Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Broken Toenails

Broken toenails can be a very painful injury for dog, especially if the quick has been exposed or broken, since this part of their toe is full of blood vessels and nerve endings. Recently I had two dogs break a toenail within a few days of each other, one of them didn't notice, but the other was severely limping until his injury was taken care of. Breaking of the toenail can be easily prevented by regularly cutting your dog's toenails, but even then it can still happen at any time.
If the outer shell of the nail has been broken back to reveal the quick, there is usually not much you can do other than clean the wound of loose nail fragments and dirt, and bandage the foot if needed. An effective way to bandage the foot is to attach a clean sock at the ankle with gauze, this prevents any dirt from getting in the wound.
Example of broken nail that needs to be cut off
If the nail is broken in half and dangling it will have to be cut off. Unless your dog is very non-reactive to pain and his paws being messed with, I would highly suggest taking him to the vet. We tried cutting our dog's toenail ourselves and it was an impossible task, it ended up taking three vet techs and a muzzle to get the job done.
Broken toenails usually happen because the toenail is too long or brittle. Trimming your dog's nails regularly keeps the quick small and helps prevent this kind of injury from happening. If your dog is outdoors and exposed to rocks and other rugged surfaces a lot, dog booties will also prevent these injuries, along with many other foot and toe injuries.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Agility is an absolutely fantastic sport for dogs, and for so many reasons. It's great physical and mental exercise, fun for you and your dog, and most of all it strengthens the bond between owner and dog. In order to be able to do agility, your dog has to learn how to pay attention to you and read the slightest of cues and respond to those cues in an instant. When competing, your dog is going through a new obstacle course and must look to you to know where to go and what to do. It takes hours and hours of training to get your dog used to all the different obstacles, but the process is extremely fun and completely worth it. I took a few agility courses with one of my dogs, he loved it and I noticed a great improvement in our everyday training afterwards.
There are a few things your dog must be good at before you even start the basics of agility. Having reliable recall and off leash behavior is a must, since agility is an off leash sport. Your dog must be able to be around other dogs and distractions and still listen to you.
You begin with the very basics in agility, usually just getting your dog used to the obstacles and using lots of treats and praise. But once your dog is familiar with what is required of him, you begin working on the most important part of agility, reading and responding to your ques. The finished product will be you running a little ahead of your dog and pointing to which obstacles you want him to do, while also saying their name. To get to this point you have to get your dog used to following your hands and knowing what each obstacle is called. For example, with the tunnel to you run with your dog and lead him into the tunnel with your hand at the same time that you say 'tunnel'. After a few times you run and wave him into the tunnel while you are a foot or two away, eventually you will be able to say tunnel and point from a long distance away and your dog will know what to do. This skill of looking to you for guidance and following your lead is something that will greatly improve all aspects of dog training, and help strengthen the bond between you and your dog. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


With a trip to Santa Cruz in the near future, I ran across this video....I still can't tell if the dogs actually enjoy this, or if they just put up with it. I can't imagine how these people got their dogs trained to surf, I plan on looking into the technicality of it in the future. My guess would be that you need to start your dog young, and slowly get them used to being on the board, being on a moving board, and being out in the ocean water.... Which, for most dogs, probably takes way more time and dedication than I have. It would also take the right type of dog. My yellow lab, for example, would not be a good dog to train to surf, simply because he is an extremely sensitive dog who is scared of his own shadow at times. My black lab, on the other hand, has a very calm and cool temperament, he is much more open minded to new things, so he would be a perfect dog to train for this difficult of a task!
Here is a simple and brief breakdown of how I would go about this training:
Get the dog used to being on the board at home by having him sit and do tricks on it, always giving him the treat while he is on the board.
Have your dog stay on the board for long periods of time.
Slowly introduce distractions so your dog stays on the board even around seagulls, seals, whales, oh my!
Having your dog stand on the board while you move it, either dragging it (if it's an old, unused board) or carrying it.
Having your dog float on the board in calm water,such as a lake.
And finally, applying all of this in the ocean.
It seems this would take many months of slow, progressive training to accomplish.. I'm excited to see if any of my dogs will be willing to surf next week.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

When to Call the Vet

Recently my family in Idaho had to say goodbye to their beloved dog, a nine year old Pomeranian who would likely still be alive if the vet had been called sooner. By the description of it, she had been showing signs of illness for days before she passed. Often times it's hard to know when something is serious enough to bring to the vet, or if your dog will get over it on his/her own. Here are some signs that more than likely say your dog should see a vet.
  • If your dog has been through any traumatic experience such as hit by car, attacked by other animal, broken limbs etc..
  • You suspect your dog has eaten anything toxic.
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • If your dog is not eating, drinking or is lethargic for more than 24 hours. (Lethargy may be hard to notice in some dogs, or may not seem like an emergency, but this was the main symptom our Pomeranian showed in her last days.)
  • Diarrhea for more than a day or two, or diarrhea with blood. 
  • Fur falling out/excessive itching or chewing.
  • Any signs of bloat. This is a big risk for big chested dogs, and I may dedicate a blog to bloat in the future. 
  •   Discharge from eyes and nose.
  • An unusual cough, which could be a sign of a collapsed trachea, especially in small, short nosed breeds.
The list could go on and on, but this is a basic, simple list that covers a lot of the major problems that could be life threatening to your dog. Obviously you want to use your better judgment, you know what's normal and not for your dog. But if you are questioning whether or no to take your dog to the vet, it would be wisest to pay a visit or at least call. It could save your dogs life.

R.I.P Tootsie