Puppy Care 101, Part 2: Ages 8-12 Weeks

Welcome to part 2 of our 2-part puppy care series! This is the age where your puppies are really growing up from babies to toddlers.

A pup is able to leave its mother and their littermates when he or she is about eight weeks old. We’re positive they will be excited and nervous when he or she first comes to their new home. We’re certain you have been waiting just as eagerly to welcome them into your home and want to help them adjust as soon as possible!

You will need to have the necessary food, bed, water and food dishes, collar, ID tag, and leash purchased in advance. Organize your home, too, and make sure it is a safe and loving environment.

You will see many changes taking place in your little friend over the next few weeks and you should prepare yourself for the kind of behavior they are most likely to exhibit while settling in with the new family. You should also know how to train your new puppy accordingly as they grow and learn so that he or she develops good behaviour. 

Expect These Normal Characteristics of Young Puppies

  • Your pup will be only a fraction of their adult size at eight weeks, and will usually grow rapidly for the first six months.
  • He or she will sleep or need sleep about 18 to 19 hours a day.
  • He or she will have all their baby teeth and develop their first adult teeth at this stage, which explains why they love to chew on everything in plain sight—they will be teething! Supply lots of chew toys.
  • Your puppy will be adjusting to being separated from their mother and littermates for a few days, and they may exhibit concerns in a few ways. He or she may pace and pant much more than normal, or vomit, develop diarrhea, or relieve themselves inside the house. Assume he or she will have a few mishaps, stay calm, and don’t scold or shout at them.
  • Take your puppy outside frequently to the same spot each time and praise them when he or she relieves properly. Try to establish a regular routine, such as before breakfast, after breakfast, at noon, mid-afternoon, etc., so that they will learn how long they need to control themselves. Most puppies at eight weeks old can hold their urine for about three hours. He or she will be able to wait longer as they get older.
  • Between 8 to 12 weeks, he will be alarmed easily by loud noises, unexpected events, and new people and animals, but he will grow out of this stage more quickly if you remain calm and speak to him reassuringly.
  • He or she may need to eat three times a day when they’re a small pup, but you can cut back to twice a day when they reach about 16 weeks old.

How to Puppy-Proof Their New Home

You can puppy-proof a home in the same way you would baby-proof it. Puppies, like little children, are curious and love to move around fast. Make sure your puppy will be protected from encounters with dangerous objects that are perfectly safe for older children and adults.

Take a tour through the premises and try to think like a puppy or a child—what will interest and attract them the most? Before your puppy arrives, remove any small, sharp, poisonous, and dangerous objects they may find intriguing.

  • Remember that dogs have a great sense of smell that helps them discover new and interesting items. You must put temptation out of reach, up high, behind latched doors, and into bins that can’t be knocked over. You may need childproof latches for low cupboards, especially if you keep toxic substances like cleaning products in them, or if you don’t want the contents strewn all over the floor.
  • Puppies like to chew and may decide to munch on exposed electrical cords. Put these out of their reach! Also, tie up cords from curtains and window blinds as pets can get tangled in them.
  • Small objects can cause a puppy to choke. Coins, jewelry, sewing equipment, yarn, dental floss, paper clips, fishing line and hooks, and small toys should all be hidden from their sight and kept off of the floor.
  • Use screens to shield your pet from fireplaces, heaters, and wood stoves, and remove toxic plants and decorations.
  • Take a tour through your yard as well, and look for dangerous objects, such as sharp nails, small pebbles, or any areas that you must restrict your pup from entering. Make sure paint, fertilizers, tools, and all toxic materials are safely stored away.

Protect Your Puppy’s Health

Any puppy that reaches 8 weeks of age should be checked up on by a veterinarian and given their first vaccinations. If your puppy was not checked over before you brought them home, make an appointment right away. Your new little friend will be given the necessary vaccinations and a nose-to-toes checkup. You will have an opportunity to ask any questions you have about their care, food, and training, and you can set them up with a regular vaccination schedule.

Your dog vet will be your lifesaver during this stage in their lives! They can guide you on the vaccinations your puppy will need and when it needs them. They will be immunized by its mother’s milk in the first few weeks, but this protection gradually disappears between 6 to 20 weeks of age.

Essential puppy shots are:

  • 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and repeated at 16 weeks – distemper, canine hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus.
  • 12 weeks – Bordetella or kennel cough and leptospirosis.
  • 16 weeks – rabies, Lyme disease, and boosters for Bordetella and leptospirosis.

The need for other vaccinations will depend on your puppy’s risk factors, their new lifestyle, their breed, where you live, etc.

Puppies must also be protected against flea bites and it’s recommended they be de-wormed with each puppy booster, with regular checkups afterwards. Plan on taking your puppy to your vet for a checkup each year, at which time they can receive their annual vaccinations (again, what they will need will depend on their new lifestyle), nipping any problems in the bud.

Start Puppy’s Training Right Away

Establishing boundaries for your puppy should be full of positive experiences. Be careful not to be angry, impatient, or fearful while training or letting your puppy see you are upset with them or with anything that happens. Do your best to establish a routine, including playtime.

If you have the time and money, consider enrolling them in formal obedience training. Otherwise, you should teach them to obey simple commands such as sit, stay, come when their name is called, refraining from jumping on people, not biting people, and learning the meaning of “no”. It’s okay to give them a treat when he or she does what you ask!

When dealing with chewing problems at this stage, remember they are teething and needs something to safely chew on. Don’t remove whatever they have chosen unless you have something in your hand to make the switch to something more acceptable. Also, don’t give your puppy an old shoe to chew on or he or she will think any shoe is fine—including your most expensive footwear.

Make sure he or she sleeps in the place you have chosen so they don’t think there are options. Be consistent. Sleeping with a blanket that has been rubbed against their mother for the first few nights would be a great way to comfort them.

Most puppies have light coats that don’t shed; however, it’s a good idea to groom them regularly and to keep an eye out for any skin problems. Carefully brush their coat at regular intervals and inspect their feet, nails, mouth, and ears so they get used to being touched at an age when they’ll enjoy the attention.

Introduce your puppy slowly to visitors, other animals, and noises. Keep visitors to a minimum and carefully supervise their time spent with other animals so that the new social experiences are happy ones.

Let your puppy play in and out of their travelling crate so that trips to the vet are positive experiences too. Leave the door open, put a treat inside, and let them come and go until he or she is used to it and doesn’t fear it or mind being inside.

Congratulations on becoming a new puppy parent! Be sure to combine their health and safety care with providing lots of love and attention.

Did you miss out on part 1? Check out Puppy Care 101, Part 1: The First 0-8 Weeks.

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10 Burnaby Dog-Friendly Parks to Visit on Father’s Day

“Dog is man’s best friend,” so the saying goes. We don’t think there’s any saying truer than that on Father’s Day! This year, we’d like to help dad get the most out of his four-legged best friend’s company. Staying at home is one option if the weather is less than ideal, and there are some great activities to do with your pooch if so. But if the weather is beautiful, don’t stay cooped indoors! This year we’d like to help dad get out of the house by sharing with you some dog-friendly parks and off-leash areas around Burnaby we think dad and his “best friend” will both enjoy!

1: Confederation Park’s Off-Leash Trail

Fresh air will do both dad and his dog good no matter what age they are! If you haven’t been to the Confederation Park’s off-leash trail located across from Penzance Drive, perhaps make Father’s Day the occasion! This trail is known as one of the best off-leash parks in the midtown Burnaby area. Dad and his best friend can navigate their outdoors adventure along this trail while being surrounded by BC’s natural beauty. Run, walk, jog, hike, or even dance (if you want to!) along the 1.14km trail.

2: Burnaby Heights Park (the Off-Leash Enclosure)

The off-leash enclosure at Burnaby Heights Park includes a water fountain just for dad’s dog (if the sun is out and it’s hot, anyway!). There are also enough benches and space in the park for everyone who wants to visit, with or without their pooch. Remember to bring sunscreen however as there is not as much shade from the sun as there is in other parks. On the plus side, the view of the North Shore Mountains from this area is a spectacular sight to behold!

3: Robert Burnaby Park

Robert Burnaby Park is located within East Burnaby and features a lot of cool things to do, including an open off-leash area and shared trail for dad’s favourite pooch! You could play a game of catch or get the family involved in a game of baseball at the baseball diamond. There is also an outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, playground, and picnic area. This is a must-visit if you want to share Father’s Day with both your dad and his best friend, especially if they’re nature lovers. Why not create a picnic basket or fill up a cooler of snacks and drinks and bring it along with you? (Don’t forget to bring Fido his dog-friendly variety!)

4:  Barnet Marine Park

Whatever time of day you visit Barnet Marine Park, you’ll see some spectacular views! The large sandy beach is a popular spot to swim in in the summertime and Burrard Inlet’s nearby sounds and smells will be a welcome escape on this special holiday. The foreshore leg part of Drummond’s Walk passes through the off-leash area where Dad can play a game of catch with his favourite four-legged buddy. Drummond’s Walk itself is a great trail to walk along in and of itself, too!

5: David Gray Park

If you’re concerned about your dad’s pup wandering away from a non-fenced off-leash area, or if his pup needs work on his recall, try going to David Gray Park. Your pup can wander around leash-free for a while, and if they get thirsty (something bound to happen if it’s hot out), there is a nearby water fountain they can drink from.

6:  Burnaby Mountain Park

Known for having one of the most gorgeous views in the Burnaby area, Burnaby’s Mountain Park has many amenities aside from the fantastic views of Metrotown, downtown Vancouver, the ocean, and the North Shore mountains, including—you guessed it—a dog-friendly trail. Dad can check out the totem poles with his best friend as well as keep his kids or grandkids entertained at the playground. Just be prepared for a drive and to bring your sweater as the park is indeed in the middle of the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area and the elevation makes the air quite cool—but the trip here is so worth it for the view!

7: Taylor Park

Taylor Park is not just fun for dad and his dog, it’s a fun place to visit for the whole family! In addition to the off-leash park, there is a basketball court, a ball hockey court, a disc swing, a bike park, a casual sports field, a picnic area, and some really cool mosaic artwork done by local high school art classes. The off-leash area can be accessed via the pedestrian trail connecting from Southpoint Drive, or dad can take his pooch along for a leashed walk along the trail before letting them loose in the enclosed area. A drinking fountain is also available here for dad’s favourite pooch.

8: Malvern Park

If all the other dog parks are too crowded, or if dad’s dog is smaller and laid-back rather than large and energetic, check out Malvern Park’s off-leash area. There is a grassy field right beside the main parking lot, which makes it convenient for quickly parking and then getting dad’s pooch out to play right away! The short trail loops around and emerges back near the entrance, about 1/3 of a kilometre long, and a water fountain is available after you’ve completed the loop so dad’s pup can have a drink! If dad is a fan of geocaching, there is definitely one hidden within the park. Bring a GPS and see if you can find the latest surprise!

9: Burnaby Lake Regional Park

This is a great area for the whole family to relax in, including dad’s best friend! Although most of the area requires your dog to be on a leash, there is an off-leash, fenced off park near the northern entrance of Piper Spit (the nature house). There are many birds and wildlife living in this area as well as a sense of calm and peace while navigating the trails. This would be a great place for dad and his best friend if a calm Father’s Day is what they’re both looking for, especially if they’re avid bird watchers or nature fans.

10: Deer Lake Park

There’s all sorts of activities for dad and his best friend to do here! Dad can bring his dog along the off-leash trail here in the heart of the Burnaby area close to Metrotown. Dad can also rent a boat for a day, go out in a canoe, go for a morning jog or bike ride, go out for a picnic, or even try out kayaking for the first time in this area. If there’s any day or place to start learning how to paddle a kayak, Father’s Day and Deer Lake Park would be it.

Whatever you decide to do on this holiday, we hope you, dad, and his four-legged best friend have a wonderful and relaxing Father’s Day! Have fun!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Puppy Care 101, Part 1: The First 0-8 Weeks

Congratulations on your new babies! Fur babies, that is. If your family dog is now the mother of a litter, you as a new puppy owner have some parental duties as well to ensure each bundle of love gets the puppy care they need (as well as some cuddles!).

An Important Note

Before you read any further, please understand that we are not encouraging anyone to home breed dogs! If you do not wish to have puppies or you don’t have the financial security or space to raise multiple dogs, spaying or neutering your current dog is the first best step you can take. We understand that in some cases there are “Whoops” moments, however, or perhaps you’ve decided to adopt from a shelter such as VOKRA or the SPCA for foster care, and if that is the case then this article may be of use to you.

If this is your very first puppy and you want to be an awesome pup parent, this post is for you as well!

Week 0-2: We Have Puppies!

When they are first born, puppies are blind, deaf, and toothless, meaning they will be especially dependent on their mama for everything from eating and sleeping to staying warm. Their first impression of their environment should be warm, loving, and safe.

We know the puppies look very cute after they are born, but did you know it’s actually a bad idea to touch the puppies constantly during the first week? The less human contact is made, the better. This is the time for mama dog to do her part as a mother by letting the puppies eat, sleep, and cuddle her; cuddling is especially important as it will regulate the puppies’ temperature for them, preventing them from getting too warm or cold. The puppies’ weight should double over time during the first week, and they will spend the majority of their day sleeping or feeding off of their mother’s milk. The milk contains the nutrients needed to help boost their immune systems.

Fair warning, their sleeping area is bound to get messy! Mama will be licking them to both keep the puppies clean as well as stimulate them so they know to urinate and defecate. You will need to clean up after everyone in the area regularly.

Week 2-3: Peek-a-boo, We See You!

Week 2 is when you get to see the puppies’ eyes and ears open at last! Their ears will usually open after 2 weeks have passed since birth, and their eyelids usually open between 10 to 16 days after birth. This is the period of time when they are finally realizing there is a bigger world beyond their mother’s care, and they’ll be finding their vocal chords by yelping, whining, and barking. Their senses will have improved, and they’ll be able to tell light from darkness. Do not force your puppies’ eyes open during this week! This could lead to permanent blindness as well as make them more vulnerable to infections.

Around week 3—only if Mama is okay with this—you as the owner can start picking up the puppies several times a day. Always be gentle and don’t take them out of Mama’s sight! They should be much heavier than they first were at birth, but their legs and bones are still developing. Be extra gentle when picking them up and putting them down!

Please note that if mom has not been dewormed during her pregnancy, then she and the puppies can start their deworming protocol after 2 weeks as parasites can be transferred from mom to her pups.

Week 3-4: It’s Time to Play

Weeks 3 to 4 are when the puppies find their sense of momentum and mobility. If there are sudden sounds or loud noises, they will respond accordingly with startled barking, yelping, and whining.

Food-wise, while the puppies may not be ready to eat regular puppy food during week 3, you can start weaning them off of Mama by giving them soft, wet food (ask your veterinarian for the right kind!). It may be a good idea to combine the food your dog vet recommends for the puppies with Mama’s milk to form a gruel. Your vet may recommend bottle feeding depending on how well the puppies take to their new food (never hesitate to ask if you’re not sure!). By the end of week 3, the puppies will be crawling, and you’ll even see lots of tail wagging.

During the fourth week, the puppies will be much more active; they’ll be standing on all four legs, running, walking, and even pouncing. Mama will be able to teach them to eliminate outside of their sleeping area. They’ll be playing more often with their littermates and learning the difference between biting hard and biting gently. The puppies will not be so dependent on Mama to help them during this week. This is when they are building their individual sense of independence, and maybe a little bit of personality too!

Week 5-6: Time to Get Involved

Now that week 5 has arrived, it’s time for puppy cuddles! This is the crucial week where the more a puppy socializes, the better it is for their well-being and the more likely they will learn to be more obedient. Walking the puppy, even if only around the house if they’re ready for outside, is highly encouraged! This is also the best time to house train them, being sure to encourage their good behaviour but not so much their bad behaviour. Be aware of household dangers while training the puppies however, such as chemicals and house plants to lessen their risk of being hurt or injured.

During these two weeks, you can start providing the puppies with individual bowls of gruel and milk replacer (do NOT use regular cow’s milk as this can upset their digestive system!). Place these food bowls in a separate room so that the puppies grow to understand where they are and are not allowed to eat (it will also discourage them from begging for food they shouldn’t eat, i.e. your food).

While training your puppy, be sure that they are not constantly itching, grooming, rubbing, or chewing on their own skin, ears, and fur. This is not normal behaviour for puppies; these are signs of an underlying skin or ear problem that should be diagnosed and treated at once. Also, be aware that bathroom accidents in your home are bound to happen while house training them. If going outside is not an option for them, use newspapers and designate a corner of the room in your home for them where they can urinate or defecate and you can clean up afterwards easily.

Week 7-8: From Dog Baby to Toddler

It’s around this time frame where it is best to bring your puppies to your veterinarian for vaccinations and a precautionary worming treatment. You can also start grooming your puppies if they are long-hair breeds or require specific healthcare, such as skin treatments.

Regular check-ups on their ears, teeth, and nails are highly recommended, not only for the great social interaction but also because the earlier you start on the nail trimming and grooming, the easier it will be to groom them, brush their teeth, and provide medicine. It’s okay to ask for help from your family veterinarian if any of these tasks are proving difficult!

By week 8, a puppy should be fully weaned away from Mama, they can start eating regular puppy food (mostly solids), and if they need to be adopted they can be. Normally, a puppy should not be adopted unless it is over 8 weeks old; this is recommended so that they can develop properly and in a healthy way.

Whether you’re learning how to be a great new pet parent, or you just love puppies in general, we hope this article has proven to be of use to you. Above all else, enjoy your new little bundle of furry joy!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

How to Choose Your First Family Dog

Do you have children in your life who love dogs as much as you do? If you do and your family is ready to raise one, your first family dog should be an affectionate, kid-friendly companion. It’s a good idea to choose a breed that will be patient even if tiny hands pester them.

Some dog breeds make good family dogs because they have mild temperaments, but there are other considerations to keep in mind when choosing your new pet. This includes your family’s lifestyle.

Characteristics to Consider When Choosing a Dog

  1. Size – Is a small dog a good choice for your family, or would a medium or large dog be better? Think about where you live and how you are going to exercise and raise your new pet. Do you have a small apartment? Do you have a house with a big yard? Do you live in the city with a dog park nearby or further out in the countryside? Large dogs are, in some cases, very calm and easy-going but need lots of room to move around, while some small dogs can be very high-strung and excitable but don’t need a lot of space in which to live in or exercise.
  1. Temperament – It’s certainly best to choose a dog with a mild temperament and lots of tolerance, especially if your children are too young to understand exactly how gentle they need to be with animals. Even if your kids are older, you need to make sure your new dog has an agreeable personality and can form strong bonds with everyone in the family.
  1. Vigor – Will your new dog be able to keep up with your active family? Will your family be able to keep up with your new, active dog? Make sure you choose a pooch that will be a good fit with your family’s lifestyle. There is no sense in choosing a dog who requires more exercise than your family is able to supply. A dog who needs and wants to run off their energy but has no opportunity to do so on a regular basis will become very unhappy, anxious, and even overweight.

Questions to Ask the Breeder or the Caregiver at an Animal Shelter

Depending on whether you are choosing your new dog from a licensed breeder or from an animal shelter, there are important questions to ask before you finally decide:

  • Is this dog gentle and will he be friendly to everyone in the family? Some dogs become attached to only one person, or will prefer only males or only females, or only adults.
  • How much care does this breed need? If they are a long-hair who requires lots of grooming, drools all over everything, or sheds a lot of hair, you must decide if you can handle the dog care he or she needs or not.
  • Will this dog require a lot of exercise or will they often expect to be carried around in your arms? If you are frequently carrying a toddler around, the addition of a little dog in your life may be an unreasonable burden. You may be happier taking a long walk twice a day with a big dog, or you may not be able to work that much exercise into your busy schedule. Be realistic.
  • Will he or she get along with other pets? This question is particularly important if you live in a multiple pet household, but even if you don’t, you may want to have another pet someday.
  • How old is the dog? A puppy will need lots of training, but will probably adjust to your family very quickly. An older dog will already be trained but may not fit into the family so easily and may not feel comfortable with visitors. If he or she is a senior dog, they may have health issues on the horizon, meaning they will need to see a veterinarian more often.

Popular Kid-Friendly Dog Breeds

There are many appropriate choices of kid-friendly dog breeds that you can safely invite into your family. Here are eight good choices in no particular order:

  1. Bulldog – This breed is known to be patient, docile, and friendly, and will get along well with kids and other pets. Because they are smaller breeds, they can be happy in an apartment or a large house. For these brachycephalic breeds with short noses and flat faces, extra care is needed for the care of their teeth, but their coats are easy-care (so long as they’re not overly exposed to warm weather), and they don’t require a lot of exercise.
  2. Beagle – These dogs are smart, sociable, friendly, and happy, and they love being outside. They are small and can be carried, and get along well with children and other pets. Expect them to shed and require frequent bathing.
  3. Collie – All collies, from border to bearded, are gentle and easy to train, and very protective of their families and love children. Their long hair requires regular grooming. They also require a great deal of exercise and will not be happy cooped up indoors all of the time, given that the Collie is bred to be a herding dog.
  4. Newfoundland – This large breed loves and protects children, and they are kind and gentle dogs. Expect lots of shedding and daily grooming, especially during the spring and fall. Although they need lots of room, you can train them to stay in rooms that are easy to clean and, fortunately, they are easy to train. They are also great swimmers and will protect their family in the water.
  5. Irish Setter – These sociable dogs, easily identified by their red coats, are friendly, energetic, love children, and love their families. They need lots of exercise and are sometimes anxious if left alone for long stretches of time.
  6. Poodle – Despite popular culture portraying them as over-stylized, poodles are actually one of the smartest, most obedient, and gentlest breeds of dogs. Their size ranges from miniature to standard and so you can pick the best size for your home. They are devoted to the family, good with children, and get along well with other pets. Find a good dog groomer as their coats must be cared for properly and regularly. This is the breed you can consider if you or your children suffer from allergies, as there is very little shedding or dandruff from their coats. They love swimming, running, and retrieving.
  7. Labrador Retriever – This breed of dog is very smart, very easy to train, gentle, loving, and playful. They need lots of exercise, lots of room, and love to swim. They are strong and obedient, good with children and other animals, and their short coats require very little care.
  8. Bull Terrier – These dogs love children and adults, and they are good with young children who are still learning how to treat pets. They love to be indoors with the family but still need lots of exercise in the yard or on walks, and their short, flat coats require very little care.

There are also many other good family dogs aside from our list including the English Setter, Golden Retriever, Shepherds, and Boxers, among many others. You can check with your veterinarian, local pet breeders, and animal shelter staff who will do their best to steer your family towards the most appropriate pooch.

Keep These Additional Ideas in Mind When Choosing a Dog

  • When a dog is spayed or neutered, it won’t make a hostile dog safe—only safer. Spay and neuter should be pursued for health reasons, but it is training and good dog care that can truly help prevent aggression problems. Lessening aggression is not the point of spaying and neutering.
  • Teething puppies will be happy to teeth on toys but may try and chew on kids and your furniture as well. Good training will help the puppies to learn not to use their teeth during play behavior, but patience and time are both needed to get them fully trained. Adult and senior dogs are gentler than puppies because they don’t jump around as much, and are usually calmer than they were as puppies no matter what breed they are.
  • Holidays are the worst times of the year to get a new dog. The last thing you should do when choosing your pet is be impulsive.
  • Any dog already socialized to be around children may be safer than one who is not.
  • It is important to teach both your children and your dog how to behave in a pet household so that your new dog won’t be thoughtlessly harmed by the kids, or vice versa.

Owning and raising a new family dog is a big responsibility! That’s why for any family with children choosing their first dog, it’s best to select from the many kid-friendly breeds that make good, gentle companions for life.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Things to Know about Ringworm in Dogs

Have you ever heard of ringworm before? Did you know that it is contagious to both dogs and cats? Although ringworm isn’t usually a painful or itchy condition, it can become a big problem if it’s left alone. Ringworm can also be pretty unsightly on your dog! If left untreated, it can spread over large parts of the body and cause other skin, hair, and nail problems.

We discuss below what ringworm really is, how to identify its symptoms, and what to do about it.

Ringworm Isn’t Really a Worm—it’s a Fungus

Ringworm is not in the same category as a hookworm, roundworm, or tapeworm. In fact, it is not a worm at all. This fungus, which affects the skin and leaves circular or semi-circular bald spots and rashes, is a fungal infection that gets its name from the ring-like, worm-like shape visible on raised and red skin rashes.

Ringworm is the common name for these fungal infections that affect the skin; its scientific name is “dermatophytosis”. The three common species causing skin problems in dogs and cats are Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, and Trichophyton metagrophytes. The disease can affect dogs, cats, and even humans. On humans, it causes a red circular or patchy rash to develop, and when it gets on the feet it is known as “athlete’s foot.” 

If your dog catches ringworm, please remember that this fungal infection can also infect people. You have to be careful to not catch it until your pup has received successful treatment and the problem has been resolved.

Symptoms of Ringworm

Bring your pooch to a dog hospital if you notice any of these symptoms of a ringworm infection. Even if you don’t see the characteristic circular rash, which may not be noticeable, these are reasons for a visit to your family vet:

  • Dry, brittle hair with hair follicles that break easily
  • Inflamed, red skin rash
  • Circular or patchy areas of hair loss (alopecia)
  • Scales that look like dandruff
  • Scabs or raised nodular lesions on the skin
  • Darkened skin (hyperpigmentation)
  • Reddened skin (erythema)
  • Inflamed folds of the skin around the claws, or bordering the nails
  • Itchiness (pruritus)

How Ringworm Gets Around

Ringworm is spread either through direct contact with an infected animal or from an object that has been contaminated such as towels, bedding, a comb or brush, food or water bowls, a couch, or carpets. The fungus spores can survive for many months, which means ringworm can be spread via hair that has been shed. It can also remain on surfaces or trapped in the fibres of carpets, drapes, and linens in your home if they’re not cleaned.

Dogs may often get the fungal infection from playing at the playground as some forms of the fungus can freely live in soil. Once the fungus ends up on the skin, even the slightest trauma to that part of the skin can expose the body to a ringworm infection. After this, the pet’s immune system may fight the fungus off, or it may turn in to a localized or more widespread skin infection, depending on many factors including the pet’s overall health, the species of fungus, part of the body affected, the pet’s age, and so on.

Sometimes a pet can be a ringworm carrier but they don’t have any visible symptoms. If your dog has been diagnosed with ringworm, it is a good idea to have your other pets checked by a veterinarian. You should also alert your fellow dog owners and dog-walking buddies that your dog has been infected and is being treated, and that they should watch for signs of ringworm in their own pets.

If your dog has been visiting other dogs or has been in a kennel or animal shelter, he or she should be watched carefully for problems like ringworm, fleas, ticks, and any other parasites that travel via infected skin or hair with which your pup has been in contact with. 

Good Treatments are Available

There are other more common conditions besides ringworm that can cause hair loss and rashes, so if you do notice symptoms of ringworm in your dog, take them to your family veterinarian. Do not self-diagnose this condition as it is never based on visual clues alone and diagnostic testing is always needed, not just to diagnose ringworm, but also to help find out the species of ringworm and decide what may be the best available treatment for that species. Bacterial skin infection (pyoderma), skin yeast infections, and allergies are some other more common problems that affect dogs and may look similar to ringworm to the untrained eye.

If your pet is diagnosed with ringworm, there are a variety of good treatments available. Your vet will help you choose the solution best suited for your dog depending on the severity of their ringworm problem.

These are the usual methods to treat ringworm:

  • Topical medication
  • Anti-fungal oral medication
  • Environmental decontamination

Your vet may also suggest that your dog’s hair be trimmed off in the more infected areas. Do not assume your dog is free of the infection once their symptoms are no longer visible. Continue to treat your pet until your veterinarian pronounces them cured.

Although it does not commonly affect dogs, ringworm is a troublesome problem that is best dealt with soon after you notice its symptoms. Remember the symptoms we discussed above and do pursue a vet consultation if any of the symptoms are noted, as it may be due to ringworm or another skin problem that needs to be dealt with promptly so your pooch can stay healthy and comfortable.

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Dog Dentistry 101: Dental Issues to Look for in your Dog

Dogs need dental care just like cats and humans! Caring for their teeth daily can help to prevent other oral health problems. In honour of Pet Dental Health Month, we go over how to watch for the signs and symptoms of dental issues as well as inform you about the dental diseases dogs can have that, if left untreated, may require a visit to a dog hospital.

Dental Diseases in Dogs

Tooth decay is very common among humans but is rare in dogs. The most common dental issues seen in dogs are fractured teeth and periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Although there are no outward signs or symptoms in the beginning of gum disease, once it has advanced it can cause your dog to experience chronic pain, eroded gums, and missing teeth. Periodontal disease is so common that over 80% of dogs over the age of three are known to have it. It is 5 times more often to happen in dogs than in humans.

There is Such a Thing as Bad Doggie Breath: Halitosis

Most people don’t think highly of their dog’s breath daily, but if your dog’s breath is worse than normal, it could be halitosis. Halitosis is caused by a build-up of foul-smelling bacteria in the mouth, lungs, or gut. If your dog has halitosis, it can mean that there could be something wrong in their gastrointestinal tract, liver, or kidneys, or it just means they need better dog dental care. Either way, it’s always better to get your pup checked out by their veterinarian to be sure. Halitosis usually appears if the dog has gum disease, an infection, or tooth decay.

If you detect these smells in your dog’s breath, get them checked right away:

  • Unusually sweet or fruity: can indicate diabetes, especially if your dog is drinking and peeing more than normal.
  • Urine: a sign of kidney disease.
  • Unusual foul odor: a liver problem, especially if accompanied by vomiting, lack of appetite, and yellow-tinged eyes.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease in dogs is the inflammation or infection of the tissues or gums surrounding the tooth. It’s caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar, which causes periodontal pockets or receding gums around where the tooth is attached. If left untreated, the infection will make things worse for your dog. 

Plaque and Tartar Buildup

As we all know, mouths are full of thousands of bacteria which multiply on the surface of the tooth, forming an invisible layer which is the plaque (or biofilm). A dog’s tongue and chewing habits can remove some of the plaque.

However, the plaque can thicken, becoming mineralized and creating tartar if it’s allowed to remain on the tooth’s surface. The tartar builds up below and above the gum line which can lead to inflammation (gingivitis). Further plaque buildup can lead to periodontal disease. 

What Can Factor in the Development of Dental Diseases in Dogs?

  • Age and general health: dogs at any age can develop dental diseases, but the most commonly affected are adult and senior dogs.
  • Diet and chewing behavior: canned dog food rather than hard kibbles is not that good at keeping plaque from accumulating. Various toys or treats may also be contributing to some of the buildup.
  • Tooth alignment: while dogs with their teeth often crowded together (often in smaller breeds) are at greater risk of developing dental diseases, all dogs whether their teeth are straight or crooked are at risk. This is one reason why daily brushing is so important!
  • Home care: if you are not taking regular care of your dog’s teeth at home by brushing daily (if possible), this increases the risk of dental diseases as well as the amount of plaque and tartar buildup in their mouth. 

Signs and Symptoms of Oral Health Issues in Dogs

  • Problems with eating hard food
  • Red/swollen gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • “Talking” or making noises when they eat or yawn
  • Bumps or lumps in the mouth
  • Ropey saliva
  • Favouring one side of the mouth while chewing
  • Withdrawing from being touched
  • Sensitivity around the mouth
  • Stomach or intestinal upsets
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Weight loss

You should take your pooch to a dog hospital at once if you see these signs and symptoms of dental problems:

  • Bad breath
  • Red, swollen, painful or bleeding gums
  • Change in eating or chewing habits
  • Visible tartar on the gum line
  • Bumps or growths in their mouth
  • Pawing at their face or mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Missing, discoloured, broken, or misaligned teeth

Prevention

Dental diseases in dogs may be common but each one we’ve mentioned is preventable! Doing your best brush your dog’s teeth at least once a day is recommended. If for some reason you are unable to do so yourself, there are toys and treats that can help. It’s best to get help from your vet if your dog resists or refuses to have their teeth cleaned. When in doubt, ask your family veterinarian about dog dental care, report any teeth issues you may have noticed, and make it a point to have your pooch checked regularly. 

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Signs of Hypothermia in Dogs and What to Do About It

’Tis the season of dropping temperatures! With or without snow, it’s possible for your dog to catch cold. Be sure he or she doesn’t get so cold that hypothermia develops! If you see any of these signs and symptoms, bring your dog to your local veterinarian for quick and effective treatment.

What is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia is the condition of having an abnormally low internal body temperature. For dogs, this means their temperature has dropped below the normal body temperature of 37.8˚C (100.1˚F) to 39.1C˚ (102.5˚F).

An abnormally low core temperature can lead to complications that are quite severe. Protect them as much as possible, and watch for symptoms that indicate they’ve been too cold for too long.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia

When your dog is exposed to freezing temperatures for a prolonged period of time, the first worrisome symptom to note is shivering. His or her body shivers to create heat, which also signals that the blood vessels in the paws, nose, ears, and tail are constricting in order to send that heat to their most important organs like the heart and lungs.

Signs of your dog’s dropping body temperature are:

  • Their limbs are becoming very cold
  • Their breathing will be very rapid
  • Increased urination
  • Their hair is standing on end (the doggy version of goose bumps)
  • Shivering
  • They will become lethargic
  • Disorientation
  • Pale gums
  • Slow, shallow breathing

Quickly take your pup to a veterinarian or to an animal hospital for immediate medical help if you see the signs that are suggestive of hypothermia:

  • He or she is still very cold, but has stopped shivering
  • He or she is not only lethargic but also disoriented
  • Their rapid breathing has slowed and is now shallow
  • Their nose, ears, paws, and tail look pale
  • Their internal body temperature has fallen below 36.7˚ C (98˚ F)

Which Dogs Need Protection the Most?

Dogs who are most at risk for hypothermia are those:

  • Who are very young or very old
  • With low body fat
  • With very little or very thin fur
  • With hypothyroidism because the thyroid regulates body temperature
  • Who are not used to cold weather
  • Small breeds such as Chihuahuas who can lose heat more quickly because of their size

The usual causes of a dangerous drop in a dog’s core temperature are:

  • Exposure to cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time
  • Icy cold, wet fur and skin and paws
  • Cold water exposure for long durations

Here is What to do for Your Cold Dog

As long as your dog is not showing a serious drop in core temperature, you can treat the problem at home. Consider investing in a rectal thermometer so that you can take their temperature yourself and find out exactly how cold he or she is. (There’s nothing wrong with asking your vet for help with this part however, especially if this makes you both uncomfortable!)

Quickly warm blankets in the dryer, wrap them around your dog, and place him or her in a warm room. A hot water bottle or a hot pad warmed in the microwave can be wrapped and placed on your dog’s tummy. Make sure this heat pad is well-wrapped in a towel so that it doesn’t burn them by accident! Give your pup warm fluids to drink.

Do not put your pet into a warm bath! The sudden shift in temperature exposure could be too much for your dog to handle and only make the situation worse.

If you are concerned about your pup, bring them to a dog hospital right away. Have your veterinarian check for any long-term, negative effects from your dog’s hypothermia experience. The above methods we just described are good for starting the heating process on the way to your vet clinic.

Tips for Caring for Your Pet When the Weather is Cold

The best defense against hypothermia is a good offence, which means making sure your dog is not exposed to extreme cold for long periods of time.

  • If it is cold outside, walk your dog more frequently for shorter lengths of time.
  • Give your pooch a winter wardrobe! Outfit him or her in a protective jacket and even booties if they’re not used to the cold or is considered to be an “at-risk” dog (e.g., any small, skinny, sick, or old dog—especially if they’re arthritic—or a puppy, or any dog with a single layer of hair and no undercoat).
  • Keep your pooch out of water, even from melting snow puddles or regular rain puddles.
  • Even when inside of a car, your pet may freeze in the winter. The weather may be suitable for taking your dog on a brisk walk, but that same temperature can cause hypothermia to set in if he or she is sitting in a cold car. Make sure they’re kept warm!
  • If your pet is left alone in a cold house, their core temperature may drop enough that they start to shiver. Think of your pets when you lower the house temperature on workdays.
  • Don’t leave your dog tied up outside for extended periods when it is windy and cold.
  • When taking your dog for a walk, avoid ice salts, which can irritate the feet and paws of animals.
  • Little balls of ice may sometimes get caught between your dog’s toes. This not only hurt dogs, they can also cut into their feet. Remove any icy bits from their paws immediately if you discover this. It’s best to train your dog to accept wearing booties to prevent this cold weather hazard from occurring in the first place.
  • Make sure your dog always has good shelter and warmth whenever you must take them outside. If the weather becomes dire, keep your pup indoors at all times.
  • Antifreeze, which is used a lot in the winter for vehicles, is very poisonous to dogs. Make sure any containers you have around the house are well out of the reach from your dog’s tongue. Wipe up any antifreeze that spills. If your dog somehow manages even one lick of antifreeze, take them to your veterinarian right away!

Winter can be a dangerous season for pets. If you’re a dog owner, please exercise caution when you’re taking your beloved dog outside, and keep watch for the aforementioned signs and symptoms of hypothermia. Early-stage hypothermia can be treated quickly and easily at home, but your dog should be taken to a veterinarian or an animal hospital right away if they show any signs of later-stage hypothermia. Again, it’s better to be safe than sorry by having them come in even if it’s early-stage.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Dog

Christmas is here again, and you’re ticking off each person on your shopping list. But wait—did you forget about Fido? Maybe you’re not sure what to give your dog for a Christmas present. Fortunately, we have a lot of gift ideas for dogs to offer you including lots of DIY (do it yourself) gift ideas.

Of course, when it comes to anything involving your dog, be wary of their overall health and safety. Whether it be a toy or treat, if you’re not sure about a certain gift, ask your veterinarian.

Idea 1: Fancy Store Bought Items

If you’re someone who considers your dog as your fur baby, then these ideas may be right up your alley. How about some doggie perfume? Yes, they have scents made especially for your dog at pet supply stores, but please do make sure to read the labels carefully and consult your vet if you’re concerned about allergies. Along with the scent theme, there are doggie candles as well. However, it may be best to avoid the candles altogether (that way there is less risk of fire accidents for you and Fido) and instead opt for vet-recommended sprays and scents to give to your anxious pooch.

If your dog will wear them, you can get some adorable Christmas-themed sweaters, jackets, and booties. If the cold weather arrives early, the booties may especially come in handy!

Let’s say you’re a fitness buff, and you’d like your pooch to be one too. Consider investing in a doggie treadmill or another such piece of doggie-centric fitness equipment (so long as you have the room in your home and your budget, of course!). If you and your pup are outdoor enthusiasts, reflective gear and backpack pet first aid kits are great stocking stuffers!

Idea 2: Store Bought Basics

There are many different types of toys you can buy your dog in the store. Basics include food or treat dispensers, which makes them work for their treat, is mentally stimulating, and makes for good exercise. You can also find non-stuffed squeak toys, which are great for playing tug of war, but be wary when it comes to the squeaker (especially if your dog likes to tear things apart!).

Don’t forget the treats! There are a lot of special Christmas-themed dog treats you can purchase, Again, make sure you carefully read the ingredients and be sure they’re right for your dog, especially if they have food or even skin allergies.

Speaking of treats and food, you can get them a new food dish or dishes perhaps if their old ones are looking dingy and worn out. For on-the-go dogs, you can get them a doggie water bottle.

Is their leash or collar looking worn out too? Perhaps it’s time for new ones. You can also get personalized dog tags to attach to their new spiffy collar.

Maybe their dog bed or pillow is looking like it has seen better days? It could be time for a new one, and there are so many awesome pillows out there!

Idea 3: Endless DIY Projects 

The Internet offers endless amounts of DIY projects you can make for your dog. Pinterest has grown to be one such resource for crafting your own doggie stuff, such as:

  • Dog beds
  • Christmas tree ornaments
  • A toy box to store all their playthings
  • Treat jars
  • Baked goods (be sure to account for any possible allergies in your dog, and make sure the ingredients are dog-friendly!)
  • Personalized stockings and dog toys, using fabric and tennis balls to create an animal or perhaps braid some fleece for rope

That’s just to name a handful! 

Idea 4: Activities

If you have snow this Christmas, skijoring would be a fun activity for both you and your dog, provided you like skiing. Skijoring involves your dog pulling you by running ahead in the snow while you’re on cross-country skis. Be sure to stay on a trail or straight road to prevent accidents and injuries!

Maybe go out for the day at an indoor dog park if it’s too icky outside (providing you can get there). If there are no local parks nearby, perhaps pampering your pup at a doggy daycare would be fun, or sign them up for an indoor training course.

If it’s cold outside and they have everything they need as far as dog care goes, the best gift you can give your pooch is some much-needed cuddle time by the fire, or on the couch, or on your bed—wherever is comfy. Snuggling with your fur baby gives them attention, affection, and love, not to mention it will keep you both warm on a cold day.

Is it time for their winter trim? Treat them to a doggie spa day and go for the full package, nails included. If there is no spa nearby or they’re closed, consider taking Fido to your veterinarian—they can offer grooming and nail trimming too, as well as some cuddles!

If you know any other dogs in the neighborhood that get along with yours, set up a playdate with toys and treats. Maybe get together at the nearest dog park, and while the dogs play, you and the owners can get to know each other over a hot drink. 

You’ve heard of hide and seek for kids, right? Well, who says it’s just for them? Try hiding a treat or favorite toy of your dog’s and make them come find you. If you have kids, this is a great game for the whole family to play. Get the kids to throw the dog’s favorite toy or treat to get them away while you all go hide. 

If you have snow, and your dog likes it too, just playing about in the yard makes a great gift (being careful all the while, of course). Make doggie and human snow angels and just playing around in the snow is a great bonding experience.

Some of the best gifts aren’t bought at a store but come from the heart. Just spending time with your dog and making sure they are happy can be a great gift, especially if you’re low on funds for Christmas shopping.

When in Doubt, Ask for Help

Your dog’s safety and health are very important! During this time of the year, there can be many things that you might not be sure of, like treats and toys etc., and that’s okay. When in doubt, talk to your veterinarian or an expert about any dog-related items you’re not sure about. Asking for help makes sure you and your dog have a happy and healthy holiday season! 

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

7 Fun Rainy Day Indoor Activities With Your Dog You’ll Both Enjoy

Sure, your dog needs to go outdoors for a daily walk or two, but sometimes you need to cut the dog walk short because of rainy or even stormy weather. Don’t worry about doing that, because there are a lot of fun rainy day indoor activities with your dog you can both enjoy!

Workouts and exercise for your dog should be done rain or shine. Today, we offer seven indoor games you can play together without overexerting them or yourself.

1. Tug-of-war

Toss a soft toy to your dog and ask them to fetch it. When he or she does, grab a part of the toy and start shaking it to get it out of their mouth. They will resist, of course, and eventually you can loosen your grasp and let them get away. Warn him or her not to touch your hand with their teeth if they’re too close, and you must stop the game if he or she does and try it again later. They will soon catch on to this important rule.

Take note that this game:

  • Will encourage them to be playful
  • Will be more fun for your dog when you allow them to win more than half of the time

Playing games like tug-of-war with your dog will, in fact, give them more confidence (especially if they’re shy) as well as a good workout!

2. Find the Treats

Place some treats—like, say, chopped carrots—around the room while your dog watches you. Tell him to “Find the treats” and help him or her find them. When they are all found and eaten, throw your hands up and say, “That’s all,” or “All gone.” They will catch on soon, and after he or she has learned the signals, hide treats when he or she is not in the room. Call them into the room and give him the signal “Find the treats” to send them on the search, and signal the end of the game by hand gestures and the words “That’s all.” Your pup will love it!

3. Teach Your Dog the Names of their Toys

Name your dog’s toys when you are playing tug, or toss and fetch, or any game with their toys, and reinforce these names in their memory by saying them frequently. To help support their mastery of the names, you can combine this lesson with the next game, which is:

4. Find Your Toys

Drop a number of your pup’s toys in a big pile on the floor, and ask them to find the toys by name. For example say, “Fetch Blue Bear,” and if he or she brings you the right toy, give them a treat and lots of praise. If not, fetch Blue Bear yourself and show it to them. Then, go back and drop it on the pile and say again, “Fetch Blue Bear.” Repeat these steps until he or she picks up Blue Bear and gives it to you, then praise them and give them their treat.

Next, hide Blue Bear under the other toys while he watches you and again, say, “Fetch Blue Bear.” Help them learn to fetch the right toy and give it to you and don’t get sidetracked by a game of tug of war while you are in the middle of this game, which they may try a few times.

Eventually, when you start a new game, you can have your dog fetch a particular toy for it—the tug, or toss and fetch, or any other game—by asking for it by name so that he or she doesn’t forget the names. Since you should rotate their toys every once in a while so that he or she doesn’t become bored with them, they will learn a lot of names—which comes easier to some dogs than others. When he or she has mastered this game, they are ready for the next game, which is:

5. Put Your Toys Away

Your dog will love this game, and so will you! Help him or her learn what to do by telling them it’s time to put their toys in the toy box (or wherever you keep them). Then pick up a toy and say, “Pick up ducky” and then walk over to the toy box and say, “Drop ducky” and drop ducky into it. Your dog will be very interested. After doing this a few times, touch a toy on the floor saying, “Pick up (name)” and when he or she does, lead them to the toy box and say, “Drop (name).”

After they catch on, you will be able to point to a toy and command “Pick up (name)” followed by pointing to the toy box and saying, “Drop (name) in the toy box.” Don’t forget to have a little treat ready for them after they’ve dropped the toy in the toy box while they’re learning the game. Later, when your pup knows the game well enough and picks up and puts away all of their toys while you’re sitting back and watching them, give them a special treat. (We knew you’d like this game!

6. Hide and Seek

To play this game, your dog needs to understand the command “Stay.” If not, you need a helper who will hold your pet while you go into another room and hide. They can be released when you call to them. Keep calling if necessary until they find you, and then make a big fuss and praise him or her so that they understand you are playing a game with them.  Also, work on the command to “stay.” Aside from the fact that understanding this command allows the two of you to play hide and seek without help, it is one of the most useful commands your pup can learn.

7. Chasing Bubbles 

This is a great game to play when your dog needs some exercise and you aren’t feeling well. Use a child’s simple bubble solution and bubble maker and blow bubbles for your dog to chase while you are sitting in your easy chair or resting on your bed. After you’ve played this game with your pup once or twice—blowing bubbles and then chasing them and using your hand to break them—they’ll understand. Most dogs are fascinated by bubbles just like young children are! A bubble solution that is safe for a child is also safe for your dog.

Review Commands

As well as indoor games, you can spend some time on refresher lessons on obedience commands and any tricks you have taught your pup. In addition to “stay” and “no,” a useful command is “place,” which you can use to send them to their cushion or to their bed.  Treats are an excellent training tool, but check with your veterinarian regarding the types you can safely use while training your pooch if you want or need to provide them frequently.

As you can see you can have a great time with your pooch even on rainy days when you both need to stay inside from the miserable weather! These activities will help you both have fun and keep your dog active. Enjoy!

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Ask an Expert: Abnormal Dog Nails

Q: My dog has been losing nails and some nails are bent out of shape. Why could his nails be abnormal?

A: Dogs that have an active lifestyle or dogs walked on pavement generally wear their nails short.

Nails that are prone to fall easily or appear abnormal in shape and size are signs of medical problems in dogs. The most common condition causing misshapen or broken nails is called Lupoid onychodystrophy. This condition may be due to multiple underlying causes and is easily treated using a combination of medication, dietary management, and supplements.

Other common causes for such symptoms include nail bed infections due to bacteria or fungus.