Dog Attacks - When your Dog is on Leash and the Attacker is Off
One of the scariest situations to be in where dogs are concerned is having a large breed dog barreling down the street aiming right for your dog who is innocently walking along side you on leash. Yikes! Now what do you do? You have to act quick but what should one do first to protect your dog and yourself.
Here is a guide to get you through this awful situation. There is not one way - fixes it all answer so use this information and apply it to your situation as best you can. If you are not clear on what to try - call my office. We have guided many clients through this and as a service to public health and safety I extend this offer to you. I myself have been in this situation and it is really scary.
1. Know your neighborhood. If you have a dog nearby who is constantly running the fence barking, lunging, jumping up or on the fence that dog is really out to get yours. The gate may be open one day, or the dog may get enough gumption to jump or scale the fence. Too many backyard fences are too short to hold a dog in. I have seen many dogs scale a 6 foot privacy fence. Avoid at all costs walking past this yard. Go different routes. Don't tempt fate. If that is not possible - tell the neighbor that you need them to keep their dog up at the times you are walking your dog. Speak up for what you and your dog need to be safe. This dog is also not having fun - it is aggressing because it does not want this dog around. Happy dogs don't do this!!!
2. For loose dogs - get a bush, parked car, garbage can or some way to be out of the sight of the off leash dog. Move quickly without running! Running will entice the loose dog to chase. If the dog starts heading to you stomp your foot harshly, yell in a deep gruff voice "Go" and holler "Get your dog inside!!!!!!!!!" Make a ruckus to get others out to help and call the dog away. After you have your dog home call the animal control and make a formal complaint if this dog is chronically off leash. All communities have leash laws. They are for public safety. Follow up and be something has been done. It may be the one time this has happened and a remorseful, apologetic owner will be more watchful of their dog. If the owner does not seem to care, make them be responsible to their pet and to the laws.
3. Use a protective tool. This is something that will protect you from a dog lunging and biting at your or your dog if you know the owner of the problem dog is not going to do anything and the law cannot extend enforcement completely. Spray Shield by Premier is a compressed water/citronella spray that will shoot out and confuse an attacking dog giving you time to get away and be safe. You can order this online. Baseball bats or big sticks are not safe or as effective. When you hit the attacking dog, they will likely redirect the aggression on you due to the pain. Or if you drop the stick or hit your own dog, the other dog will be more confident and attack more. An umbrella that you can quickly snap open and use a shield is also very effective. You don't want to hit the dog - use it as a shield.
4. Do not turn your back on this dog. Walk backwards to get away. If you turn away from the dog, many use this as an opportunity to attack.
5. Always wear solid shoes when walking your dog!!!! I have seen many more injuries to people and their dogs in these situations because they were wearing flip flops that slipped off, or were tripped over. Sneakers, boots, or other solid shoes only when walking dogs.
6. Your dog on a chain and dogs loose - Do not ever leave your dog alone in the yard on a stake out chain. Loose dogs can and will come up and intimidate or attack these dogs. To the loose dog, these dogs are in the loose dog's territory and the chained dog cannot defend or escape. Stay out there and have a garden hose handy to spray off any intruders.
Even if a loose dog does not threaten you, it can still be a dangerous situation for others. Report this and be responsible to yourself, and the safety of others. A dog may be fine around it's owner, but when the owner steps inside it is a different story. I have personally seen many severe dog attacks that were from problem roaming dogs that were not repeatedly reported to put the pressure on the owner to be responsible. Sometimes being the nag is what is needed to make the situation better.
If you do have a caring neighbor with a dog that is aggressing - seek help for this situation from a veterinarian or certified trainer who has experience working with these dogs. Some attacker dogs can learn to be better, and safety can be set up. The "cure" depends on the owners, dogs and environment involved. Please see my website, blog and YouTube videos for behavior help or schedule a consult.
I also want to extend my sympathy for all the people and families that have had pets attacked, maimed and killed by free roaming dogs. This tragedy is not only horrible for the pet that died, but also for the family and the community.
What is an essential oil? An essential oil is the concentrated form of a plant chemical that has the “essence” – the scent of that plant. This chemical can also have helpful healing or calming properties in addition to holding scent. The chemical extracted from the plant is so strong that must be mixed with another oil to be useful. Blends of essential oils are made to provide a mixture and balance of the benefits of different plant essential oils.
The actual chemical from the plant is called a phenol or phenolic compound. This refers to the chemical structure – it is similar to oil and mixes well with oil. It is important to understand this when considering using essential oils in animals. Cats, for example, do not metabolize phenol compounds well due to the structure of the cat’s liver. One must be extremely careful with use of essential oils around cats or you may cause them to have severe liver disease. Some products such as Limonene should not be used around cats at all. The carrier oil, or inert oil can also be a problem. When I looked at a recent reference for the various carrier oils, macadamia oil was on the list. Macadamia nuts are extremely toxic to pets, so a dog or cat licking your hand after applying that oil could become ill. If you applied a product like this to your pet’s skin it could also be a problem.
Many of the essential oils are used in a plug in type diffuser. Some are massaged onto the body, and I have also read where people are taking drops orally. Please understand that the absorption of these products the most intense orally, moderate by skin, then least by inhalation. Where veterinarians see problems is where pets may be licking people who have applied the oil to themselves – oral ingestion. Pets walking through a product that has spilled, or is left out is also a common way for pets to get into trouble. A diffuser that is near a pet sleeping area that is on all day would also have a more intense exposure that if in another room. Be sure to tell your veterinarian if you are using any of these product in your home with details of where they are.
Natural does not always mean safe. There are now natural flea repellents with Cinnamon oil, citronella Oil or Pennyroyal oil in collars and spot on drops. These products can be irritating and very harmful. In household sprays they can be safe if the area is dry after use. There are far safer flea products that are also more effective to use. Call a veterinarian’s office and discuss with them what is best for your pet.
The essential oil industry is not regulated like other pesticides and drug products. There is a great variability in the concentration and source of essential oil products. There are 2 leading companies that do have 3rd party quality control check on their products so they would be the best to use. There are also veterinary essential oils that have been diluted and formulated for veterinary use. If you are interested in using essential oils for your pet’s benefit talk to your veterinarian about this. If your veterinarian is not aware of these products – it is a new field - ask who practices integrative medicine in your area and speak to them. There have been many pets poisoned by well intentioned owners using essential oils on pets. A call to the veterinary clinic before would have saved a lot of heartache.
As a behaviorist, I found the studies in using Lavender and Chamomile for stress reduction most interesting. When diffused these products did reduce barking and pacing in rescue dogs in shelters. I have not seen any feline studies to date. I know of some rescue transfer people using them in the car and the dogs having a relatively easy time with travel. I have not seen these products work well in the collars that are sold, but the home diffusers are showing promise. Also, a study showed Rosemary and Peppermint to make the dogs bark more! It is theorized that Rosemary and Peppermint are invigorating – boost up the mind – so this may have made the dogs more aware of their surrounding and barking more. I have seen Rosemary in some of the pet products so I would avoid them for stress relief.
There is a place for essential oils in veterinary medicine and pet care. The proper product, at the correct concentration and form is the key to safety for pets. Please partner with your veterinarian when considering these products to pick what would best suit your best friend.
Spring is getting off to a slow start, so who would think about fleas, heartworm or ticks now? These short spurts of warm weather actually get these little bugs ready to hatch out with a vengeance. Be prepared and prevent health problems by choosing the right product for your dog or cat according to your pet's lifestyle.
Heartworm disease is spread by the bite of a mosquito. Mosquitoes can start hatching out and biting when the average day time temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. What this means is that on these March days when the temperature rises to 45 or 50 degrees, the mosquitoes will swarm and bite. They go dormant for the night when the temperatures fall but will not die off unless there are a few days well below 32 degrees. Monthly heartworm preventatives are a safe and effective way to prevent this deadly disease. Monitoring your dog for heartworm is important to be sure they are getting the proper dose of prevention every month. There is also a resistant strain of heartworm that is reaching Illinois so we want to be sure the product your pet is on is working. There are now many different heartworm preventatives that also protect from intestinal worms and even fleas. These medications have different price points, so talk to your veterinarian about what is best for your pet and your budget.
Cats also get heartworm disease. The testing for heartworm is not as reliable as in the dog, and prevention for them is also important. Revolution is a topical product that is recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners for all cats to prevent heartworm disease. In addition to preventing heartworm, Revolution also kills fleas, ticks and intestinal worms. Revolution is safe and easy to use on cats.
Ticks begin to emerge in early spring here in central Illinois. Ticks carry some pretty nasty diseases such as Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis and of course Lyme's disease. Many of the flea and tick products sold over the counter can be toxic to small dogs and especially cats due to the high concentration of the older pesticides that are needed to kill these pests. Your veterinarian can prescribe much safer and more effective topical and even oral medications to kill and prevent fleas and ticks. Using repellents such as Avon Skin So Soft is helpful to keep ticks off when you go on hikes or even after time in your yard.
If you have to remove a tick, use alcohol and tweezers. Some of the extension offices can test the tick to see if any of the diseases are carried by them.
Fleas - yep, they are still around. Many people have fleas living in the home over the winter because they carried them in over the fall. For a lot of pet owners a year round flea program is best. A flea comb is a good investment to check your pet over regularly. You can find these at a pet store. Remember 1 flea can lay up to 100 eggs a day which a month later hatch out. The house treatment sprays must contain a growth inhibitor (precor) to be effective. Most of the over the counter house treatment sprays do not carry this, but the Siphotrol is one available at most veterinarians that does contain the growth inhibitor. Treat all surfaces your pet comes into contact with, and repeat 2 weeks later.
Stay ahead of the bugs and have your dog tested and back on heartworm prevention if you stopped at all. Be sure you have your flea and tick products handy as well. Lastly, check with your veterinarian on the products you use or ask what is best for your pet. This will prevent accidentally toxic problems in your pet.
Imagine you are walking in a parking lot this summer and pass a car with a dog inside. The windows are cracked, but the dog is panting and seems upset. What do you do?
Write down the make and model of the car along with the license plate number. Go into the nearby businesses and ask if anyone is driving this vehicle. If you find the owner, let them know that their pet needs help. Find some water from a sink, water fountain or pop machine for the dog to drink. You can also pour some water on the dog to help him or her cool down. If the dog can't stand, is panting heavily or acting disoriented, have the owner take the dog to the vet immediately. You may feel like yelling at the owner, but that won't help the dog. Let the owner know how dangerous it is to leave a dog inside a vehicle on warm days.
If you can't find the owner, or if the owner doesn't check on their dog, call the local animal control or police department. They will be able to remove the dog from the vehicle. If the owner comes while you are there, let them know how concerned you were about their dog and how dangerous it is to leave their dog in the car.
Cracking the windows of a car doesn't provide enough air circulation to keep the inside car from heating up. On an 85 degree day, the inside of a car can reach 102 degrees in only 10 minutes; and can reach 120 degrees in 30 minutes. Even on cooler days, the inside of a car can be as much as 20 degrees warmer. When you leave your dog in a car during warm weather, you risk your pet becoming overheated or getting heat stroke.
Symptoms of overheating or heat stroke include: drooling, foaming at the mouth, panting, wobbly head, having trouble standing, acting disoriented, and pink or red skin and gums. If you see a dog with these symptoms, immediately wet the dog down with cool or room temperature water. Using cold or ice water can prevent cooling. Pets cool down by blood flowing along the skin. The cold temperature of the ice causes blood vessels to constrict. These constricted vessels won't allow blood to flow along the skin, so the pet can't cool down. If this is your dog, call your vet and bring the dog into their office. If this isn't your dog, try to locate the owner. If you can't find the owner, call animal control or the police. Older or younger dogs and dogs with short muzzles (pugs, boxers, Boston Terriers, etc.) overheat much quicker than other dogs.
Share this information with your friends and neighbors to help keep pets safe this summer. Check out this Hot Car Flier from Humane Society of the United States. You can purchase the flier or print them off and give them to people. Also check out Dr. Foote's article Myth Busting Heat Stress in Petsfor more information about keeping your pet safe this summer.