Archive for July, 2013

You have sat down and discussed the topic with your family, and you have made a final decision that you will bring a dog into your family by adopting one from a local animal shelter.

Adopting a dog is a great way to add a new loving member to your family and to also help out a dog truly in need. Dogs are given to animal shelters for a variety of reasons, and in most cases, the dogs in shelters just want to love and be loved in return.

But before you head out to the animal shelter, it’s important to learn what exactly you can expect from your visit. The following information will help teach you what you can expect when visiting an animal shelter.

Call ahead.

Before you get into the car, do some research on the shelter and find out when they’re open for viewing. Because shelters rely on volunteers and public donations, they may not be open for adoptions at all times during the day. The last thing you want to do is show up when nobody is there, so do yourself a favor and call ahead.

Be prepared to have a hard choice.

When you walk into the shelter, you are going to wish you could take every single one of those dogs home. You may think visiting the shelter would be easy, but it won’t be. Instead, you will have a very tough decision on your hands in order to choose which dog deserves to come home with you.

Be prepared for awful sights and smells.

Animal shelters do their very best to provide clean and healthy conditions for their animals, but there is often not enough volunteers to keep the place squeaky clean. In most cases, the dogs will be in cages, and it’s also likely that you may find urine and/or feces in the cage. If you make the shelter aware, they will clean it. This is not a sign of animal abuse—just a sign of a volunteer not having enough hands to tend to all the animals at once.

It’s important that you don’t let the sights and smells deter you, as all of these animals are well cared for in the shelter and simply want to find their forever home.

The adoption process may take forever.

Once you’ve made your final decision, you’ll need to go through the adoption process. This varies from shelter to shelter, but in most cases, the adoption process will take a very long time. You will be required to fill out a great deal of paperwork to prove your identity and where you live. Some may even do a background check on you.

Once the paperwork is filled out, the shelter may require a home visit to ensure that your home is a healthy and safe environment for the dog. While you may be put off, keep in mind the shelter has the dog’s best interest at heart and doesn’t want to see them return to the shelter. It is possible that they might recommend improved fencing for the safety of your dog. Do not be discouraged by cost as there are cost effective solutions.

Finally, there will typically be an interview with you and everyone in your household, including other pets, with the dog you wish to adopt. This gives the shelter the ability to see how you, your family and your pets interact with the animal.

Once you have made it through the interview process, you can take your new friend home.

Emily Grant writes about dogs, cats and animal behavior. She lives in Miami.

Adopting A Dog

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are about 70 million pet dogs in the U.S. today. Today, more than ever before, when someone thinks of getting a pet dog they think about getting that dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. It’s estimated that between 20 and 25 percent of dogs in homes come from shelters and rescues.

Reasons to adopt

There are many reasons to adopt a dog such as the following:

  • There is a good selection of dogs
  • You are probably saving a dog’s life
  • Prices are usually reasonable
  • You can feel good about yourself
  • Lots of people like mixed breed dogs

Things to consider before adopting a dog

There are some things to consider before adopting a dog – or before getting any dog.

  • Is this a good time for you to get a dog?

It’s easy to love a dog but that doesn’t mean you should own one. Owning a dog takes a lot of responsibility. It also takes a commitment in terms of time and finances. For example, if you’re heading to college in the fall and you will be leaving your new dog at home for your parents to care for, this probably isn’t the right time for you to get a dog. If you are starting a new job and you know you will be working long hours for the next year or so, this probably isn’t the best time for you to get a dog. Before getting any dog you should ask yourself if you can afford his food and vet care, as well.

  • Do you have kids?

If you have kids it’s often a good idea to zero in on a specific breed that is known for being good with children. A dog’s good temperament is extremely important, especially if he will be around children. Another factor to consider if you have children is the dog’s size. In most cases a large dog is preferable to a small dog. Large dogs are less likely to be injured if a child tugs on the dog or falls on him. A small dog can be seriously hurt if a child pulls on him or falls on him. Some of the best dogs for families with kids are Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Newfoundlands, and similar dogs. If you would like to adopt one of these dogs, try contacting a rescue group that specializes in one of these breeds. Make sure you tell them that you are looking for a dog that is good with children.

  • Do you have allergies?

People who have allergies often have problems when it comes to adopting a dog due to the dander found on dogs. There are some breeds which are often good for people with allergies but they can be hard to find in shelters. If you are allergic to dogs and you would still like to adopt one, try contacting a rescue group that specializes in one of the breeds recommended for people with allergies such as Poodles, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, Schnauzers, the Bichon Frise, the Chinese Crested, the Portuguese Water Dog, the Bedlington Terrier, the Maltese, and others.

  • Consider your lifestyle

Before getting a dog you should consider what kind of dog would be right for you. Do you want an active dog who can go hiking with you? Do you want a dog who will curl up and keep you company at home while you read and watch TV? Do you prefer a bouncy, active dog or a quiet, gentle dog? Do you like a big dog or a small one? Male or female? Do you like a long coat or a short one that’s easy to groom? Think about all these things before heading to the shelter.

How to adopt a dog

If you decide that it’s a good time for you to bring a dog into your life and you have considered the kind of dog you need for your lifestyle, then you can find a dog in several ways. Most towns have an animal shelter and larger cities usually have several shelters. You may be able to check online to see what their hours of operation are. Some shelters also post photos of some of the dogs they have available for adoption.

If you like a particular breed or mix you can also contact a rescue group for that breed to see if they have dogs available. Be aware that some rescue groups can be hard to work with, however. They often have harder requirements for adopting a dog than your local shelter. Dogs usually cost more to adopt from rescues, too.

Finally, you can visit a site such as PetFinder.com which lists thousands of shelters and their dogs across North America. Some of these groups (but not all) will only adopt locally but you can find a greater selection of dogs, especially if you are interested in a particular breed or mix.

Separation anxiety in dogs can be a serious condition that causes a dog to have anxiety and behavior problems. Many dogs are temporarily sad when they are left alone but most of them have the coping skills necessary to soothe or entertain themselves until their owner returns. You may feel very guilty when you go to work in the morning and your dog looks at you with pitiful eyes, but chances are that your dog spends the day playing and napping. Some dogs, however, have such problems with anxiety that they don’t relax until their owner returns.

Symptoms of separation anxiety

A dog that truly has separation anxiety will display the following symptoms:

 

  • Barking and howling when the owner leaves – and it continues more than 15 minutes
  • Seeking contact with things that belong to the owner, such as clothing, for comfort
  • Drooling and panting
  • Soiling in the house from anxiety
  • Ignoring other people in the home when the owner is absent
  • Wanting to see and touch the owner when the owner is home
  • Ignoring toys, chews, and other things meant to comfort the dog
  • Digging in the house, chewing in the house, and destroying furniture out of anxiety

As you can see, separation anxiety can be emotionally distressing, not just for the dog, but also for the dog’s human family. It can also lead to many destructive behaviors in the home.

Although many people think their dog has separation anxiety because their dog may become “anxious” when they leave the house, remember that true separation anxiety is a serious anxiety condition. It is more than a dog that is simply sad or temporarily upset when you leave the house. Virtually all dogs display some emotion when their people leave home.

What causes separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety is more common in dogs that have been taken from their mothers and littermates at an early age. It is also more common in dogs from animal shelters and other dogs that have had an unstable start in life. The more emotional security a dog has at an early age, the better. Any dog that has been through a lot of changes and upheavals can show signs of separation anxiety.

How to help your dog with separation anxiety

One way of helping your dog with separation anxiety is through desensitization. This approach is most helpful for dogs that have mild cases of separation anxiety. In essence, you can get your dog to become used to being left alone for short periods of time and gradually increase the time he spends alone until he feels all right being alone. However, it can take a long time to work up to the point where your dog feels okay being alone all day.

You can start desensitizing your dog by picking up your car keys or purse – something your dog associates with you leaving the house. Your dog probably starts becoming anxious at this point. Then put them back down. You can praise your dog when he relaxes. Keep working on this one item until your dog seems relaxed when you pick it up. Then move on to going to the door. Again, your dog will probably be anxious when he sees you going to the door. Instead of going outside, sit back down. Praise your dog when he’s relaxed again. Again, it can take some time before your dog is relaxed when he sees you going to the door. If you continue in this manner, you can gradually work up to the point of going for a short ride in your car and returning. Praise your dog when he is relaxed about you taking this short ride. You can slowly increase the length of time you are gone. When your dog can stand for you to be gone for more than 45 minutes, he should be all right with you being gone for longer periods without feeling anxious.

Desensitization works for mild cases of separation anxiety. If your dog has a more severe form of separation anxiety you will probably need to work with a canine behaviorist. You should talk to your veterinarian and see if he or she can recommend someone. Frequently a canine behaviorist will also recommend that a dog take a short course of anti-anxiety medication during training. Your vet can prescribe this medication. The medication calms your dog’s anxiety enough so that he can learn new, more productive behavior. You will not have to continue to give your dog medication after the training is complete

Feeding your dog the correct diet is important at all ages but none more so than when they reach their senior years. Dog food created especially for older canines is an excellent way of helping your dog maintaining its health during its later years.

Different breeds of dog mature at differing rates, depending on their size. Giant breeds for instance are considered as being senior at a much younger age than small breeds such as a Chihuahua. In general though, a dog is usually classed as a senior when it reaches seven or eight years of age.

Consulting your Vet

As a dog becomes older its metabolism begins to slow down, meaning it becomes more prone to weight gain. With the body slowly losing its ability to repair itself so readily, illness may become more frequent and longer lasting, requiring extra trips to the vet which, in turn, raise the stress levels in your dog. This is most definitely the time to research dog nutrition needs and feed your dog accordingly.
It is certainly advisable to consult your vet before making the switch to senior food on a permanent basis, as one dog’s metabolism may be completely different to another. Senior dog food has less calories and nutrients in it as most dogs become less active as they age. However, for dogs with digestive problems, those nutrients are still important so a switch to senior food would not be advisable. In these cases, a food which specifically caters for these particular health problems would probably be more beneficial. The rule of thumb here is if in doubt, ask your vet.

The main benefits of senior food for your dog include

Lower calorie levels

Extra support for ageing joints

Presence of vitamins C and E to support the immune system

Making the Change Gradually

If, after consulting with your vet, it is decided to put your dog onto senior food, do not to be tempted to make the change all in one go. It is much more beneficial to your dog to make the change gradually, mixing in just small amounts of the senior food with their normal meal at first, increasing the amounts day by day. This ensures that your dog will become used to their new food over a number of sittings and lessen the chance of them turning their nose up at it completely.

Of course, not all older dogs necessarily need to be on a regular diet of senior food. If they are still healthy at an advanced age, then your vet may advise to keep your dog on the regular food that it is used to. Many of the supplements that are contained in senior food can be purchased separately anyway. This includes supplements for ageing joints and arthritis, in addition to supplements for kidney or digestive problems.

As with all matters relating to an animal’s health, always consult with a veterinary expert before taking the decision to completely change your dog’s diet. After all, their health and well-being is of paramount importance.

AUTHOR BIO:
Jennifer has written many articles on looking after your pets for a range of animal websites and blogs. For the best value pet food, she recommends purchasing online from reputable companies such as http://www.hillspet.co.uk/.

Most of the common worms associated with dogs are found in the gastrointestinal tract: roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Although these worms are pesky and they can cause diarrhea, anemia, and other symptoms if left untreated, they can be easily treated and eliminated from your dog. If you suspect the presence of any of these worms your vet can do a simple exam to confirm their presence and treat your dog for them relatively inexpensively. Some owners worm their dogs a couple of times per year as a preventive measure.

Heartworms

Heartworms are different from these intestinal worms. Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes. The mosquito first bites an animal that is already infected with heartworms. This animal has tiny microfilariae – small, thread-like worms — in its bloodstream which the mosquito can transmit to another animal, such as your dog. Once these larvae are in your dog’s bloodstream they start to migrate toward the dog’s heart and lungs. When they are in the heart and lungs they become established and begin to grow. Adult heartworms can reach over a foot in length and live for years. A dog can host up to about 250 heartworms.

It takes several months from the time the dog is first infected for the heartworms to reach the lungs and heart and for them to be detected in a test by your veterinarian.

Where are heartworms found

In recent decades heartworms infections in dogs have been found in dogs in all 50 states. Heartworms have been found in dogs as young as a year old. Areas with higher mosquito populations are more likely to have heartworm-infected dogs, but any dog can get heartworms.

Symptoms

The symptoms may be barely noticeable at first, especially if the dog does not get a great deal of exercise. The heart and lungs are the organs more often affected but the liver and kidneys can also be affected. The first symptom is often a cough that becomes chronic, followed by exercise intolerance and abnormal lung sounds. When the disease is severe the dog may have difficulty breathing, enlargement of the liver, temporary loss of consciousness because of poor blood flow to the brain, fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity, abnormal heart sounds, and death.

Diagnosis and treatment

Your veterinarian can diagnose heartworms. There are several tests available. Most dogs can be successfully treated for the illness, especially if it is caught early. Treatment usually costs several hundred dollars depending on the method chosen and where you live. Complications can sometimes occur with heartworm treatment, especially if the dog has many adult heartworms present.

Heartworm prevention

By far the best, easiest, and least expensive way to keep your dog safe from heartworms is by keeping him on monthly heartworm prevention. Heartworm preventives work by killing any microfilariae which have been transmitted to your dog by mosquitoes each month – before they can do any harm. There are several different drugs used in various heartworm preventives for this purpose but they all act in the same way. Products include daily and monthly chewables as well as topical preventives that are applied to the skin. Some of these products are combined with products to kill other worms or with flea and tick medications. You should talk to your veterinarian to decide which heartworm preventive would be best for your dog.

The summer months can be lots of fun for you and your dog but they also pose some special challenges. Specifically, the noise from holiday fireworks and thunderstorms can be upsetting to many dogs. Even dogs who have never been bothered by these loud noises before can suddenly develop fears about them as they get older.

If your dog has issues with fireworks or thunderstorms, we have some suggestions for you so you can help your dog.

Dealing with loud noises in general

Most puppies are unaffected by loud noises. They don’t yet have any fears or negative experiences associated with noise. You can encourage your puppy to take noise in stride by petting him, playing with him, and showing him that things are fun if someone in the neighborhood is shooting off fireworks or if there’s thunder. Your puppy will take his cues from you and your attitude. When there is noise you should:

  • Stay positive and upbeat
  • Play with your puppy with toys
  • Keep your puppy entertained
  • Act like the noise is no big deal

You should not do the following things:

  • Do not make soothing sounds
  • Do not coddle, cuddle your puppy or offer sympathy
  • Don’t act like the noise is scary

If you do any of these things, your puppy will think that the noise is something to fear. The more you cuddle and soothe him, the more convinced he will be that he should be afraid! It doesn’t take very long for a puppy to become a basket case when he hears any kind of loud noise.

The happier you act when there is any kind of fireworks noise or thunder, the easier it will be for your puppy to think the noise is okay. Show him that the noise is good or no big deal.

Socialization

Puppies and dogs that are well-socialized are also better able to cope with loud noises. These dogs are typically calmer and they have more self-confidence. They are less likely to become fearful when they hear unexpected noises. It’s easiest to start socializing a dog when he’s a puppy but you can work on socialization with a dog at any age.

Fireworks

If your dog is scared of the noise associated with fireworks, there are some things you can do to help him.

  • Do not take him to fireworks displays
  • Do not put him outside when you know there will be fireworks, such as the 4th of July
  • Make sure your dog is safely indoors when you expect fireworks
  • Turn up the TV or stereo to drown out the noise
  • Consider staying home with your dog to keep him company when you expect fireworks nearby
  • Ask your veterinarian for a sedative for your dog if he still has problems relaxing when fireworks are expected

You can also work on desensitizing your dog to the noise associated with fireworks. This involves recording the sounds of fireworks and playing them for your dog. You start with the sound very low and gradually increase it until your dog becomes comfortable with the actual noise level.

Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms can be a little trickier than fireworks since some dogs are also sensitive to the static electricity in the air and the drop in air pressure, and not just the noise. They can sense a storm approaching several minutes before there is any thunder. If your dog gives you this kind of warning about an approaching storm there are several things you can do to help him. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use a thundershirt for your dog. A thundershirt wraps snugly around a dog’s body and gives him a feeling of comfort. It also keeps static away from his body. You can also use a snug-fitting T-shirt or tube top for the same purpose.
  • Give your dog a gentle herb to calm him such as valerian. Valerian is used to help people sleep and relax and it helps many dogs with anxiety about storms. You can also use rescue remedy made from flower essences.
  • Some dogs like to take cover in a place where static electricity won’t collect, such as a bathtub. If your dog heads for the bathtub or the tile floor in the bathroom, let him go there. These places make him feel more secure.
  • Finally, you can also work on desensitizing your dog to thunderstorms the same way you work on fireworks. Record the sounds of a storm and start by playing it for your dog very quietly. You can gradually increase the sound level until your dog is comfortable with the full sound.

thundershirt

Noise phobias are not easy to overcome but you can help your dog get through them.

How To Care For Your Dog’s Teeth

They are just dogs, anyway, so why care for their teeth?

Dogs, like humans, also suffer from dental problems. They develop plaque buildup that, if left alone, could lead to tooth decay. This causes pain and affects their eating habit. Tooth decay, in the long run, can also cause life-threatening problems such as kidney disease and heart disease as the tooth infection reaches these organs.

Dental problems in dogs can be avoided if you include dental care in your pet grooming routine. Below are some tips to care for your dog’s teeth.

Start Early

Before your puppy arrives, make sure that you have their things ready. These include leash and collar, dog bed and beddings, food and water bowls, dog food and toys, dog treats and grooming supplies. See to it, too, that you include dog toothbrush and toothpaste when you buy their grooming kit. Dogs are not used to having their teeth brushed, but you can easily make them feel comfortable when you are brushing their teeth if you start early.

Show the toothbrush to your puppy. The earlier he familiarizes himself with the toothbrush the better. Do not immediately put the toothbrush inside his mouth though. Make sure that he is comfortable around it first before you try it on his teeth.

When trying his new toothbrush out, speak to him in a soothing, calm voice and explain to him what the toothbrush is for and that it will be good for him. For example, show him the toothbrush while saying out loud the word; open his mouth gently and say “clean teeth.” This way, the words will sound familiar to him, and he will know what they are for.

Of note though; if you have two or more dogs, see to it that they have their own toothbrushes. Do not let them share toothbrush, and do not use your old toothbrush on your dog. Not only is it unhygienic but our toothbrush is not designed to be used on dogs. Dogs’ toothbrushes are especially designed for their canine teeth.

The Right Time to Brush Their Teeth

Do not attempt to brush your dog’s teeth when he’s in his most active mood. Instead, wait until after he has had a decent exercise and is ready to simply just sit still and rest. Also, make sure that he is very relaxed when you try to brush his teeth. Dogs need at least once or twice a week cleaning.

Dealing with a Difficult Dog

Introduce the toothbrush without toothpaste first and see how he takes to that. If he’s comfortable and seems to like having his teeth brushed, then use the toothpaste. Of note; do not use human toothpaste on them. This will only make him sick. Instead, use a special toothpaste designed for dogs. They seem to like flavored toothpaste most, such as chicken-flavored or beef-flavored toothpaste.

When brushing his teeth, gently brush the front teeth, particularly their canine teeth which are the longest and sharpest ones in front. Next, brush the teeth on the sides. It is also important that you brush the gum line.

If your dog does not want to get his teeth brushed and you think he is suffering from tooth problems, then take him to his vet who can give him a thorough dental checkup and cleaning.

Featured images:

Jennifer Dahlquist is a freelance content provider for several pet blogs where she shares tips and advice on pet grooming. If you think your dog has dental problem, she recommends that you bring him to Arbor Pet Hospital for a good dental checkup.