Preventing Joint Problems In Dogs

senior dog with ball

If you’ve ever owned a large breed dog, you’re probably familiar with how common it is for large dogs to develop joint problems. Many of us don’t realize when our dog has joint problems until it has progressed to the point of them needing medication. So we’ve put together some helpful tips to preventing joint problems so that hopefully your dog won’t have trouble getting around when he gets older!

 

 

Ensure Minor Injuries Get Proper Rest

If puppies have a big fall, tumble down some stairs, etc., they need the proper time to fully heal. Ideally the fall should try to be avoided completely, but puppies will be puppies! After the injury, make sure to limit your pup’s activity until the injury is fully healed. For minor injuries that don’t require a vet visit, you can still call your vet and describe the situation so he can give you a general time to keep the pup on a lower activity level. Injuries that don’t get proper time to heal will often leave the joints weakened and can mean joint issues later on in life for your pooch.

 

Keep Your Dog Active!

Dogs that are carrying extra weight are putting more pressure on their joints when they walk around. This speeds up the deterioration of joint cartilage which can’t be reversed. Keeping your dog slim by giving him regular walks, not too many treats and a wholesome diet will help keep him moving around easily and not put additional pressure on his joints.

 

Early Detection

One of the best ways to ensure that your dog is comfortable moving around and not in any pain is to know the warning signs of early arthritis and sore/weak joints. Taking notice of things like, stiffness when standing up if lying down for a while, limping when walking or after a certain amount of walking, whining or whimpering when doing certain movements. These could all possibly be signs of early joint deterioration. If you start to notice any of these signs, be sure to speak with your vet on how to make your dog more comfortable and if he/she recommends any dietary supplements to help reduce inflammation in the joints.

 

Although arthritis and other joint problems cannot be reversed, and can be hard to avoid, they can definitely be slowed down. With help from you and looking out for any warning signs of joint pain, your dog can live a long happy life!

Breed of the Week: Borzoi

Russian borzoi, greyhound dog standing. Outdoor shoot
Russian borzoi, greyhound dog standing. Outdoor shoot

The last couple of weeks we’ve enjoyed looking at some rough and tumble working dogs that aren’t afraid of getting muddy! This week we’re switching things up and looking at one of the most graceful dog breeds around, the elegant and swift Borzoi!

 

The Borzoi breed was created by Russian aristocrats looking to have a hunting companion type dog who was extremely fast and brave enough to hunt large animals such as wolves. There are rumors that this breed dates as far back as the 13th century! Because of their remarkable hunting skills, the Borzoi was originally known as the Russian Wolfhound and the name was changed to Borzoi in 1936. And very suitable that they changed the name as Borzoi in Russian actually means ‘swift’!

 

This graceful breed is certainly a wonder to watch when they’re in full gallop! Their strides are as if they are floating along and their long locks just flow in the wind! Many Borzoi owners compare their dog to a cat as they are so light on their feet you often can’t hear them walking through the house! They are the epitome of the ‘gentle giant’. They stand at about 2’2???-2’8??? and weigh around 100 lbs when fully grown. They very rarely bark, making them not so great guard dogs. They can be a bit standoffish with strangers and should be very well socialized with strangers and young kids. The Borzoi is not always a good match for a home with small animals as they do have a very high prey drive and will chase anything that moves fast.

 

The Borzoi’s long hair should be combed through about twice a week to prevent mats and knotting. Due to their super silky hair, dirt just rolls off of them so you don’t have to worry about frequent baths. Depending on your personal preference, you can keep the Borzoi’s coat short, or keep up with regular hair trimming every couple of months. Be sure to speak with your groomer about the proper tools/products to use on your dog, as the Borzoi do have some special requirements (for example, it is recommended to never use a slicker type brush on this breed as it can damage their skin and coat).

 

The Borzoi can be a fantastic companion for an active family with lots of fully fenced backyard space. A happy Borzoi is one that is running in the wind! They need a gentle and patient leader for their training as they are very sensitive dogs. It’s a pleasure watching these wonderful dogs frolic and play, they will make a wonderful addition to any outdoorsy families!

Becoming a Service Dog

Service-Dog

You may have noticed at a mall, restaurant, or just about any public place, a service dog helping his owner in whatever way he can. Service dogs are more than just lovable companions, many people’s lives depend on their service dogs for emergencies, a sense of relief, getting around, and much more! If you think you’re dog has a good temperament and is eager to please, you may be considering training your dog to become a service animal. Today we will be looking at the process of training a dog to become a service animal and the many things that service animals can do!

 

It’s truly remarkable the amount of ways a service dog can help us. Depending on what they are trained in, service dogs can help detect chemical changes within our bodies that could lead to a possible seizure, or change in blood sugar for people who are diabetic. The service dog we all usually think of is one that helps someone who is blind or partly blind. There are also dogs who help people with impaired hearing, autism, anxiety, even allergies! There are so many people who depend on service dogs to help them get through their day to day lives.

 

The most traditional breeds to become service dogs are German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Poodles. These breeds commonly have an even temperament, are very intelligent and very trainable (meaning they catch on quick to new concepts and are eager to please their handler). But the service dog industry is not limited at all to these breeds, any dog can become a service dog, it really just depends on the individual dog if they have the right temperament.

 

The first step in a dog becoming a service dog is to look at their health. Are they overall in good health? Do they have any major problems that would make it hard for them to work all day? All service dogs must be neutered or spayed before starting the process of training. The biggest reason for this is you don’t want the dog to be distracted while on the job. If you have an intact male service dog pass by a female dog in heat, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for that service dog to think about anything other than that pretty female dog that just walked by.

 

The next step is to find a reputable service dog trainer. You want a trainer that specifically focuses on service dogs as they will know the specifics of what the dog will need to know, and it’s likely that they’ve trained dogs on these exacts tasks many times before. The dog trainer can help you assess your dog’s personality to ensure that they will be a successful service dog. The trainer will help guide you through the entire process of having the dog be calm and relaxed in all types of public places such as the bus, subway, busy malls, as many places as possible to ensure the future handler needing the service dog will not be limited on where he can go. International standard for training a service dog mandates a minimum of 120 hours of training over a 6-month (or more) time period. At least 30 of these hours should be done in busy, public places.

 

The trainer will often break down the dogs training into three parts. The first is ‘heeling’, possibly the hardest thing to teach a dog. The dog must learn to stay alongside his owner without constant commands (not repeating ‘heel’ over and over again!) and the dog must learn to move with his owner no matter how unpredictable his movements are. The dog should be constantly watching and anticipating his owner’s movements. The next part is often called ‘proofing’. This is basically teaching the dog to stay calm in all situations no matter the location, noise level, distractions, etc. Even at a busy concert, the dog has to remain calm and more importantly, remain alert for any commands from his owner. The last part is called ‘tasking’. This is ensuring the dog is 100% on the specific tasks he will have to perform for his owner. Service dog tasks will vary depending on what their owner needs. For instance, someone who is blind doesn’t need their service dog to alert them to noises or alarms, but this would be something very important to someone who is deaf.

 

It’s remarkable the many ways dogs help to improve our lives. Even our companion dogs that don’t work as service animals, make our lives more interesting, help to calm us down, and just make us happy!

Breed of the Week: Otterhound

otterhound

The big, friendly Otterhound is our featured breed this week! This large and very hairy dog loves to spend every minute of the day outdoors getting dirty and rolling in the mud. He’s a rugged and rambunctious dog that loves to play!

 

The Otterhound originated in England in the 1300’s. The breed was created to hunt otters (to stop the otters from taking all of the fish). A specialized breed was needed to hunt the otters as the dog needed good scent-tracking abilities, able to fight the otter (weighing upwards of 20lbs), and able to withstand the freezing waters that the otters were in. With the Otterhound being a very old breed, there is a lot of debate over their early history, particularly with the size and look of the original Otterhound. Some experts believe the Otterhound was simply a term used to describe any fierce scent-tracking dog able to hunt otters. Others believe the Otterhound was originally a terrier type breed rather than hound. Today, the Otterhound is considered a ‘Vulnerable Native Breed’ by the AKC (American Kennel Club). There are approximately 600 Otterhounds remaining in the world!

 

This breed was built to be outdoors! They do best in homes with lots of space to run around, making them great farm dogs! This friendly breed gets along great with other dogs, but is better with big dogs as the Otterhound may be inclined to chase small pooches due to their high prey drive. Otterhounds generally are born with a very easy-going and sweet personality, which is good as this breed is notoriously stubborn and often slow to train. They get along best with owners who have the mindset of ‘Dogs will be dogs!’. As long as this dog gets lots and lots of exercise, they rarely have anxiety or major behavioural issues. But one quirk this breed often has (especially if bored or lots of pent up energy) is baying. They have that distinctive hound ‘bay’ instead of a bark, and man are they ever loud!

 

Do you love brushing and bathing dogs in your free time? If you do, the Otterhound is perfect for you! This large dog has a lot of hair and needs frequent hair trimming, brushing and bathing. The Otterhound’s goal every day is to get as dirty as possible, so you will definitely need to be prepared for daily upkeep of their coat.

 

The Otterhound is suitable for very active and outdoorsy families or individuals. They are not recommended for homes with small children as young Otterhounds can be quite rambunctious and knock kids over. They need a very patient and consistent owner who is willing to take the time to train them and give them enough mental and physical stimulation (they were bred to be high-energy working dogs). This dog is definitely not suitable for small apartments or living in a busy city. They thrive on the outdoors and being too cramped will give you an unhappy Otterhound! If you’ve got lots of space, patience, and don’t mind a bit of a dirty house, the Otterhound could be your loving and playful companion!

Breed of the Week: Berger Picard

berger picard

This week we are featuring a French dog breed, the Berger Picard. You may recognise this dog from the novel-based 2005 movie ‘Because of Winn Dixie’. While many people think the star of the movie was a mixed breed, it was in fact the lovable Berger Picard!

 

The Berger Picard is thought to be one of the oldest dog breeds belonging to the sheepdog group. The Picard breed was developed in 9th century France. They were bred for herding livestock and many in France are still used even today as herding dogs. Many Picard enthusiasts debate over the Berger Picards relation to other breeds. Some say they are closely linked to the Briard, while other say they the Belgian Shepherd. The breed almost became extinct during World War I and again during World War II. Although breeders fought very hard to keep this wonderful breed going, it is still considered to be a very rare dog breed today.

 

This wonderful dog breed got the starring role in ‘Because of Winn Dixie’ because of its scruffy mutt-like appearance. As with many movies that have animal actors, the director needed several dogs to perform so that when one dog needs a break they can bring in another doggy actor to take over. So to stay true to the novel of having a mutt-looking dog, but also keep consistency amongst the several doggy actors, the director decided to go with the Berger Picard breed.

 

One benefit to the Picard being a rare breed even today, is that there is less chance for ‘over-breeding’ which can result in many health and temperament issues. So the Berger Picard remains to be a very healthy breed with a life expectancy of 12-15 years and very few major health problems.

 

The Picard is a great family dog, he can get along very well with children and other pets when socialized properly. The Picard is often very standoffish with strangers and needs a heavy focus on how to stay calm and relaxed around new people. Many Picard owners will tell you their dog is the pickiest eater. You will need to take plenty of time finding the right food that is nutritionally balanced that your dog will also enjoy. Picards are notoriously picky-eaters and for this reason are often not motivated by food during training sessions. Lucky for you they are very loyal and absolutely love to make their owners happy, so often times praise is worth more to them than a dog treat.

 

This scruffy dog breed is super low-key when it comes to grooming. They have a double coat with a rough, wiry top coat. The Picard has a naturally lower oil content in their fur, which is what helps to give them that scruffy, tousled appearance. This also helps to make it very rare to get matting in the fur, as well as dirt seems to just rub right off of them, resulting in a less smelly pooch! Their coat sheds twice a year, and they only need to be brushed about once a week.

 

The Berger Picard is a very energetic breed that is up for any type of activity. They are great at going on long hikes, swims, camping, bike rides, you name it! They are generally fairly easy to train in obedience as they just love to keep busy and love being given a task. If you and your family are looking for a sweet-natured dog to go on long hikes or swims with, consider getting the wonderful Berger Picard!

Breed of the Week: Gordon Setter

gordon setter

Our super loveable featured breed this week is the calm and graceful Gordon Setter. These gorgeous dogs are part of the setter family (alongside the Irish setter and English setter). They are large, alert dogs ready to take on any task, but also have a silly side!

 

Black and tan setter-type dogs are recorded in Scotland as far back as the 16th century and it is widely believe that these were the ancestors to the Gordon Setter we know today. The breed became more popular in the late 17th century and were mostly kept and bred at the Gordon Castle near River Sprey. The breeder of these dogs had the goal in mind of a sturdy hunting dog, able to do accurate ‘air-scenting’ for game birds. Although these dogs were not the fastest hunting companions, they were amazingly accurate (would not give many false ‘alerts’ to the hunter) and had great stamina to continue hunting through the day with very little rest.

 

With their amazing stamina and scent work abilities, it’s no wonder the Gordon Setter Breed can often be found competing in field trials. As their ancestors would generally work with only one hunter all the time, this has translated to the breed being a bit standoffish with strangers today. As well, the Gordon Setter needs a lot of socialization with other dogs and animals. The Gordon Setter get jealous very easily so it is important for them to learn how to nicely share toys and affection with other dogs. The Gordon Setter has a lot of love to give and can also be prone to separation anxiety so be sure to find ways to keep him busy and active all day, and to practise entering and leaving the home calmly to not promote separation anxiety.

 

The Gordon Setter is a very intelligent dog and once they have bonded to an owner, they are very trainable. But if the Gordon Setter doesn’t know the person well who is giving commands, he is likely to just ignore them. They take loyalty very seriously! The Gordon Setter can get along great with kids when they have been socialized and the kids are respectful, homes with very young children are not suitable for Gordon Setters as these dogs have a tendency to jump on people and be a bit rambunctious. Gordon Setters generally prefer to be the only dog in the home as they can sometimes get jealous of their owner giving affection to anything that isn’t them!

 

The Gordon Setter has a black and tan coat that is naturally long and feathery. This breed can also (very rarely) come in other colour variations such as red or buff, but these colour variations are not ineligible for showing (although they still make wonderful family pets!). Their fine hair should be brushed and combed 2-3 times a week to keep out tangles. The hair on the feet should be trimmed once every couple of months, depending on your personal preference. Many groomers recommend you bathe a Gordon Setter once every 2 weeks. As bathing too often can easily dry out the skin, you may decide to bathe less frequently, or use a very sensitive shampoo formulated for frequent dog bathing.

 

These loving companion dogs are still to this day dominating field trials and out alongside their owners on the hunt. Although a bit standoffish with strangers and new dogs, they are truly one of the most loyal dogs you will find.

Healthiest Dog Breeds: Part 2

dog with veggies

This week we are continuing our look at some of the healthiest dog breeds. So far, we’ve looked at the Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collie and Havanese. All of these dog breeds have relatively low health concerns and a higher than average lifespan. Today we are looking at three more fantastic and healthier than average dog breeds!

 

German Pinscher

The courageous and proud German Pinscher is one of the healthiest dog breeds. Considering they are on the larger side, it’s a delightful surprise to find out this breed actually has a very low risk of hip dysplasia (a common problem for many large breed dogs). They have an average lifespan of 14 years old and the only health concern that is a common problem for this breed are cataracts which (depending on the exact cause) can be detected early and treated or managed. This is a pretty active breed so to ensure they get to a healthy 14 years old or more, be sure to give them a proper nutrient-rich diet and plenty of exercise.

 

Miniature Schnauzer

This wonderful breed puts the confidence and hardiness of a big dog into a little fluffy package. An intelligent and energetic breed, the miniature schnauzer definitely makes our list for the top healthiest dog breeds. The have a very high average lifespan of about 13-15 years old, and not uncommon to live even longer! With proper care and health management, these dogs often live their entire lives without any major health problems. As with many dogs, one problem to watch out for is hip dysplasia. With proper care and preventing measures, this problem is usually not an issue for the dog. Discuss the best ways to prevent hip dysplasia with your vet as he may give specific recommendations for your dog, but the most effective way is to keep your dog active with daily walks, runs, swims, etc. But avoid exercises that put a lot of pressure on your dogs joints such as jumping or going up and down lots of stairs.

English Springer Spaniel

If you are an outdoorsy person, you’d definitely get along great with the last healthiest dog breed on our list. The bold and energetic English Springer Spaniel has an expected lifespan of 10-14 years. They love running outside all day with their family, and all that exercise and fresh air definitely helps to maintain their excellent health. This breed is prone to a few health problems that should be tested for and treated by a vet to ensure a healthy pup! Some health concerns for the English Springer Spaniel are retinal dysplasia, hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy (which can eventually lead to blindness). Although there is no cure for progressive retinal atrophy, after consulting with your vet, you may be able to give your dog antioxidant supplements to reduce the severity and slow down the rate of degeneration in the retina.

 

It is always a good idea to research breeds before considering a new dog, and one of the biggest concerns when looking at a breed are the health concerns and average lifespan. As you can see with the dog breeds we’ve discussed, the most important consideration to keeping your dog healthy is to provide proper nutrition, exercise, and of course, love!

Breed of the Week: American Foxhound

american foxhound

The American Foxhound is one of the oldest American Dog Breeds. Although not a suitable apartment dog, this breed is a fantastic hunter as well as a gentle and easy-going cuddler!

 

The American Foxhound breed was developed in the late 1700’s, but the ancestor breeds (various other hound-type dogs) were brought over to America in the early 1600’s. The American Foxhound that we recognise today, was bred in Virginia, so it is no wonder that it is the state’s official dog breed! The breed was specifically bred to hunt foxes, often the American grey and red foxes. Today, the breed is still almost always used as a working dog. Either helping on the farm carrying heavy loads for the farmer (as this breed has a lot of strength and stamina), as hunting companions (used for tracking foxes), or competing in scent detection trials. This breed hates to be bored so it is best to only get this dog if you have a routine job for them to do.

 

Being a hound, this breed will definitely alert you with that typically hound ‘baying’ whenever he hears a noise. For this reason (as well as their high energy level), this breed is not a good option for small living spaces. The American Foxhound gets very bonded to their owners and enjoy working side by side with them. This breed is typically standoffish with strangers, and should be socialized early to prevent any fear or aggression towards strangers. They typically get along great with young kids, they can get along with other pets such as cats when heavily socialized to them, but they do have a prey drive so you should always use your best judgment.

 

They can be quite stubborn dogs when it comes to training. You should always stay calm, positive and patient with this breed. These dogs respond well to positive training methods, as well as they appreciate being given a reason to what you’ve asked of them. If you ask an American Foxhound to sit, they will look at you first almost like their asking “but why should I sit???? (usually cookies are a good enough reason!). Just be sure to not use too many training treats as this breed loves their food and can easily become overweight if not managed carefully.

 

Grooming needs for the Foxhound are very low maintenance. Being short-haired, they only require brushing maybe once a week. As they are often outdoors, they may need a few more wipe down than other dogs to keep them from tracking mud in the house!

 

The American Foxhound is a sweet and gentle breed, loyal to their family. They will spend all day outside if they are allowed, and their grooming needs are very low maintenance. Ensure that they don’t pig out on too many cookies and that they are getting enough exercise so that your Foxhound stays happy and healthy!

Healthiest Dog Breeds: Part 1

dog doctor

When looking to get a new dog or puppy, one of the biggest concerns of many future pet parents, are the common health problems of the breed. Even when considering a mixed breed dog, it is important to be knowledgeable and aware of possible future health issues with each breed that make up your mutt. This week we will be listing some of our favourite dog breeds that are well-known for their lack of health issues, also taking into consideration a long life span and great quality of life.

 

Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle dog belongs to the herding dog group. A medium-sized dog weighing about 30-35lbs when full grown. This energetic dog loves the outdoors and running around with his doggy friends all day. This is a very ‘sturdy’ breed that has no problem running into thick forests or jumping into lakes and getting dirty. They have an average life span of 13 years, and with proper exercise and nutrition, often live well beyond that number. You may be surprised to find just how active these dogs remain even into their later years. Your 8 year old Australian Cattle Dog will likely still be running around just like he did as a puppy!

 

Border Collie

Another super healthy dog also belonging to the herding dog group, the Border Collie! They are very active dogs that need a lot of daily exercise to help keep them healthy and happy. They have an average lifespan of 12-14 years and a few minor health problems that may occur in their later years such as hypothyroidism and Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA). With proper care, many Border Collies live into their senior years without any major health problems. Many Border Collie breeders have taken special care and many years to help ensure their puppies are as healthy as possible. Most of the small health issues that can occur in Border Collies can be tested for as a puppy and prevented or controlled before they become adult dogs.

 

Havanese

The smallest breed on our list today, the cute and cuddly Havanese! This breed has an average lifespan of 12-14 years and have very few health problems. Typical health concerns for Havanese are deafness and elbow dysplasia, these problems usually only occur in older Havanese although some puppies may be born deaf. Unlike our breeds listed above, the Havanese only needs short daily walks. But make sure he does get those daily walks! Dogs who are overweight are more likely to develop elbow dysplasia with that extra weight they are carrying around. Also remember to feed your Havanese high-quality dog food that doesn’t contain too much protein as that can also lead to canine elbow dysplasia.

 

These wonderful dog breeds  are known for their health and high quality of life and with proper exercise and nutrition, you are sure to give your dog the best years he can possibly have!