Dog Bites

All dogs bite at one time or another. However, most people do not realize that there are different types of bites. Unfortunately, many dogs have lost their homes, lives or been restricted due to the misunderstanding and misinformation about dog bites.

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Dogs used their mouths the same as we use our hands. Puppies mouth the same way that human babies will put everything in their mouths. The mouth is a very sensitive part of the body, perhaps the most sensitive. The mouth can taste, feel texture, heat, cold, size and shape. The mouth and tongue are so sensitive that the smallest bump or lump in a person’s mouth often feels like a boulder or a cracked tooth feels like a canyon. We have to assume that dogs have the same or similar capabilities. However, dogs do not have the same capability to taste as humans do. They have about 1,706 taste buds compared to a human’s 9,000. A dog’s taste buds are located at the tip of their tongue. They can taste bitter, sweet, sour and salty. Their choice of what they eat depends more on their sense of smell than taste.

Dogs use their mouths to manipulate objects, carry objects, groom themselves and/or companions, to show affection, to play, as a means of correcting another dog, as a way to get another animal or person away from them (distance increasing), and to vocalize. One of the most affectionate things a dog may do is nibble the object of their affection. This is a very gentle nibbling using the small front teeth.

Sometimes dogs will grab a person to try and lead them somewhere, such as a door if they have to go out. This is like a person taking another person by the hand to guide them.

Bites often happen in a few seconds. It may be difficult for an untrained person to analyze a bite because you must consider the rest of the dog’s body language and the circumstances that happened just before and after the bite as well as the breed or type of dog. Dogs also can give mixed signals. For example, a dog can act aggressively and at the same time fearfully. The dog’s life experience including training will influence what and how they bite. However, below is a general explanation of dog bites.

Dog bites follow a progression if, as a puppy, the dog has been allowed to learn how to properly act socially with other dogs. An adult dog will first give the puppy, other animal or person warning looks. If that does not work, next are warning growls or vocalizations. (Never correct a dog for growling, you will remove an important warning, forcing the dog to go directly to a bite.) If a puppy does not heed the body language and then the vocal warning of an older dog, the dog may give the puppy an open mouth correction. This is when the older dog will “hit” the puppy with his mouth open but does not bite.

The next level of bite is the nip. In human terms, it would be equal to a pinch. It is typically done with the little front teeth. It is a corrective measure used to stop the unwanted behavior or to communicate the message to get away or back off.

If the nip does not work the next bite will be a full mouth bite but a quick release and often not bearing down hard. This type of bite may result in a bruise or small puncture. This is also a request to back off or get away. The dog is trying to increase the distance between himself and who he bit. It is also the type of bite that a fearful dog may employ. It could also be a defensive or corrective bite.

If that does no work the next bite may have increased pressure resulting in a deeper puncture or larger bruise. It is also a distance increasing bite or a fear bite.

The aggressive bite that the enraged dog or the dog who is aggressive will use is a bite and hold or a bite, hold and shake. These are the bites that are dangerous where the dog typically intends to hurt.

A dog that has developed strong bite inhibition, may put his mouth on a person if he is in pain. Often that is a reflex and when the dog realizes that his mouth is on a person will either stop before making contact or not put any pressure in the bite. Other times a dog who is in pain may bite. This should not be held against the dog. Also, a dog that is enraged or upset about something may do what is called redirected aggression. This also a reflex where the dog will bite whatever is near him when he cannot get to the object of his anger. The other situation where a dog will bite because of reflex is if the dog is engaged in a fight with another animal and a person tries to grab the dog to pull him away. The dog will bite not realizing that it is not the animal he is fighting but a person. This also should not be held against the dog. In these cases of reflex biting, the humans that are working with the dog should expect it and take precautions to avoid being bitten. The only breed of dog that has been bred not to bite a human when engaged in a fight are the bully breeds, such as Pitbull Terriers.

How likely a dog will bite depends on the breed (or mix) of the dog, the lines of the breed, how well the breeder and then the owner socialized the dog and the dog’s training. Some breeds of dog are less tolerant and quicker to bite than others.

Children are often bitten in the face because they are at face level with dogs. Children of all ages should be taught how to interact with dogs and carefully monitored, always. A dog that bites a child due to a reflex action is rarely forgiven even though in most cases the dog is not an aggressive dog by nature.

It would do the dogs and dog owners a great service if dog owners studied canine body language and learned to understand their dogs. Children should be taught how to interact with dogs. Studies have shown that children can recognize when a dog is angry but not when they are fearful.

There are two excellent resources that help the dog owner learn how to read dog body language.

  1. What is My Dog Saying? By Carol A. Byrnes, diamonsintheruff.com
  2. The Language of Dogs by Sarah Kalnajs bluedogtraining.com

On Kitten Creek: Searching for the Sacred

On Kitten Creek: Searching for the Sacred, A Memoir by Nancy Swihart, Cladach Publishing, 185 pgs., $13.49, ISBN: 978-1-945099-02-1.

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On Kitten Creek was a very pleasant and surprising read for me. I found that I could relate to many of the author’s feelings and experiences. Ms. Swihart tells us how she had visions and plans about what she wanted to do, her job, ministry, and even the house she wanted as she and her family moved from California to Kansas. But God had other plans for her and her family, and of course God’s plans turned out to be much better. Her experiences are a testimony to all young people to have faith through life.

As Ms. Swihart shows us, it is hard to see the vision while you are young and traveling down the path of life. But the lesson is clear as one looks back, have faith and trust. On Kitten Creek is a good book for all ages, and an inspiration for those who might be struggling with life’s situations. Although it is a Christian book, it is not preachy and I found it a delight to read, more like a novel then a memoir.  Ms. Swihart is a gifted writer and the book is easy to read.

Keeping cats safe outdoors

Many cats enjoy being outdoors as much as dogs do, but unfortunately it is not safe to allow a cat to roam outdoors. There are many dangers a cat faces while outdoors that do not necessarily threaten a dog. Cats can be prey for large canines, including dogs, coyotes, wolves and even a fox.

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They are exposed to parasites of all types, including ticks, fleas, and various worms. This is especially risky if the cat catches small rodents.

Feral cats can also pose a problem by attacking and passing diseases to your cat. So what is a cat owner to do?

One option is to teach your cat to walk on a leash. Some cats enjoy doing this if they are taught properly. The first step is to be sure that your cat has a collar with ID tags or is micro chipped in the event that the cat should get away from you. Since cats do not like having pressure on their necks, you should use a harness for the cat.

The first step is to get the cat used to the harness indoors. You can do this by putting it on while you give the cat a special treat that they love and only get for wearing the harness. Clicker training the cat also works very well.

Once the cat is used to wearing the harness, you can lure the cat around your house with the special treat to get the cat used to walking with the harness on. As soon as the cat is used to that, you can attach a leash to the harness and lure the cat with the treat.

It is important to avoid pulling on the leash to get the cat to follow you, rather lure the cat with the treat.

Once the cat is willing to follow you, try doing it outside near your home or in your backyard. Gradually increase the distance that you walk with your cat. It is OK if you can only walk your cat in the backyard.

Keep in mind that your cat may be frightened by the outdoors and only feel comfortable in your backyard. Cats typically do not like noise and strange people if they are too close.

If your cat does not enjoy being outdoors on a leash you have other options. A nice window or enclosed porch can be enjoyable for a cat, or a cat “pen.” See https://www.pinterest.com/explore/outdoor-cat-enclosure/?lp=true for some ideas. Keep in mind that if you use a cat pen, you need to protect your cat from hawks as well, especially if the cat is small or a kitten.

Never force a cat to go outdoors if they do not enjoy being there. Some cats never get used to being on a harness. It is important to pay close attention to see if your cat is enjoying the experience. Some cats are very happy being an indoor only cat with a large window to look out of.

If your cat is one of those who do enjoy being outdoors, make sure that you check with your veterinarian to get tick and flea as well as parasite prevention measures to keep your cat safe. All of your cat’s yearly shots must be up-to-date as well.

Happy cat walking!

 

Excessive licking in dogs and cats

Dogs and cats will groom themselves by licking their fur. This is normal. They will lick their owners as a sign of affection as well. Licking can be a form of play and to let you know they are hungry. If the owner pays attention to their pet when they lick, it can reinforce the behavior, encouraging the pet to do it more often.

However, some pets will engage in excessive licking. Only the owner can determine if the pet is licking more than normal. Excessive licking is a compulsive behavior and the pet may lick everything in sight. This is not good for the pet and the family. Do not try to “correct” this behavior, it will only make it worse.

The first thing a pet owner must do is schedule a visit with your veterinarian. Excessive licking can be due to allergies, including food allergies. Other causes are boredom, stress, pain and diseases.

Try to recall if anything in the pet’s environment brought about the excessive licking. Changes are especially suspect, did you move, change the pet’s food, bed, alter the environment such as adding or taking away furniture, someone in the family moving in or out, a new pet, neighbor or any other change that the pet is aware of. Even a family member changing jobs, or a family crisis can affect a pet.

The easiest way to correct excessive licking is to give the pet an alternative activity. If the pet is a dog, give the dog a chew toy when he starts to lick. Praise the dog for chewing the toy. If the pet is a cat offer a toy for the cat to play with and interact with the cat. Be sure to give the pet a good rubdown or petting when they stop licking. If the pet tries to lick family members gently say “no” and give them something to chew or an activity.

If the excessive licking was due to a change in the home environment it may take a few weeks for the pet to adjust to the change. If the behavior does not stop or if it increases, it is best to consult with a certified canine or feline behavior consultant. You can find one at www.iaabc.org  With time and patience, excessive licking can often be cured.

Diarrhea and vomiting in dogs and cats

Dogs and cats can develop diarrhea and vomiting for several reasons. One of the most common causes for diarrhea is a sudden change in diet, such as changing the pet’s food. High quality food is always better but if the pet has been eating poor quality food and then is switched to high quality food too quickly, diarrhea may result. If you are going to change your pet’s food it should be done gradually over at least a week. Keep in mind that high quality food is only available in specialty shops. Examples of high quality food are Wysong and Annamaet.

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Sometimes a pet will eat garbage or other food that they find and that can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Eating grass often results in vomiting.

However, unresolved diarrhea and vomiting can be a sign of Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in both dogs and cats. It usually occurs in middle age, in older pets and certain breeds of dogs. Those breeds are: Basenjis, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, German Shepherd Dogs, Yorkshire Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Shar-peis, Rottweilers, Weimaraners, Border Collies, and Boxers.

IBD can be managed with daily medications and regular visits to the veterinarian. If your pet has diarrhea or vomiting for 24 hours or more, you must get them to your veterinarian right away. Even if it is not IBD, your pet is at risk of dehydration.

For an excellent article go to:

http://www.vetdepot.com/in-depth-look-at-inflammatory-bowel-disease-dogs-cats.html

Whole genome sequencing is helping to identify rare feline genetic disorders

 

Whole genome sequencing looks at the complete DNA sequence to identify anomalies that cause disease. This process allows veterinarians to provide more effective treatment for the diseases that they identify.

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Scientists at the University of Missouri, using the 99 Lives Cat Genome Sequencing Consortium established at Mizzou by Leslie Lyons, the Gilbreath-McLorn Endowed Professor of Comparative Medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine, have identified genetic variants that cause progressive retinal atrophy and Niemann-Pick type 1 which is a fatal disorder in domestic cats.

These studies will help domestic cats as well as their close relative the African black-footed cat which also suffers from these disorders.

DNA sequencing has helped in previous studies by identifying a genetic link between degenerative myelopathy in dogs and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in people.

It is exciting to read about the progress that is being made by scientists that will eventually help both people and animals live a longer, quality of life.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170511115938.htm

Dogs help children in many ways

In two independent studies, it was found that pet dogs help give children social support and that a family dog can help a child with disabilities become more active and improve the child’s life.

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Darlene Kertes and her colleagues from the University of Florida have documented how dogs can help reduce stress in children. Although many dog owners knew this, Kertes’ report was the first to scientifically show the stress reducing nature of dog ownership for children.

In another study Megan MacDonald, an assistant professor at OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, studied how a family dog helped a ten-year-old child who suffers from Cerebral Palsy. Because of the dog, the child increased his physical activity, improved motor skills, and developed a better human-animal bond. These studies may pave the way for more research which will help both children and their families for the long term.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170510140738.htm

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170510174853.htm

Faithful Friends: Holocaust Survivors Stories of the Pets Who Gave Them Comfort, Suffered Alongside Them and Waited for Their Return

Faithful Friends is a unique book of rare, first-hand accounts from Holocaust survivors about their pets. This is a piece of history that has been largely overlooked. Faithful Friends is perhaps the only book written about these beloved pets. The book is broken down by country and with a brief account of what was happening at that time in each country. The introduction also includes a time-line for the Holocaust from 1879 – 1948.

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Most of the survivors that were interviewed where children at that time. They loved their pets dearly and did not fully understand what was happening but they did know that something was dreadfully wrong.

Faithful Friends not only shares stories about pets, but it gives the reader an idea of what life was like during WWII.

For example, it is difficult for many people to realize that news traveled mostly by word of mouth since there was no reliable form of communication. Although people did have radio’s and newspapers, many of these were controlled, reported propaganda and false news, which is why some people were unaware of what was going on until it was too late to flee.

Faithful Friends is a heartwarming book that has some amazing survival accounts, but does have some sad stories. It gives the reader a glimpse of life before, during and after the Holocaust. For some people, it is not an easy book to read. However, it is a necessary book for the history lover and for people in general to understand an untold part of the Holocaust.

Faithful Friends has won the following awards:

2012: Dog Writers Association of America, Maxwell Award.

2012: Certificate of Excellence Cat Writers Association

2012: National League of American Pen Woman 2nd place non-fiction.

For an autographed first edition copy (while they last) go to: http://www.sbulanda.com/books.htm

ISBN:978-0-9818929-4-8  Published by Cladach Publishing, 144 pgs.

Allergies in Pets

Pets suffer from allergies the same as people do. They can suffer all year long or only at certain times of the year depending upon what they are allergic to.

They can be allergic to many things such as the dander from other pets, mites, fleas, pollen’s, insects and foods. The places on the body that typically show the allergic reaction are: ears, underarms, belly, lower legs and feet. The signs typically are: itching, redness, swelling, pimple like bumps, sores that ooze, reoccurring ear infections and loss of fur. Sometimes a pet will pick at the area that irritates them by frequent licking or biting the area.

If you notice any of these symptoms you should take your pet to the veterinarian where a series of tests may be necessary to rule out other medical issues that could mimic allergic symptoms.

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If the problem is allergy related there are a number of medications, either taken orally or applied topically that can ease your pet’s discomfort.

Allergies are referred to as Atopic Drmatitis and unfortunately there is no cure for it. However, once your veterinarian determines what your pet is allergic to, they can give your pet allergy shots which in many cases reduce the symptoms significantly. Shots along with oral and topical treatment can give a pet quality of life again.

If your pet is allergic to a certain type of food, you can avoid giving your pet that food. Sometimes a low quality food can cause a problem for a pet. You should only give your pet high quality food. Food that is available at discount stores or the supermarket should be avoided.

For an excellent article, go to: http://www.vetdepot.com/in-depth-look-at-atopicdermatitis-dogs.html

Cats seem to be able to understand the laws of physics

Researchers from Kyoto University in Japan led by Saho Takagi published their findings in Springer’s journal, Animal Cognition. In previous tests, researchers determined that cats can determine the location of invisible items based on their hearing alone. The latest study showed that cats responded to articles dropped from a container more when the container was shaken and made a rattling sound then they did to containers that had an object in them but did not make a rattling sound.

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“Cats use a causal-logical understanding of noise or sounds to predict the appearance of invisible objects,” say Takagi. Since many cat’s hunt in low-light situations, this is a necessary association for them. This is one step closer to understanding the abilities of cats.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160614114410.htm