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Clues to Winter Blues

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Clues to Winter Blues

Learn signs and tips for helping alleviate your pet’s winter blues

With fall drawing to a close, many of us are looking at the approach of cold, inclement weather, earlier nightfall and limited outdoor time. Regardless of where we live, the busier schedules of work and school, holidays and other commitments often leave us with less time to spend at home and outdoors, and less time to spend with our pets.

The sudden change in schedule can limit time for company, play and attention. These reduced opportunities for exercise can sometimes leave pets bored, stressed and even depressed.

How can I tell if my pet has the blues?

Not all pets will have the blues when winter rolls around. But there are some signs to look for to make sure your pet is just hunkered down, and not in distress or struggling. Find these signs and symptoms listed below.

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Understanding Fear in Dogs

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Every dog or animal with a reasonably developed central nervous system has fear. Fear is one of the basic drives, along with hunger, thirst, sleep, sex, and sociality. Out-of-control fear is as much of a problem as any other drive that is out-of-control. But fear in the normal amount is essential, as it helps to keep a dog out of harm’s way. However, like people, dogs are not born with fear.

In dogs, fear responses begin between 6 and 8 weeks of age. By three weeks after its onset, fear plateaus at a level normal for pups and for the specific genetic complement they have. There are three factors which alone or in combination act to determine the level of fear any given dog shows.

The first of these is genetic. The dog inherits a predisposition for a high level of fear. Thus, what would cause a mild startle response in a dog with a normal fear level will drive the over-reactive dog ballistic.

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Separation Anxiety – Please Don’t Leave Me Alone!

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Back-to-school season is a time of transition for the whole family, as parents and children begin to adjust to a new routine. It’s also a difficult time for pets, who have grown accustomed to some extra attention during summer vacation. Dogs are social pack animals – they normally prefer being with others. Usually dogs learn to be alone for periods of time without a problem, but for some, being alone is unacceptable. Separation anxiety in dogs is much like a panic attack in a person. Symptoms usually start within 20-40 minutes after the pet parent leaves the home.

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Top Summer Safety Tips

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Our pets love summer just as much as we do! For many, it’s the best time of year to be out, about, and enjoying all that the season has to offer. 

While there is certainly nothing wrong with taking your pet out for hikes, swimming, or running, keep in mind that warm weather can be dangerous. It’s hard for pets to keep cool when the sun is beating down, and animals don’t sweat like people do. Dogs do sweat, but not very much, and it does little to cool them off. As you probably know, dogs more commonly cool themselves down through panting. When there is only hot air for a dog to breathe, it’s a lot harder for that dog to keep cool. Read on to learn some important summer safety tips for dogs:

1. Never, ever, EVER leave your dog in a hot car 

Okay, you’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s so important that we still decided to list it first. It can take minutes – yes, MINUTES – for a pet to develop heat stroke and suffocate in a car. Most people don’t realize how hot it gets in parked cars. On a 78 degree day, for instance, temperatures in a car can reach 90 degrees in the shade and top 160 degrees if parked directly in the sun! Your best bet is to leave your dog home on warm days. If you’re driving around with your dog in the car, bring water and a water dish and take your dog with you when you leave the car.

2. Make sure your dog is protected from parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes

If not protected, your dog is at risk for heartworm, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a host of other nasty and dangerous conditions. And don’t forget, many of these diseases can be caught by people too!

3. Keep your dog’s paws cool

When the sun is blazing, surfaces like asphalt or metal can get really hot! Try to keep your pet off of hot asphalt; not only can it burn paws, but it can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating. It’s also not a good idea to drive around with your dog in the bed of a truck – the hot metal can burn paws quickly (and they can fall out to be injured or killed in an accident).

4. Your dog should always have access to fresh drinking water and shade

Our dogs get much thirstier than we do when they get hot, and other than panting and drinking, they really have no way to cool themselves down. Keep your pet in the shade as often as possible. While dogs and cats like to sunbathe, direct sunlight can overheat them (especially dogs) and can cause heat exhaustion or stroke.

5. Give your dog his very own “kiddy pool”

Dogs who love the water, naturally love it even more during the hot months, and getting wet keeps them cool. Providing a small, kid-sized pool will go over big.

6. Don’t assume your dog can swim well

Just because dogs instinctively know how to swim, doesn’t mean they’re good swimmers. And if your dog jumps in your swimming pool, he might not be able to get out without help and could easily drown. Make sure your dog can’t get into your swimming pool without you around.

7. Dogs get sunburns too!

Believe it or not, dogs can sunburn, especially those with short or light-colored coats. And just like with people, sunburns can be painful for a dog and overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about sunscreens for your dog (don’t assume a sunscreen for people is appropriate for your dog).

Perhaps the most important tip is to pay attention to your dog – you’ll know when he seems uncomfortable. Summer can be a great time to spend with your dog, but it’s important to keep these tips in mind!

Source of content: The Pet Health Network

Avoiding Springtime Hazards

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By the time the cold winter winds and snowstorms are replaced by pleasant sun-warmed spring days, pets are more than ready to return outdoors. Although spring is probably one of the most welcomed seasons, pet owners need to keep in mind that with the change in weather and increase of outdoor activity comes an increase of dangers for their beloved animal friends. Owners should be aware of these springtime hazards some of which might seem trivial, but can have fatal consequences.

Fertilizer – The first thing many people like to do when they are sure winter is gone for good is get their yards back in shape. It’s common knowledge that many fertilizer products can cause serious problems if ingested by animals or humans. It is still important to pay close attention to what the product labels say. Just because you see the term “natural” does not mean the product is nontoxic. There are also less-obvious problems lurking in gardens and lawns of which pet owners might not be aware.

Mulch – Many people use mulch to complete their landscaping projects. However, there are certain types of mulch that pet owners should avoid. Cocoa bean mulch, for example, is known to poison dogs. Because this mulch is made from the hulls of cacao beans, it has a rich chocolate aroma that entices animals to eat it. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is a caffeine derivative toxic to animals and can even kill them if they ingest enough.

Insects – With the yard free of toxic fertilizer, there is still the increase of insects and other pests to think about. Tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme’s, may hospitalize your pet. And some fleaborne diseases, such as Bartonella, can also be detrimental to your pet’s health. There are many different products on the market to help control these little bugs. Pet owners should be sure to consult with their veterinarians before using these products.

Pesticide products are often a popular combatant to pest problems, but it is important that pet owners keep pets indoors for as long as the instructions suggest. If a dog or cat accidentally gets outdoors during pesticide treatment and eats the grass or even walks on it and then licks its paws, they could begin convulsing, vomiting, having diarrhea or internal bleeding and could even become unconscious.

Allergies – The change in the weather, pollination of plants, and toxic particles that sneak from yard to yard, could all be the cause of allergic reactions in household pets. Scratching, sneezing, losing excess amounts of fur, red or dry skin, constant licking and nasal discharge all are signs that the animal is having an allergic reaction to something. Pet owners should visit their vet for the allergy medicine or shampoo that will work best for their particular problem.

Springtime is a time for sunny days, beautiful blooms and enjoying the outdoors. Just remember that along with the warmer weather come some potential hazards for your furry friend. Your knowledge and awareness of these dangers will help keep your beloved pet healthy and happy.

Tips for Grooming Your Dog In Winter

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During winter, pet owners will sometimes neglect the regular grooming schedule used during warmer months. Regular grooming isn’t always top-of-mind when it’s cold outside, it gets dark earlier and when pets tend to spend more time indoors. But it’s just as important to groom your pets during the winter months as it is the rest of the year.

Skin & Coat Care
Winter weather can be harsh on your pets, especially on their skin and coat. Dry air which is common during winter can dry out your pet’s skin. Dry, itchy skin leads to scratching which in turn can lead to hot spots or infections. It’s important to continue to bathe your pet on a regular basis, and the quality and type of the shampoo you choose is critical. Some shampoos can remove too many of the essential oils in your pet’s skin which contributes to dry skin problems. Consider using a shampoo that contains oatmeal or other moisturizers. Make sure your dog is completely dry before going outside, because a wet dog is more likely to become chilled. This is especially true of small breeds or those with short hair. Prolonged exposure to cold results in hypothermia, and it is most likely to occur when a dog is wet.

Winter Haircuts
Some owners believe giving a dog a haircut during cold weather compromises the dog because it needs its coat to keep warm. While dogs need to keep warm, it’s also true most pets don’t live outdoors all the time. House dogs don’t need to rely on long fur and a thick undercoat for warmth as wild animals or sled dogs do. It’s absolutely okay to give your dog a haircut in winter. If you’re concerned about your dog’s being cold outside, consider a longer trim or a doggie sweater.

Regular Brushing
It’s important to maintain regular brushing during the winter months. Keeping your pet’s coat free of tangles and loose hair will keep it healthy and able to properly insulate your pet.

Nail Trimming
Often neglected in colder months, nail trimming is an important part of your pet’s health and well being. In some areas dogs, tend to spend less time on abrasive surfaces like sidewalks. Therefore they do not experience the wear and tear on their nails like they do in warmer weather which leads to longer nail growth. Be sure to trim your pet’s nails on a regular basis throughout winter.

Paw Protection
Your dog’s paws are designed to protect their feet, especially in the elements of winter. But, ice and snow can damage the pads on your dog’s paws. So can sand, ice melt and other de-icing chemicals. Under these conditions paw pads can become hard, cracked and even infected. You can protect your pet’s paws and pads by using a protectant like Musher’s Secret or pad wax. For dry or cracked pads use a moisturizing lubricant such as Bag Balm and for maximum protection consider using dog boots.

Regular grooming is essential care for the long term health of your pet. It’s just as important to groom your dog during the cold winter months as it is in the heat of summer.

10 Gratitude Lessons to Learn from Your Dog

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As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, many people are trying to cultivate the value of gratitude. The problem is that Thanksgiving is arriving at an inconvenient time this year when a number of things seem to be going wrong with health, finances, blah blah . . . you know the details. But when it’s a challenge to be thankful, try turning to the most thankful person you know.

Who is not actually a person. He or she is your dog.

1.  Today is going to be the best day EVER! Just remember that, OK? So in the morning before your people get up, go right next to their heads and breathe heavily with excitement so that they, too, will catch your enthusiasm about this being the best day EVER. It will be even better than yesterday, which was the best day to date.

2.  After eating breakfast, be sure to always go find the person who fixed your meal for you and nuzzle their hand in gratitude. They always remember to feed you. They are therefore the best humans ever. And isn’t food just amazing?

3.  Be grateful all morning that you can work like a dog. This often involves working with your eyes closed — whether you’re on the couch, the dog bed, or the regular bed that you’re not actually supposed to jump on. Work is so important.

4.  During the lunch hour, paw your human insistently so that she understands it’s time to stop working and enjoy the neighborhood. Drag her to the front door. Isn’t it great when people understand what you’re telling them? Communication is so important.

5.  When you get outside, run around in circles a few times and bark with joy. You love your yard! You love your life!

6.  In the neighborhood, take time to greet your friends and sniff their butts. Smelling their butts indicates that you think they are wonderful and interesting. And they are. They are the best friends you’ve ever had!

7.  When you walk around and read your pee-mail, savor the moment. Someone took the time to leave you a message: “Rover was here!” So leave a message back and be grateful for friends and smells and this fabulous world.

8.  OMG, did we mention that this is the best day EVER? Are you having fun yet?

9.  If, during the course of your day, you come across any humans who seem to not quite understand that this is actually the best day EVER, it is your job to cheer them up. As a hint, butt-sniffing is not as effective at communicating love to humans as it is to fellow dogs. But a well-timed cuddle is always appropriate. Which leads us to the most important gratitude rule:

10.  When the people you love walk in the front door, drop everything in your excitement. Rush to them, jump up and down, slather them with kisses. They are the most remarkable and beautiful creatures in your world, and you have to let them know that every single day — especially this, your best day EVER.

5 Simple Ways To Improve Your Pet’s Health

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dog-in-grass-golden

In today’s fast paced world, many pet owners find themselves without the amount of time they would like to spend caring for their pets. Between work, chores around the house, kids, school, sports, etc. there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a short list of five simple things you can do to improve the health of your pet.

Better Quality Food
Yes, it’s easier and probably cheaper to simply pick up a bag of dog food at the grocery store or buy some big retailer’s store brand. But is that necessarily the best food for your pet? And in the long run is it really cheaper? You might be surprised at what you find if you read the ingredient lists on your favorite name brand or store brand pet foods. Many of them contain fillers, unnecessary ingredients and by products that can be very unhealthy for your pet and can lead to long term health problems and increased costs.  Switching to an all-natural or holistic brand name can help maintain your pet’s health and keep your overall expenditures on pet care to a minimum.

Supplements
Supplementing your pet’s diet can be a simple way to help improve their health and well-being. There are many supplements available for joint support, digestive support, skin care, immunity, weight control, heart health, liver support, muscle support and more.  Consult with your veterinarian to make the best choices for your pet.

Regular Exercise
Okay, so you may not have time to walk your pet every single day or take them to the dog park. But there are ways to ensure your pet gets regular exercise. Be sure to provide a variety of toys for them to play with. Make sure you let your pet outside for a while every day or if you have an inside pet, give some space for daily play time. Of course you should take the time to walk your pet as often as possible. There are retractable leashes and even hands free leashes that make it easy to exercise your pet at the same time you are exercising.  Doggie daycare is another great option if you simply don’t have the time to give your pet regular exercise.

Dental Care
Proper dental care is essential for the health of your pet. Routine veterinary dental checkups are vital to your pet’s good health, but there are some simple things you can do to help your pet maintain healthy teeth. Avoid giving your dog sweet, soft or sticky foods. Regular PlaqClnz treatments done at Paws & Pals will freshen your pet’s breath and help eliminate plaque. Dental chews or treats designed to help control plaque and tartar build-up also promote fresh breath.

Flea, Tick & Insect Control
Fleas, Ticks and other insects like flies are some of the major carriers of diseases in pets. Controlling these pests is simple with the many flea, tick and pest control products available. There are several flea & tick spot-ons and collars that make protecting your pet easy. Plus, there are easy-to-use indoor and outdoor pest control products that can help break the reproductive cycle of pests like fleas which will ultimately make insect control even easier.

Preventing Heatstroke in Dogs

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dog-in-hot-carOn a sunny day with temperatures at or above 70° Fahrenheit, most people know that the temperature inside their car can soar to intolerable levels for their dog. But even outdoors in a non-shaded area, the heat can quickly get to your pooch and cause serious complications.
Dogs do not perspire the way humans do; in fact, the only sweat glands that they have are on the pads of their feet. Dogs pant to cool themselves and also use a temperature exchange called convection to cool their skin. Both panting and convection cool the body by exchanging the warm body temperatures for the cooler air outside. If the surrounding air is not considerably cooler than the animals’ body temperature – as in the case of a hot, stuffy automobile – the cooling system will not work and heatstroke can occur.

What are the signs of heatstroke?

Signs of heatstroke include:

• Increased heart rate
• Excessive panting
• Increased salivation
• Bright red tongue
• Red or pale gums
• Thick, sticky saliva
• Depression
• Weakness
• Dizziness
• Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
• Diarrhea

As heatstroke progresses, it can cause seizures, coma, cardiac arrest, and death.

What should I do if my dog gets heatstroke?dog-hot-day

Remove your dog from the hot area immediately. While transporting him immediately to your veterinarian, lower his temperature by placing cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, under the forelimbs, and in the groin area. If possible, increase air movement around him with a fan. Be careful, however, as using very cold water can actually be counterproductive. CAUTION: Cooling too quickly and especially allowing his body temperature to become too low can cause other life-threatening medical conditions. The rectal temperature should be checked every 5 minutes. Once the body temperature is 103ºF, the cooling measures should be stopped and your dog should be dried thoroughly and covered so he does not continue to lose heat. Even if your dog appears to be recovering, take him to your veterinarian as soon as possible, he should still be examined since he may be dehydrated or have other complications. Allow free access to water if your dog can drink on his own. Do not try to force-feed cold water; as he may inhale it and could choke.

How can heatstroke be prevented?

• Keep pets with predisposing conditions like heart disease, obesity, older age, or breathing problems cool and in the shade. Even normal activity for these pets can be harmful.
Provide access to water at all times.

• Do not leave your pet in a hot parked car even if you’re in the shade or will only be gone a short time. The temperature inside a parked car can quickly reach up to 140 degrees.
Make sure outside dogs have access to shade.

• On a hot day, restrict exercise and don’t take your dog jogging with you. Too much exercise when the weather is very hot can be dangerous.

• Do not muzzle your dog.

• Avoid places like the beach and especially concrete or asphalt areas where heat is reflected and there is no access to shade.

• Wetting down your dog with cool water or allowing him to swim can help maintain a normal body temperature.

• Move your dog to a cool area of the house. Air conditioning is one of the best ways to keep a dog cool, but is not always dependable. To provide a cooler environment, freeze water in soda bottles, or place ice and a small amount of water in several resealable food storage bags, then wrap them in a towel or tube sock. Place them on the floor for your pet to lay on.

You can prevent your pet from suffering heatstroke. Use common sense and think of what it might feel like to wear a fur jacket (that cannot be removed) on a hot summer day.

 

Article source: Doctors Foster and Smith

Spring Garden Safety for Pets

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doxie-garden

Spring is here, and for many families this means getting out in the yard and planting that beautiful spring garden! If your family includes a four-legged member, it’s important to keep their safety in mind as the seasons change.There are not only numerous dangerous plants and flowers that are toxic for pets, but there are other things you need to be aware of if you want to have a safe and happy spring.

tulip-dog

This dog should NOT be biting this toxic Tulip!

Choose plants wisely: As you’re coming up with plans for your beautiful new garden, steer clear of plants that are known to be toxic to pets. A few popular spring choices to avoid include the Azalea, Tiger Lily (and most Lilies in general, like Calla Lilies), Crocus, Amarylis, Carnations, Cresanthemums, and the Tulip. Other plants to watch out for include most types of Aloe, select palms such as the Sago, Begonias, most types of Laurel, select Ivy and Fern varieties, and even most Pine trees!

Beware of baits and fertilizers: Snail and rodent baits may be helpful in keeping unwanted pests out of your yard, but these products are also extremely dangerous for pets. Bait toxicity can be fatal, causing blood clotting disorders, brain swelling, or kidney failure. Herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, weed killers, and other garden substances (even if they are all-natural) could cause pet poisoning – especially if your pet licks its paws very often. Depending on the ingredients, ingestion of fertilizers can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from gastrointestinal irritation to seizures and death. Fish fertilizer, blood/bone meal and cocoa mulch are highly toxic to pets, so seek immediate veterinary care of you suspect your pet has ingested a dangerous substance.

Protect against fleas and ticks: Pets should be protected against parasites all year long, but it’s especially important during the warmer months when pets are likely to spend time outside in the yard. Monthly flea and tick preventatives can be applied directly to your pet and for extra protection, you might consider using a yard spray as well.

Watch out for unexpected guests and visitors: There are a bunch of other random and unexpected yard hazards to look out for, especially due to the ensuing rainstorms and increasing moisture that spring brings along with it. One of these dangers is fungi, such as mushrooms or toadstools, that love wet/damp conditions – especially after a fresh rainfall. Not all mushrooms are poisonous for your pet to eat, but you might as well be safe rather than sorry! For that matter, any kind of mold or mildew – whether it’s inside or outside – can prove to be harmful so make sure that you aren’t growing anything that you aren’t aware of! If you need to reduce the moisture in your home, a dehumidifier may be of great use to you.

Re-think your lawn and garden ornaments: If your pets love to chew, be careful about what kind of decorations you display in your garden or lawn. Dogs are known to try and eat or chew anything they can get their paws on, and NOTHING is exempt from this rule. Dogs have been seen eating light fixtures, gnomes, stones, pinwheels, statues, flags, and also chewing/eating parts of fences and enclosures! Assume that your dog could and would eat anything, and then plan your lawn or garden display accordingly.
As long as you’re aware and alert about all of the possible hazards that your garden and yard could entail, you’ll be able to relax and be worry-free about your pet enjoying the yard.

dog-garden-hosePets should be supervised when they are in your yard anyway, even if you have a fence – you never know what or WHO could sneak up on your dog when they least expect it!

Article source: vetdepot.com

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