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Dog Anxiety from Thunder or Fireworks?

thunderWith July 4th right around the corner, you might be worried about how your best friend will do with all the firework sounds.

Hurricane season has also started and we’ve already experienced some lightning and thunder which can be scary for your dog too!

Dog anxiety is always worrisome for a pet parent. Clearly you want to appease your dog, but often they will just hide and shake. Many dogs flee, which is why July 4th is the #1 day in which pets get lost and end up in shelters.
Dog anxiety

What can you do to help out your dog during July 4th and Hurricane Season?

1. Keep your dog inside during fireworks or thunderstorms, preferably with human companionship.
2. Provide a safe place inside for your dog to retreat. When scared of sounds, dogs often prefer small enclosed areas. We highly recommend using a crate (see our article on the Dog Crate) and perhaps putting a blanket over the crate.
3. Ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day – a tired dog is a happy dog.
4. Keep the windows and curtains closed.
5. Make sure your dog is wearing ID tags with a properly fitting collar. They should also be micro-chipped just in case they are lost and brought to a shelter.
6. Distract your dog by giving him a bully stick to chew on or an interactive food toy (see our article on Treat Dispenser Toys).

Thundershirt camo

Thundershirt in Camo

Try Out the ThunderShirt – a medicine free solution!

If you haven’t tried one before, we recommend trying a ThunderShirt to help your dog with anxiety.

How does ThunderShirt work? Pet experts believe that pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system, possibly by releasing a calming hormone like endorphins. The ThunderShirt’s gentle, constant pressure relaxes most dogs if they are anxious, fearful or overexcited. Just to be clear, this does not mean you can hug your dog and get the same results – a hug from a shirt/wrap is different from a hug from a person.

ThunderShirt has conducted surveys on over 2,000 customers and over 80% of dogs showed significant improvement in symptoms when using a ThunderShirt.

ThunderShirt comes in a variety of colors, so even if your dog is anxious, he can now be extra stylish in a ThunderShirt. We love the new camo / orange color for our male dog!

Hot Weather Tips for Your Dog

summer dog

It’s great to spend time with your dog outside. Just remember to take some simple precautions to help prevent your dog from overheating during the hot weather. Here are our Hot Weather Tips for Your Dog:

Hydrate

Make sure to bring water with you – not just for yourself, but also for your dog. Check out these water bottles for dogs.

Shade

Look for a shady place for your dog so they can get out of the sun and cool down.
water bottle

Street Smarts

When the temperature is high, don’t let your dog walk on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your dog’s body can heat up quickly, and its sensitive paw pads can burn.

Not sure if it’s hot? Well if it’s too hot for your foot, it’s probably too hot for your dogs. Press the back of your hand firmly against the asphalt for 7 seconds to verify it will be comfortable for your dog. The last thing anyone wants is for your dog to burn his paws.

ruffwear cooling coat

cooling coat

If you live in an area where the ground is always scorching hot, consider getting your dog some dog booties for hot weather.

Exercise

Try to exercise dogs in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are lower. If your dog quickly overheats, you might want to try out a cooling coat.

Water Activities

Dogs, like people, often love to get wet when it’s hot outside. Make sure to introduce your dog to water gradually and don’t leave them unsupervised around a pool as not all dogs are good swimmers and they should not drink pool water, which can be toxic.

Summer dogDogs should wear a flotation device when on boats (just like us humans do). Never take your dog to the beach unless you can provide a shaded spot and plenty of fresh water for them to drink. Consider having your dog wear doggles to protect their eyes.

Remember to rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from their coat.

Sunscreen

sunscreen for dogsSunburn is a hazard for pets who spend time outdoors. Use a pet-safe sunscreen to protect your dog from the sun’s harming rays, which can cause skin cancer especially of the ears and nose. Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog – the layers of dogs coats can protect them from sunburn.

Warning Signs

If you find your dog excessively panting or just not wanting to exercise or walk as they normally would, your dog might be overheating. Try to get them out of the sun and preferably in an air conditioned room asap.

Don’t Leave Your Dog in the Car!!!

NEVER leave your animals (or children) alone in a parked vehicle. A parked car can become an oven and easily lead to fatal heat stroke for pets and children. Please keep them at home if you can’t bring them with you.

Now that you have the tips – go outside with your best friend and enjoy a great, safe summer!

How to Help your Dog with Mosquitoes

“Dear Dogsized, My father’s border collie is constantly harassed by mosquitoes. Are there any dog-safe products for Charlie? – Kiku”

dog-mosquitoMosquitoes are definitely a problem for dogs! Not only do mosquitoes harass and bite dogs (as they do humans), mosquito bites can result in everything from an annoying itch to more serious parasitic diseases. Mosquito bites are also a primary cause of heartworm in dogs. If your dog has more hair (e.g. a chow) then they have more natural protection than say a bit bull or “bully” breeds. Regardless, those areas that show more skin e.g. nose, ears, eyelids, abdomen, groin and inside the legs are more prone to getting mosquito bites (and can also get sunburn).

There are plenty of things you can try to change in your environment to reduce the amount of mosquitoes, for example, avoiding stagnant water, using products containing oil of sandalwood or citronella and staying inside, especially in the early morning and early evening, when mosquitoes are most active.

Mosquito Repellent for Dogs

flys offTo protect your dog, do NOT use human mosquito repellents containing DEET on dogs. Instead, look for repellents formulated especially for pets that contain either permethrins or pyrethrins. Here are some dog mosquito repellent products for your dog to try:
Flys Off Spray
Flys-Off Fly Repellent Ointment
Pet Naturals of Vermont Protect Flea & Tick Repellent Spray
All Terrain Natural Pet Herbal Armor Insect Repellent Spray
Even if you use a mosquito repellent, make sure your dog is taking a heartworm preventative, such as Heartgard Plus, and also a topical treatment and prevention of ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, biting flies, and lice, such as K9 Advantix II.(see also our article on Advantix vs Frontline).

Mosquito Bite Treatment

Luckily there are some solutions to help your dog if he does get bitten. Treat bites with an antibacterial cream (e.g. Neosporin) to keep them from becoming infected. To help with the itchiness, you might also want to try Sulfodene or a Pet Hydrocortizone (Zymox).
Please see your veterinarian if the bites appear very large (i.e. possibly something in it) or if they do not heal or appear to be getting worse.

Dematting Your Dog

dematting

Many dogs have the issue of getting their hair or fur tangled. This is especially true for non-shedding dogs, e.g. Havanese, Maltese, Shih Tsu and some Terrier breeds. If it doesn’t get brushed regularly, this can result in mats. So what should you do when you realize your dog’s fur is matted?

First thing to do is assess how badly your dog’s fur is matted. Also consider the weather/season is outside. Perhaps it’s winter and you’d rather keep your dog’s hair longer for protection from the elements or if it’s summer you and your dog might be better off to take him to the groomer to have a short haircut and groom.

If you think this is something you could tackle and your dog can handle, then here are our tips and suggestions:

1. Realize it will probably take a few sessions or days to properly demat your dog’s coat. We do not recommend you try to do it all in one session. Of course your groomer will do it in one session, but that probably explains why my dog hates going to the groomer. To keep the peace with your dog, I would break up the grooming sessions.

Dematting Comb

Dematting Comb

2. Make sure you have the right tools. We recommend a dematting comb, a regular dog brush, a slicker brush and a comb (e.g. Fine/Coarse Steel Greyhound Comb). I use these various tools on my dog (a Havanese). You might also consider getting some detangling spray made for dogs.

3. Make sure you have the right treats. Some dogs are more sensitive than others. Some dogs enjoy getting groomed and others don’t. Regardless, dematting can hurt the dog at times – we’ll show you how to avoid it, but it can happen. So we recommend that you have your dog’s favorite treats on hand so you can reward him through the process.

Greyhound Comb

Greyhound Comb

4. Determine where you are going to groom your dog. I would recommend a place where your dog is comfortable, but can’t easily escape. I groom Kobi in our living room on a high countertop. He’s comfortable enough because it’s the living room, but it’s also high enough that he won’t jump down and escape.

5. Is your dog dirty? If your dog needs a bath, definitely do this before you do a dematting session. It’s going to be more work if you have to extract both dirt and hair mats. Sometimes it might be easier to try to demat your dog right after a bath, but it really depends on their fur/hair and your dog’s personality. My dog goes a bit nuts after a bath so it’s not a great time to groom him.

6. Lightly brush your dog’s coat all over his body. It might help to use some detangling spray before you brush your dog’s hair, but it really depends on your dog’s hair/fur. When you’ve completed this step, you’ll know how badly your dog is matted and where the problem spots are.

Master Grooming Tools Stainless Steel Soft Slicker Brush

Slicker Brush

7. Mentally break up your dog’s hair problem spots into various sections.
For example, with my dog I typically break up the areas I need to work on as follows:
– Ears – matted near the opening of the ear canal, but my dog loves to have his ears/ear area brushed
– Tail – less sensitive and easier to brush out because the hair is coarser
– Belly – super sensitive, but often not that matted
– Chest – can be really matted, but less sensitive than belly
– Paws – not typically that matted, but he hates to have his paws touched
– Underarms – probably not the scientific name, but hopefully you understand. This is where you’ll find a LOT of matting. Unfortunately for Kobi, this is also a sensitive area.

dog anatomy

Dog Anatomy

Your dog may have different areas that are sensitive or less sensitive or matted. Regardless, break up the list of “to do” areas – you don’t want to tackle all the sensitive areas at once.

8. Where do you start?
Some groomers and breeders state that you should start at the bottom and basically create a line in the dog’s hair and work your way up.
We find that to be really time consuming and doesn’t really take into consideration where your dog’s sensitive spots are. For example, our dog Kobi would freak out if we started at the bottom of his belly or paws which are his super sensitive areas. As such, we recommend starting where your dog is less sensitive and enjoys being brushed (for Kobi it would be his ear area).
Then mix it up between sensitive and less sensitive spots, as well as, spots that are easier to brush and more difficult.

9. How to brush / which tools to use?
Any person that has had relatively long hair will understand the golden rule that you don’t pull hair (or fur). If there is a tangle, you need to hold the hair at the root (so it doesn’t hurt) and then brush/comb through the tangle. This is also the golden rule when it comes to brushing / dematting your dog.

Dematting

spraying detangling spray on the matted area

As mentioned before, first start with an overall light brushing. Don’t force any tangles. Consider using detangling spray. Then do your mental break up of your dog’s body and problem areas and assess what would be easiest to start with.

For example, I’ll start combing Kobi’s ears with the greyhound comb using the wider prongs. When I get to a matted area, I’ll hold his hair at the roots/base and then use the dematting comb. When Kobi has relatively few tangles around his ear area, then I’ll switch to using the fine prongs on the greyhound comb and/ or the slicker brush.

Dematting

insert dematting comb into mat, hold hair at the roots and then pull away from the dog

When using the dematting comb, it’s easier to start with a smaller area of the matted fur. Hold the base of the hair and then put the prongs in the matt, sharp edges away from the dog and then pull away from the matt and your dog. If you properly hold your dog’s hair, it will not hurt them.

If it’s a really large mat, start with a smaller area of the mat using the dematting comb and intermittently use the slicker brush which will help take out the matted hair leaving you a cleaner and easier smaller mat to tackle. Remember to hold your dog’s hair at the root/base as much as possible so you don’t pull their hair/fur. To the left is an example of us taking out a mat from Bootsie – a very cute Tibetan Terrier.

10. Break up the locations on where you are grooming/brushing/combing your dog

dog grooming 3

I’m mat free now!

I typically start with Kobi’s ears and head. Next I will brush or comb his back which is sensitive but generally doesn’t have too many mats. I’ll ignore any mats that might be on his back and move on to his tail. Afterwards I’ll go back to a matted area on his body, then back to an unmated area.

In between zones, I’ll make sure to give your dog treats and verbal approval (i.e. “good dog”).

The first time you do this with your dog, you might want to set a time limit (e.g. 10 mins). You can repeat the process each day until your dog’s coat is dematted.