Taking Care of Your Dog’s Teeth

We put a lot of thought and effort in keeping our furry friends safe and healthy. We take them to the vet regularly, feed them healthy food, walk them every day, we even take them to the park for fun exercise. But what about taking care of their teeth?

We all do things routinely to take care of our own teeth, such as brushing, flossing, and going to the dentist regularly.  Yet many of us don’t bother to give our dog’s teeth and gums the same kind of attention.

Probably most of us believe that oral hygiene for dogs isn’t really necessary. Many believe that dog’s teeth maintain themselves. This might have been true for dogs in the wild whose diets do not include the processed stuff we give our dogs. If you do not take your dog’s dental care seriously you will regret it.

Dogs can get toothaches and sore gums like humans, and we might not be even aware of it. What is worse is if a dog does have dental problems, and does not get treatment, it could lead to bigger and more serious health issues.

The most common dental disease dogs get are periodontal or gum related. For instance, untreated tooth decay or gum disease can provide bacteria a way to get into the bloodstream, which in turn can cause heart, kidney, or liver problems. It can also lead to infection and tooth loss. Losing teeth is probably one of the worse things that can happen to dogs as it can affect their overall health.

The good news is that with the right information and proper care, such occurrences are preventable.

So, what do we and our dogs need to do to take good care of their teeth? It’s actually mostly the same as the regimen of people that take good care of our teeth with a few variations.

Brushing Teeth

For regular cleaning, let’s start with choosing the right toothbrush. You can use a tooth brush for people. if you do, choose a soft bristle one and make sure it is small enough to fit comfortably into your dog’s mouth.

However, it is best to get a toothbrush designed for dogs. They typically come with angled handles or finger slip-ons that make it easier to use on dogs.

The ones with angled handles work more or less the same as human toothbrushes. The finger slip-ons are a little different. They slip over your finger and rub their teeth with it, much like baby toothbrushes. Any of these will work, so choose the one you are most comfortable using.

Next, choose the toothpaste. Do not use toothpaste for people on your dogs. Human tooth paste includes ingredients that may be harmful to dogs when swallowed. In fact, in large quantities they might be harmful to humans as well, except we don’t swallow. If you can teach your dog to spit it out like we do, you can probably use human toothpaste safely. Since this is unlikely, better to choose toothpaste specially formulated for dogs, which is safe for them to swallow. 

Now we get to the fun part: getting your dog used to regular toothbrushing. It is different for each dog. Some take to it right from the start. There are even dogs that get a kick out of it and look forward to every toothbrushing moment. Others are not so adventurous. They will resist and get anxious, making the process stressful for both dog and human. If this is the case for your dog, here are some tips on how to make it pleasant and easy for both you and your dog:

  • If you can, start them young. It’s easier to teach puppies.
  • If your dog is already older by the time you start, do not lose hope. It will just take some effort, but it is not impossible.
  • Before you begin, make sure you have a positive and relaxed attitude. Your furry buddy can pick up on your attitude, so if you will anxious or stressed, they will be, too.
  • Go slow and easy. They do not have to adapt to it on the first try. The goal is to make the toothbrushing experience a fun and good one for your dogs. When you achieve this, brushing becomes a treat for both you and your dog.
  • Get them acquainted with the toothbrush and toothpaste. Let your dog sniff and touch them. Let them have a taste of the toothpaste.
  • Don’t take too long, especially during the first few times. It isn’t important to actually finish brushing your dog’s teeth. It is more important to get them feeling relaxed and at ease during the process. As soon as they seem agitated or anxious, stop. You might get further in the next session.
  • Although it is ideal to brush their teeth once daily, you should start with regular brushing every other day, or even three times a week.
  • If a daily brushing is still a hassle even after doing it for a long time, don’t stress over it. If once or twice a week is the best you can do, that is fine. Just make sure you do it regularly and on a schedule.

Now that you know how to get started with brushing their teeth, this is how you do it:

  • Start with the outer portion of their teeth using soft strokes.
  • When they seem more relaxed, brush the inner portions of their teeth as well.
  • Brush along the line of the gums in a circular motion. Do not put too much pressure on the teeth and gums during brushing.

It also helps to give them positive reinforcement after each brushing session, whether successful or not. Giving your dog a hug, a pat on the head, or a treat after each toothbrushing session will make them associate the process with good vibes. This will make it easier for you during the next session.

Regular Dental Checkups

Like us, our dogs should also go to the dog dentist for regular checkups. Find out if your vet is qualified to do this. If not, ask your vet, friends and relatives with dogs for recommendations for a good dog dentist.

Like tooth brushing, going for a checkup can be a nerve-racking experience for your dog. It is a good idea to get them accustomed to the activity by making a test visit before the actual checkup. This will also give you the chance to check out the place.

Taking these simple steps can make oral hygiene fun and easy for our canine companions. This can go a long way in giving them healthier, longer, and happier lives.

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The Dog Harness Versus Dog Collar Showdown

Most dog owners give their dogs a collar as a matter of course. There is nothing wrong with that if it is simply to provide them with a means of ownership and identification, AKA dog tags. However, if they use it as a means of control, which is its actual purpose, then that might pose a problem.

It has long been observed that harnesses have much more going for it compared to collars as a way establishing control over dogs. Despite that, most people still continue to use collars for this purpose. To set the record straight, here is the harness versus collar showdown.

The Truth About Collars

Collars are physiologically a bad idea. The neck of most creatures is a slender and relatively delicate part of the anatomy, so using it as a means of restraint is effective, but unsustainable. It is effective because it is restrictive and often painful. It is unsustainable because it can lead to serious injury or even death.

Imagine having a collar around your neck, and someone pulling on it with any significant force. Even if the collar is not so tight that you find it difficult to breathe (which happens all too often with dogs), the pressure and discomfort is considerable. It will force you to follow whoever has you in hand, but you will feel lousy for a significant amount of time. Some might say it is not as bad as being led by the nose, but that is an entirely different article right there.

It is basically the same with dogs. Over time, this type of physical trauma will lead to chronic physical and psychological problems. It may cause injuries to the nerves and blood flow in the neck and spine, and drive the dog to aggressive behavior.

We are just talking about regular, run-of-the-mill collars here. It goes without saying that cruel inventions such as spike (or prong) and choke collars are incompatible with responsible pet ownership.

Body Harnesses Rule

Fortunately, more people are seeing the benefits of body harnesses, making it much more popular of late. It is primarily an instrument of restraint and collar like the collar, but the differences are myriad.

Ziggy wearing the Rambler Front Range Harness by Best Friend Mobility

For one thing, the placement makes much more sense. As you can probably guess, the harness goes around the body or torso of the dog, rather than the neck. For another, the design is less likely to harm the dog. It takes into account the physiology of the dog. It spreads the pressure along a broad area to prevent local injuries, and typically come with pads at contact points to make it more comfortable for the dogs.

An added advantage of harnesses over collars is it can serve other functions. Harnesses may be fitted with pouches and straps to hold items for the owners and dogs, such as food, water bottles, tools, and anything small and light enough for the dog to carry. They may also feature reflective straps or LED lights, which is handy when walking the dog at night and making them easy to find and follow in the dark. 

Harnesses undoubtedly rule when it comes to controlling and restraining your dog. In fact, it is so effective and safe that human parents use child harnesses, which have the same general design to keep their fleet-footed toddlers in check outside the home.

That said, harnesses come in many configurations. The design of each one is specific for different uses, so be sure to choose the right one for your dog and purpose. Here are two general categories to get you started.

Vest Harness

A widely popular harness in recent years, webbing harnesses are sturdy and robust, designed after the harnesses used for horses. Dog webbing harnesses are usually thick nylon webbing with sturdy plastic snap-on buckles to keep everything it in place.

Most harnesses of this type also have built-in slots or straps for added functionality. For example, a thick strap of webbing located on the center serves as a handle. This is particularly useful if you have a handicapped dog as it gives you a way to lift your dog bodily without causing injury to yourself or the dog. Other features include built-in slots and straps compatible for use with standard car seatbelts.

Nylon Strap Harness

The nylon strap harness is the simplest type of dog harnesses. The basic design is the same one used for child harnesses, and there is some debate on which was based on what. At any rate, this category of harnesses may very well be the first of its kind to come out into the market.

However, just because the design is old does not mean it is out of date. They continue to work very well, probably because manufacturers have gone through many iterations over the years, and they have pretty much perfected the design.

Generally, nylon strap harnesses go with the dog’s body shape and movements. When the dog strains against the restraint or makes an unguarded movement that may injure it, the harness puts pressure on certain parts of the body that it will make it stop. This trains the dog to follow the lead of the owner instead of the other way around.  

With all these benefits of harnesses for you and your dog, choosing them over collars is definitely a smart choice. Leave the collars on your dogs for identification, but use the harness for control.

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Holiday Foods that can Harm Your Dog

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and that means parties and get-togethers with friends and family that comes with a wide variety of food and drinks. The season of eating and drinking is not confined to just us humans, as we always like sharing our blessings with our pets. With all the delicious smelling food dished out, our dogs will definitely take a peek and wonder if they, too, can be jolly.

However, you need to be careful what you give them. What may be just extra pounds for us may be more harmful to our canine pals. Certain foods can cause health problems, ranging from the not so harmful, but irritating to the very harmful or even fatal. Here are some holiday treats you should avoid giving your dogs.

Chocolates and Other Sweets

Sweets, in general, are a no-no for dogs, and for most other non-humans for that matter. The high sugar and fat content in most processed sweet delicacies is enough to make them really hyperactive. To give you an idea of how potent sweets are for dogs, giving a dog a regular cookie manufactured for human consumption is equivalent to feeding a dog a whole hamburger sandwich.

Giving them chocolates is even worse. Aside from the sugar and fat content, the active ingredients include caffeine and theobromine. These have bad effects on a dog’s hormonal and neurological functions and may cause vomiting, seizures, coma and even death.

Turkey

You might be thinking “Even turkey?”. Sadly, yes, mainly because of the high fat content of turkey meat, which can cause your dogs to get a major stomachache. Aside from the fatty meat, the bones can also be cause for alarm. Cooked poultry bones are small and brittle. This could splinter and produce sharp endings that could cause injury starting with your dog’s mouth all the way to their gut. These bones can also get lodged in their mouth or throat. Make sure to keep them away from turkey and chicken bones.

Nuts

Certain nuts, such as macadamia, may cause dogs to become weak, lethargic and, in worse cases, lead to collapse. In general, nuts also pose a choking hazard to dogs as most are hard and small.

Avocado

Most pet owners are not aware that avocados can be very harmful to dogs, even in small amounts. This is because most owners will probably not feed them the fruit itself in the first place. However, many dips such as guacamole have avocado as an ingredient, so it is best to keep them away from dips altogether.

Grapes and Raisins in Fruitcakes

Fruitcakes usually have quite a bit of raisins in them, and they are usually delicious. However, grape or raisin toxicosis in dogs is a thing, and most people are not aware of this. A dog that eats grapes or their dried version raisins, may induce vomiting or diarrhea, which in turn can cause severe dehydration. If you have any fruit cake left over from past celebrations, make sure you keep your furry friends away from it.  

Alcoholic Drinks

It is obviously a bad idea to give our dogs alcohol, but many owners can’t resist.  However, as most dogs are usually half our size, giving them even just a sip of any alcoholic drink could be problematic. Aside from this, many holiday cakes are soaked in alcohol as well. A single bite may have enough alcoholic content to have a very bad effect on your dog.

Nutmeg

This seemingly harmless spice that we put in many desserts and holiday drinks such as eggnog actually contains a small amount of cyanide. Unfortunately, this is not a small amount for our dogs and may cause seizures if taken.

Eating in moderation during the holidays (and most times for that matter) benefits both owners and dogs. When in doubt if something is good or bad for your dog, its best to play it safe and give them vet-approved treats. This way, we keep the holidays fun and merry for everyone.

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What You Need to Know About Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)

Intervertebral disk disease or IVDD in dogs is a disease that occurs due to the hardening of the disks between the vertebrae of the spinal cord. These disks work as shock absorbers interlaced between each vertebra.

If they begin to harden, their shock absorbing function decreases causing pain, weakness or limit range of motion. Eventually, they may harden to a point where they will bulge and compress on the spinal cord, causing even more pain or disrupt nerve function to the bladder and bowel or worse cause paralysis. IVDD when it occurs happen slowly and may take a long time to become noticeable.

Symptoms

Symptoms of IVDD typically do not manifest immediately and may vary. This is why it is hard to check for symptoms of IVDD as they may occur intermittently, gradually, or just suddenly appear. Below are the most common symptoms.

  • Difficulty in moving head and neck due to pain or stiffness
  • Lowering head stance
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Pain during movement
  • Hunched or arched back
  • Problems urinating
  • Dragging of one or more limbs when walking
  • Knuckling of paws when walking
  • Overall weakness
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Lack of coordination
  • Impaired reflexes
  • Difficulty in standing
  • Collapsing
  • Paralysis

Causes

The most common cause of IVDD is age. Like most animals, a dog’s bones become less flexible and more susceptible to hardening of the disks as they grow older. Dogs that regularly perform highly strenuous and high impact activities could be at higher risk in manifesting the disease earlier. Constantly jumping from very high places could cause acute rupturing of disks.

Breeds at Higher Risk

There are breeds that are more susceptible to getting IVDD. This is mainly due to a cartilage formation disorder called Chondrodystrophy, common to some breeds. IVDD usually occurs in these breeds between the ages of 3 and 6 years old. The following are dog breeds most at risk for IVDD:

  • Bassett Hound
  • Beagle
  • Bulldog
  • Corgi
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Dachshund
  • Pekingese
  • Poodle
  • Shih Tzu

Although not common, other dog breeds may also get the IVDD. If they do, it usually occurs between the ages of 8 and 10. These nonchondrodystrophic breed most susceptible to IVDD include:

  • German Shepherd
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Doberman Pinscher

Diagnosis and Treatment

In order to check for IVDD, most veterinary examinations will order X-rays, neurological tests and special imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI. For moderate cases of IVDD, treatment could include steroid treatment and anti-inflammatory medicines. Confined rest to up to six weeks may also be required.

Severe cases of IVDD may require surgery, but is sometimes not advisable for dogs that can no longer walk. In such cases, the use of a dog wheelchair is commonly recommended to give the dog a chance at a healthy and active life even with the disease.

Physical rehab is generally part of the treatment for both minor and severe cases.

Prevention

Here are some tips to help prevent or at the very least minimize the risk of dogs getting IVDD:

  • Maintain your dog’s weight. This can help reduce strain on their backs and necks.
  • Use harnesses instead of neck leashes when walking your dogs. This will also help relieve neck stress.
  • Avoid instances where your dog will need to jump down to a lower area such as ledges, tables or chairs.
  • With the help of your veterinarian, you may also consider having your dog use a back brace for added support.

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Understanding Hip Dysplasia

If you think your dog may have hip dysplasia, here are some basics you should know about the disease including the most common symptoms and treatment

What is Hip Dysplasia

It is the malformation of a dog’s hip joint. A dog’s hip joint is composed of a ball and socket joint. To give you a better idea, a human hip joint is also a ball and socket joint. As with our hip joint, range of movement can be done more or less in a circular motion.

The motion, under normal conditions, is smooth as if the ball and socket are sliding on each other. When hip dysplasia happens in dogs the ball and socket are not formed properly and because of this, instead of a sliding motion during movement, there is rubbing and grinding of the joint. This is very painful especially when moving the back legs. 

How Dogs Get Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is probably the most common skeletal problem that dogs get. Large and giant breeds are the most prone to it but it can also occur in small breed dogs. Gender is not a factor as both male and female dogs may be diagnosed with the disease. Genetics is considered a very big factor as it seems dogs with parents who have had the disease are more prone to also getting it. German Shepherds, Great Danes, and St. Bernard’s are some of the breeds prone to hip dysplasia.

Because genetics is a key factor in predisposition, hip dysplasia onset may occur early, even as young as four months old. Much older dogs may also get it as a result of other health problems such as osteoarthritis. Obesity and lack of exercise are also considered as risk factors.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia 

Check your dogs for the following behavior:

  • Less active then usual
  • Has difficulty
    • getting up
    • running
    • jumping
    • climbing stairs
  • Weakening of back limbs
  • Hopping or swaying gait when walking or running
  • Back legs unnaturally close together when standing
  • Pain in hip joints
  • Grating sound when moving back limbs
  • Decreased range of motion in the hip joints
  • Loss of muscle mass in thigh muscles
  • Enlargement of shoulder muscles due to front limbs compensating for weakness of back limbs

Risk Factors of Hip Dysplasia

As we have already stated earlier, genetics is one major factor as well as size. Obesity and rapid weight gain is also a factor as well as lack of exercise.

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from hip dysplasia bring them immediately to your veterinarian for a check-up. Be prepared to give them details that will help in diagnosis such as health history, recent injuries and their parent’s history.

Treatment of Hip Dysplasia

Treatment may include weight reduction, physical therapy, medications for pain relief, acupuncture, and the use of mobility aids. Treatment must be under the supervision or approval of your dog’s veterinarian.

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Do Disabled Dogs Need Dog Shoes?

Are dog shoes really necessary? Many pet owners are buying dog shoes for their pets, believing it essential as it gives their pet’s paws added protection. Others question the trend. There are those who feel that dog shoes are just fashion accessories imposed on dogs by their owners. For disabled dogs, this question becomes even more important.

For dogs that can stand and walk normally on all four legs, the need for dog shoes may depend on the environment they live in. The terrain and weather may make dog shoes necessary. With extreme temperatures, floor surfaces, as well as slippery and muddy ground, it may make some sense.

It may be even more necessary for disabled pets. Because of the challenges that disabled dogs have to live with on a daily basis, dog shoes may be a necessity for most of them. Dog shoes can:

  1. Help prevent slips and falls – Dog shoes are usually designed with non-slip soles. This gives disabled dogs added support and stability when standing, keeping their legs from slipping apart.
  2. Give better traction – The non-slip nature of dog shoes also helps give disabled dogs a better grip on the walking surface, especially while in a wheelchair. This is especially helpful when they are walking on smooth and slippery floors.
  3. Give added leg support – Many dog shoes are also designed to wrap around and support the paw joint area.
  4. Prevent scrapes and wounds – This is the most common advantage of dog shoes. Since most disabled dogs tend to drag their non-mobile limbs behind them, this can result in scrapes and cuts on the skin and damage to the nails. This is especially worse for active dogs that need to run around, with or without their wheelchair. Wearing dog shoes helps protect the paws as they drag them on the floor.
  5. Help in the healing process – For dogs recovering from surgery or undergoing physical therapy, using dog shoes helps in the recovery process. This is because the shoes give them added support during therapy.

Check out this dog boots review from Wirecutter

This article was updated on March 11, 2019

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A Guide to Bathing Your Disabled Pet

Most dogs and parents dread it, but it’s something that has to be done. We’re talking about giving our dogs a bath. It’s a very important routine, more so for disabled dogs than regularly mobile dogs because of the challenges the former faces on a daily basis. Giving them regular baths is not only good for their hygiene but also for their overall health and comfort. Here are some tips on how we can give our best friend a proper cleaning.

Make a Regular Schedule

For most dogs, regular bathing is generally once a month. For disabled dogs, it usually has to be more frequent, at least twice a month or even more. This is because disabled dogs get their coats and skin dirty faster. Most of them have partial or no control of their limbs. Many drag a part of their body, typically the hind legs, and doing so gets this area more prone to dirt. Also, because of their limited mobility, they often get dirty from their own pee or poop. In many cases, disabled dogs don’t even realize that they are wallowing in their own dirt. In some cases, dog owners are also unaware that their disabled pets soaked in their pee, especially when it has already dried off.

Add to that the unavoidable small accidents that occur due to a pet’s disability such as spills and falls.

How Often is Regular

You need to bathe your dog regularly. How often is regular? It greatly depends on your dog’s lifestyle. For example, if your dog likes to roam around all the time and gets their fur dirty often, then twice a month is not enough. Regularly check the condition of our dog’s skin and fur to find out how fast they get dirty after each bathing session in order to find the right interval.

In Case of Emergency

When you do find the right schedule, it does not mean you have to stick to it faithfully, especially if your dog gets into an accident. If our dog gets dirty in an isolated area, it may not be necessary to give them a full bath. In such cases, you can simply clean them off with baby wipes or a wet towel. For major pee and poop soiling, though, a full bath may be necessary.

The Right Shampoo

Because they need more frequent baths, the skin of your dog may be prone to problems such as dryness or rashes. This is why it’s important to find a product suited to your pet. Unless specifically instructed by your veterinarian, never use shampoos for humans to bathe your dog. Often, a no-tears shampoo is good for using on your dog’s head and face and a moisturizing dog shampoo for the entire body. Consult your vet before choosing a shampoo for your dog.

Water Temperature

When giving your dog a bath, the temperature of the water is also an important factor to keep them calm and comfortable. Too cold or too hot and it could upset them and cause them to associate bath time with discomfort. On the other hand, many disabled dogs also have partial or full loss of nerve function so they may not be able to tell if the water is too hot or too cold, which may also cause skin problems. As a rule of thumb, use warm or tepid water for your dog’s bath.

Positioning Them for the Bath

Bath position may seem like a weird concern, but remember you are bathing a disabled dog. Most of them are unable to place themselves in a comfortable position during the process. There is the possibility of getting their nose, eyes and ears wet, which may cause more discomfort or even drowning. The aim is to position your dog so that they are comfortable and ensure that their head is high enough to avoid accidentally dipping their nose, eyes, and ears in the water. If your dog cannot sit up at all, put it on its side and elevate the head using a waterproof non-slip pillow to keep it above the water. Check that your dog’s legs are straight and in a comfortable position, and that the tail can move freely.

Check the surface you bathe your pet on. Avoid anything that might cause an accidental slip or slide, that’ll make the bathing process harder than it needs to be.

Pick a tub that’s big enough to ensure the comfort of your dog. A non-slip mat goes a long way to keeping everyone safe. Depending on you dog’s size, bath time can be done in your own bath tub, in the sink, or a small wash tub or basin. Again, make sure to place your dog so that its head is higher than the rest of its body.

Giving Your Dog a Bath

When all is set, begin by getting your dog wet from the head to paws. If you are using a hose, make sure the water pressure is gentle enough to avoid hurting your dog. You should also direct the spray in an oblique angle to lessen the pressure.

Avoid getting the nose, eyes, and ear holes wet. After getting your dog’s entire body wet, start shampooing the head with a no-tears shampoo. Start on the face, behind the ears and head, avoiding the nose, ear holes and eyes. Rub and massage in the shampoo following the direction of the fur coat. Shampoo the rest of the body with the same motion using the moisturizing dog shampoo.

Rinse with water starting from the head to the limbs, again avoiding the nose, eyes and ear holes. Make sure to rinse off all the shampoo by rinsing twice. After rinsing, place your dog in a comfortable position on a thick dry towel and gently rub dry.

Now you have a clean, dry, happy dog!

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Canine Hydrotheraphy: The What and Why

We became a bit curious about hydrotherapy when we found an interesting article on it, so we decided to find out more about this method of therapy and rehab to see if it is a good option for our handicapped best friends. We’ve done some research and come up with this brief but hopefully informative article.

What’s It About

Hydrotherapy, as the term implies is a method of physical therapy or physical rehabilitation making use of water as a medium. It has been in use for quite a long time now for people and is slowly gaining popularity for animals such as horses and dogs. It takes advantage of the properties of water to help the patient to recovery muscle mass, blood circulation and joint movement. The most important advantage of making use of water for therapy is its buoyancy, which creates a low gravity environment, thereby helping the patient focus on the limbs that needs therapy. It also lessens the friction on the joints during sessions.

It has been proven to be effective in helping many dogs with various problems and complications. It is a beneficial form of treatment for dogs recovering from injuries and/or operations, those who have degenerative joint problems, and even paralyzed dogs. It is very beneficial for old dogs with arthritis and is has also been proven to be effective as a weight loss program for overweight dogs.

Types of Hydrotherapy for Dogs

There are mainly three types of hydrotherapy for dogs: whirlpools, dog pools and treadmills.

WHIRLPOOLS

This is mainly used to help dogs get accustomed to the water environment. The water temperature is regulated based on the nature of treatment. It is a safe and relaxing environment, but at the same time provide just the right kind of stress for effective rehabilitation. A trained medical professional assists the dog while in the whirlpool and performs the therapy.

DOG POOLS

This is similar to a swimming pool for people where dogs can learn to swim, do laps, and play catch. The dogs wear life vests and the therapy sessions are supervised by trained medical professionals.

TREADMILLS

This is usually a transparent glass tub with a treadmill inside. The dogs, with a life vest on, is placed inside the tub on the treadmill, and then water is allowed to pour in up to a height a little above the dog’s limbs, covering part of the body below the neck. The treadmill is then turned on to make the dog walk while supported by the water.

Benefits of Water Therapy

Based on our research, water therapy is a very effective method of physical therapy for various kinds of muscle and joint problems as well as for weight loss programs for dogs. It is very effective because it is an environment that effectively addresses the difficulties associated with physical therapy, such as the impact of gravity and increased friction on the joints during exercise. It also increases the efficacy of exercises due to the increased resistance water creates compared to air.

Is It Good for Your Best Friend?

Clearly, hydrotherapy is something worth exploring and considering to help your best friend get the exercise it needs when faced with physical limitations. The best first step is to consult your veterinarian and find out more about this type of therapy, as well as other options available in your area.

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Giving Your Disabled Pet a Normal Life

It may seem like bitter irony to be thinking of “normal” when your pet can’t walk or is otherwise disabled. Yet your pet may not even realize that they are disabled, and will usually adapt to their new restrictions quite easily. They take each day as it comes without much thought, and may be perfectly capable of leading a healthy and happy life despite their disabilities.

It’s true that they will need special care, with you as the service person. However, they are incapable of feeling sorry for themselves, unlike most humans. The best thing you can do for your pet is to give them a normal life and enjoy their company.

Blind pets

Dogs rely more on their sense of smell rather than their sight, so blindness may not affect them as much as you might think. In fact, it may be some time before you even realize they’re blind. The case is otherwise for cats, but you can help them adjust by making a few changes in the surroundings.

  • Encourage their sense of smell by hiding distinctively scented treats in toys, motivating them to “follow their nose”
  • Clear hallways and floors of clutter to give them passage with a minimum of bumps
  • Acclimatize your pet to the layout of the home by leading them around them several times
  • Continue to take your pet for walks, but make sure they stay close and on a leash to control encounters with aggressive animals
  • Talk to your pet to give them a sense of security
One heartwarming pair, Glenn and Buzz.

Deaf pets

Both dogs and cats have acute hearing, and unless they were born deaf, you will both need some retraining to cope with its loss.

  • You have to learn to use hand signals to take the place of spoken commands, so practice with your pet
  • Get their attention by touching them or making eye contact; try not to sneak up on them by taking firm steps they can feel
  • Keep one light on at all times where your pet stays to give them a sense of security

Mobility-impaired pets

Mobility impairment is actually a much bigger challenge for your pet than the loss of sight and hearing because it essentially makes your pet helpless. Whether the impairment is temporary or permanent, in order to give your mobility-impaired pet a normal life, you need to make some significant changes in their routines.

  • Consult a vet for a long-term prognosis of your pet’s condition to better understand how to give them a normal life
  • Establish a regular routine to give them a sense of structure and security, and keeping your pet from feeling anxious
  • Bathe them regularly, especially if they are unable to do their business on their own or incontinent
  • Learn to express their bowels and bladder to make your pet more comfortable
  • Check your pet’s hair and skin regularly for any signs of sores or wounds resulting from always lying down or dragging their paralyzed limbs around
  • Consider alternative therapies such as acupuncture and massage, especially if the impairment is a result of surgery and temporary to keep the muscles supple
  • Give them plenty of opportunities to go outdoors and socialize with other pets; you don’t have to worry about teasing
  • Regularly check forums for disabled pets for support, tips and suggestions from other pet owners

You should also consider mobility aids such as dog wheelchairs appropriate for your pet’s size. It may be a bit of an investment, but it will give them much more freedom and dignity than carrying them all the time. It will also make your pet healthier physically and psychologically, and save you back problems later on. You only have to check out the videos of dogs in wheelchairs and you will realize how much difference it can make to your pet’s life.

Conclusion

The most important thing you can do for your disabled pet is to be patient with them as they adjust to their impairments. It can require considerable commitment in money and time on your part, but it will all be worth it.

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Disabled Dogs and Potty Problems

One of the major issues you will probably have to deal with if you have a disabled dog is incontinence. Number two is especially an issue, as the mess can be considerable.  If you’re one of those people with a pathological fear of getting dirty, then you may find the following article hard to swallow. However, if you’re determined to keep your disabled dog, then you will just have to suck it up (thankfully, not literally!).

The best way to deal with your dog’s potty problems is to take control. Learn to express the bowel so that your dog will do its business under controlled conditions. It’s not as hard as it sounds. It’s actually quite similar to stimulating the poop reflex in babies, although babies don’t bite, so dogs can be a bit challenging. If you put forth the effort, however, it can pay dividends.

Stimulating the reflex

When you express the bowel, it’s tantamount to saying “It’s time to go.” There are several ways to do this, but it all involves some touching and squeezing of the dog’s anus, so you will need gloves (preferably the thin disposable latex ones used by vets). You may also need:

  • Squirt bottle
  • Baby wipes
  • Paper towels or old newspapers
  • Cool (not cold) water
  • Petroleum jelly

METHOD 1

If your dog is small, this is probably the easiest and neatest way to get it to give it up. Hold your dog over the toilet bowl with its butt in the clear over the water (make sure the tail doesn’t make splash down first!) in the crook of your arm so you have a clear field of view. Your dog may struggle at first, so make sure you have a firm grip or you might end up with it in the toilet

When you’re ready, find the anus opening and with your other hand (gloved), gently push down on the tissue around it. If you feel something solid, then your dog has something for you. Make a pincher of your fingers and squeeze the hole shut and release several times, pulling outward all the while. If your dog has anything to give, it should plop (or ooze) out at some point.

METHOD 2

If your dog is bigger, this may be a more practical method. Put some cool (not cold) water in a squirt bottle. Adjust the nozzle so it produces a stream rather than a spray. Place your pet on an old newspaper or several sheets of paper towel, and lift the tail to find the anus. Squirt the cool water in the opening, and you should see it pucker. Do this several times to get the anus going. You can also use baby wipes to add to the stimulus. Do it long enough (and presuming your dog has anything in there), you should get satisfaction soon enough. After the business is done, simply fold up the newspaper or paper towels and dispose.

METHOD 3

A simpler method, requiring less effort, is using an ice cube. Do the same as with Method 2, but instead of using a spray bottle, have an ice cube ready. Place it directly on the opening and keep it there. When you feel some pushing against the cube, then you have success. This is especially useful in large dogs, because their poop is going to be proportional to their size, so you don’t want your face anywhere too near the opening!

METHOD 4

This is the last resort when none of the above methods work for your pet. It involves direct stimulation of the sphincter (just the outer one, don’t worry), which means inserting your finger slightly into the anus. Do the same as for Methods 2 and 3, but instead of water or an ice cube, you will need lubricant. Rub the end of selected gloved finger with petroleum jelly and insert in the opening. Go in just a centimeter or two, don’t go prospecting! This is just to stimulate the reflex, you’re not trying to pull it out yourself! You may have to wait a while, but it will come.

Important tips

You should stick to a regular time and place for expressing the bowel to get your pet used to it. Pets can be stressed when they are presented with a situation they don’t understand. It will also make your pet more “regular.”

The best times to express the bowel are in the morning and just before bedtime. However, each pet’s system differs, so you may have to go through a bit of trial and error to find the optimal times to get it to do doodoo.

You may have to change your pet’s diet if the stool is too hard or too soft. In either case, it’s just more work you don’t need. Dried food may be your best option, but not all brands produce the ideal type of stool (solid, low odor). Some people swear by Science Diet w/d, while others recommend Bil-Jac. Again, trial and error is in the cards. 

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