- Signs of CIV include coughing, nasal discharge, fever, and lethargy. Most dogs recover in a few weeks time.
- CIV is very contagious, and dogs that don’t seem very ill can still spread the virus.
- The most recent cases of CIV have been linked to dog shows and a boarding facility. If your dog is showing signs of CIV, please isolate them from other dogs and contact your veterinarian.
- There is a vaccine for CIV available. It’s two doses, given a few weeks apart. If you occasionally board your dog, visit dog parks, or attend dog shows, it’s a good idea to get your dogs vaccinated.
- Cats can be affected by CIV, and it can be transmitted from cat-to-cat. Cats show many of the same signs as dogs when infected, including a runny nose and sneezing. There is no evidence CIV can be transmitted to humans.
Tips for Keeping Your Furry Friends Comfortable During the Winter
By Dr. Bentley
Hi there! I’m Dr. Caitlin Bentley, one of the newest board members of Tails of the Trail. From time to time, I’ll be popping in here to offer some vet tips, insight into how animal shelters work, and other tidbits to make your life with your furry friends easier. I’m one of the vets at Metro Nashville Animal Care and Control. I’ve got two dogs and two cats of my own, all from shelters, and I’m passionate about shelter medicine. I’m also passionate about dressing my dogs in matching bandannas, cat toys that are shaped like human food, and telling my dogs about a thousand times a day how cute they are. I can’t wait to get to know the Tails of the Trail family! Now, down to business.
With the holidays over, we’ve still got a long winter ahead of us. It’s during these dreary days that I start longing for spring, or even humid summer! Our dogs and cats can be affected by cold weather just as much as we are. Here are a few tips to keep them warm and cozy during the long slog towards spring.
· Help them on their potty breaks: Sometimes pups can be reluctant to potty outdoors on snow. I can’t say that I blame them, I bundle up with wool socks and boots to go in the snow, while they have only bare paws! To remedy this, try grabbing some straw from your local grange or feed store and scattering it outside the door or porch. This can help keep their paws insulated while doing their business.
· Bring them inside: Many cities have ordinances that don’t allow pets to be kept outside in extreme weather. Here in Nashville, dogs cannot be tethered when it is below freezing, and owners can be cited and subject to legal consequences. It’s best to bring pets indoors when it’s freezing outside, so they can stay warm, well fed, and healthy.
· Clean them off: Salt and de-icing compounds are often spread on icy winter roads, and these can be irritating to tender paws, and irritating to tender mouths when licked off. Keep a towel by your door to wipe down your pets when they get inside.
· Beware the antifreeze: Antifreeze is poisonous and deadly for dogs, cats, and children. If you spill any, clean it up promptly. Its sweet taste is irresistible to animals and children, and even a small amount consumed can cause life-threatening illness.
· Consider providing a feral cat shelter: Feral, or community, cats need to stay warm in the winter, too. Consider making them a shelter out of an inexpensive styrofoam cooler. Simply obtain a cooler, tape the lid on, cut a cat-sized hole in the side, and bed with straw. Some organizations even provide these shelters for free, like Pet Community Center in Nashville. Check with your local community cat group, and consider becoming a caretaker for community cats in your neighborhood.
· Don’t stop prevention: As a vet, I am obligated to tell you: even though it’s wintertime, your pets still need their monthly flea/tick and heartworm prevention. It’s true, when you graduate veterinary school, you must solemnly swear that “I shall always chastise pet owners for forgetting their prevention.” As much as we would all love it if the danger of fleas, disease-carrying ticks, and heartworm larvae disappeared in the winter months, it’s not the case. Keep your pets safe from pests with prevention year-round.
· If you see something, say something: If you see an animal that is struggling outside in the cold, please contact your local animal control. Animal control officers do their best to work with people to allow them to keep their pets. Sometimes people just don’t know what’s best or have financial constraints. I’ve known animal control officers who bring bags of pet food to people in need, buy new doghouses to replace leaky ones, and bring straw bedding to warm outdoor dogs. If you’re worried about a pet in your neighborhood, don’t be afraid to call your local animal control agency. They’ll be happy to have the chance to save a pet.
Keep your fuzzy bundles of love close and warm this winter! Together, I know we’ll make it to spring!
The summer heat, especially in the South, can take a toll not only on human health, but also on the health of our four-legged best friends.
Here are a few tips for keeping your dog safe during hot weather:
- Shorten walking distances and avoid walks when ambient temperature is over 85 degrees
- Limit exercise for older dogs (over seven years) and any short-nosed dogs
- Monitor heartworm-positive dogs closely since they may be more prone to exercise intolerance or respiratory compromise due to lung inflammation
- Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight (especially light-skinned dogs, as they are more susceptible to sunburn)
- Don’t allow your dog to drink from puddles (reduces chances of infectious diseases and chemicals/toxins)
There are several indicators to watch for when outdoors with your dog(s) in the heat. Warning signs of canine heat stress to watch for include:
- Significant panting (panting more heavily than usual)
- Increased respiratory effort
- Hypersalivation (increased drooling)
- Dark red or purple gums
- Drunken gait
- Lethargy, decreased responsiveness
If you think a dog has become overheated, hose them down with tepid water and place them in front of a box fan or in air conditioning.
Let’s strive to keep all pets safe this summer!
As reported in my earlier blog in January 2016, Rockie is a dog that I first encountered during a Tails of the Trails hike at Williamson County Animal Center. He is a Feist mix that loves walking. The only drawback is that he lifts his rear, right leg off and on during those walks. After a consult at Nashville Vet Specialists (NVS), Rockie underwent surgery to repair a luxating patella (a kneecap that would move in and out of place thus causing the limp to come and go). We are now six weeks into his eight week rehabilitation period and I’m happy to report first and foremost that Rockie is doing AMAZING!
Let me paint the picture of his rehabilitation period: he has been restricted in his movements, not allowed to run, jump, climb stairs, play with other dogs, jump on furniture or any other movements that would deter his healing process.
For the first two weeks, he had to wear an E-collar (also known as an Elizabethan collar) around his neck so he didn’t lick or bite his surgery incision. Though somewhat cumbersome, he did great with the E-collar and more than tolerated it. After a follow-up exam at NVS, his surgical staples were removed because the incision had healed so well and he was no longer required to wear the E-collar—freedom! To keep him confined and away from the other dogs in my house, Rockie got a “man cave” of his own in my bedroom, a portion of the room sectioned off by a crate and plywood walls. He has been allowed to be out of his man cave during bathroom breaks and feeding only.
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My initial concern was that he would be going stir crazy being confined so much. He’s a young, energetic, happy dog who loves people. Yet, he spends most of his days in this confined area with only a 12 foot space to move around. I engage his mind with food puzzles, food-stuffed toys and the like. It’s said that if you engage a dog’s brain in these types of behaviors, you wear the dog out mentally and that can be four times more exhausting than physical activity. Even with that, I was still concerned his desire for activity would far outreach his imposed restrictions.
One of the amazing aspects of Rockie is his ability to stay in the confined area without being hyper, destructive, or other such behaviors. He also doesn’t complain when he has to go back into his area after bathroom and feeding breaks. When he is out, he is the snuggliest, happiest, most affectionate dog you can imagine. He’s my kind of dog. He loves it when I sit on the floor with him. He snuggles in my lap and laps up all the love and petting I give him. He allows me to gently rub his healed incision to stimulate blood flow to the area. In addition, he loves to chew on bones which has the benefit of releasing his energy while keeping him off of his feet.
My fears of an emotionally and physically pent-up dog who needs sedation have not come to fruition. He’s been the easiest foster I’ve ever had and has endured this time with happiness, contentment, and willingness to accept all the restrictions necessary. I’ve learned a lot from his example; to not grumble so much when I go through a tough situation. For that he’s a true champion.
He continues to be a delight and brings such a smile to my face. I look forward to two weeks from now when x-rays show him healed and ready for action!
Stay tuned to this blog for updates on Rockie’s next consult with NVS which will determine if the activity restrictions can be lifted and what the future holds for him.
As a child of the 70s and 80s, that chant conjured up emotions of triumph. The Rocky movies symbolized overcoming adversity and finding the strength to reach the pinnacle of success.
Now there’s a new guy reaching for the stars. No, I’m not talking about the new movie Creed where Rocky trains a former fighter’s son. I’m talking about a dog with that name (spelled slightly different: “Rockie”).
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I first met Rockie while attending a Tails of the Trail event at Williamson County Animal Center in Tennessee. He was a happy-go-lucky guy with a love of walking. But there was one problem: Rockie showed signs of an impairment with his back legs. He would limp off and on. Since it would come and go, volunteers didn’t know if they should continue on his beloved walk.
The implications of an injured dog in the shelter system are more than just the dog’s pain or inconvenience. An impaired shelter dog is less likely to get adopted, and some shelters might turn to euthanasia.
After taking one look at him, I knew what needed to happen: an orthopedic consultation with Nashville Vet Specialists (NVS).
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Enter Dr. Wes Roach, board certified veterinary surgeon on staff with NVS since 2010. He examined Rockie and confirmed the initial diagnosis of two rear luxating patellae (kneecaps that move side to side out of the normal position which caused the limp to come and go). With a grade 3 out of 4 for severity on the right and 2 out of 4 on the left, he recommended surgery. Since surgery on both patellae would make his 8-week recovery extremely difficult, he recommend repairing the right leg and a reexamination of the severity of the left one after his recovery. It’s possible repairing the right one will allow the left one to remain stable and avoid further surgery.
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On Tuesday, December 29, I brought Rockie to NVS for his surgery, gave him a hug and a kiss and told him I’d be there for him when he was awake. Rockie came through surgery like the champ that he is and Dr. Roach is confident the surgery was a success.
After a few days of severely limited activity and I can report Rockie is still the same happy-go-lucky guy I met that fateful day.
After the upcoming eight weeks of recovery time, he’ll be available for adoption. Stay tuned to the Tails of the Trail blog and Facebook page for updates and photos of our champion!
We met Madison Shedd when she helped run our first Tails of the Trail event with Williamson County Animal Center in July. We quickly learned of her talents as a graphic designer and maker of organic dog treats. Her company Axle Bites subsequently became a sustaining sponsor of Tails of the Trail outreach events.
What is your background?
I am originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, but grew up in Brentwood, Tennessee. I have always been interested in art, which led me to a career in graphic design. My day job is at a print shop in Franklin in the design department. I live in Nashville and collect antiques and restore vintage taxidermy.
Tell us about your own pets, past or present.
Bunners, our eldest, is an 8 year old Dwarf English Spot mix rabbit. I adopted him when I was in high school. While he is only 2 pounds and is mostly blind in both eyes, he is full of “grumpy old man” personality.
Axle is our 6 year old Red Heeler mix who we adopted from a small rural shelter in Tennessee. Axle is my shadow, and I take him with me wherever I can. He often accompanies me on hiking and camping adventures, and does his part to make sure whichever weekend foster dog we have feel right at home.
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Clover, my fiancé’s dog, is the middle sister of our “pack”. She is a soon-to-be 5 year old Husky/Golden Retriever mix. She was adopted at 4 months old, and is still full of puppy energy. Clover is sweet, loves to give kisses, and is one huge, blue eyed, lovable ball of fluff.
Danu, often just referred to as “kitty” is my fiancé’s cat and the baby, just turned a year old this spring. She is a solid black ball of trouble, often terrorizing the dogs which each have 50 plus pounds on her. She was found by my fiancé under a truck as just a teeny tiny 2 pound kitten.
What inspired you to create Axle Bites products?
When we adopted Axle four years ago, it was pretty apparent that he was having some serious digestive issues. He just seemed to be getting sicker and our vet was trying everything. Axle was getting weekly shots, pills, special food additives, and steroids. But nothing seemed to be working. The diagnosis jumped from pancreatitis, to Crohn’s disease, to acid reflux, to missing enzymes. After about a year of trying one treatment after the other our vet finally suggested putting him on a food trial, thinking maybe Axle’s issues were something external like an allergy. So we tried brand after brand of food, at least half a dozen. finally we tried a higher end, grain free food, and sure enough, after about 3 weeks Axle started gaining weight; he was eating and not immediately getting sick. That’s why I started home making his treats: I could control the ingredients and know for sure nothing he was allergic to was in the treats.
After a while I started giving bags of the treats to friends who had dogs. They were a hit! And I was getting requests for different flavors too. I never set out intending to start a business, but with my design background, it wasn’t a big step for me to create branding, packaging, marketing, and an online shop. Now I take Axle with me to most of the local markets I participate in. He was the inspiration for the business, and always draws a big crowd at events!
Do you offer more than the organic dog treats?
Aside from the Axle Bites treats I also offer a small clothing line called PitCrew Apparel. The tanks, t-shirts and hoodies help promote a positive image for a very misunderstood breed of dog.
This clothing line is a great way to promote “bully breeds” and help educate anyone who inquires about the product. In my experience, pittie advocates are always more than happy to talk about their dogs and shed light on any of the countless myths surrounding pits and pit mixes. Whenever true information can be shared and a mind can be changed about these dogs based on a conversation about a t-shirt, I consider that a success!
How has working with shelters changed your outlook on life?
Shelter work has really given me a greater purpose. As a designer, I love what I do, but I feel I’m not making a huge impact on the world. Yeah, I can create a killer logo or marketing piece. But I’m not a firefighter saving someone from a burning building, or a scientist coming up with a cure for a disease. But working with shelter animals I’m at least making their world better. Shelters can be loud and scary and no matter how many times you have cleaned, cleaned, and re-cleaned the kennels that day, its still going to be some level of smelly and dirty.
When I walk into a kennel and bring out a shy, confused dog and walk her out into the grass it can be a scary experience. But I sit next to that dog and talk quietly to her, gently petting her back. And when she finally leans into my chest and lets out a hard sigh of relief, that moment of complete trust and gratitude is what makes it all worth it. Even great shelters like Williamson County can still be pretty stressful for the animals. And when you make that connection with a dog or a cat, you can 100% see how much they appreciate it. And that’s what really got me hooked, seeing what an impact spending time with these animals has. They all crave attention and human contact, and I can do that. I can make a difference in that animal’s life, and in turn her family’s life when they get adopted.
I’ve also formed a strong group of friends from the shelter, people I would have never met if not for my involvement in rescue. It really has become a huge part of my life and how I see my place in the world. If I’ve had a hard day, I will head to the shelter and spend some time with the dogs and my friends. It really has become a stress relief for me, and a way for me to make an impact in my community. If I’m walking dogs after work, spending six hours at a Saturday adoption event, weekend fostering, or transporting a dog to new home or rescue, I’m making a difference and it really gives me a sense of accomplishment and worth.
We’ve all experienced that warm, happy feeling when hanging out with a dog. But can pet ownership directly improve our health?
A Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School explores just that. In Get Healthy, Get a Dog, medical editors Elizabeth Pegg Frates, M.D. and Lisa Moses, V.M.D. reveal the many ways that dogs can improve the lives of humans.
Although a direct causal relationship isn’t proven, a growing body of evidence suggests that having a dog can decrease cardiovascular disease, help people handle stress, and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
From the report:
There are many reasons why dogs are called humans’ best friends: not only do they offer unparalleled companionship, but a growing body of research shows they also boost human health. Owning a dog can prompt you to be more physically active — have leash, will walk. It can also:
- help you be calmer, more mindful, and more present in your life
- make kids more active, secure, and responsible
- improve the lives of older individuals
- make you more social and less isolated
Just petting a dog can reduce the petter’s blood pressure and heart rate (while having a positive effect on the dog as well).
The report also helps readers determine how much exercise your dog may need, points out resources for determining best dog breeds for certain owners and lifestyles, and offers suggestions on volunteering at and adopting from animal shelters.
But while the health and emotional benefits can be good for what ails you, it’s important not to adopt a dog for the primary purpose of decreasing heart disease. Weigh all factors to make sure your lifestyle fits pet ownership. After all, a sedentary and overweight pet owner can lead to a sedentary and overweight dog.