Category: “Safety”

Summer is Coming!

Summer is Coming!

Summer is coming this month and we all know how and why we, as humans, should avoid excessive time in the sun. It’s just as important to protect our dogs from excessive time in the sun as it is for us. Many of us are not aware that even though a dog doesn’t have to be slathered with sunscreen as we may do to ourselves, certain key dog areas should be protected and a dog’s overall time in the sun should be taken into consideration.

Hairless breeds (such as a Chinese Crested) or dogs who’ve recently been shaved run a greater risk of being sunburned and possibly developing sun-induced tumors. Even hairy dogs dozing on their backs in the sun run the risk of getting burned on that vulnerable stretch of exposed skin between their hind legs which, in most breeds, is unprotected by hair. Also, a dog’s nose and snout are prone to sun-induced tumors–especially dogs with pink or pink-spotted snouts. So, be sure to provide ample shade for dogs–especially at midday–and don’t let any dog who loves being out in the sun stay out there too long.

Never apply zinc oxide to any part of your dog as it is toxic if licked off. Use any natural sunscreen labeled for animals with an SPF of 15 or higher.

Be aware that many popular brands of sunscreen we are familiar with may contain harmful chemicals and the ingestion of such may result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and lethargy in pets.

If your dog does sustain a sunburn, give him or her a soothing, healing bath in cool water with some sort of therapeutic dog shampoo designed for that purpose. It’s a good idea to add a few drops of therapeutic oil to the bath water too. Consult your vet or a reputable pet store owner for further information regarding anything mentioned above.

What else can you do to protect your pet from some summer activities such as barbecuing and pool parties?

Keep citronella candles, insect coils, and oil products out of your pet’s reach. If ingested, these products can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression.

Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pet’s reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates which if swallowed could result in difficulty breathing or, in severe cases, kidney disease.

Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages can be poisonous to pets and your dog could become extremely weak, severely depressed, or possibly go into a coma if too much alcohol is ingested.

As with most things in life, being responsible, knowledgeable, and using common sense are some of the best defenses against any problems with pets or humans!

Dental Disease in Dogs

teethDental disease is the most commonly-diagnosed health problem in dogs and can lead to painful mouth infections. These infections can spread and cause other health problems; sometimes, in the most severe cases, these infections can become life-threatening. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), approximately 80% of dogs begin showing signs of dental disease by the time they turn three.

Food particles will naturally accumulate on and between tooth surfaces when your pet eats. Bacteria in the mouth digest these particles to form plaque which is the sticky yellow film seen on the teeth. As this infection spreads, dental disease starts.

When enough plaque builds up, these bacteria cause infection of the gums (gingivitis) which is often seen as a red line along the teeth. If enough time passes, plaque hardens to form tartar which binds the infection to the tooth surface and helps push bacteria and debris under the gum line. Periodontal disease is this deeper infection of the teeth and tooth roots which ultimately results in the loss of infected teeth.

Pets that exclusively eat hard food have fewer problems than pets that eat any amount of canned, semi-moist, or table foods. Food particles are constantly accumulating on the teeth, but soft food types seem to speed up the process as much as three times the normal rate.

Dirty teeth may smell and look bad, but the damage that you don’t see is much worse. The gum tissue has an extensive blood supply; and when periodontal infection starts, bacteria gets into your pet’s circulatory system and may eventually lead to heart, liver, kidney, bone/joint disease, and possible organ failure.

What can one do to identify and prevent dental problems in dogs?

•It is suggested by many veterinarians that you can get a good idea of what’s going on in your dog’s mouth by just looking at your dog’s gums. Healthy gums are pink, as opposed to red, and have no buildup of tartar along the gum line. In addition, a healthy mouth does not produce bad breath. Bad breath and possibly drooling or frequent licking may be the first signs of dental disease.

•Have your veterinarian perform an oral exam during each annual visit. Older dogs should be given special attention as they can get abscesses with no easily-visible signs. There is the possibility that your dog may have to be sedated in order for a thorough examination to be performed.

•Try to brush you dog’s teeth on a regular basis. Start slowly by simply handling your dog’s mouth several times a day. After your dog is comfortable with this, try brushing the outside surfaces of the teeth with your finger, a wet gauze sponge, or even a small toothbrush. If your dog is comfortable with this, start using some type of paste or solution when brushing. Use a flavored toothpaste made especially for dogs–not your own toothpaste. Using your own toothpaste is not a good idea as most human products are high in detergent content which is not good for dogs as they can’t rinse and spit after brushing as we can.

•It is recommend that you feed your dog only dry hard chow as this will greatly slow the buildup of plaque. Any amount of soft food fed may mean that more professional care will be needed. In addition to brushing, treats and rawhide chew toys can help maintain your dog’s dental health. Look for a treat with a seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) as it’s guaranteed to be a good dental treat or food.

You can protect your dog’s teeth just like you protect your own with daily brushing and regular checkups. The major difference between your dental health and your dog’s is that your dog can’t tell you about any dental problems going on so you have to be responsible and check your dog’s mouth regularly. Prevention is the key with dental disease and one should consider beginning a dental routine with your dog as soon as possible. If you put as much emphasis on taking care of your dog’s teeth as you do your own, then dental disease shouldn’t be a problem. Remember: “Prevention Pays. Neglect Costs.”

Safely Removing a Tick from your Dog

ticksTicks feed on your dog’s blood when they attach to his/her skin. Once they grab hold, they are difficult to remove. Removing ticks promptly is essential for keeping your pet healthy as they carry numerous diseases–some of which can be deadly. But there is more to removing a tick than just pulling it out. Unless you do it correctly, your pet may remain in danger.

Even though it’s important getting a tick off your pet quickly, veterinarians advise staying calm and not rushing getting a tick off your pet. Moving too fast when removing a tick could potentially create more problems for your pet and for you. It may be a good idea to have someone to help you to distract, sooth, or hold your dog still to prevent your pet squirming and trying to get away before you’re done.

Also, be aware that the whole tick removal process may be scary for your dog so not only is it a good idea to stay calm, but it’s also a good idea having some treats ready to give your dog as soon as the procedure is over. This may make it easier removing any future ticks.

•Put on latex or rubber gloves and use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or special tick-removal instruments to remove an attached tick. These special devices allow one to remove the tick without squeezing the tick’s body. This is very important as you don’t want to crush the tick–leting harmful bacteria enter your pet’s bloodstream–and you don’t want to have direct contact with the tick or your pet’s bite area either. Ticks can transmit diseases that may also enter your bloodstream through breaks in your skin or through mucous membranes so avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

•Using the tweezers or other instrument, grab the tick by the head or mouthparts right where it entered the skin. Do not grasp the tick by the body. Pull firmly and steadily directly outward keeping a steady hand. Do not twist the tick as you are pulling.

•Do not use your fingers to remove or dispose of the tick and do not squash the tick with your fingers. Do not apply petroleum jelly, a hot match, or alcohol as this will not cause the tick to back out as commonly thought. In fact, these irritants may cause the tick to deposit more disease-carrying saliva in the wound.

•Do not flush the tick down the toilet as that doesn’t kill it. After removing the tick, be ready with something to put the tick in–the best option is a screw-top jar containing some rubbing alcohol. It’s actually best to hold on to it for a while in case your pet falls ill from the bite and the tick has to be tested by your vet for certain diseases.

•Clean up thoroughly by disinfecting the bite site and washing your hands with soap and water even with wearing gloves. Sterilize your tweezers with alcohol or by carefully running them over a flame. Closely monitor the bite area for a few weeks for any signs of localized infection. If the area is already red and inflamed, or becomes so later, please·bring your pet and your jarred tick to your veterinarian for evaluation.

If you don’t want to be bothered with constantly removing ticks from your dog but feel topical medications are too expensive, consider getting a tick collar for your dog. However, tick collars are not as good as topical medications. Consult your vet for product recommendations.

To keep your dog healthy, examine his skin for any signs of ticks on a regular basis. Removing ticks from your dog is not complicated; to prevent any complications, you have to do it correctly by following the suggestions above!

The Importance of Pet ID Tags

tagsDid you know that nearly one out of every three pets will get lost at some point during their lifetime? Without proper identification, 90% of lost pets never return home.

No one really expects their pet to get lost–even when you take the best of precautions. Accidents can happen–gardeners leave gates open, natural disasters separate pets from their owners, and some resourceful pets will often find a way out of even the most secure yard.

All pet owners are encouraged to ensure that their pets have proper identification at all times. Providing your pet with proper identification is the most important precaution you can take to dramatically maximize your chances of being reunited with a lost pet. Recommended forms of identification are: an ID tag a license from your local animal control or municipality a microchip.

We all know that an ID tag is a small metallic or plastic tag affixed to your pet’s collar that can be personalized with your contact information. A basic pet ID tag should contain a pet’s name and contact phone number. It’s also equally important that the information on the ID tag remains up-to-date. After all, how can you expect to be reunited with your pet if you haven’t kept your information on the tag current? Pet ID tags are available at most pet supply stores and can also be purchased through a number of online vendors.

One should also consider the durability and readability of the pet ID tag. A readable tag is critical for a lost pet. Consider getting an engraved tag as it is often easier to read and will last longer than ink-printed tags. Also, a pet may be able to chew through a plastic tag and render it unreadable.

A pet license is proof that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies and is registered with the jurisdiction where you reside. Pet licenses are similar to ID tags; they are generally small metallic or plastic tags that should be affixed to your pet’s collar at all times. Licensing a pet is another safeguard against having a lost pet stay lost. There are many times that only the license tag remains on a collar; and, if the license is current, the owner’s name and phone number can be obtained.

Lastly, a microchip is a device implanted beneath an animal’s skin which contains a unique series of numbers and letters that would be used to identify the lost animal. These same numbers and letters are also printed on a microchip tag that should also go on your pet’s collar. The microchip tag alerts someone that your pet is microchipped and contact information may be available. Even if a pet isn’t wearing a mircochip, a lost pet may be brought to a vet’s office or an animal shelter and that animal will be “scanned” to see if it has a microchip. If an owner’s current contact information is registered with the microchip company, the owner can be contacted regarding the lost dog. If an owner doesn’t keep the information current, there the possibility that no contact could be made and the dog remains lost.

It is important that all pets have both permanent and visible forms of ID. Lost pets often lose their collar and ID tag/license and can only be identified by their microchip. Conversely, since microchips are embedded under the skin, ID tags and licenses serve as physical proof of ownership that alerts someone who has found your pet that he or she has an owner. Multiple forms of ID drastically increases the likelihood that you will be reunited with your lost pet.

It is vital that each pet owner takes the time to put some form of ID on their pet and checks often to make sure the ID remains on the collar. It takes such a short time to ID your pet–can you think of any excuse for you not taking the time to do so? So many animals are put to sleep each year because the pet owner didn’t take the time to place an ID tag on them. Imagine the pain and suffering that can be avoided by doing this one small task that makes the difference between losing your pet forever or you and your pet remaining together for life!

Remember: Proper and current identification is your lost pet’s path home to you!



911Most “pet parents” are very responsible and try to do all the right things to keep their dog safe and sound. Even if you do all the right things, accidents do happen. If you are far away from a clinic, you may have to take care of your dog yourself. Have your veterinarian tell you how to put together a first aid kit and show you how to use the equipment properly. (Refer to last month’s Tip of the Month for what should be included in a first aid kit.) But, do you know what to do if your dog is injured or facing a real emergency situation?

First, be prepared to get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible. That means having the closest emergency veterinarian’s office number on speed dial and entered into your cell phone. If you’re out of town, have the number for emergency medical support handy. Also, ask your vet what you should do in case of emergency. Find out whether your animal hospital is open 24 hours or whether they refer emergency cases on evenings and weekends. If they refer, get the name, address, and phone number of the emergency facility they refer to.

Assess the damage. What are the injuries?–you’ll need to tell the veterinarian what injuries you’ve noticed. In the event of a canine emergency, it is important to immediately perform any life-saving measures needed to preserve the dog’s life and then stabilize the dog as quickly as possible before heading to a veterinarian. The first few moments after an emergency has occurred are the most important and your quick response could save a dog’s life.

If your dog doesn’t have a pulse, you should perform CPR. If your dog isn’t breathing, you’ll have to resuscitate him. Your veterinarian can show you how to do this properly. Ask your veterinarian about canine CPR before you have an emergency. There are also DVD’s and videos on canine CPR available. It’s always good to be prepared before an emergency arises.

Injured dogs often don’t want to be handled and may bite if approached–even the most gentle dog will bite when in pain. Injured animals have a strong instinct to leave the area of the accident and to hide in order to protect themselves. In nature, this instinct serves to keep injured animals safe from predators that may exploit an animal’s injury for their own gain. Keeping this instinct in mind, it is important to approach an injured animal slowly while talking to the animal in a calm and non-threatening voice. It may also be necessary to put a muzzle on your dog so that your dog can be attended to. In a pinch, a leash, belt, or tie can act as a temporary muzzle. Do not muzzle the dog if there is any trouble breathing or if there is a sucking chest wound.

Once an emergency has occurred, the first thing to do is to check the dog’s ABC’s: airway, breathing, and circulation. If the dog is not breathing and the airway seems obstructed, visually check for any obstruction that could be blocking the dog’s airway; if necessary, perform the canine Heimlich maneuver. If the airway is open, but the dog isn’t breathing, canine CPR should be carried out at once.

Once the dog’s ABC’s have been checked, look for any signs of bleeding, broken bones, swelling, bruising of the skin or limbs, or any objects which have hurt the dog (gunshot wound, knives, glass, and other foreign objects).

If there are obvious broken bones, try to slip something sturdy under the dog to act as a stretcher. If there isn’t something sturdy, you may be able to create a makeshift stretcher from blankets.

If the dog is bleeding, control bleeding by applying direct pressure to the wound. If a foreign object has broken the dog’s skin, never remove the object–try to control bleeding around the object. Once any life-threatening bleeding is addressed, stabilize any injured areas and prepare the dog for immediate transport.

If there are no signs of injury to the dog, quickly check the dog’s temperature for any signs of heat stroke (hyperthermia) or extreme cold (hypothermia) before beginning transport. If the dog is suffering from these conditions, cool the dog down (or warm the dog up in the event of hypothermia) before beginning transport.

Keep the injured animal from moving as much as possible and try to stabilize any injuries before transport. Remember, you know your pet better than anyone else. If you notice your pet behaving in a way that’s unusual, or if something just doesn’t seem right, you may have picked up on a subtle sign of a real problem. To find out, you can call your veterinary hospital or an emergency animal hospital near you. By asking a few questions over the phone, an emergency veterinarian should be able to tell you whether you should bring your pet in right away or whether an examination during your hospital’s normal office hours is ok. Even if you find out nothing’s wrong, you’ll be glad knowing your pet isn’t in any immediate danger..


The Importance of Crate Training

crateDid you know that crate training uses a dog’s natural instincts as a den animal? A wild dog’s den is his home, a place to sleep, hide from danger, and raise a family. The crate becomes your dog’s den– an ideal spot to snooze, get away from it all, or take refuge during a thunderstorm.

The primary use for a crate is housetraining–the main concept being that dogs don’t like to soil their dens. A crate aids greatly in housetraining and keeping a puppy out of things when it can’t be watched. The crate can also limit access to the rest of the house while your dog learns other rules, such as not to chew on furniture. It also gives adult dogs a safe place to go and relax when needed. Crates are also great when traveling as it’s a little piece of home for them and a safe way to transport your dog in the car.

However, as good as crates can be, we must remember that a crate isn’t a magical solution to everything. If not used correctly, a dog can feel trapped and frustrated. One should never use the crate as a punishment. Your dog will come to fear the crate and refuse to enter it if it’s used in that way.

Also, a dog shouldn’t be left in a crate for too long a period of time. A dog that’s crated day and night doesn’t get enough exercise or human interaction and can become depressed or anxious. You may have to change your schedule, hire a pet sitter, or take your dog to a doggie daycare facility to reduce the amount of time he must spend in his crate every day.

Selecting a crate:

The first step in crate training is purchasing an appropriate crate for your dog. Several types of crates are available: plastic (often called “flight kennels”), fabric on a collapsible, rigid frame, and collapsible metal pens. Crates come in different sizes and can be purchased at most pet supply stores or pet supply catalogs. Here are some do’s and don’ts about selecting a crate:

DO: Select a crate that’s big enough for your dog to enter standing, turn around in comfortably, and lie down in.

DON’T: Buy a crate that is too large for your dog if you are using the crate for house training. If you have a puppy and want to purchase a crate that will be an appropriate size when he is an adult, DO purchase a crate that has dividers so you can adjust crate space as the dog grows.

DO: Consider future uses of the crate when purchasing. Plan on flying with your dog? Purchase an airline-approved crate. If you plan on using your crate when you go camping, a collapsible, soft-sided crate may be preferable, but…

DON’T: Buy a soft-sided crate if your dog likes to chew on fabric!

The Crate Training Process:

The goal of crate training is to create an atmosphere where your dog is relaxed and happy while in the crate and will go in voluntarily for no other reason than to “get away from it all.” Here are some dos and don’ts of crating your dog.

DO: Keep the crate in a living area where the dog will not feel lonely. Place the crate in an easily accessible and comfortable place so your dog can associate it as their safety “den” or “cave.” Leave the door open when you’re home so your dog can go in and out as they please. Always praise him/her when they go in on their own and reward them with a treat.

DO: Acclimate your dog to the crate slowly and make experiences with the crate very positive for the dog. Start out with very short periods of time in the crate.

DO: Keep items that your dog associates as “security items” within the crate such as a blanket or a teddy bear. Give your dog something to do in the crate. Items that should only be given supervised: marrow bones (not for powerchewers!), stuffed toys, chew ropes, bully sticks, pressed rawhide, etc. Depending on your dog and how he handles toys, you may be able to leave stuffed Kongs or Nylabones with your dog in your absence.

DO: Leave the crate door open and reward him whenever he chooses to relax in his crate.

DO: Continue to praise the dog and reassure him/her that you’ll be back once it is time to leave and shut the crate door. It helps to turn on the radio or music in your absence. If you live in a quiet house without a lot of people, classical music is soothing. Or if your dog is used to a lot of talk/noise in the house, talk-radio is helpful. Also there are “doggie entertainment” videos which play on “loop” for them to watch if he/she has an interest in TV. This will help them realize that crate-time is just down-time and nothing to be feared.

DO: Consider feeding your dog in his crate to reinforce the positive aspects of the experience.

DO: Consider getting an extra crate for the bedroom, if you prefer not to share your bed with the dog!

DON’T: Make the crate a predictor of your absence (dog is only crated when you are leaving).

DON’T: Use the crate for long-term confinement. If your dog cannot hold it for as long as they will be alone for, you must provide some opportunity for him to relieve himself using potty pads, a dog door, or a dog walker/pet sitter. Crating him for longer than he can hold it is cruel and does not set your dog up for success. Puppies under six months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time. They can’t control their bladders and bowels for that long. The same goes for adult dogs that are being house trained. Physically, they can hold it, but they don’t know they’re supposed to yet.

DON’T: Put a dog with destructive separation anxiety in a crate. Please consult a behavior professional for assistance, as dogs with severe separation anxiety can harm themselves if crating is done inappropriately.

DON’T: Let your dog out of his crate when he is whining or barking, as this will reinforce the behavior. Wait for quiet before letting your dog out of his crate.

DON’T: Put bedding in the crate until your dog is reliably house trained or if your dog will chew/ingest bedding. If the dog has earned the privilege of having bedding, make sure to wash the bedding frequently and thoroughly–especially during flea season.

Potential problems

Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether he’s whining to be let out of the crate or whether he needs to be let outside to eliminate. If you’ve followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn’t been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from his crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, he’ll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at him or pounding on the crate will only make things worse.

If the whining continues after you’ve ignored him for several minutes, use the phrase he associates with going outside to eliminate. If he responds and becomes excited, take him outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you’re convinced that your dog doesn’t need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore him until he stops whining. Don’t give in; if you do, you’ll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what he wants. If you’ve progressed gradually through the training steps and haven’t done too much too fast, you’ll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again.

Separation Anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won’t solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but he may injure himself in an attempt to escape from the crate. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counter-conditioning and desensitization procedures. You may want to consult a professional animal-behavior specialist for help.

If you choose not to crate your dog, you should at the very least teach your dog to accept being crated to give positive experiences with a crate. While it is true that crates can be useful house training aids, it is advisable that even housetrained dogs are taught to enjoy time in the crate. At any point in his life, your dog could fall ill or require emergency veterinary care, which may require crate time. Since illness and injury are already very stressful to dogs, it is better if they are acclimated to enjoying being crated to avoid additional stress during times of trauma.

Also, if you travel with your dog or that you might ever need to board your dog, it is also helpful to crate train them in advance. Like illness and injury, travel or being separated from the owner are both stressful events–training now can prevent undue stress on your dog later.

If you follow the dos and don’ts of crate training, your dog will enjoy his own special place–his own sanctuary. Just like you and me, every dog deserves a happy and soothing place to relax!