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Newsletter - January 2011

The News At Home

Toronto has had cold weather and almost no snow. Most dogs become friskier when the temperatures drop, and snow makes them quite happy, but Tori is energized more than enough by the cold alone, thank-you-very-much. Her day starts at 4 am when she bolts toward the back door with an urge to piddle. This is followed by a romp around the perimeter of the yard to ensure we’re safe. With that established, she wants to come back inside and eat, or at the very least, play. Soon, she wants to nap for a short while before the urgency to check out the yard returns.

The back yard is a source of entertainment because there are fallen twigs to be chased or chewed, dirt that is partially frozen, thus a greater challenge to dig, and squirrels that must be barked at. If all else fails, barking for no reason might blow off some steam, and when that’s done, her ball is waiting inside so she warms up by chasing and squeaking it as loudly as possible.

Tori is 4-1/2 years old and very cute. We love her more than I can describe. She doesn’t shed much, isn’t expensive to feed, loves to cuddle and would fit nicely in your home for a week or so. That is, if you don`t require sleep. Any takers?

 Fact of The Month

Colitis flare-ups can be due to stress

Maybe I shouldn’t call this a fact. After all, I`m not aware of any studies in dogs that prove it to be so. Yet, I’ve been working with dogs that have colitis for many years and I’ve spoken to enough internal medicine specialists who agree with my thoughts that it may as well be a fact. The scenario goes something like this: Your dog has colitis that is almost always under control since you’ve changed the diet and/or used a certain medication. You leave your dog for a few days while you’re on vacation. The dog sitter might be a friend or relative your dog adores and even though you return to find a happy dog with no intestinal flare-up, the colitis begins to rear its ugly head 1-2 days after you’re back home. Or, your dog has been doing fine and goes to a place where there are other dogs. S/he seems to have a great time and comes home happy and tired. But 1-2 days later, or perhaps that very night, the GI tract begins to react. Or, your dog has three or more poops daily, but they’re formed well and nothing seems amiss. But s/he performs at an event and that day, or maybe 1-3 days later, the GI trouble begins.

We often think of stress as something negative. That is, we might think of it if the dog is frightened or has experienced something new and challenging. But even seemingly good things like having fun at an event or meeting other friendly dogs at a park can be stressful. This doesn’t mean we have to shield these dogs against life. Most often, dogs learn to cope by experiencing stress only to discover that they can survive it, take hold of it, and even have a good time. But, there is no doubt in my mind that what a healthy dog can cope with is different from what a dog with colitis can. These sensitive guts react and maybe the delay in their reaction can be explained by the innate wiring of survival. I’m sure that like myself, you’ve probably experienced a time in your life when stress translated to you doing all that was expected of you even though you were running on little more than adrenaline. It’s only when you can stop running yourself into the ground that your body has a mini meltdown.

So, what can you do to help your sensitive dog? Sometimes, nothing but to change their lifestyle (not all competition dogs are healthy enough to complete), but sometimes, two supplements can help. The first is acidophilus which provides healthy bacteria the gut needs. The second is L-glutamine which helps to support healthy cells in the gut lining. Both have been small miracle workers for many of the dogs I know, and both may be worth trying. But keep in mind, that while these are great supplements, a dog with a gut that is reactive to stress still needs a quieter life and may not be the best candidate for some of the things we believe are exciting.


“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.” - Jack London



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