If you're afflicted with cynophobia, a pathological fear of dogs, chances are that, at one time or another, some well-meaning person has advised you to remain calm and "don't let him see you're afraid." Of course, that's easier said than done, when your heart is racing and cold sweat is trickling down the back of your neck due to the fact that you're standing within lunging range of a Rottweiler … or a Yorkshire terrier.
Nevertheless, that advice does raise some interesting questions: When dogs look at a trembling, panicky human, what do they see? Do they sense your terror, and if so, does it influence their behavior toward you? Does your fear of dogs make dogs more or less likely to bite you?
Questions like these likely have perplexed humans since the first wolves started hanging around the fire hoping for scraps of our ancestors' roasted mammoth dinner. But since mammoth times, compared to many other species, dogs have done pretty well for themselves in terms of adapting to human society and coexisting with us. They fill an endless variety of roles, including animal herder, hunter's assistant, burglar alarm, guide for the visually impaired, loyal companion and playmate for children.
According to psychologist Stanley Coren, author of the book "How Dogs Think," canines' versatility and ability to interact with humans has convinced some people -- for example, the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Diogenes -- that dogs have almost humanlike minds and moral sensibilities. Not everyone is convinced of such powers, however. For example, 17th-century French mathematician, philosopher and scientist Descartes dismissed dogs as soulless biological automatons, incapable of thinking, who respond to environmental stimuli by reflex.
In recent years, however, scientific research has shown that while dogs aren't quite the noble sages the ancient Greeks perceived them to be, they're closer in intelligence and perception skills to humans and other primates than previously thought. According to Coren, a dog can comprehend human speech and can have a vocabulary of more than 150 words, is able to solve complex problems, and even is capable of willfully tricking another dog. Moreover, evidence shows that canines study humans for cues and have some ability to interpret nuances like facial expressions. Researchers at Japan's Azabu University, for example, have been able to train canine subjects to differentiate between a smile and a blank expression in photographs of human faces. If a dog can identify a smile, it's not that much of a stretch to assume that it can pick up on the clenched teeth and wide eyes of a frightened person, not to mention changes in posture and gait.
But some canine experts think that even if you manage to keep a placid face and remain still while you're terrified, a dog will still be able to detect your fear. That's because humans, like other animals, experience physiological changes, like changes in breathing rate and perspiration, as a result of the flight-or-fight response. In particular, we involuntarily give off chemicals called pheromones when we're alarmed. Because a dog's sense of smell is thousands of times more sensitive than ours, most likely a dog can detect those chemicals, says Alexandra Horowitz, author of "Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know."
But if you're worried about a nearby canine sinking its teeth into you, what you're really wondering is this: If a dog senses you're afraid, is it more likely to attack you? There doesn't seem to be much evidence that a dog's perception of a person's fear is a significant trigger for an attack. What really matters is whether the dog is afraid of you or is anxious in general.
A 2007 study of incidents in which children were bitten by dogs, published in the journal Injury Prevention, found that dogs most often bit children when they perceived a threat to their territory, food or other resources, such as toys. In addition, children who were noisy and made unpredictable movements were at greater risk of being bitten. When the aggressive animals were examined, about half of them had medical conditions, such as skin or bone disorders, which tend to cause anxiety in dogs -- and thus, make them more likely to feel the urge to protect themselves.
If your typically fastidious cat is ditching the litter box and peeing just about everywhere else in the house, it can easily become a problem for pet parents. Between the constant cleaning and the strong smell, a cat that is not using the litter box properly can be a source of frustration. But why do cats pee outside of the box and what can you do about it? Here are some common causes of litter box problems.
Health problems might be causing your cat to pee outside of the litter box, says Dr. Cathy Lund of City Kitty, a feline-only veterinary practice in Providence, Rhode Island. This behavior could be the result of a urinary tract infection, kidney disease, or diabetes. Other health problems that are painful or simply make your cat feel “off” also could be to blame. For example, an older cat with severe arthritis might have trouble getting into a box with high sides or a cover, says Lund.
“Anything that changes a cat’s feeling of well being can create a change in behavior, and in cats that means litter box habit changes,” she says.
With that in mind, the first step for any litter box problem is to consult your vet, says Dr. Neil Marrinan of the Old Lyme Veterinary Hospital in Connecticut. “Simple blood and urine tests can exclude most medical causes,” he says.
An Unclean Litter Box
“I use the analogy of a Porta Potty,” Lund says. Who wants to use one of those when it is dirty, and you can smell it before you see it, she says. The same is true for litter boxes. If you are lax in keeping the litter box clean, your cats will find somewhere else to go.
Marrinan agrees that the litter box “experience” is almost always a reason for cats peeing outside of the box—even when a medical issue is present. “The trick is making the litter box the first and only place they go—regardless of why they started to pee elsewhere,” he says.
To keep your litter box clean, it’s important to scoop the litter every day—or multiple times a day if you have multiple cats in your home. Refresh the litter and do a deep cleaning of the box every few weeks. Keep in mind that the feline sense of smell is much stronger than ours, so a box that seems “clean enough” to you might still smell disgusting to your cat. This is especially true in multiple cat households. Smelling your own waste is one thing, being forced into close proximity to someone else’s is an entirely different problem.
A Hard to Reach Litter Box
In addition to litter box cleanliness, the placement of the box could cause your cat to “go” elsewhere. A box that is in a basement can be a problem for an older cat that has trouble with stairs or her eyesight, Lund says.
In addition, the box should be in a relatively active area of the house. While pet parents often don’t want a litter box in the living room, removing it too far from social areas may make the box hard to find or unappealing to your cat. “Generally you want litter boxes that are out of traffic but not at the end of a scary, trappable tunnel,” says Marrinan. Along the same lines, litter boxes that are next to machines that make loud noises or odd vibrations—such as the spin cycle of the washing machine—can be a “no go zone” for cats.
Try placing the box in a nearby hallway, bathroom, or office with easy access to a garbage can. The proper litter box set up will offer your cat privacy and peace and quiet, but still be easy for your cat to find.
The Type of Litter
Pet parents have a variety of litters to choose from, but not every type of litter will work for every cat. Some clay litters, or litters made from corncobs or recycled newspaper may not “feel good on the foot,” says Lund.
Lund also notes that kittens learn what type of litter they prefer from their mothers at about three weeks old. So using a different litter than the one that was used when your cat was a kitten, or deciding to switch the type of litter your cat is used to, could be at the root of litter problems. Pet parents may have to try a few different types of litters to find the one that works best for their cats.
Multiple Pets in the Home
Peeing outside the litter box happens more frequently in a household with multiple cats, particularly if one is a bully who prevents another cat from getting to the box, Lund says. To address this, always have multiple litter boxes in your home and place them in multiple rooms, Lund advises.
If you have a timid cat in your home, be sure to devote a space and a litter box to her that other cats cannot access easily. Lund says you may also want to avoid covered litter boxes if you have multiple cats. Covered boxes may make some cats uneasy because they can’t see if another cat is coming in, she says.
Stress and Anxiety
Even in cases with an environmental or medical cause, the behavioral component remains a factor, Marrinan says.
An anxious cat might pee elsewhere as a way to relieve her anxiety because the smell of her own urine makes her feel safer, Lund says. Outdoor cats lingering in your yard may also cause stress for your cat—who might choose to pee near the front door as a possible response, Lund says. Cats use a special type of urinary behavior (spraying) to mark their territories, which they will do more when they feel stressed.
Getting to the Bottom of Litter Box Problem
Unfortunately for cat owners, there is no quick-fix solution to litter box problems, and each instance has to be addressed based on your cat and your home. “You really have to treat these things holistically and make sure you are covering all the bases,” Lund says.
If you are keeping your litter box clean and have it set up in an easy-to-access place with your cat’s favorite litter, make sure to consult with your veterinarian to rule out medical problems. If your cat’s health checks out, you may also want to call on a cat behaviorist to help you work through the litter box problems with your cat. With a little bit of time and energy, you’ll restore harmony to your home and stop your cat from peeing outside of the box.
So, you adopted a puppy. Congratulations! You’re in for a whirlwind few months of joy, excitement and love.
Unfortunately, like any new parent, you’re also in for some challenging nights while your puppy learns how to be alone and sleep through the night.
From the day your new pup comes home—whether she’s eight weeks or four months old—it’s up to you to set her up for successful nights. Mistakes in the beginning can haunt you for weeks to come. Luckily, our tips can help keep you on the right path!
Your puppy is much more likely to sleep through the night if they’ve been tired out during the day.
Even if your puppy is not yet allowed on walks because he hasn’t been fully vaccinated, it’s super important to provide him both mental and physical stimulation inside the home and, if you’re lucky enough to have one, in an enclosed yard.
Play with toys, chase each other around and work on training games. Outside, you can begin getting your puppy comfortable with a leash and walk them in laps around the property. Feed your dog from puzzle toys (instead of from a dog bowl) to engage their brains while they eat.
Take puppy out for a potty break right before bedtime.
Due to their development, puppies are typically unable to hold their urine for more than a few hours at a time. If they have the opportunity to do their business right before bedtime, you’ll have more time to rest before they need to potty again.
Make bedtime feel like bedtime.
When bedtime rolls around, make your home feel comfy-cozy. Dim the lights, put on some soft classical music, and give your puppy a soft nest to snuggle up in. Try including an item of your clothing in their bedding so your pup feels close to you.
Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) collars and diffusers release a calming pheromone (a synthetic version of the hormone released by a nursing mother dog) that can also help to soothe your puppy.
Decide where your puppy will sleep, and stick to it!
Choose your puppy’s overnight bed in advance. That way when they start whining and giving you the sad eyes, you’ll be less tempted to allow your pup to sleep with you.
If you let your puppy sleep with you in the beginning, you’re more likely to have a dog that sleeps with you all their life. There’s nothing wrong with sleeping with your dog, as long as you’re the one making the choice!
A crate or confinement space is better in the beginning.
Until your puppy has grown enough to be able to hold their bladder through the night, allowing them to sleep in your bed is likely to end in soggy sheets. If you don’t want to wake up in a wet spot, have your puppy spend the night in a crate or confinement space with a soft nest of bedding.
If you’re using a confinement space, you can put a potty pad next to puppy’s bed so they can potty in the middle of the night without waking you.
If your puppy sleeps in a crate, you’ll probably have to do a middle-of-the-night potty break.
Puppies simply cannot hold their urine for more than a few hours—physically, their bodies aren’t made for it. They also don’t like to be forced to sit or sleep in their own mess. These two things together mean that, if you’re crating your puppy overnight, you’ll probably have to get up in the middle of the night to let them out.
Unless you have a tiny breed, a good rule of thumb is that a pup can hold their bladder for about as many hours as they are months old (i.e., a three-month-old pup can hold it about three hours, a four-month-old about four hours). Just like children, they may be able to hold it a little longer overnight if they’re exhausted, but they’re still unlikely to make it all the way until morning.
If you take your pup for a potty break, stay calm and quiet and don’t engage in any play or excessive snuggles.
Don’t acknowledge whining and barking.
One of the fastest things a puppy can learn is that whining and barking brings you running. If they know that all they have to do is make some noise to get your attention, you’re never going to get a good night’s rest.
The first few days your pup is home, try ear plugs, white noise and other noise-cancelling options to block out whining and barking. In some cases, confining your dog in your bedroom may help to quiet your dog because they know that you are there.
Just like any new baby, when puppy is small and learning how to sleep through the night, she’s likely to be rejuvenated and full of energy first thing in the morning. Waking up early to take puppy for a potty break and give her some attention is a normal part of pet parenthood.
If you’d like to extend your sleep, try confining puppy in a larger space instead of a crate so she can potty without waking you. If that doesn’t work, see if your puppy is willing to let you sleep a little longer after a potty break if she gets to join the snuggles.
I grew up with a terrier mix named Caesar. He was a sweet, playful dog, but my favorite thing about him was that he loved bath time. I was used to washing cats who didn’t need, want, or like it (I am from a very boring town and had to invent ways to keep myself busy. Forgive me, kitties!), and Caesar’s unabashed enthusiasm for bathing was a refreshing change. As a result, he was the cleanest dog on the block.
For most dog owners, the issue is a bit more complicated, though. Whether it’s that your schedule is jam-packed, or your dog isn’t a fan of the bathtub, weekly baths are not likely to be on the calendar. But how often should you wash your dog? We asked around, and we’ve got some answers for you.
When They Smell Bad
I wash my dog when he rolls in poop,” said Meghan. “So, every 3-4 months.”
Added another friend, “When spring rolls around, Abby rolls around, too. I call it ‘doggy perfume season.’ She gets a lot of baths this time of year.” Another friend told me that her Australian cattle dog, Snickers, has aged into a certain…ripeness, to put it mildly.“I wash Snickers when her corpse-y musk gets overpowering,” Jenn told me. For some dogs (and their owners), the answer to “How often should I wash my dog?” is pretty darn simple. It’s when they get stinky.
The Short Answer: It Depends
But what about dogs less likely to roll in poop? What is the ideal bathing schedule for them? Well, it depends.
According to Dr. Erin Perrotti-Orcutt, how often your dog needs to be washed is decided by several factors. There are plenty of physical considerations, such as your dog’s skin and fur type, breed, and health. Dogs with thick undercoats will need more frequent bathing than shorthaired breeds, or dogs with sensitive skin.
Lifestyle is another important factor. “Before we had kids, we washed our two big, hairy dogs every week, with a creme rinse, also!’ Dr. Perrotti-Orcutt told me. “They looked, smelled, and felt delicious. Then we had kids and we all just got stinky.”
Daily Maintenance Is Key
To keep your pet’s coat clean and free of debris between baths, establish a routine of daily brushing. Regular brushing distributes natural oils evenly through their fur, and gives your dog a glossy, healthy appearance. Plus, it cuts down on shedding. For most dogs this should take about 5-10 minutes and can be worked into your walk routine.
An occasional wipe down can do wonders, and is a lot less time-intensive than a full bath.
Keep In Touch
One of the major benefits of washing your dog at home is that it helps you maintain familiarity with your dog’s body, so that if anything is amiss, you can catch it early.
When your dog is wet it’s easier to examine them for skin masses and parasites (fun!), which have the best prognosis with early intervention. If you prefer to outsource your dog-washing, use the same groomer consistently so that they’re familiar with your dog’s skin and can tell you if they notice anything out of place.
Okay, But How Often Should I Wash My Dog?
According to the ASPCA, your dog should be washed at least every three months, so, 3 or 4 times a year. The actual number may be higher if your dog is extremely hairy, or particularly enthusiastic about rolling in poop, but most dogs should be able to get by with quarterly baths. And that’s my final answer.
As in most things, what matters is what will work for you, your dog, and your family. Don’t sweat it if a little time passes between baths. Unless you’re bothered by the smell, or your dog is uncomfortable, it’s a-okay. If my informal survey is any indication, you’re in good company.
In fact, one friend informed me that she never washes her dogs at all, saying, “They just have a perfect doggy smell. We never feel the need!”
To each their own!
As anyone with a furry friend will already know, dogs are often inclined to follow their owners everywhere they go and to watch their every move, but there’s actually more to this behavior than meets the eye. “When dogs follow their owners, there can be several scientific explanations, depending on the dog and the individual situation,” says Mary Burch, PhD, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Director.
We tapped a few experts to find out the scientific reasons behind why your dog might be following you, how to recognize when this behavior has gone too far, and what to do if it has.
Why Your Dog Is Following You, Scientifically Speaking
If your dog follows you around constantly, you’ll likely either find it incredibly endearing or you’ll be tired of almost tripping over him all the time. Either way, it helps to understand some of the science behind why your dog might be constantly at your side.
Indeed, the science behind the companionship between humans and dogs is varied and vast. In fact, “research has confirmed that … the modern dog is actually better at understanding humans than even our most closely related primates,” said Oscar E. Chavez, DVM, a lecturer and adjunct faculty member at Cal Poly Pomona University.
How All This Following Benefits Your Dog
With all the time that your pet spends following you around, you might wonder if she’s actually getting anything good out of it. “The human/animal bond works both ways,” says Burch. “When a dog spends time with a person, the dog is likely to come in contact with reinforcement — things the dogs likes, like food rewards, petting, fun activities, and companionship.”
The time that your dog spends studying your every move also helps her to understand you better, says Chavez, which can help her better interpret the meaning behind your actions.
“Given all the research to support a unique adaption to understand human gestures, language, and tone, it’s no wonder that dogs often look like they are studying our movements,” he said. “They’re watching our every move to see if we give them clues as to our intentions, or to catch us communicating with them. In this way they could anticipate that it’s time for a walk, or see that you are getting ready to leave, or perhaps that it’s dinnertime. They’ve become the animal kingdom’s human language experts — both physical and spoken language.”
The Human Benefit
Humans also benefit from being close to a dog, says Burch. “A loving dog prevents loneliness, and when a dog wants to do things such as play and exercise, the person can benefit from the activity,” she said. “Dogs who want to be near us make us feel loved, and everyone can benefit from a healthy dose of unconditional love.”It’s not just your amorous feelings that improve when you’re around a dog, though. “Several studies have now shown that even brief interactions with dogs reduce anxiety and improve mood,” says Santos. “Dogs can also improve our health — they improve our heart health, keep us exercising more regularly, reduce stress, and even can help detect diseases like cancer.”
In addition, dogs’ uncanny ability to display understanding of our cues is the catalyst for our bonding to them, and may even be why we’ve evolved to where we are today. “As they saying goes, dogs are our ‘best friends’ because they understand us and we can communicate with them,” says Chavez. “Many researchers believe that it was this ability to understand our wants and wishes that helped humanity to thrive in the agricultural revolution. Without the dog, we may never have herded sheet or cattle, or worked entire fields. It is unlikely we would have been able to feed our growing populations. Without dogs, there may be no modern day.”
How to Tell if Your Dog’s Following Has Gone Too Far
While it’s healthy for a dog to look to his owner for commands and cues, it could be unhealthy when a dog cannot stop following or looking at his human. “This is especially concerning if the dog has chosen only one particular human to interact with and is fearful or avoids all other humans,” says Chavez. “In these cases, the dog may be improperly socialized with people, or might be overly bonded to one person. These dogs are at risk for developing social or separation anxiety, fear aggression, or other behavioral problems.”For example, Chavez works in an office where co-workers are allowed to bring their dogs in, and he remembers one in particular — Sneakers — who was exhibiting these signs. “Sneakers was extremely attached to his pet parent,” he said. “Over several months Sneakers would come in and sit next to Samantha’s station exclusively, and barely move or interact with anyone. We all knew not to look at Sneakers directly, as it could frighten him.”
After a while, Chavez and his co-workers started giving Sneakers treats any time he would venture away from his owner to explore. “This happened for a few weeks, and he kept getting rewarded for interacting for others,” Chavez said. “Today, Sneakers will jump up on certain laps and has become much better socialized. Patience, time, consistency, and some favorite treats help greatly.”
If you think your dog may be suffering from anxiety when you aren’t around, Burch recommends leaving an interactive toy to help divert your dog’s attention from your absence, or leaving a radio or television playing when you’re out of the house. If those distractions don’t work, you could try desensitization, a behavioral solution to separation problems.
“The owner should leave for a very short period of time, like seconds, then come back in the house,” she said. “Over many trials, the length of time the owner is gone is extended,” until hopefully your dog gets so used to the idea of you being gone, it no longer bothers him.
For extreme cases of separation anxiety, consult your veterinarian; a more targeted approach may be needed.
(Credit to Pet MD)
How to help your dog live a long and healthy life
1.Encourage a healthy dietDogs who eat less live longer. According to a 2011 study, dogs who were raised on a restricted-calorie diet—about 25% less than “normal” recommended amounts of food—lived an average of two years longer than dogs who were fed more.
Of course, you shouldn’t drastically reduce your dog’s caloric intake without consulting a vet, but this information supports the common-sense knowledge that a dog with a healthy weight is a dog with a longer life. Obese dogs are more likely to develop heart disease and debilitating joint problems, too.
The quality of the food you feed your dog matters as well. Research labels. Avoid generic “meat byproducts,” sugars, excess sodium, and unnecessary fillers. Look for whole ingredients and responsible sourcing practices from your dog food to help extend your dog’s health.
2. Exercise enables a healthy body
Diet isn’t the only way to help your dog stay in shape. Exercise is a key component to prolonging your dog’s life, and as an added bonus, it’ll help you live longer, too!
Exercise is proven to lower stress, increase endorphins, and balance mood and emotions in people and dogs alike. In addition to helping your dog maintain a healthy weight and muscle mass, and keeping her cardiovascular system in shape.
If you want to prolong her life, consider prolonging those evening walks, and maybe even kick it up to a jog. Better yet, let your dog romp off-leash with a canine friend or two: socialization with other dogs is another way to reduce her stress and improve her overall quality of life.
3. Keep her mind in shape, too
Like people, dogs thrive on mental stimulation to keep them happy. A bored dog can become depressed, anxious, and even ill. You can extend your dog’s life by keeping her busy. As she ages.
It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks: sign up for advanced obedience lessons, or try a dog sport like agility or lure coursing. Your dog will thrive with the added stimulation, and your bond will strengthen as you learn new skills together.
4. Don't forget to brush those teeth
Dental hygiene is an often-overlooked aspect of pet care. Many of us, myself included, simply forget to brush our dogs’ teeth on a regular basis. Unfortunately, poor oral hygiene can lead to plaque, gingivitis, and eventually periodontal disease, a bacterial infection of the mouth that has been linked to heart disease and organ damage in dogs.
The good news is, it’s not hard to keep your dog’s chompers in shape. Simply brush her teeth regularly, provide safe chew toys and dental treats, and have the vet check her teeth at annual visits. Learn more about dog dental health in our posts, How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth (and Keep All Your Fingers.
5. Follow your doctor’s orders
Even if your dog is the picture of health, she should visit the vet at least once a year for a general check-up, and twice a year as she enters old age.
Wellness exams are meant to “maintain optimal health,” and they provide a concrete record of your dog’s health history as she ages. They also give your vet the chance to spot potential problems early on, and a problem detected in its early stages is more likely to be treated and resolved successfully. Sticking to a regular preventative care routine will give your dog the best shot at a long, healthy life.
6. Remember to enjoy every moment with your Pet
The sad fact of dog parenthood is that people outlive pets, and there are no miracle products that will extend your dog’s life far beyond the natural lifespan of her breed. But with conscientious care, enrichment, and regular veterinary attention, you may be able to give her a few extra years.
Your time together is precious, so maintain healthy habits, keep your dog active in body and mind, and savor every minute.
We’re well into winter, and depending on where you live, chances are you’re bundling up to go outside. But what about your dog? How cold does it have to be for your dog to wear a jacket outside, or even to stay indoors on a winter day?
Just like humans, dogs’ cold-weather tolerance varies depending on their physical make-up, activity level, and health. Read on to learn how to tell if your your dog is warm enough, and for tips on how to keep your dog comfortable all winter long.
Consider your dog’s breed (and built-in coat)
Some dogs are built to withstand colder temperatures. Consider huskies: these double-coated sled dogs were bred to withstand serious snow. In general, thick-coated or long-haired dogs can handle handle colder temperatures. In addition, dogs with a little extra body fat may not get cold as quickly as thinner dogs. After all, fat is an effective insulator.
On the other hand, dogs with thinner coats and leaner frames need extra protection in winter. Greyhounds, for example, should always wear sweaters or coats in cold weather because their thin fur and low body fat make it difficult for them to regulate body temperature.
Believe it or not, height also plays a role in how your dog regulates temperature. Short-legged breeds like bassett hounds and corgis may get colder faster because their bodies are lower to the ground, and more likely to come in contact with the snow.
Age and health matter, too
In addition to breed and body composition, life stage and overall health make a difference in your dog’s winter warmth. Just like humans, very young and very old dogs have a harder time regulating body temperature than healthy dogs in the prime of their lives.
Some dog health- and age-related issues to consider in cold weather include:
In cold winter weather, it’s best to limit outside time for old dogs, young puppies, and sick dogs. That doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a quick romp in the snow! Just dress your dog in a coat and/or booties if needed, watch them carefully for signs of discomfort, and be ready to head indoors when it’s time for a warming break.
Check the weather
Protecting your dog from winter weather isn’t only about bundling up, but also knowing how to gauge outside conditions. If it’s so cold that you feel uncomfortable staying outside for more than a few minutes, it’s probably too cold for your dog, too.
Dogs may start to get chilly when the temperature dips below 50°F. Once temperatures drop to 32°F or lower, if your dogs is small, has a thin coat, and/or is very young, old, or ill, they should probably wear a coat. When it gets really cold, below 20°F, all dog owners should watch their dogs carefully, and perhaps limit outdoor time.
Of course, temperature isn’t the only indicator of weather conditions. When preparing your dog for winter weather, consider wind chill, dampness, and whether or not the sun is out. In addition, remember that physical activity can generate extra body heat. Active dogs may tolerate cold temperatures for longer than less-active dogs.
How to tell if your dog is too cold
Dogs can’t talk, so we don’t always know how they’re feeling. However, their body language and behavior typically lets us know if they feel cold. That’s why you should watch your dog closely when spending time outdoors during winter.
These are signs that your dog isn’t warm enough:
How to keep your dog warm through the winter
If you live in an area with extreme temperatures, chances are you have the experience and common sense needed to handle cold weather. If it’s too cold out for you, it’s likely too cold out for your dog unless they’re one of the hardy northern breeds.
The majority of dog winter safety comes down to common sense. Here are some additional tips for how to make sure your dog stays warm enough this winter:
A breath of fresh air can do wonders for both you and your pet. Outdoor activities not only provide exercise and mental stimulation, but also help curb bad behaviors by giving your furry friend a chance to release excess energy. So set aside the remote, step outside with your pet, and have some fun al fresco style - we've got plenty of ideas to get you started!
Organize a Play DatePlay dates are a great way for dogs to keep their socialization skills sharp. Find a dog park in your area to meet and greet with other pups, or if you have your own fenced-in yard, invite friends or family members over with their pets for an afternoon of backyard fun. Make sure to have plenty of water on hand along with bags to clean up after any messes, and keep a close eye on the group to make sure everyone plays nice. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Ning can also be a great resource for finding a doggie meet-up in your area, even ones based on specific breeds.
Get Active With an ActivityWhether it's in your own back yard or at a local dog park, you can up the outdoor ante with a game of Frisbee or fetch. Most dogs love to hunt and retrieve, and you can also use these types of games for training opportunities as well. If you don't have access to a confined space, consider biking with your pup. There are a number of leashes made specifically to attach safely to a bicycle - never try this by holding the leash in your hands while steering, as this practice is an accident waiting to happen. Start slowly and teach your dog to keep pace with a steady trot, and build up the distance gradually as well. You can also search for canine biking classes in your area.
Take a HikeEven if you take your dog on regular walks in your neighborhood, hitting the hiking trail can provide a challenging, refreshing change of scenery. You can vary between a leisurely or more intense pace and even mix up the length of your outings, from short stints to an all-day excursion. Before you head out, make sure your pup has adequate protection from ticks and fleas, pack enough water for both of you, and don't forget a collapsible bowl and a few treats for your pup. Need tips on tracking down a trail? Check out Hike With Your Dog for the most dog-friendly locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Visit an Outdoor CaféPet-friendly dining is becoming more and more popular with establishments that offer outdoor seating, from coffeehouses to full-fledged restaurants. If you have a well-behaved pooch, it can be a great opportunity to relax and bond. Make sure your dog relieves itself before settling in, and keep extra bags on hand just in case. Keep your pup out of the way of other diners and the wait staff, and attach the lease to your chair, not the table - your weight makes a much better anchor than plates can provide. Speaking of plates, feeding your pooch from your own is a big no-no - keep treats on hand instead. Dog Friendly provides a list of restaurants across the U.S. that welcome four-legged friends, but it's always a good idea to call ahead first and double check.
Test the WatersWater sports can be a great way to cool off your pup on a hot day. Though many dogs are natural swimmers, getting a Coast Guard-approved pet life preserver is worth the investment to play it safe, whether you're in your own pool or a nearby lake or stream. There are a number of waterproof, buoyant toys available as well that can make splish-splash time even more enjoyable. If you live near a beach and you're an experienced surfer, why not take your dog along for the ride? Make sure your pup is comfortable in not just calm waters but waves as well, and consider a foam surfboard for starters, as this will provide an adequate amount of standing room and grip. Also consider taking your furry friend along for a canoe or kayak ride, but make sure you're both outfitted in the necessary safety gear.
Here, Kitty KittyContrary to popular belief, outdoor fun isn't just for dogs. With the right preparation, cats can get in on the action, too, even if you have a cat that primarily spends time indoors. If you have a yard with a high fence, you can take your kitty out for some supervised exploring. Also, fence-type, portable kennels made for dogs work just as well for cats, and many offer adjustable shelves and ramps to enhance playtime. While most cats don't take to a leash naturally, some will with a bit of training, or you can explore the stroller option, which gives kitty a moving but safe view of outside sights and sounds.
Our pets are a part of our families and communities, so it’s obvious that we want to keep them feeling as happy, healthy, and loved as possible. We want them to eat the healthiest food, get the optimal amount of exercise, and have plenty of social and mental stimulation—and of course, we want to keep them by our sides.
There’s a lot you can do to make sure your dogs stay safe. In partnership with Nextdoor, we’ve rounded up the essential tips for keeping your beloved pets safe. After we cover the basics, we’ll tell you about the one key thing many dog owners forget when it comes to pet safety.
Make sure your home and yard are secure.Start here! Use baby gates to help create a barrier between the front door and your pet. If possible, create a secure dog zone where you can safely place your dog when you’re going out. Walk the fence of your property, if applicable, and keep an eye out for loose boards or areas where a pet could slip between slats or dig under the fence.
Get your pet microchipped.One of the first safety tasks for a new pet owner is to commit to getting their pet microchipped. Microchips are very small – about the size of a grain of rice – and the insertion is only a small pinch for your pet. Even if your furry friend slips out of their collar and tags, any vet can scan the microchip and find your contact information, helping to return your pet home safely.
Always walk on a leash.A standard collar is often the choice for new pet parents, but there are also prong collars, head collars, and harnesses. In addition, you can choose to have a standard nylon or leather leash, while many pet owners prefer a retractable leash to give their pet a little more range. If you end up visiting a public dog park, make sure to check the grounds for obvious areas where your dog could escape, and keep an eye on other dogs who might be playing with yours to make sure it stays friendly.
Hire a trusted pet sitter.If you need a dog walker for when you’re stuck at work late, or a pet sitter for when you’re out of town, it’s important to find people you can trust with your pet’s happiness and well-being. Technology can help you find someone close and reliable.
You might very well be aware of the tips listed above, but there’s one thing that many dog owners overlook when it comes to pet safety: their neighbors.
On average, lost pets are recovered within a two-mile radius of their home, which means mobilizing your neighbors is key to return a missing pet, make sure your neighbors know you and your pet. It can be a life saver........
When the Tummy's Grumblin'
A dog will seek out a natural remedy for a gassy or upset stomach, and grass, it seems, may do the trick. When ingested, the grass blade tickles the throat and stomach lining; this sensation, in turn, may cause the dog to vomit, especially if the grass is gulped down rather than chewed.
Although dogs don't typically graze on large amounts of grass like a cow, they may nibble on grass, chew on it for a while, and not throw up (an unwell dog will tend to gulp the grass down in big bites and then throw up). This may be because they find the texture of the grass palatable, or just because they need to add a little roughageto their diet.
Whatever the reason may be, most experts see no danger in letting your dog eat grass. In fact, grass contains essential nutrients that a dog might crave, especially if they're on a commercial diet. If you notice that your dog has been munching away on grass or houseplants, then you may want to introduce natural herbs or cooked vegetables into their diet. Dogs aren't finicky like cats, but they're not too fond of raw veggies either. They're kind of like big furry kids that way.
So, when you think about it, grass munching isn’t that bad at all. However, watch out for a sudden increase in grass eating; it could be a sign of a more serious underlying illness that your dog is trying to self treat, and that requires immediate veterinary assistance.