5 Turkey Tips for Thanksgiving

roast-turkeyThoughts of roast turkey starts most of us (non-vegetarians) salivating, so you can understand why the smell of roast turkey makes our dogs so excited.

When we’re roasting chicken Zoe sits in the kitchen her eyes glued to the oven door for a couple of hours – you can see her willing the chicken out of the oven!

The sad thing is, if she did get her teeth stuck into the chicken, she could be a very sick dog.
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There’s More to 4th of July Celebrations than Fireworks – are you protecting your dog from these hazards too?

A black labrador dog is decorated for a Fourth of July PicnicAt this time of year numerous articles are published about keeping your dog safe from fireworks during [tag-tec]4th of July celebrations[/tag-tec] – but there are other hazards to be aware of too, and these can be just as deadly to your dog as fireworks.

Here are my tips for having a safe 4th of July celebration with your dog:

  • Do not leave alcoholic drinks unattended – alcohol can poison your dog and depending on the amount consumed can cause vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, tremors, coma and even death;

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Car Safety – how to stop your dog becoming a baby elephant

dog-looking-out-of-windowI read in the news this week that a dog caused an SUV to roll.

Apparently the dog was loose in the car and knocked his owner’s elbow causing her to swerve, and the car rolled twice as she tried to correct the swerve.

Letting your dog travel in a car unrestrained is not the behavior of a [tag-tec]responsible dog owner[/tag-tec].

When will people learn?
Loose dogs in a car = a danger to themselves, others in the car and all other road users.

If you have a small dog lying on the rear passenger shelf and need to brake suddenly, your dog becomes a lethal missile – in a 30 mph collision your dog will exert a force 20 times his body weight.

Being hit by a larger dog, such as a Labrador, that has been propelled from the back of the car is similar to being hit by a baby elephant – a sobering thought.

I can’t remember the statistics, but tests in the UK showed that most front seat passengers would have survived a car crash had they not been hit by rear seat passengers thrown forward because they weren’t wearing seat belts.

Here are some tips for keeping your dog – and you – safe in the car:

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How to Puppy Proof Your Home

Beagly puppy dog chewing on a big walking bootPuppies are naturally very inquisitive and, combined with a huge amount of energy, can get themselves into trouble and/or cause a great deal of destruction in a very short space of time.

To keep your puppy safe, and help you retain your sanity in the first few weeks after you bring him home, it pays to spend some time ‘puppy proofing’ your home prior to his arrival.

It doesn’t take too long to do and the best way to do it is by looking at your house through the eyes of a puppy. Try getting low down on the floor and looking around you, pretend you are in the house for the first time – you’ll notice lots of interesting things to investigate, and many could cause serious injury, or prove fatal, if your puppy gets hold of them and starts chewing.

Here is a list of some of the common indoor hazards your puppy could encounter on a daily basis and many of them apply to a dog of any age:

  • Check to see if you have any houseplants that are known to be toxic to dogs; if you do, either replace them or put them somewhere where your puppy either can’t reach them or pull them down from the place you’ve put them.
    Some of the more common poisonous plants are azalea, lilies, ivy and begonias;
  • Electrical cords can prove fatal if they are chewed – run any visible cables under the carpet, tidy up and conceal surplus wire behind furniture where possible and consider using plastic cable covers or plastic tubing to cover any exposed cables;
  • Small objects left lying around can cause all sorts of problems such as choking, poisoning and intestinal blockages – children’s Lego, sewing kits, yarn, pencils, pens, items of clothing are all items you need to be aware of and tidy away;
  • Many medications, cleaning products, human food and tobacco products can be toxic to dogs. Keep medicines and cleaning products shut away in cupboards or on high shelves. Ensure food and tobacco products (cigarettes, tobacco, nicotine patches and gum) are also well out of reach. Do not underestimate your puppy’s ability to jump up and take things off low tables and shelves;
  • All types of fires can be dangerous, so fence your puppy off from them with a baby gate or fire guard;
  • Trash cans are another potential hazard and I suggest you either put them in a cupboard or buy a strong fitting lid for them. I had to brick on top of my trash can to stop Zoe rummaging around in there! and
  • Keep toilet lids down and don’t leave bathtubs and sinks full of water – all are potential drowning hazards for your dog.

More generally, when inside with your puppy:

  • Do not leave leave your puppy in a room un-supervized; if your attention is needed elsewhere, it’s a good idea to put him in a small playpen with a few safe toys to play with;
  • When he’s in a room with you, keep windows and doors shut, or closed off with a screen or gate, so he can’t wander off and get himself into trouble in another room of the house or outside;
  • Close off stairwells, porches and raised decks with a screen or gates.

I still keep most of the items listed above out of the way of Fritz and Zoe because it’s become a habit – the house looks a great deal tidier too!

Xylitol – the sweetener that’s poisoning our dogs

emergency-first-aidThe mass pet food recall in the United States is focusing our minds on what we are feeding our dogs, and I for one am looking hard at all food labels before giving any food to Fritz and Zoe.

I read today that Xylitol a sweetener found in many chewing gums, candies and baked goods is extremely [tag-tec]poisonous to dogs[/tag-tec].

The ASPCA has reported that it is treating an increasing numbers of dogs that have eaten products containing the artificial sweetener. Xylitol is a relatively new, but increasingly popular, product to the US marketplace and knowledge of the effects it has on dogs is increasing all the time.

Like [tag-tec]chocolate[/tag-tec], products containing Xylitol can have a sweet smell that dogs find attractive, and given their tendency to rummage and gobble, it only takes a packet of chewing gum left in an open bag for your dog to eat it and become very ill.

Two or three sticks of chewing gum containing Xylitol can prove toxic for a 20 pound dog.

Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning

Within 30 minutes of ingesting Xylitol your dog can become very seriously ill; however the symptoms can take 12 hours to emerge if only a small quantity has been consumed.

Xylitol causes a very quick drop in your dog’s blood sugar level and typically he will start vomiting, which can be followed by a loss of co-ordination (he’ll tend to stagger around), lethargy, collapse and seizures.

If you think your dog has eaten a product containing Xylitol, take him to your vet immediately – this product can prove fatal in a very short space of time if not treated.

Some common products that are known to contain Xylitol include:

  • Jell-O puddings
  • Trident sugar free chewing gum
  • Altoid mints
  • Some brands of toothpaste, nicotine gum and vitamins and dietary supplements.
Read all food labels carefully; your dog is most at risk if it eats a product that has Xylitol listed as the first ingredient.
      Artificial sweeteners

that don’t contain

    Xylitol include: Splenda, Nutrasweet and Sweet N’ Low

Dog Bites on the Increase – and 8 ways to reduce the risk it’s your dog doing the biting

dog-teethA scan of this week’s papers show that the reported incidences of dog bites is on the increase.

This is a seasonal trend and reflects the facts that people are spending more time outside as the weather warms up, and that female dogs tend to come into season in Spring thereby increasing the number of dogs roaming loose in search of a mate.

As dog owners it’s our responsibility to keep our dogs under control and instil good behavior when they are young to reduce the risk of them biting people in the future.

If your dog does bite someone then its future could be in jeopardy. You will run the risk of facing a costly lawsuit, your dog being required to be muzzled and leashed in public or, at worse, having to euthanize your dog.

Here are 8 ways to reduce the risk of your dog biting someone:

  1. Neuter or spay your dog – the Humane Society of the United States reports that a dog that has been spayed or neutered is 3 times less likely to bite;
  2. Socialize your dog when he is young, and keep on exposing him to new sounds, people and environments throughout his life. A well socialized dog will be confident whatever the environment he is placed in and will be less likely to bite through fear and nervousness;
  3. Do not teach your dog ‘tug of war’ or ‘play wrestle’ with him; these games teach your dog that aggressive play is acceptable – it’s not;
  4. Enrol you and your dog in obedience classes. Not only will you learn how to handle your dog but it will establish you as the leader in your dog’s mind;
  5. Supervise all interaction between your dog and children. Things can happen very quickly when children are around dogs – an ear or tail pulled or teasing with a toy can quickly escalate into a dog biting/nipping through frustration;
  6. Don’t put your dog into a situation where he could feel threatened or overwhelmed with the number and/or proximity of people. An example is if you are having a party at home – in such a situation it’s best to put your dog on his own in a quiet room where he won’t be disturbed;
  7. When you are out in public keep your dog on a leash or under control at all times.
  8. If your dog is outside in your yard, make sure the yard is properly fenced and visitors/passers-by can’t lean over and try and pat or tease your dog.

Chocolate Toxicity – how much chocolate can your dog eat?

chocolate-easter-eggI don’t know about you, but I tend to over-indulge in chocolate at Easter, but apart from feeling guilty about eating so much, thankfully I don’t suffer any long term consequences. Unfortunately the same may not be true for your dog if he gets stuck into your Easter eggs. [tag-tec] Dog poisoning [/tag-tec] from the ingestion chocolate accounts for many trips to the vet this time of year.

Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine – a natural stimulant found in cocoa beans. Dogs love the flavor of theobromine and even the tiniest taste of chocolate will leave them craving for more, but in large doses chocolate can be fatal.

So how much chocolate is too much? If your dog happens to eat one or two M&Ms then you don’t need to dash off to the vet, but the taste will leave him addicted to chocolate and he’ll take every opportunity to have another taste in the future.

Chocolate toxicity will depend on the type and amount of chocolate eaten, the weight of your dog as well as his age and general health.

White chocolate contains the least amount of theobromine and baking chocolate the most. As a rule of thumb:

  • White chocolate – signs of toxicity can occur when 45 ounces per pound of body weight is eaten; so a 10 pound dog such as a Yorkshire Terrier would need to eat approximately 28 pounds of white chocolate before the chocolate was toxic!
  • Milk Chocolate – signs of toxicity can occur when 1 ounce per pound of body weight is eaten, so our 10 pound Yorkshire Terrier would only need to eat half a pound of chocolate before he became ill.
  • Sweet Cocoa (includes instant cocoa) – only one third of an ounce of chocolate per pound of body weight is needed before symptoms of toxicity would show. Using the Yorkshire Terrier as an example again, that’s just three ounces, or an average chocolate bar.
  • Baking Chocolate – this has the highest incidence of theobromine and just one tenth of an ounce per pound of body weight is enough to be toxic. Our Yorkshire Terrier would be showing signs of poisoning if he ate just one ounce of baking chocolate.

Theobromine affects the central nervous system and when taken in toxic amounts can lead to the following symptoms – hyper activity, restlessness, panting, increased urination, diarrhoea and, in extreme cases, seizures.

If you suspect your dog has eaten a large amount of chocolate then contact your vet immediately. Treatment will usually involve fluid replacement, sedatives and medication to reduce heart rate and blood pressure if the poisoning is severe. Thankfully, most dogs recover within 48 hours of treatment.

So please keep your dog safe this Easter and don’t let him have the taste of chocolate, it could be a fatal mistake.