Oral Care for Dogs

When I adopted Bitsy I was looking forward to runs in the park, snuggles on the couch, and belly rubs (for her, not me… although that would be nice). With all of these privileges comes responsibility as well, and I want to make sure that I am taking the best care of Bitsy that I possibly can.  The good news is that dogs aren’t as prone to cavities as humans are. However, your pet’s oral health is still important so I want to make sure that I am taking good care of Bitsy’s teeth!

A lot of people don’t focus much on brushing their pet’s teeth but you may realize you need to give her a cleaning when she tries to give you a big sloppy kiss and you get a whiff of something less than ideal. The best option for brushing your dog’s teeth is using a double-sided toothbrush or finger brush. It’s always good to familiarize your pup with the tools you will be using, so make sure to introduce the brush before you start using it. Let her sniff the brush and taste a small bit of the canine toothpaste. Don’t worry about any actual teeth cleaning the first time around, just focus on the process of making your pup feel comfortable with the idea of brushing and the tools you will be using to do it. I really like a double-sided toothbrush manufactured by Petosan. It is effective and reasonably priced!

Another option is having your pet utilize dental chews. There are many different rules of dental chews with varying degrees of effectiveness. Ultimately, a good dental chew should be tough enough to withstand some chewing and force the dog to really work at chewing. The more your dog chews, the more her saliva is stimulated and that helps clean her teeth and gums.

Make sure if you’re giving your dog dental chews to supervise her. Some canines can get really intense about their chew sessions and can damage their gums, sometimes even causing them to bleed.  We really love a brand called Greenies that you can get for less than $30 on Amazon!

You can also look into getting dental care toys. This is a great option because your pup can have fun with this and doesn’t even have to know that they are good for her! They should be strong enough to endure rigorous chewing and shaped in a way that massage and clean your dog’s gums.  These are not to be used in place of brushing but are a nice supplement. The Kong Dental Stick is one of our favorites and is available on Amazon for less than $5.

If you fail to properly care for your dog’s teeth she can develop periodontal disease which can be absorbed into her bloodstream. This can cause permanent organ damage so you should be sure avoid it. Signs of periodontal disease are bad breath, inflamed gums, trouble chewing, nasal discharge and sneezing, swollen jaw, and plaque. If your pet shows signs of these symptoms you can seek professional help and get a veterinary dental cleaning.

Do you have any other tips for keeping your pup’s teeth in tip top shape? Experiences of your own to discuss? Feel free to share below.

 

 

Easing Noise Anxiety in Dogs

Bitsy is a fairly excitable dog, which most of the time is great because she’s always looking forward to new adventures. However, with her excitable nature also comes a bit of an anxiousness, especially when it comes to loud or strange noises. Noise anxiety is a big problem for dogs throughout the country.

According to http://www.dogtime.com, 5 to 15 million dogs are affected by noise anxiety. It is difficult to console a dog because we cannot simply explain that the noises will pass and everything will be all right. Through research and bit of my own experience, I’ve come up with ways to ease Bitsy’s anxiety and try to make her feel a bit more comfortable and relaxed.

1.) Safe, Quiet Space

If you know that there are going to be loud noises like fireworks, noise makers, or thunder you can plan ahead by offering then a safe, quiet space. When dogs feel threatened by sounds they don’t recognize or can’t place, they often retreat to small, enclosed spaces to feel safer. You can help by placing your dog’s crate in a quiet place in the house where she feels comfortable.

2.) Get Moving!

Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise because the less pent up energy your dog has, the more likely she is able to relax. A stressed dog can easily become destructive if a noise triggers their anxiety or fear.

3.) Keep Safely Inside

If a storm is brewing or if there is a fireworks show or other loud celebrations happening, it’s a good idea to keep your pup inside. Even if your dog has never tried to escape before, her fear of the noises may be strong enough for her to flee.

4.) Proper ID

Protect your dog by ensuring that your pet is wearing proper identification and that her microchip information is up to date.

5.) Occupy Their Time

A dog with a task is less likely to give in to noise anxiety because she is focused. A high-value bully stick or a Kong filled with a frozen treat may prove helpful in keeping your dog’s anxiety in check.

6.) Remove Visual Stimulation

It may help to close doors, windows, and blinds to calm your dog down and keep them from anxious behavior like searching every window for the cause of the noise. Covering your pup’s crate can also be helpful.

7.) Noise Desensitization

If the other tips don’t seem to be working or aren’t as effective as you would like them to be, noise desensitization could be a good supplement or alternative. You play sets of sounds that would normally trigger your dog but at a lower volume. Start by playing the recording at a volume level that does not trigger a fearful response. You can then begin to increase the sound slightly. When your dog is calm, feed her some of her favorite treats. You want them to associate those noises with something positive! If you continue with this process, over time anxiety should decrease.

8.) Keep Calm and Carry On

Some other viable options are calming sprays, collars, and diffusers. Adaptil collars are known to be quite effective. These products are formulated to mimic the appeasement pheromones that comfort nursing puppies. The use of the spray or diffuser can be additionally helpful in events that usually cause stress.

9.) Anxiety Wrap

The anxiety wrap is a pressure wrap available for dogs (and cats!) of all sizes.  It uses a scientifically balanced combination of acupressure and gentle, maintained pressure to help ease anxiety. It retails for $34.95 and can be purchased at www.anxietywrap.com.

10.) The Thundershirt

Very similar to the anxiety wrap, although I think it is a bit more stylish looking. (Especially if you add the custom embroidery!) It sells for $39.95 and can be purchased at www.thundershirt.com.

I hope these tips were helpful but if you have any other suggestions please comment below. I know it’s a priority for all of us to keep our pets happy and feeling secure!

 

 

Brad Nierenberg’s Fave Photography for Dog Lovers

Before adopting Bitsy, I was never one for taking many pictures; I usually rely on my friends and family to document our special occasions. Since Bitsy came into my life I have started taking more photos and I’ve really enjoyed it! I am no means a pro but I’ve started looking for tips and inspiration online and have found several dog photographers who are taking some amazing photos! I thought I would share a few of my favorites with you so you can enjoy the fun.

1.) Benjamin Grelle aka The Frogman

This guy is hilarious. The Frogman is a Missouri-based photographer and humorist who takes dog photography to a whole new level by making pups look like they’re barreling through outer space. The dogs are photographed with their heads hanging out of car windows, their faces flapping in the breeze. Grelle then adds an out of this world space background behind each dog.

Grelle says the idea came to him one day when he noticed how dogs passing by in car windows often looked like they were traveling at unimaginable speeds. Grelle enlisted the help of his father to take the photos and then he added the outrageous space backgrounds. Grelle features a variety of types of dogs, including his own pup, an adorable Corgi named Otis.

2.) Seth Casteel

Seth has a great series called Underwater Dogs that is both amusing and beautiful. Each dog is photographed underwater, some frantically seeking tennis balls, some looking coy, and others looking absolutely majestic. Seth’s book Underwater Dogs is one of the best selling photography books of all time. Seth also photographs homeless animals to help them find loving owners! Check out his work at www.sethcasteel.com.

3.) Sophie Gamand

Sophie’s photographs are really amazing to me because she manages to take such a wide range of photographs. In one series called Wet Dog she captures the dogs during one of their least favorite activities: bath time. Gamand says, “Exposing the dogs at a vulnerable moment enabled me to capture their wide range of expressions. Poignant looks, despair, anger and even judgement can be read into their eyes.”

Gamand has several interesting series featured on her website and her love and repeat for dogs is clear and infectious. One of the series of a collaboration with Free People. Free people commissioned Sophie to do a series with adoptable shelter dogs. In this photoshoot they wanted to invoke royalty so each dog was photographed in a beautiful and unique crown. Another favorite of mine is Sophie’s series called Watchdogs. We traditionally think of watchdogs as big and scary breeds. However, in this series, she photographs toy dogs. She explains, “Aren’t these dogs becoming some sort of emotional ramparts against the world? Security blankets for women who are afraid to go out into the world alone? They are like little soldiers, sidekicks, confidants, best friends. With them by the side, these women never have to feel alone and exposed anymore.” You can see Sophie’s work at http://www.sophiegamand.com.

4.) Dog Breath Photography

This photography company is run by a woman named Kaylee Greer. Kaylee’s website explains: “Her photographic style is drawn directly from the inspiration she finds inside the soul of a dog. She is fueled by the joy, whimsy, and unrelenting happiness that is so uniquely canine.” I think this sentiment captures Kaylee’s work perfectly. Her photographs and vibrant and feature a lot of bright colors so they almost have a sort of magical feeling to them. Each photograph is unique; one pup is dressed like a superhero (complete with cape and mask), another is perched on top of a car overlooking a scenic cityscape, while another is looking up at the sky during sunrise on a beautiful beach. You can take a look at her work at http://dogbreathphoto.com/. I’m thinking about getting a print or two of hers for my living room.

5.) Elke Vogelsang

I find the pictures of German-based photographer Elke Vogelsang to be really interesting. The photographer as three dogs that he really loves named Stout, Noodles, and Ioli, whom he considers them family members. He often photographs them against a black background which is a stark contrast from much of the other dog photography I have seen but it’s very effective. He really seems to capture his pups’ personalities; you can see their soulful spirits and fun nature shining through.

Even though these photographers are very different from each other in style and what they capture, I find that they have several commonalities. Each photographer has a sincere appreciation and love for dogs that shines through the work. They also have a unique and interesting take on the world; they are able to take something and make it almost magical.

Looking at their photographs reminds me to enjoy my own unique perspective and take photos that appeal to me. If Bitsy does something hilarious or weird or adorable I try and do my best to capture it, both so that I can remember the moment and I can share the fun with others.

If you have any dog photographers that you particularly like, please let me know in the comments below so that I can check them out!

 

 

If My Dog Could Talk: Bitsy’s New Year’s Resolutions

Bitsy can’t communicate with me verbally, but we spend so much time together that I swear sometimes she knows what I’m thinking.

I’ve think I’ve also become pretty adept at sensing her needs and wants and occasionally feel like I have an insight to her innermost thoughts. (Uh oh, should there be a crazy dad dog alert here?) As New Year’s Eve is approaching, I began to start compiling a list of resolutions for myself. Will 2017 be the year that I finally make use of my gym membership? Am I going to go skydiving? Will I take up a hobby like I promised myself I would last year? I guess only time will tell, but whether I follow through with my resolutions or not, they allow me to focus and have an energized sense of purpose going into the new year. While making my own list, I started to think of some resolutions Bitsy might make if she could talk…

1. Sleep in extra late on Saturday mornings.
Dad has had a long week and should take advantage of all the rest he can get. I’ll get in a few extra zzz’s to make sure that I have plenty of energy for the weekend!

2. Make new friends at the dog park.
While I’m really happy with the crew that I usually roll with, it wouldn’t hurt to expand my social circle a little bit. Cocoa the Bassett hound and Mayzie the poodle seem like fun pups and friendly enough to accept me as a part of their group. (Plus their fashion sense is on point!)

3. Slow down when I eat.
When meal time rolls around I get so excited that I gobble my food down faster than dad can say “Wow, you must be hungry, Bitsy!” This sometimes results in tummy aches and I don’t get to savor my food as much. In 2017 I resolve to thoroughly enjoy every last morsel.

4. Barf less.
I think sticking to resolution number 3 will certainly help with this resolution. The food just doesn’t taste as good coming back up as it does going down.

5. Get Barkbox delivered each month.
Hint, hint Dad! These packages are delivered each month and are filled with unique and fun products for dogs. I’ve been a good girl this year, I promise! http://www.barkbox.com

6. Guard the house more.
I know Dad can take care of us, but I want to work on being a better watchdog. Last month we had a few pesky mice invading our home and I wasn’t able to catch any of them! (Maybe we need to add a cat to the family?)

7. Play hard to get.
I tend to be very eager and excitable around new people, but I’m thinking it might be nice to add a bit of mystery to my interactions and make these people come to me. I am cute, I want to make them work for it a little.

8. Don’t talk to Dad when he’s on the phone.
I know I shouldn’t bark at dad when he’s on the phone, but it’s like sometimes he doesn’t even know what I’m trying to say to him! I resolve to me more patience and give him his space to talk to friends and work without trying to take up too much of his attention.

9. I will remain calm when Dad leaves the house.
Sometimes when Dad leaves the house for the day I freak out because I’m not sure when he is coming home. I know he’s always going to come back to me so I need to stay calm and enjoy my solitude (and toys!) for a few hours until I see him again. Only the boring get bored and I need to fill my day with adventures! (Of the non-destructive variety, I promise to take good care of the house.)

10. Don’t pee when meeting new people.
When Dad introduces me to his friends or we make new friends when we are out on adventures and I get so excited that I… well… sometimes I pee a little bit. This is a normal bodily function and I’m not exactly ashamed of it but I think it would make these interactions a little bit better if I could wait until introductions have been made.

11. I will show more bravery.
2017 is the year for a lot less fear! I will not be as afraid of the vacuum, fireworks, and thunder! I know these loud noises have scared me in the past but they will not hurt me and I pledge to stay strong in facing these fears!

12. More time for snuggles with Dad!
I know we get a lot of time for cuddles, but I can always have more affection in my life! I promise to give lots licks and nuzzles and hopefully will receive ear scratches and belly rubs.

I hope you enjoyed Bitsy’s list- a resolution for every month of the new year! Do you and your canine friends have any resolutions for the upcoming year? Share below!

How To Spot Your Dog’s Allergies

A lot of dog owners are quite surprised when a vet diagnoses their pet with allergies. Allergies are one of the most common problems in veterinary practice and a lot of dogs who suffer from them will never be cured.

There are two types of main allergies when it comes to dogs: food allergies and seasonal allergies. Food allergies pop up in dogs the same way they do in humans so be aware of new foods you may be introducing into your pet’s diet and the reactions she might have to then. They key to understanding seasonal allergies is to look for a seasonal trend from year to year and do your best to manage the onset of symptoms.

Bitsy hasn’t shown any signs of allergies yet but I am keeping my eyes open. I put together a list of signs that your dog is suffering from seasonal allergies and a few tips about what you can do to help!

Seasonal Allergies: Signs to Look For

1. Obsessive Licking
If your dog is constantly licking herself, especially her belly and paws, this could be a sign that she is bothered by something in her environment.

2. Rubbing Face on Objects
Most of the time your dog will use your carpet, pillows, couches and might even rub her face or body across an entire surface area to alleviate itchiness.

3. Irritated Skin
Like humans, dogs can break out in rashes and hives when exposed to allergens. Pay special attention to the ears, stomach, feet, in between toes, and ears.

4. Chewing at Feet
Pay close attention if your pup is chewing on her paws. There may be inflammation, redness, odor, and brown discoloration where the licking has occurred.

5. Hot Spots
Anything that breaks or irritates the skin can cause these; they are scabs from your canine licking and scratching her skin too much. They can be caused by a variety of factors but they are painful and often contain a lot of bacteria.

Food Allergies: How to Spot Them

1. Increased Bowel Movements

Increased bowel movements does not necessarily mean your dog has a food allergy, but if you are introducing new food items into your pet’s diet it is helpful to be even more aware of her bathroom habits.
Also observe if her stool softer than normal. (Ah, the joys of being a dog parent!)

2. Ear Problems

These are often yeast related. Be aware of swelling, redness, and signs that your dog is in pain.

3. Itching

Observe if your pet is extra itchy, especially in the face, trunk, feet, limb, and anal areas.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from allergies, you should contact your veterinarian right away. However, there are at home treatments as well as preventative measures if you are unable to get to the vet immediately.

1. Electrolyte Replacing Liquids
This is great for hungover humans (believe me, I know) but also helpful if your pup has diarrhea or is vomiting. It can supply your pooch’s body with much needed fluids during her bathroom bouts.

2. Vitamin E

Thia works well for dogs with dry skin. You can give your pup a massage by applying the oil directly to the skin or having her consume a vitamin E pill. If you want your canine to have a relaxing bath you can always have her soak in a tub with vitamin E added to the water.

3. Yogurt as a Snack

The live acidophilus in plain yogurt is great for keeping the good bacteria in your dog’s
intestines in balance. If your dog is on antibiotics a little bit of yogurt will also keep yeast infections at bay.

4. Oatmeal

Finely ground oatmeal is a great remedy for irritated skin! You can use baby oatmeal cereal or grind it up yourself in a food processor. Stir the oatmeal into a warm bath and let your pup enjoy a nice relaxing bath.

5. White Vinegar

If your pooch is suffering from ear infections due to allergies, try cleaning her ears using a little bit of white vinegar.

6. Apple cider vinegar

If your dog’s skin has become so irritated that a hot spot has resulted, pour a little bit of apple cider vinegar into a clean spray bottle and directly apply to the affected areas.

Again, if you think your dog may be suffering from allergies, contact your vet right away to be on the safe side. Our pets are precious and I know we all want to make sure we take excellent care of them. Has your pet experienced allergies? What have you done? Feel free to comment below with tips and signs to look out for!

 

 

Bitsy’s Christmas Wish List

I love to spoil Bitsy and many of my friends and family members do as well. Although it’s tempting to get a bunch of tasty treats, Bitsy struggles with her weight so I need lots of non-food items for gifts. There are so many fun options out there right now that I won’t have any problem finding presents for Santa to deliver to Bitsy.

To Keep Your Dog Active

The ChuckIt Pro!
This device makes playing catch with your dog easier and more fun. The toy has a no slip grip and allows you to throw three times further than playing catch manually. You can also play without worrying about touching the drool covered ball your dog happily returns to you. The Chuck-It Pro retails for $13.99, but if you check http://www.amazon.com you can find even better deals.

Nite Ize Led Dog Ball
This light up dog ball is great for late night and early morning games of fetch. The ball fits in most ball launchers, but can also be tossed manually. It retails for about $12, which is well worth it to be able to play fetch at all hours of the night.

Bungee Ball
This toy is a ton of fun! It has toy tennis balls tethered at the ends of a stretchy nylon cord. The cord creates a safe distance between your pet’s grasp and your hand so you can play tug of war without worrying about getting injured.

Wobble Wag Giggle Ball
Six clutch pockets make it easy for your pooch to grab, carry, and toss this toy. The more your dog plays with it, the more googles and fun sounds the ball emits. It retails for $9.99 is available on http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com

Chew Toys

Orbee Tuff Bulb
I found this toy on http://www.barkshop.com and knew it would be a perfect stocking stuffer for Bitsy. These are great chew toys and festive for the holiday season. They come in red, blue, green or orange and in two different sizes – small is 4.25″ and large is 6.5″. These have a great minty smell and aftertaste (okay I can’t personally vouch for the aftertaste but I am assuming) so your dog will love them.

Gary the Gefilte Fish
Gary is a Barkshop original and they tout him as the “world’s most attractive gefilte fish,” which isn’t saying very much because they aren’t exactly known for their good looks. Gary is stuffed and is a two way squeaker, so he makes noise when your dog bites down and when she lets go so it’s even more fun! Gary’s fins are tough woven nylon and are perfect for gripping and chewing.

Give Your Dog’s Brain a Workout

Trixie Flipboard Interactive Dog Toy Puzzle
Flip Board is an intermediate level game designed for small breeds and puppies.  There are covers, flaps, and cones and if your dog makes the right choices the hidden treats are revealed. It’s dishwasher safe and available for $22.60 on http://www.jet.com.

Nina Ottosson Wooden Dog Puzzle
This is great for dogs who need to focus and maybe calm down a little bit. They are made from composite board and are great for challenging and interacting with your dog. Dogs learn from moving pegs on the board and receiving treats. You can pick one up on Amazon for about $35.

Bitsy and I are looking forward to this holiday season and I hope you are your pooch are as well. Let me know if you have suggestions for a few more items I can add to Bitsy’s wish list!

 

Bitsy’s Bites

Bitsy is usually pretty well behaved and has been reasonably easy to manage, but rewarding her with treats for good behavior has been a fun and effective way to train.  I’ve put together a list of things to look for when trying to select the perfect treat for your dog and some selections that Bitsy can’t get enough of!

What To Look For in a Treat

Tasty
Treats should be flavorful. These are a reward for good behavior after all!

Easy to Break
Treats should be easy to break or small (pea sized) so that they don’t pose a choking hazard and also because if you’re trying to watch your pup’s weight, it’s important to keep calories under control.

Easy to Carry
Since you may want to treat your dog when you are not at home, it’s best to find treats that are easy to carry. Avoid anything greasy or crumbly.

Simple Ingredients
If your dog has a sensitive stomach it is especially important to stick with simple ingredients that are easy to digest. Low-fat meats, like chicken, usually work well. Even if your dog has a particularly strong constitution, you want to stick with simple ingredients because it is a healthier lifestyle choice.

Use a Variety of Treats
Variety is the spice of life and if you want to keep your dog from getting bored, you need to mix things up a little. It’s also helpful to have low-value treats (like kibble) so that you can reward decent responses with a lower calorie treat. For great responses, reward your dog with a high-value treat, like fresh meat or freeze dried meat.

Types of Treats

Store bought
When buying mass-manufactured treats, look for items that are made from high quality ingredients and in smaller batches. Healthy ingredients include meat, cheese, eggs, and nuts. Avoid corn and wheat, as well as ingredients that you can’t pronounce. Don’t just trust an “organic” treat – read the label. Manufacturers can be sneaky…

Homemade treats
You can sometimes save money on treats by making them at home. It’s also a great way to ensure that you know exactly what your dog is consuming. www.Dogaware.com has some great recipes, including turkey treats and tuna brownies. These are on my list for Bitsy as the weather gets colder. It’ll give me something to do indoors.

Bonus: Ice cubes can be a special treat too if you play your cards right… The only problem I have now is whenever I go into the freezer, Bitsy sits attentively waiting for her treat. If I don’t give her a cube, she looks so depressed. Who is training whom?
Regular Dog Food
Depending on how savvy your dog is, you can treat your dog with their regular food if it’s not around meal time. This approach works better for puppies. If you are using wet or canned food, you can use a food tube or a baby food jar. If your dog likes his dry food enough to do tricks for, then his kibble can work quite well. One way you can make dry food more exciting is to put it in a paper bag with some pieces of bacon for a few hours and let it soak up some of the odor. Nothing is better than bacon, am I right?

People Food
While I’m cautious to not let others feed Bitsy food from the table, people food can also work great as a treat and your dog will probably love it. You can feed your dog chopped fresh meat or cheese, chopped veggies, or maybe some gravy or liquid yogurt. Avoid foods such as avocado, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and chocolate- these can cause, at best health problems, at worst, death… Don’t confuse the do’s and don’ts of human food.

Over the last few years I’ve bought and made a variety of treats for Bitsy, but we have settled on some favorites that she loves.

Fruitables  
There are a variety of Fruitables treats, both crunchy and soft. There are made from wholesome, healthy ingredients, such as yogurt, beef, or chicken. They also use sunflower oil and pumpkin. Bitsy particularly loves the apple bacon chewy treats. You can check out the Fruitables website to find a retailer near you that carries them: www.fruitablespetfood.com

Rocco and Roxie Supply Co. Jerky Sticks
Bitsy can’t get enough of these and I can’t blame her! (Not that I’ve actually tried them myself, but I’ve been tempted, they smell fantastic!) They are made almost entirely of pure beef and smoked for 15 hours in small batches. I think more care is put into making this treat than into most of the food items I consume. You can check out their website at www.roccoandroxie.com

Plato Original Duck Dog Treats
Bitsy doesn’t have any allergies that I know of yet, but some dogs can be allergic to different types of meats, so duck can be a great alternative. These treats are made in the U.S. and you can get a pound for under $9, which when you consider the cost of duck at a restaurant, is a good deal. All ingredients are all natural and fortified with vitamins and antioxidants that will keep your dog happy and healthy. Check them out at www.platopettreats.com

Nesbits
This brand is fantastic. Their treats are handmade from scratch with human grade ingredients.  They only have a few ingredients per flavor and are great if your dog has a sensitive stomach. I went through a time when Bitsy couldn’t keep anything down and discovered that Bitsy particularly loves the Breakfast Biscuit! You can purchase them at www.nesbitsdogtreats.com

Any tips for new treats I should buy for Bitsy? What are some of your favorites? Comment below and I’ll put some in her Christmas stocking this year.