Wednesday, 29 May 2013

we explore new places when we have a dog

Feeling excited that Penny's paws are fine now, I decided she could cope with a longer walk today. We stayed mainly on grass, at one of our favorite places, Willsmere Park in Kew.

However, it seemed a good idea to test Penny out on a hard surface, so we went in a new direction, out of the park and along the shared path towards Fairfield. We had to stay on lead. I tried to get Penny to mostly walk on the edge, on the soft soil there, but she insisted on walking on the concrete surface itself.

Penny walks along the edge of the shared path near Willsmere
When she was on the actual path, we had to keep our ears cocked for the sound of a speeding cyclist coming from behind. As the sign suggested, some warned us with a ringing of their bells, like this courteous guy who passed us so quickly I could hardly get a picture of him.

Sign for cyclists on shared path near Willsmere
But this rude fellow raced up behind us with no warning.

Discourteous cyclist on shared path near Kew
It was great to get back onto the nice soft walking path into Willsmere...

and back into the park itself.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

seatbelts for pets in cars

Slavenka posted this photo from Arbroath. I wonder if I could get Penny to sit up with a seatbelt around her, lol?

disgusting bokashi compost tastes a dog

Little Princess Goody Two-shoes Penny has blotted her copybook! She was caught in flagrante delicto this very afternoon, digging away with her supposedly sore front paws in the patch of soil where I had just buried some really stinky bokashi compost.

I think the nearest equivalent to this great Latin phrase 'in flagrante delicto' would be red-handed, but since she doesn't have hands, I'd say she was caught black-mouthed.

Penny is caught black-mouthed after snaffling compost
 I was so smug last time I posted about how I keep Penny from digging up delightful messy bokashi.

BetR2 commented that her Lucy would make short work of this barrier. I should have listened, lol. I guess Penny just pushed her way through my little fence, by the look of the skew-whiff way the bamboo sticks are standing now.

A not so dog-proof  fence around the bokashi

Digging for treasure in the bokashi

The next picture shows the new set-up. The problem is that our soil is clay and I don't want to break up the structure by digging a deep hole, so the bokashi is only a tantalising ten centimetres underground. What self-respecting dog could resist?

A challenge for Penny to think her way around the coiled up wire. Will she solve the puzzle?

Another attempt to keep the dog out of the bokashi

I hope not.

Monday, 27 May 2013

the poodle moth

No prize for guessing why this moth has been named after a dog.

further thoughts about deri-sal for dogs

A friend suggested to me today that it might be unwise to put Deri-sal on Penny's paws, because she might lick it off. So now I'm not sure if I will use it again. If I do, I'll put a bandage around her paw so she can't lick the salve.

Next time I'm at the vet clinic, I'll ask for his advice, and I'll write a post about what I find out.

I thought this thread about horse injuries was very interesting. I was once told that liniments and salves for horses are suitable for dogs, because their skin pH is similar. However, on reading this page I find they are somewhat different.

PetMD has a good summary of what we need to know about canine skin pH, in relation to shampoos, and I guess the same would apply to skin medications.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

a balm for sore paws in dogs

I've been searching Australian sites for Bag Balm every since Mitch and Molly mentioned it in a comment on my post about Penny's sore paws, but had no luck. But today I went into my favorite pet shop, Murphys, and asked if there might be an Australian equivalent. This is the most amazing store, with a great variety of toys, food, health items, grooming, and everything I've ever needed. (No, I don't have anything to do with the store except to be a satisfied customer, lol.)

The product I came home with - Deri-Sal - was quite expensive, but I'm glad to have it on hand for the future. I think I'd use it on myself, if I had a skin problem, even though it's advertised as being for animal treatment only. Here's a photo of it:

I took a close-up of the label so you could see the ingredients. They are not the same as Bag Balm ingredients, though.

Wondering about whether zinc oxide might be dangerous, I was reassured when I read this page.

NOTE Wednesday 29 May 2013: I have subsequently had some reservations about using this without a covering bandage, because Penny might lick it off. I'm going to consult my vet next time I take Penny for a visit.

more about car safety for dogs

Johann has added a comment to my recent post on car safety for dogs. He reminded me he has his own page on the topic. I'm really glad he's sent me the link, because I thought I remembered he had done a good investigation of restraints for dogs. I'm going to head on over and read it now.

Friday, 24 May 2013

bathing paws in epsom salts

We're becoming quite expert at bathing Penny's feet in Epsom salts. Here's how we do it:

Penny doesn't mind standing there for five minutes (though we've never made it to ten minutes, as recommended).

Why does she stand so obligingly? Yes, you guessed it. A steady diet of treats the whole time. I think there might have to be some discussion of her weight after a week of no exercise and lots of treats.

Today she had two little walks, each one just mooching around on lawn for five minutes, followed by a wash of her feet. There are only little spots of unhealed skin now. Maybe in a couple of days it will be back to normal. Here's hoping.

car restraint for dogs when travelling

Over Penny's lifetime we've tried many different restraints when travelling in the car. At the moment we have a harness which we clip to a seat belt.  She is a quiet traveller, so our issue is not stopping her moving around (she doesn't). It is making sure that in a collision or a sudden braking, she is not thrown around the cabin of the car.

Today I read a report on PetMD looking at a variety of pet restraints and car safety features.

However, even after I looked at all the styles on offer, I was still unconvinced that there is any system which will keep Penny safe in an accident. If you read this article about how seat belts for humans work, you will see that the idea is to distribute the impact across the least vulnerable parts of the human body:
When the belt is worn correctly, it will apply most of the stopping force to the rib cage and the pelvis, which are relatively sturdy parts of the body. Since the belts extend across a wide section of your body, the force isn't concentrated in a small area, so it can't do as much damage.
If you scroll through the restraints on the Pet MD site, you'll see that many of them have the dog attached by the collar around the neck. I think that's a recipe for disaster in a sudden stop. I prefer the ones which attach to a solid harness that goes around the belly.

But the bad news is that studies have shown there is no really effective safety harness for dogs. Here's an extract from a report on :
Using the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213, which is the gold standard for determining the safety of child restraint systems in vehicles, CPSresearchers went to work testing how each type of pet seat belt system held up in crash tests. During this initial testing phase, the group used a 55-pound “crash-test doggy” model to represent dogs in the 50-85 pound range, which includes breeds likeBoxersGerman Shepherds, and Weimaraners, among others.
Slow-motion video taken during the study shows the canine crash dummy, buckled into several models of pet seat belts, as the dog careens forward and smashes into the car interior during controlled crashes.
What CPS found was alarming. None of the pet harnesses met the minimum safety standards in the pilot study — a failure rate of 100 percent.
According to the CPS website, some of the problems researchers discovered with current pet safety restraints included a low likelihood of survival for the restrained pet, a danger to the driver and other passengers “when the dog becomes a missile,” and the probability of choking when the pet seat belt materials “cinch tightly” during the crash.
If you look carefully at discussions this topic, you will notice the key issue is safety for the humans, by preventing the dog from becoming a missile when the car stops suddenly or by preventing the dog from moving  around the interior of the car and distracting the driver.

Here's a quote from an article in The Week:
In fact, research by Volvo indicates that a standard-sized dog traveling in a car at 30 mph turns into 2,700 pounds of force — the same size as a baby elephant.
I thought the one in this video clip looked fairly good.

After writing this post, I'm more determined than ever to keep researching safety equipment for dogs in cars.
And to drive carefully.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

gravel rash on Penny's front paws

I've discovered that two other dogs who were with us on our long walk at Marysville also have sore front paws.

In one way, it's a relief to know, because now I can rule out other possibilities about Penny's sore feet. I've looked on the internet to see what other people do for these types of injuries and there's lots of information.

One site mentions treating the sore places with Neosporin. I don't know that medication, but discovered it's an antibiotic cream available in the US. An article at Wikipedia - which I don't completely trust - says it might be better not to used antibiotics like this, because there's no evidence they speed healing, and they may promote the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The article suggests using simple petroleum jelly (which we have at home and which a more experienced dog-owner already told me should do the job). On the other hand, I'm not fond of medications that are by-products of the oil industy.  Here's a little snippet about Vaseline brand of petroleum jelly:

Chesebrough originally promoted Vaseline primarily as an ointment for scrapes, burns, and cuts, but studies have shown that Vaseline has no medicinal effect nor any effect on the blistering process, nor is it absorbed by the skin.
Vaseline brand First Aid Petroleum Jelly, or carbolated petroleum jelly containing phenol to give the jelly additional antibacterial effect, has been discontinued. During World War II, a variety of petroleum jelly called red veterinary petrolatum, or Red Vet Pet for short, was often included in life raft survival kits. Acting as a sunscreen, it provides protection againstultraviolet rays.[4]Petroleum jelly's effectiveness in accelerating wound healing stems from its sealing effect on cuts and burns, which inhibits germs from getting into the wound and keeps the injured area supple by preventing the skin's moisture from evaporating.

If Penny's not very much better tomorrow I might try the petroleum jelly. Of course, if she's really sore, we'll go to the vet. But I don't think that's necessary, because already it's healing well.

I might put some aloe vera gel on it. (We have the plant growing in our garden.)

Here's a little bit about aloe vera:

There are a few homeopathic remedies for minor soreness and injuries. A soak of diluted salt water can help with soreness and small cuts or abrasions. The salt has antiseptic properties.
Aloe Vera and tea tree oil are other good homeopathic options. Aloe Vera is safe for dogs to lick and may be applied directly to the paw. It soothes and heals, and contains anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-septic properties. If using a store bought gel, make sure the gel contains 100% Aloe Vera. If it does not, the gel may contain additives that are not safe for the dog to ingest.   
Note this quote doesn't say tea tree oil is safe for dogs to lick!! As far as I know it is dangerous.  

The other possibility is to put manuka honey on it, but the thought of stopping Penny licking it off daunts me.

Another site I found useful is this short video by a vet on care of dogs' paw pads.

Penny's sore paws

The day after our big walk at Marysville, Penny refused to go for a walk along the Yarra at Warburton, one of  her favorite places, so I popped her back into the car and went home to investigate.

To my dismay I realised that both her front paws were raw and weeping on the pads. What could have happened? I'm still mystified. I wonder if she might have rubbed them raw on the new gravel path to Steavenson Falls? Or perhaps she skinned them on the grid she walked over.

But if that were the case, surely the other dogs would also have sore paws, and I haven't heard that they do.

Perhaps her feet were hurting and Penny licked them raw. We have noticed her licking her feet recently (before that walk).

I bandaged the paws

and settled down near Penny with a good novel - a great read, actually. It was The Devil You Know, by Mike Carey. In that way I could sit watching her and constantly check she was not licking the bandages and making them wet. What a great excuse to do nothing but read!

Of course it was raining. It always seems to be raining when Penny has problems with her paws. this a clue? So she had to put up with plastic bags taped over her bandaged paws when she went out for a wee before sleep that night.

Two  days later she seems to be recovering. I've bathed the paws in Epsom salts twice daily for about five minutes. I'd take a photo now to show how the skin in healing over, but I don't want to draw her attention to her feet, because she would then start licking once agin.

I looked at many sites before using the Epsom salts, and thought this one had a good overview:
Epsom salt baths can help in several ways. Not only has salt and salt water been used as an extremely effective anti-bacterial agent for thousands of years, as evidenced by salted foods, many breeds, such as Labrador retrievers were bred to spend their days standing in salt water, helping to bring in fishing nets. Epsom salts contain not only sodium chloride, but potassium and nitrates that can aid in restoring the natural balance of bacteria on a dog’s skin. Salt can also raise the pH level of your dog’s skin, which may help regulate normal bacterial ratios. Regardless of the reason, a warm saltwater bath soothes the itch, helps disinfect the area and is a fun experience for dog and owner alike. Don’t rinse your dog’s feet after her bath. Let her lick the salt off or gently pat dry her paws. And don’t get any in her eyes.

So, no big walks for a while. Penny seems to be happy to lie around at the moment. She even takes some convincing to go down the back steps to have a wee.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Walking from Marysville to Steavenson Falls

Penny and her doggie friends had a long walk from Marysville on Sunday. After the awful destruction of the Black Saturday fires, the community is slowly recovering, and the tracks around the town have been remade.

It's good to see that dogs are allowed to walk on the new paths, all the way to Steavenson Falls.

The new growth is green and lovely, and we saw a baby kangaroo apple plant, with its leaves that look like a kangaroo footprint,

Penny appeared to be having lots of fun and walked jauntily along with her 'pack', although she wasn't too happy to walk across this grid. But she bravely made it across.

In the township we saw some lovely autumn foliage, presumably on the few trees that weren't incinerated in the fires in 2009. (But maybe this tree is only four years old and was planted after the fire.)

On the drive across the mountains to the Upper Yarra Valley, it was disturbing to drive for kilometre after kilometre through burnt-out forests. I knew the fires were extensive, but to travel for an hour through blackened, dead trees is a strange and disturbing experience, even if the new, green growth points to a brighter future.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

alfie dog publishing is named after a real dog

Finally I have discovered how Alfie Dog publishing got its name.

The website says it is named after their
patron, writer and family pet, Alfie Dog, who has written his diary as a highly successful blog since 2006. The smiling dog logo is in honour of this happy animal.

That's a year longer than Penny has been blogging! I'll have to keep an eye on Alfie's adventures. 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

gallant dogs in war

I recently read in The Age newspaper about the painting by Peter Wegner that won this year's Gallipoli Art Prize. It portrays a dog wearing a gas mask. The report says:
Wegner's Dog With Gas Mask recalls the era when dogs were fitted with specially fitted gas masks and sent to search for wounded soldiers on the battlefields of World War I.

The article mentioned a dog called Judy who was held as a prisoner of war by the Japanese after she helped rescue the crew of HMS Grasshopper, sunk in World War II.

That seemed like an amazing story, so I looked around for more information. Amazing sure is the word for the exploits of Judy the pure-bred liver-and-white English pointer.

I was fascinated to find a copy of a magazine from 1975 with an article about Judy. I loved this magazine when I was young! It was called Look and Learn.

Judy is buried in Tanganyika.

Birds in Warringal Parklands are used to dogs

After scaring myself that Penny might nibble some rabbit droppings along The Plenty River Trail yesterday, I moved her walk to our old favorite, Warringal Parklands. We had our usual fun, with lots of walking and swimming, but the difference on this walk was the number of birds we saw.

Do you know that feeling that someone is watching you?

Well, in this park they are!

(Sometimes from behind a blade of grass.) 

A big flock of ducks was munching on grass, and disobligingly flew off when I crept closer to take a photo of them, but when we came back from Penny's swim in the Yarra, they were back in the same place. 

I left them in peace this time, because I knew I couldn't get a photo in focus with my little point-and-shoot camera. Here's the one of them leaving previously:

The various birds that live in the parklands don't seem to care about dogs. They simply fly into the air, circle and land in the same place a couple of minutes after we pass by. 



Back again: 

Penny found the birds quite boring. She would rather eat some grass.

who is Alfie the dog?

I've just added a new blog to my list of must-reads. It's called Alfie Dog and it seems to be a great place to download single short stories.

I wonder why it's called after a dog?

While I was rummaging through the site, trying to find the answer to that question (which I didn't find), I discovered there is an offer of a free download of seven stories. I'll go over there and get the stories after I finish writing this post.

And as to why I'm sort of off-topic for Penny's blog... it's  because I'm expecting one of my short stories to be published there soon! Of course there's a dog in my story - but it's not Penny.

I'll have to try to think of a story featuring Penny. But it wouldn't be a whole book, as Hsin-Yi is doing about Honey the Great Dane.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

pindone poison info

After walking in an area where Pindone poison had been put down for rabbits, I wanted to know more. This is what I found:

It's an anticoagulant, and it sounds like a terrible death for the poor creatures:
Pindone interferes with the routine synthesis of vitamin K-dependent blood clotting factors in the liver. Without these factors, the normal daily damage to blood vessels can no longer be repaired. Poisoned animals usually die from multiple causes associated with anaemia or hypovolemic shock. A large single dose (18 mg/kg for rabbits) or repeated smaller doses (0.52 mg/kg/day over 7 days) are generally needed to induce death.                                               
• After ingestion of anticoagulants, there is usually a lag period of 3-5 days before the onset of clinical signs. This delayed onset reflects the time required to deplete existing stores of vitamin K and blood clotting factors. Initial signs of poisoning are depression/lethargy and anorexia followed by manifestations of haemorrhage including anaemia, laboured breathing, pale mucous membranes and weakness. Bleeding may be visible around the nose, mouth, eyes and anus and animals may pass bloody faeces. Swollen tender joints are common as a result of bleeding into the confined joint space.
• Discomfort and pain from haemorrhages in internal organs, muscles and joints typically lasts for several days before death. The time to death is around 10 to 14 days after the initial dose. 

Just frightful! (This reinforces my decision not to use anticoagulant poisons on rats in our garden.)

It seems a dog would have to eat a lot to be poisoned by this product, so I think my worry about Penny eating rabbit droppings was unnecessary.

Poisoning of non-target species can occur either directly by eating the carrot, oat or pellet baits intended for rabbits (primary poisoning) or through the tissues from a dead or dying poisoned animal (secondary poisoning).
• Although information on the toxicity and non-target impacts of pindone is limited, it is thought to be moderately toxic to a range of species. Whilst rabbits are extremely susceptible, sheep, possums and horses are comparatively resistant. Cattle, goats, chickens, cats and dogs are less susceptible than rabbits, but still may be at risk if exposed to large doses or smaller doses on successive days. A number of native species are likely to be as sensitive as rabbits to the effects of pindone. Macropods, bandicoots and a range of granivorous birds are susceptible to primary poisoning. Secondary poisoning can occur in species which feed on poisoned rabbits and carcasses eg. dasyurids and raptors.
• Rabbits dying from pindone poisoning can become lethargic and less aware of their surroundings. This can predispose these animals to predation which can in turn place predators at greater risk from secondary poisoning.
• Non-target species that accidentally receive a high enough dose of pindone will exhibit the same clinical signs as target rabbits i.e. physical weakness and lethargy, coughing and respiratory distress, pallor, anorexia, and ventral haematomas as well as internal haemorrhages.
• Because pindone is slow acting, if accidental poisoning of stock or companion animals occurs, vitamin K1 (phytomenadione) can be administered by a veterinarian as an effective antidote. It is usual to treat an affected animal with vitamin K1 for at least one week after an initial loading dose. If bleeding is severe, whole blood or plasma can be given to replace clotting factors and red blood cells. 

dogs and rabbit poison

Today Penny and I set out for a new walking place, the Plenty River Trail. It's a beautiful area and I had mentally marked it for exploration. Because I had an appointment nearby, and it's a cool day, I thought Penny could walk for an hour and rest afterwards in the car while I went to my appointment.

But what was this? A scary sign.

I thought we'd be fine, because the poison was in carrots and I couldn't see any carrots around. And Penny was on a wide path and on lead. But as we continued, I became nervous about whether she might scoff the little heaps of rabbit poo along the edge of the path. She loves herbivore poo - possum, kangaroo, and most delicious of all, wombat poo.

So we turned back and looked for a different place. 

There were still notices about Pindone poison, but it seemed less likely Penny could find anything untoward on this neat path. But when I arrived home, later, I  looked up some information about Pindone poison and dogs

We saw some nice edible indigenous plants, too. (Not that Penny fancies them. We have them in our own yard and she has never nibbled them.) We saw kangaroo apples...

and what I think is berry saltbush

We also looked at some kangaroo grass

All of which was interesting for me, but not much fun for Penny, so after my appointment and her wait in the car, we headed off to Warringal Parklands, which was much more enjoyable for her. But more about that next time...

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

at Best Friend Holiday Retreat

Penny has just been on holidays once again, staying in a dog-friendly cabin in the lush Tarra Valley.

On the way, we stopped at Yarragon Village while Penny's human (me!) had a cup of coffee and a sandwich. I chose the Yarragon Cafe, because it has a cute little garden out the back where a dog can mooch around and smell the smells.

The Best Friend Holiday Retreat at Tarra Valley is a great place for a dog to relax, as I've blogged previously here and here, and The Ninety Mile Beach is just amazing.