Why it is Important to Properly Dry Your Dog

Enjoying a walk in the rain, a day at the beach, or a good bath should be fun for your dog. Leaving water to fester under the fur or in the ears can turn one day of fun into a long period of discomfort. This can be prevented by taking simple measures to ensure that your dog is properly dried and brushed after being wet.

I recently saw a social media post asking if it was important to dry your dog after a bath, a trip to the beach, or a walk in the rain. Many of the replies said that people were letting their dogs shake it off and air dry. I realized that many dog owners are not aware of why it is important to properly dry your dog. 

Truthfully, I was not sure of the importance of drying your dog until I spent some time working with a groomer. She was very clear that the dogs had to be dried thoroughly, and not just for aesthetic purposes. There can be some pretty significant side effects if your dog is left to dry on their own (air dry).

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. All 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.

Side Effects from Not Properly Drying Your Dog

Ear Infections – If water is not dried out from your dog’s ear, it can mix with the normal bacteria found in the ear. It can fester and result in an ear infection. A dog who has an ear infection will experience pain, itching, and, if untreated, deafness.

Bacterial infection – When water stays on the dog’s skin it can damage the skin. This can cause a bacterial infection on the skin’s surface. Bacterial infections may cause itching, flaking, rash, and loss of fur.

Hot Spots – When a dog’s coat remains wet, bacteria begins to grow on the skin. While the bacteria alone can result in hot spots, licking at itchy skin caused by the bacteria can also cause hot spots to develop. Hot spots are patches on the skin that can be itchy and flakey. They can cause furr to fall out.

Matting – When a dog’s fur is wet, it is prone to matting. Wet fur, when rubbed, can cause the fur to become tangled. Fur in the armpits and groin will rub together naturally with walking, rolling, and playing. Even scratching can cause matting. The matting also causes moisture to be held close to the skin causing any of the above-mentioned conditions.

The two best ways to dry your dog are towel drying and blow drying. Each has to be done properly to be effective.

Best Methods For drying Your Dog

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Towel drying your dog 

Golden Retriever with a green towel on his head.
Always dry your dog thoroughly after a swim,
a bath or a walk in the rain.
Photo by: M. Shea

Towel drying should be done with an absorbent towel. My personal favorite is a microfiber towel because it soaks up the water from the dog’s fur. You can ring out and continue to use it, allowing for more water to be removed. A terry cloth towel is also a good choice. I would recommend using more than one towel if the dog is really wet. The first towel absorbs the bulk of the moisture and the second actually dries the dog.

NOTE: After towel drying a wet dog, it is best to keep her warm. This is especially true if you are caring for a small, fragile dog, a sick dog, or a senior pup. This will help to avoid respiratory issues, pneumonia, and arthritic flare ups. You can do this by wrapping her in a warm dry towel or blanket or by keeping the room very warm for a while after a bath, swim, or walk in wet weather. If you don’t have access to a warm environment, you can hold your dog close to you and use your own body heat to keep her warm. I have been known to use my jacket or sweater to wrap a cold dog in if they are cold or wet.

Make Sure to Dry Your Dog’s Paws

When you are drying your dog, remember to dry his feet, even between the toes and pads. Water can congregate there too.  It’s important to care for your dog’s feet as part of your daily routine.

After each of my dog walks with my clients and my own doggo, I take a minute to dry their paws, legs, and underbelly to be sure they haven’t stepped in any puddles or rolled in wet grass. 

 How to Dry your dog with a blow dryer:

Using a human hair dryer for a dog is NOT recommended. The dryers are made to use on human skin and hair which is very different from a dog’s skin and fur/hair.  

Even when using a dog dryer, it is important that you know how to use it properly. If done incorrectly, you can actually cause the knots and matting you are trying to avoid. These are some of the basic steps you can use to dry your dog.

  1. Dry the dog with a towel to remove the bulk of the moisture.
  2. Do not dry your dog’s face or ears with the dryer. Use the towel and ear drying solution to dry these areas. Make sure that the face is well dried with the towel.
  3. Turn the dryer on and check the air temperature, making sure it is not hot.
  4. Keep the air moving and not aiming in one place as this will cause the dog’s skin to burn.
  5. Make sure you get through to the undercoat. Although the top layer may seem dry, moisture may be hiding in the undercoat.
  6.  Brush the dog’s fur as you dry to avoid knots and matting from developing.

This is only a brief overview of the steps. For a more detailed tutorial for drying your dog safely with a dog blow dryer, see this video by Sandollar Aussies.

Video by: Sandollar Aussie

Summary

Enjoying a walk in the rain, a day at the beach, or a good bath should be fun for your dog. Leaving water to fester under the fur or in the ears can turn one day of fun into a long period of discomfort. This can be prevented by taking simple measures to ensure that your dog is properly dried and brushed after being wet.

Do you need supplies to dry your dog? Here are some of my favorite items to keep on hand:

Ear Drying Solution:

How to Gently Remove Burrs from a Dog’s Fur

It is very common for dogs to come home with burrs stuck to their fur. While it is generally not a cause for concern, burrs can cause some medical issues if ingested or should they scratch the skin or become matted in your dog’s fur. Always check for burrs when doing your tick inspection when you return home from your walk. Remove any burrs immediately to avoid further discomfort for your dog.

When I am out with my dogs I often find burrs on their paws, ears or belly. The dogs may stop and attempt to pull the burrs out with their teeth if they are irritating, or they may not notice and the burrs become ground into the fur as they walk, play and roll. Removing burrs can be difficult, but over the years I have found a way to gently remove burrs from a dog’s fur.

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. All 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 Are Burrs?

Burrs are the flowering portion of a plant called Burdock. Every second year, after the plant flowers it creates burrs. They are small (approximately 1’’) brown balls. They have many prickly spines that have hook-shaped ends. These ends easily grasp onto many fabrics, hair, and fur.

Burdock can be found in countries all over the world. It is commonly found growing in fields, along the edge of paths or roads, or in any treed area. It is a weed that spreads rapidly and can withstand cold weather.   

Other terms for Burrs: Stickers, Briers 

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.

Are Burrs Harmful to My dog?

When a dog rolls in the grass, burrs that are attached to the fur can become ground in.
Photo by: M. Shea

Often, after walking your dog, you will find burrs attached to his fur. While they are usually found around the paws, legs, and ears, they can attach to any part of the body. If your dog rolls in the grass, sniffs under a bush or walks through a field, he might find himself covered in burrs.

Generally, burrs are not cause for concern, but there are situations where burrs can cause harm to your dog.

What happens if my dog eats burrs?

While burrs are not poisonous to your dog, ingesting them can cause lesions in the dog’s mouth and throat. These can be irritated and become infected. Your dog may find it uncomfortable to eat or drink.  

Should he continue to have difficulty eating or drinking, or is showing signs of pain or discomfort, take your dog to a vet immediately. If any burrs have been swallowed they can cause internal issues that may require antibiotics, pain medication, or, in severe cases, surgery to remove the burrs.

How burrs on the face can affect a dog’s vision?

If your dog has burrs on her face, it can be dangerous. If they are stuck close to her eyes, they can scratch the dog’s eyes and cause temporary or permanent damage. 

What happens when a dog steps in burrs?

When burrs are stepped on, they can lodge themselves in the fur between the dog’s toes and pads. This can make walking very difficult as each step causes the burrs to scratch the skin. With each step the burrs are ground further into the fur and do more damage.

How can burrs in the fur harm your dog?

When a dog is covered with burrs, they can become ground into the lower layers of fur or undercoat. This can cause matting in the fur. When matting occurs, it is uncomfortable, even painful to move, sit in certain positions, or sleep. 

If burrs get close to the skin in thinner fur, they can cause scratches when they scrape the skin’s surface. If this goes unnoticed, it can cause infection. 

Once again, see a vet to determine the medical need to tend to or medicate the scratches.

If the burrs are left in the fur, it can cause further issues. They can begin on the surface, but with activity, they can be forced deeper into the fur. Sometimes, in an attempt to remove burrs from their body, your dog may move them from one place to another (ie. behind the ears to the eyes), causing more damage. This is why it is always best to inspect your dog for burrs after a walk. You will avoid any potential issues for your pup. A thorough scan for burrs can be done at the same time as you are checking for ticks.

How Do I Get Burrs out of My Dog’s Fur?

There are many ways to remove burrs from your dog’s fur. The best process to choose may be decided by the severity of the situation.  

Can I Pick Burrs Out of My Dog’s Fur?

If the burrs are still on the surface of the dog’s fur, you may get away with just picking them off of the dog with your fingers. This is usually possible if you discover them immediately after they have latched on. 

Should I Comb or Brush Burrs out of a dog’s fur?

If the burrs have settled down into the fur, it may be difficult to remove them. You can opt to use a brush or a comb, but be careful that you are not hurting your dog in the process. 

Steps to remove burrs from your dog’s fur:

Tools you will need to remove burrs: 

Dual-ended comb – one side wide, one side fine.

Coconut oil or Olive Oil (Both are safe for dogs when used in appropriate doses), or a dog safe detangler

A dog brush

Some healthy dog treats

Make sure you take your time. In this case, the “rip of the band aid” approach is not helpful. 

  1. Apply coconut oil or olive oil or detangler to the fur and burr.
  2. Place your fingers between the bur and the dog’s skin. Hold the fur firmly to prevent pulling the skin.
  3. Use the wide-toothed end of the comb to gently remove the burr. Start with the part that is furthest from the dog and slowly work your way toward the skin. IF YOUR DOG SHOWS ANY SIGNS OF DISCOMFORT, TAKE A BREAK
  4. When the larger part of the burr has been removed, turn the comb over and use the fine-toothed end to remove the remaining smaller bits.
  5. Brush your dog.
  6. Give your doggo a treat!

Best prevention:

While it is almost impossible to avoid burrs, steering clear of areas where you are aware that burrs are growing will reduce the possibility of exposure. Some parks or hiking trails may have fewer burdock plants. Choosing the best location for walking your dog could save him from discomfort. 

If you have burrs on your property and would like to remove them to prevent your dog from frequent burr removal sessions, this article might help: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/how-to-kill-cockleburs-12567376.html

Summary

It is very common for dogs to come home with burrs stuck to their fur. While it is generally not a cause for concern, burrs can cause some medical issues if ingested or should they scratch the skin or become matted in your dog’s fur. Always check for burrs when doing your tick inspection when you return home from your walk. Remove any burrs immediately to avoid further discomfort for your dog.

Signs and Symptoms of a Dog Who Has Heatstroke 

When dogs become overheated it can result in a serious medical problem known as heatstroke.  This condition can come on quickly and result in severe illness or even death. 

When dogs become overheated it can result in a serious medical problem known as heatstroke.  This condition can come on quickly and result in severe illness or even death.  Knowing how to  prevent heatstroke and what the signs and symptoms of a dog who has heatstroke are when you are out with your doggo, can make a walk, a play day, or a day at the beach a great experience for everyone.

German Shepard Laying in the grass in the sun
Dogs playing on the sun should be monitored for signs and symptoms of Heatstroke.
Photo by M. Shea

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. All 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.

Early Warning Signs That Your Dog is Overheating

When a dog is out on a hot day or even in a hot indoor environment, he will begin to show signs of attempting to cool down.  These signs can also appear after exercising or after an intense play session.  The most recognizable visible symptoms are panting and getting a drink, but there are times when the heat is more intense that we expect and your dog may develop more serious symptoms. If you see any of the following symptoms, you must immediately take precautions to cool your dog down: 

  • Panting excessively
  • Drooling/frothing
  • Laying on or searching for cool areas
  • Rapid Heartbeat

Extreme Symptoms of A dog Who is Too Hot

Dogs can overheat in a matter of only a few minutes.  They may seem like they are doing fine while walking or playing, bit suddenly your dog appears to be unwell. If your dog is experiencing any of the visible signs listed below, take her to the vet immediately. 

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargic
  • Stumbling/difficulty walking
  • Seizures
  • Losing consciousness
  • Death 

A dog who is experiencing VISIBLE signs of heatstroke may also have medical issues that are NOT VISIBLE, so a trip to the vet is highly recommended to be sure there are no internal medical repercussions of the overheating or heatstroke.

Video by: NBC Channel 12 News (YouTube)

What Happens if My Dog Gets Heatstroke?

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.

Dogs who develop heatstroke can develop further, more serious, medical issues.  In a severe case it could affect your dog’s kidneys (including kidney failure), brain, heart, and cause significant respiratory issues.  

How Does a Dog’s Body Cool Down Naturally?

Dogs do not have many sweat glands. Their bodies rely on only a few methods to bring their temperature down.  

  • Panting – when dogs pant the water in their mouth evaporates and cools them down.
  • Nose – Dogs sweat through their noses allowing them to release heat 
  • Feet – Dogs have sweat glands in their paws that help them to reduce their body temperature
  • Ears – A dog’s ears contain blood vessels that are close to the surface.  When the blood vessels dilate, it helps to cool the blood running through them.

It’s important to note that these natural methods are not very effective for cooling down quickly. They do not have the capacity to cool down a dog who is overheating and requires immediate temperature reduction.

What to Do If You Think Your Dog is Getting Too Hot:

If you see signs that your dog is getting too hot, there are ways to help her cool down before things get dangerous.  

  • You should bring the dog in or to a cooler place if you see signs of her becoming too hot.  Just a change to a shaded area or into a cool building will provide your dog with relief.
  • Provide plenty of drinking water. Cool water can help your dog to cool down from the inside. Do not force your dog to drink.  She will take water when she is ready.
  • Wet your dog with cool water (not too cold as this could be a shocking contrast)

Take your dog to the vet immediately to be sure there are no hidden side effects of overheating.

Prevention of Heat Stroke in Dogs

It is up to us, as responsible and caring pet owners, to provide a safe environment for our pups.  One of the most important safety concerns for dogs is to make sure they are protected from the elements. It is common for people to dress their dogs warmly in winter or to put booties on to protect their paws from the ice and snow, it is less obvious for us to see how our dogs need to be protected from the elements in the summer. While it is becoming more common for dog parents to check the temperature of the pavement before letting their dogs walk on it, it is also crucial that we take measures to protect our dogs from heatstroke.

Here are some important ways to prevent Heatstroke:

  • DON’T LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A CAR – EVER;  NOT EVEN FOR A FEW MINUTES
  • Keep dog groomed and well brushed to reduce heavy fur
  • Apply Sunscreen specially made for dogs
  • Keep away from concrete on hot days
  • Walk in shaded or cooler arrears
  • Walk early in the morning or later in the evening when it’s cooler
  • Provide shade at the beach (umbrellas, demi tents)
  • Offer a cooling pad for your dog to rest on
  • Make sure your home is at a safe temperature while you are away.
  • Keep dog crates away from windows in any season. The sun coming in through the window may cause a very hot environment that your dog cannot escape from when crated.

NOTE:  There are some dog breeds who are more susceptible to breathing issues when in the heat.  Knowing your dog’s natural limits should be taken into account before spending time outside in warm weather.

Summary

Heatstroke is a serious and dangerous condition.  Taking steps to prevent heat from harming your dog is crucial in all seasons and climates.  There are very simple methods of ensuring your dog’s safety while walking, playing, traveling or on an outing.  According to The Kennel Club, 1 in 7 dogs dogs who are treated for Heatstroke do not survive.  This statistic demonstrates the severity of the condition and the importance of prevention.

Suggested Reading:

Sources:

https://www.memphisveterinaryspecialists.com/site/blog-cordova/2019/11/25/dog-heat-stroke-symptoms-treatment-prevention

https://vcacanada.com/know-your-pet/heat-stroke-in-dogs

What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Dandruff in Dogs

You may see flakes on your dog’s bed, blankets, coat, car seat, harness or on your furniture.  If you discover that your doggo has dandruff, it is important to narrow down the cause so that it can be treated appropriately. 

I was giving my dog Zorro a massage the other day.  His black coat is shiny and smooth, but I noticed that he had many little white flakes all over his back.  At first, I thought it was dust and wondered where he would have been to get covered in dust.  I looked a little closer, brushed back his fur a little and realized that it was coming from his skin.  My dog has dandruff.  I hadn’t seen this before so I set out to learn the causes and symptoms of dandruff in dogs.

Shiny black lab face staring off to the left indicating that the dogs fur is not dull no skin issues are visible.
If your dog’s shiny coat becomes dull, it could be caused by hyperthyroidism resulting in skin irritation. Photo by: M. Shea

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.

Is dandruff a common occurrence for dogs? 

Dandruff is common in dogs.  You may notice it on your dog’s fur, although it is more difficult to see on a lighter colored dog.  You may also see it on your dog’s bed, blankets, coat, car seat, harness or on your furniture.  If you discover that your doggo has dandruff, it is important to narrow down the cause so that it can be treated appropriately. 

What are the potential causes of dandruff in 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. All 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.

  1. Dry Climate
  2. Allergic Reaction
  3. Diet is missing something – Often Omega 3 or Omega 6
  4. Grooming – Too much or too little
  5. Stress
  6. Infection – Fungal and Bacterial
  7. Hypothyroidism
  8. Mange
  9. Seborrhea
  10. Walking Dandruff – Note:  This is very contagious.
Walking Dandruff in Dogs Video by Wag

Because of the wide range of causes, it is important to narrow down the environment(s) that your dog has been in recently. Learning the source will help to find the appropriate treatment.  If your dog is showing any other symptoms, seek the advice of your veterinarian immediately as there may be a more serious underlying cause.  Early detection and diagnosis of any pet ailment or concern is key to having the best chance of recovery without permanent damage.

If the only symptom is dandruff here are some questions to help narrow down the possible sources of your pup’s dandruff:

Has the weather become dryer or has the heat in your home been turned on recently?

Weather changes to dryer conditions or the furnace in your home running can cause your dog’s skin to dry out.  This would cause flaking and itching. Brushing your dog regularly and increasing the humidity in your home by using a humidifier can help to alleviate the symptoms.

Has your dog eaten anything new?

Food allergies are common and can result in itchy, dry, flaky skin. If you have changed your dog’s food, treats or if he has managed to get into the garbage, he could be having an allergic reaction to something he has consumed. Unknown foods can be dangerous for your dog in many ways, so it’s best to be sure nothing dangerous has been consumed. If your dog has always had the same food, he may have developed an allergy. Consult your vet about a change in food that could help ease the symptoms.

Have you changed anything in your home or yard (cleaning products, plants, garden)?

Has your dog been laying on your freshly cleaned carpet or furniture?  Has he been rolling on the lawn after a treatment?  If so, his skin may be irritated.  Even the use of new laundry detergent or fabric softeners on bedding, dog coats or your own clothes can be a skin irritant.

Is your dog’s diet rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6?

These two fatty acids benefit the dog’s skin.  If your dog food is lacking in either or both of these nutrients, he may develop skin irritation resulting in dandruff.  The best source of Omegas is directly from foods, but your vet may recommend a supplement to add to your dog’s daily routine.

How often do your bathe and groom your dog?

If you bathe your dog frequently, you may be accidentally drying his skin.  Shampoos, soaps and hair dryers can take their toll on a dog’s skin leaving it dry and flaky.

Has something changed in his daily routine or in the home?

If your dog is upset, if his little world has been disrupted in any way, he may be stressed.  Something as simple as moving his bed, or location of his dish can cause anxiety for some doggos. If his human’s work routine has changed, a new family member has arrived (human or fur), or if someone in the house is stressed or sick, your dog may be feeling anxious. Stress is a common cause of dandruff.

Does your dog have visible skin irritation?

If your dog has fleas, a recent cut or if he has food allergies, the skin can develop a fungal or a bacterial infection.  Consult a vet if your dog’s skin appears red, crusty, has bald or thinning patches of fur, or of he has an unusual odor.  All are signs of infection. These skin infections can cause dandruff. 

Has your dog’s once smooth, shiny coat become dull and coarse?

These are a couple of the symptoms of hypothyroidism.  Because of this underlying condition, your dog may be itchy and develop sores. He may begin shedding more than usual.  There are many other symptoms of hypothyroidism, including ear infections, fatigue and aversion to cold.  It is important to have this condition diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian immediately.

Does your dog have mites?

Mites can cause many types of skin irritations including itching, hair loss and dandruff.  If you suspect mites, have your dog tested and treated.  Mites can be transmitted to humans and other pets. Some species of mites cause mange, another skin disease found in animals and birds.

Is your dog’s flaky skin is located solely on the face, and torso?

These areas contain sebaceous glands.  If the dandruff that your dog is experiencing is predominantly in these areas, he may have a skin condition cause Seborrhea. The skin will appear red and flaky.  Your dog will also be itchy.  This is another condition where your dog might develop an odor.  Once diagnosed, a veterinarian will be able to recommend shampoos or medication to clear it up.

Summary

There are a number of causes of skin irritation and dandruff in dogs. If you see anything that looks unusual or your dog is scratching excessively, contact your vet as soon as possible. While most dandruff issues are minor, they can cause a lot of discomfort for your doggo. The sooner he is treated, the sooner he feels better.

How are Dogs Stolen or Harmed While on a Walk?

There are a number of dangers that you may encounter when on a walk, but many dog owners or walkers don’t see them coming. It’s important to be familiar with the dangers lurking in public places.

Golden Retriever smiling while on a short leash wearing an orange harness.
Being able to recognize and avoid dangerous scenarios will help to keep your dog with you, healthy and happy, for years to come. Photo by: M. Shea

How are dogs stolen or harmed when on a walk? There are a number of dangers that you may encounter when on a walk, but many dog owners or walkers don’t see them coming. It’s important to be familiar with the dangers lurking in public places. Being able to recognize and avoid these scenarios will help to keep your dog with you, healthy and happy, for years to come.

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. All 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.

Why can’t I trust people I meet on walks with my dog?

You’re out walking your dog, enjoying each other’s company, when you meet up with another person. They say they love dogs and ask if it’s ok to pet your doggo.  This must mean they are safe, right?  What if they have a dog too? They must be dog people, right? Not necessarily.  It’s unfortunate,  but it’s not the best practice for a dog parent to trust everyone you meet on the street.  For that matter, it’s best not to trust anyone with your pet if you don’t know them well.  

If you’re looking for pet care, or a dog walker, make sure to do a thorough background check and keep an eye on how your pet acts after being out with anyone new. Dognapping has always existed, but it is a crime that is increasing drastically over the last couple of years.

Video from CNBC TV via YouTube

How common is dog theft or intentional harming of 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.

Let’s face it, the chances of anyone stealing or doing anything to intentionally harm your dog is slim, but it happens more often than we care to think.  There are stories of dog walkers who steal dogs; groomers, boarding services and even veterinarians who did not provide the type of care you would expect,  or sadly, who have deliberately neglected or physically harmed dogs in their care.  

There are even instances where people pose as dog walkers, come to pick up the dog and they never return with them.  It is critical that you do your research when hiring someone to provide any kind of care for your doggo.  

For more information on hiring a dog walker,  click here:

How can I prevent my dog from being stolen?

Here are some ways to reduce the risk of your dog being stolen.  

  1. Don’t let your dog run loose in public places. Dogs who run loose can be scooped up and taken faster than you can react.  There are professional dognappers out there who are ready to pounce when you least expect it.
  2. Don’t leave your dog alone in a car.  There are many reasons for this, but in this context, breaking a window and grabbing the dog is a very simple maneuver. 
  3. Don’t leave your dog outside alone.  Leaving your outside, day or night, without supervision, makes it easy for thieves to swoop in and take them.
  4. Keep your dog on a leash that is a reasonable length.  When walking with a dog whose leash is very long, people have been known to cut the lead and scoop the dog up quickly.  Between the shock of what is happening and being 12 feet away from your dog, the thief has a significant head start and can easily get away with your pup.
  5. Be vigilant when walking your dog or playing at the dog park.  Don’t ask someone to hold your dog’s leash while you go to the garbage or keep an eye on your dog while you run to the car for a second.  Take your dog with you if you have to walk away for a moment.

How do people harm dogs that are not in their care?

Another way people deliberately harm your dog is to put poisoned food or treats in areas commonly frequented by dogs, like parks, but there are some that even put things on their own lawn to get rid of the dogs.

True story: A neighbour of mine who lives a few blocks down despises dogs.  She watches out of a small window on the side of her house and yells at people with dogs to stay off of her property.   Unfortunately,  she feels that the sidewalk and boulevard which are city owned property are hers as well.  

After harassing many dog walkers in the area, she actually covered an electrical box on city property near her home with garlic so that the dogs would lick it and become sick or die.  

She definitely has some psychological issues that she is dealing with, and I wish her well,  but in the meantime she could have done some serious damage.  

Not all hazards from strangers are intentional. Some are done purely out of kindness, but the person is not aware of the issues that could arise. 

How a kind gesture can result in your dog getting very sick.

One example that often occurs is having people offer your dog treats.  While this might seem harmless, many dogs have food allergies or sensitivities and cannot eat treats made from certain products. Others may be on a very strict diet for serious medical issues like diabetes or kidney problems.

Another innocent example that can cause severe illness for a lot of dogs is public water bowls.  You often see these on people’s lawns on a hot summer day.  This is a sincere and caring thing to do, but sharing water bowls can spread illnesses, such as kennel cough, like wildfire throughout the community. Don’t let your dog drink from the community bowl at the dog park either.  You are better to carry a water bottle to keep your dog hydrated.  

Another concern with shared water bowls is the bacteria that can develop in a dirty dog bowl.  Your dog can develop severe gastrointestinal issues if the bowl is not cleaned regularly. 

For more info about dirty dog food bowls read this:

Nobody wants to think of all the negative things that can happen all of the time, but it is always best to be aware so that you can prevent nasty things from hurting your pup. 

The old saying that, “prevention is the best medicine “, is very accurate.   Keep this in mind when enjoying an outing with your doggo.  It could save you both a lot of grief.

7 Reasons Why You Should Stay Off Your Phone When Walking Your Dog

When you are out with your dog, you must pay attention to everything that he is doing. If you spend your time focusing on your phone, you may miss something that will harm your dog – or worse.

When you are out with your dog, you must pay attention to everything that he is doing. If you spend your time focusing on your phone, you may miss something that will harm your dog – or worse. These are 7 reasons why you should stay off your phone when walking your dog, even if he is on a leash:

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.

You May Not Notice Your Dog Pooping and Fail to Clean it Up

While this may not seem like a serious problem, it could land you in a legal mess. In many places, failing to clean up after your dog can result in fines. An extreme scenario would be where your dog leaves a present on the wrong neighbor’s lawn. You could end up with more than a fine. You could be faced with a formal complaint that, if the neighbor is angry enough, results in having to move or forfeit your pet. 

Your Dog May Lunge At or Chase and Harm Another Dog

If you are not tuned in, you may not see another dog in the vicinity. Even the most well trained and disciplined dog can react to another animal without warning. If your dog becomes aggressive, she can do some serious physical harm to another dog. The result of the fight can be two-fold. First, both animals can be seriously injured. While the physical pain these dogs are suffering is very sad, there could be some very large vet bills incurred. On top of that, if a dog is deemed aggressive or viscous, a judge can rule that she has to be put down.

Another Dog, Coyote or Other Animal Might Approach and Attack Your Dog

Border Collie on a leash with a man and dog approaching on a path in a park.
Photo by: M. Shea

Similar to the previous situation, if you are not focused on what is going on around you, your dog could become a victim to another aggressive dog. Not all dogs are on leashes and not all owners are paying attention to what their pets are doing.

In my area, as well as many others, there is a large coyote population. A smaller dog is very vulnerable to a larger canine. If you are alert, you can remove your dog from harm’s way. Your dog may be severely injured or killed by an attacking dog, coyote, or other wild animal common to your area, if you are on your phone.

Children May Run Toward Your Dog, Causing an Aggressive Reaction

If your head is buried in your phone, you may not notice a nearby child. Although many children are afraid of dogs or taught at an early age not to approach a dog without asking, I have been in many situations where a child or group of children is so excited to see my dog that they run toward him squealing with excitement. This can be very scary for any dog, but a dog who is already timid can become very reactive. If he should bite a child, it could cause serious injuries. In this unfortunate situation, the dog will still be legally blamed for harming the child and you could be ordered to put your dog down as he will be deemed a dangerous animal.

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.

Sniffing Something Dangerous Can Cause Illness

Border Collie sniffing a patch of large green leaves in the park.
Photo by: M. Shea

When your dog’s head is down and sniffing intently on something, you may want to take notice. While letting your dog sniff is important for their mental stimulation, some things can cause illness or pain. If your dog is sniffing another dog’s poop, she could contract a virus or illness that is left in the poop. The same can happen with urine.  

Other surprises are lurking in bushes, flower beds, and grass, including ticks, bees, wasps, and smaller animals like skunks or porcupines. If you are not looking at where your dog’s nose is pointed, it could end up with some painful and harmful results for your pup.

Something Could Get Stuck in Their Paw

It is very common to see someone walking along, surfing on their phone while their doggo is hobbling along on three legs. It is very common for dogs to have painful paw issues while walking. Sharp objects could become lodged in their foot, salt often gets stuck between their toes. Snow or ice buildup between their toes can be very uncomfortable, and a very hot sidewalk is a source of great pain. While you catch up on your social media or answe an email, the source of your dog’s pain goes unnoticed and unaddressed. If the offending item becomes embedded in your dog’s foot, the dog could be in pain for several days before it becomes apparent to you, at which time your dog will require a visit to the vet. 

Walkee Paws, As Seen on Shark Tank

Your Dog Could Eat Something Poisonous

Humans drop things that can make your dog seriously ill or kill them. Sadly, this can be accidental or intentional. There are also things found in nature that are poisonous. If you are distracted by your phone, you are less likely to notice when your dog scoops something up. As a dog walker and a dog owner, I have scooped more things out of dog mouths than you can imagine. The ones that could have been devastating were a big piece of chewed gum that could have contained Xylitol, acorns, a balloon, a chocolate bar, and alcohol-filled vomit. Dogs are very quick to scoop things off of the ground. If I hadn’t been paying attention, these dogs could have become very ill. I have seen many other dangerous things on the ground while walking my doggos, including pills and a bag of drugs. Fortunately, I managed to avoid them.

Vehicle Coming Out of Nowhere

A red car driving on a snow covered road taken from inside another car.
Photo By: M. Shea

When you are walking along a sidewalk, you feel safe from things like traffic. You’re not. Many situations can arise where your dog could be hit by a vehicle if your are not alert and prepared. Cars may be backing out of their driveway in a hurry. Others may not be able to see you in their blind spot.

There are many other scenarios where your pet could be stricken by some type of vehicle. You may be crossing a street where nobody was coming when you first looked but now a car appears out of nowhere. A landscaping or snow removal vehicle that comes around a blind corner could be a disaster. Vehicles that lose control on slippery roads can land up on the sidewalk. While these last few examples are freak accidents, they do happen. Staying alert and aware of your surroundings, gives you a better chance of keeping your dog out of danger.

After reading about these 7 reasons why you should stay off your phone when walking your dog, you should realize that…

Working or playing on your smartphone may seems like a great way to fill time while walking your dog. Truthfully, it is a dangerous distraction. I jokingly say that my phone is an extension of my arm. I run 2 businesses that require my constant attention. While I understand the urge to “just check one thing”, I also understand that doing so can have dire consequences for the dog I am with. I do my best to keep it tucked away until the end of each walk. Once the dog is home and safe, I take a moment to address all of the alerts and updates. I hope you can see why this is an important decision.

Walk safe!

7 Things You Need to Know About Ear Infections in Dogs

Dogs’ ears are one of the most sensitive parts of their bodies. They are also vulnerable to a variety of issues, most commonly, ear infections. All dogs’ ears have an internal shape that allows water, wax, dust, dirt, and any other object that will fit in there to collect and fester. This makes them vulnerable to ear infections.

Dogs’ ears are one of the most sensitive parts of their bodies. They are also vulnerable to a variety of issues, most commonly, ear infections. All dogs’ ears have an internal shape that allows water, wax, dust, dirt, and any other object that will fit in there to collect and fester. This makes them vulnerable to ear infections. Some dogs are more susceptible than others because of the type of ears they have. No matter the breed, size, or age of your dog, being familiar with the signs and symptoms of an ear infection is a good idea. An ear infection that goes unrecognized and therefore untreated, can lead to chronic ear infections and ultimately, permanent hearing issues. Here are 7 things you need to know about ear infections in dogs:

What are the Causes of Ear Infections in 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. All 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.

There are several ways that a dog’s inner ears can become irritated which eventually leads to a painful infection. One of the most common causes is dampness that is not properly dried. When the water remains in the ear, the dampness causes bacteria to grow, and infection sets in.

This initial infection occurs in the outer ear (Otitis Externa) but according to pets.webmd.com, is, 

“usually a secondary development in up to 50% of chronic otitis externa cases.”

While water seems to be the leading source of ear infections, your dog may have many other irritants causing the infection to set in. Other causes to be aware of are:

Ear Mites – small parasites that are found on the surface of the skin in the dog’s ears. Ear mites are contagious to other pets through direct contact.

Yeast – mostly caused by dampness or humidity. Other causes are related to the consumption of grains, sugar and taking antibiotics.

Dust, dirt, and debris – when small particles become trapped in the dog’s ear, it can cause irritation that leads to infection.

Polyps – bumps that grow in the ear. They can be brought on by allergies, or excessive amounts of earwax that causes the ear to become irritated and inflamed. Polyps develop causing a blockage or partial blockage in the ear, making it easy for fluids to become trapped, leading to bacterial or yeast growth.

Ultimately. All dogs are susceptible to contracting ear infections given their surroundings, but they are especially problematic for dogs with floppy ears, including:

Golden Retriever face with ears hanging.
Dogs with floppy ears are prone to ear infections. Photo by: M. Shea

Basset Hounds

Beagles

Cocker Spaniels

Dachshunds

Saint Bernards

Poodles

Afghans

Golden Retrievers

This is because the ear covers the ear canal keeping the area moist, resulting in bacterial or yeast growth.  

Is Grooming Associated With Ear Infections?

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.

There is definitely a connection between grooming your dog and ear infections. Because your dog is being bathed while at a groomer, the likelihood of water becoming trapped in the ear is a distinct possibility. A professional groomer who is properly trained to bathe a dog will watch for this and will address it.  

Cleaning your dog’s ears should be part of the grooming process. While the groomer is removing the excess fur in the ear canal, they will be careful to avoid any debris falling into the ear canal and will gently wipe any wax build-up from the area with a cloth.  

Both of these situations, if not done properly, could result in water or fur entering the canal and a build-up of wax that could block the debris and moisture in.

This is why you should be sure to use a well-trained groomer to care for your dog. It may seem like a simple task, but bathing and grooming your dog requires a skilled professional to avoid issues related to the grooming process.

Can Swimming Cause Ear Infections In Dogs?

Just as with bathing, swimming can cause water to enter the ear canal and become trapped. This is known as Swimmer’s Ear. When your dog is swimming he may put his head underwater. Even if your dog’s head appears to stay above the water line, waves splash up around your dog’s head and can enter the ear canal. If you are spending the day at the beach, water is not the only concern. Sand and debris can easily enter then ear canal and become stuck.

Dogs who are prone to ear infections will be more susceptible to Swimmer’s Ear, but it can occur in any dog after a day at the beach. Cleaning your dog’s ears with a Veterinary approved ear cleaner will help to clear out dirt, sand, or debris and will help to evaporate any remaining fluids left in the ear canal.

The following video demonstrates how to use ear cleaning solutions and supplies safely and effectively when caring for your dog’s ears:

Video from: Forever Home Initiative

What Are The Symptoms of Your Dog’s Ears Being Infected?

When a dog’s ears become irritated, they will begin showing signs of discomfort. Your dog may begin to shake her head repeatedly or scratch at the affected ear. Some dogs may rub their heads along the ground in an effort to ease the itching and burning.  

As the infection progresses, the dog may wince or pull away from you when you touch the ear area. If you look into the ear, you may see red skin inside the ear flap, dark-colored fluid coming from inside the ear canal and there may be a foul odor emanating from the ear.

Inside of a Golder Retriever's ear showing redness and irritation
Ears may become red and irritated.
Photo by: M. Shea

If you see any of these indicators, you should visit the vet immediately to have your dog checked out by a professional.

How Does the Vet Test Your Dog For a Potential Ear Infection?

The vet will inspect the dog’s outer ear, looking for visible signs of infection. Then she will use a tool called an otoscope to look into the ear canal to see if there are any obstructions and to ensure that the eardrum has not been damaged or perforated.  

A sample of the discharge from the ear may be collected to learn the cause of the infection.

What Kind of Medication Will Your Vet Prescribe?

Depending on the type of infection, the vet may prescribe medicated drops, topical cream, or a prescription ear cleanser to treat the infection. Something that has been lodged in the ear canal and is causing the infection, may have to be removed surgically.

What Happens if Your Dog’s Ear Infection Goes Untreated?

Aside from the severe pain your dog will experience, untreated ear infections will cause permanent damage to your dog’s hearing. In severe cases, the damage may result in deafness. Your dog could also experience a permanent loss of balance as ear functionality is directly related to equilibrium. 

Many DIY, home remedies, and natural methods suggested for use in treating ear infections, can cause more harm than good. Some cause skin irritations, others might exacerbate the problem by leaving dampness in the ear canal.

A veterinarian or a professional Naturopath, if you prefer, will provide your dog with the best treatment methods.

Summary

A dog’s ears are complex and sensitive. Caring for your dog’s ears is a vital part of your dog’s wellness routine. It is important to be aware of symptoms of ear pain and discomfort. Seek treatment immediately if your dog appears to be uncomfortable, especially after swimming or bathing. Using veterinary recommended ear cleaners can help to prevent buildup in the ear canal that can cause blockage or bacteria to grow.

Protecting and caring for your dog’s ears will prevent permanent damage that will affect their lifestyle. 

Related post:

What is Dog Dementia? How Do I Know if My Dog Has It?

What is Dementia?

The CDC defines dementia as, “The general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities”

This means that doing day to day things becomes difficult.  You may forget how to tie your shoes or use the remote to change the TV channel. For dogs, this could mean forgetting where the food dish is, or how to play fetch. They may not understand commands that they have been responding to since puppyhood or may act strangely.

Many are surprised that dogs are susceptible to developing dementia or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, but they do and it’s important to know how to identify it so that you can help your dog to feel safe and comfortable.

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.

As with humans, the cause of dementia in dogs is not clear.  Some think that it is caused by plaque build-up in the brain. Others feel it’s a result of a reduced amount of dopamine. Both cause communication between nerves in the brain to be blocked.

How common is it for Dogs to Develop Dementia?

Diagnosing dementia in dogs has become more common in recent years.  As we learn to properly care for our dogs, they are living longer and longer.  Signs of dementia are found in about half of dogs who are more than eleven years old, but symptoms may be discovered in dogs as young as nine.  Almost twenty percent more are diagnosed by the time they are fifteen.

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.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dog Dementia? 

You may not recognize the signs right away as they can be subtle and are often brushed off as other things.

Your dog may occasionally not react when you call his name.  He may not perform a trick or a command. You may notice that he has developed sleep issues or sometimes he may not want to eat. He may not want to play as often as he did before or may become a Velcro dog. Sometimes, in later stages you may find that he seems lost in his own house or yard, maybe unable to find his favorite bed. He may begin jumping up on furniture he was never allowed to be on or having accidents in the house.  You may find that he seems to be agitated or you may find him crying for what seems to be no reason at all.

German Shepherd laying down with her head on her paws looking sad.
Photo by: M. Shea

These symptoms don’t just happen overnight. One unusual situation here and one weird event there. They don’t seem to be connected. Sadly, in many cases we justify all of these symptoms as the actions of a dog being silly, having eaten something that disagrees with him, being rebellious, or just being a cranky old guy.

As the disease progresses and the symptoms become more frequent, it becomes apparent that there is something more going on and the dog is taken to the vet for an examination.

How is Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Diagnosed?

Because there are no specific tests to diagnose dementia, it is basically done by process of elimination.  The vet will run a battery of tests to see if your dog’s urine, blood, or brain show any symptoms of another illness. A dog who is unable to see or hear could seem to be lost or disobedient, therefore a hearing and vision test will be done.  Accidents in the house could be brought on by a urinary tract infection or kidney issues.  Bowel function will be analyzed for the same reason.  

If all of the test results for physical problems are normal, your vet will ask questions pertaining to your dog’s history and current behavior.  The results of the physical and questionnaire will help the vet conclude that your dog has dementia.

Are There Any Medications to Cure or Manage Dog Dementia?

While there is no cure for dementia, there are medications available to manage some of the symptoms.  

Selegiline is a drug used in an attempt to help with cognitive function.  According to VCA animal hospital, “its effectiveness has not been proven.”

To assist with a dog who is agitated, crying, or showing any other symptoms of stress or anxiety, the vet might prescribe medication to help calm your dog.

Can Games or Activities Prevent Dementia in Dogs?

Golden Retriever staring off into the distance while standing in the park.
Photo by: M. Shea

Keeping your dog busy and active keeps his brain sharp.  Similar to exercising his body, making sure your dog’s brain is well exercised will help to maintain its function.  

Here is an article that will provide you with ideas for stimulating your dog’s brain in order to help prevent or slow down the progression of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.

Exercising Your Dog’s Brain

How Can You Help Your Dog to Live Comfortably if He Has Dementia?

Some of the other things you can do to help your dog live more comfortably is to be sure to keep things in his life very familiar.  This includes sticking to a strict routine, so he knows what to expect.  What seems like a minor deviation from your daily routine can wreak havoc on a dog with cognitive issues. 

Your dog’s physical surroundings are a source of familiarity, and therefor provides comfort for a dog who can easily become disoriented.  It is important not to move or change furniture.  Changing houses or traveling with your pup could cause increased stress and emotional strain leading to more confusion and disorientation.  The more things stay the same, the more content and self sufficient your dog will be.

Most of all, be patient.  Living with a dog with dementia is frustrating for everyone, but mostly for your doggo. If you become stressed or impatient, he will sense it. He is the same loyal friend you have loved since puppyhood, and he needs you now more than ever.

Which Dog Breeds Can’t Swim?

When you and your dog plan to spend time near water, it is important to know which dog breeds can’t swim and how to prevent unwanted accidents.

When you and your dog plan to spend time near water, it is important to know which dog breeds can’t swim and how to prevent unwanted accidents.

As a teenager,  I remember swimming with my cousin one Sunday afternoon. My mom, my aunt, and her St. Bernard, Tiny, were sitting on the beach watching us in the water.   My cousin was splashing around when suddenly, Tiny came barreling into the water and headed straight toward us.  With all the activity she thought my cousin was drowning and came out to rescue her.

The water was fairly shallow and my cousin was able to stand up to show Tiny that she was ok.  As soon as she did, Tiny turned and swam back to shore.  It wasn’t long before she was struggling to swim. She was barely keeping her head above the water. Her size and the weight of her coat were pulling her down and we were worried about her drowning. We each walked alongside her and helped her to shore. 

Until that day, I thought all dogs could swim. It turns out there are many dogs that either can’t swim at all or shouldn’t be in deep water for any length of time due to their body shape, size, or amount of fur. The following is a list of some of the dogs that should avoid the water and some reasons why it might be unsafe for them.

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.

Some Dog Breeds Who Struggle to Swim or Play in Water

Any dog who has a flat face, also known as brachycephalic, will have a high risk of drowning as water will easily enter their mouths and nose.  Most dogs with flat faces contend with a variety of breathing issues at the best of times.  These issues would be exacerbated  if water should be inhaled and they would struggle to stay afloat. These breeds include:

English bulldogs

French bulldogs

Boxers

Pugs

Pekingese

Body structure comes into play when trying to swim. Some dogs with short legs and long or round bodies will find it difficult to swim. Their short legs make it difficult to wade through the water, resulting in the dog becoming tired and unable to continue to stay afloat. The following dogs fall into this category:

Dark brown French Bulldog panting with his ears up.
Photo by: M. Shea

English Bulldogs

French Bulldogs

Corgis

Daschund

Basset Hound

Scottish Terriers

Bull Terrier 

You will notice that the English and French Bulldog fall into both of the categories listed above, making it clear that they should not be around water without strict supervision and safety gear in place.

Any large dog with a heavy coat will likely be in danger when the coat becomes saturated.  Similar to the situation I witnessed with Tiny, they will quickly find that the weight of the coat when full of water makes it difficult to stay afloat. Here are a couple of breeds who would find swimming to be a challenge:

Cane Corso

Chow Chow

Saint Bernard

Note: small dogs with heavy coats can have the same issues as the weight of their coat is heavy relative to their size.

Some dogs who have multiple issues, including body structure,  flat face, and are fragile when it comes to temperature.  Any cold water or cold air when they come out could result in illness. It’s best for these breeds to hang out on the beach with a bowl of fresh water,  under an umbrella:

Maltese

Shitzu

When swimming in cold water, a dog’s body temperature needs to adjust to the change in temperature.  For some breeds with shorter or thinner fur, or who are very thin, this does not happen as easily, leaving them unable to stay afloat. Some breeds who have difficulties with regulating body temperature are:

Greyhounds

Whippets

Dobermans

Boxers

Additional Circumstances that can Affect a Dog’s Ability to Swim.

Another thing to remember is grooming and the length of fur. Many dogs have fur that, when wet, will cover their eyes. This makes it difficult to see and maneuver their way to safety.

A dog’s age can affect their physical condition and change their ability to function on land as well as in the water.  You should never assume that because your dog was fine swimming in the lake at the cottage last year, that the same will apply this year.

Sunset along a treelined a lake.
Photo by: M Shea

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.

Do Dogs Instinctively Swim?

No,  Not all dogs can be thrown into the water only to have their natural instincts kick in allowing them to swim back to safety.

If your dog is not familiar with water, there may be a learning curve.  While some are natural swimmers, others need to practice getting in and out, swimming, and generally feeling at ease when playing in or near the water.

This is not a complete list of dogs that have trouble swimming or playing in the water.

There are so many breeds and so many mixed breeds that it would be almost impossible to list every one who would be at risk in the water.

Even if your dog is not on the list, it is always advisable to check with your vet before taking your dog for a swim, boating, or to the beach or pool.  Your dog may also have specific medical issues that would make it better for them to stay dry. Dogs who are prone to skin issues or ear infections might also want to opt out of the pool party.

Best Practices for Keeping Dogs Safe From Water Accidents

It is always the best practice when your dog is near water, be it on the beach, poolside, or in a boat, to have them wearing a floatation device. There are life jackets that are designed to fit your dog’s specific breed, keeping them safe around water.  Lifejackets for dogs are not one-size-fits-all. It is important to find the right fit for your dog’s shape and size.

Even dogs who are avid swimmers should not be left around water unattended. It is important to keep dogs safely in sight while around lakes, oceans, rivers, or streams. Pools should be safely fenced off from where your dog plays in the yard. When boating, every dog should be wearing a life jacket. Even the strongest swimmers can suffer some form of injury in a boating accident or a fall from the boat that will prevent them from swimming to safety, even when docked.

Should your dog fall into the water, be sure to pull them out quickly and dry them thoroughly to avoid other medical issues. If you are concerned that they may have swallowed salt water,  been injured in the fall, or from the water itself, you should have them checked immediately by a vet to be sure all is well.

Summary and Further Reading

Knowing which dog breeds can’t swim is important, but there are many things to consider when you take your dog to the beach.  This article will give you some ideas about how to enjoy a day at the beach with your dog.

https://www.wikihow.com/Choose-the-Right-Life-Jacket-for-Your-Dog#:~:text=You%20want%20the%20vest%20to,body%20at%20the%20neck%20opening.

Play safe.

Should You Sleep with Your Dog?

Sleeping with your dog can offer a sense of security. Knowing that your dog will alert you to any noises or dangers allows you to sleep deeper. Because you are not on high alert you are able to relax, providing better sleep quality. 

I remember my aunt crawling into bed every night followed by a German Shepherd named Silver, a Golden Lab named Custo, and a little mutt named Tidbit. I was always jealous of the way they loved her and wanted to be with her. She would work long days and arrive home late in the evening. From the moment she arrived until she left for work again the next morning, these pups were glued to her. There were many other family members home throughout the day, but their bond with her was special. 

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.

It never crossed my mind that having her dogs in her bed might be considered poor pet parenting or bad for her health. It wasn’t until I was an adult and had my own dog that I started hearing mixed ideas of the benefits and dangers of sleeping with your dog.

How a Dog Can Make You Feel Safe

The face of Princess, a German Shepherd, looking at the camera while laying on the floor.
A dog may prefer not to sleep in your bed. (Photo: M. Shea)

When I inherited my first dog, a German Shepherd named Princess, I was living alone with my two daughters. She was my father’s dog until he passed away. Thankfully, he had trained her very well and she was an excellent guard dog. I knew the basics of caring for a dog but had only owned cats until she came to stay. Although I had never felt vulnerable or been afraid in my home, as soon as Princess moved in, I felt an immediate sense of security. I felt safer when my teenage daughters were alone in the house while I was at work, and I slept a little deeper knowing that she would alert us and protect us from anything without hesitation. 

Princess never slept in my bed. She was welcome to, but she disliked the stairs and opted not to come upstairs to the bedroom. She had her own armchair that she would curl up in at bedtime and as soon as we came downstairs in the morning, she would wag her tail and jump up to greet us. I always felt guilty and occasionally I would sleep on the pullout couch to be close to her. Sometimes she would crawl in beside me, and other times she would return to her chair beside the pullout and sleep in her place. I took this as a sign that she was happy with her sleeping arrangements.

Different Dogs have Different Preferences

Years later, after she passed away, I adopted Zorro, a rescue dog who was only 9 months old. He had been living with his foster mom who had trained him well and he was very well-loved. She told me that he did not like being crated. She had tried but he would cry and shake in fear. I decided that I would never even try to use a crate with him. We got him a nice bed for the floor, and he was offered the option of crawling in with me. He has slept in my bed for almost five years and rarely leaves the bed at night. He has his side, I have mine, and the cat has adopted the bottom corner. I am beginning to understand how my aunt felt and it’s pretty good!

The face of Zorro, a black Labrador Retriever staring off into the distance while in bed.
Some dogs are more comfortable curling up in your bed. (Photo: M. Shea)

Still, I read and hear rumblings of why this may not be a good idea, so I decided to look into it in more detail. It turns out, there are pros and cons for both the human and the doggo. 

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.

The Benefits for Humans

As I felt with Princess in the house, sleeping with your dog can offer a sense of security. Knowing that your dog will alert you to any noises or dangers allows you to sleep deeper. Because you are not on high alert you are able to relax, providing better sleep quality. 

The benefits of proper sleep include improved mental health, improved physical health, weight loss or maintenance, and improved memory. 

Why Sleeping With Your Dog Might Not Be Good For You

There are times when sleeping with your dog can be detrimental to your health as well. As long as you are getting a good night’s sleep, then all is well. However, if your dog is causing your sleep to be disturbed, you may be putting yourself in an unhealthy situation.

Some dogs move a lot throughout the night. They may be trying to get comfortable; they may be hot (or cold) and looking for a position that provides the right temperature. If they stretch out and start taking over the bed, you will not have enough space and it could cause you to lose sleep simply because you are unable to find a comfortable position. They may also be really light sleepers which is great for your protection but can make them a little restless. This constant movement may disturb your sleep.

How Does Your Dog Benefit from Sleeping with You?

Dogs are instinctively pack animals. They travel in packs and sleep curled up close to one another. It’s often said that the human becomes their dog’s Alpha Dog. This means that your dog considers you their pack leader. It is a natural response for your dog to want to sleep close to their leader, so being in your bed offers them the same type of comfort they would experience in the wild. This closeness also allows for your dog to bond with you, and you can further develop a level of trust between you and your pup.

In Some Cases, it’s Best if Your Dog Doesn’t Sleep in Your Bed

While you may think it’s a great idea, curling up with you for the night may not be in the best interests of your dog. Sometimes, there are medical reasons that cause your dog to be uncomfortable in your bed. A dog who has arthritis may be uncomfortable on a soft bed, but worse, the pain from arthritis may be excruciating if you roll over on a paw in the night. It also may be difficult to jump onto or down from the bed if your dog has sore joints. Offering a ramp or visiting the vet or dog chiropractor could help to ease these discomforts, but it may be best to place a nice bed on the floor, at least until they are feeling better. You can place their bed close to yours, so your dog feels as though they are still laying with you.

Pain is not the only reason you may want to avoid having your dog in your bed. Your dog may just not enjoy being there. Some dogs are too hot. Some are too big and some just prefer the cozy feeling of their crate when they sleep. Take the cue from your pet and let them decide what is best for them

How Do You Decide What is Best for You?

You know yourself and your dog best. Between the two of you (or more of you are anything like my aunt) you can decide what provides you all with your best sleep. There is no right or wrong. While I couldn’t get Princess to sleep with me, I understood and respected that it was best for her. I can’t get Zorro to leave my side and I wouldn’t have it any other way.