Exercise tips to get your pets active

(philstar.com) |

MANILA, Philippines – Giving your pets the right food may not be enough, as they also need proper exercise. Most pets are not familiar with exercise, especially when owners have limited time to exercise with their pets. This can result to various health problems for pets.

Pets should exercise regularly to have a healthy heart, ideal body weight, toned shape, strong muscles, and alert and active minds.

These activities will help in getting pets the right exercise, and enable owners to bond with them as well:

dog-exercising-with-ballInterval Walk

Walks are always good for both pets and their pet owners. Mix it up by doing interval walks which will boost your pet’s metabolism. Instead of taking one walk a day, try taking multiple short walks or longer strolls during the day. You can also try walking your pet through different surfaces like sand, grass, or shallow water.

Hide and Seek

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Let your pet search for their favorite toys or kibbles by hiding them in places around the house or your backyard. Be creative in thinking up hiding places, increasing the level of difficulty as your pet becomes better in finding the hidden treat. A game of hide and seek can develop your pets’ problem-solving skills, their sense of smell and their natural hunting ability.

Obstacle course

Find various objects such as balls, chairs, broomsticks or cardboard boxes and lay them out into a makeshift obstacle course in your yard or garden. Lead your dog into the course, make him follow you and let him jump over the obstacles. You can also do this for your cat by setting up posts or towers where your cat can jump on from perch to perch. Doing several runs and varying the course will surely stimulate your pet both mentally and physically.

Fitness Games

Activities and games such as fetch, tug-of-war and light chases can stimulate your pet’s fitness. Throwing a ball as you play fetch with your dog is good cardiovascular exercise. Cats love to jump and climb, so find vertical spaces for them around your house or get them a cat tower so they can get limber. Pet owners can use a flashlight or laser pointer as another simple yet effective exercise for your feline friend where it tries to catch the light by jumping and reaching for it. The classic tug-of-war game with your pet is also good fitness activity to enhance your pet’s muscle resistance, as long as the pet also is trained to release an item on command.

Tricks and toys

Teaching a new trick to your pet will enable it to learn new skills and sharpen its mind. Tricks will also train your pet to have improved concentration and obedience, and may result in improved agility flexibility, and balance. Your furry friend will learn new things and will also build a better bond with you as you teach them. Toys encourage your pets to get moving. Toss Frisbees and balls for your dog to catch. Let your furry friends play with their favorite chew toys, make homemade ones or even use recycled items around the house such as paper, boxes, ribbon, yarn, cardboard boxes and paper bags. Be careful in picking your toys – make sure that they do not pose chemical or choking hazards to your pet and that your pet doesn’t eat them.

Access to fresh and clean water is important so your pets can rehydrate when they get tired and thirsty.

Also see to it that your pet is well rewarded after their activities. Give them some treats to encourage them to do your exercise routines daily, but always treat in moderation. Remember that an active pet lifestyle coupled with a complete balanced diet will make a happy and healthy pet.

Commercial pet food, along with veterinary care, helps pets to live longer, healthier lives. Commercial pet food makers from the United States conduct extensive research and undertake safety procedures to develop pet food, ensuring that they fulfill the special nutritional needs of dogs and cats.

As the voice of the United States pet food industry, PFI and partner organization Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines (VPAP) is committed to promoting and encouraging the Filipino pet owners to provide proper nourishment and care to their pets, striving to make them Well-fed, Well-

nourished cats and dogs. The campaign is geared towards extending knowledge on proper pet nutrition throughout the year with educational initiatives such as interactive lectures for pet owners and informational materials.

Pet care tips for the rainy seaso

Dog in the RainBy Alixandra Caole Vila (philstar.com) | Updated July 13, 2014 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The rainy season provides many opportunities to enjoy indoor activities with canine and feline friends and there is no better time to learn about them than now. Rainy day fun with your furry friend may not be a problem, but keep in mind that pets are more susceptible to common diseases in this weather.

As part of the “Well-Fed, Well-Nurtured Campaign” to engage Filipinos in responsible pet ownership through good pet health and proper nutrition, the Pet Food Institute (PFI) and the Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines (VPAP) are sharing tips for you and your pet so you can still have fun in the wet season.

PFI is the voice of the U.S. pet food industry and represents the companies that make 98 percent of U.S. pet food. It is dedicated to promoting the overall care and well-being of pets, and supporting initiatives to advance the quality nutrition for dogs and cats.

Play and learn

  1. Toys provide countless hours of fun and at the same time encourage your pets to get moving and build a better bond with you as you play.
  2. Activities such as practicing pet commands, teaching them new tricks, and playing learning games such as hide and seek, tug-of-war, tag and kibble hunts, will also stimulate both the mental and physical skills of your pet.
  3. You can also set a rainy day play date with your pet’s favorite friend or playmate. However, pets are very active and they can get quite rowdy when they play, so be sure to set aside a safe play space, secure all valuables and put away any furniture or breakable items.

Good grooming

  1. Give your pet a relaxing bath, wrap them in a fluffy towel, trim their nails, clean their ears and teeth, lovingly brush their fur and even give them a massage.
  2. Offer some treats to make the experience enjoyable, for pets that do not enjoy grooming.
  3. Always be careful in grooming your pet – stop at once when your pet is uncomfortable and soothe it by reassuring it with words and petting it softly.
  4. To help combat illnesses, increase your pet’s immunity by getting its vaccinations and deworming up to date. Watch out for respiratory diseases, hypothermia, fungal infections and skin diseases.
  5. Do not leave your pet outside in the rain, and if it gets wet, dry your furry friend down with a towel or a dryer, if it has a thick coat, and brush its fur. Be careful not to blow hot air in your pet’s eyes and ears. Remember to dry between your pet’s toes as the paws are the most common area of infection.
  6. Ask your veterinarian for a washing and grooming routine for your pet. The vet may recommend a product to treat or to reduce the chance of a fungal infection.
  7. Make sure that your pet is well rewarded. Feed them some treats, but always give them in moderation.
  8. Make sure they always have access fresh clean water to keep them fresh and hydrated.
  9. Be sure to keep dry kibble from getting wet, and refrigerate any uneaten canned pet food shortly after serving. Commercial pet food makers from the United States produce the most regulated products that provide good nutrition and health benefits for your pet.

As the voice of the United States pet food industry, PFI and partner organization Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines (VPAP) is committed to promoting and encouraging the Filipino pet owners to provide proper nourishment and care to their pets, striving to make them well-fed, well-nurtured cats and dogs.

For more information on PFI and proper pet nutrition, visit www.petfoodinstitute.org. 

Help for Excessive Barking

Why Dogs Bark and Curbing Excessive Barking

WebMD Veterinary Reference

 

No one should expect a dog to never bark. That’s as unreasonable as expecting a child to never talk. But some dogs bark excessively. If that’s a problem in your home, the first step is figuring out what causes your dog to bark too much. Once you know why he is barking, you can start to treat his barking problem.

Why Dogs BarkFord_the_howling_Beagle

Barking is one type of vocal communication that dogs use, and it can mean different things depending on the situation. Here are some reasons why dogs bark:

Territorial/Protective: When a person or an animal comes into an area your dog considers his territory, that often triggers excessive barking. As the threat gets closer, the barking often gets louder. Your dog will look alert and even aggressive during this type of barking.

Alarm/Fear: Some dogs bark at any noise or object that catches their attention or startles them. This can happen anywhere, not just in their home territory.

Boredom/Loneliness: Dogs are pack animals. Dogs left alone for long periods, whether in the house or in the yard, can become bored or sad and often will bark because they are unhappy.

Greeting/Play: Dogs often bark when greeting people or other animals. It’s usually a happy bark, accompanied with tail wags and sometimes jumping.

Attention Seeking: Dogs often bark when they want something, such as going outside, playing, or getting a treat.

Separation Anxiety/Compulsive Barking: Dogs with separation anxiety often bark excessively when left alone. They also usually exhibit other symptoms as well, such as pacing, destructiveness, depression, and inappropriate elimination. Compulsive barkers seem to bark just to hear the sound of their voices. They also often make repetitive movements as well, such as running in circles or along a fence.

How to Treat Excessive Barking

Getting your dog to bark less will take time, work, practice, and consistency. It won’t happen overnight, but with proper techniques and time, you can see progress.

Here are a few tips to remember as you start your efforts to control your dog’s barking.

  • Shouting stimulates your dog to bark more because he thinks you’re joining in. So the first rule is to speak calmly and firmly, but don’t yell.
  • Most dogs don’t know what you want when you’re yelling at them to “shut up.” So train your dog to understand the word “Quiet!”

Here are two methods:

When your dog is barking, say “Quiet” in a calm, firm voice. Wait until he stops barking, even if it’s just to take a breath, then praise him and give him a treat. Just be careful to never reward him while he’s barking. Eventually he will figure out that if he stops barking at the word “quiet” he gets a treat (and make it a high level treat, such as cheese or chicken bits to make it worth more than the barking.)

Alternatively, you can teach your dog to “speak”, then once he’s doing that reliably, signal him to stop barking with a different command, such as “quiet”, while holding your finger to your lips (dogs often pick up body signals faster than voice commands.) Practice these commands when he’s calm, and in time he should learn to stop barking at your command, even when he wants to bark at something.

  • A tired dog is a quiet dog. If your dog barks when alone, tire him out before you go. Take a long walk or run, play ball or take a trip to the dog park before leaving.
  • Don’t allow problems to go on and on. The longer a dog does something, the more ingrained it becomes. Barking can give dogs an adrenaline rush, which makes the barking pleasant. And allowing a dog to bark in certain situations, such as when the mailman arrives, can eventually make a dog aggressive in those situations. What if your dog gets out one day as the mail is being delivered? Deal with barking problems as quickly as possible.
  • Some medical problems can cause excessive barking, from bee stings to brain disease to ongoing pain. Older pets can develop a form of canine senility that causes excessive vocalizations. It’s always a good idea to have a pet checked out to be sure there’s no medical reason for a problem.

 

Once you know why your dog is barking, you can start working on ways to decrease his annoying habit. Here are some specific reasons why dogs bark, and how you can help lessen the noise:

Territorial/Protective/Alarm/Fear: Because this type of barking is often motivated by fear or a perceived threat to their territory or people, it can be lessened by limiting what your dog sees. If he’s in a fenced yard, use solid wood instead of chain fencing. Indoors, limit access to windows and doors or cover them with an opaque film.

Boredom/Loneliness: If your dog barks excessively while you’re gone, you need to provide more activities or companionship to keep him from being lonely or bored.

Bringing an outdoors dog inside will lessen the noise impact on neighbors, and provide extra security for your home. It’s also safer because dogs left alone outside can face theft, escapes, poisoning, harassment, and other dangers.

But dogs can still bark inside if bored. So if your dog barks while you’re at work all day, get someone to walk your dog or play with her for at least an hour a day.

Providing something for your dog to do during the day also can help. Try leaving out a couple of food-dispensing toys, which come in different shapes and sizes. These can keep him busy for several hours, then he’ll probably take a nap.

Dogs that bark all night should be brought indoors. Dogs quickly learn to sleep quietly inside, and are added protection for your family.

You also can drop your pet off at doggie daycare two or three days a week, or take up agility, obedience, or another active form of dog training.

Greeting/Play: To stop a dog from going into a barking frenzy every time you come home or the doorbell rings, you’ll need to teach him other behaviors. One way is to train your dog to go to a spot and stay there when the door opens. It’s best if they can see the door, but not be too close to it. Pick a spot and practice getting your dog to go there and stay, but don’t touch the door yet. Use lots of treats and praise, making it a game.

Once your pet is doing this reliably, start opening the door while he’s in his spot.

Once you can open the door and your dog will stay in his spot, have someone actually come in the door. Of course your dog will break from the spot at first, but with time and practice, he’ll learn to stay in his spot when the door opens and guests come in.

Never reward your dog for barking at you when you come home. Do not pet him or even make eye contact until your dog stops barking and sits quietly. Then acknowledge him and praise him.

Attention seeking: Never reward barking. If your dog barks when he wants water, and you fill the dish, you’ve taught him to bark to get what he wants. If he barks to go outside, it’s the same. So teach him to ring a bell you tied to the door handle to go out. Bang the water dish before filling it, and maybe he’ll start pushing it with his nose to make the same noise. Find ways for your dog to communicate without barking.

If he barks and you see his dish is empty, wait a few minutes, go do something else, then fill it, so he won’t know his barking was effective.

Remember not to scold your pet. For a dog, that’s still considered attention. The key is to ignore your dog and what he wants , until he stops barking.

Separation Anxiety/Compulsive Barking: Separation anxiety and compulsive barking are both difficult to treat and should be handled with the help of a veterinary behaviorist or a certified applied animal behaviorist. Dogs with these problems often need drug therapy to help them cope while learning new, more acceptable behaviors.

Bark Collars. Should you use one?

There are a number of products on the market that promise to stop barking quickly. Collars that go on your dog can deliver audible or ultrasonic corrections to your dog, but they aren’t effective on all dogs. Citronella-spraying collars often work, but some dogs learn they can run them out of spray, then bark at will.

Shock collars, which deliver a painful jolt to your pet, can cause pets harm and may make dogs aggressive, especially if they associate the person or animal they are barking at with the pain.

Other off-collar devices can work well if your dog barks in a set area. Bark-activated water sprayers or noisemakers switch on when they pick up barking, shooting water at your pet or emitting an irritating sound. These can sometimes break a dog of barking in a given area, but they work best if you are home to reward your pet when he stops barking. That helps reinforce what you want your dog to do.

What not to do:

  • Don’t encourage your dog to bark at some noises (a door slamming, people walking by) and discourage him from barking at others. Be consistent.
  • Never use a muzzle or other means of constraint to keep a dog quiet for long periods or when they aren’t supervised. It can be dangerous to your pet.

*Debarking is very controversial and is considered inhumane by many. It does not address the underlying cause of the barking. It is a surgical procedure in which the folds of tissue on either side of a dog’s larynx, or voice box, are removed, leaving dogs with a raspy bark instead of a full bark. Complications are common and can be life threatening, including breathing difficulties, higher incidents of choking, and ongoing pain. Dogs also have been known to regain their voices after the surgery. The procedure does not stop the barking, it only makes it sound different.

Dog Skin Problems

Source: WebMD

The sound of a dog constantly scratching or licking can be as irritating as nails on a chalkboard. But don’t blame your pooch for these bad habits — a skin condition is probably the culprit. Possible causes range from parasites to allergies to underlying illness. WebMD has compiled images of some of the most common canine skin problems.

 allergic dermatitis

Allergic Dermatitis

Dogs can have allergic reactions to grooming products, food, and environmental irritants, such as pollen or insect bites. A dog with allergies may scratch relentlessly, and a peek at the skin often reveals an ugly rash. Corticosteroids can help with itchy rashes, but the most effective treatment is to identify and avoid exposure to the allergens.

 yeast infection

Yeast Infection

If your dog can’t seem to stop scratching an ear or licking her toes, ask your veterinarian to check for a yeast infection. Symptoms include irritated, itchy, or discolored skin. The infection usually strikes the paws or ears, where yeast has a cozy space to grow. Yeast infections are easy to diagnose and often respond well to a topical cream. In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe oral drugs or medicated baths.

 folliculitis

Folliculitis

Superficial bacterial folliculitis is an infection that causes sores, bumps, and scabs on the skin. These skin abnormalities are easier to see in shorthaired dogs. In longhaired dogs, the most obvious symptoms may be a dull coat and shedding with scaly skin underneath. Folliculitis often occurs in conjunction with other skin problems, such as mange, allergies, or injury. Treatment may include oral antibiotics and antibacterial ointments or shampoos.

 impetigo

Impetigo

Another type of bacterial infection, impetigo is most common in puppies. It causes pus-filled blisters that may break and crust over. The blisters usually develop on the hairless portion of the abdomen. Impetigo is rarely serious and can be treated with a topical solution. In a small number of cases, the infection may spread or persist.

 seborrhea

Seborrhea

Seborrhea causes a dog’s skin to become greasy and develop scales (dandruff). In some cases, it’s a genetic disease that begins when a dog is young and lasts a lifetime. But most dogs with seborrhea develop the scaling as a complication of another medical problem, such as allergies or hormonal abnormalities. In these cases, it is vital to treat the underlying cause so symptoms do not recur.

ringworm 

Ringworm

Despite its name, ringworm is not caused by a worm, but by a fungus. The term “ring” comes from the circular patches that can form anywhere, but are often found on a dog’s head, paws, ears, and forelegs. Inflammation, scaly patches, and hair loss often surround the lesions. Puppies less than a year old are the most susceptible, and the infection can spread quickly between dogs in a kennel or to pet owners at home. Various anti-fungal treatments are available.

 shedding & hair loss

Shedding and Hair Loss (Alopecia)

Anyone who shares their home with dogs knows that they shed. How much shedding is normal depends on breed, time of year, and environment. But sometimes stress, poor nutrition, or illness can cause a dog to lose more hair than usual. If abnormal or excessive shedding persists for more than a week, or you notice patches of missing fur, check with your veterinarian.

 mange

Mange (Mites)

Mange is a skin disorder caused by tiny parasites called mites. Sarcoptic mange, also known as canine scabies, spreads easily among dogs and can also be transmitted to people, but the parasites don’t survive on humans. The symptoms are intense itching, red skin, sores, and hair loss. A dog’s ears, face and legs are most commonly affected. Demodectic mange can cause bald spots, scabbing, and sores, but it is not contagious between animals or people. Treatment depends on the type of mange.

 fleas

Fleas

Fleas are the bane of any pet owner. You may not see the tiny insects themselves, but flea droppings or eggs are usually visible in a dog’s coat. Other symptoms include excessive licking or scratching, scabs, and hot spots. Severe flea infestations can cause blood loss and anemia, and even expose your dog to other parasites, such as tapeworms. Treatment may include a topical and/or oral flea killer and a thorough cleaning of the pet’s home and yard.

tick 

Ticks

Ticks, like fleas, are external parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts. You can spot a tick feeding on your dog with the naked eye. To properly remove a tick, grasp the tick with tweezers close to the dog’s skin, and gently pull it straight out. Twisting or pulling too hard may cause the head to remain lodged in your dog’s skin, which can lead to infection. Place the tick in a jar with some alcohol for a couple of days and dispose of it once it is dead. In addition to causing blood loss and anemia, ticks can transmit Lyme disease and other potentially serious bacterial infections. If you live in an area where ticks are common, talk to your veterinarian about tick control products.

 color or texture change

Color or Texture Changes

Changes in a dog’s skin color or coat texture can be a warning sign of several common metabolic or hormone problems. Be sure to ask your veterinarian about any significant changes to your dog’s coat.

 dry flaky skin

Dry, Flaky Skin

Dry, flaky skin can be a red flag for a number of problems. It’s a common symptom of allergies, mange, and other skin diseases. But most often, dry or flaky skin is nothing serious. Like people, some dogs simply get dry skin in the winter. If this seems to cause your pet discomfort, consult your veterinarian.

acral lick granuloma 

Acral Lick Granuloma

Also called acral lick dermatitis, this is a frustrating skin condition caused by compulsive, relentless licking of a single area — most often on the front of the lower leg. The area is unable to heal, and the resulting pain and itching can lead the dog to keep licking the same spot. Treatment includes discouraging the dog from licking, either by using a bad-tasting topical solution or an Elizabethan collar.

 skin tumors

Skin Tumors

If you notice a hard lump on your dog’s skin, point it out to your vet as soon as possible. Dogs can develop cancerous tumors in their skin. The only way to confirm a diagnosis of cancer is to biopsy the tumor. If the lump is small enough, your veterinarian may recommend removing it entirely. This can yield a diagnosis and treatment with a single procedure. For tumors that have not spread, this may be the only treatment

needed.

hot spots

Hot Spots

Hot spots, also called acute moist dermatitis, are small areas that appear red, irritated, and inflamed. They are most commonly found on a dog’s head, hips, or chest, and often feel hot to the touch. Hot spots can result from a wide range of conditions, including infections, allergies, insect bites, or excessive licking and chewing. Treatment consists of cleansing the hot spot and addressing the underlying condition.

 immune disorder

Immune Disorders

In rare cases, skin lesions or infections that won’t heal can indicate an immune disorder in your dog. One of the best known is lupus, a disease that affects dogs and people. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, meaning the body’s immune system attacks its own cells. Symptoms include skin abnormalities and kidney problems. It can be fatal if untreated.

 anal sac disease

Anal Sac Disease

As if dog poop weren’t smelly enough, dogs release a foul-smelling substance when they do their business. The substance comes from small anal sacs, which can become impacted if they don’t empty properly. The hallmark of impacted anal sacs is a dog scooting his bottom along the ground. Other symptoms include biting or licking the anal area. A vet can manually express full anal sacs, but in severe cases, the sacs may be surgically removed.

 

When to See the Vet

Although most skin problems are not emergencies, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis so the condition can be treated. See your veterinarian if your dog is scratching or licking excessively, or if you notice any changes in your pet’s coat or skin, including scaling, redness, discoloration, or bald patches. Once the cause is identified, most skin problems respond well to treatment.

Can You Have a Pet and a Clean Home?

What’s the secret to a non-stinky litter box?

Scoop every day

Keep the box as clean as possible. Scoop solid waste every day, and clean the box thoroughly once a week with hot water and dish soap. For extra freshness, spread a thin layer of baking soda under the litter. If you have more than one cat, get two or more litter boxes.

Many cats don’t like strong smells, so skip the scented litter and air freshener. These products may discourage your kitty from using the litter box at all.

 

petsweep1How often should you give your dog a bath?

At least once every three months

Once every three months is a general guideline. But it really depends on how much time your dog spends outside and how healthy his skin is. Although it’s safe to bathe your dog as often as you need to, bathing him too much may remove the natural oils in his fur and cause dry, itchy skin.

Be sure to always use a dog shampoo; products designed for people can be too harsh.

 

Why do dogs like to roll on dead animals and other gross things?

To mask their scent

Experts don’t know for sure why dogs like to roll in things that smell bad, but one theory is that it’s a way to mask their own scent, so they can be better hunters. Keep in mind that what smells terrible to you may smell great to your dog!

If your dog rolls in something stinky, use a brush to remove any solid material. Then give your dog a bath using regular dog shampoo. You don’t need to use any special cleaners or deodorizers.

What’s the best way to clean pet barf from your carpet?

Sprinkle with baking soda

Vomit has acids that can stain carpets quickly. To remove the smell and prevent staining, try this:

Pick up solid material right away with a wet paper towel. Then sprinkle salt or baking soda over the area and let it dry. Vacuum, then repeat with baking soda. Once you’ve vacuumed, pour some club soda on the spot and blot it dry with paper towels. Don’t rub. If the spot is still stained, try using a special cleaner formulated for pet stains.

Why do dogs chew everything?

Chewing is natural for dogs — it’s a way for them to explore the world and relieve stress. The trick is to teach your dog what’s OK to chew. Give your dog plenty of safe chew toys and move things you don’t want chewed — shoes, books, pillows — out of reach.

If you find your dog gnawing on something he shouldn’t, say “no” and hand him a chew toy instead. Giving your dog plenty of attention and exercise can also help stop unwanted chewing.

An “accident” isn’t always an accident.

Dogs may go to the bathroom inside because of anxiety, fear of going outside, or to mark their territory. Cats may go outside of their box if they’re stressed, have a urinary tract infection, or they don’t like their litter.

If your pet starts having accidents, see your vet to rule out a medical problem. Then ask about ways to curb the problem, like keeping your dog on a schedule or changing your cat’s litter. Clean accidents with an enzymatic cleaner to stop your pet from soiling the area again.

Learn to ignore pet hair! There’s no easy way to get rid of it on clothes and furniture.

Don’t give up! Pet hair may seem impossible to clean, but there are ways to remove it from your furniture, carpets, and clothing.

Use lint brushes, sticky rollers, or wrap packing tape around your hand to rub the hair off. Or mix 1 part liquid fabric softener with 3 parts water, spray it on the surface, wait a few hours, and vacuum.

How can I stop my dog from shedding?

Although you can’t stop your dog from shedding, regular brushing can help cut down the amount of dog hair in your house. Most short-haired dogs only need brushing once a week. Use a rubber or bristle brush to get rid of dirt, dead skin, and dead hair.

Dogs with long hair may need daily brushing, first with a slicker brush to remove tangles, and then with a bristle brush to get rid of hair and dirt. Feeding your dog a high-quality dog food can also help with shedding.

Dry food will cut down on smells.

If you’re trying to get rid of the pet smells in your home, dry food is your best bet. You can leave it out during the day and it won’t go bad.

When picking a food for your pet, choose a brand with high-quality ingredients. These are more easily digested and are less likely to cause gas. Whether you choose wet or dry food, give your pet fresh food in clean bowls every day to prevent bacteria and pests.

Why are some dogs so gassy?

If your dog lets loose something “silent but deadly,” his diet may be to blame. Some dog foods contain poor-quality ingredients. Gulping food too fast or eating table scraps can also cause gas.

Ask your vet to recommend a high-quality dog food, and don’t share people food with your pet. If you think speed eating is the problem, try feeding him smaller meals a few times a day.

Most puppies are house-trained by what age?

4 to 6 months

You can encourage your puppy by keeping him on a regular feeding schedule, supervising him while inside, taking him outside often, and praising him when he goes outside.

Don’t ever punish your puppy for having an accident. And don’t use an ammonia-based product to clean up. Ammonia smells like urine to dogs and may tempt them to go on the same spot again. Use an enzymatic cleaner instead.

Crating is bad for your dog.

When used the right way, crating can really work for house-training. Most dogs like having a cozy, safe den. And because dogs don’t like to soil their dens, crating is a good way to prevent accidents when you’re not home. Crating can also help curb bad behaviors like digging and chewing.

You shouldn’t use the crate for punishment or leave your puppy in a crate for more than four hours. For best results, ask your vet how to crate train.

Source: WeBMD

20 Things You Can Learn from Your Pets

Forget Multitasking

When dogs have a job to do, they give it their undivided attention. It turns out people should probably do the same. Stanford researchers found that attention and memory suffer in those who juggle work, email, and web-surfing, compared to those who focus on one task at a time. Other studies suggest employees actually lose time when multitasking.

getty_rf_photo_of_dog_balancing_ball

Take Naps

You won’t catch your pet going from dawn to dusk without any shut-eye.  There’s good evidence humans can benefit from catnaps, too. A study involving about 24,000 people indicates regular nappers are 37% less likely to die from heart disease than people who nap only occasionally. Short naps can also enhance alertness and job performance.

Walk Every Day

Whether you’ve got four legs or two, walking is one of the safest, easiest ways to burn calories and boost heart health. Taking regular walks can also help you:

  • Fight depression.
  • Lose weight.
  • Lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Lower the risk of breast and colon cancer.
  • Keep your bones strong.
  • Keep your mind sharp.

Cultivate Friendships

People are social animals, and friendships have measurable health benefits.  Researchers in Australia followed 1,500 older people for 10 years. Those with the most friends were 22% less likely to die than those with the fewest friends.

Live in the Moment

Living in the moment may be one of the most important lessons we can learn from our pets. In a study called “A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind,” Harvard psychologists conclude that people are happiest when doing activities that keep the mind focused, such as sex or exercise. Planning, reminiscing, or thinking about anything other than the current activity can undermine happiness.

Don’t Hold a Grudge

pet-dog-friendly-hotels

Part of living in the moment is letting bygones be bygones. Let go of old grudges, and you’ll literally breathe easier. Chronic anger has been linked to a decline in lung function, while forgiveness contributes to lower blood pressure and reduced anxiety. People who forgive also tend to have higher self-esteem.

Wag

OK, so maybe you don’t have a tail. But you can smile or put a spring in your step when you’re feeling grateful. Researchers have found a strong connection between gratitude and general well-being. In one study, people who kept gratitude journals had better attitudes, exercised more, and had fewer physical complaints.

Maintain Curiosity

According to a popular saying, curiosity may be hazardous to a cat’s health. But not so for humans. Researchers have found that people who are more curious tend to have a greater sense of meaning in life. Other studies have linked curiosity to psychological well-being and the expansion of knowledge and skills.

Be Silly

Indulging in a little silliness may have serious health benefits. Cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center found a stronger sense of humor in people with healthy hearts than in those who had suffered a heart attack. They conclude that “laughter is the best medicine” – especially when it comes to protecting your heart.

Get a Back Rub

The power of touch is nothing to sniff at. The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has found massage therapy can ease pain, give the immune system a boost, and help manage chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes. The touch of a loved one may be even more powerful. In one study, married women experienced less anxiety over the threat of an electric shock when they held their husbands’ hands.

Drink Water When You’re Thirstyimages

Dogs don’t lap up sports drinks when they’ve been playing hard – and most people don’t need to either. During a typical workout, drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated. Water gives your muscles and tissues critical fluid without adding to your calorie count. Be sure to drink more than usual on hot days or when you’re sweating a lot.

Eat Fish

Most cats would trade kibble for a can of tuna any day. Luckily, you can choose to make fish a regular part of your diet. Salmon, tuna, trout, and other fatty fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and arthritis. In addition, Rush University researchers found that people who eat fish at least once a week are 60% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

If You Love Someone, Show It

Dogs don’t play hard to get – when they love you, they show you. It’s a good approach for people seeking to strengthen their relationships. A study published in the journal Personal Relationships suggests small, thoughtful gestures can have a big impact on how connected and satisfied couples feel.getty_rf_photo_of_baby_and_beagle

Play

Goofing off is not just for kids and kittens. In his book, Play, Stuart Brown, MD, writes that playing is a basic human need along with sleeping and eating. Play enhances intelligence, creativity, problem-solving, and social skills. So take a cue from your pet and devote yourself to an activity that has no purpose other than sheer fun.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

A hike in the woods may be a dog’s idea of bliss, but it has plenty of benefits for the human mind and body as well. Spending time outdoors can enhance fitness, increase vitamin D levels, and reduce stress. In children, playing in natural settings has also been linked to better distance vision, fewer ADHD symptoms, and better performance in school.

Make Time to Groomgetty_rm_photo_of_dog_staring_into_landscape

Aside from the obvious health benefits of bathing and brushing your teeth, grooming can have a number of positive effects on your life. Good personal hygiene is vital to self-esteem. A tidy appearance can also help you get and maintain a job.

Be Aware of Body Language

Dogs are excellent at reading each other’s intent from body language. Humans, not so much. While most of us do reveal our emotions through posture, speech patterns, and eye contact, other people generally aren’t very good at reading those cues. People get better at decoding body language as they get older.

Stretch Often

Stretching will keep you limber, but the benefits don’t stop there. In a 10-week study, volunteers who did no exercise other than stretching experienced surprising physical changes. Besides improving flexibility, they increased their muscle strength, power, and endurance. Although the study was a small one, the results suggest stretching may be a good alternative for people who have a condition that rules out traditional strength-training.

Seek Out Shade

When you’re at the park, and your pooch is ready for a break, she’ll probably find a nice shady spot to relax. Dermatologists recommend you follow suit, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. That’s when you would soak up the most UV rays, particularly during late spring and early summer. While you’re sheltered in the shade, it’s a good idea to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen on exposed skin.

Stick to a Schedule

Pets like the consistency of a routine – they can’t tell a Saturday from a Monday. The same goes for the human body clock. People sleep better if they go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Sticking to a consistent schedule for bathing, dressing, and eating can also improve the quality of sleep.

Source: WebMD

 

When Your Dog Is Afraid of Storms

What to do if you have a dog with storm phobia.

By Daphne Sashin
WebMD Pet Health Feature

It can be heartbreaking to watch: Even before the first clap of thunder, otherwise well-behaved dogs begin to pace, pant, cling to their owners, hide in the closet, or jam themselves behind the toilet. In severe cases, they’ll claw through drywall, chew carpets, or break through windows in their escalating panic.

Thunderstorm phobia in dogs is real, not uncommon, and shouldn’t be ignored, experts say.

“Most of the time they don’t grow out of it on their own, and many will get worse with time if nothing is done,” says Matt Peuser, DVM, a veterinarian at Olathe Animal Hospital in Kansas.

Why does storm phobia happen, and what can you do if your dog suffers from it?

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Storm Phobia Triggers

Veterinarians don’t know all the triggers but suspect the dogs are set off by some combination of wind, thunder, lightning, barometric pressure changes, static electricity, and low-frequency rumbles preceding a storm that humans can’t hear. According to one theory, dogs experience painful shocks from static buildup before the storm.

The anxiety often gets worse throughout the season as storms become more frequent.

Dogs often start having storm-related panic attacks seemingly out of nowhere, says Barbara L. Sherman, PhD, DVM, associate professor of veterinary behavior at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine and a past president of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

“Owners come in and say, ‘He wasn’t like this last year,” Sherman tells WebMD. “It’s really heart wrenching to see these dogs that are usually calm companions become severely affected by thunderstorms.”

Herding breeds, such as border collies, may be predisposed to the problem, according to an Internet survey by Tufts University researchers. Dogs with other fearful behaviors, such as separation anxiety, also seem more prone to panic.

Some dogs with storm phobia are also frightened of other loud noises, such as fireworks or gunshots, but others are only afraid of storms.

What to do? There’s no easy fix, and unless your dog is only mildly affected, it can be difficult to treat, vets say. But there are lots of tools to reduce your dog’s distress during storm season:

1. Reward calm behavior year-round.

Many owners make the mistake of trying to console and pet a fearful dog that’s whimpering or climbing on them, but that just encourages the panicky behavior, Sherman says.

“We absolutely don’t want owners to scold their dog, but we don’t want them to reward the dog for being clingy because that will increase the clingy behavior,” she says.

Instead, practice getting your dog to settle on command. Sherman advises clients to put a special “inside” leash on the dog and practice having the pet lie at their feet while praising the calm behavior.

“They should practice when there is no storm, so the dog learns the routine,” she says. “When the storm comes up, then they put on the leash and say, ‘Come on and lie down here,’ and the dog still knows what to do.”

During the storm, you can also try distracting the dog by offering its favorite toy, playing fetch, petting it, and feeding treats as long as the dog remains calm, Peuser says.

“What you’re trying to do is get them to forget about the storm and replace [the fear] with something positive,” he says.

2. Give the dog a safe place where he can go in a storm.

That might be an open crate, a basement where the dog can’t hear or see what’s happening outside, an interior room with music playing, or a bathroom.

Let your dog decide: Notice where he goes during a storm, and if possible, allow access to it.

Be sure your dog can come and go freely, since some animals become more anxious if confined. Sherman treated one golden retriever that was confined to a garage and, in an attempt to escape during a storm, scratched through the drywall of the door leading to the house.

3. Consider a snug garment.

Snug-fitting shirts and wraps especially designed to calm anxious dogs are worth a try, says Sherman, who has consulted for Thundershirt, a so-called pressure garment that is said to have a calming effect similar to swaddling a baby. Some dogs also respond to wearing a metal fabric-lined cape marketed as the Storm Defender, which claims to protect dogs from static shocks.

So far, the benefits of these garments are anecdotal. A 2009 study found “there was a trend toward the Storm Defender performing better” than a placebo cape, but the results were statistically insignificant, said study author Nicole Cottam, MS, behavior service coordinator at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Tufts researchers are currently performing a study sponsored by the makers of Anxiety Wrap, another compression garment.

4. In the winter, desensitize your dog to the sounds of a storm.

Play a CD of thunder recordings at low enough levels that don’t frighten your dog, while giving him treats or playing a game. Gradually increase the volume over the course of several months, stopping if your dog shows any signs of anxiety. The goal is to get your dog used to the sound of thunder, and associate it with good things, Peuser says.

Experts caution that desensitization can have limited success in an actual storm because you can only recreate the noise, and not the other factors that may be bothering the dog, such as the static electricity or changes in barometric pressure.

5. Ask your veterinarian for advice.

The doctor may have more ideas for behavior modification and can assess whether medication may also be needed.

“Not every dog needs anti-anxiety medication, but dogs that are in a horrible state of high anxiety will really benefit,” Sherman says. In severe cases, owners will keep their dogs on the medication for the whole season, while others give their dog medicine in the morning if there’s a chance of a storm later on.

A 2003 study by veterinarians at the University of Georgia found that 30 out of 32 dogs with storm phobia showed significant improvement when given medication combined with behavior modification and desensitization.

“We have our best luck with a management plan that includes changing some features in the environment, applying some behavior modification techniques, and often some anti-anxiety medication,” Sherman says. “Work with your veterinarian to come up with a treatment plan.”

Dog Walking 101

Hey you, new pooch parent-yeah, you with the cute puppy who can’t stop pulling! Want some tricks to keep Trixie on task? Or perhaps you’re already an old pro but want to make your outdoor excursions more fun for both you and your dog.  Follow our insider tips and your pooch will be eager to get going as soon as you pick up the leash!

It’s the Leash You Can Do

What’s the best type of leash? “Use whatever you feel most comfortable holding,” recommends the ASPCA Animal Behavior Center’s Kristen Collins, CPDT.

  • Flexi-leads are best reserved for walks in the park, when it’s safe for a dog to explore a bit further away from her pet parent. cropped-PC310081.jpgThey are NOT a good idea if you’re walking in an area with high foot traffic or off-leash dogs, as the long line may get wrapped around your dog, a person’s leg or another dog.
  • Many people think chain leashes look nice, but they are much heavier than nylon or leather, and they can be very hard on the hands. Even so, they sometimes work well for dogs who like to tug or bite the leash. “Metal doesn’t feel nearly as nice in a dog’s mouth,” explains Collins.
  • Leather leashes are a good option because they are easiest on the hands.
  • Nylon leashes can cut into hands or give a pet parent “leash burn” if a dog pulls a lot or unexpectedly lunges forward. But they come in many stylish colors and designs, and they hold up well after repeated exposure to rain and snow.

Pull Over, Rover!

Constant pulling on the leash makes walks stressful for both of you. “It’s a common problem that can happen for a number of reasons,” says Collins.

  • If your dog darts after local wildlife, it may help to walk him when critters are less likely to be out and about; avoid dawn and dusk. You can also check out our article Dogs Who Are Reactive on Leash.
  • If the problem is simply pulling on leash due to natural canine enthusiasm for all the exciting signs and sounds you encounter on walks, you’ll find  help in our article Teaching Your Dog Not to Pull on Leash.
  • Try using a head halter to walk a dog who’s excitable on leash. “They provide power steering for dog parents!” says Collins. “The Gentle Leader® by Premier®Pet Products is my personal favorite.”

Stay Off the Grass (and Out of the Flower Beds!)

Our experts at the ASPCA Poison Control Center want you to keep your walks toxin-free:

  • During the warmer months, it’s important to keep your pet safe from toxic lawn and garden products. Insecticides and certain types of mulch can cause problems for our furry friends-during neighborhood strolls, please be sure to keep your pooch off the lawns of others.
  • Even though popular spring bulb plants like tulips and daffodils add much to our landscape, they can cause significant stomach problems for our furry friends. If your pooch likes to stop and smell-or nibble-the flowers, please keep him on a short leash during your walks.

So Nice to Meet You!

It’s great that your friendly pooch loves meeting people during walks-but not so great that she jumps up on them. “The basic idea is to teach your dog how to sit on cue and then require her to sit to interact with people,” says Collins. “No sitting, no greeting. But if she sits, she gets to enjoy the reward of greeting her friends.” It doesn’t hurt to reward the dog with a treat-or ask the person whom she’s greeting to offer a treat.

See our article on Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump Up on People for more guidelines.

Three Things To Bring

  •  If you’re planning an extended walk, be sure to bring water for your dog-especially if it’s warm outside.
  • Don’t forget the goodies! Walks are great training opportunities. Bring Fido’s fave treats along, and practice tricks and obedience while you’re out in the world. “This will solidify your dog’s skills and convince him that going on walks is fantastic fun!” says Collins.
  • Don’t get caught without extra poop bags, particularly if you’re going on a long walk.  (P.S. This is a great way to recycle all those plastic grocery bags!)

 

Watch for Creepy Crawlies

Depending on the time of the year and the area of the country you live in, sneaky critters like snakes, spiders, scorpions and bees can be a serious concern for pet and parent alike. If you’re walking in a densely wooded area, take extra care to keep an eye out for hidden dangers.

So Nice to Meet You!

Taking a walk to a dog park or other fenced-in area that’s safe for canines to romp freely? Make sure your dog is prepared for off-leash play. “Your dog must know how to come when called,” says Collins, “so the most important thing to do is teach a really reliable recall.”

Find out how to accomplish this in our article Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called.

Take It Up a Notch

Here are some suggestions for making walks more fun for your dog:

  • Mix it up! Try taking your dog to new places. He’ll love experiencing the new sights, smells and sounds at a novel location.
  • Choose fabulous destinations. If possible, walk to fun places, like friends’ houses or the dog park.
  • Walk with buddies. If your dog likes other dogs, consider group walks. You can either borrow a friend’s dog to accompany you, or invite family and friends who have dogs to meet you somewhere.

What’s Bugging You?

Walking in humid, mosquito-friendly areas? Spray yourself, not your pooch! Even though it’s tempting to share insect repellent with your pooch, it can be a grave mistake. Insect repellent should never be applied to dogs, who can suffer neurological problems from the toxic ingredient, DEET. Instead, ask your veterinarian for a suitable, pet-specific alternative.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

Health Topic: Parvo (Parvovirus) in Dogs

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that can produce a life-threatening illness. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in a dog’s body, most severely affecting the intestinal tract. Parvovirus also attacks the white blood cells, and when young animals are infected, the virus can damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problem

What Are the General Symptoms of Parvovirus?

The general symptoms of parvovirus are lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea that can lead to life-threatening dehydration.

How Is Parvovirus Transmitted?

Parvovirus is extremely contagious and can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces. Highly resistant, the virus can live in the environment for months, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors. It is common for an unvaccinated dog to contract parvovirus from the streets, especially in urban areas where there are many dogs.

parvo-in-dogsHow Is Parvovirus Diagnosed?

Veterinarians diagnose parvovirus on the basis of clinical signs and laboratory testing. The Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbant Assay (ELISA) test has become a common test for parvovirus. The ELISA test kit is used to detect parvovirus in a dog’s stools, and is performed in the vet’s office in about 15 minutes. Because this test is not 100% sensitive or specific, your veterinarian may recommend additional tests and bloodwork.

Which Dogs Are Prone to Parvovirus?

Puppies, adolescent dogs and canines who are not vaccinated are most susceptible to the virus. The canine parvovirus affects most members of the dog family (wolves, coyotes, foxes, etc.). Breeds at a higher risk are Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, Labrador retrievers, American Staffordshire terriers and German shepherds.

How Can Parvovirus Be Prevented?

You can protect your dog from this potential killer by making sure he’s up-to-date on his vaccinations. Parvovirus should be considered a core vaccine for all puppies and adult dogs. It is usually recommended that puppies be vaccinated with combination vaccines that take into account the risk factors for exposure to various diseases. One common vaccine, called a “5-in-1,” protects the puppy from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza.

Generally, the first vaccine is given at 6-8 weeks of age and a booster is given at four-week intervals until the puppy is 16-20 weeks of age, and then again at one year of age. A puppy’s vaccination program is not complete before four months of age. Older dogs who have not received full puppy vaccination series may be susceptible to parvovirus and should also receive at least one immunization. Consult with your veterinarian about how often your dog will need to be re-vaccinated.

Because parvovirus can live in an environment for months, you will want to take extra care if there has been an infected dog in your house or yard. Some things are easier to clean and disinfect than others-and even with excellent cleaning, parvovirus can be difficult to eradicate. Parvo is resistant to many typical disinfectants. A solution of one part bleach to 32 parts water can be used where organic material is not present. The infected dog’s toys, food dish and water bowl should be properly cleaned and then disinfected with this solution for 10 minutes. If not disinfected, these articles should be discarded. You can also use the solution on the soles of your shoes if you think you’ve walked through an infected area. Areas that are harder to clean (grassy areas, carpeting and wood, for example) may need to be sprayed with disinfectant, or even resurfaced.

How Can Parvovirus Be Treated?

Although there are no drugs available that can kill the virus yet, treatment is generally straightforward and consists of aggressive supportive care to control the symptoms and boost your dog’s immune system to help him win the battle against this dangerous disease. Dogs infected with parvovirus need intensive treatment in a veterinary hospital, where they receive antibiotics, drugs to control the vomiting, intravenous fluids and other supportive therapies. Should your dog undergo this treatment, be prepared for considerable expense-the average hospital stay is about 5-7 days.

Please note that treatment is not always successful-so it’s especially important to make sure your dog is vaccinated.

What Are Some Home Treatment Options?

Because parvovirus is such a serious disease, it is not recommended to attempt home treatment. Even with the best veterinary care, this disease is often fatal.

When Is it Time to See the Vet?

If you notice your dog experiencing severe vomiting, loss of appetite, depression or bloody diarrhea, contact your veterinarian immediately.

What Are Some Other Health Issues with These Same Symptoms?

A puppy with a bloody diarrhea could have a parasite problem, a virus other than parvovirus, a stress colitis, or may have eaten something that disagreed with him or injured and blocked his digestive tract. It’s crucial that you see your vet for an accurate diagnosis.

 

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

The ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist specializes in the resolution and management of pet behavior problems only. Please do not submit questions about medical problems here. Only licensed veterinarians can diagnose medical conditions. If you think that your pet is sick, injured or experiencing any kind of physical distress, please contact his veterinarian immediately. A delay in seeking proper veterinary care may worsen your pet’s condition and put his life at risk. If you are concerned about the cost of veterinary care, please read our resources on finding financial help.

© 2009 ASPCA. All Rights Reserved

Trimming Dog Nails and Dewclaws

Most dogs wear down their nails through activity. If they are not worn down naturally, however, they can become extremely long and damage carpets and upholstery. Excessively long nails can splay the toes and interfere with traction by preventing the foot pads from making contact with the ground. Long nails should be trimmed.

Nails are also trimmed to prepare a dog for show. If trimming is done twice a month, the quick (the bundle of nerves and blood vessels inside the nail) will recede toward the base of the nail and the nail will remain permanently shorter.

Dogs with dewclaws must have these nails looked at frequently. Dewclaws are remnants of fifth toes and are found high on the Trim Dog Nailsinside of each foot. In many breeds the dewclaws are removed shortly after birth. In other breeds, such as Briards and Great Pyrenees, the presence of dewclaws is required by the breed standard. These nails do not contact the ground and thus can grow around in a circle and pierce the skin. Dewclaws should be trimmed regularly. This is particularly true for dogs with dewclaws on the rear legs. If you have a puppy with dewclaws, it is important to get her used to having them trimmed, even though trimming may not yet be necessary.

Some nail clippers for dogs have two cutting edges, while others of the guillotine type have one. Either type is satisfactory. Nail clippers designed for humans do not work well because a dog’s nails are not flat the way a person’s are.

Begin by lifting the dog’s paw and extending the nail. Identify the quick (the pink part running down the center), which contains the nerves and blood vessels. If the nails are white, it’s easy to see the quick. Be sure to trim the nail in front of (but close to) the quick. When using a guillotine cutter, the blade should slice upward from the underside of the nail. If the nails are dark and the quick is invisible, a good rule is to cut the nails parallel to the toe pads, so that the nails just clear the floor.

If you accidentally cut into the quick, the dog will feel a brief moment of pain and the nail will begin to bleed. Hold pressure over the end of the nail with a cotton ball. The blood will clot in a few minutes. If bleeding persists, pack with styptic powder or use a styptic pencil. In a pinch, cornstarch will also do.

To use a Dremel tool, you need to put on a sanding drum and carefully pull any hair away from the nail you are working on. Then carefully hold the tool against the nail with a slight pressure, removing just a small amount if you cannot see the quick. Do not push the sanding drum against the foot, just hold it lightly against the surface of the nail. You need to be careful that the tool is not getting warm and heating your dog’s toe.

Do not trim back into the quick. Rather, follow the guideline about trimming nails parallel to the toe pads.

 

 

WebMD Veterinary Reference from “Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook”