Friday, October 31, 2014

News You Can Use - (white dogs)

Does Your White Dog Cry?

Yes! All dogs have tear stains but they are most noticeable on white dogs. For years, dog owners have used products like Angels’ Eyes, Angels’ Glow, Pets’ Spark, and others that really work but, recently, have been taken off the market (supposedly).

Moisture on the skin, along with too much (too many) yeast, (good) bacteria and other microbes cause this reddish-brown stain.

These stain-removal products containing a small amount of antibiotic (which work on the bacteria) should have been removed from the shelves as of the end of August. It is the antibiotic that has not been approved by the FDA for use in dogs: neither have the stain-removal products been reviewed for safety and effectiveness.

What Now?

Plain old soap and water is a good second-choice if the area is well-dried afterwards. Probiotics may be the treatment of choice in the near future.

But, for now and as always, ask your veterinarian, especially if your dog’s face has an odor which may indicate ear or mouth infections.

Read More About It: Steve Dale’s Pet World column on Chicago Now here.

Angels’ Eyes was still available online on 31 October here and Angels’ Glow here

The Tear Stain Center has issued this product warning for Angels Eyes: Consumer Warning, Potentially Dangerous Product.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: Head to Tail (dogs, cats, alternative medicine)

Head to Tail Wellness: western* veterinary medicine meets eastern wisdom, by stacy fuchino [sic] (Howell Book House [Wiley], 248 pages, 2010, $19.99)

Balance is the Theme

How intriguing! The cover (right) shows the ancient yin-yang symbol**  superimposed with a sitting dog silhouette looking leftward and a white cat in front of the dog looking out at the reader. Yin and yang represent the balance among mind, body and environment as well as movement, interconnection and interdependence – worthy concepts all.

Purposeful Petting

Filled with plenty of case histories of both dogs and cats (thank goodness, cats get equal billing), Head to Tail nevertheless does not convince this scientist and natural skeptic to convert. I had agreed to review Head to Tail for the publisher primarily because, as a canine massage instructor, Chapter Two appealed to me: Evaluating Pet Wellness through Purposeful Petting. I love the term, purposeful petting, and plan to incorporate it into my massage sessions! However, this chapter is circular and doesn’t really say anything substantial, much like the rest of the book.

Convince me!

As a scientist, I am not a proponent of unsubstantiated methods but am open to all ideas: if I can be convinced of something I previously did not believe, the argument is indeed outstanding and will sway me to the other side (that is what null hypothesis testing is all about). The author does not make an outstanding argument for eastern wisdom in this reviewer's opinion.

Do You Have a Fire Dog, or an Earth Cat?

Head to Tail is well-organized and focuses on the five ‘kinds’ of pets: the fire pet, the wood pet, the water pet, the earth pet, and the metal pet. These terms refer to temperament and Fuchino discusses their characteristics and traits, and the issues that are common to them as well as the solutions to those problems. Case histories abound and cats are given equal attention.

However, . . .

Head to Tail covers food (‘the root of all health’), early intervention, and managing common life transitions – all good and helpful topics – as well as my favorite topic, purposeful petting. However, I am still not converted to the value of ‘eastern wisdom’ compared to western medicine. The data and explanations just wasn’t there to convince me how it works or even that it works. The placebo effect is indeed great, as is coincidence. However, if you are a believer, you may just love Head to Tail!
*I never know if I should capitalize words that should be capitalized but aren’t. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Here, I didn’t.

**The roundness of the yin-yang figure represent the globe and the larger universe while the dark component, yin, holds a small dot of lightness and the light component, yang, contains an element of darkness. Together, they describe the opposing, complementary qualities in natural  phenomena. (p. 18-19)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Book Review: Off the Leash (dog park, Boston)

Off The Leash: A Year at the Dog Park, by Matthew Gilbert (Thomas Dunne Books of St. Martin’s Press, 2014, 227 pages, $24.99)

What is a Dog Park?

Who of us hasn't taken a dog to the dog park at least once? Or wanted to? Or has a friend who frequents the dog park (with or without said canine)?

It is well-known that this reviewer is a yellow lab and golden lover so imagine my delight to find a book cover with both my breeds! I simply couldn’t resist! Not only are these two dogs in the cover photo but each has a tennis ball in his mouth on a great expanse of green green grass with trees and skyscrapers in the background.

Dog parks are urban patches of green, often fenced-in, where dogs can romp with each other off-leash and run to their heart’s content, cheered on by proud humans.


TV critic Matthew Gilbert asks (and answers) the question: how does a non-dog-person such as himself become enamored of the canine species and fall in love with “everything dog”?


In short, fall in love with a dog-person! And start with an adorable lab puppy.

A Year in the Life of a Dog Park

Off the Leash chronicles Gilbert’s first year with his dog, a yellow lab pup named Toby, and their canine and human friends, characters all, in the subculture of a Boston dog park. Of course, it is also about the growing relationship between man and dog for Gilberts works at home and can flex his work time to allow for dog park excursions – lucky human! And lucky dog!daily

A dog park, like few other locations, is one where people run into and befriend people they may not come into contact with or meet in other places – a hodge-podge of people whose one common denominator is dogs. Other than that, they are students, senior citizens, writers, lawyers, housewives. They are also loners, joiners, party-people and gossipers. Some are complainers and others fall in love. A true microcosm of the world at large in a little square postage stamp of nature peopled with dogs and their people.

Meet Charlotte, one of a kind who probably frequents every dog park in the country. Meet the college girl with a crush on the handsome stud of a guy who has no time for her but they both have dogs they love. Meet Gilbert’s best friends at the dog park: meet Toby’s best friends, which include a golden retriever who teaches the pup how to play and do just about everything else, with golden patience.

Starting in the fall with four essays and going through winter (seven), growing into spring (six) and finally into summer (five), Off the Leash has two unforgettable “chapterettes” with a discourse on poop and how people take care of it or don’t, and on balls of the tennis kind. Off the Leash is a book also about beginning and endings as people come and go with their dogs and college students move on with their lives elsewhere.

Dog park members will love this little book and will recognize all their dog park friends in it. For novices, it will service as an introduction to the people-kinds one might expect to interact with at the dog park. Fortunately, the author soon gave up his ‘alpha’ role in relationship to his dog and embraced a gentle way of training Toby! These little essays may take several day to wade through but the cover is worth it!

(Caveats: This title was sent to me by the publisher for review. The review first appeared on GenerationWags.)