What ingredients make for good and bad dog food

November 25, 2008

 

With the many commercially prepared dog foods available on today’s
market, it is often quite difficult to tell which ones are better
than others and why.

First of all, you can’t judge by advertising which are the good and
bad dog foods. Many advertisers spend millions of dollars per year
advertising inferior foods. Unfortunately, a good indicator on
quality of food is price. Low priced foods are not always, but most
often, the lowest quality foods on the market.

You want to make sure that the adult dog food you are feeding is
22-25% protein and 15-19% fat. The protein should come from a good
quality source. Some dogs such as puppies, large breeds, and active
breeds have different protein and fat requirements. Make sure to
discuss this with your veterinarian to ensure proper feeding of
your dog.

In order for you to make an informed decision, you must know which
ingredients are better than others. When you look at a food label,
the following are the kinds of ingredients that you are looking
for: Human Grade Ingredients Chicken meal, Turkey meal, Fish meal,
Rice, Potatoes, Lamb meal, Potatoes, Rice, Sunflower Oil,
Vegetables and others. Good dog foods first four ingredients should
not be grains, but should consist of things like meat and proteins.
You also want to make sure it says chicken meal and not chicken as
the primary ingredient. If it says chicken only, this means that
the manufacturers are counting the entire chicken toward protein
value. This includes beaks, feathers, and feet. With chicken meal,
they are only counting the cooked down version of the protein. This
will ensure that your dog is getting the appropriate kind of
protein and not byproducts. Vitamins and fatty acids are also good
ingredients in dog foods. Some examples include Vitamin E, Omega 3
and 6, etc. These are very important for a healthy looking skin and
coat. Make sure the dog food is not laden with preservatives.

Some of the ingredients that you don’t want to see on your dog food
label
include: Inferior protein which consists of but not limited
to variations of the following: Wheat, Corn, Chicken by-products,
Soy, Gluten. These ingredients are hard to digest and can cause
health problems later on if used for a long period of time. Sugar
is another ingredient that you want to stay away from.

You are always better off purchasing food from a company that
spends time and money field testing their products. You can always
be sure that companies such as Purina, the Iams Company (which also
includes Eukanuba), Royal Canin, Nutro, Diamond, and Hill’s Science
Diet
are constantly testing their foods to provide the optimum
quality ingredients. These companies offer different grades of
food, however, from lower quality to premium quality so make sure
that you always read the labels. These are not the only companies
by any means who make good quality dog food. The important thing is
to read the label, do your research, ask questions of your
veterinarians and pet professionals and always be informed. People
who work at feed stores are usually a good resource and can help
you find good quality pet food. Breeders can also be a good source
for finding a quality food for your dog. Dog trainers will also
often have a good knowledge of proper nutrition.

You should always follow your veterinarian’s recommendation on food
as well. Many times dogs of certain ages or with certain health
conditions need to be on a prescription diet. While these diets are
often expensive, they do contain the proper nutrients that dogs in
these categories need. Many times owners will switch to a
commercial food because of cost or palatability concerns and the
dog’s health will go in to a decline. Your veterinary staff know
what is best for your particular dog.

While it is often confusing, proper dog nutrition is vital to the
health and longevity of your dog. By knowing what consists of good
quality ingredients and which ingredients to avoid, you can be
assured that you will choose the proper food for your dog. As
always, if you have questions, ask your veterinary staff for more
information.


Raw Meat vs. Dog Food: Which is better and why

November 19, 2008

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So you’ve got a new dog and you’re wondering what to feed him. The
market is full of commercial diets, and you’ve heard that some
people feed their dogs raw meat. What should you do?

Dogs are omnivores which mean they require meat, fiber, and other
nutrients to stay healthy. Generally, adult dogs need a diet that
consists of 22-25% protein and 15-19% fat, although puppies,
pregnant dogs, and active dogs will have different nutritional
requirements.

If you choose to feed your dog a commercial based diet, it is very
important to choose a high quality food. You want to make sure that
a good quality protein source such as lamb meal, chicken meal, or
turkey meal is the number one ingredient. You want to stay away
from foods that list a grain as the number one ingredient or
contain lots of byproducts and preservatives.

Many people choose to feed their dogs’ raw food or the BARF
(Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food) Diet.
This diet consists of raw meaty bones, vegetables, offal (the organ
part of the protein source), recreational bones, and proteins like
cottage cheese and eggs with the shells. Proponents of this diet
claim that it keeps their dogs healthier than commercially prepared
diets.

The following are some pros and cons of both diets:

Testing: People who advocate raw diets claim that the diet is tried
and true and has been tested positively for centuries on wild dogs.
They say that since commercial diets have been around since only
the 1950’s, there is no long term testing that has been done on
this food. Proponents of raw food claim that the increase in
allergies, dysplasia, and other health conditions is as a result of
dogs being fed commercial dog food.

People who believe in commercial dog food point to the millions of
dollars each year companies such as Purina, Iams, Hill’s, and Nutro
spend on scientific and field testing of their products. They
believe that commercial dog food contains all of the nutrients that
a dog needs to grow and be healthy and that since the BARF diet is
complicated, expensive, and difficult to prepare, many people do
not properly understand it and are not appropriately feeding their
dogs.

Grains: Advocates of raw feeding say that dogs cannot properly
digest grains and therefore do not feed them. They feel that the
commercial market uses grains because they are inexpensive fillers.

Proponents of commercial dog food say that as dogs are omnivores,
it is only natural that they require the nutritional benefits of
grains. They feel that people who feed raw food are depriving their
dogs of this nutrient.

Raw Ingredients vs. Cooked Ingredients: People who feed their dogs
raw food diets feel that nature intended for animals to eat their
food raw and that cooking damages the chemical makeup of foods and
that cooking the food actually damages an animal’s immune system.

Those that feel that commercial food is the way to go, claim that
there is no difference between cooking the animal’s food and
cooking human food. That all of the nutrients are still active in
cooked food providing healthy meals for animals.

Additives: People who believe in feeding their dogs’ raw food feel
that no additives are needed and that their animals are getting all
of the nutrients they require. They feel that the commercial food
companies use additives to enhance the palatability of their food
effectively “addicting” a dog to it.

Commercial food advocates say that additives such as omega 3 and 6
fatty acids are essential to giving the dog the proper balance of
nutrients he requires, while raw food is missing some essential
vitamins and minerals
.

Variety: Those who feed raw food feel that dogs need variety in
their diet and that commercial food is very boring for them.

Commercial food advocates say that dogs have very sensitive
digestive systems and that variety actually can cause things such
as vomiting and diarrhea.

Whether you choose to feed your dog the BARF diet or commercial
food, it is important to be educated on what a dog’s nutritional
requirements are. You should also consult your veterinarian for his
recommendation on diet.


Tips for keeping your dog fit and trim

November 17, 2008

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Just as with humans, one of the biggest health problems today for
dogs is obesity. Many owners think their pudgy dogs are adorable,
when in fact they are extremely unhealthy. Overweight dogs can
develop the same kinds of problems that overweight humans can, such
as diabetes mellitus, which can be very tricky to treat. Obesity
can also reduce your dog’s life expectancy.

If you are not sure if your dog is overweight, there is a very easy
way to do so visually and by touch. A dog of normal weight should
have an indentation at his waistline, and his ribs should be easily
felt under his skin. An overweight dog will not have a waistline
and there will be a thicker layer of fat over his ribs.

There are several factors that can contribute to obesity in dogs.
Among these are overfeeding, not enough exercises, health
conditions such as hyperthyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism, age,
gender, and breed. If your dog is overweight, the first thing you
should do is have your veterinarian do a full examination. This
will help rule out any underlying health conditions.

If no health conditions are present, the next thing you should look
at is the quality and quantity of food you are feeding your dog.
Many store brand and generic foods do not have the proper nutrients
required to keep your dog fit and healthy. If your dog is
overweight, you will want to choose a high quality food
specifically designed to be low in calories. Many prescription and
over the counter diets are available. Talk with your veterinary
staff to help determine which food is right for your dog. If you
will be switching to a new food, you will want to do this
gradually, over the period of about a week. This will help reduce
digestive problems like vomiting and loose stools. Feed your dog
the amount that the label or your veterinarian recommends.

While your dog is losing weight, ideally you should cut out all
treats. Many people feed their dogs the appropriate amount of food,
but do not realize how high in calories many treats are. Keep track
of what kinds of treats and how many you are giving your dog. You
may be amazed to find out that his caloric intake of treats is
greater than that in his food. If you must feed your dog treats
while he is dieting, choose healthy snacks like carrots or a low
calorie
manufactured treat such as Charlee Bears. You should also
never feed your dog leftovers. Not only is this unhealthy for dogs,
it can lead to unwanted behaviors such as begging. In general, your
leftovers do not have the proper balance of nutrients that dogs
require and are often higher in fat and calories than dogs should
have.

Proper nutrition is not the only factor in reducing weight in dogs.
You must provide them with appropriate amounts of exercise. Many
people do not understand that dogs require an awful lot of exercise
to maintain proper health. If your dog is overweight, you will want
to go for at least one walk in the morning and the evening for up
to 30 minutes each time, depending on the size of your dog. Dog
parks are an excellent place for both you and your dog to get
exercise. Sign up for a class like agility or flyball to help keep
your dog active. Play lots of games like fetch and Frisbee. You
have to be an active partner in helping your dog reduce his weight.

Weight loss in dogs should be very gradual. Dogs should only lose
between one and two percent of their overall weight per week. You
should weigh your dog on a regular basis to keep track of his
weight and to check your progress.

Dogs become overweight by overeating and inactivity. By following
the feeding guidelines set by your veterinarian, reducing the
amount of treats given, and increasing the amount of exercise and
activity your dog gets, you can help your dog lose weight and
become the healthy and happy dog you want him to be.


Responsible Dog Ownership

November 15, 2008

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What does it mean to be a responsible dog owner? For starters, it
means getting a dog for the right reasons. Dogs are meant to be our
companions and to share our lives with us. The right reasons to get
a dog are to help him become all that he can be, to properly feed
and exercise him, and to spend quality time socializing and
training him. But there are many wrong reasons to get a dog. Some
of these include: as a means of protection or to be a hobby
breeder. When dogs are purchased as a means of protection, most
people think this means keeping them away from other dogs and
people to make them more protective. By doing this, your dog is not
getting the socialization that he requires and as a result ends up
fearful, aggressive, and destructive. What invariably happens is
the dog bites someone and ends up getting euthanized. Reputable
breeders generally breed their dogs as a profession. They have
studied genetic lines and ensure that their puppies are healthy and
of good temperament. Breeding dogs is often very expensive, and
most hobby breeders are not ready for what they are getting
themselves into. Also, there is already an overpopulation of dogs
in this country. It is best to leave breeding to the professionals.

Responsible dog ownership begins BEFORE you get your dog. Make sure
to properly research which type of dog is right for you. Make sure
to discuss with your family who will be responsible for caring for
your dog
. Talk with your veterinarian about what kinds of costs you
must consider throughout your dog’s life. Make the commitment that
your dog will be cared for by you for the duration of his life. By
doing your homework before you even bring your dog home, you are
ensuring that you and your dog will be a good match, you know what
to expect financially, and that your dog will have a forever home.

Responsible dog ownership means properly socializing your dog.
Young puppies need to be exposed to a variety of other dogs,
people, and sensations to help them learn to not be afraid of new
situations. Puppies also require a lot of time and training.
Responsible dog owners understand that the demands of puppy hood
will be many. Puppies need to be housebroken, a task which often
requires a lot of time and patience. They need to learn basic
commands and manners and you need to learn how to properly
communicate with them.

Responsible dog ownership means taking your dog to the veterinarian
for regular healthy pet checkups. Usually at this time, your dog
will be vaccinated as well. All good owners know that dogs need to
be vaccinated on schedule to help protect them, the public, and
other dogs that they come into contact with. Your dog will also
need to be tested for intestinal parasites periodically.
Responsible owners know that by preventing and treating parasites
they are keeping their dog healthy and protecting their families as
most parasites can be transmitted to humans. Another facet of good
dog ownership is knowing when your dog is ill. It is your
responsibility to keep your dog in optimum health.

When you take your dog for a walk or to the dog park, pick up after
him when he goes to the bathroom. Not only is this common courtesy,
but fecal matter can be harmful to humans or other dogs. If you do
not have a fenced in yard, always keep your dog on leash. Not only
are there laws in many states requiring you to do so, this will
also ensure that your dog will not get loose and bite a person or
another dog, or dart in to traffic and get injured or killed.

Spend as much quality time with your dog as possible. If you happen
to have an employer that allows it, take your dog to work with you.
Go jogging with your dog. Find a sport like agility, flyball, or
sledding that you can do with your dog. Participate in community
events such as dog jogs and dog fests. All of these things will
enhance your relationship and are a factor in responsible dog
ownership.

Common sense, proper socialization, training, and spending good
time with your dog are all a part of responsible dog ownership. By
displaying these traits, you can help others learn about how to be
good dog owners.


Teaching your dog NOT to bark

November 3, 2008

Unwanted barking is one of the most common behavior problems in
dogs. It is normal for dogs to vocalize and bark from time to time
but many times this behavior escalates much to the frustration of
many dog owners. There are many causes of unwanted barking. First
you must determine why your dog is barking before you can begin a
program of retraining. You may need help from your animal
behaviorist
or veterinarian to do this.

One cause of unwanted barking is attention seeking barking. You may
have inadvertently reinforced this behavior if as a pup your dog
barked a lot and you gave him attention to try and stop the
behavior. As an older dog, he may be exhibiting this behavior
because he is left alone for long periods of time, does not have
appropriate stimulation or exercise, or is an active dog that needs
to have a job to be happy. If you suspect this is the cause of your
dog’s unwanted barking behavior, you can start to retrain him by
making sure first and foremost that he is getting enough exercise.
Make sure to take daily walks – this also allows him to explore the
world around him which is good mental exercise as well. If you have
a local dog park, take your dog there and let him socialize with
other dogs and people. Take an obedience class – this is good for
mental stimulation and will help you to better communicate with
your dog. Provide many interesting toys to keep your dog busy while
you are not around. Make sure to spend one on one time with your
dog on a daily basis and make it fun so that your dog learns that
he doesn’t need to bark to get your attention.

Another cause of excessive barking is as a response to something
that your dog is afraid of. Many dogs bark during thunderstorms or
around unfamiliar people. If your dog is barking as a response to
thunderstorms or other loud noises, provide him with a safe place
he can go in these situations such as a crate. Make his safe place
fun by providing good treats such as a Kong filled with peanut
butter to keep him occupied. Play a radio or the television at a
low level to help mask the noise. If your dog is barking at
unfamiliar people, help him get over this fear by enlisting the
help of your friends and neighbors. Have them walk by and approach
your dog. Have them ask him to sit, and when he does so without
barking, have them give him a treat. Pretty soon, your dog will
learn to associate unfamiliar people with treats and will learn new
positive behaviors. If your dog barks at people and noises that are
coming from outside the house, you may want to limit his access to
rooms with windows. This will help cut down on the unwanted barking
behavior.

If your dog is barking when you’re not home, it could be due to
separation anxiety. If your dog is especially attached to you or
has recently experienced a situation of change in his routine such
as divorce, a move, or a death in the family, this could be the
case. To remedy this kind of barking behavior, you will need to
start a course of desensitization. You can begin to do this by
taking very small trips such as just out to the mailbox and back,
while leaving fun toys and yummy treats for your dog. As your dog
learns to behave while you’re gone, slowly increase the length of
time you are gone. To check and see if your dog is barking when
you’re gone, you may need to use a tape recorder or enlist the help
of your neighbors. Separation anxiety often needs to be treated
with medication as well as desensitization. If you suspect your dog
is barking due to separation anxiety, please consult your
veterinarian or animal behaviorist.

Some people choose to treat their dog’s unwanted barking problems
with bark collars. The most humane bark collar available today is
the citronella collar. These bark collars work by spraying harmless
citronella in your dog’s face whenever he barks. Studies show a
very high rate of success with the use of these kinds of collars.
Using a citronella collar for a period of time can help to
reinforce more positive behaviors.

There are many training tips and tools available to help you
replace unwanted barking with more positive behaviors. If you need
more information, consult your veterinary staff or pet professional.


Choosing the right dog for you

October 29, 2008

 

Getting a new dog is one of the greatest joys in the world. Make
this great time even better by knowing exactly what kind of dog
will complement your family’s lifestyle.

Before you get a dog, you will want to make sure to discuss with
your family who will have the primary responsibility of taking care
of and training the dog. You will want to find a good veterinarian
close by, and you will want to consider the cost of keeping a dog.
You will also want to make sure to have supplies such as bowls, a
bed, a crate, leash , collar, and toys prior to your new dog coming
home.

Also before you get your new dog, you will want to consider
different breeds and their compatibility to your lifestyle. Large
dogs are generally not for apartment dwellers or the elderly. Small
dogs are not for people who want to be active with their dogs.
Temperament is another thing to consider. You will also want to
decide if you want a puppy or an older dog. Certain breeds have
inherent health problems like eye problems or hip dysplasia, so you
will want to take all of that into consideration before choosing a
breed.

If you decide to get a purebred puppy, there are resources to help
you find a reputable breeder. Your local kennel club has access to
area breeders that specialize in certain breeds. If you are looking
for an older dog, this can also be a good resource as many breeders
may have adult dogs available as well. Your veterinarian can be a
great resource as well as oftentimes they have assisted area
breeders.

If you are planning on hunting with your dog, you may want to
consider one of the sporting breeds. The most popular of the
sporting group are the Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever.
Both are relatively easy to train and are good with children. You
will want to have a more active lifestyle and ideally a fenced in
yard if you are looking for a dog of this nature.

Many people prefer dogs from the AKC’s working group. Breeds that
belong to this group include the Rottweiler, the Siberian Husky,
the Akita, the Bullmastiff, and the Giant Schnauzer. Generally,
these dogs require an experienced owner who can firmly establish
leadership. Many of the dogs of the working group have thick
undercoats and shed a lot, so you will want to consider if this is
something you want to deal with. You also want to make sure you
choose a dog in this category from a reputable breeder as hip
dysplasia
is common in these breeds.

Toy dogs are very popular today as you see many celebrities toting
around their adorable little dogs. But don’t let the size fool you.
Oftentimes, these cute little dogs have big personalities. Dogs in
this group include the Pug, the Shih Tzu, the Pomeranian, and the
Maltese. These small dogs still require training and a fair amount
of exercise, but may be a better choice for apartment dwellers and
people with older children.

If you have a farm and work livestock, you may want to consider one
of the dogs in the herding group. These dogs include the Border
Collie
, the Australian Shepherd, the German Shepherd, and the
Shetland Sheepdog. The Border Collie is a very intelligent dog that
requires a lot of exercise, both physical and mental. If you want
to spend a lot of active time with a dog, you might choose a dog
like this.

You may be interested in considering a mixed breed dog. These dogs
can be wonderful family companions, as much so as purebred dogs.

Due to the large population of dogs, many people are interested in
adopting a dog. Talk to your local humane society or breed rescue
organization for assistance with adoption.

The most important thing to do when choosing a dog is to take your
time and get to know many different breeds of dog. Talk to pet
store personnel, groomers, breeders, and your veterinary staff for
assistance. Make sure to consider all aspects of dog care and you
can ensure a happy time for your new dog and family.


What to expect when your dog is expecting

October 27, 2008

 

Are you getting ready for your dog to have puppies? Having a litter
of pups sounds like a lot of fun, but there is much work involved.
Here are some tips on how to get your dog and you ready for birth.

The first thing to know is that your dog will be pregnant on
average for 63 days. This is not very much time, so make sure you
are ready.

You will want to make sure that you are feeding your pregnant dog
appropriately. Your dog will need to eat more than usual and you
may want to transition to a growth type food or puppy food during
the pregnancy. You should do this by decreasing the amount of
regular food you give your dog each day while increasing the amount
of new food. It’s best if you do this over the course of about a
week to help prevent loose stool. Check with your veterinarian to
see what is appropriate for diet. Make sure to feed your dog a high
quality diet. You do not need to supplement the diet with vitamins
unless it is recommended by your veterinarian. Always follow their
recommendations. Your dog may experience symptoms similar to human
morning sickness around the third week of pregnancy. If this lasts
longer than one week, take your dog to the veterinarian to see if
there are any underlying problems.

You will want to continue regular walks with your dog during the
pregnancy. It is important to get some exercise, but if you have a
working dog or do sports with your dog, you will want to
discontinue these until after the puppies are weaned. However,
three weeks prior to delivery, you will want to isolate your
pregnant dog from all other dogs. This must continue until at the
very least, three weeks after the puppies are born. There are
infectious diseases carried by unvaccinated dogs that may not be
very harmful to adult dogs but can be fatal to puppies.

If your dog is due for vaccination during the pregnancy, hold off
on this until after the puppies are weaned. Vaccination during
pregnancy can be harmful to the fetuses. Ideally, you will want to
have your dog vaccinated just prior to breeding.

When getting ready to deliver, make sure to provide a comfortable
place for whelping and raising the puppies. It should be somewhere
where your dog can come and go, but the puppies are confined to.

When it is time to deliver, your dog’s body temperature will drop
slightly. You can monitor this with a rectal thermometer. Normal
canine temperature is between 100-102 degrees. When it drops below
100 degrees, you can usually expect labor in 24 hours. When your
dog starts to go into labor, she will become restless and may pant,
shiver, or vomit. This is normal. Make sure to provide fresh water
to her at all times. This stage of labor may last up to 12 hours.
When she begins to deliver the pups, they will be covered with a
thin membrane which must be cleared away. The mother should do this
herself, but should she neglect to do this, you will need to clear
it away or the pup will suffocate. You will need to tie the
umbilical cords in a knot and cut them above the knot. Pups will
come about one per hour with up to half an hour of straining in
between deliveries. It is not unusual for your dog to take a break
of a few hours during delivery.

You will need to call your veterinarian if your dog does not
deliver within one day of her temperature drop; she is straining to
deliver for more than an hour, takes more than a four hour break
between pups, seems to be in great pain, or has been pregnant for
more than 70 days. Some breeds require cesarean sections so make
sure to discuss this with your doctor prior to delivery. If you
feel that anything else unusual is occurring, contact your
veterinarian immediately.

It is always important to discuss all of your concerns and what to
expect with your veterinarian prior to delivery.


Keeping your dog warm during the winter months

October 22, 2008

For many dog owners, how to keep their dog warm during the cold
winter is a big concern. Luckily for them, there are many ways to
do this.

If your dog is small, has short hair, or is older, you may want to
consider purchasing a jacket to help keep him warm. In some
climates, it is appropriate to choose a sweater for the fall months
and a heavier jacket for the colder winter months. When choosing
outerwear for your dog choose something simple that is easy for you
to put on. You may need to acclimate your dog to wearing a coat as
some dogs do not like to be dressed up. To do this, simply put the
coat on for short periods each day making sure to give lots of good
treats. Your dog will learn to associate wearing his coat with
yummy treats making it much easier for you to dress him. Choose a
coat made from durable materials that are easy to care for. Just
because it’s cute doesn’t necessarily mean that it is appropriate.
Also, if snow is a concern, look for water resistant materials.
Make sure to know your dog’s measurements and follow the
manufacturer’s directions to ensure proper fit.

Dogs that walk a lot, work outside, or are older, may also need to
wear boots. Dog boots are available from many manufacturers and
help keep feet protected from ice, snow, and salt. As with coats,
make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions to ensure proper
fit. If you choose not to purchase boots for your dog, make sure to
remove ice and snow from between his pads when he comes inside.
This will help keep him warm as well as help prevent dry, cracked,
irritated pads.

If your dog lives primarily outside, you will want to make sure you
get him a good quality shelter of some sort. Many pet supply stores
and online manufacturers make great quality dog houses in a variety
of styles for every budget. You will want one that will help keep
wind, rain, and snow away from your dog. You will want to make sure
that the opening to the dog house does not face the wind. You will
also want to make sure that you lay down straw or provide a bed or
several blankets to help protect your dog from the frozen ground.
Make sure to change the straw and/or bedding periodically. Blankets
and beds can get wet and straw, when wet, can get moldy. Moldy
straw can lead to upper respiratory and skin infections. Some
people like to provide heat to their outside dog houses. It is not
a good idea to do this with heating pads or space heaters with
electrical cords. Your dog can chew through these cords causing a
hazardous accident. If you choose to provide heat to your outdoor
dog, it is best to have this done professionally. Some pet stores
offer heated beds that contain a disc that can be heated in the
microwave or with hot water periodically.

During the winter, it is just as important to keep your dog
properly groomed as it is during the summer. Your dog’s coat
provides natural insulation against the elements. It is important
to keep your dog’s coat brushed and free of mats and burrs. The
hair between the foot pads needs to be trimmed up to help prevent
ice balls from forming. Regular grooming will help ensure proper
body temperature during the winter months.

Some dogs, especially those kept outside, will require extra food
during the winter months. It is important to discuss these
nutritional needs with your veterinarian or pet professional. If
your dog is kept outside, it is also very important to make sure
that he has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Snow and ice
are not appropriate for hydration. Be careful to make sure that his
water has not frozen over.

There are many things you can do to ensure that your dog stays warm
and safe during the winter months. If you have further questions
about how to do this, please ask your veterinary staff or pet
professionals.


How to handle your puppy’s teething troubles

October 17, 2008

When most people bring home their cute new puppies, the furthest
thing from their minds is the stressful time of teething. Just as
with babies teething, puppies will want to chew on everything they
can get their mouth on. This can lead to total destruction of your
belongings, but there are tried and true ways to help prevent this
from happening, and help you and your pup get through the teething
period with ease.

Many people bring home their new pup and leave them out to romp
around the house when they’re not home. Inevitably, this leads to
chewing on shoes, books, socks, the couch, and any number of other
things. The best way to prevent destructive chewing is to crate
train your dog. To do this, you will need a crate that is just big
enough for your dog to turn around in. Make the crate a safe and
happy place for your dog. Provide him with stimulating toys while
he is in the crate. Crate training your dog will not only prevent
destructive chewing, but will also aid in potty training and create
a positive and safe environment for your dog to be when you’re not
around. Some people think that keeping a dog in a crate when
they’re not around is cruel. This is not the case at all. Dogs by
nature like small, darkened places and tend to feel very safe in
crates. Almost all dog trainers today believe that crate training
is a necessary and positive part of your puppy’s development. If
your dog is crated while you are not home, they will not have the
opportunity to chew on your belongings and other harmful things
such as power cords.

The next most important thing to teach your dog when he is teething
is which toys are his and what is off limits. Purchase good things
to chew on such as Kong toys or Bully Sticks. Kongs are made of
tough rubber and can be filled with goodies such as peanut butter
or cheese. They are excellent chew toys and wonderful for the
teething period. Bully Sticks are 100% natural and 100% digestible
dog chews that are low in fat and great for your dog to chew on.
Other chew toys that could be used are Nylabones which are made out
of solid hard plastic and have bumps on them to soothe teething
gums or other toys made of hard rubber or plastic. Reinforce which
toy is for your dog by giving him his chew toy and saying something
like, “Here is your toy, good boy!” If your dog chooses something
that he is not to chew on, take it away and replace it with one of
his chew toys repeating, “This is your toy, good boy!” With
persistence, he will learn what is his to chew on and what he is
not to chew on.

Another important thing to train your dog during the teething
period is bite inhibition. In packs of dogs, the mother or other
dogs would teach this to the pups, but in a home situation, it is
up to you. Teething puppies will put their mouths on you and you
must teach them at an early age that this is not acceptable. Just
as mentioned above, every time they exhibit mouthing behavior, you
must redirect them to an acceptable chew toy. Another important
factor in bite inhibition and limiting mouthing behavior is proper
socialization. It is very important in this stage to take your dog
to a puppy class or puppy play group. Many good trainers offer
these services. When allowed to play with other pups, your dog will
learn what is acceptable play behavior. The other dogs will help
your dog to learn that biting is not appropriate. You must also
socialize your dog to many different kinds of people and
situations. This will help your dog to not be afraid of new things
and will significantly lower the potential for biting.

By following the above advice as well as the advice of your
veterinarian, you can rest assured that the teething period will be
a positive learning period for you and your puppy.


Basic Care and Maintenance for your pup’s pearly whites

October 13, 2008

 

Many people do not realize the importance of caring for their dog’s
teeth. As dogs age, the need for dental care increases. The best
way to ensure proper dental health for your dog is to start while
they are very young.

Many dogs do not like their mouths touched. It is important for you
as a dog owner to desensitize them to being handled like this at a
very young age. The veterinarian is always going to need to examine
your dog’s mouth and you do not want to have problems with this.
The best way for you to get your dog used to having his mouth
touched is to begin touching it when you first get your pup. Make
sure to touch the lips, open the mouth, and touch the teeth in a
calm and relaxing way for about five minutes each day until your
pup is used to being handled in this way. Make this a regular part
of your interaction with your dog so he remains calm when you are
doing any kind of preventive dental care.

Most veterinarians recommend brushing your dog’s teeth daily. Many
manufacturers make special toothpaste and brushes for dogs. You do
not ever want to use human toothpaste on dogs as it may be harmful
to them. To get your dog used to having his teeth brushed, you may
want to start by putting a dab of dog toothpaste on a cotton ball
and rubbing it over his teeth. Toothpaste for dogs is usually quite
tasty to them, so he shouldn’t mind this. You can then try a finger
brush, available at your veterinarian’s office or pet supply store.
Eventually, especially for larger breeds, you will want to graduate
to a regular dog toothbrush. Regular brushing will help prevent the
buildup of calculus and debris on your dog’s teeth.

Another way to help prevent calculus and buildup on your dog’s
teeth is by using rawhide chews specially formulated for dental
care. Many companies manufacture these chews. One of the best
available is by C.E.T. Most veterinarians carry C.E.T. dental
health products. C.E.T. chews are formulated with an enzyme that
helps keep plaque from forming and prevents the buildup of
bacteria. Also, the natural abrasion of rawhide chews helps keep
teeth healthy. C.E.T. also makes a chew that contains chlorhexadine
which has antimicrobial properties.

Some companies also make special dental health food, which may be
recommended to you by your veterinarian to help prevent dental
problems.

Even with proper preventive measures, most dogs will eventually
need a dental cleaning from your veterinarian. If your veterinarian
recommends a dental cleaning, it is important that you follow
through. If your dog develops dental disease, harmful bacteria can
pass through into the bloodstream causing potentially serious
problems such as kidney infections and infections involving the
heart valves.

A dental cleaning performed by your veterinarian is much like a
human dental cleaning, however your dog will need to be sedated.
The anesthesia is light and with today’s technology is extremely
safe. Many veterinarians have anesthesia monitoring systems just
like those used in human medicine. A thorough exam will be
performed to determine if any teeth need to be pulled or repaired.
Some veterinarians will do x-rays of the teeth to find any cracks
or diseased teeth. After this, a trained member of the veterinary
staff will perform a dental cleaning. First, they will scale the
teeth to remove the tartar above and below the gum line. This will
be done with both hand instruments and ultrasonic scaling
equipment. After this, the teeth will be polished, which will make
them smooth and help prevent plaque from adhering to them. Most
veterinarians will also do a fluoride treatment. This is to help
strengthen the enamel and prevent plaque from forming. If any teeth
are diseased or broken, your veterinarian may pull them. Some
veterinarians who specialize in dental care will perform root
canals
and other intensive dental work. Most veterinarians will put
your dog on a treatment of antibiotics to help prevent bacterial
infection
.

It is very important to take good care of your dog’s teeth to keep
them healthy and to prevent infections. Always follow your
veterinarian’s advice and if you have further questions, consult
your veterinary staff or pet professional.