Monthly Archives: May 2011

  • Lost Dogs: How to Prevent, How to Find

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic
    What You Can Do Now to Prevent Your Dog from Getting Lost and to Help You Find a Lost Dog

    As spring arrives, I receive more and more notices about lost dogs. These stories break my heart because I know that many of these dogs will never find their way home, and that their loss could have been prevented. I learned a lot about lost dogs from my post-Katrina animal rescue experience. Today I’m sharing this information from the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book to help keep all dogs safe.
    Nobody thinks they’re going to lose their dog, but please read this anyway. Planning ahead might help keep her safe. The panic and pain of losing your dog might be avoided completely by taking these steps now. If you do lose her, the tips below may help you find her quickly.
     
    1. Socialize your dog: Help your dog get used to different situations, including people and loud noises. A dog that isn’t terrified may be less likely to get lost, and if lost, may be less likely to hide and thus easier to find.
    2. Train your dog to wait: Teach your dog to wait while you go out the door first, and when you open the crate door. Use a release word to let the dog know when she is free to exit. This will keep your dog from bolting out the door or leaping out of the car before you can snap on the leash.
    3. Train your dog to come when called: Teach your dog to come to you when called. When she comes, reward her with praise and great treats. Never scold a dog you have called, even if she takes forever to get to you. Always make coming to you a good experience.
    4. Train your dog the drop: Teach your dog to drop to the ground on command, so that she may be stopped by your voice if running away and prevented from running into the street. Start by teaching your dog to drop at your side and gradually move away so she’ll do the drop from a distance.
    5. Collar and ID: Make sure your dog wears a secure collar with current ID tags.
    Include a phone number where you can be reached and a back-up phone number for a second person who can easily be reached by phone.
    6. Microchip: Have an identifying microchip implanted under your dog’s skin at a vet clinic or humane society (*see detailed information on microchips below). Attach a tag with the microchip number to the dog’s collar. Register the chip and make sure the microchip company has your current contact information. Keep a record of the microchip number and the company’s phone number in a safe place (like your wallet) and add it to your dog’s file at the vet clinic and the local dog licensing facility. Contact the microchip company and the licensing facility if your dog is lost. Some microchip companies will issue urgent bulletins and provide special assistance if your dog is lost.
    7. Photos: Take clear, current photos of your dog from several angles in good lighting. Digital photos are easiest to distribute quickly by e-mail. Store back-up copies with a friend or family member who can access the photos on short notice.
    8. Description: Write a description of your dog as if writing for a person who doesn’t know dog breeds. Include color, approximate weight, and unusual markings or scars. For example, my dog Bandit has a unique cowlick down the middle of his face, a black triangle marking on his tail, and a toenail that sticks out sideways from an old injury.
    9. Info packet: Keep information about your dog in your vehicle’s glove compartment. Include photos, a written description, microchip info/ID number, contact info, and a copy of recent vet records. A copy of the most recent information in your dog’s Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book could serve the purpose!
    10. Contact person: Ask a friend or family member to be a contact person – someone who could easily be reached by phone while you were out searching for your dog. The dog could be lost in an area without cell phone reception, and you wouldn’t want to be sitting at home waiting for phone calls when you could be out looking for your dog.
    11. Amber Alert for Pets: I recently learned of an online “amber alert” network for lost pets. I don’t have direct experience with this network, but you can find more information at www.FindToto.com.
    12. The Missing Pet Partnership is a good resource for people who are searching for their lost dog, with helpful pet recovery and “Lost Dog” poster information on their website: www.MissingPetPartnership.org.
    *What a Microchip Is and How to Use One
     
    A microchip is a computer chip in a capsule, about the size of a grain of rice, that’s encoded with a unique ID number. It is permanently implanted and can identify your dog if she is lost or stolen. A microchip is the only sure way for someone else to identify your dog if the collar is removed or lost, and can provide security and peace of mind.
    The microchip is painlessly injected beneath the skin of a dog, usually between the shoulder blades. The chip remains inactive until read by a handheld scanner that sends a low-frequency radio signal to the chip. The chip then transmits an ID number to the scanner. The technology used in microchips is similar to that used in human implants like  pacemakers. Since the microchip is powered by the external reader, it is off most of the time and does not require a battery. Thus, one chip is expected to function for your dog’s entire life.
    A microchip can be implanted by your veterinarian or at a local animal shelter or humane society. Animal shelters and humane societies often hold low-cost microchipping clinics. If your dog has a microchip, you need to register your contact information with the microchip company. Include an out-of-state emergency phone contact since local communication may be difficult in a disaster situation. Keep your dog’s microchip information on file with your veterinarian and update your vet and the microchip company right away when your contact information changes. The microchip can only reunite you with your dog if people know how to reach you. For peace of mind, ask your veterinarian to scan your dog’s microchip at each visit to make sure it is still detectable.
    Microchip
    Microchip Basics
    _____ Have a microchip implanted under your dog’s skin. Make sure the implanter scans and reads the chip before and after it’s implanted to verify that it’s working correctly. Record the chip ID number and company info and keep it in your dog’s Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book and/or your wallet.
    _____ Register your contact information with the microchip manufacturer right away. Include an out-of-state contact as an emergency back-up.
    _____ Enter your dog’s microchip information in the International Pet Directory at www.PetLink.net.
    _____ Make sure the microchip number and company are filed with your dog’s records at the vet clinic. Ask your vet to scan and check the chip at each visit.
    _____ Update the microchip company, your veterinarian, and www.PetLink.net  immediately when your contact information changes.
    _____ Make sure your dog wears a collar with ID, the quickest way to identify your dog, especially for those who do not have a microchip reader. The microchip is not intended to take the place of a collar with ID, but it is valuable when other identification is lost.
    _____ If your dog is lost or stolen, report the lost dog at www.PetLink.net and contact the microchip company immediately. Some companies already have networks set up and will issue an all-points bulletin to the vet clinics, impounds and animal shelters in your area.
    Now that you’ve taken steps to prevent your dog from getting lost, and to make your dog easily identifiable if separated from you, the two of you can enjoy spring and summer activities without worries.
    From the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book (Ó2010) by Jenny Pavlovic, www.8StateKate.net

  • I Must be Famous

    Written By Barbara O'Brien

    I must be famous. How can I tell? Well, I have an entourage.

    My entourage is with me morning, noon, and night. They accompany me while I eat and while I work. I am never alone. I am fascinating to them. They love me, they protect me, they compete with each other for my attention. They argue amongst themselves and jockey for the coveted position nearest to me. When I stand up, they stand up. When I sit down, they sit down. If I go upstairs, they come, too. When I come down again, they come down, too. When I go in the bathroom, they come in, too.
    This isn’t my first entourage. I am the mother of four boys, after all. But now the two oldest are on their own out in the world and the younger two are teenagers with friends and activities of their own. I had to get a new entourage.
    Each member of my entourage has his or her specific role to play. Apple the Aussie cross is my personal assistant. She wakes me in the morning and lets me know when it’s time to do chores. She monitors my health and nutrition: She never fails to remind me of mealtimes.
    Liesl the German Shepherd Dog is my bodyguard. Ever vigilant, she keeps constant watch on me. And on everyone around me. When I step outside the farmhouse, she makes a sweep of the perimeter and checks for suspicious activity. Like a true fan, she is devoted only to me. My husband Kevin could fall in the well and Liesl would never say a word. But let a strange car come down the driveway or naughty horses break out of the fence, and Liesl will let me know.
    Hawkeye the Border Collie is my fan club. His role is to look adoringly at me to let me know that I am the coolest, most wonderful person on earth. No matter what I wear, or say, or do, Hawkeye gazes at me with admiration in his eyes.
    I not only have an entourage, I have groupies, too. To be honest, my groupies are only part-time groupies. They only show up when I sit down to work at my computer and then they’re out of control. They jump on my desk and walk across my keyboard. They block my computer monitor with their bodies, flick their tails across my papers, and say “We love you. We love you…a little bit.” Sometimes I have to shut my groupies outside the office door in order to get any work done.
    My entourage and my groupies are not the only proof of my fame. Outside the farmhouse door, the paparazzi lay in wait for me. I have only to step outside and they mob me, all shouting out their questions at the same time. Really, I wonder if the paparazzi have any idea how much they sound like a flock of squawking chickens? Even their camera shutters sound like the flapping of wings.
    So, I have the fame, the next step is the fortune. They go together, right?

  • Lipid Nutrition: Part 1, Feeding Fat to Horses

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney

    This month we begin a series looking at the value of incorporating fat into the diets of our horses. We will discuss how fat is digested and handled in the equine, the types of fats fed to horses, and the many beneficial effects that can be realized through the addition of fat to the diet of our horses.
    Fat digestion
    Feeding fat to horses became more popular in the 1980’s and has continued to see an increase in the share of the feed market. Most feed stores now offer a selection of fat added feeds, or specific fat supplements. While one may not think of horses as a species that routinely consumes fats, horses can handle fats quite well in their digestive system. Lipid digestion occurs primarily in the small intestine, via the production and release of digestive enzymes and bile salts. As the horse does not possess a gall bladder, bile salts are continually released into the intestine. Fats that are added to the diet in the form of oils or fat are very well digested, typically up to 90%. Comparatively, naturally occurring fats in the diet (muchsmaller percentages of fat are actually present in forages and cereal grains) are less well digested, between 40-50% for forages and 50-75% for grains. Addition of fat to the diet does not alter digestibility of other components of the diet, unless the amount of lipid exceeds 22% of the total diet. However, typically this is not a concern, as acceptability and practicality of such diets make them improbable. There are some published studies which do report a lowered fiber digestibility in horses fed soy oil, however, these horses were also rapidly introduced to the fat in the diet. Ideally horses should be gradually transitioned onto a higher fat diet in order to adapt and increase the necessary fat digesting enzymes in their system. This should take place over one to two weeks, depending on how much fat is being added to the diet.
    Acceptability
    Palatability of fat added feeds is quite good, especially if supplied by vegetable oils. Typical vegetable oils include corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil and linseed oil. Horses will consume animal fats and fish oil, but typically not as readily as vegetable sources. The acceptability of fats in the diet is good up to about 15% of the diet. After that consumption rates do drop off.   There are commercially available feeds which have a higher percentage of fat, but these are typically extruded feeds which are more acceptable. Again, these are fed at a smaller percentage of the diet, such that 15% of the total diet is never exceeded. When feeding fat added feeds, it is important to realize that they do have a shorter shelf life than non-fat added feeds. This is due to the peroxidation that takes place, especially in polyunsaturated fats. These feeds then develop an off taste and flavor. If your feed smells rancid, it is best to avoid feeding it. Storing feeds in a cool, dry area will help to preserve their shelf life as well. These feeds often have anti-oxidants added to them to aid in protection against oxidation. Some products, such as Omega Horseshine, specialize in stabilized fats with a prolonged shelf life, up to 12 months.
    Benefits to feeding fat
    The most readily realized benefit to adding fat to the diet is in order to help meet the animals’ caloric needs. Fat is very readily digestible as already stated, and is much more energy dense than other components of the horse’s diet. Compared to proteins and non-structural carbohydrates which contain 4 Mcal/kg, fat is 2.25 times more energy dense at 9 Mcal/kg. Thus inclusion of fat allows a horse to gain weight much more readily or conversely, need to consume less feed to obtain the same amount of calories. Lowering the total amount of feed may be advantageous to horses working in hotter climates as it lowers the total heat production associated with digestion. Furthermore, fat itself is a relatively cool feed, as there is no fermentation and thus heat production associated with its digestion. Replacing high energy cereal grains with fats is an additional benefit, as less digestive risk is associated with feeding fats. Horses fed large amounts of cereal grains over time are at greater risk for ulcer formation, potential development of  stereotypies such as cribbing, laminitis and insulin resistance. This does not mean that starch needs to be eliminated from normal equine diet (the exception are horses with metabolic disorders which render them more sensitive to starch in the diet), but fat can make a very useful substitution. Another benefit to replacing starch in the diet with fats appears to be a calming effect on the horse. Horses fed fat added diets compared to typical sweet feeds have been found to be  less reactive to novel stimuli. Therefore, there is a second reason that fat is a cool feed, not only does it produce less heat during digestion, but it appears to “cool” the hot minded horses. Now obviously it is not a substitute for proper training and exercise!
    Essential fat and fatty acids
     Horses must also consume some amount of fat for normal body functio. Lipids are used in the synthesis of steroid hormones, and  all of the fat soluble vitamins (ADEK) are contained within the fat portion of the feed.  However, the exact amount of fat necessary in the diet of the equine has not been determined. Additionally, the horse, like all other animals, must consume its essential fatty acids, linoleic (18:2 omega 6) and linolenic acid, (18:3, omega 3) from the diet. They lack the enzymes necessary to produce these particular fatty acids within the body. Important sources of these fatty acids include pasture grasses, canola oil and linseed oil or flax seed.
    Practical guidelines for feeding fat to horses.
    As stated previously, most fats in horse feed actually come from vegetable oils. The oils can either be extracted and purified, or the actual oil seed can be fed. Examples of common oilseeds include cottonseeds, soybeans, canola and flaxseeds. If these seeds are referred to as meal, such as cottonseed meal, the fat has already been extracted and then they are being fed typically for their high protein content, not for additional fat. Thus, feeding linseed meal provides a much diferent percentage of fat compared to feeding flax, despite it being the product of the same plant! Pure vegetable oils can also be fed to horses as a top dressing to their feed. One cup of vegetable oil provides as many calories as 1.5 lbs of oats or 1 lb of corn, allowing you to decrease the amount of cereal grains fed.   If feeding a fat added feed, typically these feeds will allow you to feed less concentrate for a similar work class of horse, due to the increased caloric density of the feed. The benefit of feeding a fat added feed, rather than top dressing, may be in its simplicity, as well as the fact that these rations are rebalanced with the knowledge that the horse may consume total less feed. However, if you are just top dressing fat to existing feeds, and thereby decreasing the total amount of feed, be sure that the total diet still meets the horse’s other nutritional requirements.
    In the next part, we will discuss the potential for performance enhancing effects of feeding fat beyond merely an easy way to supply calories.

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