Fit’n’Furry’s Canine Summer Safety Tips

Keeping your canine companion cool during these hot summer months is crucial to your pet’s health.  Dogs are very susceptible to dehydration and heat exhaustion, especially those “short-faced” breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs because of their vulnerable breathing ability. A canine’s only way of releasing heat is through the bottoms of their paws, where the sweat glands are located, and by panting. Even with these unique cooling systems, when temperatures climb, your pet may become overwhelmed, especially in humid conditions.

So what happens when dogs get too hot? The most common result is heatstroke. Symptoms of canine heatstroke can include an increase in heart rate, labored breathing, purplish gum color, weakness resulting in collapsing, and even seizures, coma, or sudden death can be an onset of heatstroke. Most cases involving canine heatstroke are a result of confinement to a non-ventilated area, such as a car. Temperatures inside a vehicle even with the windows rolled down can rise to above 120 degrees.

Heatstroke can also occur due to over-activity on hot days. The excitement of chasing a ball or a Frisbee outweighs everything else in a dog mind. Your dog may not know when it’s time to stop playing and take a break, so be aware of your dog’s activity and breathing.

Also keep in mind that you are wearing shoes to protect your feet from the hot surfaces on the ground but your pooch isn’t and the severe heat of pavement or sand on a hot summer day can be very damaging to their little pads. Most pet stores or boutiques will carry adjustable dog booties that come in different sizes to protect your dog’s paws. Dr. Nancy Kay, author of Speaking for Spot, suggests going for walks in the early morning or evening hours when temperatures are generally cooler.

Another suggestion Martha Stewart makes is putting Vaseline on the pads of your pooch to reduce its heat level.

Summertime and playtime go hand-in-hand for both humans and their beloved furry pals. We especially want to take them everywhere with us on our exciting adventures, but be advised that the best place for your pet is indoors. You may want to consider taking your canine companion to an indoor doggie play area where temperatures are controlled and your dog can be monitored. This would provide your pet with some fun exercise without getting overheated or burning their paws.

Be sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh, cool water throughout the day and is kept in a cool area, preferably in an air-conditioned home or facility. Sunscreen is also important for our furry friends, especially dogs with white noses and/or markings. When slathering on the sunscreen, be sure to put some on those white spots of your pooch.

Here’s to a cool, comfortable, fun-for-all canine summer!

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FitnFurry’s Guide to Common Pet Allergies

Just like humans, dogs and cats have immune systems to protect them from foreign substances. But also like in humans, animals can have allergic reactions to these foreign substances. For example: your pet may react to certain pollens, dust, an ingredient in its food, household chemicals, grooming products, and insect bites. These reactions can have a range of different effects, including itchy, swollen skin, difficulty breathing, or a disruption of the digestive tract, such as: vomiting or diarrhea.

Pets that experience these types of allergic symptoms are often pretty miserable. Allergies are chronic and can cause life-long problems for pets and pet owners. The good news is that they can be managed with the proper diagnosis and monitoring.

The first step is to determine what it is that your pet is allergic to, so as to avoid your pets contact with that allergen. Pet allergies generally fall under one of four main categories:

Contact allergies occur when your pet’s skin comes in contact with a certain material or substance it’s allergic to. Animals with skin allergies most commonly will have reactions to many types of shampoos and flea collars. The skin at the point of contact will be irritated, it may itch, become swollen or discolored, give off a strong odor, and/or loss of hair due to constant biting/scratching. Contact allergies are generally not a hard problem to solve since they’re usually confined to a specific area of your pet’s body. You can experiment by removing different materials that your pet touches or discontinue the use of grooming products until you find the one that irritates its skin. Also, many groomers often offer hypoallergenic shampoos and gentle treatments for sensitive pets.

Food allergies and food intolerance are very separate issues and knowing which you are dealing with is the first step. A pet with an intolerance to a particular food type/brand will typically experience vomiting and/or diarrhea. Pets with a food allergy generally experience skin irritations, digestive disorders, respiratory issues, and/or infections of the ear canal. Most animals are not born with allergies to food; their immune systems develop an allergic response over time to some part of their diet. This problem can arise anytime in a pet’s life, but usually occurs between 2 and 6 years of age. Even pets that have been on the same diet for a long period of time can develop an allergy to that same food. Most often the pet is allergic to a specific ingredient in the food, which can be a challenge to solve. The most common food ingredients which pets are allergic to are: beef, chicken, fish, eggs, soy, wheat, corn, and/or milk.

Once you’ve determined your pet has an allergy, you can begin the process of elimination to isolate the specific ingredient causing the reaction. This can be a long process and requires strict monitoring of your pets diet, which means no treats, vitamins, leftovers/scraps, or even plants around the house. Allergic effects of food can stay in the pets system for 8 weeks or more, so you may have to keep your pet on a special diet for up to 12 weeks to see how he/she reacts, and you may have to do this several times with several different diets before you find the one that doesn’t cause an allergic reaction.

Inhalant allergies in pets are very similar to those we humans experience. Like us, animals can be allergic to the pollen and mold in the outside air (hay fever), and dust mites, mildew, and mold that can be found indoors. These types of allergens can cause severe itching of the ears, feet, groin, and armpits of the animal, but can also be spread across the entire body. Hairless, irritated “hot spots,” caused by excessive chewing and scratching of the affected skin can also occur. Most pets with allergies to airborne particles are usually allergic to more than one. You may also find that your pet’s allergies are seasonal, for example: he/she experiences itchiness only during high-pollen seasons, like humans with hay fever. In this case you can limit your pet’s outdoor activity time during theses seasons. There are many facilities that offer indoor play areas where your pet can stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter and at the same time avoid certain allergens. Now, if your pet is suffering from an indoor allergen, or an allergen that doesn’t vary by season, there’s very little you can do to isolate him/her from that specific allergen, though you may consider an air purifier to provide some relief in the home.

Flea allergies are probably the most common problem for pets, and they aren’t actually allergic to fleas themselves, but to the proteins found in their saliva when they bite. Affected pets can itch severely from a single bite for over 5 days. If you suspect your pet has fleas try frequent baths and/or administering prescription flea applications/pills. Many professional groomers will offer flea and/or tick treatments to assist you in the removal process. We recommend consulting your veterinarian once you’ve chosen a flea repellent, so as not to cause anymore harmful reactions. You will also want to treat your pet’s environment, including bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpet. Eliminating fleas can be a tedious process and may require several treatments for your pet and home. When treating the home, we recommend having alternate accommodations for your pets so that they are not exposed to the harsh chemicals found in home treatments.

In some cases, pet owners may become frustrated by not being able to determine exactly what is causing their pet’s allergic reaction. This is when you and your veterinarian should work together. Your veterinarian may be able to conduct blood work and/or intradermal (scratch) tests to better determine what it is that your pet is allergic to and then recommend possible treatments, or combination of treatments to alleviate your pet’s symptoms.

Treatment of your pet’s allergies will require a lot of patience and determination, but rest assured, with the time and effort, you can help your uncomfortable pet start to feel comfortable again!

Kennel Cough – The Common Doggie Cold

dogcoughing1Everyone has heard of K-9 Cough or Kennel Cough, and some of us have first hand experience with it. It is equivalent to a human catching a cough or common cold that is going around. If your dog comes down with K-9 Cough he will start coughing, but his general health will remain the same he won’t loose his appetite, have a temperature, or feel lethargic. His incessant coughing will be annoying to both you and him, but life threatening cases of this infection are extremely rare, and dogs will often recover on their own in 7-21 days without any type of treatment. It is a good idea to take your dog to the vet for treatment just to be safe, and the veterinarian will prescribe cough suppressants or antibiotics. K-9 Cough is transmitted by a virus expelled from an infected dog. This virus can be airborne, or anywhere that an infected dog has been; say in a common water dish at the dog park. Just like humans have a higher chance of catching a cold in an enclosed and heavily populated environment like an airplane, elevator, or an office, dogs have a higher chance of catching a K-9 Cough in an enclosed area that is not well ventilated. Many dogs can be carriers without exhibiting symptoms themselves and a dog may carry the virus for several days after they have fully recovered. Just like in humans some dogs are especially susceptible to the virus whereas others seems to have a higher level of immunity to it. A dog may catch K-9 Cough from a Champion show dog at a show, from the dog down the street, or from the Vet’s office. Because it is often refereed to as Kennel Cough people associate K-9 Cough with a kennel. Though dogs can catch K-9 Cough in a kennel, it is often not the source of the infection. No matter how well ventilated, spacious, and hygienic the kennel is, there is still a possibility a dog may develop K-9 Cough. In many cases the cough will simply run its course and the dog will recover. In some cases it will persist and a veterinarian will prescribe an antibiotic to assist the dogs immune system. The best method of prevention is to vaccinate the dog twice a year with the Bordetella Vaccine. This will HELP prevent K-9 cough. The Bordetella vaccine acts much like the Flu vaccine in humans. It will minimize the risk of infection but will not completely prevent it. Also, you should be aware that once your dog has received this vaccine he may carry the symptoms and either pass the illness or contract it himself simply by being vaccinated. Really the bottom line is that your dog could pick up this common doggy cold anywhere, and although it’s no fun it’s not a big deal.

Mew Years!

You have your New Years resolutions and your pets have theirs.  As you start the year you should keep track of who is more S0071-14successful you or your pet at conquering those resolutions.

~I don’t need to suddenly stand up while lying under the coffee table.
~I don’t need to go through the trash while my parents are out.
~I will remember the Trash Collector is not stealing!
~I will remember the Mail Man is a nice man, oh and he doesn’t taste good.
~My head doesn’t belong in the refrigerator.
~I will no longer be beholden to the sound of the can opener.
~I will grow opposable thumbs!
~I will start feeding myself and decide for myself how much is TOO MUCH!
~January 1st: Kill the sock! Must kill the sock!
~January 2nd to December 31st: Re-live victory over the sock.
~I will remember the sofa is not a scratching post, no matter how tempting.

Clicker Training – From Dolphins to Dogs

Click to Communicate!
Unfortunately dogs don’t speak English, however the clicker provides you with a clear and simple form or communication with your pooch.

This method of training was first developed to train dolphins. The trainers needed to devise a way of rewarding them for doing the desired behavior. If the dolphin jumped through a hoop and then had to swim back to the trainer for his fish reward he wasn’t quite sure what he had done right. The trainers began using a high pitched whistle that the animal could hear even under the water, then they ‘loaded’ the whistle (feeding the dolphin whenever the whistle was blown) thus the dolphin associated the sound with the reward. When he jumped through the hoop he heard the whistle and knew that was the behavior that was wanted and that a fish was coming. This wonderful method has been used to train all types of animals but works particularly well with dogs, the only difference is instead of a whistle they use a clicker. This method is actually a conditioned response or ‘operant conditioning’ which is when an animal intentionally performs an action for the desired outcome, namely a treat. This actually employs the animal to act with purpose instead of just habit. Any behavior can be taught using these steps: get the behavior, mark the behavior, reward the behavior. This method can be used for basic obedience or for more advanced training.

Think about it: if you had to go to work every day and never got paid, most likely you wouldn’t last long, but you get up every morning and work hard because you know that you are getting some form of compensation. So, let’s not forget to pay our dogs for a job well done; come and learn the steps behind getting this method to work for you.

707.769.PETS or 707.769.7387

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Call Fit’N’Furry today to find out more about our Clicker Training Classes and when they start.

Is DUPSTER DIVING Your Dog’s New Hobby?

Who ME?

I don’t know about your dog but mine has taken a liking to going through the trash, just to make sure I haven’t thrown something tasty away. He never does it while I am home, but if I leave him for a few minuets and don’t make sure to put the trash out I am certain to walk in on a MESS. I do my best to remember to put the trash out so that it won’t be a temptation, however I don’t want to know he is waiting for his moment either. So, I learned a trick! I set up a little trap, first I got a bunch of empty soda cans and a cookie sheet, then I balanced the sheet on top of the trash can with the cans on the sheet. I made sure there were some very tempting and smelly items in the trash and then I stepped out for a little walk. I didn’t go far, I just waited until I heard the clatter, so I made sure to get back in case he had the chance to get something juicy out of the trash. When I returned the cans were all over the floor and my dog was as far away from the trash can as he could be. I think I made my point! He is very careful about approaching the trash can now and generally cuts it a wide berth. The best part is that he is convinced the trash can made the noise, not me so I know he will think twice about dumpster diving whether I am there or not.

Bay Area Pet Fair and Adoptathon

petfair Come join Fit ‘N’ Furry on Sept. 6 & 7 at the Bay Area Pet Fair and Adoptathon at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael. We will be manning a booth and supporting this great cause, please stop by and say hello, you can even bring your pooch!

This is the third annual Bay Area Pet Fair and we always have so much fun. There will be plenty of entertainment for all ages and lots of great booths with plenty of treats and fun dog-related items. The San Francisco Police Department will be showing off its K-9 unit and the Muttley Crew will be there to wow us with their agility performing dogs most of which are rescues.

Bring your friends, the kids AND the dog to the largest celebration of pets in the Bay Area!