5 Ways to Help Keep Your Arthritic Dog Comfortable

Arthritis may seem like an ailment of a tired, old dog. However, dogs of any age can start showing early onset symptoms of arthritis.

Difficulty jumping on the bed or trouble getting into cars are two telltale signs that something is going on with your dog’s health.

While cats are notorious for hiding illnesses and discomfort, dogs are sometimes more vocal about it. That may be the unexplained whining during activities or excessive grunting with minor movement.

A dog that used to be as energetic as the Energizer bunny suddenly sleeping all the time could also indicate arthritis.

If You Think Your Pup Has Arthritis, a Vet Visit Is In Order

Before you make any adjustments to your home or to your dog’s diet and routines, a quick visit to the vet is necessary. Your vet can examine your dog and give a professional diagnosis.

The symptoms that are associated with arthritis are also common in other ailments and diseases. If you’ve kept the same vet since your dog was a pup, your vet will be more familiar with how your dog normally acts and can easily spot any differences in behavior.

Once you have an official diagnosis, there are several adjustments you can make in and around your home to ease your dog’s discomfort. Dogs can be stubborn and some of the adjustments may take a little time and a lot of treats before your dog accepts the changes.

1. Change Your Dog’s Sleeping Arrangements

Many people let their dogs sleep in bed with them. Jumping on and off a raised bed can contribute to later arthritis problems. For a dog who already suffers from the pain of arthritis, it may be impossible to get on or off the bed without help.

Training your dog to sleep on a dog bed on the floor may be similar to training a toddler to go to bed at night. A lot of whining is involved in both situations. However, you may have to endure a few sleepless nights for the betterment of your dog. Training your arthritic dog not to jump on the bed saves both of you pain in the long run.

Products designed to provide the comfort and support they need are readily available. Orthopedic beds can help ease your dog’s discomfort while still allowing them to be close to their humans. Placing the orthopedic dog bed near a source of heat can also help ease the inflammation of the joints.

older dog vet care

2. Diet and Exercise

Obesity is another condition that affects dogs just as often as it affects people. Even a few extra pounds can put stress on a dog’s joints, increasing their risk of arthritis or making symptoms worse.

The catch-22 is that it can be difficult, if not downright dangerous, to over-exercise dogs with arthritis. That’s why your best course of action from the time your dog is a pup is to stick to the recommended feeding and avoid giving your dog table scraps or too many dog treats.

So, how do you get an overweight dog to lose weight to ease their arthritis without hours of exercise per day? The first thing to do is to start a strict diet. That includes measuring the amount of dog food given for each feeding. Most dogs don’t need to be fed more than twice a day.

You can add several types of healthy vegetables to your dog’s diet to make up for the reduced kibble. Mushrooms and onions are two foods that dogs should never consume. However, carrots, peas, green beans, and pureed pumpkin are just a few of the vegetables that are safe for dogs.

It is important to note that you should read the labels closely if you purchase canned veggies for your dog. Many canned foods add sodium, which is harmful to dogs (and not great for people, either). However, most brands have “low sodium” and even “no sodium” cans of vegetables.

While avocados are a favored healthy food for humans, they are toxic to dogs. If you feed your dog fruits with seeds, such as apples, be sure to remove the core and seeds first.

Making trays of ice cubes in the freezer can be a refreshing treat for your pup in the warmer months. If you’re not sure what fruits or vegetables are safe for your dog, be sure to ask your vet or even do a quick Google search.

Once you’ve got your dog’s food portions under control, it’s time to focus on exercise. A dog with arthritis or at risk of developing arthritis needs a low impact routine that won’t cause further damage.

Several short, brisk walks throughout the day are a great alternative to running at the dog park or other high impact exercises. Swimming is another activity that can ease your dog’s joints while giving them the exercise they need to stay fit. It is recommended that all dogs wear life vests, regardless of their swimming experience.

Dog At Home Wanting Outside

3. Consider Supplements or Medication

If diet and exercise aren’t enough, there is always the option of medication or supplements. Certain medications can reduce joint inflammation and ease your dog’s pain.

Supplements can be used to support the joint health in your dog in an effort to prevent arthritis. Omega 3 fatty acid is an ingredient that can be found in supplements to help treat discomfort caused by arthritis.

Before using any supplements or medicines, it is best to seek advice from your dog’s vet. Like humans, the reaction to any medication can vary from dog to dog.

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4. Give Your Dog a Massage

Who doesn’t love a good massage? Not even dogs are immune to a pair of hands kneading their achy joints. Of course, some dogs don’t like their legs to be touched. It’s important to make sure your dog is comfortable with the massage or it won’t be beneficial for either of you.

Heat can do wonders for achy joints. As long as you are supervising, you can use your heating pad or heated blanket on your dog to help arthritis pain. If you do decide to use a heating pad, start off on the lowest setting until your dog gets used to it.

5. Making Your Home Comfortable

Making your home comfortable for your arthritic dog is about more than just keeping them off the bed. If you have stairs in your home or routinely take your pup on road trips, you may notice them having difficulty climbing the stairs or getting into the car.

Ramps or dog steps can easily solve any mobility issues for your dog. If you opt for ramps, be prepared to offer your dog treats at first to get them accustomed to the incline.

Many dogs with arthritis have problems maneuvering slippery wood floors. Strategically placed area rugs and kitchen runners can make it easier for your dog to get around the house. If you’re not a fan of rugs, dog-sized socks are a great alternative and will help keep your wood floors scratch-free.

Shih Tzu In Yard Invisible Fence

Small Dogs Can Suffer From Arthritis

Arthritis is often considered a “big dog” problem. However, little dogs are equally at risk for developing arthritis. Some might argue they are more at risk because they have further to jump.

One way to help prevent arthritis in little dogs is to limit their jumping. Even if your dog doesn’t have arthritis, consider using dog steps to help them get on and off the bed without putting so much pressure on their joints.

In the long run, excessive jumping puts a lot of strain on their hind legs, potentially increasing their likelihood of arthritis later in life.

A Few More Considerations

There are two things to remember about arthritis. One – there is no cure. Two – no matter what you do, it will get progressively worse as your dog ages.

There isn’t a surefire way to prevent your dog from developing arthritis. However, these tips can help reduce some of the discomforts and pain your dog may feel.

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5 Common Myths About Dog Poop

Dog poop isn’t a topic we like to dwell on, but if you’re a dog owner, poop is a fact of life you can’t ignore. The Census Bureau estimates there are 80 million dogs in the U.S., and most of them go to the bathroom outdoors. That results in more than 10-million tons of waste per year – or as much as Americans themselves produced just 50 years ago.

 

When America was a rural nation, dogs roamed free, and they dispersed their droppings over a wide area. But now most Americans are suburbanites and have yards that average only 11,000 square feet, according to the Census Bureau. The Food and Drug Administration estimates the average dog excretes about 274 pounds of feces per year. Most of that waste accumulates in a small yard – and that’s a problem.

That waste poses a threat to humans, animals, and the environment if it’s not handled properly. Unfortunately, myths about dog feces result in the improper handling of it by millions of pet owners. Here are five common myths about dog poop.

1. IT’S OK TO LEAVE IT IN THE YARD – NATURE WILL TAKE CARE OF IT

Yes, nature will eventually take care of it, but because dog feces are solid, the process can take a long time – up to a year for a single pile. Meanwhile, the droppings are leaking a toxic brew of dangerous elements into the ground. The EPA warns dog stools contains parasites such as tapeworm and roundworm and bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli. Those contaminants can make humans and other animals sick. These deadly threats can survive in the ground for years. Rain or irrigation makes the problem worse. It washes the waste contaminants through storm sewer systems and into freshwater resources.

2. DOG POOP IS A NATURAL FERTILIZER FOR YOUR GRASS

Dogs are meat-eaters and consume high-protein meat products. That means their feces are supercharged with nitrogen and phosphorus that can create brown or dead spots in your yard. If you apply commercial fertilizer to your yard — which also contains high levels of nitrogen — you could be giving your lawn a fatal overdose. Don’t equate dog poop with fertilizing manures, such as cow, horse, or sheep. All those come from plant-eating livestock and do not contain the chemicals that can be harmful to your lawn.

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3. YOU CAN THROW DOG DOO IN THE TRASH

Not unless it’s in a proper container. Put the droppings into a biodegradable bag, tie it, and put it in the garbage. You can also flush it down the toilet – just make sure it’s clear of any gravel or debris that may damage your plumbing. This method is the EPA’s recommendation. Don’t put dog feces into a septic system unless the manufacturer states the system will handle it.

4. YOU CAN BURY DOG LEAVINGS

You can, but be ready for some work. The Clear Choices Clean Water organization recommends digging holes at least 12 inches deep, then covering the feces with at least 8 inches of soil. Bury in several different locations — not just one. Make sure your burial sites are not near a vegetable garden.

5. IT’S OK TO ADD DOG POOP TO A COMPOST PILE

Yes, but be very careful. Dog manure and other organic material placed in a compost pile will heat up as decomposition does its work. The USDA says the pile’s internal temperature must reach 160 degrees before it begins to cool in order to kill harmful parasites and bacteria that pose a danger in vegetable gardens.

 

You can make dog doo disposal easier and more efficient. Consider a dog waste septic system. These devices work like a miniature home septic system. You bury them according to instructions, add chemicals and water, and place the droppings in them. The system liquefies the waste and passes it harmlessly into the subsoil. The cost of these units run from about $35 to $75.

 

You can also create a doggie bathroom. Choose an inconspicuous spot in your yard and cover it with mulch or small gravel, then train your dog to do his business there.  This method doesn’t eliminate picking up droppings, but at least it confines it to one area.

 

Not only is improperly disposed of dog waste a health hazard, but a 2010 survey by Consumer Reports showed that dog poop was the sixth biggest annoyance to Americans. Unpleasant as it may be, properly cleaning up the mess is a social obligation that comes with the enjoyment of pet ownership.

 

About the author: Sheri Wallace is a dog trainer who also owns a doggie bath and grooming business. When she’s not working with dogs, you’ll find her in her backyard playing with her Siberian husky and basset hound.

 

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My Dog Is Eating Cat Food: Should I Be Concerned?

Dogs are known for being able to digest almost anything. From watermelon bites to socks, nothing passes by a hungry drooling canine. Similarly, if you’re also a cat owner, you’ve probably noticed that your pooch sometimes likes to munch cat food more than its own. On top of that, many owners give cat treats to their dogs believing there isn’t much of a difference between the two.

But what is so great about cat food, anyway? More importantly – is it in any way harmful?

Although it’s not an alarming issue, there is a reason why these two animals eat different types of food. Differences in nutritive and calorie value can potentially lead to some digestive or weight problems in dogs. Don’t panic if it happens as a one-time occasion, but make sure it doesn’t turn into a regular habit.

Here are some main reasons why it’s best not to keep cat food around dogs and tips on how to prevent them from eating it.

WHAT’S SO TEMPTING ABOUT CAT FOOD?

Physically, dog and cat food appear very similar. They both come in the form of dry kibble or canned goods, cookie treats and snacks of similar shape and size, with even similar smell. Yet, when it comes to the ingredients, they are quite different.

|Few pet owners know that cats and dogs have different dietary requirements. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means their primary source of energy is meat-based food.  Dogs, on the other hand, are omnivores, animals that eat both meat and vegetables, so their nutritional requirements include a diet richer in vitamins, fiber and minerals.

In fact, dogs have similar nutritional needs to humans. It’s made with some of the same proteins, carbs, fruits, veggies, and supplements that comprise your daily diet. Some owners prefer feeding their dogs with their food leftovers, or preparing home-made meals for dogs that consist of the same stuff that people eat, like rice, meat, cooked vegetables, corn, bread and more. Although essentially non-problematic, make sure to be properly informed about your dog’s nutritional needs if you make his meals on your own. Depending on their size, age and breed, dogs will need different ingredients for proper growth and healthy functioning.

Cat food is predominantly meat, or processed food rich in protein and fat. Simply put, fatty and meaty food is very tasty, it smells tempting and appealing, which is probably why dogs prefer their fellow kitty’s bowl more.

On top of that, when you have a dog looking for something to eat even though his bowl is full, you may question the type and quality of what you’ve been feeding him so far. Different dog breeds may enjoy different flavor, while puppies need food richer in protein than adult dogs. Sometimes it’s about the food brand, so try out different things until you see your four-legged friend satisfied. Luckily, there’s an array of resources online, for example Totally Goldens and similar, providing useful information on pet feeding and supplements to help you decide on what’s best for your dog.

WHY CAN’T I JUST LET MY DOG EAT IT?

Although your pooch won’t end up in the emergency room, if fed cat food frequently, he or she may suffer from some digestive problems, nutrient deficiency and weight problems.

The lack of fruits and vegetables may lead to some gastrointestinal problems in dogs, such as pancreatitis or acute gastroenteritis. Even if there aren’t any strong symptoms of illness, in the long run the high level of protein may do some damage to your dog’s kidneys and liver.

 WEIGHT GAIN

Animal obesity is something to be blamed on the owner. The less is presented in front of a dog, the less they’ll have a chance of gaining unnecessary weight. Apart from having different ingredients, cat food is much heavier in calories than dog food. While an occasional odd mouthful won’t do any harm, if fed regularly with cat kibble, dogs will definitely gain weight fast. An overweight dog has less chance of living a healthy and quality life.

NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCY

Since food for cats isn’t designed to meet dog’s dietary needs, it is not advisable feeding canines with it in order to avoid nutritional deficiency.

Dog and cat bodies function differently. Sometimes dogs need several supplements in their food that cats don’t, and vice-versa. For instance, dogs have the ability to convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, so foods rich in it, such as carrots, are common in dog kibble. Cats, on the other hand, need to be given vitamin A supplements, since they don’t have the same ability, so carrots are not put in cat food. Similarly, dogs produce taurine on their own, while cats need to obtain it in their diet in the form of supplements.

These and similar differences in metabolism functioning are the main reason why there are specific rules for making pet food. Mineral, fiber and vitamin deficiency can lead to some long-term health issues.

Pancreatitis (inflammation and infection of  the pancreas) is one of the nasty side effects of eating foods high in fats. Although this is not only specific for cat food, it may lead to intestinal problems if not put under control.

Finally, we forget that dogs can be like children – if they like something, they’ll find their way to get it. Pickiness is not rare in dogs, so make sure to be a strict parent when you discover your furry friend is sneaking on forbidden food.  Try to look at it as junk food for dogs – it’s delicious and addictive, but definitely not healthy. The good thing is, you are the one to control the situation.

MY DOG ATE CAT FOOD – WHAT DO I DO?

Again, apart from a little vomiting or diarrhea, there’s nothing to be worried about. After you’ve discovered your dog has access to cat food, think about feeding the animals in separate rooms.

Also, try feeding them at the same time to avoid any possible intruding into one’s lunch. This way, your cat will make sure the dog isn’t touching her bowl and the pooch will have to satisfy himself with the low-calorie kibble.

Another neat solution is considering automated feeders that can be programmed to react to specific triggers, like a cat’s collar, or to make food available at a specific time. While you go for a long walk with Rover, Fluffy can have her meal in peace.

Cats are nimble climbers, so use that to their advantage. Simply put a cat’s bowl or a feeder in an elevated place (on a table or a shelf) that is out of dog’s reach.

All in all, you shouldn’t be worried about your dog favouring cat food. It’s a common phenomenon and it happens for a reason. When you understand how your pets’ diet works and what they need to be healthy and well, it’s easy to know when to react and what steps to take. By following these tips, your dog will be back on track with his eating habits, so your beloved furry friends can live in peace, safe and sound.

 

About: Simon Dupree has loved dogs since he was a boy. In his free time, he enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with his two-year-old golden retriever. If he is not writing for Totally Goldens he is probably out exploring the world with his pawsome friend

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Dog Communication: What Does a Dog’s Body Language Mean?

Dogs are greatly loved by men, but this does not take out the fact that there are sometimes that it gets pretty hard to explain certain behaviors by your dog. Sometimes, it is just really difficult to decipher what your dog is trying to say. However, these animals actually communicate greatly. It is left to humans to understand their body language and the messages they are trying to pass across by behaving in certain ways.

Here are some common signs to look out for while trying to understand the meaning of your dog’s body language:

Relaxed and Friendly

In this case, what you get a very loose stance. Here, the dog is typically on all fours with head high, an indication that the dog doesn’t mind being approached.

In a relaxed state, the dog’s ears would also be up and the tail would hang loosely.

Aggressive

The common forms of aggression used by behaviorists to describe this include defensive aggression and offensive aggression.

For offensive aggression, the dog will have a tall and stiff posture with raised hackles and a highly-raised tail. The ears of the dog will also be pricked forward and could angle differently from each other in a “V”. The mouth and nose is wrinkled and features like bared teeth and curled lips of the dog become obvious. This is a behavior that presents the dog as larger and intimidating. As for defensive aggression, it comes when a threat is perceived. Here, the dog feels fearful or protective. Your dog would show this behavior by staying low to the ground and keeping his tail down. The ears and also flattened and eye contact is avoided. This may draw your attention to the need to groom your dog properly and one item you may need for this task is the very best brush for golden retrievers.

Curious and Alert

For a dog to get curious and alert, it could be that it has heard other dogs barking in the distance or it has smelt grilling hot dogs. This makes the dog wonder if danger is lurking. Thus, the dog gets curious and stays alert. In this case, your dog may have a generally stiffer body with tensing muscle and the dog’s weight will now be resting on its front paws.

The dog’s tail may thus move in side-to-side manner, although parallel to the body, but not bristled or puffed up. The ears will also forward and have the ability to twitch or rotate, as they angle to catch the sound. Your dog’s mouth will be closed if it is in this state.

Submissive

This is a common behavior that you would have noticed when two dogs come in contact with each other. Usually, one dog will go lower to the ground and flatten out ears and raise a paw as if to shake hands. This is usually the less confident dog showing some sort of humility and submission. This dog may even try to lick the more confident one. The dog may also roll on their back; while exposing their tummy with their eyes squinted, ears flattened and tail tucked.

Stressed Out

Dogs also get stressed out. Environmental and social stressors are common causes and they can be obvious in several ways. The dog lays low with flat ears and has its tail pointing down. You may also note some lip licking or quick panting. Slow-paced motions, yawning or some form of discomfort may also be noted.

Playful

You would definitely know when a dog is giving off a playful vibe. The trademark for this mode is a play bow where their butt is in the air, and head close to the floor. This is indicative of a mood where a carefree dog is calling on to others to play, with ears up, a raised wagging tail and a panting mouth.

 

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How to Poison Proof Your Home From Hidden Hazards & Keep Your Pets Safe

Are you sure that your house is poison-proof and that your pet can walk around the house freely and taste everything that comes across?

If you are not sure, then it’s a perfect time for you to re-think and re-organize your pet surrounding, as the Poison Prevention Week is still on!

Getting a new pet to your family is always a glorious moment celebrated with ecstatic YAY! What after it? This is the moment where people usually don’t know what they were supposed to do, and they struggle along the way with their pets habits, surrounding, and safety. Not being well informed is usually #1 reason for most pet-accidents.

vet visit dog ate plant

Better Safe Than Sorry

Our world is the most interesting thing for our pets. So many places and different creatures to sniff around, explore and taste. Therefore, our house is like their personal castle with a bunch of items to be explored.
However, with a large area of new things just waiting to be explored, a number of potentially dangerous things is significant.

And your house should be nothing less but a safe haven for your car or a dog. Sadly, common household products and their items can pose a less or bigger safety hazard. Places within the house, around the household or garden, are full of hidden dangers, that you may or may not be well aware of.

Fortunately, with some time and strict planning, you can protect your furry friends from hazards.

Spare some time, and work on keeping the main areas in your house, like the kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom free of potential hazards. So, poison-proof your home with this simple 5-step guide.

1. Electrical Safety

Kittens and puppies are curious as they are cute. Sometimes, the cute part can get them out of the trouble, like when they rip apart your favorite pillow. But, this cute part cant help when they start chewing something they shouldn’t – like electrical equipment.

Doing so, they risk their lives. The best case scenario, it can lead to a fire hazard in the home. Spend a few minutes to cover electrical outlets. Walk to your local department store and purchase outlet covers that are safe and easy to install.

dog in the yard

2. Garden Dangers

Having a garden where your pet can spend some time and sunbath is great. It keeps your dog from getting bored and gives you a safe and controlled surrounding.
However, this open area is perfect for uncontrolled hazards, in and outside the garden.

Check your garden on a daily basis for busted glass, small fractures of split wood, small hazardous objects, string related products, toys or even candy from the next door neighbor. Furthermore, make sure that you keep poisonous plants away from your dog’s reach.

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3. Holiday Hazards

Nothing says Christmas like holiday decoration. Nothing says danger better than holiday decoration, as well. Pay extra attention around holidays for your pet’s safety. Put heavier decorations in a secure area.

Be careful with holiday lights because they pose a strong risk of choking, so try to keep them out of reach of a canine and feline friend. In addition, be careful if your dog is scared of fireworks.

Train your dog during the year to get used to the sound of firework so you can avoid any uncomfortable situation.

4. Toys

Not every toy in the world is meant to be chewed. Having your kids around your pets creates a lovable and trust-worthy relationship, but you need to make sure that you don’t leave any small hazardous objects near your pet, as they are in reality choking hazards.

Keep your children’s toys in a safe place. You think that your pet won’t eat it, but the chances are that your pet will probably eat it. Keep also buttons, small batteries, and rubber bands away.

5. Dangerous Drinks

Pets have a tendency to show interest in everything that we eat and drink. Let’s be honest, most of the time you will let your pet bite something or have a sip.

However, you need to draw the line in some cases. There are certain drinks and foods that are harmful to your pets, and some that are dangerously toxic. Pay attention to where you keep poisonous foods and drinks, especially if your dog spends a significant amount of time alone at home unattended.

Why? Certain drinks can cause breathing difficulty, vomiting, or even nervous system depression. The most dangerous drinks for your pets are:

  • Caffeine, Coffee, and Chocolate – these products contain methylxanthines, a substance that once ingested by pets can cause diarrhea, urination, seizures and even death
  • Citrus – citric acid irritates pets central nervous system. Avoid any form of citrus oils and plants
  • Milk and Dairy Products – pets do not tolerate lactose in milk. Keep milk and dairy-based products away from them as it may cause them strong diarrhea
  • Alcohol – alcoholic beverages, as well as food based on alcohol, can cause smaller problems like vomiting, or a bigger one like coma and even death. Don’t let your pet get its paws to alcohol cabinet

Always bear in mind that with a great pet comes greater responsibility and it’s our duty to protect them the best way possible.

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4 Road Trip Dog Medications and Supplies You Need When Traveling with Pets

Most dogs go absolutely berserk with joy when they realize they are going on a road trip. However, their very excitement is a cause of concern as it can lead to anxiety and exhaustion during long road trips. Dogs are also susceptible to motion sickness, especially if you plan on going off roading.

road trip bring dog

As a responsible pet parent, you need to prepare a medical kit just for your dog. These kits should include all the essential vet supplies for dogs necessary for a long road trip. This not only helps you treat common health issues but also gives you the peace of mind when nothing goes wrong.  Without further ado, the following are 4 pet medications and supplies you need to have around when going on a road trip with your dog.

Pet First-Aid Kit

There is a good chance you already have a first-aid kit in your car. However, that kit contains medical supplies to treat wounds and injuries in humans. If you are traveling with your pet, it makes sense to prepare or buy a first-aid kit for dogs. Apart from the usual items such as pain-free pet bandages and antiseptics lotion, there are a few critical supplies most pet parents tend to forget. Barring the usual, following are 3 medical supplies that should be part of your dog first-aid kit.

  • Styptic Gel: Stops Bleeding Immediately
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: To Induce Vomiting to Treat Poisoning
  • Emergency Blanket: To Prevent Heat Loss

Anti-Anxiety Medication

As mentioned earlier, dogs tend to get excited when riding a car. While for most dogs the excitement lasts only a few minutes and they usually calm down. However, some dogs face a difficult time settling down and they continue to pant and move around for a long time. This is not only unhealthy for the dog but can also be distracting for the driver. Anti-anxiety pills for dogs work really well in these circumstances. Right from antihistamines and sedatives to anxiolytics, there are several different types of anti-anxiety pet meds that can help in these situations. Speak to a vet to learn about the best anti-anxiety medication for your dog and the appropriate dosage.  It’s also a good idea to get your dog familiarized with the car before a long trip. Take short drives with your dog before going on a long road trip.

Medication for Motion Sickness

Much like children, dogs are susceptible to motion sickness when riding a car. There are a few pet-safe homeopathic remedies for motion sickness such as cocculus and aconitum. Speak to a vet to understand if they are right for your pet. Warm peppermint tea offers a natural remedy for nauseated dogs. However, be sure to consult a vet before administering it as some dogs can get stomach upsets following a peppermint overdose.

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Pet Diapers

While it’s not a medication, pet diapers help your pet to relieve themselves and frees you from the worry of “accidents”. It’s unhealthy and unfair for dogs who are forced to hold their pee for extended periods of time. The solution is to take frequent pee breaks and carry enough diapers. Diaper training might be necessary to let dogs know that it’s safe to relieve themselves when wearing a diaper.

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Is Sharing Your Bed with Your Pet Right for You?

If you’re thinking about sharing your bed with your pet, you’re not alone. A 2010 survey found that 56 percent of dog owners slept with their dogs in or on their bed. Cats have it even better with 62 percent sleeping in or on their owner’s bed.

If you’re undecided here are a few pros and cons to think about.

Sleeping in bed with pets

Pros

1. Safety

Safety is one of the number one reasons people share their bed with a dog. Many people assume their dog will let them know of danger like an intruder or fire. People who live alone often rest easier knowing they have someone else to watch their back while they sleep.

2. Better Mental Health

Stress, anxiety, and depression are common causes of insomnia. A study conducted at Miami University found that pets can fulfill social needs without competing with your human relationships. Your feelings towards your pet may rival those you have for a best friend, making them a part of your social support system. It’s also been found that touching your pet can cause the release of oxytocin, a hormone that stimulates feelings of love and compassion. Together, these effects can help improve your mental health so you can sleep easier.

3. Comfort

Did you sleep with a stuffed animal as a child? Pets are like the ultimate security/comfort blanket. For those who live alone or who’s spouse frequently travels, another body in the bed adds warmth and companionship at night. To sleep comfortably, you might need to order a larger mattress to accommodate you and a pet, especially if your Great Dane really wants to snuggle.

French bulldog puppy sleeping with teddy bear

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Cons

4. Germs and Bacteria

Pets are going to bring extra germs and bacteria into your bed. Now, you’ll also have to consider that if your pet is inside anyway, those germs and bacteria are already in your home. However, pets that spend any time outside could bring in extra debris and fecal matter. You have to decide if you’re okay with that. For your health, you should also make sure your pet is up to date on vaccinations as well as flea and tick treatments.

5. Allergies

Many people successfully keep pets even though they have allergies. However, prolonged nighttime exposure to allergens can aggravate your symptoms. Breathing problems can reduce the quality of your sleep, leaving you tired the next day. Fur and dander can get attached to almost everything from the bed frame to the curtains. If your allergies get triggered at night, it can make them worse during the day too.

6. Sleep Deprivation

Pets dream and change positions during the night like humans do.  If you’re trying to share a bed with a partner and a pet, you all might end up running into each other far too often. Both you and your pet need sleep for optimal health. Of course, you might be able to come up with a solution to bed sharing problems. Your pet could have a designated space at the foot of the bed or a pet bed kept on the floor. Your pet will still be nearby, but everyone will have their own space.

After you’ve weighed the pros and cons, it’s time to jump in with your decision. You’ll know you’ve made the right choice when you and your pet are both happy and well rested. Whether that’s sharing a bed, bedroom, or staying separate, you can still have a strong bond with your pet.

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Should You Install a Dog Door?

One of the many problems homeowners have with their pets is assisting them through the door whenever they want to get in and out of the house. The best solution to ease the owners’ task and allow the pets to move about freely, is to install a pet door that leads to the front or backyard towards a fenced area where they can play or do their needs.

Installing a dog door can cause safety issues for the home sometimes but with proper guidance, the benefits of pet-proofing a home outweigh the obstacles by far.

Installing a secure dog door can give you peace of mind as the newer versions are designed to keep intruders away. Dog owners will also have more time to relax as the dog will be able to relieve itself or go out to explore and play around and re-enter the house whenever it wants.

head through doggie door

Some of the different kinds of pet door installation that you can choose depending on your lifestyle are:

  1. Electronic/ microchip doggie door for keeping other animals out

Technology has upgraded even classic flap doors. There are pet door installations equipped with electronics or microchips that allow only your pet to enter and exit which prevents critters such as mice, raccoons from entering the house by identifying your dog through the key-collar.

  1. Weather-tight pet doors

These kinds of doors stop drafts to prevent air conditioning and heat loss as effectively as a dual pane glass. They are made to withstand extreme heat and insulated enough to prevent cold wind and rain from seeping in.

  1. Sturdy pet doors for energetic dogs

These designs are for durability and heavy duty. The frames of the door are usually sturdy aluminum frames, and the flaps are built to withstand damages from continuous use.

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To install an efficient dog door at your home, some of the crucial things worth considering are:

Location

Choosing the right place requires you to ensure a safe roaming area for the dog. Depending on your choice of whether you want the dog door on the wall or the door, and after considering the convenience of your house appliances, decors, and settings, take the size of the dog into account.

Patio door differs from a wall door in construction material, installation and depth. So before buying a pet door, decide on the location that is most convenient to your home settings.

Dog At Home Wanting Outside

Weather

Depending on the amount of snowfall, rainfalls, and the climate of your house location, consider installing a dog door. If you live in snow or rain prone area, there are chances of it getting into your house during the summers or winters. It might be a good option if the door does have moving parts that allow proper insulation during extreme weather to prevent a messy house or to strand the dog outside.

Size and age of the dog

Dogs vary in sizes so if you have multiple dogs you should consider an installation that can be easily accessible for both small and larger pets.

An extended narrow door usually works better than a broad one as most pets generally adjust their shapes to fit through tiny areas as long as they have proper leg space. It is vital especially when the dogs get older as they might not be as enthusiastic about bending and crawling through small openings.

Is your home rented or privately owned?

Some landlord might not want you cutting through the wall or the door. By choosing a sliding door or window, you can train your pets to get in and out through them.

Now that you have a clue about what to consider before getting the type of pet door, some tips to remember with the installation are:

  • Make sure you have an accurate measurement of the dog to cut out the door before you purchase it. Even if they are puppies, consider the maximum size that they are expected to grow. Also read the instructions thoroughly and be informed about the installation process, sealing, type of door and maintenance required.
  • You should also examine the material of the exterior door to fix the doggy door. Whether it is made of wood, fiberglass, or metal, knowing the physical condition of the door can help you pick the right door for your pet.
  • Once you have decided to go through the process of installation, it is usually required to unhinge the door for more accurate measurement and to fit in your workstation.
  • Fix the dog door at an appropriate height of about 3 inches from the bottom edge of the door. This method not only keeps the integrity of the door intact but it is also comfortable for the dog to enter and exit quickly.
  • Most DIY dog door kit comes with a measurement template. Use it to mark the right places to cut the door and place the screws, or you could hire an expert to install it.
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Tips For Caring For An Older Dog

Your dog will always be a key part of your family, no matter how old he gets. However, when your furry friend is getting on in years you might need to adjust your lifestyle a little to accommodate your older dog.

Whether your dog is a senior or not will depend on its breed. A small dog like a terrier or chihuahua won’t be considered to be a pensioner until they reach the age of ten or twelve, however bigger breeds like Great Danes could be seniors at just 5 or 6. Not only does breed and size have an impact on your pup’s life expectancy, their genetics, environment and diet all have a role to play.

aged senior dog care

The good news is that modern medicine hasn’t only extended human lives, it can also help your dog to live a long, happy life too. As long as you give your fur baby the right preventative care and attention, your aging dog will have the longest and best life possible.

With that in mind, here are some tips for caring for your older dog.

Don’t Forget Your Pup’s Teeth

Caring for your dog’s dental hygiene couldn’t be more important at all stages of your dog’s life but particularly when they get old. Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth and getting them cleaned professional can guard against painful decay and dental disease. It’ll also help to avoid chewing problems that can lead to poor nutrition. If your pet isn’t keen on having his teeth brushed, you should consider toys that are designed for this purpose instead or dental treats which will keep your pet happy while also getting his teeth plaque free.

Caring For Your Dog’s Skin

As your dog ages they may develop more sensitivities. Their skin may be more easily damaged so switching to a hypoallergenic shampoo is good for your pets as they get older.

Eating Healthily

Just as humans have to watch what they eat, particularly as they get older, elderly dogs also often have problems with food. Some may struggle to chew, others lack appetite and some have digestive problems or may even be obese. Talk to your vet about how to choose the right exercise and diet plan for your older dog. You may need to adopt some dietary changes such as adding extra fiber into his diet to help improve digestion, or you may need to reduce carbohydrates so your pet can maintain a healthy bodyweight. You may also need to add supplements like glucosamine or fish oils into his diet to treat joint pain.

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Exercise For Mind And Body

As humans age, they struggle to perform physical activities. It’s the same with dogs. As they get older they may experience pain or find it hard to do the things they used to love. Exercise, however, is still vital to your dog’s well-being and health. Take your pet on gentle, short walks but take care to monitor his gait and breathing to ensure that everything is ok. Your dog’s mind also needs exercise. Food puzzles and other stimulating toys will help to keep your pet sharp.

Schedule Regular Vet Visits

You should take your older dog to the vet for a check up every six months. In the same way as older people have to take care with their health and see their doctor more frequently, older pets also benefit from more frequent vet visits. Old pets often need more examinations, dental treatment and blood tests. Some breeds are also more predisposed to developing certain conditions like diabetes, cancer, hip dysplasia and arthritis. Detecting these problems at an early stage will help to prevent them from becoming serious concerns.
older dog vet care

Make Your Home Suitable For An Older Dog

When you first brought your puppy home, you probably puppy-proofed it. Now your pet is older you’ll need to seniorize it. If your pet has joint problems or hip dysplasia you may need to put in some steps or a ramp so he can get into the car or onto the bed. Keep his water and food in an area that can easily be reached, particularly if they have sight problems. A heated bed could soothe their aching joints, particularly if you’re living in colder regions. Also, non-slip surfaces could protect against falls, helping your elderly dog to keep traction when getting up.

Pay Closer Attention

Always monitor any change in appetite, weight, behavior and dental problems as well as lesions, bumps or lumps which appear. Any changes you note should be reported to your vet.

Although it’s harder to care for your older dog, your lifelong companion will be by your side for the rest of his life, so it’s worth making a few small changes.

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Dog Safety & Pet Containment Systems

Our dogs are our family and most of us treat them like our children.  Guilty!  In loving them as much as we do, we want to protect them and keep them safe from harm.  Whether it is on the home front, throughout the daily routine, or out and about traveling, we want to ensure their safety.

There are plenty of pet containment systems available to aid in providing safety.  Ranging from wireless fences to traditional fences and all things in between, you will most likely be able to find something to best suit you and your family.

dog behind fence

Electronic Wired Fencing

One of the most popular pet containment systems is the electronic fence.  With installation, cables are buried underground and run the edge of the perimeter in any shape, forming an invisible boundary for your pet.  The cables also allow you to exclude areas of the property, to keep your dog away from certain things such as a pool or pond.

A base unit for the system operates electronically and can be placed anywhere on the property, as it has rugged characteristics and does not have to be kept indoors.  The unit uses a digital radio frequency signal to travel along the cable wires and works with your dog’s collar receiver.

Training flags are placed along the boundary to assist in training for your dog.  They are visible cues to let your dog know where the boundaries are.  If the dog goes beyond the boundary, he will receive a corrective stimulation on his collar.  The corrective stimulation is adjustable depending on the size and type of dog you have.

As far as safety for your dog when using this type of containment, it is not one hundred percent secure.  While it may provide a decreased chance of your dog getting out, there is still a chance that your pup can run through and disregard the electronic correction.  Other pests or predators cannot be kept out, which could potentially pose a threat.

Electronic Wireless Fencing

These types of fences allow owners to monitor their dog through a GPS (Global Positioning Systems) collar, by placing a transmitter in a central location, connected to the GPS.  The transmitter then gives off a signal that provides an invisible boundary for the dog.  Unlike the base for the wired fencing, this transmitter must be in an indoor location.

Shih Tzu In Yard Invisible Fence

Similar wireless systems do not need a transmitter, rather can create a boundary or invisible fence connected directly to the GPS collar.  Your dog can then learn the boundary areas, through training.  If he wanders outside of the boundary, he will receive a corrective stimulation through the collar.

There are several different types of GPS fence systems on the market.  Most of them only provide a circular boundary, covering only a certain amount of feet.  Some may see this as a negative if you are looking for more space for your dog to roam free.

Many of the GPS systems are designed to be completely portable so that you can easily travel with your pup.  This may be a nice alternative to the wired systems, for that reason.

Along with the wired electronic fencing, the wireless fencing cannot guarantee to keep your dog in the boundary; and will not be able to keep others out.

The wireless system may be prone to more outages as well, in comparison to the wired fencing.

Indoor Systems

Needing to keep your pup contained to a certain room, or away from the trash can?  The electronic GPS systems can work for this inside.  Some systems allow for the GPS collar to work with a boundary transmitter, marking off certain areas to keep your pet away from, or confined to, ranging from eight to ten feet.

Using this type of system would provide a good alternative to those child or pet gates that may be going up all over the house.   Although, the system is still operating like the outdoor ones in which the dog’s collar is connected to the frequency transmitter.  The dog could still find a way to disregard the corrective stimulation and go after what he wants.

Traditional Fencing

Wooden, wrought iron, vinyl, aluminum, and the list goes on.  Many options are available when you are looking at fencing in your yard the traditional way.  While fully fencing in your yard will be a more expensive route than others, it is going to create a little more security in the long run.

Most dogs adapt well to a fenced in yard.  If the fencing is high enough, you will not have to worry about them jumping over.  If digging is an issue, there are products designed to work in conjunction with your fence to prevent digging.  The products are steel rods which run down into the ground, protecting your pup from digging a way out or other pests from digging their way in.

A traditional fence is also going to keep predators such as coyotes, mountain lions, or other wildlife out.  However, in my case, this has not been full proof.  There is a snake that manages to sneak his way into my fenced in backyard.  Fortunately, he is not poisonous, so he gets a free pass.

Other Safety Factors

Regardless of the pet containment system you are thinking of, or currently using, keep in mind nothing is full proof.  Our dogs are instinctive animals, and simply put, animals.  Some of them can find their way out of any containment.

Certain precautions should be taken in addition to using pet containment systems.  Visually monitoring your pup even when he is outdoors in any type of fencing, is recommended.  Make sure your dog always has his ID tags on and visible.

Having a microchip can also be a lifesaver.  Our neighbors found a dog without any tags or ID and drove her to a local pet store where the store looked up her microchip.  They were able to contact the family and they were reunited within a few hours.  A happy ending that may not have happened otherwise.

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