or vomiting or has diarrhea."

Another hazard is injury from dog bites and dogfights. Serious fight injuries can be fatal. The best way to handle bite injuries is to prevent them, and the best way to do that is to train your dog well. Make sure your dog always comes when called and is well-behaved when interacting with other dogs, new people, and children. Some parks have separate fenced areas for large dogs and small dogs, which may help keep small dogs from getting accidentally trampled or bitten by larger dogs.

For your own safety, never get in the middle of a dogfight. Even if your dog is loyal and obedient, it may not be aware of who or what it is biting when engrossed in a fight. Putting any parts of your body between fighting dogs will not stop them, but may send you to the emergency room.

Neutering your pet has benefits to both health and safety. According to Dr. McCullough, "In addition to extending a dog's health, neutering reduces male territorial instinct." She reminds pet owners that that a female dog in heat will inevitably cause confrontation between intact males. Even the gentlest male dogs, if not neutered, can be uncontrollable when a female in heat is nearby.

When playing in the hot sun, your dog may not notice that it is getting overheated. "Be aware that even though it's noon and 95 degrees, your dog will want to play Frisbee," advises Dr. McCullough. Make sure your dog takes breaks in the shade, gets plenty of water, and does not play for long periods in the hot mid-day sun.

Dog parks are wonderful places to enjoy a summer afternoon with your pet and to get healthy exercise and socialization for both of you. Taking precautions can help make your visits healthy, positive experiences.

If you have any questions about vaccinations your dog should have before visiting a dog park, or other questions about ensuring a safe day at the park, contact your local veterinarian.

Physical & Mental
Stimulation for Dogs

Providing mental and physical stimulation for dogs can help keep them happy and healthy. Dogs have been bred for a variety of purposes over the years and consequently most dogs have the desire to do ‘work’ or complete tasks. Whether this ‘work’ is playing fetch, guarding the house, or digging in the backyard a dog needs a combination or mental and physical activities. Frequently, behavior problems start when a dog is bored, lonely, or lacks enough exercise. High energy breeds such as labs are particularly susceptible to behavior problems such as barking, chewing or digging if they do not have enough physical or mental stimulation.

It is good for dogs to go outside and play or exercise at least twice a day. Playing with your dog is one of the best ways to keep him happy. This helps with both physical and mental stimulation and increases the bond between pet and owner.

Exercise is a fairly obvious need, as with people, exercise keeps a dog healthy and strong and at a healthy weight. Consequently, this can ward off potential health problems.

Mental stimulation can be a less obvious need, but is also important. This can be achieved with play, learning tricks, or even training to become an assistance or therapy dog.

Also there are games such as agility or flyball that are good in keeping a dog mentally and physically stimulated. Choosing a proper toy can also help a dog stay interested even when spending time alone. Toys that allow treats to be put inside can create a challenge for a dog, and are often great toys for dogs that spend time alone. This type of toy will often keep a dog occupied for extended periods of time.

Engaging your dog mentally and physically on a daily basis will help keep him healthy happy and reduces the risk of behavior problems.

St. Louis Critter Sitters
Recipe Corner

Healthy Snacks (Low Purine for Kidney Stone Prone Dogs)

• 1 cup White rice flour
• 1/4 cup Soy flour
• 1 Egg
• 1 Tbsp Unsulfered molasses
• 1/3 cup Milk
• 1/3 cup Powdered milk
• 2 Tbsp Safflower oil

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients together. Add molasses, egg, oil and milk. Roll out flat onto oiled cookie sheet and cut into dally bite-sized pieces.

Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool and store in tightly sealed container.

Because of the Schnauzer, Dalmatian, and certain other breeds' have a tendency toward urinary stone formation, diets and treats low in "purine-yielding ingredients" are advised.

Every attempt has been made to ensure that this recipe uses relatively low purine ingredients; however I cannot guarantee that your dog will not have a reaction to these treats, either allergic or urinary. It is very important to monitor the pH of your dog's urine when introducing new foods and treats to its diet. The urinary pH should not deviate from the normal pH of 7.0 if all is well.

If you note any deviation, you should contact your veterinarian immediately for a standard urinalysis to see if abnormal urinary crystals are forming which can "grow up" to become obstructing stones, or to detect other urinary problems.

Also keep in mind that these treats should be fed in small amounts and are not meant to replace a well-balanced diet.

Cat Friendly Dog

Dogs and cats can often coexist happily, particularly if the dog is raised around cats. There are even many cases where cats and dogs become good friends. However, there are several considerations when bringing a new dog into a home with cat(s). The first step is choosing your dog wisely. Dogs that have a high prey drive are a riskier choice for homes with cats. Dogs that were originally bred for hunting can still have a strong hunting instinct, which can be problematic for cats. Terriers for instance are typically not as well suited for living with cats. They have been bred to hunt small animals, and many still have a strong prey drive. There are exceptions such as Boston Terriers that are typically better with cats than other terriers. Also sight hounds such as Greyhounds are prone to chasing cats, as it is hard for a sight hound to resist chasing any quick moving object, cats included. Also breeds that typically have dominant personalities can be a riskier choice. If adopting an adult dog, choosing a dog that has already lived with cats is wise. Also, generally a calm and non-aggressive demeanor in an adult dog is good both for the safety of the cat and to help with a smooth introduction. Be aware that a dog may react differently towards a cat indoors versus outdoors, and may chase or harm a cat outside that is left alone indoors.

The introduction of dog and cat can sometimes be challenging. First, protect all pets involved. Puppies may be at more risk of getting hurt than a cat, as a slap from a cat with claws out is not that uncommon if an over-eager puppy (even if well intentioned) comes bounding over to the resident cat. Give pets a place to escape too. For cats it is wise to have a room with a baby gate that the cat can cross, but the dog can’t. Bring the new dog into the home restrained and don’t force the introduction. Correct your dog if he either wants to chase or shows signs of aggression. Let the animals slowly approach each other, but separate if either shows signs of fear or aggression. It can be effective to leave the dog in his crate or carrier and let the cat come over to the crate to sniff and inspect it. It may be necessary to repeat the introduction process until the two pets can calmly and peacefully stay in the same room together. Don’t allow the cat and dog around each other unsupervised for several weeks. They may react differently around each other when alone, and until there is clearly no threat it is best to keep them separated when alone. Take it slow, don’t force the issue and give your pets time and space to adjust to each other and likely your dog and cat will adapt to their new housemate.

"The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That is the essence of humanity."
                                             
...George Bernard Shaw