Monday, November 17, 2014

Top Caring Tips for Your Pregnant Mutt

Whether your mutt's pregnancy was planned or not, providing your full care and attention for her during this time is crucial to the health and development of her future puppies and for your mutt herself. Below are important guidelines that will help walk pet owners through the next eight to nine weeks of pregnancy:

Few Quick Facts
  • A full pregnancy term is approximately 63 days (or roughly 9 weeks).
  • There are three trimesters - 21 days for each trimester.
  • Your mutt's nutritional and environmental needs will start to change.
First Trimester
During the first trimester, you most likely will not notice any major changes to your mutt's physicality and energy level. There may be some mild morning sickness or a slight attitude shift, but overall there is minimal fetal development during this time, so you can keep the food quantity and exercise level the same. Put a pause on flea or other insecticide treatments. If you are worried about worms for your dog, consult with your trusted vet to see what safe, mild dewormer you can use. As for other medications your dog might be on, again put it on hold and consult with your trusted vet before continuing the use of them.

Second Trimester
As you move into the second trimester of the pregnancy, you can start to see some weight gain on
your dog as the fetuses start to grow. At this point, cut back on the exercise level (such as jumping, running, or limit working dogs) and increase the quantity of healthy foods. Find a quiet, stress-free area in your house for your mutt to rest. A well-balanced and healthy diet is essential to the development of the fetuses and their mom. Depending on your dog's situation, you can ask your vet about adding certain vitamins to your mutt's diet - DO NOT add these supplements without consulting with your vet first though. Make sure your pet always have fresh, clean (as in filtered) water. Also, keep her contact with other animals limited and don't make any major home environment changes (i.e. move furniture around, introducing new pets, or having lots of guests over). The key during this time is to give your mutt plenty of rest and nutrients, provide a stress-free place, and limit the chances of contracting diseases. Be sure to also take your mutt in for her regular check ups with the vet and go more often if necessary.

Third Trimester
Everything that we covered in the second trimester is even more crucial now in the last trimester. At this point you will noticeably see an enlarged belly area; your mutt will need more rest from pregnancy exhaustion; and she may be very moody due to the hormonal changes. One good tip is to take your dog in to the groomers for a maternity cut where they will clean and shave the belly area. If you don't, your mutt will most likely start to shed its belly hair anyway. It's a way for the body to prep for the actual birthing and nursing of the new born puppies. Now would be a good time to buy or build a whelping box where your mutt will give birth and place it in the same area as her resting place. It is important that you keep a close watch on your dog especially the last two weeks of the third trimester because she can give birth at any time. Some signs for going into labor are drop in body temperature, swollen vulva or discharge from vulva, abnormal behavior like excessive panting or digging, and lack of appetite. Also have your vehicle ready and know where the nearest 24-hour pet emergency is in case you have to take your mutt to the hospital for complications during labor.

Keeping your mutts happy, healthy, and hearty!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Top Q&A for a Senior Dog's Diet

Just like humans, our beloved mutts' bodies and dietary demands change as they age. Their metabolism, activity level, and ability to fight off infections usually decrease. While some of these cannot be avoided, there are still certain body changes that you can manage with a good healthy, senior diet.

When is my dog considered a senior dog?
While size and breed are determining factors of how well your dog ages, below are rough age ranges for your mutt to be considered a senior dog:
  • Small and medium dogs less than 50 pounds: 7 years old
  • Large dogs up to 90 pounds: 6 years old
  • Giant dogs over 90 pounds: 5 years old
What does a senior diet consist of?
Not all senior dog foods are good replacements. Unless recommended otherwise by your trusted vet, you would want to switch your mutt's current diet to a senior diet that has the same amount of (or sufficient) protein and fiber with less calories and fat. The protein will help maintain your mutt's muscles, and the fiber will help with regulating its digestive system and keeping your mutt feeling full. Because of the decrease in metabolism and activity level, less calories and fat equals lower chance of gaining weight which helps prevent other unwanted diseases.

What should I do if my dog doesn't seem to be hungry?
While eating less could be a good way to maintain your mutt's weight, too much weight loss could also be unhealthy. A couple of ways to help increase your dog's caloric intake is (1) mixing some soft canned food to the dog pebbles or (2) adding a little bit of water to the dry food to help soften the pebbles for better chewing.

What other things can I do as a pet owner to help my dog's aging process?
There are many things a dog owner can help ease the aging process for their mutts. The most helpful one is taking your dog into the vet for its regular check ups. Talk to your vet about any suspicious behavioral changes, dietary needs like extra vitamins or supplements, and any other things you can do to help prevent diseases that may be arise.

Keeping your mutts happy, healthy, and hearty!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tips & Tricks: Building a First Aid Kit for Your Dog

It is always helpful to familiarize yourself with what a first aid kit would look like for your mutts because accidents can happen at anytime. If you are prepared, you can help significantly reduce the severity of an injury and maybe even avoid death. It may also be wise to have multiple kits for emergency use, like a larger kit at home and a smaller kit in the car.

Below are some of the essentials of building your first aid kit for your dogs:
  • A clean blanket
  • Nail clipper
  • Rectal therometer
  • Vaseline or KY jelly
  • A muzzle
  • Tweezers
  • Hemostats
  • Styptic powder
  • Bandaging materials: roll of gauze, first aid tape, non-stick pads at minimum
  • Medication: your dogs' regular meds (if any - be sure to follow instructions regarding storing the meds in certain room temperatures), multi-purpose wound care gels/sprays that can help clean/treat/heal wounds, and any other easy & quick products like eye solution to flush out unwanted bodies or cortisol cream for itchy bug bites
  • Other items that may come in handy depending on the type of first aid kit you are putting together (i.e. first aid kit for hiking, camping, search & rescue...etc.)
Keep in mind that the purpose of a first aid kit is to try to temporarily stabilize the situation in an event of an injury. Depending on the injury, your best option may still be to visit a vet as soon as possible. For more information on which products and other items to add to your canine first aid kit, consult with your trusted vet.

Keeping your mutts happy, healthy, and hearty!

Friday, September 5, 2014

3 Steps to Follow When You Find a Stray Dog

One of the worst nightmares for pet owners is realizing that our beloved mutt has gone missing. So if you were to ever encounter a stray, here are three steps that will help you help the dog get back to his/her owner quickly and safely.
  1. Observe the dog and its surroundings for safety - The first thing to be aware of when you see a stray dog is to observe the dog's behavior and its surroundings. Do not make sudden movements, whether that's slamming on the brake when you're driving or run excitedly to the mutt. Observe calmly and see if the mutt is in a dangerous situation (like in the middle of traffic) or if the mutt is showing any signs of aggression, nervousness, or rabidness towards you or others. If you don't feel like the stray is approachable, then take note of its location and call animal control. If you can, you may stay with the mutt until help arrives. If you feel like the dog is approachable and friendly, then calmly allow the mutt into your car and drive it to the nearest animal shelter or vet clinic if you see that the mutt is injured. Keep in mind that picking up a mutt may not be the best idea especially if the dog is injured and may react to your touch aggressively when it's in pain.
  2. Seek professional help - So you have the dog in your possession; now what? If the dog does not have a tag or any other types of identifier that you can see, then the next best thing is to take it to the nearest animal shelter where they can scan for registered microchips for further investigation. Depending on the situation, the shelter may take the stray in or may release temporary caring rights to you. The shelter usually will take photos of the dog and your contact information in case the owners come looking for their pet. If you decide to temporarily care for the stray, you may want to consider taking the mutt to a trusted vet to make sure it doesn't have any internal injuries, parasites, or diseases. Keep in mind that you may be the one that is financially responsible for these vet bills.
  3. Spread the word - Don't assume that all strays were abandoned or left unwanted. Think that if this were your dog that's lost, what would you do to find it? Make a valiant effort to help spread the word about this lost pet through friends, families, church groups, local community news boards, internet, social media...etc. If enough time has passed and there is still no contact from the original owners, you may consider adopting this as your own pet. Your local animal shelter can provide you with the appropriate length of waiting time required by your local authorities before officially letting you adopt the mutt. Just keep in mind that there still may be a chance that the original owners may still find you and wan their pet back. Be prepared to have a realistic plan in mind if and when that happens.
Keeping your mutts happy, healthy, and hearty!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Top Q&A About Heat Stroke in Dogs

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from heat strokes too if they are not taken care of properly. In some circumstances, a dog can be more prone to getting a heat stroke because it relieves most of its body heat and sweat through panting. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions and answers to what a pet owner should know about heat strokes in their mutts.

Under what conditions can my dog get heat stroke?
There are many conditions in which a dog can suffer heat stroke. The most common include exercising your mutts in hot and/or humid weather, not enough access to fresh water, leaving your mutt in a car when it is warm outside (even if you crack your windows!), and/or being left out in the sun with no shade.

What are some symptoms of a heat stroke for dogs?
  • Heavy, labored or troubled panting
  • Vomitting
  • Weakness/collapsing
  • Confusion
  • Dry, tacky pale gums
  • Seizures/coma
How do I prevent my dog from a heat stroke?
There are several ways pet owners can help prevent their mutts from a heat stroke. Many of them are easy to implement such as providing adequate shade and enough fresh water if your mutts are outside; allowing your mutts to access an air-conditioned room periodically; exercising them in the morning or evening when it is not the warmest time of the day, and keeping their fur/hair short during the summer months.

What should I do if my dog does get heat stroke?
The best treatment for heat stroke is to take your mutt to your trusted vet as soon as possible. Depending on the situation, you may have to help your dog cool down first before bringing it to the vet. Gently pouring cool (not ice cold) water over your mutts' body or blowing cool air on your mutts are good ways to help them safely decrease their body temperature. Keep in mind that in some dogs, symptoms of a heat stroke may be delayed. So your best treatment for a heat stroke is prevention!

Keeping your mutts happy, healthy, and hearty!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Top Q&A for Cherry Eyes in Dogs

What is a cherry eye?
  • A prolapse of the third eyelid gland - meaning that the membrane located in the corner of a dog's eye, which houses a tear gland, is inflamed. So a dog that has a cherry eye would have a red or pinkish swollen bump in the inner corners of its eye.
What causes a cherry eye?
  •  For reasons that are unclear, the membrane around the tear gland grows weak and starts moving around. The movement usually causes irritation and leads to the swelling of the gland. Cherry eyes are mostly hereditary, so certain breeds like Shih Tzus, Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos, and other small breeds. It's also thought to be caused by parasites, infections, cancer and/or immune system issues. 
 What are some signs of a cherry eye?
  • Eye redness, swelling of the inner corner(s), mucus and/or excess watery discharge, your mutt pawing at its eye or rubbing its face on the ground at the irritation.
 How do you treat a cherry eye?
  • The best way to treat a cherry eye is to consult your trusted vet. Many times vets will prescribe an ointment to see if the swelling and irritation will go away first, and if that doesn't work, then usually the second (and only) option is to perform surgery. With surgery, the vet will most likely try to tuck the gland back in (which has a very high success rate). If that doesn't work, then the vet will most likely remove the gland all together.
What are some risks associated with surgery vs. no surgery?
  • While surgery is the last resort for cherry eyes, some circumstances many require it. The main risk with removing the tear gland is having a dry eye which may lead to vision damage. If this does happen later on, it can be treated with medication.
  • In some pets, the prolapsed gland doesn't cause discomfort or damage to the eye and may come and go on its own. So the main reason for fixing the cherry eye is more for cosmetic purposes. Again, consult with your trusted vet to see what is the best action to take for you and your mutt.
Keeping your mutts happy, healthy, and hearty!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Swimming Safety Tips for Your Dog

Summer is here! As the weather gets warmer and warmer, a lot of our furry little friends like to find places like pools and lakes to cool off in. Pet owners also will often times want our mutts to enjoy the fun summer activities with them. While having a good time outside can be good physical and mental health, there are still several things dog owners need to watch out for when allowing their mutts to take a dip:
  • Not all dogs can swim well - while a mutt can pick up swimming techniques faster than a human, some dogs swim because they have to for survival and not because they like to. Mutts like American Bulldogs have big bodies but short legs tend to have a harder time paddling in water compared to others. 
  • Wet ears can easily lead to ear infections - keeping your dogs' ears clean and dry after a swim is important so they do not get ear infections. Ocean and lake water usually have many bacteria and bugs that could be a danger to your mutts. Consult with your trusted vet to learn what the best cleaning techniques are for you and your dogs.
  • Watch out for other safety hazards at the beach - if you take your dogs to the beach, keep an eye out for other potentially dangers things like broken shells, jellyfish, and big currents. There are also many parasites hiding in the sand, so keep your mutts close and perform a quick physical check up on them after you leave the beach.
  • Swimming at night is more dangerous than during the day - as a pet owner, you would have to pay even more attention to your mutts if they are swimming at night. Dogs already have bad vision to begin with and their eye sight decreases drastically when it is dark. So make sure you know where and what your mutts are doing when they are swimming, even if it is just in your backyard pool.
  • Know what the temperature of the water is before going in - sometimes the problem with summer is that certain waters can vary in temperature drastically. Make sure you know how warm or cold the water is before allowing your dogs to go in. Dogs can also suffer from hypothermia so just be aware if your dog is shivering or not.
  • Teach your dogs to swim one step at a time - throwing your mutts into the pool or lake for fun will only create trauma for them, specially if they haven't really swam before. So make it a game: throw their stick or ball in for them to fetch is a good start and then increase the fetch distance slowly. Also train them so they know where is the best spot to get out if they are swimming in a pool. If your mutts start to panic, the best way is to use a calm voice to tell them to swim back to shore. You might put yourself in danger by jumping in to help a panicking dog (specially if they are big dogs)!
Keeping your mutts happy, healthy, and hearty!