5 Things You Should Know Before Adopting Your First Dog

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Guest Post by: Julie Adams – Editor In Chief, Modern Living 101

image source: pexels.com

The prospect of adopting your first dog is incredibly exciting. Regardless of if you’re considering taking home an older dog, or a puppy, you’re in for an adventure. If you treat a dog well, they will be with you through thick and thin no matter what. With a new dog, there is a lot to be excited about! But there’s also a lot you need to know sooner rather than later.

First off, thank you for doing research before simply diving into dog ownership. Many people skip this part and end up becoming overwhelmed, irresponsible pet parents.

Owning a dog is a long-term commitment that comes with more responsibility than most people realize. This little animal now depends on you to be the sole provider of care, nutrition,  entertainment, and love for the rest of its life. Although there’s a lot of work that goes into your potential new role as a pet parent, the advantages will far outweigh any possible drawbacks.

Here are a few basics you need to know about dog ownership.

1. Look at food costs, and how much you’ll need to feed your dog

Not all dog food is created equal, and not all dogs are grazers. In fact, many of them are gluttons. They will eat everything you give them. Many people make the easy mistake of not paying attention to how much you’re feeding your dog or just eyeballing what you feel looks right. This can lead to overfeeding or underfeeding your dog.

To guarantee that you’re feeding your pet the proper quantity each day, do a little bit of research online. You can look at things like the type of food you’re giving your dog, how old they are, how much they currently weigh, and what a healthy weight range should be. This way, you’ll be able to accurately gauge where your dog falls in terms of weight standards and feed accordingly.

2. Be ready to potty train ASAP

Although it might be tempting to get a bit lax in your potty training schedule as your new pet dog gets familiarized with your house, it is necessary that you put together a potty training regime and stick to it– particularly in the developmental phases of your dog’s relationship with you and your home.

If you have not potty trained a pet previously, you’ll want to do some research into this as well. There are plenty of techniques for making the process easier. You can also learn what warning signs to look for to indicate your dog may have to go outside. If you tackle this challenge sooner rather than later, you’ll save yourself on cleaning and headaches in the future.

3. If you’re not prepared to clean, don’t adopt a heavy shedding breed

Unless you have a hairless dog, you can expect to have a new chore on your hands, regular vacuuming sessions to help control pet hair. With some breeds, you may even need to buy a certain vacuum that doesn’t clog or get tangled as easily with large amounts of thick fur/hair. If you let your pet go on the couch, make sure you have a vacuum with upholstery attachments to help keep your couches clean.

It is also a good idea to start your dog on a regular grooming schedule to stay ahead. If you have a heavy shedder on your hands, daily brushing can help cut down on the amount of fur that ends up around your home.

Most dogs need to be bathed at a minimum, once every three months. However, many pet owners choose to wash their dogs as often as every other week, as long as a gentle shampoo is used.

4. See if your friends will help you socialize your dog

Socializing your dog early on will pay off significantly in the long run. By introducing your dog to new individuals and animals now, you substantially increase their ability to have healthy interactions with other people and dogs later.

Many pet owners choose to jump right into socializing their dog right away. However, professionals suggest developing a socializing strategy to make the procedure safer and more effective.

Dogs that are not properly socialized can be defensive and aggressive. A properly socialized dog is a happy dog.

5. Recognize there are leash laws

There are few things more enjoyable than watching your dog run around having a great time. Although it’s okay to let your pet run around a leashless dog park or in your back yard, complying with the leash laws where they are in place is very important when it comes to keeping you, your dog, and others safe.

It is a good rule of thumb to keep your dog on a leash by default unless you know the area allows dogs to run free. Even if you have a well-trained angel of a dog, you never know when they might see a squirrel and go sprinting across the street. Some things are out of your control, and keeping your dog on a leash can help prevent a slew of issues.

Now that you’ve got the basic guidelines down, you’re ready to start the search for your perfect new canine companion. Remember, adopting a dog is not a short-term endeavor. A good pet owner (under most circumstances) should be ready to commit to a dog for the rest of it’s life.

What Every Dog Owner Should Know About Arthritis

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Contribution from freelance writer Sally Writes

dog with arthritis

Photo by Jan Szwagrzyk on Unsplash

Many of us are familiar with arthritis, especially those of us who are getting older. Arthritis is an all-too-common problem for humans, but what about when it comes to our furry friends? As it turns out, as many as one in five dogs have arthritis within the course of their lifetime. Luckily, most dogs who are diagnosed with arthritis are still able to live a healthy and active lifestyle–they just need us to lend a helping hand.

Recognizing the Signs of Arthritis

The signs of arthritis can be hard to spot, even if you’re familiar with your dog’s unique mannerisms. It may be something as subtle as joint stiffness in the morning. If allowed to progress, however, you’ll eventually notice your pup having trouble sitting, laying down, and walking around. Some dogs may even become depressed and change their eating habits.

The only way to know for sure if your pet is experiencing arthritis is by booking an appointment with your vet. By looking at blood tests, X-rays, physical exams, and medical history, your vet should be able to determine the cause of your dog’s joint pain. If it is arthritis, you should also be able to find out whether it’s osteoarthritis, septic arthritis, or immune-mediated polyarthritis.

Making Life Easier for Your Four-Legged Friend

Arthritis can make it difficult for your dog to get around the house. They won’t be able to climb stairs as easily or jump up onto their favorite piece of furniture. Of course, there are plenty of ways that you can modify your home and make things a little bit easier for your pooch. 

  • Keep food and water at a comfortable height instead of on the floor.
  •  Build ramps upstairs and to climb on communal furniture.
  •  Put no-slip paint or runners on slippery surfaces such as tile and hardwood.
  • Provide your dog with a heating pad or hot water bottle in bed to help ease discomfort.
  •  Use a sling to help your pup climb stairs, enter the car, or get into a carrier.

Treating Arthritis in Dogs

After a diagnosis is made, your vet can recommend treatment options that may help your pet. Steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs help to decrease swelling and discomfort around the joints, while dietary supplements strengthen bone and muscle. There are also surgical options that reconstruct damaged joints.

If your furry friend has been diagnosed with arthritis, don’t worry. With your help, your pet can continue to lead an active and fulfilling lifestyle. There are modifications you can make to your home and medical treatments that you can try to give your best friend a better quality of living.

Preparing For a Car Ride With Your Dog

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Guest Post By: Tess Halpren
Community Outreach
The Zebra

Easiest Ways to Pet Proof Your Car

Pet proof before a trip

Most dogs love going for car rides. With their head out the window, ears blowing in the wind, dogs are the picture of bliss when they tag along for the trip.

In reality, though, car rides can be very stressful for even the happiest dogs. Whether going on a cross-country road trip or just down the street, dogs often experience anxiety during a drive. This anxiety is caused by a number of things, including the movement of the car, the sound of the engine, or the possibility of a trip to the vet’s (eek!). If you aren’t careful, you’ll land up with a jittery pup and maybe even a ruined backseat.

The following post from The Zebra gives a collection of tips and tricks for keeping you, your dog, and your car happy on your next road trip. These tips give advice on what to do before, during, and after your car ride to keep your pup calm and your car clean.

Pet proof infographic

Tips For Camping Holidays With Your Dog

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Contribution from freelance writer Sally Writes

Camping with your dog

Photo by Jorge Flores on Unsplash

With more dog owners than ever in the US, 77% of people surveyed said their pets will influence their holiday travel plans.  For many, that means pooch comes along too, and why not? What could be more fun than living in the countryside for a week or so with your canine best friend for company?  The walking routes will be just a step away and it will give you a chance to detach from all the hustle and bustle of modern life and fully relax.  However, there’s just a few things to take into consideration to ensure your holiday is problem free and great fun.

Health checklist to prepare your dog

Ensure your dog’s general healthcare is up to date, in particular vaccinations (including for heartworm which is now prevalent in the US) and that your dog has recently been wormed.  If your dog takes any regular medication for ongoing conditions e.g. anti allergy tablets, then ensure you have had a recent review with your vet. Mention you are planning to take your dog on holiday and check your medication stocks are sufficient to cover that period of time.  Also, ensure any veterinary insurance policies are up to date and pack the policy details, contact phone number and your veterinarian’s contact details.  Alongside this paperwork you could also pack any medication supplies at this stage to cover the holiday period. Continue reading

Nipping Dog Food Allergies in the Bud

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Contribution from freelance writer Sally Writes

Dogs have allergies

Photo by Christal Yuen on Unsplash

If you see your dog biting his paws, scratching or obsessively licking, he could have a food allergy – a condition which can take its toll on his digestive system as much as his skin. The very first step to take if you suspect your dog might be allergic to food is to visit your vet. Although dogs only show signs of irritation initially, allergies can cause serious problems and can even be life-threatening. In this post, we discuss the nature of food allergies and offer suggestions to stop them quickly and efficiently. Your dog will still be able to enjoy all his favorite treats, so long as these are allergen-free.

Foods Based Triggers

Like human beings, a plethora of foods can cause dog allergies, though ‘the usual suspects’ are chicken, pork, rabbit, lamb, beef, egg, corn, wheat, soy, and dairy foods. Interestingly, most of these foods are proteins. Your dog could be allergic to one or more ingredient.

In case you wonder how your dog develops a food allergy, the process is as follows: in a healthy dog, any food consumed will be broken down into nutrients and amino acids that pass from the GI tract to the bloodstream. In dogs with leaky gut, however, nutrients which have not been fully broken down make their way into the bloodstream, thus wreaking havoc on the immune system. Food allergies in dogs essentially arise from ‘leaky gut syndrome’,a condition that also affects humans.

Elimination and Experimentation with Novel Proteins

Your vet will usually prescribe a specific diet incorporating just one protein and one carbohydrate – for instance, chicken and rice. Your dog will remain on this simple diet for a couple of months and you can slowly start replacing ingredients, one by one, until you identify an allergen. Some vets recommend sticking to the first combination that works, but eventually your dog could develop an allergy to these two foods as well, so working your way up to a varied diet is a better long-term option.

Dr. Karen Becker of Mercola Pets recommends using new proteins your dog has not consumed before when starting the elimination diet, including “ostrich, beaver, quail, pheasant, rabbit, venison, bison, goat, duck, elk, alligator, and kangaroo.” It is important to feed dogs food from different families than those they are accustomed to, to give the body a chance to detoxify. It is probably best to refrain feeding your dog foods they have been reactive to in the past, since you can undo the good work that the elimination diet has achieved.

To battle common dog food allergies, it is important to create an elimination plan with your vet. You may be recommended a veterinary diet or home-cooked diet designed by a veterinary nutritionist. Remember to keep it basic and be watchful for signs and symptoms of a flare-up. Finally, patience and commitment are key to finding a combination that works for your pooch.

Stay with Me: Helping Your Dog Cope with Separation Anxiety

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Contribution from freelance writer Sally Writes

Dog with separation anxiety

Photo by Andrew Welch on Unsplash

20-40% of all dogs are estimated to experience separation anxiety at some point in their lives (College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign). Separation anxiety is a serious behavioral problem that has a critical impact on pets and their owners. Some signs of anxiety and stress are destructive behavior, self-harm, restlessness, and an inability to eat. While pet owners might see these behaviors as being vindictive, they are not. They are symptoms that your pet is stressed and unhappy when you are away. If you are a pet owner and notice that your dog exhibits certain symptoms of separation anxiety, there are things that you can do to improve care and help cope with stress for an overall wellbeing.

The Causes of Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety among pets is not well understood. A few existing research studies indicate that dogs that are abandoned and/or abused like rescue animals are likely to feel anxious. Certain breeds of dog are also susceptible to the disorder such as Labrador Retrievers or German Shepherds. Emotional distress is the primary reason for anxiety disorder and manifests when the owner is absent or not around. If you notice that your pooch suddenly starts whining or pacing as soon as you put on your shoes or grab your coat in preparation to leave the house, they might be feeling anxious. What you see when you are back home might even confirm your suspicion that your dog has a separation anxiety issue. Is your sofa chewed in several places? Maybe, you’ll find feces and urine that are more frequent when you are away. Your dog also becomes hyperactive, starts barking, howling and scratching without good reason. These are the typical symptoms of separation anxiety. It makes you both nervous and unhappy which is why you should get help immediately. Continue reading