Home Healthcare for Your Working Dog

Working dogs in the United States perform a vast array of duties including military and police work, service dog work, therapy work, hunting, herding, sled work, and search and rescue work. These dogs dedicate their lives to providing assistance – from helping individuals mitigate their disability-related limitations to helping protect the lives of our troops overseas and more. It is crucial to provide the best possible care for your working dog, both at home and on duty.

Working dogs are often asked to put their bodies through a lot of daily physical stress. This is why it’s so important to perform monitoring of your dog’s health at home. Pet parents should perform a basic physical exam of their working dog every week or two in order to help catch any potential health issues early on.

Routine Exams

In addition to an annual or biannual routine physical exam at your local vet clinic, it’s important to monitor your working dog’s health at home. Your working dog should be kept up to date on vaccinations, flea and tick preventatives, and heartworm preventatives. It’s necessary to perform a basic physical exam of your working dog every one to two weeks to catch any potential health issues early on. Minor issues that could turn into more severe concerns go easily unnoticed because of a dog’s fur coat, high pain threshold, and inability to speak our language.

What to Look for During Your Home Exam

A working dog’s senses are his tools of the trade. Without them, he can’t perform his job. Routine exams at home are necessary.

Ears

Check your dog’s ears for buildup, debris, inflammation, redness, parasites, or pain regularly. If your dog is prone to buildup in their ears, frequent cleaning can help prevent ear infections that, if left untreated, can lead to permanent damage. There are many products available over-the-counter, including Zymox, that are easy to use and can help relieve pain and inflammation while cleaning your pet’s ears. Zymox offers an ear cleaner with Lacoperoxidase, Lactoferrin, and Lysozyme that have natural bio-active properties perfect for long term cleaning of non-infected ears. For inflamed and infected ears due to bacteria and yeast, Zymox has an Ear Solution with Hydrocortisone.

Eyes

When it comes to your dog’s eyes, things to watch for include redness, squinting, discharge, and any abnormalities on the surface of the eye.  In older dogs, it is important to monitor for the development of cataracts, which can impair their vision and their ability to perform their duties.

Skin

Examine your dog’s skin and coat on a routine basis for redness, itchiness, wounds, hair loss, or lumps or masses. Allergies or fleas can cause redness, itchiness, and hair loss; however, they can also be early indicators of more serious underlying health conditions. You can also find and remove any possible fleas or ticks. Zymox Topical Spray with Hydrocortisone is great for use on topical infections, wounds, and cuts. Remember to check between each of your dog’s paw pads for cuts or debris.

Mouth

It is important to keep an eye on your pet’s teeth and gums and monitor for gingivitis, plaque buildup, broken teeth, or redness in their mouth. Poor dental health can lead to working dogs being unable to properly perform their duties in the field. Bad breath can serve as a sign that your dog is in need of a dental cleaning.

Eating, Drinking and Bathroom Habits

 

Sometimes we overlook the most basic signs that something might be wrong with our pets. It’s vital to keep an eye on your dog’s eating, drinking, and bathroom habits. Increased drinking and increased frequency or amount of urination both can be indicators of underlying health issues that should be further investigated by your veterinarian. It is also important to ensure your dog is drinking adequate amounts of water, especially for dogs that perform field duties or will be in hot environments. Typically, a dog needs one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. In hot environments, they need unlimited water. As we all know, dogs love to eat. When a dog loses his appetite, it can be an indicator that he isn’t feeling well or could be an indicator of mouth or tooth pain.

You should always monitor your dog’s bowel movements as this is a great indicator for what’s going on inside. Look for signs of loose stool, blood, and/or parasites. If your dog doesn’t have a bowel movement for 24-48 hours and appears lethargic or just not quite themselves in any way, it could be an indication that a foreign body has been ingested and this requires a trip to your local vet as soon as possible.

Movement/Gait

If you see any signs of mild limping or lameness in your dog, immediately confine him to a small area for 48 hours and give him a chance to rest. If he still appears in pain or is seen limping after the rest period, take him to your veterinarian for further diagnostics. Proper rest among any signs of limping or lameness is vital.
Remember, just like with humans, dogs should properly warm up before performing strenuous exercise and be allowed time to rest and recover after strenuous physical exercise. In addition if your working dog will be working in very hot or cold environments they should be allowed to acclimate at first. When working in extreme environments, such as our Southern summers, your dog should be very closely monitored at all times for signs of exhaustion, dehydration, or a heat stroke. Similarly, dogs working in the winter, and especially those that will be in the water, should be monitored closely for exhaustion and hypothermia.

Nutrition

Nutrition is of great importance for working dogs. Because they’re required to be in peak physical shape at all times, they require a high quality food that meets the specific nutritional requirements to maintain normal body functions and provide the vitamins and minerals needed to keep them in great shape. Supplementation of omega fatty acids can have a vast array of positive health benefits from improving coat quality to helping maintain a healthy body weight. While many of the high quality brands of dog food contain a healthy ratio of omega fatty acids, Prudence offers a Skin and Coat formula that is great as a daily “add on” in your dog’s food.

 

For dogs that perform physical duties such as military, law enforcement, and hunting and herding, a high quality “performance” dog food is ideal to provide the necessary nutrients to feed their bodies. For these athletic dogs, a food should consist of somewhere around 30 percent or more crude protein and 20 percent or more crude fat to support their increased nutritional requirements. Due to the physical demands on hips and joints, Prudence Ultimate Hip and Joint supplement, which contains a vast array of ingredients designed to help support healthy joints, is a nice addition to a working dog’s diet.

Senior Working Dog

 

For active and aging dogs, it’s very important to keep a close eye for early signs of arthritis and other joint diseases. Things to watch for include:

  • limping/lameness
  • stiff gait
  • difficult or slow to rise
  • “bunny/hop” running
  • holding one limb up
  • side/sloppy sitting

These issues can be exacerbated by obesity. Keeping your dog fit is of utmost importance to his health now and in the future.

It’s important to recognize when it’s time to let your dog retire from work. Pushing an aging dog to his limits physically can have lasting effects on his health.

In Conclusion

Working dogs rely on their bodies, brains, and senses to adequately perform their duties. It is of the utmost importance to be very thorough with monitoring them, and to offer them the very best in healthcare and nutrition.

Contributing Writer:

Spencer Mills
Mississippi State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Class of 2016

Have a Red, White and Barking Blue Fourth of July!

I don’t know about everybody else, but I think my dogs get tired of seeing the world from behind the backyard fence or from the end of a leash. I KNOW they like to run full speed and sniff every spot any other animal has ever walked near.

I also know my cats are tired of desperately looking out my windows and scratching at the back door in vain, thinking it may suddenly and miraculously open one day like my kitchen cabinets do.

While we are celebrating our freedom as Americans this Fourth of July, let’s make sure to help our pets get a taste of that freedom, too!

Dogs Choose Freedom!

One of the easiest and most fun ways to let your dog run wild is to go to an off-leash dog park like Overton Bark or Shelby Farms Unleashed in Memphis, Wagging Tail Dog Park in Dallas, or Green Springs Dog Park in Birmingham. Most big cities have at least one off-leash dog park available for free public use! Your pups can run free, meet other dogs, sniff grass and trees and swim in lakes! They can play fetch on a seemingly endless landscape at some parks. A short thirty-minute visit will have your dogs exhausted for the rest of the day.
If you’re not into the off-leash dog park experience, think about trying an invisible fence for your dog. If your dog is already calm and easily trained, this is perfect for you! If your dog is high energy or stubborn, more effort and training will be necessary before this will be the right option for you. Think about your dogs getting to see the full view of the world around them instead of what they can put together through fence slats. Your doggies will be so excited! There is a training process that goes along with teaching your dog how to use an invisible fence, so this should only be an option for you and your dog if you are willing to put in the training effort! Check out my blog on PetSafe and their electronic products for pets here: http://www.hollywoodfeed.com/training_pet_safe/ If off-leash is not for you but you still want to get into the great outdoors with your dog, do it! My dogs enjoy boating, hiking, swimming, and running next to bikes! I know many dogs who love camping or going for jogs with their people. Your dog will pretty much love anything you do together outdoors unless she is an extreme couch potato, and the fresh air and sun will be good for your both.

There are also a lot of pet-friendly restaurants and retail stores out there, so get your dog out of the house the next time you go to have margaritas with friends on a patio! Your dog will have a blast, and most dog-friendly restaurants will bring out a bowl of water for your dog if you ask them!

Set Your Cat Free, Too!

If you already have an outdoor cat or indoor/outdoor cat, then your furry feline gets plenty of adventure and freedom. But for an indoor cat, the doors and windows of the home are a barrier to keep them from getting to the magical world outside.
You can try to trick your cat into thinking he is outside nibbling on some delicious green grass with some indoor cat grass. You can get a little container to put near his favorite spot and he will delight in taking little nibbles throughout the day.

Does your cat love to lie lazily in the sun? Consider making him a comfortable window seat where he can get a great view of your street while being a lazy sunbather.

Something that I would love to do, and that my husband and I talk about often, is to hang several cat shelves around our home so that our cats can get from room to room without ever having to touch paw to floor! This would be a super fun adventure for cats, but also at my house, would serve the purpose of allowing cats to stay safe from any guest dogs in my home with my dog-sitting business!

If you think your cat is really ready for an adventure, try harnessing and leashing your cat and actually taking him outside. I do this with my cat, Fender sometimes. He mostly just lies prostrate and refuses to move as he makes a low growling noise in his throat, but then sometimes he explores and really seems to enjoy himself.

What are some other ways your pet enjoys some freedom at your house? Share your ideas to get pets out of the house and into an adventure in the comments below!

Tips for a Fun-Filled Trip to the Dog Park

The dog park really is a magical place for dogs of all ages. I know I write about it a lot, but that’s because it’s a great bonding experience for my dogs and I as well as a great way to get outside, and get some sun and exercise together. It’s also the best way to burn off excess energy that may otherwise go into chewing your shoes. My dogs always return from the dog park exhausted, even if we’ve only been there for a short 15-30 minutes.

I have noticed three different types of dogs who enjoy a dog park (there are probably more ways to enjoy it, but these are experiences I’ve had with my own dogs). There are dogs like Fitzgerald, who want to meet every new person and dog at the park, say hello and try to play. There are dogs like Skeeter, who think the other dogs and people are okay, but really only want to sniff every inch of the whole place. And then there are dogs like my Annie who care about nothing but running and fetching with complete freedom!

I think all people and dogs should be able to enjoy dog parks, but there are some rules you and your doggy should follow. You will also want to make sure that your pup is ready for this experience. Will he get into any fights? Will he run away? You must be prepared! Ask yourself these questions before you take the plunge:

  • Is your dog trained in recall and will he respond to your verbal commands? Before you take your dog to an off-leash park, make sure you have taught him recall. This is the most important thing your dog should know before going to a dog park!! You should practice first in a smaller fenced-in area until you are convinced your dog will return to you every time. Will your dog scent a raccoon and take off with no other thought on his mind? It is also a good idea to find out if your local dog park is fully fenced in.
  • Can you commit to picking up your dog’s poop at the park? Will you remember to bring bags with you? Also, remember that a dog park is a place where you and your dog will probably get dirty. Be prepared for this and dress appropriately. Bring towels in your car to clean up before your dog jumps back in to drive home.
  • Does your dog have any behavior problems or possible aggression issues? Is there a chance he will get into a fight or potentially harm another dog or person? Will your dog try to take another dog’s tennis ball and fight over it? If you think these things may happen, your dog is not a good candidate for a dog park. Work on socializing your dog in a smaller fenced-in setting with one or two other dogs and other adults to supervise first. Here is a guide to socializing your dog.

 

Here are a few things you should remember NOT to do at a dog park:

  • DON’T bring a female in heat or intact male to the dog park!!! This can cause all kinds of problems from pregnancy to aggression to lost dogs.
  • DON’T put up with bullying! Whether it’s your dog doing the bullying or someone else’s- step in and say something to the dogs or the owners. Bullying can lead to fights and the teaching of bad manners. It can also increase anxiety issues for the dogs being bullied. Some dog owners may think a rougher style of play is okay while others feel it is going too far. Remember to be tactful when talking to other dog owners and remember that you can simply walk away from the area if the play is too rough for your dog.
  • DON’T bring a dog with high anxiety to a really crowded or small dog park. Try one with wide open spaces where she will not feel crowded. But also, make sure you know your dog will return to you if she’s off-leash!
  • DON’T use treats or food at a dog park as this may spark fights. Be careful of playing with toys near other dogs. Judge your dog’s body language as well as other dogs nearby, and know in advance how your dog will react if another dog runs over and wants to join in the game. Get more information on how to judge the body language of dogs here: http://www.hollywoodfeed.com/10-ways-your-dog-is-telling-you-hes-stressed/.

It is also good to remember that some dogs just may not enjoy the dog park. If your dog’s body language says she is very uncomfortable and she does not calm down quickly, then you need to make a judgment call about her safety and the safety of other dogs and people at the park and decide whether you should stay or leave. It’s okay if your dog prefers a quiet stroll around the block with you as her form of exercise!

What’s your favorite dog park? What are your pack’s favorite dog park activities?

How To Take a Vacation When You Have an Anxious Dog

As a pet-sitter, I’ve seen many signs of anxiety from dogs when they are dropped off at my house by their owners for the first time. While most dogs are fine and happy from the start, some dogs will pace, whine and pant when their owners leave. Other dogs act nervously by tucking their ears and tail or by shaking. Some will scratch at the door they saw their person leave through last. Others decide it’s time to chew their bed or bark in the middle of the night. Most of the time these behaviors go away after about an hour or two, or sometimes after the first night is over. However, for some dogs, anxiety can be a serious issue.

Stressed and anxious dogs do need to allow their people to leave town sometimes, so we have to find the right ways to ease the fears of these dogs. For highly anxious dogs, you may want to consider finding a pet-sitter who can come stay at your home with your dog instead of boarding your dog or having him stay in someone else’s home. Being able to stay in his same environment may be all a stressed dog needs to feel a little better.

Choosing a Pet-Sitter or Boarding Facility

  • Make sure the pet sitter’s home or the boarding facility is clean and relatively calm and quiet (there will always be some barking and excitement, especially at drop off and pick up times!).
  • See if your dog will get along with any other dogs (or cats, or children) he may be interacting with during his stay. You don’t want your dog to be scared or bullied during his stay, but you also don’t want to risk your dog biting a child or another dog out of fear. Be realistic about your own dog’s behaviors!
  • Also, make sure the people caring for your dog can watch out for symptoms of anxiety and spend some extra time and energy comforting and caring for your dog.
  • Click to find more information about choosing the right pet-sitter or boarding facility.

How To Prepare for Vacation Separation

  • One of the first things you can do to make sure your dog is ready for your vacation separation is to start socializing your dog at a very young age so that he will feel comfortable around many different people, cats, dogs, smells, and environments. This will allow your dog to be confident throughout life when entering new situation instead of shy, scared or defensive from fear. Don’t give up if your dog is no longer a puppy! He can still be socialized effectively, it will just be a little harder. Learn more about socializing your dog here.
  • Many people like to bring a blanket or bed from home for their dog while they are away. I encourage people to bring beds to my home, but there is always the risk of the bed getting chewed on! My advice is not to bring an expensive dog bed to a boarding facility, but instead an old one or a less expensive blanket or t-shirt with your home’s smell on it that your dog can have at bedtime. I also don’t encourage people to bring their dog’s favorite toys or bones because I don’t want any fights breaking out over them.
  • Regular exercise while at the boarding facility or pet sitter’s home and before being dropped off will also help with anxiety. Tired dogs don’t have the energy to be stressed, and that’s a fact.
  • Some dogs find a ThunderShirt to be soothing. It is a blanket that wraps tightly around your dog’s torso like a jacket and is secured in place. It makes them feel comforted and more secure in thunderstorms, during fireworks, or in other stressful situations like boarding. You can get one of these at Hollywood Feed and give it a try. If it works, you can send it with your doggy on his next boarding adventure.

What Can the Pet-Sitter Do To Help?

  • When anxious dogs come to my home to stay, I try to distract them and give them something fun to do right away. Do they want to go in the backyard and play with my dogs and other doggy campers? Do they want to play a game of fetch? Do they want to get petted and cuddled and have their bellies scratched? Do they want to show me how they can sit and shake for some treats?
  • Sometimes I’ll put up pet gates in my home to separate dogs into separate areas and then give them a Kong stuffed with treats, peanut butter, or yogurt (then frozen). It gives dogs something to do for a while, takes their mind off of any anxiety, and they will usually take a nap after they are done with their treat.
  • Soothing music or turning on the TV for some low noise can sometimes help dogs at my house if there is a storm or loud noise outside that is bothering them. I will also talk to them in a calm soothing voice, using their name and calmly petting them.
  • Some anxious dogs respond well to soothing essential oils like lavender. The oils can be dabbed on a dog’s collar or fur (in a place he won’t lick it off), or it can be in the scent of a candle burning. There are also products out there made especially for pets with essentials oils in them like lavender shampoos or spritzes.
  • It is also important that your pet sitter or boarding facility be adaptable and able to read your dog’s mood. For instance, some dogs who appear to be highly anxious in a group of six dogs may be perfectly happy to hang out in the quiet dark bedroom by herself. Maybe she just prefers the calm! Other dogs who don’t like to be around rambunctious puppies may be perfectly happy hanging out with a group of older dogs who are just sniffing the yard and enjoying the sun.

Remember, your anxiety about leaving your pet is probably worse than your pet’s separation anxiety while you are away. Most dogs settle in at my house by the end of the first evening really well. And by the time they come back to my house the second time, they remember having a good time here during their first stay and they settle in even more quickly. By the third stay, they are ready to welcome and tell any new doggy campers all the rules!

How do you keep your dog calm in stressful situations?

Good Samaritans Can Now Rescue Dogs from Hot Cars in TN with Passing of New Law

Have you heard about the extension to the Good Samaritan Law that took effect in Tennessee on July 1st? It’s very exciting news for animals and animal lovers! Legislation put forth by David Hawk, sponsor of House Bill 537, says that any person can break into a locked car in order to save an animal in imminent danger of suffering harm just as a person can to save a child in imminent danger, free from civil liability if:

“…the person: (1) Determines the vehicle is locked or there is otherwise no reasonable method for the minor or animal to exit the vehicle; (2) Has a good faith belief that forcible entry into the vehicle is necessary because the minor or animal is in imminent danger of suffering harm if not immediately removed from the vehicle and, based upon the circumstances known to the person at the time, the belief is a reasonable one; (3) Has contacted either the local law enforcement agency, the fire department, or a 911 operator prior to forcibly entering the vehicle; (4) Places a notice on the vehicle’s windshield with the person’s contact information, the reason the entry was made, the location of the minor or animal, and the fact that the authorities have been notified; HB0537 002190 -2- (5) Remains with the minor or animal in a safe location, out of the elements but reasonably close to the vehicle, until law enforcement, fire, or another emergency responder arrives; and (6) Used no more force to enter the vehicle and remove the child or animal from the vehicle than was necessary under the circumstances…”

What You Need to Know

This is great, because as pet lovers we know that a hot car can be deadly to a dog very quickly. When the temperature outside reaches seventy degrees, it’s time to stop bringing your dog with you to run errands unless you can bring him inside with you at every stop! This is stipulated in the bill: an animal must be in imminent danger before Good Samaritans are able to break into the car to help him. If it is 50 degrees outside and there’s a dog sitting in the grocery store parking lot in a car, that dog will be fine. Let’s all make sure to use common sense!

There are a few other reasonable stipulations included in the bill. You must check to make sure the car is actually locked before you break a window. You must do minimal damage to the vehicle. You must check to make sure you cannot locate the car’s owner as well as notify police of the situation before making any moves. Make sure to read House Bill 537 in its entirety.

First Law of Its Kind

Tennessee (my home state!) is the first state with a law that allows passers-by to break into a car to save a dog. Other states have passed laws that allow only law enforcement, animal welfare officers, or other government employees to break into a locked car. Rebecca F. Wisch with Michigan State University has put together a Table of State Laws that Protect Animals Left in Parked Vehicles for easy reference.

I think that this is a well-needed law here in Tennessee, and hopefully other states will soon follow our lead in protecting some of our most vulnerable friends.

Have you ever rescued a dog from a hot car? Tell us your story!

Do You Cook for Your Dog or Cat?

Do you ever think about your dog or cat when you are preparing a home cooked meal for your family? Do they let you forget about them? I know my three dogs sit and wait expectantly anytime I’m in the kitchen, hoping to get a piece of whatever I am preparing. If we take the time to prepare healthy and fresh meals for our children and spouses, then why don’t we do it for our pets? Are we worried that it will be too time-consuming or too difficult? This is not the case! As you will see when you read on, there are many ways to prepare meals at home for our pets, so consider cooking for your pet today, on National Cook For Your Pets Day-November 1st!

Home-Preparation of a Complete Diet

The main thing to remember when we are preparing meals for our pets, especially if the meals we prepare are the only thing they are eating, is to make sure we are feeding them a whole diet with all of the vitamins and nutrients they need to be healthy and happy.

Nutrition

If you decide to start preparing all of your pet’s meals, you MUST consider nutrition! Here is an easy to understand article by The Whole Dog Journal about your dog’s nutritional needs. The main thing to take away from this is that we should feed our pets a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy and grains, which are full of vitamins and nutrients, and not just chicken and rice forever! Just like with humans, not every meal needs to contain everything your pet needs in his diet. You must just make sure that your pet gets a variety of meals, which when combined add up to a balanced and complete diet. You will want to be especially careful about this with growing puppies and kittens. Also, pets with certain health concerns may need a more specific diet. You may also need to add some supplements to your home-prepared diet.

Recipe

If you want to cook meals for your pet at home, I recommend preparing a big batch in advance and then freezing portions to make your life easier. There are some cookbooks available for purchase if you plan to start cooking your pet’s meals regularly: Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats and K9 Kitchen are two good ones with which to start. If you just want to give cooking for your dog or cat a try, start with these recipes:

Dogs: Chicken and Sweet Potato Recipe

Cats: Chicken and Eggs Recipe. This recipe makes sure to include taurine, very important for cats, through heart and liver meat, but a supplement can also be used. You must include taurine in your cat’s homemade diet!

Home-Preparation of a Partial Diet

If preparing your dog’s meals from scratch sounds like a little too much, I do understand! There is a way to partially prepare food at home to supplement packaged pet food. The Honest Kitchen has several different base mixes for dogs, which only need the protein added to make a complete diet. That’s something everyone can do, no matter how little time we like to spend in the kitchen.

Check out The Honest Kitchen’s story here. And read more about the training class they came and gave to Hollywood Feed staff here. They make great foods for dogs and cats, and you can find their base mixes (and complete diets) at your local Hollywood Feed.

A good option for the protein you can mix with Honest Kitchen’s bases, is Answers Straight chicken, beef or pork, which are raw! Answers makes many great raw products for our pets, including a complete diet called Answers Detailed. However, Answers Straight is a great option if you want to be a little more involved in mixing your dog’s meal at home. Read more about Answers Pet Food here.

Scraps From the Kitchen

If cooking for your pet just isn’t your thing, don’t worry-I have an idea! It is completely okay to toss scraps from the kitchen to our dogs (and cats if they will eat it) when we are preparing meals for ourselves. My dogs love to eat carrot tops, celery ends, potato and cucumber peel, slices of pear and apple, and pretty much anything else that I was going to throw away or of which I have a little too much for my recipe. I know that some people may have picky dogs who turn their nose up at anything that isn’t meat scraps, but if you teach your dog that veggies are good from a young age, then they will be able to enjoy them all their lives-and you won’t have to waste any food!

So let’s all make a little time today to make some dog tails wag and some cats meow with delicious and healthy home-prepared foods-no matter if we cook a full meal or just toss them a few scraps. Your furry friends will definitely thank you!

5 Reasons We Should Get a Pal for Our Pets!

We all get lonely sometimes, especially if we live or work alone without other people around! This loneliness often leads to a need to get out of the house or office and socialize with other humans. This need for companionship is often a reason some of us get a dog or cat in the first place. And let me tell you, as someone who works from home with only animals to keep me company all day, they are great companions – and I talk to them frequently!

If you don’t have the ability to work from home and you do already have a pet, though, think of how they may be feeling when you or when the whole family is gone for 8 or 10 hours every day. Sure, they spend a lot of time sleeping, but many animals crave companionship. Maybe you should think about getting a pal for your pet!

You should always make sure you have the space in your home and yard and the time to spend training and exercising a new pet before adopting. However, if you are thinking about getting a pal for your pet, here are 5 good reasons:

1. Companionship

Dogs and cats alike love to have a friend and playmate! At my house I have three dogs and two cats, and they absolutely adore each other (most of the time). You can even get a feline companion for your canine. Dogs and cats can and do get along, despite popular belief! Your dogs and cats can cuddle up with each other during the long work day, and then play together when they wake up.

2. Less Work Than We Think

Two isn’t much more work than one after you have initially housebroken and trained your new dog! A second cat is even easier. You may need to scoop your backyard or litter box a little more frequently, but a second animal doesn’t add more than a few seconds to feeding time. I still find myself sweeping my house with the same frequency as before my new additions-there’s just a little more hair to sweep up each time.

3. Save Another Life

When you adopt a second (or third) fur baby from a shelter or rescue group, then you are saving another life-and what is better than that! Remember to adopt, don’t shop, when you are looking for the new addition to your family.

4. Keep Older Pets More Active

If you have an older dog or cat and you bring a younger playmate into your home, they may have a little bit harder time adjusting to the changes-but they will definitely adjust. I know this from experience! And after the adjustment period, your older pet will have more mental activity from learning to interact with your new pet, learn new social skills, plus have more physical activity from playing with your new pet. Read more about the importance of mental and physical activity for senior pets here. Bringing a new pet into your home is good for everyone. When my cat Fender was 7, he got a new kitten to play with and he is so happy. He and Ecco spend many a night wild-eyed, playing hide-n-pounce with each other in the house. When my dogs Skeeter and Annie were 6 and 7, we got Fitzgerald-a new puppy! They gave him a hard time for being so curious for about a week or two, but now they all love to play and cuddle together.

5. More Love and Cuddles!

The more fur babies we have in our homes, the more affection we get! So, for purely selfish reasons, I love having five animals in my house all of the time. When one is tired of snuggling, another one is always ready to fill the empty spot and keep me warm. But remember, if you don’t have the space or the time for a new pet then don’t be selfish!

What are some other reasons you should get a pal for your pet? What benefits have you seen from adopting a second animal? Read about Get a Pal for Your Pet Day here.

A Few Fun Facts about the Domestication of Dogs

A Few Fun Facts about the Domestication of Dogs

 

Dogs are such a part of our lives these days that we call them ‘man’s best friend’ or our ‘fur babies’. Many of us could not image life without a dog in our lap or without lint rolling our clothes before we leave the house. But how did dogs turn into our constant companions? Here are a few fun facts and theories:

  • From the time of Charles Darwin (1809-1882), there has been discussion about how dogs came to be man’s best friend.
  • The dogs we know and love as our family members today came from a group of wolves whose path intersected with that of European hunter-gatherers thousands and thousands of years ago, according to new research published in The Scientist.
  • This new research suggests that dogs were probably domesticated sometime between 18,800 and 32,100 years ago when this intersection with humans happened in Europe.
  • Until recently, many researchers believed that dogs were domesticated by humans no more than 13,000 years ago and that this took place in East Asia or the Middle East.
  • This is not to say that dogs could not have been domesticated separately in East Asia or the Middle East, it’s just that there is not any current evidence that they were in these areas as early as they were in Europe.
  • There are several theories about how the lives of dogs and humans became intertwined:

 

    1. One theory suggests that humans valued and wanted to spend time with dogs because they were able to help kill large prey animals for food, such as wooly mammoths.
    2. Another theory is that early dogs started to spend time near humans due to the access to leftover animal carcasses when humans were finished with them.
    3. Still other people speculate that puppies, even wolf puppies, have always been so dang cute that humans were naturally attracted to them since the first time they saw them.
    4. Finally, some people believe that dogs may have originally been a food source for humans and were raised for that purpose as cattle are raised today.
  • Once the tamest wolves started to spend time near humans, it is theorized that each new generation of wolf that associated with humans after that became more and more tame. This is due to those original wolves living near humans and breeding with each other to produce even more tame offspring.
  • Dogs and wolves are closely related to this day. Their genes have not had enough time apart, especially due to continued interbreeding over the years, to separate into distinctly wolf and distinctly dog lineages.
  • The earliest remains of dogs found in North America are about 8,700 to 14,000 years old.

 

After centuries of domestication, dogs seem to be fully intertwined with our lives today. Some dogs are still used to assist humans in hunting or for protection, but the majority of dogs in our homes are just couch potatoes or running companions that keep us warm in the winter and keep smiles on our faces.

4 Benefits of Having an Active and Athletic Dog

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, or how my life would change when I adopted Annie nine years ago. She has been full of energy from the very first day she came home, and she has impressed me with her athleticism throughout the years. I have had to completely change my lifestyle to keep up with her! It has all been for the better, and Annie has really taught me a lot about appreciating all of the small joys in my life. She has also taught me to be more spontaneous-she can go from sleeping soundly to wide awake and ready to go in seconds. It’s really amazing. Here are a few reasons you should appreciate the active dog in your life:

1. Stay Active and Healthy

With an athletic dog, you will always have a friend, full of energy, ready to accompany you on your run, your walk, your bike ride, or even your swim! That makes it easy for you both to get your exercise and stay healthy. It is a great bonding experience to exercise with your dog regularly and will lengthen both of your lives. And when your dog comes to expect that regular exercise together, it will be difficult for you to disappoint her. That’s pretty good motivation, in my opinion.

2. Built-In Companion Wherever We Go

Want to hike to the top of a mountain? Your active dog will go with you, even if your husband won’t. Want to go camping? Your faithful dog will always be excited to go with you, even if you can’t find any other friends who want to sleep outdoors. Just want to walk around the block? You know exactly who would LOVE to go with you. It’s a really great feeling to have a companion who is so excited to go anywhere with you.

3. Meet New People

A dog with a high level of athleticism is just plain impressive. Ever seen a dog catch a Frisbee ten times in a row and throw in a few backflips? It’s pretty cool and may even draw a crowd. My Annie is always the first dog to get the ball when playing fetch. No matter where we are, which other dogs are around, or how long she has already been running-I have only seen Annie beaten a handful of times in her lifetime, and this has usually been due to her losing sight of the ball. Talking about your dog is also a great way to meet new people if you are shy or have any type of social phobia-dogs are an easy topic of conversation for dog lovers and these conversations are especially easy to strike up at a dog park.

4. No Worries about Weight

Weight gain is not an issue for an athletic dog! I know my Annie has never had a weight issue. She burns calories by just being ready to go do something at any moment of the day or night, not to mention the calories she burns when she is actually running and playing. The bigger concern with her is whether I need to feed her a little extra for a few days to put some weight back on! Pet obesity is a HUGE problem in America and something for which we should all be watching in our pets. Read more here.

What do you like to do with your active or athletic dog? Let us know in the comments!

5 Reasons to Scoop Your Dog’s Poop

1. If you think your pet’s poop will “go away” on it’s own, possibly from disintegration or washing away from rain, you’re wrong.

Instead, harmful, toxic bacteria seeps into the ground where it can live for weeks or months, or maybe longer, and contaminate our yards and water sources. You’re leaving a disease-ridden doggie pile for someone to step in and track into homes, cars, and businesses, and children can end up playing in the poopy area, and in turn in the harmful bacteria.

2. Dog waste carries harmful bacteria such as giardia, salmonella, E. coli, and parvovirus, as well as types of worms like hookworms, tapeworms, and even heart worms.

These bacteria can be transmitted to humans and other animals when in contact with dog waste or waste contaminated water.

3. Contrary to what many people think, your dog’s poop is NOT a type of fertilizer.

Actually, leaving it in your yard has no benefits at all. It can be very harmful, and when left on the ground during a rain shower, washes into storm drains and ultimately into our waterways. Dog waste affects natural habitats for fish and other beneficial underwater plants and animals.

4. Dog poop is a nuisance.

No one enjoys seeing, smelling, or stepping in a doggy land mine. And your friends and neighbors don’t really want their children wandering upon it either.

5. In many areas, it’s the law!

Besides just being the right thing to do, you could accumulate some nice fines if you decide not to clean up after your pet.

Join the growing number of responsible pet owners and clean up after your pet!

Did you know that dog waste is a large part of the #3 cause of water pollution today? That #3 cause is bacteria in our water sources, and a large part of that bacteria comes from animal waste run off. Yes, that includes wild animals, but with about 10 million tons of pet waste each year, and somewhere around 23 million fecal bacteria per gram of dog waste, the bacteria from pet waste run off makes a huge impact on our ecosystem.

References:

LiveScience.com,. ‘The Poop Problem: What To Do With 10 Million Tons Of Dog Waste (Op-Ed)’. N.p., 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

Water.epa.gov,. ‘Pet Waste Management | Best Management Practices | US EPA’. N.p., 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.Water.epa.gov,. ‘Three Big Pollutants | Educator Resources | US EPA’. N.p., 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

Water.epa.gov,. ‘Three Big Pollutants | Educator Resources | US EPA’. N.p., 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.