Tag Archives: anxiety

Bloat: A Serious Condition Every Dog Owner Should Know About


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Bloat is a commonly used term to refer to a severe medical condition in dogs called “Gastric Dilatation Volvulus.” Bloat occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid and causes the stomach to expand. This, in turn, increases pressure on other organs. In some cases, the stomach will rotate and twist, which hinders blood flow and prevents blood from flowing back to the heart and other important areas of the body.

Bloat usually comes on very quickly, so time is of the essence in treating the condition and preventing it from becoming life-threatening. Thus, as a responsible dog owner, it’s crucial to understand the warning signs as awareness and action could very well save your dog’s life.

Is My Dog at Risk?

While any dog can get bloat, the condition is more frequently seen in deep-chested, large dog breeds such as the following:

In addition to breed, age and gender may also play a factor in proclivity. It is widely believed that dogs older than seven years as well as males are more likely to get bloat than females. Dogs with an aggressive, anxious or fearful personality are also more likely to experience this issue, as stress and negative emotions seem to play a part in triggering the condition.

Causes & Prevention of Bloat

While the exact cause of bloat is not known, there are a variety of factors that raise a dog’s risk of getting bloat, so do your best to protect your dog from these possible causes:

  • Eating or drinking too quickly. Gulping large amounts of food or water at once often means the dog is gulping air, which can increase pressure in the stomach.
  •  Eating dry dog food that is too high in grain. Grain gets fermented in the stomach, which releases gas. Try grain-free food options to see if that makes a difference in your dog’s digestion.
  • Exercising during and especially immediately after eating. Give your dog an hour or more of rest time before and after eating to allow for proper digestion.
  • Experiencing extreme stress, such as mating, whelping, boarding, or due to a change in routine or new dog in the household.
  • Bloat may also be hereditary, especially if your dog has a first-degree relative who has suffered from the condition.

What to Look For: Signs & Symptoms

Nobody knows better than you what is normal behavior for your furry friend! Keep an eye on your pup, and if you notice any unusual behavior, get in touch with your vet as soon as possible. The most common symptoms are:

  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to vomit (nothing comes up, or possibly just foam/mucus comes up).
  • Unusual behavior, such as asking to go outside in the middle of the night.
  •  Anxiousness and restlessness.
  •  Abdomen is bloated and tight.
  • Rapid, shallow breathing.

Your dog may also be pacing, whining, drooling, panting, or gagging, and may be standing or laying strangely. An accelerated heartbeat, weak pulse and collapse are indicators of a serious problem.

Keep in mind, not every dog will exhibit every symptom. If you’re not sure if your dog is experiencing bloat, contact your veterinarian. It’s of course better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your beloved pooch!

Treating Bloat

There are a few ways bloat is treated, depending on the severity of the case including:

  • The vet may take x-rays to see if your dog’s stomach is twisted.
  •  If your dog’s stomach is not twisted, the vet can release the pressure inside it by putting a tube down the dog’s throat into the stomach.
  •  If the stomach is twisted, a tube may be unable to pass into the stomach, so the vet will insert a large needle through your pup’s belly to release the pressure that way.
  • If the stomach is twisted, it is likely your dog will need surgery to untwist it and put it back where it belongs. Often, the vet will secure the stomach in the right place to prevent your dog from getting bloat again.

How to Deal With Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety


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If you leave your pooch alone for extended periods of time (anywhere from 3-8 hours) on a regular basis, he will likely experience separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is especially prevalent among puppies who were recently taken away from their biological mothers and are adjusting to life outside of the litter.

While it can be heartbreaking to watch a pup suffer from this mental health issue, it can also be destructive to your home and put intense stress on the important relationship you should be building with your pet. Separation anxiety manifests itself in your dog misbehaving in a variety of ways including but not limited to destroying furniture, peeing and pooping in the house in unexpected places, nonstop barking, or all of the above. Given the fact that many people have to leave their dogs unattended for long periods of time due to work obligations or lifestyle, the question then becomes how to work through separation anxiety and make life for your pup (and you) as comfortable as possible.

Select the Breed Carefully
Certain breeds are more prone to anxiety as they require constant companionship. If you don’t have a puppy yet, while you look, ask PuppySpot’s puppy counselors about which breeds are best for you and your family’s personal lifestyle. Be upfront and frank about your regular weekly schedule and how much time you’re able to devote to being present with your pet. This information is crucial in determining the right breed for you.

Wean Your Pooch off Anxiety
If you already have a pup who is battling anxiety, it’s imperative to implement training tactics to get him used to your absence. Start with a few minutes at a time of putting your dog in another room out of sight and then reward him with treats at consistent intervals. Slowly increase alone time to 5, 10, 15, 30 minutes. Then go up 1, 2, 3, 4 hours. If your dog starts to bark or become destructive, don’t show yourself, but rather say “bad dog.” Showing yourself only reinforces the barking and destructive behavior.

Keep Your Pup Well Occupied
Once your pooch gets used to being alone, make sure he has plenty of toys to play with to keep him busy and content. Another trick to help ease your pup’s attachment is to put a used shirt of yours (preferably one you’ve sweated heavily on, then dried) in his space or bed so that he feels you’re close by and is comforted by your scent.

Consider Doggie Daycare
By enrolling your pooch in a doggie daycare program, he will have the opportunity to be immersed in social activity and distracted throughout the day by other dogs and caretakers. While this option can be expensive, if you choose a daycare which doubles as a training center, you may feel it’s worth the investment (and peace of mind).

Go High Tech
Another alternative to help your pup acclimate to his solitary surroundings (and again, to give you peace of mind) is to wire your home for remote camera access. All you need is a personal computer, laptop, or tablet with a camera and internet connectivity. Place it in a location where your dog can easily be visible and equally as important, where the device is visible to your dog. You can then set up a system where you can remotely access the camera of the unit at your home with your PC or mobile device. This way you and your pooch see each other and can interact. For best results, use a web cam that you can remotely manipulate.

Homeward Bound
When you do finally get home, take your pooch out of his crate or confined space, give him a big hug and immediately take him out for a walk or play with him. Your pooch waited for you and now he deserves your undivided love and attention.

Can You Read Your Dog’s Body Language?


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Every pup parent wishes their dog could talk and wonders what their dog would say if she could. Humans are verbal creatures and it can be frustrating to communicate with non-verbal animals. The good news however is that your dog DOES communicate. You just need to understand how to interpret her non-verbal signs.

Just as some words can mean different things in different contexts, dog body language can vary from animal to animal and it takes a perceptive pup parent to get the right “feel” for how your dog communicates. Yet, to get a general sense of what your dog is trying to tell you, here are some common body language signs and their corresponding meanings. Take each with a grain of salt!

Language Signaling Nervousness or Anxiety

Wide eyes: Your dog is afraid or uncomfortable. Try to remove her from the situation she’s currently in as soon as possible.

Ears pulled back: This is a sign of nervousness or anxiety.

Bristled fur: A sign of aggression.

Yawning: Many believe this to mean a dog is tired; however it can also signal that your dog is overwhelmed or anxious. Consider the situation when deciding what your dog’s yawn means.

Rolling onto her back: She may be asking for belly rubs because she’s feeling playful, or she could be nervous and looking for comfort. In general, if she’s more stiff, she’s more likely to be anxious than happy.

Wagging tail: Tail wagging is a frequently misinterpreted sign. Most people believe a wagging tail only means a dog is happy, which of course is often true, but some dogs also wag their tails when aroused, overstimulated and frustrated. You can usually tell the difference by looking at what the rest of the body is doing.

Raising one front paw: Your pup is telling you she’s feeling uncertain. Some do this when they need more time in the backyard to go potty, too.

Bared teeth: Paired with other signs of nervousness, a dog showing her teeth is acting aggressively. Some dogs can show teeth when they are hot or happy though, as well. You can tell the difference if the rest of the dog’s signals are relaxed.

Lack of eye contact: If a dog refuses to look at something, chances are it’s frightening her. It’s pretty easy to tell when a dog is just scoping out the scene versus pointedly trying not to look at something. As you get to know your dog better, you’ll be able to tell the difference.

Sitting: If you didn’t ask your dog to sit, and she sits down in a hurry, she may be tense, especially if she freezes and shows other nervous signs, like staring straight ahead or lifting a paw.

Shaking: Is your dog cold? If not, she’s probably scared. If you’ve noticed your dog shaking during a thunderstorm or fireworks for example, you’ll be able to associate the sign with frightening situations.

Signs of Curiosity or Anticipation

Head cocked: When a dog cocks its head to one side or the other, they’re assessing the situation to better understand their surroundings and gain a sense of security.

Front paw lifted: Your dog is anticipating what will happen next and preparing her reaction.

Mouth closed: Similar to the front paw lifted, your dog is sizing up the situation to determine her next move.

Language Showing Relaxed Demeanor

A proud pup parent knows the true signs of a happy pooch, but here are a few reminders if for nothing else than a prime photo opp:

Mouth slightly open: Especially if the dog’s tongue is relaxed and lolling to one side, consider this a state of euphoric contentment.

Small body freezes during play: Your pooch is excited and joyful from the social interaction.

Turning over, inviting belly rub: This move demonstrates trust and the desire for affection.

Tail wagging fast: Depending on the length and look of the tail, some people call this move “helicopter tail,” which is a true sign of happiness

Squinty or blinking eyes: You may notice this expression when you’re giving your dog a head massage or back rub – it’s almost as if she could nod off at any moment – the true look of relaxation!

Finding Puppy’s Groomer: Consider These Factors


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Something as superficial as your dog’s hairstyle may seem silly and unimportant, but on the contrary, choosing a professional groomer should be prioritized. Depending on your dog’s breed and hygiene needs, they could be visiting the groomer as much as every 4-6 weeks, so deciding who will be responsible for keeping your pooch clean and primped requires some research and follow-up. Here’s a quick checklist to run through before getting your pup’s hair done:

  • Get a Referral – Begin by asking friends, family and neighbors for recommendations. Trusted reviews are invaluable. You can also contact the National Dog Groomers Association to find certified groomers in your local area.
  • thumbnail-dyi-grooming-cutCheck Prices – When you start calling down your list of local groomers, ask for a full rundown of their menu of services and corresponding prices. For example, some groomers include additional services such as nail clippings and expression of anal glands in their regular grooming packages and others do not, so it’s helpful to know exactly what’s offered so you can customize your pup’s visits accordingly. Many groomers’ prices depend on the size and breed of the dog so make sure to give them enough information in order to receive an accurate quote.
  • Take a Tour – Prior to booking your pup’s first appointment, you’ll want to visit the facility and observe the activity. Take mental notes of the setup, lighting and cleanliness level and make sure you’re comfortable with the environment. You’ll also want to check to see if the kennels are large enough and separated for dogs and cats. Watch to see if the groomers handle their pups in a caring and professional manner and ask the staff administrative questions such as what type of records they keep and how much advance notice is required for scheduling.
  • Bring Vaccination Records – Most groomers will require immunization records for rabies, kennel cough and other infectious diseases before accepting new dogs into their salon. It’s also worth noting that spayed and neutered dogs tend to be calmer, less hyperactive, and therefore more tolerant of grooming. You may want to consider getting this procedure done by your veterinarian before scheduling that first grooming session.
  • Speak Up about Any Special Circumstances – Before you drop your pooch off to get his/her hair did, make sure your groomer understands any health conditions to be aware of – whether it be dry/flaky skin or something more serious such as hip dysplasia that would require the groomer to be more gentle when maneuvering the dog.
  • Say Goodbyes Quickly – Most dogs, especially those who display anxious behavior, have a difficult time with grooming. A long, drawn-out goodbye can make the experience worse for a socially anxious pooch, so don’t make it a big deal. There are also a few preparatory things you can do at home to get your pup more comfortable with the experience. Brush your dog often and give a reward after each brushing session. Other tips to ease your dog into the grooming process? Give regular full body massages and turn on the vacuum to get a scared dog used to the sound of the dryers.

If this all seems to be a bit much, just know that when you pick up your best friend, he will look “pawfect” with a shiny coat, fresh smell and maybe even a bandana or bow in her hair to boot!