Monday, June 18, 2018

How to Tell If Your Dog is Anxious

Dogs do not speak human. I have written about anthropomorphizing your pet and as I said in that blog post, there are dangers in assuming you know what your pet is feeling. BUT, dogs do feel pain, sadness, happiness and even fear. Fear is the basis of anxiety whether it is a warranted fear or not, it elicits humans and dogs into the instinctual drive of either freezing, fighting or flight. Causes of anxiety in dogs can vary, it can be from an illness, aging, a terrible experience or even being unsocialized as a puppy. Regardless of the cause, it is up to us pet parents to recognize our dog's language on when it is frightened:

Mild Cues That Often Go Unnoticed

  • Hiding or seeking solitude
  • Seeking comfort from favorite guardian. Ex: Jumping up into a lap or leaning against legs.
  • Shaking or panting. Keep in mind that normal panting happens when a dog is hot or has just exercised. If your dog is excessively panting for no reason, they are probably anxious.
  • Excessive licking or chewing. This one you need to rule out allergies before jumping right into anxiety.
More Blatant Cues That Often Mean Your Dog is Having a Panic Attack
  • Excessive barking and howling.
  • Aggression towards another pet, you or someone else (that's the fight instinct triggering).
  • Trying to escape
  • Excessive pacing 
  • Excretion in inappropriate places when potty trained
  • Destruction that is not related to being a puppy or juvenile dog
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, the first and foremost thing is to go to your veterinarian to rule out a health issue. If it is indeed anxiety, there are many things you can do. After ruling out health issues, you need to identify what is causing the anxiety. Once you have the trigger identified, you can start a desensitization program with controlled exposure and giving rewards for positive behavior. This kind of program is best developed and implemented with a dog behaviorist expert. If done improperly, you could risk your dog's anxiety becoming worse. Veterinarians can also recommend medication or supplements to help with the anxiety. Most importantly, do not leave your dog's anxiety untreated. A dog's anxiety can escalate if left untreated. Your dog can end up in a dangerous situation or cause itself harm. In addition, do not scold or praise your dog when they are having a panic attack. You must remain calm and stable even when your furry companion is not. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Aussie Naturals Pet Toys

Our next toy review is Aussie Naturals. Above is a short video highlighting all the varieties of toys the dogs will be playing with this month at the daycare. Stay tuned, because at the end of the month, we will review them again with our thumbs up or down on the durability and fun-factor of each toy.

There is not much information about Aussie Naturals on the world wide internet. I think this is because they were acquired, along with Outback Jacks and Wild Eats, by Hyper Pet last year. I have written to Hyper Pet to request more detailed information about these products and hopefully, I will have the information by the end of the month! What I do know is that these toys are designed and manufactured to be safe, durable and sustainable. They are made from materials such as: natural rubber, jute, cotton, coconut fiber and leather.

Here are a few pictures of the dogs in action these last few days (They were introduced to the dogs on June 1st.)

If you would like to see more of our dogs in action and other reviews we will be doing each month, you can always follow our Facebook page. We also have Instagram! Last month, we tested and reviewed Aikiou and Animaganza. You can read our verdict ---> here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Sunscreen for Canines

Summer is right around the corner and soon it will be time to slather ourselves in sunscreen and hope for the best. Did you know that dogs are just as much at risk for sunburn as humans? Dogs at the highest risk for sunburn are light skinned dogs, dogs with short hair, with little to no hair and dogs that spend a lot of time in the water (or soaking up the sun rays). In addition, a dog's nose, ears and underside are the most at risk for getting sunburned. Like humans, genetics and diet play a role in the susceptibility to sunburn. Some dogs are just more sensitive to the damaging effects of the sun. A lot of caring dog owners will use sunscreen on their dogs, but they should never use commercial sunscreen made for humans. Human sunscreen has a whole list of ingredients that are toxic to canines, including zinc oxide. Dogs lick themselves all the time and end up ingesting the toxic components of the sunscreen. For a list of toxic elements, please visit this website--> click here.

There are ways a dog owner can protect their furry friend through diet and natural oils, though! A diet with foods rich in Lycopene is our first measure of sun safety. Lycopene is a phytonutrient and antioxidant that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables and can offer a small bit of natural sunscreen when ingested. We cannot soley rely on just Lycopene rich vegetables for sun protection because when ingested, only a small part of the lycopene is absorbed into the skin. A dog owner can increase the absorption by also pairing the fruit/vegetable with a good source of fat, such as: Coconut oil, fish oil, olive oil, hemp seed oil and Flax oil.

When adding fruits and vegetable to a dog's diet, the owner should always remember the proper proportions for a canine: 56% to 60% protein, 25% to 30% fat and 11% to 14% appropriate carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables) to ensure optimal health. In addition, the pits in fruits and vegetables (example: apricot and mangoes) should always be removed before feeding to your furry friend. Pits can cause intestinal obstructions that often end up either really costly or deadly. 

The second measure to sun safety is to select an oil that has a natural SPF in it and use it instead of commercial sunscreen. These oils are (and I've included the SPF number alongside):

  • Carrot Seed (30-38 SPF) which is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. It also has healing properties for skin issues. The only downside is that it has a slight orange tinge. Dog's with light hair may take on a carrot like hue from the oil dying the fur. 😋
  • Red Raspberry Seed Oil (30-50 SPF) has an excellent level of Vitamin E for dogs with dry, irritated and inflamed skin. 
Notice the range in SPF per oil? This is because mother nature is never exact and levels of SPF will vary depending upon the plant, where it is grown and when it is harvested. 

You can also add essential oils to the above oils to add healing benefits. But, you should never add citrus essential oils! These are phototoxic and will cause burns! Lavender Essential oil has healing properties as well as a natural SPF of 6%.  Always remember to dilute essential oils to a safe dog dilution (not human) and do not use on puppies less than 8 weeks old. In addition, make sure your oils are therapeutic grade! For more information on essential oil safety for canines, visit this link--> click here

Finally, I am providing you a recipe to make your own dog friendly sunscreen! All the oils listed will also have their approximate naturally occurring SPF next to the name.

1/4 cup coconut oil (2-8 SPF)
1/4 cup Shea butter (2-8 SPF)
1/8 cup Wheat Germ Oil (or hazelnut oil) (15 SPF)
2 TBS of beeswax
1 Tsp of Red Raspberry Seed Oil (30-50 SPF)
1 Tsp of Carrot seed oil (30-38 SPF)
6 drops of Lavender Essential Oil (Optional) (6%)

Directions: Melt all the oils, except the Lavender Essential Oil, together on low in a sauce pan. Be sure not to over heat and bring to a boil. Once everything is melted, pour into a mason jar and add the essential oil and gently stir with a non-metal spoon. Allow to cool to a hardened state. That's it! 

Additional links to get you started on your own research: