Hot Days of Summer

It’s a pretty hot day here in Oakville, Ontario. Wanted to remind you all that we need to stay well hydrated on such days. Lots of fresh, cool water, some love ice,

frozen berries or other fruit pieces. Caesar loved watermelon…! Of course Caesar loved most food!! Wonder what the weather is like in other places and we’re hoping you are keeping yourself and your dog(s) cool and well hydrated. Don’t forget that the pavement can get very hot (especially dark/black surfaces) so either use a protective foot balm on your dog’s paws or keep your dogs walking primarily in grass!!

Enjoy your day and we’ll see you soon with a post about the course that we have created called Awakening Dog Lovers!

Keep cool and hydrated!!

Love,

Caesar and Hanifa (C&H)

Spiritual Update

good times!

Hello to Our Dear Friends!

We hope you are all well and enjoying our last summery days in North America and your own beautiful days regardless of where you are living. This is a very important post that we are writing today. It has come from hours and hours of contemplative time, meditating and true soul-searching (for Mom). haha!! I (Caesar) just told her what to do!! haha! That was easy for me!

I (Hanifa) need to let you know that lots has changed in my life since I no longer have Caesar. I do not think I have publicly shared how not-easy this process has been (on a “human” day-to-day level). The spiritual connection I have gained with/through Caesar is absolutely beautiful when I am consciously in that place. At other moments I can be taken over by a flood of emotions (ok, let’s say tears) from missing him, wondering how he’s doing, and if he’s healthy, happy, alive…? The consistent answer I get from God/the Universe is that he is ok – sometimes this comes through a connection with Caesar directly, but even that, I know is sent from an even Higher Consciousness (again God/the Universe if you work with those terms or just a Higher Awareness if that makes sense).

In these years (it’s been several) I have been practicing mindfulness exercises and living, with plenty of meditation and reflective time too. It has been very centring. Today most of you will know that my full-time job is that of a Grief Recovery and Brain Re-Training Guide. This has helped in my own healing and I’m happy to say I’ve seen much healing in my clients too.

Spirituality is the base of my living experience today and I can’t tell you how much it fills my heart that Caesar is in this experience with me somehow. Yet I also know it is flowing through my experience with much of nature, my care and compassion for other human beings and other pets and animals too.

Somehow over the last week, the message that this complete experience needs to be shared as such and not limited to my experience with Caesar keeps coming up. I feel like I am not honouring fully the gift I have been blessed with (or becoming more aware of?) today. I find it so ironic (thanks Universe?) that Grief is what I help clients with most and it’s likely because I have experienced my own share of it in my life (haven’t we all?!).

But Caesar… he is such a special part of this whole experience. A little gem in my heart. So close… yet so far… so much like God’s/the Universe’s presence itself. I (we) had to create the course that he inspired (again) for dog lovers – the first being the Pet Loss course many took from the Udemy.com platform – here is the link anyways (https://www.udemy.com/course/grieving-pet-loss-honoring-the-process/). I needed to create that course first for my own healing and others going through similar loss, and now this Awakening Dog Lovers course we needed to create recently for honouring the Spiritual bond with our fur babies too.

Originally I was keeping the videos private until someone showed interest at which point I would send links for all the videos with whatever PayPal amount people felt like giving. Now I’m just opening up the videos and I suspect that the honour system will allow the same honest give-what-you-can perspective from anyone who wants to check out the videos that we have really put our heart and soul into (literally – as much was spiritually-guided for us to share with you). I (we) do hope you’ll check them out and share your thoughts and comments either here or on Caesar’s Facebook page at Caesar Augustus von Schnauzer.

We hope that the course helps you learn even more from your fur-babies (especially but not limited to schnauzers) and that you’ll share your experiences with us!

And I (Hanifa) will continue to post regularly here still – once a week is my goal but maybe more as pics and memories of Caesar lifts my heart through our experience of a truly loving bond. I look forward to sharing these posts with you and hope you will enjoy and comment if you visit!

And now I can honestly and fully help people become more connected with each other (with pets, nature, relationships between couples, families, friendships, coworkers and even strangers) – as I believe this is my true calling alongside my Grief Recovery and Brain Re-Training work.

Caesar has also spiritually thanked me for expanding our journey to include more and this means the world to me (I’m sure God/the Universe was speaking through him… and I’m listening). This bond is at the core of my being and it is helping me share love and compassion that has grown from this core. This is truly the work I need to focus on and I hope you will feel it coming through my posts here too.

Be well everyone – we love you and here is the link to all of the videos for the course. If you would like to offer something through PayPal (send to Mom’s email at hanifahelps@gmail.com) for viewing – it will be truly appreciated (no matter the amount) and will also not be expected. We hope you enjoy the course!

With love from both of us (or more correctly, all 3 of us which includes God/the Universe as well).

Hanifa and Caesar + a Higher Consciousness

hanifahelps@gmail.com

Favourite Snacks

I love apples!

Hi everyone! We had posted my “Chef” video on my Caesar Augustus von Schnauzer page on Facebook to let you know I was cooking up some meals.

Decided to go for steak, eggs and spaghetti!! Love them all but wanted to know what you love too – you can share here if you’d like!

For now, I’m just enjoying thoughts of snacking – apples were always one of my favourites and Mom always saved “the core” without seeds for me!!

I love apples, berries, mangos and… well, almost anything really – but those are pretty special. Especially with the ingredient of love that Mom always added.

What are your fur-baby favourites? I’d love to know and hope you all have a great week ahead!

Lots of Love,

C&H

Fun Poses and Badminton?!

Today’s post makes me think back to the numerous fun poses I loved seeing Caesar in! I’m sure if you’ve got your own Miniature Schnauzer (or other favourite pet) you know exactly what I’m talking about.  It was such a pleasure to watch Caesar just… being himself! Caesar liked lots of cuddles but on his terms… although the position below looks perfect for “tummy rubs” it was not until he was pretty tired that he would allow this unless he was sitting up to receive it.  Mostly he loved scratches around his neck and petting of his back. I was happy to suit his preferences!

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One of my favourite memories is an afternoon of badminton where I taught Caesar to retrieve the “birdie” (couldn’t actually call it that since I didn’t want Caesar to go after our budgies with the same idea)!

And then there were the “poses” during training times. I was so impressed that Caesar could hold the positions I helped him perfect – and yes, always for a treat, but boy, did I love watching him do these.

“normally I hate lying on my back, but this is comfy…”

And then there were the stretching and massaging times… such a pleasure for both of us.

Are you paying attention to the beautiful “little” moments that fill your time/awareness around your fur-baby?  Life flies by so fast for all of us and we truly never know when our last days with our babies are. I so hope you enjoy each moment with yours.  I am re-living my joys through these pictures and hope you are taking many of you with your babies too.  Enjoy the moments dear friends.

Wishing you beautiful moments and lifelong memories to cherish too.

Kindly,

Hanifa

Outdoor Adventures

I bet many of you love your walks with your mini schnauzers. I absolutely loved going anywhere with Caesar, yet I believe that exploring new walking trails or sights brought us so many especially-special joys.  I remember that I was so in love with just watching what Caesar would get excited to see/smell/hear/chase… anything. I was mesmerized by his careful attention to everything.  Of course, we always took some snacks for him to munch on and often if there were human snacks, he’d get a couple of those too.

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I remember that on icy walks through trails Caesar was my balancer and his little weight on the end of the leash kept me steady on the ice!  He looked out for me as much as I looked out for his safety.  And every sight that I thought looked beautiful looked even better with him in it.IMG_2993

Between shared fresh air, exercise and sights/smells… we were together and you know that’s what means the most with our bonds with our fur-babies.

Of course, he was always kind enough to pose or do tricks with me too as he knew how happy that made me! Below is his famous “foot on foot” trick. What a sweetheart!

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And nothing ever felt better than having him in my arms – inside the house or out… IMG_3038

I bet many of you are enjoying your own special walks or outings with your babies too – do share with me here as I’d love to see!

Keep spending as much time as you can with your precious ones. I’m so grateful I have a million photos of my baby to enjoy and share here too… feel free to share yours.

Sending luv and schnuggles to you all from both of us,

Hanifa and Caesar

Baby Caesar

Oh how I loved getting to know Caesar during his puppy phase!  Anyone who has a dog (or has had one) knows this phase is way too short!! Yet I also remember him checking out every detail he could, and the boundless energy that was not-easy to keep up with! Never thought I’d need a baby gate, but we did! And we sometimes even caught him chewing up on baseboards (bitter apple helped that habit change pretty quick!). The razor-sharp puppy-teeth and the sweet feeling of him falling asleep on my legs every evening… loved those evenings.

Caesar was my first puppy, and I was so delighted to watch everything I could in this time – he was so curious and such a happy baby! We started with puppy-training classes at PetSmart with a trainer that we had heard about through a friend and it turned out that this trainer trained many of the trainers in the Ontario stores!  He was a fantastic trainer and Caesar learned everything that was taught – with regular practice at home between training classes of course!! And then – I took over training!! I could see how incredibly eager to learn Caesar was, and I was eager to teach him as much as I could too… what a wonderful experience that was for both of us!Caesar in his "paw-shaped" bed in training time.

I also started making regular posts in Schnauzers Are Us on Facebook of everything Caesar was learning (with many videos too) – he learned over 60 “tricks” or commands – and we all know that our babies have figured out way more words than these but I continue to be incredibly amazed and honoured to have helped teach my smart baby so many things that I believe made us equally happy (oh yes, treats were involved!).

If you have a mini-schnauzer that you are interested in training, I believe the biggest “skill” you can have in doing this, is your own patience. No more than 5-10 minutes maximum for teaching a new trick and then repeat it several times through the day and then the week… if your pup is not able to do something, your own frustration will not help. Sometimes what seems impossible for your baby to learn one month will seem so easy in another. And remember that just like people, each pup is different.  So even if you have 2 mini schnauzers from the same litter – do NOT expect them to learn the same. And have FUN with the training. I know for certain that seeing me get so happy with both teaching him, and especially happy on seeing Caesar learn a trick, gave him the same joy that it gave me. He knew he was bringing me joy… and boy, he did!  And he’d always have such a “proud of himself” look when he figured something out… I loved that too.  If you are not having fun with the experience of training, just find joy in being together. None of us knows how long we will have our babies, so I encourage you to enjoy as many moments as possible!!

Puppy Mini Schnauzer with toy blue bone

Innocent puppy face!

Enjoy the innocence of your new babies and cherish the memories with older or passed babies. These moments are truly precious!

Wishing you all a love-filled week ahead.

Kindly,

Hanifa

Different Styles of Training

Finally! I thought I’d take some time to share with you what I know about different dog-training styles.

Hello Friends!

As you know I haven’t written here for a while – largely because Caesar is not with me but with his Dad full time. Yet, I can’t forget this amazing baby or breed so after some encouragement from his fans, I thought I’d start by completing this post that I had started some time ago!

Please note that I am no longer married and not a currently practicing or licensed Naturopathic Doctor, but I will take time to make modifications in my posts over the days and months ahead.

So let’s talk about TRAINING!!

If you haven’t seen it by now, you will soon discover how incredibly train-able miniature schnauzers are if you are willing to put the time and energy into doing so 🙂

If you have a puppy of course this is the easiest time to start, but I do believe this breed would learn even as older dogs if the training is consistent.

Now you must know the famous Cesar Milan – and his style may be useful for some breeds especially – maybe larger or more aggressive personalities. But by and large, I feel miniature schnauzers are as sweet and gentle… though their barking may convince others (or you) that they have a different side to them sometimes (they are incredibly protective of their owners). But a gentle breed I am convinced.

So training these babies in my opinion, requires a consistent and loving style (as would likely work for many dog breeds by the way). Most people get frustrated if a dog does not learn fast enough, or if he/she “got it” – whatever training just the day before but today looks at you with a blank stare as if you’re asking something he/she has never heard before! lol! So start as if it’s new. Keep your training light-hearted and enjoyable for both of you – because that is what it really should be. Your energy is what your baby is basing their own energy on – and we know how eager our babies want to please us.

And work with just one command at a time… for many days with rewards to make it worthwhile for your baby. Caesar was extremely food motivated (as are many dogs as you know!) – I always made sure I used very tiny treats (even halves or quarters of mini-treats and this worked well – we know they are not really chewing most of the time!), and change it up to a nice pet/cuddle sometimes or play-time or running/walk as a reward too… your dog wants to bond with you. That is the true reward for both of you – and especially for your dog.  After about a week of working with one command (sit/stay/come being the most basic) – start training another command. 5-minute sessions are good or your baby may lose enthusiasm for something that is requiring to much effort. And you can do a few in a day or only once a day.  Some dogs are more toy-motivated (like catching/tugging with you!) so see what keeps your dog most excited about the learning sessions and work with that style suited to your baby.

Finally always remember WHY you’re doing any training – first – it’s very good for your dog to have the awareness of basic commands to be able to get his/her attention and almost automatic action in times of emergencies (like coming back to you after happily chasing a squirrel and wanting to cross a road to do this) – “come” as a command can truly help your baby keep safe. “Sit” can keep your dog from constantly pawing at you – although they may learn to paw you while sitting soon enough!  Useful to use “sit” when more dog-nervous people are around or children too to make both sides more comfortable.  I would recommend using both verbal and hand commands with our schnauzers especially.  Deafness/blindness is not uncommon as our babies age and having a knowledge of both verbal and hand signals (use together when training) will allow your baby to know what to do even if one sense becomes diminished over time.

I remember I had taught Caesar how to “jump up” on command after getting through all the basics and this came in very handy when 2 aggressive large dogs had somehow escaped a neighbour’s yard and were coming barrelling towards us – in an instant I panicked for Caesar’s safety (and my own too I have to admit) and I yelled “jump up” – and he responded immediately!!  I couldn’t have felt more relieved to have him safely in my arms! You just never know when some good training will come in handy. And I absolutely loved having training time for bonding time with Caesar – it really can be a joy for both sides! Try to keep in mind your dog is doing everything for YOU – always appreciate this love.

That’s a start everyone – as you may be able to imagine… it’s not so easy to write about my favourite fur-baby – but the memories are wonderful to remember too.

Wishing you a wonderful evening and I hope you get a little start on some training ideas if you’re thinking of doing some with your fur-babies!

More to come soon 🙂

Kindly,

Hanifa

Tumors and Cancer

So many people know about tumors and cancer from personal experience with friends, family, themselves and/or their pets.  Since we work with cancer regularly in our patient population as well, I thought this post would be good to share for people to understand the process (whether in humans or pets).

What is a tumor?

A tumor is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells.  A tumor begins when normal cells in a body mutate into abnormal cells which, instead of following the normal cell process of reproducing, maturing and dying, just keep reproducing without ever maturing or dying.  So they keep growing, forming a mass known as a tumor.

If the tumor remains localized in the tissue in which it started, the abnormal cells are considered benign, which means “harmless”.  They’re abnormal, but they don’t spread anywhere.  So if a benign tumor is surgically removed, the problem is usually solved.  Benign tumors are common, however, to form anew in the same part of the body or in different parts.

If the abnormal cells are NOT benign that means they have either spread to surrounding tissue or they have traveled through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system to other parts of the body to establish colonies of new tumors – they are considered malignant.

Malignant cells are what we call cancer.  Their process of invasion and spread is called metastasis.

What Causes Tumors and Cancer?

Tumors and cancers used to be diseases of old dogs, and they still account for almost half of all canine deaths over age 10.  But today an alarming number of young dogs are developing cancer.  Why?

First, because the tendency for cells to mutate can be inherited – and the unwise breeding practices that are so popular today (breeding related dogs together) have caused these kinds of faulty genes to become widespread in the purebred population.

Second, because canine immune systems are much weaker today than they used to be, and a weak immune system is unable to prevent mutated cells from spreading.  Again, weak immune systems are perpetuated by unwise breeding practices, along with poor nutrition, excessive vaccinations, over-use of drugs and medications, and the increasing presence of toxic chemicals in our dogs’ environments.

What are the symptoms of a tumor?

A tumor can start in virtually any cell in your dog’s body – skin cells, lymph gland cells, bone marrow cells, bladder cells, blood vessel cells, mammary gland cells, etc.  Some tumors develop so deep inside the body that they cause vague symptoms that are hard to detect and recognize.  Some tumors present themselves as a growth, either attached to your dog’s skin like a wart or raised lesion (spot/bump), or under the skin as a lump or mass.

Remember – don’t panic if you see or feel a growth on your dog as this is not always a tumor! Sebaceous cysts, fatty lipomas, and warts are all very common growths on dogs.  These are not tumors (as they are not formed by normal cells mutating into abnormal cells).  But if you do notice any mass that is getting larger, it’s good to have the area checked by your Vet.

What are the most common tumors and cancers in dogs?

Adenoma and adenocarcinoma:

An adenoma is a benign tumor formed by glandular tissue cells almost anywhere – such as in the sebaceous glands, mammary glands, anal glands, thyroid gland, lungs, kidneys, liver, intestines, prostate, nasal cavity, etc.

One common form of adenoma is a sebaceous gland tumor, which appears as a warty growth around a hair follicle.

Another form of adenoma is a perianal tumor which appears as a lump in the anal region, usually in older male dogs who have not been neutered.  Testosterone stimulates anal tissue into developing adenomas – if you neuter your dog when young, he is unlikely to develop an adenoma later in life.

Another common form of adenoma is a mammary gland tumor, which forms a lump in the breast, usually in older females who have not been spayed or who were spayed later in life.  Estrogen stimulates breast tissue into developing adenomas – if you spay your dog before or just after her first heat cycle, she is unlikely to develop an adenoma later.

Unfortunately, there is also a malignant form of adenoma called adenocarcinoma – and it is one of the most aggressive cancers in dogs.  A mammary gland tumor as about a 50-50 chance of being a benign adenoma or a malignant adenocarcinoma.

Other common tumors and cancers in dogs:tumor in schnauzer

Basal Cell tumor and basal cell carcinoma (small skin cells involved), Epulide (most common benign oral tumor), Fibroma and fibrosarcoma (in fibrous tissue of a bone), Hair Follicle tumors, Hemangioma and heangiosarcoma (blood vessels effected), Histiocytoma and histiocytic sarcome (white blood cell related), Lymphoma or lymphosarcoma (in lymphatic system – one of the most common cancers in dogs), Mast Cell tumor and mastocytoma (accounts for about 20% of skin tumors), Melanoma (in pigment-producing skin cells), Osteosarcoma (most common bone cancer in dogs), Sertoli cell tumor (testicular tumor – highest risk is in those with an undescended testicle), Squamous cell carcinoma (on skin, on toes most common in large black dogs including Giant Schnauzers), Transitional cell carcinoma (bladder cancer – very aggressively malignant).

Diagnosis:

Simplest test is a fine-needle biopsy, where a needle is inserted into the growth and a bit of its contents are aspirated into a syringe and then examined on a slide under a microscope.  For some tumors and potential cancers, blood tests, ultrasounds and x-rays may be needed.

Treatment:

Many benign tumors can be left alone.  Chinese medical herbs may help shrink some of these.  If a benign tumor is making your dog uncomfortable or if it is interfering with some important body function, it can be surgically removed.

For malignant tumors, Western medicine recommends the same options as they do for humans: surgery (including amputation if necessary), chemotherapy and radiation.

Surgery may indeed be the best option for malignant skin tumors, which can usually be removed cleanly and completely when caught early.  And amputation may be the only way to control the pain of some cancers such as osteosarcoma… at least for the short run.  But it is my opinion that chemotherapy and radiation often damage your dog’s immune system and his/her quality of life. Some cancers do respond to aggressive chemotherapy or radiation by shrinking (or going into remission) – for a few months or a year.  Unfortunately, many return, requiring higher doses or stronger drugs to forced them back into remission and after a few cycles, the cancer often becomes resistant.

Naturopathic options do exist for keeping your dog’s immune system at its full strength.  I recommend (and use with Caesar various antioxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oils) and various herbs (my favorites being turmeric and astragalus).  Homeopathic remedies can also be very useful for treatment.  Do consult a Holistic Vet or Health Care Practitioner that you trust, for specific suggestions for your own dogs.

Even with “hopeless” cancers, naturopathic medicine can help your fur-baby feel much more comfortable than working without as you can decrease the side-effects of Western medical treatments and/or work without medical treatments to allow your pet as much comfort and healing as possible as you work through the cancer journey together.

Wishing you and your fur-babies the best of health today and always!

Kindly,

Dr. Menen

Stretches and Massage for your Fur-Baby

Simple tips for improving Circulation and Mobility:

Dogs need exercise and exercise creates strain on muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments.  For this post I wanted to focus on some simple ideas that anyone can use to help keep their dogs healthy.  Although larger dogs have more risk of injury to the musculoskeletal system (muscles and joints), smaller dogs, high energy dogs, those involved in canine (or other) sports regularly, and dogs that are getting older can really benefit from massage and stretches.  Of course Mini Schnauzers would benefit from this!!

Let’s start with Massage:

In just ten minutes a day, you can give your dog a “maintenance” massage. Use a flat palm to slowly touch all the parts of your dog’s body. Really focus on what you are feeling and pay attention to all the layers, from hair through skin, fat, muscle, and down to bone. However, there is more to these massages than just quality time together. After a few days, you will have a clear picture of what is normal for your dog’s body. In future sessions, you will be quick to notice any differences in surface temperature, sensitivity to touch, localized swelling or muscle tension, poor coat quality or tight skin. Left undetected, these things can lead to problems requiring medical care, medications, or even surgery. Knowing what feels normal for your dog can also help you provide better information for your veterinarian, trainer, or massage practitioner. This is one way that regular massage can add to the length and quality of your pet’s life. I found the following techniques described by Lola Michelin, founder of the Northwest School of Animal Massage to be very useful and in line with what I use with our own Caesar.  Hope they are useful to you too!

Calming the Nervous Dog

“this feels… relaxing…”

Massage therapists (and some Naturopathic Doctors!) use a stroke similar to petting to relax the nervous system. This can be used during an anxious response to thunder, lightning, Vet-visits, or any other upset for your dog.  Lightly rest the flat palm of your hand on top of your dog’s head or neck. Make long, sweeping passes along the length of the spine and down the tail. Repeat this several times slowly. You can gradually increase your pressure if your dog likes it. Do not press straight down on the lower part of the back. To finish, allow one hand to rest at the base of your pet’s head and the other hand to rest over the area of the pelvis (the high point over your dog’s hips). These two areas correspond to the part of the spinal cord that controls the rest and relaxation responses of the body (for example, sleep, digestion, and tissue repair). This technique is useful any time your dog is nervous or fearful, such as during nail trimming or vaccinations, or when he is hyperactive or restless.

Warm-Up Massage for Active Dogs

“I think we’re going to have some fun!”

Active dogs that compete, run, hike with their owners, or just play hard also deserve a good warm-up, and this may even prevent injury – I will often use massage before a major-hike-day with Caesar right after his morning stretches. Start with several minutes of petting strokes over your dog’s entire body. Briskly rub the large muscles (neck, shoulders, buttocks, and thighs) with the heel of your hand. Gently lift and squeeze the muscles. The technique is a lot like kneading bread dough. Wrap your fingers around each lower leg and squeeze gently. Relax your grip and move up the leg gradually, squeezing as you go. Finish with more petting over the entire body to stimulate the nerves.

 Relieving Joint Stiffness and Soreness

“Ahhh… that’s soothing…”

Recent exertion, aging, or inactivity can lead to soreness and stiffness in joints and muscles. To help, start by petting the area around the joint to warm the tissue. Then place your hand(s) over the area and apply gentle compressions over the area. You can use your breathing or count slowly to establish a rhythm as you press and release the muscles. The pumping motion moves fluids through the muscles and takes tension off the tendons surrounding the joint. Never use sudden or direct force over a bone. Finish with more petting over the area to soothe the nerves. Keep in mind that regular massage throughout the life of your pet may help prevent the stiffness and pain that contributes to arthritis. Readers should note that massage is not a substitute for veterinary care. Severe conditions require diagnosis and treatment by your veterinarian.

Now, Let’s Look at Stretches

Simple, Gentle Stretches You Can Complete in Minutes a Day

There are three areas of your dog’s body for which stretching is especially beneficial – the hips, the shoulders and the back.

The following stretches, done slowly and gently, are well tolerated by most dogs. However, if you don’t feel confident in your ability to do the stretches, consider asking your Vet or a small animal Chiropractor, Naturopathic Doctor, or Massage Therapist to demonstrate the stretches for you so you can do them at home.

Instructions for most of these stretches have your dog standing, but you can also do them with your dog lying on his/her side, or in the case of the chest stretch, on his/her back (which is the position that Caesar finds most comfortable for his stretches most of the time).  Some dogs are very uncomfortable in this position, so if yours is, don’t force the issue.

Needless to say, if your pet shows any sign of pain during stretching, discontinue the movement and have him/her seen by your Vet as soon as possible.

“this is good for my hips”

Stretching the hip flexors. The hip flexors are muscles that enable your dog to move his legs and hips while walking, trotting or running. To stretch the hip flexors, ask or get your dog to stand or lie down, and gently hold a back leg above the knee. Gently and slowly move the leg back straight out behind your dog’s body. When you reach a point of resistance, where further extension will require applying pressure, hold the leg in position for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat this stretch 2 or 3 times with each back leg.

Benefits your dog will receive from this stretch include increased movement and flexibility in the hips and spine, improved conditioning of the lower back, hip and leg muscles, and a reduction in arthritis-related discomfort and pain.

Stretching the shoulder flexors. Shoulder flexors are muscles that allow fluid movement and proper use of your dog’s front legs. To stretch the shoulder flexors, with your dog standing or lying down, grasp a front leg above the elbow, place your other hand under the elbow to stabilize it, and gently move the leg forward. At the point of resistance, hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat 2 or 3 times for each front leg.

“this is good for my shoulders”

Not only does this stretch improve the integrity of shoulder structure, it also benefits the wrists and elbows, and increases your dog’s breathing capacity by loosening his/her chest muscles that are around the lungs.

Stretching the chest area. The muscles of your dog’s chest endure a great deal of strain. This is an abduction stretch, meaning a stretch away from center. With your dog on his back, grasp both front legs near the elbows (some say wrists but near the elbows is a sturdier location and will likely be more comfortable for your dog) and gently open them out to the side. Hold for several seconds, release and repeat.

Since your dog may expect a chest or tummy rub (he/she is on their back, after all), you can relax them further by giving him/her a gentle chest massage using light pressure and circular strokes.

“normally I hate lying on my back, but this is comfy…”

Stretching the back. This stretch requires the use of training treats. With your dog standing, and you on one side of him/her, move the treat slowly in the direction of his/her tail, encouraging your dog to follow it with his/her eyes – turning only his/her head. This will require him/her to bend their body into a C shape. Hold your dog (or ask him/her to stay) in this position for 10 to 30 seconds, then step to the other side and repeat the exercise. Do 2 or 3 stretches on each side.

“there’s a treat…”

“and another treat!”

After you’ve stretched your dog’s back, he/she will really enjoy a sacrum and back rub. The sacrum is the area in front of the base of the tail, between the hip bones. Using light pressure and circular movements massage the hard flat surface of the sacrum. Move your hands slowly up your dog’s spine and back using gentle massage strokes.

Regular sacrum and back rubs decrease anxiety, increase the flow of spinal fluid, enhance mobility in the hips and spine, and help bring your dog’s body into good balance.

I hope you and your dog(s) will find these tips helpful!  Do you think these ideas will take too much time in your day?  Then remember these words (for both you and your dog!):

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down” ~ Lily Tomlin – hahaha!! funny but true too!

Kindly,

Dr. Menen

Caesar’s Dental Visit

Recently, we took Caesar to his Vet for his first full dental cleaning.  Many people wanted to know more about our experience, so here’s what happened.

We have been brushing Caesar’s teeth since he was a puppy – about once a week if possible, although some weeks have been missed.  We noticed a bit of plaque starting to build on his teeth last year and this year a bit more tartar accumulation.  This of course, was pointed out to us by our Vet who sees Caesar yearly for a full check-up including  blood work.  So this year, we figured we should take the Vet up on her late winter/spring discount on dental care.

We had learned from her last year that dogs need to be anesthetized during this process as most will not sit still for the cleaning – let alone the “very still” for the x-rays taken to determine the health of the teeth.  I re-checked with her to make sure that Caesar had had no ill-effects of anesthesia in the only other time he’s had it: his big-boy surgery!

No Breakfast and a Walk?

She reviewed her notes and determined that no challenges were encountered during or after his recovery from the anesthetic.  So we booked Caesar in.  He was to avoid all food after midnight so we gave him a late, extra meal at about 11:30pm, then surprised him with a no-breakfast morning for all of us and a walk to the Vet’s office.  Yes, he knew something was up.

We left Caesar with his Vet with false confidence for our boy and acted nonchalantly not to notice his resistance to being pulled away from us – then rushed home.  I cried as I waited the grueling hours until we finally heard he was being taken in for the procedure (which would take 2-3 hours from start to coming out of anesthetic time) – thinking about him being scared and missing us… Then we rushed to the clinic again during this time to try to get a couple of pics of his first cleaning but couldn’t actually go see our baby (our Vet had warned us before that it’s not useful to have owners/parents watch the cleaning as it only stresses out the Vet themselves – but I thought she could just stop for one minute while I got pics…?)  Luckily, one of the staff agreed to take some pics for me and that was sufficient for us to wait out the rest of the time at home.

Here are the pictures the staff took for us… poor little guy… but clearly getting some careful attention.

Well let me tell you that my husband and I truly rejoiced when the office called again a few hours later to let us know that Caesar was out of the anesthetic state, and recovering nicely.  They were even so kind as to send this picture and message: “Hi Mom and Dad, I just wanted to let you know that I’m doing great after my dental procedure! I went out for a walk and I ate all of my food, it was delicious. I’m resting quietly in my comfy cage and I can’t wait to see you later! Love, Caesar xo”

Seven hours after we dropped him off, we were picking him up!! What a day!  But before we actually got to see our baby, our Vet (Dr. Sarah) went through everything she learned – she had taken x-rays before the procedure (as she had told us she would do to determine if any teeth needed extra attention or extraction) as well as before and after pictures of the teeth to show us Caesar’s work 🙂  What was amazing is that she had talked us through everything we could expect from this procedure and followed through with all that she had prepared us for!  We had signed papers for this procedure on the day of this visit which also describes that if anything is found on x-rays every effort is made to contact us to let us know before doing anything.  We could either check a box which required our consent to do anything – which would mean if she couldn’t reach us she would do nothing and we would need another anesthetic time (likely) to do any work that might be needed. OR we could check a box that allows the Vet to do whatever she finds needs work to avoid another anesthetic procedure.  We checked the first box as we had taken the day off for Caesar’s visit and knew that there would be no way that the Vet’s office would not be able to reach us!  Luckily, we also discovered that we brought Caesar in at what looks like perfect timing – yes, plaque and tartar needed to be removed, but there were no problems with the gum-line, no abscesses and no need for extractions!!!

I thought I’d share a few pics we got from our Vet’s office:

before

after

And yes, we got pictures and x-rays of every section of Caesar’s mouth!

healthy teeth

healthy teeth

So happy to see this!!

So that was our experience.  I am so impressed with the way that our Vet’s office handled everything for us on this nerve-wracking day for all of us.  Thank-you to North Oakville Animal Hospital for your fantastic care and service!

Below, I have shared some useful information that I found on the web through animal planet’s website – I don’t think I could have written the ideas any better!  I hope you find the tips useful because I sure believe they are!

Your Dog’s Dental Health

You put a lot of thought into keeping your dog healthy: quality food, routine checkups, plenty of fitness. But what about his teeth?

Oral hygiene is an often-overlooked but important factor in your dog’s overall health. If he has a toothache or sore gums, he’s dealing with pain and stress that you may not even know about. Left untreated, bacteria introduced by the problem can enter the bloodstream and affect his heart, kidneys or liver. Veterinarians report that an estimated 85 percent of dogs over age 4 are suffering from some form of periodontal disease, a painful oral condition that can lead to tooth loss and infection. The good news? All of these problems are preventable with regular dental cleanings and professional checkups.

Like regular grooming or the daily jaunt outside, dental care should be something your dog comes to expect each day. But it won’t happen overnight; most dogs take some time getting used to someone poking around in their mouth. Most owners need to warm up to the idea, too! Ideally, introduce dental care when your pooch is still a puppy. But don’t stress if you just realized that your adult dog’s teeth need some attention. Just take a slow, patient approach, and remember that lots of love and treats go a long way in winning him over.

Most experts agree that daily brushing is ideal, but if that’s unrealistic, aim for three to four times per week. And don’t be an overachiever: If your pup’s patience only lasts for you to brush half his teeth today and the other half tomorrow, that’s fine. Just remember which half you did each day!

Unfortunately, dogs can’t care for their teeth themselves, but they can help by gnawing on the right product. A good long chew can help scrape away plaque and dirt, and most dogs are happy to comply. Natural choices include rawhide (yes, there’s a lot of controversy about these being ingested and causing blockage – so we avoid them with Caesar) or a knucklebone. Knucklebones are apparently a softer bone that’s gentler on the teeth. Experts advise not to give harder items, such as hooves or bones from steak, rib or ham shank as these can fracture teeth – but I have heard from several people that their dogs have done well with these – always remember that each dog is unique and individual and you have to work with what you feel is best for your own while being aware also of potential dangers.

Some dogs won’t bite on these natural choices, but many do enjoy chewing artificial bones or chew toys. Try a variety to see what your dog likes. Always choose rubber or nylon toys with a rough or bumpy surface, large enough so that it won’t present a choking hazard. A chew toy should be somewhat flexible, not rock hard.

Dogs love to eat, and crunchy food and chew treats can help with your overall efforts. Look for the “VOHC-approved” stamp on any dental-cleansing product, which means they meet the tooth cleaning protocols established by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. While these items won’t replace the need to brush, they can help reduce unwanted buildup.

You probably don’t want to share your toothbrush, so once you’re ready to begin brushing, get her some supplies of her own:
–Doggie toothbrush: A human toothbrush works well; choose a soft one in a size to match her mouth. Canine toothbrushes are more angled and also come in a fingertip style, which slips over the end of your finger. Choose the kind you both like.
–Canine toothpaste: It’s unlikely your dog will learn to spit, so she needs a toothpaste that’s safe to swallow. That rules out human formulas, which contain abrasives and detergent that she shouldn’t ingest. Plus, she’ll prefer the poultry or seafood options of canine toothpaste.  Try to find one that has an ezymatic formula for better cleaning.
–Wipes or pads: When there’s no time for full brushing, wiping her teeth and her gum line will whisk away some bacteria and food. You can use a canine dental pad, available at most pet stores, or a simple gauze pad wrapped around your finger.

So you’ve gathered your supplies and you’re committed to forming good dental habits. Your next goal is convincing your dog.

Ready to start brushing? Don’t expect your dog to sit and open wide. He may think tooth brushing is right up there with having a bath. Depending on your dog’s age and background, it can take several days to several weeks to gain his cooperation. Don’t rush it.

First, spend some time handling his mouth. Turn your finger into a treat by dabbing something tasty on it — like peanut butter, meat baby food or nonfat yogurt. Let him lick at your finger, while you gently rub his teeth and gums. Reapply the tasty treat as needed, trying to move his lips aside to expose more of the teeth.

He’ll also need to be used to having you handle his muzzle. Gently place one hand under his lower jaw and the other on top, and rest your hands like that for a few seconds. Gradually work your way toward manipulating his mouth by parting his lips, then gently easing his jaw open.

Once he’s given everything the OK, choose a time of day that’s quiet and unhurried, then bring out the brushing gear.

To get started:
Let your dog sniff and lick the toothpaste and toothbrush.
Move your dog’s lips aside, then rub the visible teeth with either your finger or the toothbrush. A touch of toothpaste may spark his interest.
Gradually increase the number of teeth you brush, reapplying the toothpaste as needed. Remember to brush along the gum line. A circular motion works best.
Once that’s going well for a few days, try gently opening his jaw to brush the back teeth. Don’t worry if it’s too difficult to brush the inside of his teeth; with most breeds, periodontal disease is more common on the outside of teeth.

Conclude with a special reward — play, treat or affection — even if the process didn’t go well. You want your dog to form a positive association with brushing, so a happy ending this time may make him more agreeable next time.

You’ll need to take your pet to see the veterinary dentist at some point, so read on for ways to make that a smooth experience.

Whether it’s for a professional cleaning or because your dog was up all night with a toothache, make his trip to the dentist as comfortable as possible.

Start by researching which veterinary dentists are in your area. Unless it’s an emergency, ask your vet or other pet parents for their recommendations. If it’s convenient, make a dry run to let your dog say “hello” to the staff, sniff out the waiting room and sample a treat. This lets you both check out the place and helps your dog feel more agreeable about future visits.

When you set up your appointment, find out anything you’d like to know: if you’ll be able to stay with your pet, if they accept your veterinary insurance (if you have it) or any other questions on your mind. Be sure to ask if you need to follow any instructions before his visit. If he’s having a dental procedures — even a cleaning — he may be given an anesthetic, so proper preparation is important.

You may have dental anxiety, but your dog doesn’t have to know it. Your faithful companion has become a master at reading your emotions, so if you act nervous come appointment day, he’ll worry, too. Hop in the car and head to the office as you would any other fun outing. And tuck a reward in your pocket. If his teeth hurt, bring something soft like baby food or peanut butter.

During the appointment, don’t hesitate to ask questions and gather as much information as you need. If you’re uncertain about something, go home and do some research, or consider a second opinion.

Good dental care, both at home and from a professional, is a big part of keeping your dog healthy. With some patience and dedication, it can easily become a part of your lifestyle.

Good Dental Health makes Everyone Happy!

I do hope this information has been useful to you!

Kindly,

Dr. Menen