Posts

Can All Dogs Swim? And Other Dog Swimming Tips Worth Knowing

Does your dog love the water? Many dogs will do anything they can to go for a swim, while many others will do everything in their power to stay dry. There’s no consensus among dogs about whether they like the water. Here’s a big question, however: can all dogs swim?

Understanding different breeds and their abilities to swim

There are a handful of dog breeds that have been selectively bred to be experts in the water. For instance, retrievers have been trained for generations to go into the water to grab birds for hunters, while dogs such as Irish Water Spaniels have developed waterproof coats so they can work in the fields. 

These breeds are generally believed to know how to swim the second they lay eyes on a body of water, and will usually be happy to do so since their physical structure is perfect for swimming. Other breeds often prefer not to swim, or simply don’t see the point. 

Some of the dogs that most love the water are:

  • Labrador retrievers
  • Toller retrievers
  • Portugese water dogs
  • Irish water spaniels
  • Poodles
  • Newfoundlands
  • Irish setters

Regardless of whether your dog likes to swim or not, you should know that with a little preparation and training, all dogs are capable of swimming. This is especially good to know in the summertime, when dogs are at a higher risk of overheating and dehydration. If you can safely get your dog accustomed to being in the water, they’ll have a good option to keep cool in the warmer months. Swimming is also great exercise for dogs, and is a fun time for everyone involved. 

So for those of us with dogs who aren’t natural swimmers, how can we safely introduce them to swimming and get them more comfortable in the water?

How to teach your dog to swim

It can be a little difficult getting your dog into the water especially if they’re not accustomed to swimming, but once you do, you’ll both be experiencing the benefits in no time. So where to begin?

There are a number of avenues you can take when teaching your dog to swim, and choosing which one to use depends mainly on your dog’s breed. While some dogs, like the ones mentioned before, are natural-born swimmers, others are just not able to excel in the water due to their biology. Bulldogs and Dachshunds, for instance, often don’t have the physical build to keep themselves afloat, and will likely need extra help with a floatation device. 

Even if your dog is meant to be a capable swimmer, each pup is a little different, and yours may not be as keen on swimming as they’re ‘supposed’ to be. Whatever the case, it’s important that you understand your dog’s lineage and capabilities, set your expectations accordingly, and don’t be disappointed if your dog still prefers dry land over water.

Invest in a life jacket for your dog

When introducing a dog to the water for the first time, it’s vital that the dog finds swimming fun and not scary. You want to do everything you can to get your dog feeling confident in the water, and one great way to do that is to ensure they can’t sink. Life jackets for dogs come in all shapes and sizes for a variety of breeds and weights. Assuming their life jacket fits well, your dog will be able to focus on the mechanics of swimming, rather than struggling to stay afloat. 

Even if your dog is a capable swimmer, a life jacket is never a bad idea. Even the strongest swimmers can get tired, and if you’ve ever thrown a ball for certain breeds, you know that many dogs will over-exert themselves to the point of danger if they’re allowed to. A life jacket allows them to not work as hard while still staying afloat, which will keep them safe as well as feeling confident.

When choosing a life jacket, ensure it’s the right size, and that it can be adjusted to fit your dog perfectly. Bright or reflective material is also a plus, since they’ll help you spot your dog in the water more easily. You should also look for a life jacket with a sturdy handle on the back. This will allow you to pull your dog out of the water if they’re struggling, guide them as they learn to swim, or even simply keep hold of them on the beach. 

Make a plan for swimming lessons

Once you have all the equipment, it’s time to figure out your method for teaching your dog to swim. Every dog is different, so you’ll know better than anyone what you need to do to keep them feeling comfortable. With that said, a good idea for all dogs is to ensure that they’re the ones to enter the water. This can be achieved by throwing a floating toy into the water, or getting in yourself and encouraging them to come out to you. When a dog enters the water on their own terms, they’ll be less likely to become afraid. Start in the shallows, and don’t try to make your dog move deeper until they seem comfortable. 

Every time your dog comes out of the water while they’re learning, you should reward them with a treat, a toy, or affection. This will help them form a positive association with swimming, and encourage them to get in the water next time.

Give your dog a demonstration

If you know anyone with a dog who’s already a confident swimmer, consider arranging a time for your dog to watch them swim. With your dog in a life jacket, they’ll be able to follow the other dog around, observing their technique and having a great time while doing it. After a few playdates in the water, your dog may feel more confident about swimming on their own.

Keep water safety in mind

Beyond the risk of drowning, there are a handful of other potential hazards for your dog in the water. 

  • Cold water. Too much exposure could lead to hypothermia, which is dangerous. 
  • Swallowing too much water. This is possible while your dog swims and grabs toys. If your dog is regularly vomiting after swimming, they’re swallowing too much. To counteract this, try to keep swimming sessions to about ten minutes, and choose a water-toy that they can easily pick up without ingesting too much water in the process, such as a flat, floating disc.

Don’t push your dog too far

Despite our best efforts, some dogs never really take to swimming. Even with all the floatation devices, training, and safety measures, some dogs simply don’t like the water. If you’ve been trying to get them interested in swimming for some time and aren’t making any progress, it may be that your dog just doesn’t like to swim. If that’s the case, don’t feel the need to continuously push them. There are still ways you can help your dog enjoy the water and keep them cool in summer.

Hopefully these tips will help you and your dog to enjoy the water in the warmer months. With some time, care, and preparation, most dogs will gradually come to love swimming. If you have more questions about how to safely teach your dog to swim, or anything else pet-related, feel free to contact us today.

The Benefits of Pet Insurance You Need to Know About

As a pet owner, you have the responsibility of the health, happiness, and overall well-being of your animal. Much like any other life partner, your duties to a pet are in sickness and in health, good times and tough times.

One important part of this responsibility is being prepared in case something happens to your pet. Perhaps your dog swallows something they weren’t supposed to, or your cat falls ill. These problems often require professional veterinary care, and depending on the necessary procedures, the costs can quickly add up. 

Even with a dedicated savings put aside, certain health issues with your pet might put you in a difficult financial situation—that’s where having pet insurance comes in.

Pet insurance is best recommended to get while the pet is young. This is to avoid any medical exclusions. While it is best to get while young, older pets can still very much benefit from pet insurance.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is a health policy that an owner puts in place for their pet. In exchange for a monthly premium, your insurance company will provide reimbursement for a multitude of procedures and treatments at the veterinarian. While we always hope to never need to use pet insurance, it remains one of the best ways to protect the finances of an owner and the safety of the pet. 

Not every pet owner is completely prepared to foot the bill for necessary treatments. Pet insurance allows people to take the stress of finances off the mind of pet owners, allowing them to simply make the best decisions for the health of their pet.

Perhaps you’re looking into getting a pet, or you’ve recently adopted a new one, and you’re wondering if pet insurance is a worthwhile investment. If you ask us, it’s one of the most important ways you can protect your pet and yourself. With that said, here are the six biggest benefits of pet insurance and setting up a policy.

1. Save money at your veterinarian’s office

Saving money is one of the biggest reasons people choose to set up pet insurance. Depending on your policy of choice, your plan could be paying for itself in just one or two urgent visits. Although you’ll have to pay the cost of your vet visit up front, you’ll be able to get reimbursed for your portion. At the most basic level, pet insurance simply makes good financial sense.

2. Gain access to the best possible pet care

Rather than being forced to choose between the most advanced, effective treatments and your pocketbook, pet insurance gives you access to options when it comes to pet healthcare. In recent years, technology in the veterinary field has been advancing rapidly, and there are now many more options for the owners of sick or injured pets than ever before. Chemotherapy for instance is an effective way to treat cancer in pets, but it can often be very expensive for people without insurance. Having a policy in place beforehand allows you to think about what the best option for your pet would be, rather than concerning yourself about what you’ll be able to afford.

3. Pay a small, regular fee instead of saving for emergencies

It can be difficult to keep a sizable emergency fund aside in case of a health issue with your pet. Rather than saving every spare dollar in case of the worst, you can pay a small monthly premium to your insurance company in exchange for pet healthcare coverage, which opens up more financial options for you. 

4. Choose a flexible policy for your pet

Because people’s pets are so varied and unique, pet insurance offers many flexible policies for all kinds of animals, breeds, and ages. Just because your pet is older doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get pet insurance for them, and doing so will often pay off down the road. Furthermore, with lots of competition in the pet insurance market, you’ll be able to get a variety of quotes and find something affordable.

5. Gain peace of mind

The number one reason people choose to set up a pet insurance plan is for peace of mind. We know how much you love your pet and want to provide them with the best care possible. As a pet owner, you are responsible for ensuring that they’re well looked after in even the worst case scenario. Pet insurance allows you to rest easy knowing that providing your pet with the care they need won’t be an issue, regardless of the necessary treatments and procedures.

As a pet owner, you have countless duties when it comes to looking after your four-legged family member. Whether it’s taking them for exercise, feeding them right, or cleaning up after them, we perform these responsibilities as an act of love for our pets—insurance is no different. By setting up a good pet insurance policy from the outset, you can be confident in knowing that your pet will have access to the best possible care no matter what, allowing the two of you to have a long, healthy, and happy life together.

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.

Senior Dog Care Part 3: Blood Testing & X-Rays

Looking after a senior dog comes with its fair share of challenges. From specialized diets, to lifestyle changes for dogs and humans alike, to dealing with various illnesses, caring for a senior dog isn’t always easy. However, we have a responsibility to our furry friends: looking after them and sticking by their side, through thick and thin. In this third part of our series on caring for senior dogs, we look at one important way to take proper care of your senior dog: staying up to date with routine testing with your veterinarian, namely, blood testing and x-rays.

What is Blood Testing?

A blood test for a senior dog allows your veterinarian to look for problems with your dog’s blood cells and enzyme levels of major organs to evaluate their function and health. Normally, blood testing for senior dogs consists of complete blood count, otherwise known as a CBC, which provides levels of various blood cells, and a blood serum test, which analyzes the presence and levels of certain chemicals in your dog’s blood. 

Reasons to Get Your Senior Dog’s Blood Tested

  • Dogs are good at masking illnesses. A blood test can help you identify health problems before they become more serious. 
  • The process of a CBC can provide a count of the different kinds of blood cells (white cells, red cells, and platelets) in your dog’s body. Since white blood cells and platelets help your dog to heal from illness and injury, it’s important to know whether there’s enough of them to protect your dog or if there are any changes. 
  • Blood tests for senior dogs can also ensure a healthy level of nutrients of all kinds in their bodies. These include:
    • Proteins
    • Glucose/sugars
    • Electrolytes
    • Cholesterol
    • Hormone levels
    • Digestive enzymes

In general, blood tests are a great tool to tell your veterinarian if your dog is in need of special attention. A change in the level of a certain protein indicates that something may be wrong with a certain organ or process, which is valuable information for their health.

Benefits of X-rays

Radiographs (x-rays) are a valuable tool for your veterinarian to keep up to date on the health of your dog. Although radiographs are a good tool for detecting when something’s wrong, that’s not the only time an x-ray is useful for a senior dog. Having a regular radiograph, even when nothing is wrong, provides valuable information for your veterinarian. These images can be used as reference for later imaging.

Reasons for Senior Dogs to Receive X-rays

  • A radiograph can (sometimes) help your veterinarian detect any obstructions in your dog’s digestive system, whether for foreign objects or some other type of blockage.
  • Radiographs can detect bladder stones even before they become serious problems.
  • X-rays can detect tumours.
  • Radiography can help detect heart or lung disease in your senior dog.
  • Like in humans, x-rays can detect fractures, dislocation, bone deformation, dysplasia, and other orthopedic issues in your senior dog. This can provide your veterinarian with insight on any bone or joint degeneration that comes along with a dog’s age.

X-rays and blood testing are two very important parts of looking after your dog. There are a multitude of problems and conditions that can be detected early on by these two methods of testing. It’s always best to catch health issues as early as possible, and this is particularly true for senior dogs.

Ultimately, you should be striving to do everything you can to make your dog’s later years as safe and comfortable as possible. Of course, this includes routine tests such as blood testing and radiography, but it also extends to monitoring their diet and exercise, making accommodations around the house, and simply spending time with them like you normally do. The more care you take in helping your dog, the more comfortable their senior years will be.

If you still have questions about routine testing and imaging for your senior dog, whether it’s blood testing, x-rays, or anything else, we’re happy to help with any answers you’re seeking. 

Did you miss parts 1 and 2? Click below to read them.

Part 1: General Care Tips

Part 2: Dental Care Tips

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.

Creative Ideas to Keep Pets Out of Christmas Decorations

If you’ve ever raised a cat or dog, you probably know that the holidays tend to bring new levels of challenge when it comes to keeping your furry friend safe. With all the exciting decorations, delicious food, and new people coming and going, the holidays can be an overwhelming time for pets.

One of the most common causes for pet injuries around this time of the year involves some kind of holiday decoration, whether it’s a Christmas tree or a strand of lights. Avoid unplanned visits to the veterinarian this winter with these creative ideas to keep pets out of your Christmas decorations.

How to Pet-proof Your Decorations

There are a number of decorations in the home that can be hazards for your pets. Of course, every animal is different, and what might be completely safe for one could be a serious danger to another. However, here are a few common Christmas decorations to keep a watchful eye over:

  • Christmas trees are a cherished and classic holiday decoration. However, because of their height, and the fact that they’re normally loaded with enticing, dangling decorations, they’re also one of the most common causes for holiday pet accidents.
  • Christmas lights are beautiful, but pose a couple of safety risks to many pets. The light bulbs, being so colourful and exciting, might be a temptation for a bite-happy dog. Likewise, playful pets might bite right through the cord, risking electric shock or even a fire. Finally, animals of all kinds have been known to get tangled up in the strands of lights, which could lead to injury.
  • Garlands are often seen in the home around the holidays. Whether they’re artificial or real, these decorations can be hazardous to keep around mischievous pets. Your cat or dog might get tangled up in the garland, possibly injuring themselves in the process. Also, the needles on some garland’s might shed, especially if you’re using the same decoration year after year. If your pet ends up getting these needles in their mouth, they could be a choking hazard.
  • Candles are a great way to set the holiday mood. Unfortunately, many animals find them alluring for the same reasons as humans, and could end up burning themselves or even knocking the candle over and starting a fire. 
  • Wrapping paper can be a hazard as well. If your pet is prone to eating little bits of whatever they can find, be sure to properly dispose of even the smallest scraps of wrapping paper after the gifts have been opened.

These are just some of the more common holiday hazards that could wind up causing trouble for your pet. Keep your cherished decorations in good shape, and keep your pet safe by taking a few simple precautions.

Choose Decorations Wisely

There are a huge variety of decorations available for trees, and taking the time to choose the right ones will go a long way in ensuring a safe holiday for everyone.

  • Fragile hanging baubles and glass decorations can be risky temptations, particularly for dogs who like to try eating whatever they can get their paws on. 
  • Since these decorations are liable to shatter, we advise keeping them off the tree, or at the very least, ensuring they’re higher up so your dog can’t reach them. 
  • The same goes for cats, since many are enticed by dangling objects. If you have a particularly mischievous cat, we’d recommend avoiding any tempting decorations entirely, since they’re likely to try and climb the tree to get at whatever catches their eye.
  • We also advise against any food-based decorations, such as strings of popcorn. These are just another temptation to most animals, and could be the thing to send them after your Christmas tree.

Consider the Pros and Cons of Real Trees

A real Christmas tree is a beautiful and nostalgic piece of holiday decoration, but you should consider carefully if it’s the right choice for your pet. Needles from a real pine or spruce tree can be a hassle and a hazard. Not only will your pet likely track them all through the house, but also they could be choking hazards for smaller animals, or possibly even be mildly poisonous depending on the type of tree and any chemicals present on the needles. In general, an artificial Christmas tree is likely to be the safest option for your pet.

Make a Barrier Around the Tree to Protect it from Nosy Pets

If you can’t seem to shake your pet’s interest in your Christmas tree, consider blocking access to it in some way. You could use a baby gate or a moveable play-pen to enclose it, or even block the way with larger gifts if your pet is small enough. The more you do to keep your pet away from the tree in general, the less likely they are to run into trouble.

Use Sprays to Deter Pets from the Tree

Pet deterrent sprays are available at most pet supply stores, but if those don’t work, or you’d prefer to make something at home, you can try spraying it with a concoction of water and turmeric. We recommend consulting with our veterinarian first to find out the safest way to deter your pet without bringing risk to them or your family.

Keep Electrical Cords Safe and Secure

Electrical cords pose a major hazard to pets, particularly to dogs with a knack for biting on things they shouldn’t. If possible, route Christmas light cables and extension cords high up so your pet doesn’t have the chance to chew on them. If this isn’t possible, you could always securely tape the cords to the floor. Just make sure to keep an eye on your pet to ensure they don’t try to pull the tape off in order to get at the cable.

Ensure the Tree is Well Secured

If you’re going to put a Christmas tree in your home with your pet, you should ensure it’s as securely placed as possible. Even small animals can climb up the tree, push it, or get tangled up in the branches, causing it to topple over. Not only can this injure your pet, but also it could hurt a family member, or at the very least wreck the tree, the decorations, and other objects in the room. 

Avoid this by ensuring the tree is well-secured to its base. It’s even better to have an additional point of contact, ideally at the top of the tree that’s fastened to a wall, ceiling, or curtain rod, to ensure the tree can’t be knocked over—no matter what.

Secure Your Decorations to the Tree

Another great way to ensure your decorations stay on the tree is to securely fasten them when you place them. You can use twist ties, clips, string, or stiff wire to do this. It’s best (and easiest) to do this for every ornament as you’re hanging them, and it’ll go a long way in keeping your decorations out of the mouth of any curious pets.

In General, Choose Safe Decorations Around the House

We all have our favourite seasonal decorations, but it’s important to keep your pets in mind when choosing them. There are a few decorations that can be major hazards to your pets, and should either be placed with extreme care or avoided entirely. 

Candles are a common choice for holiday decor, but are quite risky to keep around pets. The flickering flame is likely to catch the interest of your pets, particularly if you have an especially curious cat in the house. No matter what kind of pet you have, be very careful with candles, as they may try and play with it, potentially burning themselves or even knocking the flame over and starting a fire. If you want to achieve the same look, consider battery-powered candles with no heat or open flame. 

As you can see, decorating a house for the holidays with a pet in the equation comes with a few extra considerations. However, with a little extra thought and preparation, you can keep your home looking festive and beautiful, just the way you like it, while ensuring your pet has a safe and comfortable holiday as well. 

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.

House Training & Crate Training Tips for Dogs

Bringing home a new puppy or an older dog means opening up a whole new world of love, excitement, and experiences! We hope these house and crate training tips for dogs will help make life easier for everyone in your home, including your new pet.

House Training Your Dog Requires Consistency and Encouragement

Puppies and older dogs are happiest when they know exactly what their owners require of them, which means it’s a good idea to plan out a schedule. By nature dogs tend to try very hard to please you, so they may soon enough catch on to the times you expect them to eat, play, sleep, and go outside to relieve themselves or go out for a walk. If you are careful to stick to the scheduled times, all while taking your dog’s age and size into consideration and using patience and rewards, you can teach your brand new member of the family what is expected of him or her in a few weeks or months.

When your dog is fully house trained, life will be happier and easier for everyone. In some cases though, the training process will usually take four to six months and occasionally up to a year before full training status can be accomplished.

When to Start House Training

For puppies you can start house training when they are between 12 and 16 weeks old. A general rule of thumb is that puppies can control their bladders for one hour for every month of age, which means three-month-old puppies should be able to hold in their urine for three hours. Smaller breeds have smaller bladders and can’t control them as long as bigger breeds can, however, so keep this in mind as well.

If you’ve adopted an adult dog or a senior, there’s a chance they may have learned bad habits from an earlier living situation before coming to your home. If this is the case, you may have to spend some time helping your new pet unlearn their bad habits by starting basic training all over again, just as if they were young puppies. Be prepared.

Space

Confine your puppy to a particular space and routine while house training.

  • A puppy (or an older pooch) should be kept in a large crate, or in a particular room where there is no carpet, or on a leash near you where you can keep an eye on your new family member. You can spread paper in one area (use several layers) of a room, but make sure your dog has space left to play, sleep, and eat in the room.
  • When taken outside, your dog should be on a leash and taken to the same spot for elimination each time.
  • As your dog learns that outside is where elimination is supposed to occur, you can give your best friend a little more freedom to move around in the house.

Times of the Day

Always take a puppy outside first thing in the morning and again 30 minutes later, and continue with 30-minute intervals all day.

  • When your new puppy grows up a little, you can extend their schedule to two-hour intervals.
  • Also, remember to take your pet outside after meals, after naps, after playtime, before being left alone, and at night just before bed.

Mealtimes

Offer food to your dog on a regular schedule, which may be three or four times a day when the puppy is really young and small, and remove any leftover food after mealtime.

  • Remove the water bowl about two hours before bedtime to lessen the chances that your pooch will need to go outside in the middle of the night—most dogs can sleep through the night. If you do have to take your dog outside, turn on very few lights, don’t talk, don’t play, and put him or her back to bed as soon as you return inside.
  • If dogs are fed at the same time each day, it is likely that they also need to eliminate at the same time each day, which can speed up the house training process.

Outdoor Trips

For any walks or trips outside, use a leash and take your puppy to the same spot each time if they need to eliminate. The scent will help remind your puppy of what is expected.

  • Use the same word or phrase each time the puppy is eliminating so that the word or words become a signal to them of what to do.
  • Give your dog praise and a reward as soon as their business is finished—not after you go back inside the house. That’s too long for dogs to wait to be able to associate the reward with the action. Also, be careful not to give rewards before they’ve finished or they may be so happy that they stop and don’t remember to finish until they are back inside.
  • During house training time, don’t take your dog for a walk until the job has been done in the regular spot. This will help reinforce the training.

In the Event of Accidents

Expect accidents to happen from time to time while house training your dog. Watch for the signs—barking, squatting, circling, or scratching at the door—that your dog needs to go outside.

  • If your puppy starts to eliminate in the house, interrupt the act by quickly and firmly saying, “Outside”—without yelling or threatening them—and immediately take your dog outside to finish. Never be upset or angry at them, and don’t ever rub your puppy’s nose in the spot or they may become scared to eliminate in your presence. When you go back inside, clean it up.
  • If you discover an area in the house that has been soiled, it’s too late to do anything but clean it up and make sure there is no lingering odor that may encourage further accidents. Again, never ever force your dog to smell the spot as punishment or yell at them after the fact; not only is this unnecessary but your dog won’t understand why you’re angry, they’ll only understand that you are angry. This, in turn, can cause a dog to distrust and dislike you as their owner. Always be gentle when house training, even if an accident occurs.

How to Make Crate Training a Happy Experience

Crates are great for keeping your dog safe and confined when they’re young and before being house trained. Crates are also useful when transporting your dog in the car or anywhere a dog isn’t free to run. Buy a crate big enough to allow your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down in.

The main rule when crate training is to make sure the crate is associated with happy experiences and is viewed as a “safe, comfortable place” by your dog. Take your time and don’t expect miracles overnight.

6 Steps for Crate Training:

  1. Place the crate, door open, in the room with your pup, and put a toy and blanket inside. After your dog is used to having it in the room, place a treat inside and wait for puppy to go inside and explore. You may have to wait a few days.
  1. Put the dinner bowl near the crate and after a few days, put it inside. If your puppy enters freely and is comfortable, gradually move the food bowl to the back of the crate; if not so comfortable, put it right inside the door and move it back over a longer number of days.
  1. After a few days, close the door while puppy is eating and open it as soon as the meal is finished. Start leaving your dog inside for a minute or two after the meal is finished and then longer, but open the door immediately if there is any indication of unhappiness or unease. It means you should leave puppy inside for shorter intervals. Start over.
  1. If your puppy starts to cry or whine, don’t open the door until the whining stops or that becomes the way your dog trains you! You mustn’t let that happen. Pet your dog and offer a treat. Open the door while your dog is eating the treat.
  1. As before, gradually increase the time your dog is left inside when you are home and in the room, and then leave the room for a few minutes and then for longer periods. In time, you can coax your puppy inside with a treat and a command like, “crate time,” and leave him or her there for a few hours.
  1. If you want to crate train your puppy at night, keep the crate inside or near your bedroom so your pet doesn’t feel alone and abandoned. Over a period of weeks, you can move the crate further and further away until it is in the location you prefer.

House training and crate training are important responsibilities of dog owners. It is always best for you and your pet to work with a certified dog trainer. When you have accomplished these tasks and your dog is house trained and crate trained, you can rest easy knowing you have a very happy and well-adjusted dog!

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.

Dog Neutering & the Movember Movement

November is here, or should we say, “Movember”? It is quite intriguing and fun to suddenly see all of the moustaches showing up around this time of the year.

While the Movember movement is a lot of fun with all the events and moustaches involved, it is about a lot more than just that. It is about the acceptance and recognition of the fact that awareness around men’s health is vital.

An important facet of the Movember movement is to raise awareness regarding prostate cancer and illness. Man’s best friend, the dog, also tends to get various kinds of prostate illness (including cancer).

An important difference is prostate problems in dogs are easily avoided. Neutering (or castration) of male dogs is a safe surgical procedure wherein the testicles are surgically removed. Various veterinary associations and veterinarians recommend neutering pets within the first year of life across Canada.

In this day and age, this recommendation is mostly aimed at decreasing illnesses seen in non-neutered dogs. Decreasing inter-pet aggression and unwanted puppies are also known benefits of neutering.

There are various myths about neutering in pets. Dogs will reach their adult weight and size based on a combination of genetics, nutrition, exercise, environment, socialization, and hormones. Neutering a pet does not affect the eventual size of the dog and generally does not alter how muscular (or cute) he may look. While neutering at around 6 months of age is ideal, there is no harm if a pet owner decides to pursue the neuter surgery for the pet at around one year of age. Generally speaking, any non-neutered dog is prone to testicular or prostate illness after a year of age.

Neutered dogs are much less likely to have health problems such as prostate infection, testicular tumors, and prostatic cancer. Non-neutered or intact dogs with such problems may show signs such as difficult urination, blood in urine, hair loss, and changes in behaviour during early illness. If diagnosed early, neutering the pet can easily treat such illnesses. If, however, an infection or tumor has progressed to a certain stage, more complex treatments and a poor outcome may be possible.

As we raise awareness and learn more regarding health issues for men, it is important not to forget man’s best friend. A timely neuter procedure may well add years to your pooch’s life.

By – Dr. Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.

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 Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Tips for an Enjoyable Halloween Night for Pets

Halloween is almost here! Costumes, parties, and plans for the day are likely already in place, including costumes for our furry friends. It is becoming quite popular to dress up your dog and the occasional cat in addition to the traditional partying and trick-or-treating on Halloween night. It is an enjoyable time and being socially inclined, dogs (and the odd cat) are happy to be involved in the fun. New commercials on TV appear to encourage pets go out trick-or-treating with kids!

Again, all fun and enjoyment with the right pet, but remember there are pets (as are humans) that may not be lining up to be part of the dressing up or socialization.

Pet families know their pets the best and it is important to assess how involved your pet may like to be during Halloween, or what the families’ overall plans should be. Addressing the following should help you make this a happy Halloween for the whole family:

  1. Pets can get anxiety from firecrackers (noise phobia) – skipping fireworks or boarding your pet in a safe, quiet kennel for fireworks nights are ideas to consider.
  2. Taking your pet for trick-or-treating may increase their chances of ingesting chocolate or candy, which can be toxic to them. Adult supervision for both your child and your pet is advised.
  3. If trick-or-treating with pets, putting a leash on should help keep them safe.
  4. Strangers can be wary of unknown pets, no matter how friendly your pooch is!
  5. If you are giving out candy to kids or will have many visitors, ensure your pet will not escape with the frequently opening front door.

Once safety for everyone is taken in to account, all you have to decide is if your pet will be a superhero, a hot dog, a prisoner, or will simply skip the dressing up!

By – Dr. Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.

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. Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby since 2005.