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!

 

 

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.

Keeping The House Clean with Dogs

Adopting Bitsy was one of the best decisions of my life. She adds a ton of excitement, joy, and adventure to every day. Bitsy also adds quite a bit of mess! Prior to Bitsy moving in I had the ultimate bachelor pad and only had to worry about cleaning up after myself. Now that I have my furry roommate I have to be on top of keeping my home clean. I’m not always the most successful at it, but she these tips have helped me and I hope they can help you, too.

1.) Hair of the Dog

Dog hair is one of the biggest cleanliness challenges for dog owners. Some dogs don’t shed as much as others but if you have a “double-coated” breed of dog such as a Siberian Husky or Akitas, they shed their soft undercoats twice a year, leaving huge furballs around your home.

A way to cut down on this a little bit is to brush your dog regularly, aim for a few times a week. If you are able to brush your dog outside it will cut down on your post-brushing clean up session. Of course, your dog is going to shed regardless so you want to make sure you have your preferred clean up tools on hand. Some people like the old fashioned and ever reliable dustpan and broom method, while others prefer a handheld vacuum. I have hardwood floors so I’m a Swiffer guy myself. I just got new Swiffer from Target and was probably a little more excited about it than I should have been. (But it just gets everything so clean!)

Fur balls laying around the living room are easy to spot, but make sure to pay attention to your air filters. If you check your air filters every two to three weeks you can determine how much pressure you are putting on them and how often they need to be changed. If you keep your filters clean your heating and cooling system won’t have to work as hard and you can save money as well.

2.) Get Moving!

Exercising keeps me and Bitsy happy and energized! If I know I’m going to be out of the house for any length of time, I make sure I get in a nice workout with Bitsy beforehand. A tired dog is much less likely to get into mischief and mess up the house than one who is bored and desperately craving some stimulation. It’s also helpful to keep chew toys easily accessible for your dog to play with when you’re not home. I just ordered a few new toys for Bitsy from http://www.petsmart.com and she is loving them.

3.) Stop in the Name of (Puppy) Love

A way to cut down on mess inside of your home is to stop dirt and mud at the door before it even enters your home. Keep a towel and a small container of room temperature water by the door to wipe down muddy paws before your dog comes into the house. You can place mats inside and outside of your doors and train your dog to wait on the mat.

4.) Splish Splash Taking a Bath

You don’t want to bathe your dog too often- this can strip pups of the natural oils in their skin which can lead to increased dryness. I usually bathe Bitsy about once every three weeks unless she has gotten particularly rowdy and dirty. Bitsy and I are partial to Burt’s Bees Waterless Dog Shampoo – the apple extract and honey keep fur shiny.  Castille soap in lavender or peppermint scent also works well and is helpful in the prevention of fleas.

5.) Toy Time!

Some toys can be cleaned and disinfected while others will eventually need to be tossed.

Discard Pile

– Toys with dangling parts and stuffed animal eyes can be choking hazards.

– Toys that have been heavily chewed or have missing parts.

– Toys that your dog is eating. With the exception of treat toys, your dog should not be eating his toys. If you catch your dog in the act or notice the toy is much smaller than it initially was, throw it out.

Cleaning Toys

– Plastic and rubber toys can be cleaned by hand with soap and water or go in your dishwasher for cleaning. If you are using a dishwasher you can simply run them through the hot cycle with no detergent; the heat and water pressure should kill germs and remove dirt and grime.

– Rope toys can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so sanitizing them is best. You can wet the toy and microwave it for a full minute, just be careful when removing the item because it can be quite hot.

– For stuffed animals, you can throw them in the washing machine when they are dirty, but skip the dryer because most stuffed animals won’t make it through the drying process intact. (I say this from experience.)

6.) Kicking Up Dust!

When we think about messes, it’s usually about the messes on the floor, but our fur friends also increase the amount of dust in our homes. Dusting is one of my least favorite household chores, but I try to give everything a quick dusting once or twice a week.

7.) Take a Deep Breath and Relax!

Pets can be a lot of work and keeping the house clean isn’t always an easy task, but Bitsy makes life so fun that the pros always outweigh the cons. Even if your home is ultimately a little bit messier, make sure to appreciate all the ways your pet enhances your world.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Any of you dog lovers have other tips for keeping your pad clean when sharing it with our animals? Comment below!

Dog Decor Ideas for the Pet-Lover’s Home

Dog Decor Ideas for the Pet-Lover’s Home

When I first adopted Bitsy, I excitedly shopped for all of her dog gear. I bought a crate, dog bed, and copious amounts of toys. After awhile though, I noticed that the dog items stuck out like a sore thumb-or paw! (A little dog humor.) I began to noodle on ideas for making these items blend a bit more seamlessly into my home. Bitsy can still have all her needs met while my home does not scream DOG. 

Dog Crate Decor

Whether your home is modern chic or has a classic style, you can find dog crates that will work with your decor. Crates usually take up a considerable amount of space and typical ones don’t usually blend with the aesthetic of most rooms. I did a bit of research and found some functional and stylish looking creates.

Check out Wayfair for crates that provide proper ventilation and comfort for your pet but also double as furniture. There are some pretty col ones on Denhaus too. But some of those are going to cost you!

And of course, if money is no object, design your own fancy dog crate at Maricela Sanchez! Okay, I adore my dog, but this may even be too indulgent for me!

Cavalier King Charles in dog bed

Dog Bed-Your Pet’s Refuge

One of Bitsy’s favorite places to hang is her bed. (That is, when she is not on mine!) There are plenty of bed options that can fit with your home decor. Be sure to make sure that the cushions are washable!

Restoration Hardware offers a fantastic upscale bed collection for our canine friends. Some of them are on sale over the holidays (hint, hint!) LL Bean also has a great collection of comfy and casual-looking dog beds.

Food Storage

Rather than just store Bitsy’s dog food and treats in regular plastic containers (which are totally functional so if you are happy with those, go for it!) I think I will invest in some cool looking containers from Harry Barker. (Barker, heh heh, get it!)

Un-leashed

When I first adopted Bitsy and was still negotiating my new schedule now that I had a pet, I would often be walking her at the last minute before I left the house. As a result I would often misplace her leash because I did not have a specific place to put it every time we returned from our walks. Once I decided to store Bitsy’s leash on a hook right beside the front door, it made my life a lot easier. It’s a simple and probably obvious solution, but I know it has saved me time and stress!

Dog Gates

I found several dog gates on www.dynamicaccents.com that are reasonably priced, functional, and blend into home decor. They have a variety of options so it’s easy to find one that fits with the feel of your home. Plus you can specify the size which is pretty cool.

Toys, Toys, and More Toys

If you’re anything like me, I spoil Bitsy a bit too much. Not only do I buy her toys, but she receives them as gifts so there is a large amount of these items in our home. The Container Store has lots of storage containers – go figure! For some pretty neat ideas, check out this Bark Post. You will like these! 

I would love to hear feedback about how you made your home more pet-friendly. Any other suggestions you can think of?