Health and Safety of your Dogs

October 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Health and Safety of your Dogs

A world without dogs would be crazy. It would be lonely for most of us if we lost our favourite canine companions. Fortunately, almost every household in the US had had at least one dog.

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Dogs are animals that need special care and extra attention from us humans. Compared to cats, dogs are more active and showy to their companions. Cats just lie and sleep most of the day. It only moves toward you to get is dose of petting or to ask for food. Most of the time, cats would rather sleep or groom themselves.

Dogs are different. They are playful, they interact with other people and other dogs as well. They show appreciation to their owner, in one way or another. Men and dogs have become ultimate partners, helping each other… enjoying a complimentary relationship.

Dogs are also utilized outside the home, even in law enforcement. The police have canine units that help them in searching for different dangerous substances or objects. Sometimes, K-9 units are also used to search for missing people. If well trained, these special dogs can detect or identify crime suspects by tagging the smell.

Even blind people immensely benefit from dogs. These dogs serve as the “eyes” of their blind master. These dogs enable blind people to live relatively normal lives, allowing them to leave their homes and enjoy the outdoors much like other people who can see.

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Dogs have different personalities. It really depends on the breed or the dog’s family history. From being a puppy to an adult dog, they are accompanied by their human masters. These people are familiar to dogs and how they live everyday. The dog’s everyday routine is usually dependent on their master’s lifestyle.

However, some dogs experience anxiety that almost comes instantly when they are left alone by their master. If they are left alone, these dogs can become destructive, which is their means of expressing frustration or loneliness. This is actually called separation anxiety in dogs. Dogs can become restless and bored, and if they see that their master is not around, they may go out to chew on anything that they can get their paws on — from slippers, to furniture, to other objects found in the house.

In fact, chewing on certain objects that have the master’s smell (socks, shoe, the sofa, or even the door) is one of the many symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs. Other symptoms to watch out for would be continuous barking, uncontrolled “pooping”, and various ways to get master’s attention.

Probable causes for such behavior often include dogs that were not properly socialized or dogs that have been living in different homes. With this in mind, owners should take a second look at their dogs and see if they exhibit such behavior. This will give them the idea that their dogs might be suffering from separation anxiety.

Dealing with separation anxiety in dogs can be serious if not threatening for your carpet or sofa. Begin with a no “goodbye” technique. Owners should not give their dogs any hugs before they leave the home. This will only make the dog long for more attention from the owner. Another tip would be to leave some toys or goodies that will help your dog consume its time and takes its attention away from its anxiety.

Keep Your Dogs Safe

October 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Health and Safety of your Dogs

Dogs have been “man’s best friend” for thousands of years. Since dogs watch over their owners, it’s only right that dog-loving humans keep their pets safe in return. And now, dogs need our extra attention more than ever. With a little thought, you can easily create a safe home for your precious pups.

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As you know, dogs have a keen curiosity. Take a look at your home from your puppy’s perspective and you’ll likely find all sorts of interesting items to check out. You may not realize that dogs first sniff, then mouth things to inspect them. So it’s especially important that you keep the following out of your dog’s reach:

insect traps
phone and electric cords
ashtrays and cigarettes
open doors and windows
rubber bands
housecleaning chemicals
candles
Christmas tree ornaments
uncovered trash cans
medications
foodstuffs like: chocolate and grapes
plastic bags
batteries
anti-freeze
valuable items, like jewelry, photos, and books

Don’t forget the great outdoors when inspecting your dog’s area. Dogs, especially puppies, find plants fun playthings. They love to dig in the dirt or pull branches off shrubs. Because of this, make sure the plants in and around your home aren’t a health risk to your dog. The following common house and garden plants are toxic to dogs:

English ivy
dieffenbachia
mistletoe
philodendron
elephant ear
caladium
boxwood
holly berry
azaleas
chinaberry trees
oleander
wisteria
hydrangea

Other ways to protect your pup include keeping him or her safely confined to your home. Wandering dogs are more likely to be injured by vehicles or meet up with unkind people.

Make sure your yard is fenced and the fencing is tall enough and strong enough to keep your dog from roaming. Many dogs try to dig out under the fence, so it’s crucial you regularly check for gaps around the fence perimeter. Teach everyone in your family to carefully close doors and keep gates latched.

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Additionally, it’s important that your pet wears a collar with an identification tag at all times, in the event he or she gets lost. In fact, most cities require that all dogs wear a collar and tag. This way, it’s more likely your dog will be returned home safely to you. You may also consider microchipping, where a small silicone chip containing your contact information is painlessly inserted under the dog’s skin. Most animal shelters and veterinarians automatically scan lost pets in search of a microchip. However, an identification tag will be useful if your puppy is found by an average citizen.

If you reside in an area prone to natural disasters, keep an emergency pet supply kit handy. Include a week’s worth of food and water, as well as any medication your dog needs. Don’t forget a photo of your pet too, in case you’re separated at any time.

Mutt Matters: Dealing with Dog Separation Anxiety

October 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Health and Safety of your Dogs

Your dog’s usual barks or “bow wows” may not always carry the same message. As your dog approaches you, don’t be fooled. Your pet, that may very well be your best friend, may not be asking for the same doggy munchies. Maybe – just maybe – your mutt-friend is experiencing an overwhelming feeling of fear – separation anxiety in dogs.

Separation anxiety in dogs commences after they sense a hint that their master is about to leave. Getting the car keys, turning of the knobs, and other usual morning routine – these hints act like stimuli, or more appropriately, warning signs that tend to get the dog’s attention.

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This scenario can lead into disaster as dogs, due to separation anxiety, start to behave destructively. Destructive behavior may include leaving furniture, shoes and other objects inside the house or near the dog’s spot full of paw marks, bites, and scratches.

Sometimes, just like how the puppy howls after being separated from its mother, dogs will bellow unhesitatingly as manifestation of its separation anxiety. Studies prove that dogs, like humans, can also feel an overwhelming fear whenever they feel being left behind. Fortunately, similar to how human anxiety is taken cared of, separation anxiety in dogs is also treated via several methods and medications. To be sure, treatment of animal boredom and anxiety is quite different. Separation anxiety in dogs usually occurs in due to the “super close” attachment between dog and master. Dogs that are “too close” to its master tend to demand constant attention from its handler.

Even the most fervent animal owners must understand that while showing love is important, it is also vital to train a dog to be independent and accept temporary periods of separation. Animals, dogs in particular, that struggle with separation anxiety will show anxiety-related behavior whenever it feels alone or understands that it will eventually be left alone. Having a pet that behaves oddly because of separation anxiety is definitely a problem. In mild cases, your animal may just show a bit of panting or less destructive behavior. In serious cases, dogs may cause intolerable damage to your property and those of your neighbors. You wouldn’t want an annoying neighbor to pester you with qualms about your dog right?

At this juncture, it is important to have information on how to deal with your mutt menace. There are several practical solutions to effectively address separation anxiety in dogs. Check them out.

Encourage Independence

A little distance isn’t always equal to cruelty and neglect. Train your animals to be independent by not always giving in to all its whims. Let them also play with other people so whenever you are forced to get out of the house, your dog wouldn’t end up having shredded sofas and paw-markings on the front door.

Promote Independence

It is also important to make your dog’s house or spot clean, habitable and healthy for your pet. The less conducive the place is, the more the animal would like leave in oder to go to you. This would further strengthen the animal’s attachment with the owner. However, if you let the animal feel comfortable where it is supposed to stay, eventually, your dog will learn to “stay”, and actually enjoy it. Treating separation anxiety in dogs is important to the health of your pet and to maintaining order in your home.

 

Caring For Your Dog’s Neck and Spine: Dog Collar Issues

October 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Health and Safety of your Dogs

On one of my visits to my chiropractor, he suggested I pick up the book The Well Adjusted Dog by Dr. Daniel Kamen. The book is written by a chiropractor who also does adjustments on animals, although he doesn’t advertise this. Apparently, chiropractors are not allowed to practice on animals in many states, which I didn’t realize, since I live in Canada and this doesn’t seem to be a problem here in my province. However, what is good to know is that veterinarians in the U.S. are allowed to do adjustments on animals… that is if you can find one that’s studied chiropractic medicine. Not an easy task.

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In any case, Dr. Kamen wrote this book (among others) so that a dog owner could learn to do their own adjustments on their dogs. The book is very informative and walks you through the anatomy of a dog’s spine, teaches you how to feel for mis alignments and provides a variety of techniques that you can do at home. Many of the techniques focus on how to release tense muscles, especially if you’re not comfortable with actually working on spinal column.

While reading the book, I came across a very interesting section which talks about dog collars and how they can easily cause neck problems for a dog. Most of it boils down to our (ie human’s) improper handling of leash control on certain collars. Here’s what Dr. Kamen has to say about dog collars:

“The improper use of collars is the number one cause of cervical (neck) subluxations in dogs. Of all the places to put undue stress, the cervical region, especially the upper two cervical vertebrae, is the most harmful. It is at this point that the body meets the brain.” (Dr. Daniel Kamen, The Well Adjusted Dog, p. 24)

** What Types of Collars Are Available **

I thought I was doing well by using a dog harness. Ha! I quickly learned that this might actually be the cause of my dog’s disc problems located where her neck meets her shoulders. I was even more surprised at what he said was the best collar to use.

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Basically, you will find that there are five major types of collars in use by most dog owners: the regular flat nylon and leather collars, the choke collar, the prong collar, the leader or head collars, and the harness.

** Flat Collars **

The regular flat collars are what most dog owners often choose, however they can also be the most dangerous type. These collars are used for hanging your dog’s tags and for simply attaching the leash to the metal loop. This collar type should never be used for dog training… nor should they be used if you have a hard time controlling your dog while out walking.

When frustrated, owners tend to pull back on the leash to stop the dog from pulling and running, or in many cases, to get them to move along if they’ve stopped to sniff something. This yanking will cause tremendous muscle tightening in the cervical neck area, which in turn results in cervical subluxations. This is one of the largest causes of disc and other neck problems in dogs. Unfortunately, most of these disc problems don’t show up until much later in life. At this point, dog owners either put their dogs on medication for pain control and muscle relaxation or resort to surgery to try to repair the damage of degenerating discs.

** Leader Head Collars **

These appear to be an ideal way to train your dog. A leader collar fits over the head of your dog, much like a muzzle does. The leash attaches to a metal loop located on the collar under the dog’s chin. The idea behind it is to turn the dog’s head to “lead” them where you want to go. Sometimes humans may turn the head too sharply or too hard in frustration when trying to train their dog. This, like the regular collar, can cause upper neck problems.

** Choke Collars **

Caring for Your Senior Dog

October 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Health and Safety of your Dogs

Your senior dog has given you many wonderful years of companionship. Don’t you owe it to him to make sure his later years are easy and comfortable?

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How do you know if your dog is approaching his golden years? Different breeds of dogs mature at different rates, but a good rule of thumb is the larger the dog, the faster they mature. Based on this if your dog is seven he is probably experiencing, or at least approaching, his senior years. When your dog hits this stage in his life it’s important that he receive the right amount of exercise, nutrition, and veterinary care.

Signs of an Aging Dog

How does your dog show the signs of age? A healthy senior dog will most likely have a decrease in energy level. He may nap more, or become tired more easily. Your senior dog may also be stiff after play or upon getting up after a rest. How do you know the difference between normal wear and tear and arthritis or an injury? If your dog loosens up after mild activity he’s probably just showing some signs of age. Dogs who seem to feel worse as the days go on should be seen by a vet to rule out other possibilities.

A senior dog can benefit from comfy sleeping quarters. There are several companies out there that make bedding for dogs designed to take the pressure off of aging and aching joints. These are often made of memory foam or eggshell foam, and have removable covers that can be machine washed in case your senior dog has an accident.
Exercise

A good exercise regimen can help your pet avoid problems common in the senior dog such as weight gain and arthritis. Exercise also improves digestion and circulation. Just make sure you don’t overdo it! A leisurely walk or two a day plus some low-key playing should do the trick. And always make sure that your dog stays well-hydrated.

Nutrition

As your dog ages, his dietary needs will change. Be sure to choose a food that is appropriate for you dog’s needs and conditions! As a general rule of thumb, a good senior dog food will have fewer calories, enough protein, and vitamins and minerals that help your dog’s coat and teeth stay strong and healthy.

Weight gain due to slowing metabolisms is a common problem with senior dogs. How do you know if your dog is overweight? Try this simple test. Put your hands on his backbone and feel for his ribcage. If you can’t feel it, chances are your dog needs to shed a few pounds. Since this is a common problem among older dogs there are a number of foods on the market with lower fat and calories.

Veterinary Care

Your dog will be experiencing lots of emotional and physical changes as he ages. Because of this, it is important to keep up on his health! In addition to his regular check-ups and shots, ask your vet about twice-annual geriatric screenings.
Give your senior dog the right care, and he’ll really enjoy his golden years!

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