Teaching Your Children to Care for Their New Dog

May 11, 2009

If you have a child, you’ve probably heard those familiar words,
“Can we keep him?” Dog’s aren’t just a man’s best friend anymore;
they’ve become the whole family’s friend. If you’re like any
typical family, the children will probably spend the most time with
your new dog. This is why it’s very important you teach your child
how to take care of him. Here are a few dog rules to teach them:

1. Make sure you remember to feed the dog and give him fresh water
each day. Explain that dogs, especially puppies, need nutrition
each day for energy and proper growth. If you have an outside dog,
it’s especially important that his water dish is changed everyday.
Standing water is a breeding place for mosquitoes. Also dirt can
get flung into their dish. It is equally important for small
children to be supervised when dealing with this type of
responsibility. Sometimes smaller children can be too eager to
help. Explain to your children why we don’t feed dog’s certain
foods such as sweets. Dog food is made to meet their dog’s
nutritional needs and sweets can make their dog sick.

2. Being N-I-C-E to your dog is another lesson to teach children.
Younger children, particularly under the age of four, have a
tendency to be rough with animals. Pulling tails and ears just
comes naturally with their curiosity. With a new dog, you may not
know his temperament very well or how he may react to your child’s
curiosity. Lead by example. Show your child how to be kind to
animals. Show them how to gently pet them on the head or back and
that hitting or pulling can hurt the dog.

3. Teach your child about the importance of exercise with the
family dog. In order for the dog to stay healthy he must move
around and play. If the dog is not overpowering, let your child
walk the dog with a leash. Another fun activity for exercise is
fetch. Let your child throw a ball or stick for the pet to chase.
This is lots of fun for both participants.

4. If you have a rambunctious puppy, make sure your child doesn’t
leave things lying around. Puppies love to chew on whatever they
can sink their teeth into. If they see your daughter’s favorite
dolly on the floor, or your son’s tennis shoe, the puppy will show
no reserve. They will usually dive right in. Tell your child that
your puppy is too young to understand, and that until he gets
older, be extra careful about leaving things lying around.

5. Keep bathroom doors shut. Dogs are notorious for drinking from
the toilet bowl. If you can help it, reduce the temptation for him,
by teaching your child to keep bathroom doors shut.

6. If you have an indoor dog then he’s got to have potty breaks
outside. Keep a schedule of bathroom breaks for your dog. This is
one of the not so fun parts of taking care of a new pet. Remind
your child that if the new dog doesn’t keep to the scheduled potty
breaks that he may find a place in the house. In training a new dog
to use the bathroom outside, the scheduled times must be strictly

7. Make a chart. If you child is having problems remembering to
feed the pet or take it out for breaks, it would be a great idea to
make a chart of things to do each day. Let your child mark a check
when the chore has been completed. The more he completes the chore,
the easier it will be to remember.

Children don’t always see the bigger picture of taking care of a
new dog, but with our guidance, they will no doubt become good
little pet owners. It’s a good idea to applaud your child when he
takes on responsibility and follows through with it. This will give
them confidence to mature and take on more responsibility as they
get older. Taking care of a pet is a big responsibility. Teach your
kids that just as they have to be taken care of by parents, their
pet has to be taken care of as well. Our pets depend on us

Making your home puppy proof

January 5, 2009

Puppies are super cute and so much fun to have around. They are
filled with energy and curious about everything around them. It is
your job as a responsible pet owner to puppy proof your house to
make it safe from them and to protect your belongings.

The first thing you should do when puppy proofing your house is to
go room to room on your hands and knees. Look at the things in your
home from your puppy’s perspective. Think about what is at that
level that may be interesting to him. You may be surprised to find
many things that are potentially dangerous that you never even
thought of before.

One thing you should be aware of in your household is the location
of electrical cords. Make sure to limit your puppy’s access to
these areas. Puppies can chew through cords and get electrocuted
causing serious injury or even death. Wrap cords up and store them
away or lay down rubber or plastic runners that can be purchased at
most home supply stores.

Another potentially dangerous thing for puppies is your stairs.
Small puppies have a hard time navigating up and down stairs and
could fall down them and injure themselves. Stairs also lead to
areas in your house that may be off limits. The best way to ensure
that your puppy stays away from the stairs is to purchase baby
gates, available at most department and pet supply stores.

Just as curious toddlers are, puppies are very curious about what
is inside cabinets. Many people store cleaning supplies and
personal care products in cabinets that can be accessible to
puppies. These kinds of products contain harmful ingredients that
can injure or kill your puppy. Make sure to either store these
products in cabinets that are out of reach to puppies, or purchase
plastic cabinet locks that are available at most department and pet
supply stores.

Be aware of small objects that are located around the home, on
coffee tables and other surfaces that are accessible to your puppy.
Just as with small children, puppies can choke on items like coins,
needles, jewelry and small toys. Make sure to keep these kinds of
items out of your puppy’s reach.

Puppies seem to be attracted to shoes and socks. They love to chew
on them. Not only will this ruin your favorite shoes, if a puppy
were to chew on and swallow a shoelace or a sock, it could get
wrapped around their intestines causing serious injury or death.
Make sure to store your shoes and socks out of reach of your puppy,
and NEVER encourage them to chew on these items, no matter how cute
it may be.

Always limit your puppy’s access to the bathroom. Bathroom garbage
is very tempting to chew on. If your dog were to swallow some
dental floss or feminine products, this could be very harmful to
them. Puppies also are curious about toilets. Small pups could fall
in an open toilet and drown. Make sure to keep your bathroom door
shut at all times, or install a baby gate at the entrance to your
bathroom. The same can be said for the kitchen and kitchen garbage.

Open windows are another potential hazard to your puppy. Being very
curious about the world around them, they could easily fall out of
a window causing serious harm or death. On the ground floor, they
could exit out of the window and get lost or run into the street.
Be mindful of open windows when you are not directly supervising
your puppy.

House plants are another concern when it comes to puppies. Most
dogs are very attracted to plants and many household plants are
toxic to animals and can cause nausea, vomiting, and in some cases,
death. Always make sure to keep house plants away from your puppy’s

The best way to puppy proof your house is to crate train your puppy
right away. You are providing him with a safe place to go whenever
he wants to as well as a place to be safely contained when you are
not able to directly supervise him. If you need more information
about puppy proofing your home, consult your veterinarian or pet

Urine samples, Anal glands, and Dandruff: The truth about your dog’s dirty little secrets

December 9, 2008


When most people get a dog, they think of the fun times they will
have with their new furry companion. But there are many things that
aren’t so pleasant that we as dog owners must consider to keep our
friends happy and healthy.

So you go to the veterinarian, and your doctor asks you to bring
along a urine sample from your dog. Your first question is
probably, how do I do this? The easiest way to accomplish this is
to tape a Tupperware container to the end of a yard stick. While
your dog is out doing his business, get the container underneath
his urine stream. This is easier to do with male dogs than female
dogs but you can usually get a sample with one or two tries. Your
veterinarian will want as fresh a sample if possible. If you will
not be taking the sample to the vet right away, keep it
refrigerated until you bring it in. Your veterinarian will be
checking the sample for a variety of things like bacteria and
crystals. If bacteria is found, this might mean that your dog has a
urinary tract infection, and most likely your vet will put your dog
on a course of antibiotics. Crystals form in the urine whenever
minerals bind together. There are several different kinds of
crystals and these are most often treated with prescription diets.

Why does your veterinarian ask for a stool sample? Frequently,
intestinal parasites are found in dogs. They can get these by
eating fecal matter from another affected animal, carcasses, or
other unsavory things. You will want to bring in a fresh sample.
The doctor will look at it under the microscope looking for
telltale eggs of parasites. The most common are roundworms,
hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Several of today’s monthly
heartworm medications also protect against roundworms and
hookworms. If you live in the country or your dog is outside a lot,
he may need to be treated with a wormer on a quarterly basis for
tapeworms. Other diseases like coccidia, can also be seen under the
microscope from your dog’s stool sample.

What are anal glands? The anal glands are two small glands located
just on the inside of your dog’s anus. They secrete a foul smelling
liquid. Most of the time, your dog will empty his own glands while
defecating. In some dogs, however, the anal glands do not empty
properly and become impacted. If your dog is scooting a lot or
licking his hind end often, he may have a problem with his anal
glands. Make an appointment with your veterinarian. He will check
the anal glands by touch with a gloved hand. If they are full, he
can manually empty them. You can learn how to do this yourself at
home. Some dogs need to have their anal glands manually emptied on
a regular basis. Some owners choose to have their dog’s anal glands
surgically removed. This often helps the problem, but if you choose
to do this, discuss the possible outcomes with your veterinarian.
There is often a risk of fecal incontinence if this surgery does
not go properly.

In dogs, sometimes dandruff is just that – dandruff. This can be
caused by skin allergies, nutritional deficiencies, or improper
grooming. But sometimes dandruff can be more. Dandruff can be a
sign of a parasite called mange. There are a few different types of
mange: a) Demodectic Mange which is caused by a mite. This mite is
present in all dogs and rarely affects them adversely. Sometimes
however, there can be an overabundance of these mites causing skin
irritation and hair loss. b) Sarcoptic Mange which is caused by
another type of mite. A female mite will bury herself in your dog’s
skin and lay eggs. When the eggs hatch, the cycle will begin again.
Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, causes severe skin
irritation and hair loss in dogs. It is easily treatable. c)
Cheyletiella Mange is caused by a large mite that lives on the
surface of your dog’s skin. This infestation is also known as
“walking dandruff.” Cheyletiella mange is easily treatable with
topical medication and causes minor skin irritation.

It’s important to know about the less pleasant things that can
cause your dog health problems so that you are properly educated
and can recognize signs and symptoms. This will ensure that you
keep your dog as healthy as he can be.

B.A.R.F. Diet: Sounds yummy but what is it

December 4, 2008


It actually sounds kind of gross, but BARF is an acronym for
Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food. Many
health conscious veterinarians are huge advocates for this diet
which can completely replace commercially prepared dog food. One of
the first proponents of the BARF diet was Dr. Ian Billinghurst who
still recommends it today. He believes that it is the ultimate way
to get our pets in to optimum health. Many people believe that the
BARF diet simulates what your dog would eat in his natural

Many people feel that there are a lot of health advantages to
feeding a raw food diet. Many owners who have dogs with problems
such as allergies, skin problems, weight problems, and anal gland
problems have found that the bones and raw food diet has helped to
significantly remedy these issues.

Some of the advantages to feeding a biologically appropriate raw
food diet
include no consumption of preservatives found in most
commercially prepared kibble diets, it usually tastes better to
your dog than regular dog food, and in general, muscle mass and
body condition improve on a raw food diet. One also often finds
that dogs produce fewer stools, eat more slowly, and have fewer
health problems. Many advocates of the raw food diet also claim
that it is less expensive than commercially manufactured dog food.
One of the biggest disadvantages to this diet is that it takes
longer to prepare.

If you decide that you would like to try the BARF diet with your
dog, you must first do the research. There are many websites and
books available to guide you through the process. Talk to your
veterinarian, though many veterinarians are unfamiliar with the
BARF diet. Find people in your area that feed the raw food diet to
their animals. Make sure it is right for you and your dog before
you try it.

The next step is to transition your dog from his commercial dog
to his new bones and raw food diet. You may want to do this
gradually as oftentimes dogs develop digestive problems when
switching to new diets. Some advocates of the BARF diet recommend
switching your dog to the new diet cold turkey, however.

When feeding a raw food diet, you will generally want to feed your
dog twice per day. The first meal of the day will usually consist
of raw meat and bones like turkey or chicken legs, thighs, wings,
or necks, pork riblets, lamb chops, and the like. The second meal
will consist of a mush made with raw meat, fresh vegetables, and
Offal (the organs parts of the meat you are feeding). Usually you
will want to supplement this with cottage cheese, eggs with the
shells, yogurt, fruit, fish, and recreational bones (which are the
harder to chew kinds of bones). This can vary, so do your homework.
You will want to avoid grains. Advocates of the biologically
appropriate raw food diet agree that dogs do not have the proper
digestive systems to deal with whole grains and that most food
are grain related.

Most advocates of the raw food diet do not recommend supplements.
If you aren’t sure what to do, speak with your veterinarian.

Many people are hesitant to feed their dog a raw diet because they
are concerned about their dogs choking on bones. While these
incidents occur, proponents of raw food diets say they are rare,
and that generally, dogs choke on cooked bones, not raw ones.

There are commercially prepared raw food diets on the market. While
this is always an option for you if you choose to feed raw food,
many advocates of the BARF diet recommend against it. They argue
that these foods have different regulations that human grade foods,
oftentimes contain unnecessary supplements, are ground foods (and
the whole basis of the BARF diet is raw, meaty bones), and are much
more expensive than visiting your local butcher.

If you decide that the bones and raw food diet is something that
you’d like to try, first talk to your veterinarian about your
decision. Then, do as much research into the diet as possible. Talk
to others who feed the diet. You may find that by feeding the BARF
you are improving the health of your dog.

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
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
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

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

November 19, 2008


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

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

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

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


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
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

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.