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Tips & Facts for Pet Dental Health Month [Infographic]

February is Pet Dental Health Month and a good time to learn how to keep your pet smiling and healthy.

Tips & Facts for Pet Dental Health Month


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It’s Pet Dental Month!


dog with toothtrush

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.

  • Brush their teeth! It might take patience and practice, and some treats or rewards, but eventually it can even turn into a bonding experience. Make sure to use toothpaste that’s safe for pets. Brush gently for 30 seconds on each side of their mouth at least every other day.
  • Dental treats, toys and food: While not as effective as teeth brushing, products that are specifically designed to promote oral health are a good alternative. Check for the Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council to ensure the product meets the standards for effective plaque and tartar control.
  • Regular dental exams: Just like humans, pets need to have their teeth and gums checked by a vet once or twice a year. A basic dental exam can usually be done without sedation, unless your pet becomes aggressive or they are in pain.
  • Diet: Overall health begins with a good diet, but many dental health problems can be caused by malnutrition. Ask your vet for recommendations if your pet has nutrition issues that need to be addressed.

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.

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Starting The Year Off On The Right Paw

Healthy dog
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.

  • Always measure your dog’s food. More than 50% of pets in the US are overweight and obesity in pets can lead to serious health issues. Check the recommended feeding guidelines on your dog’s food bag, or check with your vet for more help on figuring out how many calories your dog actually needs.
  • Introduce your dog to a new activity. It’s easier than ever for humans to incorporate their dogs into their exercise routine—hiking,”doga” (dog yoga), kayaking and jogging are just a few ideas! You’ll both benefit from being out in the fresh air getting exercise—it’s a win-win!
  • Schedule a vet visit. Annual examinations are essential and a great way to stay on top of your dog’s health. Many health conditions are much easier to manage and treat when they’re detected early, and when the vet sees your dog on a regular basis, he’ll be more aware of anything out of the ordinary.
  • Make grooming your dog a regular habit. Some dogs require less maintenance than others, but all dogs will benefit from regular grooming. Brushing removes excess fur from the coat and helps distribute oils which keep the coat shiny and healthy. As a bonus, it’s also a bonding activity and helps show your dog that you love him.
  • Make good dental hygiene a priority. Routine dental care can help keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy, and can help prevent painful and costly problems in the future. Brush his teeth regularly with dog toothpaste, provide dental chews, and schedule regular cleanings with the vet.
  • Keeping your dog’s brain active can make it healthier! Studies have shown that mental stimulation can help reduce cognitive deterioration in aging animals. Teach your dog some new tricks, and regularly practice the ones he already knows. There are also a variety of interactive toys and puzzles that are engaging and offer treat rewards when solved.
  • Keep your dog’s ID info up to date. If any of your contact information has changed recently, make sure to update your pet’s tags and microchip. It’s the best way to ensure a lost dog makes its way home again.
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Holiday Safety for Dogs

A dog with santa cap

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

  • Secure your Christmas tree so there’s no danger of it falling on your dog. Also make sure they don’t drink the tree water—the stagnant water can contain bacteria that make them sick.
  • Keep mistletoe and holly out of reach—they can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in pets.
  • Don’t leave lighted candles unattended—dogs could burn themselves, or start a fire if they knock one over.
  • Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of reach.

Food Dangers

  • Avoid feeding your dog leftovers. Fatty, spicy and other human foods served during the holidays—especially bones—are dangerous. Be sure to keep an eye on unattended plates, as well as making sure the trash is secure.
  • Be sure to keep any chocolate safely out of reach, as it is dangerous for dogs. Xylitol is another ingredient that should be avoided.
  • Alcohol is definitely off limits! If ingested, your dog could become weak, ill and even go into a coma. Keep cocktails out of reach.

Party Time

  • If you have guests that are animal lovers, invite them to give your dog some attention with a walk or a petting session, especially if you’re busy preparing or entertaining.
  • Make sure all medications (yours and any your guests may bring into your home) are locked away and out of reach.
  • Make sure your dog has his own quiet space to retreat to, in case the party becomes too overwhelming.
  • As you count down to 2017, please be aware of the stress fireworks and noise poppers can cause to dogs. If your dog is one of the many who are terrified of the loud noises and booms, be prepared ahead of time with Pet Supermarket’s calming supplies. A Thundershirt works well for many dogs during fireworks (as well as thunderstorms). In addition, Pet Supermarket sells a variety of calming supplements and sprays—such as Head to Tail Calming—that can help your dog cope during times of extra stress.
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Your Guide to Dog Beds

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.

Large Dogs
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.

Cold Dogs
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!

Older Dogs
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.

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Digestive Problems in Dogs

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.

Dietary indiscretion
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/people food
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.

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Is Grain-Free Food Right for Your Dog?

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:

  • Helps keep dogs fuller longer resulting in less food being eaten
  • May help prevent or reduce canine food allergies
  • Provides more energy
  • Fewer and smaller stools
  • Healthier skin
  • Shinier coat
  • Less shedding
  • Better breath

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.

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Common Causes of Dog Skin Conditions

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!

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Bath Time! (Tips for Bathing Your Dog)

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.

How often?

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

  • Make sure you have a shampoo and/or conditioner that is especially formulated for dogs. Find what will work best for your dog—a Pet Supermarket associate would be happy to help you with recommendations.
  • Brush your dog thoroughly before getting him wet.
  • You can put a cotton ball in your dog’s ear canals to prevent water from getting inside—just remember to take it out after you’re done. Some dogs may benefit from the use of an ear powder after bathing. The powder helps absorb any excess moisture.
  • If you’re bathing your dog at home in the bathtub, putting a non-slip surface on the floor of the tub or a bathing tether can help relieve anxiety by giving your dog more traction and security.

Splish Splash

  • Now that you’re ready for the bath, it’s time for positive reinforcement. Offer treats, toys and affection to get your dog excited for the bath, and anytime he does anything that’s helpful during bath time. Stay calm and assertive—if you are anxious or angry, your dog’s actions will reflect your energy.
  • Use warm water, not hot. If your dog is anxious about baths, adding the water to the tub before he gets in may help calm him.
  • Start shampooing at your dog’s neck and work your way down to the tail and the toes. Use a damp washcloth to wash your dog’s face. Offer praise and treats along the way.
  • Once your dog is sudsed up, rinse with clean, warm water. If your dog is still dirty, you can repeat shampooing and rinsing as needed. If you’ll be using conditioner, you can massage it into your dog’s fur and then rinse well.

Drying Off

  • Have towels ready for drying—three is a good amount. One can go on the floor, one for drying your dog’s face and ears, and another for drying his body and feet. Some dogs don’t mind blow dryers if you’d prefer to go that route, just make sure it’s on the coolest setting so as not to burn your dog’s skin.
  • Don’t let your dog outside until he’s completely dry, or he might undo all of your hard work!

Pet Supermarket carries a large selection of shampoos and grooming supplies to make your dog’s bath a success!

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Tips For Keeping Your Dog Cool This Summer

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.

  • First and foremost, keep your dog hydrated. Dogs will need more water than usual when the temperatures rise, so make sure to keep the water bowl full of fresh, cool water, and take water for your dog with you on any walks. If a dog gets dehydrated, it can turn into heatstroke quickly. Signs of dehydration include dry nose, dry mouth and gums, excessive panting, and vomiting or loss of appetite. If your dog has a few of these symptoms, see your vet immediately.
  • Don’t let the temperature fool you. Dogs can overheat in temperatures as low as 80 degrees. Add in humidity and exertion, and it gets dangerous quickly.
  • Change your walking time. Avoid the hottest parts of the day by going for walks in the early morning and late evening, after the sun has set. If possible, avoid hot surfaces like sand or asphalt, as your dog’s paws are sensitive and can burn easily.
  • NEVER leave your dog in a closed car (even with the windows cracked); on a warm day, the temperature inside can rise to over 150 degrees within minutes.
  • Go for a swim! Swimming is the best activity for a dog in the summertime. It’s not only great exercise, but it can be an opportunity for bonding while the two of you cool off together.

By following these tips, you can make sure you and your dog both have a safe, fun summer.

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How Long Should You Walk Your Dog?

How long should I walk my dog?

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:

  • Limit your dog’s outdoor activity in extreme weather, including temperatures higher than 85º F.
  • Older dogs, younger dogs, and dark-haired dogs are more sensitive to heat. Walk your dog in morning or early evening to avoid heat extremes.
  • Protect your dog’s paws in cold weather. In the winter, avoid salted paths—they can cause chemical burns on their foot pads.
  • On long walks, don’t forget to bring water for your dog.
  • Even toy and small breeds need outside exercise and daily walks. Pugs, for example, are prone to obesity, so they require exercise to maintain a healthy weight.

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!).

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Tips on How to Prevent & Remove Ticks

How to prevent and remove ticks.

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:

  • Brown Dog Tick – active all year
  • American Dog Tick, Deer Tick, Lone Star Tick – only present in spring, summer and fall

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:

  • Don’t remove ticks with your fingers. The tick will most likely be carrying pathogens to diseases which are dangerous to pets and humans. Avoid getting tick saliva or blood on any parts of your skin.
  • Don’t squeeze, crush or squash a tick. Doing so can get the tick’s bodily fluids on the host.
  • Don’t attempt a “home remedy”. Using petroleum jelly or other substances in an attempt to smother the tick will be unsuccessful, as the tick can live without air for long periods of time. Using a lighter, fingernail polish remover or other repellents to try to force the tick to remove itself will also not work. In fact, it could cause the tick to vomit onto its host, which could end up transmitting the diseases you were trying to avoid.
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How Dogs Show Affection

How your dog show's affection

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.

  • Tail Wagging
    Perhaps one of the most obvious signs of happiness, a wagging tail signifies pure joy. If the mere sight of you prompts your dog’s tail to wag, that’s a pretty sure sign that he’s very fond of you.
  • Leaning
    A dog leaning on you means they consider you someone who can protect them and keep them safe, as well as a way of showing their affection by wanting to be close to you and seeking attention.
  • Cuddling
    It’s no question that dogs are motivated by food. But the thing your dog does immediately after eating is a telling sign of what’s important to him. If your dog cuddles with you right after eating, that’s a good sign of puppy love.
  • Sleeping in your room or in your bed
    Regardless of how you feel about your dog sleeping in your bed and whether you allow it, if your dog has the option to sleep near you and chooses to do so, that’s a display of affection and loyalty.
  • Following you around
    Dogs are social creatures, so they want to be with their pack. If your dog follows you around, he is clearly devoted to you and wants to be wherever you are.

According to studies, dogs can sense your love for them, which they return to you. The dog-human bond is indeed very special.

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How to Interpret Your Dog’s Body Language

Interpreting a dog's body language.

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.

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Helping Your Dog Fight Boredom

Helping your dog fight boredom

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.

Play games
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.

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