family cuddles small dog

Bark to School: How Changes in Our Routine Affect Our Dogs

Summertime is my favorite time of year, but now it is sadly starting to come to a close. Parents are busy shopping for school supplies and posting adorable pictures of their children holding “Back to School” posters on Facebook, teachers are getting back into their classrooms, and some strange people (not me) are beginning to yearn for fall weather and pumpkin lattes.

When all of our schedules change for the hectic school year ahead, we need to remember to think about our furry family members as well. Whether that means no one will be at home with the family dog during the day anymore, or whether our dogs’ time at home alone all day is simply lengthened due to lots of after school activities, there will be a noticeable change in routine for your dog!

Here are a few things that we can do to make this transition to a new schedule easier for our furry friends:

1. Routine

Did you adopt a new dog or puppy over the summer when there was a lot of time for the family to bond with and train the new addition? That’s great, but now that our human schedules will start changing for the fall, our dog’s schedule will also start to change as a result. He will be facing long lonely days at home alone instead of fun-filled adventures with kids in the backyard.

It would be a good idea to set a schedule that can be followed all year long as soon as possible upon getting our new dog or puppy. Won’t be able to feed Fido dinner until 7pm when school starts? Then don’t feed him at 5:30 pm all summer. Otherwise, don’t be surprised or upset when you come home at 6:30 on the first day of school to find your pantry invaded and a bag of chips torn open and eaten! Dogs like to know what to expect and are creatures of habit. They love to know when to expect their meals and daily walk, and they look forward to them every day without fail.

2. Crate Training

Besides forming a consistent schedule for mealtimes, walks, playtime and rest that can be followed all year round, it may be a good idea to crate train your dog. This will be especially helpful for young dogs or puppies who may still have some housebreaking or chewing issues and who cannot be trusted alone all day.

If you don’t want to crate your dog every day, or if you are trying to wean him from needing a crate, then I would suggest this. Start by leaving him home alone for a few minutes while you go for a walk down the street. Return and see if anything was destroyed in your home or if you can hear frantic barking as you leave. If everything seems okay, leave your dog uncrated while you go to the grocery. Stretch out the length of time you leave your dog home alone slowly to see how long your dog can go uncrated with good behavior. I would start this process well before it is time for your schedule to change in case there are any snags!

For more information on crate training, read our blog on how to do it here.

3. Exercise

The best way to get your dog to sleep through the day at home contentedly is to exercise him regularly! If you can manage to take your dog for exercise every morning before you leave the house, it will make a huge difference in your dog’s behavior and restfulness at home alone all day.

I cannot stress to you enough how important exercise is, especially for dogs with high energy levels and high anxiety levels. It’s worth taking up exercising yourself just to go running with your dog and be able to see the excitement, changes in behavior and long-term health benefits!

4. Distractions

After your morning exercise, another good way to help keep your dog calm all day is to find things to occupy his time. You’ve already worn him out so he’ll sleep for at least a few hours, so now leave him in the house with rawhides and stuffed Kong toys that will take some time to eat. Try freezing peanut butter or plain yogurt in a Kong to make a long-lasting and cold treat. You can also hide small treats around the house for your dog to find while you are gone. Just make sure you are leaving out treats and toys that do not require supervision and do not have parts that can come off and be swallowed while you are not home!

If you give your dog a rawhide every morning when you leave for the day, suddenly it becomes a happy and exciting time for our dogs instead of scary and lonely.

Ideally, your dog should receive his treat when you leave the house, spend a while eating it, then calmly nap for most of the day until you return home. When you get home, you should take him for a walk right away as a reward for good behavior (and to relieve himself). If you strive to make your departure from and reunion with your pet each day an exciting and pleasurable time, your dog will simply look forward to it!

What do your dog’s schedule and routine look like?

Barking Unbearable? Here are 3 Effective Products!

Barking can be a very challenging behavior for pet parents to tackle. It can be a source of frustration for us and for our neighbors and can, unfortunately, put a strain on our relationships with those neighbors, someone we’re dating, friends we would like to have over, and even with our dogs! Barking dogs often end up on the street or in shelters because many people find this a difficult behavior with which to deal. Barking is how dogs naturally make noise and communicate certain emotions, but it can be loud and obnoxious and annoying to we humans listening. Especially when it happens all the time. Your lab may be vigilantly and dutifully keeping the neighborhood cats from attacking your house, and he does not understand why you are not grateful and proud of the job he is doing.

Training your dog is a very important part of dog ownership. You should not rely solely on products for training! You must be willing to put in the time and effort daily with your dog for effective training.

That being said, barking can be a very difficult behavior to train out of a dog with solely positive reinforcement. This is mainly because many people simply don’t know how to train their dogs correctly with positive reinforcement, and some dogs take much longer to train than others. When this happens people tend to become frustrated or believe their dog simply can’t learn to stop barking. This is where the products I discuss below will come in very handy. I have used and recommend all three of these products to aid in the training process:

1. SportDog Training Collar

I have been using these training collars with my dogs for a few years now. I usually use them for off-leash recall training purposes, but I have found that training collars can be a very effective bark deterrent as well. I know that there is a debate out there about the use of training collars since they usually give off a short pop of static (not a “shock”). I personally find them to be a wonderful product as long as they are used correctly. My dogs all respond very well to the very lowest setting on the collars, which is “vibrate”, where there is no static at all. Most dogs will respond to vibrate or one or two levels above that. If you feel uncomfortable with this, I suggest that you try it on your own hand or arm first so you know what your dog will be feeling!

The main use of a training collar should be to interrupt our dog’s thought process when she is performing a behavior we want her to stop-such as barking at someone walking past our window. The point of the collar is NOT to punish our dog for every behavior we dislike, but to train her instead. The collar should only be on a dog for training purposes-not all day every day! These collars must be taken off of our pet every night or after training.

The best part about this SportDog Training Collar is that it can be controlled remotely. Instead of the collar reacting directly to the vibrations of your dog’s bark, you control when your dog is corrected from afar. This means that it is not only effective for barking, but also for other behaviors we would like our dogs to stop, like jumping or scratching at doors. Also, more than one collar can be controlled by one remote! For barking, I simply press a button on the controller, the collar is triggered, and my dog reacts (or stops reacting) because she loses her train of thought and looks around to figure out why her neck just vibrated.

2. Pet Corrector by The Company of Animals

This product is relatively new to me, as I have been using it for a few months now. Pet Corrector is a canister of compressed gas that makes a loud hissing noise when you release it. Short bursts of this noise have been the most effective barking deterrent for my dog, Fitzgerald. Until I started to use this product, Fitz was a terrible backyard barker. He barked at neighborhood cats, people walking past the fence, birds, anything! I would have to bring him in quickly or yell to get him to stop barking, which is, frankly, embarrassing.

Since I have started to use this canister when Fitz starts barking, this behavior has stopped 99% of the time. It works in the same way as training collars because the object of this product is to interrupt your dog’s train of thought so he stops barking! If Fitz does bark at someone, I don’t even need to use the canister the way it was intended anymore-I just need to pick it up. Fitz hates the noise it makes and he will immediately calm down, stop barking, and instead just stare at whatever was upsetting him quietly.

On the downside, I think this product will only be effective on some dogs, and I got lucky that Fitz is one of them. Annie, Skeeter and some guest dogs I have been dog-sitting have had very muted or no reaction to it at all, although some other guest dogs have responded well. If it does work for your dog, it’s a great product, cost effective, and it’s small and easy to carry with you wherever you may bring your dog.

3. PetSafe Outdoor Bark Control

This is the newest bark control product I have tried. This unit actually sits in the yard facing the direction from which barking may be coming. When a dog barks while he is in the range of this product, a microphone inside will pick up the bark and an ultrasonic sound is emitted. Dogs can hear this while humans cannot, and it is very effective in encouraging your dog to quit barking.

I placed two of these units in my backyard about a week ago. One facing my back door and another facing out into the yard, near my fence, where people are most likely to walk past. While Fitz, my worst barker, is doing much better with the use of the Pet Corrector canister, my other two will still bark in the backyard sometimes. I also have lots of doggy clients over at my house all the time as a pet-sitter, and I have to say that these units have been working very well! They were easy to set up and my dogs have been acting very well-behaved when they are near them. This can also be effective in stopping your neighbor’s dog from barking-FYI. It has a range of up to 50 feet!

All three of these products have been very helpful with barking at my house. What have you done to prevent unwanted barking with your dog? Have you tried any of the products I mentioned? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

Slow Feeder Solutions

Slow feeders are pretty amazing. I know that I have written about their benefits before in other blogs, but since slow feeders have been a daily part of my life for several years now, not to mention my three dogs and two cats’ lives, I think that everyone should know how fun and helpful they really are and which common problems they can help to solve. Slow feeders are super simple, easy to use, and even attractive!

So, What is a Slow Feeder?

Some of us already know what slow feeders are, but others may be wondering what all of the fuss is about…so let me fill you in. Slow feeders are pet bowls and toys that allow our dogs and cats to slow down when they chow down. Slow feeders provide obstacles in the path of Spot getting to his food, and he must overcome those obstacles before he gets to eat. The obstacles slow down our pets’ progress, thus the name slow feeders.

Slow feeders also allow our dogs and cats to ‘hunt’ a little for their food, like they would in the wild. Not quite like they would in the wild, of course, but it helps them to be in touch with their natural hunting instinct instead of greedily chowing down two times a day when we place food in front of them.

There are different sizes and different styles of slow feeders we can get for our pets, depending on their size or in order to provide variety at feeding time. Let’s talk about two of my favorites, the Kong Wobbler and the Northmate “Green” and “Catch” Interactive Feeders:

The Kong Wobbler is so much fun! It is shaped like a Kong Classic, but it’s bigger. It unscrews into two separate pieces. The bottom is filled with sand to give a little stability and resistance. To fill it with our dog’s daily kibble or treats, we simply turn the top piece upside down and fill it with kibble and then screw the top and bottom back together. There is a small opening on the side, so when you set the Kong Wobbler down on the floor and your dog starts to push it around with his nose or paws, it wobbles from side to side and spins around, and the kibbles will slowly fall out of the small hole. Voila, dinner is served!

I also have three Northmate Interactive Feeders at my house. A big “Green” Interactive Feeder for Annie, a “Green Mini” Interactive Feeder for Fitz, and a purple “Catch” Interactive Feeder for my cats. Don’t forget that cats like slow feeders, too! The Northmate Interactive Feeders are even easier for me to use than the Kong Wobbler. Simply scoop your dog or cat’s allotted kibble from the bag and dump it in the feeder. That’s it! There are plastic spikes, or obstacles, throughout the bowl. Our pets must work and think harder in order to finish their meal!

Common Issues Solved!

Besides being an easy way to feed our pets, slow feeders are actually able to help with some common pet issues that may surface with dogs and cats.

First, they can be a great tool for dogs with separation anxiety. You can fill up a Kong Wobbler, or a Northmate Green Interactive Feeder and then you can leave for work, and your dog will be occupied. He will be thinking about getting that next kibble out of his bowl instead of why you left him at home alone. Then when he’s done eating, he may forget to wonder where you are and take a satisfied nap instead!

There are physical and medical concerns that slow feeders can help with as well. When dogs or cats eat their food too quickly, many problems can arise. Dogs can get gassy, dogs or cats may vomit their food back up and it can even lead to bloat, a potentially fatal issue in dogs. Bloat occurs when a dog’s stomach expands because it is full of gas, food or liquid. This puts pressure on other organs, and can block air from easily getting to our dog’s lungs. A dog’s stomach can also twist when bloated, turning upside down and cutting off blood flow, which can cause a dog to go into shock. This is very serious and if you suspect your dog is suffering from bloat, go to the veterinarian immediately!

Bloat is pretty scary, and gas and vomiting are pretty gross. Slow feeders can help to prevent these issues by causing our pets to SLOW DOWN!

Benefits We May Not Expect

Besides helping with separation anxiety for some dogs, slow feeders can be used to occupy time and expend energy in pets when we need to concentrate on something else. It can also provide a fun indoor activity for dogs and cats when it’s raining or very cold outside. It is also fun for people! When our pets are first learning how to use the slow feeders, it can provide lots of entertainment for humans to watch. Read about more ways to keep your dog occupied indoors during the cold winter here.

Mental stimulation is also very important for young pups, senior dogs, and everyone in between! Having to work and think to get kibble out of a slow feeder is great stimulation for an aging brain, and may help prevent some of the disorientation and memory troubles associated with old age in pets. It is also great to keep young puppies’ minds growing and learning how to solve problems and interact with the world. At any age, slow feeders stimulate the brain! Here is more information about aging pets and ways to help them.

Slow feeders also provide a little physical activity for our dogs and cats! The Kong Wobbler causes my dogs to push it around the house, constantly moving and bending to get their kibble. More calories are burned in this longer, more active, mealtime than just standing still and eating out of a regular bowl. My cats actually have to reach their paws into the Catch Interactive Feeder for every bite they take and pull it out to their mouths. It must be good for their dexterity as well! Read more about ways to get your pet healthy and active in 2016 here.

Slow feeders provide many benefits for our dogs and cats, but what about us? Personally, I love how easy slow feeders are to use. We can just dump kibble or even canned food (probably not in the Kong Wobbler, but wet food is great in the Interactive Feeders) into the bowl and let your dog or cat go to town! I have put my slow feeders in the dishwasher multiple times for easy cleaning, and it works great!

Besides all of the great physical and mental health benefits that slow feeders provide, they are also attractive and interesting to look at in our homes and see every day. Most pet bowls can’t say that! They are also a great conversation starter when we have someone over to our house for dinner and they ask, “What is that green thing on the ground over there?”. With so many benefits, why don’t we all have slow feeders in our homes?!

two dogs relax by fireplace with pumpkins

How To Share Thanksgiving Dinner with Our Pets

While we are all sitting around our Thanksgiving tables with family and friends, loaded with delicious foods, it can be hard to resist giving in to puppy dog eyes. After all, we love our dogs and cats like family, and want them to enjoy Thanksgiving, too!

There is nothing wrong with treating our pets to some people food on Thanksgiving-or any day for that matter! (Read about the pros and cons of feeding table scraps here.) We just need to make sure we are choosing the right foods to share with our fur babies this holiday and practicing moderation.

In the Kitchen

Start Thanksgiving a little early and treat your pets to some delicious food while you are in the kitchen preparing your holiday meal:

Pumpkin and Sweet Potato

These are great foods to share with your pet-especially before you turn them into pie or casserole and add lots of sugar and salt. Give the peel from your sweet potatoes to your dogs, mine love it! Toss them a chunk of pumpkin while you are chopping and pureeing for pie.  The fiber in pumpkin can also help prevent diarrhea in dogs and cats alike if they do over-indulge in strange foods this year.

Veggie Scraps

While you are preparing food for your big feast, it is perfectly okay to toss carrot tops or green beans to your dog. This is a great way to involve a dog who is on a diet with the Thanksgiving festivities. Veggies are healthy, safe and low calorie for our pets-just like for humans. Avoid sharing onion with your dogs, though.

Raw Turkey Bone

Giving your dog a raw turkey bone, while supervised, is safe for most dogs! Turkey bones are flexible and soft when they are raw, thus allowing your dog to chew up the bone before swallowing. If your dog is very large or if you know him to be a gulper, not a chewer, you will want to make sure he doesn’t try to swallow the bone whole, as this can be a choking hazard. Supervision is always necessary when feeding bones to our pets!

At the Table

So, what foods are safe to give our pets while we’re enjoying our meal at the table? Here are a few ideas:

Turkey

Cooked turkey is a great choice for our dogs and cats, but DO NOT give your pet cooked turkey bone! You can give him some turkey meat, but a cooked bone will splinter and can puncture your dog or cat’s esophagus or stomach. Just take into account what spices you may have rubbed on your turkey skin-you may want to give your dog or cat turkey without skin if this may upset his stomach.

Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Carrots and Cranberries

These foods are all perfectly safe to share with your pet in moderation! This is especially true if they are not cooked in a lot of salt and sugar. Again, moderation is key when you are feeding your pet on Thanksgiving, but most veggies are a safe bet!

No Xylitol!

Xylitol is used as a substitute for sugar in human foods and candies, but it can be deadly for dogs. Even a very small amount. If you are cooking with Xylitol this year, please keep it away from your pets!

Ask Before Feeding

 

Remember, if you are a guest at someone’s home for Thanksgiving, or for any occasion, do not feed their pet unless you ask first. Some pets are on a very strict diet for issues with weight gain, or because anything out of the ordinary could cause a serious health condition for them. I have a friend whose dog has a seizure EVERY TIME she eats something besides her very regimented diet. Please be safe rather than sorry and make sure it is okay to feed your friend or family member’s pet!

If you are hosting Thanksgiving at your house, be sure to let your guests know if your pet should not receive any extra foods up front.

If you follow these guidelines and use your common sense, your dog, cat, friends and family should all be able to celebrate and eat happily together this Thanksgiving!

happy shepherd mix with water bowl in background

What are the Benefits of Feeding Raw?

If you are curious about feeding your pet a raw or partially raw diet, then listen up! Primal Pet Foods is one of the amazing brands that Hollywood Feed carries to help meet every pet’s needs. They have frozen raw and freeze dried pet food formulas for both dogs and cats. Primal makes complete diets, formulas for mixing into other foods as a supplement, treats, bones, and fermented goat’s milk!

But, Raw Makes Me Nervous

I hear people say that they don’t believe a raw diet is safe for their pets and may make them sick. This is not true! Dogs and cats eat raw meat in the wild. As they became domesticated by humans, we fed them our raw leftovers until processing began relatively recently in the 1930s with the introduction of canned foods. In the 1950s, kibble became very popular. So, the way we currently feed our pets is pretty new to them and their bodies and it is taking its toll on our pets’ health. Issues like obesity and diabetes did not use to exist for our pets, but with the advent of processed foods in both the human and the pet food sectors, we have all started to see more medical issues arise.

The FDA requires that any foods sold for raw consumption test at 0% for salmonella, e. coli and listeria. Primal adheres to these guidelines and a random sampling of all of their foods, treats, and bones are submitted for 3rd party testing. The food being tested is held at Primal’s facility until the test results come back and only then sent to stores to be sold.

Primal prides itself on the fact that it only sources the healthiest animals with the most humane treatment for all of its products. Salmonella should not be found in healthy pigs, cows, lamb, and other four legged mammals. But healthy fowl all contain naturally occurring levels of salmonella. To kill that salmonella, Primal uses high-pressure processing (HPP). Instead of using heat, HPP uses thousands of pounds of pressure, which when applied to the food will burst single cell organisms like salmonella while leaving multi-cell beneficial organisms intact.

This means that your pet’s raw food is safe and quality checked every time! When handling any raw meat, even raw meat sold for human consumption, please use common sanitation practices including hand washing and washing of any bowls and utensils used.

Stomach Health

If your pet has a sensitive stomach, digestive issues, or regurgitation issues, then it is very likely that switching to a raw diet can help here as well.

Many people see problems when they feed their pets a food that is high starches. Our pets have trouble breaking up starches in the stomach because they are not meant to eat them. Starches actually lower stomach acidity-the acidity is what breaks down food! This is why your dog may vomit his food back up, which increases stomach acidity, and then eat the regurgitated food again with more success due to that increased stomach acidity. This is also why some pets frequently have upset stomachs.

By feeding a raw diet with Primal instead, you naturally have a high stomach acid because there is no starch to decrease it, and the raw meat has active enzymes that further contribute to successful digestion. Plus, it is way tastier than extruded kibble!

Dental Health

The food you feed your pet affects his entire body, from nose to toes, including dental health!

Raw marrow bones are a natural way to keep your dog’s teeth scraped free of tartar. Just think about it: while chewing on the raw bone, your dog scrapes his teeth repeatedly over it, like the friction of a toothbrush. This is how an undomesticated dog or a wolf in the wild keeps his teeth clean.

If we are feeding our pets a food high in starches (which turn into sugar), then it causes a lot more damage to our cats and dog’s teeth, gums and overall dental health because it is a completely different diet than what they would be eating if left to their own devices.

Dogs and cat’s bodies are meant to eat raw meat. Dogs have developed and changed over time to also eat fruits and vegetables to supplement their diet (cats, not so much). If you are feeding your pet a diet high in starch, using raw bones is a great way to help clean your dog’s teeth. This can end up saving you lots of money on dental cleanings at the vet, plus your pet will love you even more for the tasty treat! Learn more about how to safely feed raw bones here.

Better than using raw bones supplementary to clean teeth, switch your pet to a completely raw diet! This will prevent the tartar and plaque build-up from the beginning. Dental health is very important to your pet’s overall health-don’t take it lightly!

Other Benefits

Besides good dental and stomach health, feeding a raw diet will decrease the amount of stool your pet passes because he is actually using everything he eats. High starch diets contain ingredients that your pet simply poops right out without providing him any benefit. This means you are paying for food your pet isn’t using, and you have to scoop large, stinky piles of poop from your yard instead of small, not very stinky ones.

A raw diet can also increase your pet’s energy, reduce shedding, and give him a healthy and shiny coat. If you have a dog whose eyes tear a lot and leave stains, or ears that become infected and stinky-that is the result of toxins leaving the body. A raw diet can eliminate these eye and ear issues.

The Best Ingredients

Primal only uses the very best ingredients in their foods. This includes:

  • Whole Food Sources
  • Organic Fruits and Vegetables
  • Naturally Occurring Vitamins and Minerals (many companies choose to add synthetic vitamins and minerals to meet AAFCO standards)
  • Hormone and Antibiotic-Free Meat
  • Humanely Raised Animals

 

Primal also has sourcing transparency. Just visit their website to learn more.

Hollywood Feed carries only the healthiest pet foods with the best ingredients. They have a great selection of foods that can meet any pet’s health needs and any pet parent’s budget. Visit your local Hollywood Feed to talk with our highly knowledgeable staff about feeding your pet a raw diet today!

dog in Mississippi Made cotton pattern dog bed

Skipping Your Dog’s Daily Walk? 4 Reasons You Shouldn’t

Going for walks with our dogs is very rewarding, not only for our four legged friends and their sniffing noses but also for us. Hollywood Feed makes a great line of Mississippi Made collars and leashes that are perfect tools for taking our dogs out on the town. These collars and leashes are actually cut and sewn in Mississippi, and all of the fabric is locally sourced! Hollywood Feed takes pride in the fact that our Mississippi Made brand contributes to the local economy instead of going overseas for materials and manufacturing.

The collars are also absolutely adorable, and the patterns match many of Hollywood Feed’s Mississippi Made beds. So, besides supporting products made in the USA, our doggies can also be fashionable! Here are a few reasons that you should get out of your backyard and walk your dog every week!!

1. Physical Health

dog training: corgi puppy on a leash from a woman

 

The most important reason to walk your dog is for her health! Every dog needs some daily exercise, even our senior dogs. We can help to keep our dogs younger, longer with daily walks and a proper diet. Walking with our dogs also burns calories and builds muscle in our own bodies-bonus! Plus, with exercise and weight loss or maintenance, many health problems can be prevented or turned around. Keeping our dogs physically healthy into old age is the kindest thing we can do for our pets and will give them the quality of life they deserve. Daily walks are a major part of this process.

2. Mental Health

Our dogs like to get around! It’s difficult for them to be cooped up in our houses and yards all of the time. Walking with your dog gives him a chance to use that nose to sniff new things and stimulate his brain.  It can also help with some destructive behaviors, because your dog will be too tired to tear up your things when you aren’t home. Wouldn’t you be bored if you never got to leave your house?

3. Bonding

A daily walk or two with your dog is the best time for bonding with a new dog, or bonding with your older dog who sits around all day eagerly waiting for you to come home and pay attention to her. Going out and exploring the world (or neighborhood) together is what your dog is really craving instead of extra treats, and it’s much healthier! You and your dog will be walking the neighborhood experiencing things together as a pack. In fact, the whole family should go on walks to enjoy this group bonding experience!

4. Training

Cropped shot of a husky being trained by his owner in the parkhttp://195.154.178.81/DATA/shoots/ic_781592.jpg

Taking a walk together gives you the perfect opportunity to train your dog! Get some of your dog’s energy out so you can have his undivided attention, and then practice sit, stay, heel, come, down, or whatever you want. Additionally, training your dog to walk calmly on a leash and heel will be the best thing you ever did if you want to take your dog to parks, to sit on patios at restaurants, or into a crowded festival or event. A well-trained dog is a happy dog, and a walk is the perfect time to make this happen.

There are so many other reasons that we should walk with our dogs-what are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comment section below!

black and tan dachshund next to first aid kit, white background

How to Save Your Pet’s Life with CPR

You will NOT be expecting it when your pet suddenly starts choking or stops breathing for no reason. Even though this can be an unexpected and scary situation, knowing how to perform CPR on your dog or cat may mean that you could save his life in an emergency. I have been certified to perform CPR on humans many times over, but I have never been officially trained on how to perform it on my pets. For this reason, I was greatly excited to attend the CPR training by Dr. Laura Bahorich, VMD, with Memphis Veterinary Specialists (MVS). Dr. Bahorich has been working in ER medicine at MVS for 9 years and she showed Hollywood Feed employees some very important life-saving techniques. She is pictured in this post with her CPR dummy and I pulled the other pictures from her presentation!

What is CPR?

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR, is a life-saving measure that can be performed on both humans and animals when a cardiopulmonary arrest has occurred. The object of CPR is to manually provide blood flow and oxygen to the brain and other organs when the body cannot do this on its own. It turns out that we pet lovers who end up having to perform CPR at home are actually more successful than doctors in veterinary clinics (for a number of reasons)-but this definitely means that we should all be prepared and know what we are doing!

Some of the main reasons you may have to perform CPR on your dog or cat include: choking, vomiting, arrhythmia, anemia, trauma, and problems related to anesthesia. You may be able to tell that your dog or cat is going into cardiopulmonary arrest if he collapses, loses consciousness, becomes non-responsive, has a change in breathing, blood pressure, pulse or heart rate, or if you notice fixed or dilated pupils, blue gums or tongue, or low body temperature.

The ABC’s of CPR

CPR consists of two main components for non-medical professionals at home: chest compressions and rescue breathing. You can remember the proper order of steps for CPR by remembering to follow the ABC’s.

A is for Airway.

First, examine your pet’s airway for blockages. Make sure your pet is lying on his side, preferably the right, with his neck extended so that his airway is long and clear. Pull his tongue out of his mouth and then stick your hand in your pet’s mouth and throat, and sweep out any foreign objects or saliva. Be careful not to push a foreign object blocking your pet’s airway further inside.

B is for Breathing.

After you have cleared your pet’s airway, make sure that he is not breathing on his own (watch for rise and fall in the chest for a few seconds only). Your pet may be able to breathe on his own again if you have cleared a blockage. If he is still not breathing, then perform mouth to snout rescue breaths by closing your pet’s mouth with your hand and then blowing into your pet’s nose, watching his lungs expand as you do so. Give a second breath after you have seen your pet’s lungs expand and deflate. You should give one breath every six seconds, or 10 breaths per minute. Make sure you are counting! Too many breaths can be harmful. Give two full breaths before you move on to the next step-chest compressions.

C is for Circulation.

Next, you should check for your pet’s heart beat or pulse. If you cannot find one, you will have to circulate blood throughout your pet’s body in place of his heart. This is where chest compressions come in. Make sure your dog or cat is lying on his (preferably right) side on a firm surface. After you give the first two rescue breath, you will perform 30 compressions and then you will repeat the 2 breaths and 30 compressions. Try doing this to the tune of Stayin’ Alive-it will help you keep the beat and help to keep you positive and focused on the goal of CPR!

For most medium to large dogs, chest compressions will look similar to those for humans. Place one hand over the other, hold your arms straight with your shoulders over elbows over wrists and make 30-50% compressions over the heart or widest portion of the chest. With a barrel chested dog, you will want to place the dog on his back and do compressions over the sternum. With cats and small dogs, you will use two hands to cup their chest and perform compressions by squeezing your hands closed.

It’s best if you have a partner to perform CPR with, but it can be done by oneself if necessary. If you have a partner, you will want to trade off doing chest compressions because this can be the more strenuous part of CPR.

When Should I Stop CPR?

You will continue to perform CPR until one of the following things occurs: You become too physically exhausted to perform CPR anymore, a medical professional or other qualified CPR performer takes over, until you find a strong and regular heartbeat or pulse in your pet, or if you have performed CPR for ten minutes with no signs of life.

If your dog does become responsive after you perform CPR, watch his breathing and heart rate very closely and get him to your veterinarian right away so that he can be stabilized and examined for causes of the cardiopulmonary arrest.

A pet who has just been resuscitated is more likely to stop breathing again, and rescue breaths may need to be performed even after you detect a heartbeat in your pet and you stop chest compressions.

***This blog is not a substitute for veterinary care!

dog gets check-up

Introduction to Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

What is Cushing’s Disease?

Cushing’s Disease is a condition that occurs when our bodies produce too much cortisol, usually due to a tumor in the pituitary gland. Cortisol is an important hormone and participant in the endocrine system. It is produced by our bodies to metabolize proteins and carbohydrates and helps with weight control, blood sugar levels, stress response, and to fight infections among many other important roles.

When too much cortisol is produced, our bodies can suppress our immune systems and also cause metabolic distress, which can lead to multiple problems including high blood pressure and gastrointestinal issues. Cushing’s Disease can affect people as well as many animals, including our beloved dogs. This condition is most likely to affect middle-aged and older dogs, and subtle symptoms can present themselves for years without recognition.

Symptoms

Here is a list of symptoms for which you should be on the lookout-but remember that many of these symptoms can look like regular signs of aging, like muscle weakness and loss of energy. Be very observant of your dogs and these warning signs!

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Stomach bloating
  • Thinning skin and hair
  • Darkening and bruising of skin
  • Blackheads or white scaly patches on the skin
  • Lethargy
  • Increased panting
  • Incontinence or increased frequency of urination
  • Skin infections
  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle weakness

If you see these symptoms in your dog, it may be a sign of Cushing’s Disease, but it may also be warning signs for many other illnesses or health issues. Get your dog in to the vet quickly if you begin seeing these symptoms so diagnosis and treatment can begin!

Types and Treatments

There are two main types of Cushing’s Disease in dogs, and your veterinarian can perform a variety of tests to diagnose this disease.

Adrenal-dependent

This type of Cushing’s Disease is caused by a tumor in the adrenal gland and is the cause of about 20% of cases. Surgery is usually the best treatment option in this case, unless the tumor has already spread from the adrenal gland to other parts of the body or your dog has other health conditions that prevent surgery.

Pituitary-dependent

This type of Cushing’s Disease is the cause of 80% of cases and the prognosis is normally good. It can be caused by a tumor in or enlargement of the pituitary gland, which controls hormone production. Medication is usually the best treatment option in these cases (and if surgery is not an option in adrenal-dependent Cushing’s), and there are a variety of options you can discuss with your veterinarian. Remember that these medications will probably have to continue for the duration of your dog’s life.

Latrogenic

There is another, less common, form of Cushing’s Disease called Iatrogenic Cushing’s Syndrome, which is caused by long-term steroid use. Treatment of this requires gradually discontinuing the steroids.

You definitely do not want to ignore Cushing’s Disease! It can lead to many serious and life-threatening health issues if it goes untreated. This is just a brief explanation of the causes, symptoms and treatment. For more in depth information, see what the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine has to say here.

*This blog is not a substitute for veterinary care. Please consult your veterinarian if you suspect a health issue with your pet.
beagle puppy watches snow fall

Is It Too Cold Outside for My Pet?

The long, lazy, wonderful summer seems to have finally ended. There have been several nights below freezing, now. Some people are saying, “Finally!” Other people, people like me, are saying, “NOOOOO!” No matter how you feel about the cold weather, though, remember that your pets are affected by it. If you have to put on your coat to stand to be outdoors, then it is too cold to leave your dog or cat outside.

Better Off Big and Furry

Some dogs may be better suited to the cold weather than others. Common sense tells us that large dogs with undercoats and lots of fur will fare better than a small dog with a thin coat since their bellies are closer to the ground and may come in contact with snow and ice. Some of the dogs that do better in cold weather are Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyeds. But even these dogs are sensitive to the cold at times, especially if they live in warm climates for most of the year.

Bad Things Happen to Cold Pets

Not bringing your pet inside on cold nights could be detrimental to their health, or even fatal. Remember that there is a potential for serious harm when you decide to leave your pet outside, cold and alone.

  • Frostbite
  • Hypothermia
  • Worsened arthritis
  • Difficulty regulating body temperature
  • Cracked, bleeding paw pads
  • Potentially freezing to death

Signs My Pet May Be Too Cold

Watch for these signs that your dog or cat is ready to come inside:

  • Whining or barking while making eye contact with you
  • Shivering
  • Anxiety, pacing, clinging to you or trying to climb your leg
  • Standing still and not moving at all
  • Looking for shelter under a bush or car

Check Under the Hood

It’s also too cold outside for cats! Strays or your neighbor’s outdoor cat will seek out a warm place, which may be your car engine. Be extra careful in the fall and winter when starting your car. Bring in your outdoor or indoor/outdoor cats at night when the temperatures are low.

If You Must

I know some people have outdoor dogs and cats, but please have mercy on them!! Even if you have an outdoor shelter for your dog, he may not use it. If you do not want your outdoor pet inside your house, consider giving them a warm bed in your garage away from cold winds and frost. If you must leave them outside, then their shelter should be insulated, have lots of warm blankets and have a source of heat. They also need to always have access to non-frozen water.

Warm House, Warm Lap, Warm Bed, Warm Heart

We should all accompany our pets outside daily at this time of year. When we feel too cold and want to go back inside, our pets feel the same way. Let’s bring them into our warm homes, and they will help to keep us warm, as well.

golden retriever holds american flag in mouth

Today is Dogs in Politics Day!

With all of the political ads and debates going on right now leading up to our next presidential election, it is easy to get swept up in the madness and think about all of the differences between us and our fellow man. Instead, let’s take a little time to relax and talk about something all of our presidents have had in common, from George Washington to Barack Obama – animals! While not every president has had dogs and cats, they have all had a pet of some kind. Animals can bring us together during these tumultuous times.

September 23rd is Dogs in Politics Day, also known as Checkers Day. This holiday came about in 1952 when Richard Nixon gave a speech defending the monetary backing for his vice presidential campaign. In the speech, Nixon admitted to receiving a gift in the form of a black and white dog named Checkers, while denying using any campaign money for personal use. This speech became famous after being watched by a record 60 million Americans and boosted Nixon’s appeal. Now a Checkers speech refers to any emotional political speech.

Here are a few of the more interesting presidential pets and their stories!

George Washington

(Presidential Term: April 30th, 1789 – March 4th, 1797)

Our first president had many pets at the Whitehouse, including dogs, horses, and a donkey as well as a parrot owned by Martha Washington. Among his dogs, he had black and tan coonhounds with the fun names Drunkard and Tipsy!

Thomas Jefferson

(Presidential Term: March 4th, 1801 – March 4th, 1809)

Our third president kept two bear cubs at the Whitehouse briefly, before turning them over to Peale’s Museum. They were a gift from Captain Zebulon Pike who bought them while exploring the southern portion of the Louisiana Territory. Jefferson also had a mockingbird named Dick and Briards, one of whom was named Buzzy. Read more here (source).

James Buchanan

(Presidential Term: March 4th, 1857 – March 4th, 1861)


Our fifteenth president, and one of only two bachelors who were elected president, had a Newfoundland named Laura to keep him company. She may be the biggest dog ever kept at the Whitehouse at about 170 lbs. He also had a toy terrier named Punch. Buchanan received a herd of elephants as a gift from the King of Siam and is said to have kept one at the Whitehouse, while giving the rest to a zoo.

Theodore Roosevelt

(Presidential Term: September 14th, 1901 – March 4th, 1909)

Our 26th president had too many animals to count! His list of pets includes a rabbit, a pig, a bear, guinea pigs, birds, and reptiles. He also had cats and lots of dogs, including a Saint Bernard named Rollo! The teddy bear was also named after Theodore Roosevelt, after a display of good sportsmanship. Roosevelt, despite being a big game hunter, refused to shoot a black bear that his party had caught and tied to a tree. Read more here (source).

John F. Kennedy

(Presidential Term: January 20th, 1961 – November 22nd, 1963)

Our 35th president had dogs, cats, birds, ponies, hamsters, a rabbit and a horse. He and his family owned dogs of many different breeds, including a gift from the Premier of the Soviet Union-a puppy named Pushinka. Pushinka was the offspring of the soviet space dog Strelka. Along with her comrades, Strelka was the first living creature to survive a trip into space. The Kennedy family also had a cocker spaniel named Shannon. Read more here (source).

Ronald Reagan

(Presidential Term: January 20th, 1981 – January 20th, 1989)

 

Our 40th president owned horses, which he kept at Rancho del Cielo, his vacation home in California. He also had many different dog breeds. These include a Bouvier des Flandres named Lucky and a Siberian Husky named Taca. Reagan seems to have had an affinity for large dogs!

Barack Obama

(Presidential Term: January 20th, 2009 – present day)

Even our current president and his family have become part of the club! They may not have as exciting an array of pets as some of our previous presidents- but times have changed. They enjoy spending time with their two Portuguese Water Dogs named Bo and Sunny, who I hear Malia and Sasha very badly wanted and love! The choice of dog breed was made due to Malia’s allergies.

Do you know any other interesting presidential pet facts? Let us know in the comment section below!