Kudos to all dog lovers!

Dog lovers around the world have proved that when it comes to raise a voice against the atrocities our dogs are facing in any part of the world, 001geographical borders are meaningless. Yes, we are talking about the inhuman activities that are taking place in Kerela.

This has agitated the dog lovers not only in Kerela but also in other parts of India as well as abroad, where people have organised protests against this mass killing of dogs.

It is really heartening that we all have come forward to protect our four-legged companions from such unfortunate fate. Our canines have a right to live and it is our duty to ensure that they are safe and happy.

Even though we cannot change the life of every stray dog but yes, we can gift them a better place to live by educating and creating awareness among people on how to make life better for them. Now, that summers are here, it is a good idea to provide clean drinking water to the strays in your locality. Also, please remember that whenever you start your car, do not forget to chase any dogs who have found respite under your car to protect themselves from the sun.

With this spirit in mind, let us all work towards a better place for our canine friends. Sparkle is thanking all dog lovers for their support to keep his friends safe and happy.

Before I was a dog mom

I made and ate hot meals unmolested,
I had unstained, unfired clothes.
I had quiet conversations on the phone,
even if the doorbell rang.

Before I was a dog mom,
I slept as late as I wanted.
And never worried about how late
I got to bed,
or if I could get into my bed.

Before I was a dog mom,
I didn’t worry if my plants, cleansers,
plastic bags, toilet paper, soap or deodorant
were poisonous or dangerous.

Before I was a dog mom,
I never had been peed on,
pooped on, drooled on, chewed on,
or pinched by puppy teeth.

Before I was a dog mom,
I had complete control of
my thoughts,
my body and mind.
I slept all night without sharing
the covers or pillow.

Before I was a dog mom,
I never looked into big,
soulful eyes and cried.
I never felt my heart break into
a million pieces
when I couldn’t stop the hurt.
I never knew something so furry
and four legged could affect
my heart so deeply.

I had never held a sleeping
puppy just because
I couldn’t put it down.
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night
every 10 minutes to make sure all was well.
I didn’t know how warm it feels inside to feed
a hungry puppy.
I didn’t know that something so small could make
me feel so important.

Before I was a dog mom,
I had never known the warmth,
the joy, the love, the heartache,
the wonderment, or the satisfaction of being
A Dog Mom.

Help, I have a hyperactive dog

Stress is an inevitable part of life and can cause a lot of mental and physical trauma. Even our darling pooches undergo stress at one point or another and it is our responsibility to avoid stressful situations and help them cope with the challenging situation. Your love along with a few destressing techniques can revitalise and rejuvenate your canine friend. Let’s see how.

Dogs and puppies are easily aroused, wound up or stressed by their environment and the best way to prevent this is to avoid the situation in the first place. If your dog is easily stressed by children playing and a lot of activity, then do not take your dog to school when collecting children or into a children’s playground or any other place of high activity. This will only arouse your dog more, and it can take days for his arousal or stress levels to reduce. Places of high activity can be very stressful for your dog and he may not cope too well with the situation when stressed.

Analysing body language

Dog trainingIf you can learn to read your dog’s body language and calming signals, you can then begin to see when your dog is getting a little worried or stressed by a situation and you can take action to help him out by taking him out of the situation or intervening.

If your dog barks, salivates, holds his tail low, cowers, whines, yawns, lunges, becomes highly active, licks his lips, pants, has red eyes, shows the whites of his eyes, blinks a lot, lowers his head, turns his head or his body, performs a play bow, chatters his jaws, wags his tail in a tense way, lies down or urinates, these signs are calming signals – signs of stress – your dog’s way of showing he is worried. When your dog shows these signs, it is time to help him. 

Problems associated with stress

Stress can cause many problems in dogs depending on its level, such as loss of weight, fears, phobias, anxiety and many more problems. Prevention is better than cure. We can intervene in many ways to help our dog out when he is showing calming signals.

Preventing stressful sitautions

Wherever possible it may help to take your dog out of, or away from, the situation causing the stress in the first place. Sometimes it is not possible to take your dog out of a situation immediately, but you may be able to “split-up” by putting yourself in-between your dog and the object, person or dog that is causing the stress, then calling your dog away or using your body, a tree or other object as a barrier to help him out. You may be able to take a wide curve around another dog or human walking nearby or you may be able to change direction. Whatever you do to help your dog out will help him learn to trust you, and realise that his parent understands his need for help.

Reducing stress

Along with taking these prevention measures with your dog, a hyperactive and stressed dog may need a stress reduction programme. If you know a behaviourist who understands calming signals and stress reduction techniques, it may be worthwhile working with him/her to help bring your dog’s stress levels down to a manageable level.

Massage : It is an excellent form of relaxation for your dog. There are many forms of massage available for dogs that you can learn, such as the Bowen technique, T-touch, Shiatsu, Swedish massage or just gentle stroking. Gentle stroking is something we can all do. This massage is not a deep muscle massage but is done by stroking the skin very slowly taking about 10 seconds to stoke from the top of the dog’s head to its tail.

If your dog will not lie or sit, then just stroke him while he is standing and eventually he will learn to lie down and enjoy the therapy. This is very calming for your dog. At first you will need to massage your dog for about 20 minutes a day (depending on your dog and what he will tolerate), until he gets used to it, then reduce the time down to 15 minutes, then 10 minutes and then you will eventually get the time down to just five minutes a day to do the therapy. This can be done while watching television or at any other time when you are sitting and relaxing.

Kong toys : Another calming tool is the kong. This is a toy that you can stuff with yummy food treats for your dog. These are great pacifiers for your dog. You can use fish and cream cheese to stuff in them, as most dogs seem to like these. However you will need to experiment on what sort of food your dog likes as a special treat. Once you have established the foods your dog likes, you can then stuff them into your kong and place it in the freezer. When you give the kong to your dog, it will be frozen. This frozen kong will keep your dog amused and mentally stimulated for an hour or two and when that is finished he will be tired and most likely sleep for a while. The stuffed kong is excellent for the type of dog who likes to hang around you at your dinner table begging for food. You can just place him in his own bed with his stuffed kong while you are eating and your dog should leave you alone in peace to eat your meal while he is occupied and mentally stimulated finding ways to extract the food.

The kong is also good if you are going out of the house for a couple of hours, as you can leave your dog with a stuffed kong to keep him busy while you are out. This will help keep his stress levels low and help prevent anxiety. It is also great to use when visitors arrive, as the stuffed kong will occupy the dog’s attention, keeping him away from sniffing around or jumping on the visitors. It will also help to lower the stress he may feel when people come to visit, especially if children visit. However, make sure the children understand they must never take the kong or anything from the dog. The kong is also great for puppies who are teething or like to chew a lot. The frozen kong helps to numb the sore gums of the new teeth pushing through and will also keep your puppy chewing on something he is allowed to chew on. This will keep him happy and amused for many hours of the day.

Yawning : One last tip to help your dog to calm down is yawning. You have probably seen how dogs will yawn when a little stressed in order to calm themselves. We can also use this simple behaviour to help calm our dogs (and ourselves). If you want your dog to settle down with you, but your dog is finding it hard to settle, it may be because he is still aroused by the daily activity. If you just sit and yawn for a few minutes, you should see your dog begin to settle and lie down. He may even start yawning to help himself settle. You can also use yawning at times when your dog may be frightened, to help him cope with that.

There are many things we can do to help our dogs to calm down and these are just a few tips to help you. Use them and see a change in your dog’s behaviour as he becomes more content, more mentally stimulated and more relaxed.

(Nicole Mackie has over 14 years of experience in handling, exhibiting, training, observing, studying and sharing her life with dogs, gaining many qualifications over the years such as canine behaviour, canine psychology, general animal science and experience in veterinary nursing. She is a regular radio speaker and writer for magazines, works with behaviour problems in dogs and runs socializing groups for dogs with social problems.)


Introducing your old dog to a new dog

If you’re thinking of adding another dog to the family, it’s important to first weigh your own needs against the needs of your older dog. Do you feel that your dog would enjoy another dog’s company, possibly giving him a new lease on life? Whatever your reasons may be, just be aware that bringing a new dog is a huge change for an older dog – and unless you go about it the right way, it could create a lot of stress.

Here are a few ways you can help make the process of introducing your older dog to a new dog less stressful :


  • Choose a neutral location for introductions : By choosing a location that is on neutral ground (for instance, a park or an unfamiliar yard), your older dog is less likely to view the new dog as an invader of his territory. With both dogs on a leash (you’ll need to get the help of another person for this), let them greet and sniff one another, but only for a short amount of time. Then, give each dog a simple command, such as “sit” or “stay” – be sure to give them a treat when they obey. If all goes well up to this point, take the dogs for a walk, allowing them to sniff and investigate each other from time to time.
  • Use positive reinforcement : When you talk to each of the dogs, use a happy, friendly tone of voice. Never talk to them in a way that is threatening. Reward good behaviour with treats and/or compliments of “good dog!”
  • Monitor their body language : The “play-bow” is one sign that will tell you things are going well between your two dogs. This invitation to play is characterized by one dog crouching with its front legs on the ground and its backside in the air. Body language that indicates an aggressive response include hair standing up on the back, bared teeth, deep growls or a prolonged stare. If you notice these kinds of responses, calmly stop the interaction. Using a positive tone of voice, distract each dog by getting them interested in something else.
  • On home turf : If your outdoor introduction has been successful – in other words, there have been no fearful or aggressive responses – it’s time to take your dogs home. If you drove to your neutral location, you’ll need to decide whether the dogs will be alright to travel in the same vehicle. Ideally, you should have separate crates for each, but if they’re large dogs, this may not be possible.

When the new dog is a puppy

If the dog you’re bringing home is just a puppy, you’ll want to do your introductions indoors. With the puppy in your lap and your older dog on a leash held by someone else, let the older dog sniff, lick and explore the puppy. A couple of minutes is more than enough for this initial introduction. Remove the puppy from the room, then lavish your older dog with attention and praise. On the second or third meeting, if all seems safe, allow the puppy onto the floor, and monitor that situation carefully for a few minutes. Remove the puppy from the room, and again, give your older dog praise and attention. Repeat this exercise at least twice daily until you’re comfortable that the two will get along. It’s not a good idea to leave your puppy alone with your older dog. There should always be someone there to supervise.

The importance of private time

Give your older dog some quiet time away from your new dog or puppy every once in a while – he’ll appreciate the break. And be sure to give him lots of individual attention so he’ll know that he still holds a special place in your heart and hasn’t been ‘replaced.’

Dog massage: magic at the finger tips

Dog massage: magic at the finger tips


Love, companionship and fidelity that a dog can offer are boundless. Whenever your pooch is ill, your pet feels better when petted and touched. Here, Jill A Deming introduces an advanced method, body massage, to promote both the physical and emotional well-being of our furry friends.

I arrived at the house to conduct a massage session with a Miniature Poodle named Castro. I had been seeing him on a monthly basis for a year. Although this was the first time I had seen Castro since he had undergone major surgery on his intestinal tract. He was healing at a remarkable rate – his veterinarians were quite pleased. I unfolded the portable grooming table and began work. He soon relaxed and his pulse rate and breathing slowed. The other animals in the house – 3 dogs and 2 cats – began to approach the table and sit at my feet, as if drawn to Castro’s relaxation. It is a response I often see in household animals that aren’t being massaged. As I began the session with Castro, I gently warmed the skin and muscle tissue with my hands. Gradually, I began feeling for muscle knots, tension and other irregularities in the tissue. Slowly I worked them out, returning to the more compromised areas, using various techniques.

How massage works

Massage is a deliberate and focused technique of touching and the manipulation of muscles and skin to promote well-being. It enables an injured animal to harness its innate resources and capabilities, thereby speeding recovery and correction of a range of physical deficiencies and emotional challenges. When skin receptors are stimulated, they transmit messages to the brain. Once the brain receives these messages, it initiates the production of chemicals that feed major body systems such as the blood, muscles, nerve cells, tissues, and organs. Massage is a vehicle that stimulates these skin receptors and releases the chemicals necessary for the body’s optimum performance.

Massage technique

The health issues and the needs of each dog is different so, a variety of ‘tools’ must be available for the canine massage therapist. Massage is divided into categories that are further divided into techniques. Therefore, a canine massage therapist has numerous techniques to choose from when faced with a particular situation.

“Effleurage” is a sweeping motion performed in the direction of the lymph nodes and encourages toxins to be carried out of the body. I conclude each session with this move because it helps the body to clear any toxins I may have stirred up in the course of the massage.

Massage benefits

Consider a litter of puppies playing and tussling with one another. This is a rudimentary form of massage. They are stimulating each other’s skin receptors and increasing the development of their brains.

Massage is particularly effective in treatment of injuries and can also be very effective in treating swelling, muscle spasms, scar tissue, strains, sprains, torn muscles and ligaments, lameness, post-foaling difficulties, and general trauma. It has been proved that animals who receive regular sessions of massage often heal from trauma at a faster rate than those who don’t receive massage.

Massage helps an animal who temporarily has its activity level curtailed by encouraging circulation throughout the system. It does this by dilating blood vessels, which increases the rate at which blood-borne nutrients and oxygen reach cells. The increased circulation also removes waste products such as lymph and lactic acid. Because muscle tissue is comprised of cells, this results in healthier tissue.

Continuous massage helps to reduce the output of ACTH (a stress hormone) that aids the immune system in maintaining its health and disease-fighting capabilities. Constant stress weakens the immune system and makes an animal more likely to succumb to infection.

Blows, wounds or any other type of trauma to the body can cause fibrous tissue adhesions beneath the skin. This impedes the proper movement of the muscles, resulting in future health problems. Tissue adhesions can be considerably reduced by the proper use of massage.

A dog who has scars on his body will benefit from massage in that area because it will contribute to break up the tissue adhessions and allow the muscles to move as they need to. For puppies, massage is useful in stimulating the flow of blood to the bones, thereby nourishing the skeletal system. It aids in the development of nerve pathways in the cortex and sub cortex of the brain, resulting in a more rapid rate of learning.

If you are interested in massage for your dog, ensure that you utilise the services of a certified canine massage therapist.

(Jill A Deming is a biologist, and had numerous years of working experience with exotic animals as a zookeeper. She now lives in the Virginia and specializes in canine and equine massage. More info can be had from

– by Jill A Deming

Dog Health

Is Your Dog suffering from Ehrlichiosis

Ticks are carriers of various canine diseases and ehrlichiosis is one of the most fatal diseases caused by them. The greatest challenge in battling ehrlichiosis is in detecting and accurately assessing the clinical signs.

Over the past several decades, ehrlichiosis has emerged as an important threat to dogs worldwide. During recent years, it has gained the reputation as “the AIDS of the canine world.” Dogs not only become clinically affected with ehrlichia or rickettsia but may also serve as a reservoir host.

What is ehrlichiosis?

Canine ehrlichiosis is tick-borne potentially fatal and enigmatic infectious rickettsial disease of dogs, prevalentDog Health in India since 1944. It is colloquially known as canine rickettsiosis, canine typhus, idiopathic haemorrhagic syndrome, canine haemorrhagic fever, tropical canine pancytopenia, Lahore canine fever, Nairobi bleeding disease or tracker dog disease in many parts of the world. Its ability to mimic other diseases and devastating effects makes canine ehrlichiosis a deadly disease. The disease often remains undiagnosed in naturally occurring cases in field owing to nonspecific symptoms, species variation, coand concurrent infections, etc. Hence, timely diagnosis in severely affected chronic cases is escaped leading to futile treatment.

What causes ehrlichiosis?

The disease is caused by obligate intracellular bacteria of genus Ehrlichia of the family Rickettsiacae. Three species of Ehrlichia viz. Ehrlichia canis, E. ewingii and E. platys have been reported in India. Ehrlichia canis, a small and pleomorphic organism that infects circulatory leukocytes, mainly monocytes, causes canine ehrlichiosis. The organism occurs either singly or in compact colonies or inclusions, termed morulae, in the cytoplasm of the infected cells. E. canis, E. ewingii and E. platys are considered strictly canine parasites.

How ehrlichiosis is transmitted?

Canine ehrlichiosis is transmitted between dogs by the brown dog ticks, Rhipicephalus sanguineus and possibly the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis. Ehrlichia infections have frequently been reported in dogs with simultaneous infections with Babesia, reflecting concurrent transmission of organisms from commonly infected reservoir ticks. Ehrlichia species can be transmitted by blood transfusion, so blood donors should be screened.

What are the symptoms of ehrlichiosis?

Naturally occurring canine ehrlichiosis is manifested by a wide variety of clinical signs. The greatest challenge in battling ehrlichiosis is in detecting and accurately assessing the clinical signs. The only consistent finding in canine ehrlichiosis is the inconsistency of clinical symptoms. Clinical signs in acute phase of the disease are transient, subtle and mild. Clinical signs mimic those caused by other diseases. Signs may appear 1-3 weeks after infection and often disappear within 2-4 weeks.

Acute phase : Mild depression, anorexia, lethargy, fever, and mild loss in body weight, lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly characterize acute phase. Despite significant thrombocytopenia, haemorrhagic diathesis usually does not occur. Also, ocular signs are not commonly seen at this stage. Whenever ocular signs are present, they involve nearly every structure of the eye (including conjunctivitis, conjunctival or iridal petechiae and echymoses, corneal oedema, hyphema, panuveitis, secondary glaucoma, retinal haemorrhage and detachment). The most frequently observed ocular signs in canine monocytic ehrlichiosis are anterior uveitis, retinal vascular engorgement and tortuosity, perivascular cuffing, diffuse retinitis, retinal haemorrhages and detachment. Clinical signs resolve without treatment in most cases and the dog enters into subclinical phase, which is asymptomatic. During acute phase, transient proteinuria without histologic evidence of glomerular disease has been observed.

Chronic phase : Dogs unable to eliminate infection enter into chronic phase that is characterized by weakness, depression, anorexia, vomiting, emaciation, pale mucosa, erratic fever, peripheral oedema especially of the hind limb and scrotum, and hepato- and splenomegaly. Haemorrhagic episodes (such as skin petechiae and ecchymoses, buccal haemorrhages, epistaxis, haematuria, haematochezia, haemetemesis and hyphema) are also seen in many cases. Interstitial pneumonia, arthritis, renal failure may also occur occasionally. Increased lung sounds on auscultation are attributable to pneumonic changes in the lungs that develop in canine ehrlichiosis or may reflect concurrent cardiopulmonary disease. Neurological signs (such as depression, ataxia, convulsions, cranial nerve deficit, and head tilt) are also seen in canine ehrlichiosis with or without concurrent babesiosis.

Large variations in clinical signs are due to a number of factors including differences in pathogenicity between strains of ehrlichia, breeds of dog, coinfection of ehrlichial species, concurrent infection with other organisms (such as babesia, trypanosoma, dirofiliaria) and/or immune status of the dog.

How ehrlichiosis can be cured?

Treatment of ailing dogs requires professional skill because of many complications and should therefore be undertaken under the advice and care of the competent veterinarian.

Tetracycline, doxycycline, chloramphenicol and imidocarb are the drug of choice and if given timely in appropriate dose schedule are beneficial. Supportive therapy with polyionic isotonic fluids, blood transfusion, and vitamin B complex hastens the recovery. Treatment of severe chronic form of ehrlichiosis is unrewarding in many cases particularly in severely pancytopenic dogs owing to uncontrolled haemorrhages and secondary infections.

For the arrest of haemorrhages during severe chronic phase, blood transfusion is undoubtedly a life saving measure of the first order.

How ehrlichiosis can be prevented?

Prevention of canine ehrlichiosis is possible only with treatment of vertebrate host. Tick population can be controlled by spraying kennels and dipping/ spraying or bathing dogs at an interval of 1-2 weeks, as vector transmission is probably the only means of spread under natural circumstances. Common acaricides such as amitraz, fiproil and pyrethrins are effective in controlling ticks. Long-term use of tetracycline or repository oxytetracycline has been used to prevent or control epizootics of ehrlichiosis. Longer therapy of 1-2 years duration has been recommended in endemic areas so that infected ticks die off. Despite success of the tetracycline in prevention of the ehrlichiosis, it does not seem practical owing to the possibility of future development of resistant strains of E. canis. There is no lasting immunity in case of E. canis infection following treatment. Treated dogs, cleared of infection, become susceptible to re-infection and clinical disease develops despite antibody titre. At present there is no effective anti E. canis vaccine for the prevention or control of canine ehrlichiosis. Because E. canis is not passed transovarially in the tick, it can be eliminated in the environment by tick control or by treatment of all dogs throughout a generation of ticks.

(Dr. J.P. Varshney, B.V.Sc. & A.H.; M.V.Sc (Medicine); and Ph.D. (Vet. Med.), has more than 40 years of clinical experience and has recently superannuated from the post of Principal Scientist (Veterinary Medicine), Division of Medicine, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar, Bareilly. He is in receipt by numerous awards. He can be contacted at 9897224580 or email at

Looking after your dog

Owning a dog is a big responsibility, and giving him the best care and attention can help improve the quality and length of his life. Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet is certainly necessary to keep him fit and healthy. But other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are just as important. Let’s take a look at all the grooming procedures you can do for your dog to help keep him in good shape:

Grooming your dog

To keep your dog looking and feeling his best, you need to groom him regularly. This is a good opportunity to check the condition of his coat and skin, and to look for any abnormalities such as swellings, wounds or evidence of parasites. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, call your vet for advice.

Checking your dog’s ears and eyes

When you’re grooming your dog, you should check that his eyes and ears are clean, clear and free from excessive discharge. If his eyes aren’t clean, you can gently clean them with moist cotton batting. Use a different swab for each eye. If his eyes are red, or there is a lot of discharge, get advice from your vet.

As for your dog’s ears, if they’re soiled, you can wipe them with a small pad of dry cotton batting. But don’t delve beyond the area you can see, and don’t poke anything solid inside; the ear is very delicate and can be easily damaged. Dogs with long ears are more likely to suffer from ear complaints, so be extra vigilant with these breeds. A lot of dark wax or discharge in the ear could indicate that your dog has ear mites or an infection. Again, ask your veterinarian for advice.

Why you need to check your dog’s mouth regularly

Check your dog’s mouth regularly. His teeth should be clean and free from deposits, and his gums should be a healthy pink colour. As he ages, deposits may develop around the base of his teeth near the gums. This can lead to bad breath, mouth pain, gum disease, and infections, and eventually it could cause the teeth to fall out. Your vet can scale your dog’s teeth to remove the tartar, remove any loose teeth, and polish the teeth to slow down the recurrence of deposits. Usually, when a vet does this, the dog has to be put under a general anaesthetic.

Brushing your dog’s teeth every day will help to prevent building up of deposits. Use either a special canine toothbrush or a child’s toothbrush, along with toothpaste designed for dogs. Do not use human toothpaste on your dog, as it can cause gastrointestinal upset – and dogs usually hate the taste. If you start brushing your dog’s teeth when he’s young, he’ll become used to the routine. For a treat, give your dog specially designed dog biscuits – such as Pedigree Dentabone – that help reduce the build-up of plaque and tartar, and maintain your dog’s oral health and hygiene.

Check your dog’s nails

It’s also important to keep an eye on your dog’s nails. Dogs who regularly exercise on hard surfaces are less likely to need any attention, as their nails wear down to about the correct length. But if your dog exercises mostly on grass, his nails may grow longer and may need trimming.

Pay particular attention to the dew claws, if he has them, since they don’t come in contact with the ground and don’t become worn down. They tend to grow around in a circle, and may pierce the pad. This is painful to him and may even cause lameness. You can trim the nails yourself, but you have to do it correctly with suitable clippers. If you don’t know how to do this, ask your vet or a professional dog groomer for help.

Don’t let your dog overeat

Please remember that it’s important to control your dog’s body weight and keep him in optimum condition. Feel his body, particularly over the ribs, to check that he’s the correct weight. You should be able to feel the individual ribs under a cover of body tissue. If you have trouble doing this, your vet can do it for you during routine visits. If you can’t feel your dog’s ribs, it might mean his diet should be changed. Your vet will give you advice on this.

“Paw-Tales” l July-Aug 2006

Ginger – a Friend, Partner, a defender…
Pets are wonderful companions and dogs are the best. He is friendly, confident and a faithful comrade. My pet, Ginger, a golden Labrador is a loving, playful dog, true to
his Lab characteristics; he is affectionate and hates to stay alone.
When I come back from school, he greets me with total exuberance. He jumps up and if I am not careful – I can be floored!! His eyes are very expressive and if we don’t give him the desired biscuit, he simply sulks.
The most comical antic of his is when he chases lizards and birds. I only have to say “Lizzi Bizzi” and he goes berserk. He barks and jumps and tries to catch the
lizard, and when he cannot reach it, he reacts comically. His antics always leave us in splits of laughter. He is  a great companion and we all love Ginger.
– Vrinda

Emotional needs of your dog

Dogs are emotional beings and need time and love. As their guardians, it becomes vital for us to understand their body langauge to know what they want to convey.
Emotional needs
The emotional needs of your dog are as vast and complicated as the emotional needs of humans. Dogs feel grief and can take a long time to deal with the loss of a family member. At the same time, they feel the need to bond with their family members, need time to adjust to new family members such as a new partner or new baby in the same way we do. They also feel the need to belong within a family or pack and need to make choices. They need space as we do and need to feel safe and secure, to live in harmony with their humans and other pets within the family.
Communication system
Dogs have a well-developed communication system in which they communicate with one another, other animals and to their human family. It is up to us to learn this communication system known as calming signals so we can develop a better relationship and understanding with our dog. Without some knowledge of this communication we are very limited in our understanding of what our dog is trying to tell us, how he may be feeling, his needs and when he is afraid or insecure. Much of the dog’s commu-nication is ignored or not understood by their human family, making it hard for the dog to try and communicate his needs to them. Learning your dog’s body language and calming signals is paramount to developing your understanding of your own dog, his stress levels and what he is trying to tell you.
Calming signals
Some of the calming signals your dog uses to communicate are: panting, blinking eyes, yawning, turning head, turning body, whining, barking, growling, wagging tail, sitting, laying down, urinating, splitting up, lip licking
and many more. Every dog is different and will use some calming signals more than others.
It is up to the owner to understand which signals their dog is using and what their dog is telling them by his body language. We must learn this body language if we want a good relationship with our dog and to meet our dogs’ needs in every aspect of his life.
One example of our dog using calming signals is when dogs go between partners. Two people may be sitting on a sofa and hugging each other, then suddenly the dog jumps up and goes between the couple. This behaviour is often mistaken for jealousy but, in fact the dog is splitting up a potential conflict.
Dogs are natural conflict solvers. If two dogs were too close together, then a third dog would go in between to split up a potential conflict. As their humans we can use this same behaviour with our dogs by walking between them to split up and calm a situation.
It is not normal for dogs to hug each other by placing their paws over each other or making contact the way humans do. The dog sees this as threatening and a potential for conflict and will come between in order to calm the situation and prevent conflict. Dogs prefer to live in harmony and to know their family members are not going to get into a conflict. This is the same in a multi-dog household when a family member pets one dog, another may rush over and come between in order to prevent a potential conflict and calm the situation down.
Recommended reading
On Talking Terms with Dogs : Calming Signals – by Turid Rugaas ( Your Dog – by
Trish King (
(Nicole Mackie is a dog-training instructor at the Sheila Harper Canine Education Centre in the Midlands of England. She also takes clicker-training seminars in New Zealand.)

Caring for dog with food sensitivities

If your dog has an intolerance or reaction to certain food ingredients, you can work with your vet to discover what that ingredient is and then change your dog’s diet. Here’s what to know about food sensitivity.

What is food allergy?
Veterinarians estimate that food allergies cause 1% of all skin problems in dogs. Other allergic skin problems, such as allergy to flea bites, are more common. No-one knows exactly what percentage of gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting or diarrhoea, are caused by food allergies, as pet owners often change the food they feed their dog once one type of food is tolerated. Pets who have itching skin as well as gastrointestinal problems are more likely to have food allergies.
The exact way a food ingredient in the diet causes the symptoms of food allergy is also still a mystery. Animal specialists suspect that abnormal amounts or types of protein particles from food are absorbed into the bloodstream from the digestive tract. This causes antibodies and inflammatory chemicals to be released from the cells of the digestive tract and skin, a process called “Hypersensitivity.” The skin and digestive tract may then become sensitive to food which contains that particular ingredient. Sensitivity reactions such as itching of the skin, vomiting or diarrhoea, may occur within minutes to hours, or even several days later.

Which foods cause food allergy?
Any food ingredient you’ve been feeding your dog can cause hypersensitivity reactions. The protein part of the food is the most likely culprit, often in foods such as beef, eggs, wheat gluten and lamb.
Some animals develop diarrhoea when they consume milk, although this is not a true allergy; it’s described as an intolerance, as a hypersensitivity reaction is not part of the picture.

Diagnosing food allergy
Skin irritation and scratching can result from causes other than food allergy. That’s why it’s important that you carefully consider other causes, such as allergies to fleas. If your dog’s skin damage is severe and is making him irritable and miserable, your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs until the “itch-scratch” cycle ends.

The elimination diet
To get to the bottom of the problem, your vet may ask you to list all the foods in your dog’s diet, including treats, bones and table scraps. Your vet will look through this list for foods your dog hasn’t previously eaten and he or she will then prescribe a nutritionally balanced diet that probably won’t cause allergic reactions in your dog. This type of diet is called a “selected protein diet.”
Feeding your dog only the elimination diet for the prescribed time is the best diagnostic procedure to find out if your dog has a food allergy. It may take up to 6 or even 10 weeks for the itching caused by the allergy to completely disappear, so it’s important for the elimination diet to be nutritionally complete to prevent nutritional deficiencies and ill health. Your dog may be showing gastrointestinal signs such as diarrhoea, but these usually go away within a few days.

The food challenge
To find out which protein sources your dog is allergic to, your vet may recommend testing different protein sources once your dog’s clinical signs have improved. The way you do this test is to introduce suspected food items to the diet in small quantities—one new food ingredient per week. If the itching or diarrhoea your dog previously experienced comes back, you’ve likely succeeded in your sleuth work and discovered an offending food ingredient. If, however, you don’t want to try the food challenge and your dog is happy on the elimination diet, you may continue to feed him these foods – as long as they represent a complete and balanced diet.

Guidelines for care and attention

  • If your dog has been prescribed drugs, make sure you administer them exactly as prescribed.
  • Make sure your dog has access to a plentiful supply of clean, fresh water. Eliminate other fluids, such as milk, at least while your pet is on the elimination diet.
  • When feeding your dog the elimination diet, give him absolutely no other foods.
  • You may need to separate pets in the household during feeding times.
  • You may need to feed your dog the elimination diet for up to10 weeks before all the allergic signs disappear. Be patient!
  • Watch your dog closely for remission or a decrease in severity of signs during the elimination diet period and let your vet know about any improvements or reactions to specific foods.