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Don't Yank Your Dog's Chain

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Q: “My dog frequently tugs at the leash when we walk

Q: “My dog frequently tugs at the leash when we walk. Sometimes he coughs when he pulls too hard. Is this harming him?”

A: There is a definite potential harm if your dog establishes a habit of tugging, just as there is danger for trauma if an owner yanks on a dog’s collar to train or discipline. The best solution is to work with your dog to teach him to heel. This will reduce any chance of trauma to the throat or the neck. For dogs that tend to pull, you may use a gentle leader or a promise collar, which goes around the dog’s muzzle and pulls from the front of the head under the chin.

Harnesses fit around the chest area of the dog and are very useful under certain circumstances. There are numerous breeds, such as toy or miniature poodles and Yorkshire terriers, that tend to have sensitive tracheas, which may be damaged by excessive pulling. Dachshunds also have sensitive backs. These dogs may benefit from harnesses as opposed to collars.

If, by chance, the dog does pull and there is coughing or sensitivity in the neck, I recommend Arnica in a 1M potency to be given every four to six hours for one to two days. This will reduce swelling and bruising.

Good Natural Pet Care Books
Q: “What are some books I can read to learn more about natural pet care?”

A: There are a number of good books available. One of my favourites is Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health of Dogs and Cats by Dr. Richard Pitcairn (Rodale Press, 1995), which deals with all aspects of health from diet to treatments in both homeopathic and herbal medicine. I feel it should be on every pet owner’s shelf as an excellent reference.

Other books are Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr. Ian Billinghurst (Direct Book Service, 2000), which is a good book on nutrition. Veterinarian’s Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs: Safe and Effective Alternative Treatments and Healing Techniques From the Nation’s Top Holistic Veterinarians and Veterinarian’s Guide to Natural Remedies for Cats: Safe and Effective Alternative Treatments and Healing Techniques from the Nation’s Top Holistic Veterinarians by Martin Zucker (both Three Rivers Press, 2000) are two other excellent books.

Poor Infected Paw
“I have a two-year-old dog who has had repeated surgery on her paw for an infection. The vet says that bacteria get into the paw from cuts or punctures. Even after a few courses of antibiotics, the problem continues. What should I do?”

A: It sounds like there are two things going on here. The underlying problem may be an allergy to a foreign substance affecting that area of the paw, while the bacteria are the secondary problem. These infections can be quite frustrating because there may be periods of improvement during antibiotic therapy, but eventually, when the drugs are halted, the infection recurs.

I would approach situations like these in two ways. First, make sure your dog’s nutrition is good and supplement with a high quality multivitamin. Soaking the paw in Epsom salts and warm water tends to help alleviate any swelling and pain. Second, treat her with Silica 6C twice a day until there is any improvement in her condition, at which time decrease the treatment to once daily then discontinue. If there is no change in the first seven days, try Hepar sulfuris 6C in the same way. Both these remedies tend to aid in the elimination of an embedded foreign substance or an infection.

Do You Have a Question?
Address your letters to The Pet Vet, 7432 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5J 5B9.

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