February is Pet Dental Health Month. Here’s some tips on how to brush your dog’s teeth and other great doggie dental tips.
A DogGeek.com exclusive by Teresa Barker
We all need exercise to stay healthy, no matter what the weather forecast says, especially dogs! Here’s some indoor games you can play to get your pooch off the couch, get moving, and to keep him from being bored on dreary days.
- Hide and seek with favorite toys
This game may start with teaching your dog how to sit and stay. Start by having him sit and stay while you place a favorite toy (squeaky ones are a favorite in our house) where he can see it, but away from him (like across the room). Use your release word (ours is “OK”) and let him go fetch the toy, making sure to allow enough time to celebrate the reward of waiting patiently, by dancing around with his toy in his mouth. You can make this game more and more complicated, incrementally, by moving further and further away with the toy, around a corner, to another room, up a flight of stairs and eventually by hiding the toy in places where your dog could eventually find it. When hiding the toy, think about a child’s Easter egg hunt. Don’t make it too hard, you do want your dog to be successful, eventually!
- Keep Away
There are many variations on this game. With two people, you can simply toss a toy or ball back and forth to each other, letting your dog chase it in each direction. We’ve even gone as far as to use tennis rackets and a tennis ball in the garage, for greater distance. Be sure to “accidentally” drop the ball once in a while, to keep your dog a part of the game.
- Agility Training
You can get very creative at home with simple props, like a hula hoop. Start by using a piece of kibble to coax your dog to walk through the hoop, as it rests on the floor. Once your dog is used to walking through the hoop on ground level, lift it off the ground one inch at time. By the end of a very rainy week, you might have your pal leaping through the hoop a couple of feet off the ground!
- Puzzles and Toys
There are many treat-dispensing and puzzle toys on the market for dogs now. These toys are mentally challenging, requiring your dogs to ‘figure out’ how to get the treat out from it’s hiding spot. Look for sturdy toys that will withstand heavy chewing.
A hallway with doors closed makes for a perfect runway for a game of fetch. A straight stairwell does, too. Use a plush ball or toy to avoid the ball going in all directions and to get the most distance out of running to fetch.
Mental exercise, as well as physical exercise, is an important part of your dog’s health. It’s fun, relieves boredom, and can be extremely bonding for the both of you!
All pets can get hypothermia in cold weather but short haired, young/old, skinny and diabetic dogs are more susceptible. Look for the following signs if you think your dog might be suffering.
- Shallow, slow breathing
- Excessive whining & shivering
- Dilated blood vessels
- Low body temperature
- Drop in pulse
- Drop in blood pressure
- Death occurs eventually
If your dog shows any of these signs get them to the veterinarian right away.
A DogGeek.com exclusive by Teresa Barker
Keeping your dog’s ears free from moisture and bacteria is an important step in your regular grooming schedule. During hot summer months, and swimming season, you might be checking and cleaning your dog’s ears weekly or even daily. Think of your dog’s ears as a hot and moist petri dish for bacteria to flourish and grow. Think that’s gross? Try taking a whiff of the waxy brown stuff that you clean out. Yuck!
Here’s a few tips to keeping your dog’s ears clean.
- Check Them Daily
This is the most important aspect of keeping your dog’s ears clean and healthy. It doesn’t take long (a few days) for a little moisture to grow into a full blown problem. Your dog might scratch at his ears, causing infection and another problem to add to the list.
- Keep Them Dry
Moisture is usually the culprit. Simply swabbing inside of your dog’s ears with a cotton ball daily can help absorb anything moisture that crept in. It will also indicate if there is a need to clean deeper.
- Trim Hair Growing into the Ear.
Especially important for harrier breeds, poodles and terriers. Hair can trap moisture and result in helping the petri dish environment flourish.
- Use a Soft Cloth Wrapped Over Your Index Finger as a Swabber
Gently wipe inside of your dog’s ears. Diluted tea tree oil applied to the cloth is a wonderful antibacterial that will help prevent future build up.
Shaking of the head and scratching of the ears is NOT normal for dogs. If you see your dog exhibiting this kind of behavior, inspect thoroughly, as ear infections are extremely uncomfortable and can eventually lead to deafness. Also, remember, the more often you clean and check your dog’s ears, the less gross the job is!
A DogGeek.com exclusive by Teresa Barker
In order to be healthy, whether human or canine, one must do regular grooming. Dogs, not unlike teenagers, may need a little gentle coaxing, but will benefit greatly from simple at-home regular grooming. The more often you groom, the more conditioned they get to the treatment (literally and figuratively!), so start early and lather, rinse and repeat often.
- Brush your dog’s fur.
This seems like a simple step, but it’s important. Many dogs simply love the attention that regular gentle brushing gives them. Dogs with undercoats benefit greatly by regular brushing, especially in the spring and summer when they are shedding their winter fur. Brushing a dog is not unlike brushing your own head, in that it helps spread natural oils and loosens up dirt or debris. This is also a great time to check for fleas/ticks and to see if your dog has any tender areas that may need to be checked out by a vet.
- Bathe them regularly.
Scrub-a-dub-dub and get the dog in the tub! Dogs roll in the grass and dirt, play in the bushes, dig in the mud and lay on the ground. All that dirty play has an effect on your dog’s coat. Fur is like a sponge and regular bathing can keep dirt from building up, which might lead to irritated skin and excessive scratching. Make sure the water is lukewarm and always use a gentle hypo-allergenic natural dog wash. Dogs have varying levels of enthusiasm for bath time, so you might want to do tip #3 (trim your dog’s nails) before hopping into the tub.
- Trim your dog’s nails.
Long nails on dogs can cause them unnecessary pain. A good pair of nail trimmers with a safety guard can help you feel confident that you won’t accidentally cut into their quick (a vein that runs partially into the nail) and regular leg massages will keep them relaxed when you handle their feet. If you’ve never trimmed a dog’s nails, have your vet show you the safe and easy way, because your gentle confidence will make the experience smooth and fast for your dog as well.
- Brush your dog’s teeth.
Yuck mouth doesn’t just stink, it’s unhealthy! You can use a gentle children’s toothbrush or a special brush designed for a dog. Brushing at least 2 times a week will keep periodontal disease at bay, which in turn will keep your dog around longer. Just don’t try to achieve that Colgate smile and avoid using human toothpaste. There are many affordable dog dental products on the market that are safe to swallow, and taste good too!
- Clean your dog’s ears.
Ears are a fantastic environment for bacteria to breed. They are cavernous, dark and often moist. It’s important to check your dog’s ears regularly to see that they are dry and clean and not irritated. After bathing or swimming, gently but thoroughly dry the inside of your dog’s ears to make sure no moisture is left. Diluted apple cider vinegar applied to a cotton ball is an easy weekly maintenance cleaning and works as a natural antiseptic. Dogs with big floppy ears are especially prone to ear mites and bacteria growth, so be sure to check them out frequently.
Grooming your dog at home is a great way to bond with your pooch. They love the personal attention and adding one or two things a week will take you no time at all. A clean dog is a healthy dog and is much more likely to get hugs and kisses than a stinky dog. If all else fails, there are plenty of professionals who groom dogs for a living and you can find one at: https://www.doggeek.com/dog-groomers/ where you can make regular spa appointments if you need a little help. Remember, cleanliness is next to Dogliness!
The new year is upon us and it’s time to make those annual changes that we always strive to make, the resolutions. This year, why not make it a little more fun and invite someone to join you? You know you always do better when you the motivation of another person! So this year, instead of going at it alone, bring along your best friend, I know they won’t let you down. Here’s some New Year’s resolutions for you and your dog to try:
- Loose a little weight. As the saying goes, if you have a fat dog, then you’re not getting enough exercise. You know your dog would go for a walk if you just asked. Take that walk around the block or a few miles, your choice.
- Watch your calories and stop munching. Just like you, your dog’s diet most likely isn’t the best in the world. It’s not their fault, they just eat what you put down. Look for foods for both of you that don’t have a ton of preservatives or additives in them. The fresher the better. And watch that portion control.
- Make new friends. If you have a social dog, get them out to the dog park to interact with others. Who knows, you may meet a few new friends too.
- Pamper yourself and dog a little. Enjoy life! Make yourself a spa appointment and get that massage you’ve been wanting. While you’re at it, get a spa day for your best friend too. Make an appointment at the dog groomer. Although they may act like the don’t like baths, a clean dog is a happy dog. When they are matted it can be uncomfortable and unhealthy for them.
- Learn some new tricks. Both you and your dog can benefit from dog training. It strengthens the bond and cuts down on the frustration.
Happy New Year from all of us at DogGeek.com!