Category Archives: Exercise

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Dog swimming in a pool carrying a toy in the summer

Dog Days of Summer – Protect Your Pet in the Heat

Tips for Pet Pawrents

Heat wave! This summer has been no joke. The temperatures have soared, and it looks like they’re stuck up there. With this increased heat and sun exposure, your pets are likely feeling the effects. But what are we to do?  Dogs need to go outside to do their business, love to sunbathe, and need their exercise. In this post we’ve pulled together some tips and some products that can help you protect your dog from the high temperatures and safely get their vitamin D.

Damage Caused by the Heat

First, before we get into how to protect your pet this summer let’s look at some of the conditions caused by overexposure to heat and sun. It’s helpful after all, to know what you are protecting them from. Knowing these conditions will help you to watch for signs and symptoms so that you can keep them cool and healthy.

Hot Spots:

Either caused by overheating or bacterial infection, hot spots are areas of inflamed skin. These start developing as a small red spot, which can often be mistaken for a bug bite. While they start small, these spots can grow rapidly and eventually turn into a painful lesion.  You can find various over the counter treatments for hot spots but it’s best to consult your vet.

Overheating:

Increased respiration, and heart rate, and panting are the most obvious signs of your dog overheating. Dogs who are suffering from overheating or heat stroke will also appear a bit weak, out of sorts or in a stupor. Your dog may collapse, have a seizure, vomit, or have bloody diarrhea as well.  You can also check for an elevated body temperature.

If you have a flat-faced brachycephalic pet, either cat or dog, they are more susceptible to overheating as they have more difficulty breathing. Since respiration helps regulate body temperatures these pets are heat intolerant and should be monitored carefully in hot weather.

Burned or Blistered Pads/Paws:

If your pet stays on hot pavement or asphalt for too long, the pads of their paws will burn.  Similar to the way our skin burns these can range from red and sore to blistered paws. Before walking your pet on these surfaces check the heat with your hand. You can use pet booties to help keep your pet’s paws safe but avoiding these hot surfaces is the best way to keep them safe.

Dehydration:

Excessive panting is the obvious sign of being hot and getting dehydrated. Watch for bloodshot eyes or pale or light-colored gums are another sign. You can also do a gentle pinch test: take some of your dog’s skin between your fingers and lift it up, when they are dehydrated it takes longer to go back into place.

Keeping your Dog Safe from the Heat

Take Advantage of Cooler Parts of the Day

Generally, the mornings and evenings are cooler as you are avoiding the blazing afternoon sun. You can help protect your pet by taking your walks or playing outside earlier or later in the day. This will allow your pet to get their exercise without the risk of overheating, dehydrating, etc.

Walking or Playing on the Grass

Grass generally stays cooler than concrete or asphalt. These harder surfaces absorb the heat and can get really hot. Even your deck or patio can get overly hot if it’s in direct sunlight for any length of time. Much like our feet, our dogs paw pads can burn or blister on hot surfaces. When we don our tennis shoes for a walk, we can forget how hot these surfaces can get as our feet aren’t directly touching them. Use your hand to feel the sidewalk or street and if it’s too hot, try walking your pet on the grass.

Cool Off in the Shade

Find shady spots to play as they are cooler both in ambient temperature and the ground temperature. Laying on cool grass can help dogs lower their body temperature. Playing in the shade is a bonus.

Consider giving your buddy a break on digging holes. Digging down into the dirt is a dog’s natural way of cooling off. The dirt underneath will be cooler than the grass on top of the ground.

Splash Around

Offering a pool is a great way for your pet to cool off, provides a creative space for your pet to play, and gives your pet a drink whenever they want or need it. Just be careful to empty the water when you are done playing and refill for the next use. This will help to cut down parasites like heart-worms.

Products that Help Your Pet Stay Safe in the Sun

There is a wide range of products available to pet owners that help keep your fur baby safe on hot days. It is important to remember however, that these are not 100% effective or effective for long periods of time. You should always keep an eye on your pets and give them breaks indoors as relief from the sun and the high temperatures.

Cooling Pads or Blankets

If you don’t have shade or want to make a cool spot for your pet to lounge, there are pads and blankets that help create a cool spot. Some of these products simply do not retain heat, while others can actually be placed in the refrigerator to be physically cool to the touch. There’s nothing like a cool place to rest for your pet on a hot day.

Cooling Jackets and Vests

If you have a more active pet and are worried about them playing at the park or in your yard, you can find jackets or vests that help reflect the sun and/or keep your pet cool. These are similar to the cooling pads you lay on the ground, only these are fitted to your dog.

Booties

While we typically think of booties as winter boots or rain boots for our pets, you can find variants that are designed for higher temperatures in the summer sun. Follow the sizing guides to get the appropriate fit which will enable your dog to maintain their footing on walks and in the park.

Salves and Ointments

From hot spots, to burned pads, to dry skin and noses, there are now many products both natural and medicated, to treat your pup’s skin. Consult your veterinarian for trusted brands or recommended products.

Sunscreen for Pups

Similar to the products designed for humans, there is now spray sunscreen available for pets. Follow the directions on the packaging for a bit of safe sun. This is great for pets with short hair, bald spots, scars, etc.

Hot Weather Eating Tips

Some dogs develop a picky appetite when it gets hot. Freeze bone broth in an ice cube tray and add a cube or two to their meals. Summer is definitely the season for feeding frozen raw bones. Dogs love holding the cold bone in their mouths until it warms enough for them to begin serious gnawing. If you are giving your pets raw frozen dog food or cat food and normally letting it thaw before feeding, try feeding it straight from the freezer. A quarter section of a NWN dinner bar fed frozen may perk up a languid appetite. And sometimes smaller more frequent meals help break up the monotony of those dog days of summer.

Things to Absolutely  Avoid

Do Not Shave Your Pet

If your pet has long hair, they can most certainly go for a trim. But pets should not be shaved down. While we might think that this will help keep them cool, their fur actually helps regulate their body temperature and protect them from sunburn. Instead, consider brushing your pet more frequently. This will help to excrete and spread their fur’s natural oils which can help to hydrate skin and protect it from heat and sun exposure.

Do Not Leave Your Dog in the Car

We’ve heard the warnings, but the consequences are dire. Left in a hot car, your pet can go from fine to in danger or dead quickly. It’s best to leave your companion home on hot days, even if you are just running a quick errand.  This has become such a problem that now in some states it is legal for strangers to break the windows of a car to rescue an overheating pet. Other states have made it legal for law enforcement or first responders to break the windows of a vehicle. If you see a dog that is suffering in a vehicle, first call and report the incident. Find more information on the American Veterinary Medical Association website.

 

Be smart, be safe and sound, and have a wonderful Summer!


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Bulldog laying down on kitchen rug looking mopey

Make a Happy Home for Your Pets – Returning to Work

Adjusting to Life on Their Own at Home – After COVID

After months of being at home all day every day with your best friend, your pet’s state of bliss may be about to come to an end. Sheltering in place might have been frustrating for us humans, but our pets thought it was just about a dream come true. Yes, for many dogs it meant less trips to the park, but that was made up for with all the walks they could handle. We’re fairly certain that most dogs think that they finally convinced us to quit our jobs and stay home with them…however the jury is still out on whether cats enjoyed their serfs being in their presence for hours and days at a time. Who knows what birds, reptiles, and other pets thought?

Many states across the country are preparing to re-open, which means a return to work for many pet parents. Dogs, some cats, and other pets who have grown used to our company will be once again left on their own for a large portion of the day. Simply returning to work after weeks if not months of being at home can cause some major anxiety and depression for pets. If you are getting ready to go back to work, take the time to prepare your pet as well. In this post, we’ll look at some tips and suggestions from the experts on how to smoothly adjust your dog, cat, or other pets to being alone for hours at a time.

How Do I Prepare My Dog for Hours of Alone Time?

Get Back to a Routine

Meals, walks, treats, and play time might have shifted or become more frequent during our social distancing and self-quarantine. The first step in preparing to go back to work for humans and pets alike, is to get back into a routine. The closer you can get to your actual work routine the better. Pets thrive on schedules. Have you ever noticed how accurate their body clocks are? They can sense mealtime down to the minute! Routine becomes an important part of their mental health. It gives them upsides to look forward to and prepares them for the downsides, like when you leave for work.

Start by waking up or getting your pet up at the same time every day and feeding them at the same time. If you typically walk them before leaving for work, re-institute this morning walk rather than your more random COVID-19 rambles.

Create a Safe and Comfortable Space for Them

Creating a space either in their favorite room or by making their crate cozy can help to mitigate the stress of you returning to your pre-quarantine routine. Leave an item that smells like you such as a t-shirt you’ve worn or a blanket that you both snuggle. Put a few of their toys here as well. This will give them some additional comfort when you do start to leave them.

Start to Leave Them on Their Own Incrementally

Reestablishing their routine may take a bit of time. Throwing them back into their previous routine all at once can be like ripping off a band aide: at best it’s uncomfortable and at worst it’s downright painful. So before you go back to work it’s a good idea to start leaving your pet for short lengths of time and then increasing the amount of time that you are away little by little. Your pets will start to pick up on signals that you are getting ready to leave the house – noticing a change in clothing, you showering at a certain time of the day. These cues plus leaving them for lengthening periods of time will help get them back onto your “normal schedule”.

It can be tempting to bring them along for car rides while you run errands, or if you’re eating out on a restaurant’s patio, but try to resist those sad begging eyes. This second step is truly important.

Provide Distractions

Keeping pet safety in mind, you may want to find toys that stimulate and engage your pet while you are gone. Some pet parents find that puzzle toys are a great way to break up the boredom. Other pets love when their parents leave the TV on for them. Just be cognizant of the dangers that some potential toys may have. Soft toys that can be eaten should be left for supervised play.

What If Your Return to Work is Sudden?

Not everyone will have the luxury of a planned return to the office or place of employment. Some of us will only receive a few days’ notice to report for work. If this is the case, try not to panic. Most pets are resilient and while yours might experience some anxiety, they will quickly adjust to the new routine.

If you have a friend or family member who can check on your pet, having them do so is a great idea. Hiring a dog walker is another means of breaking up the long day away from you. For your dog who might be used to potty breaks on demand, this can help prevent accidents as you re-train their bladder. In terms of socialization it can help break up the monotony or boredom until you return home from work. You could even start with two visits per day and slowly taper them off.

How to Spot Stress:

Despite our best intentions and efforts our pets might still become stressed out. With dogs, excessive barking can be a sign of stress. Couple this with pawing at doors or windows (as if trying to remove the thing that is separating them from you) and you have other good indicators of stress. If this is typical behavior when you leave the house, try to gauge whether this behavior now is prolonged or exacerbated.

Being destructive is another potential sign of stress, especially in dogs. Now we know that some dogs just play rough and like to tear apart their toys, but when it comes to stress they’ll typically turn this destructive habit on things that they don’t typically destroy: Chewing doors, furniture, cabinets, shoes, etc. This can also be a sign of boredom, so if your pet starts to exhibit this behavior try playing with them to wear them out before leaving the house. If the behavior persists it is likely stress.

Pay Attention to Your Own Emotions

Pets are really in tune with our emotions. They can pick up on our stress and anxiety often better than we can ourselves. When you get ready to leave for work in the morning try to remain calm. Refrain from raising your voice or rushing. These behaviors can increase our pet’s anxiety.

How to Reduce Stress:

Exercise and playtime are great ways to help mitigate stress and prevent it. Build time to interact with your pet into your morning routine and take time to do so again when you return home from work.

If your pet is still exhibiting stress there are aids that can help alleviate some of this stress, such as snug fitting vests or shirts. The downside to using these items is that you will potentially be leaving your pet in this clothing all day so consider your schedule with using these items.

And don’t forget about Animal Behaviorists. These skillful workers are trained observers and can have insightful suggestions about preventing problems when you return to work or solving problems later. An in-home consultation with an Animal Behaviorist is usually an enlightening and highly rewarding experience for both you and your pet. However, if the mental and/or physical problems persist, you may ultimately have to consult with your vet.

Following the hints mentioned in this article will definitely help normal pet anxiety about changes to their routines. As we begin returning to the 9 to 5 world let’s be extra aware of the needs of our furry and feathery best friends and do whatever we can to make the transition a happy one!


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stranger danger and dogs; people safety with dogs

Stranger Danger and Dogs

Stranger Danger and Dogs

How to Help Minimize Frightening Situations for Your Pet.

There’s good news and bad news if your pet is nervous around strangers.  The good news is that the general public is gaining more knowledge about safe ways to interact (or not) with strange dogs and their owners.  More and more people are learning to ask, “is your dog friendly?” or “can I pet him?” before reaching out their hands or telling their kids to “go say hi!”.  The bad news is that there is still a portion of the public that does not have this knowledge.

Whether your dog is a working dog and should not be distracted, gets nervous with strangers or close proximity to them, or is a rescue and growing used to their new environment there are steps that you can take to help reduce their interactions with kids and strangers.  Training, and desensitization, and avoiding situations that can be frightening are the first step, but there are some additional steps you can take to avoid these encounters.  We’ll take a look at some of them in this article.

Yellow Is a No Go

Thanks to the yellow leash project, the significance of yellow leashes and collars is making the rounds.  Yellow has become the color that signifies a dog is nervous, working, or for some other reason should not be pet.

Red Means Stop

In addition to yellow leashes and collars, some pet owners will use a red leash or collar to ward off people and children who might otherwise approach their pet.  Opt for Bright shades of red that will catch people’s attention and hopefully give them pause when approaching.

There are a few downsides with these color choices.  Some people simply like the color or like the way the color looks on their dog.  Other nondog owners might now be aware of the significance of the colors.

Spell It Out

In combination with the yellow or red options, or even on other harnesses, it’s a good idea to also spell out “No Pet” so that people clearly get the message.  These options are available both online and in certain pet stores.  Bandanas are another option for displaying the “I’m nervous” or “do not pet me” message to strangers who might assume otherwise.

Other Alternatives:

Muzzles

While it might seem mean or extreme to muzzle your dog, it can help send the message that children or untrained adults should not approach you.  Muzzles can also help to reduce bites or the perceived threat of a dog bit if the situation does progress too far.

Staying Calm

Dogs take their cues from their humans.  If you’re nervous, anxious, or even fearful of a situation and its potential outcome, your dog is going to pick up on that energy.  When you see a group of people approaching, the best, and first thing you can do for your dog is to take a deep breath and form a plan. In doing so, you now have the ability to reassure your dog that he/she is okay.

Moving to Avoid Confrontation

If you’re out for a walk or taking a hike and see people approaching, you have the time to maneuver your dog to the side or off the trail.  Another helpful move is to place your body between the dog and the source of his/her fear.  This body language can be a signal to other people that your dog is not friendly and should not be approached.

Communication

Whether it’s talking to the approaching people, or your dog, communication can be key in getting through the situation without any altercation or confrontation.  Talking out loud to your dog in a calming and reassuring tone, but loud enough for the people to hear you can be a non-confrontational way of informing the people that your dog is not one for socialization.  Making eye contact and saying hi to the oncoming people, gets their attention.  And if they’re in the middle of telling their kids or approaching your dog themselves, it gives you the ability to simply apologize and explain that your dog doesn’t do well in social situations.

 

For more activities that you and your dog can enjoy click here!


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seniors man and woman walking side by side outdoors with man walking dog

Pets & Senior Citizens

Benefits

Popular culture and media show us that people of all ages benefit from pets. Seniors especially benefit from this type of relationship. Pets not only enhance seniors’ lives but also improve their health. There are many amazing benefits that pets can bring into an elderly person’s life.

Pets provide a comfort system and help to increase the production of the feel-good hormone, serotonin. They have also been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress levels in humans and can help lower cholesterol, fight depression, and help protect against heart conditions. All great reasons for seniors to have a pet!

Pets & Loneliness

Recent studies have proven that pets can cheer up lonely seniors and enhance their quality of life. One of the most challenging aspects of aging is isolation and loss of social interaction. Many senior citizens may begin to feel cut off from the outside world and struggle with depression. Those feelings of loneliness can lead to stress, anxiety, and medical complications.

If you know an elderly person living alone and struggling to find the motivation to get out, ask them to pet-sit for you. See if they’d be interested in fostering a homeless pet. Or offer to come to visit them with your four-legged companion, especially those with no family near-by.

Pets in Senior Living Communities

Many senior living communities do have Pet Coordinators to help care for the animals to assure they are getting proper activity, food, medication, and love. These pet-friendly communities are thriving as pets have become community mascots and give residents reasons for social calls; all great for seniors’ stimulation.

Finding the Right Pet-Friendly Community

It’s important to do your research when choosing a pet friendly community as some communities offer dog grooming and dog walking services for many sizes and breeds, while others only allow small pets with a weight restriction (usually under 20 pounds) — limiting the pets to small birds, cats, dogs, fish or rabbits. Some communities only allow pets on a case-by-case basis. So, make sure to contact your communities of choice and ask about their pet policy.

Caring for an animal stimulates physical activity and gives many people a feeling of purpose. This is very important for seniors to incorporate into their everyday lives. Pets need exercise too! This companionship often promotes the purpose and healthy living, the relationship is not one-sided; the benefits are reciprocal to both parties.

Many times, the best prescription for healthier living comes with four legs and fur. If laughter is the best medicine, then pets must be the best cure!


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black and white border collie playing with toy on grass. - pet care

Daily Activity for Dogs

How Much Activity Does My Dog Need?

This is a complicated question. The amount of daily activity for dogs will differ depending on the breed, age, and health of your dog. In this post, we’ll dive into some recommendations. Ultimately, this is a great topic to discuss with your veterinarian, since you both have an understanding of your pet’s total well-being. Dogs need two different types of activity: exercise and mental stimulation.

When dogs lack either of these, they tend to get into trouble, acting out behaviorally and destroying items they shouldn’t. Proper nutrition, exercise and mental stimulation can be achieved in a variety of different ways and can be great fun for both you and your dog. Pet health experts recommend that depending on the size of the breed, the age of the dog, and the dog’s overall health, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of activity is recommended per day.

Toy or Small Dog Breeds

The smaller the breed the less exercise will be required and the exercise should be appropriate for the build of the breed. This means we wouldn’t take a French bulldog for a three-mile trail run. Chasing a toy, indoors or outdoors, or frolicking around the yard, can achieve the 30 minutes of healthy activity in a smaller breed needs. More than this may cause respiratory problems or other injuries. Be sure to consult with an expert about your specific breed and dog.

Terrier or Medium Sized Dog Breeds

These breeds are built to work and will require more exercise and mental stimulation than their smaller, more delicate cousins. Terriers were bred to hunt or chase down a certain type of prey, from foxes to rats, and as such have more energy and durability. This results in the need for a higher amount of exercise and stimulation to keep them healthy and out of trouble. Depending on your breed you could be looking at closer to an hour or two of activity per day.

Retrievers and Large Breed Dogs

These are dogs that mature to weigh between 45 and 99 pounds. Like Terriers, Labradors, Retrievers, Huskies, Shepherds and Poodles were bred to work as well as to be companion animals. These dogs are smart and have a high level of energy, requiring between 60 to 90 minutes (sometimes more) of exercise per day. As these dogs start to age, their level of physical activity will diminish and pet owners should watch for signs of hip injuries or conditions like dysplasia. Talk to your vet about your specific breed and which types of exercise and stimulation are best for your dog.

Extra Large Dog Breeds

Extra large dogs are breeds that weigh in excess of 100 pounds at maturity. These dogs will typically require between 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day depending on their age, weight and health.  Your Mastiffs, Great Danes and other large breed dogs will have a lower energy level than their large dog breed cousins. You should talk to your vet regarding your specific breed and dog to avoid injury and ensure the best quality of life for your XL fur baby.

Exercise

From fetch, to tug, and wrestling to playing with other dogs, there are a number of different ways to exercise your dog. If you live by a local dog park, off-leash play provides both exercise and  socialization (which is a form of mental stimulation that we’ll talk about later).

Fetch

While your Fido might love to chase a good stick, there are a few dangers when using objects that can break. We prefer to a good ball, rubber disk, stick alternative, or even a partially deflated soccer ball.

Walking or Hiking

Get outside and enjoy some quality time with your pet by walking or hiking. Take in the views while your pup takes in the scents, and raise your heart rate together.  Depending on the area and ownership of the land, you may be required to keep your dog on a leash or lead. If your dog tends to be nervous or should not be approached, visit our post about how to communicate this to others here.

Jogging

When both you and your dog can use a bit of exercise, running is a great option. Running can also help keep your pets nails trimmed, but be sure to keep an eye on the pads and nails to avoid injury. Pavement can heat up in the sun causing burns in the summer, and salt from winter road maintenance can burn as well. When jogging or running with your pet, we recommend a comfortable and snug fitting harness, with a non-extendable, durable leash.

Wrestling

Whether it’s in your backyard, at daycare or the local dog park, romping and wrestling with other dogs is a total body workout for your fur baby. Dogs jump, run, and get a myriad of exercise when playing with other dogs. And, you get to stand by and enjoy their happy antics! Remember it’s a good idea to engage with other dog owners before allowing your dog to play, and staying engaged to make sure play doesn’t get too rough.

Mental Stimulation

Dogs are intelligent and sentient creatures, and just like humans, they can get bored. As they look for means to entertain themselves, it is helpful to have a variety of toys on hand so that your dog opts for something of their own rather than your shoe.

Toys

Terriers and hunting dogs have an inherent prey drive. They were bred to hunt.  Now that many of us don’t hunt they need another way to occupy their time. Toys, especially ones that make noise are a great option. You can find an array of different priced options in various sizes.

Puzzles

A number of different retailers now offer puzzles for your pet. You load them with treats and give to your pet for mental stimulation. The puzzles make the dog work to find the treats, providing an entertaining and rewarding challenge. There are also some great ways to make your own dog puzzles on sites like Pinterest.

Hide and Go Seek

Not all stimulation requires you to shell out cash. Some dogs can learn and love to play hide and go seek. The downside is that you are the one that always ends up hiding. This provides a bit of exercise as well, as they run around trying to find their favorite human who has magically disappeared.

Classes

Check in your area for canine classes – The sport of dogs has grown in the last few years. Along with Obedience classes, there are Nose work classes, Fit paws – Fun and Fitness Classes for your K-9 friend, Agility, Rally, Trick Dog, and Canine Good Citizen. All of these will stimulate your pet and you to be active, spend time together, and grow.

Activity is a great way to bond with your dog and create a beautiful, lifelong friendship. Your dog will be more healthy, content, and less mischievous, and so will you! 😊