Does My Dog Have Allergies?

If you notice your dog is itching a lot more than usual or seems to have a runny nose, this can be an indication that they are suffering from allergies. Dogs will often develop seasonal allergies, which means they’re more likely to react to certain allergens in their environment at certain times of the year. This is why you can suddenly notice an increase in this activity as if it started out of nowhere. It’s important to note that while allergies are often seasonal, they can also be year-round though.

Seasonal allergies in dogs can be caused by pollen, mold, grasses, trees, weeds, and even dust mites.

If you suspect that your dog has a seasonal allergy, the first thing you should do is schedule a visit with your vet. The vet will examine the dog and determine if there are any physical symptoms present. If there are, he or she may take samples from the dog’s skin or fur for testing. Those tests will determine whether or not your dog has an allergy and what types of allergens may be causing it.

Things like fungi or mold spores can also cause allergic reactions in dogs. There are also things like bacteria – Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes – for example, that can be present.  It’s important to have the vet run these tests to figure out what exactly is causing your dog’s allergies.

Allergy symptoms in dogs can be skin rashes as well as respiratory issues. They may also have gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and vomiting if they’re allergic to something they eat or drink regularly (like grasses).

Other signs to look for are if your dog struggles to breathe and seems to be wheezing or coughing a lot, this is a sign that they might be suffering from allergies.

Another sign that your dog might have allergies is ear infections. If a dog is constantly scratching at their ears, which is often a symptom of an allergy, it’s important to get them to a vet to rule out any other issues and help them get some relief.

If you think your dog might have an allergy, it’s important for you to take her to the vet for testing. The vet will be able to run tests and tell you what kind of allergy she has and what kind of treatment options are available for her condition.

Possible treatments could include antihistamines and immunotherapy (allergy shots).

To help alleviate some of these allergy issues for your dog, it’s important to keep a dog’s environment clean by sweeping or vacuuming regularly to remove allergens from the home or even using a HEPA filter vacuum to control what gets sucked up into the machine. For those dogs that have indoor/outdoor lifestyles, you may not be able to avoid allergens completely; however, experts do recommend at least keeping them indoors when there are high pollen warnings happening.

Does Your Dog Have a Fitness Routine?

Physical fitness is critical. For humans and for our furry friends. Many breeds of dogs thrive off of the ability to exert the energy that comes naturally to them through play, time outdoors, and an actual fitness regimen.

First, no matter what breed or age of your dog, everyone needs physical activity for strength and for mental health as well. Short walks around the neighborhood tossing a ball or even running with your dog may be what’s needed to help them feel their best. It’s important to understand your specific pup and his needs.

For example, if you have a sports dog – one that was bred for work in the wilderness – hunting and long days of work, you want to factor this into how much exercise they’re getting. A short walk may not be enough for them to exert their full potential for the day. You may want to consider something a little more strenuous.

Large breed working dogs differ in that while they can also handle heavy workouts their preference is more task-driven and steady-paced. Instead of high-intensity jogging with your dog, think about a hike up moderate terrain for 1-2 hours. This type of activity is what allows these dogs to use what they’re born with in terms of physical strengths and energy.

For those with small breed dogs, short and interactive fun works best. These types of dogs don’t want to max out their heart rates but would rather play small games of fetch or hide and seek or take short walks.

There are many different breeds, mixes, and types of dogs and while they were originally bred to do one thing, they’ve long been doing things differently so be sure you know your dog’s limits and what constitutes an enjoyable activity for them or something that could be pushing them beyond their limit and could lead to injury.

If you want to give your pet freedom to run around and enjoy the backyard at your home, then a connected hidden fence is just what you need. The DogWatch intelligent pet containment system keeps your dog safe within the boundaries you’ve set and also offers you the ability to stay connected to them at all times.

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The Root Causes of Excessive Scratching in Dogs

Spring brings showers, flowers, and nicer weather. For dogs, it can also bring parasites that cause itchy skin conditions. While all dogs need a good scratch now and then, if your dog is showing excessive scratching, it may be due to an underlying cause that requires treatment. 

If your dog is showing signs of frequent scratching, biting, licking, or shaking, it may be time to investigate for parasites – particularly fleas or ticks – as a cause. Fleas, ticks, and other parasites bite your pet’s sensitive skin, and the resulting itching (known to the medical world as pruritis) will lead to telltale behavior in your pet, particularly if the dog is hypersensitive to flea saliva. Regardless of the reason, if your dog is showing signs of excessive itching, it’s important to identify the source of the problem as quickly as possible to keep your pooch healthy. 

Fleas

Fleas are small flightless insects that survive as external parasites of mammals and birds. Essentially, they live on animals and bite to consume their blood. (And yes, humans can get fleas, too). Untreated fleas can cause health problems for your dog, so it’s important to consult with a vet and find the right flea treatment and prevention regimen. 

Ticks

Ticks are common throughout North America and often return with a vengeance in the spring. While your dog may love to snuffle about in the undergrowth or in piles of old leaves, these are the primary places dogs pick up ticks. Ticks are parasitic arachnids that are part of the mite family, and like fleas, they thrive on blood. Ticks can also carry dangerous pathogens – Lyme disease, just for starters – that can lead to illness in animals and humans. The good news is that many of the treatments for fleas in animals are also highly effective against ticks. 

Infections

Your dog’s itching problem may not always be caused by parasites. Bacterial and fungal infections of the skin can lead to itching, as well. When the dog scratches, it may open up small skin wounds, leading to scabs and discharge that can further irritate the skin. These small infection “hot spots” can make your beloved pet miserable. 

Allergies

Like humans, pets can have allergies, and these allergies often manifest as skin conditions. Dogs can be allergic to certain foods, or they can show sensitivity to pollens, molds, dust, and grass. You’ll need a vet to help you identify the cause of your dog’s allergy so you can limit its exposure to the allergen. You may also need medication, oral or topical, to reduce the itchiness. 

A vet can help root out the cause of your dog’s itchiness and guide you to the appropriate treatment to relieve the symptoms. Solving your dog’s itch means he or she is able to enjoy the outdoors without the resulting scratching. 

DogWatch of Western Mass is committed to providing the safest, most effective electronic pet fences on the market. DogWatch has proudly served the Pioneer Valley and surrounding areas since 1990 and belongs to the international DogWatch Dealer Network. We are committed, trained professionals offering years of experience in installation, training, and customer service. Being locally owned, we have a vested interest to keep our customers – and their pets — happy!

Tips for Keeping Your Pets Healthy

We love our animals. They’re family members, and they bring us great joy and comfort. For this reason, we have an obligation to keep them happy and healthy. Following are tips for keeping your pet – dogs and cats in this case – in top health. 

Watch your pets’ weight. While many of us are frequently trying to lose a few extra pounds, we’re far less likely to notice problems with our pets’ weight. According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, about 59.5 percent of cats and 55.8 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. While a fluffy pet may seem “cute,” excess weight can cut animals’ lives short and lead to a host of health problems such as diabetes and cancer. Listen to your vet at your pet’s annual appointment. If the vet believes your dog or cat needs to slim down, follow her advice, and change the amount of food and the manner in which you’re feeding your pet. (And skip the high-calorie treats, or at least reduce the frequency.) It’s an important step for keeping your pet healthy for as long as possible. 

Be careful with human food. Many human foods are good for pets. For example, kale, carrots, and salmon are excellent nutritional boosts for dogs. The problem is that many human foods can be toxic to pets. Chocolate, milk, or avocado are dangerous for dogs. Onions and garlic, liver, and bread dough containing yeast are all toxic to cats. Before you give your pets any human food treats, make sure the foods are appropriate for them. (And remember…not too many!) If you plan to pursue a whole food diet for your pets, consult with a veterinarian first to make sure your pets are getting all the nutrients they need and not eating anything harmful to their health. 

Feed your pet high-quality pet food. Not all pet foods are the same. While the brand you buy may be saving you money, it may be harming your pet’s health. The food grade that is best for your pet will be determined by the animal’s age, type, and activity levels. While it’s always desirable to feed veterinary-quality food to pets, it may be cost-prohibitive for you. When you choose your pet’s food, read the ingredients label on the bag or can. The first ingredient should be something like “chicken” or “beef” instead of fillers and byproducts like corn, wheat gluten, soybean meal, etc. Ask your vet for a recommendation on good pet food that will fit your budget. 

Don’t skip the veterinary appointments. It may be tempting to put off vet appointments. They can be expensive and time-consuming, and chances are, your pet doesn’t enjoy them. But just as with humans, many health problems, if caught early, are fixable. For this reason, it’s critical that you get your pet checked out by a qualified veterinary practitioner once a year, or more often if you notice any unusual or troubling symptoms in the animal. 

Ensure exercise in your pets. Walking with your dog is one of the best ways for both dogs and humans to get the daily exercise they need. While it may not be possible every day, ensure you’re getting out for a good walk at least most days. Indoor cats also need exercise. If your cat has outgrown the “active kitten” stage, consider setting aside times to play with your cat using a laser pointer or other cat toy. Buy or build a “cat tree” that will encourage the cat to climb several times each day. 

For dogs, consider allowing the animal to roam and play in your yard freely with the help of an electronic fence. DogWatch of Western Mass is committed to providing the safest, most effective electronic pet fences on the market. DogWatch has proudly served the Pioneer Valley and surrounding areas since 1990 and belongs to the international DogWatch Dealer Network. We are committed, trained professionals offering years of experience in installation, training, and customer service. Being locally owned, we have a vested interest to keep our customers – and their pets — happy!

Dogs & Dental Disease

Did you know your pet can suffer from tooth loss pain and other common dental issues we face as humans? It’s true. Dogs rely heavily on their teeth for the things they do when eating, playing, and more. It’s important that we take care of their pearly whites, not just for oral health but also to ensure they don’t suffer from any unnecessary ailments too.

Dental disease is a pretty big issue in the dog community as it affects approximately 80 percent of dogs.

The problem is that once gingivitis sets in and is not taken care of, it becomes an infection that spreads deeper into the tooth socket. Over time the bone wears down and the tooth becomes loose and may even fall out. It’s also very painful for dogs. Just like humans, you should help remove plaque from around the teeth and gums before it becomes mineralized. Brushing with pet-friendly toothpaste, encouraging chew toys that help scrape some of the debris away can all help.

Here are some key signs to look for that could point to a dental issue occurring in your pet.

As always be sure to contact a trusted veterinarian and take the right steps to protect their teeth ahead of time.

1.                Bad Breath

Once bacteria have built up around the tooth it can lead to bad breath in your dog. If you notice a foul odor coming from your dog’s teeth, be sure you’re taking the time to examine if they have any issues like cavities, inflamed gums that should be noted to the vet. Also, take the time to have their teeth cleaned to remove the plaque.

2.                Excessive Drool

Some breeds of dogs are known to slobber more than others, but it’s important to pay attention to the drool that’s coming from your dog’s mouth. If you notice there is more happening, it could be pointing to an issue – especially a dental one that needs attention. Once there is a problem happening with their gums, dogs will start to drool as a natural response to try to help alleviate the problem.

3.                Trouble Eating

One of the best ways to tell if your dog is having issues with its teeth is to pay attention to its eating habits. Are they eating less than usual? Refusing food altogether or showing signs that they are in pain when they chew? All of this can point to a dental issue you’ll want to pay attention to.

At DogWatch, we care about your dog as much as you do! Our hidden dog fence systems and training equipment keep your pup away from dangerous areas, and safe in your yard or in the perimeters you define indoors. Get freedom and flexibility while keeping your dog safe!

4 Reasons Your Dog is Licking Its Paws

Paw licking may seem like an innocent action by your pet. Isn’t that after all how cats clean themselves? But for many dog owner’s the licking can sometimes become continual and cause even greater issues for the dog. It’s important to know what if your dog won’t stop licking his paws, there could be more happening.

Here are 4 underlying reasons for your dog’s incredibly annoying and constant paw licking habit.

1. Injury or Parasite

Licking at a wound could be an issue for your dog. If they’ve returned from time outdoors they could have cut or scrapped their paw if you notice they’re suddenly licking away at it, you’ll want to check to be sure they’re not injured as the wound should be cleaned and monitored to prevent infection. Even if there are no visible cuts there could be issues like parasites or fleas making your dog super itchy and irritated and licking is the only thing he can do to try to soothe it.

2. Skin problems

Other skin problems caused by bacteria or dermatitis could also be leaving your dog in an uncomfortable situation which leads to constant licking. Even allergies to freshly cut grass or other environmental contaminants could trigger this reaction. If you know your dog has allergies or is getting dirty while outside it makes sense to keep a towel and some water to wipe down their paw and coat when they come back indoors.

3. Food allergies

Speaking of allergies, did you know food allergies could also present themselves in the form of itchy paws? According to the AKC, ingredients in your dog’s food that they are allergic to could leave to paw issues. If you recently changed food and notice this is happening it’s a good idea to check the ingredient list and try switching to a different brand to see if it alleviates the problem.

4.      Boredom or Anxiety

The final reason and most common one for your dog licking constantly at its paws is boredom. Exercise and playtime are so important for pups, older dogs, and some breeds. Without a daily walk (or two) and time spent getting tired, they can become irritated and bored and start licking at their paws to keep occupied. Make it a point to set aside time to play with your dog even if it’s just a few minutes of tossing the ball in the yard, they will thank you by remaining calm and quiet for the rest of the night.

Acupuncture for Dogs and Cats

Pets suffer from some of the same health problems that humans do, and they can benefit from some of the same treatments. Although people often think that ailments should be treated with medication, holistic treatments such as acupuncture can be effective and don’t have some of the side effects that are common with prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

How Can Acupuncture Help Pets?

Acupuncture is a type of holistic care that focuses on the body, mind, and spirit. For dogs and cats suffering from inflammation, pain, arthritis, limited mobility, anxiety, digestive problems, skin conditions, and allergies, acupuncture can be helpful. Acupuncture needles can stimulate the nervous system, improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain. Acupuncture may be used in addition to or instead of other treatments, such as medication.

How Does Acupuncture for Dogs and Cats Work?

Acupuncture treatments for pets are very similar to acupuncture treatments for humans. If your pet needs treatment, a veterinarian will first examine the animal and discuss its medical history. The veterinarian will insert thin acupuncture needles into your pet’s skin at specific locations to stimulate the nervous system. The needles are generally left in the skin for approximately 20 minutes.

The process isn’t painful. It may cause anxiety for your pet at first, but dogs and cats generally relax after a short time. Your pet may feel stiff or sore for a day or two after receiving acupuncture treatment.

Not all veterinarians offer acupuncture services. Acupuncture for pets should only be performed by a veterinarian with appropriate training. If your pet’s current veterinarian doesn’t offer acupuncture services, ask for the name of a qualified provider in your area.

Keep Your Pet Safe from Harm

Pets often need acupuncture and other forms of care because of injuries. While it’s not possible to prevent all injuries, you should do as much as you can to keep your pet safe. One way to protect your dog from harm is to keep it in your yard when you’re not taking it for a walk or a ride in the car.

Constructing a physical fence around your property can be expensive, and it can block the view of the neighborhood and the landscape surrounding your home. In addition, a fence can require expensive and time-consuming maintenance.

An outdoor hidden fence is an effective way to keep your dog in your yard, and it’s more affordable and easier to maintain than a physical barrier. An outdoor hidden fence can encircle the perimeter of your yard, or you can give your dog access to a portion of the property and keep other areas, such as a garden, off-limits.

DogWatch of Massachusetts has been making hidden fence systems since 1990. We’ve earned a reputation for selling quality containment and training products and for providing customer service with honesty and integrity. Contact your local dealer today to learn more.

Tips for Soothing Your Dog’s Heat Rash

The summer weather has been dangerously hot this year in New England. At the time of this post, we’re undergoing a record heatwave and parts of the nation are experiencing temperatures well above 100 degrees. While most dog owners know this weather is not a time to keep the dog outside, go for long walks or even take them for a drive, your dog could still experience problems due to the overall sticky, warm temperatures.

If your dog has a heat rash here are some things you can do to help keep them comfortable. You should always see a vet ensure the rash is irritation and not anything else – but even after they may have prescribed antibiotics or other topical – your dog may still show signs of being itchy or stressed over the rash.

Keep the Area Cool and Dry

While you’re waiting for your dog’s skin to recover, it’s important to help keep the area cool and dry. Anytime they get overheated and moisture sits on their coat and skin, there is the possibility for rashes and irritations to occur. When your dog is in from the outdoors before to give them a cool wipe down with dog wipes.

Stop Scratching & Licking

While your dog might not be able to help himself with all of the itchings and licking to soothe the rash it can lead to more issues so it’s important to keep them distracted or use “the cone” to divert them from the action while it all heals.

Use Topical Creams and Medicine

Depending on how serious the rash – or sometimes the resulting infection can be, your dog may have to take medicine like antibiotics or topical medicines to soothe the rash. If you have prescribed these meds it’s important to take them for the full recommended time to ensure that all infections are cleared up properly.

Keeping Your Doggy Cool Outside During the Hot Summer Months

Your dog may enjoy going along on trips to the beach and hikes in the woods during the summer, but you need to keep it safe in the heat. Know how to help your dog maintain a healthy body temperature and how to spot signs that it’s struggling to cope.

Don’t Expose Your Dog to Extreme Heat

If possible, keep your dog indoors if the temperature and/or humidity are particularly high. If you have a choice, take your dog for a walk or hike in the morning, before it gets too hot, or in the evening, after it’s cooled off.

If your dog has to stay outside during the day, make sure that it has a shady area where it can relax. A doghouse has poor air circulation, so it’s best to let your dog stay in an open area. Give the dog plenty of cool water. If you’ll be gone for a significant amount of time, put ice cubes in the water.

Never leave your dog in a parked car for any amount of time, even with the windows open. The temperature can get dangerously high in a short amount of time.

Avoid Surfaces That Could Burn Your Dog’s Paws

Pavement can get extremely hot on a sunny day and can burn the pads on your dog’s paws, even if it’s wearing protective boots. If the pavement feels hot to the touch, keep your dog off it. Stay inside, let your dog play on grass, or take it for a walk on a shaded trail.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated When Participating in Outdoor Activities

If take your dog along when you spend time outside, stop every 15 to 20 minutes to let it drink some cool water. Don’t give it too much water at one time. If possible, let your dog go swimming or run through a sprinkler to cool off. If your pet is panting excessively, move it to a shady area and give it more water.

Recognize Signs of Heatstroke

Pay attention to your dog’s breathing, energy level, and other cues when you spend time outdoors. If your dog seems tired or lethargic, or if its ears or tail droop, those are signs that it’s struggling to deal with the heat. Take a break from physical activity, give the dog some water, and let it rest.

If your dog pants or salivates excessively, vomits, has diarrhea or seizures, or seems disoriented or uncomfortable, it may be suffering from heatstroke. Take your pet to a cooler place and contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Keep Your Dog Safe While It Plays in the Yard

Exercising outdoors is good for your dog’s physical and mental health, but you need to be sure that it won’t run away and get injured by a car or another animal. A hidden fence from DogWatch of Massachusetts can keep your dog safe in the yard and give it the freedom to play. Contact us today to learn more.

Keep Your Dog Active

Staying active is something we’re told will help us to feel better – it improves circulation, boosts heart health, and even helps us drop pounds. The same is true for your dog. Not only do they love time outdoors playing catch with the ball – but many breeds are born to work. What feels like a long walk for you is something that physically feels good for them.

On days when the weather is poor or during cold seasons when all were outdoors less, you can tell the seasonal slump they get into. It’s because they miss the activity and using their bodies. This is also one of the reasons why it’s so important to find ways to keep your dog active.

Void of physical movement, your dog can be at risk for anxiety and also lack necessary mental stimulation.

Here are some great ways you can increase exercise for your dog including indoors.     

Play Hide and Seek or Tug of War

If you’ve ever noticed your dog’s tail begin to wag the moment you pull out a rope or tug toy then you know how fond they are of this game. There’s something about interacting with their human companion in a game of pull and tug. It’s also a great game to teach them safe play and keep their heart rate up.

Another great indoor game that offers a chance for dogs to run about and get in their daily movement is Hide and seek. Just like little kids love this game, many pups will be overjoyed at looking all around the rooms in the house and sniffing around and under things looking for what’s been hidden.

Doggy Play Dates

This is a great way to get your dog moving and feeling good and can be done in an indoor or outdoor setting. Schedule a time with someone you know and a pup that is also a good socialize. Bring some toys and treats and let them do their thing. They’ll thank you at the end of the day for a chance to be around another dog and release all of their energy playing.

Workout Partner  

Most of us have gained weight during the lockdowns of 2020 and are now working to reverse the extra baggage. Add your dog into that new workout regimen because it’s mutually beneficial for you both! Even if you hit the gym before work still add in a nightly walk or jog – it can only help to speed up your progress or grab a football and get out there tossing the ball with your dog – you’ll both be winded, getting a great workout and staying healthy.