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16 Aug

Traveling Internationally With Your Dog

Are you thinking about traveling internationally with your dog soon?

Here’s my experience for your consideration.

My son-in-law is a Chaplain in the US Army, and transferred to Germany for three to six years. (The reason it might be six instead of three is because their oldest son will be in high school when their three years is up. The Army allows the families to stay put so that the child can graduate from his high school and not have to move in that all-important year. Decent of them, don’t you think?)

When they were transferred, they left their dog, a Weimaraner, with us until they could get settled. We shipped her once the family moved into their house. It is much cheaper to take your dog with you instead of sending him later as freight, but sometimes there is no choice. In searching for information on shipping dogs internationally,

Here’s what I found out.

After booking a flight, the dog needs to be at the airport up to 4 hours in advance of the flight. (That adds to the time the animal will be crated, so be sure and line the crate with piddle pads. Newspaper won’t cut it; it just isn’t absorbent  enough. Really. Use puppy training pads and make your dog more comfortable.)

You’ll have to confirm that your pet is not tranquilized and won’t be used for fighting at its destination. No visible problems allowed, either, such as skin diseases or recent surgeries. If that describes your dog, be ready to be turned away. Airlines are forbidden to ship animals that show signs of preexisting conditions, illness, or recent surgeries.

If your dog is particularly large, you need to make sure that the airlines can accommodate the kennel size (more about kennels in a minute). Age is also a consideration, as you cannot ship a puppy less than eight weeks old (or ten weeks if the pup weighs less than a pound). State your dog’s age on the health certificate (more about health certificates to come).

The health certificate must be an international health certificate and must be dated within 10 days of the flight. A USDA certified veterinarian must sign off on it. In addition, check to see what is required at your point of destination, too. Some cities or countries have other requirements, such as licenses.

83124a0ff1d8a19c6b364d3284f5aa62About the kennel.

There are specific size requirements for the AITA-approved flight kennels. In general, your dog must be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down normally. The height of the kennel must be three inches taller than your dog’s ears. This may influence whether or not a specific airline can accommodate the crate. Be sure you have this right before you take your dog to the terminal!

SpencerPItBullPuppy15WeeksIntroducingCrate15The kennel must have adequate ventilation. Some airlines require ventilation on all four sides, and some only three. Secure the door (which must be easily opened for taking the animal out) with releasable cable ties so the crate does not come apart while being handled.

What you can ship with your dog.

No toys are permitted. The only things you can ship with your dog are 16oz or less of dog food, a leash and a collar. Securely fasten them outside the crate. There must be bowls for food and water secured to the door, which can be filled from outside the crate without opening it.

Affix the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the customer at origin and destination, as well as the name of the animal to the top of the kennel. This is a requirement you will want to make sure is accurate. A lost dog without a way to locate his owner is a terrible predicament.

Are properly sized orientation labels affixed to the kennel on at least 2 sides? The words “live animal” must appear on the top and at least 1 side of the kennel. Letters are required to be a minimum of 1 inch high. Food and water instructions must be posted on the top of the kennel with indication as to when the animal was last offered food and water. Water will be provided as needed. They will only feed once every 12 hours, provided the shipper sends food and it is accessible from the outside of the kennel.

For additional information regarding live animal acceptance and handling, refer to the IATA live animal regulations. You can also find this information in 9 CFR, subchapter A – Animal welfare or here.




30 Jul

How to Choose A New Veterinarian

How to Choose A New Veterinarian

How to Choose A New Veterinarian

How do you know which veterinarian is the best choice for you and your pets?

Do you ask friends? Ask your old vet (depending, of course, on why you need a new vet)? Call the local animal shelter? Just go to the closest clinic?

All of those alternatives have been tried, of course, and with some success. But why are those successful ways to locate a new doctor for your beloved pet?

If you have a normally healthy dog or cat and only need to see your vet for annual exams and routine shots, etc, chances are if you are treated politely and the expense is reasonable, you will probably recommend that veterinarian to others. But what if your pet has a life-threatening or debilitating condition that stretches the veterinarian’s knowledge? Now the choice is of paramount importance. What do you do?

If you are new to where I live, you will find a plethora of choices in Lewisville and surrounding areas from which to choose. All of our local veterinarians boast the latest in equipment, clean clinics, and ample staff. And no, I’m not going to recommend a vet for you. This is where your work begins.

Google “veterinarians in Lewisville, TX” and see what turns up. Probably the first result you’ll see is a map with the locations of seven or more flags showing the locations of veterinarians in the immediate vicinity. Now, obviously, you’ll probably want to choose the clinic nearest where you live. That makes the most sense, particularly when your fuzzy friend has ingested something horrible or fallen down the stairs or suddenly starts having convulsions. You know what I mean. That awful moment when his life flashes before your eyes and you realize you could lose him forever.

That’s why it’s important to become acquainted with your new vet long before any of this kind of thing occurs.
Now that you’ve got that map in front of you, notice that in light blue to the right of the telephone number you see a link for reviews. CLICK THAT LINK. Really. Do it.  And read every review. What you find there might surprise you, or even better, might save your animal’s life.

What you’ll see in these reviews will range from people who have used the same vet for generations and only wish their own doctor was as good, to those who lost a pet due to what is apparently the neglect or ignorance of either the staff or the vet himself.

While I find the positive reviews helpful, what I think is more so are the ones who tell the stories of bad experiences. (It’s interesting to note that the positive reviews seem to “gush,” while the negative ones present the facts of the situation.) What I found was in some cases heart-stopping. Figuratively speaking for me, but quite literally for some of the pets.

One of the reviews I read told about a tumor that concerned the owner but not the vet until it was too late. If you aren’t comfortable, go elsewhere.

Lesson: Follow your gut.

Another cited a story of a stray kitten that was pronounced healthy but then infected the rest of the owner’s cats with a fatal disease.

Lesson: Know your veterinarian’s practices for examining a new animal coming into your home.

Several reviews told of pets who died after being pronounced healthy by the veterinarians who apparently did not do more than a cursory exam when a more exhaustive one was indicated. Lesson: insist that the doctor tell you what he did in the exam and why. You’re paying for it—you have the right to know.

Money will always be an issue. I found it amusing that every complaint about money said that the veterinarian charged two or three times as much as “other vets,” but I didn’t read a single one that said that this was the “other vet” who charged reasonably.

Lesson: Ask your vet for a services schedule with prices.

Discuss his fees at each visit, for each visit. Don’t assume that because you paid a specific price once means that you’ll always pay that price. Make sure you know what tests will be performed and the cost of each, and leave a written letter in your file asking the doctor to call you to discuss any tests or procedures not authorized in the initial visit. (I write down—in front of my vet— everything he says he will do and which tests he will run, and then ask him to read it and make sure I understood each thing correctly. Believe me, he’ll be much less likely to do unauthorized procedures if he knows you are fully aware of what is being done.)

Reviews are very helpful, but don’t rely on them for all of your information. Before you need it, make an appointment to visit your vet of choice and have him (or her) do a tour with you. Be willing to pay for this appointment, as this choice could mean life or death to your beloved pet.

09 May

First Aid For Pets: Be Ready For Emergencies!

First Aid For Pets: Be Ready For Emergencies!

First Aid For Pets: Be Ready For Emergencies!
What do you do when your pet needs emergency care?

Although you usually can’t anticipate when your pet will need emergency first aid care, you can be ready nonetheless. What you need is a good general understanding of pet first aid. Of course, it isn’t a substitute for veterinary care, but what you do in an emergency may very well save your pet’s life until you can get him to a veterinarian’s office.

How to handle an injured pet.

The first thing to know is that when your pet is injured, even the most docile pet may bite. Take care that you do not get bitten! Here are important steps to handle your pet when he is injured.

  1. Remain calm. An excited owner will only exacerbate the pet’s anxiety.
  2. If the injury or illness appears to be life threatening, take your pet to the veterinarian’s office immediately.
  3. Approach injured pets cautiously. Injury or illness can cause your pet to behave differently than he normally does, and this behavior can cause further injury to the pet or injury to you.
  4. Call your veterinarian for advice and instructions.
  5. Do not tie or tape your pet’s mouth shut! This can cause the animal to be unable to breathe. If the pet is not vomiting, having difficulty breathing, or bleeding from the mouth, a muzzle can be used to prevent biting. Use it with care!
  6. If possible, confine your pet to a crate in your vehicle, or to a small space if not.

injured-yellow-lab-dog-cone-12345877What to do in an emergency.

If your pet is bleeding, apply direct pressure to the affected area. A bandage might temporarily control bleeding.

If you think your animal has broken a bone, gently support the area, but be cautious; pain may cause your pet to bite.

If your pet is suffering from heat-stroke or exhaustion, cover it with a cool, wet towel and immediately get it to the vet hospital.

If your animal is suffering from cold exposure (hypothermia), cover it with a warm blanket and transport it to the nearest vet hospital.

Insect bites and stings can cause anaphylactic shock, which can lead to death. Get to the nearest veterinarian as quickly as possible.

If your animal has ingested something you think might be poisonous, call your vet and follow his instructions.

If your pet is having a seizure, leave it alone until the episode subsides. Remove anything from the area that might cause injury to the pet, and make note of the duration of the seizure.

If your pet is unconscious, attempt to clear the airway by sweeping a finger through the back of the mouth.

Use a towel or blanket as a stretcher and to keep the animal warm (or cool, see above) on the way to the vet.

Basic first aid supplies.

  • Phone numbers for your vet, a 24-hour or after-hours emergency vet clinic, and animal poison control center.
  • Current medical and vaccine history
  • Current list of the pet’s medications, if any
  • Gauze
  • Nonstick bandages
  • adhesive tape for bandages
  • Clean towel
  • Blanket
  • Tweezers
  • Gloves
  • Digital thermometer for rectal use
  • Scissors

26 Mar

How to Pick a Dog Breed

How to Pick a Dog BreedI admit it.

I’m somewhat of a breed snob.  I prefer a purebred over a mixed breed, although I have shared my life with several mixed breeds that I loved deeply. There are so many interesting and intelligent breeds and I wish I could own them all! But how do you figure out how to pick a dog breed that’s right for your family?

I have a special way of going about finding a dog, when I’m in the market, which happens about every seven toimage ten years. We like to keep two dogs, an older one and a younger one, and right now we have a Miniature Pinscher and a Toy Australian Shepherd, respectively. Mac, the Pinscher, is a rescue that we got when we came back from living in Ukraine a little over seven years ago. We originally rescued a pair; our older female, Tosh, passed on two years ago. (Did you notice their names were Mac and Tosh?)  We bought Bella, the Aussie, when she was just eight weeks old. (Update: Bella went on to the great beyond in 2016. She was just three years old, and died from lymphoma. I really miss her!)

Here’s how we go about it when we want to pick a dog breed we’d like to own.

First we spend a lot of time just looking at diffimageerent breeds on the Internet or in books, and if possible, take in a dog show or (preferably) an agility trial or two. The shows allow us to see many dogs close up and talk to their owners about the breeds. Then we make a list. Here are the questions you want to know:

1. How does this breed do with kids (if you have them in your life)?

2. How much room does this breed require? Could it live in an apartment if that’s where you live?image

3. How much exercise does it need? Are a couple of daily walks enough? Daily runs?

4. How destructive is the breed when left alone? Does it need companionship, and if so, could a cat work?

5. How is the dog with other animals?

6. How is the dog with strangers? Is it protective of its family? Would it be likely to bite a stranger?

7. Does this breed bark a lot? Dig? Climb fences (yes, some breeds are champion climbers!)?

8. How much grooming is involved, and could you do it, or would a professional be necessary?

9. What and how often does the  breed need to be fed? Twice a day? Three times?

10. How easily is this breed trained? Would it require a professional trainer?

Make a list.

Now, armed with the answers to the breeds you liked most, make a new list. On this one, you are going to rank those factors in terms of importance to you, and assign each a value. For instance, if you have children in your life, being good with kids will rank higher than grooming. Give double points for those things you will not compromise on. For me, it’s biting. I will not own a dog that bites, no matter what the provocation. I have grandchildren, and my dogs must be willing to tolerate little ones poking and prodding, as small children invariably do.

Once you’ve tallied up the points on each breed, you can begin to see which one is more likely to fit within your lifestyle. As we’ve gotten older and no longer have kids at home, I have more time for grooming and training, so those elements are not as important as they were when my kids still lived at home.

Follow this method and you can be sure that the breed you pick will be one you can live with. Disclaimer: individual dogs within a breed are different from each other, and there is always the off chance that you might get a dog that doesn’t fit the stereotype of his breed. So remember: when you get a dog, you are making a commitment to him for his lifetime, not just until you lose interest or he becomes more of a chore than you expected. If that’s where you are, please… Get a hobby instead!