What to Do When Dogs Fear Face Masks

When dogs fear face masks it can be traumatizing just to go for their daily walks.

As the world changes and people begin to come out of isolation, we will be changing many of our daily habits and routines.  One of the most common new things is that many will be wearing face masks to protect themselves and others.  While we are learning to adapt and communicate with our faces covered, our dogs may be very confused by the inability to see facial expressions.  Dogs may be stressed when they see people sporting their new fashion masks.  So, what do we do?  When dogs fear face masks it can be very traumatic when passing someone on the street or when her owner walks in the door looking like Darth Vader.  I found a few hints and tips to help your doggo adapt and to feel comfortable with this new reality.

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.

Tip #1:  Make masks a common household item.

If you have a few masks (or even just one), you can leave them around the house in plain sight.  Placing them in areas that are familiar to your dog including her sleeping area, hanging from a chair in the kitchen or dining room, on the hook where you hang your keys or even wrapped around her treat bag.  By placing the masks where your dog can see them, they become routine, day to day items.  This will offer some familiarity and reduce the element of surprise.

Tip #2:  Let him sniff the mask.

If you hold the mask and let him sniff it, he can see that it is just another object and not something to be guarded against or feared.  Becoming acquainted with the unknown can ease stress.

Tip #3:  Put your mask on in front of your dog.

If you put your mask on in one room and then walk into the room where your dog is, he may be shocked or outright scared.  Remove the element of surprise by putting the mask on while your dog watches.  She will see the transition from the real you to the masked you and the transition will be smoother.  By seeing that it’s you “getting dressed” the level of fear will be reduced.

Tip #4:  Wear your mask around the house.

Now that your dog has watched you put the mask on, try wearing it around the house.  Wear it while you play a game of fetch. Enjoy a brief training session or a belly rub with your mask on. By doing this she will make the correlation that masks are for good times.  Just wearing it around the house while going about your day, will make the mask common place.

Tip #5:  Use treats to associate a potentially scary thing with a positive thing.

If you give your dog a treat when you hold the mask, when you put it on or when you are wearing it, he will associate the mask with good things.  When you are walking your dog and he sees other humans with their masks on, have some treats ready before you cross paths. As you and your pup approach people you can give your dog a small treat before the shock or fear of seeing the masked people occurs.

Note:  Dogs will not be able to read facial expressions through the mask.  They will only see eyes.  Using soft praise, gentle tones and attempt to make your eyes speak rather than your smile. It will help you to communicate with your pup in a new way.

When dogs fear face masks you can help by having a small treat ready on your walks. You can give him one before approaching masked people.

Not all dogs will be afraid.  Some won’t even be fazed by the change.  Those that are nervous, new to your household and adapting, coming from bad situations or who are just generally skittish will need some extra time to get used to the changes going on around them. When dogs fear face masks it can be traumatizing just to go for their daily walks. By using the ideas listed above, you can help to make this transition a pleasant one.

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.

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My Dog has Dandruff

There are several possible causes and symptoms of dandruff in dogs. If you see flakes on your pup or on any surface where he has been resting, be sure to look for further symptoms. Contact your vet and have your dog properly inspected to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

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.

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.

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?
 There are many causes and symptoms of dandruff in dogs, They range from environmental to more serious underlying medical issues.
There are several possible causes and symptoms of dandruff in dogs. They range from environmental to more serious underlying medical issues..

Dry Climate

Allergic Reaction

Diet is missing something – Often Omega 3 or Omega 6

Grooming – Too much or too little

Stress

Infection – Fungal and Bacterial

Hypothyroidism

Mange

Seborrhea

Because of the wide range of symptoms and causes of dandruff in dogs, 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.

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 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.

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

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 a 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.  He 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.  Some species of mites can be transmitted to humans and other pets. Some species of mites result in mange, another skin disease found in animals and birds.

Is your dog’s flaky skin located mainly 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 called 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.

There are several possible causes and symptoms of dandruff in dogs.  If you see flakes on your pup or on any surface where he has been resting, be sure to look for further symptoms.  Contact your vet and have your dog properly inspected to rule out any underlying medical conditions.  Have a list prepared for the veterinarian.  The list should include all foods and treats that he has consumed, any recent changes in the home, any contact with other animals, bathing routines, soaps, shampoos, cleansers and detergents used in the home, and anything unusual behavior that you may have noticed recently. Any insight into the cause will assist with the diagnosis.

Sources

https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/healthcare/dog-dandruff-facts-and-prevention

https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2018/02/14/dog-dandruff.aspx

https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/ss/slideshow-skin-problems-in-dogs

https://www.petcarerx.com/article/the-causes-of-dog-and-cat-dandruff/650

https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/coconut-oil-dogs-understanding-benefits-and-risks

https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/skin/c_multi_pyoderma

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321379

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Xylitol: The Danger for Dogs

Xylitol poses significant danger for dogs. It does not take a lot of it to make your dog sick, and when it is consumed, is does not take long before symptoms occur.

Xylitol poses significant danger for dogs.  It does not take a lot of it to make your dog sick. When it is consumed, it does not take long before symptoms occur.  Because it is found in many everyday products you may not even be aware that your dog has ingested it.

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 did some research to learn more about what Xylitol is, where it comes from, how it is used in our foods and other household products and how it will affect our pups should they swallow any.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and is used as a sugar substitute in many foods.  It looks like regular sugar but has significantly fewer calories. It is derived from various fruits and vegetables and is also found in certain types of wood.

There are several natural sources of Xylitol including:
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Oats
  • Corn on the cob
  • Birchwood

Because Xylitol has a lower caloric content than sugar it is used in the production of many calorie reduced foods.  It is a source of sweetener for a diabetic diet or a calorie reduced weight loss plan. It can also be found in medications and oral care products.  Xylitol has even been identified as an effective agent against oral bacteria. This results in reduced cavities and is thought to lower the incidents of tooth decay.

Xylitol can be found in the following common household items:
  • Chewing Gum
  • Mints
  • Sugar Free or Calorie Reduced Candies
  • Peanut Butter
  • Jams
  • Honey
  • Syrup
  • Fruit Drinks
  • Sugar Free Gelatine
  • Sugar Free Pudding
  • Toothpaste
  • Oral Care Rinses
  • Nasal Spray
  • Cough Syrup
  • Cough Drops
  • Vitamins
  • Prescription Medications
  • Formulas Used in Feeding Tubes

All these potential sources are found in the average household’s pantries and cabinets. Because of this it is important to be sure you are keeping them all away from your dog.  A dog consuming just a little can be extremely harmful. If you suspect that your dog has come into contact with something containing Xylitol get him to the vet immediately. 

When you are not in the house it’s important to remember that people toss chewing gum on the ground. It is not uncommon to spill mints or candies when sharing them among friends.  Garbage cans get blown around and the contents are scattered over parks, trails, sidewalks and lawns.  I see this daily when dog walking, in all neighborhoods. Dogs are quick to pick things up.  You may not even see it happen. It can take less than an hour and up to half a day to begin seeing the effects of Xylitol poisoning. 

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.

If you see any of the following symptoms contact your veterinarian immediately. Your dog may have ingested something you are unaware of.

Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning in Dogs:
Foods and gum containing Xylitol can be found on the ground during walks. Be sure to watch what your dog is sniffing.
  • Lethargic
  • Lack of Coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Liver Failure
  • Coma
Is there a Cure?

If you can reach your veterinarian quickly, they may be able to offer an IV drip that will help to restore your dog’s glucose levels. Extensive liver damage may result in death.

Because of the severity and the rapid deterioration that occurs with Xylitol poisoning, the best method of protecting your dog is prevention.   Here are some things to consider:

  • Keep all foods and oral products in cabinets above the dog’s reach.
  • Do not give your dog table scraps or leftovers. Xylitol is an ingredient in many foods.
  • Provide only treats prepared specially for dogs.
  • Do not let children eat unsupervised around your dog.  Food that is dropped may go unnoticed. Children may just want to give their furry friend a treat.
  • Keep backpacks, purses, jackets, suitcases or bags containing gum, mints, candies, drinks etc. zipped up and out of reach.
  • Keep a close eye on what your dog is sniffing when on a walk.  Even though it is important to let your dog sniff, it is equally important to keep their noses where you can see them.
  • Keep garbage cans covered securely, inside the home and out.

The best defense is a good offense.  Taking steps to avoid an issue is always safer.

Sources:

https://www.vets-now.com/pet-care-advice/dangers-of-xylitol-for-dogs/

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-996/xylitol

https://ca.iherb.com/pr/xlear-inc-xclear-xylitol-saline-nasal-spray-fast-relief-1-5-fl-oz-45-ml/7047?gclid=EAIaIQobChMInu6dtdv66AIVBK7ICh1hVAzyEAAYAiAAEgIxVfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/xylitol-101#dental-health

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Canine Coronavirus

Canine Coronavirus is an intestinal disease and cannot be transmitted to humans. COVID-19 is a respiratory condition. To date there have been no documented cases of dog-to- human transmission.

We are all aware of the term Coronavirus, and there are many stories floating around about whether or not dogs can transmit coronavirus (Covid-19) to humans.  These stories are confusing and creating unnecessary fear.  The term Coronavirus is a large group of diseases that encompasses hundreds of different viruses of varying intensities, including the most recent strain COVID-19. Other familiar strains include SARS, MERS and even Canine Coronavirus.

I am not a veterinarian nor 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.

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.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post called Let Your Dog Sniff – Pros vs. Cons.  When I was researching the post, I found a description of what illnesses can be found in dog feces and why you should be careful of what your dog is sniffing.  One of the things I learned was that coronavirus can be found in dog poop.  At the time, the term meant little to me, but in light of the recent pandemic, I was curious.

“COVID-19 cannot be transmitted between dogs and humans.”

Update April 5th, 2020:

There has been an incident of COVID -19 found in a Tiger at the Bronx Zoo, reportedly transmitted from a zoo worker to the animal. This indicates some possibility of transmission between humans and animals. If you are showing signs of COVID-19, or have been diagnosed positive for the virus, it is best to avoid contact with your pet. It’s best not to sleep with, cough or sneeze around, or touch your pet with your bare hands. If you are healthy and out walking your dog while practicing safe distancing, it would be best not to allow others to pet your dog. The likelihood that the virus will survive on a dog’s fur for any length of time is very slim, but better to be on the safe side.

I have read many articles, posts and even memes recently, stating that the World Health Organization has determined that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted by dogs.  This news was comforting on many levels.  Firstly, mass panic in some countries was causing people to abandon their pets (or worse) for fear of having them transmit the deadly virus.  This news update put minds at ease and saved the lives of many animals. Being a dog walker exposes me to many dogs in parks and on walks. Also, I am working with many animals whose family members may or may not be at risk. Admittedly, this news from the WHO brought me a small bit of comfort.

Still puzzled by the information I had previously found regarding coronavirus in dog poop, I decided that I needed to clarify all the confusing information.  I discovered that there is a Canine Coronavirus which is specific to dogs and cannot be transmitted to humans.

What is Canine Coronavirus?
A dog sniffing or ingesting infected poop can contract Canine Coronavirus.
A dog sniffing or ingesting infected poop can contract Canine Coronavirus.

Canine Coronavirus is an intestinal disease that is transmitted from one dog to another through contact with fecal matter (poop).  A dog sniffing and/or ingesting infected poop can contract and spread the virus to other dogs.  It is not an airborne disease, but tends to spread in places where large groups of dogs gather.  It can be transmitted through direct contact with contaminated dogs as well as through sharing contaminated food dishes. In dog parks where many dogs poop, there are traces of fecal matter everywhere.  When your dog steps in it and then licks his paws, he is ingesting these traces.   

Symptoms of Canine Coronavirus:

Adult dogs may demonstrate a few minor symptoms or none at all when infected with the virus.  These only last a few days and include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Reduced food consumption
  • Rarely they will develop a fever

In puppies the disease can be significantly more serious. Because secondary infections can develop in respiratory system, the puppy can become septic if left untreated.  It is important that you take your puppy to the vet at the first sign of any unusual symptoms.  Antibiotics can be prescribed to clear up the respiratory and other secondary infections.

Incubation Period and Prevention of Canine Coronavirus?

A dog can carry the virus for up to 6 months from the time of contact.  Your dog can unknowingly transmit the virus during this period. As he may not show any signs of illness, it is imperative that you clean up after your pup. Always be aware of what he is exposed to while sniffing around on walks. You should refrain from allowing your dog to eat from group food bowls.  Many people who are trying to be generous will offer food bowls in dog parks. Group doggy daycare environments may leave a large bowl of kibble out for all dogs in their care.  These practices can cause the spread of Canine Coronavirus. 

Summary

Canine Coronavirus is an intestinal disease and cannot be transmitted to humans.  COVID-19 is a respiratory condition. To date there have been no documented cases of dog-to-human transmission.

As always, you should be aware of any change in your doggo’s behavior, sleep patterns, eating habits or changes in fecal matter; including frequency, consistency, color and odor.  Behavior, appetite and poop are the strongest indicators of your dog’s health. Any changes in these areas should be monitored, evaluated and assessed by a veterinarian as soon as symptoms develop.

Wash your paws and play Safe!

Sources
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Let Your Dog Sniff – Pros vs. Cons

The time that a dog spends sniffing and processing the information that he gathers provides a form of mental exercise.

A doggo’s sniffer is his strongest sense.  Scent is how he recognizes people and other animals. It is how he keeps himself mentally stimulated and it is how he finds his way home if he’s lost.  Sniffing can even tell him if his human is sick. A dog’s sense of smell is more that 40 times more powerful than a human’s, and this allows him to learn and retain details about everything around him. Letting your dog sniff has many benefits.

When a dog sniffs he is gathering and processing information, providing mental stimulation.

When you are walking your dog, it is tempting to rush him along when he tries to stop and sniff every single tree, bush, fence or lamppost. It may not always be possible to stop at every “good sniff”, but if you are able to, your dog will benefit greatly from your patience.

When a dog sniffs the right spot, he can learn about the animals or people that have preceded him.  The time that he spends processing the information that his nose has gathered provides a form of mental exercise.  It acts like a puzzle that the dog must put together and retain. Because dogs don’t have a lot of things to exercise their brains in the house, this is a vital part of his daily activity while they are out. This mental stimulation is one of the most significant benefits of letting your dog sniff.

If they are confronted with another dog, they can learn everything about that dog through a few moments of sniffing.  They can determine the gender of the other dog, where that dog has been, the humans or dogs that this new friend has met.  He can even determine the other dog’s emotional state.

What are the cons?

Having said all of this, there are a few things to be concerned about when your dog is out sniffing the neighborhood.  If your doggo finds poop that has been left behind by another dog, there can be some dangers lurking in that little pile.  Poop from a sick dog can contain worms and bacteria, including E. coli and Canine Coronavirus.

I remember my German Shepherd becoming ill. She was vomiting and had severe diarrhea.  When I took her to the vet, she was diagnosed with a bacterial infection (gastroenteritis) that was treatable with antibiotics.  When I asked where she would have contracted this, and the vet said it probably came from something she sniffed along a walk.  After that I was very cautious.  I am still very aware of what my own dog and all of my clients are getting their noses into. 

What have I learned?

Nothing is 100% safe, but the benefits that your pup will gain from those short sniff sessions far outweigh the possible negatives.  The likelihood of your dog getting sick is very slim, especially if you are vigilant about watching them. 

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Pet Proofing Your Home at Christmas

We all want that perfect Christmas, filled with decorations, food, friends, family and, of course, fur babies. To make it perfect, it is important to pet proof your home. You may be surprised at the number of potential hazards lurking among all of those beautiful, cozy and yummy items traditionally found throughout the season.

We all want that perfect Christmas, filled with decorations, food, friends, family and, of course, fur babies. To make it perfect, it is important to pet proof your home. You may be surprised at the number of potential hazards lurking among all of those beautiful, cozy and yummy items traditionally found throughout the season.

Decorations

When you are setting up the tree, keep in mind the kinds of decorations you are using. Glass trinkets, edible baubles, shimmering tinsel and strings of lights can be dangerous when your pets decide to play. Pups and kitties are curious at any age. Placing a tree full of shiny objects in the living room, will certainly pique the interest of most animals.

Glass trinkets and lights can fall and break, leaving your pet’s paws vulnerable to painful cuts. It’s best to place the unbreakable ones where the animals can reach, and the more delicate ones closer to the top. I usually tie these ones on a little tighter, either by using string or by winding the wire hooks around the branch to help support them should the tree be climbed or shaken by a wagging tail.

There are many decorations made of chocolate or candy, that can cause serios harm. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and many candies contain Xylitol, which is also highly toxic.

Tinsel glistening as the light bounces off of it looks like great fun to jump up and play with for a kitty. Unfortunately, if it is ingested by dogs or cats, it can get caught in the intestines, resulting in a blockage that could require surgery. I gave up the tinsel many years ago when my kitten got it wrapped around her neck. The more she tried to get out of it the tighter it seemed to get. I had to use scissors to remove it. I’m just grateful I was home to help her.

The Christmas Tree

The tree should be on a wide sturdy base and, if possible, stabilized with fishing line attached to something solid like a a bannister. I had one friend that put a hanging plant hook in the ceiling and attached the fishing line to it. He simply hung a plant there the rest of the year. This is not a solution for everyone, but I thought it was a very creative way to protect his pets from having a tree fall on them.

Another concern would be a putting up a real tree. The tree itself is safe, but the sap that comes off of it can cause stomach upset. The needles can damage eyes should your pet get too close. If your dog swallows the needles it may cause him to vomit. Pine needles stuck in little paws can be uncomfortable, so it is important to keep the area swept.

Setting up an artificial tree is generally safer for pets, but it still requires that you be cautious. Puppies and kittens are chewers and could ingest things that could be health hazards.

Traditional Plants

Holly (the plant and the berries) and Mistletoe are notoriously found in homes over the holidays. These two plants are highly poisonous to both dogs and cats. Keep them up high and out of reach. If your pet swallows either of these plants, seek veterinary help immediately.

A few more things to look out for or avoid

Artificial snow (canned, spray on) contains chemicals that are poisonous to dogs and cats. If your pet licks it off of the tree, a decoration or a paw that has stepped in it, there could be serious complications. It may be best to just avoid this one altogether.

Ribbons, if swallowed, can cause intestinal blockage.

Candles. Wagging tails and climbing cats can get burned if the candles are accessible. Should the lit candles to be knocked down, there could be significant damage to your home and put your entire family in danger. Placing candles out of reach and opting for wide based or enclosed holders can reduce the risk. Always put candles out when you leave the room.

And finally, food.

There are many foods and treats left sitting out when you are entertaining over the holiday season. Guests who may not be pet savvy may unknowingly set a plate down with a turkey bone remaining on it or leave an alcoholic beverage in an accessible place. Be aware of what your guests are doing. Make sure no one is feeding the animals table scraps or treats that may be harmful. Many people are not aware of foods that should not be ingested by animals. Their good intentions may have not-so-good results.

Christmas is a time for fun and celebration for the entire family. By taking the time to pet-proof your season, you will ensure that this holiday season will be perfect!

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Tick Bites and Lyme Disease

I am not a veterinarian nor 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

I had always known that along with the sunny spring weather came the increased risk of tick bites and Lyme Disease, but recently I learned that they can be found year-round in different areas. The rule of thumb is that temperatures over five degrees present a nice living environment for ticks, and increase the chances of your dog coming home with a stowaway on board. These pesky intruders can be very dangerous for your pet as well as you and your family. They carry and spread diseases, the most common being Lyme Disease.

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 do I know if my dog has a tick?

After each walk, it is recommended that you do a full body inspection of your dog. This is even more important if you have been in tall grass or wooded areas, as ticks tend to hide in these environments. If your dog sits, lays down, rolls around or even just sniffs the ground, one of these little insects can latch itself onto your pup and begin its mission to burrow into the surface of her skin. By doing a nose to tail inspection, you can find, remove and clean the area of the bite before the tick has enough time to do any damage. The longer a tick remains on your dog, the harder it is to remove. It also has more time to potentially spread any diseases it may be carrying. Ticks can stay on your dog for up to 10 days depending on the age of the tick.

What do ticks look like?
Ticks range in size, from the size of a flea up to about a centimeter long.
Tick bites and Lyme Disease can be dangerous to your pets and family
Tick bites and Lyme Disease can be dangerous to your pets and family.

Ticks range in size, from the size of a flea up to about a centimeter long. They have an oval-shaped body and a small head, with spider like legs. When you see or feel one on your dog, you will most likely see the body, as they burrow head-first into the skin. When you do your inspection, be sure you are in a well-lit area. Do both a visual and manual examination. Sometimes the tick buries itself in a particularly furry area, making it difficult to see. By using your finger tips to feel for bumps, you may find one that you overlooked.

How do I remove a tick from my dog?

To remove the tick safely, you must be sure to pull the entire head and body from the skin. There are special tools available for tick removal. People will tell you to use regular tweezers, but they can be very sharp on the ends. This can result in the body being detached from the head, and the head remaining in the dog. This is the one thing you are trying to avoid. The head is the part that is stuck in your dog’s body and the highest risk to your dog’s health.

You may have been told to use a dish soap or Vaseline concoction that will cause the tick to retreat on it’s own. Any vet I have spoken to has advised against these processes as they take longer and may or may not work.

Getting the tick out as quickly as possible is the goal. After it has been plucked out of your dog’s skin, wash the area with hydrogen peroxide and or rubbing alcohol. This will clean the wound left behind by the bite.

Once you have removed the tick, it is advisable to put it in a sealed bag and take it to your vet to be tested for Lyme Disease.

What symptoms should I watch for?

It can take several months for symptoms associated with a tick bite, most notably Lyme Disease, to appear. If at any time during this period she shows signs of fatigue, lethargy, muscle stiffness, joint pain or fever, you should take her to a vet to be tested. Even the testing can take several months. Sometimes the antibody that indicates Lyme Disease takes a while to show up in the blood. This test may have to be repeated a few times. The results will be compared to the previous levels of the antibody to monitor any increases in the levels.

How is Lyme Disease treated?

If found early enough, Lyme Disease can be treated with a simple antibiotic. Your vet may also prescribe pain meds to help with the stiffness and joint pain until the antibiotics run their course and the disease has been cleared from your pup’s system.

How do I prevent my dog from tick related illness?
  • Avoiding wooded or grassy areas during peak seasons.
  • Early detection from thorough daily inspection.
  • Fast removal of any ticks that are present during inspection.
  • Topical prevention medication applied between the shoulder blades.
  • Oral prevention medication taken at prescribed intervals

DO NOT USE TOPICAL PREVENTION MEDICATION IN A HOME WITH CATS AS THIS MEDICATION IS TOXIC TO CATS

ONLY USE MEDICATION AS PRESCRIBED OR ADVISED BY YOUR TRUSTED VETERINARIAN

Sources

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/how-to-remove-a-tick#1

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/akcs-chief-veterinary-officer-on-tick-borne-disease-symptoms-prevention/

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5 Tips for Choosing a Coat for your Dog

Doggy jackets come in as many different materials as human jackets do. They can be fleece, windbreakers, wool or even down filled.

Choosing the best coat for your dog.

The weather is getting colder and your dog is not enjoying your walks as much as he used to. It may be time to consider getting a nice warm jacket to make his time outdoors enjoyable again. You could just grab the first one you see, but I have learned through my own experiences as well as those of my clients, that there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the right jacket. Here are 5 tips for choosing a coat for your dog:

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1) Size

It is important to be sure that the jacket extends from the back of the neck to the tail and fits comfortably around the neck, chest and stomach area. If the jacket is too short it will not stay in place when the dog moves and will allow for an updraft across the back area. Ensure that there is enough room for your pup to move his legs freely when the jacket is done up without having it so loose that the jacket moves around.

2) Style

Although many jackets and sweaters are adorable, they may not suit your dog’s needs at this time. If you have a puppy that is still being trained, you may not want to get a style that you have to put his legs through the sleeves. This is very time consuming and could cause an unfortunate accident to happen. Many dogs don’t enjoy having something put over their heads. You may want to test this on your dog before purchasing this style.

3) Fasteners

Velcro is probably the most popular method of fastening a dog jacket. This is because even the most docile doggo doesn’t want to wait around while you do up buttons and zippers when he could be outside playing. Velcro is quick and easy and is very effective for sizing the jacket. It allows the coat to be adjustable and accommodate your pup’s individual needs. Because it stays in place and rarely comes undone, it is a reliable choice for keeping warm. Another relatively fast method of fastening is snaps. If the jacket has snaps and offers a few sizing choices to conform to your dog’s body size, it is a good choice.

4) Straps

Too many straps or straps that you need an engineering degree to sort out and attach together, will cause your doggo to lose his patience. The fastest and easiest jackets have two straps to do up. One comes around the front of the chest, below the chin; the second goes under the body and does up on one side only. A longer section under the belly means more warmth.

5) Material

Doggy jackets come in as many different materials as human jackets do. They can be fleece, windbreakers, wool or even down filled. Generally, a smaller, thinner or short haired dog will require a warmer fabric. If you have a larger, thick furred breed you may not want to go too heavy as the heat will be a source of discomfort for him.

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Protecting your Dogs Paws from Cold, Salt and Heat

The pads of a dog’s feet are exposed to extreme temperatures and various things left on sidewalks

You look outside and see a beautiful winter wonderland. You get up, put on your coat and boots, put a harness and nice winter coat on your doggo and head out the door. Ten minutes into your walk, your pup is walking on three paws and holding the fourth up in the air. This happens so often. It could be the cold, the paw could be irritated by salt, an ice pellet may be stuck between the toes or an entire chunk of salt might be stuck up in there. Any of these problems will take the fun out of winter for these poor dogs, who, for the most part, love to frolic in the snow. There are a few ways of protecting your dog’s paws from the elements.

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So, what are the options?

Many people choose booties. These are great because they offer protection from all of the elements. They are warm and there is no need to wipe paws when they return home; a process that few dogs enjoy. It may take a while for your dog to get used to the feeling of having something on their feet. Take few practice runs in the house before going outside to help your pup adapt. Initially they may bite at them or refuse to stand or move once they are up, but it will become as routine as putting on a harness for both of you.

It is important to choose well fitting booties with proper tread. I have found that a Velcro strap to adjust tension helps with comfort and keeps the bootie from coming off.

Another option is to choose a paw protection wax which you apply directly to the bottom of your dog’s foot. It coats the pads and puts a layer of protection between your dog’s paws and the elements. If your dog is adamant about not wearing booties, this is a great alternative. It’s best to choose a wax that is made from natural ingredients. Your dog will likely wind up ingesting anything you smear on his paws, so having healthy ingredients will save any other potential problems.

Whatever method you choose for protecting your dog’s paws, you can help maintain the health of his feet by applying a balm to help with dryness or cracking. This can be brought on by walking in all weather, including heat. The pads of a dog’s feet are exposed to extreme temperatures and various things left on sidewalks. Using a moisturizer specific to a dog’s needs, will keep your doggo comfortable.

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How to Keep Poop Bags Environmentally Friendly

Poop. It’s not the most pleasant topic, nor the most pleasant part of pet ownership, but it is the most common of the day to day pet parenting responsibilities, next to food.  We are responsible for piles and piles of poop. How do we clean it up? What happens if we don’t? Is there a way to keep our planet safe from doggo droppings? There are ways to help keep poop bags environmentally friendly.

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I work with many dogs of all shapes and sizes and I clean poop of all shapes and sizes. I also see that many people are doing their best to find the most ecologically friendly methods of disposing of it, and I often hear that there are not very many options.

Many poop bags, including some that can be purchased at the dollar store, claim to be biodegradable. I have learned that it is almost impossible for them to actually decompose due to the fact that they are compressed in the piles of garbage in the landfills and not exposed to the light and oxygen that is required to complete the decomposition process.

So, should we bury it? Use it for fertilizer?

No. These are also not an option as dog poop, unlike sheep or cow feces, contains bacteria such as E. coli and numerous parasites. As it decomposes, it can spread disease. If humans or dogs have access to it, they can become ill.

So, what can we do?

I try to limit the number of the bags I use. If one of my dog’s poops twice on the same walk, I use the same bag to clean up.  This helps to reduce the impact on landfills. In my own yard, I keep a compostable household bag on hand, and continue to fill it for 2 or 3 days before tossing it out, once again reducing the number of bags used. I, as well as the majority of my clients, try to choose poop bags that attempt to help the environment. I look for products that put forth an effort to have a more positive ecological effect, down to the smallest details. Clients, friends and family members have introduced me to many different types that claim to be biodegradable, but as stated above,  these can only be as effective as the landfill they are dropped in. Instead, I look for a product that is not made from plastic materials, and for those that use recyclable packaging and packaging made from recycled products. It’s also better to use reusable dispensers rather than disposable.

As of yet, there is no perfect method of poop disposal that I am aware of, but there are significantly better options to choose from, as well as methods of use and disposal that can reduce the risk of illness and negative environmental impact.

Please clean up after your pet responsibly.

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