When Your Pup Turns Adolescent – What You Should Know

Understanding Canine Adolescence

He tears through the house, leaving a mess in his wake. She’s suddenly shy and her happy personality has dissolved into moodiness. Sometime after your dog reaches 6 months, he or she will plunge headlong into canine adolescence – where hormones rule.

Like people, dogs react differently to puberty. Some have an easier time of it than others, but a “teenage dog” of any breed can display unpredictable, even uncharacteristic behavior – which can last an entire year. Behavior seems to depend more on the individual dog than on the breed.

If you visit your local pound, you’ll find a disproportionate number of teenage dogs in the kennels: Many folks become so disillusioned with their pets at this stage that they put them up for adoption. To make matters worse, these rejected dogs often make the worst impression on potential adopters because they are deprived of the attention, guidance and stimulation they need.

Physical Changes in Adolescent Dogs

The onset of puberty will be most recognizable in your male dog. He’ll begin lifting his leg to mark territory and mounting other dogs, humans, and even furniture.

It’s not unusual to discover a puddle of urine, left by a formerly housebroken adolescent dog. Females use urine to attract mates; males use it to mark their territory. In adolescence, such tendencies may remain even though your pet is “fixed.” (A neutered dog is never an “it” but simply a hormoneless, toned-down version of its biological sex).

A non-spayed female experiences her first heat around 8 months of age. A neutered male reaches sexual maturity at about the same time. Spaying or neutering before seven months evens out the vicissitudes of youth somewhat, but you can’t avoid them altogether.

The urge to chew also drives your teen-puppy‘s actions, and often is the first evidence that your dog is getting his secondary teeth and is coming of age. If you’ve let your strict crating rules lapse, you may well arrive home one day to find some significant damage done to a sofa, wooden bedpost, plastic toy chest, or other similarly chewable object. As teeth first erupt, and even after they’re beyond the gum line, they need a good workout to ensure strong and accurate placement. All that gnawing helps align a dog’s teeth in his jawbone. So, replenish your supply of rawhide and chew toys and hang on for the ride!

Also around this time, your dog goes through an intense period of shedding his fuzzy puppy coat and acquiring the type of hair distinctive to his breed. Be prepared to brush him and vacuum your home often.

The fact that your dog’s skeleton and muscles are growing by leaps and bounds during his teen months can be a blessing for your relationship. You can admire the enthusiasm and perseverance he applies in trying to coordinate his gangly limbs and get a chuckle out of his efforts, same as you did when he was a cuddly little puppy.

Keeping Your Adolescent Dog Active

Your teen-age dog will benefit and learn from distractions – exercise, play, toys, and the company of other dogs. If you alone can’t keep up with his high energy level, arrange for him to frolic in a dog park with other canine teens. In their absence, find a few animal-loving human teens who don’t mind the company of a non-stop dog, as they rollerblade around or shoot baskets. 

It’s easy to get into the practice of endlessly telling your dog “no” when you observe unwanted behaviors. But it’s not a good pattern to adopt. Instead, distract the dog from learning the unwanted behavior in the first place by providing enough toys, trips to new places and other stimulation. That is, teach your dog what you want him to do, not simply what not to do.

Taking Charge of Dog Adolescence 

Brace yourself for dealing with the many moods of adolescence. If your teenager frequently becomes submissive, don’t scold her. Kneel down on her level and praise her when she responds positively. If he becomes aggressive, frightened, or anxious, don’t rush to calm or comfort him, because that reinforces the behavior, by giving him the attention he wants.

Even when it seems hopeless and your dog seems to have forgotten all he has learned, don’t give up on training your dog. In fact, obedience classes are just what your dog needs. He’ll be around other dogs and learn to relate to them. He’ll develop confidence and self-control that will serve him throughout his life. And, at a stage of life that can be confusing and difficult, he’ll get a chance to spend lots of time interacting with his favorite companion – you.

What Is Your Dog Saying? A Key to Canine Body Language

Keys to Understanding Canine Body Language

Every dog, whether Akita, bichon, or beagle, knows the same language. You and your dog probably pick up on each other’s signals without thinking much about it. But if your dog begins to behave differently, if you are getting to know a new dog, or if you encounter a dog you don’t know, it helps to be able to read the universal body language of dogs.

If you and your dog landed in Tokyo or Timbuktu tomorrow and were greeted by a local person and his dog, it would take only a few minutes for the two dogs to understand each other. Hours later, you would still be wondering if you were bowing properly, making acceptable hand gestures, or using the right table manners. The dogs, on the other hand, would know just what to do – the lead dog eats first.

Signals Dogs Use to Communicate

Although a dog can’t speak and has no hands and fingers for gesturing as humans do, you can watch key parts of his body to determine how he’s feeling and reacting to the world around him.

 

 

  • Face. Although the dog’s facial muscles are not as refined as a human’s, he can wrinkle or straighten his forehead to show confusion or determination. If your dog wants you to give him further direction, he may raise his eyelids quizzically and tilt his head to one side.
  • Eyes. A dog’s eyes brighten when he looks at a creature he considers friendly and when he wants to play. If he is afraid, his pupils dilate and he shows the whites of his eyes. He averts his eyes to avoid confrontation. But if he is angry or ready to defend himself, his eyes narrow and follow your every move. At this point, it’s particularly important not to look the dog in the eye because he sees that as a challenge to defend his position.
  • Lips, teeth and tongue. A relaxed dog in normal posture may let his tongue loll out of his mouth. If he wants something from you, if he is happy or wants to play, he may pull his lips back in what appears to be a smile and show his teeth, an expression, by the way, dogs show only to humans and not to other dogs. But beware the dog that bares his clenched teeth and wrinkles his nose. He is ready to attack.
  • Ears. The dog’s sense of hearing is much more acute than ours and even dogs with floppy ears have the ability to move and turn them to follow sounds. If a dog’s ears are raised, he is relaxed, listening, or showing acceptance. If they are back, he may be signaling submission and deference or may be frankly fearful.
  • Tail. A dog wags his tail when he is happy or wants to play. It is really an energy indicator. When he is submissive, he tucks it between his legs. A taut tail, held down rigidly behind him, may show that he is prepared to spring since he uses his tail for balance when jumping.
  • Voice. Dogs are vocal animals. They yip, bark, whimper, howl, and growl. The pitch or volume of their sounds can increase with their level of emotion. A bark may be playful or aggressive. Unlike body signals, dog noises can mean different things from different dogs.

 

 

Dog Posture Speaks Volumes – What Your Dog is Saying

When two dogs meet, as long as their human companions aren’t tugging tight on their leashes, they carry out a series of actions that looks like a choreographed dance. With their bodies tense and tails taut, they circle and sniff each other, silently gathering and exchanging information, ready to defend themselves at any moment if necessary. They hold their ears back and the hair on their back may stand on end. They often avoid direct eye contact at first, sizing each other up to determine if the stranger is strong or weak, male or female, hostile or non-hostile. One dog may place his head on the nape of the other’s neck or nip at his nose. It seems they are getting ready to fight and then, one lies down. Soon, they may separate and urinate. At this point they have agreed on which dog is dominant.

Dogs learn body language from their mothers during the first 8 weeks of their lives and they test out this form of communication with their littermates. If a dog misses out on such training, he will have trouble communicating with other dogs throughout life.

How Age Affects Your Dog

Time gets the better of even the healthiest dogs. From cancer and deteriorating thought processes to arthritis and diabetes, geriatric dogs develop diseases similar to those that befall humans. Below is a brief summary of the physical conditions you and your veterinarian may encounter as you help your dog navigate old age.

Note: Older dogs should see a vet every 6 months. Between visits, report any changes in your dog’s health or appearance.

The Senses

With age, your dog’s nervous system will dull. The pathways that transmit messages to the brain from nerve endings slow down, and his senses, which receive messages from the outside world, won’t be as receptive as they once were.

  • Hearing. Hearing loss occurs naturally in elderly dogs, as nerve cells and hearing apparatus degenerate. Inner-ear problems are also common and may cause dizziness or loss of balance. In some breeds, matted hair growing inside the ear can muffle sounds, as can wax build-up in dogs with narrow ear canals. Drop-eared breeds are prone to infections from yeast, fungus and bacteria.
  • Sight. Although your dog’s eyes may look cloudy, this condition – called “nuclear sclerosis” – won’t necessarily affect his vision. However, he may lose his ability to focus on nearby objects. Other age-related eye problems include reduced ability to see in the dark (or even in bright light), cataracts, glaucoma and degeneration of the retina.
  • Smell. The dog’s nose is a highly developed sensory organ, and a large area of the canine brain is devoted to the sense of smell. Tumors and polyps in the nose can weaken the sense of smell, which degenerates considerably in dogs over 15.
  • Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. At times, degeneration of the nervous system is extreme enough to affect a dog’s quality of life and the way the animal relates to his family. Canine cognitive dysfunction – a syndrome akin to Alzheimer’s disease in humans – can manifest itself in many ways. These include decreased interaction with family; disorientation, confusion and staring into space; abnormal sleep and activity patterns, such as pacing; decreased attention; reduced ability to navigate stairs; apparent hearing impairment; or lapses in housetraining.

    Other Systemic Problems

  • Respiration. Lung capacity decreases with age, and allergies may become more pronounced. Dogs not only use their lungs to draw in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, they also use their lungs and panting for evaporative cooling. Pugs and other short-nosed dogs of all ages are particularly prone to respiratory distress in hot and polluted environments.
  • Heart and circulation. Dogs do develop heart disease, but heart attacks are rare. Heart murmurs, indicating progressive heart valve disease, can occur in some elderly dogs.
  • Skeleton, joints and muscles. Arthritis affects one out of every five dogs, caused by wear and tear on the cartilage that connects bones and joints. Selective breeding has altered the bone structure in some dogs, and they tend toward bone disease. What’s more, the vertebrae – the bones that protect the spinal cord – can deteriorate and impinge on its sheath of nerves, causing complications that range from pain and limping to paralysis. Short-legged, long-backed breeds, such as dachshunds and basset hounds, frequently experience slipped discs.
  • Digestive system. Digestive problems – from stomachs that don’t tolerate certain foods, to intestines that fail to absorb nutrients – are common in elderly dogs. Signs of problems include diarrhea, vomiting and gas. Constipation is another common gastrointestinal malady. Anal sacs also become more susceptible to blockage or infection. Obesity must be controlled with a high-fiber low-calorie senior diet. Overweight dogs are also likely candidates for diabetes.
  • Kidneys and bladder. The kidneys are one of the first organ systems to wear out in dogs. As the bladder loses elasticity, the animal can become incontinent. Unregulated diabetes can result in frequent urination in middle-aged to older dogs. Straining, pain with urination, increased or decreased urination may signal kidney failure, spinal injury or various infections. If the dog shows any of these signs, take him to the vet promptly.
  • Hormones and glands. The endocrine system’s glands produce hormones that regulate and coordinate metabolism, immune response and other vital functions. If aging throws hormone production out of balance, multiple body systems are affected, and conditions such as lethargy, weak muscles, arthritis, dry skin, hypertension and heart problems can result. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to produce enough of the hormone insulin or when insulin receptors do not work. In this case, the pancreas still secretes insulin, but it is not effective.
  • Reproductive system. Between 60 and 80 percent of unneutered male dogs over age 8 develop enlarged prostate glands. They are also prone to testicular cancer. Older, unspayed dogs are prone to uterine infections, uterine or ovarian cancer and ovarian cysts. Older females that become pregnant have significant health problems associated with pregnancy. Female dogs have one-seventh the risk of developing breast cancer if they are spayed before reaching sexual maturity.
  • Cancer. Cancer is a rampant, abnormal growth of cells. It may first become apparent as a tissue mass called a tumor. Older dogs are more likely to develop cancer, which is often treatable. If it cannot be cured, modern veterinary care, proper nutrition and love can make your pet more comfortable.
  • When Your Senior Dog Needs to See a Vet

    Understanding When Senior Dog Need Help

    Senior dogs should ideally get routine twice-yearly veterinary exams. Small changes in behavior can be normal, however there are certain symptoms that should concern you.

    If you notice any of the symptoms detailed in this article you should report them to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Any one or more of the following symptoms could be caused by a range of minor or major illnesses.

    Remember, it’s not your job to diagnose the disorder. It’s your job to observe your dog, evaluate all of his bodily functions and report his symptoms to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

    If your dog is having severe symptoms such as struggling to breathe or loses consciousness, take him to your veterinarian immediately.

    Your Senior Dog Needs to See a Vet When He…

  • Drinks water or urinates more often than usual
  • Loses weight
  • Is unusually hungry
  • Vomits repeatedly
  • Has diarrhea lasting for more than three days
  • Finds it difficult to pass stool or urine
  • Forgets his housebreaking habits
  • Exhibits lameness for more than 5 days or in more than one leg
  • Has trouble seeing
  • Develops open sores on the skin that persist for more than one week
  • Develops a foul mouth odor or drools excessively
  • Appears to gain weight only in his abdomen
  • Spends more time than usual sleeping or gazing into space
  • Loses hair or scratches, especially if only in specific areas
  • Pants excessively
  • Is unable to chew dry food
  • Collapses suddenly or has a bout of weakness
  • Has a seizure (convulsion)
  • Coughs persistently or gags often
  • Has bleeding from the mouth, nose or rectum
  • Has a significant decrease in appetite or doesn’t eat for more than two days
  • Questions About Senior Dogs

    During your dog's senior years, you'll probably observe gradual or sudden changes in health and behavior. Your veterinarian will help determine whether these changes are due to illness, a reaction to medications, or the natural aging process.

    Here are some questions that owners commonly ask about the health, habits and behavior of their older dogs.

    Question: How will medication affect my dog?

    Answer: Medications can cause weight loss or gain, vomiting, depression, lethargy, loss of balance, increased thirst, drooling, shivering or other symptoms that mimic minor or major illness. Ask your veterinarian about common side effects of any medication prescribed for your dog. Be sure to tell him if your dog is already taking another drug, since a combination of drugs can cause side effects. If you think medication is having a negative effect on your dog, call your veterinarian for advice.

    Q: Why is my dog gaining weight?

    A: The aches and pains of old age may prevent your dog from moving as freely as she once did. She may have developed a touch of arthritis or stiffness in the joints. Hormonal changes may also slow down the metabolism. Medications may add extra girth.

    Walk your dog and play with her daily. You'll have to engage her in gentler activities than when she was young, but she still needs her exercise.

    Discuss changing her diet with your vet. Seniors need nutritious diets that are higher in fiber, but lower in fat and calories. It's your job to help her keep her weight down, since obesity can make her more susceptible to diabetes, arthritis and heart problems.

    Q: Why is my dog losing weight?

    A: Is she eating? Are her teeth strong and mouth and gums healthy? Is her neck arthritic? She won't eat if it's a painful process. Age or medications can reduce her senses of smell and taste, which, of course, decreases her appetite. Metabolic disorders and heart or liver trouble can cause weight loss, regardless of how much she eats.

    Try feeding the dog a veterinary-prescribed diet in frequent, smaller meals. If her memory or eyesight is failing, be sure to put her food and water bowls in the same place every day. To prevent strain on her aging spine, elevate the bowls to the level of her head.

    Q: What if my dog has more than doggy breath?

    A: Tooth or gum disease, accompanied by bumps on the gums or tartar on the teeth, are the most common reasons for extreme doggy breath. If you don't brush her teeth regularly, ask your vet to show you how. You'll probably need to do it daily. Chewing on synthetic bones, biscuits or hard rubber toys will help her prevent tartar build-up.

    An unusually foul smell, accompanied by lack of appetite and frequent vomiting, could indicate liver disease. Kidney disease adds a hint of urine to the breath. Very sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, especially if she 's been drinking and urinating more than usual.

    Q: Why does my dog seems unusually thirsty?

    A: Is her water bowl convenient? Always keep fresh, cool water available, not only beside her food bowl, but in the yard and on each floor of your home. Diabetes, a fairly common ailment of old age that also increases appetite, could be the culprit.

    Q: Why does my dog toss and turn at night?

    A: She may need an orthopedic dog bed to give her support to counter arthritis. Also, older dogs tend to develop painful elbow calluses that are more comfortable on soft bedding. The urge to urinate or defecate more often can also keep her awake. A syndrome called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), akin to Alzheimer's disease in humans, also affects sleep patterns.

    Q: Why does my dog nap more than ever?

    A: She may just be bored. Decreased stimulation because of poor hearing or sight and less activity because of arthritis can make your dog depressed. The urge to urinate or defecate more can disturb nighttime sleep. Medication and hormonal or heart problems can also make a dog drowsy. Or, CCD could be throwing off your dog's sleep cycle, so that she roams restlessly at night and naps during the day.

    Q: Why has my dog has started bumping into things?

    A: Failing eyesight is a bane of old age, but dogs learn to compensate. Make your home a safe environment with clear walkways. If you need to rearrange furniture, lead the dog around until she gets a feeling for her surroundings. Always greet her with a gentle voice before touching or petting her. Block entrance to stairs so she doesn't fall. Don't let her leave home without a human companion and keep her leashed when she goes out.

    Questions About Senior Dogs

    During your dog’s senior years, you’ll probably observe gradual or sudden changes in health and behavior. Your veterinarian will help determine whether these changes are due to illness, a reaction to medications, or the natural aging process.

    Here are some questions that owners commonly ask about the health, habits and behavior of their older dogs.

    Question: How will medication affect my dog?

    Answer: Medications can cause weight loss or gain, vomiting, depression, lethargy, loss of balance, increased thirst, drooling, shivering or other symptoms that mimic minor or major illness. Ask your veterinarian about common side effects of any medication prescribed for your dog. Be sure to tell him if your dog is already taking another drug, since a combination of drugs can cause side effects. If you think medication is having a negative effect on your dog, call your veterinarian for advice.

    Q: Why is my dog gaining weight?

    A: The aches and pains of old age may prevent your dog from moving as freely as she once did. She may have developed a touch of arthritis or stiffness in the joints. Hormonal changes may also slow down the metabolism. Medications may add extra girth.

    Walk your dog and play with her daily. You’ll have to engage her in gentler activities than when she was young, but she still needs her exercise.

    Discuss changing her diet with your vet. Seniors need nutritious diets that are higher in fiber, but lower in fat and calories. It’s your job to help her keep her weight down, since obesity can make her more susceptible to diabetes, arthritis and heart problems.

    Q: Why is my dog losing weight?

    A: Is she eating? Are her teeth strong and mouth and gums healthy? Is her neck arthritic? She won’t eat if it’s a painful process. Age or medications can reduce her senses of smell and taste, which, of course, decreases her appetite. Metabolic disorders and heart or liver trouble can cause weight loss, regardless of how much she eats.

    Try feeding the dog a veterinary-prescribed diet in frequent, smaller meals. If her memory or eyesight is failing, be sure to put her food and water bowls in the same place every day. To prevent strain on her aging spine, elevate the bowls to the level of her head.

    Q: What if my dog has more than doggy breath?

    A: Tooth or gum disease, accompanied by bumps on the gums or tartar on the teeth, are the most common reasons for extreme doggy breath. If you don’t brush her teeth regularly, ask your vet to show you how. You’ll probably need to do it daily. Chewing on synthetic bones, biscuits or hard rubber toys will help her prevent tartar build-up.

    An unusually foul smell, accompanied by lack of appetite and frequent vomiting, could indicate liver disease. Kidney disease adds a hint of urine to the breath. Very sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, especially if she ‘s been drinking and urinating more than usual.

    Q: Why does my dog seems unusually thirsty?

    A: Is her water bowl convenient? Always keep fresh, cool water available, not only beside her food bowl, but in the yard and on each floor of your home. Diabetes, a fairly common ailment of old age that also increases appetite, could be the culprit.

    Q: Why does my dog toss and turn at night?

    A: She may need an orthopedic dog bed to give her support to counter arthritis. Also, older dogs tend to develop painful elbow calluses that are more comfortable on soft bedding. The urge to urinate or defecate more often can also keep her awake. A syndrome called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), akin to Alzheimer’s disease in humans, also affects sleep patterns.

    Q: Why does my dog nap more than ever?

    A: She may just be bored. Decreased stimulation because of poor hearing or sight and less activity because of arthritis can make your dog depressed. The urge to urinate or defecate more can disturb nighttime sleep. Medication and hormonal or heart problems can also make a dog drowsy. Or, CCD could be throwing off your dog’s sleep cycle, so that she roams restlessly at night and naps during the day.

    Q: Why has my dog has started bumping into things?

    A: Failing eyesight is a bane of old age, but dogs learn to compensate. Make your home a safe environment with clear walkways. If you need to rearrange furniture, lead the dog around until she gets a feeling for her surroundings. Always greet her with a gentle voice before touching or petting her. Block entrance to stairs so she doesn’t fall. Don’t let her leave home without a human companion and keep her leashed when she goes out.

    Keeping Your Bird Safe When Disaster Strikes

    A glance at a weather map in the summer usually shows tropical disturbances lining up in Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf waters, as peak hurricane season approaches. Each year, millions of communities face the risk of forest fires as the air gets warmer and drier. And earthquakes and tornadoes strike with little warning.

    No one can tell you exactly when and where the next man-made or natural disaster will strike. Planning ahead and being prepared will help keep your family, including pets, intact or can help reunite families and lost pets.

    The protection of pets during calamity was strengthened with the agreement between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). These organizations have agreed to cooperate in developing evacuation and sheltering plans for pets. Familiarizing yourself with your community’s disaster plans is an important first step in safeguarding yourself and your pets.

    The following true story underscores the importance of having a plan.

    Don’t Be Caught Unprepared

    Hurricane Floyd, a Category 5 storm, roared up the East Coast in September 1999. Its floods wreaked havoc on pets and their owners. Like thousands of others, Bridget, a 12-year-old Beagle-mix, had her life turned upside down.

    Officials knocked on the door and told Bridget’s owner Margaret to leave her home in Manville, N.J., immediately. A flood was imminent. For health reasons, emergency public shelters allow only service animals inside. So Margaret tied Bridget in the kitchen, near her food bowl, to keep her safe.

    Water seeped in under the door. Bridget jumped on the kitchen table. It began to float. When the water calmed down, her leash was tangled in debris. She could barely move. Two days later, animal rescue workers found her starving and terrified atop a 6-foot pile of rubble. They freed her, and she made it back to Margaret.

    They were among the fortunate. In Floyd’s aftermath, hundreds of cats, dogs and other house pets drowned, suffered wild animal bites, or barely survived intestinal parasites from drinking sewage water. Although the University of North Carolina Veterinary School and other clinics treated hundreds of injured animals, many never saw their owners again.

    Start Planning Now

    If you’re ordered to evacuate, “do everything you can to take your pets with you,” warns Howard White, media relations director for HSUS. “Domestic animals need human care to survive.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advises you to plan ahead and follow the HSUS disaster plan for your pets. It’s similar to the one you have for the rest of your family.

  • Keep a list of all your birds, their names, species, color and any special characteristics. Also list their favorite hiding places.
  • Proof of ownership is very important, so also copy adoption or purchase papers, including microchip information.
  • Keep your pets’ medical records. Birds should be tested and free of psittacosis and tuberculosis. Emergency kennels or animal shelters may require proof of health.
  • Keep enough bird carriers on hand to evacuate all birds. Your nest boxes should be equipped with quick-release latches and a hinge-type cover over the entrance so it can be used as a pet carrier.
  • If your aviary requires a continuous supply of power, purchase a generator to meet the facility’s needs.
  • Install an overhead sprinkler system in the aviary. In case of fire, the system will minimize smoke inhalation and cool the air. Remember, birds are sensitive to smoke and other fumes, and will succumb faster than other animals.
  • If you go to a public shelter, your pet needs other accommodations. Research your options now. Call local emergency management officials to see if they’ve planned for pet shelters. Survey boarding kennels or veterinary clinics along evacuation routes, to ask their emergency policies. Call motels to see if they allow people with pets in emergencies. If nothing’s available, arrange for relatives or friends in a safe area to hold your pets while your home is off limits.
  • Many families designate a person in another town as the contact to call if family members are separated during a disaster.
  • Find a willing neighbor to care for your pets in case you are not at home when a disaster occurs. Make sure the neighbor has a key to your home, is familiar with your pets and knows where your evacuation and first-aid supplies are kept.
  • Provide a signed letter releasing your neighbor from responsibility and a signed veterinary medical treatment authorization form.
  • Keep a permanent, waterproof “Pets Live Here” sign near your doorbell, alerting emergency workers to the kind and number of pets inside.
  • Carry several wallet photos of each pet.
  • Keep a list of important emergency telephone numbers. Include the phone number of your planned evacuation site, a local contact person, an out of state contact person, your veterinarian, an alternate veterinarian at least 30 miles away, a local boarding facility and an alternate boarding facility at least 30 miles away. Also include lists of hotels nearby that accept pets.

    Additional handy phone numbers include animal control, police, fire, public health department, local humane organization, animal shelter and local Red Cross chapter.

  • How to Keep Children Bite-Free From Dogs

    Dog Bites: Keeping Children Safe

    Just about any dog will bite if the circumstances call for it: A dog’s eyes and instincts help him determine when he has been unduly provoked. But there are ways to make your dog less likely to bite – and ways to teach your children how to avoid being bitten.

    Each year, about 2 percent of the U.S. population is bitten by dogs – by no means always by strange dogs, guard dogs, or poorly bred pit bulls. In 1994, for example, it is estimated that about 4.7 million people were bitten. Of the 800,000 who saw a doctor, more than half were children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 300 people died as a result of dog bite-related injuries between 1979 and 2000. The majority of them were children; the next largest group of victims was the elderly.

    Which Dogs Bite?

    It’s deceptive to go down a list of dogs and check off the breeds that bite. Pit bulls, German shepherds, Rottweilers and sled-dog types lead many lists. But the statistics may conceal as much as they reveal. For example, some owners intentionally choose dogs with “dangerous” reputations, seeking out sellers known for breeding aggressive puppies

    and then training the dogs to be aggressive.

    On the other hand, there’s no shortage of people who claim that their gently bred pit-bull mix has a sense of humor, is smart and eager to please, and makes a good companion for the kids. To further prove that any breed can bite, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association points out that more than 30 breeds have been involved in fatal attacks since 1975, including dachshunds, a Yorkshire terrier and a Lab.

    Factors besides breed may make a dog more prone to bite. As a rule, dogs bite out of fear, to defend their territory, or to establish their dominance. By eliminating certain factors, you can minimize the possibility that your dog will bite or attack another person – or another dog.

    Helping Your Dog to NOT Bite

  • Spay or neuter your dog to reduce aggression. Most dogs that bite are not sterilized.
  • Socialize your dog so he remains calm and confident in many situations, among people of different ages, abilities, and races. Include him in family activities, give him the exercise he needs, and don’t leave him alone for long periods of time.
  • Train your dog so he knows how to behave and so you can control him with commands. Watch him closely if he is in an unfamiliar situation. If he protects his territory when someone new visits your home, keep him in another room when you answer the door.
  • Don’t teach your dog aggressive behaviors. Don’t wrestle or play “sic” attack games. Dogs don’t distinguish between play and reality.
  • Teach your dog submissive behaviors, like rolling over and letting

    you scratch his belly.

  • Never leave your infant or young child alone with a dog.
  • Be a responsible dog owner. Obey leash and licensing laws. Vaccinate him against rabies and keep the dog warm, fed and healthy.
  • If your dog growls, nips or bites at people or other animals, consult your veterinarian, a behaviorist, or a knowledgeable trainer immediately.
  • Teaching Your Children About Dogs

    Because their energetic, bouncing movements resemble that of a dog’s natural prey, children are particularly vulnerable to dogs. Youngsters also are more likely to be bitten on the face. Here’s how children and adults can avoid being bitten and defend themselves if attacked.

  • Teach your kids to stay away from strange dogs. Dogs confined in a yard or chained up are more likely to bite.
  • Never look a dog in the eye.
  • Before you approach a dog, ask the owner if you can pet him.
  • Before you pet a dog, make sure he sees you. Offer your fist so that he can sniff it before you open your hand to touch him. But don’t force your hand into his personal space – rather, allow him to approach your hand, that is, if he wants to. Stroke the side of his head. Patting the top of his head can seem like a dominant, threatening action to some dogs.
  • Do not disturb a dog who is eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies. The element of surprise can make a dog afraid or defensive.
  • If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, stand still, with your arms at

    your sides. Never run away from a dog.

  • If a dog attacks you, give him your purse, your bike, or your jacket to chew on. Slowly back away until there is a park bench, a tree, or a car, between you and him.
  • If a dog knocks you down, roll into a ball, protecting your face, and lie still until he goes away.
  • What to Expect in Your Puppy’s First Eight Weeks

    A puppy‘s relationships with his mother and littermates during the first 8 weeks of his life determine his personality and what kind of companion he’ll be for your family. He and his littermates will test one another and learn when to be dominant or submissive. For most of this period, his mother will provide for his basic needs, teaching him discipline and how to play.

    Nature has given most canine mothers an instinctive nurturing ability. Of course, the mother herself must be healthy, secure and disciplined. If she is stressed or overbred, her ability to nurture her litter will be severely compromised. Responsible breeders support the mother and provide a warm, quiet environment. If a pregnant dog or newborn puppies are turned into a shelter, caring, knowledgeable humans can fill a similar role, even hand-rearing puppies if necessary.

    Puppies develop rapidly. At birth, they are blind and deaf. They can’t eliminate on their own, nor can they regulate their body heat. But they grow so quickly that you can witness their progress from day to day. Here is a basic guide to a puppy’s first few weeks of life:

    Weeks 1 and 2

    While her newborn puppies spend 90 percent of their time sleeping, a mother’s instincts tell her to keep them huddled together for warmth: A chill can kill them. Although the puppies can’t see or hear, their senses of smell and touch guide them to mom’s nipples. During the first few days, her milk will provide them with antibodies that will help them survive for 6 to 10 weeks. She also licks their tummies and genitals to help them urinate and defecate.

    A tiny newborn’s legs are so weak he can barely wriggle his way to the nearby nipple and the comfort of his siblings. During sleep, twitching movements, called activated sleep, help strengthen his legs. If the mother allows, the breeder or other main caretaker can begin to pick up each pup several times a day. This early, gentle human touch will help the dog bond with people later on.

    Week 3

    During the third week, your puppy’s senses open up. He can detect light, dark and movement and begins to respond to sudden or loud sounds. As he paws and mouths his littermates, he builds early social skills. He can relieve himself on his own now. Although he is not ready to wean, you might want to introduce him to a taste of veterinarian-prescribed puppy gruel. By the end of the week, your puppy can crawl; his tail begins to wag.

    Weeks 4 and 5

    Quickly gaining strength and coordination, the puppy begins to respond to his environment. He can bark, stand, walk, run, even pounce. His mother teaches him to eliminate away from his sleeping area.

    He learns to play by wrestling with his littermates. When he’s nipped too hard or is batted back by a defensive sibling, he learns the difference between hard and soft biting. At this point, puppies are forever testing their limits and take turns sleeping at the top and bottom of the sibling pile. Hunting and chasing instincts kick in, so this is a good time to introduce your pup to toys.

    The mother dog referees when playtime gets too rough. She may nudge or restrain an errant pup, or she may growl at him, teaching the puppy discipline and acclimating him to the process of training. If they’re not properly socialized, orphaned dogs raised without a mother and littermates may have a hard time relating to their human leaders, and to other dogs, as well.

    Toward the end of this period, it’s time for the caretaker’s family to become more involved with the young dog. This familiarizes him with the everyday smells and sounds of a modern household, including appliances, children and assorted adults.

    Since he’s cutting his first teeth, his mother begins to wean him. She might chew her food and then regurgitate it for her puppies to eat.

     

    Weeks 6 and 7

    At this point, the puppy’s muzzle will lengthen and he’ll begin to look more like the adults of his breed. His emotions will become apparent, too: He’ll whine to show fear, whimper when hurt and bark when he’s excited or wants attention.

    The mother’s role evolves to that of pack leader as her brood matures. Her pups are weaned now, since they have teeth and can eat solid food. She is affectionate and playful with them, teasing them with toys and showing them when to bite and when not to. She lets them know she’s the dominant dog and corrects them sharply if they misbehave.

    How Long Will My Dog Live?

    How Long Do Dogs Live? 

    Just like people, dogs slow down as they grow older. Their hair turns gray, their eyes dim, their bodies lose tone and energy. They become more susceptible to illness, less adaptable to change and even forgetful as time marches on. They look to you for help and comfort. How long do dogs live and when is your dog old? 

    When Is Your Dog “Old”?

    The old rule-of-thumb that one dog year equals 7 years of a human life is not exact. The ratio is higher with youth and decreases a bit as your dog ages. Depending on the breed, a dog experiences the raging hormones of adolescence anywhere from 8 months to 2 years or more. Generally, a dog of 6 has aged about as much as a 45-year-old human. At 10, she’s like a human of 65; at 12, a human of 75; and at 15, a human of 90.

    You are the best judge of your dog’s stage of life. Even if she is in the best of health, it’s important that you notice when your dog begins to show her age. After years of constant companionship, however, you may not see the first subtle signs of decline. No matter how close you are, your dog does not know how to communicate little aches and pains, and even some bigger discomforts to you. She doesn’t understand what’s happening to her when she can’t run as fast or jump as high.

    When to Screen for Aging in Dogs

    Most veterinarians recommend that your dog be screened for the symptoms of aging and then come for twice-yearly visits when she is a senior. To determine when it’s time for the first screening, you have to understand how your dog’s medical history and breed might hasten or stave off her senior symptoms. Then, factor in these recommendations:

  • For dogs over 80 pounds, begin geriatric screening between ages 4 and 6.
  • For dogs 51 to 80 pounds, begin to screen between 6 and 8.
  • For dogs 16 to 50 pounds, begin to screen between 7 and 9.
  • For dogs 15 pounds or less, begin to screen between 9 and 11.
  •  

    Dogs are Living Longer Lives

    Since the 1930s, the canine life span has increased more than 70 percent, from seven years to 12! And that’s just the average. With advances in veterinary care and nutrition and more knowledgeable owners, many good-sized dogs now live to 14.

    Of course, no one can really predict how long an individual dog will live. There’s always the possibility of unpredictable illness or accident. Or, a genetic predisposition to disease may lurk in your dog’s genes. But generally speaking, the larger the breed, the faster it ages.

    Giant breeds – even pampered and exercised St. Bernards – can begin to show their years as early as four and have a life expectancy of 7 to 11 years. The chihuahua is the smallest breed, with adults weighing between 2 and 9 pounds. They can live 18 years or more. Certain breeds do better than others, as do mixed breeds. On average, smaller mutts and mutts with dominant genes from smaller breeds live longest.

    Vets can’t yet explain why length of life varies so much with size. “We think of large dogs as having a different metabolism, as living their allotted time faster than smaller dogs,” says Dr. Harold Zweighaft of New York City.

    Life Spans By Dog Breed

    The following list of predicted life spans shows how long various breeds may live.

  • 7-10 years. Great Dane, Newfoundland, Cavalier King Charles spaniel. (Mitral valve disease may affect 50 percent of these toy spaniels in North America.)
  • 9-11 years. St. Bernard, bloodhound, chow chow, boxer, French bulldog. (Von Willebrand’s disease, akin to human hemophilia, can impede blood clotting in Frenchies.)
  • 10-13 years. Airedale terrier, Dalmatian, golden retriever, German shepherd, Scottish terrier. (Scotties also may inherit von Willebrand’s.)
  • 12-15 years. Beagle, bichon frise, collie, Doberman, papillon, Pomeranian.
  • 14-16 years. Boston terrier, cairn terrier, cocker spaniel, Welsh corgi, Irish setter, Parson Russell terrier, Maltese terrier, poodle (standard), schnauzer, shih tzu, West Highland White terrier, Yorkshire terrier.
  • 15-18 years. Dachshund, poodle (miniature and toy), Chihuahua.

    It’s up to you to maintain your dog’s health and sense of security and to make sure that she’s able to enjoy her natural athletic ability as long as possible. You must be perceptive, noticing changes in your dog’s moods and habits. It takes love and commitment to help your dog navigate old age, but it will be returned in kind.