How to Safely Do a Trail with Your Dog

If social distancing has been giving you cabin fever, you might be looking for safe ways to get out of the house. Going for a hike, or even a camping trip, can be a great way to get active outdoors, while keeping yourself safe. And, since your dog has probably gotten used to having you around all day, it’s only right to bring them along for the adventure!

Hiking and camping with a dog can be lots of fun, and a great bonding experience between an animal and their human. Before suiting the two of you up, though, it’s important to know exactly how to keep your furry friend safe when doing a trail.

Planning ahead and being prepared is extremely important when doing a trail with your dog, especially in more challenging trails, or unfamiliar terrain. However, beyond preparation for the basic necessities, there are some questions you need to ask yourself about your dog to ensure they’re up to the task.

Can my dog go hiking?

Something that’s important to recognize is that not all dogs are able to hike or walk more challenging trails. Understanding the condition and ability of your dog, and being realistic about their capability, will go a long way in keeping them safe. Some questions to ask yourself before taking your dog hiking:

  • Does your dog have any known health issues? This is one of the first questions to ask. If you want to go hiking with your furry friend, it’s important that they don’t have any existing health conditions. They also will need to be able to withstand temperature changes.
  • Is your dog very old or young? They may lack the strength and stamina to keep up for the whole hike. Additionally, their immune systems may make them more vulnerable in nature.
  • How will your dog behave on the trail? Some dogs can become very erratic or excited in nature, and may disobey commands. This is especially true for scent hounds, or any dog with a high prey drive. It might be possible to train your dog out of these habits, but there’s still always the risk of them tearing off into the brush after an especially enticing squirrel.
  • Has a vet recently cleared your dog for hiking? In addition to giving a check up on your dog’s general health, a vet can tell you about other ways to prepare for a hike. There are a number of preventative measures you can take to keep your pet safe, depending on the length, remoteness, and duration of your next hike. There are preemptive treatments available for pathogens your dog may pick up from drinking water, as well as for parasites, such as ticks. Your vet will be able to tell you which ones will be most suitable, depending on your destination.
  • Genetically speaking, is your dog a good hiker? Short-muzzled dogs, otherwise known as brachycephalic dogs, are generally not the greatest hikers. Although they may be all over a shorter walk, pugs, most bulldog breeds, and boxers should be left at home for more challenging trails. These breeds are particularly prone to heat stroke and fatigue, so use caution when bringing them along. 

Finding a dog-friendly trail

Are there dog-friendly trails in your area? Although it’s important to ensure that hikes are ‘dog-friendly,’ in that your pet is allowed there, you should also consider if the terrain will be suitable for your dog. Here a few things to consider when choosing your next hike: 

  • Is the terrain suitable for a dog’s feet? While there are steps you can take to protect your dog’s feet (more on that later), it’s best to just pick a trail with terrain that won’t be treacherous or painful for your dog. Avoid trails that are jagged or icy, or surfaces that will become excessively hot in the sun.
  • What will the temperatures be like? Although most dogs can withstand colder temperatures than us, they don’t usually do so well in extreme heat. If you’re looking at a more extended hike (especially a multi-day trip), try to either go at a cooler time of year, or pick a route with more shade.
  • What are the trail rules for dogs? While some trails allow well-behaved dogs to roam freely, others require them to stay leashed at all times, and some others don’t allow dogs at all. It’s important to do your research ahead of time, so you’re not surprised by upset hikers, or worse, a hefty fine. 

For even more suggestions on where to walk, be sure to check out our previous blog post on dog-friendly trails and parks! There are also even more tips on camping with your dog and even tips on keeping your pooch’s toes safe on sidewalks for you to check out!

Preparing your dog for a trail

You’ve gone over the checklist, and your dog is shaping up to be a great hiking buddy. However, there’s still work to do in order to keep you and your pet safe on the trails. Here are some of the best ways to prepare your dog for longer trails: 

1. Work your way up!

Properly preparing your dog for a hike is extremely important, no matter what level of challenge you’re expecting to face. One of the best ways to get your dog ready, especially for a more difficult hike, is to simply work your way up to it. Before taking your pal on a week-long backcountry excursion, start with a shorter, local trail. This is a good way to help with your dog’s general fitness, and it’ll also toughen up their paws for next time.

Not only will working your way up prepare your dog physically, it’ll help them adjust mentally to longer trails. Like humans, dogs need to learn their capabilities, and it’s a good idea to give them a chance to figure out how to manage their stamina while the stakes are still low.

You can also learn some valuable information by doing these trial trails. How does your dog react to wildlife, other hikers, or other dogs when hiking? How do they behave when they’re tired and need a break? These, and other logistical questions, can often be answered by doing a few preparatory trails before the main event.

2. Learn trail etiquette, and teach it to your dog 

If you’re bringing your dog on a hike, it’s important they don’t pose a nuisance, or a hazard, to those you’ll be sharing the trail with. If the route requires leashes, or if your dog might jump up at others, make sure to use a short lead. We recommend six feet or less, to minimize issues with tangling. If your dog is trained and unleashed, make sure they’re always within your sight, and that they can hear you.

Additionally, make sure you’re as courteous to other hikers as you can be. Keep your dog out of other people’s way, and teach them to heel at your command. Be sure to let other dog-owners know if yours is friendly, and find out ahead of time if the animals should be kept separate. This is important to do anywhere you bring your dog, but is especially important on trails, where medical help can be much further away.

3. Come prepared! 

You’ll need to come prepared with some supplies to ensure the safety and comfort of you and your dog when tackling a trail. Always be sure to pack lots of food and water, as well as any medication your dog may need. Be sure you’re stocked up on dog poop bags, or if you’re staying overnight, bring a shovel to bury the business (at least eight inches deep and 200 feet from any water source, trail, or campsite).

4. Protect the environment

While the great outdoors can be an amazing, exciting experience for a dog, it’s important to keep control of them. This is not just for their safety, but also to protect the environment around you. Areas of dense brush, as well as waterways, can sometimes be sensitive, and may be harmed or destroyed by rambunctious dogs. Not to mention, some plants are poisonous, and some animals bite back, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

As a side note, make sure you leave no trace when taking your dog on the trails. Nobody likes to see a bag of dog poop carelessly flung off the trail, so if you packed it in, be sure to pack it out.

Looking after your dog on the trail

Once you’re out there, you want to keep an eye on your dog, and stay aware of their condition. Be aware of hydration status of your dog. When dogs pant as a means to cool down, they also lose a lot of moisture during the process. If you’ve been walking for fifteen minutes, and your mouth is getting a bit dry, consider how your fur-covered friend feels! Likewise, just as you probably eat more when doing an extended hike, you should pack more food for your dog than they’d normally eat. Here’s a full list of the essentials to bring to safely do a trail with your dog:

  • Water and a collapsible bowl
    • Look up recommendations based on your dog’s breed for how much to bring, but it’s always better to have too much than not enough.
  • Dry food
    • A dry food that’s high in protein and fat will be the best way to keep their energy levels up, and the weight down. Plan to pack about fifty percent more than their normal portion.
  • First aid kit
    • This should include bandages, gauze, antiseptic (make sure it’s pet friendly), a liquid bandage for paw pads, topical antibiotics, tweezers or pliers, styptic pencils, and some kind of antihistamine in case of bee stings or snake bites.
  • Poop bags/shovel
  • A dog collar with their name, license number, your contact information, etc.
  • Heat stroke prevention
    • This can be ice or cold packs, or simply a bandanna that can be wet and placed on the dog’s neck or thigh to keep them cool.
  • Short leash
  • Doggy backpack
    • These can be found online, or in some pet supplies stores. Make sure it’s an appropriate size for your breed, and that it’s packed evenly.
  • A paw salve
    • Most important on longer hikes, this can be a good way to take care of your dog’s paw pads in case of cracks or splits.

Keeping your dog in top shape

Hiking with your dog is a great way for the two of you to get out of the house, get active, and enjoy the natural beauty of the great outdoors. Although there’s lot of preparation that goes into it, the reward of experiencing trails, hiking, and camping with a dog is something special, and more than worth the hassle.

If you have more questions about keeping your dog safe on a trail, want to get them evaluated for hiking, or anything else related to keeping your furry friend in top shape, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Hastings Veterinary Hospital today!

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

Valentine’s Day Safety Tips For Dogs

Be sure to check out, and take to heart, these Valentine’s Day safety tips for dogs. After all, what creature loves you more than your dog? (Probably none!) Although your feelings may be mutual, you may not realize there are expressions of love that are great for humans but can actually harm your beloved pooch. We want to alert you to the dangers that lurk around this day’s festivities so that you can make an environment free of potential hazards for your furry friend. Some of these tips can be applied to other holidays too!

Keep Chocolate and Chocolate Desserts Out of Reach

You may love chocolate in all its forms and be thrilled to receive a box of chocolates from your sweetheart. You may also plan a celebration dinner for a loved one or for your family that includes a yummy chocolate dessert. However, make sure you dog can’t possibly reach any of these sweet delights. Your pet would probably love to eat chocolate and other tasty treats like you, but unfortunately chocolate is toxic for dogs, especially dark chocolate. Here’s why:

  • Chocolate contains high levels of cocoa, caffeine, and theobromine (a dangerous food item for dogs).
  • The smaller the dog and the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. Theobromine will build up in a dog’s system because a pooch can’t metabolize it, and it can reach a toxic level that affects their nervous system and heart muscles.
  • 1/2 ounce or 15 grams of gourmet or baker’s chocolate will cause toxic effects in a mid-sized dog. It only takes 2 ounces or 50 grams to be fatal to an average-sized one.

 

With that in mind, here’s what you can do:

 

  • When cooking with chocolate or cocoa, keep it out of reach of your pooch and put it away as soon as you have finished using it.
  • If you receive a Valentine’s gift of chocolates, eat what you want and then put the gift in a cupboard with a door that your dog can’t open or on a shelf he or she can’t possibly reach.

If your small dog nips a chocolate candy before you can whisk away the danger, expect to see a range of symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Sugar-Free Candy & Desserts Are Not Get-Out-of-Trouble-Free Gifts for Pets

The problem with sugar-free candy and dessert is that they aren’t free of danger for your dog. Many of the familiar little candy-shaped hearts, gummies, and jellybeans we share on this holiday contain the sugar substitute xylitol, which is a polyalcohol compound that is highly toxic to dogs, as well as to cats and bunnies.

It’s best to keep all sweet treats and desserts away from pets. Stay on guard.

Toxic Plants and Thorny Flowers are a No-No

Any flower with thorns like roses —are dangerous to dogs for obvious reasons. The thorns can cause a painful gash in the skin. Don’t assume your curious dog will never get close enough to be hurt by thorns or that he or she won’t try and eat a thorny flower. Are they beautiful and colourful and have a great odour? Assume your dog will be attracted enough to get nice and close to them.

Ordinary lilies won’t cause much more than a tummy upset for a dog but the striped Barbados lily is poisonous, and so are begonias, the California ivy, and aloe, among other plants. The advice to dog owners is, if plants or flowers come your way on Valentine’s Day, make sure to put them out of your dog’s reach.

Get Rid of Shiny Packages and Wrappings

You aren’t the only one who loves beautifully wrapped gifts with ribbons; your dog appreciates them, too. In fact, it is a good idea to quickly put away any cellophane, shiny wrap, and ribbons before your dog decides to start chewing on them. Gift wrappings and ribbons that are swallowed can cause intestinal blockages even if they aren’t made out of materials that make them unsafe for your pet to ingest.

Any candy wrap is particularly dangerous because the candy flavour remains on the wrap, and your pet, especially if he or she is still a puppy, may decide the wrapping is the next best thing to wolfing down the candy itself.

Here are a Few More Potential Valentine’s Day Hazards

  • Candles – Your dog isn’t likely to mistake a candle for food (a young puppy might), even one that gives off the enticing odour of vanilla; however, candles and pets don’t mix well. There is always the danger of a curious pet or a happy one with a long wagging tail to come to grief with candles. Don’t leave them burning in a room without adult supervision or they may be knocked over by a curious animal.
  • Alcohol – Your dog may very likely drink alcohol left in glasses or spilled on surfaces. Be sure and clear away containers that hold any alcohol and clean up spills right away.
  • Sparkly Gifts – Yes, your pooch may love that sparkly necklace or ring as much as you do, and may decide to scoff it up if it is in reach. Your dog may even eat two or three of these sparkly items. Don’t take a chance; keep all such items out of reach too.

Watch for Signs Your Pooch Has Ingested Something Dangerous 

If you suspect your dog has eaten something that isn’t intended for dogs, do your best to track down the possible suspects so that you can report what it is to your veterinarian or to an emergency vet. Also, try and figure out how much of it you think he or she has consumed. These are the signs:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Excessive panting
  • Shakes and chills
  • Seizures
  • Laboured breathing
  • Coma
  • Weakness and confusion
  • Difficulty standing or lack of coordination

You don’t want to spend your Valentine’s Day or evening in an animal hospital, or sitting up with an unwell dog. Stay alert to the dangers to which your pet may be exposed and incorporate safety measures into your celebrations. You can show your dog lots of love during this holiday with nothing more than your time and companionship.

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

5 Ways to Prevent Holiday Dangers for Dogs

Happy holidays! Don’t forget to include your dog in the festivities. That being said, it is important to review your plans for the holidays and make sure seasonal dangers for pets can be prevented in your home.

To start, keep your pooch well protected and make sure that everyone in your home is on board with monitoring dog treats, gifts, and activities to make sure they are safe for dogs and to help keep the environment risk-free for your best friend.

1. Choose Safe Gifts and Healthy Treats for Dogs

When filling a holiday stocking for your pet, choose safe chew toys and healthy doggie treats that are easy to digest.

It’s easy to buy safe gifts for your dog as there are lots of choices such as comfy doggie beds, soft blankets, great brushes, decorative and colourful pet collars and leashes (including those that are reflective or light up with night safety LED lighting), and the ever-popular plush toys, squeaky toys, and balls for fetch-and-carry games. If your dog has a habit of eating plush toys, maybe this won’t be a good option for them. We have a whole blog post dedicated to finding that perfect safe toy or treat for your pooch if you’re interested!)

2. Be Careful With Decorations

  • If you want to have a decorated tree in your home, make sure it is securely fixed so that it can’t be knocked over by your energetic pooch. As well as using a sturdy container or stand, consider fastening it with fishing line to a curtain rod, the ceiling, or a doorframe; just make sure your pet doesn’t get tangled in it.
  • If your tree is a natural one sitting in a container of water, remember that the water, too, can be hazardous for your dog if there is any aspirin, sugar, or other additives in it. Try to find a stand with water that can be covered so only the tree can drink the water and not your dog.
  • Make sure all stringed lights and electrical cords are out of sight and out of reach so that your dog is not tempted to chew on them. See that everything is unplugged at night or whenever you leave the house.
  • Don’t use homemade decorations made of food products like salt dough or popcorn, and keep fragile decorations out of reach as broken pieces can be toxic to pets if swallowed and they can also cause internal and external injuries. The most suitable and safe decorations are those made of wood or fabric and fastened to the tree with string rather than wire hooks.
  • Candles should be kept up high on shelves where curious dogs can’t reach them. There should never be lit candles in a room if no responsible person is there to watch over them. Fortunately, there are artificial candles that flicker and crackle like real ones and can safely replace them.
  • Batteries and gadgets holding batteries must be kept away from your dog in case your pooch decides to chew on them. If you see a battery-operated gift, remote control, or a gadget with a battery missing, start a search for it right away. If you can’t find the battery, you must assume your dog has swallowed it and should take your dog to the veterinarian for help right away.
  • Keep potpourris out of reach, especially if liquid, as these usually contain essential oils and detergents that can burn your dog’s mouths, skin, and eyes.

3. Avoid Holiday Food Dangers

  • Dogs love sweets and are particularly drawn to the scent and taste of chocolate, which contains the compound theobromine. This ingredient is poisonous to them. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is, and chocolate of any kind is more dangerous for small dogs than large dogs. For example, consuming 400 grams of any chocolate can be fatal for average sized dogs as they don’t have the enzyme needed to digest and metabolize it.
  • All sweets are dangerous for dogs and so are candy wrappers and plastic lollypop sticks, which can cause choking and create an intestinal blockage if ingested. Candy and desserts intended for dieters may contain the artificial sweetener xylitol that can be poisonous to dogs and cause liver failure, watch out for the “no sugar added labels”. Keep all candy and sweets out of “paw reach.”
  • Don’t allow your pet to consume any alcohol and make sure your guests don’t decide it would be fun to see how your pet reacts with alcohol in his or her system. Yes, there are people who will actually offer alcohol to pets. Place unattended beverages where your pet can’t reach them.
  • Make sure everyone, including guests, are aware that your pet can’t be fed any table scraps or leftover snacks, and make sure these are safely discarded when people have finished eating. Many foods that are safe for human are hard for dogs to digest, can cause intestinal problems such as bloating, gas, vomiting, and diarrhea, and can be poisonous to them. Rather than read a list to your guests of what your pet mustn’t be fed, request that no table scraps or snacks be offered or dropped invitingly on the floor. As an alternative you can give your guests appropriate treats to offer during dinner time if needed.
  • Don’t leave leftover food around to tempt your dog. Clear your tables and counters, see that your garbage can has a tight fitting lid, and take out the trash to make sure your dog can’t get into it.
  • Watch for symptoms of food poisoning—vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, and poor coordination—and take your dog to the veterinarian for help immediately if you see these warning signs in your pet.

4. Keep Certain Christmas Plants Out of Reach

  • Mistletoe and holly with its bright red berries are dangerous to pets if ingested, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea and heart arrhythmia. Poinsettias and Christmas cactus are not nearly as dangerous, but they should still be presented and used with caution since they can still cause drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Other holiday plants you should avoid having around are amaryllis, calla and peace lilies, balsam, pine, and cedar, which can also cause digestive problems for dogs.
  • Substitute artificial plants made of silk or plastic if you want to add the “plant touch” to your holiday decorating plans.

5. Plan Pet-Safe Holiday Entertainment

  • Arrange a holiday safe zone where your pooch can always retreat so that you don’t have a stressed-out pet. Set up a room where your dog can hide from the noise of loud people and loud music when you are entertaining. Leave food, water, some favourite toys, and a comforting mat, blanket, or bed in which he or she can snuggle.
  • Explain the dangers of human food and beverages for dogs to all guests and make sure visiting children understand and are aware of the dangers, too.
  • If your dog is inclined to make a dash for the door whenever it is opened, install a baby gate to make sure your pet can safely greet guests from behind it.

By working together with everyone in your home, you can prevent holiday dangers for your dog when you choose gifts and treats for your pooch and keep pet safety in mind when choosing decorations, plants, and food. Be careful about leftover food on tables and counters and the disposal of it. When everything is in place for the holidays, look around and see if anything presents a possible danger to your dog, or if your pooch could come to harm in any of the rooms accessible to him or her. You don’t want a trip to the veterinarian to be on your list of holiday events!

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

Weird Things Dogs Eat and Why They Eat Them

We love our pet dogs, but sometimes they eat some pretty weird things! As dog owners it’s natural to worry about the health and safety of our pets, especially if we see gross, disgusting items disappearing into their mouths and then being swallowed before we can stop it from happening.

Will that horrible stuff make our doggies sick? We can’t help but worry, worry, worry! However, many of the non-food items dogs choose to eat are neither dangerous nor worrisome. There are others, however, that do require our immediate attention and even a trip to the veterinarian. If your dog consumes something large that can’t pass through the intestines in 10 to 24 hours, a blockage may be occurring which can be life-threatening.

Non-Food Items Dogs Consume

Did you know there are actually terms for why this may happen? In fact, there are two major names to describe the behaviour of dogs eating weird things:

  1. Pica – Pica is the general term for non-nutritive items that dogs may eat. These can range from sand, grass, dirt, paper, chalk, rocks, socks (yes, they may actually swallow socks!), and plastic, as well as toxic items. Eating some peculiar things can be a signal that your dog has a health problem you should be aware of, such as nutritional deficiencies in his or her diet or an electrolyte imbalance. Of course, some of the things we’ve listed here are definitely dangerous items for your pet to eat.
  1. Coprophagia – This is a particular form of pica that most people find altogether revolting, and it is the consumption of feces. However, there are usually good reasons for dogs to engage in this behaviour, which is the most common form of pica.
  • Mother dogs lick their puppies’ bottoms to keep them clean and to encourage them to urinate and defecate. In other words, mothers become used to the taste and smell of poop, and it continues to be a familiar food item for them. Coprophagia is normal behaviour for female dogs.
  • This is unlikely but dogs may often eat feces to keep their kennels or living spaces clean.
  • Sometimes the nutritional needs of dogs are not being met and they eat feces in an effort to improve their diets. Cat feces in particular is high in protein because the diet of cats, unlike that of dogs, usually features a lot of meat. Dogs, therefore, may consider cat poop a gourmet food item! However, eating the feces of other animals is not safe. Make sure your veterinarian knows about this behaviour. 

There are Several Reasons for Pica to Develop in Dogs

Aside from the reasons for coprophagia, there are endless questionable items that dogs ingest for a variety of reasons:

  1. Attention-Seeking – Your dog may simply be seeking attention because he or she feels neglected. If this is the case, unwanted behavior like eating weird items can be overcome by paying more attention to, and playing more frequently with, your pet.
  2. Stress – Anxiety and stress can cause your dog to develop compulsive behavioural patterns, one of which can be pica. Dogs often become anxious when changes occur in the household: a new person comes to live in the house, or a familiar person moves out; a new pet is introduced into the family; or you move to another residence. In time, the problem will disappear.
  3. Curiosity – Dogs are as curious as humans are! Puppies are especially prone to investigating and sampling new delights—or horrors—and will probably grow out of their tendency to try eating everything in sight by six months or so. If not, be on the lookout for reasons other than curiosity and experimentation.
  4. Health Needs – In the off chance your dog has health issues that need to be addressed, pica should never be ignored. You should consult your veterinarian if your older pooch tries to eat the same type of item again and again or shows a craving for feces. An examination can rule out a nutritional need or an electrolyte imbalance.

Symptoms That Should Alarm Owners

If your pooch presents these symptoms and you aren’t sure what was eaten, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately:

  1. Vomiting and diarrhea
  2. Pain and tenderness in the abdomen
  3. Constipation and straining to defecate
  4. Severe disinterest in food
  5. A lack of energy
  6. Snapping or growling when picked up

Worry if Your Dog Consumes These Items

  1. Batteries – Batteries or any small item containing batteries must be kept out of reach of your pet because battery acid is very corrosive. If you find a remote control or any battery-operated gadget on the floor and the battery has been punctured, take your dog to the veterinarian. If the battery has disappeared altogether, you have to assume it has been swallowed and your dog needs immediate medical attention.
  2. Pills or Medication – Pills or any other medication for humans or animals are always a worry, and most are highly toxic for pets.
  3. Plastic Objects – Items made of plastic are often attractive to dogs, and if swallowed, can become a blockage. Broken plastic pieces can cut your dog’s mouth or puncture their insides.
  4. Fabric – Socks, string, underwear, or any item made of fabric can stretch out in the abdomen and then bunch up and cause a blockage.
  5. Toxic Items – Toxic items include any cleaners or home care items that are poisonous or corrosive, both for humans and animals.
  6. Some Food Items Intended for Humans – Make sure you know what food for humans is safe for your pet and keep every other type of food out of reach. Such items as chocolate, alcohol, coffee, artificial sweeteners, nuts, avocadoes, onions, raisins, and grapes must always be kept away from dogs. A more in-depth list of foods you shouldn’t feed your dog can be found in our previous blog post.

Don’t Worry If Your Dog Consumes These Weird Items

  1. Flies and Moths – these can be fun for dogs to catch and eating them won’t hurt your pet
  2. Ice Cubes – are fine and can even help dogs keep cool on a hot day, just be careful they don’t swallow them whole.
  3. Dust Balls – these are a strange choice, but not a problem and your dog may be interested in the salty taste or the interesting texture
  4. Grass – this is fine unless it is an ongoing pastime, which usually signals a nutritional need, the presence of worms, a need for fibre, or a need to improve digestion

What You Can Do About Pica

If your dog routinely eats weird things, make sure your veterinarian knows what they are to rule out medical reasons for your pet’s behaviour. Once these medical reasons are ruled out, the next step would be implementing specific types of training to avoid this.

  • Keep toxic and poisonous items away from your dog. Put them up high, in closets, and behind doors that your pet can’t push open.
  • Pick things up from the floor, hang them up, put them away, and make sure there is nothing around that your pet can eat or chew on without your noticing. If you catch your dog in the act of eating things like dust balls, do not yell at or scold your pooch. Instead, simply pick up the item and remove it from their sight, or dispose of it.
  • If your pet eats the feces of animals outdoors, make sure your veterinarian knows so that a parasite test can be performed on your dog.
  • If you can’t stop your dog from eating sticks and stones, garbage, and anything within reach, you may have to use a muzzle when your dog is taken outside, but this should only be used as a last resort.

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

Why You Should Never Feed Your Dog from the Dinner Table

Why must you resist your sweet dog’s pleading eyes as he or she begs for food at the dinner table? No matter how cute your pooch looks, it is important that you stay strong and resist the temptation. It’s not safe to feed table scraps to your furry friend and doing so can lead to a variety of health problems. It can also promote bad behaviours not only from your dog, but from people too.

Problems Stem from Feeding Your Dog Table Scraps

It is hard to resist feeding table scraps from the dinner table to your pooch, but the problems that can result put your pet’s health and life at risk. Consider the behavioural, social, and physical problems that you will be encouraging by this practice.

Behavioral and Social Problems

Behavior and social issues can result from providing food anywhere but in your dog’s own bowl and will introduce bad habits to your dog and also to you. 

  • Begging works – Are you training your pet or is your pooch training you? Your dog will learn very quickly that pleading eyes, sitting and staring at you, nudging, jumping up, running around, whining, crying, or barking will result in table scraps being offered by permissive human hands. Other times, food will drop from the table or during meal preparation or cleanup, and will be left for him or her to scoop up. Can’t anyone find the broom? It is so easy to let a doggie clean the floor, and it teaches your pet to hang around at meals and snack times.
  • Constant meal disruptions – Once your dog knows that begging works, you will never again enjoy any peace when you are eating at the table, snacking anywhere, or whenever you are cooking.
  • Difficulty re-training – If you accept begging behaviour at any point, it will be hard to reverse the practice. Not only will you be subjected to ongoing begging, but also all your guests will be, too!
  • Refusing dog food – Your dog may learn to enjoy food for humans more than food for dogs and you could eventually have trouble getting your pooch to eat anything but food for humans. Picky eaters aren’t fun to have around, especially if you are about to enjoy a meal that is unsafe or toxic for your little pet. Try explaining that to your pooch.
  • Guest problems – Guests may think your pet’s begging practices are so cute that they begin to slip food to your dog without your noticing and could inadvertently feed him or her something that is toxic and dangerous or simply food that causes a tummy ache or diarrhea. You and your dog will be left to deal with the consequences.
  • Stealing food – Your dog may believe that because any table scraps and food dropped can be eaten, any food put on or left on the table, counters, or anywhere else is fair game. Your pet will simply take and eat whatever can be reached. Do you know exactly how far your dog can reach, standing on his or her hind legs with paws outstretched? Watch out!

Health Problems

Dinner table feeding can cause a variety of health problems and they don’t take long to develop. 

  • Dietary issues – Your dog could learn to love food for humans so much he or she could become dependant on it and refuse to eat dog food. Now you have to worry about feeding your dog a balanced diet from miscellaneous table scraps. Dog food suppliers make sure they are offering balanced diets for pets, but you would have to figure it all out for yourself. Does that sound like fun?
  • Food intake calculations – If you allow a moderate amount of feeding from the dinner table, you have to factor in the amount of calories and food content that your dog is receiving and reduce the amount of dog food your pet receives.
  • Weight problems – Remember, a dog will eat almost anything you put in front of him or her. If you miscalculate the amount of food your dog receives at the table and the amount of dog food you supply, your dog could become overweight. If your dog puts on undesirable extra pounds for his or her size, age, and breed, these kinds of problems could develop:
    • Bone, joint, ligament problems, and mobility issues
    • Heart disease and breathing problems
    • Reduced liver function
    • A shortened life

Danger, Danger!

If you decide to feed your dog table scraps knowing the dangers, set yourself and your family a few basic rules and stick to them. Make a list of what is permitted, what is undesirable, and what is forbidden, and see that your family and friends are on board. Offer only moderate amounts of food and make sure you adjust the servings of dog food and treats your pet receives accordingly.

Permitted: Offer only healthy food items such as cereals; steamed or cooked potatoes; rice; cooked eggs; cheese; peanut butter; cooked, chopped beef, chicken, or turkey (no bones!); some fruits like bananas, berries, and seedless watermelon; and vegetables, chopped, cooked, and unseasoned.

Undesirable: Do not offer junk food such as potato chips, fries, pizza, cake, cookies, or fried or oily foods. 

Forbidden: Forbidden foods are those toxic to dogs, and include avocados, onions—and any food prepared with them—many common seasonings such as garlic and chives, alcohol of any kind, coffee, tea, energy drinks, chocolate and candy, bones, grapes, raisins, nuts, the pits of peaches and plums, and foods that contain artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol—usually junk foods and beverages.

Keep forbidden foods out of the reach of your pet. If your dog suddenly begins severe vomiting or diarrhea, or shows signs of coordination problems, lethargy, depression, shortness of breath, tremors, or seizures, do a quick investigation around your home to see if you can identify a food or beverage culprit. Call your dog’s veterinarian for advice or take your dog to an emergency hospital.

In general, you should not feed your dog from the dinner table or offer food designed for humans because many foods can be unsafe or poisonous to animals, and can cause a variety of health problems, as well as lead to bad behaviours. Keep your best friend safe!

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

How Do I Socialize My Dog & When Should I Start?

When we say socialize your dog, we mean teaching your puppy to mingle with humans and other animals. Socializing your dog will help them adjust to their surroundings via exposing your pet to different people and pets, as well as to a good variety of situations, sounds, environments, and objects.

Socializing your dog should begin as soon as possible, as it will teach dogs to become used to normal daily events and to react positively to their environments.

Socialization Includes Huge Benefits for Dogs

When he or she is properly socialized, your dog will adjust to changes in the surrounding environment without becoming disturbed by what is seen, heard, and encountered, resulting in good manners and happiness.

  • Your dog will not be fearful of new people, pets, places, and experiences.
  • Socialization will shape your dog into a good companion who is well-domesticated and well-behaved for life.
  • The possibility of your dog developing separation anxiety is greatly reduced.
  • If your dog must leave you for some reason, he or she will have an easier time adjusting to a new caregiver and home.

Dog Training Should Start Early for Best Results

  • It is best to start socialization in the first four months of your dog’s life. Puppies are very impressionable and will try hard to please their pet parents.
  • Dog training will have to continue throughout your pet’s life, although it should begin right away—the sooner, the better. At different stages of development and whenever introducing new experiences, you will have to teach your dog new social skills, for example not to chew on your shoes and not to snap at children.
  • If your dog begins to jump up on you or on guests as a greeting, move in close to reduce the jumping distance and firmly and loudly say, “No jumping.” Instruct your guests not to speak or make eye contact until your pooch has become calm. Give treats and praise when that happens. You can read more dog jumping prevention tips here.
  • If your dog chews or bites, firmly and loudly say, “no,” and stop the activity, or remove the object being chewed (or remove the dog from the area).
  • Avoid visiting dog parks until your pooch has had all of their required vaccinations. You don’t want your puppy to play with dogs that may be unhealthy. Create other safe opportunities for your dog to meet and mingle with other dogs.
  • Don’t believe the phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Actually, you can! Even if your dog was not with you during those early, most teachable months and years, you can still help your older dog form new, positive associations with what may have been frightening experiences in the past. Slowly introduce your dog to new sights, sounds, smells, and people, and offer treats and praise to help your pooch overcome unpleasant associations.

There are Serious Risks for Dogs Not Properly Socialized

These are the characteristics of adult dogs who have not been properly socialized:

  • Fear of many situations such as playful children, or riding in a car
  • Aggression towards strangers and other animals
  • Anxiety when hearing unusual sounds or having new experiences
  • Antisocial behaviour including not being able to interact comfortably with new people or animals in general
  • Separation anxiety in some cases

It is a risk to pets if behavioural issues result from insufficient socialization, meaning your dog will be less safe if they’re always afraid of strangers or if they’re constantly unfriendly to other animals. Socialization in dogs can reduce these risks in the following ways:

  • If your dog becomes lost, your pooch will not be afraid of or run from people who try to rescue and care for your pet until you can be located.
  • Your dog will not be hostile towards all dogs who approach him or her, and therefore will be less willing to fight more aggressive dogs.

Use These Steps to Successfully Socialize Your Dog

  • Daily walks are important. Don’t forget to bring poop bags and clean up after your dog when walking or in any public area. Take your pooch on a short leash for walks using different routes. This will help them encounter different sights and sounds and become used to traffic, animals, and people, both young and old. Don’t forget that most humans, other than babies, are bigger than your dog.
  • Start slowly with only a few new experiences and a few new human and animal encounters each week. Gradually move to bigger crowds and more public experiences.
  • Over time, make sure your pup gets used to having his or her body handled and that they react well to affectionate pats and ear and tail fondling. Don’t push these actions too fast and watch your dog for signs of nervousness such as heavy panting, yawning, tucking their tail between their legs, and straining on the leash.
  • Your dog should become used to bodies of water—large and small—and puddles, beaches, parks, woods, and urban areas.
  • Introduce the sights and sounds of bicycles, strollers, baby buggies, skateboards, trucks, buses, and cars, as well as Frisbees, footballs, and other toys.
  • Make sure your pet becomes used to walking on different surfaces, such as grass, tile, cement, carpet, and hardwood.
  • When your pet encounters some new sight or sound—a police siren, a raccoon, a pigeon—be calm, have treats ready and lots of praise: “Good dog,” “Good boy,” “Good girl.” Remember, dogs can interpret your emotional state and if you are nervous or fearful, your dog will react the same way.
  • Once your pet has had their required vaccinations, you are ready for the dog park where your puppy will meet new friends. Use caution and don’t expect your little dog (if they are little) to enjoy meeting a huge one unless you are by his or her side. After your dog has made a new friend and behaved well, be sure and give your dog a treat and praise.
  • When your dog is trained to come when you call and you are confident about it, you can take your pet to an off-leash park to meet new friends on his or her own under your supervision.
  • Dog training classes are great for busy people who want specific instructions on training and whose schedules are limited. These classes also provide socialization opportunities with the other puppies and dogs.

Socialization, i.e. teaching your dog how to behave in various situations and environments with people and animals, will shape your dog into a happy, well-adjusted, and well-mannered companion who is obedient and confident. What could be better?

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

How Often Should My Dog’s Ears Be Cleaned?

This is one question our vets get asked a lot! Your dog’s ears need to be cleaned only as per recommendation of your veterinarian, or when there are signs of an ear problem. In any case, your dog’s veterinarian should always be the one to make the diagnosis and take care of the problem with treatment and any ear cleaning necessary.

What Can I Use to Clean My Dog’s Ears?

This is another frequently asked question we get, and the answer is: not a whole lot, and for a very good reason. It is actually not a good idea to try to clean your dog’s ears yourself; cleaning may not even be necessary.

Let us explain. The cleanliness of your pet’s ears, in general, depends on your dog’s breed, coat, activities, age, and the amount of earwax produced. Your dog’s ears may be floppy, long, short, or stick right up, and there may be a lot of thick hair, or the hair in the ears may be thin and sparse. Whatever it may look like on the outside, however, on the inside, a dog’s ear canal is always L-shaped with vertical and horizontal portions, which makes cleaning difficult. That means you should never take on this job yourself. There is a lot of potential to create a problem when there may be no reason for concern.

A professional groomer will be happy to remove thick hair in the external ear and around the ear canal opening to reduce chances of water or pollutants being trapped inside, but will not venture further into a dog’s ear than a half inch. If your dog displays any symptoms of ear problems, don’t go to a groomer but to your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Many dogs never need to have their ears cleaned. As a pet parent, your job is to make sure your pet’s ears are dried well after swimming or splashing in the water, and to watch for signs and symptoms of ear problems. Your veterinarian can advise you on whether or not your dog’s ears need grooming to keep shaggy hair out of them before the excess hair causes problems.

Ear Problems in Dogs Can be Triggered in Several Ways

There are lots of do-it-yourself (DIY) instructions for cleaning your pet’s ears online, but don’t follow them. It is best that you examine your dog’s ears routinely for discharge or redness and sniff them for odor, and leave the cleaning to an expert. There are too many concerns with taking on this job yourself, including the fact that your dog may not be very cooperative if you try!

Here is why dog ear problems can develop:

  • Excessive hair in and around the ears or excessive earwax can make it difficult for your dog’s ears to dry out well after water gets into them.
  • Ear mites, a foreign object stuck in the ear, tumours or polyps, or water trapped in the ears can lead to bacterial or yeast infections.
  • Ear cleaning too frequently can cause irritation of the skin inside your dog’s ears, which can lead to an infection.
  • Ear cleaning with the improper tools, such as a poor cleaning solution or not enough cleaning solution, or Q-tips can all be sources of infections.
  • Allergies, hypothyroidism, or a ruptured ear drum can all cause ear problems.

Signs and Symptoms of Dog Ear Problems

Keep in mind that floppy-eared breeds such as basset hounds, retrievers, and spaniels are more prone to ear infections. If this is your dog’s breed, then you should be diligent about checking their ears often. Take your dog to the vet if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Excessive ear scratching
  • Frequent head shaking or head tilting
  • A foul smell from the ears; a strong, very unpleasant smell usually indicates a bacterial infection; a musty smell, like moldy bread, usually means a yeast infection
  • Loss of balance or walking in circles
  • Discharge from ears that is yellow, brownish, black specked, or bloody
  • A scabby or waxy or brownish build up in the ear folds or the ear canal
  • Hearing loss
  • Ear sensitivity, i.e. the dog avoids having anyone touch their ears

Veterinarians Test for Dog Ear Problems and Treat Them Carefully

Your veterinarian will examine your pet’s ears and may take a sample for further examination under a microscope. Further testing may also be required if the cause of the ear problems are not readily apparent.

The main problem could be affecting the outer ear, but may involve the middle or inner ear as well. Outer ear problems can be treated easily, but when an infection spreads to the middle or inner ear, treatment takes longer and your dog’s balance and hearing can be affected. As well, inner ear infections can cause a lot of pain to dogs.

The usual treatments for infections and other ear problems are:

  • Medication, which can be either oral or topical or both, and may be antibiotic or antifungal depending on the problem. A bacterial infection will be treated with an antibiotic. A fungal infection, such as a yeast infection, will be treated with an antifungal medication. Corticosteroids may be used in addition to antibiotic or antifungal medications.
  • A veterinary prescription will be needed for pain and possibly steroids for inflammation
  • Ear flushing may be recommended by your vet for infections.
  • Further testing for allergies or complicated or chronic problems by a dermatologist may be necessary.

If your dog is a very shaggy breed and there is a lot of hair in your pet’s ears, ask your groomer to remove the hair in and around the ear canal. Otherwise, carefully examine your pet’s ears as part of your regular at-home dog ear care program, and wait until you see symptoms of a problem, which may never happen (fingers crossed!).

We cannot state it enough. If you should see any of the symptoms or signs listed above, leave the diagnosis to your veterinarian. If cleaning your dog’s ears is necessary, you can rest assured it will be done correctly and no further problems occur.

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

Are There Supplements/Natural Remedies that Would Help My Dog?

This is a question our veterinary staff gets asked a lot at our clinic! Dogs are dependent on their pet parents to supply everything necessary for them to be healthy and happy. They need a healthy diet to support growth, healthy bones and teeth, a shiny thick coat, a strong immune system to ward off diseases, and a high energy level.

Safe supplements can be added to your dog’s food to improve its nutritional value and to assist in the treatment of various health issues. As well, there are many natural remedies that can be introduced to enhance a dog’s happiness and well-being, or are starting to develop problems as they age.

It’s best that you always consult your veterinarian about supplements and natural remedies. 

Quality food for your dog is a good investment and it is important for your dog to have a high-quality well-balanced diet.

Specific problems require special supplements

  • Glucosamine – This is the most commonly recommended supplement for dogs with stiff joints and mobility issues or for dogs with arthritis. It helps to reduce inflammation.
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids – This is the second most popular supplement. It essential fatty acids that are needed to improve a dog’s coat, skin health, and help reduce inflammation.
  • Antioxidants – These supplements, such as vitamins C and E, help reduce the negative effects of aging, improve memory, reduce the risk of heart disease, and reduce inflammation. Good quality well balance diets contain these important supplements.
  • Probiotics – These supplements increase the growth of good bacteria and yeasts that live in the digestive system. Probiotics are especially important to restore balance in the digestive system after a stressful incident such as vomiting, diarrhea, or the use of antibiotics, etc.

Be cautious with supplements

  • Use only supplements made for animals and prescribed by your veterinarian. Never substitute the dog supplements with those intended for human consumption; those are sometimes dangerous for dogs.
  • Carefully follow the dosages at the direction of your veterinarian. Never exceed the recommended doses.
  • Remember that supplements do not produce overnight results. Be patient and expect results to show up slowly with regular usage over time.
  • Don’t ever expect impossible claims to be true. Supplements cannot replace prescription medication when your dog is ill, and they cannot cure cancer or any other serious disease.

Add to Your Pet’s Health and Happiness with Natural Remedies

We all know that it is important for your pet’s health and happiness to provide a balanced diet, and to give your pet as much companionship as your schedule will allow, coupled with sufficient daily exercise. However, there are natural remedies you can also use to keep your four-legged best friend mentally healthy and alert and to calm your pet when necessary.

  1. Change-up the exercise routine to keep your dog alert. Dogs love routine and, when you start on your walk, will turn and pause at all the usual places; however, it is a good idea to introduce some variety now and then. Take a new route or reverse the one you usually take.
  • If throw-and-fetch makes your pooch happy, find a place where you can play the game with a ball or a Frisbee or another suitable toy.
  • If your dog loves to splash in the water, head to the beach or a place where dogs are welcome to swim and enjoy the water.
  • Add a few extra short walks to your day, or take doggy on a run, or to a park where he or she can run off-leash.
  • Allow your dog time to stop and smell the roses or the stinky stuff—but stop him or her from eating or rolling in whatever it is!
  1. Mental stimulation. Give your dog some opportunities for mental exercise and stimulation.
  • Dog parks are great places for your pooch to interact with other dogs.
  • If your dog doesn’t make friends easily, try the occasional doggy date with a friendly neighbourhood dog and owner.
  • Teach your dog tricks to help spice up his or her life. Start with the basic commands of “sit,” “stay,” and “down,” and to come when his or her name is called. You can then move on to teaching your dog to shake hands, roll over and play dead, or to bark on command. You will need lots of patience and treats, and a signal such as snapping your fingers, or a hand signal, or a word. Keep the sessions short—no more than 10 minutes—and stop if you or your dog find yourselves losing patience or stressing out.
  • Add new toys and interactive puzzle toys to your doggy’s toy box.
  1. Music can help calm a stressed dog. If you have a nervous dog or one that becomes anxious when travelling or when a routine is changed, try adding some music to the scene. Yes, dogs do like music, especially classical music. Bach is particularly soothing and seems to be a favourite with most animals. Interestingly, they don’t react well to heavy metal, rock, hip hop, or jazz.
  1. Massages and grooming. Grooming your pet is great for bonding, and so are massages.
  • Grooming: Use a brush daily or as often as you can to keep your dog’s coat clean, to keep it free of mats and tangles, and to reduce unpleasant smells.
  • Relaxing: You can help dogs relax by petting and massaging them when they are stressed, such as during a thunderstorm or when they are restless. Pet your dog from the top of the head with long, even strokes down the spine and over the tail. Repeat this motion several times, increasing the pressure gradually—but not on the lower spine—and then rest your hands on the head and the high point on your dog’s hips. These areas control relaxation responses.
  • Sore joints: Massage can ease the stiffness and pain in a dog’s joints resulting from overexertion, inactivity, or aging. Pet the areas around the joints to warm the locations and then apply gentle compression to them. Finish off by gently petting and stroking the areas again.

Supplements can be added to increase the nutritional value of your dog’s diet and to ease various health problems. Be sure and check with your veterinarian to make sure the choices being made are appropriate ones. Other natural remedies can be used to enhance your pet’s well-being, alertness, and happiness. At the end of the day, your dog will reward you with a wagging tail and lots of affection!

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Why Does My Dog Smell Bad?

When you first realize your dog has a bad odor, it’s natural to maybe feel embarrassed and also worried! However, there are several causes for that bad smell, and you can do something about it besides frantically bathing your poor pooch over and over again.

The first step is to understand the many reasons dogs develop a bad odor, to note the source, and to recognize the symptoms your dog is exhibiting. Once you know the possible causes, and in certain cases received help from your dog’s veterinarian, you will be able to cure or control the smell.

Problems, Symptoms, and Treatments for Your Dog’s Bad Smell

1. Skin Issues. Skin problems can range from canine seborrhea (oily skin with dandruff), allergies, a hormone imbalance, a fungus, parasites, dermatitis, and scratches or bites that become infected, or moist skin folds that become a site for bacterial growth.

  • Symptoms – One of the first signs of skin issues is a bad skin odor that might be rancid, or musty, or stinky cheese smelling, followed by your dog’s excessive scratching and/or licking, a rash, flaking skin, or thinning hair.
  • Treatments – For any skin problems it’s best you consult with your dog’s veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. As there are so many possible causes of skin issues, the treatments can vary from one condition to another. This may include external and/or internal medication for infections and dermatitis, to treatments for parasites or a fungus, to a change in diet, or for problems related to hormone imbalances, and allergies. Skin folds, especially for bulldogs, pugs, or any dog with overlapping folds, need careful and regular cleaning to keep them clean and dry.  Your dog needs to be bathed often enough to keep the skin and hair and skin folds smelling sweet but not so often that there is not enough natural oil to prevent skin irritations. Your veterinarian can advise you on how much is too much or not enough.

2. Ear Infections. Bacterial infections can be caused by a lack of ear cleanliness and too much wax, or because there is a lot of hair in and around your dog’s ears which keeps them from drying out easily—and your dog loves splashing in the water!

  • Symptoms – A light, yeasty odor usually means your dog’s ears need cleaning, but an ear infection is indicated by a really strong, unpleasant smell and your dog may also start shaking his head more so than usual.
  • Treatments – An ear infection can be quite painful, and is serious business. You need to take your pooch to the veterinarian right away so that the pain can be eased with medication and the problem cleared up.  

3. Bad Breath. Your dog’s bad breath should never be ignored. It may be caused by a dental problem, such as a build-up of heavy tartar, a dental infection, or periodontal (gum) disease. Any of these problems are not only painful, but can also they can lead to more serious mouth infections. Bad breath in dogs can also indicate gastrointestinal issues, liver or kidney problems, or diabetes.

  • Symptoms – As well as bad breath, a dog with dental or mouth problems may have red or bleeding gums. Teeth might become loose and dogs may shy away from having their heads touched.
  • Treatments – You should take your dog to the vet to see if the bad breath is coupled with dental or gum disease and, if so, your veterinarian can help solve the problem. If not, your veterinarian will test for other problems, which may require medication or other treatments.

4. Yeast Infection. An overgrowth of yeast is a fairly common problem for dogs and causes a pungent, musty smell that will remind you of moldy bread or cheese popcorn, and can result in ear problems, stinky paws, and smelly skin.

  • Symptoms – As well as the yeasty odor, itchy paws, itchy ears, and butt scooting—because of an itchy butt—are the usual symptoms of a yeast infection.
  • Treatments – Yeast are opportunistic infections that can occur on your pet’s paws, ears, or skin folds. A yeast infection usually indicates an underlying problem that creates inflammation of the skin, such as allergies. Your veterinarian can prescribe the best treatment, which usually involves either a topical or oral antifungal medication.

5. Gas Problems – A big increase in the normal amount of gas that your dog expels—flatulence—and an increase in burping and gurgling usually indicates an intestinal problem, which may be caused by various foods or from an inflammatory bowel disease.  

  • Symptoms – There are breeds of dogs with flat noses, such as bulldogs, pugs, and boxers, that are well-known for gas issues because the structure of their faces causes them to draw in a lot of air when they are eating, which leads to an excess of air in their digestive systems. However, if gas increases in frequency and intensity in any breed, there may be bowel issues to address.
  • Treatments – It is best to consult your veterinarian to see if pooch is suffering from an irritated bowel problem and to recommend the best diet for your dog’s breed.

6. Anal Gland Odors – Impacted anal glands, which are located on both sides of your dog’s rectum, cause an odor like rotting fish that won’t go away with bathing. These glands contain an oily secretion that is released during your dog’s bowel movements.

  • Symptoms – If the glands become infected or filed with thicker secretions than usual, they can’t be emptied fully, and are painful for your dog.  The extremely foul odor will be left on pooch’s bed and blankets and anywhere he or she sleeps or rests.
  • Treatments – Your veterinarian can empty these glands to bring relief to your dog and will suggest dietary changes to reduce sensitivities to foods causing the problem.

7. Urinary Tract Infections – Just as humans can develop urinary tract or bladder infections, dogs can too and they are just as painful for dogs as they are for us.

  • Symptoms – Your dog may smell like urine and may want to go outside more frequently, may drink more water than usual, and may show signs of straining or pain when urinating. In some cases there may be blood in the urine.
  • Treatments – Your veterinarian will check your dog for infections, kidney stones, and diabetes, and will prescribe the appropriate medication to deal with the pain and the problem.

8. Inadequate Grooming – If he or she isn’t bathed and brushed often enough, your pooch will carry the odor of everything smelly in which he or she has rolled, run through, and come in contact with. Rolling is a natural behavior and not one your dog has dreamed up to irritate you.

  • Symptoms – The odor will be unpleasant, such as the smell of feces, and changes from one day to the next, depending on where your dog has been.
  • Treatments – A good dog shampoo will remove these odors. Give your dog a daily brushing in between baths. Brushing removes dead skin, dirt, and smelly particles in your dog’s hair and on the skin. It’s also a great way to bond with your dog in general!

9. Wet Dog Smell – No matter how well-groomed your dog is, when wet, suddenly all kinds of unpleasant odors surface.

  • Symptoms – The dog smells fine until wet.
  • Treatments – No, the cure isn’t simply to towel-dry your pooch. A hair dryer or the warm sun will thoroughly dry the skin and hair, which is what is needed.

10. Other Terrible Odors – for example if a skunk sprays your dog, you will know by the horrible smell that’s like no other!

  • Treatments – A good shampoo will take care of most bad odors, but not skunk spray. Forget all the home remedies such as bathing stinky pooch in tomato juice, and head straight to the pet store for a shampoo designed to remove skunk odors. It should be used within 30 minutes for best results.

Don’t worry if your dog develops a bad odor. Look for other symptoms and try to identify the particular smell. There is always a reason for it and there is always a solution. Your veterinarian can help.

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

Tips for Handling Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Does your dog usually cry and bark a lot when they’re home alone? Do you ever discover a mess when you come home after a long day of work—and no one was home except your dog? These are a few classic symptoms of what’s known as separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety in dogs is not a problem that can be taken lightly as the symptoms are so distressing to their owners, they can’t be ignored. It’s very upsetting to see your precious pet so unhappy! If you notice any separation anxiety symptoms, you must begin to treat the cause right away as this is not a problem that goes away on its own, and will become harder to deal with as time passes if left untreated.

It’s not surprising to most people that babies and children are afraid of the prospect of being left alone and they tend to show their fear when their parents prepare to leave the house or if they think their parents have already left, even though a familiar person is present to care for them. However, some people are often surprised that animals display this same unhappy reaction. It is important to understand that your pet is not being a “bad dog” when they misbehave in these situations; what they’re actually doing is acting out of fear of separation. Recognizing the problem is the first step in successfully treating it.

How to Recognize the Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Many of the symptoms of separation anxiety are destructive and disturbing. If any of the following behaviours occur routinely when you prepare to leave your dog (say when you’re going to work) or are absent from home, you must seriously consider the possibility that your dog has separation anxiety:

1. Pacing, drooling, panting, and trembling. When your dog sees signs that you are preparing to leave the house by, say, taking your coat from the closet, packing up your briefcase, or putting on boots or a scarf, your pet may start pacing, drooling, panting, and trembling. What comes next is running back and forth between you and the door, standing in your way in front of the door and whining as you try to open it, and then barking as you exit.

2. Pacing when alone. Dogs often pace in circles or along the same pathway through the house over and over when they’re stressed and anxious. You may be able to witness this activity for yourself if your dog wakes from sleep, looks for you in vain, and doesn’t realize you are still at home.

3. Whining, barking, and howling. These are disturbing symptoms that are most disruptive in a neighbourhood or apartment building, and are most likely to trigger a lot of complaints from people who are hearing your dog express their unhappiness in this way. Some dogs can whine, bark, and howl all day or all night, resulting in a great deal of irritated and displeased neighbours!

4. Attempting to escape. Because they feel abandoned, dogs may often go to extreme lengths to escape their home or the backyard to search for their parents. They may spend hours chewing on windowsills and doorframes and may even chew on the furniture. If they are left tied up outside, they may dig up great swaths of lawn and chew on shrubs or any wooden furniture they can reach. Not only is this behaviour very destructive, but also your dog may receive scrapes and cuts and even break their teeth during these escape attempts, all resulting in a very stressful vet visit for everyone involved!

5. Urinating and Defecating. If nothing else gets your attention and punishes you for leaving your dog alone, urinating and defecating will certainly do it. If you come home to a mess that has to be cleaned up right away, you will realize you have to deal with the issue and can’t ignore it any longer. Scolding a dog and rubbing doggy’s face in the excrement won’t help. Your pet won’t care about the scolding or the smells—he or she will be happy you are home and paying attention at last, and will repeat this behavior because you’ve noticed.

6. Coprophagia. This is the word that describes the act of an animal eating its own feces. It is another symptom of separation anxiety and an example of how a dog expresses distress being left alone.

How to Relieve Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

The varying causes of separation anxiety in dogs can stem from a change in parents or a beloved member of the household leaving home, neglect, premature adoption, heredity, lack of good training, a move to a new home, long separations because of work or vacations, or simply a big change in the usual environment.

If your dog is showing any of the signs of separation anxiety, it is time to begin counter-conditioning before the problem gets worse. You can try these various methods to make your dog understand that being alone is not scary and it is not acceptable to be disobedient:

1. Conceal signs that you are leaving. Put on your coat, but don’t leave for 10 or 15 minutes. Leave by a different door than usual. Give your dog a treat or a toy to distract attention from your departure.

 2. Exercise your dog before leaving. If you don’t have time to take pooch outside for a run before you leave, play some indoor games like hide and seek, or toss kibbles or some other treats in the air for your dog to jump and catch so that he or she is a bit tired and more interested in resting and eating than pursuing you.

3. Leave a treat and TV or music playing. Treats can help your dog associate your being absent with something nice. Music or background sounds or a TV left on, and some of your dirty laundry nearby, can also bring comfort.

4. Don’t leave your dog alone too long. If you are going to be away frequently for several hours a day, consider hiring a dog walker or a dog sitter for part of each day.

5. Gradually introduce a dog sitter for long absences. If you are going away on vacation or going to work full time, find a dog sitter or a doggy daycare to mind your dog for an hour or two a day. Gradually increase the amount of time before actually leaving for several hours a day or for several days. There are also dog hotel services you can use, or you might be able to take your dog to work or with you on vacation (see our post about pets at work before you do so however! You can also check out our traveling tips for those who want to take your dog on vacation).

6. When you come back, play it cool. Don’t greet your dog or say farewell with a lot of emotion. Be calm when you come and go.

7. Train your dog to be alone. Have your dog stay in one part of the house while you go to another for 10 seconds. Gradually increase the time to 30 minutes or so. Also, make sure you have a dog bed so that your pooch is used to sleeping without you and is not constantly by your side.

8. If all else fails, try medication. Ask your dog veterinarian about using calming medicine if your dog is still showing symptoms of severe separation anxiety, even after you have tried everything else.

Dog parents must watch for these signs of separation anxiety in their dogs. That way if there are any distressing symptoms and destructive behaviors that follow, the problem can be addressed and treated as soon as possible before it becomes chronic. Your veterinarian may suggest working with a trainer to assist in managing your dog’s anxiety. It is sometimes beneficial for your veterinarian and your trainer to work together.

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