How do you know when to take your dog to a specialist? Is it normal to actually sit and thoroughly read the enclosed scientific documentation enclosed with the pills that a vet prescribes?
These questions weigh on my mind. Call me crazy dog lady but for me, replace the word "dog" with child, and wouldn't I be like every other concerned parent you know? With spring weather and increased pollen count, our dog continues to suffer from her allergies. Last July after modifying her diet for her now known food allergies, Cleo seemed to get better. She had tested positive for inhalant allergies to dust, mites, grasses, weeds and a few tree pollens but we thought they were minor in comparison to her food allergies.
With the burst of spring blossoms last month, we saw a sharp increase in her licking, itching and chewing again. Being the type of person who prefers natural, or more truthfully, practical solutions to most things, I like to try a lot of different tactics before going to a vet or any doctor. Hey I went to college, I should be able to figure a lot of stuff out on my own, right? Well, yes this is true but not always. And after lots of tricks and tips found on many pet websites, and little real relief for Cleo, besides A+ poop, we went the specialist route.
I confess the final push to make the appointment, and admit we couldn't "fix" her ourselves, came when our dog walker told us how Cleo spent more time scratching herself raw than playing with her dog friends at the park. Cleo not want to play at the park with her buddies? This must be what it is like getting a call or note from your child's teacher. I was embarrassed and now felt the gaze of judgement from others who knew our secret. Did she think I was cheap or worse, too poor to go to a specialist? This is San Francisco where many people spend oodles on their pets without thought. Guilt is a terrible weapon and I applied it thickly so that I felt like the worst parent in the universe - to the best dog in the world.
Sparkle is an author, blogger, advice columnist and supermodel. She is also a cat. Her blog,www.sparklecat.com, was a 2010 Dogtime Media Pettie winner for "Best Cat Blog" and Cat Writers Association Muse Medallion winner.
Her latest book, Dear Sparkle: Cat-to-Cat Advice from the World's Foremost Feline Columnist, was a first-place winner in the 2010 USA Book Awards for the Animals/Pets: Novelty and Best Interior Design categories.
All this recognition has not changed her at all, considering that she was a diva to begin with. Sparkle lives in Los Angeles with two cats, two humans, and a dog that she does not particularly like.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A world where every cat has a home. And of course, that home would include high-quality, organic, grain-free food, dozens of cat toys, fresh catnip, at least one or two cat towers, a fancy cat scratcher in every room, and an assistant (i.e., a human) who scoops the litter box on an hourly basis.
If you could come back as a human, would you?
Nooooo! No-no-no-no-no-no. Nope. Uh-uh. You guys have it too tough.
San Francisco has had a record number of rainy days for March. Our house seems to have broken a record for the number of muddy dog prints on the carpet. With our first sun, I hope to smell more fresh flowers than wet dog for a change.
This weekend after all the rain I washed Cleo's new (well not so new anymore) dog bed for the first time. This was the cover's first official washing in the washing machine. There have been "unofficial washings" that include a few swipes with a sponge and Dust Buster.
Michele C. Hollow created the blog Pet News and Views, a blog that focuses on animal welfare—mostly the positive side of animal welfare. She believes that by opening readers to the positive side of animal welfare, they can get the whole picture of the issues.
Pet News and Views is a source for pet owners and admirers of wildlife. Her blog focuses on pet care, wildlife issues, profiles of people who work with animals, laws affecting animals, and stories about pets and wildlife. Michele takes a journalistic approach to these stories.
Michele wrote the book, “The Everything Guide to Working with Animals,” (Adams Media), and has worked as a journalist for 15 years. Her byline has appeared in the NY Times, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Star-Ledger, Pet Product News, womansday.com, and other national publications. She is listed as an expert at dogtime.com.
Michele lives in South Orange, NJ, with her husband, Steven; son, Jordon, and their cat, Mr. Earl Gray.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Oh, there are so many things. On a day-to-day level, I love spending time with my family and friends and being surrounded by animals. We often go to the dog park for fun. On a global level, I would love to see a world with respect for all creatures.
Ethel is a sweet older girl whose previous guardian died. She spent long days in a shelter and now needs a mellow home with easy access to the yard and no stairs. Her current foster family says Ethel loves the beach.
Animal lovers. In 2010 we started an interview series called Influence Positively. I felt that for every sad story in the media about a pet or animal, someone needed to share an uplifting one. For each depressing pet adoption video, I felt compelled to share a funny or happy dog video. In what you might call my Northern California way, I wanted to even out the cosmic balance.
Spotlight. I began posting short interviews with people who had answered five simple questions. Five universal questions that gives the interviewee freedom to approach their answer from dozens of angles. This freedom I believe assures us readers that what we read will be at the least, a thoughtful answer and at best, a meaningful personal moment they are willing to share.
Shining a spotlight on people from all walks of life who devote time, energy, thought and love to animals has to be a good thing. These people often give of themselves without measurement. They go forward in their work with animals because an internal motive is pushing them. Being the bossy, nosey person that I am, whose first word my mother swears was "why", these informal interviews are meant to shed light on that internal mechanism. Don't you want to know why they do what they do? I want to know why!
Pet Adoption. Today we're celebrating Petfinder's 15th anniversary with Adopt the Internet Day. Please visit Cleo's blog today to see the dog profiles we chose from Petfinder's gallery of adoptable dogs highlighting the kinds of dogs Cleo loves to play with and meet on walks.
Cleo is sharing a new dog profile starting at 6:00 AM in San Francisco, every hour for 12 hours, with treat breaks. Click on the Cleo's Day tab above.
Spread the word about adoption. Lots of blogs and websites are coming together to share the joy of pet adoption: PetSugar - Dogster - Oprah.com and ICAN HAS CHEEZBURGER are four of the many wonderful groups participating today.
Adoption and just deciding to care for another life, is a personal decision and choice, whether that life includes two or four legs. For me, the best way to show my appreciation for pet adoption organizations like Petfinder is to play with and hug Cleo, my adopted dog.
I grew up with dogs and love them like crazy. They make me laugh, cry and smile. I want to pull my hair out sometimes because of them, and there are times I feel like the crappy dog owner. However the one consistent sensation deep in my heart of hearts, is love and gratitude. I am grateful for knowing dogs. I feel so alive and motivated by them. They inspire me to be a better human.
Monday we are taking our dog to the vet. What is special about this visit is that we are headed to a new vet, who specializes in dermatology. Cleo, our senior German Shepherd-Husky continues to suffer from itchy skin, dark spots on your face, bald spots on both sides of her ears and hot spots in various parts of her body, and more.
We took her for an allergy test last year and that helped to identify several severe food allergies plus some environmental allergies. However, she is suffering again with compulsive biting and because she knows we will stop her, she takes any unsupervised opportunity to bite herself silly.
Hoping to help her ourselves, we have tried tips from friends and what we have read online:
We've been brushing her more often to get any pollen off her fur
We add olive oil to her meal occasionally hoping it will help her coat
We have medicated shampoo that we have bathed her with
On bad days we give her Benedryl
We never leave her alone for more than a few minutes at a time
Still she suffers and we need a solution. We need our life back where we can leave her alone for more than five minutes. We don't want her to aggravate her skin problems to the point she is forced to wear the cone of shame. So through the recommendation of a trusted friend, we found a new vet specializing in dermatology. Did we wait too long?