How to Minimize Separation Anxiety When You Must Leave Your Pet

We love spending time with our dogs and if we could have it our way, they would accompany us on all adventures – vacations and business trips included! Unfortunately, not every occasion is suited to bringing our furry friends along (so you’re telling me my dog can’t be my plus one at your wedding?!) and in those instances, we turn to our next best option – pet-sitters!

While we as owners know a pet-sitting stay is a temporary arrangement, this isn’t exactly something we can communicate with our dogs. Thus, they may experience some degree of separation anxiety when they are away from us. While this stress can seem inevitable, there are a few steps you and your pet-sitter can take to minimize any anxiety. We’ve partnered with DogVacay, an online service that connects pet owners with loving pet-sitters, to share their best practices for minimizing separation anxiety.

Before You Leave:

Find the Perfect Pet-Sitter
The most important prevention tip for separation anxiety is to choose a pet-sitter based on your dog’s needs. If you have an active dog or a puppy that is happiest after they’ve spent the day running around, consider looking for someone who has a yard, can offer long walks or has other dogs that yours can play with. If your pet has experienced separation anxiety during a previous boarding or pet-sitting stay, you may want to consider a pet-sitter who offers 24/7 care or has experience dealing with this type of behavior.

Share Your Pet’s History
Has your dog stayed with a pet-sitter before, or is this their first time away from home? How long can they be left alone for? Knowing these things beforehand can help your pet-sitter anticipate the level of attention your dog will need. The more the pet-sitter knows about your dog, the better!

Share a Schedule
It’s always a good idea to share your dog’s normal schedule with your pet-sitter. Keeping your dog on a similar routine to what they experience at home can help their bodies and minds and adjust quickly to their new environment. Sharing information like what time they usually eat, when they take their walks, how many walks they take, where they sleep etc., will all be helpful information for the pet-sitter so they can make your dog as comfortable as possible.

Pack Items from Home
Bringing your dog’s bed, toys or some comfort items from home can help them establish a safe and familiar space in their pet-sitter’s home. If they are crate-trained, consider bringing their crate along with any bedding that usually goes with it. The more comfortable they are in the pet-sitter’s home, the better off they’ll be!

While You’re Away
Sometimes your dog can still experience separation anxiety despite your best efforts to prevent it. In these cases, distraction is key!

Tire the Pup Out
Some serious play time is often the best remedy. Tiring your dog out will help them expend some of their nervous energy and distract from the fact that they are away from you. If possible before you leave, take a long walk, go for a run, or spend some time playing with your dog. Encourage your pet-sitter to do the same during the stay!

Stimulate the Nose and the Mind
Have a toy or treat that your dog can focus their energy on. A Kong toy filled with something delicious is a great distraction tool – try wedging a high value treat (such as peanut butter or lunch meat) in the center of the toy so that your dog must think and work to get to it.

Play Calming Music
Sounds crazy, but it can work! Ambient sounds or relaxing instrumental music can calm an anxious dog. Share this information with your pet-sitter and have them play some mellow tunes if your dog is showing signs of anxiety when it’s time to relax for the night. There are some great “Dog Music” playlists available on YouTube, Spotify and Pandora. The radio tuned to a classical music station also works!

Remember, the key is to communicate with your pet-sitter beforehand and then ensure your dog is getting the physical and mental exercise they need while you are away. Over time, they’ll learn that your absences are only temporary and leaving will always mean that you’ll return!

 

5 Basic Commands to Teach Your Dog

We marvel at show dogs who show off their fancy tricks and agility skills, but before you can teach your pup how to jump through an obstacle course, it’s important to teach the basics. Many dog owners like to start with the following five obedience commands: sit, stay, come, lay down and leave it. These simple commands will be helpful in everyday interactions with your pup, and will serve as the foundation for training later on. Let’s get to work!

Sit
There’s more than one method for teaching your dog commands such as “sit,” so keep in mind that our suggestions are just that, and you’re free to use whatever method works best for you and your pup. The “sit” command is especially useful when combined with “stay” for times when you want your puppy to keep still.

1. Lure your pup with a tasty treat (or one of her favorite toys, if she’s not very food motivated).
2. Hold the lure above your pup’s head, causing her to lower into a sitting position. If necessary, guide her down by placing soft pressure on her rump.
3. As soon as she is sitting, say “sit!” while offering the treat and praise.
4. Repeat the practice a few times a day with breaks in between. Begin to reward her for sitting on the first attempt, and make rewards less and less frequent until she sits consistently on command.

Stay
Once your pup is an expert sitter, you can teach her “stay.” This command might be a challenge at first for a jumpy young puppy, but it’s a valuable tool in teaching obedience.

1. With treat in hand, have your pup sit in a familiar area with few distractions.
2. Hold out your palm towards her and back up, saying “stay!”
3. This next step involves a bit of luck. If she stays when you move back, then reward her with a *treat, even if the stay only lasted half a second. If she does not stay, repeat the process until she stays, and then give her the treat.
4. Repeat this exercise, moving a couple steps farther back every time your pup obeys consistently at a certain distance. Eventually, she’ll be able to stay at a distance with your voice command alone!

Come
The “come” command is helpful for retrieving your pup and making sure she doesn’t get far from your sight or grasp. It can also help keep your pup from getting into a dangerous situation, such as if an aggressive dog approaches her on the street. Practice this command indoors or in a fenced area where your pup can’t escape.

1. While holding a treat, squat down in front of your pup, making eye contact and holding your arms outstretched before her.
2. Waving the treat in front of you, say “Come!” in a happy tone of voice. (Optional: If your dog is wearing a leash or collar, give her a gentle tug towards you.)
3. This position will most likely draw your pup towards you. When she approaches you, reward her with the treat and lots of praise, then let her get back to what she was doing before.
4. Repeat until your pup responds to the command without a treat, gradually increasing the distance every few times.

Lay Down
The “lay down” or “down” command is a common choice for dog owners to utilize, but it can also be difficult to accomplish since your dog may see laying down as a sign of submissiveness. Like all new tricks, this command will take some patience.

1. With a treat enclosed in your hand, start your pup in a sitting position.
2. Let your pup sniff the treat in your fist while using your other hand to gently hold down her shoulders.
3. Keeping your hand on her shoulders, quickly lower the treat to the ground while saying “Lay down,” and your pup’s body should follow.
4. This might be an uncomfortable position for your pup at first. As soon as her belly hits the floor, reward her with the treat and offer her soothing praises while slowly stroking her back.
5. Practice this command every day until your pup gets the hang of laying down without you making direct contact with her.

Leave It

Last on our list, the “leave it” command is not only useful when training your pup, but it can also be lifesaving. For example, if your dog gets her nose into a bag of chocolates or something contaminated by bacteria, you can use the “leave it” command to make your pup drop the object, sparing her from potential harm. This command will hopefully teach your pup that if she drops whatever interesting object she finds on the ground, she’ll get something even better in return!

1. For this command, you will need a “boring” treat and a tasty, more enticing treat. Hold the boring treat tightly in your fist while having the tasty treat nearby, but out of your pup’s reach.
2. Put your fist with the hidden treat near your pup’s nose and ignore her attempts to get at the treat.
3. Once she stops trying to get the treat, praise her and offer her the tasty treat instead.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 until your puppy ignores the first treat on her own. Next time you hold the boring treat out in front of her, say “Leave it,” then pause a second before handing her the tasty treat.
5. Once you feel your pup is ready for this next step, place the boring treat on the floor while keeping your hand hovering above it, then practice the “leave it” command, quickly covering the treat before she can snatch it.
6. Keep practicing until your pup can ignore a treat that is out of your reach!

The Argument: Cats vs. Dogs

It is sometimes said that there are two types of people: cat people and dog people. Each will try to argue why their pet is best, yet a consensus is never reached. Here’s what we have to say about the two furry creatures—and by the end of this article, you can reach a conclusion on your own.

Personality
While felines have the cute and cuddly appeal of dogs, the similarities between the two domesticated animals pretty much stop there. Cats and dogs are said to have almost opposite personalities. For cats, the stereotype is that of an aloof, amusingly self-centered creature who offers limited affection. However, depending on the individual cat, felines can be very affectionate creatures who will show their love when and with whom they trust.

While cats are cool, dogs are our favorite for many reasons. Their loyalty, humanlike gazes and unconditional love towards their owners make them irresistible companions, while their playfulness and energy give them an apparent zest for life. Though personality varies between breeds and individual dogs, canines tend to express enthusiasm towards being around their owners, while a cat’s relationship with humans looks more like indifference.

Training
When it comes to housetraining, cats require almost no prompting to use the litterbox; the act is purely instinctual. Yet whether out of lack of skill or just mere disinterest, cats won’t do tricks or follow the commands that dogs do, nor can they be trained for service jobs. Despite this, cats are very intelligent and are believed to have much longer memories than dogs. Cats also have extraordinary night vision, and their speed rivals that of dogs.

A dog’s famous sense of smell not only makes for a curious creature, but a dog’s nose has also proven useful for important tasks such as detecting bombs, drugs, missing people and even cancer. Dogs will do almost anything to please their humans. On the other hand, training them comes at a cost. The time and energy needed to housetrain, socialize and teach dogs obedience, especially to become “working dogs,” is intensive.

Grooming
Because of their generally clean nature, cats do not require as much grooming as dogs. They like to lick themselves clean and typically do not need a bath unless they have gotten themselves especially dirty. Grooming and maintaining a dog’s health, on the other hand, can vary in price and time commitment, depending on the breed. However, both cats and dogs will need regular nail trims.

Aggression
Statistics on cat aggression are quite slim, though because of their retractable claws which always stay sharp, a cat’s scratch can be comparable to a dog’s bite. However, instances of aggression in both cats and dogs often result from lack of training or poor parental supervision.

Dependence
For better or for worse, cats are solitary creatures. They can thrive both indoors and outdoors, and are independent enough to survive without their owner for long periods of time, as long as there is food and water left for them. Dogs are largely pro-social creatures, which may make them more dependent on their owners, but it is just a result of their boundless love for our company.

Cats and dogs may be at opposite ends of the spectrum, but there are pros and cons for owning each. Our pet of choice is the loyal and fun-loving dog, but who says you can’t have both?

Who do you think wins the cat vs. dog contest? Comment below!

7 Pups Who Are Too Sleepy to Dog

A wise person once said, “Never wake a sleeping puppy.” We agree for a multitude of reasons, the most prominent being they’re just so stinking cute while in puppy dreamland. So adorable, in fact, that we rounded up seven pups who are too sleepy to dog.

This pup needs five more minutes.

This pup hasn’t quite nailed the art of “the puppy nap.”

Source: Imgur

This pup looks like he’s sleeping on a gray cloud of serenity.

This pup is drained from pretending to be a basket of fresh-baked muffins.

Source: FanPop

This pup is also pooped, but from pretending to be a basket of freshly picked flowers.

This pup is “dog tired” from her therapy session.

Source: dailymail

This pup wants cuddle-company.

Source: Tumblr

The Dark Truth About Smoking Around Your Dog

We all know smoking around others can be detrimental to even a non-smoker’s health, but what about smoking around your dog? You may have seen the recent anti-smoking campaign by Truth which condemns smoking around pets, warning, “Fact: Dogs and cats are twice as likely to get cancer if their owner smokes.” Cancer is the last thing we want for precious Fido, so let’s examine the consequences of this common, yet dangerous habit on our furry friends.

According to petMD, dogs living with smoking owners are more likely than dogs with non-smoking owners to develop lung cancer and respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis. In addition, the type of snout your dog has will determine how secondhand smoke affects him. Research shows that while the chemicals found in cigarettes can more readily reach the lungs of dogs with shorter noses (such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston Terriers), these toxins cause an increased risk of cancer by 250% in long-nosed dogs (such as Dachshunds and Collies) due to the chronic buildup of carcinogens in their nasal passages.

Assistant Professor Heather Wilson-Robles at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science (CVM) describes the symptoms of pets with lung diseases, including: dry hacking, progressive cough, or harder-to-manage asthma symptoms. She also notes that accidental ingestion of tobacco products can result in “gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased salivation and trembling.”

Wilson-Robles recommends that while the best way to avoid smoking-related health issues in pets is to quit smoking altogether, there are other courses of action that smokers can take to lessen the harm on their four-legged friends. First, dog-owning smokers should immediately cease smoking directly around their dog. And, after smoking, owners should wash their hands completely before handling their dog or any item with which the dog may come into contact.

Lastly, if a dog accidentally eats a disposed tobacco product, the owner should call an emergency clinic immediately as they will medically induce vomiting in the case the dog does not vomit up the product on his own. Some signs of nicotine poisoning in dogs include tremors, twitching, or seizures; drooling; constricted pupils; auditory and visual hallucinations; excitement, racing heart; and vomiting and diarrhea.

As with nicotine, marijuana can also affect dogs differently than it affects humans. Dogs can get high from second-hand marijuana smoke, ingesting edibles or by eating parts of the marijuana plant. According to caninejournal.com,  the effects of marijuana on dogs include lethargy, breathing problems, lower blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, loss of balance and incontinence. While recreational marijuana continues to gain legality in some states, marijuana is not yet approved for canine use and should not be given to your dog.

Just as important it is to look out for one’s own pet’s health, it is likewise necessary to be mindful of one’s behavior around other animals. Smokers should abide by proper smoking etiquette while in public; if you wouldn’t smoke near a child or your own dog, don’t smoke right next to someone else’s pet. Similarly, non-smoking dog-owners should take the proper precautions to avoid coming into contact with smokers and their byproducts, as well as to keep a watchful eye on what their dog digs its nose into outside of the house.

Everyone is well-aware of the dangers of smoking, but your canine’s health and well-being may just be one more reason to quit the habit. At the very least, dog-owners should be aware of the effects and take measures to keep smoking limited to a private space, away from their beloved animals.

Spring Cleaning Applies to Your Pooch, Too!

Spring is in full swing, and if you haven’t already begun your Spring Cleaning, you’ve likely gotten the itch to start. When making your “laundry list” of cleaning “to do’s,” don’t forget to add pet care to your agenda. It’s important to maintain a clean environment both for you and for your dog’s health and safety, so pay special attention to your furry child’s things, too. Pet beds, bowls, toys and clothing should all get deep cleaned on a regular basis, so if you’re a little behind on making sure Fido’s stuff is up to snuff, take this opportunity for a fresh beginning.

Crates and Carriers
Ideally, crates or carriers should be cleaned once a week since that’s where your pup is likely spending a lot of his time. Use warm soapy water or a mild disinfectant and make sure these items are fully dry before allowing your dog to use them again. Avoid bleach for its strong scent and potentially harmful chemicals. Before using any sort of cleaning product, check the ingredients list for any toxic chemicals that could be unsafe for your dog to ingest or inhale. Once the crate or carrier is clean, wipe it down weekly to maintain spotlessness.

Bedding and Covers
Choose a pet bed with removable covers that can be washed easily and regularly (again, once a week is a good schedule to follow). It’s wise to buy a backup set of covers to use in a pinch in the case of an accident in the middle of the night or when you’re too lazy to do a load of laundry right away. A small amount of unscented, mild detergent should do the trick, but consider trashing and replacing the covers at the point when no matter how much you clean, the bedding smells or looks dirty.

Dishes and Toys
Water and food bowls should also be cleaned weekly, if not more. While hand washing with liquid and hot water is sufficient, you may want to consider throwing your dog’s bowls (if not stainless steel) in the automatic dishwasher as the machine can do a more thorough job of disinfecting and sanitizing your pup’s dishware. Toys can also be laundered in the dishwasher, depending on their material. If washing soft, stuffed toys, launder them in the laundry machine in a mesh bag to keep them separate from the rest of your load.

Clothes
If your dog wears a sweater in the winter time (or regularly – no judgement here!), avoid dry cleaning due to known toxic chemicals. Most pet clothing can be washed on delicate or hand-washed with a mild, unscented detergent. To store clothing, make sure it’s fully dry before putting it away in an air tight container. Avoid humidity, which can cause mold and moth balls.

Get Organized
Use this time to go through your pet closet or pantry and check all food and treats to make sure none have hit their expiration date. In fact, inspect all of your dog supplies and equipment including shampoos, toothbrush/toothpaste, ear cleaner, flea and tick medication, as well as collars, tags and leashes. Make sure all are in good shape, and if not, replace. Go through your pup’s toy box too. You’re likely to find toys that are dirty or ripped up. Time for a refresh!

Pamper Your Pooch!
Rejuvenate your dog by treating him to a trip to the groomer. In the Winter, many dog owners let their pooches’ hair go long to keep them warm so by the time Spring rolls around, they are way overdue for a trim. Use this time to splurge on any extra services such as nail trimming, matting removal, anal glands expression, or professional tooth brushing – you owe it to your pooch to have him primped to perfection. Plus, there’s nothing better than snuggling up to a newly groomed, fresh-as-a-daisy pup!

Check Out These 7 St. Patrick’s Day Puppies!

On St. Patrick’s Day, we wear green, talk like leprechauns and bet on our luck. These 7 cute PuppySpot pups are in the St. Patty’s sprit!

Churchill the Bulldog dons a leprechaun hat today.

Dylam the Havanese is looking for a four-leaf clover.

This Pomeranian named Coco Bear wonders if she’ll find the pot of gold under a rainbow today.

Patty the Rottweiler celebrates St. Patty’s in style.

This Maltese named Giovani is waist-deep in Irish ale.

Molly the Lab won’t get caught getting pinched this year!

Lucky #7 is Ruthy the German Shepherd!

 

7 Fun Havanese Facts To Know

The Havanese, bred as companion dogs to Cuban nobility, makes the pawfect breed to snuggle up with at the end of the day. He won’t be content as just a lap dog, though; Havanese are active creatures who love to learn new tricks, and training them will be a blast!

Coming in at #10 on PuppySpot’s list of most popular dog breeds is the cute and cuddly pup.

Here are 7 Fun Havanese Facts To Know:

1. They are the only dog breed native to Cuba.

Also known as the Havana Silk Dog, the Havanese is Cuba’s only native breed. They come from the city of Havana, after which they were named. The breed suffered from near extinction until Cubans who fled from their country during the Revolution of 1959 brought just a handful of the dogs to the US.

2. Their silky coats serve a purpose.

The coat of the furry Havanese is long, silky and seemingly quite warm. In reality, the coat is not there for warmth, but for his protection. The dog’s silky fur provides a protective barrier from the sun that prevents him from overheating.

3. They are easily trained.

While small, these dogs can be trained to do some big jobs! They’re often used as service dogs for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and they have even been used to sniff out mold and termites.

4. They’re good for people with allergies.

Because Havanese have silky hair that grows continuously instead of the typical dog fur, they can be much less irritating to people with allergies to dogs. Beware, however; like all dogs, Havanese still shed and cannot be considered hypoallergenic.

5. They have a spring to their step.

Havanese have a literal spring to their step. They have a naturally bouncy gait that is unique to the breed, almost like bunnies. They even hop!

6. They’re attached to their owners.

Havanese love sticking by their owner’s side so much that they’ve earned the name “Velcro dog.” They’re true companion dogs who have offered their cuddles to humans since warming the laps of Cuban aristocracy during the 1800’s.

7. They live long lives.

Havanese are sturdy dogs with relatively low health problems for a toy breed. According to Havanese.org, they typically live from 10-15 years.

Enjoy our list of Havanese facts? Check out our available Havanese puppies today!

K9 Veterans Day: A Day to Say ‘Thank You’ to Military Dogs

On March 13, we recognize K9 Veterans Day, a day to salute the brave war dogs for their service to the U.S. military. While dogs have been accompanying humans in battle for centuries, official training centers for pooches under the Dogs for Defense did not come about until 1942. Today, there are about 2,500 working military dogs, and the day we commemorate them is also official birthday of the US Army K9 Corps. Let’s learn more about these paw-some military pups!

The Use of K9’s
Why would there be a demand for military dogs in the first place? The answer is that canines have special skills that surpass the human senses, proving very useful on the battlefield. Their superb noses can be used to sniff out explosives, locate soldiers and detect intruders. In addition to their ability to smell from far away distances, dogs can react quickly to dangers in their surroundings, and their innate strength is enough to intimidate an attacker without having to use lethal force. They are even trained to bite on command, revealing their discerning ability to stay loyal to their handlers while protecting them against their enemies. With their combination of optimal physical traits and fierce loyalty, dogs make the perfect partner for military use.

Breeds of the Military
Breeds used in the U.S. military have been narrowed largely to five breeds, the majority of which are German and Dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. In fact, 85% of military dogs come directly from Germany and the Netherlands. In result, their handlers typically learn a few commands in the language of the dog’s country of origin. These breeds in particular are chosen for their consistent qualities of intelligence, loyalty and athleticism. Other breeds are used for more specialized roles, such as Golden and Labrador Retrievers as odor detection dogs. Others include Doberman Pinschers, Farm Collies (short coat) and Giant Schnauzers, Alaskan Malamutes and American Eskimo dogs.

Canines in Combat
There are several different roles that military K9’s may serve. Sentry dogs are taught to guard supplies and warn their handlers of incoming danger. They are especially useful for nighttime operations, when soldiers are more vulnerable to covert attacks. In addition to possessing the skills of sentries, the specialty of scout or patrol dogs is to detect the presence of the enemy long before soldiers become aware. According to the United States War Dogs Association, when a scout dog senses the enemy approaching, she will stiffen her body, raise her hackles, prick her ears and hold her tail rigid. There are messenger dogs that travel silently with their handlers, mine dogs trained to detect dangerous obstacles and casualty dogs that seek out the injured and fallen. Tunnel dogs were used to explore underground in Vietnam, and explosives detection dogs are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the War on Terrorism. There’s a canine role for just about any job in the military.

After Service
After these heroic canines have finished their service, they often stay with their handlers and their handlers’ families as pets. They may also find homes with law enforcement, or get adopted into families who welcome the opportunity to give these deserving dogs a happy home where they can enjoy retirement from working military life.

Dogs are pretty amazing, huh? Use the hashtag #NationalK9VeteransDay to show your support for canine veterans today!

6 Fun Shih Tzu Facts To Know

One of America’s favorite lap dogs, the Shih Tzu is #9 on PuppySpot’s list of most popular dog breeds! Shih Tzus are known for being quiet, but playful companions who love to spend time curled up with their owners. Due to their small size, these lovable pups do well in living spaces both large and small. Want to know more about these incredibly friendly fur balls?

Here are 6 Fun Shih Tzu Facts To Know:

1. They’re an ancient breed.

While the origins of this breed are not completely certain, they are believed to have been bred thousands of years ago in Tibet to look like smaller versions of the lion, which is a sacred animal according to Buddhist belief. The name “shih tzu” actually means “lion dog” in Chinese!

2. They’re also known as the “chrysanthemum-faced dog.”

A dog nicknamed after a flower? You bet! Because of the way the dog’s fur grows outward from the middle of its face, Shih Tzus resemble the chrysanthemum flower.

3. They were once guard dogs.

Believe it or not, Shih Tzus were once used for more than just warming laps. Tibetan Monks regarded the dogs as holy, even trusting them with the task of guarding their temples. However, don’t expect the Shih Tzu to guard your house from an intruder. She’ll happily greet strangers with a gentle smile and wagging tail.

4. All of today’s Shih Tzus come from just 14 dogs.

While they were at one time very popular pets in China, Shih Tzus faced a rough patch under communist rule. The breed nearly died out during the 20th century before a few were brought to England in 1930. Their popularity took off, and those that exist today can be traced back to 14 of the serendipitous English import from China.

5. Celebrities love them.

Big names in fame such as Beyoncé, Mariah Carey and Bill Gates are a few on the list of proud celebrity Shih Tzu owners. The Dalai Lama also owns a Shih Tzu, proving the breed’s popularity among Tibetan Buddhists.

6. They are great family dogs.

According to Dogtime.com, Shih Tzu’s are great family pets and play well with children. They typically get along with other household pets as well.

Enjoy our list of Shih Tzu facts? Check out our list of adorable Shih Tzu puppies today!

Brachycephalic Dogs: The Truth About Those Adorable, Pushed-In Little Noses

The first thing you probably notice when you see a pug, boxer, or bulldog is that cute, wrinkly, smooshed-in face (Who can resist those velvety folds?). But underneath those wrinkles is a medical condition to be aware of, which can negatively impact a dog’s quality of life. If you have a dog or are thinking about getting a dog with a “snub nose,” here’s what you need to know in order to keep him as comfortable and healthy as possible.

Breeds with flat noses have a condition called “brachycephalic syndrome.” The term brachycephalic refers to a broad, short skull shape that gives certain breeds a distinct snub-nosed appearance. While it’s typically easy to spot a brachycephalic dog based on physical appearance, there are varying degrees of severity. Here is a complete list of brachycephalic breeds:

Because Brachycephalic dogs have a structural narrowing at the nostrils, the back of the throat, and in the windpipe, most dogs with the condition prefer to breathe through their mouths due to the increased airway resistance in their noses. Mildly affected dogs will breathe noisily, snort when excited and snore while sleeping. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, your pup may become distressed, especially after exercise or in warmer temperatures. On very hot days, brachycephalic dogs run a high risk of heat stroke because of their difficulty regulating body temperature.

In addition to breathing loudly, snorting, and snoring, there are a few other signs of distress to watch out for, including retching or gagging, especially while swallowing, which indicates an elongated soft palate and is a sign of trouble. Dogs with elongated soft palates often prefer to sleep on their backs because it makes breathing easier. Watch out for blue gums, blue tongue or fainting after exercise; in extreme cases, this can indicate lack of oxygen in your pup’s blood. Take a look at your dog’s nostrils, too – do they look normal, or do they appear to be pinched closed? Nostrils that are closed too far to allow for proper air flow are a part of the brachycephalic syndrome, and are called “stenotic nares.” While this condition is present from birth, it may not affect your dog until later in life, so even if your dog does not currently show symptoms, it’s important to continue to monitor your brachycephalic dog closely.

Treatment Options

  • Check in with your vet regularly and keep tabs on the condition. Not all dogs require surgery to be comfortable, but many benefit from corrective procedures if preventative measures are not enough to provide your pup relief.
  • Learn what’s normal for your pooch. Once you figure out which snorts and snores are status quo, you’ll know immediately when you hear troubling breathing sounds or a new type of snorting that it’s time to visit your vet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight for your pup. Obesity can make breathing problems worse.
  • Always regulate your dog’s temperature and exercise, especially during the summer months. As mentioned, hot and humid weather increases a brachycephalic dog’s risk of heat stroke, so make sure he stays cool.
  •  Consider using a harness instead of a collar. A collar can pull on your dog’s larynx, making breathing even more difficult.
  • Sometimes, surgery is necessary to allow your dog to breathe normally and improve his quality of life. The soft palate can be surgically trimmed shorter, stenotic nares can be widened, and both are simple, minimally invasive procedures.
  •  Lastly, consider spaying or neutering. Since this condition is inherited, it’s a good idea to avoid breeding a dog that suffers from severe brachycephalic syndrome. Use your vet as a resource, stay informed on new treatment options and do your part to keep your wrinkly-faced pooch safe.

Pro Packing Tips for Your Pup’s Stay With a Sitter

Trip booked? – Check
Pet-sitter booked? – Check
Ready to take that vacation? – Check, check and check!

As excited as you are to take some days for yourself, leaving your furry friend with a pet-sitter can seem slightly stressful. But not to worry, this stress can be avoided with a little preparation and a well-packed bag. We’ve asked our friends at DogVacay.com, an online service that connects pet owners with loving pet-sitters, to share their best packing tips with us for the perfect pet vacation. Here is a list of essentials for a successful and stress-free stay for your pup while you are away.

An Approximate Schedule
In a dog’s mind there is comfort with familiarity and a sudden change in routine can throw them off. Sharing your pup’s normal schedule with your sitter (i.e. what time they usually eat, drink, take walks, etc) can help them acclimate quickly to their new environment.

Food and Treats
Be sure to pack enough food and treats for the length of the stay. It’s always best if they are eating the same food and treats that they enjoy at home to avoid any tummy aches. Don’t forget any medication or supplements they normally take!

Disposable Bags

Since your pup will be eating, they will also be pooping. If your pup normally poops on leash it’s always a nice gesture to bring along some disposable bags for your sitter to pick up after him. A healthy poop is a happy dog!

Leash and Harness
There’s nothing more exciting for a pup than a nice, long walk in a new environment- all the smells to sniff and sights to see! Make sure you pack the leash and harness they normally use so that they can explore with confidence.

Bedding
Where does your pup normally sleep? In a crate? A dog bed? On the floor? Don’t forget to pack their favorite bedding so that everyone can have a good night’s rest. If they don’t have a preference that’s ok too – just communicate this with their sitter.

Toys or Comfort Items from Home
Last but not least, having a little bit of home to take with your pup can help ease any separation anxiety they may experience. A toy, blanket or just something that smells like home can be a source of comfort for any initial loneliness.

Remember- comfort and familiarity are key. So if there’s something that your pup can’t live without when he’s at home be sure to bring it along on his stay. Your (and your pup’s) vacation will fly by and you will be reunited before you know it – both well rested!

How to Plan the “Pawfect Birthday Pawty” for Your Pooch

Let’s face it: Hosting a puppy birthday bash is as much for your pup as it is for you and your guests (both pooch and human) to enjoy. While it may seem like a frivolous idea, a pup b-day party is a great reason to get a group of like-minded dog lovers and their furry children together and snap some adorable photos that will last a lifetime. Not only is a pup party a great excuse to get outside and have some fun, but it’s also a wonderful way to socialize your dog with other pooches.

If you don’t know your pet’s exact date of birth, it is always a great idea to use the day your dog arrived home. If that date is too difficult to remember, pick an approximate birthdate, mark it on the calendar and “call it a day.” Your sweet dog won’t know the difference! Now let’s get to the good stuff…here are some tips for hosting a fun, memorable puppy party:

1. Scout the Right Location For Your Needs
Picking the perfect venue comes down to a couple simple questions: How many people and dogs do you plan to invite? Are the dogs potty trained? It’s best to choose a place where your dogs have plenty of room to play freely and interact with one another. While the logical choice seems to be an outdoor space, it’s not impossible to host an indoor party. Consider these pros and cons when making a decision.

  • Outside venues provide pups fresh air and room to run. A pet-friendly backyard is a fantastic option as the dogs will be contained and safe and the only rules to follow are your own. If you don’t have a backyard, other potential outdoor spaces include dog parks or outdoor play areas at doggy daycare facilities or centers. When checking out these venues, make sure you are able to block off a private section for you and your guests. Also, assess what items you’ll have to bring. For example, if there aren’t existing picnic tables, you may want to bring a table and chairs for your human guests. Lastly, be sure to inquire about fees associated with reserving the space.
  • As long as you’re comfortable with lots of dogs and people in your home, a house party can be a great, safe choice for a pup party. You know the setting including which areas are perfect for playing and which areas are completely off-limits. Other indoor possibilities include event spaces at dog hotels or daycare centers, or even a “luxe party spa package” at a doggie day spa. Even if you decide to hold your party predominantly indoors, make sure there is an easily accessible outdoor area for potty breaks. If hosting outside the home, you should also bring plenty of cleaning supplies in the likely event of accidents occurring inside.

2. Remember, It’s Not a Birthday Without Cake
A pooch party is a delicious opportunity to watch your slobbery guests drool over some yummy dessert. This is a fun, tasty part of the event that all your guests – human or dog – will enjoy, not to mention that cake makes for a prime photo opportunity. Don’t want to spend money on a large cake? Opt for mini cupcakes or even go DIY with a dog-friendly recipe, like this one.

3. Don’t Stop at Cake: Provide Plenty of Refreshments and Treats
Make sure to address all of the needed accouterments specific to pups, such as providing plenty of dog bowls filled with fresh water and a “treats station,” with a variety of pup-friendly snacks accounting for potential allergies or food restrictions. For example, you may want to provide chicken treats for the hearty eaters, as well as vegetarian options such as sweet potato or peanut butter for pups that are allergic to chicken. With a multitude of choices, dog owners will stay worry-free and rest assured that their companion will be fed, safe and happy.

4. Decorate To Your Heart’s (and Budget’s) Content
Dog birthday parties are a great excuse to get your creative, crafty juices flowing. Depending on your budget, the scope of décor will vary; however, prioritizing table accessories is a good place to start. A unique and pulled-together table is always an eye-catching centerpiece of the party where guests can gather as well as serve as a nice reminder of what you’re celebrating. A banner of photos capturing your dog’s growth and experiences over the years is a cute idea. Or, consider a basket of favorite dog toys that guests can later take home as favors. Another décor tip: Inexpensive balloons can be easily turned into doggy faces by drawing features, and attaching some floppy ears. Don’t have construction paper for the ears? Not to worry! Brown paper bags should do the trick!

  • Place settings and/or favors for your four legged guests should be special. Leaving a toy at each dog’s setting is a nice idea. Don’t want to spend money on toys? Not to worry! Instead, repurpose those water bottles you are using to fill the water bowls. Buy some fabric or fun colored socks from your local dollar store or drug store. Stuff that empty water bottle in the sock and tie it up tight. The end result is sure to be a real crowd pleaser!
  • “Doggy Bags” are also a great party favor to leave on the table as well. Stuff a paper bag with a couple treats, tennis ball, and some plastic potty bags. Fold the top, draw a face on the front, write the furry guest’s name below the face and attach some ears.
  •  Is your party not looking as festive or colorful as you had imagined? Grab some bright colored chalk and show your guests the way by drawing some large paw prints on surrounding sidewalks and streets or your front door and driveway.

Most importantly, always remember that the best birthday gift you can give to your dog is love and attention! Your companion will be thrilled no matter how pretty the table or cake looks and will love you that much more for dedicating an entire day to him!

Happy celebrating!