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!

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.

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.

Happy ‘Doggieween’: Halloween Treats for Dogs Do’s and Don’ts

Halloween can be fun for dogs too, if they’ll let you dress them up. But if they get into the “human” treats, it can mean an emergency trip to the vet. There are treats you can give your pooch, but be wary of the ingredients. Any kind of human Halloween treat, candy, etc. are forbidden for dogs! Lollipop sticks can get stuck in their throat and candy wrappers can cause obstructions.

This is a good time to use that obedience training. Using the command “Leave it,” if you spot your pup sniffing around; this command can be especially helpful if any candy or chocolate lands on the floor. If you see your dog ingest something they shouldn’t have, call your vet or poison control immediately!

Halloween Treat Don’ts

Carefully read the ingredients in all treats you plan on giving to your dog. Sugary, high-fat candy can lead to pancreatitis, and symptoms may not show for about 2-4 days. You may not know it, but raisins and grapes are toxic to dogs too.

The artificial sweetener, xylitol, that is in a lot of “sugar-free” treats can cause sudden drop in blood sugar, subsequent loss of coordination, and seizures if ingested by your dog. Some treats contain white chocolate, which is still chocolate and a big no-no for dogs. Theobromine is the main ingredient in chocolate, which is harmless to humans but toxic to dogs.

Signs of Chocolate Poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures

Should you see any of these signs in your pup take them to your vet straightaway!

Halloween Treat Do’s

All treats for your dog should be only given for training purposes or on special occasions. Don’t let treats replace their meals and don’t let your dog overindulge on the good treats. If your dog has allergies or is on a special hypoallergenic diet, talk to your vet about what you can give them for treat options.

Don’t forget, your dog can have treats that are beneficial to their health. Dogs can get bad breath, plaque, tartar formation, and tooth decay. You can give them dental treats that cleans their teeth, freshens their breath, and controls plaque and tartar.

Don’t forget their coat and skin either! There are treats you can give your pooch that contain Omega-3 fatty-acids, which are good for their skin and coat health.

For pups who prefer really crunchy treats, feel free to give them bite-sized pieces of raw carrots! There are other certain fruits and vegetables you can give your dog too.

Halloween Treat Ideas for Dogs

Not only can you find treats in the store to buy for your pooch, but you can also find many recipes to make homemade dog treats, including online. It can be fun to make treats from scratch and there are some that you can enjoy eating too along with your pooch.

Pumpkin is an okay treat for dogs, but only in small portions. Unless your pup is allergic (which is unlikely, as pumpkin is not a common allergen), baked pumpkin makes a good treat idea. Peanut butter is also a tasty option (again, be sure it’s only given to your dog in small amounts). There are plenty of peanut butter-flavoured treats you can find in the store!

Speaking of treats, it may be handy to keep a bag of dog treats handy during this time of the year. That way, your pup will not miss out on the festivities and they receive treats that are appropriate and safe.

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.

A Brief History of Social Behaviour in Dogs

Dogs love having companionship even more so than some humans probably do! In the wild, the canine families hunt in packs and have a hierarchy system. The same is true for companion dogs, even though their social behavior may not be as well studied as in the case of some of the more wild animals.

The dog’s cousin, the wild wolf, stays together in family groups and they are also very social animals. They hunt large prey, because of their strong pack mentality, which also gives them the best chance of survival. This strategy requires that individuals within the group maintain peaceful social bonds with one another. This relies largely on non-confrontational communication and a high level of social self-awareness, with individual wolves having to coordinate, cooperate, and compromise with one another in order to stay alive and well.

While survival for the pet dog is not as tricky or fickle as it would be for a wild wolf, man’s best friend is likely hard-wired for the same level of social interaction and respect for their companions. It likely helps dogs remain social animals because they tend to live with another very social species the “dog-owner”. Socialization with other dogs as well as humans is a very strong factor in how healthy and sociable a puppy will be in the future. Going to puppy classes and interacting at the park with dogs having different personalities helps puppies learn to adapt to and be respectful of the personal space of others. Leash training helps them bond with their family while also allowing them to learn to respect the personal space of other humans. In my opinion, every dog should be socialized with humans and other pets alike.

As a dog ages, it is helpful for the individual to go for walks and playtime as this would help keep the brain fresh and the joints active. Next time your dog brings you the leash or signals intent to go for a walk, it doesn’t only signify potty time! It is him (or her) telling you that it is time to freshen up the mind and body alike while spending some quality time together.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinary Dermatologist & Practice Owner
Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.
Twitter @BajwaJangi

Halloween and (Noise) Phobia in Dogs

What a wonderful and long summer we have had! As we move into autumn, there might be less sun, but there are plenty of other things to look forward to. The fall season brings with it hockey, Thanksgiving Day, Halloweens, fright nights, Diwali (the Indian festival of lights), and more, alongside the shorter, chillier days.

Irrespective of the length of day, good times are always around the corner as long as we are ready for them. No animal might be better at proving this statement than dogs. Isn’t it just amazing how much they enjoy almost any kind of toy, treat, or attention? While dogs have an unparalleled love of life, they too can face anxieties and depressions of various kinds. The most common anxiety that dogs face is noise phobia, especially around Halloween.

Firecrackers, thunder, and even smoke alarms can trigger an anxiety episode in a dog sensitive to loud sounds. Generally, the signs of such phobias become evident around mid-October as neighbors may use solitary firecrackers on and off. Subtle symptoms include unexplained panting, pacing around, excessive drooling, shivering and hiding. The signs become evident during evenings when firecrackers may be used.

If a dog with noise phobia is exposed to sudden thunder or firecrackers close by, they might have a big enough anxiety attack with symptoms being comparable to seizure activity. Thus, if the early symptoms are not identified, your dog may be in for a rough time on Halloween night while you’re out with the family.

There are various treatment and management options available for pets that deal with anxieties. The gold-standard option would be to remove the offending traumatic cause. In the case of noise phobia, it is obvious that we cannot put on hold festivities and celebrations, or unpredictable thunder for that matter. The options for treating sound-related anxiety in dogs include thunder jackets, natural pheromone collars, vaporizers, antianxiety medications, and a whole lot of loving and caring. In some patients, all of the above options may need to be exercised in order to provide short-term relief leading up to Halloween. Other patients may need to be on ongoing management of such anxieties.

Some of the loveliest dogs that have obviously been well cared for since they were puppies can also be affected by noise phobia. This should not be a taboo subject; instead, awareness of the issue helps dogs immensely. If you feel your dog may be showing symptoms of anxiety of any kind, it is something that should be discussed with your veterinarian.

To summarize, if your pet shows abnormal behavior over the coming weeks or has shown abnormal behavior around loud sounds in the past, the best Halloween gift you can give him or her is an ability to handle such sounds.

Note: Always remember to consult your veterinarian before using any medications as other illness may mimic signs of anxiety.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby since 2005 and BC’s first Veterinary Dermatology Resident.

Emergency Tips to Use if Your Dog is Wounded on a Walk

When it comes to walking your dog, nothing is more panic-inducing than finding out your dog has been hurt by accident. If something happens to your dog, the very first thing you must do is to try not to panic and talk to them soothingly.

These simple emergency tips will help you reduce your pet’s anxiety in such situations and avoid further injury. Bring your pup to a veterinarian if you need their professional help.

Be Prepared for Accidents

No matter where you take your pooch for a walk, it’s best to be prepared for anything. Accidents can still happen even if you’re careful. Along with your water bottle, your “pooper scooper,” poop bags, and a collar and leash for your dog, here are some other useful items you should include on your dog-walking adventures:

  • Tweezers
  • Styptic powder or a pencil, or cornstarch
  • A small hand towel
  • A couple of non-adhesive absorbent dressings
  • A box of sterile absorbent gauze
  • A roll of first aid tape
  • A muzzle (only for extreme cases)
  • ID on you and your pet’s ID on their collar and/or placed on them as a microchip
  • A phone with your veterinary clinic’s phone number in your contacts list 

Call your vet immediately if an accident occurs and you do not feel comfortable treating the wound yourself. It is advised to take your pet to the vet to be checked out after any accident or serious incident (for example a bug bite).

What Can Happen and What You Can Do About It

In all cases—torn nail, skunk encounter, etc.—the first thing to do is to ensure your own safety as well as your pup’s. Stay calm, approach your pet slowly, and talk soothingly to them. Frightened, pain-stricken pets will usually try and bite anyone who touches them, including you, the pet parent. Talk gently to your pet and if he or she snaps when you reach out, you may try putting a cloth over their face or putting a muzzle on them, being careful not to hurt them in the process.

Situation – Torn Nail

Response – Remain calm. Examine your dog’s paw if you see the following signs of a torn nail: holding a paw in the air while on your walk, limping, visibly leaning on favored paws, constant paw licking, visible swelling, and resistance to your examining their injury. Some torn nails cause bleeding and these are very painful to your dog at the touch.

Wrap up the paw in a loose-fitting bandage or even a sock with Scotch tape. Styptic powder or cornstarch is okay to use on minor quick injury at the tip of the nail, but any nail injury should still be examined by a vet for signs of further injury. A loose bandage is acceptable for transport.

If the nail has been torn to the quick (the pink fleshy part inside of the nail), bring your pup to a veterinary clinic ASAP. Follow your vet’s at-home care instructions exactly to prevent infection.

Situation – Skunk Spray

Response – Keep your dog outside of the house so as to avoid the foul odor from going inside. Apply an over-the-counter smell neutralizer, or tomato juice, or vinegar diluted in water, or a mix of 1-quart 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon dishwashing soap on to your dog as soon as possible (wear rubber gloves and don’t get these mixes in their eyes!).

Rinse out any of the aforementioned products and then bathe your dog in a dog-friendly shampoo (again, without getting it in their eyes). Wash your clothing if the smell rubbed off onto you with regular detergent and half a cup of baking soda.

If the spray got in your pup’s eyes and mouth directly, bring them to a veterinarian immediately as the skunk spray can cause nausea, vomiting, and irritated eyes.

Situation – Splinter

Response – Similarly to the torn nail, it’s best to remain calm and examine your pooch for signs such as favoring a paw, limping, etc. The tricky thing about splinters however is that bleeding is not an obvious sign, and some splinters are so tiny they can be tough to find.

Always use a calm, soothing voice as you examine your pup’s paw thoroughly. Gently clean their paw with warm, soapy water and a clean towel. Do not remove the splinter yourself, because if it breaks and a portion is left behind in the foot, it could cause infection and extend healing time. It’s best to bring them to your veterinarian so they can remove the splinter or recommend alternatives if it’s dug in too deep.

Situation – Bug Bites or Stings

Response – identify the bug in question as treatment for the bite or sting will vary.

If it’s a flea, keep your dog outside upon discovery to avoid them from infesting your home! You can prevent fleas before going out by applying a topical solution regularly; your vet can do so at your clinic or you can apply them at home, but follow your vet’s instructions exactly.

If it’s a tick, do not remove it yourself if it’s latched onto your pooch. Bring them to a vet immediately.

If it’s a wasp or bee sting, remove the sting if it’s attached to your pup with a piece of flat cardboard or even the flat part of your debit or credit card. Do not use tweezers as it may squeeze the stinger and add more venom to the wound.

If it’s a spider bite, don’t treat it at home. Bring your dog to a veterinarian and be sure to identify what kind of spider bit your dog.

In all cases of bug bites, gently apply a mix of baking soda and water to relieve the pain. You can also use an ice pack or ice cube wrapped in a towel and apply to the stung or bitten area if it’s swelling or swollen. An oatmeal bath is recommended if there are multiple bites or stings.

If the bite or sting leads to infection or immediate allergic reaction, or in the case of ticks, bring your pup to a veterinarian ASAP.

In Case of Major Injuries

Major injuries such as road accidents, bites from other animals, broken bones, heatstroke—all of these situations are possible. If in the event they do happen, your dog will require immediate veterinary assistance. This is why we recommended microchips, ID, and having your veterinary clinic’s number on speed dial—in case emergencies such as these take place.

First aid classes are available if you’re interested in learning more about emergency tips for dogs and wounds, from minor ones like what we just described to major ones, and how to determine serious versus DIY situations.

In any case, you can be prepared with a few essential items in case your dog is wounded on a walk and you have to improvise with emergency treatment on the spot. Stay calm and help your dog stay calm. Always contact your veterinarian if you need assistance with your pup’s emergency.

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

5 Dog Food Myths that Need to be Busted, Pronto

Have you ever given your dog food that you think may be safe for them, only to find out it isn’t? Contrary to popular belief, not everything you feed dogs is good for them, and some things you think are terrible for them may not actually be so. These five dog food myths are common enough, but they need to be busted, pronto, for the sake of keeping your pooch happy, healthy, and safe. 

Beware the Common Myths

“Myths” in this case are exactly what the word implies: untrue stories founded on misconceptions about dogs, their food, and the ways in which various ingredients can affect them.

We love our pets and want to feed them food that will help them grow and live long and happy lives, but there are a lot of conflicting stories about what constitutes a good diet for dogs. Here are the most common issues.

Myth #1 – It’s Okay for Dogs to Free-Feed During the Day

“Free-feeding” is the term used for leaving your dog’s food out during the day for them to casually graze on, rather than giving them food on a schedule. This may seem convenient and easy if you have to leave for work for the day or go to school, but it may not be as convenient to your dog’s overall health.

A dog that free-feeds their food is more than likely to become overweight, leading to all sorts of long-term problems. It also can end up being unsanitary—especially if you tend to feed your dog outside. Unwanted critters such as rodents, bugs, and even stray cats or dogs may smell your pup’s food and come to your home to eat it.

It’s best to feed your dog with the portioned amount they need and on a schedule. A vet can recommend you a schedule and the portions needed based on your pup’s current lifestyle, breed, size, and exercise routine.

Myth #2 – Chocolate is Okay to Give to Dogs

This one’s a very harmful myth and one that should not be believed for a second! Chocolate is actually one of the worst things you can give to a dog. Chocolate contains the ingredients xylitol and theobromine, which are harmless to humans but highly toxic to dogs. Whether it’s around Easter, Halloween, or any other major holiday involving chocolate, always keep it out of their reach.

If at any point you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, bring them to a veterinarian—even if obvious symptoms haven’t shown up.

Myth #3 – Bones are Okay for Dogs

Yes, dogs love to chew on bones, but it depends on both the bone and your dog. Here’s the general rule: cooked bones, whether they’re from pork, chicken, beef, or other animals, are more dangerous than raw ones because cooking makes them brittle and more likely to break or shred.

Yes, you can buy raw marrowbones from butchers and pet stores and they will be safer, but bones carry no guarantees and might break, even if they’re not too small or not too big and are cooked or raw. More importantly, they can cause your enthusiastic bone-crunching pet to break a tooth or, worst-case scenario, cause a gastrointestinal blockage that would require immediate veterinary attention.

Bones may not harm your pup, but why take a chance? Give him or her something else to chew, such as carrots or chew toys.

Myth #4 – Grains are Bad for Dogs

Actually, grains such as wheat, corn, soy, barley, and rice are not harmful to dogs. They are harmful, however, if your dog has a diagnosed wheat allergy or a food allergy that is triggered by grains. If your dog is not intolerant to wheat, however, then it’s perfectly fine to give your dog food containing other grains. They should not be the only part of your dog’s diet—it’s best that they’re combined with protein, such as chicken.

Myth #5 – Pork is Bad for Dogs

This is only slightly true. Uncooked or raw pork is most definitely bad for dogs—but once it’s cooked thoroughly (minus any rubs or spices), it’s actually as harmless as cooked chicken, beef, or any other meats. Just be sure to trim any additional fat off of the piece of pork you want to feed your dog, and portions must be appropriate for their size. While straight-up pork from loins, chops, etc. is fine, what’s not fine is ham or bacon—both are made of pork, but they are processed and contain higher fat and salt content as well as ingredients that could harm your dog.

The best way to feed your dog is by keeping their needs in mind while choosing dog food, which means their diet will change over time. After all, what is suitable for a puppy (up to one year) differs for an adult dog (one to seven years or so) and a senior dog (seven and up). You may have to alter their diet if he or she develops health problems such as diabetes, obesity, or food allergies.

Your veterinarian will guide you through the mysteries of finding the best dog food for your pup, and can help debunk any other myths you may encounter—and there is bound to be others!

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