Category Archives: Dog Health

5 Surprising Ways to Protect Your Dog’s Hearing – By Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. By combining her passion for music with her love of dogs, she co-created Through a Dog’s Ear, the only music clinically demonstrated to relieve anxiety issues in dogs. [ps. You can also buy iCalmDog on my website HERE.]

The following is from her September blog.  I believe it contains information that is important for all of us pet lovers to be aware of.


5 Surprising Ways to Protect Your Dog’s Hearing – By  Lisa Spector

It’s extremely common for senior dogs to gradually lose their hearing, often until it’s completely diminished. However, there are many small changes we can make to our sound environment to help protect their hearing.

Sounds are measured in decibels (dB), and each 10 dB increase represents a tenfold increase in sound energy. 90 dB is ten times noisier than 80 dB, 100 dB is ten times noisier than 90, and so on. Sound researcher Joshua Leeds, co-author of Through a Dog’s Ear, the first book to examine the powerful effect of the human soundscape on dogs, states, “Above 85 dB, you start playing with auditory fire. Inside the inner ear, irreparable cilia cell damage worsens with length of exposure and higher decibel levels. Your dog’s inner ear works in exactly the same way yours does and has an even wider range of frequency.”

Decibels of Common Household and Street Sounds

  • Whisper: 30
  • Normal conversation: 40
  • Dishwasher, microwave, furnace: 60
  • Blow dryer: 70
  • City traffic: 70
  • Garbage disposal, vacuum cleaner: 80

Danger Zone

  • Lawn mower: 90
  • Screaming child: 90
  • Power drill: 110
  • Ambulance: 130
  • Gunshot: 130
  • Fire engine siren: 140
  • Boom cars: 145

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Dog’s Hearing:

1. Take a sonic inventory.

Sound is like air. We rarely notice these two common elements unless the air suddenly becomes polluted or the sound becomes chaotic. The sonic inventory is one way of becoming aware of the noise in your pet’s environment and take measures to improve it.

2. Don’t expose them to loud bands or loud street fairs.

Humans hear sounds between 20-20,000 Hz. Dogs hear at least twice as high, sometimes all the way up to 55,000 Hz. While it’s great that more events and public places are dog friendly, so often those environments are created for humans. A fundraising party for dogs and their people that benefits your local shelter doesn’t benefit your dog when a loud band is playing. Please be careful of your dog’s sound environment.

3. Provide simple sounds at home that calm the canine nervous system.

Minimize intricate auditory information found in most music. The clinically tested music of Through a Dog’s Ear is intentionally selected, arranged and recorded to provide easeful auditory assimilation. Three primary processes are used to accomplish this effect:

  • Auditory Pattern Identification
  • Orchestral Density
  • Resonance & Entrainment

Take a listen with your pup and enjoy a soothing sound bath together.

4. Be aware of your dog’s unresolved sensory input.

When it comes to sound, dogs don’t always understand cause and effect. You know when people are in your home yelling at the TV during a sports game that it’s all in good fun. But, it may not be much fun for your dog, who is still trying to orient whether all of those crazy sounds are safe. Put Fido in a back quiet room, listening to music especially designed for dogs. This can not only safeguard his hearing, but also his behavior.

5. Don’t play two sound sources simultaneously.

Remember that your dog’s hearing is much finer than yours. One family member may be in the living room blasting the TV, while another is in the kitchen listening to the radio. Your dog is caught in the middle, absorbing both sounds and getting stressed. Try and only have one sound source at a time, playing at a gentle volume.




Inside or Out?

Inside or Out?

One of the ways that I get to be in service to the four legged community is doing volunteer work for Retriever Rescue of Colorado.  RROC receives lots of applicants who want to leave their dog outside all day while they are at work and/or relegate them to the garage or an outside dog house at night.  There are lots of reasons why this is not a good idea.

Some people believe that dogs need to be outside so they can get plenty of exercise. The truth is that most dogs don’t exercise when they’re in a yard by themselves; they spend most of their time lying by the back door, waiting for “their people” to either let them in or come out and play with them. This is often the case even with multiple dog households.

Dogs left alone in the yard for long periods often get bored, lonely and frustrated. As a result, they may dig, bark excessively or become destructive.

Some yard dogs may become overly territorial and feel the need to protect their territory even from family and friends. If a dog is hardly ever allowed to come indoors, it will be difficult for him to distinguish between family, friends and uninvited guests.

Retrievers and retriever mixes want nothing more than to be with their people and to be in the home with their peoples’ scents.

RROC discourages leaving your dog outside all day unattended. If the above reasons did not persuade you then maybe these will strike home.

1.Colorado has extremely quick changing weather patterns, bringing extreme heat, cold, high winds, and hail

2.Dogs that are frightened or perhaps just chasing a squirrel can easily escape from a yard, become lost and/or get hit by a passing car
3.If a dog does escape from the yard, you, as his owner, are liable for any damage or harm that he might do.

4.Children/teens will often tease and torment a dog through the fence, spray them with mace or pepper spray or throw inappropriate items over the fence

5.Beware of dog thieves – dogs can be used for meat, dog baiting in illegal dog fights, or sold to a research facility

6.There have been many instances of a dog dying because a person threw poisoned meat over the fence

7. A dog who constantly barks becomes a neighborhood nuisance

8. Collars and chokers can get caught on a fence, decking or bushes causing the dog to choke to death

9.A dog can quickly dig under a fence or break through slats to get out when he really wants to

10. Dogs will often chew on sticks, plants or other items in the yard which may cause intestinal problems or choking

11.If you live in rural areas or the mountains your dog has the chance of encountering unwanted wildlife such as mountain lions, bears, raccoons and skunks.  This problem is even becoming a reality in many areas of the city.

Dogs have the mentality of a 2 year old toddler and if you have children or if you have  been around them, you know why you would never leave a 2 year old unattended.  Make your dog a part of the family today.

Winterizing Your Dog

It may not seem like it, but a dog’s paws are quite vulnerable to the harsh effects of Winter. Exposure to ice, snow and salt takes a toll on even the toughest paws.

Salts, chemicals and most de-icers can be toxic to our canine friends. Try to keep your dog away from roads and sidewalks that have been heavily treated with salt and chemical de-icers. Look for  pet friendly products available for use on your own sidewalks and driveway and try to encourage your neighbors to do the same. While outdoors, do not let your dog eat slush or drink from puddles near heavily treated roads and sidewalks.

There are a couple of ways to help protect paws in the winter.  The first is applying  topical protection such as Bag Balm or Mushers Secret.  Bag Balm is a  product that has been used on farms for over 100 years.  It can be purchased online or at drug stores, pet stores, farm stores or feed and tack shops.  Both products are inexpensive and can be an easy way to offer minimal protection to winter elements. Apply a thin even layer of balm just before going out for a walk. After the walk wipe your dog’s paws with a warm washcloth to remove snow, ice and ice melt. Then apply another layer of balm to soothe any irritation and to keep them from drying out.

Another good option to protect your dog’s paws is dog boots. These boots are made by various manufacturers and can be easily found online and in pet stores. They come in many varieties but the ones I prefer consist of a sock like boot with a Velcro strap to help keep them in place. Some have soles which provide the additional benefit of adding traction. These boots protect the paw by helping them stay dry and preventing exposure to salt and de-icers. Be sure to check that the strap is not too tight; the boot should be snug so that it doesn’t slip off but not so tight that it constricts the paw. Dogs tend to not to like wearing the boots at first so acclimate them to wearing them by putting them on your dog for short periods of time in the house. Praise your dog and gradually begin to increase the length of time they are worn until your dog gets used to them. Two weeks tends to be an average, if your consistent and disciplined with your training. You can find a good pair of dog boots with treads ranging from $20-$60 online.

Dog walking with booties takes training, and it is a process canine owners must commit to in order to be successful. Remember, if you’re frustrated while doing it, your dog will sense your energy and become frustrated and anxious too. You need to step away for a second, calm yourself down, and work through the process gradually. A good pair of dog boots is not just for winter weather. They will come in handy with  hot pavement or rocky hikes during summer months too.



How to Treat an Injured Paw

For scratches and small cuts, it is imperative that you give the proper care to your dog’s paw. Otherwise the dog could continue to re-open the wound. Re-opening the wound will limit him from doing almost anything because dogs rely so heavily on their paws.

The first step to treating a small abrasion is cleaning the wound with anti-bacterial wash. After that is done, you will want to wrap the paw in a light bandage. It is important that your dog does not bite or chew at the bandage. Because moisture slows down the healing process and sweat does come out of your dog’s footpads, it is important that you change the bandage on a daily basis. Changing the bandage will help to speed up the recovery process and will help your dog avoid infections.

Small cuts should heal within a couple of days. If this is not the case or your dog’s wound is a bit deeper, you may want to consider bringing him to the vet. For more serious cuts, veterinarians will stitch the pad and most likely give him a splint.

Winter can be tough on our dog’s feet but good grooming and protecting the paws by using a balm or booties will go a long way to keeping your dog’s feet  happy and healthy.




AAHA Trends Magazine: In My Experience – Helping Hands

This article was featured in the American Animal Hospital Association Trends Magazine, January 2013.

Click here to download the entire article as a PDF.

IME_Jan13imgHelping Hands

In the past few years, I’ve migrated my work from human massage therapy into that of an animal massage therapist.

After receiving my bachelor’s degree in education, I practiced human massage therapy for 20 years. During that time, I also taught massage therapy for the Community College of Denver and wrote a massage therapy program for Arapahoe Community College and Denver Career College.

My massage experience has taken me from working with a spinal cord and traumatic brain injury patients at Craig Hospital in Denver to owning a day spa in Littleton, Colo.

I grew up around horses and dogs, and…

Click here to download the entire article as a PDF.


AAHA Trends Magazine: The Shifting Landscape of Veterinary Care

This article was featured in the American Animal Hospital Association Trends Magazine, February 2013.

Click here to download the entire article as a PDF.

CompMed_Feb13ImgThe Shifting Landscape of Veterinary Care

We are living in changing times. As the public interest and demands for he availability of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) increase, veterinarians are beginning to collaborate with a variety of therapists to round out their practice.

As a massage therapist for more than 20 years, I have learned firsthand how there can be a successful union of therapies in any type of medical practice. In this article we will look at some of the key elements necessary to make this happen.

As the trend to coordinate services continues, we may begin to see a shift from…

Click here to download the entire article as a PDF.

Get Fit with Fido for Real this Year

ShellydogerHaving trouble buttoning your favorite pair of jeans after the holiday?   Could you use a little more pep in your step?  According to the Association for the Prevention of Pet Obesity an estimated 54% of Dogs and Cats in the United States are Overweight or Obese, while the Center For Disease Control states that the percent of adults age 20 years and over who are obese is a whopping 35.9, and that’s not just during the holidays. Why not resolve to make 2014 the healthiest year yet for both you and your canine companion?

Here are a few suggestions for making this happen.

Be aware. Is your dog overweight? How can you tell? According to Veterinarian, Janet Tobiassen Crosby,

  1. Stand over your pet viewing the back. Look for a nice curved indentation in the area of the waist (just behind the rib cage). A pet with a “straight line” from head to tail, or even a bowed-out line along the back, could likely mean that your pet is overweight.
  2. View your pet from the side. There should be a nice “tuck up” area behind the rib cage and before the hind legs. A pet with a “straight line” or a saggy area in the belly area could likely mean that your pet is overweight. Cats are especially prone to fat collecting in the belly area; areas that are easily viewable from the side.
  3. Gently run your fingers along your pet’s rib cage. The ribs should be felt easily and the skin should glide over the ribs smoothly, as opposed to large “sheets” of fat moving along the ribs.
  4. View your pet’s face. A rounded face or visible folds of skin around the face and under the chin could likely mean that your pet is overweight — this depends somewhat on breed.
  5. Check the area above the base of the tail; overweight pets have extra padding and folds in this location.

Create a plan. Just like humans, dogs can lose weight in two ways. Either decrease their food intake (amount of calories eaten each day) or increase their activity. So create a plan. If amount is the problem, start decreasing the amount you are feeding at each meal gradually.  If you dog seems obsessed with food supplement some of the amount you are feeding with a few baby carrots or some green beans.  If you also need to get in shape, the same advice is good for you.. Try to choose foods that support good health for both you and your dog, especially when it comes to treats. Supplement high calorie snacks for more nutritious choices like fresh fruits and veges

Move, Play, Walk, Run. Schedule regular playtime with your dog.  Increasing your dog’s activity level will help both of you burn more calories. Play with your dog every day, as well as scheduling regular walks, hikes or runs.  Try a new dog sport like agility or flyball.  Remember if your dog has been a couch potato, start out slowly, gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your movement time and don’t forget to include massage as part of your new year, new you program. Attend one of my canine massage classes to find out how you can give your canine workout buddy a great all over massage to prevent any soreness or stiffness after working out.

Take the challenge. Get fit with your dog and consider it a healthy gift for both of you and a great way to start the new year.

Safety Tips for Your Dog Over the Holidays

The holidays are a busy and often stressful time for all of us, including our 4 legged friends. Here are some things to remember to keep your pets safe and healthy for the new year.

Have a quiet place where your dog feels safe to go and get away from noise and holiday company.  If they are used to being in a crate, make sure it is located in a quiet area.  There is also great dog specific music that is made to calm canine nerves.  Go to, www.throughadog’ to learn more.

Holiday guests and changes in schedules can disrupt a dogs routine. For your sake and the sake of your dog, remember to schedule regular walks and playtime, and keep feeding times as close to normal as possible.

And finally, remember to look closely to make sure there are no hazards from decorations lying around on the floor.  This is especially important if you have a new puppy, who like a young child, likes to put everything in his mouth. Also, check for gifts that may contain things like chocolate and make sure those are placed up high on a counter rather than under the tree.

Dodger and Ruby want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday season!!