Here in Ohio, we are having a particularly hot summer this year. The heat brings many dangers to dogs. They are susceptible to heat exhaustion or heatstroke and they can get sunburned. Here are a few tips to help your pooch enjoy the fun and sun safely.
Don't leave your dog in a parked car for any length of time on a hot day. Even when the outside temperature is in the 70s or 80s, the temperature inside a parked car can climb to well above 100 degrees within minutes. It is typically 30 degrees warmer inside a parked car than outside. More dogs die of heat exhaustion in parked cars than any other situation.
Exercise during the coolest times of the day to avoid heat exhaustion. Also avoid the hot pavement which can burn the pads of her feet. Choose the shadiest sides of the street or grassy routes, carry water with you and stop and rest if necessary. Consider hosing down your dog thoroughly before walking to keep him cool. You can also soak a bandana in water and freeze it before putting it on your dog to wear on a walk.
Keep him hydrated. Provide plenty of fresh water at all times. If your dog is outside a lot, be sure to change the water often to prevent algae and bacteria from contaminating the water. Pale colored gums can be a sign of dehydration. Do not give a dehydrated or overheated dog a lot of water to drink right away because they will throw up. It is important to cool an animal down slowly.
Provide shade for your pet when he is outdoors. Be sure there is a tree or large structure he can get under to escape the sun. Be aware that as the day progresses, shade can move.
Consider a child-size wading pool for her to cool off in while outside. Many dogs love the water. Be sure to always supervise her and change the water frequently to prevent bacteria and algae.
Protect her paws from hot surfaces. Delicate foot pads can burn and it is painful for your pet. Avoid walking on hot pavement. Use a hose to cool down concrete or deck surfaces. Never transport your dog in the bed of a pickup truck in the heat of the summer, not only is it dangerous, the hot metal can easily burn their paws.
Consider pet gear that helps cool your dog such as a specially made cooling bandana or mat. You can purchase these at most pet stores or online pet supply companies.
Protect his nose from sunburn. A dog's nose is susceptible to sunburn since it it hairless. Use a sunscreen made for dogs or children on his nose if you will be out in the sun. The tips of the ears may also be susceptible. This is also true for light colored or hairless dogs.
Try rubbing alcohol. A quick way to cool down your pet is to rub their paws with rubbing alcohol, it will quickly bring down their body temperature.
Brush your dog regularly, especially those with thick fur or double coats. Removing loose fur and heavy undercoats will help keep him cool and reduce the amount of heat trapped in the layers of fur. Contrary to some beliefs, shaving your dog for summer is not usually a good idea as it can lead to sunburn.
Be especially watchful with Bulldogs, Pugs and Pekingese breeds which are more at risk for heatstroke due to their breathing anatomy.
The best advice is to keep your dog inside during the heat of the day if possible.
Watch for signs of heatstroke
in your pet such as whining, uncontrollable and irregular panting, restlessness, deep red or purple tongue, glazed eyes, drooling, staggering, rapid heartbeat, vomiting or odd or sluggish behavior. If you see these signs, hose him down or put him in a cool or room temperature bath (not cold-the extreme temperature change can cause shock). Call your
immediately if you suspect heatstroke.
Sources: ehow.com; peta.org; today.msnbc.com; vetmedicine.about.com; hsus.org; dogs.about.com; 8pawsup.com; video.petside.com
Healthy oral hygiene is important for our pet for multiple reasons. Clean teeth are not only cosmetically pleasing; they also promote good smelling breath and better long-term health.
If poor oral health causes an infection in our pet’s teeth or gums, it can spread to their kidneys. This is especially true in cats. Older cats often suffer from kidney failure, which can be caused by an oral infection spreading to kidneys. Valvular heart disease can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from a pet’s mouth can travel to its heart valves, causing them to change shape and become leaky.
Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine
When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.
But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.
At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.
So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.
When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.
We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth: The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.
Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.
“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.
So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:
“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.
Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.
The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”
Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.
Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress
The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )
Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.
Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.