Dog: Expectations vs. Reality

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Life for companion animals has changed immensely, primarily over the past 20 years.

Advances in medicine and understanding animal behavior, and better approaches and understanding of nutrition have come a long way. Animals are living healthier lives physically – but what about psychologically? Are we doing all that we can for our pets to assure their mental fitness? Are the expectations that are being placed on some dogs especially, just too high?

Our society favors high achievement, fast movers and goal setters – thriving on the 30-minute meal, the list-making-quick-fix-structured-take-a-pill-it-will-solve-the-problem-do-it-my-way mentality. Dogs just don’t live that way. Canines are as vastly different from each other in personality and natural ability as humans are. Despite what is thought by some, there is nothing true about the phrase, “all dogs are the same.”

Senior Dogs

Caring for Your Senior Dog: 5 Important Things to Know

By Caroline Golon, Petfinder Contributor

Many pet parents struggle with the realization that their dog is getting older. But it’s important to recognize the signs of aging and take measures to ensure your dog’s quality of life doesn’t change. Here are some things you can do.

Caring for Your Senior Dog

Feed Your Dog a Nutritious Diet

Good nutrition is important at every age, but, according to Dr. Ernie Ward, veterinarian and senior pet health expert. “Feeding your pet the proper nutrition in their senior years… is critical to… keeping them active and playful.”

Talk with your vet about the type of diet your dog needs. Your vet can make recommendations about quality brands, ingredients or special formulas your senior dog needs to thrive.

For more information about diet, visit Petfinder’s Dog Nutrition articles.

Help Your Dog Get Enough Exercise

Your dog may be slowing down but that doesn’t mean he should spend his days curled up on the couch. Exercise is critical to keeping your dog healthy, both physically and mentally. Your dog may not be able to go on long hikes with you but shorter, less strenuous walks will keep him feeling good.

According to Dr. Ward, “Exercise is critical to keeping your pet youthful – Keeping a pet lean as they age is one of the most important factors in preventing health issues.”

Keep Your Dog at a Healthy Weight

Extra pounds on older dogs means more stress on their body, including joints and internal organs. If you feel your dog needs to shed a few pounds, talk with your veterinarian about a weight loss and exercise plan.

Schedule Regular Check Ups

A lot can happen in between vet visits. The American Animal Hospital Association recommends senior dogs see their vets at least every six months for a check up. Many diseases and health issues, if caught early enough, can be treated.

In his book, Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual (Grand Central Life & Style, 2011), Dr. Marty Becker suggests asking your vet about common issues specific to your dog’s breed, like predisposition to kidney problems, diabetes or severe arthritis. Find out what the early warning signs might be so you can be on the lookout. This is also a good time to talk about your dog’s diet and exercise routine as well.

Don’t Neglect Your Dog’s Teeth

Regular dental care is important throughout your pet’s life but especially for seniors. Dr. Fred Metzger, veterinarian and contributor to the Caring For Your Senior Dog report, says, “older dogs and cats with neglected teeth are time bombs ticking.” The report explains how tartar build up can cause gingivitis, which can cause bacteria to get into the bloodstream, wreaking havoc on your dog’s organs.

A great way to contribute to your senior dog’s good health is to keep his teeth and gums in tip top shape with regular at-home brushing and yearly professional cleanings by your vet.

As they age, our dogs need our care and attention even more. It’s up to us to monitor their health and take measures to keep our pets as healthy and happy as possible in their senior years.

Funny Dogs

 

I have a shih tzu who is adorable, but none too bright! He is a major mama’s boy and wants a bite of anything I have to eat. One day, I was sitting at the dining table and Tippy was sitting quietly nearby (he never begs, just drills holes in you with his eyes!), but every hair on his body was twitching! I was having a salad and knew he wouldn’t eat any greens, but I had a mandarin orange in the salad yet, so I broke off a small piece of orange and tossed to him. I thought he had caught it and was eating it, but he kept sniffing around on the floor and whining. I didn’t know if he wanted more or what. I called him, and he looked up at me and there was the bite of mandarin orange stuck to the fur right above his nose! He could smell it, but he couldn’t find it. I nearly fell out of the chair laughing, then I grabbed the camera and took a picture. The grandkids loved it!
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Fun dog facts!

1. An adult dog has 42 teeth.

2. A dog’s sense of smell is more than 1 million times stronger than that of a person.

3. More than 1 in 3 families in the United States owns a dog.

4. Spaying or neutering your dog can help prevent certain types of cancer.

5. If never spayed or neutered, a pair of dogs can produce 66,000 puppies in 6 years.

6. A dog’s sense of hearing is more than 10 times more accurate than that of a person.

7. The average dog can run about 19 miles per hour at full speed.

8. Dogs are mentioned 14 times in the Bible.

9. A dog’s nose print is one of a kind, very similar to a person’s fingerprint.

10. The average body temperature for a dog is 101.2.

11. With an average lifespan of just over 11 years, the typical dog costs $13,500.

12. The only sweat glands a dog has are between its toes.

13. Dogs are omnivorous; they need to eat more than just meat.

14. Dogs have twice as many ear muscles as people.

15. Dogs will be submissive to anyone they feel is higher up in the pack.

16. People have been keeping dogs for pets for 12,000 years.

17. A female dog carries her puppies for about 60 days before they are born.

18. It is a myth dogs are color blind; they actually see color, just not as vividly as a person.

19. Obesity is the number-one health problem in dogs.

20. Seventy percent of people sign their pets name on greeting/holiday cards.17353427_605012159708323_8915530090854883226_n

Summer Heat and your Dog

heat is on (and even if the power isn’t).

Practice basic summer safety

Never leave your pets in a parked car

Not even for a minute. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees.Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die. Learn how to help a pet left inside a hot car by taking action or calling for help. Local law enforcement can follow this handy guide for how to proceed.

Print our hot car flyer [PDF] and spread the life-saving word »

Watch the humidity

“It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet,” says Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.”

Taking a dog’s temperature will quickly tell you if there is a serious problem. Dogs’ temperatures should not be allowed to get over 104 degrees. If your dog’s temperature does, follow the instructions below for treating heat stroke.

Pet CoolingDog Items on Amazon.com»

Limit exercise on hot days

Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.

Don’t rely on a fan

Pets respond differently to heat than humans do. (Dogs, for instance, sweat primarily through their feet.) And fans don’t cool off pets as effectively as they do people.

Provide ample shade and water

Any time your pet is outside, make sure they have protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.

Cool your pet inside and out

Whip up a batch of quick and easy DIY peanut butter popsicles for dogs. (You can use peanut butter or another favorite food.) And always provide water, whether your pets are inside or out with you.

Keep your pet from overheating indoors or out with a cooling body wrap, vest, or mat (such as the Keep Cool Mat). Soak these products in cool water, and they’ll stay cool (but usually dry) for up to three days. If your dog doesn’t find baths stressful, see if they enjoy a cooling soak.