Get In Shape with Your Pet

Have you been keeping on track with your fitness goals for the year? It is well known that obesity is a major problem for the two-legged world, but did you know that it has also become a big problem in the four-legged world? Over 54% of dogs are overweight. Whether you and you pets need to lose weight, you might want to consider exercising with your pet. Getting fit is a great start for a healthy life style.

Most people can think of many ways they can exercise with their dogs. Walking is by far the perfect exercise. The benefits of walking are increased stamina, lower blood pressure, greater bone density, a stronger heart and lower risk of depression. There are many of the same benefits for dogs. Regular walking yields the same benefits for dogs and can also reduce nuisance behavior. Dogs that get more exercise are less likely chew, dig in areas of the house they are not supposed to or destroy items.

If walking doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can take to the trails. The ups, downs, twists and turns of hiking trails can be great exercise. Safety is first, so make sure you go with someone or at least let someone know where you are. Make sure you do not go when it is too hot. It is not safe to walk your dog, regardless of age, on trails when it is very hot. Dirt, sand and especially rocks can heat up to temperatures well over 100 degrees. Your dog’s paw pads can easily burn. Consider the wildlife. Some trails have a lot of wildlife that your dog might want to chase after. Owners of reactive dogs should choose their trail wisely. Also, be mindful of mother nature. You and your pup can experience everything from wet slippery slopes from a fresh rain that can cause a fall, burrs found on the ground that can embed in your dog’s skin, uneven terrain and many other things. You might need booties

Whether walking or hiking, you can incorporate exercises. Here are 10 you can try:

  • Take a few steps, tell your dog to sit while your do a few squats, repeat.
  • While your dog goes pee, stand on one leg to practice your balance.
  • Lunge walk while your dog walks on the path.
  • Dance or run around a tree while your dog tries to catch you.
  • Walk backward on your walk (checking the ground first.)
  • Alter your walk route to incorporate hills. Practice the ‘wait’ command while at lights or intersections.
  • Ask your dog to ‘sit’ while you do leg lifts.
  • Tell your dog to ‘sit,’ then ‘down’ while you do planks.
  • Tell your dog to ‘lay down (or ‘down’’) while you do push ups or tricep dips on a bench.

If you are a water person, get your dog into the pool. Make sure your dog has a life jacket on so that as he plays, he will not swallow water from dipping his head under the while playing with toys. You can clip a long leash to your dog’s life vest and let your dog paddle around. Swim with your dog. See if she will follow you while you swim. Call your dog to the stairs of the pool to teach her how to get out of the pool if she needs to. Most dogs cannot get out of the side of the pool. Use the ‘come’ command.

If you have the space, try dock diving. Throw your dog’s toy into your pool or off the end of the dock (in safe water) so they will chase, jump in, retrieve and bring back their toy. If your dog doesn’t get the concept of the game, you might have to demonstrate by tossing the toy in and you jumping in after it to retrieve and bring it back. Again, a safety jacket should still be used.

For the adventurer, paddle boarding and kayaking are also perfectly fun exercises for you and your dog. Practice first on land and then the water. This could be challenging for dogs who are water lovers. They will need to be trained not to jump in every chance they get. This is the perfect time to work on the ‘sit,’ ‘stay/wait,’ ‘heal’ and come commands.

Summer Grooming Tips from the Experts at The Dirty Dog

Recently I wrote a blog about summer pet grooming tips, but I wanted to revisit the subject after having several conversations with pet parents about unfortunate mistakes they’d made when grooming their own dog or in the requests they made to their groom. Most people seem to just think that that dogs should have most of their shaved off for the summer months and that will do the trick. The truth is pet hair grows in seasonal cycles. In the winter, the hair lies close to the skin, but in the summer it fluffs up allowing them to regulate their internal temperature more efficiently. Hair overexposed to air can tickle the dog’s skin and cause itching and scratching. I was able to investigate fact from fiction while spending some time interviewing the wonderful staff of The Dirty Dog in Winter Park, Florida.

For some pet owner’s they are not even sure how to find a groomer or how to easily get their dog to willingly go. According to groomer Sue Johnson, “Get a referral.” Someone you trust might be able to suggest a good groomer. Visit the location for a tour to make sure it is clean and there is proper equipment being used. You also want to ask what their disciplinary practices are. Let’s face it, some dogs aren’t as thrilled as we are to go to the groomer. But, there are ways to prepare pets for a trip to the groomer. Groomer Nicole Deornfeld explains, “Regular brushing and combing will help. Touching their feet and touching their ears will also help.” Pets that have little exposure to physical contact are not regularly brushed or are not use to having anyone touch all parts of their body will be more likely to resist a groomer.

If you are the brave type and choose to groomer your pet at home, there are some things to consider. Even though you are at home, you still need to avoid common mistakes owner’s make. The biggest mistake made according to Christine Patrick is owners don’t brush their dogs before they wash them. This is recipe for an exhausting grooming session. Dirty fur plus water equals knots. Dogs and cats alike must have their coats brushed out prior to washing or it will tangle. The second biggest mistake is when owners try to cut out matted fur and end up cutting their pet. A matted coat often covers over unseen skin. Trying to cut it before brushing it out can lead to an expensive trip to the vet. Even before the wash, an owner needs to consider whether or not their pet has any allergies. And, at the end of the wash, be sure to rinse twice to be sure all product residue is rinsed away and don’t forget about your flea prevention. The summer time is the season where you see a significant increase is flea activity.

Another mistake is using the wrong equipment. Using your husband’s clippers to shave your dog could be disastrous as they are not made for pets. “You’ve gotta’ have proper equipment,” says Johnson. Clippers meant for human hair can burn dog’s skin as the instrument heats up during use. Pet parents also make the mistake of towel drying their pets with bath towels. Usually, this significantly increase the probability that their pet is still going to smell bad even though they were just given a bath. If a dog or cat is not dried quickly, they will retain that dirty dog or cat smell. Towel drying is simply not an efficient way to dry an animal unless they are a small short haired breed. Blow dryers work best, but I don’t mean the kind you find in our bathroom. The wattage of a human hair dryer is too low to quickly dry off a dog or cat. The wattage of a pet groomer’s hair dryer is significantly higher and can dry dogs and cats much faster, and in doing so reducing the scent of the animal.

How much time and money you spend on a groomer often depends on whether or not you have a low maintenance or high maintenance breeds. Pit bulls, Dobermans, Whippets, Italian Greyhounds and even Jack Russel Terriers are lower maintenance and could get away with going in for regular nail trims and an occasional de-shedding. When asked which breeds require the most amount of maintenance, the staff of The Dirty Dog echoing behind Christine Patrick said “Doodles!” Higher maintenance breeds such as Doodles, the Standard Poodles, the Maltese, the Shih Tzu, the Bichon Frise, the Great Pyrenees and other breeds are going to need to see a groomer often. Their coats get matted easily and can result in lengthy, tedious grooming appointments.

The most important tip given was to “Brush, brush, brush!!!” Christine Patrick could not stress this enough. It cuts down on matting, helps with shedding and can be quite enjoyable to many pets.


Disaster Preparedness Day: Are you prepared?

When making a family disaster plan, it is important that your plan include every member of your household, including your pets. A well thought out plan can save lives. We all know that the best planning takes place before a disaster or emergency happens. Responding to a disaster or emergency while it is happening can only cause chaos, frustration and could lead to injury and loss of life. Here are the top five things you must to in order to be ready for a disaster or every day emergency:

1. Properly ID Your Pets

While a new trend is taking place among pet owners to allow their pets to forego using collars and ID tags because they are microchipped, this could become problematic if you have an emergency. If separated during an emergency, you have a greater chance of being reunited with your pet/s if they are wearing ID tags with up-to-date information such as your phone number, and the phone number of a pet sitter or friend who knows your pet.

2. Make a Pet Emergency Preparedness Kit

Include the following items:

food and water medicines and records litter box, scoop and bags
carrier and leashes pet photos with descriptions notes and vet contact*
pet bed and toys list of known pet friendly lodging your pet

*Be sure that your notes about your pet/s includes their feeding and medication routine and any behavior issues.

3. Make a List of Safe Places to Take Your Pet

Most pet owners are not aware that even though they need to evacuate, their pets cannot come with them to a local or state run or Red Cross disaster shelter due to health and safety regulations. Preparing a list of pet friendly hotels, motels and inns as well as veterinarians and boarding facilities ahead of time will increase the chances of you finding a safe place for your pet. Don’t forget to ask how many pets you can bring and what size they can be.

4. Heed Warnings from the Local Weather Advisory and First Responders

Be sure to follow instructions during a disaster. Ignoring weather advisories or instructions from law enforcement or other first responders can put you and your pet/s in harm’s way. Having an emergency radio (often given free by local utility companies) can be helpful to keep abreast of changing conditions.

5. Communication is Everything!

It is important to communicate during disasters or every day emergencies. Here are ways you can communicate:

  • Keep your phones charged in case the power goes out and you need to use your phone.
  • Leave a rescue sticker in the front window of your home to let rescue workers know there are pets inside.
  • If you need to evacuate, write ‘EVACUATED’ across your stickers so rescue workers try to find your pet.