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.

6 Tips on Caring for Your Dog on Summer Camping Trips

Summer is in full swing now, and you know what that means: it’s time to go camping! If grabbing your tent and venturing out into BC’s beautiful wilderness is high on your must-do list this summer, then you know how much fun dogs will have while they’re with you in the great outdoors.

That being said, caring for your dog while camping is just as important as it is at home. They are perhaps even more prone to accidents while in the outdoors and playing. They’re put at higher risk if somehow there’s an emergency and not a single veterinarian office is in sight.

Summer should be enjoyed by both you and your pooch! Whether you’re going out in an RV or packing along a tent, these tips will ensure you will enjoy your camping trip while caring for your dog this summer.

Tip 1: Do Your Homework

Not every campground in Vancouver or BC accepts dogs, and not every beach is dog-friendly. Many areas are inaccessible to dogs in order to protect the natural wildlife.

You can avoid unwittingly destroying BC’s natural beauty, avoid receiving a penalty fee, and avoid the humiliation of being asked to leave the campground by doing a quick Google search. You can also try contacting the campground owner directly if you’re not sure. Be aware that there may be regulations for dogs even in the more dog-friendly areas, which again are in place for a good reason (for example, preserving the wildlife).

Tip: 2: Pack Properly

Don’t forget your dog in your camping trip’s packing itinerary! As well as food, water, and their food and water bowls, you should try and bring dog-friendly and environmentally-friendly shampoo or dry shampoo or wipes to help wash off the dirt and debris they may roll around in (after all, that’s all there is out in the forest!). Bring along their favourite toys as well as a Frisbee for hours of fun for both of you!

Tip 3: Pest Prevention

Just like anywhere in the city, pests like fleas, mites, and especially ticks can find their way onto your pooch in the wilderness. We highly recommend you come to your veterinarian to receive and apply any oral or topical solutions for pests before you go anywhere on your travels. The best treatment for ticks is prevention!

In the event you find a tick on your pooch, or see any signs and symptoms of an infected bite in your dog, come immediately to the nearest dog hospital for treatment!

Tip 4: Train, Train, and then Train More

Behavioural problems are a biggie for dogs this time of year, as they won’t understand that there are rules of conduct for dogs outside of home for a reason. Teach your pooch the basic commands—“Come”, “Sit”, and “Stay” should always be followed by their name. Keep a sharp eye out for hazards while on your trip, such as broken glass on trails or campfire embers getting too close for comfort. Also be sure they don’t jump onto random passersby if they’re dirty or have been swimming.

Tip 5: Know Your Wild Plants

One of the common dangers of dogs in the wilderness is the plant wildlife, as there are several toxic plants to beware of in BC. These plants are dangerous to both you and your dog, so keep an eye out for them:

  • Poison ivy
  • Holly
  • Thistles
  • Bloodroot
  • Giant hogweed
  • Water hemlock
  • American nightshade
  • Scotch broom
  • Spurge laurel
  • Tansy ragwort

Some of these plants are not only toxic to dogs but also to humans, and can cause some severe allergies!

Tip 6: Breeds

It’s unfortunately true that not all breeds of dogs make for great camping trip companions. There are breeds, specifically the snub-nosed variety of bulldogs and pugs, who are going to require extra attention and care while you’re camping. Why? Because the way their snouts are formed makes it tougher for them to cool off, and they may have more difficulty in breathing and panting.

You need to make sure you’re both hiking and camping in areas that are very shady, if your favourite pooch is a pug or bulldog. Always, always provide them with water and put their bedding in a shaded area so they can cool off or rest.

Keep dogs with dark or black-coloured coats cool and in shaded areas. Keep hairless, short-coated, and light-coloured or white-coated dogs protected from excessive sunlight, as they have less protection from prolonged exposure to the sun.

Basically, any safety tips that apply to you such as protection from the sun and from toxic plants or other dangers will apply to your dog too. By using common sense, you can easily prevent further harm to both of you and above all, have fun on your camping trip! Bon voyage!

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 Tips to Keep Your Dog from Jumping Up on People

Does your dog love jumping up on you when you walk in the door? Does he or she also jump up on guests when they first arrive?  You may not think it is a problem at first when your pooch is a very cute, very small puppy, but it will certainly become a problem if you don’t teach them early that jumping up on people is not acceptable behavior.

There is nothing cute about a full-grown dog running over to a small, frightened child, or a frail senior, and jumping up on them. It can be a terrifying experience and traumatizing for youngsters and for anyone who isn’t familiar with dogs or is afraid of them. Even if you are helpfully shouting, “Don’t be afraid, he just wants to play,” many people find this behaviour very upsetting, and other dog owners would agree. You have some teaching to do to break your pet’s habit!

We offer these tips on how to teach your pooch not to jump up on people

Remember that dogs greet each other by rubbing noses and, when your dog greets you, their first instinct will be to jump up so they can reach yours. As happy as you are to be so warmly welcomed, think of the future: they may jump up on you with muddy paws when you are wearing your best suit, or they may frighten or knock over a child. So, stay strong, and teach them not to jump up on anyone.

1. Establish yourself as leader of the pack

Your dog expects a “leader of the pack” to emerge from any household of which he or she is a member. Make sure they understand you are the leader or they may assume that he or she is and you will have trouble making them obey you. Show yourself to be the leader by being firm, assertive, and consistent, just like mother dog was. A leader of the pack never wavers from his or her role and you mustn’t either.

2. Ignore your dog if they jump up

Your dog needs to learn that they don’t get what they are seeking—attention, food, treats—if they jump up, whether you are coming through the door, sitting in a chair, or have a treat in your hand. Make sure everyone in the family is on board with this training and warn your guests that he or she is to be ignored if they jump. There are various ways of teaching him or her to make the connection between:

  • Getting what they want by not jumping up
  • Not getting what they want if they jump up

3. Don’t greet your dog until they are calm

When you enter the house and your dog jumps up, stop, tell them to sit, and leave the house. Come back in and try again. You may have to make many trips in and out of the house until they obey the “sit” command and stop jumping. When all paws are on the floor, you can bend or crouch down to greet them (but don’t bend over top of them in case he or she jumps again), and give them a treat. You can eventually phase out the treats.

If he or she jumps up on you when you are sitting in a chair, stand up and ignore them until all paws are on the floor.

4. Teach them not to jump up on guests

Arrange for a cooperative friend to come over, and have your dog on a leash. Ask your friend to come in and don’t allow your excited dog to go to them. Tell your dog to sit, and when they have all paws on the floor, have your friend approach. If the dog jumps up, your friend is to stop and back away. Repeat this process a few times until your dog understands that all paws must be on the ground to get the friend to come to them.

When the friend is able to come and starts to play with your dog, they must leave again if they jump up, and you have to start again from the beginning. When the dog will sit until the friend approaches and greets the friend without jumping up, give your dog a treat.

You can repeat this type of training with a friend outside in the yard or a park so that your dog knows this is not just a house rule, but a rule that applies everywhere. 

5. Be consistent

Never break the jumping rule and be patient, and never get cross with your dog while they’re learning this behavior. If you find he or she has trouble controlling themselves, work on the “sit” command separately for a while. Try giving him or her something to hold in their mouth when people come to the door or scatter treats on the floor to distract them. See that your pet gets enough exercise in order to help them control their bouncy nature.

As the “leader of the pack,” you are the one to set the boundaries for your dog and an essential one is for them to understand that jumping up on people is not allowed. Make sure he or she gets treats, playtime, or petting only when they keep all paws on the ground.

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.

10 Outdoor Doggie Hazards to Stay Away From

Are you “outdoor aware” and conscious of the many hazards that your dog faces when you take them outside to enjoy the sunny weather in both urban and country settings? Whether you are taking pooch for a stroll in the neighbourhood or for fun in a doggie park, or are taking them with you for a hike in the country or on a camping trip with the family, keep your pet safe from all the dangers that they face in the great outdoors.

You can help ensure your pet’s health and safety by taking them to your veterinarian for regular checkups, keeping his or her vaccinations up to date, and knowing what to do in an emergency.

When you’re both outside, these are the top ten hazards to watch out for:

1. Lost Dog

Have an ID microchip inserted under your pet’s skin, which is a quick and inexpensive procedure from your veterinarian. With this form of ID, you don’t have to worry so much if your playful dog chases after new friends and runs right out of the doggie park, or if you ever become separated and their dog collar is lost. All animal hospitals and shelters check for ID microchips and will notify you when they are found.

2. Heat Jeopardy

Heatstroke is a common and preventable danger faced by your pet when outside, especially in the summer. Make sure he or she is never left alone in a car, which can turn into an oven in less than ten minutes.

See that you have a portable bowl and are carrying water to offer so that he or she doesn’t become dehydrated when outside. Don’t take them across a road or sidewalk on a hot day without checking it with the back of your hand using the five-second rule. If surfaces are too hot for you within that timeframe, it will definitely burn your pup’s paws. When camping, make sure he or she has a shady place to rest under and plenty of water to drink.

The symptoms of heatstroke are:

  • Lethargy
  • Decreased urination
  • Dry gums
  • Refusal to eat
  • Sunken eyes
  • Decreased skin elasticity

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your pooch to a veterinarian for help.

3. Risky Dog Encounters

Not all dogs are friendly or social, and you should check with dog owners or walkers before allowing your pooch to run up and enter another dog’s personal space. In a dog park, keep your pet in sight and be watchful.

4. Ticks, Mites, Bees, Wasps, and Other Critter Problems

Discourage your dog from chasing after bees, wasps, toads, or snakes. Don’t put your faith in nothing but a flea and tick collar to protect your dog from dangerous bites and the diseases carried by insects and critters. Use proper flea and tick prevention meds instead. Consult your veterinarian and make sure your pup has all the protection they need, which may include such things as sprays, pills, and shampoos, plus up-to-date vaccinations.

5. Road, Traffic, and Path Risks

Your dog is safest on a leash when you take them for a walk. Unleashed dogs must be trained in road safety and always obey when you call “Stop!” Some dogs are never very good at doing either.

Sometimes you may find broken shards of glass left behind by the last (irresponsible) people who visited the park, making the walk with your pup even more hazardous! If you see any shards, pick up your dog if they’re small and carry them away, or go down a different path that’s (hopefully) glass-free. The last thing anyone wants for their pooch is to pick broken glass out of their paws or fur, or even worse find they’ve been wounded!

6. Poison Dangers

Dogs love to eat horrible smelling food items and love to poke around in rubbish. Pull them away from garbage and icky, discarded scraps of anything edible, which may upset their stomach or even poison him. Landscape items such as bark chips and weed sprays are toxic to pets.

Keep your dog away and watch for signs warning of recently sprayed grass. Don’t let them chew on the leaves of any plant you can’t identify and know is safe. Just because he or she likes the flavour doesn’t mean it isn’t poisonous. Also toxic is the blue-green algae in ponds, and swimming pool and hot tub chemicals.

7. Ponds, Lakes, and General Water Hazards

Even if your dog is used to playing in water, they can get out of their depth in a pond and panic. Most dogs can swim but watch them carefully and call him or her back, or be prepared to help them if he or she gets into trouble.

8. Storms

Don’t let your pup play outside when thunder and lightning are around. He or she is a target for lightning just like a human, and they may be afraid of thunder. Take them into the house and use music, toys, or playtime to distract them.

9. Barbecue Ashes

Campfires and barbequing are fun, but there is danger when fires die down and the food and people are gone. Wood ashes and barbeque bricks may still be hot and, if your pooch pokes around ashes or knocks over the barbeque, they may suffer severe burns. Keep them away.

10. Sticks

Throwing sticks for your dog to retrieve seems like traditional fun, but there can be danger from the pointy ends or if they break apart and are swallowed. Throw balls or Frisbees instead.

We know this is all scary stuff to read, but the good news is it can all be prevented! Just watch for these hazards that may be encountered whenever you are outdoors with your dog, and practice safety first so the sunny days are full of fun for you and your pet.

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.

How to Protect Your Pets’ Paws from Hot Sidewalks

Have you ever felt too hot even in your t-shirt? Imagine how much hotter you would feel if we wore shaggy coats like, say, our dogs!

Even though the air temperature may feel comfortable to us when taking our dogs out for their walks, we may not realize that we could be exposing our pets to extreme discomfort, and that hot sidewalks and roads can actually burn little paws. It’s important to be aware of your pet’s comfort level and safety in the summer heat. As for sidewalks, here are some important tips to keep in mind.

Use This Simple Test for Road and Sidewalk Comfort Levels

When outdoor temperatures are high, they may not bother us but they are hot enough to render concrete, asphalt, or blacktop unbearably hot on bare feet or bare paws. You don’t need to strip off your footwear to test the roads or sidewalks. Here is what to do: place the back of your hand on the sidewalk and hold it there. If you can’t hold it for more than five seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Ouch! Watch out! Use the same test on the road or any pavement on which your dog will walk or play.

Remember that black absorbs heat and white reflects it. If you have checked the light coloured concrete or cement pavement with the back of your hand and found that it’s too hot, you needn’t bother checking darker coloured roads (blacktop or asphalt). It will be even hotter.

Watch Your Pooch for Signals of Discomfort

Your dog may be happy to go for a walk or play outside and may not show you that he or she is uncomfortable. Some pets usually don’t know their own limits and may try to cooperate by running for the ball even when they’re in distress. Watch for these signs:

  • High-stepping when walking on the road or sidewalk
  • Whimpering
  • Excessive drooling
  • Laboured breathing

If your pooch shows any of these signs, stop the walk or playtime. Make sure you are carrying a portable bowl and water in warm weather, lead them to a shady area, and let them drink up. Take your pooch home and help him or her cool down. Dogs sweat through their paws and cool down through them too, so you can help cool them off by letting him or her stand in a container or pool of cool water.

Here’s How to Exercise Your Dog in Very Warm Weather

You can keep your dog from overheating or burning his or her paws while you’re outside:

  • Find shady areas for your playtime and walk your dog on the grass, dirt, or gravel paths.
  • Avoid sidewalks and roads, especially those made of blacktop (asphalt) around noon or in the early afternoon when surfaces have been heated by the noonday sun.
  • Carry water and a portable bowl so that he or she can drink frequently.
  • Choose cool times of the day—early morning or evening—for walks and outdoor fun.
  • Watch your pet carefully so that they don’t overexert themselves when the summer temperatures rise.

You may need to take pooch out when it’s very hot and you live in an apartment or don’t have a yard:

  • Stay on grassy areas and limit the time he or she has to walk on sidewalks or roadways.
  • If your dog is small, you can pick them up to cross the road or hot surfaces.
  • You can buy tiny shoes to put on your dog’s feet (very cute, but not always functional).
  • Limit and supervise the time your dog spends outside.

Do your best to keep your dog from overheating or burning their little paws on hot sidewalks. Your pet is depending on you to see that their time spent outside on walks and playtime don’t result in dehydration, heat stroke, discomfort, or burns. Make sure you and your best friend have only fun in the sun! Visit your veterinarian if you notice discomfort, burns, blistering, or pad sloughing to ensure appropriate treatment is provided.

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.