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Spirit of the Valley
The Magazine of Mountain Wellness

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OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2005 - THE HARVEST & ENVIRONMENT ISSUE

 

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Healthy Environment,

Healthy Hound

by Ginger Ferries

 

Since this issue revolves around the environmental, I thought it appropriate to talk about the environment in which your dog lives, meaning your home, your car, and the places you frequent with your dog. In past issues, I’ve talked about your dog’s health from an emotional level, suggesting ways to show your love and gratitude for your beloved companion.  Your environment contributes a great deal to your dog’s health as well.  

 

Dirty Dishes

Let’s start with something as simple and basic as dog feeding bowls.  What condition are they in?  Most importantly, how often are they cleaned (if ever)?  I have seen some pretty nasty looking bowls, so nasty I wouldn’t blame a starving dog for not wanting to eat or drink from them.  I see these immaculate homes with cabinets full of sparkly clean dishes.  The resident would rather die than to eat off of a dirty, grimy dish yet doesn’t bat an eye when feeding his hound out of the same dirty dish day in and day out.  Imagine the bacteria that grow in those bowls and then imagine that bacteria being gulped down with every drop of water.  That green grime that grows in your dog’s bowl can be detrimental to his health.  If compromised in any way, your dog’s immune system cannot defend itself from those slimy, grimy bacteria, which in turn will make him very ill.  Wash your dog’s food and water bowls with hot, soapy water and let them air dry at least a few times each week.  Do this and I bet that any persistent digestive problem like diarrhea will go away. The best type of bowl for your dog to drink and eat from is stainless steel because the material won’t absorb toxic chemicals into the food and water.  Other materials like glazed pottery, aluminum and plastic can. 

 

The Air They Breathe

Another thing to think about is the air your dog breathes while inside.  There are many contributors to polluted air in our homes like chemical based cleaners, air fresheners and even the very products our carpets are made of.  Think about the time your dog spends lying around on your carpeted floor, breathing in the chemicals it’s made from and the products you’ve sprinkled on it to keep it “fresh” and “clean”.  Read the labels folks and do your research.  Almost every household product out there is chemical based, which can have a very negative effect on your dog.  He is much lower to the ground than you, which makes him more susceptible.  Red, watery eyes, a runny nose, itchy skin and sore pads can all result from chemical based cleaners used in the home.  There are several companies out there today that make environmentally friendly cleaning products for your home.  Not only will you be doing your dog a big favor but you’ll be helping yourself and your family as well.  And they work!

Remember to always turn your car off when running an errand.  Not only are you polluting the air with an idle engine, you are directly endangering your dog when left in the car.  By leaving a window open to allow Cowboy fresh air while you’re away, you may be polluting his lungs with the very air you’re providing if you leave your car running.  The exhaust can flow freely into the car where your cherished dog is waiting.  Be sure to keep your car free of potentially hazardous material like antifreeze.  If you must carry an emergency supply, stash it in a safe place where Cowboy can’t get to it and where it won’t spill.  It’s amazing what I’ve seen in cars where Cowboy is expected to share space.  Would you happily lie down next to a chain saw while driving down the road at 60 miles per hour? 

 

What’s in the Water?

When taking your dog on a hike or to a beautiful watering hole for a cool dip, check for potential water hazards. Many streams, rivers, lakes and ponds can carry pollutants, algae, bacteria and parasites, or the protozoan giardia.  Giardia is waterborne and is common in most fresh water.  Transmitted through feces of an infected animal, giardia effects dogs and humans alike if the infected water is digested.  One way to avoid any of these water-ridden hazards is by carrying either a fresh water supply or a water filter to assure you and your dog are getting clean, fresh water.  Because this won’t stop Cowboy from jumping in, the best and safest thing to do is to take him to a place where you know for certain there is no threat.  Swimming pools can also pose a threat because of the toxic chemicals they hold.  Never let your dog drink from a swimming pool.  If your dog jumps or falls into a swimming pool, he may find it difficult if not impossible to get out.  As a general rule, steer your dog clear of a pool altogether. 

Keeping your home environment healthy should be a no-brainer.  Do your part and you’ll find your dog just may stay around longer.  Wouldn’t that be nice!

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Ginger is owner of Hound Around, a certified canine massage therapist, and a member of Animal Hospice/Compassionate Crossings.  

If you or someone you know is losing or has lost a loving animal companion and would like support, Animal Hospice Compassionate Crossings (AHCC) can help.   Contact 726.9606 or go to www.animalhospice.org for further information.