Archive for August, 2013

Home Remedies for Dogs

Author Bio: Ron Rutherford has been a dog lover for as long as he can remember. After moving into a larger home he began using a lot more home remedies, and even installed a wireless dog fence for when his pup wants to run around the property.

Whether it’s an upset stomach, sore throat or stuffy nose, odds are there is a home remedy for it. Everything from vinegar to whiskey has been known to have healing agents of some kind for all types of ailments throughout history. Humans for centuries have made use of these holistic medicines and are now imparting their knowledge onto their pets.

Dogs, man’s best friend, ironically suffer from many of the same lapses in health as humans. Although most people don’t have to worry about fleas, they still share similar illnesses with dogs, and therefore similar treatments.

Shedding

Shedding is one of the worst aspects of owning a dog. Depending on the breed, shedding can become an issue very quickly. It can prove allergenic to both you and anyone who enters your home, it can potentially harbor fleas and it can find its way onto your clothes and into your food. Albeit annoying, it’s unfortunately something you’ll have to deal with as a dog owner.

  • Feeding your dog a healthy, well-balanced diet is a great way to combat shedding. It won’t eliminate it completely, but at least your canine companion will be rich with energy and thus live longer.
  • Giving your dog a regular de-shedding treatment with brushes or other tools can do wonders when it comes to reducing loose hair.
  • If your dog is the type to shed routinely, be assertive and get him or her properly groomed. It may cost a little bit more than doing it yourself, but your carpet and clothes will thank you.

Fleas

Of the many health issues dogs face, fleas are one of the most common. Although very prevalent in the dog world, fleas are not to be taken lightly. They can not only be incredibly bothersome to dogs, but can also spread harmful diseases and tapeworms, and were also known to be pivotal in spreading the Bubonic Plague. If you begin noticing symptoms of fleas in your dog, take action immediately.

  • One of the best ways to get rid of fleas is to routinely bathe your dog. This will keep your furry friend smelling great, and will act as a deterrent for fleas.
  • As an alternative to toxic chemicals, craft your own anti-flea solution by mixing vinegar, water, lemon juice and witch hazel. There are many similar recipes out there, but this one, paired with frequent vacuuming around the house is highly effective.
  • Flea combs are a quick and easy way to prevent any return visits from fleas. Give your dog a nice scrub and then toss out, or drown, all the bugs you find. But, if fleas do find their way into your home, fumigate immediately!

Chewing

Chewing isn’t as much of a health concern, as it is a behavior that can be easily curbed. Much like human babies, puppies have a tendency to put everything into their mouth. As a young dog exploring the world around, they’re bound to make a little bit of a mess, but if you’d rather nip the problem in the bud early on, there are many ways to deter your dog’s chewing.

  • First and foremost, encourage appropriate chewing and train your dog to only nibble on toys and any other items you see fit.
  • Secondly, ensure that your dog is fed regularly. Often chewing is caused by nutritional deficiencies and gastrointestinal problems, and can also be a sign of a bigger problem.

If a chewing problem does persist, use humane disciplinary action and or apply taste deterrents such as bitter apple and vinegar to prevent it from being a learned behavior.

Dock Diving Dogs Take Off!

If you’re a fan of dogs and water sports, then take a look at these dogs having a blast doing something called dock diving or dock jumping:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDMAmMy_OqU

How fun is that! In fact, you’ve probably seen dogs doing dock diving on TV before. It’s a popular activity on late night TV and even on sports networks.

You can find lots more videos online showing dogs taking off and making similar splashdowns. And the dogs love it. Dogs compete to see how far, or how high they can jump in the water, while their handlers give them all the encouragement they need before the jumps.

Dock diving is popular in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, and other countries. It started in 1997 as part of the Incredible Dog Challenged presented by Purina dog food company. These days, along with the Incredible Dog Challenge, there are a number of other popular organizations offering competitions in the new sport for dogs. DockDogs, Splash Dogs, Ultimate Air Dogs, and the United Kennel Club all offer competitions. UKC offers titles in the sport.

The dock for the jumps is generally between 35 and 40 feet long by 8 feet wide; and it’s about 2 feet above the surface of the water. However, distances may differ depending on the organization and the competition. Any body of water can be used that is at least 4 feet deep. The dock is covered by artificial turf or a rubber mat to provide better traction and safety. Handlers can use as much of the space on the dock as they require and can start their dogs from anywhere on the dock.

The jumps are measured either electronically or manually. Electronic measurement uses digital freeze frame technology. Most organizations measure the distance of the jumps from the lateral midpoint of the end of the dock to the point at which the base of the dog’s tail breaks the water’s surface. (In other words, approximately from take off point to landing point at the tail.) However, Purina’s Incredible Dog Challenge diving dog event measures the distance to the point where the dog’s nose is when his body enters the water.

Dogs typically participate in teams, with each dog making two jumps. The longer jump is the one that is counted for the dog’s score.

There are many divisions offered by each organization including Novice, Junior, Senior, Master, and and categories for the super jumpers, depending on how far the dogs can jump. There are even divisions for small dogs and for veteran dogs. As long as a dog is having fun, there’s no reason why he can’t participate.

The current unofficial record for a jump is 30 feet 11 inches.

Any kind of dog can participate in dock jumping. Mixed breeds as well as purebreds can excel. Many Labrador Retrievers and other sporting dogs do very well in these events, but any dog that enjoys the water can have a great time making a splash and going dock jumping.

Living with Pet Allergies

A Guest Post by Michael Ravitsky of FactoryPure.com

Millions of Americans suffer from allergies on a regular basis, and pet dander is one of the most common allergens out there.  Unfortunately for many people with pet allergies, they either love their pet or they love a human that loves their pet!  This post will give a simple explanation as to what allergies are, what exactly pet dander is, and some simple steps you can take to help alleviate pet allergy symptoms.

In short, an allergy is when your body mistakes a relatively harmless substance for a dangerous pathogen or toxin.  Your body has very powerful capabilities to fight off infection and internal injury; sometimes you experience your immune system at work in the form of headaches, redness, swelling, runny nose, or watery eyes.  For reasons not completely understood yet, the body occasionally has a problem with certain substances.  Common allergens include pet dander, mold spores, pollen, and dust mite poop!

Say you or your friend is allergic to cats.  What exactly does this mean?  You know that you get the sniffles when cats are around, or even when a cat owner comes over and no cat is present, but why is this?  Well, pet dander is actually an animal’s version of dandruff; it is flakes of skin that rub off onto furniture or simply shed from the body.  These skin particles can either latch onto surfaces or get kicked up into the air, where they can remain floating for hours because they are so light.  Pet dander particles are typically just a few microns (millionths of a meter) across, which is many times smaller than the width of your hair.

The size and shape of pet dander makes it adhere to surfaces very well.  This includes smooth surfaces like walls and flooring but is especially bad with porous or soft surfaces, such as carpeting, rugs, bed sheets, clothing, soft furniture, stuffed animal toys, curtains, artificial plants, and pillows.  These materials are like Velcro for pet dander.  The simplest thing you can do to tackle your pet allergy symptoms is to start removing these things from your home.  Get rid of rugs, minimize keeping plush and soft materials out in the open, and even consider replacing carpet with hard flooring.

Another necessity is to clean all of your surfaces, including walls, furniture, and flooring.  I don’t just mean to dust, mop, and use wet wipes; you have to really get in there!  Use a strong HEPA vacuum to clean your flooring and get your soft furniture steam-cleaned every so often.  If you keep cushions or stuffed animals around the house, wash them as often as possible according to the instructions on the tags.  Keep clothing in a closed closet away from your pets and don’t reuse clothing.  If you sleep with your pet, you should launder or replace your bed sheets, pillowcases, and blankets every few days.

As a supplement to regular cleaning, you can look into getting a portable air purifier for your bedroom or living room.  A good air purifier will use a HEPA (High Energy Particulate Arresting) filter, which is capable of filtering out over 99.9% of particles larger than .3 micrometers that pass through.  There are also some large models which can install within your home’s air conditioning system.  For some examples and more information about air purifiers, see our Best Pet Air Purifiers page.


Michael Ravitsky is a business student and part-time small business owner.  He has experienced allergies and respiratory sensitivities for his whole life and is always searching for natural ways to alleviate symptoms and feel better overall.  He has put this passion into FactoryPure, a retailer of indoor air quality maintenance products.

References:
http://www.lung.org/healthy-air/home/resources/pet-dander-1.html
http://www.epa.gov/asthma/pets.html

Natural Flea and Tick Prevention

Most of us have to worry about fleas and ticks during the summer. There are lots of good products available today to combat these pests and they do a great job of keeping dogs comfortable. However, if you are concerned about exposing your dog to too many chemicals in these products, there are still some natural flea and tick remedies that will work, especially if you don’t have a heavy infestation of fleas or ticks in your area.

Natural preventives

One of the old-fashioned ways to get rid of fleas is a flea comb. This is a very fine-toothed comb that will comb out any fleas in your dog’s coat. It works great if your dog picks up one or two fleas when you take him on a walk with you. You can eliminate the fleas before they have a chance to hop off and lay eggs in your home. Simply comb off the fleas and douse them in a small jar of alcohol to kill them.

Fleas also have an aversion to citrus scents and oils so you can use that to your advantage. Add a few drops of citrus essential oil to your dog’s regular shampoo before you bathe him and it will leave him with a nice citrus scent that will help mildly repel fleas.

You can also use the peels from a lemon and an orange – along with a sprig of rosemary to make a good natural flea repellant. Simply pour a pint of boiling water over the peels and the rosemary and let it sit overnight. You can then use it as a rinse for your dog after his bath. It will leave him with a pleasant citrus scent that will repel most parasites, including fleas, for a few days.

When it comes to ticks, many people report success with using rose geranium essential oil applied to your dog’s collar. You can make your own homemade tick collar by using a bandana to tie around your dog’s neck. Simply add a few drops of the essential oil to the bandana and secure it in place. You can also use thyme or rosemary essential oil on the bandana to repel ticks. You will need to wash the bandana often and reapply the oil.

You can kill fleas and ticks in your yard by using diatomaceous earth. This is a natural substance that consists of the fossilized remains of a kind of algae. It’s a fine powder but, under a microscope you can see that it has sharp edges which tear the exoskeletons of fleas and ticks, allowing them to dry out and die. Food grade diatomaceous earth is recommended for yard applications instead of the kind used for swimming pool maintenance. (It is added to livestock feeds and has many other applications.)

What else can you do to kill fleas and ticks?

Some of the best things you can do to kill fleas and ticks are simply keeping your home very clean and bathing your dog often. Vacuum often. Wash your pet’s bedding in hot, soapy weather at least once a week. And, keep your grass cut short.

Natural preventives will usually work well as long as fleas don’t become established in your home or yard. Ticks probably won’t be a problem if you don’t have woods near your property and your dog doesn’t visit wooded areas or come in contact with wildlife. However, if fleas or ticks become a more serious problem, it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian and discuss other methods of flea and tick control. A stray dog with fleas could wander by, leaving fleas hopping in your yard and suddenly you have a real problem with parasites.

Does Your Dog Nip?

Nipping, or biting, often occurs in young puppies. It’s a very common behavior problem and one that can be easily resolved, so if you have a puppy who nips or plays too roughly, don’t get too upset about it. Here’s how to handle it.

Why do puppies nip?

It’s perfectly normal for puppies to bite when they play. It’s part of dog behavior and they do this with their littermates and with their mother from the time they get teeth and start to explore and play. But puppies soon learn something called “bite inhibition” with their mothers and siblings. When they bite too hard or play too roughly, their littermates will stop playing with them. And no puppy wants to be ignored or left out of the pack. If a puppy bites his mom too hard while he’s playing, she might nip him in return to tell him to mind his manners. Puppies learn very quickly that they need to curb their nipping behavior and play more gently if they want to be part of the gang.

However, when puppies leave their dog families and go to live with humans on their own, they often don’t make the connection between bite inhibition with their siblings and bite inhibition with people. If they nip or play too roughly with people, they have to learn this lesson again. Fortunately, they will learn quickly when you remind them.

Teaching your puppy not to nip

If your puppy nips or plays too roughly, you can teach him better behavior by mimicking the same things his littermates do. When your puppy nips or plays too roughly, you should let out a loud YELP and stop playing with him for a few minutes. Let him know that his behavior hurt. Then you can continue playing. If he nips or plays too roughly again, you should YELP again and stop playing for a longer period of time. If he nips yet again, you should YELP and take a full time-out with your puppy. Stop playing, walk away, and don’t speak to him. Don’t have any contact with him for at least 15 to 30 minutes. Ignore him. After this time, you can interact with him again but don’t immediately return to playing with him.

If you follow these suggestions each time your puppy nips or plays too roughly, he should modify his behavior in just a few days and stop the nipping and roughhousing.

You should also be sure to reward your puppy for calmer, gentler behavior. Pet him gently and let him know that you like calm, relaxed behavior. Give him a treat when he’s being quiet and gentle. We often forget to reward dogs for good behavior.

What about other kinds of biting?

If you have an adult dog who is biting or threatening to bite you, that’s a more serious problem and you will need to consult a canine behaviorist or an experienced dog trainer to help you. If you or anyone in your family is ever in fear of your dog, don’t wait around. You need to get some professional help with your dog. Dogs DO bite their owners, even dogs you love and dogs you’ve had for a long time. In some cases a dog may have a veterinary health problem such as a tumor which could be affecting his behavior, so it’s often a good idea to have your dog checked out by your vet if you notice a sudden change in his behavior.

If you have a dog who is showing aggression toward other people, that’s also a serious problem and you need to consult a canine behaviorist or an experienced dog trainer to help you

Summertime typically means that dogs spend more time outside. But summer isn’t always kind to your dog’s paws. Whether you live in the city or in the country, your dog’s paws need some special care during warm weather.

Summer paw care for city dogs

Urban dogs tend to spend more time on pavement, whether it’s concrete or asphalt. They even encounter gravel at times. Many dogs take their exercise by going for walks on these surfaces and that can mean walking on some hot surfaces at times. While most dogs can tolerate sidewalks on normal days, when temps heat up, your dog’s paws can burn. Dogs who spend an excessive amount of time on pavement can get blisters and burns on their paws.

Shoes and booties for the city

You can prevent these problems with hot pavement by outfitting your dog with shoes or booties. There are a wide range of dog boots for city use. Most dog boots for city wear are not as rugged-looking as other dog boots. You can find booties in all kinds of colors and styles. If your dog wears dog apparel, many pet stores sell booties to match outfits. You can find everything from booties that resemble tennis shoes to boots that look like socks or that have “toes.” Some booties look more traditional or formal. Whatever kind of bootie you’re looking for, you can probably find.

Paw balm

You can also protect your dog’s paws by using a protective balm. Some protective products can be applied before taking your dog for a walk to help toughen up the paws. Other products are applied after a walk to help soothe the paws. Your dog will probably appreciate all of these efforts to keep his tootsies comfortable.

Regular nail care

Another way to keep your dog’s paws comfortable during the summer is by making sure you keep your dog’s nails trimmed short. Trim your dog’s nails every week or two, removing a small amount of nail each time. Long nails make walking more difficult for your pet and can cause his paw to splay.

If your dog has long hair on his paws, you can also use a pair of scissors to keep the hair neat and tidy. Lift his paws and trim the long hair on the bottom of the paws, too. This will help prevent him from picking up a lot of dirt and debris when he walks.

Paw care for country dogs

If you and your dog live in the country you can follow these same suggestions. There are also a few other things for you to keep in mind. If you and your dog go hiking or walking over rocky terrain, consider getting dog boots for your dog. This is also true if your dog will be out in tall grass and weeds or if you go hunting with your dog. Dogs can get grass awns and foxtails wedged between their toes. Sometimes these sharp plant materials can fester for months and even require surgery to remove them. So, if you and your dog will be in an area where he could pick up something between his toes, think about fitting him with shoes. More and more hunting dogs are wearing dog boots these days, just to be safe.

Most dog owners today are happy to open a bag of kibble or a can of pet food without thinking too much about what’s inside. We take it for granted that the food is nutritious for our dogs, though some foods may be better than others. Most people don’t realize that commercial dog food has only existed for about 150 years. Prior to that, dogs ate leftovers and whatever their owners scraped up for them.

Can dogs eat people food?

Yes, dogs can eat the same food that people eat. There are some particular foods that dogs should avoid, but they can eat most foods without any problem.

Which foods should dogs avoid?

Foods that dogs should avoid include:

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado and other pits (note that the flesh from avocados is fine for dogs; it’s the pits and skins that are problematic)
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate (the darker the chocolate, the worse it is for your dog)
  • Cooked bones (raw bones are usually fine)
  • Corn on the cob (the cobs can be very dangerous)
  • Grapes and raisins (they may be coated with a mycotoxin which doesn’t affect humans but which is dangerous to dogs)
  • Hops
  • Macadamia nuts (can be deadly to dogs)
  • Marijuana
  • Nutmeg
  • Onions (very harmful to dogs; deadly to cats)
  • Persimmons, peaches, and plums
  • Potato, rhubarb, and tomato leaves (potatoes, tomatoes, etc., are fine; it’s the leaves which are a problem)
  • Tobacco
  • Xylitol (found in sugarless candy and chewing gum, among other things; also found in human toothpaste)
  • Yeast

Some people recommend avoiding milk and dairy for dogs because some dogs are lactose intolerant, like people, but most dogs can eat foods with low levels of lactose. Milk has a lot of lactose in it so it’s hard for some dogs to digest. But yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheeses like Swiss, Cheddar, and American have small amounts of lactose and most dogs can eat them in small amounts.

Some people will add other things to this list but these food items are nearly always recommended for dogs to avoid.

If you avoid giving your dog these specific foods, you can give your dog anything you eat. Many people feed their dogs raw food diets or cook for their dogs. These diets are based on feeding the dogs certain percentages of meat, fat, and other ingredients such as vegetables or dairy.

Can you give your dog people food along with his regular food?

Yes, within limits. If you want to add some people food to your dog’s regular kibble, you can generally make about ¼ to 1/3 of his food people food such as chicken wings, hamburger meat, or ground turkey. Add a little liver or other organ meat to the food along with a little yogurt and some steamed veggies (or break them down in a food processor first to serve them raw). As long as you keep the total amount of food added to your dog’s diet at less than 1/3 of his total food intake, it should not upset the balance of vitamins and minerals in his kibble. If you start adding more food than this to your dog’s kibble, it will throw off the vitamins and minerals in his food which can cause nutritional problems.

Some people like to toss their leftovers into a crockpot and use the crockpot stew as a topping for their dog’s food.

Will your dog like eating people food?

Yes, most dogs like eating some real meat and other foods, even if you just add it to their kibble as a topping. It adds more flavor to their kibble.

What if you want to feed your dog more than just a small amount of people food?

If you would like to start feeding your dog homecooked meals or a raw food diet on a regular basis, there are a lot of good books and e-mail groups to help people come up with nutritious meals for their dogs. It’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian first, before making this kind of change in your dog’s diet. Many vets oppose these diets, partly because it can be hard to feed dogs a nutritionally balanced diet when formulating meals yourself. But even if your vet is discouraging, it’s still a good idea to have your dog checked out and make sure he is in good health before making a radical change in his diet.

You can also look for a vet who is comfortable working with an owner who feeds their own diet. There are vets who support raw food diets and homecooking for dogs. Or talk to a canine nutritionist before you start your dog’s new diet to get the best advice about what to feed.