Must-Have Smartphone Apps for First-Time Dog Owners by guest blogger Penny Martin

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Photo Credit: Pexels

 

There are some basic materials  you need to be a great dog parent. This includes the right dog food, a quality leash and collar, ID tags, and a supportive, cozy bed, just to name a few. And in this day and age, there are apps that can help you keep your dog safe, organize information, and stay on top of health concerns.

However, you also need a reliable smartphone that is compatible with the latest dog apps and that provides fast internet service. If your current phone is not up to the task, consider getting an upgrade. There are plenty of options to choose from, so you’re bound to find a model that’s easy to use, fits your budget, and allows you to access your favorite apps.

If you want the highest-performing model, consider something dynamic with enhanced features—something with exceptional battery life that helps you to stay constantly connected. The new iPhone 11 Pro is such a device. It comes with impressive battery capacity, a triple-camera and a 5.67-inch display height, among many other features that makes it an excellent choice for dog owners. Or you might consider the Samsung Galaxy S10+, an Android option that includes a dual-aperture camera, long battery life, and enhanced integration with Windows systems.

THE APPS

Now, since using apps is a major benefit of having a good smartphone, let’s discuss some of the best dogs apps on the market:

FitBark

It’s exactly what it sounds like—the dog version of FitBit. When used in conjunction with FitBark dog activity monitors,  PCMag notes the FitBark app helps you to keep track of your pup’s daily activity and health status. Also, it tracks their sleep and will alert you of any activity that suggests your dog is dealing with stress and anxiety. It will even monitor how much your dog scratches in certain areas so that you can check them for a skin condition. And yes, you can connect the app to FitBit and exercise with Fido!

Whistle

Used with a tracker, the Whistle app  can monitor your dog’s daily activity and health. But its primary function is GPS tracking. By attaching the tracker to your pup’s collar, the Whistle app allows you to always know where your dog is, whether Fido is just in the backyard or has wandered off of your property. The app uses AT&T nationwide LTE-M network and Google Maps for easy and accurate tracking.

Chewy

As Best Company explains, the Chewy app  makes getting supplies for your dog as easy as possible. With more than 1,000 brands to choose from, Chewy will sell and deliver food, toys and other supplies to your door; and for orders of $50 or more, they provide free two-day shipping. When you create a profile for your pup, the app will show you the right kinds of food for his breed, and you can even set up automatic shipments to come each week or each month.

Pet First Aid

When it comes to preventing emergencies, and dealing with them if they happen, Pet First Aid  is the best app for dog owners. Developed by the American Red Cross, this app offers simple, step-by-step guides on how to treat Fido from home and routinely check on his health—including videos and graphics for some of the most common emergency and first aid situations. Furthermore, Pet First Aid provides information on preventative care and can direct you to nearby veterinary hospitals in the event of an emergency.

Becoming a dog parent is a big step in life. With the joys of your newfound companionship comes a host of responsibilities you may not be used to. But don’t worry, as long as you love dogs, you can be a great dog owner! Just make sure you have all your essentials and remember to take advantage of all the great dog apps available.

Dogs and bones

UCLA evolutionary biologist Blaire Van Valkenburgh has spent over 30 years studying broken teeth in carnivores of all kinds. She has come to the conclusion that broken teeth in carnivores that lived thousands of years ago to the present, are linked with food availability. Her conclusion is that as food becomes less available, carnivores will eat more of the kill, leaving less of it. This includes eating the bones. She maintains that when there is enough food a carnivore will not eat bones to protect their teeth. If a carnivore has broken teeth, they cannot kill and eat food as well.

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Why is this important to us? Her study shows that given a choice; carnivores will not chew on bones. This includes wolves, coyotes, foxes and other similar canids. So it brings up the question, is it wise to give our pet dogs bones to chew on? I have always maintained that it is not a good idea to give dogs bones to chew on. That it is not what they would do given the choice. Most dog bones are scented or stuffed to get the dog to chew it. Dogs that are aggressive chewers have broken their teeth on bones.

Some of the risks to giving a dog bones are:

Broken teeth

Mouth or tongue injury

The bone can get caught on the lower ja

The bone can get stuck in the esophagus, windpipe, stomach, and/or the

Intestines

Bones can cause constipation

Bones can cause severe bleeding from the rectum

Bones can poke holes in the stomach and intestines causing a bacterial     infection

And while I am writing this article, I will warn my readers that it is also dangerous and unnatural to feed dogs any form of rawhide from any type of animal, as well as antlers. These things can kill your dog or cause intestinal blockage requiring surgery. There is also the risk of toxins and decay that is associated with the processing of rawhide. The main source of rawhide is from slaughterhouses where cows and horses are butchered. Much of it is processed in China where they do not have the regulations that exist in other countries. So the best thing is to be careful about what you let your dog chew.

Increased health issues in chocolate Labrador Retrievers

In a study conducted by Professor Paul McGreevy, from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Science  they found that chocolate Labrador Retrievers have a shorter lifespan, have a greater tendency to be overweight, more likely to have ear inflammation (otitis externa) (twice as high in chocolate Labs), and were four times more likely to have suffered from pyo-traumatic dermatitis (also known as hot-spot) than yellow or black Labrador Retrievers.

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The researchers studied more than 33,000 United Kingdom-based Labrador retrievers. They determined that in order to produce chocolate Labs, breeders used chocolate Labs for both the sire and dam. Because the chocolate color is a recessive gene it may increase the health issues associated with it.

It has long been known that the merle, piebald and harlequin color in dogs poses a greater risk of deafness. This is evident in the many breeds of dogs that have this coloration and have a higher number of deaf individuals. Therefore it is not surprising that the chocolate color in Labrador Retrievers can have a greater risk of health issues.

There is a solution to the deafness and Labrador health issues. Do not create this coloration in breeds that are not normally this color. For the breeds with deafness, only breed dogs that are not deaf and spay or neuter the puppies in a litter that are deaf. In all dogs, only breed for better health and temperament instead of for color. A dog’s health and temperament are what makes a great dog. Color on the other hand is purely for aesthetic reasons with no viable function.

 

French Bulldogs have a high risk of health problems

A study by Researchers at The Royal Veterinary College (RVC), UK found that ear infections, diarrhea and inflammation of the eye surface (conjunctivitis) were the most common problems in the French Bulldog that were one year of age and older.

What is also interesting is that females tended to be healthier than males. Of the 26 common health problems in this breed, males were more likely to get 8 of them.

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(photo from internet free stock)

The very characteristics that make the French Bulldog popular, such as their short nose and skin folds, contribute to their health issues. Breathing issues are seen in over 10% of the breed as well as skin problems due to their skin folds.

This means that breeders have to be very diligent in their breeding program to help reduce the health issues. People who want to own this breed should be aware of the health issues and be prepared to pay for the extra veterinary care that these dogs require.

Glyphosate, a common herbicide found in dog food

Glyphosate, the active herbicidal ingredient found in most if not all weed killers like Roundup, has been found in dog food. But don’t panic, advises the study, the level is only 0.7 percent of the U.S. glyphosate limit set for humans.

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The study was conducted by Brian Richards, senior research associate in biological and environmental engineering, and supported by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future’s Academic Venture Fund. The goal of this study was to determine how much glyphosate was found in crops, surface water in fields, soil and animal feed.

The study determined that the herbicide found its way into pet food through the plant matter included in the food. However, they could not pinpoint which plants had the glyphosate.

Although there is no risk to pets, the long-term consumption of glyphosate has not been studied. Also, my thought is this: While the levels are very low for human consumption, dogs and cats are much smaller than people. Therefore the amount by comparison may be a risk for pets. An average human adult who weighs 150 – 200 lbs. and can tolerate .07% but what about the average medium sized dog who weighs 40 pounds. What about children and pets who weigh less than 40 lbs.?

It seems from the study that there are little or no pet foods that do not have glyphosate in them. Does this mean that other pet food has glyphosate in it? Some pets only eat vegetable or plant products. This is another thing to consider for both humans and animals. More studies are needed.

Over 20,000 puppies die each year from Canine Parvovirus in Australia

Canine Parvovirus kills over 20,000 puppies each year in Australia. This is largely due to the fact that many people cannot afford preventative shots or expensive treatment. Often the puppies are killed or abandoned. About 40% are euthanized.

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The study conducted by lead researcher Dr. Mark Kelman, a veterinarian and PhD candidate at the Sydney School of Veterinary Science and published in Transboundary and Emerging Disease showed how wide-spread the problem is.

Fortunately Dr. Kelman has started a group called Paws for a Purpose which has started some pilot vaccination programs in high-risk rural areas to try and prevent cases from occurring.

Because of how diseases spread from country to country, it is very important to keep your dogs vaccinated no matter where you live. I personally have seen (years ago) litters of puppies die from CPV in rural Virginia due to a lack of shots or the use of lesser quality shots because people did not want to or could not spend the money for proper veterinary care.

Australia’s on-going problem with CPV stresses the need for quality veterinary care for all of our pets.

Grain free diet for dogs may be linked to heart disease

Recently veterinarians have seen an increased in canine dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) and when they compared the diets of the affected dogs, they found the common factor was a grain free diet.  The pet foods that replaced grains with peas, lentils and other legumes or potatoes are suspect.

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DCM is affecting dog breeds that are not genetically predisposed to this heart condition. Scientists have shown that dogs can digest grain. They may have difficulty digesting raw grains but those found in dog food are easily digested.

I believe the myth about grains started when researchers compared dogs with wolves since wolves cannot digest grain.

Dog food manufacturers are always looking for ways to persuade people to buy their dog food and this is one way that they can convince people to pay a higher price for grain free food.

Dogs are not wolves and should not be treated as such. The only time you must restrict a dog from eating grain is if the dog is allergic to a specific grain such as corn, wheat, etc.

Therefore, be cautious about feeding your dog grain free food. However, do feed your dog a high-quality food such as Wysong or Annamaet.

A new species of tick invades the Mid-Atlantic

The longhorned tick, (Haemaphysalis longicornis), also known as the bush tick or cattle tick can seriously hurt or even cause death in livestock. The ticks can last for up to a year without feeding. They have been found in other countries such as Russia, China, and Japan.

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(Although this is not a longhorned tick, it is about the size of the tick. The longhorned tick has a pattern on its body that resembles a turtle shell.)

When the tick infests cattle, it can cause severe blood loss and even death, especially in calves. In dairy cows it can cause reduced milk production and in sheep poorer wool quantity and quality. This is because the tick transmits theileriosis.

In humans and pets the tick can transmit Q-fever and anaplasmosis. Q-fever can cause death in humans. The symptoms include “high fever, headache, sore throat, malaise, nausea, diarrhea, chest pain, nonproductive cough, pneumonia, and hepatitis. Neurological manifestations occur in about one percent of patients and could develop into meningitis, encephalitis, myelitis and/or peripheral neuropathy. Endocarditis, infection of the heart valves, is the most serious manifestation. However, it is usually found in patients with preexisting valvular disease. Unfortunately, the mortality rate is increasingly high, currently at 65 percent.”

The signs of Anaplasmosis are “Fever, Severe headache, Muscle aches, Chills and shaking. Less frequent symptoms of anaplasmosis include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, cough, diarrhea, aching joints and change in mental status.

Although people of any age can get anaplasmosis, it tends to be most severe in the aging or immune-compromised. Severe complications can include respiratory failure, renal failure and secondary infections.”

Although the longhorned tick has only been found in the Mid-Atlantic, it is just a matter of time until it will be found across the country.

Indoor dogs and cats have a higher rate of certain diseases

Keeping a dog mostly indoors and cats exclusively indoors typically benefits the pet by reducing their exposure to communicable diseases that can be caught from other animals and insects. Yet researchers have found that dogs and cats kept indoors suffer from a higher rate of diabetes, kidney disease and hypothyroidism compared with pets that are kept outdoors.

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The researchers tested 58 varieties of dog and cat food as well as 60 urine samples from dogs and cats and found certain parabens, which are a preservative, in the food and urine samples. They discovered that the highest level of parabens were methyl paraben and the metabolite called 4-hydroxybenzoic acid (4-HB). Parabens are used as preservatives both in human and pet food as well as cosmetics. The use of them is regulated by the FDA.

The researchers found that there were higher levels in dry dog food and less in wet food. Cat food had the highest levels. The researchers also determined that dogs are exposed to parabens through non-food sources as well as food, whereas a cat’s exposure was only from food.

This is the first study to consider the affects of paraben on diseases in dogs and cats. More research is needed to further examine the initial findings.

Heartworms in dogs and cats

Some people feel it is safe to stop their pets (dog and cat) monthly heartworm preventative medicine in the fall and winter. This is not a good idea. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. The mosquito will bite an infected animal and ingest the heartworm microfilaria. It only takes 10-14 days for the larvae to develop. At that point if the mosquito bites an unaffected animal, it will transmit the larvae to that animal. What makes heartworm risky is that they can live in a dog for up to seven years and a cat for three.

Heartworm is a dangerous condition that can cause severe lung disease, heart failure and damage other organs in the host’s body.

heartworms Photo from Google images

At one-time heartworm was found only in the warmer states, but now it has been detected in all states. The warmer wetter environments that support mosquitoes have the most risk.

The symptoms for dogs include a mild but constant cough, a decrease in activity, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss.

Fortunately the medications for treating heartworms have become safer. They are an arsenic-based product called Immiticide. Before treating a dog for heartworm, it is necessary to do a thorough pre-treatment program. This will include x-rays, blood work and perhaps other tests to determine how much damage has been done to the dog’s organs. This way the veterinarian will know what to expect and what to look for which will help with the post-treatment care of the dog.

The post-treatment care is critical in saving the dog’s life. Although the treatment will kill the adult heartworms, their bodies will break up and the pieces can block the pulmonary vessels and/or lodge in the lungs. This is why a dog that has been treated for heartworm must be kept quiet for months after the treatment. This is also why pre-treatment tests can be critical for the dog’s survival.

Unfortunately there is no approved treatment for treating heartworm in cats. Some veterinarians have used a drug approved for dogs on cats, but with major side effects which include sudden lung failure and death. The other risk in treating cats is that they are more likely to die from a reaction to the dead pieces of heartworm in their heart and lungs.

One of the choices is to treat the symptoms from heartworm and hope that the cat outlives the worms. Heartworms only live in a cat for two or three years.

If a cat is treated for heartworms, it will need veterinarian supervision for several months. Often, they need oxygen, cortisone and sometimes a diuretic to remove fluid from the lungs. When they are stable, cats will continue to need corticosteroids either continuously or periodically. There is always a risk of sudden death.

The good news is that in some parts of Europe and Japan, veterinarians have been surgically removing the heartworms, however, the technique has yet to be improved and approved.

In the case of both dogs and cats, prevention is the better way to go. This is easily done with monthly heartworm preventative medicine for both dogs and cats.

Because heartworms can live in a dog or a cat for years, it is imperative that the pet be tested first before giving heartworm medicine. By giving the pet a monthly preventative year-round, you are doing the best you can to avoid these deadly worms.