Monday, April 17, 2017

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:

Monday, April 3, 2017

Training: "Leave it" in 5 Steps

"Leave it" is a training skill that could potentially save your dog's life. Before you start to train your dog on how to leave something on the ground, it's best that they have already mastered "sit" and leash walking. Below, I have outlined how to teach your dog how to "Leave It", but first I would like to explain how to go about teaching your dog this skill:

1. Only teach your dog a new skill for about 15 minutes a day in 5 minute sessions. "Leave it" is a good skill to practice during commercial breaks. 😏 If you go all hard core on the training and do more than 15 minutes a day in 5 minutes sessions, you risk over saturating your dog and stressing them out.... or they will just become plain ol' bored with the task and not listen to you.

2. In my steps, you will see "P/R". This means "Praise and Reward". Praise= a "good job" or "good boy/girl!" with lots of happy enthusiasm. Reward= a treat. Usually pea sized treats are sufficient for training sessions. If your dog does not respond to food treats, you may need to get creative on what reward to use.

3. Do not move onto the next step until your dog has mastered the previous step. Mastering a step may take a few days. These steps are not meant to be blasted through in one day!

And now.... the steps!






Once your dog has mastered step five, you can move on to practicing with real life objects: table scraps, cat boxes, dirty diapers... pretty much all the gross stuff dogs like to get into that they really shouldn't. Once the skill is learned by your dog, make sure to practice it weekly in order to maintain the training! Otherwise, you may have to start all over again. 😞

Monday, March 13, 2017

Top 10 Rules for Children Around Dogs


Cute picture of the child hugging the dog, huh? But, it is images like these that compel me to write a blog about teaching children rules for being around dogs. There are certain elements of respect that we would give humans that also should be given to dogs. If we follow these rules, accidental dog bites and injuries should be kept at bay:

  1. Do not hug a dog. Yes, humans like hugs, but dogs don't and dog's are not humans! Hugs make dogs nervous. Dogs can be trained to tolerate hugs, but it's not really their cup of tea and they would rather you stay out of their personal bubble. 
  2. No Running. Children must be trained not to run up to a dog. This could startle or scare the dog. In addition, children should not run in front of a dog even while playing with the dog. This could trigger the prey instinct in a dog and will often result in a child getting nipped in the butt or getting knocked down and bitten. 
  3. Don't touch body parts. Dogs should be pet from head to the base of the tail in a stroking motion with the palm of the hand. Children should not pull ears or tails. Or be messing around with the legs, paws, ect...
  4. Leave your dog alone while he/she is eating. Let's put it this way-- Would you like it if someone came up and placed their hand in your dinner plate? Probably not. Please, when a dog is eating, give him/her space to eat in peace.
  5. Do not steal a dog's toys. Instead, teach your dog "drop it" if you really need the toy. But, don't just grab it out from under them. It's rude!
  6. Leave your dog alone while he/she is sleeping. Same as with eating--Would your really want someone messing with you while you are taking your much beloved nap? Probably not.
  7. Loud noises hurt dog's ears. A dog's hearing is WAY more sensitive than a humans. For Parents: You know how frazzled you get when your kids are running and screaming through the house? Now imagine that you can hear 4 times the distance and higher frequencies. That is a dog's hearing. A frantic, loud household= an over stimulated dog.
  8. Do not tease your dog. They don't understand teasing and it's not funny to them. All it will do is build a level of distrust in your relationship.
  9. Crates are safe places. Please train your children that if Fido goes to his/her crate, it's alone time. This is an area that should be comforting and quiet for them. 
  10. Playtime has ended. Children should learn how to read their dog's language to know when playtime has ended. If Fido is walking away, they are done. On the flip side, Dog's should be trained to know when playtime has ended! 
I hope this helps! Please be consistent with these rules with your children. It will make your furry family member feel secure and safe knowing that "the pack" is being respectful of boundaries.