My Dog Didn't Know Sit

Tips From a Dog Trainer and Her Dog


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Should I Shave My Pet For the Summer?

Shaved To those who have long-haired cats or dogs and are considering shaving your pet’s coat for the summer to help him “cool down”, DON’T DO IT! Although dogs and cats only have sweat glands on their footpads (hence why they can leave footprints all over a shiny wood floor if stressed out or overly excited), they have their own super-effective way to cool down. Cats lick their fur and paws, and when the saliva evaporates, it cools them down; dogs keep themselves cool by vaporizing large amounts of water from their lungs and airways when they pant, expelling body heat in the process.

Although they have a warm thick double coat, long-haired cats and dogs are actually kept COOL from this. The coat acts as insulation against the sun’s UV rays and its effects. It regulates the animal’s body temperature, so when it’s hot, it keeps the cool in, and when it’s cold, it keeps the warm in. Shaving your pet’s fur off is like removing the walls of your home and then wondering why it’s scorching hot even though the AC’s on or freezing cold even though the heat’s on.

shaved_catThe best way to keep your pet cool is to keep your pet’s coat mat-free, well-brushed, and clean. Dogs have almost no pigment in their skin to ward off harmful UV rays and are very prone to sunburn and skin cancer, so the best way to protect your dog is to save the longer walks for evenings, and consider applying pet-specific sun block to thinly covered areas, such as the bridge of your dog’s nose, the tips of his ears, and his belly. You can also use a FURminator (or an off brand brush that does the same thing) to keep tangles to a minimum, remove loose fur, and lighten the coat a little bit. Keeping the coat healthy is the first and easiest step to keeping your pet cool in the Summer heat!

8d72e47ba7aac41439d8759a1515bf84If you feel that you HAVE to give your cat or dog a trim, try to leave at least two inches of fur to protect your pet from the elements. Be aware that once shaved, a double-coated pet’s coat will never grow back the same. It can end up patchy, discolored, thinner, and will shed even more than before! The rough top coat may never grow back as well, and your pet’s natural defenses from heat and cold will be gone for the rest of its life.

For dogs who want to play in the back yard, be sure to provide lots of shade, water, and breaks, even if your dog’s eager to keep playing; your dog probably doesn’t know what heat stroke is, but when it happens, you’re going to have a very big vet bill all because Fido wanted to play Frisbee for ten more minutes.

UnknownHopefully this helps, and your pets keep cool in this Summer blaze. Remember that the moment you start to feel thirsty and gross, your pet may be too! Be sure to offer lots of water (and pee breaks) and keep that coat healthy and non-shaven!


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Poisonous Plants and Flowers Your Pet Should Avoid

The weather’s (finally) getting nicer as Spring is approaching, so as expected, everyone’s taking advantage of this and buying new flowers to make their garden look nice. Dogs are able to romp around the yard more often, people are more willing to walk their dog for further, and everyone’s able to enjoy the outside without shivering and sniffling noses. Even the outside kitties can finally enjoy the lack of snow and slush on their paws as they scale the roofs and fences of the neighborhood. Best of all, there’s finally long green grass available for both pets to munch on like fat cows! Ahhh… the smell of fresh-cut grass, the shining sun, and the poisonous flowers; how enjoyable! Wait, “poisonous flowers”?! That’s right! Here’s a quick list of some of the common not very pet-friendly, flowers your neighbors may decorate their yard with and that your dog and cat should avoid!

DaylilyEaster-Lily Day Lily & Easter Lily – It’s hard to believe that these spring beauties are deadly to cats! Ingestion of any part of this plant, even the early green shoots, can cause kidney failure, so prevent your cat from having any access to these plants. Symptoms of ingestion include vomiting, lack of appetite, lethargy, kidney failure, and possible death. Although they’re harmful to cats, they’re non-toxic to dogs and horses.

Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 10.12.34 PMcastorbean-leaf Castor Bean Plant – This tropical plant is often grown as an ornamental plant and as a crop in North America. In my opinion, this plant doesn’t look very friendly anyway, and as expected, ingestion of either the beans or the foliage is lethal to both cats and dogs. Signs of ingestion usually develop within 12 to 48 hours; the nasty list of symptoms include burning of mouth and throat, increase in thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness, stomach pains, trembling, sweating, loss of coordination, difficulty breathing, kidney failure, progressive central nervous system depression, fever, coma, and death.

english-ivy.ashxEnglishIvyplantEnglish Ivy – This is a very common decorative plant, and unfortunately, it’s toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. Ingestion may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Be aware that cats are often drawn to displays of this plant as it often drapes and dangles from its planter. 

Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 10.29.01 PM P3205552Garden Hyacinth – These beautiful and colorful spring bulbs are toxic to cats and dogs. The actual bulbs themselves are highly toxic and can cause vomiting and diarrhea, in addition to triggering dermatologic and allergic reactions as well.

 

 

buttercup.ashxScreen shot 2013-04-13 at 10.35.43 PM

Buttercup – These little yellow flowers may sound yummy, but are toxic to horses, cats, and dogs. Ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, anorexia, hyper-salivation, and wobbly gait.

 

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Begonia – This common houseplant is toxic to both cats and dogs, and although it’s not necessarily deadly, eating this plant will cause intense burning of the mouth, tongue, lips, and gums, difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, and vomiting. The tubers of the plant are the most toxic. Interesting note: Although the rootstock, tubers, and roots are poisonous, the flowers of the begonia are edible, and are used in some cultures for their tart flavor.

Of course, this isn’t a complete list of all the flowers and plants that can make your pet sick. Unfortunately, there are many many plants out there that can be dangerous to your pet, so for a complete list of what you should keep out of your garden this Spring, and want to avoid during your walks in the park and through the neighborhood, feel free to check ASPCA’s Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants list just to be safe! And remember: If you think that your pet may have ingested a poisonous substance, be it a plant or something from under the sink, contact your local veterinarian or ASPCA’s 24-hour emergency poison hotline directly at 1-888-426-4435. Although your garden may be lacking in a few pretty flowers this Spring, at least you can be 100% sure that Fido, Kitty, and Mr. Ed are safe!


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Bad Human Foods for Dogs

Dog-Sick-pictureNow that we learned from my earlier post that some human foods are quite good for dogs, let’s look at what’s bad for dogs. Many of these you may know, but let’s see why they’re so horrible and what you can expect to happen if your dog ingests these foods. Let’s gather these bad human foods for dogs and keep them safely sealed up in the cupboard out of Fido’s reach!

Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine: Caffeine isn’t all that good for kids, and it’s even worse for dogs! Methylxanthine, which you find in cacao seeds, coffee plants, and in the nuts of an extract used in sodas, can really mess up your dog: it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, excessive thirst and urination, and even death. Darker chocolate, being more concentrated in the stuff, is more dangerous than milk chocolate, while white chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines. While baking, chocolate contains the highest amount, so don’t you share those yummy chocolate chip cookies with Fido!

Onions, Garlic, and Chives: Although some veggies are good for your dog, these three veggies aren’t as they can cause GI irritation and red blood cell damage. You can find garlic in some dog foods, vitamins, and treats, and is sometimes used as a topping to entice a picky dog to eat his meals, but this is only safe if given in teeny tiny amounts. Too much can make your dog very sick and very unhappy. Don’t give ANY to your cat though, for the results are even more dramatic. Although many people like to feed their dogs baby food as a treat, this contains onion powder and isn’t a good idea.

Grapes and Raisins: Being one of the more common foods in your home, it’s important to know that grapes and raisins are horrible for your dog! People aren’t sure what the toxic substance is, but these fruits can cause kidney failure in dogs. If your dog already has health problems, signs may be even more dramatic.

Raw Meat, Eggs, and Bones: Even though wolves and stray dogs can eat raw meat, your dog really shouldn’t. Raw meat and raw eggs can contain Salmonella or E. coli that can be harmful to pets. Raw eggs also contain Avidin that decreases the absorption of Biotin (Vitamin B), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones isn’t a good idea either for your dog, no matter how smart he is, can choke or splinter the bone and it can become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract. That’s a very big vet bill for a very small treat.

Raw Fish: Although cooked fish is great for your dog, raw fish can result in a Thiamine (Vitamin B) deficiency. This leads to loss of appetite, seizures, and even death. Don’t share your sushi!

Avocado: The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. In very tiny amounts, it can be a nice way to keep the skin and coat healthy, but unless your dog’s getting his avocado fix from Avoderm Dog Food, try to resist sharing any avocados with him.

Macadamia Nuts: These nuts are sometimes used in cookies and candies, and can cause problems for your dog such as weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia. If you suspect Fido stole some cookies from the cookie jar, be aware that symptoms usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion, and last about 12 to 48 hours.

Yeast Dough: Although dogs can eat small amounts of bread since the dough has already fully risen, uncooked yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system, resulting in his intestines to rupture! It’s not pretty, so bake his treats before you plan to give some to your dog if it contains yeast dough.

Canine Patient in Hospital Room

Milk: Dogs are lactose intolerant because they don’t possess enough lactase in their body, so milk and other milk-based products cause diarrhea or other digestive upset. Teeny tiny amounts can be okay, but be careful or else your carpets will hate you forever.

Salt: Too much of this can cause excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures, and even death. It’s a given that feeding your dog those yummy potato chips isn’t a good idea then.

Alcohol: It’s not great for humans, but like caffeine, alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol result in even worse symptoms for dogs. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma, and even death. If you’re having a party, make sure no one decides to be generous and share a glass with your dog.

Xylitol: A sweetener used in gum, candy, baked goods, and toothpaste, Xylitol can lead to liver failure in dogs. It causes an insulin release in many animals that leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels), and results in vomiting, lethargy, seizures, and loss of coordination. If you want to brush your dog’s teeth, please make sure to use dog tooth paste available in pet stores and not human tooth paste!

Cat Food: Of course, this food is designed to be fed to your cat, not your dog. Cat food contains a lot protein and fat; way more than your dog needs. If your dog has a cat friend, try to make sure they don’t share meals. One interesting thing I’d like to mention is that dogs can eat cat treats, but cats can’t eat dog treats. Cat treats are much cheaper overall, so take advantage of this knowledge! But be aware that like their food, cat treats contain a large amount of protein, so feed these smelly fishy treats sparingly.

Marijuana: Although some people might think this would be great for a hyper or nervous dog, this can depress the nervous system, cause vomiting, and dramatic changes in heart rate. Your dog will not become chill after eating or smelling this!

And those are the many human foods that are no good for your dog. Sure, some of these things aren’t foods, but for the average dog, anything that fits in its mouth is considered food. Be sure to keep these things far from your dog’s reach, and if enjoyed by yourself, stay greedy and don’t share any with your dog. Instead, offer a snack from the Good Human Foods for Dogs list!


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Good Human Foods For Dogs

As many people know, things like chocolate and coffee are bad for dogs and can make them very sick because of many reasons. We also know that, in general, table scraps are no good since fatty foods make a bigger difference for dogs than people, especially since a dog that’s five pounds overweight is considered obese.

What are we allowed to feed out dogs then? Well, there are a lot of great things you can feed your dog with much less guilt, and some things are actually healthy! Many of these things can be mixed together and baked into wonderful treats, or used to top off your picky dog’s food to entice him into finally finishing his meal.

There are people who argue over whether dogs are omnivores or carnivores, but although dogs would prefer meats over fruits, veggies, and grains, I feel that dogs actually are omnivores and can benefit from non-meat treats such as these:

Yogurt: This is a great source of available calcium and protein, but be sure to pick a brand that has live active bacteria and no sugars or artificial sweeteners added to it. If your dog’s alittle pudgy, you can pick fat-free yogurt, but not one that contains fat substitutes. Yogurt is a nice summer treat for dogs, and is a super cheap replacement to peanut butter or Kong Stuff’n pastes when frozen in a Kong toy.

Pumpkin: This is a good source of fibre and beta carotene (a source of vitamin A). Dogs need fibre in their diet to stay “regular”. A lot of people are leaning toward dog foods that are higly digestible so that their dogs have smaller, more manageable, stools, but that’s not really a good thing. You want to keep your dog’s GI tract moving helps keep the cells lining the gut healthy. Adding pumpkin to your dog’s meals can help a lot! I usually buy canned pumpkin (unsweetened and not pie-filling!) and feed this to my dog once a month or when he seems to be having problems going to the bathroom.

Squash: Like pumpkin, this can be added to bulk up your dog’s stool, and is a good source of betacarotene (provitamin A). One fun thing you can do is buy a fresh squash and slice it in strips, making sure to remove the seeds and skin, and freeze it for a yummy treat!

Sweet potatoes: This is another source of dietary fibre, like pumpkin and squash, and contains vitamin B6, Vitamin C, beta carotene, and manganese. You can buy a lot of yummy healthy jerky treats made of sweet potato since, when sliced and dehydrated, become chewy and easy to digest.

Peanut butter: This is Ringo’s favorite snack. It is healthy and high in protein, and has been said to reduce canine diabetes and can help with bad breath! I like to smear some on Ringo’s antler chews and freeze it so that the peanut butter is frozen in the pores of the antler chew and gives it a special flavor. It’s also an inexpensive, healthy, and tasty ingredient to make any homemade dog treat extra yummy.

Peas: This can be added right to a picky puppy’s food, frozen or thawed. Peas are a good source of the Vitamin B (thiamine), phosphorous, and potassium. 

Green beans: Even though I personally hate green beans, they’re a good source of plant fibre, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and manganese. Ringo can eat all he likes! They’re a great substitute to some of your dog’s food (you can feed half dog food and half green beans each meal!) if he’s getting fat as it’s a low-calorie way to fill him up and maintain a healthy weight. Many dogs enjoy green beans frozen as a chewy crunchy treat. 

Apples: These are a wonderful crunchy treat for your dog, and one of Ringo’s favorites. With the skin on, apples are full of plant chemicals (phytonutrients) that are thought to be protective against some types of cancer in humans, so who knows, maybe it’s good for dogs too. They’re a nice source of Vitamins A and C and fibre. Be careful though; Apple seeds contain cyanide so your dog should not be allowed to eat the core! Be sure to slice an apple and have it prepared as if you were to eat it. If you do give your dog a full apple, be sure to watch him.

Pineapple: This can be an occasional special treat for your dog. Pineapple does contain a lot of sugar, but it does have calcium and potassium too. Frozen pineapple can be a fun summer treat for your dog, or a special ingredient to get a picky dog interested in his dog food.

Cottage cheese: High in protein and calcium and fairly bland, cottage cheese can be a good way to add some extra protein to your dog’s diet. Be careful though; dairy products, cottage cheese included, don’t do well with dogs, whom are lactose intolerant, so make sure to start with just a small amount.

Eggs: They’re a great source of very digestible protein, riboflavin, and selenium. For some dogs that are prone to digestive problems and stomach aches, eggs can give them a little protein boost. Adding eggs to your dog’s food is a healthy treat, but make sure to use cooked whole egg since raw egg whites can cause biotin deficiency. Considered a tasty and rare treat, you could take some with you to obedience class as a super high value reward. They may be alittle smelly though…

Oatmeal: This is a good source of soluble fibre. Oatmeal can be beneficial for older dogs that may have trouble staying “regular”. Oatmeal is also an alternative source of grain for dogs that are allergic to wheat! Keep in mind that oatmeal should always be fed cooked and plain with no sugar or flavoring!

Rice: It’s good to feed your dog boiled (and warm-temperature) rice when your dog has an upset tummy and needs a bland meal. Brown rice is a little higher in protein and a little lower in fat when compared to white rice. Rice in general is easily digestible and makes a good source of energy when your dog has an upset tummy. I like to boil chicken breast and rice into a mushy soup whenever Ringo has a stomach ache. Be sure to never serve dishes hot!

Popcorn: With no butter or salt, this is a great low-calorie treat for your dog. Popcorn contains potassium, as well as phosphorous, magnesium, and calcium to help build strong bones. Make sure the popcorn isn’t too hot when letting your dog in on this snack during movie time.

Flax seed (ground or oil): This is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids that are good for skin and coat. Since they can go bad quickly, it’s best to grind whole flax seeds before feeding. Ground flax seed can be added to your dog’s diet as a source of fibre, but flax oil is a more concentrated form of omega- 3 fatty acids, but without the fibre. Make sure that you store the oil or seeds in the fridge in an air tight dark container.

Parsley: This is a good way to improve doggie breath, so next time you are baking treats for your dog, try adding a few tablespoons of chopped parsley for added flavour and colour. Parsley can also be a good source of calcium, potassium, and beta-carotene.

Brewer’s yeast: Full of B Vitamins which are good for skin, coat, and carbohydrate metabolism, Brewer’s yeast is a good cooking ingredient for your puppy’s treats. Make sure you’re using brewer’s yeast and not baking yeast which will make your dog sick. You can sprinkle a little on your picky dog’s food too!

Now that we’ve looked at the fruits, grain, and veggies that are good for Man’s Best Friend, what kinds of meats are good? Well, any meat, really, but I personally like:

Salmon: This is actually one of my favorite meats personally, so Ringo gets a lot of this in his diet. Actually, his dog food is currently Salmon and Potato flavored, and I chose it because that sounded like something I’d like to eat. Anyway! Salmon is a fatty fish and a great source of omega- 3 fatty acids. These fats support the immune system and can be beneficial for skin and coat. You can feed your dog salmon or salmon oil; if feeding salmon, make sure it’s cooked before serving, as raw salmon can carry a parasite that can make your dog sick. No sushi!

Liver: You can get this freeze-dried in most pet stores, and is a great training treat that’s high in value due to its taste, smell, and texture. You can also buy it fresh in the grocery store to feed at home. Fresh liver can be cooked, and then baked into tasty liver treats at a fraction of the cost of freeze-dried treats at the pet store ($8 for a one-ounce bag? Seriously?!). It is an excellent source of B vitamins (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, and Folic acid), Vitamin A, and Vitamin K. It is also a great source of iron. Be careful though; because of its high vitamin A content, do not feed your dog too much liver!

And of course, there are the typical meats prominent in dog food, such as turkey, chicken, beef, lamb, etc., but more specifically, the kind of meat you want to feed your dog is:

Lean meat: Be sure to let your dog in on yummy tasty meats, but make sure that you only offer slices with no visible fat and no added sauces or seasonings. Plain meat can be a great training treat, or can add a bit of good-quality extra protein to your dog’s diet. Meat is an excellent source of amino acids, the building blocks of muscle in your dog’s body, as well as Vitamin B (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine, and Cobalamine), which are involved in energy metabolism in the body. All dogs need meat in their diet, but despite how tempted you are to give your dog the “bad pieces” with fat all over it, hold back and provide your buddy with the nice lean slices you planned to save for yourself. Though, I don’t think he’ll mind getting that gross piece with the vein on it…

So that’s that; the many yummy human foods that are also good for your dog. Like all foods, just because it’s healthy, it doesn’t mean you can engorge yourself with it. Be sure that your dog’s main food source is its dog food, which is already balanced in nutrition for your dog. A sample or two of these human foods can help though, especially if your dogs is lacking in some vitamins, is having a tummy ache, or just deserves some super special treats during training class. I’m sure there are other human foods that are good for dogs, and if I missed any, feel free to add more to the list in the comments!