Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Extra special animals

  I came across this article about an alligator with a prosthetic tail and it made me think of my dog named Gator who is missing a leg. :) I want to share a little bit about him with yall, because he gets stares and gasps every day from people who apparantly feel sorry for him.
 Gator is the happiest, fastest, most affectionate (and dare I say most adorable) dog I have ever been lucky enough to know. When he tries something new, like jumping onto a chair, and doesnt quite make it he keeps trying. He never gets sad or frustrated, and he always seems to find a way.
 I feel so lucky to have him in my life. If you happen to be contemplating adopting a special needs animal, or your pet may need an amputation, enucleation, or other seemingly life-changing operation; please know that these animals do great. In my practice, most of the special animals I have known dont even know they are different. And if they do realize they are different; they dont dwell on it.
 I just wanted to share a little about him because he brings me so much joy; and so many lessons.

Here's a photo of Gator hiking on Mt Lemmon near Tucson (my husband helped him up the rock):
He loves the water:
And looking out the window:
And he is especially amazing at chasing after and killing squeeky balls. Here is a video showing his atheletic prowess (from this summer; when we were staying in a hotel):

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Travel tips :)

Now that spring break is upon us and summer vacations are not far away; I am getting questions about travelling with pets. Here are some of my top tips.

1. Flying with your pet. If you must bring your pet on a plane; do your best to not "check" him as luggage. Airlines are not in the business of taking care of animals; and when a pet is checked as cargo they are often exposed to extreme temperatures and potentially frightening and even life threatening situations. If you must check your pet, it is best to not give him any sedatatives; as no one will be able to check on him if there are problems. Keep in mind that your pet will not be able to get out and pee/poo - so choose the shortest and most direct route possible.
I fly fairly often with my dog Gator, and am lucky that he fits under the seat in front of me. I keep his carrier bag in the house when we are not travelling, and offer him treats in it; so that he has come to love his little bag. This really helps when it is time for him to hang out under an airplane seat for a few hours!

                        Here's a picture of Gator hanging out in his carrier before a trip:

2. Driving with your pet. Please make sure to secure your pet in the car (just as you would your people passengers). I have seen too many cases of pets being seriously injured or running away during a car accident. My favorite devices attach their harness to a seatbelt, and many devices have a booster seat so your pets can see out the window.
While on a road trip make sure you have plenty of water and pee breaks and NEVER leave your pet in the car unattended. Their are countless cases of pets dying from overheating in parked cars when left even just a few minutes. :(
                                                            Gator LOVES his special seat:
3. Diet while travelling.  It is best to keep your pet's diet and routine as normal as possible while travelling. This will help to prevent issues like diarrhea and anxiety. My dog eats a dehydrated human-grade dog food that is easily transportable. If you must switch up your pet's diet while travelling I recommend supplementing with a probiotic to help prevent diarrhea.
4. Travel anxiety. If your pet seems anxious about the changes in her routine; it often helps to keep her active and engaged with "something to do". 

Similarly to people, fresh air and exercise can do wonders for pets' attitiudes. (Dont forget to provide plenty of fresh water and shade if its hot out while you are exercising!)
My dog is a sucker for squeeky toys and Kongs. When we travel I bring a stash of almond butter to fill the Kong (and keep him entertained).
Chinese medicine treatments such as acupuncture, massage, and herbal formulas can do wonders for anxiety; but If you dont have access to these treatments and are looking to try a supplement to "take the edge off" ; I often recommend Rescue Remedy (available at natural foods stores) or pheromone sprays such as D.A.P. (available thru most vets or some pet stores).
Here's Gator in a hotel room with an "interactive toy". It has a space in the middle to hide treats. This one kept him occupied/ obsessed for DAYS :)