Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Caring For Your Older Dog, Savannah's Senior Story

If we use the old mathematical assessment of age where 1 dog year is equivalent to 7 human years then we would define 'geriatric' consistently among the varied breeds of dogs. A small or toy breed dog can live well into their teens, so a geriatric toy breed dog might be twelve. A giant breed dog can be considered geriatric at 5. That's a huge difference! So much for consistency. Because of this there isn't a strict scientific formula for age when it comes to defining dogs as "old."

When our dog's age their bodies change. These changes can affect their ability to function and co-exist with us.

Here is my dog Savannah's growing old challenges.

She is now 17. 

She is a beagle, she is stubborn, she has always been happy, and life has always been on her terms, keys no doubt to longevity. But the years have worn her body down, made her mind foggy, and dulled her senses. I first noticed that she was having some difficulty about four years ago.

One of the first things that I saw was her having difficulty hearing me. I would yell and clap and still she wouldn't recognize that I was calling for her. In the beginning I am sure that I looked like a crazy woman standing a few feet away from her clapping my hands violently and screaming loudly while she just stood there oblivious. Now her hearing has diminished so much that I have to tap her to get her to know where I am. To try not to spook her I will lightly touch her and then clap, or let her sniff my hand, so that she knows who and where I am. Luckily, she is only about 20 pounds so most of the time I just pick her up and carry her to wherever we are going. 

Many older dogs do not hear very well. There have been a few studies to identify why, but overall it seems that the very delicate parts of the ear age and change and this causes a decreased sensitivity to sounds.

Her eyesight has also gotten foggy. Just like so many of us aging and needing to pick up glasses to read at 40, our dogs lenses change too. The lens is dynamic device that lets us change our focus. As the lens gets older it can't change shape as fluidly. So we need glasses to compensate. Our dogs, well, they need glasses and a walking stick.  Dogs have a harder time seeing in low light situations. For this reason keep lights on, be careful heading outside at dusk and dawn, and give them a very well lit path at every step. Lastly, don't leave them outside alone. They have a very difficult time navigating if they can't hear or see well.

For Savannah we made her world much smaller and much safer. I have baby gates blocking doorways so she can't wander outside of the kitchen and living room. If they aren't up she wanders aimlessly through the house until she gets stranded or stuck somewhere, (most often wedged under the kitchen butchers block). Outside she gets clipped to her 20 foot lead in the front yard. We also dress her in a bright orange sweater with a light and a huge reflective strip around the collar. She may not be able to see well, but we see her!

A pet/baby gate to let the puppies have access to the front yard,
but keep Savannah safely inside.
In her younger days she stayed with me wherever I went. As she aged she would try to find me and get lost quickly. One day when we were out gardening I realized that she was no longer with me. I freaked and flipped out. I started yelling for my husband and we started running around the property panicked. Thirty minutes later and 500 feet away from the house I heard a weird unrecognizable chirping sound. It was Savannah in the pond stuck in the mud with her head barely above the water. That was the last time she was allowed outside loose. I keep her little tie out in the front yard and I never leave her unattended.

She has also gotten a bit feeble at her advanced age. She slips on the floors, especially wood and linoleum, and will sink into a sit if she has to stand for too long. She has her best footing in grass. The soft ground and grass are the easiest footing and encouraging outside time has helped to keep her mobile and ambulatory. The big struggle with an aging body is maintaining muscle mass. Savannah was a power packed muscle bound force in her younger years. She used to run anywhere from 3 to 7 miles with me daily. But she had to give up running about 5 years ago. She was unable and unwilling to try to keep up, and was sore the days after. To try to keep as much muscle tone as possible we encourage her to walk with us. She only goes very short distances and we stop if she stops or starts to look over exerted. Inside we keep runner rugs everywhere. Because the wood floors are so treacherous we minimize them in her space. Eating is always on a rug and always under supervision. The younger pups will stare her down and if she walks awake they inhale her food. To avoid this, and allow her ample time to eat, we feed her separately and watch her closely.

Her food is kept interesting, exciting and highly palatable. If she walks away uninterested I will add or supplement snacks, other canned food, or other dry food to keep her eating. I make sure she has an adequate breakfast and dinner daily. Avoid junk food, stick with high quality foods and snacks. (I have a list that I share with my clients, ask your vet for theirs). A word of caution, don't stray too far on the food list. Many older dogs have much more sensitive stomachs, even a little change can be too much for them, and a bout of vomiting or diarrhea can be more difficult and dangerous for them. Savannah has a difficult time eating. Her balance and strength last about 30 seconds, then she collapses into a sit and soon into a laying position. Elevating her food helped her not have to try to maintain her balance in the face of her waning strength.

Some older dogs also suffer from joint disease like osteoarthritis. Ask you vet about your pets joints, how you can identify joint pain, and what to give your pet to help relieve it. I like glucosamine supplements daily and NSAID's are always on hand for the 'tough days."

As our pets age they will need grooming and personal hygiene assistance. For Savannah that includes daily brushing, bi-annual shave downs, more frequent nail trims because she no longer wears them down on her own. I also keep her ears clean and face clean. She requires much more time and attention but she still loves every moment of it.

The Spring shave-down. She loves it!
She has an extra hop in her step after.
Savannah has begun to look and act lost more often. She will pace or circle for hours at times if I let her. I have learned that this is almost always her trying to tell me that she needs something. I have a long internal check list that I reference when she acts unsettled. Sometimes she can't find her bed, sometimes she can't get into it, sometimes she can't find the water bowl, sometimes she needs more food, to go outside, and sometimes she just wants me.

To try to keep her anxiety to a minimum she has a very small, safe, easy to navigate living space. She stays downstairs with me during my at home times, in my office, or in our bedroom at night.

She never has access to stairs. She cannot see them and she would plummet to the bottom without hesitation or forethought. Stairs went two years ago. We carry her up for bed and down first thing in the morning. The other very helpful tip that we have discovered is crating her. At night we put her in the puppies crate and they are allowed with us in bed, (much to my husbands chagrin). She is able to stretch out in a dark, quiet, safe place and she sleeps more soundly than she ever has. I also can hear her if she wakes and needs something.

Here is another tip we have learned. When Savannah gets up from a nap, (naps are a frequent daily activity) we immediately put her out. She has almost no ability to defecate voluntarily. She will often just start defecating without any sign that she knows she has to. I tell my clients that "there is a reason you can buy adult diapers at the pharmacy." For many of us the ability to know that we have to go becomes a challenge. (There's a hard dose of reality). With this thought, never reprimand your dog for becoming "less housebroken" they should never be punished for something they cannot control. Expect that they will not be able to make it outside and help them by going back to basic puppy housebreaking training, without the expectation of it working every time. After every meal she is also put out for about twenty minutes. (Dogs usually defecate within twenty minutes of eating). 

For my older patients I strongly recommend bi-annual (or more often) veterinary visits. We can help you with any of the challenges that aging presents, offer advice, healthy tips, and identify any aging or disease processes early.

Savannah is an old girl, she looks it, she feels it, and she is cared for like it. We have made changes to our home, our lifestyle, and to her care. As she continues to age we will continue to adjust for her. 

As a last note, there are medications available for almost every aging disease and process. Ask your vet about your dogs care, quality of life and try to meet every challenge together.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Life Is All About Second Chances

A very good friend of ours, long time client, and one of the most worldly and devoted pet lovers I have ever met suffered a terrible loss recently. His dear longtime friend lost her battle with old age and the diseases that it often keeps company with.

He, like so many of us, spent tireless hours tending to her every need. He brought her in often to see if there was any new changes to her status and to see if there was anything else we could add to her long list of remedies. He coddled her, comforted her, and spent every second he could with her.

When he came in to say good bye to her we all mourned for both him and his dear departed cat.

We see death too much in the clinic. We sometimes lose our ability to relate to those who are struggling with a loss that cripples their ability to still enjoy the beauty of a sunrise, the life still surrounding us, and the foresight that things will get better. To those of us who center our lives around our pets the loss of our pet is debilitating to the core.

Oddly, I had just lost my dear cat, also named Midnight, when he lost his dear Midnight. They had both lived longer than most cats do, and had both died from kidney disease.

For our friend we wondered how he would fare facing the loss of his cat? We wondered if we would see him back, or if he could find another place in his heart for another cat.

After a few weeks of worrying we received a call from him asking us to keep our eyes open for another black cat. Within a few weeks a little black female came into the clinic looking for a home. We knew that she was the perfect match for him. Very calm, gentle, and affectionate, cuddler. We knew that she was just the answer to his sadness.

After he came in to see her he alerted us all that he would be back for her. He wanted to go home and talk to his wife and get the house ready.

A few days later he returned, carried her home and sent me this email a few days later.
> I thought I would pass along some information about the kitten I adopted formerly named Molly and now named Scout.  My former wife had a nickname of Molly so I stayed away from that.  Scout is the name from a character in "To Kill a Mockingbird" probably my favorite movie of all time.
> Anyway, the kitten is amazing.  When I brought her home, I thought there might be a break in period when she had to get used to me and would be in hiding until she got accustomed to the house, after all she had just met me.
> I was pleasantly surprised when she immediately was all over me purring and licking and rubbing.  When she was tired she would curl up with me and sleep and spent the night sleeping in bed with me.  She is a little skittish with loud noises but not with me.  I am amused that she runs from my wife (but eventually comes out).  She sits on the sink in the bathroom while I shave which was a favorite activity of Midnight.
> I just can't believe the immediate bond we had with each other and that she is providing me with just what I need.  It seems it was meant to happen.
> I thank you again for all you did for Gilda, Midnight, and me.  I am glad that circumstances caused our paths to cross.
> Steve

My Midnight.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Reason To Run.

This morning I got up at 6 am (dreadfully early for my one sleep in day) to go run a 5K for a family that suffered a terrible loss over four years ago.

This family lost their daughter on the night of her bachelorette party. She and her friends were hit by tractor trailer truck that ran a red light. Out of a limousine full of happy celebratory women only Sunshine, the bride to be, was killed. So tragic that I am at a loss for words. How horrible and tragically unfair is that?

Well, in spite of their loss they decided to hold an annual run/walk in her honor.

Today, with my very good friend Kim, we ran the race and remembered our friends who were taken from us too soon.

With Tyler on my mind I ran the fastest race I ever have. Every time I felt tired or slow I thought of my friend Tyler. Gone at 21 years old, and I smiled for the day I had, the strength in my legs, the sun in my face, and the ability to feel all of the yearning to stop and the discomfort in my running body.

In the end he carried me, inspired me, and got me through 5 kilometers in a record time..

For all of us who have lost someone it is their memory that carries us and guides us through the hard times.

In Sunshine's memory;

In Tyler's memory;

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I Don't Want My Cat Because...... Dental Disease in Cats

This is Simba.

He is an eight year old sweetheart. He is timid, gentle, and loving.

He has spent his whole life in the home he grew up in. But the last few weeks he was not eating well, and sometimes not at all. Rather than take him to the vet for an examination, diagnosis and treatment plan, his family just decided that they didn't want him anymore.

Unfortunately, stories like this really happen, and this is Simba's real story.

When the rescue organization that we work with brought Simba in I immediately noticed that his face and mouth were swollen. When I approached him I also noticed a foul rotten smell.

The first thing that I did was look in his mouth. This is what I saw.

Simba's teeth were so diseased that he could no longer eat.

The black is plaque, bacteria, and as it accumulates on the teeth the gums recede and the teeth become shallow and unstable. The gums are red due to inflammation and chronic infection. This is a very sore, very painful, very diseased mouth.

Simba got his much needed and very overdue dental within a day. Almost all of the teeth on the left side of his mouth had to be removed. They were too compromised and infected to salvage. But without those sick teeth his gums can now heal and his mouth won't hurt anymore.

People always ask me "How will they eat after you take out their teeth?"

"Well, those teeth weren't healthy, they weren't anchored in the mouth, they can't chew, or function, so your pet will be happy without them. I have removed all of the teeth from many cats, and many, many teeth from many, many dogs, and those pets and their parents always come back to me to tell me that their pets never have any food issues." Certainly for the first few days after oral surgery I recommend softening the dry food with water and letting it sit for a few minutes, or feeding wet food.

The day after his dental he was eating like he had never seen food before.

Simba is now looking for a new home, and hopefully a home that will forgive him if he needs healthcare help in the future.

If your cat is reluctant to eat, spilling food out of their mouth, seems painful when they are eating, or has a foul odor coming please bring them to your veterinarian for a dental examination and/or dental cleaning.

It is widely publicized that dental disease is the most common and most overlooked disease of pets.

Dogs and cats benefit greatly from daily brushing. This isn't difficult or hard to do. I have lots of tricks that I share with my clients at every examination. Ask your vet for pointers on keeping your pets mouth healthy for a lifetime.

If you are interested in learning more about dental disease in cats please ask me at Pawbly.com.

Or call me at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet, in Jarrettsville, MD. I can also be reached on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

Related posts;

How Much Does the Average Cat Dental Cost?

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Tip Of The Iceberg. The Unexpected Dental Dilemma

I am biased. 

Really, who among us isn't?

I will be the first person to throw my hand in the air and burst out "Routine veterinary is paramount to the overall health of your pet!" I could, would, and just might start  screaming this from the front door of my clinic. For those of you out there that already share this opinion with me, I say a big, wholehearted "Thank-You!," for the rest of you I will try as hard as I can to provide you case after case of pets whose lives were improved by visiting their vet.

Today's case is about Melissa. She is a happy effervescent 12 year old spayed Labrador Retriever. She is the beloved pet of two very doting clients that I respect and adore. They love Melissa and care for her better than anyone else I know. 

When Melissa came in for her routine annual physical examination I mentioned to them that she had two very loose incisors. Incisors are the small front teeth. They have a single root and are easily extracted. I see many dogs who have gum disease and recession that causes the tooth root to become shallow in the socket. A tooth with a poor socket is a tooth that has a harder and harder time holding onto the mouth. As the roots become more shallow the tooth will loosen. Think of trying to put a fence post in a few inches of ground. Your fence will be much sturdier if that fence post has a deep hole and cement.

When Melissa came to visit me she had her routine normal lipomas (benign fatty tumors) just where they had always been, and a few small teeth that were loose. Because Melissa is older and so loved by her parents we had a long honest discussion about what to do with her recent exam findings.

Melissa had one large mass that was about 8 inches in diameter and firm at the base of her right hip. The mass was where it had always been but over the last few months it had gotten harder. I was fairly certain that it was still a lipoma but I was not happy that it had changed its consistency from soft and fluctuant to hard and firm. I was also very concerned about the loose teeth and the gum recession that was about to expose the bone that holds her teeth into her mouth.

If there is enough gum recession, or loss, the bacteria in the mouth (there is a TON of bacteria in the mouth) has an open portal to the sinus cavities and the blood stream.

Dental disease is the most common disease in pets. It is the most over looked ailment and least treated disease among all pets.

Can you imagine eating with loose teeth, OR, never, (rarely at best in most cases) brushing your teeth?

Routine dental cleanings are recommended by most veterinary dental professionals. A dental cleaning requires general anesthesia, scaling, cleaning, and polishing. The cleaning should also include a full oral cavity examination to include probing all teeth to look for pockets, root exposure, dental radiographs. These are the same standards for people. In general the smaller dogs tend to need earlier and more frequent dental cleanings, and the larger breeds less often. But they all need daily brushing.

In Melissa’s case her family brushed her teeth at least once a week. I applauded them for recognizing that she needed and benefited from brushing but reminded them that studies show that pets benefit from brushing if they receive it more than 4 times a week.

At the conclusion of Melissa’s examination we decided that she was doing so well, appeared to be very healthy, and that she needed to have her dental disease addressed while all of the odds seemed to be in her favor. They wanted to clean her teeth, remove the loose incisors and the lipoma. I agreed and told them that I expected all of this should only take me about a half an hour.

After her full blood work panel came back normal we started her on prophylactic antibiotics and scheduled her for surgery and dental work a few days later.

Melissa arrived tail wagging and excited for the change in routine. Everything was going routinely until we had her under anesthesia and were able to examine her mouth completely.

Turned out that those two tiny loose incisors were the tip of her terribly diseased dental iceberg.

An hour and a half later we had removed 10 of her teeth. Some of the roots were so diseased that they were like cream cheese to extract.

I called Melissa’s parents and broke the news to them.

Melissa was a lucky girl. She did very well through her surgery, (we took many extra precautions to insure this like i.v. fluids, careful monitoring, pre-op planning, etc), and she has pro-active parents, and now a clean, disease free, mouth.

This tooth has gum loss that goes all the way up to the lip tissue.
The brown  colored  tooth root is covered in bacteria.

This tooth has root exposure that allows the bifurcation to be seen. 

A bowl full of  bad teeth.
My lesson learned. I know advise for routine dental cleanings so that we can avoid any icebergs.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Buster, The Apple of His Mom's Eye. Correcting His Cherry Eye

Buster came to visit yesterday because his mom woke up and saw that overnight he had developed a "cherry eye." Being the devoted mom that she is she immediately drove him to the clinic for an evaluation.

Buster is a 1-1/2 year old chihuahua. He is active, happy, and has an underbite that can deliver a smile to make anyone laugh. He is the perfect candidate for cherry eye. He is the right breed, the right age, and the right size. Lucky for his mom! Cherry eye is diagnosed based on a physical examination. He was started on an anti-inflammatory to help relieve the swelling and scheduled for surgery with me today.

"Cherry eye" is the slang term given to the condition of the prolapse of the third eyelid. An ophthalmologist would call it "a prolapse of the nictating membrane." It occurs most commonly in young toy or brachycephalic breeds. When the gland prolapses a pink fleshy round mass will protrude out of the inside corner of the eye.

Cherry eye is the most common problem associated with the third eyelid. It is also one of the most common problems seen associated with the eye. It is most often seen affecting one eye, but in most cases it will affect both eyes.

It can occur without any sign of trauma, infection or disease. It can prolapse and then fall back into place and prolapse again. In general, once it prolapses it is very unlikely to return and stay back in its place. The gland prolapses because the tissue that anchors the gland. 

A prolapsed gland can affect the eye by not producing enough tears, by irritating the cornea, and by causing excessive discharge from the eye.

The treatment for a prolapse is to surgically replace the gland into it's correct position. Because the gland plays a vitally important role in tear production it should not be removed. Dogs with a prolapsed third eyelid gland are at an increased risk of developing dry eye, also called KCS. This is yet another reason to not excise the gland.

The most popular way to replace the gland is with a pocket  technique. The surgery should be performed by a veterinarian, or veterinary ophthalmologist who is comfortable with this surgery.

Even in the most skilled hands a replaced gland can re-prolapse. If the gland re-prolapses it should be replaced surgically as soon as possible.

Surgery to replace the prolapsed gland.

Waking up from surgery.

His surgery went very well. He woke up quickly and headed home with his mom.

I will check him in a few days, and we will keep our fingers crossed that the other side doesn't pop out over night.
At home tonight.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Savannah's Story, Part 1

As the summer festivities approach I thought I would share my own personal story as to why you need to be so careful in not to overfeed, over overfeed the wrong foods.

In order to accurately portray the magnitude of the severity of this story I need to first introduce you to my dog Savannah. She was adopted by us in the fall of 1996. We had just adopted Ambrose, who my sister had rescued off of the streets of NYC 2 months ago with a compound fracture to his right femur. He was about 6 months old.  He needed a friend and we were looking to adopt another dog. As we were walking into my favorite coffee shop I saw a picture of a small beagle mix puppy that needed a home. We called the number on the flyer right away and after a coffee and a quick conversation we headed the three blocks away to a small apartment on the outskirts of campus. Savannah was tied to a small post in their tiny back yard. 

She must have weighed about 4 pounds and she was irresistible. The other thing that really struck me about my first meeting with her is that she was almost expressionless, like she had been tied out for so long that she had given up being excited about the chance to meet a new person. The college student who had adopted her wasn’t allowed to have a dog and was quickly busted by her landlord for having her. I took her home immediately.

She, (the college student) swears she saw the mom and dad, is a black lab and husky mix. I don’t know who that girl saw at that house but Savannah is a beagle. She looks like a beagle. She walks like a beagle, quacks like a beagle, sniffs like a beagle, well, you know the rest. She also has the belly and nose of a beagle. She lives for food and affection, and in that order. I compare her demeanor to my pet pigs’; I know that she is ready to leave this earth when she no longer begs for food.

She is my constant companion. She follows me with unfailing loyalty and is a very obedient, a little bit snobby, aloof girl. She always listens to my commands and she is never a trouble or a worry. She is a thousand times easier than those rambunctious puppies I always write about. But the obsession with food, god, you have to keep an eye on her about that. She will take any opportunity she can to steal food. She is so short and old that the only score she ever gets a chance at is the cats food. She is a sleuth at sneaking cat food.  I have to watch her like a hawk and really I should investigate gifting her an ankle bracelet for warnings of entrance into our cat room.

Savannah’s obsession came to full fruition when we had our annual 4th of July party. Ambrose (our other dog) had just come home from surgery to remove his spleen and take a kidney biopsy because in the preparation for chemotherapy we had found three “areas of concern” in his belly. Four days later we had about 60 of our friends over to our house to eat a full bar-b-que and pretzel bar. By the end of the 6 hour soiree Savannah had made the rounds at least twice to every guest. Her patient, charismatic determined charm had gotten her about 3 pounds of Italian sausages as hand-outs.  Worse yet, I truly had no idea that she had done so much begging and I had no idea my guests, (who all know full well that I am a veterinarian) had given in to her pleadings so readily. I realized the gravity of my short sightedness the next day when she walked away from her food bowl. Two days later she wasn’t getting out of her bed. Now I am a very fastidious observant doting mom and I did see all of her clinical signs and I was alarmed by them. But, I was also watching my 16 year old diabetic die of chronic disease that I should have been able to cure. I was beating myself to an emotional raw pulp and still my cat was dying, and I was coordinating radiation for Ambrose. As day three was starting the clinic was calling me to tell me that my kitty was looking “really really bad and needed to be put down.” With tears streaming down my face I drove to the clinic. When I arrived I much too emotionally sat next to my cat and racked my brain as to any answer that might be the miracle to save his life. I also asked my technicians to run some blood on Savannah.  Forty-five minutes later I huddled in full blow out hysterics over my kitty as my technician meekly called my name. I knew the minute I saw her face that my bad day was getting much worse.

Savannah’s blood work was disastrous. Simply, disastrous. It was one of those moments where the world drives you to your knees you throw your head back, expose your jugular and wait willingly for the ax to fall. 

That day I put my beloved orange tabby who had struggled with diabetes for over 6 years down. I sat in the treatment area and pushed that pink syringe into my cats arm and just sobbed. I, to this day, feel so guilty about him that I still have not completely forgiven myself. When he lay his head down for the last time I had to turn my focus on Savannah. It took every ounce of my failing strength to see her clearly and be able to stay upright in my own hospital.

Savannah’s blood work was so terrible that I didn’t believe it. I had every other vet in the clinic look at it. As each of them did, they all looked at the paper, looked at me, and just shook their head. I sent it to my friends at the vet school, I had the lab re-check it, and had it reviewed by a pathologist. It was the equivalent of losing a card game and asking for “best two out of three.” In Savannah’s case her verdict was unanimous. She had 100% agreement that her numbers were “not compatible with life.”

In typical Italian fashion I jumped in and immediately decided that I was not giving into her terrible odds. It took 3 months to get her blood back to normal. She was on i.v. fluids for three weeks. She also received two plasma transfusions.

Savannah had pancreatitis. The severity was undeniably severe, and it was impacting her liver so significantly that there was a very strong possibility that her liver might not survive.

We set up a portable i.v. hospital in our bedroom, and we went from the hospital during the day to the bedroom at night. For three weeks I did not sleep. I willed that dog of mine to live and I know that if she was anyone else’s it would have been very hard to honestly try to persuade them to keep treating. Her cost of care would have been well in the thousands of dollars. It was a bleak picture for a long time.

I have learned that the old adage of “where there is a will there is a way” holds in veterinary medicine. 

When your profession has such a limited ability to provide optimal diagnostics and treatment options for so many conditions it helps to be stubborn and determined, as long as your own will isn’t costing your pet the ability to stop suffering.

Savannah is in the last chapter of her life. She is officially a geriatric patient. Without intending to hurt her feelings, I would classify her as “in hospice care.” I hope she is here for a long time still. She is an old stubborn determined girl, just like her mom.

More blogs of her and her journey to follow.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Problematic Peeing Puppy, Is It Behavioral Or Medical?

Today's Pawbly question..

I have an unneutered 7 month old aussie-poo mix who wont quit peeing and spraying every where. The last week he has hiked his leg on people's faces, legs, my tv, and all over my walls. We take him outside every hour, but nothing works. He just does it even worse outside. I have run out of ideas for what to do that might actually work. Any advice?
Barks and Blooms replied;
Hi Christie--An Aussie-Poo! What's his name?
My first thought is neutering help with this issue.
It sounds like it may be more of a territorial behavior rather than a potty training issue.
Here is a great article with information on why this is happening and what to do about it. It suggests neutering an intact male to reduce the spraying, but also offers solutions if you choose not to neuter. Please let us know how he progresses!
Barks and Blooms gave great advice! Many Thanks to them for helping Christie,
I added a few thoughts just from the DVM point of view, 
Hello!! Everyone!!
Certainly in a 7 mo old puppy I would ask your vet about neutering. Lots of boys like to "mark their territory" with urine, BUT, the other concern is a urinary tract infection. It is not as common in younger puppies but it is a possibility, and the longer you wait to treat a urinary infection the more difficult it can be. Also, an untreated urinary tract infection can lead to a kidney infection which is VERY VERY bad.
The ASPCA has a wonderful blog on spaying and neutering, it is included below. It can help you talk about and think about neutering. If your puppy is marking then neutering ASAP is the best way to curb the unwanted behavior.
There are some pee pad diapers available commercially, but if your goal is to stop the peeing then you need to identify and treat the underlying cause. Pee collection diapers just help collect all of the pee, and that means changing a lot of diapers.
If you need any help discussing any of these I would be happy to help.

We are all so excited to be able to provide a platform for so many viewpoints and we hope to be able to provide lots of resources for people and their pets world wide!
Here is why I recommend spaying and neutering;
Many new pet parents wonder about spaying and neutering. It is one of the most common questions I am asked at a new puppy and kitten examination.

At every new puppy/kitten exam I discuss the timeline for care of their new addition.

In general puppies and kittens visit the veterinarian every three weeks between 8 and 16 weeks. At six months old we recommend spaying and neutering.

Here are some of the reasons why we recommend spaying and neutering.
In case you aren’t familiar with the terms, spay a female, neuter a male.

Spaying is removal of the female reproductive organs. This is usually the removal of the uterus and ovaries via an abdominal incision.

Spaying a female before their first heat cycle will significantly reduce their chances of ever having mammary (breast) cancer. (It is reduced to almost zero). Mammary tumors affect both dogs and cats but is often aggressive and life-threatening in cats. If you ever feel bumps or abnormal tissue around your pets nipples please see a veterinarian.

Spaying will help your pet live longer.

Spaying will help your cat be a better pet. An unspayed cat will go into heat, usually for 4-5 days about every three weeks, during breeding season. When they do they often call loudly, usually at all hours of the day and night, and act erratically. Some will even spray urine to attract a male. This is very annoying and drives some pet parents a little crazy.

Spaying your pet will help prevent pet over population. There are millions of unwanted pets who cannot find a home. By spaying your pet you will be helping prevent another unwanted pet from being the victim of a society that euthanizes unwanted or un-owned pets.
Your pet does not benefit from having a litter, neither does allowing your pet to have a litter help your family understand responsibility or biology. A pet that is allowed to have a litter is allowing a nation of over populated pets to be burdened further. Teaching responsibility starts with teaching to be kind and compassionate. Do you know where those babies will go? Can you afford to care for all of them in case you cannot find a forever loving home for them?

Not spaying your pet can lead to the additional expenses. This includes veterinary care, vaccinations, de-worming and spaying and neutering if you cannot find them a home.

Neutering is the removal of the testes from the scrotum.

Neutering removes the chance of testicular cancer and significantly reduces the chance of prostate problems in dogs.

Neutering also reduces the roaming of your dog. They will not be driven to stray to find a mate and it will help keep your pet safely in your yard or home. Unfortunately, many dogs are involved in traffic accidents or hit by a car because they are driven to roam to find a female in heat.

Behavior issues may be curbed or avoided by neutering. Aggressiveness and marking with urine are more common in intact males. If you wanted a pet to be your companion then it is in both your and their best interest to spay and neuter.

An unneutered cat will often mark or spray your home and your belongings. The urine is very strong smelling and can be difficult to remove. Neutering your cat before 7 months old will help prevent this behavior from being displayed. If your cat starts to spray see your veterinarian and have him neutered as soon as possible to try to stop this.

Spaying and neutering requires veterinary assistance. There are affordable, low cost spay and neuter clinics available in almost all cities in the U.S. The anesthetics and procedure are routine and very safe. Anesthesia has inherent risk but there are many ways to diminish the risks to your pet. Ask your veterinarian for information and recommendations about these surgeries.

If you decided a pet was something you wanted to share your life with then you decided to have a pet for the love and happiness they bring. By spaying and neutering you are helping to prevent disease, provide a safer home, save other pets from pet overpopulation and provide for a happier longer life with your pet.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Update on Maryland Votes for Animals April 2013

Legislative Update AND Invitation!

Dear Krista,

Thank you for helping MVFA make animal protection a priority in the 2013 session of the Maryland General Assembly!  For three intense months, Maryland Votes For Animals worked tirelessly with legislators to make sure Maryland passed two life-saving animal protection bills:
  1. Statewide Spay/Neuter Fund to save thousands of homeless animals – PASSED!
  2. Molly’s Law to protect “bait dogs” and help stop dog-fighting – PASSED!

Join us to Celebrate!  Click HERE to celebrate our win, meet the humane legislators who helped achieve these victories, and participate in our Humane Champion Award ceremony:

Speaker of the House, Michael Busch
Senator Joanne Benson
Senator James Rosapepe
Delegate Barbara Frush
Delegate Shane Robinson
and more, including members of the spay/neuter task force

Our legislative champions work very hard on behalf of animals. JOIN US to say a heartfelt thank you to those legislators who made it happen.
When: June 1, 2013
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Where: The Wild Orchid CafĂ©
200 Westgate Circle, #104
Annapolis, MD 21401
What: Delicious animal-friendly appetizers will be served.
Price: $30/person.

Click Here to Come Celebrate!  Space is limited, so buy your ticket TODAY!

While breed neutral legislation did not pass due to lack of consensus between House and Senate versions, MVFA is determined to press on until we find a resolution.  We are working on a new offensive to tackle the storm surrounding this critical issue for pit bulls and their owners, please stay tuned for additional information and action alerts.

In closing, as a long-time observer of the MGA, who knows how far we’ve come, I am hopeful for the future and confident we will look back at 2013 as the year the tide turned for Maryland’s animals. THANK YOU for being a crucial part of this positive change!

Sincerely, Carolyn and the Board of Directors: Valerie, Kim, Joe, Frank, Harriett and David

PS - If you can’t attend but would like to donate, click HERE

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Maryland Votes For Animals - Kimberly Jackson, Treasurer

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The Bad Dog Shame List

Just for laughs!

Thanks to my exceptional receptionist Ang for forwarding these to me!

Here's my messiest critter, Magpie, ooh, she loves to make a mess!

Magpie the toilet paper terrorist!