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

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

10 Weekend Things to do with your Dog

Dogs just love being near you, but offering them one on one time will always encourage positive behavior while strengthening the bond between you.

When you have some free time in the evening or on the weekend, you might want to spend part of it doing some things with your dog. There are many ways to spend time with your furry friend that will benefit you both mentally and physically. Dogs just love being near you, but offering them one on one time will always encourage positive behavior while strengthening the bond between you.

Here are some ways to fill a long day with your doggo that he will appreciate.

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.

Go for long walks: 
Spending time outdoors is good for you and your dog. It provides the mental and physical exercise we all need!

Spending time outdoors is healthy for you and your dog.  Finding quiet trails, parks or a nice long beach to roam will provide the physical and mental exercise that your dog needs.  You can make it an outing for the whole family to enjoy.  Be sure to bring along water, treats and any safety gear necessary for the season and location.  A GPS tracker is always recommended.

Go for a drive:

If your dog likes the car, he will enjoy a short road trip or day trip. Pack a lunch for each of you, tuck him into his car seat and/or seat belt, and head off to somewhere away from your normal routine.  A walk somewhere out of the norm would only add to the fun.  He will enjoy exploring new territory.                                                                                      

Training the basics:

If you have a puppy you can spend time learning the basic skills – Sit, Stay, heel and come.  If you have an older dog you can practice them. A refresher course is often helpful. Even if it isn’t truly necessary, he will just love spending time with you and getting treats or praise for being a good boy!

Teach fun tricks:

If your doggo is ready to move on from the basics, teaching him cool tricks will be fun for both of you.  Teaching your dog to play fetch is always a fun game that your will enjoy forever.  Other options are hide and seek, roll over or even to clean up his own toys.  That last one will benefit you for years to come!

Spa Day:

A bubble bath can be as enjoyable for many doggos as it would be for you. Fill the tub with some dog safe shampoo and let the bubbles fly. Be sure to rinse well and dry him off to avoid skin irritation.

For those that don’t enjoy a bath, you can spend time brushing him and removing all excess fur. This can help to clean your dog, as well as remove knots that may be causing discomfort or excess fur that could be making it too warm for the season. Using a good brush or comb will aid in the removal of the undercoat and reduce the amount of shedding in your house as well.

Doggy massage:

Turn on some spa music and ask your pup to lie down.  Start at his head and work your way down to his tail, gently massaging his neck, back, underarms, belly and legs.  If your dog has a sensitive area that he doesn’t like to have touched, skip it and move on.  The one on one interaction provides some special bonding time for you both.

Mani/pedi:

Many dogs do not like this one, but it still has to be done.  You can make it more pleasant for both of you by being patient.  When your dog is calm, take a moment to clip his nails so that he is comfortable walking.  If his nails are too long, it becomes painful for your doggo as his toes do not sit in the correct position on the floor when he stands.  You can use clippers if you are comfortable with them or you can try a nail grinder.  I have never used one of these, but I have heard that they can be less stressful for both you and your pup.  There is no fear of over clipping, causing your dog’s nails to bleed.  The more pleasant you can make this process, the more comfortable your doggo will be having his manicure in the future.

Laser Pointer: 

Until I got my current pup, I thought that a laser pointer was a cat toy.  Zorro has proven that dogs have just as much fun chasing that little red dot!  He can do this for quite a long time and he gets very tired by the time we stop.  This is a form of mental stimulation as well because he has to follow the dot. 

Flashlight: 

My German Shepherd, Princess (AKA “Doggo”), loved to chase the beam from a flashlight.  Similar to the laser, she would hunt it down and run after it.  It would keep her busy inside or out (at night) and would give her a good mental and physical workout. I always gave her a special treat at the end of the last chase to ensure that all of her work was worth it!

Snuggle Time:

At the end of a long day, or on a quiet, lazy afternoon, your friend will benefit from a nice cuddle session.  Watch TV, have a nap or read a book with your pup snuggled up close to you.  We are so busy running around most of the time, that we rarely have the time to just sit and be together.  It’s a perfect bonding experience that your dog will love.

Whatever way you choose to spend time with your pup, it will allow you both to de-stress and just enjoy each other’s company.  Whether you take a few minutes or half a day, your doggo will be grateful that you did.

The Dangers of Dogs Playing with Balloons

If a dog swallows a balloon, or even a piece of a balloon it can result in intestinal blockage which requires emergency surgery.

Many years ago, I took a St. John’s Ambulance Infant CPR course.  The instructor spoke to us about the dangers of children choking on small pieces of food and small toys, but one of the things that stood out for me was the information about the dangers of balloons.  These concerns do not just apply to humans. The dangers of dogs playing with balloons are just as serious. 

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.

Balloons are bright and shiny.  They bounce and wiggle.  These are very enticing attributes to any doggo.  The urge to chase and bite are overwhelming.  But balloons burst and break into small pieces.  The repercussions of the popped balloon can be very dangerous to your dog’s health. The damage can be permanent or even fatal. Here are some dangers to consider when deciding whether or not to decorate with balloons when you have a dog:

Eye Damage or Blindness

When your dog bites a balloon or holds it in his mouth, it puts pressure on the rubber, causing it to expand to full capacity.  Eventually it bursts and the pieces fly around your dog’s face.  It snaps with enough force to cause a whipping reaction.  If a piece lands in your dog’s eye(s) or whips the eyeball as it flies by, the eye can be damaged.  If it strikes a specific part of the eye it can cause permanent blindness.

Intestinal Blockage
If a dog swallows a balloon, or even a piece of a balloon it can result in intestinal blockage which requires emergency surgery.

Another one of the dangers of dogs playing with balloons or finding a piece of broken balloon, is that they are likely to swallow it. The piece can make its way down to various levels of the intestinal tract.  Although sometimes it makes its way through (and out), it can also expand and block food from passing.  This intestinal obstruction will have to be surgically removed.  Symptoms of blockage include vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms can take days or weeks to appear as the blockage can take this long to occur. 

I have witnessed this delayed blockage with one of my dog walking clients.  Although it was not a balloon that he swallowed, the progression of the blockage was similar. At some point he had swallowed a piece of corn cob and it was about 6 weeks before the symptoms developed. Emergency surgery was required.  The vet determined the time frame from ingestion to surgery based on the condition of the cob piece once it was removed.  Until the vomiting and diarrhea started, he was acting like his normal, fun loving puppy self.

Extreme Choking Hazzard

A small piece of a balloon can cause one of the most dangerous of choking hazards.  The balloon, or piece of balloon, can get caught in the throat, blocking the windpipe (trachea).  The dog cannot breathe in.  Should you see this happening and attempt the Heimlich Maneuver, it may not work.  

The Heimlich Maneuver uses the force of air pressure from the abdomen and lungs to push an item that is lodged in the throat out through the mouth.  When the object is a balloon, the forced air from the abdomen blows upward and instead of forcing the balloon out of the way, the rubber/latex expands, just as if you were blowing the balloon up.  There is no way for the air pressure to dislodge the balloon. In fact, this procedure can make it worse by moving the offending piece to a more dangerous position.

The length of time it takes to remove an obstructed object determines how much permanent damage is done.  The longer the body goes without oxygen, the worse the level of damage will be. 

When you have pets, it is wise to decorate without balloons.  Yes, they are bright and cheery and fun to play with, but is it worth your dog’s safety?

Alternative Decorating Ideas

There are a number of alternative ideas for decorating that are equally as bright and cheery that are safe for dogs and children.

  • Bubbles: Dogs love to chase the moving bubbles and they are fun to have floating around during a party. Bonus: They are very affordable.
  • Streamers:  Brightly colored paper streamers are very festive.  They can be placed higher up so that pets cannot get to them.  Bonus:  They are reusable.
  • Pinwheels: These brightly colored wheels move and spin for outdoor parties.  They provide the bright and shiny attributes of balloons and can be placed in a variety of out of reach places or bunched like a floral arrangement.  Bonus: You can make your own and they are reusable.
  • Paper Flowers or Pom Poms: Both are round and full. They come in any color and can be hung from the streamers, just like balloons.  Bonus:  Making your own can be a lot of fun and they are reusable.
  • Honeycomb Balls:  These carved paper balls look just like balloons and can be hung from streamers, in bunches or placed on sticks or straws to appear the same as balloons on a string.  Bonus:  Reusable and flatten for easy storage.
Summary

As you can see, there are many ways to decorate and a number of bonus reasons to choose any or all of the listed alternatives to balloons when decorating around pets or children.  The biggest bonus is that everyone will be much safer without the risk of suffocating on a balloon. Having said that, any item that a dog can rip up or shred has the potential to get stuck in your dog’s digestive tract.  It is important to keep all decorations out of reach.

One last note:

Even if you do not have a pet or children, your balloons can float off and land somewhere that does.  They can land in oceans and forests.  The fish, sea creatures and animals who live in these areas can be harmed without the option of veterinary surgery to help them. 

Please choose wisely.

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

Preparing for a Road Trip with Your Dog

You should be prepared with anything you may need on your road trip, and you should prepare your dog for his road trip as well.

So, you are preparing to go on a road trip with your dog.  Maybe you are off to the cottage, maybe to another city, maybe camping.  You should be prepared with anything you may need, and you should prepare your dog for his trip as well.  Last year, my family and I went on a 10-day road trip with our dog across the east coast. We were camping in many places, and visited family for a couple of days along the way.  Our dog had a great time exploring, hiking and spending a lot of family time with us.  It can be a lot of fun for everyone of you are well prepared.

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.

Before you leave, here is a list of things you should pack for your pup:

Car Seat: 

Car seats for dogs are available in all sizes.  If your dog has his own space where he can see out the window, he won’t feel the need to move around.  He can have his toys close; he has a comfortable place to sleep, he can see everyone and he can enjoy the view from the car window.

Be sure to choose a seat that can be strapped in using your car’s seat belt to keep it from moving or falling.

Seat Belt: 

If you are not going to use a car seat, you can opt for a seat belt harness for your pup.  These offer safety and comfort.  The vest harness allows for evenly distributed restraint should you have to stop fast.  This can save your pup from injury.  Having the seat belt attached securely to the car’s seat belt clip offers a certain amount of mobility within the vehicle without causing a distraction.

Car Seat Cover: 

Your dog will be getting in and out of your vehicle for pee breaks and to stretch his legs.  There is a strong possibility that he will track dirt, mud or wet feet into the car.  If you cover your seats with a seat cover or “hammock” your leather or upholstery will be protected.  These also offer a bit of a barrier between the front and back seat, which provide a clear division between front and back. This makes the seating arrangements clear for your pup.

Blanket: 

Your dog is going to be away from home and may find his new surroundings frightening or stressful. Bringing his favorite blanket will offer something familiar to ease the discomfort.  The smells in the blanket will be those from your home and your will help to put your pup at ease.

Dog Bed: 

Having his own bed along for the ride will provide all the comforts of home.  If this is too much to carry along, try using the car seat once you arrive.  He will be very familiar with it by the time you arrive at your destination so it will be a comfortable sanctuary for him.

Toys: 

As with the blanket, familiar toys or stuffed animals will provide the familiarity of home.  A Kong or other small chew toy will keep your dog busy while driving long distances.  Once you arrive at your destination your dog may not understand all of the changes going on around him. These items will offer comfort in an otherwise confusing situation.

Medical Records: 

If you are crossing the border you will need your dog’s paperwork. In case of injury or illness while travelling a new vet will benefit from knowing your doggo’s medical history.

GPS Collar: 

When you are in a strange place, having a GPS collar will be a significant benefit should your dog become lost.  These collars are crucial when trying to find a lost dog.  They allow you to track your dog’s location on your cell phone for a quick and safe return. See: GPS Trackers for Dogs and Cats

Micro Chip:  

Having your dog micro chipped also increases the likelihood of having your dog returned should he become lost.  It is a quick procedure done in your vet’s office.  Your dog has a microchip inserted between his shoulder blades that contains pertinent information about you.  Should someone find your dog, this information will help a vet or shelter find you.

Collar with Tags:  

Make sure your dog is wearing his tags.  This is the first thing someone will look for if your pup is found.  Make sure your current cell phone number is on the tags as you will not be home to answer a landline.

Leash/Harness:  
You will need your dog’s leash and harness for pee breaks and hikes while on your road trip.

Your dog’s leash and harness will be needed for pee breaks while travelling.  You will also need it to go for walks or hikes while you are on vacation. 

Lead:  

If you are at the cottage or staying with friends, you may want to bring a lead so that you can let your dog out without worrying about him wandering off.  You should always watch him while he is out on the lead, but this gives him a little bit of freedom from the house and the leash.  The lead is longer and he can move about more freely.

Crate: 

If your dog is crate trained, you will want to bring a crate that folds flat.  You will need it at your destination, but the ability to lay in flat in the vehicle makes it easier to pack.

Bowls:

Bring along 2 unbreakable bowls.  These will be used when you take driving breaks, so you want to make sure they are not going to fall and break.  Something with a lid is even better, as you may want to offer your pup food or water while on the go (of course, this would be done by a passenger and not the driver.) If they can be stored with the contents in them, it saves a lot of fussing with water bottles and food bags.  You should make sure that the bowls are easily accessible so that nobody removes a seat belt. 

Treats:   

Bring some nutritious treats along.  If your pup becomes restless or needs to be coaxed back into the vehicle on one of the breaks, a treat will help.  You will want to have them for your vacation as well.  Your dog will be in an unfamiliar place and may require some refresher training with regards to social skills or recall.  The treats will be helpful.

Water:   

Always carry bottled water.  Should you have car trouble, weather issues that cause delays or even find that the water where you are staying is a little sketchy, you will be glad you have some extra water.  If you are heading to the beach, always have fresh water available so that your dog does not consume salt water.  This can be fatal.  See Dogs and Salt Water.

Food:  

Bring enough food to last 3-4 days longer than you expect to be there.  You never know what can happen with weather, vehicle issues or any other any unexpected occurrence could prolong your stay.  Make sure you have a little extra to tide you over.

Poop Bags: 

Throw some extra poop bag rolls in his doggy bag.  It never hurts to have too many!

Jacket and Boots: 

Depending on the time of year, you may need a warm jacket and boots to protect your pup from the elements.  Even when it is warm out, you your doggo may require a raincoat.  If you are into hiking or long walks, it would be more comfortable for him to stay as dry as possible.

Towel: 

You never know what you will experience while on the road.  On any stop along the way the ground may be muddy or wet.  When you are vacationing, you may be walking in a multitude of situations.  Having a towel to wipe muddy paws before reentering the car or house/hotel will make things much more pleasant for everyone.

Shampoo: 

When you are out with you pup, you may run into a lot of messy situations.  You may be playing or swimming at the beach.  At the end of your day, when you return to your vacation home, your pup may need a bath.  Lake water, salt water, sand and mud should all be washed from your dog’s fur to avoid skin issues.  Should you be in a cottage environment, you may want to carry the ingredients needed for skunk smell removal.  You never know who/what you dog will come in contact with.  See: Best Skunk Smell Removal Recipe for Dogs

Bug Repellent:  

Just like humans, dogs can get bitten by mosquitoes and other bugs.  There are a number of repellents specific to dogs available.  There are also natural remedies to help repel bugs.  Be sure to check labels and ingredients before using anything on your dog.

Road trips can be a lot of fun with your pup.  Being prepared makes everything run smoothly.  Grab your doggy bag and enjoy your trip!

Exercising Your Dog’s Brain

Your dog needs physical exercise, it is vital that you keep his brain stimulated as well.

Just as your dog needs physical exercise, exercising your dog’s brain is important as well.  Dogs who are bored may become destructive.  They may even turn into couch potatoes.  Neither of these scenarios are good for your pup’s health.  Just like humans, they need to be active, both mentally and physically to remain healthy.  A good rule is to spend a total of about 2 hours daily interacting with your dog. It is also a good idea to change the activities so that it doesn’t become routine and boring. Something as simple as taking your dog on a different route for his daily walks.  A change in direction can offer stimulation in the form of new smells to process which will offer them new mental challenges. See: Let Your Dog Sniff

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Here are some other ideas to keep him thinking!

Training time:

You can spend some together time training.  While you are teaching your pup important skills, he is processing and storing information. 

Learn a new trick:

Teaching him a new trick can be fun for both of you.  Your dog will be challenged to do something new, and you benefit from the results of having your slippers brought to you when you come home!

Playing Ball:

You can bounce or roll a ball around indoors, or you can throw it outdoors.  Your doggo will enjoy the playtime and will get to chase and find the ball when it lands. This encourages sniffing and natural hunting skills.

Play Catch:

Playing catch will provide physical exercise while offering the opportunity to incorporate extreme concentration and timing to be able to judge the timing of the ball’s movement. 

Hide and Seek:

You can hide your dog’s toy or some treats and have him find them.  This also utilizes hunting skills and let’s your dog sniff it out!

Hiking:
Hiking with your dog provides physical and mental exercise.

If you are able to take your dog to a hiking trail, he will love investigating all of the new sites and smells.  The physical challenges are great for his body. Navigating the obstacles on a trail will also provide exercise for your dog’s brain. 

Play Fetch:

Fetch involves sniffing, finding, retrieving and returning.  This simple game offers deductive skills, recall skills and information processing as well as some physical exercise. Dog’s love it!

Kong Treat Toy:

Filling a Kong with a healthy treat or even kibble keeps your pup busy for quite a while.  He has to figure out how to get the treats from inside the Kong.  This forces him to focus and find ways to manipulate the toy so that he can be rewarded with a treat. This is something you can leave for your pup if you are away from home for a few hours.

One of the unique ways I spend time playing with my dog is playing with a laser pointer.  He just loves to chase that little red dot all over the living room.  He can do this for quite a while and is exhausted when we stop. The process he is using to foresee where the laser will go next is exercising his brain while the running and chasing offers physical benefits.

Do you and your dog have any unusual interaction games? Please let me know so that I can try them with my doggo!

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. 

Pee Pad Training

Pee Pad Training is one of the most popular methods of house training your puppy.

Your new puppy is going to require a lot of training. The first thing on your list is going to be house training.  There is more than one way to go about it, but the two most popular are pee pad training and crate training.  If you choose pee pad, here are a few things to keep in mind to help with quick and successful learning.

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Setting Up Your Puppy’s Space

Keep your puppy in a limited, enclosed space and cover the floor with pee pads. This helps them associate pee/poop with the pad.  Eventually, if they are not in the enclosure, they will seek out the pad rather than use the floor or carpet.  The pad will be familiar territory for doing their business. 

Learning to Go Outside

When you take him out of the enclosure, be sure to put his leash on and take him directly outside.  The leash restricts his range and limits the number of distractions that might keep him from peeing. Take note of pee/poop habits.  Many dogs have a little routine than they do before they go.  Some will spin in circles; others will have a specific posture (i.e. tail position, hind quarters lowered) that they assume as they are looking for the perfect spot. Get to know your dog’s unique routine so that you recognize it later, when he tries to tell you he has to go out. Once he is done, come back in so he knows that outside is for peeing.  Once your pup is trained you can spend play time outside.  For now, it is just a big potty.

Indoor Play Time

While your pup is in the house, but out of the enclosure, keep a close eye on his every move.  Look for the routine that you have identified as “the potty dance”, and have the leash ready to go out when you see it happening or be ready to put him in the enclosure to let him use the pad.

Mistakes Will Happen

If an accident happens, do not scold.  Just take your puppy outside to show him that this is where he should have gone.  Many suggest taking the “evidence” with you so that he associates it with something that belongs outside.  This does not mean you should have him sniff it or rub his nose in it, just put it down in the area where he usually pees so that he makes a connection.

As Your Doggo Progresses

As your puppy’s ability to hold his bladder becomes stronger, you can leave him out of the enclosure for longer.  Once he is showing signs of seeking out the enclosure when he has to pee or poop, you can remove the enclosure and eventually reduce the number of pads being used until you no longer need them. 

Pee Pads for Everyday Use
Indoor Turf is an alternative to Pee Pads. It provides a more natural option and is more absorbent.

Some families, especially those who live in multi-story apartments or condos or work unusually long hours, may choose to keep the pads to use when they just can’t get out.  In this case, have a designated space for the pads as this will provide consistency.  You may also want to get a more durable pad or potentially choose to use an indoor turf as an alternative to be sure the adult pup’s urine volume will be absorbed without damaging your floor.

Whatever method you use, please be patient and consistent.  This will reduce the pressure and stress on your puppy and will increase your chances of success.

Happy training!


Stay Safe While Walking Your Dog

Remember, if we are not taking care of ourselves, we are not going to be able to properly care for our pets.

Now that we have chosen the appropriate harness and leash for our pups, we have made sure that their paws are protected from the elements and we have found the best winter and rain coats to be sure they are comfortable while outside walking or playing, it’s time to make sure we are prepared as well. We all do everything in our power to keep our doggos protected and safe while we are on our walks, but we don’t always think about ourselves. Remember, if we are not taking care of ourselves, we are not going to be able to properly care for our pets. If we slip and fall, suffer from heat stroke or get frost bite, we are not going to be of any value to them, and could actually put them in danger if we were to lose control of the leash. It’s important to stay safe while walking your dog.

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Last year was a particularly cold and snowy winter. This made for great adventures while walking with my clients. They loved to play and run in the white stuff, but the sidewalks and park paths were never free of ice. Sometimes it was black ice, or hidden below a layer of snow. This left me vulnerable to falling, which I did – several times! Some of these falls put not only me in jeopardy, but after the fact, I realized that the dog could have been as well.

“…she fell on a patch of ice and hit her head on the ground. She was unconscious for several minutes and the dog stayed with her.”

One incident that was cause for concern was when I fell forward toward a driveway entrance. Fortunately, the Golden Retriever I was walking was on a long lead so he was well past the area where a car might drive. I did drop the lead when I hit the ground. Not only did I land in a very precarious position with regard to traffic, but if it had been a dog who was a runner, he might have bolted.

Coincidently, he was walking with his owner a few weeks later, when she fell on a patch of ice and hit her head on the ground. She was unconscious for several minutes and the dog stayed with her. Again, a dog who is a flight risk could have been long gone.

Why am I telling you these stories? To demonstrate the importance of safe walking practices. While all accidents are not 100% preventable, we should do our best to reduce the risk.

How to dress in winter:

If you are out in the colder months, check the weather before going out. Wearing appropriate jackets, hats, gloves and boots will help you to be comfortable. This will also allow you to enjoy your walk as well as focus on your dog’s needs.

If there is snow or ice, I would highly recommend spikes for the bottom of your boots. I have been using a pair this year and the stability while walking has kept me upright. They provide traction when you walk on slippery surfaces. Although they do not completely prevent falls, they have made a significant difference to the way I walk. In addition to preventing slips and falls, they have kept me from tensing up. This has helped to reduce sore muscles and back pain.

Always wear something bright colored and/or reflective. In the shorter days of winter, you will likely be walking at dawn, dusk or in complete darkness. Wearing reflective jackets or vests will ensure that you are visible when crossing streets or walking along roadsides. A reflective vest, leash or flashing collar will make sure your dog is visible as well.

The Best Hot Weather Clothing and Accessories:

Aside from wearing cool and comfortable attire when outside in summer, you should be sure to wear a hat. Keeping the hot sun from beating down on your head will prevent heat stroke. Heat stroke can cause dizziness and weakness which could result in passing out. Again, this leaves your dog unattended and vulnerable.

Wear proper walking shoes. Flip flops and sandals will not support your feet and ankles properly and could cause permanent damage. If you step on uneven terrain you can easily slip off a sandal or flip flop causing you to fall. You could also wind up spraining or breaking your ankle rendering you useless for doggy walks over the next several days or weeks.

Carrying and consuming water is as important for you as it is for your doggo, as maintaining hydration is another key factor in preventing heat stroke.

Wear sunblock. Though this will not prevent any sudden issues while on a walk, if you get a nasty sunburn, you are not going to want to walk tomorrow, and your pup will not get his proper exercise.

Rain Gear:

Many people ask me if I have my umbrella on rainy days. Truthfully, I try to avoid carrying an umbrella. Because I have one hand on the leash, I need the other free to pick up poop, clean burrs off of fur or remove mud or pine needles from paw pads. Carrying an umbrella can be a hindrance. I opt for a hooded cape or raincoat with a rain hat to keep me warm and dry. They usually come in bright colors, so they cover the visibility issue on foggy, misty, rainy days.

Be prepared:

Always carry a flashlight when walking on particularly cloudy days or in the dark. This not only makes you more visible, but it can protect you and your pup from coyotes or any other animals that may pose a threat. If your area is known to have a strong presence of a specific wild animal, learn all safety and protective measures to keep you and your pup safe from attacks.

When you are on an airplane, the flight attendant always tells you to use the mask first. If you are not safe, your partner or child isn’t either. It is the same with walking our pets. Make sure you are protected so that you can keep them as safe as possible.