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.

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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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Why is My Dog’s Stomach Gurgling?

Gurgling, also known as borborygmi or Borborygmus, occurs when the dog’s digestive system is processing food. Quiet noises coming from the abdomen are normal. Louder noises can be normal as well, or they can be a symptom of something more serious.

The other night I woke when my dog became restless.  Zorro rarely wakes in the night so I was a bit concerned, although he seemed fine.  He had some water and got back in bed.  Then I heard my dog’s stomach gurgling.  It was quite loud.  He was having trouble sleeping so I thought maybe he had to go out.  I let him out in the yard, but after several minutes he still hadn’t done anything and was happy to go back inside.  After returning to bed, his stomach was still rumbling quite loudly.  I massaged his tummy for a while and he fell asleep.  Unfortunately, I did not.  I was very concerned as to what was causing the discomfort and what I could do to help.  Because I was concerned that this could be something serious I decided to get up and do some research.

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 is gurgling?

Gurgling, also known as Borborygmi or Borborygmus, occurs when the dog’s digestive system is processing food.  It occurs in animals just as it does in humans.  The food is chewed and swallowed and then begins its journey through the stomach and intestines.  It’s during this process that gurgling happens.  Quiet noises coming from the abdomen are normal.  Louder noises can be normal as well, or they can be a symptom of something more serious.

I am neither 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.

When is gurgling considered normal?

There are a number of circumstances which cause gurgling that are not a cause for serious concern.  These include:

  • Regular Digestion
  • Gas
  • Air passing through the system
  • Eating something that didn’t agree with your dog
  • General hunger

If your dog has recently eaten, she may have swallowed some air while eating.  This air may be moving around in the digestive tract and causing the sounds.  If she has lapped up water very quickly, there may be excessive air, which would create larger air pockets, thus causing louder noises as it moves its way through.  This generally does not cause pain or distress.

If she has eaten something that doesn’t agree with her, such as something she found on the street, she may be having a mild reaction to it. If her food has changed and she hasn’t adjusted yet, it can create some discomfort, just as it could in a human. Either of these situations can also cause gas. Usually, this will pass through and she will feel better soon.

It may simply be that your dog is hungry.  The body continues to process anything remaining in the digestive tract, but if there are little or no contents in the intestines, the system is only processing air and liquids. This is when the louder gurgling begins.  Once she eats, the body should adjust to the normal routine.

When you should be concerned:
A dog’s stomach gurgling is usually not serious, but if accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, it can be cause for concern.

If you see any of these symptoms in your dog, you should take her to a vet immediately.  There may be something more serious going on:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargic
  • Swollen stomach
  • Restlessness

Sometimes these symptoms can indicate a blockage or partial blockage in the intestines.  Your dog may have swallowed something around the house, outside in the yard or even on a walk with you.  If the object doesn’t move, food cannot pass through normally.  Because some or all of the food that your dog has eaten remains in the digestive system, she feels full and will not eat.  The small amount that does pass through will be mostly liquid, resulting in diarrhea. Depending on where the blockage is located, any food that has been consumed may be regurgitated (vomited).  A lack of food and nutrition will cause lethargy. Vomiting and diarrhea will rapidly cause dehydration and should be treated as quickly as possible.  Intestinal blockage is very serious and requires immediate medical attention.

If you notice that your dog’s tummy is swollen (blown up like a balloon) and that she seems to be having trouble settling down, this could indicate a condition called Bloat.  This is very serious and requires immediate medical attention.

Summary

Gurgling, on its own, can be caused by a number of circumstances, most of which are harmless and will go away within 24 to 48 hours.  If the gurgling is accompanied by any other symptoms, you should have your dog examined by a vet.  There may be a more serious underlying condition that needs to be addressed with medication or even surgery.  It is important not to wait if your dog is in any discomfort or distress as time may be of the essence.

Follow up on my dog’s condition:

Two days after the gurgling incident, Zorro woke several times in the night and eventually he vomited. A few hours later he had an episode of extreme diarrhea.  I made a vet appointment immediately.  He was put on a special diet for three days and has been given some medicine to coat his stomach in case of irritation.  The vet wants me to collect stool samples over the next few days to be analyzed. 

There has been no more vomiting.  We are keeping a close eye on him to be sure there are no further issues. So far Zorro is eating, sleeping and playing well and is almost back to his old self.

Sources:

https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/dog-stomach-noises-what-do-they-mean

https://www.dogster.com/dog-health-care/why-is-dogs-stomach-making-noises

https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/help-my-dogs-stomach-is-bloated-understanding-canine-bloat-torsion-and-gdv

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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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