Everything you need to know to prevent pet dehydration

During the hot summer days, we are all susceptible to dehydration, including our pets. Dehydration is the lack of water in the body and it can cause serious health problems and even death in humans and pets alike. Water makes up 80% of dogs and cats bodies, and helps with circulation, digestion, waste removal and other body processes.

When fluid levels drop below normal, dehydration occurs. Dehydration is caused by a reduced fluid intake and/or an increased fluid loss. Fluid loss occurs due to overheating or illness in dogs and cats. And with the increased heat and humidity, dogs and cats overheat quickly when outdoors or in a location without air-conditioning, such a parked car or garage. Older, young and sick pets are more susceptible to overheating and dehydration; but any dog or cat can become overheated and dehydrated at any time, so it’s important to look for the signs during the hot summer months.

The typical signs of dehydration are:

  • Fatigue or lack of desire to move
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sunken eyes
  • Depression

There is a simple at home test to do for dehydration. Gently lift up your pet’s skin on the back of their neck or between their shoulder blades. The skin should immediately return back to its normal position. If a pet is dehydrated, it will take longer to return to its normal position. This is not the only sign that a pet is dehydrated, and your pet may still be dehydrated even with passing this test. So if you notice any signs, you should consider your pet may be dehydrated.

Test your dogs skin to see if they are dehydrated. Gently pull between shoulder blades and let go. If it takes a while to bounce back, dehydration is supected.

If you suspect your pet is dehydrated, immediately take him or her to your veterinarian. It’s always best to call ahead and let them know you are coming so they can have everything ready for your arrival. The veterinarian will test for dehydration and administer intravenous fluids if dehydration has occurred.

To prevent pet dehydration, always provide plenty of fresh, clean water. You should refill your pets bowl with fresh water regularly and be sure to clean their water dish(es) every other day to kill any bacteria that may have developed in the dish. And when you and your pet go outside, be sure to bring water and a water dish with you and take plenty of water breaks.

A pet should drink one ounce of water per pound of body weight a day, and more when exposed to heat or illness. Monitor your pet’s drinking habits and if you feel he or she is not drinking enough, consult with your veterinarian. There may be a medical reason why your dog or cat is not drinking as much as they should.

Dehydration is a dangerous thing for both humans and animals. But its prevention technique is simple: lots of fresh clean, water! I’ll see you around the drinking fountain!



Fun Activities for Your Pet on the Fourth of July

Fireworks and pets just don’t mix well. So the 4th of July is not a very fun day for dogs and cats. Pets often get overwhelmed by all the people, excitement and loud noises that come with a large celebration. But you can make the day special for your pet too! Here are some great ideas to make your pet happy this 4th.

1 – Take your dog for an early morning walk in the park or go to a dog park. Let’s face it, most dogs love to be outside, sniff around, explore, run and walk. What better treat for your pup than a special trip outdoors? Take your pup to a new park or his favorite park to explore and enjoy. Go early before the crowds and intense heat set in, and be sure to bring you and your dog some water to stay hydrated. If you are going to a dog park, be sure to read over these guidelines to keep the peace in the park.

2 – Buy your pet a new pet friendly toy. It can be something as simple as catnip or a bone, or it can be a special patriotic red, white and blue toy. During the heat of the day, stay inside in the cool air conditioning and play with your pet and his new toy. He will love the new toy and the time spent with you!

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

3 – Instead of giving your dog or cat a piece of hotdog or burger as a special treat, buy him a pet treat instead. Human food often upsets pets’ stomachs, and some food is toxic to your pet. (For a list of toxic foods, read this article). Go to your local pet bakery and pick up a special dog or cat treat so your pet can indulge on the 4th.

4 – Create a safe place for your pet to go when he or she gets overwhelmed. If you are hosting a party, all the people, sounds and activities can cause anxiety in your pets. And most pets are extremely fearful of fireworks. So create a safe room for your dog and/or cat to retreat to de-stress. Put their favorite beds, blankets and toys in the room. Keep fresh water and maybe even a special treat in the room. Turn on some soothing music (if that appeals to your pets) to help drown out the party noise. And make sure your guests know that this is your pet’s safe space so they do not disturb them.

For your dog or cat to have a happy Fourth of July, all they need is to feel safe and comfortable. You can do that by giving them a special treat of extra outdoor time in the morning, a new toy or pet snack in the afternoon, and a soothing environment to go to when they are nervous.

Happy Fourth of July!



Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips

It’s almost here: barbeques, swimming pools, friends, families and fireworks. We all love going to or hosting a 4th of July party. These celebrations can pose serious threats to our pet’s health. So in order to keep your dog and cat safe, follow these simple tips for your event this 4th.

    • Never keep alcoholic beverages unattended and where a pet can reach them. And remember, if your dog tends to be creative to get to things he or she wants, you need to take extra precautions. Notice where you leave your drinks and take into account if your pet can jump up on a chair and get to a beverage sitting on the table next to the chair. Alcohol is poisonous to pets and if too much is ingested, they can become severely weak and even go into a coma. Keep your beverages up high with nothing your dog or cat can use as a ladder to reach them.
    • It’s a great idea to apply sunscreen and bug repellent to your pet when they are outdoors for an extended period of time. Dogs and cats can both get sunburns as well as nasty bug bites. Always use products approved for pets on your dog or cat. The chemical DEET is often found in popular bug repellants humans use, but DEET can lead to neurological problems in dogs and cats. Never use sunscreen or insect repellent on your pet unless it is labeled safe for animals.
    • Keep party items away from your pets and out of their reach. Things like matches and lighter fluid used for grilling can cause severe respiratory problems in your pet if accidentally ingested. Glow jewelry is popular with adults and kids alike during times of celebration, but never put the jewelry on your pet. The substance that makes it glow is highly toxic to pets. Also popular items to use in the backyard, like citronella candles and insect coils and oils to keep bugs away, are extremely harmful to your pet if ingested. So if you have these items on hand at your gathering, make sure that your dog or cat can not get to them at any time.
    • We all love to pamper our pets and include them in the family fun. But feeding them “people food” that they are not used to eating is not a good way to pamper pets. Dogs and cats have very sensitive digestive systems and any change in their diet can cause digestive distress. Plus, many human foods that we consider either treats or healthy snacks can be toxic to pets. So when your pup begs for a bite of hotdog, just say no. Reach for their normal pet treats instead.

Avoid giving your dog human food this 4th of July. They may be disappointed, but their tummies will thank you!

  • Finally, remember that this can be a stressful time for even the most well adjusted pet. Dogs and cats are often overwhelmed by large crowds, different noises, and loud fireworks. When going to a 4th of July celebration that may be too much for your dog to handle, you may want to keep them home in a safe place instead. And if the party is at your house, make sure your pets have a comfortable and safe room to retreat to when they start to feel a little jittery.

Happy Fourth of July everyone!



How to Ease Your Dog’s Fear of Fireworks

It’s almost July 4th and that means barbeques, parties and fireworks. Some dogs don’t mind fireworks while others are extremely fearful. So for some dog parents, the 4th of the July is less of a holiday and more of a stressful evening with their pup. But there is hope. Try these tips and tricks to help calm your dog during this stressful time.

The reason dogs are afraid of fireworks is simple; it’s because they are loud. A dog’s hearing is extremely sensitive. To dogs, the sound of a firework boom is like an explosion right outside their house. So no wonder a lot of dogs are afraid!

Rule number 1 for calming your dog during this time is for you to stay calm. Many times pup parents get anxious before the fireworks begin because they know that their dog is going to become overwhelmed by the noise. Mom’s and Dad’s start dreading the trembling, whining, panting and pacing that many dogs exhibit when they are fearful. Your pup can pick up on this anxiety and it will make the event even scarier for them. Their logic is much like a child’s; if Mom & Dad are scared or anxious, then something bad is happening. So if you stay calm, you will make the experience less frightening for your dog.

A great idea is to teach your dog to associate loud noises, such as fireworks or thunder, with something positive. If you took any psychology course throughout your education, you will remember the experiment by the scientist Pavlov. He trained dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell ringing through what is called conditioning. He conditioned the dogs to start salivating by ringing the bell, and then giving them food. He continued to do this for a while and eventually the dog learned that when the bell rang, he got food. Before long, the dog got excited and his mouth started watering when he heard the bell. He associated the bell with a good thing, being fed. So you can start associating loud noises with a good thing, such as treats. Since we don’t have storms and fireworks every day, you can find a CD or DVD of storm sounds and fireworks to work on training your dog. Soon, just upon hearing a loud noise, your dog will begin to salivate instead of tremble!

Finally, make sure your dog is in a safe indoor environment the evening of July 4th. Dogs have a tendency to flee when they are scared, so if left outdoors he or she may try to escape. If they are left alone indoors, make sure things that can harm them are out of their reach. When a dog becomes fearful, they have a tendency to act out their fear in the form of destruction. So make sure all electric cords, small toys, and any other item a dog may easily destroy is out of the way. Make the environment safe and comfortable for them by adding their favorites toys, blankets, and treats.

Other remedies for noise fear in dogs include medications (ask your veterinarian before trying) and thundershirts.

I hope you and your pup have a happy and fear-less 4th of July!



Keeping Your Dog Cool in the Summer Heat: Daily Walks

With the heat wave upon us, most of us are avoiding going outside and staying in the air conditioning during the day. That’s a great way to stay cool, but what about your dog that needs daily walks for exercise and potty breaks? Both you and your pup need to follow these survival tips to beat the heat during your walks.

Beat the Heat this Summer!

Tip 1: Go for early morning and late night walks if possible. Since these times are the coolest parts of the day, make an effort to get your walks in during these times. Usually between 10am and 5pm are the hottest times of the day, so avoid long walks during this time.

Tip 2: Watch your dog for signs of dehydration. Excessive panting, drooling, unusual fatigue and bloodshot eyes are signs of overheating and dehydration. If you notice these signs, get your dog to a cool place and give water immediately. And remember, dogs with thicker coats and darker cooler fur tend to overheat quicker than those with lighter coats.

Tip 3: Keep your dog hydrated! Carry a bottle of water on your walk with a collapsible dog bowl so you and your dog can have water breaks in the heat.

Tip 4: Avoid walking on the asphalt during the heat of the day. Not only is the asphalt hotter than the sidewalk or grassier areas, but it can burn your dogs sensitive paws. Choose the sidewalk or grass instead. If you can not avoid walking on asphalt, invest in doggie booties. These shoes will keep your dog’s feet from burning and help him or her stay cooler since they will absorb less heat through their paws.

Tip 5: If you must take your dog out during the heat of the day, make sure it is a short walk to do their duty only. Try to stay on a shaded path, away from asphalt if possible. Do not give your dog outside exercise during the heat wave. Instead, play with them inside for exercise.

Following these tips will help you stay happy, healthy and cool this summer. See you out early tomorrow morning for a walk!



Proper Nutrition for Your Senior Dog

Did you know that dogs are considered seniors at about 7 to 12 years of age, depending upon size and breed? As a general rule, the smaller the dog, the longer it takes to show signs of aging. Lately I’ve noticed some of my puppy friends are slowing down a bit. Abby & JoJo are starting to rest more and are even getting grey hairs. And I don’t get to play as much with my friend Caroline anymore because her joints are not as strong as they used to be. But let me tell you, these senior pups are still as sharp as they ever were and loving life. That’s because their Mommy’s and Daddy’s help keep them in tip-top shape. One way they do that is through their diet.

Make sure to feed your senior dog specially formulated food for optimal health.

One easy thing to do when your pup reaches senior age is to switch them from adult dog food to the senior formula. Senior formula’s have special vitamins and minerals to help decrease the most common problems of senior dogs. As a dog ages, just as a human ages, their bodies change. Their metabolisms slow down, so it’s easier for them to gain weight. They can start to lose muscle mass, their skin and coat start changing, they can develop arthritis and dental issues. Plus as dogs age, it’s more difficult for them to fight off illnesses and infections. Feeding senior dogs’ specially formulated food for older pups can help decrease a lot of the common aging problems.

Since senior dogs put on weight easier than younger dogs, you need to pay close attention to their calorie intake. If you keep feeding them as much as you did when they were younger, they most likely will gain weight. Switching to a lower calorie food or lowering the amount of food and/or treats you feed your dog is the best way to avoid pet obesity. If you choose to lessen the amount of food in your dog’s diet, do so gradually. Like humans, your pups can become very hungry if you dramatically lower the amount of food they are eating.

And make sure your senior dog is getting plenty of protein. Not only does protein help your dog feel fuller for a longer period of time, but it helps maintain their muscle mass. Check with your veterinarian for specifics on the amount and type of food your senior dog should be eating.

A dog’s diet is important at any age, but by paying special attention to your senior dog’s nutrition needs, you can help him or her live a longer, healthier and happier life.



How to Help Your Dog Deal with Separation Anxiety

Last week we talked about what separation anxiety is and how dogs exhibit signs of separation anxiety. Today I want to talk about how dog Mom’s and Dad’s can help their pup if she or he has separation anxiety. There are training techniques out there to help your dog deal with his anxiety and fear when you are gone. It may be difficult, and can take a while, but training is always advised before turning to medications for your dog.

One way to help solve the problem of separation anxiety is keeping your dog in a confined area when you area away. This can be as simple as buying a crate for your dog to stay in anytime you leave the house. This is best used when you are leaving home for a short period of time. If a crate is not available or your dog does not react well to being crated, then try limiting the dog’s access to one room in the home while you are away. Make sure this room does not have any easily accessible items to destroy and take an effort to make the room and/or the crate as comfortable as you can for the dog. Do not make the room or crate punishment, but a safe place for your dog to spend time. Put blankets, beds and your dog’s favorite toys in the room to surround him with his favorite things. When leaving the room, do not make a big deal of it but just casually leave. To get your pup used to the room and/or crate, leave him alone for a few minutes in the beginning, and return with praise and treats. Continue doing this method, leaving him alone for longer time periods until he is comfortable for several hours at a time. Soon the crate or room will become a safe and happy place for your pup while you are away. If you are gone for long periods of time, it’s good to have someone check in on your dog and let them go outside to go to the bathroom. Pet sitters are great for this!

A crate can give a dog a sense of security and safety while you are away.

Exercise is always a great way to relieve stress in an anxious dog. Before you leave the home, take your pup for a long walk or run, depending on his or her fitness level. Not only does this help your pup blow off steam, but it also makes him or her too tired to act out when you are gone.

Leaving your dog with interactive toys is also a good way to keep him busy, get some exercise for stress release and deter his attention from his anxiety. Chew toys, bones and treat dispensing toys are great activities for a dog with separation anxiety to get rid of some stress without destroying your home.

If the separation anxiety symptoms still persist, or if the case is severe, consult your veterinarian. They may find it is necessary to medicate your dog to relieve his or her symptoms.

Remember to be patient and never punish your dog for acting out when they are fearful. Instead, try to find ways to calm your dog and help him or her feel safe while you are away.





The Definition and Cause of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Did you know about 10% of puppies and dogs experience separation anxiety? Separation anxiety is characterized by destructive or bad behavior while the dog’s parents are away. A dog may bark excessively, destroy items in the home, or even harm himself. You may notice that your dog chews the furniture, the woodwork in your home, or your clothes while you are away. Your neighbors may complain that your pup constantly barks while you are away. And sometimes your dog may urinate or defecate on the floor while you area gone. These actions are not because they are “bad dogs” but because they are experiencing separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is defined as acting out, usually with “bad” behavior, do to unpleasant feelings or nervousness when left alone.

No one knows what exactly causes separation anxiety, but there is a strong belief that separation anxiety is due to a dog’s strong bond and dependence on their pet parents. Dogs are pack animals. In the wild, they were always around other dogs and relied on them for safety and comfort. So dogs naturally enjoy being around others, whether it’s other dogs or people. And when they are left alone, they begin to feel anxious and nervous, and thus act out on your home.

Typically a dog that shows signs of separation anxiety was taken from his or her mother too soon as a puppy or they were neglected by their previous owners. When you leave the home, they may think you will never return and thus become overwhelmed with anxiety and act out in fear. The emotions dogs with separation anxiety feel are similar to that of a human anxiety attack. They are intense and scary, and a dog’s best way to deal with fear is to attack, and many times these attacks are on your possessions.

Other times separation anxiety may be brought on by a traumatic experience. The dog may have been abused by a previous owner or lived through disaster, like a house fire or tornado. The dogs who survived Hurricane Katrina have been noted to have severe separation anxiety now due to the trauma from life during and after the storm. The horrible things they lived through create a constant fear in them, and their anxiety gets worse when their beloved pet parents leave the home.

Dealing with separation anxiety is not an easy matter, but it can be done. Luckily my brothers, sisters and I have never had to go through this, but many dogs have.

Stay tuned for tips on how to help your dog if you notice signs of separation anxiety.




How to Safely Take Your Dog for a Hike

Around this time of year my Mommy & Daddy want to spend as much time playing outside as possible. My Mommy & Daddy like to go for hikes in the local parks and they sometimes bring me. I love to hike! It’s a great way to get some exercise, see new sights, smell new smells, and experience new things. Plus I like to meet all the other people and doggies on the trails! If you like hiking and are thinking of taking your pup along the next time you go, follow these simple tips for a safe and fun trip.

First, make sure your dog is healthy enough to go hiking. Your dog should be getting annual physical exams to make sure they are healthy inside and out. Your pup should be clear of any joint or muscle problem, as well as any major medical disorder. If your pup has a problem joint or an illness, they should not go on the trails. Also, growing puppies under 1 year and senior dogs should avoid hiking. Even if they seem to have the energy, they are more prone to muscle and joint damage, so they should stick to your neighborhood and local parks.

Just like humans, dogs need to be in good shape to go for a hike. You want to avoid being a weekend warrior human and doggie. If you and your dog have not exercised (gone on long walks or jogs) in a while, then you should not try hiking. Build up your endurance by taking longer walks or try jogging before you hit the trails. If one or both of you do not have the endurance and fitness level to survive the hike, then you risk injury and a lot of soreness the next day. And don’t just think the day after exercise soreness is just for people, dogs get that muscle soreness too! So work up our fitness levels until we can safely go to the top of the trail with no regrets the next day.

You should always keep your dog on a leash in a public area. This is not only for the safety of others but for your dog as well. We may decide to chase after a small critter in the woods and get ourselves and you in a sticky situation. Countless things can happen if we go off trail, from getting cut on a fallen branch, twisting a joint, or getting bitten by a snake. To avoid the even small chance that we may go exploring on our own, keep us on a leash.

Finally, when going on a hike, you should always bring a backpack with water, a portable dog dish, a first aid kit for you and your pup, sunscreen for yourself and your dog, and small protein snacks for the dog. Always keep your cell phone with you and have your pet’s ID tags secured to his or her collar before hitting the trails. These “just in case” items may come in handy.

If you follow these simple guidelines, you and your dog can have a great time on a hike together! See you on the trails!



The Benefits of Outside Time for Your Dog

Most dogs love to be outside! I know I do! Lately with the warmer weather, I spend most of my time outside in our back yard. I love to run, play with my brothers and sisters or just lie down and soak in the warm sunbeams. Did you know that being outside is good for your dog? Outside time benefits our emotional health and our physical health.

A lot of dogs, like a lot of humans, don’t get enough exercise. With people becoming busier and busier, their lack of activity has translated to their pets. It’s very difficult for a dog, big or small, to get enough exercise indoors. Sure we will walk around, maybe chase a ball or play with our brothers and sisters while you are away or busy in the home, but most of the time we will spend our time napping. Being outdoors helps motivate us to move, whether it’s going on a walk or chasing a toy in the yard. It helps end the sedentary lifestyles of puppies and humans alike! Plus it helps us maintain a healthy weight, which translates into better overall health for your dog.

Have you ever noticed that your dog tends to either nap or follow you around the house a lot? Do you know why? Most of the time it’s because we are bored! And we are either sleeping away our boredom or looking to you for entertainment. Some pups actually may become destructive due to boredom. They create their own fun activity by chewing on your favorite shoe or clawing at your furniture. This may end puppy boredom, but it definitely does not create a happy dog owner. Spending more time outside playing or walking will help end our boredom. We are provided with a lot of stimuli, different sights, sounds and smells, that we are not exposed to inside. This keeps our minds active and alert. Plus the extra activity tires us out so we are less likely to be under foot or destroying your home décor.

Lastly, being in the sunlight helps keep our coats healthy and beautiful. When exposed to the sunlight and changing temperatures, our coats will shed on a normal cycle. Keeping on a regular shedding schedule, while it may be annoying to dog parents, is good for a dog’s coat. It makes our fur fuller and healthier. Sunlight also helps us absorb and utilize vitamins that keep us healthy and strong.

So take advantage of the longer daylight hours and beautiful weather by spending time outdoors with your dog. There are countless things you can do, from going for a walk around the neighborhood, visiting the local dog park, chasing a ball in your yard, or letting your dog chew on their favorite toy on the deck. Have fun!