The war on ticks!

The war on ticks!

   Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on products designed to kill fleas and ticks on pets!

eeek a tick   Are we winning the war? Probably not; fleas can be a real nuisance for dogs, but ticks seem almost impossible to conquer.

They are super resistant to insecticides and can live for long periods without food. Like a science fiction nightmare, ticks latch on to their host and bury their heads in the flesh, drinking the victim’s blood. Blood is their only meal, in fact.

Ticks are terrible for small dogs; tick control can be even worse

Ticks are extremely difficult to control and prevent, even with the most effective products.

But what’s better? Heavy chemicals to keep ticks away, or the risk of tick bites and disease? These chemical treatments can really tax your small dog’s liver and other organs. Some products are safer than others, but let’s face it – these are powerful insecticides, formulated to poison life.

The battle is on.sad-morkie

There are four main commercial options for fighting ticks and fleas:

  1. Spot-on products
  2. Flea and tick collars
  3. Powders and sprays
  4. Oral medications

And there’s the option to vaccinate your Morkie against Lyme Disease, one of the main infections that female ticks can carry.

Not one of these options is good for a dog like a Morkie.  Why?

Morkies (and other small dogs) have the documented, WORST adverse reaction to spot-on products in particular. No surprise – these are basically killer insecticides.

The EPA’s findings

In 2010, after extensive study, the Environmental Protection Agency published its findings:


↓ the most commonly affected organ systems were skin, gastrointestinal (digestive), and nervous.

↓ small breed dogs were affected more than larger breeds for some products – one reason why – all dogs are given the same dosage of some of the treatments!

↓ most flea and tick products contain chemicals that are, in their words, “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”  So what about small dogs?

The worst offender – spot-on products

These have been identified as the worst treatments for small dogs. We may think that the liquid dose we apply between the dog’s shoulders once a month is safe. The idea is that when he shakes, that dose of pesticide gets distributed throughout this coat. The problem is, it also makes its way throughout the dog’s entire system. And it’s poison.

So what can you do?

Read all you can about tick treatment. If you decide to go ahead, then:

  • be sure your dog gets the lowest possible dose
  • think twice before treating every year: you can get your dog tested for signs of tick infection instead. There is some research that shows treating annually is over-kill.
  • consider the non-toxic way to go: keep your dog away from environments where ticks thrive; clear your home and yard of dangers; inspect your dog daily and spot & remove any ticks; and test annually.

   To learn more about the potentially-deadly effects of flea and tick treatment on small dogs, you can check out my new book at Amazon.  It’s on for a limited time for 99 cents and you can read it on your Kindle, ipad, computer, laptop or smartphone.


Doggy Danger in your Compost

Doggy Danger in your Compost

Composting is great… unless you’re a curious Morkie.

digging in gardenThose fruits, veggies, leftover pasta, corn cobs, coffee grinds… well you get the picture. All these foods melding together to eventually form beautifully rich earth.  But in the meantime they’re also producing molds which in turn can produce mycotoxin (“mike-o-toxins”) or toxic molds.

These are some of the deadliest natural poisons out there.  Even a small amount of toxic mold can cause serious health problems like muscle tremors, trouble walking and generally ‘drunken’ behaviour by your Morkie.

A slightly larger amount can cause severe tremors, seizures and death.

What to do if your dog has been into the compost

Symptoms hit about 30 to 60 minutes after the dog has eaten the toxic food.  If you see any of these indicators, call your Vet right away:

  • agitation
  • hyperthermia (increased temperature)
  • vomiting
  • panting
  • drooling
  • tremors
  • seizures


Your Veterinarian will probably get your dog to vomit and may give him a dose of thumb_sick-yorkie_1024activated charcoal to help absorb toxins from the GI tract.  An alcohol bath might be used to lower the animal’s temperature.

Once treated, the dog will probably be kept in the hospital on IV fluids and given muscle relaxants to reduce tremors.  Antibiotics also help if there’s diarrhea.

Although there’ s no real cure for mycotoxic poisoning, most dogs recover well, especially if they’re treated quickly.

Other sources of toxic mold

  • Moldy food from your fridge or pantry should be tossed in a secure garbage container.  (Try bungee cords to keep it closed).
  • Keep your dog away from road-kill, dead birds and small animals
  • Be careful letting him loose in the forest; moldy rotting leaves can be dangerous, along with more dead animals!

More tips to keep your dog safe

  • Don’t compost dairy and meat products – bones are another danger and that stuff shouldn’t be composted anyway
  • Pick up fallen fruit or nuts from trees before your dog goes out
  • Fence the compost pile well or use a bin that has a secure closure – wild animals should be kept out too


Just say NOOOO to raisins and grapes

Just say NOOOO to raisins and grapes

Mini box of raisins can poison your Morkie

A friend of mine has just come through hell – her toddler fed their 2-year-old Morkie one of the tiny, tiny snack packs of raisins.  Sun-Maid says there are about 14 raisins per box, weighing in at 1/2 ounce.

But that was enough to nearly kill their small dog.

The first hint of a problem came when the dog was very sick – vomiting and diarrhea. She was very, very quiet and lethargic and seemed to have abdominal pain.

Luckily my friend found the tiny raisin box and put 2 and 2 together.  She got the dog to vomit, thanks to a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water, administered with an eye dropper. Meanwhile she called her Vet to say  they were on their way. The Morkie was put on IV and underwent a battery of tests to see if her kidneys were failing – the result of grape or raisin poisoning that almost always leads to a painful death.

Although blood tests don’t always show the toxicity of raisins, they do show other signs including increased blood calcium, phosphorous and creatinine.  

The Vet put the dog on dialysis for about 36 hours until the good news – no permanent kidney damage! Thanks to the aggressive – and very expensive – treatment, the Morkie’s life was spared.

What makes grapes and raisins so toxic?

Scientists don’t actually know exactly what makes grapes so toxic, just that they can be deadly especially to a small dog. The ASPCA reports that a dog may get into grapes and eat some and be fine one time, then the next time, be deadly ill.

What if my dog eats grapes or raisins?

poisonVR_041813_vr_tif_The first response should be to induce vomiting – unless the dog is already in and out of consciousness.  Keep a small bottle of hydrogen peroxide handy if you have a dog, and mix 1 teaspoon with 1 teaspoon of water.

Give this to the dog, via eye dropper if necessary, up to 3 times. But do contact your Vet or an emergency clinic right away too.  If your small dog has eaten raisins or grapes, his life may well depend on your fast action.

Keep regular hydrogen peroxide from the drug store handy in your home if you have a dog.  It can be mixed with equal parts water and given to the dog to induce vomiting. 

Foods dogs should never eat

Foods dogs should never eat

We know dogs should not eat chocolate… but did you know…

bakers chocolate squares

Just one square of Bakers Chocolate could kill your Morkie or other small dog

Just one square of Unsweetened Bakers Chocolate could kill a small dog like a Morkie!

With Easter approaching fast, it’s good to remind ourselves just how dangerous chocolate can be.  There are two culprits in chocolate – the caffeine and theobromine, which is even more dangerous.

Unlike people, dogs don’t break down theobromine very quickly. So what we can easily handle, could make your dog very, very ill or worse. Theobromine is also found in tea and cola products.

Be sure to keep all Easter goodies away from your dogs.

Another danger: cocoa shell mulch

With its fine texture and sweet smell, cocoa bean mulch is becoming popular with gardeners; it looks great and keeps your plants and shrubs moist and weed-free.  But like chocolate, it can contain toxic amounts of theobromine.  If your dog eats this mulch, he could get very sick or even die.


Cocoa bean mulch looks great in your garden, but it can be poisonous to dogs.

Symptoms of cocoa bean mulch ingestion in dogs include:

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Death

More foods your dog can’t eat

1. Alcohol – think it’s funny that your dog acts drunk? Just a small amount can cause vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, problems with coordination, difficulty breathing, coma, even death. And the smaller the dog, the greater the effect.

2.  Coffee, Tea, and Other Caffeine – no surprise since chocolate is a major source of caffeine too. But I remember letting my little dog lap up some sweetened tea from the saucer – she loved it – and I shudder.  The really sad part is, there is no antidote for caffeine poisoning.

3.  Grapes and raisins.  We don’t know why, but we do know that grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. And just a small amount can make a dog ill.  In fact as few as 7 grapes could kill a toy dog!

4. Candy and gum – are often sweetened with Xylitol which can cause an increase in the insulin circulating through your dog’s body. That in turn can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop dangerously.  Plus, Xylitol can cause liver failure.  Although it occurs naturally, Xylitol is a dangerous sugar alcohol – definitely not good for dogs.

For more  foods dogs should never eat…



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