Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Beat the Heat!

     A definite hot button topic in the media these days is the safety of animals in the heat. The news and social media are littered with stories of pets dying in the heat.
     Half a century ago most people kept their dogs outside. Dogs lived in backyards or freely roamed neighborhoods. However, over the years our pets have come inside to live, becoming valued members of our family. Because of this, dogs are no longer acclimated to extremes in outside temperatures.
     As a pet owner there are some things you should know about the heat. Smush face breeds like bulldogs and pugs are less tolerant of the heat than other breeds. Dogs trained for sport-hunting field trials must be conditioned for the weather. Anytime the temperature is above 85 degrees, dogs should only be allowed out for 30 - 45 minutes at a time with supervision to make sure they don't get too hot. Dogs don't sweat, which means they can't regulate their body temperature. Leaving a dog in a hot car can cause brain damage in as little as eight minutes.
     What should you do?
     Pet owners are responsible for keeping their dogs safe during the heat of summer. Provide plenty of shade for outside dogs such as trees, a covered porch, or shade cloth over a dog run. Doghouses are not a good option as they trap heat. Make sure your dog has plenty of water 24 hours a day. Leave a kiddie pool with cool water for your dog to take a dip. If traveling with your dog, bring along water and a bowl. Never leave your dog in a hot car. You can also put frozen water bottles in your dog's crate to keep him cool during a trip. Avoid strenuous exercises on hot days, and take walks in the early mornings or late evenings. Finally, be aware that asphalt heats up quickly in hot weather. A good rule of thumb is to place your hand on the street or sidewalk. If it is too hot for you to leave your hand there for three minutes, then it's hot enough to burn the pads of your dog's paws.
     Every pet owner wants to keep their dog safe and healthy. Using common sense and following suggested guidelines will allow pet owners to enjoy dogs with long, healthy lives.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Bone to Pick

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday in my favorite season of the year--Hunting Season. I love the crisp cool autumn mornings, the rich reds, golds and browns of the trees, the migrating birds creating patterns in the sky and Thanksgiving Dinner--always a feast at my mother-in-law's home with family and food everywhere.

Then. . . there are the leftovers.  Most of us enjoy sharing this fare with our pups.  While some dogs are able to process a different diet, others cannot, often resulting in discomfort like an upset stomach and diarrhea.  Natural foods such as lean meats and raw or cooked vegetables are great "extras" for holiday treats.  Starchy, spicy or sugary foods are just not good for them.    

There is also the question of bones.  Think about the natural diet of the canine species.  In the wild canines devoured most of their "kill," including bones.  Their digestive system is designed differently from ours with a shorter digestive tract and stronger stomach acid.  Uncooked bones can provide calcium and minerals such as collagen from the bone marrow.  Gnawing raw bones also helps to break down plaque and stimulate blood flow to the gums for better dental health.  However, bones that have been cooked, as in the Thanksgiving turkey, should  NEVER  be given to your dog.  These may splinter causing punctures in the esophagus and choking.

So using common sense, share special treats with your pups at holiday time.  Just avoid those that will cause digestive distress.

All of us at Five Oaks Retreat wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Too Hot for Comfort

Last weekend Debbie and I went to dinner at Sopapillas, a neat restaurant that recently open at Indian Lake in Hendersonville.  Afterward as we were walking back to our car we saw a very disturbing thing.  There was a dog left in a parked vehicle on the quad.  Yes, the windows were down a couple of inches BUT, even though it was evening--about 6:30, the temperature was still in the 80's.  Now, hopefully, the owner had run into a nearby shop for just a minute.  We did alert a police officer standing in the area who went to check on the pup. Yet this was a sharp reminder of the dangers that heat can pose to our pets at this time of year.

Summer officially began last Friday, June 21st, and the temps have been in the 90's all week--an indication of the sultry heat that the South can bring to the season.  As pet owners we need to be sensitive to our pets' needs.  Summer months can be brutal to our dogs.  All are susceptible to overheating.  The sun can make the inside of a car unbearable or deadly even in the winter.  Heat radiates through the glass and raises the temperature in a small area very quickly.  Imagine you being in a car wearing a fur coat!  Use common sense--leave your dogs ar home in the cool if you will exit the car even for a few minutes.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Let's Talk Bonding and Socialization

First- Are bonding and socialization the same?  I guess not!  Experts telll us that bonding, in it's simpliest terms, is the "attachment, interaction and caring between a dog and his owner."  This bonding makes him more readily trainable.  It helps the pup to understand his place in the pack.  The bond is established by petting, handling, feeding and other attention that the pup receives from his owner.   Experts feel that the period from forty nine to eighty four days is the best time to form the human - dog bond.  This bond becomes even stronger with the one on one time spent in training.  Dogs that are raised outside or in a kennel without the benefit of much human interaction will most likely become fearful and standoffish.

On the flip side, socialization requires taking the pup outside the home to other locations.  Thus he is able to experience some of the freedoms and pitfalls that he might encounter in his life.  The only way we can achieve a well rounded dog that is confident and secure is to introduce him to as many situations as possible.  Once he has finished all of his puppy shots, he is ready to meet the outside world.  This exposure should include other dogs and people as well as different environments.  If he is not allowed interaction with other dogs, he may become fearful or aggressive around them.  Also overly protected  dogs with owners that are overly affectionate may grow to be apprehensive, fearful and nervous--lacking self confidence.  Remember,  BALANCE  is important.

Anyone who knows me has heard me preach many times:  bonding and socialization may be the most important activities that you engage in with your pup.  You are helping him to grow into a confident adult but it is also an important time for you and your pup to get to know each other. 

Have Fun -------------- Be Patient

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Training Dogs . . . Educating Families

During the fifty years that I have been in the dog business I have been asked lots of questions by clients, friends and family about all kinds of "doggie" issues.  Some are about behavioral problems, certainly, but many are just general dog knowledge questions.  So . . .in this weekly blog I will share my thoughts, ideas and experiences of "all things dog."

The reasons we train our dogs have many facets.  However I will assure you that without training, your dog will never meet his full potential nor will the family get the full benefit from dog ownership.  Training enhances the bond between you and your dog.  It serves as the foundation for setting boundaries and solving problems.  Training allows you and your dog to establish communication.  By learning to communicate you provide a structure in the home where the pup knows what is expected of him and what he can expect from you.  As you learn to "read" your dog, that is understand his body language, you will develop a long rewarding relationship.

PLEASE----Find a trainer that will work with you and your family and follow through with consistency.  It is a small price to pay for the many years of enjoyment you will experience.