Wednesday, June 13, 2018

How Having a Dog can Benefit Your Health

Dogs have been long-loved for being mans best friend and now according to recent studies, we’ve just gained another reason to love our fur-friends! It has been suggested that dogs can boost our health in numerous ways – here are 5 ways having a dog can make you happier and healthier!

dog and owner #1

1. Reduced Stress

There’s a reason therapy dogs are so effective: spending just a few minutes with a pet can lower anxiety and blood pressure, and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, two neurochemicals that play big roles in calmness and well-being. People performing stressful tasks do better when there’s a dog around, too.

dog and owner #2

2. Companionship

We can feel incredibly strong emotional ties to our pets; they are our friends; our confidantes and they never judge our transgressions. People who find social interaction difficult may build valuable relationships with an animal. Having a dog may provide people with a sense of purpose and security which can be crucial to fighting mental health issues such as depression as well as providing routine.
This kind of interaction is good for all of us and is really powerful for older people experiencing loneliness and other difficulties.

dog and owner #3

3. Increased Social Interaction

Pets create opportunities for better social interaction, especially if you join an animal club or attend pet shows. Going to pet-friendly events, beaches or parks can also help increase your social network. You could make new friends just by taking your dog for a walk or waiting at the vet, due to the shared interest in your pets.
As we age, it becomes harder to get out and meet people – apparently not for dog owners. Researchers have found that about 40 percent of dog owners make friends more easily, possibly because the vast majority speak with other dog owners during walks and park visits.

dog and owner #4

4. Improved Fitness Levels

Health experts recommend that adults get about 2 hours and 30 minutes’ worth of moderate exercise per week. A past study suggests that dog owners are more inclined to spend more time outdoors walking as they enjoy spending time with their dogs. This time spent walking your dog can not only be used to bond with your fur-friend but also improve your fitness and make the most of the outdoors to help you further develop mindfulness and relaxation.
Furthermore, it has been noted that older adults who walked dogs experienced “lower body mass index, fewer activities of daily living limitations, fewer doctor visits, and more frequent moderate and vigorous exercise.”

dog and owner #5

5. Improved Heart Health

Dogs don’t just fill your heart; they actually make it stronger. Studies show that having a canine companion is linked to lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels, which contribute to better overall cardiovascular health and fewer heart attacks. Furthermore, dog owners who do have heart attacks have better survival rates following the events.

dog and owner #6

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Vet’s Guide to Bringing a New Puppy Home

Bringing a new puppy home is always exciting for both you and your new fur-friend — but it can also be stressful, especially in the early days. After all, you’re all learning to live with each other and adapt to life as a family. You’ll find yourself juggling sleep schedules and potty training, while your puppy will be letting go of their familiar securities and established relationships. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to help your puppy settle into their new life and help them feel safe and happy in their new surroundings.

Most puppies are highly adaptable and will adjust in time. However, you can make the process faster and smoother by creating a soothing environment for your puppy. Through this article we explain the 5 best ways to navigate this transition.


Puppy – Proof the House

Unlike adult dogs, puppies usually don't know any better. They don't understand the harm that follows some of their actions, which is why you should ensure your house is puppy – proof before bringing your new fur-friend home. Ensure every potentially dangerous obstacle is removed or put in a safer location. Fences and security gates should be put into place and anything they can chew on should be hidden. This will allow your new pup to explore their new environment safely.


Create their Space

Puppies should always have a place they can go to and call their own. This space will let them rest when they need to and get away from the action. Usually, dog owners use a crate, bed or an entire room – however, this should be based on what suits you best. The kitchen is often a popular location as the flooring is easy to clean and it is near their food and water. Regardless of the location, this space should be maintained thought their lives to provide constancy and security. When first bringing your puppy home, show them their new space – bed and toys included – and over time you will find they will naturally gravitate to this location.


Let them Settle In

Moving to a new environment can be stressful for any animal. Studies show that it can take a dog 10 to 14 day to get acclimated to their new surroundings. Therefore, giving them time to settle in and explore their surrounding is ideal. Your new fur-friend will want time to get used to everyday life, the people, animals and new sights and smells in their new home – make sure you let them do this on their own terms so they can settle in properly. It takes time but being patient with your new family member is important and will pay off in the future. The goal is to make this new place familiar to your new pet and to let them know that they're safe and loved.


Keep them Social

A great way to help your new pup adjust to their life change is by properly socialising them. One of the most important thing you need to do is to show your new family member a lot of attention, especially within the first few days. Puppies need that socialisation to develop proper skills. This can make the difference between a dog who is cautious and fearful, and a dog who is confident and relaxed. 

Socialising your puppy does not guarantee that they won't have any behavioral problems later in life, but it creates an important foundation you can continue to build on as they grow. The prime window for puppy socialisation is up to 12 weeks of age, but this period can extend to as long as 16 weeks. To successfully socialise your puppy, you need to provide them with a variety of experiences.

Furthermore, if you already have other pets, it's important to introduce the animals to each other carefully. This can be a bit daunting, especially if the other animal is a cat or larger dog. When first bringing them home avoid putting them in the same room immediately as they need time to adapt and get used to one another's scent.


Start Training Almost Immediately

Chances are, your new pup isn’t as well trained as you’d hoped. Puppies are not housebroken and don’t understand verbal commands just yet. Therefore, it’s important to start the training process as early on as possible. Be consistent from the start and only allow behaviours that you will be okay with when they are an adult. Reward your puppy for the behaviours you want while redirecting them away from or managing the situation to prevent unwanted behaviours. 
Furthermore, puppy class offers another opportunity to socialise your dog and to practice good behavior. Enroll in a puppy class that relies on positive reinforcement training methods and allows for supervised puppy play.

If a behavioral problem is evident, get help early rather than waiting for it to get better on its own. The sooner a problem is addressed, the better.



Monday, April 23, 2018

Here's Why Your Dog Snores

Tired of trying to block out your dogs snoring? Like people, dogs sometimes snore and just like people, it can be quite annoying having to listen to it. Through this article we explain the main reasons your fur-friend is probably snoring along with some tips to help decrease their snoring efforts.

5 Common Causes of Snoring

Sleeping Position
Does your dog sleep on their back? If so they are more likely to end up snoring. Approximately 5-10% of dogs sleep with their bellies up, and it’s a position that’s associated with snoring in dogs and humans alike. When dogs lie on their back to sleep the base of their tongue can fall back into their throat, blocking air from getting into their passageways.

Their Breed
Any amount of restricted airflow can cause snoring in dogs, and some breeds are more susceptible than others. Dogs with short noses (brachycephalic breeds) such as Pugs, Bulldogs & Boston Terriers are more prone to snoring than other dogs due to their short air passage. Their upper respiratory anatomy is abnormally short, which can frequently lead to airway obstructions.

Weight
Being overweight is one of the common causes for snoring in humans, and it’s true for dogs too. Extra weight leads to extra tissue, and any extra tissue around the nose and throat can narrow their airway, leading to restricted air flow and snoring.

Allergies
Dogs that have allergies may be more prone to snoring due to airway restriction and congestion. If you have allergies you know how bad congestion can get, and how breathing through your nose itself can become difficult. Allergens can cause mucus buildup and airway restriction, both of which increase the likelihood of snoring.

Secondhand Smoke
Need another reason to stop smoking? Just like with humans, secondhand smoke can cause respiratory issues and snoring in dogs by irritating the lungs and airways. Secondhand smoke can damage your dog’s respiratory system, leading to bronchitis, asthma and snoring.

Tips for Minimizing Snoring

For dogs that aren’t pre-dispositioned to snoring (i.e. breed type) there are a few helpful, yet sometimes obvious, tips available to decrease their snoring
  • Attempt to alter your dog’s sleeping posture or their bed or bedding. An elevated head might reduce snoring, so giving your dog a pillow might help.
  • Keep your dog on a regular exercise regimen so they’ll maintain proper weight. If your fur-friend is already overweight it’s a good idea to watch how much you feed them and to ensure enough exercise, not just for snoring sake.
  • If your dog’s snoring is caused by allergens, clean their bedding daily. Time outdoor walks for when the pollen levels and auto traffic is low. Run the vacuum cleaner on a regular basis and eliminate dust in rugs and curtains. It could also be beneficial to find out what it is that your pup is allergic to.
  • A tad bit obvious but, don’t smoke around your dog. Try, where possible, to maintain a smoke-free household and ensure your fur-friend isn’t around when you need to take a smoke break.
Just remember that snoring is a symptom, not an illness. If your dog has only suddenly started snoring, or if they’re experiencing interrupted sleep have them checked out by your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues. However, if your pup is just the snoring type, we hope this article has helped you out!


Monday, April 9, 2018

How to Own a Cat when You Have Allergies

Have you always wanted to have a cat of your own but your allergies are stopping you?

It’s not nice when your nose starts to run, your eyes begin to itch and you cannot help but sneeze whenever you are around a cat.

You may even have more serious allergies, and not ever be able to overcome them. 

However, if you find you have only a mild allergy to cats, there may be ways you can help to control your allergies.

Let us give you some tips on how you could minimise and/or overcome your allergies so that you can own that kitty you have always wanted!

(Please note: This article is only for educational purposes only and should not be followed as a substitute for personal care. If you have serious allergies, information from this article should not be taken into account. Be sure to check with a doctor before coming in contact with cats if you have serious allergies or asthma.)


hand patting cat




Rid Other Allergens in Your Home


If you are wanting to get a cat of your own, you should first try to get rid of as many allergens in your home as possible. This includes, mites, dust and mould.  Cleaning spots in your home regularly that are prone to quick dust build up will help you to minimise allergies. In addition to this, trading out some furniture and decor in your home maybe just be the solution to helping you with your allergies. 

Airborne allergies including cat dander will cling to soft materials, such as rugs, fabric covered furniture and curtains. If possible, try to eliminate or replace soft materials in your home.

Scented candles and air fresheners can also make your allergies play up, so consider replacing these too.




lounge room cat sitting on window


Allergy Treatment

There are treatments and natural remedies that can help control allergies. Animal hair and dander allergy relief is available to help with, sneezing, watery eyes, itching and congestion if these are some of the allergy symptoms you have when around cats.

If you are serious about getting a kitty companion, look into allergy reliefs to help you get used to having a cat around all the time.


woman sitting on couch blowing nose



Visit Friends with Cats

If you have friends with cats, then ask them if you are allowed to come around to meet and play with them. This will allow you to get up and personal with a cat, however only on a limited basis. 

Ask your friend what time their cat is fed so that you can meet them after when they are in a relaxed mindset. Greet the cat with your hand and wait until they have sniffed you so that you can pat them. 

Start with just some petting and just being in the environment. Eventually, if you think your allergies will let you, allow the kitty to sit on your lap if they want too. If needed, take allergy reliefs before and or after seeing the cat.

cat sitting on table





Visit your Local Animal Shelter

If you have followed all the above steps and think you have built up your resistance through gradual exposure, then it’s time to visit your local animal shelter. 

Take your time in finding the right cat for you. It may even take a few trips to the shelter. If needed, you may also need to take allergy relief remedies before visiting the shelter.



cat at shelter




Cleaning and Care

Once you finally have your kitty, there are some procedures you should keep in mind to help you further with your allergies. One of the biggest recommendations is to keep your cat out of your bedroom and off your bed. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary from all allergens. You don’t want to be having restless nights due to allergens in your room caused by your cats. 

As said above, it is also good to keep dust collector areas clean. Regularly cleaning these areas can help to minimise your allergies. Vacuuming rugs, dusty corners, window sills and furniture is a must. 

You may also want to keep other areas of your home and cat free zone. Keep your cat to specific areas may be hard but can help you control which areas you need to clean more regularly and allows you to have more allergy free areas if it is needed.

Wash your hands immediately after, playing with or patting your cat. This will ensure you do not accidentally rub cat hair into sensitive allergy areas such as your eyes and nose.

Finally, keep you new kitty clean! Cleaning your cat, via brushing or bathing them regularly can help eliminate the amount of cat allergen that is released into the air.


cat sleeping on bed



Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Could Your Dog Have Social Anxiety?

Do you find that your dog experiences anxiety or fear in social situations like going to the park, walking through crowds, or even visiting your friends' homes? Chances are, your dog suffers with some form of social anxiety. Proper socialization is essential for all dogs and failure to do so can often result in your fur-friend facing crippling social anxiety, fear and sometimes even aggression. 

Anxious dog

The Cause of Social Anxiety

Usually, social anxiety is common in dogs who have received inadequate socialisation during the critical stages of development. These dogs are typically rescue dogs from puppy mills, stray dogs or dogs rescued from neglected situations. Although, sometimes, dogs facing social anxiety may just have had little to no interaction with other animals or humans during the early stages of their life. When you take this type of animal and put him in a social setting, he may feel trapped and cornered. This often results in one of two things; fear aggression or to withdraw from their surroundings.

group of dogs

How to Prevent Social Anxiety

The best way to prevent social anxiety within your fur-friends is through socialisation, ideally before 16 weeks of age. There is a window between 8 and 16 weeks where the dog is curious about their environment and open to new experiences. After about 16 weeks, the window closes and the dog begins to fear the unknown. The more people, places, animals and things they are exposed to before 16 weeks, the less unknown there will be. While it is important for a puppy to experience as much as possible it is important to keep them safe and out of harm’s way.

Dog interacting

What to do if Your Dog Already has Social Anxiety

If your dog already has social anxiety, there are ways to overcome this and greatly improve their quality of life. You’ll need to move slowly to build their confidence and social skills, but you will get there eventually. Begin by letting your dog meet one person at a time. Let your dog initiate contact. Be sure that your dog has a safe retreat they can go to if they feel overwhelmed. Reward them in the calm moments. The higher the anxiety in the dog, the better the treat will have to be. Be sure not to comfort them when they are fearful though, as this can reinforce the fearful behaviour rather than help them overcome it. Through steady exposure, you should notice that your dog is relaxing more, as things become more familiar.
Just remember your dog may never completely learn to love being out in busy areas. However, they can learn to tolerate them if they can associate outings with the "good part" at the end.

Teaching the dog

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Why Dogs Shed & How to Reduce it

Shedding can be frustrating for all dog owners, no matter how much we love our dogs. All dogs shed to some degree, with the exception of completely hairless dogs. Commonly, there are three types of shedding; year-round, seasonal and health.


Dog laying down

Year-Round Shedding

All animals with hair shed on a regular bases, therefore causing year-round shedding. Most shedding is the loss of the undercoat, with some regular loss of fur. Normal shedding will occur year round, and will be visible on your clothes, sofa, and around the house.
Dogs such as Poodles and Yorkshire Terriers, with continuously growing hair, have hair shafts with longer life spans and shed very little. Whereas dogs like Labradors and Huskies have a shorter hair shaft life span and more abundant undercoats, resulting in greater shedding year-round.


Long & short haired dog breeds

Seasonal Shedding

Seasonal shedding occurs with some breeds, usually in the spring, but may also happen in autumn. Seasonal shedding occurs evenly across the whole body, and will happen every year on a cycle. This process is sometimes called "blowing coat." When the weather warms, dogs shed their old winter undercoats to make way for a lighter summer coat. This type of shedding is typical among cold weather breeds like Huskies.

Husky - cold climate dogs

Health

Your dog's health may also affect shedding rate, so it is important to take note of unexplained excessive shedding. Skin problems, endocrine diseases, nutritional or vitamin deficiencies, and other metabolic disorders can cause hair loss or change the rate of hair growth. Any noticeable differences in your pets shedding rate is a good sign to contact your local veterinarian.


Sick dog

How to Control Shedding

Excess shedding can be difficult to manage as pet hair tends to clings to furniture and upholstery around the house. As a dog owner, you have probably come to terms with the fact that regular housecleaning is the norm, especially during shedding season. 

Routine grooming is a great way to manage your dogs yearly and seasonal shedding, along with more frequent baths during the summer months. This will help you rinse off the dead hair from your pet’s body, which will significantly reduce the number of hair floating around the house. Furthermore, keeping onto of cleaning will prevent the hair from embedding itself into furniture and upholstery; ultimately making it easier to manage and clean. 


Dog getting a bath

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

5 Dog Myths - Busted!

Call them what you want, but these 5 myths are anything but fact! Some of these sayings about dogs have been around for centuries, but in reality many are simple myths or bad advice. We have found, and debunked, 5 of the most common myths about your dogs!

dog reading

Myth #1: Dogs eat grass only if they are sick

It's true that dogs will often throw up after eating a lot of grass. However, this does not mean they ate that grass to induce vomiting, or that it is somehow a sign of illness. Most recent research indicates that quite simply put, dogs just like to eat grass. Enough grass in the stomach can create minor irritation and quite simply put, cause the dog to vomit. If the grass is treated with chemicals, only then it could be hazardous to your pet. Some vets do believe that dogs will intentionally consume large amounts of grass to induce vomiting if they feel unwell or have consumed something toxic, but this should not be consistent behaviour. 

If grass-eating has led to chronic vomiting in your dog, you should probably keep him away from the grass and visit

Dog on grass

Myth #2: A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth

Most of us have probably heard this at some point in our lives when a dog gives us a big slobbery kiss. “Don't worry about it! Didn't you know that a dog's mouth is cleaner than yours?”

This idea is thought to originally come from the fact that dogs lick their wounds and sometimes heal faster because of it – giving the idea that dogs have clean mouths. In reality, if a wound heals faster after a dog licks it, that's because his rough tongue has been removing dead tissue and stimulating circulation.  In summary a dog's mouth contains plenty of germs. Think about the stuff your dog eats off the ground, out of the trash and the things he licks off of himself. Many dogs do not get their teeth brushed as regularly as people either, so there is the dental tartar build up and bacteria to also consider. Overall, a dog's mouth contains more germs than anyone wants to think about. But luckily these germs are usually dog-specific and unlikely to cause any harm to us.

smiling dog

Myth #3: A wagging tail means a happy dog

Tail wagging has been associated with happy dogs for so long it's hard to say how this generalization began; however it’s only sometimes true. This common misconception could lead to an unfortunate dog bite in some cases.  Yes, happy dogs wag their tails—but so do aggressive, agitated or anxious ones. Dog body language is much more involved than just setting the tail to on or off. Gaze, posture, facial expression, and ear position blend with the tail cues to create a range of expressions. Rather than looking just at the tail, it is best to pay attention to a dog's overall body language to determine its mood.

Happy dog

Myth #4: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

Although this has to be the oldest myth about dogs, it is still not true as age is not a determining factor for tricks or training. People tend to notice that their older dogs have less interest in new activities and are less responsive to training; however, many older dogs may suffer limited hearing or vision that prevents them from learning or following commands as easily as they used to. When training an older dog, you first need to be able to get their attention. You also need to make sure the activity is not too physically demanding for them. Keep it interesting with their favourite toys or treats and remember your fur-friend is not the young pup they once were.

dog sniffing hand

Myth #5: Warm, dry noses are a sign of sickness

“My dog's nose is warm and dry. Does that mean he's sick?”

This is probably the biggest dog health myth around. Somewhere along the line, people came to the conclusion that a cold, wet nose is a sign of a healthy dog and a warm or dry nose is a sign of illness.
If your dog has a dry nose it means your dog has a dry nose, case closed. Dry nose has nothing to do with a dog's health. The temperature and moisture of your dog's nose are not miracle measurements of their health. For instance, a dog's nose is often dry and/or warm if they have just woken up, and this is perfectly normal. Unless their nose is persistently dry and crusted, focus on unusual behaviours from your dog to detect signs of a potential problem. 



Dog nose