QuickPress: Conversation with Doc Truli

Recently, my favorite online veterinarian, VirtuaVet (aka Doc Truli), wrote a blog post on How to Cover a Leg Sore on a Dog.

She focuses on preventing further licking and chewing of lick granulomas and offers a terrific solution for making a wrap to cover the legs.

I asked in the comments section what the material she suggested is made of, if behavioral modification could help prevent licking, and if she had ideas for keep an injured paw clean and dry.

She offered a terrific solution of using plastic IV bags (which I happen to own) as a sturdy paw-covering to keep the foot dry for outdoor walks and romping. If I had but known this a few weeks ago! (Scroll down to her comments in this post.)

This led to a discussion of stress behaviors in assistance dogs and why I continue to choose Bouviers as my service-dog-breed-of-choice. (Hint: They see a major part of their job as holding down the floor — or bed.)

Jersey in futon

Jersey "at work" inside her favorite futon.

We fell asleep together

Gadget "at work," making sure I get my rest.

Gadget on white sheet on bed

Barnum, still in training, carries on the grueling tradition.

She replied with some interesting studies on scent-detection dogs’ behavior with positive reinforcement versus harsh corrections.

In other words, we covered a lot of ground! (Good thing our paws aren’t sore.)

I thought the information might be of interest to readers of After Gadget. I’m also curious about your experience and opinions on stress-related behaviors in working dogs. Have your assistance dogs exhibited signs of work stress? How do you prevent stress-related health issues or burnout/washout? What do you think about what Doc Truli and I said about different types of training methods affecting performance?

Please comment! (I do read every single one, right away; lately I’ve been too sick and overwhelmed to reply quickly, but I value your comments immensely.)

-Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum (aka “Pause or Fast-Forward Boy”)

8 Responses to “QuickPress: Conversation with Doc Truli”

  1. 1 Karyn and Thane December 10, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I have an even better solution for covering a paw. We did the IV bag thing last spring when Thane got cut with glass from our street and it got infected. Though it keeps the foot dry, they really can not ambulate well and certainly not enough to play. It was hard enough for Thane to go busy. I found a better solution though! Its called medipaw and I purchased one for Thane’s firstaid kit. Its a boot bottom with material like packcloth that forms an open bag like sleeve that can be fastened around a cast, bandage or whatever is going on. I got mine at
    http://www.sitstay.com but they don’t carry many of the inbetween sizes. Mine just fits Thane so I plan to buy the next size up as well and modify it for his shorter legs. Think swelling also when you order. For manufacturers site see

  2. 2 Sharon Wachsler December 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Karyn,
    Thanks for the suggestions and links! You are a wizard with the resources and information, as always. Grin.
    I definitely need to have a first-aid kit with all the supplies together in one place, so I don’t need to hunt around for the thermometer or gauze or antibiotic ointment any time I need to deal with a medical issue for Barnum at home.

  3. 3 Karyn and Thane December 10, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Unfortunately I learned about medipaw AFTER Thane’s injury. Aint that always the way it goes.
    For many of the items of dual purpose that I might use for myself, I make it a ahbit of having two of them. For instance neosporin- I have one in Thane’s kit and one in my bathroom.
    Another helpful item is vetwrap. Its smelly- Gosh is it smelly but I can manage it if I open it as soon as I get it to air out. Sometimes that could mean it dries out too much and a roll is wasted (summertime especially) but having it available in a much less toxic realm has been so important for Thane and I. I get mine again at sitstay but you can get it all over the web.
    I also have some first aid based sites I like where I add supplies for one or the other of us. Just ask and I will send them privately if your interested in any of them.

  4. 4 Sharon Wachsler December 12, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    The next time I order from Care-a-Lot, which is where I usually get my dog stuff because of their prices, I am going to buy some vet wrap. I already bought a very cool and inexpensive ($3, I think) thermometer from them after my visiting nurse told me about it and showed it to me. It’s much faster than the old electronic kind, and it has a flexible tip, which I immediately thought, “Perfect for when the dog suddenly tries to sit when you stick something up his butt!” Also good for MCSers who want to keep our masks on when we have our temp taken.

  5. 5 brilliantmindbrokenbody December 27, 2010 at 3:30 am

    I just commented this evening over on the other site, but I thought I’d mention what I said there, here.

    Yes, you can definitely use behavior modification to teach a dog to leave an injury alone. Our family dog, Cody (who is half corgi, half australian cattle dog – clever, athletic, smart, and handsome to boot!) had ACL surgery 4 years ago. We never used clicker training with him, just simple treat-for-behavior training. Between the pain meds and the fact that we weren’t using a clicker, it took us about 2 days to understand what we wanted. Within 8 days he was leaving it alone unprompted almost all the time. Within 2 weeks, he could be trusted to be left alone with his bandaged leg and not bother it. His vet didn’t believe we hadn’t been using the cone.

    As far as stress behavior, I haven’t noticed much in Hudson other than his GI issues. Our service dog org mentioned that they occasionally see some stress-induced paw licking, but that it’s pretty rare.

    Also, for wound cleansing, if you tolerate it, Bactine is a WAY better antiseptic to use because it doesn’t hurt and it’s got a lower degree of toxicity than alcohol. It’s safer and the lidocaine means the wound actually feels better post-cleansing. The only time I’ve used it on Hudson was for a cut under his tail from the clippers (oops, yeah, I slipped), and other than the typical dog ‘Hey, don’t touch that! I’m going to sit now!’, he made no indication that it bothered him. I assume it felt better, because he felt the need to inspect it after I was done – that, or he wanted to smell it. I don’t know which.


  6. 6 Sharon Wachsler December 27, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Hi Kali,

    It’s wonderful to get all these comments from you!

    That makes a lot of sense with Cody and confirms my suspicions that behavior mod (of the positive kind) can definitely help cut down on the medical interventions/”gear.” This is one of those times where I think it would be good if more G.P. vets knew more about training/behaviorism and more dog trainers knew about working with medical issues. We tend to think our vets have all the answers, but unless they get special behavioral training, it’s a crap shoot.

    Also, thank you for weighing in the on the working-dog stress issue! I hope more people will, over time. I think it’s interesting and important.

    I can offer sympathy about the clipper injury. I have twice caused clipper injuries and felt soooooo guilty. The first time was with Jersey, when I clipped off the tip of her nipple! I felt horrible. I tried to treat it at home, partly because I felt so guilty and thought the vet would think I was abusive or something, but eventually I had to bring her in. It turned out it was a simple matter of cauterizing it, and then it was fine. And they told me it’s a very common mishap.

    The second time, I nicked the edge of Gadget’s ear. This was actually worse in a way, because ears are so sensitive, and they bleed profusely, and they are very difficult to bandage! Fortunately, I read in my doggy first-aid book how to bandage an ear, which involved using a sock to tie it on top of his head, so he looked very silly. But it stopped the bleeding, and it healed quickly and easily.

    This makes it sound like I routinely cut up my dogs, but if you think about over ten years of several haircuts per year per dog, and only two “incidents” ever, that’s not a bad track record. Jersey forgave me instantly (she was very stoic), and Gadget got over it fast, too. I shudder at the thought if I ever nick Barnum, as it took a LOT of desensitization and counterconditioning to get him used to the clippers.

  7. 7 virtuavet December 29, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I’m loving this conversation. And Vet-Wrap is probably Nuclear-toxic. Although, I think the copy-cat brands smell worse. Like really strong Play-Dough.
    Remember when you use Vet Wrap that it shrinks and tightens when it gets wet. I rarely use it for paw bandaging because it can quickly cut off circulation is it is not wrapped lightly and if it gets wet.
    If you use it, just remember to check the tightness a few times daily!
    Yours in health,
    Doc Truli

  8. 8 brilliantmindbrokenbody January 3, 2011 at 12:09 am

    I was HORRIFIED when I got Hudson, because he’s very distrustful of the clippers. Apparently I got it with the lidocaine and numbed it enough for him to conveniently forget that I’d hurt him. With the location, I’d been concerned with it getting contaminated and infected, but it healed quickly without problems.

    I will say this much – once you’ve gotten a dog really and truely okay with the clippers, it takes more than one little incident to freak them out. I’ve also gotten Hudson’s pad, in addition to the cut on his butt, so I figure that only having 2 incidents through the lives of 2 service dogs means you’re doing pretty good.


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