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K9 celebration: Throw parties for dogs with care

By HELEN PALMER

K9 Corner

“Can dogs get cavities? Can I celebrate my dog’s birthday with ice cream and cake?”

The answer to your first question is yes, dogs can get cavities. However, according to “Canine Medicine” published by American Veterinary Publications, dental decay in a dog or cat progresses differently than in a human.

Cavities in a human are most frequently located on the top of the molar or in the enamel. “In the dog and cat the process usually starts at the enamel-dentin junction under the edge of the gingiva (or gum), according to “Canine Medicine.”

Once a cavity occurs in the dog, the decay rapidly progresses and destroys the pulp tissues and the rest of the tooth from within. Usually the decay is not noticed until it is impossible to save the tooth or teeth and they are extracted.

To answer your second question, ice cream and cake are off your dog’s menu, even if it is his birthday. Why not have a special birthday party and serve the humans the ice cream and cake and the invited canine guests some yummy liver-flavored treat?

You need to be careful that none of the dogs are on a special diet. Some dogs have a problem digesting normal dog food and need a special menu. If one of your canine guests needs a really special food, ask the owner to bring some so no dog is left out when it is time to celebrate with a snack.

Besides cavities, dogs can suffer from liver problems, kidney problems, heart disease and problems of the pancreas. All of these require some sort of special food, so be sure to ask when you issue the invitation if the animal requires a special diet.

Talking of diets, some dogs are overweight and need low-calorie snacks. I hope those owners will bring the required treats for their own dogs since some of these animals think that various vegetables are the yummiest of treats and we would never consider them as such for dogs.

This can be a fun party with games involving the dogs. One game might be to control the dog at a starting point while the owner runs off and hides. Then the owner calls out the dog’s name and “Find me” or “Where am I?” and the released dog tries to locate the owner. Without some prior practice, the dog might need another signal from the owner before he finds her. The “found” handler should praise, pet and reward the dog for completing the game. If all the dogs have similar training and there is a prize at the end, consider having a time-keeper and the dog that finds his owner in the least amount of time gets the prize. This award can be something for the dog to chew on, but it should not be anything sweet.

Check the Boyle County library for books on other games and tricks to teach your dog. Winter snow days are perfect times to teach your dog new games and tricks.