Training Tip Tuesday – A Tired Dog is a Good Dog

Training Tip Tuesday – A Tired Dog is a Good Dog

By: Kim Astle

Dogs need a mix of physical and mental exercise to be balanced… Here’s why.

Dogs need mental stimulation. 30 minutes of mental stimulation equals an hour of physical exercise. The more you exercise your dog, physically, the more stamina they will build up. So, in turn, it takes longer to tired them out.

Activities like licking or sniffing help them decompress mentally. This is really important for puppies and adolescent dogs.

So many dogs are hyper because they haven’t learned to switch between high excitement and low excitement and disengage. To disengage is to learn that just because something is exciting doesn’t mean they have to interact with it.

Introduce calm and rest one or two days a week. This can be a game changer, especially for reactive or anxious dogs who need down time to absorb and process emotions and learning. Without rest days, they can plateau or even regress.

Blog and graphic by Kim Astle, one of Ruff Start Rescue’s volunteer trainers, who focus on supporting our fosters and helping create successful dogs.

The Story of Malina

WARNING: Graphic Photos

Malina was brought into rescue a week and a half ago. She had obviously been fighting to survive for quite some time. Her neck was enlarged, infected, and a source of pain.

When her rescuers discovered her, they reached out to a Ruff Start volunteer who reached out for a foster, and Malina joined the rescue. The home Malina was found in also had a male adult cat, and together they had 2 kittens. The kittens joined Ruff Start on Saturday, and the male went home with the rescuers to work on his socialization before being placed with a foster.

Malina has been incredibly loving and affectionate in her foster home. It’s amazing that she still has so much love to give, despite how poorly she has been cared for in the past. She’s starting to talk and chatter a bit, and she’s learning to play with toys! We don’t know if she was played with much before, as she was unsure of what to do with toys at first. She’s very curious and has done well with the other cats in her foster home. She will be able to interact more with them when her quarantine ends.

At this time, Malina is on antibiotics. She has a checkup with Ruff Start’s vetting team on Tuesday to see if she’s healing well enough with medicine alone or if she needs surgical repair of any of her wounds.

Malina has so much life left, and we are determined to make sure she gets the best care possible so she can live it happily. Can you please help us ensure that by making a gift toward her care?

The Dangerous Truth About Rawhide

 The Dangerous Truth About Rawhide

By: Kristin Johnson

As fur-parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that we’re keeping our canine companions safe and healthy. Sometimes that’s no easy feat considering their endless energy and love of chewing anything they can get their paws on!

Providing our pups with an outlet for their need to chew is important – it relieves anxiety, burns energy, helps with teething, and satisfies their instinct to use those teeth! There are many options on the market today, and one such option is rawhide. Though rawhide chews have been around since the 1950s, it is becoming more widely known that they can be dangerous (and even fatal) for our canine companions – but why?

What is rawhide?

Rawhide is the hypodermic interstitial tissue, the inner layer of animal hide, typically from cows raised for meat production. While the outer layer of the hide is used for leather products, the inner layer is used to produce dog chews. It is tough yet flexible due to its high level of collagen. It is washed and sterilized with a variety of (often harmful) chemicals, such as sodium sulfide, lime, chromium salts, bleach, and hydrogen peroxide. It is then molded and dyed to form what you see in pet stores today.

Rawhide chews are long-lasting because they’re tough to chew through. Depending on how the dog chews, it will generally take them a long time to break off any pieces. The rawhide will usually soften and break down over the time it takes for them to chew through it. The smaller pieces that are softened, broken down, and chewed thoroughly can pass through a dog’s digestive system when consumed slowly, but it is best if they are not swallowed.

What are the risks of giving my dog rawhide?

Though dogs may love this convenient, long-lasting chew, there are several life-threatening health risks that come with chewing and consuming rawhide.

  • Choking hazard: When dogs consume rawhide chews too small for their size or break off large chunks without chewing them properly, it poses a choking hazard. The rawhide may get stuck in the trachea or esophagus, blocking their airway and creating a life-threatening veterinary emergency.
  • Intestinal blockages and digestive issues: Rawhide is highly indigestible and can wreak havoc on a dog’s digestive system. The most fatal risk of consuming rawhide is an intestinal blockage. When dogs don’t adequately chew pieces they break off of the rawhide, it may become lodged in their digestive tract. Rawhide swells several times its size when wet, so it is possible that even smaller pieces can cause a blockage. A blockage can lead to severe abdominal pain, fluid loss and dehydration, intestinal rupture, infection, and even death.
  • Harmful chemicals: As mentioned earlier, rawhide chews are produced with a variety of harmful chemicals and toxins due to limited regulation of its production. You may also find formaldehyde, lead, arsenic, and strychnine in rawhide produced in countries other than the U.S.
  • Contamination: Bacterial contamination has happened often with rawhide production over the years, so much so that the FDA has issued several major recalls. Campylobacter, salmonella, and E. coli have all been detected in rawhide products, which are harmful to both canines and humans.

How can I determine what’s best for my dog?

It’s important to remember that rawhide isn’t the only type of chew that could get your pup into trouble and it’s best to educate yourself (and others!) on the importance of choosing the right product. Though it’s easy to stay away from the word “rawhide,” it’s our duty as fur-parents to learn what’s best for our dogs. Things to consider when choosing a chew, treat, or toy for your dog include:

  • Chewing style: Some dogs take their time chewing. They may even be slow, methodical, and careful about it! On the other hand, some dogs inhale just about anything edible (or not) as quickly as possible. Many toys and chews on the market today list the chewing style on the product packaging, usually as soft, moderate, or aggressive. Make sure you know what your dog’s chewing style is and select a product accordingly. Rawhide is most dangerous for aggressive chewers.
  • Size and breed: We know that dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and the size of their teeth, jaw, and throat are important to consider when determining the best product for chewing. Like chewing style, this is often listed on product packaging small, medium, and large in reference to the weight of your dog. It’s a good idea to talk to your vet about what they recommend for your dog when considering their body type.
  • Health history: Dogs with a history of gastrointestinal issues should avoid rawhide due to its lack of digestibility and the exposure to harsh chemicals. It is almost guaranteed to wreak havoc on a sensitive stomach, and dogs that are more susceptible to these issues are at a greater risk for acute pancreatitis, which can result in death. When choosing a chew or treat, make sure you consider digestibility and what your dog’s digestive system has reacted well to in the past.
  • Age: Age is important when it comes to chewing! Puppies have different needs than an adult or senior dog. Teething puppies need softer chews that will protect and massage their delicate baby teeth, while adult dogs can handle harder chews that are designed for dental cleaning and mental stimulation. Senior dogs may have weakened muscle tone and bone structure in addition to sensitive gums and teeth that require soft chews. Hard chews such as rawhide may cause a jaw or tooth fracture.

What are the safe alternatives to rawhide?

There are numerous alternatives to rawhide on the market today. The more you pay attention to what your dog likes and needs, the easier it will be to find the safest product for your dog! We suggest trying:

  • Kong toys: Kong toys are the go-to brand for many dog owners for a reason! They come in just about every shape and size you could imagine, and dogs love their texture for chewing. They’re interactive, inexpensive, and very durable.
  • Bully sticks: Bully sticks are long-lasting, easily digestible, clean your dog’s teeth, and are an excellent source of protein. Conveniently, dogs love them! They come in all shapes and sizes, but Best Bully Sticks is a popular choice.
  • No-Hide chews: Earth Animal is a brand that makes long-lasting chews that resemble rawhide called No-Hide. Unlike most rawhide, it’s USA-made, easily digestible, and free from toxic chemicals. It comes in different flavors so you can choose what’s most appealing for your pup!
  • Antlers: Naturally-shed antlers are a great option for the adult aggressive chewers. They’re long-lasting, a natural source of minerals, and are unlikely to splinter.

The Story of Adira

Running down the streets of Houston being shot at. This was Adira’s reality before she was rescued.

10-week-old Adira was rescued by a couple who encountered teenagers running after a small puppy, shooting her with a BB gun. The couple grabbed Adira to keep her safe. Luckily, she had sustained no injuries from the BBs. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to keep her in their home and would struggle to feed her. They posted her in a Facebook group commonly used to rehome animals in Houston, and a Ruff Start foster immediately went to pick her up.

We thought her troubled days were behind her when she joined Ruff Start, but Adira then began having seizures. She was very skinny and had been living on the streets, which led us to believe the seizures were a symptom of low blood sugar. To confirm the reasoning, Adira visited the vet the next day. While she was there, the vet found ringworm on all four of her paws and her tail, which can be treated with medication. They tested her blood sugar, but it was within the normal range. With that, the vet’s best guess was that she has a congenital liver shunt, which would likely require surgery, medication, a special diet, and follow-up appointments.

When Adira continued to have 1-4 seizures a day, her foster knew she had to resolve the problem and rushed her to an emergency vet. The doctor determined it wasn’t a liver shunt – her blood and liver values were normal. There she stayed the night for observation and was put on anticonvulsant medication, which helped her seizures subside. The vet then considered the possibility that Adira may be having seizures due to a viral infection. At that point, they decided to run additional tests and send Adira back to her foster home while we await further test results.

Adira is doing well in her foster home and is slowly regaining her energy and becoming a playful puppy. She’s very sweet and soaks up all the love; she enjoys napping like a baby in her foster’s arms. 💕 She is in the best care while we await test results, and she is stable for the time being. As a rescue, we will continue to do whatever is possible to ensure the best quality of life for Adira.

We appreciate our community’s support when unexpected costs like these arise. Can you help us help Adira so she can live a happy, healthy life in Minnesota?

Betty White Challenge 2023

“Animals are near and dear to my heart, and I’ve devoted my life to trying to improve their lives.” -Betty White

Today would have been animal advocate Betty White’s 101st birthday. In honor of Betty and the amazing work she accomplished in her lifetime, we’ve received a $5,200 matching donation from our friends at Audiology Concepts.

The #BettyWhiteChallenge encourages people to get involved with their local animal rescue or shelter. This includes donations, of course, but also volunteering, fostering, or even adopting an animal looking for their forever home. Ruff Start Rescue would be honored if you chose to memorialize Betty by supporting RSR in one of these ways to help animals in need. If you donate today, you can double your impact!

The Story of Kiki and her puppies

Kiki the Great Dane was picked up as a very pregnant stray by a Good Samaritan in Fort Smith, Arkansas. On Christmas Eve, she gave birth to 12 puppies! Everyone in Arkansas fell in love with Kiki. She’s the epitome of a gentle giant and is sweet and docile.

Ruff Start is partnering with Best Friends Animal Society to bring Kiki’s family and other dogs in AR to MN to help with shelter overcrowding and find them families. Kiki’s babies will only be 4 weeks old when they arrive, and the whole family will go straight to a foster home. We can’t wait to meet Kiki and her pups, and help them on their journey to finding a family of their own.

Unfortunately, as is common in the south, Kiki has heartworms. She’ll undergo treatment here in MN at a partner clinic. Due to her size, the cost will be 3-4 times as expensive as an average-sized dog. Between heartworm treatment, food and supplies, and routine vetting for this extra large family, we’re looking at around $10,000 in estimated expenses to care for them while they’re with Ruff Start.

We would greatly appreciate gifts of any amount to help us cover the cost of bringing these cuties into rescue. Donate today and your funds will go directly toward the care of Kiki and her 12 puppies.

Would you like to be a part of their journey? This family is still in need of a foster. Their foster should be able to travel to our partner clinic in St. Cloud for Kiki’s heartworm treatment (three trips total) and promote Kiki’s bedrest if she hasn’t joined a foster to adopt family by then.

Would you like to be a part of their journey? This family is still in need of a foster. Their foster should be able to travel to our partner clinic in St. Cloud for Kiki’s heartworm treatment (three trips total) and promote Kiki’s bedrest if she hasn’t joined a foster to adopt family by then.

January 14th marks National Dress Up Your Pet Day!

January 14th marks National Dress Up Your Pet Day!

By: Ashlie Kuehn

From sports jerseys to bowties, tutus, and more, humans have always loved dressing their furry friends in spectacular outfits! This fun and light-hearted holiday provides an exciting way to celebrate your pet and show off their fashion sense!

Not only is it the perfect excuse to have a lot of fun, but there are also plenty of benefits to dressing up your pet!

Protection from the elements: 
Wearing an outfit or a costume can provide many benefits, from keeping your pet warm in cooler weather to protecting their skin from the sunshine. It can also provide an extra barrier keeping
your pet clean and free of any dirt or debris.

It helps show off some personality! 
Who doesn’t like showing off their fashionable side every once in a while?! Whether your pet is shy, smart, a troublemaker, or a diva, there are endless options to show off their personality (and look adorable while doing it!)

It allows you to spend some quality time with your pet! 
From putting on a costume to taking selfies together, National Dress Up Your Pet Day is a great way to spend a little one-on-one time with your pet and have some fun together! Your pet will love spending time with you and everyone else will love seeing adorable they look!

Before you break out those crazy costumes, there are a few things to be mindful of if you are celebrating this holiday.

Do not force your pet to dress up:
This holiday is simply a fun way to promote pet wellness so if your animal clearly doesn’t like dressing up, don’t force them! Keep a watchful eye on their body language and remove the costume if they show any signs of stress or discomfort.

Do not leave your pet unattended in costume:
It is important to keep an eye on your pet when they’re in costume to avoid potential injury. Your pet could become bored, agitated, or anxious, leading them to chew or ingest pieces. They could also risk getting caught or trapped trying to squeeze into areas that won’t accommodate the size of the costume.

Avoid materials that can be toxic or harmful to your pet: 
Avoid costumes with harmful or toxic materials such as glitter or beads that could harm your pet or cause an allergic reaction. Be alert and watch for signs like itching, scratching, or discomfort and remove the costume right away.

National Dress Up Your Pet Day is a great way to bond with your pet and show the world their fashionable side! Break out your bedazzled collars, sweaters, and maybe even a matching costume for you, and make sure your pet is dressed for the occasion this January 14th!

The Story of Penny Lane

A broken bone can’t break her love for life.
Penny Lane is a high-energy, sweet puppy who has enjoyed her life – running and playing with her friends whenever she can. Unfortunately, all her leaping resulted in a broken leg. Because of limited resources, her owner tried splinting it with items around the house. A few weeks later, the leg started to heal, but it was obvious the splint did more harm than good. That’s when they decided to surrender Penny and her remaining littermates to MACC, so they could all receive proper care. Because of the obvious medical attention Penny needed, a rescue would be her only ticket out of the shelter. When a Ruff Start intake volunteer met her, she couldn’t resist her kind eyes, so she brought Penny home to foster her.

At this point, Penny’s leg has been broken for over a month. We had x-rays taken which determined the leg was broken in multiple places and had already started to heal. Our veterinary team, as well as a doctor at a referral clinic, determined that the best course of action was to amputate Penny’s leg. Although she had been using the leg, she had joint damage and couldn’t bear weight on it well. As she continues to grow, the leg would become more of an issue. So, to better her life, Penny underwent surgery last Thursday.

Penny is doing well in her foster home, and we know she’ll get used to being a tri-paw in no time at all. She’s a happy puppy who picks up new skills quickly and loves toys, treats, and playing in the snow.

The Story of Rowdy

Rowdy has lived his whole life being obedient and well-trained as an active hunting dog. When he could no longer perform his duties, he was brought to a local vet clinic to be euthanized. Luckily, the vet clinic, that we also work with, knew Rowdy deserved to live out his retirement with a family. They stepped in to ensure that by reaching out to our Ruff Start Rescue intake team. Here is where we need your help – we need a foster commitment for Rowdy.

At 8.5 years old, it is believed that he was housed outdoors his entire life, hunted, and then returned to his kennel. He has recently been vetted and neutered. He was put on joint supplements because he was sore from being kenneled with minimal activity. Now, he’s ready to join a rescue and live the life he has always deserved.

Rowdy absolutely loves humans. He hasn’t met a man, woman, or child he didn’t want to be next to. He’s a very calm and quiet boy. His hunting background has given him a fantastic nose, which is helpful for smelling out yummy treats. He may try to see what’s good on the counter if no one is looking! He has done well with cat and dog meets, but we recommend very slow introductions as we don’t know his history well. Rowdy didn’t have blankets in his old home, so he gets very excited to have them now! He will steal them to snuggle and chew. He is very responsive to commands and any type of communication.

We would love for Rowdy to join Ruff Start Rescue, and we need a foster to step up for him. His ideal foster home will be patient, promote slow intros, and give him all the love he has been missing.

We want to take this opportunity to inform you that, yes, unfortunately, there are still hunters who bring their hunting dogs in to be euthanized when they “can no longer perform their job”. This is unsettling and unnecessary, and it’s something we do see in rescue. Please know that there are other options, such as animal rescues, humane societies, and in this case, the passionate vet clinic that knew he deserved better.
We also want to add that this isn’t the majority of hunters. We know many hunters who absolutely love and adore their dogs and treat them as part of the family. These dogs sleep in the house, get all the love and attention, and they are some of the best rockstar hunting dogs out there! If you have one of these rockstar hunting dogs who are part of your family, we would love to see their pictures below and hear their story. Help educate others on the possibilities and open some eyes. You never know who may read this and decide to try and change their mentality after reading your story.

The Story of Yuri

Yuri has lived a life that no one deserves – human or animal.

He is a survivor of a household with domestic violence and so much more. When he was found, his owner had long passed away, and Yuri had been living in a home alone with another dog. Their survival instincts had kicked in – they tore into a bag of dog food to survive. Without water, they were forced to drink from the toilet.

Eventually, their food ran out, and they began to eat couch cushions to fill their starving stomachs. Although it made them feel full, this is extremely dangerous and could have led to blockages. Their days were filled with feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and not knowing if or when someone would ever return.

When they were finally found, they were emaciated, shut down, and terrified.

Their finder took them to the vet, and to her surprise, they were healthy (with a minor ear infection) despite being extremely underfed. The finder continued to care for the dogs in their home, and slowly they began to trust her when they learned she was visiting to feed them, bring them outside, and provide some relief with loving care. An adopter stepped up for Yuri’s companion, and the finder reached out to Ruff Start to help with Yuri. She had been visiting the home twice a day but wanted more for this sweet boy. He was starved for attention and needed a family.

Yuri joined Ruff Start right before the holiday. He has settled into his new temporary home and he is full of love. Yuri has no physical signs of abuse, but he does run and hide if there are loud noises or voices, likely due to the violence in the home. We can’t fix what happened in Yuri’s past, but we can ensure he has everything he deserves in the future. Please make a gift in Yuri’s honor to help with his care and the care of future Ruff Starters.

Ruff Start Rescue