Socializing Your Dog or Puppy

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

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

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

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

Introducing Your Puppy to Humans

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introducing Puppies to Other Dogs

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

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

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

Socializing Older or Fearful Dogs

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

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

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

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Other Important Things to Consider When Socializing Your Dog or Puppy

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

Summary

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

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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.

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.

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.

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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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

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.

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. 

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 that are 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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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/

Pet parenting is an ongoing learning experience. It’s always nice to know that others are experiencing the same milestones, challenges, and celebrations that you are. Keep in touch with The Doggo Files by signing up for our biweekly emails!

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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.

Cockapoo wearing a jacket while sitting in the snow.
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:

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.

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.

Pet parenting is an ongoing learning experience. It’s always nice to know that others are experiencing the same milestones, challenges, and celebrations that you are. Keep in touch with The Doggo Files by signing up for our biweekly emails!

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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.

120x90 Walkee Paws Logo

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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