FitPaws Exercise Demonstration – Step Up

FitPaws step up image
FitPaws are Happy Paws!

I thought I’d share some of my FitPAWS exercises with you! Mom needs to get one of those iPhone tripods so she can photograph me while supporting me, but we thought we’d go ahead and get started!

This is a step up from the FitPAWS Disc to the FitPAWS Donut. It elongates my back and give me a good stretch, while improving my muscle tone. We do some rotations that go about 5-8 minutes every day.

You can learn more about FitPAWS in my blog post FitPAWS for your Dog’s Fitness.

If you want to try FitPAWS, you can get a 15% discount at FitPAWSUSA with my special Barking Princess friends and followers code 18A-AMBTBP

 

 

 

FitPaws for Your Dog’s Fitness

 

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FitPaws is a great way to build your relationship with your dog while improving his fitness.

Are you looking for ways to improve your dog’s fitness, core conditioning and balance?  FitPaws is a great tool to add to your dog’s fitness and conditioning regime.

What is FitPaws?  It’s canine conditioning and rehabilitation equipment.  FitPaws helps develop confidence, body awareness, strength, balance and coordination. Their inflatable platforms such as their discs, pods, peanuts and donuts are fun ways for your dog to improve his fitness.

The equipment is used by dog trainers and rehabilitation professionals as well as many pet parents who want to offer an additional way to help their dogs whether they are getting ready for the show ring, are recovering from an injury or just want to get in better overall shape.

Improving balance and stability is important for dogs of all ages, from puppies who are just starting to develop their coordination, to senior dogs that might have lost some of the strength they had in their earlier years.  The more your dog improves his balance and stability, the more body awareness he will have.

The amount of time your dog will need on FitPaws varies from dog to dog.  Some dogs tire after 5 minutes and other can go for 15 minutes. The key is to not over-do the exercises, but to do them regularly and in short increments. Some of the balance work is more about endurance than repetitions.  A few minutes of balancing on a K9Fitbone goes a long way!  Working together through the exercises is also a great way for you to build your relationship and communication with your dog.

You will use treats to encourage your dog to go through the movements, so be sure to select something that is high value but not too high in calories.  Lamb or bison lung are great treats because they can be broken into small pieces and both have a lot of air so the calorie content is low.

We worked one on one with a rehabilitation expert who introduced us to FitPaws, but you can learn all the moves you need by watching some FitPaws videos online.   It’s important that your dog be closely supervised when using the equipment.  It’s not play-equipment, but truly exercise and rehabilitation tools that can greatly enhance your relationship with your dog while improving his fitness and well being.

As a Barking Princess reader, I’m able to share a special discount code  with you.  Use discount code 18A-AMBTBP  at checkout for 15% off any regular priced equipment.  Please note, it can’t be used on kits that are already discounted, sale items, apparel or third party products.

FitPaws are happy paws!!

CBD Oil for Dogs – relief for pain and anxiety

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CBD oil is beneficial for dogs with joint stiffness or anxiety.

Have you been curious about giving your dog CBD oil? Cannabidiol oil (CBD) is becoming a popular supplement for dogs who experience anxiety or who suffer from inflammation caused by any number of things, including arthritis.

Cannabidiol is a natural compound found in the hemp plant that is very beneficial to both humans and dogs.  When CBD enters the body, it activates the  endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is a biological system made up of neurotransmitters that bind to receptors that are involved in a variety of processes including pain sensation, mood and memory.

In case you were wondering, hemp comes from the same Cannabis family as marijuana but they are two different plants.  Marijuana has high amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive constituent of cannabis, from about 5-35% and low amounts of CBD, which is the opposite hemp which has very low THC (less than 0.3%) and high amounts of CBD.  CBD does not have any intoxicating effects like those caused by THC.

Not all hemp oils are created equal.  Here are a few helpful tips in finding a product that is right for your dog.

  • In order to be effective, it’s best to choose a full spectrum cannabidiol, not an isolate.
  • Be sure the manufacturer you choose use third party lab testing for quality and potency.
  • Make sure the manufacturer uses a supplier who farms organically.
  • Also find out how the oil is extracted from the plant.  Never chose a company that uses butane or ethanol as a distraction solvent. Vapor distillation seems to be the best process.

There are a lot of manufacturers out there, but a few of the companies we like are Pet.Releaf and Healthy Hemp.

CBD oil can be very helpful to help your dog if he is suffering from car anxiety, fear of fireworks, motion sickness and tension.  It can also be very helpful to alleviate pain associated with arthritis.

Personally, I have tried CBD oil for my dog who experiences car anxiety.  I’ve tried every product on the market over the years and nothing was working.  CBD was one more thing to at least try and I am very happy to say it seems to be working!  I administer the recommended dosage amount about 30 minutes before we get in the car and she is much calmer while we are traveling.  I was worried about CBD oil because I didn’t want her to feel lethargic or too relaxed or seemingly depressed.  I’m pleased to say none of those things take place.  She is much happier on our road trips which makes everyone in the car happier too.

Our holistic veterinarian recommends cannabidiol as well as our rehabilitation professional.  They have both have told me of their experiences seeing dogs who have less stiffness and pain from arthritis and less anxiety when they are taking CBD oil.

 

What is in your dog’s food?

What is in your pet's food image
                What is in your pet’s food?

Do you know what is in your dog’s food and how to read his food label? If you had a pet during the 2007 terrifying pet food recall, you probably started being a lot more aware of the short comings of the pet food industry.  Many people checked to see if their dog’s food was manufactured by one of the companies in question and then quite possibly with relief simply moved on if they confirmed their dog’s food was not being recalled.

It was not too long later we went through the chicken jerky recall.  We thought we were buying something safe only to find dogs were getting sick and dying again because of what they were being fed.  Then we took note to not buy chicken jerky that had been produced in China and started looking for the label Made in the USA.

But what about beyond that? Can kibble ever be a good choice for your dog?  What about the mainstream foods we find at PetSmart and Petco or the new frozen products? One of the most important things you can do for your dog is to provide a wholesome species appropriate diet.  What that looks like can vary from person to person, depending on several things.  You owe it to your dog to learn how to read the label and actually read it. Make sure your dog’s food is void of corn, wheat and soy.  These are ingredients that your dog doesn’t need and that can hurt him.  There is an abundance of overweight and diabetic dogs in our society in a large part, due to what they are eating.

Make sure the first ingredient on your dog’s food label is a whole meat such as beef, chicken, lamb or turkey.  Avoid foods that have a chicken by-product or chicken meal as the first ingredient. Sometimes this is also labeled as poultry by-product meal (PBM).  Animal by-products are what is left of a slaughtered animal after the parts intended for human consumption have been removed. By all means avoid foods that have a grain such corn as the first ingredient.

The pet food industry has a long way to go on implementing appropriate regulations that ensure what you are buying is safe for your dog.  There are a handful of corporations that make most of the brands you see on the shelf at the big box stores.  It’s a big money industry that doesn’t want to spend profits on studies that will force them to purchase more expensive ingredients.

If you want to feed a raw diet but aren’t sure where to start, there are several smaller companies that put your pet’s health first who offer frozen, freeze-dried and dehydrated options.  Ideally it is best to have the least amount of heat possible in the manufacturing process.

Also if you haven’t already seen the documentary Pet Fooled, featuring the acclaimed holistic veterinarians Karen Becker and Barbara Royal, be sure to watch it.  You can rent or buy it on iTunes or watch on NetFlix.

 

May I Pet Your Dog? – Preventing Dog Bites

 

 

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Not every dog wants to be pet at any given time. Watch for the signals that say it’s okay to pet me.

 

“May I pet your dog”  – This simple phrase is important not only to teach children, but to remember yourself.  All too often people approach dogs, who look so innocent, and just reach out and pet them without asking.  As a pet parent, you might have had this happen as your heart stops as a stranger reaches out before you have a chance to say “wait”. You panic that all will be okay and your dog will not nip or bite.  If only people would give a moment of respect, and ask before approaching, so many bites and nips could be prevented.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of dogs who have always been so well behaved and then one day they bite someone. Preventing dog bites is easy with these simple steps:

  • Teach children to never run up to a dog and just start hugging him or reaching out. This is a recipe for disaster in many situations. Dogs get scared of people suddenly entering his territory and can respond in less than friendly ways.
  • Always ask “May I pet your dog?”. In response someone might say “he’s pretty shy, so no, I don’t think you should today”. Be sure to respect that.  They are telling you “no” for a reason.  If a dog is alone, it’s always best to not just reach out and pet him.
  • If the pet parent says, “yes, you may pet him”, approach slowly and calmly with your arm stretch out in a fist so the dog can first sniff the back of your hand. If you see any teeth, bulging of eyes or firming up of the dog’s body, just bring your hand back and don’t proceed to pet.

Signs a dog is okay to pet include:

  • Wagging tail
  • Tail turned up, not tucked in
  • Dog approaching you and wanting to lick or lean into you

Signs a dog does not want to be pet include:

  • Bulging eyes with the whites showing
  • Snarled up snout
  • Teeth showing
  • Tail tucked in

It’s also important to remember that a dog who is in his parent’s arms being carried, or perhaps sitting in a shopping cart going around at the store, is often in “protective mode”, so it’s especially important to ask before petting in these situations.

The Yellow Dog Project – If you see a dog wearing a yellow ribbon or bandana tied to his leash, this is to let you know that particular dog likes to have his space and should not be approached. It’s a trend that some pet parents have taken on, but not everyone knows about.  It definitely does not mean if the dog does not have a yellow ribbon or bandana on, it’s safe to approach, but if does definitely mean that if you see a dog wearing one, let him have his space and if you are walking another dog, do not take your dog up to sniff him.  The pet parent is letting you know this dog likes to protect his territory.

Service dogs should not be approached while they are working.  They have a job to do and as tempting as it may be to ask if you can pet one, you should respect that they have a job to do and leave them to do it.

There are a variety of reasons a dog might not want to be pet, so don’t take it personally or think he’s a bad dog.  It’s possible the dog is older and has aches and pains, he could be feeling protective or perhaps just not feeling all that great that day, or he might just not enjoy being pet by someone, whether he knows them or not.

Socializing your dog when he is a puppy, or going through a Canine Good Citizen Course, at any age, will help your dog be more approachable. Your dog will learn how to interact with a variety of humans and other dogs, which will set him up for success.  But remember, even with the best socialization and training, observing and respecting signals is the only true way to prevent a bite.

 

 

How much exercise does my dog need?

Dog Agility Jump Photo
Agility is a great activity where you and your dog work together.

We all know that exercise is vital to keeping our bodies fit and functioning as they should.  The same goes for your dog, but you might be wondering just how much exercise does my dog need? As a minimum, dogs need 30 minutes a day of physical exercise. The intensity of exercise varies depending on health, age and breed. Dogs who were bred for working activities, such as Labrador Retrievers and Border Collies, need up to 2 hours of exercise a day.

Exercise helps your dog keep unnecessary weight off, keeps his metabolism working as it should and keeps his muscles tones and his mind engaged.  Dogs that don’t get enough physical activity often turn to destructive behaviors. There is truth is the old adage, “a tired dog is a good dog”. Keep your dog engaged and pay attention to his signals.

If you have a smaller dog or a senior dog, a casual walk through the neighborhood might be enough activity, but don’t forget to switch it up a bit and occasionally go down a different street or go to the park.  Dogs get bored, just like you, so keep it fresh, but regular.

Here are some activities, beyond just a walk in the park, that you might want to try with your dog. Check in your area to see what groups exist so you and your dog can learn one of these sports.

  • Agility – This is a wonderful way to build your relationship and communication with your dog.It keeps you talking to each other and keeps your dog’s mind and body engaged.
  • Fly Ball – For dogs that are “ball motivated”, this is a great way of getting intense exercise that is fun and builds confidence.
  • Lure Coursing – This is a very intense exercise for dogs with loads of energy that are “prey driven”.
  • Nose Work -Sometimes mellow, sometimes intense, but for dogs who have a good nose, it keeps their minds engaged and keeps their bodies moving.
  • Rally – This a great way for you and your dog to work together on obedience and keep moving at the same time.
  • Swimming – If you are lucky enough to have a canine aquatic center near you, this is an unbeatable way for your dog to stay fit without any impact on his joints.It’s great exercise for any dog and a wonderful way to rehabilitee a dog with injuries or compromised joints.
  • Freestyle Dancing – Yes, you can take up dancing with your dog! It’s a fun way to build your relationship, keep both of you moving and work on obedience at the same time.

Every dog is different so it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about how much and how intense the exercise should be, but don’t bypass this important and boding activity with your dog.

OH No, Not the Cough!!! Kennel Cough and Your Dog

Oh no, your dog is suddenly coughing and sneezing!  The infamous kennel cough or canine cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that your dog can get from a virus or bacteria.  It can cause inflammation and irritation in your dog’s throat and lungs.

Similar to how we catch a cold when we are in an environment where someone has been sneezing and coughing, your dog can catch kennel cough the same way.  He can also catch it from direct contact with something another dog was touching or mouthing at another dog in play.

While it’s extremely rare for kennel cough to be life threating, you will want to do all you can to guard against it.  Your dog is especially at risk if he frequents places where other dogs go, such as doggie daycare, boarding, training classes, or dog parks.

The vaccine your vet will give your dog as a preventative for kennel cough is Bordetella.  It’s given either through the nose or an injection. The vaccine lasts a year, but the parainfluenza part takes about 3 weeks to be effective.  You’ll want to make sure you plan accordingly if your dog is going to be visiting boarding or daycare.  Many facilities require the Bordetella vaccine every 6 months, so be sure to check with your particular facility.  The frequency of how often Bordetella is given is really based on your dog’s lifestyle.  If he goes to boarding or daycare regularly, every 6 months is recommended.

The incubation period for kennel cough is anywhere from 3-10 days after exposure.  Someone else’s dog might have the virus and not yet be showing symptoms and then that dog passes it to your dog.  That’s why vaccinating is so important.

It’s also important to understand there are many different strands of the virus which means your dog might receive a vaccine and still get sick, just like how we can have a flu shot and still get the flu.

When choosing a doggy daycare or boarding facility it’s important to understand how important the ventilation system plays into your dog’s health.  Choose a facility with a good HVAC system, which greatly enhances the circulation of the building, keeping the air moving helps with preventing kennel cough and other viral infections.

Changing cleaning products on a regular rotation basis also helps to combat the virus so the environment does not grow to accustomed to one product.  Make sure the  facility is cleaned twice a day and the yards are power washed to help insure your dog gets a fresh environment, free from anything that could harm him.

If despite taking all the preventative measures, your dog still comes down with the cough, don’t despair. It’s easily treated with antibiotics from your vet and your dog will be better and back to his social lifestyle soon. To soothe his throat, you might also want to consider essential oils used in a cold air diffuser.  Eucalyptus Radiata is very gentle and could be helpful to your dog. Be sure to keep your dog at home and away from other dogs so the virus does not spread and also advise your doggy daycare if your dog has been a recent guest.  That way they can make sure to do a deep clean of the environment to help insure the safety of other guests and stop the spread.

 

Gentle Leaders May Not Be So Gentle – A Better Way to Stop the Pulling

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Loose leash walking makes going for walks an enjoyable and bonding experience.

One of the first things pet parents do when they find their dog is taking them for a walk (or maybe a run is the more appropriate word as the pet parent is being pulled down the street) is to go to the store and buy head collar such as the Gentle Leader or Halti.  A head collar fits over the dog’s muzzle, very much the same idea as a horse halter. The head collar is attached to a leash underneath the muzzle.  As the dog moves forward, once he has reached the end of his leash, pressure is applied and as a result the dog stops pulling.

Some people really like the head collar as an alternative to prong collars, Martingales or choke chains, but it is potentially very harmful to your dog. Worn as suggested, the collar fits pretty snug, holding the muzzle shut and there is a lot of pressure at the top of the muzzle just under the dog’s eyes.  A Halti works much the same way as the Gentle Leader but has an extra strap that is supposed to help keep the strap from pulling into the eyes.  With either product, when a dog is running forward and reaches the end of the leash, his head is snapped to the side which discourages the pulling. Between the pressure and snapping his head to the side, the pain gets the dog to stop the behavior, but in the meantime some serious neck injury could occur.

When you see the muzzle of a dog that has been wearing a head collar for years, you can often see where the bone has become concave from the wear of pressure applied.  Also, it’s not uncommon to see dogs who wear a Gentle Leader or Halti with fur that is worn all the way off at the top of their muzzle at the pressure point.  Can you tell we are not fans of the head collar?

So what is the best way to control pulling?  Work with your dog and teach him to not pull.  With a little training your dog can learn loose leash walking and heeling.   With both, your dog should stay next to you (or at least not too far ahead),  matching the your direction and speed.  These methods are the only reliable way of stopping a dog from pulling.  With positive reinforcement, patience and regular practice, he will walk calmly beside you, not taking you for a walk, but walking together.

What’s Causing my Dog’s Diarrhea? A Look at Coccidia and Giardia in Dogs

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Standing bodies of water can harbor giardia.

There are many different things that could cause your dog’s loose stool, from eating too many liver treats or too much dairy, to just not quite feeling right, but before if the issue goes on more than a day or two, make sure you are able to rule out Coccidia and Giardia.

Coccidia and Giardia are both single celled organisms (not worms) that live in the intestinal tracts of dogs and cats.  Puppies and dogs that are ill or stressed are more susceptible to the parasites. They can cause diarrhea that can lead to possible dehydration if not treated.  Thankfully both are easy to treat but do require a visit to the veterinarian and a prescription.

How does my dog contract the parasites?

The most common way of contracting the parasites is by ingesting feces that is infected with either the mature parasite or the cysts, which are the eggs of the parasite.  The cysts can survive in a cool and humid environment, like what we get on cool spring days.  Giardia can also be contracted through drinking from water that is exposed to feces (puddles, streams) or that another dog with Giardia has been drinking from.  The parasites can also be ingested when your dog groom himself to get dirt that could be infected off his paws.

Coccidia is often passed from mother to puppy if the mother is shedding infected feces.  Young puppies don’t have immunity to fight off Coccidia, so the organisms can reproduce in great numbers.  Most puppies that get Coccidia are between 4- 12 weeks old.  If your puppy is in this age group and gets diarrhea be sure to talk to your vet. Coccidiosis is very contagious especially among young puppies, so be sure to take precautions.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom is diarrhea.  In Giardia, the stool can range from mildly soft to quite runny and watery or even bloody.  Coccidia can be asymptomatic in mature dogs but can cause very watery diarrhea with or without blood in puppies.  For dogs that are experiencing diarrhea, they can also appear weak from the dehydration.  Remember dehydration is serious issue.  Be sure to take your dog to the vet if you notice any sudden changes in your dog’s stool.

How is it diagnosed?

Your vet will need a stool sample and will conduct an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test.  The stool is examined under a microscope to see if any parasites are visible.  The diagnosis is simple and treatment takes 1-3 weeks.  During treatment, but sure to keep your dog clean, especially and his hind quarters to prevent re-infection.

How do I prevent my dog from contracting it?

Always provide clean drinking water for your dog.  Keep your yard clean and keep an eye on your dog when you are out for walks.  Don’t let him drink from any suspect water sources and make sure he’s not ingesting things he finds on the roadside.  If your dog contracts the parasite and has diarrhea inside the house, clean the soiled area with boiling water or a 10% ammonia solution.

Can I get either parasite from my dog?

It’s very rare for a human to get Giardia or Coccidia from a dog.  Humans can get Giardia, but the type the infects humans is different from the type that infects dogs and cats.  Same goes for Coccidia. The type of Coccidia your dog is most likely to get is not transferable to humans.

 

 

Does your dog show signs of separation anxiety?

Does your dog go a little too crazy when you are away?  It could be a sign of separation anxiety.  We all want our dogs to be jumping with joy whenever they see us because it makes us feel loved and important.  But if the stress of you being away is causing problems, it’s time to address what is really going on inside your dog’s head.

Dogs are pack animals and they want the pack to stay together.  If you notice your dog gets carried away whenever someone enters or leaves the pack, there’s a good chance your dog experiences separation anxiety while you are away. Dogs have very extreme emotions around the importance of the pack.  Togetherness is how they sense security and the ways things should be.

Here are of the things your dog might do if he’s experiencing separation anxiety:

  • Chewing on the furniture
  • Crying or barking excessively
  • Digging or trying to escape
  • Marking the house excessively with urine or poop
  • Pacing the floor

To help your dog adapt to the fact that you need to leave the house, the first thing you will want to do is eliminate the drama around you leaving.  No long goodbyes and a million kisses before you depart.  Try to make your coming and going nonchalant without any emotion of sadness or overjoy.  Your goal is to desensitize your departures and arrivals so your dog sees them as neutral.  Try ignoring your dog for about 15 minutes before you leave the house as well as after you get home. No high voiced “hello” when you walk through the door.  Just be neutral and calm.  Pretty soon your dog will see that your absences are nothing to get worried about.

Try offering a distraction for your dog to think about when you leave.  Treat dispensing balls are a great way to get your dog to associate your leaving with something positive.

Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise during the day.  Most dogs require at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.  If it’s too hard for you to fit that into your routine, consider taking your dog to a doggie daycare at least a few days a week.   Doggie daycare also offers your dog a way to be a part of a secondary pack, which eliminates anxiety of being alone.

Some dogs respond well to having watching DogTV, a cable TV channel available by subscription.  The channel was designed to help dogs overcome loneliness, anxiety and depression. They play calming music and show images of puppies and nature and things your dog loves.

You can also try music that was designed specifically for dogs.  iCalm Pet offers a music player for you to leave on while you are away.  You can also find plenty of albums on iTunes and Spotify. There is also an All Dog Radio available at www.woofswoofs.com.  You could also just try playing some calming classical music or spa/meditation music.

Keeping your dog happy when you are home is also an important part of overcoming separation anxiety.  Take a class together, keep your dog’s mind engaged and keep him active.  A tired dog is a happy dog.

There are various calming herbs, collars, dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) plug-ins and medications that some dogs might need, but try behavior related solutions first.  If they don’t work, Adaptil plug-in diffusers are a good thing to try next, then the collars, then perhaps an herb or calming treat your vet recommends.  Use a medication only as a last resort.

Doggie Daycare could very well be a solution that works best for your dog.  It’s a great way to keep your dog engaged, allow him to feel part of another pack while you are gone, your house stays clean and unharmed and your dog gets his daily dose of exercise.  It’s not the only solution, but it is one that works for many.