Surprise, Your Dog Has New Year Resolutions Too!

 

With the year coming to an end, you might have special plans in mind for next year, but what about your dog? Chances are high your dog has New Year’s resolutions too! Of course, Rover won’r compile a New Year’s resolution to-do-list like many people do, and obviously he can’t express them in words, but as dog owners, we must be our dog’s ambassadors as they depend quite a lot on us for their health and mental well being.  So for New Year’s why not help Rover keep his resolutions for a healthy and happier year ahead? Chances are, some of these resolutions may benefit you too! So here are Five News Year’s Resolutions your dog wants you to know about.

“I Shall Shed Some Pounds”…

According to the The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) an estimated 58 percent of dogs in the Unites States are overweight or obese. And just as in people, those extra pounds makes dogs susceptible to several medical conditions such as orthopedic problems, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems, cancer and an over all decreased life expectancy.

Helping your dog lose weight is much easier than thought considering that you are the one in control of portions and distribution of treats. Consider feeding your dog at specific times versus providing food ad libitum, that is, leaving food at your dog’s disposal all day.

Start using measuring cups so you have better control on the amount of food consumed and use a portion of your dog’s food for treats or training, suggests board-certified veterinarian Christopher G. Byers.

Consult with your vet for appropriate dietary changes to help your dog shed extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight.  

“And I Shall Get More Exercise”

On top of shedding extra pounds, engaging more in exercise is another New Year’s Resolution that tops Rover’s list.

You can help him reach this goal by cutting a bit of your spare time and taking your dog on walks. This way, your dog gets to lead a happier and healthier life, but the best part is, so do you!

This resolution may therefore match your own if your were planning to embrace New Year’s with the idea of shedding a few pounds or leading a healthier lifestyle.

Whether you are planning on jogging, going on hikes on trails or long leisurely walks,  you dog will certainly be happy to accompany you.

Just make sure that you’re dog is properly conditioned for the type of exercise you are planning to include him and that he’s old enough; too much exercise or of the wrong type in puppies may have a negative impact on their growth plates.

“I Shall Be Kept More Mentally Stimulated…”

Sure, losing weight and getting more exercise are great resolutions, but let’s not forget that Rover has a mind too, and that mind needs to be kept busy.

Dog owners often forget about this, but dogs like to keep their minds occupied just as much as they like to play and romp around.

Of course, when we talk about mental stimulation, we’re not talking about getting our dogs to do crossword puzzles, compose a piece of music or a solve a game of Sodoku.

Instead, we’re talking about interactive games such as hiding his kibble in hard-to-find places, stuffing a Kong or putting his whole meal in maze bowls.

If you are short of ideas, there are several books that offer a variety of games and puzzles that you can set up for your dog using just a few items you have already laying around the house. Brain Training for Dogs is an e-book with many games and tips to get you started.

“And  I Shall Learn New Skills.”

Just like you are planning to achieve new goals and better yourself, your dog is eager to “continue his education,” whether it involves learning a new trick,  being engaged in a new fun doggy sport or learning to walk politely on leash.

Whatever you are planning to teach your dog this coming year, make sure to always keep it fun and rewarding. Learning something new should be something your dog enjoys and looks forward to, so make sure to embrace the joy of positive reinforcement training without the use of aversives. 

Why not try clicker training if this is something you still haven’t discovered? You will learn a lot too as the use of clicker will teach you how to master good timing and some mechanical skills (ever tried to click your clicker the exact moment a ball touches the floor?)

And Don’t Forget to Keep Discovering More About Me! 

Last but not least, Rover’s last resolution regards you, his beloved owner. Rover whispered in our ears that he hopes you will continue to discover more cool things about him so that you’ll be able to understand him better.

We hope that this whole year with us has been an entertaining journey for you as it was for us. Discovering every day something new about our canine friends was quite an enthralling experience!

We are happy to have made it so far,  bringing you 365 days filled with learning something new about Rover’s behavior, body language, anatomy, health and uncovering the meaning of some  new dog words.

For us, it has been quite a journey and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we have! Here are wishes for a wonderful year ahead and may all your resolutions come true!

Nine Fascinating Facts About Dog Saliva

 

You likely don’t pay much attention to your dog’s saliva until you watch some droplets fall down, and then, before you know it, a little puddle of saliva has formed as your dog watches you eat a juicy steak. Dog saliva after all is meant to stay inside, nicely tucked inside your dog’s mouth, but in some breeds with heavy jowls, that can be easier said that done. Owners of such dogs seem to always be prepared for the saliva downpour and keep a towel handy so to catch those droplets and slingers. Dog saliva after all, may seem like something boring, but instead there are several fascinating facts about dog saliva that are worthy of discovering.

Pavlov Studied Dog Saliva….

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who, after reading Charles Darwin, abandoned his religious career to totally dedicate himself to natural science. He therefore started studying the mechanisms underlying the digestive system in mammals.

As he researched the interaction between salivation and the action of the stomach, Pavlov decided to involve dogs in his studies. To better understand the mechanism, a clear tube was connected to the dog’s salivary gland in the cheek which allowed him to keep track of the amount of saliva collecting. Saliva production was therefore copious when the scientists placed food in the dog’s mouth.

Pavlov’s studies revealed that the biological production of saliva had an important function in the digestive process and that, without salivation, the stomach failed to get the necessary input to start the digestive process. This was proof that digestive functions were linked by biological reflexes in the autonomic nervous system.

When He Stumbled on an Interesting Phenomenon.

At some point, in the midst of observing dogs salivating when food was offered to them, Pavlov saw an interesting phenomenon unveil. He noticed that even when there was no food in sight, the dogs were still salivating. This happening at first was perceived as an annoyance considering that the tubes kept collecting saliva even when the scientists weren’t conducting research.

However, Pavlov carefully evaluated the situation and came to a possible conclusion that the dogs were likely drooling at the mere sight of the scientists’ white lab coats in anticipation for the food.

To prove this theory, he starting ringing a metronome to signal the approach of food. After several trials, he noticed that the dogs not only began to salivate upon hearing the noise of the metronome, but at some point even when no food was present!

This led to the discovery that salivation, a biological reflexwas capable of being modified by something psychological, in this case, a sense of anticipation. Pavlov named this type of reflex a “conditioned reflex,basically a reflex that resulted from associative learning so to differentiate it from the biological reflex, while the whole process of associative learning was called Pavlovian conditioning in his honor, today also known as respondent conditioning or classical conditioning.

This discovery opened the doors to understanding the science of behavior and American psychologist John Watson further expanded this research and, with his Little Albert studies, used its principles to change a human’s behavior.

Dog Saliva Can Help Clean Wounds….

When you get a wound you likely rush to wash it with soap and water, but what does a dog have to do? Prior to domestication, that means prior to when dogs had owners rushing to clean and disinfect a dog’s wounds, dogs relied on themselves to clean up a wound.

The mechanical action of a dog’s tongue along with saliva, helped remove any dirt or debris present on the wound’s surface. So yes, a dog’s saliva along with some tongue action can help remove stuff from the wound that shouldn’t be there, which is good.

The next question though is: does dog saliva have any antibacterial properties?

You may have stumbled at some point or another on somebody claiming that it’s good to let dogs lick their wounds because dog saliva has healing properties. This statement makes sense overall considering how quickly wounds in the mouth tend to heal, but is there any truth to it?

To attain the answer to this we had to go dig up some studies. According to a study conducted by Benjamin L. Hart, and Karen L. Powell, saliva in male and female dogs was found to have antibacterial properties, in particular against Escherichia coli and Streptococcus canis, which comes handy when mother dogs are licking their newborn pups which are predisposed to highly fatal coliform enteritis and septicemia. This suggests that wound licking in dogs may therefore help reduce contamination with E. coli and S. canis

But Only Up to a Certain Point.

As with everything in life, moderation is key. Sure, dog saliva may have antibacterial properties, but it also contains bad bacteria as well. Also, given the opportunity, dogs will tend to lick a whole lot which can cause loads of trouble as the repeated abrasive action of the tongue, along with keeping a wound moist for too long (moisture attracts bacteria), may lead to an infection or injury. This is why veterinarians often recommend that dogs wear the infamous “cone of shame” AKA the infamous  Elizabethan Collar

“When a pet licks a surgical incision, he is introducing contamination, not removing it. In the case of non-surgical wounds, I don’t care if a pet licks a few times before treatment is initiated, but once the area has been thoroughly cleaned and medications started, the downsides of licking once again outweigh its benefits.”~Dr. Jennifer Coates

Did you know? When dogs lick their paws in excess, they may cause what is known as lick granuloma, as seen in the picture.

 

Saliva Aids in Digestion…

If your dog produces saliva, you must thank his salivary glands which are found in your dog’s upper and lower jaw. Want to know more about them? Dogs have two zygomatic glands by the cheek bone near the dog’s eyes, two parotid glands where the head meets the neck, two sublingual glands under the dog’s tongue and two mandibular glands, by the dog’s lower jaw.

As in humans, saliva helps keep Rover’s mouth nice and moist and helps lubricate the passage of  chewed-up food from the mouth through the esophagus and then all the way down to the dog’s stomach.  The blob of chewed-up food is formally known as “bolus” and the more slippery it is, the easier it will slide down without causing damage.

You might have heard the saying “the digestive process starts in the mouth.” All this means is that chewing stimulates the process of breaking down some components of food so that they’re more easy to assimilate. Well, this applies to dogs too. As dogs chew, saliva helps break down starch into individual sugar molecules, explains veterinarian Race Foster.  Not all salivary glands though produce the same type of saliva.

According to Dukes’ Physiology of Domestic Animals, saliva may vary from a watery consistency to thicker, mucoid-like. For instance, the parotid glands, produce a watery saliva rich in amylase, which is what helps dog digest starch, while the sublingual glands, on the other hand, produce a mucus-type of saliva rich in mucin, which helps the bolus travel from the mouth to the stomach.

But Excess Saliva May Be A Sign Your Dog is Nauseous.

Excess salivation should send you on a “barf alert.” Keep those paper towels handy and send Rover on a tiled area for an easy clean-up the moment you notice him drooling and smacking his lips. Why do dogs drool though when they are getting sick? If dogs drool in anticipation of food and saliva helps kick start the digestive process, then why in the world is saliva again getting in the way when a dog is actually about to lose his lunch?

Well, here’s a fascinating fact: saliva in this case assumes a protective role. Since vomit is very acidic in nature, the increase in saliva seen when one becomes nauseous is meant to help minimize erosion to the mouth and tooth enamel caused by those potent gastric acids.

Did you know? Your dog’s salivary glands also increase salivation when there are irritating substances in the mouth.

 

Saliva Can Help Dogs Cool Down…

Dogs do not cool down primarily through their skin like humans do, but their main way of cooling off is by panting. You might not know this, but your dog’s saliva can play a role in helping Rover cool down when those temperatures soar in the dog days of summer or after exercising.

Here’s a little insight into the process. When your dog is hot, he will keep his mouth open and breath quickly. This heavy panting allows the saliva-moistened surfaces of his mouth and tongue to cool down by increasing evaporation. Since blood flows through the mouth and tongue, once the blood cools down, it reaches the rest of the dog’s body and thus, lowers the dog’s core temperature. This evaporation is ultimately one of the several ways dogs cool down when they’re hot.

But It Can Also Lead to Unsightly Stains

If you own a white colored dog with a passion for licking, you might be aware of the effects of excess licking on your dog’s coat, but what causes those stains in your dog’s fur in the first place? In this case, you must blame your dog’s saliva. According to Muller and Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology the main cause for dog saliva and dog tears to cause unsightly reddish stains is due to presence of porphyrins. What exactly are porphyrins? Porphyrins  are simply molecules that contain iron as the result of the natural breakdown of red blood cells. While most poryphyrins are excreted from the body when a dog eliminates, traces of porphyrin may also be excreted through a dog’s tears, saliva, and urine.

And Finally Some Dogs Just Can’t Keep Saliva In

Saliva is really supposed to be stored nicely in a dog’s mouth, some breeds though are by design naturally born droolers. The  shape of a dog’s upper lip (flews) can surely play a role in how predisposed a dog may be to drooling.

Many owners of dogs with particularly developed flews have gotten used to cleaning up what are known as “slingers;” basically, strings of drool that attach to floors, ceilings and walls every time slobbery dogs happen to shake their heads.

It’s very difficult to come by a Saint Bernard with a dry mouth. Many seasoned dog owners though have simply learned to cope with the drooling issue.

“You just always carry a towel and learn to live with it,” explains a fancier to the American Kennel Club Gazette. Coping mechanisms aside, those slingers are not to be underestimated: Barbara Meyer explains in her blog that, left alone, this spittle has the tendency to dry into a rock-like hardness and that she heard a dog owner speculating that it might be of interest to NASA for the purpose of gluing down the tiles of their space shuttles! Quite some amazing stories for just a spit of saliva, aren’t they?

Did you know? A 20 kilogram dog (around 44 pounds) is capable of producing  anywhere between a half a liter up to 1 liter of saliva a day! The amount is usually higher in dogs who are fed dry foods.

 

References:

  • Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), People and Discoveries, Ivan Pavlov, retrieved from the web on December 30th, 2016
  • Antibacterial properties of saliva: Role in maternal periparturient grooming and in licking wounds Benjamin L. Hart, Karen L. Powell, Physiology & Behavior Volume 48, Issue 3, September 1990, Pages 383–386
  • Lussi A, Jaeggi T. Erosion – diagnosis and risk factors. Clin Oral Investig. 2008;12:S5–13.

Photo Credits:

  • Wikipedia, Ivan Pavlov, Public Domain
  • Wikipedia, A statue of Ivan Pavlov and one of his dogs Илья Го. (грохотайло) – Я автор этой фотографии CCBY3.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, osseousOctober 7, 2013, Luna licking CCBY2.0
  • Wikipedia, Canine lick granuloma / acral lick dermatitis; self-inflicted as an obsessive-compulsive self-destructive behavior,selfOwn work CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Flickr, Creative Commons, Paul Joseph, drool dog CCBY2.0

What’s the Difference Between Dog Howling and Baying?

 

While dogs can’t talk, we must admit that Mother Nature has blessed them with the capacity to produce a variety of sounds and at one point or another one may wonder what’s the difference between dog howling and baying. Most of us are familiar with the sound of dogs howling, dogs are often heard howling at sirens or when the owners leave the house. Baying is typical of certain dog breeds and it may be confused sometimes for howling, but the noise produced is a tad bit different and the purpose may be a bit different as well.

A Word About Howling

Howling is the sound often associated with canines in the wild and is characterized by a prolonged, loud, wailing sound. The howling sound is used by wolves for aggregation purposes, a way to reunite other wolves to gather for the hunt.

It may happen that the wolves are scattered about with some sleeping and others wandering, and being that wolves take a cooperative approach to hunting, it’s necessary for them to unite. Howling in this case therefore elicits social contact.

Howling in wolves has also a social function, when wolves are howling in unison, it creates a sense of belonging, a sense of group cohesion.

As we have seen in a previous article, dogs are different from wolves in many ways, and domestication has brought some changes in the ways dogs communicate vocally. For instance, since dogs no longer hunt for their meals and are fed kibble from a bag, howling to gather a group for a hunt has lost its original function and therefore dogs howl less. Dogs however, bark more considering that barking was selectively bred by humans so dogs could alert them of the presence of other animals or strangers.

Although dogs tend to howl less than wild canines, the howling behavior is often evoked by sounds like sirens, musical instruments such as flutes or harmonicas, other dogs howling or the owner mimicking a howling sound. Howling can also take place in dogs when they are separated from their owners and feel lonely. In this case the mournful howl may denote a dog’s desire to re-unite with his family.

Did you know? When wolves howl together, they harmonize rather than emitting the same notes so that they give the illusion of there being more wolves than what they really are. Recordings of wolves have shown that no wolf wants to end up howling using the same note as another.

A Word About Baying

Over hundreds of years, hunters found the “howling” sounds produced by dogs productive because it carried a long way and was helpful when working with dogs following trails over certain distances. Hunters could loose sight of their dogs because of distance or thick vegetation and their vocalizations could keep them aware about their whereabouts.

Certain dogs were therefore selectively bred over hundreds of years for their ability to “bay,” or “give tongue,” a distinct vocalization that has a tendency to become more intense and enthusiastic the closer the dog gets to the animals that are hunted.

This increase in intensity draws the attention of other dogs and hunters to gather at the trail area or where the animal is cornered.

Did you know? In hunting terms a hound who happens to vocalize when there is really nothing significant going on is called a “babbler.”

“As the scent becomes stronger, suggesting that the pack is now very close to its prey, the baying becomes a bit less melodious, as the individual sound phrases become shorter in duration but more frequent, and the massage now shifts to mean “Let’s get him!” or “Altogether now!”~ Stanley Coren

Howling Versus Baying

Howling is the noise produced by wild canines and in certain circumstances by the domesticated dog; whereas, baying is the sound exclusively emitted by hounds. You’ll therefore have beagles baying when they catch the scent of quarry and coonhounds baying when game has been “treed.”

If the two vocalizations were compared, howling would entail a single note, whereas baying would comprise more variations within the tone and short bursts, explains Stanley Coren, the book “Do Dogs Dream?: Nearly Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know.”

One may also assume that baying is much more enthusiastic than a mournful howl and even though it has an element of “come join me” it’s more geared towards gathering the hunter and other dogs to the area where something exciting was found.

However, as much as baying may seem the result of years of selective breeding, it’s still likely reminiscent of a dog’s ancestors after all, considering that wolves too emit vocalizations upon detecting prey. According to Seton, author of  “Life-histories of northern animals : an account of the mammals of Manitoba page 770, ” a “muster” or a “rallying cry” may be emitted by a wolf upon finding game that is too big for him to confront alone, while a higher pitched howl vibrating on two notes known as the “hunting song, corresponds exactly with the full cry of a pack of hounds on the hot scent!”

Did you know? There are chances that the word beagle derives from the old French word “becguele” meaning “noisy person,” or more literally “bayer” meaning “open throat” due to this dog’s loud baying.

 

References:

  • Original Dog Bible: The Definitive Source for All Things Dog, edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, Lumina Media; First Paperback Edition. first printing edition (May 2005)
  • Do Dogs Dream?: Nearly Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know By Stanley Coren, W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (July 16, 2012)
  • Seton, E. T. (1909) Life-histories of northern animals : an account of the mammals of Manitoba, part II, New York City : Scribner, pp. 749-788
  • Lopez, Barry H. (1978). Of Wolves and Men. J. M. Dent and Sons Limited.ISBN 0-7432-4936-4.

Photo Credits:

Interesting Ways Dogs Greet Each Other

 

When it comes to dog greeting behaviors, dogs may greet each other by following certain “guidelines” based on species-specific social etiquette. Not all dogs necessarily follow such  dog greeting etiquette, as every dog is different and every dog may greet other dogs in different ways, but those dogs who adhere to such greeting etiquette are often found to be less likely to cause conflict. As we have seen in a previous post, dogs have different dog-to-dog tolerance levels, and therefore the utmost caution is always needed when your dog meets and greets stranger dogs. So here are some interesting dog-to-dog greeting behaviors.

dog-pheromonesA Look at Dog Pheromone Glands

To better understand dog to dog greeting behaviors it’s important to know a bit more about pheromones. When dogs meet and greet one another, a whole lot goes on a chemical level. Several pheromone glands are distributed throughout the dog’s body and are concentrated on certain body parts, as seen in the picture.

What’s the purpose of these glands? Pheromone glands secrete special volatile, odorous substances that are meant to relay special messages to the receiver.

The dog on the receiving end, therefore, analyzes these substances courtesy of a special organ, the Jacobson organ, that’s located just nearby the anterior portion by the roof of the dog’s mouth. Right behind the dog’s top incisive teeth is what’s called the  incisive papilla,” a special duct that connects to this organ.

The dog’s incisive papilla allows scent molecules to travel to the dog’s Jacobson organ and then reach their destination by the dog’s brain.

If you have ever seen a dog smelling the grass or another dog, and then such dog chatters his teeth, and perhaps even foams at the mouth, he’s likely gathering these scent molecules towards the incisiva papilla with the help of his tongue (tonguing). Once up the incisive papilla, these scent molecules then travel to the vomeronasal organ and then  reach their destination, the dog’s brain where they are finally interpreted. When dogs meet and greet, the role of these pheromones play a large role allowing dogs to learn more about each other.

The primary pheromone secreting glands in the dog are the labial, auricular, perianal, genital (vulvar or preputial), interdigital (pedal) and mammary complexes of sebaceous glands. Most of the information apparently enters via the vomeronasal organ “~Dr. Bonnie Beaver

Dog Facial-Lingual Greetingfacial-lingual-greeting-dogs

This is one of the most common ways dogs are forced to interact with other dogs when they’re on leash, basically, head-on.  This is generally not a preferred method  to meet as seen in the tense dogs in the picture on the right.

As the name implies, in facial-lingual greeting dogs engage in mutual investigation of each other’s faces. As seen in the picture above, dogs have several pheromones located in their head area.

A dog’s ears have special ceruminous and sebaceous glands which also contain pheromones. According to Dr. Cam Day, these pheromones are similar to the dog appeasing pheromones released from mother dogs, only that in this case, they’re applied to a wider basis for social purposes.

These pheromones found in the skin around the ears are often attractive to younger animals and may provide a cohesion effect with a social group. Adult dogs though may be interested in ears too, and it’s not unusual seeing dogs sniffing each other’s ears as part of their greeting ritual.

The labial area (lip area) is also of special interest to dogs. When dogs greet each other, its not usual to see them sniffing each other’s mouths. Remnants smells of what they ate may be attractive, but the lip area is also an area that secretes pheromones. Karen Overall claims that dog breath samples may also provide information from a neurochemical perspective. This lip licking is sometimes seen in dogs who have been separated from another dog for some time and are trying to gain information.

“Dog appeasing pheromones have a calming effect on puppies. It has also been isolated from the ears in some adult dogs and may play a role in social communication and cohesion.” ~Nicola Ackerman

dog-inguinal-greetingDog Inguinal Greeting

Another area of interest is the groin area. In male dogs, there are also pheromones that are secreted here from the preputial area and urinary tract area. The presence of pheromones from the urinary tract explains why dogs are fixated with urine marking and sniffing other dog’s pee.

Dogs will urine mark on vertical surfaces leaving pheromones behind that can be easily detected at “nose-level” for other dogs to check out. Dogs tend to react differently to pee: some just carefully sniff it and then leave the area, while some others will pee on top of it.

This habit is what has triggered the marketing of pee posts treated with synthetic pheromones for the purpose of grabbing a dog’s attention and hopefully enticing  him to eliminate on them next time nature calls.

dog sniffing under tailsDog Ano-Genital Greeting

This is one of the most common ways dogs greet one another, and the one that people are most accustomed to. In a natural setting, unlike dogs meeting head-on as dogs are often forced to do when on leash, dogs arch their bodies in a curve and investigate one another in a head-to-tail, ano-genital greeting.

What is so interesting with sniffing each other’s butts? Again, pheromones plays a role here. The anal glands, also known as scent glands, are sacs that are found under the tail and around the dog’s rectum at the 4 0’clock and 8 o’ clock position.

The anal glands are known for also secreting pheromones, and this is why dogs are so interested in sniffing another dog’s stool on top of sniffing each other’s butts.

A female dog’s vulval and urinary tract area is also an area of interest. Several pheromone glands in this area secrete information pertaining her reproductive status. In intact female dogs in heat, the scent of pheromones can be picked up by male dogs even miles away. The pheromone concentration in her urine may also tell a male dog whether she is receptive or not. The specific compound has been identified as methyl p-hydroxybenzoate, and according to a study, when this compound was applied to spayed female dogs, it caused male dogs to attempt to mount.

dog tipDid you know? Generally, dogs prefer to greet other dogs by first sniffing under their tails, but afterward they may be interested to exploring other areas where pheromones may also be present such as the lips, remarks Tracie Hotchner, in the book “The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know.

A Matter of Social Etiquette

If after a brief sniffing and mutual assessment, both dogs are happy with each other, they may go on with their lives or, if they’re in the mood, they may provide invitations to play. Not all greetings always end up smoothly though. Some dogs may be too rowdy, getting into the other dog’s faces or pawing. These Canine Tarzans can cause problems with dogs who dislike these types of interactions and who feel the need to “correct” the rude behavior. Generally, it’s polite to just take a few seconds of sniffing to get acquainted with one another and then move off. A dog who lingers on sniffing too much may be “reprimanded” by the dog being sniffed. Also, caution must be used with dogs standing over other dogs, in the perpendicular “T” position.

dog tipDid you know? By the age of 6 weeks, most puppies will have learned species-specific greeting behaviors including facial-lingual, inguinal and ano-genital greeting approaches, explains board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Bonnie Beaver in the book “Canine Behavior: Insights and Answers.”

References:

  • Canine Behavior – Elsevier eBook on VitalSource (Retail Access Card): Insights and Answers, 2nd Edition, by Bonnie V. Beaver Saunders; 2 edition (January 5, 2009)

Photo Credits:

Flickr Ctreative Commons State FarmCanine friends – K-9 Fresca and K-9 Sadie, CCBY2.0
Flick Creative Commons, Tony Alter When Dogs Meet & Greet, CCBY2.0
Wikipedia, Ano-genital control, . Hundehalter CCBY3,0

Six Labels That Hurt Your Relationship With Your Dog

 

“My dog is crazy, my dog is stupid, my dog is willful, my dog is dominant, my dog is vicious, my dog is vengeful.” How many times have you labeled your dog using such terminology to describe him? If you are guilty of labeling your dog as such, you may likely fail to fully understand his behaviors and needs and you may end up doing things that may hurt your relationship with your dog. The use of these labels therefore goes beyond a matter of semantics. Sometime though, re-labeling certain traits of your dog with words that more accurately provide a description of what it truly going on can change the ways you relate with your companion.

crazy-dog“My Dog is Crazy!”

The word crazy in this case may have a benevolent tone at times such as when used to depict those funny moments of “doggy craziness” such as when dogs get a bout of zoomies after a bath, but at times it may have a not-so-benevolent tone.

If you label your dog as crazy when he is acting hyper, bouncing off the walls, jumping on you, this label will do no good as it may lead to a sense of helplessness.

Dog trainers hear this many times “My dog is crazy, and I don’t know what to do” or “I am at my wit’s end with my dog’s craziness, I think he has ADHD.”

Sometimes dog owners are desperate and on the verge of re-homing their dog. The term crazy in this case denotes mental illness,  perhaps something that the owners feels that’s beyond fixing.

dog tipPutting things into perspective: no worries, “crazy dogs” don’t need to be locked up in a mental institution and wrapped up in a straitjacket! In reality, most dogs are not crazy or close to being it. Dogs depicted as “crazy” are often simply youngsters, dogs stuck in the doggy adolescent stage, who are in need of help for learning constructive ways to release their pent-up energy. Exercise, mental stimulation, a structured training and strategic management plan can work wonders in the long run in calming these dogs down. If you own a “crazy dog”consult with a positive dog trainer to help you out; and for those rare true cases of clinical hyperactivity or ADHD, a qualified behavior professional can provide help.

“Boy, do I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say their dog was “hyperactive” or “ADHD” – I’d be a wealthy woman. In fact, those are clinical terms referring to very specific behavioral disorders (canine and human) that are relatively uncommon in dogs. In reality, most “hyper” dogs are just under-exercised.” ~Pat Miller

“My Dog is Stupid!”stupid-dog

This label is often used for dogs who are not excelling much in the obedience department, dogs who flunk obedience classes and who don’t seem to be as “bright” as the neighbor’s dog who can give paw, roll over and play dead.

Even labeling dogs as stupid often denotes a sense of helplessness, as if these dogs cannot be trained because they are lacking something substantial in the IQ department.

If you are labeling your dog as stupid, most likely you have give up training because you’re deeply discouraged and upset by your dog’s lack of progress.

dog tipPutting things in perspective: not all dogs have the same type of intelligence. Different dog breeds were selectively bred for accomplishing different tasks, so it’s totally normal for Bingo the beagle to be more attracted to going on a sniffing adventure than fetching your slippers as Rover the retriever does.

There is no such a thing as a stupid dog.  Often behind a dog labeled as stupid is a dog who needs a little more guidance of what is expected from him. Perhaps, breaking up an exercise in smaller steps and trying to train in a quieter area where there are not many distractions going on can prove helpful. High-value treats come also handy for dogs who need a stronger incentive. And good timing is a must, so that the dog knows exactly which behavior you want. All these factors together can help better communicate what is wanted from your dog. If you are still struggling, don’t give up: consult with a dog trainer using reward-based methods, your training problem could be an easy fix.

“Dogs in many ways are just like people. Some dogs will pick things up very quickly and others will take more time and guidance. Often times when we as trainers see a dog having difficulty learning a task, it’s because the dog is not being communicated to in a way that the dog can understand.” ~Association of Professional Dog Trainers

dog-climbing“My Dog is Willful!”

This term is often perpetuated by websites depicting certain dog breeds. ” Another popular term is “stubborn” or “obstinate.” Generally, these terms are used to depict a dog who is not eager to “please owners” and just wants to do his own thing.

Usage of this term has negative implications as it gives the idea that such dogs are determined and nothing can stop them. It gives the impression that some trait is encoded deep into the dog’s genetic makeup and therefore there’s pretty much nothing that can be done to get the dog to become more collaborative.

If you use this term often, you may have felt many times like tossing the towel and giving up trying to coax your dog to do something other than what he wants.

dog tipPutting things in perspective: it’s a common myth that dogs are born eager to please their owners. In reality, dogs engage in behaviors that have a history of reinforcement. Willful dogs are often simply dogs who are untrained and determined to achieve something else other than what the owner wants because of genetics.

Terrier dogs dig not because they are willful, but because they are genetically wired to do so, sight hounds will chase after fleeing squirrels because that’s what they were bred for, collies will want to herd anything that moves because herding is what they have been doing for centuries. As with dogs labeled as stupid, dogs labeled as willful benefit from clear instructions and consistency. Setting these dogs for success requires finding what motivates them so to help these dogs make good choices.

“When a dog doesn’t listen to or follow commands, it’s not typically because he is hardheaded or untrainable. The problem is often that normal dog behaviors simply don’t conform to human standards of good manners, and changing behavior that comes naturally to a dog can take time and effort.” ~Mikkelle Becker

“My Dog is Dominant!”dominant-dog

A popular television show has created a surge in the usage of this term and now we are still stuck with its negative repercussions. The term is often used to describe dogs who are willful, but in a more negative way as if dogs were eager to take over the planet and become the big chest-thumping “alphas.”

Dog owners therefore feel compelled to take over the “alpha role” and gain back the reins of dog ownership by putting dogs “in their place.” This often entails  using aversion-based techniques that tend to negatively impact the bond between dog and owner and that may turn out  also being risky.

dog tipPutting things in perspective: often behind so called “dominant’ dogs are simply dogs who are performing behaviors that have a history of being rewarded.

Dogs jump on their owners as a way to greet or as a way to get attention, it’s not like they’re trying to get taller and rule the roost. Dogs enjoy the couch because it’s comfy and they feel safe and secure not because they perceive it as their “throne.” Dogs who pull on the leash do so because they want to explore their surroundings, a natural behavior all dogs are born with and not because they want to rule what path to take. Dogs lean against people because they trust them and have a desire to seek contact and the behavior has a history of reinforcement.

Despite what many people think, dogs are not there strategically plotting on how to rule the roost, they are simply opportunists who just need some guidance and consistency. Instead of fretting over the thought that your dog is being “dominant, ” focus on training your dog exactly what you want him to do to replace the undesirable behavior, and don’t forget to reward him for doing it right! And of course, for those more elaborate cases, refer to a dog trainer or behavior consultant.

“Frankly, there is just too much labeling and not enough thinking and understanding out there, and it has done a lot of harm. Anyone who thinks they have to ‘dominate’ another species…has just defined a pathology.”~ Dr. Karen Overall

“My Dog is Vicious!”dog aggression

This term is often used to depict a dog who growls, snarls and lunges towards other people or dogs, but what happens when dogs are labeled as vicious? This “umbrella term” gives the impression that dogs are dangerous, unpredictable and untrustworthy all of the time.

Instead, most dogs are only acting “viciously” in only specific contexts and situations. This term as well gives a sense of helplessness as if the affected dogs are constantly on the lookout for an opportunity to try to attack and bite.

The term “vicious” therefore gives the idea of a dog being purposely mean, with an intent to harm because the dog perceives the behavior as pleasurable.

dog tipPutting things in perspective:  Dogs do not have a direct intent to harm as many people believe. Often dog who are labeled as vicious are simply dogs who are defensive because they’re feeling threatened. If you get angry at a person who cuts in front of you when you are in line or tries to steal your wallet, does that mean you are “vicious?” Certainly not! In the same way, dogs shouldn’t be labeled vicious if they occasionally engage in what we consider “aggressive behaviors.”

When we label a dog or a specific dog breed as vicious, we are perpetuating a belief that the behavior is reflecting the dog’s essence. This can be harmful to both dog and owner because it often implies the belief that that specific dog cannot change.  Labeling a dog as “vicious” gives little information about what is really happening and it doesn’t help much with arranging a plan to tackle the issue.

What happens though when we replace the term vicious with something else? This makes us see things from a whole different perspective! So instead of saying “my dog is vicious” using the word aggressive as an adjective, we would perhaps say “my dog acts aggressively” or ” my dog uses aggression” or ” my dog behaves aggressively when he has a bone.” Even better, let’s try removing the term aggressive altogether and describing the “aggressive behavior” instead, as such: “My dog growls when he has a bone” or even better “my dog growls when he has a bone and I come close to him.” We now have a clearer picture of what the dog is doing and in what circumstance the behavior is taking place. This can be very helpful for when consulting with a professional  as a description of the issue must be provided. It also helps in seeing the behavior from a more positive perspective.

“Actions can be changed, DNA cannot. If you believe your dog IS shy, scared, soft, aggressive, etc., you will become crippled in your training of him by his personality. However, if you believe your dog is acting in a certain way, you will treat him very differently because you will believe you can change his behavior.”~ Connie Cleveland

guilty-dog“My Dog is Vengeful!”

Coming home and finding your home destroyed can make you think that your dog must have plotted everything against you because you didn’t take him along with you. Dogs are often also labeled as vengeful when they soil in the home when left at home as a way “to get back” at their owners.

This can cause you to feel a sense of resentment towards your dog and perhaps your built-up feelings may trigger scolding and punishment upon coming home because your feel like your dog has strategically planned everything on purpose.

Perhaps you may even feel as if you have undeniable proof that your dog was intently “bad” in your absence because his body language is screaming the word “guilty.”

dog tipPutting things in perspective: Dogs do not act out of spite and being vengeful is not part of a dog’s behavior repertoire. Dogs do not seek revenge and their ‘guilty looks” are just fear of their angered owners. Dogs are very sensitive to our bodily cues and can easily sense when we’re feeling upset about something so they may respond accordingly, using their body language (what we interpret as the guilty look) in hopes of calming us down and hopefully avoid punishment.

A dog who scratches at doors and windows or soils in the home when left alone is often an anxious dog who needs help to learn how to better cope with his anxiety. Dogs who “degut” pillows or chew shoes or the remote are often dogs who are bored and under stimulated, not vengeful. After all, what’s left for a dog to do all day alone? It’s not like he can play Sudoku or watch soap operas!

Unless you caught your dog in the act, you aren’t punishing your dog for his misbehavior, but whatever he’s doing at the moment you punish him, explains dog trainer and behavior consultant Jolanta Benal. So when you scold your dog upon opening the door saying “Hey! You managed to chew all the pillows, you bad, bad boy!” your dog will perceive he’s being punished for looking at you or walking towards the door to greet you or anything else he’s doing at the moment. Not good!

So what should you do when they find those pillows reduced into a zillion pieces? A good place to start is to take a deep breath and count to 10, and seriously evaluate what measures can be taken to keep these items out of reach and prevent future occurrences. Maybe Rover is teething and needs more appropriate chew toys? Perhaps  he needs more exercise and mental stimulation? Can stress or anxiety be a trigger? For sure, those scoldings won’t teach your dog anything other than that you’re unpredictable and not trustworthy.

The Bottom Line

Dogs are not stupid, they don’t act out of spite or plot revenge, they don’t strategically look for ways to hurt others emotionally or physically as humans may actually do. By better understanding our companions, meeting their needs and magaging their world so to set them up for success, we can build a better relationship based on trust and mutual respect.

Disclaimer: this article is not meant to be used as a substitute for professional behavioral advice. If your dog is showing signs of a behavioral problem, please consult with a professional.

References:

  • Scientific American, The Guilty Looking Companion, retrieved from the web on Dec 2nd, 2016
  • Association of Professional Dog Trainers, What are Some of the Common Myths About Dog Training?,retrieved from the web on Dec 2nd, 2016
  • Tufts Your Dog, True or False? An Aggressive or Willful Dog Is Trying to Dominate You retrieved from the web on Dec 2nd, 2016
  • Dog Trainer’s Workshop, Stop Using the Verb “To Be” to Describe Your Dog, retrieved from the web on Dec 2nd, 2016

 

Six Interesting Facts About A Dog’s Life Cycle

 

If dog lovers were asked about a dog’s life cycle, they would say that it’s too short! From the rambunctious days of puppy hood, to the slowing down process associated with aging, dogs surely cycle through these life stages quickly, filling our lives with much joy as we adapt to the changes from one stage of the dog’s life to another. Sharing our lives with our dogs is ultimately an important lesson as dogs teach us about valuing life and the importance of cherishing every happy moment it brings. Discovering more about a dog’s life cycle therefore, brings us closer to understanding our marvelous animals and knowing what to expect so that we can be one step ahead of the game.

mother dog1) Puppies Go Through Developmental Stages…

A dog’s life cycle starts from the day he or she is born. When you picked up your adorable puppy from your breeder, shelter or pet store at 8 weeks old,  you missed out several developmental stages the puppy has gone through. No worries! We will briefly outline some of the most important milestones for you.

Please note though that these development stages aren’t clear cut as each puppy develops at a different rate, and there may also be some overlapping between one stage and another. According to John Paul Scott and John Fuller’s studies on puppy development, the stages can be divided in 3 categories:

1. Neonatal stage (birth – 2 weeks). Born deaf, blind and unable to stay warm, puppies are in a pretty much helpless state. During the pup’s first two weeks of life though he goes through quite some rapid changes.

2. Transitional stage (2-3 weeks). During this stage, puppies start seeing and hearing. With their eyes open and their ability to stand and walk around a little, puppies start exploring the world.

3. Socialization stage  (3-13 weeks) With their senses developed, puppies are now learning more about their surroundings. This is the prime time when they should be introduced to pets and other people. While the breeder starts socialization in the home, it’s then up to the new dog owner to expand the pup’s socialization while still keeping the pup safe from infectious diseases. Puppies play a whole lot during this time and learn more about being a dog. Around 11 weeks (but there are variances), puppies may go through a fear period too.

“Scientists divide development into separate stages largely for descriptive convenience. However, development is a continual and dynamic process: Dogs do not abruptly leave one stage and enter another, rather the progression is smooth and the stages overlap considerably.”~ Ian Dunbar

2) And They Go Through a Teenager Phase Too!dog pawing eyes

Think the teenager phase only happens in humans? Think again; puppies go through doggy adolescence too! Sure, you won’t find Rover wearing headphones, drinking soda or chewing gum, but you may notice several changes both physically and mentally.

When do dogs hit this stage? Generally, the adolescent stage in dogs starts anywhere between the ages of 4 and 6 months. While all dogs go through the adolescent stage, in some dogs it may be barely noticeable, while in others, dog owners may pulling out their hair.

This is when Sadie gets goes by her second name “stubborn” and Rover’s second name becomes “rowdy.” You may notice your dog being more distracted, reluctant to pay attention and more likely to engage in undesirable behaviors (ie rowdy jumping, digging, barking etc)

Doggy adolescence is a temporary time of passage during which developing dogs start looking more and more like adult dogs, but their brain can still retain certain behaviors that may be puppy-like. Governed by powerful hormones, the dog’s body starts developing, with female dogs (those not spayed) going into heat and male dogs become more interested in urine marking, roaming and sniffing around.

Fortunately, adolescence in dogs doesn’t last forever, even though in larger dogs it tends to linger for a longer period of time. Generally, expect adolescence in small to medium dogs to last until the dog reaches 18 and 24 months, whereas, in large and giant dogs it may last even until 36 months (yup, until they’re 3 years old!) Fortunately, training (and possibly behavior modification) using gentle, yet consistent methods (with the help of a trainer/behavior consultant) can help nip problems in the bud before they become established.

“As with humans, an animal’s juvenile and adolescent periods have a profound impact on the animal’s behavior. This is the most trying time when raising a pet, and a time when most owners reach the limits of their knowledge and fall short of their obligations as a responsible pet owner.”~ Lore I. Haug

3) Adulthood Brings Stability….dog paw

Once dogs are past doggy adolescence, they will reach adulthood. When adulthood starts once again depends on your dog’s breed. Generally, adulthood in dogs may start at 18 months for the smaller breeds and 3 years of age for the large ones.

Many people find that their dogs at this point of their life-cycle are much easier to manage. With a full house-trained dog and the hyper puppy years just behind, adulthood brings the benefit of  dogs who are generally calmer and less demanding. Adulthood can be a nice smooth ride and dog owners enjoy the perk. Many dog owners report their dogs turning into “pure gold” once they reach age 5.

Sure, adult dogs will still enjoy exercise and mental stimulation, but generally they are less likely to be bouncing of the walls as they used to in the younger years. Dog owners who have invested their time wisely in socializing their dogs and getting them trained, are now rewarded with an obedient dog. Training though does not end now! Dogs thrive on being kept mentally stimulated and need a job, so this is a great time to enroll an adult dog in advanced obedience or perhaps some fun doggy sports.

4) While the Golden Years Bring Wisdomdog-guarding-home old

Depending on your dog’s breed, he will reach his golden years anywhere in between 7 and 10 years.
When dogs get old, you may notice a grey hair here and there on their muzzles and they may slow down a bit. They may prefer a calm stroll on a quiet path at a comfortably lazy pace in place of the brisk games of fetch or hide ‘n seek of his younger years.
In large dogs, joint pain may start developing as arthritis sets in, while smaller dogs may be prone to back and neck problems. Dental problems are not unusual considering the many years of tartar accumulating. You may also find that your older dog tends to sleep more than before and he may not need to eat as much as he used to.
Keeping up with regular vet visits is important at this point of the dog’s life cycle. The earlier problems are caught, generally the better the outcome.
dog-age5) The One Dog Year Equals Seven Human Years Turned Out Being a Myth….

You may have heard that you can easily convert your dog’s years into human years by simply multiplying your dog’s age by seven, but turns out, this simple calculation is inaccurate.

For sake of an example, let’s imagine that Bella, the saucy Pomeranian next door, is one year old. If you multiply her age by seven, then that would mean that she would be the equivalent of a 7-year old child. OK, so what’s wrong with that?

Problem is, that, at the age of seven, a child is likely still playing with her Barbie dolls, while Bella is mature enough to give birth to a litter of puppies! –Not saying that Bella should be bred, just that Mother Nature would have prepared her for reproductive success by this age.

On top of dogs maturing faster than people, there’s also the breed factor. Dogs come in many different shapes and sizes, and therefore dogs undergo different life cycles compared to one another.

Nowadays, there are more accurate ways to tell how many years a dog is compared to a humans’. For instance, there are several handy dog age calculators that are based on individual factors such as a dog’s breed. With the size factor kept into consideration, it is therefore more likely to get a better idea of how much a dog year equals in human years. While no calculator is totally accurate, they do a much better job than the old ‘one dog year equals seven humans years’ belief.

6) But the Fact that Large Dogs Age Faster is True.saint-bernard-breed

Actually, more than a matter of size or breed, longevity in dogs seems to be a matter of weight. Generally, statistics show us that dogs weighing under 30 pounds are the ones blessed with longer lifespans. However, since dog breeds come in average weights, one can roughly deduce a dog’s life expectancy by considering breed.

For instance, according to the UC Davis “Book of Dogs,” a small-breed dog such as a small terrier is considered geriatric at about 11 years; while a medium-breed dog (think larger spaniels) becomes senior at 10 years. When it comes to large-breed dogs such as German Shepherd dogs, they becomes seniors at 8 years while 7 years is considered already a geriatric age for giant-breed dogs such as great danes.

Of course, there are other factors to consider as well such as the dog’s diet, over all health, his lifestyle, not to mention the role of genetics. And as in people, sex also seems to play a role, considering that generally female dogs seem to live just a bit longer than male dogs. And when it comes to dog owners who elect to have snip-snip surgeries on their dogs, they are rewarded with more time with their pals considering that Science Daily tells us that spayed or neutered dogs live longer.

How long a dog lives is therefore ultimately a matter of genetic potential. Every animal is gifted with a certain pre-determined average lifespan. For instance, an elephant may live up to 70, whereas a giant tortoise can live a whole century. Dogs compared to humans weren’t really gifted with a long lifespan, considering that the average dog lives to be 13, but as much as this is saddening, we can at least feel better considering that a mouse barely makes it to 5!

dog tipDid you know? Scientists at the University of Washington are conducting research in hopes of unlocking the secrets for a longer lifespan in dogs. The field of study addressing the biology of aging  is called “geroscience” and you can learn more about it at  The Dog Aging Project website.

References:

  • Siegal, Mordecai (Ed.; 1995). UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Book of the Dogs; Chapter 5, “Geriatrics”, by Aldrich, Janet. Harper Collins.
  • University of Georgia. “Spayed or neutered dogs live longer.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2013
  • Dog Star Daily, Puppy Personality Development, retrieved from the web on Novermber 25th, 2016

 

Six Scary Dangers of Not Picking Up Dog Poop

 

Dog poop:  it’s something inevitable that comes with dog ownership, but there can be some serious risks associated with the practice of not picking up dog poop and we’re not talking about breaking the law and getting  fined. Sure, paying a fine is not pleasant, but dog poop laws are not just just there because of unsightly piles of doggy poop in the midst of a pristine yard; rather, there is much more to that. Learning more about facts about dog waste may be a yucky topic to talk about, and some risks may seem to come out straight from a horror movie, but it’s important information for both dog owners and not. So today we’ll be discovering some facts about dog waste and the dangers of not picking up dog poop.

dangers-of-not-picking-dog-poopHookworm Larvae Penetrating Feet

If you are one of those dog owners who loves to walk barefoot in your yards, here’s a spoiler alert: after reading this, you might not want to ever walk without shoes again. Hookworms are zoonotic parasites, which means that they can passed along to humans.

The larvae of these pesky parasites are known for causing a skin infection that it referred to as “ cutaneous larva migrans.”

How do people get this infection? A dog infected by hookworms will pass several hookworm eggs in their stools. If the poop is not disposed of in a timely matter, the eggs will hatch into larvae that contaminate the soil.

To get infected, all it takes is to walk barefoot on this contaminated soil and the larvae will burrow into the skin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, puppies and kittens are most commonly infected with hookworms, and children playing or walking barefoot in the area where dogs or cats frequent, are at risk for this condition.

“Wearing shoes and taking other protective measures to avoid skin contact with sand or soil will prevent infection with zoonotic hookworms. Routine veterinary care of dogs and cats, including regular deworming, will reduce environmental contamination with zoonotic hookworm eggs and larvae. Prompt disposal of animal feces prevents eggs from hatching and contaminating soil — which makes it important for control of this parasitic infection.”~Centers for Disease Control

idea tipDid you know? Hookworm infections are most prevalent in the coastal areas of the United States from southern New Jersey to the Florida Keys and then from along the Gulf of Mexico to Texas. (Source DVM360)

Roundworm Larvae in the Eyes

dog-diggingAnother pesky parasite that may be found in dog feces are roundworms (toxocara canis). Roudworms, like hookworms, are zoonotic parasites, meaning that they can be passed to humans. The term toxocariasis is used to depict the infection caused by parasitic roundworms.

How do people get this infection? Roundworms are found in the digestive tract of puppies and dogs. A puppy or dog infected with roundworms will shed the eggs in their feces. When the dog’s poop isn’t picked up in a timely manner, the eggs are released into the soil. Children or adults who handle the soil and do not wash their hands, may ingest the eggs if the dirt is accidentally swallowed.

While in dogs roundworms tend to stick to living in the dog’s intestinal tract, when they infect humans they behave in different ways.

Young children are more at risk for a complication known as ocular toxocariasis, where roundworm larvae migrate to the eye which can cause inflammation and even vision loss. On top of that, the larvae may also migrate to organs such as the nervous system and liver, a condition known as visceral toxocariasis which may cause vague, systemic symptoms such as fatigue, fever, coughing and abdominal pain.

“In most cases, Toxocara infections are not serious, and many people, especially adults infected by a small number of larvae (immature worms), may not notice any symptoms. The most severe cases are rare, but are more likely to occur in young children, who often play in dirt, or eat dirt (pica) contaminated by dog or cat feces.”~Centers for Disease Control

idea tipDid you know? Statistics show that in the United States almost 14 percent of the population has been infected with Toxocara and children and adolescents under the age of 20 are the most likely to get infected. (Source: CDC) In the United States toxocaral larva migrans is known for causing hundreds of cases of unilateral blindness, and an uncountable number of cases are found to cause less permanent forms of illness in children. (Source DVM360)

dogg-poopGiardia Cysts in the Digestive System

Giardia is another pesky parasite that may affect humans, but the Centers for Disease Control report that risk of contracting giardia from a dog is rare because the type of Giardia known for infecting humans is different from the type that infects dogs and cats. However, rare doesn’t mean a person should keep his guard down and take unnecessary risks.

Here’s what happens with this parasite. Dogs are exposed to giardia, a protozoan parasite, when they ingest the infected cysts found in another animal’s feces or water that has been contaminated by feces.

Once the cysts reach the dog’s small intestine, they shed the active form of the parasite which attach to the walls of the dog’s intestine where they settle and start reproducing. At some point, the active forms of the parasite encase themselves into cysts once again and are evacuated along with a dog’s feces.

How do people get infected? In order for people to get giardia from their dogs, they would have to get in contact with water, grass or soil that has been contaminated with dog feces which contains the cysts. Another way dogs can give giardia to humans, is if the dog licks his behind and then licks a human who fails to wash his hands. Symptoms of giardia infection includes diarrhea, gas, stomach pain, greasy stools that float and possibly, nausea and vomiting.

“Anything that comes into contact with feces (poop) from infected humans or animals can become contaminated with the Giardia parasite. People and animals become infected when they swallow the parasite…Wear gloves when gardening to reduce the risk of coming into contact with infected feces (poop) or soil. Remove feces promptly and put them in a plastic bag.”~(Source CDC)

idea tipDid you know? Another similar condition to giardia is cryptosporidium, a protozoan parasite known to infect rodents, calves, dogs, cats and people. As other diseases listed in the article, transmission from dogs to humans occurs through fecal contamination. Mostly affected people are immunocompromised people, such as those affected by HIV/AIDS, who may develop severe diarrhea that never resolves and can even become fatal, explains veterinarian Dr. Arnold Plotnick.

Campylobacter Bacteria in the Stomachdog toilet bowl

Sometimes, conditions transmitted from the stool of dogs come from bacteria rather than parasites or protozoans. In this case, we’re talking about campylobacteriosism, an infectious conditon caused by campylobacter bacteria. Dogs get infected by getting in contact with contaminated food or water or from the feces of ill animals. The most common type of campylobacter affecting humans  that comes from dogs is campylobacter jejuni.

How do people get it? Humans may get the disease from ingesting the juice of raw chicken meat or using a contaminated cutting board to chop salads, but also from contact with the stools of an infected dog or cat. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it just takes fewer than 500 organisms to make a person ill with campylobacter.

Campylobacteriosis in humans causes  diarrhea, cramps, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and fever, generally 2 to 5 days after getting in contact with the organism.  In people with a compromised immune system, campylobacter can cause a serious, life-threatening infection. As always, it’s advised to pick up dog feces and wash hands with soap and water afterwards.

dog eatingSalmonella Germs in the Digestive Tract

Most people have heard about salmonella, the germ that’s known to be found in raw meats and eggs, but not many people know they can get it also from dog feces. In 2012, there was a recall of multiple brands of pet foods by Diamond Pet foods, and back then it was linked to many people getting sick. Here’s a little summary of how this condition affects people and dogs

Dogs and cats may get ill from consuming foods that are infected with salmonella. The infection causes typical salmonella symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, lethargy, fever and even vomiting. Not always though infected dogs show symptoms.

How  do people get it? Salmonella is transmitted from dogs to humans and humans to humans from the fecal oral route. The dog sheds salmonella germs in the stools, and, according to the CDC, the dog’s stool may carry them from 4 to 6 weeks after the infection. As always, dog owners should pick up their dog’s poop and people who interact with the dog should always wash their hands with soap and water after handling and feeding the dog.

Wash your hands as directed in the handwashing instructions. Clean up after your pet. If you have a dog, use a plastic bag to pick up the stool, and clean up the stool while on walks or from the yard and dispose of the stool in a tightly sealed plastic bag.~Centers for Disease Control

dog meat eatingEchinococcus Larvae in The Liver

As if it wasn’t enough, there are also pesky parasites that may be interested in inhabiting the human liver or lungs. In this case, we’re talking about tapeworms of the genus Echinococcus.

Sheep, goat, moose, caribou and other animals act as intermediate hosts that harbor the eggs which hatch in their small intestine. Once hatched, the larvae migrate to various organs, especially the liver and lungs where they become a cyst.

Dogs are then fed the cyst-containing organs of these animals and become infected as well. In Canada and Alaska, the practice of feeding dogs the viscera of moose and caribou may lead to infections in dogs that are then transmissible to humans. In other areas such as California, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona, the practice of feeding the viscera of sheep was also found to infect dogs.  Another form of echinococcosis may infect dogs when they eat infected wild rodents.

How do humans get infected? Humans get infected by accidentally swallowing the eggs of Echinococcus that may be found in the  soil, water o vegetables that have been contaminated with infected dog feces.

Once ingested, the  larvae may cause growths in the liver or other organs. Affected humans may feel generalized pain in the chest and abdomen, nausea, vomiting and coughing may take place.  In some cases, allergic reactions and even death may occur. While this condition remains quite rare, there is a potential for a more serious public health problem considering that domestic dogs are becoming more involved in the life cycle, explains veterinarian Peter M. Schantz.

 “Humans can be exposed to these eggs by “hand-to-mouth” transfer or contamination. By ingesting food, water or soil contaminated with stool from infected dogs. This might include grass, herbs, greens, or berries gathered from fields. (Source CDC)

warning cautionWhat Dog Owners Can Do

As seen, these conditions are scary enough to deter dog owners from leaving poop around. Those pooper scooper laws are therefore in place for some very good reasons that go far beyond the cosmetic appeal of lawns, public parks and sidewalks.

On top of picking up dog poop, dog owners can lower the chances for zoonotic diseases by having the feces of puppies and dogs routinely checked by a vet and by de-worming accordingly.

Children should be supervised and not allowed to play in areas that are soiled with dog feces. They should be warned to never eat dirt. And of course, hands should  always be washed with soap and water after handling dirt and playing with dogs.

Disclaimer: this article is not meant to be used as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. If your dog is sick, please see your vet. If you, your child or a family member is sick, please see your medical provider.

References:

  • Centers for Disease Control, Giardia, retrieved from the web on  November 20, 2016
  • Centers for Disease Control Toxocara Roundworms retrieved from the web on  November 20, 2016
  • DVM360, Zoonotic parasitic infections contracted from dogs and cats: How frequent are they?, retrieved from the web on  November 20, 2016

Photo Credits

  • Flickr Creative Commons, John Collins, DSC_3594 (CC BY 2.0)
  • Flickr, Creative Commons, Lulu Hoeller, Dog Drinking Toilet, Every dogs dream – a working toilet fountain in the back yard, CCBY2.0

 

What’s Up with Dogs Swallowing Kibble Without Chewing?

 

Let’s face it: when it comes to eating, dogs are quite fast eaters, often swallowing their kibble whole without chewing as if there’s no tomorrow, what gives? The behavior is actually not unusual; indeed, on Puppy Planet, there are likely more dogs eating fast than eating slow if ever some statistics on dog eating times were ever collected. Slow dining, as to savoring a morsel at a time, is something not popular in the world of canines, but dogs seem to have their own good reasons for wolfing down their chow.

dog-eating-fastA Look Back 

If your dog is swallowing his kibble whole without chewing don’t be too fast to label him as greedy, turns out dogs have some good reasons for their behavior and it stems from their evolutionary past.

In the old days, dogs were not fed bags of kibble from shiny bowls. A dog’s ancestors were hunting and scavenging for food and eating fast was necessary for several reasons.

Feast or famine was a real thing, so there were times with little to no food and then there were times after a hunt where there was an abundance of food. After going through lean times, a dog’s ancestors were eating fast because they were very hungry. However, eating fast wasn’t only because of that.

If in the old days a dog’s ancestors were eating slow, this could have meant losing access to their food. Most likely if the food wasn’t gobbled up in a timely manner, another canine or some other competitor animal would have gladly finished it up. On top of that, eating slow in the wild is risky business considering that it puts animals in a vulnerable position which can mean becoming dinner to other larger predators!

idea tipCurious fact: Statistics show that ravens get to eat more meat from a wolf kill, than the wolves themselves, explains Toni Shelbourne in the book “The truth about wolves and dogs.” No wonder why wolves are eager to eat fast, hence the term “wolfing your food.”

Designed for Fast Eatingdog-eating-meat

Even if we look at dog anatomy, we will notice a body that is designed for fast eating.

Molars are teeth that are used for grinding. In herbivores, like the horse, the canine teeth are small or non-existent, while the molars are broad and flat because they are plant eaters and must grind grains and plant materials with their side-to-side jaw movements.

In omnivores, like us humans, since both meat and plants are consumed, teeth include a combination of incisors, canines, pre-molars and molars used for grinding also in a somewhat sideways motion.

Dogs, even though not obligate carnivores like the cat, have overall a body designed to eat meat. A dog’s teeth are designed for ripping and tearing meat and their jaws mostly move in an up-and-down motion. Dogs also don’t have flat molars as herbivores and omnivores do. Dogs are therefore not designed to chew as much as some other animals and that’s a main reason why they end up swallowing their kibble whole.

On top of not having molars designed for grinding, dogs do not produce amylase, an enzyme meant to digest starches, in their saliva. This is because food doesn’t stay long in their mouth, and therefore the amylase isn’t necessary to start digestion, explains veterinarian Ernie Ward in the book “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter -A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives.” Instead, dogs produce amylase in their digest tract so starches can be digested there at their own leisure. This is just one of the many things that differentiate dogs from wolves.

Finally, dogs might not feel much compelled to eating fast because of their taste buds. With only about 2,000 taste buds on their tongues, compared to our 9,000, why would dogs feel motivated to savor their food if the flavor is going to be just bland?

” Human saliva contains an enzyme called amylase, which starts breaking down starches as soon as food hits the mouth. Dog drool doesn’t have this advantage, but dogs do excrete amylase from their pancreases, allowing for the digestion of starches in the gut.”~Live Science

idea tipDid you know? One of the reasons why dogs do not get cavities as humans do, is perhaps because of how their teeth are designed. Since dogs have fewer pits and fissures on the surface of their teeth, cavity causing bacteria and food particles are less likely to stick to them as they would on teeth with many indentations. Source: Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

feeding-the-dogsA Word About Multi-Dog Households

Eating fast is particularly common in households with multiple dogs. The reason being that dogs may feel more competitive when around other dogs and this may cause them to feel more compelled to gobble up and swallow their kibble without chewing as fast as they can.

As their food is being prepared, there is a strong build in anticipation as all the dogs eagerly wait for their bowls to be filled. Then when it’s time to eat, it’s almost sort of like a race against time between the dogs as to who finishes first.

The dogs in this case are likely concerned about other dogs finishing  up first and approaching their bowl. It might have happened in the past that a dog who finished first got near their bowl and these dogs may have “learned their lesson” and sped up their eating.

In these cases, some dog owners find that putting more distance between the dogs or feeding them in completely separate areas where they can’t see or hear each other can help slow them down. This makes for a more relaxed feeding.

” If you have other pets in the house, including other dogs, your canine pal may want to insure that he gets his share before someone else helps himself. For other dogs, it may not be the actual presence of a second dog or, say, a cat but a throwback to his days as a puppy — a subconscious reminder of having to compete with his littermates for his mother’s milk.”~Tufts University

Underlying  Health Problemveterinary

If your dog has suddenly started gulping down his food like there’s no tomorrow, sometimes this can be indicative of a health problem.

For instance, a dental problem can lead to pain chewing and therefore a dog may decide that’s it’s less painful to just swallow the kibble whole. Dogs who have misaligned teeth (a malocclusion) may also swallow their kibble whole, but this is generally something that shouldn’t happen out of the blue.

If a dog suddenly develops ravenous appetite this is something that should be investigated as well. Conditions that could cause a voracious appetite in dogs include diabetes and Cushing’s disease, explains veterinarian Dr. Fiona. 

idea tipDid you know? The medical term for increased consumption of food  is “polyphagia.” The term comes from  polys which means “much” and phagein which means “to eat.”

dog-eating-too-fastAssociated Health Risks

While it’s natural for dogs to be predisposed to be swallowing their kibble whole, this practice can have several health repercussions.

If you own a large, deep chested dog, eating too fast can predispose him to develop life threatening bloat from swallowing too much air. The excess air causes the stomach to swell up and it risks twisting on itself, a condition that’s known as gastric dilatation volvulus. While bloat affects mostly large dogs, medium dogs and smaller dogs can also be affected at times.

Another risk associated with dogs swallowing their kibble whole is choking. This is something that can be worrisome obviously as it can turn life threatening.

On a lighter note, dogs who eat quickly and swallow their kibble may develop digestive problems under the form of hiccups, burping, flatulence, vomiting and regurgitation. When the dog eats too fast, the stomach cannot keep up with the workload and may just bring the food back up within a few minutes.

A Few Tipsdog-slow-down-eating

A lot of dogs swallow their kibble whole and this generally isn’t much concerning as most dogs can swallow their kibble whole without getting ill, what is concerning though is eating too fast. Dogs who swallow their kibble whole and eat fast may benefit from learning to slow down a bit. This can be accomplished in several ways. Here are a few tips:

  • You can try feeding multiple times a day so that your dog gets to eat a smaller amount at a time.
  • You can place some tennis balls in his food bowl so he’s forced to eat around them.
  • You can try scattering his food on a cookie sheet, which makes it harder for him to grasp much at once.
  • You can hide his food inside a Kong or other interactive toy.
  • You can place his food in small amounts in several food bowls.
  • You can invest in a Brake-Fast bowl or other bowl made for fast eating dogs.
  • You can play fun games such as making a path of kibble or hiding his kibble in several areas of the house.

References:

  • VCA Animal Hospitals, Fast Eating Can Lead To Serious Problems in Dogs, retrieved from the web on November 15th, 2016
  • Tufts Your Dog, Does Your Dog Eat too Fat? retrieved from the web on November 15th, 2016

Photo Credits:

  • Flickr Creative Commons, Georgie Pauwels, Dinner for One, CCBY2.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, PROWonderlaneRose, a puppy, chewing on a bone, south U District near the Montlake Cut, Seattle, Washington, USA CCBY2.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, Antique Dog Photos, Feed the dogs, CCBY2.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, BuzzFarmers Dog played with his food. CCBY2.0

 

Fascinating Facts About Dog Flews

 

Whether you are familiar or not with dog flews may largely depend on what type of dog breed you own or have owned in the past. Some dogs are known for having quite some heavy flews while in some others, the flews may be barely noticeable to almost non-existent. But what in the world are dog flews and what are they used for? No worries, dog flews are nothing odd or unusual. According to the American Kennel Club, the term is used to simply depict the upper lip of certain dogs which are particularly pendulous at the inner corners. A dogs lower lip is therefore simply called the “lower lip,” while those upper lips that cover the dog’s teeth are called “flews.”

 dog-flewsSome Hounds Have Heavy Flews…

What dog breeds are known for having particularly pendulous flews? Perhaps the most notorious dog breed with flews is the bloodhound, but there are many others.

The American Kennel Club talks about flews in many of its breed standards. Many of these breeds are in the hound family.

For instance, the basset hound is described as having lips that are pendulous,” falling squarely in front and, toward the back, in loose hanging flews.

The Black and Tan Coonhound is depicted as having flews that are well developed and with a “typical hound appearance.”

Another breed with pendulous upper lips is the American English Coonhound having flews  that cover the lower jaw when observed from the side.

Not all hounds though have flews, for instance, in the beagle standard the lips should be free from flews.

“Flews is just a fancy word for a dog’s lips.”~ Margaret H. Bonham

 But They’re Also Present in Other Dogs.bull-mastiff

Several other non-hound dog breeds are known for having developed flews, but they might not be as developed as in certain hounds.

The bull mastiff is known for having flews, but per standard they shouldn’t be too pendulous.

The Clumber Spaniel is described as ideally having flews in the upper jaw that are strongly developed and tend to overlap the lower jaw giving an over all “square look” when observed from the side.

The Dogue de Bordeaux is known for having flews that are moderately pendulous yet retractile.

In the Saint Bernard dog breed instead the flews are portrayed as being strongly developed and slightly overhanging.

And then you have the  bulldog, with “flews that should be thick, broad, pendant and very deep, completely overhanging the lower jaw at each side.”

idea tipDid you know? In Golden retrievers, overly pendulous flews are frowned upon for a practical purpose: they interfere with this breed’s efficiency in picking up game with its mouth, explains Caroline Coile in the book “The Golden Retriever Handbook.” In addition, heavy flews  are also more likely to collect feathers. Not good. Indeed, the breed standard for the Golden clearly indicates “no heaviness in flews.”

Flews Aid in Capturing Smells….bassett-hound

It’s not a coincidence that many dog breeds equipped with pendulous flews are scent hounds.

These dogs have made of sniffing the world their area of specialty, making them the sniffing machines of the dog kingdom.  And their bodily features are sure equipped to help them!

First off, their noses are equipped with larger cavities compared to other types of dogs,which ultimately allows them process scents better.

Secondly, their  droopy ears and dewlaps are thought to further help capture and collect scents from the ground stirring them upwards at nose level.

Finally, their pendulous, droopy lips further aid  in trapping smells, allowing those precious scent molecules to reach their destination: to the almighty nose and beyond!

“When bassets are trailing, their ears often drag on the ground and stir up scents. The large folds of skin on their jaws hold the scents close to the nose.” ~Cari Meister

But May  Also Contribute to Drooling.dog-drool

The shape of a dog’s upper lip can surely play a role in how predisposed a dog may be to drooling. Many owners of dogs with particularly developed flews have gotten used to cleaning up what are known as “slingers;” basically, strings of drool that attach to floors, ceilings and walls every time slobbery dogs  happen to shake their heads.

It’s very difficult to come by a Saint Bernard with a dry mouth. Many seasoned dog owners though have simply learned to deal with the drooling issue. “You just always carry a towel and learn to live with it,” explained a fancier to the American Kennel Club Gazette.

Coping mechanisms aside, those slingers are not to be be underestimated: Barbara Meyer explains in her blog that, left alone, this spittle has the tendency to dry into a rock-like hardness and that she heard a dog owner speculating that it might be of interest to NASA for the purpose of gluing down the tiles of their space shuttles!

Flew patrol. If applicable, check flews and pendulous lips for trapped food and debris. You never knowyou might even find Amelia Earhart in there.”~ Billy Rafferty, Jill Cahr

hound-sad-expressionFlews Affect Dog Facial Expressions….

From dogs with hair covering their eyes, to dogs with bob tails, through selective breeding, dogs have undergone quite some changes when it comes to looks.

After all, humans have been tinkering with genetics for quite a long time, selectively breeding dogs based on their working functions but sometimes also based on looks.

It’s inevitable therefore for some features to affect dogs’ lives and their ability to communicate. Even dogs with flews are somewhat deprived in the communication department.

For instance, the thick pendulous flews of the bloodhound can interfere with their ability to exhibit certain facial expressions.

While these dogs are capable of snarling, that is, lifting their upper lips to show their teeth, they have quite a hard time exhibiting expressions that are more subtle, such a those involving the corners of their mouths, observes Matthew Hoffman, in the book :”Dogspeak: How to Understand Your Dog and Help Him Understand You.

bulldogBut People Find them Irresistibly Adorable!

Because for many dogs with pendulous flews it can be challenging drawing up the corners of their mouths as other dogs do, people have a tendency to perceive them as being sad, even though they are not. However, let’s face it: these dogs’ gloomy mugs and facial folds are also what many dog owners find irresistible!

However, we must finish up with some words of caution: it’s always best not to commit to dog ownership based on a dog’s looks alone.

Good research about the breed is always paramount to avoid unnecessary heartaches. Learning about a dog breed’s temperament, health and whether the dog’s needs for exercise and mental stimulation match with your lifestyle, is always something wise to do when it comes to making choices and picking your ideal furry companion.

Photo credits:

Flickr, Creative Commons, Paul Joseph, drool dog CCBY2.0

 

Five Fascinating Ways Dogs Stay Warm

 

We chatter our teeth and shiver when we’re cold, but when it comes to dogs, they may rely on different ways to stay warm. While we bundle up with extra layers of clothing, scarves and mittens, dogs must rely on their own “built-in” features along with some several other fascinating mechanisms Mother Nature has provided them with. In a past article we looked at  ways dogs cool down, in this article instead, we will be discovering several  fascinating ways dogs keep themselves warm.

 saint-bernard-dog-historyWarm Double Coats

What’s the purpose of a double coat? It’s meant to keep ourselves toasty! says Rover. Just like our warm winter jackets, many dogs are protected from the rigors of the winter courtesy of their double coats.

A dog’s undercoat consists of short and cotton-like hairs meant to insulate and prevent loss of body heat, while the top coat consists of stiff, moisture-repellent guard hairs meant to protect from the winter elements.

Several dog breeds have double coats and these include German shepherds, collies, sheepdogs, corgis, Beaucerons, Belgian malinois, Belgian tervurens, briards, Labrador and golden retreivers just to name a few.

More notoriously, spitz-type dogs are known for their double coats and include Siberian huskies, Samoyeds, Pomeranians, Akitas, Alaskan malamutes, chow chows, keeshonds, Shiba Inus, Norwegain elkhounds and Norwegian lundehunds.

“The thick undercoat of the Northern Breeds provides loft, like a fuzzy mohair sweater, and keeps the warmth next to the animal rather than allowing it to escape.”~ Dr. Susan Whiton

The Power of Piloerectiondog-snow

On top of  being equipped with warm coats, dogs have the ability to raise the hairs on their neck, back and tail. The term for this feature is piloerection and it works in a similar fashion as goose bumps in humans.

Each dog hair is equipped with a hair follicle which in turn is attached to special muscles that are known as “arrector pili.” When a dog is in a normal, relaxed state, his hair follicles will stay at a 30 to 60 degree angle compared to the skin. Let the arrector pili muscles contract though and watch those hairs literally stand up, explains Karen L. Campbell, a board-certified veterinarian specializing in internal medicine and dermatology in the book “The Pet Lover’s Guide to Cat and Dog Skin Diseases.

When us humans get cold, we develop goosebumps, while in dogs,  if it’s very cold, the contraction of the arrector pili muscles cause piloerection. The raised hairs in this case are meant to trap air and create a layer of insulation.

“A dog’s hair will stand on end when he is very, very cold… When the hair stands up, an insulating layer of air gets trapped between hair shafts, so the cold air cannot get so close to the skin. It works like a down jacket.” Dr. Nicholas Dodman

dog paw padsPaw Heating System

Ever wondered how dogs keep their paws from freezing? Let’s think about it. As the weather gets colder, we put on thick socks and boots, while our dogs walk  completely barefoot on wet and sometimes even icy surfaces, how do they manage to do that?

In this case, we must thank the dog’s almighty paws. Blessed with tough padding made of layers of insulating fat and connective tissue, a dog’s paws are also equipped with an impressive number of blood vessels. This means greater circulation which helps prevent those paws from getting frozen.

Interestingly, a study conducted by scientists at Tokyo’s Yamazaki Gakuen University found that the arteries responsible for providing blood to a dog’s paw pads have several networks of tiny veins nearby (venules). The proximity of arteries and veins results in heat exchange, acting as a counter-current heat exchanger. This artery and vein heat circulation system seems to suggest that the ancestors of the domestic dog may have originated in a cold climate.

“It is well known that penguins in the Antarctic have a counter current heat exchange system in their wings and legs to prevent heat dissipation and keep the body warm. When we found that dogs also have such an excellent system in their paws, we were excited.”~Dr Hiroyoshi Ninomiya.

Curling Like a Balldog sleeping position

When dogs are cold, they instinctively seem to know that certain sleeping positions are better. Sleeping in a curled up position, tight like a ball, is a dog’s way to conserve heat.

By sleeping this way, the dog’s body surface is made as small as possible and the loss of heat is minimized.

If it’s very cold, dogs will sleep with their tails covering their noses, an astute strategy to maximize their ability to stay warm. A bushy tail helps protect the dog’s eyes, nose, muzzle and front legs from cold, and on top of that, it acts like a filter, allowing a dog to breath in pre-heated air. How cool is that?

 

idea tipDid you know? Some dogs in very cold climates may utilize what’s known as “social thermal regulation.” According to the book “K9 Complete Care: A Manual for Physically and Mentally Healthy Working Dogs”by Resi Gerritsen, Ruud Haak, arctic explorers mentioned how dogs in Southern Greenland slept very close to each other near their homes so to keep warm and out of the wind. 

Shivering to Warm Upcold-dachshund

Not all dogs are blessed with warm double coats, and those who lack it, are more likely to get cold.

Small, short-haired dog breeds are in particular predisposed to chilling as they tend to lose their body heat quite rapidly.

It’s not unusual to see dachshunds and Chihuahuas seek out the warmest areas of the house, burying themselves under blankets or staying rights next to the fireplace in order to stay warm.

Trembling is something that dogs just like humans do so to generate heat and raise body temperature, explains Erich Barchas, a veterinarian in San Francisco.

If your dog is shivering though and it is not cold, consider evaluating the underlying cause, as shivering in dogs can also be seen in dogs who are scared, in pain, sick or experiencing some health problem.

 

A Word of Cautiondog-coat

Sure, many dogs have the ability to cope in cold weather, and if they are new to cold, they can acclimate fairly quickly, given the chance. However, this does not mean that our dogs are not immune from the effects of prolonged exposure to bitter cold.  Just like us, dogs can get frostbite, and suffer other consequence of cold.

Not all dogs experience cold in the same way, and some dogs are definitely at a disadvantage. Small dogs, short-haired dogs, short dogs who are lower to the ground, older dogs, dogs with certain medical conditions, skinny dogs and young puppies may not be able to regulate their temperatures well and may need our intervention to be protected from the dangers of winter weather.

“In general, there are three kinds of dogs who benefit from the insulation provided by a sweater or coat, as well as the protection afforded by life as a pampered house pet: Small dogs, dogs who are elderly, chronically ill or both, Greyhounds, Whippets and dogs of a similar thin body type, especially those with short fur. ~Dr. Marty Becker

References:

  • Veterinary Dermatology, Volume 22, Issue 6, pages 475–481, December 2011. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3164.2011.00976.
  • K9 Complete Care: A Manual for Physically and Mentally Healthy Working Dogs, By Resi Gerritsen, Ruud Haak, Dog Training Press (January 1, 2003)

Photo Credits;

  • Painting by John Emms portraying St. Bernards as rescue dogs, Public Domain

 

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