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Outdoor Fun with Your Dog, by Dr. Peel

Interested in some fun outdoor plans for you and your dog for the weekend? Here are some tips from Dr. Peel.

Exercise is very important for the health and well being of all dogs. Some dogs need activities that are both very physically demanding as well as mentally challenging. Others may be couch potatoes but equally need and require regular exercise as well. As an owner of five dogs ranging in activity level, age, and size (from 65lbs to 5lbs), I must ensure they all have regular exercise to keep them healthy as well as mentally and physically stimulated.

A well-stimulated and exercised dog is much less likely to get into trouble with behavioral issues such as chewing on furniture, digging in the yard, or escaping your yard. In addition, the lack of appropriate exercise is a major contributor to the pet obesity trend and the serious devastating diseases that accompany overweight pets. Furthermore, regular exercise strengthens the body organs such as the muscles, lungs, heart, and joints which not only help prevent injuries, but also improve the overall wellbeing and potentially life expectancy of your best friend as well.

Here are a few exercises and activities I routinely enjoy with my dogs.

Walking

Walking is a great exercise for both you and your dog and really helps to strengthen the bond between the both of you. I often walk all of my dogs at one time (yes, from the 5lb yorkie to the 65lb boxer mix) without any issues. However, it is important all dogs are trained to walk well on a leash alone with you before you walk several dogs at one time. Make sure you always use a leash unless you’re in a safe, fenced-in area.

Hiking

If you’re a hiker, consider getting a lightweight nylon backpack for your larger dog. Ziggy, my 65lb boxer mix has his own backpack to carry his and my food/water for the hike. If you have a small dog, you may want to consider carrying her in a small special bag if she gets too tired during the hike as I do with my small pups.

For more information about hiking with your dog, visit: Hike With Your Dog and American Hiking Society.

Running or Jogging

Dogs can be amazing running partners although it is important you are both in similar athletic condition. Otherwise, mismatches can be exhausting for both of you. Also be sure you have a dog whose type and temperament make him suitable as a running partner. Ziggy (boxer mix) and Lola (sharpie mix) are my two running partners and we always enjoy a good run together. However, Yoshi (my cockapoo) doesn’t quite enjoy running for long periods of time and he would quickly tire out.

It is also important you consult a veterinarian before your dog starts running as different health conditions can be contraindicated for a strenuous activity such as running (heart disease, arthritis, young/old age, etc).

Swimming

Swimming is another great exercise for dogs. This is an activity that is low-impact so it doesn’t stress the joints of older or arthritic dogs. Swimming also works many different muscles at the same time. Not all dogs are natural swimmers so may do best in shallow waters. It is okay for dogs to swim in chlorinated pools as long as they are bathed afterwards to remove the chlorine from their fur/hair just as you would do after swimming. Swimming in lakes and rivers can also be an enjoyable activity. Make sure your best friend is always supervised while swimming.

Also remember certain diseases can be contracted by swimming in these water sources (parasites, bacterial infections, etc). This is one reason why a leptospirosis vaccination as well as regular fecal tests are highly recommended to protect your best friend.

Some dogs may also enjoy swimming in the ocean, but this is only advised for strong swimmers. The ocean carries itself certain risks such as strong currents and salt water. It can be life threatening and even fatal for dogs to drink excessive amounts of salt water so make sure you prevent your dog from drinking ocean water.

I advise all dogs to wear a life jacket while swimming (even strong swimmers). Ziggy loves to swim and is an excellent swimmer. However, he often enjoys swimming so much he becomes exhausted and thus he has his own life jacket to keep him safe when he is tired and in deeper waters.

Fetch

Many dogs have a lot fun and enjoy a simple game of fetch. Fetch is an activity that gives your dog needed exercise, strengthens the bond between the both of you, and promotes the habit of him returning to you. You can always switch the objects of fetch from balls, frisbees, stuffies, or whatever your dog’s favorite toy is. Fetch can be played outside or even indoors on a rainy or snowy day if you have the space that allows for it.

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Deskunking your Dog

My dog Mattie has been sprayed by a skunk 3 times in her life, twice in June, and surprisingly once in February. It has always happened at night. If you are as unfortunate as I have been and your dog gets sprayed by a skunk, here are some helpful tips:

  1. Once you realize what has happened, try to keep your dog outside until after bathing. Otherwise, your dog will try to rub it’s skunky face all over your couch!
  2. Flush the pet’s eyes with water if they are irritated.
  3. In a bucket, wear rubber gloves, and mix 1 quart hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 to 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 tsp liquid dish soap. Apply mixture to affected areas on the dog. Rinse well.
  4. Follow with dog shampoo.

To avoid contact with skunks in the first place, turn floodlights on and scan the yard before letting your dog out at dusk or dawn to go potty.

By Dr. Sullivan

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Noise Phobias: Summer Storms and Fireworks

Between fireworks and thunderstorms, summer is stressful for our two dogs. Last year, we heard fireworks every night from June 29th through July 15th! Here’s what we’ve found works:

1. Carly is the less nervous of our two dogs. For her, distracting her with an awesome treat is enough to get her through the fireworks or storm.

After loading up a Kong with peanut butter and treats, we freeze it so we always have one ready. A frozen treat takes more focus and takes her longer to get through it.

2. Adie is our nervous Nellie – we can hear furniture or heating baseboard shaking if she’s touching them. Sileo came out last year and is a game-changer for her.

Manufactured by Zoetis, it is a gentle medication for noise phobias. A gel that we place in her cheek, It doesn’t knock her out and she stays alert – it just relaxes her. We can adjust how much we give her based on how nervous she is. Most importantly, she becomes part of the family again.

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Running Safely with your Dog in the Summer

It is important to make sure your dog is safe when running during the hot summer months. Here are some tips to keep him safe and healthy!

  1. Make sure your dog is conditioned to run in warm, humid weather for the distance you are going.
  2. Always check that the road is cool enough for your dogs paws. Place your hand or bare feet on the road, if it is uncomfortable to hold them there for more than 30 seconds, then it is too hot for your dog to run on.
  3. Run early in the morning and towards evening when the weather begins to cool.
  4. Always watch your dog for signs of heat exhaustion: slowing down/lagging behind, excessive panting, tongue hanging out. If they seem to be having trouble, bring them to a cool area and call a veterinarian.
  5. Bring plenty of water for you AND your pet!

Photo on the right Oz after an 11 mile run. He got a cool spray down with the hose and a frozen healthy treat. Just mix water, blueberries, and raspberries in a small Tupperware or ice cube tray, and freeze!

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How to Decrease Your Pet’s Anxiety About Going to the Vet

Do you have pet who is a little skittish when it’s time to come visit us? Here are our top four tips to help!

  1. Practice: Pull out the cat carrier several days ahead of time, and leave it open with treats inside. Or take your dog for a few car rides leading up to the appointment day.
  2. Rewards: We use high-value treats, such as peanut butter and hot dogs, to reward your pets during their exam. It’s really important that your pet comes hungry to their vet visit.
  3. Sounds: Sounds can set the mood – even for pets! Consider playing classical music during the drive, and speak with a low calm voice. High-pitched praise can often increase anxiety.
  4. Call: If you have a really anxious pet, call us ahead of time to let us know. Pharmaceutical and nutraceutical intervention may be advised to supplement your other fear-free efforts.

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