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.

 

 

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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!