Pet Health

Dog Sports

Is your dog in need of some additional exercise to keep your dog in shape or even beat the bulge? Wanting some inspiration? Look no further; Nadia Crighton takes a look at the top dog sports across the country.

 

For those of us who are lucky enough to have discovered dog sports while our dogs were pups, the sheer excitement and joy of participating is easy. For those who are yet to discover the sheer adrenaline and addictive nature of these amazing sports, now is the time to enroll your dog, or pop along to a club for a sneaky look. The benefits of enrolling your dog in a sport is huge:

  • It keeps up with training, while being lots of fun.
  • It enriches the bond between you and your dog.
  • Great for socialisation.
  • Helps keep your dog in shape (and sometimes even you!).
  • Help fulfill your dog’s natural abilities and instincts.
  • Makes your dog happy.

 

 

Agility

The most popular and well-known sport is agility. This is a wonderful dog sport that will have your dog complete a series of obstacles while being directed by a handler (AKA you). The dog is then scored on accuracy and speed. Working together, off-lead will strengthen your bond, as you watch and marvel at your dog bounding and weaving through the set obstacles. These can include:

  • Jumps
  • Tunnels
  • A-Frame consisting of two ramps in the shape of an A.
  • Dog Walk – two ramps with a flat ramp in the middle.
  • Teeter-Trotter – like a child’s seesaw
  • Collapsed tunnel
  • Hurdles
  • Weave Poles
  • And much more depending on the club

Dogs can be trained at all ages but it is advisable to be cautious with very young dogs whose joints are still developing. This is one of the most popular dog sports and you can even purchase equipment to train your hound at home. Pop along to your local agility club for more information on how you and your dog can get involved.

 

Flyball

Does your dog love to run? Flyball might be just the sport you have been looking for. This sport will have your dog running through a course containing hurdles. At the end of the run the dog will hit the flybox with their paws causing a tennis ball to be launched through the air. The participating dog needs to collect the ball and race back through the course to the finish line. It’s the perfect sport for those dogs that have huge amounts of energy and in need of some serious fun! Flyball is a brilliant sport to watch and even more entertaining to participate. You’ll be in sheer delight at how incredible these dogs are. Benefits include:

  • Great for exercise
  • Exerts lots of pent-up energy
  • Improves the bond between handler and dog
  • Great for ball obsessed dogs
  • Super fun!

 

Dog Dancing

This sport is gaining in mainstream popularity due to featuring on many talent television shows in recent years. Officially known as; Musical Canine Freestyle, it consists of dogs and handlers learning to move in sync while preforming to music. It is a great way to creatively interact with your dog and suits many dogs of all sizes and abilities. Dogs are trained to work on both sides of the handler’s body in a series of heel’s and obedience tricks and talents. There are two techniques:

  • Freestyle Heeling – this is when the dog must remain close to their hander during the musical routine. The dog must remain close to the handler and look as they are almost on lead. Dogs are not allowed to jump or weave, or to do anything that isn’t a ‘heel’ during the routine.
  • Musical Freestyle – This is when the creativity muscles can really flex. Dogs are able to fully express themselves with many obedience tricks and moves including weaving, rolling, jumping and passing through the legs.

 

There are so many additional dog sports than those mentioned above. No dog is ever too old to learn new tricks and you’ll be simply astonished at how much fun you both have. A fantastic way to improve your dogs training in a fun and interesting environment.

Toxic Foods and Other Nasties

Toxic Foods and Other Nasties

 

Wondering what you should and shouldn’t feed your pet? Want to know why Ibuprofen is so dangerous to dogs? Nadia Crighton takes a look at the common toxic foods and household items that can harm your beloved animal.

 

Dogs are natural scavengers and many end up in trouble after ingesting something their systems simply can’t handle. It’s impossible to protect your pet from all the nasties lurking in the garden and in the home, but having a good understanding of the most common foods and household items that are safe for human consumption, but deadly to dogs, is the best form of defense.

 

Toxic Foods

Most dog owners are aware of the #1 most common and toxic food that can cause huge problems for dogs, and that is chocolate. Chocolate is made from roasting the seeds of the Theobroma Cacao, which contain two toxic properties; caffeine and theobromine. Ingesting these can be fatal for an unsuspecting dog. Dark chocolate and cooking chocolate are the worst of the variety, but all forms can cause poisoning. The main reason so many dogs are poisoned each year from consuming chocolate is because most owners simply forget to put the sweet treats up and out of reach of little paws.

Other common causes of toxicity in dogs caused by foods is:

  • Raisins / grapes – this can cause sudden kidney failure. The known reason for this is not clear, and it seems some dogs are affected while others are not. So it’s best to stay clear.
  • Macadamia nuts – again the reason why these are toxic to dogs is unclear, however they have been known to cause vomiting, weakness, depression and hyperthermia. Although not fatal they can make your dog very unwell.
  • Butter – can cause pancreatitis in dogs. Any fatty meal / foods should never be fed to your pooch as it can make them very unwell. Dogs cannot process fats like humans can. One very fatty meal can cause damage to the pancreas and leave your pet feeling very unwell.

 

Over the Counter

There are also other common household products that you should keep out of reach of your beloved pet. The most common misconception people have is that they can self medicate their pets with human pain relief. Ibuprofen is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NASID. These NASID’s can be very toxic to dogs. In large doses it can lead to kidney failure and death, and in small doses can make your pet very ill. Only use medication on your dog that has been prescribed by your veterinarian. Other common household poisons include:

  • Rodent poison (Rodenticides)
  • Ant and cockroach bait
  • Cold and Flu medication
  • Caffeine (this includes highly caffeinated energy drinks and caffeine tablets)
  • Fertilizer

 

What to do?

If you suspect your dog has ingested anything poisonous it’s best to seek veterinary advice immediately. The quicker you get help the better the chance of a full recovery. Some of the symptoms of poising include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, possibly bloody
  • Black tar like stools
  • High temperature
  • Lethargic
  • Rapid breathing
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale gums
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Weakness
  • Seizures / tremors
  • Increased heart rate

Obese Dog – What to do

Dog Food – The Right Choice

So Rover is the size of a small truck…and you know that he’s suffering with obesity. The question is; what should you do? Nadia Crighton investigates.

Having a dog that is overweight is not good news. Obesity is a major problem within the dog community and the problem seems to be getting worst. Many dogs now are showing signs of being over-weight, which is putting a huge strain on their organs and limiting their life expectancy. Because these changes are so gradual many pet owners are oblivious to their dog’s ballooning weight problems. If you have a friend or family member, whose dog is clearly overweight, it might pay to bring the subject up with them…you could save their dog’s life.

Symptoms
Some of the main signs your dog is over weight is:

  • You can not feel your dogs ribs as there is a thick layer of fat over the top.
  • Looking down from above your dog, there is no definite waistline.
  • Exercise causing breathlessness.
  • Limping or difficulty to move due to excessive weight.
  • Excessive fat around the limbs, face and neck.
  • Unwillingness to exercise.
  • Dog looks out of proportion.

If your ticked YES to any of the above a check by a veterinarian is a must to diagnose your dog’s obesity and also rule out any other complications. It’s a good idea to keep a doggy food diary and write down exactly how much food your dog is consuming. This also includes treats, foods you are feeding your dog from your plate, the cat biscuits the dog is steeling etc. You may be quite surprised how much food your dog actually has access to during the day. This is a great tool to take to your vet so you can take the best course of action to reduce the weight and improve your dog’s overall health and wellbeing.

Getting Under Control
So your dog is deemed to be suffering from obesity… what next? Your vet will advise a slow and gentle approach to weight loss, which will include:

  • Dietary change. Perhaps to a special prescription diet. Your vet will also ask you to stop feeding your dog treats, and human food. There are also some low-calorie dog foods commercially available to your pet.
  • Keep other foods out of reach. This may include feeding your cat in an area away from your dog.
  • Increasing exercise. Little by little. Not heading out on a marathon run or hike. If your dog hasn’t been exercising regularly a small and gentle walk around the block and gradually extending the distance and pace is the best way to go.
  • Remember this a lifestyle change not an overnight fix. Your dog will need to gradually increase exercise and degrease calories. Make exercise fun, think about training, balls, fun activities for you both to do and watch the weight melt away and your new energized dog emerge!

Homemade Dog Treats

Homemade Dog Treats

Want to spoil your pet this silly season with some special treats? Nadia Crighton gets busy baking in the kitchen to whip up some canine delights.

This is a great time of year to bake your pooch some homemade delights. I always like to have a big jar on hand so when guests visit they know that if they wish to treat my dogs they do so through the doggy-safe-treat jar and not their own plate. It’s our way of safe-guarding against accidental poisoning. Just make sure your dog isn’t getting too, many treats. Piling on the pounds is not good for us, or our dogs around this time of year.

Peanut Butter Delights

2 cups wholemeal flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tbsp chopped parsely
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon (optional)

Method
Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Line a couple of trays with baking paper. Stir together the first five ingredients. Add the remainder and slowly add water until the mix becomes a fairly stiff dough. you may need to use more or less than specified.
Put tablespoon sized lumps and flatten into biscuits on the trays
Bake for around 40 minutes, until golden and hard
Cool completely before serving

Bacon Bites

 

6 slices cooked bacon crispy and crumbled
4 eggs
1/8 cup bacon fat (use from the cooking)
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk powder
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
2 cups wheat germ

Method:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Beat the eggs and mix all ingredients together. Place heaped tablespoons on a tray lined with baking paper. Bake at for approximately 15 minutes until golden brown and crunchy. Leave biscuits to dry out on cooking tray before storing.

Yougurt Peanut Butter Ice-Pops

 

2 cups of yougurt
1 cup smooth peanut butter

Method:
Melt the peanut butter and cool slightly. Blend the peanut butter and yougurt together until you get a smooth paste. Pop into cupcake cases and freeze. A great cool treat for your dog.

Health Crunch

 

340 grams wholemeal flour
340 grams of high-grade flour
55g wheat germ
2 tbsp chopped parsley
3 tbsp Flax Seed oil
3 eggs beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
85g powered milk
1 cup water

Method:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Dissolve milk powder in water and mix well. Combine all ingredients and knead to a firm dough. Wrap dough in plastic and set aside for 30mins to rest. Roll between baking paper and cut into shapes. Bake on a lined tray for approximately 40mins or until hard and crispy. Let biscuits cool completely before storing.

Dog Food – The Right Choice

Dog Food – The Right Choice

What is all the fuss about dog food and what food is best for your beloved pooch? Nadia Crighton tackles the tough questions about the foods we choose to feed our loveable dogs.

Food glorious food! Let’s face it, today more than ever we are completely spoilt for choice when it comes to pet food. With so many impressively designed pet foods to choose from, and specific dog needs it’s no surprise many of us get confused when it comes to what is best for our pets. We’ve come up with some solutions and the types of things to consider when choosing the best food for your dog.

Balance – it’s all about balance!

The key component to a quality dog food is balance. There has to be the correct amount of protein and minerals. Also have a checklist;

  • High quality protein content? What is it? What is the percentage? If it reads by-product, then what is that by-product? By-product means a secondary product. Do your research and ask the right questions.
  • Artificial colours, preservatives and flavours? Remember if your dog food has some brightly coloured morsels, chances are it’s packed with fake ingredients. Artificial flavours have also been linked to allergies so it is best to avoid these at all costs.
  • If your dog food provider is able to boast that they are free from genetically modified ingredients, this is a really good thing. We don’t know what impact GM products have on us, or our beloved dogs.
  • Prebiotics? Does your dog food contain any natural occurring prebiotics, these are very beneficial to your dogs overall health and condition.
  • Essential omega 3 and 6. This is vital for a good coat and health in your dog

Bad Food – Symptoms

So how do you know if your dog food is not up to scratch? It’s simple really…the proof is in your dog. If your dog shows some of these signs consider a gradual change in their pet food.\

  • Poo? Is it large and really smelly? Loose or pellet like?
  • Gastrointestinal upsets (gurgling guts) or lots of smelly gas?
  • Coat condition? Oily, dry? Patchy, smelly?
  • Behaviour? Overly energetic/excited? Lethargic and tired? Some dogs can also become aggressive from too much protein and a poor diet.

Change of Diet?
This has to be a gradual process or you could induce sickness and gastrointestinal upset like diarrhea. Start by adding small amounts of your new food to your dog’s current diet. Slowly increasing the amount until you have eventually changed the food.

Costs?
It’s a fact that you pay for what you get for. However, many premium dog foods are easily affordable (just make sure you follow the feeding guide so you do not over-feed your dog). The costs of feeding your dog an inferior diet will show in their condition and ultimately their life-span. Look at purchasing premium dog foods direct from the manufacturer or look out for the best deals and loyalty programs.

Specific diets?
If you pooch suffers from a specific aliment such as allergies, liver, obesity or even teeth problems they may be prescribed a specific dog food to help with these conditions. It is very important that you always seek veterinary advise before changing your dogs diet as it may cause problems and illness. These pet foods are only available from veterinary clinics with many needing to be specially prescribed for your dog specific issues.

Top 10 Dog Health Tips – Part 2

Top 10 Dog Health Tips – Part 2

Continuing our Top 10 Dog Heath Tips, in Part 2, Nadia Crighton looks at the most common aliments affecting dogs. From; weight concerns to, kennel cough, dental issues and more. Get a better understanding of the top 10 health problems facing dogs today.

6. Kennel Cough
Kennel Cough is a highly contagious upper respiratory illness that occurs in dogs. Symptoms include persistent coughing or hacking that can sound like your dog is choking. A watery nasal discharge may also be present. The best way to prevent Kennel Cough is to have it routinely vaccinated against. Most kennels will not allow you to board your dog unless you can prove recent vaccination.

7. Weight
Look at your dog from above… do they have a defined waist? If they don’t your dog could possibly be heading towards obesity. If you cannot feel your dog’s bones under their layer of fat then your dog is over-weight. It might be time to consider a weight loss regime. Ask your local veterinarian for some dog health advice. Are you worried your dog is underweight? Can you see their bones protruding? If you can see your dogs’ bones they are underweight. Some dogs have terrible trouble keeping the weight on, especially during colder months. Consider using a dog-coat during the cooler months, which will help conserve energy and fat. A vet check is in order to rule out any underlying problems. You may also need to consider a special diet.

8. Dental
Dog health tip 8: Dental care is paramount in responsible pet ownership. Bad teeth and gums can lead to heart problems, as the teeth are a gateway to the blood stream. Keep your dogs teeth healthy with dog dental chews, dental toys and raw bones. Never feed your dog cooked bones as they can splinter and cause injury. A yearly teeth check-up is advised. Remember; a dog should not have overly smelly breath. Bad breath can be a sign of bad teeth or gums.

9. Arthritis
This is a very common problem, particularly in older dogs, however some younger pooches also can suffer from arthritis. Common symptoms include limping, moaning when getting up or lying down, pacing, licking joints and general stiffness. There are plenty of great medical treatments for arthritis that can add new life to old bones. Speak to your vet for options in managing arthritis. Keeping your pet at their ideal weight is important, as too, a good nourishing diet full of essential amino and fatty acids. Holistic care can also be very beneficial for dogs with arthritis.

10. Skin & Coat
Skin and coat conditions are very common in dogs of all shapes and sizes. It is always worth further examination to rule out any allergies or common breed associated skin problems. Keep a diary, and note when your dog has their ‘flare ups’. Is it after a bath or during a certain season? Or all year round? Some dogs suffer from food allergies and this can cause skin problems while others could be having a reaction to a certain cleaning product. Allergies and skin problems can be hard to diagnose but keeping a diary can help you, and your vet, to find the best solution.

It would be great to hear more Dog Health Tips if you know any!

Top 10 Dog Health Tips – Part 1

Top 10 Dog Health Tips – Part 1

Nadia Crighton looks at the most common ailments affecting dogs. From how to successfully give medicine to your dog, weight problems, kennel cough and more. Get a better understanding of the top 10 dog health problems our pets are facing today.

1. Giving medicine to dogs

This can be a tricky one for some dog owners. Many medicines do come flavored however there are some tricks of the trade to get your pooch to take their tablets. Kneel or stand beside your dog with your dog in the sit position. Secure their head against your body and open their mouth (carefully pop your fingers between the lips and pull the lower jaw down). Place the tablet inside their mouth (at the back of their tongue). Keep your hands softly around the muzzle to stop the mouth from opening. Rub softly on their throat or blow into their nose. This will encourage your dog to swallow. Some dogs are tricky and will ‘hide’ the tablet even after swallowing so you may have to repeat. Encourage your dog to drink or squirt a small amount of water into the mouth with a drink bottle. Alternatively you can try and hide the tablet in some food or cheese.

2. Nail trimming

This should be done from puppy-hood as your dog will be used to someone handling and trimming nails. If your dog’s nails are overgrown head to the vet as if you attempt to trim you will clip the ‘quick’ area and cause bleeding and pain. The ‘quick’ is the cluster of blood vessels that run through the nail and as your dog’s nails grow longer so will the ‘quick’. Keep the nails short and trimmed to ensure comfort and ease when walking. Long nails are uncomfortable and can cause pain.

3. Ear Care

Dog health tip 3: Clean your dog’s ears regularly. This can easily be done with a piece of paper-towel. Gently wrap around your finger and move in a circular motion to remove the dirt and build up from the ear. If you notice any funny sickly sweet smells or a lot of discharge, head off for a further check up as your dog could be suffering from a yeast infection.

4. Worms & Heart worms

It is important to worm your dog regularly. Worms can cause havoc in dogs, which have compromised immune systems, are young or old, or are suffering from sickness. Heart worm treatment is also vital as this deadly worm can go unnoticed until it is too late.

5. Behavioral

If you are concerned about any aspects of your dog’s behavior, whether it be barking, inter-dog aggression, chasing lights/shadows, anxiety or nervousness seek advice from a professional. Most behaviors can be successfully treated and managed with understanding, training and patience. Understanding dog behavior is vital in responsible dog ownership. With so many wonderful professionals on hand, it’s never been easier to solve your unwanted doggy habits.

Be on the look for our second article containing the next 5 Dog Health Tips coming soon!

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