The month of February is designated National Spay and Neuter Your Pet Month, with the 26th of the month being World Spay and Neuter Day. It’s hard to believe that in this age of knowledge and technology there are still so many people who are not aware of the benefits of spaying and neutering. Every year 3.5 million cats and dogs are euthanized because of pet overpopulation, yet so many pet owners allow their pets to have unwanted litters. There are many misconceptions about spaying and neutering that people use to justify their decision to leave their pets intact but the reality is that this operation allows your pets to live much happier, healthier lives as your companion, in addition to helping to reduce the pet population. How could we not want that for our fur babies?
Spaying eliminates heat cycles, which keeps males from being attracted. The risk of mammary gland tumors and ovarian/uterine cancers are eliminated if the procedure is done before the first heat cycle. Neutering reduces or eliminates the need for males to spray and mark. The risk for testicular cancer is eliminated and the risk of prostate disease is greatly decreased. Both spaying and neutering help your pets live longer lives, gets rid of unwanted litters, decreases aggressive behavior, and leaves them with less desire to roam.
There are many misconceptions about spaying and neutering. It will not make your pet fat- Lack of exercise and overfeeding are what cause your pet to put on extra pounds. Some pet owners think that spaying and neutering leaves their pet sexually frustrated or they believe that they are harming their pet by depriving them the right to reproduce. Some think that they need to allow their dog to have one litter before fixing them. All of these ideas are preposterous. Animals only breed because their hormones tell them to. If you eliminate that hormonal push, the desire to breed completely goes away. Allowing your pet to have a litter before spaying greatly increases her chance to get cancer. Even if you manage to find homes for every puppy/kitten in a litter, you are handing a death sentence to a dog or cat in an animal shelter. Financially speaking, getting your pet spayed or neutered is far less expensive than not. The cost of caring for an unwanted litter is much more costly, not to mention that there could be complications from the birth that require surgery or hospitalization. If you cannot afford to pay full price at a vet’s office, there are many free or low cost clinics that will spay/neuter your pets.
In addition to benefiting you and your pet, spaying and neutering benefits your community as well. Shelters are over run and are forced to euthanize otherwise healthy and lovable pets. Stray animals cause disturbances and spread sickness and disease, cause automobile accidents, and destroy property. There are no reasonable excuses not to spay or neuter your pet. If you have an unaltered furry friend, be kind to them and give them (and all their four legged peers in animal shelters) the gift of a longer and happier life on World Spay and Neuter Day!
Recent surveys taken by many different pet organizations all indicate the same results – Over half of the pet population in the US is overweight and 21% of those overweight pets are obese. We love our pets and most of us think of them as being part of the family. The thought that we are killing them with food is a very upsetting one. That is what obesity – or even just being overweight – does to our pets. It shortens their lives and riddles it with illnesses, such as high blood pressure, crippling arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. On average, excessive weight shortens dogs’ life by about 2 -21/2 years.
Many owners have overweight pets and don’t realize it. A study by Pfizer Animal Health showed that while 47% of vets felt their canine patients were overweight, only 17% of owners agreed. Take a look at your pet. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs without pressing and your dog should have a noticeable ‘waist’ between the back of the ribs and the hips when you view them from above. If your furry friend doesn’t pass this test, they are likely overweight. Consult your vet. Some pets have metabolic, thyroid, or heart disorders that invoke weight gain and some pets simply take in far too many calories. Your vet will be able to help determine if your pet is indeed overweight and what the cause and course of action is.
Prevention really is the best medicine. Buying your dog a high quality dog food with meat as the main ingredients will go a long way towards improving his health. Dog food comprised mostly of corn and grains is very unhealthy and provides little actual nutrition for your dog. Quality dog food will satisfy all of your pet’s needs. While a cheeseburger is a lunch for you, it’s the equivalent of 5 days worth of calories for a small dog. Portion control is key. Read the label on your dog’s food and feed him the recommended amount for not his current weight, but the weight he should be. Increasing activity will benefit your pet both physically and mentally. A brisk 20 minute walk twice a day is sure to help burn extra fat. A happy dog is a healthy and fit dog. The healthier your pet is, the longer he’ll live to enrich your life.
Does your dog have itchy skin? Constant itching and scratching can drive your dog – and you – nuts! Occasional itching is normal but dogs licking, scratching, biting, and chewing to the point that they are wounding themselves is a sign of a more serious underlying problem. If your dog is constantly scratching, it is very important to find out the cause behind this behavior, as this is very uncomfortable for your pooch! There are many things that can cause itchy skin in our furry friends, such as dry skin, allergies, parasites, and infection. Monitoring your pet and both his surroundings and behavior can help you to determine what is causing his discomfort.
Dry skin is fairly easy to recognize. If you see flakes of dandruff when you part your dog’s fur, he has dry skin. This can be caused by many different factors. Your environment can affect your dog’s skin. If you live in an area with low humidity, your pooch may be more prone to dry skin due to the lack of moisture in the air. Your dog’s food can also dry out his skin. Commercial pet food production processes out the good oils that contribute to healthy skin. Dry pet food also has a dehydrating affect on skin and fur. If you think this is what is causing your dog’s itching, adding digestive enzymes to your pup’s meals could be very beneficial. Enzymes will help improve the release of nutrients and beneficial probiotic bacteria. A healthy digestive system will absorb fluid more easily from the food eaten, and this improves hydration and increases the moisture level of the skin and fur. There are also supplements formulated specifically for dog’s skin and fur that can promote healthy skin and help relieve itch and dryness.
Another common cause of itchy skin is allergies. Dogs can be allergic to many different things but the most common are airborne allergies and food allergies. Airborne allergies are cause by pollen, dust, mildew, insects, or animal/human dander. Dogs do not suffer from hay fever like we do; airborne allergies manifest themselves in the form of itchy skin. The skin normally has a layer of bacteria present. When dogs scratch, this bacterium is driven further into skin layers and can cause infection along with great discomfort. Food allergies in dogs present themselves much differently than they do in humans. Instead of the symptoms we humans experience, their allergy symptoms are again, itchy skin, scratching, licking, and chewing. The most common foods dogs are allergic to are chicken, beef, and grains. To find out if one of these ingredients is what is causing your dog’s discomfort, you’ll need to do an elimination diet. This is done by picking a pet food that contains none of these ingredients and feeding it to your dog for around 8 weeks. If the symptoms stop, you know that one of these ingredients is the culprit.
No matter what the cause, finding comfort for your pet is key. Bathing is important to maintain healthy skin. Regular baths with a medicated or oatmeal dog shampoo can soothe your furry friend’s irritated skin. Using cool water is beneficial as it will not make the itch worse, unlike warm or hot water. This is not a cure but will definitely provide temporary relief. Make sure to pat your dog dry after the bath and avoid rubbing, which would exacerbate itching. Benedry is safe for dogs and can also provide short term relief from itching. Your veterinarian can provide the proper dosage and let you know if this would be a good option for your dog.
No matter how many times you sing for the rain to go away, there’s no avoiding those spring showers. While most dogs may not mind the raindrops, dog raincoats and rubber dog boots are practical for keeping canines dry and warm on wet (and sometimes chilly) days. Providing your pup with raingear is especially beneficial for smaller dogs and breeds with less fur. Pick from different size, color, and pattern options for your pooch’s perfect doggie raincoat match. Since a dog’s body temp is higher than that of a human’s they are more sensitive to climates; a chilly rainy day can leave your pup’s inner thermostat to drop, leaving them susceptible to illness. Protecting your pooch from the wet conditions will also make for less drying off when it’s time to go back inside; no canine appreciates being soaked to the bone. Plus, nobody enjoys the smell of a wet dog – dog raingear will help eliminate unwanted odors that tend to linger. Likewise, a set of PAWZ rubber dog boots will help keep puppy paws dry, as well as protect against outdoor hazards like lawn chemicals, fire ants, and hot pavement. The great thing about PAWZ rubber dog boots is the fact that they can be used several times and they are biodegradable – so they help our planet stay green. On those needed days gearing your furry friend up will not only have them looking stylish, but it will help keep them safe and healthy. Stay dry this spring!
Spring is finally here – the grass is green, the trees are budding, and the flowers are blooming. It’s a great time to get outside with your pooch and enjoy the fresh air and nature, but before you take your pup outdoors be sure to brush up on vital dog safety information, including knowledge of which flowers and plants that are poisonous to canines. Stay safe and enjoy the weather with your faithful friend!
Azalea – These colorful, sweet scented flower shrubs may cause vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, weakness, coma, and even death if ingested by your furry friend, so admire from a distance.
Cyclamen – These spring flowers are beautiful both outside and in a bouquet, but can create rather ugly symptoms including excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, heart arrhythmias, seizures, and death for a hungry hound.
Daffodil – The various vibrant yellows and oranges, mixed with settling whites make for gorgeous flowers, but the bulbs of Daffodils are toxic if ingested, and dogs may experience vomiting, salivation, diarrhea, convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, and heart arrhythmias.
Foxglove – This particular flower may be a lovely sight with its bell flowers and pink hues, but it doesn’t settle well when consumed and can mean heart arrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and death for curious canines.
Hyacinth – These flowers are also quite colorful and aesthetically pleasing, but are poisonous to pups and include symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and tremors.
Oleander – Be careful around the Oleander flowers. While they look innocent with their tiny petals of pinks and whites, the Oleander should be kept away from canines to avoid vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, shallow breathing, muscle tremors, and cardiac failure.
**If you see or think your dog has consumed a hazardous plant or flower, contact your veterinarian
Maintaining your dog’s dental hygiene is always important. February has been acknowledged as National Pet Dental Health Month and encourages pet owners to practice good dental hygiene with their furry friends. Keeping up with your pup’s teeth not only prevents bad breath, but also aids in avoiding any dental diseases that may otherwise occur from plaque and tartar build-up. Many owners are oblivious to the dangers that unattended teeth can create; gingivitis and periodontal disease are no joke. Recognizably bad breath, known as halitosis, is a sign of deeper underlying dental issues that your pooch may be suffering from. Gingivitis has stages ranging from mild to severe, and can develop into irreversible periodontal disease if left untreated. In extreme cases a pooch may require tooth extraction. Bring your pup to the vet if you notice symptoms including halitosis, gum bleeding, red gums, drooling, or loss of appetite. Invest in at-home doggie dental care; a dog toothbrush, dog toothpaste, and dog chews. Make it a habit to tend to your pup’s teeth and gums at least once a week to fight off any tartar and plaque building up. Infection and bacteria found in the mouth could extend through the bloodstream to cause heart, kidney, or liver disease. Such diseases could create serious harm to the organs and lead to early death. Make good dental hygiene a habit from the beginning to ensure a healthy, happy dog.
Typically an excessively shy dog stems from a lack of positive exposure as a puppy. The socialization period is an important time for young pups when their confidence is infused. While some dog breeds are naturally coyer than others, an overly shy pooch can develop into serious behavior issues with any under socialized dog. One common fear a timid dog may suffer from is that of people. Thankfully this dilemma may be corrected with patience and understanding. If your furry friend is apprehensive around people, help your hound conquer their fear by taking baby steps in the right direction; start by inviting over a friend (preferably another dog lover). Inform your guest prior to their visitation about your canine’s fear, if your friend acts in a passive manner it will show your pooch there is no threat. Keeping your bashful buddy in their own environment will assist in easing their discomfort a bit. If your pooch insists on retreating to a trusted hiding spot during your guest’s visitation then allow them time to regroup and keep your conversation cheerful to demonstrate a safe environment to your hiding hound. Depending on the level of fear your canine contains they may need further attempts; most timid dogs are interested and are just too uneasy to approach. Try to entice your furry friend to come out using a dog treat – distract their attention from your guest to the treats, tossing a treat their way and then ignoring them as they make their way out to indulge in the bait. Keep with this process, tossing dog treats closer to you and your guest each time, until your pooch is out of their safety zone. It is also suggested that you have your guest pet your pup. Although if your friend does go in for a pet be sure that they reach under to stroke your dog’s chest rather than over the dog’s head so not to scare them more. If your canine still displays trepidation then back off a bit, forcing the situation may only worsen the fear, and ask your guest to try again another day. Continue this routine fairly regularly with different people until your canine feels more comfortable. In time your dog should be able to overcome their people fears and live a healthier, more sociable life.
Having a new furry friend in the house is a very exciting, yet somewhat overwhelming, change of pace. Canines everywhere are finding homes around the holiday season. If this is your first time caring for a pup in your home, or even if you’ve been an owner for a while, here are 11 facts you should know.
1. Dog shampoos are available in various types and scents, but many dogs are slightly allergic to perfume scented shampoos. Mild oatmeal based dog shampoos get the job done while not leaving your pooch itchy.
2. Phobias are prevalent in dogs just as they are in humans – work with your pooch to eliminate fears of thunder, water, hair dryers, vacuums, lawn mowers, etc.
3. Dogs use their tails to communicate – a wag can express aggression, playfulness, or fear. Get familiar with your pup’s tail talking techniques to have a better understanding of how your friend is feeling.
4. Deep wrinkles in dogs should be cleansed daily to avoid dirt accumulation that can cause odors, or even infection.
5. Fleas aren’t the only reason Fido may be scratching his ears. Your pup could be experiencing anything from ear mites to yeast, so bringing your itchy pooch to the vet is the best idea.
6. Mental stimulation is just as important for a dog as physical stimulation – agility training is a great way to knock out both.
7. Canines love a good car ride, just be sure your playful pal is secured to ensure protection.
8. When you point, your dog focuses on the tip of your finger versus the item you are pointing at. If you want your pup’s attention, teach verbal commands for better understanding.
9. Bored dogs create mischief. Be sure to provide the needed attention, love, and stimulation your pooch needs to stay out of trouble.
10. Table begging is usually a bad habit spoiled pups have picked up because of their success in scoring table scraps in the past. Discourage bad table manners by skipping the scrap sharing.
11. It’s a fact: dogs bark. Your pooch may be exercising their vocal chords for a number of reasons; to protect their territory, express a need, or initiate playtime. Excessive barking may either be a warning or a cry for help. Pay attention to your dog’s barking and enforce commands if needed.
It seems that with the winter season comes a whole slew of sniffling noses. Although your pooch can’t catch cold from you, they can develop their own form of upper respiratory infection, better coined as a dog cold. The symptoms of a human cold and a dog cold are strikingly similar but can’t be passed from dog to human or vice-versa. Just as in humans, a dog cold arises from viruses or bacteria that are spread from other animals, and weakened immune systems are susceptible to falling victim. Common dog colds typically settle once the immune system strengthens, but untreated symptoms may result in serious health problems. Other serious health issues may mask themselves with common doggie cold symptoms, so bring your pooch to the vet if you notice signs of sneezing, coughing, runny eyes/noses, congestion, or decreased energy and appetite to revive your pup’s health and avoid worsened conditions. If your canine does come down with a common (dog) cold, be sure to evade contact with other animals until the contagious microorganisms diminish. Improperly treated upper respiratory infections have a possibility of evolving into dangerous cases of Pneumonia that require immediate attention. If you notice your pooch has come down with a cold you should always make an appointment with the vet, but there are some home remedies to help the recovery process. For example, canines suffering from a cold may not have much of an appetite, so feeding your sick pup some extra boiled chicken and rice is a great way to help put food in their belly. It may also be a good idea to keep a mist vaporizer near your dog’s resting spot to help with breathing. Don’t have your canine outside for too long, and when they are, bundle them in necessary dog boots and dog coats for protection against winter conditions. To avoid pesky colds do your best to keep Rover warm this winter and stay alert of symptoms!
Dog clothes and accessories are a great way to express your pooch’s personality in style, but dog attire is also a fashionable way to practically prepare for winter weather. Sport your pup in a winter dog coat to keep cold temperatures from chilling your dog to the bone. A winter dog coat is also great for blocking winds. Such a change in climate could cause your canine to fall ill, which is why providing the proper outdoor coverage for your pooch plays an important role in avoiding any winter sicknesses. Another great doggie winter wear investment includes a trusted set of dog boots to protect puppy paws from jagged terrain, sharp ice, and freezing temperatures. Dogs sweat through the pads on their paws, so only keep dog boots on when needed during trips outside. With such a drop in temperature, it is always important to accommodate your pooch to the weather change. Some breeds, like the Siberian Huskie, are made for winter seasons, while other breeds, such as the Chihuahua, are not physically made to withstand cold temperatures. Dress your dog accordingly with their needs, and have a warm winter!