I love being outdoors. Walking, hiking, gardening, exploring, I do it all and it’s usually with at least one dog to accompany me. My pets and I can become pretty oblivious as we meander through grassy meadows and majestic forests as we try to take it all in. But, as we wander, it’s important to keep potential dangers to pets (and to yourself) in mind to avoid what could be a fatal encounter – particularly encounters with one of the various venomous snakes native to North America. I don’t believe that snakes are malicious or evil creatures, and I know that they won’t seek me or my dog out to attack, but the thought of a chance meeting in a remote field or woodland can be a distinct possibility when you explore the wild. In such a situation it pays to be informed. Read More »
Category Archives: Pet BehaviorFeed Subscription
I put off writing this article for a long because I feared that people would judge me as a bad pet parent. I finally decided to write it when I heard countless other “my dog ate” stories and came to terms with the fact that accidents do happen.
“You think your dog ate what?” Those are the words I heard from my vet over the phone when I was trying to explain I thought my shepherd mix Gatsby may have eaten some pins from a pin cushion.
Let’s back up to the beginning. I got home from work around 6 and started on dinner. Something shiny on the kitchen floor caught my eye. It was a pin. I didn’t think much of it at first, thinking it may have fallen off of some clothing I had recently purchased. Fast forward a few hours. We were returning from our evening walk when I spotted a toy I didn’t recognize in Gatsby’s crate. I picked it up and my heart stopped. It was the pin cushion from the sewing box.
To be honest, my first reaction was “There’s no way he ate any, they appear to all still be on the cushion.” Despite my denial I checked his mouth and peered down his throat. No blood, no needles, nothing abnormal. He was also acting normally. I suddenly remembered the pin in the kitchen and started searching for more pins. Immediately I knew that there was going to be a problem. I was finding pins left and right. Some were broken and some were bent. Even thought my denial still persisted (who eats pins, right?) I called my vet. She instructed me to go to the emergency pet hospital for x-rays.
At this point I was still calm, steadfastly denying to myself that either of the dogs had actually eaten any of the pins, but better safe than sorry. They took the dogs back for x-rays and then the vet came to speak with me. She gave me the good news first: Barret was free and clear, no pins in his belly. On the other hand, Gatsby had eaten enough pins for the both of them. From there almost everything else is a blur. The x-ray image was frightening. A cluster of what I later learned to be 11 pins were sitting in his stomach. One had already made its way toward the intestines.
Because of the sheer number of pins he had ingested surgery was his best option. If we took the “wait and see what passes” approach the damage could have been irreversible. I was told when a dog has ingests pins, and it is less than 3, they will generally pass without an issue with monitoring. I was astounded to learn that this wasn’t the first pin-extraction my vet had performed! I would do anything for my “kids” so I signed the papers, sent him into surgery and went home to wait.
It was about 2 AM when the vet called to let me know he was out of surgery and waking up. They were only able to find and remove 9 pins despite multiple x-rays taken during surgery. I was to pick him up from the hospital and take him to my regular vet in the morning. He was released later in the day with strict dietary restrictions, medications, and instructions. I was also charged with the unpleasant task of dissecting any bowel movements to be sure the last 2 pins made it out safely.
The next few days we were still really worried about him. He had no interest in food and wasn’t going to the bathroom. After about a week I finally was able to find a food (scrambled eggs) that he would eat. We breathed a sigh of relief when we found the last pin in his stool a few days later. Despite the fact that he was still vomiting and was losing weight, the vet assured me that he would get back to normal soon, having endured a pretty invasive surgery it would just take time. After a few vet office visits and several different medications he was on the mend.
The experience has taught me a few lessons, mainly that some dogs really can (and will) eat anything if given the opportunity. I was always very careful about leaving things out or leaving doors open before, but (lesson #2) dogs can be very sneaky. Finally, I learned that both my dogs are integral parts of my life and that when it comes down to the wire I would do anything to make their lives long, healthy, and happy.
So ends my tale of the canine pin cushion. If you have one, please feel free to share your own “my dog ate” story in our comments section.
Hello, Doug here. One of the best parts of having a rabbit as a pet is letting it hop around the house with you. However, letting your pet roam comes with the extra chore of cleaning up the trails of droppings that have been so nicely left for you if your pet isn’t taught better. It isn’t too hard to teach your pet to go in a designated space, so I thought I’d share some tips on how to litter train you bunny. I will go over some standard techniques as well as other practices that have worked for me in the past with my pets. Read More »
When we left off last time I had a certified trainer come to my house and suggest some new behavior training to curb his destructive tendencies. Some of her suggestions seemed to help and others didn’t. This time I’d like to share a few products with you that I’ve found to be helpful.
Bitter Apple Spray – I used Bitter Apple Spray to deter the dogs from chewing on my furniture and the corners of my walls. It worked the way it was supposed to; they didn’t chew where I sprayed the furniture. Unfortunately they decided to chew elsewhere, where I didn’t spray Bitter Apple. If you are having a specific problem, say with chewing on table legs, I would recommend this product. If your problem is more severe, like mine was, you may want to buy it by the case!
Chamomile infused treats– There are several varieties of these calming treats on the market now. I noticed a difference in the boys about an hour after I gave them their treats. They’d calm down quickly after guests arrived, they would be calmer (and less destructive) during the day. Unfortunately the treats seemed to have less of an effect after daily use for a few weeks. I would save these for special occasions, such as when you are having guests over or know a stressful event is on the horizon.
Kongs – I started out using empty marrow bones as makeshift Kongs. I finally bought a couple of the real things and believe it or not, they seemed to make a world of difference. The food is harder to get out which keeps them occupied longer and they seem to really enjoy chewing on the rubber texture. To this day each dog gets his Kong with a special treat inside when I leave for work. They even seem to look forward to me leaving so that they can have it!
Homeopathic Anxiety Drops – I read some good reviews about these homeopathic drops helping other pet parent’s curb destructive behaviors and separation anxiety. So far the effects have all been positive.
Relaxation CDs for Dogs – Classical music specifically designed for dogs that calms them and reduces anxiety. It seems to work because it plays a limited number of musical notes in a minute which slows the dog’s heart rate and helps them relax. It also seems to work on humans! One of our local animal shelters uses this music to calm the dogs in the shelter at night. I highly recommend this music. It has been very effective in calming Gatsby’s anxiety while we are away.
It’s been a long road through puppyhood and what I suspect to be a mild case of separation anxiety. It’s a lot of work, but what wouldn’t we do for our fur-kids? I’m still hopeful that they will calm down even more as they enter adulthood, and that I won’t have to rely on so many commercial products in the future, but in the meantime they’ve been a lifesaver!
We all know that cats usually tend to do their own thing. Most don’t have any interest in doing anything they don’t feel like doing on their own terms, while some may be enticed with catnip or a dangling string. Depending on the temperament of your cat, you may be able to train him or her. You probably won’t be able to train her to roll over, shake, or to leave your tuna alone (that takes some special training talent), but teaching a cat to come when called can be vital in emergency situations. Read More »
The Guinea Pig has been domesticated for over 5,000 years (please see article below). It’s no secret that domestication can radically change an animal’s appearance – most taxonomists now consider the Domestic Dog to be a subspecies of the Gray Wolf, and not a distinct species – but you’d never guess that when viewing a Maltese and a Wolf side-by-side! Read More »
Last time I introduced you to my “problem child”, Gatsby. When I first noticed his destructive behaviors I chalked it up to puppyhood, since he was only 10 weeks old. I moved everything out of reach (or so I thought) and gated both dogs in the kitchen/dining area while we were away, to minimize their reign of terror. As the months progressed and he became more and more destructive, chewing the table legs and shredding areas of the carpet – I decided to step up my game. I bought him teething toys, assuming that teething was partly to blame. I also bought them each a filled marrow bone and slathered the inside with fresh peanut butter after they had eaten all the original filling. They got the marrow bones every time I left the house. Those seemed to keep them occupied and I (again) breathed a sigh of relief. Read More »
So now that Spring has sprung (YAY!), pet owners across the nation may find themselves dealing with more than foul weather and slick roads. The warmth of the sun and the extended daylight becons the emergence of dormant wildlife from their cozy winter dens. Perhaps none is so dreaded than those with tell-tale black and white markings and unmistakeable scent – the skunk.
Mojo and the Fog of Eternal Stench
I know a Great Pyranees named Mojo that has a particular fondness for wildlife. He can often be seen roaming the farm fields and woods edge in search of something to make friends with (or harass) whether it be a herd of deer or a plump groundhog basking too far away from his hole. Unfortunately for his family he doesn’t discriminate – he’s happy to greet anything he comes across, even the local skunks. I often wonder if he likes the smell or if his gentle, fun-seeking nature just makes him keep trying to get aquainted with them. Regardless of his motives, it seems as if he constantly reeks of his overnight encounters, much to the dismay of his family. My guess is he’ll never learn or accept that the fascinating striped “cats” don’t want to be his friend, and the noxious perfume is supposed to be a hint. Read More »
Now let’s talk a little about what you’ll need if you want to keep rats as pets.
All in all, rats need large wire enclosures with plenty of levels or lofts for climbing. You may want to look at cages designed for ferrets. Cages designed for hamsters and other small rodents will not be adequate for the much larger and stronger rat. The ideal cage for two adult rats will be at least 2ft L x 1ft W x 3ft H, but this is the minimum and bigger is always better. Make sure the cage bars are less than one inch apart so that small rats can’t get out. If their head fits through, their body will too! Also keep in mind that the size of the cage depends on the number of rats you plan to keep. They are very active animals and will utilize all the space you are willing to provide. Read More »
Over the course of the last year, I’ve learned a lot about training new dogs, especially puppies. I thought I might share some of the tips I’ve learned and found useful with my “kids”. Here goes, hope you find them helpful! Read More »