Is Our Dogs’ Behavior Genetic?

Or is it “all in how you raise them”?

Nature vs. nurture and raising a well-adjusted dog.

DDB Puppies Log

Dr. Ilana Reisner wanted her new Australian Shepherd puppy, Asher, to have a rock-solid temperament. She knew how tough it is to live with a fearful or aggressive dog because, as a veterinary behaviorist, she works with reactive dogs and their owners for a living. So she did everything that she advises her clients to do: she found a puppy whose parents had lovely personalities and whose breeder provided excellent socialization experiences; she brought the puppy home between eight and ten weeks of age; she continued his socialization herself; and she enrolled him in a well-managed puppy class so that he would have a chance to learn good social skills with puppies his own age.

Given that Dr. Reisner did everything that behavior experts recommend to create a confident, well-socialized puppy, she was surprised when Asher showed anxiety around other dogs in his puppy class – nervousness that only increased as he matured. Then she had some bad luck when, at age four months, Asher was jumped by an out-of-control dog, and it was a really scary experience for him. By the age of eight months, Asher was showing clear signs of fear of other dogs.

Dr. Reisner has continued to work with him over the ensuing years, but he hasn’t improved; she describes him as a whirling dervish when he sees unfamiliar dogs. And yet she did everything she could to avoid this issue. Is it possible that, due to genetics, Asher’s behavior problem was inevitable? How much influence did Asher’s environment have in the development of his temperament?

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Our Dogs’ Genetics VS. Their Environments

In the complex interplay between genetics and environment, sometimes genetics takes the upper hand. Researchers have tested just how far genetic influences on personality can go by breeding animals for particular temperaments and absolutely nothing else.

This sort of study is, by necessity, very long term and therefore fairly rare, but there are two well-known examples in canids. A group in Russia has bred two lines of foxes over three to four decades, selecting one line for fearfulness of and aggression to humans, and the other line for friendliness to humans.

A similar long-term project in the U.S. has resulted in a line of pathologically fearful pointer dogs. In both these cases, the lines of animals breed true, meaning that if a fearful animal is bred to a fearful animal, all of the offspring are fearful without exception, even when raised by a non-fearful non-biological mother.

How relevant are these findings to pet or working dogs? It turns out that personality is influenced by many, many genes, and if you breed for any other traits in addition to temperament, like looks or performance, then your ability to guarantee particular results in the puppy goes out the window.

In the real world outside the laboratory, genetics rarely confers absolutes; instead, it confers risks. Outside the lab, behavior problems are almost never truly inevitable. They may, however, be extremely high risk.

Which leaves us with what we have: dogs who are bred for many different traits, and as a result produce puppies with personalities mostly similar to their parents’, but sometimes quite different. Sometimes the results are wonderful, and sometimes not so much. We can decrease the risk of unwanted traits like fearfulness through careful breeding, but we can never completely weed those traits out.

Our Dogs’ Experiences

Just as we don’t have complete control over the genetic contributions to a dog’s personality, we lack complete control over the puppy’s environment. By the time the breeder and then the owner are formally socializing a puppy, the little canine brain has already gone through massive amounts of development, and as a result has gone down some roads and abandoned others. The uterus is a rich source of experience for the fetal brain, which is profoundly affected by both reproductive and stress hormones. Early life in the nest with mom and siblings is also chock full of experiences that mold a young mind. The puppy is learning his place in the world and how to interact with other dogs from very early on.

All we can do, then, is our best. We can provide innumerable positive and varied experiences for puppies to teach them that the world, in all its sometimes unexpected variety, is safe for them.

Just as importantly, we can prioritize giving dogs as solid a genetic background as possible. Temperament should be the highest priority in breeding, closely followed by physical health. Animals with questionable temperaments should not be allowed to pass on behavioral problems, either through their genes, through stress hormones in the uterus, or through modeling fearful behavior to their puppies in early life. Temperament is more important than preserving stellar conformation or spectacular performance; in fact, in breeds with small gene pools, bringing in genetic diversity from outside the breed is preferable to breeding dogs with questionable temperaments.

So the question “Is this dog’s problem genetic?” may not be meaningful, because all behavior problems are caused by genetic risk plus life experiences. However, the question “Can this dog be helped?” absolutely is.

We have powerful tools at our disposal to help dogs live in this complex human world: thoughtful breeding practices, positive socialization experiences, and loving training and management. These are the tools Dr. Reisner uses with Asher to help him live a comfortable, happy life despite his fears. There’s a lot we can do to make good dogs from the raw materials we’re given.

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How to choose the right Breed

Do Your Research

Big or small, short- or long-haired, eager hunting companion or laid-back house pet – if you start looking, chances are you’ll find a breed that fits the bill. My advice is to take your time, do your research, and be willing to wait if what you want isn’t available right now. After all, the search itself can be part of the fun, Search the Internet (although be forewarned that lovely websites can be fronts for some deplorable breeding operations), go to the library, attend a dog show or canine performance event, such as an agility trial. Talk to both breeders and pet owners. Find out about warts, not just beauty spots.DDB Hug.png

Always remember that it’s important to look beyond outward appearances. You may know you want a medium-sized, long-haired dog, but if your idea of a good time is snoozing on the couch all evening in front of the TV, then the medium-sized, long-haired, but also rather high-octane Australian Shepherd will probably drive you crazy – if you don’t drive him crazy first.

I am a wash-and-wear sort of person myself, and I am attracted mostly to wash-and-wear sorts of dogs, thank goodness. Any breed requires at least a minimal amount of coat care, but some need a good deal more than others. If you’re not willing to either spend the time and do the work yourself or pay for regular clipping or grooming, then maybe a Standard Poodle or Old English Sheepdog isn’t the dog for you.

Get the idea? Whatever breed you choose, it has to be a good fit, or you and your dog will both be sorry.

How Dogs Communicate with Humans

How Dogs Communicate with Humans
“He wants to go out.”
“He wants you to play with him.”
“He wants you to pet him.”
“He doesn’t like you doing that.”pet teaches you

Dog owners spend a lot of time interpreting and acting on their dog’s vocal and body language signals. It is an ongoing and interactive non-verbal discourse between members of two completely different species. Let’s look into how this happens a little more closely.
Canine Vocal Communication
Dogs are not big on vocal communication, but they do produce various types and intensities of sounds, ranging from whimpering and muttering to growling and barking, and, through this means, achieve some crude communication with other dogs and humans. Dogs may be better at communicating with humans in this way than with other dogs.

For example:
• Dog barks furiously (high energy bark – excitement over seeing a squirrel on TV)
• We try opening the door (maybe he wants to go out?)
• Dog thinks we’re strange – but registers what has transpired
• Dog wants to go out – tries a few things that don’t work and then remembers the effect of barking. Tries it out and it works
• Stimulus-response association is strengthened and high energy barking becomes the signal for going out

The corollary to this communication struggle is human/dog vocal communication. Dogs are by no means linguists: For them, English is a second language. But they do recognize a number of human sounds and are particularly attuned to hard consonants; sounds like “cuh” and “teh” (the word CAT is particularly easy for a dog to appreciate). The late, great Barbara Woodhouse knew this all too well and she favored (and popularized) one-word commands like siT, ouT, waiT, and stoppiT. Dogs can learn literally hundreds of human sounds, but they are no good at stringing them together. You can teach a dog to sit when you say SIT and you can teach him the word DINNER, but when you tell him “SIT IN YOUR DINNER” he will be at a loss as to what to do. That’s where body language comes in to fill the communication gap.

Dog Body Language Communication
Here the talents are reversed. Dogs are experts at sending and receiving body language signals and, in contrast, we are dumb clucks. The signs dogs use to communicate with each other are fairly well known and include certain facial expressions, body postures and movements.
Of course, dogs try using these expressions to communicate with humans, assuming that we speak the same language. Some people understand what they see – and some don’t. Although most humans understand extremes, such as the threatening expressions and postures of attack, the subtleties of canine “signing” are often overlooked or misconstrued.

Some people, rightly or wrongly, apply their own interpretation of dogs’ body language. For example, the submissive grin of a self-effacing terrier may be interpreted by owners as a smile. The owners laugh and reward the behavior, which is thus conditioned and will later occur on cue; “Have you seen Bonzo smile?” an owner might ask her friend. On hearing the word SMILE, Bonzo then approaches, head and neck bowed and body wiggling, as he displays a super-reinforced submissive grin that looks for all the world like a human smile. Because everyone is happy about this novel event, the smile even appears to occur in context.

We humans aren’t well versed in body language but we do have a little of our own. We stare in indignation and defiance. We crane our necks forward and jut out our chins by way of threat and lower our heads in submission and shame. We don’t do much wiggling of our ears, and we don’t have a tail to wag, but we do have hands that point or threaten. Even though dogs may not initially cotton on to the full significance of human hand jive, they do eventually get the message. Skillful trainers learn the importance of conveying a mix of signs, ranging from direct eye contact and forward body movement to hand signals, when giving a command. One deaf Dalmation, Hogan, knows 45 words of American Sign Language so the potential for learning in the signing department is large. Also, it has been recently shown that dogs can follow our gestures to find hidden objects. The fact that dogs display this talent means that dogs have evolved to understand us, their human caregivers, more than was previously believed possible.
The Mechanics of Dog Communication
Dog Sounds
• The whimper – anxiety (I’m miserable)
• The whine – frustration (can be inadvertently reinforced as an attention-getting behavior)
• The growl – back off
• The howl – I can’t find you (long distance communication, loneliness, misery)
• The bark – different types of bark mean different things. There are greeting barks (excitement/happiness), alarm barks, barking for attention and as a threat (frequently reinforced by the person’s response)
The Dog Look
• Direct eye contact – looking for attention or serving as a threat (depending on the context)
• Averted eyes – submission/deference
• Looking at an object – to direct the owner to the object in question, whether a ball that has rolled under a couch or a door that is creating an impasse
Dog Head/Neck Posture
• Up – attention or challenge
• To the side/turning away – deference/attempts at avoidance
• Head held low – submission
Dog Body/Torso
• Tense muscles – subconscious sign of impending fight or flight
• Relaxed body, relaxed musculature – easy going attitude
• Head held low but rear end elevated, tail wagging – I want to play
Dog Tail
We can read the dog’s mood from the tail position/movement, but the tail is not really intended to communicate anything to humans. However, when the tail is up it means the dog is actively interested (a confident, attentive gesture). Tail tucked is submission; tail horizontal is neutral mood or indifference; tail movement (wagging) reflects the dog’s energy level/excitement level.
Dog Movement
• Movement toward a person is designed to get their attention.
• Movement away from a person transmits the dog’s uncertainty about that person. The dog’s movement away from the person is a defensive move.
Conclusion on How Dogs Communicate with Humans
However they manage it, and however we manage to interpret it, there can be no doubt that dogs can get their message across to receptive owners and can often direct a person’s behavior to suit their needs. Though deep philosophical discussions are not possible, basic wants and needs can be transmitted, sometimes with remarkable clarity and fluency.

The reverse also appears to be true. If we are sad, our dogs seem to pick up on this, perhaps spending increased time in close proximity to us and changing their demeanor toward us. Sense of smell comes into a dog’s reading of a person, too. Some dogs can tell if a person with diabetes is becoming hypoglycemic (low blood sugar), presumably because they detect the sweet smell of “ketosis” (caused by altered fat metabolism). Other dogs pay inordinate interest to malignant tumors and, because of their interest, direct the owner’s attention toward them. Yet others anticipate seizures in a seizure-prone person before the individual is aware that there is something wrong.

As owners learn more about their dog’s abilities to communicate with them, they build a more harmonious and more fulfilling relationship. The more we can understand about what our dogs are trying to tell us the better dog owners we will become. Some people have lengthy conversations with their dogs. The dog clearly cannot understand much of what is being said, but he may realize that he is getting attention, may recognize occasional sounds, and will probably pick up on the mood of the person talking to him.

Recently, it was reported that reading a telephone directory to a dog using different intonations for otherwise gibberish communication produces responses from the dog that match the tone of the reader’s voice. For example, reading people’s names, addresses, and telephone numbers in a happy tone caused the dog to act happily, head up, standing tall and tail wagging, with the dog seeming to appreciate what was being said. Conversely, if a similar list was read in a morose voice, the dog would act sheepish or depressed, mirroring what he thought to be his owner’s mood. For dogs, voice intonation and actions often speak louder than words.

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What to do for Resource Guarding:

5 Things Too Do When Your Dog Guards a Toy, Bone, Treat, or Bed.

ddb halloween ball

Resource guarding may be a natural, normal dog behavior, but it’s alarming when your own dog growls – or worse, snaps – at you over his resource. Resist your first impulse to snap back at your dog.

Instead, do this:
1. Stop. Whatever you did that caused your dog to growl, stop doing it. Immediately. If you were walking toward him, stand still. If you were reaching toward him, stop reaching. If you were trying to take the toy or bone away from him, stop trying.

2. Analyze. Your next action depends on your lightning-fast analysis of the situation. If your dog is about to bite you, retreat. Quickly. If you’re confident he won’t escalate, stay still. If you aren’t sure, retreat. Err on the side of caution. Complete your analysis by identifying what resource he had that was valuable enough to guard, and what you were doing that caused him to guard.

3. Retreat. If you already retreated because you feared a bite, go on to #4. If you stayed still, wait for some lessening of his tension and then retreat. Here’s the dilemma: dogs give off guarding signals – a freeze, a hard stare, stiffening of the body, a growl, snarl, snap, or bite – to make you go away and leave them alone with their valuable objects.

Your safety is the number one priority, so if a bite is imminent, it’s appropriate to skedaddle. However, by doing so you reinforce the guarding behavior. “Yes!” says Dog. “That freeze worked; it made my human go away.” Reinforced behaviors are likely to repeat or increase, so you can expect more guarding next time.

If, instead, you are safe to stay still and wait for some relaxation of tension and then leave, you reinforce calmer behavior. “Hmmmmm,” says Dog. “Relaxing made my human go away.” If you can do this safely, you increase his relaxation when you are near him and decrease his guarding behavior.

4. Manage. Give your dog guardable things only when you won’t have to take them away. Crates are good places for a resource guarder to enjoy his valuable objects. When he’s crated with good stuff, don’t mess with him, and don’t let anyone else mess with him. When small children are around, put him away – for his sake and theirs – since you may not always know what he’ll decide to guard, especially when kids bring their own toys to play with.

5. Train. Work with a good, positive behavior professional to modify your dog’s guarding behavior so he no longer feels stressed when humans are around his good stuff. Teach him to “trade” on verbal cue for a high value treat such as chicken, starting with low value objects and working up to high value, so he’ll happily give you his things on cue when you need him to. Out-think your dog. Resource guarding behavior is not a good place for a battle of wills.

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Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

Dogs eat the strangest things. Sure, they may devour their food and gobble up their favorite treats. They might also have unhealthy dog habits, such as eating cardboard, chomping on the stuffing inside your pillows, or nibbling on grass. One of the grossest dog behaviors might be eating poop. Whether it’s their own or another animal’s feces, the thought of your dog eating it (and then giving you a big smooch) makes your stomach turn.stop that get back here smile dog
While you’re gagging, you also might be wondering if this practice could make your dog sick. It’s not necessarily harmful, but it could be. It’s also more common that you think, according to the American Kennel Club. In fact, many dog owners get rid of their pets because of this disgusting behavior. Although you love your pup, you probably want to know how to help him kick the habit. Here’s some insight into why dogs eat poop and how to get them to stop.

When Eating Poop Is Normal
Did you know that there’s a technical term for poop-eating? Coprophagia is the scientific word for this icky behavior. Although it sounds like a medical condition, coprophagia is almost always done by healthy dogs that don’t have any nutritional deficiencies. About 25 percent of dogs have been observed eating poop at some point in their lives. Up to 14 percent may have a serious waste-gobbling problem.

Some experts believe that coprophagia is a survival mechanism that helped wild dogs get nutrients even when they couldn’t find real food. Others believe that it’s a way for dogs to consume digestive enzymes that help them break down the foods they eat. Some animals, like rabbits, produce poop that’s rich in enzymes and nutrients. This helps explain why your dog goes crazy for those little pellets.

Mothers of puppies will lick their babies’ bottoms to encourage them to go to the bathroom. They’ll also eat the poop to keep things clean since newborns aren’t all that mobile. As the young pups begin exploring, they may also eat the poop because it happens to be there and it smells somewhat like food. This is normal behavior. Eventually, the animals learn that there are better options for appropriate nutrition for dogs.

When Eating Poop Signals A Behavior Problem
Some dogs eat poop because they’re anxious, frustrated, bored or stressed. According to Mercola Healthy Pets, dogs that have been punished for elimination behaviors, like having an accident in the house, may start to eat their own feces to hide the evidence even when they’re outside. Pups that aren’t fed well may resort to eating feces. Puppies that are weaned early or confined to crates for the majority of their lives also have a tendency to eat excrement. Younger dogs that don’t have behavior problems can even pick up the habit from other, more anxious, canines in the family.

If your dog is stressed, he might eat non-food objects besides animal waste. Some nontoxic items commonly eaten by dogs are crayons, chalk, glue, beauty products, cosmetics, candles, and toothpaste. If your dog shreds anything he can get his teeth on, he might be telling you that he needs more play time. Eating non-edible items could also be a sign of a medical problem.

Medical Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop
Medical reasons for coprophagia are not very common. In rare cases, dogs have a deficiency that makes them unable to produce enzymes to process food. They may also have parasites that interfere with digestion and make a dog more likely to eat feces. Malabsorption issues and irritable bowel syndrome could cause your dog to engage in this behavior.

How to Treat Coprophagia
There are no proven methods to stop dogs from eating feces 100 percent of the time. One of the best ways to stop the behavior is to prevent it. Pick up poop from the yard immediately. Don’t make the cat litter box accessible to your canine.

If you can’t restrict your dog’s access to feces, refrain from scolding your dog. In most cases, the punishment doesn’t occur at the same time that the dog did the offensive activity. Therefore, the dog doesn’t understand why he’s being punished. In other instances, the punishment can be interpreted by the dog as attention. Therefore, he might keep up this response-seeking behavior because you are attentive to him when he does it.

You can make poop taste bad by using coprophagia pet products. Some products are added to the dog’s food and make the waste unappetizing. (You’d think it was already unpalatable, but your dog doesn’t think so.) Some products can be sprinkled on the poop to deter your dog. If you use one of these remedies, all of the waste to which your dog is exposed must be treated. Otherwise, your dog will simply sniff out the better-tasting feces.

Give your dog enough attention and mental stimulation. A frustrated or bored dog can quickly become an anxious dog with a poop-eating problem. Give your dog plenty of exercise and play time. Taking a dog for a walk employs his sensory processing system, his nervous system, and his brain. Even just taking the time to train your dog can give him something to work on. Dogs like to please their owners. The combination of intellectual processing and rewards can help curb a dog’s anxious behavior. If your dog is motivated by food, turn meal times into training sessions by offering pieces of food in exchange for carrying out commands like “sit” and “stay.”
Keeping Your Dog Healthy
Keeping your dog healthy involves more than just taking him to regular veterinary visits and feeding him a few times a day. It also entails giving him opportunities to exercise his body and intellect. Consistency is key. Dogs are great at following routines. Fewer surprises can mean a more predictable, less stressed dog. Put the time into making sure your dog gets regular activity and limit his exposure to feces to help him stop eating stuff that’s not good for him, including poop.

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Reduce Your Dog’s Cancer Risks

Veterinary oncologists say that cancers in humans and in dogs are incredibly similar, in terms of growth and prognosis. That’s good news for both species, as research of human or canine cancer may yield insight about and new treatments for this deadly disease. In addition, many of the tactics that reduce the incidence of cancer in humans, veterinary oncologists say, can be used by pet owners to reduce the chances that their dogs will develop the disease. Here are four things you can do to help prevent cancer in your dog:

managing-chronic-inflammation-1

Bio-Hacking your dogs health

1. Reduce Your Dog’s Exposure to Carcinogens
The word “carcinogen” is commonly defined as something that causes cancer. In reality, a carcinogen doesn’t cause cancer; it sets the stage for cancer to develop.

“Cancer relies on gene mutation (abnormal cell growth),” says Dr. Gerald Post, a board-certified veterinary oncologist and owner of the Veterinary Cancer Center in Norwalk, Connecticut. “We’re all born with some basal level of cancer risk, but viruses, diet, environment all interact to raise or lower that risk,” he says.

Carcinogens impair a dog’s gene-replication devices somehow, setting the stage for cancer to develop. Some carcinogens actually alter the DNA in the body, while others cause cells in the body to divide too quickly, which opens the door for DNA abnormalities and, therefore, cancer growth.

The list of known human cancer-causing carcinogens is long, with an even longer list of suspected carcinogens. While a dog’s susceptibility depends in part on his genetic makeup, prolonged or frequently repeated exposure to these elements can result in those worrisome cellular changes. In other words, walking by a lawn with pesticide on it isn’t as risky as playing daily on that grass. Scope out your home and backyard for possible contaminants and remove or limit your dog’s exposure to them. You can see a full list of human carcinogens at the American Cancer Society.

That said, pesticides are at the top of the list of concerns for your dog, and are one of two proven causes in pets, Dr. Post says. The chemical “2,4-D,” which is found in some common herbicides, has been linked to lymphoma in dogs. Keep your dog away from herbicides at least until the product has dried.

The other proven pet carcinogen is secondhand smoke. It’s linked to cancer in cats, as it settles on the cat’s coat and the cat licks it off, ingesting it. Dr. Susan Lana, a board-certified veterinary oncologist and chief of clinical oncology at Colorado State University’s Flint Animal Cancer Society, suggests that pet owners who smoke avoid doing so in the home, as the smoke settles on pets.

Long-nosed dogs living in a pollutant-filled air, such as a smoky home or highly polluted city, are at higher risk for developing nasal carcinoma. (See sidebar, below, for potential carcinogens that may your dog may be exposed to on a regular basis.) On average, indoor air contains far more harmful pollutants than outdoor air. Our homes tend to contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can evaporate from air fresheners, floor and carpet cleaners, paint, furniture, and even the floors themselves, especially new carpet and vinyl floor coverings. Long-term exposure to polluted air can have compounding health effects.

With the human-dog comparison in mind, it’s no surprise that providing shade for your dog to reduce long-term exposure to sunlight (especially for dogs with white hair) is important.

dog sitting in treated lawn
We all love taking our dogs to grassy fields to play, but keep in mind that lush, manicured public parks are likely to receive regular treatment with toxic herbicides –and too much sunshine is a hazard, especially for white dogs.

What You Need to Do: To protect from environmental hazards, bathe your dog frequently to remove outdoor toxins on his coat and use foot baths to reduce the amount being brought into your home. Check your dog’s immediate environment for carcinogens and work to limit them. Remember, it isn’t the haphazard occasional exposure to a cancer-causing element that’s a problem. It’s long-term prolonged contact with it.

2. Time Spay/Neuter Surgery Appropriately, If Possible
We believe the decision to spay or neuter your dog should be based more on your individual needs and ability to care for and manage your dog than on your dog’s cancer risk. However, the status of your dog’s reproductive structures is indeed a factor in the likelihood of your dog getting cancer.

For years, veterinarians unanimously recommended spaying before the first heat cycle and neutering at six months. This practice did prevent some types of cancer. Obviously, testicular cancer is impossible in a dog whose testicles have been removed, and spay surgery that removes the uterus and ovaries eliminates the possibility of uterine, cervical, and ovarian tumors. In addition, it’s a well-known fact that the more heat cycles a female experiences, the higher her chances of mammary cancer, so earlier spay surgery is sharply reduces the incidence of that cancer. However, that’s not the whole story.

“Some studies suggest that the risk of some cancer is higher in dogs who are neutered too early (before one year of age),” Dr. Lana says. “It’s being discussed quite a bit.”

Spaying/neutering before the age of one year is associated with a higher risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and hemangiosarcoma (a rapidly growing tumor that originates in the blood vessels).

What You Need to Do: The right decision regarding the alteration of your puppy may depend upon your ability to control unplanned breeding and to deal with heat cycles. It may also be a decision that takes the dog’s activity level or genetics. Sporting-dog owners want to maximize the benefits of circulating hormones as the dog matures into an adult for stronger bones, cartilage, and joints. It’s not an easy call. “Weigh the pros and cons,” suggests Dr. Post. “Overpopulation is a huge issue. Make the decision that is right for your pet.” We’d add that your own dog care and management abilities should be considered, too. (See “Risks and Benefits to Spaying/Neutering Your Dog,” WDJ February 2013.)

3. Provide Your Dog with a Healthy Lifestyle
Health starts with a normal weight. The National Cancer Institute links obesity in humans to increased risk of cancer of the esophagus, pancreas, colon, rectum, breast, kidney, thyroid, and gallbladder. Veterinary research agrees. An obesity-cancer link has been proven in dogs, too, especially for mammary and bladder cancers.

Keeping your dog from getting fat dog has a lot to do with limiting treats, no matter how good he is at begging. It also involves feeding the right, good-quality food, so your dog gets all the nutrients he needs without eating too much.

Regular exercise will help with both your dog’s weight and aid in cancer prevention. A study published in May 2016 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a highly respected peer-reviewed publication, showed increased leisure-time exercise resulted in a lower risk of cancer in humans. Although the research was not able to find the mechanism by which exercise works, the results showed up to a 20 percent reduction in cancer.

dog with bone cancer
Because this dog’s bone cancer was caught in a very early stage, only radiation (rather than amputation) was needed to arrest the cancer. (The radiation caused his hair to grow back in white.)

Notice that the study says “leisure-time” exercise. That means not work-related exercise, not daily routine or activity. In dog care, that means turning your dog out in the backyard is not exercise. You need to throw a ball or go for a long walk or short run. Maybe he enjoys romping at the dog park. He’s just got to get out there and move.

Regular exercise helps reduce stress, another lifestyle factor in the development of cancer. Uncontrolled stress has been shown to exacerbate tumor growth in humans. Signs of stress in your dog vary from obvious (digestive upset or lack of appetite) to subtle (persistent licking with no other cause, yawning, scratching for no obvious reason, dropped tail, drooling, low/back ears). See “Managing Your Dog’s Stress: A Holistic Approach,” WDJ December 2009.

What You Need to Do: Feed a good-quality food in appropriate amounts to keep your dog fit and slender. Be sure your dog gets plenty of exercise, and address stress issues by incorporating the help of a trainer or your veterinarian to isolate and eliminate the source.

4. Examine Your Dog’s Body – Early Cancer Detection is Key
Of all the cancer preventatives we’ve discussed, the most important one is early detection. The earlier you catch a developing cancer, the higher the odds of a longer life.

Just like a woman performing her monthly self-breast exam for breast-cancer detection, a dog owner should know every bump and lump on her dog’s body by doing a physical examination every month. Changes in eating, urinating, or defecating should be noted. Signs of cancer including frequent vomiting, difficulty breathing, lameness, and lethargy. It’s important to realize that some problems develop so slowly you may not notice until symptoms significantly worsen.

As your dog ages, his risk of cancer naturally rises, so make sure your veterinarian makes your dog’s wellness exams more involved over the years. Keep in mind that old fractures can set the stage for cancer in later life. Your veterinarian will also palpate your dog’s body to help detect tumors earlier. (See “Ten Ways to Help Ensure that your Dog’s ‘Golden Years’ are Comfortable and Healthy,” WDJ April 2015.)

“There is no specific blood test that is commonly used in vet med to screen for cancer, although some are on the market,” said Dr. Lana. “During the annual visit, we often recommend a thorough physical exam, and screening blood work after the age of 7. It’s also possible to do screening chest X-rays and abdominal ultrasound after that age as well. That’s the place to start, with other tests based on those findings,” she said.

What You Need to Do: Learn what your dog feels like over every inch of his body, and every month, go over him, looking for bumps or lumps. Pay close attention to changes in eating habits, digestive upsets, or signs of sluggishness (see sidebar for early warning signs of cancer). Notify your veterinarian if you have any concerns. Give your veterinarian a chance to get to know your pet. Set up that annual wellness examination, or twice-annual visit for older dogs, and stick with it.

How to cope with Pet Loss

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Pet Loss
When a person you love dies, it’s natural to grieve, express your grief and expect friends and family to provide understanding and comfort. Unfortunately, when a beloved pet dies, many people are less understanding of the deep affect it has on your life. Some may think or say, “it’s just a pet” and think that your pain may pass in a matter of days or with the “replacement” of another animal. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Your pet was a member of your family
Whether a dog lover, a cat lover or just an animal lover, pets have become as much a member of the family as their human counterparts.

You undoubtedly love your pet and probably considered he or she a member of your family too. Many people, especially those for whom the pet is a constant companion, confide in their animals, talk to them, give and receive deep affection, and come to count on their presence as a critical part of the day. So when your beloved pet dies, it’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your sorrow.

Animals provide companionship, acceptance, emotional support, and unconditional love during their life with you. If you understand and accept this bond between humans and animals, you need to take the first step toward coping with pet loss: knowing that it’s okay to grieve when your pet dies. Don’t tell yourself or let anyone tell you otherwise – you have a right to grieve.

What to expect while grieving
Grief is personal and individual, and every person experiences its nuances differently. Your personality, support system, natural coping mechanisms and many other factors can determine how loss will affect you. There are no rules, timetables, or linear progressions. Some people feel better after a few weeks or months, and for others it may take years. And in the midst of recovery there may be setbacks — this nonlinear process can’t be controlled. It’s critical that you treat yourself with patience and compassion and allow the process to unfold. You have the right to grieve, and no one — including yourself — can tell you when it’s time to end that process.

Grief is unique and can often depends on one’s relationship to their pet. Let’s explore the different relationships one might have.

To a child, a pet is often the first living thing they learn to care for. Whether walking a dog, feeding a cat or cleaning a cage, children learn that they are responsible for the well-being of their pet and that their pet depends on them. One might suggest, the more involved a child is in the care for their animal, the stronger the emotional bond becomes. So when a beloved pet dies, a child’s grief might become more complicated as they bring question to their own failure and guilt, i.e., was a fence left open, did they leave enough food? It’s important that a child understand that the death of a pet is not their fault. Accidents, illness and old age will happen no matter how well a pet was loved and cared for. One might use this as a reminder that love and kindness are the best we can do while our pets are in our care and to be happy your pet had your child’s love.

In today’s world many adults choose not to have human families or at least put off having them until later years. New studies show that these owners take their pets to the vet more often then generations before, give their pets vitamins, buy pet toys and traets and designer items and hold pet parties. In the event that the pet is a dog, owners pay for pet services and take their dogs on errands and to pet-friendly restaurants. So for the adult who chooses a pet before a human family their pet’s death leaves an emptiness and often deep grief. Their pet was their companion, their friend, their child and their family.

For the family, a pet’s death is felt by all and each family member grieves in their unique and special way. For a child who cuddled their pet a bedtime, this time moving forward might be become the most difficult part of day. For the husband who came home to his pet’s wagging tail, coming home might now be sad. For the woman who had her coffee every morning with her furry friend, this daily ritual might become lonely. It’s important not to judge and equally important not to be judged. Be kind to yourself and understand that those around you have different connections to your beloved family pet.

Coping with the loss of a pet can be particularly hard for seniors. Those who live alone may feel a loss of purpose and an immense emptiness – if you live alone, your pet may have alleviated any sense of loneliness or isolation. Your pet may have motivated you to get out for a walk or to establish a meaningful daily routine by taking care of their needs. And most of all, your pet was a source of unconditional love and constant companionship.

Because your companion meant so much to you, your pet’s death may also trigger painful memories of other losses and remind you of your own mortality. For some, the decision to get another pet is complicated by the possibility that the pet may outlive the caregiver, or hinge on the person’s physical and financial ability to care for a new pet. These issues can lead to feelings of increased isolation and a focus on what can’t happen instead of the good the future may hold.

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How to cope with your grief
For all the reasons noted above, it’s critical that you take immediate steps to cope with your loss and regain a sense of purpose. Make every effort to interact with friends and family and assuage the loneliness. Consider calling a pet loss support hotline or even volunteering at a local humane society. Contact with needy animals may help you as you grieve for your own loss, knowing that you’re providing them with much-needed love and physical contact. There are also organizations that need foster families for pets and you may be able to provide loving companionship to that animal as a way of honoring the memory of your own companion.

There are also virtual opportunities to honor and remember your beloved pet. For children, the death of a pet is usually their first experience with grief. A virtual memorial is a great tool for the child and family to feel connected while remembering all the joy your pet brought to your family. It’s a way to begin a healthy grief recovery as you celebrate the joy and love you shared. As you begin the journey through grief and your hearts heal, perhaps you’ll be able to embrace another pet eager to love a family ready to open its heart again.

Other things to keep in mind Remember
Give yourself permission to grieve: Your loss is as deserving of sorrow and grief as any other. You may share a bond with your animal as you have had with humans. Allow yourself to grieve, and don’t judge yourself – your grief is appropriate and should be recognized.

Give yourself time to grieve: There is no timeline on grief. Only you know when you can move through a day with less sadness, and no one can tell you that it’s “time to move on.”

Accept and express your feelings: Don’t be embarrassed by your feelings nor hide them. Suppressing feelings may only lead to greater grief later on or even physical ailments often associated with depression. It can help to associate with others who have lost a pet or who recognize the deep value and relationships that come from companion animals. Consider contacting the local SPCA/ASPCA to find out if there are support groups, or to find volunteer opportunities.

Regardless of the type of loss, your grief will be individual and unique. Your journey with grief will be different than for anyone else, and you need to allow yourself to grieve in your own way.

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How TooReduce Your Dog’s Cancer Risks

Reduce Your Dog’s Cancer Risks
You can’t prevent cancer – at least not yet – but you can stack the odds in your dog’s favor.
Veterinary oncologists say that cancers in humans and in dogs are incredibly similar, in terms of growth and prognosis. That’s good news for both species, as research of human or canine cancer may yield insight about and new treatments for this deadly disease. In addition, many of the tactics that reduce the incidence of cancer in humans, veterinary oncologists say, can be used by pet owners to reduce the chances that their dogs will develop the disease. Here are four things you can do to help prevent cancer in your dog:

1. Reduce Your Dog’s Exposure to Carcinogens
The word “carcinogen” is commonly defined as something that causes cancer. In reality, a carcinogen doesn’t cause cancer; it sets the stage for cancer to develop.

“Cancer relies on gene mutation (abnormal cell growth),” says Dr. Gerald Post, a board-certified veterinary oncologist and owner of the Veterinary Cancer Center in Norwalk, Connecticut. “We’re all born with some basal level of cancer risk, but viruses, diet, environment all interact to raise or lower that risk,” he says.

Carcinogens impair a dog’s gene-replication devices somehow, setting the stage for cancer to develop. Some carcinogens actually alter the DNA in the body, while others cause cells in the body to divide too quickly, which opens the door for DNA abnormalities and, therefore, cancer growth.

The list of known human cancer-causing carcinogens is long, with an even longer list of suspected carcinogens. While a dog’s susceptibility depends in part on his genetic makeup, prolonged or frequently repeated exposure to these elements can result in those worrisome cellular changes. In other words, walking by a lawn with pesticide on it isn’t as risky as playing daily on that grass. Scope out your home and backyard for possible contaminants and remove or limit your dog’s exposure to them. You can see a full list of human carcinogens at the American Cancer Society.

That said, pesticides are at the top of the list of concerns for your dog, and are one of two proven causes in pets, Dr. Post says. The chemical “2,4-D,” which is found in some common herbicides, has been linked to lymphoma in dogs. Keep your dog away from herbicides at least until the product has dried.

The other proven pet carcinogen is secondhand smoke. It’s linked to cancer in cats, as it settles on the cat’s coat and the cat licks it off, ingesting it. Dr. Susan Lana, a board-certified veterinary oncologist and chief of clinical oncology at Colorado State University’s Flint Animal Cancer Society, suggests that pet owners who smoke avoid doing so in the home, as the smoke settles on pets.

Long-nosed dogs living in a pollutant-filled air, such as a smoky home or highly polluted city, are at higher risk for developing nasal carcinoma. (See sidebar, below, for potential carcinogens that may your dog may be exposed to on a regular basis.) On average, indoor air contains far more harmful pollutants than outdoor air. Our homes tend to contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can evaporate from air fresheners, floor and carpet cleaners, paint, furniture, and even the floors themselves, especially new carpet and vinyl floor coverings. Long-term exposure to polluted air can have compounding health effects.

With the human-dog comparison in mind, it’s no surprise that providing shade for your dog to reduce long-term exposure to sunlight (especially for dogs with white hair) is important.

We all love taking our dogs to grassy fields to play, but keep in mind that lush, manicured public parks are likely to receive regular treatment with toxic herbicides –and too much sunshine is a hazard, especially for white dogs.

What You Need to Do: To protect from environmental hazards, bathe your dog frequently to remove outdoor toxins on his coat and use foot baths to reduce the amount being brought into your home. Check your dog’s immediate environment for carcinogens and work to limit them. Remember, it isn’t the haphazard occasional exposure to a cancer-causing element that’s a problem. It’s long-term prolonged contact with it.

2. Time Spay/Neuter Surgery Appropriately, If Possible
We believe the decision to spay or neuter your dog should be based more on your individual needs and ability to care for and manage your dog than on your dog’s cancer risk. However, the status of your dog’s reproductive structures is indeed a factor in the likelihood of your dog getting cancer.

For years, veterinarians unanimously recommended spaying before the first heat cycle and neutering at six months. This practice did prevent some types of cancer. Obviously, testicular cancer is impossible in a dog whose testicles have been removed, and spay surgery that removes the uterus and ovaries eliminates the possibility of uterine, cervical, and ovarian tumors. In addition, it’s a well-known fact that the more heat cycles a female experiences, the higher her chances of mammary cancer, so earlier spay surgery is sharply reduces the incidence of that cancer. However, that’s not the whole story.

“Some studies suggest that the risk of some cancer is higher in dogs who are neutered too early (before one year of age),” Dr. Lana says. “It’s being discussed quite a bit.”

Spaying/neutering before the age of one year is associated with a higher risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and hemangiosarcoma (a rapidly growing tumor that originates in the blood vessels).

What You Need to Do: The right decision regarding the alteration of your puppy may depend upon your ability to control unplanned breeding and to deal with heat cycles. It may also be a decision that takes the dog’s activity level or genetics. Sporting-dog owners want to maximize the benefits of circulating hormones as the dog matures into an adult for stronger bones, cartilage, and joints. It’s not an easy call. “Weigh the pros and cons,” suggests Dr. Post. “Overpopulation is a huge issue. Make the decision that is right for your pet.” We’d add that your own dog care and management abilities should be considered, too. (See “Risks and Benefits to Spaying/Neutering Your Dog,” WDJ February 2013.)

3. Provide Your Dog with a Healthy Lifestyle
Health starts with a normal weight. The National Cancer Institute links obesity in humans to increased risk of cancer of the esophagus, pancreas, colon, rectum, breast, kidney, thyroid, and gallbladder. Veterinary research agrees. An obesity-cancer link has been proven in dogs, too, especially for mammary and bladder cancers.

Keeping your dog from getting fat dog has a lot to do with limiting treats, no matter how good he is at begging. It also involves feeding the right, good-quality food, so your dog gets all the nutrients he needs without eating too much.

Regular exercise will help with both your dog’s weight and aid in cancer prevention. A study published in May 2016 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a highly respected peer-reviewed publication, showed increased leisure-time exercise resulted in a lower risk of cancer in humans. Although the research was not able to find the mechanism by which exercise works, the results showed up to a 20 percent reduction in cancer.

Because this dog’s bone cancer was caught in a very early stage, only radiation (rather than amputation) was needed to arrest the cancer. (The radiation caused his hair to grow back in white.)

Notice that the study says “leisure-time” exercise. That means not work-related exercise, not daily routine or activity. In dog care, that means turning your dog out in the backyard is not exercise. You need to throw a ball or go for a long walk or short run. Maybe he enjoys romping at the dog park. He’s just got to get out there and move.

Regular exercise helps reduce stress, another lifestyle factor in the development of cancer. Uncontrolled stress has been shown to exacerbate tumor growth in humans. Signs of stress in your dog vary from obvious (digestive upset or lack of appetite) to subtle (persistent licking with no other cause, yawning, scratching for no obvious reason, dropped tail, drooling, low/back ears). See “Managing Your Dog’s Stress: A Holistic Approach,” WDJ December 2009.

What You Need to Do: Feed a good-quality food in appropriate amounts to keep your dog fit and slender. Be sure your dog gets plenty of exercise, and address stress issues by incorporating the help of a trainer or your veterinarian to isolate and eliminate the source.

4. Examine Your Dog’s Body – Early Cancer Detection is Key
Of all the cancer preventatives we’ve discussed, the most important one is early detection. The earlier you catch a developing cancer, the higher the odds of a longer life.

Just like a woman performing her monthly self-breast exam for breast-cancer detection, a dog owner should know every bump and lump on her dog’s body by doing a physical examination every month. Changes in eating, urinating, or defecating should be noted. Signs of cancer including frequent vomiting, difficulty breathing, lameness, and lethargy. It’s important to realize that some problems develop so slowly you may not notice until symptoms significantly worsen.

As your dog ages, his risk of cancer naturally rises, so make sure your veterinarian makes your dog’s wellness exams more involved over the years. Keep in mind that old fractures can set the stage for cancer in later life. Your veterinarian will also palpate your dog’s body to help detect tumors earlier. (See “Ten Ways to Help Ensure that your Dog’s ‘Golden Years’ are Comfortable and Healthy,” WDJ April 2015.)

“There is no specific blood test that is commonly used in vet med to screen for cancer, although some are on the market,” said Dr. Lana. “During the annual visit, we often recommend a thorough physical exam, and screening blood work after the age of 7. It’s also possible to do screening chest X-rays and abdominal ultrasound after that age as well. That’s the place to start, with other tests based on those findings,” she said.

What You Need to Do: Learn what your dog feels like over every inch of his body, and every month, go over him, looking for bumps or lumps. Pay close attention to changes in eating habits, digestive upsets, or signs of sluggishness (see sidebar for early warning signs of cancer). Notify your veterinarian if you have any concerns. Give your veterinarian a chance to get to know your pet. Set up that annual wellness examination, or twice-annual visit for older dogs, and stick with it.

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Also combating Oxidative Stress has been shown in studies done by respected scientific university’s provides their bodies with help in combating many forms of Cancer, a Pill a Day can improve your dog’s health, mental state, skin condition and much more.
For more information on improving your dog’s health overall, please contact Marcia directly thedognany@bell.net or 705-816-4158.

Bio-Hacking your Dog’s Health
http://www.DogNanny.ca/Bio-Hacking

 

How to Crate train a Crate fearful dog

What to Do When Your Dog Hates His Cratecadbury create
Five things to do when your dog refuses to get in or stay in a crate.

Properly used, the crate is a marvelous training and management tool. Improperly used, it can be a disaster. Overcrating, traumatic, or stimulating experiences while crated, improper introduction to the crate, and isolation or separation anxieties are the primary causes of crating disasters.
If, for whatever reason, your dog is not a fan of the artificial den you’ve provided for him, and assuming he can’t be trusted home alone uncrated, here are some things you can do:
1.) Find other confinement alternatives. Every time your crate-hating dog has a bad experience in a crate, it increases his stress and anxiety and makes it harder to modify his crate aversion. Your dog may tolerate an exercise pen, a chain-link kennel set up in your garage, or even a room of his own. A recent client whose dog was injuring herself in the crate due to isolation anxiety found her dog did just fine when confined to the bedroom when she had to be left alone.

2.) Utilize daycare alternatives. Many dogs who don’t crate well are delighted to spend the day at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative who is home when you are not, or at a good doggie daycare facility – assuming your dog does well in the company of other dogs.
This is not a good option for dogs with true separation anxiety, as they will be no happier with someone else when they are separated from you than they are in a crate.

3.) Teach him to love his crate. Utilize a combination of counter-conditioning (changing his association with the crate from negative to positive) and operant conditioning/shaping (positively reinforcing him for gradually moving closer to, and eventually into, the crate) to convince him to go into his crate voluntarily. Then, very gradually, work your way up to closing the door with your dog inside, and eventually moving longer and longer distances away from your crated dog for longer and longer periods of time. Note: If your dog has a separation/anxiety issue, you must address and modify that behavior before crate-training will work.

Puppy Sleep

4.) Identify and remove aversives. Figure out why the crate is aversive to your dog. If he was crate-trained at one time and then decided he didn’t like it, what changed? Perhaps you were overcrating, and he was forced to soil his den, and that was very stressful for him.

Maybe there are environmental aversives; is it too warm or too cold in his crate? Is there a draft blowing on him? Is it set near something that might expose him to an aversive sound, like the washing machine, buzzer on a clothes dryer, or an alarm of some kind? Perhaps his crate is near the door, and he becomes overstimulated when someone knocks, or rings the doorbell, or when mail and packages are delivered. Is someone threatening him when he’s crated – another dog, perhaps? Or a child who bangs on the top, front, or sides of the crate? Maybe he’s been angrily punished by someone who throws him into the crate and yells at him – or worse. All the remedial crate training in the world won’t help if the aversive thing is still happening. You have to make the bad stuff stop.

If he’s a victim of generalized anxiety or separation anxiety and the crate aversion is part of a larger syndrome, or his stress about crating is extreme, you may want to explore the use of behavior modification drugs with your behavior knowledgeable Dog Training professional or a veterinary behaviorist, to help reduce stress enough that he can learn to love his crate.
5.) Take him with you. Of course you can’t take him with you all the time, but whenever you can, it decreases the number of times you have to use another alternative. Some workplaces allow employees to bring their dogs to work with them; you don’t know until you ask. Of course you will never take him somewhere that he’d be left in a car, unattended, for an extended period of time, or at all, if the weather is even close to being dangerous. A surprising number of businesses allow well-behaved dogs to accompany their owners; if it doesn’t say “No Dogs” on the door, give it a try! Your dog will thank you.

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Cold Weather Tips for Dogs

winter dress up

This is Teal’C one of my Dogue De Bordeaux’s, my Daughter wanted him outside with her, and I had said it was too cold to play outside, so she wrapped him up.

 

Despite the popular misconception, fur alone is not enough to protect dogs from the elements.

The fact is that, much like people, dogs have varying degrees of tolerance when it comes to temperature extremes. Even the hardiest breeds are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. Dr. Jason Nicholas from thepreventivevet.com warns, “With hypothermia we worry about depressed temperatures affecting the normal function of the central nervous system (brain), as well as the pet’s ability to effectively circulate blood and breath. It’s this impaired ability to circulate blood (and thus deliver heat to the periphery of the body), as well as other factors, that can contribute to the development of frostbite. Pets can die from hypothermia and those that suffer from frostbite will deal with pain and may lose affected body parts.” Luckily, hypothermia and frostbite can be easy to avoid by taking a few precautions:

Talk to your vet about cold weather protection
Some medical conditions will worsen when it gets colder out, “one of the main ones would be arthritis,” according to Dr. Jason Nicholas. Arthritis might worsen in the cold months “because of the direct effect of the cold [which can cause] increased stiffness, and because the cold frequently brings icy/slippery streets and sidewalks.” Before it gets to be wintertime your dog should have a checkup. Having your dog checked by a veterinarian can help ensure that problems don’t worsen when the temperature drops. This visit is also your best opportunity to ask your veterinarian about winter care.

Know your dog’s cold tolerance
Although all dogs are at risk in the cold weather, some are better equipped to handle it than others. Huskies and other breeds from cold climates are certainly going to be more comfortable than other dogs, such as the Italian Greyhounds, when wading through a winter wonderland. Also consider that old, young, wet dogs or dogs with thinner coats are at a greater risk of getting hypothermia and/or frostbite.

Take shorter walks with your dogs
Winter is a great time to get closer to your pets. They want to be inside with you where it’s warm. Short, frequent walks are preferable to extended walks during this time of year. After that, it should be right back inside to clean the snow and ice from between their toes. This isn’t to say that you should stop exercising your dog when it gets cold outside. The winter is the perfect time to enter your dog into daycare so that he can burn off excess energy in a safe and social place. Don’t forget about playtime at home either. Most dogs would love to chase a plush toy through the hallways.

dog tongue on lamp post snow

Poisons –Antifreeze is a common cold weather poison but not the only one to be aware of: road salt and rodent poisons are also used with greater frequency during this time of year. Even if you don’t use any of those products, an unsupervised pet could easily wonder into a neighbor’s yard and find them.

Dogs may also lick their paws after a walk. Every time you come inside with your dog you should dry his feet thoroughly with a towel to be sure he has not tracked in any dangerous chemicals. Also check him over for any injuries to the paws: cracks, cuts, or scrapes. These kinds of injuries can cause pain and lameness. Use pet friendly deicing products on steps, walkways and driveways.

Keep your dog on a leash
Because dogs rely heavily on a strong sense of smell to figure out where they are, they can easily be lost during winter storms. Snow covering the ground will make their surroundings less familiar. Keeping your dog on a leash at all times – especially during winter storms – can help stop your dog from becoming lost. You may also ask your veterinarian about microchipping, just in case.

Try clothing layers for warmth
For small dogs in particular, sweaters are not a joke, they’re actually very important during the cold weather. Small dogs have a larger surface area for their body weight and benefit greatly not only from a warm shirt but also from booties. Former Editor-in-Chief for Pet Health Network, Jane Harrell, confirms that dog clothing is no laughing matter. “My adopted Italian Greyhound, Fiona, doesn’t love the winter cold so I bundle her up in a sweater, a winter jacket, leg warmers, a neck warmer and am looking into getting booties to help her weather the Maine winter.” If you do get booties for your dog, Dr. Nichalas urges that you make sure they’re well-fitted and have good grip to prevent causing slips and falls.

Don’t leave your dog inside of a parked car
This rule is also important during the summer; a parked car can quickly amplify the affects of extreme weather. During the winter it can act as an icebox and trap cold air inside.

Groom cautiously
It’s important to walk a fine line when grooming your dog during the winter.

Taking too much hair off will mean he has less to keep him warm; leaving too much on will make brushing more difficult and could lead to matted hair. Ask your veterinarian how often he recommends grooming based on your breed of dog.

Be sure your dog has choices when it comes time to go to bed
He should have comfortable spots in both hotter and cooler regions of the house. This will allow him to move around at night if he’s uncomfortable.

Dogs should always have access to water, even when outside
Never use a metal water dish outside in cold weather because your dog’s tongue can get stuck! (Think of the flag pole when you were a kid.) You can also consider purchasing a heated water dish (normally used for feral cats) so that your dog doesn’t have to drink frigid water or be challenged to get enough to drink from a frozen water source.

Your dog will also need to eat more during the winter because it takes more energy to keep warm; however, don’t make the mistake of feeding too much. Obesity carries health concerns of its own.

By following these precautions and seeking advice from your veterinarian you can give your dog a safe and happy winter season. Enjoy!

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian — they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Related symptoms:
#Pain
#Limp

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