Archive for April, 2013

While cats have a reputation for being curious, it’s often dogs who seem to nose around and get into places where they shouldn’t. Bee stings, getting skunked, getting hit by a car – accidents like these and many others can and do regularly occur. If you own a dog it’s best to be prepared with a first aid kit that contains the essentials. You should be able to take care of some minor problems at home and, if something major happens, you can tend to your dog before he gets to the vet. Having the right first aid supplies might save his life.

Your first aid kit
You can buy a ready-made first aid kit online from pet supply retailers or from a good pet store in your area. Or, if you prefer, you can put together your own first aid kit by choosing the individual items you want to include. If you put together your own kit you’ll need a backpack or carryall box, like a tackle box, so you can carry everything. Some people like to keep their first aid kit in the house while others keep it in their vehicle so they’ll have it with them when they travel with their dog. If you travel with your dog a lot – to dog shows, obedience classes, as a therapy dog, and so on – this is a good idea so you’ll have the kit handy when you’re away from home.
first aid kit
What you need in your first aid kit
Here’s a list of some of the things you might need in your first aid kit. If you’re putting your kit together yourself you can start with the most basic items (listed first) and then add more things later.

• 1 – Backpack or case to carry your supplies
• 1 – First aid book
• 1 – Tick remover
• 1 – Skunk odor remover
• 4 – Benadryl (2 packs of 2)
• 1 – Scissors
• 1 – Blanket
• 4 – Towels
• 1 – Thermometer w/case
• 1 – EMT Gel (1oz. tube)
• 3 – Dog Rehydration Drink Mix (electrolytes)
• 1 – Slip Lead
• 6 – Wooden Splints
• 1 – Sterile Trauma/Wound Pad
• 1 – Instant Cold Pack
• 1 – Ipecac
• 1 – PVP Iodine (3 oz.)
• 1 – Hydrogen Peroxide (4 oz.)
• 2 – Alcohol Wipes
• 2 – PVP Iodine Wipes
• 2 – Hydrocortisone Cream
• 2 – Antibiotic Ointment
• 8 – Sterile Gauze Pads (4″x4″)
• 8 – Sterile Gauze Pads (3″x3″)
• 1 – Gauze Bandage (2″)
• 1 – Gauze Bandage (3″)
• 1 – Tape (1″x2.5 yds)
• 1 – Cohesive Bandage (4″)
• 1 – Pen light
• 1 – Locking Hemostat (Surgical quality)
• 1 – Thumb Forceps
• 1 – Styptic Pencil
• 1 – SAM Splint
• 1 – Saline Solution
• 1 – Silver Mylar Emergency Blanket
• 1 – Nail Trimmer
• 6 – Non-Latex Gloves (3 pair)
• 1 – Skin Stapler, (Sterile, Disposable – 35 count)
• 1 – Staple Remover
• 1 – Pre-Surgical Scrub Brush
• 1 – Pill Gun
• 1 – 10 c.c. Oral Applicator
• 1 – Eye wash (4 oz.)
• 1 – Non-Latex Tourniquet
• 6 – Cotton Balls
• 5 – Cotton Swabs

The items near the top of the list will probably be used more frequently and/or are more important. Some of the other items are more specialized and you probably won’t need them unless there is a serious emergency. Be sure to read through your first aid book so you have some idea of what you should do in case of various emergencies.

Some emergencies are more serious than others. For instance, if your dog is sprayed by a skunk it’s definitely unpleasant for you and your dog but it’s not life-threatening. If you use the skunk odor remover (or two or three bottles of the skunk odor remover), it will make the odor go away. Likewise, if your dog is stung by a bee, he may have a reaction but the Benadryl will usually take care of the probably as long as you give it right away. However, if your dog is stung multiple times or if he has a serious reaction, you should take him to the vet right away, along with giving him the Benadryl.

For other emergencies it’s almost always advisable to take your dog to the veterinarian immediately, even if you provide some first aid at home.

Nobody like to see their beloved dog growing old but there comes a time in every dogs life when their joints will start to get stiff and they will find it more difficult getting up and walking around.

Your vet may be able to help by prescribing medication to address the situation, but there are some things that you can do yourself which may help to improve your dog’s mobility:

1. Feed your dog an appropriate food – if your dog is getting old then it should be on a senior dog food. For small breed dogs this can be from about 8-9 years old, but for large and giant breeds a senior food should be fed from as early as 5 years old.

Good quality senior foods will have added glucosamine and chondroitin to help keep joints healthy and keep your dog on the move. Such a food will also help your dog control its weight as it gets older which is essential because being overweight will increase the chances of your dog developing joint problems.

2. Short, frequent walks – as your dog gets older it will benefit from being taken for a greater number of short walks rather than fewer very long ones. You may have got into the habit of taking your dog out for a long 2 hour walk every morning but take a look at how your dog is doing towards the end and when you get home. If they look stiff and uncomfortable it may be time to cut down the distance you walk in any one go.

3. Try some joint supplements – just as health shops sell joint care products for the owner, pet shops sell joint care products for their dogs. There are many on the market in the form of tablets, liquids and various treats too. Ask at you local pet store for advice or look at online forums for recommendations.

Persist with the supplements because it’s very easy to see an improvement and forget about the underlying problem. Maintaining the correct dosage will help your dog’s mobility in the long run.

4. Try some hydrotherapy – there are lots of places you can find doggie hydrotherapy pools so check your local directory or search online for your nearest.

Swimming helps to exercise the dog’s joints and can really help to improve your dog’s mobility. As with human hydrotherapy, being in a pool reduces the effects of gravity and allows the joints to move freely without the same impact stresses that walking or running enduce.

5. Make sure your dog has a comfortable bed – if your dog sleeps on a thin bed, it may not have enough support for its body when sleeping. On the flip side, if they have a very big fluffy cushion then they may struggle to easily get on and off the bed. A reasonably firm, well padded bed is generally best as your dog can get onto it easily and it should offer full support for your dog’s weight.

You can never completely prevent or treat stiff joints as it is simply a symptom of old age but as an owner you can use these 5 tips to minimize any discomfort felt by your dog.

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As a dog owner himself, Percy Jackson knows all too well the difficulty that comes from watching a dog grow old but he insists that there are things you can do as owners to make them as comfortable as possible. Other than promoting joint health of course, one such idea is to buy a dog ramp to assist your dog in getting in and out of the boot of your car.

Getting Your Overweight Dog In Shape

According to the latest study from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), some 53 percent of dogs in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese. It’s hard for most owners to recognize that their dog is overweight. We’re so used to seeing overweight dogs that they look normal to us. Here are some ways to tell if your dog is overweight:

• You should be able feel but not see your dog’s ribs. Run your hands over his sides. Can you find his ribs? In a dog of healthy weight you can feel the ribs. If you can’t feel your dog’s ribs, he’s overweight.

• In most breeds and mixes, it’s normal for a dog to have a “tuck up” behind the ribs. The tuck up is the dog’s waist. It’s a slight rise and narrowing in the flank area. Does your dog have a tuck up or waist? Or is he tubular in shape?

• When you look at your dog from above, does he look like a four-legged table? He’s probably overweight.

• Does your dog waddle when he walks? Most active dogs who are not overweight don’t waddle. If your dog waddles, he might be overweight.

• Check the weight charts in your vet’s office or online. They will show you what a normal, healthy silhouette of a dog should look like. You can compare it to your dog.

Let’s say that you look at your dog, feel his sides, and check the weight charts. Your dog is definitely overweight. What’s your next step? How do you get your overweight dog in shape? Well, there are a number of things you can do to help your dog.

The first thing you can do is talk to your vet. It’s often a good idea to have your vet examine your dog, especially if your dog is obese and not just a couple of pounds overweight. Your vet can determine if there is an underlying health problem that might be causing your dog to gain weight, especially if your dog has had rapid weight gain.

If your dog is healthy and doesn’t have any underlying problems, you can look at your feeding practices. This is one of the biggest reasons why dogs gain weight. First of all, do you free feed your dog? This means putting down food and leaving it for your dog to munch on all the time. Many dogs gain weight when people do this. It’s much better to have set meal times and to control the amount you feed your dog at each meal. Feed your dog as much as he will eat in about 15 minutes and then put the food away. You’ll be surprised at how much this will help your dog slim down. If you leave food in front of your dog all day he’s going to nibble and snack all the time, even when he’s not hungry, and it will make him put on weight.

Next, consider how many and what kind of treats you give your dog. Treats have calories, too! And some treats are quite high in calories. Even dental chews and bones have calories. If you give your dog lots of treats, you need to reduce his food portion a little to subtract calories from it. Otherwise you are simply adding calories to his diet.

However, you can give your dog low calories treats like small carrot pieces, unbuttered popcorn, apple pieces, and other fruit and vegetables. These treats are filling and they don’t have many calories. They’re also quite healthy.

You should also consider the food you’re feeding. If your dog is definitely obese you should probably consider changing his food to a weight management dog food which has fewer calories. However, if your dog is overweight by a few pounds you might be able to cut down the portions you feed or change to an adult maintenance or all life stages food with slightly fewer calories. You can check how many calories kibbles have here:

Don’t forget to try to help your dog get a little more exercise, too. It doesn’t have to be a drastic increase in exercise. Even if you just start taking your dog for a short daily walk it will help.

All of these changes will help get your overweight dog in shape and improve his health. And that’s the reason why we care how much our dogs weigh. Obese dogs are more likely to have health problems like arthritis, diabetes, heart and lung problems, compromised immune functions, and they can even have a shorter lifespan. So, help your overweight or obese dog lose a few pounds and you’ll both be happier.

Canine massage therapy is used to promote health and healing in dogs. It is considered an alternative therapy but it has many benefits. Some of the benefits that can result from canine massage therapy include pain relief, increased joint flexibility, improved range of motion, and benefits to the immune system. Canine massage therapy also has a relaxing effect on dogs. It can be used to improve a dog’s physical and emotional well-being.

Massage therapy is a very old form of healing in humans and it has also been used with animals for many centuries. The ancient Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Turks, Persians, and Japanese all used massage therapies and the Egyptians practiced massage on animals and had animal healers. The Chinese and ancient Romans practiced massage on horses. In the United States, equine massage became popular in the 1970s with show horses and racehorses, and massage subsequently became popular with other animals, including dogs.

Dogs get the same kind of benefits from massage therapy that humans enjoy and it can be used for relaxation, therapeutic rehabilitation, and to improve muscle tone for competition as in sports massage. Some of the benefits that have been documented in studies on canine massage include:

  • Healthy skin and coat by distributing natural oils
  • Improved athletic performance and endurance
  • Improved circulation
  • Improved digestion
  • Improving mental focus and attitude
  • Increased toxin excretion
  • Injury prevention by increasing range of motion and enhancing muscle tone
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Posture maintenance and better balance
  • Reduced stiffness helping to restore mobility to injured areas
  • Relaxation and tension relief
  • Release of endorphins

When used in combination with veterinary care for rehabilitation, canine massage can help dogs with the following problems:

  • Chronic pain and discomfort due to arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other joint problems through the release of endorphins
  • Health issues related to age
  • Muscle atrophy caused by inactivity
  • Muscle tension, soreness, spasms, and weaknesses

Canine massage can also be used to calm feelings of anxiety and nervousness.

Canine massage therapists use seven basic techniques in massaging dogs: compression, direct pressure, effleurage, friction, petrissage, tapotement, and vibration movement. These techniques can be used to work on a specific area or achieve a certain benefit according to what a dog needs.

Qualified canine massage therapists are trained to use these techniques and some of them should not be applied to dogs without proper training as injuries can result. Most pet owners are already using some of these strokes at home with their pets without knowing it when they pet their dogs in different ways.

One easy stroke that you can use on your dog at home is effleurage. If you run the flat palm of your hand along your dog’s spine from head to tail, this basic stroke can help soothe your dog’s nerves. It will calm his nerves and soothe his skin by drawing oils from the skin. It helps distribute blood and lymph fluids to improve circulation. If you perform 10 minutes of this kind of purpose-driven petting three times per week, it can do a lot to improve your dog’s overall health and make their coat shine.

Nearly all dogs can benefit from canine massage therapy and it is especially good for senior dogs. In addition to lightly massaging your pet at home regularly, you can find local canine massage practitioners in most areas. Dogs can usually benefit from monthly professional canine massages or from seeing a canine massage practitioner if they have a specific ailment.

Article by Nancy Cope, Owner of the online boutique

Keeping your dog’s skin and coat healthy and looking good can be challenging at times, especially if your dog has any skin problems. It’s not uncommon for dogs to have dry skin, itchiness, or redness from irritation or allergies. While it’s always essential to find the underlying causes of any skin problems, and this may involve working with your veterinarian to identify an allergy to to get rid of fleas, there are some healthy rinses you can apply to your dog’s skin and coat for temporary relief.

Herbal astringents are a good way to handle many temporary problems. For example, if your dog is suffering from a few flea or mosquito bites, witch hazel – easily found in any drug store – is a good way to stop the itch. Witch hazel is made with isopropyl alcohol and you should make sure that your dog doesn’t ingest it. Use just a few dabs on a bite.

For hot spots you can use something like Animal Apawthecary’s FidoDerm Herbal Spray. It contains aloe vera and calendula to stop the itching and promote healing, as well as antibacterial and antifungal essential oils.

For a dog with wet, runny sores and oozing bites you will probably need to use an all-over rinse that contains aloe vera.

If your dog has dry, flaky skin, use products that contain vegetable oils, collagen, and herbs that promote healing without stripping the natural oils from the dog’s hair follicles. AvoDerm Collagen Spray from Breeder’s Choice is often recommended.

If your dog is itching but you can’t see any redness, bites, or sores, try rinsing him in oatmeal from your kitchen. Cook it until it’s in a loose, soupy state, let it cool, and then (outside) pour it all over your dog. Let it stay on your dog as long as you can before rinsing it off or brushing it out.

You can also use peppermint or lavender (or combine them) as a skin rinse. Or you can also use rosemary. You can find these herbs in bulk at your local health food store. Using a tea ball, pack it with the herbs and steep it in a couple of quarts of water that is close to boiling, then wait until it cools. Pour it over your dog. Not only does this rinse help your dog’s itching but it also smells very nice.

If your dog has some slight redness you can use a daily rinse made with chamomile, plantain, or calendula together or separately. Make a tea out of these herbs, let it cool, and soak your dog, letting him drip dry.

If your dog has any sores or scratches you can combine comfrey and calendula with sage, bee balm, thyme, and/or yarrow tea using equal amounts. This mixture is good for healing and helps stop any bacterial infection without irritating your dog’s skin.

Obviously, if your dog has serious skin problems or if he shows signs of infection, you should take him to the vet, but these rinses will help in many mild to moderate cases.

You can also use a nice rinse to keep fleas away from your dog, provided there is no heavy infestation. Slice a lemon into segments and pour a quart of boiling water over it. Add a sprig of rosemary to the water and let it sit overnight. Strain the water the next morning and you will have a nice citrus rinse to pour over your dog to prevent fleas. This rinse usually keeps working for a week or two. And your dog will smell very good.

Finally, just for a nice conditioning rinse for your dog’s coat, you can use rosemary. You can use a teaspoon of dried rosemary and pour a pint of boiling water over the herbs. Let it steep for about 10 minutes then strain or remove the herbs. Allow the liquid to cool. You’re ready to pour the rinse over your dog’s coat after a bath. He’ll smell wonderful and his coat will be soft and easy to care for.

Article by Nancy Cope, owner of the popular online dog boutique Pampered Dog Gifts, where you can find everything you need to pamper your pooch.

RV travel with pets is quite popular these days. According to a 2007 survey, 57 percent of RV owners took their pets with them when they hit the road. With a little planning you and your pet can have a great time together when you head out in your RV.

Whether you will be gone for a few days or a few months, here are some tips to get your dog ready for an RV trip.

  • Take a trip to the vet. Have your vet check out our dog before you go on a trip. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on his vaccinations, especially his rabies vaccination. You will need to take his shot records with you when you travel. Although it rarely happens, you could be asked to show proof of vaccination for rabies when you cross a state line or if you are stopped by police so make sure you keep your dog’s paperwork in the glove box or somewhere so it will be easy to produce if you are stopped.
  • Make your dog travel-ready. When traveling in a car or van it’s usually best for a dog to be safely secured in a crate or harness. They keep a dog from being tossed around and injured in case of an accident. Many people also like to use these safety methods when they travel with their dog in an RV. A crate is always a good idea when you travel in case you need to contain your dog for some reason. If your dog gets motion sick you can prepare for it before you travel. Ask your vet to recommend something for the trip. Allow your dog to spend some time in the RV and get used to it when it’s not moving.
  • Collect your dog’s things. Before going on your trip you will need to gather together your dog’s things. Even dogs have to pack! Be sure to take his bed, his favorite toys, his leash (and a spare), an extra collar, and his food and water dishes. You will also need to take dog food with you. If you feed a popular dog food then you should be able to buy more as you travel but if you feed a food that’s hard to find it’s a good idea to take enough with you for the trip. Also, be sure that your dog is wearing his collar with good identification on it. It should have at least one way to contact you or your vet. If your dog is microchipped this will help, too, in case he gets lost while you are traveling.
  • Keep your dog comfortable. When traveling you should plan on stopping for a potty break about every three hours. You should be able to find nice rest areas with places designated for walking dogs. Try to keep the temperature in the RV comfortable for your dog.
  • Look for pet-friendly campgrounds. You can identify these campgrounds before you begin your trip. Some campgrounds welcome pets and some are simply more open to them. In either case, it’s best to go where your dog is wanted.
  • Keep an eye on your dog. Do watch your dog when he’s outside the RV. There are a couple of good ways for your dog to stretch his legs a little when you travel. You can purchase an x-pen or exercise pen with multiple wire panels and set it up for your dog. Dog show exhibitors often use these pens when they travel. Just clip the wire panels together and you have a small fenced area. They aren’t terribly sturdy but they allow your dog to be outside and off-leash. You can also buy a mobile wireless fence. This kind of fence works much like an underground fence but it uses radio waves and, when your dog wears the collar, it will warn him when he gets too close to the boundary. Wireless fences cost more (about $300-400) but they allow your dog to have more room to run off-leash. Remember that you should always watch your dog when he’s outside on a trip.

If you follow these suggestions then you and your dog should have a great trip together when you travel in your RV!

Article by Nancy Cope, Owner of the popular online dog boutique


The basic reason dogs have tear stains on their face is because they are shedding tears instead of the tears draining properly into their tear ducts. There can be other reasons for dogs to have tears. Short-nosed breeds often have shallow eye sockets which cause the normal tears to fall out onto the dog’s face. In some cases a dog will have excess tearing because he has hair around his eyes that irritate them or which “wick” the tears out of the eyes and onto the face. There are also some other reasons due to eye structure or eye problems such as an eye infection or glaucoma, or an irritation caused by an eyelash rubbing against the eye.

All dogs can have tears on their face but staining is most noticeable if you have a white dog.  This is because the tears will come in contact with bacteria or red yeast on your dog’s face and produce a reddish stain that is easy to see on a white dog.

Depending on the reason why your dog has tear stains, there are often ways to minimize their appearance. If your dog has tear stains because he has shallow eye sockets, such as with the short-nosed breeds, you can’t change the shape of his eye sockets, but you can do some things to keep the stains at bay. If your dog has tear stains because of a constant eye irritation, you can keep the hair around his eyes trimmed and see a vet about any eye infection or glaucoma.

If your dog has tear staining because of a problem with eyelashes that turn in or an eyelid problem, there are some surgical options. You can talk to your vet about what he or she might be able to do to fix the problem.

You can make the tear stains less noticeable in the following ways:

  • Antibiotics: Some owners use tetracycline or tylosin to reduce or eliminate tear stains. It’s probably not a good idea to use these antibiotics indefinitely since they can lead to drug-resistant bacteria in some cases.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Many owners swear by apple cider vinegar added to food and drinking water to reduce or eliminate tear stains. They use raw apple cider vinegar from a product that still has the “mother” in the jar. They add a tablespoon a day to the dog’s food or water. The acidity in the apple cider vinegar is supposed to keep the tears from staining when they come in contact with any bacteria on the dog’s face. It’s a theory anyway.  Some people like to add ½ to a whole Tums to their dog’s food each day. Like the apple cider vinegar, the Tums will change the pH in your dog’s tears slightly and stop the tear stains.
  • Distilled Water: According to many people, giving your dog distilled water to drink can help eliminate tear staining.
  • Grooming Products. There are many grooming products you can use to remove or whiten tear stains. You can use hydrogen peroxide to clean the tear stains off your dog’s face. There are also products made specifically for tear stains which work for some dogs. Angel Eyes is popular with many owners.
  • Wash your dog’s face: You should wash your dog’s face on a daily basis, making sure to gently remove any staining under the eyes. Be careful to clean around the eyes and examine them for any problems.

You may not be able to stop  your dog’s tears but you should be able to make any stains less noticeable by using one of these methods.