Archive for Staff Picks & Stories

Why do dogs eat poop?

By Dave Goff

I have never worked in an office where everybody spent so much time talking about poop, and coming from a music industry background, that’s really saying something! One of the most common issues for canines is stool-eating, technically known as Coprophagia. There are several reasons why a dog may eat feces, and no one answer is necessarily correct. Basically it breaks down into two main categories; behavior and/or nutrition. Products like Stool Eating Deterrent can be very helpful in breaking this habit but should be considered just a part of an over-all strategy.

Starting with puppies, it isn’t uncommon for very young dogs to want to investigate and play with strong smelling objects in their environment and feces, both theirs and others, definitely fit the bill. This behavior should be curbed and opportunity should be reduced as much as possible. It is especially important to be vigilant in cleaning up after your pets when you have a puppy around. Often this behavior will fade away as the dog gets older but for some dogs it becomes a habit and then it can be extremely difficult to stop.

Some other behavioral possibilities include something as simple as maintaining their space. Dogs want to have clean space to play and live in as much as you do and their most obvious way to rid the environment of waste is by eating it. Some dogs can be pickier about this than others, so once again, constant vigilance is needed when you have a dog who eats stool. As always, the best defense is to remove the opportunity.

Stress can also be a factor. As above, when dogs are stressed about their environment or territory they may react in inappropriate ways. If your dog has just begun eating stool, take a moment to think if there have been any recent changes in your dog’s life. Has a new dog been added to the household? A new family member? Has their space been reduced or changed in a significant way? Perhaps it is time to incorporate some herbal calming or flower essences into your dog’s regimen.

If it isn’t behavioral, it can certainly be nutritionally based. Stool eating can be a sign of inadequate nutrition or nutrient absorption. If your dog is seeking out alternate sources of nutrition, then there might be some nutrient missing from your dog’s diet. Take a moment to read this article (What you should know about your pet’s food) and look at your dog’s food. Is it full of fillers and grains? Sometimes a food change is the best way to fix a stool-eating problem.

If your dog is getting a good food, perhaps it is time to add some digestive assistance. The old saying is “you are what you eat” but what it really should be is “you are what you manage to digest.” If it isn’t digested and absorbed, it is just leaving the body as nutrient-dense feces. To your dog this means it is still a viable food source even the second time around. Along those same lines, if your dog is eating the feces of other pets in the household, then their digestion should also be considered.

If the cat’s stool still smells like food to the dog, it only makes sense your dog will want to eat it. The better the digestion, the less the stool will smell like food because more of the real food will stay in the body.

Some dogs may eat stool because of a condition or a medication that increases appetite, like conditions of diabetes or thyroid disease, or medications like prednisone. If your dog is constantly hungry, available stool will definitely seem like a food source.

As a quick and simple summary, to complete a strategy that starts with Stool Eating Deterrent; remove the opportunity, lower the stress, feed good food and add digestive support. If you consider all of the issues in your strategy, your possibility of success increases dramatically!

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Sick Pets: Trust Your Gut!

HondaHonda is an 8 year-old Golden Retriever I rescued 4 years ago. It’s pretty unbelievable that such a handsome, loyal guy needed to be rescued in the first place, but lucky for me he did. It didn’t take me long to get to know Honda (now he mostly goes by “H”) and the fact that he basically lives for four things: food, squirrels, tennis balls and me. Last Monday, when Honda wouldn’t bat an eye at any one of those things, I knew something was really wrong. Vets will tell you that when an animal is very sick, he or she will do one of two things: cling to you or go into complete isolation. Honda’s strange behavior prompted a call to my vet about my sick dog.

Last Monday morning I took Honda into the vet and after a quick look-over, she diagnosed Honda with a bacterial infection in his stomach. A little skeptical of the diagnosis, I took him home keeping a close eye on his behavior. That night, Honda refused dinner, water, a game of fetch, and my call for him to come inside for bed.

The next morning he seemed even sicker than the day before. He had a bloated stomach, no appetite, no energy and was showing no love. It was all so very un-Honda like. I called the vet’s office that morning to report my observations and gut instinct that this was more than just some bacterial infection. They asked me to bring him back in for another look and a couple x-rays.

Twenty minutes later I got a devastating call at work. X-rays of Honda’s stomach showed large pockets of air that were obstructing his digestive tract. If they didn’t perform emergency surgery on him to find out what was causing the blockage, I was possibly going to lose him. It had gotten so bad that quickly. Turns out Honda suffered from an intestinal torsion. Out of 25 feet of Honda’s intestine (humans have 40 ft.), 10 feet were twisted up (picture a balloon animal twisted at different parts). The vets needed to untwist his intestine and hope that only a small portion of it was badly damaged. If too much of the intestine was damaged, Honda’s chances of surviving were minimal. It turned out only 2 ft. (of the 10) were really bad. During surgery, the doctors cut the damaged part out and sewed the other ends back together. Honda’s vets told me that if I had waited any longer to bring him in, the damaged part would have been too bad and he probably wouldn’t have made it.

The five days of recovery following an intense surgery like Honda’s are the most crucial. In fact, recovery can be so painful and traumatic that animals sometimes do not survive. Honda remained in the hospital for 2 days under the vet’s watchful eye, hooked up to IVs that provided him fluids and pain medication. Every day, Honda’s recovery was “amazing” and he was healing the best he could under the circumstances. Now, it’s over a week later, and all is still amazing. Honda is back to carrying 3 tennis balls around in his mouth–a true sign that the old “H” is back!

If you’re like me, you sometimes wish your pet could just talk! But, if you trust your gut and look for signs from your companion, you too may catch a sickness before it’s too late.

-Abby

Oh, and here’s a picture of “H” on Thanksgiving Day!

Honda

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Grieving the Loss of a Companion

By Dave Goff

A couple of months ago my household lost one of our cherished members. Sable was the sweetest cat I have ever known. Death of a dog or cat She truly wanted nothing more than love, some good food, a good brushing and more love. Unfortunately, she also had some congenital issues that suddenly and dramatically came to a head. One day she was demanding to be brushed, two days later we were sitting with her in a quiet room at our vets’ office and watching the light fade away.

As I said, it has been a few months. I am just now able to really speak about this without my chest and throat clenching up and my brain shifting into neutral for minutes on end. My wife and I have been working to make sure that we work through our grief in positive ways and to remember Sable in the best ways we can.

For us, losing Sable was one of the hardest things we have ever gone through, so I thought I would write a bit about strategies that might help when coping with the loss of a family companion.

  1. First and foremost, allow yourself to grieve. Sure, you will still have to find a way to get through the day-to-day grind, but you need to have a bit of time to yourself when you can allow yourself to fully let go and grieve in whatever way is best for you. In the car, bathroom breaks, going on walks at lunch, time with close friends, etc…

  2. Everyone grieves differently. Don’t be upset with yourself and feel that you are being overly dramatic, or conversely, overly cold about your loss. At the same time, allow others some space to feel the grief in the way that they need to. How you express grief is likely to be as unique as you are.

  3. Talk about your pet. Tell stories to others and remember all the good things. Try to think of the funniest quirk or habit that would always make you smile. It is important to make sure that your strongest memories aren’t the ones from just before their passing, but the wide array of memories throughout your lives together.

  4. Not everyone will understand. It is wonderful to be able to talk and share memories of your pet, but sometimes there will be people who just don’t understand. Just acknowledge that these people see pets differently than you do and be aware of it. I would suggest not talking to those people about your loss. It would have upset me terribly if anybody had said “what’s the big deal? It’s just a cat.” That moment probably isn’t the best moment to discuss differing value systems.

  5. Do something symbolic. We got a sturdy plant and we mixed Sable’s ashes in with its soil. We also donated some newer toys of hers to a shelter, and picked up some extra food to go with it. If you are an artist or writer, it might help to express your memories in that way, with poetry or a painting.

  6. Get another pet. You can never replace a family member. Each and every one of our pets is unique and special and no dog or cat will ever be the same as the one we lost, but there are definitely good reasons to consider a new family member. Sometimes a new pet will help fill in those deafening silences and hollow days, not to diminish your grief, but just to avoid being overwhelmed by it. Also, there a lot of animals that need someone to love and care for them and if you are reading this, I think I can assume you would be a good candidate.

  7. Take care of yourself. Proper nutrition, sunlight and exercise are crucial when dealing with grief. Studies have shown a link between malnutrition and depression, so why would you want to make a bad situation worse? Walking a new puppy is a great way to get exercise…

  8. If you have children, talk to them. It is best to be honest and realistic with children. This will probably be the first time a child has to deal with the death of a loved one and it is essential that it be as positive as possible. Avoid euphemisms, like “put to sleep” or “went away.” Children can take things like this very literally. Imagine a child fearing going to bed after hearing that “Sparky was put to sleep” and then never came back again. As hard as it is, it is really best to confront the subject head on and use words like “died” and “dead.”

  9. Remember that your other pets may grieve too, or even just pick up on the emotions in the household. During this time it is important to be aware of how animals might express their emotions and look at ways to help them as well. Personally, I think a round of flower essences like Bach’s Rescue Remedy or Grieving Flower Essences for everybody can be a great idea.

  10. Lastly, do not obsess on assigning blame. Even if someone was directly at fault, remember that you need time to grieve and it won’t help to focus excessively on feelings of guilt or anger. Don’t let time that should be spent remembering your best friend turn into a huge negative experience full of fighting and blame.

Grief when you lose someone you love is a reality and nothing will take away the pain of that loss, but hopefully some of these strategies can help you deal with the pain in positive ways.

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Emergency Pet Care – Lily’s Bee Sting

By Sarah Wadleigh LilyLily

One of my favorite books is The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care by CJ Puotinen.   I keep one copy on my desk at work, and another at home.  This book brings together a wealth of information from many holistic healthcare experts on many subjects. It’s a compendium of natural treatments and emergency first-aid strategies, as well as some wonderful dietary information and explanations of how various energetic treatments work.  It’s a great book!  Get yourself a copy!

That said, a few weeks ago, I found out just how valuable this book really is.   We were installing a new garden in our back yard  Both our dogs were outside, and had been chasing the bees that buzz around the flowers in an already-existing garden.  As the dogs ran by, I noticed that our puppy’s muzzle looked a little swollen.  On closer examination, her lip was quite swollen – she had obviously been stung by a bee.

As it happens, Lily, our 11 month old Corgi, is immune-impaired due to a rare congenital condition called a dermoid cyst.  She has had numerous and fairly serious health issues in her young life, and we keep a very close eye on her.

When I saw the swelling, I realized she was having a strong reaction to the sting, and worried that she might go into shock.  Her eyes were becoming unfocused, and the swelling was rapidly progressing up the side of her face toward her eye.  Her muzzle, in a matter of seconds, became so swollen that I couldn’t get my finger under her lip to look for a stinger!

Realizing that I needed to take immediate action, I referred to my Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care and looked up “Bites and Stings”.   The first remedy listed was “herbal therapy.”   Instructions were to place mashed or pureed greens on the sting, or in the absence of fresh greens, powdered greens/herbs.

Honestly, I have never used such a remedy, even though I’m all about eating greens.  I had a certain degree of doubt as to whether this type of remedy would work, and I had brief visions of a pending emergency room visit.  I had to try something immediately, though, so I cast my fate to the wind and mixed about a tablespoon of Dr. Harvey’s MultiVitamin, Mineral and Herbal Supplement with ½ teaspoon of nutritional clay and probably 1 teaspoon of lavender hydrosol.

My husband was assisting and helping me remain calm.  We put Lily on a towel on the couch, and I took a plastic knife and used it as a trowel to spread the mixture across her lip and the side of her face.  At first, I tried to pack some of it under her lip, but she ended up licking and swallowing it, so I focused on getting the rest on the outside of her muzzle and face.  She was very cooperative, and once the greens were spread across her face, fell into a deep sleep as I held a piece of gauze over the poultice. 

For 25 minutes, she slept deeply, and I watched as the swelling gradually, but steadily went down and down.  I had a hard time believing that it was actually working, and even asked my husband if he could detect a reduction in swelling.  He was skeptical, too, and said he thought it still looked pretty swollen.

I was getting concerned about her deep sleep, wondering if she might be falling into unconsciousness.  I shook her gently, and she woke up and acted like nothing had ever happened. (Looking back, I think the Lavender hydrosol helped her relax and fall asleep.)  The swelling was completely gone within 40 minutes!  And all because of some powdered greens!  My faith in herbal medicine is once again renewed, and I have promised myself that I will always consult my Encyclopedia and my other holistic books whenever I have an emergency or question about a health issue.

Being informed about all treatment options is very empowering, so I encourage all of you to develop your own holistic pet care library!  And I leave you with this question…  If greens can do this from the outside, what are they doing on the inside when you eat them?

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Marley’s Love of Connectin

Marley has experienced her share of joint support and arthritis issues. The year before I began working at Only Natural Pet, she had arthrodesis surgery to fuse her back leg to relieve severe arthritis and joint pain. I had no idea at the time that there were so many natural options and instead spent hundreds of dollars on pharmaceuticals, which didn’t help much with the pain or sedated her so much, she wasn’t her playful self. Currently, she is one of the primary testers at ONP of all things joint-related. If it passes Marley’s paw of approval, we bring it in. She has tried everything. And everything works well.

What works the best for Marley is In Clover’s Connectin for Dogs and Cats. Marley is about 8 1/2 years old and before working here, she was often in pain. She was sore after getting up in the mornings and limped desperately after even the most minor walks (which for a lab is still a fairly hyper affair). Her ability and behavior have changed so dramatically now that she takes Connectin, it’s like she’s a puppy again. I used to feel so badly watching her deal with the pain of exercise, I stopped bringing her. Now she accompanies me on every walk, hike or run!

Marley Acts Like a Puppy

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