Sunday, August 17, 2014

7 Ways to Help a Dog with Docked Tail Pain

No pet parents wants to see or know that their precious dog is in pain or discomfort of any kind. So when I found out Pixel was in great distress from her docked tail, I wanted to do something about it. Remedy the issue for her, take the pain away, help her feel better. As with anything, it is an ongoing process where I am constantly learning, growing and updating my tactics to help give her relief.

It is important to repeatedly share articles and information on signs that a docked tail dog is suffering due to the docking. A dog's tail is so important, and aids in every aspect of their life, from communication to balance to healthy & successful bowel function, so there are all kinds of symptoms and behaviors that are associated with a dog who is suffering from docked tail pain and discomfort. One of my most recent posts again highlights 10 signs of docked tail pain in a dog. It is so important to keep sharing this information. Right now I want to focus on how to help your pet deal with and get through the pain, discomfort and challenges that docked tail dogs can experience.

My  sweet little Pixel has suffered for as long as I've been blessed to be her Mommy, which is more than 6 years. Once I finally caught on to what was truly happening with her, I was continually trying things to help ease her pain, her anxiety about the pain, and help make things easier for her. My focus has always been to try and think of things through her eyes, through her feelings and to put myself in her place to try and find comforting solutions. This does not include the fact that I went to vet after vet, tried medicine after medicine, and never stopped fighting to be heard about a very real and valid issue plaguing many thousands of dogs just like Pixel.

7 Ways to Help a Dog with Docked Tail Pain
Here are just a few things you can do to help ease the stress from the stabbing and stinging nerve pain of a docked tail dog:

1. Set up a 'safe place' where your dog can go to, such as a comfortable crate, or a soft bed that is just theirs. Make sure you can easily access them if needed, for both the safety and the comfort of the dog. Pixel used to (and still does if she gets the chance) go under the bed and refuse to come out when her tail gives her a fit, even though she knows the "come" command very well. So I have a large soft sided crate that has thick foam flooring, warm blankets, and toys, that she can run into to "hide" from her tail monsters if need be. I can then go get her from her 'safe hiding place' and comfort her. Sometimes I allow her to remain in there if one of her sisters comes to lay with her and I can watch them, making sure that Pixel is not chewing on her tail. This photo shows Peanut, her older sister, comforting her.

2. Put a sweater or t-shirt on the dog. Amazingly, clothing deters Pixel from biting at her tail most of the time. If this does not prevent chewing or biting, a blow up neck collar works great at protecting your dog's tail from your dog's mouth. It allows the dog much more freedom to move, eat and play (if they feel like it during a flair up) than a conventional "E-collar" which gets caught on walls, corners, and limits your dog's field of view.

3. Help your dog snuggle into a comfy bed and gently wrap them in a blanket if possible. Have blankets or throws in various places that they can burrow under if that is something they like. Pixel has always felt that a "cave-like area" under a blanket was a safe place during tail pain. I am always making blanket caves for her or covering her up. If she wants out, she can get out. She usually just gets lulled to sleep in a cocoon of warmth.

4. Sit and comfort them by petting them, stroking a cupped hand over the butt and tail nub area. This helps Pixel feel as though I am "protecting" the tail nub I think. Sometimes I will literally sit while watching TV with her or when we go to sleep and night, with my hand covering her tail nub gently. I find I do that out in public too when she's in her special carrier, to protect it from being bumped.

5. Talk to your vet about your concerns. There are medications and supplements that can help. For example, Pixel is on Neurontin for the nerve pain and a drug free supplement called 'Composure' that has Colostrum, the natural occurring hormone that puppies get from their mother when nursing. I feel this has helped her just in general with the anxiety of her tail issues and I remember seeing a marked difference in her on the very first day. Pixel also takes Valerian Root in a supplement called "Calming" which has Triptophan and Chamomile in it as well. Valerian is highly regarded as a nerve pain reducer. It seems to benefit Pixel daily.

6. Be understanding, slow to anger and quick to forgive when your docked tail dog has bathroom accidents, even when they go in a seemingly odd and highly inappropriate place. Whether they are paper trained inside or are yard trained, there will be times when they cannot hold it, or might run from their bowel movements due to pain, distress or discomfort. So, for example, if they are paper trained, and you find a rogue log on the rug or hassock, they might have just been running away from a BM and it fell at the wrong spot. A rug, or furniture is not nearly as important as understanding the suffering that some docked tail dogs must endure. We can always wash something, but having a dog that always feels punished will only make their situation worse. They cannot help what they are dealing with.

7. Corrective surgery is an option, and one that we chose for Pixel when all else seemed to fail. We had tried every other avenue, but she only got worse and worse. As my precious Pixel's personality and quality of life was disappearing, surgery gave her a much better quality of life. She still has pain, still has some of the issues mentioned in the list of symptoms, but she is infinitely better now than she was before the surgery in 2012.

*When you talk with your vet about your concerns regarding your docked tail dog's issues, make sure they take you seriously. If you feel dismissed in any way, find another vet. Your dog's needs, feeling and suffering is real, it is valid and they deserve to be addressed.

Remember, our dogs depend on us to see what is wrong and help find solutions for them. Never stop seeking answers and don't ever let anyone tell you that a dog is not worth "all the fuss". Their love, devotion and companionship are worth far more than we could ever give.

Do you have particular things you do to help your dog get through painful times, whether from tail docking or something else? We'd love to have you share your experience in a comment!

10 Signs that a Dog is Having Docked Tail Pain & Issues

From the first day I had Pixel, when she was around 3 months old, I saw some unusual behaviors surrounding her tail nub. It took me a while to understand what she was dealing with, but once I got the connection, I studied her every move, action, behavior and response to things. Between studying Pixel's tail nub issues, doing extensive research on amputation and nerve pain, studying dog anatomy, and talking with veterinarians, I came up with a list of symptoms and behaviors to help pet parents identify if their dog is having dock tail issues or pain.

Since starting No Tail Left Behind in April, 2012, I have been contacted by hundreds of pet parents and rescue groups concerned about their docked tail dogs who exhibit symptoms and behaviors telling them that the dog is suffering in some form from their tail nub and surrounding area. The symptoms range in variety and severity. Some pet parents have said statements such as, "He doesn't seem to have any trouble with it, but he sure doesn't want anyone touching his tail nub because he snarls if you even brush up against it on accident." That's just one of many things I've been told by pet parents before they realized that their dog does have issues of pain or struggles with their tail nub. If you find yourself thinking or saying, "My dog doesn't have any pain from her docked tail but..." then there probably is a problem your dog is dealing with...alone. That's why No Tail Left Behind is here though, to help figure these things out so you as pet parents don't have to figure it out on your own.

10 signs that a puppy or adult dog is having pain, irritation or difficulties with a docked tail:
1. Biting, licking, 'chasing' or whining at the tail or back end. They also might be overly sensitive about having a fellow dog sniff or touch their back end.
2. Hiding under a bed, in a corner or in a crate, if they have one, for long periods of time.
3. Isolation from the family or laying alone in a back room, often with a distant look on their face.
4. Refusing to come when called, even when they know the command well. They might even look straight at you as you call, just sitting in their bed, in the corner, etc, refusing to move.
5. Difficulty potty training, either on indoor puppy pads or outside. It took Pixel several extra months to grasp potty training.
6. Difficulty having a normal bowel movement, including running away from a BM as it is occurring.
7. Incontinence, or unexplained potty accidents, even if they are fully potty trained.
8. Redness, inflammation, scaling or infections at the tail nub tip. Pixel is 6 years old and hers still gets red and inflamed at times.
9. The dog acting like they are in trouble or are being punished, including crying out, yelping, or even nipping at someone who tries to pick up the dog, or touch the back end near the tail.
10. Getting excited over a loved one coming home or a fun play time, and then suddenly yelping and 'going after their tail'. Sometimes, when Pixel gets excited to see me, her tail gives her a fit. She can't even show how happy she is to see her Mommy without her tail stinging and hurting her. Excitement runs through the nerves in her tail nub as she wags with joy.

This is certainly not the end-all list of signs and symptoms, but it is a good place to start. So watch your dock tail dog(s) closely, and if you start seeing any of these signs or other unusual behavior, even if it appears to be "acting out" behavior, keep notes, keep track, and talk to your vet. You can always contact us either here or on our No Tail Left Behind Facebook, Twitter or through email.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Truth of Tail Docking Hurts: Harmful Enough to Kill a Puppy - Be the Change for Animals #BtC4A

A Shocking Reality
Did you know that some puppies do not survive the tail docking procedure forced upon them? It's a medical fact that tail dockers would never admit is true. Puppies in general are so helpless, frail and tiny, and their immune system is not fully developed. They are easily susceptible to a whole host of medical issues if they are injured, including infections and death. It's a scientific fact that is detailed in a recent Pet MD article. So, puppies that do not have a fully functioning immune system are subjected to a cruel practice where a body part is cut off.
I have personally seen it happen with a litter of docked puppies that was brought into the shelter I volunteer with last year. One of the puppies was so bad off that they did not make was awful! I know for a fact that one of the other puppies that was adopted by a friend of mine, has terrible issues with her tail nub to this day. I would almost guarantee that unfortunately, the other pups that were adopted out from that litter are dealing with nerve pain and damage from the terrible docking procedure they endured.

The Painful Truth
Tail docking is a terribly painful practice that has been inflicted upon millions of little newborn puppies in the name of "breed standard". Tail docking is the severing of skin, flesh, muscles, nerves, tendons, and bones of the spine, called vertebrae, and no matter what tail docking advocates might say, it is a terribly painful, tortuous assault on each puppy who must endure it. Some dogs, like Pixel Blue Eyes, our spokesdog and inspiration for the No Tail Left Behind campaign, endure a lifetime of chronic pain, discomfort, infections and difficulties because of the "simple" tail docking. Proponents of tail docking have a small list of reasons as to why tail docking is so important and must be done, but not a single one of their reasons has full logic behind it. Tail docking doesn't promote health, it doesn't protect the tail from injury (it creates an injury instead) and it doesn't promote a cleaner tail area (ever seen a docked tail on a Pomeranian that has a super fluffy tail?).

What Each Puppy Endures
Think about this for a moment...tiny innocent puppies are born into the world with hope and innocence, dependent upon their dog mother and the humans that care for them. They can't open their eyes yet, they can't do anything except depend on others. Then within days of birth, when they are just learning to trust, and are still working on building an immune system of their own that is crucial to their survival in life, these tiny little puppies are taken from their mother and without anesthesia, each tiny puppy has their tail cut off. The puppy is screaming and crying out, wiggling and writhing in the hands of the person or persons who are torturing them. Then a spot of glue or just a bit of styptic powder is placed at the tip, and they are placed back with their mother to try and nurse away the pain. Can you imagine the suffering they experience? Why don't tail dockers care that this is happening? It has already been proven that puppies have incredibly sensitive pain receptors that actually feel pain at an even greater level than adult dogs. The torture these puppies endure is animal cruelty, yet no one is doing anything to stop it in the United States.

This is the look Pixel gets on her face when her tail nub nerve pain starts.
There are so many dogs silently suffering from the long term effects of being maimed at the most vulnerable point in their life...dogs just like Pixel. I have been contacted by dozens and dozens of pet parents whose dogs suffer from docked tail pain, just like Pixel does each day. That is why each of us must take a stand. That is why No Tail Left Behind was started, to help be a vessel, a voice, of CHANGE. The needs, feelings, health and physical and emotional well being of a dog MUST overpower the pointless "Breed Standard" that maims certain breeds of dogs calling it "necessary" for their health. Wouldn't their health be better served if a crucial communication body part was NOT cut off?

What Can We Do?
Here are some things you can do RIGHT NOW, TODAY to help bring awareness and change for puppies across the United States.
1. Join us in the fight by following us on Facebook, Twitter and signing up to get this blog by email.
2. Educate others in a kind but factual way. Share our message with your family, friends, veterinarian and everyone you meet. So many of our supporters have told me, "I just never knew it hurt the puppy" or "I never really thought about it as cruelty" and it has inspired breeders to stop docking and has changed hearts and minds all over the U.S. and abroad.
3. If you are looking to get a dog from a breeder, search for one that does not dock tails. If you cannot find one that doesn't dock, then insist that they allow you to choose a puppy before they dock.
4. Don't purchase a dog from a breeder that docks tails. The biggest way to make them stop docking is to refuse to give them your money. If you hit them in their wallets, they just might get it.
5. Contact your State Congressmen and Senators. Write letters to all of them sharing the message of No Tail Left Behind. Tell them that animal cruelty is defined as the crime of inflicting physical pain, suffering or death on an animal. Tell them that tail docking is animal cruelty and it must be stopped. The ASPCA has an excellent "Search by State" web page where you can do further research based on the state in which you live.

Help us make a difference. Help us spread the message.
Help us end the suffering as we educate the world about the painful truths of tail docking.
No Tail Left Behind...because EVERY dog deserves a tail!

Pixel Blue Eyes and her Mom Jenny Lewis are taking part in the "Blog the Change for Animals" special blog hop today. Please visit some of our fellow pet blogging friends below as they share animal advocacy topics that they are passionate about. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dogs Think and Feel Just Like We Do - Why Do Tail Dockers NOT Know This?

Photo of Pixel Blue Eyes (right) with her sister Dixie Mae, a Dachshund
Dogs think and feel just like we humans do. They feel joy, they feel pain, they feel fear, sadness, loss, confusion, uncertainty and contentment, just like we do. They trust us to take care of them, protect them, love them and let no harm come to them. It is our responsibility to care for them, as they are like tiny children...helpless without us, unable to fully care for themselves and dependent on our wisdom, love and care.

Image showing Pixel Blue Eyes the day she was brought home with Jenny LewisHow truly sad is it then, that there are many people out in the world who never give a thought to how a dog or puppy, much less any animal, feels. It is sad to make that statement about some people, but it is a truth that causes so much suffering for dogs who have their tail docked when they are puppies. How can you look at a tiny face like this and choose to harm them by cutting off their tail? How can you NOT think about how it will affect them, physically, mentally, emotionally, and for the long term?

Image of Pixel Blue Eyes as an 11 week old puppy
I know for an absolute fact that Pixel's tail docking and the pain she endured for so long after it was done had a direct impact on her issues of fear & uncertainty with humans, and her socialization with other dogs. Think about it...a tiny puppy is taken from it's dog Mommy, held (or held down) down by humans and forced to endure a cruel removal of their tail with no anesthesia, no pain medicine, nothing but gut wrenching pain and nobody cares. After the "procedure" is done, the puppy is put back with it's Mom and their brothers and sisters who have also just been traumatized beyond measure. The nerves, which are extremely sensitive at this delicate time, are on fire, stabbing, stinging, shooting pain all through their tiny body. Do not doubt for a second that they don't feel it. These puppies' systems are in pain overdrive. The humans do nothing to help end the pain they are in, and they are surrounded by other puppies suffering in their own mini nightmare. Over the next several weeks, when life should be only about eating, learning to stand, walk, void on their own, and play with their siblings, these puppies are going through shock, suffering in pain silently, having nerve bundles form at the raw nub that was just created for no reason, they are having developmental delays, getting infections, and having a whole host of other issues they should never be experiencing. How can life start out well for any dog in this type of situation?
Take a look sometime, at "puppies up for sale" online by breeders who dock. Since Pixel is a mini schnauzer, go ahead and just do a "Google" search for "mini schnauzer puppies for sale" and see if you can find a single "happy" looking young puppy. Look at their faces, look at their eyes they are in distress, they are in pain. You can see it on their faces!

Dogs are incredibly intelligent. They learn how to do things, they problem solve, they figure things out. Dogs do learn to adapt, not always in good ways, but they try their best. Dogs, are very emotive beings, whether they have suffered in their life or not. They can sense when something is wrong and they know when someone is either sick or upset almost instantaneously. Pixel has been especially in tune with the emotions and physical well being of every person in our family. It's amazing how Pixel can just come up to me, put her paw on my knee and let me know "it's all going to be okay." I wish we could make it "all okay" for the countless puppies that will be born and have their tails removed.

I try to do this for Pixel, trying to help her feel secure, and letting her know it will be "okay", especially when she has episodes with her long term docked tail pain. I comfort her whenever I see she is in distress, or is going after her tail when it starts to act up. I've figured out several ways to comfort her over the years, and I know she trusts me to at least try to "make the pain go away".

No matter who you are, whether you have a docked tail dog, you are a breeder, you are thinking of adopting/rescuing/purchasing a dog from a breeder (with a docked tail), or you have a dog you are thinking of docking, please, always think of the physical, mental, emotional and long term feelings of the dog or puppy. We MUST do them no harm, and seek to find ways to help them thrive.

How can you look upon an innocent face and think that removing their tail is your "right"? No one should look at tail docking as a "right", because it is hurting countless numbers of puppies and dogs. Tail docking is a physical maiming of a tiny life, a life that deserves to be pain free, a life that deserves to have a full tail. If you can look at these puppies, these dogs and think of them as innocent children who seek our protection, it might help you see that tail docking is not necessary. It does no good for the dog, it only causes harm.

No matter what the tail docking advocates say, docking does not keep a dog cleaner, it does not protect them from getting a tail injury, it does not help "working dogs" work better, but tail docking DOES cause immense pain, suffering and emotional and physical damage to puppies from the moment that tail is removed. It has been scientifically proven that puppies feel even more pain than an adult dog. I cannot imagine the suffering that each little puppy undergoes during a tail docking. (Unfortunately there are videos out there that show puppies getting their tails docked. Trust me, they suffer!) It would be like a human having surgery with no anesthesia, or having a finger accidentally chopped off in a saw accident, and then not being given any pain medicine afterwards. No follow up care, nothing. How cruel!

Puppies feel pain, physical and emotionally, so we must not allow tail docking to continue. So many docked tail dogs continue to suffer throughout their lives because of what was done to them as a puppy. Pixel is just one of many dogs who has chronic pain, episodes of their tail stinging, and stabbing them with pain and discomfort. During those times, even with pain medicine and lots of love, Pixel must wear this collar to keep her from trying to "stop the pain" herself. It's not fair or right that she must endure all this. We cannot reverse what has already been done, but we can make change for future puppies and dogs. Please help us be a voice for change!

HELP US BE A VOICE FOR CHANGE! Join Pixel Blue Eyes and No Tail Left Behind as we educate about the terrible dangers and painful truths of tail docking. Every dog deserves a tail!
No Tail Left Behind on Facebook
@NoTailLeftBhind on Twitter

Please read an earlier No Tail Left Behind blog post detailing signs that your dog is suffering from docked tail pain.
Here is some further information online that supports the fact that tail docking harms many more dogs than it helps with data to back it up:
1. Study done regarding tail injuries (PDF)
2. New Zealand campaign to end tail docking (lots of great links!)
3. Information detailing how puppies feel pain
4. Dogster Article on Tail Docking including interview with well respected U.S. Veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Renewed Sense of Purpose for No Tail Left Behind

It's a new year, and Pixel Blue Eyes and I am so excited about all the possibilities 2014 holds for us as we continue our work to bring awareness about the dangers and truths of tail docking, a cruel, painful practice that is unnecessary and has long lasting negative effects for hundreds of thousands of dogs. Our message is so important, and I feel a renewed sense of purpose to create a greater awareness of just how detrimental tail docking is to hundreds of thousands of puppies and dogs all over the world...dogs just like Pixel, who has suffered chronic pain her whole life from being docked as a puppy.

Image of Pixel Blue Eyes dog under a blanket during a painful tail pain episode
We still have a long way to go before everyone understands what really happens to the physiology of little puppies when tail docking is done. Remember that docking a tail is the amputation of muscles, tendons, bone, vertebrae and nerves. That type of trauma to a body part has lasting effects. Although not all dock tailed dogs show signs and symptoms of the pain & trauma they are put through, so many of them are silently suffering. Why should anyone think that is okay? Why should tail docking still be allowed because some dogs "seem okay with it"? Dogs are silent sufferers, but often exhibit suffering in unusual behaviors. We talk about some of the signs that a dog is suffering from docked tail pain in a previous post.

No Tail Left Behind - Because every dog deserves a tail poster with Pixel Blue Eyes - With this renewal in our efforts for this year, we ask that you join us in sharing this important message. Tail docking is a form of cruelty, and cruelty cannot be tolerated. We will remain steadfast and faithful in telling the truth about the terrible effects of tail docking until it has been banned worldwide.
We will forever be in it to end it. Why? Because EVERY DOG DESERVES A TAIL!

Please support us by LIKING our No Tail Left Behind Facebook page, following us on Twitter (@NoTailLeftBhind), and sharing this message.