Tips for Hiking with your Dog

With spring quickly approaching or already here in some areas, hiking season is right around the corner! And whether you’re planning just a quick day trip, or you’re looking at doing some serious backpacking, there are a few things to consider if you’re going to bring your pooch along. 

First, make sure you bring all the necessary supplies:

-Plenty of fresh water/portable filtration system
-Collapsible food and water bowls
-More than enough dog food and treats for the duration of your hike
-First aid kit
-Baggies for dog waste
-Blanket(s)
-Dog booties
-Unscented gentle baby wipes
-Towel
-Leash/lead

When you’re on your walk, be mindful to be constantly monitoring your dog’s behavior to ensure he’s not becoming taxed. Don’t rush and take plenty of breaks, especially if your dog is not as experienced hiking. If it’s warm out, try to find shady places to take breaks and allow your dog to get some water. If they’re barefoot, make sure the ground is not too hot for their paws. If it is, consider the dog booties. 

Avoid feeding your dog too much food before or during the hike, which might make their stomach upset. Instead, give them little snacks and treats along the way. This both gives him the motivation to keep going on the journey, but also gives him little energy boosts as well!

Keep a close watch on your surroundings during the hike. Watch for poisonous plants that your dog could get into, as well as wild animals that may not be too pleased to be messed with. Little critters like porcupines and snakes love to camouflage themselves, so it’s good to be aware. Your dog will alert you immediately if he spots something or catches a whiff, so he’ll give you the heads up. Keeping a leash on your dog is an extra bit of assurance that you can keep control over him should he become too interested in something.

If your dog is accustomed to a dog hiking pack, this can be a great way to distribute the weight carried. You can put their food and accessories in their pack, leaving yourself a bit more room in your own pack.

Remember to take your time during your hike and don’t allow yourself or your dog to become overexerted. Avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day and to take plenty of nice long breaks as you go. A lot of dogs absolutely love getting to explore the outdoors with their owners on hikes through the wilderness, and with a little planning and preparedness, it’s a doable outing!

Have fun and happy hiking!

Professional Pet Sitters Week – March 1-8

Here’s a dilemma you’ve probably faced before: You have an event out of town that you’re going to, but you can’t take your pet with you. What to do? Do you leave them at a kennel? That isn’t always appealing to everyone. So, what other options are there? Whether you’re going to be gone for one day or ten, you’ll need someone to care for your precious fur babies while you’re away. A professional pet sitter might just be the perfect solution for you!

But how do you find a great pet sitter? You don’t want just anyone watching your pooch. Not only will this person be looking after your pet while you’re away, but they’ll be in your home. So you will want to make sure it’s someone you feel comfortable and safe with. You’ll want to make sure their schedule is compatible with yours and that they can meet all your pet’s needs. Some pet sitters will even take on a few other jobs while they’re at it, like watering your plants.

A good place to start when searching for a pet sitter is word of mouth. Talk to your friends and neighbors and find out who they use! This is really one of the best ways to find some of the best pet sitters. You’ll be ahead of the game by finding out who your friends trust, just like if you were looking for a babysitter. If your neighborhood has a social media page or group, you could also find someone local that way. There might even be a neighbor nearby with an older child that would love to earn some extra cash! So don’t hesitate to ask around!

Another place to check is with your veterinarian’s office. A lot of great pet sitters network with veterinarian offices, so they’ll probably have a list of great providers to try!

You can also try an online pet sitter service. There are many to choose from such as Rover.com and Care.com and they make searching for pet sitters fun and easy. After just a few clicks, you’ll soon have a substantial list of pet sitters in your area. And one of the best parts is that the sitters are rated by their customers so you’ll know right away if you’re picking a great one!

No matter which way you choose to find your pet sitter, just make sure you ask lots of questions and get to know them so that you’re confident that they’re the right fit for your family. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and get as much information from them as you’d like – they’re there to sell their services to you! They should be more than willing to do what they can to make you feel comfortable.

Happy searching!

Dog Ownership and Cardiovascular Health: Wagging Tails and Happy Hearts

February is American Heart Month, a time for raising our awareness of issues that can prevent cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. It is a good time to check in with how well you are taking care of your heart with a healthy diet, adequate exercise, and your stress management strategies. These important lifestyle factors can have a major impact on your risks for cardiovascular disease.

One lifestyle change that you might find surprising may be to consider dog ownership. In fact, there have been a great number of scientific studies showing various ways that dogs may improve our health (check out Wileypup.com’s comprehensive guide), perhaps most notably, our heart health. Let’s take a closer look:

Improved Heart Rates and Blood Pressure

As we all know, heart rate and blood pressure are key indicators of our cardiovascular health. A less known fact is that our furry friends may actually have a direct impact on both. There just seems to be something about spending time with a loyal dog that helps to soothe the heart. And, the effect is more than just emotional, in fact, it is physiological as well.

And, you don’t have to actually have a dog of your own to experience these benefits. In fact, spending time with dogs at a rescue or by offering to pet sit a friend’s pooch may be another way to experience the heart calming presence of pets without the vet bills, food costs, and additional long-term responsibilities.

Increased Activity Levels

We all know we need to be getting up and active every day to promote a strong and healthy heart as well as maintain circulation, muscle tone, and bone density. However, sometimes it can be hard to stay motivated to take the best care of ourselves. Studies have shown that dog owners do get more exercise than their non-dog owning counterparts.

Perhaps this effect is because sometimes when we can’t do for ourselves, we find a way to do for those we love. Dogs depend on us to make sure their daily exercise needs are met, reminding us of the joys and importance of an active lifestyle.

Walk time! There are very few gyms or personal trainers that can motivate us to keep moving as much as those big hopeful eyes and wagging tail at the front door. For older dogs, sometimes it’s you that needs to motivate them but you’re invested in doing so which has reciprocal rewards.

Studies have shown that higher activity levels reduce obesity levels, another major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. By getting us off the couch, our canine companions offer multiple benefits when it comes to a healthy heart.

If you are interested in dog ownership but worry that you will not be able to provide for a high energy young dog, consider adopting an older dog. Many such pooches end up in rescue shelters each year, often due to unforeseen tragedies such as a death in the family, move, or illness of the owners. Senior dogs offer a lot of benefits. They tend to have lower exercise needs, are less demanding in terms of training and socialization, and tend to be a less labor-intensive investment with the same benefits of loyal companionship.

Improved Stress Management

How we manage stress in our daily lives plays a critical role in heart health, according to the American Heart Association. Those who have loved a dog already know that we tend to turn to them in times of emotional stress for that feeling of comfort, acceptance, and sense that everything is going to be okay. Turns out, research has shown that this is more than just a “feeling” and is actually a physiological response to spending time with dogs.

The human-dog bond promotes stress-relieving hormones such as oxytocin while reducing stress-related hormones such as cortisol. Research has shown that this hormonal response goes both ways. When we spend time petting a dog, both the human and canine hormone levels change for the better. What a win-win!

Better Recovery Rates After a Coronary Event

Finally, if you or someone you know has recently suffered from a cardiovascular event and is currently in recovery, some time with a dog may actually improve recovery outcomes.

Research has posited two main theories for why outcomes such as health indicators and even survival outcomes improve for dog owners. One is that dog owners seem to be better at sticking to a recovery protocol after a coronary event. The other may be a combination of the other heart-healthy benefits already mentioned in this article.

Either way, spending time with a dog may not only brighten your day, it may even improve your heart health. Just one more great excuse to enjoy the company of a dog.

Not Sure if Dog Ownership Is Right for You?

It is important to realize that dog ownership can come with its own stressors and is certainly not right for everyone. Before you adopt, be sure you have the time, budget, and space to bring a dog into your life.

And, you don’t have to own a dog in order to experience the benefits. Here are a few ways to bring dogs into your life without the commitment of dog ownership:

· Offer to pet-sit a friend or family member’s dog for the weekend.

· Get involved with animal rescue organizations to spend time with dogs who can really use your moral support and attention.

· Consider fostering a dog on a temporary basis if you want to give dog ownership a try before making up your mind.

· Contact a therapy dog group in your area to see if you can arrange a weekly visit with a volunteer pooch who has a great temperament for some quiet cuddles and lap time.

Author Bio: Sharon is a professional writer and received her M.S. in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech and has worked as a professional dog trainer for over 10 years.

February is Pet Dental Hygiene Month

The oral health of our pets is often the most overlooked part of their everyday care, and yet, it’s one of the most important! It’s so easy to ignore signs of periodontal disease, like bad breath, but there are so many reasons why it’s important to stay on top of your pet’s oral health. Just like in humans, poor dental health in dogs and cats can lead to serious health problems. Think mouth abscesses, painful tooth loss, and infections that can spread throughout the body. So, while it might not seem like a big deal, keeping your dog or cat’s teeth clean and healthy is vital for their health! Here are some easy tips on just how to do that.

Chew Toys

Toys are an easy and effective way to keep your pet’s teeth clean. There are toys that are made specifically for cats and dogs, and most of them are specially designed for helping clean teeth. The act of chewing on the toy actually knocks tartar off the teeth. This makes for an easy solution as your pet probably already loves gnawing on chew toys.

Brushing

This activity is often not the favorite choice of most dogs and cats, but it is really one of the most effective ways to clean your pet’s teeth. This is not something that needs to be done daily, but the more often it’s done, the better. There are specially made toothpastes for dogs and cats that are safe, so don’t try to use human toothpaste. Start slowly at first, just to get them used to it. Before long, they’ll be accustomed to having their teeth brushed and you’ll be able to do it on a regular basis.

Tartar Control Treats

Another easy tactic for battling tartar and gum disease are treats that are specially designed to help keep teeth clean and healthy. They’re tasty and fun to eat for both dogs and cats and typically much more appreciated than brushing. Similarly to the chew toys, these special treats help remove tartar and build up from teeth as they chew. Make sure you read the label to ensure that they are designed for dental health.

Dental Cleanings

Of course, it’s always a good idea to have your pet’s teeth professionally examined by their veterinarian. They may suggest that a cleaning is needed, and it’s not a bad idea to have your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned every now and then. Out of all the tips we’ve mentioned, this may not be the cheapest option, but it’s surely the most thorough. Veterinarian offices are skilled at cleaning pet teeth and it’s one of the best ways to help maintain dental health. Make sure to discuss this option with your vet at your pet’s next checkup.

Maintaining your pet’s dental health is not always easy, but it’s important to start now and now wait until there are issues that must be addressed. If you try these easy tips, you’re sure to help keep those chompers in working order.

 

Protecting Paws During the Winter Months

Winter officially starts in just two days. Are you and your pet ready? The winter season can be just as brutal on your pets as it is on us – sometimes even worse! Paws are exposed to not only the elements but also to toxic chemicals that are used during the winter. The pads of paws can be susceptible to cracking, frostbite, dryness, and chemical burns from de-icing products. Taking a few simple precautions can greatly reduce the risk of injury or discomfort for your pooch.

First, start by making sure their paws are groomed. Trim excess hair around the pads of their paws. You can use clippers to make it easier – just make sure the fur is not longer than the pads. This will help snow and debris from getting stuck inside their paws. There is often a ton of salt and other de-icing products spread on sidewalks and roadways this time of year, so it’s almost certain that your pup will come in contact with some of it. Don’t forget to trim their nails. It’s just as important during the winter to keep their nails trimmed as it is during the summer. Nails that are too long cause lots of problems for your canine friend including discomfort and encourage more debris to get trapped between the pads of their paws.

Before you head outside for your walk, apply a thin layer of a protective balm on the pads of their paws. There are countless terrific products on the market, but make sure that the product you choose is specifically made for dogs. A couple great ones to choose from are Baely’s Paw Shield, and Musher’s Secret. You can find these products both online and in most pet stores.

Another great way to protect your dog’s feet is to invest in some dog booties. They vary in price and there are many different brands out there to choose from. They’re also easily found both online and in pet stores. Although some dogs take to booties right away, some dogs take a bit longer to get used to them so it’s important to give your little guy plenty of time to become accustomed to wearing them. It’s a good idea to start off by having them wear them for just a few minutes at a time, slowly increasing the time little by little until they’re comfortable. This will help ensure that when the time comes that they need to wear them for a walk, they’ll keep them on instead of trying to kick them off because they feel weird. Also, make sure that the boots fit your dog properly by checking the instructions from the manufacturer. You want them to be snug enough that they stay on, but certainly not too tight to cause discomfort or injury.

Don’t forget to take care of those paws after the walk is over! Their feet probably accumulated a lot of debris while you were on your walk if they weren’t wearing dog booties, so don’t forget to wipe their paws off to make sure there are not any salt or chemicals still stuck to their feet. Also, check between the pads of their feet to make sure the skin doesn’t look red or irritated. If they look especially dry, you can also apply a bit more of the paw balm just to moisturize. It also doesn’t hurt to give them a good brushing from head to toe, just to ensure that there isn’t any debris lodged in their fur as well. It never hurts to give your pooch’s coat a little extra love.

Pick the Perfect Pet During Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month! There are so many great reasons to adopt a dog from a shelter instead of from a breeder. We’ve compiled a list of just a few reasons why adopting is the way to go.

Skip the puppy stage.

There’s no doubt that puppies are cute as heck. They’re squishy, wiggly, fluffy, and pretty much adorable. But they are also a ton of work. There is a lot of work that comes along with owning a puppy, and in a lot of ways, it’s not unlike having a newborn! Most puppies need to be let outside numerous times a night as their bladder control is developing and they’re getting the hang of house training. Depending on the breed, teaching your dog to go potty outside, can be a grueling and frustrating time. Puppies can be very destructive to your home. Think ripped upholstery, chewed shoes, and torn carpet. Plus, lots of people who are adopting look for puppies. So chances are you can find the perfect dog for your family by looking at slightly older dogs who are already housebroken and have plenty of love to give that other people simply overlook due to not being “puppies”.

Much more affordable.

If you’ve done any research on the cost of buying a dog, it is probably a lot more than you’d think! Puppies, especially more rare or in-demand breeds can be quite costly. You’d be forking up hundreds if not thousands to get your hands on certain breeds. Yes, thousands. When in the end, all you are really wanting is a great dog or cat. And there are so many wonderful dogs available for adoption at your local shelter – and all you need to pay is the adoption fee.

Have we mentioned the great pets you’ll find?

Seriously, most dogs don’t end up in shelters because they’re “bad”, they end up there because of things like a move or divorce. There are so many really, really great, loving dogs that are just hoping for a family to love. By going to a shelter first, you’ll get the chance to meet and get to know dogs of all ages. There is just bound to be one (or two!) that is absolutely perfect for you and your family.

You’ll save a LIFE.

Just let that sink in. You’ll be actually saving a life. What’s more important than that? You’ll not only make a homeless dog incredibly happy by bringing him or her into your home, but you’ll also be saving their life. It’s really a win for everybody, so why not try?

Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore – When You Should Go to the Vet

Many pet owners struggle to determine when it is necessary to take their pet in to see the vet and when it is not. Sometimes it is difficult to tell if what they’re experiencing is anything serious or if they’re just not feeling well. Going to the vet is not always cheap, and unfortunately, sometimes it can be a bit pricey to take your beloved furry friends in to get checked out. This can tend to make owners try to avoid taking their pets in to see the veterinarian. But, please, take care to not ignore some very important signs of your pet’s health. Really, if you ever see any troublesome or out of the ordinary behavior from your pet, the best bet is to take them in to be examined. But we’ve also compiled a list of few very dangerous signs that your pet could show if they’re sick or unwell.

Loss of Appetite:

Appetite can vary pet by pet, but if you see a sudden change in food interest, it’s important not to ignore it. If your pet looks otherwise normal, keep an eye on him for 24 hours to see if his appetite returns. If not, take him in to be seen right away. He could be suffering from some digestive distress or something even more serious. Underlying illnesses can often cause dogs and cats to lose interest in eating. If your pet also begins to appear to be feeling ill or very sick, take it as a very serious sign and get him to the vet as soon as possible.

Sudden Thirst:

Sudden thirst is often a sign that some serious things are going on inside your pet’s body. If you notice that they’re drinking a lot more water and asking to go outside or go to the litter box more frequently, they should definitely be seen by a vet. There are various conditions that could be causing this, like liver, kidney, or bladder issues. This can also sometimes occur after they’ve eaten something that doesn’t agree with them or they’ve come in contact with something poisonous.

Diarrhea or Vomiting:

Just as this can be serious for humans, this could mean something serious for your pet as well. If it goes on for more than a day, it’s probably a good idea to take them in and have them looked at. It could have been that something they ate simply upset their stomach, and your vet can help get everything back on track. Keep in mind, if your dog or cat is throwing up and having diarrhea often, such as multiple times an hour, it could be an emergency and they should be taken to the vet immediately. Fluid loss can get ugly quickly, so don’t take any chances.

Changes in Breathing:

Take any changes in breathing seriously. It is often a sign that something is not right. The respiratory systems of pets are delicate and things go south very quickly. If you notice any changes in the way they breathe, or they appear to be struggling, take them in right away. Time is of the essence.

 

 

How to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer Heat

Summer is such a fun time of year. The weather is beautiful and we can finally get outside to play. But with the fun comes heat – and sometimes, that can mean danger for our four-legged family members. Dog’s can’t sweat or cool themselves like we can and the summer heat can spell trouble really quick for our pups. That’s why we’ve compiled a list with a few tips on how to keep your dog cool this summer.

Plan Your Outings:
Try to plan your walks and park time for the coolest parts of the day. Usually, mornings and evenings are some of the best times to go outside with your pooch. Being outside during the summer months in the heat of the day is often just too much for dogs to handle. Adjusting your schedule a little to accommodate for the weather will make all the difference in the world for your little guy.

Find Shade:
Sometimes going outside during the heat is unavoidable, so do what you can to make the best of it. Try to find shade wherever you are. If you’re on a walk or a hike, keep an eye out for good shade spots and take frequent breaks. If you’re going someplace where there isn’t going to be a lot of shade, consider bringing along a travel canopy. There are many available that are very compact and can fold down to a portable size.

Don’t Forget the Water:
Always bring plenty of water. One of the best ways to keep your dog safe and cool during the hot weather is to always carry water with you. Bring a collapsible bowl and a jug of water and it’ll make all the difference for your pup. Try adding some ice cubes for added coolness!

 

Watch Out for Hot Pavement
Since we are always wearing shoes, sometimes it’s easy for us to forget that the pavement gets very hot and that can really burn a dog’s feet. One of the easiest ways to avoid injuries is to invest in a set of booties for your doggy. It may take a little time for him to get the hang of wearing them, but he’ll get used to it in no time and they’ll really protect his footsies! If your dog is not wearing booties while you’re out and about, be sure to be continuously checking the pavement with your hand to make sure it’s not too hot. If it is, make sure you find some shade ASAP.

Make Some Cool Treats
There are tons of quick and easy recipes online for making easy and yummy cold treats for your doggy this summer. One example is to blend together water, peanut butter, and bananas and freeze in an ice cream tray. Your pup will go bonkers for these sweet and healthy snacks, not to mention they’ll help him cool down.

Get the Hose Out!
One of the easiest – and most fun – ways to keep your pooch cool is to break out of the garden hose and let your dog go to town. Not all dogs are into this activity, but if yours is a fan of playing in the water, set it up! Turn the hose on and let your pup run through the spray! He’ll have the time of his life while he’s getting cooled down. Set up a baby pool for even more fun!

 

Protect Your Pets During Independence Day Celebrations

While the Fourth of July brings fond traditions like picnics, barbecues, concerts, and fireworks, it isn’t such a fun holiday for the four-legged members of the family.

Photo from Friends of the GCARC via Facebook

Many animals are extremely frightened by the noise from firecrackers and can even be stressed by the sight of fireworks. This leads to a 30-60% increase in lost pets every year between July 4 and July 6. July 5th is typically the busiest day of the year in humane societies and shelters across the country as people try to find their lost and scared pets. But don’t forget that fireworks and firecrackers don’t just happen on July 4th. They are already happening as people build up to the big celebration.

So what can you do to make things less stressful for your pets?

  • Make a safe space for them in your home where they can retreat and hide but where they can’t easily escape. Even the most mild-mannered dog might panic and claw their way out of a crate or run through a glass window or a fence in their panicked state and can run away and be lost or hit by cars.
  • Playing calming music in the area can help block out some of the noise from outside and keeping curtains closed helps block out the flashes of light from fireworks.
  • If your dog or cat is pacing, cowering, hiding, or displaying nervous behavior, try to distract them with a favorite bone or toy but don’t distress them further.
  • Consider skipping leaving home to go to the big celebration and stay home with your pets to protect and comfort them during this traumatic time.
  • Above all else, make sure that if something does happen you have the best shot of getting your pet returned to you by following these suggestions:
    • Make sure your pets are wearing their collars and that they are secure and have up-to-date ID tags on them with your name and contact info readable.
    • Add a GPS tracker to your pet’s collar to make it easier to track and reunite with your pet if they should escape.
    • For extra security, get your pet microchipped. Pets are little magicians and can get out of their collars on the best of days much less when they are panicked or stressed by the sights and sounds of fireworks. Getting your pet microchipped gives an added layer of protection that if they escape and make it to a shelter, they can be scanned and reunited with you. Make sure your contact information for the microchip registration is up to date.

There’s a reason that July is considered “Pet Loss Prevention Month” and by using a few common sense tips you can keep your pets happier and safer during this and other holidays.

Creating a Pet-Safe Garden This Summer

It’s that time of year again to get the yard and garden ready for summer! Warm weather is coming, and soon you and your pooch or kitty will be able to frolic together outside. Nothing is better than getting to hang out and be outside in the fresh air, and if you’re like me, you absolutely love adding beautiful plants to your yard! But before you begin planting this year, it’s very important to ensure that you’re not planting anything that could pose a danger to your pets. There are many plants that may look beautiful but are poisonous to our four-legged friends. So, we’ve compiled a list of some popular plants that are not healthy for pets to come in contact with.

Unsafe plants for cats and dogs:

-Amaryllis

-Autumn Crocus

-Azaleas and Rhododendrons

-Castor Bean

-Chrysanthemum

-Convallaria majalis

-Cyclamen

-Daffodils

-Dieffenbachia

-English Ivy

-Kalanchoe

-Lilies

-Marijuana

-Oleander

-Peace Lily

-Pothos

-Sago Palm

-Spanish thyme

-Tulip and Narcissus bulbs

-Yew

Thankfully, there are also a lot of wonderful plants that you can add to your yard and garden that are not only safe for your pets, but that your pets will love! Here are some ideas:

-Barley grass is safe and may even help an upset stomach.

-Catnip. Although your cat may love it because it’s a stimulant for them, it actually does the opposite for Fido. Catnip makes dogs feel very relaxed, but it’s not harmful to them.

-Chamomile is calming.

-Lavender is a calming and soothing choice as well.

-Mint provides something fun and interesting for your dog to sniff, and they may even enjoy munching on it.

-Rosemary is energizing.

But don’t forget:

Basil

Carrots

Catmint

Cilantro

Flowering Currant

Leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, etc)

Marigolds

Radishes

Rosemary

Raspberries

Sage

Thyme

Zucchini

And remember to add some pet safe ornamentals to your outdoor haven! We’ve got some great ideas for you:

African violets

Alyssum

Aster

Black Eyed Susan

Hibiscus

Impatiens

Magnolia Bush

Pansies

Petunias

Snapdragons

Sweet Potato Vine

Zinnia

So, enjoy the outdoors this summer and don’t be afraid to share with your furry loved ones! There are so many wonderful plants to choose from that are perfectly safe for your pets and that they will thoroughly enjoy. Creating an environment that provides stimulation and interest for your dogs and cats is always fantastic. Experiment with different plants to see which ones your pets really enjoy. Just like people, pets also have favorites, so have fun with it!

And lastly, please don’t forget to check the labels of everything that you put in your yard and garden. Not all gardening products are pet safe, so be sure to always read those labels.

Have fun and enjoy the outdoors this summer!