7 Things You Didn’t Know About the Boxer

Built like athletes, Boxers are a sporty dog breed that is both easily-trained and friendly with others. For all Boxers have to offer, they’ve made it onto our list of most popular dog breeds at #11! Learn more about these popular family dogs with our 7 things you need to know about Boxers!

1. They’ve got a youthful spirit.
While some dogs are considered mature at one year old, others, like the Boxer, maintain their endearing puppy-like nature for a longer period. Because Boxers are not considered fully mature until the age of three, these playful and energetic pups are sometimes called the “Peter Pan” of dog breeds, with one of the longest puppyhoods of all dogs.

2. They got their name for a reason.

Boxers got their name because of their funny poses. They have a tendency to stand on their hind legs and “box” with their front paws in play. They’re real athletes!

3. They were one of the first German police dogs.

Bred for their high intelligence and ability to follow orders, it’s no wonder why the Boxer was one of Germany’s first dogs to be used in police training. They went on to serve as military dogs during WWI.

4. They’re related to another popular pup.

The Boxer is the cousin to nearly all Bulldog-type breeds. These dogs descend from the ancient Molosser line of dog breeds.

5. They have long tongues!

Boxers tend to have longer tongues than other dog breeds. The world record for the “Longest Tongue on a Dog” went to a Boxer named Brandy, whose licker was a full 17 inches long!

6. They have a distinctive look.
The Boxer’s square jaw is called an “undershot,” named for how the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper and curves slightly upward. This unique dental feature gives Boxers their distinctive smiles!

7. They’re multitalented.

While these dogs were bred to be hunters, Boxers also excel in the show ring and other areas. While originally a member of the Working dog group, in 2012 the AKC changed its rules to allow Boxers eligibility for herding titles. They also do well in agility, obedience and tracking.

Which of these facts were surprising to you? Comment below and share with us! 

Dog Walking Etiquette

Have you ever considered there is a certain way you, as a pup parent, should behave when walking your furry child? Often, a heavy focus is placed on the way a pooch behaves (or should behave when properly trained). However, with something like dog-walking which requires two to tango, there is a certain etiquette that the puppy parent should follow as well. Here’s a helpful list of do’s and don’ts to help you master dog-walking, prevent potential problems with other dogs and people you encounter on your walks, and make it an overall enjoyable experience for both you and your pup!

DO…

Always make sure you have bags with you to pick up after your dog. It’s impolite to leave your dog’s waste somewhere that others might step in it, not to mention it’s unsightly and doesn’t exactly smell pleasant! Always pick up after your dog and dispose of his poop in a public trash can or your own. Every time.

  • Use a leash. Even if you believe your dog will listen to you and immediately return to your side when you call, you can’t always predict what you might encounter on your walks. A squirrel, cat or another dog might catch your dog’s attention and distract him from your commands, a car could come around the corner suddenly, or your dog might startle someone else as he bounds up to greet them. Keep your dog safely by your side so you can control his movements, and potentially remove him from any dangers that come his way.
  • Respect other pedestrians. And remember, not everyone loves your dog as much as you do! Although you might be used to certain behaviors of your pooch at home, everyone raises their puppies differently, and may not approve of your dog’s behavior. For example, even if you allow jumping up at home, others you encounter may not want your dog jumping on them. Even the biggest dog lover may take issue with your pup charging, jumping or slobbering all over them. The strangers you encounter probably have no idea what your dog is like, so respect them by keeping your pup on a close leash.
  • Change course when necessary. Keep an eye on other dog walkers and assess if they have control of their dogs. Is that dog walking politely beside his owner, or is he dragging his owner down the street, ignoring all commands? Or, do you see another potential source of trouble up ahead? Sometimes you might see something you’d rather avoid. Use your best judgment and remove yourself and your dog from a potentially dangerous situation when you feel it’s necessary by crossing the street or making a turn. It’s also a good idea to explain yourself if you get close enough to another person you’re trying to avoid. Simply smile and say “He’s jumpy with other dogs,” or, “She gets loud when she meets new pups.” With open communication, the other party should understand kindly.

DON’T…

  •  Escalate a situation if one arises. Dogs will naturally sense your mood and anxiety level, so stay calm and lead by example. If an encounter with another person or dog starts to go south, the best idea is to pull your dog away and walk in the opposite direction. Getting involved in a heated argument with someone will only serve to rile up your dog and make things worse.
  • Be careless when holding your dog’s leash. Simply having your dog on a leash isn’t always enough; controlling the leash and using it to lead the way can prove to be crucial. Take a break from texting or being glued to your phone as awareness of your surroundings, including people, dogs, cars and anything else in your vicinity is paramount to you and your dog’s safety. The last thing you want is for your dog to wrap his leash around someone’s legs, or for him to get tangled up with another dog’s leash (especially if that other dog isn’t very keen on sharing his personal space). Keep your dog’s leash short when in a busy area to give you more control and to keep him out of trouble.
  • Punish your dog. Stay in control of your dog and you likely won’t have to discipline him. Even when you are changing course or preventing your dog from doing something wrong, a simple firm grip on the leash will do. By staying calm with a firm tone, you will communicate successfully with your dog and lead him in another direction.

Remember, being consistent is the best way to master any training-required skill, including dog walking. Start leash training your dog at a young age so that they have these skills down pat by the time they are ready to go on adventures with you! Following these tips will ensure that you and your pooch stay safe and have fun.

5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day with Your Dog

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd. It’s a great time to take your dog for a hike in nature and consider the ways that you as an individual and as a dog-owner can help the environment. Here are a few recommendations from PuppySpot.

1. Follow the 3 “R’s.”

  • Reduce: You can reduce the waste that comes with owning a dog by choosing toys and products that come with less packaging. Opt for products that require little to no wrapping, like stuffed toys, or buying larger bags of food instead of individual servings.
  • Recycle: Did you know that many old plastic dog toys are recyclable? Once Fido is done with them, you can take them to your local recycling center or put them in your home recycling bin. You can also find new toys made from recycled materials from many pet retailers.
  • Reuse: Do you have dog toys or beds that your pup never took a shine to? Try donating them to a local shelter – you can feel good while doing good.

2. Take to the trails.
What better way to enjoy the natural wonders around you than going to the great outdoors? Try a new hiking trail or take a walk in the park where your pooch can discover new sights and smells. Be sure to stop and smell the roses this Earth Day!

3. Pick up after your pup.
Doggy doo-doo isn’t just a nuisance to your neighbors; it can also be harmful to the environment. Dog feces contains millions of bacteria and can sometimes harbor harmful parasites such as giardia and salmonella, which find their way into our waterways. Prevent the spread of disease by picking up after your pup. Bonus points if you use biodegradable doggy bags like these. Better yet, reduce your plastic bag consumption completely by using a pooper scooper or similar non-disposable tool.

4. Modify Fido’s diet.
Both your pup and the planet can benefit from a change to their diet. Just like humans, dogs need a varied diet and can usually benefit from getting more veggies. By feeding your pup a mostly plant-based diet, you can help decrease emissions from resource-intensive meat processing and increase their consumption of vitamins and fiber at the same time. You should always consult your veterinarian when making changes to your dog’s diet.

5. Plant a dog-friendly garden.
To many, Earth Day is synonymous with tree planting. Try planting a tree or one of these other dog-friendly plants in your yard. Increasing the greenery in your yard helps you, your pup, and the planet thrive.

We hope that you and your pup use our above tips to have a fun and fulfilling Earth Day. And remember, the choices you make affect the planet every day, not just on Earth Day!

6 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bulldog

Bulldogs are a fan-favorite for many reasons. Their wrinkly faces, bodily folds and endearing personalities continue to charm Americans, landing them the #16 spot on PuppySpot’s list of most popular dog breeds! Learn more about the adorable Bulldog with these 6 need-to-know facts!

1. They have a not-so-proud history.
The Bulldog’s name comes from its history in bullbaiting, a popular sport in 19th century England which was later banned under the Cruelty of Animal Act of 1835.

2. They have easy-to-care-for coats.
Because of their short hair, grooming Bulldogs is fairly easy. In fact, they only need to be bathed once or twice a year!

3. They have a little in common with a British Prime Minister.

Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was nicknamed the “British Bulldog” because of his looks and demeanor. He was not an owner of the dog, however.

4. They’re popular mascots.

While the Bulldog became a mascot for the U.S. military during the 60’s, they’re also a popular choice for about 40 universities across the country. While gentle-natured pets, the intimidating features they were originally bred for give a threatening impression of the sports teams they represent.

5. They run Los Angeles.
Bulldogs are a popular breed choice for the rich and famous. Some well-known celebrity Bulldog owners include Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon, David Beckham, Martha Stewart and Zac Efron.

6. They can be surprisingly sporty.
Bulldogs are known for being couch potatoes, but they can be trained to ride skateboards quite well! One Bulldog named Otto broke the Guinness World Record for “Longest Human Tunnel Traveled Through by a Skateboarding Dog” in 2015 by skating under the legs of 30 people in Lima, Peru.

Are you a Bulldog fan? Tell us why you love the amusing animals in the comments section, below!

The Link Between Animal Cruelty and Violence Against Humans

The public often condemns animal abuse and domestic abuse as separate issues, but there is evidence clearly linking the two. Animal Cruelty/Human Violence Awareness Week, which occurs during the third week of April, is an observance designed to help communities collectively stop violence and help the victims of abuse, both human and animal.

The Shocking Link
Just as violence against humans is a horrendous act, so is taking advantage of an innocent dog or another animal who cannot fight back. The way humans treat animals is often a testament to how they treat other humans. In fact, there are statistics that show a clear connection between animal and human abuse. According to statistics collected by North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty, “Up to 75 percent of domestic violence victims report that their partners threatened or killed family pets.” The fact that the majority of homes of domestic abuse also report abuse towards animals is astonishing, leading to this next statistic: “Between 18 percent and 48 percent of battered women delay leaving abusive situations out of fear for the safety of their animals.” Oftentimes in abusive relationships, the abuser will harm or threaten to harm the victim’s pet as an act of control over the victim. Clearly then, there is a horrifying association between domestic abuse and animal cruelty, enough so that animal abuse accounts for a significant number of cases in which victims of abuse put their lives in danger to protect their beloved pets. Further, “Children exposed to domestic violence are three times more likely to be cruel to animals than children living in nonviolent households.” Violence promotes violence, whether it’s toward an animal or human being.

Signs of Abuse
There are various signs that can indicate physical or mental abuse in humans or animals. Looking out for these signs can help end the abuse and prevent future abuse from occurring.

WebMD lists some warning signs that someone you know may be a victim of domestic abuse. These include:
• Bruises such as black eyes or red or purple marks on the neck, or injuries such as sprained wrists.
• Being isolated from friends, coworkers and relatives.
• Having limited money or autonomy.
• Showing symptoms of depression such as sadness or hopelessness, or loss of interest.

Similarly, the Animal Rescue League of Boston lists signs of animal cruelty that can indicate mistreatment, neglect, or abuse:
• Persistent howling or barking for a sustained period of time.
• Wounds, unusual scars, hair loss or signs of malnourishment.
• Caged animals with minimal access to clean living areas or regular interaction with people.

How to Help
There are little things you can do to provide hope for our two- and four-legged victims of abuse. The reason for persisting abuse is often the fact that the abuse goes unreported. If you suspect signs of abuse, contact your local authorities or call an abuse hotline. Help those in abusive domestic relationships form an escape plan that protects both them and their pets. The Animal Legal Defense Fund provides additional resources for understanding and avoiding abuse, whether you’re the victim or just a bystander. Furthermore, you can thwart animal cruelty towards dogs by refusing to support puppy mills, which profit from the irresponsible breeding of puppies. Through your awareness and compassionate support, you can help save the life of an innocent animal or human being.

These 10 PuppySpot Puppies Would Like to Wish You a Happy Easter

Easter Sunday is a time for family to get together, have egg hunts and celebrate rebirth in spring. And when puppies get involved, it makes the holiday all the more enjoyable! Check out these 10 fun and festive PuppySpot puppies celebrating Easter!

This Havanese pup named Hudson looks picture-pawfect in a festive egg frame.

Naomi the Frenchie is getting comfortable in the Easter Bunny’s nest.

Laura the Lhasa Apso has rounded up her loot from the egg hunt!

This Bichon Frise named Brody has a gift basket to share with you.

This Cavalier pup named Buddy poses adorably beside his own basket of Easter eggs.

This German Shepherd pup named Rilie walks with a bunny on each arm.

Tucker the Cockapoo stands out from his pastel surroundings.

Peter the Pug has lots of Easter toys to play with (and doesn’t want to share).

This Mini Pinscher pup named Anna loves this blooming time of year.

Last but not least, this Havanese pup named Maggie wants to wish you a Happy Easter!

SERIES: When The Bite’s Bigger Than The Bark: Aggression in Dogs Part 3

Dogs are complicated animals with distinct personalities and therefore temperaments based on their individual genetic makeup, environmental factors and breed history. Just like humans, dogs have faults and behaviors that need correcting. And one of those common issues is aggression. While we’ve established in Part One of this series that training an aggressive dog takes time, patience and consistency, before choosing and committing to a training plan, the first step is identifying the various types of aggression and the respective motives and triggers for each. In this final part to our special series, we hold a microscope to four additional classifications of aggression.

Redirected Aggression

Consider this situation: In the midst of a scuffle between two dogs, one of the owners jumps into the middle attempting to stop the fight. Instead, the dog suddenly turns and bites the owner. This scenario describes a dog redirecting aggression towards an interfering party. Or, if two dogs are standing behind a fence together and one becomes aroused by something or someone on the other side of the fence, he may have no other way to take out his aggression than by turning to his furry companion and biting him.

Training approach: The remedy for redirected aggression is often to remove the dog from volatile situations which may trigger these feelings. For example, in the fence scenario, a responsible owner should not allow the dog to be outside unsupervised. Reward-based obedience training is also always a good idea.

Pain-Elicited Aggression

When a dog is in pain, a common reaction is aggression. Therefore, it’s crucial to handle an injured dog with care or to defer to a professional in order to prevent a pain-related attack. Even the most gentle, friendly dogs can react aggressively when they feel pain. And remember, while serious injuries are obviously quite painful, a dog can also react aggressively from something as minor as a pinched neck from a collar, stepping on a sharp object or getting stung by a bee.

Training approach: This particular case of aggression may be the easiest to treat and remedy, simply by making sure your pup receives proper veterinary attention. By getting to the root of the pain, once you obtain a diagnosis and medically treat the problem, your pup’s pain-related aggression may simply go away.

Sex-Related Aggression

Dogs who are not neutered or spayed will demonstrate aggression in order to attract the attention of the opposite sex dog for breeding purposes. Fighting can also occur between two male dogs (even if no female dogs are present) in an effort to compete for female attention. In the wild, the strongest dogs are the first to gain access to the female they’re vying for – so this is a natural, evolutionary practice. While it’s possible for females to also fight amongst each other as well, it’s less common. If a dog is fixed later in life, he may still demonstrate aggressive tendencies until the sexual urges wear off.

Training approach: Dog-on-dog aggression is typically remedied with behavior modification programs designed to de-sensitize and counter-condition. Basic dog training commands such as “stay” and “sit” will be reinforced to encourage self-control. After all, a dog who is passively standing still in one position cannot act out on aggressive tendencies.

Predatory Aggression

Classic predatory behavior includes chasing after fast-moving prey. And oftentimes, domesticated pups will chase other pets, wildlife (such as rabbits or squirrels), or even running people, bikers or skaters. Sometimes, a dog will bite his “prey” if they manage to catch the object of desire. While predatory aggression towards people or even human babies is possible, it is rare in pet dogs. That said, this type of aggression can be especially worrisome as there is often no warning before the attack.

Training approach: Those most effective treatment for predatory aggression will be intensive obedience training with a focus on the recall and “and down” commands. If a dog is chasing something, the owner must demonstrate control to retrieve the object. Developing control is a process, but can be practiced with repetitive fetch play and exercises.

In conclusion, while aggressive behavior in canines can be difficult to break, positive change is certainly possible and the behavior should be addressed immediately for optimal results. Through regimented training and therapy, aggressive dogs can recover to become the sweet and loving furry friends they’re meant to be.

SERIES: When The Bite’s Bigger Than The Bark: Aggression in Dogs Part 2

Dog aggression is a serious problem that can cause high anxiety, anger and heartbreak for owners, ultimately result in dangerous injuries (for both dogs and humans) and end in potentially fatal consequences, not to mention lead to cases of homeless and abandoned dogs. To better equip you with information and tools for how to rehabilitate an aggressive dog, in the second part of our three part series, we explore four additional types of aggression, the respective motives and recommended training approaches.

Fearful Aggression

You may have heard the saying “fight or flight” in relation to an evolutionary reaction to fear. In relation to dogs, while flight response is the most common reaction to fear; in situations where dogs cannot run away (on a leash, in close quarters in a home), they will switch to a fight response. Snapping, biting, and lunging are all symptoms of fear in this case, and show themselves as the ultimate defense mechanisms when unable to escape. Dissimilar to other forms of aggression, when a dog is afraid, signs may show (such as cowering in a corner or retreating before attack), but often do not. Common in both puppies and adult dogs, this behavior affects males and females equally.

Training approach: Training sessions will focus on building feelings of confidence and security. Methods could include coaxing the dog to take food from strangers, or socializing the dog within a controlled environment. The most timid dogs will require both obedience training and heavy socialization.

Defensive Aggression

Not unlike fear-related aggression, defensively aggressive dogs are afraid, but instead of retreating or showing timid behavior prior to attack, they simply go on the offense and take the first strike on the victim, whether that shows itself by charging, biting, barking or growling. Defensive aggression is more common in adult dogs than puppies as this attack strategy requires more confidence built over time.

Training approach: Defensive aggressive dogs would benefit strongly from heavy socialization training. The key is for the owner to continuously provide positive experiences to thereby encourage positive associations with other dogs.

Social Aggression

Socially aggressive dogs are typically happy-go-lucky and friendly, until someone in their “pack,” be it a human family member, or another dog, oversteps their boundaries, thereby becoming a threat. These dogs consider themselves high in the hierarchal order and want to remind everyone else that they are for lack of better words, “king of the castle.” Also often described as “dominance aggression,” socially aggressive dogs may be triggered by simple social interactions such as grooming, unwanted displays of affection, lifting or picking up the dog or even entering a doorway at the same time as the dog.

Training approach: A dominant dog requires not only obedience training, but also overarching control by his owner. An animal behaviorist would likely recommend that the owner start controlling every aspect of the dog’s life and establishing strict and consistent ground rules. Prime examples include breaking the habit of the dog sleeping in bed with the owner, not allowing the dog to interact with other dogs at the park, or keeping a leash on the dog at all times if worried about them charging ahead without permission.

Frustration-Elicited Aggression

Dogs who become frustrated often can’t contain their emotions and lash out with aggression. Feelings of frustration might arise when a dog is excited by an object which then gets taken away or when the dog is restrained with a leash when he wants to run free or approach something or someone at his own pace. This type of aggression occurs in both puppies and adult dogs and doesn’t favor one gender over the other.

Training approach: Frustrated dogs may benefit from a “reactive socialization class,” where the dog is introduced to other dogs in a highly supervised setting. Through systematic interaction, the dog will be exposed to friendly, confident adult dogs under the watchful eye of a trainer. A focus will also be placed on redirecting the dog’s focus onto something that doesn’t elicit frustration, such as a game of fetch or obedience training with treat rewards.

To read about additional types of dog aggression, go to Part Three of our three-part series.

SERIES: When The Bite’s Bigger Than The Bark: Aggression in Dogs Part 1

Aggression in dogs is a scary, yet complex behavioral pattern, but is common and treatable with an intensive training plan. It’s important to accept at the onset of dog ownership that most dogs will exhibit some form of aggression at some point, typically when guarding their territories or protecting themselves or their puppies. Dogs also often demonstrate aggression to keep the peace or exchange social interaction with other dogs and humans. Thus, if you watch for the signs early on and address them, aggression issues can be overcome.

Visible signs of aggression include but are not limited to a threatening bark, charging forward at another person or dog, “muzzle punching” also known as a punch with the dog’s snout, growling, showing teeth, snapping, nipping, biting, snarling or mouthing. These behaviors could occur simultaneously, individually or in sequence. The intensity of the behavior does not necessarily define aggression. For example, even a quick nip that leaves no mark is still a form of aggressive conduct that needs immediate attention.

Before beginning a tailored training program to combat your dog’s specific type of aggression, it’s crucial to understand the root of why it’s happening, motives and signs associated with your dog’s aggression classification. By reviewing the breakdown below, you’ll come to learn how to address each type individually.

Territorial Aggression-What is it?: This type of aggression is a result of the desire to protect an area from intruders. If another dog or animal encroaches on a territorial dog’s turf, he will attack or bite in retaliation. Dogs who charge human guests or visitors in the home would also be classified as territorial aggressors. Territorial aggression is mostly experienced by adult dogs or adolescent dogs from 1-3 years of age, rather than puppies.

Training approach: The appropriate training plan should focus on establishing the owner as the “pack leader” in order to teach the dog where their territory is. The owner will then set ground rules of engagement such as that the backyard is not the dog’s territory, but rather a shared family space.

Protective Aggression: Some dogs show aggressive tendencies when they believe one of their own puppies, their owner or someone they love is in danger. Protective aggression is likely to show when the so-called “victim” is particularly vulnerable, such as a new baby brought into the home. If a dog believes a stranger is a threat to the newborn baby’s safety for example, he may attack. This is another type of aggression normally displayed by adult or maturing dogs. Puppies rarely become protective aggressors.

Training approach: Dogs who suffer from protective aggression would benefit from socialization training (controlled exposure to other dogs and humans) as well as desensitization, which essentially is introducing the aggression triggers in extremely small, controlled doses so as to manage the dog’s reaction.

Possessive Aggression: Possessive aggressive dogs demonstrate aggression when a human or other dog is in control of something highly desirable, or when fiercely guarding their own possessions such as food or toys. Protecting territory and possessions is a natural, instinctual behavior that was necessary for survival in the wild; however it’s a behavior that must be broken in domestic animals. Resource guarding is especially common in puppies, who recently had to compete with litter-mates for food.

Training approach: Teaching the dog to tolerate the presence of people and other animals around his possessions is key. Sample techniques may include trading good things for better things, removing potential triggers such as a favorite toy or implementing an earned rewards program, where the dog doesn’t receive any food or treats until good behavior is shown.

To learn about the other types of dog aggression, read Part Two of our dedicated series.

Human Health Benefits Related to Dog Ownership

You’ve probably heard about all the emotional benefits that come along with having a furry friend – joy, love, companionship, loyalty, compassion. But, what about the physical health benefits? Bet you didn’t know that caring for a dog’s well-being can simultaneously contribute in a positive way to your own well-being. From combating feelings of loneliness to maintaining overall heart health, canines offer some surprising human health benefits worth knowing.

In Sickness and In Health: Dogs Help Build Immunity
In great news for families who are expecting, or have young children, a recent study shows that kids who are introduced to animals early in life have lower chances of developing allergies and tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.

A Pawfect Boost for Loneliness & Depression
Feeling lonesome or down in the dumps? A dog is a wonderful way to help fight isolation or pick you up when you’re feeling sad. In addition to the built-in company and unconditional love a dog brings, activities such as walking the neighborhood or taking your pooch to a dog park encourage socialization with other dog owners. Be prepared to discuss your dog’s breed, background, age and story behind how he got his name. Your four-legged friend is the ultimate ice breaker! Plus, caring for an animal provides a great sense of purpose, which can be crucial for feelings of anxiety or hopelessness.

Must Heart Dogs
Besides helping with matters of the heart, dogs can also positively affect cardiac health. Studies have shown that pet owners have decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels — all of which can minimize the risk of having a heart attack.

A Pawsome Way to Stay Fit
According to a recent study, dog owners were more likely to do mild to moderate physical activity during the week than non-dog owners. Dog owners walked an average of 300 minutes per week compared to their counterpart’s average of 168 minutes per week, which means dog owners are more likely to get the recommended 30-minute minimum of exercise a day. If you take the reins (i.e., leash), rather than pass off walking duty to someone else, you’ll regularly get to work on your fitness and stamina. Plus, who doesn’t like to have a workout buddy?

Puppertunity to Help Combat ADHD
Dogs have a reputation for helping children and adults feel calm and at ease, which is evident during therapy dog sessions. Thus, dogs can be healing for children who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. On another note, dogs can also help ADHD-sufferers with releasing extra energy by providing the child with a pal to run around and play with.

Puplifting Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Dogs are a great distraction and therefore help people who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis move around and play more than they normally would, allowing victims to forget the discomfort, even if only for a few minutes.

Trained Service Dogs Warn Before It’s Too Late
For certain diseases, such as diabetes, service dogs can not only be helpful, but rather; save lives. Sufferers of diabetes may not always be able to tell when their blood sugar level is too high or too low.

Trained service dogs have been proven to successfully monitor hypoglycemia warnings through odor cues. Medical detection dogs such as these can lead to fewer 911 calls, less unconscious incidents and greater patient independence. Similarly, some medical detection dogs have been known to even detect cancer in as little as three hours. Scientific studies are currently in progress determining exactly how accurate medical detection dogs can be in relation to discovering cancers. Today, it’s a research area that will continue to be explored and investigated for commercial use.

A Guide to Fido’s First Aid Kit: What’s in Your Doggy Bag?

In celebration of First Aid Kit Awareness, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of items to include in your dog’s emergency medical kit. Whether you buy one ready-made, or put it together yourself, it’s imperative to have this equipment in an airtight container that’s easily accessible in a place you won’t forget.

Important Contact Information and Paperwork

Be sure to include phone numbers and directions for your local veterinary clinic, animal hospital (if it’s not the same place) and poison control center. Remember, in a disaster situation, strangers or emergency workers may find your kit, so make sure this information is bold and legible, so your dog can be brought to safety in a rush. Necessary paperwork to include would be proof of vaccinations (e.g., rabies status), copies of important medical records such as allergies, a current photo of your dog in case he gets lost and ideally a replacement ID tag with his info that could attach to his collar in a pinch.

Supplies

  • Gauze rolls for creating a muzzle for an injured animal or wrapping wounds (note: never create a muzzle if your dog is vomiting, choking, coughing or having difficulty breathing)
  •  Sterile non-stick bandages, towels or strips of clean cloth, to control bleeding or protect wounds
  • Adhesive tape for bandages, to secure gauze or bandages (do not use adhesive bandages meant for humans!)
  • Digital “Fever” Thermometer and Petroleum Jelly to check your dog’s temperature. Note: temperature must be taken rectally for an accurate read and a dog’s normal temperature should be between 100-103 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Eye dropper (or large syringe without needle) to administer oral medications, force-feed or to flush wounds
  •  Leash and harness to transport your pet if capable of walking without injury
  •  Blanket, mat or piece of board to be used as a stretcher in the event your dog becomes injured and must be carried
  • Thermal blanket to keep your dog warm during transport
  • Antibacterial wipes to cleanse wounds and sanitize
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  •  Ice pack
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Scissors with blunt ends
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Tweezers with a flat slant tip instead of the rounded variety to remove splinters or tick heads
  •  Tongue depressor to examine the mouth
  • Disposable safety razor in case you need to shave hair around a wound
  •  Flashlight and matches
  • Rubbing alcohol, which can be used as a cooling agent to aid heat stroke or fever
  • Bag balm to treat injured paw pads
  • Ear cleaning solution

Medicinal Treatments

  • Milk of Magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb poisons and toxins (always call poison control before treating a poisoned animal) or for upset stomach
  • Hydrogen Peroxide 3% to induce vomiting if your dog is poisoned (again, with permission from poison control). Make sure to check expiration dates and replace regularly.
  • Betadine solution, a type of antiseptic iodine for wounds to deter infection
  • Antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin
  • Eye ointment without cortisone
  • Epsom salts, which can be used with water to draw out infection and relieve itchy paws and skin
  • Styptic power to stop bleeding of torn toenails
  •  Benadryl for bug bites, stings and other allergic reactions (check dosage with your vet prior to administering)
  • Gentle pet sedative such as Rescue Remedy, which can help relieve stress, fright, fatigue and irritation due to injury and anxiety-producing events

Nutritional Supplies

  • A week’s supply (or more) of your dog’s food
  •  Can of soft pet food, which can reduce the effects of poisoning
  • Bottled water
  • Bowl or container to use for food and water
  •  Rehydrating solution such as Gatorade or Pedialyte for diarrhea or vomiting
  • Supplement such as Nutri-cal, NuVet Plus, Vitacal or Nutristat
  • High sugar source such as Karo syrup or sugared treats

If this seems like a long laundry list of somewhat unnecessary items, just remember that nobody ever regretted being “too prepared” in an emergency situation. You can never predict what will happen and it’s better to be safe when it comes to your furry child, than sorry.

What Does Your Dog’s Poop Mean?

It may be a gross topic, but let’s face it – if you’re a responsible dog owner, you’re picking up your dog’s poop multiple times a day. So, you might as well know what to look for to determine whether your dog’s poop is normal or problematic. We’ve broken down the do-do, so you don’t have to. Here’s the “scoop” so you can learn more about your dog’s health and well-being.

First, let’s define what normal dog poop looks like. Although varying from dog to dog and breed to breed, typical dog poop should be basically brown in color, neither too soft (diarrhea) nor too hard to pass (constipation). Use your dog’s healthy poop (color, frequency and consistency) as a baseline to compare when he is not feeling well so you’re aware when there’s an issue.

Diarrhea
Poop of a liquid consistency or that looks like “cow patty” or “soft serve” is typically not a cause for concern. If it improves within 24-48 hours, no action is needed. A wait and see approach is advised, and if the dog is acting normally (eating well, not vomiting and displaying a happy demeanor), there is usually no need to seek medical attention.

Black or Very Dark Poop
This may require an urgent trip to the vet as black or tarry consistency can indicate a gastrointestinal ulcer or bleeding high in the GI tract. A bleeding ulcer can oftentimes be caused by human medications with aspirin, steroids or NSAIDs, so be careful of ever giving to your dog without consulting your vet. Other generalized bleeding can be from rat poison, heat stroke or immune-mediated disease. Blood work and/or an ultrasound are typically recommended to get a full look at the intestinal tract.

Red Poop
The red color could indicate bleeding within the GI tract. Streaks of blood can indicate colitis (inflammation of the colon), rectal injury, anal gland infection or even a tumor. Less worrisome may be slight reddish color in an otherwise normal stool, which is typically indicative of inflammation in the large intestine. Regardless, you’ll want to monitor your dog closely for any further changes in stool and also behavior.

Pink or Purple Poop or Large Volume of Diarrhea
Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) can be a common cause of pink or purple poop (often described as looking like raspberry jam), or a cause of a large amount of watery or bloody poop, especially in smaller dogs. While most will recover with treatment, seek veterinary attention immediately as this condition can be fatal if left untreated.

Grey or Greasy Poop
Poop that appears fatty or glistens could indicate a condition called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), which occurs when the pancreas does not produce necessary enzymes to digest fat. Commonly referred to as maldigestion, EPI is treatable. German Shepherds and Rough-Coated Collies are often afflicted with EPI.

Green Poop
Check with your vet immediately, as green poop can indicate a variety of issues from as mild as eating a lot of grass to as serious as swallowing rat bait poison or ingesting a dangerous parasite. Exposure to rodenticides is certainly dangerous, so let your vet know if that may be the case.

Orange or Pasty, Light Poop
Often indicative of a liver issue or biliary disease, orange poop warrants a call to your vet. Hopefully from professional evaluation, it’s determined that the orange color is simply from the poop moving too quickly through the GI tract to pick up bile, which makes poop its normal brown color.

Yellow Poop
If you’ve recently changed your dog’s diet, yellow mucus in poop usually means a food intolerance or allergy, causing an upset stomach. Isolate the suspected ingredient(s) and remove from future diet.

White Flakes or Specks in Poop
Have you noticed grains of white rice in your dog’s poop, only to realize you haven’t fed him any rice? While not serious, this likely means your dog has worms. Roundworms (spaghetti-like shaped) are typically found in puppies. Small, flat worms (found on the outside of stool or around the rectum) may be found in your dog’s sleeping areas as well and typically indicate tapeworm, which take over when a dog has fleas. Worms require a visit to the vet, but don’t panic upon first sight, as they are treatable with parasite medication.

It is worth noting that slight variations in your dog’s poop or infrequent bouts of diarrhea or constipation are often no cause for concern and don’t constitute an emergency situation. For example, if your dog eats something questionable off the ground or out of the trash (commonly referred to as garbage gut), he’ll likely pay for it with an upset stomach and abnormal stool.

However, if your dog’s abnormal stool is accompanied with vomiting, refusal to eat or drink, or other concerning symptoms, a trip to the vet is necessary. Your vet may even ask you to bring a stool sample with specific storage instructions for laboratory testing. Other diagnostics such as blood work or radiographs may also be warranted depending on the symptoms.

Heartworm in Dogs: Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Learning your dog has heartworm can be awfully frightening; after all, the disease affects dogs in all 50 states as well as internationally, and is very difficult to treat. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent your dog from getting a heartworm infestation.

According to WebMD, the only way for a dog to get heartworm is to be bitten by a mosquito infested with heartworm larvae. The disease is most endemic in tropical regions like the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, where the likelihood of a dog getting heartworm is almost at 100 percent, but it has also survived in desert states such as California and Arizona, where irrigation systems allow the infestation to thrive. Once a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, it takes about seven months for adult heartworms to form. Growing up to 12 inches long, the worms start in the heart and make their way into the lungs and surrounding blood vessels. A dog can have as many as 250 worms, which can live up to seven years in the dog’s system. Sounds scary, right?

Thankfully, heartworm can be prevented through a veterinary-administered prophylaxis medication. The medication can also turn a mild to moderate case of heartworm into a nearly invisible one, while dogs with more severe cases may suffer from lung complications due to the strength of the medication. Humans cannot contract heartworm from their dogs; the only way anyone can get heartworm is from direct contact with an infected mosquito.

Heartworm takes the form of three classes: Class I, which is so mild that there are little to no visible symptoms, Class II, which is indicated by coughing and an aversion to exercise, and the most severe, Class III, defined as symptoms of anemia, inability to exercise, fainting and in the worst cases, right-sided chronic heart failure. Symptoms such as high blood pressure, difficulty breathing and rapid heartbeat may be revealed during a physical examination and are especially associated with Class III.

Treatment of heartworm is as follows: The veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic to kill the heartworm’s bacterium—Wolbachia—which causes inflammation in the body. Veterinarians may also prescribe a preventative medication to kill heartworm larvae before the adult heartworm treatment. Once the courses of these medications have been completed, an injection to kill the worms will be administered over a course of 60 days. The infected dog must stay in the hospital during injection days for observation of its reaction to the treatment. The dog’s activity level must be kept at a minimum during and several weeks after treatment since too much movement increases blood flow to blocked areas, causing discomfort for the dog and increasing the likelihood of complications. Dogs should be tested again after six months to ensure that there are no remaining heartworm larvae.

While prevention is certainly the highest defense against the horrors of heartworm, the treatment outlined above can be perfectly successful for clearing up an infestation, especially if the case is mild. While a dog can also recover from severe cases of heartworm, the disease will also bring with it a higher risk of complications and even death. Overall, awareness of the disease and how to prevent it is the most powerful tool when it comes to keeping your dog from becoming another statistic.