Importance of Keeping Your Dog’s Ears Clean

flapping ears

We all know how important it is to keep our own ears clean to prevent things like infections or hearing loss. It is just as important that we keep our dogs ears clean! We want to make sure our dogs stay happy and healthy; one way to do so is by keeping their ears free of potentially harmful dirt and germs!

 

Unless you have a very talented dog, it’s likely that he can’t keep his own ears clean. So it is up to you to take a look in his ears every so often to make sure there’s no junk or signs of irritation. Dogs (especially ones with long floppy ears) are bound to get dirt, mud, grass, etc., in their ears at some point. Most of it flies out when the dog shakes his head, but to ensure it’s clean, have him sit down for you so you can take a good look in his ears. You want to look out for dirt, excess build-up of ear wax, anything lodged in the ear, redness or lots of scratches.

 

The most noticeable signs if your dog’s ears are really bothering him are excessively shaking his head, leaning his head to one side, scratching the ear excessively and whining or whimpering when someone touches the ear. If you notice any of these signs, it is best to have your vet take a look at the ears as these symptoms generally don’t show up until an infection has taken place and needs antibiotics. To ensure it doesn’t get to the point of infection, you want to use vet approved dog ear wipes to wipe the outside area of your dog’s ears (don’t try to force it too deep in the ear!), this should be done every other day or so.

 

Be aware that the tools we use to clean our ears should never ever be used on your dog’s ears. Q-tips can easily damage delicate areas in your dog’s ear. It is best to have your vet show you how to properly wipe your dog’s ears so that you are gentle but also effective at remove excess dirt or wax. Your vet will likely recommend pet wipes using all natural ingredients so it will help soothe your dog’s ears and not irritate them with harsh chemicals.

 

So when your dog is rolling in the grass and getting his ears dirty, you can worry a bit less now that you know what signs and symptoms of ear irritation to watch out for. With daily ear checks and as needed ear cleanings with pet safe wipes, you dog will have sparkling clean ears!

Breed of the Week: English Toy Spaniel

english toy spaniel

Meet our cute and affectionate featured breed of the week, the English Toy Spaniel. This breed loves spending time playing and cuddling with their owner and rarely leave their side. They can be surprisingly reserved with strangers as they are very picky about who they give their affection to. One of the typically quieter toy breeds, the English Toy Spaniel can be a great addition to almost any family and living space.

 

For a breed that’s been around for so many years, it’s amazing how well-documented their history is. During the 16th century, ‘exotic’ type lapdogs were all the rage. During this time, the English Toy Spaniel was developed with it’s immediate ancestors being the Pekingese and Japanese Chin. Many artists during the 16th century loved painting the English Toy Spaniel with their very easy-going personality, they aren’t your typically high-energy small dog and generally prefer to just lounge around most of the day (making it much easier to paint!). This breed goes by many other unofficial names such as Toy Spaniel, King Charles Spaniel (different from the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and ‘Charlies’ (after King Charles I and II who both favoured this breed).

 

‘Charlies’ are not high-energy dogs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t speedy! Although they prefer to lounge around, they absolutely love to chase things that move fast. If a butterfly happens to catch your Toy Spaniel’s attention, they’re off on the hunt in a second! They can get along well other pets and young kids as long as they’ve been introduced early and well-socialized. English Toy Spaniels can be goofballs and have tons of affection to give, but they are very picky who deserves their affection. You will find this breed likes to pick favourites amongst the people he meets and only those people will see the Toy Spaniels more outgoing side.

 

English Toy Spaniels are great dogs for first time owners. They are fairly easy to train (albeit a little stubborn at times) and will really work hard to please the people they are bonded to. They don’t require much exercise, but are also more than willing to go on a hike with you! Anything you are planning for the day, the Toy Spaniel wants to come with you! They do well in almost any living situation, they are small enough for apartment living and are very adaptable dogs. They only thing they don’t adapt well to is being left home alone all day as they crave attention from their favoured human companion.

 

This breed needs a lot of maintenance to keep looking their best. With their short muzzles, their faces are perfect places to gather up dirt and debris, so it will need to be wiped daily and after romping around in the garden! They need to be brushed about twice a week to prevent matting in their hair. They should go to the groomer for hair trimming once every 2-3 months. Especially in colder weather, when the hair on their feet and legs gets too long, water will freeze on that fur and can contribute to frostbite. In hot weather, the same area of fur can develop tangles covered in mud and dirt and be very uncomfortable and cause skin irritation if the hair is not kept trimmed.

 

‘Charlies’ can be a perfect companion dog for a first time owner, especially for people living on their own as English Toy Spaniels like to pick one person to give all their love to. With their easy-going and gentle nature, they are great company to bring to pet-friendly offices. They rarely bark and prefer and slower, quieter lifestyle. If you’re looking for an adaptable and loving small dog, consider the distinguished and sweet natured English Toy Spaniel!

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!

Dogs and Thunderstorm Anxiety

dog watching storm

If you’ve owned several dogs in your lifetime, chances are you’ve seen firsthand dog anxiety during a thunderstorm. It is very common for dogs to experience nervousness with the big noisy thunder and flashes of lightning, it can be scary! But just because it’s fairly common, doesn’t mean your pup has to be scared of thunderstorms anymore!

 

If your pooch suffers from anxiety during thunderstorms, it’s important to first look at any other issues or anxiety your pup may have. Often times, a small issue like anxiety during thunderstorms, is linked to a much bigger issue. Does your dog get enough exercise during the day? Does he have enough mental stimulation? Do you practise bonding exercises with him? Does he show anxiety during any other times? Does he suffer from separation anxiety? These are just some examples of questions you will need to ask yourself before addressing your dog’s anxiety. If we aren’t asking these questions and only seek out to solve this one problem, your dog may still have issues in other areas in his life that could be linked to the thunderstorm nervousness; and it will be much harder to calm him down during thunderstorms if these other issues aren’t addressed.

 

The cause of anxiety can be drastically different in every dog. Maybe your dog hasn’t had enough mental stimulation and so he is all ‘pent up’ when the thunderstorm starts, resulting in shaking, barking, hiding, etc. If you are having trouble identifying the underlying cause of your dog’s behaviour, look up a dog behaviourist for advice.

 

The signs of anxiety in your dog during a thunderstorm can vary, but commonly panting, barking, whining, hiding, drooling, and/or dilated pupils.

 

With most behavioural issues in dogs, the answer is often ‘desensitization’. Meaning the dog is slowly introduced in a positive manner to the thing, place or person that they have an undesirable reaction to. With lots of time and patience, the dog learns to be calm in the presence of the previously reactive item.

 

Unfortunately, storms are a special case as it is difficult to truly mimic a thunderstorm in the sense of a dog. Not only are they picking up on the thunder and lighting, they also hear the changes in the wind and changes in the barometric pressure (this is why dogs can often sense when a storm is coming). So it is even more important when it comes to thunderstorm anxiety, to investigate if your dog is fulfilled in other areas of his life (such as physical and mental stimulation, training, bonding with dogs and humans, etc.) With these other areas of his life fulfilled, you will see a dramatic difference in your dog during the storm.

 

What else can you do to help your dog during the storm? With all of your dogs needs being met, he may still show a few signs of anxiety during the storm. Some quick fixes for this are the ‘thundershirt’, a clothing item for your dog to wear that has antic-static lining and fits snugly on your dog to mimic the feeling of being swaddled. Make sure during the storm that everyone in the house stays calm, don’t over react or anticipate your dog to freak out as he will feed off that and often freak out more. If your dog has extreme anxiety and you’ve consulted a dog behaviourist, you may want to speak with your vet about homeopathic remedies to help calm down your dog. But remember, any quick fixes will not solve any underlying problems or truly help your dog to learn to calm himself down without your help. Your dog depends on you to not only protect him, but also to teach and guide him how to calm down without depending on or waiting for you to be there.

 

Ways Your Dog Says ‘I Love You’

dog heart

It’s pretty easy to see when humans are showing their love or affection for one another, kissing, hugging, hand-holding, etc. But do you know all the little ways your dog tells you he loves you? You may be surprised to learn some of the almost unnoticeable ways your dog is saying ‘I love you’.

 

Yawning (When You Yawn)

When humans yawn from seeing another human yawn we often think ‘yawns are contagious’; but really, it is a sign of sympathy. When you are more attached to the person who is yawning, you are more likely to also feel the urge to yawn as you are unconsciously showing sympathy for the person. Crazy thing is, dogs do the same thing! Recent studies have shown that the more bonded the dog is to the person who is yawning, the more likely they are to yawning. Of course, we also know that yawning in dogs can also be a sign of anxiety or anticipation, so be sure to analyze the situation if your dog is nervous, excited to go somewhere, or just taking the time to say ‘I love you’!

 

Wiggling Their Eyebrows

 

According to the Behavioural Processes Journal, a Japanese Study revealed that dogs are likely to wiggle or raise their eyebrows when they are reunited with someone they like! In the study, dogs were observed when exposed to various toys, strangers and their owner. The results showed that there was unpredictable movement towards the toys and strangers, but consistently dogs would move their left eyebrow in some way whenever they saw their owner! When studied further and discovered that dogs often have the same reaction to other dogs that they know well, this tells us that dogs moving their left eyebrow definitely has a correlation to the relationship they feel they have with the person or dog.

Wanting to Sleep Near You

Whether sleeping on your bed or in his own dog bed near your bed, dogs want to sleep near someone they feel close to and trust. In dog world, sleep is a very vulnerable state, this is why most wild dogs or wolves will sleep in a pack as there is safety in numbers. But you will rarely find a dog sleeping near someone they don’t trust. In their eyes, the safest place to sleep is with you because you are their protector, and they love you for it! It’s a huge compliment when a dog trusts you enough to sleep close to you and definitely shows their love.

 

These are only some of the ways our furry companions tell us they love us. And every dog is different, so your dog may have even more cute ways that he says he loves you that we haven’t discovered yet!

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!