Archive for March, 2015

Many dogs suffer stress when they’re confronted with loud noises from fireworks or thunderstorms. Other dogs feel stress when they travel or when there are unusual things going on in the home such as workers visiting or a new pet in the family. Even a trip to the vet can cause a dog to become anxious and worried. There are all kinds of situations that can make dogs nervous. In these situations a calming collar can sometimes help calm and relax a dog. Even dogs in shelters and rescues have benefited from wearing calming collars.

How do calming collars work?
Currently there are two kinds of calming collars, though they work in similar ways.

Herbal collars
The first kind of calming collar uses fragrant herbs to calm and soothe your dog. The herbs are carefully chosen for their soothing qualities. These collars usually have cloth overlaying the collar underneath so the herbs can be sewn inside. This kind of calming collar is based on aromatherapy. The herbs are typically dried herbs so they do not contain essential oils that might irritate your dog’s skin. Collars that contain dried herbs usually continue to work for about 3-4 months.

DAP collars
The other kind of calming collar available now is a DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) collar. These collars work the same way that other DAP products work. Dog appeasing pheromones are pheromones that mimic the scent that mother dogs release when puppies are nursing. These pheromones are very soothing and calming to dogs. While many DAP products release these pheromones intermittently, when your dog wears a DAP calming collar, the pheromones are released in a sustained fashion. These collars typically last for about 30 days. They are usually plastic collars that can easily be adjusted to fit your dog. The pheromones are in the plastic of the collar and your dog’s body heat helps release them.

Both kinds of calming collars have proven to be effective with dogs who have stress and anxiety issues. Your dog simply wears the calming collar like an ordinary collar, especially when he might be facing a situation that would make him nervous. You should remove the collar before giving your dog a bath. Manufacturers usually suggest that you should not use these collars if your dog has skin lesions or irritated skin. The collars are non-toxic and your dog won’t be harmed if he chews on them though, of course, you should discourage any collar chewing.

Other therapies
If you have a dog who is afraid of thunder, fireworks, or who has other problems with stress and anxiety, calming collars are a good way to help reduce your dog’s initial stress. However, they are not a permanent solution. They don’t solve your dog’s problem. But they are a great way to help your dog stay calmer and feel better. This often makes it easier to work on a long-term solution to your dog’s issues. Calming collars are even good for working with dogs who have problems with separation anxiety. Once a dog begins to calm down and feel less fearful, it is much easier to work on some behavior modification solutions

Benefits of Neutering

In the 1960s and early ’70s in the United States there was a serious problem with pet overpopulation. An estimated 20 million cats and dogs were euthanized in animal shelters each year. At that time most people did not spay or neuter their pets and it wasn’t unusual for pet owners to have unwanted litters of kittens or puppies.

Since that time there has been a great public education campaign to make pet owners more aware of their responsibility when it comes to containing their pets and stopping unwanted litters. Today it’s estimated that 2-3 million cats and dogs are euthanized in animal shelters each year and many of those animals are considered unadoptable because of age or illness. Great strides have been made toward reducing unwanted litters.

According to the American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey 78 percent of owned dogs are spayed or neutered and 88 percent of owned cats are spayed or neutered. The message about spaying and neutering pets has reached the vast majority of pet owners in the U.S.

Benefits of spaying and neutering
There are a number of benefits to spaying and neutering your dog. According to the Society for Theriogenology (animal reproductive veterinarians) spaying and neutering provide the following benefits:

Health
• Decreased risk of mammary, testicular, and ovarian neoplasia

• Decreased risk of pyometra

• Decreased risk of prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostatic cysts and squamous metaplasia of the prostate

• Decreased incidence of perineal and inguinal hernia and perineal adenoma in neutered male dogs

Behavior
• Inter-dog aggression may be due to competition for available territory or availability of cycling animals

• There is a decreased risk of wandering and being hit by a car in neutered animals

• Sterilization prevents unwanted litters

On the other hand, there are also benefits to keeping your dog intact.

Benefits of keeping your dog intact
• There is a decreased incidence of hemangiosarcoma in intact dogs

• There is a decreased incidence of osteosarcoma in intact dogs

• There is a decreased risk of transitional cell carcinoma in intact dogs

• There is a decreased risk of prostatic adenocarcinoma in intact male dogs compared to gonadectomized male dogs

• There is a decreased incidence of obesity in intact male and female dogs, which may be due at least partly to increased metabolic rate

• There is a decreased incidence of urinary incontinence in intact female dogs (equivocal if bitches are spayed after 5 months but before their first heat)

• There may be a reduced incidence of urinary tract infection in intact female dogs

• There may be a reduced incidence of autoimmune thyroiditis and hypothyroidism in intact male and female dogs

• There is a possibly reduced incidence in diabetes mellitus in intact male dogs

• There is a reduced incidence of cranial cruciate rupture in intact male and female dogs

• There may be a reduced incidence of hip dysplasia in male and female dogs that are not gonadectomized before 5 months of age

Behavior
• There may be less aggression towards people and animals in intact female dogs

• There may be a decreased incidence of cognitive dysfunction in intact male and female dogs

A new study from the University of California at Davis backs up these findings and emphasizes the negative effects of spaying and neutering on hip dysplasia and cancers. http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10498 According to this study, and others, it’s definitely advisable to wait until your dog is older to spay or neuter.

So, while there are definitely some benefits to spaying or neutering your dog and it makes sense for many pet owners, there are also health benefits to keeping a dog intact. You should always talk to your vet about spaying and neutering. Discuss your dog’s overall health, his age, his breed or mix, and any health conditions that might be affected by spaying and neutering. Your dog looks to you to make these decisions for him so find out all you can

Many people are under the impression that all dogs know how to swim, or dog paddle, but that’s not the case. While some breeds are natural swimmers, such as Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, and Portuguese Water Dogs, there are many other breeds and dogs that aren’t physically built for swimming. Many of the brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed) like Pugs and Bulldogs, can have difficulty keeping their head up out of the water or supporting their heavy bodies with their shorter legs. Some dogs need some help in learning to swim. And a life jacket/personal flotation device is a good idea for most dogs.

Fortunately, you can teach most dogs to swim. This is a good idea, especially if you have a pool or if your dog will be spending any time around the water. Knowing how to swim could save his life if he falls in the water. Plus, swimming is a lot of fun for many dogs and they like to be able to join you in the water.

Teaching your dog to swim

Here are some tips to help you teach your dog to swim.

  • Choose a small area. If you have a pool, use the shallow end for teaching your dog at first. If you are using a lake or pond, use an area that is not very deep. Your dog will feel more confident in a shallow area while he learns. You can move to a deeper part of the water as your dog gains confidence.
  • Use a life jacket or vest. Even if your dog is a natural swimmer, it’s usually a good idea to fit him with a colorful safety vest in the water. This is especially important when you are boating or in deeper waters, but it is also a good idea in a swimming pool or pond. Not only does a life jacket provide your dog with some buoyancy, but the colorful vest makes it easy to see your dog if you need to find him quickly in the water. Choose a vest that has a good handle on the back so you can grab your dog from above in case you are in a boat. Jackets come in all sizes and styles so choose one that fits your dog well.
  • Avoid a lot of noise. Work with your dog when it’s quiet and the two of you can focus. You can gently guide or coax your dog into the water. Use your arms to support his stomach and hold his head up in the water. His legs should begin to paddle. You can let him paddle around the shallow water while you guide him. You can gradually let him do more on his own. If he is wearing the life jacket it should help keep him afloat.
  • Be encouraging. Just as with any kind of training it’s important for you to be encouraging. Praise and reward your dog for his efforts. Take treats with you – preferably something that will be okay if it gets wet. Make your dog’s swimming lessons fun.
  • Don’t throw your dog in the water. Some dogs might be scared of the water. Never throw a dog into the water or force them in the water. If you scare your dog he won’t want to swim or get in the water. If your dog doesn’t want to get in the water then just play with him on the edge of the water and encourage him to get his paws wet. He may eventually want to get in the water. But don’t force him.

 

  • Keep supporting your dog. Continue to support your dog’s middle and his hind legs until he starts paddling. Once your dog gets the hang of swimming he should be okay, but stay nearby
  • Show your dog how to get out. This is very important, especially if you have a swimming pool. Teach your dog where the steps are and how to get out of the pool. Many dogs drown each year because they fall into pools and they don’t know how to get out. Swim with your dog to the steps again and again and make sure that he knows where to exit the pool.
  • Watch your dog. Don’t leave your dog unattended. Don’t allow your dog to swim without you. Even if you are together, keep checking on your dog. A dog (or anyone) can drown quickly, so keep your eye on your dog when he’s in the water.

If you follow these suggestions you should be able to teach your dog to swim and keep him safe. Most dogs love to swim even if they aren’t natural swimmers. So, head to the water with your dog and have a great time!

Does Your Dog Need Sunscreen?

Believe it or not, some dogs do need to use sunscreen. While dogs enjoy the sun as much as any of us, there are some breeds that are hairless and other breeds with white or pink skin which is sensitive to the sun. Owners with these dogs need to take some special precautions so their dogs’ skin won’t burn.

 

Which breeds?

Hairless breeds include:

  • Chinese Crested (AKC and other registries)
  • Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog) (AKC and other registries)
  • Peruvian Hairless Dog (Perro Sin Pelo del Perú) (FCI, UKC, AKC Foundation Stock Service)
  • American Hairless Terrier (UKC)

 

Non-registered breeds:

  • American Crested Sand Terrier
  • Hairless Khala (Argentine Pila Dog)

 

All of these breeds might need some sunscreen when they are out in the sun, especially if you live in a very hot, sunny area. Some of these dogs have both hairless and coated versions, or dogs that have some slight fur on their bodies. The hairless dogs may need some moisturizer for their skin, too. For example, the Chinese Crested has both a hairless and powder puff variety. The hairless has a smooth body with skin showing. They feature silky hair on their head, “socks” on their paws, and a plume on their tail. They require sunscreen when outside and they often need some moisturizer for their soft skin.

 

The Xolo or Mexican Hairless Dog also has skin showing over his body. These dogs are an ancient breed from Mexico and they were sacred to the Aztecs and other central American people. The dogs are believed to date back more than 3000 years and it’s thought that they derive from a spontaneous genetic mutation for hairlessness.

 

Hairless dogs sometimes have problems with acne if too much lotion or cream is used on their bodies or if they are bathed too often. Bathing can strip away their natural skin oils, just as it does with coated dogs.

 

Other dogs that need sunscreen

Other dogs that sometimes need sunscreen include dogs with white or pink skin. If your dog has a white or partly white coat, then he probably has white or pink skin beneath it. He should be fine outside unless he likes to lie on his back and show off his stomach. The fur is very thin over the abdomen and inner thighs. You can apply sunscreen in this area to protect your dog.

 

If your dog has a pink or pale nose you can also place some sunscreen on it for protection. Delicate ears are another place where you might want to apply some sunscreen.

 

And, any dog that has a thin coat with little undercoat might need some sunscreen. But try not to grease your dog up with too much of the product. If you can easily see your dog’s white or pink skin through his hair, then some sunscreen might be in order. Or you can limit your dog’s exposure to the sun.

 

What to use?

Vets advise you to avoid using any product with zinc oxide on your pet. If your dog licks zinc oxide it can make him dangerously anemic. Otherwise you can use sunscreens that are SPF 15. There is one sunscreen that is made specifically for dogs (and horses) and approved by the FDA: The Epi-Pet Sun Protector Sunscreen.

 

Most dogs can enjoy the sun without any problems but if you have a hairless dog or a dog with more sensitive skin, a little sunscreen can provide the protection your dog needs