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

Top Tips for Protecting Your Dog in Winter Weather

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Guest Blogger: Bernie Boxer

Dog in winter

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Winter brings special challenges to dog owners.  When temperatures drop and freezing weather moves in, you’ll need to take extra measures to ensure your dog is safe and comfortable.  Here are some tips for managing hazards the season brings.

Winter wellness.  Chilly weather can aggravate certain medical conditions such as arthritis.  If your dog hasn’t seen your veterinarian prior to winter, it’s important to make an appointment for an exam.  What’s more, as the American Veterinary Medical Association points out, dogs who are in top physical condition fare best facing winter weather.

Know your pooch.  Every dog is different, and just like people some mind the cold more than others.  There are physical factors that can affect how well your dog tolerates colder conditions, such as body fat stores and coat length.  Age and medical conditions can also weigh into your dog’s comfort during winter.  Bear all this in mind and make choices based on your dog’s personal comfort zone.  For example, dogs with shorter coats or who tend to get chilly benefit from a sweater or jacket when they go outside to potty. Continue reading

Renting When You Have a Dog

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Contribution from freelance writer Sally Writes

Renting with dogs

Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

 

 

According to The Humane Society of the United States, 72% of renters have pets, yet finding and keeping rental housing is one of the main reasons pets end up in shelters. When you have to move, many renters find that looking for accommodation that welcomes your furry friend is one of their leading anxieties. Here is some advice on renting when you have a dog.

Know where to search

Pet friendly apartments are definitely out there, you just need to know where to look. The key is to start looking early and search smart. Reach out to your local pet community for recommendations, and use pet friendly filters on apartment listing sites.In addition, if you are choosing a new city to live, bear in mind some have a more pet friendly reputation than others. Real estate listing site Trulia researched which areas were most accommodating to animals on their listings and confirmed that San Francisco and Dallas are pet friendly cities.

Open up a dialogue with your potential landlord

Good communication can be the key to finding a pet friendly apartment. Be ready to discuss the good qualities of your dog and consider writing a pet resume to showcase their good qualities. Landlords are human and often open to negotiation. They may be willing to make exceptions even if they didn’t advertise a pet friendly property.That being said, you should never sign a lease that says ‘no pets’ as you then lose most of your legal protection if your pet is asked to leave.

If you are really concerned, some people try to find a landlord from their friends or acquaintances; a family let can be a good solution because your landlord will likely know your dog and its behavior as well as trusting you as an individual.

Service dog?

It must be noted that the rules are different if your pet is a service animal. This is because the Fair Housing Law protects against discrimination on grounds of disability. Your potential landlord can not violate your house rights if you require a dog for your wellbeing. Expect to be asked to verify the need for your assistance dog, so prepare your doctor’s letter.

While renting with pets is undoubtedly more hassle than moving pet free, it is definitely possible to find a place that is both right for you and your dog. Start early, utilize the internet, your connections and communications skills, and your new home will be just around the corner.

Building a Beautiful, Safe, Fun Garden for Your Dog

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Contribution from freelance writer Sally Writes

If you have just taken a pup or dog home and you are excited about enjoying the best of the outdoors life together, take a look at your garden: is it completely safe for your pooch? In the spring and summer months, the garden will probably be one of his favorite ‘chill out zones’, but it can also form the perfect backdrop to energetic games like fetch, tag, and hide-and-seek. While keeping your furry friend active and entertained, pay heed to these tips to ensure he is always completely safe.

Beware of Toxic Plant Species

It is shocking for some to discover that many everyday plants and flowers, including lilies, daffodils, azaleas and sago palms, are toxic to dogs. Sometimes, plants can cause mild digestive upsets but at other times, organ damage and even death can occur.

If you have a very small garden and know the exact species in it, simply remove any plants that are on the SPCA poisonous plants list. To play extra safe, have an expert gardener come in to possible spot any poisonous plants you may have missed.

If you spot any signs of poisoning, including vomiting, drooling, and fatigue, see your vet immediately.

Go Natural and Organic When You Can

Keeping our lawn beautiful is key, since when the weather is good, we use the garden area to entertain, catch a few rays of Vitamin D, and even enjoy activities such as outdoor yoga.

To reduce the need for harmful chemical fertilizers, pick the right lawn mower – one that you can program to cut only a third of grass blades. This top layer is thin and leafy, and decomposes quickly, providing up to one third of your lawn’s nitrogen needs.

When purchasing fertilizers, try to opt for organic varieties with non-toxic ingredients.

Finally, to keep insects away, use neem juice diluted in water as an effective repellent that is harmless to dogs.

Store Potential Irritants and Toxins Away

A garden shed that is large enough to store all your products and tools well is key. Leaving tools on grass can cause injury, while curious dogs enjoy sniffing and chewing on bottles, potentially harming their health.

Prevent Quick Escapes

To stop your dog from digging an escape route under the fence, build a smooth cement walkway between the fence and the lawn, or use large pots to act as a barrier between the two. To keep him happy and busy, build him a makeshift sandpit, burying toys under the sand to pique his interest.

Having a beautiful, safe garden is a matter of relying less on chemical products, removing poisoning risks, and preventing escapes. Keep your lawn as clear of clutter as possible, so your dog can enjoy running freely and playing the many games you have in store for him.