Gastrointestinal Blockage: Signs, Symptoms and Prevention

If the item that the dog consumes is unable to pass through the dog’s digestive tract, it can cause an obstruction. This can have severe consequences, including emergency surgery and death.

Puppies like to eat everything.  They explore and discover by smelling and “tasting” almost everything they come across.  This is not limited to edible items and can be dangerous.  Unfortunately, there are many adult dogs that continue this trait, even if it’s only on occasion.  If the item that the dog consumes is unable to pass through the dog’s digestive tract, it can cause an obstruction.  This can have severe consequences, including emergency surgery and death.  It’s important to monitor your dog while he plays and to remove all smaller items that can be easily swallowed. It’s always good to be aware of any signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal blockage, as well as how to prevent it from happening to your pet.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

What items Cause Gastrointestinal Blockage?

There are many items that can get stuck in the stomach, intestines and colon. If the object is not able to be dissolved or broken down by the stomach acids, or is too large to get through the intestinal tract, it becomes lodged.  At this point the object cannot move up to be vomited out or down to be passed through and released through the colon.  Although any object your dog swallows can be a danger, some of the most common items found lodged in the intestinal tracts of many dogs are:

– hair ties

– socks

– underwear

– facecloths

– small stuffed toys

– corn cobs

– string, ribbon or rope

– rocks

– sticks

– broken or small chew toys

– rawhide

– bones

What Should you Do If You See Your Dog Swallow Something He Shouldn’t?

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

If you see your dog swallow something that is not dog food, you should get him to a vet immediately. Your vet may be able to help the dog to bring up the foreign object before it travels down to a location that will require surgical removal. 

NOTE:  Never induce vomiting without the advice and guidance of a veterinarian.  If you don’t perform the process properly, it could result in your dog asphyxiating should the item become lodged in the throat on the way out.

Signs and Symptoms of Gastrointestinal blockage:

Sometimes our little friends find things that we don’t see and scoop them up without our even knowing it. When this happens, if we are lucky, whatever they have swallowed will pass naturally. 

One of my family members has two Burnese Mountain dogs. One day, after she had let them out in the yard to do their business, she went out to clean up the mess and found an entire mini skirt mixed in with the “pile”.  It seemed funny at the time, but it could have been a very different, very NOT funny outcome if the skirt had become entangled in the intestines.

So how do we know if something is stuck?  There are a number of physical symptoms that could indicate blockage.

  • Vomiting food, bile or fluids
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stomach appears enlarged or bloated
  • Slow, listless, lethargic behavior
  • Diarrhea or constipation (depending on where the blockage is)
  • Dehydration
  • Stomach pain when touched
  • Whimpering or showing other signs of physical discomfort

If you see any of these signs or other unusual behaviour you should have your dog examined by a veterinarian to rule out potentially deadly blockage.

Why do dogs eat non-food items?

Many dogs, especially puppies, will eat anything within range. This is simply curiousity and exploration.  For older dogs, it is often because they are chewing on something they shouldn’t.  Bones, sticks, rawhide or chew toys that are either too small or not durable enough, among other things.  Generally, anything that can fit in your dog’s throat, has strings or has a tendency to splinter, should not be available to your dog.  It’s just too dangerous.

Some dogs actually crave or seek out certain inedible things to chew on.  This is a condition called Pica. While Pica can be a habitual tendency, it can sometimes be brought on by emotional issues, a change in diet or new stresses, including new pet, new baby or owners being stressed.  . 

Your dog may have never had this issue before, but can evolve at any time.

How Can you prevent your dog from eating non-food items?

One of the best ways to prevent your dog from ingesting dangerous items is to remove them from the dog’s reach.  This may not be as easy as it sounds, depending in your doggo’s chewing preferences.

Supervise your dog when he is playing with his toys to be sure he isn’t being too aggressive.  This will prevent breaking the toy and swallowing the broken pieces.

Hair ties, socks, string, bones, dangerous chew toys and rawhide can be removed easily. If you have young children, you should make sure that their toys are out of reach.  A Barbie shoe or toy blocks can cause serious harm to your dog.

Find ways to keep your dog entertained.  Providing him with toys that keep him busy will keep your dog distracted.  He will not be as interested in chewing on the dangerous items.

Provide durable toys to limit breakage that leads to swallowing pieces. Supervise your dog when he is playing with his toys to be sure he isn’t being too aggressive.  This will prevent breaking the toy and swallowing the broken pieces.

Make toy inspection part of your daily routine.  Ensure that all toys are in good shape and remove any that are damaged or broken.

But what if your dog chews on wires?                          

Wires are all over your house.  They can’t be taken away but they can be hidden and kept out of reach. Some ways to achieve this are:

  • Make sure all wires are tucked in behind furniture where possible.
  • If your wires are exposed, you should try purchasing a durable protective cover to wrap the wires in.  This will make them less inviting as well as more difficult to chew through.
  • Put away your electronic chargers after use.  Where possible, charge these devices on an out-of-reach table or counter.
  • Purchase a deterrent spray. Remember that this is a deterrent, not a fool proof plan.  See how it works for your pet before leaving the dogs unsupervised. CAUTION: BE SURE THAT THE SPRAY YOU CHOOSE IS SAFE FOR ALL OF THE PETS ON YOUR HOME, NOT JUST YOUR DOG!

Summary

When you have a dog in the house, you never know what might be chewed or swallowed.  The best way to avoid dangerous ingestion of non food items is prevention. 

Be aware of any unusual behavior.  Monitor for the signs listed above if you think your dog may have swallowed something.  Most importantly, if you suspect that your dog may have consumed anything other than dog-safe food, get him to a vet as soon as possible.

Eusoh Cool

How to Help a Dog Who is Grieving the loss of a Pet Friend

It’s always an emotional time for a family when you lose a family pet. This is no different for the other pets in the house. They can experience the same stages of grief that a human does.

It’s always an emotional time for a family when you lose a family pet. This is no different for the other pets in the house. They can experience the same stages of grief that a human does. There are many thoughts and ideas about how to help a dog who is grieving the loss of a pet friend. Some are simple and others will require time and patience. It’s important to remember that you are going rough this together.

What does pet grieving pet look like look like?

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Searching or Pacing

Your dog may begin going from room to room or pacing around looking for something.  She will probably spend a lot of time circling and searching areas where her partner spent a lot of time.  Dog beds, toy boxes or that special spot on the couch where she would normally find her friend will be thoroughly and repeatedly inspected in hopes that the missing friend will return.

Crying/Whimpering

When she can’t find her partner, she may begin crying or whimpering.  Just as humans feel sadness and confusion when we lose a loved one, your dog may cry and whine.  She may come to you whimpering and “asking” for help to find her lost friend.  

Symptoms of Anxiety

An anxious dog will appear to act out. She may revert to behaviors you haven’t seen since she was a puppy, such as peeing in the house, or destroying furniture.  Your doggo may start barking when there appears to be no cause for it.  She may react badly when you leave the house.  Remember, she has not been alone when you leave for as long as your lost pet has been in her life.  When you leave the house – or even the room – she feels completely alone now.

Needy – “Velcro Dog”

In coming to you for help, she may appear very needy.  She has lost her partner and may be searching for someone to share her time with.  Her days used to be filled with a playmate.  Now she wants that interaction from you.  She may also just need to be comforted by someone safe and you are her closest friend. Sometimes, she recognizes your grief and wants to take care of you.  Her need to curl up on your lap or be glued to you wherever you go could be for both or your benefit.

Depression

Dogs can experience depression.  You may see changes in the way she interacts with you and other family members.  She may retreat to her bed and sleep longer than usual.  Some dogs may not want to play like they usually do.  All of these are signs of depression.

Lack of Appetite

Not eating may be another symptom of depression, or it may be a reaction all on its own.  Dog’s rarely go off of their food unless they are ill or experiencing emotional turmoil.  It’s probably just temporary, but if it goes on for mor than a couple of days, you should contact a veterinarian for advice.  If she stops drinking, you should contact a vet immediately to avoid dehydration.  There may be something more than the loss of her friend going on.

How to help your pet cope with the loss of another pet:

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

Consistent Schedule

Keep routine consistent.  There is already a big change to your doggo’s daily routine, so it is best not to change anything more. The familiar is comforting.  Meals should be served at the same times, walks taken at the same times.  The pet that passed away may have required more frequent outings, or a special mealtime that was followed by all.  Although your surviving dog may not require the same schedule to be kept, it is a good idea to maintain consistency.  Maintaining a routine provides stability in a situation that has lost some of its normalcy and will provide your dog with some form of peace.

Provide Extra Attention to the Grieving Dog

Pay extra attention to your doggo.  She needs to fill the void in her life.  She used to play, sleep or even just sit stare out the window with her buddy.  That is not an option anymore and she will be looking for a new partner.  Let her curl up on the couch beside you.  Talk to her.  Take her outside when you work in the yard. Let her know you are there for her and she still has someone who loves her.

It’s important to remember to comfort her, but avoid spoiling her. If you get too carried away, you may find yourself with a whole different emotional issue to be concerned about.

Offer the Scent of the Lost Friend

One idea to help your dog would be to gather toys, bedding, clothing – anything that has the scent of the missing friend – and put it in a special place in your home for your dog to visit.  A dog’s sense of smell is directly related to her memory. Your dog may be comforted by the scent of her missing playmate. Having a place dedicated to the memory of her friend may provide her with solace at times when she is struggling with her loss.

Socialize with Dog Friends

Socializing with other dogs can offer a distraction from the missing friend.  Play dates with other dogs will substitute the playtime she used to have with her partner

Socializing her with other dogs and people can offer a distraction from the missing friend.  Play dates with other dogs can be a substitute for the playtime she used to have with her partner while allowing her to make new friends.  She will appreciate a little doggy one-on-one time that has been missing from her daily life.

Don’t Run Out and Get a Replacement Dog

You may want to run out and get another dog for her.  While this may be a good idea for some, it may not be for others.  Just as it is for humans, you can’t simply replace a life long mate. Refrain from replacing the lost companion too quickly.  Watch your dog. See how she is doing on her own.  She how she responds to other dogs. It is best to wait until she is ready for a new friend and appears to have stopped searching and/or grieving for her lost companion.

Important to Note:

The ideas provided in this post are just some ways to help your dog cope with the loss of a four-legged friend. If symptoms of depression or over sleeping last for several days, or of your dog refuses to eat for more than a couple of days, see a veterinarian as soon as possible. There are medications that can be administered to help with your dog’s emotional condition and methods of care that a trained veterinarian may recommend. 

Get WagWell Box Now

Socializing Your Dog or Puppy

Socializing you dog or puppy will help him to feel safe and to understand what is happening around him. By taking the time to introduce your dog to a variety of situations, you are opening him up to new experiences.

Socializing your dog or puppy is a very important part of raising a happy and well-adjusted dog.  It encourages confidence, it teaches manners, and it allows for enjoyable outings. 

Socializing your dog or puppy is the first step toward training.  A dog who is not socialized will have difficulty with trust as he has not been exposed to new ideas, smells, noises or friends, both human and four legged.  He will learn to feel safe. It will help him to understand what is happening around him. By taking the time to introduce your dog to a variety of situations, you are opening him up to new experiences and showing your dog that the world is a fun place to be.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

Introducing Your Puppy to Humans

Puppies are trusting and adventurous.  They are open to new ideas.  They feel that everyone loves them and will comfortably visit with anyone who is calm and inviting. 

Use every opportunity to introduce your puppy to new people, of all ages.  Taking them for daily walks has multiple benefits.  Obviously, the exercise is great and the ability to let her sniff, explore and learn about new situations provides great brain stimulation, but there will likely be people and other dogs along the way as well.  At a public park or hiking trail, your pup will have many chances to engage with humans and dogs of all ages and sizes. 

If the humans want to pet the new puppy and your puppy doesn’t seem fearful, let them.  Your dog will learn to be comfortable being approached and touched by many people.  This will create a level of comfort with people in general.  If you keep your pup away from people and anxiously pull her away, she will associate other humans with anxiety.  Once this happens, your pup may shy away from, or even become aggressive toward people because they think people are to be feared.

If the human that wants to visit with your puppy is a young child, be sure the child is calm. Be sure the parent is present and agrees to the interaction.  If possible, show the child how to let the puppy sniff his hand first and not to try to grab or move too quickly. Speak calmly and softly to both of them. Keep your puppy from jumping on the child or being too bouncy. This will benefit both the puppy and the child, as it teaches them both how to behave in each other’s company.

A dog, even a puppy, who jumps up on a young child, can create a permanent fear of dogs.  Alternatively, a child who pulls a puppy’s fur or slaps at her, can instill a fear of children in your pup.  Both of these can be avoided by taking the time to introduce both of them the best way to interact with each other.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Introducing Puppies to Other Dogs

When introducing your puppy to new dogs, be sure to wait until she has had all of her vaccinations.  Once she can safely play with other dogs, you can take her on puppy play dates with other pet owners.  Make sure you know the temperament of the dogs you are introducing your pup to.  An overzealous or even mildly aggressive dog can have a negative impact if your puppy is afraid.  Start slowly with well socialized dogs or other puppies so that she feels safe and calm.

Another way to expose your puppy to a variety of dogs is to take a puppy training class.  While there are many dogs around that you may not know, you will be there along with a professional trainer to encourage proper interactions and maintain controlled environment.  Your puppy can be learning basic skills and manners while meeting new friends.

NOTE: LEASH FREE PARKS ARE NOT A SAFE AND CONTROLED ENVIRONMENT.  DOGS PLAYING IN A DOG PARK ARE RARELY CALM.  THEY ARE VERY EXCITED AND WILL OFTEN APPROACH YOUR PUPPY VERY QUICKLY.  THIS CAN BE TERRIFYING AND WILL BE DETRIMENTAL TO YOUR PUPPY’S DEVELOPMENT.  ALSO, NOT ALL DOGS ARE PROPERLY SOCIALIZED AND THE INTERACTIONS CAN BE AGGRESSIVE AND DANGEROUS.

Socializing Older or Fearful Dogs

Unfortunately, many dogs don’t have the benefit proper socialization as a puppy.  Rescues, for example, have often been neglected or abused before they are rescued and placed in a loving home.  Some have lived on the streets where humans were a threat and other dogs were competition.  Rescues are usually older and have passed the point of innocent puppy curiosity.  This makes socialization more difficult, but not impossible. 

There are many challenges to overcome. It will take much more time and patience.  You will have to devote a lot of time, and perhaps elicit the help of a professional trainer, but it will be worth it.  These dogs are often so grateful and eager to please. They are so loving because they have lived in fear and danger for so long.

Many of the methods used for puppies can be used for timid dogs, but the results may take a lot longer.  The use of positive reinforcement, encouragement and treats will go a long way. A professional trainer will be able to assess your dog’s needs and guide both of you through the best methods of socialization.  In the mean-time, exposure to a variety of places and people will help your fearful doggo to realize that he is safe in his new environment.  He will slowly learn to trust, which will go a long way to develop great social skills.

Get WagWell Box Now

Other Important Things to Consider When Socializing Your Dog or Puppy

When meeting other dogs on walks or in social settings, it’s important to remember to ask permission to approach another dog.  Even if the dog seems calm and well behaved, there may be an underlying issue that could be triggered with a seemingly innocent movement or sound.  The same rules apply for dog interactions. Your dog or puppy may just want to play with a new friend, but the other dog may be learning or dealing with fears or stresses that could result in a scary or dangerous encounter for both animals as well as the owners. 

Summary

Socialization is a very important part of raising a happy and well-adjusted dog.  It encourages confidence, it teaches manners, and it allows for enjoyable outings.  A well socialized dog is not fearful of the unfamiliar.  He doesn’t react negatively to new people.  When he sees another dog, he does not feel threatened or afraid.  These become a positive part of his day.  Each new person or dog friend is a step toward living his best life. Socializing your dog is the best way to ensure that he is able to have a peaceful and stress-free life.

Why Choose an Indoor Potty for Dogs?

Most dog owners would benefit from having an indoor dog potty on hand. It can save your floors and carpets, but more importantly, it can save your dog from physical and mental stress.

Many dog owners have chosen to use the indoor potty option while training their puppy, but once they are trained the pee pads go away and they move on to daily walks or being let out into the backyard to do their business.  Unfortunately, these options are not always easy for many pet owners.  There are many reasons why dog owners choose an indoor potty for dogs.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

When Indoor Potties are Essential:

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

When Humans are Senior Citizens or Have a Physical Impairment

Many dog owners are not able to walk several times a day. Some may not even be able to walk once.  Hiring a dog walker is a great option, but can get expensive when the dog needs to go out several time daily.  Having an indoor potty allows the dog to relieve himself as needed and the owner to feel satisfied that their dog is not uncomfortable.

If Your Dog Is Sick

If your dog is ill or on medication, she may need more frequent trips outside.  When you are working and away from home for several hours a day, it is important that your dog has options.  Hiring a dog walker is a good way to break up the day, but if the illness or medication to fix the illness, causes frequent urination or diarrhea, it may be best to provide your dog with an alternate option that is comfortable.

Senior Dog

As dogs age, they may have difficulty holding it the way they did when they were younger.  Just like humans, bladder leakage and frequent need to void their bladder is a real and common issue.  Having an indoor potty option will help to relieve the stress associated with waiting for you to wake up, or return from work.

Long work days

Life happens.  Even if you have a dog walker coming once or twice a day, there may be some days when you are leaving your doggo for longer than you intend to.  Meetings, deadlines, traffic, public transportation delays, snow storms or whatever other interruption may happen throughout the course of your day, can cause you to be held up.  An indoor potty offers the option that both you and your dog will appreciate.

Condo/Apartment Life

Living on the 34th floor provides a beautiful view, but accessing the elevator and getting outside with a dog who hasn’t been out all night can be a cause for accidents to happen.  Puppies have little control and seniors are in similar situations.  Your dog still needs to be walked, but at least he will not be placed in a difficult situation waiting for several minutes trying to get out of the building.

Weather Restrictions

Weather can affect a dog’s ability to be outside. Some breeds have difficulty with extreme temperatures.  In extreme heat or humidity, it becomes difficult for dogs like pugs or bull dogs to breath. Alternatively, a chihuahua might struggle in extreme cold.  During these times, walking may not be an option and your dog may be better off staying inside to do his business.

Messes on the floor are never pleasant to clean, but they are not the worst part of the accident.  Before a trained dog will let go of his bladder or bowels in the house, he has probably held it until he was in physical pain. Holding it for too long could also lead to a urinary tract infection that would cause him to have difficulty holding it for several days. Psychologically, the dog immediately feels guilty.  Now they have experienced both a physical and mental struggle. 

Having an indoor potty as an option for your dog offers freedom for everyone.  It should never take the place of regular play and exercise, but there are many circumstances where they are beneficial for everyone involved.

Indoor Potty Options for Various Sizes of Dogs

Small dogs have a number of indoor potty options to choose from.  Because of their size, they can use something as small as a kitty litter box or a dog potty tray.  If they are trained to use this method at a young age, they learn that this is normal.  For those who are unable to walk their dogs, this is a great alternative.  A very small dog can get plenty of exercise in a relatively small space, and special toys and sniffing games can be offered within the house to provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation. 

Indoor dog potties excellent for temporary situations like puppy training and recovery from illness or surgery.

Many choose to use disposable pee pads.  They are quick to clean up, easy to maintain and disposable. They are absorbent enough for small bladders and relatively inexpensive. Pee Pads are also excellent for temporary situations like puppy training and recovery from illness or surgery.

Washable pee pads are reusable and are good for training as well as permanent use for small through large dogs.

Indoor turf patches placed on a potty tray provide a more natural alternative to the pee pads.  The tray catches any overflow. The turf patches can be replaced as needed. They are offered in all sizes.

If you are looking for something more permanent, you may want to subscribe to Doggy Lawn.  It’s an actual patch of grass that is sent to you at intervals that suit your needs. Simply replace the patch and disposed of the soiled patch.  It is as natural as the grass in the park and comes in a variety of sizes, so even your extra-large dog will be comfortable using it.

Because the grass is real, this is a very eco-friendly option.

For people with more space in their home, there are large litter boxes that are suitable for both male and female large dogs. 

Summary

Most pet parents’circumstances fit into one of the categories listed above. This means that most dog owners would benefit from having an indoor dog potty on hand. It can save your floors and carpets, but more importantly, it can save your dog from physical and mental stress. You and your dog will appreciate it.

Why Caring for Your Dog’s Nails is Important

Failing to keep your dog’s nails at the proper length can cause discomfort, pain and even permanent damage to your dog’s feet, legs and back.

As a dog walker, I have seen a lot of paws with nails that desperately needed to be trimmed. I’ve seen dogs slip and slide on floors and I have seen dew claws hanging and bleeding. I decided to learn more about the importance of nail trimming and how caring for your dog’s nails is an important health issue.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

I discovered that it is just as important as having his regular check up, his heartworm medication and his flea and tick treatments.  Failing to keep your dog’s nails at the proper length can cause discomfort, pain and even permanent damage to your dog’s feet, legs and back.

How often should you trim your dog’s nails?

A general rule for trimming your dog’s nails is to do it every four weeks.  Having said that, different dogs have different needs.

Dogs who walk a lot, especially on concrete, will wear down his nails naturally.  It may be months before he needs a trim, whereas dog who spends most of his time in the house or only going out into the back yard will not have the same wear on his nails.  This dog may need his nails cared for more frequently.

How do you know when it’s time to trim your dog’s nails?

One of the best ways to know when it’s time for a doggy manicure is by inspecting the nails when your dog is standing.  The nail should not be touching the ground.  You should be able to see a space between the nail and the floor.

The best ways to know when it’s time for a doggy manicure is by inspecting the length of the nails. These nails are too long and require a trim.

Another clear indication that it’s time for a trim is when you can hear a clicking noise when your dog walks on the floor.  If you can hear them coming because of the tick tick tick on the floor, you should break out the nail clippers, or if you prefer, head off to your groomer.

If you have slippery floors, a dog will lose his grip when his nails are too long.  You will notice him slipping when running on the floor, trying to stop or going around corners.  If you notice your dog is having trouble keeping his balance when walking on any smooth surface, check his nails to be sure they haven’t grown too long.

Always check the front and back nails. Often the back nails will be much shorter than the front. This is because dogs walk by pushing off with their hind legs.  The back feet are subjected to much more wear and tear when the dog pushes forward from the back legs.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

How is it dangerous if you don’t trim your dog’s nails?

If you let your dog’s nails grow too long, the nail begins to touch the floor.  When this happens, the toe is pushed upward and your dog’s step is changed.  This puts pressure on every part of the foot and leg.  The tendons are stretched and the bones are forced into an unnatural position.  When your dog’s step is changed it can cause leg, hip and back pain.  If nails are regularly left too long, the foot, leg and spine can become permanently damaged.

Another way that nail growth can harm your dog is when they get so long that they begin to curl.  A nail left to grow can actually curl under the foot and grow back into the pad of the foot.  Aside from the obvious pain this would cause, the difficulty it would create for your dog to walk and the permanent bone and tendon damage that would develop, the nails can cause serious infections in the foot. Removal at this stage can cause mild to significant bleeding and, if infected, drainage.

You would be best to have your vet remove a nail that has grown into a pad as it may be necessary to stop the bleeding or sterilize the open wound.

Why it’s Imperative that you trim your dog’s dew claws

Dew claws don’t touch the ground, so they can’t cause any damage, right?  Wrong.  Dew claws are very vulnerable.  They are often left out of a nail trim and become curled as described above, but they can also get caught on things when your dog is walking or playing.  If the dew claw gets ripped off or broken, it will cause a lot of pain for your doggo.  There will probably be significant bleeding.  It can become infected, so a trip to the vet for a thorough inspection is strongly advised.

The best way to prevent damage to dew claws is to keep them trimmed short enough that they don’t get caught on anything.

Clipping your dog’s nails

Many dogs do not like having their nails trimmed.  It can become a struggle if you are unable to get them to relax.  If this is the case with your pup, you may want to have the trim done by a groomer or at your vet’s office.

If you decide to trim your dog’s nails on your own, be sure to use proper nail clippers for dogs and NOT HOUSEHOLD SCISSORS!!!

Clipping Light Colored Nails vs. Black nails

Dogs with light colored nails are less difficult to do on your own.  You can clearly see where the white part of the nail ends and the pink part of the quick begins.  If you cut the quick it will be painful for your dog and it will bleed. Always stay on the white area. If you are uncomfortable or your dog is moving too much, find a groomer or a vet to do the job.  They are very experienced and you can avoid an unpleasant situation for our dog.

If you do try it on your own, be sure to have Styptic Powder close by. Should you accidentally cut the edge of the quick, you can apply the powder to stop the bleeding. Your dog will, however, still experience the pain

Black nails are much more difficult.  You cannot see the quick and it is much more difficult to avoid it.  There are nail clippers on the market now that have an LED light that allows you to see the quick.  The vet or a professional groomer may be your better option with black nails, but if you choose to do it yourself you may want to try the LED Clippers.

There is one other tool that will help if you are concerned about cutting the nails too short, or the dog moving quickly and having an accident occur.  It’s called a dremel.  It is a rotating file that grinds the nail down until it’s the length that is best for your dog. It does not hurt the nail or the quick. Your dog may take a few trims to get used to the feeling, but it can really help to reduce the risk of cutting a quick. 

Note:

The more frequently you trim your dog’s nails, the shorter the quick will be.  If your dogs quicks are already long, you can shorten them with frequent trims.  The quick will begin to recede and you will be able to cut your dog’s nails shorter. This will make them easier to maintain and your dog will be comfortable walking.

Why You Should Never Pet A Dog Without Asking

Often people see a dog walking along with his owner and feel it’s alright to just walk up and pet him. Although the dog may be cute and seem really friendly, you may not know how the dog is feeling.

There are many reasons why you should never pet a dog without asking the owner. Often people see a dog walking along with his owner and feel it’s alright to just walk up and pet him.  Although the dog may be cute and seem really friendly, you may not know how the dog is feeling.  Dogs, like any other creature, have feelings and emotions that could impact their reaction to strangers.

Here are some things to consider when you see a dog out for a stroll:

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

You Don’t Know the Dog’s History

Often people see a dog walking with his owner and feel it’s alright to just walk up and pet him.  Although the dog may be cute and seem really friendly, you do not know how the dog is feeling or how he will react.

Many rescue dogs come from very difficult or traumatic backgrounds.  Often, they were abused or left to live in horrible conditions.  Many never fully recover from their experiences.  Although they may be perfectly calm and happy with their new family, there are certain noises, smells, movements or even voice tones that trigger the fear they once felt. 

If you or your child move toward a dog without warning, the dog may react in a defensive manner that looks like aggression.  Usually, they are more afraid than you are, but they will growl, bare their teeth and in some cases, bite to protect themselves.

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although you may be a dog lover that would never consider harming a dog in any way, you may be wearing the same perfume or cologne that someone who once harmed them did.  Your voice may have a very similar tone  or your red jacket may be a reminder of an arm that once hit him. 

A dog owner will often know what can trigger his dog’s fears and will let you know what is best for his dog. 

The Dog May Not Be Feeling Well

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

When dogs are feeling under the weather, they may not be up to having company.  An upset stomach, an ear infection feeling weak or ill in any way can cause a dog to react differently that she normally would.

They may just prefer to be left alone.  A walk is necessary for them to get some fresh air and do their business, but what they really want is to get back home, crawl into their doggy bed and curl up for a nap.

If someone comes toward them, all bouncy and excited to play with the dog, you may get a warning or other negative reaction from him.

Again, this puts everyone in an dangerous position.  A simple, “Is it alright to see your dog?”, could spare everyone, including the dog, a lot of grief.

The Dog May Be On Some Kind Of Medication

Just as with humans, medications can affect your mood, balance, judgement and fatigue and adrenaline levels.  Approaching a dog that is feeling out of sorts could result in a reaction that is very out of character for the dog.

The dog’s owner knows if her dog is taking medication.  She would also be aware of even the most subtle irregularities in her dog’s behavior and would be able to explain why it may be best to wait for another day to visit with him.

The Dog May Be In Training And Needs To Focus

When a dog is in training it is important for the owner to have his full attention.  Every lesson takes concentration and focus.  By randomly walking up and petting someone’s dog, you may be interrupting a training session and setting the dog’s learning back.

It may appear that the dog is just walking along, but it is possible that the owner is trying to maintain a connection while guiding the dog through a distraction or trigger.

By walking up and petting the dog, you will break that connection and the dog loses focus.

She May Be A Service Dog

Service dogs are used for a variety of reasons. Most people immediately think of a guide dog for people with reduced sight or blindness. The fact is that service dogs are used for many purposes. People with physical disabilities, PTSD, and even those who need emotional support commonly have service dogs to help them function on a day to day basis.

A service dog needs to be totally focused on the owner for service purposes.  When someone randomly approaches a service dog to pet her, it could compromise her ability to do her job properly.

The Dog May Be In Physical Pain

A dog who is experiencing some kind of pain may not want to be touched, Many dogs suffer with arthritis.  Others could be dealing with dental pain or recovering from surgery.  These are not visible signs of pain.

If you approach a dog who is in pain, he may be reactive. Although this would only be an attempt to warn you to stay away, it can be scary for both of you.

Get WagWell Box Now

The Owner May Have Difficulty Holding On To The Dog If He Gets Excited or Spooked

If you approach a dog who is easily excited, she may lunge or pull on her leash.  The owner will have to hold the dog back.  Should the owner be physically incapable of comfortably holding the dog, the situation could result in a number of scenarios.

  • Senior citizens, people with physical impairments or someone with a broken limb could be put in a position where they fall, causing injuries.
  • The dog could harm you by jumping up.  A heavy dog lunging at you can be a lot stronger than they appear. 
  • The owner cold lose control of the dog and it could run away.

If you don’t know a dog and you would like to approach him, ask the owner if it is a good idea to pet their dog.  If they say no, don’t feel offended.  Know that by leaving the dog to enjoy his walk, you have helped him and potentially avoided a dangerous situation.

Your safety is as much your responsibility as it is the dog owner’s.

Are Acorns Toxic for Dogs?

If your dog consumes acorns or oak leaves, you may see varying signs of digestive upset. Here are some signs to look for:

I recently read a post on Facebook that said a puppy had been rushed to the vet after ingesting an acorn.  My first reaction was that the dog must have choked on it, but it turns out that the acorn had poisoned the puppy.  I had never heard anything like this so I went on a search to find out if acorns are toxic for dogs.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

 This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

I was surprised to learn that Oak Trees are dangerous to dogs as well as other animals. The leaves and acorns contain a chemical called Quercitannic acid which is a form of tannic acid.  Generally, the amount of leaves or acorns ingested in relation to the size of the dog, determines the amount of damage the toxins will do.

WagWell Box

What happens if my dog eats Acorns or Oak Leaves?

If your dog consumes acorns or oak leaves, you may see varying signs of digestive upset. Here are some signs to look for:

Keeping your dog on a leash in unfamiliar areas will help you to control where and what your dog investigates.  You will see the oak trees or their droppings and you will be able to guide your dog away from any danger.
Keeping your dog on a leash in unfamiliar areas will help you to control where and what your dog investigates.  You will see the oak trees or their droppings and you will be able to guide your dog away from any danger.

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Weakness/Fatigue

Stomach Pain

Gagging

Unexplained drooling

NOTE: SEVERE POISONING COULD RESULT IN KIDNEY DAMAGE, LIVER DAMAGE AND POSSIBLY DEATH

These symptoms will usually occur within a few hours of consumption.  Generally, a larger dog would have to consume a lot more than a small breed or puppy to develop severe symptoms. This is not to say that a large dog won’t develop severe symptoms.  Should a large dog have a weaker digestive system, or an underlying medical condition, the reaction may be more severe than expected. It is important to monitor your dog’s symptoms closely. Should you see any new or worsening symptoms, you should relay this information to your vet immediately.

Can acorns hurt large dogs as well as small dogs?

A Great Dane or a Yorkie that consumes only one acorn, can develop some pretty significant medical issues.  Even of the toxicity is very mild, your dog should be examined by a veterinarian. There are other concerns when it comes to ingesting acorns, beyond the toxicity. 

Choking

If a dog swallows an acorn, it can be a choking hazard.  Should the item become lodged in the throat in can obstruct the airway. If he cannot cough it up, or is not breathing at all you will have to perform the Heimlich Maneuver to remove it.  I have attached a link to Texas A&M University of Veterinary Medicine which describes how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a dog in various positions.  It is important to become familiar with these processes should you ever need to use them.

Texas A&M University of Veterinary Medicine: Heimlich Maneuver

Blockage in the Intestinal Tract

An acorn does not break down easily. Similar to a corn cob or a small toy, the acorn can lodge itself in the intestinal tract. Once this happens, your dog will not be able to properly digest food.  Sometimes it can take months for symptoms of blockage to develop.  Once an object is lodged in the intestinal tract, surgery may be required to remove it. 

How can I keep my dog from eating acorns?

The best form of prevention is to avoid contact with Oak trees while on walks or in your yard.  If you have an Oak tree on your property, it may be a good idea to fence off the area around the tree where leaves or acorns may fall.

Another option would be to put your dog on a lead in the yard that keeps him out of reach of the tree.

The best idea would be to stay in the yard with your dog and observe his activities.  While its good to let your dog sniff, you must make sure you can see everything he is sniffing and ensure he does not pick up any foreign objects.

Training your dog to “Drop it” and “Stop/Stay” will help if you are suddenly in a position where you are around an oak tree.  If you are hiking, you may not know what trees are in the area.  Teach your dog to respond to the stop command before he finds himself in a dangerous area or to drop anything that he has scooped off of the ground will help to avoid swallowing dangerous items.

Keeping your dog on a leash in unfamiliar areas will help you to control where and what your dog investigates. You will see the oak trees or their droppings and you will be able to guide your dog away from any danger.

If you know that your dog has eaten any oak tree products, you should get him to the vet immediately. The veterinarian will advise you of the best course of action. 

Sources:

https://www.banfield.com/pet-healthcare/additional-resources/ask-a-vet/is-it-harmful-for-my-dog-to#:~:text=Is%20it%20harmful%20for%20my%20dog%20to%20eat%20acorns%20that,internal%20damage%2C%20and%20kidney%20disease

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3276711/Acorns-deadly-dogs-vets-warned-Harmless-looking-nuts-make-pets-seriously-ill-kill.html

https://www.vets-now.com/pet-care-advice/acorns-and-dogs/

https://inexpensivetreecare.com/blog/trees-may-toxic-pets/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3276711/Acorns-deadly-dogs-vets-warned-Harmless-looking-nuts-make-pets-seriously-ill-kill.html

https://www.petmd.com/dog/emergency/common-emergencies/e_dg_swallowed_objects

Using Music to Calm an Anxious Dog

Using music to calm an anxious dog has proven to be as as effective as it is for humans. It reduces blood pressure and stress.

Many dogs suffer from anxiety.  Some breeds are more prone to the condition, but many have developed high levels of anxiety or separation anxiety through circumstances in their living conditions. Many rescues have experienced abuse by a previous owner. Others have become fearful of noises or sudden movements through their experiences while living on the street.  Using music to calm an anxious dog has proven to be very effective. 

Using music to calm an anxious dog has proven to be as as effective as it is for humans. It reduces blood pressure and stress.

When I adopted my rescue dog, Zorro, he had spent his very young life in and abusive situation.  When he was only a few months old, he was rescued and sent to stay with a foster mom until a sponsor was found to bring him to Canada. The foster mom spent three months caring for Zorro.  She was an excellent source of information when he was transitioning to his new life in my home. She explained that he did not do well in the crate, so she would use spa music to help him to calm down when she had to leave him.  This information has come in very handy a number of times since we brought him home two years ago.

Be Aware of what Causes Your Dog’s Anxiety

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Although he was a very happy guy, there were some definite signs of anxiety in a number of situations.  Separation anxiety was one of the most difficult challenges for him.  The three people in my home worked on a variety of schedules and, because of this, Zorro was rarely alone for more than an hour or two.

When we would leave him, he would bark and cry. We purchased a Furbo Dog Camera so that we could see what was upsetting him, but there was nothing unusual.  He would face the door and howl or bark, pace the floor and start again.  The Furbo notified us when he was barking.  This allowed us to speak to him from wherever we were.  This helped him a lot, but we wanted to prevent the anxiety as opposed to calming it.  We began leaving the radio on for him and saw a big change in his stress levels.

Music Covers Environmental Noise

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

Zorro, like many other dogs, struggles with sounds from lawn mowers, snow blowers, construction tools and, of course, fireworks. We always leave the radio or TV on for him so he doesn’t feel alone. The “white noise” effect reduces his exposure to outside activity. The music or conversation from the television provide a familiar and soothing distraction.

Music is Not Just a Distraction for Dogs

It has been proven that music reduces stress in humans, and it has the same effect for dogs.  The flow of the music helps to reduce heart rate and blood pressure.  The physical response on the body encourages both mental and physical relaxation.  Your dog’s body will relax, taking down or eliminating the levels of anxiety. 

What Kind of Music is Best to Calm Your Dog

Just like people, your dog may respond to one type of music more than another.  It is a personal preference.  In most cases, classical music is recommended.  The light, flowing consistency of classical music seems to have a more soothing effect than something with a rapid or loud beat.  

We witnessed an immediate reaction to spa music with Zorro. We were on a road trip to the east coast for our family vacation.  Zorro loves the car and has travelled this road before, but something out of the ordinary happened on this trip.  We had been driving, and of course taking brakes, for about 9 hours, when Zorro became very agitated.

We had been listening to music along the way, so we tried turning it off for a few minutes. Our thought was that we were disturbing his sleep.  As it was 3:00 am we thought we may have been disrupting his sleep routine.  He was still unhappy.  We stopped and took him for a walk to stretch his legs and pee, and we offered some food and water.  He seemed fine after about 20 minutes, so we got back into the car.  He immediately began whining and turning around in his spot.

Remembering that his foster mom would use spa music to calm him, my daughter searched her song lists, found some spa music and we put it on for him.  It was like magic.  He stopped whining, turned around three times in his seat, curled up and went to sleep.  It was actually an incredible thing to watch.

Since then, whenever Zorro shows any sign of stress, we pull out the spa playlist or turn on the spa music channel on the TV. This either calms him immediately or significantly reduces his stress levels.

A Musician has Written a Song to Calm Anxious Dogs

A musician by the name of Garrett Charles Nash (Gnash) who rescued a dog with significant anxiety issues, researched the music theory to help his dog.  He found that certain rhythms helped dogs to settle down.  He has written a song called A Song for Daisy to help his dog that has been used in shelters to soothe dogs that suffer with anxiety issues. The song is 15 minutes long and incorporates a simple melody with a lot of repetition.

His work, along with my own experiences with my rescue dog, has proven that music therapy can significantly reduce a dog’s stress and anxiety levels.

Should your dog have difficulty with separation anxiety, noise reactivity or maybe she is always stressed, music therapy may be a good place to start. 

WagWell Box

How to Start Your Own Dog Walking Business

If you truly love dogs and wish to work with them, a dog walking and pet care service is a perfect way to indulge your passion. In addition to a decent income, the job offers the added bonus of an abundance of fresh air and exercise.

Do you want to work with animals? Here are some tips to start your own dog walking business.

If you truly love dogs and wish to work with them, a dog walking and pet care service is a perfect way to indulge your passion.  In addition to a decent income, the job offers the added bonus of an abundance of fresh air and exercise. If you would like to know how to start your own dog walking business from scratch, I have provided a step by step list of things I had to do when I began my journey 2 years ago.  I hope it helps you to achieve your goals and enjoy the freedom that being an entrepreneur offers!

Be Sure You are Ready to Commit to Your Dog Walking Business

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Dog walking is a real business. It is important that you are ready to devote your full attention to your company and your clients.  You are making a commitment to dogs and their families that you will be there at a specific time, regardless of weather or any exciting events that may come up.  You should be willing to work regularly and be prepared enough to adhere to a schedule. 

A dog needs to go out.  Sometimes people are at work for 8-10 hours a day.  If you are not on time, or don’t show up at all, that dog does not get to go out and relieve herself.  Sometimes you may be asked to administer medicine.  If you don’t show up, that poor doggo goes without.  This is why it is extremely important that you take this type of business seriously.  These animals are relying on you to be their break in the day. To them, you are like a family member and they need to be considered every day.

Think of a Catchy Name for your Business

You can choose to call your business anything you want – almost.  You can call Janet’s Dog Walking or Bob’s Pet Care Service, but these are not as memorable as they could be.  Try to think of something animal related, maybe a play on words or including the word “Tail”, “Fur” or “Wag”.  These names will catch a potential client’s attention and be more memorable when they want to look you up.

Do a little snooping around.  Look up businesses that provide similar services to what you want to offer in your area.  Find out the names of some of the more popular ones.  Be sure you are not duplicating or mimicking anyone.  This could cause confusion and possible legal issues.

Make Sure the Name You Choose for Your Business is Available

Once you have chosen your business name, the next step is to register it as a business.  You will have to run a search to be sure that no one else is using that name.  There is a small charge for the business name search, but it is worth it.  You should also check to see if the domain name is available for you website and that the business name (or a strong variation) is available on any social media platforms you would like to use to promote your business.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are commonly used for business promotion.

Register your Business

When you are sure you have access to use this name, you will need to register your business with the government and get your business licence. Make sure to register for all tax numbers required in your area. This is something you should investigate on your government website or, if you prefer, consult an accountant.

Get Some Information About the Competition in Your Area

A little investigating will also give you some insight into what your community expects a quality service to provide.  I have had many customers tell me how pleasantly surprised that my arrival time is within 10 minutes of a scheduled visit.  Apparently, there are walkers out there who are very vague and feel that this is ok.  These are the things that you want to know about your competitors and your perspective clients.  You need to provide a top-notch service.  Knowing what is currently being offered and the average price for the services provided will help you to be more competitive. 

Speak to Dog Walkers in Your Community

When I was starting out, I was asking another dog walker some questions about her business.  I explained that I was not working in her territory so I would be of no threat to her business.  She said, “There are so many dogs out there that there is enough for all of us!” While this is a fact, she was very generous with her information. Her guidance helped me to gain some perspective about my own business.  If you are lucky and you are able to speak directly to someone in your area about their business, you will get a clear idea about local expectations. 

I have found that different communities have different ideas of what a walker should be doing.  Some feel it is a quick walk, wipe the feet and be on your way. Others have higher expectations and may want you to spend time feeding the dogs, cleaning bowls and brushing them, private walks vs. group walks, etc.  It may just be what they have grown accustomed to with a local walker that changes the expectations, but it is important to know what your fellow pet care companies are doing so that you can match or exceed the services already offered within a specific community.

Determine the Pricing Levels for Dog Care in Your Area

You are going to want offer a competitive price point for your services.  Part of your inquiries should include pricing.  How much is the going rate for a 30 minute walk?  How much for a group walk?  How much for a puppy drop in?  is there a discount for two visits in one day?  You can find the answers to these questions by doing a simple internet search on the other dog walking businesses in your community.  Make sure you don’t over charge.  People would prefer to pay a competitive price.  If you are too high, you will not attract business. 

The same can be said for a price that is too low.  Yes, that’s right.  You can actually under price yourself right out of a client!  That old saying, “It’s too good to be true!”, will cause people to move on if they see your extremely low prices.  Others feel that, “you get what you pay for.”, so if you are too low, you may come across as inadequate. Make sure you charge what you are worth in your specific market.

Take a Pet First Aid Course

Knowing what to do in an emergency is important as a pet owner and a pet care provider.  Accidents can happen in an instant.  Injuries and illness can arise when a pet is in your care and it is vital that you know how to handle each situation.  St. John’s offers Pet First Aid course that taught me how to do CPR and First aid on a dog.  They described scenarios that I had never considered.  It was an eye-opening experience for me.  I’m sure there are other companies that provide this training if St. John’s isn’t available.  I highly recommend taking the course.  It provides you and your clients with a level of confidence in your abilities.

Get Business Insurance for Your Pet Care Service

There are many companies that offer small business insurance.  It is important that you find a company that offers insurance for the specific needs of a pet care business.  It should incorporate coverage for accidents or injury to the pets you are caring for as well as the homes and contents of your human clients.  You will be entering many homes every day and you will be responsible for the health and well-being of their family pet.  It is important that you are insured for all unexpected occurrences.

Your vehicle, should you be driving from home to home, should have commercial insurance as opposed to personal coverage.  You are running a business and your vehicle is now a part of that business.  You will likely be on the road more than you were before and it is important that you have the proper coverage.

Create Your Website and Social Media Presence

You will need to find a web host and create a website for your business.  Most web hosts offer a fairly easy to follow set up.  You can choose from a number of style templates and add your business name.  There is a place to add pricing, contact information, special services and pictures.  It is always important to provide quality pictures.  People love to see what you do with the pets in your care.  By showing them pictures of happy pets playing outside, walking through a park or interacting with you or other dogs, they are able to gain some insight into your relationship with animals.  It also is a visual guide to what their pet would be cared for, should they hire you.

Pictures and captions are also great for Social Media. People are visual.  Cute animal pictures will attract people to your site faster than any words. You can gain more of a following by adding hashtags to your social media posts. Including # yourcitypetcareservices or # yourtowndogwalking can offer a way for people in your town to find you should they be looking for a pet care provider.

Interact with Local Pet Related Businesses

Many small businesses on social media will support one another and recommend you if they know that you are a reputable local business.  These are important connections.  Just be sure to reciprocate as small businesses need each other to grow.  One of the nicest things that happened to me in the beginning was when a local pet store did a shout out to my business on their Instagram feed.  They included my website Bio and some of my pet photos, along with a very generous write up.  I was not familiar with their store, but they had been following my IG and felt that my business was worthy of mentioning. Now I always recommend their store to local pet owners.  It’s a great way to make connections and a win/win for both businesses.

Advertising Your Pet Care Business

When you are just starting out you will need to advertise and promote.  Eventually, your repution will be your best advertising and word of mouth your best promotion, but until then you will need to get out there and hustle to get your business going.  I had to start on a very strict budget, so I made flyers using Publisher, printed them off and went all over town placing them on bulletin boards, telephone poles and apartment lobbies (where permitted).  I chose places like veterinary offices, pet stores, grocery stores and laundromats.  These are high traffic, family oriented places where someone who was looking for pet care may look for local businesses.

Register with an Existing Pet Care Service

Another way to get your business started is to join an existing pet care service that allows you to work independently.  I registered with Rover.com and was able to run my business as well as work with them.  They provide leads and connections, but the interviewing, pricing and scheduling is still all up to you.  You simply pay them a percentage for the connections they provide for you.  It may take a while to gain a reputation on your own.  Services like Rover offer you and option to work while you build your own business. Once you are established, you can continue to work with Rover in addition to your regular clients.

Have Business Cards Made for Your Business

When you are walking your dogs out in the parks or down the street, you are bound to have someone ask you for your card.  Carry some with you and give out more than one should someone ask for it.  They will pass one onto their friends. When they pass you name along they can say that they met you and spoke with you.  They will be able to sat that they saw you interacting with your dog(s) and that all seemed well.  People love a personal recommendation.  Be visible.  Be friendly.  Be courteous.  Be prepared. Business cards create plenty of opportunity for word of mouth to spread as your cards to get passed around.

Summary:

Opening a pet care service is a commitment.  Register your business. Create a website and advertise on social media and in person.  You can gain valuable experience while building your business by registering with a pet care service such as Rover.com.  Taking a pet first aid course and obtaining proper insurance coverage is vital when caring for animals.  Learn what other pet care providers are doing in your area.  Provide comparable services at competitive prices.  Mostly, provide prompt, reliable, safe and loving pet care and you will be successful.

Good luck and enjoy your walks!

Interested in working with animals? See: Jobs Working With Animals

What to Ask When Looking for a New Dog Walker

You need to know what to ask when looking for a new dog walker. You must be sure that you can trust the potential walker with the proper care of your pet as well as your home and all access areas such as apartment/condo lobbies, hallways and elevators and underground parking lots. Whoever you choose should love dogs, be responsible, dependable and respectful.

Are you looking for quality pet care? First you have to know where to look for solid candidates. Next, you need to know what to ask when looking for a new dog walker. You must be sure that you can trust the potential walker with the proper care of your pet as well as your home and all access areas such as apartment/condo lobbies, hallways and elevators and underground parking lots.  Whoever you choose should love dogs, be responsible, dependable and respectful. 

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Here is a list of some things you should look for when screening a potential dog walker:

What kind of Training and Experience does the Dog Walker have?

Although there is no formal training needed to be a dog walker, you should find out what kind of background the candidate has with caring for dogs.  Many will have years of experience working for themselves.  Many have worked for other experienced walkers and have been shown some methods of operating and tricks of the trade to ensure that the dogs in their care are safe and having fun.  Knowing that you would be handing over your pet to someone with knowledge and experience will help you to have confidence in their abilities.

Someone who has been working as a dog walker for a prolonged period of time also indicates that this is a permanent position for them.  Someone who is new to the job or only works part time at it may not be in it for the long term. 

Dog walking seems like an easy job, but many people learn quickly that it is physically demanding. Dogs can pull or need help walking.  Some older puppies or dogs need help getting up and down stairs.  It requires someone who is happy being outside in any weather. Many who feel that this is a quick and easy way to make money, don’t factor in the potential downpours, extreme heat waves and blizzards that they will be faced with.  Someone with little experience may give up when faced with these challenges, leaving you without a walker. 

This is not convenient for you, but also creates an unstable situation for your pup.  Just when he gets used to his new friend coming to walk him daily, that friend disappears from his life.  They do feel the loss and can act out of there is too frequent of a turnover.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

Will the same person be coming to walk your dog every day?

Knowing what to ask when looking for a new dog walker can help make your dog’s daily visits safe and happy.

Some dog walking agencies or companies have multiple employees.  The daily schedule for each employee changes with the bookings in various locations and the walkers are sent to different homes.  It is important that your dog has a stable routine and a familiar face coming to the door every day.  Make sure that, with the exception of illness or vacations, the walker coming to your door is the same every day. In the event of the occasional change to the schedule, be sure you are notified in advance.  You should have the opportunity to meet or at least be informed of a new person who will be caring for your doggo as well as gaining access to your home. You wouldn’t want your key or access code to be handed to someone new without your knowledge or consent.

How many dogs your walker will be walking at once?

Many cities have laws restricting the number of dogs that can be walked at one time.  Although the walker you are screening may abide by the legal guidelines, you or your dog may not be comfortable with larger groups.  Some dogs don’t thrive in a pack setting.  This becomes a challenge for all of the dogs and the dog walker.  If you prefer only solo walks, or a maximum of 2 or 3 pups at a time, that is your preference.  Be sure to make it clear in the interview so as not to waste your time or worse, wind up with your dog in an uncomfortable scenario.

How does the dog walker go about pick up and drop off?

I have seen many dog walkers with 5 or 6 dogs in their vehicle. They park in a driveway and leave the dogs unattended while picking up the next dog or dropping one off. There are a few minutes that they are away from the vehicle and in the client’s home. During this time the dogs are left unattended.  I have also seen situations where there were two walkers in the vehicle.  One walker remained in the vehicle while the second entered the client’s home.  The dogs were never left alone.  You need to know which approach is being taken and how comfortable you are with the practice being offered.

Will the dog be walked or taken to the dog park?

Many dog walkers pick up the clients and head off to the dog park.  The allow them to run and play off leash for the 30 minutes or hour and then round them up and bring them home.  There are many dog owners who are happy with this approach. Many are not comfortable with their dogs being off-leash surrounded by a number of unfamiliar dogs in a relatively uncontrolled environment.  Neither is right or wrong, these are just concepts you need to be aware of when selecting a dog walker.  If you prefer parks, walks in your neighborhood or just playtime in your own fenced in yard, you must be clear about your requirements. The walker you choose should be someone who can provide you with the services you desire.

How does the walker handle keys or entry code information?

When you are handing over access to your home, it is imperative that you know how the keys or access codes will be handled.  Security and privacy practices should be followed.

Dog walkers will have many keys and codes to juggle on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of walkers who label their keys or code lists using the client’s address, family name or even the dog’s name.  This can be very dangerous should they lose their keys or drop their list or phone containing the information.  This leaves your home and family vulnerable.  Make sure your walker uses some form of color coding or undecipherable method of labeling this sensitive information.

What type of communication does the walker provide after each walk?

Your dog is going to be spending time with the walker on a regular basis.  You may want to know what your dog is doing while he is away from home.  You may also want to know things like whether or not he peed or pooped.  Did he do well when crossing paths with other dogs?  Was he socializing well with the group?  These are ways an owner can be clear about your dog’s wellness as well as social happiness.  If your dog has not relieved himself by a certain time in the day, you may not stop to get groceries on the way home. Chances are your pup will need to go out sooner than later.

A photo or two to show where your pup was and how he enjoyed his outing is also a nice touch.  Many of my dog parents say that they enjoy receiving a couple of pictures after our walk. Pictures of their dog playing or rolling in the snow became the highlight of their day.

Does the dog walker know Pet CPR and First Aid?

There are a number of places that offer CPR/First Aid courses for pets.  A dog walker who is trained in emergency care would be an asset.  If you have a dog with medical issues, who is a senior or even a puppy who picks up and chews everything in its path, you may want to have someone who is capable of removing an object that is causing your dog to choke.  Someone who can recognize an emergency situation and react accordingly would be beneficial.  You might want someone who is able to administer medication should your dog become ill.

Does your dog walker have insurance?

A dog walking agency or company, will likely have proper insurance coverage.  If you are hiring an individual, they may not.  This is an important question to ask of anyone you are screening.

There are companies that provide insurance specific to dog walkers and pet care providers.  They address everything from pet injury or death (hopefully this will never be needed!) to liability for the pet owner’s home and even lost keys.

A walker who has insurance coverage for their business indicates someone who offers responsible business practices and stability.  Most fly-by-night walkers will not go so far as to invest in a 12-month insurance policy.

Summary

Hiring a dog walker or pet care provider is an important, long-term agreement that should not be taken lightly.  You must ensure that your dog and your home will be left in the best hands possible.  Take your time, have your list of questions ready and make an informed decision.

Your dog will love you for it!