And, I had to wait weeks for an appointment with the Doctor.
And, I had to wait weeks for an appointment with the Doctor.
Dogtopia’s Environmental Biologist Lorraine Rhoads answered your questions about dog safety in our recent Facebook Live session. Topics included pet nutrition, protecting your dog’s paws in cold weather, and what to bring for your pet if you have to evacuate your home.
Q: With all the natural disasters and other emergencies, what essentials should dog parents keep accessible in the event of an evacuation?
A: First thing’s first: plan ahead! Know your local concerns – wildfire? Hurricane? Heat wave? Consider the worst case scenario and create a family plan. Also, make sure your dog is up-to-date on all of its vaccines before a disaster hits!
Create a Canine Go Bag, which should include:
Before and During a disaster:
With enough warning, make sure your phone is fully charged and do your best to maintain a full charge with your communications by keeping extra chargers ready.
Keep in mind: if you have to evacuate, you need to take your dog with you. If it’s not safe for you to stay, it’s not safe for your dog.
Always evacuate as early as possible. The “better to be safe than sorry” rule applies here! The longer you wait to evacuate the more difficult it will be to do so.
Find a safe place to stay ahead of time. If friends or family are not close enough, contact dog friendly hotels and motels. Keep a list of these places, including their address and phone numbers printed out in your Canine Go Bag. Always check with your closest Dogtopia to see if they can help shelter your pup if it becomes difficult to find a pet-friendly place to shelter.
After the danger has past, there is still danger!
Assess any damage to your home or neighborhood carefully. Always keep your dog on a leash and thoroughly inspect all areas of a yard or enclosure for security before letting your pup off leash. This could be a scary time with many different, sights, smells and sounds, so keep this in mind in the aftermath.
Be aware that there might be wild animals displaced from the disaster that could feel disoriented and scared. Check your pup’s area carefully before letting them off leash in your yard. If you do find a wild animal, keep a good distance for you and your dog because wild animals can carry many communicable diseases.
Common Mistakes Pet Parents Make
Not being current on vaccines – It’s possible that your pup will come into contact with strange and different surroundings, including other animals in the days after a disaster. Protect your pet’s health from preventable diseases by keeping them current on vaccines!
Not having their dog microchipped – The unthinkable can happen and you could become separated from your fur baby. Having your dog microchipped will be the easiest way to be reunited. (Anecdote – During Hurricane Harvey, one volunteer veterinarian estimated less than 20% of displaced pets were microchipped. They were able to contact pet parents right away to reunite lost and scared pets if there were microchipped.
Not having enough supply of prescription medication – If your dog requires regular medication like seizure control medication or insulin for diabetes, make sure you always have a good supply to carry you though a disaster.
Not having enough food supply on hand – Keep your dog’s food supply stocked. It will be important to have enough food with you to last. Going through an unexpected food change during a stressful time will likely result in an upset stomach.
A: Has there been any recent safety tests done on seatbelts for dogs? Any recommendations for a dog safety belt?
Q: Currently manufacturers are not required to test products before going to the market. That means that you can buy a dog safety harness at a local store that is advertised to protect your pup and your human passengers without that product having to undergo any kind of vigorous testing.
The good news is dogs have their own “CPS!”
The Center for Pet Safety is a registered non-profit research and consumer advocacy group. They state on their website that they are dedicated to companion animal and consumer safety. Likewise, they:
While they don’t endorse product for payment or advertising, they do have CPS certified products on their website.
A: How much food should a medium sized dog (under 25 lbs) eat per day? And should it be broken up into two feedings? Or is one sufficient?
A: This is a tricky question to answer. The important thing to consider is not necessarily “how much” but “how many calories” are needed. This is based on weight, age, physical activity, pregnancy, health concerns, etc. As always, consult your veterinarian before you make any changes to your dog’s diet.
There are many ways you can calculate your dog’s calorie needs. However, to make things a little easier, we can head over to the internet where the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) supported the launch of the Pet Nutrition Alliance (PNA) website and nutrition calculator.
Based on this example, we plugged in the following to PNA’s calculator:
Be sure to consider how many treats your dog is getting throughout the day, as this effects your dog’s current caloric intake. Pet obesity is at an all time high, which is why Dogtopia launched Healthy Dog Central in the first place. A report in 2016 stated that conditions related to pet obesity cost the pet insurance industry and estimated $62 million.
Always work directly with your veterinarian to monitor your dog’s weight because there are many factors to consider.
Q: Is there a simple solution for a dog’s paws during the cold weather months? Especially a solution for dogs that don’t like the paw booties?
A: Start with lots of positive reinforcement and practice with the botties inside.
If the weather is that extreme, limit your dog’s exposure to the outdoors until conditions are better.
Another great product for sore paws is called Musher’s Secret. Our veterinarian, Dr. Antje Joslin, agrees that this product can be helpful in protecting sore paws from winter extremes. The label says “non-toxic and non-staining” plus they:
Remember: De-icing products can be extremely irritating and even toxic to dogs so please make sure you’ve cleaned your pup’s paws after any outside play!
Need a backup plan? Come to Dogtopia for indoor exercise! That’s what we are here for.
Q: What are some tips for traveling with dogs on an airplane? Is it safe? What do dog owners need to know?
Regarding the length of the trip, some professionals say try to keep each leg of your journey to under four hours. Others say to do it all in one nonstop trek so as to limit the on-and-off movement. If that non-stop is quite a long flight, you might consider breaking it into two so everyone can stretch their legs!
Be sure to have a backup plan and check in with your local Dogtopia for boarding where we will look after their every need.
Q: Are there certain cleaning products dog parents should stay away from? And ingredients to look out for?
A: Many household cleaning products can be unsafe and even dangerous for our pups.
Products that are not safe include:
Chlorine (Bleach) – Yes, it’s cheap and yes, it does kill germs, but this chemical is on the top of the list for dangerous cleaners. If we are looking at toxicity levels for inhalation, contact and ingestion, bleach comes out on top for causing trouble. ASPCA has a pet parent handout titled “How to keep your pet out of a poisonous situation” – they mention bleach as a leading cause of severe oral burns and irritation to the respiratory tract.
Ammonia – This is found in many oven cleaners, window cleaners, floor wax products and fertilizers. Ammonia is a very alkaline “natural” product that is very toxic to your dog! This chemical can cause severe damage to eyes, skin, stomach, and even causing death with enough exposure. Breathing in fumes or ingesting this chemical can lead to trouble fast. With a noticeable increase in “Natural” cleaners – there is an increase of products with Ammonia, please read labels carefully and know that “Natural” does not always mean safe!
Glycol Ethers – these chemicals are found commonly in many green “natural” cleaners including liquid soaps perfumes, paints and inks. Glycol ethers have been known to cause minor allergies and skin irrigations all the way to anemia and cancers.
There’s some doom and gloom on what to avoid, now, how do you effectively clean?
Be sure to tune into our future Facebook Live Expert Q&As, and submit your questions ahead of time here.
Our doggie experts are here to answer your questions about health, safety, nutrition and behavior.
ask a question
Lorraine Rhoads is an experienced animal biologist and environmental scientist with a background in environmental safety testing and biological surveys. Additionally, Lorraine has more than 6 years …
With over 30,000 hours and 15 years of HANDS ON dog training experience, Colleen Demling is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Behaviorist. She is a frequent contributor to local and national …
Dr. Antje Joslin brings 14 years of small animal experience in both private and corporate practice. Her love of animals is not just professional; along with her husband and four children, she shares …
Socialization has always been the most talked about topic in the dog lovers communities across the globe. While many dog owners are adequately experienced in socializing their puppies, others may have many questions, the most common of which are: why socializing my puppy is a necessity? How to socialize my puppy? What should my puppy be socialized to?
When you bring your puppy home the first couple things that need to be kept in the forefront of your mind are… a healthy and hygienic environment for your puppy and yourself and a scientific bring up strategy. Now what does this scientific bring up strategy stands for? Well, by this I meant to indicate a bring up method for your puppy so as to give him/her a balanced life, with proper health and right behavior.
Teaching “right behavior” doesn’t only mean teaching your puppy not to greet his loved ones by jumping on them, or to act as you desire on commands. The idea is a little more broad than what you may think of. A dog will be considered to have a “Balanced” and “Right” behavior if he/she is taught to consider certain situations as harmless and non-challenging, and when shows calm and relaxed behavior. This is something that cannot be achieved in a fortnight. Throughout your bringing up process your puppy should be socialized to as many adversities (situations, sights and sounds) as possible. Socializing you puppy is essentially an integral part of an organized bringing up process and should be started out at a very early stage – preferably at an age of 4 to 12 weeks.
Your goal in socializing your puppy
As the basic puppy care tips I would wish to say The goal that you need to set is to give your dog a perfectly balanced life through making him understand that certain situations, sights and sounds are harmful and/or challenging. This can be done through properly exposing your puppy or dog to those factors (situations, sights and sounds). The goal should be to help your puppy or dog to get conditioned to those factors by helping him or her to gain experiences, thereby learning to consider those factors as harmless.
Debunking a few common myths about socializing your dogs
As the goal is to share your life with safer, more relaxed, enjoyable and truly dependable canine companion, it may sound a little hard, and too technical for common dog owners to understand the methods. The fact unleashed: socializing is a very natural process where, as a leader of the pack, your primary role is to plan on what you want your dog to be socialized to. Secondarily, you need to introduce your dogs to those situations continuously and consistently until he/she start considering those situations as friendly.
However all you need to remember that the situations, which your dog is put to, must not be overwhelming for him/her. Remember, puppies have comparatively lower stress bearing limit than their adult counterpart. Canine senior citizens also have comparatively lower stress bearing limit. The introductory process needs to be very natural, calm and SHOULD NEVER BE FORCEFUL. Force will only worsen up the situation for your puppy and you cannot socialize him/her. Each time your puppy is exposed to something, he should not be overwhelmingly stressed.
Say, if you want to socialize your puppy to a group of children and noise created by them, then he/she may cower back in the corner. Do not apply force to take him near the kids. Remember, you need to be a very good observer, and you must keep a constant and close eye on your puppy’s behavior towards a specific situation. Some situations or sounds may prove to be overtly stressful for your puppy, while others may be quite smooth for him/her. If you find your puppy getting excessively stressed out, you should calm him/her by toning down the stress factor.
Although at the very early stage (3 to 12 weeks old) a puppy tends to be quite inquisitive about gathering new experiences – especially smells and situations, this may something turn out to be quite scary for them too. If you notice your puppy getting timid, and showing shyness and lack of confidence to certain new experience(s), start introducing him/her in a very gradual way and progressively. A sudden exposure to a frightening experiences should be avoided, as it will only worsen up his/her experience and he/she will never learn to consider it as harmless.
What type of situations should your puppy be socialized to?
There could be innumerable experiences that a owner may like to socialize to. However, some of the most come experiences.
People of disability, and/or in wheelchairs and crutches
Older people – senior citizens who cannot walk normally
Crowd, group of kids or adults, playing and making noise
Men with unusual mustache and/ or beards
Person carrying certain things, like umbrellas, helmets, masks, hats, sunglasses, strollers, wagons, parcels, sack etc.
People: Bikers – Bikers, cyclists, skateboarders
People in usual garments
Fireworks and crackers
Separation for few hours
Other animals and pets
Conditioning to grooming sessions
Puppy socialization classes in your location may be safe and organized means of socializing puppies. However, try to get as much information as possible before you enroll your puppy’s name in any socializing classes. Canine behaviorists have associated many dog attack incidences with lack of socialization. Understanding dog attacks is hence important for any dog owner.
Over-excitement is a big problem – one of the major behavioral issues in dogs. Over-excitement can be exhibited not only by the domesticated dogs but also by the dogs in the wild. Dogs are social animals and they have emotions that that they try express in their own unique ways that varies from dog to dog and from situation to situation. While some dog shows over-excitement during feeding time, others exhibit this undesirable behavior during the play or when they meet their loved ones or even during the periods or stress and anxiety.
Dealing with the hyper excitement in dogs is tough and a may be a very tricky proposition – especially because the root cause varies according to the situation. Playtime hyper excitement and feeding time hyper excitement should be handled differently. However, hyper excitement is a wrong behavior indeed, but its quite common and not any disorder.
The best way to deal with hyper excitement is to discourage the behavior by not nurturing it with treats or praises. However, at the same time it is important to make sure that your interaction with your dog and your behavior towards him/her should be calm so as to help your him/her cool down.
Here, we will discuss the hyper excitement in two different situations – during feeding and during play time.
Play Time Over-excitement
Often times the play time hyper excitement is confused with aggression. Remember aggressive behavior is way different from hyper excitement, although in novice eyes both behaviors may look very similar. Lack of outdoor socialization and inadequate behavioral training are the root causes of over-excitement during the playtime. Some breeds – especially the working dogs that are expected to have naturally higher energy level like German shepherds, Airedale Terrier, English Springer Spaniel, Pointer, Vizsla, Jack Russell Terrier, Collies, Beagle, Dobermann Pinscher naturally show overly excited behavior during the play or walk time.
Boundaries (limitations) in the play is necessary; more important is balancing the playtime. It is most important to identify the factors that stimulate the dog to become hyper active. Once those factors are identified effectively, you can control hyper activity by addressing those factors. Giving the dog sufficient exercise – both physical and mental stimulation are of utmost importance. Most common factor that stimulate dogs to become overly excited is the owner’s excitement. If you speak to him in an excited tone or exhibited excitement through your body language you will stimulate your dog to behave more excitedly if he/she is already having over-excitement problem.
Setting boundaries (limitations) include setting up of certain consistent rules for your dog and train him/ her to obey those. Make sure your dog in a calm (yet alert) state before you throw the ball. If he has a tendency to grab it directly from your hand before you throw it, it is immediately necessary to suppress this tendency through properly socializing him/her to the situations. Train him/ her to stay cool until you throw the ball. AboutGermanShepherdDog talks in depth about play time over-excitement
Feeding Time Hyper Excitement
Feeding time over excitement is not as common as the play time hyper excitement. The most common factors that stimulates the feeding time over excitement is the type of treat/ food he/ she gets, the time when he gets the food, and the treatment he gets even after showing over excitement. If your dog always gets exactly what he always expects, then he may exhibit over excitement to express his/ her emotion. If he gets exactly at the time when he expects, it may stimulate him/her to become over excited.
And finally if he gets his highly expected food, during exactly when he expects it even after showing too much excitement (which is not desirable) that you are naturally nurturing this behavior. Best way out is to keep changing his food (always keeping in mind the goodness of ingredients) frequently and alongside set different times for food, without making much delay. By doing these you can help him keep away from anticipating the food type and time.
Obviously putting him to a good exercise session (play and/or walk) at least two hours before the his feeding time is a wise plan.
Other Reasons For Hyper Excitement
Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD): Although quite rare but but Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity may be another reason behind your dog’s over excitement.
Highly Reactive Dogs: Certain breeds are more reactive than others; while certain dogs in a same breed tend to be heavily reactive. Reactive dogs, as opposed to hyperactive dogs, tend to react to any situations – be it small or big. Hyper-reactivity may be another reason for your dog to show over excitement (often leading to barks, followed by aggression at times).
Is Your Dog Obsessed About a Particular Thing? If so, then showing hyper excitement over things that your dog is obsessed about is quite normal. Try to desensitize your dog, which is a long term process and action involves almost all approaches that you would do to socialize him or her to keep his/her emotion under control. Obsessive compulsive disorders in dogs can be treated by systematic desensitization – a technique that involves gradually exposing the dog to an ever-increasing excitement-provoking stimuli. It is recommended not increase the intensity of the stimuli/ situation until the dog fully learns to stay relaxed under the given situation.
However, nothing can resolve these behavioral problems overnight. It is a long-term process and you need to keep cool and be patience. Throughout this process it is important to the owner to keep away from showing over excitement for any reason.
Staying consistent, systematic and focused are the most important qualities for a good pack leader.
Dog owners are often concerned about their aging dogs, and that is natural. However, all dogs doesn’t become geriatric at any single age. It all depends on the adult size – often time determined by breed. We recommend the UC Davis Book of Dogs (published on October 25, 1995), which is the complete medical reference guide for dogs and puppies, authored by Mordecai Siegal, where you can get a more clear idea of when does your dog become geriatric. In his book, Siegal mentioned that small-breed dogs like small terriers become geriatric at the age of about 11 years; medium-sized dog breeds like larger spaniels become geriatric at an age of about 10 years, large breed like German Shepherd Dogs at about 8 years of age and and giant breeds like Great Danes become old at about 7 years of age. The famous AboutGermanShepherdDog.Com has come up with a FAQ Section for Senior Dog Care
However there are very few instances where dogs have lived for 24 years, 26 years and even 29 years. A few worth mentioning are:
Max (Terrier): Birth – 9 August 1983; Death – 18 May 2013; Life span – 29 years (United States) Bella (Labrador cross): Rescued as a puppy in 1982; Death – 6 September 2008 ; Life span – little less than 29 years (United Kingdom) Pusuke (Cross-breed): Birth – 1 April 1985; Death – 5 December 2011; Life span – 26 years (Japan) Adjutant (pure breed Labrador Retriever): Birth – 14 August 1936 ; Death – 20 November 1963; Life span 27 years (United Kingdom)
Age of a geriatric dog is often defined in terms of “human years” and “dog years”. It is a popular myth that 1 human year means 7 dog years, and this has no scientific base, but just a belief that most dog owners have. There is no single and scientifically supported method of calculating the dog’s age in comparison with the age of humans. However, alike humans the effects of aging in dogs are quite similar. Just like a 7 years old kid will be more energetic and playful than a 45 years old man, a puppy tends to show more agility and energy than a 8 years old dog.
Effects of aging in dogs
An aging dog will become physically less active and tend to sleep for a longer span of time, and eventually develop joint problems, leading to abnormal and slow movement. Aging dogs become more frequently and easily affected by environmental and climatic changes. Old age leads to dermal problems, digestive problems and mental infirmity (Senility). The most common effects of aging in dogs are as follows:
Hearing loss and even total impairment when the dog becomes too old
Vision loss and development of cataracts
Diminishing activity level
Developing joint problems like arthritis
Thickening of skin
Nails become thick and brittle
Weakening of muscle
Weakening of teeth
Tumors and Mammary cysts in females
Lack of confidence (problem descending down the stairs, not eager to go to new places)
Working out a plan for treat and care for an aging dog is tougher really. An experienced veterinarian is the only best person to give you a proper guidance regarding care of an old dog. Any kind of experimentation with health and medication is highly discouraged. Remember that your dog may need a different health plan and treatment procedure.