Archive for the ‘The Bare Bones’ Category

Hit the Slopes with the Dog

January 20, 2013 1 comment

Is your dog fit to join you on your weekend snow get away?

Beyond your dog’s personality and how much you know he’ll enjoy the snow, its important to consider their bodies.  Here are a few of the considerations to see if your pooch is ready for the trip.

dog, snowman on his head

  • Size: Small dogs have a more difficult time both maintaining body temperature and navigating even shallow snow depths.  If you have an emergency, can you carry home your large dog?  It may seem ridiculous now, its important to remember we wear our seat belts for the accidents, not the uneventful drive.
  • Coat: Thinner coats may need supplementing with a sweater and jacket.  Not all dogs are built to brave the extreme temperatures on this planet.  Even large breeds with undercoats may be cold in certain situations.  Its important to consider the situation for each outing.
  • Age: Just like us, the very old and the very young have a harder time in colder weather.   Keep the old and young home with the sitter this trip, they’ll thank you for it.  Their bodies are more fragile than their stronger adult dog friends, increasing the risk of trouble on your trip.
  • Pad condition: Some dogs have soft, supple paws while others are more tough and thick.  Using shoes (boots) can help a dog with soft pads endure the cold, wet and extra abrasive surfaces, if your dog will tolerate them.
  • Gear: Do you have the right gear?  Some basics are: water, leash, harness (not a collar,) and coats and boots as needed.  Additional items to explore are: a GPS collar attachment, Ruffwear’s Beacon light, and pocket first aid kit.

If you find yourself really getting out there and off the beaten path, consider taking avalanche training course and inquiring about additional tips for handling emergencies with dogs.  If the dogs are joining you for the trip, but not the trek, find a reputable local pet sitter or doggy day care.

Do you have a great tip for dogs in the snow?  Share them in the comments.


It’s a dirty job, but someones’s got to do it…sometimes

November 16, 2012 1 comment

Small dog owners everywhere, after enough years with their petite companions, learn about the dirty duty.  Occasionally big dog owners cross into this territory, although often not with the same frequency and familiarity of their smaller buddies. Its even more rare for a feline to need for the stinky relief.  Of course we’re talking anal glands!

Why does this happen all of a sudden?  In Dr. Nancy Kay’s blog on Anal Sac Disease  she mentions many potential contributors in the section referring to possible treatment and predisposing factors.  I believe there may be another connection.

Over and over, I have seen dogs that began their life seeing the groomer regularly.   After the grooming visits are discontinued or reduced, they develop a scooting and/or anal gland impaction issue.  This was especially apparent as the economy shifted and families were adjusting where they spent their income.  In the first few waves of our last recession, I noticed I was getting quite a few calls to see why Fido was scooting all of a sudden.

Now the question… Which came first the issue or the expression?

These dogs may have had anal gland issues their whole life, and the family would have never known.  The groomer was expressing the glands as a part of their basic service.  After the service was discontinued, the dog’s body, scooting and excessive grooming in that area were insufficient to express the glands.

Is it possible by manually expressing the glands, the anal sacs came to rely on the manual expression?  Or would these pets have had issues earlier in life, if the groomer hadn’t been expressing them?

What do you think, can grooming history affect anal sac health in dogs?

Halloween Horrors: how to stay out of the veterinary clinic

October 16, 2012 2 comments

As the second biggest decorating holiday of the year approaches its important to not forget about our furry family and keep them safe.  Dangers lurk behind every hay bale and corn stalk  for our four legged friends.  The trick to keeping fur kids safe includes keeping them away from the treats.

Don’t let these dangers raise any hairs at your house this Halloween:Cat jack-o-lantern

  1. Xylitol
  2. packaging
  3. and chocolate

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often used in “sugar free” products.  While no candy is good for pets, candies containing xylitol can be deadly.  If your pet ingests Xylitol, grab the wrapper, bring it and your pet to your local veterinary clinic.  The sooner you get to the clinic, the better.  Do not assume you should induce vomiting.  If you are unable to get to a veterinarian immediately, call an animal poison hotline (there is usually a fee for this call.)

Maybe the underdog and therefore most dangerous on our list is the packaging.  Foil wrappers seem small and easily passed thru the system.  In the super sensitive turns and twist of the GI tract, foil can be razor sharp causing life-threatening damage.  Don’t let other wrapper types fool you; these foreign bodies can build up together causing blockages and serious medical consequences.

One of the biggest and most debated dangers is chocolate.  In the past, the dangers of chocolate were widely broadcast from the veterinary community.  In more recent years, the vets have been assuring us that while we never want to feed our dogs and cats chocolate, perhaps we don’t have to rush into the emergency clinic for getting into the kid’s backpack.  So how much is too much?

According to Kevin Fitzgerald, PhD, DVM, DACVP, 20 ounces of milk chocolate, 10 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, and just 2.25 ounces of baking chocolate could potentially kill a 22-pound dog

Below is an excerpt from the Merck Veterinary Manual containing the approximate levels of Theobromine in chocolate products.  Theobromine is the most toxic component in chocolate for our pets.

Theobromine levels in different types of chocolate:
From The Merck Veterinary Manual

  • Dry cocoa powder = 800 mg/oz
  • Unsweetened (Baker’s) chocolate = 450 mg/oz
  • Cocoa bean mulch = 255 mg/oz
  • semisweet chocolate and sweet dark chocolate is = 150-160 mg/oz
  • Milk chocolate = 44-64 mg Theobromine per oz chocolate
  • White chocolate contains an insignificant source of methylxanthines.

Reference: ASPCA Poison hotline, (888) 426-4435.

2-Speed Dogs, a lesson in comfortable mobility

June 14, 2012 3 comments

The name started with my first dog.  He would walk so much faster in the sun, then slow to a snails pace in the shade.  It was such a dramatic shift in his speed and his desire to walk, he earned the nickname “2-speed.”  image dog resting in shade

As I worked more and more with seniors animals, I noticed my “2-speed” was not alone.  Some dogs would walk slower going away from the house and double time-it on the way back.

One of my loudest messages as a senior pet care provider is to honor your animal.  I’m not talking about letting a young dog rule the roost.  This is about when you sleep wrong and you kink your neck, you don’t turn it to the left that day.  Listen to your body.  In this case, we’re passing that respect on to our senior pets.  If they seem to be having a slower day, let them.  Its OK to have a less than 100% day.  By honoring what our pets bodies are telling them, we can help them have comfort and quality in their life.

2-speeds are the exception to this rule, sometimes.  Maybe.  My dog wasn’t tired of the walk, he wasn’t even super hot.  He was a wise, older animal who had figured out his joy was not found exercising, especially in the sun.

I honored him by changing the times of day we walked.  I made sure it was cool.  He would still act tortured to be out on a walk.  I didn’t see any gait changes or subtle signs of pain in him, but wanted to respect him in this phase of life.  I then shortened our walks, they were almost to nothing.  We added in swimming to help him move with relief on his joints.

Maintaining comfortable mobility is a major quality of life component in comfort care for hospice animals.  Mobility is a longevity and comfort staple.  All the 2-speeds to date have taught me that animals, like people, don’t always want to do what’s best for them.  Caring for them well sometimes means taking that walk, even if its shorter.

Imagine an old man whose doctor asked him to walk once a day for his health and his wife may sometimes have to…encourage him to take that walk.  Serve your pets well.  Keep them comfortably mobile and honor them, as opposed to being swindled by these wonderful souls.

Have you had a 2-speed in your life?  I’d love to hear about them!  Use the comments below to share your story.

Online reviews connect unhappy boarding client to potential new clients

February 3, 2012 1 comment

In the past you were either a boarding person or a pet sitting person.  It was simply a matter of taste; each option for your pets had its ups and downs.  Some, myself included, strongly believe in the benefits of pet sitting over boarding pets in a facility or at the veterinary clinic.  Today more and more pet parents are seeking qualified in-home pet care.  While boarding facilities still have appeal to some, reviews like the one below are turning people away in droves.

The access to online reviews and past customers changes the pet care game.  Pet sitters have always known about the disadvantages of boarding facilities and the challenges they face.  We have been hearing the pet parent complaints for years.  Now these pet parents can make their message heard even further with the help of  Yelp and other social service review sites.


Sad dog faceI knew it was going to be a bumpy ride for my dog when we dropped him off this being his first time away from us and totally alone at night but, we drove the extra distance to XYZ dog daycare and boarding facility because they seemed to have such great reviews.

Well for us, the reviews didn’t really make sense. First off we gave him a few toys and a blanket from home so he would feel a bit better but I guess the people working there didn’t think he need them because EVERY time we looked at the web cam his stuff was never in the “suite” with him. And my favorite is when we called twice to ask about it one girl put me on hold to look then got back on the phone, said, ‘oh they are in there and he is sleeping on his bed”. Ummm HELLO you have a freaking web cam in the room I’m looking at him right now thanks for BS.

Anyway we paid for him to be fed at a certain time and and he wasn’t. We paid for him to get a “bedtime story” and “tucked in” and we never saw that happen. And I just cant understand how some people would think its OK to leave these dogs locked up from 7pm to 6am.

All they really care about is up-selling you to a package they will not deliver on. Some advice to them is if your going to lie to my face you may want to unplug the web cam.




Animal RN consulting services are available for Sonoma County residence by appointment.  Select consultations are available via phone and web for discerning pet parents outside the area.

Local Animal Hospice Supporter attends Inaugural IAAHPC Conference

October 17, 2011 Leave a comment

On October 9, the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC) held its first annual conference in Ft. Worth, Texas. The conference was designed to educate pet care professionals on palliative care and animal hospice best practices while also allowing the attendees a chance to network to those working in the related field. Local in-home pet care provider and animal hospice supporter, Robyn Kesnow RVT, presented a segment on

the importance of the appropriate timing to offer hospice in veterinary settings and how to support families choosing this option, titled Recognizing the Hospice Patient.

Kesnow founded Animal RN, the first company to offer in-home animal nursery services ( Kesnow reported that the first IAAHPC conference “was an excellent source of information regarding industry trends and processes for supporting hospice while also providing a unique networking opportunity with peers and like-minded professionals from across the country.”

Industry experts presented on the practical tools needed to successfully operate an animal hospice service, including:

·         Individualized Hospice Care Planning

·         Building your successful Hospice Team

·         Understanding Anticipatory Grief

·         Managing Pain for Quality of Life

·         Dealing with Compassion Fatigue

IAAHPC is dedicated to promoting knowledge about and developing guidelines for comfort-oriented care to companion animals as they approach the end of life. For more information, visit The cost of membership is $75 or $40 for seniors and students and is open to all interested in supporting ethical animal hospice care and education.

a fun video for our fans with businesses

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment
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