February is Pet Dental Health Month and a good time to learn how to keep your pet smiling and healthy.
February is Pet Dental Health Month and a good time to learn how to keep your pet smiling and healthy.
February is National Pet Dental Health Month! If left untreated, plaque and tartar buildup can lead to painful periodontal disease. As with many health issues, prevention is the best medicine.
Here are some ways you can take a proactive role in keeping your pet’s teeth healthy.
Keeping your pet’s teeth and gums healthy has tremendous benefits—some studies have shown that maintaining oral health can add up to five years to your pet’s life.
New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for humans! Your dog can also benefit from setting healthy goals for the new year.
Here are a few tips for starting the year off on the right paw.
The holiday season is upon us! Most pet parents include their furry best friends in the festivities, which can be fun for everyone involved.
However, while you’re celebrating, there are a few dangers to be aware of so that the holidays can be merry for everyone.
Decorations & Plants
Did you know that the average adult dog sleeps 12-14 hours a day? With all that time spent sleeping, it’s essential for them to have a comfortable bed. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a bed for your dog. Just like when you choose a bed for yourself, it can be overwhelming with all of the different options available. Here are a few guidelines to make the decision a little easier.
Small – Medium Sized Dogs
Generally the best bed for small to medium sized dogs is an oval or round one, with a lot of cushioning for them to rest their head and paws on. The sizing can be tricky, since dogs like to be cozy, but there should also be enough room for them to stretch out comfortably. The best way to get the size right is to bring your dog with you when you shop for the bed and try it out in the store.
Comfort and quality are the most important factors to consider when choosing a bed for your large dog. You’ll want something extra comfortable to protect them when they lay down on hard floors. Larger dogs wear down the foam in beds faster than smaller dogs, so generally the higher the quality, the longer it will last. If your dog suffers from arthritis or any joint issues, look for a high-quality memory foam.
If your dog needs extra warmth or likes to be snuggled in blankets, you’ll want something super cozy and warm. A cave or nest bed will allow your dog to burrow themselves, with or without blankets. Beds like these help your dog to feel very secure. As a bonus, these beds can be great for cats too—though probably not at the same time!
Discomfort associated with arthritis or aging joints in older dogs can sometimes make sleeping uncomfortable. A good option in this case is a memory foam bed. A thick memory foam bed will provide the essential firmness your older dog needs to sleep comfortably. These beds are usually machine washable, which makes it easy to keep them clean.
If you have a dog, you probably have experience with their digestive issues. Digestive problems can be caused by diseases, such as cancer, or by an obstruction in the digestive tract. However—and luckily—most digestive problems are much simpler in nature, with causes such as stress, a change in diet, a virus, or simply eating something that upsets their digestive system. Determining the cause of the gastric distress is the first step in treating your dog.
Inappropriate food sources—such as rich table food, cat food, garbage, and indigestible items from around the home and yard—are a common problem. Usually this will cause acute vomiting and/or diarrhea wiith a loss of appetite. Usually diarrhea is temporary, but when it lasts longer than 12-24 hours, you need to intervene in order to prevent dehydration. Early treatment is easy and will ensure quick recovery.
Overfeeding and/or feeding off the table can cause digestive issues. Stick to a normal feeding schedule, with a measured amount of nutritious food specially formulated for your dog’s needs.
One of the most preventable causes is foreign body obstruction. Pay close attention to your dog, especially on walks or while playing, to make sure your dog isn’t ingesting anything that would cause distress. Foreign objects can cause damage to and block the digestive tract, which often leads to surgery.
How to cope
It’s upsetting when your once happy, playful dog is suddenly lethargic, withdrawn, and possibly vomiting or ill with diarrhea. Because stress can cause digestive problems, try to keep your dog calm and well-adjusted. In times of high stress, you may notice your dog having more stomach issues. Find coping mechanisms that work for your dog, such as petting him or scratching his belly.
Early treatment is key
Although digestive problems are a normal part of life, they should not be ignored. Try to prevent digestive issues before they happen. When they do happen, early treatment will speed recovery and comfort to an uncomfortable family member. If your dog isn’t responding to typical treatment, the digestive problems may be caused by something more serious, like disease, parasites or a virus. If you even suspect that your dog is suffering from a serious digestive or gastrointestinal issue, contact your vet immediately.
Choosing a diet for man’s best friend is not a task to be taken lightly. We want our dogs to be as healthy as possible, and nutrition plays a very important part of their well-being. Grain-free foods have become popular among humans and among dog food diets as well. Is this the right choice for your dog?
The theory behind grain-free food for dogs is that protein-based, grain-free dog foods more closely mimic a canine’s natural or “ancestral” diet as a carnivore. However, mass-produced dog kibble generally uses inexpensive fillers like corn, wheat and barley to create bulk and reduce costs.
A dog’s digestive system has little support for breaking down and metabolizing complex carbohydrates and cereal grains. The inability to process these grains can cause damage to the lining of the digestive system, resulting in bowel inflammation disorders, food sensitivities, food allergies and obesity.
Most vets today recommend that carbohydrates and grains make up a small portion of a dog’s diet. Many grain-free dog foods contain more protein and animal fats and fewer carbohydrates than their grain-filled counterparts, and are therefore more easily digested.
Other benefits include:
Should you switch your dog to grain-free? If your dog has no health issues, you might not need to worry. Definitely consult your vet before making any changes, but check out the ingredients in your dog’s food. If corn, wheat or soy is listed as the first ingredient, you might consider switching to a different formula.
If you and your vet determine change is a good idea, make sure to introduce the new food gradually so your dog’s digestive system can adjust.
Dog skin problems are the most common reason for a visit to the vet’s office-accounting for almost one quarter of visits.
Being aware of some of the most common skin conditions your dog might face can help you keep him healthier and can help the vet narrow down the cause to figure out the best plan for treatment.
Dogs can develop sensitivities to common elements like lawn grasses, dust, pollen, mold and mildew. These allergens might make your dog itchy and uncomfortable. Moisture can also get trapped on the skin which causes ‘hot spots’, which is a painful moist reddish inflamed area of skin. Hot spots can spread quickly, so it’s best to treat them as soon as possible.
Food allergies are not as common, but when food allergies do occur, they are usually caused by proteins, both meat-based and plant-based. Beef, dairy and wheat are the most common allergens. The main symptom of food-based allergies is excessive itching/scratching and skin irritation, but it can also cause digestive issues.
Flea bites can also cause allergic reactions in dogs-this is known as parasitic dermatitis. Excessive itching, inflammation and hair loss are common symptoms of this, though tick bites and mites can also cause a similar reaction.
Infections can also cause dermatitis in dogs. The infection can be bacterial, fungal (such as ringworm), or yeast infections. Yeast infections are common in warmer weather and are often misdiagnosed as allergies. Itchy ears and paws are most often caused by yeast infections. Bacterial infections are often secondary infections to allergies, caused by sores from excessive scratching.
How to help
Parasitic dermatitis is the easiest of the causes to deal with – treat your home and your pets for fleas, and make sure they’re on a flea preventative. Once the fleas are eliminated, the itching will be too. Other allergies and irritants are more difficult to pinpoint though, so if the fleas are under control and your dog is still suffering, a vet visit is the best way to narrow down the possible culprits. Environmental allergens can be treated with medication or shots; food allergies can be managed by transitioning to a new food, recommended by your vet. It may require some trial and error to figure out the underlying cause, but your patience will be rewarded once your dog is feeling better!
Most dogs don’t mind being dirty—in fact, they enjoy it! Depending on your dog, bath time can be tricky. Some dogs, even water-loving breeds, are not fond of baths.
Here are some tips for making bath time easier for you, and your dog.
The ASPCA recommends bathing your dog at least once every 3 months, and veterinary dermatologists recommend it even more frequently, as often as once a week. Figure out what works best for you and your dog based on factors like how much time they spend outside and any skin conditions they may have (bathing more frequently is better for dogs with allergies).
Before the Bath
Pet Supermarket carries a large selection of shampoos and grooming supplies to make your dog’s bath a success!
As the weather warms up, the natural tendency is to want to spend lots of time outdoors soaking up the sunshine. While spending more time outdoors can be a great source of exercise and fun for your dog, it’s essential to be aware of the dangers of heat exhaustion. Here are some tips for keeping your best friend cool and safe this summer.
By following these tips, you can make sure you and your dog both have a safe, fun summer.
The amount of exercise a dog needs is dependent on several factors. A dog’s age, size, breed and overall health are all taken into consideration when determining how much exercise is sufficient. Generally speaking, for most dogs, a leashed 10-minute walk isn’t enough.
Dogs in the hunting, working or herding groups—labrador retrievers, collies, shepherds, hounds—require the most exercise. If your dog is in one of these groups and in good health, they should be getting at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise (Frisbee, soccer, agility courses) several times a week in addition to their daily walks.
For other breeds, pay attention to their signs to determine how much exercise is enough. If they’re still walking at full speed after 20 minutes, add another 10. Observing your dog’s behavior should give you clues to when they’re well-exercised.
Some additional tips:
Enjoy this daily routine with your dog—walking your dog is a bonding activity, in addition to enriching your dog’s life and health (and yours!).
Ticks are not only a nuisance, they can transmit diseases which can seriously harm your dog. Depending on your location, your dog could be subject to ticks year round, or at minimum three seasons of the year.
The four species of ticks and their active seasons are:
To keep your dog healthy and safe from tick-transmitted diseases, prevention is key. You must be aware of the environments where ticks can be found: on your dog, inside your home, and outdoors. Products like K9 Advantix II and Frontline Plus are topical treatments for preventing ticks from attaching to your dog. An indoor spray or fogger is a good option for treating your house—it will keep ticks and fleas away for up to 7 months. For treating the outdoor areas of your home, there are sprays you can attach to your water hose that will kill fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other insects.
If a tick ends up on your dog, removal is quick and easy with a product called Tick Key. It’s the only tick removal device that uses natural forward leverage to remove the entire tick, including the head. Tick Key is 99.9% effective on the safe removal of ticks from dogs as well as people.
Here are some other tips for removing ticks:
They are called “man’s best friend” for good reason. Dogs are affectionate creatures, and it’s because of their unconditional love that we keep them by our sides.
Here are just a few of the ways dogs show affection for their humans.
According to studies, dogs can sense your love for them, which they return to you. The dog-human bond is indeed very special.
Dog behavior and body language can sometimes be a bit of a head-scratcher. Being unsure about whether or not your dog is happy, sad, scared, or angry can lead to confusion and panic.
It is important to be able to decipher what your dog is trying to tell you with his or her facial cues and mannerisms. It can help create a better dog/human bond!
A helpful way to think about positive behavior in your dog is to look at how they stand and the way their muscles are working. A dog that is relaxed and comfortable with the surroundings will be calm and at ease, the muscles will not tense up and they will have a general serene disposition to their appearance.
A happy dog may playfully wag their tail and have their tongue out a bit to indicate playfulness, and be standing with their legs loosely apart and the head held high.
Conversely, a frightened or angry dog can take on an entirely different stance and it is important to note specific features. Ears back, a crouched position, a raised tail with a stiff stance are signs that your dog may be becoming agitated or scared. Furthermore, a wagging tail does not always mean happiness.
A dog with a lowered body and ears bent back with a slowly wagging tail could indicate fear which may turn into aggression as a means to protect himself.
All dogs are created differently, but their behaviors are pretty universal. Dogs respond differently to stimuli and it is important to understand your dog and be aware of how you can make him or her the most comfortable in any environment.
No dog or dog owner enjoys boredom. Boredom can lead to destructive behavior, such as chewing, digging or barking. Dogs need more than a few short walks a day or a yard to play in.
Dogs are thinking, social creatures who were bred to work alongside humans and therefore require mental stimulation.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise, and offer some variation to your routine. Explore new neighborhoods by varying the route you usually take, or change up the pace frequently. Be sure to allow time for sniffing rather than hurrying your dog along—they learn a lot from all of those interesting smells, so giving them time to sniff can offer mental stimulation.
Work on a new trick
Mental stimulation often makes dogs as tired as physical exercise does. Working on a new trick will allow their brain to engage and work on figuring out what you’re asking. You can work on the basics with them, such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘shake’, ‘lay down’, etc. If they’ve mastered basic commands, search for new tricks online or in books. Make sure the training is positive and enforced with rewards.
There are some simple games you can play with your dog that will offer some fun and excitement. ‘Nose games’ are ones where your dog must use his nose to find the treat—this can be something like hide and seek, or ‘find it!’. You can use toys and treats you already have that have a smell your dog will recognize easily. Tug-of-war is another game that can be a physical and mental outlet for your dog.
Doggy day care
If your dog has never been to doggy day care, boy, are they in for a treat. Most doggy day care centers offer supervised play for dogs of all ages, breeds and sizes, often separated by age or energy level. The combination of mental stimulation (figuring out their place in the pack, interacting with new dogs) and physical exercise (chasing other dogs, swimming in pools, etc) is hard to beat when it comes to engaging your dog.