Dogs and Salt Water

I recently heard that salt water was bad for my dog, but why? I decided to look into the dangers of dogs ingesting salt water before my next trip to the East Coast. Here is what my research found.

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If carefully monitored, a day at the beach can be fun for the whole family, even our canine members, but it is important to know the potential dangers that can be encountered and how to prevent them.

Dogs tend to drink any water they come in contact with – puddles, spills, pools…. toilets! There are no boundaries. Can you imagine how exciting a whole ocean would look? It could be a drinking frenzy!

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.

Playing fetch at the beach can cause a dog to ingest salt water.

Unfortunately, this source of water can be very harmful and even fatal for a dog. The salt from the ocean water causes the dog to become dehydrated, as it causes osmosis in the body. This means that the liquid is drawn away from the salt water while in the body and it is absorbed into the intestinal tract leaving more salt to be digested. As with humans (and worse for dogs) salt causes dehydration. The second effect of the osmosis is that it leaves too much fluid in the intestines, which leads to diarrhea. What happens when anyone suffers from diarrhea?? More dehydration. So there you have it, a double whammy.

Keeping the beach safe:

It’s very important to be sure your dog is provided with ample shade and fresh, clean water at regular intervals every day, but while at the beach it is imperative. Dogs get hot in the sun and lose moisture. If there is not a bowl readily available, the dog will resort to drinking from the beach. If your pal is not thirsty, this is not as inviting.

So now you have provided shade and a bowl of water so all is well right? Not quite. Playing fetch in the water with Rover sounds like a whole lot of fun and it can be, if you are aware of the other potential dangers lurking around. Choosing a water safe fetch toy or object is an important part of reducing the risk of dogs ingesting salt water. If a tennis ball or other toy that can absorb water is used, and your dog brings it back in in his mouth, the water is being squeezed out of the toy and swallowed. Make sure to choose a solid toy to avoid consuming water as much as possible.

Sand can also be a problem. If enough is ingested, sand can occasionally become stuck in the intestines, causing blockage. Make sure that all food, water and toys are relatively sand free.

When you get home:

Finally, you should always rinse your dog with clean water after a day at the beach to remove and residual sand and salt water. If to much salt remains it can cause the skin to dry, flake and itch.

If your dog shows any symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, groggy behavior or bloating after a day at the beach, it would be wise to seek a vet’s opinion as soon as possible.


Keeping Pets Safe and Happy for Halloween

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Halloween can be great fun for children and adults alike, but can be a great source of stress and even danger for your pet. It is important that we be aware of the issues that pets are presented with, and take the proper steps to ensure that they stay safe and calm. Over the past week I have noticed many of my doggy clients reacting by either cowering and hiding behind me, whimpering or barking at the decorations in the neighbourhood. I have attempted to find alternate routes for our walks where there are no decorations or at least more subtle.

If you are taking your pet out with your family as you trick or treat, it may be a very unpleasant experience for them. If your pet shows signs of discomfort within the first few houses, it would be best to return home and let him stay in while you head out for an evening of fun and excitement. If your dog has already shown signs of discomfort, as my clients have, it will only be intensified when the ghoulish sounds and loud music and noises emanate from the amazing creations that some people create at their homes.

Nervous looking black cat
Pets can become stressed and afraid when trick or treaters come to the door.

If you are just staying home a shelling out candy, your pet can be affected by the activity. Even the most well-trained pup can become stressed and react in an unusual manner. They may become afraid and run out the door when you open it to greet the trick or treaters, or become aggressive and possibly bite when confronted with scary costumes or flashing lights that are used for child safety. Because of this, it is best to keep all of your pets, confined to an area where they will not be exposed to the door or able to escape. Also, be sure that you have a collar with contact information and ID on your pet and/or have them micro chipped, just in case.

When you return home at the end of a very exciting night, it is common to pour out the contents of the candy bag to see all of the goodies you have received. As many of these treats can be poisonous to dogs, especially chocolate, it is important that you sort your candy on a table and in a large bowl or basin to avoid dropping it on the floor and being scooped up by a curious pup. Perhaps you could offer some healthy dog treats so that your furry friend can join in on the fun! All candy should be stored away from the reach of little paws to ensure ongoing safety.

When the costumes are removed and the glow sticks come off, be sure that any small pieces are put away and that the poisonous glow sticks are disposed of.

Halloween is supposed to be a fun and exciting time for families. By keeping these safety tips in mind, you can be sure that everyone will able to enjoy the evening.

Best Skunk Smell Removal Recipe for Dogs

Every day I see someone posting about their dog being skunked and asking for suggestions about the best skunk smell removal recipe. I have been fortunate so far, and have not had to deal with this situation with my pup, but when I opened my patio door late last night to let him out and saw the little white stripe waddling away from me, pointing straight up, I realized that this is probably something I should be prepared for. I went looking for the best skunk smell removal options and came up with only a handful of suggestions.

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The most expensive (and impractical at midnight) was to take the dog to a vet or groomer for a professional cleaning. This can be very costly and would mean that we would have to wait until the establishment opens. Most incidents happen between sundown and sunrise, leaving us to care for our pet, at least initially, on our own.

So here is the scenario: It’s midnight, I let my pup out before bed and he comes back smelling like Pepe le Pew.

What do I do?

According to the cyber authorities, including veterinarians and the Humane Society, here is the best process to follow: 

1)  Keep the dog outside if possible. If you have to bring him in, isolate the dog to one room. Close the doors and open the windows. Keeping the smell confined to one area as quickly as possible will reduce the work you have to do later to remove the skunk smell from your home.

2)  Immediately flush the dog’s eyes, nose and mouth with a lot of cool water to remove any spray. The skunk oil can permanently damage the eyes and, if swallowed, can cause the dog to become nauseated or vomit. The spray can actually burn the skin on the face due to the sulfur content. It is highly recommended that you have your dog assessed by a vet immediately if the spray is directed at the dog’s face.

Skunk Smell Removal Recipe Ingredients

3) Prepare this Skunk Smell Removal recipe:

Mix the following ingredients in a bucket or bowl:

4)  Wearing gloves, use a cup pour the mixture on your dog’s dry fur, AVOIDING THE FACE COMPLETELY, and massage it in until it lathers. Continue to add the solution until the affected area has been covered. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. Thoroughly rinse the mixture out of the fur using plenty of cool water. Be sure to rinse away from the head to avoid dripping forward into the face.


Using a sponge, you can carefully rub small amounts of the mixture in to the fur, avoiding the eyes, nose and mouth and then rinse with plenty of cool water. It is not recommended to leave the mixture on the dog’s face as it may be harmful.


This mixture can cause bleaching of the dog’s fur as it is made with peroxide. A dark colored dog may have color changes to fur.

5) Towel dry your dog. Using a hair dryer will only revive the smell. 6) Dispose of any left-over solution. It cannot be stored as it can develop explosive properties if sealed. Although there will immediately be a significant improvement using this recipe, sometimes it may have to be applied more than once, depending on the severity of the spray and the thickness of the fur.

If you live in an area that has a significant skunk population, it is advisable to go out with your dog in the high risk times. This way you can keep him from chasing skunks and being sprayed. It is also a good idea to be sure you have the basic ingredients from this recipe on hand, just in case!

Anal Gland Expression for Dogs

Anal glands that are not expressed can become infected, impacted or cause an abscess to form

A few years ago, my German Shepherd began incessantly licking her rear end. She was still eating, drinking, walking and playing normally, but whenever she lay down in her favorite armchair she would start licking again. I thought maybe she had worms, but that test came up clear. The vet said he wanted to check her anal glands. After the inspection he said that one needed to be expressed and that the other had ruptured. This was my introduction to the importance of anal gland expression in dogs.

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I was surprised, as I had only ever heard of this being an issue for small dogs. She had not shown any long-term signs of discomfort. No scooting or pain when pooping. Most of my friends and clients that I spoke with who have large dogs were unaware that this could happen to a Shepherd. Because this was all very confusing, I looked into the process of anal gland expression in dogs. I wanted to know what they were, how they became clogged, how to express them and what would happen if they were not tended to.

What are Anal Glands?

Anal glands are two small sacs on either side of the anus. Each sac has a tiny hole close to the anus that contains fluid that is pushed out with the pressure of a bowel movement. This fluid coats the poop and has a very specific scent that identifies each dog. This is used to mark a dog’s territory.

Anal glands that are not expressed can become infected, impacted or cause an abscess to form.

Occasionally, not all the fluid is pushed out. When this happens, the anal gland(s) can become impacted, which is very uncomfortable. You will see the dog licking or biting at the anus or scooting across the floor in an attempt to relieve the impaction. Because these can also be symptoms of other conditions like worms or intestinal issues, it is best to seek advice from your vet if this is something that is new to your dog.

Some vets or groomers will offer to show you how to check and express the anal glands yourself, if that is something you would prefer to do. If you attempt to express the fluid and find that there is no impaction and the dog continues to show symptoms of discomfort, seek veterinary advice. There may be another cause for these symptoms that requires medical treatment.

What happens if impacted anal glands aren’t expressed?

WebMd states that when the fluid is left in the gland, it can become infected. The vet will have to drain the infection and the vet may prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection. Delaying expression could also cause an abscess to form. This may result in the need for surgery to remove the anal gland(s). This surgery has the potential to cause long term issues including incontinence.

Heartworm in Dogs

A few weeks ago I got a call from one of my dog walking clients. She wanted to let me know that her dog was being treated for heartworm. I was familiar with the need to prevent heartworm in dogs, but had never encountered an infected dog. She explained that she had rescued her dog last summer so she didn’t know she had been infected at the time. There was no medical history provided when the dog was surrendered, so they did not know that the previous owner had not taken precautions to prevent the disease.

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She went on to explain that the medical process was lengthy and that her dog would not be feeling up to par, so we would have to keep an eye on her for the next several months as she goes through the many steps involved in curing her.

I listened to what her needs were, followed the instructions with regards to her walks and any additional instructions that were required. So far, she seems to be doing well. There was a period of time where she had trouble eating, followed by some vomiting and some unusual fatigue, but overall, she is responding well, thankfully. Still, I had so many questions that I needed answered. I knew it was spread by mosquitoes, but how? She was a rescue from a professional agency. Why didn’t the agency catch this when they prepared her for adoption? How long and effective is the cure? How common is it? I decided to learn more.

How is it transmitted?

In short (and unpleasant) terms, a mosquito bites and infected dog and ingests the worm larvae. These worms grow inside the mosquito for about 2 weeks. At this time, if the mosquito bites another dog, it will regurgitate the ingested worms and some manage to crawl through the hole made by the bite. They then work their way into the dog’s blood stream. It takes up to 3 months before they are big enough and strong enough to break through a vein and land in the pulmonary artery (lung), where they multiply. It takes about 7 months for the worms to reach adulthood. An adult female can be approximately 15 inches and the male, approximately 5 inches. At this size they can reach the heart from the pulmonary artery. If the dog survives, the worms can live 5 to 7 years inside the body.

Heartworm in dogs will cause excessive fatigue with only mild exercise, coughing, loss of appetite and weight loss.

How is it detected?

Blood work to detect heartworm can only be used if the female worms have reached adulthood. At this stage they produce a protein in the blood that is detected by an antigen test. If the infection is still in the early stages, there would be no symptoms and no protein for antigen test to detect. This explains why a dog that was tested in rescue situation may go undetected. In this case, the dog had probably been infected only weeks before adoption. The symptoms, which include cough, becoming easily fatigued after mild exercise, loss of appetite and weight loss would not be apparent until long after the initial mosquito bite.

How is it cured?

The cure is a very long process; months, in fact. It begins with the dog being injected with a drug that kills the worms in the heart and vessels. Often, there are a series of injections. The first two are given a month apart and then two more over the following two days. During this time, as the worms die and decompose in the body, the dog will be given antibiotics to combat any infection that could arise. The dog may have a cough for several weeks afterward. The dog will also be given a drug to kill the baby worms that are beginning to grow in the body. Through most of this process, the dog is to be kept calm and have minimal to no exercise.

How common is Heartworm Infection in dogs?

According to Dwight Bowman, MS, PhD, 1 out of every 200 dogs is diagnosed as being infected with heartworm annually.


The Furbo Dog Camera – Keeping an Eye on your Pup

I feel that everyone who leaves their pet, even for a short time, would benefit from being able to check in. The peace of mind has been immeasurable.

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About 8 months ago, one of my neighbors mentioned that she often heard my dog barking during the day when no one was home. Knowing that there is rarely a long period of time when the dog is alone, I was concerned about a couple of things. First and foremost was that my dog was in some kind of distress, second was that my dog was upsetting my neighbors and third, that this neighbor wasn’t much of a dog person (is that even possible??) and was trying to make waves with property management to have the dogs removed from the complex. I wanted to find a way to see what was happening in my home without resorting to a full home security system. I discovered the Furbo.

How I learned about the Furbo Camera

One of my former coworkers had purchased one when she upgraded her puppy from crate to pen and loved it. I couldn’t agree more. As a dog walker and dog parent, I feel that everyone who leaves their pet, even for a short time, would benefit from being able to check in. The peace of mind has been immeasurable. If you are in training, you will be able to interact with your dog by giving commands and rewarding with treats via the microphone and treat dispensing icon on your screen. You can use any treats you want, as long as they are about 1 cm diameter (less than ½ inch) or smaller so that they fit through the opening.

Furbo Dog Camera
Furbo Dog Camera looks nice and discreet on any shelf or table.

I was out waking one of my clients one day, when I was alerted that Furbo had spotted a person. I immediately looked to see who it was. Fortunately, it was a family member who was supposed to be out, but had come back to get something. This made me realize that I had even more security. I keep it on at night, even when I am home, in case of an intruder. I have since read that Furbo is responsible for identifying and convicting people of breaking and entering.

Furbo Keeps my Family Safe Too

I was cooking a few nights ago, and there was something on the element that caused the smoke alarm to go off briefly. I received an alert from Furbo seconds later, informing me that there may be an emergency in my home. Fortunately, I was home. Had I not been, the ability to check in to see if my pup and family members were in some kind of danger was very reassuring!

Is it Expensive?

The initial cost of the camera is not very expensive, given the cost of a home security system. It comes with Furbo Dog Nanny service for only 99 cents for the first 90 days. After that the service costs less than $10.00 monthly. This is very affordable. I can even send my dog treats to reward him or just because I think he would like one whenever I please. No home security system does that!

What about the appearance?

The camera is not bulky or intrusive looking so having it my living area is not an eyesore. It has a wide-angle lens that covers 120 degrees to allow you to see a large area. If your dog stays in a main area while you are out, this camera will allow you to view the whole room. If you can’t see him/her, you can use the microphone feature to call your dog to the area where he/she will be visible. It has night vision as well, so you can keep an eye on your pet at any time. The camera runs on Wi-Fi. The Furbo App can easily downloaded to your phone or tablet. The entire set up takes only a few minutes. It doesn’t use a lot of data to check in periodically.

How many people can get notifications?

As Furbo’s notification system is based on an email address, multiple members of the household can receive alerts. Two at a time can actually be viewing what is happening in your home. The number of alerts and personal preferences are set accordingly to your needs.

What have I learned?

1) My dog rarely barks.

2) My neighbor isn’t “anti-dog”. She was actually hearing another dog down the hall and thought it was mine. She was genuinely concerned. (The other dog is fine too.)

3) Furbo has changed the level of worry when I have to leave my pup at home. I still hate to leave him. In a perfect world, I could take him everywhere with me. When I have to leave him, the Furbo gives me total peace of mind. I know that I will be notified of any activity, barking, whining, people or alarms that occur in my home while he is alone.

The Furbo Dog Camera is definitely a 10/10!