Fit N Furry likes to keep warm in the cold, How about you?

Embed from Getty Images
Now that the weather is getting colder and some of us are heading up to the snow, we here at Fit N Furry have a couple of tips to help keep your pets happy, healthy, and warm during the winter. There are many key elements that can help keep your pets safe that are easy to do.

One of these elements is having proper housing if your pet stays outside for long periods of time. Having dog houses with sloped roofs with insulation will help keep rain, snow, and wind out as well as keeping the heat in. Putting blankets in with your pet is ideal, it doesn’t necessarily matter if they are new blankets or old clothes, even straw is great for insulating body heat. Very young dogs and elderly dog should not be kept outside for long in order keep them healthy. Remember that wind chill will make your pet colder than the actual temperature outside.

Another great way to keep your pets warm is clothing. Pet stores today have everything from sweaters, shoes, beanies, or pajamas in all types of material and sizes. Sweaters and shirt will insulate your pets’ body temperature while shoes or booties are ideal when walking your pet during the cold or in the snow; salt, magnesium, and snow can all get in between your pets toes causing irritation.Embed from Getty Images
We all know exercise is important but during the cold weather it is better to have limited time outside.  Shorter walks and time outside helps prevent hypothermia and frostbite which can be fatal if not treated in time.

We all know that humans can get hypothermia and frostbite in the cold but did you know animals can too?  Not everyone knows the symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite so to help keep everyone safe here are the signs and treatment methods for both.

 Hypothermia is when the body’s temperature falls below normal levels, so it’s sort of like the opposite of a fever. A dog’s normal body temperaturshould be 100-101 degrees and cat’s normal body temperature should be 100.5 to 102.5 degrees. The most obvious symptom is low body temperature or shivering, others you might not be aware of are lethargy, muscle stiffness, dilated pupils, slow reactions, slow movements, lack of co-ordination, shallow breathing, and unconsciousness. Use thick warm blankets and warm water bottles (Place on abdomen) to help raise your pets body temperature. If you don’t have any blankets or warm water bottles available, you can use jackets. Remember to immediately call your vet or an emergency clinic.


 Frostbite is tissue damage that is caused by exposure to extreme cold conditions. Symptoms for frostbitten tissue usually will appear pale or gray and as the area thaws it will turn red. In severe cases the tissue will eventually turn black and may disconnect from the rest of the body. The important thing to remember if your pet gets frostbite is to never massage the injured areas for it is extremely painful and can make the injury worse. The frostbitten areas need to quickly warmed and to seek immediate vet attention.

Embed from Getty Images
We hope these tip will help keep everyone happy, safe, and warm this winter!

Advertisements

Fit ‘N’ Furry wants you to find what leash and collar works best for you and your dog….

There are many different types of collars and leashes and it can beEmbed from Getty Images
hard to choose what is right for you and your pet. Since each dog is unique, there are a few products that we love to recommend here at Fit N Furry! Before going out the choosing a new collar from the pet store, the best way to be sure if something is going to safe for your pet is to consult your veterinarian first.

One of our favorite collars to use at Fit ‘N’ Furry is a Martingale collar. Once originally used for greyhounds, the martingales popularity has grown in the past few years as a great alternative to chain collars or pinch collars. Once property sized and adjusted, you can take the collar on and off with ease without worrying about making sure the buckle is properly latched. While walking your pet on a martingale, if your pet is not pulling, the collar with remain loose around your pets’ neck. If your pet pulls, the collar instantly becomes tight and prevents your dog from backing out of the collar.

Another great item we use is a front lead harness. This type of harness is perfect for dogs with trachea problems or dogs that pull. There is a ring that sits on the front of your dogs’ chest and when properly used can help redirect the pulling motion without choking. These harnesses are the ones our trainer prefers to use.

If you’re having issues with a pet that is pulling and nothing has seemed to help stop the problem, you may want to look into a Gentle Leader or a Halti.Both of these sit on the bridge of your dogs’ nose and wrap around the back of the head helping guide your dog in the direction you want to go in. In a sense, it works exactly the same as a halter for a horse, keeping the pet close and under control.

There are many different leashes available, ranging from material type to length. Leashes between 4 and 6 feet in length are the most common and ideal for keeping your dog safe and keeping you in control. The majority of leashes can be found in Nylon, Cotton or Leather. Most recently we’ve noticed some pet parents starting to lean towards a bungee or shock absorbing leash. This helps take the strain off of the walker. Any leash is a good leash as long as it’s well made and has a strong clasp.

Embed from Getty Images

These are just some of the helpful tools you can use with your pet, but there is much more out there in the pet industry worth exploring.

Fit’n’Furry Investigates: What Pet is Right for My Child?

“Pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaassssse?! He’s so cute! I promise I’ll look after him! I’ll do everything for him. He’ll be mine! You won’t have to do a thing! Please can we get him, Pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaassssse?!”  A familiar sound at shelters, pet stores and adoption events, a child’s plea for a pet is cute (unless it’s a shrill cry) but as a parent you may be wondering – when is the right age for your young one to take care of an animal. What pet is right for him? Is he an appropriate age? Is he responsible enough? How much of the work am I going to end up with? Each child and family is different, but here are some guidelines to keep in mind before taking your little bi-ped to adopt a new quadruped family member. 200155493-001

The ASPCA recommends different animals for different ages for first time little pet owners. Between the ages of three and five, your child is learning about contact and empathy. ASPCA experts recommend a guinea pig for a pet. “Guinea pigs like to be held, seldom bite and will whistle when excited or happy, to the delight of most kids. Your child can also help with responsibilities by filling the water bottle and food dish.” Of course, mom or dad will need to supervise playtime and make sure that the cage is washed properly.

goldfishinbowlFor five to ten year olds, small pets such as gerbils, rats, hamsters and fish are recommended for learning proper care and pet hygiene. This keeps the parent’s involvement (aka: work) to a minimum.  Children at this age tend to have a short attention span. Keep watch that your child is giving clean water and is feeding the appropriate amount of food. They can help with chores such as cleaning the cage, washing the toys and measuring the food. These steps are vital before adopting larger pets that require more dedication. During this time of learning, your child is gaining confidence and a sense of responsibility which will bring them to the next step, if wanted.

Tweens are generally known to teens_walking_dog_in_parkhave the greatest interest in owning a dog or cat. They are mature enough to clean the litter box, and keep them watered and fed properly. For walking, they should not do so independently until they are typically over the age of 15. This is because kids under this age may not know how or be physically able to handle dangerous situations that may arise,  such as unleashed dogs. Kids of this age group can also attend training classes for Pooch; a wonderful learning opportunity! This is an age of reliance but parents should still keep tabs on how the pet is doing in terms of hygiene and diet.

Once your child reaches teenage-dom, they tend to become very busy with extracurricular activities, friends, school, and more. The ASPCA mentions birds or fish for first-time-teen pet owners. Your rapidly growing and maturing “little ones” will soon find themselves going to college and leaving their nest. So, remember that any pet is a FOREVER pet and the parent may end up with Fido or Fluffy for a very long amount of time.

It is up to the parent to create and keep guidelines for their child. Sure, they may make the promises to feed, water, clean, play and care with those cute little faces at the shelter. However, the situation may turn into the parent taking all the responsibility once the child finds out that it’s not all fun and games to own a pet. A great way to build trust that your child will take care of their pet is for them to use their allowance money to purchase treats, beds and toys. GlobalAnimal.org says that immediate positive reinforcement is a perfect and productive way to praise your child for a job well done; more confidence boosting and a feeling of responsibility. An outline to read with your child can be found here. No matter what and when your child decides to take on a new pet, it is the family’s duty to make sure that the pet is well looked after; it’s just a matter of how much time and effort everyone is willing to dedicate.

Fit ‘n’ Furry’s Guidelines for Introducing a New Dog into Your Family

Are you contemplating adding a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th furry addition to your family? In order to make the transition smoother for the new dog, the existing dogs, and you, following are some guidelines for not only choosing which dog to bring into your family, but how to introduce them to your existing “pack”.

Choosing Your New Dog

When choosing which new dog to bring into your family, there are some basic ground rules to follow to help ensure that the new dog will get along with your resident dog(s).

  1. Does your current dog have any doggie friends? If your resident dog is selective with their friends or generally tends to not get along with other dogs, then adding a new addition may not be the best idea.
  2. Do your best to select a dog that has the opposite personality of your current dog. If your current dog is more dominant, choose a dog that is more submissive.
  3. In general, it would also be a good idea to choose a dog of the opposite sex, or if your current dog is male get another male. Sometimes females have more troubles with same-sex dogs.

Guidelines for Your Resident Dog(s)

Make sure that the structure and leadership in your household is well established and that your current dog(s) is under good voice control and knows their basic obedience commands. If your resident dog has trouble following basic rules and commands, it will be difficult for them to listen to you if a problem arises between the two dogs. Set up your home beforehand and ensure that you have enough resources for both dogs (bowls, beds, crates, toys) so that neither dog will feel the need to have to guard these things from the other.

The Meeting

Exercise both dogs separately before the meeting, but do not exhaust them! Tired dogs, like children, can become grumpy. Do NOT introduce the dogs in or around your home; dogs tend to be territorial, so take them to a neutral place so that your current dog does not feel that he has to protect their home from an intruder. Choose a fenced area that is relatively free from distractions and other dogs, like an empty school yard, but not a dog park.

With both dogs on leash, have one person to handle each and casually walk them past each other a few times. When you feel comfortable, drop the leashes (but keep them attached!) and let the dogs greet each other. If you witness signs of stress or aggression (i.e., baring teeth, growling, freezing, etc.), pick up the leashes and do a few more walk-bys and try again. This procedure may take a few attempts before the dogs are comfortable with each other.

At the Home Front

Once your new dog has been properly introduced to your resident dog(s), it is time to bring them home. We would suggest restricting the dogs’ area of free roaming by utilizing baby gates and closing all doors to bedrooms and bathrooms so that you can keep an eye on them at all times. If you use crates, be sure to have one for each dog in the event that they need to be separated or one or both need a break to recharge.

Take the dogs on a walk together before entering the home. Walking together is a great way for dogs to get accustomed to each other in a neutral and fun way. During meal times, feed the dogs from separate bowls. If either dog is known to be food possessive, feed them in separate rooms as well. If you are unsure whether the dogs will guard their food from the other, feed them on opposite sides of the room while you supervise. Immediately move one dog to another room if you see any signs of possessiveness.

Do your best to avoid preferential treatment; if you give one dog a treat, give the other(s) a treat from the other hand. Give each dog equal amounts of affection. In the event that the dogs get into a tussle, act like both dogs are at fault – do not correct one and not the other – expect good behavior from both. Give each dog individual training sessions and walks.

Proper introductions and a structured household with defined leadership roles will lessen the likelihood of complications now and in the future.

New Year’s Resolutions for Fido

At the beginning of every year, we make a pact with ourselves to make the next year better than the last. We pick a resolution and vow to stick to it in order to make a positive change in our life – but, what about your furry companions? Believe it or not, your pup probably has a very similar list of things that they would like to change about their lives (even if they don’t know it!), so when making your New Year’s Resolution for 2012, be sure to include one for your dog as well. By helping your pet improve their life, you may also be completing your goal as well!

Resolution #1: Learn a new skill

Dogs crave mental stimulation, and what better way to give their brain some exercise than to teach them some new commands? Is your pup pulling on leash? Jumping all over your guests? Peeing in the house? Then you will be getting a two-for-one special when you teach your dog a fun “trick” (because that is what all dog training commands basically are!) that will not only give him a way to release some mental energy, but also improve your relationship. A good mannered dog means less stress not only for you, but for Fido as well.

Resolution #2: Spend more time with friends & family

Dogs are social animals that crave companionship not only with people, but with their fellow dogs as well. Making sure that Fido has regular play dates with his doggie pals will not only tire him out, but also give him to opportunity to be a “real” dog. Keeping dogs socialized, especially from a young age, lessens the likelihood of dog-to-dog issues. Also, studies have shown that having a dog lengthens your life, so grab Fido’s favorite toy and have a ball!

Resolution #3: Get healthy

Like humans, dogs need a balanced diet and regular exercise to stay in the best shape possible and live a happy life. Take a look at the ingredients in your dog’s food and make sure that the first thing on the list is an actual protein (“byproducts” don’t count!), and cut out all but the occasional table scrap. Daily walks, runs, or fetch sessions will keep your pup in tip-top shape, give them more energy, and let them live longer lives. Keeping a healthy pet requires a little more time on your part, but your wallet will thank you when you don’t have to make quarterly visits to the vet!

Resolution #4: Help others

It is always rewarding to give back to those that are less fortunate than ourselves, and dogs feel the same way! Don’t keep those big brown eyes and sweet personality all to yourself – sign Fido up to visit your local hospital, special needs school, or assisted living facility to brighten someone’s day. Having a doggie companion while undergoing or recovering from a procedure  can serve as a distraction and make pain more bearable, or help a shy child feel confident enough to read out-loud. To your dog, giving is just as fun as receiving!

Resolution #5: Lose weight

Obesity is a growing and serious problem among dogs, just as it is with people. Overweight dogs have shorter lives, less energy, and are more prone to arthritis. Losing weight is the number one resolution among humans, so take Fido with you on your morning walk or jog and you’ll be fulfilling not one, but two goals! Getting back into shape is always easier with a partner to keep you company and occasionally drag you out of bed on those cold mornings! Getting fit with your dog will not only help your figure, but strengthen your relationship with Fido as well.

Whichever New Year’s resolution (or resolutions!) you choose, we wish you the best success! Even if your resolution isn’t on this list, we hope that your positive change in Fido’s life lasts beyond the upcoming twelve months and transforms into a healthy and happy habit. Make 2012 the year that you and Fido work not only on yourselves, but also on your bond with each other as well. Happy New Year!

How to Take Care of Your New Puppy: Part 1

He’s cute, he’s cuddly, and he’s driving you crazy! Your new puppy Fido piddles all over the house,  chews up your favorite pair of shoes, and his sharp puppy teeth scratch you whenever you play with him. Bringing home a new pup requires a major adjustment, but with the correct information and preparation you can make this adjustment period much smoother not only for you, but for your new addition as well.

The Basics – What to Buy

Make sure to purchase these must-have items in preparation for bringing your pup home.

  1. Crate – One sized to fit Fido when he’s full grown (he should have enough room to stand up and turn around in it). If you buy a smaller crate for his smaller puppy size you’ll end up having to purchase multiples to accommodate him as he grows. Also, a crate that has a divider would be preferable for potty training.
  2. Identification tags – This will be one of the most important things you purchase for you puppy; ensure that he is always able to find his way home in the event that he becomes lost. Micro-chipping Fido is also recommended in the event that his tags should be lost along with him.
  3. Collar, harness, and a leash.
  4. Bowls – One set for food and water inside the house, as well as a water bowl for outside.
  5. Dog bed
  6. Dog food – Talk with your veterinarian about Fido’s dietary needs in order to choose the most nutritionally balanced food for your pup.
  7. Pooper scooper and/or poop bags – Self explanatory.
  8. Toys – The more durable the better, dogs of all ages love to de-stuff plush toys.
  9. Grooming tools – Nail clippers and a brush are the necessities, but if you plan on grooming Fido yourself you will also need a shampoo and conditioner.
  10. A completely enclosed yard – If you have one.

You will most likely find that you will need additional supplies as you get to know your puppy and their habits, but this basic list of supplies will hold you over till you get to know each other better.

Potty Training

To ensure that your home stays relatively stain and odor free, potty training should be undertaken from the moment you bring Fido home; this is where your crate will come into play.

Puppies will not be able to control their eliminations until they are about 4 months old so you will need to be vigilant as well as patient when it comes to potty training Fido. There are two important steps to take when undertaking this task: establishing a routine and supervision.

Establishing a Routine

The number one rule of puppy potty training is simple: take Fido out as often as possible to eliminate. Generally puppies should be taken out every 1.5 to 2 hours to a designated spot of your choosing. He should also be taken out upon awakening, after eating or drinking, and after playing. While Fido is doing his business, introduce a phrase that he can learn to associate with eliminating, such as “go potty” or “do your business”.

Puppies will need to eat three meals a day and keeping them fed at consistent times each day will also keep their eliminations on a predictable schedule, making house training much easier on both of you. Also, Fido should not have continued access to water starting about 2 to 2 1/2 hours before his bedtime; this will lessen the chances that he will need to potty during the night. Put him into his crate at his bedtime and shut the door; getting Fido used to being locked in his crate might take some time getting used to but dogs are naturally den animals and his crate will eventually become a safe and comfortable place in his mind. Also, because dogs don’t like to eliminate where they sleep this will also lessen the chances that he will have an accident. In the event that your pup does need to do their business during the night, calmly escort him to the designated area, give the command, and calmly escort him back to his bed. Don’t allow him to get excited or try to play otherwise he wont go back to sleep.

Supervision

Your new puppy will need to be supervised not only for safety reasons, but so that you decrease the chances that he will go potty in your home. Either keep your puppy confined to one room or area with the use of baby gates, or tied to you with a 6 foot leash. The more area you give Fido access to, the more likely it is that he will explore outside of your sight range and have an accident. There are certain signs to look for to indicate to you that Fido needs to be taken outside: barking, scratching at the door, circling, squatting, or sniffing around excessively. When you notice these behaviors immediately take your pup outside.

When Fido does have an accident inside the house (and he will!), interrupt him in the act with a startling noise and immediately take him outside, give him your chosen command, praise him, and bring him back inside. If you happen to find a puddle but were unable to catch your pup in the act it is too late to give a correction. Scolding your puppy after the undesired action has already taken place will have no effect and could actually do more harm than good. Simply clean up the area thoroughly to ensure that Fido wont eliminate in that spot again.

Remember, your new puppy is a baby, therefore he will need consistent and constant attention to ensure that he will mature into a well-rounded part of your family. The first few months will require a lot of work on both your parts, but the end result will be well worth it!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “How to take care of your new puppy” with information on chewing and play biting management as well as the importance of training and early socialization!

Are Dog Parks Right for your Pooch?

There are many things to consider when making the decision to adopt a dog or puppy; what supplies you will need,  choosing a veterinarian, selecting a good food, and how you will socialize them. Many new and veteran dog owners immediately think  of dog parks as the perfect way to exercise and socialize their dog-but are dog parks the right choice for your pooch?

There are both advantages and disadvantages to going to a dog park, and deciding whether your pet is suited for this kind of dog-to-dog interaction should be evaluated thoroughly to ensure that this will benefit his socialization skills rather than hinder them.

Would my dog enjoy going to the dog park?

When considering taking your dog to a dog park, owners should first evaluate their dog on a few different levels, such as age,  play style, health, and their overall temperament.

Age: Puppies under 4 months of age should never go to a dog park as their immune systems are more susceptible to illness. Dogs that have reached maturity (generally around 2 years) and elderly dogs are more selective with their friends and may not be as outgoing or welcoming as they were when they were puppies. When introducing your mature dog to new friends, you should always proceed slowly and not assume that because your pooch has other doggie friends that he would appreciate being thrown into a new situation with a large number of “strangers”.

Play style: Different breeds of dogs have very different styles of playing, and you should evaluate the other dogs in the park at the time you arrive to see if your baby would fit in. For example, if the majority of the park patrons are large breed dogs that like to body slam each other (i.e., Labradors), then it may not be the best time to bring in your Australian Shepard who has a more reserved play style.

Health: Dogs who have had any communicable health issues in the past 30 days should not go to dog parks. It is always a good idea to visit your veterinarian beforehand to ensure that your dog is healthy enough to go to dog parks. Official dog parks should always have posted signs requiring that all dogs that enter the play area must be vaccinated; make sure that your pooch is up-to-date on his Rabies, Distemper/Parvo, and Bordetella shots (for more information on Canine Cough, see our post here). Dog park regulations also usually stipulate that all dogs over a certain age (usually 6 months) must be spayed or neutered to use the park, however, just because these rules are posted does not mean that all pet owners will adhere to them, keep this in mind when deciding if your pet should attend play time at the park. If you notice intact males or a dog whose health is questionable, do not use the park at that time.

Temperament: Dogs who have not been socialized should be integrated into the dog park slowly, and not at a time when there are a lot of dogs; one fight or bad experience can traumatize your dog. Remember, what we as the owner might think of as a minor event can often color your dog’s future reactions to similar situations. If you have a small breed dog, find a dog park that provides two or more separated areas, one for larger dogs and one for smaller dogs. Often times larger breeds will over power the weaker dogs thus teaching the smaller dog to be afraid of larger dogs if the owner does not step in to correct the behavior. Also, there is the risk that a smaller dog will get stepped on and injured if not properly supervised. If your dog has issues with aggression, either towards other canines or towards humans, do not take them to a dog park. Similarly, do not take your nervous/anxious dog to the dog park either, this will not help them overcome their issues, just exacerbate them. Beginning socialization in both of these instances should only be attempted with the help of a professional trainer.

Choosing the right Dog Park

So you’ve decided you want to take Fido to the dog park, which one do you choose? Picking the right dog park is as important as deciding if your dog would do well in one and the correct set up will help your dog integrate into the pack better. Always choose an area that is specifically zoned as a dog park, NOT your local field or other open space as there may be regulations against having dogs off-leash in these areas and not be fully enclosed.

Look for parks that have at least two gated entrances and that are preferably shielded from the view of the dogs that are already inside. Dog patrons will tend to gather around the entrances and can cause anxiety and a higher state of arousal in the incoming dog, creating a higher risk for an incident to break out. Do not force your dog to enter the park if they seem nervous or anxious; the other dogs will be able to pick up on their energy and try to control the situation by going after the dog whose energy is ‘off’.

Parks with a large space to run are best so that dogs who do not wish to interact with the others are not forced to due to proximity. Ponds, lakes, trees, and hillocks are good features to look for not just for the dog’s enjoyment, but also to prevent them from racing full speed towards other dogs and potentially colliding with each other. Other structures or obstacles are a plus for frightened dogs that wish to hide or keep to themselves.

Dog Park Basic Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • Clean up after your dog.
  • Supervise your dog at all times and interrupt interactions if they are inappropriate or too rough. Remember, you are responsible for your own dog’s actions, there are not dog park workers there to take care of your dog for you.
  • Exit the park if your dog is being bullied/your dog is bullying others.
  • Bring one person per dog.
  • Adhere to and respect all posted signs and regulations.
  • Move around the park; don’t separate yourself too far from your dog.

Don’t:

  • Bring toys or treats, these can cause guarding and aggression between the dogs.
  • Allow dogs to bully others.
  • Talk on your phone or form a group with the owners and ignore your dog.
  • Bring children, they can easily be knocked over and you do not know how other dogs will react to them.
  • Take advice from dog park patrons unless they are trained dog professionals.

Dog Park Alternatives

If your pet is not suited to dog parks or you are uncomfortable having them around dogs whose temperament you are unsure of but you are intent on having them socialized, then Doggie Daycare would be better fit for both you and your dog. While doggie daycare is not free, the peace of mind owners receive from knowing that their pet is being supervised by trained professionals and is playing with dogs who have been pre-approved and temperament tested in order to be in a group setting makes up for the financial cost. Another advantage to doggie daycare is knowing that the facility has requirements for health, vaccinations, and spaying or neutering that all the dogs must adhere to in order to be allowed in the door. However, just like choosing a dog park, you must do your due diligence and choose the pet care facility that adheres to the highest standards of cleanliness, care, and safety.