Category Archives: dog safety

The Foods Dogs Can’t Eat

By Kelley Kombrinck

For us humans, sharing meals with each other is a huge part of our lives. It’s a way to celebrate, to grieve, to bond and to conduct business. We probably do this most often with our loved ones, often every night at dinner, so it is natural for us to want to include our special furry friends in this practice. As long as man and dog have been cohabitating, we’ve been slipping food to them from our plates. It’s easy to assume that whatever is good and tasty to us will be the same for our dogs. Unfortunately, this is not the case and there are a number of foods that are not healthy for our four-legged companions and some that can even be deadly. Before you pass your dog that yummy morsel, let’s look at some of the foods dogs can’t eat.

As a general rule, it is probably best to limit how much “human” food we share with our dogs. Most of our food is heavily seasoned or processed and we aren’t always aware of what might bother their digestive systems. To understand the healthiest diet for your dog, you should always consult your vet. With that in mind, if you do give in to those big, hungry eyes that seem to say, “Please may I have just a bite?” there are some foods that are particularly harmful to a dog’s body and should be avoided. There is an excellent and comprehensive list of foods that are both safe, and dangerous for dogs that can be found at the American Kennel Club website for those looking for more suggestions, but for this post we will focus on the ones that should always be left alone.

Foods To Avoid

(Remember, even foods that are “ok” for dogs aren’t meant for them, so when you do share, make sure it is only occasionally, and small amounts.)

Chocolate

chocolate
Chocolate

Most people, dog families or not, are aware of this one and with good reason. Chocolate comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, varieties and is in many different foods and beverages that we consume. Most households have quite a bit of chocolate in one form or another laying about the kitchen and it is extremely toxic to dogs. Chocolate contains a stimulant called methylxanthine, and ingesting even a small amount can cause a dog to experience severe vomiting and diarrhea. Any significant amount can cause a dog to have seizures, heart problems and could even kill them. Not only do you want to make sure you don’t knowingly give your dog friend any chocolate, you want to make sure that there is no way for them to get into it on their own. If you discover that your dog has eaten chocolate, it’s important to contact your vet immediately. If you can’t reach a vet, you can also contact the Pet Poison Helpline to find out how best to proceed.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts
Macadamia Nuts

These nuts are a big no-no for dog consumption. Like chocolate, they are extremely toxic to dogs and can cause any number of harmful effects including damage to their nervous system.

Garlic

Garlic
Garlic

Garlic is part of a family of plants called the Allium family, along with onions, leeks, shallots and scallions. All of these should be avoided when giving your dog food from the table because they can all make them sick. Garlic, however, is much more toxic than the others and has a host of symptoms including an elevated heartrate and weakness that can lead to collapse. It is also worthwhile to note that with foods such as garlic and onions, a dog may have delayed symptoms, so if you know that your fur baby has gotten into the special, garlic-heavy family spaghetti sauce, keep an eye on them for a few days and watch for any signs of discomfort or irregular behavior.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon
Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice with a very pleasant sort of “heat” that we humans enjoy and while it is not necessarily toxic for dogs, it is also not good for them. The oils that carry that spiciness to our flavor receptors can irritate the lining of a dog’s mouth. If it is inhaled as a powder (it’s most common form in this country) it can cause breathing issues and overall will just make a dog feel sick and uncomfortable.

Almonds

SLmonds
Almonds

Certain nuts are toxic to dogs in and of themselves (the aforementioned Macadamia nuts)while others, like peanuts and cashews, are alright in very small amounts. Almonds fall somewhere in between and so to be overly cautious we are including them on our list. While not specifically toxic, almonds can easily be lodged in a dog’s esophagus creating a choking hazard or even damage their windpipe if not chewed very thoroughly. Additionally, if the almonds are salted they can cause your dog to retain water which can be life-threatening if there is any underlying heart condition. Best to steer clear and keep the almonds for yourself.

Grapes & Raisins

Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and Raisins

Dogs can eat some fruits, but grapes and raisins should definitely be avoided. They are toxic to a fur-baby’s system and eating them can cause a dog to endure vomiting, severe lethargy and possible kidney failure.

Ice Cream

Ice Cream
Ice cream

Dogs are able to digest dairy and it is not always harmful to them but some dogs have an intolerance for lactose that can cause mild to severe digestive issues. On top of that, ice cream contains very high levels of sugar and sodium, which can cause weight gain, retention and lead to more serious conditions down the line. While it may be hard to not give a good boy or good girl the last lick of your frozen treat, it is best to just keep that last lick for yourself.

Alcohol

alcohol
Alcoholic beverages

Alcohol is a big no-no for dogs. Their bodies react to alcohol in a very similar way to ours except that they experience issues much faster and with a much lower amount. Think of your furry friend as the ultimate lightweight. Vomiting, diarrhea and loss of coordination can begin quickly after consuming even a small volume of alcohol and can eventually lead to coma or even death.

Caffeine

Caffeine
Coffee

Like alcohol, the effects of caffeine on a dog’s system are not unlike our own, but are greatly amplified and far more damaging. Muscle tremors, trouble breathing and heart palpitations are all common symptoms of caffeine consumption in dogs, but depending on how much they ingested, can also lead to caffeine poisoning.

Xylitol

Xylitol
Sugar substitute xylitol,

Xylitol is a popular artificial sweetener used in many different foods and other products (like toothpaste). It is extremely harmful to dogs and can cause liver failure in just a few short days after being ingested. It also causes severe, repeated vomiting, lethargy and sometimes seizures. This one can sneak up on you because sometimes you don’t know that a product contains xylitol. Some peanut-butters, for instance, contain xylitol and many dogs receive peanut-butter as a treat. Before sharing anything with your animal friends, make sure you check the ingredients list.

Of course, there are other “human” foods that are harmful to greater and lesser degrees to dogs. If you’re committed to sharing foods with your dog, it is probably best to research it thoroughly first, or as mentioned above, contact a veterinarian who can help guide you. We all want to make our animal friends happy and give them treats that we enjoy, but we also want them to feel good and be healthy. There are so many other treats that are appropriate for our dogs that will give them that good feeling while not doing any harm to them.

Visit the blog over at Petstop.com for more great articles on ways to spend time with and care for your beloved furry friend!

Happy dog waiting for dinner
Thanks for protecting me from the foods I can’t eat!

Dogs and Covid-19

By Kelley Kombrinck

Dogs and Covid-19

2020 brought a lot of unrest and anxiety to people all over the globe, and the events that shaped that unease came in many shapes and sizes. One of the most harrowing for us humans has been the worldwide pandemic caused by Covid-19, otherwise known as SARS-Cov 2 or Coronavirus. It is an extremely contagious and infectious disease that can seemingly attack any system in the body. The effects can fall anywhere on a broad spectrum of severity that includes having no symptoms at all, feeling like one has a mild flu, or in the worst cases, death from complications caused by the virus. Social and physical distancing has become phrases we’ve come to hear almost daily. Humans are social animals and so it’s no surprise that we’ve had difficulty adjusting to this situation as a species. It’s hard for us to stay away from one another and to stay indoors. We crave face-to-face interaction and experiences beyond our front doors. What about other species’, however? When it comes to our dogs and Covid-19, what do we need to know? How has the coronavirus affected our animal friends and how do we protect them? Experts believe that Covid-19 originated in an animal (most likely a bat, according to the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html), but can it be spread from humans back to animals? Could we be spreading the virus to our pets? Can they, in turn, infect us?

The good news is the likelihood of us contracting Covid-19 from our dogs is very slim. The virus seems mostly transmitted through respiratory droplets, spread it via sneezes, coughs and talking in close proximity to one another. From the same page on the CDC website linked above:

“Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.”

What about us passing it on to our beloved fur-babies? What is the risk there?

In May of 2020, a German Shepherd named Buddy became the first dog in the US to test positive for Covid-19. His owner had contracted the coronavirus the previous month and noticed that the dog was showing signs of illness. A veterinarian was able to confirm that Buddy did indeed have the virus. Sadly, in July of 2020, Buddy passed away from lymphoma, but vets were unable to determine whether this was related to the virus, or if complications from his cancer were coincidental to the infection.

We love our dogs

This story and a few other like it sent cold tendrils of panic slipping down the spines of dog lovers everywhere. It was hard enough worrying about infecting our most vulnerable human family and friends, but now it seems, we may also have to worry about making our pets sick.

Steps to Keep Your Dog Safe

The information we have is obviously limited and the story grows and changes every day, but the CDC advises treating pets similarly to humans in regard to distancing. They’ve released some general guidelines about how best to avoid spreading the coronavirus to our dogs.

Walking your dog during covid
Walk your dogs on a leash when you take them out
  • Practice good pet hygiene. Wash your hands frequently, particularly after handling your dogs or their food, Physically distance. Just like we’ve done with other people, it’s advised to keep our animal friends separated from people outside of their home.
  • Walk your dogs on a leash when you take them out and try to keep them distanced (at least six feet) from other animals and people who may be out doing the same. Also, try to avoid public places where a large number of people and dogs may gather, including busy, social dog parks. If possible, exercise them in their own yard (a great way of doing this, if you are worried about them staying put, is to install an invisible pet fence).
  • The CDC states that there is no evidence that the virus can be contracted from the skin, fur or hair of pets so please don’t try to “disinfect” them by wiping or cleaning them with alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners. Again, this does nothing to help and could very definitely be harmful, or deadly, to your beloved dog. It is perfectly fine to wipe the pads of their paws with warm, water. You can use a pet safe soap but if you do, be sure to rinse your dog’s paws thoroughly to be sure it is all gone. Even soaps meant for pets can be dangerous if left on the skin. Also, never use soaps meant for humans on your pets–the chemicals can cause serious health problems or even death.
  • Of course, the best way we can prevent our dog friends from getting infected with Covid-19 is to stay healthy ourselves. If you do contract Covid-19, or even think that you have, limit contact with your pet as much as possible. If you can, try to have someone else care for your dog(s) if you are infected.
  • If no one else is available to help you care for your animals, avoid prolonged contact such as petting, kisses, being licked and snuggling (definitely the hardest part but so necessary).
  • When it’s necessary to feed them or be near them, make sure you are wearing a mask.
  • There are also a couple of things you should not do, in trying to protect your dog from the coronavirus.
  • First, don’t put a mask on your dog. Their mouths and noses are built completely different from ours and the mask will not protect them, and in fact could actually harm them.
  • As with all matters relating to the health of your pet, consult your veterinarian if you have questions about how best to keep your animal friends safe.
keep your dog healthy

We all want the best for our dogs, they are special and precious, and we strive to do what we can to keep them safe and healthy. Thankfully, it seems that doesn’t seem very common to spread the virus to our pets, but it can, and does, happen from time to time. We are learning more as time goes on about how the coronavirus spreads and the effects it can have on both humans and animals. To stay up to date on coronavirus as it applies to our animal friends, consult the CDC page HERE.

Do what you can to keep yourself safe and healthy, and you will be going a long way to ensure the same for your dog.

Fleas Are Not Your Friends

puppy-scratching-fleas-300x282Chances are that if your dog has fur he has had fleas at some point. Actually, even if your dog doesn’t have fur they can still get fleas; they just hide better in fur. At some point you’re going to need to do something about them if you haven’t already. So let’s get down to it.

There are plenty of medicinal options out for there you to choose from – Frontline, Advantage, etc. – and there are plenty of versions – pills, topical, injections. Is any one going to be better than the other? Absolutely, but with a few clauses.

Quick tip: giving your dog a bath regularly will help in the fight against flea prevention. Be sure to use the right kind of shampoo and begin at your dog’s head and neck, working your way down.

First off, every dog is going to react differently to various medications just as a human would. For example, one dog may do very well with a pill form of flea prevention and do very badly with the exact same brands’ topical version. It is also important to take into consideration your dogs’ weight as getting the best application is based on this. There are also medications that are made specifically for certain breeds and weights. This is why it’s important to speak with your veterinarian about the best choice for your dog.

Your veterinarian will be able to tell you what has the best track record for what breed, age and environment your dog lives in. So remember that if your first choice didn’t work there are several explanations. One possible reason is your dog has sensitive skin. There are some breeds that react badly to topical ointments and other dogs that simply may just be allergic to that type of flea treatment.

Remember that after applying your chosen medication, fleas will continue to hatch and appear on your dog for several days. In fact, it can take up to a month for the medication to take full effect. The strength of each medicine will vary, but know that your veterinarian can prescribe stronger flea medication than you could buy in a store on your own.

Quick tip: if your dog has fleas, use a flea comb regularly to remove them. Keep a bowl of soapy water nearby and dip the comb in after each pass.

After giving your dog the medication there are also monthly applications available. This is a great preventive measure to use on an ongoing basis, especially if you dog is primarily outdoors. It’s also possible to treat your house or yard for fleas by using water-proof chemicals. This may speed up the process of getting rid of them.

Multi-preventive medications are injections or monthly pills for your dog that guard against fleas, ticks, or other parasites. Injections are not only becoming more popular because of their effectiveness at killing fleas, but also their longevity – a typical flea prevention injection will last up to 6 months!

With knowledge on new products, success rates, and breed specific options, your vet will be able to recommend the best option for you and your dog.

Walk it Out

Walk it Out

Providing structure and a routine of exercise for your dog goes a long way. One thing to note is that dogs do not often entertain themselves. For example, your dog barking can simply be out of boredom. If you have a dog that is misbehaving, one reason can be due to an over abundance of energy and not enough outlets for that energy.

This is all the more reason to take your dog on routine daily walks. This will provide them with an activity they love, a time to bond with your dog, and a great way for them to release all that built up energy.

Getting Ready

Your dog knows when it’s time to go on a walk. Most likely they’re all over you when they see you grab their leash. So it’s important to understand just how important a walk is to them. It’s a great time for them to get out and explore and expend some of that curious energy, but make sure they know the rules.

Before you go out consider having a routine with your dog. You can relay various commands to them as you and your dog get ready, such as having your dog “stay” while you calmly put their leash on. Providing a calm environment before you go on the walk will help reinforce good behavior on the walk. Make sure to also reward your dog for good behavior so they know they’re doing something right.

Who’s Walking Who?

A common problem many dog owners experience is their dog actually walking them and not the other way around. Your dog will naturally be excited by the big wide world, but that doesn’t mean they should have the freedom to pull you around your neighborhood. When you walk your dog make sure they are either beside you or behind you; this helps to reinforce your relationship and establishing you in the clear role of leader.

While your dog will enjoy their walk it should not be looked at as a time for overexcitement and play. Your dog should understand that a walk is a calm activity. You can help to reaffirm this environment for your dog in various ways.

If you find your dog is running ahead of you or becoming over excited, stop your walk, calm your dog down and wait patiently until they’re ready to continue. When you start walking again make it a casual movement so as not to pull your dog out of their calm state.

When and Why to Walk

Become-A-Dog-Walker-300x225If you work during the day and your dog is left home by themselves, you should walk your dog before leaving for work. This will put your dog in a “rest” state and help to curb destructive behaviors while you are gone. You should also walk your dog when you get home as they’ll be ready to go again by this time.

Dogs of all breeds can benefit from daily walks with their owners. By positioning yourself in the leadership role and giving your dog a daily exercise like walking, your dog will be less likely to be destructive, have separation anxiety, and have other behavior issues.

Daily walking will help ensure both you and your dog are healthy and happy.

Safe Travels with your Dog

Safe Travels with your Dog

Your dog may greatly enjoy the occasional car ride, but it’s important to take the necessary safety precautions whenever you travel with your best friend. We’ve identified a few of the most important safety tips to be aware of whenever you travel with your dog.

Safe and Secure

The best place for your dog in a car is safely secured in a well-ventilated pet carrier. There are wire-mesh and hard plastic sided carriers available for most sizes, but the carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around in. For large breed dogs you can also utilize a dog harness that attaches to a car seat belt.

If your pet is new to traveling in a carrier, help them get used to the new environment by letting them explore it a bit for a couple weeks before your trip. This will help them remain calm in the carrier and not feel like they are being punished or trapped.

Although you may be tempted to let your dog roam free, this can be very dangerous if you are in an accident or have to stop suddenly.

Watch the Weather

It is never okay to leave your dog alone in a parked car. Even on a slightly sunny day your car can heat up drastically in a very short amount of time, dehydrating your dog and increasing the risk of heatstroke. Conversely, in the winter your car will trap in the cold temperatures making your dog susceptible to hypothermia.

Food and Water

If you’re planning a particularly long drive, you should feed your pet a light meal before you leave to keep them satisfied during the drive. For water, consider bringing bottled water or your own in plastic jugs. Your dog is used to the water they drink and a different type could upset their stomach.

It’s also recommended you stop to feed and water your pet. While this is good for their own digestion and stomach, it also ensures they won’t spill everything and make a mess in your car!

Doggie Documentation

If you’re traveling across state lines, you may be required to show proof of your dog’s vaccination records. While this is not required in every state, it’s a good idea to pack a copy just in case.

By having your dog micro-chipped

Having your dog micro-chipped is also a good safety practice. In the event your dog is lost, the microchip allows for tracking and identification. You should also make sure your dogs’ collar includes information on your travel destination including the address and phone number of where you’re staying.

Pack a Bag for your Dog

In addition to the above tips, remember to pack the necessary items for your dogs’ trip. A helpful checklist of items includes:

  • Food and water
  • Bowl
  • Leash
  • A waste scoop and plastic bags
  • Vaccination papers
  • Any required medication
  • First-aid kit
  • Favorite toys and treats

Following these helpful tips will ensure your pet has a safe and enjoyable trip.

Travel with your Dog

Signs of a Healthy Dog

dog running in grassJust as scheduling regular veterinary checkups is important, so too is being able to understand the signs of a healthy and unhealthy dog. Learning how to recognize these signs will help you keep your dog healthy and happy.

Cold Nose = Healthy Dog? Maybe.

Curious by nature, your dog’s first impulse when interested in anything is to sniff around a bit.  However, don’t be alarmed if your dogs’ nose is warm; a dogs’ nose will fluctuate between warm and cold throughout the day. If your dog’s nose is warm for a prolonged period of time or shows signs of cracking, you should take your dog to the vet.

Likewise, if you notice your dog’s nose is always cold, this could be the sign of a cold. Just as you would expect your nose to be running if you were sick, your dog’s will too.

Healthy Eyes and Ears

While some dogs have eyes that tear up naturally, under normal circumstances your dog should have free and clear eyes. If you notice your dogs’ eyes consistently discharging or appear to be red or irritated, consult your veterinarian.

You should think of cleaning your dogs’ ears just as you would your own. If you notice your dog is scratching their ears more, this could be an indication of an infection. Dogs with more hair in their ears may need more frequent cleaning as well.

dog running in grassShow Your Smile

Take care to ensure your dog has healthy and clean teeth that are free of plaque and tartar build up. While you can brush your dog’s teeth just as you would your own, an easy way to help your dog have healthy teeth and gums is to give them treats that are specifically designed to help keep their teeth clean. As an added benefit, they can also help keep your dog from having “dog breath”.

Manage Your Dog’s Weight

Most dogs aren’t going to turn down a bowl full of food when you put it in front of them; all the more reason to regulate how much food your dog eats. Dogs that are overweight have increased risk of other health problems including heart and respiratory issues.

As different breeds benefit from different portions and formulas of food, you should consult your vet on the best choice for your dog. At an ideal weight, you should be clearly see their waist and be able to gently feel your dog’s ribs on the sides. An indication of an overweight dog could be struggling during times of exercise or playing.

Paws and Pads

Having four feet means there’s twice as many feet to worry about than you’re used to. While your dog’s pads are designed to be tough and resilient, they still need proper care. Routinely trimming their nails is one way to ensure their feet stay healthy. While trimming their nails, you can also check for any redness, swelling or foreign objects.

Your dog may not be able to tell you what they need, but understanding these signs and indicators will ensure your dog remains happy and healthy.

Help Keep your Dog Safe in the Summer Sun

Dogs don’t have the option of shedding their thick winter coats in the summer time. And as your dog naturally pants year round, you may not notice when they’re doing it as a sign of being overheated. During the summer months, the risk for heatstroke increases and it’s important to be aware of the warning signs.

Dog Outdoors in SummertimeSigns of heat stroke include:

  • Body temperatures of 104-110 Fahrenheit
  • Excessive panting
  • Seizures
  • Sticky or dry tongue and gums
  • Dark or bright red tongue and gums

Heatstroke can be deadly in a very short amount of time. If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, take immediate action. Make sure you move your dog out of direct sunlight and into shade, provide cool water (not ice water) for them to drink, and place wet cloths on their feet and around their head.

Even if your dog appears fine, their internal organs are also affected by an overall temperature elevation. If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke you should follow the steps above to reduce their body temperature and contact your veterinarian immediately.

It’s important to be aware that some breeds of dog are more susceptible to heatstroke. Short-nosed breeds such as bulldogs or pugs, dogs with thick or heavy coats, and dogs with heart or respiratory problems are at a greater risk for heatstroke.

When you take your dog for walks or runs during the summer make sure you bring water for your pet (they get thirsty after exercising just like you!). If possible, try to avoid walking on pavement or tar; your dog’s paw pads may appear tough, but they’re also sensitive and can be burned by the hot ground. If your dog is walking on pavement, make sure there isn’t any redness or pain.

Some helpful tips to keep your dog safe and cool in the summer heat include:

  • Being aware if your dog is in full sun all day; are they outside on a tether with no access to shade?
  • If your dog is kept inside the house during the day, is there air conditioning to help keep them cool? Having access to a basement can be an alternative to provide them with a cool environment during the day.
  • If your dog is left outside for long periods during the day (ie, while at work), do they have access to fresh water, shelter and shade? Consider having a kiddie pool nearby or a sprinkler with an automatic timer to help keep your dog cool and safe during the day.
  • Is your dog’s water dish able to be knocked over and spilled? Consider an elevated or heavier water bowl to help reduce the chance of your dog spilling their water.
  • Never leave your dog in a locked car, even if you think it will only be for a moment. This can turn dangerous for your dog very quickly!

Following these important tips will help keep your pet healthy and safe in the summer sun!

Do you have anymore tips to protect your dog during the summer?

Dog Safety Tips From Pet Stop

Reflective Collars
One easy solution to help your protect your dog is to buy a reflective collar. These collars strongly reflect light and are similar to the material on running jackets and shoes. By having your dog wear a reflective collar you help increase visibility for drivers at night and during winter when day light is shorter.

Drivers have little time to react if a dog suddenly runs out into the street; a reflective collar will help a driver be more aware of the dog’s presence and adjust their driving speeds. Doggie Safety from Pet Stop

The Dog Wanderer

Do you have a dog that likes to roam the neighborhood? While dogs often have a good sense of direction and can find their way back home, there are many dangers waiting for them outside of your yard. These include possibly being hit by a car, getting picked up by animal services, eating things they shouldn’t that may injure or poison them, or getting into fights with other dogs or animals.

If you find that your dog is trying to escape your yard, you can take additional measures to keep them secured. However, as many dogs try to escape out of boredom, there are other things you can do to keep them occupied, safe and secure.

  • Adding a kiddie pool to let them play and splash in helps to keep your dog entertained
  • Taking your dog on routine walks lets them see and smell the outside world, helping to curb their desire to explore on their own
  • Making sure your dog has plenty of toys to play with also helps to keep them having fun

Dog Proof Your Home

Dogs are curious by nature, but you can take precautions around your home to ensure it doesn’t get the better of them. If you have a particularly nosy dog, they may get into your trash and eat something that could make them sick. Consider having a lid on your kitchen trash can or keeping it in a pantry closet.

Also take care to avoid leaving small object such as hair ties or socks lying on the floor. Many dogs can be injured or die from eating foreign objects they find.

Many baby proofing products, such as doorway gates, work very well for dogs as well.

Dog Toys and Treats

While all dogs have toys they love, it’s important to pick the right toys for your dog. Even though your pet might really be eyeing the bone that’s as big as them, it’s important to pick toys and treats relative to your dog’s size. For example, a toy that isn’t very sturdy may be easily broken by a larger dog allowing them to eat part of it they shouldn’t. Likewise, a smaller dog should have chew toys that are made for their size so they don’t injure their teeth.

Many toys and treats come with recommended sizes and breeds, so just choose what’s best for your dog.

Following these safety tips will help keep your dog safe.

Do you have any tips you would like to share?