Geeky Pets 101: 2 Dog Walking Apps

In May, Fujitsu, a company in Japan released a pedometer for dogs. This isn’t a new concept. The pedometer is on the dog’s collar and transmits pace and mileage to the owner’s smartphone which then can be uploaded to a website. Sound familiar? Sound like the Nike+ iPod app that many of us used with the sensor that attached to our sneakers? Yes, same idea. What makes this pedometer stand out is that it is designed for the dogs. It monitors and records the number of steps they take, as well as signs of shivering and external temperature information, the device enables owners to stay informed about the dog’s regular activity levels, making it easy to detect any changes in their pet’s health.

The downfall: It’s only available in Japan.

So what about us dog lovers in US?
What can we use that may have the same techy, geeky, feel?

While there isn’t a gadget that attaches to our dog’s collar and logs miles to a website or server just yet, there are apps that use our smartphones and the GPS technology to log walks we take with our pups. At the moment, we may not know how much they paced while we were at work or how many miles they logged zooming around while they were at the dog park, we can log our walks with our buddies.

A simple search in the app stores for Android and iPhones brings up several results that track the miles, map it, and allow users to share information to social networks. While they all may seem to do the same thing, how they do it, the design, and usability made two stand out the most to me.

For the iPhone, MapMyDOGWALK is from the makers of iMapMyFITNESS and offers a convenient way of logging dog walks while automatically tracking how many calories are being burned at the time. It’s easy to set up with Twitter and if you want to, your music can play while you’re walking. The map function keeps track of the route taken and syncs it to the MapMyWalk.com website. It also lets users know about any upcoming dog events in the local area that might be worth checking out. MapMyDOGWALK is free to download.

For Android, The Purina Petometer, a free app (also available for iPhone) lets owners upload photos and profile data for up to six dogs and share details and locations of those walks with their Facebook friends. A barking-dog alarm signals when the pre-set duration of the walk is over. The app also lets pet owners set alerts for the next walk time, access pet exercise routines as created by Purina’s animal care experts, and build a calendar of walks, veterinary visits, grooming appointments and other canine commitments. Users can share their walks on Facebook and Twitter to show off just how fit and trim their dog is becoming!

Images from Engadget, Apple, and Google Play

3 Diseases Dogs Can Pass To Us

Dogs give us a lot: companionship, love, laughs, and drooly licks. There are so many wonderful reasons to having a dog and so many reasons we love them. However, if we’re not mindful of their health we might accidentally also endanger ours. There are some diseases and parasites that can spread from dogs to us. Just remember that sometimes our pets may have a parasite or disease that isn’t showing symptoms and a simple lick of your hand right before you pick up your sandwich might spread something from them to you.

Here are 3 common sicknesses we can get from our dogs:

1: Ringworm – If you start noticing small hairless circular shaped patches on your dog, it might be ringworm. Ringworm is caused by a fungus that can be easily transmitted from animal to human. It spreads quickly and a hug from your best buddy can mean you might have a red circular spot on your neck afterwards. Wash your hands after petting dogs, it cuts down on the chances of getting ringworm. It’s annoying but easy to treat with medication from your vet and anti-fungal creams that your doctor can recommend for you.

2: Lyme Disease – Even though this isn’t contracted directly from dogs, it can be spread by the ticks that may jump onto your dog and then to you. Ticks are carriers of Lyme disease and since they often hitch rides on dogs, owners can also develop the disease if they are bitten by the infected tick. Some symptoms are rashes that resemble a bulls-eye target, fever, lethargy, and sometimes discomfort moving around. If you live in an area where ticks are around, talk to your vet about the best preventative for your dog and remember to stay on schedule with it so your dog and you can be protected.

3: Roundworms – These are gross! They are parasites that look like spaghetti and are found in your dog’s digestive system. They are serious because they can block your pet’s tract and cause major problems. If your dog has them and you or your kids play with the dog, wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap. If your kids play in the yard where your dog has gone potty, the eggs and worms may spread to your kids. It’s important to keep your dog de-wormed. Talk to your vet about the best ways to protect your pet and your family from these parasites.

Canine Influenza: What Is It?

A few months ago I got a phone call from a telemarketing agency that focused on pet care. The woman was talking to me about canine influenza. I asked, “Isn’t this kennel cough?” She replied that is often mistaken for kennel cough and continued to talk to me about how it has become a widespread concern for many pet owners. In the end, I had to let her know that as much as I appreciated the information that I did not own a dog. I own two cats. But I asked a few friends who have dogs if they had to do anything extra lately with their dog at the vet, like a new shot or something. Some of my friends live in areas where it was urged to get their dog the leptospirosis shot, and one of my friends who just adopted a dog this past winter is going to talk to her vet this week about canine flu.

What is Canine Influenza?

Canine influenza is a viral infection caused by Influenza Virus A subtype H3N8. It is closely related to equine flu and might be a mutation of that virus. It can cause mild illness but if a dog has a weak immune system or if left untreated, it can be severe.

Typical symptoms of canine influenza include a soft, wet cough with a low fever. This can last about a week or more and there may also be some discharge from the nose that is yellow or green in color if a secondary infection arises. If the dog has a severe case of canine influenza there can be a high fever, difficulty breathing, and heavy discharge. It is not fatal, but can be extremely uncomfortable for dogs and if left untreated, can weaken the immune system and expose them to catch secondary infections.

Is the virus just in a few states, or is it all over?

Not every state, every dog daycare, or boarding facility urges owners to be mindful of canine influenza. This is because it’s an endemic virus. Outbreaks are occurring sporadically in certain areas. Some of the states have had outbreaks of canine influenza are Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Rhode Island, Texas, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Oregon, among others. If you want to know if your city or state has had an outbreak, talk to your vet.

How does a dog get influenza?

The virus is contagious and spreads from dog to dog by sharing the same environment. It’s respiratory based and so dogs who are together for a period of time at a dog show, boarding facility, or shelter can spread it around. Your dog may catch it from another at a dog park as well even though you are outside.

The symptoms resemble kennel cough or bordatella and only your vet can diagnose if it is canine influenza or something else. There is currently no reliable rapid test available to veterinarians for diagnosing canine influenza but there are tests available at certain diagnostic labs. If your vet suspects that your dog may have the virus, s/he may urge for further testing.

Any dog infected should be kept away from other dogs until the illness completely resolves. Wash your hands often and keep areas clean if you work or have several dogs in the house and one of them is ill. If you work with dogs such as in a shelter, daycare, or boarding facility wear gloves, disinfect areas very well, and make sure that animals that are ill are kept away from others till they are well again.

Stop Your Dog From Licking and Chewing Her Paws

If your dog chews her paws, licks, and bites the padding it could be mean she is having a reaction to something she is in contact with, but determining what it is can be difficult. Anything from food allergies, substances on the sidewalk that bug her, elements in the soil, to anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorders can all cause this type of behavior. It can be irritating to her and you. She might even end up chewing through her outer paw pad and giving herself a raw blistery spot that is then exposed to dirt and germs and could become infected. She might also end up with red, sore, hairless areas on her feet that then need to be treated.

Finding out what is causing the irritation on her paws can take a lot of trial and error and can become costly, take a long time to find the trigger, and may not always be solved. So what can you do to address the problem at hand while you try finding the source?

You can try a simple foot bath. Yes, a foot bath for your dog, but not just any foot bath, try an iodine foot bath. You can get iodine at your local pharmacy. Now, while this may not solve the cause it will help provide some comfort for your dog.

In a wash tub or small tub, mix warm water and iodine together. It should end up being the color of iced tea. You can eyeball this, keep it light. Once you have the mixture ready, get your pup to stand in it and soak her feet. She may try to jump away so you might have to bribe her with some treats and ask a friend to help keep her still. This is a short foot bath and doesn’t need to last longer than five minutes. The whole point of the bath is to get the feet submerged in the solution to wash away the bacteria, allergens, and any external elements that are making her uncomfortable.

You don’t need to rinse her feet after the bath, simply pat them dry and let her romp. You can reuses the solution a few times before having to make a new mix, it will last about two or three days. This can be an end of the night routine after she’s gone outside for the last time.

During the day, while on walks or after playtime in a dog park, you can wipe her feet when she comes with pet wipes that you can find at your local pet store or using a damp towel. It won’t remove all the bacteria and allergens but it will remove some dirt and also save your carpet and floors from dirty muddy paws.

The iodine bath may not work for all dogs who chew and lick their paws but it can offer some comfort to those have reactions to their environment. It won’t hurt them and doesn’t take long. It may just make them wonder what’s going on and why they have to soak their little paws once a day.

Good luck!

Treating Mange Naturally

Mange is an inflammatory disease in which large numbers mites attack dogs whose immune system cannot regulate and fight them off. Dogs have mites on their body but if the mites reproduce too quickly, or become too much in number, your dog may end up with itchy red spots, loss of fur, or scabby spots.

Your vet will usually recommend a medicated bath or maybe some topical cream. Some of the ingredients in the shampoos and ointments may be too harsh for your dog and you might want to opt for something more natural. Talk to your vet before trying any of the following natural ways to treat mange in case your dog’s case needs more TLC.

1: Raw Apple Cider Vinegar: You can apply this vinegar directly to your dog’s skin on the red spots to help kill mites and relieve the itchiness. You can also mix some of the vinegar into your dog’s food. It will affect the PH level of your dog’s biochemistry which will help your dog fight off the number of mites that are irritating her skin.

2: Olive Oil: Applying a little olive oil to your dog’s dry scaly patches will help moisturize the areas and kill mites. Just be careful that your dog doesn’t leave oily marks on your furniture.

3: Honey: Honey is an antioxidant and antiseptic. You can rub a little raw honey onto your dog’s red spots and affected areas to help relieve the itchiness.

4: Hydrogen Peroxide and Borax: A bath with a mixture of this can remedy mange. Be careful to use Borax and not Boric Acid! Dissolve 1 to 2 tablespoons of borax into every 16 ounces of hydrogen peroxide. You can place the mixture into a spray bottle and wash your dog in it once a week. Don’t rinse your dog or towel dry. Let the solution dry naturally so it can be absorbed into the skin. Don’t be surprised if your dog’s fur lightens a little as peroxide is often used to whiten teeth, bleach hair, and remove stains. Don’t use this treatment for more than 6 or 7 weeks.

These remedies can also be great for maintenance if your dog is prone to having some problems regulating and fighting off mites.

What is Heartworm?

Heart-worm, known also as dirofilaria immitis, is a roundworm that travels from host to host through the blood and is transferred and spread by mosquitoes that bite dog after dog. The worm is a slim one that takes up residence in the heart of a dog and can live there for many years sometimes. It’s an invader and will multiply, complete its life cycle, and slowly kill the host if left untreated.

Common signs of heart-worm infection in dogs include the following:

  • lethargy
  • anorexia
  • coughing (especially during play or exercise)
  • hesitation to play
  • weight loss

Heart-worm symptoms can go undetected for quite a while especially if your dog is not active or older. For an active dog, the visible signs of coughing, being overly exhausted after play, and coughing when not exercising can be indicators of an infection. If you believe your dog may have a heart-worm infection, you should get her tested as soon as possible.
If your dog is diagnosed with heart-worms, the treatment can take a few weeks to months to fully eradicate them. This is because adult heart-worms can take months to die. Dogs must rest for several months after treatment to prevent dead worms from entering the lungs.

Prevention is much easier and cheaper in the end. The first line of defense in preventing your dog from being infected is by keeping their immune system healthy and providing optimal nutrition, exercise, play, and minimizing stressful situations. The next line of defense is to reduce the environment where mosquitoes can breed such as standing water in an old flower pot or bowl left outside. Products like garlic barrier can also repel insects from hanging out in your yard. The final line of defense for when you and your dog go for hikes, walks, or to the local dog park is to give a monthly preventative pill that contain milbemycin oxime or topical treatments that have selamectin and/or moxidectin. There are also a number of holistic alternatives but you should discuss what is best for your dog with your vet.

Talking with you vet about heartworm preventatives, the city or town you live in, and what environmental risks you need to be aware of can help keep your best friend healthy and safe!