An Almost Irreplaceable Bond

Most of us consider our dogs to be members of our families, and our goal is to make sure they are as happy and healthy as possible throughout their lives. Too quickly they pass through puppyhood, adult hood, and become seniors. Dr Michel Selmer, DVM, offers specific suggestions that pet caregivers should do to make life easier for their aging dogs:

  • If your dog is more than six years old, schedule a complete exam at least twice a year, in hope that any problem will be discovered early. The exam should include a complete physical exam, blood test, urinalysis, nutritional analysis, and fecal testing for parasites.
  • Better bed….they make special orthopedic beds where dogs can relax and be more comfortable.
  • Exercise, but less intensity! Keep a senior dog moving because movement helps lubricate the joints and maintain muscle mass.
  • Handicap accessibility. Jumping up gets harder as dogs age….Build or purchase a ramp or steps to make it easier…..and they have ramps for the car as well as the home.
  • Many homes have hardwood floors or slippery tiles. Be aware that a slip and fall can be just as much a safety hazard for your aging dog as it is for humans,.
  • Elevate the food bowls. Raising the food bowls make it easier for her to eat and swallow foods.

The reality is that our beloved dog usually leaves us too soon, as Valsa George explains:

“Out through the window of his lonely cottage the man vacantly gazes; his eyes wandering over the dew dampened meadows and the sloping paths. Over them, how many times, he had rambled with Jack, his spaniel who died a few months earlier. Never before had he felt so lonely, and the memories of his dog haunted him. With nothing much to look forward to now, he is in no hurry to leave his cottage ….there is no one to walk with him. Each day as he sips his tea, he misses his dog. Old memories swirl around in his mind. It is with a wave of deep regret that he recognizes that he is alone. There is no one to care for, and no one to care for him. His world is so cold and he feels so lost. Once his dog shared his board, and owned his bed. How he misses him…with mist blurring his eyes and with a sigh, the man once more looks into the meadows for away.”

Every day, amazing dogs leave us.. We pay special tribute to two: Tyler was one of 6 abandoned ditch puppies who were brought to the TLC in 2003….. he was soon adopted by his forever family, Lee and Karen Kraemer. Tyler traveled the country, enjoying family and friends wherever they went. We were eagerly looking forward to their yearly visit to the shelter this fall, but Tyler, a much loved and pampered fellow was old and tired, and we mourn his loss.

We met John Adams, manager of the awesome Hearts United For Animals Rescue in Nebraska, years ago when we assisted in a puppy mill rescue. In late August of 2005, John and a host of volunteers journeyed into the treacherous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. What they encountered was unimaginable. John and the HUA crew pulled dogs from flood waters, abandoned homes, rotting piles of debris, and even rooftops. The conditions were incredibly dangerous and heartbreaking for all. HUA transported more than 100 dogs from the wreckage of Katrina back to the HUA shelter. Eartha was one of them. Eartha stole John’s heart and she became his best friend in the world, and it was decided that she should live for him forever. Over the years, Eartha left her mark in many ways…she won many ribbons at agility meets, but most importantly, she traveled with John and spent many hours on the road while they rescued dogs from puppy mills and hoarding situations. She had a special way with those so sick and frightened. A couple weeks ago this amazing dog—whose mysterious connection with her beloved human John and her ability to communicate with and calm some of the most troubled of animals, earned her angel wings. Brave, beautiful, silver-muzzled, Eartha had just grown too tired. John instinctively knew that his precious dog was saying, “I came. I left my mark! Dad, it’s time to move forward.”

Old dogs: their affection is timeless; their devotion is ageless; their love is unconditional. Blessed is the person who has the love of an old dog.

The Importance of Routine

Most humans are creatures of habit, and building a routine for your dog is mutually beneficial. Pleasant routines prevent anxiety in dogs, re-enforcing the fact that there is security, logic and order in their life with you.

  • Give your dog his meals at specific times…most vets recommend feeding twice a day. This routine will help keep your dog healthy, and also make it easier for you to determine when your dog will need bathroom breaks. Dogs need free access to fresh clean water at all times.
  • Take your dog out for potty breaks at approximately the same times each day. When and how much your dog eats affects what comes out….,let your dog out after meals, after walks, after excessive play, when he wakes up in the morning, and before turning in for the night. House training problems are usually caused by inconsistency.
  • Dogs need exercise every day, no matter how busy you are, or what the weather is. Play with him indoors if necessary by running around, playing hide and seek, or tossing a ball for him to retrieve. Without sufficient exercise, dogs will become restless and exhibit inappropriate behavior.
  • All dogs need to be bathed regularly….how often depends on the skin characteristics, breed, and sometimes age. After each bath, brush thoroughly, but gently. Don’t use human shampoo….get a shampoo especially formulated for dogs.
  • Dogs are social creatures who enjoy interaction with both humans and other dogs. Make an effort to schedule play dates with other dogs. A Doggie Day Care Center can be a great place, or it can be a nightmare….Visit several times before you entrust your dog to the care of someone else.
  • Routine veterinary care for vaccinations, parasite control, and dental care are needed to keep your dog healthy. Adult dogs should have a complete vet exam at least once a year; puppies need monthly visits until they are at least 4 months old, and geriatric dogs should see their vet at least twice a year. Because a caregiver is more familiar with a dog than anyone else, you should routinely watch for subtle signs of illness,.
  • There are many routinely used household products that are hazardous, including chemicals, pesticides, cleaning supplies, antifreeze, electrical cords , drugs, alcohol, and poisonous plants. Elements of house design, such as steep stairs, slippery floors, or open windows also pose potential dangers and should be corrected as much as possible.
  • With today’s hectic lifestyle, many dogs spend extended periods of time alone, so it is important that she be exercised before being left. Crates were a great invention, but they were really not intended for all-day confinement. If possible, keep her in a bathroom, or porch where there is an open area with room to move around. Provide a cozy environment with blankets and favorite toys. A stuffed Kong can occupy most dogs for several hours!


This morning, I woke up and kissed my dad’s head; I peed on the carpet, then went back to bed.

I’m sure God loves me…I know it’s true, cause he gave me so many great things to chew.

Rugs, plants, or rocks…I really don’t care…what I truly like best is Mom’s underwear.

That obedience book was sort of yummy, but it didn’t set well on my poor puppy tummy.

My daily routine includes much to do…I bark at the mail man; I bark at the wind. I race through the house and scatter my toys. When the day ends, I get in my spot, between Mom and Dad and think ‘bout my day and what fun I had.

Mama gives me a kiss and snuggles me tight. She whispers so softly, “My darling, goodnight,” and I know for sure life is all right.


Appreciate Your Pet

While we always love and appreciate our pets, the Animal Welfare Association claims this as a special month to appreciate them even more, stressing that appreciation means love, understanding, paying extra attention to your pet, and doing something special. Here are just a few ideas for you to celebrate your pet this month.

  • Good old fashioned attention is always welcome…taking them to an extra long walk (maybe on a new route, with new sights and smells)…extra tummy rubs or ear massaging…. quality lounging time with your dog.
  • Nothing shows your appreciation more than making sure your pet is happy and healthy. It is important to stay up to date on necessary vaccinations, and have regular checkups. Many problems can be easily corrected if detected early. Sounds gross, but fecal checks are probably one of the first indicators of health problems. Usually a healthy poop is well-formed, firm but not hard, moist, and doesn’t fall apart when picked up. If your dog’s poop strays from the norm for a day or two, it may not be serious, and even blood doesn’t mean that your dog is dying, but it definitely warrants a visit to the vet, and just because you don’t see worms doesn’t mean that parasites are not infecting your dogs. A fecal sample should be taken to the vet for examination at least once a year, or if you detect a change in color, odor, consistency, contents, or amount of poop.
  • A couple new toys are a great way to appreciate your dog, but if your pooch already has an over-abundant supply of toys, have a “toy exchange party. Your dog-lover friends probably have the same situation. Toys that are in good condition can be washed and exchanged… toys that a friend’s dog is no longer interested in can become a “new” toy for yours! And it gives you an excuse to throw a party!
  • Volunteer at your local shelter or rescue…your opportunities are almost endless…writers, graphic artists, and photographers can help produce fliers, newsletters, or information packets; dog health professionals and groomers can offer free or discounted services….dog trainers can provide positive training methods….socializing or transporting the dogs …money, supplies and your time are always needed. Keep in mind that anything you do is appreciated.
  • According to research, dogs have the genetic potential to live 20 years, but humans often rob years from their lives by feeding low quality pet foods. Deciphering a pet food label may be confusing, so, an independent on-line site, ranks all the major dog foods. Click on BRAND and it will rate any specific food, or you may also review all brands A to Z. If you check the ranking of the dog food you are currently feeding, you may decide that it’s time to make a change. (Popular foods like Beneful, Iams, Kibbles and Bits, Pedigree, Purina, and Science Diet all rate law). It is also important what treats you are giving your dog. Most commercial treats are not healthy, and some are downright toxic. There are continual warnings about dog treats (and foods) that are potentially poisonous to your dog.

We recommend NO commercial treats, but especially avoid those that are imported from China. Make your own homemade treats for your companion animal. There are plenty of recipes that can be found online. Here is a very easy-to-make healthy treat:

  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 ½ cups flour (preferably wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup non fat dry milk powder
  • 6 tablespoons of margarine.

Mix ingredients and knead until the dough forms a ball Pinch off small bits and drop on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. (If you want to make fancy looking cookies, roll to ½ inch think and cut into dog bone shape… the dogs don’t care about their appearance, but if they are for gifts, they will look more impressive.)

“Dogs have given us their absolute all…We are the center of their universe….We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.
They serve us in return for scraps….It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made…they are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole” (Roger Caras) CELEBRATE PET APPRECIATION MONTH BY SHOWING YOUR DOG SOME EXTRA LOVE AND ATTENTION !


Beat Winter Boredom

“The weather outside is crappy, and I tell the dogs to be happy, but to all this ice and snow, they just howl and say, “Go away, go away, go away.” It is so slick and nasty, that even the dogs are complaining, and more ice and snow are on the way. “Go away, go away, go away!!!”

Miserable, inclement weather is here, and the forecast doesn’t encourage any of us to get outside, but dogs that are not regularly exercised are likely to develop behavioral problems such as chewing, excessive barking and separation anxiety. It is their cry for help: Hey, I am lonely and bored. I will have to do something to get my human’s attention and any attention is better than none. So what do you do to use up some of your dog’s pent up energy? Playing Frisbee inside the kitchen is probably not the best idea, but there are many creative ways to keep your dog busy indoors, so that he doesn’t chew up shoes, shred newspapers, and damage the furniture.

  • Does your dog know the basic obedience commands? Does she have a reliable recall and sit and stay? Even well trained dogs need a refresher course now and then to keep them sharp. All dogs should have a reliable, sit, stay, drop it, and come.
  • If you’ve been thinking about teaching your dog some scent work games, the “Which Hand Game” is a great starter. The only thing you’ll need is some dog treats (we recommend homemade, but some dogs respond to veggies like carrot chips or green beans, and a small bit of cheese is always a winner). Place a treat in one hand. Close your fists and hold them out in front of your dog. Let your dog choose which hand it’s in. When he sniffs or paws he correct hand, open it up, and give him the treat. If he chooses incorrectly don’t discourage him, just try again until he catches on.
  • Another version of the hand game is the “Three Cup Game”. Place a treat under one of three cups and have your dog choose the correct one. Once she gets the hang of it, mix up the cups so she isn’t just relying on visuals.
  • Hide and Seek is a favorite with most dogs. Have your dog sit and wait while you find a hiding spot. Call him when you are hidden, and praise enthusiastically when he finds you. Start with easy places, and gradually find more difficult hiding places.
  • A controlled “Game of Tug” offers the opportunity to get a bit more exercise. Just don’t let the game escalate to an aggressive exchange. Stop the game before she gets overly enthusiastic.
  • Have your dog sit and stay while you hide some smelly treats around the house. Start with easy hiding spots and work your way up once your dog is accustomed to using his nose.
  • With a little patience and persistence, your dog can learn the names of her toys. Start by playing with one specific toy and giving it a name every time you handle it. After some practice and praise, your dog will associate that verbal name with the chosen toy. Once she has learned the names of several specific toys, test her skill by seeing if she can pick out a specific one from among her other toys.
  • When your dog knows the names of some of his toys, teach him the “go find it” game. Put his toys in a pile or container, and tell him to “go find” a specific toy. Keep it fun and reward handsomely! This game will give him a great mental workout.
  • Most of us have enough room for a simple game of fetch. Hallways, stairways, and big living rooms are popular choices. Just be careful to put away any item that could be broken. If you don’t like the idea of playing fetch indoors, turn it into a simple game of catch.
  • If you are too busy to interact with your dog, a stuffed Kong is a great alternative. Stuff with kibble, peanut butter, bits of cheese, or any healthy food. The tighter you stuff it, the longer your dog will be interested in it. Stuff a couple Kongs and put them in the freezer for use when needed.

After an exercise session or game, remember that a dog is a social creature. There’s nothing she will enjoy more than just a relaxing snuggle session with you and a tummy massage is always appreciated when your dog misbehaves. She or he is probably just bored. Get your imagination going and enjoy some winter fun!

Reliable Recall Could Save Your Dog’s Life

Having a healthy, happy dog means having a dog that is balanced in both physical and emotional needs, and accomplishment of this goal requires training. Sponsored by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, January is National Train Your Dog Month, an event designed to promote the importance of socialization, and benefits of training, emphasizing the sad fact that many dogs are relinquished to animal shelters every year for behavior and training issues that could have been easily solved with proper socialization and positive, gentle, science-based methods of training. According to trainer Ken Ramirez, “Training is not a luxury; it is a key component to good animal care, and enhances the quality of life for our pets. It is far more than just teaching a dog to do cute tricks. Training is about teaching a dog how to live in our world safely.”

“COME” is probably the most basic command every dog needs to learn in order to live in our world safely. A dog that won’t come when he is called is a danger to himself and others and a frustration for his caregiver. We’ve all been there. The door gets opened, and the dog dashes out. We call and call and then frantically race after him, and when we finally catch him, we scold him. Not the best approach.

To get your dog to come to you EVERY time, you have to make it worth his while. An example is given by Wendy Nicberg, whose dog darted out and ran into the street. She took a deep breath and shouted, “Linus, COOKIE.” The dog turned around and raced back, eager for a cookie!

“Come” should always be used in a positive way, never involving unpleasantness or punishment. Caregivers often sabotage the training by ordering the dog to come when he is doing fun things, and he soon learns that the command “come” or “come here” means, “quick…run the other way, or my fun will end.” NEVER call your dog to come and then give him a bath, or confine him, and certainly never punish him when he comes. If she has misbehaved and you shout, “Bad dog…come here…bad dog”, she will naturally be reluctant to come the next time you call. COME should always mean that something good will happen to him, something better than whatever he’s doing at the time. If you have overused the word, Come, to the point that your dog has learned to ignore it, choose a new word, such as “Cookie” or “treat” or “here.” ( ALL family members should use the same word ALL the time.)

Begin “Come” training indoors or in an enclosed area: Say your dog’s name, and add the recall word. Praise her as soon as she starts to come, and be generous with rewards. High value treats such as small cubes of cheese, tiny bits of chicken, or her favorite homemade biscuit are usually effective, especially if offered before meals, when she is hungry.

Outdoors, without an enclosed area, is tougher. It is better to attach a long, light line to your dog’s collar or harness (NO choke collar), so that he is easier to catch if he gets distracted and tries to run after something. Begin by calling him when he is NOT doing something he is really enjoying, so you have a better chance of his responding. Again praise generously, and offer special treats, so that he learns that coming means high value treats. Briefly interact with him, and then allow him to go back to his activity. You don’t want him to associate coming with the end of play time.

Call your dog using this method (with long safety lead attached) several times a day for a couple weeks—in circumstances when you are sure he will come. Use the same recall word consistently and always be generous with rewards. Then comes the big test, no safe enclosure, no lead attached. Once learned, consistently practice this activity.”Use it or Lose it!” Rewards and repetition are keys to training your dog to come, and really reliable recall takes lots of practice, lots of patience and lots of treats, but it no exaggeration to say that effective recall might sometime save your dog’s life.

Resolutions for a New Year

Another year has passed… this new year is a 366 page book of blank pages. What goes on those pages is up to each one of us. As we make traditional resolutions involving personal growth, physical fitness, and financial stability, it is also a great opportunity to take stock of our dog’s needs and make sure that his New Year is also a healthy and happy one. Need some specific ideas?

  • Most of us could benefit from dropping a few pounds, and the same is probably true of your faithful four-footed companion. Estimates indicate that half of all companion animals in the U.S. are overweight—a condition that can lead to major health concerns. Take a look at your dog from above…he should have a waist—a narrowing of his torso behind the ribcage, and in front of his hips. When you view him from the side, his tummy should tuck up behind his ribcage and in front of his hips. Finally, if you place your thumbs on his spine, spread your hands, and run them down his sides from shoulder to tail, you should be able to feel his ribs without pressing too hard. If any of these tests fail, your dog is probably overweight! A better exercise program, and fewer treats may be all that is needed!
  • Annual exams are important for both humans and canines. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to make an appointment for your dog to receive a thorough checkup from a veterinarian. Exams are important because animals can’t tell us when something is abnormal, and by the time they display signs of illness, the problem might be advanced, making effective treatment more difficult. Don’t wait for a crisis to motivate you to schedule a pet exam.
  • Update contact information to ensure that your friend has a well-fitting collar with current information listed on the tag, just in case you and he become separated. Don’t forget to update microchip information too!
  • Training is not a luxury; appropriate training makes life with your dog more enjoyable for everyone. Yelling, or physically hitting our dogs is never productive. Dogs bark, dig, or chew, because what’s what dogs do, and because they have not been taught behavior that we consider polite, and refocused their energies. Our obligation is to teach them what we want them to do with consistent, proactive instruction (and a few tasty treats!) Good dogs are dogs that are TAUGHT good habits! Lifelong training keeps the bond with your dog strong, and helps you to continually build on your relationship.
  • Providing the right food, the right housing, adequate water, and comfortable shelter are basics, but sharing our lives with our animals is a privilege, and they depend on us to provide them more than just essentials if they are to thrive. They require toys, attention, and, just like the two legged toddlers, need love and attention on a daily basis. Interaction with an animal you love provides wellness benefits for you– emotional calming, mood enhancing, lowered blood pressure– as well as your animal friend. It’s a win-win situation.
  • Volunteering at your local animal shelter will not only enhance animals’ lives, it can make your life more enjoyable. Policies vary from shelter to shelter, but most shelters are thankful for volunteers, so contact your area shelter to see how you can help. It’s another win-win situation.

If you do something every day in 2016 to make life better for a needy dog… just a small act of kindness… at the end of the year you will have made 366 canines happy, or brightened their lives, and will also bring added joy into your own life! HAPPY NEW LEAP YEAR!

National Pet Awareness Month

It’s official: companion animals enhance our health and well-being. The devotion and unconditional love that pets show their caregivers is awesome, and even the Centers for Disease Control admit that there are many health benefits to sharing life with a dog, so let’s set some time during November to honor National Pet Awareness Month with a favorite four-legged companion . Medical research reveals that pets can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, generate positive feelings, and promote relaxation. They have positive impacts on people of all ages: they influence social and emotional development in children, promote an active lifestyle, and documentation has evidenced that in some cases, they have even been able to detect the oncoming episodes of seizures. The extra boost of exercise can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, levels and triglycerides, explains the Centers for Disease Control.

Pets fulfill the natural craving humans have for emotional relationships, and there are many ways pets make us feel better. A companion animal helps us feel less lonely and isolated. Ask many citizens living alone and they will admit that pets give them a sense of purpose; they always need something—food, a walk, a snuggle, or just a kind word. And as an added benefit, take a walk with your dog through the neighborhood, and more than likely someone will talk to you. Studies have shown that people walking with a dog talk to new people more often than if the dog wasn’t with them. Coming home after a tough day at work gives you something to look forward to…If you have a pet, you are never alone, and no matter how cranky you get, your dog always forgives you , and continues to show affection, offering unconditional and enduring love.

How is it that your dog can so powerfully influence your physical and emotional health? Experts explain it this way: “It’s providing a focus of attention that’s outside of one’s self. Pets let you focus on them rather than focusing inward on yourself all the time. One of the best ways to reduce stress and improve your outlook on life is to “get over yourself” which can sometimes be difficult to do, and caring for a pet takes your focus off yourself and the love and attention you receive in return is tremendously gratifying. Your dog accepts you without question, expects nothing of you, and is content just to share space with you.”

Some days we can hardly find time for ourselves, much less our dogs, but they deserve more than just water and food, and a quick trip outside to do their business. Maybe this month is a good time to MAKE time and continue throughout the year..

Every dog deserves:

  • Wellness checks: Do not wait until he has a major health issue.. regular visits to the vet often catch potential problems before they become serious threats to the dog’s health. Veterinary care can be expensive, but the positive effect pets have on their caregivers outweighs the cost to keep them healthy
  • Regular grooming: Grooming is important for more than just appearance; matted hair traps heat and prevents air from circulating freely, and early detection of lumps or bumps can be important discoveries during brushing.
  • Consistent , positive training: Obedience is important, but dogs do not automatically know the house rules and regulations. Training takes time, and bad behavior is usually because humans have not taken the time to teach them.
  • Housetraining also takes time, and patience.
  • Mental and physical exercise: All work and no play makes for a restless, bored dog. Dogs love to play, and you should MAKE time to play with your dog and give him physical exercise and mental stimulation. If left without appropriate outlets, your dog could become destructive or show other behavior problems.

When life gets hectic, and you feel overwhelmed, make time for your dog, and you will both feel better.


Help Your Dog Avoid the Back to School Blues

When summer is over and it’s time to go back to school, the kids often suffer from a bout of “back to school blues” as they adjust to classroom regimentation, but the effect isn’t limited to the two legs. All summer long, there was probably someone home with the dog, and now that everyone is back to fall schedules, dogs may feel neglected, or even experience anxiety or depression, and look for inappropriate ways to cope. According to veterinarian Nick Dodman, nearly 20 percent of our nation’s 80 million dogs have some degree of separation issues, and more than half of dogs with separation anxiety will bark, howl or whine, and some will destroy something, leaving behind scratched doors, damaged blinds or torn curtains. Dodman emphasizes that dogs like structure and when that structure is disrupted, it is sometimes difficult for dogs to adjust to changes, such as to long stretches of being home alone.

Even if your dog does not exhibit signs of separation anxiety, she will appreciate a routine that ensures she gets enough attention and exercise. Here are a few strategies that will make the home-alone transition less traumatic:

  • Be consistent. Keep as close to the same schedule as he is used to for feeding, playtime, and exercise, but if necessary, get up early to take the dog for a walk or have some playtime before everyone leaves for the day. This will help your dog feel less ignored in the hustle and bustle of the morning, and burn off excess energy before you leave. A good walk will help start the day off right, setting the stage for good behavior all day. If you can’t walk outside, a tread mill is a life saver. Most dogs can be taught to enjoy treadmilling with a minimum of training.
  • Keep departures and arrivals low key. Car keys, lunch boxes, and back packs clinking and clanging will have your dog waiting at the door expecting to be included in any anticipated activity. No “huggy-kissy, I’ll miss you” scenes which will unintentionally create anxiety in him. Act calm, quiet and casual…if you act like it’s no big deal, then it won’t be a big deal.
  • Make your dog’s home-alone time a source of pleasure and discovery by leaving a few safe toys around the house, being sure to hide them in areas where the dog is allowed, and consider leaving food-dispensing games. A few well stuffed Kongs will provide hours of diversion for her. (Be sure to choose the best sized kongs…large enough that she couldn’t possibly swallow them, but not so big that she can’t get her jaws around it) If you stuff Kongs in the evening and freeze them, you can just grab several from the freezer in the morning.. When filling a Kong, be sure that the dessert, the last thing your dog will be able to extract from the toy, is packed in first. Make this layer irresistible, to keep the dog motivated all the way to the end of the Kong. Fill the first third of the cavity with tasty bits of cheese, bits of bacon, or whatever special goodies suits your dog’s fancy. Then fill the next two-thirds with your dog’s regular food, mixed with something sticky and tasty like cream cheese, low fat yogurt, or peanut butter. Top the Kong off with a particularly tasty morsel sticking out of the opening to give your dog an immediate reward. Some trainers advocate feeding the dog’s entire morning’s kibble in Kongs. (Remember to wash the Kongs regularly…they can be placed on the top rack of the dishwasher or scrubbed by hand.)
  • If possible take a lunch break…..if someone in your house can go home during lunch to let the dog out for a quick walk. It will really help relieve the stress of being alone for 8 hours. If that’s not an option, consider having a friend stop by or paying a dog walker, or a doggie day care a few days a week.
  • At the end of a day alone, remember that your dog needs to be played with. Another walk, or playtime in the yard gets out all that pent up energy and lets her know you still love her even if you have to be gone.

Help your dog beat the back to school blues, and if problems arise, remember punishment for anxiety or inappropriate behavior is NEVER productive. The dog is misbehaving because he is upset or traumatized, not out of spite. Patience, persistence, and positive reinforcement will usually correct any minor difficulties.

Recognize the Danger Signs of Heat Exhaustion

It is hot. Really hot and humid, and as the temperatures soar, so does the danger of your dog suffering from heatstroke. We already know that dogs have more difficulty controlling their body temperature in warm weather than humans do. In fact, when we are mildly uncomfortable in the heat, our dogs are likely very uncomfortable simply because they are not equipped with many sweat glands as people have.

On hot days, a dog gradually escalates his cooling mechanisms. First he begins to pant, exposing his tongue and mouth to air. Then he lets his tongue hang out to further increase surface area. The blood vessels under the mucous membranes dilate in an attempt to improve heat exchange across the moist surfaces. Finally, the shape of the tongue changes… it gets wider at the tip, often turning upward and flaring the outside edges. When exercising your dog in warm weather, always watch his tongue. If you hear him panting loudly or see the end of his tongue widening, your dog has just used his last cooling mechanism, and may be moving into heat exhaustion, which can result in heatstroke. It’s time to take a rest and get him to a cool location immediately.

Hot, humid weather is not the only cause of heatstroke. Extreme activity alone can cause heatstroke, and when added to warm weather, it can quickly become deadly. This can be a real problem for the canine athlete. The muscles provide a portion of a sleeping dog’s body heat, and when the dog uses his muscles to exercise the amount of heat produced by the muscles can increase greatly over that of a dog at rest. A working dog’s body temp may rise from normal to 105 degrees or even higher in just minutes, which explains why long – distance sled dogs can become overheated at low temperatures.

First signs of heat exhaustion are heavy, rapid breathing, a widened tongue, and drooling. If not immediately moved to a cool area, the dog will begin to show signs of heatstroke, including rapid pulse, glazed eyes, elevated body temperature, failure to respond to commands, warm, dry skin, excessive whining or agitation, staggering, vomiting, and eventual collapse. It is important to note that only one of these symptoms has to be present to indicate the dog may be in trouble.

Be proactive and address environmental causes of heatstroke ahead of time. Provide shade and plenty of water if your dog is to be outdoors for any length of time. Take walks during cooler morning or evening hours and, although it seems obvious, NEVER leave your dog in a car, or tied outside in the sun.

If you see signs of heatstroke, immediate action is needed. Start soaking him with cool water. Do NOT use ice-cold water because that can constrict blood vessels and worsen the condition. Once the dog is wet, if available, a fan or air conditioner pointed in her direction is helpful. As soon as possible, get the dog to your vet, who will continue treatment as well as administer intravenous fluids or an enema to cool her from the inside.

Be alert to the possibility of canine heatstroke, and curb your dog’s enthusiasm when necessary on these hot humid days, so both humans and canines can enjoy the long, wonderful dog days of summer.

It’s Officially Spring

The calendar declares that spring has arrived, and although some of us question whether or not it’s really here, we are hopeful. It has been a record breaker winter in many parts of the country but with the worst behind us, we feel the urge to get moving. Most of us paid the price for the bitter cold winter. We gained a couple of extra pounds, but rationalized that is only natural to put on a little layer of fat, and now that decent weather is here, it is time for both two-legs and four-legs to get out there and shape up. If you’ve packed on some extra weight during the winter, there’s a good chance your dog has too, so if he seems a little too padded, it is important to start some safe slimming strategies now, before a pleasantly plump pooch turns into a sausage dog.

According to the Veterinary Medical Association, obesity is the fourth leading cause of death among canines, and dogs carrying too much weight means extra stress on the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and other body organs, so overweight animals (and humans) are more likely to suffer from cardiac disease, respiratory problems, digestive disorders, and high blood pressure . Joints, ligaments, tendons, and bones suffer from excess wear and tear, so they endure arthritis, joint injuries, leg problems, and back ailments. Overheating, skin disease and reproductive problems are common complaints, and there is always a greater risk during anesthesia and surgery. An extra seven pounds on a dog that should weigh 35 pounds is equivalent to an extra 30 pounds on a human weighing 150.

Exercise needs be a part of both a human’s and a dog’s weight loss program, and a great way to shape up is to plan activities that combine a workout for both canine and human. Any weight loss program should include walking, but after a sedentary winter, start slowly and increase the frequency and intensity of exercise. Begin with just short walks around the block and then work toward a game of fetch, and maybe a walk through the woods or park, taking different routes to make the trip more enjoyable for both of you. Set aside time each day to exercise with your dog, so it becomes part of your routine, and not just something you do when you think of it or have the time.

Gradually work up to longer, more active sessions as your tolerance and your dog’s tolerance increases. Playing ball or hide and seek are options, and another great way to boost weight loss is to get involved with a canine sport such as agility which offers a variety of physical and mental activity, both for dog and caregiver.

You don’t have to shell out a lot of money to train your dog in agility. Backyard obstacle courses are a great way to provide exercise, build trust with your dog, and prevent boredom. Three common types of obstacles used in agility programs—jumps, tunnels, and weave poles, can be set up in your own yard. Jump obstacles can be built entirely out of inexpensive PVC pipes, and a flexible children’s play tunnel makes a great tunnel…they are usually lightweight, but also heavy enough so that they won’t move when your dog runs through them. . As for weave poles, avoid hard and immovable materials that could injure your dog if he misjudges the distance between poles. Orange traffic cones are bulkier than the weave poles used in agility competitions, but if you are just casually training your dog, they will work fine. Wherever you set up your agility course, ensure that there are no hidden dangers around the course, and that there is enough room for her to run around. As long as you put safety first, you can easily put together an obstacle course that is good for both of you.

Whatever weight loss program you choose, be consistent and persistent! With patience and a positive attitude, both you and your dog will have fun as the pounds drop away.