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How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch

How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch
Fetch is excellent exercise for your dog, but what if it doesn’t come naturally? Here’s how to teach this fun-filled game.

I have three dogs. One of them, a big mixed breed named Monster, loves to fetch. I didn’t even have to teach him — the first time he saw a ball, he put it in his mouth, then dropped it at my feet. I picked it up, threw it, and he enthusiastically fetched it and brought it right back. He will fetch anywhere and all day long.

I also have two very serious working Border Collies, Echo and Radar, who were rescued from a neglectful situation as 8-week-old puppies. They’re shy — until you get them around sheep. They’re 11 years old now and help me on our Colorado farm.

However, they’ve never fetched a ball in their lives. It’s not that I haven’t tried to teach them; they just see no rational reason to fetch a ball and bring it back to me only to have me throw it again.

I’m OK with them being uninterested in fetching; we have lots of land for them to run on. But many dog owners live in cities and want their dogs to fetch — it’s a great way to get exercise, and it can be done safely in your own backyard.

I don’t advocate making dogs do something they find uninteresting (I’m not talking about obedience and good manners, of course). But a game of fetch isn’t a bad thing to want to teach your dog.

Here’s how I taught Echo to enjoy fetching:

1. I found a cat toy that had feathers attached to the end of a thin, springy pole. I showed it to Echo and made a huge deal about the feathers. First, I put the toy on the ground and let Echo sniff and explore it. I picked it up and put it back down, but this time I put small pieces of cooked chicken under the feathers. Echo can be shy with new objects, so I wanted her to feel confident in exploring and seeking the chicken under the feathers. It worked!

2. Next, I put down a second feather stick and put chicken under that one, too. Echo felt braver and went to explore it. As she did, I ran to the other feather stick and placed chicken under that one. She began to get the idea and started trotting back and forth between them.

3. I began to verbally encourage Echo to really run between the two sticks. Once I had that motion from her, I surprised her and picked up the stick I ran toward and called her to keep running after the stick I was dragging. She did! I did these three steps in short sessions for a few days in a row. Her eyes got wide, and her body language expressed delight just at seeing the feather sticks.

4. It’s hard to toss a slim stick with fake feathers at the end of it — and it would be awkward for a dog to pick up and carry — so I slowly made a switch after Echo was really excited about the feather stick. I glued string onto a tennis ball and began the process anew, although I placed the ball next to the feather stick on the ground with some chicken under it. I ran across the room to a second tennis ball I had placed with chicken also under and next to a feather stick. Echo followed me at a trot, went to the ball, pushed it aside, and gobbled up the chicken.

5. After I got Echo used to the tennis ball, I got her revved up to run back and forth between each ball on the ground and then, just as I did before with the feather stick, I tugged on the tennis ball via the string I had glued to it. Echo followed it! When she picked it up in her mouth, I praised her. Then I ran away from her, hoping she’d still hold the ball in her mouth. She didn’t. She kept dropping it, although she enthusiastically ran after me. I tried to get her to put the ball in her mouth and carry it, then decided to switch to a squeaky, soft, smaller squirrel-shaped toy I had seen her carry in her mouth. That did the trick! She was happy to put that in her mouth and chase after me.

6. From there, it was easy to get her to chase me with the squeaky toy in her mouth. When I stopped running, she did, too, and simply spit out the toy. I praised her, then picked it up and teased her with it, tossing it a few feet away. I did go back to pulling the toy along with the string a few times, but she didn’t need much remedial work. Of course, I can’t throw a small stuffed toy as far as I can a solid tennis ball, but that’s OK for Echo and me. I’m just thrilled that she gets excited over, fetches, and returns to me with this toy in her mouth.

If you have a dog who isn’t interested in fetching, first look at your own reasons why you want this from your dog. If there are solid reasons (like a safe way to get some exercise in), try these tips, and soon enough you’ll have a fetching Fido!

Originally posted on Dogster.com by Annie Phenix, CPDT-KA  on 09/01/2016.

9 Surprisingly Dangerous Snacks for Dogs

9 Surprisingly Dangerous Snacks for Dogs

Originally Posted on Daily Treat by Elisabeth Geier

I’m not gonna lie: sometimes, I feed my dogs people food. A cheesy cracker here, a piece of popcorn there. Certain days, I even let them lick the yogurt cup or peanut butter jar clean. For the most part, if your dog doesn’t suffer from allergies, these occasional bites are harmless. It turns out, however, that certain human snacks are dangerous for dogs.

We all know not to slip our dog a chicken wing (seriously, never slip your dog a chicken wing), but you may be surprised to learn which other popular people-snacks can pose a health hazard to your beloved pet.

Guacamole: Avocados may be a delicious miracle food for humans, but unfortunately, they can be problematic for dogs. That’s mostly due to the potential presence of a toxin called persin, which can cause stomach upset. It’s worse with certain varieties, and most present in the peel. Still, better to be safe than sorry.

Guacamole also contains garlic and onions, which can cause anemia and gastrointestinal distress. If you must give your dog a treat from the fiesta table, stick to one or two plain tortilla chips (but not more than that—too much salt is another no-no).

Mixed nuts: Almonds are too rough to be digested properly and can damage your dog’s esophagus and stomach; pecans left out too long may mold and develop a dangerous toxin; and macadamia nuts are downright poisonous. Mixed nuts are a nice snack to keep around the house, but keep them away from your dog.

Raisins: Raisins are a sweet addition to your bowl of cereal, but they’re toxic to your best friend. Grapes and grape products are among the most dangerous foods for dogs, and consumption can lead to kidney failure and even death. Keep raisins, grapes, grape juice, and anything containing them far away from your pet.

Ice cream: It’s tempting to give your dog a lick of your cone on a hot day, and chances are, a little won’t hurt. But ice cream in large quantities is a no-no for dogs. The dairy content can cause gastrointestinal trouble (i.e., diarrhea), and the sugar content is way too high for them. Also, commercially-produced ice cream can contain nut traces, chocolate, and other substances that are dangerous for your dog. Thankfully, there are plenty of dog-friendly frozen treats available!

Beer and other alcohol: This one should be a no-brainer, but some people think it’s funny to offer their dog a sip of beer. Alcohol in any quantity can be dangerous for animals; it has the same effect on their brain and liver as it does on humans, but it takes a lot less to do a lot more damage in dogs. According to WebMD, even a small amount of alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, coordination issues, difficulty breathing, and worse. Keep your dog out of the cooler at your next tailgate.

Snack mix: Cereal snack mix is one of my favorite treats, and I know how tempting it is to throw a handful to the dog. But commercial snack treats often contain onion and garlic powder, both of which can cause tummy troubles. Snack mix is also high in sodium, and too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination.

Leftover ribs (and other meat scraps and bones): Dogs and bones go together like peanut butter and jelly, but only some bones are safe for your pooch. Cooked bones leftover from your barbecue may splinter and cause an obstruction or injury to your dog’s digestive system, and fatty meat scraps can lead to pancreatitis. Dispose of bones and meat scraps in an area your dog can’t reach, and if you must give them a bone, offer a whole raw bone (with supervised chew-time) or a safe chewable instead.

French fries: Confession: French fries are my favorite food, and I love to share them with my dog. But fries are high in fat and sodium, and overindulgence can lead to dehydration and an upset tummy for us both. Salty snacks in general are a bad idea for dogs; too much salt can even lead to ion poisoning. So it’s safe to toss your dog one or two fries at the drive-through, but don’t super-size their serving.

Candy and gum: Chances are you’re not letting your dog go wild in the candy aisle, but accidental ingestion of candy or gum can cause serious damage. Aside from the choking hazard posed by small, sticky treats, many sugar-free gums and candies contain xylitol, a popular sugar substitute that can be lethal to dogs. Stick to candy-shaped toys, and keep the real deal out of reach!

Table foods dogs can eat: In case you’re worried you can never safely sneak your dog a treat from your own bowl of snacks, here are a few human foods that are okay in small amounts:

  • Unsalted, raw or roasted peanuts removed from their shell
  • Unsalted pretzels
  • Plain, cooked chicken
  • White rice and pasta
  • Low-fat cheese, as long as you know your dog doesn’t have a lactose intolerance
  • Raw, unsalted peanut butter (check the label and avoid brands sweetened with xylitol)
  • Small amounts of plain bread

It’s only natural to want to treat your dog, and if she doesn’t have allergies or a particularly sensitive stomach, a morsel of human food here or there won’t hurt. But avoid the dangerous foods listed above, and remember: moderation is key. Most of your dog’s food should be, well, dog food. Happy snacking to you and your pooch!

Hot Pavement Can Hurt Your Dog’s Paws in Minutes. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Hot Pavement Can Hurt Your Dog’s Paws in Minutes. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Originally posted by

It’s hot out there! Did you know that even with a thick coat of fur, your dog can get burned? We’re not talking about sunburns—though some dogs do need doggy sunscreen. Instead, we’re talking about a lesser-known, scary condition called pad burn. You’ll want to understand how to spot the symptoms, plus easy techniques for avoiding the problem in the first place.

Pad burn in dogs

Pad burns occur on dogs’ paws after they walk on hot pavement or asphalt. Often extremely painful for your dog, they can require immediate medical attention.

To prevent pad burns, try walking your dog on dirt or grass paths. Avoid black asphalt, as it is very, very hot and can burn the pads instantly. Test the pavement and asphalt before you let your dog walk on it; if it’s too hot to keep your hand or foot on it for 30 seconds, then it’s too hot for your pup.

Tip: A good test—walk barefoot on the surface yourself! If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog.

Your dog may show you that his feet hurt, too. Look for behaviors like veering off to the grass or pulling back on the leash to stop moving.

Symptoms of pad burns

  • Refusing to walk or limping
  • Darker than usual or discolored pads
  • Excessive licking or biting of feet
  • Visible blisters or extreme redness
  • Missing parts of the pads

If you notice these symptoms, seek immediate vet assistance. If this isn’t an option, keep your dog in a cool grassy area to minimize the pain. Also keep a firm eye on the conditions of their pads, as they can easily become infected. Flush their feet with cool water and try to prevent your dog from licking them to minimize infection.

Delicate paw pads

Paw pads aren’t shoes. Not only do hot surfaces hurt dog’s paws, but rough ones can too. Rugged terrain may tear up your dog’s feet.

Dog booties to the rescue

In addition to avoiding trouble spots, you can also use puppy boots to keep your dog’s feet protected. This article has everything you need to know about dog boot options and finding the right fit. Keep in mind that boots take some getting used to for most dogs. Be patient and put them on for short intervals. They’ll adjust in no time.

Why Do Dogs Have Bad Breath?

Why Do Dogs Have Bad Breath?

By: Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

Living with dogs is fun! Their presence usually makes us feel happy and alive. In fact, dogs are considered one of the most potent cures for feeling blue and depression.

However, living with dogs has some drawbacks and one of them can be bad breath. Over the years, I have witnessed many dogs with breath so strong that it would keel over a logger. I can still remember the pungent smell of rotten teeth and gums of many unfortunate dogs because their loving, but unaware, people let their oral hygiene go too far.

Most people assume that bad breath is mainly connected to tartar build-up and gum disease, but that is not exactly the whole picture. It is true that dental issues are frequently the cause of bad breath or halitosis, but your dog’s less than fresh breath may also be a sign of metabolic imbalance, toxicity, poor digestion, an oral tumour or general disease.

The purpose of this article is to give you effective and practical points to make your dog’s breath fresh again and prevent some serious problems that can reduce your dog’s quality of life and life expectancy.

1. Oral health is the key

The main cause of dental disease is kibble. Carbohydrates, starches and even just the finely processed food itself adheres easily to the surface of teeth, feeding harmful bacteria that creates a thick layer of tartar. Gums initially become inflamed and infected and eventually recede, exposing and further eroding and damaging the bone and ligaments that hold your dog’s teeth in place.

A conventional veterinary practitioner normally recommends a yearly dental cleaning under anesthesia, but I find such a regular intervention unnecessary if you follow these steps:

-Feed your dog a non-processed raw or cooked diet free of grain and starches

-Add the right RAW bones to your dog’s diet, which I call the “nature’s dental hygienist”. For more info on what bones to feed, click here.

-Ask your veterinarian to hand scale your dog’s teeth or find a skilled dental hygienist that can do the same.

Some of my colleagues argue that this approach to dental care is not sufficient, but I have seen dogs in perfect dental health on this protocol. Plus, your dog does not need to go under anesthesia on a yearly basis.

2. Diet recommendations

I am sure you have been in situations where someone starts talking to you and you immediately hope that the conversation will not last long. Bad breath, in cases where dogs or people have no dental problems, is usually a sign of toxicity and digestive metabolic disturbances and diet has a lot to do with it.

Processed and chemically preserved food, once again, is the leading cause of such problems, but an inappropriate natural diet may also play a role. Chemicals, preservatives and poor quality ingredients produced on polluted and depleted soils with heavy pesticide use are complex, making it difficult for us to be able to completely decipher the impact. There are simply too many factors playing a role and the only way to deal with food is to do our best

Based on my observations in practice, the safest and quickest ways to solve your dog’s bad breath is to apply to follow these 4 steps.

1. Once again, feeding non-processed food is the key.

2. Whenever you can, support non-medicated and organic agriculture. It is good for you, your dog and also our planet.

3. Feed a raw or cooked diet, whichever you feel more comfortable with. If you are not familiar with wholesome non-processed diet feeding, you can register to receive information on an upcoming course here.

4. Feed a combination of meat, veggies and raw bones. Dogs that do have green leafy vegetables in their diet appear to have better breath, mainly because leafy greens have a cleansing and digestion balancing effect.

3. Toxicity

I mentioned in the section above that toxins such as preservatives, antibiotics and chemical pollutants play an important role in your dog’s health and bad breath occurrence. Once again, I need to emphasize that due to the degree of toxin levels in the environment, our goal should be to minimize the use and consumption of chemicals. The simple rule you can apply is, ‘if you don’t know it, don’t feed it.”

Here are some other foods you should avoid for toxicity reasons:

1. Rice due to the high presence of arsenic. More info here.

2. Large fish due to the presence of mercury. More info here.

3. Small fish, such as herring, sardines and similar fish due to the higher presence of strontium. More info here.

4. Beware of foods originating from countries with a reputation for poor quality control such as China. Remember some foods may be produced, but not made and packaged in China, and labeled for example as “Made in USA or Canada.”

5. Learn how to choose safe treats. More info here.

6. Use only dog toys that are made of child safe materials and never buy Chinese dog toys.

To summarize, you goal should be to minimize toxins, and not try to reach the impossible task of eliminating all toxins. If you are interested in finding out what levels of toxicity your dog has, you can use inexpensive and highly accurate HairQ test. More info here.

4. Nutritional deficiencies

There are not many people who would expect a carpenter to build a home without bricks, lumber other essential building blocks. There are not many drivers who would expect a car maker to build a car without brakes, doors, blinkers or even wheels.

However, there are still many people who don’t fully understand that good health can’t be built without the essential building blocks that the body needs. I have written much about soil depletion and deficiencies. I have seen this area of healthcare being mostly forgotten, despite that it causes premature aging and losses.

My general sense is that most people understand that vitamins, probiotics and omega oils are needed, but they often forget about the most important part of nutrients and that is minerals and essential amino-acids. These are the “bricks” of the body and unfortunately, the body can’t make them on its own.

Intensive agriculture has depleted the presence of minerals in soils to a large degree. Based on the dramatic changes that many people see after supplementing minerals and essential amino-acids, their deficit may be one of the most common causes of disease.

5. Stomach dysfunctions

This cause of halitosis may often be forgotten, but is also important. The canine stomach closely relates to the spinal segment of the last thoracic and first lumbar vertebrae. When your dog gets injured in this region or is naturally weak, the muscle spasm leads to decreased blood, nerve and energy flow to the stomach, which can lead to digestive disturbances.

I have seen this repeatedly and such “energy stagnation” can be detected by simply pressing on both sides of the spine. If your dog reacts by moving, looking at your in discomfort or skin twitching, it may be that the stomach is also compromised.

Some dogs arealso genetically predisposed to a lack of stomach acid production, which can also cause bad breath.

Stomach function can be also seriously altered by the use of NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) which in some cases, leads to stomach ulceration. For more informationclick here.

As you can see, dental problems are not the only cause of bad breath. I purposely didn’t mention one canine habit that has been encoded in dogs’ DNA for thousands of years. Dogs are scavengers and love to eat rotten and very smelly food. If your dog eats feces of other dogs or other species, it may be a habit, but it also may be a sign of digestive imbalances and deficiencies.

To summarize, bad breath in dogs needs to be taken seriously. Dental disease can damage your dog’s teeth and cause bacterial spread to the heart and kidneys, which can be very serious.

All cases of bad breath need to be seen as a systemic problem and addressed that way.

5 steps to healthy breath and a longer life for your dog

-Look after your dog’s teeth

Detox your dog

-Feed a raw or cooked diet, including raw bones

Provide the essential nutrients

-Ensure that your dog’s back is checked by an experienced chiropractor, physiotherapist or acupuncturist with good knowledge of the connections described above.

When Your Dog‘s Itching is Driving You Crazy

When Your Dog‘s Itching is Driving You Crazy

Orginally posted on drsophiayin.com by Dr. Sally J. Foote

What’s with all the scratching? Is it heat?

Summertime can often trigger skin rashes and ear infections in dogs. You may be cleaning your dog’s ears, bathing them, or giving them anti-histamines, yet they continue scratching away. There may be relief for a day or two, but it continues to come back. The foot licking, scratching, and gnawing starts to drive both you and your dog crazy. You Google all the remedies and you still cannot sleep at night – nor can your dog. What is going on here?

Possible Causes

While I cannot say specifically what is bothering your dog, there are some common factors that happen during the summer that increase allergy, infection, or flea problems significantly. When the days become more humid, the number of mosquitoes, fleas, and other biting insects can show a marked increase within a 24-hour period. These insects bite your dog triggering an allergic reaction. A dog who could once tolerate a few bites may then become overloaded and develop a rash. For some dogs they will have a rash on the belly; for others the ears will flare up. Baths in a soothing shampoo can help, but if your dog is still scratching or chewing intensely, have them examined by a veterinarian. The bacteria, yeast, and mange that is normally present will take advantage of the inflamed skin and make things worse. Delaying care will not only make your pet miserable, but creates a bigger problem that will take more medication, time, and money to treat.

Another factor that increases skin and ear inflammation is the increase in inhalant allergens from growing plants. Often, animals have a list of things they are allergic to, and they can tolerate a number of them at low levels with minimal skin or ear problems. Following a rainstorm, the pollen and mold counts increase, triggering intense allergic reactions. This can increase the inflammation, resulting in a rash that is intensely irritating. Controlling the allergens – like a food or flea allergens – can help when the environment rears its ugly head. It is best to work with your veterinarian to develop a plan for the care of your pets during the summer months.

What’s the plan?

If you have taken your dog to the veterinarian, and everything is better, it is still extremely important to have a plan to prevent continued flare-ups throughout the summer. Take your dog back in for that recheck even if the skin looks good, and partner with your veterinarian to develop a management plan. This will prevent chronic flare-ups which is best for your pet’s health and your sanity. I cannot stress enough the importance of a regular bathing schedule in the proper medicated shampoo as a preventative. Which shampoo is best, and how often, is what your veterinarian will prescribe as part of this plan. If your pet is difficult to bathe, many groomers will use the veterinarian prescribed shampoo you bring with you. You can also make bath-time more fun through positive training.

Irritated skin and ears can also cause dogs to be more agitated, or even aggressive. The chronic pain and irritation will tend to increase not only irritability, but also anxiety. Inflammation increases stress hormone release and decreases serotonin, an important brain chemical. This leads to guarding of the body – avoiding or reacting against touch. If your dog seems a little more “snarky” or “grumbling” (terms I hear clients use), it is likely a reaction directly related to the inflammation of the skin. When the skin improves, the behavior improves.