Summer Gearrrr for Your Pup

Summer is a great time of the year to do outdoor activities with your dog(s). From hitting the beach to packing some necessities and going for a bike ride, there are a plethora of things you and your dog can enjoy together this season.

Prepping for any activity that will involve your dog is important though. You want to make sure your dog is comfortable, hydrated and happy. And sometimes, this may mean purchasing the appropriate gear.

Here are some great products we've found that can ensure a fun, safe summer for you and your pet, regardless of the activities you do.

H2O4K9 Portable Dog Water Bottle
This 25-ounce steel water bottle is designed to make it easy for your pup to get a drink. It's also handy since it can fit into bicycle water bottle holders or be attached to a belt or backpack using the top cap. And for the fashionally conscious dog owner, it comes in a variety of colors. (More colors available online) Available for $15.95 through thedogoutdoors.com.

Doggles
I'm sure you've heard that allowing your dog to stick their head out of the car window is not the safest thing to do - but it's so hard not to let them enjoy the breeze blowing their ears back! Here's the solution - Doggles.

You may be hesitant. Thinking that they could make your pup look silly or that you'd be taking your dog a little too seriously should you put actual glasses on them. But is that worth a $300 trip to the vet because your poor dog got something in his eye while sticking his head out the window?

These babies also offer full UV protection, are shatterproof and are made of fog-proof lenses.

Does your dog accompany you on motorcycle rides? Pick up a pair of these. Does your dog love to spend hours at the beach in bright sunlight? Consider shielding their eyes with a pair of Doggles. With a variety of styles and colors, you'll be sure to find a pair that will suit you and your pup's style. Original Doggles are available for $16.00 a pair on Doggles.com.

Muttluks
Maybe you're more of the hiking kind of canine-human-duo. The challenge and serenity of traveling along off-road paths and through woods is a popular activity for people with active dogs. Be careful to take into consideration your dog's feet though.

You may have heard the story about the hikers who came upon an abadoned and injured German Shepard during a hike on Mount Bierstadt in Colorado last year. The owner of the dog left it on the mountain after discovering that the poor animal had cut her feet up on the sharp rocks of the mountain and could not make the trip back down. (The dog was thankfully rescued by that group of hikers who found her 8 days after being abadoned by her owner.)

Moral of the story - dog's feet are not invincable. The pads on their feet can dry out, crack, get cut, bleed and just plain hurt. A solution? All-Weather Muttluks. Available in a variety of colors and sizes, these easy-to-put-on "boots" have leather soles to protect your dog's feet and have adjustable stretchy cuffs to keep them put. Available for $48.00 for a set of four boots at muttluks.com.

RuffWear K9 Float Coat
Do you enjoy kayaking? Boating? Stand-up paddle boarding? Do you bring your dog along? Boating safety applies to them too. Protect your dog in the event of a water accident by outfitting them with a RuffWear K9 Float Coat before heading out to the open seas.

These specially-designed life savers come in a variety of sizes and colors, and come equipped with a handle so you can easily pick your dog up if needed and reflective trim. Available for $79.95 from Amazon.com.

Enjoy these last few weeks of summer with your dog. But keep them safe while doing so!

Common Household Items that are Poisonous to Pets

It's not always easy owning and training a dog. Or any pet for that matter. There is a lot to be concerned with. From feeding them the proper food to making sure they're getting enough exercise, caring for an animal is a big commitment.

Add the fact that many common household items can be poisonous to your pets and you have a recipe for disaster. So we've compiled a list of the most common items that you need to keep out of your pet's reach:

  • Acetaminophen, which is found in Tylenol and other medications - It can cause liver damage in dogs and have an even worse outcome for cats: Ingestion of a single 325 mg tablet by a 10-pound cat can cause anemia and even be fatal.
  • Batteries - These can be toxic to both dogs and cats, lead to ulcers of the mouth, esophagus or stomach.
  • Chocolate - Ingesting it can seizures or be fatal to dogs and cats. Darker chocolate, such as baker's chocolate, is more fatal than milk or white chocolate.
  • Detergents - It can cause ulcers of the mouth, esophagus or stomach in both cats and dogs.
  • Ethylene glyocal, a common ingredient in antifreeze, windshield de-icers and motor oils - Dogs and cats are attracted to the sweet taste, but as little as one teaspoon can cause kidney failure.
  • Fertilizers -These chemicals typically include poisonous amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc, herbicides and pesticides.
  • Grapes - Even in small doses, grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs.
  • Household cleaners - Bleach, drain cleaners, ammonia and toilet cleaners can cause gastrointestinal ulcers and a myriad of other problems in dogs and cats.
  • Insecticides - Flea and tick medicine that is meant for dogs are severely toxic for cats, leadings to vomiting, seizures and difficulty breathing.
  • Kerosene - Gasoline and fluids that light tiki torches cause drooling, irregular walking and breathing difficulties in dogs and cats.
  • Mothballs - These can be toxic to dogs and cats, especially if they contain naphthalene. They cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased drinking and urination and seizures.
  • Nonprescription medications - Pills such as ibuprofen can lead to ulcers, anemia, or even kidney r liver failure in dogs and cats.
  • Onions - Onions, garlic, leeks and chives can be toxic to dogs and cats. If ingested, they can cause anemia and gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Macadamia nuts - These can cause lethargy, vomiting and difficulty walking in dogs.
  • Rodenticides - Common ingredients in rodent poison can cause blood clotting problems and hemorrhaging or internal bleeding in cats and dogs.
  • Xylitol (sugar-free sweetener commonly found in chewing gum. mints or toothpaste) - This can lead to dangerous drops in blood sugar and liver failure in dogs.
  • Metal or coins - Zinc toxicity poisoning can be caused by ingesting even a single penny, leading to anemia, liver, kidney or heart failure.

If you think that your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA's 24-hour emergency poison hotline directly at 1-888-426-4435.

Bundle up, it's going to be a HOT one!...?

Would you wear a wool sweater or a coat on a 95-degree day? How about 80, or even 70 degrees? 

Now imagine sitting in your car on those hot days, all bundled up… and sweating! Do you think having the windows cracked – or even wide open for that matter – would help to keep you cool? A car traps heat like a furnace. It can become 30 degrees hotter inside the vehicle than outside in fewer than 20 minutes.

The sad truth is that hundreds of pets die each year as a result of being left unattended in scorching vehicles. If you are in any way like me, then you enjoy your dog’s company and hate leaving them alone. But, on days when the temperature is projected to reach 70 degrees or higher, your dog is safest in your home with the cool breeze of a fan or air conditioning.

You also risk your dog being stolen when left unattended. Criminals looking to make a quick buck will often jump at the opportunity. The same is true if you “secure” your dog to a parking meter or bike rack while you’re in the store. Please don’t let this happen to your dog. Many stores will let you walk or carry your dog inside for that quick errand; just ask first and you might just be surprised. So, unless every stop you make that day will be at a pet-friendly establishment where your dog accompanies you in, please leave them home! Just pick up a nice toy or treat to show them how much you missed them. Trust me – your dog will thank you!

What to do if you spot a dog alone in a vehicle (windows open or not):

  1. Determine the condition of the dog (see signs of heatstroke below).
  2. Record the vehicle’s license plate number, make, model, and color.
  3. Locate the owner; ask the nearby businesses to announce it over the loudspeaker.
  4. Report the incident to the local animal control or police department if the owner cannot be found or is not willing to remove the dog – ANIMAL CRUELTY IS A CRIME IN MOST STATES PUNISHABLE BY IMPRISONMENT AND/OR FINES.
  5. Stay with the dog until help arrives. It might be frowned upon, but I’d break a window to save a dog… just saying.

The signs of heatstroke in a dog:

  • Excessive panting and drooling
  • Anxiousness or whimpering
  • Abnormal gum color (darker red or even purple)
  • Lack of bodily strength or collapse

Remember, heatstroke can be deadly! If a dog shows any sign of heatstroke, it is critical to cool and calm them. Seek shade or head indoors and apply cold, wet towels, refreshing them every few minutes. Do NOT shock the dog in an ice bath. Instead, you should run cool water over the dog's body and wipe it quickly. The dog should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible for expert care.

Other helpful tips:

  • Avoid walking your dog on pavement when it is above 85 degrees. You can also help protect their paw pads with dog boots or balm.
  • Always provide clean, cool water for your dog regardless of the season.
  • Store the local animal control numbers of your city/town and those you frequent (work, relatives, friends, shopping plazas, etc.).
  • Spread the word by hanging posters at school or work (where permitted) and asking local businesses to do the same.
  • Ask parking lot security and attendants to locate the owner or notify police if a pet is alone in a hot car.
  • If you’re a business owner, you have a better chance of accomplishing this next task than most of us do: Make announcements on your loudspeaker periodically on hot days just reminding customers not to leave their pets (and God-forbid, their children) in the car unattended.
  • If you are aware of or suspect animal abandonment, cruelty or neglect such as dog fighting, starvation, inhume or inhabitable conditions, REPORT THE CRIME to your local police and animal control. Massachusetts Statute § 77 covers cruelty to animals, which includes, “(if the pet is) deprived of necessary sustenance… (if the owner) unnecessarily fails to provide it with proper food, drink, shelter, sanitary environment, or protection from the weather… (the owner) shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years or by a fine of not more than $2,500, or by both such fine and imprisonment”.

Thank you for helping to keep your community’s pets safe!

Winter Storm Nemo Tips for Your Dog

"If you don't like the weather, wait a minute."

Living in New England, we hear this saying a lot. But as time progresses it seems pretty certain that our area will be hit hard by the impending blizzard Friday into Saturday.

Though questions still linger regarding exactly how much snow will hit each area of our state, a blizzard watch has been issued for many areas, meaning heavy snow accumulations, strong winds and very low visibility will make travel nearly impossible during the storm.

As such, we'd like to share some tips for making it through Winter Storm Nemo with your dog.

  1. Do your shopping today. Pick up any dog food, medications, pee pads or pet-safe rock salt before the storm begins. Travel is not recommended during the storm, and depending on your location and whether you lose power, there's no telling when you'll be able to get to the store.
  2. If your dog requires medication that needs refrigerating, such as insulin, be sure to have ice handy in case you lose power. You'll still need to keep that medication cold.
  3. Only take your dog outside when absolutely necessary during the storm. This blizzard will bring very strong winds, blowing snow, freezing temperatures, and very low visibility. Your dog will probably be miserable being outside in this anyway, but don't stay outside any longer than necessary. And obviously, under absolutely NO circumstances should you be leaving your dog outside during this storm. Some dogs do love snow, but wait until after the storm is over before allowing them outside to play. The whipping winds and low visibility create too much risk during the storm.
  4. When do you bring your dog outside, protect small, old or sick dogs from the elements with a sweater or coat. You could also consider putting some booties on them, if they allow it, to protect their toes from the snow and ice.
  5. Some dogs can become very anxious during severe weather. Keep them calm by distracting them with toys and games inside the house.

Good luck riding out Winter Storm Nemo! Stay safe!

The Connection Between Your Dog's Health and Their Food

puppy eating foodA new report is circulating the internet today that Purina's Beneful dog food brand is making dogs deathly ill and even leading to many deaths, yet no recall has been ordered by the FDA.

If you research the Consumer Affairs website, you will see that to date, there have been 325 complaints filed regarding this brand. Complaints range from reports of kidney failure to throwing up.

I'm sure some will disagree about the value of these reports, but there is something to be said about the relationship between your dog's health and overall well-being and what they eat.

We've suggested to our friends and followers before to utilize www.dogfoodanalysis.com to research the food they are feeding their fuzzy friends. (Read our previous blog on this topic here.) Dog food brands are notoriously good at exaggerating the nutritional value of their food by using words like "all natural" and "holistic." But unless you read the ingredients and truly understand the nutritional needs of your pet, these trendy words are meaningless.

Dog foods that use a lot of "filler" ingredients, such as corn and any by-products that have no nutritional value can actually harm your pet. These lower quality foods can be found everywhere from grocery stores to Petco, making them an easy fix for pet owners. But that does not make them the best choice for your dog's well-being.

Start by heading over to www.dogfoodanalysis.com and finding your dog's food. Read the review thoroughly and you'll better understand how to best feed your pet. And remember, just because a high-quality food may be slightly more expensive than a low-quality food, your cost will be lessened by the fact that your dog will inevitably need to eat less of the high-quality food to feel full and happy. Following the feeding instructions based on the size and weight of your dog is another important step to ensuring a healthy weight.

High-quality foods keep your dog satisfied and at a happy weight. It also helps with the health of your dog's coat and keeps diseases and the onset of arthritis at bay. Just as people are more healthy when they eat well, dogs are too. With so many benefits to feeding your beloved dog a high-quality diet, why not research your dog's food and make educated decisions for their well-being?

New Year's Fireworks are Not Fun for Your Dog

New Year's dogWe covered the topic of  fireworks before in our 4th of July blog post, but New Year's celebrations often mean fireworks as well so we thought it best to remind you of some basic precautions to keep your dog safe today. Remember, fireworks are not fun for your dog.

First and foremost, one of the best things you can do is allow your dog to remain home. New Year's fireworks generally occur at midnight, and with temperatures at that time being pretty cold, it's a better idea to let Fido stay warm and safe inside your home. If you won't be there with them, take into consideration the anxiety that they may experience being left alone while the loud, unexpected noises of fireworks occur. Keep some music playing or leave the TV on for them.

If for some reason you are not able to keep your dog inside, it is vital that you keep them securely leashed at all times, and make sure they have ample identification on them. The sudden loud bangs of fireworks are liable to scare even the most seasoned dog, so be prepared.

Exercising your pet before the fireworks is another great idea. If they are tuckered out from playing or taking a nice, long walk, they are more likely to be relaxed and maybe even sleepy before the fireworks occur.

And lastly, if your dog experiences anxiety due to fireworks, you may want to check out the ThundershirtTM which applies a gentle pressure to relieve anxiety without medication. Take a look at their website and speak to your veterinarian to see if this is a fitting option for your dog.

Wishing everyone a happy and safe New Year from the Daily Dog Blog family!

Rock Salt and Dog Paws Don't Mix

With the first serious snowfall hitting my area today, I was reminded of the necessity to purchase pet-safe rock salt. After all, normal rock salt and dog paws don't mix! Pet owners and non-owners alike should opt to scatter pet-safe rock salt, since even if you do not own a dog, someone may walk their dog by your property.

dog bootsNormal rock salt and chemical ice melters cause sores, infection and blistering on dogs' feet. These toxins can then be ingested by your dog when they lick their feet, leading to further serious health issues. Ingesting these toxic chemicals can cause dehydration, live failure, pancreatitis, and some chemicals such as antifreeze are lethal.

To ensure the safest winter season for your dog, always wash your dog's paws in warm water to rinse away any salt and chemicals. Another great option is to apply Vaseline to your dog's paws, which acts as both a barrier to salts, chemicals and acts as a moisturizer. Or, if your dog tolerates them, dog booties offer the best protection from the cold winter elements. (Here is the pair that I purchased for Gadget.)

So remember, when shopping for winter ice melters, always look for "pet safe" brands, such as Safe Paw Ice Melter. Happy winter!

Don't Take Your Dog's Identity for Granted

Well, it happened again. On my way home from errands this morning, I came across a beagle and a Doberman running loose through busy city streets. Clearly two dogs running around with each other and no human present is not a good sign, so I pulled my car over right away and hopped out to call them to me. As you'll see from this story, it's important to not take your dog's identity for granted.

dog with ID collarThe beagle look anxious and started towards me, but the Doberman seemed to be a very young, excited dog (my guess is that it was his idea to break loose!) and he sort of playfully frolicked away from me. So, I locked my car and took off running after them. I stayed close while not running full speed at them for fear of making them run into a street.

The Doberman did scurry out into the street a few times and then would bounce back towards his friend the beagle. I ran after them for about a half mile before a gentleman in a large pickup truck pulled down a side street and blocked their path. He kept them entertained with his own dog that he had inside his truck while I crept up behind the beagle and scooped him up. The beagle thankfully had a collar on with a dog license tag and an ID tag with his address and phone number (thank GOODNESS) but the Doberman had nothing.

At this point another woman pulled up in her SUV asking if we needed help, and we did! The gentleman put his own dog back in his truck and pulled out a length of rope that he had. I asked them woman in the SUV whether she'd mind putting the dogs in the back of her SUV and she agreed, so as soon as I placed the beagle in her SUV we were able to put the rope around the neck of the Doberman to keep him safe.

At this point we now had both dogs contained in the back of this kind woman's SUV. I got hold of the beagle's ID tag and the woman called the phone number and gave the owner a piece of her mind, quite to my delight I might add. Apparently the owner forgot he had let them out in the backyard and therefore didn't notice that they had actually escaped. The address was located a few blocks from where we were so thankfully the dogs had only galloped a few blocks and we were able to save them. dog ID tagHopefully that dog owner will be more careful next time he lets his dogs outside. How lucky is he that #1 both of his dogs stayed together, and #2 kind strangers were able to capture both of them before they were injured, or worse?!

Moral of the story - make sure your pets have proper ID's on them. I always suggest keeping a sturdy collar on your dog that has their dog license along with an ID with their home address and a phone number to reach you, in addition to a microchip. You just never know what will happen, so it's best to have all bases covered to make sure you can get your baby back!

Do's and Don'ts of Dressing Your Dog for Halloween

Halloween can be great fun for dog owners. After all, who doesn't enjoy seeing their pooch dressed in silly costumes? But it's important to keep the comfort and safety of your dog in mind when picking that special costume for them.

Keep these tips in mind when you're searching for your dog's costume:

  1. Ensure a proper fit. Costumes should never restrict your dog's movement or be too tight for them. Regardless of how cute the costume may be, it won't be cute when your dog refuses to move. A good tip is to start your shopping early, so that you have time to return and exchange ill fitting costumes before Halloween if need be. If possible, bring your dog with you when browsing costumes. That way you can try the costume on them before you buy. Stores like Petco allow leashed pets in the store.
  2. Avoid costumes that cover your dog's eyes, nose, mouth or ears. Not only is this unsafe for your pet, but it obviously wouldn't be a comfortable costume as it would make your dog nervous. Many dog costumes come with hoods that go over your dog's head and most cover their ears. Should you decide to purchase one of these costumes, consider either not using the hood or altering the hood to provide large holes for their ears. Your dog will thank you for it.
  3. Dogs are not accustomed to wearing clothing. As such, try to put the costume on your dog a few times before the big day. This allows them a little time to get used to the feeling of the costume. Use treats and verbal praise to encourage your dog after putting the costume on.
  4. Don't be discouraged if your dog simply refuses to wear a costume. If your dog pulls the costume off or refuses to move in it, opt for a cute Halloween bandana or collar!

Bring Pets Inside During Aerial Mosquito Spraying

A number of cities and towns local to me have begun aerial spraying to combat the threat of EEE and West Nile Virus that mosquitoes bring. While this is a great thing, there are precautions that officials warn you take during the spraying, and some of them affect pets.mosquito spraying

During spraying, people are urged to:

  • Close windows
  • Shut off air conditioning
  • Bring pets inside

It is also suggested that you wash any items left outside during spraying before using them again. This includes patio furniture, fruits and vegetables, pet bowls and pet toys.

Keep an eye on your local news station, newspaper or city website and be sure to keep your family and your pets safe during aerial spraying.

Blue-Green Algae Advisories Pose Risks for Dogs

blue green algaeWhile conducting routine water quality monitoring in the area, the MA Department of Public Health confirmed high concentrations of blue-green algae in the Charles River and in waters in the towns of Newton, Waltham and Weston.

As a result, the state asked local communities to issue advisories related to the blue-green alegae (cyanobacteria). This is very important for dog owners to keep in mind, as consumption of the contaminated water can prove fatal for pets. Blue-green algae is idenitified as being moderately to severely toxic to pets.

Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, are aquatic bacteria that can produce toxins which are harmful to humans, dogs and other mammals. If you see water that looks bright green or contains bright green strands avoid contact with the water as much as possible!

A combination of factors, such as excess nutrients, warm temperatures, and sunlight, encourage blue-green algae growth.

Some common signs of poisoning by blue-green algae include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stool or black, tarry stool
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Jaundice
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Shock
  • Excessive secretions (e.g., salivation, lacrimation, etc.)
  • Neurologic signs (including muscle tremors, muscle rigidity, paralysis, etc.)
  • Blue discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes
  • Difficulty breathing

Dogs that enjoy swimming and playing in lakes and ponds may be exposed to blue-green algae. Hunting dogs are especially predisposed due to increased exposure outdoors.

Unfortunately, there is no antidote for the toxins produced by blue-green algae. Immediate veterinary care is imperative. If you suspect your dog was exposed to blue-green algae, contact Pet Poison Helpline immediately for guidance.

Summer Brings Threat for Pets and People - Rabies

There have been 2 rabid animal attacks in the past 3 days around SouthCoast Massachusetts, so it's important to recognize the behavior of a rabid animal and act appropriately to protect yourself and your pets from being bit.

It's important to distinguish between normal animal behavior and possible rabies-related activity. For instance, in my local area, one of the rabid animals was a woodchuck. It is completely normal for woodchucks to be out during the day, so simply seeing a woodchuck scurry across the road does not mean it is rabid. It would also be fairly normal to see a racoon rummaging through garbage.

kitten rabiesWhat is not normal though, is if an animal comes at you in a forceful manner. Wild animals are supposed to at least be timid of humans, if not afraid, so if a wild animal starts to go after you, it's time to worry.

Rabies virus causes an acute encephalitis in all warm-blooded animals (so no birds, snakes or fish!) and the outcome is almost always fatal. Acute encephalitis is an inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. The first symptoms of rabies may be nonspecific and include things like lethargy, fever or vomiting. Symptoms progress in a matter of days to include cerebral dysfunction, cranial nerve dysfunction, ataxia (lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements), weakness, paralysis, seizures, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, abnormal behavior, aggression, and/or self-mutilation.

Rabid animal behavior can include running in circles or other random movements, making strange noises, biting the air and chasing people and animals.

In the U.S., 93 out of 100 reported cases of rabies involve wild animals. Raccoons are the most common wild animal to become infected.

Small mammals such as squirrels, rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks and rabbits are almost never found to be infected with rabies and have not been known to cause rabies among humans in the U.S.

It is very important to keep your pets rabies vaccinations up-to-date. Massachusetts state law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies by the time they are 6-months old. The second round of rabies shot is administered 9-12 months after the initial vaccine, and newer vaccines are good for 3-years. Your veterinarian will provide you with a rabies vaccine schedule to make sure any boosters are taken care of and that the vaccine remains current.

If you adopt or purchase an animal and were not provided with a rabies certificate, bring it to your veterinarian within 30-days to have it vaccinated. This will not harm the animal, even if they did receive the vaccine before.

The real danger is that unvaccinated dogs, cats, and ferrets exposed to a rabid animal are suggested to be euthanized immediately. If the owner is unwilling to have this done, the animal needs to be placed in strict isolation for 6 months and vaccinated 1 month before being released.

Animals with expired vaccinations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Dogs and cats that are bit but are currently vaccinated are generally kept under observation for 45 days.

Here is a map of the most common suspects in rabies cases according to region:

 

map of rabies

Make sure your beloved pet stays up-to-date with their rabies vaccine and keep them away from any suspicious wild animals. Should you see a wild animal acting strangly, call your local animal control or the non-emergency number to your local police department to have them come out and inspect the animal.

Education Can Help Decrease Dog Bites

In light of recent events that are happening in my hometown, I am going to touch upon some safety tips that can help decrease dog bites.

This past week, an 11-year old girl was bit by a pit bull at a local business after reportedly trying to take a rawhide chew away from it while she and her mother were visiting this business. The story is still being covered and details are still being released, but I feel strongly about educating children (and adults) about the proper way to interact with dogs.

Dogs, even familiar ones, can react unexpectedly to changes in their environment we might take for granted. A person moving quickly or unexpectedly or making a loud, sudden noise are things that might trigger a negative response from a dog.

The truly upsetting part is that the local media is now fixated on the story and have opened a can of worms by asking the question, "Should pit bulls be banned in New Bedford, MA?"

Ugh. Really?

I have much to say on the topic, but I'll keep it short. People are the root cause of issues related to animals. We are higher on the food chain and supposed to be the smarter species, therefore the fate of many, if not all, species lay in our hands. Humans are responsible for breeding the different types of dogs, and humans are responsible for choosing pit bulls as their go-to dog to display their "toughness" or to "earn respect." I see young men skulking around the city all the time with big, muscular dogs with studded collars on and a chain as a leash. Personally I think they are trying to make up for something they are lacking, if you catch my drift.

These dogs don't have a say in their lives or the destiny, and it isn't fair. But I digress -- here are some safety tips which I hope you will share with the young ones in your life to avoid dog bites or incidents in the future:

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not run from a dog or scream.
  • Remain motionless (e.g., "be still like a tree") when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., "be still like a log").
  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.

Here is a handy graphic you may use as well:

How to greet a dog

Give Your Older Dog Joint Relief

My dog Gadget is now 9, which isn't old per say, but I can tell she is beginning to experience slight arthiritis in her back legs. This is quite common for a lot of dogs as they age actually. My mother's 11-year-old Corgi is experiencing the same thing, though his symptoms are more pronounced since he is so low to the ground and long!

I began giving Gadget a daily dose of glucosamine and chondroitin. Since glucosamine is an amino sugar which is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans, and glycosaminoglycans are a major component of joint cartilage, supplemental glucosamine may help to prevent cartilage degeneration and treat arthritis. Chondroitin is a molecule that occurs naturally in the body and is a major component of cartilage. By adding these two components to a dog's diet, the effects of arthritis can at least be slowed.

I give Gadget two treats of Zuke's Hip Action Beef Treats daily. These treats contain 300mg of glucosamine and 50mg of chondroitin per treat, and Gadget finds them delicious which only makes things easier.

I also add eight drops of Joint Resolution by happytails to Gadget's water bowl every day. This line of products uses all natural ingredients which you can read thoroughly about on their website.

By using these two products, I've noticed a slight difference in Gadget's comfort. I won't say that I've seen a huge improvement just yet, but I'm going to give it some time to continue using the products regularly.

Do you have any suggestions for comforting older dogs with arthritis? Tell us in the comment section!

Safe & Sound Fireworks

Startling, scary, unexpected, LOUD! For these and a host of other reasons, most dogs have an adverse reaction to fireworks. Here are a few tips to keep your pooch safe & sound during the upcoming 4th of July firework shows: 

  • The safest option is to let your dog stay at home and play music or keep the TV volume up. If your dog has never experienced the sound of fireworks before, playing a recording of the sound will help you to assess your dog's reaction and might actually help them become familiar with it. If you already know your dog has severe anxiety, please discuss with your vet the best options for a safe holiday.
  • If you are not able to keep them inside, keep your dogs securely on a leash at all times. Because of the sporadic booming sounds of the fireworks display, even the most loyal companions are liable to take off running for the hills. So many dogs run away on the 4th and some do not make it back home.. please be careful!
  • Exercise your dog before the festivities. If your dog arrives in a calm state, they may be less likely to get overly excited or anxious.
  • Many people have had success using the ThundershirtTM which applies a gentle pressure to relieve anxiety without medication. Take a look at some customer testimonials from their website to see if this is something your dog might benefit from.

Other Precautions: 

  • Your dog should always wear a collar with ID tags (up-to-date phone numbers and address). Using a harness is also recommended since dogs can easily slip out of their collars when anxiety sets in.
  • Microchipping is also an effective way to help reunite lost pets but don't forget to registering the chip every year to keep it active and current.
  • As we've warned before, "people food" can be very dangerous to pets. Please remind your guests and kids not to feed dogs from their plate. Skewers, open coals, alcohol, and chocolate are some common 4th of July offenders.
  • If your dogs are braving the daytime parades and parties, remember to keep cool, clean water out and give them a quiet, shady spot to relax. If it's an especially hot day, the best bet is to keep your dog in an air-conditioned house if possible.

God Bless America! Have fun & be safe! 

Is Your Dog's Food on the Latest Recall List?

dog eating foodA sizeable recall by a major supplier of pet foods, Diamond Pet Foods, is growing concern throughout the U.S. and Canada. The recall is triggered by Salmonella infections that people contracted after coming into contact with certain pet foods.

What To Do:

  1. Check your pet's food and treats immediately to see if they are included with recent recall lists.
  2. If any of your products are on the recall list, stop feeding them to your pets immediately.
  3. If your pet consumed any portion of the recalled product, consult your veterinarian, even if they do not show any immediate symptoms.
  4. If your pet does become ill, or worse, after consuming any of the recalled product, file a complaint with the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your state.

For a complete list of recalled brands and foods, visit the Diamond Pet Foods Recall Page.

 

Warm Weather Brings Influx of Ticks and Fleas

A few weeks ago we covered mosquitoes and the threat they can pose for your dog(s). But we also mentioned that reports have pointed to a higher-than-normal influx of ticks and fleas this spring and summer. While many of us were probably thankful for the mild winter most of us experienced, it is also presenting pest-prevention challenges for pet owners.dog repelling fleas

Depending on where you live, the type of tick you may encounter would vary. Ticks that are found in the Massachusetts-Rhode Island area would be the American Dog tick, the Blacklegged tick, the Brown Dog tick and the Lone Star tick. Check out the Center for Disease Control's page on tick populations for more information on geographic locations.

Fleas, as we all know, can be found everywhere.

Fleas come with a host of problems -- infestation, allergies and tapeworm.

The most common issue for dogs is flea allergy dermatitis. My dog Gadget experiences this, and it is not pleasant. As fleas as feeding, they inject their saliva into the skin of the dog. Components of the saliva are often allergenic, and many dogs end up suffering from an allergic reaction. They bite and scratch themselves and sometimes lose their hair. Gadget becomes so uncomfortable that she will rub her body against the carpet as she runs to help relieve the itch.

Ticks transmit over a dozen different diseases to dogs (and humans!) -- Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, and more. Many of these diseases can be deadly.

dog scratchingSo what does this mean for dog owners? Well, for starters, prevention is key! There are a number of preventative medicines on the market for dog owners to repel ticks and fleas. As always, it's always best to talk with your personal veterinarian when making your decision.

Advantage is produced to quickly kill all stages of existing fleas and protect against further infestations. It does not protect against ticks or mosquitoes.

Advantix was developed especially for dogs (not good for homes with cats!) and offers protection against ticks, fleas, mosquitos, flies and lice.

Frontline Plus kills fleas, ticks, flea larvae and lice.

Do your research and determine which product will work best for you and your dog, but don't wait until it's too late to start protecting your beloved pet from the pests that this spring and summer will bring.

Unusually Warm Winter Will Increase Heartworm Risk for Dogs

Those of you who live in New England (where both Melissa and myself live) know that this past winter was not the usual, miserable and snowy winter that we are accustomed to. In fact, in my area, we only saw snow maybe 4 or 5 times in total the whole season, with no notable accumulation. I am not complaining about that though!

mosquitoHowever, it is important to note that because of the mild winter season, mosquitoes, ticks and fleas are expected to be prevalent this spring and summer. This means that pet owners need to be educated and prepared to combat these parasites that can cause serious illness and discomfort for their dogs.

We're going to start by focusing on mosquitoes and the threat they bring.

Mosquitoes spread heartworms -- the most dangerous parasitic worms that infect dogs. Hundreds of thousands of cases of canine heartworms are reported each year in the U.S., and because mosquitoes are responsible for spreading the disease between dogs, that means that every dog is at risk for getting heartworms. Scary, right?

Mosquitoes will bite a dog and deposit tiny immature heartworms, called larvae. These parasites enter the dog via the bite wound and migrate beneath the skin, eventually reaching the heart and lungs. These unwelcome intruders can grow up to 12 inches in length. Heartworm disease is debilitating and may even prove fatal.

Early signs of heartworms can be easy to miss, making the risk even more frightening for dog owners. The earliest signs of an infected dog could include coughing or wheezing, and an unwillingness to play or tiredness. Because these early signs can easily be confused for other things, the only true way to determine whether your dog has heartworm disease is to have your veterinarian administer a heartworm test.

Treatment for heartworms can be lengthy, expensive and difficult for your dog to cope with. Dogs must receive a series of arsenic-based shots to kill the worms and must spend up to 6-8 weeks in an environment that will not exert the dog's heart and lungs. This could likely mean you'd end up crating your dog for that time period to limit activity and prevent overexertion. Who wants to do that to their dog?!

That is why it is imperative that dog owners take preventative steps rather than wait until it's too late. There are a number of heartworm prevention medications on the market today, but as always, it's most important that you speak with your regular veterinarian to determine the best prevention for you and your pet. All dogs should also be tested for heartworm before they begin any preventative program.funny dog picture about mosquitoes

Heartgard is one such preventative treatment. I have had Gadget on Heartgard for years now, as suggested by her vet and I have never had any issues with it. Reviews show that Heartgard is well-tolerated by dogs, and it comes in a beef chewable tablet that Gadget seems to enjoy. It's imperative that once any preventative program is started, that owners stay on top of schedule and give the medication to their dog at the same time every month. Gadget gets her Heartgard chew on the first day of every month.

Heartgard treats and controls roundworms and hookworms too, which are two of the most common intestinal parasites found in dogs. Roundworms and hookworms are very easy for dogs to ingest during normal activities such as playing outside and nursing as puppies.

So if your dog isn't already on some form of heartworm prevention, schedule a consultation with your veterinarian to discuss how you should be protecting your pet, and keep an eye out for our follow-up blogs on tick and flea prevention.

Five "Human Foods" That Make Great Training Treats

You already know that the majority of human foods are not healthy for your pet. But did you know that there are certain human foods that could be used as occasion treats for your dog? These foods will even add a nutritional boost to your dog's food!

  1. Raw baby carrots - Gadget loves raw baby carrots, and fresh vegetables are a great addition to your dog's diet, provided it's in moderation. The crunchiness of the raw carrot also satisfies her, and the small size make them easy to use as training treats.
  2. Frozen green beans - Another great vegetable that is usually found in all of our freezers! Dogs love frozen green beans and these low calorie vegetables are a great source of vitamin K and vitamin C.
  3. Apples - Apples are a great crunchy treat for your dog. Just don't let them eat the core and try not to let them eat the seeds. A few seeds won't hurt, but harmful effects are more likely if eaten often.
  4. Peanut butter - Dogs do not experience peanut allergies nearly as commonly as humans do, so peanut butter is generally a healthy, high-protein treat for dogs. This yummy treat can be smeared on one of your dog's toys or let them try to lick it out of the container as a fun game/treat!
  5. Melon/pineapple - During summer months, nothing is more satisfying to my dog than getting a little slice of watermelon, melon or pineapple. These fruits can be high in sugar so they should be served sparingly, but the moist, soft fruits make dogs go crazy with delight!
vitamin K, vitamin C, and manganese

How to Safely Walk Your Dog

Many people take safety for granted when they are walking their dogs. They just attach the leash to Fido's collar and go out the door. But there are definitely steps any responsible dog owner should follow to ensure a safe, happy walk for both owner and pet.

group at dog walkStep 1 - Make sure the collar is adjusted properly so that it will not slip over your dog's head, even when pulled. There would be nothing worse than enjoying a pleasant walk with your dog and then having them pull out of their collar and run away. Just make sure you are still able to slip two fingers underneath it so that it's not too tight! Also, consider using a harness if your dog likes to pull. A harness could provide both comfort for your dog since it takes pressure off the neck, and more security for you during your walk.

Step 2 - If using a traditional leash, be sure to put your hand through the handle and then wrap the handle around your wrist for added security. And regardless of whether you are using a traditional leash or a retractable leash, never walk with it fully extended. Leaving the leash fully extended will not allow ample time or leverage to retract the leash and pull your pet in should an emergency arise. Giving your dog too much room will also allow them to possibly walk in areas where they shouldn't, such as the street.

Step 3 - Be sure to bring along water if your walk will be lengthy, and waste bags. Always allow your dog to rest and sit in the shade if they start to pant.two dogs on leashes walking

Step 4 - Plan the length and pace of your walk according to the age and health of your dog. Older dogs should be allowed to walk at a slower pace and for a shorter distance than younger, more agile dogs may want to.

Step 5 - If walking at night, it's a good idea for both you and your dog to wear some type of bright, reflective clothing or accessory. See our blog post on walking safely at night for more information on that.

Step 6 - Use caution when approaching other people with dogs. Only allow your dogs to meet if the other dog owner says it's ok. It's also smart to avoid stray and wild animals, as you never know what diseases or health issues they may carry and your dog's health needs to be your first concern.

Step 7 - Keep your dog on its leash at all times in public. Only allow them off-leash in areas that are specifically designated for off-leash use.

Happy walking!