HOT TOPIC: Pets in Cars

Over the past 10+ years pet owners have been spending more time traveling with their pets, especially those with dogs.  There are numerous explanations for this, with the primary reasons being that 1) pets are becoming more a part of the family and 2) communities are becoming more pet friendly (to accommodate for reason 1).  Many restaurants now allow leashed, well-behaved canines in their outdoor areas (as allowable by law).  More and more hotels are becoming pet friendly which makes it easier to travel long distances with pet companions.  Many neighborhoods have Dogipot Stations available to make clean up easy and convenient (though I personally do not find carrying around a small thing of doggie doo doo bags to be cumbersome).  It’s easier than ever to let Fido jump in the backseat of the car for a ride-along!

We must always remember to be mindful of our surroundings at all times when we have our pets with us.  Are there other animals in the area that might not be friendly, or that my pet might like to chase?  Is there something dangerous along our walking path (broken glass, chemicals, delicious trash)?  Is the temperature suitable for my pet?  There are several things to take into consideration, just as there are when you travel with your children.  For this post we are going to focus on the temperature factor.

It’s that time of year when the sun rises high in the sky and sets well into the late evening hours. With increased sunlight hours comes increased outdoor temperatures. We have all kinds of options for keeping cool such dressing loosely, turning on a fan, going for a swim, or relaxing in the air conditioning.  More daylight hours also tends to lead to increased activity outdoors.

I don’t know about all of you, but when the weather’s nice I enjoy outdoor activities with my dog.  We enjoy running, frisbee fetching, spending time at the beach or the neighbor’s pool, visiting with friends, boating, kayaking, or just hanging out and relaxing at the park.  Sometimes when we are traveling with our pets we need to make a pit-stop.  The gas tank might be getting low, you realized you forgot to pack water for the adventure that lies ahead, we need ice to fill up the coolers, or we just need to run into the grocery store and grab a bag of chips to go with the sandwiches that we packed for the picnic.

In the event that you need to leave your pet in the car for a short period of time, be aware that the temperature within your vehicle will increase over time.  The following is a chart that shows how the temperature of the interior of an enclosed vehicle in the sun changes over time.

How the interior temperature of an enclosed vehicle increases in the sun over time

Once again, this is the temperature increase of an enclosed vehicle in the sun.  If you must leave your pet in the car to run into the store, please keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Park in a well shaded area.
  • Keep the windows down at a level that is safe for your pet.  If you have a dog that is likely to jump out of an open window, don’t leave the window down all the way!  If you have a cat that can squeeze through a cracked window, just crack it to a point at which your cat can’t escape.
  • Keep your vehicle running with the air conditioning on.
  • If your pet is in a carrier, or if you have a pet that is well-behaved on a leash, you can likely get by with taking your pet with you into the store.
  • Keep your pit-stops brief.
  • If you have a tendency to get side-tracked, have diarrhea of the mouth when you meet people in the store that you know (or are just meeting), or if your quest for 2 or 3 items often turns into a cart-full, I recommend you never make a pit-stop while your pet is with you.

It is safe for you to travel with your pet, even in the summer months.  Just be mindful and keep any time away from your pet to an absolute minimum.  After all, you wanted to spend time with your pet, didn’t you?  Then do just that!

A message to everyone; pet owners, pet lovers, PETA, HSUS, Animal Welfare Institutions, Animal Rescue Organizations, Animal Control Officers, etc.  I understand that there is a concern for pets that are left alone in vehicles, especially in the extreme temperature months.  Should they be left in vehicles unattended?  Probably not.  Can they be left unattended in vehicles safely?  Absolutely.

If you happen upon an unattended animal in a vehicle, look at the time on your watch/smartphone/car clock.  If the animal appears to be in distress, contact the local animal authorities ASAP!  NEVER take it upon yourself to break a car window or break into a vehicle with an animal in it.  For one, you don’t know that the animal inside isn’t dangerous toward strangers!  Also, you may have just pulled up beside the vehicle as the owner was just entering the store.  A barking, whining or panting dog does NOT indicate distress (at least in terms of temperature).  Perhaps that dog suffers from separation anxiety and it acts out whenever the owner is out of sight (hence why the owner takes it with her regularly).

Be aware of your pet’s comfort level.  If you have a bracheocephalic breed (bulldog, pug, boxer, shih tzu) or an obese pet that struggles to breathe in 70 degree temps at 60% humidity, don’t travel with it if you have to leave it alone in a car for even 5 minutes.  If you have a puppy under 4 months of age or a senior pet over 10 years of age, don’t travel with it if you have to leave it alone in a vehicle for more than 10 minutes.  If you have a dog with severe separation anxiety, talk to your veterinarian about what you can do to manage the behavior.

Once again, this is a topic open for discussion.  Please leave your constructive criticism or comments below.  It’s impossible to hit upon every possible scenario when it comes to pets in vehicles, so lets discuss it!

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What the heck happened to Kool Dogz?

During the summer months, I enjoy to eat and drink things that are ice cold. I enjoy ice cream, iced tea, frozen daiquiris and cold salads to name a few. It seems to help keep my body temperature at a comfortable level.

Why would dogs be any different? Actually, I think they might even appreciate ice cold treats more than I do since they (or most of them) are covered in a fur coat. I have made frozen treats (I like to call them Pupcicles) for my dogs for as long as I can remember. I like to take plain yogurt and mix it with whatever my dogs like (bananas, peanut butter, ground liver, cantaloupe, watermelon, … the possibilities are endless), then I put the mixture into a mold and freeze it. On hot days I pop a Pupcicle out of the mold and give it as a treat. CJ loves them! His favorite flavors are peanut/almond-butter & banana, cantaloupe, watermelon, fig, and berry (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry or any combination). I think he has a bit of a sweet tooth.

About 15 (or more) years ago I heard about this ice treat maker called Kool Dogz, manufactured by Premier Pet Products. I thought it was a pretty “kool” product myself, but never bought one because I was making my own pupcicles anyway.

Fast Forward 5+ Years: We moved from the Mojave Desert to the Eastern Shore of Virginia in 2007. We went from super-hot and dry to hot and humid. Whether or not it was the weather or the age of my dogs after the move, they seemed to tolerate hot and dry much better than hot and humid. Pupcicles went into continuous rotation in the freezer! Then I remembered the Kool Dogz and decided to order one. Best decision ever!

The Kool Dogz ice treat maker looks like this:

The components of a Kool Dogz Ice Treat Maker

There is a bucket (the mold) that allows you to easily combine whatever you want to add to the treat.  That bone-shaped thing attached to a bar is the centerpiece of the mold.  Once you get your stuff mixed, you place the centerpiece in the bucket with the bone to the bottom of the bucket.  There is a little hole in the bucket’s lid that the other end of the centerpiece fits through to hold it in place during freezing.

The empty bucket with centerpiece

LId of bucket/mold in place with centerpiece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once frozen, you remove the lid and slide the ice block out of the bucket and place the end of the centerpiece opposite the bone into the center hole of the drip pan.  The fork screws into the bottom of the drip pan holder so that you can fix it into the earth.  Voila!  Long-lasting ice-treat for your dog!!!  You can freeze anything in this!  You can freeze food, treats and favorite toys that are small enough to fit in the bucket (Kong toys, ball toys, West Paw toys, etc.) in the mold.

Kool Dogz Ice Treat

Chompers and C.J. both loved the Kool Dogz!  However, they did not love it together.  If Chompers was working on the treat, C.J. would stay away.  Good boy, C.J.  If C.J. was at the treat, Chompers would come over to join in, but then C.J. would either move away from it (which was fine) or would lift his lip and warn Chompers not to come any closer (Jerk!).  To allow each dog equal time at the treat, I would let them out in shifts.  First Chompers (because he was older, wiser and not ever a jerk) for 5-10 minutes, then C.J. for 5-10 minutes.  This worked quite well for the first summer.

Chompers enjoying his Kool Dogz ice treat!

Chompers enjoying his ice treat while CJ lingers.

CJ during one of his Kool Dogz shifts!

The following summer I decided I should just have two of these things.  One for each dog and/or so that I could always have one in the freezer.  I first tried to order another through our direct account with Premier at the animal hospital.  They were out of stock.  So I went onto our other supplier’s website and they didn’t have them available either.  Next I went online to try to find one through Amazon, or Chewy or anywhere.  Nobody had them.  They were either listed as out of stock or unavailable.

Some time later we learned that Premier products had been taken over/bought out by another company called RadioPet.  The distributor explained at that time that, because of the change, some products were being discontinued.  Kool Dogz was one of those products.

Not long after Premier products became products of RadioPet, those products then became products of PetSafe.  When this change happened I thought I’d try to find the Kool Dogz (or anything remotely similar to it) again.  Nada.

Just this week the topic came up at work about Kool Dogz, likely because summer is approaching and we have had some lovely warm days in May.  In an effort to locate the product itself or something similar, we did a Google search of Kool Dogz.  Some of our newer peers didn’t know what it was we were seeking, so I clicked on the images tab in the Google search bar.  I didn’t have to scroll very far until I did a double take (which was really a quick scroll back on the mouse).  Something caught my eye.  When I scrolled back up, there it was.  My heart kind of melted a bit.

Chompers enjoying his Kool Dogz Ice Treat

That’s my late Chompers enjoying his Kool Dogz treat, circa 2013!  I’m not entirely sure on my timeline, but judging by his grizzle it has to be somewhere between 2012 and 2014.  His photo has been exploited on an Italian website promoting Ice Treats for dogs!  I’m totally fine with this.  I was quite … taken with emotion that he was chosen to represent this article.

But, now, I want to know WHY ON EARTH has PetSafe, or one of their competitors, NOT tried to recreate this product?!  It is so great!  I have tried to figure a way to rig something else up to duplicate it to no avail.  I have to admit that my  attempts have been lackluster since I do own a Kool Dogz (and I will be hanging on to it!).

I petition that PetSafe bring back Kool Dogz.  Who’s with me?

Tim Kennard 2018

Today was the 15th Annual Tim Kennard 10 Mile River Run & 5K Run/Walk. I registered for the 10 miler about 2 months ago, then promptly injured myself. (If you’ve read my recent blog posts, you know all about my achilles injury!)  I have not run at all in over 6 weeks, so I downgraded myself to the 5K because I knew I wouldn’t be ready for 10 miles.  Walking hasn’t been a problem for me, so I figured I could walk the entire 5K if I had to.

The weather was nice today.  It was cool, in the upper 30’s, with a light breeze.  We could have done without the breeze in these temperatures, but at least it was very light.  It was clear and sunny, so that helped ease the discomfort of the coldness (for me anyway).  I didn’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many half-naked people I saw on the course!  One guy was wearing shorts and no shirt, countless others were in shorts and tanks.  I don’t know how they do it.  I wish I could do that.  If I did, my entire body would seize up with a Raynaud’s event.  I was covered from the tip of my head to my toes, with Hot Hands insole foot warmers in place and hand warmers in the pockets of my jacket. Not my personal ideal running conditions, but I’m happy it wasn’t raining or snowing, or, worse, blowing gale-force winds.  For late March on the middle East Coast, it was decent.

I was dreading the start line, I can’t lie.  I just knew that my first attempt at “lift off” would lead to pain or discomfort and I would be further disheartened.  Did I mention how I have not run an inch in over 6 weeks?  I did a little on the bike and some on the elliptical, but that isn’t running.  My plan was to walk for 5 minutes, then attempt to run until I felt any type of discomfort, then walk/run from that point on as needed.  I don’t know who I was trying to fool because as soon as the gate was open I took off like a dog breaking loose from his leash (only much slower).

To make a short story shorter, I ran the whole darn thing!  I felt good the entire time and finished with a time of 27 minutes and some change.  Nothing close to a PR for a 5K, but way better than I would have ever even thought given my current circumstances.  And I know I’m going to pay for it.  That dull ache on the lateral side of my achilles has been there since I started my heel lift exercises prescribed by my PT.  My PT has not cleared me for running yet, but she knew I was going to walk/run this 5K.  She told me if it hurts to stop!  It never hurt beyond that dull ache.  So I continued and pushed through.  I finished with an official time of 27:31.  WHOA.  I was bookin’ it harder than I realized.

Because I already registered for the run way back when I figured I’d, at least, show up and get my shirt and take a DNS.  Then I could support and encourage all of the other runners!  Thankfully I was able to default to lesser mileage.  I knew in my brain I needed to take it easy, but I didn’t…

I haven’t run in 6+weeks and managed to pull this out of my ass today.  I’m going to pay for it in the coming days and will likely get a scolding from my PT this week.  I didn’t want to do this, it just happened!  The dangers of organized races.  It gives me hope for the marathon that I will not run in late April!  But maybe, just MAYBE I will be able to do the half?

I say as I am icing my ankle/achilles and noticing some swelling and such.

At least I got some cool stuff this year!  Awesome shirt and my first bling from Tim Kennard!

 

Run for the Animals is next.  From now til then it will be determined whether or not I might be able to do a half marathon (marathon is OUT) in Salisbury on April 28.  I’m going to go for it!

PT =

My PT is PT with my PT is turning into PT and PT.  Totally makes sense, right?  If you need help deciphering this message, here’s the key:

Personal Trial | Physical Therapy | Physical Therapist | Positivity Therapy | Patience Testing

As of Tuesday this week I have started my Physical Therapy for my achilles tendon injury.  After meeting with the Physical Therapist, there’s a very slight chance I might be able to run my marathon in late April.  One of my major downfalls is that I haven’t been keeping up with enough cardio exercises to maintain my aerobic capacity.  I was hesitant to do too much bike riding, wasn’t sure if the elliptical would be okay, and in performing HIIT exercises I have to modify most of them to not strain my ankle and achilles tendon.  My Physical Therapist told me on Tuesday that the elliptical would be fine (and is recommended) for this type of injury until I can get back to running again.

Dang.  I wish it didn’t take so long to get an appointment to see her because I could’ve been training on the elliptical all this time.  But now I know and will train as much as is safely possible from here on out.

I have had zero achilles tendon pain in over 2 weeks since I’m not running at all and I have been modifying all of my activities.  According to my PT that means I no longer have tendinitis, but am now in tendinosis.  What does that mean?  It means that the inflammation has subsided but the tendon is still damaged so I have to be extra careful from here on out so as not to rupture the tendon.  No pressure!

Apparently I can “fix” or better this and that is the focus of my therapy; to remodel the scar tissue that has formed at the tendon.  The average time to full recovery is about 3-6 months.  My marathon is in 6 weeks, so when I said there was a slight chance I might be able to run it I really meant that I probably won’t be running it.  However, the positive is that I will be able to run some by then, and should be able to run/walk a half marathon as long as I take it super slow and easy, and if I feel any pain or discomfort at all to stop.  I have been in touch with the coordinators of the run and they have the course mapped out such that I can make my decision to go all the way or half-way while I’m running!  So, no matter what, I will be running that race in April!  I will likely not be running 26.2 miles, but will hopefully be able to complete 13.1 miles at a super slow and steady run/walk.

As for the other runs I have scheduled prior to the marathon, I can still participate in both.  I will not be running the Tim Kennard 10 Mile River Run, but I will be participating in the 5K Fun Run/Walk and will walk most of it.  I will not be running the half marathon portion of the Run for the Animals this year, but I will definintely be able to run the 5K and maybe run/walk the 10K.  Thankfully I have until race day to decide which one I want to and will be able to do.

So there you have it.  I will be ultra-diligent with my PT exercises for sure, and will be utilizing the elliptical machines at the Y very regularly in the next several weeks.  Though I will not be able to perform the way I had set out at the beginning of the year, at least I 1) can still perform at all and 2) can heal and recover to come out even stronger next time around!

Never lose sight of what is truly important to you.  Choose to find the positive in everything; even if you have to search really hard for it, it is there…always.

Runners are Crazy; Injured Runners are Crazier

Have you ever had that feeling like you are out of control? A feeling like your life is just getting away from you? I feel that way lately and I know why. It’s because I am supposed to be training for a 10 miler in late March, a half marathon in mid-April and a marathon in late April. However, an achilles tendon injury has me sidelined, so all that planning and scheduling I did for February, March and April was all for naught. I’m trying to stay active and moving, modifying strength-training workouts and cardio workouts to keep my achilles happy, but I feel lost since I’m not running. Those workouts cannot replace the feeling you get after finishing a long run, or a fast 5K, or just an easy run.

I’m having a really difficult time with this. I know I am not the only person in the world to suffer an injury during training, and others have suffered much worse injuries than what I’m dealing with! My friend Jen was training for an ultramarathon last year and slipped during a training run and broke her ankle. She was sidelined for a very long time, but after her doctors gave her the okay to start again, she did. She trained safely, she trained intelligently, she listened to her body and she completed that ultra this year! I respect her and look up to her and hope that I can be as strong as she was with my puny little injury. She’s a hero in my book.

My appointment for Physical Therapy isn’t until March 13, 2018. It’s just a few days away thank goodness, but I’ve been waiting since mid-February. It’s the waiting and wondering, “am I going to be able to run any of my upcoming races?” that’s making me feel out-of-control and lost. Am I crazy? Of course…I’m a runner.

2018 5K & Firetruck Pull to benefit Area 19 Special Olympics Virginia Athletes

Come join us at the Onancock Elks Lodge #1766 in Accomac, VA for the 3rd Annual 5K & Firetruck Pull to Benefit Area 19 Special Olympics Virginia Athletes!  The event will take place, rain or shine, on Saturday April 21, 2018 at 22454 Front Street in Accomac, VA.  You can visit the event page for more information.

If you are interested in the 5K, you can download a printable registration form by clicking on the following link:  Elks 5K Registration and Waiver.  Complete the form and return it to the Lodge with your registration fee.  I will be coordinating the run, so if you have any questions about it feel free to contact me at animalwhiz@yahoo.com.

If you have any questions about the Firetruck Pull, you can contact the Lodge or message me and I will find out the information for you.

This is a really great, fun event for all ages and supports a wonderful cause.  Help us make it the best yet!

 

The Running Gods have something to tell me…

…and I’m not liking it.

I started training for the Salisbury Marathon early this year. Things have been going well, considering most of my training runs have occurred on the treadmill because I am a fair-weather runner.  Then I decided to do incline/hill work during one of my interval training runs.  When I finished that run, I felt a minor strain in the back of my right ankle.  So I took it easy the next couple of runs.  I didn’t notice any problems.

One night, while sitting around at home recovering from the day, I was fiddling around with my training schedule and trying to coordinate local runs with my training plan.  I hopped online and registered for both the Tim Kennard 10 Mile River Run and The Run for the Animals half marathon.  I had myself pumped!  Very much looking forward to both runs preceding the marathon.  About a week later, I got sick.

When you’re training for something like a marathon, you just don’t have time to get sick!  It was a severe upper respiratory thing, and I had to take a break from running until my lungs cleared of all the mucus so I could breathe.  I ended up taking 8 days off.  During the first week after recovering from my URTI, I eased myself back into the runs.  I shortened my scheduled training runs by about 25%.  The next week I was pretty close to being back on track!  Then that pain in the back of my right ankle started to creep up again.  It wasn’t severe or debilitating, but I do know that when your body is eliciting pain, it’s telling you something is wrong.  When I lift weights, the next day or two afterward I feel pain, but there isn’t anything really wrong going on in this case, right?  I (foolishly) took the same approach to the pain I was feeling in the back of my ankle.

I had a 12 mile training run to complete this week.  The weather was gorgeous on Tuesday so I decided to get it in since I had the day off from work.  I did my usual 10 minute warm-up which consists of a lot of dynamic stretching through yoga techniques.  I took it nice and easy since I had that slight tinge of pain in the back of the ankle, and by mile 6 or 7 I started to feel more pain.  At that point I started to add in some walk breaks.  During the walk breaks my ankle felt fine.  Then, almost immediately as I started to run again the pain came right back.  I had to make my way back home so continued my run/walk intervals.  I finished my 12 miles.  I did my usual post-run stretching, foam rolled and took a hot shower.  I teach SoulBody Barre Unhitched at our local YMCA on Tuesday evenings, so I needed to clean up and I continued to stretch and move around so as not to tighten up prior to class.

I felt good, and my ankle seemed fine, but there was a very minor dull ache.  When I started teaching class that night, as soon as I had to do a toe-point, I felt the back of my right ankle.  Then, while performing a plié jump, OUCH!  Yikes.  That really hurt.  So I modified throughout the rest of class.

When I got home I started to panic a little, not gonna lie.  So I did what we are ALL guilty of when something like this happens…I jumped online and posted in my running groups on Facebook for advice, then googled ankle/achilles injuries and how to handle them.  The more I read, the more freaked out I became.  I even pulled out my Netter’s Musculoskeletal Flash Cards.  I self-diagnosed myself with Achilles Tendinitis.  I am not going to be able to run my marathon, I feared in my head.

The Achilles

Conditions of the Achilles Tendon

 

Before you go on to chastise me for consulting with “Dr. Google,” like so many did in one of my Facebook running groups, I work in the veterinary field (and blog myself) and I know better than to take the advice of any web-based recommendation without first consulting with my Physician.  I was merely seeking advice from others who have experienced similar injuries, and I appreciated all of those who shared their experiences.

The next morning I called my Doctor’s office to get an appointment ASAP to get an official diagnosis and, hopefully, a prescription for Physical Therapy.  My appointment isn’t until Monday (I am writing this on the Saturday prior to my appointment).

In the meantime, I’m “on the bench” and not running at all until I get some answers.  I’m following the standard RICE procedure for injuries.  As I sit here writing this post, my right leg is elevated with a cold compress on the affected area.  I currently have zero pain, but I do have some swelling and a little “bump” in the middle of my Achilles.

If the running Gods do have it in for me, I’ll find out for sure next week.  If they’re just trying to challenge me, they’re doing a pretty damn good job of it!  I will (begrudgingly) take a DNS over a NRA.  Who knows, maybe I won’t have to worry about either!  Please feel free to share your running injury experiences in the comments, or whatever else you’d like share.  I’ll hopefully have some good news to report early next week.  Stay tuned…