Tag: Sleepover Rover
In a previous post we talked about working dogs and the important roles they play in disaster and other emotionally charged situations, but in addition to the help working dogs provide us as search and rescue dogs, military dogs, and in their other high intensity roles, they also play an important role in improving our quality of life via our more routine, everyday activities.
For many children, reading out loud can be a frightening prospect; making mistakes in front of their peers and the adults that they either look up to or maybe don’t even know can be quite intimidating and can hinder their progress. Reading in front of an audience, young students may feel anxious or stumble on their words. One solution that has proven quite viable is for readers to read to specially trained therapy dogs. These dogs provide a quiet (and snuggly!) audience for young readers and allow them to make mistakes without feeling the same level of intimidation or judgment that they feel when reading to fellow students. There are currently dog-assisted reading programs throughout the nation, including Michigan’s Reader Dog Program that is in its eleventh year.
NAVIGATING DAILY TASKS (SOMETIMES LITERALLY!)
Service dogs can be trained to help their companions with every aspect of daily life, including getting around walking, doing grocery shopping, and even carrying out household tasks. Service dogs can take on health related tasks such as carrying oxygen or other medications for their owners, can be trained to watch for (and smell for!) signs of low blood sugar in diabetics or blood changes that happen prior to seizures in epilepsy patients, and can help hearing-disabled companions with cues such as doorbells and pedestrian traffic signals. In fact, service dogs can even be trained to help their owners listen for babies and children that need assistance!
PROVIDING EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
Therapy dogs, another type of trained working dog, provide a comforting presence for their handlers. This service goes beyond the proven emotional support that dog ownership provides (dog owners have been shown to be both happier and healthier, although the direct cause of both of those effects has not been determined, i.e. more time outside, more affection, etc.) and allows those suffering from psychiatric disabilities to experience improved daily quality of life. For example, a dog trained to assist a patient suffering from PTSD may be taught to recognize the signs of anxiety and help to intervene before the situation escalates, or a dog trained to work for a handler that requires regular medication may be trained to remind him or her to take those meds. Overall, dogs are our best friends for a reason: they are kind, pure of intention, and can be an endless source of fulfillment and joy in our lives. It seems like a fitting extension that combining their compassionate nature and their intelligence with appropriate training can lead to such positive benefits for the humans around them!
Images courtesy of Andrew Gray and S Wong
Hot temperatures have been the norm for some time now, and with summer in full swing many common pests and bugs are also in their element as far as climate goes. In addition to good nutrition, adequate shelter and exercise, and lots of love and affection, our dogs need protection from these bugs and parasites! But where to start? In this case, prevention is key; preventing issues with pests is typically much easier and less resource intensive than trying to remove a pest that’s already snuck by us as pet parents!
EXTERNAL BUGS – NO THANKS!
Bugs and critters may vary based on the region within which you live, but common external offenders include fleas and ticks. In order to effectively prevent flea and tick infestation, pet owners can opt to provide regular preventative measures, including applying a preventative such as Frontline or Advantix. These preventatives are sold in doses based on your dog’s weight and vet offices often carry them at somewhat of a discount when compared to retailers. It may also be a good idea to get them at your vet’s office because you will have the opportunity to confirm which product meets your needs based on the season, your area, and your pet’s size and individual health history. Preventing fleas from ever taking hold is SO MUCH easier than trying to get rid of an infestation after it starts, and in addition to being a nuisance to pets and their owners, fleas and ticks carry serious health concerns. They can spread a variety of diseases and if left unchecked, multiple flea bites can wreak havoc on your dog’s wellbeing and overall health. He may even be severely allergic to them! Some preventative formulas also offer protection against mosquitoes and other bugs, so you can protect against multiple offenders in one shot!
INTERNAL PESTS – DOUBLE NO THANKS!
In addition to the fleas, ticks, and other bugs that like to hitch a ride on our pups outside, there are also internal pests that can be picked up a variety of ways. For example, heart worms are common in some regions and can be deadly for our pets. There are also several varieties of worms that seek to take up residence in our dog’s intestinal tract. That being said, just as with fleas and ticks there are preventative steps we can take to prevent such issues. There are monthly heartworm preventatives available for dogs; just be sure that before starting one you have your vet test for any current heartworm infestation. A dog that already has heartworms can get much worse if she is given a heartworm preventative. For intestinal worms, simple steps to maintain sanitary conditions may be prevention enough. Clean up your yard on a regular basis, and only frequent dog parks that are well maintained. Watch your dog for signs of intestinal distress such as vomiting and diarrhea, and when you go to your well-dog checkups make sure to ask about any parasites that may be an issue based on your dog’s specific risk factors (area in which you live, places you go together, etc.). And no matter what, remember that regular check-ins with your vet, following a preventative medicine schedule if needed, and just being an aware pet parent will prevent many issues before they start! These pests may all seem quite alarming but is possible to keep your dog happy and healthy simply by providing the love, care, and awareness that he needs. And worst case, if your dog does have an issue with a pest, the sooner you catch it and work with your vet to eradicate it, the better! The two of you can indeed enjoy the warm weather and the great outdoors together.
Images courtesy Joe Futrelle and Dave See
Social media has rapidly become a mainstay of modern culture, with businesses relying more on sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to both cultivate new customers and relay information to existing fans of their brands and products. This holds true for the animal advocacy world as well; as we previously discussed, animal shelters and even dog-conscious individuals are progressively learning how to harness the power of social media to do good for our furry best friends. Who can really speculate how many lost dogs have been reunited with their owners via Facebook and Twitter posts? And some animal shelters have become quite savvy at connecting potential pet parents with dogs desperately in need of a home. In fact, some animal shelters are upping their social media game and coming up with newer, more innovative ways to use the massive reach of social media to meet the needs of the dogs for whom they advocate.
TINDER IS GOING TO THE DOGS
According to tech website Wired.com, the dating application Tinder currently has over 10 million daily users. The premise of the site is quite simple: users sign up using their Facebook account and then they simply swipe through profiles of other users and give them a “yes” or “no” based on whether they are interested in getting to know more about them. If both parties swipe to the direction for yes, they can start chatting. It’s like a game of sorts, and there is no rejection to be had. If someone swipes no, the other party never knows and simply carries on. However, things got a little more interesting for users in New York City recently when dogs started popping up on their Tinder matches! A local shelter created profiles for abandoned pups in need of rehoming and adjusted their ages so they’d show up in human users’ recommendations. Even if a Tinder user wasn’t currently in the market for a new pup, the whole premise is quite innovative. Dogs that need to be adopted first need to be noticed by potential pet parents, and what a great way to solicit that attention!
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISSUE
Just as social media has given animal advocates and animal shelters a quick, far-reaching way to disseminate information about dogs in need of homes and other relevant information, social media has also made the distribution of personal information much more rapid. For example, a shelter in Great Britain ran into issues when the personal information of former owners listed on dog’s identification tags went viral. Photos of the shelter’s pups also occasionally included a phone number or address of the former pet parent(s), thus allowing angry animal lovers to contact the former owners and harass them about why they chose to surrender their dog. It seems that this is the exception rather than the rule when it comes to finding assistance for pups via social media, but it does illustrate that once unleashed the power of websites such as Facebook with their incredibly high daily traffic can be used for productive and non-productive activities. Once posted online, information is truly primed for public consumption, so if you do opt to use social media as an animal advocate or simply as a pet parent, be aware of ALL of the information that you may be including in your post!
Images courtesy Pink Sherbet Photography and Tony Alter
In Wisconsin last month, longtime pet parent Lois Matykowski noticed that her granddaughter’s ice cream pop had vanished. Naturally, all eyes turned to the family pup Tucker, a notorious food and snack snatcher. It turned out that Tucker had not only grabbed the ice cream, but he’d even ingested the stick! And the story gets better: when he got sick later, he also managed to cough up a wedding ring that had been missing from the family for FIVE years. Tucker’s vet thinks the stick may have loosened the ring up from wherever it was hiding. Luckily, Tucker was just fine, and other than a sad little one over an irretrievable ice cream treat, everyone else in the family came out unharmed as well. However, Tucker’s adventure highlights all too common issues that pet parents face: keeping their dogs away from choking hazards and knowing what to do in the event their dog does get into something they shouldn’t.
INDOORS AND OUT: REMOVING HAZARDS
Inside our homes, from the perspective of a mischievous dog off limits treats and treasures are quite abundant. This is where watching your dog and knowing his patterns may come in handy. For example, some dogs are quite fond of shoes, while others are more interested in anything made of leather. In contrast, some pups are quite interested in eating paper or photos. When your dog does show interest in things that aren’t his, try and track what his main targets are. You may be able to learn what you need to be extra careful about keeping out of reach. Additionally, if your dog is young or just never quite outgrows scavenging, watch out for the usual suspects: small articles of clothing, chicken bones in trash cans, and even smaller hazards like marbles and individual keys. Both outdoors and in, it is imperative that poisonous hazards are kept secure and out of reach, including pesticides, soaps, and motor vehicle fluids. Practicing good housekeeping can save you significant time, heartache, and money by keeping your pup out of things she shouldn’t be snacking on, so if in doubt, put an item up on a shelf or safely behind a cupboard door!
IF YOU GET SUSPICIOUS…
Realistically, if you come home to a spilled bottle of detergent in the laundry room you will have definite cause for concern. But what if you don’t directly witness any mischief and your pup seems off? If an item is inexplicably missing or your dog’s behavior has changed (he is sluggish, hasn’t gone to the bathroom, loses his appetite, or is having trouble keeping food down), you can take immediate steps to help him. In the case of suspected ingestion of a poisonous substance (such as rat poison or auto coolant), call poison control, an animal hotline, or your vet’s office immediately. Time is of the essence! If you suspect your dog may be experiencing blockage of some sort, call your vet! You may need to bring her in for imaging to see just what exactly she has gotten herself into. If necessary, call the after-hours care number for your vet. It is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of your dog, and pups can be quite creative when they get themselves into trouble. Which also brings us to a final point on prevention: our dogs tend to get into trouble when they are bored or anxious, so keeping them happy and safe can help prevent incidents such as these. Even the most well cared for and happy dog will get into trouble at some point, but pet parents can consider crate training their dogs when they have to be out and making sure their pups are getting adequate attention, exercise, and supervision in order to keep them from eating all of the forbidden things!
Images courtesy of RPavich and Beanie1988
Nail trimming, ear cleaning, and bathing – all familiar territory for pet parents. But pampering our pets has taken a decidedly modern twist over the past few years and the gap between human pampering services and pet pampering services is slowly shrinking. Now our dogs can not only attend doggy daycare, but they can even visit dog spas and dog gyms! Every option may not be a great fit for all pet parents and all dogs, but reviewing what is out there and available is still quite fun!
DOGGY DAYCARE IS NOT JUST DAYCARE ANYMORE
Some modern doggy daycare facilities have grown to include swimming pools, spa areas and services, and even doggy masseuses. Even included outdoor play areas are not just fenced in grassy places to play, but rather may also have play structures and other activities geared specifically toward dogs. The facilities are designed to make dogs feel as comfortable as possible and to remove the sterile, somewhat isolated environment that can be an all too common characteristic of kennels. In fact, this is why many of our pet parent clients enjoy using SLEEPOVER ROVER®: they know their dog will be given the freedom to play in secure areas as well as the extra love and affection that comes from being in an in-home environment. With the unconditional love that our pups offer us, it is only natural that as pet parents we would seek to provide them with the best, most attentive care possible while we have to be away for work or travel.
TAKING PET GROOMING TO ANOTHER LEVEL
Particularly for long-haired breeds or dogs with grooming anxiety, a professional groomer can take the guesswork out of caring for our dogs’ hair and nails and streamline the process of keeping our dogs in tip-top shape. However, some groomers go beyond simply offering a bath and a nail trim and are starting to provide services such as full service pedicures (including a polish job!) and shampoos and conditioners in exotic fragrances. Additionally, pet hair (fur?) care lines now even offer dry shampoos and fur sprays to keep your pup smelling fancy. (As a sidenote, your dog may be sensitive to added fragrances, so please keep in mind this is just for fun and we’re not advocating dousing your pup in scent!)
When you think about keeping your dog fit, what comes to mind? A quick walk around the block, or perhaps on a special summer day a dip in the pool or lake for a quick swim? Particularly in urban areas, dedicated dog gyms are now popping up. These facilities offer large indoor and/or outdoor play spaces and may include a variety of dog-friendly toys and even agility structures. Options vary, but pet parents may be able to book the space for individual playtime or group time with their dog. Alternatively, dog gyms may offer a membership structure much like human fitness facilities, where pet parents pay a monthly fee and can drop-in as they’d like. All in all, for many of us our dogs are part of the family, whether or not we have human children as well. With the unmatched companionship and love that they provide, perhaps it makes sense that the options for spoiling them have expanded as much as they have? Regardless, it certainly is fun to get out there and explore the services and facilities available!
Images courtesy Hi Tricia! and Andrew Magill
Although as pet parents we realize just how well our dogs can communicate, the fact remains that they cannot speak the same way people do. A dog in a warm car can’t just politely request that a passerby let him out, and similarly a pup that shouldn’t stay outside in the sun all day can’t simply trot over to the fence and ask a neighbor for some shade. However, since we are pet parents and animal lovers, we can take the time to recognize situations that are not okay for dogs whether it is a neighbor pup or one that you see while out and about. We can collectively improve the quality of life for dogs by being aware and taking action when appropriate.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
According to the Humane Society, 49 states have included felony provisions in their animal abuse laws, which means that not only is the mistreatment of animals a serious moral crime, but in many areas the legal system also takes it seriously. In fact, the Humane Society also offers several helpful tips for spotting animal abuse, including watching for: persons that keep more pets than they can manage, animals that show an obvious lack of medical care (very thin, wounds that do not heal, and/or patches of hair loss), and inadequate shelter in hot or cold weather. Summer is in full swing and the risks to dogs left in areas without shade and especially left in closed vehicles is very real. Additionally, dogs that are left chained up for long periods of time are left in an exposed, vulnerable state, and dogs left behind to fend for themselves when their families move need to be taken in and cared for as quickly as possible. Domestic pets simply are not equipped to care for themselves; in addition to loneliness and battling the elements, they are exposed to hunger and, depending on your region, possibly predators. All of these issues are highly time sensitive, but in cases of an animal in a locked car or violence toward an animal, doing something immediately is of the essence.
WHAT TO DO
As mentioned above, dogs in direct danger as a result of extreme temperatures (whether hot or cold) and/or violent conditions need help right away. If you witness either scenario (or any scenario in which you feel a dog is in immediate danger), call the authorities right away! Call 911 in the case of a time sensitive emergency; in cases where you suspect mistreatment of a longer duration, you may want to consider calling your local animal welfare agency. Keep track of what you’ve seen and heard and make sure to let authorities know the details. Local rescues, vet offices, local law enforcement, and even the Humane Society can all also be starting points for finding the right people to help. Even in the event that you come across a lost or stray dog in your neighborhood, it’s important to do something. You may not feel safe personally approaching the animal (and that's okay!). But you can always call for help from someone that does. Protecting our dogs is a community effort; the great news is that animals rescued from bad situations can go on to thrive and live a happy, comfortable life with a family that truly cares for them. They just need a little help from us humans to get them into a safe, loving environment as soon as possible.
Images courtesy Taro the Shiba Inu and Jamie McCaffrey
It happens every year: with warmer weather, the water cooler buzz and the newsstands start to fill up with references to swimsuit season and getting fit. For most of us, our New Year’s resolutions lost steam months ago and as we start to pull out the shorts for summer we start to (hopefully!) add some more activities into our days to take advantage of the warm weather and get a little more exercise in. But what if our dogs need the movement just as much as we do? What if we’ve taken our pups with us on our journey to couch potato-dom?
ASSESSING THE SITUATION
Sometimes with our pups, weight gain can creep up and we don’t realize it until the next vet visit. Other times, perhaps we’ve noticed our best friend getting a little thicker around the middle but haven’t had the time or drive to address it. But how can we tell if our dogs need a little more exercise? According to PetMD, getting a handle on whether your pet is at a healthy weight is fairly straightforward: stand above your pet and look down. What do you see? If you see his ribs, he may be too lean. If you can’t see his ribs, place your hands around his chest and see if you can feel them. Still can’t? Your pup may be carrying a little extra. Much like in humans, excess weight can cause health issues and if left unchecked may even decrease longevity. If you are concerned about your pet’s weight and are considering adding in activity or decreasing his dietary intake, as always – check with your vet! He may be more out of shape than you realize, in which case you’ll want to slowly add in activity. Once you are ready to up his movement, keep on reading for some easy suggestions!
GETTING ROVER GOING
When it comes to getting your dog moving, perhaps the simplest way is to bring her with you! If you need to run errands, are any of your errands walkable? Or are they dog-friendly, so that at least if you have to drive you can bring her inside once you arrive? (For some more suggestions on finding ways to bring your dog along, look here and here). Additionally, the more active you are, odds are your dog will become more active as well. Take a look at your daily schedule and see where you can add in some additional movement and activity. For example, during the morning crunch are you more likely to just open the back door for your pup? What if you set your alarm just a few minutes earlier, and took your morning coffee with you in a travel mug so the two of you could do a couple of quick loops in the neighborhood before you head off to work or school? Or if you need to give a friend or family member a call to check-in, what if you brought your pup and made it a walking call? Many of us have certain things that pop up over and over again in our daily routines, and sometimes getting our pups (and ourselves!) moving may be as a simple as a few tweaks to those well-ingrained habits. As a pet parent trying to increase daily activity for our dogs, even ten more minutes of playtime together in the yard or a few more laps around the block can make a significant difference in our dog’s health and well-being over time, not to mention the intangible benefits he will enjoy as a result of getting more quality time with mom and/or dad!
Images courtesy Follow These Instructions and L Church
With the mercury rising and the long, sunny days that are at hand, it can be challenging for our furry friends to stay cool. We can keep them in the shade, limit outdoor time, and make sure they stay hydrated, but we can also whip up some tasty cooling treats for them. Every pup enjoys a good snack, and every pet parent loves to keep their furry best friend happy – cooling them down and providing them with treats, sounds like a win-win!
FROZEN SNACKS, AKA PUPSICLES
A long walk (or even a shorter one in very hot weather) can be depleting and downright exhausting for our dogs. Some dogs enjoy it if you grab them an ice cube after a warm stroll, but some dogs just aren’t that interested in that plain old ice cube… luckily there are options! You can freeze pretty much anything into a treat for your pup, and you can use a variety of shapes. For example, you can blend up water, peanut butter, chunks of bananas, and even some berries and pour that mix into a cupcake pan or the bottom of a bundt pan. Or if your dog is more motivated by meaty treats, try blending up a mix of shredded, plain chicken, plain yogurt, water and peanut butter, and freeze that. When it comes to ingredients, get creative! Think about the meats, fruits, and other ingredients that he or she enjoys and that are acceptable for consumption (for example, skip the raisins and the chocolate as those are not dog-safe ingredients) and blend it up. As mentioned, cupcake pans and bundt pans work well for making frozen treats, and you can also use mini muffin pans, ice cube trays, or even small Tupperware containers to freeze up your dog popsicles (also known as pupsicles!). One word of warning: you may want to keep an eye on where your dog is when you give him his treat! Depending on the ingredients, your pupsicles might get a little messy while getting eaten. A shady spot in the yard or keeping your dog in one area (such as the kitchen) may not be a bad idea. He might get so excited about his new snack that he wants to run off and enjoy it, and that may not end well!
NON-FROZEN SUMMER TREATS
Just as in cooler weather, we can help our dogs to stay healthy and happy by feeding them a nutritionally balanced diet, with appropriate quantities to ensure they remain a healthy weight. When temperatures rise, a dog at a healthy weight and with proper nutrition will fare better than a dog carrying excess weight or not receiving proper nutrition. But how do treats and snacks fit into that picture? When putting together homemade snacks for your dog, whether frozen, raw, or baked, pet parents can give their dogs the advantage of solid nutrition by using whole food, dog-safe ingredients and providing proper quantities. The ASPCA has a handy list of foods to avoid for your dog here: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/foods-are-hazardous-dogs. For example, making frozen treats with plain yogurt, a fruit such as bananas, and a healthy fat such as peanut butter or coconut milk and then providing that treat in reasonable quantities will help your dog cool off and also won’t undermine his overall health. Non-frozen treats are no different! You can bake healthy, wholesome treats such as Tidy Mom’s Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits (http://tidymom.net/2014/homemade-peanut-butter-dog-biscuits/) or the easy Sweet Potato Dog Treats found at Allrecipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/super-simple-sweet-potato-dog-treats/) and provide your pup with healthy fats and other important nutrients. A homemade cookie or biscuit is a great way to add extra nutrients to your pup’s diet while he’s under the stress of hot weather, and it’s also a fun way to make sure you have healthy rewards on hand after a long walk or when he’s done well with a new skill. Or let’s be honest, perhaps just because!
Images courtesy John Wright and Taro the Shiba Inu
Summer is the season for barbeques, long days, and spending time with friends and family, so it is no surprise that it is also the season for travel. According to the U.S Travel Association, only 11% of us opt to travel by plane when it comes to leisure travel; however, given the fact that Americans logged 1.6 billion person trips (a somewhat funny way of saying one person traveling either away from home with paid accommodations for at least a night or on a day or overnight trip at least 50 miles from home), 11% is still significant! Sometimes when traveling to see far flung friends and family or to hit the destination on the top of your travel list, it just makes more sense time-wise, financially, or both to fly. But what do we do when we want to bring our dogs along, too? Realistically, how can you tell whether air travel something that you and your pup can do together? What exactly is involved?
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN AHEAD!
I still remember the first time I had to plan air travel with my dog: we were moving overseas and there simply were not any other options. Although the process seemed overwhelming at first, with proper preparation it ended up being fairly straightforward and he did quite well. As long as your dog is in good health and cleared by your vet to fly, with a little prep work the rest will fall into place. You’ll want to start planning your trip preferably a couple of months out, and if you have a flat-nosed breed (such as a pug) or live in or are flying to a hotter climate, the time of day you fly is going to be highly relevant. If you know the dates of your travel well ahead of time, you may want to start calling airlines to find out exactly when your dog can fly, whether he’ll be considered an in-cabin companion or fly as cargo based on his size, and what documentation they will need from your vet. Most of this info can also be found on an airline’s website, but it cannot hurt to call and double check all information prior to planning your trip. The airline rep may point a regulation or necessary item (such as a health certificate from your vet) that you missed on the website!
WHEN YOU’RE READY TO GO
Once you’ve decided on an itinerary, booked travel for yourself and your dog, and secured a health certificate and any other required information or documentation, you still need to actually get your group checked in and off of the ground, literally! Depending on the length of your flight and the size of your dog, this may mean simply checking in and bringing her as a carry-on or it may mean bringing her to the airline’s cargo hanger (which may be offsite) and prepping her and her kennel for several hours of travel. About 48 hours prior, you may want to do a quick run through and make sure that you have everything you need for the day of; for example, a proper kennel, all of your paperwork, and a set plan for the day of. If you are traveling for a longer period, you may need to freeze water in your pet’s water bowl attachment the night before, and/or portion out food for her trip and bring it with you in a baggy when you check her in (the airline can tape it to the top of the kennel with feeding instructions). Additionally, don’t hesitate to communicate with the airline throughout the process – ask any additional questions that you have when checking her in, and make sure to let flight attendants know you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold (if applicable) so they can let you know your dog is onboard and safe and sound prior to takeoff. Similarly, when you land make sure you know exactly where you need to be to pick her up. It may be the baggage claim or it may be somewhere else. Take comfort in the fact that you have prepared for your trip, taken the steps necessary, and that the airline staff understand that you are just a concerned parent. They are also invested in your pet’s travel going smoothly! And last but not least, remember to enjoy the vacation you and your dog take. After all, that’s why you set up the air travel in the first place, right? Happy travels!
Images courtesy Bukowsky18 and Nora Arden
Last week we talked about taking shorter trips with our dogs, such as quick day trips for hiking and even weekend trips for camping. Here at SLEEPOVER ROVER® we take pride in our ability to provide worry-free, quality dog boarding options for pet parents on the go, but the reality is sometimes you would like to take your pup with you on vacation! Keeping that in mind, let’s talk about summer trips with our best friends. With a little planning and consideration for our four-legged companions, hopping in the car for a summer adventure can be safe and enjoyable for everyone involved!
MAPPING THE JOURNEY
Whether you’ve decided on a destination for your summer road trip or your itinerary is still up in the air, factoring in your dog and his interests and needs will make the trip much more enjoyable for all of you. For example, if you’ve had your heart set on a trip to the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas, do some quick research on dog-friendly restaurants and hotels on the way, as well as off leash dog parks that you’ll be passing. Depending on how far you’re driving and whether you’ll be in larger cities, there should be several options for all of these pit stops. A pup that gets to romp around in an off leash park for a little while will be a much happier (and let’s face it, more interested in naps!) travel companion! Also, check into the policies of the highlights you’d like to hit on your journey and the hotels you’d like to stay at before setting plans or making reservations. Spending a few minutes ahead of time saves the disappointment of realizing your dog can’t come in to the parks and/or attractions that you are planning on visiting on your trip, and getting a good night’s sleep will help you feel energized and refreshed on your journey.
ONCE YOU HAVE A TIMELINE, WORK OUT THE DETAILS
If you’ve been checking in regularly with your vet on your dog’s care, this piece should be fairly straightforward. And even if not, it’s never too late to start! When planning for a road trip, first and foremost you need to make sure your pup is in good health and that you have everything you need for him. For example, if he is a mature dog and your vet has him on supplements or medications, double check that you have enough to last you for your trip and then some. You may also want to discuss activity limitations for your pet based on the climate of where you are going. Heat can have a profound and deadly effect on our dogs – a little forethought can prevent disaster! Even if he has a clean bill of health, remember to never ever leave him in the car in even just warm weather. For the journey, you can ration out and pack up his food and make sure to bring a water bowl and plenty of extra fresh water. Also, when packing the car consider his comfort; how much room will he need? Is there space for him to have his favorite blanket or dog bed for the trip? Have you grabbed a few of his favorite toys and enough doggy bags for the journey? And no matter what, remember you’re bringing him along to have fun and enjoy a vacation together. Even if unforeseen circumstances change the itinerary, the companionship is priceless. With planning, flexibility, and a focus on enjoying your time together you and your pup can hit the road and have a great time together!
Images courtesy Lulu Hoeller and Chris Miller
As the school year comes to a close and the days continue to get longer, most of us start to feel the travel itch. But what do you do if you want to stay closer to home and can only take a day or two away from work and other daily obligations? How can you sneak in some away time without taking on too much travel, and possibly still enjoy some quality time with your favorite dog? The answer can be quite simple: the great outdoors! Summer time can be the perfect time to enjoy the national and state parks that are abundant in every region, whether you are looking for a short afternoon trip or a long weekend.
GO BIG! CAMPING WITH YOUR DOG
Planning for a camping trip with your dog is very similar to planning any sort of road trip in that your primary concerns will be food, water, safety, and overall creature comfort for him. When planning for travel, it can be helpful to portion out his food into separate containers or plastic sandwich bags, that way when mealtime rolls around you don’t have to worry about measuring out food, and you also don’t have to carry extra food in a large bag. When camping, any space that can be saved is a good thing! Depending on your plans, you may want to increase her intake if she’ll be running around a lot. She needs calories to burn calories! You can choose to bring her regular food and water bowls, or you can purchase lightweight outdoor specific dog bowls such as those sold at large retailers such as Amazon or REI. You can also purchase a water bottle/bowl hybrid such as this one (http://www.amazon.com/Handi-Drink-Dog-Water-Bottle-Spill-proof/dp/B000GDXHQ0) for day hikes around the campground, as it is easier to stow in a daypack. When it comes to planning your overall trip, state and national park websites are typically very clear on whether or not dogs are welcome; if they are allowed there may be specific conditions. For example, dogs will likely need to remain on leash and/or may not be allowed in certain areas of the park or on certain trails. If your dog enjoys swimming, make sure to check ahead of time whether he will be allowed at the beach or lake that you’d like to visit. It would be a shame to camp only to find out the beaches are not dog-friendly!
OR KEEP IT SIMPLE – SNEAK AWAY FOR A QUICK HIKE
The very first consideration when planning a hike should be safety and comfort, both his, yours, and that of fellow hikers. Know your dog’s capacity for exercise as well as local rules and regulations. For example, you may want to plan an early morning excursion so that it’s cooler and he is well rested. And when searching out a trail, if a trail is dog-friendly but requires a leash, keep him on a leash! It will keep him safe, will show the respect to fellow hikers and wildlife that is expected, and will keep both you and him out of trouble! Also, keep in mind that leash rules also come with leash criteria. For example, trails may require a six foot length or less leash, and realistically extendable cable leashes are not ideal for hiking around trees and possibly other people. When it comes to safety, whether just going on a day hike or going camping, remember to bring the necessary supplies for both of you: water, flashlights, extra clothes, warm gear for sleeping if you’re in an area where it cools significantly, a first aid kit, and the other elements of the ten essentials that make sense for your trip (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Essentials). Also, even in nature do your trailmates a favor and remember the doggy waste bags. With the proper planning and supplies, you and your furry best friend can get away from it all, enjoy some fresh air, and have a fantastic time!
Images courtesy of Bugeater and Patch Attack
Dog parks are a great outlet for our pups, as they can roam freely, socialize with other dogs, and just generally have the freedom that being off leash affords. However, as the weather continues to improve, the days grow longer, and we (hopefully!) find more time to spend time with our dogs outdoors, it may be helpful to stop and reevaluate dog park etiquette. With a little planning and consideration, off leash dog parks can be a cleaner, safer, and more enjoyable place for all of us to enjoy with our dogs!
FIRST THINGS FIRST – HEALTH AND HYGIENE!
When we welcome a new puppy into our homes, one of the first things we do is start planning all of the amazing things we can do together with our new family member. Walks! Playtime in the yard! And of course, going to play at the dog park and getting to meet other per parents! However, it is imperative that your dog has had her shots prior to being exposed to other dogs and to areas where high concentrations of animals spend time. Check with your vet on when he or she believes your dog will be ready for dog parks; work together to figure out the best timeline to ensure your dog has had the shots she needs and also make sure she’s just generally ready to be around so many other dogs. You will also likely want to get her going on flea and tick preventative. And even if you take her to the dog park at an off time and it’s not too busy, remember: there are still particles in the soil as a result of dog waste. Make sure she has her shots! That also leads us to the next big hygiene consideration – when you go to the dog park, make sure you pick up any pet waste right away. There are usually bag stands, but it is always a good idea to bring extras just in case. You don’t want to have to leave the park to go find a bag, you want to be able to clean up right away!
SOCIAL CUES AND SUPERVISION
Just like people, some dogs are very social and outgoing, while others prefer to do their own thing. If your dog or another dog doesn’t engage with other dogs, as long as they are mellow and happy it isn’t anything to worry about. In contrast, if your dog is very aggressive in trying to get other dogs to play, it may be prudent to keep an eye on him and engage him in alternative activities when needed. Don’t bring treats or toys into the park as that may cause problems, but feel free to play with your dog as a distraction if he is too focused on another pup. Similarly, always be paying attention to your pup so that you can intervene if play gets too rough. Don’t talk on your phone or run to the car to grab something; always be aware of where your dog is and what is going on in the park overall. Pay attention to the health and behavior of other dogs, and feel free to leave with your dog if he isn’t enjoying the park, gets too rowdy, or the mood of the park just doesn’t feel right. Trust your instincts! The same goes for feedback from other pet parents: take it with a grain of salt. Another pet parent may have valuable feedback for you, but don’t let unsolicited advice ruin your time at the park. A visit to the dog park can be a safe, fun outing for you and your dog, and remember that if you are working with your vet and consistently working on maintaining your dog’s training and social skills, you two will be good to go. Have a great playtime!
Images courtesy Don DeBold and Natalie Maynor
This past weekend was Memorial Day, and aside from its main purpose as a means to recognize our servicemembers who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, for many the holiday also stands as a benchmark of sorts. That is, for many Memorial is the unofficial start of summer. Summertime means barbeques, sunny days in the park, and trips to the local pool, lake, or beach; all of those activities also entail increased sun exposure. Although our dogs have a fur coat, that coat does not provide sufficient protection from the sun’s rays and may even exacerbate the effects of heat on a warm day. Just as we should take the time to apply sunscreen, wear hats, and take other steps to protect ourselves from the effects of the sun, so should we keep an eye on the wellbeing of our pups on those long summer days!
As the temperature rises, our instinct may be to help our dogs out by thinning out their coat and thus hopefully increasing their comfort on hot days. However, shaving a long-haired dog’s coat may actually increase their skin exposure to the sun’s rays and thus increase their chances of sustaining a sunburn while outside. As an alternative, make sure to keep your dog clean and well-groomed, as brushing out their coat (especially their undercoat) thoroughly will thin their fur somewhat while still offering the skin protection that they need. In addition, if your dog is already a short-haired breed or for some reason has a thinning coat, make sure to limit his sun exposure to prevent sunburn. For any breed, especially on very hot days, keep an eye on how long your dog is outside in the sun. If he or she is panting, it has likely been too long! Bring your pup inside or into the shade for a break and ensure there is constant access to fresh, clean water.
So as mentioned above, the first step to preventing sunburns and possible heat injuries is to only allow your pup minimal exposure and make sure to move her out of the sun and heat once she starts to show signs of overheating, such as panting. For a beach-bound pup, additional prevention in the form of dog-safe sunscreen or sun protective clothing may provide further protection. But what can we do once sun or heat exposure has gone too far? If your dog has simply sustained a minor sunburn, a cool bath may be soothing for him. Just make sure to avoid vigorous lathering or other more abrasive techniques to keep him as comfortable as possible. It is important to note, though, that if you observe any signs of possible heat injury or more severe sunburn, it is imperative that you reach out to your trusted vet or if necessary, a pet urgent care facility. According to WebMD, these include: heavy panting, thick saliva, vomiting, diarrhea, an eventual grey-like color to gums and tongue, and a spike in rectal temperature. It is always better to be safe than sorry – if you have any concerns about sun damage, dehydration, or heat exhaustion in your pet, reach out to your vet to be sure! With proper planning and monitoring you and your dog can enjoy those gorgeous summer days, just keep a sharp eye, protect yourselves from the sun and heat, and don’t forget to have plenty of time together in the shade with a cool drink of water!
Images courtesy Pat Murray and Joe Sullivan
Figures vary slightly, but it is estimated that between about one third and one half of dogs will suffer from cancer in their lifetime, with the illness being more prominent in older dogs. With so many of our pets developing cancer every year, pet cancer truly is an important concern for pet parents. In order to raise awareness, the American Kennel Club has earmarked May as Pet Cancer Awareness Month, complete with information campaigns to help pet parents learn more about cancer prevention, screening, and treatment. In fact, the stated goal of the campaign is “to provide dog owners with information about ongoing research studies that are working to find better treatments for our dogs” (http://www.akcchf.org/canine-health/your-dogs-health/canine-cancer/).
WHY IS IT SO COMMON?
With figures at between 33% and 50%, one may wonder why cancer has become so common an ailment for our dogs. The answer to that may be fairly simple: as diet, nutrition, exercise, health care, and just overall quality of life improve for our dogs, so does their longevity. In short, dogs are living longer and this may in turn increase their odds of developing cancer as they age. According to WebMD, with the uptick in vaccinations and the primarily interior lifestyle of our dogs, they are not so prone to common illnesses or accidents (http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dogs-and-cancer-get-the-facts).
WHAT CAN WE DO?
As treatment options continue to improve (due in large part to advances in technology and continued ongoing research), the survival rate for our dogs will hopefully continue to rise as well. Although cancer most certainly cannot be completely prevented at this time, we can take some small steps to improve the overall health of our dogs. For example, maintaining good oral care and keeping a regular checkup schedule with your veterinarian can help to both keep your dog in good health and catch any issues as soon as possible. With a quality, ongoing relationship with your vet, ideally he or she will be able to catch any changes or concerns with your dog’s health. Just as in humans, early detection and treatment can make a significant difference.
In addition to prevention and awareness as an individual pet parent, perhaps you can also consider looking into local Pet Cancer Awareness Month events and activities in your area, such as fundraising walks and awareness campaigns. Or there are also internet-based options such as making a simple donation to the pet cancer charity of your choice. You may also be able to volunteer your time with either a local or national organization. Whichever option suits you, awareness is the first step to helping keep our pups healthy! As always, work closely with your vet to manage your pet’s healthcare and get plenty of quality time in so he or she is not just healthy, but also feels happy and loved!
Images courtesy Tony Alter and Eunice
Recent legislation in California made it clear that although an accepted practice in several establishments, dining with our dogs may actually be against the law in certain areas. More specifically, the California Assembly passed a bill that allows restaurants to have dogs in their outdoor seating areas as long as local ordinances do not prohibit the practice. Basically restaurants are given the choice to allow patrons to bring their dogs to eat as long as the restaurant can meet basic criteria, such as open sidewalk areas, clean dining areas, and a commitment to ensure that patron’s dogs are either on-leash or in an adequate pet carrier. Until now, the restaurants and eateries that have been dog-friendly have technically been in violation of the California Retail Food Code; although many consider the Code’s policies on this topic outdated, restaurants were opening themselves up to potential fines nonetheless. Given this shift in legislation further opening the door to dog-friendly dining, perhaps this would be a good time to cover some etiquette basics on dining with our dogs!
PLAN AHEAD, CALL AHEAD
There are a few basic criteria that increase your odds of being able to bring your dog along to eat, and a little planning can help you find the right place that meets those conditions. If you can find a place to eat that has outdoor seating on the sidewalk, you’ll likely have better odds of it being okay to sit there with your dog. Further, if your café or restaurant of choice does not use waiters, but rather you order and then bring your food outside, that may also help your chances. However, the main thing to keep in mind is quite simple: just call and ask. Avoid an awkward situation and simply ask first. When you call, just check on whether your dog can join you outside, at a table, and not inside the establishment. That way you’ll save both yourself and the restaurant the inconvenience and embarrassment of having to ask you and your pup to leave.
SO YOU’VE GOT THE GREEN LIGHT…
This is where common sense dog etiquette kicks in. You want to enjoy your meal, as do other patrons. So if you’ve got the go ahead to bring your dog out to eat, just make sure before you go that both you and he are ready for this. Is he properly socialized? Can he lie nicely while you enjoy your meal, without having to hop up and say hi to everyone that walks by? Is he okay around children and loud noises? Also, remember to tie him to your chair, not the table, just in case he does pop up for a surprise hello, and keep him out of walkways and other diners’ space. You may consider bringing along a small water bowl for him and even a few treats so that he can stay busy and hydrated while you dine. Overall, when it comes to dining out with your dog, the old adage practice makes perfect definitely holds true – the more excursions the two of you go on, the more you’ll both adjust to the demands! So perhaps start small, maybe go out for a quick cup of coffee to start, and then work your way up to a full meal. And no matter what, remember your dog feeds off of your energy and mood, so plan ahead, stay calm, and enjoy your time together!
Images courtesy Jespah Joy and Lulu Hoeller
In recent news, hockey player Carey Price was able to use Twitter to locate his two lost dogs. The Montreal Canadiens goalie took to Twitter after his two Labs got out, and as a reward the good Samaritan that returned the dogs was given an autographed hockey stick. The situation highlights the helpful nature that reaching a wide audience in a fraction of time can have, and also left us wondering about other positive uses for social media in the world of dogs. That is, how else are pet parents and other animal lovers using social media to their advantage?
REUNITING PET PARENTS AND LOST DOGS
Apparently Carey Price is not the first to use social media to reunite with lost pups, and it appears he will not be the last. Individual pet parents as well as animal welfare groups routinely use Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram to post images of lost as well as found dogs. For example, it may have taken four months, but the Charleston Animal Society (CAS) out of Charleston, South Carolina, was able to help bring Phoenix and her pet parents back together. A pup named Gracie was brought in to the CAS in poor shape, and after nursing her back to health CAS posted images of her on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Friends of Phoenix’ parents recognized Gracie as the missing Phoenix and within a short time the family was reunited. It should be noted that in addition to using social media to help reach out to a larger demographic, the group also makes sure to microchip every pup that passes through their programs to help prevent future problems; if a dog is brought in as lost and has a microchip, it can be much easier to locate the family.
Social media uses the power of the masses to get the images of missing and found dogs out into the public arena, and can also help pet parents solve other dilemmas. For example, dog foster parent Stephanie Fox gained some notoriety after she had a wheelchair specially built for her dog Roosevelt, who was born with deformed front legs. Later on, when she herself was experiencing medical issues, one of Roosevelt’s fans was the one that helped her identify a potentially lethal medication sensitivity. Although the more common, larger social media platforms are useful for casting an information net, pet owners can also utilize social media networks set up exclusively for them, such as Dogster.com and Lovemypets.com. Overall, it takes a village to do many things, including be a pet parent, and social media can help pet parents and other dog advocates reach many people in very little time, thus potentially rapidly accelerating the proliferation of information. The next time you have a dog-related dilemma, consider utilizing your network to find a solution!
Images courtesy Monica Kaneko and the author
For many dog lovers, having at least one pup as part of the family is non-negotiable; our family dogs serve as our companions, our children, and sometimes even our siblings. We try and take them everywhere we can and make sure to get that quality bonding time in, whether it be a trip to the park or simply a game of catch in the yard. But what happens when life gets in the way? What happens when say we lose our best friend, or a new job, a new baby, or a big move hinder our ability to add a dog or dogs to our household? How can dog lovers get that quality time when they don’t necessarily have a dog of their own at home?
MAKE IT YOUR PROFESSION (AT LEAST PART TIME!)
There are a couple of great options to increase our exposure to dogs while at the same time not taking on full-on pet parenting. There may be a variety of reasons why we cannot have a pet in our home, and fortunately there are a few different alternatives to work with dogs and thus build an option that suits our lifestyle. If for example you cannot have a dog because of a family member with allergies, perhaps dog walking would be a good fit. There are professional services that contract out dog walking jobs and there is also the more DIY approach of posting to neighborhood bulletin boards or even to online sites such as Craigslist to let pet parents know you are available. As a dog walker, you’ll provide an important service dogs truly need while also getting exercise and enjoying time with a pup.
If it is simply a matter of not finding enough time in your days and weeks or that you aren’t quite ready to adopt again after the loss of a beloved pet, then hosting may be a great fit. At SLEEPOVER ROVER®, many of our hosts are previous pet parents that are currently without a dog of their own. They find that hosting allows them to spend time with and get to know several different types and temperaments of dogs, which can be great for learning about different breeds as well as just for the unique pleasure of having a variety of companionship. Some hosts have several regulars and may even provide doggy day care, and as such it is more like a niece or nephew coming to stay; other hosts take on longer term jobs less often, meaning that they have more variety in the dogs that come to stay with them. Whether you are considering future adoption or just are not in a place where you’d like to be a full time pet parent, taking on dog boarding house guests can be a great way to enjoy some quality pup time!
USE A SERVICE?
A new startup in Europe called BorrowMyDoggy offers another, more unique option for getting some quality one-on-one dog time. And by unique, we mean just that – the service links pet owners with dog lovers and effectively loans the dogs to the non-pet parents for specified blocks of time. The company serves the United Kingdom and Ireland, and unlike dog walking or pet hosting, the party taking on the dog pays a fee. So for example if a non-pet owner wanted to have a day at the park with a pup, he or she would pay BorrowMyDoggy a fee to rent a dog from a dog owner. It really is a unique concept, and illustrates the fact that there are many dog lovers out there that for health, time, or even financial reasons simply cannot be pet parents. As pet parents, we all know how much our dogs brighten our day and make our lives more full; even when we cannot parent full-time, there are options available to make sure we get that quality canine time in and have the opportunity to provide human companionship and entertainment for a lucky dog or dogs.
Images courtesy the author
Now that spring is in full swing, many of us are enjoying warmer days and quite a bit more sunshine. Although this may mean more outside playtime and longer days to enjoy with our pups, it also means that as pet parents we need to be more diligent about protecting our dogs from potential heat injuries. Even in temperate springtime conditions, our dogs are at increased risk of exposure, dehydration, and other warm weather concerns. However, with a little preparation and awareness, we can enjoy the longer days of spring and the sunny summer days to come alongside our pups without issue!
HEATSTROKE – A PRIMARY RISK
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, even a 70° day can pose a risk to your dog, particularly if he or she is playing hard in the sun or (even worse!!) is in a vehicle without proper ventilation. And make no mistake – by “proper ventilation” we mean the car is on and moving with either the windows down or the air conditioning on. Even in the shade, cracking the windows is NOT sufficient. Our dogs are perpetually dressed in fur and a sitting vehicle, even in the shade, can increase in temperature exponentially and quickly. There is never a good reason to leave your pup in the car, especially when there are so many options to help make your day more dog friendly. For example, you can visit stores and restaurants where your dog is welcomed inside, too, or if you have to you can leave your dog at home rather than planning to leave him in the car. It’s never worth it. Heatstroke and dehydration sneak up quickly and the effects can be irreversible, even if you do catch issues before they are lethal. If you’re outside for playtime or a walk or hike, make sure your pup is hydrated and taking breaks to cool off. And if you’re driving in a vehicle, consider running the air or keeping the windows open a little more than you may feel is necessary. Your canine best friend is likely going to have more layers on than you!
POISONS AND PESTS
Depending on where you are at, the growing season is likely in full swing. In addition to beautiful flowers, trees with increasing foliage, and plenty of green grass, this may also mean more use of fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals. Your pet may come across these hazards in your yard or garage or even while out for walks. Similar to heat concerns, the key to prevention of injury to your pet is awareness. Know where she is at all times, and practice diligence in keeping chemicals out of reach. Even seemingly harmless summer backyard staples like citronella candles may pose a risk to your pet, so when in doubt do a little research; better yet, just keep unusual items only within human reach. Better safe than sorry!
Images courtesy the author
We’ve previously discussed taking our dogs along to run errands, out to eat, and even to shop with us in addition to the more standard destinations like the beach and park. But there is so much more to our day and to our lifestyles! For those pet parents with human children, too, there are sports practices and sporting events, and for pet-exclusive pet parents, there are other recreational activities, such as personal sports activities and even more mundane things like getting chores done around the house and taking care of vehicle maintenance and the like. Once we take into account being able to bring our pups along for activities such as these, it seems as though the list of places our dogs CAN’T go may actually even be shorter!
ENJOYING THE SPORTS
Many of us take part in regular sports and recreation activities, whether as an individual or in a secondary role, such as accompanying a significant other or child to practice. Aside from work and school, these activities may take up a significant chunk of your free time! For the Rat City Rollergirls based in Seattle, Washington, many skaters and coaches spend at least two nights and one weekend day at their practice and competition facilities. Many of them are also pet parents and full time employees and/or students, so making sure their recreational activity of choice is dog friendly is a way for them to ensure they can get their favorite activity in as well as their quality time with their dog. The league allows dogs in all areas of their practice facility, and it’s not uncommon to see several dogs at league meetings and events. In fact, non-skating league members expect to visit with and maybe even help out with at least one pup at scrimmage night while their mom or dad is busy! Overall, the situation is a win-win – skaters are motivated to ensure their dogs are well-trained and used to being in different situations so they can bring them along, and the practice facility environment further allows dogs of the league members exposure to new people and sounds and gives them the chance to get lots of welcome attention.
AND ALL OF THE OTHER THINGS, TOO
Often the problem with fitting quality time in with our pups alongside our daily obligations comes down to simply getting too busy and forgetting that with a little adjusting, we can include them in many of our more mundane, required activities. When we need to take a child to ballet or take the car in for an oil change, it may be reflexive to assume that our dog or dogs cannot come along because of the nature of the facility. But that simply is not true! For example, if you have to head out to the local dealership and they have a no dogs lobby policy, it may be as simple as leaving your cell number with the receptionist and then you’ll be free to go for a walk or go enjoy some playtime with your pup in the nearby area. You may even be able to find a great park within walking distance! And in the case of a sports or music lesson – same idea. If you and your pup can’t stay inside, check in and go get some fresh air within the time period you’d typically just be waiting. The benefits of finding these extra pockets of time may not be limited to more exercise and interaction for you and your dog; in fact, a 2006 study indicated that dog owners are actually happier people and tend to laugh more than non-dog owners. Health and wellness are important building blocks for overall quality of life, and “frequent spontaneous laughter” sounds quite appealing in the face of all of life’s responsibilities and challenges! So perhaps you can take another look at your calendar, and find even more time to fit in the companionship and togetherness that drove you to having a dog in the first place! Get out there and explore, and most importantly have a great time together.
Images courtesy David Jaewon Oh (www.upsetspecialistphoto.com) and Astrid Suchy-Dicey
At all ages, just as in humans, the ideal for our dogs is to eat a balanced, whole foods based diet that in turn provides the nutrients needed for a healthy, active lifestyle. There are countless varieties of dog food on the market, including blends especially for different sizes and ages of breeds; in fact, there are even special varieties for dogs with food sensitivities or other unique needs (such as joint problems or grain sensitivity). Some pet parents even opt to go with an actual whole foods diet, prepping fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats for their dogs, or alternatively going with a “raw” diet – one that consists of mostly raw meats. With all of these options available, is there really a need for supplements for our pups? As a disclaimer, this is not being written by a vet, but rather by a pet parent curious about supplement options. So of course, when it comes to options specific to your dog, check with your vet first!
DO DOGS EVEN NEED SUPPLEMENTS?
The consensus seems to be that with well-made commercially prepared foods, the delicate balance of nutrients has been tested and tested again prior to mass production, so if you are feeding your dog a quality food appropriate to his age, size, and medical history, you should be okay without any supplementation. However, if you are feeding your dog a homemade diet you may want to check in with your vet and see if there are any nutrients that aren’t being included in what your dog eats on a daily basis. Additionally, regardless of whether your dog’s food is store bought or homemade, there may be negative consequences if your dog is getting too much of a vitamin or mineral as a result of additional supplementation, and some supplements designed for humans are not recommended for dogs in any quantity.
COMMON TYPES OF SUPPLEMENTS
For aging dogs or larger breeds that may have joint problems at a younger age, glucosamine-chondroitin is a commonly recommended supplement. According to WebMD, glucosamine-chondroitin has been shown to possibly help alleviate the pain and reduced mobility associated with osteoarthritis in dogs, and your vet may recommend it for your dog. Another common category of supplements recommended for dogs are fatty acids or fish oil, usually used to reduce inflammation and/or increase coat shine. Again, it is specific to each dog, and given the expensive nature of many supplements, you’ll definitely want to check with your vet and see if such supplementation is recommended for your dog. Antioxidant supplements may also be recommended for dogs to decrease inflammation, but again – follow the golden rule of pet parenting, check with your vet! You may save yourself some money avoiding unnecessary supplements, and at the more extreme end of the spectrum, you may save your dog unnecessary negative health consequences from administering supplements that she doesn’t need or that aren’t safe for her!
Images courtesy and Yesudeep Mangalapilly and Ken Lo
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