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The Problem with Pit Bull Propaganda


Recently, two children were killed by family Pit Bulls, and the mother of these children was seriously mauled while trying to protect her children. ( This case is causing many to question the safety of Pit Bulls, and is clashing with the propaganda for Pit Bulls that portrays these dogs as safe cuddle-bugs, perfect for every single household in America.

Pit Bull propaganda has been on the rise in the past 10 years and has purposefully created the misconception that Pit Bulls are no different than other dog breeds. Pit Bull advocates would have you believe that a dog’s breeding and genetics play absolutely NO role in how they turn out, it is all about how the dog is raised and treated, and that any and all aggressive behaviors are the result of improper rearing and handling of the dog ( Even more disturbingly, some try to deny what Pit Bulls were originally bred to do. This misinformation is irresponsible and dangerous, as now thousands of ignorant people own Pit Bulls and are completely unaware that they are indeed different from your average dog, until said dog acts aggressively without any provocation.

Recently, I watched a video by “The Dodo” about Pit Bulls ( In this video, the first point that is made is that Pits are no more aggressive than other dogs. This is a blatant lie. I have never seen people try to deny the instincts of other breeds. No one tries to say that Rottweilers and Irish Setters have the same temperament when raised the same. No one goes and buys a French Bulldog and tries to train it to herd. No one buys a Saluki and expects it to point at game like a Pointer. No one tries to make the argument that all dogs are inherently the same, except for Pit Bull advocates.

It is important that other dog lovers make the point that Pits are not like other dogs, as the lies being spread about them are leading people to adopt and buy Pit Bulls under the guise that they are no different from Labradors and Golden Retrievers. In this article, we will look at some of the misconceptions about Pit Bulls, and we will also look at what makes Pit Bulls different from other dogs.

Pit Bull Origins:

The ancestors of the Pit Bull were bull baiting dogs. This bull baiting history is where these dogs obtained their desire to bite and hold (Dog: The Definitive Guide for Dog Owners). When bull baiting became illegal, these bull dogs were crossed with terriers to compete in the sport of ratting. Eventually, they began to breed the dogs to fight other dogs as well ( Pit Bull descend from dogs which were selectively bred to be extremely aggressive with other animals, and illegal fighting still takes place today.

There is a misconception that all Pit Bulls that were human aggressive were destroyed or “culled” ( Yet, writings by some of the old-time breeders of fighting Pit Bulls prove this to be incorrect. This pdf from has information on this topic, and from the authors research, it seems that “man biters” were commonly bred:

Currently, there are several breeds which descend from these bull baiting ancestors. These dog breeds include but are not limited to the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Am Staffs), the Bull Terrier, and the American Bully. All of these breeds fall under the Pit Bull dog type and carry many of the same genes and tendencies.

“It’s All How You Raise Them”

This is one of the worst lies fed to unsuspecting would-be dog parents. People are told this in order to encourage them to take on dogs they are ill-equipped to handle. Herding breeds herd. Scent hounds perpetually have their noses to the ground. Labs and Golden Retrievers love retrieving and are drawn to water. No one denies that these behaviors are from years of careful selective breeding. One can fine tune the dog’s abilities with training, but the drive is in his genetic makeup. Many people don’t want to accept the fact that aggression can be bred into dogs in the same way these other behaviors are selected for. Proper rearing, early socialization, and training are important for any dog, but these interventions cannot erase breed-specific behaviors. Some dogs are more inherently aggressive than others, and Pit Bulls as a group were uniquely selected to be extremely dog aggressive.

Pits Behave Differently When They Attack:

This goes back to genetics and is the biggest reason Pit Bulls are so dangerous. Pit Bulls tend to behave differently when they attack compared to other dogs. They bite, hold, shake, and will not let go. Even Pro-Pit websites recognize this, and recommend owners have a break stick on hand to break up fights (

Just because a Pit likes dogs he has met or lives with, does not change the fact that he may one day meet a dog and decide to attack it. It also doesn’t mean the dog will never develop aggression to dogs which it has been fine with for years. The attack will seem unpredictable, because Pit Bulls were selectively bred to not show normal signs of aggression ( The American Kennel Club even notes that even well socialized American Staffordshire Bull Terriers can become dog aggressive at any point in their lives: “It must be noted that dog aggression can develop even in well-socialized Am Staffs; an Am Staff should never under any circumstances be left alone with other dogs.” (

Most breeds of dog stop fighting when the other dog shows submission. If that does not work, they at least stop when severe, painful stimulus is applied. Pits just do not respond the way most dog breeds do. They were bred to have what dog fighters describe as “game.” The term is used to describe the trait of the dog not giving up, even when experiencing excruciating pain. If you Google the phrase “game dogs pit bulls,” you can find sites and forums where dog fighters congregate and discuss dogs with this trait. It is highly valued and praised in this sick community of animal abusers. It is something that is bred into the dogs, not trained.  More disturbingly, these same “game bred” Pit Bulls can and do end up in shelters, and then are adopted out to people, all under the guise of being “just like other dogs.”

Backyard Breeder Issues:

For some reason, Pit Bulls and Bully breeds have seen a surge of popularity in the past 10 years or so. I am not sure what the cause of this is. Generally, when a breed has a huge boost in numbers, there is a clear reason. Rin Tin Tin caused everyone to want a German Shepherd. Lassie saved the day every week on TV, and many families wanted a collie. Recently, shelters saw a significant increase in huskies because people wanted wolves as seen in Game of Thrones. Every time breeds have great jumps in number like this, it is largely due to people breeding dogs irresponsibly, dogs with poor temperaments who shouldn’t be bred, and the result is a mix of some dogs who make great pets and others with anxiety, aggression, and fear issues. In addition to Pit Bulls having poor foundational genetics geared toward aggression, they are also being bred by the worst of people who are breeding dogs with the worst temperaments. This is creating a large group of unadoptable, dangerous dogs who end up in shelters in large numbers because they develop issues ignorant owners can’t handle, and honestly, the best of owners would be unable to handle many of these dogs. Worsening the situation are no kill shelters, which refuse to euthanize unadoptable dogs, and instead let these animals suffer in small cages for years.

But Other Dogs are Aggressive Too!

Yes, this is absolutely true. Dog breeds such as Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Shar-pei, and Akitas are all more prone to be aggressive to people and other dogs. The difference is, there is no lobby of people trying to fool unsuspecting soon-to-be dog owners on the temperament of these breeds. No on tries to say Shar-pei are just like Labs and love every dog they meet. No one tries to sell Akitas as the perfect “nanny” for little kids. No one says Rottweilers make perfect pets for first time owners. But those kinds of lies are told all the time about Pit Bulls, and the propaganda is causing the death of pets and people.

The “Nanny Dog” Fantasy:

No, Pit Bulls were never ever nanny dogs. There is no such thing as a “nanny dog.” Dogs cannot babysit children. I honestly do not know where this stupid myth got its start, but selecting for traits suitable for a child’s playmate does not result in the Pit Bull. It only takes a little common sense to realize that a dog that bites, holds, and shakes when it attacks is NOT a good dog for kids. An animal bred to chase and kill other creatures that squeak is not the best playmate for little creatures that run and make funny noises. An animal with an incredibly strong desire to finish attacking and ignore all sense of pain has absolutely no place in a household with children.

If someone wants a good dog for young kids, they should buy a puppy such as a Golden Retriever, Standard Poodle, Irish Setter, etc. from a reliable breeder. The puppy should be socialized and trained extensively from a young age, and the children should be taught to be respectful of the animal. Rescuing an adult is still an option, as long as the dog’s background is known. For children younger than 12, the more you know of the dog’s past and the more control you have over its personality and behavior, the better. Socialize early, obedience train it, and teach children to be kind and gentle with all animals. And always supervise kids and pets.

What People Should Know before Getting a Pit Bull:

People thinking of adopting a Pit Bull need to understand the fact that these dogs are not hardwired like many other breeds. They were originally designed to be aggressive, to attack without warning, to ignore normal canine signals of submission, and to fight until the bitter end.

These are not appropriate dogs for children. It is my opinion that they should not be kept in the same house with other dogs, especially if the other dogs are small. Like most terriers, other small pets, like cats, are also a big no-no. If they do share a home with other dogs or cats, they should be separated while not supervised. These dogs should NEVER be off leash where they can meet dogs they do not know, nor where they will meet strangers.

Owners of these dogs should educate themselves on break sticks and have a way to choke one of these dogs off if they do bite someone or something and will not let go. Do not depend on pepper spray to break up a fight between these dogs. Amazon reviews abound with people saying pepper spray does no work to break up fights between Pit Bulls (although if a Pit Bull is approaching, it may prevent a fight from starting).

As a side note, fair warning to people adopting from a shelter. If you do not want a Pit Bull, do not trust the shelter to tell you what the dog’s heritage is. Shelters lie about dog breeds all the time to make their dogs more adoptable. Look for yourself. If it looks like a Pit Bull, it’s a Pit Bull.


Pit Bulls and their ancestors were selectively bred for generations to be more aggressive than the average dog. These dogs were selected for a tenacity that causes them to continue to fight even when experiencing excruciating pain. These dogs are unique and that when they do bite, they tend to bite, hold, and shake which causes extreme damage. Pit Bulls therefore can be particularly dangerous to other pets and children, as their bite style produces horrible injuries, and they additionally continue to fight when most dogs would stop. These dogs also have an unpredictable nature, and can appear fine with other people and pets for years before they attack. For these reasons, these dogs are not suitable for the average household, and they are certainly not suitable as a pet for children.

Dog Culture is Out of Control: Dog Culture in America

Dog Culture: Bad for Dogs and for People

No, I am not talking about puppy culture, which is utilized by many to help socialize puppies from a young age. The topic being discussed here is dog culture, which is a craze that is taking the USA by storm.

What is Dog Culture:

In simplest terms, dog culture is the elevation of dogs past the status of pet. I would say it is the treating of dogs as humans, but many people treat their dogs better than they do other humans even within their own family. Dog owners of today anthropomorphize their canine friends in a way that goes beyond simply treating them with love and respect. In this post, we will discuss examples of dog culture and why dog culture is detrimental to people and dogs.

Examples of Dog Culture:

Sometimes examples work better than definitions. So, here I will describe what I consider to be examples of dog culture:

  • People referencing their dog as their son/daughter. Dogs are dogs, this type of talk is just weird.
  • People petitioning for a dog that brutally attacked a person to NOT be euthanized (this excludes dogs that attack in defense of their family). A dog that mauls someone needs to be euthanized.
  • People taking their dogs to places that are specifically labeled “No dogs allowed.” (excluding true service dogs from this). Some places are not appropriate areas for dogs, such as grocery stores. Also, some people do not like dogs, and they have the right to go to establishments where dogs are not permitted and expect to not see dogs when in these areas.
  • People ignoring leash laws. This hurts dogs and people. I have lost count of the number of times myself and my dogs have been harassed by dogs whose owners could not be bothered to keep their dogs leashed in areas with clear cut leash laws. Also, the unleashed dogs are at risk of being injured. Letting dogs loose in leash restricted zones is never a good idea.
  • People believing any discipline of a dog is abuse. Many want useful tools, such as choke chains, prong collars, and electric collars to be outlawed, as they see any corrective tools as inherently abusive.
  • People taking their dogs everywhere with them, including friend/family homes without asking permission. People assume everyone likes dogs and everyone will be happy to have their dog around. This isn’t the case, and people shouldn’t force their dogs upon others.
  • People espousing “No bad dogs, only bad owners!” While dogs have no concept of morals and cannot do something with evil intent, some dogs are extremely aggressive and cannot be rehabilitated, even with good rearing and training.
  • People becoming angry when a dog that is not adoptable is euthanized. Some dogs are not adoptable and should be euthanized to stop them from languishing for years in a shelter. Some animal activists want to “save” every dog, even if this means sentencing the dog to a life of imprisonment in a shelter.

Negative Effects of Dog Culture:

Ironically, there are many negative impacts of dog culture on dogs themselves. Ultimately, people treat their dogs like little humans not for the benefit of the dog, but for their own benefit. A dog knows he is a dog, he does not think he is a human, and he will be happiest when treated like a dog. So many dogs today are neurotic and uncontrolled, and they are not the happier for it. Many dogs are anxiety ridden messes as the result of the way they are treated in today’s world. So many owners never discipline their dogs, never walk them, and never train them.

Take the lack of exercise and discipline that most dogs experience. People refuse to use something such a prong collar to teach their dog to walk on a loose leash, because that would be “cruel.” But, because their dog pulls on the lead, they do not walk the dog, and consequently one of the dog’s key needs to move daily is never met.

Another example is people leaving their dogs off leash in areas with leash laws. The owners feel that “my dog is a sweetheart who needs some time to run free.” Said dog then gets hit by a car when she takes off after a squirrel, or she gets in a fight with another dog who does not want to play.

People anthropomorphize their dogs, and since people like hugs, dogs must as well. Then, people are surprised when their sweet little Mr. Fluffer Doo’s disfigures their grandchild’s face who tried to hug the dog. When in truth, most dogs do not like being hugged, and even dogs that enjoy being hugged by their owners will see this same action as threatening from another person.

Often, owners ignore the fact that dogs are predators. People espouse that dogs are the purest of pure creatures who would never hurt anyone or anything, and then they are shocked when their dog kills the neighbor’s cat, or when their dog bred for generations to chase and kill small animals that squeak mauls a Chihuahua.

A troubling trend is the abundance of “emotional support animals,” or ESA for short, popping up everywhere. People drag their dogs everywhere and state they are “emotional support dogs,” because people can’t stand the thought of going places without their little pal. I have seen many “ESA” dogs out and about; I have yet to see one who was well adjusted, confident, and well socialized. Most of them look terrified to be hauled around to unfamiliar places, and most would be much more comfortable being at home.

              One of the worst examples of dog culture is people rallying around dogs that have attacked humans, demanding that these animals be rehabilitated instead of euthanized. Shelters have also begun hiding aggressive dog’s history under the guise of their being “no bad dogs, only bad owners.” The idea that every aggressive dog can be rehabilitated is unrealistic and dangerous to the public. I wish every dog could be saved, and that all issues could be resolved with training, but the fact it some dogs cannot be rehabilitated, and turning such dogs out to the general public is a recipe for disaster.

              This also creates issues for shelter dogs. As more and more aggressive dogs that should be euthanized are adopted out to unsuspecting people, more people are going to be attacked and disfigured by these dogs. Overall, I foresee this as making people afraid to adopt from shelters and rescues, which will prevent nice dogs that would make excellent pets from finding forever homes. Even if they are able to find a home, their stay in the shelter may affect their personalities, as extended confinement is detrimental to all creatures. (

              Another trend, as mentioned above, are emotional support dogs. Because people take their untrained dogs out and label them as emotional support animals, people are being injured by dogs who are being allowed places that are supposed to be reserved for humans and actual service dogs. (See:, and True service dogs have been attacked by ESA dogs, and once a service dog is attacked, they may never be able to work again, leaving their owner who has a true disability without the support they need to live their daily life.

Dogs are man’s best friend, but they are dogs, not people. Dogs are loyal and loving, but they are simple creatures who thrive on rules and consistency, not on being treated like little humans.

It can be easy to forget that dogs are dogs.

What Has Caused Dog Culture?

I can only speculate on this, but I think this probably started because of more people becoming concerned with animal welfare and animal rights. Fifty years ago, it was not uncommon for people to have a dog that they kept tied up all day and night on an 8-foot chain with little to no interaction or activity. People began to see the cruelty in this – and rightfully so! – and people began pushing for dogs to be brought into the home and treated like family. Now, the pendulum has swung the opposite extreme, and people think dogs should be treated as humans.

Also, I wonder if people waiting longer and longer to have children has impacted this. The natural desire to have kids is present whether people have them or not, and a dog serves as a pretty good surrogate for a real human child.

I believe part of this phenomenon also stems from the fact that people are more removed from nature than ever, and thus they just don’t see animals as animals anymore. Many kids are raised with cartoons depicting dogs being police officers and having human like reasoning skills and emotions. Now, I do not have a problem with this, or in teaching kids to respect all life forms, from humans to spiders. But there has to be a balance. The issue is that these same kids may never see a cat decapitate a bird, or see their dog catch, kill, and eat a squirrel. But, given half a chance, most dogs and cats will do both of those activities with gleeful joy and will never experience one bit of remorse for ending the poor bird or squirrel’s life. They are predators, it comes naturally to them.


I am not sure how to end this, other than to say DON’T be a part of dog culture! Love your pets, treat them well, but remember at the end of the day they are dogs, plain and simple, and they want to be treated like dogs, not like little people. Your dog will thank you for it!

Help, My Dog Has Megaesophagus!

My Dog is Regurgitating Food!

My mom’s dog, Oscar, who passed away at the beginning of 2021, lived the last few months of his life with megaesophagus. We were able to keep weight on Oscar and help him feel his best with this disease. In this post, I am going to discuss what megaesophagus is, its causes, treatment, and what we did for Oscar.

Regurgitation, Not Vomiting:

While not the most pleasant topic, it is important to differentiate between regurgitation and vomiting. This was one of the major issues we had when determining what was wrong with Oscar. We initially just thought he was vomiting his food, and this seemed more likely because of Oscar’s kidney disease. It took us several weeks before we realized that Oscar’s food wasn’t even reaching his stomach; instead, his food was sitting in his esophagus. Oscar wasn’t retching or making any of the normal motions dogs make before they vomit, he would simply get a confused look on his face walk away from us, and all the food will come back up. This would occur within minutes of eating his meals.


Most of the time, the cause of megaesophagus is unknown. This was true in Oscar’s case. Some dogs are born with megaesophagus, and others, like Oscar, develop it later in life. Sometimes, it is caused by another disorder, such as: myasthenia gravis, cancer, Addison’s disease, etc. It is important to treat an underlying cause, if present, as a component to handling the dog’s condition.


Once we figured out that Oscar was regurgitating food, and not vomiting, we were pretty sure of his megaesophagus diagnosis. Still, we got an X ray to visualize the dilation of his esophagus and confirm the diagnosis. X rays seem to be the most common diagnostic tool used for this disease. As stated above, since certain conditions can cause megaesophagus, it is important to do blood tests to rule out any of these other causes, such as myasthenia gravis or Addison’s disease.


One of the most common complications associated with this disorder is aspiration pneumonia. Because the dog regurgitates food so often, it creates a situation where they are very likely to end up with some food particles in their lungs. This is potentially life threatening, so it is important to firstly, make sure you are doing everything you can to stop the dog from regurgitating food, and secondly, taking your dog to the vet at the first signs that they may have aspiration pneumonia.

Signs of aspiration pneumonia include (

  • Coughing
  • Irregular breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • High fever
  • Nasal whistling
  • Difficulty exercising
  • Lethargy


Treatment for megaesophagus consists of figuring out what food consistency is easiest for the dog to consume, and keeping the dog upright for 20 to 30 minutes after meals. From my research, most people recommend either feeding food in a small meatball form or grinding the food down to gruel. Also, dogs with megaesophagus tend to do better with three to four meals a day as opposed to one or two meals. Medications for an underlying cause are imperative if a cause of the disorder is determined.

Keeping the dog upright after meals can be one of the trickiest aspects. Many dogs do not like being kept upright while eating, as it’s an unnatural position for them. If the dog is small, he could be held by the owner for 20 to 30 minutes; this is what we did for Oscar while we awaited his Bailey chair ( After ordering and receiving the Bailey chair, Oscar still required supervision while he ate his meals and while sitting in the Bailey chair, as he would try to hop out of the chair if left alone even for a second.

In Oscar’s case, we discovered that grinding his food down and mixing it with beef broth seemed to help him the most. Oscar was on a prescription kidney food for his renal failure. While I cooked fresh food for Lady when she developed kidney disease, Oscar was not able to get the fresh food down with his megaesophagus, so we switched over to the commercial prescription diet. We would grind his kibble, grind his canned food, mix them together, and add enough beef broth to make the mixture very liquidy.

While many dogs with megaesophagus seem to do best with four meals a day, for Oscar, a four meal a day regimen did not work well. Oscar actually did better with three meals a day; breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

In addition to the above steps, Oscar’s veterinarian also prescribed sildenafil to help treat his condition. This medication really did help reduce the number of times Oscar regurgitated his meals, and I would recommend anyone caring for a dog with megaesophagus to give this medicine a try.

There is alot of trial and error when figuring out what works.

Oscar would make quite a mess at mealtimes, so we started putting a bib on him to make clean-up easier.


Many of the articles I have read talking about this condition say that the prognosis for megaesophagus tends to be poor. Still, it is possible to find stories of many dogs living long, happy lives with this disorder. The most notable story is Gremlin’s. Gremlin was diagnosed with megaesophagus at one year of age. His devoted owner has helped him cope with his condition, and he did very well with his condition. I am not sure if Gremlin is still alive, but he certainly lived beyond the one year the veterinarians predicted he would live. Included here is an article talking about his story.


In summary, if your dog is showing signs of megaesophagus, you need to get an accurate diagnosis. Generally, an x-ray will show if megaesophagus is present. Blood tests will likely be needed to determine if an underlying cause is present.

For treatment, your dog will need

  • A chair to stay upright. Bailey Chairs work well for this:
  • 3 – 4 small meals a day.
  • Sildenafil, if it helps.
  • Food needs to be either fed as “meatballs” or as a gruel, whatever works best for your dog.
  • Treatment of underlying cause, if present (ie, Addison’s disease)

Remember to monitor for signs of aspiration pneumonia, and keep close track of your dog’s weight to assure they are getting enough calories.


Oscars megaesophagus was difficult to manage, but it was very, very rewarding to see him be able to keep his meals down. He was able to maintain his weight, which was very surprising to us, considering he had megaesophagus and kidney disease, both diseases that cause weight loss. Oscar lived several months with his megaesophagus diagnosis, and passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. Initially, I was worried that he possibly died of aspiration pneumonia, but from reviewing what symptoms are present with this complication, I do not think his passing was in any way related to megaesophagus or pneumonia. Oscar was approximately 15 years old when he passed away, and he was able to live out his last few months very happily even with the diagnosis of megaesophagus.

Behavioral Euthanasia: When it’s the Only Option Left

In this post, I am not going to tell anyone if they should or should not euthanize their dog for aggression issues. I am going to share the story of my hound dog, Cooper, who I had to euthanize due to his aggression toward members of my family. I hope this post will help someone else facing this difficult decision.

Cooper’s Story:

Ever since I was a child, I loved hound dogs. I love pretty much every type of dog, whether it be a mutt or a purebred, but I was always strongly drawn to the hound group when the conformation shows would come on the TV on Animal Planet. I would watch all the dog shows on Saturday mornings, first with my dog Lady, and then with Lady and Raina. When the hound group would run around the ring, I was continually enthralled. I know they might not seem special to some, but I just love the floppy ears and jowls on hound dogs, their silly baying sound, and their desire to forever have their nose to the ground.

When I was 13, I remember seeing a large stray hound running through our yard, and I remember secretly hoping I could keep him. Now, growing up loose dogs often would come through the neighborhood, but they rarely stayed long. I already had 2 dogs, but I couldn’t help but want this one too. As the months rolled by, he started to hang about the neighborhood more and more, and it became obvious he didn’t have an owner looking for him. It just so happened that when I would take Lady and Raina on their daily walks, he started to follow along, and he eventually let me pet him.

As the time went by, this dog, who I named Cooper, began to stay in our yard or the neighbor’s yard and wait for me to come outside. We started putting food out for him beyond the normal scraps my parents would toss out for the critters. My parents really didn’t want another dog, as we already had a couple along with several house and outdoor cats. Then one day, after months of Cooper following me, Lady, and Raina around, Cooper bolted in our house when he heard a firework go off… Cooper was scared of loud noises, as we discovered that day. After that, Cooper became one of our official dogs. We got him a license, he walked with me on a leash, and he slept in our kitchen on a large white comforter.

For the first several months, Cooper was a good dog. He was pretty quiet for a hound, he never tried to bolt outdoors, and he was housetrained relatively quickly. He walked well on leash, he was super chill at the vet’s office, and he left our cats alone. He got along well with our other dogs… well, Raina didn’t like him, but she is picky about who she likes. The worst thing he did was stealing and destroying shoes, but putting those away was an easy fix. Also, he loved to counter surf, but putting food away stopped this. Overall, he was a good boy, and I was very excited to have another dog.

Slowly, traits of Cooper’s personality began to show that we were not originally aware of. He began to growl at certain visitors. This was easily fixed, though, as we simply put him outside when company came over. This went on for quite a while, until one day Cooper began growling at my mother. As the months went by, he also began growling at my brother. These instances came out of nowhere; my family wasn’t mean to Cooper, and he almost seemed to be in a trance when aggressive. Eventually, he lunged at my brother, and we had him humanely euthanized nearly 3 years after he joined our house.

What We Did:

Prior to making the hard decision to put Cooper to sleep, we tried to work on Cooper’s issues. We would have my mom give Cooper his meals and special treats. We took him to obedience school, hoping the trainer would have some advice, which he really didn’t. I tried making sure we had clear rules, so Cooper would know we were the leaders in the house. He was never aggressive with me. I could take away his favorite bone or toy, put my hands in his bowl while he ate, and pretty much do anything to him, and he would simply wag his tail at me and wiggle about like a puppy. When he would growl at others and I would scold him, he would seem confused, like he didn’t know why he was acting out in the first place. Knowing when Cooper was going to become aggressive was impossible, as the incidents were random. Sometimes, he was perfectly fine, and other times it was like he just switched into a different dog. My mom would say he was like having Jekyll and Hyde in the house.

Cooper and his pal, Oscar.

What Caused Cooper’s Issues?

I will never know the answer to this question. Perhaps he was abused, or maybe he was just born with an unstable temperament. He did come to us with shotgun pellets under his skin, a piece missing from he ear, arthritis in his elbow, and he was blind in one eye, so I have always speculated that he was mistreated prior to joining our house. Whatever the cause was, there was no clear way to modify his behavior and make him into a trustworthy dog.

Making Hard Decisions:

The choice to euthanize a dog for aggression issues is not an easy one. While it might seem like a clear-cut decision from the outside, it is incredibly difficult to put an animal down, especially an animal that is physically sound. Cooper was approximately 6 years old when we put him down, and he didn’t have any major health concerns, but emotionally he wasn’t stable.

Despite Cooper growling at my mom, even she felt bad about having to euthanize him. When he was calm and well-behaved, which was most of the time, she would just say, “Why can’t he always be like this?” For anyone who has/had a dog with random aggressive outbursts, this is the question, but we can’t talk to dogs and ask them why they do what they do, and frankly, I think that dogs with this type of random aggression don’t know why they act out. Some dogs have specific fears, such as men with beards or hats, or strangers. But what causes a dog to go after people he lives with day in and day out who are never mean to him?

Many people who we talked to about the situation had opinions on what we should do. Some people said my brother should find his own place after Cooper lunged at him. So, apparently to some people, kids should be kicked out of the house when a dog is going after them even though the person didn’t do anything to warrant the dog’s aggression. Also, apparently the growling at my mother was a non-issue to these individuals as well. One person in particular thought we should take him to the dog pound or a shelter instead of euthanizing him, as this person believed a dog should never be put to sleep for non-medical reasons. This to me seems much crueler, as this would put someone else in the position to adopt and grow to love Cooper, only for his aggressive tendencies to surface after the bond had been formed.

No one we spoke with suggested euthanizing him. Every book and article I could find said that “any dog can be trained.” Concluding that euthanasia was the only option was extremely difficult, and I felt like a complete failure to my dog, and that I was betraying his trust. That is why I am making this post. Hopefully, someone in my same position will read about Cooper, and find some comfort in the fact that they are not alone, that euthanizing a pet for aggression does not make them a bad person, and that sometimes training, love, and structure isn’t enough. If your or your loved ones’ safety is at risk, hard decisions need to be made to keep you and your family safe, and sometimes that means euthanizing a dog who becomes aggressive for no reason.


I will not sugar-coat this: the guilt after putting Cooper down was terrible. It was hard to even properly grieve losing him, because I felt I didn’t have the right to grieve since I was the one who made the decision to put Cooper down. I had nightmares for a long time after euthanizing Cooper. Possibly worst of all, is that I felt guilty about being relieved that I didn’t have to worry about him hurting my mom or my brother. I felt guilty that I was more relaxed without the tension in the house of Cooper making life hell for my family.


Yes, I regret that my wonderful dog needed to be euthanized for aggression, but I do not regret my decision, as it was the right one. I am so thankful I didn’t dump him in a shelter and not disclose his aggressive tendencies for someone else to go through the same hurt I did. It was incredibly painful to be there when Cooper was put to sleep by our vet, but I am thankful I was there with him in his final moments. I am thankful that Cooper never actually bit anyone. I do regret not euthanizing him sooner, as it was wrong for my mom and brother to have to live for over a year with a dog that would randomly growl at them for simply walking about in their own home. It also wasn’t fair to Cooper, as he had to be in a crate whenever I wasn’t around to make sure he didn’t follow up his growling by biting someone. I regret that I couldn’t change his behavior, but I also don’t think anyone could have helped him. For reasons I will never know, Cooper was mentally broken, and sometimes, training can’t solve the problem.

I still miss Cooper and will always be thankful for my time with him. Like all my wonderful dogs, I learned so much about love, loyalty, and devotion from him. Unlike my other dogs, from his life I learned the painful lesson that some issues cannot be fixed, and the right thing to do is often the hardest. I hope his story can help someone else facing the decision to euthanize their aggressive dog. While nothing takes away the pain of losing a devoted pet, hopefully Cooper’s story can ease someone’s guilt who has to part with their dog for the same reasons.

“Adopt Don’t Shop” is Bad for Dogs

The Adopt Don’t Shop Myth:

“Adopt Don’t Shop” has been the slogan of many rescue organizations for the past several years. While it seems that many people initially understood this as a stand against puppy mills and backyard breeders, in recent years it seems that many animal lovers have started to see all breeders are horrible people. Currently, a whole slew of pet lovers see buying from breeders as morally objectionable. In this article, the issue will be addressed as to why this slogan is damaging, and how the inevitable result of such thinking is the destruction of generations of selective breeding. At its core, the “Adopt Don’t Shop” movement seeks to cause the extinction of the domesticated dog.  

This post is not meant to dissuade anyone from adopting from a pound, rescue, or shelter. I love my current rescues pets, and every other rescued pet I have ever owned. At the writing of this post, I have never bought from a breeder. This article is not meant to deter people from adopting a dog; rather, it seeks to shed light on the idea that no one should buy from breeders, and that all breeders should stop producing dogs.

Origins of Adopt Don’t Shop:

The “Adopt Don’t Shop” slogan began in 1984 in Los Angeles by Chris DeRose. The organization named Last Chance For Animals had the goal of exposing the exploitation of animals. ( The mission statement of Last Chance for Animals is as follows:

“Last Chance for Animals (LCA) is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating animal exploitation through education, investigations, legislation, and media attention.  LCA believes that animals are highly sentient creatures who exist for their own reasons independent of their service to humans; they should not be made to suffer for the latter.  LCA opposes the use of animals in food and clothing production, scientific experimentation, and entertainment and promotes a cruelty-free lifestyle and the ascription of rights to non-human beings.” (

This certainly sounds nice to the unsuspecting person. Most animal lovers would say that they do not want animals to be exploited. Most people who have dogs, cats, and other creatures would agree that their critters are sentient. While not as intelligent as people, animals have feelings and emotions, and are able to form close bonds with their people and animal friends. So, most unsuspecting people would see nothing wrong with this mission statement and could easily get behind the adopt don’t shop movement. But what most people do not realize is what these groups mean when they say, “Adopt don’t shop.”

The Real Goal Behind Adopt Don’t Shop:

Language such as “eliminating animal exploitation” is largely derived from PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals). This language is code for ending any human interaction with animals, including pet ownership. Here is quote from their website:

“In a perfect world, all animals would be free from human interference and free to live their lives the way nature intended. They would be part of the ecological web of life, as they were before humans domesticated them. But the world that we live in is far from perfect, and domestic cats and dogs are not capable of surviving on their own, so it is our responsibility to take the best possible care of these animals. Please be assured that PETA does not oppose kind people who share their lives and homes with animal companions whom they love, treat well, and care for properly.” (

PETA members see a perfect world as one in which no one owns pets. To get to this point PETA wants the reproduction of any and all dogs to stop. While they do not mind people taking care of the existing domesticated dogs, they seek to cause the domesticated dog, and any domesticated animal, to go extinct.

 If everyone stopped breeding their dogs and if everyone sterilized every single dog, domesticated dogs would be extinct, and this is PETA’s goal, and likely the goal of any organization that states they wish to end “animal exploitation.” Many of the groups that tout the “Adopt don’t Shop” message are probably unaware of the origins of the phrase, or the end goal of such thinking, but any website that also makes statement on “animal exploitation” is probably seeking to stop pet ownership all together.

Dog ownership is not exploitation of dogs.

The Case for Breeders:

 The amazing diversity in dog breeds is a great accomplishment of mankind. We have designed these creatures to herd instead of kill, retriever instead of tear and destroy, and to choose the companionship of humans as opposed to their own kind. Selective breeding has created a variety of dogs, with Generations of selective breeding have produced what truly is “man’s best friend.”

 Dogs are not wonderful companions by accident. As is obvious, breeding needs to be done selectively to produce such wonderful dogs. It does not take long for dogs to become “undomesticated.” One only needs to look at the problems of street dogs in countries such as India, Russia, Mexico, and Romania to have this point proven to them. Even the United States has its issues with wild street dogs attacking humans on occasion ( It takes much work to create and maintain dogs that can perform specific tasks, whether that task be working in therapy, search and rescue, protection, and simply being good companions.

 One of the simplest and most enlightening statements I ever heard was in a video created by a breeder of Cane Corsos. In the video, she states the obvious truth that if no one breeds a certain breed for a 10-year period, that breed goes extinct ( While a PETA activist would be happy about such an extinction, I believe the vast majority of pet owners would not be ok with the dog breeds they love and adore being completely gone in 10 years. Yet, this is the inevitable result if every breeder stopped breeding.

Ethical Breeders are Not the Problem:

Even if every ethical breeder stopped breeding tomorrow, puppy mills would still be breeding puppies as would backyard breeders. Frankly, PETA’s goal of ending pet ownership is a pipe dream on their part. People will never stop seeking out dogs as pets, and consequently, puppy mills and backyard breeders will never stop breeding. These people will keep producing dogs with a myriad of health problems and poor temperaments. The resultant dog population left after the ending of responsible breeding would be an extremely unhealthy group of dogs with behavioral issues. Perhaps then PETA could see their hopes come to life, as no one would want these creatures in the end, and people would possibly stop taking in dogs all together. But, as a dog lover, I hope PETA and its members never accomplish their objective of destroying the domesticated dog and other domesticated animals.  


If you choose to be anti-reputable breeder, that is your decision. Everyone is free to hold their own beliefs. But, a person touting such beliefs needs to be aware of the consequences of such actions. If you truly believe all dog ownership is a form of animal exploitation, you need to be willing to state that you also believe we should not own dogs, or any animal for that matter. A person against breeding dogs needs to realize that their stance would destroy the domesticated dog, all dog breeds, and end pet ownership if taken to its logical conclusion.

Dog Rescues Supporting Puppy Mills:

Where and How are “Dog Rescues” Getting their Dogs?

The demand for dogs has been on the rise in recent years. In particular, the desire for rescued dogs has risen. This, I believe, is largely because of the “Adopt don’t Shop” movement. It is a beautiful thing to give a homeless animal a nice, warm place to live. Well-meaning individuals will go to great lengths to adopt their new friend and save the dog from a life of misery or euthanasia. But what if rescues aren’t really rescuing their dogs? Sadly, many “rescues” are fronts for puppy mill dogs.

Rescues are Buying from Auctions:

Several news reports have come out in recent years exposing the buying of dogs from auctions and selling them as “rescued dogs.” PETA (I have my issues with PETA, but they are good for certain things) discusses this issue. Rescues go to the auctions done by the puppy mills, and buy the dogs with money that is being donated by individuals who want to do a good thing ( Many of the puppy millers brag that they can makes quite a bit of money selling to these rescue organizations. Rescues argue that they are saving the dogs and stopping them from being bred more. The rescues state that in this way, they are hurting the puppy mills bottom line (

              The problem is, the puppy millers are still making money. The idea that the rescue is saving dogs because they are cutting into the number of breeding dogs the puppy mill has is ludicrous. Selling a mill dog here and there will not cut into the number of puppies that a mill will sell, as they will never just sell all of their adults at auction. Some mills are specifically breeding dogs with the purpose of selling to rescues ( These “rescues” are doing absolutely nothing in the long run to put an end to the needless suffering created by puppy mills. Mills are making money off the deal, and rescues are getting a fresh supply of sad faces to sell to people who are trying to do a good thing by giving a shelter dog a home.

Rescuing a shelter pet is a wonderful act. Make sure you are adopting from reputable sources.

Why are Rescues Buying Dogs from Auction?  

Some may argue that the rescues believe they are doing a good thing. I tend to disagree. I believe these groups have found a lucrative way to make money off soft-hearted individuals looking to save a life. The demand for dogs keeps increasing, and while there is an idea that we have a pet overpopulation problem, I do not believe there is an actual dog overpopulation problem in many states. Particularly in many northern states, there is in reality a shortage of dogs. Southern states have been shipping dogs in their shelters up north to meet this demand. ( Also, some recues have begun importing dogs from other countries ( If we really had a horrible pet overpopulation problem, we would not be able to ship dogs in from other countries.

As we have successfully put a dent in the pet over population problem with spay and neuter programs, rescues simply are running out of homeless pets. No homeless pets, and the rescues cannot keep their doors open. I personally feel that some rescues are putting their own interests at the forefront of their mission, instead of the interests of the dogs they claim to care about.

California Legislation:

              As a note, I see these fake rescue organizations becoming more common if and when more states enact legislation that stops dogs and cats from being sold in pet stores. In 2017, California became the first state in the U.S. to ban the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores ( The legislation has been heralded as being a major step to putting an end to puppy mills. This law will supposedly stop the abuse of dogs in this way by ending the financial incentive to breed dogs on a large scale. Being that there is already a problem of fake rescues popping up, I really do not see such legislation being effective, and if anything, this legislation will only encourage this trend of rescue organizations buying from auctions.


              Most rescues are not buying their dogs from auctions. Most shelters and rescues are doing all they can to help homeless animals who would otherwise be left on the streets to fend for themselves. Yet, there are rescues who are perpetuating the continuation of suffering by buying their dogs from puppy mills. I foresee this becoming more common as more states put laws to stop the selling of puppies in pet stores and other venues. These businesses will find a way to continue making money, and this will likely be through selling dogs to shelters. The need to buy from reputable breeders has been emphasized for years in the dog community. Sadly, as unethical practices continue in rescues, the same care and research needs to be done when adopting from rescues and shelters.

              To ethically get a dog, ask pet loving friends and family about shelters they know about and with which they have experience. It may be best to avoid ones that specifically state that they do “puppy mill rescues,” unless you can verify that the rescue is actually working to have puppy mills shut down, not acting as a source of the puppy millers revenue. One could even volunteer at a shelter to determine if the shelter is really saving animals or in the business of money making. Also, consider reputable breeders as a way to get a puppy, or as a source of rescue dogs as well. Many breeders are active in breed rescues, and they can help sort out the good from the bad. Also, talk to friends and family about the reality of puppy mills and pet stores. Legislation will never stop ignorance, but education can. Many people believe Craigslist, Pet Stores, and websites such as Lancaster Puppies are great sources of dogs. The only way puppy mills will ever stop breeding is if and when people refuse to buy from them in any way, shape, or form.

Commercial Diets for Dogs with Kidney Disease: Review

Feeding your dog with kidney disease:

Feeding a dog with kidney disease can be a challenging endeavor and requires much trial and error when discovering what your dog is willing to eat. Below are some of the commercial foods I tried while caring for my elderly dog who had kidney disease. I kept track of which ones she liked and which ones she vehemently refused to eat. Hopefully, the information below may help you find a product that your friend will enjoy!

Commercial diets for CKD:

There are several commercial kidney diets available for dogs on the market. These diets are available only with prescription from your pet’s veterinarian. If your dog is diagnosed with renal failure, it is important that her diet be changed to slow the progression of disease. Most of the time, this is done by using one of the prescription diets produced by Hill’s, Royal Canin, or Purina. Many believe that the companies listed here use inferior ingredients in their products, and they would rather not feed these foods to their pet. While the ingredients may not always be the best in these products, it is important to feed a reduced phosphorus diet to dogs with kidney disease, so if the owner cannot prepare low phosphorus foods at home for their pet, they should feed the prescription diets instead of feeding a regular commercial diet or an unbalanced homemade diet.

Below are reviews on some of the renal formulas from Hill’s and Royal Canin.


One of the major issues many people have with the commercial kidney diets available is their palatability. Oftentimes kidney disease diminishes a dog’s desire to eat. The best food in the world is worthless if your dog won’t eat it. It is important that your dog continues to eat, as going without food is hard on the kidneys. If your dog refuses to eat the prescription food, ask your veterinarian for suggestions on improving their appetite.

To get your dog to eat, you may have to be a little creative. While for healthy dogs I generally use a tough love approach, it really is important to keep a sick dog eating. I will handfeed Lady when she is being particularly picky. Sometimes I will mix a very small amount of something she really likes with her prescription food, just to give it an odor she likes. When I say a small amount, I mean small spoonful, or less. You just want enough to encourage the dog to eat. Some of Lady’s favorites are chicken gravy, beef gravy, Nutrisource dog treats crushed to a powder and sprinkled on top of her food, or a little Fancy Feast cat food. Once again, try to feed the food without these temptations, and always consult with your vet. If your dog has been eating pretty well for a while and suddenly starts refusing food, take her to the vet. Such changes could be indicative of the disease progressing, or of other problems/changes.

As far as the palatability of prescription diets, I must say from my limited experience of trying to feed my dog with kidney disease, they are not very palatable. Below are the products I have tried with Lady, and the verdicts on each of them.

Hill’s k/d stews:

The tastiest product that I have found (according to Lady, who is rather picky) is the stew varieties of the Hill’s k/d line of products. The ingredient list is also not terrible compared to some of the other cans available through other brands. Lady will eat both the chicken and beef variety by themselves or mixed with some of her dry prescription diet. Even though she eats these pretty well, if she gets commercial food of any sort for more than a few days, she will start refusing to eat.

One of the things that I think really helps with Lady’s willingness to eat this product is the fact that it is not sticky. For instance, the Royal Canin cans I tried with her did not work out, in large part I believe not because she did not like the flavor, but because the consistency was so sticky that is was difficult for her to eat.

Hill’s k/d kibble:

This is not Lady’s first choice for dinner. She will eat it with canned food, or by itself, but she does so begrudgingly. I always have a bag of this in addition to a case of the k/d cans on hand for when I run out of fresh food/ when I forget to thaw food for her. A trick that works to get her to eat it is this: I will hand a few kibbles to the other dogs in the house, who gobble it down enthusiastically, and then I offer her some. This normally works. Hand feeding also seems to make her more willing to eat this food. Any time she seems especially hungry in the afternoon after she has had her dinner, I give her as much of this hand fed as she will eat.

A note about this food: when Lady was initially diagnosed with renal failure, I fed her k/d kibble predominantly while I was trying to come up with fresh food to give her. The food gave her a very bloated appearance. I am not sure if this was because of the food, or if it was because Lady was not used to eating lots of kibble prior to her diagnosis.

Royal Canin Renal Support A Kibble:

I currently have a full bag of this product in my cabinet because Lady will not eat this food. Nothing I did would get her to try this, even when her appetite improved for food in general. My other dogs did eat this kibble without problem (I let them have a few bites hoping that would cause Lady to try some.)

Royal Canin Renal Support A and E Canned:

Lady ate both of these. She seemed to like the taste, but it was so sticky it was difficult for her to eat it. The scent definitely enticed her, so if your dog is reluctant to eat, you might want to give these cans a try. I did not buy them long term because Lady’s appetite picked up for her regular food once we made some changes in her supplements.


I hope this helps anyone who is trying to figure out what to feed their pet with kidney disease. It takes time and lots of experimentation, but it is usually possible to find a commercial kidney diet that your dog will eat. If no commercial diet works for you pet, you might want to try cooking for your dog with kidney disease. Consult with you veterinarian before doing so, so they can provide guidance. The sample diets that I used may also be beneficial (Sample Diets for Dogs with Kidney Disease).

What is Chronic Renal Failure in Dogs?

What is Chronic Renal Failure in Dogs?

Chronic Renal Failure, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD), is a condition in which the kidneys are slowly losing the ability to do their job. Symptoms, such as drinking more water and urinating more frequently, usually are only apparent once the kidneys have lost 75% of their functioning ability. Chronic renal failure is different from acute renal failure in that acute normally has sudden onset and is often the result of infection or other trauma, whereas chronic kidney disease comes on gradually.

What do the kidneys do?

Your dog’s kidneys are responsible for removing waste products from the blood, keeping sodium and other mineral levels balanced, and regulating blood pressure, among other functions. They produce urine, which contains lots of stuff that the body needs to get rid of to remain healthy. Since the kidneys provide so many important functions for the body, loss of kidney function greatly hinders the normal function of many other organs.

The kidneys are made up of functional units called nephrons. The nephrons are the units that do the filtering of the blood. When a nephron is destroyed, it cannot be replaced or repaired. Thus, chronic kidney failure is irreversible, as the kidneys cannot regain lost nephrons. The cause of chronic renal failure generally isn’t determined and knowing the cause of CKD normally isn’t necessary to treating it (this is not true of acute kidney failure). Treatment of CKD is aimed at preserving function of the remaining nephrons for as long as possible. This is normally done through diet and other measures. (See Sample Diets for Dogs with Kidney Disease)

Signs and symptoms of kidney disease in your dog:

As mentioned above, the first sign that something is wrong with your dog when he has kidney disease is often increased urination and thirst. Many people are surprised that there is anything wrong with their pet’s kidneys in this case, because the dog is producing so much urine. But it is the lack of the kidneys ability to concentrate the urine that causes the dog to pee so much. Because the dog loses so much water in every time he goes potty, he feels extremely thirsty and can easily become dehydrated. This is why it is very important that dogs with CKD have constant access to water, since they are at increased risk of dehydration.

Other changes are common. The dog’s coat may become dull, and his behavior may change. Loss of appetite and weight often result. In some cases the dog may develop an ammonia like odor to the breath as waste products continue to build up in the body. Vomiting is very common and very problematic as well, since vomiting can put the dog at an even higher risk of becoming dehydrated. (Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook). Proper treatment can help postpone these symptoms, and many medications can help the dog feel better once they are present.

Other diseases can cause these symptoms, so it is imperative to have your vet properly diagnose your dog as soon as changes in his normal appearance and behavior develop.

How is CKD disease diagnosed?

Kidney disease can be diagnosed with a blood test that will let the veterinarian look at the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels in your pet’s blood. Creatinine and urea are both normal waste products that the body produces that the kidneys get rid of, but when the kidneys stop working properly, both of the substances can build up in the blood. Both of these values are elevated with kidney disease. Normal creatinine is between 0.5 – 1.6 mg/dL, and normal BUN is between 6 – 31 mg/dL. Higher creatinine levels correspond with more progressed kidney disease.

Urine tests can also indicate kidney disease. As the kidneys lose more of their functional ability, they cannot concentrate urine properly. The specific gravity content of the urine will indicate how well the kidneys are able to concentrate urine. The range of normal values can be rather broad, and interpretation of the results will many times be dependent on the particular animal. ( Dilute urine can indicate kidney disease, as can extremely concentrated urine (Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook). Generally to get accurate information for the urine specific gravity, vets recommend getting urine from the first time the dog potties in the morning.

Urine tests can also show whether or not the kidneys are losing protein in the urine. Protein in the urine (called proteinuria) indicates kidney problems. You can find more information on proteinuria here: (

A relatively new test is the symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) test. This test is very beneficial because it can detect kidney problems even before changes in creatinine happen. More information on this test can be found on this website: The drawback it that this test does not seem to be nearly as accurate as other tests of kidney function. Consequently, an abnormal SDMA doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog has early kidney disease, because while early kidney insufficiency can cause an abnormal SDMA, other things can also cause an abnormal value (

Many other values can be unbalanced in kidney disease. Low red blood cells (anemia) and high amounts of phosphorus in the blood are very common in kidney disease. In routine blood work, your veterinarian can check these values and the others listed above to determine how well your dog’s body is functioning.


Changes to your pet’s eating, drinking, urination, and behavior should never be brushed off. CKD, like many other diseases, has the best chance of responding to treatment when it is caught sooner rather then later. There is an abundance of information available on kidney disease that can help you give your dog the best care possible.


Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, 4th edition

Additional resources:

Pain Management for Your Dog

Pain Medication and Pets: Management of Pain was not always the Norm

Most people who take their pets in for a surgical procedure are sent home with pain medication of some sort to assure their pet’s comfort. This, surprisingly, was not always the norm. For years, veterinarians believed that pets did not experience pain the same way people do, because dogs (and cats, sometimes even more so) hide their pain. This is a left over protective mechanism from wild dogs, as weak, injured animals are much more of a target for predators. While the assumption previously was that dogs don’t feel pain like we do, the assumption now is that if it would hurt you, it will hurt your dog (


It is important to control pain that your pet may be experiencing, not only for humane reasons, but also to help your pet heal faster, as pain slows healing.

Pain slows healing:

It is important to control our pet’s pain because no one should have to needlessly suffer. Still, some people believe that a little pain is good, because if an animal is feeling sore, she may be less likely to over-exert herself and reinjure a sprained leg or tear out stitches from surgery. The thought process here seems to be logical and would lead one to believe that some pain will help the pet heal faster. This isn’t the case (

Other than being uncomfortable by definition, pain also slows healing. It can also cause the animal to experience unnecessary anxiety and depression. Not only is pain after surgery detrimental, but pain caused from other sources can also severely hurt your pet’s health. For example, a disease such as arthritis makes movement hurt for your pet. This in turn causes your pet to move less, which causes deterioration of the muscles, which in turn puts more stress on the already diseased joints (

If a dog needs to rest because of surgery or injury but she wants to move around too much, crates and leashes can help keep the dog from hurting herself. If absolutely necessary, a vet can always prescribe a mild sedative to calm a dog the needs to rest.

Signs of pain in dogs:

While your dog may try to hide his pain, he may also make his pain obvious, whether obviously or subtly. Always be aware of signs of pain, as they can be evidence of an underlying disease. Some signs, such as whimpering and limping are very obvious. Others that are not as evident are holding the ears back, odd reactions to being touched, and loss of appetite. Any change in personality can also indicate something is wrong with your pet, making it important to be aware of what is normal and what is abnormal for your dog (

What pain medications are suitable for dogs:

There are a wide range of pain medications available for dogs that provide relief from acute or chronic pain. These include opioids, corticosteroids, and NSAIDs. Some drugs, such as opioids, may be used after a major medical procedure or in end of life pain relief. Medications such as NSAIDs are many times used for conditions such as arthritis.

As can be seen from the previous paragraphs, it is important to recognize and treat pain in dogs, but this does not mean that it is safe to give your dog the same pain medications that you take yourself. Only use pain medications that your vet prescribes. Also, never give medications intended for a cat to a dog, and vise versa. Many things that are safe for dogs are deadly to cats, and many medicines for cats were never meant to be given to dogs.

Even when giving your pet over-the-counter medications, veterinary consultation is needed. Doses for pets are very different from doses for humans. Drugs that seem as safe and common as Tylenol (acetaminophen) need to be carefully administered. While this drug may be a good choice of pain relief for a dog with kidney disease, it can be deadly for a dog with liver problems. Only blood work done be your veterinarian can show what medications are appropriate for your pet, and your vet is the best person to give information on the correct amount to give and how frequently to give it.

Another note:

If you are confused at all about how to administer your pet’s medication, don’t hesitate to contact your vet. Once, our one dog was sent home with a prescription that we picked up from the pharmacy. The instructions on the bottle were different from the instructions that our veterinarian had given us. We found out after a phone call to the vet that the pharmacy had printed the wrong information on the label. Such a mishap could be fatal with certain medications. It never hurts to be extra cautious when caring for your pet.

Walking your Dog: The Benefits and How to get Started

Walking your Dog: The Benefits and How to get Started

Healthful food feeds the body; petting and attention feeds your dog’s mind. Walking benefits your dog’s body as well as his mind. Many dogs who don’t get the walks they need, and this lack of exercise may negatively effect their mental and physical wellbeing.

Walking is very beneficial for both you and your dog. Below, the benefits of walking and how to train your dog to be a good walking partner are discussed.

Raina Editted


Why You Should Walk Your Dog?

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, because the physical exertion builds muscle tone and improves cardiovascular health. Walking is also very natural for dogs, with wild dogs and wolves being extremely active compared to their modern day counterparts. In addition to this, the sights and smells a dog is exposed to on a walk are good for his mind as well. [Dogs have  220 million olfactory receptors in their nose compared to our 5 million, so being exposed to different smells is very stimulating for their mind (“The Dog’s Sense of Smell”)]. The mental stimulation a walk provides is far superior to the limited sights and smells a dog has access to around his house and yard.

For high energy dogs in particular, walks are a must. A daily walk will help calm your dog down. If your dog is exhibiting bad behaviors, such as excessive chewing, digging, barking etc., you need to make sure he is being exercised regularly in conjunction with training. It is not fair to expect a dog to behave when he is not being given any outlet for his energy. While some dogs are so high energy that they may never be walked to exhaustion, regular walks will still take the edge off their hyper active nature and make them more responsive to training.

Even elderly dogs can benefit from regular walks. My elderly dog has arthritis, but she still enjoys slow walks around the neighborhood. Walks help keep her muscles strong, which reduces the stress on her joints. I also feel that walking my old dog helps keep her mentally sharp. Dogs can develop dementia just as people can as they age. While regular walks aren’t a tested and true way of preventing memory loss and confusion due to advancing age, it seems reasonable to me that the mental stimulation provided by walking can only be good for her mind.

It is important to check with your vet when exercising a dog with health conditions, and if your dog has any signs of pain, his exercise routine should be adjusted accordingly with the guidance of a veterinarian.

How much Walking:

Energetic Dogs: These are the dogs that never seem to settle down. Many are decedents from working breeds, such as herding dogs or terriers. Without exercise, these animals become destructive, disruptive, and unmanageable. For energetic dogs, a 45-minute walk is the bare minimum, with 1 – 2 hours of brisk walking being preferable. High energy dogs who can only be walked for shorter periods of time should also receive plenty of exercise in other ways, such as fetch and playtime with other dogs. You may also buy weighted vests to make walking more tiring for your dog.

Moderately Energetic Dogs: Moderately active dogs may behave without daily walks, but they will still be healthier and happier with regular chances to explore the great outdoors through walking. A 20 to 30 minute walk either daily or 3 times a week will greatly enrich the life of a dog with a moderate energy level.

Low Energy Dogs: If your dog seems completely disinterested in walking, you should probably take him in for a checkup at the vet. While some dogs really don’t have any interest in walking (like one of my own dogs), it is good to rule out any medical issues. Also, a dog who previously loved walking suddenly has no interest in his daily walks should be taken into a vet for a checkup.

True couch potato dogs can be exercised with a couple of short walks a week and/or regular play sessions at home and around the yard.

Safety While Walking:

Exercise your dog during the coolest time of the day in hot weather to avoid dehydration and heat stroke. Be very careful with brachycephalic breeds such as boxers and bulldogs. These breeds have less of an ability to cool themselves and are therefore much more susceptible to heat stroke.

In cold weather, make sure the temperature is bearable for your dog. Every dog is an individual, so what one dog can handle is very different from what another one can. An Alaskan Malamute is going to fair better in frigid temperatures than a Doberman Pinscher. Very old and very young dogs are also less tolerant to extreme temperatures.

Always walk in well-lit areas for both your dog’s safety and your own. If possible, walk with others. Carry pepper spray and/or a walking stick to defend yourself and your dog from stray dogs or dogs that aren’t leashed. I avoid streets where I know dog owners irresponsibly let their untrained dogs go about off leash. It only takes one bad experience with an aggressive dog for a previously friendly dog to become dog aggressive.

Training Your Dog to Walk Nicely on a Leash:

Some dogs walk nicely on leash from day one, but it seems to me that most dogs need to be trained to not pull while on leash. This is especially true for hyper active dogs, who ironically oftentimes don’t get the walks they desperately need because they are so poorly behaved while on a leash.

Before you begin training, decide how you want your dog to walk. Determine ahead of time if you want your dog on your left or right side, and also decide if you mind your dog walking in front of you as long as he doesn’t pull. Changing what your expect from your dog on a daily basis will slow training.

The most effective way I have found to train a stubborn dog to walk politely on leash is to abruptly turn and walk in the opposite direction when the dog begins pulling or surges ahead of you. When done consistently, this teaches the dog that it is most comfortable to pay attention to where you are. For the first several days, you may feel as if you are walking in circles, but most dogs get the point. A regular, well fitting collar can be used for this, but if you have a dog who is prone to backing out of collars, a martingale is a safer, better choice. Other training aids that can be used are addressed below.

Turning abruptly when the dog surges ahead is effective, but I feel it is a little too harsh for puppies, many small breed dogs, or for dogs that are simply more biddable to gentler methods. For these dog, simply stopping and remaining completely still when the dog surges ahead works very effectively. As soon as the dog puts pressure on the leash, plant your feet, and don’t begin walking again until your dog reduces tension on the leash.

Types of Walking Aids:

Martingale collars: Martingale collars will tighten enough to prevent a dog from slipping out of his collar when properly fit, but they will not tighten completely as a choke chain will. I love these collars for daily walks.

Harnesses: Not all harnesses are created equal. If you want a harness to reduce pulling, look for ones they are specifically labeled as tools designed to reduce pulling. Many harnesses will actually encourage a determined dog to pull and will give a strong animal more power to take you on a walk!

When using any harness, check your dogs chest and armpits regularly for chaffing and irritation, which can occur from the friction from the harness against your dogs skin.

Note: Small dogs often have delicate windpipes, and it is best to walk them on a harness as opposed to a collar to prevent damage to their throats. Also, if any dog of any size exhibits problems such as excessive coughing with a conventional collar, it is a good idea to try a harness to see if that helps the problem.

Headcollars: Headcollars can reduces a dog’s pulling. A popular headcollar, The Gentle Leader®, is the one I used with several of my dogs. While it would reduce their pulling ability, it made them snort any time they became excited on the walk, even when not putting pressure on the leash. While they never seemed to be in any pain, I would get strange looks from other people because of my dogs’ peculiar noises. Also, my most determined dog would still pull while wearing the headcollar if she saw something she really wanted to get, such as a squirrel.

As with most quick fix solutions, headcollars are no substitute for consistent training. If you do use one, I would recommend using it in conjunction with one of the methods given above and transitioning to a regular collar or martingale once your dog is reliable on leash, so you don’t become dependent on the training aid.


Most dogs love walking, and it is one of the easiest ways to improve your dog’s behavior as well as build his cardiovascular health. While your dog may behave poorly on the leash because of his excitement over walking, regular training can correct this problem.

Cited Work:

“The Dog’s Sense of Smell” –