K9 Corner, Feb. 14

Published 8:23 am Tuesday, February 14, 2017

By HELEN PALMER

Contributing columnist

Can dogs catch diseases from humans? How about humans catching something from dogs?
I don’t believe that there are too many diseases that can be passed from one species to another; however, there are a number of ailments that are shared.
For example, my first dog came down with tonsillitis. She was entered in a dog show and I was taking her to the handler’s home in Louisville, when I realized she was coughing and at times gagging. When I looked into her mouth, there was some white mucus in the back of the throat. I decided to take her to a veterinarian before going to Louisville. It was then that I learned that dogs can get tonsillitis. I also learned that a temperature of 103 degrees in a dog is “when I start pushing the panic button,” according to the veterinarian.
Fast forward 40 years, I have learned in that time that dogs are subject to pancreatitis, liver failure, congestive heart failure, kidney problems, all sorts of digestive problems and a number of hereditary defects ranging from hair lip, malocclusion and rolled eyelid to hip dysplasia. Some dogs are born with extra toes, some with extra teeth. One of my dogs had a pituitary malfunction.
Dogs can get cancer and all sorts of skin lesions. If the cancer is discovered early enough, the prognosis can be good. If the skin lesions are not treated, the animal is miserable and eventually open sores will appear which attract flies in the warm weather. I know of one dog that died from a heavy infestation of maggots.
In winter time, dogs are subject to hypothermia and freezing just like humans. With most breeds, the furry coats are not sufficient to protect the animal from windy low temperatures. Even the northern sled dogs need a large accumulation of dry snow in which to burrow in order to keep warm. Ears, feet and tails are the most vulnerable parts when exposed to sub-freezing temperatures along with winds.
In 1989, when the wind chills were hovering around 60 below zero – yes, here in Kentucky, — I wrapped each dog’s head in a knitted hood I had before I let it out to relieve itself. I didn’t have to worry about the dogs staying out too long, they were more anxious than I was to get back in quickly.
If your dog, like my 40-pound standard schnauzer, has to stay out any length of time, you should provide a shelter that is raised above the snow level, is insulated, has a windbreak around the door and is just large enough for the dog to move and turn around in. The small interior of the shelter will allow the dog’s body heat to warm the shelter. I used straw for the bedding. It was easy to change when it got wet and if enough was provided, the dog was able to burrow into it for additional protection. When I downsized to a six pound papillon, she was not allowed to be outside without supervision because of the hawks.