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February 2014

5 Ways to Check Your Dog for Fleas

 by wai on 28 Feb 2014 |
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If you have a dog, then you need to check it for fleas on a regular basis. Fleas can be found in almost every area of the country, especially during the spring and summer months. Just because you keep your home clean and tidy does not meant your dog won't get fleas. Fleas are tiny parasites that can jump huge distances, which means that they can attach themselves to your dog by jumping on it from another animal with fleas. Because fleas are parasites, they can cause severe discomfort to your dog. Fleas will spread quickly throughout your home if you do not find a way to eliminate them immediately; otherwise, they will cause severe discomfort to you and your family. The following are five ways to check your dog for fleas:    Check to see if your dog is behaving oddly - If your dog is behaving oddly; for example, its more restless than normal and is chewing, licking or scratching itself more than it usually does, then there's a good chance it has fleas. Other behavioral signs of fleas include scratching at its ears or shaking its head on a regular basis.  Check your dog's fur coat - If you dog has become infested with fleas, then you should be able to spot fleas jumping around in your dog's fur coat. However, if your dog only has a few fleas, they may be hard to spot by just checking the fur.  Check the groin and armpits - These two areas are two of the warmer areas as well as most protected areas on a dog, which makes them some of the favorite locations for fleas to feed off of. Look carefully in these spots for fleas or for signs of fleas, such as hair loss or red and irritated skin, which may have been caused by excessive scratching. Image credit  Run a flea comb through the fur - Flea combs have very fine teeth, making it easier to pull out fleas. Run a flea comb through your dog's fur. If there are any fleas in the area that you are combing, they should be caught within the teeth. When using the comb, make sure that you get close to your dog's skin. Be sure to have a bowl of water with soap in it nearby so you can dip the comb in it if you have caught any live fleas.  Check your dog's bed - The fleas won't just stay on your dog - they will often move to the environment that your dog lives in. If they haven't spread to your furniture yet (at which point you'll probably realize that you have fleas), then check your dog's bedding for fleas or for signs of flea dirt, which are black specks.   These are five ways that you can check to see if your dog has fleas. If your dog does indeed have fleas, then you need to get rid of them as soon as possible before they begin spreading throughout your home and you have an infestation on your hands.

Puppy Potty Training - Four Steps to Successfully Potty Train Your Dog

 by wai on 19 Feb 2014 |
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It's one of the indisputable laws of nature: what goes in one end must come out the other. It's the question of when and where it comes out that causes problems for the owner of a new puppy. Potty training a new dog is one of the first things you'll want to do, and life will be much more pleasant for everyone once your puppy has mastered this skill.   When your dog is a puppy, he doesn't possess the muscle control of his bowels and bladder to be able to decide when to empty them. He also doesn't understand the language that you will be using to try and teach him the rights and wrongs of when and where to do his business. It's important to remember this - your puppy will need to wee and poo, and there's no point in scolding him if he does it in the wrong place. No dog is a mind reader, and it is your duty, as the owner and pack leader, to communicate how you want things done. Luckily, just by following a few simple rules, you can teach your puppy where it's appropriate to do his business, and hopefully avoid too many unpleasant accidents along the way.   Potty Training Your Puppy - Step 1: Confinement When puppies are newly born, their mother licks them to stimulate them to excrete. After they have finished doing their business, she licks the puppies again, to clean them up.  This means that, as the puppies grow, they develop the desire to want to sleep somewhere that isn't covered in wee and poo. Given a choice, a puppy will instinctively keep their bed area clean. As such, some form of confinement will help your puppy develop the control he needs for successful potty training. The best way to start the confinement stage of potty training is by using a crate.  The crate shouldn't be too big, or else the puppy will be tempted to use one end as a toilet, and the other for sleeping.  If your puppy is going to grow to a big size within a few months, and you don't want to be buying several crates, it is possible to get one that's partitioned, enabling you to increase the area as the puppy grows, whilst still being able to keep it the right size for potty training. Potty Training Your Puppy - Step 2: Training and Praise Many dog trainers use a leash or a lead when potty training puppies. Making use of a leash ensures that you can keep the dog close to you, which will give you control over where your dog will eliminate.  It's best to use a slip-type lead for ease and speed of putting it on; even if your puppy is still a bit young to be lead trained, you can still slip it over his head and carry him outside.  Young dogs are easily distracted and can mentally stray from the job in hand, so a little tug on the leash will help refocus their mind.   Pick a suitable area of your garden as the potty corner, behind the shed, for example. With your puppy on a leash, guide him down there every time you feel he is ready to do his duty, and before long, he will go there of his own accord. The words you use whilst your puppy is doing his business are also important, as they help reinforce the potty training effort.  Be consistent, and make sure it's easy to say, because whatever phrase you choose, you'll be using it a lot! "Go potty" for wee, and "Go poop" for poo are effective, although you can use whatever words you feel most comfortable with. The most important word you need to teach your puppy is 'Outside'.  Every time you take your puppy outside, use it repeatedly, in a bright and cheery tone. Dogs love to be outside, as they associate it with freedom and playtime. Eventually, just saying the word 'outside' will have your puppy running for the door in excitement. Once you are outside, put your puppy down and change the emphasis to the 'go potty' or' go poop' command, whichever you have chosen.  Let your puppy have a sniff around the area and move about until they feel settled, but keep them within the space you have decided to make their potty area.  Use a little nudge on the lead if he gets distracted, and repeat the 'go potty' command.  Make sure you say the command in a friendly and encouraging tone; you don't want to sound firm or angry, nor do you want to be pleading for him to do it. Then, when he starts to do his business, give him verbal encouragement in a happy and pleasant tone of voice.   Be sure to only use verbal praise, as any physical petting can disturb the motion in progress.  Dogs will usually wee first then poo, but you will quickly learn your own dog's routine, and be able to encourage him to wee or poop appropriately. Image credit Potty Training Your Puppy - Step 3: Timing As your puppy learns the rules of elimination, they will start to earn themselves freedom from the crate. The best time to allow your puppy out is when he's just done his business, but he will still need to be closely supervised.  The key is to be constantly observant of your dog's behavior and body language, so you can anticipate what's going to happen.  All puppies and dogs will have their own idiosyncratic behavior which signals that they need to go potty.  These may include circling, sniffing, stopping an activity abruptly, or running out of the room. If you spot these signs, take your puppy outside and follow the procedure for having them poop in the right place. Your dog will also need to go outside if there's a change in circumstances, for example, after a walk, a sleep or eating. A rule of thumb is that the age of the dog, in months, is the time, in hours, that the puppy can cope between potty breaks. For example, a one month old puppy can cope for one hour, but a four month puppy can cope for four hours. This is true up to around seven months in age, by which point, hopefully your puppy will be fully potty trained. Potty Training Your Puppy - Step 4: Accidents There will still be accidents whilst you're potty training your puppy. If you should catch him whilst he's doing his business, a loud hand clap to distract him, and a firm, low voice to communicate your displeasure will be enough to drive the message home. You don't want to terrify him, but you do want him to know you're unhappy.  Quickly scoot him outside with your friendly and encouraging 'outside' voice.  Then, if he continues what he started, heap on lots of praise. There is no point whatsoever in punishing your puppy when he has weed or pooped in the wrong place at the wrong time. The message your puppy will receive from such a punishment is that they should only wee or poop when you're not around, which will only cause even more problems.  Think of such an accident as an opportunity to teach your puppy how to do things correctly. As with every lesson in life, the more it is repeated, the quicker it is learned.

Getting a New Dog? How to Acclimate the Family Cat

 by wai on 13 Feb 2014 |
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Bringing a new dog or puppy home is an exciting and joyful time for families, but the furry newcomer may not be a welcome addition for every family member; namely, the resident cat. Cats don't always take well to change, and when a new pet enters their domain, their stress levels can rise. The good news is, cats and dogs can and do live together in peace and can even become the best of friends. What's important is to make sure the cat is properly acclimated to the new family member. Here's how: Give the cat a space of her own. Cats need a place where they can feel safe from outside stressors. A separate room where the new dog or puppy can't go works well. Or, block off the upstairs so the cat can roam freely on a different level of the house. Be careful not to isolate the cat completely, though; instead, allow the cat to view the new pet from a distance and to become familiar with its scent.  Show that the new dog isn't a threat. Have the cat observe your behavior with the new dog to prove that the newcomer is not a threat. By watching and listening to your gentle interaction while you're training the puppy or just quietly bonding, the cat will associate positive feelings with the new animal. Crating the new dog at night or when you are not home also helps alleviate threat issues for cats. Supervise the cat and dog during early introductions. Always supervise the cat and new dog while they are getting acquainted to avoid harm to either animal. It's a good idea to keep the new dog on a leash during early introductions, too, so that you can restrain the dog if it gets too rambunctious or tries to chase the cat. Praise and offer treats to both pets for good behavior.   Image credit Keep cat routines the same. Showing resident cats that nothing concerning them has changed, despite the new dog, helps them feel secure. Keep the cat's feeding schedule the same, continue daily play sessions, and let the cat spend time snuggling with you--even if this means separating yourself from the new dog. If you have other pets, let the cat spend time with them too, away from the new pup. Expect the cat to hiss. Cats often hiss at new pets. It's a natural defense mechanism and a way to show seniority.  A resident cat's hissing or batting at a new dog or puppy may actually be a good thing because it helps avert further negative behavior; most dogs will back away when a cat offers this type of warning. Be sure to intervene if the dog or cat shows signs of aggression. Don't force the relationship. Forcing a cat to like a new pet before the cat is ready could backfire. Give the cat opportunities to get comfortably close to the new dog, and don't worry if the process is slow. Some cats adjust quickly to change while others take a long time. The cat will eventually realize that the dog is here to stay and will adjust. If you're bringing a new dog into the home, take the time and effort to acclimate the newcomer to the family cat. Doing so is key to a happy, stress-free environment for your pets--and you.

The Top 5 Symptoms to Be Aware of in Dogs

 by wai on 04 Feb 2014 |
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It can be hard to tell when your dogs require veterinary attention. If you brought them to the doctor every time they had a little sniffle, you'd spend more time in the vet's office than at home. However, there are a few symptoms that could have a serious underlying cause. Let's take a look at five symptoms that you must consult your vet about. Lumps Most lumps that develop on a dog are completely benign. However, a lump could potentially be cancerous. Cancer is the most common fatal disease in pets. The earlier you treat it, the more likely it is that you can save your dog. Your vet should be made aware of any new lumps or growths that develop on your pet. Unusual Body Odors Although dogs can get smelly from playing in the yard or wrapping themselves up in hot blankets, unusual body odors are an important warning sign to be aware of. Bad breath can be a sign of cancer or dental issues. Excessive flatulence can be a sign of clogged anal glands. Smelly ears might indicate an ear infection. Unexplained Weight Loss Unexplained weight loss is a very serious symptom in a dog. You should be particularly alarmed if this weight loss is accompanied by a change in appetite. These symptoms could be a warning sign of cancer. They are also associated with a number of digestive and glandular issues. Image credit Coughing Coughing is a symptom that can be an indicator of a variety of serious illnesses. It could be a symptom of lung cancer or another respiratory disease. Small dogs are at an increased risk of damage to their esophagus, which can lead to coughing and choking. Limping and Jumping If your pet is limping or jumping, you must seek immediate attention from a vet. This symptom is a sign of pain and can be an indication of a broken bone or serious physical trauma. It can also be a symptom of arthritis, which is painful but treatable. Certain types of cancer will also lead to obvious signs of pain. Not every symptom requires the attention of a vet, but these particular symptoms are sometimes indications of serious underlying health conditions. If your pet experiences any of these warning signs, bring them to the vet as soon as possible. You should also schedule regular checkups for your dog in order to catch and treat any less obvious illnesses.
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