Water Safety Tips for Dogs

lab swimming

With the weather getting warmer, many of us will be trying to get up to the cottage for some relaxation by the water. Many dogs love the cottage life, jumping in the lake and going for a swim! Feeling that breeze through their fur when they’re next to you on the boat. This week we will be discussing how to keep your pooch happy and safe when playing in or near the water.

 

Not All Dogs Love to Swim          While there are many natural born swimmer breeds such as the Newfoundlander and Chesapeake Bay Retriever, there are also some breed who don’t often take to swimming very well. Breeds with short little legs and/ or short snouts can have trouble paddling strong enough to keep themselves up when in water. Some examples of these breeds are Pugs and Corgi’s. Due to their shorter legs, it can be somewhat rare to see these types of dogs enjoying deep water as they aren’t physical built for swimming. Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule and some shorter legged dogs are in fact great swimmers. It is always a smart idea to stay nearby if your little legged dog wants to try swimming, just in case you need to help him out.

 

Life Jackets and Vests                   There are many places online that make breed and size specific life jackets for any dog breed. If your dog isn’t a confident swimmer, it may be a good idea to put a life vest on if you know you will be near the water. If you plan on taking your dog on a boat ride, no matter what breed or swimming experience he has, he should be wearing a life vest. Just in case you happen to go over a big wave or if your dog unexpectedly reacts to something while on the boat, you always want to make sure he is wearing a life vest for any unexpected moments. These doggy life vest often come with durable handles on the top so you have a much easier time pulling him out of the water if needed.

 

Keep Your Dog Within Eyesight You never know what your dog can get into. He may be enjoying himself in the water so much, that he ends up going too far out. This prevents you from being able to reach him in time if there’s any sort of emergency. Be sure that your dog knows to stay close and within your eyesight. If you’re with others, have them help keep a look out, the more eyes the better when it comes to safety!

 

Check The Water First                  We all know that it can take some time for large bodies of water to warm up near the beginning of summer. If the water is too cold, it can put your dog at risk for hypothermia. Some dogs that were bred to swim and hunt in the water have a double coat, helping to protect their body from cold water. For dogs that don’t have this double coat, it doesn’t take long for hypothermia to set in. A good rule before your dog goes swimming, is to check the water yourself first! Take a quick dip to check the water first. Check around where you are to make sure there aren’t any warning signs posted for things like jellyfish to ensure your dog won’t have any unexpected encounters.

 

Some dogs can’t get enough of the water while others prefer to stay on land. Whatever your dog’s preference is, make sure he stays safe this summer by following our water safety tips!

Health Needs of Diabetic Dogs

old golden retriever

Having a dog who is diabetic requires some knowledge of what possible behaviours to watch out for. Many diabetic dogs live completely normal lives like any other dog, and very rarely do they suffer from negative side effects. But it is important nonetheless to be aware of what happens in your dog’s body when their insulin is low and how to prevent as well as treat it.

 

Diabetes in both humans in dogs, is a result of the body not producing enough insulin or the body having an inadequate response to insulin. Just like with humans, when dogs eat, their bodies break down the food into individual macronutrients that the body can then sort and utilize. Glucose, made up of a small chain of simple sugars, is a type of carbohydrate used primarily to give the body energy. Insulin is meant to be produced when we eat food so that it can carry the glucose to where it needs to go to be used as fuel for the body. When the body does not produce a sufficient amount of insulin, glucose is not able to be utilized. As a result, blood sugar levels increase and when left untreated, can lead to very serious health problems.

 

If a dog is not able to produce enough of the hormone insulin on his own, the vet may recommend a dosage of insulin that he will need to take at certain times every day. It is very important that the insulin is given at the right time. Your vet will give specific instructions on dosage and times, depending on your dog’s individual needs and if he has type I or type II diabetes (dogs most commonly have type I, while cats are more likely to have type II).

 

Some signs to watch out for that your dog has diabetes are excessive thirst, lethargy, weight loss, a change in appetite or vomiting. Your dog may show several or maybe just one of these symptoms. In general, if you notice any abnormalities in your dog’s behaviour, health or appearance, you should immediately discuss with your vet as early detection of diabetes can prevent more serious health problems.

 

Although the exact cause of diabetes in dogs is unknown, it can sometimes be a result of obesity, autoimmune disease, or can develop as a result of certain medications. Some dog breeds have been known to be more susceptible to developing diabetes. Breeds such as miniature schnauzers, Keeshonds and Samoyeds seem to be more likely to develop diabetes compared to other dog breeds, especially at around 6-9 years of age.

 

The best way to try and prevent diabetes is to help your dog stay active by getting enough exercise every single day. As we know, dogs who are obese can be at higher risk of developing diabetes so make sure your dog also has a healthy diet that doesn’t include too many treats or table scraps! And as we mentioned earlier, watch out for any changes in your dogs behaviour as early detection of diabetes can help prevent more serious health complications as a result from the disease. With help from your vet and keeping your dog active and eating a wholesome diet, your dog is sure to live a happy and healthy life!

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: 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 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!

Breed of the Week: Tibetan Spaniel

tibetan spaniel

Our confident, pint-sized breed this week is the adventurous Tibetan Spaniel. These furry little guys share their ancestors with Pekingese, Pug and the Japanese Chin. They are intelligent and very trainable dogs suitable to confident owners.

 

The Tibetan Spaniel breed originated in the Himalayan mountains of Tibet, approximately 2,000 years ago. They were used mostly as companion dogs for the Monks, but were also keen watchdogs. The Tibetan Spaniel would sit for hours on top of a hill near the monastery, and alert the monks by barking if they saw anyone coming.

 

Although with their history you may expect the Tibetan Spaniel to be somewhat of a guard dog, in reality they are all bark and (typically) no bite. They make great watch dogs and will do lots of barking to alert you, but a well-balanced Tibetan Spaniel should never show any signs of aggression even to strangers. Typically, these dogs are pretty aloof around new people, they really light up when their owners are around. They are very loyal dogs that love to spend time with the people they’ve bonded to. Much like cats, they quite enjoy looking out the window for hours at a time, just watching people walking by. Just be sure they don’t lie by the window all day! These little guys need daily walks just like any other dog. They don’t require a lot of exercise, but still need to be active every day for their physical and mental well-being.

 

With their flat faces, the Tibetan Spaniel is known as a brachycephalic breed. So be sure that they don’t over exert themselves or are out too long in hot weather as their short muzzles can make it difficult to breath under these conditions.

 

The Tibetan Spaniel is a very intelligent and confident breed and can sometimes be a little stubborn. They are also extremely sensitive and intuitive to their owner’s mood. With all of this in mind, their training sessions should be done with a lot of patience and consistency. Avoid using any harsh training methods with this breed. The best method for training a Tibetan Spaniel is to first spend quality time together and really strengthen your bond, this will make training sessions much more enjoyable and productive!

 

To maintain the natural beauty of the Tibetan Spaniel, the owner should never trim the dog’s hair, other than the feet. Brushing should be done weekly as well as combing out the finer hair on their face. Depending on your particular Tibetan Spaniel, if they have large facial wrinkles, ensure to keep these clean by wiping them out with a pet safe wet wipe.

 

These compact little companions make great additions to almost any family. With their small size, they are suitable for city living. Using gentle and consistent training, the Tibetan Spaniel can grow to be a well-mannered watchdog and family member.

Breed of the Week: German Shepherd- Best in Show!

german shepherd

The results are in! The winner of this year’s Westminster Dog Show is the German Shepherd! It’s no wonder this great breed took home the big title. Let’s take a closer look at what makes the German Shepherd such a stand out breed!

 

The German Shepherd breed was developed in Germany in the late 1800’s. They belong to the herding group as their original purpose was to guard and herd sheep. The original German Shepherd was very different looking to the Shepherd we know and love today. German Shepherds before World War II typically rough coats and short tails. By cross-breeding various sheep dog breeds in Germany, the German Shepherd was created with the intent to have a dog to guard sheep with very high stamina so they were able to herd sheep for longer periods of time (compared to the other sheep dogs at that time).

 

Being a working dog, German Shepherds should only go to suitable families or individuals that have active lifestyles and plan to train and be around their dog for a lot of the day. German Shepherds absolutely love spending time with their owners, so they would do great with an individual who can bring their dog to work. Being bred for high stamina, it can sometimes take a lot to tucker out these dogs, so be sure to switch it up and not let your Shepherd get bored! Go to the dog park one day, a hike the next, etc. It is also very important to give your German Shepherd mentally stimulating activities or problem-solving games as they are a fairly intelligent breed and are happiest when both their body and mind are tired.

 

The German Shepherd does require a lot of brushing to ensure his coat stays healthy and to help keep the fur off your couch! They have a thick double coat that sheds year round, a slicker brush is recommended for the German Shepherd to really get through that thick fur. Be sure to talk to your groomer before using the slicker brush, if used incorrectly it can scratch your dog’s skin. German Shepherds generally come in the black and tan colouring that you are probably most familiar seeing; but they can also come in many other colours such as all black, all white, or black and red.

 

The German Shepherd can get along great with young kids as well as other pets. Depending on their training and early socialization, most German Shepherds will get along with everyone and only a little standoffish with strangers. They do have protective instincts so they will act if they feel they or their family are being threatened.

 

The wonderful German Shepherd is one of the most recognisable breeds in the world. They can be a great family pet to an active family. Just as any dog breed, they need training and proper early socialization. The German Shepherd also requires lots of brushing (about 3-4 times a week). If you aren’t phased by all that brushing and are looking for a loving companion, the German Shepherd may be right for you!

Breed of the Week: Vizsla

vizsla

This week we are highlighting a Hungarian sporting dog with endless energy! The Vizsla (pronounced VEE-zh-lah) is a gentle companion, ready to go on any adventure with his owner!

 

The Vizsla is a lean, short-haired dog originating from Hungary in the 1800’s. Some Vizsla enthusiasts believe that the breed was actually created in the 9th century, it is more likely that this isn’t factual, there were many working breeds similar to the Vizsla around that time which is what creates the confusion on how old this breed is. There are several theories as to who are the ancestors of the Vizsla, the popular belief is that the Vizsla was created from the greyhound and Transylvanian hound dog. Also adding to the confusion of this breeds history is that ‘Vizsla’ in Hungarian means ‘Pointer’. So some references to the Vizsla from the 1800’s are actually referring to completely different pointer type dogs.

 

The way humans worked with dogs during the 1800’s was changing in that it was becoming less and less common to have one dog for locating game, another dog to hunt it, another dog to retrieve it. People were looking for efficient dogs that could do all of these tasks and for a wide variety of game (instead of just one or two kinds). Thus, the Vizsla was bred for these tasks, and did them all phenomenally. To add to the Vizsla’s already impressive resume, hunters were wanting this super dog to also be a great companion for the home. The Vizsla really was created with all of these amazing uses and desired traits in mind. At the same time that the Vizsla was becoming popular, Germany had begun creating breeds with the same traits in mind, such as the German long-haired pointer and the Weimeraner. Many Vizsla owners will tell you that the Vizsla is still the most affectionate of all the pointer type breeds to this day.

 

The Vizsla does not require much grooming at all. Regular nail clipping, making sure his teeth and ears stay clean is all you really need to take care of. The Vizsla does not shed too much, just small hairs that can be easily picked up with a roller brush.

 

The Vizsla is a highly active dog and would do better with a large backyard or wide open spaces as opposed to an apartment in the city. They require lots of exercise every day. Lucky for you, they typically get along great with other dogs and can play with their friends at the dog park all day. Being a working dog, Vizsla’s love to have a game with purpose such as fetch or Frisbee. But be sure that your Vizsla does not get possessive over toys. The intensity of some working dogs when not handled correctly can sometimes result in undesirable behaviours (such as protecting or getting aggressive over toys).

 

If you are lucky enough to be able to bring your dog to work every day, the Vizsla may just be the perfect dog for you! Vizsla owners will lovingly describe their Vizlas as ‘Velcro dogs’ as they never leave your side. When you have a Vizsla, you have an extra shadow. Be sure to play confidence building games with your Vizsla and to practise staying calm when coming or going as to not encourage separation anxiety. They generally get along great with strangers and are very gentle with kids. Just as with any breed, you should always socialize your dog early with other dogs, people and animals to help them be confident adult dogs.

 

The Vizsla is a very active dog who loves to go for a run then cuddle up with you on the couch. He will stick to you like Velcro and follow you everywhere you go. One of the most affectionate of the pointer-type breeds, the Vizsla is an amazing companion to the right owner/ family. Ideally they should go to a home with lots of space to run around so they can get out some of their endless energy. The Vizsla is an amazing dog that could win both athlete of the year as well as best cuddle buddy!

Winter Safety Tips for your Pup!

dog winter

Around this time of year we all get to enjoy some beautiful snowy scenery. When out and about with your pup in this chilly weather it is important to be prepared to make sure your pup doesn’t get too cold! We’ve assembled our winter safety tips list to help keep you and your pup having fun in the snow this winter!

 

Double Coat vs. Single Coat

First things first, figure out if your dog has a double coat or a single coat. Most spitz-type dogs or super fluffy looking dogs will have a double coat that better protects them from the cold and helps to insulate heat. Examples of some dog breeds with double coats are huskies, golden retrievers and bernese mountain dogs. If your dog has a single coat he can be more susceptible to frostbite in very cold temperatures. It would be a good idea to invest in a high quality winter coat for your dog if he has a single coat. If you are unsure what type of coat your dog has, you can look up his particular breed online, ask your groomer or ask your vet. Keep in mind, even some dogs with double coats may need a winter jacket before going outside in the cold. Use your best judgement when it comes to your dog. One example of a dog with a double coat that may still require a winter jacket is the Yorkshire terrier. Even though they have thick fur, their tiny bodies can’t withstand that cold wind for too long!

 

Paw Care

If you find your dog gets dry or cracked paws in the wintertime, it may be a good idea to invest in some dog booties for him! Dog booties (although may feel weird to your dog when first trying them) will help to protect your dogs paw pads from getting too cold as well as drying out too much. On the other side, if your dog has very furry feet, it would be wise to take a trip to the groomer to get them trimmed. Excessive hair on the feet and between the paw pads can get wet running in the snow all day and then quickly freeze, keeping that frosty ice on your dog’s feet. And when your dog comes in from the snowy backyard, be sure to wipe down his feet with a dry towel to help them warm up faster (and help prevent puddles in your house as any ice or snow melts!).

 

Walk in the Sunshine!

If you find your pooch is getting too chilly on your morning or evening walks, try adjusting your routine so that your walks are when the sun’s out! This will dramatically help keeping your pup warm. Like most of us, we have busy lives where we can’t adjust our schedules to walking the dog during daylight hours, so look around for some knowledgeable dog walkers who can take your dog out. This doesn’t mean you have to pay for a dog walker year round, most dog walkers are more than happy to accommodate seasonal clients. So when you get home from a long day at work, your dog has already been tired out (without getting too cold!) and will only need a quick bathroom break before bed.

 

It is so important to make sure you and your dog are prepped and ready before taking on this cold weather. With these helpful tips your dog is sure to stay snuggly warm!