Getting a dog?

Here is some of my basic dog advice, just dispensed to a Twitter pal and thought I’d share it here:

–Vet–
We use Laguna Hills Animal Hospital, they are a bit of a drive, but they are excellent! Really sweet people and they love animals. http://www.lagunahillsanimalhospital.com/ (The website is awful, but trust me they’re great!) Highly recommend Dr. Sultzer and Sullos, those are the 2 we’ve seen most.

–Home Alone–
I definitely recommend setting up a smaller area to close her up in to start. Once you get an idea of her temperament you can expand that area or let her have the run of the house. Make sure there are no cupboards she can get into with food or cleaning products. No wires, nothing that might fall over and no paper. Also, close her off in her area when you are home too (might be good to leave a bed in there for her all the time), so she gets used to it and doesn’t panic when you put her in there and leave her alone. Try to walk her/exercise her before leaving her alone and always leave her with raw hide or a stuffed kong (best toy ever… http://www.kongcompany.com/worlds_best.html) to keep her busy.

If she is house-trained she should be able to hold it up to 8 hours, so there is not really a need to put out papers (unless she is paper-trained) but just be ready for anything those first few weeks. And don’t fuss over her when you get home or she might piddle. Take her out right away, then fuss.

–Food and Treats–
– We used Iams dry food, that worked pretty well. I think they might even have a doxie formula.
– Pupperoni (or a piece of one) work great for training, the dogs LOVE them.
– Milkbones are always safe. (I think of milkbones as cookies and pepperoni as candy, if that makes any sense.)
– Greenies are good for cleaning their teeth once in a while.
– Raw hides are good for curbing the chewing (you’ll have to experiment to find out her favorite kind).
– Baby carrots (1 or 2 per day) are excellent healthy treats.

We are anti-table scraps, keeping their weight down is important.

We are also pro crate training at night. You’ll all sleep better.

Scaredy Dog

During the preparation of the awesome meal mentioned in the previous post we had a fun little interlude with our dog. Scarlett is a funny little critter who has a personality all her own. She is fearless when it comes to most things including people and big dogs, but there are 2 things she fears: heights and smoke.

When the tri-tip in the pan began to smoke, we immediatedly turned on the stove fan and opened the window, but the smoke was insanely thick and billowed throughout the apartment quickly. Scarlett began nervously pacing the floor. When it got pretty bad, we decided to open the front door. I found Scarlett sitting at the door waiting anxiously for me to open it. I could just hear her thoughts, “Come on guys, we should be leaving!”

Once I opened the door she sprinted to the edge of the stairs where she was confronted by her second fear. Would she chance a tumble down the flight of stairs? Maybe not. She returned to the front door, now sitting outside looking in, waiting for us to follow her precautionary lead.

I tried to assure her that everything was okay, but she didn’t move. After a while I picked her up and put her on the couch. She climbed up on the arm of the couch and leaned over the edge so that she could see us in the kitchen. She monitored our saftey for the next 30 minutes as we finished preparing dinner. She finally relaxed when we sat down to eat. Our very own little Smokey the Bear.

FrontlinePlus or Advantix

Most dogs need flea meds, and the ones in the grocery store are useless (at least in my experience). So I started our little pooch on FrontlinePlus from the time she was about 8 months old. Then I changed vets and the new vet carried Advantix, so we switched. Perhaps in the 6 years that have passed, my dog has also developed allergies that make her itchier than she was before. But I have to say that I think FrontlinePlus works much better. The dose is more medication, and it just seems to keep the fleas away for longer. In fact, there were times I would apply the FrontlinePlus less frequently than recommended, since the fleas were staying away. With the Advantix I was noticing fleas on her before the month was up. Not good.

I’ve also been on the hunt for itchy dog remedies and found the following recommendations: fish oil pills, oatmeal baths, soap-free shampoos, food that does not contain corn or wheat, spinach, and omega 3 & 6 vitamin supplements.

Anyone have input on the flea meds? Or itchy skin?

Scarlett’s Illness

We’ve had some bad news in the past few weeks. Scarlett has been diagnosed with cancer.

I found a small lump near her front leg on her chest. So I took her to the local vet to get it checked out. When the doctor felt it he could tell it was solid and probably not a cyst. His suspicions were confirmed when took a needle biopsy. We got the results back from the pathologist and it was classified as a “probable sarcoma”. The vet called me with the results and was sure to explain that they recommended removal because there were signs that it was likely a malignant tumor.

So I reached out to my friends in Southern California and asked for vet recommendations, since I didn’t have a vet that I really trusted. I have to say that I got quite a few helpful emails and I really appreciate everyone’s concern. Ultimately, after talking to 5 or 6 vets, I settled on Laguna Hills Animal Hospital.

I met with Dr. Sultzer, who examined Scarlett and reviewed the pathology report. He laid out several options and explained that if it were a more aggressive cancer, our best chance would be to remove it surgically being sure to take enough tissue that no cancerous cells remained. He gave me the option of doing a biopsy to determine the type of cancer we are dealing with, so I agreed. He was very kind to suggest all the options making sure I knew the financial ramifications as well. I was not choosing the cheap route. I wanted to be sure.

When I asked if there was anything else we could do to see if the cancer had already spread, he suggested an X-Ray, which came back clean.

We had the biopsy and the results were not good. It is a fibrosarcoma, which is locally agressive. I did some research online that basically said if you can get it all with surgery, it probably won’t come back. However, this type of tumor has little roots that grow into the surrounding tissue, and if you leave some of the root, it will probably come back.

She is set for surgery on Wednesday. They gave me the option of calling in a specialized surgeon, but there was no guarentee either way. And I like Dr. Sultzer, I hope he can take it all. After the surgery they will do a full biopsy and inspect the margins of the tissue, to see if there are cancer cells around the edges, then we’ll know.

Of course, there are still more options: more surgery, radiation, chemotherapy (yes, they have it for dogs too). I will keep you all posted.